Saturday, September 20, 2014

{phfr} The Gospel According to Instagram

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter. Hop on over there for more loveliness!

So, those of you who follow us over on Instagram know that we binged a bit on "Autotune the Church" the other day. (Pray for the maker of the videos! I think I heard recently that he may be becoming a Franciscan Missionary.) If you haven't watched these videos yet...go! Watch them now! They are a perfect example of what the New Evangelization should look like.

One of them really stuck with me, though. A remake of One Direction's "You Are So Beautiful," featured Blessed James Alberione:

Who is this guy?! How haven't I heard of this saint?! Do you know the thrill of discovering a new saint friend? There is nothing like it. I literally feel quivery with excitement as I type this (nerd alert)!

So, I turned to my super scholarly source of choice to find out more about this Blessed, and discovered who he was and why he would be a great patron saint for me:

"Blessed James Alberione (ItalianGiacomo) (4 April 1884 – 26 November 1971), was an Italian Catholic priest, and the founder of the Society of St. Paul, the Daughters of St. Paul, The Pious Disciples of the Divine Master, The Sister of Jesus the Good Shepherd, The Sisters of Mary Queen of the Apostles, and other religious institutes, which form the Pauline Family. The first two groups are best known for promoting the Catholic faith through various forms of modern media.[1]source

The founder of the Pauline Family! That means he is the one we have to thank for the wonderful Pauline Books and Media and the much loved Daughters of St. Paul. Please say you've encountered this order firsthand?!

At any rate, I think that he is a good patron saint for all of those who use social media, and his words have really got me thinking.

Pictures courtesy of an apple picking trip with Grandma and Granddad! Oh, and a belated 5th anniversary date. ;-)


If you haven't watched the video yet...please do! Right now!

The key line is,

"We need to put down the scissors of censorship, and pick up the camera and microphone.We need to speak in the language of our own time because God is so...God is so beautiful!"

I've heard it said before that, as people who know God's love, we need to live our lives in such a way that other people encounter His love, too, because our lives may be the only Gospel that some people ever read.


And this is where social media can be such a powerful tool.

Yes, social media is often misused. People use if for gossip, for spreading rumors, for bullying, for promoting things that should not be promoted, for judging others, for excessive distraction, for waging "Facebook battles."

Here I'm reminded of an analogy that my dad used to always give when I was growing up. My dad suffered (and survived, praise God) two heart attacks when I was ten years old. Since then, he has had to keep a powerful medication with him that he could take as a sort of "rescue" measure if he were to ever have another heart attack. He would sometimes pull out the bottle and say, "This medication could save my life if I were having a heart attack. Yet, the same ingredients, if misused, could make a bomb." His point? The most powerful things can often be a force for tremendous good or tremendous evil. Social media is an example of one such thing.


What I choose to share on Instagram, on this blog, etc. can uplift or tear down. I have read some wonderful reflections lately (I'm thinking especially of Haley's wonderful post) about authenticity online. Some of my best friends read this blog regularly, and I think they would say that what you see here is what you would get in real life. I tend to be one of those crazy INFPs who tends to look for meaning and beauty in things, even the rough around the edges things. So, the beauty you see here is not me being unauthentic - it's me sharing with you the beauty that I've seen. It's me sharing with you the glimpses I've seen of what is true, beautiful, and good. It's me sharing with you the glimpses I've seen of God.

There are lots of rough edges around my vocation, and around any vocation. Personally, I enjoy sometimes reading blogs and seeing pictures on Instagram that show the messy side of marriage and motherhood. Those messy moments are a part of my life, too, and I like knowing that I'm not alone in that craziness!

But, at the same time, some of the bloggers I know who best capture that insanity also best capture absolute beauty in the everyday moments (looking at you Amy and Grace!). We each have our place in the body of Christ. I, for one, know that when I try to copy others' styles of showing rough edges, I just look like I'm copying them. That isn't my style, so much as reflecting on the reality of my suffering and challenges and the meaning behind them. It's just my personality!

