Coffee & Pearls is a weekly podcast where I share wisdom to help Catholic Moms get a better handle on their lives. If you don’t want to listen to the podcast… no problem! The entire episode has a corresponding blog post that you can read instead!

Less Stressful Summer Series

Less Stressful Summer Series

This is a four-part series but it will all be in this one post! Scroll down to find the particular thing you’re worried about for the upcoming summer!

Less Stressful Summer – Part One

SETTING BOUNDARIES

 

Play podcast episode here:

 

Here are some examples that I talk about:

  • Getting scolded for being a party pooper not wanting to be gone from the house all day events or camping
  • Balancing downtime/freetime/playtime/friend time
  • Balancing homeschooling with fun things like beach
  • Over schedule.
  • Planning the day, Not having a routine, Lack of structure
  • Not living up to kid expectations
  • Blowing budget on kids
  • Too many activities to choose from

If you are struggling with setting boundaries. Here is the process I recommend going through:

1. Create A Personal Philosophy

Spend some time in prayer, read your Bible, go to Adoration, and discover what you really value. Is it a slow and peaceful schedule? Do you want to give your kids experiences? Do you like being busy? Do you want a structured day? Are you being honest with yourself about your finances?

2. Outline a Schedule

Based on the philosophy you’ve created, decide what you’re going to spend your time, money, and energy on. 

3. Communicate Boundaries

Communicate your decisions to your family, friends, yourself, or whoever needs to know about what you’ve decided. You don’t need to explain your reasons why but if you feel comfortable doing so, it often helps people understand where you’re coming from. If you need to set strong boundaries with yourself, write yourself a phrase on a sticky note or a letter to read if your resolve weakens. 

 

Less Stressful Summer – Part Two

THINGS THAT ANNOY YOU

 

Play podcast episode here: 

 

Here are some examples that I talk about:

  • Bored kids.
  • Chaotic house. (Messy, noise)
  • Fighting Kids
  • Kids who don’t listen
  • Kids Make messes
  • Don’t want to entertain them all day
  • Sunscreen

If you are struggling with things that annoy you, here are the steps I recommend:

1. Decide if you’re being reasonable or not.

Is it reasonable for you to be annoyed or do you need to adjust your expectations?

2. Outline a Discipline Plan

If you want less of the annoying behavior, create systems to prevent it and a discipline plan with clear consequences. It’s also important to create an escalation plan (i.e. child asks you the same question more than once… gets a 2 minute timeout… if child whines about the timeout… spends 5 minutes in her room… if the child doesn’t go straight to her room… goes to bed 15 minutes early, etc.) 

3. Communicate Boundaries

Communicate your decisions to your family, friends, yourself, or whoever needs to know about what you’ve decided. You don’t need to explain your reasons why but if you feel comfortable doing so, it often helps people understand where you’re coming from. If you need to set strong boundaries with yourself, write yourself a phrase on a sticky note or a letter to read if your resolve weakens. 

 

Less Stressful Summer – Part Three

HARDSHIP & DISCOMFORT

 

Play podcast episode here:

 

Here are some examples that I talk about:

  • Working at home with mentally ill child
  • Husband’s allergies
  • Being a farmer – it’s breakneck do or die
  • Big life transitions
  • Not having AC
  • Having to find childcare
  • Having a newborn
  • Kids too little to do the things I want to do in summer like swimming
  • Being pregnant
  • Sunshine – makes my skin feel like it’s burning
  • Humidity
  • Sand
  • Heat
  • Gardening

If you are struggling with hardship or discomfort, here are the steps I recommend:

1. Troubleshoot/Problem Solve

This is not a step to be rushed! Create some space on your calendar to sit down and simply think about this problem. Ask yourself, “Have I done everything to solve this issue? Am I missing some resources or systems that could help me?” 

2. Acceptance

Once you think you have done everything you can in the way of research and understanding your problem, the next step is to simply accept your current situation. Accept that this is the cross God has given you embrace it. That doesn’t mean you have to stop problem solving but you should not be living in a constant state of guilt, fear, or feeling like you’ve screwed up. 

3. Mercy

Be gentle with yourself. Goodness know God is endlessly gentle with you. His mercy never dries up or goes away. 

4. Offer It Up

 

Less Stressful Summer – Part Four

DEALING WITH FEAR

 

Play podcast episode here:

 

Here are some examples that I talk about:

  • Ticks and Lyme, mosquitos

  • Drowning

  • Sunscreen, red dye, gluten, all the things

  • Spiders, Snakes, other vermin

  • Wearing shorts

If you are struggling with hardship or discomfort, here are the steps I recommend:

1. Deep Work

Set aside some time to really think about this issue. Is this a deep subconscious fear or is this more of an intellectual fear? Are you reacting in a proportionate way to the threat? Do whatever research is necessary for you to fully understand both your fear and potential tools you can help to prevent or mitigate the thing you’re scared of. 

2. Make A Plan

Now that you have done some soul searching and some research, make a plan. Do you need tools? Do you or your kids need training? Do you need counseling? Create a plan for dealing with your fear. 

3. Give It To God

Last, acknowledge that God is the only one who has control. There isn’t anything we can do to fully protect our children. Give your fear over to Him.  

