Friday, April 4, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Homes, Germs, Projects & the Search for Good News

It's been quiet over here for the last week or so, but I thought I would pop in with a really quick takes. Much has been happening, so much so that there isn't time to write about it during the week!

Remember me doing the happy dance a couple weeks ago because mom got a good offer on her house? Well, that has transpired into a quick trip out here, whirlwind house buying, and many meetings-emails-phone calls as relates "the move." Things are moving forward with a house purchase here, as well as the sale of her house in Oregon, but prayers for smooth(er) sailing as we move in that forward direction are always appreciated! St. Joseph, pray for us! 

As we have been immersed in an intensely busy week, it is naturally the week that I am sick. I have visions of those critters in the Mucinex commercials just wreaking havoc in my lungs and sinuses. It is quite a party they are throwing. Apparently they did not see the "no vacancy" signs.

We have, however, been blessed with a few beautiful and warm days over the last week, especially on the days we were busy with house hunting and inspecting. For this we are immensely thankful. I can't imagine touring around in the weather we have today. All this rainy, cold, dreary weather makes me want to do is sleep. Incidentally, the Cough-a-Cabana party makes that somewhat difficult.

In the midst of this craziness, it has also been a week filled with heavy news. Not sixties hippie heavy neither. Cancer battles begun, cancer battles lost, depression battles lost, wee littles hospitalized {not ours}, birthdays of lost loved ones, politics run amuck (HHS, Marriage Equality, World Vision, blah blah blah)... No news is, in fact, good news on weeks like this. So...your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to fill the combox with GOOD NEWS! Yes, Jesus is GREAT news, but I mean small news. What's going on? Who is rejoicing over battles won? Anniversaries? Engagements? Birthdays? New projects? Fill 'er up, folks!

I did manage to have a little fun over the last couple weeks, thanks to an invite from Erin and the Hubs taking one for the team and solo-ing a long evening. We went to Painting With A Twist, though not twisting any bottles open this time around because, well, Cough-A-Palooza and all. Y'all - it was SO FUN! If I could afford it, I would go weekly. Alas, that wouldn't fit in our budget, and all the paintings wouldn't fit in our house. SO FUN.

Pay no attention to the name on the table. We swapped so
this lefty wouldn't elbow her friend all night. 

Crystal 'grammed a photo this week that showed off some saint plaques she made using coloring page cutouts. Brilliant lady, that one. This is now my new endeavor, because Gia's quest for projects has to come from somewhere. So I'm trying to find coloring pages and decide my hierarchy of saints. Let's face it, I will get a few done and then get distracted with life as "the move" happens and summer conferences and travel hits. Maybe not, but I'd rather count on it. So far at the top I have St. Michael & Blessed Frassati for the Jude-ster, and St. Gianna and Pope John Paul II for Li'l G. What would be your top two saints for kiddie-icons? Maybe this will be my new "thing" after photography, writing, painting and religious art making. I have a problem.

Not photographing babies here.
Last, but not least, I dusted off the ol' camera and had two sessions last weekend with some beautiful little babies. I am thankful for friends who have more faith in me than I do and give me business and referrals. I'd give you a sneak peek, but they haven't seen them yet, so it'd probably be bad form. Next week. More photos. Promise.

And that is it for now. Have a most wonderful weekend!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tell Me What You Buy & I'll Tell You Who You Are

Not quite St. Augustine, I know. The thought came to me as I was checking out at Meijer the other day sans kiddos (don't be jealous). I was chatting with the cashier who was commenting on the things I was buying, and  making some rather correct assumptions about our life based on what she was scanning. As I unpacked my loot, I realized you really can tell quite a bit about a person's life based on what goes into (and comes out of) those bags. What does my shopping say about life at the Casa, you ask (or not)? Here we go!

1)  Oh, yes, we have a toddler girl in potty training. And I hate buying logo-riffic products. By the by, why is it so hard to find toddler anything without some character on it??

2) Cats. Multiple. Correctamundo!

3) Trying to get organized. Yes, indeed.

