My Word of the Year is Fidelity

If you miss The Zelie Group’s JEI Linkup, Alicia decided to make it biweekly and host it on her own blog. So head over to Sweeping Up Joy to see what she wrote this week.

1. What is one small thing, if you accomplish it in 2017, that will make you feel successful?

I don’t think that there is any one thing, especially not a small thing, that would make me feel successful this year. I feel pretty lucky when we’re all together and healthy year after year. I would really love to see some regular traffic to this blog, though!

2. Have you picked a word of the year or patron saint of the year?

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Get Absorbed in a Creative New Devotional this Easter

There was a cold snap this week. Despite the cold, the sun is out later in the evening, reminding me that the winter is not so long. Have you started thinking about Easter yet? What will you be doing to mark Christ’s resurrection this year? How will you make it holy? How will you deepen your relationship with Christ?

I had the opportunity to read Walk in Her Sandals, a cross between an Easter devotional and historical fiction, edited by Kelly Wahlquist. I received a free copy in exchange for my honest review.

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5 Steps to the Best Daily Schedule for You

There is something about becoming a mother, or maybe it’s reaching my late thirties, that made me really start to value my time. Motherhood is such a full time of life. Your time needs to include your kids and all their stuff, like cleaning, cooking, crafting, climbing, and snuggling. You need time for the rest of your family, your work and hobbies, self-care and prayer. Finding a place in your life for everything takes some planning.

Scheduling is the solution and there are lots of planners available to help you with your strategy, but I didn’t make a schedule for a long time for all these reasons:

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Shaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life’s Storms

This post contains affiliate links and advertisements. When you use them I receive a small payment (at no cost to you) that helps support my family and this blog. Click to read more.
 
I wanted to read Shaken because one of the speakers at Alpha, our adult faith formation group, quoted it. I was a little concerned that it wouldn’t speak to me. I was really looking for something to recommend to my husband.

I received this book from the Blogging for Books program in exchange for this review. To be honest, I started it and didn’t give it a fair chance. It’s riddled with football statistics, jargon and references that I didn’t understand. I’m not a fan of football and I live in Canada. Fortunately, I picked it up again in the quiet of January and read it all. Tim Tebow is an athlete, but that isn’t his first calling. He’s first and foremost a follower of Jesus. He wants to go where Jesus would want him to go. He encourages us to see ourselves the way God sees us and live the life that we were meant to live.

The book isn’t just about sports. Tebow tells us the humble details of the ups and downs of his career and the enlightenment that he has gained through his ministry. We accompany him as he uplifts the sick and marginalised at home) and abroad. Other inspirational people, with stories that support Tebow’s experiences, appear throughout the book.

Shaken (Shop Amazon CAN | US) is a good read for men, teen boys, and football fans. It will pull you out of your slump and set you on a path to success in Jesus. It’s humble and honest. Charming and funny at times. If you’re not a sports fan, but you are looking for a Christian book with an unusual perspective, give this one a try.
 

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{Getting To Know Us} The Quiet Rest of Adoration

This post contains affiliate links and advertisements. When you use them I receive a small payment (at no cost to you) that helps support my family and this blog. Click to read more.
 
It’s January. The carols have stopped. The voices and laughter of guests has faded away. The twittering and squeals of happy kids with new toys has slowed and stopped. It’s quiet. The winter is really just beginning. The cold and snow is sure to come, if it hasn’t already. Life is slower until the summer comes. Whether we want to or not, it is a time to rest.

January 2016 Quiet

image source Jill111 at pixabay.com

 
Living in an apartment, next to new construction with a homeschooled six year old means that it is rarely quiet. When it is, it seems to happen without warning. I notice all at once that there’s not a sound and I revel momentarily in the novelty. Then…I fill the space. The kettle boiling. Music streaming. Someone is live on Facebook. Peace and quiet is an invitation to springboard into the next thing.

How long can you sit with silence? Most people find it hard.

In meditation instruction they call this the monkey mind, because our minds are always in motion, always curious, always trying to get our attention. Most of us don’t do much to train ourselves to rest. Particularly, we don’t place much value on resting our minds. When we say that we need rest, we really mean that we need recreation or sleep.

“Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations.
I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 (WEB)

Even as a cradle Catholic, I had not heard of Eucharistic Adoration until I returned to the church last year. It’s Catholic meditation, where you adore Jesus in the form of the blessed Communion. The host is a little wafer mounted in a stately holder for the day. People can come and spend time with Him. Some people sit or kneel and pray. Others read devotional books.
 

