Thursday, March 31, 2016

{p, h, f, r} The Triduum Edition

Blessed Easter to all of you.  Was it a joyous one? I hope so. Here is a little peak at our Triduum.

It is kind of hard to put these pictures in categories without mixing up the chronology, and this is a bit of a photo dump, but I assure you that there is plenty of prettiness, happiness, humor, and realness throughout.  So I am linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter anyway.

Holy Thursday

Buddy volunteered to have his feet washed on Holy Thursday.  He was so excited, he didn't even complain about having to wear dress clothes multiple times that week and voluntarily put on a tie.

It was a little hard to photograph, even in the front pew, but I did my best.  Despite the good natured jeering of Father J that I am "such a mom" for photographing his feet being washed.  I don't know what St Peter would have thought, but my heart was in the right place.  We are going to include the photos in Buddy's First Communion notebook, seems very appropriate.

 So, the end of Holy Thursday Mass is something I have always wanted to photograph.  However I am actually very timid to take pictures in church and am not a stellar photographer.  So, these photos do it no justice.  At the end of Mass, Father, accompanied by the associate priests, deacons, and altar boys, processes the Blessed Sacrament throughout the entire church as the Benediction is sung.   At the end of Benediction, the procession continues to the atrium of the church where an altar of repose is set up.  The priests, deacons, and altar boys kneel around the repository and pray for a short time.  They then depart in silence.  What a beautiful sight to behold three priests, three deacons, and six altar boys all kneeling in adoration.  I wasn't brave enough to catch that on film.  Maybe next year.  Once the clergy have left, parishioners take turns, silently, going to the kneelers to pray and then depart.  The church remains open until 10:30 for silent prayer.  It is one of my favorite experiences of the year.

Good Friday

  I always joke on Good Friday that I should have just pitched a tent on the parish lawn and slept over.  It seems we hardly get home and we are heading back up.  Good Friday morning, Buddy and I assisted Tenebrae and then began preparations for the Children's Stations of the Cross.  I totally forgot about taking pictures of Tenebrae.  It was truly beautiful.  The large candles, the priests and deacons dressed in white with red stoles.  However, I forgot--must be the lack of sleep from a certain little man, who shall remain nameless, that has taken to waking frequently in the night to cry for hours.  sigh...

Anyway, once Tenebrae was over, one of my other favorite experiences of the liturgical year, Buddy and I began sorting costumes, setting out props and readying the church for the living stations.  We have been a part of Children's Station since Cowgirl was three.  I have been running the program for the past six years.  It is a lot of work, but always worth it in the end.  I plan on posting a Children's Stations how-to tomorrow.   

One of the most striking parts of Good Friday for me, though, is the empty tabernacle, the missing lamp, the open repository. "My LORD is gone and I do not know where to find Him!"

It always gets me thinking of what if that were the end.  What if there were no Easter?  How desolate a life it would become.

Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday was a work day, trying to catch up on everything that hadn't gotten done during the week of practices and church services.  I had planned to go up to Tenebrae that morning and usually do, but I was just too tired after another rough night to make it.  Instead, we worked on the garden, cleaned up the house and made some special foods to bring to Easter dinner.

Here are some photos from my preparations, before I headed to bed that night.  Thankfully the kids only peeked in our room fifty times to wake us up let us sleep until 7:15.  The baskets were enjoyed.  I will post soon about what was in there.  I am being paged right now from the shower, so I have to run.

How was your Holy Week?

Friday, March 25, 2016

When the Answer is No

This is a post that I hoped I would not have to write, but His Ways are not our ways.  His Plan is perfect even when it is not the plan we would every choose for ourselves or our loved ones.  Thank you all who have joined me in praying for James Fischer--praying, pleading, begging for a miracle. I know that God could have just spoken a word and James would have awoken, completely healed.  He could have easily reached down and performed a mighty miracle.  Our God is completely capable, capable beyond our highest of thoughts and our wildest of dreams.  But...sometimes the answer is no.  Sometimes the yes and the miracle that we are pour our heart and soul into obtaining isn't the one that is what we should seek.

