Everyday Gratitude: wk. 5

 “The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away;
blessed be the name of the Lord.”    Job 1:21

  • Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of four daughters.  I bless your name, as we returned to Philadelphia last week, to visit the grave of my firstborn, Mary Catherine.  I thank you for the precious gift of her life, of the witness we provided that the life of a tiny baby has infinite value and worth.  I thank you for the amazing and unknown nurse who baptized her in the OR, when I was under anesthesia and Bobby wasn’t allowed in.  I thank you for her beatitude in Heaven.  I thank you for sustaining me through the early months of grief, and for blessing us with more children.  Amen.
  • Lord, I thank you for the chance to rest after a long week, when all the girls rested and let me rest on Friday afternoon.
  • I am thankful for time in the car to talk with and listen to Gracie.  I love hearing her “read” a story to her sisters (she knows The Very Hungry Caterpillar and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? by heart).  She makes up silly, sometimes elaborate, stories, then tells me she’s just kidding!   Like her dad, you never know what ridiculous things she’ll come up with next.
  • I am thankful for Cecilia’s sweet and infectious baby laugh.  She laughs a lot, because everything amuses her.  She is definitely my happiest, most fun baby yet!
  • I am thankful for Theresa’s snuggliness early in the morning.  Generally, she is independent and busy, but in the morning, and occasionally throughout the day, she gets affectionate and acts so very sweet.
  • I am grateful for a special day with my husband on Saturday, as we attended a diocesan workshop for couples on Prayer and Communication.  The talks and insights where very interesting, inspiring, challenging, and a few times, profound.
  • I am grateful for my parents now living close enough to come spend the day with the kids on short notice, for continuing, beautiful warm weather, and sunny days.
  • I am grateful for the chance to go apple picking with friends, and begin making all things apple!
  • I am grateful for good books to read, making time for reading to myself, and to the girls, and for the opportunity to teach Gracie to read.
  • Finally, I thank you Lord for the challenges, tension, waiting, and change of my life right now; through this time, please help me hear and discern Your will.  Amen.

Everyday Gratitude: wk. 4

“In all created things discern the providence and wisdom of God,
and in all things give Him thanks.”
 St. Teresa of Avila

  • After the first day of school went so well last Monday, the rest of the week was challenging.  Cecilia didn’t nap as well on Tuesday, but school still went fairly well.  Then the rest of the week I got sicker, as the kids (thankfully) felt better, so we didn’t do much else in the afternoons, after our morning activities.
  • I am very thankful for the new activities and friends we’re making, to get out of the house and have new experiences.
  • I am thankful that the lawn in finally mowed; the tall grass I had to call someone, but Bobby finished the back yard.
  • I am thankful Saturday was a productive and busy day, and Sunday we relaxed and visited one of the local Civil War battlefields and cemeteries.
  • I am thankful for the lovely fall weather, a few nice walks, and our quiet little neighborhood.
  • I am thankful the first week of school is over, and it went relatively well, and I have more confidence now that I can homeschool smoothly.
  • I am thankful for cold medicine and for finally feeling better.
  • I am thankful for my husband and my beautiful daughters.
  • I am thankful that all the people I know personally in Florida are safe after Hurricane Irma, and I pray for all those adversely affected by these hurricanes.
  • I am having trouble discerning the “providence and wisdom of God” in several matters lately, especially bills and my lack of a job, but still trying to persevere and “give Him thanks.”
  • And I would also be very thankful for any prayers of others this week, as we remember our first born, Mary Catherine, and visit her grave tomorrow.

