Sunday, December 2, 2012

Project 31: Day 9

Journal~Day 9:
A) Began the tedious task of sewing the heart and star ornaments.

B) I've been receiving "Read the Catechism in A Year" emails (shhh... more often than not, I don't read them and just delete them unopened). This one caught my attention though and has been the center of much meditation for me:   (holistic, contemplation)
338 Nothing exists that does not owe its existence to God the Creator. The world began when God's word drew it out of nothingness; all existent beings, all of nature, and all human history are rooted in this primordial event, the very genesis by which the world was constituted and time begun.

339 Each creature possesses its own particular goodness and perfection. For each one of the works of the "six days" it is said: "and God saw that it was good." "By the very nature of creation, material being is endowed with its own stability, truth and excellence, its own order and laws." Each of the various creatures, willed in its own being, reflects in its own way a ray of God's infinite wisdom and goodness. Man must therefore respect the particular goodness of every creature, to avoid any disordered use of things which would be in contempt of the Creator and would bring disastrous consequences for human beings and their environment.

340 God wills the interdependence of creatures. The sun and the moon, the cedar and the little flower, the eagle and the sparrow: the spectacle of their countless diversities and inequalities tells us that no creature is self-sufficient. Creatures exist only in dependence on each other, to complete each other, in the service of each other.

341 The beauty of the universe: the order and harmony of the created world results from the diversity of beings and from the relationships which exist among them. Man discovers them progressively as the laws of nature. They call forth the admiration of scholars. the beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man's intellect and will.

344 There is a solidarity among all creatures arising from the fact that all have the same Creator and are all ordered to his glory: May you be praised, O Lord, in all your creatures, especially brother sun, by whom you give us light for the day; he is beautiful, radiating great splendour, and offering us a symbol of you, the Most High. . .

May you be praised, my Lord, for sister water, who is very useful and humble, precious and chaste.
May you be praised, my Lord, for
sister earth, our mother, who bears and feeds us, and produces the variety of fruits and dappled flowers and grasses. . .
Praise and bless my Lord, give thanks and serve him in all humility.
I like that....


Friday, November 30, 2012

Project 31: Journal Day 8

Journal~Day 8:

A) Esther responded back by email with raw milk link:  (buy local, whole foods)
Note: At our last Waldorf Meetup group, the other moms and I
were discussing unpasteurized milk and where to get it.
After our hike in the woods, we've been going back to Esther's farm house
and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate made with the raw milk she gets. Delicious!
B) Facebooked Mary about where she used to get her fresh milk, wanting a farm that came recommended and trusted.
  • They got theirs from Hedgebrook Farm- ; group share instead of private share, so would need to rotate pickup amongst 6 families :(  would prefer to responsible for my own milk. Celeste's milk pickup is the same way and I wasn't really interested in that model.
  • 1 gallon of milk a week
  • One time fee of $60 for share; one time fee of $20 for jars & lids; monthly boarding fee of $28. Money collected quarterly
  • Works out to be about $5.25/gallon (after the one time fees of course)
C) Made grilled ham and cheese sandwiches for lunch with the homemade bread I made on Day 6. There's a sense of pride in using/eating something you made yourself. I tell you, I was walking a little taller and feeling all puffed up, lol :) (healthy, homemade)
Note: Our day 6 bread making.
The 2 loaves on the left were made by scratch by my 9 year old daughter, Anna,
without ANY assistance. They're a honey wheat. Pretty awesome, huh?!
She's got more skills than I did at her age, that's for sure.
 The one on the one right was mine~ a simple wheat bread recipe
from Laural's Kitchen cookbook. Attempt one in making this bread.
***I felt so proud using MY homemade that I made myself. I was all puffed up**

    D) Began making heart and star Christmas ornaments from old fabric. (sewing, handmade, resourceful)
    Note: Fabric from my baby quilt and Kittens in a Basket.
     It's the fabric that keeps on giving :)
    E) Continued worked on Christy's wool felt baby booties, began embroidery designs.
    F) Husband brought home the beeswax and honey! (local, small business, organic)
    Note: One of the ladies at my husband's work has a little side business beekeeping:
    Lunsford Bee Farm. At our Waldrolf Group on Monday we will be making
     hand dipped beeswax candles!!


Project 31: Day 7

So I explained yesterday what Project 31 was. My year of reinventing my life towards a healthy, more conscious, self-sustaining, and holistic lifestyle. Working towards that end little by little, day by day, piece by piece. I not only want to learn the "how" of these things but also to know the "why". So it's a year of hands and head--and as with everything I strive for heart~contemplation, being present to God and to the moment. Out of all my endevours for this coming 31st year of life that will be the hardest, yet the one I most aspire and hope to attain.

Here's the page from my journal~ Day 7:

A) Continued work on Christy's wool felt Christmas booties. (objective: sewing skills, made by hand, resourceful)
Side Note: Started these on Day 5.
The wool was felt left over from an unfinished puppet my daughter was
making for one of our Waldorf Group activity days.
I am using Simplicty Pattern 2867 from my old stash of patterns.