God has healed James in the most profound and complete way possible.  His broken body and fallen nature are now completely whole.  There is no more pain, there are no more tears, no disappointments, no longings, no regret from missteps or bruises from tumbles along the way.  With God there is only peace and love.  With Him, there is only truth and justice--sorrow and lies have fallen away.  This new dawn for James is one of perpetual light.

Yet, we are hurting.  It does not make sense, it seems so wrong!  With all the faith and hope, there are still questions and disappointment that our prayers were not answered in the way of our choosing.  I do not know why it was Charlie and Bill's son who was involved in that horrific crash--why them, why doting parents, fervent believers, model citizens.  I do not know why it was James whose life was cut so short--a young man so full of promise, hard work, and compassion for his family and all those he met.  Why God?  Why him?  Did he not prove his work ethic? Did he not serve you enough?  Did you not see how the love for him overflowed from his parents' hearts?  Do you not know how desperately they will miss him, how badly they need him home?

Sometimes God's no is a yes in disguise.  Losing James will be that hardest road his parents ever walk.  Yet, there are fates worse that death.  While we hope for years of life here on this earth, we all hope for life eternal after our death.  A life lived basking in God's Glory for all eternity is not a defeat, it is a tremendous reward.  James lived a life of faith and good works, though his tangible life has ended, there is hope that his soul lives on in peace and joy forever and ever, amen.

Death hurts so much on this side of heaven, because it was never meant to be.  How it grieves Our Father, also.  He wished for us to live in tranquility and plenty all the days of our lives, a life without end, without grief or bloodshed.  However, sin entered His paradise and a fallen world has become our plight.  Death has not won, though. Hell shall not prevail.  In His perfect, adorable Plan, God provided for our ungrateful misdeeds and won for each of us a share in His eternal Kingdom.

This is the day that the LORD sacrificed His only Son for us.  How terribly he must have wept to watch His Beloved Son suffer so heinously.  How truly pierced was the heart of His mother, who surely begged for a miracle to save her only Son.  Yet, through that terrible tragedy the greatest victory of creation was won, the gates of heaven were opened once more that none should perish.

There still are no words to take this hurt away, no consolation that will act as a balm for the hearts who loved James.  All there is is hope in our eternal inheritance and faith that God is in control and He has already won.  Death has been vanquished.  The overwhelming sting of loss is conquered by the endless mercy and depth of compassion that is Our LORD.

Our answer was no...but the LORD has still won, may He heal our hearts, in time, and comfort all our afflictions.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

URGENT Prayer Request

Please dear friends, pray for James Fischer, a young man in need of a miracle.  I know his family well and my heart is breaking for them.  Please pray with all you have and pass this along. Thank you!

From his brother:

Hello to all of my brothers and sisters in Christ. My name is Karl William Fischer and I attended two youth power invasion missions trips in 2012 and 2013. Today I am calling upon your help and prayer. My 18 year old brother James Fischer was involved in a severe car accident last night at 9:00 PM. He is now in critical condition. He has suffered severe brain trauma, a broken neck, severe spinal injury, multiple broken ribs, and two broken hips. We are being told that he will never walk again, he may not retrieve his upper body functions, and he may never wake up. That is what a doctor of this world told my family as we cried out to God in my brother's hospital room. I believe in the doctors of heaven who are at war with the legions of hell. I have churches around the state of NJ praying for him but it is not enough. I need your help. Please spread the word about my brother and help us restore him. Focus your prayers on his brain, neck, and spine. I am begging you, cry out to God and pray for the restoration of my brother. I am forever in your debt.

Teaching Vocations through Family Part 1

This is the first part of a new series on teaching vocations.  I hope that this will help you in your walk of faith and in helping your children find God's Call for their lives.  Thank you.

