good for the soul

5 things I learned at a women’s conference

Posted by on Oct 24, 2017 in formidable women, good for the soul | 2 comments

5 things I learned at a women’s conference

I spent the weekend with some extraordinary women at the first EVER national WINE: Women In the New Evangelization conference in Pennsylvania. The day was filled with music, liturgy, speakers, and of course, a diverse group of women. The conference was held at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestachowa. Beautiful.

So here’s what I learned:

  1. Smiles are the best ice-breakers.
  2. We need each other.
  3. God loves us.
  4. Mary is our Mama and…
  5. You’re never too old for a pajama party.


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Virtue, Charity, and Other Pursuits

Posted by on Oct 14, 2017 in good for the soul | 2 comments

Virtue, Charity, and Other Pursuits

The Objective

I aspire to a life of virtue. I want to be holy.

I know what I need to do; the problem is that I don’t always act on what I know.

Most of the time I operate in fits and starts. I buy a new moisturizer that promises the fountain of youth, and I use it for three days and remember to use it again when I take a too-close selfie.

A great swell of enthusiasm takes me to daily Mass several days in a row, only to sleep in on the fifth day and miss the goal of going all week. I lose track of a novena somewhere along the fourth or fifth day. My mind wanders to a to-do list during a homily.

I often think there’s no way I could possibly tackle the Works of Mercy if I can’t even get through a homily. And no, it isn’t the priest’s fault (most of the time).

A recent visit with a dear friend blessed me with some great conversations about a number of things, including our pursuit of virtuous lives. We came to the conclusion that we need to work at it, need to approach it with love, and need to take baby steps for successes. We need to move with our hearts:  charity for others, and for ourselves, too.

We came to that conclusion pretty easily. I mean, that when we got to the conclusion, it felt right. And then I remembered this:

That’s my friend in the video — and I wrote the script. LOL, no wonder we came to such a brilliant conclusion.

The Plan

Every morning I wash my face, moisturize, and put on my halo-in-training nice and straight. It usually slips by the time I get to the kitchen for coffee if the dog is underfoot and I step on him. I say my prayers and spend a little time journaling. It often leads me to do a little reading about the saints.

I read a lot and write a lot, kind of like Flannery O’Connor — to figure out what I think. So why do I write so much about the saints? Because sometimes I see a little bit of myself in them, the struggles they have, and their yearning for Christ. I really do want to be holy.

And why do I keep moisturizing if the crow’s feet have sprouted into yards?

The simple answer is hope. I hope I can keep the dry spots and blemishes at bay.

I hope I grow in virtue. I put my hope in the Lord. In my salvation. In my ability to get better each day, even if it’s just keeping the halo on straight through that first cup of coffee.

Know what helps? Frequent reception of the sacraments — go to Mass. Go to Confession. Rinse. Repeat.

And moisturize!

Some Fun Stuff

Listen to Jennifer’s insights on Adventures in Imperfect Living

Watch the other episodes of That Catholic Show

And tell me, do you think the Super Girl on the cover of my book looks like Jennifer’s Super Girl in the video?



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happy birthday, Cachita!

Posted by on Sep 8, 2017 in good for the soul | Comments Off on happy birthday, Cachita!

It’s the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. As Cuban-Americans, on this day we celebrate the patroness of Cuba, Our Lady of Charity.


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It’s rough to be so far away from family and friends today. Instead of celebrating, though, they are packing up in the face of an impending hurricane, Irma.

This, on the heels of the devastation in Texas and the Gulf coast.

For the first time that I know of, Miami receives a dispensation for not attending Mass this Sunday. In fact, all Masses are cancelled. Wow.

Pray for those in the path of Irma. I put my trust in Jesus, and Cachita, who once upon a time, stilled those waters. 

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bells ring for “bread of salvation”

Posted by on Jul 2, 2017 in good for the soul | Comments Off on bells ring for “bread of salvation”

Bells ring at our little church several times a day. I’ve recently posted about the Angelus bells and alluded to other bells as well. We hear them all, and each round of tolling means something special. I already spoke about the Angelus, but the bells toll before Mass, too. And then, in a grand surprise that reminds me of my experience in Cuba, the bells also toll during the Consecration. We always stop what we’re doing when we hear that round, and send up a brief prayer of thanksgiving. It really is something special to not only hear those bells, but know what they mean.

