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!

From Hard to Full

From Hard to Full

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If you’ve been following Coffee & Pearls for the last two years, you know I’ve had a crazy life. Between buying a fence company, having a new baby, writing three books, and homeschooling… my life has been busy!

The other day, my husband came home and asked me how my day was. I took a big sigh and said, “It was so hard!” He paused for a moment and gently said, “You know, you say that almost every single day.”

I considered that for a moment. Do I really say that every day is hard? And I had to admit that yes, yes I do say that. It’s really easy for me to toss that word around.

Church was hard.

Dinner was hard.

Taking the kids to the park was hard.

My day was hard.

And yet when I stepped back and thought about the week as a whole, I thought, “We had a fine week!” I thought of the positive things that I remembered. So why was it hard for me to see this on a day-to-day basis?

It’s easy for us to be slaves to our feelings. I feel tired, irritated, thwarted, touched out, not enough, overwhelmed, etc. We allow ourselves to dwell in these feelings without stepping back to question them.

So when my husband comes home from work and asks how my day was, I feel flooded by these difficult feelings and I tell him the day was long and hard.

Ever since he pointed that out to me, I’ve been challenging myself to strike that word from my vocabulary. I’m trying to use different words to describe what motherhood is like all day long. No word could adequately describe what I actually experience. I find that I experience the full range of my feelings every single day from joy to madness and everything in between.

Yet when I look back on my week, I am pleased with what I’ve done, I’m so happy to be the mother of my children, and I feel pretty good about my life in general.

The word that has resonated the most with me has been “full.” My day was full. My heart is full. My cup of coffee needs to be full!

Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.
Luke 9:32

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
John 1:14

Half an hour’s meditation is essential except when you are very busy. Then a full hour is needed.
St. Francis de Sales

Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received – only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage.
St. Francis of Assissi


My hope for you is that you too can turn hard days into full days. Love Jesus fully with your heart. Be present fully with your family. Allow yourself to be full of the Holy Spirit!

Thank you everyone who downloaded, purchased, reviewed, and read my new book Not Of This World. You all are amazing! All the audio files from my minimalism videos are available on the Catholic Minimalism podcast on iTunes! You can easily download it through the apple podcast app or you can go here to catch it:

Universal Mortification

Universal Mortification

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls:

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This post is a part of a Marian Virtue Series, running every Wednesday and Friday. It will conclude on the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary. If you are just joining the series now and want to learn more you can start here: Introduction to Marian Virtue Series.

Previous Blog Article: Constant Mental Prayer The Green Catholic Burrow 

Next Blog Article: Ardent Charity – A Beautiful, Camouflaged, Mess of A Life

This post features a giveaway from Trenzilly. Please keep reading to find out more!

When I first heard of the Marian Virtues series,  I knew I wanted to participate. I also knew I wanted to write about Universal Mortification because it was the virtue that made me the most uncomfortable. How better to grow with Mary than to work on my weakest Marian virtue? I did some digging to learn a little bit more about these two words. I had an idea of what they meant separately, but I wanted to know what they meant together.

I really liked this description of mortification from All to my All: “mortification is the ability to consistently bear the pain of right choice. Real mortification is not just the pain of our dying to this life of corruption in order to live again in the incorruptible truth of Jesus Christ, our Savior, our All.”

The virtue is more simply described by at Lifeteen as the following: Universal Mortification: Seeking to lay down her life and her will at every moment.

Women of the Word shares this quote from the New Catholic Encyclopedia Mortification is the deliberate restraint that one places on natural impulses in order to make them increasingly subject to sanctification through obedience to reason illumined by faith.”

When I took in these various definitions, they all pointed to sacrifice. Mary was willing at any time, in any place, to sacrifice anything for the Lord. That included her own desires, giving up the best of something and settling for the good, trusting Him blindly with no idea where He was leading her.

It’s not hard for me to see where I struggle with this. I want to be in control. I want things my way. I want to be comfortable and to avoid pain. I don’t want to wait on God’s timing and I often say that I trust the Lord with my words, but doubt Him in my heart when I cannot see the future clearly.

Perhaps because Mary was human, and because she is my mother, it is easier and more natural for me to come to her with these weaknesses rather than straight to Jesus. I fall to her feet begging for her guidance and her intercession.

