Daring to Begin


It’s Monday…again. Woke up and tried to start it off right making Nutriblasts (today = Spinach, Blueberries, Banana, Strawberries, and Maca Powder) for me & my Guy, then putting together one of my favorite quotes to share.  As someone who works hard to overcome my tendency to procrastinate, this is one of my go to quotes for motivation.

It’s time to re-focus myself in prayer, and then really get after it.  Let’s make it a great week!

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Fifty Years of Marriage


“In this entire world there is not a more perfect, more complete image of God, Unity and Community. There is no other human reality which corresponds more, humanly speaking, to that divine mystery.” – Blessed Pope John Paul II on Marriage & Family

Today my in-laws celebrate FIFTY years, as in 5-0 or 5 decades, of marriage, life, love, and family — an incredible milestone, and certainly an inspiration!!! Wanting to pray for them and honor them in a special way this day, I found this beautiful “Blessing for a Golden Wedding Anniversary: Traditional Rite” (for full version, follow link).


Beloved of Christ: “Wedlock is a holy thing and it should be dealt with in a holy manner.” This is the teaching of the Council of Trent. Evidently you subscribe wholeheartedly to this solemn pronouncement, because you begin the festivities of your golden wedding anniversary in the house of God. You are come to render thanksgiving to Him for His benevolent favors of the past fifty years, and to entreat His benediction upon you for the years that remain. You return as devout pilgrims today to the altar of God, where in your youth you were made joyful and glad with the marriage sacrament. You were married in Christ, and the Lord has continued these many years to be your portion in happiness and your chalice in sorrow, just as you live in hope that He will bequeath an everlasting inheritance when the journey comes to an end.

On the day of your wedding, so long past, grace was laid up in your souls through the sacrament which you administered to each other. Today you stand before the world as a striking testimony of what God’s grace, conferred in matrimony, can effect in the husband and wife who will work along with the divine treasure that is in them. Our world has great need of the living sermon which your example of fidelity and loyalty dins into its ears. All who validly receive the sacrament of matrimony are meant to be sanctified and strengthened for the duties and for the dignity of their state, but sad to say not all use the powers of grace laid up in the soul by this sacrament. Because so many married folks have gone astray from the living God and turned to the false gods of their own inordinate whims and desires, we are confronted on all sides by the spectacle of overwhelming unhappiness and frustration that plagues our present society. Hatred between spouses, adultery, divorce, race suicide, unbridled selfishness, broken homes, forsaken children — these are the accursed fruits resulting when the grace of matrimony lies unused and its duties neglected. But now that we have mentioned these evils in protest and warning for the ears that can benefit from the Church’s solemn admonition, let us turn quickly from these unpleasant considerations, so offensive to the devout people of God, and instead take inspiration and courage from the lessons afforded by this happy occasion.

We are inclined to believe that you have lived the years of wedlock in imitation of the chaste nuptials of Christ with His Church, that your love for each other has resembled Christ’s love for His spotless Bride, and that as Christ is the Savior of the Church, so you have been to each other a savior, helping each other to grow in holiness and in true love for God and neighbor. Thus it has come about that now there is found in your marriage peace, dignity, happiness, and security. Of course, it is no secret that your way has not been easy at all times. You have had to endure suffering together. You have often been nailed to the cross of sacrifice. There have been temptations to overcome. You have been put to the test of heroic generosity and unselfishness, so that you might patiently bear each other’s weaknesses and imperfections. But because you have been subject to God, you have subdued the rebellion of the flesh. With God’s help you have been enabled to accomplish what of yourselves you would not have been able.

In the name of Christ, of the Church and all her children who are present, as well as in my priestly office, I extend heartiest congratulations to you and all good wishes for your future years together. Shortly we shall offer the Holy Sacrifice in praise and thanksgiving to our heavenly Father for the great work He has wrought in you. In the course of the Mass let us also beseech the Most High to be ever at your side in His full power and glory, assisting you to continue and to persevere unto the end, so that the wedlock kept holy on earth may adorn you for the hour in which the heavenly messenger comes to conduct you to the divine nuptials of the Lamb of God.

Happy Golden Anniversary, Mom & Dad! We wish you many more years of love, joy, health, and blessings.

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Raising a Saint

Although they are unmentioned in the Bible, the lives of Sts. Joachim and Ann have been gleaned from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi, or Gospel of James, written about the year 170. As the story goes, Joachim was a prominent, respected man; yet he and his wife, Ann, for many years had no children. At that time, that was viewed as a punishment from God, so they prayed and asked for a child.  This is why she is the patroness of childless couples, pregnancy, and many more (see below).

