Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Dear Not-So-Good Mom

Keri from Living in this Season asked me to guest post for her today.  She wanted a letter to a mom. So head over there to see what I wish some knew and could rest assured with, especially myself! From one "not-so-good" mom to another...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Ten Virtues of Mary: Divine Wisdom

This post is part of a series on the Ten Virtues of Mary, hosted by To the Heights and running every Tuesday until the middle of December. So if you need some help in the virtue department, here's a great place to start ;)

Well, it's my turn.  To be quite honest, I am not the perfect person for this post. In fact, I'm lacking in each of these virtues, but Divine Wisdom?  Gosh, I pray for it.  But I don't think I will ever feel "there."  However, I don't believe we should.  Breaking down this virtue, Webster tells us this:

Divine: 1) relating to, or coming from God or a god. 2) very good.

Wisdom: 1) knowledge that is gained by having many experiences in life.  2) the natural ability to understand things that most other people cannot understand.  3) knowledge of what is proper or reasonable; good sense or judgement.

Mary was the mother of Wisdom.  Truly, she carried and gave birth to the Son of Man, sometimes referred to as Eternal Wisdom.  God prepared her from her conception to carry His Son, and in doing so, she was blessed with a gift of wisdom that none but Jesus will ever truly know.  But being Mary shouldn't be our goal.  We will never be.  Our goal, however, should be to imitate her in every way we can, every second of the day.

What strikes me most about the definition of wisdom is the idea that it comes only from experience.  Mary experienced it all.  She was an unwed, pregnant teen in a time when that typically called for death.  She planned to marry Joseph, yet I don't know that she ever planned to be the Mother of God.  From the moment of Gabriel's announcement (and truly, long before) her life was no longer her own.  Before Jesus was even born, there were threats against His life.  And that was a short one.  Mary thought she lost him once.  She knew that her heart would be pierced because she had said yes to God.  In the end, she watched - only watched - as her son was betrayed, ostracized, and brutally beaten.  She watched as he carried his own instrument of death.  She watched as he was nailed to a cross, knowing he was guilty of no crime.  And, she watched as her only son struggled to breathe and finally asked for the forgiveness of his perpetrators before he took his final breath.  She could not comfort Him.  She could not take his place.  She could not take any of His pain on her shoulders.  She could only watch as He bore it all...for you and for me.

She could not do it because she knew - in her wisdom - that God had a plan.  In that plan instead of sparing her grief as a mother watching her only son suffer and die, God used her, and her experience, to save us from a pit of unending pain and suffering.

She gave up her life in order to live one through Him.  In her "yes" to God, she became a living example of His will.  In her divine wisdom, she gave to God what was rightfully His for His doing...her very life.

How much do we do this?  Do we give ourselves completely to God?  How often are our wills aligned directly with His?  If I'm answering, I think my true answer is this: some times.  There are days when I'd like to think my will is His will.  But, it's during those times when I also typically convince myself that I need a lot more things that I really do...that I'm not truly doing something for any prideful affirmation but because I feel called to...that God would surely justify my unloving actions as I categorized them: justice (not mercy).  Wrong.  This isn't allowing God's will to work through me.  It is forcing my will on Him and calling it His.

I remember vividly making specific decisions when I was younger.  They were important ones to me at the time such as which college I would attend, which career path I would take, which job I would accept, etc.  In each of these decisions, I remember fretting immensely.  I would call everyone I knew that might have knowledgeable input.  I would make a list of the pros and cons.  I would cry.  I would lose sleep.  I would go back and forth and finally, in the case of college, overnight a decision on the day before my answer was due.  Then, I would worry some more.  I would even play the "what if" game after a decision had been made.  Finally, my mom asked if I had prayed.  Yes.  She then said, "Trust in His will.  He opened this door and led you here for a reason.  It is His plan."

My problem was when the first mishap would arise.  That mishap was seen as a "sign I had made the wrong decision."  I had no true trust in Him.  Had I, I would have known that wisdom comes from experience, and His will for us does not always mean sunshine and roses.  Sometimes it means learning lessons.

This is where Mary and her divine wisdom comes in.  She simply said, "yes."  And, she lived it.  To the joys, the sufferings, the responsibility and the agony, she said, "yes."  God has given her to us as Our Mother to help us say, "yes" too!

