Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Wordless Wednesday: Easter Edition

I just love how the joy of the Resurrection can be summed up so sweetly in a 5 year-old's drawing. My son Luke came to me the other day excited to show me this picture. He couldn't wait to explain his illustration-- the miracle of Easter morning.

The empty tomb.

Angels with a message:

"He is not here! He is risen!"


Thursday, April 21, 2011

On this Holy Thursday...

Reclining at table with his disciples, Jesus was deeply troubled and testified,
“Amen, amen, I say to you, one of you will betray me.”
The disciples looked at one another, at a loss as to whom he meant.
One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,
was reclining at Jesus’ side.
So Simon Peter nodded to him to find out whom he meant.
He leaned back against Jesus’ chest and said to him,
“Master, who is it?”
Jesus answered,
“It is the one to whom I hand the morsel after I have dipped it.”
So he dipped the morsel and took it and handed it to Judas,
son of Simon the Iscariot.
After Judas took the morsel, Satan entered him.
So Jesus said to him, “What you are going to do, do quickly.”
Now none of those reclining at table realized why he said this to him.
Some thought that since Judas kept the money bag, Jesus had told him,
“Buy what we need for the feast,”
or to give something to the poor.
So Judas took the morsel and left at once. And it was night.

When he had left, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself,
and he will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
You will look for me, and as I told the Jews,
‘Where I go you cannot come,’ so now I say it to you.”

Simon Peter said to him, “Master, where are you going?”
Jesus answered him,
“Where I am going, you cannot follow me now,
though you will follow later.”
Peter said to him,
“Master, why can I not follow you now?
I will lay down my life for you.”
Jesus answered, “Will you lay down your life for me?
Amen, amen, I say to you, the cock will not crow
before you deny me three times.”

--John 13:21-33, 36-38

As Lent draws to a close and the Easter Triduum is upon us I've been finding myself reflecting a lot on Judas, the betrayer. And while my heart is filled with sorrow over the ways that Judas and the other disciples failed Jesus in his darkest hour I am reminded of how we, too, fail Jesus. Though it is disturbing to dwell on Judas, on his 30 pieces and of Peter's pain upon rooster's cry, I believe there is great benefit in sitting with these sorrows for awhile. For it is in our weakness, in the reminder of our failings that we draw nearer to God and can more fully appreciate the joy of the Resurrection and the meaning it has in our lives.

As we quiet our hearts and minds and enter into Easter preparation, I encourage you to sit awhile with thoughts of Judas, of Peter and of disciples scattered, crouching, hiding in fear and self-loathing as our Savior marched to His death--alone. I encourage you to offer up to the Lord the things you've been working on this Lent--the sacrifices, alms and prayers with renewed fervor. With thoughts of tainted silver and mournful bird song in our minds, let us cling to the Lord more fully, our Rock and our Fortress. Let us open our hearts to the healing and mercy that only He can give. Let us receive with open arms His bountiful grace and love, flowing river of Living Water. Let us ache with pain and regret on this day that our Lord offered Himself for us. This holy day in which He turned bread and wine into Body and Blood.

Let us ache and wrestle and yearn.

We ache so when Easter comes, we may truly proclaim with hearts full:

"Alleluia! He is Risen!"

photo source

Wishing you a most blessed Holy Thursday.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Beautiful Church...

I just wanted to share with you this wonderful video that Amber Haines put together over at (in)courage. It's the reading of the book of Ephesians told by various members of Christ's community. Through the voices of the young and old, men and women, in all walks of life, His Word speaks. On this week, the holiest of weeks, we come together as a community, The Beautiful Church, to unite in our love of Him of His Truth. I feel so blessed to have been a tiny part of this beautiful project. I hope it lifts you up this week as we prepare our hearts and minds for the joy of the Resurrection.

Thank you, Amber, for putting this together!

Monday, April 18, 2011

How to Make a Palm St. Brigid's Cross

Palm Sunday means it's time to get busy making neat little palm crosses, hearts and other decorations! With the handful of palms we brought home yesterday I thought it'd be nice to try making a St. Brigid's Cross.

Let me tell you that while they are certainly lovely they are NOT EASY!!!!!!!!!! (Well, at least not easy to make from fresh soft green slippery palms, anyway!) So, after several failed attempts, I discovered a couple of tricks that are sure to guarantee success. What, might you ask, is my secret weapon: GLUE DOTS! My disastrous tangled mess of palms was gloriously rescued by these sticky little angels! Orchestral melodies danced in my head as before my eyes my palms were transformed from Chinese Tavern Puzzle Chaos to Organized and Sturdy Masterpiece! (By-the-way, if you're a crafter and have never used glue dots before you must drive to a craft store stat to pick some up! They're that good.) So, without further ado, here's my Palm St. Brigid's Cross How-To:

You Will Need:

--11 (7 for cross and 4 to tie ends) palms, carefully torn in half (approx. 1/4" w.)

--glue dots

--rubber bands

--loads of patience (er, just kidding...kinda!)

