Monday, December 30, 2013

The Best of 2013 - year in photos

Dweej added a link up for 13 (only 13?) best pics of 2013... Well, I already posted these and just couldn't limit my favorites to 13... So here's my look back this year:
(Click above pic to visit Dweej and other favorites)

2013 went quickly and had its high and lows
So many good things to remember be thankful and celebrate about this year
and look back at how we spent our time...

With new friends

With old friends

and on scouting trips
and on earning scouting awards
(Ad Alteri Dei)

with our parish
(faithful servant of the altar)
(our parish now official)

on the parish property

with family

celebrating milestones

meeting up at places around Texas

and with my precious kids
and around Texas and around home

on school field trips

and with my sweet heart

Looking forward to 2014 

Sunday, December 29, 2013

2014 Blog Saint of the Year

I used Jen's Saint generator, said a prayer before I looked, and was assigned Saint Maria Goretti.

With my life so full of interaction with teen girls, I am delighted with this choice. I learned St. Maria's painfully valiant and brave story after I was a mother, and knew I wanted her as a patron protecting my girls and teaching youth about purity.

I'm helping our parish with Confirmation in a few weeks, and it makes me happy to see St. Maria Goretti has been chosen by a few of girls for their saint. 

Give Jen's saint calculator a whirl, and meet your special blog patron...

Oh Saint Maria Goretti who, strengthened by God's grace, did not hesitate even at the age of twelve to shed your blood and sacrifice life itself to defend your virginal purity, look graciously on the unhappy human race which has strayed far from the path of eternal salvation. Teach us all, and especially youth,with what courage and promptitude we should flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us from our Lord victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, and the grace which we earnestly beg of thee (here insert intention), and may we one day enjoy with thee the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

God rest you merry gentlemen...

In the beginning...Deo gratias

P: The Lord be with you. 
R: And with thy spirit.
P: The beginning of the holy Gospel, according to St. John. 
R: Glory be to Thee, O Lord.

P: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was made nothing that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men: and the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness to give testimony of the light, that all men might believe through him. He was not the light, but was to give testimony of the light. That was the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them He gave great power to become the sons of God: to them that believe in His name: who are born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
R: Thanks be to God.

P: Dominus vobiscum.
R: Et cum spiritu tuo.
P: Initium sancti Evangelii secundum Joannem. 
R: Gloria tibi Domine.

P: In prinicipio erat Verbum, et Verbum erat apud Deum, et Deus erat Verbum. Hoc erat in principio apud Deum. Omnia per ipsum facta sunt, et sine ipso factum est nihil quod factum est. In ipso vita erat, et vita erat lux hominum: et lux in tenebris lucet, et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt. Fuit homo missus a Deo, cui nomen erat Joannes. Hic venit in testimonium, ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine, ut omnes crederent per illum. Non erat ille lux, sed ut testimonium perhiberet de lumine. Erat lux vera quae illuminat omnem hominem venientem in hunc mundum. In mundo erat, et mundus per ipsum factus est, et mundus eum non cognovit. In propria venit, et sui eum non receperunt. Quotquot autem receperunt eum, dedit eis potestatem filios Dei fieri, his qui credunt in nomine ejus. Qui non ex sanguinibus, neque ex voluntate carnis, neque ex voluntate viri, sed ex Deo nati sunt. (Here all genuflect) ET VERBUM CARO FACTUM EST, et habitavit in nobis et vidimus gloriam ejus, gloriam quasi unigeniti a Patre, plenum gratiae et veritatis.
R. Deo gratias.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Daybook ramblings on lots of random things

I am thinking...about current events and about the old adage
Hate the sin, 
Love the sinner
It's from St. Augustine.

And wondering when did Americans redefine tolerance to mean we have to embrace what we don't believe and redefine what we hold to be true? Truth is truth. 

ˈtäl(ə)rəns/ noun
  1. 1.
    the ability or willingness to tolerate something, in particular the existence of opinions or behavior that one does not necessarily agree with.

