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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Power of Prayer

Jules here-
New life motto. An earlier version of "Just Do It"

During this Holy Week, we had ample opportunities to deepen our faith.  Many people chose to rekindle their relationship with God through reconciliation, Mass, and the Stations of the Cross.  However, other people may find this time of year challenging to their beliefs.  So many feel as if their prayers "aren't answered" or that God "isn't listening to me."  Some even wonder why "God needs praise."  Even if you have doubts about God's plan or if God truly listens to you, the power of prayer goes beyond having your pleas answered. Science is just catching up to the idea that prayer does heal and help.... so don't discount the side effects of prayer:

  • Worries Leave Your Mind- As humans, we have a tendency to overthink, analyze, and worry about everything from the weather to illness. When you pray, it gives your mind a chance to release some of your hidden anxieties and stresses.  Even simply speaking your fears and concerns aloud will help your body process and alleviate the burdens of our daily lives.
    One of my favorite Normal Rockwell paintings
  • Insight- As my worries, fears, and anxieties are put into words, I often glean insight into my own inner sanctum. I can discern my true burdens amidst all the clutter in my brain. Also, my children add "intentions" at the end of our prayers and they offer a fascinating insight into their own concerns.  They say anything from, "I pray that my gym class group is nice to me today" to "I hope that Miss Smith's kitty cat is up in heaven now."  I learn about what consumes their minds and I can help them process how to handle certain situations- I can be God's vessel for answering their prayers!
  • Perspective- When I pray, especially with my children, I try to pray for the less fortunate: the terminally ill, lonely elderly, homeless, etc.  After hearing the challenges of others, my piddly worries seem minute and petty.  By putting my fears and anxieties in perspective, I can appreciate what I truly have.
  • Conversations with Mercy- In Catholicism, God is a merciful, benevolent, and kind Father to us. He offers us unconditional love and forgiveness- our prayers can be expressions of our guilt and doubt.  When you pray aloud your sins, you can realize the error of your ways as well as formulate a plan to improve yourself (this works best in the sacrament of Reconciliation).
  • Gratitude- Some prayers are simple thanksgiving- I take a moment to appreciate that all my appliances are working, or my children are healthy, or I was able to juggle all of our activities without losing my mind this week, etc.  When I pause to reflect and appreciate, I focus on the positive, and appreciate even the daily, mundane time with my kids. I revel in the simplicity and happiness! 
    Lake Opechee, basically my backyard one block away-- I am so grateful for my sunsets!
  • Patience- When you pray, you have to wait.  It paces you to reflect more deeply on your fears, anxieties, sins, and appreciations.  You have a moment to crystallize your inner thoughts and ideas- and if you have a well-formed conscience, it can help you make decisions.  Prayer will teach you patience
    I saw this posted on Facebook the day the first house I bought fell through due to failed inspections. I was devastated until I saw that mantra-- and the next day I found my dream home :)
Are you praying for the right reasons? Are you just going through the motions while you bless your food or praying for an ambulance as it goes by? Even if you have doubts- YOU HAVE NOTHING TO LOSE!! Prayer can only help ease your own mind and cease your worrying.  Prayer is simple, can be done anywhere at anytime, and it can bring your family closer together.

And --who knows-- just maybe Someone is listening to your prayers....

Easy Rule #143- Praying for the wrong reasons might end up helping you anyway.

Easy Rule #1231- Leave your worries to God, he stays up all night anyway. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Week in Review, and vomit.

Jules here-

This month is flying by and today is my mother AND our dearest Em's birthday! I shall not reveal their ages :)  I planned for Ems birthday days ago with cards, presents, etc.- wait, no I didn't. But I will call her later today! As for my mother, my original plan was to host a lovely dinner, make a cake, and give her a simple gift.

Of course, after I bought everything, I started feeling worse and worse until... NOROVIRUS! So I am lying here in bed typing about the birthday party, and canceling the celebration.  After some glorious quality time in the bathroom last night, I finally was lying down enjoying the excruciating stomach pain, when I hear a yell from James's room--- VOMIT!  So far, girls are fine, but that means they'll wait until they are walking across my new carpet....  **Cardinal rule of vomit- 5 and under WILL NEVER MAKE IT IN THE TOILET, and THEY PREFER FABRIC AND UPHOLSTERY**
My little Irish girls
 So as I do 5 loads of laundry and lie down in between- I shall regale you about the happenings in my household.  First, we had St. Patrick's Day this week! One of the few celebrations that encourage a love for Red-Headed Irish people!! :)  My children love getting dressed in green, and this year we got to see The O'Brien Clan (our good friends) play at a pub! We all had a great time pretending how to Riverdance to the awesome music.

I also got the traditional gold coins and set-up a fun morning surprise! I, of course, have been thrift shopping so I had some random cheap toys to have the Leprechaun bring (side note, my kids don't really believe in Leprechauns but it's fun for them to pretend. James said, "I know Leprechauns are fairy tales, but I like to imagine that you are one!").  With the addition of a quick rainbow paper chain the effect was complete!

Breakfast was green-dyed biscuits with honey which they gobbled up!

My sister, Betsy, and her two ADORABLE Irish kiddos, came up to celebrate St. Patrick's with us at the pub, and little Charlie was a fantastic dancer!

We also have been loving the taste-of-Spring weather we have been having, though snow is expected tonight...  The children seriously frolicked in our backyard and were giddy to reveal that we had our first crocuses for the year!  We also have been exploring every playground in the vicinity and playing tag (which I am seriously out of "tag shape".... winded is an understatement!).

