It’s Time For Cake!

It’s funny how you miss certain things, and just figure that life is different now, so you’ll probably never have them again.  And then you get a text from your sweet husband, and do a little happy dance.

Let me back up a bit and set the stage for this story.  I’ve been blessed with a bit of a green thumb.  I’ve always liked plants, and remember having houseplants since we were first married and living in a little apartment with only two windows.  When we bought our first real house, I spent the next twenty years gradually building up gardens.  The house got surrounded with perennial flower gardens.  Pots of annuals lined the back patio, and were filled with color from spring to autumn.

echinacea annuals

There was always a pot or two of herbs growing on the back deck.  We built a vegetable garden in the back yard and grew lots of tomatoes, peppers, onions, cucumbers, squash, sugar snap peas, green beans, and whatever other plants inspired me when I visited the local garden centers.  One corner of the garden contained a nice patch of rhubarb.  I carefully harvested the rhubarb, never taking more than a third of the stalks from each clump.  The rhubarb grew happily away and provided a harvest starting in spring, and lasting all summer long.

You might be thinking, “Rhubarb?  What in the world do you use that for?”  Or you may have been lucky enough to have been served strawberry rhubarb pie (which is delicious!)  Or perhaps you’ve encountered strawberry rhubarb jam at a farmers market.  If you have the opportunity to try either of those things, I highly recommend them.  But that’s not what I made with my carefully harvested rhubarb.  (Although if you have a good recipe for either of them, I would love it!)  Nope, every bit of rhubarb (that wasn’t shared with family) was made into rhubarb cake.

This is no ordinary “bake it, top it with frosting, and serve it at a birthday party” kind of cake.  This is a super moist, tartness in every bite, slightly sweet, “Please, can I have another piece?” kind of cake.  It is not frosted or crumble topped, because there is no need.  The cake itself is pure deliciousness.  And when we lived in Michigan, I baked it all summer long.

And then we moved to Florida.  I love living here, but have to admit that this Midwest gardener has no clue what to do in this subtropical USDA zone 10a.  We bought a house that has a xeriscaped yard, no grass, no real planting beds, and honestly, not much of a landscape plan.  I love the palm trees, especially the pretty date palm.  And the little orange tree out back is absolutely loaded with fruit this year.  But I haven’t found a good garden center like the nearby ones I had in Michigan.  So we haven’t really done much with the landscape other than pull weeds and trim back the hibiscus.

This year I put forth a little bit of effort, filled some giant pots with soil and planted tomatoes, a pepper plant, two kinds of basil, and cilantro.  Besides the veggie and herb plants, The Home Depot and Lowes garden centers had citrus trees.  So tiny lemon and lime trees joined the orange tree in the back yard.  With temperatures at ninety plus degrees F this time of year, the tomatoes and trees require daily watering, and hopefully they’ll stay alive!  Sadly, it is far too hot for rhubarb to grow here.  So, I had resigned myself to never having rhubarb cake again.

Well, a new produce market opened in the town just south of here.  So Dan went to check it out before heading to the grocery store.  And that’s when my sweet husband texted me this photo:

rhubarb

❤ Cue my happy dance and response to “Buy it all!” 🙂  Ok, I didn’t really want him to buy quite all of it, just a generous handful of stalks.  It was a little late in the day to bake, so the next day I washed the rhubarb, trimmed off the ends and peeled it.  Although rhubarb leaves are huge and interesting looking, they are not edible as they contain oxalic acid.  So you definitely want to cut off and discard all of the leaf.  Then I chopped the stalks into chunks and prepared to make the cake.

