Tag Archives: God

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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Who says birthdays have to be “self”-ish….let’s chat about A “Community Service” birthday party….

While planning the “Murder Mystery party” for Sweet Pea this past weekend (more on that subject later), I was reminded that I never blogged on Sweet Pea’s party last year. I have to say that it was the party that SHE and I were the most “proud” of.

The idea for the “selfless” party started when we were listening to Klove radio one morning. Sweet Pea, in her typical spirit of introspection, was listening to Matthew West’s “Do Something”. Here it is if you haven’t heard it before:

The song is really a “call to action” for us Christians. It’s a reminder that we need to “do something” about the poverty, injustice, and hurt in our world today. That God calls us to be that “someone” and to do what we can to help others.

As Sweet Pea listened to that song, and sung her heart out, she finished with, “Mom, I need to do more. Maybe this year, instead of my birthday, I will just donate my  birthday money to the poor.” To say that I’m proud of her selfless heart is an understatement. This child was also the one who tightly hugged my mom’s neck when she learned that one of her Christmas presents, two years ago, was a goat donated to a poor family in Haiti. I wish you could have seen her enthusiasm at knowing that that little goat was providing that family with milk for the year.

With this new found enthusiasm to help others, we worked together to devise a plan for her eleventh birthday party. After thinking of countless ways we could help others, we decided to combine several ideas and create a “Community Service birthday party”. A day in which we came together to thank God for the gift of her life and yet offer multiple opportunities to put others first. This party was about asking her friends to help her “do something” for those less fortunate around her. After discussing her party ideas with several people, Her friends were equally as excited about this gathering.

So here was the party:

Decorations: none. This had to be one of the simplest parties. No decorations. For the invitations, I sent free birthday evites.

Activities:

The girls started by making large casseroles for our parish church. The church has freezers where they store large casserole donations for a local men’s homeless shelter. Sweet Pea had taken two large casserole dishes from the church to fill up for the party. The girls were eager to help !

 

Next, the girls worked in a different room to create happy “birth” day cards for all the new babies on the labor/delivery wing of our local hospital. I called the hospital and spoke with guest services and they were thrilled to help us in getting these passed out to all the new moms.

 

We had another group of girls working on making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the local soup kitchen. We were able to make about four loaves of bread to donate and the call to the supervisor was met with such enthusiasm.

Food: A chickfilia tray was a “must” for a party like this…super simple and a great organization to be supporting. Cheese/crackers, fruit, pretzels and other chips rounded out the night. Everything was disposable and super simple to clean up since we were concentrating on making food for others rather than eating ourselves.

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Gifts: Sweet Pea had asked all her friends, instead of presents, to bring diapers, wipes, and baby items to be donated to the local pregnancy center or canned goods to be delivered to a local food pantry. I watched, with pride, as she delivered them to the pregnancy center….a huge smile on her face…and then to see the director offer her a huge hug for thinking of them. We even had the priviledge of delivering two check donations from the parents of two of her friends. What a sweet birthday present for Sweet Pea!

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This was such a great way to honor what’s important to Sweet Pea, helping others. As a homeschooling mom, I am so happy to see the beautiful girls that Sweet Pea has in her life……little ladies that are learning how important it is to reach out and be “a light” in this world that needs more love and joy.

In the words of Matthew West, “It’s not enough for us to do nothing, it’s time for us to do something!”

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When kids can’t just be kids…..

Today when I was driving my kiddos to adoration, we started discussing all the prayer requests for this week. It seems like there are many. Pregnant friends and family, families struggling with medical issues and financial hardships, and other friends who are a struggling in their faith.

My own mind flooded with my own family’s concerns.

I started to get inundated with worries about monthly budgets; thoughts of the holidays; and the schooling of my children.

I had started to let my mind wander …and then I was snapped by to reality……

when this  happened….

My son started in on “ISIS” and the attacks on Paris.

You could hear a pin drop in my minivan. The same minivan where I had just been screaming about a true lack of calm with the radio blasting, and young kids fighting…..was now silenced and awaiting my response.

Then I heard the Fashionista say, “Stop! I don’t want to talk about this. I was happy thinking about my chorus practice and dance class and now you want to ruin my day…”

I get it, little girl……but it’s not fair nor just. 

I had been avoiding this discussion….

Why?

Because it’s a topic that’s tough for even adults to discuss.

It makes us uncomfortable to discuss the horrors of ISIS.

But…..then “Kids can’t just be kids” right now.

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I can’t just send my kids outside to play and turn a blind eye to the hurting people of Paris, or the thousands of children, women, and men who are fleeing their country for a better life.

