Tag Archives: religious

A slow return……to Fall…

I haven’t blogged in so long. It’s not because I lack things to talk about. It’s actually the opposite. I’ve been enjoying the beauty of trying to “unplug” and enjoy my kids this summer. As much as I love homeschooling, much of what I do during the school year is the opposite of my personality. In the summer, I can dawn the hat of “fun, spontaneous mom” that I love. No lesson planning, no set days of schoolwork, no lists to check off, no threats over completing math problems, no stressing over days filled with hours of activity…..and I love it!!!

dress up 2014

I love deciding to have dinner at the pool, or having ice cream for lunch. I love cuddling with the kids in my bed and laughing about their antics. I love the HOURS my kids get to play with nonstop interruption for an academic lesson. I love the countless “concerts” and “performances” that I get to watch from my couch….hours of taping the kids fun episodes on my iphone. I love the lack of responsibility that summer brings…and I know that in order to have balance I need that. I need that “down time” so that I can conquer the next school year. However, as the summer draws to a close, I am having a much harder time this year with embracing this new “season” in my life…..with embracing the upcoming school year.

I have so much to share with you that has been a part of my life this summer. I want to fill you in on our big road trip to New England, on all the personal growth I have undergone, and life with five growing kiddos…. but my heart can’t get pass the feelings that I am overcome with right now.

pool time 2014

How everything that is filling my mind is just…. not important…..

that’s how I feel. I am beginning to question:

What are my priorities in this life?….am I fulfilling them?

And it’s beginning to affect everything that I am doing.

I wake up thinking about it…and go to bed with the same thoughts. Why do I have to pay bills? How important is this schoolwork?  Why is it so tough for me to make God a priority in my life? I feel that the Lord is calling me to re-evaluate everything that is important and that I value as important in my life.

Suicide of famous actors. Abortion. The death of thousands of children in the mountains of Iraq. Earthquake in China. Riots in Missouri. Journalist John Foley’s death. Countless stories of moms and dads abusing their children. The ISIS reign of terror…..

The news just seems to inundate me daily. I can’t avoid it….My facebook newsfeed is full of horrific stories of tragedy….personal friends begging for prayers……many of my friends having full debates about the ISIS situation…..

I start to feel so burdened….so sad…..somewhat hopeless. I start wondering where God is? Why hasn’t He intervened???? But have I invited him?…….Like Peter during the storm, I need to cry out to the Lord to help me….

Lord, have mercy.

How do I immerse myself in prayer for these situations without leading myself into despair? How do I go about my day with my morning vanilla chai and my morning prayer, when there is such uncertainty in the world right now? How can I unite my sufferings with so many, Lord?

Christ, have mercy.

I guess I need to fall on the mercy of our faith.  To remember that we are community of believers. That when the “body of Christ” suffers, all of its members suffer. To turn to the Lord and ask him what he is asking of me.

What is my role in all of this?

I believe that this question will be a daily prayer for me.

“Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the Word and my soul shall be healed”.

I can honestly say that the current state of events has really changed the way that I think, especially about attending Mass on Sunday. What a privilege to worship the Lord so freely??!! I can’t imagine that freedom being taken away…… How many times have I laid in my bed from a late night and wince at the idea of heading out to Mass? It’s embarrassing to admit but…I’ve been there. How many times was I sick or one of the kids under the weather and I was annoyed at having to find a late Mass to attend or having to go to separate Masses with the hubs? The truth is…until you are denied this basic right…you will exploit it. You will take it for granted. The Lord is showing me that my faith is the greatest gift that He has given me. I must cherish it and put it at the for front of my life.

church 2014

The hubs and I have also decided to take another look at our budget, to make sure that we are being good stewards of our money. Are there areas that we are just wasting money? Can we be blessing more people than we are? We also have started to talk to our children about the frivilous use of words like “starving” or “needs”. Our children are privileged on so many levels but we need them to really see their blessings and be more appreciative of what they have.

We also feel a greater challenge, as parents, to raise a new generation of martyrs. Does that sound crazy to you? It scares the heck out of me….but I need to prepare my kids little souls for greatness! They need to know that NOTHING is worth their soul.

sisters 2014

We have had plenty of time over the last few weeks to discuss the children who were fleeing in the mountains in Iraq. We have talked about their poor parents who sent them to die of hunger rather than death by the enemy. We have talked about offering our holy communions up for those souls who live in fear, that the Lord may be with them in a special way. This is a beautiful time in our Church to teach our children about present day martyrs as we continue to focus on the lives of the saints and the examples they have taught us.

maine 2014

It’s also a great time to cling to our faith and remember that God IS, has always been; will always be!! The greatness of our God overweighs whatever evil will try and rob us of our peace.

