The Professor Goes West//A Year Later//Day One

I  have an exciting blog series to kick it off.

Last May-June my family took a three week camping trip Out West. We traveled for 23 days, camped 11 nights, visited 10 National Parks, and saw 11 of the Franciscan California Missions. I kept a handwritten daily journal of our trip.

Since Lyme disease thwarted my plan to write about our family camping trip last summer, I will be posting my journal entries from the trip on the anniversary of each day of the trip. And include some family camping tips along the way.

Today is day one!

Day One–Sunday, May 20, 2018

We pulled out of our driveway at 7:50 am on a cool, sunny morning. The Minnesota river was full and glittering. Someone had built a bridge so we were able to cross without incident. 

Bloomington at 8:11 am–we crossed the Ferry Bridge–if we had come this way before 1996 we would have had to take a ferry. At 8:50 am we crossed yet another bridge over the Minnesota River. We followed the southern western shore of the river for many miles after that. At 10:12 am we passed a freight train with three engines next to a grain elevator. Around elevensies we passed by many wind farms and large plowed fields. 

We entered South Dakota on I-90 at 11:30 am. We took a 60 minute stop at Falls Park in Sioux Falls at 11:45 am. The kids climbed all over the pink rocks out into the river. The rapids created beds of fluffy foam. We saw the ruins of an old granary. 

Later in the afternoon we came to the rolling, soft green hills of the muddy Missouri. Trees and black cows dotted the hillsides and the giant expanse of the sky spread wide around us. We crossed safely over the smooth, paved bridge thankful that we did not have to caulk the wagon and float since we have forgotten the caulk. 

We spent the later afternoon exploring the Badlands. We hiked through them climbing a ladder up and down a steep cliffside. No one fell and there were no sprained ankles.

We saw some game–a few buffalo, antelope, deer, and a few mountain goats. Our food stock is still high so we decided not to hunt. 

We further spotted 20 head of elk on the mountainside in Custer State Park. We got into camp around 7:45 pm, and had everyone tucked in by 9:45 pm. The night promised to be cold, yet quiet. We heard coyotes, which I mistook for yelling teenagers, howling in the night off in the mountains. 

Rise Up–A Devotional on Virtue for Kids!

Over a year ago my eldest daughter mentioned to me that she was interested in having a new prayer book for devotional reading. This lead to my idea of collaborating with Blessed is She to create a beautiful prayer book for children rich in the Catholic tradition of becoming holy through growth in virtue. Further, I wanted to have a book for my children that taught them how to pray by learning to place themselves in God’s presence, make an an examination of their daily lives, and then received inspiration from the Holy Spirit. 

After a lot of writing and editing and waiting, this book has finally come together. I am pleased to introduce Rise Up:Shining With Virtue. It has 15 chapters broken down in seven days–with Scripture or a saint quote and a reflection for every day. Each chapter is written by a different Blessed is She writer and covers a different virtue.

My role in Rise Up was to choose the virtues and then explain them to the reader. The book begins with my introduction, which explains what virtue is and how to grow in virtue in general. Each chapter focuses on an individual virtue. I based the introduction for each chapter on St. Thomas Aquinas’ explanation of the virtue in his Summa Theologiae taking the language down to the level of a child. 

It starts with the three Theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity. These are followed by the four main Cardinal virtues prudence, justice, courage/fortitude, and temperance. The other virtues are parts or subvirtues of the Cardinal virtues: gratitude, generosity, obedience, perseverance, patience, humility, studiousness, and honesty. The book is written in such a way that children can unpack and apply growing in virtue to their daily lives, but also decode the more abstract ones that are more difficult to understand.

Then comes my favorite part in each chapter: a passage from one of the Gospels which demonstrates this virtue and a reflection on that Scripture leading the reader into imaginative prayer. Fifteen different Blessed is She writers wrote the five middle days of the week for each chapter based on a short Scripture selection or Saint quotation. On the final day of the week, the reader is encouraged to reflect, pray, and make resolutions on how to live this virtue out.  

We were super excited to get an Imprimatur for this book. The Imprimatur and Nihil Obstat means that a Church official has read over the book at the bishop’s request and has declared that nothing in the book contradicts or is opposed to the defined body of Church doctrine or goes against the moral law. As a parent, I look for this on Catholic books for my children. It helps me to know they are reading the truth.

It is so, so beautiful. If you have a kid in your life ready to grow in holiness or who has just received a Sacrament and needs a great gift. Check out this book. I can’t wait for my kids to pray with it. 

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