But I look at all these different styles and I see a common thread. Wherever there is a witness to beauty - funny beauty, frustrating beauty, or pretty beauty there is a glimpse of God. There is a glimpse of God's love, of His goodness. Now, there is religious art and there is also art in the world that is intensely beautiful but not explicitly religious. I think that both can lead us to God. I think the beauty of the Church is that we don't just point to songs and paintings and books about Jesus and say, "You have to listen to/look at/read these to know God!" Instead we point to everything that is beautiful and say, "Isn't this beautiful?!" And then, we are in awe of the fact that God is the source of all beauty. (It kind of reminds me of when Jen Fulweiler talks in her book about God being the source of all goodness and the role that played in her conversion)


We uphold beauty. We shine a light on beauty. We let the beauty speak for itself. We step out of the way, and we let God speak through the beauty.

Every picture I post here has a story behind it. Some even have painful, stressful, or anxious stories behind them. That is part of the beauty! Because once you see beauty here... can see beauty anywhere and everywhere. You see beauty even in the moments of suffering, of messiness, of imperfection. You see beauty in the moments that are seemingly perfect, too. And you find joy and hope in both kinds of beauty.

"From heaven, I will look after those who use modern and effective media for doing good - in holiness, in Christ, in the Church." - Blessed James Alberione

Blessed James Alberione, pray for us!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Weekend Reading: Volume 3

Just a little bit of reading for your weekend! Linking up to Jen, the radio superstar. I'm also in the middle of reading her book, and I'm loving it so far!!!


I'm always on the lookout for books to read. It's kind of backfired at this point, as I'm in the middle of or have started reading five different books at once. But I'm still looking for suggestions! There's nothing worse than the feeling you get as you're approaching the end of a book and having nothing to read next! This week, Haley shared the 10 books that have stuck with her, and I found some good inspiration for future reading! And, of course, Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy is always good for a decent book recommendation!

This is embarrassing to admit, but Grace's recent post on how to make the perfect soft boiled egg was incredibly helpful. I'm pretty confident in the kitchen, but I have a couple of weak points, and one of them is timing boiled eggs. I usually just cook them longer to be sure that they've cooked through...but I love it when they're soft boiled! Grace's method works beautifully.


Have you heard about the Declaration of Rights for Children and Families? Read it and sign it. How sad is it that we live in a world where something like this is necessary...


I know I linked to it the other day, but I really think that Amy's post on breastfeeding loss is excellent. Yes, there are probably some women who opt for bottles...but I think there are many, many more women than you might think who have suffered from breastfeeding loss. I am so happy that Amy is raising awareness about this. 


Ikat Bag is one of my favorite blogs for handmade toy inspiration. Her latest one - a hot dog shop - has me itching to get sewing. My girls would LOVE something like that! She has so many good tutorials on her blog, but I think some of the coolest are her the ones where she uses her circuitry expertise and anything cardboard.


I hope all of you are familiar with Bonnie and her son, who miraculously came back to life through the intercession of Venerable Fulton Sheen. If you haven't already heard about what's going on with Bishop Sheen's cause for canonization, click over and get updated! And please, pray and help however you can!


This story is an inspiration for any parents of small children, who go to Mass.  We've had our share of "Grandma and Grandpa" types in our lives, and they really do make all the difference. I hope that Andrew and I are like that when we're older. ;-)

Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

{phfr} Going Your Own Way

Linking up with Auntie Leila, as always!

I would not consider myself a Fleetwood Mac fan by any stretch of the imagination, but the title of this post has this song running through my mind:

I think I'm starting to realize something, now being about 4 years into parenthood and 5 years into marriage - I can't compare myself to my friends.


(We spent Sunday late morning/early afternoon hiking at our favorite nature reserve.)

I know, brilliant revelation, right? But it's something that I really struggle with - comparing to others' ways of doing things, and worrying that I'm somehow doing it "the wrong way." I'm actually not talking about reading blogs or going on Instagram or Pinterest and being intimidated by how good everyone's lives seem to be. I actually find that encouraging. I like seeing beautiful pictures of beautiful homes with beautiful children and moms who are able to pull together creative things. On rough days, I don't tend to compare myself to perfection on the internet. Pretty pictures online don't discourage me, they encourage me. I see a picture of a beautiful room online and think, "Hey, that gives me an idea for our living room...."

No, when I compare myself, I compare myself to the friends who I'm closest with. Even knowing that they all have their struggles, there is always a part of me that is afraid that somehow they're doing things right, and I'm not. Even when I'm judgmental of others, deep down there is that insecurity, that fear, that somehow I am falling short of my friends. 