God answered their prayer, and an angel appeared to tell the older couple that they would conceive. Anne promised that their child would be dedicated to God, and Mary was born.


What was it like to raise not only a Saint, but the Mother of God? I wish there were writings on that. Still, I picture it something like this photo: With Ann teaching Mary her “Catechism”, and how to tend to a household, and little Mary faithfully and sweetly learning and growing. We do know that Joachim and Ann were people of faith, and raised Mary in such a way to be worthy of her calling. They did not waste any time either, as Mary was only about 12 or 13 when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

On the vigil of Sts. Joachim & Ann’s feast last night, the Hispanic and English groups joined together to celebrate our Patroness. About twice a year, our thriving Parish in Texas, St. Ann, combines the English and Spanish choirs to sing for bilingual liturgies. It’s very lively and moving – even us musicians were moved to tears during parts of the Mass.  Since Ann & Joachim were Jesus’ Grandparent, we honored the Grandparents of our community — they joined the procession, carrying white flowers and placing them in vases on the altar.  With 8 priests and deacons celebrating the Mass, and so many choir members to overfill the risers, it was a beautiful liturgy.

Here’s more about Anne & Joachim, from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens:

Anne: against poverty; barren; broommakers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners; women in labour; Brittany; Canada; France; Quebec; archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; Santa Ana Indian Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico.

Joachim: fathers, grandfathers, grandparents.

Anne: Book, symbol of her careful instruction of Mary; flowering rod; crown; nest of young birds; door; Golden Gate of Jerusalem; book; infant Virgin in crib; Shield has silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin.
Often Portrayed As: Woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; Woman at her betrothal to Joachim; Mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; Woman greeting Saint Joachim at Golden Gate; Woman with a book in her hand.

Joachim: Basket containing doves; model of Golden Gate of Jerusalem.
Often Portrayed As: Man bringing a lamb to the altar and being turned away by the priest; greeting and/or kissing Saint Anne at the Golden Gate; elderly man carrying a basket of doves and a staff; elderly man with the child Mary.

Sources: catholicculture.org; catholic.org

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Designing Twitter and Facebook Pages

There’s been a blank Facebook canvas on our company page, awaiting the proper time and inspiration to not only design it, but actively maintain it. Last week, we finally took the plunge. BOOM.

Consistent branding across Social Media is important. So we started with the phenomenal original design that my Husband did for our Twitter page. Here’s a bit of the artistic process that went into creating the Twitter page.

This project started with a picture of a lighthouse.  The lighthouse is not only part of our company logo, but it bears great symbolic meaning to me. Lighthouses reflect and radiate light, and lead people in the way that they should go.


Perusing our images, I found a picture I snapped during a trip we had taken over 2 years ago down to South Padre Island while we were wedding planning. This is the lighthouse you see as you pass through Port Isabel to get to South Padre, where we celebrated our marriage. Awwwwwww


This is proof that even an iPhone picture can provide what you need to get started. This photo does have a filter applied in iPhoto, I believe it is Antique.  I then further edited the photo in Photoshop – applying different colorization techniques.  Here’s what I sent over to my Hubs, Mike, and he loved it. This is the focal point that the whole design revolved around.


Mike then deconstructed the photo in Photoshop, where he removed a lot of the trees and surrounding buildings using the Cloning tool. He isolated the Lighthouse and the land mass it stands on.

The rays were from a Vector illustrator file, and the sun was constructed by Mike. Here’s an early mockup.


I liked the idea of a little Biplane flying over with a banner of our logo. Another early mockup:


Then comes the layers of waves and the starry night in half of the picture, which was inspired by religious art illustrator.


Mike found another Biplane that he preferred, so switched that out, polished it all up, and here’s where it ended up. To get the full effect, incorporating our cover and our Twitter feed icon, head over to our Twitter page, and why not follow us @illuvint while you are there!


Our Facebook page was much easier, as all of the elements were already completed. I mainly had to rearrange them to fit and create a balance composition within the 851 x 315 pixel cover. Also I had to navigate around the space where the profile picture overlays it (hence why it cuts off so suddenly). Facebook has a sizing guide here with the specifics. The waves were redone as only one tone, the plane moved central, and our tagline added.


Our profile picture was trickier, if you can believe it due to the sizing. Facebook says it is 180×180 pixels, but it kept appearing either too large or off-center, and just not right. So Mike the pro stepped in and got it just right.


