Friday, September 25, 2015

Christmas is Coming in 7QT

It is three months until Christmas.  I always bawk at the media hype about how many shopping days remain until the feast day of consumerism and gluttony arrives.  However, I do like to prepare, and part of my preparing is shopping early so that when the beginning of Advent rolls around I can focus on celebrating the season and preparing for the Christmas feast, instead of standing in line at the mall. Below is a list of some Christmas gift ideas that I would like to share.

Linking up with Kelly who has been having a whole lot of fun at the World Meeting of Families.

This post contains affiliate links.  If you click on the links and purchase something, I will receive a small rewards for my efforts.  This helps support our homeschool.  Thanks.

Do you remember the company that was raising funds to bring these beautiful dolls to fruition?  Well they are in production and will be ready for Christmas giving.  This beautiful St Therese doll is the perfect gift for the little girl in your life.  Be sure to look at the exquisite Sunday best dress, lovely accessories, and enchanting book.  Until October 3rd, use coupon code THERESE to save an 25% off of your order.  So many reasons to bring a Doll from Heaven home this holiday.
Nature Notebook Pages Bundle
How about giving the gift of exploring nature?  Harrington Harmonies has their notebooking bundle (affiliate link) on sale for only $17.95.  Pair it with some nice colored pencils (affiliate link) , and beautiful binder (affiliate link )for a truly unique gift.
$25 Gift Certificate
Have a homeschooling mom or inquisitive student in your life?  A Currclick gift card (affiliate link) may be the best gift.  Currclick offers live, hybrid, and self-paced classes (affiliate link).  Also, check out the wonderful lapbooks(affiliate link)  and e-books (affiliate link).  Need a little help getting organized?  There's a whole collection of planners (affiliate link).  Best of all it is all available instantly at very low prices
Give the gift of faith and fun with my Holy Sisters dolls.  Order three dolls and get one free, simply message me which doll you would like free after ordering.  Until October 25th, use coupon code CHRISTMASISCOMING for an additional 10% off your entire order.  While at Aurelius Cabrini, check out my min hat pins, baby bonnets, and boutonnieres, something for everyone on your list. 
Welcome to my newest venture--Young Living Essential Oils.  I am super excited to begin this business and help you care for your family naturally.  Give the gift of health and wellness this winter with Young Living products.  For only $41.25, you can give your loved ones a Basic Membership Kit plus a full sized bottle of some of the best selling oils including lemongrass, lemon, and cedar wood.  Plus your loved one receives wholesale prices and the opportunity to earn free products for an entire year.  Want to know more?  Visit my page, once we reach 100 likes, I am giving away a $10 gift certificate.
Visit Elizabeth's Novel Designs for the sweetest doll clothes based on classic literature.  Elizabeth is a homeschooled young lady with a bright smile and a whole lot of talent.  If you don't see what you want, feel free to message her and request a custom order. Maybe you could pick up an extra outfit for your St Therese doll from above!
In honor of Buddy, I am including a food option.  Thrive Market (affiliate link) is a great online store for everything natural and healthy.  They have amazing prices!  Stock up on a favorite snack or fill the stockings with nutritious food.  So much to chose from, you can get your shopping done in no time!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Works of Mercy Bouquet: Ransom the Captive

Ransoming the captive has changed in connotation over the centuries.  I still wonder what our obligation is as Catholics.  I don't feel it right to negotiate with terrorists, however, we are called to set captives free.  Not captives justly jailed because of laws broken, but those held prisoner by governments and individuals holding captives for political power, persecution, and exacting terror.

The Church was built by the blood of martyrs and the persecuted.  Today, the assault on Christianity is rampant.  The number of martyrs is growing exponentially and there are many who say this is the greatest age of Christian martyrs.  The persecution of Christians around the world is an overwhelming heartbreak and dire situation.  I would love to sit down with ISIS and convince them to ransom the captives of their reign of terror, however that is not realistic.  Because of all this, I have postponed writing this post, what could I do?  What can I tell my readers to do?  Then I saw an article asking for prayer for Pastor Saeed Abedini, and knew God wanted me to write this very imperfect post.

