Saturday, October 4, 2014

Grab your marriage. Hold it tight.

I love that my mother in law makes fun of me for always using the word "grab." I never realized how much I used that word, but I do. I use it for everything... and likewise, so do my children.

All of these beautiful faces above are extremely distracting, extremely important, and utterly sanctifying. They are the joys and the challenges of my every day... but many times they pull me away from my marriage.

I am working daily on trying to figure out how to conserve energy at the end of the day for my husband...

I am working daily on trying to contain my sarcastic comments about how he got to drive to and from work in a quiet car alone and got to eat lunch without a child on his lap...

I am working daily on remembering that we have different roles in this venture, mine in the home, his outside the home, each with their very unique struggles, pressures and crosses...

It is tough to not compare, not weigh, not complain, not judge, not hold a grudge.

Again, I ask the Lord, what do you want of me, O, God? How can I do this better? How can I control my sentiments that at times just want to be so selfish with hurtful words and a bitter attitude? How is it that You can soften my heart, Lord? I need more patience. More joy. More openness.

Praying for all of this. Trying to every day actually remember to grab my marriage and hold it so tight, so it doesn't get left behind, get worn out, or get forgotten in the mix. I try to hug him, hold his hand, remember to kiss him, and try to be sincere when I look him in the eyes. Some days it is so very hard after a day that is so very hard. Praying for the grace to love better the man I love so incredibly much.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Not alone

I believe so much in the Mystical Body of Christ. It is so real. At any moment I can be with each one of you when I am in prayer. The Holy Spirit connects us through this spiritual way... and this is especially true during the Mass when we receive Holy Communion.

I am so happy to see you there and be with you, dear moms and

my family who is far away... and especially you who I love so much in Nashville. Thank you for your prayers, your fidelity, your humility in your vocation. Because of you, I never feel alone, even if at times I am lonely in this job.

Keep up the good work. So many days this can be so very difficult. Embrace it with so much joy. We can not change the world without joy. And when I think of you, when I make a spiritual communion, I am able to grasp joy... because there all of you are standing beside me... carrying on as best you can...

Some of my favorites...

Sunday, September 28, 2014

These sweetums

I'm realizing more and more that our children are here to sanctify us... in our marriage and as individuals. I am being stretched and stretched and my children are allowing me to look inside myself and see where I am so far from perfection.

There are some days when I think that "all these kids" are just too much, but they are not at all. They are just enough... just enough to show me how to be holy. They are my constant sanctification and without each one, I would not be made pure in the very specific way each one provides. One pulls on my patience, while the other pushes me to order and simplicity, while another slows me down, and another draws me out to be creative.

I am every day the chef, the accountant, the home decorator, the cleaning lady, the manicurist, the tailor, the laundry mat, the comedian, the disciplinarian, the center of gravity and heart of the home, the organizer, the secretary, the gift buyer, the birthday caller, the prayer, the hostess, the pick up lady, the nurser, the shopper, the clothing sorter, and most importantly, the wife.

I am growing here in Rhode Island. As much as I resisted. I am really growing. I am able to look deeper since everything but my home life was taken from me. The gracious and loving Father who knows me so much was well intentioned. He knew I could continue to strive for holiness in a better way here. Being busy is very distracting to finding God. So, I am here now... coming up on a year... and I feel as if I am beginning to find the Lord again.

Friday, September 19, 2014

These guys... and the one little lady...

This pictures was almost a year ago. Last fall. On a farm in Franklin. It was a beautiful day. A good day to commemorate our time in Nashville and it coming to a close.

I love these boys so much. They have given me the greatest and hardest days.

