Sunday, January 31, 2016

An Exciting week for The Church!

Last year around this time we started attending Our Lady of Walsingham Catholic Church. It is part of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter, that is a sort of "diocese" made up of Catholic Churches in North America which have been formed for Anglican (and other) converts to the Catholic faith. Our pastor, clergy, and many parishioners are former Episcopalians. But other Catholics are welcome to worship there as well, and being that my father was raised in the Episcopal church, our family is actually even more "official" than we'd initially realized.

The mass is beautiful and reverent, the sacred music is uplifting, and the community is vibrant and welcoming. We love smaller, traditional churches, and are blessed to be a part of this parish, which is the Principal one for the Ordinariate. This week is a very exciting one as The Holy Father has named the first Bishop to lead the Ordinariate, and he will be ordained here at the Cathedral in Houston on Tuesday night. It will be broadcast live on EWTN (also streaming online).

Tuesday will be filled with lots of events and a big children's festival at the church. That evening, Bishop-elect Steven Joseph Lopes (yes, his name is Steven Joseph!) will become a bishop, and next weekend our parish will actually become a Cathedral! His story is a beautiful one of faithfulness and service to the church and to the mission of the Ordinariate. Our three oldest children will be performing some traditional old English country dances during the children's festival and have been rehearsing for several weeks. They've been doing these dances with their local homeschool clubs for many years, and now they finally get to perform them with their local friends who attend our parish! We look forward to watching their dances and also experiencing the bishop's ordination mass. I hope the children handle well the events of the day, as we celebrate with our friends and church community this joyous event!

Our current Administrator, Msgr. Steenson, describes the Ordinariate as "the most remarkable endeavor the Catholic Church has ever launched for the cause of Christian unity." We are blessed to be a part of it and continue to pray for the unity of all Christians.

Project 366

Days 22-31
Here ends one full month of every day photos!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Home is Wherever I'm With You

We have lived in eight different homes in the fourteen years we've been married (one of them twice). The longest stretch we spent in any home was five years, but most stays were only a year or two. Recently someone asked about our current home, if it felt like I was finally home for good when we awoke after the first night here. The answer to that question was...not exactly!

Honestly I have gotten used to staying in different places, from our very modest first apartment to our current new-ish, large home. Whether hometown or college town or the city-by-the-sea, it always takes awhile to feel like I'm home, and I am not sure I've ever really had that feeling of being settled for the long-term. I love purging and reorganizing, and especially redecorating! But sometimes it has been hard not knowing how long we'd actually be in that particular home. I've gotten used to just trying to find contentment with the current home for the current day and trying not to think too much into the future!

The one constant is our own little, actually big, family. Every morning (unless he's traveling, or playing musical beds with children, or already at work) I wake up next to Steven, and that makes me feel like I am home. Our children are all in different places around the house...our room, their rooms, the couches, or even the upstairs balcony, but we are all together in our home. We spend most of our days together in our home and it becomes the safe haven where our hearts and our lives reside.

There have been seasons in our life when I wanted to escape from "home." Our outside activities were the things that my daily life revolved upon. Whether it was due to financial stress or job insecurities, or just my desire for lots of social engagements, we had outings every day and we all thrived on those as being the focus of our days.

I can say that now, especially with these last few moves, we have found so much more contentment at home. We have schooling to do, meals to prepare, games to play, crafts to do, shows to watch, and quite a few children to raise! I do enjoy a mom's night out, a shopping adventure, or a special homeschool event with friends, but really when I think about it I'd rather be home than running around town these days. And I love the days that we don't have to go anywhere at all!

It's stressful to dress children and load children and drive them and chase them, to deal with meltdowns, and find food, and change diapers, and miss naps, and come home exhausted! I'd prefer to let them play in their dirty clothes, snack on food in the pantry, ride bikes in the street, chase the dog in the backyard, and play games with each other. We can have slow mornings and slow evenings. We can school all day long when we don't have places to run to. I can take a nice long bath, and the baby can take a long nap in her own bed. My one less-social child can be more content and my extroverted self can have some time to text or call friends.

Our new home has afforded us the ability to have lots of gatherings here. It seems like we've hosted a large group event or party almost every week since we moved in.  It's helped us keep the house company-ready, and we've been able to have friend's over on a moment's notice. Today we have a neighbor over plus two friends who came to play for the afternoon. We've taken a walk to the park and a little bike ride. Although we have some errands and a party to attend this evening, it sure feels like an ideal Saturday here at home with our kids and their friends.

