Monday, July 30, 2012

Today's Peace ~ Tomorrow's Power

People write to me and talk to me and say I am ever the calm one, ever hopeful, ever the optimistic one.

I am not.

I was the hesitant child.

I lived in the shadows of life.

I was always worried, always questioning, always restless.

I was never good enough.

And yet I was.

I am!

I accepted long ago that I was the least of my brethren and, in that knowledge, I've found my peace, my strength, and my voice.

Peace is found in knowing that everything thought, said, and done today has already been thought, said, and done yesterday. Power is in knowing that He chose You and This Moment to speak it so that today's world will hear it.

The Word was here before any of us ever came into existence.

Peace is found in knowing someone will always know more, say things better, write it better, and do it with more eloquence that you will. Power is knowing that He chose You and This Moment to share it so that Today's World will hear it..


Peace is in knowing that you will only think, only say, only do what God wills for you to do today.

Just for Today.

You can go to sleep knowing that you did God's will in what you thought...what you said...what you did. You will know that...for Today...if only for Today...He gave you the Power to proclaim it to the world.

Living in the shadows is a blessing really.

I was once the skeptic, once the doubter, once the cynic.

Peace taught me to hold my tongue, if not my thoughts.

In the beginning there was only darkness.

It still exists. 

It exists bleakly and madly and annoyingly. It gloats, seeking the ruin and destruction of souls. It lurks outside waiting to bounce on us in our weakness and bring us down and tear us apart.

Peace allows us to see the pain, hurt, and brokenness all around and that it is better to lean on the side of acceptance than on the side of correctness. Peace gives us the Power to mend what we know, to comfort where we can, to smile when we can't, and to act wherever we are.

The only way God's light can be brought into a darkened world is through His creation...You and I.

We may still be worrisome, restless, weak, mad, pained, flayed, questioning doubters...God knows our nature. That is why sometimes we are called to Carry a Light rather than be thrust into the Light.

That Light shines it's own Ray of Power. We need only Carry it, not Be it.

It shines on worried madness taking flayed flight on pained wings.

Peace is found in knowing that everything we think, say, and do was willed by The Word that was here before we were. Power is knowing that He chose You and This Moment to offer The Word to the world Today

Today's World might never have heard it had it not been for Your Presence...Today.

Nothing is You. It is all Him. The Word calls us to be More than we are because, in Truth, we are Nothing; but, in the Stillness, He took the Nothing and Created You and Me.

There is the Power. There is the Peace.

{Photography by Chelsea Gibson, chosen from my files and offered in the Light of Today's Moment} 

Monday, July 23, 2012

He Always Was

"Woe to the shepherds who mislead and scatter the flock of my pasture, says the Lord."

"I myself will gather the remnant of my flock from all the lands to which I have driven them and bring them back to their meadow; there they shall increase and multiply. I will appoint shepherds for them who will shepherd them so that they need no longer fear and tremble; and none shall be missing, says the Lord." ~ Book of the Prophet Jeremiah (23:1-6)

* * * * *

Finding peace today in yesterday's Old Testament Reading.
We have nothing to fear.
God is in control.

Many so-said teachers, false prophets, unscrupulous priests, unfaithful fathers have falsely led people away from the Church begun by Christ. But it is not the end and those sheep are not lost.

We pray.
We guide gently, prayerfully, charitably.
We trust that God is in control.
We do the next thing, knowing that we are never in control but He is.
He always was.

Kitchen Table Homeschooling

Gotta love Catholic Heritage Curricula! It was one of the first Catholic homeschool programs a friend introduced me to when I first began researching this growing mindset. They have always helped educating parents to explore and grow. They make things a little easier and graceful for new homeschoolers and stressed out veteran homeschoolers. And they offer so much for free on their website. It's a treasure trove of help and counseling.

Just gotta love 'em!

Today they offered this on their Facebook page and, since I can't find it elsewhere on the internet and I don't want to lose it, I'm copying it here because, despite the office, we do an awful lot of Kitchen Table Homeschooling: 

* * * * *

If you are a multi-tasking mom who feels stretched so thin that it's a wonder you aren't transparent, we invite you to consider kitchen table schooling. Yes, it's true that a separate school room lets you leave the mess behind. However, there are distinct advantages to 'kitchen schooling.' [Or dining room schooling with an unimpeded view from the kitchen.]

--While you are waiting for children to bring work to you, you can be cleaning up after breakfast or starting lunch or dinner.

--If the children are in the kitchen with you, monitoring their activities is a snap.

--Once the one-on-one basic lessons have been explained, most questions about schoolwork can be posed while mom goes about her kitchen tasks.

--Kitchen table schooling eliminates the need to bi-locate.

--Wee ones can be put in a high chair in the kitchen, for fifteen or twenty minutes at a time, to watch mom at work.

