Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Final Stretch of Summer

I've been in denial about being on the final stretch of summer vacation.  I know I need to get motivated to begin planning our school year but in all honesty, I am having a difficult time with that.  Discovering this prayer novena came at God's perfect time!  A long with prayer, I am giving myself a deadline of August 1st to finish any projects I still need to do within the home and a few other outside ministry things.  Until then, I'm also trying to treasure the simple joys of each day before the pace picks up!
This was a lovely article reflecting the thoughts of our Holy Father on vacations...It's been the focus of my thoughts, seeking renewal of heart, mind, and soul in this final stretch of summer.

Our last few weeks have not been very exciting but they have held many moments to be savored.  I am posting a few ponderings and photos for my record keeping.  Any quotations I used are from the article linked above as I have been reflecting on the Holy Father's suggestions.

Oldest brother gave littlest sister her first set of swim lessons!  He's a life guard at our local City pool so he gave her lessons on his lunch break this past week.
"Interrupting the hectic and frantic pace of daily life, we can take time to dedicate ourselves to others and to God."
Dad (what a sweet guy:) fact, it was his idea, that Mom and her friend take 24 hours of Mommy renewal...
It was a blessed CMG( Crazed Catholic Mom Get-away) with a dear sister in Christ!
"Include a copy of Sacred Scripture in your suitcase."
Contemplate the greatness, and admire the beauty, of creation around us, recognizing in it the wonderful presence of the creator."
"Discover monuments of the past--witnesses of our culture and faith are examples of our spiritual roots and heritage.  Cathedrals and abbeys, in particular, are places where beauty helps us feel the presence of God and inspires us to pray for the rest of humanity, on its pilgrimage through the Third Millennium."

Around the house, we have tried to limit game units and television as much as possible.  Lo and behold, imagination ensued!  The 4 kids played Emergency (remember Johnny and Roy from the 70's)?  We found it on Netflix:)  I know I'm "dating" myself but I used to love that show when I was a kid!
The kids made our bed into a fire truck, created some props and all took part in the "rescue" operations!  
It was fun to watch the creativity in their play, especially with the varied ages. (12, 8, 7, 3) They certainly don't always get a long perfectly...but as with most kids, they tend to have positive results when they can find a common game and play/work together.  This was a great discovery!

When her brothers and sister were playing with neighbor friends, little Miss Busy Bee made me a special snack from her kitchen...I am enjoying the pieces out of her current age and phase of life.
Benny the dog always keeps us occupied and gives us plenty of snuggles...
Trips to the library kept our reading skills up and running!
"The enjoyment of friendship, reading, nature and culture helps to nourish and restore our spirit.  It gives us the strength to continue our journey refreshed and renewed."

Praying that your final stretch of summer is filled with many moments of blessings and grace to sustain you through the changing seasons!

Monday, July 25, 2011

An Understanding Heart

By the grace of God, we have a new pastor!  
His first reflection was one I wanted to write down, save, share, savor, seek, and pray to have...
An Understanding Heart
"How often we find ourselves quick to judge and to attribute motives to others, often without knowing the truth!  We convince ourselves that how we see things is the right way.  We might even find ourselves being confrontational and harsh with others because they do not see things as we do.  And even if we are right and others are wrong, this is anything but an understanding heart, indeed a heart that drives others away from the truth and from God.

An understanding heart is one that seeks to know the truth but is also patient and compassionate.  St. Francis de Sales reminds us that if there are several ways to interpret another's actions and only one is charitable, choose the charitable way.  Jesus teaches us to learn from him for he is gentle and humble of heart.  And St. Paul reminds us to speak truth in charity.  An understanding heart then is one that seeks the truth and speaks it in charity and gentleness.  Such a heart leads others to Christ.  Like Solomon in the Book of Kings, let us pray for such a heart!"
~Father M.~
Praying for an understanding heart...Still doing laundry...Holy Name of Jesus 105 times and counting:)...

Back-ups And Blessings

We got backed-up last week...
Mostly due to one little soccer camp....But then again, there's just some weeks that it's just plain hard to keep up. Dear husband was away at work most of the week so it seems like the many household duties and tasks also add up and back-up while he is away for long stretches:(  On top of that, it was a busy weekend so the mountain has grown even bigger since then....Laundry Madonna, please pray for me!  Ok, so there's no such thing as a Laundry Madonna so it's just plain time to get to work.  The good Lord knows that the laundry is my nemesis so I shall call on His most Holy Name with each piece of laundry that I touch.  Jesus will give me the strength to bear the load with joy, oh yes he will.  Stay tuned for how many times I say His name today...Any guesses?

