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It IS Personal : Why My Compassion for Paris Does Not Diminish Those Suffering Elsewhere

trocadero paris

I may not be a French national but I very much consider France my second home. I have many friends who live there, and of all the other countries I’ve been to, France is first on my list of most visited. I lived in Paris for a semester studying, encountering the people, steeping myself in the language and culture, becoming inspired to love good, fresh foods, learning the intricacies of all those winding streets that still exist despite Haussmann’s best efforts to eradicate them. It is a place that lives in my heart even when I’m not present.

To hear of the attacks there last Friday, cut me to my core. I feared for friends. I felt deeply the violation of a country. I considered how easily I could have been in similar circumstances had the events happened 7 years earlier. I’ve visited those streets, I’ve attended a soccer match in that very stadium, where the explosions occurred.

On this same day, there was a bombing in Beirut that killed and injured dozens. This, too, saddens me greatly that there are people anywhere in this world that consider suicidal attacks on innocent civilians an acceptable means of warfare {or whatever it is they consider what they are doing}.

I’ll admit, my thoughts and heart went mostly to France that day. There is a strong current of shaming that occurred on social media, though, for those of us who weren’t equally posting about both events. I do care about what is happening to those in the Middle East and I frequently remember them in my prayers, but the attacks on Paris were close.

I should not feel ashamed to place an emphasis on something I love. As Madeleine L’Engle put it, “Compassion is particular; it is never general.” Sympathy for a general idea of those suffering does not easily produce action to help actually relieve those in distress. A personal connection is more likely to inspire action. It is not to say we shouldn’t do things for those who are further removed from us, but when we turn towards those first who are closer to us, it is an appropriate response. If loved ones were in distress along with a crowd of others would you indiscriminately help anyone or would you search out and protect your loved ones first? 

Sympathy for those suffering in France does not diminish the suffering of those elsewhere. In fact, it may strengthen one’s concern for others in a similar situation. We should not be condemning others who vocalize concern about one person or one group before another. One should emulate their compassion and throw our love, prayers and thoughts towards those God has placed on one’s own heart. 


Quietly Preparing

It gets pretty quiet around here come November. I begin to get into Advent and Christmas-prep mode, so little time is left for writing my thoughts and happenings. The cooler weather also makes me pause and become more contemplative. The introvert in me comes out full-force. I miss writing, but I’m happy to be more reserved for a time.


I’m gathering bits and pieces for the beginning of Advent {just only over a week away!}. This year, I’m catching on with the tradition of wrapping a book for each day and opening it as a sort of Advent calendar. The bookworm bug is strong around here, so there is always much reading done, but now Evey also gets a kick out of opening packages, so it’ll be fun to add on that extra element. I’ll be wrapping them in old, brown paper bags as I could see purchasing enough Christmas paper to cover so many becoming rather expensive.

We also will be doing our beloved Advent Nativity. This was Evey’s favorite last year. She never forgot a day, as it was her first act upon rising in the morning. More important, even, than breakfast. 😉


We’ll be following along with Ann Voskamp’s, Unwrapping the Greatest Gift, together as a family and making our own Jesse Tree ornaments as we go along each day. And, of course, lighting our Advent wreath on the appropriate Sundays.

A small chocolate Advent calendar may also make it’s way to our counter too. 😉

One thing I was fairly successful at last year, which I’ve made even more of an effort to do this year, is purchasing Christmas gifts before Advent starts. It allows us to really dive into the quiet preparation for Christ’s birth. And really remember the reason for the season, without fretting over whether presents have been purchased or not and rushing to beat crazy crowds.


What kind of Advent/Christmas preparations are happening in your household? 

Knight’s Hat {Yarn Along}



Our family has been fighting an evil bug that caught us by surprise as soon as the cool weather hit last week. We’ve been nursing every cold symptom in the book with long naps, steam baths, and hot toddies. Extra time on the couch has found me with my knitting needles in hand for prolonged periods of time, starting the preparations for Christmas gifts.

My sister-in-law mentioned some time ago that my nephew might like a knitted knight’s hat so I searched high and low for a knit one {crochet ones are much easier to find} and stumbled across these “guidelines” for making one. I say that because it is not really a pattern but a few helps in the constructing of such a thing. It wasn’t too hard to figure out so give it a go if you’re interested.

Thankfully, my nephew doesn’t read my blog so I can share some sneak peeks of his gift. 😉

In the reading department this week, I shot through The Royal We which was great for entertainment, but not too much depth. Just what I needed with a cloudy head. Recommended for those who love British culture, especially of the royal variety.

