Saved by grace….

Grace.

It was my word of the year.

I had no idea what it meant.

Was I going to get an abundance of grace this year, Lord?

Was I going to need a lot of grace to get through this year?

Yesterday, I sat in the church pew and the tears flowed.

I was in so much pain. Some physical but really so much emotional pain.

The hubs is sick….and I can’t barely get around.

What is going on, Lord?

Just two days ago, I was on my family vacation at the Jersey shore. Everything was suppose to be perfect. I had booked this rental 6 months ago and after a long homeschooling year, I was looking forward to some fun in the sun.

Don’t get me wrong…the family time was invaluable. Everything seemed to be lined up…perfect weather, a great rental property, plenty of family to share these precious moments with……

It was about day three when the hubs got sick. If you had read about our situation here, the hubs can’t get sick. (About a week before vacation, he was diagnosed with a rare pneumonia, and was finishing up the antibiotics for the first few days of vacation.)

It just seemed like such a hard blow.

I had so many plans…..renting bikes, late evening walks on the beach, cuddling on the porch with the ocean breeze…..but now I just had to worry about whether our vacation was going to require a hospital visit.

I lay next to him at night unable to sleep.

I could hear the pain as he coughed all night long.

Then the fever ensued…and the cold chills.

I would listen to him toss and turn and wince in pain.

In the morning, I cleaned up a night stand of tissues, and I watched him struggle to breathe.

Unspoken promises kept. 

For the sake of the kiddos, just continue with vacation……

Grace.

As I sunscreened my kiddos, I tried to conceal the heartache.

As I dragged my beach chair and umbrella up the beach entry in the sand,  I wanted to scream, yell, and just toss them across the distance.

Watching all the dads and uncles in the water with the children, while my husband lay in a bed back at our beach house.

A beach house that he was suppose to be enjoying.

A beach vacation that our family was taking because of all of his hard work….

Why?

There were no answers, just tears….

However, normalcy is just easier. Blend in. Look like everything is ok.

I sat on the beach watching the fireworks with our extended family holding back tears….it just didn’t seem fair.

This was our vacation….so why did I feel so alone?

I’m reminded of the lyrics in the song Need you Now by Plumb. “How many times have you heard me cry out, ‘God please take this’. How many times have you given me strength to just keep breathing? Oh, I need you. God, I need you now.”

Everything seems doable if I can just push myself and manage it.

But what happens when I am just too weak?

The arthritis in my hip joint has gotten so bad in the past few months, that I started my first cortizone shot about a month ago. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize what relief it was giving me, until it wore off on vacation….and the seering pain returned.

Walking the boardwalk was just too hard.

But there was boardwalk fries and ice cream promised, and the joy of rides to experience…so I continued on.

With each step, I took a breath as the pain shot from my hip joint down into my knee.

Smiling as I climbed the stairs to bring in the groceries…..and the pain seered.

Carrying a sleeping 6 year old off the beach at night…..more pain.

I drove home from the shore barely able to switch my foot between the gas and the break pedals.

Please, Lord…..I am breaking down. 

St. Paul’s words to the Corinthians seems to speak right to my heart, “My grace is sufficent for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.

So here I am, Lord.

I’m so broken.

I’m so weak…physically and emotionally.

It’s all for you, Lord.

I believe that your power is made perfect in weakness.

Show your power, Lord.

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Sacrificial Love

 

Sacrificial Love.

A love that sacrifices for the betterment of another.

Scroll through instagram and you see it.

The numerous moms and dads showing pictures of their sons/daughters in their piano recitals, sports championships, and/or science fairs.

The hashtags abound….#proudparents, #proudmomma, #proud

So many proud parents. 

So many parents who are sacrificing for their sons/daughters to have more opportunities than they had.

Sleepless nights with babies, afterschool math sessions, travel teams….we all do it.

Each one of us sacrifices for those whom we love. We sacrifice money, personal time, sleep, friendships, and our dreams for a better foundation for our kids. 