I will end this post with one of the MOST inspiring performances that I have heard……

Carrie Underwood just really sings from the heart in this one….

During your tough or low times this week, may you always remember how much you are loved and cared for by the Lord.

 God bless,

Tammi

Rediscovering Advent!!! (this is a long post!!)

Advent is such a beautiful time of anticipation.

The children really enjoy this time in our house and how we prepare our hearts and home to receive the Christ child. This year I was very convicted by our parish priest to really live “little Lent”, which is the season of Advent….. to “rediscover” the joys of awaiting a Messiah. I want to deck the house out in purple and have the children live this Advent season in a different way than we ever have. So here are some of the things that we are doing….

I ordered this cool purple table cloth from Amazon that should arrive tomorrow for our dining room table. I figured our advent wreath in the middle would be a beautiful addition.

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So I thought I was going to be super “clever” and put up beautiful purple bows on our Christmas tree for Advent until we awaited the Christmas season…..Silly me to think that I would be pioneering a new thought!!! Check out this gorgeous tree from Catholic Inspired!!! I mean…so beautifully done. I figured the hubs and I could put up the tree and our white lights and then add some purple bows and purple balls…simply gorgeous!

Looks like I will also be grabbing one of the baby doll cribs for this idea. We love to put up our nativity scenes without baby Jesus and further grow the anticipation of awaiting the Child Jesus.

I contacted Sarah over at Three Roses Design to see if she could  create me a banner in pink and purple “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” banner…and she did!!!!!

She sent me the link today!!!

Print It Yourself - Instant Download Digital PDF -  O Come Emmanuel Damask Bunting or Banner - Purple & Pink Advent Colors - 15 Flags

I have replaced my mantle candles with purple pillar candles as well. I’m excited to see how everything comes out and will post pics when I can.

We have also decided to add this book to our nightly prayer time with the kids. I recently found out that there are three books in this series.

advent bookWe read Jotham’s Journey last year and will read Tabitha’s Travels next year. If you are interested in these books, you can purchase them on Amazon. com.

During this season of Advent from now until Christmas Day, we are going to spend more time “anticipating” than celebrating the Christmas season. We are going to spend from Christmas Day til the Epiphany in the Christmas season. (I will blog on our Christmas celebrations in a later blog.) Here are some of our Advent celebrations……

  • Learn about some great saints and heralds in the bible. John the Baptist was a herald of the gospel, proclaiming the coming of the Christ. We will spend a homeschool lesson talking about his life and sharing some honey and tea in his honor. We will talk about what is means to wander in the desert and make a “fast” later in the week from TV or a fun snack. We will also discuss the various “players” in the bible.
  • Make a Jessie Tree. The kiddos and I decorated paper ornaments last year and laminated them to start our first Jessie Tree. We found a great printable online that included bible verses. We can learn about great “players” in the bible and about Jesus’s family tree. (You can click on the picture for the link to print some of these out.) We use a small fake tree that I bought at CVS years ago.

  • Write a loveletter. I am going to write up a loveletter on special paper for each member of my family.  Tuck it into their stocking for Christmas day. Tell them how I feel about them and why I love being with them.
  • Learn a Christmas carol. We will pick a Christmas carol and learn all the words to perform as a family for our family Christmas party.
  • Advent Angels.  We will prepare homemade presents for our cousins for our annual gift exchange. We will offer nightly prayers for the advent angels that we have selected.
  • Celebrate Feast days. We will celebrate the feast of St. Nick on Dec. 6; the Immaculate Conception on Dec. 9, (since the 8th falls on a Sunday during Advent); the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on Dec. 12; and the feast of St. Lucy on Dec. 13. ( I will do a separate blog on these.) However, since the Feast of St. Nick is on Friday, I will share those traditions with you now. On the evening of the feast of St. Nick, the children gather around my husband or I and we read them one of the stories about St. Nick. Typically, this story:

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This typically leads to a little discussion about how we can be “St. Nick” to people in our lives. The children then ask how they can be “St. Nick” to others throughout the holidays…. They might wrap a story for a sibling and say that it is from “St. Nick”. Then we help the children put out their shoes so that someone who “wants to be like St. Nick” can leave them some candy and toys in their shoes.

