Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The ultimate Family Meeting

Did you know that in Milan the World Meeting of Families is underway?  I had never heard of it before but this is the seventh World Meeting of Families.  Catholic families from around the world will gather in Milan to promote the value and importance of family.  I cannot tell you how much I wish my own family could be in attendance.

We won't be, of course, but a few months ago, our Teams Of Our Lady (TOOL) chaplain gave us a book entitled, The Family:Work and Celebration which was written as preparation for the meeting.  We have been studying it at our monthly TOOL meetings and it is full of beautiful meditations and explanations of both Scripture and the Catechism which together present God's plan for families.  It also includes ways to live out God's plan.  The book is inspiring and positive and uplifting.  I can only imagine the Meeting itself will be a thousand times more so.

Though I cannot be there with my own family, I will be praying along with the Pope and the families gathered in Milan, that the blessing and the necessity of strong Catholic families will be recognized the world over.  And that all Catholic families will rise to the challenge to become the families that God created us to be and the examples the world so desperately needs us to be.

May all Catholic families be beacons of Light and bearers of Truth to those around us.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

A slippery slope

I have been trying to write a blog post all day.  The words were just not coming.  I could not figure out how to say what has been in my heart and mind the last few days.  Then on Pinterest I found this quote, along with a beautiful picture of our Holy Father—
“We can see, he said, how evil seeks to dominate our world, through cruelty and violence, but also in more subtle ways, posing as a force for good while destroying the moral foundations of society.  Recalling also the words of Our Lord, ‘Take heart, I have overcome the world’, Pope Benedict said we are on the Lord’s team and therefore we will be victorious.”
For the full article it came from click here.

The Holy Father, in his great wisdom, expresses perfectly what has come up repeatedly in my life lately.   Evil is all around us.  The devil is at work.  He seeks to pull us from what is right and good and drag us to his level.  He is sneaky.  He is deceiving.  And he is convincing.  We must fight his attempts on our souls with prayer and truth and the strength of the Lord.  It is the only way to win the fight.  On our own, we are weak and we are easily led astray.  But, with Christ, we can win the battle.

Last night with my family, I watched the movie, “A Man for All Seasons”.  As I watched, I kept thinking that evil is such a slippery slope.  It is so easy to give in to it, especially when everyone else is.  And when we do let evil in, it has a tendency to grow and spread.  I was so struck by the people that continually worked against St. Thomas More, trying so hard to lure him to compromise his beliefs and values and give in to sin.  The prevailing attitude in England at that time was “it is just not a big deal, it is just not worth fighting.”  How close it was to the world I live in, where SO many people around me seem to feel that very same way about the injustices and evil in our country.  

Thankfully, we have our wonderful Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, leading us.  And we have some good and holy priests and bishops in our own country, who are willing to stand up to our government and hold fast to the truth.  Let us support them all and pray for them.  And let us be inspired by the life of St. Thomas More and many other good and holy saints, who show us by their examples that evil is a big dealAnd we absolutely need to fight against it.  With God on our side, we will be victorious.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Update-- on unemployment and life in general

            I’ve been posting fluff again lately.  Sometimes fluff is more fun to write about.  Sometimes I’d rather just have fun with my blogging and use it as an escape from real life.   

            Real life has been interesting though.  We have found unemployment is a very different experience when you still have a job.  Tim’s contract for teaching was not renewed.  We know after the last day of school he has no more job, but he still has to finish up this school year.  So, every morning he still gets up and goes to work.  It is a little strange that we know that the reality of unemployment is looming, but the job is still so demanding and time consuming.  

            Tim has had three interviews so far.  One of them actually came with an offer and we are in the process of discerning whether or not to accept it.  We feel like we are sort of in a holding pattern though.  Waiting, waiting, waiting.  God might be trying to use this to teach me a little patience.  

            And, speaking of patience… we started potty training our youngest this past week.  Potty training the fifth child is a whole lot harder than potty training the older children was.  I am trying to rely on supernatural patience because on my own, I do NOT have enough!  

In the past, potty training always meant we would put life on hold for a week or so, stay home and devote the time to nothing but potty breaks and laundry.  This time around there is no putting life on hold.  We are busy, busy, busy.  So, my poor little one has had to get used to a revolving door of undergarments.  We use only panties at home, but when we go out, as we inevitably must, she wears pull-ups, at night, we are still putting her in diapers- mostly because we still have a few and I don’t want to waste them.   If consistency is the key to successful potty training, we are doomed to failure!  

