Lent
Lent, 2015
February 15, 2015
0

“With its calls to conversion, Lent comes providentially to rouse us, to shake us from our torpor, from the risk of moving forward [merely] by inertia. The exhortation that the Lord speaks to us through the prophet Joel is loud and clear: “Return to me with all your heart” (Joel 2:12). Why must we return to God? Because something is wrong in us, in society, in the Church – and we need to change, to turn things around, to repent! Once again Lent comes to make its prophetic appeal, to remind us that it is possible to realize something new within ourselves and around us, simply because God is faithful, continues to be full of goodness and mercy, and is always ready to forgive and start over from scratch. With this filial confidence, let us set out on our way!” -Pope Francis

Another season of Lent is upon us!  Once again friends, we are blessed to journey together yet another year. I’ve probably done a better job in years past of offering resources, so I promise to link you up to some additional helpful posts and sites, but I at least wanted to share what we’re planning so far. One of the big focal points over the years has been our little kitchen mantle. A little humble area we try to decorate to coincide with the Liturgical year. We just started assembling our mantle which I think I’d like to try to modify/switch up here and there over the 40 day journey.  For now, here’s what it looks like:

LentMantle

 

Starting from the left:

Basket with photo from the Food for the Poor trip to Guatemala (in front). In this basket, we hope to fill (hopefully a few times over) with change for the poor. As we multiply our efforts as a family, our prayer is to offer not only a monetary gift, but prayers for the “least of these” in our own homes and communities, to those around the world.

Inside the basket is a very special version of the “Stations of the Cross.” I saw this in the Food for the Poor office in Haiti last year and never forgot the powerful images. They have haunted my heart.  In an incredible coincidence (or GOD-incidence) I was going through two bags of prayer books and holy cards today…from a friend who gave them to me after her mother died (they were the mothers’). In the midst of probably 100 items, was THE SAME Food for the Poor “Stations of the Cross” from a mailing she received in 2007! A Lenten gift from the Lord!

StationsoftheCross

I remember starting at this image and trying not to outright sob, standing in the FFTP office in Haiti. To see the picture framed and blown up in size (along with the caption) was an experience of profound emotion. These visuals are a powerful way to enter into the Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ. I pray it will be a source of contemplation for our family too,  as we pray the Stations on Friday’s during Lent. You can order or download the exact set here. 

Next on the mantle is a twig and twine wreath that I brought at Michael’s for just a few dollars. I added toothpicks to create a “Crown of Thorns.” Grant created this “IRNI” banner. It’s an abbreviation for: “Iesus Nazarenus, Rex Iudaeorum” (“Jesus the Nazarene, King of the Jews”). The sign was nailed on the cross and meant to humiliate Jesus (along with the “crown.”). This reminds us of the power of God’s sacrifice. By his stripes, we are healed (-Isaiah 53: 4-5).  Lent is time of dying to the things of this world, cutting away the things that tempt us, tie us down, and keep us from Christ. Hopefully these sobering symbols will enkindle a revolution of the heart.

The pitcher is a reminder of Jesus-healer and servant-Savior (John 13: 1-7).

The nail, hangs from the tree.

I have incense and ashes (which we’ll probably replace after Ash Wednesday) Memento, homo … quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris” (cf. Gn 3:19). “Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.”

 

2009024943

(Here in the United States, we receive ashes traced in the sign of the cross, on our forehead. When my husband and I were in Rome for Ash Wednesday several years ago however, the ashes were sprinkled on the top of our head (as Saint JP II is receiving)). We learned that sprinkling ashes on the crown of the head recalls the biblical method of putting on sackcloth and ashes as a sign of penance.

And finally, a wooden cross, hand-carved in Haiti.We have not opted to veil the cross yet, but plan to do so after Palm Sunday until Easter. There is a reason for veiling crosses (and sometimes other holy images). I’ve read several historical and theological reasons behind this. Including this one:

“It probably derives from a custom, noted in Germany from the ninth century, of extending a large cloth before the altar from the beginning of Lent. This cloth, called the ‘Hungertuch’ (hunger cloth), hid the altar entirely from the faithful during Lent and was not removed until during the reading of the Passion on Holy Wednesday at the words ‘the veil of the temple was rent in two.” (you can read more about that, here).

Although these mantle symbols may seem intense, heavy, and sorrowful, they are mere reminders of the power of the season..not the state of our hearts! As a family, we have a “teamwork” mentality as we condition our hearts and minds in preparation of Easter, but that doesn’t mean joy is absent. Lent is such a great reminder of how GREAT our God is…His faithfulness, His love…His mercy!