As a wedding shower gift (37 years ago!), my Aunt gathered recipes she had gotten from my Grandma and copied them onto index cards.  The recipes are a connection to a wonderful woman that I miss dearly, and I’m so grateful to have them!  You can tell when a recipe is well-loved by how worn, stained, and tattered the recipe card is.  It’s pretty obvious that this is a well loved recipe! 🙂

cake recipe

As I’ve grown older and wiser, I’ve learned to use the highest quality ingredients I can find when cooking and baking.  So I’ve updated the recipe a bit to make it slightly healthier, and certainly even better tasting.  I use up to 4 cups of rhubarb, because I love the extra tartness.  The first time you try it though, you might want to start with just the 2 cups.  I use pure cane sugar, and King Arthur whole grain white flour.  I’ve never used real buttermilk, and have always used the lemon juice “cheat”.  And lastly, don’t use shortening, yuck!  Butter is the way to go, and I am a big fan of Kerrygold Irish Butter.

The recipe calls for baking 45 minutes, but just like baking anything else, you can tell by the delicious smell when it’s done.

cake plate

That first bite of cake was so good!  A flavor that seemed far away and perhaps lost forever brought back happy memories of summers past in our old home.  It was a reminder that connections can be reforged, that the people, places. and things that we love and care about can sometimes back into our lives in surprising little ways.

So, the next time a new produce market opens, or you stumble across an old family recipe, take the time to wander, discover, bake, make, and enjoy!  I am so grateful for this happy “find”, and for all that I am blessed with. ❤

Going Forth

I have felt my eyes tear up at Mass on more than one occasion, and generally it is due to the moving words and music of a beloved hymn.  Sometimes it is a remark or observation during a homily that hits particularly close to home.  Obviously I have cried at funeral Masses, but I don’t recall tears dripping down my face and quickly ripping off my mask while hurrying to the car so that I can cry in private.  Until today.

Today was Fr. Jonathan’s last Sunday Mass at our parish.  I love Fr. Jonathan, and will really miss having him here.  The end of June is when Bishops transfer priests within their diocese to fill the needs in other parishes.  Perhaps a priest is retiring, or the needs of a parish are greater than one priest can handle.  Perhaps the gifts a priest possesses are greatly needed at another parish.  This is the time of year that the transfers happen.

When we first moved to Florida, and temporarily lived in the middle of the state, we attended the local Catholic church that my parents had attended when they lived there.  There wasn’t a big sense of belonging, because we knew that we were only living in that city for a short time.  When we bought our home, but hadn’t closed on it yet, we began our search for a Catholic church in the area.

It may seem funny that we didn’t bother looking for a new doctor or dentist, hairstylist or barber, restaurants or stores, but rather began researching our new town by looking for a church.  I guess it kind of shows how important a church family is to a Catholic.  We looked up the Catholic churches in the area, and I chose our church as the first to visit because it also had a school.  To me, this was a sign that the church was invested in nurturing families.  So we got up early on Sunday and made the long drive over to our soon-to-be new county, and went to Mass.

Fr. Jonathan presided over that Mass, and that was it.  There was no need to visit the other Catholic churches in the area, this was the one, this was home.  His passion and sincerity, his homilies that make you think, that speak to your heart, that inflame you with the Holy Spirit.  His reverence for the Body of Christ, all of it, and in a young man not much older than our children.  His preaching is truly inspired, and even guests who have gone to Mass with us have commented on the power in his words.

This, this is why I cried after saying a quick goodbye after Mass.  Because of CoVid 19 social distancing, we couldn’t hug Father, or even shake his hand.

After a particularly inspiring homily last year, I recall asking him after Mass if he had ever considered videotaping Mass, or at least his homilies.  He quizzically asked me, “Why?”  When I perhaps awkwardly explained that I would like to be able to share it with people on social media, he commented that there are others so much more qualified than he, who already had such things available.  And that the church didn’t really have the equipment to do such a thing.  Little did anyone know that just a year later everyone would have to adapt to livestreaming Mass!

