Monday, February 27, 2017

Dear Catholic Moms... Let Love Be Your Guide This Lent...



Hi Ladies,

Whether you have one child or many... you are a hard-working servant of God all year long... Every day, all day! Whether you work outside the house and come home to your babies/husband or you are a work inside the house mama.... you are everything God wants you to be - right now, in this season.

I have been thinking about all the posts of late with ALL the wonderful things we are all doing for Lent, and I thought - there is a mom out there struggling with trying to brush her teeth, because she has babies and is constantly interrupted.... the last thing she wants to do is feel bad about herself for not meeting a pretend standard. That's what it is, you know?  I love reading all the posts, but I would not even try to do everything I like. There has to be a balance, or nothing will get done.

And I want to say to those mamas especially - always do what you can. God knows! We love to blog about our traditions but none of us expects you to do them all. And it's ok!  It just needed to be said.

I hope you know we mamas have all been there and recognize there are different seasons. So please make sure you are taking care of you while you take care of your littles.  I have so many moms who's current season is raising 4 or more littles ... and I'm speaking especially to those moms who just need to know how valuable they are. You know?

I wanted to share with you something I wrote two years ago... just to remind you that Lent doesn't have to be complicated.

"I have been struggling with all the Lent Posts... Do this activity. Give this up. This one and that one till my head spins. And all along, I'm thinking - Dear God, I just need rest. I need to be WITH YOU! Then I read this post from Father Aidan Keiran ~ The Little Way of Fasting. God bless him. It's just what I needed. To be clear, whatever your heart tells you to do, whatever YOU want to do with your children to help them understand the message and season of Lent, please do it. But in our house, we just need simplicity and the peace it brings. Here is a quote from his post:
St Therese of Lisieux teaches us that the “Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ… On the contrary, the most brilliant deeds, when done without love, are but nothingness.” These words made me realise that the way I had been approaching the Lenten fast in the past was wrong. Lent is not a test of endurance. It is not even a test of discipline (even though we gain discipline as a by-product). Lent is a little test of LOVE. It is quality the Lord is interested in – not quantity.
I don't have to do bazillions of things. I just have to do whatever I do - with Love. If that is one thing daily - then so be it. For the Love of God and all He has given up for me."

I hope you find a devotion to read that validates you and brings you closer to God. I hope you find some fun activities about the Lenten season for your children.  Whatever you do, do it in love, and that will be more than enough for Our Lord.

Blessed Lent to all you Mamas out there!

Hugs & Love,
Em

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

CWBN Blog Hop -- How We Pray, Fast and Give During Lent

Happy Tuesday!


Here's a little PSA - LENT BEGINS IN 8 Days! Yes, Lent Begins on Ash Wednesday, which is March 1st this year. In fact a week from today is Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday), better known as Pancakes for Dinner in our home! You're welcome for that...

Happy Feast day of Saint Peter Damian. This man was mistreated by his brother and orphaned, and he had an affinity for helping the poor. You should click his name and read about him!  Here is the first line about him in that post from Franciscan Media:
"Maybe because he was orphaned and had been treated shabbily by one of his brothers, Peter Damian was very good to the poor. It was the ordinary thing for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked to minister personally to their needs."
I love this. To me, it embodies the "giving" part of Lent. But I'll get back to that later.


I am joining up with Allison Gingras and crew for the CWBN Blog Hop. It's a monthly, blog post geared toward a pointed topic. And it's awesome. This month's topic... How We Pray, Fast & Give During Lent Please go to Allison's blog and check out all of the other bloggers. There is so much talent! And if you like a post, leave a comment. Bloggers LOVE that!

Before I start my post, I urge you to read the Pope's Lenten Address for 2017 called, "The Word is a gift, Other Persons are a gift"  It's a powerful message. Beautiful. Humbling.

How We Pray During Lent.

