He Is Risen Indeed!

Happy Easter, dear friends! I hope you are still basking in the joy of the Resurrection. What an Easter season it’s been, and the church is just getting started.

It all kicked off on Saturday evening, what the Church refers to as the Great Vigil in the Holy Night of Easter. For the first time in more than a month, I had the opportunity to attend Mass in person. My husband has been volunteering his time at our parish to stream Masses, including the events of the Sacred Triduum. Earlier in the week he offered that I take his place for one of them – and without thinking I said, “Easter Vigil…please and thank you!”

The Great Easter Vigil is my most favorite liturgy of the year. As I grew in my faith as an adult, it was always the Easter Vigil I preferred to attend. Though long, it is the most elaborate and tangible way for us to experience but a taste, with all of our senses, salvation history: listening to readings from the Old Testament to New, seeing darkness then light, hearing the Exsultet sung then hearing the triumphant Gloria once again with all the bells ringing, smelling the incense, witnessing catechumens enter into the church, and so much more. Since the fall of our first parents, Adam and Eve, it has been a very long and very complicated journey, but what has remained constant through it all was God’s never-ending pursuit of His people. That night for me, despite the messy state of our world, was filled with great hope and lasting peace. I kept you all close in prayer, as I know so many of us have been physically aching to be near our Lord.

As a family we celebrated a lot of firsts. Normally we spend Easter with our extended family; this time it was just us four. I also volunteered to cook the whole spread of dishes, we dyed Easter eggs, we made a simple Paschal candle for our home oratory, and I scavenged the house the night prior for things to add to the kids’ baskets, which they were so appreciative foryes, even if the basket included unopened Happy Meal toys (Anna from Frozen and Luke from Star Wars), unused coloring pages and stickers, fruit/veggie pouches from the diaper bag, pop tarts from the pantry. Seeing their reactions and how happy they were totally goes to show how kids really don’t need stuff we might think they do.


On that note, having gone to the Easter Vigil at my parish the night prior, a recurring thought this Holy Week and start to the Easter season was making the most with what we have already at our disposal. There were many things different about the Vigil. In fact many components that typically happen, which I mentioned above, couldn’t happen. The catechumen coming into the Catholic Church has been delayed. There was no fire (at least at our parish), and we didn’t hold candles. We didn’t taste the Risen Lord as we didn’t receive Holy Communion. Nevertheless, it was still good and what was offered to the Lord was the best we could offer despite the given circumstances. Similarly, what we did as a family, with what we already had, was the best we could do. And I believe it was still good.

Finally, one particular thing I have been pondering on throughout this is Octave is a vision of the Risen Christ within our home among us, our domestic church. I’m not talking about seeing Christ by way of sacred artwork or statues, but actually seeing Him – His resurrected body – just like when He visited to homes of the apostles, Our Blessed Mother, or the two disciples with whom He broke bread with in Emmaus.

During this time where the faithful are still unable to attend public Masses, this vision of Christ coming into our homes and bringing peace and comfort to our days has been one of great consolation and hope this Easter. In fact there was a moment this week when I actually got into an argument with Jon, so much so that afterwards I randomly envisioned Christ appearing in our midst and saying “Peace be with you.” This only prompted me to hug my husband and say I’m sorry for being uncharitable. I say envisioned, but I truly believe Christ was present, and said that same greeting to us.

He is present.

We recently transformed our morning room into our little oratory.

This Easter season, though very different, will be good even amidst our trials because of the life-changing reality, that Christ rose from the dead, trampled sin & death, and we, as baptized sons and daughters of God, are called to take this truth—the culmination of salvation history—to everyone. This is the story we were born into. And this is the truth we believe and must bear courageously everywhere we go by the witness of our lives, even right now if it’s within our homes and welcoming the Risen Lord into the messiness of family life – literally and figuratively. He not only brings peace to our homes, but also reassures us to be not afraid.

We will continue to suffer, and things may take some time until they get better. Or perhaps they won’t get better. Who really knows. But the message of Easter is that with Christ, our Victor over sin and death, our true victory lies not in this life, but in the next. We, too, will rise from the dead. Our earthly pilgrimage is merely a preparation for our ultimate home in Heaven.

May the peace of the Risen Christ be with you this Easter season and beyond.

Christ is risen.

He is Risen indeed!

Happy Easter from the Perez family!

An Umpteenth Note to Self: Don’t Take Mass for Granted

Often we hear “don’t take _______ for granted.” Like, don’t take each new day for granted, or someone’s kindness, or in this case for the purpose of my post, I said to myself this morning: don’t take the opportunities to go to Mass for granted.

It isn’t until those opportunities have obstacles that make it challenging to go. So of course when the announcements of Mass cancellations were made, it left an impact far different and more bleak than that of school or office closings. I’ve felt this similar way many times on Good Friday in anticipation of Easter, when I see an empty tabernacle with its doors opened wide. It’s a harrowing feeling. A gaping void. It’s a bit different this time, but a similar feeling of loss.