4) Trying to keep track of this crazy mixed up beautiful life. Check!

5) - 8) We are attempting to eat better and make some healthier choices. Organic milk, superfoods, whole grain, no artifical XYZ - it would appear meals at the Casa are health conscious.

9) . . . or not. Canned goods are our friends. Life is busy. Sometimes dinner prep is rushed, so there you go.

10) We are attempting to pose as foodies and gourmet beer connoisseurs. Fooled ya! I don't care for "beer," so I've been trying to find some darker brews with some sweetness so both of us are happy. In case you were wondering: delicious!

11) I am toeing the "crunchy" line, but not willing to shell out the big bucks and commit.  Bingo.

12) There may be more than just the potty-training-girl toddler in the house. She may have a brother. He doesn't want to be condemned to a life of mama-hand-drawn Jake characters. True story.

So there you have it. That's what my purchases say about me. There was also an Easter dress in there that got the cashier talking about her niece, but we will save that reveal for what we wore on Easter!

Tell me, what does your shopping say about you?

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

What I Wore {Sunday Shorts}

In which it is definitely NOT warm enough to wear shorts. Oh, spring, where art thou???

It's been a few weeks or more since I've linked up with the ladies at Fine Linen & Purple for a little What I Wore Sunday so I thought I'd get back on the dressing up for Mass bandwagon since I was commentating today {and the sun is out so you might think it is nice out}.

Dress: Target clearance
Jacket: Thrifted
Tights: Target
Boots: Shoe Dept.
Necklace: Target clearance
Glasses: Costco
Hair: pulled back to look like I'm 6 again

That sun had me fooled. It is stinking cold out there! And yet, even though it seems that spring might just be a fling this year no matter how much I would like a firm commitment, we are reminded to have hope in our second reading today.

This passage from Romans is within my top five favorites in all of Scripture. What more hope do we need than to know that God doesn't need us to be perfect, He doesn't even expect it! He gives us His Son out of pure unselfish love, to allow us to be reunited fully with Him, to give us hope, to give us new eyes, to turn our hearts of stone into hearts of flesh, to make in us a dwelling of the Holy Spirit that we might forever be one with Him. 

Sure, I'd like some warm weather as much as the next person stuck in this polar vortex of a winter, but that is some pretty good news and reason for hope if I ever doubted there was a reason. The eternal springtime is ours for the asking and taking - we just have to endure the winter a wee bit longer to get there. God promises us it is coming, it is ours. Even in our brokenness, heaven awaits us. 

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Friday, March 21, 2014

SQT: True Confessions, Moms and Daughters, & Artful Words

After taking last week off, it is good to be back posting a quickity quick takes. I mentioned earlier in the week that I am trying to be more intentional about ordering my time and activities correctly, so writing is taking a bit of a back seat. What I didn't expect is that by taking a little break and slowing the pace, I actually enjoy the times I do write and it is more energizing and more fulfilling . . . and I feel like I am better connected to what the Spirit is leading me to say instead of straining to get words on a page from my own mind, which these days is feeble at best. I always assumed that an activity that was energizing for you would always be energizing. Who knew Ecclesiastes was spot on with that whole "a time for all things" bit? So there is confession one: I actually write better when I write less often. Here's a few more random True Confessions of the neither rich, nor famous, mixed in with some other what-we're-up-to factoids that you aren't dying to know.

True confession: I hate talking on the phone for long periods of time. My teenage self would be getting ready to backhand me for such utter nonsense, but it is true. It may be that I am now surrounded by so much noise, I really have no desire to add to it voluntarily on the phone. A quick text or an email and I'm content. It's a failing, I know. If you are one of the people I don't call regularly enough, or I owe you a call, my apologies. The art of conversation after all is an art, but it is one that I find taxing at this time in my life. Again, teenage me says "whaaaat???" I'm going to get better. Really. Right after I join the gym.

Another true/odd confession: I cannot stand it when the toilet lid is left up. No, not the seat, the lid. With potty training in full force, we now have to keep the lid up and it makes my skin crawl. I loathe it, perhaps as much as Jennifer loathes those scorpions. The sacrifices we make for our children . . . 

