Use the Right Words – How to Raise Good Catholic Children

Marcel Marlier (1930, Belgian)

From How to Raise Good Catholic Children, Mary Reed Newland

Children are always amazed to discover that Adam named the animals, and they love reading about it in Genesis.

And the Lord . . . brought them to Adam to see what he would call them, for whatsoever Adam called any living creature, the same is its name. And Adam called all the beasts by their names, and all the fowls of the air, and all the cattle of the field. . . .

It was, I imagine, the world’s first parade (the second one was that great embarkation into the Ark). So, after a trip to the zoo or the circus, or an afternoon with a pile of old National Geographics, it’s fun to ponder Adam sounding out names for the beasts. Hippopotamus is so right for the hippo — because, of course, she is so hippy. Then to discover that Adam’s word for her was nowhere near what it is in our language; it certainly shows the concern of Divine Providence about even names for animals that make sense.

No one who was not inspired could have chosen hyena for the hyena. Then, when you remind them that St. Paul sent greetings in one of his letters to “Phoebe,” there’s nothing to conclude but that the first girl named Phoebe was really named after a bird.

Geology is another means to help children develop a sense of wonder over God’s way with the universe; and it’s as close by as the stones in the backyard, a hammer and chisel, and a book from the library.

The slates in garden paths, or on the roofs of buildings, are dried flakes of what was once mud, baked for thousands of years in the hot sun.

The colored streaks inside stones all have names and stories, and the stones themselves are the shape they are from thousands of tons of water running over them and smoothing them, or being chipped off giant cliffs, or once hot molten fluid, having cooled and hardened.

How marvelous it is to begin to understand that the earth, the mountains, the islands, and the seas are all guardians of His mysteries, and yet we’re more precious to Him than all of these.

Small children can anticipate one whole lesson in the catechism, long before they’re old enough to go to school, by playing a game called “Finding the things God made.”

On a walk, or looking out the window down into the street, they pick out things that come to us straight from His hand, such as sky and trees and clouds and sun, birds and dogs and cats, and contrast them with things man has made with the gifts God has given him, such as cars and baseballs and clotheslines and street lights.

We can help them form their first understanding about the right use of these gifts by considering (when they are a little older) how wrong it is, for instance, to cut down forests of trees to make into paper, then use the paper to print comic books which not only frighten children with their horrors, but teach them how to commit crimes and disobey God.

Considering God as the source of all things, it’s easier to learn how to use words correctly, and reserve the superlatives for the things that are superlative.

I was startled to hear one small boy patiently explaining to a visitor who said she “loved hamburgers,” that “You can’t love hamburgers. You can only love God, and people, animals, too — but not hamburgers.”

Nor should one “adore” movie stars, or think new hats are “divine.” I’ve heard people demur at this sort of thing, because it leaves nothing to be enjoyed for the sake of itself, they say.

Everything has a moral attached to it, they say, and this is dull. This is not dull. And it’s particularly not dull for children. If we have grown world-weary and bored and are beyond the point of wonder, then more’s the pity, because the world is full of wonder, and it all makes sense when you understand that first there is God.

Children are secure and at home, in fact very comfortable, in a world that is furnished by their Father in Heaven. The bad things in it are bad for a reason. The good things are good for a reason, and only people who do not have the right conception of God think that to connect Him with everything is to be utterly boring.

Somewhere (Orthodoxy, perhaps?), Chesterton remarks that only people who believe in God could believe in fairies. Because, of course, God could make fairies.

St. John the Baptist said that He could raise up children of Abraham out of the stones, if He wished.

Perhaps to write all these things down makes them sound dull, but when you communicate them to children, you don’t do it by writing them down. You don’t create artificial situations for the preaching of sermons. You simply live with them, and they present the opportunities to you.

And because they’re so quick to learn and love and wonder, you could also write much more — about the things they say, and these would sound entirely hopeless on paper, because what children say is almost untranslatable on paper.

It’s more than their words. It’s the face on them, and the excitement of them, the great triumph of having discovered for themselves the meaning of things you’ve taught them. Call it what you want — a form of security, gathering knowledge, helping them acquire a diversity of interests — little by little it’s the knitting of the fabric of detachment, seeing all things against a background of God.

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“In your children you will rediscover your own youth. Their growth process will rekindle your own sense of wonder and enthusiasm. Johnny asks, ‘Dad, why is the sky blue?’ And Dad, who hadn’t cared, takes a new and longer look.” – The Catholic Family Handbook, Rev. George A. Kelly http://amzn.to/2pdfQbF (afflink)
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May, the month of Mary is a good time for your children to color pictures of Our Blessed Mother!
 
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The Wife as Her Husband’s Friend

To truly strive to be your husband’s best friend can be a difficult thing. It requires a forgetfulness of self, a willingness to forgive and a humility that allows us to esteem  this person, this one whom God has given us, in spite of the faults we see. It is a work of God….

From The Mirror of True Womanhood, Rev. Bernard O’Reilly, 1894

A story very opposite to our purpose is told by a writer of the middle ages. There was a man who wished to make a visit to Cologne, famed at that time as a pilgrimage, possessing as it did the tomb of the Three Wise Kings.

He was a wealthy man, but not a wise one. He had an admirable wife, whose worth he knew not, and whose company he neglected for that of two neighbors, who played friends with him because he was rich and lavish of his money.

As he was setting out on his pilgrimage, he asked his friends what he should bring them from Cologne: one answered that he would like a rich cloak, and the other begged him to buy a tunic of rare stuff.

He next asked his wife what he should get for her, and she besought him to bring back sense and wisdom which might enable him to see and correct the evil of his ways.

After having paid his devotions at the shrine of the Three Kings, he went among the merchants, bought the cloak and the tunic, but sought in vain for someone who would sell him sense and wisdom. They were not to be found in the market.

As he returned crestfallen to his inn, the host inquired why he seemed downcast, and, learning the cause, advised him on his return home to pretend to his friends that he had lost all his money and could give them neither cloak nor tunic.

He followed this piece of advice, and both of the false friends turned him out of doors, abusing him as a fool and a vagabond.