B) Researched freezing vegetables such as potatoes so I can start reducing the amount of frozen veggies I buy in the frozen food section of the grocery store. (Unprocessed, healthy, whole foods)
  •  Site I visited: here
C) Learned about blanching vegetables, from the same site above, and the importance to the preserving process. (Learning to can/preserve foods)
  • Blanching (scalding vegetables in boiling water or steam for a short time) is a must for almost all vegetables to be frozen. It stops enzyme actions which can cause loss of flavor, color and texture. Blanching cleanses the surface of dirt and organisms, brightens the color and helps retard loss of vitamins. It also wilts or softens vegetables and makes them easier to pack.  Blanching time is crucial and varies with the vegetable and size. Underblanching stimulates the activity of enzymes and is worse than no blanching. Overblanching causes loss of flavor, color, vitamins and minerals. Use one gallon water per pound of prepared vegetables. Put the vegetable in a blanching basket and lower into vigorously boiling water. Place a lid on the blancher. The water should return to boiling within 1 minute, or you are using too much vegetable for the amount of boiling water. Start counting blanching time as soon as the water returns to a boil. Keep heat high for the time given in the directions for the vegetable you are freezing.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
~ T. S. Eliot

On November 23rd I celebrated my 31st birthday! And my blog turned 1. One year of blogging! Woohoo!  I know this because I began this blog as my 30th birthday present to myself. It was an experiment of sorts. I can't say it's been successful~but it wasn't success I was looking for. It was about taking a step out and doing something for myself. Putting myself out on a limb. Which is wonderful because it led to me beginning my little art business. Which, again, wasn't about success either. It was about gaining confidence in myself. Taking another step a bit further out on that limb. It gave me enough confidence to begin to socialize a bit (I've been a "desperate housewife" of sorts for years, living out a self-imposed ostracized life.) leading me to my group of prayer friends. These are people I could be totally me with. People who knew my past, who knew my struggles~no holding back, no posturing~ and still accepted me. Within  in this group, I met a good friend who lent me a helping hand in taking another step towards doula work~assisting with her in my first birth in the role of student doula. It was with this group of friends, Team McArthur was born, quenching my thirst for charity, my fourth vow~serving others around me with love. And from there sprung the branch of my art business called Art Charity. Being able to socialize once again, led me to local Meetup Groups such as Ten Moons' Birth Circle group, Warrenton Waldorf-Inspired Homeschooling group, and an Aware Parenting group~yes, more putting myself further out on the limb and meeting new people. And from here, let me tell you, the view is spectacular.

What an absolutely beautiful year it has been for me.

It has been my best year yet. Out so far on this branch of mine~from here I will either fall or fly. I think it will be the latter :) And besides with God at my side whom shall I fear, right??! I have high hopes for what year 31 holds in store for me. I coined what is now known as "Project 31". It is my list of goals I have set for myself this year. It mostly consists of 4 major categories:

A) Self-sustaining lifestyle/skills
B) Holistic: Head, Heart, Hands
C) Attitude of Gratitude
D) Contemplative (everything with God) ~but of course!

My subcategories are:
#1) Food: whole foods, healthy, unprocessed, lose excess weight (once and for all. Big prize if I do~my brother will go on a hike with me on my beloved Appalachian Trail come spring if I can lose 30 lbs in 6 mos. Already lost 5!! Only 25 more to go.)
         -buy local
         -buy organic
         -learn to grow
         -learn to can

#2) Conscious living: know where my food comes from, know where my clothing comes from, know where my products come from:
         -buy local
         -buy handmade
         -Make by hand

#3) Sewing skills, knitting skills, crochet skills, etc...

All this will be a progression~little by little over the course of the year; no do or die attitude, only a nice gentle flow towards change. I keep a little journal of skills I'm learning and/or have researched and objectives I accomplished that day.

Baking bread in the kitchen yesterday (see already working towards my goals ~objectives: unprocessed foods, made from scratch ;) with my daughter, Anna (9), who has a birthday herself in a couple of weeks as spurred her to do her own 'Project 10' and joining me in this journey!

And you may have noticed my new blog design. I figured with my blog turning 1, it needed a new look :) The picture is from the Appalachian Trail, a reminder and encourager of things to come... I've been doing more hikes with our little Waldorf homeschool group as well and am finding so much solace in the woods and nature, I thought I'd bring a piece of that to my blog. So raise up your glasses and lets say a cheers to a new year of life and a new year of blogging!!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Bustin' Out Week 1