Last true confession: I was sharing my long and tired conversion story with someone the other day, and let's just say there is some alcohol involved (in the story, not in the telling of it). I came to realize that my partying college self would be shaking her head at the lightweight I have become. It's one drink for me . . . two at the MAX . . . and I'm done, or I feel horrible. I get fuzzy and not in the "oooh, warm fuzzies" kind of way. This I do not like. College me is definitely giving me a dirty look. Listen kid, you'll understand one day. You won't be able to live on McDonald's and not gain weight anymore either. Things change. It's you. It's all you. Deep thoughts, huh? For deeper thoughts about why my faith is important to me, check out this post from earlier in the week. For now it's just a brief why - I'm working on a condensed story of the how the Hindu kid became devoutly Catholic. It's the condensed part that's tough. Move along, now...

No more confessions - just a happy dance! My mom has nearly sold her house. It's not final yet, but it is a breath away from final. Prayers that her inspection, assessment and all else go well are much appreciated! She's moving here . . . at least I assume she is moving here. I guess I should confirm that she hasn't made plans to relocate somewhere more exotic and warm. Here's the crazy - she has to be out of her house by April 30 if all goes through. That's a month...ok, I know - a month and ten days. IT'S A MONTH PEOPLE! WE HAVE THINGS TO DO! Like the super Type A daughter I am, I immediately booked her a flight here for next week to look at houses, sent the realtor a few properties to get things started and filled out her pre-approval questionnaire in a matter of hours. We are making this happen. And by that, I mean we are trusting God to provide as He always does. GO TEAM!

Speaking of having things to do, who knew we needed to get the ball rolling for pre-school in the spring? Oh, apparently everyone but me. This week has been intense! While I got the call from mom yesterday, the two previous days were spent calling and meeting with prospective pre-schools for our Li'l G. We still haven't made any final plans for the fall what with the Hubs and I not having a time we can go together to meet with the Assistant Principal sans kids in tow at the school we'd like to send her to in the fall. {How do you like them run-on sentences?}

We did, however, go visit her old childcare center which also has a preschool, and it looks like she will be starting there as soon as I get the paperwork done. She thinks she already rules the school. She walked in, sat right down and started building with the blocks, then found paper and crayons unattended and proceeded to color in some unsuspecting 3 year old's book. Watch out world, here she comes!

Since I've slowed down the writing a bit, I'm taking a little more time in exploring some other outlets of creativity. As I reflect on what I feel God is doing with all the creative work, what He wants to accomplish through that time and energy spent, I continue to come back to the mission of the blog. Love selflessly; serve joyfully; live boldly. To do all this, we have to know Love Himself. In my own journey, I have found that more time to contemplate His face in the Word, even if only a small segment of it, along with the wisdom of the saints, draws me closer into the heart of Christ. It reveals to me the wisdom of a happy life, of walking in friendship in Christ, of ordering my time and my life well. If you follow the 'Diaries on Facebook, you will notice that I have started to add a couple new features as close to daily as I can. One is Scripture and/or wisdom from the Saints incorporated with art/photography. The other is a NightCap with wisdom from the Office of Readings. I hope you'll stop by and take a look. Some of the images might appear on Instagram as well, but only if the images are mine or part of the Creative Commons. 

To that end, I am also contemplating opening a shop {venue as of yet undetermined - may be Etsy, may be Smugmug} with inspirational art and such. Would small prints of the types of images I am creating be something of interest to people {read: you}? I've also been collecting some things to turn into inspirational art to possibly sell. I'd have some samples for you, but well, it's been a busy week {see 4 & 5}. 

What say ye? Something you'd consider buying or at least looking at? Selling mechanisms you would recommend that take care of all the tax-ey legalities? Type A worrier kicking in there, sorry. 

