"We are called to show mercy because mercy has first been shown to us." -Pope Francis

Category: Simplicity

our journey to chickens…

 

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Here’s the lovely “before” shot of our chicken coop.  A little more paint and we’ll have an “after” shot to reveal soon!  Stay tuned!

 

 

This spring and summer brought our family a whole new adventure.  We had a comfortable, corner-lot home in an HOA cookie-cutter subdivision, and it was a complete blessing, don’t get me wrong. 

But something was off.  Something about it started to feel a little like that creepy and super cute town in the movie Pleasantville. 

We started receiving letters in the mail.  The first letter showed us a nice picture of our clothesline, full of colorful cloth diapers that we hung on our back deck to dry and to be sanitized by the sun.  The HOA said this was a violation.  Ultimately, we disputed this, and they agreed to let us dry our diapers.  Then, sometimes the grass was too long or some dandelions sprung up, and we would get a letter with a nice picture of grass a few inches too high, showing us our violation. 

My favorite letter was the one showing a picture of our mailbox, explaining that it needed a fresh coat of black paint.  It went on to say that these letters are sent out to improve the “quality of life” of residents in the subdivision.  Now, I understand that home upkeep is important.  But mentioning quality of life in a letter where you’re talking about mailbox paint?  When there are starving people out there who deserve a better quality of life? 

The real kicker was that we found out we couldn’t have chickens.  And something kinda’ clicked.  In a world that relies so much on microwaves and wi-fi, we felt this strong desire, perhaps even a calling, to learn how to become more self-sufficient.  Why not?  What harm could there be in learning how to take care of ourselves? 

So, why did we need to seek approval to put in a new garden bed?  Who were they to tell us we couldn’t raise chickens and harvest our own eggs?  People have been gardening and collecting eggs for centuries all over the world.  Our government promoted victory gardens and taught canning practices after WWII, and now we are choosing to commit to these HOA rules that prohibit self-sufficiency?  What had we signed up for? 

Every week we drive to the grocery store and pile up our carts with food we did not sow, food we did not cultivate, food we did not reap.  Are we grateful for the farmers who dedicate their lives to keeping us alive? 

We often sit in air-conditioned homes in the suburbs, far from the noise and smell of the farms, because we don’t want to hear the roosters crowing that help to bring us fresh eggs, and we don’t want to smell cow manure from the cows that give us milk and meat. 

So in March of this year, we moved.  Not far away, we just moved closer to our church actually, which is great.  But we decided to go for it.  We started our journey to a garden of fresh food, and our journey to chickens. 

And I’ve got so much more to tell you about what God is up to in our lives… stay tuned!

 

P.S.  God is merciful & He loves you… Pass it on!

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Pray with Your Senses – Color & Sound Sets Make Great Gifts!

I recently had the privilege of working with these two “Color & Sound” sets for Paraclete Press.  They have paired completely unique, fun, and inspirational, Marian themed coloring books with high quality Gregorian Chant CD compilations.

Set aside your electronic devices and games, and do something with your hands that will free your mind up for prayer.

I wanted to share these with you today just in time for Mother’s Day, but they would also make a perfect gift for a graduating senior!  These books are a gentle way to instill or rejuvenate our Catholic Faith.

You could also use them for prayer time in Adoration, or as a teaching tool for children to help them learn the Rosary and how to meditate on Mary’s many beautiful names.  Children love to color, so teach them also that they can turn their coloring into prayers!  It’s fun to actually pray the rosary as you’re coloring each decade page, too.  I think these also work beautifully as side-by-side adult coloring books for those times you are coloring with young children.

In fact, my daughters love to see my finished coloring pieces, and I enjoy coloring with a picture that stretches me beyond the super familiar shapes of Winnie the Pooh and Hello Kitty.

So here are two excellent Color & Sound sets for you to consider!  May they enhance your own prayer life, and the prayers of the ones you love.

  1.  Mother Mary – Color & Sound:  An Imaginative Pathway to Stillness and Beauty

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This coloring book has a page for many of the beautiful names we give to Mary the Mother of God.  Each page contains a title for Mary, a powerful prayer or quote related to this title, and a little more info to peak your curiosity about where this title came from, or who Mary appeared to under this title.  The pictures are fun and simple enough for coloring, and the end result is a beautiful picture that might even be suitable for displaying in your home!

