BIS Devotion: You Are Set Free of Your Infirmity

I was blessed to write the devotion on today’s daily Mass readings for Blessed is She.

The ability to call God, “Abba, Father!” has been a very sweet thing for me in my life as I look back at the way our Heavenly Father has carried me ever closer to Him even when I have been the little lost sheep forgetful of His care. He has freed me from so many spiritual infirmities and I know that He will continue to do so as long as I stay close to Him. But even when I do turn away, He is always there waiting for me, pursuing me with His everlasting love.

https://blessedisshe.net/devotion/you-are-set-free-of-your-infirmity/

Check out my “mini-conversion-story” over at BIS!

NCRegister Blog: Giving Generously In Motherhood Will Not Leave You Empty

A mother makes a sacrifice of many things when she chooses to give her body and life to her children, and the reality is that the evil one wants to make us mothers regret this sacrifice every single day. He wants us to regret that we have to give ourselves in care of our children, to think we are wasting our time and gifts, instead of seeing that motherhood is a beautiful opportunity to give ourselves to another human being in a way that can save our souls. He wants us to think that when we give of ourselves to our children that we will have nothing left for anyone else—that we will be left empty. One of the balms to heal us mothers of this regret and fear is to ask God to help us grow in the virtue of generosity and to show us how he wants us to serve him in our lives…

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

Nine Years Ago…

I married him nine years ago on a hot, sunny, June day in St. Louis. We were surrounded by our family and friends who traveled from across the country to witness our Sacrament together. I did this walk down memory lane two years ago in which I highlighted our first seven years of marriage. So, I am going to go ahead and just cover the last two years.

On the way to Idaho.

Year Eight: Our eighth year of marriage began shortly after the birth of T, who turned out to be the most difficult infant of our marriage in that he is still a light sleeper and cut eight teeth between the age of 3 and 8 months. There were so many sleepless nights. During the day though, he was pretty happy. We took a trip to Idaho with newborn T for a philosophy conference–I read Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollope and the professor discussed the interim state. In the school year, I still managed to teach first grade to G and keep the other kids happy. I think that we started to find a good rhythm. The professor still thrived as a young professor. In the Spring I was asked to start blogging at the National Catholic Register, which has been a blessing and honor to be able to do. The Spring also brought my most tragical (I spelled that this way on purpose) fall down the basement stairs and a three month concussion recovery. G made her first Reconciliation and First Communion.

Photo by G–the other girls were not impressed with Steubenville’s campus.

Year Nine: This last year has been wonderful. Perhaps it has been because our oldest has reached the magic age of seven. We are only 6 months from having another child older than seven. It also could be because T finally reached the age of one–that second year is one of my favorite for babies. We set a goal of no ER visits this year, and we have made it. Hopefully we can go another year sans the ER (though we almost went a couple of weeks ago when I had two kids with fevers at 104°F). We had a fun trip in the summer with our closest college friends and all of our children, including a brief stop at Steubenville. The professor and I explored a variety of new cocktails together, and started a new project of watching all of Shakespeare’s plays (we are doing this mostly in one hour segments with BBC Television Shakespeare which is available streaming through the professor’s university library). This has been quite fun. The professor is getting geared up for his tenure review, gave his first key-note talk at a conference, and is planning a book. I have been reading the Summa Theologiae, writing, theological editing for Blessed is She, and hope to throw together a written Bible study in my spare time. The rest of my time has been spent home schooling second grade, kindergarten, and pre-K, and discovering the joys of having a toddler boy. Our lives our full, and I think we are growing in love and devotion to God daily.

I am learning daily about how raising children and living in marriage is a vocation because it is leading to my sanctification, that of my husband’s, and for the sake of my children to become holy as well. That is what this life is about; that is the end for which we are created. This sacrament of matrimony is about being called to holiness and loving God through our sacrifices and acts of love for each other. That is what we are striving to do, calling each other out in, and falling on God’s mercy and grace time after time, because try as we might, we cannot do this without Him. I can’t believe we are just one year shy of a decade… but here we are living on a prayer under the mercy.

Happy Anniversary to the love of my life!

