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Sunday, February 26, 2017

My Plans for Lent and an Alleluia Banner!

I've been reading several posts over the past few days at various blogs, regarding my friend's plans for Lent.  Though I love everything about this beautiful time of year, the season of Lent holds a special place in my heart as it was during the season that I was first introduced to the liturgy. Lent, and the liturgy played a significant role in my journey to accepting Christ six years ago, and continues to be an important aspect of my personal faith.

Though I am still processing and thinking through all of my plans, I do know that I want my focus to be on "Being still".  Even though I try to live my life as s-l-o-w-l-y as possible, during this season I want to be even more intentional with regard to listening for the voice of the Holy Spirit.  I have a number of big decisions to make and some habits and routines that I have been unsuccessful in establishing that I hope to settle and put in place between now and Easter.  I still have not heard specifically from the Holy Spirit regarding what I am to give up, and while I have a number of things in mind that I personally know would be worthy, I do want specific direction before I make a final decision.

With that, since Ash Wednesday is coming up this week, I did want to share a few traditions that I will be observing during this season.

Though Lent doesn't officially begin until Wednesday, I am going to be following along with a devotional from She Reads Truth, You Are Mine, which is on one of my favorite books of the Bible, Isaiah!  I didn't buy the books (shown in the link), because you can follow along for FREE on their website!  Though I don't see a direct link yet, the current study is just wrapping up so I'm sure the links to the Lenten study will be available tomorrow morning!

Tuesday (Shrovetide)
On Tuesday morning I will most likely make myself a nice breakfast with pancakes and sausage.  No one else here is particularly fond of pancakes, though Kate likes them occasionally, so I will be sure to check with her first before I decide. If she wants some as well, then we will have breakfast for dinner.  If you'd like to learn more about the tradition of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, you can follow this link.  Fish Eaters has been one of the best resources I've found for explaining the liturgical year, whether you are Catholic or Protestant.

Another tradition I will observe on Tuesday evening is burying or hiding the Alleluia.  If you'd like to learn more about this custom here is an article that I think explains it well.  I find it very reflective to abstain from saying the Alleluia during lent, as it is a more somber time of reflection than Advent, but also not speaking it until Easter morning only adds to the excitement and anticipation of Christ's resurrection. As with giving something up during Lent, it is good, I believe, to give things a rest at times.  I read this in an old journal I was thumbing through earlier this week, and though I can't remember where I originally read it, I love how it expresses the concept behind abstaining from things during Lent.

"When we retire something familiar for a season, recovering its use has a way of making it "new" for us.  It has a way of giving emphasis to what precedes and follows it.  Taking a rest from something gives shape and rhythm to life, to worship, to relationships, even to our relationship with God."

For my Alleluia this year I make a small banner that I'll be hiding away in a pretty shear white bag until the eve before Easter when I will string it from a length of purple ribbon and then hang it up on Easter morning.  I am going to share this here in case any of you would like to take part in this small but meaningful observance as well. You will find the graphics with instructions for making your own  banner at the end of this post.

Another thing I hope to do is to make my crown of thorns wreath.  If you want to know more about this, I originally found the idea here.  Though I don't remove thorns anymore, I like to have it out as a visual reminder of Christ's sacrifice and the significance of this season.  I know I packed this when we moved, but since we moved during Lent last year I didn't observe any of our traditions.

I will also be purchasing some purple taper candles as I have another idea that I am tossing around in my head, but I'm going to save that for a separate post.  I hope to post a lot this week and share my plans with you as they unfold.

And finally, I'll be praying The Stations of the Cross every Friday morning.  I will write more on this later, and I've made a set of lovely cards for that as well, so I'll be sure to post it before Friday.  My observance is a little different than the traditional 14 stations, so I'll be explaining the reasoning behind that, too.

And with that, below are the graphics for the Alleluia banner, or bunting, as some call them!  I hope you enjoy them!

To make your banner:

Click on each image below to enlarge, then right click and save to your computer.

Print each set on card stock and cut them out.

You can then either glue them to a piece of ribbon or string them with ribbon or twine by making a small hole at each end.

I plan to print my set and cut them out, but I am going to bury the letters unstrung and then string them with a pretty ribbon on the night before Easter.

~ Enjoy!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Delightful Dozen - . 07

1. The Top Ten Books to Read Before You Die, I definitely agree with most of these, especially the #1 pick!

2. The Period Films List from Willow and Thatch, which is also a lovely blog!  If you like period films, like I do, then you will appreciate these lists!

