Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Lent - Day 7

"True disciples of Christ are conscious of their own weakness. For this reason they put all their trust in the grace of God and they accept it with undivided hearts, convinced that without Him they can do nothing (see John 15:5).  What characterizes them and distinguishes them from others is not their talents or natural gifts.  It is their firm determination to proceed as followers of Jesus. May you be imitators of them as they were of Christ!"  Message for the 18th World Youth Day from the Vatican, March 8, 2003

How inspiring!

Monday, February 18, 2013

A rose in winter

Here are some pictures from today.  I have fallen behind in the 365 photo challenge - c'est la vie!

This rose was from Sarah's Valentine's flowers from Joe - thanks, Sarah!

Lent - Day 6

"...Because we live in a sinful world, Lent itself must become a kind of separation.  We are called to leave behind our old ways of sin, which make our lives sterile and condemn us to spiritual death.  Yet these sinful ways are often so deeply rooted in our lives that it is painful to leave them behind and set out for the land of blessing which God promises..."  Homily at Mass for the Philippine Community gathered at the basilica of St. Pudenziana, February 24, 2002

Being called to separate ourselves from something that has become comfortable or even, we may think, necessary in our lives to get closer to God is a tall order for most of us!  We may think that we usually are on the right path only with just a few minor things to work on, but we should be honest with ourselves!  I'm sure that many people could turn away from at least one big thing that hinders their growth in God's grace.  Maybe it's a behavior, maybe it's not going to confession or maybe it's a bad habit.  There could be any number of possibilities of things that the devil plans for us to try and keep us away from our true Father. 

I just watched an awesome conversion story here (the good stuff starts at about 23:20).  It is so comforting to know that God loves us so deeply even when the rest of us may think, that because of someone's past, they are a lost cause.  Watch it!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Marian mid-winter

Sarah was invited to mid-winter by her friend, Joe Canter.  The way he went about the inviting scored just a few brownie points with Eric and me.  He went to Build-a-Bear and put together a bear complete with roses in hand and, when you push the bear's paw, a recording of Joe's voice saying, "Sarah, will you go to mid-winter with me?"  Eric said at least he gets points for being original.  He seems like a great guy and his family seems very nice.  This is one of the first times she has really shown an interest in a boy and I have dreaded this for a while, BUT, he has made it a lot easier than I thought! 

Feeling really proud of her.  She has adjusted to the early teen years really well and has made good choices so far.  I will keep praying that it continues!!

Lent - Day 5

I just want to clarify; the book of reflections I am reading has an entry for every single day of Lent (including Sundays) even though the 40 days of Lent does not include Sundays.

"The season of Lent recalls the forty years spent by Israel in the desert while on its way to the promised land. ...  For the Hebrews, the experience of being totally dependent on God thus became the path to freedom..."   Lenten Message, 1997

There's that word again - freedom.  It is difficult for us to understand that by giving up control of our lives, we are gaining true freedom.  The Israelites were not able to 'plan' anything during their time in the desert.  They had no food, no permanent homes, really no security at all yet God provided for them - everything they needed.  If we could only have that same complete trust in God - for every aspect of our lives.  The reflection goes on to talk about worry and quotes Matthew's gospel: "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own."  Even Matthew is saying there will always be things to worry about - every day!  We can only focus on one day at a time and give up every worry to God.  We absolutely have to trust in Him enough to be able to do that. 

As a mother, I could easily get stuck in that tornado of worry especially since our kids are getting older, and I am experiencing all new worries.  As long as I continue doing my part - Jesus, I trust in you. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Lent - Day 4

"The time of preparation for Easter is a providential gift from the Lord and a precious opportunity to draw closer to Him, turning inward to listen to his promptings deep within."
Lenten Message 2001

The only time I can recall feeling promptings deep within was during the time of serious consideration regarding homeschooling.  I have not made myself open to such promptings since then. The noise of everyday responsibilities blocks it out.  What an excuse!  I have heard amazing stories of how people have heard God talking to them and I always end up feeling unworthy of such an experience, but that's not how God feels, I'm sure!  I'm sure that God would love for every one of us to be open enough to hear Him. If we just stop then we can learn to hear Him.  I have been turning the radio off every day in the van either coming home in the morning or on the way to Marian in the afternoon precisely for this reason. I want to learn how to hear God. I want to know what He wants of me.  Our hearts can be open and hear His voice - we just have to let it happen. 

May my increased efforts to listen to your voice aid me in my Lenten journey to deeper communion with you. 

Lent - Day 3

I'm getting day 3 in at the last minute: 11:48pm.  

