My Sunday Best Fourth Edition

Today I wore my new skirt from E-Shakti.  They described its color as “hydrangea.”  Isn’t that dreamy?  [Sidenote: We still have hydrangea blooming on the side of the house.  This is the latest they have ever gone.]  My shirt was from Amazon.com, brand Polo Association.  This was the first time I wore this outfit.  I spent the whole time imagining I was in a period piece, possibly Grantchester or Call the Midwife.  If I had unlimited funds, my entire wardrobe would look like something out the 1950s or early 1960s.  I’m particularly fond of the first season of The Dick Van Dyke Show; how lucky was Mary Tyler Moore?!

E was gleefully pointing at the moon, which was still faintly present in the sky.  The moon is one of her top 20 favorite things.  She’s mildly obsessed.

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Today everything clicked.  E behaved just as she always does.  In fact, I forgot to bring her sippy cup to church, so my husband headed home to get it as E compulsively mumbled “Wawa Wawa Wawa.”  Good thing we only live 5 minutes away and are always early.  Something like that used to feel like a setback, but now I roll with it.  It’s amazing how a change of attitude alters your perception and sets up your whole day for success (for the most part).  Despite juggling and wrestling with and chasing E and spending a good portion of the time in the narthex, I felt at peace.  I keep coming back to the word ENOUGH.  I felt full of God, satiated.  He was enough, I was enough, the simple pleasures, challenges, and work of this day that He gave to me were enough.

Today’s gospel was a beautiful one, and the deacon gave a remarkable homily.  I actually got to listen to it because it was my husband’s turn in our rotation/dance with the toddler, and he was in the narthex at the time.

The deacon said that to delay God’s call was the same as denying it.  We are all called to say YES to God, just as Mary did.  FIAT.  She gave him all of herself.  There is nothing on earth that matters more than God.  We are called to follow Him first and foremost, even if it means turning our back on the conventions of this world.  He comes before job, finances, personal preference, comfort, even family.  If we embrace this kind of existence, it will completely transform our lives, and force us to reprioritize all aspects of ourselves.  We have free will.  God gives us a choice.  In choosing Him, we always gain freedom, though it might not be the world’s idea of freedom.

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I listened and felt even more peace.  Why put off what God is calling us to do?  Why delay what we know is best and deny our love?  My husband and I have longed for another child, and we have decided that despite what the world might deem practical, in direct opposition to a culture that values granite countertops and luxury SUVs more than sticky little fingers and carseats, we will be open to life.  Had we waited for the “right” time—when our careers were perfect, when our bank account was perfect, when our home was perfect—we would not have had our sweet baby girl E.  She is the joy of our lives, and produced a perfect love that cast out all fear.  There is no perfect time.  But God’s love for us is perfect.  So we unite our will with His and wait to see all the joy that He will bring us.

Linking up with Rosie at A Blog for My Mom!  Go check out everyone’s Sunday best.

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My Sunday Best:Love and Mess and Angels

So this picture is rather apropos considering our current state of affairs—which is a mess!

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Blurry, me stooped, E not looking, photobombed by a broom, my bow untied after wrestling with a toddler through a bunch of even worse photo outtakes.  Yeah, that’s about right.  My dress is from Forever 21; I wore it to my bridal shower a million years ago (alright, almost 4 years ago, but it feels like a million!)  E’s dress is from Stelly Belly.  It was her birthday dress from a year ago but is only now fitting properly.  [Did I mention the theme for today is MESS?]  Ha!

I spent the week consumed in prayer, in a good way.  I felt His loving arms around me every single day.  I even made it to morning Mass on Wednesday and Friday, which provided me with so much comfort.  Still praying for change, still operating with worry just under the surface, but ultimately hopeful and abiding in Him.  I was trusting and positive, and it felt so good!

But then yesterday came.  Sunday, a day of rest, a day of worship, and the one blissful, blessed day that my husband shares with us.  And I hit a wall.  Instead of prayer consuming me, I was consumed by worry.

I suppose the day could have gone either way, or possibly just ended up with me being a little grumpy, had things transpired differently at Mass.  I have become accustomed to our routine of rotating back and forth in the narthex, chasing and juggling and whispering and hushing our baby girl.  But this time she didn’t even make it through the entrance hymn without crying and fussing and actually demanding to leave.  (Ordinarily we can get her to the homily or at least to the Gospel reading.)  She was an absolute mess the entire time.  As a result, I was a sweating, begging, heart racing ball of chaos myself.

I am used to my almost 2 year old behaving like an almost 2 year old.  But yesterday was enough to leave me in tears.  At Communion, E actually tried to grab the hand of the Eucharistic minister and pull out the host.  She wanted to have one just like mama and yelled her own name.  Sigh.  E spent the entire time she wasn’t confined to the narthex trying to run up the aisle to the side altar.  She is in love with the two beautiful, enormous angels up there and the candles surrounding them.  She wanted to see them and be with them all Mass.  At the end of Mass, after comforting her following a trip and face plant on the marble floor, we brought her up to see the angels.  We approached the altar very respectfully, and she said hello to the angels, never touching them, just happily beaming in their beauty.

