Honesty…the Wings of Freedom

Honesty…..

It’s definitely a little “plant” that the Lord has been working on with me over the past month.

The “seeds” of this blog were planted during a conversation with one of the mothers at my monthly co-op. I had been making a point of trying to converse with her more this past year, as she seemed to be “hanging out” more than I remember in previous years. As we started to share with each other, I began to realize that I didn’t really know this woman at all. I had developed perceptions of who I thought she was…but I was wrong.

And all it took, was just talking to her.

Standing in front of her without judgement, two people willing to listen to whatever each other wanted to say. The two of us willing to share with each other, not concerned about what was going on around us. Just willing to listen.

It was about being able to say “wow, I didn’t know that about you at all. Thanks for sharing that about yourself”.

It’s about recognizing the vulnerability of the person who is trusting you with part of their heart.

Then a few nights ago, I was reading in my Blessed is She journal, and the beautiful Elizabeth Foss was discussing the notion of hypocrites and stated:

“God doesn’t ask you to be perfect, but he does want you to be honest”.

There it was again….

The “H” word…..honesty….

Ok, Lord….you got it…

I’ll write from my heart about honesty.

Why is it so hard for us to be honest with people?

I believe that it takes a lot of vulnerability, confidence, and holy boldness…….but I also believe that it gives us the wings of freedom.

Don’t you want to be free in your relationships???!!!

How many of us go to bed at night thinking I wish a had someone who truly understood me or maybe you think If people really knew the real me, would they still be friends with me?

People are attracted to genuineness and honesty.

A few years ago, I sat down with two of my sister-in-laws and confessed that I wasn’t being honest with them in our relationships. I told them that I often left family gatherings feeling frustrated by things that they said, or that I replayed conversations in my head for days. I confessed that I didn’t like feeling like I was “holding a grudge” about an earlier event but I also didn’t feel like I was being honest and things needed to change.

I think they were initially quite surprised, as they didn’t know I felt this way. I continued, adding that I was going to “speak my mind”, and I might start offending people but that I needed a different level of friendship with them, and it meant being able to be perfectly honest.

Over the next few months, some of my text messages were a little sassy at times. I spent time sending messages about my gratitude and appreciation for little loving gestures, and I enjoyed answering the text messages about “what I thought about__________”. These same sisters realized that my honesty was refreshing. They knew they could come to me for advice, and then could also hang up the phone and not wonder what my ‘real thoughts’ were on a subject we had discussed.

There was freedom for them in being able to talk to someone who would deliver honesty, and yet care about them.

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God wants us all to speak truth.

He wants others to be drawn to the freedom that we elude when we live a life in His Truth. A life that grants us true freedom.

A life where we are free to be who we choose to be, not who we think people would like better.

God doesn’t want us to live our life through perception…concerned only with how others see our marriages, our children, or our lifestyle.

God wants our lives to be transparent and honest….to be looking at our family from a realistic place of where God has us.

To me, there is nothing more beautiful that a person who has the interior freedom to be who they want to be.

When I was in college, I had this friend named “Ducky”. I believe he got that nickname because of his similarities with the character from the movie “Pretty in Pink”. He had a crazy sense of style, but such a warm and loving heart. I remember the first time I met him just beaming. I remember thinking to myself this guy is crazy funny…and his laugh is infectious. As college progressed, “Ducky” and I went on a mission trip to Florida together and we were able to have some quality time hanging out around a camp fire. I learned rather quickly that “Ducky” had a lot to teach me about being true to who I was. He talked to me about his love for Our Lady and he was never without his rosary beads. I have vivid memories of his mad dance skills, and his love for good music. You couldn’t help but be happy when Ducky was around. He was the genuine deal….and everyone knew him and loved him.

I also believe that God puts people in our lives to share our hearts with.

Who are these people God has placed in your life? Are there people that you need to invite “in”? People who you know you could be closer with if you shared more of yourself with them?

What are you afraid of?

Share. Share your thoughts….and your heart.

Ask the Lord to make these people clear to you.

Allow the Lord to give you wings of freedom, so that you can experience true friendship with other men/women.

Be willing to be that honest and genuine friend to others.

