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!

Episode 31: Time To Get Uncomfortable

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In these last few months, when I’ve had to work harder than perhaps I’ve ever had to work in my entire life, I have come to a new understanding of what it means to seek comfort. Before this, I sitting down in a chair and drinking coffee and reading a book was my natural state. If I didn’t need to be doing anything else, this is what I wanted to be doing.  I enjoy sitting and doing nothing.

Maybe I’m part of the entitled generation, which also usually means the lazy generation. I have never been particularly into sports or exercise. I do like getting things done but I tend to have a burst of energy to be productive in an attempt to finish and get back to sitting in my chair, drinking my coffee, and reading a book. I used to view work as a means of getting to my next moment of comfort.

I would view work as a necessary activity whether I said it out loud or only in my heart, I would do it a bit begrudgingly.  It’s true, I consider myself a lazy person. I really just don’t like doing anything at all except sitting in a chair and reading or chatting with some friends or watching my children play. I could do that all day long, much to the dismay of my incredibly active, A-type personality husband.

Two things have happened in the last few months that have really shifted my attitude toward comfort. First, I started working so hard that I started to view my house chores as restful.  And second, I read some intense books about the saints that made me realize how much of a baby I was being.

When you begin to do physical labor or when you begin to work 10 to 12 hours a day, you start to view activities that you previously thought were boring as restful.

My job sometimes has me drive 4 hours away from my home to do a fence bid and then turn around and drive back. On those days, I consider it a break to get to do the dishes or mop the floors. There is a peace in those activities.  They are the very same activities that 6 months ago I would grumble about doing.


I would also insist on making sure my husband knew that I did them so he could see what a great homemaker I was, or at least how much I was sacrificing to stay at home. Now we are both working so hard that neither of us takes the time to point out all the great things we did that day.  We’re both just trying to survive.  We pat each other on the back and we try to support each other as teammates trying to finish a marathon that we see no end to.

Whether you’re a working mom out of choice or because you have to be… and whether you’re a stay-at-home mom who is deep in the trenches of toddlerland or driving all over living in teenville, our jobs can be tough.  It’s easy to allow the drudgery of our jobs to steal our joy.  Instead of seeing blessings, we’re just trying to push through to the next moment of comfort that we can find.

Maybe we’re thinking of a new house or a vacation or a bubble bath at the end of the day.  There are many ways we allow our restlessness and our aim for comfort to take up hours of our daydreaming time.  And while rest and planning is by no means a bad thing, perhaps you are focusing too much on comfort and not seeing the rest in the work you’re already doing.  I know that’s what was happening to me.

I think it’s important that we try to get perspective so we can appreciate more of what we have. This is difficult to do by yourself. That’s why I recommend reading books about the Saints or about struggles in third world countries so that you beginning to understand that here in America, one of our greatest weaknesses is that we are continually seeking out comfort. We want to be comfortable and that is our aim.

When you read books about the 1800’s or the Great Depression or either of the World Wars, it can quickly show you how truly blessed and comfortable our lives already are.  Instead of grumbling about having to go outside and pull my own weeds (oh how quickly I forget that I grew up in an apartment where I owned no land, including the weed), I should find joy in taking care of the things God gave me.

I’m a melancholic person by nature so keeping a cheery attitude takes a lot of effort and that’s why I need guideposts along the way.  Praying the rosary is one of my guideposts.  It’s hard not to feel grateful after meditating on the sorrowful mysteries.  I also go out of my way to read books that make me feel uncomfortable.  When you read through the horror that John Paul II lived through before he was even 30, you’ll think twice about letting bitterness take root in your heart over the laundry.

I know you can’t all go out and start working 12 hours a day doing physical labor to help improve your perspective of your life or reframe your view of comfort.  Instead, I would recommend reading one of the five books below.  Get out of your own head and into someone else’s shoes.  I think it will help you appreciate both the ups and the downs that you’re currently facing.

Dark Night of the Soul

Interior Castle

Saint John Paul the Great: His Five Loves

Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust

Padre Pio: The True Story

I hope one of these reaches out and grabs you.  I hope you can come to appreciate the beauty of your own life.  I hope God can shape your soul through the circumstances of your time here on Earth so that you choose to spend eternity in Heaven with him.  We’re striving for sainthood and the longer I live, the more I think we’re not doing enough.  That is not a reason to despair but rather to be joyous that there is so much room to grow!

Come see me at the Catholic Women Rejoice conference on August 20th or the Set The World On Fire conference on September 24th!

Episode 30: Back From The Dread

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I’m back!  Sorry for falling off the face of the internet there.  I’ll explain in a little bit.  Today I’m going to be talking about how to get up and dust yourself off when you’ve crashed and burned and how to get back to a simpler life when you’ve let the outside world command too much of your time.  Then I’ll be announcing the upcoming dates of my new book launch and my 8 week online program Catholic Mom Challenge!

My business got a little crazy there folks.  We ran out of posts, which is 50% of our business.  Our supplier just didn’t ship them for four weeks.  It was one of the most stressful things I’ve ever gone through.  I was working all day, every day.  My phone was ringing 30 times per day so I was constantly being interrupted.  I stopped blogging and podcasting.  I gained 15 pounds in three months when I had expressly decided that I was going to lose 15 pounds in those same three months.  

I was falling deeper and deeper into anxiety/depression land.  I felt like I was letting everyone around me down, especially myself.  I felt like I had compromised all the things that were important to my like my health, my homeschooling, my parenting and even in some ways my marriage as my whole life got swallowed up by this business that I didn’t even really want.

It’s a very long story and one that I detail more in my book.  Don’t worry, the ending is happy and bright and as always, God is good.  Most importantly, I came out of it having learned some great lessons about how to REALLY trust in God when you’re in the middle of a storm and how, in the end, we really don’t have control over our own lives.  

I feel like it was a reforming that God needed to do with my heart and my faith and I came out the other end stronger and yet softer at the same time.  I wanted to share a few of the lessons I learned but I’ll be sharing many

Five Ways To Get Back Up And Simplify Your Life

  1. Go To Confession  
    I know, I know, I talk about confession all the time but there’s a good reason for that.  If you’re steeped in darkness and you’re feeling awful about yourself, this is the best way to become white again.  Go to confession and confess all your failures.  Talk about all the balls you dropped, all the people you let down (including yourself) and all the yucky feelings you have.

