Sunday, February 19, 2012

Considerations for Lent

How beautiful it is to give up this life for the life!
~ St. JoseMaria Escriva

Let's just go ahead and admit it - nobody likes Lent. Just say the word Lent out loud and you'll find that it is almost always followed by a sigh of discomfort.  Kind of like the word exercise to those who hate to sweat or babysit to those who find children annoying.

For me, Lent always conjurs up flashbacks of my childhood.  No sweets, no TV, no anything fun.  Just church, lots of church, ashes on the forehead, and weird fish dishes, and quiet and gloom. All we could do is countdown to Easter Sunday. (My parents were great teachers and always set a very pious example for me. I, however, am just a very, very, very slow learner.)

Despite all of the negativity attached to Lent, it really does have a deep and beautiful purpose. It's not just a season in the church's liturgical calendar that you have to "get through" in order to have chocolate again. The Christian isn't forced to do any of these things - giving up meat, fasting, mortifications, ashes on the forehead.  The church doesn't hold a hammer over our head and say, "Do it, or else." Participating in the sacrificial preparations for Easter are intended to be freeing, not binding. 

I am deeply humbled by the truth that Christ willingly died for us, for our sins.  He gave himself up to be crucified.  The power of perfect sacrifice is ever stronger than that which He could have exuded if he had chosen to weild His power over everyone and every situation.  In the same way, God doesn't control us, he has given each of us a free will, and it is through our willingness to unite our sacrifices to Christ, no matter how big or small, that we participate in His life, death and resurrection.

In my mind, there is but one purposes to the Lenten season:
Unity with Christ.

This season of contemplation, examination and preparation wakes up the soul, and invigorates our fervor as Christians to walk with Christ and to desire Heaven more deeply.

Experiencing Lent as a family can be challenging.  We are all busy with activities, school, sports, meetings and appointments.  But, coming together for any amount of time each day can bear beautiful fruit in your family.  Need a few ideas?  Here are some that we share within our family, as well as a few that I have found from other resources:

For the Family:
1.  A couple of years ago, I found this recipe for a crown of thorns made out of dough.  Toothpicks are placed in the dough to represent the thorns.  When the children do an act of sacrifice or a good deed, they can take out one toothpick.  We place a glass jar in the center of the wreath, and for every toothpick we take out, it is replaced with a jewel which is put in the jar. The jewels represent the jewels in the crown of our King, Jesus.  On Easter, the children can construct a crown and glue the jewels on (I actually like the ones from craft stores that have the sticky backs).
2. Choose a story to read aloud together.  This doesn't necessarily have to be a Catholic/Christian book.  Perhaps it could be one where the characters demonstrate heroic virtue by way of sacrifice. Our older kids (3rd grade and up) have really enjoyed Redwall by Brian Jacques.  There are also many short stories in the Children's Book of Virtues.  We like to keep a book basket in our living area during special seasons in the church.  This is very handy if you are giving up television/video games during Lent.
3.  Consider adopting a child that you can support as a family with financial resources, prayers and letters. Sometimes being mindful of the needs and sufferings of others can put our own struggles into perspective.  We have adopted two boys, Patrick and Juan Diego, through CFCA. You can find more information here.

4.  Pray together.  I know it seems so simple, but often the greatest sacrifice that we can make on a weekly basis is the sacrifice of our time.  Praying with your children, even for a short amount of time each day, is unifying for the family.  Maybe you will learn a new prayer, or perhaps choose a bible verse that you would like to memorize together. 

5.  Pick a service project to do together.  Consider shoveling snow for a neighbor, volunteering at the local food bank or soup kitchen, visiting the elderly, or delivering a meal to someone homebound.  Let the kids help decide what you will do.  If you are giving up Saturday morning cartoons or a day of shopping at the mall for Lent, it helps to put something sacrificial in it's place, or else you might find yourself looking for another source of comfort or entertainment to replace whatever it is that you gave up.

6.  Get to know Christ through the Word.  For families on the go, an easy way to do this is to listen to an audio version of the daily readings. You can find them here (just click on audio version and select the corresponding date).

7.  The Stations of the Cross is a traditional prayer that Catholics often pray together on Fridays at their local parish.  If you find it difficult to make the trip to church, you can still pray this beautiful prayer as a family at home.  I found this amazing idea from Joyfilled Family. They use candles with a printable picture to mark each station. We are definitely doing this one!

