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"I can't do it, anymore, Mom. I just can't!!"
"Yes, you can! I know you can!"
My mother's heart broke at the sight of my pre-teen daughter who stood dejectedly, unicycle in hand, fighting off tears.
Weeks before, she had fallen from her 5-ft. unicycle. Although a bit dazed and slightly sore, she had survived unscathed - physically, that is. Mentally, a challenge like she had never faced was brewing. Within minutes, a mental block had formed that would prove to become an obstacle to her young life like she had never before experienced.
Suddenly unable to ride even her normal 3 - footer (something she could have probably done in her sleep until her fall), she recognized the mental block for what it was and began taking the normal actions one would take to overcome it. She took great efforts to practice riding - and falling - again and again. Over and over she tried.
At times, she would pedal twice and we would cheer with joy. Then, the very next day, she couldn't stay on. As the weeks turned into months, her embarrassment and frustration grew as she continued to attend practice with her drill team, forced to join the "newbies" (those just learning). She would stop and watch her friends and the other "seasoned" riders preparing for the parades and performances, trying not to break into tears.
She wasn't the only one frustrated and semi-horrified at this turn of events. I shared her feelings. I, too, had had my share of mental blocks when I was in sports as a preteen. However, I had never seen one so solid, so unable to be overcome. Objectively, nothing made sense. Her body knew what to do, but acted as if it had never even seen a unicycle.
We all wanted to give up, but my husband and I could only see the bigger picture. This block had such control of our daughter. Convictions of failure and negativity now coursed through her veins and had begun to affect other parts of her life. We knew that giving up could not be an option in this case. Her brain could not be allowed to think that mental blocks of this magnitude could not be overcome.
Along with her coaches, my husband, other daughters and I spent hours and hours standing patiently holding her up while she tried to move forward. In all honesty, by the 4th month, it began to seem pointless. I couldn't imagine how she could keep trying. With every hopeful improvement came an immediate setback. And yet, although she understandably struggled with giving up, her continued perseverance in this daunting process was astounding.
It wasn't until around this time that I began really praying for healing of this mental block, one that seemed to be forged in steel and covered in concrete. It had become painfully clear that only God could have the power to break it, if He saw fit to do so.
One night after a specifically grueling time of practice outside, my daughter cried, "I am done. I just can't do it anymore!!!" After she had gone to bed and fallen asleep, I went into her room and began to pray over her.
Not the most charismatic person in the world, I am not used to praying over people, but my comfortability had recently increased slightly due to connections with some amazing people in our parish's healing ministry and some incredible books. Plus, I had become desperate. I needed God to help her conquer what I now considered a type of demon in her life.
I laid hands on her and prayed words from the heart, begging Him to heal her and help her conquer this life-limiting obstacle.
The next day, she refused to try again. Something inside me felt that I should let it go. I advised her to take a break with the reminder that she would still have to go to practice. Days later, after watching her siblings ride, she decided to try again. Her sister came over to help. Linking arms and using lined-up chairs to lean on, they pushed forward. Suddenly, things began to click! Holding onto her sister, she was able to pedal partly across the yard! Although overjoyed, our happiness was tentative. Any improvement had always been followed by regression up to this point.
Still, we had regained hope!
Over the next month, she began to slowly improve, until one day she let go....and rode....by herself!!!
"MOM!! I'M DOING IT!! I'M REALLY DOING IT!" she yelled.
I was filled with incredulous joy and gratitude. From that day on, she continued to improve. Any setbacks were minor and conquered quickly.
A couple of days ago, I found myself shaking my head in complete disbelief, a huge lump in my throat. As I stood near our trampoline, I watched this same daughter, who had just a month ago given up on unicycling, push a 5-footer over to the trampoline's side and climb up. Taking a breath and trying to calm her visibly shaking legs, she pulled the uni up and positioned herself on its seat. She sat, a look of unmistakable triumph on her face. By the end of the day, her smile had grown even bigger as she road around the yard holding her sister's hand.
As I write this post, the lump in my throat returns with the image of her on that 5-footer. Although probably minor to so many, this little miracle is not so little to us. God has taught our daughter (and us!) that NOTHING is impossible with Him.
How I pray that we never forget this beautiful and merciful lesson!!!
Do you love candy like we do?
Photo attribution: a submission from one our kid contributors: Trenton Luke!
