Michael surprised me with a present for Valentine's Day - the just-released-on-DVD movie Fireproof. We had a stay-at-home date that night and watched it together, just the two of us. If you didn't get a chance to see it in theaters last fall I highly recommend you get the DVD. We both thought it was awesome.
Fireproof tells the story of a couple in a troubled marriage, right on the brink of divorce. Indeed it was troubling just to watch the opening scenes, so grave was the fighting between the spouses. This young, attractive, professional couple, Caleb and Catherine, can't seem to say two words to each other without anger, accusations and animosity. Caleb has problems with rage, problems with porn, and Catherine clearly can't take it anymore and declares she wants out. But when Caleb shares this news with his father, he is met with a challenge instead of mere acceptance. Caleb's father suggests he give the marriage forty more days, and promises to send Caleb something in the mail to guide him in this final attempt to save the marriage.
What follows is an amazing journey into the meaning of unconditional love. Oh, we use that term all the time in modern parlance regarding relationships and we think we know what it means. But what Caleb undertakes, and his perseverance, is truly extraordinary. Caleb's father sends him a hand written book called The Love Dare, consisting of forty days of suggested sacrifices to do for his wife, along with Scripture to meditate on each day. Having no interest in that religious Christian stuff, Caleb naturally skips the Bible verse part, thinking it a superfluous waste of time. He agrees to follow along with the dare, apparently to please his father and seemingly to defend himself in a See, I did everything I could sort of way. His half hearted attempts arouse Catherine's curiosity, but she is already letting her heart slip away to someone else's affections, someone smart and handsome and who knows how to push all the right charm buttons to make her feel cared for and 'understood'.
Frustrated by his defeat and eventually heartbroken by his rejection, Caleb is ready to quit and needs his father's help to persevere. And it is at this point when Caleb has hit rock bottom that his father is able to show him his need for his Father.
Caleb accepts. The beautiful thing about this moment is that we know it occurs but it is kept private. We are never exposed to those inner workings within another man's heart that bring him to acknowledge the existence of his Creator and his need for a Redeemer, and we don't hear the words his heart brings forth when it does. We do know that Caleb begins to pray, and although we don't know his words we see the fruit of the change brought about in his heart. He begins to truly love and care for his wife with a servant's heart. It's not an instantaneous change and we see him continue to struggle, but he makes sure and steady progress as he sets out on this new path of New Life.
I don't think it's a 'spoiler' to say the marriage is saved - that's the obvious plot and point of the whole movie. But the story unfolds in a truly beautiful fashion, and yet there are plot twists and diversions that keep the viewer completely engaged in a full spectrum of human emotions. And there is a goodly amount of comic relief to keep it all bearable. Michael and I both thoroughly enjoyed this movie and we think it is fantastic that it is doing so well and is readily available to the public.
Responding to the Critics
I have read a number of reviews of this movie and I've been surprised by some of the criticism, particularly from people of faith; I read an article on CNN that was more positive than the review on Christianity Today. I've also seen various uniquely 'Catholic' complaints, such as the couple being married for seven years yet have no children. The issue is never mentioned in the movie, so we don't know if it's the result of infertility or the couple's own doing. It is quite possible and even likely that if Caleb and Catherine had welcomed children from the outset of their marriage that they would never have degenerated into the self-absorbed, self-serving, selfish people that they are at the start of the movie. But this film isn't about what they should have done or could have been; it's about how to salvage a relationship that is about to be dissolved now. My husband also noted that for the sake of the storyline it's good that the couple had no children, so there was no notion of 'staying together for the children's sake'. Caleb saw the marriage as worth saving on its own account, thus keeping the story applicable for even those couples who haven't been blessed by children in their own marriages. As the story unfolds the value and beauty of marriage is increasingly understood by the characters, and it seems likely that they would continue to grow out of their selfishness and welcome children in the future.
I've also read complaints that the movie is too one-sided, but that is exactly what makes the film and the 'Love Dare' so powerful. It's not about two spouses sitting down with a counselor and deciding to save their marriage together, and that's why it can give hope to so many. It shows that a marriage can be saved just with one person deciding to change, and that true sacrificial love can change another person's heart. It portrays the kind of unconditional love that we can only achieve with God's help - the kind of love that enabled Corrie ten Boom to forgive and love the Auschwitz prison guards or Pope John Paul his would-be assassin. That kind of love requires supernatural help, the kind of love God has for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. That's one-sided love, for sure.
