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!

S02:E12 Searching For Miracles

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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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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

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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

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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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.

Like A Cute Boy With A Guitar

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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I had the privilege of attending the St. Catherine of Siena Set the World Ablaze conference for Catholic women in Altadena, California this last week.  It was an uplifting weekend filled with laughter, inspiration, and delicious sandwiches. Because we don’t keep bread in my home, sandwiches have become like a fine dining treat to me!  And a sandwich bar where I can pick out all the things I want is especially delightful.

Back to Jesus. Meg Hunter-Kilmer was the first speaker.  I had heard of her and I knew people enjoyed her talks but I didn’t know anything about her.  She calls herself a “hobo for Christ.” She lives out of her car and travels around speaking to Catholic groups.  She doesn’t sleep in her car. She stays in people’s homes along the way.

Not only is her testimony of how God showed her love by asking her to let everything go and depend completely on Him wonderful, but she also talks about how we could all be better evangelists.  This is a topic near and dear to my heart and she is one of the best speakers I’ve seen address the subject.

Picture a 15-year-old girl who likes a cute boy who plays the guitar and she can’t shut up about him. – Meg Hunter-Kilmer

That’s how we should evangelize.  And she’s right.  Many of us have lost the spark of new love.  We have grown deeply in our faith but kept this beautiful journey to ourselves.  We are scared or nervous to talk about Jesus and or perhaps we are willing but don’t know where to start.

She made an excellent point that we don’t need to hit people over the heads with our Jesus message, we can simply open the door a crack and walk away.  When someone asks why you recently made a big decision, you can reply that you took it to prayer and through discernment felt that God was calling you to the specific path you chose.

That’s not hard to say. You can move on with your story without waiting to see if they were converted on the spot or watching to see if they want to try and take you down in a heated debate!

Work on using Catholic language in your everyday conversations: blessed, our blessed mother, mother Mary, prayer, praying, discernment, the Lord, the saints, Jesus, called by God etc.

You can use phrases like:

“I felt God calling me to…”

“I’ve been praying to the saints that….”

“Like our blessed mother….”

“Praise God, the weather is beautiful today!”

You can do this.  You can step outside of your comfort zone in a tiny way to open the door a crack and then walk away.  Plant Jesus seeds in the world.  Even the timidest of us can sneak these little words in so someone else can come along and water them.

One thing you can do is to invite Meg to come speak at your mom’s group, your youth group, your church or your next conference.  Just reach out to her and let her know you’ve got a place for her stay.  I promise she will speak the truth of Jesus to the hearts of the audience.

Fill out a contact form here: http://www.piercedhands.com/contact-me/

Or visit her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/mhunterkilmer/?fref=ts

Here is a link to her podcast where she also tells the stories of the saints for children! http://hoboforchrist.libsyn.com/

How can you be better about sharing your faith? If God has changed your life, how can you tell your story to others?

Pumpkin Spice and Liturgical Living

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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Fall is my favorite season! I love warm drinks, soup, sweaters and not having to hide my pale skin from the 85 degree sun.  There’s a comfort to fall.  I always enjoyed school so this was an exciting time for me for most of my life. I loved the crisp evening air watching high school football.  I’m a sucker for the changing color of the leaves.

Now, with all the things I have come to expect with fall, I can add pumpkin spice latte advertisements to the list. I like pumpkin spice lattes.  I don’t lose my mind over them like it appears that some people do. I don’t like pumpkin flavored everything either.  I enjoy pumpkin bread and a few PSL’s throughout the season.

While I do think the pumpkinifying of everything is a bit annoying and has certainly gotten out of hand in some cases, I like what it represents.

I believe that people are clinging to Pumpkin Season because what they are really longing for is liturgical living. As humans we long for both constancy and change. That sounds like a contradiction but God put the desire for both in our hearts.  C.S. Lewis describes this in The Screwtape Letters:

“The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change…But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm.”

The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis p. 257-258.

We long for both changing seasons and to know that some things never change.  This is why, when we embrace the Catholic liturgical calendar, it can be deeply satisfying.  We love the changing seasons, never lasting too long and yet we find comfort knowing that the very same seasons will come again.

Starbucks has capitalized on this. Non-Christians and Christians alike respond with joy over pumpkin spice lattes and the appearance of the famous RED CUPS in December.  It’s rhythm we crave and this Fortune 500 company is serving it up proudly…and without Jesus.

I find great hope in this. First, I see God’s thumbprint in the world even when people try so desperately to keep Him out. Second, I hope it’s a lesson we can learn as Catholic women. If we are more excited about PSL’s than we are celebrating feast days and liturgical season in our home, let us now take a step back and remedy the situation.

If you want to learn more about liturgical living, there are so many resources out there.  Don’t get overwhelmed by the many Pinterest worthy images you see.  Often my own family’s celebrations simply involve coloring a picture and making a slightly more special dinner than normal.  The other day we made an apple crisp (because I can’t seem to handle making pies but tossing apples in a pan with almond flour on top is manageable for me!)