    Does being over committed and letting people down count as a sin?  Honestly, I don’t know.  I doubt that it does but hating yourself and wallowing in anxiety and sadness is not living a life with Christ.  It shows a lack of trust in Him and probably a poor prayer life.  Regardless, I think saying all your yuckiness out loud and asking a priest to forgive you, might just be what you need to forgive yourself.

    Come out of that box feeling clean, washed and covered in white light.  Let it be a new beginning.  Go and sin no more.  You’ve drawn a line in the sand and walked over it.  It’s time to move on and make better choices.

  2. Get Out Your Red Pen
    If you don’t have some red pens in your house, go get them.  I adore red pens.  They make me feel powerful.  They have finality to them that gives me courage.  I happen to really enjoy these ones. Make a quick list of all your responsibilities and then try to get rid of ⅓ of your list.  Be honest with yourself, do your kids really need to go to camp?  Do you really need to make dinner from scratch every night or could you batch cook some things?  

    Are you really growing and moving more toward sainthood with the activities you’ve signed up for? What things are you doing because your pride is on the line?  

    Let’s be honest, we get confused sometimes.  We think we know what we’re doing and that we’re in control and then all of a sudden we’re running around like crazy ladies and we’ve let the things that really matter, the important things that quietly sit in the background, to get pummeled by the loud, urgent things of the world. We thought we were being nice and making good choices but in the end, we were sacrificing things that mattered.

    Get out that red pen and cross some things off.  Make some phone calls and give out some apologies.  It’s time for you to focus on your relationship with God and your family.  Everything else can wait.  I mean it.  Living a high stress, high anxiety life is not sustainable and it’s not what God wants for you.
  3. Don’t Be A Cow
    Did you know the word ruminate comes from cows?  Yeah, when cows eat their food, they chomp down on some tasty, tasty grass, swallow it and then later, they throw it up, chew on it some more and swallow it again.  They have four stomachs so they can keep throwing up and chewing on grass.  Gross.  This process is called ruminating and it’s what you’re doing by chewing on your negative thoughts and churning over all the possible scenarios of your future in your mind.

    Another way to say ruminate is to “chew the cud.”  I caught myself doing this all the time in these last few months.  The more my life was up in the air, the more mental calories I was spending thinking and worrying about all the possible outcomes of my future.  I was stressing over things that literally hadn’t even happened yet.  And doing this, drains us of our willpower, depletes our energy and draws us away from God.

    I finally said, enough is enough! Instead of worrying and being convinced I could come up with just the magic combination of puzzle pieces to bring peace to my life, I just gave up and gave it all to Jesus.  

    Lay your worries at the foot of the cross.  Tell him you’re worried but you trust him and you want nothing more than his will to be done.  Then let it go.
  4. Don’t Lie To Yourself – Are You Really Praying Enough?
    When I need Jesus the most tends to also be the time I’m with him the least.  It’s like I’m so busy and crazy and worried that I forget to talk to him.  Instead of spending real, uninterrupted time with him, I send up urgent PLEASE HELP ME LORDs and then I go about the hustle and bustle of my life.  Inevitably I find myself without peace and wondering why my life is out of control.  

    The answer is always, and I mean always, that I’m not praying enough.  I’m not carving out protected time for Jesus.  I’m not making him a priority.  I’m not giving him focused prayers that are filled with love.  It’s okay to make exacerbated please to our Lord but if we don’t take the time to praise him too, we start to feel the imbalance of our relationship.  Whether we realize it on a conscious level or not, we know we’re acting selfish and treating God like a vending machine.  

    True love is about sacrifice.  True love is about service.  We must love him with our hearts and our time instead of giving him the paltry leftovers.  We must praise him in the morning that we are alive.  We must praise him in the afternoon no matter what naptime craziness has happened.  And we must praise him the evening for taking us through the day.

    Just like in marriage, I find that when I feel the most unloved and unsatisfied, it’s usually because I’m being too self-centered and I’m not loving the lord or my husband with my time and my actions.
  5. Finds Real Ways To Recharge (Not the fake ones)
    I’m the queen at picking bad things to do in my downtime.  I know that social media, checking my phone, watching netflix and playing fast games jacks me up.  All those things feel good because release dopamines in your system.  It’s like getting a little fix every time you do it.  Your body craves these little pings and so you think about them, you’re excited about them, you know they’re going to feel good.

    But guess what, it doesn’t help you relax.  None of those activities helps your brain recover.  None of those activities helps you recharge.  That’s why you can spend naptime Facebooking and watching Netflix and then when you’re done, you don’t feel rested at all.  Your eyes will feel a little sore, you’re more grumpy and you don’t feel ready to tackle the afternoon witching hour with your children.

    Real ways to relax include reading, spending time outside, light exercise, stretching, praying, breathing deeply and doing something that relaxes you.  Some people find knitting or gardening relaxing.  Some people enjoy coloring or cooking.  I happen to actually find laundry quiet and soothing.  You know what helps put you in that quiet place where it’s like ocean waves are lapping in the background.  Do those things and not the fake things I listed above.  It will make a huge difference in your ability to recharge and have energy later in the day.

I hope some or all of those points are helpful to you.  If you have any questions or if you want to share your own personal story with me, shoot me and email and I’m happy to just listen, to pray for you or to give you advice if you have a specific question and if I feel I have a good answer.  

In other news, I’m so excited to finally announce the launch date for my new book!  Catholic Mom Challenge will be out September 18th.  That will also be the week my 8 week Catholic Mom Challenge online program starts.  More details to come about both.  In the meantime, please pray for me as I gear up for this big new chapter in my life.  

Stay tuned to help vote on the book cover design, to sign up for some fun giveaways I’m hosting and to attend a live webinar I’m giving to explain about the book and the online challenge program!

