Comment Trouble Fixed… I hope!

Thanks a billion to everyone who replied with encouraging words to my previous post, The Realities of Writing, whether via the blog post or Facebook.  I greatly appreciate it and your kind words truly do keep me going!

I heard from several people who attempted to comment, but received an error, and know of another friend who thought she had commented, but I never saw it on my end.  I called a meeting with my Senior Webmaster (AKA, my husband) and we believe we have identified and corrected the problem.  If you have had trouble in the past, if you wouldn’t mind attempting a comment on this post, and seeing if it goes through, I sure would appreciate it! (That was my best Gomer Pyle.)  If you still have trouble, please email me at Stephanie at afewbeadsshort .com.

(For any techies out there, the comment problem was apparently related to the Jet Pack plug in. I wasn’t using it, so I just de-installed it.)

Speaking of Gomer Pyle, a little teaser about my book… two scenes are set at the Mayberry Café in good ol’ Danville, Indiana.  Hmmmmm…. now, what would my young heroine be doing at a restaurant in a podunk town in Indiana?

Don Knotts Jim Nabors Andy Griffith Show 1964

The Realities of Writing

Like most wanna be authors, I went into this whole idea of writing a book – and getting it published – with a sweet naiveté akin to a toddler approaching a pit bull that was trained by a backwoods psychopath.

Pit Bull with baby 1892

All it takes is a great story, well written, with likeable characters and some good imagery, right?  A wonderfully intelligent and inspired publisher will pick it up and – voila! – I’ll have myself a contract, with plans for publishing the whole series.

Oh, how wrong I was.  There’s so much more to it.  First there’s the editing process, which I am beginning to realize could go on for years.  Every time I reread a passage, I want to write it a little bit differently.  And, as I’ve received reviews from a few friends (which, fortunately, were generally very promising), I recognize still more passages that need improvement.

Then there’s the question: to agent, or not to agent?  I was blithely on the path toward submitting to publishers without an agent, but then a talk with my friend Kyra Jacobs made me doubt the wisdom in this.  So, I’m now in the early stages of researching and querying agents.

Another thing to consider:  Publishers want an author who already has a national platform.  My blog gets an average of 375 hits a day, about 80% of which might actually be people.  Honestly, I can’t imagine who these 300 people are.

Hello? lo…lo….lo…

Hello? lo…lo…lo…

Did you hear the echo?  Try it yourself.  I swear there’s an echo.

Seriously.  Sometimes I don’t think anyone’s really out there.  I’m convinced that I have five friends who read the blog, but perhaps a publisher can be convinced otherwise?

Honestly, though, when I looked at my numbers today and compared them to those from a year ago, I realized that my traffic has actually increased by about 2.5 times.  Do I have the national platform publishers want?  I’m not sure.  But, I’ll celebrate the growth, and thank the readers who are out there for their ongoing support. (Now, would you please, please, pretty please add a comment, so I know you’re really out there?  I swear I hear crickets chirping.)

Regardless, I need to continue to grow this platform, so now I’m researching how to increase blog readership.

Then, there’s the fact that my hubby isn’t a big fan of my “work” that has yet to bring in any real money, so I also need to make a better effort to monetize the site.  How to do that?  (Note the new Google ad.  My old blog was still somehow drawing in a few pennies a month from a Google ad, even though I haven’t posted to it in a year and a half, so I figured I’d better throw one on this site as well.)

Then there’s the fact that I need to get out and network with other writers, to share in the joys and sorrows of this biz, learn from them, and hope that – maybe – they can even learn a little something from me.  I think I’ll enjoy this aspect of author life, but for now I’m just struggling to figure out where, how, when, and with whom I should do it.

So, that’s the reality of writing.  It’s one tenth creative art and nine tenths research, marketing and administration.  The creative art fills me up to overflowing, makes me feel that I am fulfilling my purpose in life, and using my God-given talents for His glory.  The research, marketing, and admin part sucks me dry, uses up what little spare time I possess, and leaves me feeling that I’m peddling and peddling but my tires are bare and I’m going up the road to Mt. Evans.

Don’t worry, I’m keeping the faith.  I believe this is God’s work, and He will provide everything I need.  Nonetheless, I ask for your prayers, encouragement, and any advice you may have to give!

