Thursday, April 26, 2012

All I Want Is You

 You know, when the Lord decides to take some things away from you, you expect to be miserable. And everyone around you, expects you to be miserable. "How can you do without such-n-such? You must be miserable." He is smarter than we are, though. He knows that all we really want is Him.

But we don't know that sometimes. Sometimes we say silly things to ourselves like "No, all I really want, is chocolate." or "No, all I really want is a beach house in Tahiti." or "No, all I really want is to be a hermit." or "No, all I really want is a big screen T.V.". Take it all away though, and suddenly, there's clarity like you've never had. Your soul breathes a deep sigh, looks up and finally says, "Oh!! All I really want, is you Lord!"

I have been having moments like that lately. And the other day, while my ipod was on shuffle, I love putting my ipod on shuffle. It's like turning that big wheel on Wheel of Fortune or the Price is Right (am I showing my age?). Anyway, it was on shuffle, and this song came on:

It might shock you to know, that I didn't really know this song very well until my husband's music library was merged with mine after being married. I just didn't listen to a lot of secular music growing up. I'm sure I had heard the song on the radio at some point, I think I heard it in a movie, but never really listened. My husband played it for me one night while we were fighting  talking in the car. I was honestly being stubborn, and he was reaching out to me. He either played it on purpose or it came on at an opportune time, and he reached out and grabbed my hand and just looked at me, it worked.

Now I was hearing it for the second time, but this time, God was reaching out to me. It was a love letter and a little reminder of what I was made for, or rather, whom I was made for.

He is Beauty
He is Truth
He is Goodness
He is Mercy
He is Mystery
He is Glory
He is Desire
He is Majesty
He is Infinite
He is indescribable Joy
He is Love

Do you know what you want?

"Scarcely had I passed them, when I found him whom my soul loves. I held him, and would not let him go..." Song of Solomon 3:4

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Homeschooling is For Big Kids (Like Me)

(For those who follow by e-mail, I accidentally published this without pictures. Oops. So, here's the finished product!)

I was an AP Art student in high school. It was honestly my favorite part of high school other than plays. We would go into the art studio and were given a space, an easel, and had an hour to create, paint, and just forget the world for a while. I don't have an hour anymore, or an art studio, but there are times that the "artiste" deep within can no longer be stifled. It resurfaces in unexpected places. Sometimes for the kids' scripture memory verses, we sit on the couch, project the iPad onto the T.V. And I start doodling. You heard me. Doodling. Sometimes, when I am feeling generous, I allow them to doodle as well.
"Be patient, bearing with one another in love." Ephesians 4:2
The smiley chap to the left is holding a bomb, the one on the right? on his knees.
Homeschooling is For Big Kids (Like Me)
"Keep my commands and you will live." Proverbs 4:4
The poor fellow on the ground in a blue jumpsuit did NOT keep God's commands.
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord."
"What is impossible with man is possible with God." Luke 18:27

"God loves a cheerful giver." 2nd Corinthians 9:7

 And who wants a plain old smiley face on your math book when you can have.....

Lent Girl
(Notice the patched and torn dress for the occassion)

Advent Girl
(equipped with Advent wreath hat)
Christmas Girl
 And how can you possibly learn how to spell sight words without some illustration?
"Can we go too?!"

And many, many, more examples than you care to see. 
Happy Doodling. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Tag, You're It! 11 Things About My Life

One of my blogger friends, Jamie at A Rough Diamond tagged me in this game so, why the heck not! Join the fun. I am a rule follower so...   

Here are the rules set by Jamie:
1.  Post these rules.
2.  Post a photo of yourself and then write 11 things about your life. (I didn't see this on Jamie's so, I just assumed the 11 questions following were the 11 things about you)
3.  Answer the questions for you set in the original post.
4.  Create 11 new questions and tag people to answer them.
5. Go to their blog/twitter and tell them you have tagged them.

Here are the questions Jaime posted and my answers:

1.  What is your most vivid dream? 
Hmm, I think perhaps the one where I was falling off the face of the earth, and holding on to nothing but some glass vases that were embedded in the edge. Took me half a day to get over that one, age 5? 

2.  When you want to feel comfortable, what outfit do you put on?
My pajama pants with the pink sunglasses all over, and some comfy cotton top.

3.  When you are alone, do you turn on the TV, open a book, or sit at the computer? 
I think none of the above. I listen to music and dance as a form of prayer.

