Category Archives: Loveletters/Food for thought

Women need other women…..

 

Last weekend, I had the privilege of reuniting with about 13 girlfriends from my college Alma Mater, Franciscan University. This reunion had been in the works for several months and I was counting down the days. These ladies were part of my “household”, in simple terms, a christian sorority that I had joined during my four years at that college.

These girls were the ones that lived on the same wing of the dorm as I did.  We passed each other in the bathroom,  and we stayed up late eating cheap pizza together. These same ladies ‘glammed up’ with me for dances, and I threw them the ball in intramural football. They allowed me to cry on their shoulders when I broke up with my first real boyfriend, and they took me to prayer when I was struggling with student teaching and graduating. They held a valuable piece of my heart.

They were a big part of the tapestry of my life. 

Not only did some of my fondest memories include them, but we have the bonds of spiritual sisterhood. They were my “sisters”. The ladies whom I had shared my heart with during those four growing years….that beautiful time of learning who I was, and where I was going. These ladies sat next to me in the pew at Mass, and held my hand in our weekly prayer nights. When Ohio couldn’t contain us, we moved on to a semester in Europe where we continued our journey together as sisters exploring foreign countries together.

As time went on, I sat in the pews and stood on the altar for many of their weddings. I cried big tears as I learned of pregnancies and miscarriages. We mourned the tragic death of parents, and the hardship of divorce.

And as we gathered in that lake house cottage in New York, we once again shared our hearts.  We came together to share not just our hearts, but our struggles, our hurts, and our loved ones.

CD reunion 2017

Because women need other women.

Ask the SAHM of an infant or toddler, and she will tell you that she craves adult conversation. …she would gladly exchange an hour of a nap for a solid hour chatting with a girlfriend.

We need to tell our story. We need the support of other women who can give us counsel and share their wisdom. We need other women who love us and seek our happiness. 

Let’s ponder the story of Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. I believe that Mary spent the better part of that journey trying to think of the best way to share the story of the visitation. Would Elizabeth believe her? Would she challenge this message from God? Would she believe that God had chosen her to carry the Christ child? She needed a “sister” to whom to share the great news with.  What a surprise when Elizabeth already knew!!!!

When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord* should come to me?” – Luke 1:41-43

We hear in scripture that the baby in Elizabeth’s womb (St. John the Baptist) lept with joy at the presence of Mary. What a beautiful confirmation of the beauty of this friendship between Elizabeth and Mary….two ladies who had chosen to give their “yes” to God!

God was allowing them to experience this amazing journey together. They both understood the awesome privilege that they were given, and found comfort in their shared journey.

How many times have you sought the counsel of another women? or felt such comfort when another woman just “gets it” without a need for a long explanation?

My husband is my best friend….this is not a knock on men.  My husband will always be the first person that I run to with good news, when life is tough, or just to wrap his arms around me. However, just like I encourage him to seek the counsel of his brothers, he does the same for me.

My girlfriends walk the same journey of motherhood and wifedom that I do. ( I know…..wifedom sounds good…but I think I just made that up…haha) .  I laughed as the posts flooded our facebook group as these “moms” prepared for the weekend. There was the usual “do I need sheets for the beds?” or “how much alcohol should i bring”? but I laughed at the comments about “wearing sweatpants and pajamas” and what “nice clothes” did we really need….haha. Posts from true mommas who just needed a cocktail, an abundance of sleep, and to sit comfortably in a “nonjudgment” zone for the weekend.

It was so funny when one mom suggested that we attend Saturday night Mass so that we could sleep in on Sunday morning, how quickly everyone agreed that that idea was pure perfection.

Women need to be understood by other women. 

As we sat around drinking cocktails in pajamas, we laughed reminicencing about old times. We mentally surfed through facebook posts that we had recently “seen” of each other, and delved deeper into our lives. We were able to share the truth behind those vague facebook posts, and drop tears over what is really going on in our families….the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

And trust me…the tears flowed…from all of us.

But there was also gut-wrenching laughter that brought it’s own set of tears……..

Then…..we bowed our heads and prayed a rosary for our families.