3. Archbishop Carroll's Prayer for Government, much needed in these difficult times, and with that, this is as political as this little space will ever be! <3

4. 30 Inspiring Quotes About Winter, there are now less than 30 days left, but I thought I would close out the season with these lovely thoughts!

5. The Slow Manifesto and The International Institute of Not Doing Much, though I haven't had time to thoroughly peruse all of the contents, a Slow Manifesto is definitely appealing!

6. Netflix Codes That Unlock Thousands of Hidden Categories,  I haven't tried these yet, but I am one of those Netflix users that frequently finds herself scrolling, and scrolling AND scrolling through movies and categories and finally just closing my laptop in complete frustration.  If you subscribe to Netflix, maybe these will help.

7. Making Time to Do Nothing, from the Bella Grace Blog.  Not familiar with Bella Grace, well by all means, do acquaint yourself!

8. I just LOVE these FREE printables from Mountain View Cottage!  I've got my eye on a few I'd like to print out and frame!

9. The Slow Home Podcast.  I listened to the first podcast in this series earlier this week and absolutely loved it!  Though JOY is my word for 2017, SLOW is the yearning of my soul!  There is also a blog, if you're interested.

10. Poetry Tea Time, though we were not dedicated to it regularly, Kate and I did read poetry over tea a few times during her early home school years, and while this site is dedicated to this idea, I certainly don't think it's something that should be limited to homeschooling.  If you like poetry, and tea, who says it wouldn't be a lovely ritual to establish at any age?

11. 18 Brilliant Nordic Words We Desperately Need in English, OK, well, there are a few that you might find inappropriate, but the rest are lovely.  My personal favorite, Mangata! :)

12. Attention Students: Put Your Laptops Away

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Valentine's Day, A Reflection On All I've Come to Love

This was the first Valentine's Day in 40 years that I either wasn't dating and in a relationship with someone or married.  This was also the last holiday that my husband and I celebrated last year, just before we separated, and I remember at that time thinking about how hard all of the holidays were going to be without a man in my life to share them with.  But for reasons I can only attribute to the grace of God, or perhaps the revelations that time and space have brought regarding the nature of my marriage, it hasn't been hard, not even a little bit.  

I don't say that with bitterness or vengeance, I more than anyone am shocked that I haven't grieved more or fallen into depression. I think part of the reason is because I don't have a lot of time to sit around and mope and pine for what was.  My mother's health related appointments and helping my daughter to adjust and getting her on the right path takes up a lot of my time already, and then with 12 hours of school factored into the equation it all equals for a pretty full and busy life.  But I must say that I attribute contentment more than anything else, as the basis for why I am so at peace with life.   

Since moving back to Texas I've made a concentrated effort to focus only on the day at hand and to try not to think too far into the future.  When I think about the future I can become unsettled and even fearful at times. I've been out of the workforce for 17 years, so I don't have a polished resume that makes me very appealing, and my age plays against me for so many positions because I'm not that far from the age when I should be retiring when instead I need to embark upon a career.  The separation also left me with a significant amount of debt and medical expenses that I am currently contemplating how to pay, which sadly may result in bankruptcy. It's not the way I want things to be, but due to my circumstances I'm not sure I have any other choice.  So when I start to consider my future with bankruptcy on my credit score it can all begin to look rather grim.  But any time my mind starts to wonder into those dark places, thankfully I have the presence of mind to halt my thoughts and re-focus.  

A year ago abandonment was my biggest fear, and then it happened and when I woke up the next day and the sun was still shining and I was still breathing, that was the moment that this peace, the peace that passes understanding, settled into my heart and it has not left me for one moment since. In the beginning I didn't think I would make it through the first day, then the next two weeks of packing and separating were so hard.  Giving up my home and adjusting to living with my mother was perhaps the hardest thing of all, which must make me sound very materialistic when that isn't the case at all.  But like any woman, my home is an expression of who I am and since being a wife and mother was all I had ever longed to be it was deeply personal.  My mother's house was an expression of her, and sadly, because of her problems with her eye sight and her age and ability it was a fairly dismal scene when I arrived.  But when I think back over the past year I can't help but become a bit emotional.  The Holy Spirit was with me and carried me through every day, and now a year later I can honestly say that Kate and I are both very happy here.  It's not perfect and it's not without its challenges, but it's good and I am content.

