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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

#JLIHolidayMart -- A New Tradition (Local Ticket Giveaway)

Remember when I said the other day that I wanted to immerse myself in holiday festivities?  Tonight I had a chance to do that. I was invited to attend the Junior League of Indianapolis Holiday Mart Shopper's Preview as a guest blogger. I'd never been to Holiday Mart before...but I will definitely be going again -- maybe even this year before the show is over on Sunday. And for sure, this event is going down as one of my must-do holiday traditions.

My only real knowledge of the Junior League is through my mother-in-law, who was active in the Junior League in Evansville, Indiana and through the daughter of a friend, who turns out to be the Merchant Committee Chair for Indy's event this year.

I met up with my friend Katy and we strolled the booths together. Katy bought all her teacher gifts from a place called The Lotion Store. There was a section of local vendors called Mistletoe Mart that had some great stuff including B. Happy Peanut Butter (LOVE!), some great mugs, and kids' clothes.

There was plenty of Christmas-themed merchandise -- super cute clothes and tree ornaments. But also, lots of stuff that I would love to have year 'round. Cranberry pomegranate cashmere soap, wine slushies, and this awesome jewelry made out of dyed fruit.

But the best part? Getting to hang with my friend Katy, who I usually just "see" on social media. And that's what I want to give to you -- time to spend with a friend at the Junior League of Indianapolis Holiday Mart.

Thanks to JLI, I have two sets of two tickets to Holiday Mart to give away. But you have to act fast. The Holiday Mart is only open through Sunday, November 20 at 4pm. To enter, look for the giveaway post on the 4th Frog Blog Facebook page. I will announce the winners tomorrow evening (Thursday, November 17).
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For those of you not local to Indy, hold on. I hope to have a few more giveaways to share this holiday season.


Sunday, November 13, 2016

Spreading holiday cheer, uncommonly (Giveaway)

I've decided this year I want to immerse myself in holiday festivities. Christmas concerts, craft shows, lights displays -- bring it on! And then there is gift giving. I find such joy in finding just the right gift for giving to a particular person. (Wait until Mike sees what's under the tree for him!...Keep it clean, people.)

Part of that sharing that holiday joy, I've decided, is going to be sharing the opportunities I get as a blogger with you loyal people still tuning into the 4th Frog. I've been given an opportunity to share a bit about Uncommon Goods. In exchange for writing this, UncommonGoods.com offered me a gift certificate. I'm going to use part of that gift certificate for YOU -- If you win this giveaway, you will be able to choose one item from the $25 and under category of Uncommon Goods.com and I will have it shipped directly to you.

Now, I really do try to shop the mom and pop stores and give the small businesses my business. But I did some looking at Uncommon Goods before agreeing to write this post and saw several reasons to consider them a source for holiday shopping:
  • They are committed to treating their employees well, giving all full and most part-time employees health insurance. 
  • They seek handmade, organic, and recycled products to sell.
  • They want to help you do good by offering you a chance to designate a charity to which they will donate $1 at checkout. $1 is not a lot, but every little bit adds up -- to more than $1 MILLION so far! 
But really? You'll want to click over and shop Uncommon Goods because they have great stuff, even for those hard-to-buy-for men in your life. Do you have newlyweds on your gift-giving list? Check out this great selection of gifts for couples (young and old).


Uncommon Goods - Fbomb photo fbomb_zpspug3vlbg.jpgSo what did I find that I thought was great?

Words Cubed -- a great addition to the creative "toys" I keep at my desk for inspiration

A Hole Paperweight -- So simple, so clever, as is the F Bomb paperweight.

Handmade Copper Wall Flowers -- I have the perfect spot for them in my house.


And so much more! But you know what's ever more awesome, Uncommon Goods offers FREE stuff for everyone. There are 13 different free printables you can download.

So, if you're an online shopper, consider giving Uncommon Goods a look, not just for the holidays, but for birthdays, weddings, and more.

If you'd like a chance to win my giveaway at UncommonGoods.com, please click the link, check out the $25 and under category and comment wherever you are reading this post -- on the blog or on Facebook. Let me know what from the category (or anywhere else on the UG website) you would like to see wrapped up for the holidays this year. I will draw a winner on Wednesday, November 16.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Let it begin with me

water photo: Water Droplet Freeze DSC_0208.jpg  

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;
Our country is so fractured and fearful. I can be kind. I can be patient. I can be slow to judge.

Where there is hatred, let me sow love; 
It costs nothing to share a smile. Today, remind me to smile at someone who does not look like me. May that smile ripple like water, inviting others to follow.

Where there is injury, pardon; 
Make me humble enough to say "I'm sorry" and humble enough to hold my tongue so I will have nothing to apologize for.

Where there is doubt, faith; 
Remind me I don't need to have the answers, that I only need to trust in you.

