a thankful heart always searching...for chocolate!

This weekend we celebrated Miss Courtney's 20th birthday. I am amazed and so grateful for the Lord's continued benevolence and generosity when it comes to my daughters well being. She has surpassed everything the doctors told us when she was young. Because we live with such uncertainty of how long Our Lord will allow Courtney to remain with us, we celebrate the heck out of ANY milestone. This years was so exception.

so blessed to have spent 20 year loving and serving our special one

:: noticing God's glory
This morning as I was taking my daily walk I thought about my boys. Jerry and Jonathan have gone through as much as I have over these last 20 years. Jonathan bears so many things quietly. I remember once when he was about eight. His eardrum had burst while he was sleeping one night. He woke up crying and when I saw what had happened, I asked him how long his ear had been bothering him. "All week" he said. I asked why he had not told me before so we could go to the doctor. He said "Courtney's sick. She was having seizures. I didn't want you to worry about me too."

the upper church...just so beautiful and peaceful...

Oh my boy what you shoulder in your heart that your Mama will never know about. I was so thankful that this year all four of us could make the pilgrimage to the National Basilica in DC this weekend. How can you NOT notice God's glory in such a beautiful worship space. It gave us a chance to pray together as a family and for Jerry and I to pray in a special way for our son. A bear of a man who bares many trials with such dignity and humor...just like his Daddy.

:: listening to
While we wer at the Shrine, Miss Courtney decided that singing her way down the main aisle in the Upper Church would be a wonderful thing. Given that it is a HUGE space with vaulted ceilings that echo when you breathe. So you ca imagine that when my daughter opened her mouth to sing, we made quite the impression. As I was shushing her, a priest came out of the Blessed sacrament Chapel and I had visions of another stressful moment. But God was kind and when the priest saw my daughter being pushed by her daddy and hushed quietly by her Mama, he gave me two thumbs up and went back into the Chapel. What a GIFT!! Miss Courtney continues to sing throughout the rest of our time there and everyone was OK with it. THAT was a first and a definite gift to my girl on her special day. See...ALL are welcome!

:: clothing myself in
I am all about comfort these days so it was a maxi dress on saturday and comfy 3/4 length tunic and capri pants today. Simple, simple, simple is how we roll.

:: thinking and thinking
This will be the first September since my girl was one that we will not get on the school bus and go to school. I am slowly beginning to see the silver lining here and am beginning to compile a list of places we can go this fall. It is our favorite season of the year and I am looking forward to exploring Northern VA like never before.

:: giving thanks for
#1078 - #1096
* for a special day spent with just the four of us talking about how far we have come as individuals and a family never thinking we would have made it this far intact. God is so very good. 
* for my daughter who sings her way through the hardest of times
* for my son who has quietly and steadfastly loved his sister throughout her life, showing his love through service to her. He is the hands and feet that Christ calls all of us to be. 
* for my husband who shows me love on a daily basis. He is the keeper of my heart.
* for the equal love that Jerry has for BOTH of our children. He will never abandon them no matter what.
* for the church triumphant...may we continue to walk together as best we can proclaiming the good news. 
* for friends who BBQ and decide to share...yummo!
* for the women I have been praying with for 15 year now. I am blessed beyond measure by your faithful stewardship and kindness toward me and my family.
* in thanksgiving for John and the 50 years he has graced this planet. We are blessed to know you friend. 
* for his beautiful wife Therese who walks faithfully by his side, no matter what battle they may face. You are a woman of grace Therese. I am blessed to call you friend.
* for ice cream in sugar cones
* for rain on a warm summer Sunday
* for triple chocolate pecan cookies that I get to bake then share...
* for cold ice water after a long walk
* for patient call-center employees at the insurance company. Yes, i do know we have a complicated situation. Thanks for helping me straighten part of it out. 
* for ham and cheese, w/mustard on rye and a cols glass of milk
* homemade roasted tomatos soup and sourdough bread fresh from the oven
* for smiles and laughter from my Courtney...still my favorite sound in the world.
* in thanksgiving for all of you who pray everyday for my Courtney and our family. We walk with such strength because of you and your sacrifices in prayer. 

