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This year we are bringing the story to life 🙂

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Ah-hoy!

Aug 14

Today we were pirates, Arrr!
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Super

Aug 3

It seems I’m raising a house full of superheroes…

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June 18

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Father’s day weekend was a time of great spiritual growth and I had my first few whole days of letting go of my will and also walking in the spirit. (It’s so much easier to be docile to the spirit when I’m by the sea down in Blandford!) A weekend away in the country was just what I needed. It was really me who wanted us to spend the weekend there, I knew I just needed to get away. DH’s best friend was going to be there and I had looked forward to a fun weekend with lots of family and friends and laughter. Instead, it was rather difficult with lots of unmet expectations and vying for DH’s attention and I had to struggle and fight to maintain a positive attitude.

But I’ve never felt so constantly close to God!

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The way it played out it was a rather rough weekend, but it was HUGE for my soul, a chance to read, unpack, learn, apply, grow, pray and live without the distraction of the computer. So reminding what had been trying to focus on: -fight my own will and then -as often as fault, examine myself to find the reason, the weak point. With the extra adults around I had some time to myself to read and to pray, and because I had nothing better to do, I was able to really apply what I have been learning to my current situation. I spent close to 2 days walking constantly, living, in the spirit. God was so close, all I had to do was close my eyes and I felt Him near. I don’t want to lose that; I have to keep my heart open and be careful not to get too distracted by the computer.

The chapter on suffering and grace in 1000 gifts was a big part of this. Every time I read from that book, I spend several days living life more fully, beautifully, beauty in everything and God so close. I can already tell, this will never be a book I read once and then move on; I will find myself reading and rereading from it for years to come, every time I need a fresh shot of joy.

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On Saturday morning, spent about 2 hours sitting outside in the sun overlooking the water. It is so peaceful there, and it always stills my soul.

*Soft breezes, spirit moving
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*The quiver of grass blowing in the wind
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*A single tear drop glistening beneath tiny eyelashes
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*The weight of this tiny person sleeping in my lap
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With my big kids gone boating I got to read through another chapter. These are the excerpts, (all emphasis mine) that struck me most (and a little bit of context) mostly as taken from her own blog post, So All is Grace :

“Lord..”All the feelings since the blade and the breaking, all my questioning and asking, they swell, hot lava to the surface and I choke it back, the thick farming hand squeezing mine.

‘That I’d day after day after day, greedily take what looks like it’s good from Your hand – a child gloating over sweet candy’ I’ve been a thief, trying to hoard away all the good.” “but that I’d thrash wild to escape when what You give from Your hand feels bad – like gravel in the mouth. Oh Father, forgive…

What if that which feels like trouble, gravel in the mouth, is only that-feeling- What if faith says all is… I think it, but do I really mean it?

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(Scripture on CD)
It’s coming out of the same stereo speakers, like the voices of predisents, dignataries. These are the words of God.

Out of the speakers I hear Him clear: But Jesus told him: “No! The scriptures say, ‘People do not live on bread alone… but by every word that comes from the mouth of God’. (Matthew 4:4)

I listen and I live fully on what comes straight from His mouth,. That Serpent, he’s slithered with the lie that God doesn’t give good but gives rocks in the mouth, leaves us to starve empty in the wilderness, and we’ll just have to take lessons form Satan on how to take the stones of the careless God and make them into bread to feed our own hungry souls. And I hear it straight out of the speakers on a July morning breaking, the Son of God saying there is only one way to live full and it’s’ ‘by every word that comes from the mouth of God’

It is all that Jesus used to survive in the desert, in His wrangle with silver-tongued Lucifer, only this: “It is written.” And it is the Word of God that turns the rocks in the mouth to loaves on the tongue. That fills our emptiness with the true and real good, that makes the eyes see, the body full of light.”

‘…but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ We have to trust, and we have to CHOOSE to do this. To see everything through the eyes of heaven… It is the word of God that turns rocks in the mouth to loaves on the tongue, and this, this is the only way to live fully!

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“The countryside splits open, the earth unpeeled into sun. The wheat wears gold.”

I awaken to the strange truth that all new life comes out of dark places, and hasn’t it always been? Out of darkness, God spoke forth the teeming life. That wheat round asnd ripe across all these feels, they swelled like hope embryos in womb of the black earth. Out of the dark, tender life unfurled. Out of my own inner pitch, six human beings emerged, new life, wet and fresh.

All new life labors out of the very bowels of darkness.

That fullest life itself dawns from nothing but Calvary darkness and tomb-cave black into the radiance of Easter morning. Out of the darkness of the cross the world transfigures to new life. And there is no other way.
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Then…yes: It is dark suffering’s umbilical cord that alone can untether new life.

It is SUFFERING that has the realest possibility to bear down and deliver GRACE.

And grace that chooses to bear the cross of suffering OVERCOMES that suffering.

