Tuesday, January 31, 2012

When Mondays Need Clarifying

On the heels of Monday, I wrote:

"Mondays are long days for us. It's punctuated by and seems to exist for the sole purpose of co-op classes and setting the rest of our weeks in order. This is rather odd if I think about it because it is our one full day out of the house so it's rather bizarre that the one full day out of the house is the day that defines and lines-up the rest of our week which is spent mainly at home. Something seems slightly off-balanced there."

What seemed odd to me yesterday became so crystal-clear this morning. What seemed off-balanced yesterday seems so balanced today.

If it weren't for hectic Mondays punctuating our days, my family (personally) may never get out of the starting gate towards the rest of the week. I'm serious.

We are a pretty laidback family.

I do not like to be rushed. It stresses me pathetically.

I do not like to be pushed out of my house so if it wasn't for obligations for the betterment of my family we might never actually leave our house.

That's what is good, ironically, about starting our weeks with Mondays outside the home, full-to-overflowing, obligated. These Mondays really do set our week. By Thursday afternoon I see a slowing of our pace. I can slug into the weekend knowing that relaxation and family time are abundantly ours to do and make with them whatever we wish.

I see where most families (especially home educating ones) need Mondays to detox and gain footing in their schooling. My personality is no doubt very different from theres, maybe from yours too? I need the potent expectations of Monday to get my week going, to remind myself that I'm still alive and functioning, to reinforce that we are called to be community and not just individuals, and to (gulp!) gain footing with my children's school work.

I hate to sound pathetically undermotivated but the reality is I'm human and just a little selfish.

Mondays remind me that I am not made to focus on just the people within these walls. Mondays remind me to get up and get going. Mondays remind me that I am called to serve others.

Then Tuesdays comes and I appreciate everything about my life in a more appreiative way because I was forced from my comfort zone, pressed out of my cozy environment, pulled from my pleasure, and pushed to go forward.

God knows our weaknesses and He seeks to stretch us to new heights. Towards Him.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Creative Spaces & Downton Abbey

Mondays are long days for us. It's punctuated by and seems to exist for the sole purpose of co-op classes and setting the rest of our weeks in order. This is rather odd if I think about it because it is our one full day out of the house so it's rather bizarre that the one full day out of the house is the day that defines and lines-up the rest of our week which is spent mainly at home. Something seems slightly off-balanced there.

At any rate, I can pretty much scratch Mondays off my calendar.

Today offered an end to soccer and basketball and a reprieve before softball begins. We were able to head straight home. Our schedule was familiar.  Familiar, that is, for everything but the egg box. This whole winter we've been lucky to get one egg a day in the chicken coop. I've been very disappointed with my lively brood. They didn't quite give me enough for those rum cake pans I made at Christmas time and they have not been paying their weight in chicken feed, that's for sure.

But today I was happy to discover this. Perhaps the days are lengthening?

And so the girls and I did our regular chores:

Check the mailbox.

Feed the cats and the chickens.

Straighten the living room.

Feed the dogs.

Fold the towels.

Unload the dishwasher.

Fix pasta/chicken salad for supper.

THEN...everyone escaped to their personal corners.

Mondays demand that personal corners are visited. We've been socializing, working, talking all day long. The ride home finds our short fuses and ignites them. There's a few irritable tones, a couple of jabs, and voices not musically appropriate at all.

I retreat to my new studio/office/workspace/creative nook/library...not sure what I want to call it but I'm thinking this room was a long time in coming. I'm definitely overdue.

I am flanked by a tall glass of iced tea, my new netbook, my dog, and a laptop across from me that plays my first ever showing of Downton Abbey.

I have wanted to watch this show since the blogsphere began visiting and waving calling cards across cyperpace. I felt like the only one who didn't get an invitation. ;-) Not really, but it feels that way when you can't find it on your television screen every single Sunday as your Facebook Friends neighbors are updating what so-and-so was wearing and the parties they went to and the foods they ate.

