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

Friday, September 23, 2011

Framable Moments

Feast of St. Padre Pio
Stigmata (Rice Krispy) Snacks~A family tradition to celebrate one of our favorite saints!

It's the end of a week that held a few framable moments...

The sun comes up behind Our Lady of Fatima at our Parish Shrine.
It was a blessing to be out for a morning walk and capture these photos.
I think I'm going to have some cards made!

Our oldest son passed his Eagle Board!  
This was definitely one of those Hallelujah moments in life...
Now on to plan the Eagle Court of Honor and Ceremony.
Loved this photo of all our boys in uniform!

I snuck a quick photo of our Superboy doing his school work...
I thought it was hilarious with his gun by his side!  Now that's a boy for ya...Never mind those crayons:)

And a final thought from St. Padre Pio:
"Live calmly and do not worry excessively, because in order to work more freely in us, the Holy Spirit needs tranquility and calm.  And for you, every anxious thought is a mistake, as you have no reason to fear.  It is the Lord who works within you and you must do nothing except leave the door of your heart wide open so that he might work as He pleases."

Tuesday, September 20, 2011


Menopause is just mean.
Therefore, it really should be spelled "Mean"opause.
For those of you who know what I mean, well, you know what I mean!
Did I get you to chuckle?
Well, I've been doing a bit of reading about this change in life and it seems that laughter really can be the best medicine...
I have really been spiraling with my health in the last year, both physically and mentally.  My anxiety levels have been at an all time high, kicking off a fight or flight response that could prime me for war.  Instead, I have been at war with myself. As in Proverbs 17:3, the Lord has been testing my heart just as the crucible is for silver and the fiery furnace is for gold.  Not to mention the fiery furnace that my body has turned into!

At first I didn't know what was wrong with me as my memory quickly faded and soon I was writing post-it notes with my kids' names on them!  Just kidding.  Did you chuckle again?  I sure did when I read that "somewhere." (Of course I don't remember where:)  But the problem is that now I can't read the post-it notes because my vision has faded too!
Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry, so I do both...This part is like being pregnant but no sweet baby to show for it!  The same goes for the over-grown belly.  Yep, I look 5 months pregnant but no baby to excuse the growth. Yet we still remain open to new life, despite the slimmer possibilities.
Essentially I've become like my 7 year-old's transformer..."transformed" into one big sweaty mood swing!  Doesn't this sound mean?
Preparing for my 45th birthday in 2 weeks and feeling rather "picked on", I have come to realize that I am not alone...After reading Lisa Hendey's article, I decided to write about it too.  Especially after reading the scripture that inspired me this morning (read below).
I've come to learn that this meanopause is a gradual process of change that effects everyone differently.  As our bodies change with these many symptoms, the time of transition is called peri-meanopause.  How long is the suffering?  It's different for everyone but it doesn't usually happen over night.  Therefore, the term long suffering. (wink)
What to do?
There are no easy answers!
I'm aiming for these:
Laugh, (Eat Chocolate), and Pray...
Oh, and do my best at the exercise-thing too!
I was reading that laughing can have the same relieving qualities for stress as exercise.  I know I have heard this before, but it was good to hear it again. Research has proven that when you laugh, your muscles relax, your stress hormones decrease, your immune function improves, your blood pressure lowers, your pain triggers go down, your blood sugar levels lower, you forget your problems and your skin appearance improves. Wow, now that's a pill to cure an ill:)
The chronic emotional stress can be physically draining.  The thing with meanopause is that the stress response is constantly or frequently activated in your body (unlike a healthy short duration of stress) and we often must sit perfectly still while this war is being waged within us, hence the psycho strong mood swings.  This is where laughter and exercise can really tame the beast and keep us sane! 