Seek out information on those held captive.  Captive doesn't always mean locked behind bars.  There are those who are held captive by fear by terrorists, or neglect by apathetic care givers.  Read updates on sites like The Voice of the Martyrs and International Christian Concern.  Become active in pro-life activities and organizations to bring a voice to those imprisoned without voices--the elderly, unborn, and disabled.  Information is power, and knowing the truth gives wings to those who cannot speak for themselves, educate yourself and share what you have learned.  This is how strength in numbers grows, and spotlights are shined in the darkest corners.
Sign petitions to set captives free and raise awareness.  If you need a place to start, go to human rights page and see what you can do to set a captive free.
Visit Free Pastor Saeed and read the story of an American citizen, jailed in Iran while building orphanages for three years for his Christian faith.  He is an American, and is still held captive, and he is not the only one!  Learn his story and share it, because if this poor man can be jailed for years, any of us can.  Do not let his story be forgotten, his wife and children need him home.
Support organizations on the ground ministering to people held captive by poverty, fear, and persecution.  Samaritan's Purse, Mary's Meals, and Operation Christmas Child take your gifts and bring them right to those most in need.  When choosing a charity, choose carefully.  Find one that puts its effort into serving, not all charities are created equal.
Lastly, PRAY.  Pray for the conversion of our enemies and the release of all captives.  This Saturday, September 26, 2015 marks three years of imprisonment for Pastor Saeed.  His wife and young daughters have asked for a day for prayer for his release.  Please pray at noon that this American husband, father, and Christian maybe set free, along with the countless prisoners of conscience around the world.  Pray for the persecuted that they may be ransomed and protected.
It is not that Pastor Saeed is more important than any other prisoner, it is that his story is the story of far too many prisoners, many that we will never know their names.  Please rally and pray on his behalf and for all the Pastor Saeeds that feel forgotten.  Thank you.
Linking up with Jenna.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Praying Us Home

I know that I have been MIA for a couple of weeks now. Please don't take it personally, school began, we are days away from closing on a new house, and efforts to clean out my parents' home have reached feverish level because we are rapidly running out of time.  Needless to say, free time has been an enigma of late.  However, I wanted to jump on to share a little something I wrote and say hi.  I hope to get up a couple of more posts this week--pray for me, there is too much to be done and not enough time to do it, but all things are possible with GOD!


The closing date on our new home is fast approaching and I can't stop thinking of my grandmother. The last time I visited her at home, she asked, "Dolly, did you find a house yet?"

I explained that we hadn't because all the ones in our price range weren't what we needed or needed way too much work. She patted my hand and kissed me, "I'm going to pray that you find a good house that is just what you need."
 A couple of months later, we had had a house hunting day set up but I wasn't in the mood to go.... My heart was too heavy from packing up my grandmother's treasures and visiting her home for the last time. I was ready to give up, we weren't finding what we wanted and had started looking out of state. But, we went for the appointment anyway. A house had popped up on our realtor's list at the last moment, once we had visited the ones we had originally planned, we headed there for a quick look to end the day. We arrived at that house and as soon as I walked in, I knew it was home.

We checked out the bathroom and it was bitter-sweet. It was so similar to my grandmother's and I had to fight back the tears as I remembered how my heart broke when I walked through hers the day before for the last time, it had always been my favorite room.

As we looked around the kitchen, something caught my eye. The curtains in the living room--the only curtains still up in the house--jogged my memory. As I had been cleaning out my grandmother's cedar chest, I kept coming back to this one pair of curtains. I didn't know why and couldn't figure out why they were speaking to me. They definitely weren't her prettiest curtains. After picking them up for the fifth time, I decided to take them and maybe I would figure out their significance later---and there they were, the same curtains!

My grandmother had prayed us into the perfect house for us. There were so many little things that reminded me of her. When Mama told you she would pray, it was a promise not a platitude. She embodied St Paul's call to pray without ceasing. She didn't pray when it was convenient and go on with her life--she prayed in spite of her life. I'm so thankful that my grandmother was willing to go the extra five miles past what would have been considered more than enough, that her children and grandchildren were her all, that she was there when she had better things to do or it wasn't easy for her, that she lived every moment of her life for everyone else. I'm thankful that she taught me that vacations, pedicures, new clothes, nice furniture, and splurges for me don't make a life worth it. It's giving all that you have and more to your family--that is the gift that lasts generations.

Bishop Barron always describes true love as the willing of the good of the other for the others' sake.  In other words, all is motivated by the benefit and cost to the other, the loved one, not measured by the benefit and cost to self.  By that definition, my grandmother was the truest human definition of true love I have ever known.

