Wednesday, December 27, 2017

A Very Merry Christmas to You!!!

Hello friends!  I would like to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas!  Just like Catherine @ The Rebelling Muse, my family and I celebrate the Christmas season from Dec. 25th to Feb. 2nd!  Today is the 3rd day of Christmas.  You know, like in the song?

enjoyed a beautiful Mass on Christmas morning with friends and family.  It was very moving to see the statue of Baby Jesus at the foot of the altar where Father and the servers said their prayers as we sang "O Come, All Ye Faithful." πŸ˜’πŸ’—

Photo Credit: Mr. Wilson

I'm so grateful to God for all the blessings I have received this Advent and Christmas. It has truly been a season that embodied the saying, "It is better to give than to receive." 

I have a story to tell you.  One that I will treasure always.  It was a few days before this Christmas.  Walmart was bustling with many last minute Christmas shoppers and the traditional Christmas carols brought a smile to my face.  Everyone, although rushed, seemed a little more happy.  A little more pleasant.  Smiles and sayings of "Merry Christmas" were exchanged.  As my family and I stood in line to check out, the lady behind us in line inquired after the chocolate oranges we were purchasing.  We told her what section of the store they were in and she proceeded to go look for them.  After a little absence from her cart, she returned, empty handed.  I figured she probably wasn't able to find them and then got the idea to go get them for her.  I asked my sister if she knew exactly where the oranges were and she did, so we offered to the lady to run and get them for her.  She gratefully accepted and we were off in a hurry to find 3 chocolate oranges.  I felt like an elf on a mission.  We walked hastily through the crowded aisles right to the candy section.  Then Jacquie spotted them.  We carefully picked out 3 pretty boxes, inspecting the packaging to make sure they looked nice, and then sped off back to the checkout.  We delivered the delicious oranges to a grateful shopper.  It was so much fun to bring a little joy to someone!!

Jesus has truly blessed me with some great opportunities for giving this Christmas and this year.  I have been given so much that I could never repay; but I'm so glad I had even this little opportunity to give back and share the light of CHRISTmas.

Photo credit: Jacquie, my sister.  I made this ornament in 2003.  πŸ˜ I loved the violin and still do.

Merry Christmas, dear friends!  May the newborn Christ Child bless and keep you all.  

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Gifts and Decorations Made With Love

Hello dear friends!

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!!  😍 πŸŽ„  I don't really go shopping for gifts on my own yet, but this year, I was inspired to look up some sweet DIY Christmas gifts and decorations.  I've gotten some supplies and made these very easily.  You can too!  It's never too late to make some fun decorations even after Christmas day during the Christmas season.

The first Christmas craft I made this season was a clementine ornament!  Of course, you can use the traditional oranges or even apples, but we had clementines on hand and they make a cute mini version.  The smell of orange and clove on your hands as you make these is like nothing else.  It's scrumptious.  I found the directions to make them in Elsie's Christmas Party.   There aren't many rules to making these.  Just have fun and get creative!  Pinterest has lots of designs and fun inspiration.  I used a hardware hook in the top of one of mine to loop the ribbon through so it could hang as an ornament.

The tutorial for this cute geometric bowl can be found here!  It's pretty easy and quick.  All you need is some festive scrapbook paper (or any paper, really) and some glue!

These little "stars" πŸ˜‰ are so cute!  The tutorial to make them is over here.  I didn't use 81/2" by 11" paper, but instead I used old book pages.  These stars were made from the pages of the Mass for Christmas out of last year's pew missal.  See the words "conceive", "Emmanuel", and "diadem"?  Pretty neat, huh?  I got addicted to making these pretty quickly.

Up next on my list of crafty dΓ©cor is this upcycled music star.  I haven't done it yet, but it looks pretty simple.  The best bonus is that you probably have everything you need for this one around your house yet the result is beautiful.  Here are the directions to make it!