Finally, I was given the link to watch Season 2 episodes for free. I tend to be a stickler for starting at square one episode 1 but I made an exception in this case. I waltzed into the middle of the dance and think I will drop trinkets of hints to my family that I'd really enjoy Season 1 at my birthday party come April. ;-)

In my personal corner, while getting acquainted with the characters and reality of Downton Abbey, I am also visiting Dawn's new personal space (her command center, as she calls it). I'm rather curious with the whole set-up process for her office corner since mine is still being tweaked and plumbed and polished. It's fun to have a fun space to have fun in. Know what I mean?

If you don't have one, I highly recommend you look around yourself right this minute and ask what space you could turn into your personal space. The space needn't be big. Dawn's is in a living space with wide windows opening out onto the world.  Mine used to be in my bedroom corner until the books and clutter took over.

Perhaps there's a closet you could turn into a creative nook.
The one thing I am pretty sure we all need in our restful retreat corner is a nice, comfy chair.
So do you have a creative corner and where is it?
And while watching Downton Abbey, which characters should I pay careful attention to?
Who's your favorites? Everyone is still new to me so I'm all eyes. :-)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Pushing Strollers, Pulling Wagons, & Bearing God's Grace Atop our Shoulders

Yesterday massive numbers of pro-lifers made their mark on Washington, D.C. (300,000 was one such figure mentioned).

Living proof that Americans care about Life and the Dignity of Life along with the quality of life. No one is arguing that the quality of life is unimportant but it is in assuring dignity to each person's life that we receive the quality of life we appreciate today.

We stand at risk of loosing this dignity and, thus, this quality.

So 300,000 people marching for life is awesome.

And so is the 100plus who marched in Sulphur, Louisiana.

I wonder, if we tallied the numbers of each individual March for Life throughout our nation, what the numbers would show.

For 20 better years our church and KC Council has put on a Pro-Life March the third Sunday in January. Armed with a letter of approval from City Hall and swat cars to manuever busy intersections, we march.

Our little marching band has experienced just about every type of weather possible on a January day here in SW Louisiana. We have marched in sun, fog, chilling rain, breezy winds, and, as in yesterday's weather, a balmy blanket of mugginess.

Only one year we didn't march. It was January 1997, that January winter an ice storm ripped through our town, downing powerlines, closing restaurants and stores, basically shutting down our whole town. South Louisiana just isn't prepared for such things. As the wind sleeted in that afternoon, fog shuttered thick along the marshland, and rain clawed and scratched against our car windows; we stayed in the hall and recited a united rosary. That night our town sat frozen in the icy grip of January.

It was the only year we didn't march...but our family did conceive a baby. :-)

We've marched for so long even our children don't question it. They've never walked at our state capital in Baton Rouge nor at our nation's capital where I hear the marches bleed together in a living, walking rosary of people and prayers, but they have walked the local march holding onto PawPaw's hand for several years in a row. They've walked with several church parishioners who are gone now but who marched for life while they lived. The children have marched for so long it's as ritualistic as doing the stations of the cross during Lent. Often, if they aren't working, our children are there...even if it is to meet us afterwards at the hall for fellowship gumbo. ;-)

Generally it's 100-130 church parishioners who march the March on a quiet town street here in Sulphur, Louisiana. When it is a local church body on an every day road within your home town, one doesn't feel the excitement and frenzy that I imagine one feels in Washington, D.C.

We might pass a handful of cars, more at the red light below the railroad tracks. We might see teenagers stop their basketball game at the local park and walk to the edge of the concrete with curious stares. We might see a buddy or two on the golf course as we pass. Caps are lifted, hands waved, rosary continued.

In 20plus years we've never had any confrontation or ugliness. Once some men walked from their front porch to the street and asked questioned. Some of our KC members spoke to them. I'm not sure if our little pro-life march made an impact or not. Do we make a difference? Evidently my daughter wonders a bit too.

This year she quietly asked, "Why do we do this?"

It's just a quiet street in SW Louisiana with people who march.

I know she understands the fight for life we are in. She knows babies die everyday because they are unwanted. She understands large families are the canoe floating upstream in an avenue of highpowered speedboats going downstream.

She understands all this so I know exactly what she meant when she asked, "Why do we do this?"

