“…Accept Children and Bring Them Up According to the Law of Christ…” Part 2

This second part posted at Worthy of Agape last week, but I was out of town and unable to share and link it until today. Enjoy!

 

I last talked about accepting children in marriage in part 1

9658613409_76d52d0d49_b…and now I’m back to keep talking at you about raising those children!

The first few years are easy, right? Get married, have babies, enjoy the bundles of sweetness in the midst of sleepless nights and piles of laundry… And then the sweet little souls God’s blessed your family with are old enough for school and an education.

This education is where “bringing them up according to the law of Christ” enters the equation. It is not enough to send your child to the parish Sunday School program, or even to a Catholic elementary school. Oh no, my friends. There is so much more to raising our children in the faith. Not all parish schools are teaching the truths of the faith as strongly as we’d hope, not all Sunday School programs are going to hook your kids and guide them well. Many do, but it is NOT the job of the schools to be the primary–ie first, most important, best–teachers of your children, especially in the faith. That is OUR job, as parents, to be the “first school” of the faith.

Continue at Worth of Agape!

Advertisements

“…Accept Children and Bring Them Up According to the Law of Christ…” Part 1

  I’m so delighted to be guest-posting on my dear friend Amanda’s blog while she’s honeymooning! Her series on the questions of intent and marriage vows is lovely, and writing this post to share has been fun. We do, after all, have some experience in this topic. 😉

 

Marriage isn’t just something to do when you love someone and think they’d be swell to live with for the rest of your life. Not even close! I’ll let you know, I love my husband. He is swell. But we don’t always get along, we don’t always have the same ideas about how to raise our family, we don’t always speak the same language, we don’t organize things the same way. Marriage is not always swell! But it is worth it. Marriage just so happens to be one of the various vocations to which a person can be called. It’s a vocation, because it’s a call from God on how best to live our lives and serve Him in this world. Do it well, and we hope for a place in Heaven alongside our spouse (and kids!) for the grand feast and perfect joy that comes with being united finally with God.

The Church has a few things to say about marriage and what is important. She teaches these things because, well, Jesus gave us the Church to guide us. The “rules” are in place to guide us, teach us, help us as we learn to live in the love of Christ.

It’s a big deal. And so, the things which a couple must understand and consent to–the things the Church has to say about marriage–are also a big deal.

One of them has to do with children.

Read the rest on Amanda’s blog!

 

When Scripture Has Just the Right Words

There are days that just start out on the wrong foot, you know? We all joke about Mondays being, well, Mondays. Monday can be a drag. It has a bad rap. For me, today, a Friday, is my Monday. The boys woke up acting sick–partly faking, in my opinion, and God knows why, since we have a birthday party tomorrow and vacation soon…Then they were fighting, yada yada. It’s just a blah kind of a day. My to-do list is a mile long, the baby is likely getting into some sort of mischief, and since we start our summer break from home school, I still have yet to spend a day relaxing. I see no point from here until after July 4 when I’ll feel like I can really relax, unless I make it happen. Today feels like a drag, like the stereotypical Monday.

Yuck.

And yet, there is still time for better! It’s not yet 9am. I made time to sit in stillness and semi-quiet about an hour ago, to read and pray with my favorite all-time devotional, A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms. Today’s verse was just what I needed. It’s just what we all need, everyday, I think. A beautiful reminder that God has *every grace* ready for us, so that we’re not just filled to the minimum and barely getting by, but we’re filled abundantly. Abundantly!

So, go and find some quiet to sit in prayer, soak up the abundant graces just waiting to fill you, and begin your day anew. It doesn’t matter if you’re nearly at the end of your day. Let God’s love and grace fill you, so you have more than enough for all your good works. I know I was deeply moved when reading these words, and am ready to start again, hopefully making the best use of the graces God’s blessed me with.

blue abundant grace

Feel free to copy these images and print them.

pink abundant grace

Favorite Eats: Bee Bim Bop recipe + a fun book

A long time ago, in a galaxy far away…

 

Nevermind, it was just a long time ago, across the country, when I was doing a 365 photo challenge, and also blogged lots of recipes. This was, oh, 6 years ago? Anyway, it was a long time ago. Back to the point, I used to post on my old blog about the recipes I was trying, and it was so fun! Also, I just love food photography and lately am trying to improve on my own food photography, just for fun and giggles. All I’m trying to say is, “I used to share recipes and thought it was fun, and now I’m trying to take better food photos, so here I am doing both again and you get to tag along for the ride and hopefully enjoy a few new recipes along the way.”