Where there is despair, hope; 

Let my kindness and patience sow seeds of hope that we are still a good people.

Where there is darkness, light; 
Help me to see my light, to share my light, and to seek and nurture the light in others.

And where there is sadness, joy. 
I find joy in the colors of fall, in the touch of a friend, in a moment of quiet. Remind me to share that joy and to help others find theirs.

O Divine Master,
Grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood, as to understand;
To be loved, as to love; 

Call me to step outside of myself, to go where you would have me go, to be Your instrument, to be calm water that gently ripple invitations of love.

For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life. 


Amen.

(Thanks to St. Francis for the inspiration.)

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Unstuck

Six months ago, in March 2016, I wrote about feeling stuck. I knew I wanted some different things in my life, but I couldn't make myself do anything to bring about change. I was stuck and unhappy as a result.

About 4 months ago, something -- I honestly don't know what -- made me move. I got up one morning and took a different direction. It helped that I had someone to take that step with me. It helped that God gave me a very clear sign that I was indeed in the right place. And you know what? Today, I don't feel stuck anymore.

What I did to unstick myself

I've come to understand that the single biggest thing keeping me in that "stuck" place was the belief that I -- and I alone -- was the only one who could move me.

"But I've got these things that I wish were different, things that pretty much only I can make different, but I can't seem to make any movement toward any of them. I'm just stuck," is what I said in March.

I couldn't have been more wrong.

On that first day that I woke up and dared to think differently, I had someone who was willing to think differently with me. I had people I didn't know but for a brief exchange of introductions reach out to me. I've had people on the periphery cheering for me and people in the trenches pulling me along when I felt like I couldn't go another step. I have God.

When I became willing to lose the stubborn toddler "I can do it myself!," I found the grace to see the possibilities in life, not just the obstacles.

Keeping on

The road has not been particularly easy -- changing my way of thinking seldom is, but it has been do-able. It turns out that when I start to look at one thing differently, I start to look at lots of things differently. I start to step out of the shadow of the fearful "Oh, but what ifs" and into the light of the adventurous "OH, but what IFs!"

I have not arrived. In fact, I'm not entirely sure where I am going. But I am moving and it feels so good.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Guest post: Letter from a black police officer's wife


I'm yielding the floor -- ok, the cloud space -- of my blog to a colleague who has bravely taken the time to write about her experiences as the wife of a black law enforcement officer (LEO). As the Black Lives Matter, Blue Lives Matter, All Lives Matter movements rage on in our country, I've wondered what it is that I, a white middle-class woman, can do? So part of what I can do is provide space for Victoria to share a piece of her heart. -- Amy, The 4th Frog

Dear Indianapolis and other big American cities-

I hear you. I feel for you. I have been toying with the idea of writing you for days, but feared my letter would go unnoticed, lost between recent headlines. You see, I am a part of the very slim minority of being the wife of a Black Law Enforcement Officer and my heart is doubly breaking these days. I can only tell you my story, America. I can only say that these are my thoughts and my feelings and I am not trying to persuade you to think one way or another. This is just my story, but for such a time as this, this is my platform.

 photo 30fbc9f8-2ccf-4673-893e-2600f406f8ac_zpsqitany3r.jpgMy husband wears two uniforms, one he willingly and bravely wears each day, representing this city. It’s crisp, clean, and blue, and it’s adorned with pins and stripes and a badge with a three-digit number that identifies him.

Then there is another uniform he wears daily.

This uniform is who he is, it’s smooth, dark brown, a little weathered from the forty something years he has been on this Earth; he loves this uniform. I love this uniform of skin that he is in, but I also realize this uniform requires a great amount of responsibility and intentionality.

As I heard of the news of Alton Sterling and Philandro Castile, my heart was put in that place again. That place that was never meant for our hearts to feel but because of the brokenness of this world I feel it. Jesus once felt it --so much so that He wept, and here I was trying to make sense of something that will never make sense. Camera angles, what they did or didn’t do, what they should have or could have done differently -- each person involved, but the fact remains that two Black men are gone. Life has been lost and it is so very tragic. When I see Alton, when I see Philandro, I see my husband. I see his daily uniform. I see the vulnerability of black skin.

As I stared blankly at the television screen watching the violence of Dallas unfold I was in that place again. That place that makes me cry out each day, “Come home, honey” -- each day as he heads out to face who knows what, in who knows where parts of the city, to who knows what kind of circumstance. I hear the headlines change from 3 to 4, to 5 lives lost and I am broken. A peaceful protest interrupted by the unimaginable, changing lives forevermore, taking lives too soon. When I see Sgt. Michael Smith and Officer Patrick Zamarripa I see my husband. I see his uniform. I see the vulnerability of blue skin.

So many of you are asking all over social media, is it really possible to have a deep concern for Black lives, to feel that injustice is still occurring, to believe that discrimination still exists solely because of the color of one’s skin and not at all based on the content of their character, while still realizing the true sacrifice of a law enforcement officer to uphold the law, protect its citizens, and run toward danger in every instance, the answer is yes.