And the beauty of a spiritual sisterhood is that Saturday night, just a few hours after we unpacked our luggage, and stretched our legs from our trips, we entered this tiny church and began our weekend with the Lord.

As I sat in that little church, I listened carefully to the beautiful sound of my girlfriends’ singing. What a gift. I closed my eyes and took it all in. These ladies were such a gift to my womanhood and to my journey as a wife and mother.

My “yes” to God had brought me to this little Catholic college in Ohio where God had plans for my life. He had blessed these friendships, and helped each of us to be instrumental in the development of each other.

He was our center……he was that strong “connection” that made the long distances bearable.

Those three days went too quicky….but as I pulled off to make the journey back to my family, who eagerly awaited my return, I felt renewed.

For those three days, I was just the daughter of a king, along with those other 12 ladies. I had sat at the banquet table of the Lord, and we had feasted.

CD blog

God bless,

Tammi

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.

ben-white-131245

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

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

 

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.

Image result for images of confession

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Redefining your goals by knowing yourself…..

Ok….did that title just make you roll your eyes…or are you eager to read on?

Because…I gotta tell you. It really could go either way. You could feel motivated by setting goals or overwhelmed at the notion of “one more thing” to add to your list……

About 9 years ago, I definitely would have been rolling my eyes and the hubs and I had one of our biggest arguments over this very topic.

Goals.

According to the hubs, it started out pretty innocent…..

I was pregnant with the fashionista and we were about an hour and a half into a three hour ride home, to my parents, in Maryland. We had decided to drive down in the evening, so the kiddos could sleep the whole way. I had just began to doze off when the hubs wanted to “catch up”.

No biggie.

After a few funny stories about the kids over the past few days, the hubs says:

So…let’s chat about what your goals are for the next year? I don’t want you to feel like you are “just a mom”.  I want you to feel like you are growing in every area of your life. What goals do you have? – I kid you not…the man was smiling with support.

All I saw was red.

inside out

Instead of something loving, he got something along the lines of:

Goals??? Goals??? are you freakin’ kidding me right now? “um…yeah…my goal is to not hear my name called for the next two hours.

My goal is to get a quick nap in before this baby cramps up under my ribs again making sleeping impossible. My goal is that Sweet Pea will not wake up crying because she peed her car seat or has to pee when there is no exit in sight…..

My goal is to allow my mom to watch the kiddos while I take naps and “sleep in” at her house. 

My goal is to eat great food and laugh a lot. 

(insert look of horror from my husband)

Yeah…it wasn’t my best moment but it was a honest moment. Sometimes we have these honest moments because we can’t see beyond the murky fog that we live in.

Let’s be honest…murky fog was an understatement for that time in my life. I was living in a tiny two bedroom apartment that we were quickly outgrowing. I found out when DDD was 7 months old that I was pregnant with the fashionista. It was the summer and I was 8 months pregnant…huge and uncomfortable…..

My husband hated his sales job and was always annoyed. We were barely skating by financially and I was always tired.

So…yeah….I didn’t want to be discussing goals. 

I was so tired that I didn’t know if my brain could process anything more intelligent than a grocery list or the most recent Barney episode.

If this situation, describes your current frame of mind….don’t read on! Just stop right here….take a few deep breaths….and go take a nap.

You do not need to discuss your personal goals. At this point, you are in survival mode.

Most likely you have little children who occupy every waking moment of your time or maybe you are in a tough place right now…..take solace in the fact that, most likely, this blog post is a “future” read for you. Maybe “pin” it for later…..;)

Your only goal is to surround yourself with great woman who struggle in “survival mode” like you do. Meet up with them at least twice a month. Sip some tea and laugh while the children destroy the house and you can have some adult conversation. Or…keep your house clean and go out for margaritas…either way…in the words of “Hitch” (Will Smith)…”this is where you live”…survival mode.

the ladies

Now…for those of you who have a few hours in your day…maybe you don’t have any babies in diapers…or you have enough time to process more than a grocery list….the rest of this post is for you…

So how do I know that I’m ready to set new goals? How do you go about knowing yourself?

For starters, you spend time thinking and talking about what you want for yourself.

