It is in the quiet crucible of your personal, private sufferings
that your noblest dreams are born and
God’s greatest gifts are given
in compensation for what you’ve been through.
I get up every morning around 5 o’clock and I sit with my coffee on the couch and wait for the light to appear through this window. It’s one of my favorite things about our 1919 arts and crafts bungalow where we have lived since December 2004. The wavy glass panes are especially sweet. They are original to the house and full of wonderful imperfections. I cherish them, as I cherish these dark mornings before God fully draws open the curtains on another day.
Can I just tell you it’s been an amazing and miserable two weeks for our family? The amazing part is that we recently welcomed our first grandchild. On November 28, my daughter Juliette gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. Her first name is Willow and her middle name is Martin. Juliette named her after my late mother, Barbara Martin Elliott, who went to be with Jesus this past Christmas Eve. (I miss you so much, Mom.) I am so thrilled to be a grandmother. I’m a Grandma Jennifer!
The miserable part of the last two weeks is that I’ve not been able to see Baby Willow (Princess Awesome) very much as we have all battled pneumonia and the flu. My 11-year-old daughter Bridgette was especially sick and lost about five pounds. That was not a fun trip the ER, but I’m so thankful for nurses and doctors and antibiotics.
We have all recovered now, more or less, and Willow is coming to see me tonight! Juliette and Justin are taking a much-needed fun break and going to see the Oklahoma City Thunder play. As for Willow and me, I have our date night all planned. First we’re going to have a tea party and then we’re going to finger-paint and then we’re going to play Barbies. 😉
Baby’s First Photo Shoot
I did a fashion photo shoot with little Willy yesterday. Strike that pose!
I love photo composition and taking pictures. I could have done far more with my life had I not feared success so much. It’s terrible the limits we put on ourselves. Truly, this is one of the enemy’s worst lies: That we are nothing special. God says just the opposite:
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” (Psalm 139: 13-16)
On Sunday mornings in my RCIA Class, we study the Word. Yesterday, the lesson was over the seven deadly sins (pride, avarice or greed, envy, wrath, lust, gluttony and sloth) as well as the seven virtues:
- Faith is belief in the right things
- Hope is taking a positive future view, that good will prevail
- Charity is concern for, and active helping of, others
- Fortitude is never giving up
- Justice is being fair and equitable with others
- Prudence is care of and moderation with money
- Temperance is moderation of needed things and abstinence from things which are not needed
Very soon, I will decide for sure whether or not I will join the Catholic Church during the Easter vigil. This has been such a long journey for me that began in 1972. There have been so many blessings along the way, especially recently. Three Catholics who are involved in my RCIA process are so full of the Holy Spirit, I marvel at the Light surrounding them. They are so virtuous, and it may sound completely silly, but I swear (not virtuous to swear), they have radiating halos.
The Prayer Radiating Christ
How did I get so blessed to even know these folks? They fill my days with hope. I have known thousands of Christians in my life, but only a handful who reflect the radiance of Christ. Here is a beautiful prayer Catholics pray:
Dear Jesus, help me to spread Your fragrance everywhere I go. Flood my soul with Your spirit and life. Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly that all my life may only be a radiance of Yours. Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with may feel Your presence in my soul. Let them look up and see no longer me but only Jesus! Stay with me and then I shall begin to shine as You shine, so to shine as to be a light to others.
The light, O Jesus, will be all from You; none of it will be mine: it will be You shining on others through me. Let me thus praise You in the way You love best: by shining on those around me. Let me preach You without preaching, not by words, but by my example, by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do. The evident fullness of the love my heart bears to You.”
British Jesuit Pray As You Go
I look forward to the end of the day when the kids are tucked in bed, and Robert and I finally have a chance to unwind together. Lately, we’ve been exploring new podcasts and we’ve found one that is destined to become part of our daily lives. It’s the British Jesuit Pray As You Go podcast, which is available on iTunes. You can learn more about it here.
Do you have a favorite podcast you can share with me? I’d love to hear all about it.
In The Quiet Crucible
Finally, my sister Rebecca is talented AND so gorgeous. Why is she not famous!? She painted that beautiful sign above, and sourced that amazing quote. She has 4,300 Facebook fans! Take notice, world. Today, is her birthday, and I want to wish her a super happy day! Will you say a prayer for blessings for her? She had a horrible car accident awhile back and we are all so glad she is still here with us. She will always, always, always be my beautiful teenage sister wearing shiny lip gloss and jersey dresses. She will always look 17 to me.
Here we are in 1975 before we were Grandmas.