  2. "Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone's lifestyle, you must fear or hate them.
  3. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense. You don't have to compromise convictions to be compassionate." 
  4. Phil Robertson

I am praying for..this crazy country full of citizens with dangerously short term memories and for all the poor and suffering in this world this week of our Savior's birth. Conversions too.
And for thanksgiving for friendships and perspective on life. For mothers and fathers who have lost children and their comfort this Christmas. And all those fighting cancer, the flu and other illnesses. And the safety of travelers.

Unfortunately, persecution is a reality in our world.
Have you read Mark Steyn's article

Looking at online comments surrounding this week's outrage, many Americans didn't know the spelling or proper definition of this word either:
ˌpərsəˈkyo͞oSHən/ noun
  1. 1.
    hostility and ill-treatment, esp. because of race or political or religious beliefs.
    "her family fled religious persecution"

A favorite quote/verse/prayer for today...
Matthew 5:43-48
 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

I am thankful...for my dear Catholic faith and our sweet Lord who came to save us all.

I'm also thankful for homeschooling. whether you homeschool or not, we all should support the right to: have you read this?  Or this -especially if you live in Ohio!

Peace on Earth, and Goodwill to All Men...

Ok, back to happier thoughts
In the kitchen...cookies, cookies, cookies.
Molly made Laura Bush cookies, I made peanut blossums and I made gingerbread men cookies and Euly added some personality with icing.

I am creating...cookie baskets for neighbors and friends. I have to hide them so no one around here sneaks...You wouldn't believe how fast these would go.

I am going...We my husbands local district work party. Families were invited, it was a really big party. We pretended it was date night (the girls went too)...

And...they had a Santa Claus for pictures for the kids. Weird fact about us: we never have done Santa Claus pictures. Well, not never, just once when Max was three and there was a Santa at the library in Alabama and he casually met him and they took their picture together. Not planned. Not dressed fancy. Never the mall Santa. But the girls: never.  I have a thing about not forcing my usually very shy kids into meeting a random stranger playing dress up, sitting in his lap and telling him their hopes of obtaining toys. 
Bah humbug? Not really. Well, not intentionally. I love Christmas and all that traditionally goes with it. I have my own mixed childhood memories about Santa. As a parent,  I do have a thing about not making Christmas about Santa.
We celebrate St Nick on Dec 6. Santa does visit and leave the smaller of the gifts on Christmas, but the big items get credited to mom and dad. And why not? Ok, I'm being a little defensive. I never "believed" by the time I knew what Santa was, ahem, cough Viv one of my big sisters told me he wasn't, and I was always ok with that. So I didn't have that particular sense of wonder, or heartbreak of being lied to...or whatever that is.
Craig's family had a different opinion and encouraged the whole Santa thing; sometimes having Santa knock on the door for a visit... Just strange to me. If you go any store anywhere in the south from Thanksgiving on, the clerk will ask your  child what Santa is bringing them, and wait for their answer.  My kids all probably had a degree of belief and hope, just not a desire to talk to the man dressed up representing Santa at the mall.

Until the company party....
Now Lilly loves to talk to anybody and everybody that will talk to her. So here is a friendly gentleman that welcomed her with a big hug and she could not resist. She talked and talked and told him about her family. They didn't discuss toys or what she wanted for Christmas, because strangely no one has asked her that question before. I don't think she could have an answer. Sixth child - what doesn't she have? They talked about the party and how many people there were. He knew the names of her siblings by the end of their visit. He was a very sweet man.
And his beard was real, which made me suggest the other girls (boys didn't come with)  maybe it would be fun to have their picture taken for a keepsake... At least once in their childhood they could, maybe. 
Don't they look excited about it? What does their body language say?

As much as Ceci objected to having the picture taken, she has treasured it, and held on to it, looking at it the rest of the night. Maybe at 8 she still has a little hope for some Santa magic.

I am wondering...why I am obsessed with staring at and taking pictures of my sleeping kids. So peaceful quiet and beautiful. 
Well, I guess that's it. Just scrumptious!

I am reading aloud...A Candle for Our Lady about two siblings pilgrimage to Walsingham, England in the 16th century. Another OOP Catholic Banner book. When it comes to good books, I live in the past and only seem to have old OOP books to recommend. Should I put a OOP warning on my WWRW reviews?

