Wednesday, February 13, 2019

A little Lenten planning, because the weather is so frightful, there aren't a lot of other options... :-0

My February piece over at CatholicMom.com is devoted to OL Lourdes! 
Hello all! It's a busy week over here in my little corner of Western New York. We've had some pretty intense winter weather every single week lately, and it's made commutes and such difficult, but we're hanging in there. Speaking of traveling by car, I'm going to the Columbus Catholic Women's Conference on Friday! It's looking like the weather will be OK for me to drive, it's about 5 hours away. I'm a little nervous about it, BUT I will get to see my beloved Allison Gingras for the first time since 2015, and I'm ever so excited about that! I'm sure I'll be tweeting and posting in our Facebook group for those who partake in those communities. I'll keep you all in the know! I think it'll be a lovely way for me to prepare for Lent.

And speaking of Lent! I'm all excited. :-0 #CatholicNerd My goal this Lent is to keep up with my new subscription to Living Faith, and my first print issue should arrive anytime now. As well, I'm planning to download the Blessed Is She Lent Devotional for 2019, which is called To The End. I absolutely love their devotional journals, and although the digital download makes it harder to fill in the questions, I find that I am more apt to use it in digital form.

As well, I'm contemplating a Lenten Book Club for the blog with this book:


Thoughts?! My sister Shauna'h mentioned this book to me, so I popped over to Amazon to check out the description, and got all excited.
Do you ever feel caught in an endless cycle of working harder and longer to get more while enjoying life less? The Stewart family did—and they decided to make a radical change. Popular Catholic blogger and podcaster Haley Stewart explains how a year-long internship on a sustainable farm changed her family’s life for the better, allowing them to live gospel values more intentionally. 
When Haley Stewart married her bee-keeping sweetheart, Daniel, they dreamed of a life centered on home and family. But as the children arrived and Daniel was forced to work longer hours at a job he liked less and less, they dared to break free from the unending cycle of getting more yet feeling unfufilled. They sold their Florida home and retreated to Texas to live on a farm with a compost toilet and 650 square feet of space for a family of five. Surprisingly, they found that they had never been happier. 
In The Grace of Enough, Stewart shares essential elements of intentional Christian living that her family discovered during that extraordinary year on the farm and that they continue to practice today.  
You, too, will be inspired to:

  • live simply
  • offer hospitality
  • revive food culture and the family table
  • reconnect with the land
  • nurture community
  • prioritize beauty
  • develop a sense of wonder
  • be intentional about technology
  • seek authentic intimacy
  • center life around home, family, and relationships

Drawing from Pope Francis’s encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’, Stewart identifies elements of Catholic social teaching that will enhance your life and create a ripple effect of grace to help you overcome the effects of today’s “throwaway” culture and experience a deeper satisfaction and stronger faith.

*squeals*

What do you think? Shauna'h said that it is a *really* fast read, and that she just devoured it. I would download for Kindle, but it's available in print too, and your library may have it! I would love to hear your vote in the comments. :)

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

A cute saint story podcast...

Yes, I really wish I had come up with this idea myself. :-0 You all know how much I enjoy podcasts, and how much my kids and I also enjoy stories of the saints. This would have been a marketing goldmine, let me tell you you. ;-) At any rate, Shining Light Saint Dolls thought of it first, and I listened the newest episode as well as one of the earlier ones this morning while I was getting ready for work. Let me tell you: SO CUTE. These are not just for kids!



This is a weekly podcast featuring a saint whose feast is celebrated that week. They are short episodes, 4 to 5 minutes each, and begin with a quick description of the saint, followed by a narrated story highlighting something this saint is particularly known for. The stories have sound effects and everything, it's so endearing. :) At the end, the narrator draws a lesson that we can all learn from this saint. The newest episode features St. Scholastica!

