Saturday, December 31, 2011

an unexpected lesson....from Star Trek

My husband is going to love this. He is a big star trek fan. I was walking by the T.V. during one of the "Star Trek Deep Space Nine "episodes earlier. Captain Sisko is in charge of a space station that is the hub of many different alien species. One of the alien species, the bajoran, are a religious people that believe there are a group of "prophets" that watch over them and determine what happens to them. As Captain Sisko takes the position of captain of this station, they begin to believe he is someone very important for their faith, calling him "the emissary" a sort of messiah figure for Bajor. He struggles with this role throughout the series, first dismissing it as someone's superstitious religious ideas, then eager to relinquish the job to someone else, then being confronted by the prophets themselves and struggling to embrace the calling upon his life. There are some who "believe" in him the whole time regardless of what he thinks, one being his First Officer and friend, Major Kira, a Bajoran. I have a point, I promise.



So, in the scene I saw for about 5 seconds which I am basing this entire blog on, ahem, there was a potential replacement for his emissary role, a Bajoran that appeared to be perfect for the job, giving Sisko an out. When asked by a friend how he felt about it all he said, "Great! I feel like I am on vacation!" He wouldn't have to deal with being some great messiah figure that everyone looked to for guidance, for leadership, even protection. Being captain was enough!  He felt. I didn't ask to be anyone's emissary!

Here's where it all comes together....wait for it. God has created each of us for some great purpose, the gifts he has given us, the circumstances we have grown up in or live in now, somehow it is all forming us to be this great person he has ordained us to be since the beginning of time. But, it's part of our fallen nature, we don't WANT to be great. We are perfectly happy being, mediocre. What we don't realize is, as painful as the process may be, becoming all that we were created for will be the most fulfilling and exciting experience of our life. When Sisko said, " I feel like I am on vacation!" I could relate. There are times I want to take a vacation from growing and stretching myself just a little bit more than before. But then something entices me, somehow I know that what is around the bend, is so much greater than anything I have ever seen in a movie or listened to in a song. Because, it is full of the infinite, a world where the impossible doesn't exist. So I guess what I am wondering is, are you on vacation? from who God has called you to be? Something to think about, as the new year comes in. It's what I am thinking of anyway. Happy New Year Everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Favorite quotes/conversations with Fr. Pinto

Fr. Santan Pinto

Sorry but, he gets 2 blog posts. You don't have to read it, but I need to write it. So, if you want, take a look at why we loved him so much. When I say "disciple" this is how he referred to anyone going through formation, as the formation is called "Disciples of Jesus and Mary". Please add or correct fellow disciples. This is how I remember it.

1. Fr. P: "Whenever I go to (some particular area of the country) I always have much opposition and persecution."
Disciple: "Then why go there, Father?"
Fr. P: "Because it's the way of the cross."

2. In response to a question about a family member living an immoral life:
Fr. P: "How did Jesus change people? He loved them. He didn't judge. It was his LOVE that changed them."

3. When people meet you, will they find Jesus or will they find you? This is the test of a true disciple.

4. Holiness is hapiness.

5. It was profound humilty that preceded all of God's great works, Christ becoming man, Christ becoming bread, Mary and her "fiat" ("I am the handmaid of the Lord") and the incarnation.

6. When you are a disciple you are hated. If everyone likes you something is wrong.

7. If you truly know the peace of God, no one should be able to upset you.

8. We, all of us, are afraid to be great. If I told you right now that God would call you to disciple a thousand people would you accept it? We are afraid of greatness.

9.  God was teaching me humility, he said "You are dust on a flea's back". I went to the store and some man started shouting profanities at me. I said "God, am I supposed to take this?" and he said to me "Remember you are dust on a flea's back, so he is really complimenting you."

10. I saw a line of ants walking across the road and the Lord said to me, "Wait my son, wait for the little ones." This is how he teaches me humility.

And 2 things he said to me that I will share with you:

(about dryness in prayer) "You sit there praying the rosary feeling like an idiot, and the Lord says, Ah, but she's MY idiot."

Mary says, "She's inlove with my statue, tell her I am right here and to talk to ME."