1. On Saturday, February 14th my Valentine and I had date night at home: we watched almost an entire movie all by ourselves (the two little girls joined us for the very end). We had a great time watching a very good movie, and when we came downstairs we were delighted to find the big kids all hanging out together in the living room. They were playing some question and answer game they had made up and were having an absolute riot together - very heartwarming for the smooshy parents on Valentine's Day.
2. Though the triumph was short lived, the fleeting moment of victory was indeed sweet:
3. Josiah has just finished mopping the floor that didn't get clean last week (it seemed to quickly degenerate from not so bad to eew). This is a huge task as we have a huge kitchen and sunroom area with lots and lots of tile to mop and then dry. Josiah is awesome.
And since I can't have a post with just a boring picture, here's a bonus-
We recently came across an old issue of the newsletter our family used to publish and send out to relatives and friends years ago. The Chronicle was a collection of the children's writing and it had popular columns such as recipes from Josiah, 'The Creative Sandwich Man', 'Caught in the Web' kid's website reviews, Junior Jokes, stories, reports, anecdotes, poems, artwork and the like. Mary Rose was just a toddler and her contribution to every issue consisted of a cute photo for her own feature, 'The Merry Rose Garden'. That seems like a long time ago.
Children's newspapers are a great writing exercise for children who love to write as well as those who run screaming at the thought the reluctant writer and everyone in between. Everyone loves to have an outlet for their writing (hello bloggers) and children are no exception. Even with today's abundance of online writing and even blogs written by youngsters, having a hard copy to have and to hold and turn the pages and look at again and again gives young writers a sense of accomplishment and pleasure that cyberspace can't match. And while I know there are many techno-savvy grandparents out there I'm sure that my mother is not the only grandma in the universe without a computer. So there is still a place for written newspapers. It's also a practical way to send the 'news' to several different people at once.
That being said, our Chronicle fell by the wayside because it was too much work for the editor and publisher, aka Dad, to keep up with. The children's writing all had to be typed in, artwork scanned, pages formatted and the like. Every issue even had a hand lettered masthead of pictorial letters that corresponded with the theme of the issue. But as with many things, I am learning that simpler is often better, especially when it is simple or nothing. We now have a new newspaper in circulation, The Sir Garnet, written by the three big girls. I simply print out the barebones pages with a masthead and numbered pages, three or four is all .
They write directly onto the printout, and then we just scan the whole sheets and print out a few copies to mail. Any illustrations they wish to add are just pencil drawings done alongside the writing. They choose the topics, and take turns writing the front page 'top story', such as Mary Rose's account of our dinner guest from Holland and his telling us about the dykes and skating on his canal. Whatever strikes their fancy. The last page is always Lydia's bird page, with either the latest bird happenings or a mini report on a particular species.
We proofread for typos, but that's all. With no real editing it's not their most polished writing, but that's okay. Our goal is to keep in touch with far away family members in a fun and enjoyable writing outlet. The children are happy, the grandmas are happy, and you have a wonderful record of lots of family memories written from a child's point of view. You will treasure this writing in years to come, I know, such as this vintage piece from an eight year old boy I used to know named Josiah...
Hello! Happy D-Day! Today is June 6th. Today we are having a D-Day party. This morning we were marching outside with flags and kazoos singing the Marine hymn...
I think if you click on the picture above it will be large enough for you to read the rest, all about the cake Jonathan made with England and France in frosting and little tags labeling the beaches in Normandy and Josiah in charge of the parachute launchings...sniff...sniff...sniff.
And a trivia quiz -Does anyone know where the name 'The Sir Garnet' comes from?
These are my new chair pads that I've been making out of felted wool sweaters, or Sit-upons if you want to sound quaint.
Meant for warmth (not cushioning), they do a great job, and I think they're pretty cute.
These came about in an interesting fashion. Every year when we make Christmas gifts there always seems to be a 'theme' - a new craft that is prevalent among the gifts because of its novelty. We have had the year of crochet and the year of wood burning and the year of one stroke painting; this year was unquestionably the Year of the Felted Sweaters. In fact every time I put in another load of sweaters in the wash to felt I would say things like, 'Oh, I feel like Betz White,' or 'My laundry room must smell just like Betz White's (baaa baaa).' She is the one who wrote the book: Warm Fuzzies: 30 Sweet Felted Projects about felted sweater crafts. I haven't read it yet but I just got it out of the library and I'm looking forward to perusing it's sweet pages.
So we had all these extra sweaters sitting around and we discovered that wool sweaters are nice and warm to sit upon. We've been keeping our thermostat set rather low (as in 'Freeze Yer' everything) and consequently our wooden kitchen chairs can be downright chilly. I realized I could make chair pads out of felted wool sweaters. At about two dollars a sweater the price sure is right, and I really like how they look. They are all different colors, but by using the same leaf motif they all look nice together, and they fit in fine in my casual kitchen. So I think they are as pretty as they are practical for keeping your seat nice and warm.
We get our wool sweaters at the thrift store, and we try to go on half price day. We always get sweaters that are 100% wool, and those that felt best are the ones that say dry clean only. Sweaters that are marked machine washable have been treated so they will not felt no matter how many times you wash them. It's also inevitable that we find 'accidentally' felted sweaters- all wool sweaters that people have inadvertently run through the wash. You can often find them in the children's section as they are so small, but you can tell by their misshapen appearance and strange proportions that they were once meant for adults. Stripes and all-over patterns are fine, but sweaters with just a section of a pattern will end up with uneven thicknesses. Fair isle patterns will end up quite bulky due to the extra yarns. A few small moth holes are okay if they are not in the main area of the sweater. To felt the sweaters, I just run them through the washing machine on a hot water cycle with a small amount of detergent, about half a dozen sweaters at a time, keeping lights and darks separate. Most people then machine dry them, but we don't have a dryer so sometimes I need to wash them twice. The sweaters will shrink considerably and the fibers will merge together creating felt.
Each pad is made from one sweater, using both the front and back. I've found it's easiest if you sew the two layers together before you cut out the circle. I mark out a large circle on the sweater with chalk - I've been using a very large cookie tin lid for a template.
Then I machine sew along the chalk line with a decorative stitch, sewing the two layers together.
Then I cut out the circle about half an inch beyond the stitching. I originally had delusional ideas of blanket stitching them all by hand and possibly hand appliqueing them, but I quickly realized that wasn't going to happen anytime soon for eight pads, so I did it all by machine. It looks fine and I think it's sturdier that way, as these are for kitchen chairs in constant use.
Then I cut out the leaves and stems from felted sweater scraps in contrasting colors, and arrange them in a pleasing fashion.
I use a zig zag stitch to applique all the pieces on. I sew all of the stems on first, using just a zig zag run down the length of each one. Then I add the leaves, zig zagging around the edges. I arrange the leaves to cover up the starting point of the circular top stitching, and also any tiny moth holes that might be present.
A bit of non slip mesh can be used under the pads to keep them in place, helpful if you have climbing sorts around. Voila! (Or should I say, Bob's your uncle!)
Yes, the priest is already wearing purple during this season that is sometimes called 'pre-Lent'. It is unfortunate that Septuagesima was eliminated in the new calendar because it is such a logical, practical season. Lent is so very important that we need time to prepare for it so it doesn't catch us unawares. I am thankful for this time to think and prepare and pray about what sacrifices and spiritual practices my family and I will undertake during this holy season of Lent. I am finding it most helpful to ask the Holy Spirit to show me what I should do this Lent, and to spend this time praying for the grace to be able to accomplish it.
2. With thoughts of Lent, I will try to get more recipes posted on my neglected cooking blog. There are currently a number of soups and pastas and such which you may find helpful, and it's all meatless. ;-) And as Bridget requested, I will try to get up my recipes from the other night's menu.
3. Just for the record, I did not get my menu or my recipe from Fr. Z! Eggplant parmesan has long been a standard 'company dish' of ours. We were highly amused when we got home from the store the other morning with our eggplants, (Not Zucchinis!) and found the good Father's post. (Don't you think those two ought to stop fighting for Lent? Or maybe they'll just have the duel before then?)