There is no media to document us. There are no speakers to motivate us. There is no steady beat of many feet hitting to pavement to rally us. There is little traffic, no applause, no sirens. Often there is just quiet...and a rosary...and cheerful talking...and silent smiles...and laughter amongst friends.

In the face of a death sentence, we are about Life. There is no doom and gloom on this Sunday walk in January. We're about Life. We talk and laugh while skirting our walk in prayer.

So...the question was why do we?

Because each one of these marchers has looked Roe vs. Wade in the eye and defided it. They've seen it, they've experienced it, they've felt it and they chose to walk away from it and towards something better...in faith. Faith in something bigger than our human weakness. God's grace?

They do not walk blindly or unknowingly. They know what they face.

They are not hyprocrites. They are heros.

There are three families in our church parish whose daughters had babies born with anencephaly. They were all told their babies were going to die anyway. All three mothers chose to give their babies nine months of life. Where other mothers have no grave of remembrance, these mothers have a place to place flowers and thank God for the nine months of mercy they felt within their wombs.

They walk this Sunday in faith.

There is the young mother with endometriosis. She was told she'd never be able to have babies. She pushes a stroller bearing her two babies as she walkes in faith.

There are three couples who could not have their own biological children.  They push strollers, pull wagons, and bear atop their shoulders the joyful yoke of another mother's burden.

They walk in faith that another mother may hear the words of her Savior~"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light" (Matthew 11:30) and, in faith, allow them to help her carry God's grace.

There is the older mother who contemplated aborting her last child who now walks proudly, happily with that child faithfully at her side.

There are the grandparents walking who are now raising their grandchildren because of neglect by the parents, drug addictions, and wrong choices. These grandparents sacrifice the gift of self even when no one notices nor cares. They walk in faith that these very children will carry on a life of faith after they are gone.

There is the family who saw a child with Down Syndrome born, suffer, and die. They know the cost of hospital neonatal and operations and hotel rooms and doctors and needles and death. They know that life cannot be bought for a price.

There are people marching who work in the medical profession. They know just how necessary it is to have healing hands rather than hands of destruction. As Christians, we co-create with God. Our hands are not capable of destruction.

There is a mother walking who has sought relief from depression and anxiety. She has faced a pregnancy in the middle of her illness. She walks with faith that she can help another mother and her baby.

Some walk simply because they know that child #5 is as important, as cherished, and as desirable as child #1.

Some walk because they are grateful their parents had them in their forties. They walk because they are thankful their parents accepted God's decision to expand their household even though a new baby changed their retirement plans. They walk in faith knowing that God's plan is never finished. They walk in faith knowing that with each life God's plan is only beginning.

These are families of faith. Faith that there is a place for everyone on this planet. Faith that, just as there is room for everyone at the KC Hall and plenty of gumbo for all, there is a place for everyone at God's heavenly banquet.

Behind us vehicles carry those too elderly, too lame, or too slow to march. They are still witnesses of faith. We carry them.

There are families walking in our mist who walk for family members who cannot walk due to battles with cancer, Lou Gehrig disease, and other debilitating attacks to the body. They walk because they know how weak the body is. They know the quake of broken bodies, the heaviness of bodies burdened by disease, and the stench of bodies not fit for marching. They walk in faith anyway.

They walk because they have cared for elderly parents and know how hard it is but a vote for euthanasia is not on their ballot.

It is not easy, often it is not easy at all. Often marchers see where they failed and where they weren't as merciful as they could have been. I've seen in in myself. Still, they continue to walk in faith that God is more merciful than we.

In a small town one does not walk to be heard, to make a statement or to get the attention of higher governing powers. It's nice when the mayor of your small town shows up to walk alongside of you.

A Higher Power does sees us. He sees us march in small solidarity and often it is not to prove a point at all. It's a walk in support of one another, reminding neighbor that we (as the body of Christ) have experienced all those scenerios which this anniversary assures us is a means to end a life and yet we, going upstream, choose otherwise, and live to march the march.

The media and government would like to portray prolife walkers as uneducated, uninformed hypocrites. Nothing is further from the truth. People doubt your honesty unless they know you have walked a mile in their shoes. Suffering unites. Suffering also teaches: mercy, compassion, sympathy.