Gabriel has just begun kindergarten. I wish I could get into that little brain of his and watch the transformation that has taken place in just a matter of weeks with him. He has become his own man. He is being challenged for the first time in so long. He comes home with his head held higher and a new found love of so many things. He walks in the door to get right to work on some "project" and to make sure he uses his time with his brothers well, now that it has been limited. He has been talking about various things, but the ones that stand out most: Maggie, the girl at school with the golden hair, Lego time at school, recess, books he's read with his class, his Spanish, music, PE, art and technology class, and he is constantly speaking of how many syllables are in words I say... it's always random, but makes me laugh. He leaves in the morning with his dad, backpack in hand, and something to draw on and a bag of crayons... always the doer. He impresses me every day. He is so responsible, so loving, very intuitive of others moods and needs and so incredibly social. It blows my mind. His courage to reach out to people trumps mine on every occasion. He teaches me so much. Boy, do I miss him since he has been gone. I really did think I would've homeschooled... but, for this year, he is there... and it is so good... for all of us.

Anthony has really stepped it up. His language, his sense of self, his ability to lead. He did not take it lightly when I sat him down and told him he was now the oldest brother when Gabriel was at school. It was so excited. And continues to tell me that he doesn't miss Gabriel while he is at school "at all."
Anthony is such a gentle little guy, but such a LOUD dude at the same time. I have to work on volume with him. He has really begun to lead Adam... and Adam doesn't seem to be getting to him as much these days... although Adam still loves to cause drama and Anthony is certainly my MOST dramatic child. Ant is truly the lover of our family. Best hugger ever. The ladies will be calling in no time.

ADAM. OH, ADAM. I really do love him. Sometimes I just don't like him. Ha. He has stretched me more than any child, actually, more that any person in my life. He is the most stubborn, strong willed, independent, yet clingy, mommy and daddy loving kid. One minutes he's yelling, "HOLD ME" and the very next he is yelling, "I DO IT MYSELF." Oh, you just never know what will happen with this unpredictable little peanut. He will move and climb mountains one day. Many. He's SO hilarious. I love him to pieces but he is such a challenge. I wonder what happens in his head. He cracks jokes, makes me angry, annoys his brothers, pokes his sister and hates to sleep. His words are evolving and I just love them. He starts every word with "UH" and always addresses the person he is speaking with. Its hilarious.

Not only do I love these boys, but I know also have a little girl. She is very laid back so far, although it is quite clear that she has an attitude. She is super cuddly and I would venture to guess she will be like Gabriel and be on the move very soon. At 5 months old, she just weighed in at 16 lbs, 14 oz at her last visit and has the BEST chunky thighs you will ever see. She has been giggling since I can remember and she LOVES to play close by to her brothers. It's been about 2 weeks now that she has been grabbing everything and anything she can get to. She has been incredibly fun to dress up, but I know that not before long, she will certainly be pulling all of those bows out of her hair. Evelyn is, as Adam calls her, our "PIN CESS." But, stand back, boys, I know she will hold her own.

Motherhood has been very hard for me lately. I have been struggling to get up in the morning with a smile on my face. I am realizing the terrible consequences of birth control... no one has kids anyone... and not that many if they do... and it is terribly isolating when you do have children and you take a go at this alone. Being open to life has been a struggle for me lately... it has challenged my inmost selfish tendencies. This has pushed me and pulled me to continue to trust God and allow him the control. Praying for more patience, more confidence in God, and much more charity... in my words, and also my thoughts and actions.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


I just want to sit with him face to face and ask, "What do you want of me, Lord?" and I want Him to answer back, in clear words, with a gentle look, and with a clear goal. I want to hear the words. I need some contact.

I feel these days as if I am drowning... in kids, in laundry, in dishes, in financial decisions. Its constant. There is not a moment for myself. So, I wonder if he is asking for me to become less... less important, less achieved, less of everything...

He became a slave for us. Many days, I say to Patrick... "I'm just a slave, a lowly worker." Maybe that is all I am being asked. So, now to achieve it with great love. That is the part I'm struggling so much with. Then I would be more like him.

Help me, Lord. I need patience as you continue to ask humility of me.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A note on spiritual reading...

I keep these books everywhere... it helps to have them where you nurse, where you sit to watch your kids play outside, near your bed, EVERYWHERE... then, you can read a page here and there and never have an excuse to not get it in.

My guest room...

