Sunday, May 31, 2015

embrace the ordinary // family

Twenty/52

Linus. 2. A character, full of charisma, and charm.
Bigfoot. Almost 4. Full of smiles, snuggles, and sweetness.
These brothers. Love when family visits, rough play, and climbing on grandparents.

Twenty-one/52

Bigfoot. Almost 4. Begs to be outside all day long and night/everyday, loves playing basketball with his daddy, grandpa, and uncle, and is impressively coordinated for an almost 4 year old.
Linus. 2. Likes to sing, play music on his new music box from GG, and is always content to play with his animal farm see and say.
These brothers. Family time is their favorite, throwing and catching big balls is always fun, and taking turns is a still a work in progress.
Lately we've been all about taking it easy, soaking up family and friend time when we can, and catching up on all the things we've gotten behind on with all the crazy Texas rain and the crazy busy month of April we had.

The month of May, aside from the overabundance of rain and now giant mosquitoes, has been so good to us! Now we're just hoping for more sunny days than the dark, dreary, stormy, wet ones we've been having and we'll be peachy (rather than madly stir-crazy!).

What was May like for y'all?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

mama moments // finding joy in the unexpected

Life keeps going. It keeps moving. Whether we want it to or not, onward the moments go. So much so it can feel like we are always seeking and yearning for a happiness and joy that just always seems to be two-steps too far ahead of us.

Still we stand trying and striving to embrace our present, all the while moving - always moving - to the rhythm that does not stop.

Did I laugh today? Did I smile? Was I happy? Did I have moments? 

Joy. Sorrow. Happiness. Suffering. They all are going to come. They always will come. How or when, we never know, but one thing we can trust is that these experiences will come.

--

This past Pentacost Sunday our priest shared a beautiful homily that awakened my little heart in a good way. A truth was shared and a goodness was revealed that had me smiling. 

Our priest talked of so many things but what stood out to me was when he described joy. When he described and defined something I know I struggle to exude only because I struggle to truly comprehend all that it is, my heart sighed joyfully.

When you don't fully understand something, how can you own it? Exude it? Experience it? Truly? I've known that I am happy and content. And, I've known that I've experienced joy in my life. But this, this brought joy to the forefront in a way it had never been before.

"What is happiness? Happiness is when what you want or expect to happen, happens.


You apply for a job you want and get it, you're happy. You ask a girl out and she says yes, you're happy. You have a job and are able to provide for your family, you're happy.


Joy. Joy is unexpected.


You forgive someone who has hurt you and experience an overwhelming peace - joy. You embrace and endure a suffering only to be relieved of it in time - joy. You struggle through the young years of parenthood but are smothered in hugs and kisses throughout the day, unprompted - joy."


-Fr. Alphonse


I had never taken the time to understand Joy other than when I would experience it in other holy men and women. They've got it! They have a joy that is so infectious I pray that I will someday be able to share that goodness with others too! Now, after listening to Father and letting his words sink in, I know I've had my fair share of good ol' joy in my life.

"The Apostles were filled with happiness and joy the moment the Lord appeared to them in their midst and through locked doors. Now they were ready to walk out and begin the greatest adventure of their lives." 
-Fr. Alphonse


In fact, this past weekend, my boys were gifted two guitars from their grandparents. My oldest loves all things music related and I love this about him. His excitement had been through the roof from the moment my parents told him they bought a guitar for him and his brother. He would ask daily, "Grandpa and nana here yet? Did they get me a guitar? They have a guitar for me, mama!"

We have music in our home everyday. We love Matt Maher, Audrey Assad, and now this new little band we stumbled upon through a playlist. This group has brought a lot of smiles and good feels around here. It's the Rend Collective band, not Catholic, but sharing beauty that is filled to the brim with goodness. There are two songs in particular that are my boys' current favorites - Second Chance and My Lighthouse.

After opening their gifts, the boys wanted me to play these two songs for them so that they could play along with their new guitars.

What I witnessed brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. My oldest sat nearby the video and with the most sincere of efforts played this song as well as his little three year-old, untrained-self, could.
My youngest lit up when My Lighthouse came on and he strummed and sang as loud as his little voice could sing.

I was caught off guard by their sincere efforts. They surprised me with their delight. By their love and goodness. Unexpectedly, joy made it's way into my heart and it was good. So so good.

"For me prayer is a surge of the heart, it is a simple look towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy."


-St. Therese of Lisieux


The thing is, had I not been able to embrace the birth of both of these boys - the trial of it, the suffering of it - I would never have known how good the joy in all the little moments to follow would feel. How they would pop up unexpectedly, every. single. day. Had I not experienced severe back pain last year, I wouldn't have been able to know the joy that it is to be able to get up and out of bed without pain.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.