I can’t discuss “eating their peas” when their “barbie/lego world” has been interrupted by scenes of bloodied bodies along the streets of Syria and Paris.

I try to keep my children out of adult conservations and limit what they are exposed to. However, my job is also to continuously remind myself and my children of our daily mission.

” We must continuously draw others to Christ, daily, by our lives.”

If I make it a priority, to teach my children about the heroism of St. Maria Goretti, and the small acts of love taught by the  “Little Flower”, and the servant’s heart of St. Francis…

How can I not honor the martyrs of this century?

or the countless people who sat with these poor souls to give them a beautiful death??

How can I not assure them that although their grievances involve decreased technology time or eating enough vegetables, that other children their age fight to live in a peaceful home and struggle to survive?

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Because…I can’t think in my head that my kids are “spoiled” or “unappreciative” when they are truly unaware of the other concerns that pervade the minds of other children their age.

So…I started off by telling them the truth….

Satan is real. And he doesn’t wear red and carry a pitch fork. He’s in the hearts and minds of everyone who seeks to kill and destroy.  He can make men do evil things….unspeakable things to each other.  We don’t need to watch the horrible things on the TV. We just need to pray for all those Christians who are killed and persecuted. We need to pray for the innocent children who get caught up in the evils of adults. 

I watched the color drain from their precious faces. It was pretty tough to watch.

So I took a deep breath, said a short prayer to the Holy Spirit..and started in….

I know all of this seems so scary. But you have to remember that OUR GOD is bigger than all of this. The same God that parted the Red Sea is with us. He is the same who is, who was, and who is to come. He is faithful and merciful. And He loves us.

We need to pray for the strength for whatever God asks of us.

We then finished with the St. Michael’s prayer…..

“St. Michael, the archangel. Defend us in battle. Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke him, we humbly prayer. And do thou, oh prince of the heavenly host, by the power of God, cast into hell, Satan, and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

We need to “fix our eyes” on Christ.

Lord, give me the grace and strength to really live this message.

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Good Friday…. Is the cross enough?

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Is the Cross enough? How do you feel about someone else paying the price for you?

How many times do we think about the Crucifixion?

How often do we look at the cross….really look?

For me, It’s a very hard thing to focus on. I try to avoid it as often as I can. I like to picture Jesus as the good looking “Surfer” Jesus…..or the Good Shepherd with the little lost sheep. However, focusing on only these aspects or depictions of Jesus is denying His true mission. He came to awaken the “dead”…..not just those who were physically dead but those who were also “dead” to the greatest commandment of Love. So many of the Pharisees were sticklers to the letter of the law, but not the spirit of the law.

With all the crime shows that I enjoy and can watch, I can not stomach many of the scenes of “The Passion of the Christ”.  My eyes are full of tears…. I feel sick to my stomach…and  I’m a blubbering mess. Why? Because I am brought to my knees. The cross is a reminder of a love that I can’t fathom. It’s a reminder to me of a love far greater than I can return. A real reminder of the brutality of sin and the actions of those who do nothing.

And on Good Friday, I must face that bloodied face…..I must watch My Lord take up His cross….my cross….knowing that my sins nailed him there.

Is the cross enough….to change my life?????

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This lent I have been taking part in an online Lenten reflection with Redeemed Online.  It was set up by one of my friends from Franciscan University as a means to draw us closer to Christ this Lent. It was a series of 2-3 minute daily videos from Catholic speakers around the world. It was just what this overwhelmed, tired momma needed. A video that came right to my email and could set up my day with Christ. The latest video was from a personal friend who runs the Dirty Vagabond Ministries. Please take a second to check out all the amazing work my friend, Bob is doing with his ministry after watching this video.

Ouch….that cuts deep. Bob is right. I’m one of those people in the crowd.

Too weak to live my life radically committed to Christ….

I wish I could be like St. John…..a pillar of strength for Our Lady. He never denied Christ. He was loving…he stood at the foot of the cross. He was not ashamed.

But scripture tells me that “God mercies are renewed every morning.” Today is a new day.

In fact, everyday is.

And I have time to recommit my life…and my heart.

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This picture captures the beauty of an hour of my morning.

A hot cup of vanilla tea…some beautiful Catholic music…..and some quiet time to focus on the cross.

It was the main meal for this hungry girl’s soul.

The children surprised us with “dessert”….. a beautiful rendition of the Stations of the Cross.

Jesus meets His Mother

Jesus meets His Mother

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Veronica wipes the face of Jesus.

Jesus meets the Women of Jerusalem.

Jesus meets the Women of Jerusalem.

Jesus is nailed to His cross.

Jesus is nailed to His cross.

