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Monday, February 8, 2016

Meme Monday - Lent to Spread the Gospel - Mark 16:15

As Lent approaches, I'm thinking about the faith...and the ashes on Wednesday.

At Mass on Sunday a Monsignor spoke about how so many come back for the ashes. The church is full and foreheads are smudged.

The Catholics that are drawn back on Christmas and Easter also feel a pull on Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday. Understood is that the life of Christ, His birth and death and resurrection, mean something and the ashes remind us that "unto dust we shall return." Our own mortality comes to mind.

And Jesus is across that chasm, bridging death and eternal life.....hand outstretched.

He says many things to us in scripture. Studying His Word is a guide for living. Therefore my own lent will have me reading the Bible, to draw closer to Him.  I imagine all Christians agree that reading the Bible is a good thing, a worthy use of our time.  Yet Jesus direct us from those very Words we read in Mark 16:15 to then go and PREACH those words to share the faith. That...while a logical act progressing from His direction, seem much less doable. The follow-through of walking the walk is daunting to us.

But isn't that lent?  Doing the hard things and mortifying our will in this case could also be seen as adding something to our lent...spreading the faith, assuming your role in the great commission. Many scriptures from the Bible affirm that we've each been given our own gifts to use for God. Mine may be different from yours, but the exhortation still exists to USE them to spread the faith. Our confirmation makes us soldiers for Christ. We are armed, now to engage....

I'll look to lent to hone the new practice of a habit I want to keep past the 40 days and I will be recommitting to the Scriptures and sharing the faith. Our faith is needed in this world and we know that God will grace us for doing the hard things.

How will you respond to Christ's words to, "Go ye into the whole world, and preach the gospel to every creature?"

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Praying Romans 12:2 For Our Children - Be Not Conformed

A scriptural prayer to pray for our children, Romans 12:2.

Lord, set them apart from the world and form their minds to test everything, measuring it to the perfect good of Your Will.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Soundtrack Saturday - Lukas Graham 7 Years

This has been my earworm for over a week now, thanks to Jamie.

In it I hear a pro-family message ... and so it becomes a part of the soundtrack of my life.
"Soon I'll be 60 years old, will I think the world is cold
Or will I have a lot of children who can warm me
Soon I'll be 60 years old"
Lyric annotations also seem to confirm that Lukas frames his projection of his later years by remembering how much his father treasured their relationship, how he now respects his advice. Similarly, he conditions his own happiness in later life not on his successes, but instead on the depth of his relationship with his own adult children.
"Remember life and then your life becomes a better one"

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Christmas Rose E'er Blooming

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming, as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright, amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Isaiah ’twas foretold it, the Rose I have in mind;
With Mary we behold it, the virgin mother kind.

To show God’s love aright, she bore to men a Savior,
When half spent was the night.

The shepherds heard the story proclaimed by angels bright,
How Christ, the Lord of glory was born on earth this night.
To Bethlehem they sped and in the manger found Him,
As angel heralds said.

This Flower, whose fragrance tender with sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor the darkness everywhere;

True Man, yet very God, from sin and death He saves us,
And lightens every load.

O Savior, Child of Mary, who felt our human woe,
O Savior, King of glory, who dost our weakness know;
Bring us at length we pray, to the bright courts of Heaven,

And to the endless day!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Confirmation Prayer & Photos

Come, Holy Spirit,
fill the hearts of thy Faithful;
and enkindle in them the fire of Thy love.
Send forth Thy Spirit and they shall be created,
and thou shalt renew the face of the earth.
Saints Patrick and Therese, the Little Flower where chosen as Confirmation names
Breathe in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my thoughts may all be holy.

Act in me, O Holy Spirit,
that my work, too, may be holy.
Draw my heart, O Holy Spirit,
that I love but what is holy.

Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit,
to defend all that is holy.

Guard me, then, O Holy Spirit,
that I always may be holy. Amen.

Spirit of wisdom and understanding, enlighten our minds to perceive the mysteries of the universe in relation to eternity.

The boys standing by each of their Confirmation saints
Spirit of right judgment and courage, guide us and make us firm in our baptismal decision to follow Jesus' way of love. 

Bishop Francis Malooly
 Spirit of knowledge and reverence, help us to see the lasting value of justice and mercy in our everyday dealings with one another. May we respect life as we work to solve problems of family and nation, economy and ecology. 

Spirit of God, spark our faith, hope and love into new action each day. Fill our lives with wonder and awe in your presence which penetrates all creation. Amen.
God bless our children, sealed in Christ.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Chanted Rosary ~ Downloadable Audio Rosaries

A tip to share.

Load your listening device/phone with an audio rosary.  Many can be found here -->

I listen and pray along to a Chanted Rosary. St. Augustine said, "He who sings prays twice." 

There is just so much to pray for and the rosary is so powerful and scriptural....the Bible on a string.

Praying the rosary would take just about 2% of our day and the promises are compelling.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Prayers For The Graces Needed Each Day

Everyday God waits to give us the graces we need.

Scripture tells us , "Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you. For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him." (Isaiah 30:18)

Here are some wonderful prayers to pray daily.