Like any other test in life, the blessing is the work that God is doing within us.  I know that...but it's still a tough road.  They say that meanopause is the time when women are really convinced that there is a God, and that he's male!  hee hee This is where prayer comes in.  My prayer life has been beefed up again, just like everything else in my body:) 
In all seriousness, this scripture verse is what inspired my writing, as I mentioned above:
"We are not discouraged; rather, although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day.  For this momentary light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal." ~2 Corinthians 4: 16-18~

We are all just passing through this life, aiming for the glories of the next.  The changes in our lives, regardless of their nature, are sure signs that we are not meant to stay the same.  I remain open to God's plan, regardless of the challenges placed before me.
In the meantime, knowing this meanopause too shall pass, I plan on laughing it away with a prayer and a song...and
referring back to this post as I am sure to forget!

A Prayer:
Help me, Lord, to embrace life's cycle.
When my emotions fluctuate, steady me. When my body temperature rises, shade me beneath your cool, comforting shelter. When my spirit falls, lift me up, Oh Lord; remind me that I am blessed, that I am beautiful, that I am desirable, that I am whole. When I find myself envying younger women, teach me, God, how to rejoice in the joy of others. Open my eyes to the abundant gifts that surround me each day.
I thank You, God, for making me a woman, for the beauty of youth, for the joy of marriage, for the miracle of childbirth, for the blessings of motherhood, for the beauty that comes with age, for the wisdom of my years. Thank you, dear Jesus for comforting me in this time of need.  In your most Holy name, I pray. Amen.

A Song:
Sing to tune "Santa Claus is Coming to Town."

You'd better veg out
Have a good cry
Utter no doubt your "friend" is bye bye
Menopause is coming around

She's making a fist
Mom's ain't quite right
Drug store specs corrected your sight
Menopause is coming around

You bloat when you are sleeping
It's hot when you're awake
Just throw away those rags for good
And enjoy the chocolate cake

You'd better rock out
Estrogen buy
This could be the best part of your life
Menopause is coming around

All of this is safe, effective, and free of charge!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Special Birthday Week

 Princess is was blessed to share her birthday week with Our Lady...And lots of cousins!
I am feeling guilty for posting this so late....Just been a little crazy around here. I always try to write up a little tribute to each child for their birthday since this blog also serves as my scrap memory book.  Lord knows I need this to keep my memory alive...It's just about gone:)

Well, this little lady was God's gift to us, 9 years ago, being our first daughter to join the family:)  We especially felt God's grace as she was born after a very sad loss of a baby, through miscarriage.  Even with another scare during my pregnancy with Princess, God provided His love and care, as He always does.  Princess was welcomed into this world with open arms and tears of joy.  I will never forget how quickly she stopped crying after the c-section and was placed into my arms.  There is no other love like that silent gaze of new, baby-bundle, life. God's grace, indeed.

This year, Princess got to spend her actual birthday with our faraway cousins who just happened to be visiting for Labor Day weekend.  It was a semi-family reunion with all of my siblings.  We are very rarely all together.
This is a photo of 12 cousins all together on my side of the family, with my 4 siblings, their spouses, and my Mom and Dad:) Yep, I'm the oldest!
Our cousins who live the farthest joined us at the park on the last day of their stay.  It was a special treat for Princess on her actual birthday!  
They did the 6  cousin pile-up on the slide:)
And enjoyed some climbing fun!
Cousins flew home and Dad was deployed to a fire all week... SOoooo we made the best birthday celebration as possible, without Daddy.
It's a tradition that we find fun and creative (inexpensive) ways to decorate for the birthday person...including bedrooms and bathroom mirrors:)  
(I deleted her actual name in this photo for her protection)
Ice Cream Sundaes were the interim dessert, saving" the cake" for Daddy's return!

Celebrating Mama Mary's Birthday is always a blessing to follow Princess's birthday...
It was a joyful celebration!
Daddy made it home so we had more dessert at the end of the week!
Princess has a strong interest in soccer right now so she picked out this soccer ball ice cream cake...
(Nope, I definitely did not make it)!
She chose to take a couple of friends to a local State College Women's Soccer game...
Dad (gotta love him:) made a special call to tell them about Princess's wish to meet some of the players.
Lo and behold, we got invited to the locker room after the game!  