I really enjoyed these, and officially subscribed to the feed so that I'll receive new episodes automatically in my podcast app. If you go to the Shining Light Dolls website, scroll down just a tad and you'll see "Saint Stories for Kids", followed by the option to listen to the latest episode, or subscribe via a number of different feed options. They would be perfect to play for your kids, but I have to admit that I'm looking forward to listening to the new episodes as well. They are a breath of fresh air for my morning commute!

In other faith news, I have some ideas for Lent, including a read-along/book club idea that I'm *really* excited about. Look for a post on that next week! 😀

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

An assortment of winter thoughts and prayers...

That's currently my house, pictured left. ;-) We're in for a heck of a storm here in the Northeast, and apparently a Polar Vortex is coming to suck us all into another dimension, or some such thing. :0 The kids have school cancelled both tomorrow and Thursday, and we'll all be indoors for 2 straight days with lots of family togetherness.

😳

I'm joking. It's good, it really is! But if my kids can't go outside to romp in the snow (which they won't be able to - wind chill will be well below zero, and I'm talking Fahrenheit) they get bored and miserable. We'll make do as best we can! For my part, I'm planning to knit and crochet non-stop, and perhaps I'll have enough time to make a full size afghan! 😃

I do have a blanket in progress, matter of fact:


The theme of the colorway is sweet pea flowers, and I'm so pleased with how this is coming out!

At any rate, the biggest thing on my mind right now are my kids. I mentioned Henry in my post a few weeks ago, and indeed, he was accepted into his first choice Catholic high school. The only thing is, you know...$$$$. We received financial aid, but I'm still losing sleep over how we will make this happen. I think it would be a wonderful environment for him, and I'm really praying that this works out. Your prayers, as well, are very much coveted and appreciated!

Sort of along this same line of thought, the age difference between Henry and Anne has finally, to me at least, become very obvious. My kids are 5 years apart in age, and that has never been a big deal to me. It still isn't, it's just that Henry is becoming a young man, while Anne is still very much in little kid mode. And she should be, she's 7. It's a changing time of our lives, and it's both wonderful and painful at the same time.

So I've been praying a lot. It's been hard for me to pray the rosary in my car since I got a stick shift, but now that I've become more experienced with that at this point, I've adapted to a model whereby I use a one decade rosary with big round beads in my left hand that doesn't interfere with my shifting. At the very least, I can pray a single decade, or the 3 Hail Mary's devotion. I did also sign up for a print subscription to Living Faith, like we talked about last week.

It'll be ok. But it's hard sometimes with the not knowing how things are exactly going to work out. That's where the faith thing comes in, I suppose. ;-)

Are you feeling extra contemplative this winter? What types of devotions do you add into your prayer routine when this happens? I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Daily devotionals, analysis #547 ;-)

Indeed, this is a topic near and dear to my heart. :) I have quite a love affair with daily and seasonal devotionals. I know that I've written about it quite a few times in the history of this blog, especially during Lent and Advent! But here we are in winter Ordinary Time, all fresh into the new year, and this is also a time that I think about dedicating myself to a daily routine with my faith. Especially lately, my kids have been on my mind quite a bit. Both are growing so quickly and going through many changes. A daily prayer ritual is exactly what I need right now to best pray and discern for them, and it always helps to hash things out with friends.

*hug*

Below are two of my favorites. Are you familiar with these? Your thoughts are most welcome!



Living Faith is just the cutest little booklet ever. I first discovered it when I was in North Carolina visiting my sister, and her parish had the current issue available to try out. They are published in 3 month segments, and always have seasonal photography on the front, which I LOVE. Each day lists the daily mass readings (but does not include them in the text, you'd need to look them in your own Bible, fyi), and includes a short reflection on the theme from the readings for that day. You could read these reflections in well under a minute, if you weren't also looking up the scripture readings. I used to have a print subscription, and I have to say that I miss it. I bought the digital copy of the January/February/March issue, and it just isn't the same. Perhaps I should resubscribe? It's a great purse tucker.