One minor disadvantage to kitchen schooling is the need to clear schoolwork from the table for mealtime. However, this problem is readily solved by using 18 inch square, woven wicker drawers in a 'stacked' column-type unit, or a similar stacked basket-drawer storage unit. One drawer is just the right size to contain the school work of one student, and the attractive units can be kept in the kitchen or dining area for easy access and speedy table clearing. [Clear plastic containers can be stacked in a similar fashion.] Each student brings his work to the table from the drawer five minutes before school begins, and returns the work to the drawer five minutes before mealtime.

Wall shelves are another useful addition to kitchen schooling. They take up no floor space, and cloth boxes or woven baskets on the shelves can provide attractive storage for general schooling supplies.

Kitchen table schooling is one strategy to lessen the chaos of multi-tasking. But whether your family educates in a schoolroom, or at the kitchen table, it's good to keep a firm grasp on St. Paul’s admonition: God's 'power is made perfect in weakness…for when I am weak, then I am strong.' [2 Cor. 12: 9-10]

Please share your ideas, whether schooling in a separate room or in the kitchen/dining room!

Go to Catholic Heritage Curriculum Facebook page to follow and add to the conversation.

Heart of Home: Office Prep

For Christmas my husband bought me a Netbook. I had tried his Ipad for bit and, while he loved it, I made the decision from day one that I needed an attached keyboard.

Clicking isn't enough for me, I have to type to express myself.

I thought the Netbook would free me and allow me the ability to tote my words with me. 
Truth is, I'm a focused writer. The atmosphere, the time, the mood have to align with the stars.
Quite possibly that's what makes me a weak writer as well.
Writers who can write on the spur, on the spurt, on a wing and a prayer produce much more and go much further.
Napkins and loose leaf paper and envelope flaps do for me when idea, quotes, and mega sentences threaten to runaway. 
Outside of that, I need the stars to align.

My husband woke-up my snoozing laptop last week. I hadn't been on it hardly since Christmas. 
I was protectively hugging my Netbook and let my Annie have co-ownership of my laptop because her siblings have all bought their own but she has no job thus, no money, to buy one.

Then it went to sleep...for months.

Getting back on it has been an awakening. The largeness of Lap vs. Net steadies me. It harbors me. It stills me. My vision is not as tunneled. It's bigger and broader.

I realized that I didn't necessarily need to tote my words around with me outside of my head.
My head is a good place to keep them at times.

My next reality was my sleeping office.
Ugh! Pitiful! I can't begin to describe how pitifully neglected it was as I tramped about with my Netbook which never actually left the vehicle much less the Netbook sleeve except when I was home, of course.

I am a wife and mother first. I need a focus and a harbor for my writing more than I need a Netbook sleeve.

My husband blessed me with this beautiful little room, silently hammering into the walls his hopes for me, painting the walls with his dreams for me, building his belief in me and my writing.

I wisely did not take a *before* picture. It was pretty bad. 
Pretty bad.

These are the *after* photos.

With the start of school peeping around the corner, I see the reality of two students in college, one in high school, religious education classes beginning, and our homeschool journey continuing.

This is where my fly-by-the-seat of my pants stops and I saw, in reality, a need to gain control of my mind because I really have no control elsewhere around me.
I've gotten very good...very letting things go and finding peace in whatever happens.
Some may say I'm a slacker. 
I'm not. I'm maintaining my sanity. ;-)

The office will not stay neat and tidy.
I know that. My husband knows that. (He's lived with me for over 26 years afterall).

There are other hidden corners of my home that are wastelands of clutter and dust.
But, during the heated months of summer, I focused to harbor on this corner of my world.

It's a hidden corner of my heart. No one sees it much. It's down the hallway and the door is usually kept shut. But it's a tranquil and happy place.
The children find me sitting in that blue chair near the window and they scoot out a desk chair to sit and visit or sit on the floor with a pet or game or at the closet desk doing their own whatever-work.

Sometimes the room is full of bodies and conversation, movement and noise.
This morning it is quiet...just me and the cat.

It's a pleasant place to be and I want the new school/work year to start off with the phrase that
"Hope Springs Ethernal!" because we must have hope in the mist of this insane living.
Always hope!

Life is insane and happening. It's crazy but good.
This little nook is a place where I can attempt to maintain my sanity...

While the rest of my heart runs amuck. ;-)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

I Want that Too...

"Kids are gifted with 18 years of childhood. That's it — less than two decades before the cruel, dark, real word overtakes their bliss. Yes, I want mine to do well in school, and learn the virtues of compassion and empathy and hard work. But I also aspire for them to jump on our trampoline until their legs sag from exhaustion, and ride their bikes up and down the street until someone lets loose a loud whistle, and play tag next door...

"If they wind up at Yale, and they're happy, I'll be thrilled. If they wind up collecting garbage, and they're happy, I'll be thrilled, too"

* * * * *

Friday, July 20, 2012

A Writer's 10%

Excellent post!

Pros and Cons of Social Media Evangelization

"This morning, I heard something neat on the radio. Catholic writer Pat Gohn was discussing her article Tithing On Social Media. Her suggestion was that we give God 10 percent of our status updates or tweets every time we use social media. That’s a great idea, isn’t it?"