::pondering prayerfully
This morning I began a new bible study on-line. We are studying 1Peter and i am really excited. My bible skills are seriously laking and I was really looking to find an interactive study when I came across this website and the timing was perfect

So at 5:30 this morning I got up, walked then showered and read scripture. I will have a more concentrated prayer time this afternoon but I must say it feels good to start the day with the inspired Word of God. The memorizing part will be more challenging but I think I am up for it.

I find myself praying constantly about my vocation as mother and caregiver. I know this is where I am called to be at this time but there are some days when the challenge of it overwhlems me. So I turn to Our Lord and His Holy Mother to help me. One day at a time. One step at a time. I will get done what is necessary. 

:: creating by hand
There are napkins to be made and then it's time to start the holiday sewing. I also need to dig into the projects for Courtney and Jonathan's room makeovers. Lots of handwork to be done as well. Now to find the quiet time to accomplish it all. Patience is a virtue and I am desperately seeking some. Maybe I will find it next to the chocolate. 

:: in the kitchen
We always celebrate with food. So before heading down to the Shrine Daddy made a pile of bacon which I made into these lovely little pancakes. They were stupendously good. I LOVE celebrations. They make my tummy so very happy. Of course later in the day there was Chocolate Cake because everything is better with chocolate!!

After a weekend of celebrating, today will be a no sugar day followed by four more. This way I can enjoy next Sunday and whatever yummies come my way then. I am slowly but surely embracing my six day sugar fasts. It's not so bad when you have something to look forward to. So today there will soup and salad, maybe chicken for dinner. I am not sure yet...I'm still sipping my coffee. 

from one of the side chapel walls at the Shrine...such color and wonder.  

:: living the liturgy
Jerry has been going through the 33 Day Total Devotion to Our Lady by St Louis DeMonfort along with other participants in our parish, preparing for consecration on September 15, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows. I have been doing it with him even though I made mine three years ago and my feast day is December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. It is always interesting when we do spiritual exercises together. We know each other so well and are able to help guide the other in areas of weakness. It has strengthened our walk together as of late and I look forward to what's ahead. It's always sanctifying when spouse pray together. 

:: keeping house
Ahhh yes...this has been a total fail on my part. I used to be so on top of this chore but lately?? Well...not so much. I am feeling the need to re-do my homemaking chore schedule into something a bit more realistic as well as simplify my menus to allow more time for sewing and other homemaking pursuits. I feel a Taco Night coming on once a week. This will be done over the course of the week. I hope. 

YES!! There was chocolate cake!! So good!!
:: planning the week ahead
There are doctors appointments and PT this week. There is also much to do around the house. My plan is to rise early every morning and take advantage of the quiet to get things done. Once I have my new housecleaning schedule done I will start re-doing my notebook. I always feel better when I have those organizational tools in place. The it will be menu time. Yep...lot's to do...breathe in...breathe out...breathe in...

:: loving the moments
::When my husband reads to Courtney and she talks back trying to tell him to go faster. "Fox on Socks" is pretty funny when read fast. 

::When my son does an impression of his father and knocks it out of the park. It's scary how alike they are. Even Jerry laughs. 

::When I get snuggle time on the couch with my girl. One day she will be gone and I want ot make sure I took every moment possible to love her. 

:: Miss Courtney's World
The photo below was taken on saturday at the Shrine. Jerry did not know I was taking it. I had been praying a few rows behind them ( in the Chapel of Our Lady of Lourdes) when I saw him put his arm around Miss Courtney and bow his head. I quietly took out my camera and snapped away. This is how I always see my husband and my daughter. Wrapped together, praying or reading. He loves her with all he has. She is such a precious blessing to him (and me). He was emotional that day which is unusual. Miss Courtney's health is so fragile as you know, so we take nothing for granted. I am so glad we got the opportunity to celebrate another birthday. If God so grants us another one, we will celebrate with just as much joy. If that is not in his plan, than we will still celebrate because our girl will be with Him, dancing and singing for an eternity. Oh what love we have in Jesus...may we continue to follow His plan for our girl and ourselves. God is good ALL the time. 

Please join Ann Voskamp @ A Holy Experience to celebrate the little gifts given each day by the ONE who loves us most!