Now that everyone is home and off work for the rest of the year...we're exploring choices on netflix streaming.
We watched...Bandits
I have been a Bruce Willis fan from Moonlighting, and there have been some bumps along the way, but still he's one of my favorites to watch.  Craig randomly picked Bandits, a movie we hadn't heard of before, but had a lot of fun watching it. Silly, goofy adventure romance. Good guy bank robbers you cheer for! Except Bruce with long hair, I could have done without. I am not a big fan of Billy Bob Thornton, he did carry the annoying side kick off well. And Cate Blanchett was adorable the whole movie. It might have been a little long but the twist at the end was well played. Watch through the credits.

We also watched The Way. Can anyone watch this movie without wanting to start their own pilgrimage plan to walk the Camino de Santiago?! Craig and both are dreaming of  walking it and making this pilgrimage.... Ya know, someday....
 Craig's saint is Saint James, so I think it is a must! There is so much information on the internet - starting here. We think we'll start our years long preparation and plan some hiking this summer as our family trip. We'll wait until Lilly is old enough to walk it too - so, maybe when she is 15, so twelve years to prep?  

Craig turned on Apocalypse Now after the rain cancelled early Saturday plans. Craig's pick. I'm not a big fan of war movies.  I hadn't watched since I had to in a college history assignment, and in 1983, the Vietnam War wasn't as far back as it is today. It was too real a movie for me and considered dropping the class to not have to sit through it. 
After seeing it again, it is still a very powerful movie. War is hell and I am sure no movie could ever do justice what needs to be understood. Thank God for all are brave servicemen and their sacrifices.

General Corman:    “In this war, things get confused out there—power, ideals, the old morality, and practical military necessity . . . because there’s a conflict in every human heart between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph.”

I also noticed how young Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall  and Harrison Ford were - just young babies. But Marlin Brando- he's always been in a timeless league of his own.

We also watched Machine Gun Preacher, only because I am a fan of Gerard Butler (Phantom of the Opera). This movie story line confused me, until the end finding it was based on a true story. It is hard to watch and it left me with many ponderings of Uganda, thankfulness for first world problems, and wondering how can a country/ a continent ever be lifted from such persecution and constant strife!? Can an outsider solve it?  I don't think so. But I can see reason for Sam Childers' need to try, but not sure it was worth his family's sacrifice. So hard.

Around the house...fourth Sunday of Advent- we are decorated, only thing missing is ... baby Jesus! All the manger scenes are waiting expectantly! For some reason, either Cc or Lilly like to gather all the empty mangers together...waiting...

I am induced insomnia- is this like a real thing? I find myself awake in the middle of the night for no reason. I need sleep and had no caffeine and it's not the "getting to be an old lady" hormone insomnia: that's a real thing I know. 
This weather thing, I'll be lying there wondering why can't I sleep, no worries nothing keeping me up, I'll pray; nope, no sleep. Then I'll hear the rain come, sometimes it's a big storm, sometimes a drizzle. There's gotta be a real connection. Ever experience it ? Change-in-barometric-pressure insomnia...?

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Celebrate the birth of our Lord with midnight mass and joy filled visits with family and friends during the week. The kids picked the menu for Christmas dinner and it looks like steak and potatoes are most requested.

Something sweet to share from kinda makes me long for a white Christmas. But I'd hate the cold. :)

A peek into my day..from our family photo session by Max.

Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Theme Thursday - Dreaming x2

Theme Thursday - over at Clan Donaldson

Yesterday Craig had time for some dreaming. We spent all the afternoon hours in his truck driving around, looking at properties, dreaming about getting more land, asking ourselves how far out would be a reasonable commute, how far out could we keep a semblance of our lives now? How much land would be good, what would we want to do?

Dreams, dreamy dream dreams.

This is the entrance to the easement to a rather large tract a rather large distance from where we live now.
Shot from inside the truck.
I am a sucker for rolling hills.
I love shopping for land, dreaming about all the what-could-be's and spending time with my sweetheart, but I'll be honest, I get a little nervous on the actual "let's do it" part.