“Teach me to be like you sweet mother.”

“Ask your son to forgive my weakness and my self-centeredness.”

“Help me to put Jesus and others above myself.” “Help me to choose eternity in Heaven over fleeting pleasures here on Earth.”

And most of all, “Help me to teach my children the virtue of universal mortification.”

Going back to the definition, “Seeking to lay down her life and her will at every moment,” I see how far I have to go to capture every moment for Christ as Mary did. But I also see great hope that I have room to improve. It is not discouraging to me that I will likely work on this for my entire life.

I think of climbing a tall ladder up to our Blessed Mother who waits for me in Heaven. Would we not gladly climb thousands of steps to reach her?

When I find myself struggling with pride and wanting to… well avoid mortification… I think of St. Faustina. She endured so much suffering as many of the nuns she lived with, not only didn’t believe she was experiencing visions, but would put her down right to her face telling her that she was lying for attention. How awful!

St. Faustina also mentions that there were times other nuns would think the worst of her, and instead of correcting them by giving a very reasonable explanation for what she was doing, she kept quiet and let them continue to think less of her. This sacrifice she made for the Lord and as always for sinners.

This is a relevant way that moms can offer up suffering to the Lord. How quickly we want to jump in and defend our choices and shine up our reputations. To instead allow ourselves to be thought of poorly and to not let it bother us, is an incredible sacrifice. Yet, I think this is worth trying because we will not only find freedom in letting these battles go but we can offer up our suffering for the salvation of sinners. When you think of it like that, who cares if some people have the wrong idea about you? Jesus knows the truth and who else really matters?

It is not surprising to me that most of my favorite saints had a great devotion to our Blessed Mother. Life is so challenging, I cannot imagine enduring such ups and downs without her to sweeten my trials. One of the best ways to grow in our faith is to meditate on the Marian Virtues while praying the rosary.

I wear a blue scapular for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception and I try to pray meditate on the Marian Virtues while praying the rosary every day.  If you have never tried this devotion, I highly recommend doing it one year for Lent or Advent! Give yourself to the Blessed Mother and she will pour herself into you. The more you embody these ten virtues, the more peace you will find in your life as you draw closer to her son, Jesus Christ!

Before we get to the AWESOME giveaway, I wanted to share that the Kindle version of my new book, Not Of This World: A Catholic Guide To Minimalism, is FREE until September 17th! Download a copy and please tell your friends, especially your parish mom’s group or any other Facebook groups you’re part of! Thanks so much!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

One lucky reader will win an Our Lady of Lourdes Soft Saint Doll from Trendzilly. Ann-Marie is a stay-at-home, homeschool mother of 4 boys. She started Trendzilly in late 2013 to generate additional income and inspire little ones in the faith by creating and selling handmade soft saint dolls along with many religious, holiday and party printables. Her dolls made of soft fleece are cut out by hand and have a sweet machine embroidered face. She puts great care into the quality of each doll and she gladly accepts custom orders.

Please support this amazing Catholic author and continue to join us in this Marian Virtue Series.  

Tough Love Saints

Tough Love Saints

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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NOTE: This is one of the rare blog posts where there is a lot more said in the podcast than you’ll read below!

I’ve been wanting to talk more about the idea that we must “be a scientist” when it comes to our own life. No one will be better at understanding you than… you.

Being a scientist means that we can objectively step back from our own situation to assess what’s going on. What’s working? What’s not working? What things can I control and what things can I not control? And perhaps most important, what is my desired outcome?

Now don’t get me wrong, if you’re happy, that’s awesome. If you are content in your situation, rock on. I’m talking to those of us who feel a sense of unrest. We want something to be different but we can’t seem to make it happen.

It is so easy for us to act like victims to all the things around us. I’m guilty of this all the time. I often act as if “I couldn’t possibly have done x, y, and z” because of the awful day I had. But the truth is, if it were the zombie apocalypse, I would do incredibly hard things for 12+ hours a day.

Humans are capable of amazing feats. Most of us are simply clinging to comfort and consumerism which gets in the way of achieving our potential.

