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We’re celebrating 10 years at NSS!

It was 10 years ago today that I decided to launch this blog on the Feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron saint of communicators. Where has the time gone? Back in those early days, I was blogging every day, sometimes more than once a day. That was before social media had become the norm, and so what today would be a Facebook post was a full-blown blog post back then. Originally, I started the blog as a way to get out there ahead of my 2008 book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism (Yes, that’s just about 10 years old as well!). But very quickly this blog became a place to explore my spiritual life, share recipes and travel stories, commiserate over my struggles, and post photos and anecdotes from my life as a mom. The blog truly lived up to its name back then. It was NOT strictly spiritual. One day I might post a survey that showed which Disney princess I was or what punctuation mark best suited me. The next day I’d be posting about Thomas Merton. You never knew what you’d get, and that’s what I loved about this space. What I still love about this space. And there were fan favorites as well: Foodie Friday, Manic Monday, Wisdom Wednesday. Read more

Happy anniversary to me and my blog

It was nine years ago today that I launched this blog. Although it looked very different when it started out and I posted much more frequently, the overall style and substance of Not Strictly Spiritual have remained the same. I have shared my struggles, my stories, my opinions, and quite a few recipes, covering everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Thank you to all of you who have visited this site over the years, especially those of you who come back time and again. Even if we have never met in person, you are special to me, and I am grateful. Read more

Some advice never gets old

Whenever I give my retreat talk titled “Broken, Beautiful, and Beloved: Learning to See Ourselves through God’s Eyes” (last weekend, for example), I quote St. Francis de Sales twice. Actually, I quote St. Francis de Sales a lot in my life — in posts, in books, in columns, in workshops, but in this particular talk I quote him twice. This 17th century bishop had so much to say that remains incredibly relevant to our 21st century lives. Read more

Wisdom Wednesday: Do not lose your inner peace.

About five for six years ago, I kept bumping into St. Francis de Sales. He seemed to show up at every turn in my reading and writing. That’s when I first discovered his beautiful reflections on spiritual friendship, which prompted me to write Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual Friendship (Ave Maria Press). What I love about St. Francis is the fact that this 17th-century bishop’s writings could be so relevant to our world today, not just the writings on friendship but on just about everything. Like the Wisdom Wednesday quote below. There’s lots more where this came from:

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset. — Saint Francis de Sales

Six years and counting here at Not Strictly Spiritual

Happy Feast of St. Francis de Sales and Happy Anniversary to Not Strictly Spiritual. It was six years ago today that I decided to launch this blog, choosing the feast of the patron saint of journalists and one of my personal favorites as the perfect day to jump into the wild and wacky world of blogging. Read more

Holy Trinity as model of spiritual friendship

On this Feast of the Holy Trinity, I thought I’d share this excerpt on the ways the Father-Son-Spirit model for us what spiritual friendship and right relationship are all about. This is from Walking Together: Discovering the Catholic Tradition of Spiritual FriendshipRead more

Striving for a new kind of perfect

“Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly.” — St. Francis de Sales

When I look at the magnificence of the delicate monarch butterfly above and read the wisdom of one of my favorite great saints, my first reaction is: “Easy for you to say.” They’re already pretty close to perfect by any objective standards, so they’ve got some nerve implying that little old perpetually imperfect me can do the same. But they weren’t always perfect, were they? Read more

‘Never be in a hurry…’

Many of you know that I am a huge St. Francis de Sales fan. I am continually amazed by the way this 17th century bishop speaks so profoundly and relevantly to our modern times. I thought I’d share a quote that speaks to me in a particular way these days.

Ponder these words:

“Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” — St. Francis de Sales


Now, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and simply be for just two minutes. It will bring a sense of calm to whatever it is you’re doing right now. 

Happy Anniversary to me, to us, to NSS

Happy Feast of St. Francis de Sales and Happy Anniversary to Not Strictly Spiritual. It was four years ago today that I decided to launch this blog, choosing the feast of the patron saint of journalists and one of my personal favorites as the perfect day to jump into the wild and wacky world of blogging.

Back in the early days, my blog was housed on my website, which you can see by clicking HERE. Then I moved it over to blogspot. It has ebbed and flowed with my life. When I’m writing books, as I am right now (two of them, in fact), NSS suffers a bit. When I have a little more time, I’m back at the NSS keys. Truth be told, writing on this blog is really one of my favorite “jobs.” I love talking to you and sharing my faith journey — and my recipes and photos.

This anniversary caused me to go back and look at some of my earliest posts, which gave me a good laugh at where I’ve been and a sobering reminder of the places where I haven’t made any progress. We had THIS photo of Chiara at work while I blogged, and THIS post about trying to get through Mass with a cranky toddler (how quickly we forget those days). And then there was THIS post about being “politically homeless,” especially during a presidential election year. It’s deja vu all over again.

Who knows what the next four years will bring? I can guarantee that in the coming months you’ll be hearing about my new books, one from Ave Maria Press and one from Penguin. And I know you’ll get regular updates on my kids, my cooking, my gardening, my travels, and, of course, my spiritual journey, which twists and bends and changes with each passing year. I’m always amazed at where it takes me, where God takes me.

So thank you for joining me here whenever you can. I truly appreciate your friendship and loyalty to this blog, even when I don’t show up for days at a time. And now I thought I’d end this post the same way I ended my very first blog post, with a favorite prayer written by St. Francis de Sales (one I have hanging on my bathroom mirror):

Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;
rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise,
God, whose very own you are,
will lead you safely through all things;
and when you cannot stand it,
God will carry you in His arms.


Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
the same everlasting Father who cares for you today
will take care of you then and every day.
He will either shield you from suffering,
or will give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace,
and put aside all anxious thoughts and imagination.

— St. Francis de Sales