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

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Holy "Heart" Days

Happy Holy "Heart" Days...
Celebrating the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary this weekend!
Sacred Heart of Jesus,
we believe in Your love for us.
Help us to love You more.
We pulled out our holy"heart" wreaths that we made last year.  I have come to love liturgical decorating!  Oh, the simple pleasures...It was especially fun to pull out a liturgical decoration all ready made and set to go:) The Sacred Heart goes perfectly with our Independence Day (4th of July) red, white, and blue this year. 
The Immaculate Heart of Mary wreath adorns another entrance to our home...
Here are my shared links if you are interested in making one:
{Don't be intimidated...they really aren't difficult at all:D}
Having the Sacred Heart placed at the entrance of a home reminds me of the 2nd and 8th Promises of the Sacred Heart:  Those that honor His Sacred Heart are promised blessed and peaceful homes...
Speaking of that, I just love these elegant Sacred Heart of Jesus tiles that Lena, from JOYfilled family, made last year.  What a beautiful way to uphold the devotion in her home.  I was especially honored to receive one as a gift and I love it!  This year, JOYfilled family made beautiful Sacred Heart of Jesus frames.  Be sure to pop over and see!

This weekend we are planning to make some liturgical folders in honor of these special 2 holy "hearts".  Gardenia has folder tutorials for both the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts over at My Little Flower.  Be sure to check them out!  This link has a whole list of her neat folders and ideas to carry you through the liturgical year.  Thank you, Gardenia!

I always love and appreciate these free Immaculate Heart and Sacred Heart bookmarks and prayer cards over at Ukok's place. They have been a blessing for us, more than a few times!

~Have you seen Cheryl's cute craft over at The Diary Of A Sower?  Or Xhonane's artwork at Catholic Family? And of course Catholic Icing and Catholic Cuisine always have great ideas to enhance our faith celebrations too~
You may visit Fisheaters for an in depth explanation about the Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I love this site!
"My dear friends, let us love one another, since love is from God and everyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.  Whoever fails to love does not know God, because God is love."~1 Jn 4:7~

Monday, June 27, 2011

Fraternity of Kindness

Isn't this the perfect face of kindness?
I've been thinking a lot about kindness lately.  Obviously we don't know what the Mother of God's face really looks like but I picture it being the perfect model of kindness and therefore, pure charity.  If only we could mirror just an ounce of Mary's kindness, maybe we could reflect such a face and begin to truly live the gospel...
Maybe you have heard of The Hidden Power of Kindness, by Father Lawrence Lovasik. It's one of those books that I bought long ago and have had many failed attempts to get it read!  Turning to my own bookshelf in search of summer reading, it caught my eye...a new summer goal to work on:)  Little did I know that it is actually many big summer goals to work on, all rolled into one powerful book!  As I read the first pages, I was moved by love.  The book overflows with the simplicity of small acts of kindness, revealing God's love to the soul, beckoning it to share that love with others.  It also gets you thinking in a BIG way.  Something that really struck me, was how Father Lovasik quickly points out that "many devout people are unkind."  He goes on to point out that "this is often because kindness, as a grace, is not always sufficiently cultivated even among some devout people.  There is sometimes a spiritual selfishness in their devotion, which may interfere with kindness.  This calls for much vigilance."  Wow, this really made me feel uncomfortable as I reflected on my own actions and daily failings.  In a brief encounter with the powerful message of kindness, it has become my deepest desire not to be one of those devout people who are unkind.  And though we may fail, we can be rest assured that it's never too late to try, try, again.  Just as I have been doing a lot of reflecting on everything I have read up to this point, a car ahead of me in the Starbucks drive-thru bought my coffee this morning... I couldn't believe it!  Though I have done that for others on a few occasions, it has never happened to me. Why should I be amazed at God's perfect grace and timing? He never fails to put hope into fainting hearts.  It was a great consolation that I am eager to pay forward.
Would you like to join me in this Fraternity of Kindness?
...Dare to change the world, one deed at a time!
As Father Lovasik points out: "No enrollment is necessary.  There are no officers, no meetings, and no dues.  You must make up your mind that you want to belong to it and then begin immediately to keep the rules.  The rules are simple~3 little don'ts and 3 little dos."  (I typed these out and taped them to my bathroom mirror;)
Don'ts:
1.  Don't speak unkindly of anyone.
2.  Don't speak unkindly to anyone.
3.  Don't act unkindly toward anyone.
Dos:
1.  Do speak kindly of someone at least once a day.
2.  Do think kindly about someone at least once a day.
3.  Do act kindly toward someone at least once a day.
For Any Unkindness Committed:
1.  Make a brief act of contrition, such as "My Jesus, have mercy!"
2.  Offer an apology, if possible.
3. Say a little prayer~such as "Bless N., O Lord,"(for the one to whom you have been unkind).

