Answering the call….

Music has always spoken into my life at the hardest and toughest of times.

It’s helped me calm my fears.

It’s spoken Truth into uncertainty.

I’ve driven with my radio blasting, and my hair blowing in the wind…rapping and dancing.

And I’ve sat in my van sobbing over how lyrics have perfectly expressed the words on my heart.

The Lord has used music to strengthen my faith, and armed me for the daily battle.

I love to blast my KLOVE radio station, and ask the Lord to really speak to me.

Boy, did he ever with this song….

I feel like I could have written this song. It speaks the words on my heart. It shouts the truth of what I want from my life.

The first time I heard it while driving in my van, it was like an arrow to my heart.

I had a hard ugly cry.

Then, I went home and looked up the lyrics and cried some more.

I want to live like that…and give it all I have.

So that everything I say and do…points to you…..

(Tears stream down my face). Yes, Lord…..

If love is who I am…then this is where I stand.

Recklessly abandoned, never holding back…I want to live like that.

Wow….ok….done.

That’s it….that’s the call.

I heard it loud and clear, Lord.

No more “I wonder if they will think this is weird”.

No more “it’s not my place to say this”.

No more “that person may find it weird, and wonder why I’m helping them”.

It’s not about who I am…it’s about who God is…and what I am called to do.

It’s all about you, Lord. It’s all for you. It’s about a love far greater than I can return. It’s about a love that I can’t selfishly keep for myself. It’s about sharing Christ with everyone.

It’s about being the hands, feets, eyes, ears, and mouth of Christ..in ALL THINGS.

Do I live like your love is true? Is there evidence that I’ve been changed, when they see me do they see you?

It’s about basing my worth not on my productivity, my financial success, or who I am in this world but on the fact that i’m loved by God.

It’s about sharing that love. It’s so simple…and yet so far from what our world looks like.

I want to show the world the love you gave to me.

Lately, I feel the Lord has been asking me to show His Love to others.

The Lord showed me that I was walking through life with blinders on. I was like a horse…I only looked straight forward at my thing to do list. I didn’t notice the young mom who could use a hand or the teenager who just needed to hear something nice said to them.

In my own attempt to be productive, I was missing all these people who God placed in my life to love and to be Christ to.

And I…I was selfishly hiding my light under a bushel basket.

I was going to bed every night from “taking care of business” and yet I had never asked the Lord what His “thing to do” list for me looked like.

When I sat down one night to do my bible study, I decided to ask God what he wanted from me.

I felt like He said to me…I just want you to notice more. I want you to share you…with everyone.

Let me give you…eyes to see…what I see.

As I drove back from bible study one Sunday, I asked the Lord to help me use my time in the van for His Glory. ( I oftened call girlfriends and family to “catch up” during my ride home)

I prayed, “Lord, what do you want from me? Who should I call?” The Lord placed the name of this person so crystal clear. I repeated the name out loud and said, “Ok, Lord”. I called and the number went to voicemail. “Huh?” I thought. “Why tell me to call someone who wasn’t even going to be available?”

She called back right away. The conversation started like this “Why are you calling me? Be honest.” “Ok…well, I asked the Lord who I should call tonight and He said you.” She burst into tears. “I’ve been sitting here crying for a while….feeling so alone. I’m just so upset. I told the Lord that if He really loved me…prove it. Have someone call me…and then the phone rang.”

Just confirmation for both of us.

Confirmation that the same God that spoke to the Apostles is speaking to us today.

The same God who we celebrate as we placed ornaments on our Jessie Tree in Advent hasn’t stopped talking to us.

The same God that spoke through Abraham, Isaiah, and John the Baptist to herald the news of the Christ Child wishes to speak to you.

Our God is personal, and He hears you.

God listens to you.

Soak that in.

The God of the Universe makes time for you. He treasures you. He longs to be with you.

However, he also asks us to share His love with others.

I want to show the world the love you gave to me.

It’s so simple.

A soft smile. A helping hand. A word of encouragement when it’s so easy to be negative.

It’s making a phone call and really listening.

Have you asked the Lord what He wants from you?….and listened?

Are you heeding the call?

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Supergirls and halos…sign me up!

As the mom of four girls, I want them to dream big.

Not just…I want to one day be the President big…..but…I want to change the world big…

I want to bring others to know Christ in whatever way God calls me….that kind of big…..

Those are my dreams for my girls…..

To know that God has blessed them with gifts that are to be used for His Glory and His Purpose.

Every November, my four girls and my son, rummage through our basement dress-up trying to recreate a saint’s costume for the All Saint’s Day parade at our Catholic co-op.

We have our favorites….St. Kateri (our Indian costume has been repurposed multiple times for this) ….St. Elizabeth of Hungary (maybe it’s just the fact that they get to carry some bread)… St. Dominic Savio (my son loves him) and St. Joan of Ark.

