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!

Yelling At God

Yelling At God

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

I’m sorry to say that this week’s podcast does not come with a complete blog post! I’m super pregnant, still on bed rest and I just don’t have the heart to type it all out…nor the ability to write in coherent sentences! So here are some bullet points about this latest podcast:

  • This is the longest I’ve been pregnant and boy is that emotionally rough!
  • I love the idea of redemptive suffering but it’s a lot easier to offer up physical pain than it is emotional pain.
  • It’s harder to pin down emotional pain so we don’t often think to offer it up.
  • We also feel as if we should control our emotions so we don’t feel that emotional suffering is “worth” offering up… this simply isn’t true. God wants all of our suffering.
  • We all get angry at God. He knows this. We know this. And yet so often, we never tell Him that we’re angry.
  • God wants a true and genuine relationship with Him and that includes telling him all the ugly stuff we think about Him. “Why God? How could you do this to me? I hate you right now! I’m so angry that you think I can handle this! Why haven’t you sent help!!”
  • Spill your guts to Him and then… finally… and probably after you ugly cry… when you say, “Thy will be done Lord. I trust you” you will really mean it.
  • Clean out your heart by sharing all your ugliness with the Lord and invite Him in after. He wants to give you healing but you have to let Him and the best way to do that is to be completely honest with him!

Lastly, a big shout out to all the Coffee & Pearls listeners! In the last three months, my downloads have gone from 3,000+ to 5,000+ and finally to 7,000+ in June! That means you’re telling your friends and leaving reviews and I really appreciate it. I love what we’ve all built here and I hope to keep bringing you all my struggles and lessons learned in 15 minutes a week!

Wasting The Wait

Wasting The Wait

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

Sometimes God asks us to be brave. Sometimes God asks us to stand up for what we believe in. Sometimes God asks us to show mercy to those who don’t deserve it. There are many difficult things God asks us to do but sometimes, all he asks us to do is wait.

Waiting can feel more challenging than being brave or forgiving something awful. There is often inaction when we’re waiting and somehow this “doing nothing”… it feels painful. It can be lonely. It can be confusing. We feel like we’re getting it wrong even though we’re not exactly sure what it would look like to “get it right.”

There are two times recently in my life where I have wasted the wait. God asked me to wait patiently for an answer and instead I spent the time pouting, fretting, stomping my feet, and trying to force a resolution to my problem faster than God had planned.

It never works when we do this. Our way is never smoother or filled with more peace.

The first time this popped up was when my husband and I were trying to decide if he should leave his job in Portland and whether or not we should relocate to another city. I talk about this whole story in my book Catholic Mom Challenge but the short version is that we wanted God to point us in the right direction. Not only did we want clarity but we also wanted expedience.

Lord, tell us what to do and please, could you do that by tomorrow morning so we could efficiently arrange all of our plans? K, thanks!

Looking back, God did guide us to leave that job and move and retrospectively…. I guess…. He gave us enough time to pull it off but it certainly didn’t feel like that when we were waiting.

We didn’t use the transition time, at least three weeks of which my husband had off of work, to go to Mass, say extra prayers, or spend more quality time as a family. We spent it making pro/con lists, attacking our problem from every angle we could think of, constantly worrying that we were going to make the wrong decision and trying to come up with back-up plans for our back-up plans.

We wasted the gift God had given us.

Looking back, there was nothing we could do to speed the process up of finding a new job, finding a new home, and getting to our new life. Instead, we could have soaked up the extra time to be peaceful and present in the moment of the unknown trusting that God would take care of us. He always has a plan.

The second time this happened was merely a year later and almost under the same circumstances. You’d think we would have learned the first time around. My husband left his new job to help me run a company we had purchased. We didn’t know if he’d stay working for our new company or if he’d get another traditional job. We fretted over this decision for four months! For three whole months, he was home with our family and instead of using that time to draw closer to each other and closer to the Lord, we again pouted, fretted, strategized, planned  and made so many lists!

We basically wasted a three month vacation with our lack of trust in God.

Now, I want to take this moment to acknowledge that it is genuinely stressful to not have a job and to not know if you can pay your bills. It’s not intuitive how to spend three months of family time when you have no money to spare. It’s not as if a few well timed rosaries will suddenly make these big and real problems disappear.

As I approached the end of my pregnancy, knowing I’d spend most of it on bed rest, I knew I didn’t want to waste this time. I made a list of five ways I wanted to use this time wisely.

  1. Pray the rosary every day. You know, it’s a silly thing to have to write down. Praying the rosary only takes 20 minutes so you’d think it’d be a slam dunk to get it done every day. And yet, there’s something about having an endless amount of time that makes it impossible to get anything done. I wanted to get this done no matter what. No surprise, it’s easiest to do it first thing in the morning and yet most days… I do it right before bed. I’m still working on being an adult about this and not putting it off to the last minute but no matter how tired I am, I do it before the day ends.
  2. Read for 20 minutes. Again, I’m a big reader but I tend to want to read when there are other, more pressing things to do. When I don’t have anything to do, suddenly reading sounds boring, even if it’s a book I’m really excited about! But tried and true, reading is one of the best ways to get me out of a funk or keep me from being depressed. Reading a good Catholic book is uplifting and challenging to my default mode of laziness and apathy. Once I get 20 minutes in, it’s easy to keep going but I knew if I made my goal an hour, I’d probably never start.
  3. Keep a gratitude journal. When you’re in a waiting period, it’s so easy to be gloomy about everything. You feel stagnant, grumpy, and down on yourself. Instead of looking at the challenges, make a list of all the blessings. Don’t just list the blessings that you have all the time, but specifically list the blessings you’ve received because of this waiting time.
  4. Give yourself permission to have fun. Often when I’m in a time of waiting, I feel like I should be using that time to be productive… to get extra projects done or to catch up. Instead of staying in work work work mode, give yourself permission to have some fun and be silly. Put a time limit and a spending limit on your fun. You don’t want to take advantage of this time by only playing games but it’s dangerous to only get caught up in worrying and never letting your hair down.
  5. Put a time limit on planning! This last one is so important for me! I want to plan, plan, plan and make lists and spreadsheets. I want to out think the unknown to create a false sense of comfort. I’m pretty sure there’s nothing that could keep me from doing this BUT I do put a time limit on it. I will say that I only have 20 minutes a day to budget/worry/brainstorm/plan and then I have to close my notebook and leave it alone. Whew, it’s tough! But it also helps keep me humble that God is in charge and the amount of time I spend chewing on my problems, doesn’t really solve them.

Be not discouraged by these trials that involve waiting. There is nothing we can do to hurry a resolution when God is asking us to be patient. Instead, don’t waste this time like I have so often. Embrace it, offer it up to God and use the time to grow in holiness. In the end, that is all that matters.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

5 Questions To Ask Before Buying Something

5 Questions To Ask Before Buying Something

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

As I start wrapping up my new book about Catholic minimalism, I have been seeing more and more articles pop up about the idea of owning less and being more intentional with our time and our money. You don’t need convincing about this. Most of us know we’re spending too much time on silly things and too much money on stuff we don’t need.

The tricky part is is knowing where to draw the line and what this all has to do with Christ.

I had a comment on Facebook lately that said, “So you just need Jesus to help get organized?”

When I read this, I laughed and thought, “Wow, it’d be nice if it were that simple!”

My friend was right to call out the absurdity of the simple idea that just by being Christians, we will somehow be given this magical power of budgeting and organizing. Instead, what loving Christ gives us access to is a special pair of Jesus glasses. These glasses are always with us and we have the choice to put them on or not.

