Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in Photos: Begin Again

The start of Advent was amazing. Slow and intentional and all things lovely. The middle started to speed up a bit and the end knocked me on my butt.

The boys caught a virus that was over quick for Linus but lingered for Bigfoot which forced us to postpone travels. The day we finally decided to travel my knee buckled (read: knee cap dislocated) because of an old injury (Seriously, old high school injuries are really not my favorite this year. at. all.), but we still got on the road and made the best of the holidays with family.

Emotionally and physically the later part of Advent rocked me, but slowly and surely mixed with with lots of grace we are moving forward to the new year.

At the end of it all, I'm so excited for 2015, and also thankful for all the goodness and hardships that 2014 brought. I hope to reflect more on this bit in the new year, but for now, I'm joining Dwija for 12 in 2014, Obviously, just 12 is not something I'm good at, so there may be a couple more than 12. Bad rule follower here!

Enjoy and come back for my top posts of 2014! Will be putting it up tomorrow! :)
I didn't take this photo in January 2014, but I did share it in this post celebrating our anniversary and I kind of heart it a lot.


And, this one below was taken the same day.
This may be one of my most favorite photos taken of Bigfoot thus far. 

 Settling into our Home Sweet Home so perfectly. Our new home has been such a gift! Such an amazing gift!

and, my husband surprised me with this ridiculous photo at the end of one of the most perfect birthdays. He had me take funny pics of my day, and then at some point edited the notes I was holding. To say I was surprised could never fully share the range of emotions I experienced upon seeing this photo after an already amazing birthday.

 Park days.


My Junebug turned three! He loves all things orange, his family, and donuts. Hence, the donut cake that was a major win in my books.


Okay. I'm obviously having trouble picking just one photo per month. Bear with me! I just kind of love the beach and am getting all. the. feels. looking back!

 I just love this photo of Linus napping. Love it!
 Ready to go mingle and enjoy all the lovely women who attended the Edel Gathering 2014.
 Back home with my littles.
This photo is important to me because it was just before my disc in my lower back herniated. Simple chores like the one above were impossible to minimal the months that followed.

One word: recovery. Slowly but surely, I was recovering from my herniated disc.
 And, was grateful for all the time with family that were able to visit during the month and some of recovery. It brought me a sort of distraction (which I needed) and time to rest.

 I will forever love the photo above. Haha, the butterfly that confused my husband's bottom for a flower. Of all the places to repeatedly land!
All Hallow's Eve. St. Pascual and the Kitchen Angels and St. George's Dragon.

 Pumpkin farm for the win.
 These boys. Love their love!
First go at pumpkin carving. Final verdict: meh.

 So many firsts this year including this Ferris Wheel.
 The most beautiful tree we've ever had.
So much family time. Loved all of it.

 Papa, reading, and cheetahs.
 Our little family.
 Patiently waiting.
 Second cousins.  
 First driving lesson.
 Sunshine and comfort.


Let us begin again.
-St. Francis of Assisi

*  *  *  *  *  *  *

Thanks for stopping by and having a little glance at our year. I know I thoroughly enjoyed taking that sweet trip down memory lane. Hope you did too!

Happy New Year!

Thanks, Dwija! Head over to House Unseen. Life Unscripted. for more 12 in 2014.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

the side of love // a thankful heart leaves room

Back when I met with Sister Kathleen (Met once a week for over two years.), gratitude was the pinnacle of our conversations. Prayer and grace were also big contenders, but thankful hearts were mentioned in each visit because they lend to prayer and grace and all the things of virtue that would be kind of awesome to acquire.

Scriptures that rang of His Love for us because she wanted me to recognize how He loves me. Scripture of Trusting in Him, because she wanted to challenge me to love Him in a way that trusted Him with my whole self. All of this and more always led back to hopefully inspiring a thankful heart in me.

With Christmas just around the corner, so many things come to heart while anticipating the celebration of the birth of Our Lord. The child that was and is Our Savior. The One who came to save us. Our King! It's His birthday!

Slowly but surely we are drawn into this time, every year. A time that is meant to draw us into the reality of His Flesh. The same Flesh that was nourished and nurtured in the perfect womb of Our beautiful Lady. The same Flesh that walked this earth sharing miracles and love beyond comprehension. So so much to take in, and all a midst so. much. crazy!

As we all gear up to fight our urges to let the stream of our present culture of materialism and all. the. things. I am reminded of Sister and a story she once shared as well as some scripture we spent some time on. 
And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
-Colossians 3:16 
See, I need this reminder every time this season rolls around. It's so tempting for me to receive a gift and think that I don't need it. Or, if only they had gotten me this other thing that I could use, or whatever other thought of ingratitude you could fathom. This just happens sometimes. Call it sleep-deprived neurosis or call it just a moment that happens because. sin. Regardless, all of this comes from a place of selfishness, pride, and not having a thankful heart. 

