Monday, February 16, 2015

Lent 2015: Preparing Our Hearts

The season of Lent is upon us.  Are you ready?  I spent some time this weekend planning for our family practices during this season.  I hope this will be a good year for us as a family to institute some new, good family habits to help our home life center more closely on Christ.  At the same time, today, my heart grieves for the Christians murdered yesterday.  This Lent, I will be praying especially for the end to the violence in the Middle East.  Please join me. 

I'm planning to take the boys to our church's Ash Wednesday service.  M loves going to Church, and I think the application of ashes will help to demonstrate the change in the Church seasons for him.  Then we will come home and take down our Valentine's decorations and (hopefully) begin learning some new prayers and Christian songs.   

Personal Prayer Time:  I'm planning to get up 30 minutes early on a regular basis so I can return to a personal prayer time and devotional study each morning.  I'm planning on reading Scott Hahn's Signs of Life (it has 40 chapters, that aren't too long, so hopefully I can get through a chapter a day).
Prayer Chain: Over the weekend, I cut out 40 strips of paper and wrote the names of forty people/families/causes on each one.  I'll let M pick one each morning, and then we will pray for that person/family/cause that day, and turn the strips into a prayer chain of color to decorate our home for Easter.  I set out to do this last year, but didn't, and I can't really recall why it fell apart.  But I'm ready this year!

Fasting/Family Disciplines
My Individual Fasting: I will be observing the no meat fast.  I'm also going to give up soda (diet coke/coke zero), sweets and french fries.  My favorite food!  In light of recent events in our world, that seems rather trivial, but I will be trying to focus on increased prayer for persecuted Christians and peace in our world!  I'm also going to fast from iPad/random phone browsing during the day for me.  If I'm going to be internet-ing, it needs to be purposeful and not just random scrolling while I'm giving our sweet baby a bottle.
Family Practices: I asked my husband about trying out the "count to 40" before meals idea that I learned about from Kendra's blog at Catholic All Year.  He is on board, so we are going to try it this year!  I'm excited.  I'll also put out a bean jar, which hopefully will be filled with beans of good deeds, to be replaced with jelly beans on Easter.  M is only 2, but he is so observant, so I'm hoping these kinds of practices will plant seeds that will grow over the years.

I'm aiming to live more simply and donate any savings.  I'll be limiting what foods I buy to perishables as much as possible and eating out of the pantry and freezer.  I think I will also allow M to choose something from the pantry to donate to the food pantry each Friday.

I'm looking forward to challenging myself to a renewed focus on and closeness with Christ.  I want to listen, really listen to Him so that I can more closely follow His will for my life.  I hope that your Lent is full of God's blessings!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Friday Quick Takes: 7 Surprises about Living in Idaho

We've lived in Idaho for a little over 3 years now.  So I've had a little bit of time to think over some of the ways life out here has surprised me with its differences from our previous life on the East Coast.  Here are seven things that have surprised me about living in Idaho:
Finishing a stroller run with a hike in the woods.

1.  It is not as rural as you might think.  Right now we are living in a regular, ole neighborhood with sidewalks and playgrounds and running water and trash pick up and all that stuff.  My childhood home in northeast Florida is more rural than where I live now!  5 minutes from Target and 30 minutes from Nordstrom (woohoo!).  On the other hand, it doesn't take long to be out in the mountains with no cell reception, surrounded by nature.  Best of both worlds?!

Suburban life!

2.  The seasons are amazing.  I know I talk about weather so much that I am starting to sound like an old person, but seriously, the weather is fantastic.  We get all four seasons, without a crazy hot summer or a crazy cold North Dakota-style winter.  (So far.)  Half way through October, I was still wearing flip flops.  It's February, and I'm back in flip flops.  Take that, Boston! 
The view from Lookout Pass

3.  Idahoans love their motor sports.  We live close to four different downhill skiing spots, so I expected that there would be a lot of downhill and cross country skiing enthusiasts.  But I did not expect sports like snowmobiling and motor cross (i.e., the noisier outdoorsy sports!) to be so popular here.  Seems like everyone has a couple of snowmobiles or dirt bikes stashed in their garage!
Hiking in the National Forest - we saw more ATVs than hikers!

4.  Nobody is actually an Idaho native.  Well, I am only slightly exaggerating.  =)  It seems like even our friends who went to grade school here, weren't actually born here.  Which makes it a lot like Florida.  I mean, I'm from Florida, but then again, I'm really not. ;)

 5.  Lilly Pulitzer, smocked baby clothing and little Stride Rite shoes do not exist here.  Dorothy, we are not in the South anymore! Fashion (for adults too, not just kids!) is completely different in the inland northwest.  I'd love to do some more posts about Idaho fashion, since I love fashion, but I'm not very fashionable myself, so I'd certainly not be an expert!
Smocked bubble suit!

6.  No air conditioning.  There are brand new homes built here without air conditioning.  That seems so strange to me.  But there are plenty of people who seem not to mind?  My university dorm did not have air conditioning, but it was built a hundred years ago or something!
I just had to post another of his cute outfits. =)

7.  People are *passionate*.  For a small town, there are a lot of people who feel very strongly (and make their opinions known!) about a lot of different things - just take a look at the letters to the editor of our local paper! ;) 

And a bonus: People are really nice here.  During my first week here, my car died in the Lowe's parking lot.  As I was trying to crank it up, a man walked over, simply popped the hood, worked some magic and got it going for me!  I was so amazed by this random act of kindness and have met many other kind people here.

I'm sure I'll discover more surprises and I know there are others that I can't recall right now.  We feel fortunate to live in such a beautiful spot, just hate that it is so far from family.  Thank God for Southwest Airlines!

Have you been to Idaho?  Are you an Idahoan?  Any surprises about life where you live?

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