There are many different aspects of our lives that we want to change. I want to first focus on growing in our faith life because really, this should always be the first thing we focus on but I also believe that by diving deeper into our faith life, we can gain clarity on prioritizing the rest of our lives and the strength to really make lasting changes.

I’m going to use some quotes from saints to help deliver some tough love about how important it is to be honest with ourselves, to work hard, and to have a deep faith life.

This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections. -St. Augustine

To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often. -Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman

Let us begin in earnest to work out our salvation, for no one will do it for us, since even He Himself, Who made us without ourselves, will not save us without ourselves. -St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

You must ask God to give you power to fight against the sin of pride which is your greatest enemy – the root of all that is evil, and the failure of all that is good. For God resists the proud. -St. Vincent de Paul

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

I hope you’re feeling fired up! Now I want you to make some time this week to sit down and ask yourself, what is holding you back from living a more faithful life? How can you be a better Catholic?

After you go through this exercise, you might want to tackle another area of your life. Why are you not losing weight? Why are you stressed all the time? Why is your marriage uncomfortable? Why do you feel like a bad mom?

It’s so easy for us to see patterns and weaknesses in our friends. Your job is to step back from your own life and assess what’s really going on. No excuses. What are you capable of?

In the end, you may decide you aren’t willing to take on the pain and discomfort to change. That’s okay! But hopefully identifying that and saying it out loud will give you more peace about your current situation.

If you’re feeling brave, pop on over to Facebook and share your experience! If you just want some love and support, feel free to email me. It’s my full name at!

Winging It Homemaking

Winging It Homemaking

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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Let’s talk house cleaning! Looking back through my posts, I see that I don’t write about homemaking that often. In the Catholic Mom Challenge, we talk about the importance of being a homemaker. It’s a lost art really. Most of us have no idea how to be homemakers. I know I certainly didn’t when I got married.

It’s important to create a peaceful environment at home. You want your house to be a sanctuary for your family so they can leave the broken and chaotic world and feel safe at home. That doesn’t you have a house that looks like a Pottery Barn catalog or a home where everything is always put away. After all, we live here and I have four kids now!

When I first became a stay-at-home mom, I found myself swinging from trying to implement an ultra complex cleaning system to staring at my clutter while sitting in the living room. Neither of these worked and I was driving myself crazy. As I look back, I’m not sure my kids or my husband really noticed or cared.

You have to be honest with yourself, what is truly important to you and what kind of environment does your family need?

Lately, I don’t find that much stress about keeping my home tidy and I was trying to figure out why since it used to cause me great anxiety. Here’s what I think the difference is:

  1. Paralysis Analysis – I used to want the perfect system. I wanted something comprehensive so I could see the whole picture and then tackle tasks systematically. But I would spend so much time thinking about a system, reading about systems, or writing a system down that I would burn myself out before cleaning anything!

    Now I have no system. The only tenants I try to follow are laundry M/W/F and I do it completely from wash to put away, and clean bathrooms on Thursday or Friday. Pretty weak system but hey, I do it!
  2. Just Do It – The big difference between have one or two children and having four is that you don’t have a lot of time to sit around thinking about what needs to get done, you just do it. I have two rounds of cleaning per day, one before naps and one before or after dinner depending on our evening activities.

    The kids know this and my husband knows this. Whoever is home, pauses what they’re doing and we all clean for maybe 15-30 minutes. It really isn’t long at all and you can get a lot done in that time. We usually do laundry, dishes, tidying up rooms, sweeping or bathrooms.

    I simply ask myself, “What needs to be done right now?” I do that thing and then I ask myself again.

    On Saturdays we spend 1-2 hours doing bigger cleaning projects like mopping all the floors, backyard stuff, or special projects.
  3. It’s Mostly About You – This may be different in different homes but I have found that I care the most about how the house looks. My husband wants a clean area to make breakfast in the morning clean clothes… that’s it! All the rest of it, the standards for what means the house is clean, is all in my own head. This picture also changes whether I’m having friends over or hosting an event.

    No matter what’s going on though, I’ve realized there is no “right” way to live. Once I accepted that, I started to notice what made me happier at home. I found that I didn’t care much about sweeping or vacuuming but I do really value clear surfaces. I don’t like clutter.