* * * * *
I appreciate everything about this article but God's grace had me focusing on the 10%.

Christian writers have a hard time taking money for something we would happily do for free and the guilt that comes with passing the offertory basket.

In the past, I struggled with the guilt over how much to write for the religious market, how much to give away free, and how much to pursue other interest-led writing in areas I love. I read somewhere that religious writers shouldn't necessarily write from a religious perspective but should write so that their writing sheds light in the direction of Truth. Wish I could remember where I read this.

My thoughts go directly towards great writers such as Flannery O'Connor, Tolkien, and Lewis.

The challenge of being a Catholic writer in today's world is finding Truth in all areas of our lives just as we are called to take the Gospel message we hear in Church each Sunday and share it throughout the week in our homes and workplaces. Same scenerio.

As Christians we often forget God only requests 10%. We know He wants all of us. We know He deserves all of us. That 10% quickly blurs into 100% and we fall into guilt if we take any of it for ourselves.

These two authors gave me peace in helping me set a boundary on my writing and to help alleviate the guilt. Since it's true that people place monetary value on things they truly care about and value, I should not be embarrassed to receive monetary amounts on my writing when I truly care about and value the message enough to share it. If I value it, others will value it. We show how much we value things in dollars and cents. We spend money on things we value. Mine would primarily be my children and future grandchild. I delight in giving them things. I delight in seeing them happy. And I expect nothing in return. My husband also delights in giving to his family. He works long hours to be able to give us extra and take us on a last-minute vacation trip. He does it freely yet it costs him his extra sleep, his extra relaxation, his extra free time. He gives that up so he can give to us. Yet him giving up those things are worth something. Humans show that in the physical substance of dollars and cents.

Despite that, what we do share freely in regards to our writing is part of our tithe to God and justifies the balance of writing that we get paid for.

While it's true that God asks for all of us, for us to be His totally, He is a generous God. He only asks for 10%.  I probably give away lots more of my writing than I receive and that's because writers write. We just do.

Still, I have felt guilt at times when I've collected a profit. Perhaps it's a generational thing. Perhaps it's when I look at my life as a whole and see God's gifts and blessings in abundance that I hesitant to collect stipends on my writings.

But, knowing that we place and are willing to spend monetarily on what we value makes me realize there is nothing wrong in charging for our talents. Knowing that God only asks 10% means I am free to give 25% or even 100% if I so desire but that there is no guilt in giving back to God only 10% and thanking Him for being the generous Father He is.

He is a Father first.

He delights in my talent. He delights in my sharings. He delights in my success.

He is a proud Father and that's what Fathers do.
10% of my writing goes to God! I can so do this!

Monday, July 16, 2012

My First Salade Composée

I am in pursuit of tasty, attractive salads to fix this summer, remember?
I got the idea for a French Salade Composée from Leila's "Ok, this is the salad post":

"A Salade Composée is a wonderful French invention. It takes previously cooked foods -- a starch, such as rice or potatoes, a protein, such as chicken or fish, and vegetables, and offers them in the form of a salad.

But you need the platter to get your creativity flowing."

* * * * *
I admit my first thought was, "Sounds like a compost pile of salad fixings."

But the idea is to Compose your Salade. Sounds a little more appetizing that way. :-)

And that's exactly what I did.

First I had cantaloupe that was getting overripe on the counter. I sliced that into bite-size pieces.

Then I sauted some marinated (white wine and herbs) shrimp in a skillet, added asparagus tips, and bacon pieces.
Annie made a pasta salad and added cut cucumber.

I found a large summery platter because, as Leila tells us, that's what gets your creativity flowing. :-)

I added some garden greens and placed the fixings all around the platter and sliced boiled farm eggs on top.

I did forget to add the tomato, avocado, and shredded cheese but I don't think we missed it.

Now I have items ready to start work on my next salad dish.

When you fix your personal plate, it becomes a minature French Salade Composée.

My husband and I enjoyed it. The girls were only interested in the pasta and cantaloupe.

Annie asked if she could have a can of ravioli.

A Penny for Your Summertime

You already heard me say I'm thinking about budgeting pennies and summer salads. Incase you missed this, I was over at last week thinking about ice cream trucks and parking lot pennies.

Please join me there for a few thoughts on hot pennies and cool summertime treats. :-)

* * * * *

I’ve been thinking about neighborhood ice cream trucks. We used to be assured of circus music, icy cold treats, and delicious childhood memories every weekend, every summer, thanks to the ice cream truck. We still occasionally hear the bells inviting children to stop their play, climb down from tree houses, turn and look down the oasis-splotched road. The music plays and the children dance.

It’s a sweet childhood memory for those of us now digging into our purses and pockets, snatching Mason jars off windowsills to empty runaway coins onto tabletops, and rummaging in the washing machine for loose change. We long to give our children what we had. A simple ice cream treat. Just a little taste of summertime days and childhood ways.

