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The Annunciation: Echoes of Mary’s Fiat

April 8, 2013

Today the church celebrates the Annunciation. Typically this momentous conversation is remembered on March 25, nine months before we celebrate Jesus’ birth. The story is in the first chapter of Luke, verses 26-38.

After the angel Gabriel greeted Mary, he told her of the unbelievable plan God had in mind. First, a miraculous conception will occur, then the child “will be great” and “will be called Son of the Most High” and “the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father” and “of his kingdom there will be no end.” She must have been stunned to hear this. How could she, in her lowliness, be the person through which all these things could occur?

Despite what must have been an amazed fear of her future, she said yes to God’s plan for her and indeed for the salvation of us all through her Son, Jesus.

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Mary is declared by the Church to be the “most perfect embodiment” of obedience. God always respects our free will and Mary chose to obey – to trust in His plan. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us…

144 To obey (from the Latin ob-audire, to “hear or listen to”) in faith is to submit freely to the word that has been heard, because its truth is guaranteed by God, who is Truth itself.

I look to Mary as the example of how I, in my lowly human state, can accept the plan that God has for me. On contemplating the Annunciation, the specific circumstance of accepting the blessing of a child is the most direct connection between Mary & me. My children come into being in the normal way, but I still have to say “yes” to playing my part in the creation of new life. This is a challenge for many in the modern age because we have such a myriad of ways to say “no” combined with an inclination to avoid anything that causes discomfort or self-sacrifice. But we aren’t a people of comfort & ease. We’re called to share in Jesus’ life – both the suffering and the joy – and I would assert that being a parent will lead you to both ends of this spectrum.

Trusting His Plans

When we attended our pre-cana classes, we discussed the family we wanted to have someday, and “at least five” was the number we came up with. The key word, though, was “someday.” We were both still in college – he was in his first year of grad school while I was working full-time & going to school in the evenings – and the idea of having a baby seemed like a far-off goal; one that I wasn’t particularly anxious to attain. I was going to finish my fine arts degree & get a job at an architecture or design firm and spend other people’s money on beautiful interior furnishings. I would make a good salary along the way, as would my architect husband, and we’d live a stylish life in the city.

Nine months into our marriage, we were spiritually compelled to stop using birth control (in other words, I finally found out how Ortho-Tri-Cyclen worked, to my horror.) We began an NFP course and everything was swell. A mere 3 months later, we were surprised with two lines on a pregnancy test. We were both happy, having already had a change of heart & a greater (though still basic) understanding that our marriage vows were about more than romantic love & wanting to live together in a respectable way.

I couldn’t see it then, but in retrospect it’s very clear that we were on a path of self-indulgence and worldly pursuits that would have increased our pride and decreased our apparent need for God. Putting a child into our lives made an abrupt course change – one that we didn’t even realize we needed. By being open to God’s use of our marriage, He set us on a far better path.

In the years since, the addition of more children and the special needs that have arisen in that first blessing have continued to lead us. Speaking only for myself, I know that our children are often the tools by which my character is challenged & strengthened. My moments of weakness are obvious to me & lead me to ask for God’s help. I still have plenty of failings but what an even worse person I might have been, if not for my children.

What I have experienced in my life is enough to assure me that trusting in God’s plan is right and will lead to Good things. I have no idea what He has in store for us, but I don’t HAVE to know. He is faithful. It may not mean a life of material comfort and 24/7 happiness, but that path is wide – I want the narrow path to Heaven, whatever it may involve.

“As we pray this Angelus, may we join Mary in her “yes”, may we adhere trustingly to the beauty of God’s plan and to the providence that he has assigned to us in His grace. Then God’s love will also, as it were, take flesh in our lives, becoming ever more tangible. In all our cares we need have no fear. God is good.”

Pope Benedict XVI 9/27/11

Autism Awareness in 140×8

April 2, 2013

Today is World #Autism Day & in the US, April is Autism Awareness Month. My oldest has PDD-NOS, a moderate-level Autism Spectrum disorder.

— Katie Kolodzy (@KatieKolodzy) April 2, 2013

We noticed his “quirky” behavior by his 2nd birthday but I was deaf to the idea that it was a problem. This is VERY common for parents.

— Katie Kolodzy (@KatieKolodzy) April 2, 2013

It’s hard to see that a perfectly healthy child may not be developing normally, inside his mind. Once you see it, it’s still hard to accept.

— Katie Kolodzy (@KatieKolodzy) April 2, 2013

Lucas’ speech was delayed & his coordination was lacking. He was falling short of the “milestones” for his age. I knew we had to help him.

— Katie Kolodzy (@KatieKolodzy) April 2, 2013

I met some moms online & locally who also had kids they suspected might be on the Spectrum. I asked them for advice & they kindly helped.

— Katie Kolodzy (@KatieKolodzy) April 2, 2013

This is an open invitation for any of my followers who might suspect a problem but need guidance to help a child in their lives.

— Katie Kolodzy (@KatieKolodzy) April 2, 2013

Talk to me about your concerns & I’ll try to direct you to some helpful resources, either books, websites or local support groups.

