Saturday, July 25, 2009

Things That Bring Peace Part II

I didn't intend on giving this post this title, but it seems like it will serve the purpose well.

I came back from retreat this past week and I did so with much peace. Sorry to be repetitive, but if you've never gone on a silent retreat, especially the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, I would highly recommend doing so.

My retreat was very peaceful and fruitful. I'm hoping that many of the resolutions I made will bring about even more peace and fruitfulness.

One of the resolutions I made, at the advice of the retreat master during spiritual direction, was to go on a sabatical with my blog. So, as of this post, I will be totally off blogging (both reading and writing) until the 1st of September. At that point, I will reevaluate the situation and see if the things I needed to work on have improved and take a look at how I still feel about the whole blogging thing.

Don't get me wrong, here. This was a very big struggle for me, but I am now very much at peace with the decision. At the same time, I'm certainly not claiming to be some saint because I am doing this :) This blog has been both a good thing and a bad thing. My hope is to improve on the bad and be able to get back to it in some capacity, the good Lord willing, some time in the future. Until then, pray for me as I will pray for all of you.

Since I am turning the comments off, if you, for some reason, feel the need to get in touch with me, you can contact me through my website. Thank you for being such great readers and commenters. Hopefully we shall "meet" again!


Monday, July 20, 2009

Things That Bring Peace

This past weekend we had a chance to go camping and were fortunate to find a very nice, clean and friendly campground. While we were there, I was reading "My Imitation of Christ" and opened up to Book III, Chapter 23 "Four Things Which Bring Much Peace". The four things listed are:

1. Endeavor, My son, rather to do the will of another than thy own.
2. Ever choose rather to have less than more.
3. Always seek the lowest place and to be inferior to every one.
4. Always wish and pray that the will of God may be entirely fulfilled in thee.

If I might be so bold, I'd like to add that a fifth thing which brings peace, at least to our family, is spending time in the great outdoors, enjoying and marveling in God's beautiful creation.

Having fun as a family, enjoying the company of friends and, yes, even getting some exercise. I hope you've had time to get out into nature this summer! If not, hurry up while there's still some summer left :)





Friday, July 17, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 31

Welcome to another week. Click on the header above for more Quick Takes.

1.

Usually on Monday afternoons I shut the door to the office in an attempt to work on my website and other internet-like stuff. The rule is that during those hours all children are to pretend like mom is NOT home; don't talk through the door at me about how your brother did this and that. It usually doesn't work, but it sounds like a good rule, doesn't it? Well, this past Monday, Ms 6yo knocks on the door and says, "Mom, can I show you my masterpiece?" Now, what kind of mother could say no to that. I responded, "Yes, you may." Ms. 6 yo said, "Really? Okay, let me go get it!" And here is her masterpiece for all the world to see!


2.

Emily update - Please continue your prayers for Emily. Her tongue is healing, however she still isn't gaining any weight. She goes in August for a PET scan which will, I think, help the oncologist determine how successful these past procedures were. Her mom relates that Emily had a dream the other night that her cancer came back and she got diabetes. Upon waking up, Emily looked at the crucifix and told Jesus "NO".

3.

I've been doing more planning over the last couple of days (finally) and I think I've realized that I can't do it all. If we tried to accomplish everything that I'd like to do, I don't think the school day would ever end. There's just so many fun and interesting things to learn! The fact that 6 of the 7 kids will be school age is also a bit overwhelming. I just might have to resort to a few more "already figured out" programs for some of the basic stuff.

4.

I received this in an email. Not sure where it came from, but it has some great advice for the Year of the Priest.

