'Muff'in Dome

Category Archives: Blessed Is She

Friday Frivolity {7QT}

So much to share, so little time. Luckily, it’s Friday — time for Seven Quick Takes! Hold onto your seats!

1) Diving into the garden season with a lot of weed pulling and a lot of seed planting. I’m trying my hand at a cut flower plot this year. There will be cosmos, zinnias, celosia, bachelor’s buttons, amaranth, and black-eyed susans {hopefully!}. I’m excited but feel a bit daunted by the task. I haven’t had much luck with growing flowers from seed in the past. I purchased Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden a few months ago, and I’m trying to follow Erin’s advice to a ‘T’ {with a little prayer of hope thrown into the mix!}. We’ll have some veggies and, of course, the strawberry patch too!

2) Last weekend, we attended a local(ish) Scottish Highland Games. The Celtic blood runs deep on both sides of the family, so the girls have taken a natural liking to the heritage both of their parents love. {Evey often asks to learn Irish dancing. One of these days, we’ll find a good group in the area for her take lessons.} We saw a group of harpists that renewed my great desire to own a harp of my own. There was even one for sale! — but, alas, out of our price range currently. We marched in the parade with the Cochrane clan, a surname on Steve’s paternal line.

3) Stephen and I got out for a wonderful date night in March that included a concert and surprise! Eucharistic adoration and Confession. A fellow Christendom alum, Marie Miller, was performing the opening act for Five for Fighting, so we grabbed some of the last seats in the house, up in the nosebleeds, but had the best time anyway. Marie did an amazing job, and we were equally delighted with the the lyrical genius that is Five for Fighting. I don’t own any of his albums, but I certainly want one now.

We also stumbled upon a Lenten night of Eucharistic adoration taking place at the cathedral that was such a blessing for both of us. Not only did we get to spend some quiet moments with the Lord, but we also were able to partake of the sacrament of Confession.

4) After much deliberation, we’ve decided to start Evelyn in some more formal schooling this fall. We worked through the early set of Explode the Code this year. She’s certainly excelled in learning her letters and their sounds, and is SO ready to learn how to read. {We may just dive into this early during the summer months!} The Charlotte Mason method has been a natural fit for our family so we’ll be following along with their curriculum, particularly that of Mater Amabilis with a few additions/revisions from Ambleside. {I may do a more thorough explanation of our preschool curriculum from this year. Would anyone be interested in hearing more about it?}

5) We instituted “popcorn and poetry” afternoons which we’ve enjoyed several of this month. It’s an alternative to an afternoon tea which will be coming back around when we start school in the fall. Not sure who enjoys it more — the adults or children.

6) Steve began a new job at the beginning of April which required a bit of travel at the beginning for training. Some of it allowed for our family to stay at my in-laws’ cabin in the mountains which are still thoroughly covered with snow…and much was still coming down during the month of April! The girls loved the extra snow play and we made it cozy with hot chocolate treats and many snuggly reading times {with a side of knitting for mama}.

7) I purchased for myself today this lovely new tank for the summer that Blessed is She just released. It will be a constant companion during the summer months in the garden, by the pool…whenever the temp reaches the triple digits, to be sure! The one with the Teresas has me all “heart-eyes” too.

I’m also looking forward to my new copy of the academic Blessed is She planner {if you’re awaiting the calendar year version, it releases in October}.

I might also have to pick one of these prayer posters for our large living room wall. A good {and helpful} reminder to say our prayers!

 

{Linking up with the fabulous Kelly on this lovely Friday afternoon for 7QT.}

What’s Saving My Life Right Now

Lucie at play

In the dreary doldrums of winter, Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy had the excellent idea of sharing a few thoughts on what is saving one’s life right now. So much negativity these days — this brings a positive spin to throw us back into the light.

