Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Another Giveaway

And this one is a beautiful bandana blanket by Charlotte at Waltzing Matilda. It's part of a tutorial for how to make your own, which I would try myself if I hadn't broken the needle on my sewing machine yesterday. Twenty minutes to check the threading and twenty seconds to bend (then break) the needle, don't know what I did wrong or how to take the needle out. This is why I don't sew. Anyway, leave a comment to win the one she made, or make one of your own. Or both, which is what I intend to do. Some day.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Check this out...

...a book giveaway by Kathleen Basi!

Lent is not so far away. Kathleen has a great-looking book for families, called Bring Lent to Life. Check out the excerpt at her blog and enter to win a copy!

Quick Takes Friday



--- 1 ---



I've been a little under the weather, so I'm going to take an easy route and link, link, link. Here are some things that caught my attention. First I'm referring you to Elizabeth Scalia's blog for a page full of links and snippets itself, but it's worth it to follow and read them in their entirety. She "links" them all together in a post titled "The Orgasmic 'Yes' of Catholic Faith." C'mon, you know you want to look. Beautiful, wonderful stuff.

--- 2 ---



I found this lovely reflection on "Sic Deus dilexit mundum," the image and the language.
Sounds all good, right? Well, the interesting thing is, the Latin is rendered dilexit! Again, I'm not a Latinist by any stretch of the imagination, but what I do know of it means that diligere--the infinitive form from whence we derive dilexit--also has a specific meaning. It refers to a taking delight in, a high esteem and pleasure in something. At first glance, this may seem like a reduction from egapesen--it's no longer specifically selfless and divine. There's something very human about diligere, isn't there?

Yes, there is! And, I propose, that diligere is not a reduction of egapesen, but the fulfillment of it!
Read it all.

--- 3 ---



And because February 2 is coming, here's my own preparatory Candlemas post from last year:
It's been about four or five years since I learned that we can bring our own candles to be blessed for devotional use at home. Since then I have brought my basket laden with candles to Mass, for our pastor to include in the rite with which he blesses the candles. But it always seems I am scrambling the night of February 2, trying ot think of--and find--what we will use this year. This year I will be ready.

--- 4 ---



For the politically inclined (and really, we should all be vigilant at the least when stuff like this is happening), I couldn't decide what to give you. Here's Mark Shea, about Ben Franklin's warning. Or check out this sample at his blog about the deplorable HHS rules concerning mandated contraception coverage. The Anchoress writes here on the march the media missed, and here exhorts America to reject the notion that women's dreams need be built on the blood and bones of their children.

There's more, and more links in both places. If you're like me and the "state of the union" already wears on you, and this early in an election year, please, don't forget to pray.

--- 5 ---



I am working on my New Year's resolutions. I am actually doing pretty well so far: I set the bar low and spelled out baby steps for myself the whole way. But I'll tell you more about that later. Here's an organizing pep talk I have found cheering and will probably refer back to, oh, around March, December, and all of summer this year.

--- 6 ---



I haven't linked to Simcha Fisher this month; have to remedy that. Here's one I liked, not least because she made a Flannery O'Connor allusion.

--- 7 ---



And my latest faddish habit: Downton Abbey, discussed here at Karen Edmisten's blog. I think I'll be caught up enough to actually read the comments there by Sunday. Is there such a thing as a real-time broadcast of the show available online? Or do I have to wait for this?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!



Candle image credit

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Pinning It Down--2

Put this one on your Autumn board. It's too cute!

We did this around Thanksgiving. All of the kids got a tree template and used their fingertips (or a paintbrush for certain mess-averse older kids) to add fall-colored acrylic paint for leaves.



So simple (although I had to do Anwen's hands without making a mess on either of us, which was not so simple), and just happy. I still have it up.



The original pin added the word "thankful" to the template but I just decided to use it as it was.