— Katie Kolodzy (@KatieKolodzy) April 2, 2013

The earlier you begin to get special attention to help a child on the #Autism Spectrum, the better. Don’t wait!

— Katie Kolodzy (@KatieKolodzy) April 2, 2013

13Skills: Beekeeping

January 19, 2013

I spent my Saturday doing something rather atypical for a suburban housewife: I attended a beekeeping seminar in Atlanta. It was put on by the Metro Atlanta Beekeepers Association. I think they did a fantastic job. If you’re anywhere in north Georgia & interested in bees, I would highly recommend taking this class. There were about 110 attendees and everyone seemed to be lapping up the information being presented.

I took this class for my “13Skills” goals, which I discussed earlier this year. My beekeeping interest was two-fold. First, I wanted to acquire more knowledge on the topic of bees (their biology, life cycle, pollination methods, etc) and beekeeping (the process, timing throughout the year, and necessary equipment.) This course was perfect! Not only did I learn quite a lot, they also shared with us a wide variety of ways to continue learning. My secondary concern was deciding if beekeeping is something that’s right for us in our current situation. This is where the day turned a bit sour.

A few months ago, I did some preliminary research on state laws concerning bees & found this:

O.C.G.A. §1-3-3, apiary products are included in the definition of “agriculture”,
O.C.G.A. §2-1-6, relates to local ordinances and production of agricultural farm products,
O.C.G.A. §2-14-41.1, local governments cannot prohibit beekeeping, and
O.C.G.A. §41-1-7, commonly called the Georgia “Right To Farm Law”.

I thought to myself, “That’s great! Municipalities can’t prohibit beekeeping!” Well, I wasn’t thinking like a busybody/HOA-type nor a power-tripping county official! Silly me. In a county of 825K people, we have an abundance of both.

Some background: In my county, they limit the keeping of livestock to properties of 3 acres or more. I already knew this. It’s why we can’t have laying hens. It’s also why I went looking for alternative ways to use our 0.3 acre property to help sustain us instead of being a black hole of “investment.” But, back to the bees…

The president of the MABA mentioned during her presentation that my county includes bees in the category of livestock.

UHM, WUT?

Bees. As livestock. Are you bleeping kidding me?

-SIGH -

So, no bees for us. I hope someone who plans to live here long-term will work to change this, but that person is not me and this is not my hill to die on. Good luck being an ant among grasshoppers.

Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve learned how to help the bees that visit my gardens to be more successful in pollinating. Last fall, in fact, I spread two pounds of white clover seed into our grassy areas (gasp! Oh no I di’int!) in hopes of drawing more of the little ladies to us. If you want a successful garden, you need happy bees!

20130119-175008.jpg
#SWAG Awwwww yeah!

Get your own copy here: “First Lessons in Beekeeping

13 in Thirteen Skills Challenge

January 1, 2013

Happy New Year, friends! Among the talk of resolutions and breaking bad habits in the new year, I wanted to offer a possibly more positive & useful option: learning or improving upon 13 skills in 2013. This effort was begun by the community at The Survival Podcast and can be found on its own dedicated site 13 Skills.

I want to encourage you to always be increasing both your knowledge and your self-reliance. These things not only help equip you for the unexpected in life, but improve your daily quality of living and prepare you to be a help to other people in their time of need, which is our duty as Christians. There are, of course, innumerable reasons for being prepared – just ask a Boy Scout! – so I hope you will put aside your Doomsday Preppers ideas and realize that I’m neither preparing for the next end of the world countdown nor aiming to preserve only MY family. A community that can survive on its wits and its pantry for more than 24 hours is a community that can support one another during difficult times.

So please, take a look at that site & consider joining me there!

7QT December 21st: That guy that spins plates on sticks

December 21, 2012

That’s me this week as the clock runs down to Christmas. On my plates…

(1) My knitting was thwarted

I finished the body of a blanket for my grandpa’s Christmas gift but then discovered that the I-cord edge required a smaller (but still huge – US 17) size set of DPN’s. I went to my local craft store to find that they only carried this size in the circulars. I bought them, brought them home & decided that it wouldn’t work without an excessive amount of fiddling tight stitches from one end of the circ to the other. I took them back the next day. Instead, I ordered the slightly smaller but much easier to find size US 15 DPN’s from an Amazon store & they arrived yesterday. It’s close enough – I’ll just knit loosely! The blanket is not yet done.

(2) Let’s try something new

Because really, when it’s a week before Christmas, this is the time to try an entirely new craft skill to make gifts. That’s how I roll. This project cannot be unveiled yet, but suffice to say that I’m doing quite well with the skill thanks to some great YouTube videos. But these four items are not yet done.

(3) The big gift

We’re re-purposing the top section of a hutch I bought at the Salvation Army into a new plaything for all the kids. It could be a puppet show stage, it could be a Minnie’s Bowtique store, it could be a million things they want it to be, but first we have to start finish making it! We already tore off the doors & the pieces we don’t need, spackled the holes and sanded it. Yesterday I spray painted the primer layer but today it’s too cold to do any painting. I also need to buy some fabric for the “stage curtains” & sew those, but that’ll be a snap. This will definitely end up being our 11th hour project this year.

