On Mother’s Day….after Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day was just a few days ago, as I’m sure you all well know. It’s hard to miss the flowers, cards, and gigantic balloons (at least they were at our grocery store, the kids loved them!). At our Mass on Sunday, and many churches regardless of denomination, there was a special blessing for mothers and we were given a rose.

I happened to be the one holding Eliza, now almost 16 months old and full of her own spunk and will, so naturally I brought her to the front with me for the blessing and flower. During the course of the blessing, she caught notice of the yellow rose and lunged. What followed was a rather comical tug-o-war between she and I over that rose. At first she managed to simply bruise a few petals, but that’s when her desire to fully experience that rose kicked in. I nearly dropped her while trying not to smack the woman next to me with that tempting rose. Despite my best efforts, she managed to get a hand on it and began squeezing the bloom within an inch of its life. I did salvage some of it, now rather lopsided and looking less than full.

We still brought the damaged rose home, along with a few extras the girls received after Mass concluded. It is in our bouquet on the dining table. As I pass it, I meditate on how it is actually the bruised rose that offers the fullest representation of what motherhood is.

On Mother’s Day, motherhood is held up as the crown of roses it is. Mothers, those with us and those who await us, are celebrated, cherished and loved. And this is both wonderful and important. But Monday always comes. And Tuesday, and Wednesday, and every day after that. GK Chesterton so wisely said, “A crown of roses is also a crown of thorns.”

There are moments of motherhood that are bursting with roses, and those when you are acutely aware of the thorns. And this is true for all vocations.

It makes me wonder whether or not roses had thorns in the Garden of Eden. When everything was in perfect balance, would roses have needed thorns? Before the Fall of Adam and Eve, they lived in perfect harmony with creation and with God. Now, as products of that fall from grace, sweetness is mingled with sour, joy often contains a tinge of sorrow, a rose has a thorn. It goes both ways though, for even in sadness we find hope.

We look to the Cross for our prime example of this. When Jesus died, we don’t call it “Sad Friday”, but “Good Friday”. Here is the most awful, horrific thing that could happen to a human being. Yet we call it “good,” because through this terrible sorrow, the whole course of human history was redirected heavenward.

I hope that the vocation you follow is one blessed with abundant roses, even knowing that mixed in there will be thorns. May the beauty of the rose inspire you to look for the beauty and goodness in your life, even in the midst of the thorns.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

Too much of a good thing + Big Announcement!

I think by now most of you know I enjoy crafting. It is something that fills me up, that brings me joy. As a mom, I want my kids to have a love of creation and creativity. I enjoy sharing my projects with them and letting them help pick out colors, materials, etc. I also love to learn new craft skills (see these cookies or my brief stint at crochet pattern design). As a person, I am a learner. Some people thrive under pressure, others in peace and stillness. I thrive in any type of learning environment/learning experience.

The desire to learn this new craft become all consuming. I am slowly pulling my head out of the sand from such a period of time – English paper piecing people, it’s super awesome and I love it! However, like all parents have said to their children, there can be too much of a good thing.

My outburst of energy and excitement for the new thing completely outshines all the other projects and sometimes, responsibilities, that need my attention. For obvious example, it’s been quite a while since I’ve posted here, for which I sincerely apologize.

I love this blog. I love the space to write, a place to share my thoughts, ideas and hopefully my feeble witness to our beautiful faith lived in the everyday ordinariness of my life. As I’ve mentioned before, I am as surprised as anyone that this blog is still even a thing, since my usual habit pattern is to follow the bright shiny new craft/project until another one comes along. That is almost what happened these past few months.

No, I haven’t been English paper piecing this whole time (for those who didn’t click the link, basically it’s a kind of hand sewn quilting method). I was writing, a lot actually. Just not here.

I’m pleased to announce, and hopefully by announcing it here I will find the inspiration, stamina and discipline to finish, that I am in the process of writing a book.

Yikes, I said it. Yes, I am writing a book. 2 if I’m perfectly honest, but one is more of a long term goal versus the immediate project. I’m avoiding saying “trying” because that’s the kind of attitude that has filled up too many craft bins of unfinished “bright shinies” that no longer hold my interest.

So, this book. It’s actually in a rather different direction than what I usually write. The book is tentatively titled In the Person of Christ and is an in-depth look at St. Paul’s Christological hymn in Philippians 2:5-11. The idea springs two places. First, from the popularity of the Lent and Advent Lectio Divina journals. Second, from a blog post I read about a group of monks who have all 150 Psalms memorized so that they are able to say their daily prayers without needing any texts. Amazing, right!?!

From my general and theological reading, and conversations with friends, it has become apparent to me (and this is also apparent to many other Catholics), that our love for God’s Word is quite simply, lacking. We know a few stories, some nice parables, perhaps a miracle or two, but that’s it. The Bible isn’t often an integral part of our daily prayer, and our primary exposure is readings at Mass. There are books upon books, videos upon videos, about the Scriptures. These are fantastic resources, but they can be often large, overwhelming, or simply contain too much information for any fruitful prayer to result.

We should love the Scriptures. We should be able to keep it upon our lips and hold it at the forefront of our thoughts. My book will, I hope, inspire you to pray more deeply with this specific passage as well as see the fruits of having a Scripture passage memorized.