We can put on our Jesus glasses and see the rude person at the grocery store as a beautiful soul that is worth of our love and kindness.

We can put on our Jesus glasses and stand in awe of a tiny flower growing in our yard as part of the amazing world God has created for us.

We can put on our Jesus glasses and suddenly see that all the things we thought we “needed” to buy at Costco won’t really bring us peace.

We can put on our Jesus glasses and realize that the mess in our garage preventing us from parking our cars in there is robbing us of our peace… the peace that Christ wants us to have.

The list goes on and on. Here’s the secret… the more we get to know Christ, the sharper the glasses become… the more we see the world as He sees the world.

When I am going through the store, or surfing Craigslist, or browsing Amazon, here are five questions I ask myself before purchasing something:

  1. Will this bring glory to God?

    This is a silly question to ask especially when I’m looking at something utilitarian like butter or a toilet bowl cleaner. But the truth is, taking care of my family and being a good steward of my home does bring glory to God. Most things pass this test, even a new pair of shoes I don’t really need. I could probably justify why having navy blue flats could be used to bring glory to God.

    Things that don’t pass this test would be a trashy magazine, drugs, a skimpy outfit… anything that directly causes me to sin or might cause someone around me to sin.

  2. Is it in my budget?

    This question knocks a lot of things off the list. It’s the womp-womp question. A lot of things I see are fabulous, a great deal, and would be greatly enjoyed by me or my family but if it’s not in my budget, then it will hurt our financial situation overall. And we have big plans in life and we can’t work on them if we’re constantly spending our money on spontaneous purchases that rob us from having financial freedom in the future.

    Obviously you need a budget to ask this question. If you don’t have one, that’s your homework this month!

  3. How long will this item last?

    Some items are meant to be consumed and don’t last long like food or renting a movie on Amazon Prime. A lot of items, however, we think are going to last much longer than they do. This is especially true of clothing, toys, and household items like furniture or decorations.

    Be honest with yourself. If you’re buying a cheap kid’s outfit at Fred Meyer, do you really expect it to last through three of your children? How many clothes have you thrown away in the last year because of stains, tears, or something being out of style?

    This is where it gets tricky. Often times I can’t afford a nicer, sturdier brand but at the same time, I don’t feel like I have the time to sift through consignment stores and garage sales to get deals on those good brands. I often find that I spend more time dealing with or rebuying cheap things than if I had saved up money to buy nicer things or spent the time digging through Craigslist for what I want.

  4. Can I buy it later?

    This has been my favorite question lately. I am finding that if I can be strong and say no right there on the spot, giving myself permission to buy it in the future, I often don’t want to buy it later. There’s something about standing in the store that makes us feel rushed. Even if we doubt we should purchase something, we think we’ll save time by getting it now. We’ll save ourselves a trip to the store later.

    This is silly because we probably frequent this store often. We have a false sense of urgency or scarcity in that moment. Once we are removed from the temptation, it’s likely we won’t feel the strong need to purchase that thing.

    When I’m online shopping, I utilize wish lists. I’ll put something on a wish list and leave it there for a few days or a few weeks. Some things really stick with me. They keep popping up in my mind and I do really want to buy them but a lot of things  seem unnecessary later and I take them off my wish list.

  5. How am I going to feel about buying this in two years?

    Perhaps because I’m nearing the end of my pregnancy, I’ve gotten really nostalgic lately looking at old pictures and remembering the birth of my other three kids. We also have three birthdays coming up in July and so I’m giving present ideas to grandparents. What struck me as so amazing is that I hardly remember what we’ve given the kids in the last few years for their birthdays.

    Some of the things I remember were exciting for a few days, then hardly used, and then quickly donated. Why did we buy these things in the first place? Some things we have gotten great use out of or provided a wonderful and unique experience for the kids! Not everything needs to be a solid wooden toy that lasts forever.

    As I look back at most of my purchases, especially early on in my marriage, I made a lot of wasteful decisions in the name of boredom, wanting to impress others, soothing my boredom or thinking that somehow stuff would bring love or happiness.

    Try to picture yourself two years from now. Are you proud of this purchase or was it a flash in the pan that you wish you had the self-control to avoid?

This is not a comprehensive list of all the questions that run through my head when I’m buying something but I think this is a hard hitting list that will help you to knock yourself out of a buying daze and seriously question whether this is a grounded decision.

One last note! We tend to co-sign our friends buying things they don’t need because it feels exciting and maybe we want to feel better about our own impulse spending.

“Oh that’s so cute!”

“I would buy it!”

“I couldn’t help myself, do it!”

“You only live once!”

“You deserve it!”

Stop doing this. Stop putting your friends in financial danger because it sounds good. Your friend may not have the money to buy this. Your friend might have been strong enough to say no if you hadn’t egged her on. We need to stop encouraging reckless and unchecked spending.

Even when we go shopping together, which can be a fun activity with a girlfriend, we don’t have to spend money on unplanned items. You’re much better off browsing and then spending $3 on some tea to enjoy your friend’s company.

Remember, always put your Jesus glasses on first and try to view this stuff and the world around you from Christ’s eyes. It’s amazing how quickly we can cut through the fluff of our society.

Our job is to care for souls. How are you caring for the souls in your life?

Can’t Have Access to Mom 24/7

Can’t Have Access to Mom 24/7

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

Coffee & Pearls is finally back! After a rough first trimester of pregnancy followed by bronchitis, I took a break from C&P to put out the Striving For Sainthood class series. It’s amazing and you can check out all 20 classes here! So it’s been awhile since we’ve had a regular ‘ole podcast episode. Now that we’re back on schedule, you can expect them every Tuesday!

As summer approaches and many families are about to find themselves surrounded by kids all day and with hundreds of summer activities to choose from, I want to talk about access.

Who has access to you and who has access to your time?

It can be really easy to let the children believe they can have your attention any time they want. After All, we want to be loving and attentive moms and that means always stopping what we’re doing to stare into the sweet little faces of our children to answer their questions right? Not quite.

The older I get, the more kids I have and quite frankly, the older my kids get, the more I realize the need to set boundaries with them. Yes, it is my job to keep them safe 100% of the time, no it is not my job to give them access to me for fun, questions, entertainment, food, water, books, etc.

“Even food and water?” you ask. That’s right. I make sure they have three meals a day and access to water often throughout the day, but just because they’ve run out of water at a time I am busy does not mean I drop what I’m doing to help them.

I tell my children that there are times when I’m praying, working, or cleaning. Sometimes I tell them I’m doing a project. Since my oldest is 6 and doesn’t quite understand time yet, I try to give visual cues for what I’m doing. Here are some examples:

“I’m going to be in this room working on a project. When I come out of this room, that means I’m done.”

“I will be sorting the laundry. When I’m finished, I will bring you your laundry to put away.”

“I am going to record a podcast. There is a stop sign on my door. When I am finished recording, I will take the stop sign down.”

“I’m going to make a few phone calls. When I’m finished, I will let you know that I’m done.”

I make it clear that they cannot interrupt me unless someone is in danger. They know that means they can’t ask me for a snack, some water, or to get a toy down.

Sometimes I will sit in the same room as my children but I tell them, “This room has now become a quiet space.” This is true when I’m reading my Bible or praying. I will invite them to pray the Rosary with me if they want. And if I find they’re getting too loud, then they have to go to another room. Often children want to be around us and so they will be quiet for the privilege of staying in the room. If they have too much energy, they can go into another room.