That's a quick glimpse of the happenings from my end of the Casa. It's been a busy week - be thankful this didn't turn into a 7 x 7 takes, what with Fred Phelps dying, a missing plane, more Once Upon a Time goodness, Harry Connick, Jr. on American Idol, St. Patrick's Day, St. Joseph's Feast, and what appears to be the beginning of spring . . . consider yourselves molto fortunate!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How Do You See the World?

Why is faith such an important part of our lives? We here at the Casa are not people who dogmatically ascribe to a thousand and one rules and follow them precisely. Yet, that is such the opinion that so many have about religion and our Catholic faith most especially. I will tell you right now - I am not good with rules. While I am a "rule follower" to a great degree, anything with too many rules loses me faster than Tom Cruise had Renee Zellweger at hello.

So again, why is faith such an important part of my life? Catholicism certainly has with it many "thou shalt nots" and other prescriptions regarding right behavior and wrong behavior. What gives? It boils down to this. Faith is a lens by which I view the world, and in particular, my Catholic faith. It is a relationship with a living person, the person of Jesus Christ who invites me into an intimate relationship with Him. Jesus invites me to see the world through His eyes, and to aspire to live in the world as He did - with His heart, His eyes, His ears, His love, His obedience to the will of the Father. 

To help me get there, He set in motion a collective of people who would create the structure that we now know as the Church to keep me from wandering too far astray. These rules are not simply "thou shalt nots" - they are words of love much like those we speak to our children. We set down rules and boundaries to do our best to keep our children from serious harm. God does the same. We hope one day our children will see the world through our eyes to understand our love for them. God does the same.

When I see injustice in the world, I'm not outraged because of some political motivation. I am outraged because Jesus weeps. I am outraged because He came to call all of us to the heart of the Father and we continue to tear each other down and apart. I am outraged because God intends better for us. I am outraged because I know I am part of the problem.

When I see people shackled by their sins and failures, I want to help set them free. I know I am right alongside them, whether anyone else sees my chains or not. I choose every day whether to tighten the cuffs or to live in the freedom God offers us. I want people to know the freedom that comes from renouncing our sins, from renouncing the ways in which we turn away from God and the "rules" He has set in place for our protection. There is such great freedom in leaving those shackles behind and walking in step with God. There is such great peace in knowing that when the chains start to wrap around us, when we fall because we haven't completely let go of them, Jesus is there to extend His hand and pull us out. I want the world to know that by seeing the world as Jesus does, I see the possibility of freedom instead of the gloom of condemnation.

When I put on my Jesus specs, I begin to see every person as precious to God, even the jerk that cut me off in rush hour traffic or the lady that stole my parking spot - every.single.person. Regardless of where they are in their journey, regardless of what they have done in their lives, regardless of how unforgivable I think they are or how far they have fallen, regardless of how very much they annoy the daylights out of me - every single soul ever created is precious to God. Every single soul is redeemable. 

When I wear my Jesus specs, I begin to see my mistakes (and everyone else's) as impermanent. I begin to see how God has worked tirelessly to take those ashes where I thought I had burned a bridge and create out of nothing a beautiful road back to Him. I begin to believe that God came for us, God gave us Jesus, not because He expected us to be perfect, but knowing we were far from it and we would need a new vision, a new heart, a new Spirit in the midst of our suffering, pain and sin. I begin to believe that there isn't a thing I could do to separate myself from the love of God through Jesus Christ other than to turn my back and walk away. Even then, I know He would chase me until my dying day. 

I didn't always have a faith in Christ. I didn't always have these Jesus specs. I was lost. I was lonely. I was looking in all the wrong places to find where I belonged. I gave my heart too easily. I escaped my pain instead of dealing with it. I put myself in compromising situations that could have led to disaster but didn't only by the grace of God. I gave myself to the wrong people, believing I would find love. I tried to earn love. I tried to earn friendship. I tried to earn worth. I wanted to be loved, never realizing I was already beloved. 

It took me some time to adjust to these old Jesus specs. My world and my vision didn't transform overnight. To tell the truth, I still forget my glasses a lot of the time. The difference now is that they are always there waiting for me. They are there to restore in me a vision of truth - the truth about who I am and to whom I belong. They are there to restore in me a hope in humanity - the hope that we will one day see in each other our belovedness. They are there to restore in me a confident knowledge - the knowledge that good has already beaten evil, whether we see it now or not. 

