If you wander over to this ol' blog often enough, you're sure to hear a thing or two about insomnia. I've got it bad, y'all. It comes, it goes, it comes back and overstays its welcome. But guess what! I've discovered the antidote! Apparently it's a good, old-fashioned Lenten fast. On the downside (and I'm not a doctor or anything, so this is just speculation on my part), I'm of the impression that fasting is probably not sustainable in the long run. And the modern world is all about sustainability. Pity. I'm telling y'all-- Wednesday night, after the hubs arrived home, I went upstairs to de-stress with a blazing hot shower and somehow autopiloted my exhausted little self right into the bed with still-wet hair. It was seven o'clock. I slept until 8:30 the next morning. My body is the weirdest of all the bodies.
The last two Lenten seasons found me either pregnant or breastfeeding, so I suppose I'm a little out of practice on the full fast. I'm not big on eating in the morning as it is, so it never really hits me until that 3 o'clock slump. When the crankiness of the kids intersects with my belly eating itself and my caffeine-deprivation headache kicking in, well... I can see why fasting is spiritual, because I started praying like nobody's business. (Only teasing... but just barely).
I enjoy Lent. Maybe enjoy is the wrong word... I deeply appreciate Lent. Perhaps because I'm a convert, and I had never experienced anything like it. Even once upon a LONG time ago when I was in elementary school and my family went to a little Methodist church up the road, I feel like Easter was just sprung on us. Suddenly we had to get up early, there was itchy lace on our dresses, and ridiculous hats with too tight elastic bands were strapped on our heads. Then it was gone again, leaving behind nothing but a ruined dress that my mom told me NOT to eat that chocolate while wearing, a mild stomachache, and a chocolate bunny sans ears.
Something about the preparation, the slowing and silencing, the contemplation... it is so DIFFERENT. My life is constantly hectic and loud. I am grateful for the reminder to put aside time for my spiritual relationship to grow. As odd as it may sound coming from one who barely sees REM (the cycle, not the band), I am loathe to give up my bed. I may not sleep well, but I'm a fiend for rest. For me, giving up any amount of that time is a sacrifice that cuts deep. (Yes, I'm a huge baby). But it rarely takes long for my grumbling about wanting to crawl back under the blankets to give way to a feeling of true refreshment as I engage in whatever spiritual reads I've selected for the season.
This is year I have something special in mind. A book given to me by my friend that I lost last year. It was a gift for my 30th birthday. He was so excited, because he'd received it from his spiritual father, and they'd just had it printed up and bound. Father Patrick wrote The Theology of the Heart based on notes and material from Fr. Thomas Philippe, O.P., who encouraged Jean Vanier to start the l'Arche community for people who have special intellectual needs. My friend knew how much all of this would speak to me. I have long had a passion for France, then later found a calling working with the special needs population, and of course the pinnacle-- finally making my way home to the Catholic church. When he gave me this book, I had just begun to slide into a dark place in my life. I read it, but not with the attention that it deserved. Many of the lessons within I quickly shut out, because I was very much turned towards self at that time and not open to anything that might heal me but also require more from me. Later, when I had finally begun crawling out of that pit, my friend and I spoke several times about this book, about how he hoped I would help him create something more accessible from it. He was passionate about that, about bringing God's message in all its forms to everyone. Especially those that the world considers perhaps "average" or even "below average." He understood the heart of Christ much more deeply than most. He was firmly committed to putting effort into people who were often marginalized, passed over, looked through. I loved that about him. That he could have a conversation with anyone: the head of a department at the university, or the homeless man we bumped into leaving a club after one of his gigs. Such a beautiful heart. He taught me so much about loving everyone, about opening my heart in order to open the hearts of others. Because of my stubbornness, my fear of being vulnerable, my doubt that I was worthy to even reach out to others, I feel that he left us before I had time to learn even a fraction of what I needed to from his brave and giving heart. So I want to spend time with this book during this season, and through it, spend just a little more time with him. I want to find a place on the path that he had just begun to clear-- To learn to take life a little more slowly, to love a little more bravely, and to give all that I have back to God, because it was always His anyway.