And finally, I thought these wine cork Christmas trees were just too cute!  You can find the directions here.  I haven't made them yet.  I might attempt it during the Christmas season though.  We have a bucket full of wine corks that we've collected for a long time.  There are a lot more creative uses for these during Christmas and all year through on Pinterest!

These fun and simple crafts make great gifts for anyone or beautiful decorations around your own festive home.  Have you tried any of these before or something like them?  How did it go?  I'd love to hear your last minute Christmas gift and decoration ideas in the comments below!

God bless you and keep you!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Once Upon a December...

Have you heard
There's a rumor in St. Petersburg?

I am in love! Yes! With the new Broadway musical, Anastasia!

This post is gonna be full of beauty and feels!

In August, I started listening to the Anastasia Original Broadway Cast Recording on YouTube.  And it is absolutely FANTASTIC!!  The music score and everyones' singing is beautiful and moving.

Here is a list of my favorite things about Anastasia...

This is my favorite song on the soundtrack!! (At least out of the new songs not in the cartoon.)

The costumes are absolutely stunning!!!

The cast is extremely talented, funny, and sweet.

So sad this guy is leaving the cast...  My tears flow like the Neva.
Oh yeah!  And Christy Altomare's blogs on are awesome!  So much fun and so many shenanigans. πŸ˜‰

But y'all.  The music is just. the. best. Period.  I don't know how to link to Spotify on here, but just go look it up.  It's incredible. 😍😍😍

Once Upon a December...
This is me every single time I listen to Anastasia.  Or talk about it.  Or hear about it. 😍
I love these two so much!
My Petersburg
But what I love most is the message of this musical.  It's a clean message.  No language in the soundtrack.  It's a message of love and family.  It's a story of a young girl finding herself.  It's a grand adventure, beautiful romance, and lovely story the whole family can enjoy.  I pray one day I'm privileged enough to see it live on stage.

Maybe my blog should have been blue, pink, and purple themed for December.  πŸ˜‰

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men

Hello dear friends,

I wanted to share with you my main meditation this Advent season.  As you probably know, my family and I don't celebrate Christmas festivities during the advent season.  Instead, we meditate on and wait for the coming of Christ, both at Christmas and at the end of time.

This week, we celebrated the feast of the Immaculate Conception.  At Mass, the priest talked about how the miracle of the Immaculate Conception teaches us to acknowledge the sanctity of EVERY human life starting from conception to natural death. 

The Immaculate Conception teaches us that life indeed does begin at conception.  If it didn't, then Mary wouldn't have been Immaculately conceived.  The Immaculate Conception is the dogma that Mary was conceived in the womb of her mother, St. Anne, without the stain of Original Sin.  That means sin never touched her soul.

And now, John Horvat, from the TFP, has written this absolutely beautiful article which also ties in with my meditations for Advent:

Christ Still Finds Room in White House Inn – Even in ‘Post-Christian’ America

"Christmas is a reminder that all things are possible with God. Indeed, on that ineffable night when a Savior was born to Mary ever Virgin, an immense impossibility became possible: the God-man was born.
In these days so much like those of Christ’s time when everything seemed impossible, similar wonders can happen. "

All of this brings me to my own thoughts.  Especially at Christmastime, we think of our brothers and sisters in Christ.

I want peace among all people.  The peace that only the Good God can give.  This Advent, I am praying for the conversion of hearts.  Especially for those of poor sinners and those in my country.   My soul aches for those in sin.  The miracle of the Immaculate Conception gives us an image of what God really intends for our souls.  He wants us to be perfectly happy with Him, free from sin, our wills in perfect accord with His Holy Will.

You are a child of God.  He made you in His image.  And as such, I love you immensely.   But I do not condone sin.  As it is commonly said, "Hate the sin, not the sinner."  In the charity that comes from recognizing the dignity of a human person and seeing the image of God in them, I pray for and love these people.  I pray that one day, they may come to realize their sin, to repent, to turn to the most loving and merciful Jesus, and follow Him.

