Friday, December 25, 2015

liturgical living // shout for joy

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of him who brings glad tidings,
announcing peace, bearing good news,
announcing salvation, and saying to Zion,
“Your God is King!” 
Hark! Your sentinels raise a cry,
together they shout for joy,
for they see directly, before their eyes,
the LORD restoring Zion.
 
-Isaiah 52: 7-8


Merry Christmas, everyone!

I just wanted to stop in real quick and wish you all a wonderful Christmas Day and an even more blessed and beautiful continued 12 days of Christmas celebrations! 

I also wanted to thank each and everyone of you who have ever stopped by our little space on the web! For all who ever read my mommy rambles and life-shares, left comments, built friendships and community, shared themselves, prayed for me and our family, let me pray for you and yours, joined in fun email exchanges, and so much more, thank you, thank you, Thank YOU! There's so much good I've experienced here and I could not be more grateful for every experience! Truly, you've been such a gift to me and in turn, our little family!

Praying for God's Goodness, Love, Joy, and Peace be with you and yours this season and all throughout the year!

Break out together in song,
O ruins of Jerusalem!
For the LORD has comforted his people,
has redeemed Jerusalem. 
-Isaiah 52: 9

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

moments of grace // beautiful love

When I was 12 years young, I began a journey that would be one of the biggest gifts I would ever receive. I attended a Youth 2000 Retreat a few months after having injured my lower back and was in a bit of a vulnerable place. I was seeking comfort and hope. I was longing for something more.

At the time, my little teenager self was so very devastated about my injury. Thankfully, being active in my youth group, my parents and youth ministers encouraged me to attend this retreat. Thankfully, I said a little yes that would easily become one of my biggest.

Prior to this little injury, one that kept me from playing summer sports (Tennis was my absolute favorite!), I had also lost my beloved grandmother. In fact, I had a beautifully vivid dream the night before she passed. I woke up crying because I knew how much I'd miss her. How much my heart would be torn and how much turmoil my little teenager self would feel! The morning of my dream, after waking with my own tears, I remember walking to the hallway and seeing my mom walk in the door with tears in her own eyes. The kind of tears that had been streaming for awhile. The kind of tears that only a daughter can shed at the loss of her mother.

Amidst these two events, the emotional crazy of  middle school and high school proceeded as they always would.

Onto the retreat, and I can easily say that it was exactly what my heart needed. Falling in Love with the One who shared beautiful love through my grandmother was what I needed. Healing in the gift of Eucharistic Adoration was exactly what my flesh yearned for. Love, healing, and learning to Trust the One who has been with me all along was what I had been seeking all along. That weekend, my journey with Him whom my soul has always longed for, began. It was kind of wonderful. It was kind of beautiful. And, it was all kinds of grace-filled.

That weekend, so long ago, c h a n g e d me.

I went through high school with friends who I still love more than they'll ever know. They helped keep me looking up. Looking to the One who is Love. They helped me during sad times and laughed with me during happy times. We walked together, learning, growing, and living in His Grace and Goodness. Living in His Love through the gift of community and faith.

During college, my journey with Love grew more than I could have ever fathomed. He met me in Mass, He met me in prayer, He met me in every theology and spiritual read I could get my hands on, He met me for 40 days in Eucharistic Adoration during Lent and more...

He always met me, held me through heartache, loved me through friends and community and family, and cared for me in the beautiful treasures of our Faith.

Fast forward to today and not much has changed.

"I wait for the LORD, my soul waits and I hope for his word. 

My soul looks for the Lord more than sentinels for daybreak. 

More than sentinels for daybreak.."  

-Psalm 130: 5-6


Fast forward to today and everything has changed.

See, back when I was 12, the Truth, and Goodness, and Beauty that He is became more real to me than my own beating heart. Grace upon grace held me and kept me. Seeking Him became second nature. It's what I did with the help of Mother Church, family, friends, community, and all the gifts He had shared with me along the way. It's also what I did because my parents blessed me with prayer, Mass, and love throughout my childhood - a pathway I was blessed to be on that lead me to Him in a mysteriously beautiful way.

I learned to wait. I learned to wait on Him, because at the end of each and everyday that's all there was. He was and has always been all there ever was and all there ever would be.

So now, here I am, soon to have my third cesarean. The first which was traumatic but brought the greatest gift of my firstborn and the absolute treasure of being blessed to be called mama, the second which brought my personality-for-days second-born and amazing healing in the experience of a cesarean, and now the third which comes with a beautifully healthy little hiccuping sweet love in my womb and complications that have stunned me into stillness from fear of all the unknowns.


Truly though, He still beckons me.