Please add more if you wish!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Fr. Pinto

 Life is full of surprises, isn't it? You never know how attached to someone you really are, how much you love them, until they are gone. As you have probably gathered by now, I lost a dear mentor and beloved father just a few days ago. I began going through the formation program that he wrote 6 years ago. 6 years ago, I thought I was pretty well where I needed to be. Until a good friend, another homeschooling mom, talked to me about the DJM formation and asked if I'd be interested. I politely said...maybe, but didn't mean it, honestly. Then I was invited to a family potluck where Fr. Pinto was visiting. I and my family went to see other friends. Fr. Pinto sat in a chair off to a corner of the room, a bit intimidating in appearance. He was a very large indian man with a heavy beard and eyes that would pierce the deepest part of your soul. My friend leaned in to me and whispered "Go talk to him. You want to talk to this man." Um, ok, what was my deepest, most heart wrenching question? Ah yes. Here goes. I still can't believe I did it. I slipped into the chair next to him and said, "Father, I just heard about an old man who was beat to death by some teenagers late at night and killed. Father, he was a prayerful man, went to adoration every day. I am really struggling with this, why do you suppose this happen?" He looked off into the distance with complete peace yet with total confidence answered, "You know, that is a hard one, but all I can tell you is, you know the souls of the Holy Innocents? they were slaughtered for baby Jesus, and they were glad. They wanted to be martyred for his sake." I was completely baffled. But like every other time he has ever spoken to me, it made me think long and hard about, my trust in God, and my love for him which go hand in hand. He was what you would call, a straight-shooter. He was very blunt, and unapologetic about it. He would often say things to us like, "You see, that's the problem, we don't really want to know the truth..." and then he would let out a deep, hearty laugh, the kind I would imagine if God the Father laughed, that is how it would sound, almost like thunder, but joyful thunder, if that even makes sense.
He was never scandalized by human weakness, in fact, it made him laugh. I guess, in a way, this is God the Father's attitude, as nothing is too difficult for Him to overcome in us.

When I think of how he related to those who were privileged to be his spiritual children, I am reminded of my voice teacher in college. We worked together for many hours a week. He rarely gave me positive feedback. The majority of my lesson time was spent in correction. In his group of voice majors, I imagined that I was the most in need of improvement. We were like one family though being instructed by the same father figure. One day I ate lunch with the pianist that always worked with us and him. She looked at me with a smile and said, "you know you're his favorite. He says you're the best. That's why he's so hard on you." I was stunned, but I had a new found confidence in myself I had never had before.

I believe as his spiritual children, we were all his favorites. He was passionate about one thing, leading souls to perfection and union with the Holy Trinity, and if he had to whack you over the head with a 2 by 4   to get you there a little faster, he was perfectly willing to. He loved us just the way we were, but he would be damned if he was going to leave us that way. Whenever I had the privilege of meeting with him, I had no doubt that the Holy Spirit was speaking to me directly through him.

So, while I know as a dsciple I should be rejoicing at his glorious state in heaven, and trusting God that all is for good, I still have a lump in my throat, an ache in my heart, and continuous waves of grief that are overwhelming at times. And while he tried his best not to allow us to become too attached to him so that our hearts would become only attached to God, I'm afraid I faltered there a bit. As my own natural father says, "this too shall pass." but I will forever be changed by the life and ministry of Fr. Pinto. He taught me to believe that God has called me to be something great, and I, by His grace, am capable of becoming all He intended for me to be. I am so grateful for the time I had with him, and until we meet again, I will try my best to live as he taught us: For the glory of God and the salvation of souls!


May you rest in His everlasting peace, Fr. Pinto.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Vigil of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

So we had snow yesterday. We woke up to a beautiful blanket of white. In my former AR days, I would have said, "hold on, we have to learn about the formation of the snowflake first!" or "can anyone tell me what precipitation means?!" but that morning I came out of my bedroom and imediately started stuffing food in babies mouths so they could plunge into it. Aren't you proud? Yep. Well, after all, they are only kids for a little while, and we don't get snow that often.
Snow on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception

What I did think about almost immediately is how beautiful it was, and oh my goodness! This is the vigil of the feast of the Immaculate Conception! Snow-spotless-clean-pure-immaculate. If you know me well, you know I am about to get a little catholicy on you. But, it will only be for a minute, I promise. And there are fun pictures ahead, so stick around. The Immaculate Conception refers to the catholic teaching that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother without original sin. For my protestant brothers and sisters, you might say she "got saved" before she was born! And what makes her so special? She was God's mother. I'd say that ranks pretty high on the "special people" list. If I were God, and I could make my mother any way I wanted to, I would want her to not have that burden either. You might be thinking, why do all you catholics make such a BIG deal about Mary?!

Do you have an awesome mother? I do. The older I get, the more awesome she is. I have been known to brag about her from time to time. And even if you don't, maybe you have an awesome mother-figure in your life, someone who would do ANYTHING for you. Well, we have that kind of heavenly mother, times bazillion. Her son, Jesus, gave her to us while he was on the cross. So, yea, we make a big deal out of her sometimes.

