Thursday, March 3, 2016

Pretty, Happy, Funny, Real: Camping Themed Baby Shower

We recently showered my youngest sister, Emily, at my parent's home in Alexendria. She and my brother-in-law, Kyle, are having a baby boy very very soon, their first. They wanted a shower that both girl AND guy friends could come to. Lucky for us, Kyle is an avid fly fisherman and they both love the outdoors (they visited us the most of all our family in Alaska!).

We went for a camp theme! Enjoy these pictures!



This is one of my sister's friends who had not seen her for so long and then saw her is so happy...and me.


I insisted on making veggie/olive trees for next to the Lincoln log cabin. I saw the idea at a Christmas party, but wow....they make me laugh. 


The move from Alaska was huge for our family, but new baby cousins are worth it.

Thank you for stopping by! More PHFR here.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Beans for Our Lord

Hello dear friends! Do you have a bean jar?

I have, for many seasons of LENT, always intended to place a bean jar out. I have seen it on several Catholic mommy blogs and always thought, "That is so clever!". Yes, but finding a mason jar and remembering to buy a bag of beans seemed monumental at times. And then Lent would be over.

Well, it has happened this year! Eh, maybe three weeks into LENT but who is to say we have to be liturgically perfect when we are simply trying! I always leave it to Mother Church to be liturgically perfect, she does it best (wink!).

So really my littles have been so eager to do good deeds, or pray, or help out more. These black beans will become colorful sugary jelly beans come Easter Sunday morning (as long mommy executes said miracle)!

Oh my, I love the sounds of this bean jar. I love the sifting of fingers as my son's chunky four year old hand plunges into the beans. I love the clink of a bean or the tinkling of several beans as they hit the jar.

My littles get beans for EVERYTHING. There is the bean for letting the dog out, a bean for picking up colored pencils the baby has scattered, and a bean for sharing something when we really don't want to. I let my son have a handful of beans when he got his finger pinched in the huge storm door that swings violently in this March wind (oh I have had many Anne Shirley moments in my head this morning narrating about this blustery month...I AM SUCH A DORK!).

My littles really do love this new little Lenten work of ours, and I have really internalized it as I go about my day.

See, I laugh  at how some of these beans get earned. Between you and me, I really DON'T need the steps swept by our little broom and dust bin three times a day...but I can tell sometimes my kids just NEED to earn a bean. My littlest ones will proclaim triumphantly "Mama, I did the stairs! Can I have a bean?!?!"



I have done the bean jar for my littles as a small work that helps them have something tangible when they feel THEY have earned it. I try really hard not to vocalize my thoughts on what I feel is the true value of each chore or good deed.  That might lead to nagging and too much judgement on HOW they are earning beans, especially with my youngest ones. Beans are given with joy!

I celebrate the bean jar! Tink!

And all the way I am finding great peace in that....I can celebrate my own beans!

I also have a wonderful peace and confidence that God celebrates my beans too!

I do! I think God really loves my effort and trying and my beans.

All this virtue training and forming going on inside me with each child in this home, oh, how I feel like I earn my beans. Lots of celebrating me going on! Tink! Tink!


Look Lord! I made dinner...AGAIN! Tink!

Look Lord! I cleaned a toilet! Tink tink tink tink!

I smiled instead of opening my mouth about such and such. Tink!

And I thought of this...

I see little Stephanie with piggy tails and a twirly dress and beans bulging out of my pockets. I shove my hands down deep and grab fist fulls and I approach my Lord Jesus and He is kneeling eye level with me and He cups His hands in anticipation and He says to me, "Stephanie, what have you brought me today?!?"

And His eyes are shining in delight that I am spilling beans and that I am so focused on getting as many as I can in my fists and I shove my fists into His open cupped hands, and His thumbs kind of curl and He tries so hard to hold down his laugh. He collects Himself and furls His eyebrows and looks seriously at the pile of black beans in His hands. He leans in, closer to His daughter, and His forehead touches my forehead and He says in a whisper,"Are these for me?"

I love Him so close! I love feeling so special and important and loved.
"Yes! I worked hard for them Lord Jesus! I thought of you! Honest!"

And He kind of seams His lips together like He is thinking so hard about my gift, and He looks at my gift again and He looks at me and with the most sincere and tender voice He says, "Thank you Stephanie. These are special to me. You are special to me. I love you."

I get a little shy, oh goodness, I have done something big for Him! See how He knows my name and He said I am special to Him! He loves me and He loves my BEANS! And I can't control it and I quick tackle hug Him and dive deep so I can be close to His chest and hold tight and I practically knock Him down. He accepts my hug and He lets me rest there while He is still holding my beans.

I could stay there forever.

But OH!  I know what to do!

"Ok! I am gonna go get more beans k!"

He laughs a laugh that sounds like light, "Wow! More beans really!?! For Me??" His grin is all big and wide.

I get so tickled by this. HE REALLY DOES LOVE MY BLACK BEANS!

"Yes! Yes!"

I turn and start to walk and then I kind of want to skip a little,

 but I hear Him say...

"Stephanie, wait I have something for you!"

He carefully puts my beans in His pockets, and with great reverence as if they were the best black beans and that He would hate to spill even one. He then cups His hands and there is suddenly light and its as if He is holding something so so precious and a pearl...or a treasure.

Ahhhh! What is it??!

I'm bouncing! He has Something for me!!

He says, with his eyebrows raised and that infinite smile, "While you were thinking of Me, I was thinking of You."

I have my hands cupped and ready for my gift, and He places a small round white flat thin piece of Bread in my hands.

"Oh Jesus! Oh Jesus!"

He stands now looking down on me as I wonder at this Gift. I have so many thoughts in my mind! I gave Him beans and He gives me This?!?!

What did This take?

What did He have to do?

I don't deserve this.

This is too much.

This is too great. But I can tell, that Jesus is waiting, and deep down I know how to respond to make the gift not about Me receiving but about Him.

I know what to say to make His heart glad, I say... "Thank you Jesus. This is special to me. You are special to me. I love you."

The greatest grace I have received in the sacred spaces of Alaska and in the fellowship of friends on earth and in heaven is a sweet sweet start of a childlike love for God. It comes and goes and I can be so so hard on myself. Yet, in this year of Mercy, I find my journey is to understand deeply Jesus' love for me.  I am blessed to be a mother surrounded by her littles because they are teaching me how to approach the Kingdom of God like a child.

I hope so much that each of you can see how much He loves you. How much He delights in your beans not because of the deed itself but because of your love for Him.