Large families are a huge blessing, especially at the holidays! As the youngest of eight children I have many memories of waiting for family to arrive on Thanksgiving. I had brothers and sisters driving home from college and from their own homes (bringing my nieces and nephews that were like brothers and sisters to me as they were more my age than my siblings). The anticipation built in me as I waited for our quiet home to be transformed into hub of laughter, fun, singing, and lots and lots of sharing. When I was young I took all of this for granted, I don’t anymore.
Many things have changed since I grew from being the baby in the family to having a family of four children of my own. I realize now that the presence of one thing connects every thanksgiving I have celebrated over the last 50 years: PRAYER. Throughout the years there have been many different forms of prayer depending on the household hosting the gathering that year, but every meal has always started in a prayer of Thanksgiving for the food we were about to share, for all of our blessings, and a prayer of petition for all those that would not have all that we had that day.
I will never forget one prayer in particular as long as I live. It was the prayer my niece’s husband prayed at their home the year he found out he had A.L.S. There was not a dry eye in the backyard tent (like I said our family is large and most houses can’t accommodate all of us) as he read from the book of Psalms in his bible. The night ended with the whole family singing Hallelujah accompanied by another niece’s boyfriend on his ukulele and all I could think of was the multitude of prayers being sent to heaven for him as I was reminded of the saying, “singing is like praying twice!” Two years later he is miraculously still in amazing physical health despite his diagnosis. He has an army of family and friends praying for him and, whether his good health is due to these prayers or to modern medicine, EVERY day is worthy of thanksgiving prayers for him.
Thanksgiving This Year
Today I fly to Denver to be with a whole new family this year for Thanksgiving… the family of my future daughter-in-law. I am bringing along a bag full of Blessing Bracelets to share. My prayer is that every time we look down at these bracelets they will be a reminder of the love shared on this beautiful occasion and of being blessed, once again, as our family continues to grow.
When it comes to gifting, especially to our family members, I find that one of the biggest challenges is finding something meaningful to both you and the receiver, and that it adequately expresses your heart. It’s about finding that special something you hope they will treasure and keep coming back to time and time again.
Carol shares how she so beautifully found that perfect Baptism gift that continues to bless both the baby and his parents.
“The greatest gift I can give is to encourage his parents to remember their purpose…I wanted to get his mom a bracelet so that every time she was holding him, rocking him, taking care of him…that she could look down and remember that her greatest mission aside from being a follower of Christ, is to raise this baby in the way of the Lord. Fast forward a year and a half, she wears that bracelet every single day. It’s been real special for me to be able to encourage a young woman in that way.”
As we enter the time to reflect on the true spirit of giving and begin to make our lists of the gifts we will impart this Christmas, consider gifting the gift of a blessing through our various blessing pieces.
In honor of Grandparents Day which we celebrated this past Sunday, we asked one of our team members who has been blessed as a grandma twice now, to share with us her insider, personal experience of the grace of being a grandparent.
Tina with her daughters and grandchildren.
Meet Tina: My Saint My Hero’s CFO and Much More
My name is Tina Ferrigno and I am a mother of four amazing adult children and I have worked for My Saint My Hero since 2011. My two oldest children are both married. My son and his wife are expecting their first child, and my daughter is expecting her third. When my daughter was pregnant with her first child, Emma I prayed that I could find my way into the hearts of my grandchildren. This is how “Fridays with Emma” was born. Thankfully, I could begin a flex 40 work week so I could spend every Friday with Emma. Now I spend most Fridays with Emma and Michael! Soon there will be “Four on Fridays”! I am so grateful and incredibly blessed.
Let me begin with two golden rules that every grandparent should follow:
Keep my opinions to myself and just be a grandparent, my job is not to be a parent.
What happens at grandma’s house stays at grandma’s house (my personal favorite!).
Can you share your experience of the role as a grandparent? How do you find it different from any other role such as mother, aunt etc?
Every time I see my grandchildren, I am reminded of God’s beautiful graces that He has blessed me with. I feel extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to make a difference in my grandchildren’s lives – and I am grateful for the joy that they bring to my life. As a grandparent, I like to be a little bit of a parent, a little bit of a teacher and a little bit friend to each of them in a unique way. These attributes get better with age because I like to think we grow in wisdom which help us become better parents, better teachers, and better friends. For me, to be able to share that with my grandchildren, is in itself a gift.
What is your greatest joy in being a grandparent?