"Kindness is the grand cause of God in the world....Your mission in life should be to reconquer for God's glory His unhappy world and give it back to Him.  Devote yourself to the beautiful apostolate of kindness, so that you and others may enjoy the bliss of Divine Life."~Fr. Lawrence Lovasik~
Prayer for Kindness
Keep us, O God, from pettiness;
let us be kind in thought, in word, and in deed.
Let us be done with fautlfinding and leave off self-seeking.
May we put away all pretense and meet each other 
face-to-face, without self-pity and without prejudice.
May we never be hasty in judgement and always generous.
Help us, O Lord, always to be kind.
Amen.
Have you stopped over to A Life-Size Catholic Blog?  Through my bloggy friend Anne from Imprisoned In My Bones, it was again, God's perfect timing to discover Holly's delightful place.  Her blog is filled with continuous opportunities for divine inspiration AND ways to live out the Fraternity of Kindness. Be sure to check out these memes and pass them on. Thank you, Holly!






Thursday, June 23, 2011

Summer Blessings In Our Bucket

Summer Blessings In Our Bucket
We've had a fun week-long visit with one of my sisters (I have 3) and her daughter, to be followed by another cousin visiting next week.  Visitors are such positive motivation to enjoy things in our area that we don't always appreciate or take the time to do. It's also been an adventure to discover new things to do with multiple children on a limited budget!
This "U-Pick" Blueberry Farm was a highlight to our week...
We donned straw hats and grabbed some buckets to pick blueberries!  
I'm not sure what I expected but I didn't realize that blueberries grew on a small sized shrub!
The plants were the perfect size for little ones to pick...
It was an ideal activity for toddlers...Age 2 and 3 had a blueberry blast!  It's so nice to find an activity where all ages can participate.
Princess was on a mission to fill her bucket with the bluest berries...
Superboy liked to find the perfect bush with the most berries...
It's always fun to eat while you work!
Can you tell it got hot?
It sure made us appreciate all of the workers who pick our fruits and vegetables so we can walk into a grocery store or fruit stand and buy what we need with such EASE!
It made us appreciate all of the blessings in our bucket:)
Don't these look fresh and delicious?
It was a great sense of accomplishment when you work for something you eat...
I love fun family activities that teach good lessons at the same time!
If you've never done it, try googling U-pick farms in your area...You never know what blessings you may find in your bucket!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Catch A Cross

"I believe that love is the measure of our ability to bear crosses, whether great or small."
~St. Teresa of Avila~
It's been a tough week, therefore it's been a triumpant week.  As I struggle through a chronic condition that seems to be a more frequent cross, God's grace brings me to my knees.  Without this cross, I might still be standing, fooled into thinking that I am in control.  But most of us know what the real truth is...We need our crosses to bring us to the foot of our master each and every day because He is the only one who can transform selfish souls to slaves of love.  If we catch a cross, He is there to pull us in tight.  However, failing to grab hold, can very possibly lead to drowning, often in our own self-pity.  In the middle of my struggle it was a God-incidence that a nearby Parish was hosting a Mission Speaker.  Father Larry Richards conducted their Mission for 4 nights this past week.  I was able to attend 2 nights and it was nothing short of a pampering in the arms of Jesus!  Inspiration is waiting if you have a chance to visit his website and take a listen.  After this week's mission I am renewed with hope, despite crosses beared.  Even though we may know better than to whine about our sufferings, isn't it a joy that Jesus loves us anyway?  How quickly we forget WHO is at the other end of our crosses, no matter the size... Like a life preserver,  He is always there; This is the beauty of the Cross that we must catch to live.

~This was a brief summary of Fr. Larry's talk~
3 Ways To Be Disciples of Jesus For Life:
1.  Sit at the feet of the Master (Christ) every day...Pray!
2.  Develop an attitude or mind of the Master...Our attitude must be that of Christ.
In doing this, we must give our lives away each day.  We can do this by doing at least one unselfish act for others each day and develop an attitude that "I Am 3rd."
     I Am 3rd!
  1. God
     2. Others
      3. Self last
3.  Be transformed into the Master by living a life that is no longer our own...We need to truly love.  Can people look at us and say: "If Jesus is anything like you, I can't wait to meet him!"?