{I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.}
  1. Tazo’s Joy tea — The name says it all. Every Christmas season for the past, at least, 5 years, I’ve taken to drinking a daily cup of this delightful mixture of black, green, and oolong tea. I’m not sure if it is still available at the store, but I stocked up on a few tins before the end of the season. I’m still enjoying my morning cup.
  2. Trader Joe’s fresh flowers — Erica of Be a Heart gave an excellent talk a few weeks ago in the Blessed is She‘s workshops on the importance of beauty in our lives. One thing that brings a lightened mood and beauty to my home, even on difficult or overcast day, is a lovely bouquet of TJ’s fresh flowers. I usually purchase one of the arrangements selling for $3.99, but sometimes I mix it up with a bouquet of just carnations or roses.
  3. Interior Freedom by Fr. Jacques Philippe — I’ve been struggling with finding peace lately, but this excellent read that my husband’s recommending for several years really helped me. This short work has all the right words for an honest dialogue with the Lord about finding that interior peace. He has some others that I will be making my way through soon.
  4. Knitting — I was just telling a friend the other day that finding moments daily to pick up my needles and stitch a few rows makes all the difference for keeping anxiety at bay. With all the crazy busy of life, it is difficult to slow down and truly rest. This activity forces me to still myself. I can literally feel my heart rate drop as I loop in and out.
  5. Meal planning with my planner — The Blessed is She Liturgical Planner‘s are first rate. {None in stock right now, but an updated version should be making it’s way to the shop soon!} The included meal planning and grocery list space {right next to each other!} ensure that it happens every week and makes it super simple to do. I’m actually enjoying the process.
  6. This is Us — We don’t watch a whole lot of television in our home, so you know when there is time reserved for it, it better be good. The show This is Us is a must-see for me every week. It is so well-crafted. The characters are all so real. The situations are ones we find our own selves in at one time or another. I’m laughing and crying through every episode. {And I was very sad there wasn’t a new one last night!}
  7. Raffi — This might seem like a rather silly thing to include on my list, but if there is one children’s musician I will listen to over and over, Raffi is it. I can’t say that of many {or any} others. My girls are completely head-over-heels with his songs, and I totally don’t mind. {He was my childhood favorite too.}

{What’s saving your life right now??}

 

This post contains affiliate links. If you click through, it will give a tiny percentage of the purchase to me. Thank you! 

#write31days ~ day 9: counting your blessings

cornflowers

“Rejoicing in these singular moments of grace, I desired to see more of them and was better able to recognize His loving care woven throughout my days. My hope returned. The recognition of His presence in my life lifted me from the fog of despair and back into the light of hope.”

Today I am writing over at Blessed is She, sharing how the practice of daily gratitude can be an excellent way of keeping the joy of Christ in your life, even during turbulent, trying times. Whenever my mood is spiraling into a dark place for long stretches, I find that this practice of counting your blessings can bring great relief and inspiration through this great act of faith.

I often take an empty journal and just write in a thing or two each day that I’m grateful for. It’s an excellent practice to start during Advent or Lent as a devotion to enter into the season more fully. And one of the reasons I love the Blessed is She Liturgical Planner so much is that there is a space for this at the end of every day.

Two people that inspire me with their continual practice of this are Bobbi at Revolution of Love and Ann at A Holy Experience. Bobbi, a fellow BiS writer, is currently spending her Write 31 Days challenge sharing 31 Days of Gratitude. I read along with her last year as well when she kept this practice. {Although, this is actually her third year!} Ann has an entire book written on this practice {which I haven’t yet read, but need to!}. Her blog posts are filled with gratitude for even the smallest blessings in life.

 

#write31days ~ day 5: planning ahead for Advent

Advent-light

It’s on the horizon, folks.

It seems like Advent is always upon us so much sooner than I had anticipated, so I’m making an extra effort this year, at least, to have a general plan about what we will be doing so I can prepare things in advance.