For the past few weeks my guest room had been taken over by my mother in law and then my mom. I have not had the chance to go in there and blog, but now, I hope to start up again.

A few tips of practicality for your day...

1) My day remains most simple when I do not turn the TV on... I keep shows for the moments of desperation... they seem to save me when I need to cook dinner with no one at my feet and around hot pans. Its best to just open up the back door when I am temped to turn on the TV

2) With the more children I have, I realize that it's OK to just be at home. Stay at home, let them find their routine, play make believe, get along with one another. You just can't push yourself to do field trips these days... have consistency with naps, meal times, etc. It helps these little people.

3) Set a goal to read each of your children at least 3 books a day (or one long one!)

4) I am done with sippy cups. I just bought these amazing camelbak water bottles for kids. $11 on Amazon. We have a sports one, a T rex, and an underwater scene. Best decision to keep filtered water going all day long and not go through 20 million sippy cups leaking all over my house and car. Simplicity...

5) Even 2 year olds can help unload the dishwasher. Set your expectations high.

6) Always start the day with a morning offering... pray it with your kids. It counts for you and them.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Some chaos...

This is from Thursday... I imagine this is your life too... trying to hold two or more... don't poke her, don't grab her, all up in ya grill, wiggling, interrupting, making you lose your train of thought... man, oh, man. So, keep sleeping. Keep praying.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

How to pray the rosay when your hands are full...

Meet with our Blessed Mother every day. She will guide you and hang by your side. She loves you so.

Sweet Dreams...

My husband says my life will change forever. Cheers to an earlier bedtime. And prayers for a kinder heart that gets more sleep.

Monday, August 18, 2014

You are enough

Sometimes we need to remember that we are enough. We fail all the time. We have days that feel hopeless. We have days that are hard. We are always trying to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect, but we are human, and we have to recall that.

Some mommies are home all day. It can be so very lonely. It can be an interior and silent suffering. Stay strong. Be vigilant. Continue to pray. Ask God to give you the grace to be joyful. We need joy. We can not do this job without joy. If we could only just remember that He loves us and we are enough. His deep and abiding and merciful love is enough for us.

Praying for all of you moms out there who are up all night nursing, pulling yourselves out of bed to push forward in the morning with a smile, and then on to your vocation of motherhood throughout the day... praying for the grace to find the joy in each small act of obedience to God and the strength to continue to love bigger in the things God is asking of us.

I'm joining you mamas, down in the trenches.

I was inspired to record a video talking about some normal happenings of our day, each day, so as to share with you the normalcy of the life of a mom... especially if you are a stay at home mom... and especially if you are Catholic. I am not offering expert advice by any means, but just "the day in the life of" and "how I survive" and "how I pray" in the midst of it all! I will try my best to be helpful, sometimes entertaining, and on occasion, very funny.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Down in the trenches some days but, my eyes facing You, my Lord

They are pure gifts to me. Sometimes I do not see it. I am reminding myself every day: that they make me holy, that every act of love done for them is an act of obedience for Jesus, and that every day that seems so long and hard will be gone so soon.

I adore you, Oh Lord, and I praise you. You have given me so much.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Jesus, meek and humble of heart...

Every day I have to look into their eyes and be reminded that these children are a gift from God and each moment with them is an act of obedience to God... He has entrusted them to me.

They are the ones meek and humble. I am the one learning from them. That being said, they are also learning from me. When I see one of them yell at the other, I remember that it is me who has taught them to yell. My self control, my meekness reflects on them. My agitation, my aggression, my anger, my quick switch... also reflects on them.

Thanks to Michelle Dugger, I have recently begun a new practice. Every time I am tempted to yell, I whisper instead. This is a very hard thing to do. I see the Lord's great plan for my holiness and detachment to my sentiments as he teaches me this self control. You say, they won't listen... but try it... they want to stop and strain to hear what it is you are saying to them... they love you.