Meal Planning Tips

Meal Planning Tips

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

  1. ABT! Always be thawing! It’s hard to make food when it’s frozen. Although, thanks to modern technology, the Instant Pot does help you overcome this if you still forget!
  2. Batch starches and veggies. Whether you eat rice, pasta, potatoes or whatever veggies, make huge batches and keep them in the fridge.
  3. Sauces are your friend! Find sauces you like and then keep them (or the ingredients to make them on hand.)
  4. Streamline whatever you can! That means eating the same thing for breakfast or the same thing every Monday. Routines are your friend!
  5. 30 Day Retrospective. Keep track of your meals for a month, then look back and use that as a guide to meal plan for the next month!
  6. Plan around leftover meat! We will cook an entire turkey and then for the whole week this is how we eat it: faux Thanksgiving, yellow turkey curry, and then turkey soup!
  7. Minimize new recipes! Avoid trying new recipes unless you really have the energy and enjoy it!
  8. No snacks for you! Don’t allow your kids to snack all day. Have 1-2 foods they always have access to that aren’t very exciting.
  9. Water for everyone! Seriously, this will make your life better.
  10. Plan for fun! Plan frozen food and eating out nights because you’re going to do them anyway!

Apple shallot pork chops – these are great. Sometimes if I feeling really nice to Michael… I leave out the shallots 😉 https://sarahfragoso.com/hog-heaven/

Meatballs – these are the ones I make like 300 of. I kind of wing the spices every time and I use 1/3 of the onions. https://sarahfragoso.com/magnificant-meatballs/

Peanut sauce chicken – We start with chicken and add whatever veggies. I only add the Sirachi sauce to mine and Michael’s: http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com/…/spicy-thai-peanut-chicke…/

Fish sticks – everyone loves these! https://elanaspantry.com/fish-sticks/

Chicken strips – everyone loves these… but I don’t like them as leftovers… because I’m a big baby: https://wellnessmama.com/8427/chicken-fingers/

Turkey Soup: We use leftover turkey to make this soup: http://www.primalpalate.com/paleo…/grandy-kyps-chicken-soup/

Honey Mustard Chicken (or ham) – I also make up the proportions for this every time but here’s something that looks similar to what I do: http://www.goodlifeeats.com/easy-honey-mustard-baked-chick…/

Salmon Cakes – I either use fresh salmon or canned salmon, add in eggs, some almond flour and Parmesan cheese and fry them up. They’re really yummy!

Pulled BBQ Pork: I also toss a tenderloin in the crock pot or the instant pot with half a bottle of BBQ sauce, 1-2 cups water and onions. It’s super easy. Don’t sweat the sauce in the beginning. Store bought with sugar is fine to start. When you feel up to it, then you can try your hand at making your own without sugar!

Yellow Curry with Chicken or Turkey. We use whatever meat or veggies we have on hand. We use this yellow curry paste. This is spicy so only use a little. You can add more sirachi sauce to spice up yours!

You Don’t Have To Do Anything

You Don’t Have To Do Anything

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

I’m not quite up to typing these all out yet! My first trimester “everything makes me want to throw up” feelings are gone – praise God! I feel amazing except that this last few days I’ve been sleeping funny and getting tension headaches. I’m trying to puzzle that out but in general I’m thrilled to still be walking and feeling so strong. Thank you for your prayers!

Bringing Scents into Your Prayer Life

Bringing Scents into Your Prayer Life

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

I threw out some big news on the last Coffee & Pearls. We’re pregnant with baby number six whose due date is seven days after the last baby was born. That’s right, these kiddos will be almost exactly twelve months apart. To be honest, I’m still digesting it. I’m still breathing through this news. I’m probably 30% in denial and then 70% already so tired and irpy that I’m not thinking about anything.

But I am happy to share that my husband and I out of desperation, have started praying the rosary every night. I mentioned this in the last seven quick takes Friday. We’ve been doing it at 7 p.m. after the three little kids go to bed. Sometimes the older two join us and sometimes they don’t.

Even last night I was smiling as my 8-year-old sat next to my husband with her own rosary. It felt so peaceful. It felt so right. I rubbed my belly and thanked this baby for this gift. Even if this baby doesn’t get to stay on Earth with us, I will remember this gift that he gave our family.

I’ve written about the great power of the rosary a few times. Here are some of those articles:

Praying The Rosary Like Never Before

My Weapon of Choice

Spiritual Warfare

Now most of you know I’m a minimalist so I generally turn down review opportunities because, to be honest, I don’t feel that it’s right to review something I wouldn’t buy or keep. When I saw an opportunity to review the Aroma Rosary for catholicmom.com, I jumped at the opportunity because I felt the time had come for me to dip my toes back into the world of essential oils.

I guess you could say I’m kind of a crunchy mom. We don’t do much gluten, dairy, or sugar in our house. I make a homemade clear that the kids use. I did make my own laundry detergent once and it was easy but I think I’ve had five kids since then… so it hasn’t made the cut!

When I received some essential oils as a gift many years ago, I was excited. Essential oils seem to be a cornerstone in the crunchy mom community. I was a few months postpartum at the time and had been experiencing some postpartum depression. This was after Poppy, my second, was born. I wanted to lay down and rest a little, this was in the middle of the day and my husband was home so it was probably a Saturday.

I used the roller and rubbed some under my nose, on my wrists, and on my ankles. Almost immediately, I got a migraine headache. I started seeing black spots. I yelled for my husband to grab me a bowl and promptly threw up all the contents of my stomach. I then had to lay with a cold towel on my head in a completely dark room for three hours until that awful headache went away.

To say it was a scary experience would be a huge understatement. I’ve been kind of terrified of essential oils ever since then even though I know full well, it was probably not diluted enough or I used too much. I have always been very sensitive, I can barely tolerate caffeine.

So I’ve been wanting to give essential oils another chance since they seem to be the bee’s knees but I wasn’t sure how. Then up pops this Aroma Rosary kit and it felt like perfect timing! I didn’t choose which one they sent me but the one they sent is probably the one I would have chosen! It’s an all black rosary from their Victory line which references Our Lady of Victory from the battle of Lapanto. The beads are hematite and the mysteries are lava rock.

The kit comes with four essential oils, one for each mystery. I genuinely like the smell of each one. I kind of assumed that if I didn’t like one, I’d use them based on my mood but since I actually enjoy all of them, I do use the one that’s associated with each mystery based on the mystery I’m praying.