Not so his wife, however: he told her the story of his loss; but she, seeing that he was weary from the road and filled with sorrow and indignation because of this ill treatment, tenderly embraced him, consoled and refreshed him, assured him that God would send him heavenly treasures for the money he had lost.

So his eyes were opened to know what wealth he possessed in her true love and faithful friendship; and thus did he “find sense and wisdom from having visited the City of the Three Kings.”

“What is friendship?” asks Alcuin, and he answers forthwith, “A similitude of souls.” Where the wife labors conscientiously to be a true companion to her husband, there is little fear but she will also become a true, faithful, and constant friend.

For the successful effort made to establish perfect companionship must end in effecting that “similitude of souls,” which constitutes the essence and ground of friendship.

The reasons which will urge every right-minded and true-hearted woman to be the most delightful and constant of companions and the most devoted of helpmates, must also inspire her with the resolution of being the most cherished of friends.

She must not be jealous of the men for whom her husband entertains feelings of real friendship. On the contrary, it were wise to vie with him in showing them every mark of regard, as if she were thereby the interpreter of his dearest wishes.

Nothing pleases a man more than to see his old and true friends warmly acknowledged and treated with all honor and affection by the persons most dear to him. This, however, is only a passing admonition to which every woman who is careful of her home-duties will do well to attend.

It is not only virtue but good policy in a wife to have the sincere good-will and respect of all who consider themselves to be her husband’s friends. Not only will they contribute much to the pleasantness of the home in which they are always welcome and honored guests, but they will not fail to spread far and wide the fame of its hospitality and the good name of its mistress.

It happens but too often that women will take it into their heads to regard the friends of their husband as persons who steal away a heart which should exclusively belong to themselves, and through an unwise and narrow jealousy make themselves odious and their homes intolerable to men whom they ought to conciliate and to bind to themselves. More than one wife has lost forever the heart of her husband and destroyed the peace of her fireside by such insane conduct.

Let the young and the wise take warning therefrom, and learn betimes how a true wife can be the counselor, the guide, as well as the sanctifier and savior of her husband.

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“The Devil exults most when he can steal a man’s joy of spirit from him. He carries a powder with him to throw into any smallest possible chinks of our conscience, to soil the spotlessness of our mind and the purity of our life. But when spiritual joy fills our hearts, the Serpent pours out his deadly poison in vain.” – St. Francis of Assissi

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High School and Secret Company-Keeping – 1955, Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R.

 

Too Young to Keep Company?

 Problem:

I am 14 years old, a sophomore in high school, and I have a boy friend who is 16. We go out together twice a week, sometimes more often. My mother tells me I’m too young to be keeping company like that, but all the kids are doing it. I can’t see that there is anything wrong with it. Is there?

 Solution:

Our answer to the above question must be directed chiefly to 14, 15, and 16 year-old high school girls who have not yet gone in for company keeping. (There are many such, despite our correspondent’s statement about “all the kids.”)

It is our sad experience that there is little use in talking to very young girls who already have their “steady” boy friends.

Keeping company makes them feel wise beyond their years. Because they are acting as if they were adults by this practice, they usually feel that they have a right to talk back to adults who tell them it is unwise, dangerous, and harmful to their later lives.

We hope our correspondent is an exception, though the way she tosses aside her mother’s advice would indicate otherwise.

Steady company keeping is only for those who have a right to think about marrying within a reasonable time; who are free from responsibilities that company keeping would interfere with; and who are mature enough to recognize and resist the dangers that go with company keeping.

A 14 or 15 year-old girl in high school fulfills none of these conditions. She shouldn’t and ordinarily doesn’t want to think of getting married for a good number of years.

She should be occupied with the business of getting an education, and nothing can so thoroughly nullify her efforts in that regard as the excitement of puppy love and the time wasted on frequent dates.

Above all, she is too young to be aware of the danger of sin that is inherent in her own nature and that may be presented by her equally immature boy friend in the close associations of adolescent company keeping.

There is great need of a corps of young people of high school age who will resist the all too common practice of regular dating and steady company keeping.

Such young people must be humble enough to realize that their elders are not talking through their hats nor adopting the roll of kill-joys when they advise against the practice. They must know that while again America makes light of it, true Christian principle condemns it.

 

Secret Company-keeping

 Problem:

Is it wrong to continue to see a certain boy secretly when your parents have forbidden you to go out with him?

I am 21 years old and my father is quite wealthy. The boy I have been going with comes from an ordinary family and he is working his way through business college, hoping to obtain a good job when he finishes.

My mother and father argue that he will probably never be able to provide for me as they have done all my life so far. That is why they have forbidden me to see him.

But I think I am in love with him, and I don’t care if we do have to live on a small income after he graduates.

Of course I wouldn’t marry him until then, but if I don’t see him in the meantime once in a while I shall probably lose him.

I’ve been having lunch with him now and then when I’ve gone shopping, and I want to continue to do so.

 Solution:

Even though you are 21, with some right to decide your own vocation, there is a presumption in favor of the wisdom of your parents’ requests and commands.

That presumption will yield only to clear indications that they are unreasonably interfering with the happiness of your future and the will of God for you.

On the side of the wisdom of your parents is the fact that ordinarily it is not easy for a girl who has had all the conveniences and luxuries that wealth can provide to adjust her mode of living to a much lower standard.

Nor, ordinarily, can a girl be very happy if, in order to marry, she has had to incur the displeasure and lasting opposition of her family, especially if she has had a pleasant and easy life with her family.

Only if a girl has a strong, spiritual character, a proven capacity for mortification and sacrifice, and a great earnestness about her task in life, should she consider a marriage that will mean giving up much that she is accustomed to.

Since it is pretty hard for you to judge whether you have all these qualities, I suggest that you obey your parents to this extent: tell the boy of your parents’ wishes and commands; tell him that in obedience to them you will not see him for three months; during the three months test yourself, by rather rigorous mortification, to learn how many of the luxuries of your home you can do without; and at the same time try to convince your parents, in all kindness, that they should permit you to see the boy at least once in a while, on condition that you will make no decision to marry him without talking it over thoroughly with them.

