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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Ladies Day of Prayer

This past Saturday I particpated in A Ladies Day of Prayer, organized by the Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend, it was an excellent day. My good friend Cyndi arrived at my house at seven in the morning, and we then set off on a forty minute drive to Lagrange, to St. Joseph church, it was a beautiful, sunshiny morning, so we took back roads, and very much enjoyed the Indiana countryside. The guest speaker for the day was Sr. Ann D'Arcy, from the Diocese of Boston, she is the sister to our Bishop, what a fiesty, fun-loving lady, she spoke to us about the power of prayer, a session in the morning and one in the afternoon. Sister spoke about how sometimes we pray and pray about a situation and it does not seem to change, (I think we can all relate to that), however she said that in praying perhaps the situation doesn't change, BUT we DO! I found this very comforting, and realised that it is true, it was one of those Aha moments for me. During the day we had opportunity to attend two break out sessions, the first was, Being Quiet with God's Word, we learned about Lectio Divina, (sacred reading). We read the gospel for last Sunday, then we were guided through a meditation upon the word. There are four parts to Lectio Divina, Read (lectio), Reflect (meditatio), Pray (oratio), Dwell (contemplatio). Cyndi and I both though that Lectio Divina would be ideal for Adoration Chapel. Our second session was Praying through Meditation, the presenter showed us four icons, (religious pictures), and explained the symbolism of icons, and how they tell much more than they appear to on first glance. An icon is a picture, but they are not considered to be painted, but written, the bodies of those pictured in icons are never proportionate, as specific characteristics have special meaning. For example one of the icons we looked at was the Icon of the Holy Trinity - the faces are identical, this is because the three figures represent the trinity, so although three, they are all one - the figure representing the Spirit is dressed in a green robe (new life), and a blue robe (divinity), a mountain is pictured behind the Spirit, because in the bible God was often encountered in the mountain. Christ wears a blue robe (divinity), a brown robe (humanity), a gold sash (kingship), he rests two fingers on the table, one represents his divine nature, the other his human nature, (in all icons you will notice that Christ always holds out two fingers to represedn the divine and human). The Father wears a blue robe (divinity) almost hidden by a shimmering robe, He clasps a staff, showing His authority in heaven and on earth, behind Him is a house, this is the house of love where the Trinity dwell. "This house of love has no boundareis and embraces everyone who dwells there. There is a place at the table fo you! The Trinity invites you to enter and stay with the Divine Persons at the table." This session was very interesting, and after attending I know that I will never look at an icon the same way again. By providence, while in the library Monday morning, a book out on display was by Sr. Wendy, all about icons, so of course I picked it up, I started reading it last night and it is very good and a nice follow up to our session on Saturday. Anyway, I digress, back to the Day of Prayer, in the afternoon our dear Bishop D'Arcy arrived, (such a good man, our diocese is truly blessed to have him lead and serve us), after a brief talk we moved to the sanctuary for Eucharistic Adoration and Reconcilliation, then ended the day with Mass.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Prayer Life and Discernment

Oh Boy! While I pray a lot throughout the day, not formal prayer particularily, but prayer to God about different things that come to mind as I move through the chores of my day, prayer for family, for work, for our country, prayers of thankfulness, but it seems that my prayer time is spent more seeking resolution to concerns that I have about situations, and giving thanks, and less in adoration of our Lord, this I need to change! I have times each year where I am very fervent, I get up early, I read the Bible and meditate upon the Word of God, and spend time in formal prayer, this can last for a month or more, and then I seem to fizzle out, drift for serveral months, and then get back in line again, this cycle has gone on for a long time, and I get very frustrated with myself. Does anyone else deal with this struggle in their prayer life?

Another area that I struggle is with discernment, we often hear that we should pray for discernment regarding a particular issue we may be dealing with at the time, but it is very difficult to totally remove my own bias about the situation, and truly be open to what God's will is for me. I do know that whatever God's will is for me, it will not contradict the bible, or teachings of the church, but it is extremely difficult to remove my will from the equation. I know that I am not the only one who struggles with this.

