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Archive for the ‘linkups’ Category

So today’s post is brought to you courtesy of the Catholic Women’s Blogger Network.  It’s part of our monthly blog hop and I totally would not be writing it if it weren’t.

Because here’s where I peek out from under my somewhat ill-fitting Catholic blogger hat and admit that my true feelings about Confession are a mixture of guilt and discomfort.  I hate that but it’s the truth.

I wrote the whole story here if you want to read it.  When did I write it?  A little over four years ago, which is the last time I went to Confession.

I can’t tell you how I long for the days when we were marched regularly into the cafeteria of St. Joseph School, with no advance warning or choice in the matter, and told that we were going to confession in the dark little closet where Father Henkel waited.  I’d stand in a red plaid line, leaning against the radiator for warmth and secretly wondering about how long certain people were taking.  Before I knew it I was all finished, back on the hard wooden kneeler saying two Our Fathers and one Hail Mary, and my soul was white as snow.

Clearly this is the Lent of hard things for me with lessons to be learned, and if I am really paying attention it would seem that this is one of them.  Will I go to our parish’s upcoming Lenten penance service and find a friendly priest in the basement to hear my uncomfortable and unprofessional recitation of sins? Only time will tell.

To read more reflections on the Sacrament of Confession, click the image below.

march blog hop

 

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I’m grateful that I’m committed to contributing a post to the Catholic Women Bloggers Network bloghop today, because the truth is  our family has been needing to reevaluate “how we Lent.”  What was once a pretty intense observance has in recent years become fairly cursory and my husband and I are not happy about that.

Why did this happen?  I’m going to blame a combination of factors–our move five years ago to a house half an hour away from our parish church,  no current affiliation with a Catholic school (after 14 years), and having less and less of an inclination to leave home for church events or any other events (caused probably by burnout after years of extreme involvement).

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I often feel out of place when wearing my Catholic blogging hat because (as you will no doubt see if you–as you should!–read the rest of the posts in this hop) the majority of Catholic mom bloggers seem to be living faith-filled lives and setting great examples for their little kids and basically being all Catholic all the time better than I’ve ever been able to manage.  But maybe I am not the only one out there who feels this way and so I’m going to go public as Catholic slacker blogger to encourage all the rest of you to do better this Lent.

Now I am tempted to say, “We are so bad and sinful and we have been doing Lent all wrong! We are going to be so holy for forty days!  We will do all the Lent things there are!”  But I kind of feel like that is a recipe for disaster.  For several years I prided myself on my extremely strict Lenten fasting:  No meat at all–even fish–for forty days (except at the Friday fish fry).  No eating between meals.  No food at all on Ash Wednesday or Good Friday.  Nothing but liquids until supper on every Friday.  And no Sundays off!  I stopped doing that a few years ago and I am not going to do it again.  Honestly, I think that strictness is part of what triggered my “failure” in subsequent Lents.

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So here is what we ARE going to do (insofar as we have planned at this point).  We will all make some form of Lenten sacrifice; we will follow all rules regarding fasting and abstinence; we will go to the Stations of the Cross EVERY Friday; I am going to participate in an online book club; and at least some of us are going to take part in this Lenten meditation.  We may do more, but that will be icing on the cake (presuming no one gives up cake!).

For more ideas for Lent observances, please visit the other posts in the hop by clicking the picture below.

siena-sisters

How do you “do Lent” in your family?  If you want, you can tell me in the comments!

 

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When our first child was a baby, 25 years ago, I had very specific ideas about Christmas that went along with my ideas about being a perfect mother.

From time to time when I was a child, my mother would suggest we should cut back on Christmas gift giving and concentrate instead on the true meaning of Christmas.  At which point we kids would raise a chorus of protests.  (Never happened, naturally.)