I kinda feel like the whole three of you who might have accidentally left my blog open in your browser or for whatever reason had my site stored on the blog aggregator of your choice, are starting to nudge each other a little bit and whisper, "She does know it's over, right? ...why is she still posting stuff?" Yes, with a sigh of relief, I did bid adieu to Jen's 7 Posts in 7 Days blog challenge, but unexpected (even to me) was that I actually formed a bit of a habit. I looked back over my posts from the past week and thought to myself, "Most of this sure was a lot of bull hockey!" but the thing is-- I wrote. Every day. On a schedule. It made me realize how much I enjoy being productive. I like not only to write, but to put it out there. I am under no illusion that more than one or two people read any given piece, but that's okay, because it gives me a sense of... Completion? Identity? Release? I'm not sure that I can define it, but I know that I want to experience it more. After wrangling the girls all by my lonesome at Mass on Sunday, I took some time in the afternoon just for myself. I wandered through the bookstore, indulged in caffeinated beverages, and then picked up a paperback and a new blank journal. I think largely due to accepting and completing this writing challenge, I'm ready to put in some time again. Life went all slippery fish on me there for a while. I was having a hard time really being IN the world. Not in a good way, an innocent dove/wise serpent way. More in a "Is this even reality? How can you expect me to accept this and function here?" kind of way. But writing felt solid. To just put something down. To throw out an anchor of words and feel (however briefly) less ephemeral. So now I find that I've picked up some journal of blank space and stumbled onto some book, which turned out to contain a few more of the Exact Things I Need to Realize. When selecting Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird from the shelf, I was unsure of what to expect. I simply remembered hearing about it somewhere ages ago in some forgotten context, and to be truthful my simple, little, blonde head was taken in by the cover, because I'm clearly terrible at following rules regarding cover design and book selection. Thankfully it worked out better than the idiom warned, because having only read the introduction and first few chapters, I am enthralled. This book could've been typed in some dark corner of the back of my head by an anxious little woman with a pack of unlit cigarettes and too much coffee flowing through her veins. It has already touched on so many of my failings and neuroses and desires. I find myself wanting to inhale her words deeply, line by line. I feel emboldened, and even the briefest hint of reassurance. I finally feel persuaded to sit down and WRITE. Sure, I would like it to be decent, at least occasionally witty, and to conform to some sense of frequency and regularity, but more- I want to WRITE. Just add ink to the page, type to the screen, thoughts to the open ether. I want the impetus and anxiety of putting something out there that just might be seen by another. Will I get past these few, sparse paragraphs? Will even one more idea materialize? Will I manage to wake up and repeat this exercise tomorrow? I hope so. But even more: I hope.
I’m not very into awards shows, especially since, you know, motherhood pretty much ensures that I will not see any of these movies until they are available on Netflix streaming, but I found myself in deep need of vegging out last night. There also might have been Cheetos involved, but they were organic, white cheddar Cheetos, which are practically healthy (according to my husband who brought them into our house-- A pox on thee, foul tempter!).
After watching the red carpet walks, I’m sure you’ll agree that the Hollywood elite are clearly reading my blog about my deep desire for shorn hair and have graced me with further impetus to go bold (if not gold)! I mean, did you see Jennifer, Charlize, and Portia rocking the platinum statuettes look as they entered?
Now if the beauty of those ladies wasn't enough to convince me, we headed into the talent portion of our evening. The smartly suited hostess of the event, Ellen; the kick-A queen of perfect pipes, Pink; and the oh-so-lovely-of-spirit, Lupita, whose acceptance speech simply made me want to simultaneously hug her and every other girl who has ever doubted that she could do anything that she wants to do.
Oh my heart! Just thinking about that speech again, I feel rather shallow for bothering with a post about exterior things like a silly hair style, but it's kind of the spirit of the thing, isn't it? There's no need to conform one way or another to a look. You’ve gotta embrace what makes you feel powerful, beautiful, and happy…
and then you’ve got to share it!