Fortunately, we’ve been able to attend Mass in person this past month.  It seemed so disorienting at first.  As per the CDC guidelines, every other pew is blocked off.  We have to wear masks, and aren’t allowed to sing, so there’s no music.  We can wave or bow to others, but not shake hands for the sign of peace.  There are tape marks and arrows on the floor to follow when going to Communion, and sections are color coded to guide people to separate exit doors after Mass.

It’s quite different than normal, but it is SO GOOD to be able to receive the Body of Christ again!  It’s funny how something that we probably took for granted for years became so missed during the months we had to stay at home.  You certainly realize how going to Mass on Sunday really sets you up for the week.

During his homily, Fr. Jonathan reflected on the apostles being sent forth on their mission.  Bishops send their priests forth on new missions when they relocate them to a new parish.  We have to have faith and follow God’s will to go where we are needed.  Even when it feels challenging to leave self behind, we have to trust and look forward to what God has planned for us.  Easier said than done, huh?

So it’s sad to have said goodbye, but I am excited for the people who will now benefit from Father Jonathan’s encouraging words.  And I know that God will certainly bless him for sharing his faith.  Life can feel scary with all the changes and disruptions in our lives lately.  But God loves us, He has a plan, and no matter how crazy the outside world may seem, we need to focus on the big picture, share our faith, and stay on the path that leads us to our final goal- eternal life in Heaven with Jesus.

 

Note: this photo was taken on Easter a couple years ago, before the church was repainted, and before social distancing was a thing.  Sadly, I don’t have any recent photos of our church to share.

How Are You Starting This Lenten Season?

During Bible study this week, we got off on a bit of a tangent.  This is not an unusual thing, 😉 as we almost always run a bit long due to one discussion or another!  When our  study first started, I used to feel a little impatient when we would get off subject, because I wanted to focus on what we were studying that week, what we were “supposed to” learn.  As the weeks went by, I realized that these off topic conversations were also helping us grow.  Sometimes it was a question about our faith, sometimes it was a personal story, sometimes it was noting how God touched our lives, or the lives of someone we know.  The discussions gave everyone the opportunity to learn more about  others in our group, have questions answered, and the impact that we, as Catholics, can have upon our world.

This week, our study started off with a conversation about Lent.  Which is quite fitting, since today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.  We all know that Lent is a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  A penitential season to prepare for the joyful Easter season.  Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are ways to help us grow in self-control.

When you think about it, a lack of self-control is what can lead us into sin and unhappiness.  Sometimes we let anger dictate our actions, then end up saying or doing things that we regret.  Learning to bite your tongue, and not lash out in anger is a valuable skill set!  Taking a moment to collect your thoughts so that you can have a conversation and calmly discuss what is on your mind generally leads to a much better outcome.  Whether we struggle with food, alcohol or drugs, casual sex and the “hook up” culture, gossiping or lying, or any of the other vices, we can work to increase our self-control, and overcome the addictive behavior.

We may enjoy snacks or sweets, or just plain struggle with the desire to eat more than what our body needs.  I tried a toffee recipe a couple of weeks ago, and it turned out so perfectly delicious!  Dan is not really a fan of toffee, so of course that left me to eat all of it.  As I finished up the little container last night, I knew that I had consumed far too much sugar.  My body didn’t feel great, and it was a great reminder that I need to have more self-control.  Despite how great it tasted, I definitely shouldn’t have eaten all that sugary, buttery, chocolate deliciousness.

It’s a wonderful example of the struggles we all face with over-consumption.  Whether we love shopping for shoes, or playing violent video games, or listening to music with demeaning lyrics, or watching movies that are truly a waste of our time and brainpower.  Whenever we use “any means necessary” to win a game or a promotion, no matter who gets hurt in the process, we are really hurting ourselves, and our relationship with God the most.

That is why we have a conscience, to remind us when we’re straying down a path we shouldn’t be on.  We don’t have to be like everybody else, to not speak up about something we know is wrong, out of fear of “offending” someone.  That is not to say to be mean or judgemental.  But we can be a reminder of goodness.  We can let Christ’s light shine through us.  We can pray for, and exhibit, and encourage others to use self-control.

