Friday, January 31, 2014

Maintaining Peace and Reasons for Happiness - 7 Quick Takes

As they say, there is Always something to be grateful for.
Like the fact that in my part of the Midwest we have not suffered from the terrible weather like so many areas of the country have.
Prayers for the unprepared southerners who endured this mess.  And God bless the family who brought their newest little girl into the world in their vehicle on that Atlanta highway.  Cannot imagine.
As each day of this very, very cold winter goes by I am trying to have gratitude that it has not been as bad here as it could have been.  We really haven't had any snow or ice since right before Christmas.  Cold, yes, but no mess.  That could be changing this weekend however.
Taking Notice

I came out of a meeting of catholic school parents last evening to a cold but stunning night sky.  I was kind of walking slowly to the van, sauntering even, because I could sense a stillness and peace (and I wasn't much looking forward to homework checking either).  My eyes beheld such a scene of nighttime beauty as hundreds of thousands of stars shone their hope.  It gave me pause in which I imagined great things.  It was the darkness of that sky which enabled those stars to shine so brilliantly.  No matter the darkness we are all encountering in our world, the light shines brighter still.
" Never be in a hurry; Do everything quietly and in a calm spirit.  Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset."
-- St. Frances de Sales
The life of a mother does not lend itself to this kind of tranquility.  I used to think that.  About a year ago, however, upon reading this quote in a book, I decided to start trying really hard to stop rushing about so much and to stop rushing the kids as well. I didn't do this as much when they were all little. So, I made various efforts in this regard, which is it's own post maybe.  Although, I have not had perfect success because I am not a perfect person, I can say the rewards of the efforts have been huge.  It required leaving multi-tasking behind, but I have not regretted making these efforts.  The kids have responded positively as well. Even with unavoidably packed days, more days than not, it has been possible to go a bit slower and breathe more deeply.

Thanking God for Catholic Schools

Catholic Schools Week was this week and it was a time for being appreciative all over again for the kids' wonderful, faithful Catholic school.  When so many Catholic schools are closing around the nation we are beyond fortunate in our diocese to have thriving Catholic education that is affordable due to our system of stewardship. Hearing my very "all boy" 9 year old son, JP, tell about how he prayed in adoration for his twin sister who was home sick drove it home for me that we are so blessed to have this kind of education available.

 Go RCS Ravens!


Speaking of the school, it has been a funny, albeit, touching situation watching 12 year old daughter, BC, play basketball with her team this winter.   These girls have really done well considering this is their first year playing.  But, they are such caring girls that while playing they have been known to stop plays to check on a teammate who might have gotten hurt or shaken up or even to help a member of the other team up off the floor.  They got called out on this by a referee finally and they looked at him, shocked, that he could be so callous and non-understanding.  What's the big deal if the game was temporarily stalled anyway?  Sheesh - so their demeanors seemed to say. lol  Oh well, in the long run it's their virtue they'll need more than an aggressive 6th grade season.  That said, they're going into the tournament in 2nd place  :)


Around the house this weekend: 

~ 1st Saturday confession and meditation. Pizza and movie night after. 

~ picking up a couple of new candles and resupplying the tea.  There's still a lot of winter left and I rely on these kind of perk-ups.  I don't do well with too many of the gray days.

~ working on my closet / mudroom project some more.  I am adding the baskets this weekend and deciding what will and will not be allowed inside them.
~  giving away shoes I haven't worn since I went through a Bjorn phase. 
~ re-organizing the linen closet so the kids will stop grabbing sheets to dry off with after showers just because they don't want to pull them out of the way to find the towels.

~ making some fun food for a Superbowl Watch night...  bbq whiskey meatballs, buffalo chicken bites (both from Pioneer Woman's Holiday Cookbook) and some kind of cake which was Opa's  request.  We are going for Denver simply because one of my brothers and his family live in the Denver area.  Also, my son, JP, is a big Peyton Manning fan. 

Speaking of the Denver Broncos, the Archbishop of Denver is holding Mass with them before the game.  Very cool.  Watch out Seahawks.


Keeping Peace Quote

"Acquiring and maintaining interior peace, which is impossible without prayer, should consequently be considered a priority for everybody, above all for those who claim to want to do good for their neighbor.  Otherwise, more often than not they would simply be communicating their own restlessness and distress."
Fr. Jacques Philippe

In my life, at this season, I think most directly of my family as my neighbor.  I cannot give them what I do not have.  If I want their peace, and what mother doesn't, then it needs to live in me first.