In the Beginning
The family is the very core of Creation.  In the beginning, the LORD, Our Father, spoke the words of creation, which were sent forth by the Spirit, the Holy Spouse, in order to bring forth life.  All creatures were brought forth into families--male and female together for the propagation and rearing of offspring.  God's crowning jewel of Creation was the first family, Adam and Eve who were instructed to go forth and multiply and fill the earth with their children.  Family is the heart of all that we believe, so it is no wonder that every vocation is rooted in the context of family.

When we speak of raising our children for vocation, most often that implies the holy vocations of the priesthood, and holy sisters and brothers.  However, every child is created and called for a specific vocation.  Every child is sent forth by the Father to construct a family in this world and to lead that family into the Heavenly realms of the next.

Marriage was the first vocation instituted by God.  Adam and Eve were given to each other in service and love for the purpose of producing offspring for the LORD.  There were no priests before the Fall, for the LORD God walked throughout the Garden of Eden.  Man for the first and last time since the dawn of time, could freely meet with God face to face.  Adam and Eve's purpose was not only to serve each other, but to lead each other in praise and obedience to God.  Their children were meant to be raised up for Heaven and to spread the perfect Love of the Father to the ends of the earth.  However, instead they were tempted, turned from God to self, and were forever banished from paradise.  Marriage is still a holy and worthy vocation, it is necessary for the Church here on earth to continue and for saints to be brought forth to guide us in this journey, and then stand with the LORD in Heaven.

Once man was cast out and stained with sin, the doors of Heaven were locked and the face of God concealed.  Thus, the vocation of the priesthood arose.  Priests in the Old Covenant were the people's one link to God, their only means of communicating with their Creator.  Priests now are ministers of the mercy and grace of Christ, who celebrate the ultimate sacrifice each day for the Church, the Body of Christ, the family of the Living God.  Priests are wed to the Holy Mother Church.  Their vocation is to bring forth spiritual children and raise them up for the Kingdom, teaching them to serve God and man.  Priests must sacrifice, just as any spouse does, their will for the good of the other.  They must be fruitful and multiply in spiritual terms, shepherding their flock.  This is why they are called "father."

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

{five favorites} Life Hacks

This whole concept of "hacks" is beyond me but it seems to be an internet phenomenon, so when in Rome....Honestly, they used to just be called good ideas, now they are hacks(????).  Anyway, here are my favorite five.  Linking up with Ashley at Big White Farmhouse.

My Under Desk Peddler--I don't know if that is the official title, but that is what I call it.  It's not that I spend hours online, but I do spend time every day on the computer-researching, writing, organizing the various groups that I run.  Time for exercising is not so easy to come by.  Then one day, I had an epiphany, why not combine them?  So, I got my under desk peddler and now I get to "ride" my bike and keep up with my online commitments.  It's not the same as actually biking, which is one of my favorite activities, but it is a good workout for my legs and abs.  I am peddling as I type this!  I have a very basic model like this one, however, I bought it at the thrift store for only $7!  :)

Cell Phone Call to Prayer-- My dear friend, Dara, dreams of having a large clock in her home that is set to chime specific hours for prayer.  Wonderful idea, but I knew I wasn't getting a grandfather clock anytime soon.  However, it got me thinking, how could I mark the hours?  CELL PHONE ALARM!  It is a fact of modern life that we have these intrusive  smart boxes of communication that society expects us to carry on our person 24/7.  While I am not perpetually attached to my phone, it is in my vicinity most of the day.  So, I set my alarm for 9AM, 12 noon, 3 PM, and 6PM.  I pray the Angelus on those hours, except for 3 Pm when I pray for God's mercy.  I don't get every hour in every day, because there are those times that my phone is left in the car, on the other side of the house or, ahem, out of battery; but it has increased my conscious effort to pray and marks my day with prayer.