“A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter. He who has found ONE has found a treasure”. – Sirach 6:14

God bless,

Tammi

St. Patrick’s Day!!!

Thoughts for St. Paddy’s Day!!!

Chasing time and Drinking wine

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You know what time it is??!!! It’s the celebration for all of us Irishmen! We definitely love our Irish heritage and sport our green for Ireland on March 17! Thanks to Walmart and the local Dollar Tree, I was able to score some awesome “loot” to help the kiddos celebrate! Missing from this picture is my son’s green leprechaun hat, four more pairs of shamrock socks, Sweet Pea’s larger shamrock drop earrings, and two more scarves. My kiddos always get super excited and then race away with their loot. I’ve been know to hang on to stuff so that they actually know “where it is” come Thursday….hahaha.

I try and integrate the holidays into every aspect of our lives.  With St. Patrick’s Day, this is no acception, Pinterest always has a ton of ideas.  If you want to see some of the things we have done in years past, you…

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Getting back in the groove….7 quick takes on the past few weeks….

I’m linking up with 7 quick takes this week to share a little bit about what’s happening over here in the CTDW household, and some random thoughts for this week. Giddy up…..

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 A profound and overwhelming thank you to all of you who have lifted up our family in prayer, in regards to my post about my husband’s chronic lung disease. We instantly felt covered in so many prayers. Friends and family all flooding our facebooks with messages of love, support and encouragement. Friends dropped off dinners, sent gift cards, and called to lend kind words and comfort. It is in times like this that you become truly aware of how blessed you are. The Lord, in His Divine Wisdom, used this simple post to also speak to the heart of so many of you who struggle as the “silent sufferer”. Thank you for sharing with me your struggles, your hardships, and allowing me to find comfort in your prayers as well. Please continue to pray for my husband that his lungs continue to remain strong and we can be hospital-free this winter. Please continue to look for those people that God may have placed in your life who struggle as well. If you didn’t get a chance to read my last post about Dan’s health,you can read about that post here.

Christmas was a beautiful end to a tough year. After weeks of worry and fear, My greatest Christmas gift was having my husband sitting next to me feeling pretty great. I was comforted by his loving smile and his willingness to hop up on a ladder and hang Christmas ornaments on a tree. Watching him struggle to climb stairs for lack of energy, it was truly a beautiful gift to watch him enter the holidays with the same luster that he always has had for the holidays. The joy in the picture below is just that….pure joy. We all felt it!


Joy. 

This word has taken on new meaning for me this year. I have always loved the verse in Timothy that says “Be prepared to give a reason for your joy”. However, a little girl named Joy, who miraculously recovered without brain injury after drowning in a pool and being without a heart beat for over 20 minutes has really made me re-evaluate the reason for my “Joy”. This little girl and her family, who were college friends of mine, have deepened the faith of countless people who dropped to their knees to pray for the health of this baby girl. Every day I stalk facebook waiting for Joy’s mother, Kristin’s update on Joy. Her family has allowed us to witness the raw, painful journey of suffering and yet also experience the joy of her miraculous recovery. This little girl has brought so many souls to Christ. You can read about Joy’s story here. A gofund me account has also been set up to help her family with all her medical expenses.

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My day was spent watching the inauguration of President Trump while emptying vomit buckets. Lord…have mercy! For anyone who is unaware of “vomit” etiquette…..you must quarantine your home. Stomach viruses are no joke and you don’t want to “bless” another family with this precious, vile predicament…haha. I’m feeling pretty sleep deprived, as those of you who handle these sticky situations in your home know, you can’t sleep through that ever distinguishable sound of vomit hitting carpet….arghhhhhhh. So gross. Praying that these two little girls don’t “spread the love” to their other siblings or dear mom and dad.*** edited…just added my son to the quarantine…(sigh..)

In addition, I have found one of my passions through starting as a consultant with Thirty-one gifts!I am busy growing my thirty-one business and would like to invite all my readers to check out my VIP group on Facebook. This is a great group of ladies who love a great deal, love our bags, totes, and jewelry, and want to be apprised of all things “thirty-one”. We would love to have you as a member….www.facebook.com/groups/partycentralwithtammi. You can also purchase directly from my site at http://www.mythirtyone.com/tammimccarthy. We currently have a 20% off 20 items from our fall catalog that we are retiring through the end of January. Our Spring/Summer catalog full of bright colors and patterns will be available online  February 1st. Make sure you check it out!