You simply put 1-2 drops of the essential oil on the rosary and it adds a wonderful element to this beautiful prayer. The Catholic Church often uses candles and scents to deepen our experience of the Liturgy. We love lighting candles and now, adding these beautiful scents to our prayer feels so right. The kids love it, of course, because kids love novelty and anything they can do.

The bottles themselves are a little tricky to open but I actually like that because there’s no way my little kids could open them.

The only drawback is the price. It’s steep. Full-sized rosaries are $79-120 and for some of you, that’s just not even an option. But for those of you who have parents, grandparents, or friends that are very hard to buy for, I think this would be a wonderful gift. It’s thoughtful, unique, and beautiful.

I love the idea of incorporating scents into our family prayer time. I’m sure there are many ways you could do this, even with simple candles. I would encourage you to pray the rosary with your husband at the very least and with your family if you feel up to it. Even if you simply did this on Fridays, to honor the Lord’s great sacrifice, it’d be a wonderful start and I promise, you’ll see the fruits of this in your family!

Go check out www.aromarosary.com!

How To Get More Done In Less Time

How To Get More Done In Less Time

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

I was putting together a webinar for my Marian Mastermind group about how Catholic women who do business online can get more stuff done in less time when I realized… most all of it applied to moms even if they don’t have businesses! I pulled all the relevant parts and put it in this week’s episode of Coffee & Pearls!

Do you wish you could get more done in less time?

Do you want to know how moms can get things done even with little kids around?

Do you wish you could stop wasting so much time on your phone or online?

This is the Coffee & Pearls episode for you!

And in this episode, I also explain that even though all the business books say NOT to let people into your course after you’ve closed it, I got so many emails and Facebook messages saying people were out of town and missed out on signing up for Catholic Women Shine and guys, it crushed me. I felt so bad. Then I decided, who cares what the man says? I’m my own boss and I say I can reopen it!

So, I SUPER DUER MEAN IT THIS TIME! Catholic Women Shine is open until midnight PST January 8th. You have to sign up by Tuesday night and then it closes FOREVER. Or at least for many, many months. 

I hope you love this episode of Coffee & Pearls. If you have any other “getting stuff done” challenge that you want help solving, reply to this email and I’ll make an episode about it or answer it in a Seven Quick Takes!

Blessings, 

Sterling

P.S. I’m not sure if you should bother since I plan on winning the whole thing but if you were interested, you can join me for the www.fitandholychallenge.com that starts January 16th. 

P.P.S. If you happen to be a Catholic mom who wants to do business online (or already does), then sign up for this Catholic Women Crush It webinar!

Silly Small Goals

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

It’s time to start building trust with yourself.

 

We’ve gotten really good at lying to ourselves. We do it without anyone knowing. It’s a toxic cycle that swirls in our minds and no one can see it. We wake up and we tell ourselves about all the things we’re going to do today.

 

“I’m going to be a great mom. I won’t lose my temper.”

“I’m going to go for a run.”

“I won’t spend too much time on my phone.”

“I’m going to make a fabulous dinner for my family.”

“I won’t look at houses on Zillow today.”

 

Whether big or small, we tell ourselves these lies. We set ourselves up for failure. We pin our hopes on things that we already know won’t come true.

 

We break trust with ourselves. Then we stop liking ourselves… for who can like someone they don’t trust?

 

Well, it is certainly a Christian trait that we can love those who don’t deserve it but the truth is, we rarely bestow this gift on ourselves.

 

We begin to resent ourselves, to feel bitter towards ourselves. And then worse of all, we begin to stop planning, to stop hoping. Whether because of the world or because of our own choices, we have failed so often to achieve our dream or even our small daily aspirations, that we feel there is no purpose in planning anymore.

My thirties have not been flirty, fabulous, and fun. I expected that I would have more poise… more control somehow. I do have a great deal more wisdom but in a way, that wisdom has taught me to desire simpler things. It’s not that I don’t dream big, but the big dreams are not the important ones. I have a few smashingly good dreams that would be amazing to realize someday but my top dreams are small and quiet.

Ultimately all my important dreams involve slipping quietly from this life into the next with great peace… and then leading my family to the same place.

So today on this New Year, I want to challenge you to do two things.

First, stop breaking trust with yourself. You deserve this. You deserve honesty. You deserve having someone in this world that you can rely on and it must begin with you.

Don’t set giant goals. Don’t set goals you’ve failed ten times before. Instead, set some really silly small goals. Goals that are so small, you will absolutely keep them.

  • Read two Bible verses per day.
  • Do five minutes of exercise and don’t even make yourself shower afterward.
  • Give your husband one kiss when he comes home from work.
  • Read one short book to your children.

When you begin to keep your own promises, you will feel a light grow inside of you. You will feel a calm strength that comes from knowing that when you say you’re going to do something, you mean it, you know you’ll do it. We have got to be women of integrity and to know deep down in our bones that we are, we have to begin treating ourselves with dignity and respect. We must keep our word. We must be honest about what we are capable of and what is good for us. And deep down, we know these truths. Spend some quiet time today asking yourself, “What do I really need?” And then create some silly small goals to build momentum toward this goal.

Second, dream some small dreams. These dreams are about love. Love is God and God is Heaven. It’s all mixed together. Fix your eyes on the beautiful end of this life and know that nothing in between is really that important. Love God and love every single person he puts in your path. Give them your presence. Give Him your presence. If you live a very simple and small life but one that is filled with love and on the path to Heaven, you will have more joy than if you achieve a big, loud dream that everyone else can see. I think big dreams are good too but they are not the most important.