High School Company-Keeping

 Problem:

I am 16 years old, and in my last year of high school.

My parents permit me to go out with boys only once a week, and then they insist that I go out in the company of my older brother.

All the other girls of my age have dates as often as they like, and I feel that I am old enough to go out like that too. I know the dangers of going out, but I feel that I have to face them sometime. Don’t you think my parents are too strict?

 Solution:

The chief reason you give for demanding that your parents permit you to go out freely, viz., because other parents let their daughters have all the dates they like, is not a good one.

I realize that it makes a young girl like yourself feel persecuted when she cannot do what other girls are permitted to do; at the same time, you must remember that if your parents were content just to follow the example of  other parents, they could let you find your way into all kinds of trouble.

There are too many weak and foolish parents in the world today; too many whose example would be the worst possible thing for your  parents to follow.

Your question is, then, apart from what the other girls are permitted to do, this: Should a high schoolgirl of 16 be permitted to go out with a boy (or boys) more than once a week, and should she be permitted to do so without having a protective older brother tagging along?

To the first part of the question I would say that once a week is a generous quota of dates for a high school girl who wants to get some lasting good out of her high school studies.

If you go out two or three times a week, it is almost certain that you won’t do very well in your studies, and never in your whole life will you be able to make up for that. Furthermore, I would say that it would be very imprudent for you to go out even as often as once a week if it were always with the same boy.

That would add greatly to the danger of sin and to the wasting of time in high school. I know you will tell me that there are dozens of girls who do this, and I will answer that by telling you that there are dozens of high school girls who fall into sin and wreck their characters and waste their education by steady company-keeping.

As to having your older brother with you on your dates, there is much to commend this safeguard.

High school girls and boys are best off in crowds or, at least, groups of four or six.

When young people insist on their right to be alone with their dates, there is a suspicion that they want to be free to do things that are wrong, such as kissing, petting, etc.

Your parents are pretty wise, but I feel sure that if you convince them that you are not going to permit any evil actions by any boy, they will let you go out once in awhile on your own.

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“Never be ashamed of your home or family because it is humble. People who look down on those whose home is humble and who lack social prominence are not worthy of the friendship of decent families. The most important things in life are character, honest work, humility, loyalty, friendliness, and love.” -Fr. Lovasik, Catholic Family Handbook http://amzn.to/2p90Jjz (afflink)

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Temptations – Light and Peace, Quadrupani

This is a beautiful passage from Light and Peace. We are all besieged by temptations of one sort or another. Sometimes we get confused…..did I sin? Sometimes we get discouraged….why such a battle? The following words may help you sort it all out. A little longer read for your Sunday, but well worth it, so snatch a few moments…. 🙂

Light and Peace: Instructions for Devout Souls to Dispel Their Doubts

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 My brethren, count it all joy when ye shall fall into divers temptations. (Epist. S. Jas., Cat., c. i, v. 2.) Now if I do that which I will not, it is no more I that do it, but sin, which dwelleth in me. (St. P., Rom., c. vii, v. 20.) 1.

“If we are tempted,” says the Holy Spirit, “it is a sign that God loves us.” Those whom God best loves have been most exposed to temptations.

“Because thou wast acceptable to God,” said the angel to Tobias, “it was necessary that temptation should prove thee.” (Tobias, c. xii, v. 13.)

Do not ask God to deliver you from temptations, but to grant you the grace not to succumb to them and to do nothing contrary to His divine will. He who refuses the combat, renounces the crown. Place all your trust in God and God will Himself do battle for you against the enemy.

“These persistent temptations come from the malice of the devil,” says St. Francis de Sales, “but the trouble and suffering they cause us come from the mercy of God. Thus, despite the will of the tempter, God converts his evil machinations into a distress which we may make meritorious.

Therefore I say your temptations are from the devil and hell, but your anxiety and affliction are from God and heaven.”

Despise temptation, then, and open wide your soul to this suffering which God sends in order to purify you here that He may reward you hereafter.

“Let the wind blow,” remarks the same Saint, “and do not mistake the rustling of leaves for the clashing of arms. Be perfectly convinced that all the temptations of hell are powerless to defile a soul that does not love them. St. Paul endured terrible temptations, yet God, through love, did not deliver him from them.”

Look upon God as an infinitely good and tender father and believe that He only allows the devil to try His children that their merits may increase and their recompense be correspondingly greater.

The more persistent the temptation, the clearer it is that you have not given consent to it. “It is a good sign,” says St. Francis de Sales, “when the tempter makes so much noise and commotion outside of the will, for it shows that he is not within.”

An enemy does not besiege a fortress that is already in his power, and the more obstinate the attack, the more certain We may be that our resistance continues.

 Your fears lead you to believe you are defeated at the very moment you are gaining the victory. This comes from the fact that you confound feeling with consent, and, mistaking a passive condition of the imagination for an act of the will, you consider that you have yielded to the temptation because you felt it keenly.

St. Francis de Sales, with his usual simplicity, thus describes this warring of the flesh against the spirit: “You are right, my dear daughter. There are two women within you … and the two children of these different mothers quarrel, and the good-for-nothing one is so bad that sometimes the good one can scarcely defend herself, and then she takes it into her head that she has been worsted and that the wicked one is braver than she.

Now, surely, this is not true. The bad one is not the stronger by any means, but only slyer, more persistent and more obstinate.

When she succeeds in making you weep she is delighted, because that is always just so much time lost, and she is content to make you lose time when she cannot make you lose eternity.”

 It is not always in our power to restrain the imagination. St. Jerome had retired into the desert and still his fancy represented to him the dances of the Roman ladies. His body was benumbed, as it were, and his blood chilled by the severity of his mortifications, and yet the flames of concupiscence encompassed and tortured his heart.

During these frightful conflicts the holy anchorite suffered, but he did not sin; he was tormented but was not guilty; on the contrary, his merits were augmented in the sight of God in proportion to the intensity of the temptations.

The holy abbot St. Anthony was wont to say to the phantoms of his mind: I see you, but I do not look at you: I see you because it does not depend upon me that my imagination places before my eyes things I would wish not to see; I do not look at you because with my will I repulse and reject you.