~ read the rest here: A Penny for Your Summertime

When God's Graces Hide

If the number of hits on a blog post are any sign of what others are facing...struggling with...desiring information on...needing to know...hungering for...this post hit a nerve. This blog has never been hit with so many hugs, so many private emails, so many tears, so much love, so many personal sharings and stories, so many prayers, and, yes, so much hope on any one post (especially in one day's time).

First I want to thank you all for welcoming our little grandson into this world. I don't care what anyone else says, it's a kind, loving world. You are all the perfect testimony to that kindness and love. :-)

Many readers shared that this is how they also came into this world...unplanned, unwed, unequipped, unprepared. Many of the people we work with, laugh with, socialize with, study with, worship with came into this world without a plan. Their parents had no plan.

Thank God, He did.

The grandparents fumbled, faltered, worried.

But God had a plan.

God's plan...God's will...was larger than that of His creation. The creator is in total control. We need not worry.

"God created mankind in his image;

in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them...
"God looked at everything he had made, and found it to be good." (Genesis 1: 27, 28, 31)

Watching the ultrasound video brings reality into focus. :-)  Life is full of unexpected realities and sometimes you accept them unquestioningly because you know that God's graces are hiding somewhere inside of them.

If not His graces then, for sure, His will.

"Nothing can come but what God wills. And I am very sure that whatever that may be, however bad it may seem, it shall indeed be the best."
-St. Thomas More, from a letter written in prison to his daughter

So many of you shared your stories with me and how God's plan has worked for the good, worked towards His glory. I appreciate all of you who shared. Your words mentored me and my family with much grace and love and wisdom.

Many shared hidden confidences...hidden graces yet unveiled. I hold each one close to my heart and in my daily prayers. 2013 will find our lives a little fuller, a littler wiser, and more in love with that grace than we are today.

As parents we are chosen to co-create with God.
As humans we sin and our Father reaches out, embraces us, and forgives us.
As parents, our children sin and God again reaches out and asks us to become like Him. We become His hands, His feet, His arms, His legs, His lips, His ears.

Only this time, He takes our sin and replaces it with His image and likeness.

Have you thought of that? Realized that? When we sin, we are sinning against the person of God right there before us. We are attempting to destroy His image, His likeness. And He places that image right back into our waiting, open arms. A hidden grace.

Are we open to the gift? To the image? To the life of God breathed into us through the very bones of our children and grandchildren? It's a chance...a feel as God feels, to touch as God touches, to see as God sees, to love as God loves.

Do we dare to embrace the grace? Do we dare to unveil it?

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pro-Life Is Not Always Pretty

We cooked, cleaned, and cared for my father-in-law after my mother-in-law passed away in 2003. I say "we" because my husband and his family were a huge part of this caring process. He had the beginning stages of Alzheimer's and declined quickly after her death. He cut my towels to make wash cloths, he glued his granddaughter's dollhouse pieces and McDonald Land toys on his dresser and shelves (and wouldn't give them back), he tore out pictures from my children's picture books then taped them to his wall, and he used Elmer's glue on his dentures.

He became a shadow of himself. He wouldn't have wanted to live those years any more than we wanted to see him live them.

The year we lived and cared for him was the hardest year of our marriage. I have never tried to sugar-gloss it or make it anything it wasn't. My husband was working all day every day and our youngest of five was only sixteen months old and I was homeschooling the others. My oldest daughter broke her ankle and was on crutches that summer which ended the only plans we had of a sneak-getaway before school began anew.

She sat outside on the front porch and watched the rain fall. I stood at the kitchen window and watched the rain pour.

At a homeschool conference that fall another mother spoke all bubbly and happily about the blessing her elderly mother-in-law was within her homeschool, large-family home. She meant well. She was lifting me up to the ideal of a grandparent living within the home. She was pointing out the blessings and real life lessons found if only I looked for them. I understood the message; I didn't appreciate the bubbliness.

These were desperate times that called for desperate measures on my part. It was often not pretty.

Her mother-in-law was sane; my father-in-law wasn't. Her mother-in-law unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher for her. Her youngest was ten-years-old. My youngest was not even two and she was pouring kool-aid and apple juice all over the floor and table. My father-in-law was slamming doors and chasing the family dog down the hallway with a can of air freshner.

I look back now. My father-in-law has been at peace and with my mother-in-law for the past four years. And, yes, I learned a lot and was pulled and stretched more than I would have wanted, but I will not be poetic and say I wish to repeat those years. But, with my parents on aging's doorstep, I might be called upon to do just that. Do I dread it? Yes? Do I fear it? No.

The one thing I learned the most during those younger years is how many things I did so wrong. Those were days of just getting through the day into the next day. Nothing was poetic. If it was something beautiful for God, it didn't look that way to me. It was messy and nasty and hard and mechanical. Nothing heavenly about it.