Li'l E didn't speak a word other than "dada" until well after her second birthday (though she's definitely making up for lost time these days), and even that was after we started working with the Early Intervention therapists, so it has been pretty amazing to have Bear, who started talking non-stop around 18 months and still isn't even 2 years old, but already spouting off full sentences and verbally reigning the house like the little princess she is. Some of my current favorite Bear-isms:
"MahSELF!" This is her most frequent exclamation. The girl is her mama's mini-me and demands vehemently that all tasks be handled solo and free of any and all interfering Others. Of course, intimately related to this is "Mah!" and "Mahn!" She is quick to remind the dogs, "No, dawgs! Das MAH wabbit!" if they dare to sniff her favorite stuffed bunny. When she finds something she likes, she will toddle up with it in hand and ask sweetly, "Dis mahn?" and without waiting for a response, she informs you, "Yes. Dis mahn. Dis un is Cware's."
Her second most frequent refrain is "ONT!" ("Want!"). "I ont nanas" (bananas), "I ont ornjez" (oranges), "I ont ap-pulls" (apples). She's a fruit fanatic, in case you haven't guessed. She's also a book worm, though apparently Dr. Seuss is passé, because all we hear these days is, "Ont book... No! Sissie book! Da bid book!" The fact that their are no pictures (and that she can't read a single word) doesn't deter her from demanding her sister's chapter books in the slightest. She babbles a fine story to us all, turning the pages intermittently, and pointing to random words in the paragraph as she goes.
Some of her cutest quotes aren't due to the words, but the ridiculous enthusiasm with which they are delivered. Last weekend I was upstairs getting ready while Eric was downstairs helping the girls find their shoes. As I came down the stairs, I called out, "Where's my baby?" Eric says that she was busily playing, but lept straight up and went running in her little toddler waddle way toward the staircase where I heard her breathlessly calling out, "Oh hey! Hello! Yes! Hello, hello! Hey! Yeah!"
(Side note: YES, you can have a pony! Anything you want, adorable little Bear!)
She is still counting to ten (and fastidiously avoiding the number five for some reason), and she loves reciting the alphabet. She's can almost complete the whole series correctly when her sister sings with her. When she's rocking it solo, she sings out: "A B C D... H E B!" She's ready to be your Texas grocery store spokesbaby any time now, y'all.
In another case of STRONG maternal genetics, this girl LOVES to be clean. The highlight of her day is post-dinner bath time. The moment she has eaten her fill, she shoves her plate in my direction and announces: "All done! Baff! I dirty! Baff time! Go uppen da stairs, Mommy!" Whether I have actually finished my meal is of little concern to her bathing schedule.
And finally, if we weren't sure my DNA is heavily represented in this young padawan, she loves to ride in the car, but REALLY dislikes stopping at red lights. She will immediately look up from whatever book she's perusing and indignantly announce: "Dwive, cahs! Doh, Mommy!" ("Drive, cars! Go, Mommy!") Perhaps we'll hold off on that license until she's 18 and had several years of relaxation meditation training under her belt.
I love how amazingly different my girls are. Our youngest is a unique adventure all her own, and it's just fantastic in eleventy-million new ways! I can hardly wait to see what she'll say next!
This is part seven in a seven post series for Jen Fulwiler's linkup, "Seven Posts in Seven Days." To read more posts from bloggers who have risen to the challenge, see Conversion Diary.
This past week has been hard. Between marking a difficult date, the third week of car trouble, the kids being uncharacteristically moody, and night upon night of insomnia, I was slowly worn down. Friday began with an extra dog in the house, the girls in testy moods, and one already exhausted mama. One disaster after another seemed to befall our day. Most courtesy of my eight year old. This is one of the most polite, courteous, helpful, and calm children you will ever meet. I don't say that as her mother. It's been remarked over by plenty of family, friends, and strangers alike, but my WORD, y'all. She rounded off a rather rocky week in spectacular style. It was all I could do to hold out until afternoon nap time. I sent the oldest to her room to read and tried to take advantage of the baby napping going on. Unfortunately, I sleep as well during the day as during the night... which is to say, not at all. I texted briefly with my husband to give him a full report of our ridiculous day, and then curled up tightly under my blanket and prayed for sleep that wouldn't come.