P.S. Thanks to my friend, author Kyra Jacobs, who has very generously shared her time and knowledge with me. If you enjoy a good romantic suspense novel, grab a copy of her book, Armed With Steele!  The cover may seem a little steamy for my readers, but I promise it’s quite tame by romance standards!  :)  And as an added bonus, it’s set in my hometown of Ft. Wayne, IN!
And, yes, that’s an affiliate link. Monetize, right?

 

 

 

 

 

7 Quick Takes, Lying on my back with my head in a cabinet

— 1 —

One more day till spring break.  One kid has a fever, and two are complaining that their stomachs hurt.  This does not bode well for our “vacation”.  Not that we’re going anywhere, but I’d like to do something other than nurse sick kids all week.  Please pray that the amazing Lear immune system kicks in and everyone gets/stays healthy.

— 2 —

The Dude unknowingly paid me a lovely compliment recently.  In sharing with me how he would describe me to a priest that he was looking forward to meeting, he said, “You might know my mom.  She’s kind of tall [what?!], with brown hair, green eyes… and she’s freakishly Christian.”  I said, “Dude, did you just describe me as freakishly Christian?” to which he replied, “Yeah, mom.  You’re like Jimmy John’s.  They’re freakishly fast.  You’re freakishly Christian.”

A mom could be a lot of “freakish” things to her ten year old son.  Freakishly Christian?  OK.  I’ll take it.

— 3 —

Now, this might lead some of you to wonder as to the spiritual life of my dear son. I’m trying, folks.  ‘Nuff said.

— 4 —

My Catholic birthday was Wednesday!  I had great fun telling Bonita that I’m only one year older than her… in the faith that is.  Boo and I usually attend Mass on Wednesdays because that’s when the big kids go with school.  It wasn’t easy getting there this week, but we made it, although we arrived a few minutes late.  I’m so glad we did.  There was something incredibly special about receiving the Eucharist, reflecting on the fact that it was nine years ago to the day that I first received this precious gift, and feeling incredibly grateful for having been called into the Church.  I guess I’ve never knowingly attended Mass on my Catholic birthday before, but you’d better believe I’ll never miss it again.

— 5 —

The same day happens to be my patron saint’s feast day.  My RCIA class was never encouraged to choose a patron saint, so I found mine a few years later, when I was struggling in my Arbonne business and seeking support.  I Googled “patron saint for business women” and discovered St. Margaret Clitherow.  At the time, the similarities between my life seemed quite remarkable – and, no, not because of the second sentence of the link referenced above. :)  She was a convert, whose husband did not convert in her lifetime (Ray at this time showed no signs of conversion).  She had three children, two boys and a girl, as did I at the time.  And she was a business woman, helping her husband in his business.  In addition to these similarities, I hoped that, if ever I were presented with persecution such as she underwent, I would respond in the same manner.  And thus, I took St. Margaret Clitherow as my patron saint.  It wasn’t until later that I realized her feast day and my Catholic birthday were one and the same.  The actual day of her death – March 25th – also happens to be a notable day in our family; the day Bear finally came home from the NICU.

margaretclitherowright

 

— 6 —

With the housing market going crazy, and our neighbors having sold their house four days after they put in on the market, we are in a frenzy to get the house ready for sale.  For the first time in my life, I painted a room all by myself.  And I put up the new shower curtain rod and towel hooks.  OK, OK, this may seem silly to you do-it-yourselfers out there, but this was a major accomplishment for me.  It left me feeling empowered that, just because I’m a woman with four kids, doesn’t mean I can’t tackle a project and get ‘er done.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture before the kids made their usual mess in the bathroom and Boo screwed up the aesthetic anyways by peeing on her white towel so now a pink one is hanging in her place.  Maybe next week I’ll get that picture up for you. ;)

— 7 —

Since I don’t have the aforementioned pic, I’ll grace you with another, less flattering one.  In fact, this may be one of the most unflattering pictures ever taken of me.  OK, probably not, especially since the illusion of a possible six pack under the IU shirt does exist (trust me, it’s only an illusion).  Since my dear husband posted it all over Facebook, I might as well share it here as well.  Take note of the absolute glee with which I appear to do plumbing work, with a huge smile and arms uplifted as if to say, “GOOOOOOO, Pipes!”.  It’s like I’m the plumbing cheerleader or something.  Instead of pompoms, I hold a wrench, and in lieu of a cute little cheer costume, I don elegant safety goggles.  I don’t jump up and down and do acrobatics, though.  My work is done lying on my back (People! That is not where I was going!) with my head stuck in a cabinet.

