Friday, April 18, 2014

Not the brightest bulb in the....bulb box....

"Lord, help me today, Good Friday. I give this day to you with all its trials and sufferings. I want so much to make this day holy for you, to find a way to sit with you in your suffering. I don't know how I can do it because the kids are already fighting with each other and crying, and I know I'm going to spend today in chaos with all the kids at home making messes and being noisy, dragging them to prayers and Stations and enduring their whining and constant demands. Show me how I can create a space to celebrate your Passion today..."

Oh. Wait a minute.

Yeah, that makes sense, Lord.

"Lord, help me today, Good Friday. Be with me amid my trials and sufferings as I struggle to parent these beautiful gifts whom I love. Shower me with Your grace so I respond to complaints with compassion, demands with gentle forbearance, defiance with love, and disruptions with patience. Grant me the strength to be mindful of You in the everyday moments of my life today. I offer my sufferings to You as a partnership with Your Passion for the salvation of the world, and particularly for those in my life who do not know You. I love You, Lord Jesus. Guide me today. Amen."

Title quote from Frasier. Love that show.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Too Much Joy

Blessed Lent to you all! I might be enjoying it a bit too much this year. None of my sacrifices are bringing me down...on the contrary, I am so excited to be healthy enough to make a sacrifice! And it's fun to choose the sacrifice I want to make instead of being given a cross I can't carry.

We decided as a family (okay, I decided and told my family and no one jumped ship so it's happening) to do a rice and beans dinner challenge for the 40 days of Lent. Basically, dinner is rice and beans and whatever vegetables and spices go with the dish. But no meat. No other grains. No tofu or tuna. The idea is to experience some solidarity with the majority of our world's poor, whose main staples are rice and beans, by limiting our dinner choices to those ingredients. The addition of vegetables and spices is for health and palatability, although we have decided on Fridays of Lent to have a simple meal of black beans and rice without vegetables or spices.

So far it is going well. God Bless my husband, who is not Catholic, and is nevertheless such a trooper in situations like these. I didn't expect that the kids would really eat their dinners and they aren't. But they don't eat anything I cook unless it's spaghetti or tacos and even then, one kid won't eat the chunks of tomato in the sauce, another only eats the noodles, etc. So I make the meal and serve it, they must try one bite, and then they are free to make whatever they'd like for their own dinners. Usually the toddler eats her rice and then asks for a sandwich and one of the older kids will make her one. My 10 year old likes to cook himself a cheese omelet, and my 7 year old eats apples with nut butter.

I've made the following dishes since Ash Wednesday:

Black Beans and rice
Red Beans and rice
Pintos Picadillos
Moroccan Chickpea Stew

The best part about this challenge is that the dishes are easy one pot meals that cook on their own. So the dinner hour is not stressful. I have much more time in the late afternoons to do Bible reading and prayer, clean the kitchen so it's not such a disaster after dinner, and spend time with the kids. We took advice from Jessica at A Shower of Roses and made a Lenten calendar detailing who to pray for and what blessings to count as penny offerings for the poor. The kids have been excited to participate in these devotions so far.

It's all been wonderful, and I feel so very grateful for the joy that surrounds me these days.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Pope Love!

In case anyone has missed it, our beloved Holy Father's advice for the start of the New Year:

10 Practical Lessons from Pope Francis

10. Don't gossip.
9. Finish your meals.
8. Make time for others
7. Choose the "more humble" purchase.
6. Meet the poor "in the flesh."
5. Stop judging others.
4. Befriend those who disagree.
3. Make commitments, such as marriage.
2. Make it a habit to "ask the Lord."
1. Be happy.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Happy New Year!

I'm working on finding myself within my own life!
2014 is here and, like the dawn of a new day, it has brought with it endless and exciting possibilities. I love the New Year. I love Christmastime and the celebrations of Christ's birth, the symbolism of new life, and the drawing closer to God and each other that occurs during the winter months. I have been praying for God to fill me up with love and He has done it...I am cup runneth over!

I spent a harried but joyful Advent preparing for Christmas, only having to let go of two traditions (though I loved them both dearly there simply was not time for it all.) I wrote an email letter instead of sending real Christmas cards (sob) and did not make sugar cookies to cut out and hang on the tree (one of my kids' favorite holiday traditions.) However, we DID: bake a gingerbread house, decorate gingerbread men, trim the tree, drive around looking at Christmas lights, decorate our house, light the Advent wreath, exchange cookies, buy gifts for one and all, watch our favorite Christmas movies, and celebrate with family and friends. Spiritually, I made an effort to be more mindful of the many moments I have throughout the day to spend time communing with God, and I offered Him a birthday gift of forgiveness to those who hurt me during the past year.

Now that the New Year has come, I am preparing to dive deeply into personal growth. It's a continuous effort of mine, and in past years I have dedicated words to represent my resolutions. Previous words have included Patience, Discipline, and Abandonment. I am realizing that any, or all, of these words would do for this year as well, because no matter what the year, my basic resolutions are the same -- draw closer to God, live more fully as His disciple, trust Him, give more of myself to others and be a better wife/mother/daughter/friend. As Jessica Snell eloquently writes in her post on this subject:

It’s okay to make the same resolution every year, I think. It’s even good. The new year is a time to take stock, to remember where we are and where we’re going, and if you find every year that your first thing is still your first thing . . . well, that’s good. It means you were probably right about your priorities. It means you just might be fitting into that wonderful description of the Christian life: “A long obedience in the same direction.”