 

For wonderful resources and creative ideas, check out  “The Kennedy Adventures” blog (Dianna is amazing)!

“Fiat Blog for Women” also has a fantastic post with “40 Creative and Meaningful Things to Do for Lent.” 

Here is my post from last year about Lent (a little more comprehensive. Includes recommended movies)

I wish you a prayerful, joyful, holy journey with the Lord this year! God bless you during Lent, 2015, and always.

xoxo

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Uncategorized
Good Things Radio!
February 3, 2015
6

I am delighted to share some exciting news with you! My dear friend Jennifer Willits and I have teamed up to bring you a brand new show. It’s called “Good Things Radio.” This has been a much dreamed about endeavor and I am so grateful that it’s finally happening! To celebrate, we are giving away a $25 Amazon gift card. All you have to do is sign up for our newsletter and you are automatically entered. You’ll be one of the first to be notified of new episodes and exciting giveaways and goodies. Click here to check it out!

Jennifer and I met five years ago, and although our friendship has always been long-distance, she’s about as close to me as a sister. We are both in the broadcast business, have five kids, love our faith, family, chocolate and sweat pants. What more could a girl want in a bosom friend?! :)  Since leaving The Fish six months ago to be a full-time mom, we’ve both had fun talking about the “what if” idea of merging all of those things and making a show about life, faith, and sharing this crazy adventure together…all of us. She’s in Colorado and I’m in Ohio, but I think no matter where we reside, there are many things that unite us as women, as Christians, and pilgrims in this crazy world.  Just trying to figure it out, as we all search for friends who can relate to the joys and struggles. So, that is our hope! That whether you hear our podcast while folding a load of laundry, walking on the treadmill or driving to work, that it will be a little lift to your day and a hug for your heart.

I will say this though. Although I’ve been in broadcasting  practically a wee one, podcasting is a completely different beast. Thankfully, I’ve teamed up with a veteran in the podcast biz, and I am grateful for that! Six months  out of radio has left this mama a little rusty, I’ll admit. Not only that, but I’ve never done a straight talk-show. My old-school radio brain is saying “we need to take a commercial break, or play a song!” I’m not used to talking so long without a break.  After we recorded our very first episode I started getting cold feet and focusing on all of my verbal crutches and imperfections. It’s a radio rule that the worst show you will ever do, is your very first one as a new team. Even with a great friend, it’s actually harder than you might think to gauge the timing, transition topics and remain entertaining. Even still, I found myself laughing as I listened back, and I hope you do too! In time, I look forward to growing with my friend in this new project, and I hope you will join the journey!  You can find our Podcast on iTunes (please, kindly consider leaving a review if you like what you hear). You can also find us on GoodThingsRadio.com and the Podcast app.IMG_3755To still be home with the kids but also have the opportunity to fit in a show, is really a dream come true. Right now we are doing it as a hobby/experiment.  If people listen, and if it grows, we hope to do it for as long as the Lord allows. It’s in His hands, and I am grateful for that. If you have any feedback, questions, or just want to submit a topic for the show, please leave us your thoughts on our new website! We would love to hear from you.

God bless you

Books Food Uncategorized
January Gems
January 19, 2015
0

What a January it’s been so far! With snow days, in-service days and holidays, it seems like the kids have been home a lot. I love the more relaxed schedule with everyone home and spending time with the family, BUT it can be hard to keep everyone occupied in a constructive way. So, we’ve been hitting the library every week to load up on a variety of selections that will keep the kids involved and entertained (I pray)!  A few have really stood out from the Children’s Literature department. I made a video on Friday to share some of them with you, but then (for some unknown reason) it would not upload to my regular You Tube channel!  I decided to post it anyway because 1. The first book is really amazing worth knowing about and 2. Gus is a must-see. He makes a cameo appearance around the 4-minute mark. I was completely clueless at the time, but when I watched the video back I was dying! Never a dull moment with him. :)

The second January gem is a selection just for mom. It’s “Style, Sex, & Substance: 10 Catholic Women Consider the Things that Really Matter” by Hallie Lord.

Book Club Hallie Lord

Book Club Hallie Lord

This is actually the second time I’ve read the book in a group setting. I recently started a book club at my home, and this was voted as our second selection. It’s been a few years since I’ve read it, and I loved it just as much the second time! The reflection questions at the end of each chapter make it perfect for a book club. It’s really a great book for any woman though…alone or in a group. The chapters are quick and easy to read, but thoughtful and inspiring. Love this one!

