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A year ago yesterday I fell on my knees in this spot, before Our Lord in the Eucharist, for the first of many times.  As a missionary sang “This Is My Desire” – the song that the Holy Spirit had played over and over in my head that entire day – I wept in front of the altar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and surrendered all of me to His use for the Kingdom.  I had no clue what that would mean for the next year.  What an amazing year it has been.  Fiat!

Mary in a Martha World: Busyness – the 21st century mom’s golden calf

I actually wrote this yesterday, October 7th, and then read the gospel reading for yesterday – Luke 10:38-42:
     Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house.  And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.  But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”  But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things;  one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”

To moms today, even stay-at-home-moms, we seem to strive for busyness.  It almost becomes a competition – “I have only been home 30 minutes all day, had time for one potty break, and ate one Oreo for lunch.”  And the rebuttal – “Oh yeah?  Well I only slept one hour last night, been on the run since 4:15am, and won’t even be able to check the 1,017 text messages I got today until 10:26pm when my last kid finishes his homework and I can finally brush my hair!”  I admit it, I’ve said something similar to both of those!

Does living in chaos make us better moms?  On the contrary, we set the tone for our homes!  Wondering why your 10 year old can’t focus on what you’re telling her for more than 30 seconds?  You’re fostering a sense of chaos in your home.  Just like having piles of papers (even if they ARE artwork that Johnnie made in school) seems to breed more clutter, so, too, does our chicken-with-it’s-head-cut-off schedule breed the opposite of the peaceful, calm, warm, and welcoming home we want for our husbands and children.

Somehow busyness makes us feel more important, too; seemingly equal to how worthy we are.  I know that I feel a constant need to prove, by showing how busy I am, that there is a need for a homemaker and that it’s a valuable position to have.  But that’s just appearances.  Wouldn’t our role as keepers of the home be more valuable if we were able to provide a reprieve for our families?  When they come home from the demands of work and school, the constant requests for them to do more, more, more, more, isn’t that what they deserve to retreat to?

The evil one loves to try to keep us busy with good things, too!  After all, if you are so busy running off music for the choir, finding a craft for your religious ed class, serving on several committees as well as the council at your children’s schools, how much time are you going to have to spend with God in prayer, in scripture, in Adoration? (hear me out here, not saying we shouldn’t be involved, but we need to learn to say no)

Just like Martha in today’s gospel reading, Jesus is telling us to stop with the busy work and sit down with Him, rest in His presence, lean up against Him and feel His heartbeat.  I’m making a move today to simplify my schedule, to do whatever it takes every.single.day to spend time with Him, my first and purest Love.  How about you?

Living sanctuary…..

It’s been a crazy, blessed, busy summer!

In June, on Pentecost, our two oldest children (Peyton, 14, and Jazlyn, 11) made their profession of faith, were received into the Church, and received their First Holy Communion!

In July, Peyton and I had the privilege of participating in Prayer and Action – a week-long mission within our diocese with teens from other parishes.  I went without expectation and ended up profoundly moved!  It seems selfish to have gone to serve others and somehow received so much.  I would live P&A year-round if I could!  We got a lot done in the little town of Belleville during our week there, and I know the other weeks did too!

Last week I went on a 4 day hermitage at the base of the Rocky Mountains (just enough to be out of the city, not enough to get nauseous while driving up the mountain).

 
I’ve been trying to not keep God in my little box (aka not have expectations) but wowsers did I not expect the hermitage to go as it did 🙂  I will spare you details, though, and instead share some reflections that I journaled while I was there.

DSC_3916     During the night last night, I was given Psalm 96 to read.  When I read it this morning, verse 6 struck me:

Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

You’re familiar with the song “Sanctuary” right?  “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.  With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”  Beautiful song!  While we were at Prayer and Action we sang that, a capella, during communion every morning at Mass.  While I’ve known the song for many years, that was the first time I’d sung or heard it since my conversion, and my heart melted.

As Catholics He truly does call us to be a living sanctuary for Him – after all, we receive Him – body, blood, soul, and divinity – in the Eucharist.  Outside of death, we cannot get any closer to our Lord and Savior than when He enters us in communion.  At that time, we come into union with Him and we truly are His sanctuary, acquiring the strength and beauty written in Psalm 96:6.

Lord thank you for calling me to holiness, for purifying my heart, for making me transparent, and firm in my love for you, that I may be, with thanksgiving, a living sanctuary for YOU!

Peace like a river?

You know that hymn “I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul!”, right?  When Peyton, our oldest, was a baby, I had a home daycare.  One of the little guys (then 3) I watched was such a ham!  He was playing one day singing a song, so I asked what he was singing.  “I’m singing the song that was in church!!!  ‘Police lying in the river, I’ve got police lying in the river……….'”  LOL!!!   Still makes me chuckle 😉

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As I was lifting up many loved ones that are seeking the Lord’s peace, that hymn went through my mind.  Peace flowing like a river………….