This morning, as I was having my coffee, I heard the bells on the heels of reading a beautiful quote from St. John XXIII, and thought I’d pass it along for you. It’s the perfect reflection for today.

May your sacrament, O Jesus, be light to the mind, strength to the will, joy to the heart. May it be the support of the weak, the comfort of the suffering, the wayfaring bread of salvation for the dying and for all the pledge of future glory. Pope John XXIII (1881-1963)

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anniversaries and gratefultweets

Posted by on Jun 26, 2017 in good for the soul | 13 comments



Anniversaries are often times for reflection. A year ago this weekend we moved into our new home in the gulf coast. It coincided with the homecoming celebration and picnic at the little Creole church that is now our parish. Although the actual date was a couple of days ago, the homecoming carries much more meaning for me. It was, and is, a homecoming of sorts for us, too.

We constructed our new house, so my husband and I were living apart for a few months, he to supervise the build from a borrowed RV, and me in our old home as I finished out my contract. We moved in as the tents were going up on the church lawn. John had already made a few acquaintances and was volunteering. I sold and signed a few books as part of our sponsorship of the event.

A year later, and oh what a year, I’m feeling a part of this community. I’m at home here, and it’s a lovely gift.

abbeyI knew I would miss my afternoons at the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers, and wondered if I could ever find my peaceful spot here. All I need to do is stand at my kitchen window or step outside onto our porch and look at the bay. A bay, I discovered, named the Bay of the Holy Spirit, la bahía del Espíritu Santo, by the Spanish explorers in the 1500s

Here I was, pining for the Holy Spirit. Silly me. I missed my blue-lit abbey; I got a blue expanse of sea and sky, and a continuous breeze from the water reminding me that God is here, surrounding me, lifting me, inside me, above me.

sunriseEvery sunrise reminds me of this truth, that God is with us. I should know this, right? God is always present, whether we acknowledge this or not, but at this time in our lives, when the days could be dark and hopeless, I am acutely aware that he has brought us here to this place in the sun.


Some years ago, years — wow–Matt Swaim started this #gratefultweet thing. Fr. Kyle Schnippel further explained it, and I picked up the habit of tweeting with gratitude instead of vitriol. I don’t think I’ve made social media any happier, but I can say that starting the day with a grateful heart has had an impact in my life. Every day is a gift. Every morning, when John and I survey our little piece of the bay as the sun comes up, we spontaneously offer a prayer of thanksgiving.

The birds are up at that hour, chirping away. If I’m paying attention, I see the dolphins swimming up to where the river empties into the bay, in search of breakfast no doubt. The osprey family that has nested next door goes out hunting. And I check out the yard for box turtles before sending Otis out. It seems they’ve found our little corner of paradise, too.


Sometimes I feel like I’m killing my followers with the daily views of sunrises, but each one is different, unique in special ways, like all of us! You can follow my #gratefultweets @bego.



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a little patience, please

Posted by on May 27, 2017 in good for the soul | 2 comments

These days I have plenty of opportunities to grow in the virtue of patience. It seems like in retirement I am busier than I ever was before, mostly my own doing in having joined some committees at church and dedicating myself to a number of projects around the house.

Somewhere in there I am also writing, though you wouldn’t know it from the general absence of anything but photo challenges here. But, it’s happening, quietly and for my personal pleasure. Maybe one day soon I’ll come clean with news about a finished novel. Or not. Patience.

Most days I sit outside in the post dawn hour. It’s probably the noisiest time of day, filled with birdsong, waves gently hitting the rocks, and the occasional whistles of a family of ospreys. It’s my favorite time of day.

I spend as much time as I can outside, whether it’s puttering around the yard, or having a refreshing drink in the cool comfort of our porch. It gives me time to observe. I’ve always been too busy, thinking about the next thing that’s due, keeping track of schedules, mine and the family’s. But now, I have nothing but time.

One of the greatest gifts of this season of my life is living in the moment. It stretches on, unhurriedly. Kind of like that turtle I watched walk all the way across our yard, from one side to the other. He stopped in the shade of the chimenea for a little while, and then went off again. No hurry. No stress. Amen.

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