Step 1.
Begin by forming a simple cross from 2 palm fronds as pictured below:

Step 2.
Place a third palm frond on right behind the horizontal cross piece and AFFIX WITH GLUE DOT to secure. Fold over tightly so that ends are pointing down (toward you).

Step 3.
Carefully rotate cross 90 degrees (counter clockwise) and repeat step 2: place palm behind on right side of horizontal palms, folding down at center and securing with glue dots to hold in place.

Step 4.
You are going to keep repeating step 3: rotating cross 90 degrees counter-clockwise to add a new frond to to the right.

Step 5.
Your cross is complete once you have a total of 7 palms in place.

Step 6.
Now it's time to trim the ends so that they are even on all sides (approx 4 inches from center on all sides)

Step 7.
With rubber bands, gather palm fronds and tightly wrap

Step 8.
Wrap remaining palms around rubber bands to cover the them, tucking ends into rubber band. Trim the ends.


Your cross should look something like this:

If you're having a tough time with this or need a video additional visuals, try watching this Youtube video: How to Make a St. Brigid's Cross

And besides, it's worth watching just to hear her great accent! As you can see this lady has mad cross-making skills that I can never hope to compete with! :p Hence... Glue Dots!

I hope this tutorial inspired you to try making a Palm St. Brigid's Cross!

And thank you Glue Dots for another craft rescue!!

Happy Holy Week!

(Disclaimer: I have not been paid to promote Glue Dots in any way! I'm just their Number One Fan. Cue: Creepy Theme Music from "Misery.")

Linked to:
Catholic Icing

One Thousand Gifts (part 9)

Inspired by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, I've been making my own list of everyday gifts. God gifts. Starting at one and continuing to 1,000 here is my journey of gratitude. With Spring in our midst the earth is abundant with His beauty! I see it everywhere and wish I could capture it all!

95. Cupboards and fridge full of good food after trip to grocery store

96. 70 degrees and sunny!

97. pansies to plant

98-101. slippery slugs, Winter fireflies, field guides and blowing bubbles

102. squiggly wriggly writhing earthworms

103. flip-flops with newly painted toes

104. evening walk with family

105. daughter's goodnight "Nigh-nigh!"

106. new coffee mug and joy of winning it thanks to Heather at Mattern Family's Storybook Adventures!

107. little spider hiding in school book turned pet for a day

108. page-turner books that inspire

109. coffee, encouragement and laughter with friends

110. son saying prayer for ambulance rushing past

111-118. day at the park: statues, formal gardens, peacocks, poly wogs, chickens and bird's nest and blue skies

119. laughing so hard that fat happy tears come rolling down

120. encouraging heartfelt words from dear friend

121. new friends

122. MOPS meeting: teacups, tea cakes and words of encouragement

123. iced coffee on sunny day

...more to come

Linked at:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Weekend Reflection: Palm Sunday

photo source

"The very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road,
while others cut branches from the trees
and strewed them on the road.
The crowds preceding him and those following
kept crying out and saying:
'Hosanna to the Son of David!
Blessed is the he who comes in the name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest!'"
-Matt. 21:8-9

On this day, Palm Sunday, I pray that you are filled with the spirit of the Lord.
Wishing you a day filled with His Light as we begin Holy week,
the most sacred week of the liturgical year.
As we turn our eyes toward the Easter Resurrection,
may your soul be lifted and your heart touched by
His love, mercy and grace.

Friday, April 15, 2011

On Distance

Another Friday, another Five Minute Friday with The Gypsy Mama! Five Minute Friday is where we write on a given topic for five minutes only, no editing, no worrying whether its "just right." It's so much fun. Feel free to join in! This week's topic is, "On distance." Here goes:


Distance is a funny thing. In and of itself it's neutral but when applied to our lives can be such a good or bad thing.

Distance can create loneliness. Or can create space, can open up places where we are able to grow. Or create vacuous holes, gaping wounds that need filling.

Finding the right balance of “proper distance” is different for everyone.

Sometimes we dream of distance—of far off shores and mountain tops all green and lush. We wonder what it might be like to bridge the gap. To shorten the distance to reach exotic lands.

Or sometimes we just dream of space—a healthy distance that allows us a bit of peace and quiet. “Good fences make good neighbors” as Robert Frost says.

And what of the distance in our hearts? Do we keep ourselves at a distance-shielding ourselves with heart armor? Or do we let things in—connective bridges of love, laughter and God, across moat of mistrust and fear?

Determining your distance requires time and effort and knowing.


That was really interesting to ponder. I felt like I went in a gazillion different directions with that! I loved exploring how distance can mean so many things. And as always, those 5 minutes fly!

What does distance mean to you?

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Art of Doing Nothing

We were all sick this past week. It was nothing too serious, just your run-of-the-mill head and chest cold. You know, the ones with the stuffy runny drippies, icky wet cough and all of that good stuff. But multiplied times 3 little kids with a sick mom and it added up to a HUGE upheaval of our routine.

