Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Wonderful Christmas Thank You!

Tis the season to celebrate the wonders of the Lord. Here's an update and a thank you from Emily's mother. How appropriate for this Christmas season. Enjoy these wonderful 12 days that most of the world will be missing :(

First let me wish everyone a very MERRY CHRISTMAS.

I know everyone is wondering how Emily's tongue is doing. Well that answer is what Christmas is all about. Gods best miracles. She is completely cancer free. Her recent CT scan came back clear. Just some scar tissue from the surgery. She is also pain free and eating everything she wants. She finished up her semester making all "A's". Which is pretty amazing considering she missed 2 months of school. She only had to drop 2 classes because of clinicals. She will be finishing her degree in May and then graduate. My husband told Emily how he can't wait for her graduation. Emily asked why? She said "Dad you hate those things." He said, "Emily, I can promise you that this graduation I would not miss for anything."

Jesus promised where 2 or more are gathered he is there. Emily got her miracle. I have to say this again, it was because of all of your prayers and faith. Believe me I had many hopeless moments. Times when I looked up and just cried. In September I was told I had less than a year left with my first born child. This Christmas was suppose to be our last one on earth together. But everyone said wait. God has the last word. He is the true physician. Prayer services where held. No one gave up hope. So many of you emailed me and promised not to stop praying for a miracle. Well I still cannot believe My baby is OK. Better than OK. She is perfect. She can talk, eat, laugh, and live. While I would never want this for anyone, I would gladly go through it again. My faith grew tenfold. I saw how strong my daughter was. She brought a huge family closer (I mean everyone reading this). I witnessed my brothers and sister's unconditional love and faith. Friends became family. Through these emails we laughed, cried, and waited. We prayed and hoped. We cared. Many of you have never met my daughter and you loved her.

God so loved us that he gave us his only son. Jesus said trust me and if you can't trust my words than trust my wounds. Our mother Mary said "yes" and all that came with being the mother of God. Heaven is really there. In 2 days we will celebrate the birthday of Our Lord. Christ the King.

This Christmas our family promises to take a moment and remember each of you. All your kindness for our family. All your love and support. All of your tireless praying. Jesus said to love God with all our being, then he said to love our neighbor as ourselves. All of you have done this.

If you feel you haven't done enough good this year, you are wrong. You loved our family. In the darkest hours of my life, you listened and wept with me. You visited me with your words when I was in a what felt like prison. Many of you brought food when we were hungry at long days of chemo. And yes, many of you clothed us with blankets and items to keep Emily warm and occupied. We were lonely and so many of you sat at the hospital with us. The amount of tears I shed is only a drop in comparison to the love and support you sent me. How can "Thank you" be enough. It will have to do.

Truly you have been good. Your reward is not in this world but in the one to come. Where it will never be lost or stolen.

May our future St. Pier Giorgio Frassati pray for us!

God bless you and again Merry Christmas,

Love,

Theresa, Emily and All of the family!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Chrstmas!

Here's wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas!


Sunday, December 20, 2009

Little Kids think of Everything!

In an effort to ensure that Santa (who will be entering our new house via the fireplace in the den) knows exactly where the Christmas tree is, Mr 4 yo asked his sister to pen the following note and tape it to the mantle of the fireplace:


It always amazes me how that kid's brain works!

Have a quiet and blessed final week of Advent!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

My Shower Saga

I would like to begin by stating that I am not addicted to coffee. I might enjoy a good, strong cup, but I don't need it to get me going. What I DO need to get me going each and every morning is a nice, warm shower. I can't explain it, but the day just doesn't seem to go as well if I don't get that shower first thing in the morning.

That being said, imagine my surprise/horror/anxiety when we discovered that the bathroom that my husband and I would be using in our new house DID NOT have a shower. It has a nice blue tub, but I am not a tub person, and so, after having a mild panic attack, my husband assured me that we could probably find an attachment that would make the tub into a shower.

In the meantime I would have my choice of the nice shower in the girls' room (which is really the master bath but because it is only a three bedroom house, we had to put all the girls in the master bedroom which gives them the nice, big master bath with the big closets and the double sinks and the nice shower....but I digress...) OR I could choose to go down to the basement (the unfinished part, mind you) and take a shower in the very primitive looking, campground type cement shower stall.

Fast forward to the first morning that we woke up in our new home. It was a Sunday and we had just spent the previous two days working very hard from sun-up to sun-down moving our belongings (can you feel my pain yet?) As I rose from my bed, still unsure of my surroundings, I ventured down the hall to that nice master bath to take my nice, warm shower. As the water ran, and ran, and ran and NEVER even got close to being warm, I started to panic again. I quickly came to the conclusion that something was wrong and there just wasn't going to be any hot water coming out of that faucet no matter how long I stood there.

Okay, time to calm down and assess my options: a bath in the blue bathtub, or a warm shower in the cement stall in the basement. HMM, I decided to go for the cement stall, only to find out that since that shower drains into the sump pit and, for some unknown reason the sump pump wasn't working, I couldn't take a shower down there unless I wanted to flood that portion of the basement.

That meant my only option was the tub. Knowing there are far worse things in life than taking a bath, I ventured forth into the blue bathroom to fill the tub, only to find that the thing that plugs the drain didn't work. Indisposed, and totally fed up at that point to bother with finding anything to plug the tub with, I opted for sitting there with the water running and my foot over the opening so that I could keep some semblance of water in the tub.

The final blow to my morning ritual was when I discovered that my new bathroom doesn't have an electrical outlet anywhere in the bathroom! The man who built this house was an electrician - there are literally hundreds of switches and outlets in this house - but there is NOT ONE OUTLET IN THE BATHROOM! What was the man thinking?

Now you are probably thinking, "What's the big deal?" but if you're a morning coffee drinker, you know, the kind who depends on that first cup of coffee in order to even be able to open an eye, imagine getting up to find that your coffee maker broke and you had to get in your car and DRIVE somewhere to get your coffee!

Don't worry, however, things have improved and I've developed a workable routine. We got the shower fixed in the girls' bathroom, so I shower in there, go to the blue bathroom to dress and blow-dry my hair in a third bathroom. While it is not perfect, it is certainly doable and has been a good lesson in detachment :)


Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Advent Update

Wow, it's hard to believe that it has been a week! Okay, a 2 minute update:

- I'm trying to stay up tonight to finish my online Christmas shopping and hoping I won't have to pay extra shipping charges to get it here in time!

- Most of the boxes are unpacked on the main floor. We can finally shut the closet doors in our bedroom, which then makes it possible to walk around the bed without having to turn sideways.

- The basement still looks like a bomb went off, the office area is still a disaster. Oh well, shut the door and I can't see it.

- We've determined where the Christmas tree will be placed - and it won't be the kitchen! Hopefully it will be up this weekend.