Well, back to school we go! What does this mean? It is time to bring back our Catholic Lego and Craft Challenges!
We had petered off during the summer due to lack of interest and craziness on this end, but I have to give huge kudos to those amazing families who continued to contribute as long as there was a challenge put out there! You are all inspirations to us and we can't tell you how much it meant to see each of your creations!
So, to get back to it, here is our first Lego and Craft Challenge for the school year, prepared by Lisa, our amazing mom contributor and Lego extraordinaire!
August 28th - Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego and the Fiery Furnace
Talk about courage! These three heroes from the Old Testament defied the command of the King to bow down before his 90 foot tall golden statue. This meant that they would have to be thrown into the fiery furnace! Read the story through the link below to find out what happened to these brave men and recreate a scene from the story!
Go to our Catholic Challenge Zone in the above tabs to choose your challenge and submit your creation!
Photo Attribution: Mother Theresa by Tim 12/07, www.flickr.com
Have you ever met anyone in your life that "walked the walk and talked the talk" so well that you felt you could virtually guarantee that he or she would become a saint? Of course, we are all called to be saints, but this particular individual stood out in such a way that a part of you wonders if he or she would practically skip purgatory?
A well-known person that fills these shoes, of course, is Mother Teresa. Seriously, I think everyone should read her story. Talk about hope for the rest of us!! If her life doesn't make a person rethink his or hers and give hope and motivation to make a difference, I just don't know whose will.
Actually, some of her quotes have made a huge impression on my life. And, to be honest, the quotes that have made the most difference are not your run-of-the-mill, give-to-the-poor ones. Here's one that hit me hard when I heard it for the first time: "Live simply so others may simply live."
This minuscule sentence spoke volumes to my heart in about 30 seconds and stopped me in my tracks.
In those 30 seconds I thought of the excess in my home - the completely unnecessary excess. I thought of the food in the fridge that had gone to waste because I hadn't made it a priority to eat it or save it. I thought of my recent trip for fast-food; in that particular situation waiting until I got home and using the money I had saved for a local charity would have done far more for my soul and helped another's in the process than giving in to my unwillingness to take the time to make dinner.
In old movies, you often hear the phrase, "What a girl!" Well, I would apply this to Mother Teresa. But, I would enhance it a bit: "What a woman! What a servant of God! What an amazing saint!!"
I think most in the world would agree. After winning the Nobel Peace Prize, Nehru Prize, The Balzan Prize, and so many others, it's clear that her simple life attracted the most opposing of souls, opening hearts to her heralds of love and generosity in a way that has rarely been seen in our modern times.
You may have heard that Mother Teresa of Calcutta will be canonized on Sept. 4th of this year. I am super excited about this!!! Given her outstanding life, St. John Paul waived the 5 year waiting period and allowed the process of Sainthood to begin in 1997. In 2003 she was beatified, and now we stand at the precipice of her canonization.
Where will you be on Sept. 4th? I hope you have a chance to spend a moment in prayer on that momentous day and catch a glimpse of the ceremony.
It's history in the making...and as long as I'm on my knees, I'm sure to get a first-class seat! :)
New Clay Series by Justina! We are so excited by this one!
Every other week, Justina will be uploading an instructional video on how to make a new Chibi-Inspired Saint Charm like the ones that she will soon be selling locally. By Christmas, there will be enough charms to create a beautiful charm bracelet, earrings, or necklace to give as a perfect gift to someone special!
To celebrate Mary, Queen of Heaven today, she created this video so that others could experience the joy of making this charm in honor of Our Queen. We hope you have fun making these adorable figures of our saints!
(Please excuse the video quality which is a little less than normal. There were issues with uploading to YouTube today, so we lowered the quality of the video temporarily to make sure it could be up for today's feast. We'll be updating it to its proper quality as soon as possible!)
Today's blog post comes in the form of a review about a wonderful book I have recently had the honor to read before its public debut. The newest release by Lisa Hendey and Sarah A. Reinhard from www.catholicmom.com., "The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion" is truly a gift. More than your average daily devotional, this book not only gives your heart a lift and your intellect a boost, but your time with Christ becomes an encounter with grace as well!
Each one of the 365 entries begins with a great quote followed by an inspired short story from one of the more than 80 contributing authors. The entry ends with a prayer and a thought to ponder.