St. Joan of Ark…..fearless, brave, courageous…….

When my youngest was around 4, she looked at me and said, “Mom…I want a saint who is really tough…and carries a sword like St. Michael…and I want her to be really brave”.

Check…Check…Check…

“Ok…I have just the saint….St. Joan of Ark”…

As I strapped that fake plastic armor breastplate around her little waist, I saw the look on her face change. She was proud as she looked at her older brother and said, “see…girls can do anything…even carry swords and fight battles”.

“Yes, honey,” I confirmed “but she also trusted God and His Plan for her life…and that is what has made her a saint.”

Isn’t that what we all want? To live our life trusting God’s Plan for our life? To be totally abandoned to God’s Will?

St. Teresa of Avila says:

“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

This quote taped to the mirror in my bathroom is a personal reminder that God is in control of my everything. I’ve read that quote with tears running down my face, and with utter joy in my heart. She’s right. “Whoever has God lacks nothing; God never changes”.

St. Teresa of Avila’s words have been a source of comfort, and reassurance for me over the past few years.

When my children are struggling, I often used quotes from the saints or scripture to provide encouragement to them as well.

So when I was asked to give an honest review of the book Super girls and Halos by Maria Morera Johnson…I jumped right in.

Review a book about inspiring little saints?…yes.

A great book to recommend to all my homeschooling mom friends….yes

Boy was I wrong.

What I thought was a book for my children was actually a book for me.

Maria Johnson has done a tremendous job of immersing us, chapter by chapter, in this comparison of super girls and saints. She allows us to journey with her in discovering the beauty of such concepts as truth, courage, and virtue in light of these everyday women whom we emulate and their saintly counterparts.

This is a great read for all of those who want to be inspired by these courageous saints.

Every chapter focuses on a virtue such as temperance, fairness, or justice and then makes a comparison between a heroine from a movie, TV show, or super hero, as well as a saint who envelops that same virtue.

As I stated before, I happen to love St. Teresa of Avila. So when I came upon the chapter entitled “Paragons of Wisdom and Truth- Agent Dana Scully and St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross”, I couldn’t wait to see how she addressed this. Agent Scully had started my love of all good detective shows, and it was my introduction to the X-files that spiraled my love for shows such as CSI, Murder She Wrote, and Law and Order. After reading this chapter, I realized that what I loved about the X-Files was their search for truth. Maria had opened my eyes to my clear need for Truth. It was what I loved about Agent Scully…she continuously sought Truth whether it questioned the truths that she currently held or not.

Through this chapter, Maria introduced me to St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and her love for St. Teresa of Avila. A saint who was convicted by her love for St. Teresa of Avila??….this chapter would be the one that would speak volumes to me. This chapter has inspired me to read more about the life of a saint I knew nothing about.

As a mother, wife, and daughter of the King, I, too, must find inspiration and encouragement for this journey in life. I, too, must dream big, not just for my girls, but for myself. What a gift to find a book, like this, that will inspire us to dream big about the virtues that are important in life.  To seek Truth and Heroic Virtue, as well as others.

I believe that the Lord has a plan for my life which He constantly unfolds each day.

Grab yourself a copy of this book..and be inspired.

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Thanks…giving. Let’s be thankful…..

As I sit here on my couch smelling my turkey cooking, and watching the Macy’s Day parade in my pajamas, I have so much to be thankful for….

  • Thank you Lord for another day to love my husband, and share my time with my children. Thank you for my health…..
  • Thank you Lord for my husband’s tireless work ethic that keeps our family provided for and allows me to stay home and school my children. Thank you for his humor, his love, and his faithfulness to our marriage and our family.
  • Thank you Lord for my parents and the person they formed me to be. Thank you for their sacrificial love and the way they continue to love and support me.
  • Thank you Lord for my beautiful mother-in-law who is a true inspiration in her faithfulness and love. She has always made me feel like her daughter.
  • Thank you Lord for all my in-laws who are truly my best friends. I couldn’t have imagined the blessings they would hold for me.
  • Thank you Lord for the beautiful loveletters you sprinkle into my day to remind me how much you love me.
  • Thank you Lord for the amazing priests you have placed in my life to help me grow.
  • Thank you Lord for the faith-filled women in my Walking With Purpose bible study group and the way that they call me on to holiness.
  • Thank you Lord for the trials and blessings of this year which keep my family ever dependent on you.
  • Thank you Lord for my Franciscan University of Steubenville  family. Many of those friendships span 20 years, over multiple states and countries. I have prayed with many of you through tough medical crises, the loss of spouses and children, and financial hardships. You have been a constant reminder to me of the power of prayer and the strength of friendships centered in Christ. I will be forever grateful for how FUS changed me.
  • Finally, Thank you Lord for you……all of my faithful blog readers who read my thoughts, however inconsistent, and respond with such encouragement and love.

