Saturday, December 31, 2011

Studio Update

Some friends have asked how my studio is coming along.

If memory serves me, the room was vacated in late September, early October at latest; it took me a month to get the money to bring in the sheetrock and finishers.

Then my Worker and I painted it.

Then this past month has been too busy for my free labor to get in there.

This week saw some constructive activity going off in that room.

I am happy to announce that we now have a door...
...and a theme.
{Garden picture painted by Chelsea as a Christmas gift to me}

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Be Content or Desire to Be Better than Everyone Else?

There is a short "This is My Life..." segment that comes on the Disney channel. It's what I call a "push-up" for kids to get them motivated and energized and motivated. Three worthy points.

Point taken.

Yet this segment irritates the spirituality right out of me.

It's about this girl Olivia Holt who does gymnastics.

Just so no one misinterprets what I'm getting at here, Olivia is a beautiful young lady and her sport is a wonderful activity and I'm sure she's very good at it and equally kind to all her friends and those she meets in her sport. She looks like a lovely young girl. Bravo to her! not to disspel any of Olivia's strong points, assets, or work ethic. They (she) is to be admired.

But the message that hits me everytime this segment appears (which I hate to admit that our television is rewound too often during this holiday season)  is the part that lauds, "She can come into the gym and everybody surrounds her."

What is this saying to our daughters on the other side of the screen?

I'm sure Disney's good intentions would be:
  • get athletic and you'll be Olivia
  • do gymnastics and stay in shape and you'll be Olivia
  • workout 40 hours a week and you'll look Olivia
What saddens me is that Olivia is the only teen being recognized despite being on a team of many incredible teens. She is part of a team and she even lauds this team within her interview.

Drew Brees does the same. He applauds the whole team. He lifts it up. He's good that way.

As great as Drew Brees is, he does not make a whole team (and he knows it). The media is an extremely visual entity though and seldom listens to his generous words. As I was writing this (a die-hard Saints fan and life-long Louisiana resident during Monday night football, no less) Drew Brees broke the NFL single-season passing record. The Saints football team, which has been around since before Drew Brees was born (Saints 1967/Brees 1979, to be exact), has since become Bree's football team (as far as the media is concerned).

Of course, it isn't Drew's fault. The media is bad about tackling one specific "team" member and giving them so much credit that the rest of the team is made invisible.

I have never admired one-man teams. I do not believe in allowing a team player to be a spokesman for the rest of the team. They are equals and need a voice which speaks as a team voice. I am not a fan of MVP awards or other soul-entity awards. I know; I'm lame. And let's just ignore the times my children received an award and I cheered with Momma-pride because they have and I did. ;-)

I have been in the bleacher stands and seen another child get a coveted position or award without the proper entitlement to it. When you focus on an individual over a team, you begin to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Sports teaches injustice as well as justice. There are lots of life lessons going on within sports.

This is just my personal rambling and I could be totally wrong. I beg someone to set me straight if I am.

My reasoning is that there are always others on the team who have served the team well. One player does not a team make. They might not have had as prestitious position as quarterback but they might have been the best in the position they were given and without them the team would have suffered. They might have had a better attitude or been more punctual than others. But, for whatever reason, these things don't seem to matter when it's time to handout the laurels.

I know life is not fair but can't help but believe there has got to be a balance.

Through the years my sons have played sports I have noticed that you are not cool if you don't holler loudly, applaud widely, and have a bigger-than-life personality. People really do admire big personalities and in sports it is about tooting your own horn. The loudest wheel truly does get the attention. I think that's the world at large. Anyone who disagrees has evidently overlooked the injustice that can, and does, happen on the ball field.

 I say this as a mother whose sons are retiring from playing sports. My youngest son has hung up his soccer cleats. They are still eager and willing to play on a field with their friends and cannot wait to watch the Saints win the Super Bowl again. Sport will always play a big part of their lives and it was a huge part of their growing up years.

True, our children need good role models to follow during those impressionable growing years. Those role models should start at home. When they don't, sport personalities can foster good qualities and character but glorifying one man on a team leaves too much room for disappointment.

Valuing a team over one person is better for those reason.

I admire the players who are secure enough in their own shoes to play the game to the best of their abilities and pat the media's favorite on the back at the same time.  That's a true team player...knowing that we all matter, each and everyone of us.