    Now I focus on tidying more than deep cleaning. It takes less time and I’m happier at home. I’m pleased when I look around and things are put in their place. I don’t mind whatever is on the floor!

    Have a conversation with your family about what’s important to them, I mean really important. Try to tackle these things daily or every few days. Leave the rest on a weekly or bi-weekly rotation.
  4. Less Is More – My new book about minimalism is coming out soon and it’s all about how much more peace we have when we own less stuff. The more I purge from my home, the easier it is for me and the kids to take care of our spaces. We’re all a lot more calm too. Just looking at less stuff makes you happier.

    Simply owning less is a large key to successful homemaking. Chances are, you don’t need or use at least 20% or your stuff. And while I love a good “whole house purge,” I rarely have time for that. Instead, I purge a little bit every week. I look around and constantly ask myself, how can I simplify this space and what can I get rid of?

    This way it’s never very overwhelming or emotional. These baby steps feel way more manageable.

I know there are lots of books, websites, and programs out there that outline home cleaning systems. That may be exactly what you need. But I want to challenge you. Perhaps what you need is to just schedule quick blocks of cleaning and time and just get to it. I bet you know what needs to be done and you can knock out a great deal in 30 minutes twice per day.

Pop over to my Facebook page and share your home cleaning successes and challenges!

The Big, Bed Rest, Book Review and Giveaway – Part Two

The Big, Bed Rest, Book Review and Giveaway – Part Two

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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The last post focused on the books: The Marian Option, The Rosary, and Lift Up Your Heart. This post features three books that are all focused on prayer.

Why do I read so many books on prayer? Don’t they seem repetitive? Well, it’s because I have a short attention span. I am easily distracted by shiny things and not only do I forget to focus on prayer but even when I do, I often find myself at a loss for what to pray.

This is why I am constantly reading books to prop me back up and to give me specific ways to pray. These three books had some truly wonderful ideas that I hope I can hold onto for many years!

First up, St. Faustina Prayer Book for the Conversion of Sinners by Susan Tassone. This is a small book that you could easily keep with you in your purse. It starts by explaining what conversion is in the first place. Then Tassone shares St. Faustina’s take on conversion and why we need to be praying for sinners and the Holy souls in Purgatory.

The rest of the book has lots and lots of prayers you can say! I like books with this feature because I can pick them up, find a prayer that speaks to my current situation so I don’t have to struggle to find my own words. There are many saints featured who had great conversions themselves and specific prayers we can say to ask for their intercession.

I’m going to put a few quotes together to give you a sense of my biggest takeaway from the book.

“Conversion requires prayer… and prayer requires conversion. It’s a daily process. There is no magical formula but there is a mystical one: we can seek the grace of conversion through prayer — and, through prayer, we can better and better live that grace. A deeper conversion often means more time. More effort. It calls for an increasing surrender to God and an abandonment of selfishness.”

The author talks about how we are all called to sainthood, which is a topic especially close to my heart. I thought this book would motivate me to pray for the conversion of all the non-believers in my life but it more strongly encouraged me to work on my own deeper conversion.

I often give books I’ve read away to share them with others but this is one I will keep for my own library so I can reference it often. It’s a great size to bring with me to Adoration and after reading St. Faustina’s diary, I know I will always have a strong devotion to her.

You can order this book on Amazon here.

You can read my full review of the book at

To win a copy of this book, head over to my Facebook page. Make sure to like my page and comment on the giveaway post!

Next up, Praying The Angelus by Jared Dees. I have heard of the Angelus before but never prayed it and it certainly has not been a daily devotion of mine. When I stumbled upon a copy of the Praying The Angelus painting in a thrift store for $4, I bought it and felt called to learn more about this devotion. It was timely then that Jared Dees’ book came out to tell me all about this prayer.

This is also a smaller book and I kind of like this trend of smaller books that are easier to cart around. This author is extremely sincere both about the history of the Angelus devotion and also his own practice of it. He talks about his struggles and how often he prays the Angelus with no “seen” benefits from it.

I think this is important because we tend to view prayer as quid-pro-quo situation expecting to have miraculous things occur after we’ve been faithful for two whole weeks. While God certainly does perform miracles, it’s not what we should expect. We should not set down devotions if we don’t feel or see the proof that they’re “working.”