After the game, they had us wait outside until the players got settled.  When they opened the door, all of the players were sitting lined up around the room and burst into Happy Birthday song for Princess!  Can you believe it?  We were just amazed at such a kind gesture.  In fact, we were so shocked that we were fumbling over our camera phones and barely snapped a picture to capture the moment.  Here it is!
On top of that, she got all of their autographs and this special photo with her favorite player!
One of the players shared that she had been homeschooled...A neat connection!
  They were all so incredibly nice and sweet to Princess and her friends.
Princess was beyond thrilled!
~This will surely be an unforgettable 9th Birthday~
!Go Warriors!

Our Lady of Sorrows

~This was a post from the archives with a helpful link to explain the Seven Sorrows~

~The Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows~
I was looking for a teaching tool to help my children understand the Seven Sorrows of Mary.  I found this neat reflection called The Way of Compassion: The Seven Sorrows of Mary at The Passionists website. This website inspired me to make a little booklet that the children can look at and also use to pray and reflect.  (We are using it again this year:) I just loved the colorful pictures that coupled the prayers at the site. The images are just the right size to cut out for a quick project!  To keep it simple, I just used construction paper stapled together.  You could certainly do more!

This is a peek at the first page after a little "cutting and pasting"...
I also cut out the Seven Graces received and pasted those inside the front cover.

You can read more about the Seven Sorrows of Mary at Catholic Culture. 

The Seven Sorrows:
1. The prophecy of Simeon.

2. The flight into Egypt.

3. The loss of the Child Jesus in the temple.

4. The meeting of Jesus and Mary on the Way of the Cross.

5. The Crucifixion.

6. The taking down of the Body of Jesus from the Cross.

7. The burial of Jesus.

These are the SEVEN PROMISES/GRACES that God grants to those who honor The Blessed Virgin Mother daily by saying seven Hail Mary's, while contemplating her tears and sorrows during her life. This devotion was passed on to us by St. Bridget.

1. I will grant peace to their families.

2. They will be enlightened about the Divine Mysteries.

3. I will console them in their pains and I will accompany them in their work.

4. I will give them as much as they ask for as long as it does not oppose the adorable will of my Divine Son or the sanctification of their souls.

5. I will defend them in their spiritual battles with the infernal enemy and I will protect them at every instant of their lives.

6. I will visibly help them at the moment of their death, they will see the face of their mother.

7. I have obtained (This Grace) from my Divine Son, that those who propagate this devotion to my tears and dolors, will be taken from this earthly life to eternal happiness since all their sins will be forgiven and my Son and I will be their eternal consolation and joy.
Some other great resources:
The Seven Dolors Devotion
Great ideas at Catholic Icing!

~I made this little poster to accompany the booklet~

These were easy Seven Sorrows Cookies!
I couldn't resist posting these over at Catholic Cuisine
since I found these packaged heart-shaped Petits Palmiers at Trader Joe's.
Sometimes I really love quick and easy!
~The kids had fun decorating Mary's Immaculate Heart and using 7 toothpicks to learn the 7 sorrows~
These are great for any quick and easy "heart" snack during the year!

Mother of Sorrows Prayer
Father, As Your Son was raised on the cross,
His Mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His
suffering.  May she, who is also our spiritual
Mother and Patroness in Heaven, help us to 
find renewed strength at the cross of Christ
and so come to share in His rising to new life,
where He lives and reigns with You and the
Holy Spirit, one God, forever and ever.  Amen.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