I thought to conquer materialism on the front end, by buying just a few well-chosen presents.  And that first year, it worked.  Between us and Santa, baby Emily received about $50 worth of well-chosen gifts.  My memories of that Christmas are idyllic:  Christmas dishes displayed in the china cabinet, Celtic Christmas music in the background, a baby in red velvet eating apple cinnamon bread, Midnight Mass, a day spent showing off Emily to adoring family members.

emily-christmas-baby

Of course it escalated from there.  And I didn’t count on extended family who didn’t want to get with the program.  Eventually several relatives who wanted the kids to get lots of presents but didn’t know what to buy them started sending me so much money I could hardly figure out how to spend it all, resulting in a veritable mountain of gifts under our tree each year.

That’s not to say that we ever left Christ out of Christmas. Presents were important, no doubt, but I don’t think our kids have ever forgotten the reason for the season.

The way we keep Advent has a lot to do with this, I think.  Two weeks before Christmas, the only signs of the season apparent are our Advent wreath and a few other candles here and there.  Our preparations build slowly–the other decorations will go up next weekend, probably, and the tree just a few days before Christmas.  We hold off on hosting any sort of gatherings until just a few days before Christmas or ideally even afterwards, waiting to start celebrating until the Guest of honor has arrived!

Religious decorations are given pride of place in our home.  Yes, we have Santas and trees, but my favorite Santa shows that he knows his proper place in the celebration.

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Christmas really begins for us on Christmas Eve, when we attend Mass as a family.  Not Midnight Mass, which doesn’t work for us at this point, but an evening Mass which we traditionally follow with a dinner out before coming home to one of my favorite Christmas rituals.

Every Christmas Eve, each child gets one present to open and it is always a Christmas book.  So the last thing the kids do before going to bed to talk and dream of Santa and presents is listen to me reading them Christmas stories, both the new ones and old favorites, most of which relate to the true meaning of Christmas.

Christmas Day is all presents and dinner and family and more presents, but one way we avoid having it turn into a materialistic free-for-all is that in our family presents are opened one at a time, youngest to oldest, until everyone finishes.  The kids are excited to see the happiness of the other members of the family upon opening gifts.  We do this in the morning and then we do it all again after dinner with the extended family–almost twenty people taking turns.  It takes HOURS.  It teaches patience.  And in the exchange of gifts and the love they represent we commemorate God’s gift of Christ to us, always recalling that God Himself is Love.

This post is part of the Siena Sisters’ CWBN Blog Hop.  You can read other posts by clicking here.

 

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You’d think I could manage to find a few minutes a week to join in this easy and fun linkup hosted by my friend Cristina or Handmaid Embroidery.  <Sigh> How wrong you would be!  I am finding it more and more difficult to carve out any time to do what I want most–WRITE.  But I’m doing it today, even though I really should be working instead!

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So here we go with a peek into my week!

Cooking: I continue to be mostly a short-order cook, but this week’s big production was a beef stew.  I make a delicious beef stew, if I do say so myself.  The liquid in this one was almost entirely alcoholic to start (beer, white wine, and red wine).  And I don’t just throw in some potatoes and carrots and call it a day.  My stew had potatoes of all colors, as well as sweet potatoes, parsnips, turnips, rutabagas, and butternut squash.  Too bad I forgot that Jake and Teddy don’t live here anymore, because we will never eat it all.

Reading:  I have book club on Monday, and this time I actually read the book! It’s called Perfume: The Story of a Murderer, and it was both fascinating and horrifying.  I’m also still reading Con Job by my friend Crystal, and I think there’s a Star Wars book Emily wants me to read that I promised to start next!

Wanting:  Spring!  And all the plants! I have to wait a little while, though.  The only thing that is certain about East Tennessee weather is that it will change.  Just because it was 80 yesterday doesn’t mean we won’t see another frost.  In fact, I’m certain we will.

Loving:  Spring Break, including being able to sleep a little later, write a little more, do some fun things with the kids, and not work so frantically.  Too bad it is half over.

Thinking:  Trying to organize an itinerary for our little weekend trip to Chattanooga.  More on that next week, I hope!

Working on:  Getting my work stuff organized so I can figure out what to start on today and what I need to get done before we head out of town.

And that’s it for this week.  Be sure to check out the rest of linkup by clicking here!

 

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Lovely Tidbits Handmaid Embroidery

Linking up today with my friend Christina of Handmaid Embroidery to give anyone who is interested a peek into what’s going on around here this week!

