Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A B See - M is for...

Murder Mystery.  We're on an Agatha Christie kick and are having great fun trying to figure out "who done it" before the end of the book.

Have a good photo to share?  Click on the image below...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A Plan For Joy

As I may or may not have mentioned here, I am working on converting my organizing workshop into a workbook that you can purchase and use in the comfort of your own home.  While I like the workshop approach, it is too hard for me to be in many different places, not to mention too expensive to travel there.  For that reason, I am converting my workshop into all the tools you need to get a working plan for your day up and running.

To that end, I'd like you to either here, or on my facebook page (you can "like" it by clicking on the link in the right hand column of this blog), tell me what it is that challenges you when it comes to being organized. 

Believe it or not, right now what has challenged me is actually not having a plan.  In the past I have always shied away from using a schedule in the summer time.  There was always that desire to feel free and not tied down.  Well, this summer has been so hectic that I feel that all we've been doing is running around in circles and not really accomplishing much.  

The other night it dawned on me that maybe I should implement a working schedule for these last few weeks of summer!  What a novel idea :)  So, that's where I am at; trying hard to accomplish a lot in the little time we have left before school starts.  I'd appreciate your input, so if you get a chance, jot me a note and let me know what your trouble spots are.

Friday, July 22, 2011

St. Gianna Molla

I've been struggling lately with how much is too much.  I'm sure not too many of you are immune to that disease.  It sneaks up on you and before you know it, you've added some other activity to your already full schedule.  

I had been trying to figure out how to balance being a wife, a mom, a homeschooler, a photographer, a soap seller, a website hostess and a blog writer.  Too much, I wondered???

I had a chat with one of the priests on retreat and his main statement was that, as long as you are keeping up your prayer life and your daily duty to your family, then you can add in whatever you want.  The guide is always to look to see if your prayers or your family are suffering in any way by you being too busy.

I did my assessment and found that things were pretty much in order.  Even with that being said, I still wasn't sure if I was doing too much.  During one of the talks, Father said three words that completely changed my perspective:  St. Gianna Molla.  

If it hadn't been a silent retreat, I would have stood up and shouted for joy.  That name completely changed the way I was looking at my life.  

I knew a bit about St. Gianna; I knew that she gave her life up for the sake of her unborn child.  I also knew that she was a devoted wife, mother, doctor and that she loved the outdoors, decorating and fashion.  She was one well-rounded, very busy lady...AND SHE IS A SAINT.

What I needed to know was WHY she is a saint.  Like I said, I know she gave her life up for her unborn child, but I knew there had to be more.  I got my hands on a book about her life and I read it during breaks.  What I discovered were two important things:

1.  Those living with her didn't think she was anything extraordinary.  Her husband said that he really didn't ever feel like he was living with a saint.  I like that thought.  It makes her feel much more accessible.

2.  The key to her holiness is that everything she did, she did with love.  Love for God and love for the other person.

What hit me that day was that it isn't necessarily how much you are doing, what matters most is HOW you are doing it.  You could be doing very little or you could be doing a lot, but if there isn't love in your heart and in your attitude, then it is of little benefit.  Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing that we forget to focus on how we are doing it.  I know that when I have a busy day, it isn't until the end of the day that I'll stop and think about what my attitude was like.

This saint never stopped doing.  What made her a saint, however, was that when she was doing something, she was present to that particular job at that particular moment and she did it all with love.

Well, at least now I don't have to fret about how much I am trying to do.  I only have to focus on doing everything with the love of God and with love for the person(s) involved.  Not too tall of an order, is it???

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Do I really have to do THAT, God??

During the retreat last week, as you can imagine, a common theme that kept coming up was finding and doing the will of God.  That makes sense, doesn't it?  Why go on a retreat if you don't want to know God's will for your life??  Anyhow, we spent a lot of meditation time trying to figure out what it is that God wants us to do with our lives and change in our lives.

This morning I went to Mass and the priest spent some time in his homily discussing God's will in our lives.  He told us that we really need to spend time praying to discern what it is God wants us to do with our lives and change in our lives (I love when that happens :)  Sometimes, however, it may so happen that God will ask us to do something that seems a bit out of the ordinary.  We MUST, he told us, be prepared to say yes to God, even if the request seems a bit odd, or even uncomfortable.  A lot may be riding on our cooperation.  To illustrate, he told us the following true story:

A woman was attending a local Marian conference a few years back.  The conference had many good speakers, Mass, the rosary and information about Mary, her devotions and various apparitions.  Every year during the conference, there is a group of people praying throughout the day for God's will for everyone at the conference.  People are encouraged to come and speak to them and pray with them if they feel that God may be trying to tell them something.