Last year, I purchased Ann Voskamp’s Unwrapping the Greatest GiftWe are already set to do it this year {minus a “tree” to hang our ornaments on} as I printed out her wonderful ornament accompaniments for the children to color while we read the passage for the day. It seems an excellent way to introduce children to the Jesse Tree, as well as involve them in the spirit of anticipating Christmas. There are several questions at the end of each day easily tailored for different ages.

nativity-advent-calendar

My girls love the hands-on aspect of working with an Advent calendar. We our on our third year of using one similar to this. We may have a chocolate one for each of the girls too. {I waited too long last year to pick ours up at Trader Joes so I will be running to the display this year.} I imagine we’ll also do a paper chain. These girls love their countdown helpers. We greatly anticipate the unwrapping of our Advent/Christmas books that Elizabeth introduced us to last year. It’s definitely worth the extra effort. It’s one of the reasons why I get started early — so I can find those books to add to our collection from used shops! And we love, love, love this child-friendly Nativity that gets played with throughout Advent into the Christmas season too.
blessed is she advent 2016

Coincidentally, Blessed is She just released their Advent products for this year, today. The artwork of the journal by Erica is strikingly beautiful; I know the words by Elizabeth Foss will equally be. I’m adding mine to my cart pronto because these typically sell out very quickly. I purchased the Jesse Tree cards last year and they are a great addition to our devotions for the adults in the family. Not sure I can pass up the print this year either.

 

Links are affiliate. Please support the blog by clicking through when you order — thank you!! <3 

Spring, Maybe? {7QT}

Linking up with 7 Quick Takes today because I feel so behind in posting that I’m rather paralyzed, and if I don’t start right where I’m at, I may never jump in again.

One) We had a lovely St. Patrick’s Day yesterday. The girls had ballet class so we had fun scouring their drawers {and mine} for a few green things. It’s not a usual color we wear so I had to do a bit of digging. We had corned beef, red potatoes, carrots and cabbage, and the requisite Guinness. I think I finally found the proper cooking balance for each of the ingredients in the crockpot. I put the corned beef in 8 hours in advance on low, added the potatoes and carrots after 4 hours, and the cabbage about 45 minutes before we were going to eat. It is so easy to overcook the veggies. Stephen and I topped off the evening together after putting the girls down with vanilla ice cream doused in Baileys.

St Pat's Day 2016

St Pat's Day 2016 2

Two) I’ve spent a good portion of this week tackling the jungle that will be our garden soon. We’ve had a blessing of so much rain this winter {much, MUCH needed}, but with it, comes lots of green….weeds. So far. I’m very happy with the soil that I’ve been working through so far. Lots of juicy worms and nice moisture at quite a depth. It was like chipping out clay last year. Such a difference. We’re still not settled on exactly what we will plant. I’m hoping to work that out with Stephen this weekend. {We’re due for another dose of rain so not much work outside then.} Evey has repeatedly requested carrots, so those will find a place–probably one of the raised beds.

weed jungle 2

I’ve quite a bit of progress in the garden already. The left side was as bad, or worse, than the right when I started. However, the right side is where we have a horrible problem with Bermuda grass so I’m so NOT looking forward to tackling that side.

weed jungle

Then there’s this mess across the way….

Three) The girls have been sleeping extra hard and longer after all the time have spent outside the past week or so. They were becoming horribly stir crazy with all the rain that just. kept. coming. down. About a month ago, I found a toddler bike with training wheels at a local children’s second hand-shop {double score that it was Hello Kitty!}. She rides it constantly back and forth across the patio. We’re still trying to learn how to make it stop and avoid knocking our sister off her feet as we pass by. {Oh, the hazards of being a younger sister.} Lucie likes to climb on the tricks, occasionally be pushed around, but mostly just sit on it in awkward positions. Particularly ones that are heart-attack inducing for her mother. I attempted bringing a smaller car outside for her to ride yesterday, but she prefers to live life on the edge.

snacking outside

at the park

Four) Warm weather has put me in a Spring cleaning frenzy in the house too. I’m eager to replace all the wool sweaters with warm weather wear. We’re trying to make a push to get our garage cleaned out so we can get the door repaired, and use it for the purpose for which it was intended {or maybe it was supposed to be a storage shed/recycling center….?}. I’ve got painting projects piling on and I’m even dreaming of a kitchen remodel. We’ll see how convincing I can be.