This is the same Jesus, who came into the world, just like you and me.  A tiny human.  He came to share in our humanity.  This is the same Jesus who ate with sinners and called them out of the darkness of sin.

"And Jesus said: Neither will I condemn thee. Go, and now sin no more." ~John 8:11 (DRB)

This is the same Jesus who suffered every humiliation in His agony.  The scourging, the crowning of thorns, the long hard road, the huge and heavy cross on His back, the stripping of His garments, the nailing of His hands and feet to the cross, the mockery of the people, and even death.  He endured all of this, for you.

This Advent and Christmas season, let us never forget why Jesus came into the world and did all of this.  He wanted to bring souls to Himself.  He wants everyone to be happy with Him forever in Heaven.  Come to the child in the manger.  Thank Him for all He has done for you.  Then, go as the shepherds,

"...glorifying and praising God, for all the things they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them." ~Luke 2:20

Bring your family, your friends, and even the hardest sinners in prayer to the Christ Child in the manger.   Together, let us give Him one of the greatest gifts we could give.  Our complete trust in His Divine Will.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Book Review: The Rose and the Sword

Well hello friends!

I'm here with my first book review in the history of this blog.  I, of course, have wanted to do a few other book reviews for a very long time, but my feelings about them have not quite come as easily as my feelings for this book, which says a lot because those books too, have found a special place in my heart.

I won this book in a Christmas Catholic Teen Book Giveaway and have not been sponsored to write this review.

Upon receiving this book, I actually had no previous knowledge of it.  I began reading it without even reading the back cover (as it was on my Kindle) or any reviews.  I didn't even realize it was the second in a series, but it stands alone very well.  For review purposes, here's the synopsis from Amazon:
Can a rose survive in winter?

Rebecca Veritas is a new college graduate, eager to pursue her dreams as a clinical psychologist. After receiving a full scholarship for an internship recommended by her old professor and friend Dr. Everson, she leaves the quiet suburban town of Cedar Heights for the big city of Los Angeles. As she adjusts to her new surroundings, beginning to work with her assigned mentor and a wide variety of clients with all the enthusiasm of a fresh intern, she finds solace in a mysterious antique bookstore. Yet, as her thoughts still linger on someone from her past, she is unaware that the present has the potential to haunt her the most. As time passes, a growing sense of unease quickly transitions into more disturbing events that make her question if all is as it seems. When circumstances take an eerie turn, Rebecca will find herself a player on a larger scale than she had ever anticipated, a scale that could cause one to pay the ultimate price.

In this riveting sequel to I Thirst (2013 YATR Literary Award for Best Prologue), the adventures of Rebecca Veritas, the young, introspective dreamer with an inclination toward random insanity, continue.

I just finished reading "The Rose and the Sword" because I could not put it down! I enjoyed it thoroughly and can't wait for the next installment in the series! I was so glad to have many things in common with the main character, Rebecca, including our love of Anne of Green Gables, our friendship with St. Anthony, and relationship with St. Therese.

 In the first chapter we meet Rebecca at her job at the campus bookstore.  Immediately, we begin to accompany her on her day to day adventures.  And I have to be honest.  The first chapter gripped me and I was hooked.  I can't say what exactly did it.  Was it that she was a Catholic young lady like myself trying to stay pure in the world and explain her faith to others or was it the grown up atmosphere that college themed books and movies hold?  Probably both.  I also enjoy how the story is written in first person.

The book does have some mature content throughout (which is not necessarily surprising in a book about college students), so I would suggest it for mature 17 year olds to 18 year olds and up.  Of course, there is nothing severely inappropriate. I think the authoress has done a great job writing a thrilling book for young people without including anything inappropriate or scandalous.