From there we could go off on all sorts of tangents, so I’d best end this post.  Thanks for reading, and please leave a comment so I know you stopped by!

fixing the sink cropped

 

 

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Don’t Read This Post if You Don’t Need a Miracle

I’m seriously nearly giddy that it’s March 24th.  Because tomorrow is March 25th.  And you know what March 25th is, right?

THE FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION!

OK, OK, I do get moderately excited about any Marian feast, but I’m especially excited because I finally get to start praying the Impossible Novena again.

What’s the Impossible Novena, you ask?  Well, I learned about it a year ago from my friend Katie over at Noise in the Neighborhood.  In fact, she beat me to the punch and posted about it again earlier this evening.

Here’s the 4-1-1:  It’s a nine month novena.

Yes, you heard me.  Not nine days.  Not nine weeks.  Nine months.  ‘Cause that’s how long it took for baby Jesus to be born, ya dig?

And since His birth was miraculous, and there are three Persons in the Trinity, you choose three big, seemingly impossible, miracles for which you would like to pray.

Of the three miracles for which I prayed last year, two of them were answered in a tangible way.  The third was difficult to quantify, but I do believe that it was answered as well.

But the most amazing part – to me – of praying this novena was the extreme graces that I received – which I was not requesting, but I was oh-so-happy to accept.  I truly believe that it was because of the Impossible Novena that I became a regular adorer, which led to my consecration to Jesus through Mary, which created a domino effect of personal growth in this still sadly far-too-many-beads-short soul.

So, you start on the Feast of the Annunciation, and end Christmas day.  However, contrary to what you might think, it was never a chore to pray this, but rather something that I looked forward to every day.  I have a terrible habit of putting my novena prayers off until just before bed, which leads to many missed days, but with this prayer, over the course of nine months, I missed only a small handful of days.

I was sad when Christmas came and the novena was over.  I even thought of just continuing on with it, but realized that sometimes yearning for good can be a very healthy experience.

And so I’ve been yearning for this prayer for three long months.  And tomorrow, I get to pray it again.

Will you join me?

The text of the novena can be found here.

Carl Heinrich Bloch - The Annunciation

The Annunciation by Carl Heinrich Bloch
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

 

And while we’re here, allow me to throw out what a ”coincidence” it is that the Hobby Lobby trial for Religious Freedom is occurring on this particular feast.  Ha!  Please join me in prayer and fasting!

 

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes… with SUBSTANCE!

It’s been an introspective week for me, so I’m going to do something I haven’t done in a few weeks: offer a little SUBSTANCE in my quick takes!

— 1 —

First, though, I have to share a special moment of happiness with you.  As I was sitting here, waiting (somewhat) patiently for my very slow computer to process, I watched two salesmen approach my front door.  And then I watched them walk away.  Pure joy.  Created by a simple “no soliciting” sign.

— 2 —

The other day, an acquaintance accidentally told me something about another acquaintance which I had been blissfully unaware of, but which is apparently common knowledge.  If I were saintly and immune to the pull of gossip, I might have said, “Wow, that’s awful.  Please don’t tell me anything more.  I’ll pray for them.”  However, being human – and me - I said, “Well, you might as well tell me because I could just Google it anyways.”  And I learned information that no one really needs to know about another person.  Terrible, awful, horrid information.  Leave you feeling sick for the rest of the day information.  As I prayed the Rosary that night, and the nasty information intruded upon my meditation, I was reminded of a thought I often have when considering the crown of thorns.  The hands that wove that crown must have been as badly battered by the thorns as was the head upon which it was placed.  Perhaps even more so.  And that’s what gossip does to us.  Not only does the thorny crown of gossip injure the person of whom we speak, it also injures the person who weaves it in the first place.