This, I believe, should be the biggest takeaway from this book. Here are some quotes that sum up this idea.

“The consistent practice of any Catholic devotion takes a lot of effort. Many (perhaps most) people who take up these practices soon find disappointment and boredom in them. Feeling of peace, mercy, love, and certainty can often be present in daily prayer, but they are never automatic and often inconsistent. It took me months of daily practice to begin realizing how GOd was at work in my mind and heart.”

Whether we’re talking about the Angelus or any other devotion, we must remember that we take up these practices out of devotion. I talked about this concept in Season 2 Episode 17 of Coffee and Pearls.

You have the time to take up a Catholic devotion and to obediently carry it out. Choose one. It doesn’t matter which one. Choose it and build up your self-discipline muscle in your faith life because you love God above all else.

You can order this book on Amazon here.

To win a copy of this book, head over to my Facebook page. Make sure to like my page and comment on the giveaway post!

Last book! Praying The Rosary Like Never Before by Edward Sri. Ladies, the guy is a fantastic writer. He makes things clear, interesting, and compelling. I actually had to tell myself to slow down while reading it so I could soak it all up. I definitely think this is a book I will reread.

My favorite part of this book was when the author spent several pages on each mystery making references to the bible and providing ideas and prayers that one could meditate on for each decade. Each section provided so much more depth than I had ever given to the mysteries, which seems silly as I type that out because they are… mysteries.

The book also features many reasons that stand in the way of our saying the rosary. I think it’s important that we acknowledge these and say them out loud. The only way to conquer these distractions and excuses is to bring them into the light. I felt encouraged and hopeful that I could slay some of my own anti-rosary dragons!

The most important take-away point of the book, in my opinion, is that Jesus is at the center of the rosary. This was such a simple and profound concept and yet I had never heard it before.

“After [the] opening lines, we come to the climax of the Hail Mary: ‘And blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.’ John Paul II says that Jesus’ holy name not only serves as the hinge joining the two parts of the Hail Mary but also is this prayer’s very ‘center of gravity’ (RVM, 33). Indeed, the Hail Mary is meant to lead us to the person of Jesus, and at the center of this prayer, we speak his sacred name.”

Ever since I read that, I now pause, just a little, when I say the name of Jesus. I think of him as the center, pulling together all the beautiful words of the rosary with his love. It has made me feel so much more peaceful praying the rosary knowing that Jesus is there. I don’t mind that the rosary is largely about Mary and it makes me feel closer to her when I pray it but now instead of thinking that the rosary is Mary’s way of pointing to Jesus, I picture them both present in the prayer calling me to deepen my faith.

Edward Sri is a pleasure to read and I’m looking forward to reading some more of his books. It has a nice modern cover and would make a good present for a rosary lover in your life!

You can order this book on Amazon here.

To win a copy of this book, head over to my Facebook page. Make sure to like my page and comment on the giveaway post!

The Big Bed Rest Book Review and Giveaway – Part One!

The Big Bed Rest Book Review and Giveaway – Part One!

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

It’s no secret this was the worst pregnancy for me. I threw up a ton in the first trimester, got wicked bronchitis in the second and then was on bed rest for the third. During all that time, I had the opportunity to read a lot of books so I wanted to give you my favorite lessons from each one.

Most of these books are filled with underlined sections of wisdom or quotes that really spoke to me. I certainly don’t have time to cover them all so I thought I would just pick out the one that might be most helpful to all of you!

First up, The Marian Option. This book is beautiful and I really enjoyed it. I appreciate that book acknowledged that we live in some rough and scary times right now. Sometimes I think I’m worrying about things that aren’t there but this book says yes, those scary things are happening but we don’t need to worry about them.

My favorite quote is actually from the very first chapter.

“A mass movement isn’t needed – only a very few who know the true source of strength, grace, and genius to transform the world.” This fills me with such hope!