I remember once watching a TV special about Olympic gymnast  Shawn Johnson. The reporter was talking to her mom about her gymnastics training as a child. I remember her mom emphasizing how Shawn was always doing hand stands throughout the house, always toe prints on the walls….her whole life became about gymnastics. Her mom discussed how she realized that her life was just different from other moms.

She was sacrificing a “normal home environment”.

What about you? What are you sacrificing?

Do you look at instagram and wonder how some parents do it?

Maybe….let’s not stand in awe of ONLY the child’s accomplishment. Let’s stand in awe of the parent’s clear sacrifice in that child’s life.

For every successful, talented child, there is a parent and family that is sacrificing.

There is a family sacrificing, supporting, nurturing and loving. 

Maybe it’s not beautiful family dinners on china every night….but it’s watching your daughter in her third softball game of the week…..because it’s EVERYTHING to her.

Maybe it’s once again not having that perfectly cleaned kitchen…..but it’s about letting your teenager destroy your kitchen because she’ passionate about cake decorating…..

monster cake

Maybe you are having a quick fast food dinner in the car, so your son or daughter can play on the travel soccer team.

Maybe you looking longingly at Instagram at photos of kids playing near a lake or riding bikes with their families…..because you miss those times.

However, let us always remember the why behind our sacrifices…..

Deep down, you know that the sacrifice is about honoring the talents of our children.

Seeing the beauty of their God given gifts and helping them to flourish.

Watching as God’s plan for them unfolds…..

Watching the joy that comes from the struggle to succeed. The true beauty of the friendships formed in the gym, on the field, in the studio, and in the classroom.

You watch the inner pride that exudes from the core of who they are…

That is your reward, as parents.

As mothers and fathers, we want the best for our children.  Our love for them can be overwhelming…our desire for their happiness paramount.

We await the day when they will become adults and truly recognize our sacrifice.

Until then…..we will keep sacrificing…keep nurturing….always loving.

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Embracing silence….

Every lent I feel like God works on a different part of my spiritual walk. This year was no different. Not that my Lents before were not good or not productive but I felt that God was honoring my desire to go a little “deeper” this year.

When I sat in prayer contemplating my Lenten plan, I heard God say very clearly that for Lent I was suppose to give up idle noise…and embrace little periods of silence.

What does that mean?

How is that going to change me as a person?

What will I say when people ask what I gave up for Lent? Will I be embarrassed by my little gesture?

Is that enough?

All those thoughts didn’t matter in the long run.

rosary

Over the past year, the Lord has been creating a Spirit of Obedience in me. He has been showing me how obedience pleases Him, even if I don’t fully understand the why behind His Ways. He just gives His permission to ask the How……

So I prayed for the practical applications of this Lenten sacrifice, and like our Lord always does… he provided.

There would be times that I went to turn on the radio by myself, and I would hear Him say, “Talk to me.”

I would be in the middle of watching a netflix show, and He would call me into a moment of silence.

The children would often come over to me sitting on the couch and say “Are you ok, mom?”…..they were beginning to notice how often these little quiet moments would happen throughout my day.

Head tilted back, eyes closed…clearing my mind…..

Each moment of silence would fill me with peace….like breathing out a deep sense of relief.

Often times the Lord would place someone on my heart to text or call…..

Sometimes he would build upon a bible verse or spiritual truth I had been working on.

He showed me, very clearly, how much I need more silence.

How our constant “background noise”……. silences Him.

How I had been begging  him to “talk to me”…..and his response was to spend time in silence so I could hear His voice.

Our God is a God of peace……He speaks into the peace of our hearts.

Spend some time today contemplating how you can add silence into your week.

It seems like such a crazy notion…..but we need moments of silence.

Take a walk………in silence.

Sit outside….or on a park bench…..in silence.

Observe the beauty of nature around you……in silence.

“And when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”

landscape view

In light of this new insight, I will be delving into this book by Cardinal Sarah. I’m super excited to continue this journey and see where the Lord is leading me. Join me!

power of silence 2

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Embracing the empty tomb….