Here are some websites I turn to for ideas about how I can celebrate the rhythms of our great Catholic faith with my kids:

I’m sure there are many more websites.  If I’ve missed some of your favorites, please comment and add them so others can see!

While it may be depressing to see the over-commercialization of our world, take heart that Jesus is always with us.  God’s fingerprints are all over us, even when we’re sure we’re leaving Him in the background. Also, when you’re friends get really excited over Starbucks coffee, gently mention liturgical living and see if you can keep each other accountable for adding in more feast days into your own family life!

In other news, my book is out! Oh my goodness! It’s been one of the most fun weeks of my life. CLICK HERE to get the Catholic Mom Challenge on Amazon

It’s only free until Friday so please tell your friends about it.  You can get the kindle version on Amazon.  The physical version will be out in a few weeks! Thanks for all your kind words and support.  It’s been overwhelming to me how many of you have already said you’re enjoying the book!

Be Anxious For Nothing

 

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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It’s been a tumultuous week for me both in my personal life and in my business life.  There are some sticky family situations happening around me and as fencing season slows down, my husband and I are left to wonder if he should stick it out through the winter or go get another job.  It’s not surprising to me that my life would get rocky right before publishing a Catholic book and yet it’s always still a little surprising.  

When you get ready to tell the world that giving your life to Jesus means you will have peace, you better believe God is going to test you a little on that front.  Sure it’s easy to be in love when things are easy, before the trials come.  I feel like my marriage has taken a big hit during this uncertain time as well.  And though my marriage is forever, it still catches me off-guard when we look at each other and think, “Man, I really don’t like you right now.”

6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. 7 Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Philipians 4:6-7

I’ve been praying with these verses a lot lately.  It’s important to note that Jesus doesn’t say, “Try not to worry too much.”  He makes a bold and strong command, “Be anxious for nothing.”

Nothing.

I have been clinging to these words in the middle of this storm.  As I find my worries bubbling up and my chest start to tighten, I whisper to myself, “Be anxious for nothing.”

To be honest with you, it’s actually working.  Repeating these words to myself all throughout the day has actually helped me to let go of some of these worries.  None of my problems have been solved but the simplicity of these words help me understand that these Earthly issues are small compared to eternity.

Be anxious for nothing.

We are so scared of pain and heartbreak that we close our eyes, cover our ears and let the noise of the world drown out our thoughts so we don’t have to… feel anything.  We don’t want to feel pain and sadness.  

God did not promise us a world without pain and sadness, though.  He promises us peace within those storms.  I am trying to learn how to live with deep pain and still feel calm and peaceful.  I have to remind myself, at least fifty times a day, to be anxious for nothing and I feel as if my brain is slowly rewiring itself.  I’m starting to believe the words and to embrace the pain.

I am letting go and trusting the Lord that He sees goodness coming out of these trials.  We cannot know the plans God has for us or those around us, and so our best choice is to trust Him.  It’s hard when I’m sure the future will hold even more pain and I’m scared of this.  

I don’t want my heart to break or to watch the people I love hurt.  

I was looking at old videos of Rose around her first birthday.  How quickly I have forgotten what she was like just four years ago.  I instantly felt this tugging of my heart as I caught a glimpse of just how fast this life goes. Laid out before me, I could see that my life would continue screaming forward with many blessings and many more trials.

Be anxious for nothing.

God knows exactly where you are.  He has a plan for your life and for all the people around you.  We don’t get to know what those plans are but we do get to choose to have peace throughout them.  

If you are a chronic worrier, purpose to retrain your mind. You are not a slave to your thoughts.  You have the power to change them and to create new patterns of thinking.  As many of us head into the school year and the busy season of Fall, let us constantly have the phrase “be anxious for nothing” on our lips.  

Let us cultivate a spirit of peace and then pass that peace on to others.  

I am living in an incredibly stressful and emotional hurtful time and yet, I’m clinging to this idea of peace.  Without Jesus and His promise for peace, I would allow myself to drown in my sorrow and my worries.  I don’t share any of this because I want people to feel sorry for me.  Quite the contrary!  I feel as if I’m learning, for the first time, what it feels like to be truly free.  

I want you to experience this freedom too.  We are free when we finally surrender everything to God.  I remember reading once that farmers naturally have to rely on God because only God can change the weather.  I’m starting to feel more like a farmer realizing that all the changes I want to see in my life, can only come from Him.

When you finally relinquish control, you will find peace.  

Be anxious for nothing.  Say this to yourself today as the world tries to steal your peace.  You belong to Jesus and He has a plan for you.

Book Cover Design!

No podcast this week, launching a book is taking up all my time!  But let me tell you, it just keeps getting better and better.  My editor is amazing, I took a worksheet workshop (say that a few times) and the handouts that go with my book are fantastic and now I need your help with the book cover!

I have three book cover designs I’m considering.  I’d love your feedback!  Let me know which is your favorite and if there’s anything you think I should change!  I can’t to share this project with you!

