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Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Simplify

I do not recall a day since December 8 where one of us was not sick. We have cancelled and missed all sorts of Advent and Christmas celebrations. Everyone has been sick but me, some of us twice. Or was I sick and just didn't notice? Moms are not allowed to be sick, right?

Anyway, I pray you are having a blessed preparation time these last few days before Christ's Birthday! We are blessedly focusing on the bare minimum. Mary and Joseph began their journey across our living room yesterday. Here is a Christmas card from my family to yours.


May Jesus simply be all you desire and all you seek.
Merry Christmas As You Celebrate His Birth


Friday, December 17, 2010

One Week Left - Thoughts from Katie


One of my IRL friends (before we were both bloggers) "mentioned" me in a post this week that was an excellent reminder in this busy season (I'm "A friend"). Her quick reminder can help us be sure to stay on track or get back on track, keeping Christ as the center of Christmas!!! I have mentioned before this priest's advice. My moment of fame:

A friend was told by a priest once that she needed not an hour of adoration, but an hour and fifteen minutes of adoration every week. Why? This is the most interesting answer I’ve ever heard, and I think of it often when I am sitting in the Presence of our Lord, distracted as all get out.

It takes an hour to get the octopus of the world off your back.

Then you can have focused prayer for the next 15 minutes.

The octopus of the world.

Do you know it?

Read the rest.


She also posted this gem today that is perfect inspiration as we approach the last week of Advent. Thank goodness that I read it today! Since we have been sick for the past week and are still recovering, I am having to rewrite all of my "to-do" lists to be more realistic about what I can fit in before Christmas Day. She begins:

What are you doing next week to make Christmas holy? I always find a need to refocus on the point of the celebration, don’t you?

I want you to make a new list today.

I know, I know. You’re drowning in lists.
I promise, just one more.
Make a list titled “How to Have a Holy Christmas.”

Read the rest



Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas Gift for Inactive Catholics

What a wonderful letter from Bishop Tobin of Rhode Island to "inactive Catholics!" This is probably one of the best ways to start a conversation with a friend or family member who has drifted as an extra special Christmas gift. I have two family members in mind and am going to start praying for the courage to hand them a copy of this now!

UPDATE: I have received permission from the Diocese of Providence newspaper editor to post on Scribd an easy-to-print copy of this letter for you! It is nothing fancy, but it will print on one page front-back if you want to slip it into a Christmas card or gift! Download here.

Here is how the letter begins...


An Open Letter to Inactive Catholics


BY BISHOP THOMAS J. TOBIN

12/9/10


My dear Brother or Sister: In the spirit of the Advent and Christmas Season, and as the Diocese of Providence nears the end of its “Year of Evangelization,” I’m writing this letter to inactive Catholics of our Diocese – perhaps you’re in that category – to let you know that we miss you, we love you and we want you to come home to the Church.

The first dilemma I faced in writing this letter was how to describe you – an “inactive Catholic,” a “fallen-away Catholic” or a “former-Catholic.” I chose the first option.

I decided against “fallen-away Catholic” for it suggests someone falling off a fence or out of a tree. The image isn’t helpful.

And there’s really no such thing as a “former Catholic.” If you were baptized a Catholic, you’re a Catholic for life – even if you haven’t been to Mass for years, even if you’ve renounced the title and joined another Church. Your baptism infused your soul with Catholic DNA – it defines who and what you are.

Thus, I’ve chosen the title, “inactive Catholic,” because even though you haven’t been “active” in the Catholic community for awhile, especially by attending Sunday Mass, receiving the sacraments and otherwise participating in the life of the Church, you’re still a Catholic. Sorry . . . you’re stuck with us!

read more here


HT to Marcel (I am a proud Aggie Catholic!)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Mystery-Loving Bookworm List

As I have mentioned several times previously, my 8 year old Therese is quite the reader! She devours books, and it is a challenge for me to keep finding appropriate books for her to read that she also enjoys. Mostly, I have to remember that she is a young third grader, reading at about a seventh grade level, so the content of the books she is capable of reading is not always what I want her to read.

Therese's First Grade Pleasure Reading List

Therese's Second Grade Pleasure Reading List

Since I am now having to dig back into my files of book lists to find new reads for her, I thought I would post again about what she has been reading, with my approval. Remember, I do not buy books; we get everything from the library! One tip for authors you like or series you like: Go to Wikipedia and type in the author and/or series title, and you can see an entire listing of book titles. We print these out and keep them in a file, crossing out as she reads them, marking with an "R" those we have requested from our library, and noting those titles our library does not own.



Therese's Third Grade Pleasure Reading...

Boxcar Children books by Gertrude Warner (every single one up to #83, plus 18 more our library has, and all 21 "Specials")

Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne (all 43)

A to Z Mysteries books by Ron Roy (all 26 plus the 4 super editions)

Geronimo Stilton books by Geronimo Stilton (all 40 our library owns)

American Girl History Mystery books by various (9, so far)

Disney Fairies Tales of Pixie Hollow books by various (5, so far)

Encyclopedia Brown books by  Donald Sobol (all 23 our library has)

Blast to the Past books by Stacia Deutsch & Rhody Cohon (3, and counting)

Beverly Cleary books (these are sort of a compromise for me, since I loved them growing up):
Henry Huggins 
Henry and Beezus
Henry and Ribsy

Henry and the Clubhouse
Ramona the Pest
Ramona and Her Father
Ramona Quimby, Age 8
Ramona Forever
Ramona's World

Nancy Drew books by Carolyn Keene (she is up to #20 and still reading, but not at bedtime!, and I won't let her read past #56, too scandalous!)

Andrew Lang's Fairy Books (all in public domain):
The Green Fairy Book
The Yellow Fairy Book
The Pink Fairy Book
The Violet Fairy Book
The Orange Fairy Book
The Grey Fairy Book

More Catholic Tales for Boys and Girls by Caryll Houselander

The Doll People by Ann Martin


The Doll Shop Downstairs by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Little Bo by Julie Andrews Edwards

The Trees Kneel at Christmas by  Maud Hart Lovelace

The Kitchen Madonna by Rumer Godden


As you can tell, we have been focusing on series, so far this year. It has been easiest for me with a new baby in the house to just request titles from these series than hunt for new ones. Like I said, though, the series are mostly exhausted, and it is time to get back to finding new authors to love! When we find them, I promise to share!