- We have some Advent mice that have been visiting and are trying to find the most effective way to get them to go away. I suggested importing some cats but let's just say that one didn't go over too well!

- Old house is mostly cleaned out, although it seems as if every time we go there for the "last" time, there is more stuff there than when we last left!

- Finally got to spend an afternoon (Sunday) doing nothing. I forgot what it felt like. Actually, I don't remember what it felt like because I fell asleep for most of it.

- One more week of Advent. Hopefully I can at least get back to my usual prayer routine before the time is up! Have a blessed last week.


Monday, December 7, 2009


It wasn't a lot, but the sight of the first snow still can make us all feel joyful!



(Apparently his mother never told him the dangers of eating snow!)


Saturday, December 5, 2009

Catholics Come Home Project

Starting on the 17th of December, the three major dioceses (okay, so I'm not sure how to spell the plural of diocese, so help me out here) around Chicago are going to be running two very professional commercials about the Catholic church during prime-time television. If you aren't familiar with this project, you must check out the Catholics Come Home website and watch the two commercials! They are positively awesome.

If I have my facts straight, these have been run in two other areas of the country with much success. I believe that they each saw around 90,000 or so people come back to the faith.

We are so excited for this to be happening in our area. I can't even imagine that many people coming back to check out the Catholic faith. Please keep this project in your prayers, with the hope that it can be run in many other parts of the country.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

There's No Place Like Home

After a week of hard work (with still some residual stuff from the barn to move) we are finally settling into our new home. While this was not a move we necessarily wanted to make, we are definitely grateful that all went well and that everyone seems to be adjusting nicely. God has been infinitely generous with us in finding us a good home that we can all fit in! Not only that (remember, He can NEVER be outdone in generosity) He has again found us a home on 5 acres with a wonderful view of trees and a small pond! Just so we don't feel homesick, there's a corn field across the street.

For now, as I return to unpacking the 100,000 boxes that we've moved, I will leave you with two pictures. The first is what I see out my back window:

And this one is one of my favorite places in the house!

Wishing you a prayerful First Week of Advent.

Friday, November 27, 2009

It's Movin' Time

When we first figured out where we were moving to we figured we'd move in, at best, the 11th and 12th of December. When packing was going so well, we decided to bump it up a week and shoot for the 4th and 5th. This week we found out that we could take possession this weekend, so we started today moving some stuff but tomorrow will be the BIG moving day - you know, all the fun stuff you need the big, burly guys for. I'm not sure if we'll have any of those :) but we have some good friends and a relative or two with generous hearts who are willing to give up their Saturday on short notice to help us move all our stuff.

So on this Thanksgiving Weekend (since I didn't have time to do this for Thursday) I'd like to say I'm thankful for my husband and children, my parents and family and all of our good friends who are always there for us. I'm incredibly thankful to God for all the things He has given us and especially for how smoothly this move has gone thus far (just a few more days, please...). I'm thankful for all of you who share your time with me here and especially those who leave good and thoughtful comments.

Since I thought we'd be moving in next weekend, I didn't schedule the internet and phone services to be switched until the middle to the end of the week! I'm anticipating having to fend off my girls who want a last stab at the internet as well as my husband who is patiently waiting to disassemble everything, so I suppose I shall go do some more last minute packing and leave them to fight it out!

See you all next week!


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Climbing the Mountain of Life

Spending the week working together to pack up this house, added to all this talk of college, made me realize something...we are at the peak of a mountain in our family journey right now.

I started to think about this as my "team" and I have been bull-dozing through this house packing things up. I must say we do make quite an efficient team; so much so that this is going far faster than I expected it to. While going through one of the rooms I looked around and thought about the fact that we are at the peak of our family's work force. For 17 years we've been climbing the mountain - adding kids to the family, watching the first ones grow bigger and more independent. We're at the point now where everyone is capable of helping out in some way or another. When we put our minds' to it, we can really accomplish things.

Next year, the face of our family will change. Ms 17 yo will venture out from the fold and begin her own mountain climbing experience. She will still be climbing within the same mountain range, but it will be her mountain. A few years later, Ms 15 yo will be doing the same, and thus it will continue (as it should, of course!).

For right now, we are all still on the same mountain, nearing the peak, ready to cheer on the first one to leave the fold. It is quite a sobering thought. What will the future hold for our children? Are they ready to face it? How many times will they lose their foothold? Thankfully they have the rope of faith that will hold them secure to their mountain in the event they stumble. I pray it is a strong rope because I think they will need it.

I also think about what it will look like on our mountain as our climbers continue to leave to conquer their own territory. I don't think it will ever be lonely, as I have a feeling all of our climbers will come back to journey with us from time to time. Hopefully they will always stay within our view (even if we have to use binoculars :).

Anyhow, that's the kind of thing I've been thinking about as we pack up and put a close to one part of our life and move on to a new adventure. The journey may not always be easy, but, thanks be to God, the view continues to be spectacular!



Thanks, Dad, for the great photo!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

My Plate is Full!

God is good. He might make us wait in agony for awhile, keeping us on our knees until the last minute, but He always comes through. Since my post on decision making, many things have been going on around here; things that will continue to keep us hopping for the next couple of months. I sense that there will be a lot more quick-type posts over this time period, but then again, you never know what will pop up! For right now, here is an update on a few items of interest:

- ACT score came in for Ms. 17 yo. She did an excellent job, which means that over the next few months we will be trying to get some applications out and essays written, all the while praying for some good scholarship opportunities. Can't wait to see where God is leading her on this one!

- While some doors are opening, some big-time doors have been shut. We were kind of hoping to make a move about 12 hours south of here, but at this time that does not appear to be in the works. Instead, in about one month, (yes, right before Christmas) we will be moving 20 minutes east. Of course, NOTHING is packed yet, so you know what we'll be doing for the next few weeks.

As an aside, moving seems much more like an Advent event rather than a Christmas Octave event, doesn't it? I mean, what a great penitential act - packing up the entire contents of your house and barn and moving them down the road two weeks before Christmas. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. Could make for some interesting blog material ;)

- About a month ago, my husband, older three daughters and I decided to work together to get a bunch of new things going on my website. One of the projects we've started is to create a newsletter that will come out, hopefully, every 6 weeks. Volume One is slated for sometime around the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. (Yes, right around the time we are supposed to be moving :) If you haven't signed up for the newsletter yet, you can go here and do that. Once you sign up, you can download our FREE ebook entitled "10 Secrets to a More Joyful Homeschool".

-
I'm also supposed to be working on converting my workshop, "A Plan for Joy in the Home" , into a down-loadable workbook. I'm very excited about this project as it will mean the ability to share this information with a lot more people. However, I'm finding it very difficult to carve out the time to work on it. I had hoped to have it ready before Christmas...

- Oh yeah, Christmas. I suppose that will mean some shopping will have to be happening, too. Thank God for late-night internet orders! BUT, where will I hide things? What address will I have them shipped too? I can feel my brain starting to go into overload again...