Suffering is probably the greatest teacher of all.

These walkers have walked the walk, lived the life, faced the fear. They are our role models.

I walk this march to see their faith, remember their stories and witness how they accepted God's grace, thus overcoming some of their greatest fears...and ours.

If I were to face any of the difficulties or life situations some of these marchers have faced, I would not look to Obama and his board of ethics for my strength and support. I would look to the people I know, the ones I have witnessed stand strong and true despite the Fall, the ones who walked down the street with me this past Sunday afternoon. 

Death has stared them in the face and they have answered him with faith, life, and dignity.

They walk with assurance as a church body that Death need not be the final answer. They are living proof that Life is always the right answer.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Find Your Vocation in Yourself

"It is very important to realize that our vocation is hidden in where we are and who we are. We are unique human beings, each with a call to realize in life what nobody else can, and to realize it in the concrete context of the here and now.

"We will never find our vocations by trying to figure out whether we are better or worse than others. We are good enough to do what we are called to do. Be yourself!" ~
Henri Nouwen from Bread for the Journey

Thanks to Jean Wise at Healthy Spirituality for the link

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Facing Our Conversations

This quote is fantastic...

"You are a poor listener if you are solely interested in leading every conversation and showing no interest in anything that is said by others; if you are uneasy while others are speaking and are thinking only of what you are going to say when you get a chance; if you belittle the truth or value of what others say by always butting in something more significant, always topping their stories with something better; if you interrupt others in order that you may speak and reveal your pride and self-love; or if you are unable to keep silence while others are managing to keep a conversation alive. It is uncharitable to ignore certain of one's companions during a conversation. This is done when, in a small group, two of the group launch out into a personal conversation whose subject matter and interest completely exclude the other members of the group. This springs from selfishness and a sense of self-importance. ~ Fr. Lawrence Lovasik

Do We Still Homeschool?

I caught myself wondering and asking myself this very question the other day as we are on the horizon of graduating #3 from St. Thomas Aquinas Homeschool.

Truth be told, this graduate's high school year has not been manned by an over-anxious, stressed, obsessed, second-guessing-herself homeschool mother but by different tutors at our local co-op where we gather every Monday for classes with a nosegay of offerings.

Son and Graduate #3 has read and scaled the complete history, mindset, and mystery of Homer:
The Odyssey
The Iliad
The Aeneid
as well as a study of Shakespeare's works in sonnets, comedies, tragedies, and histories,
the great poem Beowulf,
and Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales
(thanks to our good friend Ms. Angela)

He has been tutored diligently in the Maths:
Algebra (maybe even twice ;-)
Algebra 2
(courtesy of our good friend Ms. Monica who not only easied my un-Mathmatical mind but soothed me with the reassurance that a well-grounded understanding of Algebra (even if it is repeated) is the ladder towards all the other advanced maths he might encounter in college.

He has been taught the Sciences:
Biology I
Biology II
(faithfully with all the experiments by our good friend Ms. Stephanie)

He received a tutorial on Dave Ramsey's financial planning and a free writing course in the otherwise expensive I.E.W. class by our good friend Linda.

Many other varieties of lessons and knowledge were compacted into a classroom that didn't stifle him but raised the bar and challenged him. It's one day a week. The rest of the week we are free to live and dream and inspire to be something above and beyond an educational system.

Monday co-op has been a one-day blessing in our home.
Ask my children (well, maybe not the graduate but definitely the younger two ;-).
As far as the graduate, please speak to me. I am the facilitator.
By one's senior year even homeschooling parents are tooting test scores constantly and flagging Kahn Academy reminders to you via text messaging. 
It does get frustrating. The world is frustratig.
It's the nature of the beast.

Graduate #3's sisters are getting a more expanded version of what #3 got. It promises to be a rich and rewarding experience. We are ever grateful.

So where does this leave our "home" learning if the children are answering to teachers and a weekly co-op is setting the rhythm for the rest of our week?

Are we home? Are we still homeschooling?


Co-op has set a beautiful rhythm to our homeschool days: an inspiring one, an accountable one, a heightening one, a freeing one.

