Sunday, January 25, 2015

Searching For My Father and Finding Peace

My mother found out she was pregnant with me in the summer of 1975. She was seventeen years old. She could have aborted me, but she didn't, and I am thankful that she chose life for me. I lived with her and my grandparents until she got married and moved out when I was still a toddler. Though her words and attitude told me different when I was a child, my grandmother wanted me to grow up in her home, so my mother did not take me with her when she left.

When I was young, I used to ask my grandmother questions about my father. She would never answer them. When I was around the age of eleven, my mother divorced her husband of ten years and moved back into her parent's house, my house. I am sure that I annoyed her. I followed her around, asking endless questions. I wanted details that should have stayed in the past. But I could not leave them there. I had to know about my father. 


Finally, she told me about him. She told me about their short relationship, how she knew that she had conceived me before she ever took a test, but she also knew that she did not want to spend the rest of her life with my father. She told me that my father was a foster child from Brooklyn, New York. He was in the military until he was kicked out and had ways and opinions that my grandmother didn't approve of, and that is why she never talked about him.

I used to daydream about him. I would hope that he would show up on our front porch one day, call me his daughter, and take me away. Maybe not forever, but at least for a little while. I wanted him to know me and accept me. I wanted him to fight for me and care for me. Ultimately, I know I wanted to feel loved by him. 

He never showed up. He never called. I have never seen his face or heard his voice.

In my early twenties, I started two different searches. I searched for my  biological father online and studied the words of my heavenly Father in the Bible. I never found anything online about my father. Everywhere I looked was a dead end. 

But the Word of God was very healing for me. Over time, I stopped wishing for my earthly father's presence in my life and no longer desired his love. It didn't happen overnight. It was a slow process. 

Through reading scripture, I recognized that I do have a Father that calls me daughter.  I found a father who knows me and cares for me.



Mark 5:25-34
And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”
But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and, trembling with fear, told him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”






In Mark, we read the story of a woman that was suffering, losing her life blood, for 12 years. She travels to meet Jesus, reaches out to touch His cloak, knowing that He will heal her. Jesus calls out to the one who touched Him, and she responds and tells Him her story. He calls her daughter and tells her that her faith has healed her, to continue on in peace, and suffer no more. 

I wasn't physically bleeding, but my heart was hurting. For years, I longed for my father, desiring to have a relationship with him. And like the woman in the story, I reached out to Jesus, studied scripture, and found an end to my suffering. 

Through God's Word, I realized that all the things that I desired from my biological father, to be known, accepted, and loved, I already had from my Father in heaven. My study of the Bible brought me into a closer relationship with God, and I began to feel peace. I no longer needed a relationship with my earthly father. 

My parents did not plan to have a daughter, but God planned me. Having a relationship with Him has helped me to feel peace about the man I will never know. 


Through Bible study, I learned that the Hebrew word for peace is shalom. Shalom also encompasses more than just peace. It also implies prosperity, wholeness, good health, and friendship. It is also a greeting and farewell, and when used in that way it is like praying for those things upon the one to whom you are speaking.

God knows you, calls you daughter and gives you peace. In Him, you can be whole and flourish.

How have you found peace through God's Word? Has studying the Bible helped you be at peace about a relationship in your life?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Under-Appreciated? Me? Never!

There is this thing taking place right now. The Sheenazing Awards. You have probably heard of them, but just in case you haven't here is what Bonnie has to say about them: 


"The Sheenazing Blogger Awards get their name from Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, who was amazing at using the newest forms of media to communicate the beauty of the Catholic Church and his love of Christ to the world. They are a fun way to celebrate the excellence of the Catholic blogosphere and honor Venerable Sheen."

Bonnie writes at the blog, A Knotted Life. I am sure you know her, but if you do not, you definitely need to take the time to get to know her. You can start with the story of her son's (alleged) miracle. And then move on to reading her thoughts about motherhood and check out how she parties it up with her family and friends. 

Also I am sure that you already know about Venerable Fulton J. Sheen, but if you do not then you can read about him here. You should read some of his books and check out a few of his talks on YouTube, too. 