(Off to her first session at her new "library school!" She was so excited.)

My closest friends kind of span the gamut in terms of lifestyle choices. Most are Catholic to some degree, but not all. More than one works at least part time, and some work from home as freelance writers, independent consultants for companies, etc. Some aren't doing have any "side" work apart from their main work of raising children and cultivating a home. Some are beginning to homeschool, some have already put their children in preschool. Some plan to send their children to Catholic schools, some to public. Some are married, some are not. Some live at home with their parents and some are living on their own or with a spouse and children. Of those who are parents, some practice sleep training/cry-it-out methods and some co-sleep (and some do a combo of the two). Some of the moms breastfeed, some bottlefeed (like dear friend who recently wrote a beautiful post about "breastfeeding loss"). Some have one child, some have many.

So in other's not as if any of these friends of mine have lives identical to mine. Sure, there are similarities between us, but across the board - no one's life is exactly like mine. Period.

But that doesn't keep me from comparing, and from letting those comparisons make me feel insecure. I worry, What if her way really is better than mine? Are my daughters deprived because I don't do x, y, or z? Is our life too busy? Is it not busy enough? Should we stay home more? Should we go out more? Is homeschooling the right option? If yes, what style of homeschooling? Maybe that mom's style is better than mine? Should I be doing more writing/work on the side? Do I spend too much time writing? Do I clean too much? Am I not organized enough? Do I support my husband enough? On, and on, and on. I'm sure you have a similar refrain going in your head.


(We were looking at these pictures from Sunday together, and Andrew joked, "There we are...the family of weirdos with their pants tucked in to their socks!" But I'll have you know we DID see a snake and not one of us got bitten by a tick or a chigger. So, I call that a win!)

But here's the thing - I'm not supposed to be doing things exactly like other people. And it's okay if it takes me awhile to discern how things should work in our family. Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say. I've already written before about how God gave you to your specific children for a reason. This is along the same vein. Are there any absolute rights and wrongs in parenting? Yes. Your children do need to be safe, need to be taught to behave and think morally, etc. But how you go about meeting their various needs? A lot of that is style. And a lot of that will vary based on your child. 

For example, Therese and Maria are completely different when it comes to sleep. Therese has always been a champion napper, and has gone through stages of struggling with night sleep. Maria is the exact opposite. While we've applied some of the same methods to both, we've had to take a slightly different approach with each, and have had mixed results. We do do sleep training (as well as spending months soothing them to sleep prior to that) but both girls have had totally different reactions to the experience. Therese is happy to please, and picked up on the routine fairly quickly. Maria is beyond frustrated when she doesn't get her way - and is not afraid to tell us! (Which is why Maria took two half hour naps in her crib today and is hanging out with me at the moment, and Therese is napping away in her room and has been for almost two hours. Sleep like a baby? Sleep like a 3 year old is a more apt expression in this family!) On the flip side, Therese wasn't big on nursing to sleep, so when we did go through the stage where we soothed her to sleep, it was alot of work to get her down! Maria, on the other hand, always loved nursing to sleep as a baby, so it was much easier to soothe her. They are just different people, with different needs!

It is silly to think that I can take one way of doing things, declare it the "right way" and beat myself up about it when I don't do things "right." Yet, I struggle with that all the time!


(She is definitely our adventurous child...much to her cautious big sister's chagrin!)

I find the internet to be extremely helpful, as I said before. It's easier for me to write the internet off as being ridiculous (anyone ever read those BabyCenter forums?), but harder to write off friends and family as ridiculous. When someone I love gives me advice or does things differently than I do, it gives me pause. It makes me question, Am I going about this the wrong way?

Now, don't get me wrong...that can be a good thing sometimes! Some of the wisdom passed on to me from people who I love and who love me, has been invaluable. But some of it hasn't really applied to our family, and our children. And some of those friends who I'm comparing myself to? Well, they may be pros compared to me in some respects, but I know for a fact that there are other areas of life where they struggle.

So...who should I be listening to? Not the crazy buzz inside my head, that's for sure. Often not the opinions and advice of others.

But what about that "still, small voice"? What about the direction I feel God nudging me in?