My family usually adds the Divine Mercy Chaplet during Lent - we purpose to do this daily.  This year, I am joining two different Book/Scripture studies to enhance my prayers life. 
  1. One is called Walk In Her Sandals - Experiencing Christ's Passion Through the Eyes of Women,  By WINE: Women in the Evangelization. I actually had a chance to review the book and never got there review done. I can tell you that it is spectacular. And I can't wait to do it as a group with Allison Gingras and a few others at the St. Teresa's Online Book Club (FaceBook group).
  2. The second one is called The Bible and The Sacraments. A local friend is hosting this, in person, during Lent and I am so excited. This is an in-depth study of the Sacraments. And what a great time to study it - during Lent.
In some ways, Lent was easy when my son was younger, because there are so many children's books out there. We are looking for a book for teens. If you know of one - please leave me a comment. We are really blessed to be Catholic, the daily readings during Lent are awesome and we always have much to talk about and study. There are Friday Fish dinners and the Stations of The Cross. It's really a beautiful and humbling time of year.

How We Fast and Abstain During Lent.

Let's talk about what Fasting Means. Fasting means LESS of something -- most people associate it with food. Abstaining is giving something up (like Meat on Fridays). But to me, fasting during Lent is deeper than just Food. Ask yourself, what am I willing to give up and what am I willing to GIVE of myself, as I work to cleanse my heart and mind from sin? Some people give up their time volunteering or praying. Some give up things. I'm not 100% sure of everything we are doing here in our home, because I am limited by surgical recovery this year. I intend to ask Father some advice on what I can do this year. Perhaps I can pray for more people? I already volunteer at Church. And there is much to be done.

Throughout the year, whenever possible we adhere to meatless Fridays. Many Catholics don't know that if they don't give up meat on Fridays, they have to do another form of Penance. So since we do (though I confess, we don't always get it all right) mostly not eat meat on Fridays, we add a couple meatless nights/week during Lent. So we give up Meat in a bigger way than we need to.

We are blessed to live in Texas where the veggies are good and fresh all year round. Plenty of farms around to get Fresh Produce from. So it's really easy, if we wanted to, do do a Meatless Lent (except I think there would seriously be a revolt in my home). 

Here is the list I posted last year of some of our basic meatless meals. We are not a fancy home, so it's pretty basic:

MEATLESS MEALS

I think I say the same thing every year. But truly - meatless meals are not hard (to me). Let's not make them hard.

Italian Food -  Lasagna: Substitute the meat for squash or eggplant. In fact, you can also substitute the pasta using squash or eggplant (just don't boil beforehand).  Spaghetti sauce can easily be meatless, so can baked ziti. Again - add squash and other veggies to give it substance if you want.
Alfredo sauce is fantastic over veggies and pasta. Pizza: Veggie Pizza, Cheese Pizza... there are endless combos that don't include meat.

Mexican Food - Cheese, bean or veggies are all you really need in burritos, enchiladas, quesadillas, etc.

Seafood - Shrimp Tacos. YUM! Fish - baked, broiled or fried. Lobster, crab legs, clam chowder,  scallops, smoked salmon - honestly the possibilities here are endless.

Classic American - 

  • Grilled cheese & tomato soup. EASY! 
  • Breakfast for dinner 
  • Baked fish (or fried if you like or fish sticks) and fries or salad.
  • Loaded baked potatoes. 
  • Chili with squash & beans instead of meat 
  • Tuna Sandwich
  • Egg Salad Sandwich
  • Salad
  • Tuna Pasta Salad is a great Saturday Lunch (make your tuna for sandwiches a little crunchier, and add your favorite pasta (maybe a little more mayo) and serve with fruit.
Beans -  Beans get their own category and are your new best friend during Lent. Beans & rice and salad are an easy thing to make. PLUS - there are so many different kinds. Great bean and veggie soup recipes all over the Internet. You can buy veggie stock. LOVE

Portabello Mushrooms are a great substitute for meat on a burger. Plenty of recipes on the Internet.

How We Give(up) During Lent.

The question we must as ourselves here is What Can I do to Better the world? There is no way that we can hope to sacrifice as much as our Lord. But Lent is not supposed to feel good. We are supposed to go WAAAY out of our comfort zone and do things for others.

As Saint Teresa of Calcutta said, Be The One! Be the one that serves the Lord like no other. Be the one that gives and loves and purposes to do for the least of His! This is what we must give during Lent.

