Monday, January 30, 2012

Fear is Useless

"Write it in your mind and sing it in your heart...all fear is useless."
-Homily by Father Gary

The only way to Life is trusting Jesus in all things. Thankful today for His powerful Grace.

Gifts #204-220

Living with greater joy, knowing that my anxieties and fears are useless.

Thankful for His Love which is allowing me to abandon my fears.

The enlightening and influential writings of our Saints.

The miracle of the Mass & the Eucharist. It never ceases to amaze me. How it changes me, every single time.

Offering Hope-filled prayers instead of anxiety-ridden prayers.

Alex cuddling with me on the couch.

Coloring with Anna.

My special weekend with Ryan. Looking into his eyes while dancing with him and singing to him. Watching him laugh & be a silly little boy. Watching him enjoy a snow cone in January.

John rubbing my cheek while nursing.

Hand-painted glass coffee mugs, made by the children, that remind me of stained glass windows.

Anna talking about the virtue of Prudence and the story of The Three Little Pigs.

Our Little Flower's Girls Club & our faith-filled leaders.

Alex winning 2nd place in the writing competition.

John squealing when he figured out how to jump in his jumperoo.

John & Anna laughing as he kicked his feet in her bath.

Rocking & singing to my baby.

My hard working, never tired husband and how much he loves us all.

Monday, January 23, 2012

200th Gift

"Creation is a gift, because mankind appears in it and, as the image of God, is capable of understanding the very sense of the gift in the call to existence out of nothingness" ~PJP II

Lord, Thank you for....

191. Creating me. And that I'm able to celebrate my birthday surrounded by those I love.
192. My dad & the group from our parish, marching for Life in Washington DC today.
193. For all those who choose, protect and celebrate life.
194. A well needed day of God, family & rest on Sunday. I am being more diligent about resting in God on Sundays. 
195. A lovely day with my littlest lady.
196. Prayers answered for protection of her heart.
197. Baby laughing when Anna & I played the blanket game with him.
198. Warm, furry boots.
199. Starting to feel gratitude & joy even during homework time.
200. Sleeping a little bit better.
201. Opening presents from the kids, it's so exciting for them. Their excitement is contagious.
202. My young lady's confidence and her new pursuit.
203. Gingerbread cookies and milk.
204. Two new books that arrived today.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Ordinary

I love these Minute Meditations that I receive by email every morning.

Holy in the Ordinary
How often do we regulate to God only those things in which we feel He should have a say,
yet exclude Him from the ordinary things in life.
-from The Bible's Best Love Stories

Giving God the ordinary, by thanking Him for every moment.

185. Leftovers for breakfast.
186. A sweet, sick baby who finally slept for 30 minutes while not in my arms.
187. A cold & icy morning, a good day to stay home to start the 10 (not exaggerating) loads of laundry waiting for me.
188. Clean sheets.
189. Raspberries from baby.
190. Reading.
Walk With Him Wednesdays

Sunday, January 15, 2012

He Stooped Down to Me

Today, I felt the Mass was chosen just for me..I love it when that happens.

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD,
because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet.
The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time.
Getting up and going to Eli, he said, "Here I am. You called me."
Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth.
So he said to Samuel, "Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply,
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening."
When Samuel went to sleep in his place,
the LORD came and revealed his presence,
calling out as before, "Samuel, Samuel!"
Samuel answered, "Speak, for your servant is listening."
Samuel grew up, and the LORD was with him,
not permitting any word of his to be without effect
. ~1 Samuel 3

Here I am I Lord; I come to do your will.
I waited, I waited for the Lord and He stooped down to me; he heard my cry.
He put a new song into my mouth, praise of our God.
Ps 40:2, 4, 7-8, 8-9, 10