It is so hard to come by the silence you need to hear that voice. It's so hard to pray, and to be focused enough during prayer to feel like you can sense God's promptings.

But it helps - oh, does it ever help! - to try to hear those little nudges from God. God knows Andrew, Therese, Maria - and me! - better than I ever could. He knows what styles and methods will work best for each of us. And He's patient. So, if it takes me a gazillion times for what He's telling me to actually be heard and sink in that's okay. God works slowly.

And do you know what else? God isn't comparing me to anyone else. He just wants me to grow into the saint that He made me to be. And part of that is discerning how He wants me to love the three little yahoos in my life. :-)

But ultimately, "going my own way," means learning to do things the way God is calling me to do them. It's learning to be the "saint that is just me":

Friday, September 5, 2014

{phfr} To the tune of No Napping... least no napping from the baby. ;-)

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter. I finally was able to squeeze in a purchase of The Little Oratory into the budget and I'm so excited for it to arrive!!!

It's just been one of those weeks, you know? It helps to look back at the pretty points, doesn't it?


They are so lovely...even when they're getting into each other's space!


I've been re-vamping the school space a little. My favorite new additions are that table (free from our neighbors!) and the little reading nook in the right hand corner. 


I have no words. We went to get professional pictures done this week, and this was how they posed for me afterwards.

After that, we went to Barnes and Noble, and you better believe that Therese made a beeline for this display!


Miss Maria also had her 1 year old appointment this week - complete with three shots and a blood draw, oh, my! Don't worry...she's just crying in this picture because I wouldn't let her have my phone.

Have a lovely weekend, everyone!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tangled and the Beatific Vision

Linking up with Fine Linen and Purple for "What I Wore Sunday." Hop on over there for more loveliness!

I don't know if I've mentioned this, but I am fortunate enough to be in a geographic location where I belong to three separate library systems! I don't even know how many libraries that means I have access to. Maybe somewhere between 30-50? At any rate, I realized that the monster of a book that I checked out from the county library system was going to be due and couldn't be renewed, so I checked one of the other library systems and - sure enough! - they had a copy. So I sneaked out after bedtime, found my book, and decided to stop by adoration on the way home (since the church that was just about next door to the library happens to do adoration on Tuesdays).

At this point, the tiredness was starting to hit, so I sleepily slipped in to a pew. Have you ever done adoration when you are drowsy? It really is the best way to do it, and I'm not alone in that opinion! When I'm wide awake, I tend to bring my agenda to Jesus ("Okay, let's talk about this, and this, and this, and this...") or be incredibly distracted, but when I'm drowsy, it's easy to just be still. As I was sitting there, I looked at the mosaic behind the tabernacle, and the design reminded me of this scene from Tangled:


For those of you who haven't seen the movie before - Rapunzel was taken from her parents when she was a baby, and so (prior to this moment) doesn't realize that she is actually a princess. Then, she escapes for a day, visits the kingdom where she's actually from (without realizing that that is the case) and finds this flag in the course of her day out. Then, in this clip, she looks at the paintings all over her room - the ones she's been making since she was small - and realizes that the sun image on this is embedded deep in her memory. In a rush it all comes back, and suddenly she knows where she truly belongs, and who she truly belongs to.

Sitting sleepily in adoration last night...I had the same sort of moment. It is so easy to just get swept up in the comforts and struggles of this world, isn't it? Even if you practice your faith and take it seriously - it's still just so easy to forget about God for much of the day or at least to fail to hear His promptings throughout the day. It's easy to be trapped, stuck, and in a place we've always known. This world is familiar. The world to come is not...or is it?

Because, when we sit in adoration, or see an icon, or glimpse a statue or a saint, or smell incense, or touch holy water, or hear a few bars of good liturgical music...suddenly we remember. We remember where home is, our true home. Suddenly, everything else melts away and we can see it - as clearly as Rapunzel. We know where we're meant to be, and where we're not meant to be. That's not to say that we don't still wander back to our tall, dark towers from time to time, because we are works in progress. But, nonetheless, we know that there is a kingdom where we truly belong.

That's what Baptism does. It leaves a mark. And, if we look carefully, we might be surprised to see how much it has influenced the way the world around us is painted. Because Baptism changes everything!