Not long after, the baby awoke. I trudged out and the household was back in full (grumpy) swing. I attempted to fix everyone a snack only to discover that the almost two year old had suddenly realized she could throw food to show her disapproval. At me. Fantastic. She was promptly dismissed from her seat howling all the way, as the oldest attempted to talk her way into (already banned for behavior) screen time on the iPad using her loudest possible voice to be heard over the wailing. Just as I was wondering where my passport was and how quickly I could buy a ticket to anywhere else, my husband walked in the door. After only briefly hearing about my day, he had left work early, picked up a huge bouquet of roses and a bottle of some of my favorite lambic, and come to help. I could've cried for days, y'all. Unexpected relief. Indescribable thanks. After settling the circus he had interrupted and getting a little more work done from home, he took us all to dinner, and then sent me off to the book store. Alone.
That night I slept for the first time in such a long time. In the morning, I didn't wake up until 10:30 to discover that he had gotten up early with the girls, fed them breakfast, and been keeping them quietly entertained so I could rest.
It's one thing to feel utterly loved by your spouse, but it's something else again to feel that coupled with the absolute certainty that the Lord has heard you crying out from the depths of your heart and whispered a few words in the right ears to make sure reinforcements arrive just when you need them. A midnight text of consolation, a friend's musical suggestion to get back that fighting spirit, a husband who knows enough to sense a deep need even through a quick text.
I'm still a little worn out and emotionally raw, but thanks to friends with well-timed words and the surprising arrival of my favorite knight in shining beard, I'm beginning to feel that lovely mix of earthly and supernatural support that transcends all the heavy weariness of the world. I think that by Monday I will be ready once again to go toe to toe with life. I sit in awe of the Love that lifts up my life. May I never be insensible to that great blessing. May I always give thanks for all the love that I have. And may I take that love, multiply it immeasurably, and offer to freely and frequently to everyone around me.
This is part six in a seven post series for Jen Fulwiler's linkup, "Seven Posts in Seven Days." To read more posts from bloggers who have risen to the challenge, see Conversion Diary.
Seeing as our router has decided to commit seppuku, which in turn has crippled our Apple TV, and abruptly ended our watching of a long since aired episode of espionage via the interwebs, I have taken it as a sign from the bloggy pantheon that I should write my Seven Quick Takes. Oh, look at that! One down!
Speaking of television, you may remember that last year our only TV broke, and we were faced with the choice to dole out a lot of cash for a replacement or to file it under "Things We Can Live Without." As a frequent observer of the severe down turn in our oldest's attitude after even a short amount of screen time, I was the first to order, "Pass the hanging file folder and put that puppy in the top drawer." We went 6 months without a TV, till my parents (distressed beyond measure that their grand children were being raised deprived), surprised us with a TV for Christmas. It took a month before we got it out of the box and set it all up. Even then, I avoided it to the point that I was the only person in the house that had no idea how to control it or which input corresponded to which external gadget. When Bear wanted to enjoy some Signing Time with me, I had to get my 8 year old to set it up for us.
It's the end of February and as you can see, the TV is back on its pedestal as my twilight hour procrastination aide. I'll be the first to admit that it is pretty lovely to unwind on the couch at the end of the day with my hubs and a bowl of popcorn, or if I'm feeling ridiculously indulgent (which is currently several days a week), some proper Blue Bell ice cream.
Tech addiction: easy go, easy come.
When I went to St. Louis last year to become a godmother to my nephew of indescribable perfection, I knew I wanted to come back and bring my family. Not just to see my sister (though that is always a selling point for any adventure in my book), but because I wanted my husband and girls to see the AMAZING Cathedral Basilica, I wanted to take them to play in the parks and playscapes that seem to appear behind each rolling curve in the road, and I wanted to go check out all the museums that seems to be looming up left and right on our drive through town. After learning that my sister might have a little time on her hands and a bit more house to fill than usual for a week this summer, I've already talked to the hubs about going on our first cross-country homeschool field trip! I'm hoping that it will all work out and that we can have a true family adventure this summer! Fingers and toes crossed (and travel section at the bookstore in my sight!) Also, if we can avoid any Griswold moments that would be great... "Roll 'em up!"