“It is so much the essence of sin to be voluntary,” says St. Augustine, “that if not voluntary, it is not sin.”

The attraction of the feelings towards the object presented by the imagination is at times so strong that the will seems to have been carried away and overcome by a sort of fascination.

This, however, is not the case. The will suffered, but did not consent; it was attacked and wounded, but not conquered. This state of things coincides with what St. Paul says of the revolt of the flesh against the spirit and of their unceasing warfare.

The soul, indeed, experiences strange sensations, but as she does not consent to them, she passes through the ordeal unsullied, just as substances coated with oil may be immersed in water without absorbing a single drop of it.

St. Francis de Sales explains this distinction so plainly and yet so simply in one of his letters, that it may be useful to repeat the passage here: “Courage, my dear soul, I say it with great love in Jesus Christ, dear soul, courage! As long as we can exclaim resolutely, even though without feeling, My Jesus! there is no cause for alarm.

Do not tell me it appears to you that you say it in a cowardly way, and only by doing great violence to yourself. It is precisely this holy violence that bears away the kingdom of heaven.

Do you not see, my daughter, it is a sign that the enemy has taken everything within our fortress except the impenetrable, unconquerable tower—and that can never be lost save by willful surrender.

This tower is the free-will which, perfectly visible to the eye of God, occupies the highest and most spiritual region of the soul, dependent on none but God and oneself; and when all the other faculties are lost and in subjection to the enemy, it alone remains free to give or to refuse consent.

Now, you often see souls afflicted because the enemy, occupying all the other faculties, makes therein so great a noise and confusion that they scarce can hear what this superior will says; for though it has a clearer and more penetrating voice than the inferior will, the loud, boisterous cries of the latter almost drown it: but note this well: as long as the temptation is displeasing to you, there is nothing to fear; for why should it displease you, except because you do not will it?”*

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Suffering which comes to us from God is best; and that comes to us through our circumstances, our surroundings, ourselves, and those we live with: these come from God, being permitted by Him. They are the warp and woof of our spiritual life. -Rev. Daniel Considine, S.J.

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The One Thing You Can Improve

Here’s a couple of very good reminders for those of us who struggle with control…….meaning all daughters of Eve!

The One Thing You Can Improve

There’s nothing you can do about your husband’s bad habits, but there is one part of the world that you can be certain of improving — you.

Oddly enough, whenever I focus my energy completely on improving myself, my husband seems to raise his standards too.

For instance, if I refuse to engage in an argument by letting little things slide, he’s quick to apologize for making a sarcastic comment.

By contrast, if I jump into a fight with him, we’re both at our worst. When I’m willing to listen to what he thinks, he’s more likely to listen to what I want.

If I remember to express my gratitude for him, he seems to put more effort into pleasing me.

I know I can’t control or improve my husband, but he certainly seems to respond well when I behave maturely. That means the burden’s on me to improve the one thing I know I can: myself.

Giving Up NET (Needless Emotional Turmoil)

Needless Emotional Turmoil (NET for short) is what you feel when you try to control things that are not in your control.

Imagine you wear a backpack every day, and inside it are all of your concerns, fears and instructions for your husband.

The first day you decide not to wear the backpack, you’re going to feel light and free, but also strange. You might miss the familiarity of having that backpack on.

You may feel jolts of anxiety throughout the day as you realize you’re not wearing it.

Remind yourself that you don’t really need that backpack, or want anything that’s in it.

Eventually, you will come to love how easily you move without it.
All of this will come from making a decision to give up NET.

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Words of St. Paul: Don’t be anxious; instead, give thanks in all your prayers and petitions and make your requests known to God, and God’s peace which is beyond all understanding will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7)
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Sharing Our Creativity

For your creative inspiration on this Throwback Thursday!

Being creative is something that we love to do here!

We all have some sort of creativity within us. Oftentimes it lays dormant because of busy lifestyles, lack of ambition, finances, etc.

This post is meant to encourage you to pick up that needle, that paintbrush, pick that bouquet for the middle of your table, get your camera and go out in nature to take a photo, etc. These things bring joy to the one who is creating and joy to the recipients! It doesn’t have to take a degree, lots of money or tons of time.

I think it is very important to bring back to life the creativity that God has given us! Don’t let your lifestyle get so busy that you don’t squeak in a little something, just a moment or two where you can let those creative juices flow! It is like therapy to a weary soul!

These past few months we have done some creating around here. I love the beauty of such innovative things and so…. I take pictures!!

Some of my girls are not creative in the way you would think of creativity. I tell you this because there are many ways to express ourselves….baking, a lovely dinner, a beautiful garden, etc. It’s not all about a needle and some yarn….Find your niche and begin your innovative path!

Here’s a picture of me with all of my girls. They are all so unique and very special! They have creative streaks, every one of them, expressing  them in different ways. I don’t have pictures of each one’s “streaks” but I have included some of them here.

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You are familiar with Virginia (far left) and her lovely masterpieces. She is like King Midas….everything she touches turns into something beautiful! Here are some of her latest creations:

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Just the other day I took a picture of her mantle…bursting with Creativity!

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And here are some sweet handmade outfits:

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A wreath and a lampshade for the newlyweds (her brother and new sister-in-law):

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Theresa, third from the left, has her own type of creativity.  She loves to bake and makes beautiful cakes for others. Here is her sourdough bread. Most of us struggle to get the sourdough right, she gets it right every time!IMG_3186

Her little family just moved and she has decorated her home and is preparing her flower beds….

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IMG_3225 IMG_3221 IMG_3224IMG_3194 Rosie (4th from the right in the picture) is the landscaper around here and she does a beautiful job! Here she is working away in the rain.

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A picture of her in the flowers and a lovely bouquet!

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Hannah (2nd from the left) loves to sing (she has a lovely voice) and she bakes some beautiful bread!

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Margy (2nd from the right) loves to paint and crochet! Here are some of her latest projects:

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Jeanette (3rd from the left) does some beautiful crocheting and kanzashi flowers! She and Virginia made the fascinators for a friend’s wedding coming up this weekend.