I'm grateful to have come to a place of contentment at home. I'm sure being in this beautiful new home makes that happen more easily! But what I'm trying to teach myself and the children is that the focus of our lives should be on the PEOPLE around us. That is, we should first focus on God, whose presence and love always surrounds us wherever we are, then on our family who God has given us to represent his love on earth, and finally on the community around us and other people we encounter each day. The place where we are is less important than the people we're with. Whenever all seven of us are together, wherever we are feels like home!

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Roe vs. Wade Anniversary, Life and Loss

(newest godbrother, 7th baby in his family!)

Today is the day that many pro-life Americans mark one of the greatest human rights violations of our time, the Roe vs. Wade decision. We honor those babies who have died in a most inhumane way. We pray for the hurting mothers, fathers, and families who have also been wounded by abortion. We offer our prayers and our support to those who work in the abortion industry and promote this great evil, that their hearts might be softened to the sanctity of unborn life.

We also lift up those who are in-the-trenches right now...accepting an unplanned pregnancy, adopting a child in need of a home, raising children even through great hardships, or dealing with the very real issues that face adoptive and foster families. We thank those who spend their life working for the pro-life cause, those who have opened their hearts and homes to mothers or children in need, and those who minister to some of the most vulnerable in our society, particularly the unborn and the elderly.

This is what we believe as pro-lifers: that every life matters, from womb to tomb. Every life is sacred. Every life deserves respect. Every human life is created for goodness, to eventually share in God's everlasting happiness in Heaven.

(our precious friend who has a chromosomal difference that causes many parents to terminate their unborn baby's life)

For us, the past year has been one of truly recognizing the fragility and sanctity of life. Last year on this day my dear friend +Beverly+ was chaperoning a group of area youth who attended the March for Life in Washington, DC. This year we all miss her desperately as we celebrate the life of her youngest daughter.

This past year has seen many losses for my group of close friends, and many pregnancy losses in my extended circle of friends. Recently I've been praying for a distant friend who has lost her foster son of 4 years, in hopes that he will be allowed to come back to their home. I have a local friend who adopted a teen from Eastern Europe about a year ago, and they deal with ongoing issues that many of us couldn't even fathom.

Today I heard the story of a friend who had to spend a week on the jury of a capital murder trial. Today I found out a friend's unwed daughter might lose the second twin in her unplanned but much loved pregnancy. Today I found out another friend has an unborn baby with a fatal diagnosis. So much suffering and loss.

Today is a somber reminder that there is evil and death in this world. There are hurting children, hurting families. There are people who haven't experienced love. There are people who don't respect life. We are blessed in our circle of family and friends to experience the selfless love and kindness that spring forth from a people that place their hope in a tomorrow that offers eternal life. I pray that each person in our own community, and especially our own family, can find a way to bring a little more life and a little more love into this valley of tears.

"...Turn then, o most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy upon us. And after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus..."

(a little girl who has hope and joy even when faced with one of the greatest losses a child could endure)

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Happy Birthday, Cecilia!

Eight years ago today, I had one of my favorite memories with my dear friend +Beverly+, as I was blessed to be at the hospital for the birth of my goddaughter Cecilia Elizabeth! I will always treasure the experience of being there for those first moments after her birth, to see the joy she brought to Beverly and their family. I know her mommy is so proud of her, and I bet she's celebrating with immense joy in Heaven! Your godparents love you so much, Cecilia!!! HAPPY 8TH BIRTHDAY!!!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Katie Grace 22 months

Just a few more days and she'll be 23 months, but here's a little snapshot of the blossoming personality of our almost 2yr old! We love our sweet and silly girl so much!


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Aloha! Mary Clare's 13th Birthday Luau!

13 year-olds are great! They know what they want for their party, can find ideas on Pinterest, and carry them out! All I had to do was take them to Party City and HEB, help with cleaning up, hang some of the high streamers, and order pizza! 

She and Ellie did all of the baking and decorating, and she had a fun party just hanging out with her friends, plus a little hula dancing thanks to her mom...and some watching of old home movies. They made little beach cupcakes, fruit kabobs, snickerdoodle sand dollar cookies, and flip flop nutterbutter cookies, plus had some pizza and soda! It was a fun afternoon celebrating a fun girl!

And the lights literally go out on her little-girlhood!
We have a teenager in the house!
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