There is some great news too though- the kids and I have only 4 days left of school!  We are so excited for summer break to finally be here!

            So that's our life right now.  

Interviews, work, the waiting game, and more work-- for Tim.  

Washing tiny panties, cleaning up not-so-tiny puddles all over the house,the waiting game, and holding down the fort at home while Tim is on interviews and at work-- for me.   
Oh, and of course, lots and lots and lots of prayers from both of us, to make it through the ups and downs of life……

Thursday, May 24, 2012

for Pentecost- a simple craft

Our Gospel craft this week is all about Pentecost!   Have you noticed all our crafts start with construction paper and glue?  I like simple and kid-friendly.  What could be more simple and kid-friendly than construction paper and glue? 

Anyway, this week we also used craft sticks, from the dollar store, to form the doors to the upper room.  When the doors are opened, the apostles are revealed and above their heads we glued bits of yellow and red tissue paper twisted to look like tongues of fire.  Here is how the kid's crafts turned out--

A true story: Our very talented new pet

            Early last summer, I received a very unusual e-mail.  It came from a turtle and contained a request to stay with my family for a while.  According to the e-mail, some friends of ours were getting all new flooring in their house and their beloved pet, a western ornate box turtle, shared that she was concerned about being in the midst of the mess.  She wanted a nice clean place to stay, far away from the chaos of remodeling.  She claimed she had heard that our family was nice, and that we had a bunch of energetic but lovable children.  The turtle wrote that she loved energetic children and wonder if we’d be willing to take her in while the changes were made at her house.   

After getting over the initial shock of opening my inbox and finding the unexpected correspondence of a reptile awaiting my response, we agreed to take her in.  Imelda the box turtle arrived with all her worldly possessions in tow- a plastic Rubbermaid “house”, a UVB light, a few dishes, some bottled water, and a baggie of “monkey bread” to eat.    She was a lovely houseguest but after the repairs were done at her house, she left us returning to her familiar surroundings.

After Imelda’s visit last summer, the death of our own pet turtles a few years ago, and the opportunity to adopt a friend’s iguana just a few months ago, we decided to look into getting another pet.  We visited local pet shops a few times but had no luck finding the perfect pet.  Then word of our desires got back to our friends-- the ones who replaced all their flooring last year, the ones with the adorable and talented pet turtle who helped convince us that we wanted a pet to begin with.  Ironically, they were thinking about finding a new home for Imelda because their youngest child just graduated from high school and would be leaving for college in the fall.  

So earlier this week, Imelda the western ornate box turtle came back- this time to stay.  She has settled into her new home quite nicely.  And, the kids are having lots of fun with her.   She has not yet asked to borrow our computer, but if she does- I might just ask her to write a guest post for my blog......

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The prayer of a child

When our youngest son was just learning to pray we wanted to teach him to always thank God as well as to ask for His help.  After our quick "lesson" on prayer, our son bowed his head and said,
 "Dear Jesus, Thank you for the world.  Please help me with the hard stuff."  
 This became his nightly prayer for months and months.  Tim and I were impressed.  In fact, we have both found ourselves praying it upon occasion.  "Thank you for the world, please help me with the hard stuff" pretty much covers it all.   And it certainly does come in handy on those busy days when life gives us lots of "hard stuff" to deal with....

I am linking this post up with Favorite Prayer Share @ I blog Jesus.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Opening up...

            What purpose does blogging have in my life?  I have pondered this question over my years of blogging, coming to different conclusions at different times.  

Sometimes, I blog to share my stories.  
Sometimes, to indulge my love of writing.  
Sometimes, to evangelize. 
Sometimes, to process and make sense of things in my life. 
Sometimes, to record family memories. 
Sometimes, to connect with others.  

Once in a while, I have wondered if I blog for other reasons- ones that are not so honorable.  Sometimes I wonder if I blog for attention.   

For recognition.  For validation.  