Before I get to work, it helps me to acknowledge blessings amidst the back-ups.  Last week we received 3 special deliveries that brightened our week.  It is always my hope and prayer to be vigilant about blogging, lest it grow to be a distraction from my family or vocational duties.  It's always a balance to keep things in check. This being said, the online faith, hope and charity has been invaluable...These blessings are a tribute to the friendships that are forged through God's grace.

One friend was so kind to share a few of her own treasures with our family. I have never met Gardenia but our bloggy friendship has blossomed into a great gift.  Her generosity has touched my heart in more ways than one.  I am blessed to share a love for the Lord and Our Blessed Mother with Gardenia, reflected in the treasures of our homes.  We were beyond blessed by her special delivery!
A soldier with Jesus..."That men may live."
Shared stickers and holy cards for our whole family...
Beautiful holy vases from her collection...I have admired these from across the miles!
And this gorgeous poster that Angel baby wants to hang in the girls' room!  
She asked me not to thank her but that's a difficult thing when a heart overflows with gratitude...Instead, I shall pray that God's blessings be returned to her and her family in abundance:) 

Another friend sent Princess a lovely First Communion gift.  Lena makes these herself and has a small Etsy shop.  Be sure to check out her tiled necklaces.  Isn't this one just perfectly pretty?  I just love Lena's grace-filled treasures!  Princess has a very grateful heart for her thoughtfulness and generosity:)  This is Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who was Princess' First Communion Patron Saint...
 A final blessing was this pile of gently used clothes that another dear friend dropped off for our family.  In these tough economic times, we were thrilled to receive such abundance.  We will donate any unused items to our church yard sale coming up!
This is not to say that the material items were the main focus of our blessings last week.  We know full well that it's the precious-people-souls behind their actions that really matter, through the hand of God.  
That being said, it's off to work with Jesus to reduce the pile of mounting laundry.  Our days may be filled with back-ups... but the blessings always outweigh the burdens!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

He Said What?

Usually I am scrambling to write down things my younger children say, knowing I'd forget it if I don't!  Kids say the darndest things sometimes, don't they?  I like to write them down (if I can) since it's great to look back and remember those precious moments in time.  Blogging has been a good place to keep such memories on record, and a public record at that!  In my case, it's the only record I have so I suppose a public record is better than no record at all.

This time I'm writing about something my oldest child said.  I can still say "child" for about 2 more months and then he will be my "adult" child. (sniff, sniff)  He has recently taken a side job of babysitting twin boys to help out the Mom caring for an infant.  One of her twins has Downs Syndrome.  Other than some dear friends who have a severely brain damaged child, my son has had no exposure to special needs children.  I was asking him how things were going with the babysitting and he started telling me how much he loved this particular child with Downs Syndrome.  I made a comment about how sad and heart breaking it is that people abort babies when they discover that they have conditions like Downs Syndrome.  He just gasped and got the saddest look on his budding adult face, exclaiming: "Awwww, I WANT a Downs Syndrome baby..."

He said what? I nearly broke down in tears right there on the spot...Joyful tears of course!  How was it that my teenaged son stated something so pure and beautiful? Our culture tells us that teenagers are our worst nightmare.  Did the culture just hear what this teenager just said?  He said something that I've never heard any adult say in my entire life...He wants a Downs Syndrome Baby.  They were words of love, not fear.  They were words of life, not death.  They were words that I never dreamed of in my own teenaged years.  They weren't just words, they were truth.  They weren't just words, they were glimmers of hope in this culture of death.  He just defied all odds...He said what?

"In order to give love to anyone, we need to enter into contact with that person. If we are only interested in large numbers, we will get lost in numbers and never be able to encounter a single person with love and attention.  I believe in the things that happen person to person.  For me, each person is Christ and since there is only one Lord, the person that I meet in any given moment, to me, it totally unique." ~Blessed Mother Teresa~

Time Has Been Granted!

Thank you so much for all of your thoughts, kind comments, and prayers...My Father-in-law has been granted more time.  His heart condition is back under control for now and his procedure went well.  I will still be praying for his conversion and his life to look forward to, now and forever.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Time To Pray...

