Here we are – NYE of 2014! “Another year over, a new one just begun!” I’m linking up today with Dwija at House Unseen to review 12 photos from our 2014 here at Cajuntexasmom’s Chateau. Stroll with me as we remember the last year and toast to the new one!
January was quiet and unseasonably cold, with two ice storms and weather we don’t usually see here in the Gulf South. Naturally, since the skies threatened to snow, the kids had a few unexpected days off of school. St. Sebastian selected us (the saint chooses you!) as his family for our 3rd annual patron saint selection tradition. 2014 was the year I decided not to make new year’s resolutions, and instead to select a word that I would focus on for the year. My word was “Quiet.” I resolved to make quiet time for myself, and to be more mindful of noise in general, both literally and figuratively. The photo is from my first sewing project of the year, created during the kids’ naptime, while I savored the peace of the simple hum of the sewing machine. I’d say that largely, my year of “Quiet” was successful. The biggest change for this girl has been that I spend my drive time in silence now, praying the Rosary or just contemplating things, versus my lifelong habit of climbing into the car and firing up the radio. What a difference the silence makes for my mental well-being! (I still crank up the Elton John or Pat Green on occasion, though!)
As Lent approached and I searched for something to do to make my Lent more meaningful (other than fasting from Facebook), I joined a seasonal Schola choir at my parish. What an opportunity! I loved learning about chant notation, how to prayerfully sing in chant, and learned some traditional Lenten hymns in the beautiful language of the Church. This endeavor greatly deepened my Lenten journey, and I am looking forward to participating again in 2015.
March was the month that my 263 pound self decided that enough was enough. This is a screenshot of the first time I went walking/jogging. Such a slow pace, but I started as a couch potato. Since March, I’ve lost 35 pounds and counting. My pace is still slow, but I think 2015 will finally be the year of my first 5k.
This little gem was taken on Good Friday, as our tradition is to have homemade falafel in pita bread. It was a holy, quiet, and somber Good Friday. At midnight, our world was rocked by gunfire. Someone (we do not know whom, nor will we likely ever know) fired a semiautomatic weapon into our vehicles, parked in our driveway, just feet from the front bedroom window where three of our babies were asleep. All of Easter weekend was a blur, but God made Himself manifest in the loving care and solicitude of friends who opened their home to us, created some Easter magic for our kids, and comforted us with their love and prayer. My boss at work let me take all the time I needed to take care of car repairs, logistics, etc., and responded with compassion and empathy to what we were going through. While staying at my friend’s home, I came across a quote from St. John Paul II that set my rattled nerves at ease:
HAVE NO FEAR OF MOVING INTO THE UNKNOWN. SIMPLY STEP OUT FEARLESSLY KNOWING THAT I AM WITH YOU, THEREFORE NO HARM CAN BEFALL YOU; ALL IS VERY, VERY WELL. DO THIS IN COMPLETE FAITH AND CONFIDENCE. – ST. JOHN PAUL II
I was privileged to visit my parents in London for my brother’s Confirmation. I was humbled when he asked me to be his sponsor. Travelling overseas for the first time was of course incredibly memorable, and one of my favorite parts of the year. The week I spent there was magnificent. My parents enjoyed playing host, and willingly allowed themselves to be dragged all over London as we visited The Globe Theatre, Abbey Road, Woking (site of the aliens’ landing in “The War of the Worlds”), Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, the London Eye, the River Thames, numerous historic pubs and eateries, and attended Mass at Westminster Cathedral and enjoyed high tea at Harrod’s on Mother’s Day. What a wild, fun, and happy ride!
June brought with it my first in-person encounter with Scott Hahn, when he and Dr. Michael Barber and Dr. John Bergsma came to our parish for the Fullness of Truth conference (which, unbeknownst to me at the time, my dear friend Andrea‘s husband produced!) I especially loved hearing Dr. Bergsma, author of Bible Basics for Catholics: A New Picture of Salvation History, which is now my favorite book about Salvation History ever 🙂 Their talks drove home the need for my family to delve deeper, challenge ourselves spiritually, and become an active part of the New Evangelization. In response to this, and after prayerful discernment and encouragement from a dear friend, I began this blog. I’d been postponing its creation for over four years, but I finally stepped out in faith and began sharing my experiences as a working Catholic mom. I must say that in just six short months, this undertaking has ended up blessing me and our family in countless unforeseen ways! I only wish I’d have conquered my fear about four years ago. HA!
The Edel Gathering was one of those life-changing, positive experiences that you look back on as a “mountaintop experience” in your life. I shared my thoughts on this fabulous event here, which incidentally is the most-viewed post of the blog for 2014. I encourage you to attend in 2015 if you are able, and take some time to connect with your sister cathedral-builders.
August saw the beginning of our second-eldest’s school journey, as she began kindergarten and her older sister began second grade. At the end of the month, my sister and I took a road trip to Ave Maria, Florida, where she began her junior year of college. I love visiting that little town, a small Catholic Mayberry. It causes me physical pain when I have to leave, but the knowledge that she is receiving a great education and making lifelong friends is enough for my Mama-Bear heart to rest at ease.
This is a photo from “Muffins with Mom,” held on a Friday morning at a park near the girls’ school. As you can see, there was a deluge and I was pretty certain we were moments away from needing to build an ark. We were grateful this summer to not suffer from a drought here in Texas – summers like this are rare indeed.
With our Little Flowers Girls’ Club, we celebrated the Worldwide Eucharistic Holy Hour in October. Our family was blessed with the honor of Elizabeth being asked to crown the Blessed Mother during the Hour. We made her crown that morning, and I was so looking forward to witnessing it. Unfortunately, just moments before she went up to crown Mary, one of the Little Flowers shyly came to the end of the pew, nose bleeding profusely. I ran to the restroom to help her get cleaned up, and by the time I came back out, it was over. Though I was disappointed, I rested in the comfort of knowing my girl had spent that intimate moment with her Real Mother instead.
For the first time in a long time, we loaded up the kiddos and hopped in the car to travel for Thanksgiving. We spent a wonderful, cozy Thanksgiving with my family and enjoyed the time together. This is a snapshot of the traffic on the way there – “gee the traffic is terrific!”
This Advent and Christmastide has been full of small, meaningful blessings. As we celebrate the birth of Christ, it is only fitting to reflect on the beauty and joy that the Christ Child brings to our home. We are grateful for the love and blessings of 2014, and look forward to God’s plan for us in 2015!
May God bless each of you in the coming year, and may you always remember that He will not allow anything to happen to happen to you that isn’t to the benefit of your eternal salvation. As St. Pio once said – “Pray, Hope, and Don’t Worry!”