For the Children:
1.  If you have little ones in the home, crafts can sometimes be a perfect way to make something as difficult as the mystery of Christ's suffering, death and resurrection simpler for them to take part in.  I love the website Catholic Icing.  There are oodles of great ideas there!

2.  We are all, by our natures, comfort seeking creatures. That part of our nature is in some cases necessary for survival.  So, encouraging children to embrace the idea of sacrificial giving isn't easy.  I decided this year to offer the boys a way of seeing their sacrifices "bloom" into something beautiful.  Because, as Christians, we believe that each person's personal sacrifices have merit, and when offered to Christ, He will give our sacrifices life. 
To begin the activity, I created this quote: 
These tiny seeds lie deep asleep.  But, when planted in the soil of sacrifice, they will awake and bloom as resurrected flowers of love! 

Below the quote, I scattered a few illustrated seeds that the boys can cut out.  Each time during the week that a child offers some small sacrifice, he/she can cut out a seed and put it in their specific pot. About half-way through Lent, have the child count his/her seeds and replace them with real seeds.  Those seeds will then be planted in their pot and cared for throughout the reamainder of Lent. By Easter, the plants should be sprouted and can then be enjoyed indoors or transplanted outside when the weather warms up.  We chose Morning Glories, because they are symbolic of the Resurrection.

To encourage the little ones with this project, it might be helpful to create a list of sacrifices that they can choose from.  They can even help you make the list.  Some of ours include:
- Picking up toys for a sibling.
- Making bed without being asked.
- Give up playing with a toy or game so that another may use it.
- Clean up room without being asked.
- Serve another family member at supper time.
- Pray for a family member.

3.  Have each child select a quiet space that he/she can go to every day for twenty minutes in the home to have quiet time with Our Lord.  Older ones may read the bible, recite their favorite prayers, journal or simply be still and listen. For little ones (3-6 years old) they might just read or look at story books about Jesus or their Children's Bible, or color pictures for Jesus.  Need some story ideas? Check out this list.  Another resource is Holy Heroes.  These are fantastic audio stories of saints.  A coloring book can be purchased to accompany the stories.  Our kids love these, and often listen to them in the afternoon during my personal prayer time.
4. If your kids are giving up something such as toys and video games for Lent, make a sacrifice box. Also, help them to think beyond just giving something up.  Sometimes adding something to our daily routine can also be sacrificial. For example, picking up their room without being asked, saying a prayer each day for someone in the family, doing a chore for someone else, etc.  Also, giving up something, doesn't just have to mean something physical.  How about giving up a bad habit such a whining, complaining, name calling, a negative attitude, not responding promptly to parents etc.?

5.  We all love to countdown to exciting and joyful events.  Make a calendar for your children and hang it on the fridge.  I like this one from Catholic Icing:
I hope this gives you a few ideas.  I am heading to Switzerland to visit my sister Sara this week.  When I get back, I'll post a few of my favorite meatless recipes for the Fridays of Lent.  With a house full of men, cooking without meat is a challenge - but these recipes pass the test!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day 2012

Valentine's Day isn't just for lovers.  It's for everyone!
The economic engine of our country finds a way to attach a dollar sign to nearly everything, especially holidays.  As a result, the origins and true meanings of most holidays often gets lost in the material.  

One of the privileges I enjoy most about being a parent is that I am not subject to cultural "norms" when it comes to holidays.  Rather, I get to share with my children the fullest meaning of every holiday, celebrating with memorable traditions in the form of food, music, art, crafts, decorations and snazzy duds.
When I saw this little number on, my will to resist was broken! I couldn't wait to see Charlie in it!  The boys went hysterical when they saw him.  And, you can see by the width of his grin that he knew that he had captured all of our hearts!
The older boys are a little less cooperative when it comes to dressing up for holidays and events.  No amount of secretly stashed candy could convince them to dress up to match their little brother for a picture.
Thankfully, Mr. Squishy Toes didn't mind hanging out for a few more poses.
"Why yes, darling, my ears are my finest feature." 
Chubby rolls on a baby are irresistible.  Especially on the neck!