Lastly, I’m excited to announce that I’m going to be driving to Portland for the Catholic Women Rejoice conference.  I would love to meet you if you’re going so shoot me an email or ping me on Facebook and let’s plan to meet up!

Episode 29: Kettlebell Swings and Proverbs Pings

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I like 30-day challenges.  I like trying habits and routines on for size.  Sometimes life changes can feel overwhelming but when I think about doing something for just a month, it’s short enough I’m willing to give it a try.  The month of May is almost over and while June is peppered with graduations, Father’s Day, kids getting out of school and the start of summertime traveling and activities, I think it’s a great month to test out a new habit.

Since adopting a new habit takes a lot of energy, I’m only going to pick one brand new on that I haven’t tried.  I’m going to create a mini-fitness routine to do in the mornings.  It’s going to be easy, short and I’m going to do it every single day.

Mini Fitness Routine:

  • 60 seconds of planking
  • 30 squats
  • 30 kettlebell swings
  • 30 pushups
  • 60 seconds of planking

It’s all very straight forward.  It won’t take a lot of time.  It’s not even a full workout routine.  But lately, I’ve been doing nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  And I want to find some exercises that I can do every single day of the year.  I think this mini routine will be just right.

I’m going to do it in the morning before I go downstairs.  If my kids are up, I’ll do it in front of them.  I’m going to do it every single day for the month of June in hopes of turning it into one of my daily habits that I do for the whole year.

I’m also going to fill out a calendar on my wall and put huge X’s on each day after I’m done and each week I’ll take a picture and post it on Instagram.  Nothing like a little social pressure to keep you motivated, right?

Proverbs Pings

I’m going to add back in another habit that I’ve been floating in and out of doing and that is reading Proverbs every single day.  I read them often but usually when I’m having a bad day.  Instead, I want to be proactive.  I want to read Proverbs in the morning before the tone of my day has been set.  I want to soak up God’s wisdom in the morning and let His words guide me.

It’s all right there for you.  PING! Jesus wants to speak to you today and give you some great wisdom.  Let Him in.  Let Him guide you today.  If you would like to follow along with me and receive the Proverbs for the day in your email box with a short reflection from me, fill out the form at the end of this post!

If creating a mini fitness routine or reading the Proverbs every day isn’t what you need right now, I would encourage you to pick something else.  Find something that Jesus has put on your heart.  Pray about it and let Him guide you to one area of your life that you could work on this month.

Here are some idea for other 30 day challenges you can take:

  • Read to your kids for 30 minutes every day
  • Find one thing in your house to get rid of every day
  • Write a letter every day to someone in your life
  • Spend 20 minutes outside every day
  • Create a 30-day meal plan and stick to it!
  • Spend 15 minutes of kissing/snuggling time with your husband every day
  • Read the gospel for 15 minutes every day

I hope you do this with me.  I hope you pick something you want to try out for 30 days and you share your journey with me either in the comments below or by emailing me.

Changing and adding in small habits can make a huge impact on your life.  Pick something simple that you’ve never done or something you’ve done before that you know has a positive effect on your life.

I want to always be learning and always be growing.  I want to challenge myself not to accept the status quo and just because I’ve failed before, doesn’t mean I’m going to this time.

Ladies, have you told your husband about The Catholic Commute podcast yet?  You absolutely should!  They are all steeped in Catholic theology and each episode challenges men to step up in their faith and step up in taking care of their family. Each week features two related episodes. Here are the titles of the latest episodes:

  • 7 Steps to Improving Your Family Prayer Life
  • 6 Steps to Improving Your Prayer Life
  • Tips to Making Your Camping Trip Amazing
  • 7 Steps to Prepare for Camping Success
  • Outside Travel Basics
  • Go Outside
  • 6 Steps to Properly Use Alcohol
  • 5 Truths About Sex to Unlock Its Potential

ANNOUNCEMENT:  I’m going to be taking July and August off of Coffee & Pearls and then I will resume with Season Two starting in September!  In the meantime, I’ll be posting some book reviews, interviews, and worksheets that you all can do with me over the summer! I’ll be doing more Periscope videos so you can catch me there and now all of those episodes are being saved so you don’t have to worry about catching me live or within 24 hours!

Lastly, if you enjoy listening to the Coffee & Pearls podcast, I would greatly appreciate it if you’d take the time to write a review on iTunes.  You have to receive a certain number of reviews before they rate your podcast.  I’d love to be a five star rated Catholic podcast and so I’ll need your help to do that!  Thank you so much for your kind words, your emails, your comments and your shares.  It means the world to me and I love sharing this journey with you!

Episode 28: Communication Breakdown

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This last weekend my husband and I went on a marriage retreated called Epic Love.  It started out Friday evening with dinner and a talk by Fr. Justin Brady who reminds me a lot of Fr. John Riccardo (you should listen to his awesome podcasts!)  Saturday featured three more talks with time after each one to connect with your spouse.  There were many wonderful moments, lots of laughs and plenty of serious talks with my husband.

It’d be hard to capture all that I heard and learned in one blog post so I decided to pull out the biggest takeaway for us as a couple.

The big marriage game changer for me was the idea that some people talk to think and some people think to talk.  I have read many marriage books and taken many personality tests and I had never heard of this concept before.  Without a doubt, and probably not surprising to most of you, I am a talk to thinker.  That means I need to talk things out to discover what I really think about a topic.

My husband is a think to talker so he needs time to process information in his head, sort it all out and then is able to talk about it.  You can imagine how frustrating these two types are when trying to have a serious conversation about something.

We have been married for nearly 6 years and this idea instantly clarified why we have trouble talking things out sometimes.  I often ramble on jumping from idea to idea causing my husband to become frustrated.  He sometimes stops me midsentence asking, “Do you really mean what you just said?”

And often times I found myself saying, “Well not really, that’s not what I meant.”  This would make me feel stupid.  We should mean what we say right?  How could I say something I didn’t really mean?  But now I realize that I have to speak some ideas out loud to figure out what I really want to say or what my main point is.