So tell me, how do you see the world? Wanna give these specs a try? I guarantee there is nothing on earth like them!

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Saturday, March 15, 2014

Finding Order

Happy second week of Lent everyone! How are your Lenten commitments going? I know it's been a struggle for me to keep to mine as that phone is always whispering my name. (Not audibly - that would be creepy and Siri and I would have to have a chat.)

One thing I didn't expect from slowing down a bit during Lent is that I would also feel called to take a little break from writing. While there have been moments of inspiration, overall I am less inclined to spend time furiously typing away. I've really spent a good deal of time praying about whether writing is a hobby, a talent, or a charism. Deciding to spend time writing inevitably takes time from other things - housework, reading, artwork, praying, etc. Moving through Lent, I want to be especially prayerful about ordering my work and time rightly. 

If it is possible, I have come to the conclusion that my writing is all three - a hobby, a talent, and a charism - but not always all at the same time. I've learned to listen to the cues of the Spirit and step away if I am hurried or frustrated. Charisms bring forth energy, and if the energy isn't coming, then I'm dabbling in words of my own creation. While that isn't always a bad thing, when time is limited, I'm going to stick with the flow of the Spirit. That may mean fewer blogs and resisting a link up just for the sake of a link up. It will be just as hard as putting that phone out of my reach after dinner. I've finally gotten into a pattern of blogging regularly after years of "having a blog." We are sticking with quality over quantity now, though an occasional frivolous post might surface based on nothing by my heart's (or funny bone's) own desire. I make no guarantees.

The struggle continues to find my voice amidst the thousands of voices out there on the internet. Trying to find a home and identity can become exhausting - yet another reason to pull back. Am I a mom blogger who happens to be Catholic? Am I a Catholic blogger who happens to be a mom? What is my primary goal here? I've gotten a few answers, but the rest only time will tell. I know the first part of my mission here is to help myself and others love more boldly - my name means "gift of love" after all. That requires me to post more boldly about issues that can breed a bit of disdain or controversy, like the post about the pro-life movement I've been sitting on for a week because I'm too chicken to put it up yet. {It's one thing to spout off in private company. It is a whole different affair to hit "post" for those thoughts to exists beyond the time and space continuum for all eternity.}

Perhaps at the end of the day I am just a woman who loves to write and happens to be a Catholic wife and mother. Those things color the world in which I live, but maybe I don't have to pick a label and can just write from the heart. Otherwise, the imp in me might take over and begin to write as a purple people eater. I hope you'll come along for the ride!

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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

How to Approach the Suffering

I came across these words of Pope Francis on Friday and all at once so many things I had been feeling came spiraling forth with an explosive "YES!" He has, once again, so concisely and eloquently verbalized thoughts that have been rattling around in my brain for quite some time.

He has given us a guide on how to approach the suffering {which incidentally is all of us}. For so long, I simply recoiled at the sharp words of seemingly holy men and women rebuking those less holy. For so long, I would let the anger boil up inside my gut, furious that people used the name of my Lord, my Jesus, as a bullying stick. For so long, I dared not speak out lest that stick be used against me. For so long, I thought perhaps I just wasn't as holy as those men and women, that I wasn't as zealous, that I didn't long for heaven as ardently. Now Pope Francis has opened the door to arrive at a new understanding of how we must approach one another. Heal first, correct later.

I had the opportunity to hear Fr. Jonathon Morris speak some months ago at a rally in Toledo. He was speaking of his own journey of realization about the order in which this Pope wishes us to act. Fr. Jonathon spoke of his inclination to first teach, then love, and how after being in the presence of the Holy Father, after taking in his preaching, watching his example, he realized maybe that order was wrong. Perhaps first we simply love, then teach. Show mercy, then correct. Heal (without strings attached), then analyze.

