Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

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It was a rough year. Instead of heading into this year with bouncing enthusiasm, I find myself walking softly with quiet strength. I have emerged from these last four years…. strong. I am strong. I can do hard things. I will continue to do hard things. 

I spoke at an Advent retreat in Portland. There were two amazing nuns. They both talked about controlling our reactions, not our emotions, but the actions that follow our emotions. 

Then one of them said something striking. She said, “God tells us many times in the Bible, ‘Do not be afraid’ but He never says, “Do not feel afraid.” 

I’ve been praying about this lately. I’ve been trying to cultivate more joy and hope in my life and whenever I find myself spiraling into darkness or fear, then I immediately feel guilty about it. I’m not joking, I often sing Vacation Bible School songs to pull me out of it. 

My hope is in the Lord, I belong to Him, He will never let me go-oh-oh-ooooo

But when I heard the nun say, the Bible never says, “Do not feel afraid,” it gave me so much peace. Of course, it’s okay that I feel fear! Of course, it’s okay that anxiety bubbles up and I feel unsure about what I’m doing. 

The important part is that I don’t give into that fear and let it paralyze me. That I don’t become fear. That I don’t let my worries keep me from loving the people around me or from living my life.  

I will not BE afraid.

Have courage and do not fear the assaults of the Devil. Remember this forever; it is a healthy sign if the devil shouts and roars around your conscience, since this shows that he is not inside your will.
– St. Padre Pio

My patron saint for the year is Joan of Arc and I can already see how she’s setting up shop in my heart and asking me to be brave. It doesn’t look like swords, it looks like trust. I can see that God is asking me to trust Him. 

This year more than any other, I’m staring into a fuzzy grey box for the future. We might sell our business and take on a completely different lifestyle. I know a big change is coming but I have no idea what it is. I can’t plan for it, I can’t read about it, I can’t make a to-do list for it. And so my work this year is to step quietly into my domestic life and to serve my family. 

My theme this year, and I don’t usually pick a theme or a word to follow but this year I really felt like all of my goals were asking the same thing: consistency. After a few years of not having much control of my house, I feel so deeply blessed to be able to walk, to clean, to teach my children, and to simply manage my home. I want to do that this year consistently. 

I will be brave and I will put my head down and take care of my family not knowing what’s going to happen in American politics, what’s going to happen if an economic slowdown comes, what’s going to happen as the Catholic Church grapples with more struggles. I will love and work consistently and I will trust God. 

He sees the future and if all I can really plan is what I’m doing today, that is enough. For me, trust is the opposite of fear. I trust that I will be enough, that God is enough, that my little life is enough. 

My husband and I often chuckle that our 50’s will be our golden years. This is usually while multiple children are crying or have poop in their diapers. But I’ll be honest, I’ve met a lot of couples in their 50’s lately who tell me about the emotional stretching that’s required to raise teenagers and young adults… of the confusing role shift of caring for ailing parents… of the heartbreak of losing friends to cancer. I’m not sure our 50’s will be any less challenging than these years. 

And so lately I’ve been saying, Heaven will be worth it. As I feel nearly swallowed by the noise in my house, by the relentless task of parenting, by the confusing trials of marriage, I think… this is hard but Heaven will be worth it. 

God did not tell us not to feel afraid. He sees our fear and He wants to comfort us. He sees our worries and He wants to wipe them away. When you see the scary things in your future, even if they are just imagined, close your eyes, take a deep breath and picture yourself crawling into the lap of God the Father. He will hold you tight until you calm down. 

Do not be afraid, for I am with you. 

Thank you for listening to Coffee & Pearls and have a blessed day!

P.S. The Catholic Women Shine goals course closes on January 6th. Check it out here at www.catholicwomenshine.com