We entertained these dreams last April to the west, and that didn't come true so now our dreaming is taking us a little north...and a little further, and a little more further... it is fun to shop.

So, to the other kind of dreaming going on around here.
 Because of Ceci, my house is very cheery and bright for the season, and I'll think we're done til she reminds me of something I hadn't yet pulled out of the attic. 

She's dreaming of a happy Christmas.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Molly's entrance {a birth story}

Molly is turning 18 in a few short months, and big mile stones make me think of beginnings. Molly's birth story is still fresh and vivid in my mind. Are all births that way?

Way back when, we decided to do something crazy and follow an opportunity, we up and moved to Alabama. Just Craig, Max and me. We found our dream house out hidden on ten acres in the woods overlooking our own serene lake. It was peaceful, private, heavenly.

The house itself was 25 years old and needed a lot of refreshing. Pretty much nothing had been done since it was built. Dingy white walls screamed for color.  Once green, now brown, shag carpets had to go. Actually the carpets went before we spent the first night: Craig pulled them up, rolled them into logs, tossed over his shoulder and took to the street creating a huge cloud of dust as he dropped it on the ground.

My view out the sunroom
The old couple who carved this place out of the woods wanted to build it to sustain their lives and diet on this property. Picture early 1970's preppers. Wild turkey, deer, a well, an acre garden, fruit trees and for their spiritual life: a few peaceful prayer areas. The best part was flowers planted all over the property for their church. 

One of the prayer areas.
 on our last day before moving back to Texas
Our first spring we were to receive a daily gift of new flowers opening and enriching our lives. Iris was the popular choice, with so many varieties. I now wish I took more pictures. There were more flowers blooming in May than any other time.

What does this have to do with Molly? Everything. She is my artist who loves nature and beauty. She creates a variety of art out of many different mediums. She's always inspired and inspiring.

I could think two things:
My sudden artistic inspiration at that time in my life needed and outlet and my constant enjoyment of bettering and appreciating that home influenced who she was...
her little being was influencing me from her start. 
I like to think the latter.

Pretty much as soon as we moved in, I found out I was pregnant, proving for me the old wives tale: New house, new baby! 

The pregnancy went well. I was able to keep up with a busy three year old Max, settle in our home, change everything in the house: painted cabinets, walls, floors, made big plans for kitchen remodel, worked on clearing and burning trees and repaired other neglected features in and out of our home.

Early on I joined a La Leche group and was surrounded with instant friends. Lisa was the leader and the most welcoming and kind person I had ever met. She introduced me to her circle of friends who welcomed us with a tea party and friendship. Gigi was another special friend. Finding a good friend there living less than a mile from me was the best gift I had in our Alabama sojourn. Gigi had a son a little older than Max, and had a daughter just as I found out I was expecting. Her husband Stan was instant friends with Craig, being both outdoorsy and innovative about their properties.

Through these women I found a doctors group that was known for natural and unmedicated births. I found one in particular I clicked with. They also helped me find a pediatrician who respected my views and choices.

On my birthday (which was Molly's due date) this sweet group of women surprised me with a baby shower tea party with the trick that one was to come teach me how to make Spanish rice and have a quiet lunch. But then another knock on the door after another, we were having a party! What fun! I love these woman! Beautiful memory.

Gigi and Lisa and their girls
A week later I woke with the sun, and went for a walk out in the beautiful May morning. Everything was blooming, the yellow daffodils and purple and white irises were abundant. Abundant. There were enough flowers to fill many churches. I would gather as many as I could carry, arm loads! As I gathered bouquets for the house, my water broke, but just a little. Just enough to get my attention and know I didn't control that. 
Molly playing with the daffodils at ten months

Ya' know how hind sight is 20/20, well, I look back at this day with a lot of  "Mary, what were you thinking?" Labor had taken over my brain but I didn't know that at the time. I was not having contractions. Sometimes we can't accept what comes next during labor, I think we're designed that way.

This day was a Saturday, the day of Craig's company picnic. "Sure, honey, we should go." A day like any other.
We set off down the long bumpy country roads in Alabama with a bag for the hospital of just in case,  I was a week overdue.