Today, in his homily, Father spoke about hearing our Lord's call. He said, we must know God, so that we might hear Him speaking to us. Like Samuel, we cannot hear what we do not know. We are in need of the wise and faithful Eli to lead us to our Lord. What are the things that help me to know the Lord? Who are the people who help me to hear God's call? Attending Mass and studying His Word help me to know God. My faithful parents, family and friends who fill my life, all help lead me to our Lord. And we are called to be Eli to our family, friends and even strangers.
In today's Gospel, Father said that Andrew and John went to where Jesus was lodged. It was there they would come to recognize Jesus is the Messiah. I must come to where Jesus is lodged in order to hear Him. I meet Him in the Mass, the Eucharist, Adoration, the Sacraments and the lives of the Saints. I meet him in prayer and in The Word. I am grateful for all the ways that Jesus is made known to me and for the opportunities to grow close to Him. Thank you, Lord...

168. For being able to be with Jesus in the Eucharist and Sacraments.
169. For priests who inspire by preaching your Word.
170. Church Hymns
171. The lives of the Saints who inspire me to hear and live God's will.
172. The Gospel
173. My Eli's- parents, grandma, husband, children, and friends.
174. Anna's hand reaching to me, during the Our Father.
175. My new charm made by my talented friend.
176. Critter prints in the snow, maybe a bunny, under a tree.
177. Rain drops hanging on a tree branch.
178. Sunday
179. Time with Ryan.
180. New prayer table.
181. Family rosary time.
182. snow crunching under my boots
183. bare branches against the purple and orange sunset
184. Ryan taking pictures of the sunset

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

My Imperfect Yes

Searching for joy this morning after being up all night with the baby. It’s been 8 months since I’ve slept longer than 3 hours. He was up every hour last night. Sheer exhaustion set in a few months ago. Last spring, as I sat by his bed in the NICU, longing to have him home, I remember thinking I would never complain about getting up at night. I have complained. When he was having difficulty nursing, as many preemies do, I thought I would never complain about nursing him. But, again, I have complained.

This morning, I woke up crabby and not feeling much joy. I was impatient and short with my husband. I apologized, but it set an ugly tone to the morning. So, I sat in quiet, for just a minute, to pray for the grace to see His glory & perfection this morning. Seeking gratitude in all moments. Glorifying Him in the difficult. Ann Voskamp calls it the hard eucharisteo.

He is perfect. His plan is perfect. I know God is using me for a greater purpose. Sometimes that's hard to remember at three am. That's when I need to remember the hard eucharisteo.

My annual Advent companion, The Reed of God, is nearby. So, I start to read about Mary’s perfect obedience to God’s will. Motherhood is a vocation of sacrifice and nobody exemplifies that like Mary. And God does not ask of me, what he asked of Mary.

“Each work of her hands prepared His hands a little more for the nails; each breath that she drew counted on more to His last. In giving life to Him she was giving Him death.

We shall not be asked to do more than the Mother of God; we shall not be asked to become extraordinary. What we shall be asked to give is our flesh and blood, our daily life-our thoughts, our service to one another, our affections and loves, our words, our intellect, our waking, working, and sleeping, our ordinary human joys and sorrows- to God.” ~Caryll Houselander

Dear God, thank you...
162. For Mary's Perfect yes.
163. For choosing me to be a mother.
164. For all the moments of motherhood, the easy and the hard. It is all perfectly You.
165. That I am able to hold my crying baby.
166. That I can calm, comfort and nourish him when he needs me.
167. That I can feel and smell his sweet breath on my face when he's sleeping next to me.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Inspirational Art

Multitudes through pictures today. So thankful that our family experienced the inspirational Rembrandt exhibit and all the masterpieces at the museum this weekend.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

He is Revealed

The Miracle of His Birth is still being celebrated in our home. The tree is still up & our lights are on. I'm not ready for the season of Christmas to end. But, that's the Grace of Christmas, it never ends. Jesus is born every day. Our family celebrated the Epiphany with some new traditions this year. A joyous closing to the season of Hope and Love. I love you, Jesus. I am grateful for all the Joy that You bring to our home.

146.  Mandy, for sharing Catholic Cuisine and one thousand gifts, with me. Our Epiphany King cake.

#147 Epiphany House Blessing

#148 ornaments

#149 Her yes.