I am working on my MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood Bustin' Out beginner level badge. 
This badge is incorporated into my Pictures of Produce Art Charity project. In addition to buying a different organic fruit or veggie from a local farmer--then drawing it--trying a new recipe with it-- blogging about all of it--selling the art on Etsy for a charitable cause--I GET TO EARN A BADGE DOING IT! Woohoo! That was the beauty behind Art Charity. It was a way to join everything I do: charity, artist, blogger, Farmgirl badges, community, service.
The requirements for this badge are:
  • Try a new organic food each week. Remember, it only takes 21 days to change your taste preferences. Here is your chance to encourage yourself to enjoy more fruits and vegetables.
  • Do this for one month.
You saw it coming--this week is turnips. Hand dug from the earth this past Saturday during our turnip gleaning experience.
                                                                         With my little stash of turnips I made a batch of mashed turnips. I am rather unfamiliar with turnips so a friend recommended this method. You treat them the same way you would potatoes. After they are mashed, add a bit of grated Parmesan cheese and a smidge of butter. Yum!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Martinmas Lanterns

We recently joined a new Meetup group called Waldorf at Home. For those who may be unfamiliar with Waldorf you can read a bit about it here. I'd say my family is more waldorf-inspired than "waldorf"-- there is a distinction between the two. I like it for the focus on rhythm, celebration, creativity, being holistic, and in tune with nature. But it can, and does, go far deeper than that. Our little group meets every Monday. At yesterday's Meetup we made lanterns in honor of Martinmas.

On November 11th, countries around the world will celebrate Martinmas, the holiday honoring St. Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier-turned monk. According to legend, St. Martin came upon a scantily clad beggar one night in the snow, and having nothing to offer, he took his sword and cut his cloak in half to share with the man. That night, St. Martin had a dream in which Christ was wearing half a cloak and said, “Here is Martin, the Roman soldier who is not baptized; he has clad me.” The next day, Martin ran to be baptized and became a Christian.
In European counties today, festivities range from children parading with paper lanterns behind a man dressed as St. Martin to families eating a feast featuring goose, but the heart of the story is selfless generosity.

Some of the kids colored and made paper lanterns while others wrapped wire around mason jars forming a handle then Modge Podged paper cutouts to the outside of it. In addition to lantern making we enjoyed a little bonfire in the fire pit, homemade soup and rolls, my daughter sang a little lantern song for everyone and the rest was just an afternoon of good running and playing with other kids and mother talk. Later that evening, back at home, the girls delighted in trying out their new candle lanterns! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Gleaning for Turnips

We gleaned for the first time this past Saturday! Turnip gleaning. This experience was almost allowed to slip by me. I wasn't going to attend. I was coming off of a lousy week. You know that kind that makes you feel like your putting out a tremendous amount of effort but very little gets accomplished. Day after day of feeling like your running in place draining all motivation and life from you. I was hoping to use my weekend with only a 'light load' of three kids to take care of business around the house and get some preplanning done for the upcoming week in hopes to make it better than the last one. However, the thought of getting my hands dirty on a farm sounded quite therapeutic after such a rough couple of days--to just forget everything, get some fresh air and get dirty. Heck, why not?! Besides, I'm trying to put together my Portraits of Produce series for Art Charity and I needed one of those turnips to model for my drawing. What better, more intimate way, to get to know my food source from the local farmers than to go out and pull it from the earth myself!
As an added bonus, one of these 10 lb bags of turnips was going to be donated to Adam McArthur and his family. The rest would be distributed to various food pantries, ministries, shelters, and needy families. Such a cause is worthy of a day off of housework and lesson planning!
Marker-Miller Farm Winchester, VA.

The turnip field and gleaning volunteers.

The largest turnip came in at over 5 lbs!

My 4 year old daughter, Olivia, had a blast picking turnips. I swear
she has some 'farmer' in her blood. She picked for close to 2 hours
never stopping, never complaining, having the time of her life!
The day was really geared towards children. There was a free lunch, contests,
and prizes. Olivia was even named Turnip Queen!

A beautiful sight! A mountain of 10 lb bags of turnips!
All mine!
And so it ended up being a  wonderful day! So much better than staying home for a 'catch up day'. It was a special day for my three youngest daughters, especially my Olivia. We've caught the gleaning bug! I hear there are apple, green bean, peaches, and potato gleanings in our area to name a few.
You'll be seeing these lovely ladies to the right again. This is my stash for art and cooking--hand picked! From the field, to the studio, to the kitchen they go :)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Art Charity

I've discovered a way to incorporate everything I do. Lay Missionary of Charity (service), St. Catherine's Apprentice (art), Spiritual Homesteading (blog), MaryJane Farmgirl Sisterhood (earning awesome merit badges), Team McArthur (charity and community). . . . all rolled into one makes Art Charity! Art Charity will be an extension of my art business, which I pursued for my MaryJane entrepreneur badge. I've written that my whole desire behind my business was never to be successful, but to put my art to service. Art Charity is the fruit that desire! My St. Catherine's Apprentice website and this blog will be the canvas to share this.

So those who read this blog already have already met Adam McArthur. He will be the first to receive these donations. But I'd like to expand this service beyond Team McArthur to other charitable causes. My own unique way of giving~using art to spread love!

So here's my blurb:
St. Catherine's Apprentice would like to present Art Charity!! All profits received from this series of drawings will go to charity. Each series will be inspired by and created specifically for a certain charitable cause. It’s art for a cause!