Even though this is the second book in the series, it stands well on it's own as I haven't read the first one. The book is written exceptionally well with easy to read chapters. I like how the book did not always explain things right away, but left you thinking about what might have happened, or will happen, from chapter to chapter. The book was written in a thought provoking manner and the use of poetry provided ample stimulation for the imagination. Rebecca's best friend, Peter, quickly became one of my favorite characters and kindred spirits. Of course the best thing about the novel is that the Catholic faith is Rebecca and Peter's center and strength. There aren't many good books about young people in the 21st century who live the beautiful Catholic faith. This book is truly one of them.

I give this book a 4.5 out of 5 stars!!  It's sweet, exciting, fun, and beautiful!  Definitely a great gift idea for girls in college and the Catholic young women in your life!

Thank you for this wonderful book Mrs. Sweeney!

If you'd like to get a cop of the Rose & The Sword, head over to Amazon!  HERE!!

God bless you!
(Not my artwork)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Please pray with me! St. Andrew's Christmas Novena Begins TODAY!

Salve! (Means "hello" in Latin! πŸ˜‰​ )

Today is the feast of St. Andrew and the start of the St. Andrew Christmas Novena. It is prayed 15 times a day starting today through Christmas eve. I pray it 5 times in the morning, 5 times at lunch, and five times at night. Don't forget to offer it for a special intention! You can find the full prayer on my blog at the link below!

The Life of a Homeschooler: St. Andrew's Christmas Novena Begins TODAY!: Hello friends, Today is the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle.  On his feast day we begin this very special and powerful novena.  A nove...

God bless!

Friday, November 24, 2017

So Thankful...

Let us never stop being thankful, every day for the blessings and gifts God has given to us.

My family, forgiveness, my Catholic faith, freedom to practice my faith, my wonderful friends,

my friends who are like family to me, yummy food, pumpkin pie, cool weather, flannel shirts, boots, and tights,

the gift of imagination, the sunshine, friendly conversation around the big dinner table,

friends far away, loved ones who are no longer on this earth, Broadway musicals, being able to sing,

my nice house that provides a roof over my head, running water, warm winter pajamas,

the new book I'm reading, Pinterest, this colorful world we live in,

the ability to travel with friends this last month,

all of the religious sisters who serve God with their lives,

the priests I know who have given me such amazing spiritual direction,

for our military, active and retired, God's divine providence in my life, wonderful music and movies,

tea and good books, fall, swings (even though I get motion sick on them), Ferris Wheels,

the opportunity to blog and share with you, my dear friends,

my life.

For these and so many other countless things, I'm so grateful.

How was your Thanksgiving?  Did you see the beautiful performance by the cast of Anastasia in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade yesterday?!  😍  What are some of your favorite foods to eat on Thanksgiving?  And most importantly, what are you thankful for?

God's blessings to you dear friends!

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Falling Slowly...

(Photo credit: Pinterest)

Hello dear friends!  It seems like such a long time since I've posted or read many other blogs.  I've been away with friends for 2 ½ weeks traveling in MO, AK, LA, and the great state of TX.  I had an absolutely amazing time and I hope to be able to do a recap post for you soon.

But recently, I've been falling in love with November all over again!  

I got to see so many beautiful fall colors as we drove through the Ozarks in AK.

Crunchy leaves were all around me at the park in MO.

After a brisk and very cold walk around the Benedictine convent grounds in MO, a hot cup of peppermint tea was definitely in order.

I loved swinging on a swing much like the one pictured above on my friends' 4-acre property.  Once again, leaves were falling.  I loved how the crisp air brushed my face and chilled my cheeks as I swung.

A beautiful autumn Texas fog bid me farewell on the last morning of my stay.

And now that I'm home, I'm enjoying nice walks with the cool breeze and sunshine.  I'm also very much looking forward to THANKSGIVING!  What's your favorite thing about November?
(Photo credit: Pinterest)

Friday, October 13, 2017

His Voice is Sweet: Hard Spiritual Truths That Will Set Us Free

Hello friends!