It was break time, and this aforementioned lady was sitting in a chair praying her rosary.  All of a sudden, she had this overwhelming feeling that God was asking her to go up on stage and do a cartwheel.  "That's ridiculous," she thought, so she continued to pray.  The thought would not go away; it kept hounding her.  Finally she went over to the prayer group and told them what had happened.  They agreed to pray with her to see if they could help her discern God's will in this situation. After praying, they came to the conclusion that there didn't seem to be anything against her doing this, so, since it was still break time, they encouraged her to go up on stage and do a cartwheel, which she did.

In the meantime, there was a young man who was attending this same conference.  He had been struggling in his faith and he went to the conference in the hopes of having some questions answered.   During that same break, he sat there praying to God, begging Him to show himself.  He asked the Blessed Virgin to let him know that she was real.  "Lord," the man said, "If You are real and You are here, have someone do a cartwheel across the stage."

The man was stunned when he saw the woman get up and do a cartwheel across the stage.  He ran to find her and ask her just what made her do that at that moment.  She explained what had happened and the man was overjoyed.  He kept his faith, and as Father stated, maybe even his eternal salvation.

So it just goes to show you how important it is to discern God's will for you each and every moment of your life.  But it is not enough to just discern it, you MUST put it into action.  Had that lady told the prayer group that she just couldn't do it, what might have happened to that young man???  Where might he be today if she had resisted Divine Grace?

I found that to be a very powerful story, especially after last week's retreat.  I know what God wants me to change in my life right now.  After today's homily, I think I'm going to make sure I do it!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Contemplation and the Great Outdoors

I am back from retreat and finally back into the real world mentality again.  It took a few days, as this was a wonderful retreat with very rich content.  It also was not a very deep and painful one.  Fruitful, yes, but not painful.  More euphoric.  Praise God!

I had a thought about a day into the retreat that, had I become a nun instead of a wife and mother, I would most probably not have been a cloistered nun.  I fancy myself as more of an active-order type candidate.  Is that why God gave me 7 children, or are the 7 children the reason why I am always active???  Anyhow, I noticed that as soon as our meditation periods were over and we had some free time, I would dash for the nearest door and head outside.  Outside to sit in the sunshine or to walk the grounds.  Sometimes I would put my gym shoes on so I could really walk the grounds.  Moving about like that helps me think and being outside clears my head.

The retreat center we were at has an absolutely beautiful chapel (rather on the large size, too) that has perpetual adoration.  Jesus there, truly present, 24/7.  I did spend some time in there, too, but I've always had a hard time sitting still in adoration, which then makes me feel like I'm disturbing others around me.  I'm the kind of person who can't help but look at her watch every few minutes when I feel as if an hour has come close to passing.  It's not that I don't love being with the Lord, it's just that I have a hard time sitting on the hard pew for that long without getting antsy.

A friend of mine was telling me once about how she had a project to work on that was giving her problems, so she packed up her stuff and went to the nearest adoration chapel...and stayed there for 6 1/2 hours!  What amazed me even more is that she said her 8 year old son came with her and stayed the whole time, too, without getting out of hand.   Just the thought of it makes me shift in my seat!

Put me outside and let me move about and soak up the sun and then I can contemplate and mediate and really converse with the Lord.  If you really want to get things going, put me by a body of water and surround me with quiet and I could stay there for hours.

I'm so glad that I had the freedom and free time to move about as much as I did on this retreat.  I even came back with a bit of a suntan :)  But what is more important is that I came back full of peace and joy and resolutions.  Resolutions that will hopefully help me to live my life on earth with a more heavenward view point.  

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Peeling Away the Layers

This week is my annual silent retreat.  Every year I get myself to the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius as preached by the Miles Christi priests.  It is an excellent retreat.  I got to thinking that this retreat is much like peeling an onion.  I tried to explain this to some of my children and they said, "Why? Because it makes you cry?"  Well, yes, sometimes it does do that, however that isn't what I had in mind.