Linking up with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Things I Learned in October

  • autumn-smoothieEven though California autumns feel more like summers, there are ways we can help to make it feel more like autumn.

Sitting here, on the day after Halloween, we’re finally pulling out the fleece blankets and donning the flannel pjs. Minus a random day here and there, October has been in the 80s and 90s during the day. Maybe this is normal, but after spending four years in Virginia during the fall season, I got spoiled with the brilliant display the leaves perform this time of year and the brisk crispness to the air. Now, I drink my PSL in the air conditioning, hoping to experience some semblance of cool, or grab that pumpkin spice drink in the form of a smoothie to cope. The rare tree that unlocks wonderful hues of yellow, orange and red, I grab a few and return to it when I need an autumnal fix. And knitting, makes me hopeful for days when we’ll be able to wear what I stitch.


  • There is not enough live music in my life.

I surprised my husband with a date night to see the Tannahill Weavers performing at our local state theatre this past month. We are both big fans of celtic music so I knew the Scottish band would delight us both. But I didn’t realize how much it would inspire me to play music of my own again. The girls and I have been turning on our keyboard and banging out songs many afternoons. And, I dare say, it had a similar effect on Steve as he’s been pulling out his mandolin and playing with the girls too.


  • How to make pigtails in very thin, short hair. 

My dear daughter was born with the shortest, whispiest hair–and it hasn’t changed much in the three years she’s been on this earth. It’s finally long enough to make the smallest of pigtails. One of these days, she’ll get the Elsa braid she longs for. <3


  • To trust my own creativity more and more.

I’m often fearful whether I have enough skill to make whatever I’m diving into. Or if I can come up with something that matches {somewhat} the idea I have in my head. But, I’m discovering, the more I just do and the less I worry, the better things turn out. I’m not saying I don’t prepare, but it is easy to just browse through all those lovely Pinterest ideas or long for something like one of my friends has shared, and never really act on the intentions. I’m jumping all in and making many of the gifts I will be giving for Christmas this year. I’m excited to really use these God-given talents.

  • I may have failed to complete my #write31days but the lessons learned were worth the “fail.” 

I truly thought I would make it to the end, but life did not allow for it. Being the perfectionist I tend to be, I’m fighting against it and trying to seek, rather, the lessons that have been the result. It has clarified some things for me regarding my blogging, brought up some important questions about it, but also inspired me to continue to pursue further education in my photography.

What were some things you learned in October?

Linking up with Emily for ‘What I Learned in October’

Never Gets Old {Music Review}

We interrupt your regularly scheduled program of #write31days to bring you a short PSA {that should have been included with yesterday’s post but wasn’t}. #life


What do Andrea Bocelli and Disney possibly have in common? Well, besides platinum music albums, neither of them produce music that ever gets old. The timeless lilting of Bocelli’s soothing voice, the ageless jives of the Disney soundtracks–we just never tire of them. And one more commonality? They both have albums releasing this month!


Andrea Bocelli has long been a favorite of mine. They say that those who are missing the benefit of one of their senses seem to make up for it by being especially strong in another. I firmly believe that Bocelli’s lack of sight enhanced his ability to hear and, subsequently, to match pitch with the greatest precision. His singing is so lovely to listen to as he gently glides from one note to the next. He effortlessly enchants crowds as we saw with his performance for Pope Francis last month.

I recently had the opportunity to preview his latest album where he proves his talents once again. His album “Cinema”, which hit stores last week, is a great collection of some of the most beloved showcased tunes from the movies. {And if you’re into watching him perform live, you can catch him the day after Thanksgiving, November 27th, on PBS’ “Fall Arts Festival” where his performance of the songs from the album will be aired.}

Although my comprehension of the lyrics is lacking, my favorites of his remain those he sings in his native language of Italian and the closely related language of Spanish. Among my favorites from the album are E Piu’ Ti Penso, a wonderful duet with Ariana Grande, Mi Mancherai from ‘Il Postino’, and the ever-epic ballad of No Llores Por Mi Argentina {Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina} from ‘Evita’. He makes those notes soar.

The recording of this album was, apparently, a long-time dream of Bocelli’s, as the creative license in movie soundtracks is much more vast than your average songs. I think he has done an excellent job doing justice to these beautiful songs. Give it a listen! On iTunes and Amazon.

I participated in the Andrea Bocelli “Cinema” album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own. 