Everyday Gratitude: wk. 3

 I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
Psalm 9:1

This past week has been exceedingly busy, as many of the school year activities began.  There was also several feast days important to our family.  For all these blessings, the happy and the difficult, I thank you, Lord Jesus:

  • For the first day of home school co-op.  I think the group will be a good fit for us.  The girls all had fun and no separation anxiety, although they were so happy to see each other after being apart for four hours!
  • For the first day at a women’s Scripture study at our new parish.  I have never participated in a group study like this long term, and I am very excited.  Also, there is free babysitting (!) and the girls were very good.
  • I am very grateful for these new activities with socialization and separation for all of us.  I think its a good thing for us girls to have a little time apart.
  • September 8 we celebrated the Nativity of Mary, and I made a Bohemian poppy seed cake.  This feast is my Marian Consecration anniversary.  I think this year marked 18 years since my first consecration preparation, according to St. Louis de Montford.  I am also very grateful for the new consecration preparation 33 Days to Morning Glory.  The format is easier and in a way, more profound, as you read about the Marian teachings of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Theresa of Calcutta, and St. John Paul the Great.  Fittingly, we celebrated Mother Theresa’s feast day while I was reading about her Marian teachings.
  • And I am very grateful for finding the writing of Mother Theresa.  Her words have resonated with me in a profound way.
  • I am thankful for my husband’s help this weekend to get the school room cleaned and ready for the first day of our home school.
  • For the first day for Gracie and Theresa at Immaculata Academia, my name for our home school.  This first day went remarkably well; mostly on schedule and very productive.
  • Finally, I am grateful for my interview with a trained Called and Gifted interviewer, who helped me sort through my Spiritual Gifts Inventory and discern two charisms to explore further.  I confess to a great deal of excitement over this discovery of my spiritual gifts.  It’s like a “super power” to bring people to Christ!  More on this, as several ideas take shape in my head….
  • I was happy to spend more one on one time with Theresa on Saturday, while her big sister was visiting grandparents.  Theresa and I explored the Farmers’ Market, had a snack at Chick-fil-A, chose florals at Michael’s and picked up a few things at Target.  Theresa really seems to like these special dates; she talks more, and I think enjoys the attention.  (I’m trying to forestall middle child complexes…)
  • And thank you, Lord, for the little things.  For a walk by myself today, for cold medicine and tissues (our well streak ended with the change of weather and contact with other people), for beautiful blue sky days with amazing, cool fall weather, for the chance to be home with my girls.
  • I have also noticed the blessing of less stress since I quit my job, as I’m stress-eating and craving chocolate much less.

Lord, you pour blessings upon us.  Please help me to be grateful and focus on these blessings, not on the many things that worry and trouble me.  Amen.


Everyday Gratitude: wk. 2

Don’t be anxious about anything; rather, bring up all of your requests to God in your prayers and petitions, along with giving thanks. Then the peace of God that exceeds all understanding will keep your hearts and minds safe in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

Dear Lord, thank you for the blessings of this past week:

  • The week started with a “date” with Gracie.  We shopped for winter clothes at a kids’ consignment sale and went out for ice-cream.
  • My computer suddenly started acting strange, and I was sure it was dying and I would lose all my files.  After about five calls to the service center, and a call back from a level 2 technician, a fix was found that actually worked!  Considering my past computer issues, this seemed almost miraculous.
  • A visit with my sister and my niece and nephew.  We hung out in our pajamas, talked lots, and the kids played relatively well together.
  • Sis helped me do some more unpacking, purging, and organizing.  We now have a playroom cleaned and set up!
  • While Sis was here we enjoyed our last day out at a local pool, where Gracie is doing better and better at swimming confidently!
  • Cecilia talks more and more.  Recently, she started saying “thank you” when given something.  It’s so sweet!
  • I am grateful none of my friends were displaced by Hurricane Harvey, and hope to be able to help others less fortunate.
  • Had a “date” with Theresa too.  She came with me to drop of her aunt and cousins at the airport, and enjoyed the escalators and shuttles, and then we shopped at Trader Joe’s and had ice cream.
  • Our health.  I am so grateful no one has been sick this summer.
  • Unexpected messages from friends, and the prospect of seeing lots of dear college friends at 10 year homecoming next month!