Today is the last day to register for the Catholic Women Shine goals course. Remember, the worksheets (HERE) are free. This course is for women who want a sounding board, who want accountability, and who want the support other women who are struggling to figure out how to balance our faith with the swirling life right in front of us.

God gives each one of us sufficient grace to know His holy will, and to do it fully.
– St. Ignatius of Loyola

Forgiveness in Advent

Note: For some reason I couldn’t get my image to post so there’s no image today!

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

Advent is here. And while I wasn’t going to write an Advent-specific post, I feel compelled to. I had the pleasure of attending Mass at a small country parish for the first Sunday of Advent and the priest was delightful. He said two things that were so important, I really wanted to share them with you.

Begin Advent With Forgiveness

He urged all families to begin the Advent season with forgiveness. Although I always go to confession during Advent, he was advocating for forgiveness within the family. He suggested that we all get together and one-by-one say to each other, “I’m sorry for all the ways I’ve hurt you, will you please forgive me?” Such a simple sentence and yet such a powerful one at the same time.

I admit that as I pictured myself saying this to my family, starting with the little kids and working my way up to the oldest and then to my husband, I found myself tearing up at the thought of this exercise. Looking at my almost 8-year-old and telling her I was sorry for all the times I’ve hurt her… whew, it was an emotional idea!

And then my husband! I can’t remember the last time I asked for blanket forgiveness. I think it’s a great idea and one that every family should do this Advent season. We’re going to do ours this Friday.

Season of Preparation

The second point this priest made, quite strongly, was that Advent is a season of preparation. It’s not a season of partying. It’s not a season of desserts. He said, we must save the party for Christmas and I agree. The other thing I like about thinking of this as a season of preparation is that we can decorate and get ready.

We like to put out white lights as a guide to Mary. I once heard someone say they leave a candle burning in their front window as a sign to Joseph and Mary that they are welcome at their house and I’ve always loved that imagery. Ha, I’m sure it was a fake candle but the idea is still lovely. So we put up white lights all over our house with the same idea in mind.

As we get closer to Christmas, we’ll get a tree. Last, we’ll decorate the tree and prepare the house for Christmas. Then we party hard from Christmas to Epiphany.

We turn down all invitations to parties except one on Gaudette Sunday when our friends have an annual potluck. We make an exception for this… to be honest… for no real reason other than it’s what we’ve always done.

I’m not trying to be a scrouge on your December but please, keep in mind, this is a season of waiting. Throughout history, December was not a time for parties and cookies, it was a time of anticipation, of waiting, and of preparation. Try hard to create this feeling in your home even if we can’t hold back the wave of American Christmas that begins right after Thanksgiving. Tell your children why we are different. Tell them we are waiting to celebrate the day that God sent His son to Earth and what a glorious event it was.

If you’re already feeling frazzled, let me remind you, no one can make you attend an event. No one can make you spend money. No one can make you eat cookies. You have the choice and the power to create the kind of Advent season that you want.

Be brave. Be holy. Choose Christ.

Cultivate Peace This Holiday Season

Cultivate Peace This Holiday Season

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

The holiday season is upon us and as American commercialization pushes this at us earlier and earlier, I find myself wanting to hid earlier and earlier. The Christmas decorations are already out. The ads are blaring. Black Friday now starts the week before Black Friday. And all this noise and this visual stimulation stresses me out.

Literally.

My body gets literally stressed as my chest tightens and my breath becomes quicker and more shallow. This time of year causes all sorts of emotional things for me to pop up but I don’t always recognize that’s what’s happening in the moment. Sometimes I just find myself walking around feeling stressed and I don’t stop to ask why.

So here are the five steps you can figure out what’s going on with you and your body so you can transform your anxiety into peace all throughout the day.

Five Steps To Cultivate Peace in an Anxious Situation

  1. Notice When You Lose Your Peace

    The first step is to simply notice that you’ve lost your center of peace. You may feel anxious, scared, depressed, stressed, upset, etc. There are many words to describe that you don’t have a strong, unshakable sense of peace at the moment. The first step is just to notice that.

  2. Calm your body down.

    The second step is to calm your body down. Take a deep breath through your nose. Try to breathe in for 6 seconds, hold for 2 seconds, and then breathe out for 7 seconds. Do this a few times until you feel yourself calming down. Also change the posture of your body. When we do not have peace, our body has outward signs. Maybe our shoulders are slumped, maybe there is a tightness in our chest. Maybe your head is hung low as you feel ashamed. Change your body and it will help change your mood. Stand tall, breathe deep, push your shoulders back, and smile. After all you’re a daughter of a king.

  3. Ask yourself why you lost your peace?

    After noticing you’ve lost your peace and calming your body down, you need to look around and figure out why you lost your peace. Was it a room filled with people? Did someone make a snide remark about you? Do the noises or sales ads trigger you? What person, group of people, situation, or thing triggered you to lose your peace?

  4. Bring Christ into the situation.

    Now that you’ve identified what triggered you to lose your peace, bring Christ into the situation. You can find Christ in any situation. He’s cool like that. If a store is overly crowded, thank God that all these souls have been blessed to shop for their families. If a person is being rude, pray that the pain in their heart can be healed by the Lord. If you are feeling jealous over something you do not have, praise God for the person who is and ask that their pain is healed too. Because that’s the thing ladies, we all have pain. Every single one of us. See Christ in every person and in every situation.

  5. Ask yourself, “What does this say about me?”

    The last step, and this is definitely the hardest step but the one most worth exploring is to ask yourself, “What does this say about me?” If you’re feeling anxious at a holiday party or in a store and you’ve figured out your trigger, ask yourself, “Why did that trigger me?” There will be an easy answer at first but then dig deeper and ask, “What does that say about me?” The answer will usually sound like “I’m not good enough” or “no one really likes me” or “I’ll never fit in” or “I don’t really matter.” Something like that. I won’t ask you to fix that negative track in your head today but your job over the next few weeks is to simply notice how often this message comes up.