The Catholic blogger’s conference that I attended this past Spring opened my eyes to a few amazing Catholic bloggers…and the Blessed Is She group. Since joining their Instagram, I have saved so many of their bible verses to my phone. Please preorder your Lenten journal from Blessed is She. You can order it here. Trust me….you will LOVE it. It’s perfect for those of us who have little time but want God to do a mighty work in us. Elizabeth Foss has a beautiful three step process of Scripture, reflection, and a call to action (journaling, doodling, etc.) I preordered my Advent journal and I loved everyday of it. I snagged up my Lenten one this morning!

I have seen many bloggers refer to their “word for the year”. A word that they are going to focus on; a theme for their year. After giving this concept some thought, I do believe this is a profound way to project confidence and clarity into my year. To examine my weaknesses and areas that need the Lord’s guidance. My theme for this year is to be intentional. I feel that too many things in my life are not intentional enough. I know that the Lord is calling me to be more intentional in all my decisions. To take control over my house, my finances, my children’s education, every aspect of my life that just has drifted into normalcy over the past few years. I know that the Lord is calling me to be more intentional….to gear my life in a specific direction allowing God to lead me. I eagerly await the Lord’s clarity for this year.

Thank you for continuing to be supportive readers of my blog. This blog started as a way for me to offer “tips” to my fellow homeschoolers and Catholic moms but has really turned into more of a place for me to share my heart. Thank you for always being willing to “listen” to my voice. My goal for this year is to provide more consistency in my blog and yet to allow the Lord to lead the path for the blog this year.

God bless,

Tammi

When you can’t do normal…

Grabbing out the egg cartons, and milk, I piled them onto the kitchen island with all the other items. Not ten minutes before, I was combing through the pantry looking for a snack. Now, I was viciously scrubbing the walls and drawers of the refrigerator. Why? Because today, I just can’t do normal…

In fact, my mind is racing with so many thoughts that even a “thing to do” list won’t help me.

My desk is currently a sea of paperwork; business calls to be made, bills to pay, and events to schedule.

I’ve attempted to wash the same grill pan for the past three days, and I’ve never gotten to it.

My voicemail is full…and my email is back to over 1,000…..

I haven’t posted a blog post in months…..

And….I haven’t gotten the mail in about three days….

I’m sitting here typing in my pajamas while my girls, instead of doing school work, are downstairs making cookies, while my son is throwing up in his bedroom.

Normal. I have no idea what that means anymore.

There are probably people like me that you encounter every day. We smile and chat about silly things. We drop kids off for dance, and we schedule dentist appointments. We shop for groceries and we make our bed every day.

However, there are things that we are hiding…we are afraid to unveil what really monopolies our time and thoughts….

Some days…I just want to ignore the pain and act like everything is normal. I want to chat about what you had for dinner, and the newest show that you are watching. I want to mentally “retreat” and think about something other than the actual thoughts that pervade my mind.

Thoughts that make me cry behind closed doors. Thoughts that make me want to pull my covers over my head and not do anything all day.

And whatever you do…don’t make me stop and look at you. Because….my life is an open-book and I don’t want anyone to “read” what I’m trying to hide.

Just don’t……

I don’t want you to see the pain. I can’t handle it…and I certainly can’t try and find words to explain it to you.

And please….don’t ask me how I’m doing….because then I will start to unravel….and that gets really ugly and messy.

You see….my husband has a chronic illness…and we are in a tough stage. We’ve called it “bad lungs” for years to explain his crazy coughing fits to neighbors, acquaintances, and friends. We’ve been to multiple specialists who have “studied” his lungs….we’ve done all the treatments….but..ultimately we knew this day would come…

….when it all got serious.

Dan has been diagnosed with Bronchiectasis.

Here is how the American Lung Association defines it:

Bronchiectasis is a chronic condition where the walls of the bronchi are thickened. This is caused by inflammation and infection in the bronchi. People with bronchiectasis will experience periods of good and bad health. The periods when your lung health gets worse are called exacerbations. Some patients with exacerbations notice a gradual decline in their health over a few weeks, while others start to have problems over the span of a few days.