Finally, thank you Lord for those things that are so hard to be grateful for; the crosses, trials, and difficulties of life:

  • Financial strains since I had to quit my job.
  • A very unexpected and untimely large bill.
  • The hole in the basement ceiling, which costs too much to fix anytime soon.
  • The unkindness and contempt of several people in the last few months.
  • The uncertainty of which job to pursue, what interests to cultivate, what charism to discern.


 

 

Everyday Gratitude: wk. 1

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thank you, dear Lord, for the many blessings recently received from your hands:

  • A few days of family vacation at the Outer Banks
  • Attendance, with my husband, at the Called and Gifted Conference, and the challenge to discern and use my gifts from You
  • Attendance the following weekend at the Catholic Women’s Blogging Conference;
  • Visit with my sister and nephew and niece, and more time with them this week!
  • For quitting a job that was draining my joy, energy, and time with my family
  • For a fast and painless car inspection at an auto body shop with a playground around the corner, where the kids could play while we waited
  • Resolution to a major computer problem; after I though my computer was dying and all my files lost, Microsoft Support actually helped me fix it!!!
  • More boxes unpacked and cabinets arranged
  • Important lost mail finally arrived
  • The excitement (and savings!) of the fall kids’ consignment sale
  • Cuddles and playtime with three sweet daughters
  • A summer of extra time with my husband before he returned to work last week
  • Sunshine on the ocean, pools to splash in on a hot day, cakes for birthdays, friends to chat with and clean water to drink
  • Daily Mass several times last week.

Amen.

OBX

CWBN Mid-Atlantic Conference {Recap}

This past Saturday I was privileged to attend, for the second year in a row, a blogging conference for Catholic women.  When my husband asked how the conference went, I gave him three highlights: there were drinks (mimosas and sangria), Mary Lenaburg told us to go to Confession, and Kelly Mantoan jumped on the trampoline!  But seriously, the weather was perfect, a miracle for late August in Virginia, and it was wonderful to connect with old and new friends.  Some of my favorite ladies (who also blog) were there to speak and participate.  Because the talks were so awesome, I’m just going to give a quick recap here, for my future reference.

CWBN

First, Elizabeth Foss gave the keynote.  She had many words of encouragement and advice, but here’s what struck me the most: be authentic and tell your own story, because you never know how God intends to use your words to reach other people. Even if I only write about little things in every day life, even if I seem very insignificant, my story, my witness, can bring others to Christ, although I probably won’t know it until Heaven.

Next up, Kelly Mantoan spoke about “finding your blogging mojito mojo.”  Decide why you are blogging, have a mission statement, and then be true to that.  When you don’t want to write, or you’re no longer enjoying blogging, go back to that and decide if your why has changed, or if you have to get back to it.  Kelly also mentioned an idea I was talking about during lunch, with our small group discussion.  A lovely lady at our table, Carey, asked why we read certain blogs or posts.  I responded that I find people whose stories I enjoy, and then read whatever they blog about.  Kelly mentioned this also, that a “niche” is not as important as writing well and being authentic.

The final talk was “Choosing Joy,” brought to us by Mary Lenaburg.  She offered five steps to choosing and living with joy, which were the most profound spiritual reflection I have heard in a long time.  I intend to type these up and remind myself of them every day, as I needed to hear this so much.

1) Go to Confession.
2) Prayer/conversation with God.
3) Learn what redemptive suffering is, then offer up my own.
4) Stay in the present moment and wait with patience.
5) Jesus, I trust in You.

Living this takes a lifetime of practice, but oh, to radiate true joy!  That would such a blessing!

CWBN2

Found a picture of myself 🙂

Last, and very important, a heartfelt thanks to Ana Hahn for hosting this lovely event, and to Rosie Hill for various organizational details, including the beautiful vases of flowers all around.

Looking forward to next year!