tea time among sisters

donut treat

Five) Lent has been very hit-or-miss. Mostly, miss, but I’m trying to roll with the punches and take the penances God sends instead of my own miss-the-mark ideas. Last weekend, I was very, very grateful to go on retreat with Blessed in She in Arizona, while my husband {and MIL for half the day on Friday} held down the fort. It was an amazing blessing in so many ways. I’m hoping to get a few more thoughts down in a separate post about my trip.

bis retreat gathering

photo by Heather

I was excited to hear this morning that our newest study guide, On the Way, for the Easter season and written by our lovely author, Colleen Mitchell, was #1{!!!} on the new release titles on Amazon in the Catholicism category. Can’t wait to dive into His Word more deeply with this beautiful work.

on the way guide

photo via Blessed is She

Six) We’ve got one more week until we celebrate the joy of Easter. The past few years we haven’t participated much in the Triduum services. It is very hard with the set evening times and going at it alone when it happens during the day with littles. Haley suggested in one of her recent posts of switching off with your husband–i.e. one goes to Holy Thursday Mass, the other to Good Friday liturgy–so each is able to partake more fully without both wrestling children the entire time and being unable to focus on anything. I like this approach, so, perhaps, we might give it a run this year.

St Joseph

Seven) I’ve got a back of photos a mile long I’ve been wanting to share, book reviews that I ‘m going to have forgotten the plot before I can even get my words on paper, and oh so many updates on life. Thank you for staying the course in this short flurry of words.

Finding Delight in the Lord — In Every Moment Given

Blessed is She hosted Advent retreat gatherings all over the world this past Saturday (and a few more take place this upcoming weekend). I offered my home as a location to host, but only a friend of mine expressed interest in coming. As it is easier for the two of us to get together during the week, we postponed until a few days later.

It was this fortuitous event that actually brought the lesson of “delighting in the Lord” home to me this Advent.

Munsill thanksgiving

My grandfather has been in hospice care for a little over a year now, but the past few weeks saw a rapid decline after an illness he caught swiftly made him worse. Over this period, I was able to visit a few times and sit vigil with him as he completed his days on this earth.

Those times spent with him, I spoke a few words with him when he was able to hold a little conversation or shared memories with other family members who were visiting. But mostly, I prayed for him. I prayed with him and over him. It felt very much like time spent in adoration before the Blessed Sacrament–that veil between heaven and earth is so thin in His presence, and I could sense the same as I sat with my grandfather keeping vigil in his final agony.

On Saturday afternoon, when the BIS retreat was to take place, I ended up going over to my parents’ house with the family. While Steve stayed with the girls at their house, I drove over to keep company with my dad and grandfather. When I arrived, my dad was playing Big Band music for my grandpa, joking that he had asked my dad to play the music for him. It was his favorite, so I’m certain he would have asked for it had he been able.

My dad and I chatted. We checked in with the medical tech to make sure my grandfather was receiving his pain medications regularly. We helped him take his breathing treatment and replaced his oxygen when he was finished. We relished the moments with him as we didn’t know when would be his last.

It is not always easy to sit with a dying person. It’s hard to know whether to converse with them. It’s difficult to watch their struggles as they suffer mostly interiorly. It’s painful when others who love the person are present, to know what to say to each other as you mourn the loss of this person who is so dear to you.

But what I certainly did as I sat there with my grandfather was “delighted in the moments” — giving thanks for each breath that still held him here, giving thanks for all the memories of good times past, giving thanks for the family legacy he was leaving to us, giving thanks for his life that had touched mine so profoundly. His presence was still very deeply felt even as he was slipping away and I wanted to be with him every minute I could that was left.

As we went about our Sunday morning the next day, I didn’t know that he had passed on to eternal life in the wee hours of the morning. We took the girls to an early Mass at the cathedral as we were planning to go to the German Christkindlmarkt later that morning. When we arrived at the cathedral, Bishop Soto was greeting a few people after the earlier service. I rarely see the bishop casually waiting in the vestibule, so we quickly made our way over to say ‘hello’. Stephen asked the bishop for his blessing on our family, and he spontaneously prayed for our “strength and health”. I see this as a great act of providence, one of the many moments God was showing His delight in me as I struggled with saying goodbye to my grandfather.