In preparation for this, I have spent a few days prayerfully writing a Mother's Rule for the new year. Right now it's a beautiful mosaic of colors and plans beckoning me to accomplish all the goals I've set for myself. It's not so much a schedule to which I need to perfectly adhere, but rather I think it's a starting point, a place from which I reorient my priorities and evaluate whether I have balance in my daily life.

Specifics I plan to concentrate on in the New Year include:

Spiritual Reading of the non-blog kind
Less time in front of screens
Finishing projects!!
Experiencing joy in the moment

Vices I plan to decrease are pride and gluttony.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Blessed Advent

Just a short post to say that God is so great, so faithful, and so merciful! He has lifted the depression and enabled me to find hope and joy again, just in time for Advent. I hope to post something a little more detailed and useful in the coming days if I can find time in between writing the Xmas letter, ordering gifts, decorating, baking, monitoring homework assignments, fighting with the toddler about getting dressed, and celebrating with the kids. Much love!

Picture credit.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Choosing Truth

When all else is lost, when there is nothing -- no solace, no healing, no relief, and no hope -- the only thing we can do is rely on the truth.

This I know: There is one faith in this world that promotes love for all, a sense of responsibility for the least among us, a life of service and sacrifice intended to ease the suffering of others, a sense of community with those here and those who have gone beyond, and ultimately, a loving reward for those who choose to open their hearts to it. That is the Catholic faith.

When people say "God is enough" I think this is what they mean. It is enough that I hold to the truth and am faithful to it, to the best of my limited ability, even in my weakness. It guarantees nothing...nothing except forgiveness of my sins and the gates opening for me. And that is enough.

It is enough that I believe. That I try. That I continue on and let Truth guide my choices.

In so many ways, control is an illusion, a First World promise that fails to deliver. Christianity does not promise me prosperity in this life, success in business or relationships, comfort, physical health, or happiness. Millions of Christians around the world are suffering and have no way to stop the pain or protect the ones they love from physical or emotional harm. Truth is all they have. Eternity is their only promise.

To have expectations for anything different is a fallacy and a lie.

Friday, September 20, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

1. There is really never a time when I want to clean the darn kitchen. During the day I think to myself, eh, I'll do it after dinner. After dinner I think, eh, I'll do it after the kids are in bed. Then I am tired and think, eh, I'll do it in the morning. So when I wake up I come downstairs and this is what greets me:

So I think, eh, I'll do it after breakfast....

2.  I have decided not to push my 10 year old son to do his homework. My son is brilliant and wonderful, but struggles with ADHD. He simply will NOT do what he doesn't want to do. We had three weeks of battles wherein I used the wooden spoon to motivate him, and then I decided: This is not the mom I want to be. This is not the relationship I want to have. This is not the environment I want in my home. Homework is only worth 10% of his grade, so I have decided I will keep up with the assignments on teacher's blogs and Homework Hotline but leave it up to him if he is going to actually do it or not. I will concentrate my energy on studying for tests and helping him with special projects. It has been wonderfully freeing and really helped me feel more love for him because we are not in a constant war anymore.

3. Due to food intolerances among family members, digestive issues for me, and a special diet to help with the ADHD, we have been trying to stick to a gluten-free and dairy-free diet, and I can't do eggs either. I have been frequenting Paleo blogs and relying on my Nourishing Traditions cookbook to make the most nutrient-dense and gut-healthy meals I can, given these restrictions. A typical day consists of the following:

Breafast: Homemade zucchini muffins using soaked rice flour, almond meal, and substituting flax seed for eggs, black tea, bacon
Snack: Rice crackers with kefir cheese, cucumber and smoked salmon
Lunch: salad with red pepper, cucumber, carrots, goat cheese, almonds and chicken breast, balsalmic vinegar and oil dressing (or last night's leftovers)
Snack: Fruit or corn chips with guacamole
Dinner: Beef meatballs made with shredded zucchini and garlic in  marinara sauce, roasted vegetables
Snack: homemade yogurt with walnuts, apples and a drizzle of honey

Breakfast: gluten free peanut butter sandwiches 
Snack: Uncookies (peanut butter, egg, banana, baking soda and chocolate chips)
Lunch: chopped ham or salami slices, carrots, grapes
Snack: Fruit leather or gluten-free granola bar
Snack: chips and salsa
Snack: apple
Snack: banana and peanut butter
Snack: carrots and hummus
Dinner: hot dog, snap peas, rice (very rarely, what I've cooked)
Snack: nuts and raisins

It's limited, and there's waaaay to much reliance on nuts. I still don't think it's where it needs to be, but it is a huge improvement from when I was pregnant, and I'd rather they snack on nuts than chips or cereal, so there's that.

4. I am not going to volunteer in my kids classrooms this year, or teach catechism. It was a hard decision, but I chose instead to do an ENDOW class on the Letter to Women and start up my volunteering with Catholic Charities Archdiocesan Housing again. My priorities right now have to be my own spiritual nourishment and preserving time to run errands, go to doctor's appointments, and keep on top of the household. I feel at peace with the decision, even though I would like to be able to do more.

5. My daughter's American Heritage Girls uniform  and handbook finally arrived! We are so excited and have already started working on her first badge, in the Arts Frontier. I am really hoping that this gives her a taste of the pride and satisfaction that comes from working hard to earn something.

6. I watched Les Miserables over the last three nights in one hour increments after the kids were in bed. Magnificent! My favorite part was how God and the Church were presented in a positive light as the source of hope and renewal, rather than as backwards hypocrites or sexual predators. It saddens me that the secular culture is so anti-Catholic that I honestly expected to see negative portrayals of my faith, and was pleasantly surprised when I didn't. 

7. Please pray for me. I am still struggling in many ways.

For more Quick Takes visit Jen!