As I've shared before...this is why reminders of our true home are so important!!

And now, for what we wore Sunday. ;-)

Sorry, for the Instagram repeat. If you don't already, be sure to follow us over there!!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weekend Reading: Volume 2

Linking up with Jen.


Okay, so first of all, we started our new preschool curriculum this week...and we are loving it! I read a number of reviews before ordering it (ones from Haley, Grace, Dwija, and Ginny) and I haven't been disappointed. It gives us a good balance of structure, an amazing reading list every week, and still plenty of flexibility if we want to add our own activities (and we do!). I'm trying to stretch each letter unit to last two weeks, and I don't think we'll have a problem doing that.


Speaking of homeschool preschool, I found this post very helpful! I think that even if we weren't currently a homeschooling family, I would still want to use Lacy's tips to supplement our learning at home.


Jenny is always some kind of wonderful, and her post on "her mission field" was exactly what I needed to hear this week. It's so easy to forget how important our everyday work is.


Lindsay is expecting another gorgeous child, and she is suffering from some pretty severe pregnancy nausea. As long time readers know, I've had my own jaunts with hyperemesis gravidarum, so my heart really goes out to her. So, first of all...pray for Lindsay and child! But secondly, I'm intrigued by the article she linked to. I think I've read it before, but I'm considering it more seriously now. Does anyone know anything about colloidal silver? H. pylori is definitely my issue, and I've made a lot of diet changes to decrease bread/pasta stuff in my diet (in addition to the crazy low oxalate diet due to my previous kidney stones) and I'm sure that that will help. My diet pre-Maria was basically bread, bread, bread, so I'm sure that contributed to how awful that pregnancy was. Because I'm still breastfeeding (and don't want to wean yet) a round of strong antibiotics to eradicate the h. pylori isn't an option...soooo collodial silver? Anyone know more about it?

I've been venting to Andrew about how frustrating hyperemesis gravidarum is. There has been so little research done on it, that even the doctors who are HG "experts" can really only offer options to support you in the throws of it. There really aren't any experts to turn to (other than this website!) for advice. I hope that changes by the time my daughters are having children. (Unless the whole superhero thing doesn't pan out for Therese and she decides to be a pink sister.)


Grace cracks me up every time! And if you don't already, definitely follow her on Instagram.


Bonnie's vlogs are amazing. Be sure to check out her older vlogs, too! I really hope EWTN picks her up one of these days. ;-)


Friday, August 29, 2014

{phfr} - Of Preschool, Pooh (in Latin), and Priests

Linking up with Like Mother, Like Daughter. Go fall in love with Suki's adorable little boy!!!


We're missing a member of our class...but we had our first preschool co-op class this week! We took an unplanned summer break, but now we're back at it. (For those of you who are wondering, our co-op uses this curriculum.)


I've told you about him before, but Andrew's dissertation director has been such a blessing in our family's lives! To boot, he also has excellent restaurant recommendations. We had dinner with him the other night, and the girls behaved beautifully, and we all had so much fun. :-)


According to Maria, Winnie the Pooh is better in Latin. Just in case you were wondering.

(On a sidenote...this little sweetheart has fallen in love with books! She devours them. Literally.)


Those of you who follow us on Instagram already know this...but Andrew started teaching at our Archdiocesan seminary this week! He'll be teaching two sections of Greek there this year. Major perk? Families are welcome to come to daily Mass! We met Andrew over there for midday Mass this past Thursday, and were invited to stay for lunch at the refectory (another perk for professors and their families!!). I was in awe during Mass. Being in the presence of so many young men discerning the call to the was just so incredibly special to be able to pray with them. After Mass, we got to meet some of Daddy's students. Then, while Therese and I were getting our food, the rector of the seminary actually came up to me and asked me if I was Andrew's wife, and thanked me for bringing our girls! He told me very emphatically that we are welcome to come back anytime. Talk about family-friendly! More than one person told us how much they loved seeing the girls there, and how it was good training for parish Masses to come. ;-)

I am so thrilled that Andrew is teaching over there this year (and super proud of him!!). It is just such an unique experience to be a part of the formation of these young men. And you guys...this seminary is thriving! They have a ton of seminarians! Being at a place like that makes me very, very hopeful for the future of our Church.

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