Disney songs are on constant repeat in my head. It doesn’t matter how long since I’ve seen the movie, I can still remember every word to the catchy song. But I don’t mind too much. These songs seem to become part of the soundtrack of our life. Many childhood memories are associated with the songs of Disney films. {I can usually deduce when the film came out based on what I associate with the songs from that movie.}

And what could be better than hearing your old favorites over and over again? Hearing a new voice sing them with their own, fun spin! Disney is releasing an album of all their oldies-but-goodies, We Love Disney, sung by current pop stars, like Gwen Stefani, Jason Derulo, Fall Out Boy, and Rascal Flatts, this Thursday, October 30th {just in time for your Disney-themed Haloween party or while getting your little Buzz Lightyear dressed for trick or treatin’!}. Jazzy tunes like Ev’rybody Wants to Be a Cat and Zero to Hero, sweet renditions of Part of Your World and A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes, jumping swing songs like Friend Like Me and Wanna Be Like You. You just can’t resist jumping out of your seat and dancing along. {At least we couldn’t.}

And don’t worry, even the youngest in your household will be enthralled–they didn’t forget Let It Go. And I just might like this version the best. Give it a spin on iTunes or Amazon!

I participated in the We Love Disney album review program as a member of One2One Network. I was provided an album to review but all opinions are my own.

#write31days ~ Day 26: Musician-in-Training




Both my husband and I love music–listening, playing, you name it– and it seems our daughters feel no differently. Steve often takes out his mandolin to play for the girls and Evey always asks to help play it. She’s been doing this since she could barely stand.

Now, she’s asking for one of her own but I think we’ll wait a bit. 😉

#write31days ~ Day 25: Sprinkled With Love




A dear friend of mine recently welcomed their first girl {second child} into the family. As she and her husband like to wait for the surprise at the very end, we decided to do a little meet-n-greet sprinkle after the baby was born so we could sprinkle her with pink or blue accordingly…pink it was!!

I had a ton of fun gathering up items of that lovely hue and putting together an afternoon tea. She asked that guests give only books as gifts to add to their library, but we threw a few other fun girly things in as well. 😉 {Couldn’t help it!}  We enjoyed a wonderful Sunday afternoon meeting her daughter and sipping tea with a few tasty morsels.

{By the way, she has the most gorgeous light that floods her house in the afternoon. Perfect for photos! It was just a tad hard hosting and photographing at the same time so I only managed to capture a few.}

#write31days ~ Day 24: Churching Ceremony

churching ceremony

In the extraordinary rite of the Catholic Mass, the Churching ceremony is still often performed after a baptism. The Churching ceremony is done in thanksgiving for the child that was born and prayers are said over the mother for healing after birth. It is truly beautiful.

#write31days ~ Day 23: Dinner Time Mess

milk mess

milk mess

milk mess

If given the opportunity, this is what my daughter chooses to do with her dinner. Every. Night. She can’t get enough of watching the milk fly. It is much more fun than actually eating or drinking what she’s been given. This one is a fun-lovin’ gal and she will take her entertainment in any way she can. {Plus, she likes to get dirty.}

#write31days ~ Day 22: St. John Paul the Great




A little #tbt today seemed appropriate today….
{so technically these are old pictures — but great to revisit, nonetheless!}

It is the feast of one of my favorite heavenly friends — St. John Paul the Great. I was blessed to be in his presence on two occasions — World Youth Day in Rome in 2000 and the one in Canada in 2002. These photos I am sharing today are from Rome.

It was my first time traveling abroad and I can say for certain, at the time, I did not realize the immensity of the privilege I was given, both in terms of travel and being in the presence of a living saint. I was just sixteen. I was excited to be there with my friends. And I was inching my way to catch a glimpse of this holy man just like every other pilgrim. But it wasn’t until much later in life, after he had passed onto his eternal reward, that I started to more fully appreciate those sweltering days back in the summer of 2000.

His exhortations and encouragement to the youth that I have read over and over again — “Do not be afraid!” “Duc in altum: Put out into the deep!” “We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures…”  “I propose to you the option of love, which is the opposite of escape.” “From the depths of my heart I want to give thanks to God for the gift of youth, which continues to be present in the Church and in the world because of you.” “I look with confidence to this new humanity which you are now helping to prepare. I look to this Church which in every age is made youthful by the Spirit of Christ and today is made happy by your intentions and commitment.”  — his seemingly endless thoughts on true love {living the gift of self}; his delving deeper for us in his encyclicals into the intersection of faith and reason, the value of human life, the Rosary, the dignity and vocation of women, the value of family, better ecumenism, the greatness of Truth, etc.; and his wonderful example of redemptive suffering up to his final breath.

My life, my vocation, who I am today has been shaped by the thoughts and prayers of this great man. Thank you, John Paul II. We love you!



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