I just recently (like a year ago) started meeting with the hubs over tea/coffee in our sitting room on Saturday mornings. After I make a big breakfast, the hubs and I “retire” into our sitting room and chat. We leave the children to clean up the breakfast table and put away the extra food. It has been heavily communicated that the children are not to interrupt us. We often have planners out, and agendas prepared.

We chat about our week…our frustrations…and things that make us truly happy. We play “footsies” and snuggle under throw blankets. We talk about interesting topics of the week, and things that we want to add to our bucket list. We discuss everything from the birthday present for our godchild…to the newest restaurant to check out.

We talk about where we feel like we are lacking….and what our heart yearns for.

We don’t care about commitments…we make this time happen whether it’s early in the morning or later in the day.

How do I know I’m ready to talk about goals?

Well…my “baby” is four…soon to be five this November. She can play by herself or off with her siblings for long periods of time without requiring my assistance. Am I “done”? I hope not…..but that’s another blog post. It took us three years to get pregnant with Sweet Pea, and instead of spending that time enjoying moments with the hubs, we were saddened and let misery guide us. We’ve decided never again….so…we are enjoying our present “baby free” days.

cow appreciation day

I’m not tired. I’m getting great sleep unless I overindulge in too much Netflix or Pure Flix. No nursing babies. No toddlers who don’t sleep. I don’t have early morning risers and my kids enjoy snuggling with me for a few minutes each morning. I can often grab a power nap in the afternoon if I need to.

I’m not overwhelmed.  I have been homeschooling successfully for about 8 years now and have a pretty good hang of it. I’ve lived in the same house for 6 years and I finally have a schedule going that works for our family. The hubs is pretty happy with his new job and still works from home. I have been slowly giving my three oldest more responsibility in the home front which frees up my time as well.

compassion.jpg

I’m feeling an inner call to stretch myself.  I have spent plenty of time giving to my little family with little thought of anything else. As my priorities change from one of changing diapers, and  physical dependence to one of mental and spiritual guidance, I have been feeling an inner call to get more involved in a few more things.

So what do I know about myself and how does this translate to my goals?

I like to break my goals down to basic “needs” that I don’t feel like I am having met. These are stirrings in my heart or areas that I’m not happy with. Does this somehow show a lack of understanding on the part of my spouse? Absolutely not. It is his support of me that enables me to look forward and see what areas of my life has been “shelved” by other priorities.

Love for music and a need to have more in my life .

I have recently been working with some musicians in my area to start some praise and worship in our archdiocese. I have longed to be able to offer praise and worship regularly at our parish and getting the musicians lined up has been challenging but I hope rewarding. I have missed the days of cantoring and helping with worship at Franciscan University. Please join me in praying for this endeavor as I feel so many of our youth would benefit from this.

Need to start my own “something”

In June, I took the plunge and became a Thirty-one gifts consultant. I personally love their totes and have purchased several for myself. When I was looking through my facebook friends to see who I knew that sold thirty-one products, I realized that I didn’t know anyone. It seems like a great idea to start as a consultant myself. I was looking for something to make a few hundred dollars a month to offset some family expenses and this seemed like a good fit. Where else could I throw parties with wine and cheese while showing off cute little bags and organizational gifts? We know how much I love my wine. If I’ve sparked your interest, you can look at my website here to see what we offer. Be warned…lots of cute stuff…haha.

Need to better myself

As I look through my facebook photos and instagram shots, it’s hard to dismiss the pattern. The photos are either of my face from the neck up…or of my children. Just recently, a woman offered to take a photo of my husband, son and I when we went hiking and I’m almost embarrassed to show it. Mostly, because I have been packing on weight for years. SO….one of my biggest goals is to take care of me. I feel like there is this young person hiding amongst all this fat and aging bones.  I gotta get in the gym and take back my body and promote better health for myself. I miss the ease of activity. This recent hike almost had me needing an oxygen tank. Trim Healthy Momma is going to be helping me with the healthy eating and the local Y will be kicking my butt in gear.