Now this didn’t happen overnight for me. I had to work with them and train them to respect these rules. If you have never had rules like these before, expect the children to not understand or to not take you seriously. Plan NOT to get any of that work done. Your first work is the training of the children.

When they interrupt you with a silly question, and they will, say, “Oh, you interrupted my ____ time (i.e. project, prayer, cleaning etc.) now you need to stand silently by the door for two minutes.” I use the front or the back door depending on where we are in the house. I will do this as young as 2 years old although I’ve already been doing this with Violet since she was 20 months.

A few things to note:

I couldn’t leave my two year old in a room alone before having older kids to watch out for her. If you only have one child under 3, you probably have to be with them most of the time. This is why I think having only one child is actually the hardest number!

They can always interrupt me for safety reasons! I make that very clear. If they feel scared or if they get hurt, I will always listen to them. Sometimes they come to me with things that aren’t really that scary or unsafe but I listen to them anyways… unless they’re clearly trying to manipulate me 😉

Three years old can be a tricky age because you THINK they aren’t capable of this but they really are. I find that once I push through the challenges of that age, then the kids truly understand this idea that they don’t get access to me all the time.

Sometimes this concept involves husbands too! I will setup with my husband that I need 15-30 minutes at some point to sit in a dark room by myself in silence! Or maybe read a book or take a bath or go for a walk but no one can have access to me. If you have a reluctant husband, try explaining to him that you have no silence in your life and that you need these small bouts of time to recharge.

Now that it’s nice outside, I have also been telling my children, “You can play outside but as soon as you come inside, it’s going to be quiet time/nap time or bed time.” This has worked wonders. They’ll stay outside for much longer knowing that coming inside will trigger quiet time/sleep time. I don’t let them come in and out a lot either. They know they get to choose to be outside OR inside.

These are just some of the ways I protect my sanity.

I do this with my calendar too. I create white space on my calendar… days when I won’t schedule anything. When possible, I only schedule one event/appointment per day so the rest of our day is quiet at home. I don’t like being too busy.

We do not have to say yes. We do not have to answer our phone. We do not have to let people (including our children) have access to us all the time. It’s important that we make time to drink tea, say our prayers, take a few deep breaths of fresh air alone, etc.

This is a concept that is often talked about in leadership and management. You need to protect your time and if you give people access to you all the time, they will take advantage of you and interrupt you all day long and you won’t be able to get anything done. I think it applies just as much to moms whether you work or stay at home.

If you have any questions about how I manage this with a 6, 4, and 2 year old, please ask and I’ll explain more details. If you have a unique situation and you’re not sure to apply this, let me know and I’ll take a shot at making a suggestion.

If you have only one child, under two, who is with you and on you all day long… close your eyes and pray. That phase is hard. They will get older and you will have more freedom later.

Here’s a great Bible verse to focus on this week whether you’re going to start this practice of protecting yourself, whether you already do it, or whether you’re living the land of only one child and your current option is just to live through the days!

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Colossians 3:15

Striving For Sainthood Class Series

Striving For Sainthood Class Series

I’m taking a small break from regular Coffee & Pearls podcast episodes to bring you the Striving For Sainthood Class Series! It will feature twenty classes about how to try and become a saint in the mess of everyday life! Each class is an audio file, you can get them easily by downloading the Coffee & Pearls podcast to your phone. They are just 20 minutes and you can listen while you fold the laundry! This class series is based on the information (plus extras) found in my book Catholic Mom Challenge!

You can also listen to each class here online below!

Catholic Moms Can Change the World

Forming New Habits That Stick

Cultivating Willpower

Time To Be A Scientist

CMC Worksheet Review

When It All Goes Wrong

Signs You're Out of Tune

Overcome Common Obstacles

Surviving Survival Mode

Cultivating Joy and a Positive Attitude

Catholic Mom Manifesto

Marriage, Oh Marriage

Become A Bible Reading Catholic

Find a Prayer Type That Works For You

How to Just Resume

Confession and Adoration

Virtues for You And Your Family

Discipline Yourself And Your Children

Women Are Amazing

S02:E12 Searching For Miracles

S02:E12 Searching For Miracles

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

The human body is an amazing thing, especially our brains. Simply the thoughts we have can dictate physical changes in our body. We see this often with the placebo effect. People think they’re taking a great pill that will help heal them and suddenly their body is healed even though there was no medicine in the pill. Likewise, we can make bad things happen too. When people are told a harmless plant is poison ivy and it gets rubbed on their skin, their body will actually manufacture a poison ivy rash even if the plant was harmless.

That’s pretty incredible.

And yet so few of us spend time learning how to control our thoughts. If our bad attitudes affect our physical body in negative ways… why are we not more focused on cultivating a positive attitude?

Well,the answer is simple really, it’s hard.

Not only is it difficult to control your thought life but it’s also not something our society talks about or values. We are living in a time where feelings rule and we accept this as if it’s our only choice.

I’ve been challenging myself particularly while I’m pregnant, noticing my feelings and deciding whether or not they are valid and if I should give into them. Even extremely strong cravings have popped up and I’ve noticed them and not given in to them.  This has been mostly because we were snowed in a few days and popping over to the store for the ingredients to make nachos wasn’t an option.

But I learned something amazing. Those strong pregnancy cravings… they pass. I didn’t die. I didn’t get sick. They were simply strong urges that I could listen to or not.

Not all thoughts or messages from our bodies are bad.  Sometimes we crave water because we’re thirsty or fruit because we’re lacking vitamins. It’s important to pay attention to our thoughts and feelings and then rationally decide if they are valid and should be acted on.

I believe there are two ways we can begin working on mastering our feelings immediately: Managing Anger and Searching For Miracles!

Anger is so destructive to ourselves and those around us. Too much anger actually makes our body sick. It affects our blood pressure, our breathing, and our ability to think clearly. Sometimes we even want to hit something we’re so angry.

If you’re struggling with anger, meditate on these words from Ben Sira, Chapter 1:

22 Unjust anger can never be justified;

   anger pulls a person to utter ruin.

23 Until the right time, the patient remain calm,

   then cheerfulness comes back to them.

24 Until the right time they hold back their words;

   then the lips of many will tell of their good sense.

I really enjoy the whole book of Ben Sira but these words in particular are ones I need to hear often. I need to soften my heart and put aside my anger in both my marriage and in my vocation of motherhood. The intimacy we have with our spouses and our kids mean our feelings run deep. These deep feelings mean that it’s easy for us to flash to anger when we feel hurt or mistreated. We must not give in to anger. Keep reading these words both before and while you are angry. Ask Jesus to help you calm down.

I also fall prey to the feelings of anger when life gives me lemons. I’d love to be the kind of person who always looks on the bright side but I usually have to go through a round of pouting and declaring, “Why me?” first. I’m working on this. Here is another passage from Ben Sira, this time Chapter 2, that helps me embrace difficult situations, especially ones out of my control, that come my way.

4 Accept whatever happens to you;

   in periods of humiliation be patient.

5 For in fire gold is tested,

   and the chosen, in the crucible of humiliation.

6 Trust in God, and he will help you;

   make your ways straight and hope in him.

The second thing we can all do more of is to search for miracles. My husband and I were chatting about the Israelites and how amazing it was that Moses parted the red sea and took them into the desert. God did amazing things to ensure that they were safe and fed during this time. And yet despite the many miracles before them, actual undeniable miracles, many of them remained doubtful. They grumbled about their situation and sometimes even turned back to their golden idols.