(4) Wrapping the gifts

BWAHAHAHAHA!!!

… Yeah, that’s not started yet…

(5) Christmas cards

I always send them. They always have Jesus on them. They include a little handwritten greeting & all our names. And this year, they’re still sitting in boxes on the counter – some signed, some not; none of them are addressed. I will probably push these off until after the holiday but everyone WILL receive them during the Christmas season!

(6) Visitors!

My parents are coming from Texas for a short visit and I’m not allowed to “make a fuss” over them. I would, however, like to maybe clean the bathrooms and get the laundry put away before they get here. I don’t think counts as fussing, but they’ll be here in 24 hours – Yay!!! and also Eeeek!!! – so I’ve got to finish this post & get moving!

(7) These people cannot wait for Advent to be done!

17C

Merry Christmas

Read more 7QT linked at Conversion Diary!

7 Quick Takes: December 14th

December 14, 2012

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

It’s a no-theme edition of 7QT this week, so let’s get started!

1

I’ve learned that my stomach does not like the Augmentin I’m taking for the sinus infection I developed last week. I’m popping Tums like I’m pregnant. Ooo, chalky! Ick!

2

Speaking of pregnancy, I just sold one of my favorite birth books via half.com and I’m very okay with that. It’s not that I’m necessarily “done” having babies – I’m only 32, you know – but after five completely natural births, I think I have enough birth stories of my own to motivate me through it again, should the need arise.

3

The baby is walking! Very timidly, I should add, but I’ve seen her take two or three unassisted steps a few times now. As soon as she realizes what she’s doing, she’s going to be unstoppable. A baby’s first year is full of developmental milestones & this is the last one! If I was as sappy as my husband, I’d be misty-eyed at the thought.

4

We had a birthday at our house this week: 2of5 turned 8 on Saturday! She was happy to receive one toy, two books, two drawing/activity books and SEVEN DRESSES. Yes, that’s what she wanted – dresses. I suppose it’s easy for her to make such a grown-up request since she knows Christmas is coming & there are sure to be more toys for her under the tree.

5

You won’t believe it, but I was at a party this week with ONLY adults! I even had a new lace dress and peep-toe heels to wear, and Hubs was in a tux! We were attending his office holiday party in Atlanta, which was quite a swanky affair. We’re so fancy sometimes. Okay, rarely. I felt completely out of place. My reputation as SuperMom precedes me, apparently. Hubs is ‘that guy with all the kids’ in his office and a few of his coworkers know that we homeschool, but those who don’t – and especially their wives – seem kind of stupefied when they find out I have all these kids AND I teach them myself. It’s awkward, really. File that under “Life is not a contest!”

6

I haven’t started my Christmas cards yet. The main reason is that I need a fancy pen to use & I haven’t gotten to a stationery store yet – tomorrow, perhaps. I think I’m going to grab two pens while I’m there because I feel that this year I should write out all the kids’ names and that’s going to be quite a long, inky affair for each card, in addition to a small note on the side.

7

Last weekend I spent about three hours braiding strings of purple, pink & white LED lights to bring you this: Our Advent tree! The lights each week correspond to the new candle of the week on the Advent wreath & on Christmas they’ll all be lit. (Hint: It’s really, extremely bright to have 9 strings of lights on a 6’ tree!) We’re going to hang the ornaments this weekend and add the angel topper on Christmas Eve.

tree

Read more Quick Takes at the blog home of tv’s newest reality family, Conversion Diary!

Christmas is not a race, so don’t jump the gun!

November 28, 2012

Let me be the voice of patience in a world that has been preparing for Santa’s big day for about four weeks already. Advent has not yet begun! We’re still in an “ordinary time” of the year, liturgically speaking. Although I have, of course, begun buying (& hiding) & making Christmas gifts and my greeting cards are sitting across the kitchen from me, just waiting for the signing marathon to begin, I’m making a deliberate attempt at not being in Advent mode outwardly until this Sunday. I want the change to be noticeable to the children – a clear sign that it’s NOW time to prepare for Jesus’ birth.

The lights for our porch are still in their tubs in the basement, right beside the purple & pink wreath I made a few years ago for the front door. Those will all be put up on Sunday afternoon.  I ordered a new (ahem, sturdier!) Advent wreath & candle set for our table, which should arrive tomorrow or Friday, ready for its inaugural use at dinnertime on Sunday. In the past I’ve been unsuccessful in finding a resource I like for the daily lighting of the candles, but this year I’m excited to use the new book “O Radiant Dawn” by Lisa Hendey. Meanwhile, the church is looking ordinary, but will be decorated on Saturday morning. They’ll hang the ginormous wreath on the wall of the sanctuary & light the first purple candle at the vigil Mass that evening.

The children will take note of all these big & sudden changes… right? Well, whether they do or not, I think it’s a good thing to show them that a new season has begun WHEN it actually has started, rather than a month ahead of time.

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