Which leads me to that story Sister shared with me once.

I forget what the occasion was (or if there even was an occasion) but I remember that Sister had a friend that brought a box of goods - mostly clothing - to the convent. This woman brought the box of goods specifically to Sister and encouraged her to sift through the items because surely there would be something Sister could put to good use. 

Sister began rummaging through all of the items and found that all the sizes were size Large and up. Now if you know Sister, you know that she is a tiny, frail, lovely Irish woman that maybe touches 100 lbs but packs a punch of Jesus that makes you want to stay with her forever and ever just so you can feel His Goodness. She left the box in frustration. Sister felt it incredulous that this friend would think that she could use any item in the box and was frustrated at the time spent sifting through it. Surely she could have been off praying or tending to another chore, while another who would be able to use the items sifted.

After leaving the box and spending time in prayer, she felt disappointed with herself. Her friend had nothing but kind and good intentions for Sister, even if the items were twice to big for her. In turn, Sister sifted again and found a beautiful knit sweater. One that fit her largely but perfectly. It turned into her most cozy and worn item, especially because she was always cold in the building where she spent a lot of her time. A gift she found because of her change of heart. 

She later told me that, had she approached the box with a thankful heart, she wouldn't have had the temptation to react the way she originally did. She told me, had she only opened the box with grateful eyes and a grateful heart, she would have known to be thankful for the gift before even opening the box, because it was a gift given in love from a friend, and that was more than enough (Her friend really did want her to find something for herself, so she told me).

At the end of Sister sharing her story, she told me that because she did not have gratitude in her heart upon receiving her gift, she ultimately did not leave room for Him.

Thereafter, so many times she would remind me that a thankful heart leaves room for Our Lord to work in us. In our hearts. For Him to surprise us in ways that we never would have anticipated. For Him to prepare us to respond in love.
And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 
-Colossians 3:15
This season, I pray that we all can open our gifts with thankful hearts and eyes. Pray that we open our gifts with gratitude in our heart so that we can be open and ready to receive goodness from our loved ones and in turn from the One who first loved us. Pray that we be able to carry the hymn of gratitude this Christmas so that we can leave room for Him to be born into this world. His gift. The beginning of His ultimate gift for us! Pray that we can welcome Him into a little manger of gratitude gathered in our hearts.

Because in receiving with a thankful heart, we truly are not only receiving but also gifting our loved ones, friends, and in turn Our Lord, with love, goodness, and joy.

Pray you and your families have a Merry Christmas! I'll be over here hoping and praying for the grace to be gracious and thankful this season for all that is to come! What are your prayers this season?

I'll be over on Instagram till after Christmas. Hope you'll join me, but either way, till then, Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Wooden Saint Dolls

While at Edel, I met the lovely Lisa from Catholic Missionary Family. She always had a smile and was just beaming every time I saw her. 

Soon after Edel, there was a thread that shared all the different blogs that the various attendees authored. I read through so many of them but absolutely fell in love with these little wooden saint dolls that Lisa had on her blog

I got the itch and wanted to create. I couldn't wait, but I did because my back craziness ensued August through to early October. Life calmed down a bit soon after and I found time to grab the necessary items to get started on these lovely little wooden dolls.

Do visit her link here, she has so many great resources that I found so helpful. I also enjoyed scouring the internet for all things wooden saint dolls. It was a fun little journey that turned into a little prayer for me.

Without further ado, here's the cast:
St. Nicholas, St. John the Evangalist, St. Joseph the Worker, Holy Mary, Mother of God

I made the saints above for the boys for St. Nicholas feast day. St. Nicholas was a for sure, Mother Mary was another definite given recent feast days and the whole she-being-the-mama-of-Christ thing, and last were the patron saints of our boys.
I love the Holy Family and love that the boys have these to play and learn with.

I also made a few more saints. We were meeting some friends for dinner on the Feast of St. Nicholas so I thought I'd paint the patron saints of their three daughters.
Holy Mary Mother of God, St. Therese of the Little Flower , St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Lucy

Now here are the little saint dolls up close and personal:

St. Joseph the Worker
Holy Mary, Mother of God
St. John the Evangalist
St. Nicholas of Myra

 St. Lucy

St. Gianna Beretta Molla
St. Therese of the Little Flower

Since these, I've painted Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception (she's a special one for me) and am almost done with Our Lady of Guadalupe (She's almost done. Life happened but I'm almost done.).

I really loved painting these little dolls. I loved how, while painting them all I could think of was their love for Our Lord, reflecting on the lives that they all led, and how much I wanted to do their little wooden saint dolls justice. The saints and their prayers they have shared me throughout my life are so special and important to me. I lean on their wisdom often and pray that my boys will learn to do the same as they grow.

Have you ever painted wooden saint dolls? or done the wooden saint doll exchanges? I've only painted, never exchanged, but this really is a whole new fun world for me!

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