It wasn't until it was over that I could see God's hand in it. I often think of how I should have done things differently. Often I wish I had. I still don't see the beauty in those years but I know the manure and rotting leaves were there. It wasn't pretty, but they were part of the soil God scattered for my growth.

My oldest daughter's first job in nursing clinicals was to enter the room of a cancer victim who had died not 30 minutes prior. Kayleigh was assigned with another student to clean and prepare the body. One of the Corporal Works of Mercy in action. My daughter tells me that the worse part of being a nurse is handling the smells. Some nurses put Vicks rub in their nostrils to mask the smells. Smells of life. Smells of impending death.

It is often not pretty.

During a year's time my grandmother fell 3 times. She had surgery. She had dementia. We had to lock-up her meds because she couldn't remember taking them so would take them twice, or more. She didn't want anyone to stay with her but would call my mother and uncle every hour on the hour to come and check on her and the house. She refused to leave her house to stay with anyone else. At night the anxiety was high and we were worried due to her wandering mind. At night she didn't recognize her house or her surroundings. Between my mother, uncle, aunt, daughter, and myself; we clocked shifts to stay with her. You didn't sleep. You stayed up...walking her to the bathroom, getting her water, listening to her ramble, answering the same questions over and over and over again and again.

If any of you question your own sanity, become a caretaker of someone with dementia or Alzheimer's. It isn't pretty.

I'm not writing this to mock or make light of anyone suffering. I'm establishing my credibility. Been there, done that.

If I were not committed 100% to faith and family, I could turn quite cynical. I see the beautiful, glossy images shared on Facebook and I know the beautiful message behind the image, I know the graphic artist means well but I've seen the reality. It isn't pretty.

Pro-life work is not always about cute, cuddly babies. It's about so much more. Pro-life work, in 21st century reality, is closely interwoven with the work of preparing for death. It is so closely woven that it makes hypocritics of all of us. Yet, when we inspect it more closely, the work of preparing others for death is actually preparing them for their second life so it isn't really about being pro-dying, but about being pro-living.

It's about dying to self. It's about dying to our own selfishness and our own needs. It's about preparing a mother to give birth to a baby who might die anyway. It's about showing respect for a deceased body because it harbored a living soul. It's dying to our sleep so that another can have peace of mind. It's dying to our comfort so that someone else can be comfortable. It's showing through our own life how we are called to live...and die. It's about respect and dignity for what God has made. It's about living in less than perfect condition, through less than perfect situations because we have been asked.

Because life is not glossy or perfect. It certainly doesn't always smell good. That is the most common compliant of going to a nursing home. The smells. The sounds.

A pro-death society has taken God out of this cycle. A pro-death society has removed God from the Paschal Mystery so there is no place for respect and dignity much less for corporal works.

Without God, we have no hope. No hope at all. That's why, in dying, we practice how to live. We are all journeying to death each day of our life, but we journey towards it with the reality of witnesses that there is life beyond death. That is why it is called the Good News. It is up to the pro-life witnesses to shout the good news of the Ressurrection that there is life after death. In the Theology of the Body by Pope John Paul II, we are told that the body is part of that Good News. We were created in the image and likeness of God! That includes these bodies of ours. We were not created as angels. We were created as human beings who are not complete without our bodies. We are not mere souls, shapeless entities. We are body and soul. God knew that because He created us and that is part of the hidden message of Himself which He left us in the Eurcharist....His own body and blood, soul and divinity. All these things complete us.

As one pastor told a group of us when teaching the Theology of the Body, Grandma may be dancing around in heaven but she will not be complete until her body and soul are joined at the last coming of Christ when we will all be resurrected again with our bodies. Our bodies are a part of who we are. Our bodies mean something. Our bodies are as precious as our souls. Our bodies were created in love and for love.

Without the physical, walking, breathing body of Christ appearing to his followers and over 500 witnesses it would surely be a myth and many people would have since disproven it. The tomb would have remained closed and the bloody sacrifice would have been for naught. But people who saw the risen Lord were willing to die while teaching others the message of life in a risen God-man. You don't die for something you don't believe in, neither do you live. Neither do you serve. 

Life, in the way it is taught in the pro-life movement, isn't always cute and cuddly and baby lotion scents. It's more. It's a cross with power, a dead man who breathed His living spirit upon His apostles, and a God who loved His creation enough to live and die for us so that we too may live again after our death.


Don't Judge a Hurting World

A few years ago, I read a powerful post by Amy Welborn about shopping for her young son's birthday cake mere months after his daddy's sudden death. (The post has been taken off the internet so I cannot find it to share.) The cake lady across the counter had no clue the emotions, sadness, difficulty this small, common task was for this wife/mother who was left to wrestle her own grief along with that of her very young sons. This simple task was, in fact, a momentous mountain to climb.

Part of that post, she wrote:

"Who knows what huge bridge someone is trying to cross when they need something small from us? Who knows what a difference our outstretched hands make in someone’s longer journey, which probably holds difficulties far beyond what they let on."