Reusable Water Bottle--aka Have Water Will Travel--What do all the health experts always say?  Drink more water.  It is easy to get caught up in the day of kids and school and laundry and dishes.  I have a trick, though.  I refill my bottle whenever I am going to leave the house, bring it in the car and drink it while driving.  No matter how short the trip, I bring my bottle and refill it on the way home.  All of this usually means that I must make a B-line to the ladies' room as soon as we arrive, but it does help me get my water in, so that is the important part.

  Lunch Kit Station--With a busy family it can be tough to keep everyone fed on the go.  I try very hard not to buy food out in order to save money, and make sure everyone is eating healthy meals and snacks.  When we first visited our new house, I knew this set of shelves would be my lunch kit area.  I spent about $35 on stainless steal containers and various sized tins.  Each child has a food thermos and a lunch bag.  At a glance I can tell who hasn't unpacked their bag from the latest adventure.  I also have a couple of wrap-n-mats (really need to get a third one for Little Man) and a stainless steel water bottle for every person in the family.  When we are heading somewhere it is easy for everyone to grab a couple of containers, fill it up with a snack or a meal that I have prepared, put it all in their bag and head out the door.  Yes, it still requires me to cook a meal instead of drive through, but I usually make easy things for travel meals so it would take just as much time to go through a line and buy something.  Having everything in arm's reach and together makes hasty meals easier.  {Today was a busy day so there are things missing that haven't made it back here yet, but you get the idea.}

Prayer--Okay, so this isn't really a hack, but it helps.  It is easy to pray when there are big things going on and major calamities.  But, do you pray about the ordinary, every day occurrence?  Every time I need something (or if I want something to help my family's well being) I pray about it.  I ask God to help me find the best one for us.  I ask Him to provide the means to purchase it.  I also pray that He will guide my decisions and steer me clear of purchases that aren't beneficial or are not keeping with His Will for me.  It may seem silly, but it works.  Almost every time, I find the item in need at a thrift store, receive it as a present, or in some other way it pretty much falls into my lap.  The times I don't, I realize that I really don't need it or am gifted with an idea of how to work around not having that item.  I don't always get what I want, but I am never in need.  I must say that I don't pray for extravagant items or selfish causes.  However, just this morning I prayed for God to provide guidance on my garden purchases which seem to be mounting and I am very frugal.  I know a vegetable garden will benefit my family, but I want to also be a good steward of my funds.  My friend just texted that her sister has a rototiller we can borrow--no rental fee for me!  Thank you, Jesus!  That is money that can go elsewhere.  

Another example from this week, I had been in need of some new shirts.  Really it was a need.  Everything I had for spring either was horribly stained or damaged in some other way.  I try very hard to take care of my clothes but, having a toddler stuck to me all last summer did a number on my shirts.  Also, I lost about 30 lbs over the past 18 months, so many things no longer fit.  I prayed for God to help me in this purchase, to provide good prices, and guide my decisions. Yesterday, my godmother called up and said that she had some things she was clearing out of her closet that she wanted me to get to look through.   I went shopping through her clothes that were in like new condition and now have everything that I need.  There were even some pieces in there that I had wanted but didn't want to splurge on such a purchase because it wasn't like I needed it, I just liked the way it looked.

I'm not saying God is like a fairy godmother granting every wish and command.  There have been plenty of times that I prayed for a long time before finding a solution to my need; and even more times that I learned to do with out and sacrificed what I wanted. The most important part of approaching purchases this way is leaving it in God's Hands and seeking to do His Will not just get more stuff.

So, that's my two cents.  If I could just figure out how to wash dishes while I'm on the computer and do laundry while driving the car, I'd really be on to something! 
How about you?  What life hacks do you have to share?   

Friday, March 11, 2016

{p, h, f, r}- The Spring has Sprung Edition

I'm a little late getting this up but, i wanted to do a little Pretty, Happy, Funny,, I'm linking up with Rosie.