The first Recipient for Art Charity profits will be the McArthur Family! Adam McArthur is a husband and father of 3, diagnosed with brain cancer. His family is in need of donations to continue his cancer treatments and assist with their daily living expenses. You can read more about Adam on Healer in Your Heart and on the Team McArthur Facebook page set up to raise awareness for his condition and support for the family.

An imperative component of Adam’s cancer treatment is his food. He is on a strict gluten-free, sugar-free, vegetarian diet.  Therefore this series will be called Portraits of Produce: the McArthur Collection. Raising awareness for Adam, brain cancer, natural cancer treatment options, organic foods and local farmers, this collection will include a weekly drawing inspired by locally grown, organic produce item purchased from area farmer markets.  Each “portrait” of a fruit or veggie will be coupled with a tasty recipe and farm highlights.

It's going to be exciting! God willing, this will only be a precurser to a larger project I have in store called Saints and Veggies.

Save a farm. Buy local.
Support Adam. Buy art J

Monday, October 29, 2012

Team McArthur Yard Sale Fundraiser

Follow that sign!! From the flea market to the yard sale. . .
Saturday Oct. 27, 2012

Luckily, the weather held out for us despite being cloudy and overcast the entire day. We had a steady flow of yard sale patrons for a majority of the time. We are so grateful to everyone who donated items or bought them, or like me, did BOTH! What?! There was some good stuff there. :) And when you're sitting there all day looking at these things, a few items are bound to catch your eye!

So what's next you ask? We are in the workings of a Chick-Fil-A Spirit Night with a tentative date of November 27th. Vanessa McArthur just launched the new web page Healer in Your Heart that raises awareness about Adam's condition and aids Team McArthur in our fundraising efforts. You can track us there or on the Team McArthur Facebook page.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

School + Camping = Scamping

Nature.  Fresh air.  The smell of acorns and dried leaves. These things were calling to my soul—as they always do when I’ve been away too long. Being in a spiritual funk for a week or so now, I felt my girls and I needed to do something a little different to mix it up a bit. Some serious schooling, cleaning, preparing for a house appraisal, and just being plain tired (a habitual state for me) had us caged up in the house for a while like gerbils. We needed to break out and get into the great outdoors.

Glamping, heard of it? It’s the idea of Glamour Camping—camping with style. It's a MaryJane Farmgirl term. Well my girls and I decide we would do our own variety of camping—“scamping” (school +camping). We would school outdoors. So we loaded up our schoolbooks, packed snacks, water bottles, a lunch and some of the other comfort items we felt we might need for an extended stay outside and away from the house, and drove up the road to a nearby park. Granted this park was only minutes from my house. However, for our first test run in scamping it was ideal just in case, God fobid, things should go awry---li.e. tantrums started flaring or we should have forgotten some vital item like diapers or baby wipes! We found a lodge towards the back of the park that was vacant. It had its own small playground, perfect for allowing the little ones to play while still allowing me to be close enough that I could work with my older girls.

We set up shop, preparing our food station and pulling out our school work.

I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out. You never do with 5 kids! Even the best made plans with the sincerest of intentions can be turned upside down when dealing with fickle, little people.

It was phenomenal!

It was a special experience that made memories for my girls. Anna and Cailin were tickled pink with the idea that they were doing their learning outside at the park. All I kept hearing from them was, “This is the best school day ever!!” We had relay races on the playground. We enjoyed our little picnic basket lunch. Watching the leaves "rain" down from the trees, we decided, was heavenly.

This is an experience we will definitely be repeating. We have ideas for perfecting our scamping skills--like making a "Packing List" of all the items one would need for a day of scamping so as not to forget anything and make these outings easier to prepare for. Perhaps, keep some handy "extra" educational tools and camping items in the car in a Scamping Emergency Supply Kit  (i.e. an extra supply of pencils, bottles of water, a diaper or two, etc...). Our scamping day held out a beautiful temperature for us but with the weather on the brink of turning uncomfortably cold we decided our scamping season might be cut short--we needed to fit in as many as we could while we could! Before our season is through our goal is to scamp on Sky Line Drive. We have a season pass and it is only a short distance from where we live. Our dream is to take our scamping supplies and hit up one of the numerous yet gorgeous picnic posts along the route. How awesome would that be?


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Team McArthur Flea Market Fundraiser

On Saturday October 20, 2012 Team McArthur set up two tables at a local flea market. Friends and church members donated an amazing number of items. A garage full, in fact, many of them brand new! It was a wonderful experience and we met some terrific people at the market with their own stories to share of loved ones who have battled or are battling cancer. We made an outstanding profit from this event!!! It will go a long ways to assisting the McArthurs with Adam's treatments. What didn't get sold at the flea market will have a second chance this coming Saturday in a follow up yard sale.
A couple of our "junior" volunteers.

One of our two tables. . .

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The story of Mother Teresa and Adam McArthur continued...