— 3 —

Lots of thoughts have come out of my Rosaries this week, and here’s another one.  While we know that the news of Christ’s conception is among the most joyous in all of history (second only to the Resurrection), the moment that Mary heard those words, she is sure to have experienced a wide array of emotions.  She was faced with the possibility of being an unwed mother, in a world that believed such a woman should be stoned to death.  Certainly, while she must have felt great joy at the news, she must also have experienced fear, worry, embarrassment, and more.  For, while she was conceived without sin, and remained sinless, she was, nonetheless, human, and those are innately human emotions.  So, what did Mary do in this time of what many would have called “trouble”?  Well, first, obviously, she gave herself over completely to God… “I am the handmaid of the Lord.”  and then, instead of wallowing in fear and worry like most of us would do, she walked four days to go to her cousin Elizabeth, spread the joy of Christ’s coming (and John’s too!) and serve her elderly cousin.  Indeed, one might say that when life gave Mary lemons (ok, we know it wasn’t lemons, but bear with me here), Mary didn’t just make lemonade.  She made lemonade, and walked for miles upon miles to bring lemonade to a person in need.  And so should we.

— 4 —

This afternoon found me throwing the ball with Dude, and wondering: how on earth does a woman who has a rampant fear of flying spherical objects wind up with a mitt on one hand and a ball smacking into it, as her son coaches her on throwing techniques and catching angles?  But that’s what we moms do, isn’t it?  We overcome fears, embarrassments, and insecurities to do what makes our kids happy.  And we discover that maybe, just maybe, we can have a little fun in the process.

— 5 —

I received a new book this week that I’m pretty thrilled with.  Easter Bunny’s Amazing Day tells the story of how a scared little bunny became the Easter Bunny through an encounter in a cave with a very special man.  What a fantastic way to finally make some Christian sense of an otherwise non-sensical character, and remind our children of the real reason for Easter.  I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the little hopper, and this book has tipped the scales much more heavily towards love.
(This is an affiliate link.  Thanks for your support!)

— 6 —

I’ve gotten out of the habit of praying Evening Prayer lately, but last night felt strongly led to do so.  I knew immediately that the Spirit was at work.  The Psalm was Psalm 16 and the words “You are my God.  My happiness lies in you alone” resonated strongly with me.  No human can give us happiness.  And no human can make us unhappy.  If our trust, love and hope lie in God; if our very beings are centered entirely around Him, than we can have happiness, no matter the trials we may be facing in the world.

“The lot marked out for me is my delight”…  We all have crosses to bear, but we are meant to find joy in their weight, knowing that we become more like Christ in doing so.

“And so my heart rejoices, my soul is glad; even my body shall rest in safety.  For you will not leave my soul among the dead, nor let your beloved know decay.”

— 7 —

Finally, when I meditate on Christ Carrying the Cross, and I think of Simon the Cyrene, I often think of how I can be a “Simon” to others, and help a friend or neighbor to bear their cross.  This week, it struck me that I have a few of my own Simons, and I am eternally grateful to them.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes – Inertia, Greasy Hair, Dirty Toilets, and Little Substance

— 1 —

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I probably shouldn’t be writing this post.  I haven’t cleaned my toilets for going on two weeks.  The vacuum cleaner is sitting out in the living room, having been dragged out of the closet on Monday, swept one to two rooms each day, but never actually finished the task.  Boo is being entertained by the Kindle.  I haven’t washed my hair since Monday and haven’t even brushed my teeth yet this morning.  So, I’m gonna make this quick.

— 2 —

The problem is this:  Blogging is like any other activity.  The laws of physics apply.  A body at motion tends to stay in motion, and a body at rest tends to stay at rest.  When I go for a long period of time without blogging, it only gets harder to put my fingers back to the keys.  Kind of like when you haven’t talked to a friend in a long time.  Sometimes it’s hard to know what to talk about, because when you haven’t talked for months, what’s actually important enough to bring up first?  And you draw a blank.  Blogging’s the same, and I haven’t blogged for two weeks now.

— 3 —

So I know I have to blog, or it may be another two weeks.  Not that this would be a huge blight upon the world, but I am happier and more fulfilled when I blog regularly, so it would be a blight upon me.  My “cop out” is to write a 7QT post, which I can totally cheat on and write about almost nothing.  As you can see I’m doing here.