Though I was already on the road towards ditching my own judgemental attitude, thanks to several Ignatian retreats, much spiritual reading and my own breaking point many years prior, Amy's post inked for me the huge commitment to do my very best to be kind, supportive, and positive to everyone I encountered in my day-to-day life.

There is so much hurt in this world. More hurt than happiness.

Two years ago our church pastor and deacon called me into the office and asked me to take over the vacated position of religious ed director. It was a leap of faith, yet these past two years have opened wide the need for kindness, a gentle approach, a non-judgemental attitude, and positive reinforcement in a world that is hurt and hurting.

There is so much hurt in this world; we don't know the half of it.

Everyone has a story and we don't know their story. It is a self-righteous to presume that we do.

News anchor Cooper Andersen recently came out, after many years of speculation on behalf of the public, announcing that he was gay. He stated, "In a perfect world, this would be nobody's business."

I applauded that. I have long lamented that our world judges us primarily by our sexual orientation. We judge what people do in the bedroom and hardly care about other parts of their lives. I've written about it already and I hardly care to go there again but, while our sexual identity is a big part of who we are, it is not the total package. We are much more, so much more, and worth more thought than what today's world places upon our value as people made in the image and likeness of God.

We are such curious beings. Rightly so. God made us this way. Righly so. It's what makes us grow, expand, reach out, and learn. It's all good.

But the media, especially social media, has shown just how nosy we all are and it has us laughing and pointing and slurring and mocking each other.

I am seeing, all too clearly how much I have to turn away from the opinions on Facebook. (I'd add the twittings on Twitter but I never go there. My blog feed is set-up to instantly log onto Twitter and from there, go to Facebook.) I need to turn away and focus on my own story. It is not in the words I say to others, but in the way those words are presented. Words are mostly lip-service in this 21st century that is full of blog posts, a constant twitters and Facebook stats and news worthy material. Constant, constant words. Everyone is an expert. Everyone has something to say. We can fall victim to thinking we are saved and need to help everyone around us. We forget how flawed our own story is and how needy we are.

Words are just words. It's not what we say, but how we say it.

We are too much in too much of each other's business. Doing so gives us a sense of acedia which dulls the pain and frustration of our own battles as we enter into the stories of others when, in fact, no one knows anyone else's story. We get so caught up in an preconceived battle that when someone dares to assume they know our story, we lash at them with our words. We forget we are all fighting a battle and it's a hard battle and we need to support one another but never assume we know their full story or that any of us will not need a thorough purging of mind, body, and soul.

The battle is not easy...for any of us...but we can help make it less grueling.

The song "Don't Laugh at Me" by country singer Mark Willis is a simple start.

This article speaks pretty well: Learning to Love, Not Judge {where I borrowed the above signs}.

We need to treat people as we would treat ourself, knowing that that person's salvation is left in very good hands...the hands that know the whole story... the hands that gave us the Golden Rule.

The hands that forgive.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Heart of Home: Budgeting Pennies ~ Marketing ~ Summer Salads

Early yesterday morning I took my parent's adoration hour, then went to 8:30 AM Mass (which was, unknowingly, my father-in-law's anniversary mass) then stopped at the church office for a VBS planning meeting.

I got home to find my middle daughter and her two friends playing outside in the rain while babysitting the youngest.

I slipped from my servant-hat straight and easily into my domestic apron, went to the outside freezer and dug through for supper fixings.

We just got back from vacation. My husband has asked me to manage funds better. (We tend to get lax, don't we?) Vacations are frivilous things, really. But they take you out of your mundane paycheck-to-paycheck world and, after the bliss of carefree living, brings you harshly back to reality and the need to be a better steward of your money.

Reality is a calendar page away. School clothes and fees. Two children in college this coming semester (the ONLY semester this will happen, thankyouLord!). Saving for daughter's wedding next fall. And Christmas crouched and ready to spring.

So I've picked up my favorite Catholic domesticated book by Kimberly Hahn Graced and Gifted: Bibilical Wisdom for the Homemaker's Heart to help guide me and my home back where God (and my husband) want it.

Why worry? Why attempt to better manage our homes and finances when the American dream truly seems to be how much debt we can incur? Our homes and our families and our budgets seem to take on a mind and direction all their own; often leaving us in the dust. True dat!

So why indeed? Why would I even attempt to get control once again of my home and finances when I know by Christmas I'll be wallowing in the same pitiful condition?

First, because my husband has asked me to. He provides the income that blesses us. He supplies the bills and groceries and the upcoming school expenses.

Second, the Word tells me to do so in more ways than one. I won't get all Scriptural've heard the verses before...but this is where Kimberly Hahn's book kicks me in gear.

Third, I know I will have more peace and calm in my life knowing that I at least tried to follow that game plan. Not always successful, but at least faithful.