 

How many times have we prayed for His peace to be upon us?  If you’re anything like me, it’s a lot!  But perhaps we’re blocking it – being the dam, if you will.  We dam it up by living a lifestyle of sin, being full of pride (trying to fix everything ourselves), conforming to the patterns of the world (do we enroll our kids in every activity to “keep up with the Joneses”?),  making ourselves too busy to spend ample time with Him daily, being disobedient, avoiding confession (this could also fall into the pride category!) or not being repentant.  That’s just a few of the things that came to mind anyway.

 

Are you seeking His peace?  Ask God to reveal to you what’s keeping that river from flowing into and through you.  He’ll tell you – question is, are you willing to listen and then act on it?

 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:27
photo credit: batintherain via photopin cc

But we were not created for comfort……….

I found it interesting, as I came to write this post, that I tend to write when something is really bothering me.  It’s like I have too many thoughts swirling around in my head, and I can’t just choose one and focus on it for a minute.  Kind of like an out-of-control merry-go-round that’s going so fast you can’t really see what any of the animals look like, much less take it in and look at another.

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Anyway………..

Lots of good and some not-so-good things have happened in our house over the last year.  Talk about learning to praise Him through the storm!  When I look over all of the events, I KNOW without a doubt that it was HIS strength, not mine, that put one foot in front of the other.  My ‘theme verse” last year was 2 Corinthians 12:9:

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

It rang true in ever turn, every event that took place in 2013.  You can imagine how excited I was then when, in November, God gave me Isaiah 61 for 2014 – those are HIS promises to be fulfilled in my life this year.  And there are times that all I can do is cling to them (and thus to Him).  Promises to restore, to reconcile, to repay, to comfort, to build up.  (Go read it if you haven’t for awhile – how encouraging would it be to know that God had that in store for your life this year?)

 

Part of Isaiah 61, though, is about the anointing from God to do great works for His kingdom.  See, not only was I to receive all of those promises, but I’m also to help minister them as well.  Anyone that’s been “all in” for the kingdom knows that God doesn’t, not once, call us to be comfortable – we’re to take up our cross daily and follow Him, or we are not worthy of Him.

 

and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Matthew 10:38

 

God’s calling me to do some difficult things right now for His kingdom.  I wouldn’t be honest (or human) if I said there wasn’t a tiny corner in me that wants to just run the other direction.  But I’m not in this for me.  I’m in this for Him.  I’m in this because He loves me.  I’m in this because I can’t bear to see the sight of Jesus being scourged and think for a second that God wouldn’t call me to hard things if He sent His Son to endure His Passion for me.

 

But we were not created for comfort, but for greatness.”- Pope Saint Benedict XVI

 
photo credit: Leshaines123 via photopin cc

20 Things That Make Me Happy!!!

Yesterday I was tagged by my girl Cristina @ Filling My Prayer Closet to share 20 things that make me HAPPY! 🙂  In true Monday fashion, yesterday didn’t go as planned, so it’s happening today!  In no particular order:

1) My babies’ laughter.  Y’all know, there’s just nothing like it.  Check out this video my girls made not long ago, one singing/videoing, the other lip syncing, and tell me you don’t laugh!

 

2) Kansas sunsets.  Seriously guys, nothing beats them.  After the chaos that ensued yesterday I noticed that a beauty was brewing, so I hopped in the van – by myself – drove a few miles out into the country and just marveled in the beauty that He lays before us.

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3) A clean kitchen.  Not that I allow myself that luxury much, but gosh it makes my heart sing when the dishes are done, the sink is shining, the counters are cleared and clean, the floor is as clean as a floor can with 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a husband………..it actually makes me want to be in there and cook!  Hmmmmm, maybe I should do that more often 😉

4) Our small group.  We have a group of mature charistmatic Catholics that we fellowship with each week and I am so thankful for them!  We just finished up a 16 week study on the Holy Spirit, led by a lay missionary.  Even our kiddos look forward to gathering (and they’re the only kids! lol).

5) This little town of Goodland.  Sometimes small towns can be annoying – extremely limited shopping, everyone knows your business, etc – but raising our kids in the same town we were raised in makes me happy.  We’ve gotten calls in the morning of “did you know your son was walking to school without his backpack?” and “your dogs wandered to our house, the kids are playing with them until you get here” and “just wanted to let you know that your dome light was still on”.  It’s like one big family!  I don’t worry when my (then) 6 year old has taken a detour on her way to the bathroom at the county fair – not only does most of the town know her, who she belongs to, and where she should/shouldn’t be, but I can go up to the sheriff (who’s in the above mentioned small group), tell him I can’t find her, and he’ll put it out on their radio and they all know who they’re looking for too.  I love that some of my kids’ teachers were our teachers too!  Not sure our son loves that (I was an honor student, he could care less what his grades are) but hey, it’s all good 😉

6)Morning drink stop and happy hour at Sonic!  We just got a new Sonic in our little town in May, and it’s awesome!  My favorite – watermelon with nerds slush!!!  Kid at heart?