When experiences come our way that we don't feel we deserve, let us say yes.  When God takes something from us and we question that taking with every fiber of our being, let us say yes.  When we feel unloved, unwanted, and even uncool, let us say yes.  When the weight of the cross He has asked us to bear seems like it will take our very life, let us say yes.

And let us remember that if in Her place, we would have probably cried out that our Son was innocent, ripped the cross from our Son's shoulders, and given our own life to take away the slightest pain in Him.  In those moments, instead, she was silent, and in her silence she said, "Yes."

Mary, Mother of God, in your wisdom, mother us.  Help us understand that our crosses are for our gain, and pray that we receive these experiences in life with open arms, understanding that we will only grow closer to Him if we let Him have complete control of every minute of our lives.

Lord, give us wisdom.

For the rest of the series, please visit these blogs:

October 7 - An Introduction to the Ten Virtues of Mary - Olivia of To the Heights
October 14 - Lively Faith - Molly of Molly Makes Do
October 21 - Blind Obedience - Kendra of Catholic All Year
October 28 - Constant Mental Prayer - Jenna of Call Her Happy
November 4 - Heroic Patience - Kelly of This Ain't the Lyceum
November 11 - Profound Humility - Carolyn of Svellerella
November 18 - Angelic Sweetness - Regina of Good One God
November 25 - Divine Wisdom - Britt of The Fisk Files
December 2 - Universal Mortification - Abbey of Surviving Our Blessings
December 9 - Divine Purity - Gina of Someday Saints
December 16 - Ardent Charity - Christy of Fountains of Home
December 17 - Massive GIVEAWAY at To the Heights - Just in time for Christmas

Monday, November 24, 2014

Through a Child's Eyes - Finding Joy

Last week we had our first snow.  It came in the night, and we had some excited little boys the next day.  Once the sun came out, they begged to be bundled up to go out.  As is typically the case, it took fifteen minutes to find all of the gear and get everyone suited up, and three minutes later, two boys were back inside ready to take it all off again.  However, Carter stayed out.  So, I thought I'd sneak around the back and see if I could catch a couple of shots of him without him knowing...

His joy.  His pure joy.  He was all alone outside - one who tends to enjoy the company of his brothers - and yet, he was taking it all in.  Alone.  As I watched him, I quickly realized that it's been awhile since I've experienced that joy.  Don't get me wrong...there are things the kids do every day that remind me of what miracles we are blessed with.  My heart swells, and I become more and more vulnerable with each minute I love them more.  Seeing their daddy love them is one of the most beautiful parts of my days, too.  Those things are my favorite joy.  

However, I think these photos illustrate the heart of a child in a way words cannot.  They see pure beauty for exactly what it is...a source of joy.  Carter didn't have to have anyone there to push him toward having more fun.  He didn't need anything to accompany this moment.  He was just there...fully present...with the beauty of a gift received.  And, he welcomed that accompanying joy with wide open arms.  

Then, he saw me.

And he let Amos and me in on his fun, with a few snowballs tossed toward the both of us.

He didn't want to go in.  He was loving it, even with his snow-soaked pants and frozen little toes.

He eventually did, and was welcomed with hot chocolate "swimming with marshmallows."

His excitement, over what some may see as a ordinary thing (me often included), reminded me of the choices I have each focus on the ordinary or to find the extraordinary in it.  This moment - seeing my baby smiling from ear to ear - is a perfect precursor for the season of Advent ahead.  In the midst of the craziness that surrounds the Christmas season, the image of Carter in the snow will daily remind me to slow down...our lives, our hearts and our order to truly see the joy in the gift we will soon receive.

I hope it's a blessed one for you!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Boys Riding with Elley

"Horshee.  Horshee.  Horshee."  All day long from John Paul.  Then he'll add to it with a little "I wide horshee?"  

Since some of the weaned calves have been on this little place, everyone typically starts here in the mornings.  On this particular morning, there was a little time afterwards, and sweet Elley asked the boys if they wanted to ride.  John Paul jumped at the chance.

He was upset that his turn was over.
 Peter was next in line.

And, Carter was a bit busy looking for bugs with Amos (how about this well-tended area?!).

Finally, he decided he wanted to ride (he isn't the biggest horse lover), and he thought his hat would scare Cap (the horse), so he asked if I'd wear it, and my sweet husband got a picture ;)

Captain aka "Cap" was an orphan.  His momma died after having him, and my mom (Elley) got to raise him.  So, he's pretty close to all of our hearts, and he's good with the kids.  Something hard to find these days.  They don't ride very often, but it's a fun treat when they do get to.  