Hope, the O.R., & Buckeye Balls



December 1 - One Word.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?


Hope. There has been hope in new life for the first time in forever. After five long years of waiting, we welcomed our little Christopher in June! We had hoped to get out of Miami and return home to Texas, and that hope was realized in August. Now, we simply have hope to settle into this new reality and focus on love and life. I have hope we can become the kind of family we have always dreamed of being!


December 2 - Writing.

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?

I waste time. Often I wander around my Google Reader or email without really accomplishing anything when I could easily write a quick post (or sometimes even a longer one). I think I need to set goals for each time I sit down at the computer. Once or twice a day, respond to email. Once or twice a day, go through my reader. Once a day, work on the blog. I am certain this will involve a timer each time, but I have resisted that restriction no matter how many times I hear it helps another writer.
 
 
December 3 – Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

WARNING: A little graphic... the O.R. during my c-section.

I know it is crazy to choose this, but my experience was so drastically different from my first c-section that it was very vivid in a great way. The room was, of course, freezing cold, full of silver metal stuff, and brighter than anything ever could be! The only smell I remember was when they were making the incision, as my first one was not done with a cauterizing scalpel (is that even what they call it?). Yes, it smells like something is burning. Anyway, the voices were all positive and comforting.

My OB was very serious but loving, especially after while she was closing me when she told me I needed to do crunches daily after recovery due to my muscle atrophy! I was silent. She thought she offended me at first, but I was just trying to figure out how to respond. No, I have not been doing the crunches daily. The anesthesiologist, who probably thought someone already gave me some happy drugs, had a kind, almost playful voice and laughed at my silly jokes. My husband did not say much; he just held my hand, and I do remember that.

You do not see much during a c-section except the drape in front of you, which kept falling into my face. It was blue with dark spots on the opposite side (blood spatter). I remember my arms were cold, because they were stretched out with the IVs and other cords. Moving them to push the drape out of my face warmed them more than the warm blankets the anesthesiologist kept draping over them.

I was overjoyed when I saw my precious boy. He didn't look very good (a little blue from the cord being wrapped and quite bloody) but screamed loudly, proclaiming he was just fine. More than seeing him, though, was the moment they put him in my arms. I do not remember looking at him then. I know I looked at a camera, because we have a picture. But, I think, I closed my eyes. I just felt so very alive holding that newborn, screaming his head off, and full of such joy that God would bless me with this precious baby. My healthy body had carried yet another life to full term when before and during my pregnancies, there were so many doubts.

That moment was me. alive.
And, I stayed alive even after Daddy took the little man to the nursery. They sewed me up, and I laughed with the doctors and nurses. I declined the happy drugs to help me relax (read: put me to sleep), because I wanted to treasure every moment and keep feeling alive. Waiting to see my baby again was agonizing, but I simply was too full of joy to complain. During suturing, the assistant cut the knot, so my OB had to start over. She apologized. I giggled. It just seemed funny that such a simple mistake was made with such a serious surgery.

The tech who put the tape on my bandage was brutal. I remember thinking she was putting duck tape on to hold me together, but I smiled and tried to talk with her. Even the doctor who took off my bandage (with me squirming/climbing the bed in pain) remarked how much tape was used (and the pain was not from the incision but from the tape pulling at my skin). I was scraping off adhesive for weeks (literally) afterwards.

I was on cloud nine a few hours later when big brother and big sister came by to meet brother. What amazing joy! But, my moment was lying on the table, holding my newborn son for the first time. Both of us were so alive!


December 4 – Wonder.

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

Since Christopher has been born, I have been simply gazing at my children more often. All three of them. Just looking at their faces, their smiles, into their eyes. I listen to what they say with genuine interest and am in awe of each one of them. Christopher is just the smiley-est baby I have ever met (I often am tempted to tell strangers not to feel special, since he smiles at everyone!), and his innocent smiles from day one have just captivated my heart and begged me to pay attention. This has been such a gift from God to remind me to pay attention to Therese and John Bosco, as well. I see God's miraculous creations and am in awe.


December 5 – Let Go.

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I could go two ways with this, but I think it is somehow all one anyway. In the spring, there was a huge division within our Catholic homeschooling support group. Several families contemplated leaving the group due to some misunderstandings and differences of opinion with the leadership. In the midst of the conflict, before anything was resolved, my husband and I made the choice to leave the group. At the time, we did not know we were moving to Texas, but it seemed that there were too many in the group whose lives, beliefs, and goals were vastly different from our own. We cut off ties completely with the group, and merely kept in contact with our close friends, a handful of families. Of course, a few months later, to our dismay, we learned we would be leaving those friends, too.

I have no regrets with how this all played out for me. I made the apologies that needed to be made and prayed for those who never offered their own. Separating from the conflict completely allowed my family to focus on the joyful birth of our son and not get caught in further emotional distress. And, as a result, we became even closer to our true friends, making our move more difficult, but also preserving some beautiful memories in those few short months, allowing me to look back fondly on all of my time there.


December 6 – Make.

What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

Do Christmas candies count? I made buckeye balls for my children's co-op teachers on Wednesday, using my grandmother's recipe. My mother makes these every Christmas, and I have carried on the tradition. They are made to look like the buckeye nut, which grows in Ohio where she was born and raised. These decadent treats are peanut butter, powdered sugar, butter, and vanilla formed into balls and dipped in melted chocolate. I used my ancient cheap hand mixer and did not break it (I have broken two making buckeyes in years past; the dough can get thick). I do need to make a few more batches and some St. Nicholas chocolates, but I am waiting until the stomach bug passes our family before making treats to give away! My father in law, in particular, cannot wait for these goodies each year. I am told they disappear within a day or two, even when hidden in the freezer under the meat!


December 7 – Community.


Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

Most obviously, I have found community here in our new home. We have joined three Catholic homeschooling groups since moving here, and each one has welcomed us and created community for us in different ways. I have chosen to join a women's study at one of our co-ops in order to more deeply connect with those women on a spiritual level. I also hope to continue my monthly mom's breakfasts in order to share the more practical connection we have as Catholic homeschooling mothers.


more to come...

Reverberations 2010

Somehow I discovered Gretchen Rubin's blog The Happiness Project before I heard about her book The Happiness Project. (I'm a little slow sometimes) And, I hope to post about her ideas once I have finished reading her book (next year).

