Saturday, April 30, 2011

Random Acts of Kitchen: Cylons Need Not Apply

A few weeks ago my parents got me a dishwasher for a birthday gift (awesome!!) I just set it for it's maiden voyage...was I not supposed to break the bottle of champagne over it?

I am a little dissapointed, I thought the one I got had a setting where it self loads?? In the directions it says I have to do that? Oh well, I suppose it is probably best, anything more would be a little too...skynet/cylonic.

My grandpa and dad built a cabinet to house my dishwasher on Friday, which also means I have extra countertop space now! Finally more space to pile junk cook.

Does anyone else have a twisty tie black hole in their kitchen? Without fail everytime I take one off something it is sucked into a vortex no where to be found! But luckily a day later or so it spits 'em back out. I have a jar with my found twisty collection in for next time one disappears. In your face twisty tie black hole!!

Hope you are having a blessed day!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Thrift Thursday (Take 2)

My "little" brother Jon and I on Easter.
The sweater was also my Grandma's.
On Easter Sunday I wore one of my favorite dresses which I wear often in the summer. When my Grandma Rosemary saw me she said "I like your dress" to which I responded "Thanks, $700 but worth every penny!" She shook her head and laughed. You see, it was her dress from her youth. She saved it and 8 years ago when I found it hiding in a box, I fell in love.

I love the feminine flowers, bright colors, and cuffed sweetheart neckline. I love the length and flowy nature of the skirt. I love the high waist line seam which flatters my childbearing figure. My favorite feature however is the pocket on the right hip! I know pockets are more common now in dresses, but years ago when I started wearing this dress, it wasn't so and regardless, I still think it is awesome.

One day, I may outgrow this dress; either by size or age. When that day comes perhaps I will have a daughter who will fall in love with it too. This dress spans decades and generations and I feel blessed that my grandmother took such good care of it.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

On Account of the Rain

At work we've been praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet at 3:00 in front of the Tabernacle. While I'm not at work everyday, when I am I really enjoy doing this.
Today Dominic was sound asleep in my arms when the 3:00 hour chimed.
We went over to the Church and sang the Chaplet.
When the we finished everyone else went back over to the office
and I stayed to pray a while.
Then it started to pour.
A sound, I have to admit, I love.

Since it was raining I was "stuck" in the Church, praying,
and holding my sweet sleeping boy.
Not a bad way to spend my time.
And what a beautiful place to be "stuck".

Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Better Me: Day 7!

After the Sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning,
Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
And behold, there was a great earthquake;
for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven,
approached, rolled back the stone, and sat upon it.
His appearance was like lightning
and his clothing was white as snow.
The guards were shaken with fear of him
and became like dead men.
Then the angel said to the women in reply,
“Do not be afraid!
I know that you are seeking Jesus the crucified.
He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.
Come and see the place where he lay.
Then go quickly and tell his disciples,
‘He has been raised from the dead,
and he is going before you to Galilee;
there you will see him.’
Behold, I have told you.”
Then they went away quickly from the tomb,
fearful yet overjoyed,
and ran to announce this to his disciples.
And behold, Jesus met them on their way and greeted them.
They approached, embraced his feet, and did him homage.
Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid.
Go tell my brothers to go to Galilee,
and there they will see me.”
Matthew 28:1-10

Overjoyed, Yet Fearful

For day 7 I reflected on the Gospel for tonight's Easter Vigil Mass (above).
Oh how I love the Easter Vigil!
Fire. Darkness. Lights. Darkness.
Word. Prayer. Repeat.
Everything about it is so Catholic and so Heaven.
Illness may have kept me home this time, but we will meet again Easter Vigil!

While reflecting on this Gospel, there was so much that awed me.

First to go on a little tangent before I get down to the meat and potatoes...
When I think of Angels, I think of fierce beings of light and sword.
They are so beautiful and powerful and if we saw one in all it's glory,
we would die right at that moment.
The description of the Angel in the Gospel, to me,
is better than any picture I've seen.
There was a great earthquake when the Angel descended. Awesome!
His appearance was "like lightning". Beautiful.
His clothes were "white as snow". Pure.

Okay, now looking inward...
When the Angel speaks, the first thing he says to the women,
"Do not be afraid."
What a great greeting.
So often I ignore, or try to hide from the promptings in my heart.
Simply because I am afraid.
Afraid of what is being asked of me.

The Angel tells them the good news, and knowing they will need proof,
invites them to go look for themselves. 
Again, something I would need.