4.  What family member are you most like and what about you is similar? 
Hm, I am like my dad in that I am strong willed, but like my mom in that I don't like big parties and prefer small intimate gatherings, and relish alone time. I guess that makes me an introvert. 

5.  What song makes you think of 7th grade? Seriously? I got nothing. 

6.  How did you meet your spouse? I was performing in a worship dance group at his church.

7.  Mountains or beach? Beach, definitely.  

8.  You need to relax.  Where in your house do you go? 

My bedroom, every other room is taken over by children.

9.  What is your favorite form of exercise? Dance

10.  How many houseplants do you have? None, and if they want to live they best not live here.

11.  How much time do you devote to reading/commenting/blogging per week? I try, (key word being try) to fast from, (that is refrain from) facebook and blogging 3 days a week. Sometimes I find "emergency" reasons though, like "Susy Q may need me desperately and the only way I connect with her is through facebook, and she could be dying this very minute!" On the not-fasting days, I don't count, but I should. 

Here are my questions for you!
1. What was your favorite stuffed animal?
2. What was your first memory of experiencing God in a profound way?
3. In heaven, what will your dream-home be like?
4.Do you ever just shop for yourself in stores anymore? Where?
5.What did you think you were going to be when you grew up? 
6. Favorite Saint? (I know it's hard for some of you so, one of your favorite saints will do)
7. Food you absolutely still cannot eat?
8. If you could live in any time period, where would you best fit in?
9. What flower are you?
10. Favorite memory of your grandmother or grandfather?
11. Favorite meal at a restaurant?

I guess I am tagging.... Julie, CariSarah, and Dwija.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

First Communion Day

It pains me to say that the only thing I remember about my first communion is that I got to wear open-toed shoes for the first time and that I did NOT want to walk down the aisle with Phillip, another boy in the group, for fear it would appear we were getting married.

It was after reading St. Thérèse of Lisieux's "Story of a Soul" in her account of her first communion, that I realized it is possible for a child to understand the magnitude of this great gift (to a certain degree) and make ready their heart to receive Him with great reverence, excited anticipation, and joy.

I have since apologized to the Lord profusely for my lack of all of the above in my own childhood experience, and he has given me ample opportunity so far to do it right the next time around. I have had the great privilege of preparing my 1st, 2nd, and now 3rd child to receive Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion. Today was her day, and also happened to be her patron Saint's special feast day, Divine Mercy Sunday.

People were barefoot, pillows were being thrown (well not in this picture), and diapers needed changing about the time we needed to be in the car, but I did get to read this to her from St. Thérèse on her first communion:

"Ah, how sweet was that first kiss of Jesus! It was a kiss of love; I felt that I was loved and I said 'I love you, and I give myself to you forever!' There were no demands made, no struggles, no sacrifices; for a long time now Jesus and poor little Thérèse looked at and understood each other. That day, it was no longer simply a look, it was a fusion; they were no longer two, Thérèse had vanished as a drop of water is lost in the immensity of the ocean. Jesus alone remained; He was the Master, the King....She felt so feeble and fragile that she wanted to be united forever to the Divine Strength! Her joy was too great, too deep for her to contain, and tears of consolation soon flowed..."

I also asked my husband to find some first communion quotes from one of her patron saints, and we included these from the Diary of St. Faustina on a note to her from us with her gift:

"Today after Holy Communion, the Lord told me, My daughter, My delight is to unite myself with you. It is when you submit yourself to My will that you give Me the greatest glory and draw down upon yourself a sea of blessings. I would not take such special delight in you if you were not living by my will." 

"Today, I am preparing myself for Your coming as a bride does for the coming of her bridegroom. He is great Lord, this Bridegroom of mine. The heavens cannot contain Him. The Seraphim who stand closest to Him cover their faces and repeat unceasingly: Holy Holy, Holy."

After a week of skipping around with "I can't WAIT for my First Communion!", I was surprised by her behavior all day. She was quiet, solemn, and introspective. But, when asked if she was ok she answered in a bit of a dreamy far off response, "Yes." with a sweet smile.

She was so grateful for every little moment. My children teach me so much.

 You are my inheritance, O Lord.
First Communion Day

                         You will show me the path to life,

fullness of joys in your presence,

the delights at your right hand forever.
You are my inheritance, O Lord.   