-John 15:11-12


There's joy to be found in trial and in all good present moments as well. It's not either, or. It's both! All have their worth because He came. Because He died. And, because He rose.

What has brought you joy recently? How has He surprised you today?

Friday, May 22, 2015

these wild moments // gold

Co-hosting with the crazy-talented and super wonderful Aimee over at Wonder & Wild. I LOVE her new site, by the way! She was Aimee Lynn Photography, but has changed things up a bit, including this fun link-up!).

It's Friday and whereas before we'd be sharing our beauty finds today we will be sharing our moments based on a fun prompt for this new These Wild Moments link-up. If you have any moments of wild, be sure to link-up! Let's enjoy all the good and awesome that exists and share some wild in honor of today's theme. No wild photos, no problem, share what you have! We'd love to have you!!

I love taking pictures. I love when I remember to take pictures! And I love when I catch the moments. The little ones. I know you know which ones I'm talking about. The fleeting ones that were filled with smiles and memory and all the love. Those. Those moments are what keep me snapping and I know I will absolutely love looking through them when I'm old.

Photo-taking aside, we've been down in the dumps over here! The boys are still pretty coughtastic, I'm on the mend (definitely not in a terrible state at all, just know my back is off and I'm desperately trying to get it back to what it was a few weeks ago and what it has been for the last 5 months or so), and the rain...Lord, the rain! We have weeks, gosh, almost a month of rain over here and we're all starting to feel the crazy creeping in. So much so, that any time a little moment that is filled with fun and getting along...Gold, my friends, they are pure gold!

Now onto my bit of wild gold. The boys started popping and tossing little pom balls up into the air and thought it was the best idea they've ever had ever ever ever. I sat and watched, snapped a few, and enjoyed the laughter.



Fun, huh?

Now that I shared what fun and joy-filled looked like for a good 20 minutes, I'll share what the bummed and I'm-so-over-all-this-rain has been looking like.
I can find these little guys sitting here throughout the day identifying all the bugs and talking about how they want to go outside. Haha, poor things! I can feel their bummed little hearts just looking at this picture again.

Wild explorations and moments of running and jumping through tall grass and fun have not been happening at all lately but it's nice to see when these two little guys figure out ways to share some mildly wild fun inside.

Wonder + WIld


Monday, May 18, 2015

When Anxiety and Fear Strike: Saints, Loved Ones, & God

A week or so ago, I caught a sneezy cold that turned into a nasty cough. You would think this wouldn't be all that big of a deal and normally it isn't. But this time around it brought me to my knees in a fit of anxiety.

After one night of all the coughs and crazy I felt a twinge in my lower back. A mix of spasm and isolated dull pain. Fear made it's way in quick and took me straight back to my fairly recent injury (herniated disc) that had me in pain no matter whether I was lying down, sitting, or standing. Even though the twinge wasn't a crazy bout of pain, the potential for it to turn into the all too familiar crazy pain I experienced was enough to shut me down for a little.

I went to my husband in a fit of tears and was probably talking all sorts of crazy. I was encouraged to calm down and go to bed. I knew this is what needed to happen and so off I went to bed with my mind racing as fast as my heart.

On and on, through the night, my mind wandered here and there and back again. Calming down was not my forte that night.

But.

Prayer fused me back together. Not only prayers and conversations with my Lord but also the prayers that dear St. Gemma Galgani shared with me.


The night when my thoughts were running a-muck, after much googling of all the saint quotes and scriptures, my thoughts and heart ultimately came to this:

No matter what may come in the morning, all will be well.


I let that truth sink in, calmed down, and drifted to sleep. Thankfully, all was well come morn.

"It is true Jesus, if I think of what I have gone through as a child and now as a grown up girl I see that I have always had crosses to bear; But oh! how wrong are those who say that suffering is a misfortune!" 
St. Gemma Galgani

The saints have a way of sharing sweet kindness with us if we are open. Amazingly, their roads and paths have been traveled which is such a gift to us! After all was said and done, the ultimate message I embraced that night was even if I wake in miserable pain, all truly will be well.

St. Gemma is a saint I had never known prior to my injury. Not until I was in crippling pain did I seek this beautiful saint who struggled with back pain in such a severe way. And not only was she beautiful and could relate to where I was, but she had a love for God that awakened my little heart to embrace my suffering when I was first injured as well as bring calm to my most recent night of crazy.


The next day, Holy Spirit sent another gem my way. Sister Kathleen called. She too, in her old age, is struggling with severe upper back pain. We chatted and prayed and chatted. While chatting all our conversations led to the need to truly Let go.

