Woman at Home Daybook :: Vol. 12 (returning at last)

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This day in the Liturgical Year . . .

Friday, December 7th, 2018 A.D.; First Friday; Vigil of the Immaculate Conception; feast of St. Ambrose (Bishop, Confessor & Doctor).

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My youngest sister is an expert on beautifully playing with hair . . .

Outside the window . . .

Gray, cold, a little bit foreboding . . . tomorrow, we’re supposed to have drearily cold temps and a downpour of rain. But nothing can dampen the cheer of Our Lady’s feast day and The Dash and I’s 15-month anniversary, of course ❀

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The Dash and I went to a campus event last week — we saw Jon McLaughlin in concert! He was fantastic!!

Sounds throughout the house . . .

My brother whistling “Let it Snow” while he does school; Lena‘s keyboard clattering away in the next room.

Wearing . . .

Sweats . . . (embarrassed face) . . . I’ll shower later and get dressed properly for tonight’s Mass πŸ˜‰

Attempts in the kitchen . . .

Well . . . yes, I suppose there was Thanksgiving. πŸ™‚ My poor grandmother was sick and wasn’t able to join us; it was the first Thanksgiving ever where we cooked every dish, so Wednesday and Thursday cumulatively gave our single oven an incredible workout — but it was a success! Best of all, it was The Dash and I’s first Thanksgiving Day actually spent together, since my family and I traveled out of town last year. It’s very easy to feel especially grateful when my amazing guy is around πŸ˜‰

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My apple pies . . . (after having made them 11 years straight, these were an epic case of smoke and spilling juices, let me tell you . . .)

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Our annual cranberry bread and beloved book, which I brought and read to my co-op kids a few weeks ago πŸ˜‰

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I made a quadruple batch of jambalaya the other day . . . it turned out pretty good, and I must say it’s a fun thing to make because, for my memory, it’s tied in with The Dash and I’s early days of getting to know one another. For some reason, our early encounters were all marked by jambalaya!

With it being this time of the year, it’s been admittedly difficult to eat as anti-inflammatory as I’d been hoping. But although I did cheat a little here and there, with it being Thanksgiving, I was still overall eating more cleanly than I had in months, and yet I had a pretty rough case of symptoms two Sundays ago and was left wondering how much of this I can control with food 😦 I hate to sound discouraged but am just trying to put everything in God’s hands and surrender to His Will in this.

Lena has been doing lovely culinary things lately, and I have to brag on her . . . pumpkin pie from scratch, lemon icebox pie from scratch, and of course, with yesterday being St. Nicholas’ feast, she made our annual St. Nicholas cookies (need I say from scratch?), expertly frosted to look just like him πŸ˜‰

A note on projects . . .

Our last co-op class for the year was on Tuesday . . . although I’ll be physically happy for the break, I’m sure going to miss all the little guys! The Tuesday prior to that, we had our Advent presentations, and I am so very proud of how well all my kids did with performing the songs!

On another note, in my spare time, I’ve been listening quite a lot to the soundtrack for The Village and rewriting my childhood fantasy epic, thanks in great part to The Dash playing up my story to a dear lady who elicited a promise from me that I would have chapters for her by the time he graduates next Saturday. Thus, I’ve been writing (I can’t break a promise!!!), and enjoying it in a way I truthfully haven’t experienced in years.

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Hopefully The Dash won’t kill me for sharing this picture . . . we have been keeping our ballroom dancing skills in shape, although we definitely amend the tango because some of it is just not kosher for courting couples πŸ˜‰

In choir we are churning full-steam ahead in preparation for High Mass on the 16th, which is also our parish’s day for Confirmations — 36 Confirmandi! That’s a huge day coming up. And then High Mass on Christmas Eve . . . needless to say, we are wading through a lot of beautiful and challenging music.

And then, of course, it’s only a few weeks until Christmas, which means projects of that sort are demanding to be launched . . . I’m getting there, but this is the busiest December in my memory and so consequently I feel a teensy bit behind πŸ˜‰

I’ve got cleaning/sanitizing to do, as my poor youngest sister is sick again and the rest of us are trying to stay well 😦

Reading . . .

Conversation with Christ and Introduction to the Devout Life, when I can.

Contemplating . . .

I can’t sugar-coat it . . . there is so much going on this month. My grandmother is going to be moving in less than a week, God-willing, and we’re helping her; The Dash has finals, then graduates in seven days and starts working full time immediately after; babysitting; family is traveling into town; we have High Masses and Christmas; then we have a big family wedding 10 hours away, which Lena and I are planning to sing for . . .

On top of that, I came into December burdened by really unusual fatigue. I wanted to leap into Advent and immerse myself in silence and better prayer routine, as well get on top of things quickly for logistical Christmas planning. Instead, I found myself worn thin and exhausted for days, fighting a headache and struggling to get the most basic things accomplished. It was really humbling and very difficult to not succumb to discouragement over (ahem) my plans and expectations for my energy level being “thwarted.”

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(My brother snapped this pic from the backseat when The Dash and I were out recently πŸ˜‰ )

Thankfully, I’m feeling more energized now and am trying to simply give God whatever I have, be it a lot, a little, or seemingly nothing at all, and asking Him to help me have radical humility in the face of my pride, expectations and plans this Advent.