Then he gives them the mission
and they go off "fearful, yet overjoyed."
The women had a joy in their heart at just the sound of Jesus' name,
at the very thought of seeing Him and embracing Him again
that any fear they felt was overcome by their joy.
When Heaven asks something of me,
I feel so humbled and blessed that I am even asked!
I worry though, that contrary to the "Marys", I am overjoyed, yet fearful.

When the women see Jesus they "embrace His feet" and "do Him homage."
This is such a beautiful picture.
I can just see them, prostrate on the dirt road before our Risen Lord
 who is glowing in snow white;
they, kissing His beautiful feet.
Adoration at it's finest.
And again He says "Do not be afraid."

So what is there to be afraid of?
Why do I feel overjoyed, yet fearful instead of the other way around?
I think, I fear that if I gave in, to all of Heaven's promptings,
to all of Jesus' wooing,
to all of His sweet Love,
that I would never come back.
The small tastes of His overwhelming Divine Love that I have
The times I have given into it, I wanted to stay forever.
Why should I fear that?
God will do with me what He wills and that is perfect.
No more can I let the fear win.
So today, and tomorrow,
as we celebrate the Resurrection of our beautiful and glorious Christ,
I am praying for the courage and desire
to let Heaven's joy overcome my fear.
On the other side, is something truly amazing.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Better Me: Day 6

O Sacred Head surrounded
By crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding Head, so wounded,
Reviled and put to scorn!
Death's pallid hue comes o'er Thee,
The glow of life decays,
Yet angel-hosts adore Thee,
And tremble as they gaze.

I see Thy strength and vigor,
All fading in the strife,
And death with cruel rigor,
Bereaving Thee of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
Oh, turn Thy face on me.

In this, Thy bitter Passion,
Good Shepherd, think of me
With Thy most sweet compassion,
Unworthy though I be:
Beneath Thy cross abiding
Forever would I rest,
In Thy dear love confiding,
And with Thy presence blest.

Be near when I am dying;
Oh, show Thy cross to me:
And to my succor flying,
Come, Lord, and set me free.
These eyes, new faith receiving,
From Jesus shall not move;
For he, who dies believing,
Dies safely through Thy love.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

A Better Me: Day 5

"How then do they deserve to enter into My glory who have little faith, vain hope, and no charity? If, indeed, they had the faith of eternal joy and horrible punishment, they would desire naught but Me. Did they believe that I know and see all things, and am powerful over all things, and seek judgement of all, the earth would grow vile to them, and they would be more afraid of sin before Me for fear of Me, than before men. Had they firm hope, then their whole mind and thought would be to Me. Had they divine charity, they would at least think in mind what I did for them, how great was My labor in preaching, My pain in My Passion, My charity in death, because I preferred death to abandoning them. But their faith is weak, tottering, as it were, to fall; because they believe, when the assult of temptation is absent-they distrust, when anything contrary comes upon them...Their love towards Me is all cold, because they are never inflamed to seek Me unless compelled by tribulation."
-Revelations of St. Bridget of Sweden

St. Bridget of Sweden was a visionary whom Jesus and Mary appeared to. She also was shown and details such events as the Nativity, and is most known for her "15 prayers" which meditate on the many wounds of Christ. The above passage is a quote from Jesus,when speaking of His Agony in the Garden.

Today, Holy Thursday, we celebrate the institution of the Priesthood, the Eucharist, and Christ's agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. Meditating today on all those things, but mostly on His Agony, the above passage really struck me.

How often am I exactly the person Jesus describes?
How often does my heart desire everything but Jesus?
How often do I aim to please those in the world, over dear Jesus?

In your Agony my Saviour,
I could not stay awake with You.
I tried to wait just one hour,
but I could not stay awake with You.
Sweat of blood dripped from thy Sacred Head,
Sorrow peirced thy Heart.
Yet I into slumber crept.
In Your Agony my Savior,
I could not stay awake with You.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Better Me: Day 4

Stabat Mater

At the Cross her station keeping,
stood the mournful Mother weeping,
close to her son to the last.

Through her heart, His sorrow sharing,
all His bitter anguish bearing,
now at length the sword has passed.

O how sad and sore distressed
was that Mother, highly blest,
of the sole-begotten One.

Christ above in torment hangs,
she beneath beholds the pangs
of her dying glorious Son.

Is there one who would not weep,
whelmed in miseries so deep,
Christ's dear Mother to behold?

Can the human heart refrain
from partaking in her pain,
in that Mother's pain untold?