If you don’t dread the holidays, praise God! Go out and help those who do because this is a time of great anxiety, depression, and loneliness for a lot of people and you can help bring them peace.

For those of you who do struggle with the holidays, come to my free Be Merry Workshop! I’d love for you to be there live so I can answer your questions but all the workshops will be recorded and posted later so you can catch them on your own time!

Solving Scatterbrain Syndrome

Solving Scatterbrain Syndrome

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

NOTE: There is a five minute recap of my experience doing the James and Avila study with a bunch of strangers in this podcast episode!

I have been a mess lately. A happy mess, but a mess none-the-less. Adjusting to five kids has been logistically more difficult than I imagined. With nap schedules and feeding the baby… I often lose track of time or what I should be doing next when I do get a pocket of time.

The other day I was going to get two kiddos to carpool for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd and as I was driving down our street, I realized I don’t have enough car seats anymore! My husband had been taking them but this week he was working. I had to back up, kick one of the kids out, hope my parents weren’t going anywhere and continue on. She was safe and sound, I promise. But it was a rough moment.

I’ve had a lot of those… running around being reactive instead of proactive and that is definitely not how I like to live my life. So I finally decided to sit down and just think about this problem.  We don’t carve out enough time to just sit and think about things. We’re always go-go-go or an exhausted slump.

I woke up before the kids and gave myself 20 minutes to think about this problem. I knew that I had moved beyond being able to schedule out my week. Sure, there were some fixed appointments but it really was our hour-by-hour living that seemed so frantic.

Loops came to mind. The idea that ou have a list of things you want to get done and you simply move from one to the next without holding yourself to a time limit or a deadline and though loops had worked great for me before, they didn’t seem quite right for this stage.

Finally, I decided, what I really needed what someone to just tell me what to do all throughout the day so I wasn’t constantly asking myself, “Wait, what should I do next?”

I took out a blank sheet of paper and I decided that my energy and which kids were awake would determine what I should be doing.

Here are some examples:

When Violet and Forest, my 3-year-old and 18-month-old are sleeping, that’s when I get computer work done. My older girls can do art, play outside, or listen to an audiobook.

When everyone is awake, that is a great time to clean the downstairs. I seem to be able to sweep/vacuum/tidy/wipe down things when everyone is up and around.

When it’s later in the evening and I’m dog tired, I can read a book. I used to be too tired to read at night but now I enjoy the time without noise. I take notes about interesting things I read and I know that I’ll use my creative energy in the morning to think about how to share what I learned with all of you.

I will wake up an hour before the kids to read my Bible, get in some time on the recumbent bike and make a list of any appointments or To Dos that have to be done that day.

When all the kids have gone to sleep except Rose, our seven-year-old, then I can either do more computer work, spend time with my husband, or spend some quality time with Rose. I listed out examples of each of these activities.

So now, all I have to do throughout the day is to look at this piece of paper. I consider who is awake and whether I have high, medium or low energy and the chart shows me the types of activities I should do. Then I simply have to pick one.

It’s not perfect yet. I’m still refining it as I’m testing it out but I think this is a powerful way to take out all that questioning that moms experience throughout the day. It’s helped me to have more energy and to feel less frustrated because let’s face it, it’s frustrating as an adult to not even know what to do with your own day!

I will give it two more weeks and then I’ll email out a copy of my schedule so you can see where I landed. I imagine I will need to re-do this sheet every time someone’s nap schedule changes but that shouldn’t be that often.

I want you to go through this exercise. Think of what activities you have to do and what kind of energy you need to do them well. Then think of which kids get in the way of certain types of activities. For example, I know I can’t read a book when my 18-month-old is up. He wants to crawl in my lap, yank my book away, then I get frustrated and it’s really not his fault at all, it was just a poor choice of activity for that moment.

Don’t take too much time because you’re probably going to refine this as you go.

I hope this helps you as much as it has helped me!

Now I have a question for you! I want to spend more casual time with all of you but I’m not sure which way you would prefer. I’m always reading and learning things that I want to tell you but I don’t have time to do a formal Coffee & Pearls with a write up a second time per week.

Here are the choices:

  • Second casual Coffee & Pearls without the write-up.
  • Instagram Stories
  • Facebook live video
  • Detailed email

I’m up for any of those things but I’d like to hear from you what you’d actually like.  Comment below or shoot me an email!

You can sign up for the Be Merry Workshop here!

Community is Important

Community is Important

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

Today I want to talk about the importance of community and how stinkin’ hard it is to get!

You’ve seen it all over the internet. Community is important. We need community. We see this all the time on Catholic blogs and in Catholic Facebook groups. And yet, as a deeply extraverted person, who is very unbusy and extra friendly… I can say… it’s really hard to find community. Real community, the deep kind that fills that longing you have deep in your soul.

Sure I’ve been to some church playgroups where the kids played games and ate snacks that I hated. The moms were super nice but we barely had time to build deep friendships above the noise and chaos of tons of little kids.

I tried starting a Little Flowers group, which also had some amazing families in it but the way it was setup, all the moms stood around while one mom led the group. The girls did some cute crafts but I bet my daughters couldn’t tell you the names of the other girls. Community is not just being in a room together.

So I understand when moms attend a few of these organized events, don’t find what they’re looking for and then decide that it’s not worth dressing the kids, trying desperately to brush their hair, coercing everyone into the car and probably blowing someone’s nap time to attend.

I also attended a fabulous Endow group, which again, had superb Catholic women. Let me say this in case you can’t tell, there is no problem with the actual people I’ve encountered in any of these groups. In fact, I’d say it’s because the people are so fabulous, I’m frustrated that I can’t seem to get to know them on a deep level.