Whenever I go on this retreat, I am never quite sure how many layers God is going to peel back.  Sometimes He is gentle and only works on one layer or two.  Other times He has been more aggressive and peels back a whole bunch of layers.  When that happens, then yes, tears are usually involved.  

I've had some retreats where I am euphoric the entire time.  I've had others where I feel as if I've been dragged behind a galloping horse.  Hard to tell ahead of time which type of retreat it is going to be.

I really look forward to this time away.  It is the only time of the year where I can fully immerse myself in being self-centered without feeling guilty.  People hear that I am going on retreat and ask me to pray for them.  Truth be told, I can't.  That's not what this is about.  It is about totally focusing on yourself; your faults and failings; taking this quiet time to really listen to what it is that God wants to change in you.  If I go in with an open mind and heart, then I can hear pretty loud and clear what it is God is asking of me.  It is great not having to worry about making small talk with the other retreatants, either.  You don't even have to talk at meal times.  It truly is wonderful and peaceful.

If you ever have the chance to partake in one of these retreats, I implore you to go!  You will never regret it.  While I cannot say that I will pray for you, I humbly ask for your prayers for me and all of the other women who will be participating this week.  Thank you :)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

A B See - L is for

...Lightsaber Luke and his Lego Land Speeder!  Say that 3 times fast!  This one is much more fun than the "laundry" picture I was thinking about!

Have any alphabet photo ideas?  Check out the link if you do...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Because it's the 5th

of July now, I have to put up something so that I don't look out-of-date :)

We had a relaxing weekend this past holiday weekend.  It was rather nice to not have too far to go at any one time.  We did our Farmer's Market on the hot Saturday morning then went out for a great dinner with some good friends on Saturday evening.   Sunday was a lazy day with fireworks in the evening.

Monday, some of the girls and I did another street fair in a nearby town with our soap.  We had a beautiful spot under some nice, sappy pine trees and got to enlighten people about the wonders of goat milk soap!  We capped the weekend off with adoration last night.  What a great place to be to pray for our country on the fourth!

Today I got to do a photo shoot for some friends of ours for their senior portraits.  What fun that was!  I'm venturing out in small steps into photography.  I mean, after all, how big of a step can I take when I have so many other irons in the fire.  I LOVE photography, though, so I'm going to do it as often as my schedule can handle it.  If you like photography, you can follow me on my new facebook page.  It's always fun to share photos with people!

Hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend, too!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Photo courtesy of Ms 19 yo

May you have a very blessed Fourth of July!  Pray for our country.  Consider praying the Patriotic Rosary.  It really is a beautiful way to pray for this nation.

May God have mercy on us and bless our country!

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Bedroom Project Finished

The Solution

Here is how it all worked out:

The closet was the first to get attacked.  Items that had been sitting in there for the past 1 1/2 years were put into boxes and stored in the basement.  I mean really, if you haven't touched one of the many Breyer's horses in that amount of time, putting them in a box is an okay thing!!

Then clothing was sorted through and junk was tossed.  The end result was a much neater and less cluttered closet.  The younger girls' closet didn't need any emptying, but it did get a bunch of new stuff put into it.  The shelf on the top of the closet is pretty deep, so much of what was hidden under beds or under the shelving unit got put up there.  The biggest addition to their closet was their dresser.  They needed to get it out of the middle of the room, but it is still a necessary piece of furniture.  Since those two girls don't have much in the way of hanging clothes (and won't for at least three more years, according to an older sister :), they decided it was okay to put the dresser in the closet.

The white dresser that was originally part of the island did not really hold anything necessary to daily life, so that was put in the basement (in a part that doesn't usually get water!) and the items on the bookshelves were put on the cleaned out bookshelves in the older girls' closet. 

As you can see, they now have a wonderfully open room.  In fact, they've been gathering in there the past few days just to enjoy all the space. 

There is still a lot of furniture in that room, and there's been talk of moving some of that around, but for now we are all enjoying the wonderful openness to their room!

The best thing about this whole project is that it wasn't my idea, I didn't have to beg them or threaten them to do it, and I didn't have to do any of the work!  What a great job they did all by themselves!  I guess that's how it is when you're motivated.  Of course, now I know what they are really capable of....