This prayer was handed out the last night and encouraged to be part of our daily prayers...Great memory work for the summer!
Prayer to the Holy Spirit
By Joseph Cardinal Mercier
Oh, Holy Spirit, beloved of my soul, I adore you.
Enlighten me, guide me, strengthen me, console me.
Tell me what I should do; give me Your orders.
I promise to submit myself to all that You desire of me and to accept all that You permit to happen to me.
Let me only know Your will.
Amen.

A favorite prayer for carrying your cross...
O my God, I thank you for this cross you have allowed me to carry.  Please give me the strength and faith to persevere so that I may bring glory to your name while withstanding the burden of its weight.  Thank you for offering me a share in your suffering.  I know that you have always been, are now, and ever will be, at my side every step of the way.  Than you also for every "Simon" that you have sent to help me bear this cross.  I have prayed so often that this thorn in my flesh be removed, but I trust that your grace is sufficient.  Change my heart's troubled cry of--"How long, O Lord?", into words of trust: "However long, O Lord." May I seek only to do your will and to unite my sufferings with your passion. Help me not to get lost in my own self concerns, but may I find in these trials a way to greater virtue, a call to prayer and a path to trust in you alone.  Permit me not to waste my pain, but to make of these struggles a sacrificial offering for others.  Lord, when I am weary and I fall, exhausted under the weight of this cross, please give me the courage to press on as you did.  Lord, Jesus, I embrace with love my cross, as a share in our own.  By your grace, may I carry it all the way to the vision of your glory.  I abandon  myself totally to your will.  Christ Jesus, I trust in you.  Amen.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Thirteen Blessed Years!

It has been a very blessed 13 years!
~Happy Anniversary to my hero~
"There is no remedy for love but to love more..."
~Henry David Thoreau~
This quote seems to be the theme for my life and oh, what a blessing!  Our heart's capacity to love and still love more and more, never ceases to amaze me.  
Since my dear husband is in the middle of his busy fire season, we are apart most of this week.  We pray that some "together" time is in our near future....So in his absence, I would like to honor our 13 years by singing praises of thanksgiving for the many ways I love him.
13 Ways (For 13 Years) That I Love My Love:
1.  I love his Godly heart.
2. I love the times he is home with us, just being a family.
3.  I love the way he loves me for who I am.
4.  I love the way he owns my heart.
5.  I love how he always reaches for my hand when I need it the most.
6.  I love his laugh.
7.  I love that he works so hard for us.
8.  I love when he makes me coffee.
9.  I love that he always "tries" to kiss me first when he walks in the door, even if he's bombarded with children;)
10. I love when he takes care of me.
11.  I love that we go to bed at the same time...Together.
12.  I love his charitable, sweet, self...That he is the epitome of a nice guy!
13.  I love that God brought us together!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost & Final Good Shepherd Garden Party

Happy Pentecost!
"They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke of the great things God had done, alleluia."~Acts 2:4,11~

Today, the Easter season comes to an end on this Pentecost Sunday.  I was reading in my Magnificat that Easter, this year, was celebrated on the second latest possible date...Something that had not happened before in any of our lifetimes and the next time it will occur will be 2095!  This was a neat little piece of trivia and due to the nature of the lateness, it seems like it was a long 50 days.  (I am reminded that the word Pentecost comes from the Greek word pentekostethe fiftieth day.)  The grace of a late Easter has certainly been the savoring of the season.  
The coming of the Holy Spirit is a great reason to celebrate!  This year, we decorated much the same as last year.  We brought out our Gifts of the Holy Spirit candles and used lots of red and white!
~We had a Vigil of Pentecost Dinner, due to a certain "Firefighter" work schedule~
 It was fun to pull out the Pentecost place mats that the kids made and use them again this year.  Good thing we put names on the back...I would have never remembered who was who!
Being the last week of the Easter countdown using the Good Shepherd calendar, we combined our Good Shepherd Garden Party with our Pentecost dinner.  I may appear to be a minimalist, but it stressed me out to think about doing food items for the Heavenly Zoo theme.  It worked well for our family to draw the heavenly animals instead!  We just used paper plates and oil pastels.  My kids love, love, using these.
~Here was our Deer~
"As the deer longs for streams of water, so my soul longs for you, O God." ~Psalm 42: 1-5
~Here was our Lion~
Daniel 6: 14-23
Everyone wanted to draw the lion!
Jesus is like a lion who roars so loudly that even the dead can hear his voice.  Jesus' mighty roar will awaken the dead.
~We ended up with 3~
~This was our Peacock~
King Solomon had many wonderful things, and some of the wonderful animals he had were peacocks.
1 Kings 10:21-25
People often think that the new feathers of a peacock are a good symbol of the Easter season, when we celebrate the new life that Jesus gives us in baptism.
~The Pelican~
Genesis 1:20-23
God created the fishes and birds on the same day.  Pelicans are sea birds that go fishing with their beaks...
As Christian people, we are called by Jesus to feed one another and to help one another, the way a pelican feeds its chicks.
~The Phonenix~
Job 29:14-20
The Phoenix is a legendary bird, said to have lived in Paradise.  The bird was sad when Adam and Eve sinned and eventually burst into flames.  In the ashes was an egg, and the egg hatched into a new beautiful phoenix, representing life is stronger than death.
We hung our art work over the dinner table for decoration!
Our Pentecost Dinner Menu:
(Sticking with the color red)
Red Beans and Rice
Flames of the Holy Spirit Sliced Strawberries
Bee Hive Garlic Bread
~The Beehive~
Judges 14:5-9
In helping one another and in protecting one another, we can imitate bees.  They teach us something of what it means to be a member of the church.
Living (flavored) Water
~The Water~
Revelation 7:13-17
The book of Revelation says that those who love God will drink from the waters of life.  
Chocolate Chip Dove Cheesecake
(Visit Catholic Cuisine where I posted the easy recipe!)
~The Dove~
Song of Songs 2:8-17
The dove represents the Holy Spirit on the 50th day...Pentecost!  When our eyes are opened by the power of the Holy Spirit to see deep into the heart of this world, Jesus Christ is everything!
~Our Dove was outlined with chocolate chips on our Pentecost Cheesecake for dessert~
This completes our count down!
50 Days of Easter...
At the culmination of the Easter season, let us unite in a great chorus of praise in the Spirit who is the life-breath of the whole world made new in the death and resurrection of Christ.
My heartfelt thanks to Jessica and Charlotte who inspire so many with creative ways to live our faith.  These Good Shepherd Garden Parties, through Catholic Cuisine, are just one of the many ways!
God Bless your Pentecost!
~One last Meditation on Pentecost to share~

