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New Beginnings – Finding Peace & Holiness in a New Normal

Life. Like any other living thing, people grow. We change, we adapt. Whether tip-toeing or running, we move forward. Friends come and go. Life circumstances change, whether we like it or not.

I’m finding that, while I can’t stop the change, I can change how I react to it. And it hasn’t always been a smooth road.

When I was in college, I went to Mass almost daily. Mass was the cornerstone of my spiritual life! I prayed the rosary privately much more often, I went to Bible studies, spent hours in Adoration… But with two small people in my life now, holiness doesn’t look like that anymore. And it’s left me feeling pretty dry, and searching for a new way to connect with God that complements my family’s needs and doesn’t take me away when I’m needed at home. I know some moms are the super-disciplined type who make the sacrifice to get up before their kiddos and have a quiet “God time” in the morning. I’ve never been one to spring out of bed in the morning, so sometimes getting up with the kids are calling for me is still hard.

I’ve bugged God more than once about this, and His answers are always interrupted by a cry for “MAMA!” issuing from a tiny human Ben and I made. So, disgruntled, I mentally put God on hold, and see to what is needed.

Need. I seem to be using that word a lot. My husband has needs. My daughters have needs. My house has needs. There is laundry, diapers, picking up, planning, organizing, more laundry, more diapers…. And for some strange reason, in the midst of ALL OF THAT, people still expect three meals a day! (Any other moms feel like they live in the kitchen?) And, as I keep reminding myself, I only have TWO littles! Many moms I admire have five, seven, eight, eleven children. So many needs…

The other night, I was walking my 6.5 month old to sleep. She loves the dark, so I threw a blanket over her, turned off all the lights, and started the nightly pacing back and forth and back and forth until she sleeps. As I started the sojourn across the living room, I had a funny feeling that it would take three “laps” and she’d be asleep. Oh cool! I thought. Maybe that’s God telling me! We’ll see… and off we went. Nope, three laps later she was still wiggling. It took well over a dozen laps before she was peacefully slumbering. Oh well. Must have been my imagination. I dismissed the thought as silliness. The next night at the same time the thought returned, and I pondered the seemingly inconsequential idea as I paced the room. When E was finally asleep 14 laps later, it occurred to me that three is a Holy number. Three Persons in the Blessed Trinity. Three days Christ spent in the tomb. Three is often used in Scripture to point to the Divine.

I believe God put that little thought in my head to show me where to find Him. While it’s true I can’t get to daily Mass as often as I’d like (and have two precious interruptions with me when I do go!), or spend the time in Adoration I used to, He is still providing access to Himself. My holiness is now in my family. I’m worshiping God as I walk my baby to sleep.

(Of course I don’t mean this to say I don’t need to make time for personal prayer or Mass isn’t a priority anymore! Only that the ways I’d looked for God before have grown, and my own understanding of my Vocation as wife and mother is maturing.)

There’s a line from a musical that always tugs at my heartstrings – “To love another person is to see the face of God.” I’m blessed to see the Face of God in little grins, slobbery kisses, grubby fingers, childish interests… and what’s more, I get to BE the Face of God to my girls. As their mother, I am the very first experience of love they have. Through me and Ben, they’ll have their first experiences with love, affection, trust, and security. They’ll learn what it means to be a part of a family. Through that, they’ll meet God, and learn of His love. I get to be a conduit for God to touch my child. And THAT is pretty stinkin’ sweet.

I think I like my new normal. It’s sure different than my college days, or even my days of teaching fulltime. But there is Peace here. Peace that God is here with me, and that I’m doing alright. Holiness may look different, but it’s still awesome.

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Since it’s been a while since I last posted, here follows a brief life update for those interested.

I got married to a wonderful man August 15, 2015 (Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven – Yes, on purpose!) by the name of Benjamin. God took us on a roller coaster of a journey to get to the Altar, and I’ll type up a post on that some day to post on here. I feel a picture is called for so here you are:

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Ahh, he’s so handsome.

We got pregnant on our honeymoon and our daughter was born at a planned home birth May 13, 2016. I will type up her birth story eventually! Picture:

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Zélie – 8 lbs. 2oz., 21 inches long

We love having babies and didn’t waste any time in giving Z a little sister. Our second daughter was also a planned home birth on August 29, 2017. Her birth story is also forthcoming. She and Z are 15 months apart. Picture:

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Ellie – 9lbs. 2 oz., 21 inches long – Those cheeks though!