"Mom, I'm hungry."
"Mom, this is very bad. Come see what Adam did."
"Mom, please get me something to drink."
"Mom, can you put this costume on me?'
"Mom, will you play legos with me?"
"Mom, I'm SO hungry."
"Mom, what time is it? Are my friends home yet?"
"Mom, I don't want to do that."
"Mom, can you come wipe me."
"Mom, I was playing with that first."
"Mom, I need help."
"Mom, I don't want to take my nap."
And the list goes on...

My name is called hundreds of times a day. Let's not mention the small baby who cannot even say "Mom" yet. She certainly tells me when she needs something.

My patience starts to wear thin and I carry people around, hear my name, feed people, and wish to sit for just a moment. I start to grow grumpy and tired as the day goes on. I then start to raise my voice. Why does everyone need ME? Ahh. I just need a minute. But, no, it is me HE calls to, not them. They are my cross. They are my path. I must learn to be a mother of gentleness and humility and service. Of course, I need to correct them, I need to protect them, and I need to set boundaries, but quietly and consistently.

So, I am working with many failures to stop raising my voice. I am trying to keep it peaceful here. I am the only one, along with their dad, who will teach them their first taste of peace. It's of eternal importance.

Jesus, meek and humble of heart, make my heart more like yours.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Come pray the rosary...

She looks for us. Our Mother looks for us like any mother keeps up with their child... whether we are doing well and fine or are in a state of suffering, panic, or feeling lonely. She waits for us like Christ does. She wants us to sit beside her and speak to her of the heaviness of our hearts. She waits.

It seems I have made her wait long some days... or months. I have been distant from our Mother. There has been so much chaos. For a woman who is a mother, I suggest this; that you pray at least a decade of the rosary every day. Meet with her daily. She will sit next to you and hold your hand along the way.

Something that helps a mommy to pray the rosary is something I recently found called ""

Go here and decide how you would like to pray that day... what mystery, as an individual or a group... etc. Turn it on and let them lead you. You can do it in the midst of nursing babies, folding laundry, doing dishes. We forget to often that Christ wants us to find him in our daily routine. He wants us to just love simply in our simple moments. So pray and "sit" with Mary while you serve him in your home. You can even give hugs, pour drinks, cook dinner, kiss boo boos, and hold a baby while you pray.

My kids are starting to learn that this is their mom's quiet time. They can pray along with me, watch the pictures of Jerusalem on the screen of the computer or if they need something super important, they can quietly whisper, "Excuse me" and I can pause the rosary for a moment. Its easy to teach them. They love watching the bead on the screen light up when we get to the next pray too.

Our day needs to be saturated in the Lord. It will help us so much. His grace will fill us. In the midst of all the mess, He is there.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A small lesson

I want to remember everything. Its too bad there is not enough time to write it all down.

One thing that I want to remember is how quickly they learned and how easily their hearts can be turned towards generosity.

We had cookies I made the other day and when there were only a few left, I used it as a lesson in generosity. I handed out one of the cookies that were left to Gabriel and asked him to split it in half. Once he did, I asked him if he should keep the bigger part or the smaller part. He said, "Maybe the bigger one." Ah, yes, of course. That's what is natural. Especially if it's chocolate, but let's talk about how to love your brother. Let's let the other person have the bigger piece. Let's be generous and give up something we really want for someone else. His eyes lit up. It never occurred to him that it would be so special to give someone else the larger part. So, he did. The smile stayed on his face. There is so much grace in generosity.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Dear sweet Ev

I don't want too much time to pass by before I share something about you. You, my sweet and first daughter, are such a gift. I have so enjoyed getting to know you these past two months. You are incredibly sweet. I am not sure there is another word. You have been smiling from the beginning... long before they say you are able to and long before the boys ever did. You have the most precious rasp in your voice when you coo or cry. You sleep great! You are my first baby to sleep through the night this early on... it's not every night, but it is starting to become more nights than not. I have been in shock over having straight sleep. You have helped my survival... and during the day, you sleep so much too. Your awake time is always laid back, hanging out, loving your legs out of your clothes kicking around, and me just protecting you from your brothers, well, from Adam.