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I have been busy, too. Here is my messy end of the table. I clear it off about once a week and apologize for it the rest of the week. (My girls like a clean table). 😛

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I tackled a big project this winter, after Christmas. I crocheted a baptismal gown for Jeanette’s upcoming baby.  I found it hard to stick to it but I kept plowing away at it. I carried it wherever I went so I could “stitch a few” on the go.

 

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I usually have a rosary in the making, too. Here are some of my new rosaries at http://www.meadowsofgrace.com:

Oh and I forgot Margy’s other talent…..she is very creative when it comes to making people feel special:

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And last but not least, here is Gemma’s (far right in the photo) poem she wrote:

If I were President I would say,

“Do good always and please obey.”

I would stop abortions and Planned Parenthood;

So our future would look bright, and hopefully good.

Yes, if I were elected President Gemma,

I would turn things around with no dilemma.

So you watch out, it might happen one day!

When I’m elected president all the people will say,

“Oh no! There’s a darn VanderPutten in the White House!

I better sneak out of America as quiet as a mouse.”

But I’d catch them by the tail, and tell them what is right.

I’m gonna turn this country ’round, without one bad person in sight!

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Gardens are places of life, growth, rebirth. Working with plants and soil is a therapeutic experience to our stressed-out lives. You don’t have to have acres of land or an emerald thumb in order for gardening to be part of your life. Your garden can flourish in whatever space and time you have to give it.” – Emilie Barnes

 

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This graceful Vintaj necklace can be worn every day as a reminder of your devotion to the Blessed Mother! Get it blessed and you can use it also as a Sacramental. Available here.
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Beautiful Blessed Mother Intricate and Classy Hand-Crafted Kanzashi Accessory Flower for Your Hair, Scarf, Shirt etc….

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The Blessedness of Labor

GUIDE for CATHOLIC YOUNG WOMEN by Rev. George Deshon, 1863

“Why was I not born a lady?” says the poor girl who has to work hard for a living. “There are the ladies, with little or nothing to do, amusing themselves all day, and enjoying all the good things of life, while poor I must drudge the whole blessed day, from early morning till late at night, for a living, and a scant one at that. I wish the Almighty had placed me in some better condition of life than the one I am in!”

My good girl, you who talk in that way, you do not know what you are saying. Instead of complaining of the good God, if your eyes could only be opened to see things as they really are, your heart would leap for joy, and your tongue would praise Him that you have not been made a lady, or anything, but just what you are.

For the truth is, your condition of life is one of the very best in which God could place you, and it is a great privilege for you to be in it rather than in any other.

Let us look into it, and see how this is. 1 dare say you remember that among almost the first words of the little Catechism, the question is asked: “For what were we created?”

The answer to it is: “To learn to serve and love God in this world in order that we may be happy forever with Him in the next.”

Ah, this lets us into the whole secret! We were not created to be rich, to live without work, to live in fine houses, and wear fine clothes, and ride in elegant coaches, and have, what folks are apt to call, a fine time of it.

No, it was for nothing of all this, but to learn to love and serve God during this life, in order to earn heaven, and prepare ourselves to be happy forever with God.

This is the reason why the rich are so often unhappy, in spite of all their money and splendor.

They are just living for riches and pleasure, instead of to please God, and they cannot find any real satisfaction in such a life. God will never let us have any real happiness unless we live in order to please and love Him.

It is true, a rich man or woman can serve God and be happy, but it is difficult, for riches and honors and pleasures steal away the heart, and cause Him to be forgotten. And when God is forgotten what enjoyment can there be of life?

What is over and above our necessary and suitable clothing will bring but little satisfaction.

It only feeds an idle vanity, destroys contentment, and fills us with desires for a thousand things that never satisfy us when they are supplied.

We are always the worse for it when we eat or drink much more than is necessary for us; we lose our appetite, our health and our strength, so that the body becomes a burden, and life a misery.

All the money or honor in the world cannot ensure health or contentment of mind.

Then there is death, in the midst of our earthly enjoyments, always staring us in the face. Our friends are cut down around us, and we know not the day or the hour when our turn will come.

But we know very well that when it does come, we must be torn away, whether we will or no, from everything in this world which we have set our hearts upon.

Can we have any enjoyment in such a life as we have here, unless it is grounded on peace with God? Unless we carry out the blessed intentions which God had in creating us, namely, that we should love and serve Him?

And, then, think of that vast eternity which stretches away beyond, after this life is over.

How small and mean everything here is in comparison with it! What difference will it make to us when we are once in the presence of God, clothed with glory and honor, with white garments and the palm of victory in our hands, with no sorrows, sighs, or tears to be feared any more forever; — what difference will it make whether we had a little more or a little less on this earth? Why, this whole life will seem a small speck in the grand ocean of eternity.

In short, in considering any state or condition, the principal thing is, to take into account the advantages it holds out for securing a holy and pious life, so that we may come safe through all the trials and temptations of this world to our only true home in heaven.

In this view, I do not know any among the ordinary conditions of life as good and desirable as that of a life of service or of daily labor.

A life of labor has always been considered, by spiritual persons, most favorable to the soul.

To have nothing which we are obliged to do may seem very fine to our worldliness and love of ease, but it is most dangerous. You know the old saying: “The devil finds work enough for idle hands to do.” It is most true. Idleness opens the door for the worst temptations.

Suppose you had pretty much all your time to do what you pleased with, how likely it is that a great part of it would be misused! Habits of idleness would be formed, your time would hang heavy on your hands, and you would not know what to do.

You would seek for amusement: you would soon be altogether taken up with it, and your whole life would become one given up to the world and to wickedness. You would indeed stand a great chance of going straight down to perdition.

The labor of the hands is, then, a source of blessing. It furnishes a great help to spending life in innocence. It fills up our time with holiest industry, while it leaves the soul free to raise itself from time to time to God.

The labor of the hands is not like that of the head. Head work fills the mind, and takes up its attention, but hand work leaves the mind in a great measure free.