Lately, I've been stepping up my español study. With our youngest's godmother a new mother herself, her house has been full of sweet relatives from Mexico, who have always treated our girls with such sweet affection. I've been trying hard in the months leading up to the birth and now during her little one's infancy to step up my ability to communicate, as most speak no English. I read spanish passably well, I can understand a bit, but when it comes to creating sentences out of my head under pressure? Oof! It's rather embarrassing to torture someone's native tongue right in front of them. My blood runs true to my French roots, I learned to parle français with very little trouble, and had a ball dashing across L'Hexagone on my own during college. French was always a language that I was fascinated by and adored, it seemed fairly simple to pick up (though nearly 15 years down the road, I'm not sure how functionally fluent I would be). It was this that made me think it wouldn't be terribly difficult to add Spanish to my communicative tool belt. Woof! If you need someone to read to you or to translate a book, I could step up, but to sit down and keep up with a table full of lovely ladies from Monterrey, oy mercy, I'm a hot mess. But I'm trying. A little Rosetta Stone here (does any one else find it a little boring if you know a bit of the language already?), a touch of Learning Spanish Like Crazy there (when the kids let me use my own stereo in the car), a heavy dose of the recently discovered MindSnacks Spanish app (Probably a little too simplistic, but I'm hopelessly addicted to the fun games), and a whole lot of reading spanish books and books in spanish. Estoy tratando, y'all. Es verdad.
Something else I've done for my own good recently: re-joined a gym. I really enjoyed my gym before my last pregnancy. And after the baby arrived and I got the all clear from my doc I became completely fanatical about P90x as well as running with the Zombies, Run! app. When we made the transition to homeschool, I no longer had the option of managing just one (easy to toss in the jogging stroller and go) kiddo, and an hour and a half P90x workout was impossible to force into a regular homeschool day. I've been really missing the release of a hard workout. Even with my martial arts classes in the evening, I enjoy the tension tamer of a good workout during the day. So after much hemming and hawing, and being convinced that the littlest would NEVER stand for the kid's club on occasions when I might want to bring the girls, I took the plunge. It turns out, with only a couple of melt downs, it's now a favorite outing for the kids! They love playing, climbing, coloring, and running wild with the other kiddos, and I get to get those delicious endorphins flowing whenever I need them most! Yay for taking the plunge again!
It seems only right to dedicate the seventh take to the 7 Posts in 7 Days Challenge. I actually attempted to plan ahead, by sketching out my general ideas to fill each day, and I wrote one silly piece ahead of time, because I had the feeling that sometime during this week something would either happen or my muse would decide to take an extended vacation, so I kept it in my pocket until Thursday. Which isn't too shabby since it's past the half way point. Now if I can only make it two more days. Suddenly it doesn't feel so overwhelming to post daily. It's not professional or brilliant or the stuff of Great American Blog, but it's writing. So, I've yet to decide whether this week will get me into a lovely writing routine or send me screaming away from my laptop for the next month. I love some good old fashioned anticipation, don't you?
This is part five in a seven post series for Jen Fulwiler's linkup, 'Seven Posts in Seven Days',as well as her '7 Quick Takes' linkup. I'm nothing if not efficient. See posts by more gluttons for punishment… er, bloggers, at her blog, Conversion Diary.
Perhaps I've mentioned once or twice that I like to have control, or at the very least exert some semblance of control in my often chaotic life. Like many people, my 18th birthday marked a time of great upheaval. I had a new boyfriend (that actually ended up working out rather well many years later-- Hi, husband!) I was finally in college. I was at least nominally on my own. In other words, I had stress and drama to spare. As exciting as this new life of young adulthood seemed, I often felt like I didn't have control over most things.