(So sorry, Ms. McD, for that awful run-on sentence. I know this would have earned me a “D” and rewrite back in high school.)

First recipe: a family favorite, Bee Bim Bop.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

It’s a Korean dish, and is so yummy and fun to make. Your kids will hopefully also love it. It’s very customizable, so if you don’t like one thing, don’t eat it and have more of another! My kids often only eat the meat and rice, sometimes they add an egg, sometimes they get crazy and even eat the spinach. Shocking, I know. Everyone’s favorite side is sea weed. Even the baby shoves it by fistfuls into his mouth.

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Now, if you’re going for a really fun and well-rounded experience here, go to your library before you make this dish and look for the children’s picture book called, “Bee Bim Bop.”

20140528beebimbopbook

It’s delightful. When we lived in New York, we stumbled across this book in our local library, and it’s a definite gem. I was excited to find it because Bee bim bop is a Korean dish and my mother-in-law is Korean (as in, she grew up there!). It’s fun to have a story and connection to her culture that my kids can enjoy. Also, it has a great recipe for Bee bim bop at the end! Don’t worry if you can’t find it, I am going to give you a recipe for it in just a bit.

My mother-in-law has been making the meat part of this dish for us since before we were married. It’s called bulgogi, and refers to beef. Basically, it is marinated strips of beef which are cooked in a skillet. So yummy. Bee bim bop is “mix mix rice” and is a dish with rice, meat, veggies, and sometimes an egg. You put it all in your bowl, mix it up, and eat! Delicious. You really should try it. It’s not scary at all and you don’t even have to go to a unique store to find ingredients. Your local grocery store will have it all, and if it doesn’t, you might live in a very small town that has no soy sauce, and if that is the case, I’m sorry. But Amazon can sell you soy sauce, so never fear!

And now for the recipe! Introducing, BEE BIM BOP!!! (besides, what kid won’t have fun saying “bee bim bop”? It’s a great name!)

 For the meat (bulgogi)

1lb flank steak, or any tender cut you like. Slice it thinly.

2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 green onions, if you like them
5 T soy sauce
2 T sugar OR chopped apple or Asian apple pear
1 T sesame oil
1 T cooking oil (I use coconut, because I believe it is healthiest! But use what you have on hand)
1 t ground ginger, or 1 T fresh, chopped ginger (fresh is best!)
1 t sesame seeds (optional)
salt and pepper

Mix marinade ingredients together and mix with sliced raw steak. Let sit in fridge for an hour or up to overnight. Also, this freezes REALLY well, so make a double batch if you like.
When ready to cook, heat a large skillet over med-high to high heat. Add the meat and marinade, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Time will vary depending on how thinly you sliced your meat! Set aside.
Veggies and sides:

2-4 c cooked rice (cook as much as your family likes–we always eat a lot with bee bim bop)
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1-2 packages of frozen spinach, thawed
1 clove garlic, minced
4 eggs
oil for frying
kimchi, if you like it! We love having kimchi with bee bim bop.

Saute garlic in oil and add spinach until warmed. Season with salt and pepper if desired.
Fry eggs, or scramble them and slice into ribbons. Set aside.

To serve:
Add rice to bowls, then top with the bulgogi and veggies. Now for the fun: mix it up, stir like crazy! Enjoy your bee bim bop!

 

Currently {3}

Thinking about:

Just exactly how do I figure out, and then follow, God’s plans for the day to day details. You know, staying joyfully on top of housework, handing on the faith to my little brood of children, getting yummy and wholesome meals on the table before 6:30pm meltdowns… All while staying somewhat on top of laundry, sweeping, lunches, diapers, homeschool lessons, showers, time to talk with Fence, lift a few weights here and there (who am I kidding?! The most workout I’ve had in weeks was a half mile run to the park with the kids yesterday)…You get the idea. I’m thinking how to be the best *me* in the life God has given me.

Reading:

I’m always reading Lisa Hendey’s “A Book of Saints for Catholic Moms”, “Something Other than God” came last week and I’ve started it, and the blog Simply Convivial has me hooked at the moment. She has started a sweet new series about happy housekeeping. It sure fits with what’s on my mind lately!