Lent is a wonderful opportunity to pray, reflect on our faith life, to really focus on self-control and grow in prayer, and in our relationship with God.  How are you starting this Lenten season?  Would you like to join me in working on self-control?  I encourage you to go to Mass, to seek out the sacraments, to fast and abstain, to read The Bible and join a Bible study, to take advantage of this opportunity to increase your faith.

 

Merry Beachy Christmas!

One of my friends in Michigan commented on Facebook yesterday that it didn’t “feel like Christmas” because it was 50*F, rather than snowy and cold.  Others quickly chimed in, and were either happy that it was (comparatively speaking) so warm, or disappointed that it wasn’t expected to be a snowy white Christmas.

For those of us who live where the weather is warm this time of year, we are enjoying the beautiful sunshine and appreciating the unique ways people decorate for the season.  I am frequently astounded at the fun, beautiful, and creative sand sculptures I see when walking the beach.

The nativity scene above not only includes Mary, Joseph, and the infant Jesus, but animals, shepherds, an angel, and the neighboring inn.  I love the way that the sculptor made use of debris on the beach to create the beautiful Christmas scene.  They took what was around them, what some might have ignored, or considered trash, and turned it into something beautiful, sharing their faith with others.

Holidays in general, and Christmas in particular, can sometimes feel challenging.  It is a time when families and loved ones gather together to celebrate Christ’s birth.  But if you’re mourning a loved one, or separated from family, or struggling financially, dealing with health issues, or feeling a little lost or overwhelmed, it might not feel like a happy time of celebration.  We might think that we’re the only ones that feel this way.  But I think we all have at least a few of these concerns on our minds.

I certainly miss my Dad, and his funny, sort of Bah Humbug! sense of humor (and matching Christmas hat). 🙂 I miss my grandparents, and their sweetness, and sense of fun and excitement to see and spend time with everyone.

I wish my daughter, son-in-law, and granddaughter didn’t live so far away.  And I wish that they could be here for Christmas.  Who wouldn’t want to see the excitement on their grandchild’s face at Christmas?  But we’ll have to make do with Facetime and photos.  (Including slightly fuzzy Facetime photos!)

Lila 12-9-19

I think most of us have a financial or health concern of some kind.  Whether it is our own finances or health, or concern for the struggles, and mental or physical health of people we care about.

I encourage you to look beyond, and let go of your struggles and concerns.  Spend some quiet time in prayer.  Remember why we celebrate Christmas.  Because Jesus was born into this world to save us from our sins.  We do not have to struggle through life alone.  In fact, life is so much easier and better when we don’t!

When we reach out in love, with kindness for others, when we look for things to be grateful for, when we open our hearts and turn to God, relying on Him for hope and help, peace and joy start trickling into our life and heart.  I encourage you to go to Mass, to let the beautiful Christmas hymns wash over you, and open your heart and ears to listening for God.  He is always there, waiting to welcome you into His love.  Give yourself the Christmas gift of the time and opportunity to feel that love.

shell Christ tree

Whether you are knee deep in snow, or strolling the sandy shores, I wish you a Merry Christmas wherever you are!

sand snow flatsand snowman

 

 

Ice And Sunlight

When you live in the midwestern United States, you get used to snow.  Generally speaking, it snows all winter long.  It starts with an occasional flurry in October.  A Midwesterner knows that in all probability, your children are quite likely to need to wear a coat to go trick-or-treating on Halloween.  This year there was a snowstorm across much of Michigan, so family and friends there stuck to indoor Trunk-or-Treating parties and events.  The snow keeps coming all through the winter, well into April.  And there’s no guarantee that there won’t be a freak snowstorm in May.