We, Catholics, we believe that Christ is truly present — Body, Blood, Soul, Divinity — in the Eucharist under the appearance of bread and wine. The Mass is most important thing that happens in the world every day. Thankfully there will be private Masses said daily, it’s just that we can’t go for safety precautions, to avoid crowds. And this time it’s not that He is taken, but that the easy opportunities we’ve been fortunate to have to come before Him are no longer there for the time being. 

A harrowing feeling.

I’ve found that it is in these types of moments that I hunger more for Christ and His presence, when the opportunities are limited. And then I think to myself, why did I take being with Him for granted so many times? Not particularly in a guilt-ridden way, but moreso a humbling realization of why didn’t I take advantage of this incredible gift, this medicine of immortality, when I could have?

Sacred art is a great gift to the Church for it provides us to come into deeper prayer with the Gospel and even the mystery of the Eucharist in ways that perhaps words couldn’t explain. Each day of Lent I make an effort to stare at this image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus on my mantle for a moment. His thorn crowned brow. The tears on His face. The Eucharist Host behind His Sacred heart, enflamed with love for us…

This image of Christ above was inspired from an apparition of Christ to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, during which He said: “Behold the Heart that so loved men… instead of gratitude I receive from the greater part only ingratitude…”

So today, on this Friday of the second week of Lent, and as we plunge deeper into this global pandemic that separates us from being at Mass and receiving Him in the Eucharist, I am asking myself the very simple question, in realizing again the overwhelming love of Christ: how can I respond back to His love today, right now?

Tackling the Gallery Wall with Ease

The Perez household has been celebrating all day long.

First, I can now say with confidence that James is officially potty trained. The entire process, which included bouts of starting and stopping, was a long and arduous one. My husband and I learned in recent weeks, based on James’ advances, that he was simply not ready before, until the turn of the year. Once he was ready it was literally like a switch being turned on. He finally got it.

In fact, just this morning he went downstairs to the potty all by himself while I was in the bathroom upstairs. As I was washing my hands I heard his Thomas the Train potty making all the bells and whistles, which is what happens when the potty gets filled with pee or poop. I ran down the stairs, SO excited and proud. Ahhh, we are super pumped and relieved. Now, we continue with Lucy, who has been inspired lately by her brother’s successes! I’ll need to remind myself to read my words above when we work through this process again.

And two, we finally tackled our angled gallery wall, which is likely why you’re really here. ;) If this is your first time, HI & WELCOME!

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Can you tell how excited we are about potty training + gallery wall victories?!

For some time, arranging a gallery wall for me was a daunting task. I’m certain that professional framing services (i.e. Framebridge) make this process a piece of cake & is well worth the money and experience, but for us personally they are also way over our budget. Plus I’m typically the one that prefers the DIY path anyway, even if it takes forever. It’s been over two years since we first moved into our home, and so I’m glad it finally took a Walgreens Photo Print & Poster Sale (70% off) PLUS an A.C. Moore’s out-of-business sale (50% off frames) to finally make the plunge and just do it already. I’m happy we waited because we purchased four additional large frames for a steal.

If you’re wondering first what kinds of frames to purchase, that’s entirely up to your preference. The new frames were in addition to the other frame types we have already collected through the years, and the colors were drawn from other colors & textures already present in our family room. We went with the barnwood (distressed natural + white), gold, and black combo.

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Here’s a simple breakdown of our process:

  1. On your floor, lay out all the frames that you will be using for the gallery wall. When shuffling the frames around, remember to keep the dimension and shape of the wall in mind. So in our case, I kept in mind the angle since the gallery wall location was under the stairs.
  2. As far as configuring the frames, play with the sizes and colors so that they are spread evenly throughout. The unity of the similar colors and textures tie everything together in the end, so arranging different dimensions will be ideal for creating movement and breaking the repetition of the 16×20 frames or 11×14, for example. Again, because of the angled wall, I wanted the frames to imitate the stairs so that’s how I arranged the top frames from left to right.
  3. Next, use something to trace the outline of each frame. I used our good ol’ roll of kraft paper. This creates a much easier experience when determining the configuration once it’s on the wall. I made sure to number the traced paper and the frame using painter’s tape. Since Jon would be the one to hang up the frames, this effort was to ensure accuracy for hanging and to make this as easy as possible with the corresponding numbers, especially in case he was unable to finish while I was around. (Low waste tip: Squeeze in as many frames onto the paper as evenly as possible for very little scraps from tracing & cutting. By the end of this project I barely had a handful of paper strips, and I plan on reusing the traced paper for hand-lettering drafts or for wrapping small gift boxes.)
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3. Once the frame tracings were cut and numbered, I then replicated the initial configuration on the floor onto the wall.