For the sins of His own nation,
She saw Jesus wracked with torment,
All with scourges rent:

She beheld her tender Child,
Saw Him hang in desolation,
Till His spirit forth He sent.

O thou Mother! fount of love!
Touch my spirit from above,
make my heart with thine accord:

Make me feel as thou hast felt;
make my soul to glow and melt
with the love of Christ my Lord.

Holy Mother! pierce me through,
in my heart each wound renew
of my Savior crucified:

Let me share with thee His pain,
who for all my sins was slain,
who for me in torments died.

Let me mingle tears with thee,
mourning Him who mourned for me,
all the days that I may live:

By the Cross with thee to stay,
there with thee to weep and pray,
is all I ask of thee to give.

Virgin of all virgins blest!,
Listen to my fond request:
let me share thy grief divine;

Let me, to my latest breath,
in my body bear the death
of that dying Son of thine.

Wounded with His every wound,
steep my soul till it hath swooned,
in His very Blood away;

Be to me, O Virgin, nigh,
lest in flames I burn and die,
in His awful Judgment Day.

Christ, when Thou shalt call me hence,
by Thy Mother my defense,
by Thy Cross my victory;

While my body here decays,
may my soul Thy goodness praise,
Safe in Paradise with Thee.

I am feeling very ill, so this one will be short.
And because I am feeling so bad, it is fitting that
my meditation for the day was this beautiful Catholic hymn Stabat Mater.
It is fitting because any suffering, no matter how bad,
 can't compare with that of the Mother of Jesus.
I can't imagine seeing my son in one ounce of pain.
In fact just the thought of something happening to him...
well I can hardly bare it.

Mother Mary, help me this Holy Week.
You are the key to the heart of your Son.
He loved you so much, why wouldn't you be a good enough Mother for me?
I ask you, please to draw me into your Immaculate Heart
and thus the most Sacred Heart of your Son. Amen.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

A Better Me: Day 3

“How much greater without comparison is that which is found is us, when we do not strive to know what we are, but fix all our thoughts on these bodies of ours! And thus only generally and superficially do we know that we have souls because we have heard so, and because our faith tells us; but seldom do we consider what great things are contained in this soul or who lives within it, or how immense is its value: hence it is that we take such little care to preserve its beauty; all our attention in fixed on the roughness of the case,! or the walls of this castle which are our bodies.”

I just began reading St. Teresa of Avila's "The Interior Castle".
The above quote is something which struck me at the very beginning
and what I thought about for the day.

How much time everyday do we spend to make ourselves "look" pretty or handsome?
How much money do we spend on our self beautification?
Make-up? Clothes? Hair care?
Yet how long do we leave our souls in the dumpster?
Do we give even an ounce of that time and money to the perfection of our inmost being?

Making our bodies look nice and ignoring the interior is much like painting the walls of a house, and hanging pictures, yet leaving the sewage and garbage all over the floor.

Lord, help me to know that I have a soul, and that it belongs to You.
Teach me how to make it beautiful, that others might see You in me.
Purify me O God and make my soul the aim of Your Divine Love. Amen.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Better Me: Day 2

Todays quote comes from "The Life of St. Gemma Galgani"
written by her spiritual director, Venerable Fr. Germanus.

“In meditation, the soul must often labor much in the exertion of its power-memory, understanding and will. In contemplation she only has to gaze and admire the beauty of the object that God shows her. She does not then exercise herself in reflections, application, reasonings, etc., but remains, as it were, in mental suspense before the great things that draw her out of herself in admiring wonder. We may say that the contemplative does here on earth in a limited degree what the blessed do in Heaven.”
St. Gemma
Ven. Fr. Germanus

I must have read these words a million times, but it has been a while so I thought it would be nice to revisit. St Gemma was quite the contemplative.  God was constantly drawing her out of herself and blessing her with such graces. Her experiences went way beyond even contemplation however, as she had attained complete mystical union and espousal to God.

This quote means a lot to me because it put into words and explained something which I experienced but didn't understand. The best way I can describe it, is to say it is indescribable. I am sure some of you know, but bare with me as I do my best to share one such encounter with you. 
It was 2007, the day after Christmas. I had the day off, so was home all alone and slept in nice and late. I arose immediately thinking of Jesus and offered my morning offering. I knelt and thanked God for the day and for the sweet dreams I had that night. I went out to the living room and knelt on the floor for a bit and was thinking about Christmas and how wonderful it was. Then God started to draw me. He spoke into my heart and showed me His Sacred Heart. To be short of it, for the next two hours, no other thoughts entered my mind, and all I could do was dwell there with Jesus. He offered to me His Heart; I had never seen anything so beautiful. I kissed it and fell more in love with Him. I didn't want it to end. Afterwards I felt such a great joy. When I read the above quote, I more understood what God did with me. I know He let me experience this because He knows how weak I am. He knows how fleeting my love can be and He was "wooing" me, bidding me to not let my love grow cold. It made such a longing in my soul for Heaven, because just the small glimpse that I felt was, well undescribable.