Seeing the world through their beautiful pure eyes is the greatest joy. I think when I was a parent I may have been just managing or dictating our lives: clean, feed, change and repeat. But these responsibilities are different from a grandparent’s perspective. Parenting is much more stressful than being a grandparent and I love it! I have a second chance to do it all over again, but better.
How do you find the role of grandparent to be important in today’s society, in the life of your children/grandchildren?
Being a grandparent is very important in today’s society. Most families today are a two-parent working home, and life becomes a flurry of activities. Besides Fridays, I try to relieve mom and dad when I can. But more so, sharing the bond of motherhood with my daughter has given me a new friendship with her I have never experienced before. In a society where family is often disjointed or blended, watching my babies having babies has brought our entire family closer.
How has grandparenting been a blessing in your life?
This is a great question because my daughter and her husband have things well under control, in many ways, more so than I did as a young mother. The truth is those babies give more to me than I could ever give to them. To see the challenging world through the eyes of God’s most precious life, is invigorating and awe inspiring. It literally brings so much joy. This journey of being a grandparent is a beautiful chapter that God has written for me and I am very grateful.
What is your favorite My Saint My Hero blessing piece and how does it affect your life and thus your role as a grandparent?
I have so many! However, I love the Divine Blessings bracelet for several reasons. I can say my rosary anytime anywhere because it is a decade, and God knows the power of a grandmother’s prayer! I love giving the gift of being my grandchildren’s prayer warrior. This piece is a daily reminder to do good with my hands. The Swarovski pearls remind that we all have a light that shines from within because they all begin with a crystal in the center. Layers are then added, like each of us!
Thank you, Tina, for opening up your heart and sharing these beautiful reflections with us!
We had a very exciting start of the week at My Saint My Hero. Not only did we all relish the time off to be with our loved ones on Labor Day, but we also got to welcome a dynamic new team member to the My Saint My Hero family first thing Tuesday morning.
Madi Myers Cook is a new college graduate who is on fire with her love for Jesus Christ and the mission. She’s crazy talented in many ways, especially behind the camera capturing not only beauty but soul in her photos. She’s a missionary at heart and we are so blessed to have her join our team!
Earlier this week we asked Madi a few questions to get to her know her better. Here are her answers!
What is your favorite color? My favorite color is a deep red wine color.
What drew you to My Saint My Hero? I love the mission of My Saint My Hero, that we work to empower women through meaningful work so that they are able to provide for their families, pursue their own dreams, and live a life of purpose.
What is your fondest memory or experience from your summer in Haiti? I have two favorite memories from this trip to Haiti: I got to photograph a wedding for 6 Haitian couples. One couple had been together for 60 years and had 11 children! They were absolutely beautiful, and neither stopped smiling the whole time. Another favorite moment was getting to listen to story after story of God’s miracles in the lives of this community. I talked to my dear friend Sony, who’s family is amongst the poorest of the poor in the community. Both his parents work at the JPII Center for an organization called Life Teen International. He was one of the first teenagers that the American Life Teen Missionaries developed a relationship with, and as he gradually progressed in school, the Center sponsored him to go to University. He worked so incredibly hard in gratefulness for his opportunity to go to school, and in May, graduated at the top of his class. He was the first person EVER from the town of Miraguane, Haiti to graduate from University. He told me with tears in his eyes that his favorite thing about graduation was “seeing all the white faces in the crowd that were there” for him!
What’s the color of your toothbrush? Oh gosh, I don’t even know!
What are your top 3 hobbies? Exploring new towns & coffee shops, camping with my family, and Jesus of course!
What is your current favorite blessing piece from My Saint My Hero? My favorite piece is the Blessing Bracelet. I don’t ever take it off. It has traveled with me to Rome, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Rwanda, and Haiti, and is quite worn out, but it makes me love it even more!
Where did you grow up? Where’s home? I grew up in Orange County, but honestly, my home is wherever my people are. My home is in Haiti, in Medjugorje, in Southern California, in Dallas. I am not very rooted in one place yet.
Share with us about your family. How many siblings do you have? I am the oldest of 6! My youngest sister is 4, and she is my sassy, adventurous, and wild little mini me.
Where did you graduate from and with what degree? I graduated from a Christian school called Baylor University with a degree in Social Entrepreneurship- how to work to alleviate poverty using business from a Christian perspective.
You can follow her journeys and stories on Instagram and on her website. We cannot wait to see what energy and enthusiasm, talent and heart she brings to our team! Welcome Madi!