 I won this beautiful print from Audrey Eclectic.  I have a special place in my heart for St Elizabeth of Hungry, my daughter, Ashley, had been due on the her feast.  I think that she was supposed to be an Elizabeth.  I sometimes get calls or mails for an Elizabeth and I feel like that is God's way of letting me know she's in good hands, even if she never reached my arms.  Thank you, Heather, for the very, pretty prize!

 So, this may not look like much, but it makes me happy.  This is the site of my future garden.  The rototiller comes next week, I just need to get some fencing.  We have so many deer through our yard every day, a fence is of greatest importance, lest I invest a whole lot of effort into building a deer buffet.  To give you an idea of scale, and just why I am so happy, from where I am standing to the pine tree (straight ahead) there is an area twice the size of our old home!  And the sun!  We have so much sun at the new home.  No more living in the woods, thank you very much.  I always wanted to live in the woods, until I did.  Growing up, we didn't have any trees in my neighborhood because we were built a a section of dairy farm, so I always had a fascination with trees. Grass is always greener and all that!  I'll post garden pictures once there is more progress to look at--I'm just happy, happy, happy!

  Little Man would not wear shoes, I mean anything that had any hint of a sole.  I had beautiful moccasins made for him over and over, but there were times when moccasins weren't very convenient and I wondered what we would do about winter.  Then we happened to be walking through a store in late Fall and he found these shoes.  He took them off the shelf, put them on his feet, and never looked back.  They were his "Hike-Hike" shoes and he was so attached to them that he actually had to keep them next to his bed when he slept.  Well, the "Hike-Hike" shoes have seen a lot of action and have been extremely well loved.  They are completely worn through in spots and the sole was starting to crack.  I didn't know if Little Man would be willing to give them up.  However, once he saw his new light up Spiderman sneakers, he was smitten.  I had to sneak these into the trash when he was asleep, but snapped a photo first.  I am going to miss these little "Hike-Hike" boots.  My baby is growing too quickly!

  Now, I realize that I may have bitten off more than I can chew as far a Lenten study.  I keep falling a bit behind, but I am so glad that I have.  This study is REAL-ly good.  If you read no other book this year, pick up this new one from Father Gaitley.  He will be leading a consecration on Divine Mercy Sunday broadcasted on EWTN at 12 noon EST.  This study is just what I need to sooth the feeling that I'm not doing anything great enough, nor big enough--as long as I am doing God's Will and striving to serve Him better each day, I'm doing enough.

How is your week going?  Do you garden?  Have you gotten out in the dirt yet?  
Thanks for stopping by. God bless! 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Five Favs: Clothes for Tweens

So I have been working on this for awhile.  Not only was it difficult to find places with modest clothes for tweens, finding time to write all of this out has seemed nearly impossible.  The terrible virus we had last week really knocked us for a loop.  We have never been so sick and are still recovering.  However, the weather is amazing right now and the kids have just run outside to bask in the fading sunshine after a very full day of co-op.  This is my shot, hope I can get it done. Linking up with Ashley.



Still one of my favorites is Lands End.  I considered pulling them off this list after they ran a four page centerfold special on Gloria Steinmen.  However, they have apologized and pulled the article.  I believe somewhere in upper management there is a struggle going on at Lands End between keeping the business model that has made them so popular and re-inventing themselves by adopting a new, hip, persona.  Thankfully so far the traditional ways have won out.  

What I like about Lands End is that their children's clothes go up to size 16 in clothing and 7.5 in shoes.  This means that most tweens are covered.   Speaking of covered, they have the modest bathing suits that I have seen, save the specially designed, purposely modest ones.  This year, they unveiled a line of swim dresses and have been expanding their woman's suits selection to include more modest options.  Also, while most stores that design one outfit for little girls and big girls force four-year-olds to dress like fourteen-year-olds (or worse), Lands End designs all the outfits to look like, well kids' clothes not teen runway models.  Their quality is second to none, as is their customer service.