I've just completed a day of home school, picked up my oldest daughter from her school, cleaned up a mess of a house, the younger kids are tucked away for a few moments--I've got my hot country peach tea, I'm sitting down in front of my computer ready to continue telling you the story of Adam McArthur and Mother Teresa.

Alright. Where was I?

The prayer from India, that's right! Tracked it down today.

Almighty and powerful God, nothing is impossible to you.You worked so many miracles while walking on this sinful world. The blind received sight, the lame walked, the dead brought back to life. Listen to the prayers of this humble LMC group in union with our Blessed Mother Teresa and grant a speedy healing to Adam McArthur from brain cancer. We ask this through your mighty name. Amen.
That is one of the most beautiful prayers I have ever heard. It almost brought tears to my eyes.
I still didn't have a relic though. I still didn't know really where to look. I was having a heck of a time getting in touch with Sr. Clovis, the new Supior General of the convent, who ironically (again) was the very sister I drove around D.C. during my first Missionary of Charity visit years before. She had recently switched houses and was now the sister I needed to speak with that had the authority to make the decision on the relic.
Back on August 31st, Vanessa had posted to our online chat group that she was feeling drawn to a devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I had recommended she visit Monsignor John Esseff's web page called Building a Kingdom of Love: The Triumph of the Sacred Heart to see if she could glean some spiritual nuggets from it. You see, Msgr. Esseff was one of the two retreat directors when I attended my first and only LMC retreat a few years before. He is totally amazing. He's a priest of over 50 years, a former exorcist, a spiritual director and confessor of Mother Teresa, who met and is a spiritual child of Saint Padre Pio, who to this day is a retreat director to the Missionaries of Charity around the world. I could write an entire blog post about my experience at that LMC retreat years before, it made such an impression on me. I've been following him ever since. So anyways, her mention of the Sacred Heart made me recall Msgr. Esseff.
That one reply I made days before recommending the site was important but at the time an isolated incident. It was made before being given the mission to find a relic. I thought since his web page was proving to be a help for Vanessa I'd email him and ask for his prayers. In that same email I relayed the chain of events that had me now seeking a Mother Teresa relic. I asked if he'd join me in seeking her intercession and say a prayer or point me in the right direction in finding this relic--as I truly felt JUST finding a relic of hers would take a small miracle, it seemed so impossible of a task. That was on September 3rd.
September 4th, I received a reply email. He had prayed for Adam and had a second class relic he was willing to send to the McArthurs if I forwarded him their address! WHAT?! Had I done it? Was that small miracle taking place and my mission being fulfilled? All it took was one email? My heart was about to beat out of my chest. Of course I got the address to him ASAP.
September 5th, Monsignor mailed out the relic. September 5th. Mother's feast day! (Ironically?!)
I am pleased to report from Vanessa that Adam prays with that relic every day and sleeps with it under his pillow at night. I love that part! Seeing how he has brain cancer keeping that relic close to his head--under his pillow--where he needs the healing. I say that because whenever I pray for him and pray for Mother Teresa's healing of his tumors I envision her gently, lovingly, placing her two hands on Adam's hair and leaning in to kiss his head. A kiss of healing. A kiss of peace. A kiss of love.
I told you yesterday that I would conclude this story. But this story is yet to have an ending. It really has only begun a new chapter. And God is the only one who knows how it will end. I told Vanessa back on August 31st,  "I get this sense that something beautiful is happening here--you know like that supernatural kind of beautiful ♥."

"Something" beautiful is definitely happening.
Perhaps we will not receive our miracle in the form that we seek but I truly believe that miracle is not going untranspired. And besides, with all the prayers being sought for Adam from Mother Teresa, their souls are surely old friends by this point :)
I have stayed to my commitment to pray a continuous novena for Adam. I pray the Jesus is my All in All Novena. I just keep cycling through it--over and over again. You can read some exerts and recite it here.
In addition I pray the Prayer for Canonization:

Jesus, you made Blessed Teresa an inspiring example of firm faith and burning charity, an extraordinary witness to the way of spiritual childhood, and a great and esteemed teacher of the value and dignity of every human life. Grant that she may be venerated and imitated as one of the Church's canonized saints.
Hear the requests of all those who seek her intercession, especially the petition I now implore... (mention here the favour you wish to pray for).
May we follow her example in heeding Your cry of thirst from the Cross and joyfully loving You in the distressing disguise of the poorest of the poor, especially those most unloved and unwanted.
We ask this in Your name and through the intercession of Mary, Your Mother and the Mother of us all.

So, I'll keep you posted as to the new unfoldings with Team McArthur and any new revelations of the story of Adam McArthur and Mother Teresa. To be continued ;)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What I've been busy with and how Mother Teresa's involved...

Two posts in a row! Looks like I might be making a come back to the blogging world! I may not have been blogging this past month and a half but life certainly didn't stop being busy.

Aside from birthing babies with my first doula experience I've been busy with some charity work of sorts. So grab a cup of hot tea, sit back and settle in while I tell you story about Adam McArthur and Mother Teresa . . .