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My First Pie: Apple

A sweet friend gave us a ton of apples a few weeks ago.  I used most of them for these...

Then I asked Jeremy if there was anything else he'd like for me to make with them.  His answer: apple crisp.  Easy enough.  Well, when I went to collect the ingredients, I didn't have everything, so I took a deep breath and decided to try a pie.  Mind you, the only pie I ever attempted was our first year of marriage (five years ago), and it in tears with a trip to the store to get a pre-made crust.  

But, I found this recipe, and decided it was a blend of a crisp and a pie and just might work.  It did. Probably too well...
By that I mean, the recipe was delicious.  Buttery, with a crunchy cinnamon sugary top and the perfect consistency of apples in the middle.
Clearly it wasn't my doing.  But, I do think you need to give this recipe a try.  I've been asked to make it again for Thanksgiving.  Let's cross our fingers that it goes well a second time!
There's nothing quite like a warm dessert with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Our Days at Papa and Elley's

Every few weeks, we go to Papa and Elley's for the day.  It's where I grew up from sixth grade on, and it's a gorgeous little piece of creation.  The boys love to go throw rocks in the pond, and I love to watch.  They ambush Daddy and Papa for any piece of time they have over the lunch hour.

 This last time the yard was filled with fallen leaves, and Carter was amazed!
They always beg to spend the majority of their time in the sandbox.
Typically one builds a castle, and another knocks it down.
 This time Peter was "pannin' for gold."
 And, Carter was practicing his balance.
It's the little things, and they love them so much.
The leaves are almost gone now, and the air is pretty cold, but I'm sure we'll venture out in the sand still...just with a few more layers!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Sophie: 5 Months

Little Miss Sophie is another month old, and she wasn't too excited about the thought of documenting it at first...
 ...but then she came around.

She's still as sweet as can be.  I think I've said that about all of my babies, ha!  Her stats:

Sleeps 11ish hours a night.
Weards 6-9 month clothes.
Wears size 2 diapers.
Takes about 6 oz/bottle.
Has no teeth.
Rolls over.
Hasn't tried food yet (I'm lazy).
Loves to "talk."
Smiles a lot.
Weighs 16 lbs.
Is 25 in long.

That's all for now!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Friday Thoughts and Links...

Gosh, this week flew by!  In fact, so is the whole month of November for me.  I don't know why, but it doesn't seem like there are enough hours in the day.  The kids have all had colds (that haven't really had a huge effect other than lots of Kleenex being used).

I've been editing pictures from a wedding and an engagement session.  I really don't know where I'll go from here with all of this, but for now, I've decided to set up a little Facebook page so I can post my photos from sessions like these there.  If you'd like to see them, please like the page.  Maybe I'll have a website some day.  Maybe I'll stop it all next week.  I'm decisive like that.  Here is it: Britt Fisk Photography.  I set up an Instagram account too, here.

Speaking of photographs, Carter made the Word on Fire blog on Wednesday!  Even better than the picture of him is the blog post!  My goodness, it is good, and so applicable.  Can I just put it on repeat?!

Sweet Nell is making the cutest leggings these days.  I cannot wait for her holiday ones.  I think Sophie will need a festive pair!

Oh, as you can tell from the picture, the first snow came.  It wasn't a ton of moisture, but it definitely feels like winter out there.  I kind of like it, for now.

Do you have a way to celebrate Advent and prepare for Christ's birth this year?  If you don't already have something to focus on, I'd highly suggest getting this Blessed is She journal.  If email is more up your alley, have you signed up for Father Barron's daily Advent reflection?  I'm hoping to do both with the idea that it will serve as a constant reminder to be quiet and prepare my heart for Him a midst the chaos of the holiday season.  I know I'll need the reminder!

Carolyn wrote a beautiful post on humility in the Virtues of Mary series here.  From that post..."If we don’t take stock in our own actions, words and thoughts, we can never grow in humility.  Striving toward this virtue enables us to love God and to love our neighbors more deeply. We remember that we are each beautiful masterpieces of God’s creation.  We think before we do and before we speak, and when we fail –because we will–  we look to our Holy Mother who has always pointed us to Jesus and said “do whatever He tells you.”  Check it out.  And, follow along with the blog hop every Tuesday!

Have a blessed weekend!

Linking up with Jen.