Sacred Reading is a much larger book than Living Faith, but it is also available as an ebook. I do have this one in print form, but it doesn't carry around as easily as the other. You need to keep it at your desk. ;-) But I enjoy the format a lot more. It includes the text of the daily Gospel, and several other prompts to lead you in prayer and contemplation on the theme of the text. I like it a lot. It *does* require more concentration to read the entry, which is either a great thing or a difficult thing, depending on your state in life. Once I start teaching, I'm not at my desk nearly as much.

Thoughts? Sacred Reading seems idea for Lent, and indeed, they do have a separate volume just for that season. In fact, that volume is small enough to likely fit in my purse. I'm really thinking I'll use Living Faith every day if I just resubscribe in print. I really do want a daily commitment to something. What would you choose, or do you have another suggestion? 😃 I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Thursday, January 17, 2019

This Catholic parenting thing doesn't get any easier...

Happy mid-January, everybody! How is the winter treating you so far?



Things are great over here. We're still in winter term at the university for which I work, so the campus is blissfully quiet and peaceful. Classes don't begin again until January 28th, and I don't start teaching my library lab again until 2 weeks after *that*, owing to the drop/add period.

*praise hands*

This quiet winter Ordinary Time has had other benefits. January tends to be a performance lull for dancing, which is fine with me. One needs time to recharge and hone their craft, and I have a bunch of classes and workshops coming up. In faith stuff, I've been thinking a lot about the kids. For the first time, I have a teenager in my house, and I'm finding it a new challenge to think of ways to continue to share the faith with him aside from weekly Mass attendance. I touch upon sharing my faith with my maturing brood of youngsters, as well as this general post-Epiphany winter theme, in my piece over at CatholicMom.com for January:


This time of year definitely lends itself to contemplation for me. Ironically, it's *after* Advent, and yet still before Lent, but there you have it. This year, a big impetus is Henry's 8th grade retreat.

Somehow, my first baby is going to high school next year. 😭 And he'll also be leaving the school that he has attended for 8 years, and has shared with Anne for the past 3. I'm pretty emotional about the whole thing, as you can imagine. The 8th graders have a special retreat just prior to Catholic Schools week in late January, and just prior to when the Catholic high schools mail out their acceptance letters and financial aid packages. Parents were invited to write letters to their kids that they would read, privately, during the retreat. I wrote mine yesterday. Well.

😭😭😭

Let's just say that I cried. A lot. There was so much that I wanted to say, but I also didn't want to overwhelm my 13 year old with the emotional baggage of a woman in her 40's. So it wasn't easy. But I wanted him to know how proud we are of him, how much we love him. How he reminds me so much of myself, and that it's more than OK to be introverted and reserved - he will only continue to blossom into the kind, sweet and empathetic young man that God has so clearly created him to be. How the most important things in life aren't grades or what high school or college you attend, but discerning and making good choices, seeking God's will, helping others, nourishing healthy relationships, and making an impact with the causes and people that you love.

It was a heavy task, both emotionally and spiritually. But one that I am privileged to have. Henry, in particular, challenges me to be a better person because he is my first and oldest child. Inevitably, when something new comes up with regard to his life and development, I have no idea what I'm doing. 😂I feel like I'm winging it a lot. And that's one thing with dance, and quite another when it's your kid, a precious, eternal soul given into your protective care!

This whole parenting thing is a journey, an adventure, and as my mom always said (and aren't moms ALWAYS right about these sorts of things?): "babies don't come with instruction manuals." You just have to figure it out as you go along, and you're going to make mistakes along the way.

I hope that we're doing a good job for Henry. I know that we're doing a good job *with* him since he's always been such a kind and good soul. But maybe that's not really our doing anyway, but God's alone. Deep thoughts for a Thursday morning. ;-)

This year for Lent, I want to single him out for some more mature spiritual time with me. Exactly what this will entail, I do not know. I will wing it. :0 But I'll figure something out!

Any words of wisdom to share for Adventures in Catholic Parenting? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

New Year's Dancing amusements, 2019 edition...