I took these pictures last year on the feast of St. Nick:

st. nick 1 st. nick 3The kids love the excitement of coming downstairs to check their shoes to see what St. Nick left them.

  • We also keep a collection of books in a basket near our fireplace. The children enjoy flipping through these seasonal books and reading them with mom or dad. Here are some of our favorites:

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As a family, we made a decision years ago NOT to incorporate Santa into our holiday traditions. We have plenty of family that do, and our children have always done a great job not challenging other children or family about his existence. We tell our children that Santa Claus came from this belief in St. Nick and a desire to celebrate the birth of Jesus though presents. This is a great book to illustrate the true meaning of Christmas.

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You can get all these on Amazon. I tend to buy a new Christmas book or two every year to add to our collection. These are a few of our favorites. I  know I have more packed in our Christmas bins that I will find later. =)

  • We also make a special trip to the library and take out other books about Christmas. This is a great time to learn about Christmas in other cultures and countries as well. Ask the librarian his/her recommendations as well. Librarians are a tremendous resource. They might also know of local events for celebrating the holidays.
  • Purchase and wrap our advent angel gifts- our church has ages and suggestions of kids who need stuff for Christmas on construction paper angels taped around the back of our church during Advent. The kids pick a child that is close to their age; shop for them, and wrap the present.
  • Pick out a Christmas tree.- Support a local tree farm and they will let you pick your tree out yourself. We only paid $35 for our 11 ft tree last year. The kids also got coloring books, candy canes and hot chocolate from the owner.
  • Christmas treeIndoor snowball fight. We started this tradition last year. It’s a “girl verse boy” game in our house. I grab two laundry baskets full of matched white socks. The boys get one basket and the girls get the other. Than we man our “forts” (blankets thrown across couches and chairs) and the game begins. It’s hilarious watching people run out of “snowballs” and get pelted as they try to gain more around their forts.
  • Look at Christmas lights.
    We typically try to go look at Christmas lights on the feast of St. Lucy as she is the patron saint of lights. I will say that we look at Christmas lights as often as we can when driving home from activities or family gatherings.
  • Have a family “purge”. This advent season is a great time to go through our toys and clothes and to think of those less “fortunate” than us. We have everyone in the family to pick a few things that they can give away or offer to someone else.
  • Perform thoughtful deeds. The children and I are starting a campaign called Touched by His Light.much like the “Random Acts of Kindness” that are on Pinterest. We will be spending much of our Advent and Christmas seasons looking for ways to spread the love of Christ with those around us. We will be working on different activities that cost money and some that are just giving of our time. (check back at the beginning of next week for that blog as well…)
  • Have a Christmas dance party. The hubs has spent some considerable amount of time creating Christmas CDs of our family favorites. We love to pop these in during car trips and family hangouts. A dance party over the holidays is always predictable!!!
  • Visit or perform in a live nativity. For the past two years, the children have participated in a live nativity with our local co-op. It is such a joy to watch them!
  • Decorate the house to Christmas music. The children love to prepare our house for the upcoming holidays. Everywhere there are reminders that we are preparing our home to welcome “the King of Kings”!
  • Christmas 2Christmas 3Make Christmas cards for the military. The kids loved when we did this last year. They got so creative with some of these cards.
  • cards for soldiersChristmas caroling for the elderly. I am trying to arrange an opportunity to do some Christmas caroling for some of the residents of an assisted living establishment near our house. I used to work for one of these facilities when I was a teenager and I remember fondly how much they enjoyed having kids come. =)
  • Decorating the Christmas tree. Our family will spend Christmas Eve decorating our Christmas tree for Christmas morning. It is such a special time for us. For the kids, it one more reminder that Christ is born the next day!!!

As we enter into this season of Advent, like the manger, may we make “room” in our heart for the Christ -child. May he find your heart to be open to Him and the love He has for you.

God bless,

Tammi

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

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Psalm 95:2 – Let us come before the Lord with thanksgiving; Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.

IMG_2772Psalm 118:1 – Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; For His loving kindness is everlasting.