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This set includes “The Chants of Mary,” a Gregorian Chant CD sung by the Gloriae Dei Cantores Men’s Schola.  I love having this CD on in the background of my day.  It puts children to sleep like a light switch when we play it in the car.  It keeps me calm in the inevitable challenging moments that arise at home with three toddlers.  It is 65 minutes of Heaven on earth.  Brush up on your Latin with the accompanying CD booklet that contains English & Latin lyrics as side-by-side text, along with beautiful full color pictures and images.

  1. The Rosary – Contemplation with Color and Sound: Color and Music to Inspire your Prayers9781612619194_p0_v1_s192x300

This coloring book takes you all the way through your rosary, with a page for each decade of the Glorious, Sorrowful, Luminous, and Joyful Mysteries!  There’s also a page for the Apostle’s Creed & Hail, Holy Queen.  The pictures are whimsical and leave much room for contemplation as you pray along with your coloring.  Enter into each mystery of the rosary a little deeper, and then go back and remember your prayers when you see a beautiful, completed picture in their place.

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This book is paired with “Feasts of Our Lady,” a Gregorian Chant CD by the Monastic Choir of St. Peter’s Abbey, Solesmes.  It also contains a booklet with side-by-side Latin & English text.  This CD is one of my favorite Gregorian Chant compilations.  The music is very vibrant and rich.  The harmonies are solid.  The sweeping melodies lift one’s thoughts to Heaven.  You will not be disappointed!

Purchase these CDs from Paraclete Press or Amazon!  And remember, God loves you & He is merciful!  Pass it on…

the curse of comfort

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I found this quote in high school and placed it in a scrapbook.  Though I just stumbled upon it the other day, these words have resonated with me now for years.  Do you know the curse of comfort?  Here is the secret of what to do when you feel that comfort seep upon you…

 

“Is thy curse of comfort wasting? 

Rise and share it with another;

and through all the years of famine,

it shall serve thee and thy brother.

Is thy burden hard and heavy?

Do thy steps drag wearily?

Help to bear thy brother’s burden

God will bear both it and thee.”

-Elizabeth Charles

 

The Bare Necessities Baby Registry

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What does my baby really need?  This question is on the minds of many mothers who make the potentially daunting, often exciting trip into a baby store to set up a baby registry for their child.

What does my baby really need?  This question is also on the minds of the many mothers who are pregnant and raising children in dire conditions, in impoverished areas of the world where they can only dream about stepping foot in a luxurious baby store.

It’s important to keep this worldly perspective in mind when you go to set up a baby registry, because you really don’t need everything advertised. Read the rest of this entry »

roasting marshmallows and sanctity…

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My husband is awesome because he loves making campfires.  He’s awesome for a lot of reasons, but every once in awhile, my daughter will ask in her not so sneaky way, “Hey Daddy, how about… we have a little campfire tonight?”

And if it’s a weekend, and my husband doesn’t have to work the next day, and if the girls have been listening well to Daddy and Mommy, and if it’s not raining, and if it’s not too late, we will have a little campfire, and we have a blast.

Last night after we put the girls to bed, the fire was still dying down, and my husband and I sat outside talking.

As I was roasting a marshmallow slowly to perfection, I thought about how it can really take awhile to get the marshmallow just right.

You can’t rush this process of roasting a marshmallow. You have to wait and it takes patience and endurance.

I thought about how you have to keep the marshmallow close to the flame, but not so close that it burns it to a crisp – unless you’re one of those people who loves burnt-to-a-crisp marshmallows.

And it occurred to me that this process of roasting a marshmallow bore a striking resemblance to the process of becoming holy.

In order for us to reach a higher level of sanctity, we must slowly work at being perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.  It can take awhile for us to come out just right.

You can’t rush this process of achieving sanctity.  You have to wait and it takes patience and endurance.

You have to stay close to the flames of Divine Mercy.  You have to stay close to God.  But at the same time, we are not ready to see God in His full glory yet.  God is not ready to fully reveal Himself to us just yet.

Eventually my marshmallow was just about perfect.  I’ll admit I didn’t wait until it was golden brown, and my husband questioned whether I had waited long enough.  But my s’more was wonderful, nonetheless.

I hope I can be a little more patient with myself as I work to become more like Christ.  While I know I won’t be able to really be perfect in this life, I will keep striving for it so that I can continue to be the best I can be.