So, welcome aboard our ride. I'm sure it will be filled with many joys as well as sorrows, but I know that through it all, God will be directing things in a way that only He can do. Please pray for us as we venture forth. I'll check in with updates as often as I can.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wet Pants

I received this cute story in an email so I thought I'd share it here! Have a good day...

Come with me to a third grade classroom.......There is a nine-year-old kid sitting at his desk and all of a sudden, there is a puddle between his feet and the front of his pants are wet. He
thinks his heart is going to stop because he cannot possibly imagine how this has happened. It's never happened before, and
he knows that when the boys find out he will never hear the end of it. When the girls find out, they'll never speak to him again as long as he lives....



The boy believes his heart is going to stop; he puts his
head down and prays this prayer, 'Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now! Five minutes from now I'm dead meat.'


He looks up from his prayer and here comes the teacher
with a look in her eyes that says he has been discovered.


As the teacher is walking toward him, a classmate named
Susie is carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled with water. Susie trips in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the bowl of water in the boy's lap.


The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is saying to himself, 'Thank you, Lord! Thank you, Lord!'

Now all of a sudden, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the object of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him gym shorts to put on while his pants dry out. All the other children are on their hands and knees cleaning up around his desk. The sympathy is wonderful ... But as life would have it, the ridicule that should have been his has been transferred to someone else -
Susie.


She tries to help, but they tell her to get out.... You've done enough, you klutz!'



Finally, at the end of the day, as they are waiting for the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers, 'You did that on purpose, didn't you?' Susie whispers back, 'I wet my pants once too..'
Remember.......Just going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a
car..


Monday, November 9, 2009

Guardian Angel House

Another product that was sent to me for my review was this book, "Guardian Angel House" by Kathy Clark.

The book is based on the true story of the author's mother and aunt, and includes photographs and notes about her family and the Hungarian convent that they were sheltered in during World War II.

The book is subtitled "A Holocaust Remembrance Book for Young Readers". It may be written for young readers, but I have to say it kept me very interested from beginning to end. Myself and my four oldest daughters (ages 10-17) read this book and we all thoroughly enjoyed it. It is written at a level that even my 9 year old son could easily follow, I just haven't handed it over to him yet :) Like I said, even though it is written so that a fourth grader can follow it, none of us were bored by the story or the level of writing.

The story follows the author's mother and aunt as young Jewish girls living in Hungary during the war. Their father is taken away to a labor camp, leaving them at home with their mother and baby brother. Finally their mother agrees to send them away to a Catholic convent for safe keeping. They join 100 other Jewish girls to live out the days of the war in the hills around Budapest, right by a Nazi outpost.

The story is mainly about Susan and Vera and their life in the convent. We see how the religious sisters in the convent risked their lives for these Jewish girls and how the Jewish girls bonded with each other and with the Sisters. They always have to be very careful so as not to draw attention to the convent. A few of the climactic points of the book tell about what happens when the Sisters find an unexploded bomb in one of their buildings as well as the time when the Nazis show up to search the convent for Jews.

A few thoughts went through my mind while reading this book. It made me realize that as I was reading it, all I had to do was to switch the word Jew for Catholic and I could see the same thing happening in today's world. There was a part in the book where Susan, while on her way to the convent for safe keeping, has this experience:

"She glanced through a large cafe window they were passing. Elegantly dressed men and women sipped their early morning espresso. At one table, a girl about Susan's age sat laughing with her parents. A mixture of longing and resentment filled Susan. The muscles in her throat tightened and she found it difficult to swallow. She, too, ought to be able to sit there with her parents."
The part that got to me was the "elegantly dressed men and women sipped their early morning espresso". Here we have Jews being taken away from their families and either worked to death or murdered, and people are sitting in cafes sipping their early morning espresso. The image sent a chill down my spine. Isn't the same thing happening in our country today?

Overall, I would say that this was a very well-written and interesting book. It would make a great Read-Aloud, too. I think that any average fourth grade reader on up could read this on his/her own. We followed up our reading and discussions of this book with the movie of "The Diary of Anne Frank". It was a great little unit study.



Friday, November 6, 2009

7 Quick Takes volume 33


1.

It's been a rough week - many things going on requiring a lot of brain power, thus making me exhausted. What better way to revive one's spirits than by laughing and what better things to laugh at than the things going on in your own household. Thus, the next couple of Quick Takes will deal with that.

2.

Awhile ago I posted this on Facebook:

Since we are to avoid the near occasions of sin, I've decided to stop trying to teach my children math!

My friend posted this reply:
Courage! Fortitude! Remember, you are the heart of your home, your husband is the head. Math is a head thing...so tell them to go ask their father!
3.

My Mass experience from Monday - the Feast of All Souls - one of my favorite feast days, mind you.

*Leave house late and pull up at church right when Mass is starting but realize that there are no other cars there.
*Send daughter to ask a workman if the Mass was moved across town to the Parish Center. Yes.
*Drive across town while trying to stay within the legally posted speed limit. Park car and fly into the building while Mr. 4 yo says, "I have to go to the bathroom". I say, "No you don't, you just went right before we left. You can wait."
*Get into the building to realize, on top of being late, that it is a Communion service. At which point Mr 4 yo is insisting he has to go. Me: "I don't know where the bathroom is and by the time we find it, we'll have missed everything. You can wait."
*Mr 4 yo proves that he can't wait. I feel like a jerk and then realize that I will still miss what is left of the Communion service because I have to find the bathroom, get towels and clean up the mess.

4.

Conversation on the way out of Mass that morning:

Mr 4 yo: "Why didn't you take me to the bathroom? You should have taken me to the bathroom."
Me: "I didn't know where it was!"
Mr 4 yo: "We walked right past it."
Me: "I didn't see it on the way in."
Mr 4 yo: "You should have turned your head."

5.

In the car the next day, we drove past one of those emergency sirens that was being tested, so I naturally had to explain what it is, why it is so loud, and what it is used for. In our neck of the woods, tornadoes are a frequent use for these sirens, so we had some discussion about that. Mr 4 yo then tells us that he is going to take his radio-controlled tornado and send it over to the building over there and run it right through the building. Ms 6 yo, intrigued by the thought of a radio-controlled tornado, asks, "Is it a plastic tornado?" Mr 4 yo responds in his 4 yo matter-of-fact-I-can't-believe-you're-asking-me-this voice "No, of course not, it's wind..."

6.
The speedometer on our van has decided to become temperamental. For about the first 1/2 hour of driving, it either registers 0 mph or 75 mph and not much else. I personally don't like driving a car when things are not functioning the way they are supposed to, but because this is the only car that fits us all, there are times when I must. My husband, who really means to fix this but because he only drives the van to church on Sunday and then doesn't think about it the rest of the week, hasn't had the time to do it yet. After complaining about having to drive without knowing how fast I am going, my husband gave me this sage advice, "Drive it by feel." WHAT? "Drive it by how fast it feels like you are going." "So," I said, "When I get pulled over for speeding I should tell the officer that I really didn't know how fast I was going, but it FELT like I was doing the speed limit?" At which point I would hand over my husband's cell phone number.