The company picnic was at a beautiful Alabama lake offering every kind of water activity imaginable. Water, water, oh, must stop by the bathroom, my water broke more. Leaking .. not quite the word. Gotta leave this place now. We called the doctor, and he said stop by the hospital, since no office hours on Saturday, and he'll give me check. 

We left Max with Craig's friend Mark (Max's choice of who he was to spend this time with) and they spend the day swimming, eating ice cream and having a great time.

So of course, I didn't realize once at the hospital, you are admitted, and what are you thinking lady, your water broke, you have 24 hours to delivery this baby or you'll have a c-section. I still had not had one contraction, and I was worried that now a clock had started to countdown time. We gotta get serious.

So I checked in and changed, we started walking the halls. Occasionally I would have a small contraction, but not regular to even time them, so we walked, we chatted, we laughed. It must have been a full moon, because the labor and delivery rooms were all full. Once while walking the rounds,  I noticed the board: by every other name was a dosage of medications. By mine: just  "walking". The staff was all so busy, every once in a while someone stop me and ask if I was ok. Finally one contraction suddenly got hard, and it wasn't fun and games anymore. This was serious. I was excited that labor had begun, but wanted to be back in the room to labor in private.

So again, the contractions were long apart and sporadic. Craig to distract me, so he sang to me and we danced to Asleep at the Wheel songs. It was very nice to have him all to myself. But trying to two step in labor was tricky. Wow, another contraction!  I didn't have many contractions, but the ones I had were very effective (read very painful).

Once a nurse popped in and said Oh, you're close. I thought no way, I haven't had steady contractions.

A few more minutes she was in there being busy and seriously bothering me. Then she yelled down the hall for the doctor. I thought she was crazy and this was premature. Then OUCH another hard crazy contraction and she said , "You ready to push?" Again, crazy nurse lady, noooo--hell...yes I am!
Funny, thankfully, she saw it coming. I pushed few contractions but since they were so sporadic it took (a mere) twenty minutes. Then I head Craig yell at my shoulder "It;s a girl!" He was sooo happy, I just looked at his face in disbelief there was a baby to be talking about.

Then they placed her in my arms mmmm...heaven. She squiggled in my arms and nothing felt better. I delivered the placenta holding her, and then there were calls and yells from down the hall, nurses ran out and  suddenly my room was silent.  I wanted to sleep; this sweet baby I was holding had fallen asleep. A few quite pictures. Craig turned down the lights and said he was off to pick up Max. What a blur.

Suddenly I was alone in the darkened room, with a new baby sleeping on my chest. We were tucked in and I fell asleep.

Not sure how much later, Molly squiggled, and squeaked, and POOPED! Oh, what a way to wake up. I realized I needed help, I had the post birth shakes and a baby with meconium on her. How do I reach the button...?!

The heavenly peace of the room was broken. The room swarmed with nursing staff, took my sweet baby to clean her up; one led me to the shower to get cleaned up. Being clean was very good, don't get me wrong. We had a perfect time of undisturbed love and snuggle between mom and baby. I am so grateful for the busy night so we had time to ourselves. It made me think, why not home birth, next time?

I had asked the nurse tend to Molly's newborn needs in my room, which apparently was not requested often,  but so glad I had prearranged this to watch her first bath, nail trimmings, dressing and get her back in my arms as quick as possible.

At 4 am the doctor signed my release, but I wasn't planning on leaving until morning. My pediatrician was out of town, and the stand in one didn't agree to my views on issues I discussed with  my doc. So a stand off began. Maybe because we lived "in the woods" in Alabama, I was thoroughly questioned about our home:  did we have running water, indoor plumbing, ...what? They were busy and got tired of me and gave me her release.  Craig brought Max to meet his new baby sister,  more excited than I had seen him.

My recovery was as easy as the pregnancy and labor, and thankfully, no tears, just normal after birth killer pains than subsided after a few days.