Now this isn’t an excuse to verbally vomit on your husband all the time because “it’s your process.”  In understanding these two personality types, we are both responsible for reigning in our natural tendency so we can meet our partner in the middle.  I need to do a better job of getting to my point sooner without rambling for 15 minutes first.  I also need to give my husband some space before asking him to respond.

It helped a lot that the priest who talked about this concept was himself a talk to thinker.  I’m not sure my husband would have believed this was a real thing if it had not come from a guy.  I’m pretty sure he thinks all ladies talk all the time.  But in hearing Fr. Justin explain how he needs to talk things out to eventually come to what he would call “the nugget,” my husband began to realize that perhaps I wasn’t trying to drive him crazy with my words but that this was my process as well.

It also won my husband over when Fr. Justin explained that us talk to thinkers need to pause FOR 13 SECONDS allowing our partner to formulate a response.  Now maybe he arbitrarily picked 13 seconds as a number that would stick in our minds but I took it seriously enough to try it out.  After the talk, when Michael and I began chatting, I would say my piece and then wait for 13 long seconds for him to respond.  Ladies, this feels like an eternity.

And as I would watch Michael’s face, it didn’t look pained.  He didn’t look uncomfortable with the silence.  Meanwhile, I was holding my breath!  My chest felt tight.  I was aware of every second and I wanted so badly to jump in and say three more things I had thought of while we were sitting there.

Because in my mind… if I just told him these three things, I’m sure he’d have a MUCH better idea of how I felt and he could respond better with this new information!

I have come to understand just how often I talk over him.  I used to take his silence after my comments as rude, insulting or maybe he just wasn’t listening to me at all.  Now I realize he was feeling hurt that I never gave him long enough to respond as if I didn’t care what he had to say.

This one concept was by far the biggest takeaway from the weekend and one that will have a large impact on our marriage.  I am working on minimizing my words.  I also agreed to tell Michael when I know there’s something I want to say but I don’t know what it is and I need some time to just talk things out.  He was happy with this concept because it meant he didn’t have to process all the words that were coming at him.  He could wait until I found my “nugget” and then he could take some time to thoughtfully respond to that one thing.

I have to do my part where I also give him many many seconds when Michael can think about what he wants to say.  I have to give him this space without jumping back in to add any more “and then” points! He has to work on not being frustrated that I need to ramble on sometimes and also that he doesn’t need to process and formulate a perfect response before answering me.  He needs to work on shortening that thinking time.

It’s only been two days but so far our conversations have been flowing so much more smoothly!

So I don’t know how many of you have heard this concept or if it would greatly help you communicate with your spouse, your friends or your co-workers but it was definitely new to me!  I couldn’t wait to get home and share it with you.  There were many other gems we heard about this weekend and I will definitely share them here soon!

Episode 27: Holy Work and Invisible Art

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Most of you know I’m a big fan of www.brianjohnson.me.  I listen to his stuff all the time and he is the number one person I turn to when I ask myself, “What should I be reading next?”  So I was very excited when his wife was featured as a guest on his site talking about Mammahood 101.  I was really interested to see what the other half of Brian was going to be like and what drives her as a mother.

What little I had seen of her before had a lot of words like goddess, meditations, and affirmations so I was worried that her talk was going to be dripping with Eastern religion practices and things that weren’t going to jive with me as a Catholic mama.

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised!  She rocked this talk and so much of what she said really resonated with who I am and what I want to work on.  It was an hour long talk but I wanted to pull out one of her major points because I think it’s spot on for Catholic moms.

Motherhood is Holy work.  You are creating invisible art with everything you do.

This was such a fabulous idea.  And I think I’ve heard this said in many ways but for some reason, the phrase “holy work” really stuck out to me.  Yes, I am doing Holy work.  Right now, as I pick up the laundry, as I sweep the floors, as I brush Rose’s hair… I am doing Holy work.  I’ve talked about how we should all be striving for sainthood and that motherhood is for many of us, our pathway to pursuing this purpose but to have a phrase that we can use throughout the day, I think will help bring that home for many of us.

When you’re feeling frustrated, I want you to slow down and whisper to yourself, “I am doing Holy work.”  When something goes wrong or the kids are fighting or you’re feeling tired… tell yourself, “I am doing Holy work.”

You are doing the most important work that there is.  Without mothers, we’d obviously have nothing and we live in a world that wants to squash our importance and drown it out with noise.  Don’t let this happen in your heart.  Protect yourself.  Tell yourself again, “I am doing Holy work.”

I love the idea that we are also creating invisible art.  Perhaps it’s not entirely invisible because your mama friends know what you’re going through and all that you do.  But all those little things you do… all the skinned knees you kiss, all the times you make sure everyone gets the same number of jellybeans, the nights you pick up after everyone else has gone to bed… you are creating the most beautiful stained glass window or hand-sewn tapestry you could even imagine.

Just sit with that for a moment.

I love how Catholic that idea is.  One of my favorites parts of converting to Catholicism is the beautiful artwork.  Churches are so lovely.  The paintings are beautiful.  The statues and icons and gardens are a physical representation of Heaven to me.

And you mama, you’re creating a masterpiece.  You are creating a beautiful work of art.  And even if it’s invisible to the world, it’s not invisible to God.  He sees you.  He sees your work.  He sees how frustrated you get and how much you want to quit sometimes or toss your painting across the room… but you don’t.  You pick up your paintbrush and you keep doing your Holy work.

I have really been working on changing my attitude with my kids.  I’d say this has been a focus for me for the past six months.  I’ve been trying to minimize the times I rush them and make them feel like they’re doing something wrong when they’re not.  Obviously, hitting your sister and stealing her plastic horse is wrong.  I roll in on that.  But being a kid and finding joy and wonder in the world, is not wrong.

I don’t want to squash their spirit here.  Now sometimes I explain that you can find joy and wonder in the world without turning on the hose, that is a family rule, but I don’t get upset at them in these moments.

I also don’t rush them when we have to go somewhere.  I leave extra time for putting on shoes and looking at the flowers on the way out to the car.  It’s not like rushing kids actually helps get you places faster.  It just turns you into a momster with steam coming out of your ears and everyone a little more ruffled than before.