St. Anthony was taught this by an angel from heaven. One day when he felt tired by uninterrupted prayer, and unable to continue it, he grieved over it before the Lord, and begged to be instructed how to get over this trouble, which was a hindrance to his salvation.

After his prayer he went out of his cell, and saw a person, the exact image of himself, seated at work making mats out of palm leaves. The saint perceived it was an angel who took this form and acted in this manner to make him understand how, by going from work to prayer, and from prayer to work, he could cheerfully and surely work out his salvation.

The old hermits of the desert all understood this. They did not dare to be idle, but made baskets, cultivated the ground, spent all their time in labor or prayer, and so worked out their salvation in the utmost security.

We cannot have the life of these old hermits of the desert over again nowadays, but, outside the wall of the convent, whose life is most like theirs?

That of the good girl who earns her own living at service, or at some other honest employment. She it is who enjoys, more than any others that I know of, the advantages which these old saints coveted so much — who can spend her days in work and prayer, and thus keep off the evil one, and work out her salvation with comparative ease.

Do not then complain of labor, but rejoice, and thank God that He has given you not a life of idleness, but honest and continual labor. Tt is a very great favor of His love, as you will see, when this body of the flesh falls away, and you stand on the other side of eternity.

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“A man wants a woman who will place him at the top of her priority list, not second but first. He does not expect his wife to neglect important duties in his behalf. He is aware of the demands of her life and wants her to give each responsibility the attention it requires. He does not want his children to suffer neglect. And he knows she is entitled to other interests and diversions. But, he doesn’t want to be less important.”

Helen Andelin, Fascinating Womanhood 

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CATHOLIC HEARTH STORIES!

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We often don’t realize the impact of those lessons, those Catholic lessons, that are taught each day to our children. It is so much worth the effort! The signs of the crosses, kneeling to say prayers, dipping fingers in holy water, laying fresh flowers at the statue of Our Lady, etc., etc. These are gold nuggets that will live on in your children’s lives. This is building Catholic Culture!

The following two books are to help you parents with those little things…..They are story books from my new little series, “Catholic Hearth Stories”. I wrote them especially for my grandchildren….and am sharing them with yours.

Catholic Hearth Stories are tales filled with traditional, old-fashioned values. They are about everyday situations in the life of a Catholic family…Tales about home, friends, fun, sacrifice, prayer, etc. These are full-color books sure to capture the heart of your children.

Each book is about 35 pages of full-color pictures that tell a lovely Catholic story. The ages they are appropriate for are approximately 4 – 12 years.

Celine’s Advent: Take a walk through Advent as Celine and her family prepare for the coming of the Baby Jesus at Christmas! You will enjoy celebrating the beauty of the season with Celine as she helps her mom with the special traditions and activities that make the liturgy come alive in their home! Her “peanut gallery” consists of a mouse named Percy and some charming and delightful Christmas Angels! They are sure to capture your heart!

Joseph and the Bow Shoot: Meet Joseph, a Catholic boy who wants to enter the Parish Bow Shoot but doesn’t have a bow. How does he overcome this obstacle and what lessons does he learn along the way?

Two Tea Parties and a Sacrifice: Meet Agnes, a fourteen-year-old Catholic girl, who is challenged to make a sacrifice. Will she cheerfully accept what she knows is God’s will in this situation?

Brendan, The Seafarer: It’s Brendan’s birthday and he is fighting pirates, steering ships and wielding swords! He learns of St. Brendan, the Navigator and the pious Christopher Columbus. Life is a nautical adventure for him! Will his daydreaming cause him trouble? What lessons does he learn?
There is a “peanut gallery” in this book….a turtle named Ollie and a seahorse named Sherman and other sea creatures that make their appearance now and again and have their own chats among themselves!

Available here.

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you kindly for your support!

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Tidbits for Your Day VI – Emilie Barnes

Emilie Barnes gives us motivation to create beautiful surroundings, which inspires our minds to have beautiful thoughts. The effects of these thoughts can’t help but flow out onto those we love, causing a domino effect of loveliness. 🙂

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A little extra attention to your surroundings can make a big difference in how you feel. What colors lift your spirits? What kind of music makes you feel energetic or peaceful? Do any particular fragrances give you a sense of contentment or remind you of fun times?

Are any visual symbols especially meaningful to you? Maybe a flower, the face of a child, and a special book from a friend?

Do any scriptures or quotations stick in your mind? Are you getting the idea?

By surrounding yourself with color, music, fragrances, and things that appeal to you, you are lifting your spirit. When hope is all around, it’s hard to ignore.

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Any room where you work is a room that needs a dose of joy and motivation.

Why do so many workrooms look gray and drab? Why not get a bright-red computer? You need function, of course, but add a little beauty too.

Paint your workroom a bright or soothing color. Hide the clutter in festively decorated boxes or baskets or behind colorful drapes. Deck the walls.

Have a collage of work-related cartoons or inspiring quotes.

Give everything a facelift. You’ll be surprised at what a difference a beautiful work space can make in your creativity and production.

Caution: Don’t redecorate someone else’s work space without checking with him or her first.

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Have you thought of your family photos as a collection?

One of my tables held photos of many generations of women in our family. I displayed them in a variety of frames, and the mother-daughter-granddaughter theme pulled the collection together. No one could resist stopping and taking a peek.

Group as black-and-white photos or formal or informal in groups.

Another idea is to keep the same frames but change the photos for the seasons.

If you have a ton of photos, rotate them so you can enjoy your entire collection. And for a designer touch, add a surprise to your grouping-something that doesn’t “match,” such as that silly picture of your Aunt Lily. The idea is to share yourself with others in a way that is interesting.

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Are you reluctant to share your home with others? Maybe it’s not your dream house or you don’t have the money right now to decorate the way you’d like to. But you know what? It’s not about having a perfect home. It’s about your spirit of hospitality, your willingness to share your home and your life with others.

Don’t wait until everything is perfect because that will never happen. Focus on making your home cozy and comfortable. Your place will always be at its most beautiful when you use it to warm hearts.

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Making time for your husband doesn’t have to be difficult or a hassle. With a little imagination and the desire to make him happy, you can make him feel loved.