Today while thinking about this quote I thought a lot about the moments of contemplation I have been blessed with. They are consolations for me when things are hard. I just think of the feeling of Heaven and nothing else matters.

Dear sweet Jesus has been so kind to me.
With all He's blessed me with,
I owe so much more of my life than I am currently giving to Him.
He is deserving of all my love,
and in return He will give me to grace to love those around me.
Thus for those I love, I need to let Jesus reignite the flame of love
which I fear has grown too cold.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

A Better Me: Day 1

Matthew 5:6

Two days ago when I was thinking of verses to meditate on this Holy Week,
This one immediately came into my head.
I knew it was God, telling me this is what I need right now;
telling me what He needs of me.

Blessed are the meek. 
Being meek means understanding that I am nothing.
God is the source of every good thing in me, 
and I am everything else.
Only if I know how little I am, can I serve. 
Only if I am quiet can I hear His still small voice.
If I am full of myself than there is no room for God.
Humility, patience, gentleness are gifts of the meek.
I am so far...

Shall inherit the land.
How loving God is that he extends the invitation to me.
He calls me daughter and wishes to share with me all He has and is.
The choice is mine.

Do I quietly and lovingly attend to my daily duties?
Am I kind and gentle to those around me,
especially those I struggle to be so with?
Do I have to always "defend myself"
or can I let grievances go?
Do I admit to wrong doing and ask for forgiveness?
Do I kneel before the Jesus in adoration regularly
and let Him fill me with His love?

Oh Jesus, so meek and humble of heart...
hear me.
For no one is meeker that you,
the God of all, so mighty and strong.
You came to us as a little babe.
And now, sit in our Churches under the simple veil of bread and wine.
Waiting to be loved, adored, and cherished.
Make my heart like unto thine.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

7 Days

Anne Marie, author of one of my favorite blogs and a friend from Church has extended a challenge to all in the blogosphere. "7 Days To a Better Me." She has compiled verses and quotes upon which to reflect and journal each day to work towards being a better wife and mother. I too will be reflecting on a verse or quote each day, and sharing it along with my soul's reply. Can't go wrong with a little from St. Gemma and the Diary of St. Faustina, but still searching for other quotes. Holy Spirit guide my path.

I can't think of a better time for this challenge with tomorrow being Palm Sunday, the beginning of the holiest of weeks. And personally, I am in need of a renewal and to once again take the call of holiness seriously. This is something I need to do for Geoff, Dominic, the Youth I serve, but mostly for dear sweet Jesus who is deserving of all goodness and love.

Oh my dear guardian angel and my Blessed Mother, please pray for me.
May vices decrease and virtues increase. You know I have much to work on.
May my heart be set ablaze.

Join us! And on Easter Sunday may we rise from the ashes a new creation.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Thrift Thursday (Take 1)

It all began when I was young.  I grew up on a farm with my parents, 5 siblings, and grandparents (who live in a separate house. ) My mom and grandmother are very frugal people who save and reuse as much as possible. For both of them it was how they were raised-don't be wasteful and if something is in good condition, save it just in case. As such they saved much of their old clothing from when they were younger, which is awesome for me! It started with playing dress up, but by the time I got to high school I thought some of my mom's 70's clothes were pretty cool. I wore her bell bottoms and tshirts to school. She had the coolest leather jacket which I wore to threads. Then I got into the 50's and 60's (early) fashion of my Grandma which is where my heart lies. All of her clothes are so beautiful, she truly has great taste! I wear dresses, skirts, shoes, and sweaters that were hers quite frequently. I still mourn that perfect pair of red high heals that I can't find anymore. I keep telling myself they have to be somewhere!

It went from there when my great Aunt Kathy gave me some old Catholic items that she didn't want anymore. I began to see the value of reusing beautiful holy items that someone else didn't want anymore.

The reasons I love secondhand items, let me count the ways!

1. I could be crazy but I have the opinion that older stuff was made with better quality. Especially when it comes to furniture. It certainly is better than cheap stuff from China and I know it will stand the test of time because it already has.