I'd like to introduce you to Adam McArthur.

This is Adam and his beautiful family: Vanessa, his wife, and his three boys. A few friends from church and I began a little informal "prayer group" where we meet, or try to at least, once a week in each other's homes and pray--and chit chat. Maybe a bit more chit chatting than praying, but it's all good, right, if it's all in the name of fellowship. Vanessa is a part of this group. Her husband was diagnosed with stage three brain cancer last year. She's a fellow blogger, as well, and has documented her families experience with this diagnosis on her blog Healer in Your Heart. It's been a heart breaking story--which is no story to them, it's their life--with ups and downs, steps forward and steps backwards. But mostly it's a story of inspiration--perseverance, faith, love, hope. Listen to Adam recount this past year in this interview, and then I'll tell you how Mother Teresa entered this story:

Healer in Your Heart: The McArthur Family and Brain Cancer 10/13 by The Warrior Catholic | Blog Talk Radio

Amazing, isn't he. What character! What faith! (What an accent too? Did I mention he was English?!)

Of course our little group of prayer friends has kept Adam in our constant prayers over this time, but after Adam's first cancer treatment failed, we went from prayer to action. Team McArthur was formed. We have a Facebook page here, that I ask you take a look at--perhaps "like" it if you feel so inclined--to show support, keep abreast of our fundraising endeavours and receive updates on Adam. To date we've held a "Donut Sunday", selling donuts after mass at church one Sunday, run a SweetFrog's Frozen Yogurt fundraising event, and are currently putting together a flea market and yard sale event coming up this Saturday October 20th.

Above are a couple photos of a few of us Team McArthur members and Vanessa. Notice the pink sign in top photo? That was one of my contributions to the event :)  Team McArthur was even interviewed by our local news station!! Watch here. Read here.

So where's Mother Teresa in all this you say?! Well while attending my Lay Missionary of Charity meeting last month I asked my groups' prayers for Adam and his family. It was the end of the meeting, another member had asked for prayer for an acquaintance of hers, and now everyone was beginning to pack up their things. I almost hesitated to add my prayer request at this time thinking maybe I should just let it go until next time, not wanting to bother anyone with my interruption. But then I thought, "Well, I owe it to Adam and Vanessa to ask for a few more prayers for them." Adam had just received the news that the first treatment had failed and the tumors had grown back. They needed all the prayer they could get. So, I blurted out one last request before closing. Perhaps, it was meant to be?! That one prayer request turned into a mission. Fr. McAfee looked at me in all seriousness and instructed me that I needed to get a first or second class relic of Mother Teresa out to Adam and I was to seek her intercession for him. Mother Teresa is beautified and needs one more miracle to receive canonization to become a saint. We were to pray to Mother Teresa for Adam's healing.  My request went from seeking prayer to seeking a miracle! I was way out of my league (gulp). How was I--a no one of importance, totally unworthy, have-you-seen-my-list-of-past-sins-?, homemaking, mama of six--supposed to get my hands on a relic of Mother Teresa???? 'Maybe I should have kept my mouth shut' crossed my mind for an instant. But no. I was going to try my hardest to fulfill this mission I was given.

To merely get my hands on a relic was going to take a small miracle. Where do I even start to look for one? How do you go about a task like this? One of my beautiful, fellow LMC members, Mary Ann, gave me a call with some helpful information. I was to start by calling the Missionaries of Charity in D.C. to see if they would be willing to bring out their first class relic to Adam, if they wouldn't be willing to relinquish it to the custody of one of us Lay Missionary of Charity. So I tried calling. I failed at reaching the sisters but was successful in getting Adam's name put on their prayer list--so at least the sisters would be praying for him in the meanwhile as I was tracking down this relic. *By the way, ANYONE can call one of the Missionary of Charity Houses and have a prayer request made. If any of you ever have a prayer request please call them!*

The mixed up timing of this was ironically perfect. I received my relic commission from Fr. McAfee on September 1st. I did my 3-4am adoration on Sunday, September 2nd, I was planning on beginning a continuous novena to Mother Teresa at my session on my own accord. Later that morning I received an email from my LMC Link stating ALL LMC's were to begin a Novena to Mother Teresa in preparation for her feast. Perfect, I thought! Only I didn't realize until later that that email was from a few days prior, somewhere in the chain of emailing it got delayed. My novena wasn't going to end on Mother's feast day on September 5th, mine would end on September 10th--Mother's Inspiration Day! This was the day she received her vision of Christ thirsting on the cross and got her inspiration for the Missionaries of Charity. Hmmm... interesting...

Mother Teresa used to say, "Let's storm the heavens with prayers". In this spirit I sought out prayers from a fellow LMC in India. When Adam mentions in his interview receiving prayers from India, this is who he speaks of. Here is the prayer this LMC sent in reply:
   ummmm...well I can't seem to locate the prayer at the moment *sigh*
 It was so beautiful. So perfect. Where did I put it??
      Let me track that down for you, it has to be shared....

