March 2017  

Prayer Seeds
 (Ave Maria Press, 2017)
By Joyce Rupp, O.S.M.
Some of best-selling author Joyce Rupp's most popular books have been collections of her original prayers, blessings, poems and reflections. Now just released is Prayer Seeds - A Gathering of Blessings, Reflections, and Poems for Spiritual Growth. Here, she offers almost a hundred new selections on a variety of themes - compassion, ministry, difficult times, impor-
tant events and feasts and seasons of the liturgical year. All are suitable for personal or group prayer, and are organized thematically.  Joyce's warmth and closeness to God, along with her sensitivity to the joy and sadness of life, make her an ideal prayer companion.

To purchase Prayer Seeds:

One Path to Purposeful Writing 
By Diane Douiyssi (Bloomington, IL)

Diane,a life coach and writing mentor, helps writers remove obstacles in their lives and to their writing, and helps them bring their words into the world.  --MKS 

Our culture dictates that good people are productive, and in the Midwest, hardworking people create things that have purpose. Even though I was writing every day, my non-writing time was becoming a contest, between my inner self that delighted in writing for no purpose other than joy, and my social self that was flailing about, looking for an assignment to complete, for something to create.
Then I found an amazing online writing program. I'd done a few online courses in the past, but I'd always been vaguely disappointed. Sarah Selecky's online class, The Story Course, however, is different. First, it's a beautiful online experience, with a gorgeous and welcoming layout. The course contains a blend of how-to text, video tutorials, stunning story examples and writing exercises that let you graze the surface and dive deep into writing the concepts.  There are chapters you can print out if you like the gravitas of paper or you can scroll and read online - and it's all
optimized for mobile.
In the course's seven parts, I learned and played with the finer points of free writing, starting a story, character development, dialogue, plot, point of view and receptive reading.  And once you pay for the course you have access to the materials forever. No time limits, no hurry to complete before the links expire.  This became even more valuable as I had an unexpected family health issue arise a few weeks in and I had to put the course on temporary hold.
Selecky understands that our state of mind deeply influences what we bring to our writing. She is able to convey "the how" of writing that lives beyond the craft. Taking this course, for example, made me believe I could remember again. As a busy mom with a full-time corporate job before taking this course I deeply questioned my ability to pull forth details from my past that were needed to enrich my stories. I would sit and stare at my notebook with only vague recollection of what I thought should be important moments. After an exercise in Chapter 1 on free writing though, I found myself writing about things I thought I'd long since left in my childhood. And by delving into the finer points of creative writing, the course offered me a new level of confidence in my writing skills that hadn't existed before, which further fueled my desire to keep writing.
As I moved through the lessons, I felt purposeful in my writing and eagerly looked forward to the next chapter. Ideas and words flowed without resistance. After working through The Story Course, I had the seeds of a strong story and had developed pages and pages of creative writing to support it. In its own way, the course itself had become the answer to creating something.
For The Story Course:
For Story Is a State of Mind school:  
To learn about working with a life coach or writing mentor:

Greetings from Mary Kay Shanley

It was a one-page article in my Creighton alumni magazine, the last I read before turning out the light that night. By sunrise the next morning, the story had nestled into my soul.
Louis Rotella III, also a C.U. alum and fifth-generation baker of bread - Rotella's Italian Bakery in Omaha - had written a children's book. The Little King and His Marshmallow Kingdom is based on Louis and Jill's  first-born, Louis IV, a diabetic with Down syndrome. The title is apt since Louis, now 16, has loved marshmallows all his life.  In fact, when he and Mom go shopping, he sneaks a package (or two?) into the cart. And breakfast is an egg sandwich, cheese, apple juice and four marshmallows.
The book title is also apt because the author sees his son as a wise and funny sage. "In the book, the king reigns over a whimsical land where marshmallows are the daily bread, 
'normal' is overrated and everybody has different yet wonderful gifts to contribute,"
Author Louis says.
The book's lessons, however, are anything but puffed up:Everyone is unique and should be treated with dignity; all of us deserve respect and should help others. (In that helping-others vein, one of the illustrations depicts Louis pushing his cousin in a wheel chair after he'd broken his leg.)
Before Louis was born, his father harbored dreams that this son might become an all-star athlete. But no. In soccer, he ran at the slowest possible motion, on purpose and happy. "Accepting that was a lesson in strong stuff," Dad says. "I know now if I'd told him the object of the game was to take the ball down the field and shoot it into the goal,
Louis III & IV
Louis III &
Louis IV
 Louis would have almost pitied me for thinking that. For him, soccer is about being in the sun, feeling the breeze, playing with his friends. For him, soccer doesn't have anything to do with winning."
The alum magazine article recorded that Louis IV's "worldview isn't as clogged by the filters accumulated through language and cognitive patterning.  Rather, his 'beginner's mind' opens to life more in the moment, which is the only place where life's magic and mystery are possible."
Surely it must have been life's magic and mystery that in 2016 took Louis, Mom, Dad, sister Mia and brother Nikjo to the Be Beautiful Be Yourself Fashion Show produced by the Global Down Syndrome Foundation (Denver, CO).  There, Louis was honored as the 2016's Foundation Ambassador. Among other highlights, he got to meet Queen Latifah, Payton Manning, Jamie Fox and Matt Dillon. Or maybe it was they who got to meet Louis.
Today, he's a busy sophomore at Elkhorn (NE) High School. His favorite subjects are math and reading. And he loves bowling class, where he throws the ball down the lane, turns around and immediately starts celebrating.
You and I may never have an opportunity to meet Louis Rotella IV. And that will be our loss. Because he exudes an unabashed love of life. And because, like others with Down syndrome, he is making the world a better place.
To purchase The Little King:
Click here to watch Louis IV's journey on Youtube. 

To learn more about Down Syndrome:
To order really good bakery products (shipped nationwide):

The Memoirist
By Jacqueline Devine (West Des Moines)

The past seldom lives up to its reputation.

Diminished by loss of dimension, scenes fade to pale watercolor images,

And nameless people pass unrecognized as hollow placeholders.

Sharp emotions once so vivid they became life burdens vanish into breathless air.

These are only some of the challenges of memoir - the plucky bounty hunter

Of memory - tracking down elusive shadows and half-forgotten smiles,

Arresting all that skips its bail with failure to appear.

The author shares: I wrote this because of a sense of urgency to record my lifetime of memories before they fade like twilight. In all honesty, reaching back in time, I often come up empty-handed or with only scraps of material. I guess that's why people make quilts.