Gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.
~ GK Chesterton

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Gas Price Surprise

I snapped this photo the other day.

It is true that this includes a dollar off per gallon, thanks to our grocery store rewards system. It would have been impressive even at $1.779 a gallon, though.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

To those who visit my humble space on the web, whether I know you in real life or whether we connect online only, I send my wishes for a wonderful Christmas season!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Is it only me, or do others enjoy a late-in-the-week Christmas, giving us a long fourth week of Advent?

For this last Sunday, once again, I share Brother Lawrence:
“To advance in the practice of the presence of God we should let go of all our cares, including a multitude of private devotions, good in themselves but often carried out for the wrong reasons, for those devotions are nothing more than the means to arrive at the end.” 
It cannot be helped. I cannot escape this quote! In just a few sentences, it sums up what I’ve needed for focus this Advent: Do not get stuck in a mindset that certain things, even very good things, need to happen in order to have a “good” Advent.

Ironically, it has been letting go of expectations of how things “should go,” that I’ve ended up being able to enjoy quiet time to myself, as well as take pleasure in the more exterior seasonal activities. That isn’t such a surprise.

What was a surprise was discovering attachments I didn’t know existed. I cannot share the specifics of the discovery, because it would mean telling others’ stories at the same time, which I won’t do. No matter, the generalities are sufficient in making my point.

I had been counting on a particularly meaningful devotion to help me find the strength to meet a specific challenge. Alas, external circumstances kept me from that devotion when I thought I was most in need of it. I spent a number of minutes in the car (by myself), railing at fate about it. Suddenly, I remembered Brother Lawrence’s warning about letting go of devotions, good in themselves, but perhaps blinding us to the end goal. Hmmmmm….

Almost immediately, a scriptural quote popped into my head, the one about God’s grace being sufficient. In that moment, I knew. I was putting more faith in the devotion than in the God I thought I was meeting in that devotion. If circumstances beyond my control kept me from the devotion, there was no need to fear God was absent without it.

After that epiphany, I felt better about facing my challenge. As it happens, the challenge was met better than I thought it could be done. Such a gift!

Happy Fourth Sunday, friends!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Happy Feast Day!

St. John of the Cross, pray for us!

I don't want those who have been reading my Advent Sunday posts to misunderstand me. Prayer is essential. I would make a grave mistake, if I were to put aside private devotions because I think God is calling elsewhere. It's from prayer that we hear God's voice.

In celebration of St. John of the Cross, I offer this writing of his, to be considered along with the Brother Lawrence quote.

Let those, then, who are singularly active, who think they can win the world with their preaching and exterior works, observe here that they would profit the Church and please God much more, not to mention the good example they would give, were they to spend at least half of this time with God in prayer. . . They would then certainly accomplish more, and with less labor, by one work than they otherwise would by a thousand. . . Without prayer they would do a great deal of hammering but accomplish little, and sometimes nothing, and even at times cause harm. God forbid that the salt should begin to lose its savor (Mt. 5:13). However much they may appear to achieve externally, they will in substance be accomplishing nothing; it is beyond doubt that good works can be performed only by the power of God. 

Spiritual Canticle 29.3

Sunday, December 13, 2015

St. John of the Cross: Novena Day Nine

St. John of the Cross Novena Prayer here.

Third Sunday of Advent

We are halfway there!

It’s the pink one’s turn! Or, the rose one’s turn, to be more precise.

There’s been no time to consider what I would like to reflect on, this Third Week into Advent.

Nope, not because I’ve been joining in the holiday craziness we are all warned against. Rather, circumstances have tossed things into my week that were not on the schedule. That is all right. It fits so perfectly into this Advent’s theme of not being too attached to devotions that I miss what God is actually asking of me. (Thank you, Brother Lawrence!)

And so, I reflect on gaudete: rejoice

Saturday, December 12, 2015

St. John of the Cross: Novena Day Eight

Poor St. John. I haven't been keeping him company here on the blog. That's all right. He knows why I've missed out.

St. John of the Cross Novena Prayer here.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

St. John of the Cross: Novena Day Two

St. John of the Cross Novena Prayer

Second Sunday of Advent

“To advance in the practice of the presence of God we should let go of all our cares, including a multitude of private devotions, good in themselves but often carried out for the wrong reasons, for those devotions are nothing more than the means to arrive at the end.” Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection

The first week of Advent passed, for me, very much in the spirit of the Brother Lawrence quote I shared last Sunday. In being mindful that my Advent devotions are only the means to the End, I have been able to sit with prayers and reflections as if they are dear friends to linger with.

Which feels like an improvement over previous Advents spent earnestly begging God to help me know “what I should get out of” Advent. (Spiritual growth is so much more than a self-help improvement project.)

Looking back over the week, I see that the change in my attitude has spilled over to my mothering. I am able to approach the various activities of the season with a more relaxed frame of mind. We are engaging in activities (gingerbread houses, municipal tree lightings, Advent countdowns) because they are ways to color and flavor life, not because I-simply-must-expose-my-children-to-all-these-things-so-they-might-have-the-most-enriching-lives-ever. (Oy vey . . . yes . . . I can be that intense.)

