Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Things change! Happy New Year!

Yesterday was full of reminders that things can change in a minute. A friend's father's body is having trouble "waking" up after surgery, a child that is a friend of a friend drowned in the bath and now struggles for life, I watched Pickle drive out in front of a car on his motor scooter, (the man stopped - but any other car that afternoon would have not seen him), and Pooker and a friend could have been hurt while waiting for help to push their car back onto the road. Accidents happen, people are careless, and God has other plans than we do.

Today is short. We take the now for granted. Often I am upset that it isn't going the way "I" want it to. All this while I forget to thank God for the moment. We zoom along in life and forget that someone else might hit us. A child might not be here in the morning. A parent might be not be around. Things can change in a heartbeat.

As the year passes tonight I want to acknowledge the gifts that I have been given. Thank you God for the life that I am living. Please know that I am grateful and try to live my life for your glory and not my own. Thank you for this kind and loving husband and these joy filled children. Thank you for each member of our families. We may not see them often but we are so happy to have them in our lives. Thank you for all the friends that we have through church,our home school groups and our neighborhood. Thank you also for all of our children's friends, just more for us to love. You have truly blessed us with your kindness and love all around.

To each member of our family and to every single friend of each one of us, please know that you are very special to us. We pray that you find His peace in your heart this coming year. You will be in our thoughts and prayers as we thank God for you.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas

Our Holy Father offering the world a Christmas Blessing!

We pray that the joy of Christ find you and give you peace this holiday. It is with great joy that we welcome the child knowing that His hope lies in His Good Friday sacrifice that will bring us all to the Easter of Heaven. The true joy in this season is enjoying that taste of heaven here on earth. We could taste heaven yesterday. We saw hope in each other as we shared gifts of ourselves and then served each other in a delicious meal. Our Christmas starts with the meal of the Eucharist with friends and each other at our Parish and then ends with the meal that we prepare on Christmas day. As the last bite of pie is eaten we drift off into a peaceful sleep knowing that we are loved by each other and by our Heavenly creator. Thank you God for allowing us the joy we felt yesterday. For those that were in pain yesterday please bring them to you and grant them a taste of your joy.

One of the surprises of tonight was the extra car and the fact that Pooker is now covered by the family insurance. She now might be found driving every now and again. The kiddos were all so excited for her. It was a huge family surprise and a great joy to each of us.

The gifts that they got each other were and always are the favorites. They never spend much but the time they spend making or shopping for each other is always so beautiful to see.

This picture was taken in the quiet of the Church after Christmas Eve Mass! We pray that you find the joy of the Season that we feel in our home!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Sacrament of First Reconciliation for Pickle

  • Pickle is part of a program with about 400 other children to receive reconciliation and communion this year. Our parish is so big. In many ways this is wonderful but when trying to establish a personal relationship with Christ it is possible to feel lost in such a big setting. Our parish priest allowed just the homeschoolers to gather at their own time. It was small, quiet, quick and we were able to reinforce what we were teaching at home.
    We are very proud of you Pickle!
Instead of waiting for 2 hours behind 100 other kiddos Father met us in the chapel in the middle of the afternoon. The families prayed while their little ones had their confessions heard then we all went out for ice cream. It was a beautiful way to celebrate their big day.

This is a group of very good young people. I am very proud of each of
them and know that they will each continue to grow closer to God with each

I suspect that many of my non-catholic friends are reading this post thinking the usual: Why teach them to confess to a priest? I go directly to God. I answer that by saying we do also. I can't even begin to explain the human need for confession but I know it is there. To realize before God that I am nothing. Remembering that without His love I would not exist is a powerful consideration. Confession always reminds me of that and of His love for me. He took on our sin so that we might be saved. I know that there are many theological reasons and traditions in which we as the Church require this sacrament. I could not even begin to do those reasons justice. Instead I will compare the need to my life. (When my response doesn't answer your question then come back up here and check these links to some with much more understanding and wisdom!)

Saint Aquinas site

Saint Charles Borromeo Catholic Church site


As a parent I love my children with my entire heart. I often say "no" to them for their own good. I admit that I am not God and do sometime say no out of selfishness. "No you can't get the paint out now!" because I don't want to clean up after you later. Usually though my restrictions are placed out of love for my child. The younger ones need to be told not to run into the street without looking. The older ones don't need that rule. So with my little ones I have lots of rules. When they do something they are not supposed to they often feel very guilty about it.

    • Pope Benedict XV walks towards a confession box during a penitentice celebration
      in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, March 13, 2008.

Suppose they broke one of my coffee mugs. It really isn't that big of a deal. I don't like the little ones to use the mugs because someone often drops them and then gets cut. So my rule is not for the protection of the mugs but for their safety. The younger ones don't get that. They just see me panic when one breaks. It is usually because I need to get up and clean up the mess and try to keep little ones from stepping in the glass and needing medical attention. Now let us suppose that I am not in the house this time. A mug is used for milk, it is dropped and the mess is cleaned up without anyone getting hurt.

Now in the scheme of life the mug breaking isn't a big deal at all. In the life of that 6 year old it is now a huge deal. This little one did something that they knew they were not supposed to do. They are now feeling very guilty about it. Often this little one will not talk to me when I first get home from my errand. I will know that glass broke because I will see the broom left out by the older child that helped clean up the mess and I can see the broken pieces in the trash.

No one got hurt so the danger for me is gone. The little one is afraid to talk to me though. I can see it. I don't push. I will wait. I know the lesson is really learned when they struggle to admit and then come to confess. This time the child gets creative and draws me a picture showing the broken mug and a big heart. I know they are sorry. They went right to the source by giving me this beautiful drawing. All is forgiven but they are still feeling guilty.