I can't wait till you can move around, crawl, talk some... interact more with your brothers.

I love that your daddy has a daughter now. I am loving watching him with you.

You are such a beautiful baby. You are such a chunk. In the 90% for height and 75% for weight at two months, weighing in at a whopping 12 lbs 13oz and your appointment last week. Loving those legs with so many rolls... and that chin, it hangs down.

I hope your eyes stay blue like your brothers' and I pray you keep sleeping well.

I am thrilled to finally have a daughter. It has been like dressing my own little baby doll. You are probably getting annoyed with all the bows, but I have to take advantage before you can remove them yourself.

I love you, Evelyn Rose, my little Ev, my precious Rosey cakes. You, are a beauty. You were beautifully made. Can't wait to tell you all about how much we love you and how much Jesus loves you.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Needing to catch up...

Writing tonight from Patrick's computer. Been having lots of trouble actually getting to a computer these days. Four kids in our home has left time for, well, nothing else. Tonight is the first night Evelyn has gone to sleep before 10.. and usually its more like midnight. It has been a tough transition for sure...

I am going to get caught up now. Stay tuned for blogs about the birth of Evelyn Rose, an update on the boys,  Evelyn's baptism, Easter, my retreat, life in Rhode Island, and my farewell to Nashville...

For now, I will tell you that life here is quite different. It has been very hard, but very good. The good Lord stripped us of all we know and are familiar with and brought us to our knees. We are alone here, managing well, but managing alone. It has been very good. We have more order, less running around, more peace, less distractions from friends, events, parties, and all other things that are good, but distracting.

I have managed to find a few friends, which is refreshing. I am realizing what a gift friendship is. I am realizing how precious it is for a Christian woman to have friends around her for support. Us moms need cheerleaders in our court as we stay at home and struggle to raise these beautiful children and give ourselves in love to our husbands. It is good to have friends who do the same. They are a gift.

All is well with Patrick's job. He is doing well, learning a lot, and working normal hours. It's refreshing. I love seeing him dressed up every morning. I love that we always have dinner together and no one is running out the door. It is all very very good.

Stay tuned... I have so much to write and say... and many pictures.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lent may as well be here...

For me, it is here. My Spirit is already hearing the call to surrender. There are so many things we can give up each year, so many things we can add, so many things we can surrender. I still feel so firm in the case that Fr. Baker made a few years back when I heard him speak at a Lent by Candlelight. The many things God asks of us are so much better than anything we could ever choose for ourself. A hard thing to swallow, but I am finding very true in my day to day life in this moment. I would prefer a thousand fasts over some of the things God is asking of me. The question remains, when next week comes, how will I really give in with my whole heart and joyfully accept these crosses. I just don't know.

We had a good friend, who is consecrated (taking promises of chastity, poverty and obedience), for dinner last week and as we told her about the new lake house Patrick's parents built, we joked about the state of shock Uncle Fr. Eddie is always in when he goes from living in the house of priests to spending a week with his two brothers, sister, their spouses and 11 children combined! He jokes about how he thinks maybe his vocation is "easier" in a sense. I know there are many similarities, but I am not sure easier is the right word when it comes to differences. Anyway, our friend, Lucy, listened and then exclaimed, "OH, absolutely, you have things tougher. You have absolutely no control over anything with these little ones!" (Now, I am still not sure I agree on our vocation being "tougher") but I have been reflecting on the part where we have no control. This is because this is where I struggle most.

Control. Isn't this part of the sin of pride? I'm no theologian, but I think that when we just can't have it all our way, right now, how we want it... and we are totally hating being out of control, that would be our pride?

Here is where I am. I do not want someone to spill their food on the floor after I just swept. I do not want Adam to empty the toilet water with a cup that he found in the bathroom after I just cleaned the toilet. I do not want someone to ask me three times in a row for a snack when I clearly have gloves on and am washing dishes. I do not want to change the 4th poop diaper in 3 hours, especially when I can not easily get down and up off the floor to do it because I am so big. I do not want this crazy heartburn or aching legs or numb back. I certainly don't like getting up to potty 5 times a night. And in the middle of waking and falling back asleep, I certainly do not prefer to be awoken by the child who wets the bed or needs a drink of water. I don't want Adam to pull the bags of snacks out of the drawer and dump them on the ground or bite Anthony and make him cry, so I have to punish him. I just don't want to. I just want the control. It is all so overwhelming and exhausting. All of it.