 

 

 

 

 

My Sunday Best {2017}: New Dress on the Narrow Way

Sunshine after the rains! It’s a beautiful Sunday here in Virginia!  We were in Maryland visiting my in-laws, and we went to Mass at the church where Grace was baptized.  She was very excited to see the Baptismal Font where she became a member of the Body of Christ!  We took a picture, and in humility I decided to post it, since it didn’t turn out very well!  I’m wearing my favorite new LulaRoe dress!  Gracie wanted a picture of her too!

I don’t usually share a reflection on the Gospel and homily, but something really struck me this week.  The priest spoke on seeking the narrow way, searching for the pearl of great price, and not being distracted by the world (screens, sins, etc.)  And that Christ promises that when we seek, we will find.

However.

What about when we find the narrow way?  What about when we have sold everything to obtain the pearl of great price?  What then?

Then, we need to walk the narrow way, persevering through the brambles, rocks, hills, valleys, deserts, crossing rivers and get up again when we falter, stumble, fall.  We may hold the pearl of great price, but if we gave up much to obtain it, we have to figure out how to live with that loss of income, position, perhaps relationships or opportunities or favorite sins or failings.  Stepping onto the narrow way only begins the journey.

So often, it seems homilies just scratch the surface, inviting people to the seeking, to the searching, hoping to inspire an encounter with the person of Christ, or to open eyes to the very real encounter with Christ that will come just a little later at Mass, in the Eucharist.  Therefore, my conclusion, the reminder I needed, was that I need to take the initiate to cultivate, nurture, work on my Faith and relationship with Christ.  Sunday Mass, a brief homily, and prayers before meals should be a beginning.  Daily prayer, spiritual reading, retreats, study groups, Confession, Adoration, daily Mass; there are so many other ways I need to walk along the narrow way.   Every day, I need to seek, knock, ask for grace to live this life in Christ.

Several days late, but I’m joining Rosie this week for My Sunday Best.  Visit My Sunday Best, Volume 65: Old Favorites for more linkups!

It’s not at Mass, but here’s my favorite picture from this past Sunday, as we enjoyed the gorgeous weather at the splash pad!

My Sunday Best {2017}: New Church and Unplanned Haircuts

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Back to blogging!  My husband is away for two weeks, starting another Masters program with an intensive 6 credit session!  So, my evenings are free and what better way to get back into blogging than with a link-up!  Joining Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for My Sunday Best, and hoping to post regularly again.  So I’m starting the weekly count again, although I have a few past posts in this category.

We moved seven weeks ago, and our new church is both great, and an adjustment!  The priests are all reverent and good homilists, but the church is more casual than our last parish, with no Latin.  Besides, we’d been going regularly to the Extraordinary Form Low Mass, which is very quiet, and I miss the silence.  Still, the parish is very large with lots of ministries, and I’m hopeful we will find the right groups to be involved with!  If by chance you read this and you go to St. Mary’s in Fredericksburg, I’d love to connect with you!

I have to give my daughter credit for finally getting a Sunday Best picture.  There are gorgeous flowering trees outside of church, as well as flower beds, and she asked to take a picture with the flowers.  You can’t really see them, but it was a cute picture of all us girls!  This skirt is the first LulaRoe I ever picked out, and I love it!  I think of it as my Lady of Guadalupe skirt, although it’s technically covered in flowers, not stars.

If you notice Theresa’s bangs look rather short, that’s because she decided to give herself a haircut this morning!

The trim I gave her looks a but silly, but I guess it fits her!

On a reflective note, the readings today reminded me of how I’m trying to plow, water, and rejuvenate the soil of my soul.  I’ve been reading a new book out called Cultivate: A Grace-Filled Guide to Growing an Intentional Life.   Right now, for me, its amazing!  Just what a need to hear and reflect on and work on, in terms of seeking God’s will for my life and learning to cultivate and thrive in the life I’ve been given.  The author relies on a lot of garden analogies, and also says she learned many of these lessons from having a garden, and so today’s readings really spoke to me.