And since we are talking about him I want to share one of my favorite Sheen quotes. It is from his book, Way To Happiness (1953), on page 51: 


"... one must inquire if education is of the mind alone, or also of the will. Knowledge is in the mind; character is in the will. To pour knowledge into the mind of a child, without disciplining his will to goodness, is like putting a rifle into the hands of a child. Without education of the mind a child could be a stupid devil. With education of the mind, but without love of goodness, a child could grow up to be a clever devil." 

Powerful right? His writings are full of thought provoking gems like that! 


Now, back to me being under-appreciated. A few of you super nice people nominated this here blog for the Most Under-Appreciated Blog category. I am flattered and honored that some of you think that Saint Affairs is worthy of  more attention than it appears to be receiving. Thank you for your support! 



I want you to know that I have met some of the nicest, supportive, and talented women through the community of Catholic mom bloggers. You have cheered me on, prayed for me, and let me know that you appreciate me with your kind comments. And although this is my first year being nominated for a Sheenazing award, I always knew that I had a circle of writers and readers that support me. As much as I am excited about the nomination and thank you most sincerely for it, I didn't need it to feel loved because you have been freely showering me with it for years. Thank you. 

What I realized by being nominated is that there are so many blogs in the Catholic blogosphere that people think are under-appreciated. The list of nominees is long, but it doesn't even begin to cover the amount of smaller or lesser known blogs there are. I think the list of nominees for the Most Under-Appreciated Blogs and the list of Honorable Mentions are great places to start finding "new-to-me" blogs.

But what about all of the amazing Catholic blogs that didn't make it onto those lists? Surely you know a few because I know I do. I would love to support all of them, let them know that their words are being read, that they are making a positive difference in the blogosphere, so let's do a link-up. 

Let's do this! 

Blogs That You May Not Be Reading, But You Should Be link-up




Rules: 

Write a post featuring you favorite lesser known blogs. You know the ones that I am talking about, the blogs you love to read, but for some reason, the blog just doesn't have a big following. 


In your post list the blog name and author name(s), give an explanation of why you like reading the blog, and share one or two posts that you think are a must read. 


There is no limit to the number of lesser known blogs that you can write about in your post. It doesn't matter if you write about two, five, or ten. 


Bonus: If you have a small readership and you want to link to your favorite post, also, then go for it! 


The link-up will go live on Monday, February 2nd. 


Please share the link-up with all your blogging friends. I am sure that everyone has someone that they would like to show some love, support, and build up in the community of bloggers. 

I can't wait to read all of your submissions!



And remember to check out all of the fabulous Sheenazing nominations and take a moment to vote for your favorite blogs. And give a shout out to Bonnie for all the hard work she has put into the Sheenazing Awards every year. 

Thanks, Bonnie! I appreciate you! 

Monday, January 19, 2015

What I Learned During My Week of Silence (or My Time Away From Social Media)

I had no idea on Monday morning when I decided to take the week away from social media and blogs to discern whether I should continue blogging that I was coming down with the flu. But getting knocked down by the flu, I did! 

Despite the flu, I had a very good week. I felt your prayers, and I thank you for them. After spending last week praying (and a quick trip to confession on Saturday), I better understand the feelings of discontent that I was having.

You see, I had set up a writing schedule for myself so that I could be more organized with my writing. I had set these rules for myself, rules that I made after reading different advice from professional writers and other bloggers. There is a lot of advice out there that is good and worthwhile to follow, if one should feel the need. 

But my schedule and rules were not good for me. In all honesty, they stressed me out and made me want to write less, not more. And that is just crazy, because I have always written a journal to help me process feelings and situations in my life and as an outlet for creativity. But all the advice that I had read and my list of rules had taken so much space up in my mind that I couldn't think of anything else when it came to writing. 

I had started looking at blogging as something that I had to do, and since I was going to do it I had to do it right. And doing it right meant making a schedule, following rules, and giving people what they want that only I can give (whatever that is). 

But the truth is that I don't want to push my thoughts, ideas, and favorite products into your reader or inbox three or four days a week. Your life is busy and so is mine. I don't want to distract you from your life, which is full of wonderful and important things for you to accomplish. I don't need to write about every book I read, and the Netflix shows I watch, and the clothes hanging in my closet and my make-up routine. Because honestly, if I am writing about those things it is most likely because I have bought into the idea that I can't let too many days go by without posting something in this space. 