Oh my God, You know my weakness and failings, and that without Your help I can accomplish nothing for the good of souls, my own and others’. Grant me, therefore, the help of Your grace. Grant it according to my particular needs this day. Enable me to see the task You will set before me in the daily routine of my life, and help me work hard at my appointed tasks. Teach me to bear patiently all the trials of suffering or failure that may come to me today. Amen.

O Lord God almighty, who has brought to us to the beginning of this day, defend us in the same by Your power; that we may not this day fall into any sin, but that all our thoughts, words, and works may be directed to the fulfillment of Your will. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, world without end. Amen.  (Source)

Eternal Father, your Son has promised that you would grant all the graces we ask of you in His name. Trusting in this promise, and in the name and through the merits of Jesus Christ, I ask of you 5 graces: 

First, I ask pardon for all offenses I have committed, for which I am sorry with all my heart, because I have offended your infinite goodness. 
Second, I ask for your divine Light, which will enable me to see the vanity of all the things of this earth, and see also your infinite greatness and goodness. 
Third, I ask for a share in your love, so that I can detach myself from all creatures, especially from myself, and love only your holy will. 
Fourth, grant me the grace to have confidence in the merits of Jesus Christ and in the intercession of Mary
Fifth, I ask for the grace of perseverance, knowing that whenever I call on you for assistance, you will answer my call and come to my aid; I fear only that I will neglect to turn to you in time of need, and thus bring myself to ruin. 

Grant me the grace to pray always, O Eternal Father, in the name of Jesus. Amen.  - Saint Alphonsus Liguori 

Friday, November 6, 2015

No Reason to Interrupt The Curious Homeschooler

One of the most gratifying parts of being a homeschool mom is seeing and sharing CURIOSITY.  
I love the quiet moments, like this one pictured below, when I can see my child absorbed in something they are learning.  It's gratifying because, in homeschooling, there is no reason to interrupt this moment...this IS the moment and goal.

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.”
― Plutarch

"Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning."
- William Arthur Ward

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Help Your Children Learn with YouTube

My college freshman son called me from campus to thank me! He was grateful for the time I had allowed him on the computer, specifically YouTube, during his high school years.

He used it for learning.

During his time as a homeschooler and now in college, he has found Youtube to be a resource and a part of his learning process.  (Khan Academy for math and sites to learn coding...even cooking)

  • It is an immediate assistance for the moments he is most engaged and ready to learn.  
  • It allows him self-paced learning.  He can pause, rewind and replay.
  • Its cost-effective...FREE! (And now I am seeing the ROI.)
  • It often makes the viewer a student of the most incredible "teachers." 
  • It has near-effortless searchability.
  • It can provide delight-driven rabbit holes of learning.

He/we are not the only ones that feel that way.  Studies show that most of us prefer to learning by watching and via video.  My husband fixes things around the house after watching video how-tos. I watch cooking and photo editing tutorials.
"Forrester Research estimates one minute of online video equates to approximately 1.8 million written words. In addition, 90 percent of information transmitted to the brain is visual, and visuals are processed 60,000 times faster in the brain than text. This indicates visual education aids like video can improve learning styles and increase the rate at which we retain information." SOURCE
Internet access and YouTube does have its challenges for parents.  There are very real concerns and discernment, filters and culling necessary.  But, this is a success story.  

The story starts in our first years of homeschooling.  We sat around a large round table and my laptop was in front of me.  When a question came up, when we were reading about a person, or an historical event or time period, or practicing a poem's recitation, we would gather around my screen and google together.  

  • When we are reading about a period of history and a famous character, that character can come alive to us via newsreel footage ...Mussolini's smug head nodding speech...Hitler and his heil hand that's what they look/sound like... 
  • We'd watch and hear the poetry The Charge of the Light Brigade recited by its author, Alfred, Lord Tennyson thanks to YouTube. When my children are directed to memorize poetry or Shakespeare they are assisted invaluably be hearing it done by others, even famous actors. What a context and cadence it brings to them!
  • We watched science after the other...following the sidebar down a rabbit hole. 
  • We searched new ways to explain math problems. When we had a pre-schooler that needed a few minutes to stop distracting older students, she watched phonics clips, Aesop fables, preschool power skills and Schoolhouse Rock.
  • When my children's curriculum suggests a piece of classical music to listen to I can not only play it but show them the symphony and alternate versions!
  • We've learned about life skills, watched artists create, listened to inspiring TedTalks and had priests and saints before us, sharing their sermons and biographies.
Probably a day doesn't go by where we don't utilize YouTube as a search engine.  YouTube is the #2 search engine in the world. 

Created by Mushroom Networks CLICK ON THIS to enlarge these fascinating statistics.

I started keeping a list of what we watched and used in our visual, video learning. I wrote posts about it, too.

LINKS OF INTEREST TO HOMESCHOOLERS is one of the most viewed posts on my blog.
How To Use Social Media for Learning
And my YouTube channel homeschool playlist , which I really need to add to.  When Pinterest came along, I made a visual filing cabinet of all the links and what grades and course of study they applied to....23 Pinterest boards of learning/homeschool resources!  More of my homeschool YouTube links are there.