Listening to: 

I’ve pretty much been listening to Fence’s crazy mix of tunes, since I haven’t been turning on my own playlist. He has classic rock, 80s, Christian pop, rap…it’s interesting.

Watching:

bloop…bloop…bloop…

“24” is back on (starting last night). We actually had the kids in bed in time to watch it. My verdict? Meh. The first hour didn’t keep me on the edge of my seat. When it finished, we watched “The Time of the Doctor”, which is the final Matt Smith as The Doctor episode. Doctor Who is just so fun to watch, and even though it was *so weird* at the beginning of the new series (those first few Christopher Eccleston episodes–weird), Fence and I have really enjoyed it together. I’m always a little sad when the Doctor changes. They’re each so clever and witty and fun!

Thankful for:

Health. I believe we are finally, finally on the way to everyone being healthy.

Wishing: (goals for the week)

We have a First Communion at the end of week, and family will be here to visit! So many goals with this: get the house ready, menu prepped, decorations finished…but more importantly, I hope we’ll all be in a joyful mood to celebrate with and support Sweet Pea on her special day. Her godparents might even make the visit! Her godmother is pregnant with their 3rd baby, so depending on how she is feeling, they’ll make the hour-drive down to support Sweet Pea. That would be *so* special for her! 20060723baptismgodparents

I can’t believe it has been almost 8 years since her baptism! Our baby girl is growing up into a beautiful daughter of the King, with such a sweet heart and soul, and honest questions. It’s been a delight to be by her side this year as we prepped for her First Reconciliation and First Holy Communion.

Also, Mother’s Day is this weekend, so I need to finish up the special things for my mom and my mother-in-law. It will be a lovely, joyful weekend!

A Mama Collective

“…in every good word and deed…” {chalkboard printable}

It’s still Lent, which is worth arguing over in our house. 40 days is just so long. So long. My boys can’t believe that it is still Lent and don’t want to believe me when I say Easter is not tomorrow. It’s hard to keep going with sacrifices. It’s hard to keep waiting and waiting on that celebration of the Resurrection at Easter. It’s hard to plod along, knowing the wonder and joy of new life is *so close*…and yet it’s still so far away.

Even nature is feeling it…the yearning for warmer weather, flowers, new life. We have had nice weather here, spring bulbs like daffodils and tulips are poking through the ground. I love seeing the new little green leaves popping up. The anticipation and waiting on the flowers to grow and bloom, for the seeds we’ve planted indoors to sprout is exciting and painfully hard all at once. Today we had 6 inches of snow. Spring is here on the calendar, but winter isn’t ready to leave yet.

We live in a time when instant gratification rules the day. Waiting on spring is hard. Waiting on Easter is hard. Some days, it feels like so much work to keep up with our chosen sacrifices and added prayerful disciplines. We’re tired. I’m tired. (after two weeks with sick kids, it can feel like I’ve had penance enough and it’s time I had a sweet little nibble of comfort food–chocolate–but my comfort should be in the Lord, yes?) Given the choice, most of us might choose to fast-forward through Lent and get right to the party at Easter!

Don’t give up, friends! Maybe you have fallen a bit from the path you started upon for Lent, as I have. Maybe you have stayed strong (good on you!)… I think we can all use some encouragement. This past Sunday was Laetare Sunday, Latin for “rejoice”. We are nearing the end! Don’t give up yet. Rejoice and carry on with turning our hearts towards Christ. Easter is just around the corner (a mere 17 days!), and all the efforts we put into giving our hearts more fully to God will be worth it. The “Alleluia” will be powerful on Easter Sunday–carry on, and let Jesus strengthen you, in every good word and deed.

Please enjoy this 5×7 printable, to encourage you through the rest of Lent, and all your days! If you would like this to fit an 8×10, please let me know and I will create one.

blog2Thess21617

Download by clicking here.

Celebrating a Soon-to-be Saint: JPII

I was 16 when I found myself in a hot, dusty, over-crowded arena outside Paris, surrounded by people from all over the world. On my way back to my group’s camping spot from using one of the 15 total potties (only a slight exaggeration), the large aisles were blocked off and people were no longer able to cross through the sections. I was not able to get back to my group. (in hind-sight, why was I not with a buddy? It probably would have helped me feel less lonely and would have been safer overall…but that was 17 years ago and I was a teen…what was I thinking?) I was hot. Tired. Dehydrated. All I wanted was to be back with my group, to settle in for the evening, and get something to eat.