Once in the church, I was thinking of my grandfather and I leaned over toward Evelyn and said we should pray for him as he was having a hard time. She paused for a few moments to do so, then turned back to me and said, “Great-Grandpa has left us.” At the time, she actually said Great-Grandma, and I thought she was speaking of Steve’s grandmother who had died that same day, four years prior. But I realized later, when I asked her about it, she actually meant Great-Grandpa. I got the message when I turned my phone back on after church that my grandpa had, indeed, entered into his eternal rest early that morning.

There had been some difficulty having someone with him around the clock to care for him as the staff were stretched thin with many souls needing care that week. It was weighing heavily on me that he might not have someone with him when he passed. I wanted to stay with him, but my little ones needed me during the overnight hours. My parents were able to bring in the lady who had cared for him at home while he was living there a short time after my grandmother passed away. She was to stay with him through the night. A short time after she arrived, he died. I am so grateful for her presence, that he was able to have someone with him as he passed. Another instance of God’s loving care, delight in His precious servant.

christmas cards grandpa and grandma

“Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4

As I reflected during the retreat I was finally able to do with my friend yesterday, I could see this message of the Lord’s delight written all over the past few weeks. I was able to see in those moments that I spent with my grandfather as he lay dying, in the circumstances in which he died, God’s love for me, God’s love for him. Each moment given was an act of His love poured out. I witnessed Christ’s love in that small room, carefully transfixed on him whom He was to carry home soon and on each one of us grieving his loss. Christ helped me to find joy in the midst of sorrow, in the midst of saying goodbye.

The waiting–the advent–of my grandfather’s journey to his eternal home was a great witness and true living out of this Advent season. I miss my grandpa dearly, but I rejoice that he will delight in the joy of heaven this Christmas alongside my grandma.

grandma and grandpa at christmas

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven’s stars,
Reflecting on the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I’m spending Christmas,
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can’t compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.

For I have no words to tell you,
The joy their voices bring.
For it is beyond description,
To hear the angels sing.

I can’t tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I’ll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray one for another,
As I lift you eyes above.

Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I’m Spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I’m walking with the King.

~Wanda Benke~

Blessed is She ~ One Year

  photo de64b6e9-c77c-443d-89f2-9dbda1dc1586_zps9t4oyjzx.png

 

God’s blessings often come in the most unexpected places.

Just a short time ago, the Internet was living up to its isolating reputation for me and I wasn’t having much luck in connecting with female peers in my local community either.

I had a desire to delve more deeply into Scripture. I was searching for a community that facilitated this in a real way. I was looking, but kept coming up short.

I was on the brink of heavily writing off Internet time altogether when I stumbled across the seed of a ministry just beginning to form roots.

Blessed is She initially began by sending out the scriptural readings from daily Mass. Having just given birth to my second child and living as a single-car family, attending daily Mass was just impossible for me. With the BiS emails, I was able to pull up the readings in the inbox on my phone and read through prayerfully as I was nursing my daughter.

Then, these beautiful, short devotionals were added to the Scripture, written by faith-filled women sharing stories of their life where God was challenging them. So easy to relate to.

But God was calling me deeper. Soon, I was contributing to the devotions myself; then offering my time to edit the blog so we could further share the story of sisters who were in the trenches and answering God’s call in so many ways.

Twitter, never my forte, one day had me engaged with these same sisters in a discussion on prayer. We shared our favorite ways to engage in conversation with God, as well as prayer books that aided us.

