Tag Archives: lent

Embracing silence….

Every lent I feel like God works on a different part of my spiritual walk. This year was no different. Not that my Lents before were not good or not productive but I felt that God was honoring my desire to go a little “deeper” this year.

When I sat in prayer contemplating my Lenten plan, I heard God say very clearly that for Lent I was suppose to give up idle noise…and embrace little periods of silence.

What does that mean?

How is that going to change me as a person?

What will I say when people ask what I gave up for Lent? Will I be embarrassed by my little gesture?

Is that enough?

All those thoughts didn’t matter in the long run.

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Over the past year, the Lord has been creating a Spirit of Obedience in me. He has been showing me how obedience pleases Him, even if I don’t fully understand the why behind His Ways. He just gives His permission to ask the How……

So I prayed for the practical applications of this Lenten sacrifice, and like our Lord always does… he provided.

There would be times that I went to turn on the radio by myself, and I would hear Him say, “Talk to me.”

I would be in the middle of watching a netflix show, and He would call me into a moment of silence.

The children would often come over to me sitting on the couch and say “Are you ok, mom?”…..they were beginning to notice how often these little quiet moments would happen throughout my day.

Head tilted back, eyes closed…clearing my mind…..

Each moment of silence would fill me with peace….like breathing out a deep sense of relief.

Often times the Lord would place someone on my heart to text or call…..

Sometimes he would build upon a bible verse or spiritual truth I had been working on.

He showed me, very clearly, how much I need more silence.

How our constant “background noise”……. silences Him.

How I had been begging  him to “talk to me”…..and his response was to spend time in silence so I could hear His voice.

Our God is a God of peace……He speaks into the peace of our hearts.

Spend some time today contemplating how you can add silence into your week.

It seems like such a crazy notion…..but we need moments of silence.

Take a walk………in silence.

Sit outside….or on a park bench…..in silence.

Observe the beauty of nature around you……in silence.

“And when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

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In light of this new insight, I will be delving into this book by Cardinal Sarah. I’m super excited to continue this journey and see where the Lord is leading me. Join me!

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Embracing the empty tomb….

It’s Holy Saturday, and as I sit here in the quiet, I’m embracing the tomb. The huge stone rolled in front of a tomb that holds my Savior.

I’m drawn to the thoughts and feelings of those Apostles.

What just happened? This man that we loved, who broke bread with us…that smile…that tenderness. How could He be taken from us?”

The bloody mess that they had to witness……the brutal beating that Christ endured. Watching someone whom you love crucified in front of you….all hope seems lost.

Jesus on the cross

I want my kids to enter in to the meaning of Christ’s death and the loneliness of the tomb.

In order to celebrate the Glory of the Resurrection, we have to truly experience the gloom of the tomb.

On Good Friday, a few years ago, the hubs and I decided to “shut down” normal activities of our home following the 3 o’clock service at our church. For us, as adults, it meant cutting off the television, and spending more time in silence thinking about the Passion of Christ. However, what does that mean for the kids?!

It meant….locking up their toys….their activities.

Thus….we started sealing off their school room and basement.

The morning of Good Friday, the children help me to create a long banner that stretches over the frame of the entrance to their school room. This banner depicts various scenes of the Passion.

Here are some of the images of the children working this year:

Here are some of the beautiful images:

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When we return from the service, the children help me put up the banner.

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This sign is a reminder for them, that their “joys” lie behind here too. It’s a reminder that we can’t partake in what we normally do because we are sacrificing for the “sake of His Sorrowful Passion”. It’s beautiful to see the kiddos stop in front of here and stare.

Good Friday also starts our nightly Divine Mercy Novena which will run from  Good Friday until next Sunday, Mercy Sunday. You can read about this novena here. I would like to also recommend checking out the website Divine Mercy for Moms, as they have so many great resources.

Holy Saturday, often ushers in the beginning “feelings” of Spring. With gorgeous weather available, we decided to hit the local park for an egg hunt and some time playing.

It is a tradition that we also dye our Easter eggs on Holy Saturday. Last year, I figured out really quickly the beauty of dyeing eggs in our garage. No crazy mom screaming about dye on the floors or counters. I just set up the plastic tables…the children dye a few eggs and then head off riding their bikes when I clean up. Dyeing eggs is a great reminder to the children about the beauty of life and how eggs remind us of the tomb of Christ. Just as a baby chick leaves the egg, so did Christ leave his tomb and bring New Life to our souls.