So, life rolls on: the ordinary demands, with Advent-themed activities added in. And yet, there has been time for taking things slowly. This quiet has come about in an unexpected way. Several of us feel as if we are on the verge of wintertime colds. While this is not a welcome development, at least it has forced us to slow down. To choose to sit and read aloud, rather than be off doing something. That is a good thing. As an easily distracted person, it is good to learn to linger.

No new quotation for the Second Sunday of Advent. Rather, I am continuing to delight in the same Brother Lawrence quote going into this second week.

“To advance in the practice of the presence of God we should let go of all our cares, including a multitude of private devotions, good in themselves but often carried out for the wrong reasons, for those devotions are nothing more than the means to arrive at the end.” Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Advent Treat

One of our Advent traditions: a special holiday-themed dessert to go along with one of our rotation of Christmas movies.

These are the chocolate peppermint cookies. Choose your favorite chocolate-chocolate chip cookie recipe, and add in broken-up candy canes.  Substitute vanilla extract with peppermint extract.

I won't be sharing the photo of the gluten-free varierty; they were tasty, but not very pretty.

St. John of the Cross: Novena Day One

Today is the first day to begin a novena in anticipation of the Feast Day of St. John of the Cross. I am hoping to have something to contribute on the blog each day, but I will be realistic and admit that it might not happen. I’ve got too much going on just now to commit to getting to the computer every day for the next nine days. No worries – I am not overstressing the holidays! Rather, I am prioritizing the TO DO list. My sneaking away to the computer will fall to the bottom of the list, as I attempt make wise decisions about keeping a healthy balance during Advent.

In the newly published e-book by Elizabeth Foss, Comfort & Joy, she shares her thoughts about a novena prayer:

“This prayer and most novena prayers allow us to state our intentions, to beg for favors, to ask God to grant our desires. But I have noticed, as I have prayed the prayer, that in the time from the beginning of the devotion until the time near the completion, the focus shifts from the desire to the rest of the prayer. Over time, with repetition, my gaze is taken from what I want or think I need (however good and holy that might be) to who He is and how He lives in me.”

This sums up, beautifully, my favored approach to novena prayers. In some ways, this reminds me of the content woman my grandmother was: she didn’t want or need gifts on birthdays or Christmas, she liked simply being with her loved ones. She wasn't just saying she didn't want anything out of a false humility, her desires were sincerely elsewhere. I am not asking for anything in particular during this novena; I am spending time in savoring the words that touch my heart.

Please, do spend some time with the words of St. John of the Cross. For Novena Day One, I’ll share one of the most well-known quotes:

For the traditional novena, follow this link.

Friday, December 4, 2015

7QT: Fast Food/Allergy Hilarity

File this under the category of: We don’t get out much, I guess? Given that almost half the family has food sensitivities of one kind or another, there is just a small selection of restaurants we visit, where we know we can work around the assorted dietary needs and not go hungry.

I took a few of my children for an impromptu visit to McDonald’s. The reactions of the three-year-old were hilarious.

~  ONE  ~
She didn’t even know where she was. As we approached the counter, she asked (loudly), “Is this Wendy’s?”

~  TWO  ~
She didn’t know Happy Meals come with a toy. As we waited for our order, she became enchanted with the display of all the toys that are in the current Happy Meal cycle. I told her she’d be getting one with her meal and she was shocked speechless for a moment.

~  THREE  ~
The speechlessness came to an end when she became alarmed that she might not be the only one who didn’t know Happy Meals are meant to come with a toy. Specifically, she was afraid the employee serving us wouldn’t know. “How will the woman know she should give me a toy?” She asked that, worriedly, a few times.

~  FOUR  ~
The Happy Meal comes in a box.

~  FIVE  ~
The thrill continued beyond the food and toy, in a box. Whilst we were stopped at a red light just after leaving the establishment, she noticed an employee leaving work for the evening. She found it so unusual to see an employee out of the restaurant, she shared this adventure about with each family member who wasn’t with us at McDonald’s.

~  SIX  ~
She was still excited the next morning. The first thing she did upon awakening was tear through the house, “Where’s my Happy Meal toy?”

~  SEVEN  ~
Even I got in on the excitement. When did they start making the French fry boxes so tiny and cute?

Do we sound pathetic? As if we never get out? We do! Our adventures just don’t include fast food experiences.

It has been way too long since I’ve participated in Seven Quick Takes. I miss thinking of my 7; I miss reading others’ 7. 

Thank you, Kelly, for hosting!
This Ain't the Lyceum

Tuesday, December 1, 2015


This blog seems to be spiraling out of control with hashtag activism. I apologize for that. It just happens that a handful of things I feel strongly about come together at one time.

Reece's Rainbow, one organization that can count on my support, is participating in #Giving Tuesday.

Reece's Rainbow Down Syndrome Adoption Grant Foundation