A Test Of Faith

I was listening to some ladies talk as I was waiting for 2 of my children at their music lesson.
I overheard one of the ladies telling the other that she was Catholic..."but not a very strong Catholic,"she went on to say.  She continued to share that the only reason she went to church was for her kids to get "the Communion thing."
My heart just sank and my spirit felt the blow.  Mostly, I felt sad for that lady that she didn't know Who she was talking about as she casually tossed about "the Communion thing." The image of Jesus carrying His Cross flashed throught my mind, if you know what I mean. 
What should I do?
Would quietly sitting there, (saying nothing) be minding my own business or would it be denying Our Lord like St. Peter?
The questions raced through my mind.
This was a test of faith...For me.
I was raised in the 60's and 70's when faith was a private matter and we didn't openly talk about Jesus or what we believed.  Evangeliztion was a new term for me as a re-vert to the faith in my early thirties.
Hmmm, what to do?  I sat there and prayed. Feeling my heart begin to race, I just started rambling out prayer, calling on everyone I knew!:)
Jesus on this feast of the Holy Cross, show me what to do; Holy Spirit, be with me ; Mother Mary, please help me!
Then suddenly, for some reason this quote popped into my mind...Don't ask me from where?
"The only sure way for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing."~Edmund Burke~
It was time to go.
"Lo and behold" the Catholic lady was walking out to her car the same time as we were...Of course!
And so my heart spoke something like this...
"You know, I happened to over-hear you talking about being Catholic. Well, I'm Catholic too and I just wanted to tell you that you won't be disappointed if you deepen your faith. Everything about our faith is so beautiful and it will fill your spirit beyond belief.  We are so blessed to have the Sacraments that provide the fullness of Our Faith, to include Jesus in the Eucharist...And most importantly, it's the truth."
She just looked at me for a minute, with her mouth hanging open for a minute....Then she went on to tell me of a minor incident that had upset her and was keeping her from the church out of anger and resentment.  I told her I was sorry...Sorry that she had been hurt by members of our church family.  I too, have been hurt by members of the church, so we could relate.  We went on to talk about the fact that all churches are made of people who are all human, all sinners.  This is why we need Jesus...And His Cross to save us.  She agreed.
I apologized again that she had been hurt and I promised to pray for her, once again reminding her that she won't be disappointed if she deepened her faith. 
She thanked me for saying something and we parted ways.
My heart continued to race as I sat in the car for a minute to catch my breath...I was sweating and the children just sat there in silence and looked at me.  (They had heard parts of the conversation) 
"We need to stand up for Jesus, kids...will we fail or pass the test?"
I felt like a little child myself.
It may or may not have made a difference to the other lady but one thing is certain...
It was a real test of faith...For me.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Holy Cross Is Love

Jesus on The Cross, drawn by Princess ~2010
I had completely forgotten about this poem that I wrote last year in honor of The Exaltation of the Holy Cross.  Looking through my archives to see how we celebrated, I found it!  (And these drawings:) I am sharing it again as we remember The Cross of our Lord that sets us free.

Love complete...
is the symbol of horror that became the symbol of hope...
With the death of Our Lord on the Cross, came the dawn of eternal life.
The instrument of our salvation is forever a sacred symbol that we cling to...
In our sufferings and sorrows, we are never alone.
We visit, we kneel, we lay prostrate, we sit quietly,
gazing at the One who gave it all.
Complete surrender at the foot of His cross brings peace,
filling our cups with grace,
quenching our desire for heaven,
Until we are in His arms,
Love Complete.

Monday, September 12, 2011

I Saw Mary...A Birthday Picnic

Our Little Flowers and Blue Knights group held a birthday picnic last week, in honor of Our Lady.  
We first gathered in prayer...

 The Litany to the Blessed Virgin Mary was prayed, followed by a small procession around our Fatima shrine, praying a decade of the Rosary.

Birthday balloons followed and white of course!
(Blue for Mary's color and white for her purity)
We wanted to give Mama Mary a gift since she gave us the best gift ever...Jesus, God's only Begotten Son!
We closed our eyes and thought about how we could give Jesus to others, just as Mary did.
We silently thought about ways to do this through our love, compassion, care, forgiveness, and acts of charity....Knowing that when we can be mirrors of Jesus, we become true children of Mary and God Himself.
Then we released our balloons to the heavens...
Happy Birthday Mother Mary!
It was fun to watch them disappear...
A picnic followed our little ceremony...Here I saw Mary.

