Saturday, March 17, 2018

Living For Easter (Lenten Update)

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! 
One year ago today...time, slow down!

Can you believe Lent is almost over?  So, how’s it going? 

I admit, I have fallen off the wagon some.  For example, I was going to start saying the Angelus with the kids every day at lunch, but that hasn’t happened yet. Lunch time in my house might not be the best time for this new devotion and by the afternoon, the boys are outside and going off in different directions. And then there are the times I tried to say the rosary but kept falling asleep.  Bedtime is probably not the best time for me to say a rosary. I seem to have a timing issue when it comes to these two devotions.  

Thankfully, a few things have been going well.  I have been getting up an extra 30 minutes earlier during Lent, and it has made a huge difference in how well my day goes.  Just that bit of extra time gives me a much-needed head start on the day.  It also gives me 10 to 15 minutes to read a chapter from this book.  I highly recommend it to anyone going through suffering or just wanting to walk with Jesus through his Passion.  If you have seen the movie, “The Passion of the Christ”, it is very similar to the narrative given in this book.  It is graphic but not overly so (I have been reading it aloud to my 7-year-old).  It just really makes me FEEL what Jesus went through, and my heart breaks with each chapter.

I have given up added sugar (mostly) during Lent and the first two weeks of that were rough!  Now, however, the sugar cravings are finally gone, and I feel so much better.  I never indulged in a lot of desserts but eating chocolate candies was one of my downfalls before Lent.  For reasons I hope to blog about later, most of my family has also gone gluten and dairy free (including me) and that has been a serious penance for me and them.  Transitioning to this new dietary lifestyle has been a big challenge (and huge stressor as I learn new habits and recipes) but I am optimistic that the effort will be worth it in the end.

The boys are doing great with their sacrifices this Lent. They enthusiastically mark off each day on our Lenten calendar.  We established a “bean jar” and they put a bean in it each time they do something good for someone or do something without being asked.  They know that come Easter, the beans turn into jellybeans or candy, so that is great motivation! They also have given up screen time except for one hour a day, during which they want to watch “The Pioneer Woman”.  They have fallen in love with this show (and her, I think) and they like to point out to me how much butter and sugar she uses.  LOL! Joah also has decided he wants to live on a ranch.

My husband decided during Lent to work on our marriage and we have been trying to take more time for ourselves.  A big change has been turning off our phones and screens for at least 30 minutes to an hour after the kids all go to bed and just talking to each other.  That has been much needed.  We also are scheduling “dates” with each other and putting them on our calendar just as we would a doctor’s appointment or other event.  It gives us both something to look forward to on those long days when it feels like we barely see or talk to each other.

This past week, we celebrated Joah’s baptismal anniversary.  He looks forward to this almost as much as his birthday.  For his special day, he requested pancakes for supper (his favorite meal) and a trip to the guitar store with his dad (his dad is teaching him to play guitar now). I also took the boys out to ride their bikes down some dirt trails.  I can’t believe how brave they are on the bikes!  They were ripping down the hills and loving it.  I think mountain biking may be in their future. 

For Joah’s baptismal anniversary, however, the best gift came unexpectedly.  After 7 years, we received a loving note from his birthmother.  For those of you who have adopted, you know how huge this is.  We had not heard from her since Joah’s birth and did not know if we ever would, but we never stopped praying for her.  Turns out, God was slowly working a miracle during those years and every prayer was heard.  It just had to happen in God’s time, a lesson that I seem to keep learning over and over and over.  Praise, Jesus!  I have been enjoying this new relationship with his birthmother so much, sending her photos and trying to get her caught up on the past 7 years of his life.  It is such a wonderful thing to be in an open adoption relationship, and my family (and hers) grew by leaps and bounds during this past week, all of us held together by the shared love of one very special little boy.

And that all got me to thinking (again) about how God works.  I am reminded again and again that God hears every prayer. Even the ones when I am barely awake.  Even when my timing is off. Even when my prayer never gets past my good intentions. Even then, he hears me.  He hears my prayers before I even say them.  And in witnessing this seven- year miracle, I am reminded that it is Easter and not Lent for which I live. 

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Blog Jump Start Week 5: Burning Down The House

Coming in past the deadline to join in with Donna at her Jump Start Your Blog link-up.  Hopefully late is better than never! Last week's question was, "What would you grab if your house was on fire?"