A control freak walks into a salon...
I went from blonder than blonde hair flowing down my back to a cropped pixie cut in deep cherrywood, and just about everywhere in between. From there my hair bounced around to many colors, styles, and lengths, the most dramatic usually corresponding with a time in my life that left me feeling desperate to assert some control or make a statement of being wholly self-reliant (dramatic breakups, I'm looking at you). In other words, I changed my hair a LOT.
Looks from the 20s
Later, as I discovered more who I was and my personal life transitions from the dramas of dating to the glow of engagement, the changes grew farther between and less dramatic. Every so often a major event would spark a massive change, but interestingly through my pregnancies, my hair grew long and in its natural color. I realized that it was not just my deep abiding fear of absolutely anything that might have an effect on the baby (including hair dye, even if it was being mixed at another chair across the salon while I was simply getting my hair trimmed), it was also because those were my happiest moments. Despite frightening medical issues, long illness, hospitalizations, and bed rest. I was never more at peace with myself than when nurturing a new life. I could whole-heartedly love ME, because of who was inside of me.
Looks from the 30s
These days I'm marginally better in handling huge events. I feel less melodramatic in general. I have my sweet little family (headed by my calm and amazing husband) to anchor me when the typhoons hit. And when I'm really feeling out of control, I've discovered that running (treadmill, elliptical, pavement) and hours upon hours of martial arts classes are sure to bring me back to functionality, no bottle blonde or salon sanctuary required. But let's be honest. Change doesn't need to be a coping mechanism, many times change is just FUN! Lately, I've been rather low key. I've been enjoying the non-maintenance of being faux-color free. And my husband has kept up a constant and convincing campaign to continue growing my hair out. Barring bouncing between bangs or grown out fringe, it seemed like I was settling quite nicely into a hairstyle world of very little change. Hi, have we met? We know that's not going to last.
This has been quickened incredibly by Jennifer, who (after her amazingly long, thick brunette mane had been immortalized in several high grossing, box office flicks) arrived on the red carpet shorn. And OHMYLANTA, y'all! Locks of GLORY! I have been carrying these pictures around on my cellphone ever since, so just in case the right kind of insanity hits, I can head over to my friend's salon, and she can once again usher in mood-enhancing metamorphosis for me. What do you think? Could I pull this off? Spring is just around the corner!
This is part four in a seven post series for Jen Fulwiler's linkup, "Seven Posts in Seven Days." To read more posts from bloggers who have risen to the challenge, see Conversion Diary.
About five years ago, I was doing a lot of baking. A ridiculous lot. Thankfully, I was working in those days, and could easily spend all weekend whipping up delicious treats, nibble a couple for dessert on Sunday night, and take the rest into the office where they would be promptly devoured by someone (anyone) other than me. These days, if I bake, I know that I'm going to end up with something scrumptious staring me in the face day after day, and it doesn't take more than a rough night with an early morning before this girl is eating cupcakes for breakfast. Therefore, I usually save the baking for birthdays these days, which works out because birthdays are the best opportunity to indulge in my favorite part of creating tasty treats: decorating. I've really been missing taking over of the kitchen and spending ages painstakingly handcrafting sugary toppings or squeezing bagged, from-scratch icing to create little works of art on sheet cakes. So I thought I'd share my five favorite creations.
I truly can't even remember what the occasion was for this particular cake, which probably means it was commissioned. I DO remember making my first marshmallow fondant. I love the smooth look of fondant cakes, and I was so excited to discover that I could make fondant that didn't taste like dried glue! Plus, I just love the color combination on this cake. It pops!
These cupcakes were so fun to make! I don't even think their was an occasion. It was just the end of June, and I was inspired to whip up a cupcake ode to summer! They were quick and easy, and turned out quite cute (if I do say so myself)! I made and colored my own icing and piped it from the bag. Oreos made up the center of the sunflowers, and I used red M&Ms dabbed with melted dark chocolate to create the sweet little lady bugs!
