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!

The Profound Joy of Motherhood

The Profound Joy of Motherhood

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

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1. Always be learning. You don’t need to read an entire book or take a class on a topic. Sometimes a few short YouTube videos will teach you what you need to know. But don’t let your lack of knowledge keep you from growing.
 
2. Don’t be ashamed to tell other people you changed your mind.
 
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts everything you said to-day.”
Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
3. The danger of foolish consistency. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” We’ve always done it this way. That’s just who I am.
 
4. Be open to the Holy Spirit. Sit in the classroom of silence.
 
5. Pray the Litany of Humility. It’s painful but it helps.

 

The Power of Changing Your Mind

The Power of Changing Your Mind

 

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1. Always be learning. You don’t need to read an entire book or take a class on a topic. Sometimes a few short YouTube videos will teach you what you need to know. But don’t let your lack of knowledge keep you from growing.
 
2. Don’t be ashamed to tell other people you changed your mind.
 
Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradicts everything you said to-day.”
Self-Reliance by Ralph Waldo Emerson
 
3. The danger of foolish consistency. A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” We’ve always done it this way. That’s just who I am.
 
4. Be open to the Holy Spirit. Sit in the classroom of silence.
 
5. Pray the Litany of Humility. It’s painful but it helps.

 

Find a Hero and Marry Him

Find a Hero and Marry Him

 

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“Find a hero, marry him, and cheer him on every day.”

I’m kicking myself for not writing down where I read this. If anyone knows where this quote comes from, please let me know and I’ll add the credit to it. I do remember, however, how powerful it was when I read it.

It felt like angels singing but then also a punch in the stomach. I love the idea that we marry a hero. It brought back feelings of being so relieved when I finally met my husband. Here was a man who loved Jesus and wanted to raise a God-fearing, outdoor-loving, bunch of a homeschooled kids like I did. He was my hero.

He still is but I realized that I hadn’t been treating him like that. Certainly not to the extent of “cheer him on every day.” I immediately set out thinking about how I could be better in this area.  Here are five ways I’ve been trying to cheer on my hero of a husband.

1. 5 o 1 ratio. To be honest, I cringe a little when I hear the 5 to 1 ratio thing. You’re probably familiar with it. Say five nice/positive things for each critical/negative thing. This applies to our children as well. I’m not great about it with the children and downright awful at it for my husband. Especially these days when we’re passing ships in the night. We tend to be all business, business, business, a few critical things, then a kiss/prayer/goodnight routine that doesn’t always feel connective.

Still this is what we are called to do, to love our spouse and to lift them up. I need to be better about my ratio and deep down, that’s why I don’t like reading about to 5 to 1 ratio. It’s simple to understand but it’s hard to do. Just put a post-it note on your fridge that says 5 to 1 and get working on it!

2. What’s one small thing? Now this is an idea I do like to think about and every time I pick this habit back up, I’m glad that I did. Keep some post-it notes by your bed or in your bathroom. After you wake up in the morning, ask yourself, “What’s one small thing I can do to make my spouse’s life better today?” You could even ask him yourself to find out what he’d like. This is an easy and powerful way to simply shift your thinking. When we are spouse oriented out of love, it helps us to be less critical.

3. Beam him love. It’s easy to feel the heaviness of the day, the monotony of our busy lives, and the small annoying ways our spouses get in between us and our ideal plans. But the moment we slow down and think about the love that God has for our spouse, and then beam that love from our bodies to our husbands, it completely changes how we see them. This is another concept from Tools by Phil Stutz.

It’s the idea that we imagine a warm ray of sunshine coming out of us and beaming that warm love to someone else. It’s very hard to stay mad at someone when we are loving them in this way. And of course, this is how God views each person all the time so when we tap into God’s love for each soul, it helps us to be better people.

4. Pray for him and then tell him you’ve been praying for him. Constantly be praying for your husband. Pray for him when you wake up, all throughout the day, and before you go to sleep. And then I’ve found that it’s really powerful to tell your husband you’ve been praying for him. I don’t tell him everything but often I’ll say something like, “I’m praying that your day goes smoothly,” or “I’m praying that God gives you the right words in that yucky meeting you’ll have today.” Sometimes I’ll share big things like, “I’m praying that God gives you guidance about whether or not we should homeschool the kids.” I love asking God to give my husband guidance to share with me and I think it makes my husband feel special knowing that I trust him in that way.

I’m sure there are hundreds of ways we can be better at loving our husbands and plenty of articles out there that talk about how. Google them, make a list, think of what’s worked in the past. Most of all, cheer your hero on every day. He won your heart in a world full of other men.

Find a hero, marry him, and cheer him on every day. This is the kind of wife God wants for your husband.

Getting Back On Track

Getting Back On Track

 

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Seasons change quickly. It’s back-to-school for a lot of you. For me, I’m having baby number six! Peter James will be joining us soon and I’m excited to be unpregnant! It’s been a long three years with three back-to-back pregnancies. I’m looking forward to jumping into the fantasy life that’s been living in my mind these last months of bedrest.

I’m sure it will be different than I imagine in both good and challenging ways. But as I stare down a new transition and getting back on track in nearly every area of my life, there are five tools I will use to set myself up for success!

  1. Just Resume

    A fabulous phrase I learned from Susan Thompson after watching an interview about the business she built. I haven’t read her book, Bright Line Eating, but she references this phrase when it comes to falling off the wagon of a strict diet.

  2. The 5 Second Rule

    A tip I’ve shared before from Mel Robins’s book The Five Second Rule. Don’t let your brain talk you out of doing what needs to be done. Give yourself a quick count off… 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and blast off. Get up and get your stuff done!

  3. Momentum of Wins

    Do a few easy and small things to put a spring back in your step. Maybe it’s a load of laundry or reading to your kids for 15 minutes. Cross of a few things to start building up a momentum of wins so you feel confident and energized to tackle the more difficult things!

  4. Do What Worked Before

    When I read Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michaels, they have a whole chapter dedicated to the idea that once we find things that really work for us, we eventually stop doing those things. It’s so true. We crave novelty so we enjoy reading new books and trying new tricks but the truth is, you probably have already learned and practiced something that really helped you to be your best. Don’t discount simply going back to that strategy even if it seems less shiny than trying something new! 

  5. To Live is to Change

    There’s no getting out of it. We will all change in big and small ways throughout the rest of our lives. We will never reach a finished state while we are alive. We will always be experience change and transition. By acknowledging and embracing this instead of acting surprised, we can save our energy to find tools that help us to move through the changes gracefully and spiritually.

To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.”

– Blessed John Henry Newman

Books Mentioned In This Episode

Screen Time in the Jaquith Household

Screen Time in the Jaquith Household

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I’m still not up to typing these whole episodes up but here are some bullet points of what I say!

  • My kids only watch a movie on Sundays, no other shows/movies during the week. 
  • They get no iPad time. We allowed them to do education games for a year or two but then quickly realized that there wasn’t my education happening but rather, they are mostly just games.
  • My kids have an old iPhone and have access to Pandora to play a few music stations and Audible/Overdrive apps to listen to audio books.

5 Ways Screens Are Robbing You of Your Life

5 Ways Screens Are Robbing You of Your Life

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I’m still not up to typing these whole episodes up but here are the five ways and some resources below! 

 

1. Increases Anxiety and Depression
2. Children Are Watching You
3. Hard to Hear God Through the Noise
4. Stealing Your Ability to Sleep and Recover

5. iPhone Effect

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

 

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  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

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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

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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

 

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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

 

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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:

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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!