Tuesday, March 30, 2010

And what about MY Holy Week?

The funny thing about parenting is that you give up those all those nice activities you used to do before babies and toddlers, but in exchange, you get so much more. True, I won't be attending the Easter Vigil again, my favorite Mass of the year.  And adoration? After the last botched attempt with arranging a babysitter, I'm not geared up to go anytime soon. If I could simply get out to go one Mass without the kids, it would totally qualify as a retreat. Probably even as good as a weekend retreat.

But instead of all those things, I get the joy of teaching my own kids the Faith. The one true Faith that never changes.  Even if all else fails in their lives, they will always be able to fall back on the Faith that was passed onto them by my husband and I.  It is a true joy!  I hang on every word about Jesus, Mary or God that comes out my son's mouth- even if his theology is way off or he says he likes Mary, but he likes trains more than he likes Mary (we are working on that one!).  I wouldn't trade anything in the world to be able to be my children's first instructor. 

I don't get to hop in the car to attend Bible study, but when I teach my kids about the bible, I gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of the Bible that I wouldn't otherwise had received.  When I'm teaching my children about God, I enter into a prayer between me and God where graces flow just as freely as some of the best alone times with God.  Have you ever had one of those moments when you are reading a spiritual book to your child and you tear up because of what it means to you?  That's what I am thankful for during this Holy Week.  I'm thankful for God always giving me what I need- while I am giving His little ones what they need.

Making a Holy Week for Little Ones

This year, as Liam is about 3 and a half years old, I want him to have a greater understanding of the Jesus' sacrifice and the Resurrection.  Before I had kids, one of my favorite things Lenten activities was to attend the Stations of the Cross. Now, it always seems to fall near bedtime- during which my kids turn into one of two things- crabbypants or hyper-energized bunny.  Neither of which make for a very fruitful prayer time in a silent church.  So last year I bought this book below to read together at home. In one hilarious attempt to teach Liam about the stations of the cross at home, we read together Fr. Jude Winkler's The Way of the Cross for Children. The pictures were about the only thing that held his attention, so I made the mistake of asking him what he thought was going on in the picture of the soldiers nailing Jesus to the cross.  He said they were changing Jesus' diaper! I didn't ask him about any more pictures.
 On a side note, Fr. Jude Winkler gave me the best penance I have ever gotten from a priest after a Confession. He told me I had to do one nice thing for myself every day! I love that priest!

So, this year, we again took out The Way of the Cross for Children with higher hopes for Liam's understanding. Thankfully, Liam really enjoyed listening and following along as Eric and I went through all the Stations of the Cross.  He even asked to do it again the next day :)  We will definitely be doing this on Good Friday together.

Another book by Fr. Jude Winkler that we are reading this Holy Week is The Easter Story.  In order to keep Liam's attention,  I have to skim through the long, advanced explanations on each page to give Liam a quick summary of what is happening.  My hope is that every year I will have to do a little less summarizing and Liam will learn a little more.  On Holy Thursday and Holy Saturday, we will reread this one.

I also purchased a Resurrection kit from Oriental Trading (they don't have it available anymore). Liam is working on coloring it right now. It includes a brief summary of the events on Easter Morning, and four characters/scenes that go along with it.  I plan to plant a little bunny near the entrance of the tomb- keep reading to find out why.

On Wednesday, the students at Holy Cross Academy, will be presenting a play of the Three Trees at our church. I think Liam will really enjoy that.

Lastly, just to make sure the Easter Bunny doesn't monopolize Easter, I am telling Liam that Easter Bunny witnessed Jesus' Resurrection and now goes around to all the boys and girls' homes to spread the Good News about Jesus and leave treats :) 

I know this is a pretty basic plan for our Holy Week, but I'm sure as the years go on, we'll be adding little traditions here or there to keep the 'Holy' in Holy Week.
Do you have any ideas or books to share about how to celebrate Holy Week with little ones?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Easter Bunny

My kids and I went to an Easter Egg hunt sponsored by the JC's on Saturday.  They took these pictures for us and I just received them via email so I thought I'd share. 
      Liam was pretty scared of the giant bunny!

  Analee was even more scared. I tried putting her closer, but she just screamed!
   I guess it's one of those things that the kids enjoy more AFTER it's all done :)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Feast Day for Teenagers (and unborn children, and the rest of us!)