“Arise, my friend, my beautiful one, and come!" 

-Song of Songs 2:10


We are seven days away from meeting our newest little love. The love I have for this little one is beautiful and good. In the same way that my love for our two sweet boys just pierces me to my core, I am reminded that my love for them is only a hint of how amazing His love is for me. There is much comfort in that. So much comfort.

"There is no moment at which God does not present himself under the guise of some suffering, some consolation or some duty. All that occurs within us, around us and by our means covers and hides his divine action. His action is there, most really and certainly present, but in an invisible manner, the result of which is that we are always being taken by surprise and that we only recognize his operation after it has passed. Could we pierce the veil and were we vigilant and attentive, God would reveal himself continuously to us and we should rejoice in his action in everything that happens to us. At every occurrence we should say: Dominus est. It is the Lord; and in all circumstance we should find a gift from God: we should consider creatures as very feeble instruments in the hands of an almighty worker, and we should recognize without difficulty that nothing is lacking to us and that God's constant care leads him to give us each instant what is suited to us."


- Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade


Here I am. Again, He calls me into the unknown. I don't know if this little one will be ready to leave the comfort of my womb at 37-weeks. I don't know if this cesarean will proceed as simply and sweetly as my last one that brought so much healing because of my current situation of having placenta previa. I don't know if we'll have a NICU stay, trouble nursing, trouble healing, extra surgeries, need for blood transfusions, and who knows what else. I suppose, all these things are truly unknown even if we were to wait for our little one to be born at 40-weeks, but everything about this leaves me whispering, Jesus, I trust in You, rather than proclaiming it.

And, that's okay.

"Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life; Rather look to them with full hope that as they arise, God, whose very own you are, will lead you safely through all things; And when you cannot stand it, God will carry you in His arms. Do not fear what may happen tomorrow; The same everlasting Father who cares for you today will take care of you today and every day. He will either shield you from suffering or will give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations."


-St. Francis de Sales

I am arising in my little ways, one day at a time. I am whispering my fiat and my trust in Him, because at the end of the day I love Him and He loves me. He is all there is and all there every will be.


Dominus est.

It was Him when I was 13 years young and in love and it is Him walking along with me down this path to the birth of our newest little gift - another little love that will again change nothing and everything.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

liturgical living // St. Nicholas

Despite having taken it easy these past weeks of life, I and my dear husband were able to swing some sweetness for the Feast of St. Nicholas. 

This wonderful saint's feast day has easily become a favorite in our home and definitely a part of our family traditions having celebrated him one way or another these last two to three years.

Special times these are! Planting our sweet little seeds of faith and love and goodness for our family couldn't make me more happy!
Since we've been nudged into a very simple Advent season, Thriftbooks.com and some Halloween candy leftovers were our friend.

We got the boys two new books each, left out our little dvd from last year as well as one of our St. Nicholas reads that they received last year too.

Shoes were left out and the boys were excited for morning.

My youngest just adores all things dragon related. He honestly runs around the house in his dragon attire at least once a day baring his "claws" and breathing fire. Sometimes he's the nice gentle dragon that St. George managed to tame and other times he's the ferocious dragon. As long as you don't call him by his actual name during these one-acts, you're in the clear and will survive the dragon's wrath.
Two new dragon books and two new faith/celebration of Christ's books were unwrapped and enjoyed throughout the day.

Candy was the first thing to touch their lips this morning and you could just feel the sheer joy from this sweet happening.
Daddy made us all a delicious breakfast and made a quick donut run...because feasting and all.

For the most part, we took it easy and the boys got to enjoy some of their favorite things on a beautiful day.

Our Mr. Outdoorsy/Sport-loving/filled to the brim with energy child got to have some fun outside with daddy, which was such a treat! They haven't been able to play outdoors together in awhile with the light being gone by the time daddy gets home and the yucky rainy weather we've had on and off these last weeks.
While my little artist/book worm/creative got to have some alone time drawing on his LeapFrog. 
It was a good day of feasting, learning more about our faith and one of it's defenders, and family.

Little by little, liturgical rhythm finds it's way into our homes and hearts and I am just loving it!

“The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic Gods giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves.” 
~St. Nicholas of Myra

Thursday, December 10, 2015

made with love // thanksgiving

Gosh, nothing like a good little scare to put life into perspective...again.

It's funny how that is, isn't it? Everything seems to immediately get prioritized by love when crazy hits the fan doesn't it?

The Thursday before Thanksgiving, while I was at our family bible study with the boys (husband had to work), I had some bleeding. We were 32 weeks at the time and not ready for something like that to happen. Not sure anyone really is ready for things like that. Especially during pregnancy!