I have a call into Catholic Charities to see what their needs are. We have packed bags for homeless, spent time at the Food bank, and many other things. They do so much for our Community, I want to see what they need this year.

I have a few suggestions of things I'd like to do. I may not get to them all, but I hope to:
  • Visit a Nursing Home. Maybe bring children and have them interact.
  • Invite our Priest to dinner or bring them dinner.
  • By a random stranger a cup of coffee.
  • Spend more time in the Word.
  • Give $$ to a Catholic Charity.
  • Serve a meal to homeless or people in need.
  • Donate to the local food bank.
  • Give gently used clothing to charity.
  • Have a baby shower for a local Pregnancy Crisis Center.
  • I have overdue thank you notes and I will be getting them out before the end of Lent.
  • Forgive someone you haven't.
  • Don't gossip or even listen to it.
  • *this year, because of surgery I am very limited on what I can eat. I plan to offer up any anxiety and emotional distress this causes to the Lord to help the souls in Purgatory and the Suffering of this world. I can not have bread, pasta or rice for six months, no sugar either. My diet for the past month has been liquids.  And I also plan on NOT COMPLAINING! Sigh. A friend gave me this idea because it really coincides with Lent. #thestruggleisreal
You get the point. The list is endless.

When it comes my time to get into Heaven, I can not hope to have done enough. But I do hope that God sees how hard I tried.  I leave you with this quote by Mother Saint Teresa of Calcutta:


I hope you will leave me comments on how you do things during Lent! I love to hear what others are doing.

Love, Hugs & Blessings,
Emily

Friday, February 17, 2017

RepurposedEm - Oh the Fun I'm Having...

RepurposedEm #6

Happy Friday! It's the end of another week post-op!

I don't know if I told you last week, but I am having a lot of pain on my right side. The moment I went to the doctor's office, they handed me a piece of paper, and the first line says, "your right side will be tender and painful, this is normal for sleeve patients". Thanks - I thought I was dying! lol

I went to see the Nutritionist on Monday and I can eat soft foods. Let's give it up for eggs, cottage cheese, refried beans, ricotta bake, pureed soups, etc. I mean - It's a whole new world *insert eye roll* LOL! I seriously am enjoying actually eating some calories. <3  At this point, I am eating 1 egg at a time, almost half a cup of refried beans - you can put a little shredded cheese on them; greek yogurt, and I made a Ricotta Bake from The Happy Sleeve. I can almost eat half a cup of it too. LOL

The big news is that I am down 40 lbs. I can fit back into some of my clothes - YAY! That feels good.


And I have a jawline... Wooo to the hooo...


Another thing that happened is my blood pressure meds were cut in half. But I can tell you that I have been on the same one and was thinner, so I am a skeptic on this one. But my BP was 90/64 and I wasn't feeling great. I think the cool thing is for people who are on Cholesterol, Blood Pressure or even Type 2 Diabetes Meds, being able to lose weight and eating healthy REALLY helps you reduce or even come all the way off meds. And who doesn't love that?

Did I tell you about the Parachute Panties? You see... a suggestion as made to get a waste sincher or a girdle. And so I thought - I'd get some panties with lots of control, the tummy panel thing...  Well - we get them in the mail - Thank you Amazon Prime - and they are huge. My husband says to use them while I need them and then immediately toss them. The whole time we are cracking up! I say, "we can use them as a parachute!" laugher erupts. We're silly like that. Anyway - I think they would work if they were higher on my body, but they land right in the suture area.  And that does not feel great. But they do hold you in. Hmmmm. I may wear them here and there.

Let me share a funny story with you. In our house, we love snacks. This is why we don't buy them. But on Super Bowl Sunday, I made sure my guys had wings and snacks. You know? It's the Super Bowl. My son gave me a few Doritos and let me lick the cheese off. How sweet is that? HAHA And you know what - I did it. Sat there just barely a week out of surgery, licking the cheese off Doritos. Sigh. It makes me laugh.

What has been hard?  