A continued Happy New Year to you all! 🤗I'm really riding this New Year's wave to it's maximum, so just know this going forward. ;-) I miss the lovely visiting time of the holidays, but I'm really treasuring the freshness of January this year.

I promised last week a synopsis of my always entertaining New Year's Eve performance exploits, and I always keep my promises. You have your beverage with you to sip?


Rather than the sub-arctic temperatures of last Near Year's Eve, this year the temperatures were mild, and thus the chosen precipitation of the day was pouring rain. And it being the very beginning of the winter, it was pitch black outside when Claire arrived to fetch me, my big rolling suitcase and my sword at 5:30 pm. We hustled down to the restaurant, managed city parking like champs, and wrangled our wet stuff inside. It was about 6 pm.

The restaurant owner and staff were very gracious and happy to see us. They escorted us to our dressing room, otherwise known as the supply room. ;-) To be sure, we are very grateful to have a place other than the public restroom in which to change, so no complaints here. But it's always a comical game of Twister with 2 of us and our poufy costumes smashed into a small space, also occupied by various and sundry restaurant supplies: stacks of tablecloths, cases of takeout containers, and various candles. We wedged in there, and as we began to change, I quickly lost track of a shoe. I decided not to worry about that until we had to leave, and stashed Sword atop an open box of sugar packets.

Once changed and in our coverups, we scouted the Music Situation. No matter what, the music is always a Situation in these encounters. :0 They had a sound system, but it was up at the front of the restaurant behind the greeting/checkout counter, the opposite end of the building from our home base. We quickly conferred about aux cables and using each other's devices, and hurried back to our safe space. It wasn't yet 6:30, and they had wanted us to wait, but suddenly an employee appeared with the request that people were asking for us, and could we begin RIGHT THEN?

😳

Claire hurried to the front to start my music, and I concentrated on sweating profusely and straining my ears to hear the music switch over to my entrance piece. I heard the first strains of the overture, thankfully, and burst out from the back room with my veil aloft. Well.

My music supports a grand and beautiful veil entrance, and let's just say that a crowded, small space does not support a grand veil entrance. :0 I had never danced at this restaurant before, but I've danced in restaurants with small eating areas. I've always been able to enter with a veil and find a spot at the front where you can do some veil work before discarding it. This restaurant is set up differently, and the 2 more open areas leading into the 2 seating spaces were crowded with servers moving back and forth with food and drinks, and with people waiting to be seated or to gather food from the buffet.

I swirled out and immediately was swallowed up into a sea of humanity. There was no room to do anything with the veil, or even lower it very easily. Every time I turned around, there was a server backing away from me carefully, balancing a tray of water glasses. I got up to where Claire was holding vigil with the music, and unceremoniously discarded Veil in her general direction. Things got a wee bit easier after that, but I have to say that this was the tightest space I've ever dealt with in restaurant dancing. The place was hopping, and the New Year's Eve menu was only buffet. So there were people up and about constantly, not just the servers. Me moving from place to place caused a ripple effect of gentle scattering of other bodies. The section with the buffet in it was almost completely inaccessible, and I had to give up trying to shimmy between tables over there and only dance at the small entrance spots. Even there, I risked accidentally slapping servers left and right.

In a nutshell, Set 1 featured:


  • Incredibly tight spaces and range of movement. Near disaster with Veil.
  • A baby who loved me and did a back bend in his highchair to watch me.
  • Lots of people moving around me, wide eyed and clutching plates, as I made my way around.
  • Music glitching in and out a bit in the sound system, but the general noise of the place was so loud I doubt anybody noticed but me.