This book is part journal, part guided lectio, part Scripture study and part memorization tools. Here’s how it will work. I am breaking down the hymn into its individual verses. Each chapter begins with the focus verse and a page for guided lectio divina and journaling. This is similar to the lectio divina journals. Then, after praying with the Scripture, I offer a well researched and concise study of the verse. I have spent a great deal of time reading articles and listening to lectures about the Christological hymn. St. Paul packs so much into these few verses, it’s incredible! That is why I wanted to take it slowly, verse by verse, so we can really soak up and allow God’s Word to mould our hearts.

The final piece is memorization. There is something to be said about the things we can rattle off without thinking. How many songs do we know by heart? How many math facts can we say without thinking? What stories and fables from our childhood do we still remember? Our brains have an incredible capacity for information and when we work at it, for memorization. How wonderful would it be if, like those monks, we had a Psalm for when we are worried, or when we are bursting with joy? In this case, by the end of the book you will have memorized 7 of the most powerful verses in the New Testament. The message of these verses quite literally changed the world.

This book is still in progress, but I do have a draft of the first chapter to share with you. I would love to hear your thoughts, feedback, comments, critiques, anything that you think would help make this project a success. (A quick note, I do know that some of the footnotes may not be complete/in the proper format yet. As I said, work in progress) My aggressive timeline is to have a final draft in the hands of an editor before we start up homeschool in mid-August. Click on the link below to see the draft.

In the Person of Christ Chapter 1 Draft

I hope you enjoy this sample. If nothing else, please pray for the success of this book and the people who will read it. It is my deepest wish that through it, they fall more deeply in love with God and His Word.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Landmarks

We were driving into Austin, TX so that Ben could run in the marathon (He’s insane, in my humble opinion. But he finished under his goal and we are super proud!). Per our usual arrangement, Ben was driving and I was navigating. I started chuckling to myself as I told him he would need to turn left ahead, and that there would be a Joe’s Crab Shack on the right. Usually, I don’t give him references like that, and he made a funny face. “What?” I said, “Google says so.” Within the directions on my phone it had not just what streets to turn on, but it also gave landmarks for most of them. This was new to us.

Google told us things like “Pass by the Pizza Hut on the left,” and “Turn before the Wendy’s across the street on the right.” I don’t think this is a feature everywhere (I ran a search from our house to base and didn’t get any helpful hints). But Austin is a major city, so I imagine this is the the next step for Google navigation.

I am more of a landmark based direction person. I can find my way around much better if I can connect a memory to the location or the steps in the directions. This was clear on the way back to the car when I found myself saying things like,”Oh we have to turn here because remember, John, you saw the longhorn statue,” and “I think we keep going straight because we need to pass the corner where that huge tree is.”

Landmarks, large and small, trigger memories. They cause us to think of something. The Statue of Liberty may bring forward memories of a visit to Ellis Island or perhaps your sophomore year high school history class learning about the Irish Famine and the immigrants who passed under her torch. A picture of Mt. Everest might make you think of endurance, persistence and the ultimate challenge. Maybe seeing the Grand Canyon or the Golden Gate Bridge will make you recall a favorite vacation or family who live nearby.

Landmarks

Our lives are filled with landmarks.  We all have favorite spots, restaurants, parks, places that hold fond memories. There are also landmarks that don’t necessarily hold memories, rather they serve as guideposts. They are the landmarks that help us remember how to get where we want to go. On our way to base, Clare, who is 3, can shout out at least 4 different landmarks along the route. There’s that coffee shop you pass on your daily run, which subconsciously lets  you know you only have 1 mile left until you are home. You pass by a pizza place or go over a bridge every time you go to your grandma’s house.

The Church, wise as she is, give us lots and lots of landmarks, both big and small. The big ones – the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, Chartes Cathedral, The Chapel of the Nativity, and so so many more. The point of these immense spaces is to point our gaze heavenward. They are beautiful in their own right, but they are also beautiful because they show us a glimpse of a deeper reality. If you would like an example, check out this short (6 minutes) video excerpt from Bishop Robert Barron’s Catholicism series.

As reflective individuals, we have the opportunity to decorate our homes and environments. We surround ourselves with images, furniture, and necessities. Some of these items we need, like clothes, cooking supplies, food, etc. Others are more decorative – pictures on the wall, stylized couches and tables, calendars, books, clocks, and accessories. We can, and often do, place certain items with great care and in specific rooms. The dining table obviously goes in the dining room or kitchen. A pull-out couch or bed would be out of place in the patio.

Just as the everyday items of our home “belong” certain places, religious items too can have great significance on what goes on in that space. They serve as landmarks within our home, helping to guide our families’ day along paths of holiness. A crucifix in each bedroom is a great place to start. Many families have a small holy water font by the front door. Perhaps an icon of the Holy Trinity, whose image the family reflects, would fit well in your living or dining room. Our kids have an icon of their saint namesake in their bedrooms. Ben’s grandmother has a small photograph of a young refugee girl near her front door because it reminds her to pray for all those who will spend the day/night without a home, especially refugees. I have an icon of Mary and a few prayer cards scattered throughout the kitchen because they remind me to approach the day as Mary did, with a smile and a Yes to God’s will.

What sorts of landmarks do you have in your home that help you and your family keep on your path to holiness? Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com