In addition to Charlie's little outfit, I also found lots of ideas this year to add to my holiday traditions notebook on Pinterest.  George helped me make a heart paper chain and we framed a free printable from this blog to dress up the buffet.  
We also made Valentine treat sacks to share with school mates, friends and family, and topped them with these cute cards from this blog site.
Sweet and simple. I am so thankful for all of the creative moms who share their wonderful talents and ideas with the world through their blogs.  
I love, love, love to cook, and the holidays are my perfect opportunity to make something extra special. Seeing Steve and the boys get excited about a special meal really warms my heart!  Such a little gift to give them, but with big returns - happy faces, happy hearts, happy home.
For supper our menu included:
Olive Garden Salad (find the dressing recipe here.)
Garlic Bread
Parmesan Crusted Chicken (my secret recipe!)
Linguine with Vodka Cream Sauce
Chocolate Cream Pie with Orange Liqueur

During supper, we read the historic story of St. Valentine.  Then, we went around the table and each child expressed something that they love about each sibling and parent.  After that, we asked to boys to share the ways that they feel the most loved. Andrew read his essay on How he knows that God loves him, and ways that they he shows God that he love Him.  We're beginning a tradition of telling jokes during the holidays.  Benedict volunteered to entertain us with a few that he found. After that, we moseyed our pasta-stuffed-selves over to the living room to watch a movie and smooch on Charlie some more! Delicious!
Out of the mouths of babes...
  "When a person gets kissed for the first time, they fall down, and they don't get up for at least an hour." -- Wendy, age 8

"If falling in love is anything like learning how to spell, I don't want to do it. It takes too long." -- Glenn, age 7

"Don't forget your wife's name. That will mess up the love." -- Erin, age 8

"Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough." -- Lynnette, age 8

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Actions Speak Louder Than Words

The big bad flu bug crept into our home last week and bit us all, one by one.  Usually when the kids or Steve gets sick, for some reason, it bypasses me.  I think it's a unique sort of strength that God builds into a mother's constitution, so that she can take care of everyone at any time.  Well, despite all of my efforts to disinfect and contain the contaminants, I still got sick, and so did Steve, both of us at the same time.  

My immediate thoughts went to our little Charles.  I was overwhelmed with the worry that he, too, would get sick.  Babies are so fragile, and I couldn't imagine my little angel suffering through the stomach pain, body aches and fever.  The only way to protect him would be to ask Steve's parents to come and take him to their house.  They so graciously came to our rescue. 

The first night of being sick was a sleepless one for me.  Every time I raced to help a child or to check on Steve, I channeled my worries into prayers for them all, and asked them to pray for Charlie, that he would be protected from such suffering.

Then, yesterday, the phone rang, and my heart sank.  I knew that Granny's loving voice on the other end would speak the words I was dreading to hear.  "He's sick, come quickly."  None of my children had experienced the flu as infants.  Colds and fevers, yes, but not the flu.  The boys gathered around, all hunched over in their jammies and robes, pale faced and concerned.  "Is Charlie sick, Mom? Will he be okay?  What can we do, Mom? Is he scared, Mom?"

Knowing that there was no need to keep him away any longer, I rushed off to bring him back to the comfort of familiar surroundings.  The older brothers waited patiently by the door, and the moment we came in they rushed around him, patting his head and his tummy, speaking softly and whispering words of encouragement.  "Oh, Charles, I'm so sorry you are sick.  You are going to be okay big guy.  We are here, and we love you."

The nature of my boys is to unite through rough and tumble activities.  They connect through teasing, wrestling and competing.  Seeing their tenderness toward each other during the week melted this mamas heart!

Less than 24 hours later, Charles was miraculously feeling much better.  I was beyond grateful, because I knew that it could have been much, much worse.  Steve stayed home with Charlie, while I took the other four to Mass.  That day happened to be St. Dominic's big school fundraiser, a spaghetti dinner with games and prizes for the kids.  Our boys always have so much fun at this event, so it was a nice treat for them after experiencing such a pitiful week.
The games are set up so that the kids can earn tickets, and the tickets can be redeemed for prizes.  None of us knew it, but George was secretly running from game to game trying to earn as many tickets as possible, so that he could bring home gifts for Charlie.  And, gifts did he bring!  Three sacks filled with stuffed animals!
The grin on George's face was precious! He was so delighted to surprise Charile with something that he thought would make his little brother feel better. 
He didn't want to share just one or two, he had to surround Charlie with all of them, and play with each, one at a time, just to be sure that he could enjoy every animal.
There were lots of toys there to be purchased with tickets, but I think that because George cannot have any stuffed animals due to his allergies, he desired to give Charlie something that he himself cannot have.  The thoughtfulness of his kind deed really touched me deeply.
When children act in virtuous ways, without our prompting or reminding, it can have a profound effect on others.  For the past few weeks, the boys have been bickering and fighting more than usual, and I have to admit it's been frustrating for me.  I tend to feel like a failure as a parent when my kids do not behave respectfully toward each other. I realize that children are going to argue, and lessons can be learned from working out differences, but we have days when it seems that no one can get along.  