So here’s what I think we need. We need less structure and more deep conversations. We need to talk about what we’re struggling with. We need to connect on a real level and then here’s the kicker… we need to pray for each other. I don’t’ want to see clubs dedicated to complaining. We can do that sure enough but that has more of a rambling, woe-is-me, let me spew out all my problems and let’s compete for worst husband, worst in-laws, worst kid problems, etc. feel to it.

I want real sharing but also real suggestions. I want to see spaces created where we can actually talk about what we’re grappling with and then pray for each other. Prayer is so powerful and I miss my Protestant days when I never left a room without someone praying, out loud, for what I was going through.

To that end, I’ve created a study. It’s completely free and it’s not fluffy at all. In fact, if you’re not ready to find deep friendships and be vulnerable about your stuff, this study isn’t for you. That’s okay. I don’t make things that appeal to everyone. I make things that appeal to me and I like doing deep work together with my friends, and preferably a mimosa.

Speaking of mimosas, I went to a play date the other day and since a friend had given me a bottle of champagne to celebrate the birth of Blaise (which was the coolest gift by the way and something I think I will now give moms who have just had babies), we ended up having mimosas as this play date. It was a super simple thing but it felt awesome. I felt like an adult. I felt like I was there to see my friends instead of just chasing the children. I had some real conversations with those ladies.

I’m not saying alcohol is necessary by any means, but the right atmosphere is. I think when we gather in a living room that has been expertly cleaned, hoping the kids won’t make any noise and we pull out programs that take 1-2 hours to read and discuss, things go awry and we feel like the stress wasn’t worth the often watered-down questions that appear.

This study doesn’t have watered down questions. It has tough love questions. Real life questions. It beckons you to share your struggles and own your screw ups. If you can’t admit to your friends that your Netflix problem is dragging you down, no wonder you feel lonely and as if you don’t have real community. If you can’t say that your Starbucks or Target habit is getting out of control because your marriage is really painful right now, then it’s likely you’re carrying that heavy cross on your own.

God didn’t intend for you to carry crosses on your own. Christianity is a community faith. We are to live out our faith together. And I’m a little tired of us thinking that it has to be prim and proper at a Martha Stewart like gathering.

We need a few more “grab some store-bought muffins and have a mimosa in my tidied but not clean house” type of gatherings. We need to feel comfortable seeing each other without makeup or showering. And we need to talk about real issues we’re struggling with. We need to share things that have worked for us in the past but to that means we have to admit needing help in the past.

So here’s my study. It’s called James and Avila because it uses awesome quotes from St. Teresa of Avila and verses from my favorite book of the Bible, the Book of James. This study is about detaching yourself from the world and trusting in God. It’s about getting hard on yourself about where you are sinning and finding peace in the power of prayer.

It has eight lessons so you can either do it as a four-week study two at a time or as an eight-week study. You can do it alone or, as my long ranting episode suggests, in a group. You can do it in person or you can start a private Facebook group and do it online.

At the end of each lesson, it challenges you to be brave. To reach deep inside and ask yourself some hard questions. It challenges you to speak the answers out loud and to ask for prayer.

And most of all, it’s free. Because we need more free resources to meet us where we’re at. Community shouldn’t have the high bar of perfectly cleaned houses, Pinterest snacks, quiet children, or big financial investments.

I hope you love this study and if you do, I’ll make some more, maybe with some different themes. I don’t know. I’ll see what y’all say!

5 Things to Know About Marian Consecration

5 Things to Know About Marian Consecration

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

I genuinely believe that everyone should go through Marian Consecration. To go through Marian Consecration, you make a 33-day retreat that ends on a Marian feast day. You give your whole self over to Mary and I’ll talk about what that means a little bit later. If every Catholic did this, we would start seeing the world change very quickly. I consider it part of my personal mission to get as many people to go through Marian Consecration. As such, here are the things I wish people knew about this amazing Catholic tool:

  1. Marian Consecration is NOT about worshipping Mary.

    It’s actually called Consecration to Jesus through Mary. Who knew Jesus better than Mary? No one. She is the best possible person to lead us to her son. She spent 33 years with Him and now is Queen of Heaven alongside Jesus. She has His ear, if you will, and she makes all our requests more important to Him. If you were a peasant and all you had to offer a king was fruits and vegetables from your garden, He would accept them graciously.  But, if you gave those same offerings to the queen and she put them on a solid gold platter, it would amplify your offer. That is what Mary does. She takes our meager offerings and requests and amps them up. This is a much more complex concept but that is a very simplified version of what Marian Consecration can do for your faith life. 
  2. There are two popular books out that help you go through Marian Consecration.

    You can go through a 33-day retreat using one of two books. The first is 33 Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley. This is an extremely popular, and recently published book, that is perfect for, I want to say “newbie Catholics.” This is the book I used the first time I went through this retreat and it was exactly what I needed at the time. It was simple to understand and modern enough to feel relevant to me. Fr. Gaitly leads you to Mary by using four saints (Mother Teresa, St. John Paul II, Maximillan Kolbe, and St. Louis de Montfort.

    The second book is actually by St. Louis de Montfort himself and is called True Devotion. Note: there are much nicer versions of this book but this one is only .99 on Kindle! I eventually tried this book out and loved it. It’s deep, rich, and more theologically meaty. It’s a tougher read but well worth it. I fell in love with it instantly and I will use this book from now on. I don’t think it’s “better” per say, I think they both are wonderful but they reach different audiences. This one has much more of a tough love feel to it, which is usually what I need because I’m… well, lazy and easily distracted! 
  3. You should not go through Marian Consecration until you’re absolutely ready.