  1. Not drinking for 30 minutes before and after meals. WOW - that is way harder than you think. I mean, at a restaurant you drink to help your food go down. Bariatric patients can't do that or the food will go right through ya.
  2. Conflicting information on my Nutritionists paper. For instance, in the OK to Eat Column is mashed veggies. But in the avoid Column is Veggies.  - I had another Nutritionist look at it. CONFUSING! 
  3. Not being able to do everything I want. If I do too much during the day, I get the right-side pain. So I try not to.
  4. Constipation. It's hard to drink all the water you need to drink. Plus, your body is in shock after surgery. I did not have a bowel movement for two weeks. No bueno. And now, I might have a tear... I'll spare you further details. But my advice is to make sure you speak up for yourself. I asked at my doc at 1-Week and the PA said it was normal. I should have taken something like Mirulax or Milk of Magnesia long before I did. 
  5. Being tired. 
Other than that I am having a pretty easy time of it.

What has been good? 
  1. Weight Loss.
  2. Learning to listen to my body more.
  3. Realizing I really do have a great support system.
  4. So far, I am tolerating all the foods well that I am introducing. AND I have been able to cook for my family without having a huge problem.  
  5. Learning so much with Patricia Hill's Nutrition Class. Ya'll really need to look her up (even if you never have the surgery).
  6. Realizing how much more my husband and son love me than I thought possible. They have taken such good care of me.
I would be remiss if I didn't tell you how much God is blessing me these days. Yes, I know He always has. But I can feel His will being done. <3 Amen!

I hope you have a fantastic week. And if you have any questions, feel free to ask.

Love, Hugs & blessings,



Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Book Review Wednesday -- Two Book Reviews About Legendary Irish-Catholic Saints!

Happy Book Review Wednesday!
Happy Feast Day of Saint Claude de la Colombiere. He was devoted to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, friends with Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque and a great confessor. Go read about him by clicking on his name. 

Today I am reviewing two Catholic Children's books sent to me by Pauline Books & Media. I love reviewing their books because I know they are wholesome, well written and amazingly illustrated. Seriously - the illustrations!


You have plenty of time to go out and add these to your Catholic Bookshelves. And honestly for my non-Catholic friends, these are stories about people of virtue who served the Lord. So if you want a good children's book, I'd encourage you to read them. These are real people, after all.

The first book I am reviewing is called, A Legend about Saint Brigid of Ireland, Brigid and the Butter.  It's a sweet story about a slave girl who lives in Ireland with her mother and they have hardly anything to eat. She works hard cooking, cleaning and tending to her master's cows. She even makes butter (which is hard, in a hand churn, I am sure). One day she heard Saint Patrick tell the story about the little boy giving his five loaves and two fish to the disciples and they fed the whole crowd, with Jesus' blessing. It left a huge impression on her. 

I can't tell you too much of the story, but I can say that one day when she gladly gave all she had (butter) to a lady who had nothing, God blessed her with twice the amount she'd given. 

As the back of the book says, "taking Bishop Patrick's words to heart, she learned that you don't need to have much in order to give." Isn't that the truth?!

There is a small bit of history of St. Brigid after the story. She was such a giving Saint. People received many miracles from her. This is such a great book. I promise you won't be disappointed.



The second book I'm reviewing today is Patrick and the Fire, A Legend about Saint Patrick. When you think about Saint Patrick, because we celebrate him on March 17th, we assume he is Irish.  The Irish do claim him because he lived most of his life there, but he is, in fact, British. He was captured as a slave when he was a young boy, and worked in Ireland as a shepherd.

This lovely story is about how Saint Patrick came to know God while he was a shepherd and how God helped him escape... and how came back to Ireland and convinced the King to allow him to teach the Irish about the one true God. Back then, they worshipped MANY gods, none of which were true, but Said Patrick was so brave and honorable, the King allowed it.

Yes, there is more to it than that, but how could I give it all away? It's a great story for girls and boys. It's a story of perseverance and strength through faith in God.

Again, there is also history of Saint Patrick and some of the things he did.

These two books are for younger children, say K-5th Grades, but my 13 year old and I love them too. There is a simplicity in children's books we just enjoy!

Thank you again, Pauline Books & Media for sending me these two great books to review.

May God give us the gifts of helping those in need and having the fire in our hearts for Christ. Together we can feed and light the world.