Can you believe that?

“Oh hey Moses, I mean I know you just made the red sea split in two so we could walk to safety but… c’mon, is God really real? Does he really care about us at all?”

It sounds quite ridiculous and yet, I think this is true of our own lives. Not only have we allowed the miracle of salvation history to fade into the background, we don’t see the own miracles we have experienced in our lives.

You get more of what you notice. I’ve said this many times. And if you spend time noticing all the miracles around you, I think you’ll find that your trust and belief in the Lord will be strengthened.

My husband and I got out some paper and wrote down all the miracles in our own life that we could think of. Ways that God showed up in our lives in such huge and unexpected ways that had no explanation. I was genuinely surprised at how long the list was.

We tend to think of miracles as events like a blind man getting his sight or someone being instantly cured of cancer and if not this level of miracle, we’re not impressed. But I look back at the last seven years of my life since I met Michael and I see so many miracles.

Times when God brought us exactly what we needed even though we hadn’t asked for it. Times when someone would recommend a book that would significantly change our marriages. Times when God would close a door so we would go searching for a different one that would end up being perfect for our family.

The more you search for miracles in your own life, the more you will find them. I believe if we practice managing our anger and searching for miracles, we will experience a great attitude in our lives. I believe this will make for stronger marriages, better parenting, and yes, healthier bodies.

So what are you going to notice today?

Episode 11: Catholics Choose Hard Things

Episode 11: Catholics Choose Hard Things

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

The other day I was explaining money to my daughter. We have Give, Save, and Spend envelopes for her per Dave Ramsey. If she gets $5, we put $1 into Give, $1 into Save and $3 into Spend. Those ratios will change as she makes more money but right now she gets $.25-.50 for most of her chores so we’re not talking hundreds of dollars here.

She’s been more eager lately to earn money and to think about ways to spend it. I made the mistake of showing her a cool Kickstarter campaign I stumbled upon where you can actually buy jellyfish! She was asking me what I like to spend my money on. And after monologuing off the cuff for a bit, I ended up saying, “Because Jaquiths choose hard things.”

I immediately thought, “That is a great motto for our family and I want to add it to our Mission Statement somehow because it really is a big part of who we are.”

I was explaining that her mommy and daddy grew up with very little money so we worked hard in school so we could get good jobs. Then when we got our jobs, we saved our money instead of spending all of it on fun things. I interjected, it’s okay to buy some fun things but you want to be saving up for something big in the future.

I told her that when mommy and daddy had worked very hard and saved up a lot of money, instead of buying something fun, we chose to buy a business knowing that this was going to be hard. She saw how hard this last year was for us so she understands that the business was a lot of work. But I told her that someday, after we’ve worked very hard, we want to buy a farm.

We dream of having five acres and maybe some cows, chickens, and horses. In a funny way, even our dream will end up involving a lot of hard work… but that’s what Jaquiths do.

It’s important to me that she understands we will work for the rest of our lives. If you have the expectation that you’re just trying to get from weekend to weekend or just to make it to 7 p.m. so you can lay down and watch TV, you’ll be missing the joy and deep satisfaction from choosing to work hard and being good at it.

As I was reflecting on this phrase more, I realized that… Catholics choose hard things. It’s one of the reasons I love our faith so much and I also think it’s why our faith is so often misunderstood.

Because Catholics believe in redemptive suffering and because we are striving for sainthood by trying to become the best-version-of-ourselves, many of us aren’t afraid of the hard things. We choose to staff an Adoration chapel 24 hours a day. We say our sins OUT LOUD to a dude in a small room because we believe that this very difficult task has the reward of washing us clean.

It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

We go to Mass every single weekend even if we’re traveling, camping, or don’t feel like it. We don’t use birth control. Many choose to have big families even though it’s an incredibly hard adventure to take on. We give of our time and money to help feed the poor, care for the unwanted, and fight for justice.

I am proud to tell my daughter that Catholic choose hard things. I want us to feel pride that we are ready to roll up our sleeves and work for Christ. I want her to expect a lifetime of this because no matter what vocation she chooses, it’s going to be hard work.

And in telling this to her, I realize that I had lost sight of this for myself. I was feeling bad about my crummy January. I was wallowing and being a little bit lazy, truth be told, using pregnancy and snow as an excuse. But guess what? When I’m not true to myself, when I don’t try to be the best-version-of-myself… I inevitably feel depressed.

Deep down, I know I didn’t give it my all. I feel bad that I wussed out.

Now don’t get me wrong, I talk all about Survival Mode in Catholic Mom Challenge so by all means, you need to know when NOT to beat yourself up.

But I’ve allowed this Christmas break to drag on and it’s time to get back to work no matter how much snow is on the ground or how many days of school are cancelled (which doesn’t actually affect us but for some reason I want to check out when the rest of the city is off of school 😉

Jaquiths choose hard things.

Catholic choose hard things.

Let us not be scared of the work. Let us roll up our sleeves and give thanks to God that we have work to do. It means that we have houses to clean, children to love, jobs to go to, and our faith to share. What amazing blessings we have! Let us not let our search for leisure lead us to miss the great satisfaction of work.

“The knowledge that by means of work man shares in the work of creation constitutes the most profound motive for undertaking it in various sectors. ‘The faithful… must learn the deepest meaning and the value of all creation, and its orientation to the praise of God. Even by their secular activity they must assist one another to live holier lives. In this way the world will be permeated by the spirit of Christ and more effectively achieve its purpose in justice, charity, and peace . . .  Therefore, by their competence in secular fields and by their personal activity, elevated from within by the grace of Christ, let them work vigorously so that by human labor, technical skill and civil culture, created goods may be perfected according to the design of the Creator and the light of his word.” –Pope John Paul II in Laborem Exercens

Episode 10: 5 Ways to Plan For A Year You Can’t Plan For

Episode 10: 5 Ways to Plan For A Year You Can’t Plan For

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

This has been one of the strangest New Years for me. Normally I love getting out my planner, reviewing goals, setting news ones, and dreaming about the future. But this year I find that our family is not even at a cross-roads… we are in the middle of nowhere without any idea of which direction to go or how long it will take us to reach and unknown destination.

I let my pen hover over my blank piece of paper… I got nothing.

I know I’m going to have a baby in July (God willing, of course.) My husband doesn’t have a job. We own a company that hobbled along last year as we learned how to run it by making just about every mistake we could make. Lord, please let that have been most of the mistakes.

My parents still live with me and their situation is getting worse each month. I’m worried for them and yet there is nothing I can do for them other than let them live with us.

We will continue to homeschool though we are considering a two day per week homeschooling co-op in the Fall… if my husband gets a job and we can afford it.

I think we can afford to stay in our house so I don’t believe we’ll have to move. We have no reason to travel this (i.e. weddings or reunions.) In a way, when you can’t spend money, it certainly simplifies your to-do list. There won’t be any house painting, book buying, new kitchen gadgets to try,

I can’t really start an exercise regime beyond pregnancy walking/stretching. I tried to put together a food plan but honestly, I don’t know what I’ll be able to keep down one day to the next so even that felt a bit silly.