A few weeks ago, I sat down with the boys and asked them what it means to be a Christian.  I asked them what would happen if a stranger came into our home and watched us for a day. Would he believe that we are Christians? Would he want to become a Christian?  We have to LIVE what we believe, not just speak it.

I am saying these words to myself, because I know that the gospel is exemplified and received more deeply through actions than through words.  I can read all the bible stories to them and exhaust every piece of literature on virtue humanly possible, but all of my efforts and good intentions would still only comprise a very small piece of the pie.  The greater lessons are the ones that we teach through our actions. Those lessons will always be more indelible on their little souls that the lessons we preach.  

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Wrestling Adventures Chapter II

About a year ago, Steve and I decided that we needed to get the boys involved in a few more activities outside the home to support our home school goals. Living in the country thirty miles from civilization isn't exactly the perfect circumstance for home schooled kids who want to socialize with other kids their own age.  So, despite the distance to town, we make the trip almost every day.

Naturally, with a home full of boys, we tend to lean toward athletic activities.  And, since we made the decision to enroll them in a local wrestling club, I have to say that the marks on the walls, broken pretty things and furniture casualties has significantly decreased!
One of the sports we ventured into last year was wrestling.  You can read my thoughts on our experience here. Despite all of my reservations and hesitations about getting into the sport, club wrestling, for all of us, has been fruitful, and admittedly fun.
This year, we're back in take-down mode, minus one contender.  Benedict chose to focus on basketball, and he's happy to stand by dad as coach to Andrew and George.  Henry wrestles on the sidelines with the other little boys and Charlie bounces around from parent to relative to friends and neighbors while I snap pictures and lose my voice.
This year, in honor of the sport, I thought I would share a few things that I have learned from the sport of wrestling:
1.  It is a great sport for boys, because it is natural to them.  Boys can only talk amongst themselves for so long. Eventually they have to exert themselves in some competitive form, and wrestling is usually tops.  The worn out living room carpet is proof!
2.  Our philosophy with all extra-curricular activities is to just have fun.  We've all seen the parents out there who are yelling at their kids and placing unnecessary pressures on them to be the best and to win.  I'll be the first to admit that it can make sporting events stressful.  But, I also believe our family can lead by example through our positive attitude, sportsmanship and the encouragement we give to others.  Our philosophy isn't always welcomed, but hey, neither was Jesus'.
3.  Wrestling  has many elements of character building built into it.  The boys represent themselves, their family and their club by demonstrating respect for their coaches, referees and all those who volunteer at the tournaments.  They exercise gratitude toward their family and all those who come and watch them compete.  Self-confidence and self-control are exercised with every match, win or lose.  And, because the tournament days can be long, often with the boys wrestling up to 5 or 6 matches, they must practice perserverace, especially if they are on a losing streak.
4.  Sports bring out sides of your children that you never knew existed!  One of my favorite discoveries has been their expressions of concentration and focus.  For example, whenever Steve is prepping George for a match, George chews on his lip as he listens: ( I wish he would chew on his lip when I teach school, then I would know that he's listening!)
5. Wrestling has been a unifying force for the boys.  Their support for each other outside of parental encouragement is really beautiful.  As they get older, they experience the blessings of brotherhood in greater and more meaningful ways.  We just pray that it continues throughout their entire lives.
5.  Despite the weird attire, stinky gyms, and early morning weigh-in's, wrestling's redeeming qualities truly do outweigh the major factors of annoyance.  Any sport, with proper guidance from parents has the potential to strengthen a child not only physically, but also mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
We are fortunate to be a part of a club that was founded on Christian principles.  A club that is recognized across the state and even nationally for it's positive leadership and athletes whose attitudes and actions reflect that leadership.  
For us, success is measured in more than medals. Much, much more! (But, hey, we'll take a medal too!)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Giving it ALL to God

Today I stumbled on to this short clip of Kimberly Hahn, a well-known Catholic author and speaker, sharing the truth that every gift in our lives (including our work and responsibilities) are a gift from God the Father.  