4. Next, if you’re not completely satisfied with how it looks, switch stuff around! This is where the corresponding number system will come in handy. Perspective is everything. Once I hung up the initial configuration on the floor onto the wall, I was able to see quickly what worked even better now that I was actually working within the exact framework of the stair wall. The photo below shows the numbers out of order; those were the ones that got switched around to a better configuration that met my complete satisfaction. The floor exercise was a great starting point, and so reconfiguring the handful of frames afterwards made it so easy and took no more than 15 minutes.

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I spy the Thomas the Train potty.

5. Finally, HANG ‘EM UP! This was probably the more difficult task because many of the frames had different hooks or hanging brackets. It goes without saying to keep handy a level, ruler, and pencil. I’m so glad I only had to do the design portion because I would have been over this within a few minutes.

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And that was it! Jon finished hanging the frames before we went to bed last night, so I was excited to wake up to see it all again with prime daylight.

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I’m laughing at how much we’ve accomplished because on Saturday morning when we woke up, we cleaned and the morning turned into one of those, “oh, I think we’re ready now” – I just didn’t know we were ready for both potty training AND our gallery wall! That makes this all even sweeter.

I couldn’t be more happy with how the wall turned out, and the strategy certainly reduced any feelings of this being an impossible task to accomplish. These framed photographs and art have been leaning against the wall of the morning room for the last two weeks, collecting dust. At least now they’ll collect dust in the right location where these special memories and reminders of faith will always be on display in the heart of our home.

If creating a gallery wall has been challenging for you, I hope you’ll find these tips helpful and will dive right into it. Feel free to leave feedback, and if you were able to benefit from this process, please share! I’d love to see. :)

Our Home That Tells a Story

Our house is typically most uncluttered after the kids go down for the night. Depending on how tired we are by evening, and if the kids don’t clean up before bedtime, the house may remain disheveled. Dishes, pots & pans may even get stacked up in the sink or on the counters.

Deep down what makes me most grateful isn’t a perfectly kept home, but rather a home with toys and books laying around the room, plush dolls tucked underneath a blanket on the couch, artwork on walls, and a variety of bread crumbs, cereal or rice on the floor from mealtimes hours before.

These visual reminders are ways of telling stories about the people who live there — nurturing kids who believe their dolls need rest, too.

Imaginative kids who role play with their favorite animals or Disney characters.

Artistic kids who think their depiction of the solar system is something to be proud of and something a small piece of paper can’t contain.

Then there’s the crumbs.

The food on the floor is a reminder of how blessed we are to even have food to eat.

Good food.

Enough food.

Food we enjoy.

Though it’s not easy every single day, I strive to remain grateful for these messes because it is in these moments I learn more about my own children. I learn about their personality, what they love to do and love to eat, books they enjoy most — all by the trails of messes they leave behind.

Before I am a designer, I am a mother. Creating a beautiful space for my family is important because I know the impact it can make — whether for inspiring, for gathering, for resting. A tidied home is important to me, too, but above all I believe what makes a home most beautiful is simply this: when you see it actually being lived in.

In a digital world where newsfeeds seem to be full of perfectly curated homes and scenes, perhaps it makes us feel less about ourselves when we put our phones down and stare at the current state of our own homes. Rather, let’s show ourselves grace and permission to let the stories within our walls speak for that moment, even if that sometimes means a mess, food on the floor, or with dishes in the sink. Only then does it allow our gratitude and resolution to tidy up more worthwhile.

The In-Betweens of Life’s Happenings

So much of life is spent hurrying, or wanting hard times to hurry up and be done with. A lot of what we have in our world today at our disposal is for our convenience, “to save time”, they say, to get more done, to cross off all the things on the constantly growing checklists.

Not all conveniences are negative, though. But with a “convenient” mentality, it may take away from a fuller, richer experience found in the process, a process placed there for one to benefit and grow from.

This kind of mentality can also deprive one from moments meant for savoring and growing in gratitude for what’s there now and hope in what’s to come, whereas rushing the process may be due to focusing only on what’s not there and wanting it immediately to fill something. Perhaps even to serve as a distraction so we feel busy. Furthermore, in the between of starting and completing, there can even be feelings of unrest when tasks aren’t done with thoroughness or intentionality. Things might get done but it might not be the best version put forth.

Sitting at this table and looking at both these flowers and my coffee brewing in the French press had me reflecting in the four minutes it took before I poured my coffee in the mug was that everything still happens as it would, regardless of the pace. It’s natural and out of our control, yet it still happens: flowers bloom, coffee brews; in the same way trials pass, wounds heal, kids grow, seasons change. All things happen in their due time.

This is what I have been bringing to prayer lately, which then led me to rediscovering how deeply I seek after a life lived more slowly and intentionally, savoring the in-betweens of life’s happenings.

In the good, but even moreso in the trials.