"The greatest light comes from the commandment to love God and neighbor. In this commandment, human freedom finds its most complete realization."   Memory and Identity

The second session of Arise started last night for us. We have a new group this time and it went well although we miss the first group we were in. The theme for the second session is conversion, and today's entry from the Lent and Easter reflection book is so appropriate.   Human freedom is found through loving God and neighbor.  We are led to think that freedom is doing what we want when we want, especially in the current culture of 'self'. What a radical call to conversion true freedom is!  When we serve God and others, then we have freedom.  Maybe serving God is serving others.  If we think we love God and go to Mass and pray, but don't serve others, is that really serving God?  Serving others doesn't always have to mean at the local food pantry or anywhere outside your home for that matter. We've heard before that true charity starts at home.  It's easier, I think, to be charitable to those you don't know, to those you can show your nicest self to. It's more difficult to serve those in your own home with true charity.  

This is where I will concentrate my acts of charity this Lent - at home.  I will practice putting aside my wants for those that need me, and hopefully get a taste of true freedom in the process so that I may have a conversion and want to serve others in my home with joy. 

Teach me to love as you have loved me. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Lent - Day 2

 "Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem (Mark 10:33).  With these words, the Lord invites the disciples to journey with him on the path that leads to Galilee to the place where he will complete his redemptive mission...Christ also invites the men and women of today to "go up to Jerusalem.""   Lenten message, 2001

How do I need to die to myself this Lenten season?  It seems there are so many options I could come up with to do that.  Pride is a big issue.  I don't like being wrong, I worry about what other people think.  I probably only show these low points in front of the ones I love the most - the ones who have to see me every single day.  I think I have all the answers when it comes to my kids needs.  I'm always thinking and praying about how I should speak differently to my children.  I'm not a good listener - I always have something to say though.  I wish God could take away my speech when the kids just need me to listen.  :)

Help me to die to myself, Lord, so that I might live with you. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Ash Wednesday

In addition to giving up peanut butter cups and Dr. Pepper for Lent, I wanted to add some things as well. I am using a bible study by Fr. Mitch Pacwa and a Lent and Easter reflection book based on things Pope John Paul II said during his pontificate. I thought one way to make this more meaningful for me would be to post something from the reflection every day.

Day 1
"We are wayfarers in this world, wayfarers who must never forget their true and final destination: heaven..."  (General audience, February 28, 2001 Ash Wednesday)

It is easy to forget in the hustle and bustle that we are only here temporarily. It is easy to forget that everything we do here has a direct and final impact on whether we get to heaven to share in God's gift to us. Every day I need to remind myself that it is not about who I please here, but making sure I am focused on pleasing God every day.  I pray that I treat those around me, especially those that I am in charge of, with the utmost love, and kindness. Like we sang today at Mass, "...slow to anger, rich in kindness, loving and forgiving are you."

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Oh, what a day

Here is a snapshot of today because I couldn't type it in a grammatically correct format even if I wanted...

1.  Take Sarah to school
2.  Meet Teresa for coffee and laugh really hard for 1 hr. :)
3.  Come back home (reluctantly) and start school
4.  Stick to school schedule (for once) and start lunch early
5.  After cleaning up from lunch, make dinner (Lyndsay helped)
6.  Finish school with everyone and go through 2 weeks worth of mail
7.  Go pick Sarah up (call Mom & Dad on the way because I'm the best daughter in the world and haven't talked to them for a week)
8.  Come home, leave car running because we are going to be late for Reins of Life and it has started snowing like crazy in the past half hour
9.  Eric gets home and says he can take them (great!)
10.  Get back in the car (with the girls) and go to vets for flea medicine (yay!)
11.  Go to library
12.  Come home and eat dinner - Eric is now picking up Sarah & Josh from Reins and we decide to eat without them
13.  They arrive home and I am already nagging Josh about being ready to leave on time for his tutoring session
14.  Neighbor stops over with cutest Bassett Hound puppy EVER...his name is Humphrey
15.  Help Meredith finish bath and cut her hair
16.  Take Josh to meet with tutor - stay there because it's not worth coming home
17.  Get all grading done :) and read photography book from library
18.  Get home and remind Meredith that she is supposed to be in bed 1 hr early and deal with tears and pouting about 'why am I so mean'?  (hard not to laugh)
19.  Help Grace clean her ears from an October piercing that has not been taken care of all that well.  Put new earrings in and deal with a lot of wincing
20.  Sit down at 8:50 and hope that I can stay awake for a bit longer to read some blogs so I can feel somewhat connected to outside world
21.  Can't ever forget that laundry is always scattered throughout the day too


Monday, February 4, 2013

Family motto

On to G.K. Chesterton...I saw this quote on Pinterest, but I wanted to verify it before I made a published post about!  He is such a great author and so difficult for me to understand... I usually have to read each sentence a minimum of three times before I can begin to comprehend it. 
                “To have a right to do a thing is not at all the same as to be right in doing it.” –  A Short History of England, Ch.10

After a few minutes of making sure I understood it, I realized this was a much more interesting and intelligent way of saying our new family motto: Just because you can...doesn't mean you should!  I could write too much about all the things this applies to in this culture, but I won't.  I could probably continue this blog strictly commenting on Chesterton quotes.  I envy his wisdom. 

On a side note, I get to see 'Les Miserables' tonight with Erin - really looking forward to that! 