It is a day in and day out process of learning how to be patient, how to not yell, how to continue to do so many jobs that no one will ever see, and pick up so many messes for the 1st, 2nd, 5th time and still feel I have gotten no where. It is a process of begging for the grace of God to make it through. It is every stay at home mom's cross. When they are so little, we have very little control and hard as we try and as orderly as we push to make it. They are very unpredictable in their moods, their needs and their ages.

It is at this point as I pray that I remember doing something very difficult many years ago. It was a long journey of taking all the sentiment out and just continue with the doing because it was good and right and the grace and or the presence of God may have just not been there in obvious ways to me. My spiritual guide told me, "You wake up, you do these things you're called to (fill in the blank for yourself), and every time, with every small thing, you whisper, 'Lord, I do this because I love you.'"

It is looking at the face of Jesus as He hangs on the cross and knowing that He knows what it feels like to be out of control. He knows what it's like to hand His whole self over to the Lord and trust that He will do what is right with the little we feel we have to offer.... although Jesus loved to the very end.. and we are still so imperfect in ours. So, this is where I find myself. Trying to remember that it has nothing to do with me, but has everything to do with Him.

So, now I start practicing my whisper... "Lord, I do this and everything because I love you." And I remember that He first loved me.

Lent, we are starting to be ready for you. Bring on the Confessional graces.

Friday, February 21, 2014

What does is take?!

I hasn't mattered how hard the pregnancy has been or the trials involved or the pains and sickness that have come; each life has really been so exciting and such an adventure to welcome into this family. It really never gets old. And after being the mom of this particular family for the time I have been, and after being the wife of this particular man for the time I have been, I am even more thrilled to introduce this sweet baby girl to 3 amazing boys and one amazing man. I feel as if I am the luckiest girl in the world already, so I can only imagine how one day she will feel to have these guys in her life.

On that note, I have been reflecting a lot lately on how lucky she will be to have Patrick as a dad. The world has lost focus on training up good men, holy men, and men who are present in the life of their family. I can't explain the peace a mother has to know her child's father is going to be there. I have not experienced the "loss" of a father through neglect or infidelity, or even death, but I have closely seen the way it affects a daughter... and for those daughters, I pray every day.

So, what does it take? A lot of people say that you will marry someone like your father. I certainly did not think that this was the case the day I got married, but I assure you, it is. Let me tell you the qualities and virtues I have experienced that I think are neccesary and priceless... and ones that I had, and my daughter will also have in a father.

One: fidelity. Just recently my mother in law actually said to me, "Your dad just really really loves your mom." And it's true. He does. He has been there, he has been faithful and he has done everything, in my eyes, to please her. From small trips to the grocery store, to taking care of cars, to buying her flowers, to being by her side as she suffered through her OCD. I see it and I hear it in his voice and I always have. He will never leave her. I know for certain there were times when they contemplated how they would be married another day... but, they persevered, side by side. Just as Patrick's promise to me stands true day in and day out, through tired eyes, and endless chores... he always places me first. It is a grace I am learning to never take for granted.

Two: availability. They are always available, even when they are not really. No matter how inconvenient, no matter how tired, no matter how out of the way it is, they are there. Presence when you need it. I still remember when I was teaching and living at home and I had left a huge pile of graded papers next to my bed. I called home in a panic because I needed them... without flinching, my dad said, "I will be right there with them." To have a man be free to help you... and willing without complaint. That's what it takes.