This is so true! We focus on it and gripe and complain about it and it beats us down. As long as we try to fight it, it will rule over us.
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But it can do this only as long as we let it! If we intentionally choose to bear the suffering, it no longer has power over us!

“It is dark suffering’s umbilical cord that alone can untether new life.”
Then so it must be for my husband as well. Of course, my own life as a child of God came from a place of darkness, so he too must come to a place of NEED, and so must I for full conversion. I must come back to that place. I know I need God for heaven, He saves me from death, and although day to day I do need Him, I don’t know it well enough yet.

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My pain, my dark-all the world’s pain, all the world’s dark – it might actually taste sweet to the tongue, be the genesis of new life? —

Yes. And emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fulfuillment of joy.

So God transfigures all the world?

Darkness transfigures into light, bad transfigures into good, grief transfigures into grace, empty transfigures into full. God wastes nothing -“makes everything work out according to his plan.”

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“I am amputated. I have hacked my life up into grace moments and curse moments. The chopping has cut me off from the embracing love of a God who “does not enjoy hurting people or causing them sorrow” but labors to birth grief into greater grace.”

This line really struck me. I have amputated my joy by labeling curses and rejecting His gifts of suffering!

“Isn’t this the crux of the gospel? The good news that all those living in the land of shadow and death have been birthed into new life, that the transfiguration of a suffering world has already begun! That suffering nourishes grace, and pain and joy are arteries of the same heart, and mourning and dancing are but movements in His unfinished symphony of beauty (and grace).

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What a magnificent way to view the world, to view life:

What in the world, in all this world, is grace?

I can say it certain now: All is grace.

I see through the woods of the world: God is always good and I am always loved.

Because eucharisteo is how Jesus, at the Last Supper, showed us to transfigure all things: take the pain that is given, give thanks for it, and transform it into a joy that fulfills all emptiness.
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I have glimpsed it: This, the hard eucharsteo. The hard discipline to lean into the ugly and whisper thanks to transfigure it into beauty. The hard discipline to give thanks for all things at all times because He is all good. The hard discipline to number griefs as grace because as the surgeon would cut open my son’s finger to heal him, so God chooses to cut into my ungrateful heart to make me whole.

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This, this is the practical, of how to live this full life. This is what I have to DO, to achieve it. It’s not easy, that’s for sure, but this grace life is WORTH it.

-Help me to love my husband as Christ loved the church, and more and more, to lay down my life, for him. (suffering -> grace-> beauty-> love-> new life)
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This was Part 1, this real awakening to the possibility of a whole new way of living.

Part 2.

This was also the weekend that I had my first experience intentionally boldly sharing my faith with someone I knew. (I have been sharing with my best friend but it has always been gradual, and led by her genuine interest and questions).

Walking close to God, the spirit showed me a new lost sheep to tend. I found myself alone with this person, and the spirit impressed on me that this was a prime opportunity; this probably being the most relaxed and friendly atmosphere possible to have such a conversation!

I deliberated over it for probably 15-20 minutes. At this point I was sure the Lord wanted me to, and the spirit had given me words to open with, but I was nervous. It was scary. This was one of the last people I’d choose to engage in such a discussion. And yet the spirit urged me on. The words were on my tongue but still I couldn’t open my mouth, knowing that as long as I didn’t, I could still take it back, but once I opened my mouth and put it out there, there was no going back and one way or another, things would be different. I was nervous about their reaction, nervous about what I would say, espeically beyond the first question as I would have to think on my feet.

As I stalled I felt God asking me, ‘do you love them?’ Sharing the Gospel with someone is the ultimate act of love, whether they realize it or not. I knew that the answer was yes.

By the grace of God, somehow I got that first question out, and we talked fairly openly for 10 or 20 minutes, mostly I asked and answered questions. For the first time I was speaking about faith, but without an agenda. The spirit gave me the grace to lay out the truth, without forcing a particular opinion. Nothing major has come of it, but it was huge for me.

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Through the Courageous Catholic program, and especially this experience, I am learning, that speaking about my faith is not just for my husband or my best friend, but with all those I long for God to reach, it’s not enough to just pray for them (that someone else will lead them etc) at some point, I have to actually share my faith with them. I pray for them espeically because they are in my circle of influence, so then I must also be the one to reach out to them!

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Rawr!

We are the Lords of the Jungle!
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jul 27

1. Routine: I can’t seem to find something that works for us… There are days when I get up early and can plan a good breakfast etc, I can devote all kinds of time to the kids, but then later when I try to do anything else I can’t; I’m peppered with questions and requests, I give them a toy they want and they want another 5 minutes late etc.. . I know praying and especially the rosary are important, and the earlier in the day the better, but I’m having a hard time finding a time when they will leave me alone enough. And I can’t involve them yet because they don’t have the attention span. I don’t know what works well…. not really – save having things planned ahead, but when I try to plan, bam kids want me then too.