Praying that this Thanksgiving season will have your heart overflowing as you spend some time reflecting on God’s providence in your life. How truly great is our God!

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Feast of St. Teresa- quotes to live by…..

Tomorrow marks the feast day of a wonderful saint in our church….St. Teresa of Calcutta.

I will never forget the first time I saw this little woman on TV.

I remember the news reporter discussing how this little woman was treating the “sickest of the sick”.

The room full of white sheets and cots as this little woman dressed in white and blue moved from bed to bed.

She caressed those hard faces…..she lovingly held the dying…..and bandaged up those filthy wounds.

What the news reporter tried to pass off as “heroic virtue”, Mother Teresa reassured them it was simply “being Christ” to others.

Her faith was simple.

Her faith was strong.

mother teresa 2

I remember a few years later …she seemed so frail….too old to be doing all the work that she so tirelessly did.

However, I remember seeing a picture of her smiling and the joy that radiated from her eyes.

Her beauty shown forth from her soul.

She was a small woman who spoke with such conviction, and faith.

Tomorrow, I will spend the day writing some of these lesser known but beautiful quotes, from St. Teresa, on paper flowers throughout my home…..

“Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.”

“Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible poverty.”

“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

“I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world.”

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

I thank God for this spunky, little Indian woman who has blessed this Earth.

I pray that her example may be a catalyst to the fire in all of our hearts to want less things, judge less hearts, and give more love.

St. Teresa….pray for us!

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Perfect marriages don’t exist….

16 years of marriage!!!!!

I tell you….I love my marriage.  

To say that I married my best friend would be accurate.

I was reading this beautiful post that my husband wrote about me on facebook, when he stated:

“Happy 16th year of wedded bliss to my best friend and amazingly beautiful wife. I am so blessed to walk beside you through this journey of life towards the kingdom of our Lord. You are the most beautiful and loving person I have ever met and best of all your all mine! Love you”

I believe every word of this.

I believe that he truly feels this way.

Because we have put so much of our time, energy, and ourselves into this marriage.

He has not always felt this way about me.

In fact, there was a time when he wasn’t sure that all of this was “worth it”.

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I know because I was so tired, so frustrated, so sick of trying to “explain myself”…..and list was endless.

I was a tired mom of young children who felt so misunderstood.

I felt:

He didn’t understand me.

He thought the worst of me.

He was so selfish.

He was always angry, and I was sick of hearing him talk about it.

If you were to ask him, he would say that he felt:

She doesn’t respect how hard I work.

She doesn’t budget our money well.

She always wanted to stay at home, and now she’s just not happy.

She’s always complaining about something.

We were financially struggling, and the burden was heavy.

We weren’t suppose to feel this way about each other. No one could know these struggles.

From the outside, we looked happy but the fighting was just too much.

Our children were so precious to us, so we chose to focus on them.

We made every day about the kids for weeks…months…a year.

We had three children in a tiny apartment. Our third, a baby, was living in our “walk in” closet. We had one car, which he took to work everyday, while I felt smothered in this tiny apartment with three little ones.

Nothing was easy….the kitchen sink was too small. Our kitchen was tiny so it made preparing dinner so frustrating. The laundry room was downstairs, so I would have to trek downstairs with three kiddos in tow.  I would come down later to find that same laundry thrown in my basket wrinkled, as someone else had changed the load. I would have to grocery shop when the hubs got home so that involved not “forgetting” anything that was needed for dinner.

I was too tired to argue…but there was so much frustration that we fought about everything.

Countless nights I would wait for him to go to bed, and I would crawl into bed crying.

How did we get here? This wasn’t the guy that I dated. This wasn’t what I signed up for….

It was so easy to just stay angry. So easy to call all my girlfriends and bitch about my husband and how men are so frustrating.

Let’s be honest, I could have created a list of “justifable” reasons that I could be angry.

We can always find people willing to allow us to vent, but we also need to seek out people who will help us to change the course of what is going on.

I happened to be blessed with an amazing brother in law who would allow me to call him and vent about my frustations. He loved my husband and would provide me “insight” into my husband and share his marriage’s similar struggles. He was a tremendous “bridge” that connected our two worlds.

You see….he helped me to see what I always knew to be true……

Perfect marriages don’t exist. 

I don’t think that any of us truly believe that they do.

However, I think it’s easier for us to assume that others do not encounter our same struggle.

Why is it so hard for us to share the struggle? Why is it so hard to show our weakness?

Because when we leave our struggles “in the dark”,  we also keep Christ out of it. We reserve a part of our life to be handled by us alone. It’s only after seeing how we truly fail anything on our own, that we lift our hearts in prayer to God and allow Him to bring us help.