7.

I've written before about the surprise spiders I've found amongst my mail (unfortunately I can't find the post now) and how I usually scream and practically jump out of the car in my panic. The other day we pulled up to the mail box and it was COVERED in small black spiders. At least they were all over the outside and not all hidden inbetween the mail waiting to attack me in the car. "What do I do now?" I wondered out loud. "How will we ever get the mail out?" I settled on taking a paper bag and bunching it up and beating them all to death so that I could quickly pull the door down, get the mail out, slam the door shut and hurry up and shut the car window before they all blew in and attacked me in the car.

When we were pulling into the driveway, we noticed that the garbage can that was still out at the street was also covered with these small black spiders. Not even that, they were all over the house and the garage door, too. We even found some in the house. I must say that I never remember this happening before! UUUGGGHH.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The College Decision Part IV

Today brings us to the final option I have listed in my original post - the option most likely to raise eyebrows and bring out statements like, "What a shame, I'd really like to see her do something with her life". I'd like to address that one for a moment.

I find it very disheartening that "the world" sees little value in a person unless they have a piece of paper behind them. Why can't a person without a degree make something of their lives? Are they somehow less of a person? I'd like to think not. I'd hate to think that my worth in life is all because I have a college degree.

Now, don't get me wrong, I'm all for a good education. I'm all for learning how to stretch your wings and live on your own. But at what price? I have to wonder if you're really getting what you pay for. Obviously someone who needs the degree (like a doctor or nurse or engineer) has no other option. But isn't it worth looking into other options for people who don't need the degree? Would the student who could get a job in a field that interested them and work at it for four years not possibly come out ahead? It is an interesting thing to ponder. Of course there is no way to know for certain as there are many variables involved in this option. Still, I don't think it should be one that is discounted and frowned upon.

I know that there are other possibilities and options out there, but the ones I have listed are the main ones we are considering at this time. It has been helpful to me to put them all in one place to look back on and pray about. We have essentially turned it all over to God. Only He knows what is best for our daughter and somehow He will let us know which direction to choose. In the meantime, we'll do our part - investigating our options and praying about them - and hang on for the ride.

Monday, November 2, 2009

The College Decision Part III

The next option to consider in our College Decision discussions is the Junior College. We happen to have a sufficiently sized one in our area, so there are a wide variety of classes that are offered there. This would obviously entail living at home and commuting. As someone commented on the last post, why not go to JC and work, then go to a four year school? This is definitely an option we are considering.

The pros are, first and foremost, the lower cost per class. Obviously no room and board issues, either, but there would be minimal commuting costs. This option would allow her to, hopefully, find a job (a tough thing to find around here) and work part time while taking classes. This is an especially realistic option if she can't decide what she wants to study. No sense spending a lot of money to figure it out. Go to the JC for two years to take the basics and try to figure out what she wants to definitely major in before going on to the four year school.

The cons are mainly the social ones: living at home, no real campus life experience, etc. Also, she's taken one class there already and the book was just awful. We've heard stories about the kind of events that are promoted there as well as about some of the other teachers and classes. I guess it just irritates me that we have to pay money to get fed junk!

The fourth option I have listed in my original post (take a year off to volunteer and discern) might cause a lot of people to gasp. It is SOOO counter-cultural. Fortunately we are used to that. This advice was given to me by a friend of mine who knew Fr. John Hardon - a very holy man whose cause for sainthood is before the Vatican. His advice to high schoolers was to take TWO years off and do some volunteer work and discernment as to what the Lord was really calling them to do. I really like this idea. Fr. Hardon was a very holy priest, I have to believe that he knew what he was talking about.

The pros are that Ms 17 yo could really take some time to discern her vocation in life. The two years would be a time of maturing, so that when/if she did go to school, she would probably get more out of it. It could be fun to pick something you really enjoy doing and volunteer doing it for one or two years.

The cons would be that she would have to make sure that she actually did something, and not just let two years slip by while she was trying to discern what to volunteer for! Also, unless she were able to volunteer and still take a part time job, there would be no income.

Some very practical and good options listed here! Definitely a lot to think and pray about. The next time I'll touch on the work only option and then wrap things up. Till then, thanks for following along.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The College Decision Part II

Before delving into the first option, I'd like to state our views on immersing our daughter in debt. Unfortunately we are not in a position to help her with her college education - something which I am sure many of you are familiar with. Therefore, the ultimate choice of college really lies in finding the means of paying for it.

The most common method seems to be the student loan. We (my husband and I) are against loading our daughter up with debt upon graduation for a variety of reasons:

1. Been in debt, done that - not a great way to live. Besides, if she finds her future spouse and they get married and they both have huge loans, that's not a great way to start a marriage, either.
2. Given the current state of the economy and the fact that it doesn't look as if it is going to rebound even in the next couple of years, the stress on everyone of graduating and not being able to find a job and knowing that you have huge loans to pay doesn't seem like the right way to go.
3. Quite frankly, call me paranoid, but we don't particularly want her beholden to the government at this time in history.

That having been said, we're really dependent on scholarships and grants - which may be an option because of our income to number of dependents ratio. With that in mind, we've begun looking into some private four year colleges that are out of state.

The pros to this option seem to lie more in the "experiences gained from living away from home" category. That's why I went away to school, so I can understand that completely. Also, there are some very good Catholic colleges in this country, none (in our opinion) of which are in our state - thus making it a necessity to go away! Ms 17 yo has her eye on two of these colleges so far and they both look like they would provide an awesome experience - both educationally and socially.

The cons of this option, of course, are mostly financial. Unless she were able to get some fabulous scholarships, they are probably out of the question. We'll see how the ACT comes back and then go from there. The only other cons we came up with were how far away they actually were and the fact that we would, of course, all miss her terribly :)

Closely related to this option is the option of a four year college close to home. This would knock off a chunk of money because she could live at home and commute. Again, depending on her test scores, scholarships might cover most of the tuition, thus making this a more affordable option.

On the con side, the colleges we have to choose from that are within commuting distance from our home are either not Catholic or Catholic-in-name-only. This isn't a huge problem as she's been raised very solidly in her faith and we think she could hold her own. However, I've heard some horror stories recently of what is being taught in some of these schools and the garbage that one has to sift through in order to actually learn something of value.

In summary, it seems as if the four year school option, either away or commuting, is dependent on mainly on how it comes out financially. As one family member put it recently, "You go where the money is".