So when February rolled around and I began contemplating Valentine's Day I decided that rather than pulling the covers over my head, that Kate and I would celebrate loving our new life and reflect upon how much we've both grown over the past year. We talked over the menu and settled on spaghetti for me and cheesy alfredo for her for the main course. I added a box of Texas Cheese Toast, which we both love, and picked up a couple of small boxes of chocolates and some tiny heart shaped tea lights and we were set.  In the end my mom wanted to take us out to dinner and so we spent the evening at Red Robin, which is Kate's favorite restaurant, and had a lovely time together.  I made the spaghetti and alfredo for dinner on Wednesday night, but just gave Kate her little box of chocolates and I'll set the little tea lights aside for next year, perhaps.  As with everything in life over the past year, I don't hold too tightly to "details" and try to just take life as it comes, which has probably been one of the greatest lessons this experience has taught me. It makes life and living so much more enjoyable when I'm not rigid and inflexible. It doesn't mean that there aren't times when I might have preferred that things had played out differently, but it doesn't make the experience any less enjoyable if I just embrace what is and commit myself to it, in fact, sometimes the alternative ends up being so much better! We did celebrate with a few gifts, a new pair of tennis shoes and some clothes for Kate, which she needed, and I had specifically been saving some Swagbucks gift cards to purchase a few movies and so I rewarded myself with Victoria and two different adaptations of Pride and Prejudice.  Victoria arrived yesterday and I watched the first episode last night.  The two adaptations of Pride and Prejudice should be here next week, the one with Colin Firth, which I've never seen but hear is wonderful, should arrive on Monday.  I love movies, especially old movies from the 50 and 60's primarily, but I love period and British movies and television as well! In spite of my busyness I try to set aside time each week to enjoy doing the things that I love.  Balance is the key to contentment for me, and so I am intentional about mixing in a little fun and pleasure in with the duty of each day!

And speaking of the duties of the day.  I have a math test this afternoon that I need to review for, uck! Now there's a ghastly way to spend an hour of your life, at least it is for me!

Until then, my friends, take joy!


Monday, February 6, 2017

I Have the Flu!

It's official, I have the flu.  Well, actually, the swab came back negative, BUT the doctor said that is because it actually peaked over the weekend and I'm now on the down side of things, = no prescription for Tamiflu, which is fine with me, I'm not big on meds unless absolutely necessary.  However, if this is the downside I would think I would be feeling better, so yeah, relief can kick in any time now!  

I was ill prepared for this, so since laying around on my computer is the only thing I feel up to doing at the moment, I decided to research some "comforts" to have available, not only for myself for any of us when we're feeling a bit under the weather, and this is what I came up with.  Of course, this won't help me at the moment but all I know is that I ever feel this lousy again, I want to have some things on hand.

Congestion Essential Oil Blend for a Diffuser, 
3 drops of Peppermint
2 drops of Eucalyptus
2 drops of Tee Tree
1 drop of Lemon

This sounds lovely, but all I have on hand at the moment is the peppermint.  Still, I might try some later and see if it helps.

Super Cold Buster Tea
1 inch of ginger
2 herbal lemon tea bags
1 lemon, whole
2 tbsp. honey
1/2 tsp. tumeric
1 cup water

This anti-inflammatory concentrate is perfect for when you have the cold or the flu.

How to make Aromatherapy Heating Pads. I actually have one of these that I bought last Christmas at Ross.  It looks like a fox, and it's so cute!  It's scented with lavender and smells so good when it's heaters!  I'll have to dig it out!

NOTHING has tasted good to me since late last week!  Today I was sure that I wanted a Sonic cheeseburger, it sounded SO good!  Came home, took one bite and threw it back in the sack.  Bummer!  But this, this I think i could handle.  I love that it has garlic in it, which is a natural antibiotic and since I've also got some bacterial / bronchial stuff going on, I am on an antibiotic. Now if I can just fine someone to go to the store for me.

And to finish this off, here's a list of the Ultimate Feel Good Movies that I found on Pinterest.

- Stardust
- She's the Man
- The Devil Wears Prada
- The Princess Bride (I personally HATE this movie! I know, I know.)
- Practical Magic
- Last Holiday
- Never Been Kissed
- School of Rock
- 50 First Dates
- 10 Things I Hate About You
- Love Actually
- Forrest Gump
- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
- The Holiday
- Hook
- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
- You've Got Mail
- Bridget Jone's Diary
- Singin in the Rain
- Dirty Dancing

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Celebrate the Days in February

I'm a few days late, but the Celebrate the Days in February Calendar is available!