Ice storms are less frequent, but often produce spectacular results.  When temperatures are on the edge of freezing and a storm blows through, it’s somewhere between rain and snow, and the ice coats everything.  It makes for super dangerous driving, since the roads are literally covered with a sheet of ice.  If you’re trapped at home and can’t drive anywhere until road crews can salt, and the sun warms everything enough to start melting, you might as well take a walk.

My daughter Jennifer, (who happened to be up visiting us in Michigan during an ice storm) and I went for a walk in the neighborhood.  It was strangely quiet, since there were very few cars on the roads, and few people out in general.  But every once in a while, we would hear a strange creaking noise, followed by a loud crack, and then a loud boom as a branch, heavily laden with ice broke off a tree and crashed to the ground.

oak crossed

As we walked along, we admired the strange, stark beauty of the thick coating of ice on the trees, shrubs, and plants in the neighborhood.

red berries

It was interesting to see how the thick layer of ice weighed the branches, leaves and berries down.  Even thick branches arced down toward the ground.  Once tall bushes looked much shorter, and any dead brown leaves still clinging, became frozen in place.

crusted leaves

Do we become like that in our lives?  Especially in our faith life?  Somewhat frozen in place, sort of isolated?

berry clumps

Near others, but kind of stuck in our own little cluster?

If we look around, we can see the sun at work.  Glistening and shining, melting the layers of ice, with light shining through the layer of ice that may be upon us.  Maybe the path we’ve taken seems to be the end of a forking branch.

close drip

But you’re always connected to God’s family, and there is always another direction to go.  God’s love is never-ending.  The sun comes to melt away the ice, and His Son, Jesus, came to take away the sins of the world.  No sin is too great, no sorrow too heavy if we hand it over to Jesus.

drip down

Even when we’re bent low with the weight of our troubles upon us, we can ask God for forgiveness, and look for a new path in life.  We can pray and be strengthened.  We can pray for others, whose burdens look heavy.  We can lighten their load with every act of kindness we share.  We can let God’s light shine through us, as we share the love of the Lord.

tiny crust

May you open your heart this advent season, and look with joy to the coming of the Lord, and sharing that joy with others.

Capture The Moment

Have you ever witnessed a moment that seems so sweet that you feel like it should be captured in a photograph?  Watching children play, and seeing their pure joy is a frequent occurrence that leads to the thought that you wish you had a camera to catch the expression on their face.  Especially if it has been a hard or challenging day or season in life.  Seeing happiness makes us want to smile and join in on the fun.

Dan and I were walking the beach last night, and moving at a rather quick pace, since sunset was less than a half hour away when we started our walk.  We passed other walkers, joggers, and people sitting or lounging on the sand, waiting to watch the sun set.  We were strolling past a couple that looked to be in their late 20’s to early 30’s sitting on the beach.  The wife leaned in to say something, the husband smiled, and they leaned together touching cheeks, smiling towards the sun.

It was such a sweet moment that I stopped walking, turned to them and said, “Where’s your camera?  You two just look so sweet!”  The wife reached into her pocket, set her phone to camera mode and handed it to me.  I took a couple of quick photos of their faces shining in the sun, glowing with happiness, and handed back the phone.

I am not normally the type of person who randomly starts a conversation with strangers.  Dan, yes.  Me?  Not so much.  But I just couldn’t help thinking that this young couple would want that moment of sweetness and sunshine captured.  Before you think that I am too much of a weirdo asking someone for their phone, keep in mind that tourist season has started in Florida.  On sunny days, the beaches are full of visitors, enjoying the warmth, wonder, and beauty along the coast.  It is not uncommon to have a couple or group ask a walker passing by to take their photo.  And when I’ve seen a Mom or Grandma taking photos of their group, I’ve encouraged them to get in the photo and taken a few quick shots for them.

I recall my daughter telling me about when their little family was playing at a splash pad, and someone commented that they and Lila were having so much fun that their family needed to be captured in a photo.  The stranger caught the huge smiles on their faces as they played together.  It is a great photograph.