7)Going thrifting.  Nothing like a trip to Denver where I can choose from lots of Goodwill stores and my newer favorite, Unique Thrift Store!  It’s almost like a game to see what awesome outfits you can put together for a few bucks.  Even more thrilling when I can get the kids set with school clothes – many still with tags on them from Unique – for under $100 each (except shoes, my kids have big feet – not many used size 13s for men and 11.5 for women that’s acceptable for preteen and teen).

8)Not a surprise after #7, I really really really like old doors (you know the 5 paneled type), old windows, and well, mostly anything old enough.  Old homes with original hardwood floors, wood trim.  Old tin ceilings.  Anything chippy, with years of character and my heart beats a little faster.

9)New babies.  Some friends of ours just had a new baby girl a couple weeks ago.  I had to keep myself from walking to the hospital all the time (I can see the hospital from my back door – 1/2 block away).  Pretty sure mom wondered if I was going to give her back 😉  Their smell, their fusses, the noises and squeaks they make when they sleep.  *sigh*   Also makes me heart ache a tad, but that’s another story for another day.

10)July 4th.  And not just because it’s coming up this week.  We live just a few blocks from where they shoot the big show from, so we gather friends and family and set up lawn chairs in our front yard to watch.  We usually have some yummy goodies too – homemade ice cream, coconut cream pie, and chocolate cream pie to name a few 😉  It’s nice to watch the show, listen to the kids ooh and aah, visit with my parents, and enjoy the freedom that we’re celebrating!

11)Sharing my conversion story.  Especially my cradle friends love to hear about how the Holy Spirit guided me into the truths.  And how some of the things I’ve believed all along were stepping stones to completely line up with the Church.

12)And others’ conversion stories too!  Watching the Journey Home gets me all sorts of excited again!!

13)Getting random text pics from my sister-in-law of my nephews 🙂
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14)New opportunities.  Some friends of ours that moved a couple years ago have asked me to be their “property manager” for the house they still own here.  Always fun to learn something new (and contribute tangibly to the budget)!

15)Silence.  I’m talking like no fans running, no dishwasher going, nothing.  A VERY rare occurrence here, but it makes me happy when it does happen!

16)The smell of clothes dried on the line.  Not sure if it really does smell that awesome or if it’s just because it reminds me of the cardboard-like towels we had to dry off with when we spent summers at my grandparents.  Either way!

17)Football!!!  Ok, not so much NFL, but I LOVE watching our son play football!  Yes, I’m THAT mom – the one that paces, the one that can’t sit down, the one that cheers so much she nearly looses her voice.  Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader!

18)When said son’s neurologist says let’s wean off of another med!  Peyton had a 4 month, still unexplained, 8-9 out of 10 on the pain scale, divinely healed “headache” that cut his football season short last year and consumed our holidays.  I’ll write on that another time, but it makes me super happy to see his med list dwindle!

19)All of my cyber sisters.  It always amazes me the relationships that can be developed and nurtured through the internet!  Love you all!!!

20)When God sends me to minister to someone.  We spent a lot of time at Children’s Hospital through Peyton’s ordeal.  We got to visit, love on, and minister to people that were in a lot worse situations that us.  Getting to spread His love is something I never tire of 🙂

So there ya have it folks!  My list of 20 things that makes me happy!

I’m passing the torch and tagging Jaime @ The Fruitful Mama!

I come not to bring peace, but a sword…….

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I have been blessed with some of the most Godly, holy, on-the-road-to-sainthood, all-in-for-Our-Father’s-Kingdom mentors.  Not only were they instrumental in my conversion, but they’ve become family – they’ve bore some of my hurt, pulled me back up when I’ve fallen, given me ever-so-gentle shoves to get outside of my box, and always given me Godly advice – I am so thankful that God has placed these people in my life

Early in my “official” conversion (aka I was already Catholic in my heart, but it was time to make it visible, official, which meant discussing it with those I love), I received some of the most harsh persecution from someone I loved and respected very much.  It hurt horribly and damaged the relationship, maybe permanently.  As I spoke with one of my mentors about this, he gave me scripture that I didn’t recall ever seeing before:

 
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law;  and a man’s foes will be those of his own household.  He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” Matthew 10:34-37 RSV

 

We are not to put any relationship before God.  If we lean on others more than we lean on Him, He will cut that relationship.  Sometimes it’s done easily – someone moves and our lives move different directions.  Sometimes it’s hard like the situation I mentioned earlier.

I tend to get lonely as a stay-at-home mom.  In that loneliness I find myself reaching out to others – sometimes just to say hi, sometimes for fellowship, sometimes for support in life issues, sometimes simply to have adult conversation sans teenage logic!  But God continues to remind me to seek Him instead.  Seek Him when I feel alone and abandoned.  Seek Him when I want to scream and pull my hair out.  Seek Him when I hurt.  Seek Him when I see Him transforming the heart of my husband.  Seek Him when I see my children growing in their love for Him.  Seek Him when I see His little smiles throughout the day.  Quit running to tell others about what’s going on – share it with Him.