Psalm 16

Friday, April 13, 2012

7 Quick Takes Friday, # 4

 Loads of fun today for all. My list for cleaning the house. Again. I have found that making a detailed list of everything that has to happen is the easiest way to get the kids (and me) to stay on task. I honestly don't clean the house this often, but this weekend is Princess' First Communion Party. 

  Notice the last step. 

I made a homemade furniture polish today because I can't tolerate ordinary cleaners.
Olive Oil and lemon juice. 

I got the idea from this book.

Watching Elmo during lunch break.

Angel Boy was watching a show with this in it. 
and everyone including me, has either been singing it outloud or in their head all day, ever since. 

Making a banner and special bracelet for their sister in preparation for her First Communion.

For more "7 Quick Takes Friday" go to Conversion Diary.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

How to Tell if Your Child Might Have SPD

How to Tell If Your Child Might Have SPD

I decided to write about my 5 year old son today, specifically about the challenges he deals with and the signs we could have recognized way earlier, if we had even known what it was. Maybe it will help someone else.

Sensory Processing Disorder, is a disorder that is not commonly recognized right now as it is a fairly new diagnosis. So unless you study up on it yourself, or get lucky and find someone who knows a lot about it, you may not be aware of it.

SPD is a disorder of the senses and all the ways that we process the world around us through them. The trick about it is, there are MANY different forms, and sometimes your child may share cross-symptoms with more than one type. At least that has been our experience. Please look here for more info on the different types of SPD.

I have to say though, that when I first began studying all the different types, my head began to swim. One minute I was thinking, "He does that ALL the time!" but another, "He NEVER does that." I began to see that he had many of the symptoms overall, and not just one type. Here are some things to look at. Because I am dealing with a boy I will ask questions from that perspective, but both girls and boys can have SPD:

1. Does your child hate grooming activities? Does he pull away from brushing of teeth and hair? Does he scream during shower rinsing?

2. Does he seem to lick and put his mouth on everything?

3. Did potty training take FOREVER? Does he still have a hard time with getting dressed, putting on socks and shoes etc. when he should have it down by now?

4. Does he seem to lack coordination or show no interest in learning to do things like, throw/catch a ball, ride a bike, anything that involves coordination of limbs?

5. Does he seem to melt down in public often? Especially in places that involve much sensory input, such as museums, theme parks, water parks, etc.

6. Does he LIVE for water? Play in it forever and make huge messes in it?

7. Does he also seem to LOVE activites with constant motion? like swinging or dancing?

8. Has he destroyed your house? :) By swinging on things and crashing into things? or ripping up things?

9. Does he thrive on consistency? more than an average child? Does he freak out when you change something on him, or show great resistance?

10. Does he seem to like unusual foods for a child, things that are sour or spicy in particular?

11. Does he seem to have a hard time getting along with siblings or schoolmates? Does he hit alot, and plunge himself into other kids, or is a little too touchy?

12. Does he seem to either get hurt alot without coming to you, or not know he is hurting you or someone else?

The most confusing part about my child's SPD is that he seems to exhibit opposing types of symptoms. He seems to HATE some types of sensory input and not be able to get enough of other types. So it helps to study this information. And remember not to put your child in a box.

What Having an SPD Child Has Done For Me

1. Taught me to have compassion for other parents with misbehaving children.

2. Taught me not to judge them.

3. Taught me to be more understanding of the challenges he deals with daily. His OT told us one time, "You know that feeling you get when you have just been in a wreck and you are running on adrenalin in crisis mode? He functions like that most of the time."

4. Reminded me that every person is unique, and that our weaknesses can be made strengths with God's grace. I believe one day, as my 5 yr. old plunges into the couch and into water, he will plunge into life, and God's plan for him and never look back.

5. God has given me the most affectionate child on the planet. When he runs to hug me, I have to brace myself, or he will knock me to the ground. He climbs on me, kisses me, pats me so hard it hurts, and loves the absolute heck out of me. And I wouldn't change him for all the world.

6. Stretched me. I can not put my son in a box. I can not discipline him as I have in the past, teach him as I have my other children, hold him to the same expectations, or do the same old thing I have always done. But he is teaching me. a lot.