Always up for a challenge and a lover of capturing beautiful moments in photos, I enjoyed the Instagram challenges for posting photos following daily prompts. And, in the process, ‘met’ and was encouraged by so many wonderful women all over the world!

coffee-blessed-is-she

Then God nudged our fearless leader, Jenna, to begin regional Facebook groups. This allowed for even more ‘getting to know you’ moments and praying for one another in the joyful and sorrowful moments of life. This connected us a bit more locally. I’ve now had the occasion for meeting several of these amazing sisters in the flesh for a cup of coffee!

And then? Blessed Brunches! Last weekend, I attended and co-hosted one in the Bay Area with Kirby who warmly welcomed us into her home. We shared treats and our hearts with one another over the course of an afternoon.

This organic development — from reading and sharing the Word of God together online to great, Spirit-filled fellowship face-to-face — was such a wonderful sight to behold.

blessed-brunch-berkeley-ca

I am no longer as skeptical as I once was about the Internet’s ability to bring us together. Great intention is needed to do so; we must move beyond that space.

Blessed is She has been the medium for forming so many great friendships. If not for its online presence, something on this scale would be possible. It has changed my heart for the gift the Internet can be.

But it has also encouraged me to reach out to friends I already had established relationships with and seek deeper fellowship with them too. It has helped me realize how important and what a blessing it is to have others in life to whom you can say, “What, you too?!”, and how vital it is to have a community who can come to your aid when you’re in troubled waters and to which you can return the call when another is in need.

I am truly in awe of the community that has been built up this past year. I am grateful for Jenna’s ‘yes’ to the Spirit’s call. I am grateful for every devotion writer who takes precious time out of their busy lives to sit down and write out the Spirit’s promptings on their hearts every few months. I am grateful for the artists who give their unique talents to create pieces of beauty that uplift our souls. I am grateful for the photographers who catch amazing glimpses of God’s creation to share with us in such a profound way. I am grateful for the writers who share with us their joys and struggles on the blog. I am grateful for those who share moments in those square picture boxes, revealing the blessings we have in our lives. I am grateful for each and every woman of the #bissisterhood who makes it the wonderful blessing it is. Thank you.

7 Reasons to Inspire Devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus ~ {SQT}

sacred-heart-statue

Throughout most of my life, I’ve had a strong devotion to and love for the Sacred Heart of Jesus. There are many reasons why, but I’ve picked seven today to help inspire you to the same.

1. It is a human heart which understands our own. {and vice versa}

Christ is fully man so His is a divine love capable of being expressed in a human way. Learn from Him. He also understands in a very human way what we are going through.

2. It is the “fount of mercy”.

No matter how many mistakes we make, how many times we fall, this Heart of our Lord wants to forgive us and have us return to Him. His mercy is never-ending and all-encompassing.

3. It inspires Heart-to-heart conversations with Our Lord.

How much easier it is to speak with God when we discover a heart like our own! The humanity of Christ makes those heart-to-hearts that we would have with a close friend so much more easy.

4. It is a place to rest your weary heart.

Rest in His Sacred Heart when you feel overwhelmed, beaten down, sorrowful. He understands as He has been there Himself and will help you find a way to overcome.

5. It is ardent and constant Love for YOU.

The Love of our Lord is so IMMENSE! And He loves you as if you were the only person on this earth. He will always be there for you.

6. It is what unites all Christians — the Heart of the Body of Christ.

To be an authentic witness and member of the Body of Christ, it is important to connect with the Heart of the Body for He is our Lifeline.

7. It is the author of all that is beautiful and good in this world.

To see beauty, to create beauty, to appreciate what is good, to choose what is good–this is the place to learn.

 

Linking up with Blessed is She on the topic of ‘Heart’ this week and with Kelly for Seven Quick Takes. 

My Domestic Mission {Blessed is She}

“I am a missionary. Yet, I have never been on a mission.

I live out my mission each day in my home.

Missionary work calls us to give of ourselves to those in need. Some of the neediest ones I have right before me every day. My little ones require food, clean bodies, education, entertainment. They require my attention, my affection, my affirmation, my heart.”

Click here to read more.

Sharing my thoughts on my ‘missionary’ work at the Blessed is She blog this week.

Life

life with pic

%d bloggers like this: