Saturday, November 30, 2013

My Advent Heart: With Love From Me To You, Jesus




I have a confession to make.
How very Catholic of me! LOL
But what I am about to say may shock you.  Then again, for those who know me, maybe it won’t.
I’m not crafty.
There, I’ve said it.
Oh, the desire is there. I’ve got the sequins, the special scissors, the scrapbooking supplies, the card stock. I’ve got a drawer full of sparkly ribbon, pinking shears, buttons, oodles of thread, miles and miles of yarn, rulers, fake fall foliage, silk roses, and little plastic thingies.
But I can’t do it. I’m all thumbs.
“But you’re so creative,” a friend said. “I don’t get it.”
Ah yes, in the written word, perhaps. I’ll craft a story for you any old time and have a good time doing it.  But put me at a craft table with a glue gun and I get itchy. Give me a keyboard any day of the week.
“It doesn’t relax you?”
No. Outside of a fresh box of Crayolas and a coloring book, there is absolutely no relaxation for me in crafting. Why?
Because I stink at crafting.
It took me a long time to realize that it’s okay not be crafty. I’m a mom. A conservative mom. A churchy mom. It seems so un-American to not like crafting.  I like crafting stores, however, and I really can’t figure out why that is. Maybe it’s a glimpse into what I could be…if I had the talent.
Which I clearly don’t.
The above attempt at an Advent wreath clearly shows that I can’t even stay within the confines of a circle when applying Christmas-themed picks with a hot glue gun.
“Mom, is it a circle?” asked my son. “Because it sort of looks like a heart, you know?”
I peeled the dried glue from my fingers and inspected my creation. An Advent heart. Yes, that is exactly what I had made.
“Well,” I said, unplugging the glue gun, “a heart is a perfect shape for an advent candle wreath. What did Baby Jesus bring to the world?”
“Love,” answered my son dutifully and with a little smile. He knew what I was up to.
“Well then, a heart symbolizes love, does it not? So we have an Advent heart. It’s a new Belanger tradition.”
It makes sense, though, doesn’t it? I placed it on the kitchen table and we put the candles in.  ”This is how it’s gonna be,” I said, exasperated. “Your mom is just not crafty.”
I admitted this very thing to my child.  What kind of a mother am I? Through the years, I had made the homemade Play Dough on the stove, bought the little craft kits at Michael’s, created amateurish First Holy Communion scrapbooks for the boys, made a disaster of the kitchen making royal icing for cookies last Christmas (I recently found a drop of dried icing on the wall from when the squeeze bottle exploded.  My boys and I exploded in laughter when that happened. Needless to say, it was pizza for dinner that night. Mom needed a break.)
So don’t I get an A for effort here?
But I don’t learn; I just keep trying. And that’s my downfall. So I tried my hand at sewing.
I know. But hear me out.
I wasn’t aiming to be a master seamstress or anything, I just wanted to learn something more than replacing buttons (which, by the way, I do rather well if I do say so myself!). What better way than to take a little easy-going class for beginners at the local sewing machine repair shop?  I signed up as eager as could be. I bought the notions the instructor suggested. I went to the fabric store and picked out a lovely wine-colored piece of fabric. Sewing was going to be my new thing! Our first project was going to be a vest.
A vest! Yes, I needed a nice vest. A tailor-made vest! Except I was no tailor. No matter;  I could pair it with jeans and a turtleneck. Add cute buttons. It would be darling!
Well, it didn’t quite turn out that way. The instructor tried to be patient and helpful, but God did not make me a seamstress by any stretch of the imagination. The teacher, finally spent from trying to be so kind with me, took the unfinished vest from me and said quietly, “Here, let me just finish this for you, Nancy.”
Whatever happened to teaching a man to fish?  Well, why waste the time, really. I was hopeless.
But I forgot all of that when I found a pair of my son’s school pants that were way too long and needed hemming. My husband suggested I take them to a tailor. But I would have none of it. I was certainly capable of hemming pants. I had my son try them on, measured them, and cut the fabric according to the specifications.  I dragged out my little sewing box and the navy blue thread.  It was time for some hemming, baby! I sewed as I watched “The Journey Home” on EWTN.  It was a delightful time. I sipped tea, watched the banter between Marcus Grodi and his guest.  I was hemming. I was crafting. I was doing a great job.
I was quite proud of the pants. The stitches, well, they were a little crooked. But who would be able to tell, all the way down there? Nobody looks at your ankles.  What I forgot to do was have him try on the finished product, though. Well, it was late and I still had to pack lunches.
So this morning when my poor son came downstairs with floods on four inches too short, I wanted to cry. They will make a  good pair of shorts, though.
Lord, why did You make me this way? I wailed.  I can’t do anything right! Why can’t I do a simple thing like hem a pair of pants or glue flowers onto a circle? Why can’t I make pretty sugar cookies at Christmastime, create a beautiful scrapbook of the kids,  or make a cake that isn’t lopsided? Why did You make me this way?!

I made you the way I always wanted you to be. You are exactly as I planned you from all eternity and I love you. No, you will never be a Martha Stewart. I already have one of those. Now go finish the book I planted on your heart. Bring me young souls who will embrace the Faith into adulthood. Go and be you.

Thank You, Lord, for the many gifts you have given me, especially the gift of the written word. I promise to use it to honor You, to glorify You, to bring children to You, to the best of my ability. I thank You for making me who I am. This Advent heart is for You, because I love You, too.
Can I just say one more thing, though? I sew a mean button. Strong and sturdy, one that will stay put and work hard for you.
It’s the little things.


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Book Signing at Celtic Cove Catholic Bookstore

What a special book signing this past Saturday at Celtic Cove Catholic Bookstore in Lake Orion, MI! I was blessed to spend time signing books alongside acclaimed Catholic author Cheryl Dickow of Bezalel Books. It is such a lovely store, filled with imported Irish gifts, statues, rosaries, jewelry, and of course, so many interesting Catholic books. I wanted to take one of everything home with me, but I did manage to get a little Christmas shopping done before the signing in their well-stocked children's section. Such a gem in quaint, downtown Lake Orion. One of my favorite things? Meeting young readers like the sweet girl below! When you come in to say "hi" and meet me, you really make my day!







Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Gate Is Here!

Holding The Gate in my hands for the first time!





Yesterday was a very special day for me and my family: the official release of The Gate!  I am so excited for boys and girls to discover the characters of Josh and his mentor Pie, for them to see what marvelous plans God has in store for each of them!

Goodreads is hosting a book giveaway (see sidebar, left) and I encourage you to enter to win one of two signed books. Don't wait too long; the contest ends November 30.

Also, for those in the metro Detroit area, I'll be at a special Christmas book signing on Saturday, November 16 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Celtic Cove and Catholic Bookstore in Lake Orion, MI. Catholic author Cheryl Dickow will be there as well, with her adult fiction books Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage, and her latest release, Miriam: Repentance and Redemption in Rome.  Find lovely gifts of faith for your loved ones this Christmas by supporting a local, family-run Catholic store. Celtic Cove has many gifts for all ages, some direct from Ireland.  Small Catholic businesses like these need our support; we hope to see you there!





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