Cheerful Giving

“Brothers and sisters: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each must do as already determined, without sadness or compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. Moreover, God is able to make every grace abundant for you, so that in all things, always having all you need, you may have an abundance for every good work.” (2Corinthians 9:6-8)

Today I pray for:

  • a deeper appreciation for the mission I have been given to preach the truth 
  • the ability to recognize the abundance of grace from which all of my work flows
  • more cheerfulness, especially when I am tired

I gave the first of these two talks at the Holy Family Young Adult prayer meeting tonight:

  

I definitely felt the weight of responsibility addressing such a heavy topic, but I hope that the beauty of authentic self-giving love will be embraced and shared by all who understand how desperately the world needs it.

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph…we love you, save souls. Amen.

Imitation of Christ

“Brothers and sisters: Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with which you were sealed for the day of redemption. All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling must be removed from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. 

So be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.” (Ephesians 4:30-5:2)

Today I pray for:

  • the ability to imitate Christ
  • the courage to live in love
  • the willingness to offer myself as a sacrifice to God

I understand that there is only so much of me that I can give to other people, so I am discerning and prioritizing for the sake of survival. It is possible to love many people, but I cannot realistically serve them all outside of the prayers I offer for them.

I do know my heart has a yearning for more authentic friendships, and I am trying to focus my efforts on those relationships that are most fruitful. 

It grieves me to realize that certain ties are not as strong as they once were, but it’s something I just need to accept so I can move forward. One day, they will know how much I love them. It may not happen in this life, and I just have to be okay with that.

  

And then there are my kids, who truly need me more than anyone else in this world. This audio of me and Kali was made a year ago, and my heart broke when it dawned on me that time is passing by way too quickly for us.  

 
My little ones are not so little anymore and the moments with them are fleeting. This is really where my focus should be. With a million and one things going on in my life, they deserve more of me than they’ve been getting. And this is where I need to start. Right now.

Moving Mountains

“Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

Today I pray for:

  • The Lord to be my strength
  • more faith
  • a greater expectation for the impossible

I am weary, Lord. Shower upon my soul the graces I need to persevere with love. Amen.

Out of my prayer, I learned:

  • the purest love given is when I have no strength left
  • moving mountains isn’t up to me
  • the impossible may not happen overnight

  

Living For You

Jesus said to his disciples,“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay each according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his Kingdom.” (Matthew 16:24-28)

Today I’m praying for:

  • a release of unrealistic expectations for myself
  • transformation and continuous conversion
  • humility and acceptance of my own limitations

My reason for this Novena of Rest: The Motherhood Days We Should Talk About

Out of my prayer I realize:

  • I’m not here to be comfortable
  • anything worth living for and working for is going to be hard
  • I don’t have to do this by myself 

Take the whole world and GIVE ME JESUS…

Resting in Him alone. Amen.

  

What I Wish

“For my daughters, for your daughters. For my sons, for your sons. This is what I wish.

You are young with eyes that spark and speak of innocence. Don’t trade. Don’t trade the pure peace that greets you each morning for a taste of something meant for later. Later, when a person handpicked by God will want nothing more than to protect you. They won’t want from you. They will want FOR you.

When I was young with eyes that sparked and spoke of innocence, I found myself lured by the pull of a want. A want that welled up from deep within the heart of a girl desperate. For love. For kind words. For that feeling of being wanted, noticed, and told she’s pretty.

I tucked my peace in my pocket feeling so certain it would stay even if I stuck my toes in the current of my want.

I waded out into forbidden waters. Ankle deep, the rush felt thrilling. Knee deep I felt old enough, strong enough and a bit annoyed that people I respected didn’t trust me. I knew what I was doing. This didn’t feel dangerous so I reasoned it wasn’t dangerous.

But it was. I was wrong.

This is what I wish. That I had listened.

Listened to voices of truth to turn back, run back, get myself out of the current. Resist the pull. Refuse the lie that feelings are to be followed. Feelings are to be brought up onto the solid ground of truth. Truth that doesn’t shift. Truth that doesn’t betray.

But I kept walking out further and further. Deeper and deeper. And into a current so strong I didn’t even realize how far I’d gone. Until it was too late. Waves of regret, anxiety, and fear swept over me. The one that told me I was pretty was gone.

And so was something else. I shoved my hand into my pocket now empty. I’d been so sure peace would stay. I was wrong. It had slipped away.

Oh if only I’d known even at that point to turn, run back to the truth, get back to solid ground. I would have seen peace had washed up there. When peace slips it always finds its way back to stand hand in hand with truth. Just like I eventually did. But to have never walked away and dipped my toes where they shouldn’t have gone would have prevented years of heartbreak and an ocean of tears.

Make that choice now. No matter where you are. This is what I wish.”

– Lysa TerKeurst

Holy Tedium Through Easter Eyes

Wake up. Feed the boy. Catnap until girl climbs into my bed asking for breakfast. Wash a few dishes. Serve food to next girl. Baby stumbles into the living room. Feed him, too. I eat…at some point.

Morning offering. Kids begin routine. Lessons. Snacks. Playtime. More snacks. More lessons. Try to keep baby from making a huge mess of the place.

Cook for kids. Lunchtime. Cook for me. Kids do lessons. I eat. Baby is sleepy. Put baby to sleep. Wash more dishes.

Cook dinner. Get ready for work. Serve kids dinner. Go to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Pray with husband and kids. Get ready for bed. Do more work. 

Go to sleep. Wake up. Repeat daily.