While I believe it is worthy (and even necessary) to hold good examples for our children to look up to, I think that telling children that when someone walks into a room the other children surround her borders somewhat on the point of obsession.

We should never place someone that high on a pedastal. Too high up makes one heady. Too much risk of falling. Not to mention it gets lonely up there. At least that's what they say.

As Christians we are taught and told that we are individually priceless, a pearl of great price, worthy of Christ's death on a cross.

The media is destroying this truth.

The media is telling our children they can do it and they are valuable and they are special if...

...if they buy the product produced by the company who is sending out this message.

Too much of a good thing and all, ya know.

It is right and good to lift others up. In lighting someone else's candle it in no way diminishes our light. It only adds to the overall glow of what should be God's glory. Tebow has this one figured out.

We are letting the media set the standard, the qualities, and the stats for what makes us the best of the best.

Must we really be the best of the best?

Perhaps I'm missing something here.

But when Disney tells us that we're someone special when a whole room of people come and gather around us, the younger generation spends day after day walking into rooms and feeling they are not worthy enough. They learn early that you're supposed to desire to be better than everyone else; being content with who God made you to be simply isn't good enough.

They are never happy to simply be.

So I guess I really don't know. I still find it sad.

Thomas Merton said no man is an island and I tend to think an island would be very lonely with no one to share the coconuts with.

"Use what talents you possess. The woods would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best."

- Henry Van Dyke

(HT to Kim Fry for offering the appropriate quote that explains my long-winded version)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Holy Hush

The greeting "Happy Holidays" doesn't offend me in the least. It is another way of saying "Happy Holy Days". I think it is a beautiful phrase.

In the same way, the decorations and parties and merriment during Advent don't offend me either. People love merriment and people will do what people will do. Rather than get offended by the secular observance, I often find myself tainted by expectations of fellow Christians.

We're preparing for the birth of a precious baby and when you're preparing to meet someone you love and whom you look forward to seeing, you naturally prepare in earnest. You shop, you cook, you clean, and you set up a special spot for your guest.

It's what we do! It's what we're all doing. I know it's commercialized and materialized but that need not taint my Christmas reality.

My Catholic identify knows that Advent is a time given to penance and meditation and preparation. We are told it is a time of stillness but really it isn't. That's the ideal and in a perfect world we would all reach Christmas day knowing what the shepherds knew.

The truth, in this less than perfect world, is that the shepherds were only a few chosen men. The rest of the world lay in silence. They didn't know what was present upon the horizon and neither do we.

Arriving at our churches on Christmas Day with the knowledge of the shepherds does not mean we arrive at the stable ill-tempered and irritated with the world around us. The veil of night has not parted for them. They are in darkness, the truth not revealed yet but this does not mean it won't be revealed.

The meditation and observance of our Savior is our vigil. It is not something we can force upon others. something we can and should do during Advent for Christmas is a gift.

But back to the rest of the world asleep that December eve...

We know that some of the world is still in silence through the night. We would do better to approach Christmas with this knowledge firmly in hand rather than engage in high expectation from those around us.

Some of those shoppers we pass in the store don't know nor care who they're preparing to meet in the cavity of their heart and the sanctuary of their soul but they replicate, in part, what we are trying to do spiritually.

And it is all done in Love which is where the Spirit works best.

They are preparing to welcome those they love. The baking of goodies, the cleaning and beautifying of home and hearth, the earnest shopping sprees, and all the other hustle and flow are part of a massive preparation to rejoice in those we Love. Hopefully they find Christ in this Spirit of Love and, when the stores close and everyone goes home, they feel a Sense of Peace which I know Christ desires to give them.

It's a holy hush.

I mentioned these thoughts briefly in There's a New Color Around:

"It's a penitential time of year but it's also a waiting, a holding, a reverent moment in time, a preparation. Rather than preparing for a death and an open tomb, we are preparing for the birth of a baby.