2. The style. I would say right now my house is pretty eclectic, but where I want to be is Country. I also gravitate towards Victorian type things. Thus I create Victorian-Country! It is a work in progress. My favorite thing though is vintage lace. I love it! Also when it comes to my faith, I prefer old Catholic! I am a sucker for old prayer books, paintings, and statues and I seem to prefer it even over new. I believe that the decor in my home should scream who I am, and first and foremost I am Catholic. Can you tell I'm a Latin Mass goer?

3. The price. When you buy or are giving things secondhand, you save a lot of money. Obviously if you go to some antique shop you can blow a ton of money but that isn't how I roll. I stick to estate sale and local thrift stores.

4. The story. Every old item has a story. Sometimes you know what the story is, like if it is a family heirloom; but other times (like when at a thrift store) the story is all to your imagination. It is a connection to someone who lived years ago and cherished something, so that it was at one point part of their life. For more info I sight the Pottery Barn episode of Friends.

Today I love going to garage sales, thrift stores, etc. On "Thrift Thursdays" I hope to share with you some of my favorite secondhand items I have acquired over the years and what a steal I got them for! Starting with my newest treasure:

36" solid cement statue of the Blessed Virgin. She sat in the barn, waiting for me to come along and bring her home. She sits now in front of our house, guarding and protection our family. $87.00.
She was meant for me.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Dust Off That Guitar

Oh sweet music flowing from the depths of my soul.
We have parted ways for a little while.
You never left me, it was I who moved.
I was busy. Too busy for You.

I'm dusting off my lonely guitar
 and hoping my voice isn't too rusty to sing
a song of love, a song of praise, a song just for You.

Oh Heaven, if you still want me,
I'm listening.
Give me the words and a soft melody.
I know they can't capture it, or even begin to contain our love.
Our sweet love.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Reflections on Birth

Since I just finished writing Dominic's birth story, which was so much fun (and very emotional), I have been reflecting a lot on the experience and things I would like to change or do the same next time.

Things That Worked Well:
Exercises! I did my kegels and squats regularly as preparation. Obviously there is no way to tell for sure if these things helps me in labor, but I really think that they did.

Reading and Research. I am so so grateful for all of the knowledge prep that Geoffrey and I did. We took natural childbirth classes and did lots of reading. Even though it can't prepare you for exactly what to expect, the information helped us make good choices before and during labor. I feel a lot of women just do what the doctor tells them simply because they don't know any different. Knowledge is power!

Doula. This wasn't someone that I thought I needed and wasn't going to have, but boy am I sure glad Alicia was with us! Even if you have a good midwife or doctor and a loving supportive husband like I did, one more advocate can make the difference. Her expertise was invaluable.

Walking. I spent a good part of the first two hours of my labor walking. I do really think it helped speed things along.

Water. I drank so much water during labor and it kept me energized and fresh. I do understand that my labor was pretty darn short and if it was longer I may have had to break into the honey sticks and such. :) I still can't believe that some hospitals won't let women in labor drink water! Seriously crazy.

Pain Managment. What I did worked perfectly for me. Go in my own little world, sit completely still, and don't move a muscle!! Ignore everyone and everything during a contraction; just focus on the pain and it isn't so bad.

Drug Free. I almost didn't even think about putting this because it is so obvious to me. Drugs were never something I've considered. Before or during it wasn't even an option and I think that is one of the best "decisions" I've ever made.

Prayer. I was so blessed to attend Mass almost every day while pregnant and did lots of praying/novenas/holy hours. I think this was probably the biggest component for my great birth experience so I hope next time I can do the same, or more!

Things to Change:
Hospital Birth. I am really hoping and praying to have a home birth next time. Even though I had more or less a good hospital experience there are some things to this day that I am not happy with. I think it would be so much more comfortable at home and even though the next time could be different, I had a great birth and at least now know how my body labors. The hospital is close enough for any emergency, which is a rarity, and I know in the hands of a good midwife and my husband I would be completely safe! Plus it would be cheaper!

Afterbirth. My plans were changed this time due to neccessity, but next time if everything goes smoothly I would love to follow my original birth plan. I hope to let the cord pulsate until done, or at least for a few minutes. Also immediate bonding and breastfeeding with baby. 

Sleep. I would like to get more than a half hour of sleep before labor. Just saying. *grins*

As I said previously, I do understand that I was incredibly blessed to have such a good and quick birth with Dominic. God willing all future ones will be good too.