For now, let me just say that I think she is on to something that the rest of the self-help world has mostly missed. Anyway, one of the projects to which she contributes is Reverb 10.

"Reverb 10 (#reverb10) is ... an open online initiative that encourages participants to reflect on this year and manifest what’s next. It’s an opportunity to retreat and consider the reverberations of your year past, and those that you’d like to create in the year ahead. We’re connected by the belief that sharing our stories has the power to change us." (from their website)

I do not tweet, because (I hope) my writing is more reflective and impossible to communicate in 188 characters. (I even had to look up how long a tweet is just now to write that!) And, there is no way I can promise to respond to a prompt every single day, so I did not sign up to officially participate in the project.

Nevertheless, I love their prompts! I found them on December 7 and signed up to receive them in my inbox. Every one begs me to write! In the spirit of self reflection, I am going to respond to their prompts, but in batches here and there. I truly think it is vital for us as Christians, wives, and mothers to pause periodically and ask the Lord what it is he needs from us. If we do not do so, we run the risk of never reaching our potential and regretting what could have been.

Look for my first reverberations soon!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Circle of Silence

My year to consider silence has neared its end and has come full circle. I do not feel I have had any grand epiphanies regarding the role of silence in my life but rather many small yet profound realizations. More on that soon.

A Woman Wrapped in Silence: [Poem]

My Advent companion has been this gem - A Woman Wrapped in Silence by John Lynch. It is an epic poem, published in 1968, and while I have never yet finished it, I keep coming back to it every few years and beginning again. Here's why:

This was a little child who knew not man,
Nor life, nor all the needed frauds of life,
Nor any compromise, and when she turned
To raise the earthen jar, and faced the airs
Of Spring, she smiled for young security,
And she was glad. These were her own, these lanes
Of Nazareth. She'd known the slope and feel
Of them for all her years, and they had known
Of her, and she was walking now and was
Familiar, and the well she sought not far
Beyond the clustered houses was so old
It had become a part of permanence.
The sky around it was so clear, serene
With blue, and framed with hills that had been hers
For always, and which lifted up a silence
She had loved. These thresholds were her friends,
These white walls leaning, and the narrow doors,
And she could watch the shadows and the slant
Of sun, and turn a corner so, and hear
The farther crowing of a cock, and guess
That in the marketplace were dusty sheep
She could not hear; and passing on, she marked
With deeper care that from an opened window
Rose the sound of psalms. She was at home.
These few streets and the ruts in them were home,
And she was sure, and young, and now the others
At the well had called to her, and said
Among them it was Mary who had come.

You can read more (but not all) at Google Book here: A Woman Wrapped in Silence.

I generally try to reflect on Mary's role in the season of Advent. Last year, that was easy. I was in my first trimester and praising God for feeling so lousy, waiting joyfully for this little one! This year, I was drawn to pull this classic book off my shelf.

[One disclaimer - as I said I have yet to read it cover to cover, and it does not have an imprimatur; it was published by Paulist Press, and I have seen a few goofy things from them. So, read intelligently, my dear readers.]

The first few pages (quoted above) provide me with days of food for meditation. I have always been one of those women who have a hard time turning to Mary. As a mother, I am told, it makes sense to turn to her, because she knows what we endure. But, I know she can't know all of it. She was Created without sin. I wasn't. Boy howdy, I was not! And my children? Well, they are most certainly not God! I mostly feel like Kate's nana.

Yet, with these poetic words, Our Mother is finally accessible to me. I can picture her as a real person, with a personality (whether Lynch's description of hers is accurate or not is inconsequential to me). I can close my eyes and know she really lived on this earth and is not merely some foggy figure I imagine in prayer.

Once upon a time, in deep prayer (I was on a retreat), I was begging Jesus to bring me closer to Him. He seemed far away, as if down a distant, dark hallway. There was always space between us, even though I was moving forward and He was standing still. It was then I realized that I need help. I cannot get to Jesus all by myself. Out of the corner of my mind's eye, I saw Mary (okay, it was really a fuzzy light, but I knew what my imagination was trying to see) approaching me. As I recalled her role in leading us to Christ, I imagined her taking me by the elbow, much like someone would lead a blind person, and guiding me towards Jesus.

Since then, this is how I see Mary. She is loving, as Kate says, the Cause of Our Joy! Her generous heart leads us to her Son always, no matter our failings and weaknesses. She is always there waiting, kindly, lovingly, to help us grow in holiness. Lynch's words of peace and joy that Mary lived are how she hopes to nourish this mother's heart and yours, as well.

This Advent, if you have not done so already, take some time to be with Mary, in the reading of this poem or some other way. Get to know her better. She will lead you to her Son this Christmas.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Measuring Success

Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent, Cycle A
Matthew 3:1-12

John the Baptist appeared, preaching in the desert of Judea
and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”
It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said:
A voice of one crying out in the desert,
Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths.
John wore clothing made of camel’s hair
and had a leather belt around his waist.
His food was locusts and wild honey.
At that time Jerusalem, all Judea,
and the whole region around the Jordan
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees
coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers!
Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?
Produce good fruit as evidence of your repentance.
And do not presume to say to yourselves,
‘We have Abraham as our father.’
For I tell you,
God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
Even now the ax lies at the root of the trees.
Therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit
will be cut down and thrown into the fire.
I am baptizing you with water, for repentance,
but the one who is coming after me is mightier than I.
I am not worthy to carry his sandals.
He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.
His winnowing fan is in his hand.
He will clear his threshing floor
and gather his wheat into his barn,
but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”


Measuring Success

Inspiration for this post came from our deacon's homily at Mass on Sunday...well, the part of it I heard anyway! He is a fiery preacher, and he asked us to look at St. John the Baptist's life. He wandered without a home, preaching throughout the region, inspiring many to think he was crazy, wearing a camel's hair coat (scratchy), and eating locusts and honey (the honey to make the locusts not so gross, right?). He eventually had his head cut off by a dancing girl who wanted to impress her mother.

Yet, Jesus says, "Amen, I say to you, among those born of women there has been none greater than John the Baptist." (Matthew 11:11) Wow. It hit me once again that God's success stories are nothing like the success stories of this world! This echoed what I had been told in Confession the day before - stop being so hard on yourself; it sounds like you are actually doing quite well.