Learn more about Adoration with this title from Christianbook.com:
177773: Could You Not Watch with Me One Hour?: How to Cultivate a Deeper Relationship with the Lord through Eucharistic Adoration
Could You Not Watch with Me One Hour?:
How to Cultivate a Deeper Relationship with the Lord through Eucharistic Adoration

By Florian Racine / Ignatius Press

 
In the Eastern tradition of meditation and yoga you train your mind to let go of all the busyness. Imagine your mind is like a train station at Christmas time and the passengers are the thoughts. The goal is to usher those thoughts (passengers) on to their destinations so efficiently that it’s as if they weren’t even there. Through practice you can do it so effortlessly that your mind (the station) is still and you can experience peace, enlightenment, your true self.

In adoration we meet Jesus in the crowded station and He fills us up and comforts us, transforming our relationship with ourselves and others. Instead of working with the silence or filling it up with noise, in adoration I can fill it with Jesus and my conversation with Him.

In this quiet time of year, when we find ourselves still and before we hurry on to the next thing, let’s take a moment to sit with Jesus and allow him to fill us up with his presence.
 
This is my first post for The Zelie Group’s new link-up, “Getting To Know Us”. We invite you to write a blog post (or two!) or post on social media about what “Quiet” means to you during the month of January. Link up at the bottom of this post and use the hashtags #thezeliegroup, #tzg_quiet and #tzg_gettingtoknowus to connect with us.
 
Check out these titles (and more!) at Christianbook.com to learn more about Adoration and Christian meditation.

171025: Eucharistic Adoration Coloring Book
Eucharistic Adoration Coloring Book
By Katerine Sotnik / Ignatius Press

307607: Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation
Into the Silent Land: A Guide to the Christian Practice of Contemplation
By Martin Laird / Oxford University Press



{Library Haul} or When did I borrow these?

 

If you follow The Zelie Group blogs you get the idea that Christmas is ideally a time of thoughtful preparation…it’s pensive, even. I have a confession to make. Around the 20th my holiday train started to careen out of control. Making meal plans, cleaning the house, preparing for our Daniel Plan diet, wrapping gifts, planning my 2017 blog. Add in traffic getting heavy with holiday shoppers, bad weather, opening hours getting erratic…I don’t even remember requesting half of the library books in my house.

But, still there are some things to share with you.

My daughter loves playing with playdough, but ends up crumbling it into tiny pieces, one canister at a time. She needs direction, so that I can consider it productive. This book is easy to follow and is a great introduction to getting more creative with clay. (Shop Amazon CAN | US)

My daughter picked this one out the last time we were in the library. I think it was the peacock. In this book a grandfather takes his grandson to a Remembrance Day ceremony. They talk about how it feels to be in a war, using animal metaphors and illustrations. It’s a gentle, sweet book. (Shop Amazon CAN | US).

This book about earthquakes is a great introduction for young kids. The explanation is complete and introduces lots of new vocabulary, but it’s also brief and simple. It’s colourful, with big text and has a hands on demonstration that little kids can do. (Shop Amazon CAN | US)

Don’t forget to check out the other bloggers linking up at Sweeping Up Joy.
 

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12 Photos Recapturing 2016 at Our House

I’m linking up with Bobbi at Revolution of Love for a 2016 Photo Recap. 2016 was a big year for us. Take a peek.

Penpals and Postcrossing

This year we discovered penpals and Postcrossing.  June has three penpals and I have one, all in the United States. We’ve been collecting postcards from people all over the world using Postcrossing. I’m waiting to receive a batch of postcards right now. (The postal service is slow after Christmas.)

Muffin Day at McDonald's

We started a new tradition. Every Saturday morning we get up and go directly to McDonald’s for muffins and coffee. Muffin Day really changed our Saturday mornings from a grouchy waste of time into a productive high point of our week.

Dinosaur Love

We love dinosaurs this year. Dinosaur toys, dinosaurs at the museum – and we really love painting dinosaurs.

Ballet Lessons

June took her first ballet lesson this year. It was a great experience for her…but she still dances to her own beat.

Mia the Beta

We got out first pet, Mia the Beta. She promptly died. Then we got Sunshine the Beta, who also died. Both were buried among the marigolds in Grandma’s garden.

Back Injury

Daddy hurt his back this year, and we’re happy that it got better, but it won’t ever be the same. I had started going to church again after more than ten years away and the injury brought Daddy to church, too. It was a blessing in disguise.

June overcame her fear and fed the goats at the petting zoo for the very first time this year. We had a nice summer.

Summer at Grandma's

We visited Grandma and Grandpa and June learned how to bake pies.

Baptism

June was Baptised in June. Grandma baked a cake shaped like a lamb to celebrate. She made this cake at Easter when I was little.

Tried Alpha

My husband and I did Alpha together. It’s the beginning of his course to do the sacraments and join the church. I loved being able to be there with him and June loved playing with the other kids from church while we were in class.

