Objects

mockingbirdMy daughter, Cara will be eight months old on Saturday. Her requirements for object appreciation consist in the object’s size and portability. She prefers objects that she can a) hold in her hand and b) can be brought to her mouth or crawled with. Shapes, textures, and colors, if considered at all, are secondary considerations. This morning after finding her uncomfortably close to the litter box, I saw some brown poking out from her hand and thought she was handling some cat creations. Fortunately the brown object in question was actually a plastic rabbit. Whew.

Lillian at 2.5 years old appreciates objects on a different level. She adores all kinds of little objects and seems to revel in her ability to exercise control over them. She likes handling things and sorting them into different kinds of containers, by color or size or some quality I’ve yet to figure out. She is a huge fan of surprise egg videos on YouTube. Also surprise eggs at home: placing small objects into the eggs, collecting them, opening them, leaving easter egg shells all over the house.

Oliver handles objects as you would expect a grown man to handle objects. Functionality. Efficiency. Doesn’t seem to get attached to stuff. He’s cool that way.

I have spent the last week or so sweeping through the house decluttering and collecting things to be taken to the local thrift store. I’m always surprised how attached I become to things that I hardly have any use for. Each time I drop things off I find myself pulling this item or that item from the bag, as if my keeping the item will keep a particular time alive in my life. I’m also surprised by the seemingly insignificant moments that I remember so clearly, while I don’t remember many details from big events.

Touching my hardcover edition of To Kill a Mockingbird, I remember clearly laying on a backpacking hammock hanging from a defunct batting cage at my parents’ house on a bright and hot summer day and reading. I can’t figure out why I remember this tiny and serene moment. There is no reason for me to remember it. Nothing special happened. I have spent countless hours in my youth reading outside from various perches. But I remember.

I think that maybe those moments are in some way significant, thought perhaps only because an invisible current of God’s grace bubbled up to the surface as a hard heart cracked open in pressure of raw beauty in nature or art found unexpectedly close to home.

To Kill a Mockingbird will always be spared from bookshelf weeding.

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Oratory Update and Printable

oratoryupdateandprintableDaily prayer with toddler and baby has been going surprisingly well. I’ve been getting the little pebbles together every morning after breakfast. We gather around the little oratory, pass around the rosaries and light our Candlemas candle. We pray. I promise toddler that she can blow the candle out. No one’s long, silky hair has caught on fire yet. We try to keep the fighting to a minimum. I consider it a win. The whole process takes us about five to ten minutes. We keep it simple at Casa Stone.

The surprising thing that I’ve noticed so far is the extent to which Lillian enjoys the ritual. She likes things done in the same way every time, and everyone has to have the same rosary. She can almost make the sign of the cross.

One thing I’ve struggled with is figuring out which prayers I want to pray daily. I knew I wanted to pray the morning offering, but I couldn’t remember the words…so I created a little printable cheat sheet for myself! I meant it to be printed as a 4×6 so that I could use it as a prayer card to keep tucked away and then nipped out when I needed it.

To print a copy for yourself, just click on the image to view the full size and then right click to save the image. Enjoy!

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Make the Wait Worth It

weddingI keep writing about the same subject, but perhaps it’s as helpful as writing about the reflections in the many facets of the same gem. Here we go again!

I fall, sometimes, into the dangerous trap of seeing Oliver’s conversion as a goal which, once attained, will make my life easier and more enjoyable. I would be able to hang religious images in my house, and I might have someone who can take Lillian out of Mass if when she becomes unruly. I might be able to create family celebrations around feast days. I might be able to pray over my dinner, or hold a rosary in a thunderstorm without being questioned. I subconsciously think that if I can just hold on until that moment, then my entire life would be renovated and made new.

But that’s selfish.

Extremely selfish, I might add. I ought to desire Oliver’s conversion solely because I think it will do him good to have a relationship with a person, Jesus Christ, and be able to ultimately inherit eternal life with Him. It’s wrong of me to ever view my husband’s spiritual life as a problem to be fixed. The view is too narrow. I should always be praying for him in every aspect of his life.

The goal mindset also discounts God’s ability to use this indeterminate wait to allow me to grow in holiness and shape me into someone entirely new. Someone who may be able to more consistently rise above her selfishness to desire the ultimate good, even at tremendous cost to herself, of her spouse.