This world puts value on tangible accomplishments. Even my beloved husband and I are tempted to beg for a job with fewer hours and more pay (aren't we all?), but I silently remind myself that these things cannot measure our success. Our success cannot be measured by our time or money or things but by how we spend the time and money and use the things!

I actually have a bit of a complex about always needing to do more/better and never being satisfied with my own efforts. Call it perfectionism if you want, but I have long given up the illusion that anything I do can ever be perfect (since I'm not God). My issue is more in line with what most mothers eventually realize - our work is never, ever done. There is rarely a tangible way to measure our success as mothers, especially those of us who homeschool and choose informal evaluations over tests and grades.

So, I am hoping to keep in mind St. John and Jesus' high praise for him these busy days of Advent. That I stifled the urge to scream at my children one more time is a success in God's eyes. Jesus would be pleased that I sat down for ten minutes this morning as the baby slept to journal with Him rather than fold that pile of laundry at my feet. I choose to look each of my children in the eyes and genuinely smile at least once a day, and that pleases the Lord. We read a story about sacrifice and talk about how giving and receiving gifts at Christmas is truly about Jesus Christ.

For even if I sleep in my clothes and eat cold french fries (from yesterday) for lunch, but manage to read the a Jesse tree Bible story to my children and say the Angelus at lunch for the first time in ages, I can be successful today. Focus on Christ. That is success. Just like John the Baptist. Not that I did those first two things today. Not me. {innocently blinking}

Let Them In

When I wrote this post a bit ago, I expected some people to fuss at me, either silently to themselves or "out loud" in the comment box. Maybe you did. How could I be so exclusive? How could I not welcome anyone God puts in my path?

Elizabeth shares how important it truly is to share with others as inspired by the Holy Spirit, because this can lead to deeper faith. These are not the kind of encounters to which I meant to refer. When I meet someone new or when I happen to encounter someone in my daily life, I do try to reach out to them for that moment. I cannot stress how important this is, because we cannot turn away when the Jesus in Others needs us!

My post was specifically intended to explain how I feel about my closest friendships, the ones I devote time and effort to nourishing. And, I felt like maybe I needed to clarify that one more time. Please do not turn away from those who need you today. Okay, now I feel better.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

You Might Be a Homeschooling Mom If...

You tell your wiggly 5 yo son to write just two words neatly in his handwriting book and then do two somersaults. Write two more words beautifully and jump five times. Write two more near-perfect words and do three jumping jacks. Etc... (and it works!!!)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Opening My Eyes to Jesus

This blog started as a place for me to post reflections on the Sunday Gospels, as I noticed myself struggling to pay attention to them. Like most mothers of young children, getting through Mass takes an incredible amount of mental focus and awareness, and most of that is wasted on ensuring the children do not climb the pews or shriek into the echoing vastness of our church! But, it seemed appropriate to try this again, at least here and there, as we enter a new liturgical year.


Gospel for the First Sunday of Advent, Cycle A
Matthew 24:37-44

Jesus said to his disciples:
“As it was in the days of Noah,
so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
In those days before the flood,
they were eating and drinking,
marrying and giving in marriage,
up to the day that Noah entered the ark.
They did not know until the flood came and carried them all away.
So will it be also at the coming of the Son of Man.
Two men will be out in the field;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Two women will be grinding at the mill;
one will be taken, and one will be left.
Therefore, stay awake!
For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.
Be sure of this: if the master of the house
had known the hour of night when the thief was coming,
he would have stayed awake
and not let his house be broken into.
So too, you also must be prepared,
for at an hour you do not expect, the Son of Man will come.”


Open Your Eyes

Most homilies I hear on this Gospel appropriately focus on the Second Coming. We are asked to consider if we are truly prepared for Christ's return. Are we living our daily lives as if He could come any moment? This reading is selected for Advent, because the entire season is devoted to preparing ourselves for Jesus's Coming, both in the Incarnation and the Final Judgment.

As I reflect on this Gospel today, however, I find a simpler message. It is a simple reminder to stay awake every moment of every day for the ways Christ comes to me in my daily life. This Advent, I want to prepare my heart in prayer each morning to receive Him each day in every little way, whether that be joyous or inconvenient.

Do I see Him when my children wake me up before dawn? Do I hear Him when I hear a child cry out in frustration? Do I speak to Him when the child interrupts me for the fifth time? Do I touch Him when one child needs an extra long cuddle despite the mountain of laundry to fold? (do you see a theme here?)

Do I answer the phone when I see it is the mom who "needs to talk" one more time? Do I smile at my husband and throw my arms around his neck when he returns very late at night from a difficult work day? Do I reach out to a family member who deserves my attention but is often ignored? Do I speak kindly and smile to each cashier, server, or stranger I encounter while running countless errands? (where else can we find Christ?)

I have determined I must see Christ in my children this Advent. My too frequent sharp tongue and my sometimes stiff arms need to melt away and be replaced with gentleness. I am asking Our Lord to prepare my heart to be ready to receive Him in all ways, but especially through my children. Their innocence, their inspiring faith, and their unconditional love are the same as His. I welcome Him in them. How will you open your eyes to see Him?


'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'

Friday, November 26, 2010

Happy Tears

I disappeared for a while, preparing to host Thanksgiving dinner for my family (first time as a married woman), but everyone is on their way home, and I needed to sit down! So, hello again! I hope you had a Happy Thanksgiving! I did. Good food, loving family, great wine, crisp weather, and an Aggie W made for the perfect day!!!!!

In the past 24 hours, three random things have brought joyful mistiness to my eyes. I tend to think that these types of tears are always inspired by that which is true, good, and beautiful, the ancient criteria to prove something comes from God, our awesome Creator.

I am curious. What causes happy tears for you? Are those things true, good, and beautiful?


Exhibit 1.

This:



Exhibit 2

Seeing a good friend's beautiful baby bump for the first time (in a picture on FB)! I last saw her over the summer when she first announced her pregnancy. She just looks gorgeous! (this isn't her, but you get the idea)



Exhibit 3

Watching Therese and John in their pjs snuggle with grandma, grandpa, uncle J, and good books in my living room! Is there anything better? I turned to my husband and said, "This is why we moved back to Texas."


True. Good. Beautiful.

Friday, November 19, 2010

BFFs


Friendships. This has been on my mind a lot lately even before I read Elizabeth's column on Facebook friends. Leslie touched on some of my thoughts lately, as well, and I can especially identify with her admission - "I'm the sort of person who's skin crawls at the thought of prolonged superficiality." Me, too!