6th Birthday

June turned six!

Married

My husband, Bob and I “normalised” our marriage in the church. We have a new Boxing Day anniversary now.

That’s it for us. Don’t forget to check out the other posts at Revolution of Love.

 

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2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge

 

2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge

image source StockSnap at pixabay.com

I love to call myself an avid reader, but I’m not sure that I actually am one. I read obsessively as a teen, but then college killed my love of reading in short order. Have you ever drifted away from something that was a big part of your identity, like music, reading or the church? It’s hard to go back because it’s tough to face the reality that it once defined you, but now you’re out of the loop.

My love of books never went away, though. I still loved Amazon, bookstores (especially used ones), and libraries. I still collect books of every topic imaginable that are free, or almost, in the interest of having an eclectic library. Really though, the charm is in the way each book is different. Each one has a unique set of characteristics, just like a person. Beyond the content and cover art there is the size, weight, the age and wear of the pages, the way it smells, where it turned up and when. I guess it would be more accurate to say that for the last twenty years I’ve had a love of books rather than I’ve been an avid reader.

I’ve been coming back slowly. Over the last several years I find my younger self peeking through more and more and one of the things that has returned is the desire to read something more than cookbooks and Christian non-fiction.

It will soon be a new year, so it’s time to be thinking about resolutions. Then, on my Facebook, up popped the 2017 Modern Mrs. Darcy Reading Challenge with it’s upbeat graphics and very reasonable expectations!

I used Goodreads to plan my reading list. Two books a month; can I do it?
 
A book that I chose for the cover is Shiver (Shop Amazon US | CAN) by Maggie Stiefvater. It’s supposed to be similar to Twilight and both my husband and I really enjoyed Twilight. Plus, isn’t the cover pretty?
 
The book with a reputation for being un-put-down-able is going to be Water for Elephants (Shop Amazon US | CAN) by Sara Gruen. I have it on my shelf and I’ve started it, but never finished. This is the year I’ll read it.
 
Picking a book set somewhere you’ve never been, but would like to visit was so much fun! I considered London, England and Alaska, but I settled on New Orleans. The Cajun culture, with it’s connections to Acadian culture, is really interesting to me because we live near where the Acadians lived. I’ll be reading The House on First Street (Amazon US | CAN) by Julia Reed, set in New Orleans.
 
I’ve already read Anne of Green Gables (Amazon US | CAN) by Lucy Maud Montgomery when I was in my preteens. It was formative for me. I wish, deep down, that communities still looked like that. I had to leave my set behind in a move, but repurchased them when we got settled because I had to have them for my daughter. It’s high time I reread it.
 
It was hard to find a juicy memoir. How will I know if it’s juicy beforehand? I picked By Myself and Then Some (Amazon US | CAN) by Lauren Bacall. My curiosity about Lauren Bacall started when I picked her portrait from Pinterest to bring to my hairdresser for a new look.
 
I would never have been able to find a book about books or reading, except I just joined a Facebook community named after The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (Amazon US | CAN) by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows and my curiosity was peaked.
 
The genre I usually avoid is science fiction. I don’t find it immersive. I loved the movie version of Ender’s Game (Amazon US | CAN) by Orson Scott Card and I promised my husband I would read it sometime.
 
I loved the first few seasons of True Blood and I’ve got a soft spot for things set in the Southern US. I don’t want to admit that I’m dying to read Dead Until Dark (Amazon US | CAN) by Charlaine Harris.
 
For a moment I wasn’t sure how to find a book in the blacklist of a new favourite author. Do authors really “blacklist” other authors? Where would I find that information? As I’ve said, I’m out of the loop so I don’t have any favourite authors, particularly not new ones. Then I remembered my new Facebook friend Lea Ann Garfias who is an author. So, I picked Happy Wives Club (Amazon US | CAN) by Fawn Weaver because Lea Ann gave it a low rating on Goodreads.
 
Then, I headed over to Tauna’s (of the Proverbial Homemaker) Goodreads profile, searching for a book recommended by someone with great taste. I totally agree with her taste in kids’ books. For grownups, she gave Peace Like a River (Amazon US | CAN) by Leif Enger a high rating, so I added that to my list.
 
A book that I was excited to buy from the library discards pile, but haven’t read yet is On A Personal Note by Rita MacNeil. Rita MacNeil was a Cape Breton folk singer. I’ve been to her tearoom in Cape Breton at every opportunity and I even saw her there in person once.
 
I already love reading Christian classics and one that I really should get to reading soon is Mere Christianity (Amazon US | CAN) by C.S. Lewis.
 