NCRegister: Learning to Live the Messages of Fatima

It was sweltering in the train compartment I shared with my travel companions the night 12 years ago that we traveled into Fatima, Portugal, and every stop ended my feeble attempts at sleep because, as far as I could tell, people don’t sleep at night in Spain. What was supposed to be 40 hours straight on trains from Gaming, Austria to Fatima had turned into three nights on trains interrupted by a day sightseeing in Paris and a day on the beach in San Sebastian, Spain. And while the unexpected breaks from travel were fun, the fact that I could not sleep on trains was a problem. So, by the time I got to Fatima, I was exhausted…

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…

A Song for St. Joseph the Worker

While my husband labors today at his trade of sharing the love of wisdom, I have been doing my normal work of home schooling the kids and doing some writing. Well this morning, on this feast of St. Joseph the Worker, I was flipping through this sweet little book, We Sing and Listen (affliate link alert…thanks for using it!) from Seton Books that I picked up in our home school co-op’s book sale last week. It has sweet pious little songs about the liturgical year, and I found this gem to sing with the kids for today:

Dear St. Joseph, kind and true,
I have lessons I must do.
They are for your Foster Son.
Help me till the work is done.

You who taught our Lord a trade,
Showed Him how a chair is made,
Do not fail to answer me,
Dearest saint, my helper be
.

Ever since I went on my silent retreat during Lent, I have been trying to be intentional about fostering a deeper love in myself and in the children for God and the saints, and it occurred to me that these pious simple songs, sung well are so helpful in doing that.

I want the children to know how to love God and to know how to help themselves love God. Charity (God’s own love), while an infused theological virtue that He gives us for others, also requires effort on our part. We must want to love Him, and ask Him to help us love others. And here on this feast of St. Joseph the Worker, we can ask just that of St. Joseph.

Happy Feast!

My 7 Rules for Myself for Outings with the Kids

 I have a good friend who goes on what it seems like four outings a day with her kids ranging from play dates, to grocery shopping, to a museum, and finishing it off with the arboretum or zoo. We have her over for a morning play date and she has been somewhere already. She heads out for a big grocery shopping trip when she leaves our house. And she seems to draw energy from this–it is fun for her!

I think I must be her opposite. One outing, about 90 minutes long is fun for me, any longer than that, and things start to fall apart. But as it happens the outing are always longer than 90 minutes. Most place we go to it takes a full 30 minutes to get from the driveway, park the car, and get into the door of whatever place (unless it is the grocery store…). Yet, I have learned over the years, if I am going to take four kids on a long outing parenting solo, be it a friend’s house, museum, zoo, home school co-op, orchestra, well-visit with the pediatrician, OB visit (when I am pregnant) etc. I have to do several things to keep myself sane.

Here are my seven rules for myself when I go on outings with kids, and I am linking them up with Kelly’s seven quick takes!

1. The outing is the only special thing we do that day. The rest of the day is normal life. We get up at the same time, eat breakfast at the same time, do our outing, come home fed or before lunch, I coerce the people into their naps and quiet times, and then just savor the afternoon quiet…and then start dinner too late because I am wiped.

2. Bring the right stroller or baby carrier. The doctor’s office requires an umbrella stroller for strapping the toddler into when necessary. The zoo requires the double stroller so that the toddler can’t get away and for a tired kid to ride when necessary. The art museum does best with a single jogger because they won’t let us wear backpack diaper bags on our backs and it is easy to maneuver. The wrong stroller ruins the outing. Orchestra is no stroller, just baby in a carrier as there is no room for strollers.

3. Make them eat a snack in the car on the way and bring water bottles. Full bellies=happy kids. Having kids fed before going out solves about 90% of mood problems (I may have just made up that stat). Plus, the other day we went to the zoo, and it was a lot easier to breeze by the refreshment stand with kids who had just had snacks and had full water bottles that way. Not that we ever buy concession food anyway, but they always want to ask.

4. Pack a lunch that they can eat in the car or before we go home. If I know we are going to get home after 12pm, a packed lunch is a necessity. I was not sure if the lunch on our zoo outing was going to be eaten at the zoo or in the care on the way home, but I knew that when we got home, there would be no need to feed anyone. We ended up eating at the zoo. We ate it walking from one exhibit to another, and the four year old and toddler ate in the stroller. You know that a stroller is basically meant to be a high chair with wheels, right?

5. Plan ahead and meet a friend there. My real pleasure in outings, besides going places with my perfectly mannered children (ha!), is hanging out with another mom and family that we love. That way the kids get to see friends (home school problems) and I get to see one as well. It is also helpful if the little people need help in the bathroom. We can tag-team guarding strollers or help reign in a wandering child. The other day at the zoo, I lost a child and my friend stayed with the other ones while I found my lost, sobbing child. It is all about the solidarity.

