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.

Advent
Preparing for Advent
December 2, 2014
0

PreparingforAdvent

Happy December to you! Advent, 2014 is HERE friends! I’m still busily preparing our home with little touches here and there, but I think (for the most part) we are ready. This year  we did something different to demonstrate the coming of Jesus; we made Mary “Great with Child!” I am the least crafty person in the world, so I really didn’t know if (or how) we could pull it off. As we began to put our Nativity out and little Gus was asking questions about baby Jesus, my mind was racing for a way to help him more fully understand the journey of the Holy Family and the birth of Jesus. I showed him a picture of me when I was pregnant with him (at 3, I’m not sure how much he understood, but he smiled and nodded and it was very cute). So, we decided to take the baby Jesus and also put him in Mary’s tummy until it was “time” for him to be born.

The belly is made with a tiny Christ child wrapped in lots of teddy bear stuffing to form the belly:) We then placed it in a plastic bag and “shaped” it, and wrapped her in a white dress (the bed skirt from the crib) and tied it with a ribbon. It was nice because we just improvised with the things we had on hand. The best kind of projects are free!:) The kids have all commented on Mary’s new “look” several times, so I feel grateful that has made an impact in a visual way. I also can’t stop singing “Labor of Love” from the Nativity Story. “But the baby in her womb, he was the maker of the moon. He was the author of the faith, that could make the mountains move.”  I love that!

In the place of the Christ child in the manger, we’ve replaced it with shepherds and a purple candle crown that I found at JoAnn’s:

IMG_2644

 

Everything has been blessed (it’s raining Holy Water and prayers)!:) The Christmas tree, Advent wreath, and the Nativity. Here’s the prayer we used for the Blessing of the Christmas Crib:
A reading from the prophet Isaiah: (Isaiah 9: 1-2, 5)

Let us pray in silence for the coming of peace into the world and into our home.

Lord, as we pray before this our Christmas crib-shrine and await the feast of the Birth of the Holy Child, call forth the dormant child from within each of us; cause us to wonder and to rejoice again in this most ancient feast.

As the magi came bearing gifts, may we, this Christmas, gift one another with the gold of charity, the myrrh of kindness, and the incense of prayer. 

With the shepherds, we come to the birth of Christ seeking a simple celebration, where the greatest gift will be ourselves, given to You, our God, and to each other.

May the star of Bethlehem which shone brightly over the first crib stand guard over our home, filling it and all the earth with light and peace.

(sing Silent Night or another carol)

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You because by Your holy birth You give hope to all the world.

Amen+

(Fr. Edward Hays)

The Advent wreath is also up with nightly devotions as we gather and light the candle. It might seem weird, but I truly love the darkened house with nothing but a single flame lighting the room. The kids listen more intently, the mood becomes quiet and contemplative (Hallelujah! Ha ha!)  and there is a peace that sets in. For the last several years we’ve used “O Radiant Dawn” by Lisa Hendey for our devotion time.

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Each week, each candle has a special symbol and meaning. For more information, please check out my post from last Advent with a detailed explanation. We also plan to do our annual “Bethlehem Lantern Walk” around the neighborhood which I will (hopefully) post! These days, I usually post most everything on Instagram (find me at BrookeTaylor955) or on Facebook. I hope you’ll “Like” the brand new Sacred Sink Facebook page if you haven’t already (and if you have, thank you)!

I wish you a wonderful, holy and happy Advent season. The reminder that no one can outdo God in gifts! And may you experience pure joy and peace this Christmas season. God bless you!

Autism Uncategorized
SUCCESS for Autism + Jamberry Joy!
November 19, 2014
1

Happy, almost Thanksgiving! I should really be making the Turkey Day menu right now, but it’s tough to teach an old procrastinator new tricks.:) A recent event is on my heart so I thought it would be more fun to share that instead. Last Friday I had the joy of attending the SUCCESS for Autism Benefit Gala. It really was a beautiful evening. Inspiring, uplifting, and very relaxing to be in the company of friends on a common journey. Relaxing… except for the total discomfort of my shapewear, that is! I’ll just say that as a stay-home mom I’m not used to wearing spandex anymore. Plus, being home 24/7 to make homemade meals, desserts, and after school snacks clearly has caught up with me! But I digress.;)

The evening itself was absolutely wonderful. I had the privilege of attending with my friend Gretchen. She is one of the most amazing women I know.

IMG_2456She and her husband Pat have eight children, most of which are adopted. Their daughter Maria is 27 and has autism. Thanks to Gretchen’s wisdom and experience, she has illuminated the path and inspired my own walk with my beautiful daughter. It was truly a gift to spend a few hours with her! It was also incredible to witness the stories and work of SUCCESS for Autism. For more information, click here. 

And now for the really fun part! My friend Jen has set up a Jamberry fundraiser to help raise funds for Autism Awareness and is selling these fabulous custom nail designs (and more!) on her site!

Jamberry Autism AwarenessI was so excited to receive this treat in the mail! I am notoriously disastrous with traditional nail polish and since my nails are short anyway, it’s just not an area I invest much in. But these were super easy to apply (once I got the hang of it).:) And after washing dishes, giving the babies a bath and making soup tonight, they are still looking good! Jen has loads of different designs (for hands and feet). I love the fact that this “spectrum” design makes a statement. Not only do they look cute, but a portion of every set purchased goes to autism awareness! I was just thinking this would be a great gift for Karolina’s teachers and aides! If you are interested in supporting Jen, please click here and spread the good word. Thanks again, Jen!

 

Sending you lots of love and grateful blessings.

As we lead up to Thanksgiving 2014,  here is a prayer I hope will bring you peace and replace any stress as you prepare.

(based on Luke 10:27, 38-42)

Lord, you know all the things
that still need to be done—
the cooking and cleaning,
the preparation and anticipation,
the anxiety and worry
that everything will be just right.
As I prepare this meal, help me also to prepare myself
that I may not be distracted by all these concerns.
And when you enter this home and sit at this table,
may I sit beside you and remember
that only one thing is needed:
to love you with all my heart, with all my being,
with all my strength, and with all my mind,
and to love my neighbor as myself.

Amen.

-Diana Macalintal.

God bless you. xoxo.

Oh, and Karolina says “thanks for stopping by!:” Love this beautiful smile!:)

SUCCESSFORAUTISMandJamberryJoy