Join us in celebrating some of our favorite Holy Saturday traditions!

Chasing time and Drinking wine

It’s Holy Saturday, and as I sit here in the quiet, I’m embracing the tomb. The huge stone rolled in front of a tomb that holds my Savior.

I’m drawn to the thoughts and feelings of those Apostles.

What just happened? This man that we loved, who broke bread with us…that smile…that tenderness. How could He be taken from us?”

The bloody mess that they had to witness……the brutal beating that Christ endured. Watching someone whom you love crucified in front of you….all hope seems lost.

Jesus on the cross

I want my kids to enter in to the meaning of Christ’s death and the loneliness of the tomb.

In order to celebrate the Glory of the Resurrection, we have to truly experience the gloom of the tomb.

On Good Friday, a few years ago, the hubs and I decided to “shut down” normal activities of our home following the 3 o’clock service…

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Holy Thursday 2016: Lenten Tea

An old blog post about two of our favorite Holy Thursday Traditions!

Chasing time and Drinking wine

When I first started blogging, I was eager to share my ideas with other moms. I was eager to inspire other moms to get more involved and celebrate the liturgies of the Church in our homes. I love to celebrate holidays and liturgical events. With this in mind, I quickly found plenty of other blogger moms who had plenty of ideas to share with me as well. I have referenced Catholic All Year, Sole Searching Mama, and Sometimes Martha Always Mary, as three of these such bloggers.

Let me begin by saying that I love Holy Week. I try to set up my week by having Wednesday and Thursday be my cleaning and purging days. I wrap up all my schoolwork with the children on Wednesday. The children and I spend Holy Thursday cleaning our house and preparing for Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday! I…

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First Confession/Penance…making it meaningful

Next week my fourth child, Mini Me,  will make her First Penance. Other than her First Communion, this is the second best part of 2018 for her. I will confess that this same child has already tried several times to receive her first communion..haha. Thankfully the Holy Spirit had prompted me to look up, both times, and gently shake my head to the priest, as I moved her over to receive myself.

mini me and I

As I was going through my notes of what I need to plan to make this day special, I thought this might be a great way to link up with Kelly over at This Ain’t the Lyceum for 7 quick takes for this week.

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Sit down and talk with your child about this big event.

Open communication is a great way to discover how your child is feeling about this big event. It’s a great time to answer any questions or displace any fears that you might not have known about. We recently sat down and had a little tea about my daughter’s first confession. We went through the ten commandments and did a little “examination of conscience”. I showed her how each commandment can apply to something in her life. She was able to see what sins she may be struggling with.

Place the Act of Contrition prayer in several places throughout the house to help them memorize it.

This weekend I will be taping a copy of the Act of Contrition in my daughter’s bathroom, in our downstairs bathroom, above her desk in our school room, and on the door of our refrigerator. As a young child, I would often work on memorizing a prayer that my mom had in our bathroom as I brushed my teeth or washed my hands. I didn’t even know that I was doing it. I figured the same concept would work for my little one.

My plan is to encourage her to read over the Act of Contrition prayer before bed, in the morning, and several times throughout the day.

You can find this photo below to print out here. 

first penance act of contrition

Spend time rehearsing the events of the day. 

On Sunday after Mass, I will be giving my daughter a tour of the confessional in our church. She is homeschooled so this is not something that we have done yet, although it is often covered in CCD, PREP classes, or Catholic school.

Children can often make an event scarier than it needs to be in their mind. Therefore, we will spend some time showing her how to go in and close the confessional door. I will explain to her how the priest will push the screen to hear her confession. I want her to feel comfortable with kneeling on the kneeler in the dark and being able to remember her sins.

We will then go through the motions of her finding a quiet place in the church to complete the penance that the priest gives her.

I think this is also a great time to share with your son/daughter that other members of the family (including yourself) will be taking part in this sacrament as well. It is important that we stress that we should take advantage of this sacrament when it is available to us. 