Ever since middle school, I have had many acquaintances but only two to three true friends in each season of my life. You probably can call to mind those who were your BFFs.  In middle school, I remember Jennifer, Andrea, and Stacey. In high school, I had Wendy and Emily. In college, they were Gina and Terri. One summer, Rachel became my pal. Early marriage, I found Margaret and Stephanie (more mentors than friends, actually). As a new mother, I was inspired by Lauren and Mary. In law school, God sent Katie, Kate, and Carolyn (then Lauren). In Florida, I met Cristina, Mimi, and Theresa. All so special!

My personality is such that new conversations either get deep really fast or die even faster. I like to get to know other people really well. So, by our second one-on-one conversation, we are either forever friends, polite acquaintances, or waving goodbye. This doesn't mean I will not invite groups of acquaintances to hang out (like at our recent Mom's Breakfast), but my forever friends are the ones I make a point to enjoy their company regularly!

Anyway, the reasons I have been pondering friendships are that we just moved to a new city where I only knew a handful of people, and I am gladly enduring another babyhood phase of my life in which free time is nonexistent. I admitted yesterday to a friend, IRL on FB (that feels so hip to type!), that I realized I am and feel I must be very guarded with my choices of friends in this season of life. My rationale appears quite selfish, but I am okay with that. What I am trying to do is put my family first, because if mama ain't happy...

My guidelines for making new friends IRL (so, dearest friends who are already loved and do not fit one or more of these, I will not leave you) are the following:

1. She must not require a lot of time from me. Honestly, God has filled my hands with homeschooling and raising three amazing children while seeking my own holiness and my beloved husband's. I do not have time for weekly play dates or daily chats on the phone, much less a more mature dessert, wine, or coffee date. If we are going to spend time together, it is going to be with my children. Therefore...

2. I must like her children and like them enough to want them to be friends with my children. If this is true, I know we have something in common. We have high expectations for the behavior and holiness of our children. Our children are our life and our vocation. Leading to...

3. She has to be a stay-at-home homeschooling mom. Honestly, my time is so precious that if I am going to spend time that is intended to nourish me, I need to spend time with someone who spends her time in a similar way each day, who faces similar joys and challenges, and who can relate to my lifestyle choices, giving me sound advice, support, and encouragement. Consequently...

4. It would be ideal if she is a strong Catholic in love with the Truth of Holy Mother Church. My faith is such an integral part of my life that I want my intimate relationships to include that faith. During this season of my life, I do not feel called to defend my faith on a regular basis. Religion is such a sacred, personal topic that to delve into deep conversation with anyone of faith automatically involves his/her beliefs. Sure, I could agree to disagree with someone on some things, but if it is a central Truth of my life, I would always feel uncomfortable truly sharing my heart.

Disclaimer: Yes, it is healthy to have friends who see things differently. No, I am not opposed to being friends with someone the Lord puts in my path who does not meet my guidelines. That is why they are guidelines not requirements! I am speaking here of those women I seek out specifically for friendship.

What do you think? Am I being too picky? Do you understand my reasoning? Are you happy with your circle of friends? What guidelines do you follow for carefully choosing friends? (and, let us talk soon about how to teach your children to choose friends carefully!)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

On a Lighter Note...

I know I am way behind on loving this lady, but I am looking forward to watching her Thanksgiving feast on Throwdown with Bobby Flay, which I DVR'd tonight (can I say that?). Even her announcement of the show is typically hilarious! It is too late now for me to properly enjoy a cooking show, but I felt like writing a quick post to make sure all of you have savored at least one or two or seven recipes from my very first favorite cook.
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl

Actually, I almost titled this post "How I Am Becoming My Mother," but then you would probably think I was going to post about how I speak to my children. No, in that regard, I am nothing like my mother. Her voice was always calm and gentle in my recollection.

My mother does, however, love to cook and has watched cooking shows as long as I can remember. Every once in a while, I will turn one on, but not until today have I actually looked forward to watching a cooking show in advance. Unfortunately, I admit this is resulting in near panic as I plan the menu for Thanksgiving, because my mom is coming. And she insists I do it all "my way," whatever that is!

The reason I am excited about seeing the Pioneer Woman cook? Well, besides the fact that Mrs. Drummond is absolutely hilarious and a fellow homeschooling mom, my family has liked every recipe I have tried from her cookbook. Yes, every single one. Now, I have not tried them all, because I do not actually own the cookbook. yet. Sad, isn't it? I had it from the Miami Public Library for a month, and it is currently my turn at our new local library. My daughter suggested I put it on my Christmas wish list, but adults in our family do not get gifts anymore, except for the homemade scissors-paper-glue kind, which are the best ones anyway.

Wow. It is late, and I am rambling. My point? Buy her cookbook: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl. Check it out from your local library. Visit her online. Catch the replay of Throwdown at 7PM ET this Saturday. You will love how simple she makes preparing such yummy foods, and your family will love her food!


Grace & Peace,
Antonina

My Horrible Wedding Week


This post was very difficult to begin writing, but once I started, I could not stop. I apologize in advance for the lengthiness. Please know I could have written much, much more.


I could not post yesterday, although I intended to do so and had the time available. You see, this week is probably the hardest week for me every year, and what is on my mother's heart these days is tough to put into words. This Saturday, my beloved husband and I will celebrate eleven years of marriage! We were married on a Saturday, so this year it is particularly easy to remember each day leading up to our wedding.

Now, do not get me wrong. My beloved husband and I are very happy together. We have a wonderful marriage. These eleven years have been full of great challenges and great rejoicing, but we both know the same as we did when we began our friendship that we are called to lead one another to holiness. The Lord has most certainly given us many opportunities to do so, beginning with this week eleven years ago.

That week, my husband switched careers. I lost my grandmother who was living alone in Pennsylvania suddenly in a tragic accident on Tuesday evening. Living in College Station after both graduating from Texas A&M University, we were intimately involved in the horrifying Bonfire Collapse on Thursday. And, after all that, we still had to get got married.


The Job

My beloved husband's first love was being a police officer. At the time he was looking, however, hiring was limited, and he took the job he could get, working midnights in the county jail. So, part of my marriage discernment was whether or not I could be "a cop's wife," because that life has its unique crosses. Obviously, I had agonized over this but eventually concluded it was God's will I marry this man.