I'm working on a project I started a few years ago and allowed myself to think was too time-consuming to spend much time on. (Make sense?) Then I saw someone's idea of the same thing on Pinterest and was goaded into taking it up again. It's still time-consuming. I'll show you when I'm done. Here are a few other pins I plan on doing soon.

How about you?

Go see Pam for other pinned-down projects!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Patron Saints for 2012



We used Jennifer Fulwiler's Saint's Name Generator to choose patron saints for the whole family for 2012. I actually began seeking a yearly patron saint in 2009, when the Anchoress blogged about it. That year, via the Pious Sodality of Church Ladies, St. Lydia became my patron saint, and as I immediately saw a connection between her and a project I was considering, I adopted her as my patron for that project especially--indefinitely, it turns out, as I have not finished it yet. The next year, I was chosen by the formidable St. Ignatius of Loyola. I said a few January prayers asking him to be an example and mentor to me and promptly ignored him. Hey, the founder of the Jesuits is not someone you will easily get your head around. I'm afraid the impulsive St. John of God in 2011 did not fare much better with me.

Clearly, I have the same issue with the saints in heaven that I do with people here on earth--as much as I love them, I'm not coming out of my shell so easily.

Fortunately for me, the saints have perfect patience. And they share in the Beatific Vision of God. So I have to believe that they knew what they were getting into and chose to "patronize" me anyway. I'm adding pictures of all of our 2012 saints to our family's prayer corner, and I will make it up to my old patrons a little bit by including them in their own montage there. I know I still have something to learn from them; I believe they still have something they want to teach me. God knows what it is, but I have a hint or two, based on what I know of them.

St. Lydia, remember, is the patron of my project. It's a writing project, and perhaps she wants me to finish it. I think there's also something I can pick up from her history about opening your heart and home to the people God sends your way.

St. Ignatius Loyola, whom I find so intimidating, came to me with this quotation: If God causes you to suffer much, it is a sign that He has great designs for you, and that He certainly intends to make you a saint. Maybe perhaps he was telling me to stop being so whiny and do something about sanctifying myself and the world. Maybe through spiritual direction, or maybe by confronting some of the errors in this world that irritate me so--speaking the truth with love, of course. I was assigned him with an exhortation to pray for military chaplains, a reminder I can continue to note.

I am bad about overthinking things, to the detriment of actually acting, so 2010's St. John of God seems obvious to me: be bold in love. Don't worry so much about whether it's the exactly proper thing for you to do. Act more quickly; there's such a thing as being too circumspect, if it causes your inspirations to go cold.

This year my patron saint is St. Isaac Jogues. A North American martyr, whose blood nourished the evangelization of the Mohawks, eventually in the person of Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, who will be canonized this year. A French priest who, after being a victim of torture, chose to return to the places of his suffering for the love of souls. A handicapped person whose dignity and sacrifice after the example of Christ won him the recognition of the pope. So many interesting possibilities. What do you want to say to me, St. Isaac Jogues?


Update: Heh. The Anchoress blogs again, with some neat links.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Pinning It Down--1

From Sarah's guest post at In the Heart of My Home:

I've only been on Pinterest since October, but I love it. My only bone to pick so far is this: it's very easy to get into the habit of pinning a million ideas without actually doing any of them. It's one thing to pin something neat you found online- it's something totally different to step away from the screen and actually make it happen.

Yep, that's me, too. This is a total cheat, because I did it weeks ago, I added the pin to my board just for this link-up, and it's not even strictly the same project. But I wanted to share, and I had to jump on the bandwagon this first time around!

I didn't have a baptismal gown for my daughter when we were supposed to get her baptized, so I had consigned myself to letting her wear her sister's. But then the baptism was rescheduled, and by the time it came around Anwen had outgrown the short, little gown Cora had worn.Two weeks before the new date, I decided I wanted a traditional long gown, but did I have time to order one? Could I find one inexpensively? What about those gowns repurposed from wedding dresses... maybe I... could do that... myself? Yes! I felt daring. I could!