There are no regrets.

With the dead-weights of education being taken care of by "experts" in the field, I am able to embrace the unschooling, Charlotte Mason enarmored, laissez faire, gypsy style that some educated folks scoff at but without it the very life and breathe of me as a mother would be snuffed out. My spirit would ebb into total defeat.

 I agree that accountability and preparation and consistency are roots for good workmanship and citizenry. We all need the balance.

Co-op provides a balance that strengthens the weak side of being me.
I need my friends. My children need my friends.
Have I mentioned how blessed we are to have them?
It's a treasure to our family of seven that we have family and friends who give us this balance.
Our children and our home life is well-grounded and well-rounded because of the consistency of family and friends.

Was everyone so blessed! 

Beyond co-op, upon entering my house you will find...

Books with secret baking recipes stapled in the very back. They are the frosting on the floor of our new office. Some little person has been blitzing through the study nightly, morningly, and daily to finger through the newly cased bookshelves in search of FIAR favorites, childhood favorites, and cooking favorites.

The evidence is underfood.

 ...along with a sampling of Robert Frost in...

and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poetic gallop in...

At co-op she's taking classes in American History, a sign language class, Spanish, and Abeka's Science for 4th grade. We're focused on multiplication this year at home. And writing. Lots of writing: stories, letters, songs, etc.

We're enjoying the boundless possibilities of our new workroom.
We've always schooled around the house and had to clean-up/tidy-up after ourselves...or leave a mess behind.

It's nice to have a room where the newness and order are so great that we all seek to leave good work, self-imposed neatness, and intentional productivity behind us.
Diligent watchdogs oversee tabletime with lessons in math, english, research, and science...either co-op assignments or lesson books from Seton, CHC, or MODG recommendation.

This has been a given since we began homeschooling 14 years ago with my oldest. Morning tabletime is to our home education what butter and molasses is to morning pancakes and/or waffles. I may not teach well but I am consistent.
The kitchen is afluff with pie dough and sticky sweet custard.
A lesson in Home Ec 101 teaches one that a coconut pie can be salvaged by pouring liquid custard back into saucepan, adding flour, extract, and sugar and supervising careful stirring.

It also teaches one how to make a meringue...and that you never add sugar until after whites stiffen.

It also teaches that a child can make an excellent pie crust her first time around without any supervision from Momma whatsoever! That's right. My child made a pie crust totally unsupervised or unprompted. And it was nicely fluted, trimmed and delicious on top of that. That was definitely a proud-Momma moment. :-)

Accomplishment! And continuing to try without a system telling you that you're failing.
That's really a huge part of homeschooling.
Paper towels rolls are like boxes.
Best toys ever!

Sparks of creativity and imagination are more valuable (so claims Einstein) than any book learning in the world.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited to all we now know and understand, while imagination embraces the entire world, and all there ever will be to know and understand.” ~ Albert Einstein

Home education assures that our children are not boxed into a classroom or a preconceived idea of someone else's version of what knowledge is. It is up to the parents to offer a steady diet of ideas and opportunities for him to expand his sights and imagination.

Technology is good.
Your own imagination and unlimited potential is better.

Speaking of which...
The rest of the afternoon my 14-year-old daughter found an unlimited supply of creative powers, festive imagination, wonderful opportunities, and bountiful interest in something technologically fun...

Forget that I lectured her on laundry and hanging up phones.
I consider pre-algebra, Latin, baking, and an unlimited resource of inspiration at Pinterest to make for a good day.

And now we are off to dance lessons.

Tomorrow promises a drum lesson and a performance of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing done by a group of talented children, the core group which I was privileged to teach learn from many moons ago. It began as a co-op experience.

They needed a warm body to teach facilitate a literature class. I got the call. I was there to teach. They wanted to put on a play. Since I don''t teach well, I was more than happy to let the children take over the class.
They've done quite a few performances since.
Quite a few...
These performances include not only the performances but the scripts, the props, the music, the costumes, and (even) the programs.
And though I can take no credit, (that completely goes to many supportive parents who do endless driving, endless feeding, endless encouragement, and endless backstage running and executing), I do somewhat feel like a mother hen...puffed with pride. :-)

It's a small area of the homeschooling body that bleeds excellence and proves that Albert Einstein was right. Our imaginations are what raises the bar towards excellence. Not some test scores.

Allowing our children this freedom, which homeschooling allows completely and thoroughly, if done with the child and hiigh ideals in mind, taught me what children will do when trusted, facilitated, encouraged, then turned loose with their ideals and youthful exuberance.

This is why we still homeschooling?


Monday, January 9, 2012

My-Nearly-Absent, Very Wet Daybook

This is my own Cajun Cottage version of the Simple Woman's Daybook. It's been sadly void and silent of late but today's rainy day gave me the time-of-day in which to write another daybook.
Outside my Window...Rain...a hefty amount of rain...and 75-80 degrees
I am thinking ...it's January...why is it 75-80 degrees outside.
Also hoping our winter gets cold enough to immobilize all the mosquito eggs in the ground.
Also hoping our winter gets cold enough to chill the waters of the Gulf enough to stave off any summertime hurricane activity.

Also considering how it was 3 children who moved out of this house a few month ago, but, if they were ever to move back, it would be 3 adults moving back in. Is that even possible? Not sure. Not sure at all.

I am thankful for...
a daughter who always texts to see if I need anything from the store on her way home. Pluses to having adult children who drive and live next door. ;-)
From the schoolroom...
We began our homeschooling journey in 1997. We have schooled all over the house.
I've been writing my whole life. Often in bed or on the couch.
I was asked to serve my church's religious education program in 2010 and was a catechist for 5 years before that. My paperwork has dittoed tables and counter tops for years.
We've never had a school room. I've never had an office, though I've had an office corner.
{work counter with two work stations for the girls---overhead shelving to be installed soon}
Today I focused on setting-up our new office/studio...and though it was gifted to me by my husband and children...I am hesitant to claim it mine. I love life with my children. No part of this house is mine alone. We share all the rooms because without them this would not be home.
Funny, or not, I catch myself already planning house renovations, additions, and designs around future visits from my grandchildren. How's that for being obsessed with family living. :-)
The office is coming together nicely. It's almost there...and almost not. Still have lots of little things I need to get for it and do in it.
But, for today, I'm very happy. :-)
{Chelsea discovered Meme's nursing school typewriter and gave it the place of recognition}
I am quoting...my daughter:
"I never realized that being creative could have so many rules."
(after I listed to her all the haves and have-nots in our new studio/office...a topic which deserves its own post)
{Art corner and Reading corner...possibly future table spot for my future grandchildren...you know, the cute miniature tables preciously made for play-doh, coloring books, magnets, puzzles, etc.}
From the kitchen...Friends came over at lunch and helped us finished off last night's gumbo.
Pizza and LSU football game tonight
I am wearing...
Couple-of-Baseball-Seasons-Old *My Daughter is a Sweet Heart* T-shirt, blue jeans, and bare feet
I am creating...a studio...a neat and tidy studio...which is kinda funny...since 6 months from now it will be anything...but neat and tidy...as experience has taught me.
 But, for now, the moment is nice and invigorating.
I am going...in this rain? Nowhere!
Even giving up an a LSU football party invitation from some of the best of friends in favor of staying home tonight. I know. I'm a total bore.
I am reading...today was anything on organizing and simplifying such as...
Using What We Have by Catherine Pond
Time to Simplify...Again by Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur
Trapped Financially? Jesus Can Redeem Your Budget Too by Kelly Hancock
How to Tackle Your Clutter by Leo Babauta
And anxiously awaiting Lesley Austin's focus on wild simplicity and deep domesticity
"There will be plenty of inspiration-visual and written, but with an focus on the actual doing of what it takes to make our domestic lives more harmonious...woven in and amongst all the seasonal, cosy, literary beauty."
And though I had no idea it was National Clean Off Your Desk Day...I guess you can say I observed it pretty well.
I am hoping...for peace.
I am hearing...Rain...fast, furious, steady rain.
I am praying...for job situations aplenty...so many families hurting in this economy.
2 pregnant friends and 2 pregnant nieces...all 4 due this March!
Observing the Liturgical Calendar...enjoying some quiet *ordinary* time between Liturgical seasons...praying and contemplating the need for a new word for a new year...focusing on my generated saint for 2012: St. John the Baptist
Around the house...
Studio set-up in progress.
Decluttering the hallways
Dejunking the bedroom
Sitting room being converted from a mudroom back into its intended usage.
One of my favorite things... rainy days with no wheres to go and nothing to do but make home a haven.
This is my true calling and today was nothing less than a gift from God.
A few plans for the rest of the week...
Tuesday: Office work then Girl's Club where we'll learn first aid and make pan pizza/dance
Wednesday: CCD day
Thursday: Orthodontist/
Offering humble words to Ladies' Ultreya group/ Dance
Friday: Decorate for Winter Formal
Saturday: Snowflakes on the Bayou Winter Formal for Chelsea
Shooting Sports for Annie
Here is picture thought I am sharing...
{Sneak peek of my new writing nook and a new writing tool...NetBook on docking station...compliments of my sweet husband and children. They have a lot of faith in me.}