Please copy and paste this note into a new email and keep it moving around the world.
===============================================================

In union with the will of the Church many people feel called to make this YEAR OF THE PRIESTS a year of intense PRAYER AND FASTING / SACRIFICE for our pastors and for all priest who have touched our lives in one way or another. Our priests are chosen by God but need encouragement to live holy lives of total surrender to the will of the Lord. We can help and encourage them with our prayerful and charitable support. For the remainder of the YEAR OF THE PRIESTS let us unite in prayer and fasting for our priests by:

1. Prayer: Attend an extra Mass each week offering it up for your priests.
2. Prayer: Say at least one extra decade of the rosary daily and end by reciting a special prayer for priest. Also watch for prayer opportunities at your parish.
3. Fasting: No snacking, desserts, carbonated, caffeinated or alcoholic beverages and/or make lots of little sacrifices for them throughout your day. (This is like a "super Lent. Pray to see what the Lord wants you to do in this area.)
4. Note: As a form of encouragement, send a note to your pastor informing him of your supporting prayer, sacrifice and fasting commitments.
5. Send this email to all your Catholic family and friends so that our priests are covered with prayer and sacrifice.

This can be a powered year for our priests and our church especially if we, as laity, support them with our prayers, sacrifices and sacrificial fasting.

5.

Here's a good one:

Su Wong marries Lee Wong. The next year, the Wongs have a new baby.
The nurse brings over a lovely, healthy, bouncy, but definitely a Caucasian, WHITE baby boy.

'Congratulations,' says the nurse to the new parents. 'Well Mr. Wong, what will you and Mrs. Wong name the baby?'
The puzzled father looks at his new baby boy and says, 'Well, two Wong's don't make a white, so I think we will name him...

Sum Ting Wong.

6.

Next week is retreat week so there will be silence from this end for a few days. Please pray for all of us women who will be participating in the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, brought to us by the wonderful priests of Miles Christi.

7.






554111: Raising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and DaughtersRaising Maidens of Virtue: A Study of Feminine Loveliness for Mothers and Daughters

I've had this book for the past year but am just picking it up now to read. So far, I love it. It is a book that is to be used by a mother and her daughter(s). Each week they cover a chapter and discuss it using questions and scripture verses at the end. Some of the chapter titles are "Taming the Tainted Tongue", "Dwelling in Unity" and "Knight in Shining Armor". I'm very excited about doing this with the girls!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Next Year, Ugh.

Well here it is the middle of July and my brain is finally beginning to let me think about the upcoming school year. Quite honestly it has been tough getting to this point and I'm not even really sure why. Usually by now I have the first half of the year planned and books purchased. Up until this past week, however, I haven't even been able to think about planning. Every time I tried it would be like running into a brick wall.

So as I begin thinking about next year, I began to dread one thing in particular. Maybe that's why I haven't been able to do anything yet. You know the subject I am talking about. Go on...say that four letter word.... MATH!

I have tried almost every math program under the sun to no avail. No matter what I try, my kids hate math. They dread math. They drag it out as long as they possibly can (which makes no sense to me). They cry, they wine...well that's enough, I'm sure you get the picture.

I really like the Life of Fred books. I have two that are supposed to be starting the Beginning Algebra books. I was looking forward to it, but they are not. I have two who will be doing the division book in Math U See. I think we'll have to brush up on our multiplication facts, first! I have one who will just be starting math, maybe I can do something different with her so that she enjoys it. Problem is, I'm not sure where I went wrong with the others! Ms 17 yo, well, we're not quite sure what we're going to do with her.

So there you have it, the reason why I've been stumped when it comes to even thinking about the upcoming school year, which should technically be starting next month *shivers uncontrollably*. I've asked for help before and people either commiserate with me (which is fine, but not very helpful) or suggest I play math games or bake things (all of which we do). The one suggestion I've gotten that I haven't implemented yet is bribery. I think I may just resort to that this year.

Any suggestions???


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Organic vs Pesticide

Here is some fun for your Tuesday that I just couldn't pass up. In my opinion, it's better than the real movie!




Monday, July 13, 2009

More on Seeking an Abundant Life

It's funny how two people can read the same thing and think two different things. The unfortunate part is that I often forget that this happens.

Case in point, on Friday I put up this quote:

"Are you settling for survival or actively seeking an abundant life?"