What really impressed me was the insight that many of the contributors expressed in their entries. Down to earth yet filled with sensitivity, these reflections continued to come back to me throughout the day. (And when I find inspirations returning throughout a crazy day, I KNOW I am reading something good!)
I found myself genuinely uplifted and looking forward the next daily reading.
I HIGHLY recommend this special prayer companion for moms. As you progress through the year, I have no doubt that you will find yourself growing on your path to holiness. (Just beware: you may find yourself flipping ahead to read the next day's entry! It can be hard to wait! :))
"The Catholic Mom's Prayer Companion" is now available for preorder on Amazon.com and where other Catholic books are sold. (If I've wet your whistle, there is a link provided on the image below.)
God bless and happy reading! :)
So this is a bit of an unusual route for a blog, but, given that we have such wise and gifted readers, we thought we would ask for some advice! :)
These past few days we've been wondering how to go about getting more visibility for our videos on YouTube. We've talked about it around the house and with friends and relatives, hoping to gain some insight. Thankfully, we've received some really great advice, but we are looking for more!
We have plans for many videos in the future, and we would REALLY like them to reach more people as we hope to improve on our finished products. It seems that God is inspiring a LOT of great ideas, and some of you have shared ideas with us that we can hardly wait to move on! Our plan is to mix up our upload schedule with less time-consuming ones (like more craft videos) with much bigger projects (like music videos and sketches).
One of our biggest challenges is that due to homeschooling, working, caregiving, and other ministries and extracurriculars, our time to work on videos is limited, especially as school begins. So, it is only feasible for us to upload one video a week (if that!) which really curbs our channel's appeal.
Still, God is in charge, and family comes first. We know that if we work for Him and Him alone, His will shall be done.
However, this doesn't mean that we need to sit back and wait for people to find us. We know that this is not normally how it works with YouTube! :)
So, I thought I would boldly ask if any of you have marketing wisdom to share that might help guide us in the right direction. This includes suggestions of any kind that might improve our blog, too! Someday this blog will become more of a full-time gig, and we would love to hear what readers are looking for.
Thanks in advance for your prayers, thoughts, and suggestions.
Below is an easy way to contact us. We really hope you have a blessed day. Keep the faith!!!!
Here it is: the first music video produced by the Teen Take Team and our biggest project yet!!
Based on the hit song "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey, "The Song of Esther and Mordecai" features new lyrics that tell the tale of the bravery of the young queen and her loyal uncle.
Written, performed, filmed with prepared storyboard, recorded and edited by the Teen Take Team, this video took 3 weeks to create (because life does go on behind the scenes, too!).
We really hope you enjoy it!!
If you are able, please like this video on YouTube and subscribe to our channel! We hope to produce more music videos in the future and would love to get your feedback and ideas.
So may your day be blessed, and "don't stop believing!"
That about sums up our garage sale attempt yesterday. One would venture to say that the effort involved in preparing the sale was not exactly worth it! (Actually, I didn't realize one could have a garage sale with so few customers!)
We were more than disappointed. This was mostly due to the fact that we had decided to carve out time for this sale so that we could declutter as well as contribute to a little end-of-summer trip. $30 would cover our gas expense, but that was about it!
Still, as disappointed as I was, for some reason I really felt called to thank God for the outcome of the sale.
Sure, we are encouraged repeatedly to "Thank God at all times for all things," but I tend to struggle with this one, I'll admit.
I have been trying harder lately to thank Him when I don't feel like I am very grateful, but I have been quickly learning just how incredibly hard that is!
I mean, think about it. God asks us to really, truly be grateful for ALL things. Not just the happy things. Not just the things that bring me joy. ALL things.
One might think that given our fallen nature this might be asking too much, but in all honesty, this concept - although radical - is the necessary ingredient for a life of liberation, freedom and true joy.
And, it is actually possible to live life embracing this concept. Having been blessed to witness this in action by others in my own life, I am inspired and long to live lives like theirs.
The thing is, people like me have to take embracing the "gratitude attitude" in baby steps. For me, this means that each day I need to find at least one thing that bothers me and send a prayer of thanks upward.
I used to take a different approach. My attempts to develop this attitude included thanking God every time I actually felt thankful. I was pretty excited when I found myself doing it without having to make reminders. But just how difficult was this really? Although certainly a step on the path towards holiness, I was basically taking the very easy way. I needed to change my approach and start looking for those rough stones along the way to thank Him for.