~ Enjoy!

The Delightful Dozen - .04

1. The 10 Most Unforgettable Afterschool Specials That Made Us Laugh, Cry and Grow Up a Little
Was anyone else a fan of the Afterschool Specials?  I know I was!  If you really want to take a trip down memory lane, there are a number of them available on You Tube, but I'll warn you, some of the episodes tackle some pretty tough issues so I would screen them before watching them with your children.  And I don't know about you, but I like listening to old theme songs, just for the nostalgia, and while I don't remember this one, here's the intro from the 1980's.  I also did a little research and discovered that it ran from 1972 to 1997!  I had no idea it was around that long!  And while we're talking about vintage children's television programming, do you remember? . . . .

2. The CBS Children's Film Festival Just listening to the theme song takes me back to another little room in this very house! I had a small, portable black and white TV when I was young, and every Saturday I would play in my room and watch cartoons all morning and then in the afternoon I always watched the Children's Film Festival.  It looks as though You Tube has a few of these available as well, including an adaptation of Paddle to the Sea, which Charlotte Mason fans might be familiar with.

3. Ten Ways to Save Money Like Your Grandma Did

4. Gardening by the Moon Calendar from Farmer's Almanac

5. Walk Slowly, Mama

6. The Top Ten Most Moving Scenes in Anne of Green Gables

7. The 9 Most Romantic Train Rides To Enjoy With Your Sweetheart 
Its always been my dream to travel by train, alone or with a sweetheart, I find something about it so romantic!

8. 7 Old School Dating Tips We Want To Bring Back

9. Classic Children's Book Quotes Every Adult Needs to Hear Again and Again

10. The Disease of Being Busy

11. Feeding Birds: Plants that Attract Birds

12. 9 Things Science Says Your Home Needs If You Want To Be Happy
Most of the time, I have all 9!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Living In The Slow Lane

I've never liked feeling rushed, and when I think back on my childhood I never remember being so.  I've witnessed parents impatiently pushing their children to "hurry up",  I've said that a time or two to my own children, but I don't remember either of my parents hurrying me along.  In fact, in most of my memories of my early childhood the days seemed as though they lasted forever, engaged in pleasant play with my dolls and books. Oh the endless hours I used to spend in books, how I would love to have that time again!

I don't know if it was because of my dad or my mom, but we were rarely late for anything. As I recall , we were usually early, and that is a trait I've carried into my adult life.  I think far ahead when I have appointments or other engagements and plan out my time so that I know exactly when I need to begin to get ready and what time I need to leave in order to arrive a comfortable 10-15 minutes ahead of schedule.  Now, before you go shaking your finger, I'm also not one of those pesky guests that arrives 30 minutes early to the the party, so don't fret!  I've even been known to sit in a parking lot a few blocks away or drive around and explore a neighborhood when my calculations were a bit off.  But for things like doctor's appointments or perhaps a movie, I always arrive at least 15 minutes early, sometimes earlier.  I don't mind passing the time reading a magazine or working on whatever I happen to have on my needles at the moment.  It's actually a welcomed diversion, an excuse even, to take a few minutes to do as I please.  I also detest traffic and being pushed along by hurried drivers. Yes, admittedly, I'm probably that person in front of you that you're tailgating and cursing on, I make no apologies, that is why the passing lane was invented so I encourage you to calm yourself down and make use of it! :)

Because I don't like to be hurried I've also developed a good sense for when I need to slow life down a bit.  Even though most people remark at my "strength", I'm going to be honest, most days I feel pretty fragile, especially over the past year. And so I handle myself tenderly at times and give myself a little grace. When life begins to feel like it is too much I don't have a problem with saying, "enough".  I'm nice about it, well, most of the time. Sometimes "life" is a little hard of hearing and didn't understand the first time, so I've had to be a little firm.  But for the most part I feel blessed to know myself so well that I intentionally create space in my day to live slow, to think deeply and to breathe.  

This is a snapshot of my bed that I took just this morning.  This is my "sacred space", where I begin and end each day, as we obviously all do, but this is my place to linger.  As most of you know, I moved back to Texas and into my mother's house last February.  So as you can imagine, it was a bit of a challenge to recreate a sense of "home" that once encompassed several rooms and was now condensed to one.  Since then my mom has graciously allowed me to move my furniture into the living room and dining room as well, but in the beginning all the worldly possessions that were most precious to me fit into this one small room.  A year later this is still where I spend most of my time and it has become my "safe place to fall", so to speak.