Since we are recently back from hotel/condo living, this caught my eye:

Simply titled: This is the Salad Post by Leila

"Have you been to a hotel recently? Maybe to stay, or for a reception? Can you imagine even thinking, "This hotel is great. It's comfortable, welcoming, clean, and refreshing. The food tastes homemade. It's wonderful that this hotel has no manager."

The amazing thing about being the manager of your own home is that it's just such a pleasure. Listen, everything has its downside; nothing is perfect. But the freedom to decide when, where, and how to do things, taking into consideration only the opinions of those you love, why, that's a pleasure.

"Well, it can be!"

The thread was just what I was looking to read about managing home, budgeting pennies, and summer menu plans (namely salads).

I was delighted to come across this Salad post and am eager to try the French Salade Compose'e for meal times through August. My first pursuit was to make a list of salads to get us through the heat of summer, so the title had me at "Hello!"  After eating quite a few salads during vacation; my body craves them, the heat adores them. My daughter's little garden promises cucumbers, squash and tomatoes. The thought of going to market for fresh morning produce teases me. It's something my domestic-self wants but I'm too much the realist to expect it will happen.

I would love to bask in fresh morning marketing trips but I can't imagine going to market every day. Not here in America. We do not have the same tranquil, calming, meditative allure that, say, Tuscany has. Our country is still considered young, energized, fast-paced, modern. Fast food, eating on the run, carry-out, frozen pizza. Old world countries are slower, more reflective, weathered, more contemplative, old-style, traditional. Marketing baskets set on arm, gentle pickings over rows of fresh vegetables, quiet conversations on streets mid-mornings, walks from home to market and back again, thoughtful marketing.

Here we might go to the supermaret once a week (twice?) and we load up and spend a ridiculous amount of money because we are trying not to go again until the next paycheck. So we stock up on unnecessary items and things we really don't need and we load our trunks full.

Places where marketing and walking is the norm, one can not load an arm-basket with too much. One is tamer, more frugal than in a place where large eight-passenger vehicles park. The habit of daily morning shopping leads (I would think) to better planned meals, better shopping decisions, and lighter fare.

Less becomes the best.

A couple years ago our oldest daughter took a European tour. She said it is all true. People in England walk everywhere and sit reading in the parks. They eat lightly during the week and have Thanksgiving size spreads on Sunday. In France the people ride bikes or the train and they are often seen with loaves of French crust sticking out of their backpacks. They nibble on these while going from place to place, sometimes with meat, sometimes with cheese, sometimes alone.

And, yes, she said, people are skinny over there. The ones who are overweight are the Americans. I twitched uncomfortably over that piece of information. As an American, I'm embarrassed!

Everything in moderation. Our society, our homes, our families need to learn this well.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Living Joyfully Among Messy Blessings

"We humans are amazingly competitive and whether we acknowledge it or not, we tend to size ourselves up in comparison to other people on pretty much every front, and now that I've been a mother for nigh unto six years, I would dare say that motherhood is the most competitive sport of all (though few would admit it).

"As moms, we compare and rank ourselves by how many children we have, our birth stories, financial earnings, handmade crafting abilities, how much we cook from scratch, how we choose to educate our children, how much we volunteer, how early our children start reading and writing, and the activities of our husbands. The term 'household manager' has come to take on new meaning.

"Social media hasn't helped, either. Due to the internet, we no longer merely compare ourselves to our in-laws and the moms we see around our neighborhood, but we can compare ourselves to anyone who has a blog or a Facebook presence. These are women who have multiple children, have spotless homes, have large blogs and businesses that have thousands of followers, and have husbands who are hunky, adoring, funny, and compassionate. They're endlessly creative, smart, thrifty, and patient. Their children are intelligent, well-behaved, and TV-free. These women keep it all together..."

Read the rest here: If Motherhood isn't a Competitive Sport, Why Do We Beat Ourselves Up?

Author Kresha imparts to us:

"So I am here to say - ENOUGH!

"It's time to shed the guilt that invades (and pervades) our spirits as mothers. Let us look at it squarely in the face, acknowledging it for what it is, and then ask God to root it out of our hearts. Let us live joyfully, deeply grateful for the bounty of messy blessings that do abound in our lives, and understand that our contributions are significant and sufficient. 'My grace is sufficient for you,' Jesus told the Apostle Paul in a vision, 'for my power is made perfect in weakness.' (2 Corinthians 12:9)"

* * * * *

There is our start:

* Look it squarely for what it is
* Confess that we have taken meat hammer to the last commandment of God and coveted the very essence of our neighbor
* Pray to God to change our hearts
* Acknowldge each "messy blessing" in your life...each and every one of them
* "Live joyfully"

* * * * *

Share ways you rise above this competition and learn to live joyfully among your messy blessings!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Home is Good

We have been on vacation.
“The world is a book and those who do not travel road only one page.” – St. Augustine

We arrived home this evening...Tired...Sunburnt...Spent...Penniless...

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” – Mark Twain
Satisfied with time...Full with memories.
“The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.” – Samuel Johnson

Unloaded truck...mopped floors...started laundry...bandaged the checkbook...watered Annie's garden...