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Psalm 69:30 –  I will praise the name of God with song, And shall magnify Him with thanksgiving.

IMG_2774 Psalm 147:7 – Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; Sing praises to our God on the lyre.

This year I am so thankful for the blessing of family, friends, health and a modest living. I am thankful that my heart is full of blessings yet my past struggles have shaped who I am. May you count your blessings today!!!!

God bless,

Tammi

St. Cecilia…pray for us!

St. Cecilia

St. Cecilia….patron saint of music..pray for us!

Here are a few way to celebrate her feast day:

  1. Tell the story of St. Cecilia!
  2. Have a dance party! These are BOUND to happen almost daily but this one will be planned. What a great way to remind our children about the joy of music and what it does to our hearts.
  3. Attend a concert. My daughter has been taking piano for a few years and my son just started guitar. This would be a great day to have them give our family a small concert. Taking out small maracas or tambourines help the little kids get involved.
  4. Coloring Pages! I love to let my kids color pictures of saints. Often times, this is a great opportunity to pull out the watercolor paints and let them use a different kind of media. Catholic Heritage Curricula has a few beautiful coloring pages on their website. I couldn’t get the image of their St. Cecilia picture but you can find it here.
  5. Recognize friends or family who have her namesake. My little niece has been named after St. Cecilia. Today we will give her a call and recognize today as her “feast day”.
  6. Have a special treat/food for the occasion. These treats by Lacy at Catholic Icing are awesome. Seeing as my kids have had enough “halloween candy” for a while, we might try and do something similar with club crackers and cheese sticks.

Happy Friday!

God Bless,

Tammi

Tip Tuesday: loveletters….be one….

When I was in high school, I had this amazing religion teacher who taught me about “loveletters” and how to look for them. She taught me that God loved me and showered me with little “gifts” throughout the day. It was my love for him and my desire for a relationship with him that would allow me to see these little “gifts” in my life. Wow??!! What a beautiful thought…..I have spent the last 20 years of my life looking for these little “loveletters” every day.

When you open your eyes to see them…it’s really quite overwhelming.

I would like to share with you one of these profound times in my life. In October 2011, one month before the birth of Miss Missy, my husband contracted meningitis and encephalitis. I can’t begin to explain how emotionally draining it was to be “done” with being pregnant and the emotional “basket case” that the last month of pregnancy has you in and then to deal with my husband’s medical condition at that time. I didn’t know how I was going to do it. I was not sleeping; barely eating; trying to homeschool three children and be at the hospital for the majority of the day so I could monitor my husband’s care; all while trying to keep myself out of the hospital until it was my turn. My mom had come up to stay with me and help me out when all of this first broke out and she was one of my first “loveletter” during that time. She helped bring routine and comfort to my home. She reassured the children while I battled the doctors with my husband.

My husband’s family delivered hot meals to my home and called regularly to “check in” on my husband….more loveletters. I would often pray on my nightly 45 minute ride home that the Lord will keep me awake….more than once a good friend called at just the right time….another loveletter…thank you, Lord.

The most impressionable loveletter I ever received happened one morning as I returned home. I had spent the night at the hospital with my husband and was coming home to spend some lunchtime with the kiddos. I was spent…exhausted….I missed my husband. I missed the man who I ran to for my problems. I missed the man who held me and assured me all would be ok. He lay in a bed with tons of wires; numerous IVs, and couldn’t speak intelligently. He had lashed out on me so much over the course of that two week span…I was scared and felt very alone. I was worried about how I would handle post-partum pregnancy with four little kids and a husband who really couldn’t function on his own. I needed a good cry…..I sat in my van in front of my house and wept. I was adamant about my kids not seeing me cry. I needed to be strong…I needed to carry this burden solely….“Lord, help me. I feel so alone.”

Then I walked by the mailbox.

“Get the mail”.

I heard it very clear.

What?

Get the mail.” 

I was tired. I just wanted to get in the door. To snuggle on the couch with my kiddos and grab a nap before I journeyed back to the hospital.

Get the mail“….”

“Ok, Lord.”

So…I stopped to get the mail. Then, I did something I don’t normally do…I sat down on the steps of the house and went through the mail. There were three personal letters in there from my household sisters from a Christian sorority I belonged to in college. Each personal letter came with a little gift card: one to Starbucks, one to Subway, and one to Mcdonalds. The floodgates opened and I cried like a baby. “You are not alone”. My heart heard it…….those little cards kept coming for about two weeks. Each letter offered me reassurance from some strong women in my life. Each card assured me of their prayers for my peace and for strength. Oh….I felt it. It’s amazing how much our prayers and our words touch those whom we love.