6. Do not push myself or the kids by staying too long and get home by quiet time. When I was leaving my weekend long silent retreat a last month, I called the professor to let him know I was on my way home. He mentioned that the toddler had only been napping about an hour; it was five o’clock. Then he explained that their outing had gone from about 11am-3:30pm, and I was like, “Are you insane?!” My day revolves around my 2-4pm quiet time, and I do not miss it except for very few reasons. He, however, seemed to enjoy breaking all of my rules while I was away. I, on the other hand, need the afternoon quiet to recharge for the rest of the day. I often get home later than I plan too, but we always make sure there is some time for rest.

The other factor here is the kids. People at certain ages and with certain introverted personalities tend to completely lose it after a certain amount of time out of the house, whether or not his or her stomach is full. We call it “turning into a pumpkin.” Pumpkins tend to lose the ability to control emotions as they have no reason, and they don’t listen to anything you say as they have no ears. I try to avoid my kids turning into pumpkins. The other day it happened because a pumpkin fell while running. It was all chaos with her after that…

7. Plan an easy dinner for that night. Who wants to cook an elaborate meal after being out and about all morning? Dinner has to be quick, and I will probably not start cooking it until 4:30pm, which is the time my conscience really makes me get off the computer or stop reading and get going on feeding people…

Note: The library is an automatic free outing for which I break all of these rules for. 1) It is like 5 minutes away. 2) We do it in like 30 minutes, and the toddler always comes home soaked because someone thought it would be a good idea to put a toddler height water fountain in the kids section of the library… why??!?!?

BIS Devotion: The Struggle in Our Hearts

 I am over at Blessed is She today with today’s devotion:

https://blessedisshe.net/devotion/the-struggle-in-our-hearts/?mc_cid=e2615a3f01&mc_eid=e8f0452374

I have a time-wasting problem. One that I have confessed again and again for years, and I know that to remedy the problem I simply have to use my time well. I use a planner, allocating time for each thing. It goes well in the morning, but then I get to the afternoon.

My children are napping or resting, and I waste that time. I scroll through the social media, justifying it to myself. Then I see the late hour, and I scramble to do the things I meant to do. I usually end up irritable with my children, and take out my impatience with myself on them. I start dinner late, we eat late, the kids are in bed late, and then my husband and I still have to clean the kitchen instead of having a nice evening. What seems like a simple moment to relax actually has an ill effect on my whole family…

Read the rest and today’s daily Mass readings at Blessed is She…

Christ Did Not Say this Call was Easy…(BIS and NCRegister Posts)

Today is my devotion day over at Blessed is She. When I wrote this devotion about making sacrifices and the challenge of living out the Gospel in our daily lives, I did not know that would have also written about a very challenging application of it in loving our enemy and those in need at the Register this week.

I am seeing that what it comes down to is radical love and a willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Gospel. Here are the posts and links to them:
—-

The Temple of God

Every moment of even the slightest suffering that we bear, we can unite to His One Sacrifice. We can choose in our daily lives to habitually participate in Christ’s One Sacrifice, and through His suffering our suffering can bring grace into our lives and the lives of those for whom we pray. For we are temples of God, and as temples, we are a place of sacrifice.

In the Gospel today Christ asks of us some very hard things: turn the other cheek, give away your cloak, go the extra mile, give to the one who asks of you, and love your enemies. These decisions are sacrifices. These choices unite us to Christ…
https://blessedisshe.net/the-temple-of-god/?mc_cid=8f13b8ffd9&mc_eid=e8f0452374&v=7516fd43adaa

I think about the kind of nation I would want my children to live in, and while I would love for them to have peace and prosperity, I worry more about their immortal souls than whether or not they will be persecuted. I know that they will be. There is no denying that. Christ told us so: “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). The Christian has always been persecuted. The model of radical love is one that I want them to follow rather than that of cowering in fear behind the secure borders of our country.

It is time to overcome our fears and meet those different from us with radical charity, so that we might hope to be among the righteous.

Then the righteous will answer him, `Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’
And the King will answer them, `Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.‘ (Matthew 25:37-40)

Seven Quick Takes: Blogger Conference, Gluten, and more Gluten

1. In case you have not heard, or just forgot, or are still thinking about it, registration for the Midwest Catholic Women’s Blogger Network conference is still open until March 11. The conference is in St. Paul, MN on March 25 with awesome bloggers speaking, such as Haley Stewart of Carrots for Michaelmas, Nell Alt of Whole Parenting Family, and Laura Kelly Fanucci, published author and blogger at Mothering Spirit. The link will take you to the conference Facebook page, on which you can find information about registration!