Why would they still feel guilty. No one got hurt, they said sorry in a note, they cleaned up their mess. Every thing is OK, right? NO it isn't. That little soul, that little human needs to hear that they are forgiven. It is our human nature to need to feel forgiven and to see love still in the eyes of the one we hurt. This little one might try to dance around the topic, avoid me or even over compensate. Eventually the child will approach me, tell me what happened and then say sorry. Now this is when you can see why God asks us to confess in a human form to a priest.

The child lights up and feels whole when they hear that they are forgiven. I didn't need to forgive, I didn't need to hug, I didn't even need to know. The truth is I already knew, I already forgave, and I already took care of the problem. It was the child that needed to hear mom say, "That is OK sweetie, be more careful next time. I am so glad that you didn't get hurt. You can help me buy a new mug. You know, there is nothing you could ever do to make me not love you, even breaking my favorite coffee mug!" Ending with a big "mom loves you hug".

The child leaves that situation knowing how much mom loves them. They leave with a better relationship with the parent. The child now trust the parent more. The child knows that the love is sincere no matter what. The child knows that talking to mom is the best approach no matter what. The relationship was never damaged on the parent side just the child's side. Now that they heard the parent forgive they are happy again. They now feel very close to the parent. That is our relationship with God. He doesn't need us to ask forgiveness. He doesn't need to meet us in the confessional. (The priest acts as Christ in the Confessional.) He doesn't need to say that we are forgiven. As silly insecure humans we need to hear it. We need to see Christ. We need to say what we did. We need to be humble enough to ask for forgiveness, even though it is already given. As humans we long to get that hug, to hear the words, "Go in Peace"!

The church in her great wisdom, guided by the Spirit takes care of our human needs by offering this beautiful gift of Confession/Reconciliation. That is what I taught my child and that is what I continue to seek every time I enter into a confessional and beg God to love me no matter what. I know He does, but I need to ask and I need to hear him forgive me.

Monday, December 15, 2008

River Walk Lights

So we have officially lived in Houston now for over 6 years. I never thought when we moved down here that we would be here for more than 2 years, 3 at the most. I was very depressed our 4th and 5th years here. I felt like the end had come and that we were forever trapped in the hottest place on earth. Now that we are starting our seventh year in Spring I am so thankful for all the time we have spend here. We have the most wonderful friends, neighbors, community, church and winter weather known to man. I miss the change of seasons, my heart aches for it. I miss the snow so much. God still sends me a small taste every now and then. It isn't the same when the leaves are just on one tree and not the entire hillside or when it snows only enough to cover the hood of a car. I do cherish those memories though.
the gang waiting to get on the boaton the boat

We have been told over and over again to head to San Antonio over the Christmas Season to check out all the beautiful lights hanging from the trees over the River Walk. This year we finally took the time to visit and it is was well worth our time. Sugar looks so pretty
Princess was upset because we would not let her stand up
Goobers looking beautiful
mom and Jumba cuddle up to stay warm

the sights were incredible

We waited for the boat to come by and pick us up. This was going to be fun we could tell. The weather was very chilly. Perfect temperature for looking at the lights.

I know the lights all looked crazy. They were so cool. The kiddos all tried to take a ton of pictures and they just can't do it justice. If you ever get the chance to get your self to San Antonio in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I strongly recommend that you pay the minimal fee and ride a boat. There is nothing like being cuddled up to your love ones, as you slowing float through a world of lights. They hang all around you and glitter and shine. The memory is one I will have have forever. Thanks to the Moseley family for telling us to do this six years ago.

You can't tell here but the are standing in front of a statue of Saint Anthony. He really is one of our favorites. The younger ones were surprised when they realized that San Antonio is another way of saying Saint Anthony. Mom and Dad by the pretty tree. Looking back at our crazy kiddos trying to get us to smile. All 9 of them acting goofy.

What a gorgeous group of kiddos. J and I truly felt blessed that night. The lights were awesome but were nothing as compared to the smiles of this crowd. Another taste of heaven.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

The end of the world is here! (Snow in Houston)

Just to let you all know it is official, "The End of the World is Here!" and it isn't coming in the form of Global Warming.

Here in Houston the outside temperature was 81 degrees according to the car on Tuesday afternoon. In a matter of 10 minutes the temperature dropped about 20 degrees. By the next morning the temperature was hanging out around 34 degrees. Then the "rain" came. It started to fall like snow. WE were so excited. My kiddos have not seen snow fall in years. They ones were jumping, yelling and crying with joy in the streets. (So was there mom - dad, well not so much.)

The exciting part was that it didn't stop all afternoon. The kiddos actually came inside because they got too cold and it wasn't sticking. We were so upset because the videos don't show the huge flakes that we were catching on our tongues.

Then night fell. After the sun went down the rain/snow started again. This time is only lasted for a few hours but it was so beautiful and exciting. Pooker was at a meeting at church and one of her dear friends was giddy when he saw the snow. Pooker "taught" him how to make a snowball and he and his sister ran through the parking lot "fighting" and laughing the entire time. She and I headed home, picked up a few of the other kiddos that were still awake and went out searching for parked cars. That was the only place the snow had stuck to in our area.

These nighttime pictures show the snow falling. I still can't believe that I have these pictures to post from Houston. The sad thing is that it stopped falling while we were playing and was almost melted by the time we got back to the house. It didn't last long, but it sure was fun.
A friend stated on his facebook that he "survived the Houston snow storm of 08". This was a nothing 'storm' but is sure brought us tons of joy. Thank you God for that early Christmas gift.

The crazy thing is that it is supposed to be in the mid-70's on Saturday again.

Only in Houston . . . When living in St. Louis we would always say that if you don't like the weather just wait until tomorrow. In Houston if you don't like the weather just wait 10 minutes.