But the aisles were blocked off.

I didn’t know why, so I was upset.

 

Funny thing about God, is that He makes things happen for the good. Even annoying things like not being able to rejoin a group at World Youth Day.

After some time passed, there was a bit of commotion from behind…and wouldn’t you know, I was trapped just before the Pope Mobile was about to come down the aisle.

Where there is a Pope Mobile, there is a Pope.

 

I was surrounded by a group of Lebanese pilgrims at World Youth Day 1997, in Paris, France…about to be less than 10 feet away from Pope John Paul II. Talk about not only good, but AMAZING.

I am a pretty short girl, so I was standing on tip-toes trying to see as the Pope Mobile slowly made its way down the aisle. A sweet, dear man who was in the group around me, from Lebanon, motioned to me that I could sit on his shoulders. I did. I was on top of the world, sitting on that man’s shoulders…and I saw Pope John Paul II for the first time that day. It was deeply moving; I was overcome with joy and emotion.

 (I wish I had pictures, but 1997 was before camera phones, ya’ll. It was before I owned a digital camera. And since I was on my way back from the bathroom break, I didn’t have my camera with me. Sorry for no images!)

Since then, I saw JPII in person, from less than 15 away, again, in St. Peter’s Square. It was another moving experience. He was a powerful, loving, joyful, wise man. His influence reached beyond the Catholic Church. JPII was loved by many, admired and respected by people of all faiths.

 

This month, he will be canonized an official saint in the Catholic Church! We are very excited about this, and will be spending this month reading about him and preparing to celebrate his canonization. As a special patron of our family, I think it will turn into an annual celebration! My husband asks for Blessed John Paul II’s intercession each night during our family prayers, and our children have grown to love him this year since we took up skiing as a family activity. JPII loved the mountains and used to ski!

I want to share our plans, so that if your family would also like to celebrate JPII this month, you can find inspiration in my ideas.

 

What we’re reading:

Untitled
“Blessed John Paul II: Be Not Afraid” by Susan Helen Wallace, FSP
“My Dear Young Friends”, a collection of words from Bl. JPII to teens on life, love, and courage
“For the Children: Words of Love and Inspiration from His Holiness Pope John Paul II”

Copywork of favorite quotes:
(will vary, depending on how much we choose, but this one taken from the “For the Children” book will definitely be done)
“True happiness lies in giving ourselves in love to our brothers and sisters.”

“Be not afraid.”

“If you follow Jesus’ advice and pray to God constantly, then you will learn to pray well. God himself will teach you.”

What we’re listening to:
The Glory Stories edition on Bl. John Paul II

What we’ll be eating:
Have you heard of Papal Cream Cake? It sounds amazingly delicious. Not originally called “Papal”, this cream cake was a favorite of Bl. John Paul II, and has been renamed because of his fondness for it! The cream custard filling between layers of flaky dough looks so tasty…

Also, apparently Bl. John Paul II enjoyed a certain risotto which was prepared for him, with spring vegetables. I’ll be making both dishes for our family to eat in his honor.

What’s on the “big screen”:

There are a few different movies to choose from about his life. Since we recently gave up Netflix, we’ll have to see which our library has available for borrowing.

 

For more about Bl. John Paul II, visit these sites:

EWTN on JPII

A miracle story is featured on Catholic Exchange

I am so excited about this month, and celebrating this soon-to-be saint! If you have ideas to share, please do! The more, the merrier!

Macarons for the Annunciation

Tomorrow is another awesome solemnity in the Catholic Church–the Annunciation. It also happens to be one of those days which so many people confuse with the other “A”-name holy days: the Ascension and the Assumption. If macarons shipped easily, I’d send some to the first person to correctly explain the difference. Sorry to say, I don’t think they’d ship very well.

So, what is this solemnity all about? And are we solemn (sad/serious) about it?

Second question first: Yes, we are serious about it. Sad, no way. We take our solemnities seriously, as in, we treat these days with reverence and awe…and they are the highest sorts of feasts on the Church calendar. That means, they are special, and worthy of celebrating.