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It doesn’t seem that exciting, does it? Honestly, it isn’t if this is all I see in my days: complete and utter tedium. But when I open my eyes and my heart to all the sparks of joy in between I notice…

Kali’s singing. Thérèse’s giggles. Meleana’s invitations to play and her gentle reminders to clean up their toys. The frolicking around as Jean Paul chases his siblings from room to room. Gary’s random freestyle dance moves.

I hear apologies throughout the day with forgiveness being offered without hesitation. I open a refrigerator full of food and know that God continues to provide. I feel little arms come up to give me the sweetest hugs. I watch my girls reading to each other out of books about saints and the Mass.

Behind the desk, I listen to client after client give witness to God’s hand working in their desires and teaching them how to love. From the most serious discussions to bouts of spontaneous laughter, each appointment grants me the greatest privilege to be walking with couples who share so much of their hearts with me. There is the common goal of ultimate surrender where we all are learning to trust God completely, no matter the circumstances. I relish in the banter of mutual encouragement because I, too, walk away feeling strengthened for the road ahead.

What a treasure trove each day truly is.

This. Is. My. Life.

After 40 days of praying for a greater appreciation of my vocation, I finally can acknowledge the “rightness” of it all. God didn’t make a mistake when He made me a mother, even though there were times when I would seriously question His plan. I wasn’t ready for the responsibility of parenthood and the huge sacrifices that would come once life was conceived in my womb.

But God doesn’t call the equipped. He equips the called.

I’m not doing any of this on my own. I’ve been blessed with a husband who loves us enough to give of himself so freely that he rarely spends time with his friends on the weekends. We both heavily depend on the grace of God to carry us through our marriage in order to provide a home that is rooted in mercy and peace. Faith is our stronghold. It has been since the very beginning. Never able to take full credit for anything good that happens in our family, we are very aware of how broken our paths were, leading up to the place we find ourselves today. The Lord has been good to us. And it is the foundation of prayer that has brought incredible healing to our hearts over the years.

Every once in a while, we get to tell our story. When those opportunities come, they bring Gary and I back to the miracle of hope that we were both given before meeting each other almost 11 years ago. Tracing back to the roots of our relationship reminds us how precious the gift of marriage and family is, as God molded us for one another and for the children He has blessed us with.

So when I reflect back on what Easter means for our journey together, I realize that it’s the “New Beginning” he and I desperately needed. Just as the Resurrection summons us to live Heaven’s joy in our daily lives as we share the Gospel, the birth of our friendship and every amazing experience that shortly followed give meaning to the seemingly ordinary events we may take for granted.

Even now as my husband stands over a sink of dirty dishes after putting the kids to sleep, he’d make Mother Teresa proud. Small things with great love. No glamour necessary.

I wouldn’t want it any other way. 🙂

 

My Third Fall

Five weeks since Ash Wednesday. You would think that I’d be flying through Lent filled to the brim with spiritual fruit after all the prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that I committed to. Well…let’s just say 7 days before the Triduum I’ve been reduced to a crawl.

Have I not been praying enough? Not fasting enough? Not giving enough? I really don’t know. I do my best with the time and energy I have amidst the responsibilities that accompany my vocation. But I was so broken down and exhausted that I texted my husband, “I think Jesus is even disappointed in me.”

I felt like a horrible mother. My patience was already wearing thin at the beginning of this week. Tuesday wasn’t much better. And on Wednesday, I was on the verge of a major breakdown. I could feel the tension boiling under the pressure of trying to hold myself together. I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn’t come. I had to keep going.

Begging for God’s mercy, I asked forgiveness for failing my children. How long would I be able to keep this up? Daily arguments, hurt feelings, frustrations, cranky-tired meltdowns…and that was just the kids. The sunshine pierced through the storm clouds when Thérèse and I had this conversation:

Thérèse: Mommy, when did St. Nicholas become a Saint? When he was a kid?

Me: No, he became a Saint after he died. You have to die first before you can be a Saint. Then your family and friends share how good you were when you were alive. When the Church knows you’re in Heaven, then they make you a Saint.

Thérèse: So when I die, there will be TWO St. Thérèse’s in Heaven!!

Me (smiling): That’s right, Thérèse.

Gary tried to convince me that I was doing something right, and I had to thank God for that moment because it was the culture of faith we built in our home that was carrying us through some rough waters. Even though I stumble and fall when my cross feels too heavy to bear, my heart still cries out for the grace to embrace it and grow to be the best wife and mommy I can be.

I love my husband and my kids with all my heart and I want more than anything for us to share eternity with one another after our journey here is done. So I pray for a bigger and brighter perspective in my parenting, as well as in my marriage and every other aspect of my life. I realize that the more attached I am to the comforts and pleasures of this world, the easier it is to forget the ultimate purpose that God created me for.

It was incredibly timely that a dear friend of mine shared this beautiful Divine Mercy Stations of the Cross with excerpts from the Diary of St. Faustina.  My heart resonated with the reflections she shared with me, and I couldn’t wait to look it up and pray through them as well. Nothing could be more perfect right now, as I tend to be my own worst critic when I’m not meeting my own expections. So my soul cries out, “Merciful Jesus, I trust in You!”

Now for the home stretch…

“Nothing is mere coincidence; everything that happens is contained in the Word of God and sustained by his divine plan. The Lord passes through all the stages and steps of humanity’s fall from grace, yet each of these steps, for all its bitterness, becomes a step toward our redemption: this is how he carries home the lost sheep.”
— Pope Benedict XVI