Helpful websites:

Helpful book which I still have not finished:

The Out of Sync Child

Book I want to put on my wishlist:

Sensational Kids

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Easter Monday Glow-in-the-Dark Party

5 kids in a bathroom with glow-in-the-dark bracelets from their Easter baskets. You know you wish you were there. 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Happy Easter!

He is Risen?
(and all God's people said, "He is risen indeed!")

The Catholic Church considers Easter a season, not just one day. As my pastor put it today, "We can't possibly contain all the joy of this event in just one day, so we spread it out for 8, and then continue to celebrate for another 50 until Pentecost Sunday."

Easter Sunday is a bit of a marathon at our house. On Holy Saturday, my husband and I organized, labeled, and stuffed Easter eggs into the wee hours of the night for the hunt.

It may sound nuts, but we color code the eggs so each child will get equal amount of eggs, and no fights. My husband who came up with this idea a couple years ago, really is a genius. And we can say, "ok, when you find your 20 eggs you're done!"

So it is, Easter Mass (I love it when they pull out the trumpets, and I absolutely LOVE Easter hymns, but I am honestly still a little disturbed by the man in front of me with the bright pink trousers).

I managed to get a picture in front of the only flowers we have on our property before mass.

When we pulled up in the driveway returning home, there was this unexpected chalk drawing.
"He is Risen!" 
We speculated about who on earth had done it?! Turns out some good friends of ours were making surprise visits around the neghborhood. A Great idea!

Then Easter brunch, cooked by zee resident chefs.

I made some "faux" donuts this year, that were all-natural, yeast, gluten, sugar, and dairy-free. Actually, they were pretty good. We consumed 22 of them in just one day. Good thing they were sugar-free, right?

Then the baskets are lined up, a thing of beauty.

Then they enter and disassemble the beauty.
Then their daddy hides about 5 million eggs while they play with their basket toys.

Then we turn them loose.
Happy Easter!

Then we come inside and tell them to leave us alone and go practice the virtue of silence do alot more bonding as a family, reading Easter stories and singing songs and such.

Then we pack up food to go to Grandmommy and Dee Dee's house....which is a little like going to Disney World. Almost. There are toys galore that they don't have to clean up, and gourmet food in ample supply. See what I mean?

Then we come home and pass out.

As I reflect back on the day, my favorite part was when my husband set up the camera filming them as they came in to see their baskets for the first time. My husband and I just sat there together and watched them for a long time. Total bliss for us, to see their excitement and joy and to see them sharing in it all together.

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2012

"Mommy why?" Part Deux, Good Friday

(Priest and deacons enter, and lie prostrate before the altar and cross for several minutes)


"Mommy, why are we here?"
"Because we want to show Jesus how thankful we are for the wonderful thing he did for us on the cross."
"Oh, yea!! Wait, what did he do?"
"He suffered and died so you could go to heaven."
"Mommy why are there no candles?"
"Because we are fasting today, not just from food, but anything that gives us comfort. Jesus is suffering and sad, so we are loving him by being sad with him."
"Why is he sad?"
"Because there are people who don't love him, and he died for them."
"Yea, and his blood makes him sad too."
"Mommy why is there no music?"
"For the same reason there are no candles. We are fasting."
"We are going up to kiss the cross now."
"Mommy, I'm really, REALLY thirsty, and this hurts my throat."

John 19:28
After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said ( to fulfill the Scripture), “I thirst.”

From St. Faustina's Diary:

During Holy Mass, I saw the Lord Jesus nailed upon the cross amidst great torments. A soft moan issued from His Heart. After some time, He said, I thirst. I thirst for the salvation of souls. Help Me, My daughter, to save souls. Join your sufferings to My Passion and offer them to the heavenly Father for sinners. (1032) 

For "Mommy why?" Holy Thursdayclick here.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

"Mommy, why?" on Holy Thursday

(standing next to me on tippy toes, all in whispers...)

"Mommy, what is he doing?"
"He's using incense."
"Because it is supposed to remind us that this is a solemn, sacred time."

"Mommy, why are they ringing bells?"
"Because we are singing The Gloria for the first time in Lent, and it is supposed to get us excited about Easter."

"Mommy. why are they speaking in spanish now?"
"Because tonight we celebrate Holy Thursday together, the Spanish and English speaking people."

"Mommy, what is that clinking noise?"
"It is supposed to remind us of the nails that pierced Jesus."

"Mommy, that's alot of priests!"
(My thoughts: Beautiful, set apart for him, consecrated, with the power to consecrate the bread and wine...)