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We also “catch up” on our reading of “The Story of the First Easter” from our Lenten Tea on Thursday, making sure that the children realize that we have left Christ “in the tomb”.

This year,  we spent time watching “The Bible” series on TV with the kids. I’m always impressed by their insightful questions and the way the story of Bible history enfolds so beautifully in their minds.

In the next few days, we will be celebrating the joy of the empty tomb….and our Resurrected Savior.  Look for my post in the next few days about our Easter Celebration...and see the “running through” of our Good Friday banner on Easter.

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Holy Thursday 2016: Lenten Tea

When I first started blogging, I was eager to share my ideas with other moms. I was eager to inspire other moms to get more involved and celebrate the liturgies of the Church in our homes. I love to celebrate holidays and liturgical events. With this in mind, I quickly found plenty of other blogger moms who had plenty of ideas to share with me as well. I have referenced Catholic All Year, Sole Searching Mama, and Sometimes Martha Always Mary, as three of these such bloggers.

Let me begin by saying that I love Holy Week. I try to set up my week by having Wednesday and Thursday be my cleaning and purging days. I wrap up all my schoolwork with the children on Wednesday. The children and I spend Holy Thursday cleaning our house and preparing for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday! I usually run the remainder of my errands, and compile my lists of things to do for each day. I like the concept of having one or two “big” events for each day as a way to extend Holy Week.

Holy Thursday= Lenten Tea and the Washing of the Feet

A few years ago I was introduced to the concept of a Lenten Tea by the blog, Shower of Roses. You can read about that here.

A Lenten Tea sounded like the perfect way to teach the little children the story of Holy Thursday by partaking in food that would remind us of the Last Supper. This has become a beloved tradition in our home and every year we change it up a little.

Here are our pictures from this year:

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  • A small “tip” for moms of toddlers or wild boys…haha. I purchased a nice china tea pot that had about four pretty tea cups that I used when I had friends over for tea. As you can tell in the picture above, I would also grab tea cups from Goodwill and Thrift shops when I found them for my little kids to use. There is nothing worst than trying to enjoy a tea while you are worried about them breaking your “good china”.
  • This tea was primarily set up by Sweet Pea and the Fashionista. I would highly recommend having your children as involved in the planning and implementation of parties/events as possible. I have definitely dropped the need to have things “picture perfect” so I can allow my children to help more.

 

I use this book that tells the story of the Last Supper through the Resurrection. We read only the pages through Holy Thursday during the tea. I also photocopied Chapters 14 and 15 of the Gospel of Mark so I could quote scripture about each food item.

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For instance, when we read about the people waving the Palm Branches and hailing Jesus the “King”, with the screams of “Hosanna”, we wave our Romaine Lettuce “palms”. I made sure that the leaves were wet, and it was fun to “bless each other” as we yelled “Hosanna”. In years past, we have also used Spinach leaves.

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Our Rotisserre chicken pieces reminded us of the cock that crowed when Peter denied Jesus. In the past, we have also made chicken salad, and chicken wings.

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Our cheese “circles” and crackers remind us of the thirty pieces of silver that Judas betrayed Jesus for. (obviously, the kids helped themselves before this photo) My sister in law, was using Peppermint patties for these thirty pieces of silver. You could also use gold coins…however, I was interested in having less treats and more food to fill their bellies.

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FYI…..I just used pre-cut cheese slices and found a handy “cap” for our iced tea container to make the circular shapes.

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Pictured below:

  • our Fig Newtons to remind us of the story of the fig tree in the Garden of Gethsemane
  • our flatbread for the unleavened bread that Jesus broke and shared. Pita bread would be great here too. 
  • our hershey kisses to remind us how Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss
  • the tic tacs to symbolize the bitter tears that Peter wept realizing that he denied the Lord, as Jesus had foretold
  • some Cool Whip to remind us of the “clouds of heaven” that Jesus told Caiaphas that he would be returning on.
  • “sleepytime” vanilla tea to remind us of how the apostles fell asleep while Jesus was praying in the garden.