Next time we'll explore the dreaded Junior College sentence, I mean option :)



Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The College Decision

In my last post I talked about decisions and the fact that we have some big ones we have to make in the near future. One of the issues we are currently dealing with is the dreaded COLLEGE DECISION. I'm sure you might not all agree with me, but I'm sticking by my use of the word "dreaded".

There are SO many things to consider while looking at this issue. I thought it might help me, as well as maybe someone else out there, to lay out each of the options that we are considering (and I'm sure we don't have every angle covered, believe me) and the pros and cons of each of them.

In this post I'll lay out for you what we see as our Ms 17 yo's options. If you have something constructive to add to our discernment process, I'd love to hear it. If you are going to anonymously blast me for something I've written here, then please consider if it will truly add to the discussion or not. Thanks!

I realize that this is a somewhat volatile, and sometimes defensive, issue. For instance, when my daughter made mention that she wasn't going to college (because she hates talking about this with people), I was told that it was a shame, that they'd really like to see her do something with her life. We'll get to that one later! I've also heard people say the name of the nearest junior college as if going there was the same as being condemned to a life sentence in prison.

With that in mind, I'm going to lay it all out here - our thoughts, considerations and opinions - on these five options:

1. Going away to a four year private college.
2. Staying at home and commuting to a private four year college
3. Staying at home and going to the nearest junior college
4. Taking a year off for volunteer work and discernment time
5. Going straight into the working world

I'm not sure yet if these will all be individual posts or not, we'll see where the Spirit leads me. Again, please feel free to join in with your thoughts - I'd love to hear from people who have been here already. Maybe there is something we haven't thought of yet; like the fact that for some families, this might be a no-brainer. For us and our individual set of circumstances, however, it isn't!

Hopefully you'll join me as I explore this topic and sort things out in the coming days (and hopefully not weeks!).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Making Decisions

We have some pretty big decisions to make around here in the coming months; the kind that might even fall under the category of Life Changing Events. In the past on this blog it has been pointed out to me, mainly by anonymous people, that I tend to make things far more complicated than they need to be. In certain respects I might tend to agree with that. This might be one of those times.

What a frustrating thing it is to have to make a big decision. We pray for God's guidance, we pray for His Wisdom, we pray for a sign, we pray that we will only do His Will and we get...NOTHING.

Many would tell me that sometimes it really doesn't matter to God which of the options you pick; that He will bless either one. Other times, though, I think it is prudent to take the time to make sure He is not really hitting you over the head with His Will and you just don't want to see it.

We have had many instances in our lives where what God wanted us to do was to be patient, to give Him time to let HIS plan unfold, and in our impatience, we've rushed ahead and made decisions which have just made things harder than they needed to be.

To counteract that tendency, there have been other times where we have delayed making a decision we were pretty sure about, you know, just to be REALLY sure, and have ended up making things harder than they needed to be.

It really is enough to drive one crazy - which is where we are at with some of these decisions right now. So, in response to my bordering on insanity, God showed me a passage in my "Keep It Simple" book that really brought peace to my soul:

Jesus is furthermore the Friend who counsels, inspires and directs us. In all matters of initiative, in necessary decisions, in the forming of plans, the accepting of responsibilities, in the advice you give, and in the influence you have over those entrusted to you, He will help enlighten, and lead you. He will prompt the word to be spoken, the counsel to be given, the measure to be taken. He will relieve all anxiety and anguish. He will give you peace and tranquility concerning the decisions you have made. (my emphasis)
God is good, isn't He? Even though we feel that He doesn't have much to say right now on certain issues, He is still there helping us to get through it. Maybe in His silence He really is just whispering "Patience", but even if we do jump the gun, it is great to know that He will give us peace and tranquility concerning the decisions we have made!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

8 Days Post Surgery

I have some great ideas for some posts on decision making, but since this came in tonight, I thought I'd update you on Emily's progress. Hopefully I will get back here soon.

Wanted to give everyone the latest update. It has been 8 days since her surgery. She is starting to feel well enough to complain. She is tired of pudding and applesauce. I bought her baby food to eat. She wants to know how babies eat that awful stuff. I put lucky charms and milk in the blender for her to drink. Not quite the same I guess. I have to keep reminding her that she did just have major tongue surgery. She keeps expecting to be better already. On a positive note she still has more drugs than the local pharmacy, so her pain is under control.

Her talking is doing great. I am not surprised at all by that. She was talking right after surgery.

Dr. S called tonight to check up on Emily. He wanted to let us know that he had talked with Dr. P. He said that Dr. P was very optimistic. He felt that she has a greater than 50% chance of being cured. Now that is a huge miracle. We will be seeing Dr. P on Tuesday and I will let you know what he says. Dr. S is planning on doing another PET scan in 9 weeks. He said there is no further plans for Emily other than recovery. She can go back and finish school as soon as she feels well enough.

It was great to hear her oncologist sound so excited. All I could think about was how awesome our God is.

So I want to say thank you again for all the prayers. Please keep them up. We have a little longer to go before we can rest. Also send us any prayer request that you have. Emily still has a lot of suffering to offer up and she wants to offer it for anyone who needs it.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Predominant Fault

We had a very good talk Friday morning at our formation group on Finding Your Predominant Fault! Anytime that I've heard a priest talk about this subject, I've always been slightly confused. The way my brain worked with it was that essentially all major faults that we struggle with center from our self-love and so therefore, everyone needs to work on rooting out this bad aspect of self-love.

Sounds like a simple conclusion, but when I tried to figure out how to tackle it, it was like looking at a HUGE hole in the side of a ship and wondering how to plug it up. Needless to say, I would always become discouraged before I really ever got anywhere.

Well,we were having this discussion and I was trying to explain my frustrations with the topic. One of the women suggested that it was like peeling away the layers of an onion - first you might have to peel away, greed, then envy, then gluttony, then laziness...until you get to the center of the onion: self-love.

Another woman gave me this analogy, which really opened things up for me. Envision your soul enclosed in a castle. All around the walls of the castle are weak points that are not guarded by virtues; weak points such as anger, greed, envy, selfishness etc. Of all these weak points, which one is the easiest place for self-love to enter, and thus manifest itself to others? Whatever this weak point is, that is your predominant fault.

I'm not quite sure why, but all of a sudden it was like someone flipped the switch and I could see it all clearly. I could now see that it was a much easier task to tackle allowing my self-love to manifest itself through anger or impatience then trying to tackle the entire beast of self-love in one fell swoop. (Of course, here I'm assuming you know I am talking about the aspect of self-love that brings out the bad in all of us!).

The more I pondered this, the more it made sense what another priest had said once, that the last battle that many of the great saints fought was their self-love. I finally could see that, even after you have fortified all of the weak points in your castle so that self-love is not manifested outwardly in a negative way (meaning other people don't have to deal with it from you!), you still have to deal with it in your thoughts and in your heart. This is a battle which will keep us busy for our entire lives.