He is alive!

He is alive!

Kids have such simple faith. They believe. They desire God. They trust that they are loved and desired by God. Watching their Stations play, helped remind me how simple Jesus’s message was: Love

Is the Cross enough?

Yes

…and it calls me to greatness.

It beckons my soul to seek to return such greatness…..

To love without hesitation or reservation.

What about you? Is it enough to change you?

God Bless,

Tammi

 

 

A quick “7 takes” on our signs of Lent…..

Signs!!!

A pictoral reminder of something that we are suppose to want to remember, right?!

A reminder to “focus” on the “task at hand”.

So I’m linking up for 7 quick takes over at “This Ain’t the Lyceum”.

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 So this blog post is just a “quick 7 takes” about the Signs of Lent in our home!

family calendar  1.) Scheduling:

I got to tell you that few things make me happier than a great “tip”. So you can imagine my joy when my girlfriend told me about this awesome dry erase calendar at Pottery Barn Teen. We have been using it in our school room religiously. (For those of you wondering….the colorful book tags are bible verses that we are memorizing this year.) However, when I found these awesome calendar tags for Lent over at Shower of Roses…it was a perfect combination to an already great set up!

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I also used her cool printouts to decorate the kid’s area for Lent.

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2.) Visual Kid-friendly Reminders

If you want your kids to take responsibility for their Lenten sacrifices and really make the “most” of this period in the church, it’s important to have an area of your home that reflects this. Every year we use our door to the basement to hang the children’s personal Lenten calendars. It’s a countdown of the 40 days which they color as they “count down”. We also sit down with each child, and write down what they are giving up or adding to their day. The little ones, 5 and under, we let give up something different each week.

This year we had one of our children give up their bed for all of Lent; another take up a 30 min. bible devotion at night; and another pick a week of doing good deeds for her siblings. We are always impressed with how they really “dig in” this Lent. On Sundays, we review their week with them.

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3.) Family Lenten Devotions

During Lent, we also pick family devotions to help our family grow closer to Christ. Each day highlights a specific action or form of worship/prayer that we will take part in as a family. Listed above is our breakdown for the week.

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4.) Simplicity of the home

All year, our house is adorned in various decorations. This simple table reminds the kids of the simplicity of this time of year…..preparation. Our Lenten decorations are simple, so as to be a stark contrast to the colorful flowers and bright Easter decorations.

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The children love the ever- changing mantel and seeing what holidays are coming up next. During Lent,  our mantle is pretty bare and it focuses on the simplicity of the season.

5.) Reduction of electronic usage

I have a love affair with TV. I love to watch various shows. I’m a Cold Case, every single CSI show and episode, and Law and Order junkie. I try and speed through the commercials so I can squeeze two shows into my one hour  of “mommy time” in the afternoon. It’s ridiculous. However, I hate what it does to my children. It turns them from super loving to easily annoyed; focused and attentive to little zombies; and it drives me insane! So our TV time is GONE on Mondays during Lent. It’s tough….but we are doing great!

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6.) Increased-one-on one time/ Family Togetherness!

In the picture above, the fashionista and I are working on a crossword puzzle. I had saved several of these puzzles for a “rainy day” but realized that it was just something else that we never get to. This season we are trying to spend more time pulling out the board games, and the Uno cards.

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The hubs and I have also found that when the children are focused on “denying” themselves during Lent,  that it creates a more loving atmosphere in the home. There are a lot more hugs being given out and playful banter.

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Along with the board games, the hubs can’t resist the little voices that beckon him to color! With a dad that travels for work, these children soak up their time with him when he is home.

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7.) Almsgiving: Random Acts of Kindness

I started a project called Touched By His Light where I practice random acts of kindness in the name of my Catholic faith. My beautiful sister in law laminated some of my cards and gave them to me as a birthday present. Talk about “knowing me”. (I love sentimental gifts.) I pass out these cards ,when I do an act of kindness, so people understand that my loving gesture is really just allowing God to bless them through using me. My intention is that these recipients will begin to see God’s presence in their life.  So many beautiful people and families have benefited from this project.

There are signs all around us during this season. Making use of them in our lives will eventually lead to change. My prayer is that we all can embrace this change and allow the Lord to do a mighty work within us.

God bless,

Tammi

finding a piece of peace….

Have you ever craved the quiet? Longed for a silent retreat so you could clear your mind? Do you ever try and find that silence for yourself?

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 I don’t….

In fact, I spend much of my life at this pace. Totally crazy, high energy, lots of multi-tasking, late nights. I don’t take much time for myself. I don’t take much time for God to get a good, “one on one” with me.

But…that’s about to change.