As in any field hospital, we have to be attentive to triage. If we address the wounded in a wrong manner, we risk doing more damage than good. We also have to leave the notion that Truth and Mercy cannot coexist, that somehow mercy means sheltering a person from the Truth of their condition and their actions or that Truth means we cannot simply accompany a person through their misery without pointing a finger as to why they are suffering. For Truth and Mercy to co-exist, it means discerning the right order of action and conversation. If I were to make a chart for triage, it would look something like the following.


Able to engage in discussion, even sometimes heated debate over the nature of Truth, sin, etc. Watch for flinching and uncharacteristic anger, silence, and/or withdrawal to assess whether there is a hidden wound. When such wound surfaces, see below.


In need of healing. Must be reassured of God's love and the truth of His promises, but also open to honest and civil conversation about the nature of Truth, the cause of woundedness, etc. Approach with gentleness.


In desperate need of mercy and healing. Must be convinced of God's love through our actions. Must be convinced that Love can be unconditional. May not yet be able to engage in discussions about sin and brokenness. Take it easy and show them God's face. Make them believe God is mercy, healing and righteousness, not rules, lists and lightning bolts.

The truth is that most of us exist in all three of these stages at various points of our lives. Memories of our past may lead us back down the road to believing that mercy is not possible for us, and a good mountaintop experience may lead us to believing we are well, only to have someone poke at a not-quite-healed-wound and lead us right back down again. God's truth is that regardless of which of these states we believe ourselves to be in at the moment, He has an entirely different existence planned for us from the beginning of time. 

{GLORIFIED}This is what God desires for each of us. We don't get there overnight or by our own means. Not one of us can turn an apple into gold, after all. It is only through surrendering to His love, His mercy, His healing, His truth that our wounds end up glittering as gold. 

I believe that in our humanity, even well-meaning, holy people can use faith as a weapon rather than a salve, seeing someone else's suffering as a distraction from their own. Are there spiritual battles being fought that need the spiritual weapons? Of course. Let's use those weapons to delve a dagger into the heart of the devil, not one another. When we are looking at one another, our only goal should be to make the other feel loved, to feel Love. Without love, truth is a hard pill to swallow rather than a window to freedom and completion. Without love, the rest will never come.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. ~ Maya Angelou

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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Sunday Shorts: These 40 Days

Ready for church, mama!
How very grown up is this girl getting?! It's What She Wore Sunday here as I link up with Fine Linen & Purple. I threw on jeans and a light sweater and ran out of the house after an early morning altercation with a boy and his vomit. Once again, my day consists of laundering bedding. Oh, summer with the clothesline outside, where art thou?!? 

The girl went to Mass with daddy and wore a thrifted sweater dress, Costco tights and Payless shoes. Her bag was a present and is filled with emergency diaper/wipes, her Magnifikid, and her Holy Baby doll. Her blue rope rosary she insisted had to go in her pocket. She was ready!

---------- ***----------

While I might have run out the door with clothes haphazardly thrown on today, I was struck in a new way by the familiar reading of Jesus' temptation and how it parallels our Lenten journey.

Man does not live by bread alone
But by the Word of God.

Deny ourselves something of the flesh to depend more on the things of the Spirit.

You shall not put God to the test.

Grow in trust.

Worship only the Lord your God.

Put away all things that threaten to dethrone God as the center of our lives and true North of our compass.

Also, I can't remember now if I've posted this before, but friends, the devil uses God's Word to try to tempt Jesus. . .WHO IS THE WORD OF GOD! He tries to use Jesus against Himself! That takes that old 'we are our worst enemy' to a whole new level. It also reminds me how necessary it is to know the whole of Scripture so the father of lies can't fool us with what sounds like it might be God's word. 

I also recently found this prayer for after communion and do so love it. That Tom Aquinas is a pretty okay guy.

Grant me, O Lord my God,

a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.

---------- *** ----------

Li'l G's Lenten Link today is a Saints for Sundays link. The first saint we will be learning more about is St. Elizabeth of Hungary. You can get to know her better here. (I know, it's Wiki, but I found this to be the most comprehensive look at her life and associated miracles.)