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Not pictured was our olive oil “dip” for the Mount of Olives.

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This was a great afternoon tea for us this year. I would recommend having the kids wrap their chicken pieces in their romaine lettuce…add a little olive oil dip and you’ve got a great wrap.

Lacy, over at Catholic Icing, also has an awesome Passion Lunch depicted below. You can read more about that here.

easter story lunch for Good Friday

Our second event is typically attending the Holy Thursday service at our Church and then my husband washes the children’s feet. This year, the husband was released from the hospital, on Monday, having been treated for pneumonia for 5 days. He has been trying to take it easy so we omitted these events this past year. However, I still wanted to mention them as they are important to our typical celebration.

My husband thinks its so important for the children to understand how much he loves them and how important it is to lead a life in service of others.

Stay tuned for the post tomorrow about our Good Friday details!

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Good Friday…. Is the cross enough?

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Is the Cross enough? How do you feel about someone else paying the price for you?

How many times do we think about the Crucifixion?

How often do we look at the cross….really look?

For me, It’s a very hard thing to focus on. I try to avoid it as often as I can. I like to picture Jesus as the good looking “Surfer” Jesus…..or the Good Shepherd with the little lost sheep. However, focusing on only these aspects or depictions of Jesus is denying His true mission. He came to awaken the “dead”…..not just those who were physically dead but those who were also “dead” to the greatest commandment of Love. So many of the Pharisees were sticklers to the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.

With all the crime shows that I enjoy and can watch, I can not stomach many of the scenes of “The Passion of the Christ”.  My eyes are full of tears…. I feel sick to my stomach…and  I’m a blubbering mess. Why? Because I am brought to my knees. The cross is a reminder of a love that I can’t fathom. It’s a reminder to me of a love far greater than I can return. A real reminder of the brutality of sin and the actions of those who do nothing.

And on Good Friday, I must face that bloodied face…..I must watch My Lord take up His cross….my cross….knowing that my sins nailed him there.

Is the cross enough….to change my life?????

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This lent I have been taking part in an online Lenten reflection with Redeemed Online.  It was set up by one of my friends from Franciscan University as a means to draw us closer to Christ this Lent. It was a series of 2-3 minute daily videos from Catholic speakers around the world. It was just what this overwhelmed, tired momma needed. A video that came right to my email and could set up my day with Christ. The latest video was from a personal friend who runs the Dirty Vagabond Ministries. Please take a second to check out all the amazing work my friend, Bob is doing with his ministry after watching this video.

Ouch….that cuts deep. Bob is right. I’m one of those people in the crowd.

Too weak to live my life radically committed to Christ….

I wish I could be like St. John…..a pillar of strength for Our Lady. He never denied Christ. He was loving…he stood at the foot of the cross. He was not ashamed.

But scripture tells me that “God mercies are renewed every morning.” Today is a new day.

In fact, everyday is.

And I have time to recommit my life…and my heart.

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This picture captures the beauty of an hour of my morning.

A hot cup of vanilla tea…some beautiful Catholic music…..and some quiet time to focus on the cross.

It was the main meal for this hungry girl’s soul.

The children surprised us with “dessert”….. a beautiful rendition of the Stations of the Cross.

Jesus meets His Mother

Jesus meets His Mother

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Jesus meets the Women of Jerusalem.

Jesus meets the Women of Jerusalem.

Jesus is nailed to His cross.

Jesus is nailed to His cross.

He is alive!

He is alive!

Kids have such simple faith. They believe. They desire God. They trust that they are loved and desired by God. Watching their Stations play, helped remind me how simple Jesus’s message was: Love

Is the Cross enough?

Yes

…and it calls me to greatness.

It beckons my soul to seek to return such greatness…..

To love without hesitation or reservation.

What about you? Is it enough to change you?

God Bless,

Tammi

 

 

A quick “7 takes” on our signs of Lent…..

Signs!!!

A pictoral reminder of something that we are suppose to want to remember, right?!

A reminder to “focus” on the “task at hand”.

So I’m linking up for 7 quick takes over at “This Ain’t the Lyceum”.