The downside to the morning was that we found out it will be a few weeks before we get the talk on how to COMBAT this predominant fault. UGH! It's like getting a disease and finding out that in two weeks I'll get the remedy, but until then, I just have to deal with it. I guess it will give us all a good amount of time to think and pray about our good friend - our predominant fault.

PS, if you're having a hard time recognizing your predominant fault, ask your spouse!


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Pathology Report News

One more "guest post" from Emily's mom. Keep on praying! I promise to blog about something else soon! Thank you for being so patient with me.

Hi to All,

We got Emily's pathology report last night from Dr. S. It was squamous cell cancer. The same type she has.

The great news is they got it all.

According to the MRI, it was a 1 1/2 cm ill defined tumor. When they biopsied it, it was only 1 cm and had defined borders.

That is a miraculous change right there.

They checked all the surrounding tissue taken with the cancer and it was cancer free.

So as of now Emily no longer has cancer. Dr. S said it may never come back.

Another miracle is how well she is talking and swallowing. She was talking right after surgery.

The doctors are still concerned because this is such an extremely aggressive tumor. It has a very high reoccurrence rate. (as we have just seen) Dr. S is contacting the top head and neck cancer Doctor at Harvard University to see if he has any ideas.

They feel Chemotherapy probably wont be effective. Radiation is no longer an option. Proton therapy wont help with this cancer either.

We will be seeing Dr. P soon and listen to his opinion.

However like I said, She is cancer free right now and that is a miracle. I believe it will never come back. Jesus made it possible to have all the cancer removed. He was guiding the surgeon's hand.

Emily, John, and myself feel so overwhelmed with love from all the prayers being said. I know many of you never met my daughter. But you prayed with such love. Jesus heard everything.

Last night as I was saying my evening prayers, I picked up a prayer card of St. Padre Pio. He said, "Pray, Hope, and don't worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear our prayers. Prayer is the best weapon we have; it is the key to God's heart. You must speak to Jesus not only with your lips but with you heart. In fact on certain occasions you should speak to him only with your heart."

Emily's faith has been unshakeable. While she suffers from surgery, she is already offering it up. Believe me, I wish I had even a drop of her faith. I can tell you she has never complained even once about her cross. She has born it courageously. She has never asked why me. She even said "why not me."

Our deepest gratitude for all your continued prayers. You are all prayer warriors for our family and we will never forget it.

It is the prayers of the people united that make us a holy people and it is the total acceptance of Gods divine will that make us his beloved children.

God Bless,
Theresa, John and Emily


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Beauty of Faith

It always makes my heart ache when I think of all the people who cannot, or choose to not, see the beauty that faith brings into our lives. What an incredible gift and blessing it is for our family to participate in this journey with Emily. I am always blown away by the endless goodness of Our Lord! Here is the latest from Emily's mom. Grab your Kleenex, it's a tear-jerker (in a good way!).

What 72 hours and thousands of prayers can do to a 22 year old young woman is amazing. On Friday I sent an update that broke my heart. We were given such grim news by the doctor. Although we didn't understand God's divine plan we accepted his will.

Emily had been praying all night for a miracle. She asked Jesus to send her one if it was in his will. Friday morning we were getting ready to leave for home and my friend stopped by with a 2nd class relic of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassatti. He is incorrupt, which means his body never decayed after death. She told us he needs one more miracle and he could become a saint. Emily was so excited. Was this an answer to her prayer?

I called my "Family Priest" to come and pray the rosary with us. I love watching my littleones trying to impress Father with their Hail Marys and rendition of "Immaculate Mary". Father annointed Emily with the sacrament for the sick. We then prayed the prayer printed on Pier Giorgio's holy card. What happened next was truly miraclous.

All of you wonderful family and friends were lighting up the sky with prayers. We have been told of prayer groups storming heaven all across the country. People wrote us not to give up hope. We were told "God has the last say". One homeschool group had over 100 people praying the rosary for Emily this weekend. A wonderful man who is studying to be a priest fasted and prayed every hour for Emily (he is suffering from brain cancer) and sat in front of the blessed sacrament all during surgery. Many of you wrote to tell us that you stopped to pray for Emily during her surgery praying especially to Bl. Pier Giorgio.


After 2 hours we were called back to see Dr. P and face the news. He began by telling us he went to a Jesuit college. He said he had devotion to St. Ignatious Loyola. He said he hoped we didn't mind but he prayed before he began surgery. I said we were praying for him to be guided by God during the surgery. He said he cut a 12mm circle around the sore and 12mm deep wedge out of her tongue. I asked him if it were possible, could the cancer be gone for good. He said absoutely. I just started hugging him and everyone in the room started crying. He said the real miracle will be if the pathology comes back non-cancer. We hugged him again and thanked him.

Now what do you think the miracle is. Emily's healing/cure??? Yes partly. The real miracle was the thousands of prayers that were prayed for her. Little children on their knees praying their rosaries. Brothers on bikes talking to Blessed JP2. People wanting to go to confession. Whole church communities praying together. What does all of this mean?? FAITH We had faith in God's will. We believed God would hear us.

Emily got exactly what she asked for. A miracle. We saw true faith. That is our miracle.

We still resign ourselves to Gods Divine Plan for our family. Hopefully Emily will be the miracle that causes Blessed Pier Giorgio to become a saint. I completely believe she is. So does Emily.

But I will never forget all of you. Your love for our daughter. Your perservence in prayer. Your faith.

Thank You for being our Miracle that we were praying and hoping for. I know Heaven was lit up and our Angels were busy. Saints worked overtime and Blessed Mother was busy interceding on our behalf. Jesus just smiled and said your faith has healed you.

Well done My faithful friends and family. Well done.

Love,
Theresa, John, Emily and Family

Monday, October 12, 2009

It's a Miracle!

As much as I am not a fan of Face Book so far, today it has been a blessing. For all of you who have been following Emily's story, here is the entry from around 3:00 p.m.:

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever. I believe we got our miracle. Dr P prayed the prayer of St. Ignatius Loyola before he operated. He said surgery went great and he got everything. I asked if she could be cured? He said yes. He said the real miracle will be when the pathology is not cancer. I believe it will not be cancer. Thank you prayer warriors. Thank you Jesus, Blessed Mother, and all the present and future saints.

(I can't even believe that she had an internationally known surgeon WHO PRAYS BEFORE SURGERY!)

This one is from about 8:00 Central time:

Emily is doing fantastic. She can talk. I saw her tongue it looks beautiful. We still can't believe how God looked upon his daughter and granted her request. Please start praying prayers of thanksgiving. We are so blessed by God. Dr P seemed very happy.

Knowing that they don't have access to a computer for a regular email update from the hospital yet, I thought it was such wonderful news that I'd share these little snippets.

Praised Be Jesus Christ, Now and FOREVER!