Thursday, June 9, 2011

My Little Oxymoron

Today I was thinking about my toddler and her apparently contradictory traits that appear in conjunction...That's it, she's one big oxymoron!  I wrote this little ditty for my sweet little firecracker since her costume fit perfectly...Daddy's fire department shirt, complete with pink tutu and butterfly wings:)
She's a little big person with a loveable roar...
Waiting to suddenly surprise us, like a calm storm.
She's an advanced beginner who is awfully sweet!
With her consistent uncertainties, she remains clearly misunderstood.
She thrives on controlled chaos with creative construction...
But with crisis management, I am not completely destroyed.
She's my daily special, joyful trouble, terribly nice and just plain good stuff!
~We love you Angel Baby~

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hitting The Ground Running

I don't know about you but we've hit the ground running with our summer!  We wrapped up our school year with a fun pioneering field trip, heading back in time to 1852.  
The way of life "back then" was a great eye-opener!
The kids learned how to mine for gold...
And how the miner's lived.
Life was not glamorous and they worked hard...Especially in times before the washing machine!
This was good hands-on learning!
The children thought drying the clothes was fun...
It takes determination to wring out the clothes and get the clothes pin just right!
Doing their own panning for gold and gems was a highlight!
But I think the stage coach ride was the favorite activity of the day.
The next stop was Dallas, Texas!  Can you believe it?  No, not really on the stage coach...We ventured back to 2011 for that trip:)
It's that hard part of life when the first chick is preparing to leave our nest (sniff, sniff).  God has been preparing my heart but this trip was a big reality check!  I was so thankful for a very special highlight...getting to meet a dear bloggy friend while we were in the area.  This joyful moment was a refreshing distraction from the overwhelming purpose of our trip.
Patty was so sweet to make the trek to pay us a treasured visit.  It was a blessing to meet her and it felt like I had known her forever despite the fact that we had never met!  We chatted up a storm and she is an absolute doll.  Our time together filled my heart with a big cup of grace!  Thank you, Patty.
Then we were off to tour the campus of my son's first college choice.  He feels like this is where God is calling him to be.  It's a wonderful and faithful place....But it's just so far away!  I am learning to surrender in new ways as a Mother in this place of life...Jesus I Trust In You.  
I have to say that I am incredibly grateful for the gifts and friendships that help us through these transitions in our lives.  My dear friend Joan, for example, is in the same boat... as her daughter is also looking at the same school.  It was a tremendous blessing to meet her here, at this same place in life, to share our motherly emotions about the inevitable changes looming in our lives.  Yes, God does provide.
So our summer started out Hitting The Ground Running but I'm slowing down now.  I want to spend the next year enjoying every moment that I have in the here and now, taking time to enjoy my family unit and the gifts all around us!

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