The last January gem (so far) is a recipe from my friend Tracey. She makes dinners for family in a slow cooker almost every night of the week. When I heard this I was jealous, motivated and inspired! ha ha. She shared a “Cilantro Lime Chicken” low-carb recipe which I made for the family last week. Usually, my meals turn into mush when I use the Crockpot for some reason, but not this one! Thank you dear Tracey, oh Queen of the Crockpot! Click here for the recipe, I hope you like it too!

 

Hope you are having a blessed, warm January. Have a wonderful week! :)

 

Advent Christmas Faith family Karolina Life Liturgical Year Uncategorized
All Things NEW!
January 3, 2015
10

“For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.”

-Isaiah 43:19

From Karolina and our entire family: Happy New Year to you!

AllThingsNew

With the kids on vacation and our crazy house, I’m having a hard time keeping track of what day it is, let alone the year, but  2015 it is! Christmas was somewhat small but sweet. Everything just still seems so surreal with the change of lifestyle and being a stay-home mom. Usually, Christmas is a great time in radio in terms of show prep. Phone topics, inspiring stories and holiday-themed games always made work busy but full and fun. Having always been in radio since I became a wife/mom, I haven’t known anything else (even with Gus, I went back to work early and returned right after Christmas). So needless to say, this Advent season has been AWESOME as I was able to put all that focus into the kiddos and home without many distractions (and sweet sleep!)! I’m not sure how long the honeymoon period lasts, but I think I’m still in it!  Not to say I didn’t have my moments of guilt and failure (what would the Christmas season be without those evil twin emotions anyway?! Ha).

I wish we would’ve given more to those in need.

I wish we would’ve volunteered more.

I wish we would’ve spent less…

I wish I would’ve prayed more and spent more quiet moments with God…

I’m not sure if I’ve ever had a year where I’ve conquered those things, but I also feel like I’m coming away with a full heart about the things that really matter. I can only pray the kids feel the same.

So, now we are already into the season of “new.” It usually takes me at least the full month to get into that groove and rev up my resolutions, but I’m trying. The first step towards that was Adoration on New Year’s Eve. Hard not to get inspired to do something for God with scenery like this! :

AllThingsNewSacredSink

Bottom line is, this year I have vowed to make ONE resolution. That is to be a better wife and mom (okay, technically that’s two, but it falls under one vocation.)  :) Nothing else. I was caught between two worlds for a long time with my career and family, both of which I deeply loved, but that is no longer the case. In all honesty, it’s been very tempting to jump back in and explore other opportunities, but what I keep coming back to in prayer, is that I promised my children a mom that would be there, 100%. I promised my husband a wife that would be present to the needs of my spouse and family with a devotion that I have never given before. Before my feminist friends get upset, I have the greatest peace in this. Serving my family is what makes me feel feminine, and holy, and strong. As must as I stumble through it and fear I’m not doing enough, or doing it right, it is my honor to devote my heart and soul to trying.

I feel like so much of our lives is spent living in the shallow end. At least for myself. It’s so easy to be distracted by things that are eye-catching and mind numbing! Living deeply also means going where it’s sometimes uncomfortable, and unknown and we don’t have the answers. Those are the places we are stretched and pushed and brought to our knees in trust of God. I’m still working on wading into deeper waters every day, but I do know this: Karolina has taken us to a place in our lives and faith that I never imagined. She’s held my hand and taken me out far past where my feet can touch and I feel “comfortable.” But in doing so, she has allowed me to encounter God as my life vest, my anchor and lighthouse. She is the angel in my days the the focus of my prayers at night. It’s hard to describe over a blog the way autism impacts a family, because it’s so complex. But I am so grateful for the experience of what she has taught me.

Last night as I was looking for “special needs inspiration” I ran across the story of Herman the Cripple. Not at all a politically correct name these days, but that’s his title nonetheless. (From the blog “Discerning Hearts”): Blessed Herman was born with many medical problems: cleft palate, cerebral palsy, and spina bifida. He was a remarkable man. Despite his daunting physical limitations he studied and wrote on astronomy, theology, math, history, poetry, Arabic, Greek, and Latin. He also built musical and astronomical equipment. He was considered a genius in his time. He wrote prayers and hymns – the most notable being the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen).

The poem below is from Father Benedict J Groeschel’s book,
Stumbling Blocks or Stepping Stones.

Herman The Cripple
by
William Hart Hurlbut, M.D.