So I challenge you mamas to work on this.  Work on both understanding you are doing Holy work, you are creating invisible art and also that you can change your attitude about the exact same situations you’ve been struggling through and find peace in them.  Your children are a gift, their wonder is a gift and you’ve been given the great job of nurturing their curious minds.

Episode 26: Murphy Repellant

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One of my favorite phrases from the Financial Peace University program by Dave Ramsey is Murphy Repellant.  He suggests that if you have enough money saved, those crazy, unexpected expenses don’t actually tend to come up that often and at least when they do, you’re prepared.

My husband and I often make the joke that we need more Murphy Repellent, especially for situations like camping trips and road trips.  We pack for every situation we can think of that we can reasonably fit in the car.

I do this at home too.  I go around at the end of the week and at the end of the month and I prepare my home for all the craziness that’s going to happen.  We have four different places for wipes in our house, I make sure they are all filled.  We use both cloth diapers and reusable diapers so I make sure they are stocked in the places I need them.  I do a toilet paper check.  I make sure I have plenty of coffee.

I have a phone charger on both my floors in and in both our cars.  A fast track to a stressful day for me is leaving the house with a dead phone.

When I was younger, bad things happened to me all the time.  I’d forget to pay bills because I’d put papers in a pile and leave them there.  I didn’t own stamps.  I’d lock my keys in the car all the time without a spare key.  I’d run out of healthy food and then turn to eating bad food.  I had no discipline in my life and so my life was… hard.

Now you can’t discipline or habit your way out of all problems.  But a lot of them become much more manageable if you get ahead of them.

At the end of the month:

  • I put six rolls of toilet paper in each of our three bathrooms and I order more from Amazon if we’re getting low.
  • I make sure we have plenty of coffee and I buy more grounds if we’re getting low.
  • I make sure I have my car staples (see list below)
  • I have a stack of envelopes with return address labels and stamps next to my checkbook so I don’t have to go hunting those things down every time I need to mail something
  • Do we have enough shampoo, conditioner, deodorant and toothpaste?
  • I think all but one of my bills is set to autopay
  • We buy meat from Zaycon Fresh in bulk to save money but you have to order far in advance so I have to understand how often we need beef and chicken

At the end of the week:

  • I do a diaper/wipes check in the four locations we use them in our house to make sure they’re all stocked.
  • I do laundry on Mondays and Thursdays. Nothing jams up my day like not having clean jeans or underwear!
  • We create a meal plan and pull out meat from our freezer on Saturday for the week.
  • We always keep fruit, carrots and nuts stocked up as snacks for the kids.
  • My children used to have access to their church clothes or their church shoes during the week, but then they’d get lost and cause some craziness on Sunday morning. Now they have one church outfit with tights and shoes in ONE place.  They wear it to church, then they take it off as soon as they get home.

Things in my car:

  • Sunglasses (I have a pair that never leaves the car so if it’s really sunny out, I can safely see)
  • Sunscreen
  • A few hair ties and some mascara – you can really clean up with just those two things!
  • Diapers and wipes
  • Blanket that has a tarp on one side
  • Ibuprofen
  • A plastic bag, a ziplock bag and a towel to contain anything gross
  • Extra change of clothes for all the kids. It used to just be my two younger girls in case there were potty accidents but just the other day, we were hiking and Rose ruined her clothes and I didn’t have a change of clothes for her in the car. So now I’ve added her to the list too!
  • Water and trail mix that has NO chocolate… we don’t need melting chocolate in the car
  • $20 stashed somewhere. When I use it, I replace it the next day.  This isn’t fun money but more like, “I’m in a jam and I really needed some cash money.”
  • I know how to change a tire and where all the tools are in my car. Do you or do you at least have AAA?
  • Phone charger

Most importantly, I know this is an evolving process.  I will always be refining my Murphy Repellent to make sure I’m prepared for what life throws at me.

Here’s what you can do to be more prepared.  Think of the times you’ve been really stressed lately either in your home or out of your home.  Could you have been more prepared to lessen your stress? Would an extra change of clothes have mattered?  What about having a towel? Now there isn’t much to do to prevent getting a flat tire but do you know how to change a tire or do you have AAA?

I actually schedule this into my calendar.  Guess what? It usually only takes 15 minutes.  But the thinking, the planning, the actual putting of the toilet paper out…. Saves me huge hassles later.  It helps me to have more peace during the week.  My house runs more smoothly.

Crazy things still come up.  Sometimes I can create Murphy Repellant so they don’t happen again.  Sometimes I know they will never come up again and that’s just life.  I want to cultivate habits that help me.

I love this quote from Gary Heller in The One Thing and it could easily be applied to BIG disciplines like daily exercise but for me, it also applies to the little rhythms of my life that I’ve put in place to help me be successful.

“Discipline and habit. Honestly, most people never really want to talk about these. And who can blame them? I don’t either. The images these words conjure in our heads are of something hard and unpleasant. Just reading the words is exhausting. But there’s good news. The right discipline goes a long way, and habits are hard only in the beginning. Over time, the habit you’re after becomes easier and easier to sustain. It’s true. Habits require much less energy and effort to maintain than to begin. Put up with the discipline long enough to turn it into a habit, and the journey feels different. Lock in one habit so it becomes part of your life, and you can effectively ride the routine with less wear and tear on yourself. The hard stuff becomes habit, and habit makes the hard stuff easy.”

We will never have control over our lives.  Only God has that control.  But we can be an active participant, we can create Murphy Repellant, we can choose to be prepared for the situations we know are likely to come up.

What ways do you keep prepared in your home, office or car that help you manage sticky situations?

Episode 25: Wisdom from Children’s Bible Songs

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I do not like little kid songs.  I have a deep respect for preschool teachers who manage to sing those high pitched jingles with joy to their kids.  I can’t stand the sound of veggie tales either. My children really enjoy the veggie tales songs but it’s something they get to do with their dad when I’m not in the car.  I don’t feel bad about this, it’s just not one of my gifts.

The one exception I make is for our Sunday School Songs.  For some reason it must tug on my Protestant heartstrings and remind me of the few Sunday school classes I went to as a child.  I really enjoy this CD and when I end up putting it on in the car, I find that I desperately needed a lesson from one of these delightful songs.