Need to travel and experience new cultures/history with the kids

cape cod

This photo is from our trip to the Northeastern states two summers ago. I’ve always meant to write a blog on that trip and learned so many great tips. It was amazing….10 days covering several states…the ultimate road trip. It’s made our family thirst for more travel. We will be planning several small trips this fall/winter and next summer we are spending two weeks out West! The hubs and I will be heading south for a romantic trip to Georgia in the upcoming weeks and the excitement is on! We love the thrill of new food, and new places.

So my goals are set for the upcoming year. It’s not going to be easy to really dedicate time to each one of these but…I know it will bring me so much peace when i do.

Join me as I “check in” on these goals several times this year.

What about you? What does your heart desire? What goals are within your grasp if you made them a priority?

Go after them….the only thing stopping you…is you.

God bless,

Tammi

 

When the house of cards fall….

To say that things have been difficult lately, would be an understandment. It’s that time of the year….the homeschooling year is coming to a close and the “natives” are getting restless. One last three week stretch here of portfolios, testing, and finishing extracurriculars, and our summer will start.

But mentally,…..I’m done. Completely ready for the nearest beach, some sun, and always…a cocktail.

Add to that the recent health issues of the hubs, the struggles and pressure of having a traveling software sales husband, and all the extracurricular activities of the children, and I was completely overwhelmed. I was sitting amongst piles of laundry that beckoned, and food stuck on pots and pans that I had no energy to get to. For the first time in a while, no glass of wine or chocolate dessert was going to push me in the right direction.

For the first time, in a long time, I was completely depressed. 

hospital stay

Maybe you can relate. The tears just kept falling….”pull it together, Tammi”…I would say to myself. I would be picking up endless barbie shoes, kids’ clothes, and pieces of “art” that the children had created….and I would be crying. I would be driving in the van to soccer and the tears would be falling. The children were beginning to see past the “no big deal” and “I’m just laughing so hard” routine I was trying to pull off. I was a tired wife and mother who was feeling no relief. I was pulling late nights trying to get everything done, and yet all I wanted to do was lay in bed and sleep. I wanted to forget about spending a “date night” at the hospital for the latest round of pneumonia….I wanted to leave the room rather than watch my husband struggle to breathe through his coughing fits. However, I also wanted help. I wanted another person to “adult” with me.

However, it was a Friday at our bi-monthly co-op that my “house of cards” started to crumble….

And just like a flimsy deck of cards…there was no warning.

The flood gates opened…and I couldn’t stop. Maybe it was the call from the hubs that the doctor wanted to run some extensive tests on him that day….maybe it was the long nights I had endured in a row…..or maybe it was just my own need to be “done”. I’m not sure of the catalysis but…surrounded by all these moms and women that I admired and loved, I couldn’t control the tears from falling. I tried everything…play with the little babies; tease the middle schoolers; clean out the van…but nothing I did would make my face look less red and swollen or make the tears stop falling. I’m a pretty “open” person…I love to make people laugh and have a good time. However, I don’t like to cry in front of others. I don’t like appearing “weak” or “out of control”. But on this friday, that wasn’t an option…those tears just kept coming.

Several of these women pulled me aside and lent me their ear as I reluctantly poured out my heart over my recent troubles. Afraid to venture too far, they allowed me to share what I needed, not what they wanted from me. They were Christ to me. I watched as my sisters -in-law kept just the right distance, to keep me from crumbling. These ladies were another one of my “cards”. People who I had placed in my life who I valued. I valued their opinions as mothers; I valued their friendship and their wisdom. In HIS Wisdom, the Lord had allowed me to feel crushed when I was the most supported. He had surrounded me with woman who truly knew me and what I needed at that moment. His “loveletters” to me continued. On the following Sunday, when I waved to one of these ladies across the pew at church, God had already placed it on her heart that she would deliver dinner to my house on Monday night…..all I had to do was “confirm” it when I showed up at HER church on Sunday.

We all juggle with our own house of cards. We spend years putting each “card” in place…carefully stacking each one. Finding time in our lives, and in our schedules for our family, our careers, our vacations, our workouts, and our friends. We make time for our hobbies; live out our faith; and continue to be present to those who love us. As we stack card upon card, we are building a little mental house for ourselves. We look at our little house and how “pretty” it looks…we take pride in what we have created.