I am least among the low,
I am weak and I am slow;
I can neither walk nor stand,
Nor hold a spoon in my own hand.

Like a body bound in chain,
I am on a rack of pain,
But He is God who made me so,
that His mercy I should know.

Brothers do not weep for me!
Christ, the Lord, has set me free.
All my sorrows he will bless;
Pain is not unhappiness.

From my window I look down
To the streets of yonder town,
Where the people come and go,
Reap the harvest that they sow.

Like a field of wheat and tares,
Some are lost in worldly cares;
There are hearts as black as coal,
There are cripples of the soul.

Brothers do not weep for me!
In his mercy I am free.
I can neither sow nor spin,
Yet, I am fed and clothed in Him.

I have been the donkey’s tail,
Slower than a slug or snail;
You my brothers have been kind,
Never let me lag behind.

I have been most rich in friends,
You have been my feet and hands;
All the good that I could do,
I have done because of you.

Oh my brothers, can’t you see?
You have been as Christ for me.
And in my need I know I, too,
Have become as Christ for you!

I have lived for forty years
In this wilderness of tears;
But these trials can’t compare
With the glory we will share.

I have had a voice to sing,
To rejoice in everything;
Now Love’s sweet eternal song
Breaks the darkness with the dawn.

Brother’s do not weep for me!
Christ, the Lord, has set me free.
Oh my friends, remember this:
Pain is not unhappiness.

Amen! +

A new day. A reminder that we are all imperfect in some waybut God will make us new and set us free. I’m trying to remember that in 2015. That daily YES…that faithful morning “Fiat” of saying yes to God like Mary did, and welcoming whatever the day may bring.

May you also experience the newness of life in Christ’s mercy and grace this year! God bless you. Happy NEW Year!

Advent Prayer
Bethlehem Walk
December 10, 2014
3

MemorableAdventBethlehemWalk

Tonight was our annual “Bethlehem Walk,” (I know this isn’t the best picture), but the experience was so sweet. In years past it’s just been the older boys and me, but this time Daddy and the littles joined in. We bundled up and went out for an evening stroll with our trusty lantern. The aim is to step away from the noise and lights of the world, and quietly contemplate the footsteps of the Holy Family from Nazareth to Bethlehem. I love the questions the kids ask along the way (did they catch fish? What kind of food did they eat? How/where did they find water, etc)? This year I wanted to do some research before we headed out, and in doing so, I found some wonderful resources I wanted to share with you. This blog offers some context about their journey and the customs of the time. I would like to go back and read it again!

There’s also a very in-depth account of the journey, birth, and much more as told by mystic Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich (also a source that Mel Gibson used when making The Passion of the Christ). Here’s a snippet about actual moment Christ was born:

 “I saw Mary raised a certain height from the ground; she had her hands crossed upon her breast. The light kept increasing around her; everything seemed to feel a joyful emotion, even things inanimate. The rock which formed the floor and the wall of the grotto were, as it were, alive with light. But soon I saw no more of the roof; a luminous path, whose bright ness continually increased, went from Mary to the highest heaven. Then was there a marvellous movement of the celestial glories, which, approaching nearer and nearer, appeared distinctly under the form of the angelic choirs. The Blessed Virgin, raised from the earth in her ecstasy, prayed and turned her eyes to her God, of whom she had become the mother, and who, a feeble new-born infant, was lying on the ground before her.

I saw Our Saviour like a little shining infant, whose brilliance eclipsed all the surrounding splendour, lying upon the rug before the knees of the Blessed Virgin. He seemed to me very small, and to grow larger before my eyes; but this was only the radiance of a light so dazzling that I can scarcely say how I could see it.”

Wow! It’s pretty deep (and long) reading, but definitely rich in imagery and beauty! You can find the full text, here.

So far, Advent is zipping by (as usual) but I’m grateful to be home with the family. This is the first Christmas since I’ve been a mom that I haven’t worked.  Looking back now, I don’t know how I ever did it!:)  And at the moment it’s been a tremendous blessing to be home full-time, but also have the opportunity to “work,” through speaking engagements and little events here and there. Speaking of which, I’m still floating from Sunday when I had the opportunity to speak at St Michael’s Church in Cleveland.  It was just SO NICE to connect with people again and see some listeners and meet new friends too. My Mom and my priest, Fr. Jay (and by handsome boys) were also there for moral support!

BethlehemWalkPreparetheWayBrookeTaylorSo grateful for these two beautiful examples in my life!:) Just another reminder that the best gifts in life aren’t the kind that need to be wrapped.