"It's a pregnant pause.
"Some in the church would say Advent, as a pregnant pause, should not have so much hustle and bustle and there is no room for frantic pacing. Any one is has been pregnant remembers the month before the birth compared to the month following the birth. They know what a pregnant pause entails.
"When we prepare for a baby during that pregnant pause we cook and freeze dinners, we select birth announcements, we make sure the camera battery is working, we decorate the nursery and people give us gifts. It's a blissful, happy time of life.
"There are pauses of meditation and wonderment. There are moments of quiet reflection. It's a hustle-y, bustle-y, frantic season of life.
"Our culture is what it is. We can work to make it holy. Preparation is not holy hush and quiet reflection. Preparation calls for action and service. There is lots of merriment and rejoicing during this holy season of Advent. I think it's good and holy. It's the rejocing of the upcoming birth.
"After the birth comes the holy hush and quiet reverence over new creation and the fullness of God made man."

* * * * *

While, as a Christian,  I understand the Christian-cry that trumpets the Christmas season, I personally breathe relief as the secular Christmas is taken down from the store shelves and city streets. The rest of the world goes back into its fitful slumber and I am left alone with Mary to contemplate what this birth means to me and my household. My home's own decorations will be placed in heavenly peace sometime this week or next. The only thing I leave in place until after the Feast of the Epiphany is the Nativity. Afterall, the wise men haven't arrived yet.

It isn't that I don't love this time of preparation. I really do love the Advent season and all the rich, rewarding feast days found within it but, after a month of it, I'm ready to let go of the material items and reality and focus on on the ideal. Maybe it's my melancholic side that is more pronounced after sugar-highs and feasting and parties but I truly need this quiet time for contemplation.

I need this holy hush.

I relate well to this Bittersweet post. No matter how good the day, the festivities, the rejoicing, and the many loved ones; I am often left feeling void and somewhat deflated on Christmas night...much like a pregnant woman after giving birth.

There are many reasons for many that another post would gush forth if I attempted to name them all.

The holy hush gifts me with no more expectations heaped upon me, no more ideals outside the reality of stable and lifetime of service, and no more celebrating but that which comes from within my own heart. I am thankful for the holy hush that follows. I actually look forward to this holy hush.

I am thankful to see Christmas given back its dignity this week. Honestly, the next 12 days are more worthy of Christian contemplation than the Advent season. I am thankful for this season more so than Advent. I am thankful to be able to say "Shhhh...a baby has been born...let me just sit here and adore Him."

I rather love the holy hush.

The time of penance and waiting is over.

The time to sit in thankful silence and listen to the holy hush is upon us.

May you all rest in His peace during this holy season.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas Cakes to My Friends (with Recipe)

My husband often brings home recipes for me to test-prep.
The other day he brought a can of pineapple slices to work to snack on and came home with this mini-recipe which sounded so easy and sweet I decided to give it a try this Christmas Eve morning.

Really glad I did...especially after the avalanche of chocolate from yesterday's baking.

It has a nice Christmas-y touch and the mini-size gives each person his/her own Christmas cake.

I call them Petite Jeweled Cakes but they are basically Mini Pineapple Upside-Down Cupcakes.

The two cautions I pass on are to make sure the pineapple slices are drained thoroughly (but save the juice) and that if you fill muffin tins with too much cake batter they won't look as nice but creates enough rejects for the family to sample while the best ones go on a nice serving tray for guests. Better to go less on the cake batter than overfill.


2 (20 oz.) cans pineapple slices
1/3 cup magarine, melted
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
9 marashino cherries
1 package (18.25 oz) yellow cake mix
  • Drain pineapple juice into bowl to use later.
  •  Melt butter in saucepan and stir in brown sugar until dissolved.
  • Spray muffin pan extremely well with cooking spray.
  • Divide melted butter/brown sugar evenly into sprayed muffin cups.
  •  Lightly press well-drained pineapple slices into melted sugar mixture at bottom of muffin tins.
  • Place a cherry in center of each pineapple slice.
  • Prepare cake mix according the package directions, replacing amount of water with 1 cup of reserved juice.
  • Pour 1/3 (about 2-3 tablespoons full) of cake batter into each cup.
  • Bake at 350 degrees F for about 30 minutes or until tops are browned and toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  • Cool 5-10 minutes.
  • Use knife to loosen and file around edges.
  • Invert onto cookie sheet.

* I did not have a muffin pan so I used my cupcake pan with bottoms smaller than pineapple slices but it sloped them downwards giving them a volcano image which I think is a nice touch. So either pan works.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Baking Messes or Memories?