In bronchiectasis, the walls of the bronchi are thickened from long-term inflammation and scarring. As a result of the damage, mucus produced by the cells lining the bronchi does not drain normally. Mucus build-up can cause infection. A cycle of inflammation and infection can develop, leading to loss of lung function over time.

In bronchiectasis, lung function gradually declines over years. Patients with frequent exacerbations or those whose bronchi are infected by certain bacteria, like methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), may lose lung function at a faster rate and have more bothersome respiratory symptoms.

Dan has had several “exacerbations” over the past year. He’s been hospitalized twice over the past two months….and has been treated for pneumonia six times this year.

To stay it’s been “trying” is an understatement.


This was our family earlier this month. It was a Monday….the same day that we were suppose to celebrate the birthday of my now five-year-old. She cried begging her daddy to go to the hospital so that he could be home “on turkey day”. I snapped this picture as they all crowded in to cry on his shoulder about another 5 day stay at the local hospital.

Another pneumonia…..another round of IV antibiotics to fight it. (We also learned that his body has become resistant to oral antibiotics.)

Didn’t we just do this two months ago?

We are suppose to be fighting about stupid stuff like the temperature that the house is kept at or the amount of crazy money that we are spending eating out.

I don’t want to talk about planning for our future or how long his lungs can go without the need for an oxygen tank.

I don’t want him to look at me with that “I know this sucks for you….but you know I really love you, right?!” look.

And somedays….I want to pretend like it’s “not a big deal”…….

So, if my hair looks crazy and my eyes look really puffy……or my smile has been missing for a while or I don’t seem “like myself” it’s because I’m just trying to get by each day without fear of the future. I’m trying to be strong for these five kiddos who rely on me for stability.

Because although I just want to block out the world, and cuddle with my husband all day, there are family memories left to be made.

There are holidays to celebrate, and birthday parties to plan.

I’m clinging to my family time and soaking up those precious moments that require me home. I’m spending time in prayer to protect my heart from all that awaits our family.

However…I’m weak…but I’m ok with that. Scripture tells us that “He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 2 Corinthians 12:9” I need the Lord to grant me grace to get through this.

I’m finding it difficult to be left “wading in the water” by the Lord without “land” in sight. The “un-knowing” is the hardest part.

However, I am trying to follow God’s plan in all of this.

God will be re-defining a new “normal” for us over here in our home. In the meantime, please join me in prayer as we pray for direction.

So…. if you see me and I’m smiling, join me.

If you see me, and I’m really just struggling, just pray for me.

I know that I serve a God who truly loves me, who is allowing me to endure this painful time in my life, because I have begged Him to draw me closer. I know that my faith will get me through this.

Maybe there are people like me in your life….silently suffering….that could use your prayers this Advent…..be there for them.

My family is not alone….we don’t feel alone.

Our community is a large and loving one…and since news of his hospitalizations our friends and family have been surrounding us with so much support.

Whether they have made us dinner, sent food baskets, called and texted, took the kids for play dates, visited Dan in the hospital, or just let us know that they are “here” for us ….. I truly believe that it has been the “body of Christ” alive and well in our lives.

Thank you for reading this. Thank you for allowing me to open up my heart to you……

Just sharing this has lifted a burden for me……

Praying that you and your families may have a blessed Advent.

God bless,

Tammi

 

Finding your OWN path to joy….

How many of us have found real joy in ourselves?

The kind of joy that beckons you to run like a child through a field of wild flowers…….

The “raise your hands in the air going downhill on the roller coaster” kind of joy….

The joy that comes from hearing your favorite song on the radio….windows down, song blasting,  “beating on the steering wheel”kinda joy….

I had a taste of heavenly joy this Sunday when I attended a praise and worship session at my church. Drums beating, screaming these songs that I had often heard on KLove, not a care in the world but lovin’ Jesus.

Now….what if someone told you that this was how they felt when they saw you.

(What???!!! little ole me.????…)

Yes!!! What if someone told you that your very existence was a joy in their life.