I created this cake for one of my young cousin's birthday parties. He was really into dinosaurs that year, so I threw a LOT of chocolate wafers (think Oreos without cream filling) into the food processor to create the "dirt" for this dino dig. Then it was just a matter of hand drawing the bones, laying a piece of wax paper over the drawing, and filling in the lines with melted white chocolate. It was such a huge hit with the kids, which made this one of my favorite cake memories!
This cake was served along with the dinosaur cake. The younger sister of my dino-loving cousin was in to pink and ponies, and this particular party involve a pony ride. While the livestock vendor couldn't provide a rose-hued ride, I was happy to fill the order for "PINK! PONY!" on the cake. Pink and white Mike n Ikes around the sides, pink sugar for the pony itself, opaque and gel frostings for the mane and details, and pink sour tape for the halter. Every little girl at the party was begging for piece of the pony before it was even time to blow out the candles.
This is my all time favorite baking project. I made these for my grandfather's birthday. He has a huge vegetable garden in his back yard, and when I think of him a good portion of my mental snap shots are of him out their watering, pulling weeds, or harvesting some tasty vegetables for our dinner. I saw this idea in a cupcake book while browsing a bookstore and kept a mental snap shot until his birthday came around, because I just knew he needed this garden of plenty!
I created the seed packet signs by drawing with icing on graham crackers which were staked to the "ground" using pretzel sticks. The cabbages were made by tossing melted, green frosting with corn flakes. The peas were M&Ms. The rest of the vegetables I created using a nut-free marzipan (we have several nut allergy suffers in our family). The carrots were dusted with cinnamon to give them a "dirty" look. And then I used rainbow sprinkles as "seeds" on a few plots. Finally all of the cupcakes were placed in shallow raw wood crates. I will never forget the look on my grandfather's face when I brought these out. I was proud beyond measure to give him something that surprised him with joy!
I really hope to find the time and occasion to begin baking a lot more in the near future. I miss creating things that are delicious to both the eye and mouth. I know everyone is juice fasting and gluten freeing and low carbing, but there is something to be said for celebrating. Just once in a while have your cake and eat it too!
In a fit of completely self-serving bloggery, I'm offering this post up for two different link-ups!
This is not only a Five Faves, but post 3 of my 7 in 7 hosted by Jen.
For more Five Favorites, head over to Hallie's place
To see who else is taking on the 7 in 7 challenge, click through to Conversion Diary
In an attempt to put my insomnia to good use, I’ve been reading a lot more books than usual lately (though far less than in my pre-motherhood days). So far this year I’ve managed to add 13 new books to my Goodreads list, and I’m currently working my way through several more. Many of them lean heavily toward the spiritual. Most, but not all, Christian. None so far Catholic (though interestingly a great majority from the end of last year were due to new book releases from some of my favorite bloggers).
In books, as in my life, I do not care for spiritual extremism. If a book veers too far into anchorless, ephemeral, indefinable spiritualism, I become frustrated and bored. If a book travels the other direction into saccharine-sweet, revival hall style, handwaving testimony, I feel almost embarrassed by the maudlin scene being displayed for all to read. I need level-headed, God-centered SUBSTANCE. Thankfully, I’ve found several books that fit the bill.
As I’ve read, I’ve begun to notice a theme emerge. Not necessarily a theme within the books themselves, but a theme within the ideas that speak straight to my heart and remain to whisper in my ears long after I’ve closed the pages. I already know that I cling to the past, to my own faults, not only to my life altering mistakes but to the slightest of failings. I constantly compare my worst to the shiny mask of everyone else's "best." While quick to forgive anyone and offer an encircling embrace devoid of judgment, I can’t seem to do the same for myself. Oddly, it wasn’t the idea of Forgiveness that has trailed behind me from each and every read, it’s is that of Obedience. Being ever mindful of my past, forever looking back over my shoulder like Lot’s wife, I am not simply unable to accept (if not outright rejecting) the grace of God’s forgiveness, I’m denying His promise.