Today is the Feast of the Annunciation of the Lord, which is also the feast day of my college household, The Handmaids of the Lord, at Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio. Happy Feast Day!! to all my household sisters who may be reading this.

It's a feast day that has always been close to my heart.  Mary's "yes" or her fiat is something that I learned about while doing a Consecration to Jesus through Mary while in high school. I can't remember the name of the first one that I did, but it was very similar to the Luis De Montefort Consecration that I've done a few times as well.  Making the Consecration for the first time was an entirely new concept for me. It was the first time I had encountered this idea of Mary's simple 'yes' and what is means for the rest of us.  It was very contrary to what I thought becoming an adult was all about- making my own choices and freedom!

When Mary was asked to the Mother of God, it wasn't as grand as it sounds now.  Angel Gabriel appeared out of nowhere and asked this unwed 15 year old to be the mother of the Savior of the world.  She had no idea how this was all going to work out and I'm sure when the Angel said, "the Spirit of the Most High will over shadow you, " it didn't make all  her questions disappear! But full of grace, and full of faith, she knew that God had always been her protector in the past and would continue if she but follow Him. Full of humilty, she accepted what she did not fully understand and undertook what she knew would be a big responsibility.  She was chosen because of her deep humility and her transparency to God and His Holy Will.

Reading this at 16 years old was a real eye opener for me.  Teenagers, by their very nature, reject any notion of following anyone else's orders and think they are basically the center of the universe (or at least I did!).  My parents can confirm this.  But following God's will seemed much more palatable than following my parent's or my teacher's will, so I accepted. Not until much later did I realize that following God's Will was the same as following my parent's or teacher's will too.

The covenant for the Handmaids of the Lord was the reason I chose their household above other ones. FYI, a household at F.U.S. is something like a sorority of fraternity, just religious based and each has their own covenant.  Here is a little part of that covenant that I found from the F.U.S. website:

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, be it done unto me according to Thy word.” (Luke 1:38) We strive to follow the will of God in our lives as Mary did and to imitate her compassion, humility, simplicity, and gentleness so that when others look at us, they see only Jesus. Personal prayer is our foundation (1 The 5:17). We strive for unity as sisters in Christ. No matter where people are at in their personal relationship with the Lord, we want to accept them and encourage them to grow.

All the things the covenant required was something I had decided to do before even entering college, so the Handmaids were a natural fit for me. I continue to ask the Lord what His Will is for me in my life but now it is very different than it was while I was a teen. Now it doesn't mean doing what my parents want me to do; it is doing what my husband and children want or need me of me.

The Knights of Columbus have appropriately named this day, "The Day of Prayer for the Unborn Child." They are encouraging people to say a rosary today for unborn children.  I think it is a very appropriate name being Mary said yes to an unborn child when she was in a time of uncertainty. If only more people had Mary's humility in saying yes to unborn children instead of acting like unruly teenagers demanding choices and freedom founded on pride and lies (which is never really a choice or a freedom), our world would be more like Heaven.   I will join the Knights of Columbus today and pray for the unborn children and their mothers to have a heart more like Mary's.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

What's Up Wednesday

This Wednesday, what's up with...

Clay Rosaries: I'm taking a tiny breather in between orders and making beads. I've been making so many rosaries for First Holy Communicants and I just love it. The children are so precious!

Me: thankful for my wonderful family and a great husband who supports me even every step of the way.

Kids: REALLY enjoying the wonderful weather. It's our first year in this home and they just love our back yard and are discovering lots of fun things to do back there.

Husband: is working one of his days off.  (boohoo) our weekend will be cut short, but I'm thankful for the sacrifices he makes for our family.

What's for dinner: Lasagna! I've been craving it for awhile now...

Reading: I've been reading a book called Maria of Guadelupe by Paul Bodde.  It is making me really want to go on a pilgrimage there!

What's on my mind: thinking about how Mary is for EVERYONE. not just Catholics. In her apparitions, she makes it clear by her actions and words, that she is the Mother of ALL humanity.  This is really making me think outside of the box in terms of ecumenical discussions.

What's up and coming: A trip back to Maryland to do a rosary workshop for a group of 20 sixth graders.  I can't wait!

Best thing that happened to me today: filling my fridge with food! My husband has been joking about how empty it's gotten in the past few days...just goes to show how busy I've been!