Emily update

Today at 1:00 p.m. CST is Emily's surgery. The family is asking that we all storm heaven today and ask Jesus, through the intercession of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, to guide the doctor's hands, to remove her cancer and to make sure that it NEVER returns. Here is a prayer that they have recommended:

O merciful God, who through the perils of the world deigned to preserve by Thy grace Thy servant Pir Giorgio Frassati pure of heart and ardent charity, listen , we ask Thee, to our prayers, and , if it is in thy designs that he be glorified by the Church, show us Thy will, granting us the graces we ask of Thee through his intercession, by merits of Jesus Christ, Our Lord. Amen

FYI, Blessed Pier needs ONE MORE MIRACLE for his canonization and we are all praying that Emily will be it.

May God bless you all for your prayers and concern.

I will let you know what happens. No matter what the final outcome, I'm sure the day will be full of God's healing presence.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Emily Update from Yesterday's Dr. Visit

Here is the latest Emily update. Thank you all for being so patient with me, as I feel a strong need to pass this info on. Thank you, too for all of your prayers.

I am sorry for what I am about to write. I wish I could call each of you myself. The news was not good.

Dr. P from Rush will be surgically removing Emily's tumor with a lazer. He will make a small border cut around the lesion and tumor.

Dr. S will begin Chemotherapy to try to slow the cancers progress.

They feel however that it will just return. Our time with our beloved daughter will be cut too short. I am so sad to have to write these words. Our immediate families have been notified and our children will be told today. Emily will be coming home for the weekend to spend time with her siblings. We will be leaving for Rush on Sunday. John (Emily's dad) is here with us and we will be staying by Emily's side at Rush. She will return home on Wednesday.

We still believe that God can pull a miracle. We are hoping for that. However we have always trusted Gods will even if we don't understand it. He comes like a thief in the night. I definitely feel robbed.

Please keep up prayers for a miracle. Pray for healing and peace for all of our family and for yourselves. I know as you read this your hearts will be sorrowful. I am praying for all of you who have been reading my emails from the beginning.

Emily is still in good spirits. We must do our best to keep ours up too. Lets always look to Emily for inspiration.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

New Emily Update

Because this is such an urgent issue that needs many prayers, I am going to post another Emily update. Here is the email her mom sent this evening (Tuesday). Please pray for Emily and her family. Thank you.

Today was a very hard day. The doctors were saddened by the test result. The MRI confirmed a new cancer. It is already 1 1/2 cm big and growing. It has no clear borders which means it is not contained and spreading. This new cancer is near her bottom jaw bone.

We see the specialist tomorrow. Our Dr. will be speaking to him by phone during the consult. We are hoping surgery will take place early next week if possible. Every day counts with this cancer. Its aggressiveness is unbelievable.

I know everyone wants to know how much tongue will be removed. I really don't know that answer. Certainly we would like to keep as much as possible. However its recurrence rate is obviously not good. Emily may have to lose some of her jaw bone also. Tomorrow we hopefully should have some answers.

After surgery, our Dr. is also consulting with the head of tongue cancer research at Harvard University. We are looking at possible chemotherapy and if it would help at all. As the Dr.put it we want to try everything. Emily is truly fighting for her life.

Please pray that we can have surgery asap. Also that we can save some of her tongue. Emily is still in very good spirits. She is very scared and hoping for the best outcome.

I know everyone that reads this is shocked and saddened. We are too. This is one of those times when I am really at a loss of words. I will email you after the appointment tomorrow. It is at 3:30pm.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Emily Update

It is with sadness that I write that Emily found out yesterday that her cancer is indeed back again, after only a 3 month reprieve. Unfortunately, it is being very aggressive.

She was told back during her chemo/radiation sessions before that she could never have them again.

Her mom said that Emily will go next week for an MRI to determine how deep the cancer is. At that point I guess they will determine if surgery is an option at all. I will keep you updated and I ask that you please pray for this very wonderful and courageous young lady.


Friday, October 2, 2009

7 Quick Takes Friday Vol 32


1.

I haven't been around Quick Takes for awhile so I thought it might be fun to stop back in this week. Speaking of having fun, when was the last time you and your spouse went out and HAD FUN? I'm not talking about going out to dinner and discussing the kids or finances. I'm not talking about that fun trip to Walmart you had last week. I'm talking about going out, just the two of you, and really enjoying yourselves! My DH and I had that chance last weekend. We went out to a ballroom for a surprise 40th birthday party and did some swing dancing. I even wore heels, something I haven't done in YEARS.

I would highly recommend doing something with your spouse just for fun - You know, the kind of thing that memories are made of ;)

2.

Also on the topic of fun, we've noticed that the local deer population is out having fun. We've seen more deer out in the fields than usual, so we figure that either a.) they are taunting my husband or b.) they are heading back to the cities because bow hunting season started yesterday. He won't see another deer until February, I reckon.

3.

On a more serious note, I've been thinking a lot
(and yes, actually trying to do them multiple times in a day) about Spiritual Communions. Father gave a talk last month at our Evening of Recollection about how important and fruitful they are. Just thought I'd remind y'all about them again.

4.

I'm taking a short break from the "Love" book because the book I ordered by Mark Mallett called "The Final Confrontation" just arrived in the mail. Looks interesting. And, yes, it seems to be a book that is trying to shed some light on the times we are living in. I'll let you know what I think when I'm finished.

5.

It can be hard sometimes not to get caught up in all the "doom and gloom" of the times. To that end, I try to remind myself of St. Pio's famous quote:

Pray, hope and don't worry.

If we really trust in Jesus, then this is all we need to do!

6.

I recently joined Facebook. I'm just going to say one thing:

I DON'T GET IT! Am I the only one? (okay, I know that was two things, but I couldn't help myself).

7.

I always marvel at God's timing! I'll fess up, when I was writing this on Wednesday evening I got to this number and didn't know what to write, so I thought I'd save it for Thursday and see what came up. I went over and picked up my "Shorter Christian Prayer" book to read the Wednesday Evening Prayer. One of the first things I read, which goes perfectly along with #s 4 and 5 of today's Quick Takes, was this:

May God, the source of our hope, fill your hearts with peace as you believe in him (Romans 15:13)
Psalm 62
My soul rests in God alone, from whom comes my salvation.
God alone is my rock and salvation, my secure height; I shall never fall.

How long will you set upon people, all of you beating them down, As though they were a sagging fence or a battered wall?

Even from my place on high they plot to dislodge me. They delight in lies; they bless with their mouths, but inwardly they curse.

My soul, be at rest in God alone, from whom comes my hope.
God alone is my rock and my salvation, my secure height; I shall not fall.

My safety and glory are with God, my strong rock and refuge.
Trust God at all times, my people! Pour out your hearts to God our refuge!

Mortals are a mere breath, the powerful but an illusion; On a balance they rise; together they are lighter than air.

Do not trust in extortion; in plunder put no empty hope. Though wealth increase, do not set your heart upon it.