The other quote that really struck me was from Archbishop Charles Chaput who says:

“If we want to reclaim who we are as a Church, if we want to renew the Catholic imagination, we need to  begin, in ourselves and in our local parishes, by unplugging our hearts from the assumptions of a culture that still seems familiar but is no longer really ours. The problem is that many U.S. Catholics have abandoned this “spiritual struggle’ and have assimilated too much into the popular culture ‘that bleaches out strong religious convictions in the name of liberal tolerance and dulls our longings for the supernatural with a river of practical atheism in the form of consumer goods.”

We are it ladies. We are the ones who will turn things around. And we will do that by getting to know Mary. This is a great book to really understand who she is, especially as the spouse of the Holy Spirit but there are many books. And for those of you who think you don’t have time to read, pray your rosary. We always meet Mary there.

You can order the book on Amazon here.

You can also read my full review of the book at

To win a copy of this book, head over to my Facebook page. Make sure to like my page and comment on the giveaway post!

Next up, Lift Up Your Heart: A 10-Day Personal Retreat with St. Francis De Sales by Fr. John Burns. If I could have a crush on a book, this would be it!

This is basically a modern version of St. Francis de Sales classic Introduction to the Devout Life. I haven’t read that book but after reading this one, I’m certainly interested to try it!

This book is great for busy moms because you can make a deeply impactful retreat from home in just 10 days! I think that’s really tailor made for us. Each of the ten days focuses on a theme: God’s benefactions, sin, death, judgement, hell, paradise, election and choice of Heaven and finally election and choice the soul makes of a devout life.

There were so many beautiful and poignant ideas in this book so it was really a struggle to pick my favorite but I picked this one because I think if we can really internalize this one idea, it will drive all our other decisions.

We are looking for hope. We have a deep longing for eternity in the Lord and yet our worldly selves really can’t comprehend that. As Fr. John says, “We cannot get our minds around the concept of unending joy because, in putting together the perfect day with the greatest joy [something Fr. John asks us to imagine], our human experience tells us something very real: it will end. We cannot imagine what it would be like to exist in surpassing joy and to do so without end.”

He goes on to say, “Heaven cannot be a distant choice or a far-off idea. It must be an ultimate goal that is on our minds constantly.”

If we can meditate more on the reality of Heaven, no matter how hard it is to understand, I believe it will greatly affect our decisions in the present. This is something I’m terrible at but I know that if I were to conquer this in myself, it would bring me so much peace.

You can order this book on Amazon here.

You can read my full review of this book at

Last up for this episode, The Rosary: Your Weapon for Spiritual Warfare by Johnnette Benkovic. This book goes well with The Marian Option. Though they tell some of the same stories about Mary, I personally feel as if we can never read enough about the miracles that Mary has performed all over the world. This book gives us a real practical way to pray our rosary more deeply. I’ve struggled with knowing how to do that and I was impressed with some of the ideas this book laid out.

I think the cover of this book was designed to appeal to men and the theme calling out weapons and warfare might make women pass up this book at the store. But that would be a mistake. Spiritual warfare is not just for Catholic men! There is a fantastic section of the book called Your Special Forces Team: Valiant Women of the Kingdom. What a chapter title!

One of my favorite aspects of Catholicism is how often women are used to do great deeds for the faith. The stories of women who with devout devotions to the rosary accomplish some amazing things. This is definitely a section I think young women should read!

I don’t have a particular quote that sums up my biggest takeaway from this book. When I read the last page, this book challenge me to become a prayer warrior. If I, who consider myself a deeply devout Catholic, am not battle the darkness of the world through prayer, who else is going to do it? If I am reading books and recording podcasts but I am not taking up the sword of prayer, it is not enough.

I want to join the ranks of Valiant Women of the Kingdom and I cannot do that by worrying over shallow first world problems that are largely rooted in consumerism and the desire for comfort. I hope this book inspires others to feel the same and to take up this calling!

To win a copy of this book, head over to my Facebook page. Make sure to like my page and comment on the giveaway post!

Every Catholic Needs A Devotion

Every Catholic Needs A Devotion

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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One aspect of Catholicism that I’m particularly drawn to is the many beautiful devotions that you can take up. You can pray your rosary every day. You can say the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3 p.m. You can pray the Angelus at 6 a.m., noon, and 6 p.m. You can participate in First Saturdays. You can pray the Pieta prayers for 365 days.