Good link? Allison Salerno's Article about tomorrow's feast day: The Annunciation of the Lord. I will write a little blurb about it tomorrow, but just a head's up--tomorrow is also called The Day of Prayer for The Unborn Child and many people are saying a rosary with this purpose in mind.
BTW- she also mentioned a prolife rosary I made a year ago for some prolife workers.  I feel the love!

Monday, March 22, 2010

A Surprising Love

Lenten Reflection # 9

God's love is a surprising love. It is so unlike ours that it surprises just when we think we have him figured out.  I finished reading the lengthy reading for today's daily mass on the great story of Susanna who was unjustly accused of adultery.  She is saved by the Daniel's wise words and God's mercy.  She was saved because she was innocent.  Surprisingly the guilty women in the New Testament from yesterday's Gospel got the same treatment from God.  She was accused of the same crime- adultery.  Why did God give the two the same treatment? My Magnificat answers the question: "The Lord hears not their deeds but their plight and rescues them from their accusers."  Amazing! God doesn't look at our sins, only at our plea for forgiveness.  Could our minds be any more different from God's??  I am so quick to look my neighbor's sins and judge the severity of them.  I might say- that's a pretty bad sin, or that one's not too bad, or that sin is just unthinkable! But what does God say? He doesn't even look at the sins when the sinner has asked for forgiveness. They are forgotten- no matter how bad they are.  I am surprised by the extent of God's love when I think of all he forgives and forgets and I am reminded that I have a long way to go, especially during this Lenten season, to make my heart like His.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Etsy Finds

I just love Etsy.  I even have some of my rosaries on Etsy, but the thing I love most about Etsy are the unique things you can buy.  I just purchased this twirl skirt from my friend, Chance from Colorado. Chance and I belonged to the same small faith group and we were just starting to get to know each other right before I moved. Chance also has two kids the same as age as mine and just like me, will explode if the she doesn't do something creative every now and then. She just started an Etsy shop to show off some of her talent.  She is a wonder with the sewing machine! You can check out her shop at: www.madebychance.etsy.com

Where's the rewind button?

Today I really wish I had a rewind button for my life.  Have you ever seen the tv series Heroes? It was me and my husband's favorite show before we moved. Now we don't get any tv channels, which we are perfectly fine with :)  Anyway, we always would ask each other, "If you were a super hero, what power would you want?" Today, I really wish I were Hiro Nacomora (sp?) from that TV series and rewind time!

This morning at breakfast, all I wanted to do what scarf down a bowl of cereal in peace. Analee wouldn't have that. She wanted me to hold her, so I picked her up. Then she wanted to get down. I lifted her up across my bowl of cereal (rewind) and the whole bowl- milk and all, fell on the floor. UGH! Then later today after a very nice St. Joseph Feast Day Mass, and a Blessing of the Bread Alter for the feast day, I made a couple of rosaries to send out. I left my neatly organized bead trays on the floor (rewind) and who should walk by? Liam.  My sweet three year old boy somehow simultaneously fell into the toy box and kicked a tray of beads (hundreds of neatly organized beads) onto another tray of hundreds of neatly organized beads.  He bumped his head in the process, but I guess he figured he wouldn't even bother to cry about it because Mommy seemed upset enough! When all my beads were back in there places, 40 minutes later, my patient husband was wishing he had a rewind button too!

I guess all those little trials are supposed to teach me something. Like how to be more patient, loving, merciful, etc.  I try to look at my little sufferings as something to rejoice in, but sometimes I want to say to God, "No, thanks, I've had enough joy today!! Now, can I have my rewind button?"

Thursday, March 11, 2010

St. Andrew Chaplet Finished and Website Running!

Finally! I have finished the chaplet! If you missed the making of the purple star bead, you can see the whole process here.
Here is my description of the chaplet from my store:

The St. Andrew Chaplet is made with 15 purple clay stars. I created this star pattern that looks like a star bursting with life to symbolize the Star of Bethlehem. The St. Andrew Novena (which is included with the chaplet) is a Christmas anticipatory prayer that starts on the feast of St. Andrew (November 30) and ends on Christmas Day. Because St. Andrew is the patron saint of women trying to conceive, this chaplet can also be used as a prayer for the woman who is awaiting a child.

The oxidized St. Andrew Medal rests on a larger version of the star bead. Pewter colored glass beads are strung in between the clay beads. The chaplet is 5 and 1/2 inches long.

Comes with gift box and prayer card.