My family and I still live in the town where I grew up in East Texas.

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My girls and I <3

 

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Hail Mary Series (Part 9 of 10) – Now, And At The Hour Of Our Death

    At what point during a good football or basketball game is every viewer inseparable from the TV? When do the runners in a race push the hardest to get to the finish line first?

    At the end.

    Some men and women strive to live lives of faith only to fall into despair at the end… and other have lived lives of great sin and then, right at the end, run to the Lord. (Repentant thief crucified with Jesus much?)

    St. Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 9 that we “run so as to win” and that he himself would “drive [his] body and train it, that lest after having preached to others, [he himself] would be disqualified.”

    So, obviously, the end of our life is a big deal. It can, literally, make or break eternity. While it is of great importance to live a holy and pleasing life, our sweet mother Mary knows that right there at the end – the vital moment – is when the Devil jumps in to try one last time to snatch a soul out of heaven. That is why in each and every “Hail Mary” we offer to our mother, we beg for her prayers in those last minutes of our earthly lives. We all know that someday we will breathe our last, our soul will continue on without the body, and our mother will be there to take us by the hand and lead us into the arms of her Son.

    The Devil is afraid of Mother Mary because she loves the Lord so much, because she is so humble, and because her prayers steal so many souls out of the very jaws of Hell.

    Remember this plea you make each time you hail your mother, and be confidant that she will answer it with such abundant prayer, love, and all of her mother’s heart.

 

 

 

 

          Mater Dei, ora pro nobis!!! 

Stay Calm and Be Still

Silence.

It can very intimidating, unnerving, and even downright scary.

Why?

We need and desire to be close to Christ, especially during Lent, correct? Where is Christ found? Scripture tell us He can be heard in the “gentle movement of the wind.” So basically, in silence.

The devil does not want us to be close to Christ AT ALL, so what does he do? Noise. Activity. Constant motion. Never slowing, always racing, always something to keep us busy. He tries to block out that Gentle Wind carrying the Voice we need so badly to hear.

Because we are bombarded with commotion constantly, and are in fact quite used to it, it is difficult to adapt to silence. If you don’t believe me, just go sit in Eucharistic Adoration for 10 minutes, and just see how distracted you get!

We must soldier a war on constant noise, stimulation, and activity. None of these things are bad in themselves, but like anything else, without carefully imposed moderation, it can rage out of control and cause more harm than good.

Is noise really THAT harmful? Not being able to hear the Voice of God is harmful, yes.

During this Lent, set aside time each day to be silent and listen to God. If it’s a struggle, ask His Blessed Mother to help you make more room in your heart for silence so you can hear the Voice of her Son. Once your heart is quiet, calm, and open, the Voice your soul longs to hear can be heard.

“Be still and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

Lent, Suffering, and Sunglasses

It’s that time of year again. Half of the Catholic world is off Facebook (I’m not), offering up creamer in their coffee (I’m not), and avoiding chocolate like the plague (I’m trying to!).

But why?

I recall several Lents ago, I was struggling with simply offering up sweets, and being tempted by things I’m NOT usually tempted by, like over-priced peanut M&Ms in a vending machine in the cafeteria at my junior college.

Why is this even a big deal?! I’d mentally ask myself as I sulked away without my treat. Chocolate is not evil!!!

No, chocolate is not evil. Neither is coffee creamer or Facebook. But what I began to understand that day is that the point of giving up something is not because the thing is bad, but because it IS good. Any woman will testify to the positive qualities of chocolate, but the positive qualities of GOD far outweigh anything chocolate can offer. By detaching from a lesser good, it allows me to refocus myself, my wants, and my purpose on THE Good.

This process takes a while though, I’ve noticed, and I always have to deal with a lot of incidents like my vending machine story. The harder I try to forsake an attachment to something, the more I see it, and the more I want it!