Are you thinking, Oh great, now Emilie’s telling me what I’m doing wrong with my husband.

Not at all! I just want to give you a few ideas to help you let your husband know he’s appreciated.

-When he’s within earshot, praise him to a friend or neighbor.

-Thank him for supporting you.

-Tell him how much you love him at least once every day.

-Get tickets for a favorite sporting event.

-Prepare his favorite dinner to celebrate a milestone at work-or just for fun.

We all need respect and devotion. As a wise woman of God, demonstrate these qualities to the man you love.

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Words of Wisdom, Don’t ever forget them: 😀

“Grandmas and cookies can go a long way to mending a wounded heart.”

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BOOK REVIEWS!

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The Valiant Woman

by Monseigneur Landriot, Archbishop of Rheims,
Translated from the French by Helena Lyons

“Long out of print, this rare jewel is destined to become the favored spiritual guide for Catholic wives and mothers. Msgr. Landriot gave these conferences over 100 years ago, but they are as relevant to us today as the Gospels. This book is a guide for women who want to achieve sanctity in the home. Reading this book is the best thing you could do for your husband and children, as well as for yourself. This book was published to help women to raise and keep their families Catholic.” – Loreto Publications

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Sins of the Tongue or Jealousy in Woman’s Life

by Monseigneur Landriot, Archbishop of Rheims,
Translated from the French by Helena Lyons

“This book consists of fifteen discourses (four on Sins of the Tongue, three on Envy and Jealousy, two on Rash Judgments, two on Christian Patience, and four on Grace) that were originally talks given to laywomen of his diocese in the late 19th century. At the beginning the good Archbishop says “I propose, my children, to give you some instructions on the tongue, and the faults which it causes us to commit. I shall commence today by speaking of the power and beauty of that organ, of the noble use which ought to be made of it, and of the many advantages we may derive from it.” There is precious little teaching on the topics covered in these instructions which is accessible to the average man and woman of today.”  Loreto Publications

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Download the Finer Femininity App on your Android or Iphone today! Thank you Ocean Star Apps! http://www.oceanstarapps.com

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For great books for the young people, visit My Book List for the Youth!

 

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The Question of Love – Cana is Forever

From Cana is Forever by Rev. Charles Hugo Doyle

Since so much depends on love for abiding happiness in marriage, it stands to reason that a comprehensive understanding of what real love is takes on paramount importance.

There is nothing so misunderstood and no word so abused as the word “love”. Little boys and girls “love” candy; women “love” mink coats; trees in every village and in every lane have “love” carved in their bark, and fences on every back street proclaim that A.B. “loves” C.D., while recapped Romeos whisper it gently and its magic is supposed to make liberties righteous.

Ignorance of the development of love, as well as the multitudinous forms love takes, makes for the misunderstanding of it.

A great many people imagine that all children are born with an innate love for their parents and their immediate family; that, later, puppy love develops; and finally that they will quite naturally go through the process of dating, courting, and then marry.

Would that it were quite so simple!

Under the most favorable conditions everyone’s love life develops through five stages.

The first stage comes in infancy when, as Dr. Vladimir G. Eliasberg, a psychology professor at Rutgers University, says, we begin by being narcissistic–that is, lovers of ourselves.

Next comes our love for our Parents–then a love for our playmates–then a crush on a companion of the same sex (for example, a girl’s crush on her teacher)–finally, as teen-agers, we show the usual interest in the opposite sex, with thoughts of finding a life mate and marriage.

During any one or all of these stages, external forces may hinder or help the growth of love. Let us examine some of these hindrances or helps in detail.

For instance, in the first stage of narcissism, a child in the normal home learns to depend upon its parents and finds it easy to transfer some of its love from itself to its parents.

In those homes, on the other hand, where the child is definitely not wanted and lacks love, that child is a cheated individual and because he is not loved he refuses to love in return.

In order to acquire a fine personality, a child must feel himself a worthy and wanted member of the family. A child needs to feel secure. Without security he is cheated, and a cheated child is a future delinquent.

Parents who really love one another and who are considerate of one another and avoid harshness naturally provide the best background for the child’s security.

The shrewish, nagging, domineering mother will stunt the growth of a child’s life.

The proud, arrogant, sawdust-Caesar-like father, who rules his home with dictatorial edicts, will set a pattern for his child’s later love life.

Knowingly or unknowingly, we become like those with whom we live and associate.

Another extremely important matter in the growing love life of a child is the proper attitude toward sex. The vast majority of children will grow up, choose a mate, and find in marriage the fulfillment of a real vocation.

How successful this venture will be will depend upon a sensible sex education in the home.

Growing up in a home where there are condemnation and embarrassed looks when the child asks the normal questions about sex and questions concerning life’s beginnings, as if it were something terribly unclean and sinful, tends to make of it a personality problem.

Curiosity is merely whetted by such mid-Victorian attitudes and the child will seek information elsewhere.

Parents actually warp a child’s sex life by their attitude of evasion or embarrassment when sex is mentioned.

It suffices to say here that the best Catholic authorities assert that parents should avoid the extremes of prudishness on one hand and vulgarity of detail on the other.

Pope Pius XI, in the Encyclical letter “On Christian Education of Youth,” pointed out the duty of parents to instruct their sons and daughters in sex matters when they are requested to do so by their offspring.

Sex questions should then be answered directly and reverently.

The way in which parents handle this problem may affect their children and their children’s children for generations.

Still another way the love life of a child or teen-ager may be permanently affected is that by which a selfish mother or father resents sharing the child’s affection with friends and playmates.

A mother who emotionally ties a child to her apron strings does that individual a great injury. Obstacles placed in the way of a child’s development in normal friendships can later turn out to be a real booby trap.

Parents should endeavor to develop in their children, from early years, a wide range of friendships with other children of both sexes.

The mother who boasts that she is her “son’s best girl” and who is eternally berating all girls as flirts, and who, to her daughter, pictures all men as “wolves,” does her offspring a disservice.

The teen-ager’s normal adjustment may be impaired or irreparably damaged by such conduct.

Let us now consider some of the different manifestations of love.