I always try, in my blogging, to think before I post though.  Whatever the motivation for the post, I try to be guarded with my words.  I try to be careful and deliberate with what I say and how I say it.  I try to remember that what I am posting will be forever available for the world to see.  Even if I remove a post I cannot guarantee that the words are gone. After all, it takes only a second for someone to hit “copy” and then “paste”, saving my words.  It is possible my words could come back to haunt me.  So I am careful.  I am guarded.  I make sure to be vague at times, and unspecific about details and to keep the internet world at arm’s length.

But, lately I wonder if maybe my prudence is not so necessary.  If maybe it would be okay to be a little more forthcoming, a little more honest and open.  I wonder if I should reveal, here on the internet, more of my struggles and more of my family’s challenges.  

It has been a hard couple of weeks.  I have been feeling frustrated with life, and sad, and scared.  I have struggled but I have “put on a happy face” on my blog.  

Not wanting to be negative, or whiny, or too open, I have hidden my fears and posted nothing but fluff.  

But here it is—my family is once again facing unemployment.  Once again, we wonder, what does God have planned for us next?  Once again, we look ahead to nothing but uncertainty….   It has been a year of struggle as Tim realized very early on in his teaching career, that, really, teaching was not his calling in life.  It was not something he enjoyed particularly.  And the day-to-day struggle to share his love of our Catholic faith with bored, disengaged middle schoolers has taken its toll.  So though he really is ready to move on, neither of us knows just what that might mean.  

We are a little scared and a little curious about what the future might hold, but, most of all, a whole lot worn out from it all…..

Monday, May 14, 2012

Is it summer break yet?

            We are about 2 weeks from finishing up our school year.  In fact, we are at that point in the home schooling year when half of our subjects are all done.  We finished up science a long time ago.  Both boys are done with their math workbooks and have just been working on math drills for a few days now.  We are down to our last chapters in religion. 

            We are actually really close to finishing up all our subjects.  One might think, since we are so close, that we would be extra motivated to just complete the remaining work.  On the contrary, no one at my house seems to be able to find any motivation.  

            Last week, as I looked over my children’s journal entries, I found the following from my 10-year-old son:
“It is very hard to do school.  It has been for the past two weeks now.  Everyone just wants to be done with school.  And there is only one reason: OUR BRAINS HAVE FRIED!  They have been morphed into shriveled up figs due to overworking and overheating.  Our poor brains are dying of exhaustion!  And the only cure is… early summer vacation.”
My son included this diagram to be sure I  understood the gravity of the situation.
My nine-year-old daughter had this to say:
“This year my brain went on summer break before me.  I guess it went to Alaska or Mexico.  Now my brain is not here and it is really hard to finish my school work.  Lots of people say that their brains are on summer break.”  
I suspect the “lots of people” she mentions, refers mostly to her own brothers and sister.  But, maybe her mother and father could be included too…. the truth is, the teachers are feeling a little fried themselves!  

Is it summer break yet?!?!?!?!?

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Mother's day blessings- a re-post

I wrote this list a few years ago.  It was my very first Mother's Day post.  I was, at the time, expecting my fifth child.  

Life has been busy, busy, busy this week and I have not had time to even think about an original Mother's Day post.  But I remembered this one and decided to re-post.  It really says it all.....

 "On this Mother's Day I want to take the time to count my many blessings....especially those most unexpected little blessings of motherhood that I never anticipated but am so grateful to have the chance to experience......

A.  artwork.  My children are truly my favorite artists.  I love their drawings especially the pictures of themselves when they first start making people.  There is something so precious about a lopsided smiley face with arms and legs coming out!

B.  baby baths.  I love the smell of fresh clean kids, their drippy little hair and faces, the cute little squirty toys....but I mostly love when my husband takes a turn giving baths!

C. conversations.  The things my kids and I talk about range from silly to meaningful to ridiculous but I love hearing their thoughts and views on life.

D. dinner.  I have said it before, both a blessing and a challenge with kids, but mostly a blessing.

E. ears.  It sounds so silly but my kids have the cutest little ears.  

F. friends.  Both my own  friends, who I met through my kids, and  the wonderful little friends my children have made through the years.  I am blessed to have lots of great kids in my life.

G. giggling. Those first belly laughs when they are only a few months old are priceless, and hearing the giggle of a child never gets old.