I, honestly, can't imagine what our friends thought of me while I walked out of the bathroom and into the living room. Pretty sure I had that blank deer-in-the-headlights look and asked them to help me get the boys in the van so I could get to the hospital.

Thankfully, they talked some sense into me and offered to let my kiddos hang out while we went and took care of life and it's happenings. I called my husband as soon as I was driving and made the drive.

Contractions and bleeding. Bed rest and fluids. Doctors orders. Done and done.

See..I have placenta previa, as many of you know (I'll let you look it up if you've never heard of it rather than go into details). What I will say is that if we get to the no-bueno point it could be a not good situation pretty quickly.

I spent the whole next week of Thanksgiving resting like I've not rested since before the boys all thanks to my husband and my parents.

Times like these, your heart really can't help but burst with gratitude. Seeing your children, un-phased and filled with joy and smiles, even though your heart feels the anxiety and a weight of your present moment brings such a peace.

That gift would not have been possible without lots of grace, the gift of service from my husband, and the gift of my parents being able to spend an entire week with us to help.

Now, because of all the resting and crazy in my heart, I really didn't capture as many memories as I did last Thanksgiving. I just pray that these tidbits will always help share the fun and love that was had over an entire week of goodness filled with so much gratitude.
I found these words by St. Josemaria Escriva, and couldn't be more thankful for them. They truly represent the last few weeks I've experienced. So much peace, so much grace, so much thanksgiving.
"I cannot but be satisfied, when I see that, despite my own wretchedness, our Lord built up so many wonderful things around this Work of God. The life of a man who lives by Faith will always be the story of the mercies of God. At some moments the story may perhaps be difficult to read, because everything can seem useless and even a failure. But at other times our Lord lets one see how the fruit abounds and then it is natural for one's soul to break out in thanksgiving." 
-St. Josemaria Escriva, Conversations, 72 
Family, friends, and my husband have just been so amazing throughout this time of unknown. And, speaking of family, here's a sweet shot of my parents that did so much for us that whole week of Thanksgiving.
My parents tended to the boys, took them out, played with them, did crafts, helped with upkeep of our home, and just filled our home with lots of love and laughter over the holidays.

This man. He's good. Oh so good. And, I love him more than he'll ever know. True story.
As many of you know, I really do enjoy being in the kitchen, especially when it comes to baking. Unfortunately, baking pies and other desserts was not in my forcast, but I was able to make that easy-peasy Dark Chocolate Pumpkin Spiced Pecan Fudge. So. Good! And dairy-free to-boot!
This whole feast was prepared and cooked by my mama and brother's fiance! So amazing! Everything was delicious and wonderful and I still can't believe I didn't lift a finger the entire time this was getting put together!
Always a good time when we get to see these two! Love my brother and his fiance! As do the boys. So much!
Family photo for the win! Thanksgiving 2015!
Fun times were had. Lots of games, drawing, and crafting.

Bigfoot really enjoyed Jenga and Linus enjoyed it at some point...or, so I'm told.
Little sneaker couldn't decide whether he enjoyed winning or being the reason everything falls over.
Meanwhile, this guy snuck in some snuggles and tablet reading with his Daddy.
Lots of tickling, getting thrown around, squeezed in some outside time (It rained almost the entire week my parents were here!), and tennis. The boys loved it.
I tell you what: These boys were missing their grandpa and nana as soon as they knew they weren't staying forever, but all that aside, so much fun was had and oodles of memories were made.
From the few memories I captured, I'm sure you can see why the gratitude meter was just bursting!

I rested. They played, laughed, and loved.

Since the time my parents left, we've been blessed abundantly with meals and various acts of service from dear friends. It's more than we could ever ask for or fathom.

I think it's safe to say that our Thanksgiving week was made with love! It's in times like this that the quote below means so much more to me:

“Today if we have no peace it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other—that man, that woman, that child is my brother or my sister.” 
- Blessed Teresa of Calcutta
For now, that's my little update. I've been wanting to write and share so much lately but just haven't had the energy or brain to do so. With grace and time, I hope to share a bit more even if just bits and pieces of our family scrapbook. I'm thinking a good next share should be of Precious P growing in my belly from start to now. We are less than 20 days from being able to hold and snuggle our newest little love in our arms! So hard to fathom! But so exciting too!

Thank you for your continued prayers! Symptoms lasted a while, but thankfully have slowed or fully stopped since then. We're now just praying that the symptoms don't return till the tad-bit early birth of our little one, praying that our little one will be ready to meet us (especially since it will be earlier than 39-40 weeks), and praying for His Will to be done and that we be able to embrace it with peace and joy, no matter what may come. So thank you, your prayers truly mean so much to us! 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

embrace the ordinary // like a child

Mama, let's read this book again.