I love being able to capture a moment of happiness for someone, just like I’ve captured it in my mind.  Hopefully, every time they look at the photos, they’ll remember the fun, the happiness, the joy, they were feeling at that moment.

Dan recently sent me a photo he took when we were visiting for Lila’s 2nd birthday.  We had taken Lila to the park, and she is flying high on the swing, her hair flying up in the air as she achieves weightlessness.

swing

I love seeing her enjoy a happy, carefree childhood, filled with love and laughter.  It makes me smile every time I look at it, because it reminds me of how fun she is to play and interact with.  And it reminds me of all the times I’ve been on a swing and enjoyed that same feeling of floating while up in the air.

I’m certainly not advocating for life to be lived with a phone or camera in front of your face all the time.  There’s definitely something to be said about just savoring life, and capturing the beautiful moments in your minds’ eye.  Life is rarely Instagram perfect, and involves a lot of “cropping out” the not so pretty stuff.  But when we take the time to look around, look for the beautiful, joyous, happy, peaceful, spontaneously wonderful moments around us, we can capture memories to help sustain us during the not so perfect moments in life.  And if we can capture those moments for others, why not risk being thought of as a weirdo when you ask someone for their phone? 🙂

By all means just enjoy the power-walk, breathing in the fresh air, listening to the sounds around you.  But every once in a while you might want to stop and take a photo of the beautiful spaces, and faces, and wonders in life.

sunset 11-1-19

All The Walls

We started stripping the wallpaper in our master bedroom yesterday.  We’ve never cared for the grass-cloth wallpaper, it was on the walls when we moved in.  Like most people, every house we’ve ever lived in has been a “fixer upper”.  As time and budget allowed, we gradually improved each place, turning them into nicer homes.

Our old home of 20 years had wallpaper in nearly every room when we bought it.  From a foil print velvet floral flocked wallpaper in the bathroom, to a brown vinyl textured in the living room and kitchen (which coordinated so nicely 😉 with the brown tile countertop with an impressed grassy plant design) to the burgundy vinyl “accent wall” and plush gray, carpet-like wallpaper in the master bedroom.  It took me months to strip all the old wallpaper off, scrub down the walls to remove the glue residue, and prime and paint all the walls.  But gradually, working on it on nights and weekends, I got it done, and really improved the look of our home.

When we first moved to Florida and stayed at my Mom’s old house for three months while we house-hunted, we started fixing it up for her.  We replaced hardware and faucets, and installed a storm door on the back door.  The rotten, shredding curtains were replaced with mini-blinds.  And I stripped wallpaper.  The ditsy patterned wallpaper in the kitchen was the first to go.

ditsy kitchen

Then I moved on to the dining room and family room.  The textured wallpaper was very thoroughly stuck, and bits of drywall came off when I peeled it off bit by bit.  Which meant I had to do a lot of patching after spending days scrubbing all of the glue residue off.

scraping diningpatch dining

Eventually I was able to prime and paint, and ended up with a cute dining area in which to eat and sew.  Don’t judge- I’m sure I’m not the only one who works at their dining table!  Speaking of sewing, my Grandmother made the seaside picture on the right of the photo using trapunto, a form of quilting popular back in the ’90s.  It’s currently hung in our guestroom, and reminds me of the long line of sewists in our family.

dining

When we moved to our new home, as soon as I finished cleaning, I started painting.  I covered up the school bus yellow kitchen walls, and painted the sunroom, living room and office poo brown ceilings white.  I scraped and scrubbed the elephant wallpaper border off the walls of Dan’s office, and painted over the deep red walls.  Eventually I moved on to the main bathroom.  The metallic copper colored walls and gold ceiling had to go.  Along with the horrible wallpaper, which, one of my friends commented, looked like mold. 🙂

bath wallpaperwall mold

They must have used super strength glue, and obviously did not properly prep the walls before installing the wallpaper, because it came off in tiny little bits.  Hundreds if not thousands, of tiny little bits.