We talked of the peace that comes with giving the Lord permission to truly reign in our lives. To let His good and perfect Will be all that we want. To trust Him entirely, no matter what suffering or joy may come.

I cried a good cry as we ended in prayer. There are so many ways that God meets me in my trials and I know that I am not alone in this. Not only dear St. Gemma and sweet Sister Kathleen, but my parents, in-laws, and friends alike have listened to my weariness. He truly does meet all of us if we just take a second (or more) to seek Him. He is there! The saints as well as the many saints-to-be that are among us are all willing and waiting to meet us too! Ready and excited to share their prayers for us in love and goodness.

It's a beautiful gift!

A gift we have in a God who promises to care for us all the days of our lives, in these wonderful men and women who have boldly gone before us in love with the same Trinitarian God we love today, and in the Body of Christ that is here sharing His True Presence ever so lovingly!

St. Gemma Galgani, pray for me...

Pray for us...

Pray for our family...


Come Holy Spirit...

Lord hear my little heart...

i am Yours...

Sunday, May 17, 2015

19/52: Throwback

Bigfoot. 2.5. Baby, baby, baby! You are growing so fast! You, who made me a mama and helped my heart grow bigger than I ever knew possible!
 Still just as sweet, if not sweeter! Who would have thought that would have been possible?
 Linus. 6 months. The cutenessssss! There then and still here now!
 I mean, come on! Look at those sweet dimples and that smile! Still lights me up.
So much love for these boys of mine. So much!

Saturday, May 16, 2015

these wild moments // together

I had a cold a few weeks back that shared some fever and a nasty cough. I got better and was beyond relieved it seemed to have been only I who fell sick. Since then we've stolen time outside even despite the constant rain that has been bombarding us daily, whether it be in the nuisance form of on and off sprinkling or full on thunderstorms.
These little guys come alive while outside. Sometimes with a little encouragement, some truly fun exploring happens. These little moments that make up our days are the ones I love to snap a photo of, even if with my crummy android phone camera.
The little moments that are made of love, breathing, joy, exploring, and fun are the same ones that help me embrace and get through times that bound us inside indefinitely. 
My youngest has a cold now, and my oldest has mostly been acting sick to gain full access of all the snuggles, cartoons, and juice. Either way, I imagine it's only a matter of time he follows suit. 

When our kids get sick it's tough to embrace. We had so many fun plans this weekend but we've had to cancel all of them thus far. But as I told my oldest who has been pretty bummed about  not getting to see his uncle today after all, we are a family and we get through things together.

Together is where we are called during our highs and our lows in this season of littles and that is good. What better place to be than with each other when we aren't feeling well? With the very people who have had an otherworldly love for each other since birth or marriage in the case of my husband and I. Together. Loving each other with presence and encouragement.

We'll be up and about soon enough. But it's in times like these that it's okay to embrace our uber calm weekend that is focused on tending the very littlest of us, all the while tending to our home and one another. It's an opportunity for love and service, the very virtues that bind families in a goodness that makes us better not only for others, but for each other.

Any fun weekend plans over in your parts? Wild moments of love and exploration?

Share in the comments or link-up with Gina for Embrace the Ordinary and Aimee for These Wild Moments.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

five favorites // Audrey Assad

Last week I shared my favorite Matt Maher songs. These songs fill our days with lots of fun, second chances, peace, joy, and love. I enjoyed sharing those songs so much I thought I'd come back today and share my current favorite Audrey Assad songs.

I don't remember how I was introduced to this incredibly talented artist, but I am forever grateful that I was. Her music wraps my heart with a peace that it yearns for in my silence, in my chores, in my moments of struggle, and in my moments of triumph. Her gift is oh so good!


1. I Shall Not Want

Gosh, this song just moves me! It brings me outside of myself when I need it! A gentle and good swift kick to my ego, pride, fears, anxieties, and more. It's beautiful and simple and lovely. 

2 Lead Me On

This song is similar in tone and word and prayer to the first song but deserves it's own spot for it's prayerful goodness. When I listen to this song it helps me find the words. Lead me on, Lord is a prayer I always want to live and plead and what better way than to sing it ever so beautifully.

3. Good To Me

This song was one of the first songs I heard of hers. I fell in love! We had some crazy ups and downs last year and this song always helped me remember truth. It helped me remember His goodness that is always present. I'm forever thankful for this song! In fact, anytime the boys hear this song come on...Mama, it's your favorite!

4. Help My Unbelief

Gosh, this song. Amen! During Mass, my prayers before Eucharist always include:

St. Thomas, pray for me.
Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, pray for me.
Lord, Help my unbelief.
Amen.

Or something to that gist. So, this song. Yup. I heart it!

