Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real

Rainn Wilson, the actor who plays Dwight Schrute on the NBC sitcom The Office, recently presented at the 2012 South By Southwest Interactive in Austin, TX. He surprised many in the audience when his talk took a spiritual turn. He said, “I believe the Internet is the future of spirituality. It’s a spiritual act to share a beautiful photo on Instagram. It’s a spiritual act to sell something beautiful you’ve crafted on Etsy.”

I immediately thought about the rosaries handmade by Melanie (aka The Rosary Chick) and her company Trendy Traditions. Melanie’s designs are spectacular as she brilliantly blends trendy style with sacred tradition. In other words, these ain’t your grandma’s prayer beads! And you gotta love that Melanie donates 10% of all profits to these worthwhile ministries.

Okay, so now on with my story …


Most nights, Joel puts Lucy to bed and together they have a nighttime prayer ritual that includes praying the Holy Rosary. Lucy prays along, as best as a 3-1/2-year-old can, counting the beads on the rosary that Melanie handcrafted. Earlier this week, Lucy crashed hard before finishing prayers. When Joel carefully tried pulling the rosary from her fingers, she clutched the crucifix even tighter. Which then made for this pretty terrific photo opp. Thanks for the blog post material, kid!

(Click on any picture to expand view)


I can’t quite remember how Melanie and I first met, digitally speaking, but I’m so glad we did. We have discovered a handful of things in common, including we both have sons named Jude. Sadly, Melanie and her husband experienced the perinatal loss of their Jude a little over a year ago (read their beautiful story here). Shortly after I gave birth to our Jude this January, I received a package in the mail from Trendy Traditions. Excited to see the contents, I ripped the package open and literally wept when I saw this beautiful rosary.

Melanie transformed a small part of her loss into this tremendously beautiful gift of charity, a spiritual heirloom for our Jude, which she undoubtedly replicates every time she handcrafts a rosary. Melanie intuitively understands that a rosary is not some thing but that it is for somebody. I am still overwhelmed by her kindness, generosity, and unselfishness. I don’t know if I would have extended the same gesture had the roles been reversed. Melanie and her Jude happily have a special place in our hearts.


Desperate to quiet your fussy 8-week old? Set him in front of Mother Mary holding baby Jesus, of course! Joel had a deacon formation class last Saturday, and I thought it would be a breeze to bring Jude along. WRONG. He was a tad out of sorts and couldn’t get comfortable for most of the day. Or maybe I was a tad out of sorts and couldn’t get comfortable? Funny thing? Jude was most peaceful while sitting here in front of our Blessed Mama. Could this be the beautiful beginning of a strong Marian devotion?


Along with eight other men discerning the diaconate in our diocese, Joel was formally installed as a lector last weekend. From his Cathedra (chair), Bishop Pates handed Joel his Bible with the specific instruction to go out and faithfully proclaim the Gospel. While the Rite of Lector places Joel one step closer toward ordination as a permanent deacon, we still have two more years of formation. In our diocese (Des Moines), the deacon candidates’ wives are required to attend all the formation classes and retreats, and I’m allowing anxiety to get the best of me while trying to figure out how to make this work for two more years.

The fact this one and only picture I took of Joel receiving his Bible from Bishop Pates is blurry is apropos for how the last couple months have been for me. A blur. A really big blur. And I’ll take all the prayers and support you’re willing to give.

For more  {pretty, happy, funny, real} entries, head over to Like Mother, Like Daughter

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  1. EDM says

    Do you know if the bishop ever formally institutes lectors or acolytes outside of diaconate formation? I live in the Des Moines diocese and am interested in exploring these ministries at some point.

    • says

      Hi there! Thanks for dropping by our blog. As for your question, I don’t know that the bishop does any special thing for laypeople who are ordinary lectors in their parishes. The Rite of Lector is a specific step outlined by Holy Mother Church that all deacon candidates worldwide must journey through on their way toward ordination (seminarians, too). The bishop in each diocese is responsible for administering this rite. But you raise a great point – the role of lector is very special. You are proclaiming the Good News. Maybe there should be more pomp and circumstance around the role for all lectors.

      • EDM says

        Yeah, I used to live in a diocese where many of the readers at Mass were actually formally instituted lectors (many women were readers but could not be instituted as lectors), and only formally instituted acolytes could be extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion. As such, the diocese had many many lay men instituted by the bishop in these ministries. The practice kind of grew on me. It’s obviously not the standard operating procedure around here, but I personally think it would be cool to have as an option. Like you said, it gives an extra ceremonial feel and an extra specialness to the ministry.

        • says

          Thanks! I recall from our time in the Dubuque diocese that they had some sort of annual commissioning for Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. However, I don’t know if the Des Moines diocese does that, and I’ve never heard of anything similar for other liturgical ministries. BTW, I’m in favor of most things that up the ante for liturgical ministers. Ones who don’t take their role seriously and parishes that don’t take their training seriously drive me a bit bonkers! ;^)

  2. says

    These were so beautiful- you captured the themes beautifully. I love the picture of your little girl clutching her Rosary. And Jude’s brought tears to my eyes!

    It may feel like an overwhelming blur right now, but it will definitely work out! I am always in awe of and grateful for the men (and their wives and families) who choose to become deacons. Many prayers for your family!

  3. Mark and Melissa Bortle says

    What a wonderful story. Congratulations to Joel for his installation of a lector. My class in the Dubuque Diocese is one year behind yours. I will be going through the installation of an acolyte this coming October. Our prayers continue for you two as you continue on your journey towards ordination as a deacon in the Des Moines Diocese. Good luck as your prayerful and faith filled journey continues.
    Mark and Melissa

  4. says

    Hey, great to hear from you two! Hope all is well and your diaconate formation program is going well. You both go forward with our prayers, as well. So, your class is a year behind ours, but you will be installed as an acolyte this October? Funny, our acolyte installation is next May, at the end of our third year. Have you already been installed as a lector? Blessings to you both on your journey!

    • Mark and Melissa Bortle says

      Joel, I misspoke. In October we will be Admitted to Candidacy for the Diaconate. I was looking too far ahead in our journey. We continue to pray for your family also as we both continue our joint paths towards diaconate ordination. We have a wonderful class of 9 men and their wives in our formation class, Class XVI from the Dubuque Diocese. Good luck and God Bless.
      Mark and Melissa

  5. says

    What lovely rosaries! I’ll definitely be checking out that etsy shop. And thank you – for the sacrifices your family is making for out Chuch. We need strong men!

  6. says

    I can’t tell you how many important photos I’ve taken that turn out super blurry. Sigh. But the ones with the sweet hands clutching the rosary! Wonderful.

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