Anyway, if you have any suggestions, comments, thoughts, please share.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

How do you deal with hard times in your life?

I know that no one ever said that life is easy, but for some people life seems really hard, and there seem to be no easy answers. I like to read blogs, and some that I follow tell a sad story, the mother who is blessed to stay home and raise/homeschool her children, but has no insurance, and her husband is working three jobs, they are barely scraping by, life is a struggle, they have a lot of medical debt, they are having a hard time seeing God in all of this........the retired couple who want to homestead, but are struggling with health issues, financial issues, and don't know where God is calling them to be. Don't get me wrong, these two bloggers do not complain, generally they are upbeat, but at times their struggles get them down. Life is hard, sometimes it is difficult to find the positives when we are suffering, yet often times it is suffering that brings us closer to God. In the book Anne of Green Gables, Anne says that she is in the depths of despair, and Marilla responds, "to despair is to turn one's back on God", how true this statement is. No matter what is going on in your life it is important to thank God for your blessings, and to know that He is with us at all times.
If I am facing a difficult situation I pray for the grace to see me through it. We should ask others to pray for us when we have difficulties, and we should pray for others when we know they are struggling, and we should let people know that we are praying for them. Often when we are struggling, others are struggling more, a good way to take focus off of your own problems is to help others, donate a little something to the local food bank, or soup kitchen, volunteer, set time aside each day to pray for others, put a smile on your face and praise God, take a moment to lift someone else up with a friendly comment and a smile.
Don't dwell on your issues, this is self-defeating and does not resolve anything. This is not to say that we should ignore problems, we should think about what is going on, pray about it, make a plan of action, and move forward. This saying is an oldie, but a goodie, "Let Go, and Let God".

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sewing, Sewing, Gone!!!

Whew!!! What a busy Friday night. Earlier this week, the mom's who volunteered their sewing services to the marching band, were called to action. A huge roll of sequined material, and a large amount of lycra, some patterns, and thread were delivered to us, and we were asked to have nine jump suits completed for the Color Guard in time for the first marching band competition next Saturday!!! Yikes, after a moment of panic we got ourselves organized, three mom's showed up at my house at 5:30 last night, and we sized, measured, cut, assembled and sewed the jump suits, and at midnight we had them completed, except for hemming the pant legs, and a little finishing to the top. I really think the chocolate zucchini bread helped fuel us along :) All of the jump suits left my house, they will be tried on by the girls, and on Wednesday evening we will make any necessary adjustments, hem the legs, and finish the tops, I hope we are not up until midnight. We had a really nice time, we were busy sewing, sewing, sewing, and chatting, and laughing, and as we worked the evening away.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Busy Time of Year!!