The two things we are focusing on about St. Elizabeth of Hungary both stem from her generosity to the poor. The first was her dedication to spinning wool to make clothing for the poor. Our activity is to make yarn clothing for some stick people. 

The villagers are naked!!

Thank goodness St. Elizabeth spun some wool into felt
so we could make tunics for them!

The next is a reported miracle whereby St. Elizabeth was leaving to take food to the poor, but upon being stopped on her way out, the basket was miraculously transformed into roses so no one at the palace would be the wiser. Hat tip to Maria for the idea for this activity - a rotating basket transforming food to flowers and back to food!

Whew! I'm spent! Time for more laundry. . .

Happy Sunday from our Casa to yours!

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Friday, March 7, 2014

SQT: Heat Waves, Miracles, Economics of Praise & Vying for Health


It's so warm, even Mr. Snowy has lost his head!

Why, no, I don't have the slightest idea where Li'l G might get her flair for the over-dramatic. No idea at all.

It's a miracle (allegedly)! And I "KNOW" them! Ok, so by "know," I mean I read Bonnie's blog and occasionally leave comments. So I e-know them from a distance. No Bette Midler necessary here. Read all about the confirmed (alleged) miracle for the cause of Bishop Fulton Sheen's cause for canonization at Bonnie's blog, A Knotted Life. What great news, Bonnie, and yay Fulton! Allegedly, I am excited for you.

The political science nerd came out in me whilst I was belting away to some praise & worship on the way to work. Mighty to Save was on the radio, and I was singing my heart out. Everyone needs compassion, a love that's never failing, let mercy fall on me...Everyone needs forgiveness, the kindness of a Savior...and then it happened...the wealth of nations.... Hello, Adam Smith. You've now been implanted into some Hillsong United, who means for us to sing about a hope of nations, not wealth of nations. Quite sorry, old chap. Back to the bookshelves with you. Sorry, Jesus.

Lent is here! Somehow it doesn't feel like Lent - maybe because it is March. The itching redness of my hands after dinner as I stay away from my phone is beginning to make it seem a little bit more Lent-ish each day, don't you worry! We've been doing the Lenten Links with Gianna - she doesn't quite get the "giving away" of things yet (and daddy isn't fully on board as he thinks she will hate Lent if we give things away), but she is so sweet when she prays. Hopefully once we get in the habit of doing them every night, she will get the hang of the prayer, giving and acts of kindness. Since she is only three, I subbed in "kindness" for "fasting."

They are color coded and there is a link for each day from Ash Wednesday through Easter Vigil. The dark purple/blue links are Acts of Kindness she can do, the lighter purples are Prayer Intentions, the grey/brown links are Gifts of Giving, and the yellow ones are Saints for Sundays. This was a last minute idea that popped up when Mary (from Let Love Be Sincere) asked what people were doing to make Lent a reality for younger kids. Her kids are the same age as ours and younger, and someone suggested a link countdown. Since we are focusing on different ways to Fast, Pray and Give as a family, I wanted to incorporate that into the links. Voila!

I love it so much we may make one for the 50 Days of Easter too!

This duvet has now been properly broken in...

Speaking of my sweet little girl, we had a rooough night last night. I think perhaps our little schnoodle had a bit of food poisoning as she yakked up all of dinner and then whatever she could muster up for five hours between midnight and five in the morning. It is so hard to watch them suffer, and yet while I prayed to take on her sickness, I was also so very amazed at how much she has grown up. The last time she was sick, there was no way we'd have gotten her to puke in a toilet or bucket. This time, after we got past the initial shocking expulsions, she did so well. Don't get me wrong - the smell of vomit doesn't leave you once it infiltrates your nasal passages, so even after a good scrubbing shower, I still think I smell it, but she did so well containing it over those five hours. Your heart just breaks watching it all, and praying for relief that comes not soon enough. She is better today so far, but we'll be keeping an eye on it to be sure it isn't more than a slight case of bad pudding. Prayers are always welcome!