Linked with Jennifer at


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter-time Seven Quick Takes

Winter - at least it can be pretty and there's hot tea
A little late posting this week...I'm not being a very faithful blogger as of yet, I'm afraid. 
 January has been so bitterly cold this year but we've felt the warmth of blessings and minor miracles.  Wednesday, the 22nd, we awoke to frosty windows painting lace etched designs with soft strains of morning sun shimmering through.  It was enough to remind me of God's presence for a brief, quiet moment.  Before "mom this or mom that".  Our morning went as usual - hustle and bustle of breakfast, teeth brushing, gathering backpacks and quick morning prayers. Before long we were dressed, bundled up in wools, scarves, gloves and ready to leave for our day.  We discussed the March for life and how much colder the marchers must be!  We decided to try to make some form of participation with our brothers and sisters in DC (as well as our own state capital gatherers).  Prayers were offered for the pro-life warriors and we began thinking of a sacrifice we could make to offer for the intention of protection of these littlest lives.  The following video is stirring and will make you feel so proud of our Christian brothers and sisters fighting the good fight!
This was one of our 9 buses that went from our diocese
When I remember to thank God again
When evening fell and we were all gathered back at home we decided to try to pull up some of the coverage on the internet.  So after dinner and dishes we went to you-tube and found that a big theme this year was adoption.  It was an  eye-misting-surprising- lump in the throat moment when MT says "our whole family is here because of adoption!"  As if she had just then realized that ;).
It's true, all four of these children of mine were inside an abortion clinic at one point or another in-utero before being saved by compassionate, praying people who helped the birth mothers see that there was another solution.  I still try to remember to pray often for their birth mothers.

They do grow fast - live every moment
My twins, MT and JP, turned 9 last Friday.  They are the "babies" of the family.  I am now realizing that my mother definitely knew what she was saying when she kept telling me how fast it would all go once all of them were past 5.  We had such a fun birthday night out for them - the whole family.  It will always be a special memory!
I love this quote about motherhood... so true
(found on Pinterest)
A Latin Mass
My dad had his 73rd birthday earlier this month.  He wanted nothing as far as gifts go.  He simply requested his favorite dinner (mom's famous enchilada dinner - special recipe passed down from my beautiful Gram).  He also asked if someone or anyone would attend a traditional latin Mass with him at the one parish that offers this on Sundays.  I told him I would attend with him as my gift to him.  Last Sunday dawned cold but bright and sunny and we made the little trek over to St. Anthony's parish in the downtown area.
Wow.  It was a longer Mass than usual but how beautiful!  I felt the majesty and transcendence of Jesus sacrifice on Calvary very powerfully.  I got a little emotional a time or two.  I was lost, yes, in trying to follow the missal, but I found that I was okay with that. 
Intercessory Prayer
.It's difficult at times, but worth it, this daily intercession. I don't doubt the power of prayer too often anymore.  I, like every mother, have my hands completely full but daily prayer for my family is like oxygen.  Totally necessary.  And how efficacious.  Help is at the ready and Heaven is near. We are all loved beyond our ability to comprehend.  Believe me on this.  I will relate experiences at a later time.
Family Dinner
These are not my Gram's (or Mom's) enchiladas, nor her special sauce, but these are very easy and good for a warm, ready dinner straight from the slow cooker:  layer in chicken breasts, enchilada sauce, taco seasoning, a bit of water, shredded cheese, green onions, and a little cilantro.  I cook it on low 7 hours, fork shred the chicken, and serve it with soft tortillas, and either chopped avocados on the side or Spanish rice.  Pinterest inspiration.  I love that time-wasting site too much.
Maintaining Peace of Heart - a crucial daily battle
This is a quote from the book entitled Searching For and Maintaining Peace by Fr. Jacques Phillipe...
"Very frequently, spiritual combat consists precisely in this: defending one's peace of heart against the enemy who attempts to steal it from us."
Have you ever noticed how many things come at you in one day?  How many poisonous thoughts, unkind people perhaps.  How many situations seem to become ridiculously / unnecessarily  complicated and stressful?
Take a deep breath and don't let yourself get sucked in.  If you do, when you realize it, look up and out, and say a quiet prayer.
My particular favorite is "Mary, Take Over". 