You can view the chaplet here on my website.

I just noticed this- looking at the photo of the medal on the clay disc, you might think the medal is glued to the disc. Just so you know, it's not glued, just attached with the jump ring.

I made these prayer cards with the novena on them to fit neatly into the box with the chaplet.

Also, I completed my new bead meaning sheet for my rosaries (praise God!). I have been wanted to have new bead meaning sheet with photographs of all the beads and their meanings that would fit neatly into the rosary box without having to fold it. After some late nights, it's finished! I love the new look. I was going to take a picture, but didn't. You'll just have to order a rosary to see it :)

Lastly, I have reopened my store for business. www.clayrosaries.com
So, what are you waiting for? I look forward to making your rosaries!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Lamb of God Bead

Lamb of God Bead

The Lamb of God is probably one of the most important symbols in our Catholic Faith, so I wanted to make sure I did it justice. I have replaced my happy go lucky fluffy lamb with a more meaningful lamb of sacrifice. The meaning behind the Lamb of God is so deep and rich that it took an almost an entire bible to explain it. From the book of Genesis to Revelations, God keeps on revealing the meaning behind this powerful symbol. So what or who exactly is this Agnus Dei? The Lamb is Jesus who is pure, innocent, without blemish--just like the lambs that were required for sacrifice in the Old Testment. Not just any sheep will do! This Lamb represents Jesus as the ultimate sacrifice. God would not accept any other offering for our sins. The chasm made by our offenses is too deep for any of us to fill and too wide for any of us to cross to eternal life. Jesus is the only worthy sacrifice that could fill the void left by sin and he continues to fill it at each and every Mass. This is why the Mass is sometimes called the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. We come to the banquet of the sacrificed lamb--Jesus Christ, and when we eat of Him, we share in eternal life with Him.

Here is my newest bead. I have been working on it for days. Believe me, this was not an easy bead to make! This lamb may be innocent, but it is fierce! It definitely kicked my butt!! I thought I could whip up the bead in no time, and well, it was more complicated than I thought, but definitely worth the time. I am pleased with the way it turned out.

I chose the red background to symbolize the sacrifice made. This lamb didn't win over heaven for us because of it's cuteness! It was slain in the most bloody and gruesome of ways. The blue at the bottom is a symbol from the book of Revelation. The Catholic Catechism describes it as one of the most beautiful symbols for the Holy Spirit. "Beneath the Lamb was the river of the water of life flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb" (no.1137)

Finally, the Lamb represents Christ crucified and risen. He is slain, but he also carries the flag of victory over the grave. "The same one who offers and is offered, who gives and is given" (Catholic Catechism no. 1137)

The Post below shows the process the bead went through.

Lamb of God Bead- The Process

The post above explains the meaning of the bead and shows pictures of the finished product.

Monday, March 8, 2010

To the Pure, All Things are Pure

A fellow blogger, Allison Salerno @ Why I Am Catholic posted a great breast feeding post in honor International Women's Day.

I breastfed both my kids (actually I am still weaning Analee who is one year old now) and I can tell you- there is nothing that compares. Breast is best. You can read more about why breast is best in Allison's article. I am very thankful to my mother who first led by example and breastfed all seven kids in an era when it wasn't always a popular thing to do- or even an acceptable thing to do in public. Thankfully, now we know that all that nonsense about the bottle being better than the breast is just that- nonsense. Unfortunately, it still makes many people uncomfortable- which in turn makes me uncomfortable when I am breastfeeding. Maybe it's the fact we don't always see things how God sees them.

When I think of how breastfeeding makes some other people uncomfortable, I think of this verse from the bible: Titus 1:15 "To the pure, all things are pure; but to those who are defiled and unbelieving, nothing is pure, but both their mind and their conscience are defiled" Don't get me wrong- this passage from the bible is directed right at me many times as well, but not for breastfeeding.

Jennifer Knapp sings this bible verse in one of my favorite Christian songs called Trinity. Here is a music video with Jennifer Knapp singing to one young women's interpretation of the song (a very good one).

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Sunday Snippets- A Catholic Carnival

Here is a way to share some other Catholic bloggers. It's called Catholic Carnival and it will be displayed every Sunday. If you click on RAnn's link This, That and the Other Thing, you will see other Catholic bloggers who may be interested in reading. As a part of Catholic Carnival, I choose two of my posts from this week and list them here so that other readers can get a sample of my posts too.