I do want to keep writing here. I want to encourage you, share what has worked for me, and write about how God has blessed me. 

I want people who are searching or hurting or lonely to find comfort in the Lord. 

I want my faith always to shine through my words because my life isn't really about me. It is so much bigger than that! My life, just like everyone's life, is about God and His love for everyone. 

Words matter. They can make a difference towards good or bad. I want my words always to point towards my heavenly Father because He is the true author of my life. 

I have blogged through the years for community. I want to continue to belong to the community of Catholic bloggers who encourage me, whose words point to Christ and share the beauty and the truths of the Catholic Church. 

So I am going to write every chance I can, but without a schedule. I am going to write what the Spirit moves me to write and pray that it blesses you. 



Monday, January 12, 2015

Taking a Break and Asking for Prayers

Well, my word for the year is peace, and I knew it was going to lead to me focus my attention in a different direction than I was planning for myself.

Over the last several days, I have had so many thoughts about intentions and attention and distractions, and I feel like I need to take some time to draw closer to God and to evaluate what I am doing with this space. 

I need to step away from the internet for now, but it is not forever, I don't think. I am going to be silent here, on Facebook and Instagram through Sunday, at least. Then I will decide if I need more time away. 

I am not trying to be dramatic or suggest that my absence here will make much difference to anyone. I wasn't going to mention it at all. Honestly, taking breaks from blogging is nothing new for me as I have taken several over the last four years. But this time I am taking a break, not because life is busy, or my health is poor, but because I am actually considering giving up blogging altogether. My purpose in mentioning it this time is to ask for prayers. I think I need them. No, I know I need them. 

Thanks, friends! 





Friday, January 9, 2015

Peace, Charts, Prints, Comments, Saints, Confidence, Parenting {7QTs}

It has been a long time since I joined up with Seven Quick Takes. It was long before Jen passed the torch over to Kelly at This Ain't The Lyceum. Congratulations Kelly! I am happy to join you and all the Quick Takers this Friday. 

I have had such a busy week this week. Plus we have a had a touch of the stomach bug that has been going around. Thankfully it hasn't been too bad, and I am glad that we got it after the new year. So with all of the madness going on this week writing a few or seven Quick Takes made sense.


1.

My word for the year is peace. I wrote about it here. In the post, I wrote about how I didn't want peace to be my word for the year, even though I felt God was making it pretty clear to me that peace was my word. I mentioned a book that I had read that helped seal the deal on my word, not thinking that my little post would ever reach the author of the book. But it did, and she stopped by and left me the sweetest comment. It made my day! 


2. 
 

If you follow me on Instagram, you probably saw this picture already. I was thinking about my daily schedules, and I came up with this chart. I already have a chart for school lessons and the housework, but I wanted to make sure that I take time every day to do the things that I love and keep me happy and healthy. So I wrote this list and then put it in an empty frame that we already had. I placed it next to my bed so that I could check it off at night. It has been a great reminder to me throughout the day as I come and go in my bedroom. Plus, if a day goes by that I do not accomplish one or two things off my personal goals chart, I know to make them a priority the next day. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

How I Became a More Confident Homeschooling Mom

Confidence was never my thing. Confident people always astonished me. Watching people take charge with an assertive attitude and self-assurance in their abilities left me with a sense that I had witnessed an anomaly because it was so far out of normal for me. Most of my life I walked the safe path and let other people lead.

The one time in my life that I was the one astonishing people was when I pulled my oldest child out of school to homeschool him. It wasn't a spur of the moment decision, but it was a bit out of character for me, the girl with low self-esteem. 

It took many, many months of praying, reading, and discussions with Chris to finally take the leap. I was able to do it because I had Chris's support, but also because I knew with every fiber of my being that it was what God wanted me to do. So I did it because I knew He had called me to it and would continue to give me the grace I needed to get through the hard times.

And believe me there were hard times. Days when I felt tired, and frustrated, and incapable.