#150 Holy Family

#151 winter beauty

#153 Children singing in the Christmas program
#154 Baking with kids

#155 sugar cookies

#156 Christmas morning joy

#157 wonder

#158 family games

#159 family traveling to spend Christmas together

#160 Christmas crafts

#161 cranberry garland and pine cones

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Giving it all to Him

I am forever chasing the elusive dream of organization. I love fresh calenders and planners, all the blank boxes waiting for activities and appointments. I delight in buying new bins and baskets, anything to contain the piles of endless papers. I love these things because they all hold the promise of an organized home. I seem to always grasp at tools to organize my life.

God has graced me with progress in so many areas of my life. But, organizing my home remains a struggle. Maybe, I have not fully given it to God yet. Sometimes I fear asking for His help with the little things. It seems to be easy to hand Him the big things & trust his Loving Providence. I handed Him my flat prayer life. He gave me spiritual intimacy. I gave God my failing body. He delivered my fourth tiny miracle into the world. I give Him my marriage, children and vocation every day. Why do I have a hard time giving him my little things?

"Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive." Matthew 21:22

"In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths." Proverbs 3:6

My little things seem insignificant, yet they lay heavy on my heart. So, maybe that's enough. Maybe nothing is "too little" to give to God. If God has counted the hairs on my head, then maybe all my worries are important to him. I know there is no "little" in God. Gratitude is giving me the grace to invite God into the seemingly little moments of my life. I need to work on giving more to Him without fear that it's too small. No little moments...all God moments. No little grace...all God's perfect gift. Nothing is too small to give over to Him.

Lord, help me to give everything to you. It is only through your grace that my heart can be moved to change. All things through You. All things from You. Thank you, God, for...

136. energy and motivation
137. speaking to me about my vocation as a homemaker
138. perseverance
139. hope
140. movie night
141. hot baths
142. beautiful weather in January
143. kids getting to play on trampoline today
144. weekends
145. family time
146. chocolate cake

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Waking up to His Majesty

Today, I woke up to this...

I have always seen His the sky, the ocean, my children. But, since I started my 1,000 gifts journal, things look different. I even see the faces of my children in a new way. My soul is waking to Him.
I am so grateful for...

119. The sunrise.
120. This little one's face

121. My mom

122. Fresh calenders for a new year.
123. pretty journals
124. a girly cup & my favorite tea (and the lovely lady who gave them to me).
125. hot tea on a cold night
126. having a whole day at home today
127. St. Elizabeth- my Saint for the year 2012.
128. St. Joseph- our family Saint for the year 2012.
129. Children diving into our books to find their Saints for the year.
130. Buying a beautiful Lent book today.

131. quiet evening with husband
132. my camera
133. this little face with the softest smooth skin
134. the eyes of my little guy & his gaped teeth

135. her smile

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Saint for 2012

Allison at  encouraged her readers to choose a Saint for the Year 2012. A tradition that I am starting with my family this year.  So, I've been praying for the past few days for God to find a saint for me and one for our family. Today, the Feast day of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, I was searching some Catholic sites for a St. Elizabeth story and activity to share with my children. I found this quote and knew instantly that my saint of 2012 had just found me.

“The first end I propose in our daily work is to do the will of God; secondly, to do it in the manner he wills it; and thirdly, to do it because it is his will.”  
        ~Elizabeth Ann Seton

My list of 1000 Gifts is teaching me to live in the will of God for His Glory. Gratitude for all things from God is gratitude for His plan. Surrender...surrender to His will. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for speaking to me, help me to always listen with an open soul.