Last Thursday our My Saint My Hero family gathered together for a beautiful evening Mass on the beach in Rancho Palos Verdes. The majestic views of the cliffs, the crashing waves, and Catalina Island in the horizon was inspiring and reminded us of how great our God is-how magnificent His creation!
Bishop Brennan, who presided over the Mass, invited us to re-awaken the call each of us have felt in our hearts. He urged us to reignite the flame of apostolic zeal for the mission that we are each integrally part of at My Saint My Hero. We are called to be the saints and heroes of today’s world and to spread the call to holiness one blessing at a time. Just as each member of a family is unique and indispensable to that family, so each of us have a special and unique calling within this family of My Saint My Hero.
Come Follow Me
At the moment of consecration, I deeply felt Jesus truly present there among our midst. And just like at the shore of Galilee, here at this shore, I felt Him inviting me “come, follow Me”. The call of Christ is not a singular momentary event, but an ongoing invitation of mercy as with every breath we take. That invitation to follow Him is personal and specific and unique for each of us. When was the last time you heard Him calling you? If you take a moment now to abandon your nets of insecurity and let Him into your heart, what would He say to you? How is He calling YOU to follow Him, right here, right now?
A Perfect Evening
After being nourished by the Bread of Life, we gathered together again to break bread and enjoy a scrumptious taco dinner. We pray, we encourage, we laugh and work, and come together as a family at My Saint My Hero. It is beautiful to share these memories with the people God has brought together to form this team, this family to fulfill a very important mission so close to His Heart!
In honor of Mother’s Day, we asked some of our favorite bloggers and influencers from the My Saint My Hero community to share their thoughts on faith, motherhood, and the feminine genius.
Every time I think God has stretched my heart to its fullest, to the point at which Iam sure that I don’thave any more room to love, to give, He seems to laugh. And He keeps on stretching.
I had never been happier or more fulfilled in my life than when I finally met my soulmate. My heart was brimming over and I felt a deep peace in my soul. My restless heart had finally found its missing half, the beautiful person God had chosen to partner with me on this journey towards Heaven. I didn’t think I could possibly have more love to give…that is, until I became a mother…twice. Each time my heart felt like itburst open with new rooms and crevasses to fill with love forthis tiny little human being in my arms. It is truly indescribable. I fail to find the words.
He chooses to work with each of our souls in the way that’s best for us. With me, He gently calls me to love, over and over again, because He wishes to draw me to Himself, He who is Love Incarnate. He calls me to love with all the finesse and exquisiteness of my femininity.
I truly believe that God hasseen it fit to grant women a special and deep capacity for genuine love, and in my mind, it is from thisspecial giftwhence flows the feminine geniuswe speak of.God urges me to use this gift of love as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister in the family and community in which He has placed me. My feminine genius lies in my ability to love in the littlest of details, to love through patience and kindness, through listening, caring and serving in the hidden tasks that keep the household running, to love by sacrificing my image in order to be fully present for my children, through expressions of love and charity to those around me. My feminine genius shines most brightly when I use my creativity and talents to love the family and mission God has entrusted to me. It isby means ofthis genius and God’s grace that I can truly fulfill my vocation: to be the beating heart of myprecious family, our domestic church.
My husband and children continually challenge me to love more, love fiercely, love protectively, love generously, love humbly, love more purely. Together we are leading each other to sanctity in a beautifully organic and wholesome way. Thanks, in great part, tothe Feminine Geniuswhich isa mother’s gift.
Maria Brown is a wife, a mother of two, co-owner of Island City Creative as well as a web/graphic designer and WordPress content manager, a lover of all things creative and beautiful, and a student of philosophy, theology and psychology. As an influencer with a passion for all things parenthood related, she launched her lifestyle blog as a platform to share the best of parenting, style, travel, spirituality, food and creative ideas with her readers.
Andrew (A-Lob) and I wrote a line in “Mercy Wins” that goes…”Millions of burning lights, shattering the dark of night.” At the vigil in Poland, every one of the 2 million young people received a candle – this is the moment that we anticipated when we wrote this lyric. Each young person holding a candle represented the hope that can overcome the darkness in the world – each light a reminder of the victory that we have already won in Christ and his mercy. It was a beautiful moment as we held our candles and saw the millions of candles light up the sunset sky in Krakow.
Check out our new song “Mercy Wins“ on iTunes. – Emily Wilson