Monday, April 20, 2009

Frugality, and the importance of being a good steward

I was rather dismayed to find that I could not locate the teething biscuits during a recent grocery shopping expedition. I looked in the baby section. I looked in the snack cracker section. I looked in the organic section. And nothing! My Darling aided me in my quest, expanding the search zone to three--yes, THREE--different locations, and still no biscuits came home with us.

So, I did what any twenty-first century Mama would do. I googled "Zwieback recipes" and came up with some lovely things to bake for my little Bug, who popped her first razor blade tooth a week ago. She is, after all, FIVE ENTIRE MONTHS old, so it's no small wonder that all the drool and fussiness and swollen little gums have finally produced something, for Pete's sake.

I supposed this is all good though. Too often, I find myself perusing the packages of various mixes, thinking, This will surely save me time, but rarely would it do much for our budget. My Darling is the one who keeps track of the budget and knows our limits financially, but that's no reason for me to expand our grocery bill to the maximum allowable amount! Of late I'm more inclined to bring home whole wheat flour from the bulk section, or various ingredients I'm sure I can put to use if I employ my creativity--and my cookbooks. The family dinner table is no place to leave hungry, but it doesn't need to be prohibitively expensive to satisfy my children's appetites.

Therapeutically speaking, this is going to be a good week. Why? Because I said so. Don't ask the weather, and please don't speak of the terrific headache it's left me with. It's rainy and grey today, with promises of more of the same tomorrow. But Wednesday is supposed to be lovely, and Thursday and Friday are looking positively summeresque. Today I napped, laundered, and bathed babies. So tomorrow, I shall bake. Tomorrow, all manner of teething biscuits and my own zwieback toast will come from my oven, thankyouverymuch, while chicken soup simmers atop. If time permits, I may even knock out a loaf of bread for those who already have a full set of teeth. Knowing how wonderful my time in the kitchen is for my heart and soul, I look forward to it greatly.

And Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? I've a garden or two or three to consider. I have a dozen bags of mulch waiting to be torn into, and lovely little seeds to start in trays. Considering I had no vegetable garden last year, this year is sure to be cathartic for me. The promise of seeds is inspirational, and the feel of my hands in the cool dirt is something I've always enjoyed. I don't plan on a large veggie garden this year, as my plot isn't too greatly proportioned, and I'd rather have a finished house than a bigger garden. Next year, though, I intend to implore My Darling to better than double the size. Canning hasn't been a real endeavor around here, because I've nowhere to store the proceeds. Next year, though, I'll have a nice, big pantry........God willing!

This year, though, it's corn, beans, peas, lettuce, sunflowers, sweet peppers, and lots and lots of herbs (because I've lots and lots of containers to put them into!). Next year, I'll do cucumbers again, and tomatoes and carrots and turnips and onions. And at some point we'd like to put in two or three each apple and pear trees, and raspberries and strawberries. And in the end, I'd love to have a grape arbor, but that's so far-fetched at this point, I don't dare dwell on the thought. But there it is.

Thanks for checking in. The Lord has continued to show His Hand here and there, quite often unexpectedly, but always plainly. God is good.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring cometh

Birds chirp. The distant shouts and laughter of children playing in the mild sunshine (four of them my own) come floating gently through the screen as if carried on threads of silk.

My Bug blows quiet raspberries on her milkies...

Spring has come, at last, and I am thankful.

Easter was wonderful, but Holy Week was profoundly meaningful for me this year. I must say, we are deeply blessed--and we know it--to be members of a parish in which liturgy is superbly done. The Mass is reverent every week, the faithful come in droves to hear the Truth, and the desire to grow in holiness dwells within the hearts of young and old alike.

Beginning with Palm Sunday, we were either at church for Mass or for services every day save Monday last week--and when Monday rolled around this week, it was odd to just kick around home and not head into town. This whole week feels a bit bereft of all things liturgical...though we have extended our evening prayer time to nearly an hour, with the addition of the Divine Mercy Novena.

My medication is doing wonders. Perhaps I should revise that to say that God is using it to work something in me that I have needed for a long time. I have always had the gift of strong emotions (and I use the word "gift" here deliberately...). With that, though, has also come a frequent feeling of being overwhelmed by them. I've not ever really understood how this could be a gift until very recently. The thing is, along with my own emotions, I feel very strongly for others--sort of a hyper-empathy or something.

Our Lord has lately shown me how powerful this can be when paired with intercessory prayer. With the medication to help things balance out, and this amazing understanding of how to truly offer my suffering for others, a peace such as I have never known has flooded my soul like balm. There is a balm in Gilead!

It is often said that we do not grow on the mountain tops; rather our strengthening comes in the valley and on the climb back up the slopes. This, too, God has shown me in very meaningful ways. This desert, this parched, arid time which He has allowed me has in turn drenched my heart and soul in His Grace. Amazing Grace! But do we rush to the empty tomb too quickly? The book I am currently reading, Death on a Friday Afternoon by Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, admonishes the hasty Christian: stay at the foot of the Cross for a while. Remain with Him here and contemplate His suffering. Do not rush to Easter. Come to better understand His suffering so that you may better understand your own, and thereby share in His. So I am learning what it is to suffer well, as Fr. E. has encouraged me to do.

I know that there is still a long way to go. There is much work to be done. I know that He has more in store for me, the likes of which I can't even begin to imagine. But I am so thankful for this time of growth and renewal for His purposes, for His glory, and for His kingdom.

Please keep in prayer all who suffer from depression, especially those who lack the courage to seek help or ask for prayer. There are many. Our dear Monsignor's Good Friday homily spoke eloquently of the unseen bleeding hearts among us--those who suffer greatly, yet quietly, whose sufferings we may never know. Pray for them.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

And yet--how much more patient is He?


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

If you want me to.

It's not that I have nothing to say. I just don't know how to say it....just yet. I'll get there. In the mean time, this does the job beautifully. (Thanks, Ginny Owens.)

Lord, thank you for this time. Use my suffering to bring me closer to your Cross, and keep me humbly there at Your feet.