 

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These angel photos aren’t the ones our our altar, but they are reminiscent of them.  The ones on our altar are so beautiful and old.

My husband and I noticed two women staring at us in horror.  As if we were doing something terribly wrong.  One approached me and said sternly, “Those aren’t secured.”  I assured her we would never let E touch them or run around the altar.  I even introduced my husband, E, and I, but she maintained her stern, disapproving demeanor.

I know she is probably a very good person.  I see her at morning Mass.  Normally I always give people the benefit of the doubt.  After all, I’ve said and done things I regret.  But after this hard morning, and this week of strained optimism, all I wanted was some peace and welcoming in God’s house.  I could have burst into tears.  Then I remembered that E is a child of God, a member of our church parish just like everybody else there, and Jesus said let the little children come to me.  E is little and learning.  In my own way, I am still little and learning.  But we were as deserving of a place at God’s table as anyone else and perhaps more than anyone else there that morning needed to see those angels and be reminded of how they are working in our lives RIGHT NOW.

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Our dwindling bank account, my husband’s long, grueling hours, our desperation to have another child despite financial circumstances that make it impossible, our struggle just to make it through each day choosing love and hope over fear and worry.  That woman couldn’t know those things or how much we just sought sanctuary in God that morning.  I tell myself she had good intentions.  I try to maintain perspective.

Then I realize that’s the real issue—trying to maintain perspective.  In the midst of all of this chaos—our personal worries and a world in which a person can pick up a gun and end the lives of so many in so little time—it’s hard to remember that God’s mercy and love conquer fear and worry and evil.  We pay a price for free will.  Yet just as there are people who use that will for terrible, evil things or perhaps just for seemingly small, inconsequential acts that lack kindness, there are people out there whose wills are united with Christ’s and who are choosing to show love in all that they say and do every single day.  I encounter far more of the latter than the former.  I need to remember that.  And I need to remember when I start to make choices or behave in a way that turns little children away from angels.  We are ALL children of God.  I can never know what is in the hearts of those before me.  But I can always trust in kneeling on the altar and opening my heart to God’s angels.

Linking up with Rosie at A Blog for My Mom For My Sunday Best.

 

My Sunday Best and the Feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Sundays are treasured days because Daddy is home and we all go to Mass together as a family.  I used to somewhat dread the chaotic nature of Mass with a toddler; I would cringe when she was loud or sigh and grumble because instead of peacefully focusing on the homily I was busy keeping her from putting down all the door stops in the narthex.  But now I cherish that time, the three of us together, savoring these crazy days of early childhood and our young family, my husband and I deep in the trenches of raising this child and setting an example for her and laughing at her antics even as we try to gently guide her.  It helps to be sitting next to good friends who are in the same boat.

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My skirt is Express, my blouse from Target, and E’s dress is from Zulily.  This is the first time I dared wear a white skirt since becoming a mother.  I guess I’m more confident in my abilities now, or I’ve just decided to throw caution to the wind and live my life!  Probably the latter!  Ha!

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She is obsessing over a mockingbird and saying “daadada” (her interpretation of birds’ songs).  Just seconds later, she bolts out of my arms and into the street after the bird, her daddy sprinting after her.  She keeps us on our toes, and scares us to death sometimes!

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Yesterday my husband had work 13 hours, so Baby Girl and I were on our own.  We packed in a very full day—read books, did puzzles, went to Walmart, the bank, Lowe’s, a local grocery store, and went for a walk—and then realized it was only 10 am!  Sigh.  So we did what works best for us.  We turned to the garden.  E, adorable little dictator that she is, does not let me accomplish tasks inside the house, and cleaning by myself with her is next to impossible.  But she loves to garden!  We could be outside for hours in the garden, and she remains content and occupied.  She was my little helper yesterday.

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I am convinced that there are few things as wonderful in the world as roses and lavender.  Having them in the garden makes me blissfully happy.  I love pulling up to our home and having them welcome me.  I love sitting on the porch and marveling at the bees hovering on their pink and purple blooms.  And I love glancing out the window and seeing these plants as a backdrop to our daily lives.

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For so long I dreamed of having hydrangea but lived in a condo without a yard.  When we bought our house 3 years ago, there were already hydrangeas all along the side of the house, as if someone knew I was coming and had planted them for me.  And blue!  Perfect!

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My little garden helper’s favorite part is watering.  Because she usually gets wet.  And getting wet is super fun.  In fact, she goes out of her way to do it, standing underneath the hanging basket and imagining she is taking a shower.

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We are probably too late in the season, but a couple months ago I had purchased seeds.  I was going to start them in the house, but then our lives were suddenly thrown in upheaval (see my last post) and I didn’t get to them.  So I just threw them in some pots, and we will see what happens.  It was more an experiment and something to do with E than anything else.

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Later that evening to celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Heart I baked a heart shaped  blueberry cake.  I spread Cool Whip all over it, made flowers out of blueberries and mint, and inserted a cinnamon stick sword in it and called it a day.  Perhaps next year there will be flames coming out.  We will see.

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Not too bad for an impromptu bake.

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Linking up with Rosie at A Blog for My Mom for the My Sunday Best series!