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 So this blog post is just a “quick 7 takes” about the Signs of Lent in our home!

family calendar  1.) Scheduling:

I got to tell you that few things make me happier than a great “tip”. So you can imagine my joy when my girlfriend told me about this awesome dry erase calendar at Pottery Barn Teen. We have been using it in our school room religiously. (For those of you wondering….the colorful book tags are bible verses that we are memorizing this year.) However, when I found these awesome calendar tags for Lent over at Shower of Roses…it was a perfect combination to an already great set up!

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I also used her cool printouts to decorate the kid’s area for Lent.

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2.) Visual Kid-friendly Reminders

If you want your kids to take responsibility for their Lenten sacrifices and really make the “most” of this period in the church, it’s important to have an area of your home that reflects this. Every year we use our door to the basement to hang the children’s personal Lenten calendars. It’s a countdown of the 40 days which they color as they “count down”. We also sit down with each child, and write down what they are giving up or adding to their day. The little ones, 5 and under, we let give up something different each week.

This year we had one of our children give up their bed for all of Lent; another take up a 30 min. bible devotion at night; and another pick a week of doing good deeds for her siblings. We are always impressed with how they really “dig in” this Lent. On Sundays, we review their week with them.

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3.) Family Lenten Devotions

During Lent, we also pick family devotions to help our family grow closer to Christ. Each day highlights a specific action or form of worship/prayer that we will take part in as a family. Listed above is our breakdown for the week.

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4.) Simplicity of the home

All year, our house is adorned in various decorations. This simple table reminds the kids of the simplicity of this time of year…..preparation. Our Lenten decorations are simple, so as to be a stark contrast to the colorful flowers and bright Easter decorations.

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The children love the ever- changing mantel and seeing what holidays are coming up next. During Lent,  our mantle is pretty bare and it focuses on the simplicity of the season.

5.) Reduction of electronic usage

I have a love affair with TV. I love to watch various shows. I’m a Cold Case, every single CSI show and episode, and Law and Order junkie. I try and speed through the commercials so I can squeeze two shows into my one hour  of “mommy time” in the afternoon. It’s ridiculous. However, I hate what it does to my children. It turns them from super loving to easily annoyed; focused and attentive to little zombies; and it drives me insane! So our TV time is GONE on Mondays during Lent. It’s tough….but we are doing great!

Kaleigh

6.) Increased-one-on one time/ Family Togetherness!

In the picture above, the fashionista and I are working on a crossword puzzle. I had saved several of these puzzles for a “rainy day” but realized that it was just something else that we never get to. This season we are trying to spend more time pulling out the board games, and the Uno cards.

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The hubs and I have also found that when the children are focused on “denying” themselves during Lent,  that it creates a more loving atmosphere in the home. There are a lot more hugs being given out and playful banter.

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Along with the board games, the hubs can’t resist the little voices that beckon him to color! With a dad that travels for work, these children soak up their time with him when he is home.

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7.) Almsgiving: Random Acts of Kindness

I started a project called Touched By His Light where I practice random acts of kindness in the name of my Catholic faith. My beautiful sister in law laminated some of my cards and gave them to me as a birthday present. Talk about “knowing me”. (I love sentimental gifts.) I pass out these cards ,when I do an act of kindness, so people understand that my loving gesture is really just allowing God to bless them through using me. My intention is that these recipients will begin to see God’s presence in their life.  So many beautiful people and families have benefited from this project.

There are signs all around us during this season. Making use of them in our lives will eventually lead to change. My prayer is that we all can embrace this change and allow the Lord to do a mighty work within us.

God bless,

Tammi

finding a piece of peace….

Have you ever craved the quiet? Longed for a silent retreat so you could clear your mind? Do you ever try and find that silence for yourself?

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 I don’t….

In fact, I spend much of my life at this pace. Totally crazy, high energy, lots of multi-tasking, late nights. I don’t take much time for myself. I don’t take much time for God to get a good, “one on one” with me.

But…that’s about to change.

I was talking with my middle child about being more ” present’ at Mass…as she is soon to receive her first penance and First Communion. I was speaking to her about how God speaks to us in the silence of our heart.

The silence of our heart.

What a beautiful concept….picturing our heart in the presence of the Lord…..

It made me realize that meditation and contemplation have to be taught. We need to teach our children to quiet themselves and allow God to speak to them. Do we provide opportunities for our children to be quiet, other than naps or bedtime? Sometimes it’s simply about making them work on their own.