2. It has been a couple of months since I wrote quick takes. The family has all been well, just living life, enjoying an extended Christmas season. We make a point to celebrate all the way until Candlemas/The Presentation of Our Lord. This year I have really been able to relax with the season, as I wrote about for the Register yesterday. We *only* traveled to see family for 12 days over Christmas this year, and it was just the right amount of time to visit with family and friends back at our homes and not go too crazy being on the road. Because of that we had over three full weeks to get back into the swing of things before the professor started the spring semester. We also managed to get our winter stomach flu after the New Year instead of before Christmas this year, which was kind of the flu if one can call the flu kind.

3. One of my Christmas gifts this year was a pasta roller from my mother-in-law. At the beginning o my marriage, when I was homesick for St. Louis, I endeavored to make homemade toasted ravioli, and it took FOREVER to roll out that pasta dough. Now, it is easy peasy. We have been having a lot of homemade pasta. I really need to not push myself, and be okay with using the dried store-bought stuff when time is tight or it is supposed to be a “quick” dinner prep. Anyway, the fresh pasta is really good. The professor gave me the best compliment the day after my first attempt saying, “It is just like eating leftover restaurant pasta!”

4. We have been joking lately that we are anti-trendy-diets, because last weekend we actually bought GLUTEN by itself. We made our first attempt at Ezekiel Bread, and one of the ingredients was plain old gluten. The reason for needing it was that whole wheat flour has a low gluten content, so you have to ADD SOME to help the bread hold itself together. Plus, for those of us who can eat gluten, it really tastes incredible when prepared well. I have gluten-ridden pizza dough rising right now as I type.

wheat, barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt in a single vessel…

5. Ezekiel Bread is based on the bread that God had the prophet Ezekiel make and eat in the Old Testament:
And you, take wheat and barley, beans and lentils, millet and spelt, and put them into a single vessel, and make bread of them. During the number of days that you lie upon your side, three hundred and ninety days, you shall eat it.-Ezekiel 4:9

We went for the first time to our local co-op grocery (we take awhile to try new things) with all of the kids, and found all of our grains and the gluten in the bulk section. The professor and I worked on the bread all day, though most of it was waiting for things to rise and what not. This was my second attempt at homemade (not bread-machine) sandwhich bread. While it was really delicious, I think that I did not let it rise enough in the pans, because my bread was not nearly as tall as that of the blogger’s whose recipe I used.  So, we are going to try it again.  

6. I have a really picky eater in the house these days. Mr. T will only eat what he likes and will gag if you put anything he does not want to eat into his mouth. But he also likes the strangest things. His current obsession is with GrapeNuts. He eats (small) two bowls for breakfast everyday, and sometimes again after nap. However, since that cereal is packed with gluten and vitamins, I feel quite happy to give him however much he wants.

7. I leave you with a book recommendation: Silas Marner by George Eliot. I have read her Middlemarch and quite liked it, but I really loved Silas Marner. Maybe I just liked the simplicity of the main character, but I also really liked how Eliot demonstrated through her characters how to love one really is to will and act for their good. It is short as far as novels go. So, check it out, if you like a good novel. *links are Amazon affiliate links*

I am linking up with Kelly at This Ain’t the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes!


NCRegister: Taking Care of My Little Sin

Living in sin, with sin, by sin, for sin, every hour, every day, year in, and year out…Always the same, like an idiot child carefully nursed, guarded from the world. ‘Poor Julia,’ they say, ‘she can’t go out. She’s got to take care of her little sin. A pity it ever lived. (Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, Book II, Chapter 3)

I was recently asked by a secular publication about my thoughts on Pope Francis extending the faculty to absolve the sin of abortion indefinitely to all priests (who have the faculties to hear confessions). What struck me as I read his Apostolic Letter from the end of the Year of Mercy was how the women he presented from Scripture were all living sinful lives, but also how Christ extended mercy to all of these women. The women caught in adultery has always been a penetrating example for me of his great mercy and my inability to judge others, for how can I claim to be without sin and cast the first stone? Yet, he who is without sin will not cast one at the sorrowful women.

Read the rest at the National Catholic Register…