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

All animals on this make-believe homestead acreage of ours alive and well...

“Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” – Seneca
Daughter-in-law carried over a bowl of chicken fetticini for our supper...
It's good to be home. That is all.

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” – Lin Yutang

Friday, July 6, 2012

Spreading Our Writing on the Table

I am waiting to hear back on a children's book that has been on the "table" since August last year. I heard from the editor last Thursday. My book is still on the "table". As long as it's on that metaphoric "table" rather than my kitchen table, I stand a 50/50 chance of being served a contract. For now, I'm enjoying the appetizing possibilities.

I'm really hoping they serve me a contract. Would be lovely.

Today as I read this interview ( shared by Melissa Wiley, I pondered the life of writers who are mothers, especially mothers with large families. Honestly I think I was more productive when there was a baby in my house. Great procrastinator that I am, I believe it had something more to do with putting off changing the smelly diaper than wanting to publish anything. I'm thinking that perhaps when grand babies need babysitting, my productivity level will increase to great heights.

It's something I'd love to discuss with other mother-writers out there. Specifically, how do you claim your writing time, especially when the family views reading and computer time as one's form of procrastination over cooking dinner or cleaning house?

"To be a successful writer, you have to have time — long before you ever make a dime or publish a damn thing — you need time. Period. Having children makes this harder. Time shrinks. It has to be fought for. A mother who writes has to demand time. If she isn’t given time, she will not progress as a writer."~ Julianna Baggott

Monday, July 2, 2012

Setting the Table

Can I offer you each a little summer treat?
Right now I'm busy setting the table but if you give me a day or two, everything should be ready.

This is a mini-project I've been wanting to get around to offering you for a long time.
Summer gives me the down time I need. :-)

Let's try something fun for the rest of summer, shall we?

In my book A Picture Perfect Childhood, I have a section called "Let's Get Cooking with Literature". It's a "shopping list of books" to take with you each month to the library and load into your book basket.

Read the books with your children in the coolness of the house during the heat of these summer days then copy the ingredients found at the back of each book and head for the super market. In the coolness of evening, make the delicious book treat for the whole family can enjoy.

It's a fun way to spend summer and an even better way to combine our love of books and food.

It's a book-a-licious project.
If you have my book A Picture Perfect Childhood you can jump on ahead to page 158.  Otherwise, check back Tuesday or Wednesday and I hope to have the first links up for you.

Enjoy! And please share your photos and cooking time with us all. Perhaps I...or my girls...can figure out how to set-up a link-up so we can all share our books and tables and treats. Maybe... :-)

Walkin' to New Orleans

After a hectic spring full of family feast and feria, our children got together in conspiracy and asked us where we wanted to escape. It was a trip away for two oldy-weds with no stopping at Pepto-Bismol coated jewelry stores for little extra plates for lunch and shopping in teenage friendly dress discussions on the street of where to go or what to do amongst anyone but the two of us.
A relaxing weekend!
{Clock and window in the historic Hotel Monteleone}
Now, I don't know about all you other oldy-weds, but when we are given the option of going wherever we want, it is the season to freeze-up.
Where does one go?
Our children's ideal was a relaxing Bed and Breakfast; my reality was in the middle of harried, historic New Orleans.
I mentioned to my husband that maybe my parents would enjoy going to New Orleans with us. Afterall, they were celebrating 50 years of togetherness this June.
My husband's logical reponse was, "Wait a minute, you just said without any of the kids to slow us down, we'll be able to go and do whatever we want. Now you want to bring your parents?"
What was stated without saying was that we would bring with us an 80 year old father who tends to wander at will and who has essential tremors, as well as a mother with a bad back. It was like saying, we aren't bringing kids with us but we'll take a couple of old people along for the ride? We've cared for old people; there's a remarkable degree of childish needs involved there.
That being said, we're very lucky that my parents are still very independent and handle their own affairs. My dad still golfs and has a family lineage equal to Rip Van Winkle. My mom is much younger than he and is able to tend to needs that the tremors hinder. Their minds are both clear and sharp.
I knew my dad (who turned 80 last September) had been craving to walk the streets and alleys of his youth days, to breathe the sights and sounds with the same freedom he had as a teenager, to see the old through eyes of equal remembrance.
What wasn't said is that when one is 80, it could be one's last merry-go-round.
My husband knows this. His parents are now gone. He knows the length of days. He knows the essence of parents.
There was a certain degree of laughter over my husband's statement when we shared it passing over the Atchafalaya Basin. It was agreed it was more fun to take parents on a merry-go-round than not.
And so we went, along with my parents and my brother and Jen.
It was a weekend for the memory book.
We had a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful time...just us grownups.
{To be continued...}
{Old Letter Box inside Hotel Monteleone}

{Chandelier inside historic Hotel Monteleone}
{Bourbon Street is mostly made of tourists from all walks of life.}

Recommendations by Engageya

Blog Archive