It might seem silly to think that there are great lessons to be found on a children’s CD but it’s a goldmine for simple truths.  I often need to hear those simple truths when I’m driving in the car, thinking about the day ahead of me.

The bible is really good at giving us one liners for inspiration.  This was no accident.  I think Jesus knew that we were going to be busy and because of our broken nature, we’d easily forget the simple messages that Jesus brought us.  So he built in a good memory system, a lot of quick phrases that we can repeat to ourselves to get us back on track.

Though the phrases I’m going to share aren’t direct quotes from scripture, they are all truths that can be found in the bible.  Here are the ones that seem to reach out and grab me while I’m driving.  They help me to calm down and to realize where my focus should be – on Jesus and not on the busyness of my day or the worries in my heart.

  1. I’ve got the peace that passes understanding down in my heart.
    This is just such a great phrase! Every time I hear it, it gives me pause.  This is the heart of Christianity.  Because we are so loved by God, we have a great peace and this peace is beyond understanding.  The world can be crashing down around us and yet, we can still have peace.  Now, we may not be very good at practicing this yet, but it is just that, a practice… something we need to cultivate.  When I hear this song, it helps center me and it reminds me that no matter what crazy is happening, I should have peace inside my heart.
  2. I have decided to follow Jesus. Though none come with me, still I will follow.  The world behind me, the cross before me.
    This is such a beautiful song and one that our priest sings often in Mass.  The actual song repeats each of these phrases many times but I thought I’d just include them once here.  I think all three parts are really important here.  First, the active choice to follow Jesus.Next, the test.  Though none come with me, still I will follow.  And for many of us, we are part of Catholic or Christian communities so we’re not completely alone but I think this refers more to all the small moments we break free from the current culture to choose Jesus and His way.  Those moments can feel really lonely and in them, we are often surrounded by the world and not the comfort of our small friends circle.Last, the vision.  This is our goal in life.  The world behind us, the cross before us.  Let us not be distracted by the noise in our life but be lured by the glow of Jesus and His love for us.  Focus on who is before you and keep walking towards Him.
  3. I’m in the lord’s army, yes sir!
    If you do not realize that we are all in a war, fighting in the lord’s army. Even though we may not have physical weapons, this war is being waged everyday right around us.  We are fighting for souls.  We are fighting for Heaven.  We are fighting to keep God’s love in the world.  I think we lose a sense of preparedness or the nerve to fight sometimes by not realizing that we’re actively in a war.  It’s easy to hide in the quiet comfort of our homes and to be in denial of all the ways the devil is attacking us.I think of the music and television and advertisements that try to break into my home.  I think of the neighborhood conversations and conversations my children hear.  It is my job to protect them from things they cannot understand and to explain the things they can.  This is an active battle I have to fight everyday and when I let this idea slip into the back of my mind, I start to lose.
  4. When we walk with the lord, in the light of his word, what a glory He sheds on our way
    If you are not reading your bible every day, go to Adoration and pray that Jesus give you the wisdom for how to do this and the strength to carry it out.  Since I have become Catholic, I see the wonderful way many Catholics protect the sacredness of Mass and make sure that they go every single week, no matter what.  This dedication is admirable!Next, I would like to see Catholics feel as fiercely about reading their bible every day.  I think reading the daily readings from a Blessed Is She email counts.  I think reading your Magnificat counts.  I personally still like to touch and open up my actual bible.  But no matter what you choose, God gave us this amazing guidebook as a resource.  Stop making excuses.  If you’re stressed and drowning and confused about life but not reading your bible… you’re missing the low hanging fruit!What a glory he sheds on our way.  Doesn’t that sound lovely? Make time.  Read your bible.
  5. Oh be careful little eyes what you see.
    This last one is one I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I have a friend who has six children and they have a saying in their family, “Guard your heart.”  When either of the parents say this phrase, their children and to bow their heads and close their eyes.  It means that something unsavory is in front of them that the kids should not see and do not need to see.  Maybe it’s a lewd billboard or an inappropriately dressed person or something violet.  The kids know not to question this and to protect their hearts by closing their eyes.I really like this idea and I think it’s great training for kids to later filter out what they see.  As I get older, I watch less and less television and fewer movies pass my husband’s test for something we think is worthy of being watched.  We must be careful what our eyes see so we do not because lured by the world and distracted by the sinful shiny things.

Now, if you’re a mom like me who doesn’t like kid songs, don’t worry about it.  You don’t need to listen to this CD to be reminded of the simple truths Jesus wants us to know and to follow.  Find a few bible verses that speak to you and put them up over your house.  Put a few sticky notes in your car, in your kitchen, in the bathroom.

We are all weak and so we need constant reminders to hold on to what’s important to us.  There is no doubt that Jesus is my number one and I want to be a saint in Heaven but it’s easy for me to be distracted literally every five minutes and to lose sight of that goal.  It’s okay to use childish games to keep our head in the game, in fact, I’d say it’s wise to do so.

I’m praying for all you mamas out there that Jesus piece your heart with truth and longing and that you use His strength to go into battle every day this week!

Episode 24: Three Awesome Things

episode 24

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My husband read an article about how important the first five minutes with your spouse are when you get home from work so we started focusing on this.  We pause and spend five minutes with each other before jumping into other things.  This works most days unless something is actively being cooked or we happen to have an appointment we have to rush off to.

We’ve pressed ourselves to examine excuses.  Most things can wait.  You can stop and spend five minutes with your spouse most days when they get home.

That was a great idea but I ended up emotionally dumping on him during this five minutes.  TODAY WAS SO HARD!  Let me tell you all the crazy things that happened.  It’s like my day had been building up inside me like a pressure and it just needed to pop and spill out like Nickelodeon slime all over him.

He would look at me shocked and not sure what to do or say.

Suffice it to say… it wasn’t exactly a restful five minutes.  We quickly realized that it wasn’t working and we decided to change the rules.  We brought in a practice we do during our weekly goals review meeting that we have where we each choose five positive things that happened during the week.  But instead, we changed it to “Three Awesome Things” for our daily review.