Three: generosity. A heart that gives. Where time is not counted. Where eyes are not rolled. My dad has always tried to help people find jobs. I have seen it more times than I can count. My dad has always had a job... thankfully, but I have really never seen him exhausted from helping another look for work. It is a gift of his because he is SO social and so let's say "well known" that he is able to help people with this often. Patrick is the same way, in that, he sees a need and doesn't hesitate. A generous heart is contagious and to me, the first sign of love.

Four: a sense of humor. My dad is one of the funniest people you will ever meet... obnoxious, yes; loud, yes, but so hilarious. My life has been different because laughter and light heartedness has been a part of it. Although I am not like him in the volume, I know that I am good at telling stories because of him and I know that I like to entertain people because he has always been so good at it. In the same way, Patrick loves to laugh, loves to make me laugh, loves to dance and really, just likes to have a good time... all the time. I also love that he thinks I am hilarious... no really, he does. He thinks I am so funny... so whether it is true or not, I love that someone else lets me make them laugh ;)

Certainly these four characteristics do not make a perfect man, but I think certainly make a man who has what it takes to be a good father. And I think the attentiveness every woman and young girl needs could be found through each of them. There are not many men I have met with all of these, so I find myself in a unique and blessed situation... that I feel has formed me and continues to allow me to be a woman with the dignity I deserve.

On that note, I will end by saying I am thrilled to bring my baby girl home to Patrick... and a lavender room. And Dad, thanks for painting my baby room lavender before mom and you even knew I was a girl!

Praying for daughters and dads everywhere today.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A grateful heart

Something else I would like to teach my kids. I know I have not been perfect in this area and I remember clearly all the times I have not... and if I haven't, I wish I had. I hope that I can teach them the importance of saying thank you... and not just saying it, but meaning it, and having a sincere grateful heart.

The more I get to know Jesus, the more I understand that I deserve nothing. Really. Truly. All I have is a gift. A real true gift. None of it is owed to me. And certainly none of it is deserved. But, a free gift of love and gratitude is priceless, since this is the case.

I was taught to always say thank you. And to always mean it. My parents would wait until I bashfully walked up to both parents who hosted a friend's birthday party to say "thank you" and they made sure I looked any person in the eye who was checking us out at a store and say "thank you" and if I received a gift, we would sit and write out cards to say "thank you."

I am reminded now in my vocation as wife and mother that the people I need to show gratitude the most is my husband, because that in return teaches my children. We are always vocally thanking one another to show them how. I have a close friend who has a great habit of teaching her daughter to thank her daddy for working so hard at work for them. I think it makes a huge impact on those little hearts.

I still could cry because I lost the last page of my wedding gift list and around 20 of the 350 people who gave me wedding gifts did not receive a thank you. It will bother me for a lifetime...beside the point, really, but the nature of me has issue with it.

All this being said, I want to make sure my children know the importance of gratitude. Of sincere gratitude.

Recently we have had a few students withdraw from our school. I have to admit that I am deeply affected when they leave, although I know it is God's will and plan for each family to decide a way of education that is best for them... I still have put so much energy, so many hours of phone calls, so much time away from my family... and I desire so badly for a phone call, a personal thank you from them when they leave. I don't deserve it. It is a selfish desire on my part to think I deserve such a thank you because I have put so much effort into the school. But, then I remember the pure and simple and human side of us... gratitude effects others. It is a sign of love. It is a free gift given. And the human heart appreciates and experiences the love of God through it. Through my personal experience, I see how important it is from the other side.

I am sorry today for the times I have failed in this. In not taking the time to make that personal call, or write that much deserved letter. I feel as if another lost out of the chance to experience the love of God. So, today I am reminded to be a teacher of this by being a doer of this.

I hope this can be a reminder for you as well. Come, Holy Spirit, and remind us when a thank you is due so people can see the face of Christ in us.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

First the man

As I grow older... because, you know, I am so old... I am beginning to realize something of great value and importance. I have run into so many people who are so highly esteemed as "holy" or "very religious" or "very conservative" or something along those lines... but it has occurred to me that they are many times missing something very essential, which is just the bare bones of being a human being, knowing how to react, how to deal, and how to speak with and treat others.