I really found this to be quite inspirational and very profound. I mentioned it to a friend and she said that to her it sounded too materialistic. As soon as she said that, I saw her point. When I first heard it, however, that never even occurred to me. I can see how you could turn that quote into an excuse to go after all the material riches of this world so that you could live an abundant (material) life.

She asked me what I thought the quote meant by an abundant life, so I told her "JOY". What struck me was that a person could either go through each day just trudging along without having or seeking any joy in their lives or they could grab the proverbial bull by the horns and do something to bring joy into their lives.

It could mean changing their prayer life, it could mean seeking out a holy priest or new friends or really anything that would deepen their relationship with the Lord and thus, hopefully, bring more joy into their life. The key here being that material things can't bring that true joy that only the Lord can.

I guess I kind of look at it as the difference between a person who continues to wait, day in and day out, for the Lord to bring joy into their lives or a person who goes out to find the Lord and asks for that joy.

The first person might be waiting a long time and has the potential to fall into a very negative state of mind. The second person, I believe, will be rewarded for their seeking with the gift of grace and, at some point, will find the joy that their heart truly desires. To me, that is an abundant life.

So, that was my take on that quote and you heard my friend's take. Out of curiosity, what was yours?

PS Dear friend, lest you read this and get upset with me, I was not implying anything negative by your statements. You just made me see another side to this quote, so I thought I'd clarify my thoughts on it :)


Friday, July 10, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 30

1.

Earlier in the week I participated in a webinar hosted by Homeschool Connections. The presenter started with a quote that she had heard from her pastor the previous weekend. I really liked it and thought I'd share it with all of you:

"Are you settling for survival or actively seeking an abundant life?"
Stop and think about that one for awhile!

2.

This is the one week of the year that I REALLY appreciate all of the things that my older girls do for me. The oldest four are away at camp this week, so I've been working my fingers to the bone! I'll have to remember to give them an extra big hug and kiss when we see them again this weekend. What I want to know is how I did it when all I had were three younger kids????

3.

Another thank you goes to my sister-in-law and my parents. Ms 6 yo is on a three day sleepover with her best friend/cousin and Mr 8 yo and Mr 4 yo had a one night sleepover and fishing trip with Grandpa. Of course, that left me here all day Thursday by myself and boy did I have plans!!!!!!!!! Unfortunately, I didn't get to the major project I had been looking forward to. Instead, I spent about 4 hours trying to catch up on and figure out the problems with my checkbook! I have to come up with a better system.

4.

What I really wanted to work on was my workshop - A Plan for Joy in the Home. I would like to get it into another format so that I can reach more people with it. I think it works great as a workshop, but since I can't be in a lot of places and it gets expensive to do that, I figure there has to be another format that would work. I'm currently considering an ebook with workbook pages, a DVD with workbook pages and/or a webinar. Not sure which one will happen, if any, since I have limited experience with all those formats. Any suggestions????

5.

I've discovered another difference between girls and boys. Here is the scenario: I pull the car up to the mailbox, put the window down and grab the mail. As I'm flipping through it, a big, black, hairy spider jumps out and starts attacking me. I frantically try swatting it away, then remember to put the car in park. As I jump out screaming, I lose sight of it and have to cautiously get back in, hurry down the driveway, park the car and leave the window open so that it can hopfully escape. This has happened to me twice so far. The first time Ms 13 yo was with me and she was screaming just as loud as I was. Wednesday, Mr 8 yo was with me and all he did was laugh and tell me how funny I looked. BOYS!

6.

Am I the only one who isn't motivated to cook dinner when the whole family isn't home?? I have an especially hard time cooking when I know my husband is the one who will be missing. It's a good thing we don't live close to anything convenient!

7.

In this post I showed you a potential Christmas card picture. Here is the one that came right before it:

Can you tell which person in this picture has an attitude??? Why do they always do that when you really want to take a nice picture?