My homegirl, Servant of God Elizabeth Leseur says this of the same trial in which I have been living:

And then one’s self-love does not like a state of things that makes one less esteemed and appreciated and apparently unequal to one’s task. That perhaps is the true, hidden fruit of this trial: a little useful humiliation, less dangerous sympathy and admiration, very deep pain that does not elicit any praise.

Y’all. Don’t waste the wait.

Trust God and allow him to infuse your wait with meaning. There is no “happily ever after” here. We are all pilgrims. There is only more journey.

[Funny story. Oliver and I were married as two non-Christian, unbaptized people in a Catholic Church before the Blessed Sacrament by a Church of Christ minister. It sounds like it could be the start of a joke. For serious.]

On Tending My Garden

tendinggarden

In my vocation as wife and mother, God has given me three people to nurture, three little plants in to keep in my own little garden.

I keep a close eye on each one. I pick off the beetles and caterpillars. I cover them in the frost. I give each one the nutrients fit for the particular plant, watching soil acidity and drainage. Making sure that each receives the correct amount of water and sun. Under this discerning care, the plant thrives and produces its fruit.

At least that’s how my garden should be tended.

Sometimes I feel as though I’ve made an awful mess of my garden. I’ve treated my peppers the same way as my tomatoes while ignoring my pecan tree altogether, all the while tapping my toes, scowling while waiting for that fruit to drop into my crotchety crossed arms.

That is to say, I’m learning to love my family selflessly and the process takes time. Time and practice. You learn in the doing.

There are times in my marriage when my husband says something that, in some small way, by word or look or sigh, resembles a type of soft persecution. He loves me, but not always in the way that I want to be loved.

In my hurt pride I am tempted to withdraw my love and affection to weep and mourn remember to trust less next time, at least until he gives me what I think I deserve. I find I have a tremendous capacity for self pity.

But that is the exact opposite of what I should be doing.

He is not my enemy. We have a common enemy.

My duty is to love more and be patient and tend my pear tree with the same tenderness as I do my delicate sprouts.

But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. Matthew 5:44-45

In Honor of the Sacred Heart

This week I have been thinking about teaching my Lillian how to pray.

I have found it tricky (on the level of defusing a bomb) to be a Christian out loud in front of my children, and in secret in front of my husband. Sometimes it’s like living with a divided heart. Oliver does not enjoy seeing religious images popping up in our house. And yet enjoy seeing beautiful reminders of my faith throughout the day. Our little compromise is this: I can hang up crosses received as a gift, and I can put some images in my bathroom and on the wall immediately above my little bedside table.

It’s a small space, but I am trying to turn bedside table area into a little oratory so that we can have a beautiful focal point to gather in front of after breakfast to start our day. (For more info about oratories plus picture inspiration, go here!)

So far I have a crucifix, an image of the Visitation of Mary from The Little Oratory book which I won in a giveaway and a print of the Holy Family that I got from Edel last year (Lillian LOVES that one!). I can’t afford very much, and my husband wouldn’t be comfortable with anything too “shriney” popping up in our bedroom. I keep thinking that I may as well create some images for myself!

So here is a one-two punch: the prayer Anima Christi and the Sacred Heart of Jesus all in the same image! These two do not technically go together, but as with so much in the Catholic faith they still kinda do! Click on the image to view the full size, and right click and save if you would like a copy of this 5×7 printable image for yourself! Enjoy!

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Why I Remain Catholic

Can I tell you something private?

Living in an unequally yoked marriage is hard, y’all. Really, really hard. When you don’t agree with your spouse about what’s most important in life? Yeah. Hard.

There have been many times in the bleak loneliness in which I’ve thought that it would be easier to throw off my Catholicism and resume living secular life. I wasn’t raised Catholic; I spent years of my life espousing Wiccan, Pagan and Deist ideas. My parents aren’t religious. My spouse isn’t religious. You wanna know what keeps me Catholic?

I believe that the claims of the Catholic Church are true.

And my troubles? They’re nothing in comparison to the gift of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist.

towhomsmall

Epic Sunday Prints

Yesterday was an epic Sunday! It was both Trinity Sunday and the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the anniversary of my consecration to Jesus through Mary! I absolutely adore seeing the feast and solemnity fall on the same day because of Mary’s intimacy with the Holy Trinity: daughter of the Father, mother of the Son and spouse of the Holy Spirit! In honor of this beautiful day I created some printable files from a couple of watercolor drawings, just click on the image to see the full size, then right click and save. These are 8×10. Enjoy! auspicemaria1 visitation