I have to say that every year I never cease to be amazed at the bounty from our gardens, it is amazing just how much grows in such a short period of time,. Thinking back to late April and early May, preparing the gardens, planting the seeds, waiting inpatiently for the first green shoots to appear, then, it seems almost overnight, the plants are established and producing. There is a satisfaction in growing, cooking, and preserving food that you have grown yourself, and an awe in all that is provided for our family, when we are in the garden we feel very close to God!
Well with all of the product out of the garden the canning and freezing has been in overdrive, earlier this summer the green beans and peas were ready, we did about 90 pints of green beans, and a dozen pints of peas. Peas are a lot of work for a little, but I really love peas, and we have had nice time spent together chatting as we shell pea pod after pea pod... Jams are made, the strawberries and black raspberries did well this year, the tomatoes are going crazy, we have put up 63 quarts so far, and more to come, cabbages are looking good, we have a dozen jars of kraut on the go, and another dozen will get started today, green peppers are doing well, we have 5 quart bags of chopped peppers in the freezer, and will be adding to that today. Bags and bags of potatoes and onions are hanging in the basement, and some onions were chopped and bagged an put into the freezer. It is also enjoyable to make meals with most of the ingredients coming out of the garden, we have eaten some of our sweet potatoes, the first time we have grown them, and they were very nice. Our corn did horribly, I think we need to add nitrogen to the soil, but as any gardener knows, there is always next year :)
In addition to all of the harvesting we have been busy with other projects, Dave had to dig up and repair the water pipe coming into the house from the well, it had developed a leak, but is now fixed! I thank God that my husband is always able to take care of things around the house! Dave has also been busy, with the help of our neighbor, putting up fence posts so that the cow pasture can be enlarged, and he had to dig out a tree stump behind the barn so that he can build a lean to for some additional storage. I have been busy sewing, I made a couple of cute shirts for our grandson Henry, a new shirt for Dave, and a couple of shirts for gifts. I am working to finish hand quilting a quilt that has been put aside for a while, my goal is to have it finished by the 14th of September, I work best with a deadline. My next fun little project is to knit a sweater for Henry, winter will be here before we know it.
I love this time of year, the days are beautiful, blue skies, puffy white clouds, low humidity, comfortable temperature, the insects outside make a glorious chorus all day long for us to enjoy, it is truly wonderful. Soon it will be time to clean up the vegetable gardens and let them rest over winter, but by February, when we are inpatient for spring to arrive, we will start planning next years garden and the whole cycle will begin again!
Ways to use some of the bounty from your garden:
Homemade Pizza:
We use a little bit of ranch dressing instead of a tomato based sauce, sometimes we make a wholewheat thin crust, and other times a thick crust, top the pizza with onions, peppers, and tomatoes from the garden, a little seasoning, some cheese, whatever you have handy, and voila - a fabulous pizza for all to enjoy.
Brown up about 1lb of hamburger, add an onion, some potatoes, carrots, cabbage, peppers, tomatoes (if using fresh tomatoes peel them first), celery, a couple cups of broth, season as you would like, I usually add a bit of salt and pepper, and let it cook, this is nice served with cornbread.
Cook tomatoes, diced potatoes, green beans and ham until all vegetables are tender, this is a rich soup, and very nice with cornbread. Generally you do not need to add salt to this, the ham adds enough salt as it cooks.
Egg Mush Sandwiches:
Boil eggs, chop up, add a chopped tomato, add a little mayonaisse, salt and pepper, mix up, serve in sandwiches - this it SO good, even better when served on homemade bread.

Pizza Dough Recipes:
Wholewheat Thin Crust
3 T hot water
3 T milk
1 1/4 tsp yeast
pinch of sugar
pinch of salt
1T oil
3 T wholewheat flour
5/8ths of a cup of white flour.

mix first 6 ingredients together, let yeast start to work, add flours, knead, place in a greased bowl to let dough rise, this should take about 20 minutes. Roll out the dough, add toppings, bake in a 500 degree oven for about 10 minutes, or until done.

Thick and Chewy Pizza Dough
3/4 cup of warm water
1 T yeast
1 teaspoon of sugar
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1 T oil
2 cups of flour

mix first 5 ingredients together, let yeast start to work, add flour, knead, place in a greased bowl to let dough rise, this should take about 20 minutes. Roll out the dough, add toppings, bake in a 425 degree oven for 15 minutes.

Homemade Bread recipe:
Oatmeal Bread
this makes four loaves, they freeze well, just double bag.
1 cup of wholewheat flour
2 cups of oats
1/2 cup of brown sugar, packed
2 T salt
4 T butter
4 cups of boiling water

Mix the above ingredients together, let cool to luke warm.

Mix 2 T yeast with 1 cup of warm water, add to oatmeal mixture.

Add 9 to 10 cups of bread flour, I usually add only 9, and add the last as needed. Knead the dough until it is smooth, about 10 minutes, place in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise, about 40 minutes. Punch down dough, divide into four, using a rolling pin and roll the dough into a large rectangle, fold into thirds, then roll into a loaf, place into baking pan. Cover the pans, let the loaves rise, about an hour and half, then bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 35 minutes, just until lightly brown.