Yes, you can.

You can love both, you can pray for both. You don’t have to be all or nothing or one side and not the other. I love my all-American, strong, caring, funny, father to my children, endearing husband, Black man and I love the law enforcement officer that he is. I love both parts of him.

Can we address our fears? Can we be honest that sometimes our uniforms both the outward ones, the inward ones, the ones that are mandatory and the ones that we live in, can we be honest that sometimes we are fearful of our uniforms?

Drive out the fear by bringing it to light.

My mother use to tell me after nightmares to talk about it. She would tell me to bring those awful fears to light. These last few weeks feel like nightmares and I am in that place again hearing about Baton Rouge. 

So I am left here to talk about it, “Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God's children. It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment.” -- MLK, Jr.
 
Who is listening?

-LEO wife, 
Victoria Wilburn

Sunday, May 22, 2016

God, Jim Carrey, and me

Often, I will scroll through my Facebook feed and amidst the funny memes, the lunch updates, and the humble-brags, there will be prayer requests. Some of the requests are small, such as "pray that I can find my keys so I can get to work on time." Others are giant, mammoth requests -- prayers for healing from devastating diagnoses of cancer or other life-altering situations.

It's one of the things I like most about social media, its ability to bring together a community of believers for common good. These requests are non-denominational. No one posts "If you're Catholic, please pray..." And often the poster will ask for prayers or positive thoughts, acknowledging that not everyone subscribes to the same belief system. 

I try to respond to most of these requests in some way. For the "lost keys" category, I might just click the "like" button. For others, I respond "JMJ+" which is my own shorthand for "Jesus, Mary & Joseph, pray for us." The particularly heartbreaking requests will often elicit a unique response, letting the poster know that I will be keeping them in my prayers. 

That's the easy part. 

The hard part is actually praying. Between the requests that are posted via social media, the prayer intentions that are delivered daily via my parish's email prayer tree, and those personal encounters I have with people who share need for prayer, sometimes I feel like Jim Carrey in the movie "Bruce Almighty."

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Jim Carrey is a frustrated news reporter turned God. In one scene, he is overwhelmed at the volume of prayers being sent to him. They crowd his thoughts and when he tries to organize them onto post-it notes, his entire apartment is blanketed in tiny slips of yellow paper. Sometimes the need for prayer in my world is overwhelming.

I don't have a formal system by which I handle prayer requests that come to me, but lately I've become more conscious of the commitment I'm making when I tell someone that I will keep them in my prayers. One woman I know kept a journal with lists of people she was praying for written down. Her family found it after she had passed away. 

Though the idea sounds like a good one, I'm not a great journal keeper. What I'm finding works for me is silently saying a prayer immediately after I'm asked for it, praying it as I'm typing my assurance of prayer. For some requests, that's all that I feel drawn to give. Sometimes the people in need of prayer will float to the top of my mind during the day and, again, I silently lift them and their concern up in a quick prayer. Other needs for prayer weigh heavily and I find myself spending more time in dedicated prayer for these needs, often during weekly Mass. 

As Jim Carrey learned in "Bruce Almighty," a blanket YES is not the appropriate answer to all prayer. I don't expect magical or even miraculous resolutions just because I prayed. But as overwhelming as the needs may be, I try to be thankful for those people asking for prayer because when I agree to pray for their need, I am gaining another opportunity in my day to be in contact with God. 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

She always shows up


I've spent a good part of today thinking about how I should honor my mom for Mother's Day. I mean, I already mailed her a card (which will, of course, arrive late) and wished her a HMD over the phone. But that doesn't seem like enough.

She's not a mom that flowery superlatives fit. What she is, really, is a mom who shows up. 

Birthday parties. First Communions. Of course she shows up at the big things. But she also shows up to help hang wallpaper, to watch ordinary soccer games, to keep an eye on grandkids when their parents need a break. 

She shows up by texting pictures of the Coke Rewards codes from her afternoon Diet Coke. And by firing up the sewing machine to hem a pair of too-long pants that traveled from Indiana. 

She shows up when she answers the phone at 10:30pm and I'm on the other end asking "Do you think I could give Charlie more ibuprofen?" 

She shows up when she remembers you asked for prayer for a friend, prays, and then calls back to see how the friend is doing.

She shows up even though her 5 kids tease her about bladder control, laughing to the point of passing out, and her Christmas shopping trip fanny pack. 

She shows up when she sits up late at night leafing through the newspaper, eating cereal, and just visiting with an adult child in town for a short while.

Showing up is not just punching the motherhood clock. It's delivering a message to her children and grandchildren that says "you're important and you're loved." 

Thanks, Mom, for showing up. I hope you know that when you need me, I'll show up, too.