"Mommy, do you think Jesus was baptizing them when he washed their feet?"
"He was teaching them what it would mean to be a priest, that they must become a servant to everyone."

"Mommy, why are they walking with Jesus and that tent?"
"Because they are taking Jesus out of the church to remind us that his passion begins tonight. and Jesus is a special king, so he gets a special tent."

(As we kneel to pray and "wait" with the Lord....)
5 yr. old: "Mommy, I'm tired of saying "Jesus I love you." I'm hungry and tired."
"Me too, baby, we are almost done."

And so it was in the garden of Gethsemane, over 2000 years ago.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Hound of Heaven

One of my favorite principles in the formation, Disciples of Jesus and Mary, is that we are all unique. Each of us are made for God in our own unique way. We are all called to follow a unique path to holiness and ultimately to Heaven. God also chooses to speak to us in specific ways custom fit for our individual souls. What reaches my heart may do nothing for you, and vice versa. Do not misunderstand me, I do not mean to say there is not an absolute truth that we are all bound to. There is only one God, one Church, one Way. But God is infinite, and being made in His image, there are an infinite number of ways we can relate to Him and Him to us.

I have discovered over a long period of time, that God most effectively reaches me through music and art.
I can be running away from Him in all directions, in my mind, heart, and my soul, but then out of the blue, he invades my personal space, with a song. It is like he grabs my face in his hands turns it towards His and says, "I am here! and I am still talking to you!". Suddenly all my walls begin to crumble and we can pick up again where we left off.

Today was Palm Sunday. It was a beautiful day, but there was a giant cloud over my spiritual head. This has been frequent throughout this season of Lent. There have been trials, deserts, temptations, and some seemingly unanswered prayers. Yea Lent! Whenever it comes around, I have such conflicting feelings. "Oh no! not scheduled, intentional, mortification and penance!" and "Oh yes! an intensification of the Liturgy in all its glory, more touching, tasting, hearing, and seeing our living Faith!" and by the end of Holy Week, it is ALWAYS worth it.

But as I said, spiritual cloud, and these are the songs that God sent my way. This morning at mass we sang this song, It has always been my favorite Lenten hymn:

Glory be to Jesus,
Who, in bitter pains,
Poured for me the lifeblood
From His sacred veins!

Grace and life eternal
In that blood I find;
Blest be His compassion,
Infinitely kind.

Blest through endless ages
Be the precious stream
Which from endless torments
Doth the world redeem.

Abel's blood for vengeance
Pleaded to the skies;
But the blood of Jesus
For our pardon cries.

Oft as it is sprinkled
On our guilty hearts,
Satan in confusion
Terror struck departs.

Oft as earth exulting
Wafts its praise on high,
Angel hosts, rejoicing,
Make their glad reply.

Lift we then our voices,
Swell the mighty flood,
Louder still and louder
Praise the precious blood!

Then as I was cooking lunch with my husband, I heard this song, written from the perspective of the good thief on the cross next to Jesus:
If you don't take the time to listen to this beautiful song, here are the lyrics, but these are my highlights:
Deep within this man I hang beside is the place where shame and grace collide
And it’s beautiful agony that He believes it’s not too late for me

This is how Love wins, every single time
Climbing high upon a tree where someone else should die
This is how Love heals, the deepest part of you
Letting Himself bleed into the middle of your wounds

What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood
What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood, nothing but the blood
Because this is what Love say, standing at the door
You don’t have to be who you’ve been before
And silenced by His voice, death can’t speak again
This is how Love wins.
Seeing a theme yet? Then as I was driving back from the Y, I heard this song:

It amazes me how relentlless God is. You know the part of Michelangelo's Creation ofAdam where Adam is making VERY little effort to reach out to God, and God is stretching like heck to get to Adam? 
The Hound of Heaven

Why does He do this?! It astounds me. We are really, just, so not worth the effort. But He seems to think so. I for one am so grateful, that He always pursues me. And reminds me, that He will never stop doing it. 
There is a beautiful poem written by Francis Thompson called Hound of Heaven in which he describes God pursuing him in all of his wanderings.

I am at a loss as to why, but for some reason, He wants us. Desperately. Not only that, Scripture says, He is jealous for us. And wants our entire heart for Himself. 

May you be relentlessly pursued by the Hound of Heaven!     

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