Wednesday, July 8, 2009

More on the Latin Mass

I've mentioned various times that our family has been delving into the Extrodinary form of the Mass (a.k.a. the Latin Mass). Last week we were able to assist at two High Masses (one being a Pontifical High Mass) and three Novus Ordo Masses in Latin. BTW, a Pontifical High Mass is a High Mass whose main celebrant is a Bishop. In this case it was Bishop Perry from Chicago.

A number of months ago I had a conversation with some friends that attend the Latin Mass and I was telling them how I didn't like it, how I didn't even feel like I went to Mass. I didn't exactly say that I NEVER wanted to go back again, but I came pretty close. They assured me that if I would go back about 5 or 6 more times that I would feel differently. Well, the Pontifical Mass was about the 5th or 6th time and I can honestly now say that they were right. (It's also easy to admit that because I know none of them read this blog!)

It was at that Mass that I finally felt like I could see the beauty and sacredness of it all. I also felt familiar enough with it to roughly follow along with what was happening. Of course, the beautiful chapel and the angelic-like singing of the sisters and Gregorian Chant of the brothers sure added to the feeling.

It's funny, sometimes, how God works. He could have made me "see the light" the first time I went. I suppose that does happen with some people. In this case, He waited until I had invested some time and frustration into it before He opened my eyes to see more clearly. I can't say I'm ready to go to a Latin Mass every weekend, but I am definitely more open to going occasionally.

I did have a humorous conversation in regards to this last week. I was speaking with one of the priests from St. John Cantius and he asked if we had ever been to their church. I mentioned that my daughters had, but that we had never made it there as a family because it is almost a 2 hour drive for us. Being a quick priest, he said, "Yes, but you drove 13 hours to get down here (Alabama), didn't you?" Touche! I guess we'll be making that 2 hour drive sometime soon!

Just one last note on this topic that I feel is some very good food for thought. On the show "EWTN Live", Bishop Perry was talking about the Latin Mass and how it doesn't have to be all or nothing. He said that some people feel that you should only go to the Latin Mass and not the Novus Ordo, but that he feels that you can have a nice mix of both. He made an excellent point when he said that we have to stop thinking about it as two different Masses: It is only ONE Mass, with two different ways of celebrating it! That really helped it all to click in my brain.

I guess after talking with people who seem to me to be of the "either/or" and not the "both" variety, I was falling into the same way of thinking. I felt much better about the whole thing after he said that. We can find beauty, reverance and sacredness in both forms of the Mass, it just might be harder to find it in your average Novus Ordo Mass. We must keep searching and praying, however, because bringing reverance and sacredness back into the Mass could change the world!


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The People You Meet

During our trip last week, we got to meet a lot of new and interesting people. On Sunday evening, some of the "locals" we met last time we were down gathered together for a game of baseball and a pot luck (yes, they're mostly homeschoolers, can you tell? I bet the pot luck gave it away!). We had a very nice time and I found it funny that the only two people out of the whole crowd that had southern accents were Deacon Bill and his lovely wife Ramona. People have moved down to that town from all over the country, so we had a variety of accents, but none that were truly southern. There was even a lady with a good old British accent and a woman from Italy. When the lady from Michigan spoke, I immediately recognized her non-accent (of course you know that people from the Midwest don't really have accents :) because she sounded just like us!

We also had the privilege of meeting two sisters from a small order (there's only three of them) from Covington, Kentucky. A quick google search and I remembered that they are the Fransiscan Daughters of Mary. They were two wonderful sisters on fire for the Lord who help the poor in their town. They said if it wasn't for the homeschooling families and other volunteers that God has sent them, they wouldn't be able to accomplish all that they do. They had some wonderful stories to tell about God's Providence and they exhorted all families to pray the family rosary.