Cover yourself and your family everyday with prayer.  They are worth it.  Don't let red-legs have your inner peace.
God Bless.
Linked with Jennifer at

Saturday, January 11, 2014

7 Quick Takes

The January blahs have settled into some of the hearts in this family, as expected, but it isn't the children.  It has been me this week.  I'm urging myself on to taking cues from them as to how to keep seeing each cold, sunless, day as a day filled with life and potential - anyway.  In that effort, I've made a list each morning this week of all the things I love during morning prayer/quiet time (the Magnificat is a beautiful prayer booklet). I've tried more to allow the nice moments to sink in rather than rushing ahead thinking of the next minutes or hours or days. 
But I do love to plan the day in that early morning hour also, so there was compromise there.  I love watching the dawn creep in each morning, sun or no sun, while sipping that first cup of hot coffee ( w/ vanilla creamer).   I also really love the fresh hope of a new year. 

After morning Mass with the kids' school at our parish yesterday morning, I was on my way back out to the van when a nice woman put her arm around my shoulders and asked how our Christmas was.  I replied in the affirmative and she said how she always prays for me and my beautiful children.  I don't know her really at all except we are somehow connected because of our attendance at morning Mass and our parish family activities.  I was grateful all over again for the Church.  The rest of my day carried that blessing.
The same morning as I arrived at my school, less than 1/4 of a mile down the road from our parish and my children's catholic school, I was unlocking the door to go in and get ready for the students.  But I stopped in my tracks and had to pause to listen to the gorgeous bells from the church playing a sublime hymn.  It was ringing out over the valley, across the field, through a neighborhood, and right up through our school playground to the entrance doors.  It was a moment to savor.  Again, I was so thankful for faith, life, and the Church.
This gem has been my meditation these early mornings this first week back into the bustle after the peaceful Christmas holiday...
(pinterest photo)
I heard Fr. W. say today that Christmas goes on through Sunday, the Baptism of the Lord.  Perfect, because I still don't have our tree taken down or the ornaments packed away.  I'm not behind at all. 

Speaking of keeping up, my January project - the closet/mudroom - is coming along well.  I can already breathe better just imagining an end to that closet chaos.
I love Disney movie soundtracks way too much - ridiculous really.  But so much fun to sing along with while cleaning or puttering around the house.  I think it goes back to my high school/college days when I did show choir musicals.
This is from "Frozen"  (which the girls loved and the boys tolerated).  My little niece (Goddaughter) kept calling it "Freezing".  
I don't know, when she sings "open up the gates!", I just want to put my face to the sun and throw up my arms :)

Chin up

God bless you and keep you in 2014.
This is linked to the 7 Quick Takes at

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Thawing from the Arctic Blast...body and heart

It has been a bit chilly this week.  Chilly as in -2 wind chill factors!
The kind of cold that not even the kids enjoy.  It was too cold to even breathe without the breath turning to frost on your lips.
But the frosted trees and ice formations really were beautiful.  Also, there's the fact that any excuse for big mugs of hot chocolate is always welcome around here.  Hibernation tendencies set in, I think, because last night the entire house was quiet with slumber by 8:45!
So, like in life, nothing is ever all bad.  Right  ;)
The 30 degree weather today has felt like a big thaw.
Sometimes, it's a heart that we are praying will thaw.  Sometimes those  prayers seem endlessly unanswered.
The listless discouragement that can set in can be a heavy, dull weight on the soul.  This is a big part of my life's work right now, however.
Questions niggle at my mind... "is this even logical?"  According to the world, no.
But God's word says that nothing is impossible with God. 
"Are these prayers even making any difference at all?"
It would seem not likely.
And then God sends signs:  a dream that astonishes and powerfully sets a new path before you ( I hope to share eventually);
A sudden and unexpected word from a most unlikely relative;
Even an article that I ran across just today which resonated deeply and granted new courage to continue on doing the inexplicable and counter-cultural thing of standing in prayer for my family when all odds look to be against it.
Life is very interesting on all levels and never dull for a minute.
I will sign off this evening with a very easy and warming winter supper recipe.  This was our bowl of cheer this evening :)
White Chicken Chili - Crockpot
 (I double this for boy appetites)
2 boneless/skinless chicken breasts, frozen
1 can rotel
1 can corn, don't drain
1 can black beans, drained/rinsed or
1 1/2 c. white, northern beans (presoaked)
Seasonings to taste: cumin, chili powder, onion powder
1 packet of Ranch dressing mix
1 c. water or chicken broth
8 oz. cream cheese
Put the chicken breasts in first on the bottom (they can be frozen), put all other ingredients in with the cream cheese on the very top.  Put the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours.
Stay warm everyone and look for the beauty.