And our discouraging garage sale is a perfect example of one of those small rough stones. To my honest surprise, I was amazed at how much better I felt after thanking Him. Today, our family gave the sale another shot, leaving it truly in God's hands this time (although Rod very kindly set up some extra signs in the area!). The outcome was much more in line with original expectations.
Am I grateful? Of course. But I'm even more grateful that I was able to step on and pass that rough stone with a heart closer to His. I just hope I can do it when I come across the really rough ones!
Yikes! In our neck of the woods it is hard to imagine that winter could ever be on its way. The last couple of days have been truly oppressive humidity-wise and I have been praying for our elderly and anyone who needs to be working outside. I have been especially concerned about our Amish neighbors who have been working in the fields in pants and even long-sleeve shirts, in some cases.
Today, an older Amish gentleman appeared downright miserable as he guided his team of horses out onto the road after harvesting one of the fields. I prayed he was heading home for cold water and a break!
The Amish faith has been always been a bit of a mystery to me. We live among these "Plain" people (as they call themselves) every day and have gotten to know them well. We work with them, talk to them daily and our kids play with some of theirs. (Not all are allowed to play with "Yankee" or "English" kids.)
We have begun to get a pretty good idea about how they live, but their faith beliefs still elude me. I think that this is because their beliefs elude most of them as well, at least in our local sect!
About 5 years or so after we moved into Amish country, we befriended one of our neighbors down the road. He and his wife were surprisingly open to talking about their faith, far more than anyone else we had encountered. However, in their openness, we found ourselves genuinely stunned to learn just how little they actually knew about their own beliefs. Giving us full freedom to ask questions, their consistent response was that they didn't know why they did what they did; all they knew was that they were required to do it and that it would be a sin if they did otherwise.
(Interestingly, in our local sect most of these "sins" are allowed to be explored during their period of Rumspringa, which means "running around." During this time adolescents are allowed to gain experience of the outside world so that they can make an informed decision to remain Amish as an adult.)
Our conversations were actually exciting ones as we began to dig deeper into discussing the Christian faith. We did hit a bit of a roadblock when trying to discuss the Eucharist, however. This was quite the foreign concept to them! We wisely retreated to some more tangible topics that allowed the seeds to be continually planted.
A few years later, they moved and we lost touch. Then the difficult news came to us through the grapevine from our other neighbors: our friends had left the Amish and joined a Christian church. What a strange position to be in! I lamented for the great loss felt in our community of Amish, and yet I rejoiced for our friends.
Just recently, we received a surprise: a quick visit from these fallen-away Amish! How great it was to see them! Leaving the Amish had been a HUGE struggle and had produced an incredible learning curve. However, the husband and father of 5 was driving a mini-van (a rental as they are recovering from a couple of fender-benders) and all were wearing "Yankee" clothes. Despite their joy at leaving the Amish, though, they are still deeply saddened by the heartache they have caused their families. Relations are still very strained.
Hearing their struggles prompted me to think of the early Christians and those Christians around the world who have to decide between their families and Christ daily. Obviously, it is not quite the same in this case. The Amish do certainly follow Christ. And, so many of the ways in which they follow Him are good and wise ways. In fact, we would do well to imitate their ability to forgive and make such great effort to love their neighbor. But, many rules are very difficult and come without explanation, squelching the greater joy awaiting them in His grace.
As Catholics today, we are encouraged by the Church to pursue knowledge of our faith. We are asked to question, to not be afraid of the "why's" in regards to learning. In the Church's wisdom, we know now that questioning and being open to the truth as to why we are taught what we believe is the only way that we can deepen our relationship with God and develop that profound passion that creates saints.
I am so happy to live in such a day to have easy access to such incredible, deep, thought provoking answers! I pray so fervently that more and more people will look for the TRUTH about their faith and listen with an honest and open heart and mind to what the Church says.
For now, I will continue to try to discuss Christianity with our Amish brothers and sisters, at least with those open to conversation. Such dialogue is crucial to someday restoring the unity that Our Lord so fervently desires for His people. I look forward to it; I learn more and more about myself through each discussion and come away hoping that with the Holy Spirit's help enlightenment may have come their way as well.
Thank You, Lord, for being with us through Your Church!!
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Let the Fire Fall!
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