Maybe this is a good place to stop. I'll leave you hanging on as to how I came about getting the relic. Stay tuned tomorrow for the conclusion of this story ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

My First Doula Birth

I haven't posted in some time. For one, life has been crazy busy--it needed to be simplified while I got my grasps on it again.  Blogging was one of those things I felt could go...

But I had to stop by and share that I assisted with my first birth as a doula-in-traing this past Friday October 12, 2012!! A good friend of my mine, also a doula, allowed me to shadow during the prenatals and birth. IT WAS AMAZING! This mother was AMAZING! It was her first birth and she handled it like a champ. I am still in awe of her. Mom chose to have her baby at a gorgeous birth facility. It was a serene water birth. The facility trains midwives, so Mama had the 2 main midwives, 4 student midwives, 2 doulas, her mom and husband present. Each one the midwives, and of course us two doulas, were there being supportive, saying words of support and encouragement, utilizing pain relief methods and contraction couching. It was like watching a bunch of birth muses flocked around a birthing Mama oozing with genuine love and support, totally awesome to witness!  At 2:44pm beautiful, baby girl, Colette, arrived at 8.12lbs and 21 inches long.

I am so blessed and grateful to the Mom and Dad for allowing to be a part of this intimate moment in their lives. And a big thanks to my friend for providing me with the opportunity and experience.

Welcome to the world baby girl!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Spirit of Service: Passing on Old Clothes

One of the Works of Mercy is to clothe the naked. A very simple way of sharing the love is by donating. We donate our old, unused, or unwanted clothing and household items. It's not a big thing, but as St. Therese of Lisieux and Mother Teresa say,
 "Do small things with great love."

A way to stretch our family's money, aside from shopping sales and scouting the clearance racks at department stores, is by frequenting our local thrift stores. Just about all my maternity wardrobe from this last pregnancy was purchased from them. We've also been very blessed to have a number of friends pass around their daughters old clothes to us. Not to mention donating, buying used, and passing around clothing and other items is a superb, easy, green way of helping the environment through reusing.

I am in the process of doing some house cleaning and organizing. This stash of clothing is headed today for CCAP, a local needs assistance center that gives out clothes without charge to those who need them.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Spirit of Obedience: What I'm Reading (from the doula book list!))

For the Childbirth International doula certification, you must read 3 books. I have begun reading my first book choice, Heart and Hands: A Midwife's Guide to Pregnancy and Birth by Elizabeth Davis.

I purchased this book a few months back when I was dying to read it but my local library didn't have it. I was delighted when I came across it on the reading list. Now I don't have to feel quite as guilty for buying my own copy since it benefits my doula endeavours ;)

**A little side note, only 3 more days until I shadow my first prenatal doula meeting. Wish me luck!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Staycation Day 3 ~ Skyline Drive

Our third day of staycationing was spent at the beautiful Skyline Drive. It's one of my family's favorite places to visit and come here frequently. It has some spectacular views!

I love, love, LOVE the Appalachian Trail. A portion of it runs through the Blue Ridge Mountains in the Shenandoah National Park.

I've always said, in another life time if I couldn't be a Trappist monk then I'd walk the entire length of the Appalachian Trail. I touched that dream briefly, when my family got out of the car and walked a very short portion of it (lots of small kids make for short hikes!).  Here's the sign of the trail!

Here I am touching my beloved trail :) Sorry, I have a bit of a sense of humor and we were having a good time! AT love <3

Anything for the trail.

We ate lunch at one the many picnic sites and took loads of pictures throughout the day, too many to bore you with here. We had a fantastic day and wonderful time together as a family out in nature. Another one of the Goad family's special days to remember always.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Spirit of Service: Prayer Intention Board

 "I entrust to your infinite mercy, O Lord, those who have asked for my prayer, those for whom I have promised to prayer, and those for whom I should pray."
 ~Excerpt from LMC Morning Offering Prayer

Prayer is a part of my life as an LMC.

I love souls and I love praying for souls. It's a spiritual work of mercy, in fact. One way to assist the poor is through the service of prayer.

There are so many people in need of prayer. The list is forever getting longer and my heart and prayer goes out to each and every one of them.

One thing my family has begun to do recently is to create a Prayer Intention Board. It's simply a cork board dedicated only for people we're praying for. In this way we can keep them in our hearts and minds, being reminded of them each time we look at the board.

When the time affords me, I'd like to glam it up; maybe decorate the trim or something. Right now our intentions are written on a sticky note pinned to the board, but I'd like to create heart or angel shaped cut outs to give it a little special touch.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Spirit of Obedience: I'm a Doula-In-Training!

I took the first step!