It's been a time to pray this weekend... Around our house we are praying for a Father, who is also Father-in-law, Grandpa, and Husband.  Rudy is my husband's Dad who suffered a heart attack, followed by several "episodes" that are keeping him in the ICU for the weekend.  This isn't the first time he has had this type of scare but of course we never know if it will be the last.  Times like this call a family together to reflect.  What is really important in this life?  Ultimately it boils down to relationships and those we love, doesn't it?  
For Rudy, he isn't ready yet.  He told his son (my husband) that he wants more time...
His race with time is a reality check for the rest of us.
How are we using our time in the here and now? I once read that all the treasures of the earth cannot bring back one lost moment...Hmmm, I should know better.
Funny how time seems to slow down at these moments though, as if to give us a brief reminder that it does not keep it's rapid pace forever.  When it is our time to move out of this world and on to the next, the mystery of time shall be unveiled.  As Christians, we prepare our whole lives for this, crosses of time and all.  But what about those we love who might be unsure?  For that matter, even the most faithful Christians have moments of doubt at the time of death...
I am simply thankful for the opportunity to pray for Rudy's peace in this moment of time.  He knows God and talks to Him but he isn't a church-goer.  I pray that God will know his heart and offer His mercy and love to Rudy, despite the outcome of his situation.  There is still "time" for that and that is God's grace.  It is never too late to pray and I shall never underestimate its power.
Time is fast but there are slow moments to be savored, and life to look forward to, now and forever, lest we forget the reason for our existence: to know, love, and serve God.  This is my deepest prayer for all time.
"Make sure your life does not contradict your words.  
Sing with your voices, your hearts, your lips and your lives...
If you desire to praise Him, then live what you express.
Live good lives and you yourselves will be His praise."
~St. Augustine~

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Life's A Beach!

We made it to the beach this summer!
The ocean always renews my spirit...I'm definitely a "sea gal", not to be confused with sea gull:)
It was a miracle that we got here since it was looking like dear husband's work schedule was not going to cooperate with us.  It's his busiest time of year and bless his heart that he has already taken his alloted time off to attend 2 separate scout camps with 2 sons.  Next on the list is time off for World Youth Day in a few short weeks with a 3rd son.  Soooooo, it was by the grace of God that we were able to spontaneously steal away for 24 hours and head to the coast!
It was a small miracle that I checked online and there was 1 spot open for the 1 night that we were able to go.  The miraculous part of this is that these camp spots are right on the ocean and book out a year in advance.  They are typically impossible to get!  Praise the Lord for small graces:)  Can you believe this glorious view from our campsite?  I'm thinking it would be a great place to do some homeschooling in the future!  Wonder if I could be so lucky to get another reservation?
Isn't this a fine stroke of God's hand?
It didn't take long for us to hit the surf and sand!
Our oldest son was our missing piece since he was unable to get the time off work with the short notice.  It gave us a small (heart pang) glimpse into what our life will be like when he flies the nest for college in one short year.  This reflection helps us cherish the other littles while they are still "little"...Although this next one is on the cusp of his teenaged years!
We watch his metamorphosis right before our eyes...
One of the things that I love about the beach is that it reminds us of our childlike selves.  In the scheme of things, we are all children...Sifting through the sands of life...
I love the analogy of the sea in Psalm 139:9-10
"If I fly with the wings of dawn and alight beyond the sea, Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand hold me fast."
"How precious to me are your designs, O God;
Were I to count, they would outnumber the sands;
to finish, I would need eternity." ~Psalm 139:17-18
"Lord you have probed me, you know me; you know when I sit and stand;
(even when I'm buried in the sand)
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My travels and my rest you mark; with all my ways you are familiar."~Psalm 139:1-3
Oh, and I mustn't forget our newest baby Benny!
(Shhh, don't tell the Holy Father that we named our "dog"after him...Even though we consider it the utmost compliment!!!)
Hows this for a "re-purpose" play pen...Isn't it a crack-up?
We got so many funny comments:)  
And what would a camping trip be without a campfire and s'mores!?  
And a visit from a cousin and her friend:)

Words just can't even express how grateful I was for this precious 24 hours of blessing.
Yes, Life's A Beach...
Filled with buckets of God's grace and love to bring us safely to shore.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha Crafts

Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha~The Litly of the Mohawks
Feast Day: July 14th
I thought I'd share this fairly easy Blessed Kateri craft that we did today. I adapted the idea from Family Fun.  Her feast day is tomorrow!  We have a special affection for this amazing Indian girl since Princess chose her to be her First Communion Patron Saint.  Also see our All Saint's Day post for a Cross Lashing Craft idea, using materials from your own backyard!  (My boys loved this one)
These are the materials for the Tekakwitha Tube Doll (above):
Toilet paper tube
Construction paper
Tacky glue
Permanent pen
I pre-cut the construction paper to make it easier for the kids...
Just wrap and glue to get the final product...Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha!
~We added her to our prayer table~
Princess made her own Kateri Tekakwitha frame from this coloring page and some crafting sticks.
Then she lined the frame with construction paper.
Lilly of the Mohawks, please pray for us.
Last year we posted some interesting resources and made cornbread. This year we have some new and fun snack ideas that we hope to try and share soon!
Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, please help me to be more like you in my love for God and for people.

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