A good plan would be chores and school activities in the morning, and walk and rest in afternoon. Then have supper ready, and daddy take the kids would guarantee some of that quiet down time i crave….
This will only work once the temperatures go back down a bit, right now I find it’s too hot to be out in the sun past about 10 or 11 o’clock.

A key to success, might be to involve the kids in everything I’m doing etc.. chores, my blog, my photos? – Well, I tried it. I liked the idea of living holistically, invovling my kids in what is important to me, and then vice versa. But even my 4 year old got bored of looking through pictures pretty quickly 😦

2. No. The key to success, I think – is to purposefully stay off the computer as much as possible, ideally all daytime hours, but at least all morning and have 40 min or so very productive, after DH is home and I’ve done a bit of cleaning. THEN I can engage the kids more and fill their needs? THEN I can have supper already cooking when DH gets home.

Something else that might help, if I need them to leave me alone to read or write, would be to give them puzzles. Puzzles really seem to hold their attention and keep them occupied.

3. On Saturday night God turned my world upside down when He showed me His plans for the future.

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DH and I went to a homeschool seminar at our local church. As with the Theology of the Body session in the fall, this was something I wanted him to hear from somebody else and not just from me. The idea had cropped up and intrigued me in the past, but I figured given my organization and procrastination difficulties that I was not cut out for it, and I would be happy to submit to my husband and send our kids to public school, if that was what God wanted. But that night God turned my world upside down when he showed He had other ideas.

The couple that was giving the talk began explaining what they do etc and within minutes I was already considering trying out a kindergarten program with the kids this year as a first step. It was just like with Montreal, by the end of their talk God had completely changed my heart. So much of what they said resonated with me. They explained the how homeschooling helped them to be more organized, and they specifically mentioned that it’s important to declutter your home. Their reasons for homeschooling were the same as mine but there were even other benefits I hadn’t considered as well. The also explained how homeschooling was just an extension of what they already did each day, and suddenly I could see how easily it could fit into our life too.

God has been calling me to be obedient. He’s been calling me to true biblical submission as a wife. That means: deferring the authority etc for final decision making to my husband, even though he doesn’t share my faith, EXCEPT in cases where it would go against God’s law etc. THIS is not a morality issue and IN LIGHT OF SUBMISSION I was perfectly happy to let the kids go to public school, if that was what God wanted from me – BUT God has made it completely clear that this is not an area of compromise.

Overall DH was less than thrilled, but that said, the decluttering thing was not lost on him. I was not at all surprised when he brought up that point that evening. I already knew this was going to be the deciding factor: if He had to submit to this homeschooling stuff then I definitely had to take seriously his wish for a less cluttered home. And I am, we’re already talking about ways we can start to tackle this problem. The promise of a tidier home is the way to make this idea appeal to him. And quite frankly, I’m sick of living in such clutter, I find it makes it so hard to get anything done.

4. Faith Notes

-3 things to remember: slow down, take time to give thanks and keep your heart open to God and others.

-Let suffering make your valleys into sheltered places to light a match and see the face of God…. –Ann Voskamp – A Holy Experience

-Thank you for giving me a cold while on vacation, when I have extra hands – it’s better than if I was stuck at home with the kids!

-Actually, this cold, this suffering, could be birthing the new graces needed to make this big change : live simple, walk in spirit, declutter, change my focus and then educate my children!

5. On Saturday afternoon my best friend brought the baby out to my mom’s house so she could meet her. It was an interesting girl’s afternoon, as my 7 month old was the only male present, and we discussed labor stories, mostly hers. We also took a couple pictures no the deck to finish the photo story and I had DH bring the kids at the end, so they could meet the new baby too.

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6. It seems God is quite involved in the July photo project. I’ve found over and over that if I wait and follow God’s lead on the project, each day He helps me to get the perfect photograph. When I am patient and just wait on His timing He gives me the perfect inspiration, the 20 or 30 minute time-slot I need, He lines up all the perfect circumstances and even sometimes provides the perfect subjects as well.
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Also as I’ve been doing this project, I’m finding I have to take less and less pictures to get my shot each day. The photo for EYES was a major exception, but only because I had never taken a direct self-portrait with my new cameras, ever. I don’t know why, it is so much simpler than trying to take a decent photo in the mirror… Point and shoots were always too close but SLRs give anyone the necessary distance to get in both head and shoulders easily, just by holding the camera out in front of them.
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7. On Monday night we made it down to see the tall ships. It was just a nice night out with the family, but we ended up sitting for about an hour waiting for the fireworks, so I had the opportunity to play with some nighttime shots. We all enjoyed looking at the boats, the fireworks were pretty spectacular and I have the cutest photo of my little guy, dressed of course in a nautical outfit for the occasion 🙂

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