First question now: The Annunciation is when the Archangel Gabriel announced to Mary that she would be the mother of Jesus.

https://i1.wp.com/www.internetmonk.com/wp-content/uploads/fra-angelico-the-annunciation1.jpg

(Fra Angelico painting)

That’s a pretty big deal. No Annunciation, no fiat (Mary’s “let it be”), there’d be no Jesus and with no Jesus, no Christianity! So, this solemnity is certainly important, and special. It’s worth reading the story from the Gospel of Luke with our families. Take some time to talk about how prayerful and faithful Mary was, to say “let it be done unto me” in response to the Archangel Gabriel’s message. Spend time in personal prayer, meditating on what Mary’s fiat can teach us, and where in our lives God is calling for us to follow Mary’s example. To what should we say, “yes, Lord, let it be”? (Which, by the way, this prayer of Mary’s is a bit of a precursor to Jesus’ own prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, when he prays “not my will, but Yours done” Luke 22:42.)

It’s also worth celebrating this high feast with something special (no fasting!), and in our house, it will be macarons. Blue macarons, for Mary. I believe I’ll set out the table cloth, bring some candles to the table, as well as our statue of Mary, and enjoy macarons in her honor. Tea sounds like a nice thing to have, also. It will be a tea party for the Annunciation, complete with the reading from Luke.

Many people fear making macarons, because they seem tricky when reading through the recipe. It’s also complicated when most of the recipes measure the ingredients out in grams, and how many of us own kitchen scales? Not this girl. Add the touchy bit of whipping the egg whites and folding in the dry ingredients, just right…I guess many bakers would rather not attempt the macaron. But they are so lovely! I can’t resist a lovely cookie like this.

When I first made macarons, it seemed tedious to weigh and sift the almond flour and powdered sugar…but it was (and is) totally worth it. Also, when I first made them, I used a recipe from a blog, which I had googled, and found this recipe to be worth trying since the baker/blogger literally had tested batches and batches of macarons. Her recipe was tried and true.

Happening now. #macarons #VSCOcam #rhonnadesigns

A month or so ago, Martha Stewart’s Living magazine arrive in my mail box, and the cover was delightfully covered in beautiful macarons. I knew I needed an occasion to make them again, and the Annunciation fit the bill. This is why we are having tea and macarons tomorrow…I admit it. A pretty magazine cover inspired me.

I will also admit that Martha’s recipe was/is lacking. One thing she’s missing is cream of tartar for whipping the egg whites. And as I read through the recipe, I was sure that baking at 350 degrees was too hot.

I went back to the first recipe I used, and then searched for high altitude tips. Baking anything at high altitude takes some adjusting. Turns out for this recipe, it is a minor temperature and baking time difference. Not too shabby. I also converted the original recipe’s measurements into ounces, thanks to Google. Does that mean I now have my own version of a macaron recipe?!
20140323revisions
{sorry, not sorry, Martha…I wrote all over your pretty recipe page with my adjustments}

Woah. I think it does.

Gina’s (heavenly) Macarons

supplied needed:

piping bag

piping tip with large opening

parchment paper

baking sheets

ingredients:

4.2 oz almond meal

7 oz powdered sugar

3.5 oz (or just 3 large) egg whites, at room temperature

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

3-4 T granulated sugar (don’t worry that I am not measuring that precisely. I don’t do precise on that…it whips with the whites)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

a few drops GEL food coloring, if desired

20140323prepping

After measuring the almond meal and powdered sugar (I use my postal scale), sift them together. I like to blend them quickly in my food processor to combine, then I sift. Set aside.

In a stand mixer, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar until foamy, then begin gradually adding the granulated sugar. Beat until glossy, stiff peaks form. At this point, add in the extract and food coloring if you are using them. DO NOT USE regular drop colors. The extra moisture will ruin your cookies. Trust me. I did that once.

Fold in the almond flour/sugar mixture, about 40 strokes, until it resembles what you imagine lava might look like, if it were sugary and brightly colored.

20140323folding

Fill your piping bag (it helps to put the bag into a tall glass and fold the top over the rim). Pipe small circles onto parchment-lined baking sheet. I make mine about the size of a quarter.

20140323pipedmacarons

Once your cookies are piped, tap the sheets a few times on the counter to release air bubbles.

Now. Important. Let them sit for at least 30 minutes to dry out a bit. You will know they are ready when the tops no longer feel tacky to a light touch.

Heat your oven to 255 degrees, and bake one sheet at a time for about 17 minutes. It can vary, so watch around 16 minutes in. Some batches may take longer to set up.

The macarons baked perfectly! Yea! Now for filling.

If it works, your macarons will be puffy and have sweet little crunchy feet at the bottom!