Allow your child to pick a special dinner spot.

My children pick their favorite dinner spot only several times a year…one being their  birthday, or a special occasion like this. It’s always nice to celebrate the uniqueness of each child in this special way and the other children look forward to the mystery of what dinner will be.

In the past, we have often gotten the child some vanilla ice cream for dessert to celebrate the purity of the Sacrament that he/she just received.

Take plenty of pictures to capture the day.

This picture is one of my favorites. It really shows how focused little Sweet Pea was on this special moment in her life.

first penance blog

This picture of the Fashionista just radiates her excitement of the wonder of being freed from sin. I remember her telling me “I can’t wait to now receive Jesus!”

penance kals

We make sure to get pictures of the child with their godparents, with our family, and often a picture of them holding their reconciliation certificate.

Try and select a small token gift that will have meaning for your child. 

first confession gift

This was a tradition that we started with our oldest, and has become a coveted tradition. We pick several symbolic gifts in a gift bag with this tag attached. The items change as does the symbols/virtues behind them so the children love to see what I have come up with. Additionally, we have also used white tic tacs to remind us that we are made pure as “white as snow”. You could also include a fun candy bar like “Mounds” of grace or “almond joy” of the sacrament.

Schedule confession on your family calendar, once a month, for the next 4-6 months so they can practice this Sacrament often. 

This is a huge goal of mine for this year. We have not done this in the past but have made a decision on a Sunday to attend our local shrine that has confessions right before Mass. However, this year I think it is important for the children to see it listed as an integral faith activity just like Sunday Mass.

Your child’s First Confession/First Penance is a beautiful day to cherish the graces of this sacrament.

I hope some of these suggestions will prove fruitful for you.

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Happy Feast of St. Francis De Sales!!!!

When I was traveling abroad as a college student, I went on a trip to Ars, France. As I learned about the Cure of Ars, St. John Vianney, I was startled by a quote from this amazing priest.  It was once said to have been out walking when he saw a man walking his dog across the street.  It was said that he stated, “If only your soul was as pure as your dog’s.”

Ouch…haha.

Needless to say, he was known for hearing confessions for hours.

As I continued my study abroad, my knowledge of the saints grew as I saw countless relics, birth places, shrines, and cathedrals to some of these amazing saints. I walked the same villages where they lived. I sat in the churches where they preached. I saw the fruits of the lives they lived.

Countless quotes spoke to my heart, that semester,  as I continued on my own faith journey.

As a young mom, I would open my old journal and often read through some of those quotes and allow them to speak Truth into my life.

My favorite quotes from St. Theresa of Avila and my favorite scripture verses adorn my bathroom mirror while I wash my face each morning.

So when I recently started the daily scripture readings with my children as part of their homeschooling curriculum, I thought it would be great to include some quotes from these saints on their feast days.

I share some of my favorite quotes of Mother Theresa here.

This quote by St. Francis De Sales spoke into my heart today:

st francis de sales

Such a beautiful reminder of how we can look for little ways to give in service of others for love of God.

How we love God is shown by how we love those he has given us in our life.

We love God by loving others. 

I love how my husband loves our children. They really are everything to him.

So when my son wanted to stop during our hike, and take a look at the huge drop off beyond this rock, I wanted to lose my mind.

Every fear for his safety surfaces.

You can imagine my peace when my husband grabbed his arm and said, ” I got you buddy. I won’t let you fall.”

It’s the little ways, like this, that we protect those around us.

The reassurance of a dad’s hand.

A mom’s comforting words after a rough disagreement with friends.

God calls us to walk this earth with “open eyes” seeking those people who need our help.

Showering our love in little ways that add up.

 

stfrancisdesales

My beautiful sister-in-law purchased this book for me and I have been reading through multiple pages today.

It’s such a source of wisdom. You can find a copy here.

In the words of St. Francis De Sales:

” What we need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience.”

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