— 4 —

But now I’ve run out of totally insubstantial stuff to blather away about, so I’d better get to some substance.  Did I mention that I haven’t washed my hair since Monday?  Ewwww.  Don’t worry.  I have showered every day.  Except today, but I’m getting there.  Just as soon as I finish this blog post.

— 5 —

Did I ever tell you about the time my mom attempted to teach me and my sister about the birds and the bees?  Oh, sorry.  That’s really a blog post of it’s own.  I’ll write that later.  It’s hilarious, with all respect, love, and honor to my blushing mother.

— 6 —

Ok, substance.  Substance. Substance.  Oh, I know!  My goat cheese ball recipe!  I’ve been meaning to put this on the blog for ages.  Here goes:

Steph’s Semi-Famous Goat Cheese Ball

6 oz goat cheese (aka God’s gift to mankind)
1-2 cloves of crushed garlic to taste (garlic being God’s gift to goat cheese)
Generous pinch of freshly crushed rosemary
Sea salt to taste

 

Combine ingredients in a bowl and form into a ball
Roll in crushed pecans if you’ve got ‘em.
Serve with Triscuits (or Aldi’s knockoff, which are just as good, for a fraction of the cost) and apples, thinly sliced.  Yes, I said apples.  Just try it.  It’s amazing.

 

— 7 —

I’ll end with a few pictures.  Bonita decided last week that she was tired of struggling to brush her hair.  Thursday afternoon, she informed me that I was perfectly capable of cutting it.  Even being as frugal as I am, I, nonetheless, attempted to encourage her to allow a professional to do it.  She insisted, saying, “It’s just hair.  It’ll grow back.”  I admire that attitude, and thus decided to give it a go.  I cut off a good six inches, probably more, and it took quite a long time, since I kept realizing that I had cut too much off the left, so I needed to cut more off the right.  Then, I cut too much off the right, and needed to cut more off the left, and so on and so forth.  You get the picture. Ultimately, I think the results were surprisingly-not-in-desperate-need-of-a-trip-to-the-salon-to-fix-my-mistakes.

20140307-100120.jpg 20140307-100104.jpg

And here’s my beautiful girl, ready for her First Communion pictures:

20140307-100145.jpg

 

Thanks for putting up with my blathering, and supporting my effort to get this blogging body back into motion!

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

 

 

Seven Quick Takes – Parental Ineptitude, Siri Love, and Wow

— 1 —

 I frequently have an overinflated sense of my own parenting skills and thus, in my delusional state, I may attempt to offer you advice on how to get your children to sleep through the night.  In a rare moment of sanity, I’m telling you: Never, ever, ever take advice from me regarding your children and sleeping, as I have failed miserably in this arena with my own children.  Last night, three – yes, I said three – of my children slept on the floor. I’d like to tell you that this can be attributed to the storms that were passing through the area, but I’d be lying. Fact of the matter is, on most nights I’m lucky to have two of my kids kids make it through the night sleeping in their own beds.  The Dude starts most nights on the hallway floor, then creeps silently into our room once we’re in bed.  He’s been doing this for years (like, seven) and his siblings are following his example.  Bonita’s the only one that I can be reasonably sure will stay in her own bed all night.  It’s really annoying, but has glimmers of cuteness here and there, like this:

Dude and Boo sleeping

I’m quite certain that this stems from some neurosis we’ve caused in our eldest child, but, looking back, I have made so many mistakes that I can’t pinpoint which one it might actually be.

— 2 —

While we’re discussing my ineptitudes as a parent, I’ll share with you that I was seriously beginning to question my qualifications as a parent when, for days and days on end, we had at least two, sometimes three, and – yes - occasionally four children throwing fits.  Boo had a couple of weeks where she was throwing three or four per day.  I promise you she never gets what she wants, but somehow they still persist.  Add to that the fact that the Dude has a hard time coping with emotions and winds up going on rampages on a relatively regular basis, and poor Bonita and Bear decided, “If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!”  Life at our house is truly joy.

— 3 —

When I mentioned “parental ineptitude” in the title, you probably thought I was going to tell a story about Walmart, didn’t you?