A Religion Born of Dreams

"A religion born of dreams: the angel Gabriel who appeared to Mary, the dream of the wise men in which they are warned to return home by another route, the dream of Joseph, as soon as they depart.

"The dream of every human heart to love and be loved; not to die alone.
'The star was seen by everyone but not everyone understood its meaning,' notes Cromatius of Aquileia.
 "The Epiphany. The star that sheds just enough light so that we can take one more step, and then we must look to the star again.

"So like our lives that we, too, live in exile and fear, but also in hope.

~ Heather King ~
(Taken from January 2012 Magnificat)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Furthering God's Cause

"Life is not all about us. We are called to glorify and enjoy God and to further His cause by serving others for their eternal good with what God has given us - passionately, without reservation, no matter the cost to ourselves." - Jane Roach

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Often @ 10 O'Clock @ Night

I sit and read Ann's graceful words and think about her words:

If it matters, you make the time.
If it doesn’t, you make excuses.

The music soothes.

I think of my excuses.

What matters to me doesn't have to be thought over much. My family and faith. It's simple that way.

Blessfully simple.

The Christmas tree is tattered and ragged in a corner of the living room. A new kitten finds its home in the branches. It sways.

The Worker lays at my feet playing ball with my son's dog whom we babysit while he's at work. Something about separation anxiety the animal shelter tells us.

A tousled head snuggles against my arm and a still sweet childhood voice interrupts Ann's graceful words and soothing music.

"Mommy, how do you spell tooth?" (I patiently answer her.)

"Mommy, this isn't a canoe. What is it?"/ Could be a kayak, honey./ "How do you spell that?" (I patiently answer her.)

"Mommy, there's a sun and...what is this?"/ Looks like a calendar. See if that works./ "How do you spell calendar?"/ (I patiently tell her.)

"Mommy, it doesn't work."/ Maybe it's a planner./ "A planner?" (I patiently guide her yet again. We get it wrong. The anwer was sunscreen. She is discouraged. I encourage her to try again.)

"Mommy, I need to know what they're doing here. An action word."/"Looks like they're doing surgery on the poor guy./ "It isn't sergery. I already typed that."/ S-u-r-g-e-r-y./ "Oh, S-U? That's it, Mommy. Thank you!"

She's playing a new Pictionary game on her Nintendo DS. This might be the only chance we get to do spelling this week. I'm glad I was patient.

The dog growls and runs across my feet chasing the ball.

The 10 o'clock news comes on.

It's our living room at 10 o'clock at night.

And I'm thinking about new habits in the middle of constant living that happens every single night in my living room.

How can I put on new habits when I'm too tired to change my own habits much less that of my family's?

Each pat on the arm. Each question. Each interruption. Each voice. Each part of life happening in my living room I embrace even though I cannot focus my thoughts completely on Ann's guidance.

I wonder how Ann and other beautiful writers write so beautifully in the mist of busy, interrupted, full lives. I'm sure their lives are as busy, interrupted, and full as mine. Perhaps even more so.