As I’ve come to test drive some of these devotions, I have realized something. It doesn’t matter which devotion you choose, but you ought to choose one. By choosing a devotion and sticking to it for a predetermined amount of time, you are training yourself to be obedient to the Lord. You are flexing your discipline muscles.

When it comes time for you to pray, you can either let your worldly distractions get in the way, or you can drop what you’re doing and be obedient. Now this may sound difficult to do and it is, especially if you have little kids or are working in an office setting. It can be easy to put things off and then suddenly realize as you’re dozing off, that you forgot your devotion entirely. This is precisely why we must choose to be devoted to something.

It is good for our soul to pause, at least one time per day, and give ourselves to the Lord. We commit something to him and then we are faithful in carrying out our commitment. Not only does this please God but it will also add to your own self-esteem. The more you able to master yourself in the humble practice of whichever devotion you choose, the more you will feel the good kind of pride in knowing you put the Lord first.

Thankfully, the Catholic Church has provided so many different devotions to choose from that you can find one to fit your current lifestyle. In my opinion, the easiest is probably the Divine Mercy chaplet which takes about 7 minutes. Ideally, you would say this during the 3 p.m. hour but even if you just manage to say it daily at a time that works for you, this devotion is pretty easy to squeeze into your routine.

I have been really wanting to try out the Angelus prayer but as I’m currently waking up at unpredictable hours with a newborn, I know now isn’t the right time to tackle that particular one. This brings me to my second point, you don’t need to stick with the same devotion for a lifetime!

Sometimes I try one out for a month. Sometimes I try one out for the seasons of Advent or Lent. We don’t need to claim a devotion forever although you may find one that really speaks to your soul and continue it for a long time.

After you have mastered one, you may choose to add another. For example, I love saying my rosary so I often choose another devotion on top of that one to try. Fair warning, I do not suggest you try more than one new one at a time and if doing two gets overwhelming to the point where you’re doing neither, it’s time to simply pick one.

God wants our faith. He wants our attention. He wants to know He’s the most important thing in our life. Choosing and carrying out a Catholic devotion is a wonderful way to show Him how you feel.

Here are some great devotions to try out:

  1. Daily rosary
  2. Daily Divine Mercy Chaplet
  3. Five First Saturdays Devotion
  4. Marian Consecration (this one is for life so I would take a long time before committing to this)
  5. Wearing a scapular and praying the related prayers daily
  6. Liturgy of the Hours
  7. Pieta Prayers (these should be said daily for one year)

Here is a long list of Catholic devotions at My Catholic Source 

I promise you that being faithful to a devotion will change your life. It may not change it in the way you expect but it will definitely help you grow closer to God.

What devotion do you practice or have you practiced in the past? Is there one you’ve been thinking of trying out?

Why I Despise NFP But Do It Anyway

Why I Despise NFP But Do It Anyway

DISCLAIMER: If you struggle with infertility and don’t want to read about someone who gets pregnant all the time, this isn’t the article for you. If you believe that women are called to have as many children as they can regardless of their physical and mental health, I disagree and this article is not for you. If you are engaged or newlywed and you don’t want to hear the dark side of NFP (which I totally understand) this article may not be for you right now. If you have a medical reason not to practice NFP, this article is not for you.

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

It’s national Natural Family Planning awareness week so you will see many great articles bouncing around the internet about the benefits of NFP. I’m glad for these articles and the stories of all the couples who have been helped by this type of planning. This will not be a cheery article but I hope the ending will give you a stronger conviction in your faith.

Personally, I am mostly filled with bitterness and anger about NFP. And no, not the righteous kind that’s noble but the sinful kind that I have to confess. All the books I’ve read about NFP have made me feel small, stupid, and selfish because I simply have not experienced all the grace and loveliness they have touted.

Please, tell me one more time couples who practice NFP hardly ever get divorced! Of course not! Because it’s mostly uber devout Catholics who practice NFP and even they are a minority in our faith community. Those type of people would not get divorced anyway, it’s not BECAUSE of NFP. It’s because they are faithful.

I was pregnant 7 times before we reached our 7th wedding anniversary. Not only has that been emotionally heartbreaking (the miscarriages) but also super unhealthy for my body. If you never get a chance to recover from pregnancy, you end up tacking on more problems for the next one.