Anyway, I really wanted to get more pics, but quite honestly, it was freezing. I have no snow boots, and I didn't want to get wet. So this is it folks.
All bundled up and ready for trouble. 
This could be my favorite.
However, it was NOT the Queen's favorite. You don't mess with the Queen. 
See what I mean?
And there's no face to face combat with her. She'll sneak right up on you.
Relentless, too.
This would be a snow....column. There were tears at it's demise, if you can believe it.
This would be baby boy trying to make the escape. 
"Talks to the hand, Mama!!"
And a group snuggle after a cold morning. 
A little Mickey Mouse will warm you right up. 

I am just grateful there was only ONE outing.

Happy Advent!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Being Countercultural is Cool

Being Countercultural, Advent Wreath

   It sounds like a really cheesy logo on a t-shirt. One that I probably would not wear. But, I couldn't resist. Because, being countercultural IS cool! Do you often have the desire to go against the flow? Maybe a hint of rebellious nature in you to NOT do what everyone else is doing? Then this is for you!!

In case it slipped your notice, everywhere you look it is "Christmastime" or should I say, the Holidays. Even if I say, "the holidays" I  cannot get away from the meaning of Christmas, because holiday actually comes from the term "Holy Day". So, whatever you like, Christ-mass or Holy-Day, it's all the same to me.

Here's some ideas to guarantee you will be "countercultural"this Advent Season. Put advent decor out instead of Christmas right now. Try it! A purple tablecloth, an advent wreath, some candles. Maybe even use the advent wreath with your family. We have been saying a beautiful prayer together every night and reading from scripture about the coming of the Christchild. Put an "advent wreath" on your door instead of a Jingle Bell Wreath, and use purple ribbon instead of red, if you really want to go all out. Instead of focusing on all the "party"aspects of Christmas like Christmas music, treats, and decor, focus on penance! Fast from those things until it is closer to the big day. Yea!!! Do a bunch of good deeds without telling people about it. We have a "good deeds jar" for advent, the kids get excited about pulling out a card every day.

Wait to put your tree up until the 3rd Sunday of Advent and then put ornaments on gradually, not all at once. You don't have to wait until Christmas Eve, that would be a bit stressful, but just wait some. Why? Because the Church is waiting. And if you don't care much about that, be a rebel, do it because no one else is waiting. And there is something to be said for waiting these days. Waiting without, say, spraying someone with pepperspray. Just sayin'. And if you don't do any of these things, I will still love you. :) But, I am going to wait to open my Christmas spirit, and trade it for a little Advent spirit right now.

Many blessings for you and your families!!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Birthday cards

My birthday cards:
a sugar free, dairy free, grain free, 3 layer cake. :)

Birthday Cards
My home in heaven, where I will be allergy free, it is made of candy and chocolate. The yard to the left includes a cottom candy tree and chocolate waterfall.

 The upstairs bedroom includes a bed, dresser, and mirror made out of jello.
A cake, decorated Angel Boy style.
Another version of my home in heaven. Chocolate mountains with cherries on top.
And that would be me fishing in the chocolate river.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving

I asked if I could host for my family this year, partially because I really do love to throw a party when I have time to get ready....and lots of extra help (which I had). But also because it seemed easier to deal with all our special dietary needs if I was hosting. Somehow. I am not sure how. When I figure it out I will explain it to you.

Anyway, I made some dishes for myself as I have my own food allergies apart from my fam, some for my kids and husband and some for the rest of my family. I made a gluten-free cornbread stuffing for all. However, as it turns out, somehow I expected people to be piling mounds of stuffing on their plates when really after it was all said and done, there was literally a small dent made out of a massive casserole dish. So, stuffing anyone? I'm serious. I'm thinking of inviting people off the street to eat the stuffing. or building something with it.

The kids helped to peel sweet potatoes for 2 casseroles. 
We ended up going through 2 boxes. Princess was tried and true to the end, peeling 9 potatoes on her own while I was occupied with something else.

I and my family both learned that you can have a pretty tasty, satisfying Thanksgiving meal without sugar, gluten, or dairy. It takes a little research and creative thinking, but it can be done. We also bought "The Big Easy" a turkey "fryer" that cooks the turkey with infra-red heat. It comes out crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside with no oil. Amazing.

After the meal, baby boy provided us with some entertainment. I think my dad was laughing so hard at this he was crying. He just started nose diving into the cooler with ice, collecting it in his little cup and depositing it....wherever (my baby, not my dad).



 Shhh, Dee Dee. Don't tell mom and dad.

 Vegging with cousin after a big meal. 