Still haven't had any fruitcake but I've made lots of batches of rum cake and still have a few more to make.
These "easy-peasy" graham cracker peppermint barks weren't as "easy-peasy" as the picture promised they would be. The graham crackers broke in every angle except horizontal and vertical and the chocolate drizzled outward banishing the glossy fondant image.
These partically dipped butter cookie were much easier-peasier.
Sugar confection covered the stovetop and table like snow in January.
A sweet aura glittered...until time to clean up.
Wet wipes, anyone?
Someone gave us sweet delicious nuggets of praline so I skipped my vow to attempt a batch this year and just enjoyed the gift of it.
My pecan-coconut balls weren't as glossy perfect as my mother made them but that's because I attempted making a batch between five other confections. When will I learn that multi-baking is not a good thing during Christmas time.
They are yummy though.

Pecan-coconut balls fixing to be dipped.
Annual gingerbread house is still unfinished.
Are gingerbread houses ever built without tears, frustration, and collapsed rooftops? Ever?
I now know what I am capable of and what I'm not capable of.

Construction and carpentry are not my strong poinst.
Without holiday guilt I need to leave these beautiful stained-glass replicas to craftier hands and stick to paper product creations like this darling Scratch 'n' Sniff Gingerbread Craft and Gingerbread Lapbook so as not to overstep myself.
I'm grateful for the reminder.
Afterall, our traditions, gift wrapping, baking, decorating, creating memories, and (Yes!) making gingerbread houses is nothing if not done with love. It's the love that's shared through the traditions and the memories that make becomes a lasting extension of ourselves.
Without the love, it becomes just a messy kitchen and I become an over-commited mother.
Lesson learned.
May your kitchens be christened with sugar, anointed with cooking oil, and blessed with loving memories.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

STOP! Look Beyond Your Screen

Right this moment...STOP...and focus on what lies beyond your screen.
STOP! reading the blog post about the daughter who got to star in the Nutcracker ballet. Look at your own daughter and thank God for her talents and capabilities. Everyone has something special they can do.

STOP! reading that blog post about the family who lives on a beautiful cul de sac on a beautiful street in a beautiful town in the beautiful mountains. Look out your door at your own plot of land and breathe in a sigh of thanksgiving that you live where you live. Thanksgiving is in the air you breathe.

STOP! reading that blog post about the mom whose children are always nice and perfectly obedient. Know it is not always so. This life is not perfect.

STOP! reading about the husband who compliments his wife everyday and mops the floor for her. Look at your own spouse and ask yourself what you can do to appreciate him more, how can you make his life happier. We all need to be validated.

STOP! looking at all those Facebook photos of other people's beautifully decorated houses and Christmas trees. Set-up one corner of your house and make it beautiful---as beautiful as you can---and look at it whenever you are tempted to become discouraged. We all need beauty.

STOP! watching those shows on television that glamorize perfect housewives who wear diamond rings and lipstick and stiletto heels. Fuzzy warm socks are better for walking around in, with less chance of tripping over ourselves. ;)

STOP! watching those updates of the woman who has a weekly bousecleaner. Pick up your dust cloth and dust your living room, clean out your kitchen sink, and swish your toilet bowls with a little bleach and brush. You will feel instantly better. Much better.

STOP! savoring the aromas and party foods that beckon you from other blogs. Write a menu based on what your budget can afford, get up from the computer, and go to your kitchen. Salivating over other people's food plans does not feed your stomach nor that of your family.

STOP! dreaming of other people's trips to ski resorts and European vacations. God has you here for now. Here! Here! In this moment in time you are Here! How do you sanctify the place God has placed you? How do you blossom where He has planted you?

I hope none of you find this too harsh or spoiling. Blogs and magazines and Facebook stats come from well-intentioned people, friends, and writers who are happy and hopeful to share and want to bless you. Family and friends are connected now more so than ever. That's a blessing.

Still...there is a threatening risk to live within this screen and become disappointed within our own homes, our own spouses, our own children, our own lives. It happens all the time.

Don't let it happen within your home, within your life.

You only have one life! Don't live it encased in a screen.

When you begin to do this, when you begin to really look at your life with gratefulness and thanksgiving, you will begin to see it in a different light. Then, and only then, will you be able to take your foot off the brake and go back to looking at blog updates and Facebook stats without that knawing worm of discontent. You'll be able to accelerate in life knowing that you are living the life God granted you with real understanding and true gratitude and, because of that, you will be able to smile a whisper of thanksgiving to God for other people's blessings...even when they aren't yours.