In short, I’m left planning a year that I really can’t plan for. If you find yourself in the same position, here’s what I recommend you do:

  1. Humble Yourself. The truth is, we never have real control over our lives anyway. Women get this turned around all the time. We think that we can organize or schedule our way into control thus keeping out life’s unpredictable nature, but that’s a lie. There will always be unexpected twists and turns in our great life.
  2. Embrace Suffering. I find myself trying to run from pain and suffering. My first reaction is to avoid these whenever possible. And yet the more I read about the lives of the saints, the more I come to understand, not only the redemptive power of suffering but also what a gift it is in my own life. Never have I experienced great suffering where I did not emerge a better version of myself afterward.
  3. Pray More.  I know, I know, I say this all the time. But I say it because I find that I STILL don’t pray enough. ME! It’s so easy to get caught up in life and taking care of the kids, that I don’t protect that prayer time. If you can’t work on improving your life because you have no idea where your life is going, it’s the perfect time to surrender everything to the Lord and pray.
  4. Serve Others. There is always someone worse off than you. Even if you have no money, you probably have time to write thoughtful emails or make phone calls to check in on the elderly or other people who are lonely. We don’t have much money but I can afford to have people over for tea and cookies and sometimes, another mama really needs that. Serve others instead of wallowing in your own unfortunate circumstances.
  5. Let Go Of Fear. I’ve been spending so much time worrying about the 100 different scenarios that could be played out this year, that I can guarantee I’ve been worrying about at least 80 things that will never happen. How silly is that? Why would we ever waste time worrying about something that is never going to happen? I never worry about tornados living in Bosie. Why am I worrying about whether or not Rose will understand math in six months? If you’re struggling with this one, I highly recommend reading On the Other Side of Fear by Hallie Lord

Don’t worry about me, please. We are doing just fine. I just feel like a fish out of water in some new circumstances. The Lord has asked me to jump without seeing the net and I’m doing my best to obey.

I am safe. I have a home and I can feed my children and read them books. Really, that puts me in the top 1% of people in the world.

These last few months have helped me to see that a lot of people really do lead unpredictable lives. While I would love everything to fit neatly on a page in my planner with checklists for everything, that isn’t something God promises us. In a way, it has been freeing to let go of my fake control and to really trust that God will give us what He intends to give us. It may not be what I want and it probably won’t even be something I can imagine right now but it will be what I need.

It will be up to me whether I spurn the life He gives me or whether I embrace His plan and am forged into a Saint. After all, that’s what our lives should all be about. But I’ll be honest, I kind of need a daily reminder of that to stay focused!s

Episode 9: Five Tips To Have An Awesome 2017

Episode 9: Five Tips To Have An Awesome 2017

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

ANNOUNCEMENT: I am pregnant and expecting baby Jaquith #4 in July 2017! Please pray for the health of this baby. It’s been a rough first trimester but I’m almost done and I’m hoping to feel a lot better after that.  Coffee & Pearls will resume every Tuesday and Catholic Mom Challenge is going to have a busy January so stay tuned for more announcements!

So let’s get to it! Do you want to have an awesome 2017?

Here are the five things I would recommend you do to significantly increase your chances of having an awesome 2017.

Subscribe to the Magnificat 

You can get a physical version or you can get a version on your phone. While there are many places to get the daily readings online for free (Blessed Is She is one place https://blessedisshe.net/), the extra hymns, prayers, and commentary found in the Magnificat is wonderful.

My husband and I have found many conversations have sprung from what we read in the Magnificat. We try to read it every morning and every evening. It’s amazing how often we read something that seems to apply to exactly what we’re going through in our lives. It’s a way for Jesus to reach through the world and speak directly to us. I also love knowing that I’m reading the same readings as hundreds of thousands of Catholics around the world!

If you already read the Magnificat and you’re looking for something more challenging, you should pray the Divine Office also called the Liturgy of the Hours.  http://divineoffice.org/These are the official prayers of the church and while I would love to see every single Catholic pray these each day, I know it can be a bit tricky to learn and it takes discipline to say them every day.

Subscribe to Optimize with Brian Johnson

I’m not a fan of monthly subscriptions to almost anything. I don’t like spending money automatically without having to discern each month if I want to spend that money. But I do, however, subscribe to this website for $10 per month and it continues to be what fuels my self-growth.

The Master Class videos are amazing. They are at least an hour long and are jam-packed with practical tips around a particular subject. I really enjoyed Nutrition 101, Optimal Sleep 101 and Conquering Perfectionism 101.

The new app for this company is so easy to use. I can listen to the Master Classes as well as all the Philosopher’s Notes anytime I want. The Philosopher’s Notes are 7-minute summaries of self-help books. I feel like I can read 100 books in a year just by listening to these summaries. Many of the books are ones I’d never think to read so I’m grateful for that exposure.

Read Catholic Mom Challenge

Perhaps here’s some shameless self-promotion but my book is absolutely designed to be something you read and implement at the New Year.  Some of you reset your year in September with the school year, in November for Advent or in January. No matter when, this book is all about recognizing your bad habits and your common pitfalls and creating plans to prevent and overcome those obstacles this year.

Let’s be honest, while we can grow and make progress in our lives, we often suffer from the same weaknesses every year. Instead of being naively optimistic about “trying harder”, let’s come up with an actual game plan for what to do when these common weaknesses show up!

I cover faith, marriage, motherhood, rest, health, finances and homemaking. It’s not a How To Guide because we all have different lives, there is no one right way. It’s more of a “ask these questions of yourself to figure out what’s best for you” type of book!

And guess what? I want you to read it so badly that the Kindle version will be FREE from December. 28th thru January 1st!

You can also sign up for my daily email at www.catholicmomchallenge.com which features a weekly scripture verse, a virtue to focus on each week and then a daily challenge to keep you motivated!

Stop Eating Sugar

Many of you are going to tackle new gym memberships and eating plans in January. I’m not a hater of New Year’s Resolutions. I think it’s a great time to get hyped up about making good choices. What I think is dangerous is when we try to tackle too many new changes and we get so overwhelmed that we end up quitting.  Don’t do that this year.

Pace yourself.

If you managed to ONLY cut out refined sugar from your diet, you’d be well on your way to winning 2017! Sugar is not only cancer’s favorite food, it’s the source of many of the ailments we suffer as Americans. And we don’t quite realize just how much sugar we’re eating until we get educated about the many different names for sugar and the sneaky places it likes to hide.

Instead of trying to overhaul your whole diet which can be exahusting, expensive and overwhelming. I would start with just sugar. Cut out fake sugar. Trust me, that’s going to be hard enough. 

Here is a great article from a Catholic Mama I really respect: http://wellnessmama.com/15/harmful-effects-of-sugar/

Learn How To Use YouTube

It might sound silly to mention this in 2017 but I know that my YouTube use has gone up exponentially in the last three years. I now use YouTube almost as often as I Google thing.

  • Listen to Audio books for FREE (Just search for Book Title Audiobook)
  • Figure out what’s wrong with your car, vacuum, dishwasher, phone, computer etc. (I use this all the time)
  • Let a 13-year-old girl teach you how to do your hair and make-up properly
  • Learn about topics to help your kids with school or homeschooling

There’s just an endless amount of things you can learn on YouTube. I watched a fabulous series about how to write fantasy fiction novels with Brandon Sanderson.

Don’t be a fuddy-duddy. YouTube isn’t even new anymore. Learn how to use it and let it make your life easier and richer! There are thousands of Catholic videos there too include some really great ones from Ascension Press and EWTN.

You Can Do It!

I know those five things probably feel like a tall order right about now but each one is quite manageable. Take a deep breath, you are capable of amazing things and you can do this. Cut out the things that aren’t bringing you closer to Jesus and focus on living a more simple life. In the end, living simply and with Jesus is the key to everything.