When I consider that he has entrusted me to care for and love His children, His son (my husband) and all that comes with being a wife and mother, when I view my vocation as a steward, everything changes - especially my persepctive and disposition when approaching each and every day - no matter how difficult or delicious it is forecasted to be.

I need not feel overwhelemed with the calling before me, for He will never give me more than I can handle. And, I need not rely upon my own strength and sanity to nurture and sustain the life around me, for His strength is made perfect in my weakness. Thanks to grace, I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.

The little voice in my head that all day long says I, Me, Mine, is transformed into You and Yours, Father.
Bring on the Day!!

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Surprising Gifts of Winter

Every day after lunch, the house settles down for thirty minutes of quiet reading.  This routine allows me a little quiet time with Our Lord, and offers Charlie a much needed break from the brotherly smotherings as well as the noisy stimulation that a house full of boys often produces.

A couple of days ago, highly anticipating our quiet time, I came out of the nursery and into a serious silence.  Hmmmm, fishy. At first, I thought maybe the boys were hiding, but then realized that they probably ditched their books for something more exciting outdoors.

Before I could even open my mouth to holler their names, I stepped out onto the porch to find this:
 I love how they pushed the chairs close so that they could read together.
 Even Henry will tell the boys to be quiet, 'cause he's reading.
 Sneaky.  Picture books, eh?? I'll let it slide this time. Tomorrow it's back to War and Peace.
They didn't eve realize I was taking their picture. The Mouse and the Motorcycle is wonderfully engrossing, for this seven year old!
Proof that the book is always better than the movie! 
How delightful it is to see them reading books that I, too, enjoyed as a child. 
The unexpected warmth of a mid-winter day brought perfect little gifts : the sunlight catching every little blonde hair on their sweet heads,  brotherly bonding over books and the quest for quiet achieved and enjoyed.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

13 Day Prelude to Valentine's Day

When Steve and I were engaged, his mother gave him a wise piece of advice regarding the hanky-panky part of our relationship.  She said something to the effect of, "If you would like for the day to end in the bedroom, it needs to begin in the kitchen."

Here we are, eleven years later, and even though he does the dishes often out of necessity, so that I can tend to the children, I still loose my senses when he rolls up his sleeves!

This year, in preparation for the world's most anticipated day of romance, Steve and I are challenging each other, and challenging you, to join us in a thirteen day prelude to Valentine's Day.

Here's the plan: choose to do one specific thing each day leading up to Valentine's Day (men, that would be February 14th.  Put it in your Blackberry. Now please.), to show your significant other how much he or she means to you.

The goal is two fold: To offer expressions of love for the other in ways that convey with sincerity how much they mean to you, and to refresh the romantic feelings of love in your relationship.

We came up with a few suggestions, but we know that they may not work for some as everyone has their own unique arrangements for work, school, kids etc.  Maybe our little tips will simply inspire you to think of your own ideas.  At any rate, we are betting that this plan could possibly result in your (and our) most romantic Valentine's Day yet!

Are you in???
Day 1:  Pick up after yourself, before she asks.  And, if you're really feelin' it, pick up and put away something of hers, and the kids, and the dog.  She will notice, trust me.  If you're already a neat freak, then pick a closet and start organizing.  She'll think you're genius!

Day 2:  Tell her how beautiful she is to you, inside and out, before she has a chance to put her make-up on.  If you really want to go Hollywood, I suggest you look her in the eyes and hold her face in your hands.  Just be prepared to be attacked.

Day 3:  Offer to do the dishes after supper so that she may go for a walk, take a bath, or watch her favorite program on TV.  While you do the dishes, say a prayer for her.
Day 4:  Plan to make dinner one night, and tell her you will take care of all the preparations. Ordering pizza does not count!

Day 5:  Leave a love note somewhere unexpected for her to find (in the fridge, on the diaper Genie, beside the coffee pot).  Girls love notes. And we will love them forever and ever and ever.