How do they type with whispered words of wisdom in the middle of a caucus that takes all your time? How do they keep the calm? the peace?

It's God's grace. Has to be. Nothing else can give you that.

"Mommy, look at my nachos. How do you spell nachos? Which picture should I delete so I can save my nachos picture?"

I answer her calmy, tenderly. I try to be the mother I want to be. Not the mother who yawns discouraged selfishness inside.

Blog voices tell me to to turn off the news, shut down the laptops, get out a board game and gather around the table to play an old-fashion game. Invisible entities have high expectations of my family. I don't do well with expectations.

I'm attempting to hear the television announcer talk about the 3-year-old who needs a small intestine transplant when another child's voice cuts into my listening to read off a quote she is reading.

STOP! I tell myself, remind myself.

Another child is bringing out more art supplies and draping them on the living room floor at my feet. This after an earlier-in-the-day, supervised sweep of the living room. Will these disturbances stay underfoot for another week as did the others? Or will I see them for what they are: creative outpourings of my family's life.

10 o'clock at night.

It's our living room at 10 o'clock at night.

I try to be the mother I want to be. Not the mother that yawns discouragement inside.

I take a moment to turn to the beauty of Evlogia, another writer of grace and blessings.

On the Feast of the Holy Innocents I count the blessings beneath my feet.

I notice that it's the expectations of everyone that makes me feel small and ill-equipped.

I know what I have to do and I know what God wants me to do but life keeps happening. Nothing gets finished. Nothing gets done well. Our family portrait is a tangled mess on my side of the tapestry.

It's our living room at 10 o'clock at night.

I'm thankful for the words of two souls who have blessed me tonight. Helped me to be a better mother tonight even when the timeclock cannot be turned backwards.

They are both of different faiths than I.

Another writer, same faith as I, writes about how much it means to her to belong to the One True Church. She is passionate to the point of debating it. She doesn't really argue the point but she enforces it.

I am not one to argue or debate. I am accosted daily at my lukewarmness compared to others' bold zeal. Yet I know a couple of things: Christ was born, died, and rose for me and His love overflows the mess at my feet every night at 10 o'clock. I have peace about that, more peace than what I hear in the words of people who argue and debate faiths. Peace! That is God's grace as well. I know what Church Christ began; for me there is no arguing. Anyone who reads history can discover the One True Church left by Christ.

The Jews rejected Christ and and Christ loved a new Church into being and entrusted it into the hands of His friends, a priestly crew. The Catholic Church remained universal for years and years and years. At one time all Christians were universal. Today we have more in common than not and yet we focus on the Not. Our beliefs were handed down by Christ to the Apostles who knew Him, walked with Him, sat with Him, interrupted Him, and asked endless questions of Him.

How do we possibly think we can interpret the teachings of Christ and His friends who heard him front and center?

Around a fire at 10 o'clock at night.

I think of these two grace-filled writers of different faiths who have graced my life, my parenting, my prayer life. I never doubt my faith; neither do I doubt their love of the same God I serve.

Much is lost in translation as human beings run amuck and as we judge others while sitting in different churches at 10 o'clock on a Sunday morning.

And I can't help but think...really?

Do people really argue these points?

Does God really want us to argue over what the One True Church is? For me the Church begun by Christ is my Church and I'm blessed and thankful for it. At one time we were all Catholic. That's a beautiful thought. Every Christian has roots stemming back to the Catholic Church. We are spread out, diverse, yet rooted. In ecumenical interaction we must remember that others do not believe they have left the One True Church. They certainly believe they follow the One True God.

Without Love this all becomes a pointless question, a needless arguement, a hapless debate.

I think of Mother Teresa.

She answered countless interruptions and thousands of voices while nestling many touseled heads upon her lap, and comforting weak bodies in the homes where her Missionaries of Charity. She lived a life full of earthly messes at her feet. She spoke the truth in love but never argued with (nor asked) these poor souls what Church they belonged to.

With much Love and self-denial, she walked the stench of Calcutta and Loved the world at her feet, Cared for God's creation before her, and Prayed for all souls.

Often at 10 o'clock at night.

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