Episode 8: Find Your BFF Saint

Episode 8: Find Your BFF Saint

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

I think the Saints of the Catholic Church are the biggest untapped resource that we have. They’re Saints, which means they’re awesome. They’re hanging out in Heaven where they have eternity to help us. They’re with Jesus so they can expertly guide us to be more like Jesus. Most of all, God gave us a Church that declares Saints so we can learn from them so He must have wanted us to learn from them!

And yet most of us leave them in the background. Sure, we may have a few Saints we like and a few pictures or prayers in our homes but how many of us are truly deep relationships with one or more Saints?

I’m sure some of you do but I know it’s certainly something I need to work on. I feel like I spent my first few years of my Catholic faith learning about the saints. I read a lot of children’s books and articles online. I’ve read a lot of summaries and I have an idea of the many Saints that I think I would like.


But to be honest, I haven’t had a deep and intimate relationship with many of them. I have spent a great deal of time trying to cultivate a friendship with them.

As we approach the Catholic new year, that is one of my biggest goals. I want to pick a few Saints and really get to know them. I want to talk to them often, learn about their life in a much more detailed way, and really see what can come from having a friendship with a holy person in Heaven.

Last year was the first year my family and I each picked a patron Saint for the year. I put 200 Saint names in an excel spreadsheet and then we each pressed a button on a random number generator online and the number showed us who are Saint would be. It was a lot of fun and we learned about five new Saints last year!

This year I wrote the Saint names on a used set of poker chips that I bought on Craigslist so we could have the added fun of picking them out of a bag. To draw closer to whichever Saint I happen to get this year, I’m going to try the following things:

  1. Read a biography or autobiography of my saint
  2. Research my Saint’s family life and childhood for ideas to use with own children
  3. Try to find some old writings by my Saint and read those
  4. Say a daily prayer to my Saint
  5. Spend one day per month in Adoration dedicated to talking with my Saint
  6. Celebrate my Saint’s feast day and go to Mass that day
  7. Learn more about the time period my Saint lived in and share that with my children

If you want to pick a patron Saint for the year, check out Saint Name Generator.  I also like the Saint List from Catholic Online as a good resources for many different Saints. 

If you pick a patron Saint this year, I’d love to know who. Share it in the comments! If there are other ways you learn about or connect with your favorite Saints, I’d love to know more!

How to Advent Without Losing Your Mind

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

We less than two weeks away from Advent and this year, I think it’s really important that we have an intentional Advent season.

Many of us get hit in November… Thanksgiving sneaks up on us, then BAM it’s Advent and Christmas everything. Before we have a second to take a breath and plan what we want to do, the season is already here! The stores are filled with Christmas music and decorations. Costco tempts you with lots of “this deal is great and you know it won’t be here the next time you come” so it’s easy to panic and start buying without a plan.

Events start popping up left and right… parties…volunteering…Christmas lights on everything…and FREE refined white sugar everywhere you go.

I don’t know about you but I feel a little tense just thinking about the holiday storm that’s headed my way.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. We don’t have to give in to the way America does Christmas. We can be intentional about our activities, our food, our decorations, and yes, even the mood of our homes. This year I want to invite you to take control of the Advent season leading up to Christmas. I want you to cut out the things that stress you out and I want you to embrace the things that give you peace.

I want you to do this even if it’s counter-cultural.

The world needs more peace right now and I believe that starts in our living rooms. Don’t give way to MORE MORE MORE. We don’t need more sound, more stuff, more food, and more stress. American Christmas is not the boss of you.

Jesus is the boss of you.

I have to work really hard to protect my heart during the holidays. It’s easy for me to give in and feel envy, an overwhelming desire to eat all the free food put in front of me, a disordered urge to buy my kids things they don’t need, and deep depression as I see the shallowness of how the world treats Christmas – it really bothers my soul.

Now, I can choose to give in to these emotions when they pop up or I can simply recognize them and say, “Nope, I’m going do X instead.” By having a plan and knowing my next steps when temptation comes my way is how I live intentionally during the holiday season.

Here are my top ten tips for How To Advent Without Losing Your Mind!

  1. Get on the same page as your spouse! Sit down and go over what happened last year. What was stressful? What was fun? Ask the kids what their favorite traditions are. They might surprise you. Choose the things that bring your family peace.
  2. Create a CODE word with your spouse. Pick a word that means, “Hey, I need to talk to you for a second.” This allows you to feel empowered to talk to your spouse privately. Maybe you see your husband about to get in a political argument. Maybe your husband really wants to go but he doesn’t want to be rude your friends. Whatever it is, having a CODE word helps us to be more kind to our spouse when we’re in public knowing that if there’s something difficult we need to say, we can do it privately.
  3. Say NO early on. You’re probably going to be invited to a ton of work/school/friend parties. Do you like going? Can you handle going and not eating all the cookies? If yes, keep them on your calendar and spread the love of Christ everywhere you go. If you don’t like going, politely say no early so you don’t cancel at the last minute when you’re too tired, too stressed, or it’s not a good fit for your family.
  4. Don’t drink then be merry! I struggle with my weight and so I have to be very careful during the holidays not to eat everything that’s put in front of me. One of the quickest ways I blow it is by having a glass of wine. Simply one glass of alcohol ruins my resolve to stick to my healthy food plan so my solution… I don’t drink at holiday parties.
  5. Set gift expectations early. If you’re tight on money this year, communicate it now to your family. Write a nice email explaining that you’re paying down debt and you won’t be giving presents this year. Instead, maybe you can give coupons. “Help snow shoveling” or “Sister tea date at home”
  6. Prepare for sticky family situations. It’s likely that if you’re family was crazy and contentious last year…they’re going to be this year too. Write down some uncomfortable conversations you’re likely to encounter and come up with some responses. Even if you’re answer is, “I’d love to talk about that. I’ll email you tomorrow,” at least you’ll be armed with a response.
  7. Volunteer! If you’re lonely during the holidays, the best way to cure this is to get out and volunteer. When you’re giving food or warm clothes to homeless people, it puts your lack of a boyfriend into perspective. Serving other is always a way to lift your spirits.
  8. Focus on Mary! Jesus tends to steal the show during Christmastime but really, I think Mary is the star of Advent. I picture our sweet mother traveling, super pregnant, on a donkey having no idea where she’s going to have her baby! I think she deserves extra prayers and thanks during Advent.
  9. Squish your envy bug! Don’t give in to the idea of keeping up with the Jones’s. Envy/Jealous steals our joy. When thoughts of envy pop into my head, I imagine a little bug flying near my ear whispering awful things to try and get me to want more things and to stop being grateful for what I have. I squeeze my thumb and my pointer finger together, pretending to squish that bug and I move on.
  10. Be grateful! We hear this over and over again during the holidays but really, how many of you are actually keeping a WRITTEN account of all the things you’re grateful for? Do it this year. It’s one of the fastest ways to have a peaceful and joyful holiday season!

I expand on each of these in more detail in my new book Be Merry: A Catholic Guide to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression During the Holidays. I have a lot of exercises laid out that are quick and easy to do so you can have a more intentional Advent season.

Don’t let the world steal your joy. Our peace comes from Jesus Christ and no one can take that way from us.

Technology Is Your Friend

Technology Is Your Friend

pablo-15Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

Today I want to do something a little different. I want to talk about all the technology I use for my website, my podcast and for self-publishing. I get a lot of questions about these topics and I thought it’d be great to have all the resources listed in one place.