I do not know how to use a sewing machine with any proficiency, something I'm trying to remedy. But I have rudimentary hand-sewing skills, and I had time. I chose a white skirt with a stretched out waist band...


... and I cut it. No going back now. Almost half the skirt became a panel for the main part of the gown.


I chose a romper to help me get the sizing right, but I couldn't be sure of the sleeves or bodice. So I turned to the Web and found this tutorial to help me. I sewed the panel into a tube for the main body of the gown.


And that's when I stopped taking pictures. I was too nervous working on the sleeves and what to do about a neckline. I worked on it sporadically at night and ended up finishing the night before. It was by no means perfect, and I wouldn't want an accomplished sewist examining it...


...but I was so happy with it!

****************

So many great ideas on Pinterest, some of them just perfect for my home/family/school. I need cheerleaders, though. I find it tough justifying the time and mess to create projects. (As if pin-pin-pinning were any better.) Anyone else?

Pinning It Down is going to be fun.

Follow Me on Pinterest

See you next time!

Trusting in the Dark

(I have been sitting on this one for a couple of weeks. If you find the words a bit scattered, I'm sorry--I've been doing a little mental battle with myself. I hope to be posting more frequently in the next few weeks and hope to "see" you around then.)


The day before Christmas Eve, a family member, and we by near extension, experienced a crisis situation. I won't say "tragedy," no one was hurt; but there was profound loss. This family member has had rough holidays before, and is handling it all with more strength and steadiness than I fear I would show, and all prayers would be appreciated as she navigates this affair.

The next day, our Christmas Eve, felt very displaced as we dealt with both the immediate aftermath and all the last minute holiday miscellanea. This was the sort of thing which became both more and less urgent--routine was impossible, but for the sake of its solace we attempted to follow the traditional script of preparing and celebrating. I told more than one person I met that such an event brings into sharp focus what Christmas is really about.

The next day at Christmas' morning Mass, we heard in the homily the familiar story of how an unexpected Messiah came to a people who expected a mighty deliverer. The people of God wanted a hero who would restore everything they wanted of their former glory. Instead they got a helpless infant, who would grow up to say he would use our mourning, poverty, hunger and thirst to bless us.

Do you know yet--personally, from the evidence of your own life--how God uses the knocks and blows of this life to draw you to him? I remember reading, with a slightly stunned blink, a passage from one of St. Catherine of Siena's letters to a woman, apparently a widow who had lost first her son and now her daughter. The letter itself, I believe, is one of her better known ones, expounding on "holy patience;" but what struck me were these words:
It seems that God is calling you to great perfection. And I perceive it by this, that He takes away from you every tie that might hinder it in you. For as I have heard, it seems that He has called to Himself your daughter, who was your last tie with the outer world. For which thing I am deeply content, with a holy compassion, that God should have set you free, and taken her from her labours.
I admit, I wonder how this sentiment was received. We are often told it's no consolation to tell someone who has suffered a loss that "it was God's will." Perhaps in the 14th century one is used to thinking in such terms--or at least one in correspondence with Catherine of Siena. But it seems so cold, even cruel.

No matter who we are, though, the manner in which we should think, if we are to be saints, is this: Whatever is happening to me, how can this bring me closer to God?

I'm not really good at answering that question--not at living the answer. I tend to feel trials as a bit of a betrayal. There's another quotation that sticks with me, after reading it at another blog*, by C. S. Lewis: "We are not necessarily doubting that God will do the best for us; we are wondering how painful the best will turn out to be." But faith in times of crisis or tragedy is truly about trust: will we cling to God and know that He will bring us through this dark time into dawn? Or will we bolt and grope around for ourselves, trying to find what we want in the dark?



*The inimitable Danielle Bean's blog, whose blog has since been redesigned so that I was obliged to lift the words from other sources.

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