When my drum solo finished up, I was relieved to have that set behind me and swirled to the dressing room. Claire and I conferred, and she confessed nervousness about the giant fan veils she planned for her set. 😬 The owner asked her to wait to start her set, because he was hoping some of the tables would clear out and turn over to new guests. So we waited. And waited. And eventually he came back to say that nobody was leaving. 😂 We took that as a sign that everybody loved us and wanted to see more dancing. 😇

Eventually, he asked Claire to start, and I hustled over in my coverup to set up her music behind the host counter. Immediately, people began asking me about their reservations and how long the wait was. I suppose hostesses in Indian restaurants often wear hot pink dance coverups? ;-)

I got Claire's music going, and the place was now even MORE crowded than it was for my set. People were up trying to pay their bill as new people were coming in and waiting. Her music was doing the glitchy thing too, and I kept trying to assure that the aux cable was attached as firmly as it could be.

After she finished, we changed for our second, and final, sets. We waited again for the tables to fully turn over at the owner's request. Our dressing room, formerly quite toasty warm with all of our necessary shenanigans to get into full costume, and then coming back sweaty from performing, had grown a tad chilly, and cold sweat was now my constant companion. I had decided not to enter with Veil this time, but Sword is featured in song 2 of the second set. He always brings a measure of anxiety in his wake. ;-)

The request for us to start anew came quickly again, and as Claire moved to the front to start my music, I readied and assured my costume was all smoothed. I heard my entrance overture, and got ready to burst out, only then noticing that I had an empty straw wrapper stuck to my bare foot. Glamour, glamour ALL THE TIME.

I danced out, and this time the restaurant was at a much more normal capacity, rather than bursting at the seams, which was a welcome relief. It was still tight over by the buffet, but not as claustrophobic as before. And the audience, because they were seated and eating for the most part, rather than standing in line, were very engaged and responsive. As well, Sword had his big moment, which is always a crowd pleaser.

Set 2 highlights:


  • A little brother and sister excitedly followed me around the restaurant.
  • Their mom stopped me several times to take pictures with them.
  • Their toddler littlest sister came over and burst into tears, I hope it wasn't me. :0
  • Their grandfather stopped me to take a picture right in the middle of my baladi song, that was a first.
  • Same baby still loved me.
  • Several women conversed with me *while I was dancing 😂* to tell me how much they were enjoying the show.
  • Sword behaved and I actually kept him with me for the entire second song. Early discard of Sword means that Tiffany is not having a Good Sword Day. ;-) 


It was great, I really enjoyed that set. Claire was able to start her second set soon after mine ended, and we both breathed a sigh of relief that all went well. The owner was very happy and wants to have us back next year. A win/win.

As I packed Sword up and looked for my shoe, spilling the sugar packets all through the open wire shelving unit, :0 I reflected on how much I enjoy my eclectic set of interests. Egyptian dance is much more to me than a hobby, truth be told - it's my passion, it's my (granted, secondary) profession, it is the creative inspiration for everything else that I do, and it gives me a significant sense of creative purpose and meaning. The dancing life is good, truly it is.

I'm signed up for two Egyptian folkloric dance workshops this winter, as well as a Turkish dance intensive in March. Turkish - I'm branching out. ;-) I am very blessed to be able to do what I love. This New Year is going to be a good one, I just feel it. 🤗 In terms of dancing, I want to work on studying and learning as much as I can, and challenging myself in new ways.

How is your January shaping up? Any New Year's resolutions that you're working on? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!

Thursday, January 3, 2019

New Year's gratitude

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!

🎉

I'm all aglow from my wonderful holiday season, and I hope yours was just as special. *hug*

This particular New Year's Eve was very meaningful to me. I was performing again (which I'll circle back to) and that makes the day both nerve-wracking and exciting, as I've experienced the past couple years. But it was more then that this year.

2018 started out pretty rough for me. Although I share a lot here on this blog, I don't share everything, and this is one of those times, as I'm sure you can understand. So forgive the vagueness, if you please, but last winter and early spring were very, very emotionally difficult. And although it got better and emotional healing took place, I carried the wound with me throughout the year. In that way, I was glad to see 2018 come to an end, and a fresh start with 2019 come to fruition.