Hugs & Blessings,

Emily

Friday, February 10, 2017

Repurposed Em - The First Two Weeks Post-Op

RepurposedEm #5

Happy Friday!
Happy Saint Day - Saint Scholastica, Patroness of Nuns.
I truly hope your day was blessed.

Friday is almost over, I've just been slow to write. It's been a tough, and yet blessed two weeks since surgery (it will be two weeks Monday the 13th).

These are pictures of me before surgery...


And after surgery....

In my mind, I was going to have surgery and be out running around the next day. I can tell you that I was wrong. It did not go that way.  I'm not good with hospitals, medicines (narcotics/anesthesia) and apparently I'm not good at being realistic about what I can do. HA

The good news is, my friend Domenica flew out from Washington State and cared for me.  I got up and walked that evening. I remember that. And I have vague memories of my son being there for a little while with my husband.  The day nurse said I could go home if I wanted, but my insurance insisted on my staying and it's a good thing.

A few months ago, I had a sleep study done. It said that during the night my oxygen stats were in the 70's. This is not good. I have been an asthmatic all my life and used to get pneumonia yearly and bronchitis a lot. So it doesn't shock me that my lungs don't hold enough oxygen. But had I not stayed, I would not have met the respiratory therapist who insisted I called to make an appt. with a pulmonologist immediately. He said that I don't need a CPAP, I need Oxygen. He set my levels at a five (whatever that means) and I stayed saturated all night.

I came home on Tuesday afternoon and I got such great care. I had fever for a day or two, but it went down pretty good. Domenica and the hospital concurred it was stress and being run down from surgery. Sigh. It was so great to have Domenica there, helping me, Christopher and Marque. I just can't tell you. <3  And my husband and son - they really stepped up to all the chores, helping me with everything... amazing.

Funny story. So one evening, my bra had rubbed the scab off my highest suture area and my shirt/bra were soaked with blood. The entire time, I had no idea because I had a blanket on and could not feel it. When I was changing I said, "oh my gosh, I'm bleeding". Christopher got there first and started to help and I said to get his dad... I mean - I was all exposed. No time for embarrassment. Anyway - nothing was wrong or open - thank God. But it was scary. And really - other than normal gas pains and being tired, etc... that was the worst thing that happened this past week or so of recovery! I'd say it went well.

You would not believe the cards, and flowers and food people sent. It was amazing. Our family is so blessed. Seriously!  I am a "do for you" person, and it was a huge lesson in humility and love. Amazing!

The first week Post-Op, it's all about clear liquids and trying to get in 40g of Protein, and walking - lots of walking -- AND resting.  I have five suture areas on my abdomen. And my right side hurt pretty badly all week. When I went to the doc on Monday, they said to take the muscle relaxer because they went through muscle - EWWW! So that helped.

This week, I got to add Protein shakes and unsweetened apple sauce, and PUDDING! WOOHOO! I go back on Monday to get additional add-ons starting next week.  Today, I went on an outing to my son's Karate Class and to the grocery store. THEN - I napped.

What did I learn?

  • You have to take it easy after surgery.
  • You have to take the meds because they help you heal.
  • You have to learn to rely on others, and it's OK!
  • You have to walk.
  • You can't take your crankiness due to not being able to do things out on your family (who me?)!
  • You have to stay hydrated.
  • You need a good support group.

It's really been a great couple weeks, when all is said and done. I've lost 12 lbs since surgery. My total loss is 38 lbs. And I'm very happy with it.

I pray you are learning from my experiences.
If you have any questions, ask and I will try to answer.

Love, Hugs & Blessings,


Friday, February 3, 2017

Daily Gospel Reflection for February 3, 2017 - Catholicmom.com

Dear Readers,

I am so excited to share that one of my Gospel Reflections is live today on the Catholicmom.com Blog.  Every day, all year long, a Catholic Blogger gives their personal reflection on the Gospels. It was intimidating at first, and many of the ladies are published authors.... but I really enjoy writing these, and I hope you will enjoy it.



Here is the link to the post: http://catholicmom.com/2017/02/03/daily-gospel-reflection-february-3-2017/

I hope you will stop by daily and read all the posts and would love to hear what you think of mine.

Love, Hugs & Blessings,

Emily