It is in THOSE moments that the true purpose of Lent is made manifest. That struggle to say no (or say yes, if you took on extras for Lent instead of giving something up) is what wins ground in your soul for Christ. It is a battle, and the struggles I’m facing to keep up my Lenten resolutions are the weapons in my hands. It takes strength to fight, and it’s often unpleasant. That’s ok. The suffering will pale in comparison to the glory.

My mom used to share a quote by William Penn when I was down in the Lenten Dumps: “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory; no cross, no crown.”

Christ lived it; so must I.

I was driving home from work one day, and as is typical of 5pm that time of year, the sun was right in my eyes. Annoyed, I felt around for my sunglasses, trying to keep my eyes on the road. The thought occurred to me (from my guardian angel no doubt, I don’t have such pious thoughts on my own) “why don’t you offer the discomfort of the sun in your eyes for the Poor Souls in Purgatory?”

I knew about those Poor Souls; the aching, yearning, pleading for Heaven. They’re so close they can almost taste it, but must remain outside until their souls are fit for Paradise. My heart always goes out to them when I think of them, and this blinding drive home from work was no exception. Just as I steeled my will to offer my minor suffering for my friends in limbo, my fumbling hand located the delinquent sunglasses. After thinking for a second, I left them were they were, and stared into the glare of my windshield as I drove home. All of a sudden, my suffering had a purpose. There was MEANING in it. I didn’t just accept suffering, I wanted to suffer; not for me, for them, so they could go Home.

Then it clicked: The Cross. THAT is how Jesus was able to suffer. He was thinking about me. That gave Him the strength to press on, to bleed, to languish, and to die. For me. So I could go Home.

Remember the cross when the chocolate cravings come rushing in, and Jesus did it for YOU. Find a purpose for your suffering, and love like Christ.

Have a Blessed Lent!

“Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me.” Matthew 16:24

How Much Does He Love You? – Good Friday

Two summers ago, when working at The Pines Catholic Camp, I received a beautiful gift and grace from God that affirmed and confirmed my belief in Jesus’ presence in the Holy Eucharist. I was at a daily Mass one evening, and when I went up to receive the Precious Blood, I couldn’t see anything in the Chalice – the inside of the chalices at camp are gold-ish, and white wine had been consecrated. Thinking that, as had been the case the two daily Masses previous, only a tiny bit of the Precious Blood was left, I started tilting it before the whole weight was in my hand. It was full to the brim.

I spilled His Blood. It got on my face… on the floor… later I noticed a huge splotch on my t-shirt (which, ironically, had a Monstrance on it with the word Eucharist… God has a sense of humor!). I didn’t know what to do…

My mind filled with stories I’d read about when the Eucharist had fallen on the floor and how it was mourned, reverenced… Later, the Extraordinary Minister came to me. He saw I was very upset, and tried to calm me down, telling me I was alright; it wasn’t a sin – only an accident that could have happened to anyone. He told me to change shirts and rinse this one at an outside faucet, so the Savior’s Blood would run into the earth. I did as he said, and later the priest found me outside at the faucet washing my shirt with water and tears.

His compassion was that of a saint. He gently put his hand on my shoulder and asked me, “How much does He love you?”

All I could think to say was, “Enough to spill His Blood for me.”

Father smiled, and nodded.

Many weeks later, I was looking at a crucifix and thinking about that day. My own devotion to Mary had been growing in those weeks, and as I thought of her standing at the foot of the Cross with her Son, another image came to me. Up until this point, I’d always thought of myself as standing at a distance and watching her watching Jesus die. This time, though, she reached out for me, and brought me to the foot of the Cross with her. Looking up at Christ, His Precious Blood streamed down his legs and feet, and dripped off onto His holy mother’s face and clothes. This time, though, I was standing with her, and His Blood fell on me, too.

I came to realize many profound things from that one night in the humble Chapel at camp. Not only had Mary invited me deeper into the Passion of her Son as her companion, she had allowed me to share in her sorrow at the death of her Son. When I tilted that little chalice a bit too far, Jesus invited me deeper into the mystery of His Presence on the Blessed Sacrament. I spilled His Blood. It was my sins that sent Him to the Cross, but He also gave me a tangible experience that brought me to a much deeper love and appreciation for His Love and Sacrifice.

Oh Sacrament most Holy, oh Sacrament Devine, all Praise and all Thanksgiving be every moment Thine!

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