This was actually different than our original Twitter feed icon (bottom), so I made him change it there too. Consistent branding, right?  See how all the elements blend together on our Facebook page and be sure to LIKE us while there.

Has this been helpful? Any questions or suggestions? Hit the comment box with feedback. Thanks!

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Our Anniversary

Anniversary 2

It was two years ago today. The Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, the man sent by God to bear witness to the LIGHT. The South Texas heat that June afternoon was sweltering, the smiles, laughter and tears that all flowed easily revealed that the love present was clearly too big for the Church to contain.  To my dear Husband, I can’t believe it’s only been two years, yet I’m glad that a lifetime of love still lies beyond!  The quote that I put on our wedding photo here expresses much of what is in my heart this day…mainly that I feel BLESSED. I’m grateful that the greatest Love of all, that of the Father, guided you to me after many, many years of prayers. Happy Anniversary, Sweets!

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Happy Father’s Day


“It is easier for a father to have children than for children to have a real father.”-Pope John XXIII

Photo credit: Anahi Navarro Photography


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Be Willing to Risk


This felt right for a Monday morning post.  Depending on whether you’re a half-full or half-empty kinda person, this may either be a spark to inspire or a little kick in the pants at the beginning of the week. Reflect on the image for a moment. It embodies that feeling of teetering on the edge of risk. How sound is this decision? Where does it lead? What if I fall? What will I do once I get there?

If you were to divide up what your efforts are spent on, I wonder how big the pie would be in the area of “being comfortable”.  As a person that holds my fears and insecurities close to my chest and navigates carefully to avoid having them exposed, I’m not here to cast stones, but rather am trying to work on sorting through them all in order to become the best version of myself. Honestly, I’ve struggled with perfectionism for years, thinking that my accomplishments, jokes, skills, etc. would hopefully secure people’s good opinion of me. But God help me, life is so restrictive and exhausting when I can’t make a mistake and need to please everyone all of the time. I am one who cares often too much – the lot of a passionate temperament, for better or for worse.

Like my friend in college used to say in his best Gospel preacher voice,

Jesus did not say pick up your lawn chairs. He said, “Pick up your CROSS.”

While one can apply this “GO AHEAD” to stepping out in big ways, like me leaving my job recently to pursue running a start-up business; to say it’s only about taking big plunges is missing the point. There are so many little ways (yes, like my favorite Little Flower, St. Therese would say) to risk…

Go ahead and take the initiative to learn something new by just beginning to do it, and don’t give up.
…and not beat yourself up for making a mistake.
…and call (not text) that friend that has been on your mind, but you haven’t talked to for so long.
…and make some time to really unplug, be silent, and really try and hear God’s voice.
…and dust off your resolutions, writing 3 goals in a place you see daily that you want to achieve between now and December 31st.
…and begin to take control of your health, make time for yourself and work on implementing at least one healthier choice.
…and ask that troubled person if they are OK, and REALLY listen.
…and think of your biggest dream, and map out 1 step towards getting closer to it.
…and tell that person you hardly ever do, an incredible compliment of something you admire about him/her.
…and ask that person who eats lunch at their desk everyday if they’d like to join you today.
…and tell your partner that thing that has been pressing on your heart that you’ve been avoiding.

It’s true, you never know what could be on the other side – until you try. Perfect joy may await you across that daunting trek…

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The Final Push: Will Third Time Be A Charm?

This is it, friends! It’s the final 2 days of D Magazine’s (D as in Dallas) BEST OF BIG D, where a very talented photographer friend of ours could possibly grab the title of Best Family Photographer, on her 3rd nomination. You can see some samples of her incredible photography and hilarious captioning skills below, and learn of her awesomeness. The link to vote is (and she is MIETTE PHOTOGRAPHY, on PAGE 6 under “Who is the best FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER”): Best of Big D Services Ballot


2 buttsMiette Photography, owned by internationally recognized photographer Jayme Nourallah, has been nominated for the 2013 Best of Big D Readers’ Choice Poll for best family photographer.

This is Nourallah’s third nomination, and she wonders if three will be her lucky number. “Even after all these years, I continue to put so much of myself into my photography,” she says, “I hope people see that passion, and respond to it. I cherish the families I work with, and D Magazine provides a broader platform to reach, engage, and capture more of them!”BreedFace 

Inspired by both graphic design and modern art, Miette’s owner has been behind the shutter for over 20 years. An artist to the core, she gets her ideas from art magazines and books and especially enjoys galleries and trips to museums.