Going:  Just returned from an awesome trip to Notre Dame to visit middle child (and middle son!) Teddy/Theo for Junior Parents Weekend, and planning a trip with John and the “little kids” (not so little anymore but that’s what we call them here) to Chattanooga for the upcoming Spring Break.

Cooking:  Whatever will keep people’s stomachs full at the moment as we are at the tail end of the groceries.  Last night it was bacon and burgers.  Tonight maybe brats?  Chili and stew are both in the future. 🙂

Reading:  Lots and lots of internet articles on the election because we are a little obsessed with that sort of thing around here.  Just finished Six of Crows and working on my friend Crystal‘s Con Job.

Wanting: At the moment, my second cup of coffee!

Loving: The signs of the impending arrival of spring: the scattering of crocuses and the lone daffodil in my front yard, the redbuds I saw blooming yesterday afternoon, the singing of the frogs in the creek behind our neighborhood.

Thinking:  About last night’s 10th GOP debate, Super Tuesday, William’s high school registration, the taxes, and all the office billing I need to catch up on today.

Working on:  Trying to catch up on my sorely neglected blogging/social media tasks!  It’s been three Fridays (at least!) since I’ve managed to properly take care of my weekly Twitter responsibilities.  I owe three reviews for free products I was given in exchange for my honest opinion.  And I would really like to write about lots of other things but feel like I need to get all of that out of the way first.

That’s it for this week!  You can visit other links (or link up yourself if you like) right here!

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Giving Thanks in All Circumstances- #1000Speak

In the fifth grade, we were assigned to present short plays adapted from books we had read.  My best friend asked me to appear in her scene from Corrie ten Boom’s The Hiding Place.

Corrie and her family were members of the resistance in Holland during World War I, and she spent time in a concentration camp for these activities (which included hiding Jews in a secret room in the family home).

Corrie and her sister Betsey had managed to sneak a Bible into the camp with them, and in our scene they were praying over a verse in First Thessalonians: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus.

It sounded crazy to Corrie to thank God for their current circumstances, and it probably sounds even crazier to us, but Betsey was able to point out two obvious blessings: that they were assigned to the same camp and that the Bible had not been taken from them.  But when she started to give thanks for the fleas in the barracks, Corrie thought she had taken leave of her senses–until later, when the women in their barracks were left untouched by the soldiers who would have raped them but for distaste for the fleas.

Most of us won’t have to deal with circumstances that are so dire, but being thankful in all circumstances is still a great attitude to have, and one I’ve been trying hard to cultivate.  Every night I start my prayers by thanking God for everything good about my day.  And I don’t mean big things–I mean things like a sunny day, or having time to work in my garden, or a nice dinner, or an easy time getting William’s homework done.  I’m not allowed to ASK for anything until I say thank you, and plenty of times I fall asleep before I make it to the end of the gratitude list!

They say that practice makes perfect, and practicing gratitude is no different.  When I started doing this I had a harder time coming up with things to be thankful for.  Now my list is long and I find myself looking forward to  this ritual.

I’ve even come to be grateful for trials, because they’ve led me to be compassionate towards others who suffer.  Financial problems, broken cars, difficulties in parenting, even the loss of our home and possessions to fire–all of these have presented me with opportunities to empathize with others who have suffered and have saved me from the temptation to judge them.

This post is part of #1000Speak, a monthly linkup with the goal of writing about and spreading compassion.  The topic for this month is Gratitude.  To see other posts, please click the picture below.

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I took this photo looking down the hill from my front porch.  We live about halfway up the hill.  The original plan for our neighborhood was that the houses would get bigger and bigger going progressing up the hill so there would be ginormous houses at the top where the view is amazing.  However, the neighborhood was going to be built in two phases and the recession happened after the first phase.  The original builder backed out of the project after our house was built.  So our house is the biggest house, and eventually a new builder came in and built much smaller houses all the way up the hill.  I hear that a lot of people in the big house part of the neighborhood were angry about this, feeling that it would damage their property values.  I personally think it’s hilarious.

OneDad3Girls

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