I decided years ago that I wanted a better marriage.

I decided that I was going to fight for what we both wanted.

I knew that he was that same guy, and I was that same girl he loved. Some how, we let “life” and the “world” come between us.

We had stopped working on us.

And if you are struggling with some of these same feelings/issues..I have a few pieces of advice.

Make a decision to fight for your marriage…..and give your marriage to the Lord. Marriage is a decision. It’s a daily decision to love your spouse. Once you make this decision, it becomes the most important fight that you are in. It means rolling up your sleeves and conquering whatever hurdles you have together. It’s an “us against the world” mentality not a “you against me”. It means waking up daily, and asking the Lord to bless your marriage and any roadblocks for that day. I wrote a great blog about fighting for your marriage here. 

*I will never advocate remaining in a situation that involves cases of physical, mental or verbal abuse. Please seek professional help if you are in this situation. I believe that God can work miracles in your relationship, but that might require distance and professional help first. You are a child of God and worthy of much more.

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Always think the best of him. Assume the best so that you are never overly critical. It’s so much easier to think the best, then to apologize for rushing to judgment. Trust that he loves you and would never want to hurt you intentionally.

“I’m sure he meant to get to these dishes. The kids must have been tough tonight.” Instead of, “what an ass! He knows I don’t want to do all these dishes”. I’ve done that second one a few times and it bit me in the ass. haha. I know I leave the dishes until the morning if it’s crazy-ville and should give him the same courtesy.

Be open and honest. This is super important. Communication is key. I can tell my husband anything. I mean anything….. We don’t have “big discussions” because we don’t need to. We work out everything together. I have a certain way that I like things, and other things I don’t care about. We sat down and talked about who would handle what, and what decisions we wanted to be the “voice” of and what decisions the other person could handle. I know how he likes to be loved, and the things I can do to support him.

Honor the stuff that is important to each other.  I honor the stuff that is important to him, and he respects my decisions about stuff that is important to me. I used to hate football….I know…it’s hard to admit. I decided years ago that I would just honor his love for the game. I would make these cute spreads since I loved appetizers and hosting. Then, I would sit and watch the games with him. I was content to eat and hang out, he was content to hang with me and watch the game. What was a “sacrifice” turned into a love of the game. We now have complete ND rituals with songs and gear…haha.

Notre dame

He knows how important “girl time” is to me. He makes sure I always have some wine in the bar, and often will just suggest that I “go out by myself for a few hours”. This past fall, he flew me to Atlanta to surprise my girlfriend for her birthday. It was just an amazing time. As I rocked with her on her porch with a cold beer in my hand, I got a text message that said “I love you. Don’t let her pay for anything this weekend.” As a single mom, he wanted my girlfriend to feel supported and cared for. It spoke volumes into her heart and mine. Whenever I mention a “girls’ night” or a “girls’ weekend”, he always helps me to make it happen.

Laugh. I can’t tell you how much this man makes me laugh. Even when I’m trying to be serious and discuss something with him. There is nothing better than laughter and what joy it brings to the heart. We constantly have inside jokes, or make references to Seinfeld, King of Queens, or The Office episodes. If you know my husband in real life, he is truly one of the funniest people EVAH……

Put each other first. Trust me. I love my kiddos. If you flip through my instagram, you can see how much I love the joy that they bring to our home. However, my husband always comes first. For us, that means plenty of date nights, yearly vacations alone, and just time together. Every saturday, we take our coffee and tea into our sitting room, and chat about the week ending and the week approaching. The kids know not to enter this room at this time. It’s our sacred time weekly. We cuddle and just relax.  In addition, Now that my oldest has started babysitting for us, we have also been able to slip out for breakfast few times a month together.

anniversary breakfast

Perfect marriages do not exist. But good marriages do.

They are the product of love, and selfless actions on the part of each other.

They are built brick by brick into the beautiful home that others see.

So…embrace the fight…embrace the struggle…and join countless other couples in fighting for a good marriage.

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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.

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Being a mom…..

Sometimes I write a whole new blog…and sometimes I find an old blog that still speaks the same “truths” to my heart…..enjoy…. Happy Mother’s Day!

Chasing time and Drinking wine

What is being a mom?

I have been thinking a lot about this tonight in light of Mother’s Day and what it means. For every mom, it will be different. I am blessed to be surrounded in my life by some beautiful, selfless moms. They have helped shape the woman that I am today and they continue to “push” me to new heights of loving my children.

Do I feel that I am a wonderful mom?

Yes….but not because I have taken countless surveys or read countless blogs about the “top 10 ways to be a good mom”. Good Lord, you will drive yourself nuts trying to be “everything” that the newest bloggers recommend. I believe that I am a wonderful mom because I strive DAILY to be a good mom. Because I believe that my children will grow up strong, and ready for whatever life hands them when they…

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