On Monday, we happened upon the Mass of a newly ordained priest from Atlanta. He had just been ordained that past Saturday and had come to the Shrine in thanksgiving. Apparently one of the priests from the Shrine had been instrumental in his vocation. God is good, because after Mass he gave everyone his New Priest Blessing (if you'll remember, we missed out on that at the ordination in June!). As he came to each person, he asked them if they would like their blessing in English or Latin. He asked Mr. 4 yo, who replied, "Yes!" The good priest then proceeded to give Mr. 4 yo a blessing in both Latin and English :)

We also met Pilgrim George who had arrived a day or two before we did. He had a much longer trip than us since he walked to Alabama from Pennsylvania. He said that it took him 7 weeks to do it, averaging about 15 miles per day. If I remember correctly, he said that he has walked all over 43 different countries for a total of over 32,000 miles.

What fun to be in a place visited by people from all over with such interesting stories to tell. If you're willing to go out on a limb and talk to people, you can learn so many new and interesting things. Fortunately for us, we were with someone who isn't afraid to meet new people, so we got to benefit from her outgoing and friendly personality! Thanks Do, for being such a great witness.




Monday, July 6, 2009

We're Back! :) :(

Returning from a nice vacation is both a happy time and a sad time. Happy to be back and into a somewhat normal and predictable routine (if there is such a thing) but sad to have left the beautiful surroundings of Hanceville, AL. I know it doesn't sound like much, but if you've ever been to the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament, you know what I mean. It dawned on me today that what I like about that place (besides the beauty, peace and the fact that you can feel God's presence there) is that the people who attend Mass there and the priests that say Mass are there because they love the Lord and are devoted to Him in the Blessed Sacrament, and to His most blessed Mother. They aren't there because they have to be; they aren't there for the community or the nuns or the social aspect; they are there to show reverence and respect to the Lord.

Anyhow, for those who are interested, here is a brief synopsis of our trip in pictures and words. There will be a few more posts this week about specific topics that came up while we were down there, but here goes:

One of the first things we got to do was meet Brother Michael, who has been with the Knights of the Holy Eucharist for the past five years. He is currently in his second year of Seminary. He gave us a great tour of the Brothers' house and property. Here he is with a new statue of the Infant Jesus that was made for them.
Next, he showed us the chapel that the Brothers designed and are building themselves. This picture does not do it justice at all, but it is going to be very beautiful.

Then he took us behind the scenes of the Lourdes Grotto that was just built at the Shrine. Here you can see by my daughter's expression that it was hot and very smelly back there!


Here is the gaggle (plus two friends) with St. Bernadette (she's the pale one that is kneeling :)

Finally, Brother Michael showed us how skilled he was at riding a donkey. The tour ended here because the lightning was getting a bit too close for comfort!

Here are some of the kids with St. Joan of Arc in the gift shop.


A preview of a possible Christmas picture:

We also got to take a tour of the EWTN studios with Brother John Paul. It was very cool to hear all of the neat stories that they've heard from people who watch their programs. Brother told us a story about a person who was dying of cancer. One day this person rolled over and landed on the remote, thus turning on the TV. What they saw was someone on EWTN looking into the camera and saying "You have to go to confession!" I think that would wake me up!

We also stayed for the EWTN Live show that night when Bishop Perry and the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius (all from Chicago) were interviewed by Fr. Joseph. It was a neat experience.
And lest you think we tortured our children all week with religious things, we also went swimming and biking, played with friends - both old and new, ate a lot of ice cream and did some thrift store shopping to round out a wonderful week full of many blessings. Thanks for reminiscing with me!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Thanks!


What a wonderful thing to come home to! Thank you so much, Theresa!

"Those who receive this award are of the sweetest nature. They are kind, friendly, funny, loving, eager to share their love for Jesus with others, and brave in their efforts to reflect Him to this darkened world. They are the kind of folks you're blessed to know, even if it's only in the bloggy-sphere."

There is nothing special to do to accept this award except to...just accept it with gratitude and pass it on to warm someone's heart.

So, therefore, I pass this on to all of the people who read this blog - especially to those of you who take the time to leave such nice, heartwarming comments. What a blessing it is to have friends, even ones I have never "met"!