Another benefit of NFP that I haven’t received is greater intimacy in my marriage. When you are super fertile, no matter which form of NFP you decide to practice, you are required to abstain… a lot. Now it’s fair to say if I had a stronger marriage, this might not be as hard. I can’t really say. But having grown up in the hook-up culture, with divorced parents and only becoming Catholic at 25, my husband and I were properly educated about how to live out our call to holiness through constant abstaining.

Our sex life has always been sort of mediocre… again I blame porn and all the television/magazine lies I was fed from the age of 13 causing great confusion about what healthy and loving sex should look like. And don’t get me wrong, we know how to orgasm within the rules of the Catholic Church. I just don’t know how to feel loved through sex. If you don’t feel loved through sex, expecting a deeper intimacy by not having sex is really difficult to attain.

We’ve basically been pregnant since our honeymoon. It took us three pregnancies to figure out that the sympto-thermal method doesn’t work well for people who have insomnia. It’s hard to get your basal temperature so it messes up your chart.

We finally embraced Creighton, which has been really wonderful and effective for us. We successfully planned one pregnancy and then the other two, though they were in very low in probability and we were still hoping to avoid pregnancy, were not a surprise. We knew we were rolling the dice and we accepted ahead of time that we might get pregnant. And that’s the thing, I always do if there’s a chance.

I have horrible pregnancies and traumatic labors. Though I would gladly raise a huge family with love and faith, I really don’t want to be pregnant ever again. Those are often scandalous words to speak out loud if you’re Catholic. But it’s okay to have our opinions and to express our wishes. In the end, all that matters is that we are open to God’s will.

There is only one reason I practice NFP despite all the struggles and heartache that has come with it for my family… because I am Catholic. When I converted from Protestantism to Catholicism it was largely because I was drawn to the idea that the Catholic Church never changes, it never contradicts itself and it is always true. I have a great conviction about this and it gives me confidence about my faith, especially when I’m sharing it with other people.

I could hardly sit down in front of someone and tell them that the Catholic Church is unwaveringly true… except for this one tenant that I think they got wrong that I really don’t feel like practicing. It’s an all or nothing deal.

God calls us to suffering and that’s what NFP has been for me. I imagine it’s His way of saying, “Really Sterling, do you trust me? Will you still love me now?” And though my selfish heart wants to say, “No Lord, how could you do this to me again? Why won’t you give me a way out?” I confess my lack of trust and I keep being obedient.

God asks obedience of us. We don’t like that word and we don’t like being told what to do. But we cannot be cafeteria Catholics and still be confident Catholics. We don’t get to pick what we want and no other aspect of the Catholic Church is so ignored. Even people who don’t like going to confession will still acknowledge its importance. And yet when it comes to NFP, the vast majority sweep it under the rug and say, “Nope, that’s not for me.”

This is one of the reasons it’s so hard to practice. We’re in the minority. And not only am in the minority of Catholics who practice NFP, I have found that a great number of people who practice it actually struggle with infertility or genuinely want to have 12+ children. So I feel like my brand of super fertility mixed with not wanting my body to keep going through this, is a very small percentage of our faith community.

There is also almost no support for couples, especially men. Where does my husband go when he’s feeling frustrated and doesn’t know how to connect with his wife during long stints of abstinence? Where can he go to be consoled by other men who are going through the same thing? Even priests often don’t have much to say when we admit we’re drowning and we don’t know what to do.

I hope we change this soon. I see many movements trying to including this great week about NFP awareness. I am happy that everyone is sharing their stories both good and bad.

In the end, I am Catholic and that is why I practice NFP. I will continue to do this because God and the Catholic Church have asked me to. I don’t like it, I struggle with it, it’s painful, and I really don’t get it but it doesn’t matter. I don’t truly understand how glorious the Mass really is either and yet I have faith that it is and I obediently go every week.

I love God with all my heart and I can’t wait for Him to tell me what this whole NFP thing was supposed to look like when I get to Heaven. I’m sure it will be beautiful and then I will understand. In the meantime, I will obey and be faithful.

P.S. If you haven’t read Simcha’s book The Sinners Guide To Natural Family Planning, it’s great and did give me some consolation.

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