What I took away today was that I need, through God’s grace, to cultivate the soil of my soul and heart and mind to that it is the “good soil.”  And not only does the word need to fall on good soil, but the Word itself creates the good soil!  Finally, I loved what our pastor said about the harvest: the “hundredfold” harvest Christ speaks of is a miracle, more than those seeds would produce on their own.

Maybe I’ll write more about this book, definitely a new house post in the works!  Until next week!

 

My Sunday Best: New Clothes!

Because every post should start with a cute baby picture!

Gaudete! Rejoice! I finally had an outfit today that I was excited to share! I recently posted about how I don’t like my clothes, and on Friday I finally bought some new ones! Here’s my gorgeous Lula Roe Cassie skirt, and a rose top for the liturgical dress win. (The girls all wore pink today too 🙂 

My husband cannot seem to focus the camera or take a flattering picture of me. Grace is getting a camera for Christmas. Maybe she’ll do a better job!

Linking up today with Rosie. Check out her lovely outfit, cute new baby and the other link ups! 

{JEI} The Year of Mercy….or Lord, help me forgive. 

It’s been a few weeks since I published, mostly because the baby’s sleep patterns changed again and I lost my time to blog. Anyway, jumping in for the Just Enough Info linkup, hosted over at Sweeping Up Joy. 
1. What did you do (or can in these last few weeks!) to mark the year?

We prayed and went through the Holy Door at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Since it’s the month of the Holy Souls, it’s easy to finish off the Year of Mercy with prayers for the dead. 

2. What Work of Mercy is easiest or most challenging for you?

Easiest are definitely the ones I can do for my family. Feed the hungry, cloth the naked (even when they resist!), instruct the ignorant (we homeschool). And also making meals, donating clothes, praying for sinners and the dead, these are fairly easy.

But I struggle with some. Forgiveness, that’s a hard one, especially for those things that annoy me every. single. day. Extending mercy to those closest to me, especially through forgiveness and patience, is very challenging.

Also, a quick note on “sheltering the homeless.”  Most lists of the corporal works of mercy look like this:

  1. To feed the hungry.
  2. To give drink to the thirsty.
  3. To clothe the naked.
  4. To shelter the homeless.
  5. To visit the sick.
  6. To visit the imprisoned.
  7. To bury the dead.

The corporal works of mercy are basically taken from Matthew 25:34-26,  “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.  For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in,  I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'” 

“Shelter the homeless” is the one work not found in this passage.  A little research reveals that traditionally, the fourth work was “welcome the stranger.”  I think welcoming the stranger much better captures the spirit and intention of this work of mercy.  It can encompass providing shelter for the homeless, but its scope is much more broad.  If we start to reflect on ways to welcome the stranger, we can begin to recapture the virtue of hospitality, which was once a prominent virtue in the ancient and medieval world, but which has been largely lost in the modern day.  Welcoming the stranger includes many things, from talking to a new family at church, to bringing a meal to a young mom, to inviting over friends even when your house isn’t perfectly clean, or talking to someone new at the park or library.

Maybe *one day* I’ll write a post on this, but I just wanted to mention it, in case you’ve wondered about or struggled with this work of mercy too.
3. Do you have a story of mercy in your own life to share? Or do you have a favourite saint/quote/resource about mercy to pass along?

Going to Confession is, I believe, the most important way we come face to face with God’s mercy. I often struggle to go every month, and more often just doesn’t happen. But I am blessed with a husband who is very devoted to this sacrament, and he encourages me, even when I don’t feel like going.  His example of frequent, devotional confession really inspires me, and apparently inspires others too.  He is a Catholic high school teacher, and the chaplain says that when confession is offered for religion classes (not required, of course, but the opportunity is given during class time), his class has the highest percentage of students who go.

I will close with this quote from St. Therese, coloring page courtesy of Do Small Things with Love.