STOP! Look beyond your screen and live within the life which God has granted you. It's up to you to make it the best, blessed life you possibly can. Only you can make your life come true.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

24 Rum Cakes and Counting

I don't do fruitcake but I LOVE the story A Christmas Memory by Truman Capote.
I don't eat fruitcake either though I salivate when reading the fruitcake prepping and baking in above said book.
This Christmas Oma and MawMaw finally have a fruitcake partner. My son's fiancee' Adrain claims to love fruitcake, but not just any fruitcake; only the fruitcake her grandmother makes.
So there's the fruitcake...
I got a personal bag of butter toffee which the extra-5 lbs-on my hips enjoyed to the fullest.
Chocolate fudge baffles me in the kitchen but I got lucky enough to eat 10 lbs. worth the last day of co-op. My good friend Monica can puff flour in my kitchen anytime.
So there's butter toffee and chocolate fudge.
I need to try my hand again at my MawMaw's pralines. One year they came out beautifully. The next year was a flop. The next year I didn't even try them. The next year my daughter made an outstanding batch. The following year I tried the microwave version and was thoroughly disillusioned.

Pralines must be made on grandma's gas stove. There are no if, ands, or buts about it.
They must be made on a gas stove, in a light-weight (preferably dented) sauce pan, with a wooden spoon.

I'm going to try again next week.

I also want to make those pecan-coconut, sweet condensed packed balls dipped in chocolate.
Oh, my Heavens! They were my fav as a child and my mother's hand sculpted them so close to perfection that I have teetered on the edge of experimenting with this confection. It takes a leap of faith to try to duplicate what your grandmother and mother used to make.

I'm going to try it next week.
So there's the pralines and pecan balls.

Long ago when we lived south of town I had a good neighbor who made rum cakes for the whole neighborhood at Christmas time. I thought I had died and gone to heaven when she appeared at my door with my loaf.
I was unfamiliar with this sinful cake and my neighbor thought it strange I'd never had a slice.
Afterall, it was an age-old favorite in her family.

When we moved north of town, the annual cake loaf stayed south of town.
That was probably the hardest part of our move, at least a big part. :-(

Then last year, as I was gleaning an old cookbook I picked up on a .50 cent book table, I found within its larder a long lost recipe for rum cake. The chipped pecans layered on the bottom of the pan, the 1/2 cup of rum, and the butter-glaze topping gave me the needed clues that it was the same recipe my neighbor had made.

So last year I made my first loaf to confirm that this was the cake that nipped the bottle.

This year I spent two nights baking and strewing eggs, pudding, and butter across my countertop and stovetop.

My girls helped spray pans and layer pecans on the bottom.
My hens were not able to keep up with the 4 eggs per loaf so a couple of quick trips to the store had to be made.

Here's the recipe if you care to try it.

Your kitchen will smell like rum and your stove will hum a Merry Christmas! :-)


1 pkg. yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1/2 vegetable oil
1/2 cup rum
1 small box (3 3/4 oz.) vanilla pudding
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup pecan chips

Sprinkle pecans in bottom of greased pan. Mix remaining ingredients and pour batter over pecans. Bake at 325 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until done. Remove from oven and pierce holes in cake with fork. Make glaze (recipe below) and pour over top of cake. Do not remove from pan until completely cooled off.


1 stick butter
1/4 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 jigger rum

Boil butter, sugar and water for 1 minute. Remove from heat and add rum. Pour over hot cake.

So there's the rum cake. :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Once Upon a Time, We Were All Perfect Parents

Can I admit say that I smile behind 24 years of parenting when I read the sweet comments that first-time parents stat on Facebook. I smile even at sweeter comments made by second-time parents on Facebook.

Perfect children in a perfect world. Ah, what a perfect world we weave.

During those times "Ummm, Ok..." is pretty much all I can say before walking clicking away and moving on with my life. Afterall, I don't want to totally destroy their notion that they have been blessed with perfect children and "perfect" parenting skills. I mean, it's perfectly ok to believe that...when you're a new parent, that is.

I hate to admit it but, once-upon-a-time, I was also a"perfect" parent. One among many!

That thought makes me smile now, but in a different way.