Then, he surprised me a few weeks before our wedding with a job opportunity at our university student center. Easier hours, great pay, and he wanted to serve God in this way. My beloved husband is a convert to Catholicism, coming into the Church at the student center just months before we began our friendship. On fire for his faith as most converts are, this was his chance to give back to the community that had brought him home to Holy Mother Church.

He announced the job change to our friends and family at our wedding reception, as the details had only been finalized the past few days. This huge, life-altering decision happened rather quickly amidst all the wedding preparations. At the time, I left it up to him, because I had already discerned to accept the harder road. This change would just make it easier for me, I thought. Regret is probably too strong of a word, but there are times, I know, he wishes he never made that career switch.


Tuesday Night

On Tuesday evening I called my mother, as planned, to finalize her trip down the next day to help me with remaining wedding preparations. My father answered, clearly sobbing, only the second time I remember such open emotion from him. He was confused why I was calling, because he was in the midst of phone calls between his only brother in Florida and the police in Pennsylvania (he lives in Texas).

Apparently, Grandma, physically in pretty good shape for her age but suffering from other issues for many years, had run into the street at night while unloading groceries from her trunk. The police speculated that perhaps a receipt or her hat blew into the street, and she chased it. There was no time for the car to stop, and she died instantly.

I only was able to get a few details from Dad before he had to get off the phone to allow the police and funeral home to call him back. My fiance and matron of honor sat with me, as we prayed and wondered if the wedding should go on, could go on.

It was not until late that night, I believe, that Dad called me and said I still had to get married on Saturday, that it was what she would have wanted, for me to be happy. They arranged to wait until the following Monday for the funeral. My family flew directly from my wedding to Pennsylvania. I went on my honeymoon as planned, too, honoring my new husband and leaving behind father and mother. It was what everyone else wanted me to do, and it was right but not what I would have chosen.

Because of Grandma's instability, she no longer traveled and was not planning on attending my wedding, but I was her favorite granddaughter (okay, I was her only granddaughter, but she certainly treated me like her favorite). She and I always had a special connection, even before the scary afternoon I saved her from choking to death when I was a teenager. So, a small part of me believed and still believes that the only way my grandmother could attend my wedding was in spirit, and with her physical body and mind no longer holding her back, in death, she was with me in the church on Saturday.


Thursday Morning

Every Aggie still close to Aggieland, remembers where they were when they learned Bonfire fell. For us, it comes close to "Where were you when the Challenger fell?" but, of course, is only a faint whisper to "Where were you when the towers fell?" My phone rang early, before seven, I think. It was for my matron of honor, who was staying in my guest room down the hall. I found it odd, her study partner calling at 6AM, but I stumbled down the hall and told her the phone was for her. After a few minutes, she came and climbed into bed with me (not weird, best friends do that) and told me Bonfire had fallen. and. people. were. trapped. inside.

She had already called her husband and parents to let them know, but they were out of town. I remember holding my breath, but not knowing why, while I waited for my fiance to pick up the phone where he was staying across town. Later, I would learn he had decided after saying good night to me around midnight that he would stop at his temporary home to change and then go out to Bonfire. He had never been to "stack" before (that's what they called putting all the logs on the tower), and he was inspired by the imminent loss of his bachelorhood to do something uber-manly.

Well, thanks to God and to Mike, he picked up that phone in the morning and told me he was on his way, finally, out to "stack." But, he was not going to work, as he had planned. Mike had been home when my beloved stopped by, and they started talking. And fortunately, the unlikely happened. They gabbed until the wee hours of the morning, and my beloved never made it out to work on "stack." They remember hearing the sirens, learning shortly afterwards about the tragedy.

My beloved still went out to Bonfire that day, but he went to work security. Even though he had switched careers, he still maintained a reserve capacity and went to lend aid. Mostly, he worked the perimeter, keeping onlookers out of the way of the emergency crews. The things he saw that day and into the next night as the experts worked to rescue whomever was left alive under those enormous logs were horrifying. At home, we kept the television on, rejoicing as they recovered the injured Aggies and crying as they released the names of the deceased. My bridesmaid's luncheon was surreal as we gurgled wine at a local winery, wearing maroon and white ribbons to honor the fallen.

I know most of my readers will not understand why a big bonfire was so important. At Texas A&M, Bonfire was one of those things that holds people together. If you have ever been to some sort of survival, team-building, or leadership seminar, conference, or retreat, you have a taste of what bonds can be formed by such work. Bonfire united Aggies to a common purpose, one that externally seems sophomoric, but one that strengthened each individual who took part in any way. So, when stack fell, it was more than just a tragedy where lives were lost. It was a devastating blow to the strength of each Aggie.


Saturday

Yes, we still had to get married after all this, mostly because God said so. That's a post for another day, though, how the Lord put it on my heart to seek a friendship with this particular young man and made it so obvious to both of us we were supposed to get married. Anyway, we had to get married, because death is a part of life. Entering our marriage, we knew that no one is a stranger to tragedy. It is all around us, and it is unavoidable.

But, this week is still hard. I remember the awkward moments, trying to celebrate our new life together amidst chaos. I remember the terrifying moments, not fully understanding what was happening or why. Mostly, I remember going through that week in a fog until Saturday morning. My precious gift of organization was supremely important to even get us to Saturday morning. In fact, every anniversary when we watch parts of our wedding video, I am reminded of our priest's amazement at my preparedness.

I woke up early the day of my wedding. Who doesn't? And, I had everything done. Maybe not so common? There was no racing around at the last minute. Everything was on schedule, but I was early. So, I sat down at the computer and changed my hotmail from my maiden name to my married name and emailed everyone in my address book about the change, including Fr. Mike, who was at that moment preparing his homily for our nuptial mass and heard the "ding!" telling him he had a new message.

What he told the witnesses gathered was that I was the most organized person he had ever met and that he had never (yet) met a bride who had extra time to change her email the morning of her wedding. (Remember, this was eleven years ago, before Facebook and iPhones!) He thanked God for my gift of organization and the ways I had used that gift to serve our university parish. And, let me stress, dear reader, organization does come easily to me only because it is a gift from God, and with such gifts comes great responsibility. (another topic for another time - why I am more at fault for disorganization than the average person)

What Fr. Mike did not say was what I only now realize looking back on that morning. The extra time I had, to take a bath and change my email, was an opportunity for me to go from mourning to rejoicing, to put things in perspective and truly focus on the grace I was about to receive with my new husband in the sacrament of holy matrimony. For, I had gone to bed after seeing my florist scrambling to squeeze in my flowers amidst the dozens of requests for sympathy arrangements and gathering to pray a rosary for my deceased grandmother and those fallen Aggies. I remember tears on my pillow, but I awoke to a new day and a new life.