From the Newbery Award winners or Honor books I chose The Graveyard Book (Amazon US | CAN) by Neil Gaiman. I actually read it a few years ago during the new Mommy haze and I wanted to give it another look. I didn’t really think of it as a children’s book either, so I want to give it a second look to see it it’s a choice for June in the future.
 
The book in translation that I chose is Heidi (Amazon US | CAN) by Johanna Spyri. I was about twelve the last time I read it and June will be reading it for school so I’m going to brush up.
 
I’m finally reading A Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin (Amazon US | CAN) this year, it’s more than 600 pages!
 
Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices (Amazon US | CAN) is a book of poetry by Paul Fleischman. I’ll probably read it with my daughter.
 
For a book of any genre that addresses current events I picked Girl in Translation (Amazon US | CAN) by Jean Kwok, a fictional romance about a Chinese family that immigrated to Brooklyn.
 
I’ve been curious about The Kite Runner (Amazon US | CAN) by Khaled Hosseini, so I picked it for an immigrant story.
 
We just bought a collection of Roald Dahl books for my daughter for Christmas. I’m most looking forward to rereading James and the Giant Peach (Amazon US | CAN), which was written before I was born.
 
There are so many series that I want to read it was hard to choose which three books by the same author I wanted to put on this list. It’s going to be the first three books in the Harry Potter (Amazon US | CAN) series by J.K. Rowling.
 
In a reader that I used in junior high I was struck by an excerpt from The Color Purple (Amazon US | CAN) by Alice Walker and resolved to read it one day, but never did. I’m picking it for the book by a #diversebooks author.
 
I had to consult Listopia to find a book with an unreliable narrator or ambiguous ending and settled on American Psycho (Amazon US | CAN) by Bret Ellis because it’s one of my favourite movies.
 
I picked All the Light We Cannot See (Amazon US | CAN) by Anthony Doerr for the Pulitzer Prize or National Book Award winner on my list. I’m cheating and choosing The Daughter (Amazon US | CAN) by Jane Shemilt, which was nominated for an Edgar Award in 2016, not 2017, because I abhor waiting and loose ends.
 
Do you have a reading list or plans for any reading challenges this year?
 

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Holiday Treats from the Zelie Group

Free Christmas Holiday Recipes

image source vivienviv0 at pixabay.com


Some of The Zelie Group members put together a special treat for you this holiday season. We’re sharing some of our favourite recipes with you.

Enter your email to sign up for my newsletter and you’ll get the link to my recipes in your welcome email – my family recipe for gingerbread and the best brownies ever. If you’re already a subscriber, you’ll be getting your email this evening. Thank you for visiting this year! Have a great holiday season, and if you get a chance to try my recipes leave me a comment right here.

 

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Be sure that you collect the whole set of delicious recipes from these Zelie Group blogs.

Anni / Beautiful Camouflage
Kirby / Under Thy Roof
Ginny / Not So Formulaic
Brittany / Everyday Thoughts
Kerry / Fishbowl Fortune
Chiara / Catholic Pearl
Jessica / Pinot Noir and Prayers

{JEI} Hospitality with #thezeliegroup

 

At this time of year most of us are either enjoying the hospitality of others or hosting guests ourselves. It’s hard, as a mother of littles, to keep the house in presentable condition from one moment to the next. Most of us have cleaning shortcuts to combat the mess when guests arrive unexpectedly. It’s such as innocent question, but so revealing. What do you do when company arrives unannounced? Umm…I get dressed?! I think this is a sneaky topic!
 

JEI Hospitality

image source kgorz at pixabay.com

 
The linkup will be open today and tomorrow, so please chime in with your answers to the questions in the comments or on your blog. Join us on Thursday for a new JEI (Just Enough Info) Link Up with The Zelie Group, a blogging collaboration.
 

1. What’s your go-to “someone’s coming over” recipe?

Pizza! If someone came over to eat unexpectedly I would order pizza. There’s a really good place at the end of block. Our favourite is Cheeseburger Pizza.

If I had time to cook something, it would be roast chicken with potatoes and roast asparagus.
 

2. You have 5 minutes to tidy before guests arrive. What are your tidying shortcuts?

  • Line up the shoes in the entrance and hang up the coats and sweaters. (Maybe they won’t come in!)
  • Pick up all the toys and throw them into bins. (It looks clean if they don’t look too hard!)
  • Wipe as many surfaces as I can and light a wax scent diffuser. If I have time, I try to actually have something roasting, or cookies baking when guests arrive because making delicious food is the perfect distraction and excuse for a messy house.

 

3. What sort of music sets the mood for the perfect gathering?

Soothing classical music is the best default music for a gathering. Though, you can’t go wrong with holiday music at Christmas time. Jazz is classy. For cozy, friendly get togethers try Christmas sung by Michael Bublé from Amazon US | CAN.
 

 

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