Though the weather is warm, I have a cursed syndrome called: Raynaud's Phenomenon.  It basically makes my hands go into survival mode against frigid weather. I usually wear gloves all winter and always in the grocery store. This is what happens when I forget my gloves when I am shopping- and yes, it is painful to have your fingers lose the blood to them. They become painfully numb and tingly... ouch! Come on HOT summer- I am ready!

I wasn't even in the frozen section when this happened. Ouch.

Finally, the inside-fort always SOUNDS like a good plan until clean-up time comes, and the children suddenly can't remember how to put couch cushions back and they are too weak to move small chairs. Huh. Outside play time is coming at a perfect time...
My lovely destroyed living room at 8 PM.  Ugh.
So that is a a glimpse into my week- lots of fun until we have been destroyed by this virus. Ugh. Looks like we are missing Palm Sunday Mass and watching a lot of TV today. Not my original plan of Maple Sugaring, birthday partying, and prepping for the week... :( Boo.

Easy Rule #34234- You can never have too many towels and blankets when kids have stomach illnesses. Don't throw them away.

Easy Rule #42342- Don't get cocky- the second you even think you've survived the winter without the Norovirus- you get it, and you get snow the next day just to rub it in.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Admiration Inspiration

Jules here-

For Christmas, Betsy got us a dinner time conversation game in which we ask each other questions every night.  It was quite entertaining and the children loved them (though some of the questions were WAY over James & Lissie's heads).  One of the questions we asked was, "Name one trait you would like to have from each person at the table."  The question helped us appreciate specific qualities that we admire in each of us- the kids were beaming with pride as they heard what made them special and unique.
Dinner time conversation with kiddos

Everyone likes to feel appreciated, and no matter how selfless you are- being recognized can motivate and inspire you to continue along an arduous path.  Sometimes within our busy lives, we can forget to truly recognize the qualities and traits in family and friends that we admire.  Plus, when we recognize the attributes that we value in others- maybe we can emulate them in our own life. I have so many people in my life who I admire, and tonight I will recognize a few who have traits I wish I had....
Fun Mail!!
My Aunt Pug & Aunt Shirley-  Every holiday, every birthday, every anniversary- you are guaranteed to get a card in the mail from them.  Not only that- it will arrive on your special day.  They have a magical system for ensuring all of their nieces, nephews, cousins, friends- feel loved and celebrated.  I love that my children are guaranteed to get something in the mail- because my sisters aren't exactly going to remember to send them anything (nor do I make the effort to remember my nephews and nieces either... and we have an understanding to expect nothing.... it's quite brilliant really...)

Trait I admire: Thoughtfulness
How I will aspire: I have a goal of sending at least one heartfelt letter a month to family, friends, acquaintances, whomever.  These letters will remind the person that they are valued and celebrated!
Ah the car vacuum...

My former neighbor Don- O.k. - he might be a little obsessive with cleaning and organizing- but he keeps his home and car immaculate.  He makes sure his car is vacuumed, washed, and cleaned out every week.  Don & Lisa both make sure their home is always sparkling clean, and they divide the chores to make quick work of it.  Do I think I could be exactly like them? Heck no- but I could try to make more of an effort.

Trait I admire: Cleanliness.
How I will aspire: I know I can't do what Don does, but I will try to maintain my car organization. My excuses include: working out of my car, traveling often, and having three kids- but the rubble needs to be cleaned out at least once a week.
Intellectual Converts: I have several friends (Evangelos, Robinsons for example) who have converted to Catholicism through reading, exploration of the faith, and historical research.  I am amazed at their dedication to learn about my faith and their true understanding of the teachings.  I choose to read Hunger Games and Harry Potter and they choose to read St. Augustine's work or St. Thomas More. Hmmmm....

Trait I admire: Intellectual curiosity.
How I will aspire: I am trying to tackle a few non-fiction religious study books.  It's tortuous for my fiction-brain, but I do want to challenge my faith, my knowledge, and my apologetics.
Oh, Betsy just whipped up this little Christmas display... Hmph.

My little sis, Betsy: Betsy can pick out a painting, mirror, or wall hanging that I would scoff at in the store- and yet, she places it on her wall and her home looks like something from an HGTV show.  She has an "eye" for fashion, design, and style- I, conversely, do not. I have often quipped that I could not pick out a stylish purse if my life depending on it- I am not exaggerating.  I look at the $500 Coach purses and think how much I would not want a purse with letters all over it.... I prefer the $10 Payless ones....  But Betsy can even get items from Marshall's or Lowes and create a coordinated room that truly could be in a magazine. She truly can create beauty and peace in a home!

Trait I admire: The Artistic Eye.
Being able to see how elements of a room or outfit can mesh to create something beautiful would be amazing.  I love thrift shopping- imagine if I could "flip" an item or "upcycle" some old furniture! Awesome. 
How I will aspire: I am going to try to follow and trust Betsy's advice more.  I also will try to look at more magazines, Pinterest, etc. to try to develop my own sense of style.

O.k. there are dozens of more people I admire, and I plan on either writing them letters or doing another post about them (my parents, Ems, my bro, etc.) but I have been writing this post for days.  I have been falling asleep early and I can't write any more.... 

Easy Rule #18902- Take a moment to admire qualities in your friends and family. It will humble you and make you appreciate each friendship.

Easy Rule #8790- You can always aspire to be better! Or just write about your aspirations instead....