wall bits

Needless to say, after that time-consuming process, I didn’t even feel like tackling the grass-cloth in the master bedroom.  So here we are, a year and a half later, finally ready to face the task of removing wallpaper once again.  But this time I had help!  Dan helped me peel and scrape off the grass-cloth.  I started scrubbing off the residue, but it was getting late and I was tired.  So I’m maybe a quarter of the way through scrubbing, and then I can move on to priming and painting.  Yay!  And phew!

All of this talk about working on the walls got me thinking about the walls in our lives.  What kind of walls do we put up to hide, to avoid, to protect?  Protective walls can be good.  We all need shelter from the storms.  But are we putting up walls to avoid people because we’re scared?  Scared to talk to them?  Scared to reach out in friendship, or deal with a relationship?  Do we put up a wall to “block out” God?  Are we scared to have faith?  To consider depending upon someone other than ourselves?  Are we afraid of what that faith, and relationship with God, with Jesus, might require of us?

Are you thinking of knocking down some of those walls?  Of opening your heart and your mind to new relationships and possibilities?  It’s easier than you think.  Take one small step forward, crack open the door, throw open the window, and invite life in.  Pray.  It can be nothing more than a simple conversation, talking to God.  But it can mean so much more.  It can be the start, or the continuation, of an everlasting relationship.  Are you ready to knock down some walls?

 

Offer It Up

Do you ever feel like you’re walking along, flowing through life, then someone says something rather profound, and you really feel it hit you?  I don’t think that this is uncommon.  For instance, as we are working through grief after the death of a loved one, a song, a smell, or a comment can easily transport us back to thoughts of that person.  We think that we’ve bundled up that grief, packaged it tightly, and stuffed it into the back of our mind.  Then that comment or thought floats across the surface, and it’s all brought back full force.  Maybe slightly dulled, but definitely still there.

A few weeks ago I heard some very disturbing news from a family member.  They were physically hurt, their immediate family is really struggling, and they do not see a clear path out of their problems.  First of all, this breaks my heart because I love them.  Secondly, I live 1,300 miles away, and can’t be there to give them a hug or try to help in some way.  Other family lives nearby, so they aren’t alone or uncared for.  But all I could do was call, listen, and pray for them.  And of course, worry.

That worry must have been weighing on me more heavily than I realized.  Sitting in Mass two weeks ago, Fr. Charles did something unusual.  He paused before the consecration and asked everyone to “Place all your worries and troubles on the altar, and offer them as a sacrifice to the Lord.”  Whoa!  That hit me like a ton of bricks!  And it was obviously the reminder I needed to quit my needless worrying.  The tension in my shoulders eased and my heart felt instantly lighter.  Tears sprang to my eyes and I tried desperately to blink them away.

How often does God put someone in your path to help you see things in a different way?  How many reminders does it take for you to remember to pray and put your troubles in God’s hands?  I can’t magically make everything better for everyone I love, no matter what I do.  I can certainly do whatever I can to help, and I can definitely pray.  But I need to remember that what I really need to do is to put it in God’s hands.  To offer it up as a sacrifice to Him.

birds 10-5-19

Yoga Class Fun

If you follow my blog for sewing, you’ve likely seen that I sew a lot of workout wear.  It isn’t that I run, or spend hours at the gym because obviously, I don’t!  But I do love going to yoga class.  I’ve been practicing yoga for 16 years and besides walking the beach, it’s my favorite form of exercise.  Like anything else that you practice regularly, the more  you do it, the better you get.  I’m certainly not perfect, but it’s fun when I feel like I’m able to get deeper into a pose than I used to.  I’ve had some excellent yoga instructors over the years, and am happy that I’ve found a yoga studio with classes I enjoy, along with instructors and regular attendees who make me feel like I am part of a happy little tribe.