I miss my grandmother terribly, every day. This house is her last birthday gift to me. But, I know that she is still looking out for me, her Dolly and always will. If I ever amount to half the woman she was, I will have lived an extraordinary life.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

{p, h, f, r} The September 11th Edition

Where were you when the world stopped turning that September day?
 Alan Jackson pretty much captured my 9/11 experience. I was a teacher in a room of innocent children.  Although I worked in a rural school, it was only 55 miles from New York City and over 60% of our families had at least one parent who worked in the city. I drove to school and taught my lessons just like any other day.  When it came time for lunch, I considered eating it cold at my desk in order to catch up on work, but part of me felt restless and I decided to at least walk to the teacher's room to heat up my food, then come back and work.
I rounded the first corner and saw a father dressed in scrubs quickly leading his daughter out.  She looked up at him and kept asking, "But why do I have to leave?"  He replied that he had to go to work.  I really wondered what that father was thinking, I mean how do you pick up your child from school every time you need to work--they obviously needed a better child care plan.

As I waited for my turn in the microwave, I sat down to chat with some of the other teachers. Just then, our librarian came in.  She asked if we had heard about what had happened in the city.  None of us had. She said that a plane had hit the North Tower just about when school was starting.  I had to stiffle a snicker--all i could picture was a small two passenger plane on a joy ride and wondered how in the world one could miss the Twin Towers and fly into them. She continued, "Then a second plane hit, now it is gone, the whole thing is gone."

I dropped my fork and ran to the library.  There one of the TV's was broadcasting emergency breaking news.  I stood there in disbelief--how? How did this happen?  My jaw dropped open, I clenched my chest and cried out, "Oh, dear God, what has happened?"  I stood there a moment more, not knowing what to do.  I had only ten minutes left at this point, suddenly a horrifying thought flashed through my mind.  My Godmother's daughter was getting married in Washington, DC that weekend.  Tuesday was the day that the family was flying in from Colorado and New Jersey to get everything set.  The newscaster announced that there were many casualties at the Pentagon, there were fires and suspected bombs on the Mall, and at least fifteen planes were missing.
I ran to the office and waited in line to make a phone call.  The phone lines were jammed and cell phones were out.  I managed to get through to my Godmother's home on the third try.  As the answering machine beeped, my entire body began to convulse.  I tried to speak, but pure fear like I had never known washed over me.  All I could get out was, "Please call me!"  The world seemed to be ending and I had five more classes to teach.  I wiped off my cheeks, took several deep breaths, and walked back to my classroom.  I never had eaten lunch, and I was under strict orders to say nothing.  My heart was shattering and I felt completely incapable of properly taking care of my students--how could I protect them?

Throughout that long afternoon, student after student got called down to the office for pick up.  The children knew something was going on, but I couldn't tell them anything.  When my student whose two parents are pilots got called to the office, my heart sunk to my ankles.  I didn't know if any of these children were being called down to hear devastating news.  Our school staff was busy calling every parent to find out if they were safe.  No children would be released until their family had been found--I just didn't know if the ones being called down were the ones whose parents hadn't survived.  For hours, I had no idea what was happening in the world and I began to wonder if my little country school was all that remained of life as we knew it.

Amazingly, every parent was accounted for.  Although there were losses in the larger community and extended families, everyone of our students went home to their mom and dad.  After a day in the dark, I couldn't stop watching the news.  I was still trying to comprehend what had happened.  My brother, in college in Hoboken, NJ, had seen the smoke from the collapsing towers.  His best friend had watched from his Manhattan apartment the second plane hit the south tower as he called his father to let him know he was all right.  Phones were out, internet down, the only programming on TV was the news which was still confusing and sketchy.  I laid in bed, but did not sleep.  My heart ached, but tears could not come.

The next morning, I got up in a fog and got ready.  Life had changed, but we still did not know how much.  As I drove to work, Lee Greensburg's Proud to be An American came over the radio. The floodgates broke and I cried a thousand buckets.  I didn't know how I would get through the day, what I would say, how my students would be.  Suddenly, teaching French and Spanish vocabulary and grammar didn't seem to matter a whole lot.  Everyone was driving slowly, cautiously; not a single horn was heard.  My world was in mourning.