I manage my day by rising early, usually at least a good hour or two before anyone else.  I crave the quiet.  It may sound selfish, but I need time in the morning when I know that no one else has even stirred, because need and want are always proceeded by movement, and I need time when no one needs or wants anything from me, I think we all do?   I usually open the blinds first thing so I won't miss the sunrise, then I light a few candles before I settle in with my first cup of coffee and spend an hour or so engaged in reading.  It always follows a specific order, my bible and whatever devotional I am currently in, which at the moment is the 30 Days of Gratitude Prayer Guide which I am completing at the same time that I am re-reading, One Thousand Gifts.  This is always followed by the daily reading from Simple Abundance and on some days Romancing the Ordinary, which does not have a daily reading plan but does include a chapter for each month, so I just break it down so that I complete each chapter in that time frame, OCD that I am!  From there it's a toss up, some days I'll read a chapter from whatever book I'm currently working on, other day's I'll peruse through a favorite magazine, but I typically spend a good 45 minutes to an hour engaged in reading.  Since I've gone back to school I find this time and this reading in particular a prescription for my soul.  I think I would wilt if the only reading I engaged in all day was academic, but since that  does take up so much of my time these days, taking the time to engage in pleasurable reading first thing sets my soul aright. 

After I've finished reading is when I first check my social media accounts which is really only Facebook.  I have a Twitter account, though I seldom tweet, and an Instagram account that I rarely use. I really just prefer the platform Facebook provides, I find it easy to navigate and it seems a bit more interactive and personal to me. I also have a Tumblr account which I absolutely LOVE! Though you can post written entries and use it much as you would a blog, I use it more for collecting beautiful images and I've found some of the most inspiring quotes there as well.  Most of the time I browse through it at night, after the duties of the day are done and I'm able to return to this space and unwind.   I also check on a few favorite blogs at least a couple of times a week, and I typically  check my email as well.  And with regard to email, I was just thinking the other day that I need to unsubscribe from so many mailing lists! I receive far too many notifications from people and places I don't even know, but my guess is that at some point they must have offered something for free that I couldn't resist.  I really need to take some time one day and eliminate about 90% of those contacts because all that "stuff" makes my mind feel busy.  I have a Pinterest account, too, which I have a love/hate relationship with and have it on my to do list to purge as well.  I mean, what's the point of collecting a million recipes if you really only regularly use 2-3 of them?  I like the idea of having them there, but at the same time it all gets to be a bit too much.  Filling my mind with too much makes me feel hurried and overwhelmed. I need mental space to think and to dream and so I'm trying to become more mindful of the fact that every link I click, every thing I save is filling up space, like the 1,013 links I've saved on Facebook!  I'm almost embarrassed to post that number!  My intentions were good, and saving a link to a recipe has saved me more than once, but 1,013?  I meant to go back and read that post, I really did!  The problem is I never do, or there wouldn't be 1,013 things still waiting for me.   I need to add this to the list, "purge saved Facebook links".

And so, if you've stuck with me this far you may feel that you've just waisted fifteen minutes of your day reading about my life, but I hope not.  My prayer for this blog is that it is a place where you will find encouragement.  So if you're like me and like to live your life a little slower than most, of if you find that you're in a fragile place and need a little grace, too, then I encourage you to begin to make space in your days for solitude.  Maybe just start with twenty to thirty minutes, either in the morning or at night.  I make space at least once a day, typically every morning, but most days I'm blessed to be able to make it happen again at night as well.  But then, I'm currently not living with my spouse and my only child still remaining at home is 17.  I understand if you're married and have young children, I remember, it's harder to find the time.  But you can and I encourage you to do so.  One thing I have learned as a wife and mother and realize even now in caring for my aging mother, is that if I don't take time to care for myself I don't care for others as well as I should.  If I'm rushed or if it has been several days since I've been able to spend some time alone, I become impatient and short tempered and that's not good for anyone.  I know how early the needs of each day beckon and how quickly time passes, and the only way I've been able to slow it a bit is by being intentional about creating space in my days to breathe and I encourage you to do so as well. 

And with that, I hear movement in the house and duty beckons!  I'm thankful though, because I'm starting my day from a place of being refreshed!  I pray your day is blessed, as well!

Until then, take joy!