I registered with Childbirth International to train and certify as a birth doula. I'm now officially a doula-in-training :)

To add a cherry on top of this wonderful news a dear friend of mine, who is herself a doula and childbirth educator, has offered to allow me to shadow her! A client of hers has agreed to allow me to observe and train during her pregnancy. Baby is due in October and the mother is planning a birth center delivery. How exciting and beautiful. Many prayers for this new little family. I am thrilled as I start on this new journey of service~assisting mothers and babies!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Spirit of Poverty: Birthday Crown FINALLY

Last year I began making a Waldorf-style birthday crown for my daughter, Julia-Ann, for her first birthday. I designed it, bought all the materials, sewed on the designs. . . pretty much the only thing left to do was to sew on the elastic portion of it.

. . .and then I got pregnant.

When I am pregnant, in the "morning sickness" phase of the pregnancy, I get some really strange quirks I'd suppose you'd call them. Instead of getting physically sick I get a very 'gross' feeling. The best way I've been able to describe it is as being green under the gills, but even that doesn't do the feeling I get during early pregnancy justice. It's not like a 'I'm going to get sick' or 'I'm nauseous' feeling, just a very icky, gross feeling. And it's not so much foods or smells, per se, that make me sick as it is visual and tactile stimuli. Pretty much I develop an aversion to anything I  was doing or interested in at the on set of my pregnancy.

For example, sweaters. It was winter when I became pregnant with my 5th daughter. I was out shopping, looking in the clothing department and there were sweaters EVERYWHERE. I felt so nasty I had to leave that part of the store! At home, I had to pack away all my sweaters so I could no longer see them or touch them. . . .or really even think about them. It's silly, I know! I'm not sure where that came from or why I get like that. Warm, thick blankets have set off the same response. And with this last baby I had what I term "pregnancy induced hair highlights". My natural hair color has gotten rather dark over the years. Never bothered me before, in fact, I kind of liked it. Oh no. While pregnant, looking in the mirror and seeing my dark hair made me sick. So sick, I went and got some highlights put in to lighten it up! Yeah, God left a screw loose in the "pregnancy department" when He made me.

So as I was saying this time last year I was making this really great Birthday Crown. I had found some natural wool felt at the craft store. I loved the stuff! I thought I was so lucky to stumble upon it. And I was making progress in the sewing department, only a little to go. No doubt in my mind, I was going to have the crown finished in time for her very special first birthday.

Well after getting pregnant and entering that morning sickness phase I could no longer stand to touch the wool felt. Or look at it. I tried to pick it back up and finish it--push past the ickiness--but I couldn't stomach the feeling. I had to resign myself to the notion it wasn't going to get done, despite what little I had left to do. It was tucked away.

Now that her 2nd birthday is rolling up on August 16th, it was time to complete it. I hate an unfinished craft. It makes me leery of starting another one. It' sits in the back of my mind, haunting me. Well, I'm happy to say I can scratch this one off my list!

So finally, at last, the year long Birthday Crown~~

The instructions for the Wool Felt Birthday Crown can be found on the blog Frontier Dreams by clicking here.

Sunflowers and butterflies symbolizing her bithday season, summer, with her intials.

Her Guardian Angel.

Fireflies, again, a summer symbol.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Spirit of Chastity: 10 Year Anniversay Surprise

10 years.

That is how long my husband and I have been married already.
Amazing how fast the years can go!

I'm planning a little something special for him on our upcoming anniversary on August 26th.

I have done lots of commissions and drawn a number of portraits of other people's kids.
And while I've done a couple pictures of our daughters as infants, I have yet to do a portrait with all of them together. He's mentioned in the past that he'd like one to put up on our wall.

That is my gift to him!

With summer staycationing, beginning a new year of homeschooling, and, well, just life in general with 6 kids, I wasn't able to start my portrait in time to have it completed by the day of our anniversary.
But it's the thought that counts.

And the old saying goes:
You can't rush a masterpiece!

So stay tuned. . .when I'm done I'll share the finished product :)

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Staycation Day 2 ~ Visiting Civil War Battlefield Sites

The area we live in holds a lot of Civil War history. One of my family's growing interests is the war and the history that took place right here in our own backyard, so to speak. After all these years of living here it was only recently, on our second day of staycationing, that we got around to checking some the sites out. 

The Opequon Presbyterian Church, original structure circa 1736
Read it's history here.

The church's cemetery.
Having a passion for praying for souls, I took a moment to pray for the souls resting here.

The Kernstown Battles.
Info here.

One of the Kernstown battlefields.
It is mind boggling to imagine the battles actually taking place on this very field
 and men losing their lives.
You bet, I prayed for their soul too.

We tried to visit the historic Pritchard House across the way. Sadly we visited on a weekday and they are only open on weekends. More on them here. Supposedly they have a great self-guided field tour you can walk.
They have a gift shop, too, which I was looking forward to visiting.
 We'll have to save that for another time.

We stopped at some other roadside markers.

Packed with a cooler of water bottles and basket of snacks, we were good to go!

We stopped at a beautiful park spotted along the way.
We ate lunch, played with bubbles, and the kids stretched their legs on the playground equipment.
 It was short lived, however.
A summer thunderstorm rolled up on us quickly, sending us packing and running to the car.

We had a great time together as a family and learned a little something too.
That will go down in the book as another special day!!!