It has been said, "First the man, then the saint" and I am finding this more and more true. You must first work so hard on your human character before really achieving the many virtues you would like. (although, yes they are tied together in many ways). I am looking first to myself for this... where am I lacking? I cannot in fact teach my children how to be patient, humble, loving or kind without some basic qualities sewn in them. They need to know how to have tact, how to use the right words to respond, how to react to when they are angry, how to avoid being rude, how to shake someone's hand or look someone in the eye when speaking to them.

Deeper virtue comes later. It is first simple and very human. Being a saint, yes, a goal, but being able to attract people to yourself so they may find Christ there... very human.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Remembering my marriage

When all the outside noise is stripped away, I am reminded of my marriage. Even though we generally fall asleep in conversation at night because we are both so wiped out... it is refreshing in a sense to be wiped out together.

Although I am sure this move is one of the many struggles we will bear together, I am discovering a bit of newness in us. We stayed up till midnight the other night just talking. We actually did not fall asleep. I had no work to do for a retreat or emails to answer for the school. We had managed to actually finish dishes before 10pm and we just sat and talked. I was reminded of the blessing of my marriage. I pray I always remember it. The gift that God granted us in one another... and that we will journey together till the end... in lots of good times and lots of bad. We have to hang on to those good... those sweet times, so we can make it through the tough ones. It was amazing how such a great time the night before really got me through my next day, as terrible as it was.

If nothing else makes sense right now, Patrick does. He is there every day, encouraging me, folding laundry, doing dishes, loving on our boys, having sincere conversation with each of us. He tries so hard to be so good and do his "duty" as a husband and father. We all need a rock. Of course, the Lord is always my rock, but He also provided me with Patrick... so I'll take him as my rock too. I am grateful for a new season we have now to discover one another in a different light... new home, new town, new baby... and more time (if you can imagine 4 kids giving you more time).

Grateful today for my groom.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

A big change, but I am sure with lots of graces

Are we settled? Of course not. But, we have a working kitchen and the boys' room is good to go... for now, it's letting us get by. Beds to sleep in and a place to cook seems to be the survival needs of a family with 3 small children (and a hungry pregnant mommy!)

It has been a really tough few months for sure. The toughest I have ever had actually. Between being pregnant, saying good-bye and all the physical demands of packing and unpacking a home has been... well, quite demanding to say the least. I finally realized I was low on iron, which has helped a ton, but I am still exhausted. I think I will be... for at least the next 6 months. We have a new baby coming too.

Two days ago at Mass, I so appreciated the consolation Christ gave me in the homily. The priest began something like this... "What if you were able to pick up and leave everything behind? A new beginning. No one would know you, you wouldn't have the demands you use to have, you would have a clean slate. It would be just you and God. How would you feel? How would you handle it? Wouldn't it be such a grace? To leave everything behind and let Him mold you even further into who you were suppose to be?" A coincidence. I think not. As the last lonely week went by, I continued to wonder why I am here in such a small town, a small state, with no friends, and for the most part... with nothing. He tugged at my heart for the past few days as I have reflected on these words....

For the homily, the words led him to speak of the apostles leaving everything to follow Jesus... their livelihood, their families, everything that was normal to them... it was all to follow Jesus. It was to fulfill in such a deeper way the vocation they were being called to. So, this is where I find myself. Much of me could be dramatic and look at this move has a loss, a huge tragedy. Then I am reminded of my eternal goals... to fulfill my vocation, as wife first and then mother. I had lost track of them in Nashville. I was strung out and pulled thin by everything and everyone, all which were good, but all which were less important.

Already in the large amounts of silence and less distraction I have seen my family like I have not before. I have a ways to go with this, so I will share more later in that area. It has only been a week. But, I can already tell the attentiveness that was needed that I did not provide... to my husband and my children.

Please pray for me. I am feeling extra lonely. It has occurred to me that the phrase "Never alone, but very lonely" can fit well for a stay at home mom. I need prayers for trusting in God's continued work in me... to always be growing better and to be aware of this journey as a gift.