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In order to begin this process with my kids, I need to instill more quiet time in our home…. Starting today.

My plan is to create an area or prayer corner in my home, an area where the children can relax and read a saint story or the little girls can finger the rosary beads and pray. However, until that happens, I need to offer my children opportunities for quiet.

Today was just about everyone getting an hour of quiet time to themselves.

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Mini Me fell asleep rather quickly behind the couch.

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The Fashionista set up herself with some Disney princesses pretty quick.

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Sweet Pea went right to her room for a little Laura Ingles Wilder.

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I found DDD building lego stuff inside his closet.

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And well…..I was DEFINITELY making use of this time as well. After some quick prayer time, I just took some time to bask in the silence and got in a little nap myself.

Silence is so important for our mind. It’s so important for us to remove the distractions of this world from our presence. To just sit in the presence of the Lord. We don’t need to be in adoration to place ourselves in the presence of the Lord. We just need an open heart and ears ready to listen.

It’s so important that we teach our children how to desire the quieter moments as well.

My hope is that this Sunday hour of silence will just be a “seed” that I plant within their heart.

That this “seed” will grow as they grow.

As the year continues, and our prayer corner is established, my prayer is that my children will come to desire silence and seek it in their prayer life.

God bless,

Tammi

Preparing for Lent…Let’s clean house…..

I need Lent….no…seriously….no laughing… I NEED lent….

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like a runner needs water….

like a tired momma needs her wine at the end of the day….

This momma gets worn out…

After the excitement of the holidays, I start to drag and evidentially end up in survival mode….

I go from “I should wake up early to workout” to “How long can I sit here until I NEED to make dinner?” I love my family but the daily grind of being a mom, housewife, and homeschooling mom can really wear on me during the cold winter days…..

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The Church, in her wisdom, knows that around February…this momma needs to work on her “inner house”.  At this point, it’s hardly liveable……It’s kinda like that junk drawer that you know you need to clear out, or the basement you think about as you just close the door behind you. The Church is like that dear friend that comes over to help you “clear out your closet”…..you complain and stress about her coming over, but then you feel so good as you tackle stuff together. It’s that love/hate relationship that we have with growth…..we procrastinate starting it…..cry and struggle through it….and at the end, we ask ourselves what took us so long to get started.

So….I’ve done the “procrastinating thing” all year or the “kicking and screaming thing” like the photo above with DDD. But…now momma’s ready to “clean house”. (Got my rag on it…let’s do this…haha)

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Very similar to the cleaning of my physical house, I gotta work on the same things. The dust, and crumbs are replaced by….yelling and procrastinating. Scrubbing toliets and mopping floors….with being quick to anger, and lacking in kindness….and just writing them makes me feel terrible. However, like I tell the kids, you have to “own” your mistakes, be truly sorry, and ask for forgiveness. I’m not the mom that I should be. I’m not the mom God has called me to be.  And…..let’s be honest, I can read a billion blogs that will tell me that “I work hard enough” and that “being a mom is tough”, or that I “shouldn’t be so hard on myself, because we all fall short”. And those words, and those “voices”, stunt my growth. They are lies, that our society feeds off of……so that none of us “feel bad”.

But this morning, I also sat learning from myself…..somebody that I knows “gets me”. haha. I re-read some of my old Lenten blogs….You can delve into them yourself here and here. It’s somewhat humbling to read the blogs that I wrote last year or two years ago and I am still struggling with the same stuff. However, isn’t that what sin is? Struggling with the same vices over the over? As much as I would love to just “fast” from chocolate or wine, I know that the Church is calling me to a greater “fast” that only I can pinpoint.

This Lent I’m not running from my vices…I’m owning them. I desire change. Now whether or not I completely conquer my vices is not important…it is the daily effort that will change me. I desire to be a walking example of the mom I want to be and the person that others, who love me, deem that I am. So my 40 days begins, and the evolution starts.

My” tomorrow” starts today.

And just as the walk to Calvary was long and painful, I know this Lent will be too. I will need to increase my prayer time, and “arm” myself for the various situations that will present themselves this Lent.

May your embrace your vices this Lent and seek real change. My prayers are with you!

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