Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

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It’s that time of year, we’re slowly taking our eyes off the beauty of summer and beginning to think about the impending chaos joy of fall, which for many of us means the start of the school year. Before I had school-aged kids, I always thought September marked the beginning of fall but now I see that the back-to-school craziness begins in August both for homeschoolers and traditional school parents.

And so the lies begin.

  • If I only had the right planner…
  • If I only had the right wall calendar…
  • If I only had the perfect backpack/shoe set-up by the front door…
  • Maybe the bento lunch box will help me pack healthier lunches…
  • Maybe a commonplace journal for each of the kids will encourage more reading…
  • Maybe this computer program will trick the kids into loving their math work…

Y’all know I love me some systems. I love being efficient and productive. I want my house to be like a fortune 500 company meets a peaceful monastery. But this year… I’m still me. I still have the same strengths and the same weaknesses. I’m not going to suddenly change my personality in August.

No amount of planners, highlighters, bullet-journaling, washi tape, or kitchen command center tools are going to change who I am.

But don’t worry, this is actually great news! Here’s why:

First, you’re already more awesome than you think. The fact you’re even reading this means you’re trying to grow. It means you want to be a good mom, a good wife, and a good Catholic woman. God loves you more than you’ll ever know and you have the grace of Mary inside of you. Nothing you can do can take that away from you.

Second, by simplifying your expectations, you’ll actually be a more calm and happy you. Instead of chasing ALL THE THINGS, if you can take a deep breath and focus on simply loving the Lord and caring for your family, you’ll find that a lot of the other noisiness in your life becomes less important.

Third, we crush our goals when we approach them from a place of peace instead of fear. When you accept that you don’t need to win the rat race of life/school/popularity/wealth, you can choose things that help you maintain your peace.

And yes, sometimes that means tools like planners, highlighters, and bullet journals.

See the difference? If you think a planner is going to magically transform your life and bring you peace, you’re going to be disappointed when it doesn’t. Worse, you’ll probably feel guilt or shame thinking that something is wrong with you because it didn’t work when you were so sure it would. You must be broken since the planner was great, right?

This year I want you to sit down and say to yourself, “I’m enough. I’m strong. I’m brave. I have so much love to give. I am a good mom. I am a good wife. God loves me just the way I am. There is nothing I can do to earn His mercy and it’s always there for me.”

Recently a Catholic blogger who was young and had X children died of cancer. Another women in one of my Facebook groups delivered her baby at 31 weeks and sadly the baby died a few days later.

We are not long for this world.

Many of the things we worry about are completely useless. This year I want you to continually ask yourself, “Do I need to be doing this? Does my family need to be doing this? Who am I really doing this for?”

If you can get a planner that helps you ask this question, do it. If you can create a kitchen command center that centers your focus on Jesus, do it. If holding a beautiful blue highlighter reminds you to live with humility like Mary, get one. Just remember that these are just tools. They do not make up who you are.

I have a confession to make. I have never successfully filled out a planner for twelve months… ever. I always start out with the best of intentions but I never seem to maintain the practice. I have finally embraced the glory of the Google calendar, especially as life has gotten busier and I keep a tiny spiral notebook with me to write down all my to-do lists and ideas… oh I have so many ideas!

To that end, I don’t spend a lot of time touting planners and truthfully, there have been very few that have even piqued my interest a little bit.

But when Nancy of Do Small Things with Love posted a picture of her new planner, I thought wow, a Catholic planner that looks…. simple. And who doesn’t love some gold foil? I moved on, reminding myself that I don’t really use planners.

Then a few days later, she posted pictures of the inside. Again, I was surprised at how simple and elegant it was. It wasn’t fussy and yet it included some features that I think are really important like monthly goals and weekly habit tracking. I thought to myself, “I bet Coffee & Pearls people and Catholics Crush Goals people would like that.” so I posted it on Facebook and tons of you liked it!

Then… as if reading my mind, Nancy said, “Hey do you want to check this out? I’ll mail you one.” This made sense to me since most people who listen to my podcast also listen to hers. I said yes and figured I’d snap some pictures, share how awesome it was, and then give it to a friend.

It showed up two days later so I’m convinced Nancy has some Catholic fairies working behind the scenes at her business… and when I opened it I fell in love. Like… I really really love it. It’s as if she sent those fairies to spy on me and created a planner that does nearly everything I want.

  1. No scripty fonts. Lord, deliver me from scripty fonts that I can’t read. Bless you Nancy for your san-serif fonts that are easy to read.
  2. Every month leads you to Jesus through Mary. This is a woman who knows the power of Marian Consecration and how to actually live it out in daily life.
  3. Major feast days are listed on the side. I just love this. I often miss them when they’re small and inside the calendar but a simple vertical list with dates is brilliant.
  4. She’s always calling you to live intentionally. With goals for each month, a weekly meal plan section, and a weekly habit tracker, she’s inviting you to really live IN your week.
  5. NO TIMES! I mean… I just never thought I’d find a planner with this feature. Thank you, thank you, thank you Nancy. I have never needed all times spelled out for me from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. I want to put in the appointments I have and I can easily list the times. I love the simplicity of this feature and it allows the week view to be uncluttered. Nancy is a true minimalist.
  6. The size is just perfect. I have often found that most planners were too big or too small but this ones seems just right for carrying around.

So now a plot twist I didn’t see coming… I’m going to keep it and use it! I may still crash and burn after three months because hey, I’m still me. But this simplicity of this planner already brings me joy and points me to Christ and in the end, those are my favorite tools and the ones that I continue to use.

If you’re already thinking about diving into the noisiness of school routines and ALL THE SUPPLIES, take a deep breath. Remember that you are not the success of your kids. You are not the shininess of organization system. You are not loved anymore for being more organized. Your job is to pursue peace because deep down, you know that Christ died for your sins and God loves you more than your brain could ever comprehend.

That is your beauty. That is your truth.

Cling to that and don’t let the impending ads, sales, and school paperwork steal that from you.

And if you still need a planner… go check out Nancy’s here!

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