I was talking with my middle child about being more ” present’ at Mass…as she is soon to receive her first penance and First Communion. I was speaking to her about how God speaks to us in the silence of our heart.

The silence of our heart.

What a beautiful concept….picturing our heart in the presence of the Lord…..

It made me realize that meditation and contemplation have to be taught. We need to teach our children to quiet themselves and allow God to speak to them. Do we provide opportunities for our children to be quiet, other than naps or bedtime? Sometimes it’s simply about making them work on their own.

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In order to begin this process with my kids, I need to instill more quiet time in our home…. Starting today.

My plan is to create an area or prayer corner in my home, an area where the children can relax and read a saint story or the little girls can finger the rosary beads and pray. However, until that happens, I need to offer my children opportunities for quiet.

Today was just about everyone getting an hour of quiet time to themselves.

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Mini Me fell asleep rather quickly behind the couch.

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The Fashionista set up herself with some Disney princesses pretty quick.

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Sweet Pea went right to her room for a little Laura Ingles Wilder.

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I found DDD building lego stuff inside his closet.

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And well…..I was DEFINITELY making use of this time as well. After some quick prayer time, I just took some time to bask in the silence and got in a little nap myself.

Silence is so important for our mind. It’s so important for us to remove the distractions of this world from our presence. To just sit in the presence of the Lord. We don’t need to be in adoration to place ourselves in the presence of the Lord. We just need an open heart and ears ready to listen.

It’s so important that we teach our children how to desire the quieter moments as well.

My hope is that this Sunday hour of silence will just be a “seed” that I plant within their heart.

That this “seed” will grow as they grow.

As the year continues, and our prayer corner is established, my prayer is that my children will come to desire silence and seek it in their prayer life.

God bless,

Tammi

Preparing for Lent…Let’s clean house…..

I need Lent….no…seriously….no laughing… I NEED lent….

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like a runner needs water….

like a tired momma needs her wine at the end of the day….

This momma gets worn out…

After the excitement of the holidays, I start to drag and evidentially end up in survival mode….

I go from “I should wake up early to workout” to “How long can I sit here until I NEED to make dinner?” I love my family but the daily grind of being a mom, housewife, and homeschooling mom can really wear on me during the cold winter days…..

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The Church, in her wisdom, knows that around February…this momma needs to work on her “inner house”.  At this point, it’s hardly liveable……It’s kinda like that junk drawer that you know you need to clear out, or the basement you think about as you just close the door behind you. The Church is like that dear friend that comes over to help you “clear out your closet”…..you complain and stress about her coming over, but then you feel so good as you tackle stuff together. It’s that love/hate relationship that we have with growth…..we procrastinate starting it…..cry and struggle through it….and at the end, we ask ourselves what took us so long to get started.

So….I’ve done the “procrastinating thing” all year or the “kicking and screaming thing” like the photo above with DDD. But…now momma’s ready to “clean house”. (Got my rag on it…let’s do this…haha)

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Very similar to the cleaning of my physical house, I gotta work on the same things. The dust, and crumbs are replaced by….yelling and procrastinating. Scrubbing toliets and mopping floors….with being quick to anger, and lacking in kindness….and just writing them makes me feel terrible. However, like I tell the kids, you have to “own” your mistakes, be truly sorry, and ask for forgiveness. I’m not the mom that I should be. I’m not the mom God has called me to be.  And…..let’s be honest, I can read a billion blogs that will tell me that “I work hard enough” and that “being a mom is tough”, or that I “shouldn’t be so hard on myself, because we all fall short”. And those words, and those “voices”, stunt my growth. They are lies, that our society feeds off of……so that none of us “feel bad”.

But this morning, I also sat learning from myself…..somebody that I knows “gets me”. haha. I re-read some of my old Lenten blogs….You can delve into them yourself here and here. It’s somewhat humbling to read the blogs that I wrote last year or two years ago and I am still struggling with the same stuff. However, isn’t that what sin is? Struggling with the same vices over the over? As much as I would love to just “fast” from chocolate or wine, I know that the Church is calling me to a greater “fast” that only I can pinpoint.

This Lent I’m not running from my vices…I’m owning them. I desire change. Now whether or not I completely conquer my vices is not important…it is the daily effort that will change me. I desire to be a walking example of the mom I want to be and the person that others, who love me, deem that I am. So my 40 days begins, and the evolution starts.

My” tomorrow” starts today.

And just as the walk to Calvary was long and painful, I know this Lent will be too. I will need to increase my prayer time, and “arm” myself for the various situations that will present themselves this Lent.

May your embrace your vices this Lent and seek real change. My prayers are with you!

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