I’ve never been able to get photos while practicing, but all of the other “regulars” at Friday morning Ashtanga were on vacation, traveling, had work commitments, etc., so I was the only student.  Ashley, my favorite Ashtanga instructor 🙂 asked if she could take some photos as we did class.  I had to laugh when she said after class that she “felt like the paparazzi, trying to get all up in there, taking photos.”  Hahahahaha!  Since I am not some Hollywood movie star or otherwise famous, the paparazzi will never be taking photos of me, so I found this hilarious!

Ashley was discreet while photographing, so you’re not subjected to photos of my sweaty face, just my sweaty back!  Just for fun, here are my yoga photos:

fold side

It was super exciting to me when I was first able to get my head down on the floor during wide legged forward folds.

twisted side angle

My elbows feel like they’re pretty centered and vertical when I’m in twisted side angle, I’m almost to the center of my chest.

forward fold

There are so many variations of forward folds.

prayer hands

I really like this photo, the lighting was pretty.  Can you see the sweat dripping up my spine?  And can you tell that I never take off my cross necklace? 🙂  I need to work on getting my palms together though.

headstand

My Grandpa taught me to stand on my head when I was a little girl, so this isn’t a big deal, since I’ve always been able to do it.

headstand pike

It’s fun to be able to pike out of a headstand too.

If you’ve thought about trying a yoga class, I hope you’ll give it a try.  It isn’t all about being able to stand on your head.  It’s more about breathing, and learning to control your breath and your responses to the stressors in life.  It helps you build focus, along with strengthening and stretching your muscles.  As I’ve heard more than once, it’s a yoga “practice”, not a yoga “perfect”.  It is also a perfect time to pray.  I manage a couple of Hail Mary’s during the opening mantra, and an Our Father during the closing mantra.  Faith is an important part of life, and there’s never a bad time to pray.  I enjoy adding prayer to my yoga practice as much as I enjoy a quiet prayer while walking the beach.

Exercise, eat healthy foods, and take care of your body and soul.

If you’re curious about my workout outfit, the tights are the GreenStyle Super G’s, although I did hack the side pocket panels in this pair a little bit.  My workout top is the hack I did on the Stitch Upon A Time Titania Top, blogged here.  The Supplex, Powernet, and plush bra strap elastic were all purchased from Phee Fabrics.

 

This post may contain affiliate links.  This means that at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission/credit if you purchase through my links.  As always, I only give my honest opinion, because after all, it is my blog, which represents me! 🙂

 

Look Up And Appreciate The Splendor

 

We’ve all experienced times in life when it seems like everything is good, maybe not perfect, but still pretty darn good.  You may not be rich, but you’re rich enough, especially in the things that matter.  You know that you’re loved, you’ve got a roof over your head,  food in your belly, and you’re doing ok.  Honestly, most of our life is probably lived like this.

Yet somehow, we become complacent, get used to the relatively smooth sailing as we go about our daily lives.  We get caught up in the little problems and daily distractions of life.  We forget to look up, and say thank you for this beautiful life.  When is the last time you took the time to watch a beautiful sunrise?

sunrise 9-5-19

Literally watched the sky start to light up from the horizon, with a little glow of orange and coral, until the color spreads, turning apricot into pink and purple streaks across the sky in front of you?  Wow!  What a beautiful way to start the day.  Thank you Jesus!

sunrise1 9-5-19

No matter what stresses the day may bring, no matter what good news or bad gets brought to you today, life is good.  God made it good.  Appreciate the splendor, and beauty, and wonder of life.  Look with the eyes of a child at every little thing, and appreciate the beautiful life you are living.

Is life completely perfect?  Of course not, we won’t experience complete perfection until we’re in heaven.  But we are certainly blessed, and receive gifts from God every day, in the people and world around us.  Let the love into your heart, and let it shine out through the life you’re living.