    Marian Consecration is not for wussies. It will absolutely make your life harder. It also takes away your freedom to use choose how you offer up your suffering and your good works. You give that right over to Mary. We have this amazing gift that Jesus has given us. He allows us to offer up our suffering, add it to the cross, and to participate in redemptive suffering. Let’s say you have a migraine, you can offer it up for the salvation of your brother who is a fallen away Catholic. When you go through Marian Consecration, you acknowledge that Mary knows who needs that grace the most so you allow her to distribute all your good works and sufferings. This is actually a big deal and why I don’t think you should consecrate yourself until you’re ready. You’re basically saying you’re going to be a slave to whatever Mary wants and while I think that’s the best way to live, it’s also a huge adjustment. 
  4. I don’t think that children should go through Marian Consecration.

    I have seen some materials that are geared toward children going through Marian Consecration, but as I just said, it’s such a serious undertaking, I don’t think children can fully understand the vow that they are taking. We don’t let seven-year-olds become nuns and I won’t let my children make this retreat until they are old enough to understand what it means. To be honest, I’m not sure what age I think that is. I’m hoping as they get older and we talk more about this concept, that I will be able to see, or they will be able to discern when they are ready.

    I still think it’s great to talk to children about emulating Mary and her great yes to Christ and her endless humility in service to Him. Here are two books that I use to help my children understand these concepts but I don’t lead them to consecrate themselves. 

    Leading the Little Ones to Mary
    Marian Consecration for Children

  5. I believe it’s a good idea to make your 33 Day Retreat every year.

    Once you have gone through Marian Consecration, you say a consecration prayer every day. I think it’s also important to make the whole retreat every year. Each year I find some way I’m falling short of my promise, and some beautiful truth to give me hope. I make my retreat at the same time every year but you can do it whenever you want. Here are the start dates as you always want to finish on a Marian feast day. Maybe you’re in a struggling season and you need to feel close to Mary so you do your retreat at a different time each year. I think that’s a beautiful response to this calling.

Clearly, I think a great deal about Marian Consecration. As I said, it’s my mission to get as many people to do this as possible because I really do believe it’s one of the best ways we can battle the darkness in our world right now. I’ll be starting my retreat on October 19th and finishing on November 21st. You are welcome to join me and email me with any questions or comments that you have! Expect spiritual dryness and spiritual attacks. That I can promise you. But I can also promise you that there is a great lightness at the end, a warmth that wraps you up like only the love of a mother can.

Here are some other articles I’ve written on Marian Consecration!

Being a Mother is Hard! 

Striving For Sainthood: Class 12 

Every Catholic Needs a Devotion 

Universal Mortification 

Sugar, Sleep, and Sirach

Sugar, Sleep, and Sirach

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

Sugar

Okay, these are more like notes instead of a whole blog post… because… new baby… and hunting season!

Starting in October I do no candy. Then I do no desserts for November and December other than two days for Thanksgiving and two days for Christmas. Why? Because of bright lines.

Sometimes…. becomes all the time.

Be strong. Your health is not worth 30 seconds of happiness.

You know how they find cancer. They have you drink sugar water and watch where it spreads.

Sugar is cancer food.

Sugar is cancer food. Let that sink in.

This isn’t about weight loss. It’s about overall health.

I feel almost as strongly about refined white flour but it’s extremely hard to kick both things at the same time, so focus on sugar first! Get a buddy and talk about how stinkin’ hard it is!

You are a crazy person when you don’t sleep. Okay maybe no crazy, but your judgment is seriously impaired. You’re more likely to get angry, sad, and to make rash decisions that you will regret.

 

Sleep Management

Sleep deprivation is an actual form of torture for soldiers!

Digital sunset. Take melatonin. Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and chocolate before bedtime.

I know, it’s rough but your sanity is important.

If you’re in a season of no sleep… first, ask yourself, is that really true? Can you still make improvements? For example, I have a newborn but I’m still an aggressive sleep trainer. Are you making it worse somehow?’

Often when we’ve had a stressful day, we do all the worst things that night thwarting our chance of a good night’s sleep. I’m talking about staying up late, drinking a glass of wine, eating chocolate ice cream and watching extra tv right before bed!

Can you turn your sleeplessness into something positive? If you’re up anyway, pray your rosary then. Talk to Jesus. Then you don’t need to do that during the day.

 

The Book of Sirach

Why do I like this book from the Bible so much? Because it’s a kick in the pants! This book talks about what true Wisdom really looks like.

The fear of the Lord rejoices the heart, giving gladness, joy, and long life. 

My child, when you come to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for trials.

Consider the generations long past and see: has anyone trusted in the Lord and been disappointed?

So many more good quotes. This is definitely a book that I lean on in times of stress or confusion.

Baby Steps Out of Survival Mode

Baby Steps Out of Survival Mode

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

I survived! That’s all I keep thinking as I’m able to pick up Forest for the first time in months and able to scale the stairs without screaming. I feel like a million bucks. I’ve been thanking and praising God constantly for the last two weeks. We don’t do that enough, do we?

He answers our prayers and it’s so easy to say, “Great, thanks… now how about fixing this?” I’m trying to really rest in thanksgiving and smother Mary in kisses of prayers. I feel a deep joy inside of me when I can make my own food or drive somewhere!

I’m still struggling with walking more than a few hundred feet or putting my clothes on. My muscles are so weak that it will take time to build them back up again. But even in that, I welcome the hard work because it’s better than being in constant pain.

I did the St. Therese Novena but instead of asking for something, I just asked her to tell Jesus how deeply thankful I am for a whole list of things in my life, including not being in bed anymore! It was an interesting experience. And though I did not ask for any roses, I thought it was very interesting that we had one bloom in our front yard half-way through the novena. If you heard about goats taking over our neighborhood, these same goats ate all our rose bushes. So it was very special that one bud seemed to survive and fight to bloom this very week. I’m not sure what it means but I’m choosing to interpret it as St. Therese saying, “I see you kid, I told Jesus you’re grateful, keep up the good work!”