— 4 —

Ok, seriously.  We’re not all bad.  For instance, when Boo got a hold of my phone during Mass, and opened a noisy app, that app happened to be Rosary Audio.  If you’re going to disrupt Mass, do it with the Rosary, right?

And several of the fits that Bear has thrown in the past few weeks were because I was praying a decade with one of his siblings, and he wanted me to pray with him first.

I must be doing something right, right?

Right?

— 5 —

On a happier note, Boo broke my old phone, which was an iPhone 4. I was able to replace it with a 4S for a dollar, and guess what the 4S has that the 4 does not?  Siri.

Yes, Siri.  I’m in love with her.  But don’t worry, not in the same sex marriage kind of way.  I’m already married, after all.  No, I love her in the, “finally, here’s someone who gets me” kind of way.  She listens to me.  She responds when I have a question or ask her to do something.  She’s polite and respectful, and always attentive to my needs.

And get this.  She even writes my blog posts for me.  Last night, I dictated much of this post directly into my WordPress app, and voila!  I had the beginnings of a post!  OK, so she called Bonita “Anita” and Boo “Bill.”  She translated “my ineptitudes” as “Mayan aptitudes” and “innuendos” as “and you windows”.  But, hey.  Perhaps my ineptitudes were great aptitudes for the Mayans.  I’ll have to look into that.  And those innuendos that I didn’t end up writing about?  Well, they sure did have me thinking about throwing myself – or someone else – out of windows.  I think she’s on to something.

— 6 —

Getting back to happier notes, a favorite Rosary thought for the week:  This one isn’t deeply spiritual, but, you know how Pontius Pilate’s wife told him to have nothing to do with Jesus?  How different do you think the world would be if husbands would only listen to their wives?

— 7 —

And another happier note:  Have you ever sat down and prayed a fifteen decade rosary, straight through?  I did it last night for the first time, with the added bonus of being before the Blessed Sacrament.  Wow.

Wow.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Surrender for My Valentine

Surrender and Valentine’s Day?,  some might ask, incredulously.  Seriously?

Well, surrender is a funny thing.

Were I to surrender myself to the wrong thing, say sexuality, or drugs or alcohol, or the false gods of materialism and wealth, it would consume me totally. Ultimately, it would change the person I am, change my goals, change my loves, change my relationships.  It would become difficult for me to maintain relationships on more than a superficial level.

In some ways, I suppose, surrender to God is similar.  Surrender to the Lord changes me.  It changes the person I am, changes my goals, my loves, and my relationships.  Yet, our surrender to the Lord will never consume us, not in the “All used up and good for nothing else way.”  It’s an amazing thing.  Rather than being consumed – used up –  we are given more.

In fact, it is only through our total giving of ourselves to the Lord that we can totally selflessly give to others.

I’ve witnessed this first hand in these past few weeks, as my husband has grieved the tragic loss of his best friend.  I knew he needed time to grieve.  I knew that, in his grief, he needed loving arms to come home to, and caring ears to listen.  He needed the security of knowing that I was there, no matter what.

For the first few days, I was completely immersed in prayer, knowing that I could not possibly give him everything he needed without much needed support.  And, for those first few days, I must say, I was pretty spot-on.

But then I began to slip a bit.  Quite frankly, that whole self-donation thing isn’t easy, especially when the person that you’re giving, and giving, and giving to is in no shape to give anything back.  And my husband wasn’t.  In that first week, all he could do was take, and take some more, and then a bit more.  And that got hard.

We had received the news Saturday afternoon, and already, by the time I was in adoration early Tuesday, I was begging Jesus to help me overcome the anger and resentment that I was beginning to feel.  I was disappointed in myself, but I knew that I never could have gotten through the previous three days without clinging to Christ, and that I would never get through the days and weeks to come without continuing to do so, humbly aware of my own inadequacies.

And that’s when it hit me: Surrender.  I had already taken it for my “One Word 2014″ two weeks prior.  At the time, I didn’t know how soon it would come into play in my life, or that my surrender would be so important to others around me.

That morning in adoration, I realized that, only by my total surrender to Christ, could I give my husband the support he needed.  Only by giving myself utterly and totally – every shred, every desire, every need- over to Christ, could I allow Him to use me as His servant in support of His precious son, Ray.  Only then could I be the hands and feet of Christ – His loving arms, His caring words, His supportive presence.