 

Next, you make little sandwiches with buttercream, jam, ganache…whatever sounds lovely. I made a cream cheese butter cream today.

#rhonnadesigns #sweet #macarons #celebrate #VSCOcam

And now we anxiously await tomorrow’s solemnity, so we can celebrate the Annunciation with these sweet little bites. Go now, and feast. Read the Gospel. Meditate. Be glad Mary said “yes.” Smile. Be grateful. Be joyful.

How to Get Things Done…Or Not (But be at peace about it)

“But when I finally had the time to prayerfully prioritize my approach to each day, it was so much easier to keep my life in balance. I could finally say with a shrug:

“Well, Lord, I guess that long list of things I didn’t do today isn’t that important. You could have either given me more time or put those things at the top of the list if they mattered in your plan, but since you didn’t, I’ll forget about them for tonight and go read a book in bed.”

^^If these words from Jennifer Fulwiller’s blog aren’t meant for me, then you can call me crazy. I mentioned recently how I’m feeling called to simplicity, but I’ve been struggling with how to do that. How do scale back, when the 5,937 things on my list seem really important. After all, this first week of Lent? Fail. Can you say “two chiro appointments, lunch date with wives at my house, baking cookies and 10lb potatoes for fish fry at church, baby shower…” Yup, all that has been on my list for this week. Also, add in the normal things, such as school, feeding the family (they are always hungry), trying to workout, … … You get the idea. The whole simplicity thing? Not really becoming reality here. Yet.

But I am committed to it!

And now I know what I need to do to make it happen.

I need to pray, and pray about how to prioritize my day. Chances are, God has a good idea of what is the most important thing I need to check off on the ol’ to-do list. Chances are, if I open up my ears for half a second, I’ll get a glimpse of the simplicity He is calling me to, know what to tackle first, and I’ll find peace.

Ah, peace. That elusive thing I yearn for…

Quiet time with The Best Love, Jesus

 

But sitting in prayer, especially when I have a chance to be *this close* to Jesus in church, does bring me peace. Last night, I stopped in for a few brief minutes after dropping off my Little Man for children’s choir practice, and the message was this: “Relax. It will get done.” Great! Relax!! I am all for relaxing. But “it”…what is “it” that will get done, that maybe I need to put some attention to? That “it” is a bit of a mystery to me, but I put my trust in God that “it” will get done, and “it” will be what is most important. For now, I keep putting my days’ goals and plans in His hands, and trust that what matters most is what draws my attention and energies.

For example, I posted about all my plans for Lent. Ask me how many we are slacking on (er…prioritizing differently), and I will tell you “it depends on the day”. We are praying for a different person daily, and we are adding food to our donation box. This week we will do Stations of the Cross, if not at our parish then in our home. We’ve read the daily devotions about 3 or 4 times. My kids are keeping up with their personal sacrifices very well. Overall, so far, “it” is getting done. Knowing that God knows our hearts and intentions, I pray He’s also gently molding us more into His image each day.

I know I need to relax more in order to simplify. That probably is going to mean focusing on the task in front of me and getting it done to the best of my current ability before stressing about the next 53 things on the to-do list. After all, if God Himself took His time creating the world and bringing about His plans of salvation in Christ, how much more should I take my time about my daily tasks? God could have just snapped His figurative fingers and all of creation could have suddenly existed, yet He took days to complete it. I can’t snap my fingers well, nor twitch my nose like Samantha from the old show “Bewitched”. I can only give my best to one thing at a time, and relax.

And so I will. Now that I have given my best to this post (after a week), I am hitting post, and moving to the next thing on my list.

A Bigger Deal than the First Day of School: First Holy Communion

Any of you have young ones preparing to receive their First Holy Communion this spring? Are you excited, or dreading, the shopping for white dresses and nice suits? Wondering if you should buy shoes now, or wait a month just in case feet grow? Planning the party? Making invitations?

Are you preparing your child at home, or sending them to the parish program to prepare? Are you praying together at home? Planning a family trip to the sacrament of Confession a few times before the Big Day?

Are you anticipating the day with excitement and letting the excitement rub off on your child, or grumbling that you won’t be able to sit close enough for good pictures?

Yes, that was a lot of questions! I don’t often play 20-questions…but these all seem important to be asking ourselves (myself).