Here are my contributions:
1. Confirmation Bead
2. Pentecost Bead

Also, please check out this blog:
Allison Salerno wrote a lovely post on the Why I am Catholic blog about Catholic Artisans. In it, she writes about the amazing retablo she is giving her son for his confirmation. She was very kind to mention me in her blog as another Catholic Artisan. If you know of any other Catholic artisans, hop on over to the website and post a comment.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Confirmation Bead

Before I could put the finished beads away, Liam got a hold of them and drove off with them :)

I said I was going to make a Holy Orders bead, but it is actually a Confirmation bead. The symbol for confirmation is the Laying on of Hands with three rays of grace coming down from heaven. The three rays symbolize the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Confirmation is a sacrament and a rite of initiation where, the Bishop lays his hands on the confirmandi and they become filled with the Holy Spirit to preform works for the Church and grow in the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Here are the hands as I put the thumbs on them. Once the thumbs are on, I covered it with a thin sheet of black clay.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Pentecost Bead

Here is my new Pentecost bead.
It is definitely the most abstract bead design I've done. It is a symbol of the Holy Spirit in the form of flames. I was inspired to combine the two symbols of the Holy Spirit- flames and dove when I saw it done on a stained glass window.

The post below shows the end result of this cane.

If you click on the blue letters, you will see the photo enlarged.

Pentecost Bead

And finally, the Pentecost beads. Can you just picture them above the heads of the Apostles and Mary in the upper room?

The amazing thing about this bead is that the circle around the dove's head came out perfectly. This never happens to me!

P.S. click on the blue print to see the enlarged photo

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's Up Wednesday

This Wednesday, what's up with...

Clay Rosaries: Busy, busy, busy! It's the busy season and what better time to run out of beads and have to make a brand new bead meaning sheet?!

Me: thankful for a great vacay in MN, and a beautiful funeral Mass for Eric's grandmother in MD, now back to life in VA. I am also thankful we are approaching spring and warm weather- I do not envy my fam and friends in MN who won't be seeing spring until at least late April!

Kids: Liam has one speed- FAST. Combine that with clumsy and it's not pretty. At twice a day, he comes to me crying because he tripped over something. Don't worry, he gets over it after a quick kiss to the boo boo. Analee is a girl through and through. At one year, she's already wearing jewelery- or at least rosaries- whatever she can find to put around her neck and on her wrists.

Husband: never fails to entertain me. Last night he went to the grocery store with a short list of things I needed- which I had all explained to him. I even wrote a little side not next to the havarti cheese that if they didn't have that, I wanted muenster cheese. Apparently the word: muenster was too close to the word chicken and he asked for monster chicken at the deli!!! LOL! I am laughing so hard, I can barely type it out.

What's for dinner: I can't even remember. I make a list of about seven meals at the start of the week. Then I buy the groceries I need for those meals, so I only have to make one trip to the grocery store a week (with the exception for a craving for monster chicken *teehee*). Plus, it allows me not to have to think about what I'm cooking except for that one day when I make the list. but I think it's stir fry tonight.

What's on my mind: Still thinking about growing in love this Lent...I feel like I am doing all I can do...I guess it's really up to God at this point. I mean, all love comes from Him...

What's up and coming: Analee's birthday party this Sunday- FINALLY! The date has only been changed three times!

Best thing that happened to me today: finding out that sliced buffalo chicken is on sale at the deli at Giant. Guess what my husband will be doing later today? Hopefully ordering 2 pounds of buffalo chicken this time instead of monster chicken for my buffalo chicken wraps for Sunday's party.

Good link? http://juliecragon.blogspot.com/ Julie is a writer and a catholic bookstore owner and has many good things to write about and say.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Thanks for your patience!

To all my customers who are patiently waiting for their rosaries, chaplets and bracelets- Thank you! The reason I am so behind is because I have one those sequences of unfinished clay rosary work that goes like this: before I can send them out, I have to make this, but before I can make this, I have to be finished with this and that. So, I hope the wait is worth and this is the list of new things you will see when you get your rosary:
  1. A new bead meaning sheet complete with new photos of each bead- and maybe looking something like a booklet? I'm not sure on the details, but it will be great!
  2. A Pentecost Bead
  3. A new Lamb of God bead
  4. A Holy Orders Bead
After all I get all my orders out, you just may see a brand new website!