5. Restless

You now those songs that put into words prayers that your heart has always tried to pray. That's what this song is. A prayer my heart heard, felt peace, and wanted to listen to/pray again and again. 

Bonus: Love is Moving

This one is new to me. I love it. It's Love. It's community. It's the Body. It's beautiful. Listen.
\

There you have it y'all! These songs! Audrey Assad has blessed my feminine heart. Truly! They bring such beautiful prayer and peace time and time again and I pray they do the same for you!

Do you have a favorite Audrey Assad song? If so, what is it?


Also, have you heard of her new and amazing project? She'll be marrying our lovely hymns of old with her incredibly beautiful talent, and I couldn't be more excited!


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

finding beauty // eighteen

Eighteen/52

Linus. 2. Skiddish around animals that are close in size to him (despite how much he loves the furry little things), has the sweetest little toddler voice, and gets most excited when his brother comes home or wakes up in the morning just because he wants to be with him.
 Bigfoot. Almost 4. Asking all the questions, constantly exploring this great big world, and lives for time with daddy and mama.
Lots of sweetness round these parts! Despite some random old house craziness, we've been doing really well! I'm finally feeling better (and no one else seemed to catch my coughy cold), we have family coming in town in a couple weekends, and we're going to see my brother and his girlfriend this coming weekend too! All which have us so excited!

Today I'll be responding to comments that I so appreciate! I mean seriously, y'all make a girl feel so loved! Sorry I haven't been keeping up with it, but I know y'all understand! Also hoping to crank out a few posts now that I'm not feeling as cloudy in my brain from that cold and general yuckiness from all these days of stormy weather! I'm excited and feeling thankful!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

phfr // joy in my heart

Storms, wind, and rain are what started our weekend with friends. Sunshine, cool breezes and all the amazing are what we were able to embrace as soon as the stir of weather blew through.

What was left after the storms was opportunity. Opportunity for community, love, memories, fellowship, laughter, beauty, and so much more.

Beauty
The weather could not have been more magical. It was beautiful.
And this beautiful home that my friend's family has nourished is stunning in all possible forms. From this beautiful grotto...
to all the other little details they have scattered throughout the grounds.
We had a little May crowning while there. This grotto is just beyond stunning and all the kids decorated this beautiful space with all of roses.

Happy
The boys were so happy to be able to make another trip Muenster, TX. My oldest looks forward to it now the moment I remind him of this beautiful home that our friend's family shares with us. All 5-8 families that come and plop for a weekend.

Lots and lots of happy.
Linus wasn't a fan of Lightning the cat and was pretty funny about it.
Bigfoot played sports all. weekend. long. with any and all persons who would acknowledge him.




Funny
Somehow I always manage a napping husband photo on our trips. The same husband who was claiming to always be up in the morning and full of all the energies. I think these photos are becoming a thing. Love you, babe ;)
When I said the kids decorated the grotto, what I was also getting at is that they pretty much plucked every possible rose up to little kiddo eye level in sight. Literally.

As beautiful and filled with love this little grotto was, those poor poor rose bushes.
I'll tell you what, all these little kiddos became quite the hard workers when it came to loving the Holy Family.
Last funny was Linus. The boys loves horses. He found a few that were perfect for his little hands and dragged one in particular all throughout the weekend.
The sweet little horse was everywhere both days we were there.
I will say it did keep this little one quite content.

Real
Time together. All the time together allowed for us to just embrace our little families. Spend quality time being present and away from all things related to the daily grind. Time filled with eye contact, hugs, fun, and play. 
I'm so grateful to our friends and their family for opening their home that is just an hour away from where we live. They have no idea how much of a gift they give our family. We all came home filled with renewal and ready to embrace our week.
All the space these grounds offer allow for so much magic and fun.
My boys are still talking about all they did there and asking to go back tomorrow, pweese!
As much as we try to create this type of place in our own home there's a degree of adventure that happens when we leave our abode and travel elsewhere.
And the fact that the adventure happens together as a family helps build us in ways only our future selves will fully grasp and appreciate.
Playing together.
Discovering together.
Dancing in the sun together.
Walking alongside each other on grounds that feel familiar but still are able to contain a degree of newness that is exciting.

Finding new bugs.
Working on a greater good.

All the while being surrounded by the sweetest and most beautiful of reminders of what it's really about. What it is always about. 

Our little family had an amazing time a few weekends ago. We're so grateful and filled to the brim with love for our friends who bless us so beautifully.
God knew what He was doing when He brought us to where we are. He knew being away from our immediate family would be hard so He sent us quite the gift in the wonderful people that we are blessed to call friends.
"Friendship is the source of the greatest pleasures, and without friends even the most agreeable pursuits become tedious."
-St. Thomas Aquinas

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...