I have a daughter preparing for First Holy Communion, and each day my excitement for her grows. M is our 2nd child to prepare for the sacrament, but she’s the first one I have prepared at home. We are part of a great parish, and our children are enrolled in the parish RE program, but they have left sacrament preparation up to the parents. They do provide books and support if needed, as well as a sort of retreat and interview at the end of the preparation time. The books they’ve provided are good–true to the official Church teachings, and child-friendly, but when I read through the books last fall for Penance, I just felt there had to be something better. In other words, this homeschool mama and former RE director just doesn’t love the books they gave us.

I polled some other experienced homeschool moms, and decided to look into the materials provided by Catholic Heritage Curricula. They are just fabulous. My daughter and I have been having great discussions about the Mass while she assembles a Mass book with prayer cards. I read to her from one or two books, which talk about the sacrifice of the Mass, the importance of the Eucharist, and how we can best prepare now for First Holy Communion, and be prepared for every Mass.

Like I said, my excitement grows each day. As I teach my daughter, my love for the Mass and Eucharist grows. Our Savior comes to us, physically present and full of life-giving Love at every single Mass! Imagine! No matter how we’ve been acting, no matter how distant we’ve become, no matter if it is our 1st, 78th, or 1,000th Communion, Jesus is anticipating being with us, with open arms, just waiting for us to welcome him with open arms and heart. As a parent, I know the joy and anticipation of being welcomed by a child when I arrive home after being away…I know the joy of being welcomed by my parents when we visit…just think–how much more does Jesus anticipate us, and how much more joy and love He has to share with us when we receive Him (worthily!) in the Eucharist!

If only our longing for Him equaled His longing for us.

It dawned on me the other day, that there are many important “growing up” and “coming of age” days which we plan for, anticipate, and celebrate in our children’s lives. Pinterest is a great tool for things like birthdays and first days of school…and yet, it can also be a burden. How much time we mothers can spend searching for the perfect table-scape, perfect decor, perfect food…for these passing days which are fun and great to celebrate, but aren’t nearly as BIG as First Holy Communion.

I mean…WOW. Being united with our God, our Savior, the One who loves us more than we can ever know, more than any person on earth can ever dream of loving us…for the first time! Take a second and just *try* wrap your head around it.

First Holy Communion is a much bigger deal than a first birthday or first day of school.

I say we take back the importance and celebration, and make it worthwhile! Let’s spend time, first of all, praying for and with our children preparing for this great sacrament, and joyfully look forward to it with them. Read about the Mass together, talk about what the Eucharist is, and share any stories you have of profound experiences in Adoration or at Mass. Go to daily Mass together if you can. Go at least once to the sacrament of Confession as a family, before First Holy Communion. Talk about (or learn together) Eucharistic miracles. Then, don’t feel guilty spending time planning a great celebration for your child! Of course, this isn’t all about the party after Mass…but the party should be a continuation of the joy of being in Communion with Christ.

Overwhelmed? Here are some of my favorites for First Communion.

first communion faves

1-For gifts from Mom and Dad before the event, how about a lovely new hair clip from Lilla Rose? They come in many sizes for little girls, fine or thicker hair, and moms, too. (Link is for a blogger friend’s website)

2-Or, a new custom rosary for your son or daughter? I just love the combinations Allison has, and the many options for cross and holy medals! For girls, you can also ask about rosary bracelets.

3-To read before First Holy Communion, as a family, “The King of the Golden City”. We are reading this right now, as a read-aloud a few times each morning. It is a lovely story about a little girl and her relationship with the King (Jesus), who guides her on the journey to The Golden City (Heaven).

4-Also a good read before First Holy Communion, the “Little Catechism on the Eucharist” explains details of the faith, the sacrament, and has stories of Eucharistic miracles, too.

5-Dresses can be hard to find in local stores, as I found when we were shopping for Miss T two years ago. Then we found the website flowergirldressesforless.com. Two years ago, and again this year (just tonight!) we found lovely dresses for a reasonable price. Be sure to follow their measuring guidelines!! My girls are on the petite side, but not so petite that at age 7 they regularly wear a size 4 dress. But, following their measuring guides and sizing guides, that is the size of dress we ordered. It worked out perfectly two years ago. There are enough options for all kinds of budgets and styles, so take a look! They also have veils and headbands.

I could go on and on. Check back soon for more, I hope to share some other things we are doing to prepare spiritually, and to plan a simple, yet meaningful celebration for such a special event!

{linking with Moxie Wife for 5 Favorites!}