With all of our imperfections, we begin and end each day at the foot of the cross. It is here where our story begins and we pray it is where it will end. "Jesus said: Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light." ~Matthew 11:28-30~
Listen to God's voice at the foot of the crucifix." ~St. Gaspar del Bufaro~
I've been thinking a lot about this during a recent challenge around our house...Dear husband has been gone on a month-long business trip to teach tactical medicine in another country. We discussed the opportunity quite a bit before making a mutual decision that he should go. That being said, the challenges of him being gone were yet to be seen...
The first thing I did was call upon many prayer warriors to pray for his safety and our sanity at home. I've been told that I'm a strong person but I really don't feel like I am. One thing I know for certain is that I do have a strong God who sustains me. I knew that our family was going to need those prayers, especially for me to do my part alone with 4 kids at home.
The days and weeks passed by...some slow, some fast, some crazy, some sane. Needless to say there were many lessons learned and strength was gained a long the way, no doubt from the prayers that were prayed from generous and loving hearts. I am so grateful for all of them and he's finally coming home this weekend!
What surprised me the most was the differing reactions that I received. People I hardly know were checking in on us yet some of my closest friends and relatives never even asked how we were doing. I sat and listened to one particular "friend" ramble on about herself while never even casting a word or question about our survival. Seemingly insensitive and uncaring actions are puzzling thoughts about a "friend."
All of this reminded me of my widowhood when some people I thought were close friends seemed farthest away. On the other hand, the people who seem to care the most during this difficult situation were the least expected. It's like God plants them there to open our eyes to beautiful people all around us that we failed to pay attention to before. He makes up for our human failings and His hands reach out to us through these special people that reach out to us, taking our eyes off the disappointment.
When all is said and done, the fact is that we need each other. We need hands to hold when we are struggling. Big struggles, small struggles, it doesn't really matter. What counts is a caring gesture. I remember one particular homily when our pastor emphasized the need for Christ but also the human need for people with "skin" here on earth. God made us in His image and likeness to be His representatives on earth...The arms and legs of Jesus for one another. I was reminded of this need in my own need. We aren't meant to walk alone.
Receiving a kind text message asking how we were doing, how my husband was doing, was such a life-line this past month. Some sweet church friends brought pizza and dropped it off, without even asking; a friend that I only see once a year sent chocolate; another thoughtful friend dropped off stress relief soap and lotion...I never expected any of this but I can't tell you how each of these hands that reached out brought light to a dark moment or ease to a struggle. I am beyond humbled. Words cannot express enough gratitude.
The reason I share this is to bring light to the kindness, to the importance of hands to reach out. It reminds me how critical it is to be that same light for others. We can all make a difference, even in the small things...Sometimes we will never know when the small things are really big things so we just need to act! We should not hesitate or wait to be asked...Just reach out. Since we are all human, it's inevitable that people will disappoint us but right behind them are new smiles to discover and new friends to behold.
I saw this picture of Pope Francis on Facebook via Catholic Catalogue and it brings home this loving sentiment. The way he reached out to that Swiss Guard was so endearing...Look at that smile! Isn't that how we all feel when someone touches our hearts? I pray that I will not be that "friend" who is too self-absorbed or too busy to reach out...After all, the Pope's not too busy to grab a hand!
Moving forward from here, I want to reach out a little more. I hope you will join me...
Here I am, back to blog about what I really love to do...celebrate the feast days of the saints! With our older kids not so keen about doing crafts or coloring much any more, I can still sneak in a saintly lesson (with food:) Even the high school son was interested!
What's not to celebrate about a woman who persevered in prayer, through many tears, for her husband AND wayward son? Not to mention that her prayers were answered in a BIG way. Both Monica's husband and son (St. Augustine) eventually converted. Augustine's conversion is rather famous and he has been declared one of the greatest saints, prolific writers, and doctors of the Catholic Church...
Happy Feast of St. Monica!
I made these sweet "Tears of St. Monica" treats for our evening dessert and discussion about the back to back feasts of mother and son. (August 27 & 28) It was nice to sit around the dinner table and talk about these 2 interesting heroes of the faith. In our busy lives, it was worth the extra planning moments to make it happen!
Two easy ingredients...How can you beat that?
Crescent rolls and Nutella! The treats represent the sweetness of God's grace, resulting from the sweat of Monica's prayers and tears.
These were super easy...Just spread and roll into the shape of teardrops!
For a family of 6, we needed 2 rolls of Crescent dough...Big hit!