“Photography is no different than fine art to me,” she says. “I consider myself a painter first. I use my camera and the tools of photography to balance the elements of an image, including the color, texture, visual weight, and negative space. This gives my photos a definitive look that I think separates me from most of my competition.”

Her customers are among her biggest fans. “It’s rare that someone comes to the house and doesn’t comment on [Jayme's] work of [my son],” says Bill.

Tasanee notes that Nourallah works well with her subjects: “My daughter gets apprehensive around strangers and Jayme was perfect. The two worked together very well. I want her to photograph my daughter every year of her life!”Cookie

Jayme handcrafts many of the backdrops used for her shoots. Pouring her passion and creativity into her sessions, it’s so much more than taking a family photo, but rather capturing the essence of each unique family member every time. It’s no wonder she has named her business after her daughter — Miette is a French term of endearment meaning “little crumb” — as she nurtures it like a mother.

Nourallah feels strongly that her talent with photography is more than a business. She has recently returned from a mission trip to Costa Rica, building housing as well as relationships with the village children. “Giving back is part of who I am. With all that I’ve been given, it’s the least I can do.”

Nourallah’s photography has appeared in Time Out New York, Dallas Modern Luxury, Der Spiegel Germany, D Magazine, La Gazetta dell Sport Rome, Time Out London, Alternative Press, and the cover of the Dallas Observer. Her portfolio can be viewed at MiettePhotography.com or on Facebook at  facebook.com/MiettePhotography.HowPregnantPic

The link to vote is (and she is MIETTE PHOTOGRAPHY, on PAGE 6 under “Who is the best FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHER”): Best of Big D Services Ballot.

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We Remember, We Salute You


MemorialDay2ICONI worked on this design yesterday for a campaign that I’m managing, an amazing project for a client, that I wrote about here. While I was working, I thought of my Grandpa who fought if WWII, my Uncle who fought in Korea, and the other friends and family we have that have served or currently serve in the military. I also thought of the men and women that I don’t even know, who put their life on the line for our freedom. Thank you is too small a sentiment, but…we are grateful for your bravery, your honor, your sacrifice.

My family is unbelievably blessed that my Grandpa, Uncle, and other friends and family have all come home after war. My Grandma actually had written letters to Grandpa while serving in WWII, and they didn’t really meet and get married until he got back; so I wouldn’t even exist today had things been different!

That makes me really stop and reflect today for those who it IS very different for, those whose loved ones go off to war and return wounded, or (God-forbid) return in a casket. Not to mention those who are MIA or POWs. There truly is no greater love than this. So this, this one is dedicated to you, sent with all our love and prayers, the heroes of war.

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A Different View Towards Mourning A Loss


“While we are mourning the loss of our friend, others are rejoicing to meet him behind the veil.” – John Taylor, American Politician

These words dove off the page into my heart, with a Mom-shaped hole. Sheesh. Our experience of the death of a loved one can often be so one-dimensional…even for those of us who believe in Heaven. It hurts. Bad. For a long time.

I’m not the only one with this speaking to my heart though, am I? The inspiration hit, and I had to use this quote to craft this design. That along with this picture of this woeful pup worthy of an ASPCA commercial with Sarah McLauchlan crooning in the background. Hey, we’ve donated to ASPCA, so I’m not knocking it, just calling it, HA!

Beyond that, I designed this to create awareness for a special mission of my talented musician friend, Curtis Stephan. As a Parish Music Minister for years, he has met with many grieving families and friends to do music for their loved ones’ funerals. After losing his Dad last year, Curtis was convinced that something more was needed to give to those mourning a loss. Something to remind them that love remains with them, after the flowers wilt and family returns home.

How would he accomplish that? By doing what he does best, creating music for the soul. And on this unique CD, specifically, music for the suffering soul. Even more specifically, a Songs of Consolation CD, to give to people in any type of broken-hearted situation, in need of comfort. To get CDs out to those most in need, Curtis wants to be able to bulk-price the CDs to get them to Churches, Grieving Groups, Funeral Homes and Ministries of Consolation everywhere.

You can hear some of Curtis’ story, catch some of his righteous tunes, and gather the details of this mission through the video below.

Curtis can’t do something of this magnitude on his own. This is a community project: The Body of Christ reaching out to the suffering Body of Christ! We need you!! As such, this is a crowdfunding campaign through indiegogo.com.  Curtis’ indiegogo campaign is here.

No contribution is too small. Other important ways to help are to SHARE this awesome project with others to spread awareness, and primarily, to PRAY for those grieving, and please pray for this project! May it may truly glorify God!

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