Molly was a peculiar baby who loved routines, not a trait of others in this house. She liked a regular bedtime and nap time. She wanted to be in bed at 8 p.m., or she would scream about it until I got lucky or I actually realized that's what she wanted. Some nights before I realized her routine needs, I would sit outside with the cicadas screaming their night songs and she would quite down and look and listen in awe. I'd holler and they'd quiet down and one would start it all up again. I loved that place in the woods!

I have so many good memories of our time in Alabama. We moved back to Texas just before Molly's second birthday. I look at this time as Molly's, her entrance, a special time of all her firsts. Craig's company had a major house cleaning and forced him to look for work back "home." The old house I loved took about a year for the new owners to find it. The property had a character that just couldn't be appreciated by just anyone. I was so happy (and thankful, of course) for the buyers, I couldn't think of another couple that would enjoy it as much as we did. When we go back and visit Gigi, we always have to make time to drive by and take a peek down memory lane.

Adding to Grace's birth story link up 

What We're Reading for Advent and Christmas

The Story of Christmas
Sweet devoted Saint Joseph, pray for us.

I bought this book in Christmas 1994 and has been an annual favorite, not read only at Christmas. The gold trimmed illustrations are colorful and engaging: very well done. When we read, we  just read it slowing and stare at the pictures while we ponder and discuss the familiar story of Christ's birth. Beautiful artwork by Jane Ray and words from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.

Brother Francis and the Friendly Beasts 
We have read and enjoyed  other books by Margaret Hodges (especially St George and the Dragon and Legend of St Christopher).
This story is particularly enjoyable as it's about one of my favorite saints and one of my favorite places. The story richly tells of events of St Francis's life and how he started the tradition of the Christmas crèche because of his love of animals and love for Christ. 

The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski. 
This is a sweet story of the faith of a child melting the heart of Jonathan Toomey, a craftsman who had experienced much loss and sorrow in his life's and had tired to harden his heart.  Thomas needed Mr. Toomey to carve pieces for his Christmas crèche and helped him see the animals as they would have looked upon Jesus with joy. This time together starts to melt Mr. Toomey's heart.

Paco's Miracle by Ann Nolan Clark.

A familiar author of ours. This chapter book is a little different angle of Christmas time story. Paco lived with his aging grandfather isolated in the mountains, growing up surrounded by nature. One winter his aging caretaker fell ill, Paco spent the time before Christmas with people in the village where he learned and experienced much, developed  friendships and enjoyed the Christmas celebration of  La Posada. Paco shared his own gifts with the village. 

Now for something truly fun
The Thirteen Days of Christmas by Jenny Overton

Francis had wanted to marry Annaple but he wasn't "romantic" enough for her. So with a few ideas and encouragement from her family, he crafted charming gifts to change her mind about him leading up to the Epiphany. The whole village enjoyed the gifts leading up to the twelfth night after Christmas.
I promise if you read as a read aloud they will ask for more. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Monday Day Book

Happy Monday

Outside my window...a day I can enjoy gong outside; finally!! sunshine!! and temps getting out of the 30's.
Morning sunshine streaming across my front yard

I am thinking...Nick and Molly's Friday orchestra group has improved. Robin, aka the conductor and their teacher, is so very talented. She adapted the music and wrote pieces for each participating instrument at their particular level. And look at her passion!

Here they are, performing Robin's arrangement of Pirates:

I am praying many friends suffering with cancer and fighting that awful stuff and one hoping for a misdiagnosis (because he's a dad of four young children) and he just finished chemo two months back and doesn't want to start again, and he has great hope and trust in God. Isn't it so humbling to see such pure faith in action?

I am know real life heroes.

In the Oh yes, I have ignored you too long.. This morning I cooked up some apple wood cured bacon with fresh apples for breakfast. Now, you smell like home.

Around the's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Still working on Jesse tree. But now that Gaudete Sunday has passed, I'm giving myself permission to finish getting Christmas stuff out.

A favorite quote/verse/prayer for today...from the Introit of Gaudete Sunday:
Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in every thing by prayer let your petitions be made known to God. -- (Ps. 84. 2). 
Lord, Thou hast blessed Thy land: Thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. V.: Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen. Rejoice in the Lord always: again I say, rejoice. Let your modesty be known to all men: for the Lord is nigh. Be nothing solicitous: but in every thing by prayer let your petitions be made known to God.