Prayer to conclude our dessert:
Exemplary Mother of the Great Augustine,
You perseveringly pursued your wayward son
Not with threats but with prayerful cries to heaven.
Intercede for all mothers in our day
So that they may learn to draw their children to God.
Teach them how to remain close to their children,
Even the prodigal sons and daughters who have sadly gone astray.
Dear St. Monica, troubled wife and mother,
many sorrows pierced your heart during your lifetime.
Yet, you never despaired or lost faith.
With confidence, persistence, and profound faith,
you prayed daily for the conversion
of your beloved husband, Patricius,
and your beloved son, Augustine;
your prayers were answered.
Grant me that same fortitude, patience, and trust in the Lord.
Intercede for me, dear St. Monica,
that God may favorably hear my plea.
(Mention your intentions here)
Grant me the grace to accept His Will in all things,
through Jesus Christ, our Lord,
in unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, forever and ever.
May the hope of St. Monica be with us all!
On a side note, St. Monica's tomb and her relics are currently venerated at the church of San Agostino in Rome! It was on my bucket list for my recent trip there, but I just couldn't swing it. Darn, guess I need to go back;-)
Why? Well, I suppose it's partly because I'm in a bit of an upheaval as we suddenly have a house full of (mostly) big kids! Where did all of the littles go?
It all happened overnight, really, it did.
Plus, I'm slowing down.
It's hard to keep up.
Going into this school year we will soon have a 21 year old who will be a Jr. in college (cough, cough) ...Not to mention a high school Sophomore and a 7th grade tween! With only 2 left in the elementary grades, I'm feeling the difference. For me, it's a big difference.
I feel ill-equipped after having little kids for so long!
Transition is hard...
OK, it's not what you think with the Red Solo Cup...
This is more my style!
I'm wondering what's in store for me, for us, this space...
Big question mark?
I've always felt inspired to write and share but not so much, lately.
Though I feel like I have nothing to offer, I'm not worried. I trust God has a hand in this transition...
The same transition that's been ongoing since our oldest left for college. I have yet to put into words the paradox of being happy to watch children leave home to start their own lives, while the heart grieves their absence. Someday, maybe I will.
Then again, some things are just meant to be lived, words unspoken.
Maybe a time will come when I'm on the other side of the experience.
I will (attempt) to wait patiently, even though I am constantly at odds with this virtue of patience. (Argh)!
I'm not good with change... but I know from past experience, that change is good for me.
One of my favorite Psalms (25) brings peace.
Lord, make me know your ways.
Lord, teach me your paths.
Make me walk in your truth, and teach me:
for you are God my Savior.
In you, I hope all day long
because of your goodness, O Lord.
Remember your mercy, Lord,
and the love you have shown from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth.
In your love remember me.
In the midst of it all, there are so many moments that make me feel like I could just die of a grateful heart attack!
Since losing a precious spouse, I've never taken life for granted but I've recently come to better appreciate the simple things, the little things.
I found a helpful post on Pinterest about how to cut a watermelon. I couldn't wait to give it a try for this fruit platter...Wow, amazingly easy!
Frugal tip! Are you wondering what kind of platter might hold something like this? I bought two 18" clear Sturdiware platters from our local party store a few years ago. They were only a few dollars a piece and I've used the heck out of them, ever since. They have come in SO handy for graduations, sacramental celebrations, and many parties! I just wash them by hand after using them and store them for the next occasion:)
Sacred Heart of Jesus Veggie Platter and Immaculate Heart Fruit Platter
It's been a decade since we started our homeschooling journey and my goodness, how we've changed over these past 10 years! (In more ways than one:) It was really fun to dig up a few old photos...Especially one that was taken the 1st year of our homeschooling journey, and compare it to a fairly recent one. Though none of our children have been strictly homeschooled K-12 thus far, we are still a family who has devoted the past 10 years to this secondary vocation in one way, shape, form or another. It's a full-time dedication to something we feel called to do but we certainly don't fit into any particular mold or label. I can finally be ok with that. No, we are far from fitting into any kind of perfect box. In fact, being perfectly imperfect always gives us something to work on as we forge ahead.
It seems cliché to say that I can hardly believe 1o years has gone by! But it's simply true in so many ways. Like anything else, there have been terrific days and tough days but we have come this far...Woo hoo! (And I wouldn't change a thing, by the way!)