Now, when he comes home, we each take turns asking the other, “What are three awesome things that happened today?”

There is something interesting about the word “awesome” that sparks interesting ideas.  You really have to think about how to make ordinary things seem extraordinary.  But the more we do this, the easier it is because God is awesome and He is part of our whole day.

I can always think of something.  Children are wonderful and creative and they’re always doing funny things.  And even though he works at a somewhat boring desk job, he comes up with really interesting things too!  This isn’t a new idea.  It’s just a spin on focusing on the things we’re grateful for.

As I’m writing this article, I had a pretty rough day.  I missed a really important job appointment because I had a flat tire.  My client was really understanding, my mom watched my kids and I had money to go and buy a new tire.  That’s pretty amazing!  Like really, I could have thought it was the worst day ever.  I could have dwelled on the yuckiness of my unplanned day.  But instead, I was sitting at the tire company praising God that I was able to take care of this situation when there have been many years in my life where I would not have been able to logistically or financially.

I also look for awesome things to share with my husband now.  It almost feels like a game.  It has me searching for God’s amazing hand instead of dwelling on all the mundane annoyances.

And again, this isn’t a new idea but maybe you needed to hear it today.  I know I needed it a few weeks ago when I was wallowing in Boo Hoo Land and wanting to hide under the covers all day.  I needed to be reminded that our God is an awesome God!  Living in 2016 is awesome!  I needed a little cheerleading in my life.  A little “over the top, optimistic, praise the Lord, life is good” kind of reminder.

Of course I have bad days.  And yes, it’s good to rest with your spouse and share those hardships.  We have just learned that when we do that in the first five minutes of seeing each other have a day apart, it tends to weaken our ability to support each other.  By creating a positive, God affirming five minutes when we are thankful for our day, no matter what happened, we have more strength to tackle the hardships that did come and any that might come later in the evening.

The LORD has done great things for us; We are glad. Psalm 126:3

I think I’m going to start doing this with my friends too.  Instead of opening our conversation with struggles, first taking the time to talk about three great things that have happened lately.  Then we can talk about the hard stuff.  But we are all so blessed and we all love Jesus so much.  Shouldn’t we rejoice in this together more?

So tell me, what are three awesome things that happened to you today?

Episode 23: I Do Not Consider Or Analyze It. I Keep Silent.

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I took a break for Holy Week and for the first week of Easter to spend time with my family and to increase my prayer time.  It was a beautiful two weeks.  I have two big announcements for you this week!

First, my husband has a new podcast called The Catholic Commute. Ladies, I know some of you may be thinking, “My husband doesn’t listen to podcasts.”  And I understand!  Mine didn’t for a long time and then finally someone just took his phone and loaded them up for him and then he was hooked.  So go take your husband’s phone, download it and tell him he can simply press play when he gets in the car!

Second announcement!  My husband and I bought a business! Heartland Post and Pole!  We make post and pole fences which are often found out in the country.  I am now adjusting to life as a working mom, which has been a pretty big shift for me!  Don’t worry, I will still be podcasting once a week but my online presence is probably going to go down.  I’m really excited about this new chapter in my life.  It’s definitely stretched me beyond my comfort zone, I’m learning a ton but I’m also having a lot of fun!

So let’s dive into this episode (post) about Divine Mercy!

Last week, my brain was tired. I’ve been thinking so much about making sure the kids get enough mom time and that my new employees feel comfortable and that my husband feels loved and not left out.  I’ve allowed worrying to slip back into my life as a habit. And even though my worry is tied to prayer and I even invite Jesus into my worries…I’m holding back some of this worry.

I’m still keeping some of it to myself.  I’m holding onto it like a math problem that I’ll eventually solve.  If I move enough pieces around, the perfect combination will come to me and I’ll be able to do everything, be everything, love everyone the right way.

But I must now purpose to start fresh.  To begin anew. I must stop worrying, stop chewing on problems of tomorrow and simply live for today.  God has given me this very day.  This beautiful day in Idaho with my family.  He puts people right in front of me each day and asks that I love them.  He wants me to love them and to show them mercy.

This is the week after Divine Mercy Sunday and it’s a very special feast day for me.  This year I read Divine Mercy for Moms and 33 Days to Mercy and in addition to extending more mercy to myself, I find myself extending mercy to others much faster than I used to.  I think previously I extended mercy in a retrospective way.  I would act immediately with judgement and condemnation in my thoughts.  Then later, at home, I’d reflect and realize that I should have been more merciful.

So now I’m trying to get there faster.  Feel mercy, show mercy instantly. We cannot possibly understand what any person is going through.  And in a way, it really doesn’t matter what they are going through.  They need mercy just as we need mercy and Jesus is there and ready to give it.

Sometimes it’s hardest to extend mercy to the ones we know and love the most.  I’m working on doing this faster too.  I don’t even understand the depths of the soul of my spouse and I probably know him better than any other person on the planet.  Only God knows his heart, his thoughts and his soul.  Instead of pointing out his shortcomings or mistakes, instead of wanting to be right, I am swallowing it all and just loving him with mercy.  He doesn’t deserve it but it’s what Jesus asks me to give him anyway.

None of us deserves our Lord’s mercy but that’s the amazing message of Divine Mercy and of Jesus. He sees us at our very worst, our most yucky moments and he loves us anyway. And this amazing gift is something we can pass on. Jesus can live through us and we can be his great hand of mercy in the world.

We can love people and care for those who don’t deserve it because really, no one deserves it.  We are sinners just as they are.  We must show others that our sins, no matter how bad, will never prevent Jesus for throwing open His arms and inviting us home.

Circling back to my crazy week and my hours of worrying, I want to share with you this quote from St. Faustina.

“When I see that the burden is beyond my strength, I do not consider or analyze it or probe into it, but I run like a child to the Heart of Jesus and say only one word to Him: “You can do all things.” And then I keep silent, because I know that Jesus Himself will intervene in the matter, and as for me, instead of tormenting myself, I use that time to love Him.”

