Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A Cake for Saint Benedict's Day

Since having our own Benedict, I've been trying to think up some ideas for celebrating the great saint's feast day in our home with some special food. Eggs Benedict was obvious, of course, but I'm 99% certain my kids wouldn't actually enjoy that or consider it a treat! I ended up making a simple cookie cake and decorating it a la the Saint Benedict medal using some leftover frosting sitting handily in the fridge. (Frosting lasts forever, you guys. I think it was from Ben's birthday like two months ago?) I used this recipe. (Note to self: next time cook for just 2 minutes less.) It wasn't my best piping job by far but the feast day boy loved it. We spent some time before eating it going over the symbolism that covers both front and back of the actual medal. It's so powerful! I used to have a St. Benedict crucifix that I wore every day around my neck but it broke several years ago and I replaced it with the JPII papal crucifix. I think I might need to add a simple Saint Benedict medal to the chain, though. One of these days I'll have to get to reading The Rule of Saint Benedict as well!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

A Smithy-Style Birthday for a Junior Blacksmith

Our oldest turned thirteen this past week! The kid kind of amazes me. His latest obsession is blacksmithing. After learning how to build a backyard mini forge, he got all the materials and we let him set it up on our property. He'd love to apprentice somewhere and learn traditional smithing so we'll have to see if the opportunity opens up somewhere for him. He spends hours a day making his own charcoal in the way back yard to use in the forge. So far, his wares are mostly arrowheads but he also made me a rustic little hook for the house! I love it. He so proudly presented it to me one day in the kitchen and promised me some more. He was in his glory when we had people over for his birthday and he could share this little passion with them. After explaining how he does it all (to a very patient audience), he then demonstrated how he forges an arrowhead. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The Day Before Teenager

The doctor put you in my arms and I became a different person. At least, that’s how it felt. With your wet warm squirmy body on my chest, the deepest part of me became forever changed. I had really no idea what I was doing and yet I knew to the depths of my soul that I was the one to do it. You made me a mother and gave me a mission beyond anything I had before and for that I will be eternally grateful.

Tomorrow you’re a teenager. That’s supposed to be something dramatic. I’m told I’m supposed to fear it, to dread who you will become. But…I don’t. Not even a little bit. Maybe I'll regret saying that, I don’t know. But I know you’ll still be you and that isn’t going to suddenly change. There are those profound moments in our lives that do change us but rarely is it a birthday. You will still be you and I will still be your mom. Right now I’m just so excited to see and know the boy you are and the man you are becoming. Honestly? I just feel so completely privileged to watch God work in you because He is making someone amazing.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Seven Quick Takes :: June 2017

How about I break the blogging lull with some slightly mediocre quick takes?

1. First of all, THANK YOU! Thank you, thank you, thank you. The response to my book news was overwhelming and I'm so grateful for your support. My editor is working on the first read through and we will begin the editing process soon. I know the analogy is probably tired but it really is so true that writing a book is SO much like having a baby, probably a million times more so when the book is actually about having a baby! Finishing the manuscript was like that moment when the baby is born and you are DONE and you feel like you have nothing left inside of you...except you're not really done yet. You still have more work to do to finish the birth. I'm in the rest now of having gotten the huge part out of the way but knowing that there's still more to be done, even if it feels like I have nothing left in me to give. I'll do it anyway because that's what has to be done. And really, I do want to do it because I truly want this to be the absolute best it can be. So a few more pushes are in store ;)

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

That Thing I Was Never Going to Do (A crazy, exciting, slightly terrifying announcement!)

How’s that for a teaser?

First, happy feast of the Visitation! It's one of my favorite little feast days of the year and it's the perfectly appropriate day for the news that I’ve been waiting and waiting to share here. (And no, I’m not pregnant though it does kind of feel extremely similar sometimes!)

For about a year now I’ve been working on something – something I never ever thought I’d do or was even capable of doing. It’s a project that I’ve thought for years someone needed to do but it sure as heck wasn’t going to be me. I didn't think I was qualified and I definitely didn’t have the time. And then someone else put it realistically in front of me and asked me to do it. After a lot of discernment and “well, I guess it wouldn’t hurt to just try to see if it’s possible,” you guys, all through Him, I did it.

I wrote a book. 

And someone wants to PUBLISH it.

Slowly and steadily every Saturday morning, I’ve slipped away from the house for a few hours at the crack of dawn to write my passion. Every Saturday morning before writing I sat before Him in Adoration giving the time to Him and asking that it be used however He wanted. I told Him over and over that if He wanted this done He was going to have to be the one to do it and make it abundantly clear to me that it was His will. And then I would spend the next hours writing and researching and writing some more. It was crazy. It’s been probably the hardest thing intellectually that I have ever done but at the same time He so clearly blessed that time. There’s no way I could have done it otherwise.