We had a successful art day at the Everett's as usual.  It's double the excitement when you get to make art out of food and then eat it!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Why We Decided to Homeschool

Sarah & Josh started out at a Christian preschool which we, and they, absolutely loved.  When it came time for kindergarten, we decided to go with the local public school because it was so close, because we felt we could not afford the Catholic school and we had heard so many great things about the public elementary school.  It really was a good school, the teachers were kind and professional, and the environment felt like something we could be comfortable with. 

When Sarah started 3rd grade, we really started thinking then about what we would do next.  In 4th grade she would be at the middle school, where we had heard that things were quite a bit different for many reasons.  Religion played a big part in the decision as well.  We wanted our kids to be at a place where there were religion classes, of course, but classes that coincided with our beliefs. 

When they started at the Catholic school, Sarah was in 4th grade, Josh in 3rd and Lyndsay in Kindergarten (she was able to attend preschool at the Christian preschool and at the local public school).  We were happy with the teachers and mostly the environment right from the start.  It felt like 'home'.  It felt comfortable.  It felt like a place you could completely feel comfortable with leaving your children there every day. 

Not too long after though, my thoughts started changing.  It was just little things that were bothering me at first: kids acting like bullies, test scores not seeming to match up with what the child really understood, teachers not being present for concerned parents. 

Let me digress for a second.  I first thought about homeschooling before Sarah even started preschool.  I think I knew even then that a parent could teach their child so much more than what they could learn at school.  More than just basic subjects.  I interviewed a couple of homeschooling parents and read some about it, but then never followed through. 

Back to the Catholic school.  I started hearing random radio stories about homeschoolers.  I would randomly meet families that seemed so similar to ours that homeschooled.  I would see articles about homeschooling statistics that I wasn't even looking for.  Trust me, there were so many 'random' things that I finally realized God must be doing the equivalent of hitting me over the head to make me see. I knew in my heart that this was something God wanted me to do. 

Eric was not sure at first, but was willing to listen to everything I had to say.  I started showing him all the articles I could find about homeschoolers and what they have accomplished, how happy their children were and how successful they were later in life.  We read books about it...both sides of the story.  We talked about it and I continued to pray about it. 

I ignored God's call for another year until I couldn't ignore it anymore. 

After doing research of his own, Eric was completely supportive and ready for us to start.  We talked to someone that was initially not supportive and just explained that we had looked into this for a long time and truly felt that this was what we were supposed to do and she pledged her support as well.

So many people think that socialization is an issue for homeschoolers and they couldn't be more mistaken!  There are so many things to get involved in, you could easily not have enough time for school because you could be so busy with social appointments including things like sports, dance, robotics, clubs and so many other things (too many to list).  Not to mention the fact that when you're homeschooling more than one or two children, there is a lot of socialization going on right at home. 

It is not always easy - some days it is quite difficult.  I think the hardest thing about homeschooling is the fact that I question it almost daily.  Well, maybe not daily but at least 3-4 times per week :)

In the end, I have confidence that God wanted us to do this and so we will keep plugging away; and keep praying!

Saturday, February 2, 2013


We had plans to check out WinterFest in New Buffalo, MI today...then we got smart! 

Advertised events: free sleigh rides, ice sculpting and ice skating at...Judy's Motel?   Free sleigh rides are going to attract a lot of families (like ours) with children who are always looking for free things to do, which means probably long lines of waiting in 20 degree weather for probably a 5 min. ride down the main drag.  Tried looking up info on ice skating and none could be found.  No website for this motel.  Saw something on yelp.com that said it was a campground, but I at least found a phone number.  After multiple tries, there was no answer and I was then convinced that this must be a campground with a small pond offering skating by means of bring-your-own-skates-which-we-own-none. 

On to plan B: sledding for free only 10 minutes away!!  The kids were equally as happy so off we went (after putting a pork tenderloin in the crock pot so we wouldn't get home and have the usual 'what's for dinner?' whining going on.) 

Saw a great quote on Pinterest by G.K. Chesterton...will post more on that tomorrow.  Good night!

Friday, February 1, 2013


The snow fairy came last night and Sarah had a 2-hr delay this morning.  That's one negative of homeschooling - those delays don't always apply.  It just depends what the reason is!  We got through a lot today.  Meredith finished her 1st grade math book, Lyndsay & Grace finished up their unit on Venezuela.   I think they enjoyed learning about all the interesting animals the most.  Or maybe it was the diet of the tribes that live in the Amazon.  (Those were just the highlights - we really accomplished more than that!)

Josh is slowly but surely getting caught up although math is always going to be a challenge.  He saw a tutor yesterday, Michael, Teresa & Gene's nephew.  He is such a nice kid, and I think he really helped so we might be seeing a lot of him! 

Here's my picture of the day:

(After) Edited with the Downtown action and the matte color action from the coffee shop blog.

I'm trying to learn how to do a mouseover effect, so that's why this post is jumpy!  Chalk it  up to being an amateur!