That your smile could brighten any rough day that they were having.

That your hug was the medicine for that tough patch of grief that they were feeling.

Would you act differently? Would you view yourself differently?

I think you would.

And….I challenge you to surround yourself with people who feel this way about you.

I believe that God wants us all to have this freedom.

The freedom of living “carelessly” regardless of the ways others view us.

I’m not talking about the “I don’t give a $#@! what you think of me, and I’m done with haters” not care…but the genuine, “I love who I am” kind of joy.

How rich would our lives be if we didn’t feel like we had to live under the microscope of facebook, instagram, etc…constantly awaiting the comments of judgement, looking for others approval, or broken by the harsh comments……

Notice that I didn’t say the photo album of facebook…..where you display your life for others to find joy in….

Comparison is the thief of joy…..Theodore Roosevelt

How can we find this joy? I believe it comes down to three principles that we must fully accept and implement in our lives.

We must accept who we are…..the good, the bad, and the ugly. We must not seek perfection….but contentment in who we are. 

What if we denied the “haters” the ability to “get to us”?

I have owned who I am……I am done comparing…

I can’t tell you how often I have thought…….

 I will never keep a house like………

I will never have slim thighs like…..

I wish I could love to eat healthy like…..

I wish I wasn’t such a terrible procrastinator

I wish I was more diligent in my work.

Now….if you are looking to change a part of your life that you feel could use some “fine tuning”, then go for it! Do it for you…because you want to be the best you. Not because someone else has determined what the best “you” looks like.

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Find the joy in your present state of life…whatever that may be.

We must not compare our “new” life to our “old life” in a negative way……

Often times when I am overwhelmed, I think back to how much “simplier” life was when “all had to do was change diapers, or be responsible for feeding my kids”and that’s not a fair assessment. Those were challenging times too.

I remember when I was struggling with getting pregnant for the first three years of my marriage, I dreaded taking a pregnancy test each month and how sad the hubs and I were at this point in our life. If only I could have acknowledged my sadness, and then chose to live the place in life that God had me in. I often long for those carefree days that could have taken us traveling and spending time together as a couple.

My life now has it’s own struggles and it’s own joys.

God has you where you are…..now. Find your joy in this moment.

Find your joy:

  • In your new house that needs to be furnished or in your old house, that needs to be updated.
  • at your new job as you learn how to perform your tasks or at your old job that has given you stability.
  • in the storm that God is carrying you through, or in the serenity of the lake that you rest on.

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And lastly, surround yourself with support. People who genuinely love you for who you are. 

I can’t stress how important this is. I happen to be blessed with  amazing family who are all my best friends.

I never feel lonely. I never have to worry about conquering something on my own.

When times get tough, and there always will be “storms” that arise, these are the people who will see you through it.

I have amazing women who are part of my homeschooling community. Their children are such a blessing to the lives of my children. They make all these “crazy” homeschooling hurdles fun, while inspiring me with their lives.

I have an amazing network of friends from my days at Franciscan University. Ladies that I call monthly to “check in” and share my life with. They are a power house of prayer for me and I love sifting through so many of my great memories with these ladies.

I also have some amazing guy friends who help me to be a better wife. From my brother in laws, to friends from Franciscan, to my priests, these men remind me how to love my husband and truly live my life for my family.

Appreciate these people. Call them. Text them. Tell them how much they mean to you.

Don’t wait until something drastic happens to share your heart with these people.

They are your “life line”.

St. Paul tells us to “always be able to give a reason for your joy”…..for our joy is in Christ Jesus.

May you embrace these simple three principles, as you seek the new found freedom of joy that the Lord desires for you.

God bless,

Tammi

 

 

I do…..a lesson about finding your strength.

“I do….to the struggles. I do…to living selflessly for each other. I want you to build a wall of love that nothing can tear down. This wall that will surround these five blessings and give them security, peace, and endless love”….

 

I do.

The day started off innocent enough…I  woke up one Sunday with the desire to see the kids hit confession. Our family happens to be blessed with a local Shrine that offers confession for the 15-20 minutes before their 2:30 Mass. It’s super convenient to watch my three oldest hit the confessional and come out beaming. This Sunday, which I speak of, I did an examination of conscience with the kiddos while the hubby drove. Nothing super enlightening….your basic review of the 10 commandments with gentle “nudges” as to the areas that I saw some of them struggling with…haha.