Book Cover 3Booc Cover 2 Booc Cover 1

 

Money, Heaven and Why We Get It Wrong

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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As my life has taken some pretty big turns recently, I find I’ve had to overhaul my budget a few times. As I sit down and stare at my Google Docs spreadsheet of numbers, I try to think of something else we can cut back on. Where can we spend less? How can we save more? As the fate of my husband’s job situation remains up in the air, it is my responsibility to do what I can to be a good steward of what we have.

I believe everyone should have a budget.  It’s important we know where our money is going because where we put our money, shows what we value. And it’s important that we look at our finances as a whole, because tithing 20% of your income when you can’t pay your electricity bill is not wise. Nor is it right to have new cars, iPhones, cable television, exotic cheese from New Seasons, and then say that you can’t afford to give money to the church.

Most of us live somewhere in between. We’re trying to figure out what we really need and balance that with what we want. As I’m trying to tighten up our spending, I’m keeping my iPhone, but I’m trying to eat all the food in our cupboards to minimize our grocery bill.  My kids are eating a lot less meat, and eating a lot more rice and beans. I’m giving them more bananas and apples instead of berries unless berries are on sale.   I’m also making sure everyone is drinking more water so we’re not confusing hunger for thirst and snacking all day.

We lowered the temperature in our house to decrease or air conditioning bill. I’ve been looking for things around the house that I could sell for $20 to $50 on Craigslist. And most of all I just decided that we really do have enough right now. The kids don’t need new clothes, we have plenty of books and we certainly don’t need any toys.

I won’t be buying any expensive coffees out of the house. My husband and I are going to go for walks for a date instead of eating at a restaurant. Are these huge sacrifices? Of course not. It would be naïve of me to act like this is a big deal when hundreds of thousands of people don’t have clean water.

But I grew up in an entitled generation; a generation who feels like they NEED all the things.  We buy stuff we can’t afford and then we are shocked that we’ve lost freedom.  Giving these things up does feel like a sacrifice but I also know it is my responsibility to do so.  

Many people don’t even have a budget so they don’t know how much they can afford to spend for fun. Many Americans have no idea where their money is going. This is not what God asks of us.

God asks us to be good stewards of everything he’s given us, no matter how big or small. He’s asked us to be responsible. It’s not responsible to “accidentally” spend a few hundred dollars at Target or Costco and put your family in bad place.  There have been times in my life where I could afford to spend money like that, and there are times in my life when I can’t. My job, as a good steward of what God has given me is, to know the difference.

I’m not trying to make you feel bad  but I think too few of us dwell on eternal life. We can’t take money with us when we die. And when we stand in front of Jesus to be judged,  he is either going to say, “I never knew you; depart from me,” or he will say, “Well done my good and faithful servant.”  

Why do we spend so much time thinking about how we’re going to decorate our houses and not consider whether we will be worthy of Heaven with our father?

In the Bible, there are countless quotes about how few people will actually be saved  And yet, I almost never hear people talking about this. We sit comfortably in are Catholics pews or the millions of our Protestant brothers and sisters in their own church and we all feel so safe, so sure we’ve made it.

We show what we value when we spend our money and most of us are saying that we value comfort, popularity, trendiness, and fun more than Jesus and more than charity. God does not call most us to give away all their possessions and become a missionary.  But he does ask us to pay attention to him.  He wants to be involved in every dollar that you spend. He wants to give you peace when you don’t have enough, and he wants to help you discern what to do with your money when you are blessed with more.

How involved is Jesus and every dollar you spend?

What are you valuing with your dollars?

If you are compulsively spending to make yourself feel better, what fears do you have deep down that you’re not giving over to Jesus?

When my husband and I go into what we call “rice and beans” mode which means, for some reason, we’ve had to really lock down our finances and spend very little, I am always surprised to find how very little we need.   Perhaps it helps that we both grew up in poor families and so many of the luxury that we enjoy, are ones I can easily give up.  

I don’t want you to feel guilty, I want you to feel great hope. We were not meant for this world, we were meant to spend eternity with our father in Heaven which is the most amazing place you could ever imagine. Our brains can’t even imagine it. It is so much better than anything you could buy here on Earth. Do not let the shiny things of this world distract you.

Few people will make it to heaven.  I want it to be me and you and everyone we love.  I want it to be everyone in the whole world but the only way that’s going to happen is if we’re walking with our Lord, every day. Let us turn our eyes toward Christ, surrender our whole life to him, pray to him and ask him what he wants us to be doing.  Make sure you are one of the few.

If you want to meet me in person, I’ll be at the Catholic Women Rejoice conference on August 20th.  I’ll be at the Set The World on Fire conference in Altadena, CA on September 24th.

And I’m so excited that my book Catholic Mom Challenge will be out on September 18th.  Look for more details about that in the coming weeks!

Thank you for all your support!  Coffee & Pearls has a five star rating on iTunes!  I really appreciate all you ladies who took the time to comment there, it means so much to me.