Our friends! Can they come over? Are they coming over? Today? Tomorrow? the Next day? Again, please? 

Can we go to this place? Or that one? Again?

Drawwwww!....Mama, I wan drwaaaw, again!

This show, mama! I love this one! Can I watch it again? or this one? Again?

Let's play catch this morning! This afternoon? Tonight? Everyday, and all day!?

Let's go outside! Can we go? Again? Pleasssssseeeee????

The list goes on and on. The requests seem to never stop coming from their innocent and easily delighted minds.

Again. Again. Again! 



And then there's me. I grow tired of the constant requests. I say No more than I care for to some of the little things and to some of the big ones too. Again and again and again, and I'm always left wondering how they never grow tired of doing the same thing. Wanting the same thing. Loving the same thing. Delighting in the same thing.

Again.

Which makes me wonder what it is they are asking of me. You know? Underneath it all. When the outward appearance of the inward need gets pulled forth. That little big thing. What is that?

I could name it oodles of different things but what I always come back to, and feel it always comes down to, is will you love me in this way.

Again.

Will you love me with your time? Sitting here with me? Holding me and reading to me? The same book, the same way, you did it that one time that made my eyes light up? That way that delighted my senses and imagination?!

Will you love me with your effort? Sharing with me, getting down on the floor with me for this game, or feeding me? Not just physically but spiritually too? In ways that delight my soul? Showing me what service looks like? Again?

So I, too, can learn how to be love.

Will you love me through teaching me? Show me the world? Show me His Goodness? Again and again and again?! Expose me to beauty, to truth, and to all the things that make your heart make sense of the world around us? Show me all the ways that you delight in the world so I can have all the fun delighting in it too?

Will you love me in this way? Unconditionally?...Every time?...

I've been gifted these sweet little ones. These beautiful and good hearts. They love me. So much. They love me. Unconditionally. Good days, bad days, in between days, again and again, they love me.

And as much as I love them as unconditionally as my little mama heart can, my tainted soul that has lived this life does so imperfectly.

I imagine that's where the again and again and agains come from...maybe?

Either way, all of this just takes me aback. To be like a child really isn't so far from being an adult child of God. We are His Sons and Daughters. Always. He never stops. Never tires. He shows us. Patiently and sweetly. He meets us. Promptly and boldly. He hears our requests over and over and over again.

Because He who is Love, Loves us more than we'll ever fully know here in this world. He delights in us in all the little and big ways that a child so easily delights in all of the little and big things of their encounters.

And my boys. They come to me, my husband, and to our family and friends, with joy in their hearts with all of their requests bursting from their lips. As it should be.

As we were created to be. Will you love me like He loves you? Like He loves me?

I am not perfect. I don't meet their every need and never will. I don't always delight in the ways they delight or love them as well as I'd always prayed I would.

But then there's our Perfect Father. The One who loved us all before we were made known to our mother's womb. He is the One, the Perfect One that will meet my little ones where I lack. And He is the One who meets me, His daughter, any and every time I come to Him. Sharing my heart. Sharing the little whispers of my soul, again and again and again. He is the One who sees me, knows me, loves me and will be with me all the days of my life. Him.

He is the one that shares all the beauties and all the goodness of this world with my little heart, just the same way I pray I can share all of these bits of His Glory with my little ones, husband, family, and friends.

But these little ones - they teach me. Encourage me to get outside of myself - a place I can be found often. They encourage me to humble myself again and again and again. To become more like the sinner who is grateful for her beautiful Savior rather than just a sinner with no hope of truth, goodness, beauty, or delight. 

Embracing the little ordinaries of these little gifts in my life has done more good for my soul than I ever could have imagined. This road to sanctification is mine and it makes more and more sense to my soul, no matter how hard it can be for my flesh. This road to sanctification has taught me more about my good and loving Savior than I ever anticipated. How He loves me unconditionally. How He loves me like a child.

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, "Do it again"; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, "Do it again" to the sun; and every evening, "Do it again" to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.” 

― G.K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy


Again and again, they teach me. Again and again, He teaches me. Again and again, I'm thankful. And, again and again, I am shared another opportunity to know, love, and serve the One who delights in me most through the ones He has shared with me.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

what I wore // a slow and good togetherness

Slow. Sunny. Cool. and Sweet.

Sunday has been nice.

Since the boys caught a virus the other day and one of them is a little on the coughy side, we decided to keep the little guys home from Mass. My oldest has been coughtastic, depending on the hour, and I really didn't want him having a coughing germ-fest next to the dear old woman or next to the family of littles while at Mass.