Confession.

That sacrament that often we forget about. A sacrament, all too often underutilized, in our struggle to be Christ-like in a fallen world.

Our family would love to say that Confession is a monthly commitment like our other activities but it often isn’t. It can be anywhere between a month and a half to three months before our family goes or realizes how long it’s been.

But this time around, this little Polish priest had this unsuspecting mom crying through the first 20 minutes of Mass…with two little words….

As Mass was about to start, I saw the kids to our pew, after their confessions, and ducked into the confessional myself.

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Alright….clear my brain…..

Frustration. Quick to anger with the kiddos. Laziness. Being Judgmental

These guys knew that they were the usual culprits…haha.

As I started to roll out these guys, the priest stopped me at quick to anger with the kiddos.

“Oh…so you are a mom. How many kids?”

Five….

“Five?! Wow….you are a blessed and busy momma. And what are their ages?”

12, 10, 9, 6, 4…..

“Oh my goodness. So you are also a hard working mom.”

(insert a few tears….that was nice to hear)

“Let me ask you….do you have a good husband?”

(wait….what’s going on here. I’m just trying to remember which sins to confess and you are distracting me. And why do I feel so emotionally overwhelmed right now?)

(choking back tears) Yes…he’s a really good man. Great husband…great father….

“Then you have everything that you need…you just forget. I want you to work on the greatest strength that you have in trying to be a mom. You need to work on the strong bond of your marriage. This will give you the grace to raise your kids.”

(tears really flowing now….totally blindsided by his tender words that are hitting me so hard) um…ok.

(wait…..this is really heavy stuff….but also so simple)

“I want you to remember your wedding vows. Remember that day? Remember when you said I do? I want you to wake up everyday and say that. I want you to talk to your husband and I want you to remind him, lovingly, of those same two words and I want him to wake up thinking about the same, I do. I do….to the struggles. I do…to living selflessly for each other. I want you to build a wall of love that nothing can tear down. This wall that will surround these five blessings and give them security, peace, and endless love. This is where you will find the grace to be the gentle, loving mother, like Our Lady. ”

(searching for tissues in my purse, as I’m just a mess of tears. He can hear me sobbing.)

The only words I could muster up were…“Thank you..”

I wiped those tears and they just kept coming as I found the pew with my little family. I looked down at those five faces who I’ve been entrusted with and felt the hub’s arm run along my back and around me for a tight squeeze.

God has given such wisdom to our priests.

Thank you to that little polish priest for reaching into my heart and reminding me of the graces that God has already given me.

Thank you Lord for showing us the importance of the marital bond and the blessings that it bestows on the children.

Thank you Lord for reminding me that you are truly present in the sacrament of Confession and that you know all my sins before I bring them before you.

You desire this little heart to seek you in the “little ways” like St. Therese of Lisieux.

I pray that you find yourself in Confession soon….and that the Lord speaks truth in your heart.

But for today….find the “I do” that the Lord is requiring of you.

God Bless,

Tammi

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pio Prints giveaway!

I could NOT be more excited about these awesome tank shirts from my good friend Maria at Pio Prints.

If you are like me, its always fun to work out with something inspirational on your shirt. These tanks definitely satisfy that need…and can we chat about how comfortable they are?!

I love that they are super soft and have a nice loose feel at the bottom. My daughter, Sweet Pea (about a 12-14 girls) is wearing an Adult small (you can see that it clearly hangs from her), and I have on an Adult Large. I have been told that they are going to be offering the x-small soon. (They currently do not have children’s sizes)

Maria has graciously offered to give away one of these awesome tanks to one of my readers. For those of you who don’t win a shirt or are looking to grab a gift for a friend, you can use code CTDW to get 20% off your order.

Ask Jesus Journal

To enter the raffle, click on this link here.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Please bear with me as this is my first giveaway. Until I get this “glitch” with the rafflecopter worked out on this blog, You can also go to the  “giveaway” section of my facebook page and enter to win!

God bless,

Tammi