Several years ago I wrote a post about the list I follow when we, the boys and I, have had a rough day or couple of days. But I needed to do something about the periods of time when the boys were fine, but I was not. So I made a few attitude changes to re-assure myself that I was capable of educating my children. They didn't work overnight, but over time my new rules for myself helped me to become a more confident person. Now there are days when I surprise myself with my assertiveness.

Does your story sound at all like mine? Do you lack confidence in your ability to teach your children? Are you interested in the behavior changes that helped me to become more confident? 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Peace in 2015

It happened a week after writing this post. I heard my word for 2015, and it wasn't the word I wanted. I was sitting with my family at Mass, listening to father's homily about preparing ourselves for the Christmas season. He talked about how society cries for peace from war and peace within our lives, but many of us have forgotten that true peace comes from a relationship with Jesus. 

I knew that the word peace was meant for me. It was the way it sounded when he said it. I heard it with my ears but felt it whispered in my heart.


You know what I did? I rejected it. I told myself that it was too early to have found my word for the year. I told myself that I needed more time to figure it out. I was still hoping for a word like rest or renew or health.


Then I started reading the final book I had on my list for the year, Let's All Be Brave: Living Life with Everything You Have written by Annie Downs. It seemed like a great book to end my year with since this was the year of being fearless. The author wrote about how she had followed God's plans for her life even when He wanted her to leave her comfort zone, and when His plan meant that her plan would end. She explained that that was what being brave was, doing things that we don't think we can and may not even want to do. 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

12 in 2014

I love looking back at events through pictures. Some events I take a ton of pictures, but other occasions I don't take enough. And then there are some experiences that I take no pictures at all, but those are usually the ones when we are having so much fun that I am too busy to pick up my camera. When I read that Dwija at House Unseen was hosting the 12 favorite photos of the year link-up, I was all about joining her because I love lists of favorite things and link-ups. 

I looked through all of my photos of 2014, and I had a blast. Although I had too many pictures of my knitting projects. What can I say, I love yarn. But don't worry, I didn't pick any pictures of yarn to share. Anyway, I decided to use photos that didn't make it to the blog this year. Though a couple of them had variations posted either here or on Facebook. 

Without further ado (so cliche, I know), here are my favorite photos of 2014.




Yo ho, we're pirates. That we be!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Top Posts of 2014

The year is coming to a close, and what a year it has been! This year I experienced the death of my grandmother and several health issues. Despite the pain and grief, 2014 was full of blessings. To list a few, Chris and I celebrated eighteen years of marriage. Our oldest son, Holden, graduated from our homeschool and finished his first semester of college. We took a wonderful family vacation which is something that we don't get to do every year.  

Also, this year I made the decision to write less about crafts and more about faith and family life. I have made new friendships with some amazing women through blogging, and I have been encouraged by so many of you. Thank you!

I have decided to share the top six posts in three different categories. Six is my favorite number, so it seemed the right number to pick. The categories are top six posts (no link-up), top six posts (link-up) and my six favorite posts.

The top six posts were given a lot of love through clicks, comments, and shares.

The top six posts that were part of a link-up were shown a lot of love through clicks and comments. I have a suspicion that they were so popular because they were part of a link-up at other lovely blogs. 

My six favorite posts are the posts that I felt strong about and enjoyed writing. 

Now on to the lists!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

The Gift of a Day Spent His Way

This year all my husband wanted for Christmas was to stay home.  

Every year we celebrate Christmas in one of two ways. Most of the past Christmases have been spent either hosting or attending my extended family's Christmas Eve potluck dinner. Then on Christmas we attend mass in the morning, then I cook several dishes to take to Chris's sister's home for his family's holiday dinner. But there have been a couple years when we have gone to his mother's house for Christmas Eve and then had my mother and her significant other to our home for Christmas dinner after Mass on Christmas Day. 


The celebrations are always fun, but they are work, too. Chris only gets one day off for Christmas, and that is Christmas day. He doesn't get home until five or six on Christmas Eve, and then he is right back to work the morning after Christmas. I am not complaining. I know that there are many people that do not get Christmas day off, so I am thankful that Chris gets to spend Christmas home with us every year. But he has never spent Christmas day the way he wants to spend it since we always have family parties to host or attend. 


He wanted a simple Christmas this year, a day with just me and the boys and nothing on the schedule other than morning Mass. 

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