“As far as the east is from the west, so far have our sins been removed from us.” -Psalms 103:12
“If we acknowledge our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.” -1 John 1:9
I have realized that constantly clinging, forever berating myself, is not only cruel, not only neglecting the command to forgive, it is a prideful act of disobedience. I am trying to remain in control, I’m appointing myself as ultimate judge. Somewhere along the way, I have declared that all are forgiven for being imperfect, for being human, except me. As if I had any power to levy such judgements one way or the other.
In reading Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship, I have highlighted, underlined, and dog-eared this page, returning again and again to contemplate his words:
“You are disobedient, you are trying to keep some part of your life under your own control. This is what is preventing you from listening to Christ and believing in his grace. You cannot hear Christ because you are wilfully disobedient. Somewhere in your heart you are refusing to listen to his call.”
So much of what I have read in the few short weeks of this year has made it so clear to me what I need to seek this Lent. A heart of Obedience. I am drowning in Self, in the desire to have control, in desire to have the final say. No matter how much I love others, no matter how much I sacrifice for the good of others, no matter how utterly I surrender myself to allowing God to work through me for others, I know nothing of Him and cannot claim to be of His flock if I cannot submit my will to Him in ALL matters. I have long ago learned that I have no right to cast stones at others, but in the same way I should not constantly stack boulders upon my own chest. How am I to fully love my neighbor if I have no concept of how to love myself?
There is only one Judge. I have to let go of this need to control, this bitter desire to constantly chastise myself. This mirror that I waste away before, gazing at all my deficiencies and imperfections. This sickness in my heart that refuses to let go of the pain and self recrimination. I need to surrender all… and then, I need to live.
This is part two in a seven post series for Jen Fulwiler's linkup, "Seven Posts in Seven Days." To read more posts from bloggers who have risen to the challenge, see Conversion Diary.
Y’all doing 7 Posts in 7 Days? I’ll do 7 Posts in 7 Days! This is so good for me. 7x7 is like having a gym buddy. Committing myself to someone has a pretty solid chance of ensuring that I am on the elliptical with my headphones in, as opposed to curled up on my couch shoveling Blue Bell in. That’s right. I just ended a sentence with a preposition. In the first paragraph. Witness me releasing my perfectionism... which according to Jen is Step Two in 7x7.
She placed it slightly lower down on the priority list than my husband. When I told him that I was planning to participate, the first words out of his mouth were: “Awesome! I'm glad you're getting back to writing! Um... you do know that it’s just seven posts, right? Not the seven best pieces of literature ever crafted in this or any other century.” It’s like he knows me or something.
So, having admitted my problem in the form of a serious addiction to perfectionism with the frequent outcome being that I end up offering nothing at all as opposed to putting something rudimentary out there, I’m ready. I’m going to show up, commit to bringing my B game, and attempt to avoid both time consuming major life events or paralyzing self-judgment. What was Step Two again?
Speaking of time consuming major life events, I’m a little nervous, because if feels like frequently when I commit to something that I just know I’m going to love, a HUGE derailment occurs and I find myself drowning in life. Like the time I started training for the marathon and was up to running half marathon distances on the weekends before a severe respiratory problem left me couch bound and on scores of heavy steroids and breathing treatments for three months. Or the time that I committed myself to a second year of working on the core RCIA team and soon after became pregnant and developed hyperemesis gravidarum so severely that I had to be hospitalized followed by months of bed rest. Or that time that I invested in tickets to the greatest gathering in the history of the ATX, and my car died and was in two different shops over a 15 day span that cost several thousand dollars. But I’m prepared, y’all. I’m taking my vitamin C, watching my step, and have plastic bubbles for me and the girls on order for Amazon overnight delivery. That sound you hear? That’d be the good Lord laughing. Feel free to join in. I am so very much looking forward to seven farm fresh posts this week from our fearless 7x7 leader, not to mention discovering new and exciting blogs to read on the regular! Jen has managed to pull together such a great community of bloggers, and I can't wait to see what you all have to say! Have fun, y'all!
Whoa, whoa, whoa. So your first post in the series is nothing but a declaration of intent to participate in the link up?
That's right, y'all. Reaching for the stars here... from my hammock.