Instead of giving up Facebook for Lent, as I mentioned, I have given up all apps and such between dinner and the kids' bedtimes. It's great when I'm home, but when I work a full day, whooheee is that hard! That's not really the point of this quick take, though. I also decided I wanted to be more intentional if I was going to remain on social media through Lent to do a better job of putting out there thoughts and invitations for people to see how God relates to their lives, their struggles, their heartaches, their whole identities. I want to stay away from just a quote here and there, but convey how much God wants to be in relationship with us, how that invitation is always open, and the joy that comes from that. I want to change people's perspectives away from the lies the world and the devil tell us and back onto the truth of what God says about us, His promises for us, and His love for us. For instance, one big theme for me has been those secret whispers of negativity that run through my head all.the.time. I have to learn that failure is not a four letter word (I think there is a future post brewing there), and even less so when it is completely fabricated.

In keeping with the spirit of #6, I just loved this Humans of New York post so much I had to share it. I spend a lot of time thinking "oh, I wanna be HER when I grow up!" when I see a woman whose qualities I would like to emulate. But as Princess Poppyseed and Vanna Banana found out, God made us each to be ourselves. Benny's a pretty wise little man.

(And here's another Human of New York just because I really liked it too.)

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

And...if you've got a few prayers to spare, would you offer some up for little Ben's family as he waits on his miracle? Perhaps dear Bishop Fulton has a few more miracles to spare...

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Thursday, March 6, 2014

FAST / PRAY / GIVE: Negative Self-Talk

I posted a link to a guide of 20 Things to Give Up for Lent written by a Lutheran pastor (Phil) on my Facebook page this week, and it seems to have struck a chord with quite a few of my friends. It is, of course, one in a large group of pre-Lenten posts about how we might best fast. I found his reflection's unique angle to be different from the rest and deeply convicting for me in my spiritual journey (not to discount the other lists in the slightest). I encourage you to read his thoughts on habits we should give up for Lent (and beyond) - things like gossip, fear, guilt, feeling of unworthiness, self-pity, worry...any of this sounding like something you need to let go of, or is it just me? Really - read it.

So convicting was his reflection combined with a new devotional I have been reading (Renee Swope's A Confident Heart), that I caught myself mid-thought the other day realizing how much I berate myself in my head. While I am the first to admit I am not perfect, that I make mistakes, in my head the conversation sounds much different. It sounds more like, "I am such an idiot," or "no wonder I'm such a failure." 

Those are not holy whispers. Those are the words of the devil. Black and white, plain and simple, they are not of God. When I say those things, what I really mean is "man, I made a mistake!" or "I have to be more careful if I want to improve," but that neither makes me an idiot or a failure. I am a daughter of God, a co-heir with Christ, fearfully and wonderfully made. Why is it so easy to forget that...or fear it? 

The same holds true with my children. I would never call my son or daughter an idiot or a failure, though they make mistakes pretty regularly. While I might secretly think those things about a stranger, I would also never verbalize them because somehow I know that is not acceptable, not even in my head and definitely not out loud. Somehow those same standards do not translate to self-talk. We are, after all, our own worst critics.

While I was having that conversation in my head, I made a resolution. I know that the whispers will return - it is how the devil tries to bury me. I know this. So, when they come, I need to look deeper. When I say to myself "I'm such an idiot," what am I really saying? Did I make a mistake? Did I not know something I should? Did I forget to do something? Those actions can be rectified and are not nearly as damaging as branding myself with negative monikers. 

If you find yourself having a similar struggle, perhaps you will join me in this challenge. Let's take these 40 days ahead to create new habits and find a new voice. FAST from negative self-talk. When the moment hits you, PRAY that God's truth about you will fill your heart, mind and spirit. GIVE yourself permission to make mistakes as someone fearfully and wonderfully made. GIVE others permission to do the same.

Here's to knocking the devil off his perch and remembering the truth of the whole of God's Word and His promises. May God's truth about who we are, who He created us to be, resound deeply in your soul, and in mine, always.

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