H. helpers.  In a house full of kids, no one has to work alone, especially when baking cookies or brownies!

I.  ideas.  The things they come up with- their imaginations are inspiring!

J. just hanging out. Sometimes it seems like I'm in the minority but I actually enjoy spending time with my children!

K. kicks, and especially rolls in utero.  It is indescribable but so amazing to feel your unborn baby stirring within you.

L.  learning.  As a mother, I have learned so much....and only about half of it during our school time!  There are so many lessons that can only be learned by giving of yourself.

M. Mass. What an amazing blessing to share and pass on my Catholic faith to my children.

N.  notes, on my pillow at night in shaky handwriting with creative spelling that I sometimes have trouble deciphering= some of my most treasured love letters.

O.  overalls. My little boys lived in them until they were potty trained. There is no cuter outfit for a little boy than plain old denim overalls!

P.  pitter-pat of little feet.  I love the sound of toddlers running on the tile floor, it is like listening to a smile of sheer joy!

Q. quiet-game.  Who can be quiet the longest?  One of their favorites, and my all-time favorite!

R.  reading.   I love reading to my children, they love being read to even more.  We have spent countless hours cuddled up together with good books.

S.  sound of thumb-sucking thru the baby monitor in the middle of the night.  Too cute, and so comforting to not have to walk down the hall to check if they are breathing to know they are all right.

T.  Tim. Of course, Tim has been a huge blessing in my life since I met him, even before we had children, but seeing him as a daddy has given me a deeper love and appreciation for him.

U. ultrasound.  It is like getting a glimpse of God at work, as He creates a new masterpiece.

V. Veggietales. Okay, I admit it I am just as entertained by Bob, Larry and Junior Asparagus as they are!

W.  watching.  The pride in watching a child learn to read, tie their own shoes for the first time, or ride a bike with no training wheels... nothing can compare!

X. x-citement over the littlest things.  Having children changes your perspective on everything- who would have thought I would get so thrilled about seeing VW Beetles drive past us on the road?

Y. yucky list.  A personal family solution to picky little eaters.  It works for us. 

Z. zzzz- I may have never really appreciated a good night’s sleep until I brought my first baby home and realized how rare sleep would become!"

Thursday, May 10, 2012

In Love

The kids and I used to be really good about doing crafts every week to go along with the upcoming Sunday gospel, which we always read together on Thursday mornings.   The past few years, we have gotten away from the crafting, though we do still read the gospel.  Today we opened the Bible to see what Sunday's gospel would be and it seemed as though the words were meant for us (which, of course, they were!) .
John 15:9-17 

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father"s commandments
and remain in his love."

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another."
The words alone were comforting and just what we needed to hear this week.  But I thought a craft might help us to really understand even better.

The children traced their hands and we glued them down to represent God the Father.  Then we made the Sacred Heart of Jesus and put that into the "Father's" hands.  Then the children made little pictures of themselves and put themselves into Jesus' Sacred Heart.  

So, there we are-- in Jesus' love as He is in the Father's love.  Exactly where we need to be.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Careening downward?

Life is a roller coaster.  

Really, there is no better metaphor for the ups and downs of life.   

I am just wondering, though, why the downs of life are not nearly as much fun as the thrill and excitement of careening quickly down the slope of a roller coaster.  And, why the downward motion of a roller coaster is over so quickly, but sometimes the downs of life last for quite a while?!?!?!?!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A test of faith and a prayer request

            As a parent, there is nothing harder than watching our children learn heart-breaking lessons in life.  For more than three years, my daughter and I have been praying fervently for a miracle.  We have prayed novenas, said rosaries, and offered intentions every chance we got all for the same thing.

I heard once that God never says "no" to our prayers.  He always answers, either “Yes” or “I have something better in mind.”  Today we must choose to believe that, though it is hard to see how good can come from such sadness and loss.    

You see, we found out the other day that God had a different plan than ours.  The miracle we were praying for did not come.  Today our hearts are heavy.  Today we are filled with sorrow.  We are still praying, still choosing to believe, but our prayers have changed now. Instead of praying for a miracle cure, we are praying for peace, acceptance, strength, and comfort.  

I humbly ask for your prayers also, prayers for beloved family friends who are suffering from the overwhelming sorrow and shock of their loss, for our own sadness, and for all who are fighting cancer.           


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