You know you are a true member of the Perfect Parent Club when you can no longer claim confidence in yourself and your parenting skills but discover confidence, rather, in Christ "...because really, only He can make good out of the mess we sometimes make with our kids."

Thank you, Colleen, for letting us be Ummm, Ok with admitting that we were never as perfect as we thought we were and we are now Ok with not having to live up to that kind of perfection. 

The discovery is a bit more refining. ;-)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

He Sits on a Butter Churn

Yes, our Elf-on-the-Shelf (Jingles, by name) is still flying around with us this December and still finding new places to land each morning.

He was my December birthchild's very special and personal Christmas tradition and though she figured out his secret this past summer she still expects him to fly and holds onto that fanciful childhood notion that he can indeed fly every morning when she comes down the hallway wrapped in her green snowman blanket to  search for the little elf who will one day sit upon her household shelf.

Joyful Pink Candle ~ Christmas Spirit & Fairy Ballerina ~ Amazing Book Giveaway

Ah, today's Advent Wreath bears a pink candle at Mass. A sign of joy and happy expectation and anticipation that Life Comes and We Await!
Then a very Whobalation Celebration in Whoville with little elves, peppermints, candy canes, baby penguins, eskimos, and some very beautiful Who Fairies to welcome you and the Grinch into the true spirit of Christmas.
And a very beautiful presentation of What Child is This? danced around a manger as a reminder that nothing would be anything this month if it weren't for His everything.

And to wrap-up this beautiful Joyful Day, copies of my three books (Catholic Mosaic, Christmas Mosaic, and A Picture Perfect Childhood) will be given away to a lucky reader at Amazing Catechists.

How to win? Simply go to any column at Amazing Catechists and leave an encouraging, helpful, or appreciative comment. We LOVE to hear from our readers. Winners will be announced later today.

~ Happy Gaudete Sunday! ~

Friday, December 2, 2011

In the Spirit of HIS Spirit

I didn't realize how many times we would chant the refrain "And with your Spirit" during Mass on the 1st Sunday of Advent. Each time the sing-song rose, it hung softly in the air and I thought how perfect it was.

It just seemed to fit.

To have that spirit brought back during the Advent season was nice. Very nice.

It breathed a new breath into an ancient liturgy pasted down from generation to generation, from people to people, from century to century.

We people have fallen, we have failed, and we have disappointed God our Creator time and time again but, each day is a renewal, each generation is a renewal, each person is a renewal to get things right with God. His spirit is always with us, always waiting on us on us to get things right, always seeking us to conform and accept His spirit.

As God's people we cannot not keep His spirit within ourselves, not even within our own homes. We have to spread it. We have to share it. It is not a part of us though we all possess a part. We have to offer it to others in order to give it back to God ten-fold?

His spirit does not retract or condense. It expands and spreads. He waits on us. He breathes His spirit on us. He is ever patient with us. He patiently waits for us to answer the call of His spirit.

It is with this spirit that Lisa Mladinich and the other catechists at Amazing Catechists share our words freely throughout the liturgical year. I am blessed to now be included in this wonderful community.

During this Advent Season, we hope to bless even more families with the words He has given us to share. There will be TEN AMAZING DAYS OF ADVENT GIVEAWAYS offered between Dec. 6-Dec. 15 and all you have to do is share your words of encouragement under a column which blesses you.

Part of this sharing includes my three books which are excellent ways to begin sharing His spirit with young children during the new year. Just to leave a comment anywhere on the site and you might get a FREE copy of one of these:

A Picture Perfect Childhood
Catholic Mosaic
Christmas Mosaic

Beginning on the Feast of St. Nicholas, December 6 and lasting through December 15, FREE WORDS OF BLESSING AND SPIRIT will be given away at Amazing Catechists.

You can go here to see the spirit of cheer that is being offered and what you need to do to be blessed by His spirit. Even better, share this spirit with your family and friends and, by doing so, you will help breathe His spirit, expand His spirit, share His spirit, and spread His spirit to others this Advent Season.

It's a very real way of spreading the awesome message of...

"And with your Spirit."

{this 'special' moment}

{this moment: a sweet sweaty soccer squeeze---and a dozen roses---from my graduating soccer player.}

It's been a great game, Garrett. Dad and I have LOVED every moment...and LOVE YOU even more.

{this moment} - A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments at Amanda's for all to find and see.

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