5. Thank you all so much for your kind comments on my Valentine post! I am truly delighted to know so many of you found my ideas helpful, and I hope you are having a lovely time crafting with your little loves.
1. We had one of my husband's colleagues over for dinner last night and the entire house was neat and tidy from top to bottom. (Okay, so we didn't get the kitchen floor mopped but Josiah noted that the 6' 8" tall Dutchman who was our guest was probably too high up to notice.) We prepared a nice meal of eggplant parmesan, spaetzle, salad and two (!) four layer chocolate cakes with French buttercream frosting and strawberries on top. (And like Suzanne, I resisted a third piece of cake, at least while the company was here.)
2. I took six of the children to the library, overcoming all of my aversions to lost books, overdue fines, PC book displays, and germy everything in the children's section.
I've just visited an inspiring new blog written by Louise's lovely daughter Lydia, a homeschool graduate who is now a college student. Her reflections on how her happy childhood have shaped the woman she is today - a lover of beauty and nature and words and music and family and life - are a reassuring comfort and peek ahead to those of us still in the throes of raisings little ones. With beautiful photographs of birds and blooms and even laundry, it promises to be a beautiful, soothing spot to stop for tea, already living up to the title: Make Me an Instrument of Your Peace.I think my Lydia will like it too.
We enjoyed heart shaped cookies along with scones, buns and other teatime treats, and then it was time for crafting.
Cookie hearts and shadow hearts - photo by Josiah
We had four families altogether with a total of twenty-seven children. I just love seeing my kitchen full of delightful children working happily together!
First they made Valentines to send. I told them St. Valentine's Day is a wonderful opportunity to send greetings to our family and friends to let them know how much we love them, but we can also give our missives eternal value by including a spiritual bouquet for the recipient's intentions.
I had lots of cards pre-cut and scored, and just provided the usual array of stickers, markers, colored card stock, old garden catalogs, glue sticks, fancy scissors and the like. I printed out the spiritual bouquet blanks so they were ready to glue inside the children's cards:
I've included the forms here for download to save time if you are crafting with a crowd or just for your own family's regiment of grandparents, godparents and all. Download A Spiritual Bouquet for You
I also printed out hearts with 'Happy St. Valentine's Day' for the littlest crafters who can't yet write to use. You can download those as well - simple stuff but if I can save a few moms some minutes of computer time I'm happy to share! Download Valentine Hearts
For our other craft we made these hearts:
We used the following supplies: five inch wooden heart cutouts, an assortment of scrapbooking papers, small wood punch out shapes, ribbon, glue, and paint. I put out a few colors of acrylic paints that coordinated with the papers, and since the wood punchouts are small we just used paper plate palettes and Q-tip brushes for easy (disposable!) cleanup. I prepared print outs of St. Augustine's famous quote, 'You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you,' seen here: Download Augustine Hearts
We talked about how these words tell us that we can only find peace in life resting in the Lord and His will, as we were created to know, love and serve Him. Most people celebrate Valentine's Day as a secular holiday, but all of those red hearts that we see all over the stores and decorations everywhere can serve to make us think of St. Augustine and the peace he knew when he finally came to belief in Christ.
Simply trace the heart onto decorative paper and cut it out.
Cover the wooden heart with a thin layer of glue and add a ribbon loop for hanging before pressing the paper heart on top.
Then just decorate the front as desired, with more paper, ribbon and the painted wooden shapes as desired.
You can see some of the variety here, and how most of the boys naturally skipped the fancy paper part. :-)
I think the hearts turned out very pretty, and they make a cheery and meaningful decoration to have around the house. Mary Rose has made several more of them with the extra supplies, intending to share them as gifts.
Remember, O Christian soul, that thou hast this day, and every day of thy life: God to glorify - Jesus to imitate - The Angels and Saints to invoke - A soul to save - A body to mortify - Sins to expiate - Virtues to acquire - Hell to avoid - Heaven to gain - Eternity to prepare for - Time to profit by - Neighbors to edify - The world to despise - Devils to combat - Passions to subdue - Death perhaps to suffer - Judgment to undergo.
Thanks for stopping by! My name is Kimberlee. I am a Catholic homeschooling mother of seven children ages 11 - adult. This is my place to share all these things I treasure, and ponder in my heart.
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