On that note, I’ve lined up what I want to tackle in the next few months. I’ve laid out my plans for the rest of the year so I wanted to let you know ahead of time! Barring any other crazy life surprises (and I’ve learned not to discount that possibility), this is what I’ll be working on and I’d love for you to join me!

October – 40 day Minimalism Challenge

October 19th – Start Marian Consecration. Lasts 33 days. Consecration on Nov. 21st.

November 15-17 – Free Advent and Liturgical Living Workshop online

December 27-January 2nd – Catholic Goals Course sign-up. Lasts for three months.

January 3-7 – Fit and Holy Challenge Sign-up. Lasts for three months.

I think it’s going to be an extremely fun and productive fourth quarter and I can’t wait to shape up and level up in 2019! I have some big plans that mostly include creating some stability in my everyday life.

As I gear up to tackle more things at home and to build up strength in my body again, I was hit with a feeling of analysis paralysis about where to start. I’ve been out of commission for so long that there were so many things I wanted to do but I knew I couldn’t do them all at once. So I wanted to share my tips for getting back into normal routines after living through a season of survival whether that was for weeks or years.

Step One: Write down all the things you’d like to accomplish. I mean it, lay it all out there. Fill up a whole sheet of paper or a notebook. Get all your ideas and dreams out of your mind and onto the page so you can see them.

Step Two: Start comparing two and asking, “Which one would I rather have?” For example, right now I’m struggling, as I always do, to breastfeed. I know that I can pour more energy into breastfeeding but that will leave less time for my ministry work and it will likely delay any weight loss progress for me. I’ve always struggled to lose weight while breastfeeding. So I have to ask myself, which is more important?

When you do this over and over again, you’ll start to see the really important things rise to the top. You know you can’t have it all. You also know a lot of the important things take a very long time to accomplish or, in the case of living daily habits, you will never finish working on that skill.

I try to narrow my list down to 3-6 things to focus on.

Step Three: Put a time and energy estimate by each item. Reading your Bible for five minutes each morning only takes… five minutes. Losing weight, however, usually involves a whole lot of willpower for every hour that you’re awake. They may each take up a line in your list of goals but the energy required for each of them is very different.

I’m working on a rating system to help quantify goals for this year’s course so you can actually put numbers to the things you want to work on but clearly see which ones take a lot of energy and which ones don’t.

Step Four: Put simple, daily habits on your calendar or on your phone. For the big goals that are left, decide when you’re going to work on them and put limits. Let’s say you want to improve your marriage. Well that’s never going to be completely accomplished and you can’t be working on your marriage all the time so try to compartmentalize it.

Maybe you have a notebook and in the morning you ask yourself, “How can I make my husband’s life better today?” You write down one thing and you do that one thing. Maybe you schedule weekly date night or weekly counseling. Maybe you read a book. Create some finite tasks and then be satisfied with those. Otherwise, it’s easy to wake up after a week and think, “I didn’t make any progress. We’re still not happy. This is never going to get better.” This is the same process I use for parenting and schooling too.

Step Five: Test out a week doing all the things you decided on then check in with yourself. How did it go? Was it too much? What obstacles popped up? How can you make next week better?

Always be refining because your life is always going to be changing!

In the fourth quarter of 2018, I’ll be working on:

  • Reading through Jeff Cavins’ Adventure Bible (review coming soon)
  • Drinking 64 oz of Mother’s Milk Tea and other various things to improve breastfeeding
  • Spending 10 minutes on our recumbent bike and 10 minutes doing strength building exercises
  • Teaching the girls how to clean bathrooms and vacuum
  • Doing marriage counseling once a week with my husband
  • Learning how to use my TempDrop

In two weeks, I’ll let you know how it’s going and how I’ve refined my plans so you can get a sense of how I continually update what my focus is on.

In the meantime, I leave you with this fabulous quote from St. Therese:

“You want to scale the mountain of sanctity… but God wants to meet you in the valley of humility.”

Snap. That is such a powerful quote. I think I’m going to frame it and put it next to my computer. I really want to just sit with that quote and ask myself how I can better live in the valley of humility?

A Planner Won’t Fix You

A Planner Won’t Fix You

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

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!

Praying For You If You’re Having One of these Three Types of Summers

Praying For You If You’re Having One of these Three Types of Summers

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

 

Summer can be a magical time of weddings, vacations, learning to swim, delighting in ice cream, and enjoying the world God has created for us. But for some of us, Summer isn’t as sparkly and fun as we think it ought to be. Here are three types of summers I’ve had that were less than pleasant.

  1. Summer of Littles
    When you have kids who are younger than four, Summer can be a time filled with crying, skinned knees, ungrateful whining, and cranky attitudes due to overstimulation. When you thought you were doing all the right things to create a magical summer, it backfires leaving you feel like a failure while nothing seems good enough for the kids or works out the way you thought.
  2. Overbooked Summer
    Whether you overbooked your own summer with vacations, swimming lessons, vacation bible school, and planned picnics or if a busy summer was thrust upon you by weddings, family expectations, and things “you’ve always done” and overbooked summer can be awful. It can feel like you’re drowning. If you don’t have any time to yourself, the joy gets sucked from these activities as you slowly lose your sanity.
  3. A Simple Summer (Feeling bad about doing so little)
    This is the summer I’m currently having. There will be no park play dates, no popsicles, no vacations and no swimming lessons. I’m on bed rest and we’re simply making it through. It can be so tempting to look at social media and think that everyone is having more fun than me but I know that’s not true. I also know that my kids are happy with their simple summer. They feel loved and safe and we’re all doing okay!