On living the Faith . . .

Making a stubborn, imperfect effort to incorporate mental prayer on a daily basis. Everyone needs to read Conversation with Christ, a compendium of sorts of St. Teresa of Avila’s doctrine on prayer.

Prayerfully . . .

Praying for aid, clarity and strength on multiple fronts. Don’t forget about the St. Andrew Christmas Novena!

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Tiredness

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Just a little sleepy πŸ˜‰

I am an energetic person by nature, a happy person by temperament (and God’s grace!) . . . but sometimes (like today), I am just tired. Tired and grouchy-feeling. How tempting it is to be discouraged by these feelings of tiredness and grouchiness, to be frustrated when I give into them and consequently don’t have that same I’m-so-happy-to-be-around-my-family shine as I usually do.

What am I doing?! I groan inwardly. I just went to Mass this morning!

And I did. In a little chapel with Lena and three friends and a marvelous priest. Everything was soft and still. Hoc est enim Corpus Meum. What a gift. For a little while now, I’ve been praying hard for the eventual gift of daily Latin Mass nearby, that I can attend every morning. But for now, once a week has been amazing!

I drove Lena and myself home through a light drizzle, the two of us chattering happily. I came in and had my fasting breakfast. I went upstairs and took a shower. And . . . I came out tired.

I’m sure it has something to do with being human. With early mornings, less food, family members being gone, teaching a classroom of girls, running up and down our lane until I can’t breathe (i.e., training for a 5K) and, because of my lack of virtue, so often failing to accept these feelings of tiredness and grumpiness as Crosses, and to embrace them with a joy that radiates to where no one can tell that I’m feeling grumpy at all. I’m working on the joy. Do you know how it is when the smallest acts of simple decent human kindness seem almost impossible to achieve? (I know . . . it’s the signal that I need a nap πŸ˜‰ I think I will lie down shortly . . . )

My youngest sister has a cold. Lemon and melaleuca are being diffused in the living room. I gave her a mini-concert and played on the guitar, singing songs I’d written, for half an hour earlier. Things are gray outside. Lena is leaving on Friday. A whole week without her is a strange prospect; quite possibly a very light foretaste of the future in which she might be in her house at Ephesus and I’m in my house surrounded by a future beautiful brood of children. Does God intend for the majority of our earthly sisterhood, our close earthly companionship that has been particularly close ever since our early teen years, to be spent apart, joined together by letters and prayers, but by only the barest human contact?

Of course, the thought brings both spiritual joy and human tears. Joy for vocation and for becoming saints. This is what Lena and I want more than anything! But tears for the little daily things that will pass away and leave a void capable of being filled only by God; the countless conversations, the little jokes, the giggles, the hugs, the knowing of what the other is thinking and feeling in a way only sisters can, the shared daily prayers and devotions, Mass together, two white mantillas side-by-side. To some degree, it would still pass away even if we were both married . . . but not as radically as this. The little things will pass for a time, but the love will remain. Those who sow in tears shall reap rejoicing. And I am already rejoicing with excitement and gratitude at what God may have in store for my dear sister, and for me, and for our sisterhood.

This Lent has been unlike any other. The fasting is a great challenge; not just the absence of food, but using the absence of food to gain mastery over oneself and grow in virtue. That is the hardest part. It has been exactly two weeks now since Lent began. Three weeks to corrupt a vice, three weeks to instill a virtue. At this rate, I’m 2/3 of the way through corrupting the vice of intemperance . . . and then, after another week or so, I’ll begin to instill the virtue of fasting.

Perseverance!

Fr. Ripperger’s talks atΒ Sensus Traditionis have been one of my mainstays. It is unspeakably consoling to receive truth and guidance in the form of masculine, priestly, fatherly direction. I can’t seem to get enough. I also just finished his “The Spirituality of the Ancient Liturgy” from Latin Mass Magazine, and this paragraph struck me particularly (no wonder, after having just attended Mass!):

The ancient ritual also gives one a taste of heaven, so to speak. Since the altar marks the dividing line between the profane and sacred, between the heavenly and the earthly, and the priest ascends to the altar to offer Sacrifice, the traditional rite leaves one with a sense of being drawn into heaven with the priest. This feature naturally draws us into prayer and gives the sense of the transcendent and supernatural that are key in the spiritual life. The numerous references to the saints foster devotion rather than minimizing it. The Latin provides a sense of mystery. The beauty of the ritual, the surroundings that naturally flow from the ritual itself (such as the churches that are designed for the ritual), the chant – all of these things lead to contemplation, the seeking after that which is above.

Life is beautiful, because God is Supreme Beauty and He provides so many channels of grace for us through the Sacraments, through prayer, through pursuing the virtues. We can all be saints if only we continuously trust and try. Perhaps the tired days are the most beautiful days of all; or they can be, if only I ask for His grace and participate in it with joy πŸ˜‰ Always and everywhere, Deo Gratias!

P.S. Keep praying for Baby Isaac’s complete healing! https://www.facebook.com/Prayers-for-Baby-Isaac-1977272082313227/

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