In my endless searching--I cannot even tell you how many sites I previewed--I discovered Mikaose Boutique.  They have a wide selection of youthful jackets, sweaters, skirts, and bathing suits beginning in size XS for women.  In addition, there is a nice little selection of girls' dresses that go up to size 16. Their prices are very reasonable.  I am definitely going to be shopping there with Cowgirl, soon.


If you are looking for casual clothes, my favorite from my search is JenClothing.  I especially like the long Bermuda shorts for Women and Men that start at size 1 for ladies--making them a great option for tweens.  I do wish that they had a kids version available, however, as of yet they do not.  Please be advised that this is a Mormon site, as are many modest clothing outlets.  Regardless of what you think of their belief system, I must say that the Mormons preach modesty and actually deliver by opening shops specifically geared toward modest dress.  I wish some Catholic clothing designers would do the same.


For denim skirts that aren't the old hum drum type, I recommend Apostolic Clothing.  So many designs to choose from! I also appreciate their selection of tops that are grouped by sleeve length and include a number of layering tops.  Layering tops, ones that are thin enough to comfortably be worn under other clothes, make modest dressing so much easier because you can cover up and then layer on a trendy top, keeping up with the latest fashions while still maintaining your dignity.


Speaking of changing clothing up a bit to keep within your comfort zone, have you heard of eShakti? This is a perfect choice for more formal clothing for events, holidays, and dances.  For less than $10, you can have a dress customized in areas such as sleeve length, skirt length, neckline, and openness of back.  Have you ever seen a dress and wished it was just a little longer, just a little less low cut, etc?  We all have.  Now you have options.  As an added bonus, all dresses are fitted to your height at no extra charge.  That means that if you select a knee length dress, it will be knee length whether you are 5'0" or 5' 11".  How great is that?  Many of the dresses are a bit pricey, but they are custom made and there are always plenty in the sale category.  Cowgirl is hoping to get a dress for Buddy's Communion from here.  If I had known about it sooner, I would have, too!  However, I already purchased my dress. 

Have any others to share?  Where is your favorite place to shop for modest clothing?  Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

"10 Things Homeschool Moms Think But Don't Say"

So, the nasty virus got me and I have spent most of my day sleeping.  Not good.  Thankfully, Hubby was able to stay home so that I could actually sleep and get over this bug.  Buddy has been in bed since yesterday morning and has only asked for a bowl of soup twice.  If you have read Farmer Boy, you will understand his usual appetite, he could eat you out of house and home on any given day no matter how he is feeling.  This is a new frontier of him feeling so sick that he actually doesn't eat!  I'm praying he snaps back tomorrow, at least he seems more comfortable and his fever has broken.

After posting last night, I came across this article on my homeschool group's site.  I couldn't believe it!  I have to commend Jessica, the author, for having the guts to say what we are all hiding.

Like practicing NFP, I've been feeling lately that we aren't doing anyone a service by pretending that everything is always perfect at The Academy of St Therese for the Glories of God (Buddy's name for our school) or whatever homeschool land you have set up for yourself.  I've been feeling overwhelmed with actually being home and schooling, but wondered if I just wasn't made of good enough stock that it was getting me down.  I'm glad to see I am not alone.

As homeschooling moms, let's take a pledge to be true to the circumstances, admit our difficulties, and stop beating ourselves up if we aren't doing a Pinterest worthy day every day.  There are pluses and minuses to everything in life.  It's a fallen world, not the garden of Eden, and we mothers are toiling extra hard, even with homeschooling aside.

So if you children were fed, dressed, loved, and learned even one thing today, give yourself a much overdue pat on the back; and remember that whatever you did was more than I managed because I broke he mommy pledge and let myself get sick--lol!

How's your day going?  When the going gets tough, how do you get back on track? 

Thanks for visiting and God bless.