A season of preparation, and finally, Easter

The past few seasons have been like a whirlwind. I got married and had a baby in the same week. My in-laws stayed with us for an extended visit to help after James was born. Lent started, we worked on getting the house cleaned and organized. My country focused on who would be the next president. My toddler adjusted (or is adjusting?) to life with her new brother. I am adjusting to being a new wife. I had my first hours, days, and weeks as a stay at home mother of two.

And through it all, I’ve had these feelings, these unshakeable intuitions. I didn’t want to talk about them at first, because… well, I felt like they were whisperings of the Holy Spirit and that those precious, mystical intuitions were something to keep hush about. And not just because people would look at me like I’m crazy if I went around talking about how God was nudging me.

holy spirit catholic lent easter christian faith testimony oh the simple joys God is good

So starting this winter I had this intuition, this whisper inside me saying: prepare. I didn’t know what I was preparing for. I tried to prepare mentally, spiritually, and outwardly. I tried to live simply and minimize my life, get organized, donate old clothes. Change can be big and scary, but since I had this gentle and comforting warning, I felt at peace with whatever Big Change might come next. I wondered what it might be. I didn’t take myself too seriously, because you never know how reliable these kinds of intuitions are. But it felt reliable. So I watched, I waited. It was Lent, so I prayed and I spent less time on social media and more time with my children.

On the eve of the terrorist attack in Belgium, I had a nightmare. I don’t remember the details but I knew it was big and bad and that everything would change and my nightmare gave me the day: Easter Sunday. I woke up sort of skeptically terrified. I knew that it was just a dream. But I feared there would be a huge terrorist attack, or that a loved one would die, or that something would happen to me or Bodie or my children. Have you ever had a dream like that? Where you know that it’s just a dream and yet you can’t shake the feeling of, “What if it isn’t”?

So, I tried not to obsess. I stared at my babies beautiful faces more and spent even less time on the internet. I cried and I prayed. (Postpartum hormones anyone?) I told myself, it is just a dream. After a day or two I moved on and worried about it less often. Then I read this article and realized: these feelings and intuitions are about this liturgical season. My children weren’t going to die, Jesus was.

No giant worldly change was coming. It hit me like a ton of bricks, Lent is supposed to be a season of spiritual preparation. Good Friday is supposed to be big and horrible and tragic and devastating. My heart broke for Mary, who must have known what was coming for her son. Who had to watch her baby be strung up and crucified and ridiculed and tortured and killed. But then I was filled with the peace and joy of the resurrection, of Easter Sunday coming, and because of this, we are safe. Saved.

Realizing this all made me think wow, is this some kind of liturgical seasonal affective disorder? Some bad postpartum anxiety? But I think not. It isn’t a disorder, it’s a blessing. It is something that I’ve prayed for — to be closer to Jesus and experience his experiences, even those that are painful.

God is good, and when we pray to be close to Him, he draws us near in unexpected ways.

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Happy Chanukah, pregnancy challenges, & our suppers this week

Happy Chanukah!

menorah

Yes we are Catholic, yes we celebrate Chanukah. I grew up in a Jewish / Presbyterian household, and then converted later (which you can read about here), but still took a few family traditions with me.

So we had a lovely family dinner with my parents and grandparents, latkes, brisket, the works. Miriam loved it, she was fascinated by the lights and the new Chanukah books that magically appeared on our living room table.

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Stained glass craft for all ages

stained glass craft toddler homeschool activities religious christian faith pre-school art

My daughter has recently been very interested in stained glass, so for our morning homeschool activity we made a “stained glass” window for our house. I’ve seen this done with colored tissue paper, or translucent paints on glass, but we did the quick and easy toddler version of a stained glass craft with supplies I had around the house.

what you’ll need:

  • saran wrap
  • tempera or acrylic paints
  • masking tape or painter’s tape
  • piece of paper
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Why I remain a Catholic – Michelle from Oh The Simple Joys

A recent pew report showed that the number of people who call themselves Catholic is decreasing, and so Elizabeth Scalia of Patheos challenged all Catholic writers and bloggers to tell the world: why do YOU remain a Catholic? I love challenges like this, and a lot of you have been asking me about my faith recently so I thought that this would be a great way to let you into my little world of faith.

Here’s why I remain a Catholic:

I just got here

Yep, I’m a convert! I was born to a Presbyterian father and a Jewish mother, and grew up in a household with two faiths. (In fact we still celebrate many Jewish holidays, or incorporate aspects of that culture into our lives. Our Easter table had kugel on it, our Christmas tree always gets a Star of David ornament.)

So Jewish and Protestant roots, then I went to a Quaker high school. In college, I searched and searched, and finally found my faith. I took classes for over a year, learned all that I could, and was finally baptized, confirmed, and had my first Holy Communion three years ago in 2012. Though I’m out of that first little “honeymoon phase”, I still feel new and excited about my faith, and I have a ton more to learn.

christmas menorah red and green chanukah oh the simple joys catholic jew religion faith
Tacky? Perhaps, but I love our red and green menorah, and the ways we honored (and blended) our Jewish and Christian heritage.
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Keep kids in church: my case against “Cry Rooms”

keep children in church not the cry room or religious ed to build faith

Let me paint you a picture of church with my toddler. It’s usually just the two of us. Here’s how today went:

Miriam thinks the kneeler is a balance beam. Okay, I can handle that. Whoops, elbow’s getting too close to the the people in front of us who are kinda rustling like “what just touched me?” Time for a new game. Try to escape the pew! Testing the limits of how far I’ll let her go… out of the pew? One step? Up the aisle? No? Okay, after stomping and grumping, time to meet and explore the people next to us. I don’t want Miriam to distract them from worshipping so I pull her back into my lap. Ah, nice. For five seconds, then it’s onto exploring the people behind us! And now they are kneeling so their faces are REALLY CLOSE, HI!!! And so on, and so forth. It is HARD.

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