{SQT} Miracles and Birthdays Edition

Look! I’m not dead! Everyone in my family is fine and not dead as well. Sorry to leave you hanging last week. In my effort to catch up from the previous two weeks of non-stop sickness and #hospitallife, I inadvertently didn’t schedule any time to write my Quick Takes. I sort of thought I might manage to squeeze in a post Friday afternoon but….here we are! The upside is I have two weeks of material to glean from for this week’s post.


First up, by now, you’ve probably heard of my good friend Bonnie’s new book, ’61 Minutes to a Miracle’. It is the amazing story of her son James’ miracle through the intercession of Archbishop Fulton Sheen.

Bonnie, me, my Fulton, and the miraculous James Fulton circa 2013!

I originally discovered Bonnie’s blog shortly after James was born, however, when I read back about the miracle that occurred with Sheen’s help, I remember feeling so happy. Our family had visited the tomb of Sheen when he lay under the altar at St. Patrick’s in New York City and prayed for a miracle ourselves. We did not get the cure we sought, and I wondered at the time what we had done wrong. But reading about James made me realize that Arbp. Sheen was listening, and doing what he could for those who sought his intercession. The Engstrom’s child came back to life! And while our Fulton still had SMA, I began to recognize all the little miracles and see how God’s plan for our life didn’t require Fulton, or Teddy, to walk or be like my other children. Arbp. Sheen was working for us, just in a different way. We could give glory to God not by being the recipent of a miracle, but by accepting and loving our sons as they were. I would still love a miracle to cure my sons, but we don’t need it, and I don’t resent God for bestowing such a wonderful miracle on another family. I trust in His plan and I’m so happy to see how the healing of James will (FINALLY !) lead to the beatification of Arbp. Sheen, and ultimately guide even more people to seek his intercession. They will not be dissapointed!

Bonnie’s book is an engaging, quick read, and I felt like I was sitting on her sofa (at the edge of my seat-hanging on every word) as she recalled the details of James’ pregnancy, birth, death, and miraculous recovery. For all the times when, faced with tragedy, one wonders “Where is God right now? Why is this awful thing being allowed to happen?”, this is the story of God being right there and leading Bonnie, her husband Travis, her friends, family, medical staff, and everyone through an incredibly difficult and trying situation. For all the times I hear people complain that “God doesn’t do miracles anymore”, I want to say shut up and read. Bonnie’s story comforted me when I first learned of it, and it comforts me now as much as any Gospel retelling of Jesus healing the leper, the lame, or the blind. Our Lord is here, right now, doing the impossible; not always when or where we expect, and we might not understand why, but His good works continue.


Teddy went back to school Monday the 16th after a virus and subsequent pnemonia kept him home, and hospitalized, for the first two weeks. He easily slid back into the school routine and he caught up on missed work without much extra effort. Having Teddy at school means my day has resumed a bit more routine and order as well, even if it starts at 5:30 a.m. (which I’m still not quite used to). Addie and Byron are doing well after four weeks of community college classes and Edie and I are enjoying our few days alone and the opportunity to try our hands at water colors. (Thanks to my reader Joanna who suggested the YouTube channel ‘Let’s Make Art’! It’s been great!) Fulton is doing well at the middle school and has started down his path to world domination by getting involved in student government. The older kids keep telling him that “Making everyone bow down to me!” should not be part of his speech seeking election, but he does not seem swayed by their logic. We’ll see how it goes.


The past couple Monday evenings I’ve spent reading through my lines for our parish’s upcoming dinner theater. I have a small part as “an attractive twenty-something with a secret”. Long time readers may remember I held parts in earlier shows, but I needed a break after a few years of participation. This year, I wanted to jump back in knowing that soon Addie will be able to take over some of the family transportation needs and that my absence in the evenings is no longer so distressing to the kids…or Tony. (i.e. there’s less screaming at bedtime) The performance will be the weekend of Valentine’s Day. The dinner theater production is a big fundraiser, and this year’s show is hilarious. I have no doubt it will be another big success for the parish bank account, and maybe lead to future roles off, off, off, off broadway, in some public access channel infomercial for moi.


Since we couldn’t be in Peoria, IL for a beatification Mass for Arbp. Fulton Sheen on the 100th anniversary of his ordination, we decided to go to my hometown of Lancaster, PA for an Octoberfest. (The trip to IL for that Mass will hopefully come in the spring or early summer of 2020!) It’d been a few years since we’d attended but we always enjoy eating the German food, listening to the music, and trying to polka around the dance floor (despite having no idea how to polka). We took the whole family over on Saturday afternoon, and Tony and I went back that night. We love festivals like this, and since, between the two of us, we have a mix of Irish, Italian, and German ancestry (along with a few others thrown in), I feel like we can fully embrace all the food, and drink, each culture celebrates.

Future album cover for my kid’s German pop band ‘Leckeres Essen’. Below, traditional German dancers showing the correct way to wear leather pants.


My birthday was yesterday and I celebrated by going to Ocean City for a few hours with Edie and Bryon. I ate a slice of my favorite pizza, bought gummi candy, played skee ball, walked on the beach and still got home in time to see the boys off the bus. Last year because of Fulton’s surgery recovery, we couldn’t take our usual fall visits to Ocean City. I’m hoping this birthday trip can be the first of many “field trips” to visit “salt water ecosystems” before the temperatures really drop.

Turning 41 in the sun!!!
They’re so happy to tag along to humor their mother! …so long as pizza and candy was involved.


Addie’s 17th birthday is today! She’s going go-carting with a friend and taking cupcakes to fencing practice tonight. Tomorrow she gets her senior pictures taken!!!! We ordered a cap and gown for her to wear in a few shots and in addition to thinking, “There’s no way I’ll be able to reuse this for Byron; it’s too short.” I was thinking “WOW! Her senior year is really here! One more year!!” Next week we’re traveling to Texas to visit a university she’s interested in, and hopefully we’ll make a few other visits through October. Thankfully, the other contenders are all fairly close by.


Newsletter subscribers know that my publisher and I finally arrived at a title for my forthcoming book, “Better Than Okay: Finding Joy With Special Needs Children”. I’ve also been given a timeline for completing edits and publication! It’s nice to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. And after a few months away from my manuscript I feel ready to jump back in, up the word count and tweak my chapters. (I’d also love to have Karen Santorum write the forward if anyone has a connection!!) If you want the latest on release dates, promotion specials, events and the like, be sure to sign up for my newsletter here. STUFF IS GETTING REAL PEOPLE!!!

How has your week (or weeks) been? Any major celebrations or milestones? Write them down then link them up below. Be sure to include a link back to this post so your readers can find the rest of the Quick Takes. I look forward to reading your posts!

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  1. Happy birthday!!!!! I’m so glad you got to spend it at the beach! It’s going to be in the upper 80s here for the next few days–and in the NINETIES next week–so yeah, beach sounds pretty darn good to me! 🙂

  2. Happy Birthday!
    On #7, I have to give a shout-out to Texas A&M in case your travels take you to College Station. They have the most beautiful Catholic College Ministry at St. Mary’s!

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