I saw Mary... in the sacrifices of the Mothers who brought their little ones to her in multiples!  Leading their children closer to Jesus, through Mary, they came despite the hardship that it takes to get several children dressed, out the door, in the car, lunch packed, etc, etc.

I saw Mary...smiling through the wombs of pregnant Mamas.  Their "yes" to God shines through their example.

I saw Mary... in the voices of Moms who are preparing for older children to leave the nest...Some for the first time and others for the second and third time.  Despite the pain in their hearts, they know that God's plan for their children is His and not theirs.   Just as Mary watched Jesus leave for His public ministry, they wonder and wait too...and it still hurts.

I saw Mary... in the women who helped each other with one another's children, even while juggling their own, including babies in their womb.  The visitation was reenacted as hands reached out and little acts of charity prevailed.

The afternoon ended with Mary's Birthday cake!
A Hail Mary was prayed as each candle was lit!
(10 candles on each cake, representing a decade of the Rosary)
All ages gathered around to pray and sing Happy Birthday to our Heavenly Mother!
I saw Mary today... in the desires of many hearts to be closer to her Son.

The Holy Name of Mary

Breakfast with Mary...
Praying to become a trusting child, even as the Son of God did.

How about blueberry bagels with a special twist?
~In honor of Mary's Holy Name, we posted this easy idea over at Catholic Cuisine~
We used "blue"berry bagels and dried "blue"berry letters created with Mary's color blue in mind... The white cream cheese represents her purity.

Lord our God,
when your Son was dying on the altar of the cross,
He have us our Mother
the one He had chosen to be His own Mother,
the Blessed Virgin Mary;
grant that we who call upon the Holy Name of Mary, our Mother,
with confidence in her protection
may receive strength and comfort in all our needs.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Happy Birthday Blessed Mother!

The cakes are decorated and looking forward to Our Lady's Birthday celebration!
We are kicking off our Little Flowers/Blue Knight's group with a Marian birthday party...Stay tuned for more details.  For now, a few sneak peaks at the birthday cakes:)
I'm no professional but I sure love honoring our Heavenly Mother!
We also made these blue Mary's Praying Arms pretzels to share!
These are yogurt-covered pretzels...with the added touch of blue sprinkles!
The girls had fun making these!
We are ready for our fun celebration, complete with balloons for a special surprise gift to Our Lady!
"The Blessed Virgin Mary's soul was the space from which God was able to gain access to humanity."~Pope Benedict XVI~

Saturday, September 3, 2011

9/11 for $1.00

As the 10th Anniversary of September 11th quickly approaches, I thought I'd share this link that I received from my dear friend, Christa.  I hadn't heard of this company but it looked like such a great deal and a fun way to teach children about this important day in American history.  When I started to calculate birthdays, I realized that 3 of  my children weren't even born at the time!

In The Hands of A Child is offering a $1.00 special on their 9/11 lap book.  It looks like a neat project!

Our soccer daughter decorated her socks (to wear this month) in tribute to 9/11.  We thought they turned out perfectly patriotic!
These are the front...

And another view of the back!
"May this solemn occasion be a day of fervent prayer for those who died, for those who mourn, and for true peace in the world."~Fr. Peter Cameron~

Unknowing of the events that would occur on 9/11/01, this was the Magnificat meditation (10 years ago) on 9/12/01:
"How easy it is...for us to become dependent on our routines...Friends and possessions surround us...It is the status quo that ...carries us from day to day...we begin to lose sight of the fact that...behind all these things it is God who...sustains us.  We go along, taking for granted that tomorrow will be very much like today, comfortable in the world we created for ourselves...and give little thought to God.  Somehow, then, God must contrive to break through those routines...and remind us once again...that we are ultimately dependent only upon Him...that his we are and that we must look to Him and turn to Him in everything.  Then it is, perhaps, that He must allow our whole world to be turned upside down in order to remind us it is not our permanent abode or final destiny, to bring us to our senses and restore our sense of values, to turn our thoughts once more to Him."~Fr. Walter J. Ciszek~
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