Image result for house of cards picture deck

 However, if we look closely, we can quickly see how flimsy it is. How every card depends on the stability of the other.  The shifting of one card can send the whole deck crashing down. With this reality, comes action. When one card falls, we jump to grab it and control the whole house from tumbling. We fear this “crumbing” of what we have created.

For the past few years, I have been creating my own house of cards. I blog often about the family traditions we hold dearly; the humorous shananigans of my brood of five, and the adventures that we embark on. We enjoy good eating, and clean living. Our family motto of “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord” hangs proudly in our home.  But recently, I have been feeling the shifting of a few of these cards, and it’s really scaring me.

The hubs has been dealing with some health issues over the past five months and this has definitely been a “shifting card”. As overwhelming as this can be, my thoughts are drawn to Peter when the Lord called him into the water.

Peter said to Him, “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water.” 29And He said, “Come!” And Peter got out of the boat, and walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31Immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32When they got into the boat, the wind stopped. 33And those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “You are certainly God’s Son!” – Matthew 14:28-33

Peter felt that feeling of “shifting cards” as he was walking on water. He felt “unsafe” and “unsure”. However….he trusted. A few days later, I found myself struggling again so I took the children to a nearby lake for a small picnic break on one of our busiest days. We had a 45 minute window to fill, and I figured hitting the lake on a beautiful day would busy the kids and allow me to clear my head. “I don’t have much time…but a few minutes will be good.” God in His Infinite goodness, blessed me with this vision…….:

lake

And I heard the words:

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

And I felt an overwhelming breeze envelop me, and a peace flow through me.

Sometimes, God calls us out of our every day to speak to our hearts. To find him in the beauty of creation. As I stood there watching my children wade through the lake, I was overwhelmed by the peaceful tranquility. The same water that brought fear to Peter was now bring peace to my soul.

But..isn’t that what God does?

He takes our fears…and turns them into blessings.

He frees us….unburdens us….

He takes those tossed up and spiraling cards, and shows us how to create a new house of cards. He creates us anew…..

What cards do you see falling or shifting? What control is God asking you to relinquish?

 Lord, help me cling to your words, “You of little faith, why did you doubt”? Help me to trust that you hold my “house of cards” and that only in you can I place my trust and allow you to shake up those cards to build me a better house of cards.

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Why Mercy? People want justice…..

Read any comment section of a tragic human interest story and you can see the rage that comes forth from people. My facebook, lately, has been filled with story after story of parents who are neglecting their children, leaving them to starve or physically punishing them for being “a burden”. I can’t read these stories…..I just can’t. However, I do often look over the comments and so many strangers cry for justice for these little souls.

“An eye for eye”…

” I hope they starve those parents like they starved their kids”.

“Put me in a room with them”.

People want justice.

Now, it’s easy for me to read those comments and think how crazy these people sound.

Unfortunately, the truth is that I want justice in my own life. 

When someone “wrongs’me, I want justice. I want to call my close friends and explain to them how “difficult” this person is being and how I need “prayers” in dealing with them.

I don’t want to take any time trying to “understand” any reasoning behind why someone would insult me or hurt me, I just want to be able to lash out on them in anyway I please.

I want to mentally “cross my arms” and feed that part of me that desires to hate, that demands that “hurt” to be returned.

What about you?

People don’t know how to handle the evil that pervades our world. Racism, infantcide, euthanasia, murder, kidnapping, torture, abortion, sexual abuse…the list is endless. Our gut reaction is to demand atonement for these sins. To demand that the attacker meet some sort of fair punishment or justice. The definition of “justice” is the “quality of being fair and reasonable”. In order to handle the “injustices” of this world, it seems rational that we demand justice. But in order to demand “justice”, we must sit in judgement of another. We must “judge” their deeds worthy of justice.

To the Christian…..Justice is not enough.

The Lord asks for Mercy.

This beautiful image was given to Sister Faustina by Our Lord.  In her beautiful book,  “Diary of Sister Faustina:Divine Mercy in my Soul”, sister’s countless conversations and visions with Our Lord, in which he spoke to her about His Mercy, are detailed. Sister Faustina was asked, by Our Lord, to have the following image painted.

So what does the image mean?