Our God is pretty awesome, isn’t He?  He’s a jealous God (Ex 34:14; Deut 6:15; et al), yet His jealousy is not like that of humans.  He doesn’t attempt to keep us for Himself, like a jealous husband or boyfriend.  Instead,  when we give ourselves to Him, He essentially multiplies us, making us more for others, and giving us back to those around us in a fullness that we can never achieve on our own.

Love and marriage are all about self-donation.  And self-donation is hard.  But we can do it, when we are surrendered to Christ.

Last Saint Valentine’s Day, I was Meek but not Milquetoast.   This Saint Valentine’s Day, I’m Surrendering to the Lord.  Perhaps not the box of chocolates or lacy lingerie that my Valentine had in mind, but I think it will serve us well in the end.

And maybe I’ll throw in some chocolate and lace just to keep him happy tomorrow as well. :)

Belgium Chocolates

 

7 Quick Takes – Cooking Parties, Fits with Ducks, and a Eucharistic Miracle

— 1 —

So, I’m going to my first ever cooking party tonight. Somehow, I didn’t really think about the invitation’s mention of groceries until this morning, and I missed the Facebook update where the long list of groceries was posted (envision a king’s squire, opening up a scroll, and the paper rolling, rolling, rolling across the floor). I also missed the post listing the prep work required prior to the party. It’s all totally logical – I should have realized that I would need a gob of groceries, and that I would need to do some prep work, and I should have planned ahead… but we’re talking about me here. So I didn’t. I was already planning to hit Aldi this morning, but many of these things Aldi won’t have. I have a lunch date with a girlfriend (researching a location I used in my book but have never actually visited), but I think I can hit Kroger after lunch, grab the kids, fulfill my promises to shop for new shoes and to take them to DQ (’cause I forgot to turn in their money to get DQ at school today), then get home, chop some food, boil some pasta, dry and crumble tofu, cook quinoa, divide all this stuff up according to instructions, make dinner, enjoy a lovely, peaceful and relaxing family meal, and be at my friend’s house at seven, right? While I’m at it, perhaps I’ll aim for cleaning out the oven, giving the kids baths, and doing three loads of laundry too!

— 2 —

I’ve mentioned before that we got a Kindle Fire for Christmas. As I was setting up the children’s profiles on FreeTime, I thought, “Geez, if I’m not careful, I could pretty much let this thing do all my parenting for me.” It will read to the kids, they can play educational (and not-so-educational) games, watch videos… Basically, enough stuff to keep a kid busy for hours on end. Guess what? I haven’t been careful. Boo is totally addicted, and when I suggest, “Oh, honey, let’s play Chutes and Ladders!” or “How about Mommy reads a few books to you?” she adamantly says, “No! I want to pway on da Kindle Fiwuh.” At which time I think about the blog post I’ve been wanting to write, the toilets I need to clean, laundry that needs folded, and edits that need to be finished on my book. And I say, “Well, OK, honey, but just for a little bit.” Two hours later, I feed her lunch and put her down for a nap.

— 3 —

Speaking of book editing, I’m done! It’s now in the hands of a friend and published author who is going to give it a critical review before I submit it to publishers. I’m antsy to get it sent out, and tempted to jump the gun, but I think patience is probably a good exercise in this instance! I enjoyed reading it as I was editing, and even got chills a few times, so I’m hoping that’s a good sign.

— 4 —

It’s so much fun to see the Spirit at work in my writing. As I read the book, I literally ran into a few passages where I thought, “Holy #@$%. That’s really beautiful. I didn’t write that!” And I did, but I didn’t. Those were the moments where I prayed before, during, and after I wrote, and allowed myself to be open to the Spirit. Those words would never have come from my fingertips without some heavenly help. Writers often speak of their muses. I’m thrilled to say that my muse is entirely the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I get to writing, and forget my muse, and my work’s not that great. But on those days where I rely on Him…