104. Scripture study.
105. Good coffee with friends before scripture study.
106. Calm after a little chaos in the early morning.
107. Remembering to slow down.
108. Community & fellowship.
109. My parish.
110. Big brother singing to his baby brother.
111. Ryan's laughter & gratitude that God gave him the brother he always wanted & prayed for.
112. Warm, buttery popcorn- it makes my kids so happy.
113. Warm fleece.
114. Baby talk & giggles.
115. The gifts that keep coming.
116. Ann's book & blog- The Holy Spirit, through her beautiful work, is inspiring, teaching & leading me to true freedom in Christ.
117. My husband. His dedication to taking care of our family. His willingness to forgive. He is always steady and keeps me centered. He loves me through my craziness.
118. My parents and everything I have learned from them. They have taught me how to parent. They model the Sacrament of Marriage. And they continue to show me how to follow Christ in caring for the least of these.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

First 100 Gifts

"I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the child-like." ~ Matthew 12:25

I read this today preparing for scripture study and the first thought that came to mind was my gratitude journal. I cannot help but wonder how many times my eyes saw these gifts, but my heart failed to give praise, so I didn't really see them. I do feel more like a child. I'm learning to see the world in His Light. My steps are a littler easier these days & my worries feel lighter. I thank you, Lord, for opening my heart & soul to these first 100 Gifts. Lord, give me the grace to always see your mighty works with the wonder & awe of child.

92. The sun shining on a cold day.
93. Days starting to get longer.
93. Orange, pink and purple swirling in the winter sky.
94. The quiet, cold lake mirroring the swirling sunset.
95. Anna counting the ducks sitting on the glass smooth water.
96. Dark, almost black, trees against the pastel sky.
97. My amazing & beautiful first daughter who overwhelms me with her character and strength.
98. Still listening to Christmas carols on January 3rd.
99. A calm first day back to school.
100. A friend with inspiring faith.
101. Making a friend smile.
102. Meditating on God's Word.
103. The peace of His Word.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Happy Monday

My old ungrateful self use to always dread Mondays. Those heavy anxious feelings would start Sunday night while making lunches, filling water bottles and getting back packs ready. By Friday I would have grudgingly packed 20 turkey sandwiches. The tedious tasks of the weekly routine used to feel empty and lonely. I dreaded the after school juggle of homework, snacks, cooking dinner, activities, fighting children and crying baby. It was simply chaos that had me watching the clock.  I spent it wishing for time to move faster.

The chaos has not changed, but I have. Gratitude changes things. I can now see the grace in the mundane routine. A turkey sandwich is not a thing of great beauty or worldly significance. But a nourishing, healthy lunch packed with care is an act of love, a thing of God. Seeing God in the daily grind has changed my life. I could cry for the hours that I wasted, wishing time would fly by while waiting for Jason to return home from work. Hours wasted when I was blind to the all the joy. Now, I want to cherish every moment of loud chaos. I want to soak up the joy of the humdrum. I want to see the beauty of the turkey sandwich. Thank you, Lord for the everyday things....

#81 waking up to cooing
#82 stacks of fresh clean laundry waiting to be put away
#83 grocery shopping and meal planning
#84 leftovers
#85 the refrigerator covered with masterpieces
#86 baths & clean kids
#87 fresh sheets on the bed
#88 hot showers
#89 kissing baby feet
#90 fresh sweet fruit
#91 laughing

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A Year of Gifts

I am in awe of the greatness of our Lord & the gifts that he gave in 2011. I am immediately brought to tears by this sweet chubby baby sleeping in my arms. This little one that doctors said I would never conceive. This beautiful soul who arrived too soon. He was so frail & fragile. When I held him for the first time he was 3 lbs and barely breathing on his own.  He is our living, breathing miracle from a mighty God. My faith faltered many times during the 50 days that I sat by his hospital crib. I was sustained by daily Rosaries & the protective presence of The Blessed Mother. At my weakest moment she carried me to Christ. Thank you Lord for the gifts of the past year...

#74  my perfect, happy, chubby baby boy
#75  the protective, loving family always at my side
#76  friends that never disappoint
#77  health & healing
#78  our four miracles that I get to hold & hug everyday
#79  our two babies with Jesus & the hope that we will be together in heaven.
#80  Hope in a beautiful new year