During that phone call I asked my son for some advice I could share:

  • Watch the video in full screen
  • Watch in highest resolution
  • Listen with headsets on for best sound quality and reduction of distraction
Additionally he texted, " I believe the internet is unquestionably the most powerful learning tool in the world.  I also believe that learning on the internet builds a lot of self-discipline due to the inevitable distractions.  I don't think learning on the internet is easier than anything else.  In fact, I think there's a struggle to it, but if I look hard enough, I always find what I need." 
Then he quoted Sal Khan: " Your intelligence CAN grow. The best way to grow it isn't to do things that are easy for you.  What really helps your brain is struggle. Your brain grows the most when you get a question wrong."
And my TIPS are:
  • Model to your children how to search for best resources and what's reliable
  • Have a filter blocking adult content and a frank discussion with students old enough to use a computer of your monitoring their searches and keep computers in open, family areas.
  • Pre-screen videos you recommend
  • Discuss what makes a good video, how material is presented, speaking skills - from this practice, a lot can be learned about how to present material well....a good skill to develop in a progressively visual media world.
  • It's a tool.  There are times to pick it up and times to put it down.
I believe you can make YouTube work for you in the education of your children. We've truly found its benefits in our homeschooling. Like most treasures, it takes time and care to find the gems....but they are there ..... and the "struggles" CAN help you grow.

Friday, October 16, 2015


So we broke out of the homeschool classroom, cameras blazin' and made a run for it.

An assault of color was happening right outside our house and we had to respond.

Though the lens, our eyes scoped out our targets...and took the shots necessary.

Things are still pretty explosive out there....we'll keep our eye on it and our shooters prepped.

Ever vigilant and yes...a bit trigger-happy...

As my daughter enjoys the creative editing process, here's one of her shots ready for sharing. 

Monday, October 12, 2015

Our Final "S" Word - Saudade

Often, it seems that Fall marks passings.  Not just the leaves die, so do people. 

Many of the family member deaths I've grieved have been in the Fall.  Recently, my Godfather passed away.  My Uncle was larger than life, indomitable...we thought. He fought health battles and always won... for 15 years! 

But a battle that long wearies.

On a sunny, glorious, Fall day we buried him.  As the Monsignors prayed over his casket, my feet sunk a little into the soft cemetery earth and I closed my eyes and bowed my head.

Suddenly, in my mind's eye, his face was before me and he was whole again. Smiling. Healthy. I could imagine exactly where he'd be standing if he was watching his funeral, under the tree before us. So I opened my eyes and smiled toward that spot.  I wanted him to know that I knew he was there.  In the movies, no one sees or acknowledges the spirit watching their own funeral.  Silly...maybe.

This magnanimous man was the spark that lit the warm flame of some of my dearest memories.  He laughed and teased and gave and gave and enchanted his nieces, nephews and even in time their spouses with stories and gifts and tremendous occasions.  I felt so lucky that he was my godfather. That special connection belonged to me alone.

Knowing that his days here were coming to an end, our extended family wrote him letters to say the things that we might not be able to choke out in person, in the emotion of the moment. I wrote....

"It was about 30 years ago that you sent me a St. Valentine note to my college address.  I remember it distinctly.  You called it a “Simpatico” letter, suggesting that we share letters of coorespondence to each other with “S” words.  As always, you made me feel special and loved. 

Just the other day, as if to remind me,  I came across the most beautiful word and it connected with you…and the letter, S. During a time when I have been thinking about how much I love you and don’t want to lose you, I read about the word,  Saudade.

It’s a Portuguese word, with no English equivalent, that means…the love that remains.  Both a sad and happy word,  happy because I am grateful for having had so many loving memories of you. 

When I was little, I remember a sleep over at at your home and a day of bowling with you. I remember that you brought all the laughs with you on Thanksgiving, the room exploded with fun in your presence.  You were a reason for part of the joy on Christmas Eve’s, Sunday dinners out at restaurants with GrandDad, then as a teen,  you gave me my first work experience at your business.

So many memories, so much love.

There were River House weekends, that are uniquely responsible for the closeness I have with my siblings.  Having those times together solidified our family unit.  They came at formative years. 
Your arranging my summer internship at the radio station brought me the love of my life, my husband.  And now… your witness to all the struggles you’ve braved…these all comprise that word, Saudade, for me.  Your acts of love remain in my heart and the hearts of all who love you.  In your generosity, in your love, you have given us ALL a treasury of LOVE. 

IT WILL ALWAYS REMAIN.  Saudade, it is your legacy.

I love you so very much, dearest Uncle and Godfather. You are always in my prayers.  Thank you for loving me and your family. For your example, your generosity, your determination and constant love, I am truly grateful and blessed.  May you feel the Lord’s nearness, love and blessings.  It is His love you model to us.

God bless you!"

With Saudade, YOUR love that remains, I pray to recommit to being the 
parent, wife, godmother and aunt that God intends me to be.