Day 6: Take a moment and think about the things that your wife is most interested in.  Then, ask her about one or a few of them.  I wouldn't advise doing this while sitting in front of the computer, checking your phone for text messages or watching TV.  Sincerity is key. You must pay attention and for Pete's sake act interested! (Didn't your mom ever say Pete's sake? I think it's making a come-back.)

Day 7:  Clean out the family car without her knowing it.  If you have kids, just admit it, it's probably really gross. So be a prince, roll up your sleeves and rescue her from the leaky juice box chicken-McNugget nightmare.
Day 8:  Change out the laundry, and/or fold a load of clothes. If you haven't yet met your washer and drier yet, it's time.  Make the laundry 911 call to your mom or mother-in-law for some advice. Don't be surprised if your wife passes out.

Day 9:  Run a bubble bath for her. Fluffy towels, candles, bubbles and music might have unexpected results, so be prepared (brush your teeth, and make sure you don't stink. I'm just keepin' it real here.)

Day 10:  It's time to roll out the compliments.  If you have kids, praise her in front of them. If you don't have kids, do it in front of the in-laws, your own parents or even friends.  Watch her eyes sparkle when she looks at you. If she's not used to this, you might notice expressions of confusion.  But, you're not gonna give up, are ya?  Nope, 'cause you're awesome at romance!

Day 11:  It's Saturday morning.  Put your plans on hold.  Walk the dog, make breakfast for the kids and keep it quiet so she can sleep in.  Valentine's Day activities require rest, if ya know what I mean. You've got to strategize, man!

Day 12:  Rub her feet or her back unexpectedly.  Tell her you appreciate all that she does for you.

Day 13:  Make arrangements for child care if you have little ones at home, and take your wife out for a surprise lunch, movie, or just take a walk together.

Day 1:  Join your husband in something that interests him: if it's sports, sit with him and watch the game, if it's music, get to know his favorite songs, if it's (a-hem) farming or cars, or guns or architecture ask a few questions to show interest.  But, be sure to affirm him with comments such as: "that's awesome, honey!"  Guys love it when they think that we think what they think is awesome.

Day 2:  Offer to rub his feet (maybe after he showers??), or his back.  You might want to be sure that you are "in the mood" since back rubs and holding hands can signal "Green Light Go."

Day 3:  Make his favorite meal, or bake something extra special that you know he will love. Tell him you made it just for him (not just because you're PMSing and need to eat something with 80 grams of fat and 6 pounds of sugar.).

Day 4:  Get up a few minutes early so that you can watch the kids or walk the dog, or do whatever you can to let him sleep in a few extra minutes.

Day 5  Praise him in front of your children.  If you don't have kiddos, praise one thing you especially love about him in front of others (like your parents), and be specific.

Day 6:  Leave a love note in his briefcase, on the steering wheel of his vehicle or inside his laptop.
Day 7:  Get fixed up for him - not just because you're required to for work or because you're going out for girls night.  If you're a stay at home super-star and the piles of laundry, list of errands and poopy diapers looks dreary, you can still sparkle! He will really feel loved by your attentiveness.

Day 8:  Hand him a cold beer (with a smile) when he walks in the door after work.  Not a beer fan? His favorite soda or other choice drink will work perfectly.

Day 9:  Surprise him at work with his favorite lunch, or better yet, arrange child-care for the kiddos, and surprise him with an impromptu lunch date!

Day 10: Just for today, don't try to be right about everything.  Refrain from competitive discussions.  Just let him lead you and your family.  This is one way that husbands and fathers love us that is often overlooked.
Day 11:  Choose one thing you can do to help him out if his duties at home are piling up.  Let him know that you are helping him with this so that he can spend more quality time with the kids (or with you!)

Day 12:  Say a prayer for his intentions, his goals, his work and his vocation as a husband and/or father.

Day 13:   Find some old photos of you and your hubby, or maybe even your wedding videos, and share some good memories over a glass of wine.  Thank him for asking you to marry him!
Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility..... It is therefore able to undertake all things, and it completes many things, and warrants them to take effect, where he who does not love would faint and lie down.  Love is watchful and sleeping, slumbereth not.  Though weary, it is not tired; though pressed, it is not straitened; though alarmed, it is not confounded; but, as a lively flame and burning torch, it forces its way upwards and securely passes all.  
Thomas A Kempis (1379-1471)