Friday, January 3, 2014

7 Quick Takes

Hello blog world.
Here are 7 quick takes 2 cents worth from my corner...
1.  We are slowly beginning the return to daily life and duties.  I am trying to maintain our Christmas peace and the great enjoyment we had reveling in our holiday break.  It's all good.  Christmas was wonderful with all our extended family, the festive food, the extra time to read, watch movies, and just hang out, but alas life calls.  School starts back on Monday.
2.  I've already begun the 1st project of the new year, driven by a sense of desperation.  I took some Christmas money and purchased some double pronged wall hooks, some attractive storage bins, and a large basket to turn our hall closet into a "mudroom".  Here's to hoping this will tame our crazy jumble of coats, gloves, shoes, etc.  Here is a picture of my inspiration...
3.  Also on this same blog is a beautiful, free, and downloadable 2014  planner/calendar!  I love new calendars :)
4.  St. Albert the Great is our family's saint for this year.  Already he has been so active in our home!  I think we scored big this year!  The kids weren't too enthusiastic about him at first, but now they are curious to learn more about him and hopefully see beyond what, to them, appeared as a somewhat boring man. 
5.  For New Years Day I made black eyed peas a new way since they've never been popular before in this household.  I simply sautéed some onions, peppers, and garlic and made a ham and bean soup with them.  Amazingly, we all loved it and got in our quota of "good luck black eyed peas"  for the new year.  My Grandma always said jokingly, but consistently..."no beans, no blessings."
6.  I heard about some scientific studies that had been done concerning the benefits to mind, body, and spirit from listening to Gregorian chant music.  It has even been shown to increase brain activity between the right and left brains, thereby increasing brain function, slow the heart rate, and calm the breathing, etc.   I have my own non-scientific, but very convincing, study on this beautiful music.  Years ago, when my oldest boy, SJ (now 15) was a baby, one of his autistic tendencies was that he absolutely hated his car seat.  He would begin crying the minute I put him in it no matter how comfortable I tried to make it.  One day in an attempt to soothe him I put in a cd of John Michael Talbo'ts chant. Within 30 seconds he quieted down and was content the rest of the ride.  After that I tried it again.  Magic.  I continued to play it every time we got in the car after that.  Everytime, upon the first note playing, the cries would immediately stop and would he would remain peaceful.  It was also effective at his bedtime.  He rolls his eyes now at the music when I play it and says it's "odd"  but I notice it still calms him, and all of us.  Below are pictures of the JMT cd we listened to and a our current favorite by the Benedictine nuns.
7.  My wish for you and yours this year... and for me and mine
"The Lord bless you and keep you!  The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!"
Numbers 6:24-26

This will be linked at

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Welcome 2014 - and a name for this year

I was intrigued by this idea of a name for the new year.
So I played around with the thoughts and words that came to me.  They were words like wholeness, happiness, new, and fresh that just kept jumping around in my mind.  I liked the themes I was gravitating toward.
Then a dream I had on the night of the 28th changed things.  I am not normally a vivid dreamer and I rarely remember my dreams.  It was vivid, positive in tone, and surprising to me in it's message.  Maybe later in the year as I continue to get my blogging feet wet again I will tell about my dream.  It's a story.
But my name for 2014 is going to be...
I really love this word.  It's so packed with potential and life.
Of course we will live out the rebirth of Spring when it gets here.
There will be rebirth spiritually during Lent.
Easter will bring rebirth with new graces and blessings.
My youngest, the twins, will experience rebirth in their souls with their first Holy Communion in the Spring.
New life will be born when my twin nephew and niece arrive in March.
And... should I even say it out loud?  I believe somehow that there will be rebirth in some form or fashion for this family of mine. We've weathered the tempest and are alive to tell the tale.  
I think I see the shoreline.   :)

Happy New Year ... and New Start for blog

For Auld Lang Syne...
May all the efforts and the forward impetus from last year continue on and bear even more fruit.
May all the sorrows from this last year be layed to rest as fertile soil for tomorrow's joys.
May all the grievances and grudges give way to forgiveness and compassion.
We're all human after all, and as the saying goes, all are fighting some kind of battle.
May all wounds heal and be today's new strengths.
May the good things left undone be gently accepted, humbly confessed, and become new motivation to try again to make each day count for God and for our fellow man.
Here's to 2014.  May it be a good one for all.