I am thankful that this is a situation that I have never faced, and pray that I never do.  However, it has crossed my mind a few times, considering the fact that we live surrounded by forested land that literally comes up to our doorstep.  We know that if a wildfire ever makes it to the hill below us, during the right conditions, our cedar-siding home would be very vulnerable.  Thankfully, the odds are not great of that happening since we live in a fairly humid environment, but still, stranger things have happened.

There are not a lot of material possessions that I am overly attached to in my home.  When we moved ourselves from Missouri to Kentucky a few years ago, we did a big purge and it was the best thing we ever did. Each item that I donated or threw out was one less item we had to pack and it felt very liberating.  Somehow, however, we still ended up with much more than we needed, and still have boxes from that move four years ago that remain unopened.

The things that I would grab are probably predictable. Photo albums I've made of the family since our boys were born (I print off photos and put them in albums because I don't trust computers to preserve them) would definitely be on the list.  My laptop and a few pieces of artwork would be nice to save. I'd also grab the personally autographed books written by my grandfather and my father. The one autographed by my grandfather is now irreplaceable. And if there was time, I'd grab my jewelry box, not because it has high value jewelry, but because much of the jewelry has sentimental value to me.  I have jewelry that was given to me by old classmates in elementary school, and a necklace from my grandmother, things like that.

But if the house was really on fire and I had time to only grab one thing in a hurry, I would not hesitate and know exactly what it would be.  I would grab my wedding dress.  My wedding dress, which also was once my mother's wedding dress. And while I rarely wish I'd been blessed with a daughter, when I think about my wedding dress, I wish a bit that I did have a daughter who could one day wear it, too.  When I was a little girl, my mother would proudly show me her wedding dress and say "Perhaps someday, you will wear it."  As a small girl, I started dreaming of one day meeting my Prince Charming and wearing that dress as I walked down the aisle.  Not because I loved the dress so much, but because I loved my mother and her dream of me wearing it someday.

That dream did come true.  When I became engaged, the first thing my mother and I did was pull out that wedding dress from the back of her closet.  I had never dared put it on before, for fear of jinxing our dream. Apprehensively, I slipped it on. It was a perfect fit, and I felt like it was just meant to be.

Today, the wedding dress is tucked away safely in the back of my closet, waiting for perhaps my niece or, if I'm really optimistic, my granddaughter or future daughter-in-law to wear it.  Probably not likely, but it's worth dreaming about. That's what my wedding dress reminds me of, that dreams sometimes do come true, and that is worth saving.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Blog Jump Start Week 4: Who Would I Invite To Dinner?

Another link-up with Donna in our blogging challenge.  This week, the challenge is to answer the question "Who Would I Invite To Dinner (living or deceased)?

This was a toughie.  I had to spend some time thinking about it and I really loved Rebecca's twist on it over at her blog.  Yes, the best people to eat dinner with are always those we love!  Nothing ever tops that and Rebecca nailed it.   I am thankful that my family eats together at least once, sometimes twice a day, but I also take that for granted too many times.  I know someday that I will be calling my boys and begging them to come visit me and their father and have dinner with us.  That day will come all too soon.

But, if I could fantasize and invite anyone, who would it be?  After giving it some thought, these three folks came to mind.  Theodore Roosevelt, Rachel Carson, and Flannery O'Connor.  Why these?  Well, Theodore Roosevelt was one of those larger than life people who had big ideas, big adventures and a big mouth (and he carried a big stick, right?).  He had to have been full of stories about Africa, South America, and the Great West.  He was fearless to a fault, and I love trying to figure out what makes people like that tick.

Rachel Carson would be another choice because I think we'd have a lot in common.  Since I was young, I've admired her and I used to want to be a lot like her.  She broke a lot of glass ceilings in her day and could get lost in a book, or on a walk in the woods, or just by watching a bird float on the wind.  I can relate to all of that.

And Flannery O'Connor would be my third guest.  I would love to invite her just to watch the expressions on her face as others around the table spoke.  Having read several of her stories, I think she understood human nature better than almost anyone, and I bet she could cut right through any conversation or story and get to the heart of the matter.  I can only imagine what she would think of Teddy and his boisterous, tall tales! Would she just sit quietly with a knowing look on her face, or would she challenge him with questions, or would she enjoy the antics and encourage him to talk more?  I would love to find out.

So that 's my short list.  I like to imagine Rachel and Flannery sitting next to other.  Two masters of the written word, trying to get a word in edgewise, while Teddy dominated the conversation.  All of us in mutual respect of the other, held together by a love of storytelling and maybe a little too much passion.