(Aquarium Field Trip 2007~ I'm 42 and 6 months prego here...Best pregnancy of all:)
How fast has it flown? Well, it really is true...Time does fly by so incredibly fast...Homeschooling or not! This is not to say that there haven't been some very slow moments. There certainly have been many days when I thought I'd never make it through another minute of homeshooling, let alone 10 years. This is all just to say that each day is precious and the tough ones make it all worth it. My husband and I have always said "One year at a time, God willing..." From this day forward, we march on with the same sentiments. Now, let's get to the celebrating! (After a short walk down memory lane;) 2008
(Our oldest went to public high school this year)
It's so important for home educating families to celebrate success...Seriously. No one else is going to do it for us, that's for sure! Especially when many of us don't even have family and friends to encourage us.
That being said, if I could single out one thing I've learned in the past 10 years, it's that joy is contagious...and in the home, it begins with me. I have to constantly remind myself of this when I get discouraged or get caught up in the daily tasks at hand and the work to be done. I set the tone.
I have found that it's absolutely necessary to bring joy into the picture and there are so many ways to do this...Prayer, Sacraments, thankfulness, and stopping to share the simple things...Even simple celebrations! It's truly up to us to be surprised by joy...And it's waiting to be discovered every day, right along with our children, even amidst the math books and spelling words!
Wracking my brain for ways to celebrate a whole decade without being too expensive, I came up with a celebration with these 10 things!
10 surprises for each of our last
10 days of school to celebrate our
10 years of homeschooling! (I made a list and didn't tell the kids what the surprise was until the morning of each day;)
We counted down our last 10 days of school with 10 surprises...
1. Breakfast and Board Games!
What better way to hone math and reading skills! We love this game (Catholic version of Monopoly...There are interesting tidbits on each card that we read aloud. Our 6th grade "banker" practiced the lost art of counting change! It was a fun way to start the day:)
"The parents exist to teach the child, but they must also learn what the child has to teach them; and the child has a very great deal to teach them."~Arnold Bennett~
2. Library and Slurpees!
3. Morning Break at The Yogurt Station!
4. Recess At An (air conditioned) Indoor Play Place!
(It was a HOT 100 degrees outside that day)
5. Breakfast Picnic In The Park!
6. Bookstore Visit!
7. Strawberry & Blueberry Picking!
8. Everyone got to go to the airport to pick up college brother! (Surprise at 6 AM:)
With spontaneous trip to the ocean for an hour!
9. Lunchtime movie!
10. Breakfast with the Principal!
*10 surprises for 10 years was a fun success* Happy Summer from our house toyours! ~May Crowning 2014~ Perfect "last day of school!"
This year we are celebrating 10 years of homeschooling...And we have literally been celebrating! (More on that coming soon). Needless to say, I've been doing a lot of reflecting on the last decade spent doing something I never dreamed I'd be doing...
These are the 10 least expected lessons from the place I found myself least likely to be...And celebrating 10 years doing it! (P.S.) I think these might be applicable to being a Mom in general;)
1. Homeschool is Momschool. Without a doubt, I'm the one who has learned the most around here...About myself, my faith and spiritual life, even in history and science! I'm still a math-fail.
2. Homeschooling is misunderstood by many people, including myself. It's not what I thought it would be and a beautiful discovery continues to unfold.
3. Educating at home does not make me a saint but it sure makes me talk to them a lot. Ok, I'll admit, begging them for help a lot...I've gotten to know a whole lot of dead guys and gals!
4. Each year of homeschooling changes just like the students and the teacher. It looks different from year to year and my flexibility muscles are stronger for it, both in mind and soul.
5. My homeschool will never look like anyone else's because it never was mine, it's His. "Comparison is the thief of Joy".~Theodore Roosevelt
6. God does not call the qualified, He qualifies the called.
7. Things hardly ever go my way and I think that's the point.
8. Obstacles always lead to opportunity.
9. There are no guarantees from the things I do...Surrender can mean success.
10. We are most likely to learn in the most unlikely places.
How about a Miracle (of the Sun) Morning Breakfast and Rosary prayers to celebrate a beautiful feast day? This colorful fruit and egg plate is supposed to look like the vibrant, miraculous, solar phenomena...Or at least that was the idea in mind:)
Even though the Miracle of the Sun didn't occur until October 13th, 6 apparitions later, we can still commemorate this amazing gift...OR you can always save it for October, of course;-)
I posted more about this over at Catholic Cuisine...Be sure to pop over there for a visit:) I continue to feel honored to be a contributor there!