Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Christmas Shoeboxes

One of my favorite charitable organizations to participate in during the Christmas season is Operation Christmas Child.

This week is Collection Week so we headed to Target first thing this morning to find some treasures to fill our shoe boxes with. After building it up and talking about it with my boys for a couple weeks now, I was honestly just as excited as they were to shop!

We filled two boxes this year: one "Girl" box and one "Boy" box, both for ages 2-4. I find that having my three year old pick out gifts for a child of the same age as him is a great opportunity for him to learn and practice the virtue of charity.

Once all of our shopping was completed and we returned home, we made cards to enclose in each box. Then it was time for the very best part of all: figuring out the best way to fit all those goodies inside!

After we were all finished, I showed the boys the video on the Samaritan's Purse website of the kids receiving their boxes in previous years. I didn't make it through fifteen seconds before the tears began to fall!

I remember, growing up, how much I looked forward to getting to pick a child's name off the Giving Tree at church every Advent. My mom would always make a point to mention those children in the midst of all the craziness of Christmas morning. She would have us picture how excited they must be to open the gifts we gave them and help us to realize that those gifts may be the only ones they would receive that year.

Hopefully this activity will instill the same thoughtfulness, generosity, and charity in my boys.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My First Pie

In August my "little" sister celebrated her 22nd birthday. Instead of cake, she requested a pie for dessert. 

Her favorite pie flavors are Strawberry Rhubarb and Peach. Since blueberries and peaches were both at the peak of their season, I decided to be a little original and go with a Blueberry-Peach Pie. 

The whole process was a LOT easier than I had expected. My sister-in-law happened to be over the morning of so with her and the boys in the backyard, I was able to devote my entire kitchen to the grand event, classical music and all. 

I cannot even begin to describe the smell... Tortuously delicious!

I was very happy with the result. And, more importantly, so was my sister.

Next challenge: Apple Pie. A neighboring town hosts an Apple Pie Contest at their Annual Harvest Festival so I told my husband that my goal is to enter an Apple Pie next October... That gives me one year to practice and perfect.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

I Remember Mama: Her Voice

My mom had a beautiful voice. Whether singing or talking, her voice held a sweet musical quality that was comforting to listen to.

"Let your speech at all times be gracious..." Colossians 4:6

In college, she was a member of The Chorale. It is there that she learned to train her voice. While she would not have made a spectacular soloist, as a loud, clear alto, her voice was perfect for a choir setting.

Growing up, I can remember her singing songs from her Chorale days. For a while, there were many songs that I had only ever heard the alto harmony version of! One example is A Wonderful Day Like Today.

My mom's love for singing carried through to her spiritual life, singing praise and worship songs as she went about her daily tasks. It wasn't until I was older that I realized not all moms sing Christian songs as they fold laundry. As a little girl, I often watched my mom stop whatever chore she was working on in order to close her eyes and lift her hands in praise: no accompanying music required.

At Mass, my mom was that woman who, without realizing it, competed with the lector leading the songs. Many a family would turn around afterwards and compliment my mom for her beautiful voice. And while such compliments may give some a little ego boost, it didn't even phase my mom: the way she saw it, her voice was just a gift from God that she in turn was giving back to him in praise.

"Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving and give him praise; Let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise." Psalm 95: 1-2

All this is not to say that my mom could hit every note perfectly... There may have been a few songs that gave my sisters and I reasons to tease her, especially since one of her favorite singers was Sandi Patti. ;)

Synonymous with her nature, even my mom's speaking voice was gentle and soothing. As a teacher and mother she most certainly had her assertive, no-nonsense voice when necessary but even then it never strayed from it's calm, collected beauty.

I believe it had something to do with the fact that, for the most part, she simply did not speak if her words did not have a positive purpose. She never gossiped and nary a complaint left her mouth, even during the two years that she endured chemotherapy.

"She opened her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness." Proverbs 31:26

note: My mom passed away in October of 2013 at the age of 55 after a two year battle with breast cancer.