Jesus doesn’t want us to settle.

I hope that I won’t settle for anything less than what Jesus has asked of each of us: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Let’s just remember: perfectly roasted marshmallows must stay close to the flame.

 

P.S.  God is merciful & He loves you!  Pass it on…

Another Chime Travelers Adventure: The Mystery at Midnight!

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I love the Chime Travelers books, and hope to eventually collect them all!  Did I mention they’re written for kids?  I want to collect them all, and I’m a grown up!  But my 3 year old daughter has loved listening to these stories as well. 

These books are full of adventure and surprise.  Katie and Patrick are siblings who find themselves traveling back in time on occasion when they hear church bells chime.

In Lisa Hendey’s book “The Mystery at Midnight,” Katie chime travels and meets Clare while visiting the Poor Clares on a school field trip. 

The story winds through a turning point in Clare’s life, as she decides that she wants to serve Jesus and the poor no matter what the cost. 

Clare’s zeal is contagious, and Katie soon finds herself wanting to imitate Clare’s decisions.  Your children may want to imitate Clare, too, after reading this book!

I absolutely love when chapter books have pictures, as they are engaging for small children, and hold the attention of my 3 year old.  The Chime Travelers books are filled with adorable, fun illustrations! 

Jen Bower is the illustrator, and she has a style all her own!  I have enjoyed turning the pages to see what cute little scene is coming up next. 

These books would surely be at home in any Catholic home.  But they could also find a place on the shelf of any Christian home.  And those are perhaps my favorite Catholic books – the ones that are truly universal and that invite everyone to discover the riches of the Christian Faith we hold in our hearts. 

“The Mystery at Midnight” would make a wonderful gift for any child.  It can be read aloud to small children.  It can be read with a parent for those learning to read.  Children can also read it themselves, of course.  And adults will also delight in following along with these well-written gems!

Grab your copy of “The Mystery at Midnight” on Amazon or from Barnes and Noble.  And find lots more adventure at chimetravelerkids.com

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P.S.  God is merciful and He loves you.  Pass it on!

Pope Francis Takes the Bus

This book is written in an honest, charming, and almost whimsical way that makes it a fun and easy read. It would make an excellent gift, but you’ll want to get a copy for yourself, too!

A few years ago, I learned that Father Bergoglio personally canceled his newspaper subscription after becoming pope.  He then returned his newspaper rubber bands to the shop.  He had been collecting them for a while and did not want them to go to waste.  This simple gesture invited me to start looking at the little things I threw away in a whole different light.  Actually, I learned about this event right around the time that I first read the Gospel, and I went through quite a drastic shift in life at this time.  Those of you who knew me personally around that time know what I’m talking about.  Let’s just say a lot of things went to Goodwill… Read the rest of this entry »

Babies Don’t Need Air Jordans & 5 Other Societal Myths Debunked

It is abhorrent that many women and families feel the need to terminate a pregnancy because they can’t provide what our society expects them to provide.

Photo copyright 2016 Kaitlyn Mason. Image created with Canva.

Many people feel they cannot afford children, or that they are not in a position to care for a child. While everyone’s situation is certainly different, it seems that American societal expectations are currently set pretty high.

Families around the globe do not have access to necessities that are often mainstream in the U.S. – things like clean water, fresh clothing & linens, food, and safe shelter. These are the things babies truly need. Add some snuggles and love, and you’re all set!

Of course every effort should be made to ensure that all humans have access to basic necessities. But every day children are born into less than ideal circumstances, and they are able to grow and thrive.

Here in America, it is not uncommon to hear highly educated parents with a home, health insurance, multiple cars, and well-paying jobs say things like, “We can’t afford another baby.” Or, “We won’t fit in a 3 bedroom house, we have 3 children.” What some of them are really saying is that they want to maintain a certain lifestyle – one they feel is best for their family – and that more children or a more humble lifestyle would be burdensome.

Downsizing a home, selling a car, or not going on that expensive vacation are often not considered. Aspiring to have bigger and better possessions seems to be a twisted, misguided, modern adaptation of the classic American dream.

While everyone has the right to discern how they’d like to raise a family within the limits of moral and social laws, we can run into problems when Mothers in crisis pregnancies feel they need to meet these unnecessarily high societal expectations. In fact, unnecessarily high societal expectations can lead women and families to choose abortion. Read the rest of this entry »