I genuinely believe that blogging, podcasting, and self-publishing are much easier than people think. They’re also incredibly satisfying, especially for stay-at-home moms who want a really part-time hobby that they can do on their own terms.

Not only have I made genuine friends from blogging and podcasting but it has also pushed me to be a better person. There is a built-in sense of accountability when you tell the world you’re going to do something. It has helped me stretch and grow socially and spiritually.

If I leave anything out, shoot me a quick message and I’ll make sure to answer your question!

Blogging

Hosting – I use www.eperfect.net.  They’re a few dollars more per month than other companies but their support staff speaks English and lives in the United States. I get the same person every time and man, that’s worth a few dollars a month to me! I also buy my domain names from them as well.

Platform – All my websites are built on a www.wordpress.org platform. Don’t confuse that with www.wordpress.com. You don’t want to use that site because then your website will be sitename.wordpress.com. You want your own website at your own URL (website address).

Templates – I’m a big fan of www.elegantthemes.com although I think you need to have a lot of time and tech savvy to implement their templates if you’re picky. If you’re not picky, their DIVI theme can make your website look modern and is pretty easy to setup.  I also like themes from http://restored316designs.com/. They’re more money but sometimes they have exactly what I want.

Pictures – I use www.picmonkey.com, www.canva.com, or www.pablo.buffer.com to make the pictures with the title on top. I also use pictures at www.unsplash.com.

Podcasting

Microphone – Here is the microphone I use. There are plenty of nicer ones and I might invest in a nicer one next year but this works just fine for me right now.

Microphone Holder – Here is the holder I use. This allows the microphone to sit on my desk so I can speak hands-free while I’m recording.

Pop filter – This is a pop filter.  It makes sure that if you smack your lips or make funny noises while breathing, it doesn’t get picked up by the microphone. It also filters out kids sometimes when they bust into the room 😉

Editing program (It’s FREE!) –  This program is really easy to use. I’ve had no problems with it. It’s pretty self-explanatory but if you’re having a hard time, there are also lots of YouTube videos explaining how to use it.

Opening Song – Free Music Archive has free songs. This is what I used to find the song for Coffee & Pearls, which I love! I did have my dad edit the file so it fades in and out. You can find other people to do this for you one time for a minimal amount of money!

Hosting – www.libsyn.com $15 per month – I started out using SoundCloud but I could not figure out how to upload it to iTunes. I kept getting error messages and SoundCloud wouldn’t help me. I did this for a few weeks (!) before throwing in the towel. I switched to Libsyn and had no problems at all!

Mixer – Because my podcast doesn’t have guests, I do the whole thing in one shot using Audacity and I don’t need a mixer. I don’t have to edit in audio clips, advertisements or other speakers. For people who have more complex shows, they usually need a mixing board. Here’s a good article explaining them https://www.thepodcasthost.com/equipment/podcast-mixers/

Self-Publishing

Book Cover – I used www.Canva.com which has book templates or Photoshop to design an original book cover. I let my friends and readers choose which one they liked best.

Editor – I had my book edited by Jeannie Ewing from http://fromgrief2grace.com/.  I can’t tell you how much it would be to edit any book.  My book was rather lengthy and due to my poor education (or poor studying skills), I need a lot of grammar clean-up after the first draft! Based on your word count and how clean your grammar is, I imagine you’ll be looking at $200-$600 no matter who you work with.

ISBN and Barcode – An expensive part of self-publishing is buying your ISBN number. You need this if you want to sell your book in bookstores and it really legitimizes your book.  Unfortunately, only one company has the ability to sell them https://www.myidentifiers.com/. It’s expensive whether you buy one or 100. I did purchase a barcode through them as well but I think all their other up-sales are bogus and not worth it.

KDP Select – I used Amazon’s KDP Select program to publish the kindle version of my book. Some people hire this out but I didn’t find it that hard to figure out so I did it myself. It allows you to upload your book, then immediately download a kindle version. I used that to make formatting changes and then I uploaded it again.

CreateSpace – I used Amazon’s CreateSpace program to publish the physical version of my book. It was also very easy to use and I formatted this myself. What was hard was finding guidelines for fonts and page setup. The internet has a lot of conflicting opinions about that!  Eventually, I pulled a few books off the shelf that I liked

There ya go!

If you have any questions about websites, podcasting or self-publishing, I would love to chat with you or help you if I can. I’m not extremely technical but I’ve spent a lot of hours getting things wrong so I do know more than I did five years ago!

I Just Want

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

NOTE: Most of the time my blog entry is almost exactly the same as my podcast but for some reason, the Holy Spirit just jumped right in and I say a lot more on this week’s podcast that is typed up below. Check if out if you want some more details!

The other day I was caught saying, “I just want our business to work.” I was complaining to my husband about a particularly unfortunate series of events. I was feeling deflated. My spirits were low and I wanted an easy way out.

My husband gently reminded me that the phrase, “I just want…” is one that we should cut out of our language. There is nothing in the world that we just want except God. Think about something that you “just want” and imagine for a moment that you got it. It wouldn’t be long before you would just want something else.

Often times we think we just want…

…a happy marriage

…more money

…healthy children

…our own health

…a better job

But in the end, none of those things will satisfy us. If we had a million dollars, a stunning marriage, healthy bodies and healthy children, we would still feel an emptiness inside. The only thing that can fill that is Jesus.

Here’s what I want. I just want each one of you to have a light bulb moment today that what you really need is Jesus. Every single one of you needs more Jesus in your life. You need to spend more time loving him, more time talking to him and more time telling what you need.

Here’s a good exercise to go through. Get out a piece of paper and rip up several strips. On each of those strips write down all the “just want” things in your life. Put down all the things you think would make you finally feel happy.

If possible, find a way to burn those pieces of paper. We have a wood burning fireplace so it’s a nice easy way to do this. If you don’t, you can simply rip them up and toss them in the trash. You could also rip them up and put them in a glass of water to watch them float away.

Do something visual and pray while you’re doing it. Pray the Our Father, pray the Hail Mary and then just free form pray asking God to give you the strength to choose Him first over everything else.

I thought it was time we lean on some more saint wisdom so I wanted to mention five quotes in particular that I often use to get me more excited for living a Catholic life instead of the glitzy life the world tells me to live.

“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” -St. Jerome

“Don’t you long to shout to those youths who are bustling around you: Fools! Leave those worldly things that shackle the heart – and very often degrade it – leave all that and come with us in search of Love!” – St. Josemaria Escriva

The nation doesn’t simply need what we have. It needs what we are.” -St. Teresia Benedicta (Edith Stein)

“We are to love God for Himself, because of a twofold reason; nothing is more reasonable, nothing more profitable.” -St. Bernard of Clairvaux

You cannot be half a saint; you must be a whole saint or no saint at all.” -St. Therese of Lisieux

Quotes from the saints are one of the ways I stay grounded. I need these words of wisdom to counter the negative messages swimming around in my mind. And I think it’s such a beautiful thing that our Catholic church gives us these saints as examples for how we can live out our life. There are thousands of them so we can surely find a few who resonate with us.

This week I want you to do the Just Want paper ripping exercise and I want you to find one saint quote that you can keep with you. Put it on a piece of paper or a notecard and stick it in your purse. You’ll know it’s there.  You’ll know it’s with you. You can pull it out if you need to or you can just stand taller and feel proud that this piece of wisdom is with you, all the time.

It’ll be like your Catholic gem that you can draw strength from.