The Image of The Divine Mercy represents the risen Christ whose hands and feet bear the marks of the Crucifixion. When asked about the meaning of the rays from His pierced Heart, Jesus explained, “The pale ray stands for the Water which makes souls righteous. The red ray stands for the Blood which is the life of souls. … These two rays issued forth from the very depths of My tender mercy when My agonized Heart was opened by a lance on the Cross” (Diary, 299).

divine mercy

The Lord is calling us to receive His Mercy. 

Have you ever wanted to give someone a gift and yet, they were never home for you to drop it off? You wait in anticipation of the joy that you know this gift will bring, but it never seems to happen. You call, but your phone calls aren’t returned. You know this gift will bring this person so much joy, but you can’t get through to them.

Can you imagine that you are this person?! That Jesus has this gift of His Mercy that he is waiting to pour upon you but you can’t make time to see Him.  Would it hurt you to find out that His Mercy would fill all those insecurities and pains of your past? That you would feel truly, and unconditionally accepted and loved.

I am not a reader. I’ve never loved reading but during Advent, Lent, and over the summer, I try to read at least one inspirational book. The following book by Fr. Mike Gaitley has been life-changing for me. I can’t recommend it highly enough. I read this book this Advent, and then again this Lent. I found something “profound” each time that I read it. It’s a beautiful book to add to your library. This is definitely one that you will want to read over and over, and highlight and write in. haha. 

In his book, Consoling the Heart of Jesus, Fr. Mike Gaitley writes that mercy is ” love when it encounters suffering”. It is “first an emotional movement, in which we feel compassion, and then a movement of action”.

It is first “feeling” compassion for someone, and then acting on that.  It is a call to action. God is calling us to action. He is calling us to receive the gift of His Mercy, and then to act on that Mercy. Jesus wants us to be emotionally moved by His Love for us, and then “called to action” by that same love.

The Holy Father, Pope Francis, has declared this the Year of Mercy. How will you live out this year?

Kendra, over at Catholic All Year, has started a Year of Mercy Challenge with her family. Their family has created a challenge, for the year, to fulfill each of the corporal and spiritual works of mercy as a family. She has produced a fantastic printable which you will find here:

Year of Mercy challenge worksheet

Our family has printed out this form and will be challenging ourselves as well.

Additionally, when my girlfriend, Michele, asked me to consider being one of the few “early readers” of her new book, Divine Mercy for Moms, I jumped at the chance. Having just finished Fr. Mike Gaitley’s book, this seemed to be a great book to continue this same message of Divine Mercy. It seemed only “fitting” that, as I opened this book, I found that  Fr. Mike Gaitley had written comment promoting this book.

This book didn’t disappoint.

Divine Mercy for Moms is a beautiful book, written by two of my friends from Franciscan University, that speaks to the heart of every busy mom who is trying to live her faith. These women have done a wonderful job of breaking down the message of Divine Mercy from Sr. Faustina into small reflective chapters that any mom can follow. Each chapter ends with how we can live that chapter’s message through three practical ways: in deed, word, and prayer. This book is also set up for small group discussion.

******I was going to wait until I finished this book…but after reading the first three chapters, I couldn’t wait to share it with you. This book is the perfect Easter basket gift for yourself….and a wonderful pre-cursor to Divine Mercy Sunday.******

This book is perfect for the busy mom, as you can read a chapter on Sunday to begin your week, and then use the practical suggestions on ways to “live” that chapter during the week. These moms, Emily and Michele, know how to speak to the mother’s heart and give practical tips for living this message of Mercy.

These ladies have also provided us with so many wonderful resources on their website, Divine Mercy For Moms.

They have two “special gifts” for this year of Mercy…download your free copies of the Mom’s Checklists for the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.!

Definitely “click” on this book and order yours today!

If you have read both of these, please join me in reading Fr. Mike Gaitley’s new book, 33 Days of Merciful Love. This book is a blend of a retreat and the journey of growing closer to St. Therese, the Little Flower. Sounds like a great way to start into this summer.

My prayer is that some of these resources will provide invaluable on your spiritual journey.

May we seek God’s mercy that He so readily awaits to lavish upon us, mere sinners.

May we fully embrace this year of Mercy!

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