A few plans for the rest of the week:
Gotta go see the endodontist for one last check, and then on my way, maybe some light Christmas shopping, mail some gifts, family photo, grocery (because I keep on the run, I keep forgetting we need food).

Something that made me laugh, chuckle..Craig downloaded an app to help us with exercises, called bootcamp. We were doing a set of these really hard and crazy stomach exercises. Some of the kids came in to make fun of us and Lilly wanted to use me as a trampoline but I mostly kept going. When we decided we had been tortured enough, he challenged those same kids to try, and it was our turn to laugh and give them grief. Those core strengthening exercises are plain mean. I fear we'll all be very sore tomorrow.

A peek into my favorite picture of this past week, the moment captured Lilly's heart soften toward her cousin Rachel, whom she gave such a hard time these past few months.

I've been spending too much time on my phone - but thought I'd share items that caught my attention

Grab a tissue for this message of pain and hope:

Ad all over facebook, thought was cute...especially the dad's reaction:

Sweet tribute surprise to a special hero of WWII:

One of my favorite places to visit it Ave Maria Grotto in Cullman, Alabama, and I recently saw a new documentary done about Brother Joseph.
If you are ever driving through Alabama - you must plan to stop and visit!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Journey to Bethlehem

 We made a journey to Bethlehem
 via Burnet, Texas.

As travelers to that ancient city, we arrived to a noise, smokey, crowded city with all kinds of people coming and going everywhere. 
We stopped and shopped in a jewelers shop, who wouldn't take our money, since we only had something she never heard of: dollars. She wanted shekels, gold, denarius or even sheep to trade.
We watched people selling their wares and craftsmen, wool weavers, potters, basket weavers, leather workers, and blacksmiths at their trades.
We stopped to watch the census takers and tax collectors deal with the newly arrived citizens  and even witnessed a few poor shepherds who didn't have the funds for their taxes be hauled off by the Roman centurions to jail and the stocks.
We visited them in their jail cells.

My favorite stop was the synagogue. A father was teaching his son from the torah, we listened as they discussed ancient stories.  He welcomed everyone in to worship. They occasionally stepped outside to blow the rams horns to invite more people in or to reenact the sounds from the story of the wall falling down from the Old Testament.

All evening we witnessed shepherds coming into Bethlehem shouting at the well that the Messiah had been born, but they were quickly silenced and ushered away by the soldiers to keep peace. Waves of excitement and whispers went through the crowd about a newborn babe in a manger. People every where told us to look for the star to guide us.
We found him!
Well, we found this very sweet couple snuggling and loving their newborn baby with a shepherd standing watch at the front of the cave.
What a beautiful radiant glow from inside reflecting the peace filled cave just outside the chaotic city.
It was very well done, and we all committed to visit again next year.

Some of the Bethlehem citizens we visited with would ask us about our journey, and our sweet children would tell them of how far we came from Houston or Austin, and they looked confused and would ask each other if that was near Judea.
(oh, yeah, we'd forget where we were for a moment).
It was all done very well, with much enthusiasm.  The citizen volunteers stayed in character the whole time.
When Lilly would introduce herself, as she always does, we met many named Rachel, Mary and Ruth, 
more than in an average sampling of that many people.

I was able to bring my mother and meet up with my three sisters, and about half of our kids. It was a foggy, cool night, with the delightful people of Burnet welcoming us and sharing their love for Christ. The way out of the ancient city had walls lined with biblical quotes which illustrated the Way to heaven, through the Son. They treated us to hot chocolate and cookies at the end of our stay in Bethlehem.

Now to have fun with one of the centurions...

Was he starting to get annoyed with rambunctious foreigners...?
So he decided to take my mom off to the stocks, unfortunately my camera malfunctioned, and I didn't capture the hilarious moment.
It was all in good fun, she is a good sport and, of course, he was just pretending.

Here, she and Lilly opted for a (horseless) chariot ride back to town.

Held annually, the first two weekends in December by the First Baptist Church of Burnet.