I dried off my tears and plunged ahead.  My students were shell shocked, lesson plans went out the window and we just talked.  They asked so many questions for which I had no answer to give.  By the end of the week I was depleted, but their homeroom teachers were so happy.  School had just started the week before, the homeroom teachers were still new to the students; but I had been there World Language teacher for two years already.  They spilled their entire hearts and souls to me.  The other teachers were relieved that they were talking, because none of the students wanted to talk in the other classes.


RMS Queen Elizabeth 2 in Trondheim 2008.jpg

My husband and I had been planning our wedding and honeymoon.  We decided to take a dream trip, sail over on Cunard Line QEII and then spend a week touring Ireland and England before flying home.  The brochure for this extravaganza arrived September 12th--I looked at it and told my fiancĂ©, "I just can't!"  We threw it into the trash and went back to the drawing board.  When it came down to it, the only place I felt safe was my own car.  We decided to drive to Nova Scotia and although it wasn't our dream vacation, it was wonderful and we are still happy we did it.

My wedding tiara came in that same week.  On Saturday, I drove to the post office, postcard in hand to claim it.  As I stood on a line of at least twelve people, I was stuck by the fact that it was dead silent. You could have heard a pin drop, the shock had not worn off--if anything it had deepened as the magnitude of the attack set in.  My Godmother made it safely to Washington, it had taken until Thursday to get through to her because even land lines crashed.  The wedding was on, with less than half the guest able to make it.

My then fiance and I joked that we should just get married right then and there, all the dinners were paid for and details set.  After all, I had my tiara, what else could I need? A double wedding what could be better??  It was the levity we needed.

That day is as real today as it was in the moments I lived it. I know that it affected our entire nation, but in my area it hit us personally.  Everyone knew at least two people who had narrowly escaped, and another who never came home.  Every conversation for years, came back to that day.  We needed to talk about it.  It still comes up, but once we hit ten years past, it stopped coming up as often.

As a political science major with a concentration in International Studies, I had heard the rumblings.  I saw the signs.  I knew something was coming, never could I had imagined this.  I spent my junior year abroad and my year right after graduation working three blocks from the White House.  My friends who were also involved in political science, saw it too.  We talked about the warning signals and wondered what it meant.  I wish we had known enough to have been able to stop it.

The world is rumbling again, even louder than fourteen years ago.  Yet, so many are ignoring it.  We have forgotten how it felt to know terror and fear.  We have forgotten what it is like to have our country attacked and not know what will happen next.  We have been blessed with an eerie peace that isn't really peace, but isn't really war.  We have become complacent and once again think it could never happen here.  When I lay awake at night, prayerfully wrestling with the happenings of our current day, I remember those sleepless nights when I just wanted to close my eyes and "pretend it didn't happen"  but I laid awake unable to make my mind forget.  I beg God that my children will never know terror, that He will preserve us from the wolf at the door.  There are many events that I still remember, but 9/11 is one I will never forget!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Urgent Call to Prayer!! Please Pray Along with Me

I have hosted a Novena of Novenas before.  I think it is time we do so again.  The conditions for Christians in the Middle East are beyond horrendous! When the photos were released of the Holocaust, the world vowed, never again!  Yet, photos are flooding out of the largest and most vicious genocide ever, and our world is waiting and watching in silence. 

Syrian Christians are on the cusp of mass slaughter, already displaced and starving, they now face certain death at the hands of ISIS. Am I being over dramatic?  I think not. I think that there are no real words to explain to horror.  We have been inundated by such horror of late, we are paralyzed, overwhelmed by the onslaught of endless evil and darkness.

I am begging you all to pray a Novena of Novenas for the Christians under attack by ISIS and for a sincere conversion of not only our enemies, but our nation at well.  Pray for God to break our hearts and bend our knees.  We have no hope left, but our LORD.

Here is how to join in:

Pray the Memorare nine times a day for nine days.

Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, 
but in thy mercy hear and answer me.

Pray the St Michael Prayer each day and after every Mass

St. Michael the Archangel,
defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray,
and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts,
by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan,
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

Pray the Holy Spirit Prayer each morning and night

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.

O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.

Lastly, share this prayer request as far and wide as you can. We must awaken the giant and begin to fight the evil in our midst.  Our world is becoming very dark, let us shine our lights in the darkness!