There is, as we all know, such a thing as a deep love of country; there is the love in friendship such as that which existed between Jonathan and David and between Our Lord and Saint John; there is filial love such as exists between a child and its parents; there is romantic love such as exists between two lovers; and nuptial love–that which exists between a man and his wife.

Common sense tells us that in each of the above cited examples, the love is different.

For instance, the simpler love in friendship is more or less restricted in external expression, for while there is genuine esteem and deep regard, we do not kiss or fondle all our friends.

Again, the love that exists between members of the family, while much more demonstrative, has definite natural limits.

A mother will have as deep and abiding a love for her child as she has for her husband, but the difference lies in the fact that her love for her husband is flavored by sexual attraction.

The romantic lovers will love their parents, brothers, and sisters, but the love between themselves is the sexually flavored variety. And sexual attraction is a normal, natural, healthy desire, created by God Himself, without which few men and women would desire to marry and have children. Frankly, without sex attraction the human race would soon die out.

A deep understanding of the different kinds of love will keep parents from making the mistake of resenting the romantic love of sons and daughters. The new love will not extinguish filial love, it will strengthen it.

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“Our words do more than just make our children feel good. Our words can make them feel like somebody who can accomplish great dreams or like a nobody who is destined to be a loser.”
“Affirming words from Moms and Dads are like light switches. Speak a word of affirmation at the right moment in a child’s life, and it’s like lighting up a whole roomful of possibilities.” – The Power of a Woman’s Words

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Make a statement with this lovely and graceful handcrafted apron….fully lined and hand-embroidered! Aprons tell a beautiful story…..a story of love and sacrifice….of baking bread and mopping floors, of planting seeds and household chores. Wear your apron with joy….it is a symbol of Femininity….”Finer” Femininity! 🌺 💗 For Sale here.

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A Tribute to Mothers

“A mother will never desert her boy. For she loves him with a love that is as strong and deep as life itself.”

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A Tribute to Mothers by Rev. John A. O’Brien, 1953

By universal proclamation our nation has added another memorial day to her calendar – Mother’s Day.

It is a day on which we pause to pay the tribute of our love and reverence to our mothers if living, to their memory if dead. It is eminently fitting that we should thus pause for a brief moment in the turmoil of life to give explicit expression to sentiments which have been latent in the hearts of each of us throughout all the days of the year.

It is good psychology to give fitting expression to such sentiments. For instead of allowing them to wane, we thereby strengthen and intensify them.

Such considerations are, moreover, wholesome and salutary for us because they render us more clearly conscious of the debt we owe our mothers.

“Motherhood,” says Frederick A. Stowe, “is the Gethsemane of nature.”

When the child is born the mother begins to die—die for the new life dearer than her own, die in service for another, die in dreams of peaceful valleys she shall not enter, die upon battlefields whose shouts of victory she shall not hear.

No sacrifice for the young is begrudged by the mother. Toward the sun of a new life, all nature turns. The springtide bursts with prodigality but there is not a drop of sap for the autumnal leaf. At the meridian declination begins. Reproduction is the inexorable ambition of the material world.

“In its spiritual aspects, motherhood is isolated because it is great. There is no speculation as to mother’s status. Conceded eminence is as lonely as some crag which lifts its head above the fugitive clouds and defies the furious winds below.

Youth loves to dwell in the warm valleys of patronage. It is eager for adventure and the conquests of blood. It rushes toward prospects and is ever willing to take a chance.

Reflection is the fruit of maturity. We do not begin to bear sense until passions are spent, and Time, which is a strict accountant, demands an audit.”

Various Kinds of Love

There are various kinds of love on this earth. There is the love of a friend for a friend, of a chum for his chum.

It is a beautiful sentiment and one which all the world admires. But friends fall out at times; the love cools and even turns to hatred.

There is the love of sweethearts. It is beautiful and tender and sweet. But sometimes the fancy changes, the romance fades, and sweethearts part.

There is the love of husband and wife, tender true and sanctified by divine grace. But the world witnesses at times the separation even of husband and wife, the pitiful tragedy of a broken home.

Then there is the love of a mother for her child. It is the climax of all human love – as strong as the great rugged Alpine Mountain peaks, as tender as the breath of an angel, as infinite as the measureless waters of the ocean, as changeless as the stars that shine eternally in the skies.

Friends may fall out, the romance of sweethearts may fade, husband and wife may separate, but a mother will never desert her boy. For she loves him with a love that is as strong and deep as life itself.

Aye, it seems to rise above all human love, and to burn with a spark that was caught from the flame of the love that is eternal and divine–the love of God for man.

I like to think that God has given us a foreshadowing and a foretaste of His own infinite love for human souls in the love He has planted in a mother’s breast.

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From the Prayer Book Precious Blood and Mother:

There are soft words murmured by dear, dear lips,
Far richer than any other;
But the sweetest word that the ear hath heard
Is the blessed name of “Mother.”

O magical word! May it never die,
From the lips that love to speak it.
Nor melt away from the trusting heart,
That even would break to keep it.

Was there ever a name that lived like this?
Will there ever be such another?
The Angels have reared in Heaven a shrine
To the holy name of “Mother.”

 

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My thoughts: Happy Mother’s Day to Mothers Everywhere…..to mothers who give and give and then give some more. It is what we were made for, it is what we live for and it will be what we die for. Once a mother, always a mother. We watch them come into the world, we nurture them, try to solve their problems, and then watch them as they leave and embark on their own journeys.

We pray for them, we hurt for them, we rejoice for them. Whether they are near or far, our hearts are entwined with theirs. It is bittersweet…..more sweet than bitter!

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Mother Songs: This first video was the song for our Mother and Son Dance at my son’s (Colin’s) wedding. It has beautiful words and brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it. 🙂 The other song is beautiful, also. A Mother’s song by Celtic Thunder.

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“For years, while raising children, a mother’s time is never her own, her own needs have to be kept in second place, and every time she turns around a hand is reaching out and demanding something. Hence, a mother raising children, perhaps in a more privileged way even than a professional contemplative, is forced, almost against her will, to constantly stretch her heart.” -Fr. Rolheiser, OMI

 

 

 

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