— 5 —

On Tuesday, the kids were off school, and I had to wonder, “Does every mom experience this?” Boo threw an hour long fit over her desire to have me help her use the potty, screaming, jumping up and down, and even punching, pinching, and biting me (she only got my clothing). I had decided to put my foot down because she’s been potty trained for a year and a half and her insistence on me doing everything, including lifting the lid of the toilet, is getting a little ridiculous. While she was screaming, kicking, and hitting, Bonita and her sweet friend came up with an adorable craft idea, made themselves into ducks, and stood at the bathroom door, flapping their wings, waddling, and quacking LOUDLY, so as to be heard over Boo’s fit. The Dude was vacillating between his instinct to yell at Boo for her behavior and his desire to handle the situation peacefully, as he saw Mommy doing (I was singing “Peace is flowing like a River…” to keep myself peaceful while encouraging her to just pee her pants. Yes, it really got to that point!) Bear was trying to get shoes and coat on to leave for a play date. In a word, it was CHAOS. Please tell me other mommies experience this?

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— 6 —

Loved this post from Fr. John Hollowell, especially since the Homily to which he refers is the homily that he gave at Boo’s baptism. Surrounded by my wonderful Protestant family, I was so grateful for them to have an opportunity to hear why reception of the Eucharist is limited to Catholics.

Click here to see Fr. Hollowell’s post: Most Controversial Homily?

— 7 —

 

Speaking of the Eucharist, have you heard about the Eucharistic Miracle that occurred in Argentina, when Pope Francis was Auxiliary Bishop there? I love the fact that science, which leads to so many people questioning the presence of God, has, in this case, been used to provide incontrovertible proof that, not only does God exist, miracles do happen, and Christ, is indeed truly present in the Eucharist!

Click here to read an article on the miracle, which converted the atheist doctor who helped investigate it.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

 

Surrender: A New One Word

Tuesday three weeks ago, we were snowed in and the adoration chapel was closed, leaving me to do my Tuesday scripture and prayer time in the cozy chair in the loft.  Seemingly on a whim, I decided to switch things up.  Rather than reading the daily Mass readings, and perhaps Morning Prayer from the Divine Office, I decided to read the Office of Readings.

It wasn’t long before I realized that this wasn’t just me randomly deciding to do things a bit differently.  This was a prompting by the Holy Spirit to read words that I needed to read.

The first antiphon:

“Surrender to God, and he will do everything for you.”

Surrender.

That word stood out like a beacon to me.  I let it play over and over again in my head, and with each iteration, I felt an overwhelming peace and calm.

Surrender.

Once I finally moved on from the antiphon, Psalm 37 spoke volumes to me.

“If you trust in the Lord and do good,
then you will live in the land and be secure.
If you find your delight in the Lord,
he will grant you your heart’s desire.”

 

“Trust in the Lord.”  Surrender myself to him.  Surrender my need for control.  Surrender my need for things to go my way, how I think they ought to go.  Surrender my desire to be pleasing to the world.

Surrender.

Really, the list of things I need to surrender is endless, because I need to surrender it all to Him.

“Commit your life to the Lord,
trust in him and he will act,
so that your justice breaks forth like the light,
your cause like the noon-day sun.”

Surrender.

For so long, I’ve prayed, “Lord, make me yours.  Let me die to myself and live only for you.”

Surrender.  I must, in order to allow God to answer that prayer.

In that time, Tuesday morning three weeks ago, I knew that I had my One Word for 2014 wrong.

Not that intention is a bad One Word, it’s just not the One Word for me this year.

I’m actually going to keep it as a secondary word, which is totally against the whole concept of One Word, but I like to break the rules.  I do believe that I am being called to intention as well, since living with intention will be instrumental in my surrender.

Surrender took on a new meaning last week, as we mourned the loss of our friend and I strove to have the grace to be a constant loving and supportive presence for Ray as he grieved.  That’s a post for another day, but suffice to say that intention would not have helped me through that in any meaningful way.

SURRENDER. 

Three weeks in, my new “One Word” has been an unimaginable blessing, and has already brought me to new heights in my relationship with Christ. 

“Surrender yourself to God, and he will do everything for you.”

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Take, O Lord, and receive
my entire liberty, my memory, my understanding and my whole will.
All that I am and all that I possess You have given me:
I surrender it all to You to be disposed of according to Your will.
Give me only Your love and Your grace;
with these I will be rich enough, and will desire nothing more. Amen.

-Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola

(Thanks, Maria, for sharing that prayer.  Love it!)