Which brings us to the hubs and I. We were able to go to Mass one at a time. As much as I would have loved for us to go together, going individually was nice too.

Some nice stillness. Some good presence. and More chances to quiet the soul in ways I know I am capable of, all the while trying to grasp a little bit of grace to embrace today's scripture and all the words that were being tossed out in hopes to land somewhere in my heart.

Today has been good.

The boys are definitely on the mend and sounding much better tonight than they were this morn.

Lots of rest. Lots of gentleness. and Lots of togetherness.

Now, onto what we wore!

We'll start with the boys. They sported their PJs and toys, books and blankets, all day.



And then there's me and my little photobomber/baby bump head-butter.
The boy just can't help himself. There are oodles of these photos of him running around me with his slew of dinosaurs.
These last two have my more pleasant face. I'll spare you my wide-eyed/come-on-bud face.
These shoes have been with me since my oldest. COMFORT! They are crocs and I heart them. Even if I have a day of swollen feet, they are still just as comfy. It's kind of magical.
I've had these skinny maternity jeans since Bigfoot too. The sweater/cardi has been with me since grad school and the floral tunic is a Marshall's find.
There you have it friends! A quick glance at our Sunday wear and out little sillies who are on the mend.


Favorite readings from today //

In those days, Elijah the prophet went to Zarephath.
As he arrived at the entrance of the city,
a widow was gathering sticks there; he called out to her,
"Please bring me a small cupful of water to drink."
She left to get it, and he called out after her,
"Please bring along a bit of bread."
She answered, "As the LORD, your God, lives,
I have nothing baked; there is only a handful of flour in my jar
and a little oil in my jug.
Just now I was collecting a couple of sticks,
to go in and prepare something for myself and my son;
when we have eaten it, we shall die."
Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid.
Go and do as you propose.
But first make me a little cake and bring it to me.
Then you can prepare something for yourself and your son.
For the LORD, the God of Israel, says,
'The jar of flour shall not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
until the day when the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'"
She left and did as Elijah had said.
She was able to eat for a year, and he and her son as well;
the jar of flour did not go empty,
nor the jug of oil run dry,
as the LORD had foretold through Elijah.

-1 Kings 17: 10-16

Saturday, November 7, 2015

finding beauty // little big moments

"All the wealth in the world cannot be compared with the happiness of living together happily united."


-Blessed Margaret d’Youville



A few weeks back we had the pleasure of witnessing two of our loved ones become happily united. The weekend was full and good.

Love and smiles abounded. Hugs and embraces, everywhere. Sunshine and breezes, beautiful. Friends and family, by the crowds.

As much as exhaustion and fatigue set in all too quickly for this preggo mcpreggoson the presence of family and the joy in this beloved couple kept me going going going.

What also kept me going going going were the little big moments that filled the weekend with so much love and goodness and beauty. I snapped photos here and there of family moments - big and small - all that filled my heart.

These little sweet memories are what the present moment is filled with. Life. Looks. Light. Love. Hugs. Being held. Sharing stories. Sharing meals. Sharing. Coffee. Comfort. Kindness. Blankets. Mornings. Snuggles. Sleeping. Rushing. Time. Togetherness. Getting dressed. Preparing. Loving. Embracing. Seeing. Knowing. Laughing. and More.

Through it all our family made so many lovely memories before, during, and after this beautiful event and these are some of my favorites!
Smiles, Joy, and Snuggles.
Dancing. Exploring, and Fun.
Loving, Exciting, and a soon to be Aunt.
Uncles, Play, and the Little Things.
Snails, Bouncing balls, and Happy Hands.
Grandparents, Kickball, and Sunshine.
All the Joy, Authenticity, and Togetherness.
Time, Breezes, and Moments.
Storytelling over breakfasts, Porch Chats, and Coffee.
Blankets, Smiles, and all the Magic.
Sillies, Family, Moments they'll Never Forget.
Relationships, Friendships, Forever Forming.

I'm telling you. The little things. They make life lovely.


The landscape He provides us is rich and beautiful, always. The goodness that is waiting to be found and held is so incredible! And, the Truth that reigns in the love that is had by so many created in Goodness and Love can't help but radiate a Peace and Joy that surpasses all understanding.

Linking-up with PHFR, Theme Thursday for Sunflares (late submission! Promise I'll catch up soon!), and 7QT (Because I'm sharing 7++++ photos of some quick-love!).

childhood // linus is four

Our resident knight turned four. He is the sweetest little gift jam-packed with adventure, bravery, love, fierceness, courage, creativity, i...