HOWEVER. I realized something very significant as New Year's Eve crept up on me. I was allowing that one very difficult situation to remain at the forefront of my mind and in my assessment of the year, when in fact, many, MANY joyful developments actually crowded that single painful one out, but I was ignoring that bit of reality. In 2018:


  • My kids have both grown tremendously, with Henry becoming a teenager and Anne solidifying herself in second grade as a fully entrenched school aged kid. Henry made the basketball team and Anne started Girl Scouts, which she LOVES.
  • My husband wrote a novel that is going to be published by a traditional press! I am SO PROUD of him! This is a lifelong dream of his, and it is finally becoming a reality for him. 🤗
  • My own Bible study for women, which had been in the works for a year, finally became a reality, and working with dear Allison Gingras is a total joy. *heart*
  • A new and adorable nephew was born into my family!
  • I found a lovely Zumba community near my house that I attend on as many Saturday mornings as I'm able. The women there are warm, kind and absolutely WONDERFUL. The teacher is a woman named Sue who is am absolute treasure. I am so grateful to have found her and this community!
  • My dance career has taken a gentle turn to more opportunities to both perform and study. I am so excited to continue to see where this journey takes me, and I'm enjoying every single moment. I have workshop plans in 2019 that I cannot wait to dive into!
  • Last, but certainly not least, I had some cherished friendships deepen and strengthen this past year. Some were newer, others were established several years back, and in all cases they grew by leaps and bounds in 2018. I cannot possibly express how much these ladies mean to me.


And this January, on the 8th, Mike and I celebrate 14 years of marriage. Not quite a milestone, but it's an even numbered year, which I love! And we've been together fully for 16 years. That's a long time! :0 We're going away this weekend, just the two of us, to celebrate, and I am SO looking forward to it.

Life is GOOD, it truly is. And I learned an important lesson about not taking things for granted, and seeing them (and people) for what they are. Sometimes they're not good, but oftentimes they're *fantastic*, and seeing them in an honest light is so, so important. I should never again allow the negative to overshadow the abundance of positive.

And speaking of good (and never forget HUMOROUS!) I have fun dance stories from New Year's Eve! They're self-deprecating, they're somewhat ridiculous, and above all, I hope they make you laugh out loud! AND...

*drum roll*

...you will hear all about them next week!

👼

Hey! I need to preserve good blogging fodder when I can. ;-) Eagerly anticipate this with me my friends, where else do you get such a strange eclectic mix of topics?! 😀

I'll chat with you then! In the mean time, how was your Christmas? What did you do for New Year's Eve/day? Did you choose a saint for the year? Mine is St. Francis of Assisi! I'd love to hear all about it in the comments!

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Advent Book Club 2018 Week 4 - Abandonment

Advent has moved swiftly, as usual. 😬 Somehow, we're almost at the 4th Sunday of Advent, and the final week of our Advent Book Club! I've found this to be a peaceful little foray, and I hope that you have as well. 🤗 There will be a short hiatus on the blog between Christmas and the new year, but we'll reconvene in early January with lots of fun stuff! A new year is always something to celebrate and be refreshed by, and I know that I'm embracing that more than ever right now. We're in this journey together!

All right, this week we only have one chapter left to go, and we're spending time with Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade. I knew the least about this friend prior to our adventure, so let's dive in and see what he has to teach us. :)

And it is this same Jesus, ever living and ever active, who still surprises us if our faith is not strong and clear-sighted enough. There is never a moment when God does not come forward in the guise of some suffering or some duty, and all that takes place within us, around us and through us both includes and hides his activity. Yet, because it is invisible, we are always taken by surprise and do not recognize his operation until it has passed us by. If we could lift the veil and if we watched with vigilant attention, God would endlessly reveal himself to us and we should see and rejoice in his active presence in all that befalls us. 
- "Abandonment to Divine Providence" by Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

To Reflect: In what ways do I struggle on a daily basis with having faith and trust in what God is asking me to do?

Throughout my days, faith and trust and things that weave in and out of the decisions that I make, and I suspect that I am not alone. Sometimes I reflect on things with a lot of discernment and prayer and make good decisions. Other times, I do not. 😬 Even after all these years, sometimes I feel like I know better about what I want and need than God does. I muddle things up and make them more difficult for myself than they need to be. The bottom line is that faith and trust can be HARD. I love Fr. de Caussade's words about how God is invisible, but still very much real and there with us all the time. His presence is "active" all around us. Hidden, but active, that really struck a chord with me. Especially at Advent, we must look for the quiet, still voice amidst the chaos.

A few times recently, I've encountered a challenge (mixing up the time of an appointment, minor damage to the passenger side mirror on my car) that immediately prior, I've had a little niggling thought that I should proceed differently or verify a detail I thought was all finalized. Both times, I assured myself that I had it right, and both times resulted in major stress for myself and inconvenience for others. I've been dwelling on the fact that I need to listen to that small voice in the back of my mind. Sometimes, he knows more than I do. ;-)

Those are my thoughts for the week! What are yours? Leave them below!

I'll chat with you all again in the new year! Happy holidays! *heart*

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Musings on the New Year, just a bit early...

Well, it's almost the end of 2018, and I'll skip bemoaning how quickly time goes by when you get old and how humbling that is.

😬

Since we've been focusing on the Advent Book Club for the past several weeks, I thought a little update post would be nice, just about general life stuff. That's one of my favorite things about this blog. :)

So, the kids.

😬😬😬

Henry is in 8th grade this year 😭 and has taken the Catholic High School Entrance Exam. We should get his scores and a financial aid package at the end of January. Please pray for us that it is manageable to send him to the Catholic boys high school he'd like to attend, if you please! We would love to send him there, I think he would thrive, and it's literally blocks from our house. But, you know...$$$$. He has also made the basketball team at his current school and has been doing very well. Henry is a more reserved kid, and it's good to see him socializing and fitting in. Warms my heart.

Anne is in 2nd grade and as sassy as ever. She's suddenly very tall and it's hard to believe that this is my little baby. 😭 She's made great strides with her reading abilities, and has a brand new subscription to Magnifikid magazine to show for it. She joined up with a Brownie troop out of a local parish this year, and so far we're both really enjoying it. A good friend of mine is the troop leader, and it's been a fun and warm experience for all. She went camping with them a few weekends ago, and was away from us overnight (without being with a grandparent) for the very first time. 😢 It's hard, but it's so lovely to see her growing and thriving.

Both of my kids are precious souls with good hearts. They drive me crazy more than 50% of the time, but this means that, you know, they're NORMAL. Anne helped me set up our new Shining Light nativity set back at the beginning of Advent, and she now has the wise men slowly traversing the dining room each day to get to the manger in time for the Epiphany. This means that daily, I accidentally kick them over because they're walking right in the path from the kitchen :0 but it's SO ADORABLE that I don't have the heart to move them. It's moments like that that I remember why life is so good.

My Mike is between semesters of teaching and enjoying the time to refresh and recharge prior to the new semester. He's teaching something in the spring called Phenomenology and Existentialism.

!

If anybody can decipher that for me, I'd be much obliged. :0 Our 14th wedding anniversary is coming up in early January, and we're planning a little weekend trip away!  *heart*

In other news, I'm dancing again on New Year's Eve, and I'm actually looking forward to it rather than being frozen in fear, that's a nice change. ;-) Granted, the morning of December 31st, I'll wake up feeling like I'd rather face a trip to the gallows, but no need worrying about that now! :0 I have lots of dance workshop plans in the new year, and I'm SO EXCITED. In addition to Egyptian belly dance, I've been really into studying folkloric dance lately. I study Egyptian folkloric dance as part of my regular classes, but I'm wanting to really delve more into these as there are quite a few different styles in Egypt, (can one procure an advanced degree in belly dance history? 🤔) as well as into Turkish folkloric dance. I took a workshop a few weeks ago on Turkish Roman dance, and I LOVED IT. I've never studied Turkish style dance at all, and this is just one very specific folkloric style. It's wonderful to learn about a new-to-me culture and their dance, the possibilities are endless! But I'm a dance nerd, I can't help myself. ;-)

So, lots of dance research and fun in the new year, and just generally a Life Is Good mentality. I have a lot to be thankful for, and I never want to take that for granted. There were some hard things this year, but I made it, and most importantly, I learned from them. Not all lessons are pleasant, but they are important and vital to our long term well-being. Maybe we won't make the same mistake again next time, you know?

I suppose this is a New Year's Resolution post just a tad early. In the near year, I want to:


  • practice a lot of gratitude
  • take advantage of every opportunity to grow in my dance hobby that I am so passionate about
  • take time, with intentionality, (is this even a real word?!) to be the best that I can be in my main vocation as wife and mother, and in my career as a librarian

How about you? Any goals for the new year? I'd love to hear them!

The final Advent Book Club will be up tomorrow morning!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Advent Book Club 2018 Week 3 - The Eucharist, and the importance of trust...

brrrrrrr, it's getting pretty wintry here in WNY, and I hope that you are all keeping warm and cozy.

*virtual hug*

I have lots going on over here (all good stuff) and I plan a separate post for that in addition to our final Advent Book Club post next week. Our Book Club selections are only for a single chapter next week, so that works out very well.

This week, we are snugging up with two modern saints, St. Edith Stein and St. John Paul II. Is this an awesome duo or what?! I'm super excited to dive into what they have to tell us about our faith, and how specifically we can tie that into Advent. Are you ready?! Grab your mug of hot cocoa!


It is most important that the Holy Eucharist become life's focal point: that the Eucharistic Savior is the center of existence; that every day is received from His hand and laid back therein; that the day's happenings are deliberated with Him. In this way, God is given the best opportunity to be heard in the heart, to form the soul, and to make its faculties clear-sighted and alert for the supernatural. 
- "On Woman" by St. Edith Stein
To Reflect: How can I improve the way that I make the Eucharist the focal point of my day?

The Eucharist, YES. Whenever our faith needs a boost, the Eucharist is where we need to be. I used to be able to attend daily Mass, and I miss those days so, so much. My schedule and state in life make that something that just isn't happening right now. But if we're receiving on Sunday only, how can we carry the Eucharist with us in our hearts throughout the week?

We can make an Act of Spiritual Communion. From EWTN:
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and united myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Fabulous, right?  We could incorporate this into our daily prayer for Advent quite easily. When we make the Eucharist the center of our faith, we can hear God so much more clearly. He is able to speak to us much more clearly this way. This makes me really appreciate Sunday Mass that much more when I dwell on this!
Why should we have no fear? Because man has been redeemed by God. When pronouncing these words in St. Peter's Square, I already knew that my first encyclical and my entire papacy would be tied to the truth of the Redemption. In the Redemption we find the most profound basis for the words 'Be not afraid!' 
- "Crossing the Threshold of Hope" by St. John Paul II
To Reflect: Do I fully trust in God's mercy and goodness, or does fear play a role in my everyday life?

John Paul II. 😍 I just love this man so much. And being that one of the messages he is most known for in his papacy is that of releasing fear, he is even dearer to my heart. As someone who struggles with anxiety daily, being afraid of things is something I'm very used to. And St. John Paul II tells us to NOT be afraid, because God has redeemed us. In the end, isn't this the only thing that is important? Yes, we have daily challenges and worries, but nothing can truly harm us because God has us. He has redeemed us, and we have hope for eternal life with Him. I personally *know* that I struggle with trust and with fear. It's a daily source of consternation for me. But I keep trying, and we're all in this together!

I find this Litany of Trust from the Sisters of Life SO HELPFUL, and I have a printed copy of it in my office. Definitely check it out! It is absolutely perfect for the Advent season.

All right, those are my thoughts for the week. Please leave yours in the comments! Next week, we are finishing up with Fr. Jean-Pierre de Caussade's "Abandonment to Divine Providence!"