One thing God has said; two things I have heard: Power belongs to God;
so too, Lord, does kindness, And you render to each of us according to our deeds.
Somehow I get the impression that this is the whole reason that I did this Quick Takes!


Monday, September 28, 2009

SpellQuizzer Review

I'm going to switch gears here for a bit and actually do a post about a homeschooling topic :) One of the cool things about having your own website is that occasionally people ask you to review their product or book for them. Recently I was contacted by a gentleman who developed a spelling software package called SpellQuizzer. I decided I'd be game and give it a try.

This software was developed to help any student with his/her vocabulary or spelling lists. It automates the "practice" portion of the weekly spelling list. Here's what happened:

I was emailed the link to download the software and didn't have any problems with it at all. Next, I got to plug in my microphone and have some fun. Mr. 9 yo and Ms 10 yo are my two students who are currently doing weekly spelling lists, so I sat down with their lists and very easily entered in all of their words.

For each word you type in you have the option of recording the word and a sentence or definition to go with it. If you don't have a microphone, you can type in a hint for each word that the child would read. You can also choose to randomize the list playback when the student gets tested on it.

After I entered the words and recorded them, I went and took the test to see how it worked. The program simply repeated my recorded words, with the sentences, for me to type into the computer. If I got all the words right, I heard a cheering crowd. Any words I got wrong, I had the option of being tested on again. In case you're wondering, the fact that my two kids aren't great typists hasn't hindered their progress at all.

So, what do we think? Overall, I'd say we are all pleased with this program. It is very easy to use, hasn't error-ed out at all, and is fun. The kids like it and use it a lot (it sure beats trying to bribe one of their siblings into testing them on their spelling words!). Since they've been using it, they have been doing better on their tests.

Even though you may be a homeschooler, there are many benefits to using this program. There are ways that you can share your spelling lists with other homeschoolers as well as download already made spelling lists, some of which look pretty handy.

One benefit I thought of after we started using it was that you can go back and randomly test the kids on earlier spelling lists. It will be interesting to see how many of the words the kids can spell a few weeks after their test!

The only drawback I found may be the price. However, since you can use it with as many lists/kids as you want, it will definitely be available for multiple years and children. I guess if you break it down that way, it isn't a bad deal.

I give this product a thumbs up. I'll be putting up a permanent page for it on my website and will link to it as soon as it is available.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Simplicity and Love

While reading the book "I Believe in Love", I also happened to start another book about the same time that, surprisingly, is quite complimentary. The title of this book is "Keep it Simple: The busy Catholic's guide to growing closer to God" by Emmanuel de Gibergues. While this book is not written in French, it does get a little deep at times. Kind of funny when it is all about simplicity.

Actually, the book is not at all about what I thought it would be about. I was thinking along the lines of cutting things out of your schedule, organizing your life, etc.

What it is really about is how to grow in holiness by becoming simple. You know, having the faith of a child. At times I'm finding this book to be a bit deep and hard to understand (thus showing me my lack of simplicity, I suppose) while at other times it is very easy to grasp (which gives me hope). I am just thoroughly amazed at how well these two books go together. (BTW, there are links for both on the side bar a little farther down :).

Since school has started again, we have reinstated our silent reading time right after lunch. I'll usually start my 1/2 hour with the "Simple" book and then move over to the "Love" book. Today I got sidetracked by laundry, so I only got to read from the "Simple" book, but what I read was worth repeating.

This section was on how being attentive to the presence of God at all times during our day is so important. Here's a great quote from St. Teresa of Avila:

"All sins are committed because we do not think of God as really present, but imagine Him as very far away."

The author continues with this:

"If we said to ourselves, 'God is here, and I am outraging Him. God loads me with favors, and I am overwhelming Him with contempt. God died for me, and I am crucifying Him once more,' then truly love would fill our hearts - an all-powerful, infinite love wherein to find strength to rise triumphant over all difficulties."

Quite a powerful image, isn't it?

Add this to the list of books you'll want to read!

NOTE: While the road to holiness is apparently paved with simplicity, I'm finding that it is anything but simple to accomplish! Thank God for His love and mercy!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Of carrots and parachute pants


In a weird kind of way, this reminds me of a pair of orange parachute pants my now-husband/then boyfriend had back in our 80's college days :) Don't believe me, check out this link (and I know he didn't pay $146 for them, either!)


Have a great weekend and


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thoughts on Love

It started back in July when I was on retreat. I walked into my meeting with Father and the first thing he said was, "Write this down: You must serve everyone with the love of Jesus." I should have walked out right then. This is NO small order, is it???

Out of obedience, I wrote it down. "Sure," I thought, "no problem". It seems to me, however, that God really meant for me to take notice of this statement. Ever since then I have been coming across this same message. I've heard it at Mass, I've read it in our formation group presentations, I've read about it on other people's blogs! I am starting to take notice.

A number of years ago I bought a book on the recommendation of some speaker at a homeschooling conference. The book, by Father Jean C. J. D'Elbee, is entitled "I Believe in Love. A Personal Retreat Based on the Teaching of St. Therese of Lisieux". When I tried to read it then, it truly was written in French. In the years that it has been sitting on my shelf, someone has come and translated it for me. It is a truly beautiful and profound book!

As I read and study this subject, I seem to be able to grasp it on a certain level. I can understand that, truly, it all comes down to Love - love of Jesus and love of neighbor. I understand the concept - I just have a huge problem putting it into practice.

I told my husband the other night that what I really need is a "How To" guide, kind of like "The Idiot's Guide to Loving Like Jesus". What I need is to have a situation described and then a response that tells me exactly how I am supposed to respond with the Love of Christ.

For example, if one should happen to get a nasty email sent to oneself from someone, I am sure that the proper loving response is not to breath fire and sit fuming at the computer typing an equally nasty response. But, what does it mean exactly to respond with the love of Christ in this example? Does it mean that I can brood about it for awhile and then say "It's okay, I'm over it and I still love that person". Am I allowed to brood for any time? Or am I immediately supposed to turn my sorrowing heart over to Jesus and beg Him to give me the grace of forgiveness? HMMM, I think it's the last one, however I have yet to be able to come close to accomplishing it.

I was going to come here earlier in the afternoon, but Ms. 10 yo suggested that we watch the movie, "Therese". (Coincidence? I think not :) I decided I should stay and watch it with them. What a beautiful example we have in St. Therese. What a gift God has given us. Through her intercession and her example (and a whole lot of grace), maybe I, too, can learn to love and serve others with the love of Christ!

Over time I'd like to pop in and share some of the nuggets I'm getting from this book. I'm only on page 50 and already I would highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in this topic.

Here's one for you to meditate on until I return:

"Love is the uniting of our will to the will of God. It is abandoning ourselves totally into His hands, as a habitual disposition, even if we feel nothing."