Our wedding day still had drops of sorrow amidst the joy. In the church, someone placed a framed picture of Grandma next to the white candle I requested be burning on a window ledge during the wedding. Our ushers wore maroon and white ribbons, honoring the fallen Aggies. Fr. Mike included a special prayer for my grandmother's soul during the Prayers of the Faithful. From the top of the tower where our reception was held, we could see the carefully dismantled logs that once were Bonfire.


Everything

In all this, as in everything, God was there. I was grateful not to have to ask where He was in all this tragedy. My faith insisted and many outward signs of friends and strangers indicated that he did not abandon us in our hour of need. And, he has continued to stand by me, no matter what. Despite my own sorrows, I have always felt a confidence in the continuing presence of God. I just know He is working through all things for good. He does not leave us. He walks beside us in all things and tries to pull us closer to Him and, therefore, to each other.

Grandma, I miss you. You inspire me to make my children's relationships with their grandparents a priority. To the Aggie 12, you will always be remembered. I will never forget you, even though I did not know even one of you personally. Dad, thank you for pushing past your grief to celebrate my marriage and insist I do the same. Mike, thank you for being a great friend to my beloved husband and unknowingly preserving him from harm.

My beloved, I love you more every day. Thank you for everything. Yes, everything.

May the souls of the faithfully departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.


Grace & peace,
Antonina

Monday, November 15, 2010

Whoopy once, whoopy twice, whoopy chicken soup with rice!



I am passing out the chicken soup today! One of my littles has a nasty cold, and I do not want it coursing through the family right before Thanksgiving visitors arrive. Admittedly, the lunch menu was chicken ramen, because it was all I had. But, I am working on something better for dinner! Maybe we'll dig out Chicken Soup with Rice, too!

Anyway, having one in bed (self-imposed) today actually enabled the rest of us to accomplish so much in school! I have been struggling lately with how long it takes for us to accomplish a day of schoolwork. A plan that should take two to three hours is easily taking five or six, because of the interruptions, mostly from the baby. And, one of the reasons I love the idea of homeschooling is avoiding wasting my children's childhoods and giving them regular time to play outside and inside imaginatively for long periods of time.

But, we are not getting that these days if I want to get school "done." Is that acceptable to me? I am still trying to decide. Some days we plow through and do all the work. Some days I give up and send them off to play. Both are probably good, in balance, right? This season in life will pass, and someday we will be able to finish school before lunch as Charlotte Mason recommends (and I believe is preferable).

For now, though, only on sick days will we get it all done. Of course, that actually means that only half of my students (I only have two) did any work at all today. So, we did not really get it call done, and that realization makes the day seem not quite as successful in hindsight. (although I should add that I mostly kept the large volume of work enjoyable, which is an accomplishment in itself!)

My point in sharing this with you, however, is to ask you - How long does it take you to get schoolwork done at each grade level and how much time do your children get to "just play" each day? I certainly want the proper balance, rather than all or nothing, and I would prefer that balance NOT include sick days!

Did I mention that to plow through the work and cope with the cold meant that I still have not showered? LOL! My beloved husband will be home in an hour or two, so it is definitely time to get clean!


Grace & Peace,
Antonina

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Season of Coming (Advent) Is Coming!

(I know, the post title is pretty cheesy - that's my mood tonight!)

Advent begins two weeks from today! Are you ready? Do you have a beautiful binder  like Dawn put together in which to keep track of all of your seasonal stuff? Are your plans ready? Do you need some inspiration to get started or to finish up your plans? I did!

Here is my post of ideas from last year, and this link will take you to all of my Advent posts. Every year is unique, however, and I had a special treat to motivate me.

Yesterday morning I basked in the delightful conversation of five wonderful women! We had breakfast with the intention of sharing Advent and Christmas ideas, and boy, did we ever share! I laughed to myself near the end of the meeting, as I realized we had covered nearly all of the 48 bullet points that I had ambitiously typed in our discussion starter handout!

Ideas for Advent in Our Domestic Churches
• Solemnity of Christ the King
• Thanksgiving
• Advent Wreath
• Advent Calendar
• Activity/Action Calendar
• Daily Prayers
• Jesse Tree
• O Antiphons/Novena (Dec. 17-23)
• Candles in Windows
• Christ Candle
• Purple Bows/Red Bows on Wreaths
• Christmas Lights
• Christmas Trees
• Nativity Sets
• Poinsettias
• Greenery & Holly
• Stockings (Jesus Stocking)
• Angel/Giving Trees
• Shoeboxes
• Advent Angels in the Home
• Straw in the Manger
• Sending Cards
• Receiving Cards
• Buying & Giving Gifts
• Making Gifts
• Making & Baking Goodies
• Christmas Mosaic
• Book a Day
• Lapbooks
• Christkindl Letters
• Music/Hymns/Carols
• Crafts
• Unit Studies
• Feast of St. Andrew – 11/30
• St. Francis Xavier – 12/3
• St. Nicholas (opt.) – 12/6
• St. Ambrose – 12/7
• Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception – 12/8
• St. Juan Diego (opt.) – 12/9
• Our Lady of Guadalupe – 12/12 (Sunday)
• St. Lucy – 12/13
• St. John of the Cross – 12/14
• Twelve Days of Christmas – 12/25 - 1/5
• Feast of the Holy Family – 12/26 (Sunday)
• Feast of St. John – 12/27
• Feast of the Holy Innocents – 12/28
• Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God – 1/1
• Epiphany of the Lord – 1/2 (Sunday)

We covered it all, and then some, encouraging one another to not overwhelm ourselves or our children but to truly make this liturgical season meaningful. To begin our discussion, I read aloud the beautiful piece by Jennifer Mackintosh from Wildflowers and Marbles titled "Preparing Our Hearts for Him: A Reflection on Nesting with Our Lady" printed in the recently released FREE electronic edition of mater et magistra, but more on that article another day! I just think it is amazing how each of these external practices can do so much to lead us closer to Christ if they truly come from the heart.