It could've been an opportunity to gripe and grumble about how bad things were (and, being perfectly honest, I admit I did give into to that a little bit here and there!). But I decided I wanted to try to handle things differently. On the heels of finishing the book One Thousand Gifts (amazing book! You MUST read it if you haven't already!) I decided to try to make the most of the situation and ride the "sick wave" with grace. I wanted to see the hidden gifts that might be found. To unearth the hidden treasure beneath the, er... mucous-covered surface, so to speak. (Sorry, couldn't resist!)

And what treasure there was to be found.

Now, before I go any further, let me just say that, as a homeschooler, I consider our days to be fairly laid back and unstructured. I stay at home. I don't hurry through a 40+ hour work week. There's no daycare to rush off to, no bus to catch, no meetings to attend. And while we have our routines and lessons to get through, we also have plenty of free time. But what this past week taught me was that, although our family has plenty of unstructured time we don't all sit together and DO NOTHING very often. There's usually a craft to be done, a book to be read, a science experiment to complete, a puzzle to work on. Or even if we're not tackling some group project then usually the boys will play pirates and superheroes while I rush around trying to keep up with the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning and...did I mention the laundry?! This past week was a departure from all of that because none of us had the energy to do any, well...doing.

So, what did we do? We snuggled together. No books (I had laryngitis so I couldn't even read aloud!). No cartoons (well, there were some cartoons, but not a steady diet of them, anyway). No games. And in all that stillness we felt love. In the peaceful quiet togetherness spoke. In the art of doing nothing we allowed God to enter. I felt gratitude for my family, for this amazingly blessed life we have. I felt thankfulness for all the good things in our lives.

my little sick men snuggled on the couch

And as the boys began to regain a little energy they did such wonderful things! Things like catching dust in the sunlight! Making up silly jokes! Sitting around and just enjoying being together. While I laid on the couch they played doctor while I was their patient. And we laughed and laughed and laughed some more. It was the closest I've felt to the kids in a long time, and in all that closeness I also felt God.

This past week opened up my eyes to how you can be physically together as a family, but not fully present--too rushed, too hurried, too preoccupied to just be. In that gift of silence and stillness I noticed things I often overlook, how Luke has gotten taller, Adam has matured, Megan has grown more hair. The little things that are the big things because they touch our hearts. Without the preoccupation of lessons to get through, meals to cook and chores to complete there was this amazing lightness. The kind of rest I desperately needed without even knowing it. And if I had been stuck in my own selfish pity party I wouldn't have seen the amazing gifts this illness brought.

I've often heard it said that Americans are overly driven. We're too goal-oriented--over-looking the joy of the journey. That citizens of other countries are much more adept at unwinding and making the most of their leisure time. And because I stay at home I thought that I was somehow free from all of that "American drive." But maybe, without even realizing it, I am result-oriented. Maybe I am too driven. Driven in my academic goals for the kids, in my own domestic to-do list, too caught up in my worries, doubts and fears. One of the recurring points Ann Voskamp brings up in her book is that "life is not an emergency." And I think this week made me realize that I am too often in "emergency mode." Rushing through the days, living life by the clock, overlooking the moments that can only occur in the slow.

And so I'm making it a point to do nothing more often. To just be. To see what little miracles unfold. To open my eyes to God in our midst. To appreciate grace in all of its incarnations. Always and everywhere.

I invite you to do nothing with me.

"By making out greatest and most important goal the one of productivity we miss out on the ways God's gifts of grace come to us by doing nothing."
-Nora Gallagher

Linking at:
Works for Me Wednesday

Raising Homemakers

Simple BPM

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Thousand Gifts (part 8)

Inspired by Ann Voskamp's book One Thousand Gifts, I've been making my own list of everyday gifts. God gifts. Starting at one and continuing to 1,000 here is my journey of gratitude. So much to be thankful for this week--my heart is full of His blessings!

64. 3 year-old playing peek-a-boo

65. kids catching dust in sunlight

66. laughing out loud with good friends

67. caring loving friends who offer kind words

68. eggplant pizza

69. weekend away in Boston

70. old brick buildings full of history and stories

71. ornate streetlamps

72. street performers

73. music concert-communal joy of listening

74. China Town--chopsticks, chinese fans, floral teapots and adorable trinkets

75. coming home to first daffodil in bloom

76. sunny bridge over sparkly waters

77. walking into house of hugging kids and husband who missed me

78. loving husband who listens and helps

79. Male and female cardinal--breaking bread in feathered delight

80. toddler voice saying "monkeys" ("muk-eeezzz!")

81. sneakers without socks

82. kids on see-saw

83. brisk Spring walk

84. sunny skies after the rain

85. sweet teenage girl telling me daughter is "mad cute!"

86. childrens egg hunt-little feet running giddy with excitement

87. Spring Cleaning-passing on the no longer needed to new homes

88. rowdy squirrels chasing in woods-leaping through treetops

89. outside with no coat

90. kids sleeping in--extended quiet time in morning

91. flock of birds feeding at dusk-- last snack before bed

92. father and son playing checkers

93. poetry that ignites the soul

94. husband who brings cake and flowers for no reason at all, other than love

...more to come

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