God answers our cries

if we have the ears and eyes to believe.

Some days we receive loveletters and somedays we have the privilege to be the sender of a loveletter.

So…for this Tip Tuesday…..

Be a sender of a loveletter.

This evening my husband and I had the privilege of having my nephew over for dinner. We have enjoyed having him over a few times a year, while he is closer to us at college, and spending time with him. He is a college student and in the middle of exams. Our little loveletter came in the form of an “exam survival kit” the hubs and I compiled for him.

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We filled it with a bunch of stuff that we “coveted” when we were in college with no money and late nights. (I took this picture before I added the homemade goodies and refrigerated stuff.) Here’s what we included in ours:

  • Wheat bread/Peanut butter/jelly
  • crackers/ cheddar cheese slices
  • fresh fruit: apples and grapes
  • canned pineapple
  • oreos: one of his favorites
  • microwave popcorn
  • small jugs of orange juice
  • small individual bags of muffins

***home baked goods: two tupperware bins: one filled with leftovers from dinner and one filled with dessert leftovers.

***A bag of Halloween candy: the kids gave him 3 pieces of candy from their own Halloween bag. The hubs and I might have thrown in a few extra to lessen our bin.

  • Some other suggestions would be: coins for the vending machine; ramen noodles; packets of tunafish; sports drinks or gum or mints.

 The expression on his face was priceless. It was the same look I had as I glance over that mail. Someone had thought of me. Someone had reached out and realized a need before I voiced it.  It’s a beautiful gift to be someone’s loveletter.

What about you?

Could you be someone’s loveletter today or tomorrow?

How about the next time you say, “I’ll pray for you.”…how about instead you BE that person’s answer to prayer.

Try it.

It’s a beautiful thing to be the hands of Christ.

Christ has no body now but yours. No hands, no feet on earth but yours. Yours are the eyes through which he looks compassion on this world. Chris has no body now on earth but yours.” – St. Teresa of Avila.

 

God bless,

 

Tammi

When the SAINTS go marching in!

This past week we celebrated All Saint’s Day and I wanted to share with you some of our traditions for this wonderful time.

In the past, the children and I have attended an All Saint’s Day festival sponsored by our Catholic co-op. Each family is responsible for creating a game related to a particular saint, and handing out a small prize for each participant. One year, my kiddos ended up recovering from the stomach flu and we were unable to go. So, we decided to have our own celebration at home.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Therese, and St. Lawrence.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, St. Therese, and St. Lawrence.

The kids had rehearsed 3 facts about their saints. They had worked so hard on their costumes and facts that I didn’t want them to be discouraged and we decided to hold our own event.

all saints day 3Enjoying cinnamon rolls and vanilla tea.

all saints day 2(Mini Me was just happy to be included.) The tea was a great opportunity for them to review their facts and enjoy a little morning snack.

This year’s All Saint’s Day happened to fall on a regular co-op day so the co-op decided to hold an All Saint’s Day parade during lunch. The kids worked quickly to create costumes for their saints and memorize their lines.

saints 1

Mini Me was St. Gianna. She is a modern day saint. She was a prolife doctor and mother.

saints 2 The fashionista was St. Ann which is her patron saint. She was the mother of Our Lady and married to Joachim.

Saints 3St. James. DDD’s patron saint. He was an apostle of Jesus’s and was present in the garden of Gethsamene. He was a former fisherman and is the patron saint of labourers.

saints 4Sweet Pea was St. Theresa of Avila. She did such a wonderful presentation. She reminded everyone that St. Theresa said, ” Let nothing trouble you. All things fade away. God alone is enough.”

The children paraded around the cafeteria to the tune of “When the Saints Go Marching In” and then played “Guess who” with their facts about their saints, letting the rest of the co-op guess who they were. It was so rewarding to hear the children “chime in” with their guesses and to see how much information they could recall from their knowledge of the year thus far.

The saints are true heroes and heroines for our children to imitate and look up to. The challenge for us, as parents, is for our children to see holiness and sainthood as obtainable and praiseworthy.

God Bless,

Tammi