In case there is something on the above list with which you are not familiar or you are in need of inspiration for sharing one of these traditions with your family, below are the links used to compile the above list and shared in our breakfast discussion. Perhaps you will find some new idea to bring the joy of anticipation to your domestic church.


Links for Inspiration and Quality Resources
Fridge Art Ideas from DomesticChurch.com
Weekly Coloring Pages, Lesson Plans, and More at Catholic Mom
Jessica's Liturgical Posts at Shower of Roses
Charlotte's Beautiful Coloring Pages for Feast Days
Charlotte's Amazing Advent Posts at Waltzing Matilda
Articles, Prayers, and More at Women for Faith & Family
The Awesome St. Nicholas Center
Maria Von Trapp's Inspiring Advent Thoughts
Karen's No-Panic Advent Series
Advent Lapbook PDF Download for Sale
Lacy's Collection of Links at Catholic Icing
Mary Ellen's O Night Divine Blog
Free Christmas Around the World Lapbook
Free Issue of Mater et Magistra on Advent
Meaningful Recipes for the Season at Catholic Cuisine
Samaritan Purse's Operation Christmas Child
Holy Heroes Sign Up for Free Advent Adventures Daily Emails
Illuminated Ink's Jesse Tree Ornament Kit
Our Sunday Visitor's Free Jesse Tree Coloring Pages
Tomie de Paola Free Online Advent Unit Study
Elizabeth's Real Learning Advent Lesson Plans
Cay's Information About Christmas Mosaic Including Booklist
Christmas Mosaic, An Illustrated Book Study for Advent and Christmas by Cay Gibson
Advent Storybook by Antonie Schneider and Advent Storybook Advent Calendar

The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean
The Christmas Mystery by Jostein Gaarder
Jotham's Journey: A Storybook for Advent by Arnold Ytreeide

The Way to Bethlehem by Inos Biffi

If you have a favorite resource that I have not shared above, please post it in the comments! There are so many incredible ideas out there that I know I have missed many, but I wanted to share with my readers these examples of meaningful activities and books.

We had such a wonderful time at breakfast that we will likely meet again in December, and you, too, will benefit from that conversation with a blog post about our discussion! As soon as we decide on a topic, I will let you know!

Happy planning!

Friday, November 12, 2010

What It Is and What It Isn't

I missed you! Writing brings me such joy, and I truly have looked forward to returning to this space.

Of course, if you know me, I had imagined planning it all out ahead of time. I wanted a new layout, background, header, and more, and it was just going to be perfect! Once I finally found the time to seriously plan out my posts, I would launch anew!

But, sometimes, you just throw together what you can and jump in with two feet, even if it isn't at all perfect (or what you had hoped it would be)!

I have written this post in my head over and over. For myself and for my readers, I want to quickly let you know what this blog is and what this blog isn't. That way no one is surprised or bothered by what I do and do not post. And, I will have a clear direction for my writing, while of course being open to inspiration as it comes!


What It Is...

This blog is a personal space. It is a place for me to write what touches my heart, exactly as my sidebar says over there on the right (or is it left? no, it's on the right, for now!). "This blog is about the ways God touches my heart as a Catholic homeschooling wife and mother with the intention of glorifying Him and encouraging other mothers through the joys and struggles of this incredible life." My thoughts are my own and are sincere.

I hope that through my writing, some of you will be encouraged and/or inspired in your vocations as wives and mothers. Secretly, I hope that writing to you will remind me that I am not alone and will encourage me This would work really well if you comment on my posts every now and again! :)

Here you will find thoughts that come to me in prayer, ideas for living the liturgical year, my experiences with homeschooling, practical suggestions for everyday life, what helps me to be a better mother, my favorite resources, and ways the Lord leads me to Him, both joyful and sorrowful. I also enjoy linking to other blogs (my Google Reader is obnoxiously full of much better stuff than I can write) and stealing their ideas writing about similar topics.

Most importantly, this blog is about putting God at the center of everything, most especially my daily life as a wife, mother, and homeschool teacher. As I write, I reflect on what God is saying to me, and I try to pass that on to you. In fact, my "best" form of prayer is almost always journaling. Writing is often how the Lord speaks to/through me. So, part of why I blog is to remind myself to keep Christ in all things each day!


What It Is Not...

You will not see a lot of details about my children, husband, or home. I am a bit paranoid about the online world and like to keep some anonymity, at least for the rest of my family. My pen name is Antonina. I will refer to my Beloved Husband in just those words. I have chosen online saint names for my children - Therese (8), John Bosco (5), and Christopher (5 mo.). We live in Texas. That's about all you need to know to understand me most of the time!

I will be avoiding meme or form posts such as daybooks, small successes, wordless Wednesdays, and 7 quick takes. When I did some of these in the past, they strayed too far from the intentions of my writing and felt forced, rather than led by inspiration.

This is not a place for my public confessions or debates. While I am always honest in my writing, please know that I do not feel it necessary to include the gory details of my worst days here. Hopefully, in being general, I will not give anyone the impression that things are always picture perfect around here. That is very far from the truth! And, these are my thoughts; I do not intend to force them upon anyone. If you disagree, you are welcome to say so, but do not expect me to engage in nor tolerate debating in the comments.

Finally, I am not trying to make money with this blog. I see many opportunities for this these days, but it is not my purpose. I truly do want to use this space as a place to connect with and lift up other moms. Yes, I do book and media reviews for two companies, because they send me free stuff to review (and I'm a bookaholic). I have an Amazon affiliate account, which means if you click there from my site and buy something, they give me a few pennies (again, because I'm a bookaholic). That's it.


Silence

I find it very interesting that I began my blogging year in 2010 reflecting on the virtue and role of silence in my life and then spent approximately half of the year in silence on these pages. The Lord continually amazes me with the simple yet miraculous things he does in my life. These past months have been full of great joy and a sense of wonder about why the Lord of the universe chooses to demonstrate His love for little me in such captivating ways. My journey in faith will not end until I reach my ultimate goal, but I am oh so happy with where He is leading me and how He is refining me along the way!

May you, also, find joy in the ways the Lord urges you to grow in humility, in holiness, in gentleness, in love, as He draws you nearer to Himself. Do you realize that Advent is only two weeks away? What a perfect time for us to hold virtual hands as we start a new liturgical year and step forward in faith to embrace tomorrow's joys and challenges.


Grace & Peace,
Antonina