As I may have mentioned to you before, I was thinking about creating a new blog that I can use to share the next chapter of my life, discernment.  I wanted to let you know that it is officially up and running and I posted my first post!  This post, though, may be beneficial to any Christian at any place in their spiritual journey.  I shared an article from Msgr. Pope about some very hard yet freeing truths about our lives.

His Voice is Sweet: Hard Spiritual Truths That Will Set Us Free by Msg...: It seems rather odd that one of my first posts on this blog should be of hard truths.  The post I'm sharing with you is certainly s...

I would love if you would join me on this journey of spiritual growth over at His Voice Is Sweet!  I will still be posting here all about my life as I am still a proud homeschooler at heart.  Have a blessed day!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

It's clean and green and pretty...there's space and fresh air...

... Life has slowed down more than I ever thought it would.  This last week has been worrisome with decisions for the dentist, thinking about what I'm to do next, what God is calling me to in life, and other things, but now I've seemed to have calmed down.  I'm just enjoying today with it's cheery warm sunshine, blue blue sky, and gentle breeze.  Many blogs I read are now happily announcing the arrival of fall in their corner of the world, but here in the desert, fall takes it's time and likes to tease me as I anticipate it's arrival.  In fact, just in the matter of a month, it was blistering hot out at the beginning of September when we arrived home from MI, but then, the 4th weekend in September surprised us with highs in the mid 70's!  I can tell you, I was certainly ready to pull out my jean jacket , sweaters, and long brown skirts, but alas temperatures began to rise back up to 90 by the end of September.  Now, it's 78 degrees and absolutely lovely outside.  It's not fall yet, but these kind of days are the ones I remember most fondly and they remind me of beautiful days at the old house.  This kind of a day hasn't visited me in a long time.  That isn't to say we haven't had weather like this, but this kind of a day is characterized by more than just the temperature.  These days don't really have a name or belong to really any season in particular, but I remember them well.

 This is the kind of day when the sunshine is soft and bright streaming through the blinds in the family room and the curtains in your bedroom.  You have almost nothing to do, but you're not completely unproductive.  The day beckons for you to do some small task or enjoyment and it's not hard to do.  The weather outside on a rare day like this is absolutely gorgeous and I could live in this sort of climate forever.  On this sort of day, you don't even mind cleaning the house.  At the old house, this was quite a pleasant cleaning day when you were excited to dust or vacuum with a soft breeze blowing in the open window as you listened to the Christian radio play.  This day is  a dear friend who you don't see           often, but when you do, it certainly is a delightful day.

And do you know how a day like this comes to be?  All of this beauty could only come from one who is all beautiful, all knowing, and all loving.  God, who is all perfect, is the one who can create such things that speak to and please our hearts.  He loves us very much and wants us to take delight in Him and His creation.
     "Every best gift, and every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no change, nor shadow of alteration. For of his own will hath he begotten us by the word of truth, that we might be some beginning of his creatures." ~James 1:17-18 
     "If you then being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children: how much more will your Father who is in heaven, give good things to them that ask him?"        ~Matthew 7:11
Each day in our lives is a gift from God.  Each day has blessings from God in it.  We may not always see them right away like this glorious day today, but we must look for the good in each day God gives us.  Even when we can't make anything good out, in the depths of our souls, God works all things for good.
"And we know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints." ~ Romans 8:28
Remember dear friends, even when we can't see what God is doing in our lives or the blessings He is giving us, we must trust Him because even though we can't see, know, or understand all, He can see, know, understand, and work all things for good.  Trust Him, one day at a time and He will take care of you today, tomorrow, and your future.  If He can provide such lovely days as these beautiful fall days, we can trust Him with every day, so He can make it lovely for us for eternity.

I want to leave you on this feast of my dearest friend in Heaven, St. Therese, with her words on trust in God.  I need to contemplate on these more...

I hope you are having a beautiful day!  Trust God, my friend!