Bookkeeping in God’s Economy

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

It can be difficult to know how we should spend our time. Most of are not called to cloistered life and few of us will serve out religious vocations where we pray for many hours of the day. The rest of us are left to try and figure out what to do to bring glory to God with the people and the tasks He has put right in front of us.

It’s easy to be confused too. The world has some very specific measurements for success: fame, beauty, and money.

But often we find that God’s economy is the complete opposite. Those who are last are first. I’m sure when we get to Heaven, we will discover thousands of saints that weren’t famous at all. We already know that many saints were not classically beautiful by the world’s standards. Many saints were dirt poor and some who were rich gave all their money away.

With these conflicting ideas, where are we to start? Who should we set out to become? What is our own measurement of success?

I have been asking myself this question lately after publishing my first book. How do I decide if it was “successful?” I knew it wouldn’t be a New York Times Best Seller. I had always planned on launching the ebook version for free so I could get it to as many moms as possible. I had read how important it was to get at least twenty reviews on Amazon so the algorithms of that site take you more seriously.

But would sales, reviews or downloads make my project successful?

When you are working for Christ, you must use a different measurement stick. I told my husband a few months ago that my biggest hope would be to get emails from women telling me that my book actually helped them.  Getting those messages is my favorite part of Coffee & Pearls.

In the end, even if we truly and genuinely help one soul turn more toward Christ, our efforts will have been worth something.

Going back to what I mentioned a few weeks ago, we can plant little seeds in everyday conversations.  We can put little markers that lead people back to Jesus. Souls are what matters. Eternity is what matters.

If you find yourself worrying about money, promotions, awards, popularity, even security… remind yourself that in the end, none of these things matter. Sure, they may make the journey easier and they may enable you to have the resources to help more people… but it’s the helping more people that really matters.

You are going to die and God is going to review your life with you. How confident are you that what you’re choosing to focus on is something you’d be proud to tell Him about?

“Blessed are those who fear the Lord.” We are not talking about the paralyzing fear that keeps you hiding under your covers and afraid to live your life. We’re talking about the genuine fear of getting to the end of your life and disappointing God. It’s the fear of realizing that we constantly chose the easy way out or the pleasure of sin over what God has asked us to care about.

“For to everyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

I’ve always liked this quote a lot because it makes me think about peace. Because we are constantly thinking about money, it’s easy to think this refers only to wealth.  I think this can also be said of our peace and trust in the Lord.

When we trust in God and we have peace, I believe we discover even more peace.  We also take the peace we have and we spread it to those around us. But when we are scared that we’re missing out on worldly things and we’re afraid of not having enough fame, money, beauty, we lose our peace and that often leads us to lose even more peace.

In God’s economy “to have” means “to give”. Too many of are focused on the having.  The more we start to give, the more we’ll find peace because that’s how God’s economy works. And I imagine we won’t know until the very end of our life how very much we’ll get from living a life of giving to others.

One way we can better keep an accounting of how we’re doing is by journaling at night. See at night, when we write down what we’ve done for the day, we can more clearly see the genuinely good things we’ve done and the ways we’ve strayed away from the Lord.  This is especially good to do after we do an examination of conscience. None of us will write in our journal, “Had a great time gossiping with my friend about another mom.”

Journaling helps us quiet the lies of the world and focus on what’s true and good. It also helps us see the ways we weren’t our best. When I sit down to journal, I can’t lie to myself about what I’ve done for the day. It’s all laid out there for me to see. When I’m writing, I think of standing before God and telling Him about my day. It’s good to have those moments every day so we don’t die having never really examined our own life.

Where do you have your priorities turned around?

If you’re not journaling, why don’t you choose that as something to try out for Advent this year?

 

Why We Censor Outlander and HGTV

Why We Censor Outlander and HGTV

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

One of the favorite posts I’ve ever written was Wisdom from Children’s Bible Songs.  In it, I mention the lyrics, “Oh be careful little eyes what you see.” It’s a song about guarding your heart by guarding your eyes and I think there is so much wisdom in that advice.

As adults, when we finally get old enough to watch whatever we want because our parents aren’t around to filter our options, we learn that watching a scene of people doing drugs… doesn’t suddenly make us want to run out and do drugs. And for me at least, it took a long time before I realized that just because I could watch something, didn’t mean that I should.

My criteria for what my husband and I watch is much stricter than it was when we first got married. I see now how easy it is to become a fuddy-duddy in your older age.  It’s not that you’re confused about what’s cool or you feel like sinning is a disease that you can catch from your television, I think you just realize that life is short and you don’t need to be exposed to more ugliness in the world.

There is already enough actual violence and ugliness in the world.  I don’t need to process and live through scripted violence. This is especially true for me when it comes to rape, kidnapping, or any harm befalling children. I have a hard enough time guarding my heart and not falling into endless worrying about my own children, I don’t need to add fear coming from a made-up, cinematic world on top of real world issues.

It’s also important to recognize our own weaknesses. My husband went to college when porn was prevalent in the dorm rooms and treated like a casual occurrence. After he became Catholic, he had to work hard to deny the impulse to click around in the murky waters of the internet. I’m glad that he was able to manage that issue before we got married but I know that I have to be sensitive to this issue for him.

Even though I can watch sex scenes or topless women and feel completely unaffected by it, he cannot. He says those images linger in his mind and then he feels guilty every time they pop up. That sounds awful to me and I don’t want to contribute to that struggle for him, in any way.  We use VidAngel in our house to cut out sex scenes and nudity.

In marriage, you’re a team and to support my husband, I don’t watch any sex on television. Yes, that means I cut out all the steamy scenes from Outlander that I hear people talk about. We sensor Game of Thrones too. I’m thankful for VidAngel because there were a lot of shows we avoided altogether previously that we are now able to watch.

The other big category of shows that we censor are what I like to call “Make Me Want to Move” shows. You see, the thing about censoring television, is you have to guard your eyes against things that are bad for your heart. When I watch shows like Fixer Upper or something with Property Brothers, I find that I am often suddenly unhappy with my perfectly good home.

I want beautiful white trim or built-in bookshelves. I want to remodel my kitchen or have different furniture. For me, this is just as dangerous as nudity can be for my husband. I suddenly find myself feeling ungrateful for what I have and feeling greedy about what I think I “deserve.”

If you can watch a remodeling show and not feel bad about yourself or your home, watch it. If you can watch sex scenes in Outlander and not grapple with sinful thoughts, go for it.

Everything I write about always incorporates self-awareness.  You need to know what you can and can’t handle. Do not watch any television show or movie that makes you feel unhappy about your life. If you can’t watch hallmark Christmas movies because you suddenly feel that your husband isn’t romantic enough, then stop doing it.

Ladies, we need to guard our eyes.

There are many ways that we need to exercise this other than just what we watch on our television sets. I don’t often go to Nordstrom anymore because I feel really inadequate walking through those aisles of expensive and trendy clothes. I don’t feel that way about other stores so I just protect myself in the ways I know I need to.

Work on identifying the shows or movies you tend to watch that make you feel bad later. You may even enjoy watching them but if you find that after a Master Chef marathon, you start beating yourself up for your simple dinners, that might not be a show you can watch anymore.

I also suggest talking with your husband about what kind of shows you’re willing to watch together or separately. Be a team and fight for each other. Your job is to get your husband to heaven. Don’t let trendy shows make his path more difficult.

Guard your eyes. Nothing is worth sinning even one time. Don’t lie to yourself that some sins are small and so they don’t matter. All the moments we turn away from God are hurtful. There are always consequences when we don’t walk with Jesus.

Choose wisely.