Sooo, what's it about? In short, it's a Catholic book on - what else? - birth. It will explain why birth matters so much to us as women and even as Catholics and how our own personal births can be infused with our Faith, from the way we prepare, to the choices we make, to the way we live out our own feminine genius in our unique birth experience. It's a book on birth that talks about women as whole persons - body, mind, heart, and soul. It’s meant to help women see how God wants to work in their birth no matter what kind of birth He calls them to have. It’s not a “Catholics must birth this way” book. While I think it will be especially helpful for first time mothers, my hope is that it will help every mother, whether this is her first or twelfth baby, respond to the invitation that God wants to work in and through her birth in her own unique circumstances. Included are stories and experiences throughout from dozens of real life women (many of whom you might recognize!) sharing from their personal experience of birth.

Several months ago after a proposal process and approval, I signed my name on a contract and got a legit fancy book deal. Our Sunday Visitor, the largest English Catholic publishing company in the world, loved what I had submitted and they want to publish it. What?!? I am now working with them to finish the book that’s been stirring in my head and heart for almost a decade. It’s slated to be released in early spring of 2018 which feels really far away right now but I'm told it's pretty standard timing. 

The great thing is that it’s already mostly done. While some people are totally confident getting a contract and sharing that they are working on a huge project right from the beginning, that is not at all me! I work way better without the pressure of people knowing about it and I needed the freedom to be able to see if I could even do it before sharing with people. In fact, almost no one but my husband knew I was working on it for nearly a year. A few weeks ago I submitted my whole complete manuscript to my editor and very soon we will begin the editing process. I anticipate that it’s going to be fairly tedious and very challenging but if God’s shown me anything through all of this it’s to trust that if it’s His will, He will be there every step of the way and give me the grace to do the work. 

I would absolutely love love love your prayers and support on this project. It’s in so many ways overwhelming, intimidating, and there are moments I lie awake at night wondering if I’m absolutely insane to be doing this. It still all feels surreal and it's kind of terrifying putting myself out there like this. I mean, it's one thing to tap away on my little blog but it's a whole other world to publish a legit book, especially one on a topic like this! But I know if it’s His will, and He’s been so good to me showing me that it is, that it will happen despite my fears and shortcomings. It's a huge invitation for me to step out of the boat and onto the water. Please pray that it is everything He wants it to be. That's truly all I want. Thank you so much to those of you who have been reading with me here for so many years. I’m so grateful and excited to share this news with you and hope that I can count on your support and prayers in this crazy new journey...I'm going to need them!

(You know you've picked a great publisher when this is the first thing at the top of the new author packet. I have been so incredibly impressed with every interaction and communication with them.)

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

My Children Aren't the Enemy to My Marriage (even when it feels like it)

After I read those words a few months ago I was simultaneously relieved and convicted. It can be a challenge indeed (and thank you to the great saint for recognizing that!) to remember that our children are the fruit and sign of our love not, as the culture, pop psychology, and sometimes even ourselves believe, a threat to it.

We know this, of course, during the beautiful moments, those moments when life is happy and seems to make sense. It’s a littler harder to believe when the sick toddler cancels the date night…when the cry of the baby again interrupts the intimate moment…when the daily grind of family life makes us extra prone to snapping at our spouse…when our cup feels empty and we’re desperately thirsty for a refill. It’s those times when it becomes more challenging and all the more necessary to believe with our thoughts and our actions that at the root of family life, it is not us against them. Our children are not the enemy...

Monday, May 29, 2017

Our Ben Turns Two?!?

Somehow or other, that baby that I was sure had been born just a few months ago actually turned TWO this week. The last few weeks were so crazy that we weren't able to really celebrate until yesterday. Thankfully, he's 2 (I hear) and doesn't really know what a birthday is or why everyone is suddenly staring at him and singing so the proper date doesn't really matter to him even when I'm feeling bad about it! 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

David's First Communion and the Story of a Little Providential Book

This past Sunday our David had the incomparable gift of making his First Holy Communion! I have pictures to remember the day but first I need to share a story, if only so that this fickle heart of mine doesn't forget how He moves.

It was just a few weeks before he was set to make his First Holy Communion and I wasn't quite sure his heart was ready. We had been doing some of the things we try to do to help our kids prepare for such a special day. Adoration time, Confession, teaching, and more. But it just didn't seem like enough and I wondered whether we were failing, whether there was more he needed. On one of those mornings around that time I needed to make a quick stop to pick something up at the Carmelite monastery nearby. I bravely ventured out with all the boys, mostly because I needed to get it done and had no choice. But also because while it definitely makes the experience at one of my favorite places a bit less meditative, I really want them to visit there once in a while and soak in the palpable grace of that place (if only for a few minutes before the toddler has had enough of this ridiculous silence business). So I brought them. We hustled inside on yet another windy, frigid, and disappointingly chilly morning like so many before it, the ones that had been progressively dulling my energy and motivation for months. 

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