Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Monday, March 31, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

7QT Friday

~  ONE  ~
Any musicians out there? My husbands jokes that we need to explore the violin as a path for the youngest child, for convenience. He texted me recently as he was waiting for our ballet dancer to leave the theater for the afternoon. The musicians were already heading home, but not the dancers. I laughed, as I'd been noticing that the musicians tend to arrive at the theater the same time I do, as a theater attendee, not HOURS before performance time, as dancers, actors, technical crew. Oh, well. Theater hours are long, no matter your role.

~  TWO  ~
Random observation from a mother who has learned a thing or two over the years: parents talk too much. I hear it when I'm out and about. I think we need to give kids more time for reflection and self-exploration before swooping in to explain, to seize the teachable moment, to validate feelings, or to express our disapproval of naughty behavior with long sentences that a 4-year-old is going to tune out anyway. Not that there isn't a time for conversation. It's a matter of balance. I haven't always known how to strike this balance and it's painful when I recognize this tendency in other parents.

~  THREE  ~
Oh, dear. Whilst thinking about how parents need to allow for more kid-directed exploration, Child 5 pops in with the news that she knows how to make mud. "Spit in the dirt under the swing! It turns to mud!" Ahhh. Is that what I was hoping for? Hm.

~ FOUR  ~
It was cold again this week. But. Progress in the garden.

The crocus came our this week, when I wasn't looking:

The daffodils are getting taller:

The snowdrops have been out for a few weeks, but I'm including them here, just to convince me that winter won't last forever:

~  FIVE  ~
Child 2 was reading about people suffering depression from reading Facebook posts because they think everyone's life is perfect and then feel inadequate because theirs isn't. Perhaps that's why I'm suffering from the winter that won't give up: I'm spending time reading garden blogs, garden books, garden magazines. And reminding myself what the bulbs are doing in other climates where we've lived. I should concentrate on my own climate's progress. Spring will happen. It will.

~  SIX  ~
James is one of my favorite books from the Bible. He came to my rescue from Chapter 4, verse 10:

Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.
I've not been able to meet many of my Lenten goals, mostly due to things outside my control. Good lesson in itself, I think. I'm not sure how I'll end up exalted, but I've finally gotten around to admitting to God that I have to give up on my plans, without knowing what His are, so I wait… impatiently. I trust, but I'm prone to feel anxious when there's not a clear plan before me.

~  SEVEN  ~
On a lighter note. A You Tube clip that had Child 6 (the toddler) in stitches. A funny dog, but I enjoy watching the cat. This clip epitomizes the personalities of cats and dogs. It's why I'm more a cat person than a dog person.

UPDATE: That embed seems to be working on the desktop, but it isn't working on my phone.  Here's the link, if there is no video showing for you.

Thanks so much to Jennifer at Conversion Diary, for hosting 7 Quick Takes Friday

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Cottage dreaming . . .

I don't have a Pinterest, so I'm putting this here.

The French Cottage Update

Sure, I'd take a cottage in France.  But my cottage-in-a-foreign-country-heart is planted firmly in England.  If I could do what this family is doing with a place in Norfolk!

Monday, March 24, 2014

More Br. Lawrence

Continuing with the thoughts from Brother Lawrence, as written last week.

9.  During our work and other activities, even during our reading and writing, no matter how spiritual – and, I emphasize, even during our religious exercises and vocal prayers – we must stop for a moment, as often as possible, to adore God in the depths of our hearts, to savor him, even though in passing and stealthily.  Since you are aware that God is present to you during your actions, that he is in the depths and center of your heart, stop your activities and even your vocal prayers, at least from time to time, to adore him within, to praise him, to ask his help, to offer him your heart, and to thank him.  Nothing is more pleasing to God than to turn away from all creatures many times throughout the day to withdraw and adore him present within.  Moreover, this turning inward imperceptibly destroys the self-love found only among creatures.  In the end, we can offer God no greater evidence of our fidelity than by frequently renouncing and scorning creatures in order to enjoy their Creator for a moment.  I do not mean by this that you must withdraw forever from your duties, for that you be impossible; prudence, the mother of all virtues, must be your guide.  I do say, nonetheless, that it is a typical error among the spiritually minded not to withdraw from what is external from time to time to adore God within themselves and enjoy his diving presence in peace for a few moments.

He's not the first religious to write on the idea of practicing a continual awareness of the presence of God, but there's something about the way he does it that is so . . . . gentle? humble? accessible?  Maybe a combination of all those things.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Thank you,  St. Patrick, for converting my ancestors!

Lenten Re-set Button?

The only thing I had with which to start Lent was that I wanted to slow down and to do things with love.  I was struggling because I kept coming up short on ideas for how to do this.  And, admittedly, I was complaining because the flu had slowed me down against my will.

Before heading to Adoration the other day, I wasn't sure what reading to bring with me.  On a whim, I grabbed Brother Lawrence's The Practice of the Presence of God.  There was even a bookmark still in it, either randomly stuck there or placed where I thought something was important.

Imagine my joy, when arriving at church, to discover that Brother Lawrence had written instructions that were perfect for my attempts this Lent!  Right where I'd left the bookmark, too.

From Spiritual Maxims, Chapter 2:

6.  The holiest, most ordinary, and most necessary practice of the spiritual life is that of the presence of God.  It is to take delight in and become accustomed to his divine company, speaking humbly and conversing lovingly with him all the time, at every moment, without rule or measure, especially in times of temptation, suffering, aridity, weariness, even infidelity and sin.

7.  We must continually apply ourselves so that all our actions, without exception, become a kind of brief conversation with God, not in a contrived manner but coming from the purity and simplicity of our hearts.

8.  We must perform all our actions carefully and deliberately, not impulsively or hurriedly, for such would characterize a distracted mind.  We must work gently and lovingly with God, asking him to accept our work, and by this continual attention to God we will crush the head of the devil and force the weapons from his hands.

Slow down.  Work with love.

Last week, I lamented that my toddler was slowing me down in ways I didn't want to slow down. Well, silly me.  She's not getting in the way of my Lenten resolutions, she is part of them!  Sorry, God!  Thank you, Br. Lawrence!