 The big kids.
Today we spent some much needed quality time with my brother and SIL and their little boy. We had absolutely no desire to go out into the shopping jungle with the masses. Hope everyone got some great deals. We were playing in sand and climbing on ropes and things.

 Come on baby, I will show you how to climb to the top and scare the pants off of the grown-ups!

A beautiful day to have a picnic with your family! And the best part? Everyone is pooped upon returning home, so it is quieter than usual which is why I have time to do this. God bless all of you and your families.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Mousy in the Housy



Yep. We have a mouse. The first time it was seen was by my husband at night. The next time was while I was planning a school day in the dining room. I handled it with much grace and calmness (not). The kids witnessed it. Somehow after reading them all these saints stories about saints that respect animals, they have developed a St. Francis mentality. They are saying we have a pet and please don't hurt it. Their daddy bought some "humane" mouse traps that trap the mouse without killing it. But I think he took one look at those little houses and said, "Come inside the little green box and have a snack? I am not that stupid."

We have tried some of our homemade cashew butter on it, we have mixed it with honey and served it on a triscuit, we have served it organic peanut butter with sugar. My husband suggested today that maybe it prefers the regular storebought peanut butter, with all that hydrogenated oil and stuff mixed in. I said good, he will probably die from eating it before he hits the trap.

I know I was entrusted with God's creation and that we are to care for things that are smaller than us, but I want that thing out of our house. Every time I go in the laundry room I give it a speech, "if you're in here, stay away, Mousy, staaaay away." We have an agreement. I pretend he is not in the house, and he stays hidden when I am around. (Except for that one morning). My husband also thought it would be a great time to watch "An American Tail" with the kids. So, Feifel is in the house, and it is time for him to move. Far.... Far.... away.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cows and Superheroes and Saints, Oh My!

"Do you want to wear your own face or a mask?" says my 7yr. old to my 4 yr. old with a completely serious look as they were getting ready for Daddy's office party. I am thinking my own face, but that is just me. What is it about this time of year that makes my children so giddy with excitement? They have taken it upon themselves to "decorate" the house for the past 2 years. The result was pretty cute I must say.  On every wall of our living room you were met with a new friend...
 I think the creature on the bottom left is a spider.
 This is one of my faves, Princess' 3 layer halloween cake.
 Boo.
Wow, that's a mouth full of teeth!
As I am feeling alot better lately, I decided to take the job of going around the neighborhood with them. I underestimated my energy level however, and was breathless and ready to return before we got to the end of our cove. Lame, I know. It is time to start an exercise routine again. 
The crew before heading out, along with my hands, argh. 
Happy Cowy-ween
Happy Cowy-ween! Sorry. 

Because we have food allergies and sensitivities, we don't eat the candy we collect and try to limit sugar. Not to worry however, My husband makes up for it amply. And we do order a few items from a natural candy store called Indie candy (indiecandy.com, check them out!) So here is The Great Pumpkin at work.

The kids are sent back to a bedroom after returning from trick-or-treating while he sets it up.


The most popular non-food item by far was the vampire teeth. I will be having nightmares about those for months. 
And the caption reads, "Why, with these teeth and crown, I could RULE THE WORLD!!"


 Cutest little Frankenstein ever.

 Eating his chocolate pumpkin.
And this pretty much tells you how everyone felt about their Halloween treats. Daddy knows how to make lots of smiles.

Last but not least we celebrated All Saints with our homeschool group. Each child dresses up as a saint and shares a little about it. They all processed into church, we had mass, and they presented afterwards. The little ones were placed on the front row (my 4 yr. old included) and I got to watch him play with a jingle bell (snuck past my attention) and stuffed animal dog in the air in front of Fr. James while observing from 3 rows back unable to stop it. Ah well. Humility, Humility. 
 St. Bernadette, a wittle nervous, but she made it through.
 a holy, attentive bunch.
 St. Francis of Assisi. You know, "Make me a channel of your peace.." so perfect. I was trying to explain this to him in the car as he was whacking his big sister, dressed as Catherine of Siena.
I was proud actually, because I didn't think he would even stand up there and say anything, and he bounded up there, remembered the name and said "he just wuved animals."
 St. Felix, a pope who, when trying to hide in a cave from Roman soldiers, made friends with a spider who wove a miraculous web at the entrance, protecting him from the soldiers. He named him "Fidelis" (faithful) and it stayed with him after this experience.
St. Catherine of Siena, doctor of the church, received the stigmata (wounds of Christ), started having visions of Jesus at the age of 6, asked to take on all the suffering of the sins of the world. You know, one of those small timers.
St. Bernadette again, just chillin'.

like a villian, well, maybe not. 

All you holy saints, pray for us!



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