How lovely is this? “I do not consider or analyze it.” “And then I keep silent.”  Just those two parts are something I think I could spend my lifetime working on.  I wrote those two phrases on a sticky note and put it on the monitor of my computer.

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Ladies, no one needs to tell you that you worry too much.  It seems to be something that most women are susceptible to.  We have big hearts and we care so much for those around us that we think we can manage the world.  But we cannot.  And we must not allow these burdens to put us in a prison of worry in our own minds.

We must run like a child to the Heart of Jesus and say “You can do all things.” Then we must keep silent.  Let Him do His work.  He heard you.  He will do the right thing.  It may not be the thing you want or even something you ever imagined but He works for all things good.

Here are some books on Divine Mercy.

Divine Mercy In My Soul- Diary of Sister M. Faustina Kowalska

33 Days to Merciful Love: A Do-It-Yourself Retreat in Preparation for Consecration to Divine Mercy

7 Secrets of Divine Mercy

Divine Mercy Explained

Divine Mercy for Moms: Sharing the Lessons of St. Faustina

If you’re church is part of www.formed.org, they are featuring a video series on Divine Mercy.  It will only be available for free for a limited time so make you carve out some time to watch it.

If you do not have the image of Divine Mercy in your home, put it in your budget and buy one this year.  It will bring you peace.  Have a wonderful and blessed week friends!

Episode 22: Finding Hope in the Darkness

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Today I want to talk about feeling unworthy.  In this last week I’ve been working on a few projects and I have had this sinking feeling that I am not worthy to write them.  This feeling is paralyzing.  I keep asking myself, “What do I know about this?  How can I teach people when I am such a sinner? How can I lead people if I keep stumbling myself?”

These feelings, these thoughts in my mind, they have been ferocious lately.  I feel like I am sitting in the dark, by myself and that I can’t see God’s true goodness all around me.

And I know this is a lie because just before this darkness I was feeling bathed in the light.  I was so grateful and thankful for my family, for my faith, for this great world God has given to me.  Nothing about my situation changed except that I now feel like a shadow has come over me.

I really like these two images.  They both say something similar and they both capture the idea I try to hold onto when I’m feeling lonely and covered in darkness.

woman with crown

girl with crown

 

I am the daughter of a King.  I am most loved by God.  God loves me more than my little mind could even imagine.  Even after becoming a mother, you’d think I’d have an idea of how much God loves me.  And I’m sure now that I am a parent, I have a better of this selfless love God has for me, but I’m sure it’s still just a fraction of how much He really loves me.

He loves me.

And He loves you.  Let that sink in for a moment.  This creator of the universe, who is all knowing, all loving, He loves you.  He is with you, right now.  He has all the time in the world and at this moment, He’s giving you His full attention.  Talk to Him.

Tell Him how you’re feeling.  Tell him about the darkness.  Tell him that you feel unworthy.  Ask for His love.  When my husband comes home from work and my daughters yell, “Daddy is home,” and they rush to give him a hug, I see the look on his face.  He is filled with joy that these little girls are so excited to see him.  That is how God is.  He is always filled with joy when we come running to Him.

Don’t let the world or the devil make you feel unworthy of your great father.

I know these things and I’ve still been struggling this week!  These negative thoughts in my mind, these are not messages from God.  I know that.  God would never admonish us in such a way.  Sure, He sees our sinfulness and it makes Him sad.  He’s disappointed when we choose the world over Him but He always has hope for us.  He is always in our corner.  He is always cheering us on and believing that we can do it!

In last week’s gospel reading, Jesus looks at the adulterous woman and instead of berating her for what she has done, He says, “Go and sin no more.”  Adultery is a pretty grave sin.  There is no accidentally stumbling into that sin.  And if Jesus can look at her and say, very plainly, go and sin no more than He knows she has the capability of doing this.

He believes in us.  He wants us to succeed.  He wants us to choose Him over the world.  We get the opportunity to do this over and over again throughout our day.

I’m still not sure what’s going on with me.  Maybe it’s Lent.  Maybe it’s spiritual attacks trying to prevent me from completing my Catholic projects.  But no matter what is going on, I know it’s not God.  God may be allowing this darkness to happen to me but He is not causing it.

He is still in my corner.  He still believes in me.  He still wants me to choose Him over the world and to spend eternity with Him in Heaven.

I want to share some scripture from Romans, Chapter 5.

5 Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. 3 And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

6 For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. 9 Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. 11 But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.

God knows what He is doing.  He hasn’t chosen you by accident.  He doesn’t think you are unworthy.  He knows you are a sinner.  He has seen you at your worst, at your darkest, at your most sinful and He wants you anyways.  He died on that cross for you and all your ugly sins.

He knows your heart.  He knows your goodness.  He is cheering you on to choose Him over the world and to spend eternity with Him.  Don’t let your insecurities and your depression keep you in the darkness.  Christ died on the cross for us so we could be reconciled to God even though we do not deserve it.  No one can take this away from you.  This isn’t a deal that’s going to be voided by your choices.  All you have to do is accept it.

I don’t feel beyond my darkness yet.  But in my darkness, I feel hope.  I know that God is with me.  I know that it will pass.  I know that I can counter all the lies that pop into my head with biblical truths.  I lean on the bible, I lean on writings from the saints and I lean on the sacraments.  I have to cling to these tools that our great Catholic church has given us.

I know I will come out the other side of this feeling stronger and more alive in my faith.  I know that God allows these doubts to occur, these temptations to pester me but I also know He has complete faith that I can overcome them.  That gives me hope and it gives me strength.  I want to make Him proud.

I want to run into His arms at the end of the day and rest in Him.

I invite you to do the same, no matter what you’re going through, no matter how unworthy you feel.  You are the daughter of a king and you are greatly loved.

Straighten your crown and go tackle your day with love!

Episode 21: Measuring Our Marriage

Episode 21

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My husband and I feel blessed that we both come from divorced parents because without that, we probably wouldn’t have worked so hard to learn about marriage in the first place.  There was no doubt in our minds the day we got married, that we had no idea what we were doing.  We had no role models.  We had no examples to follow.  We were flying blind.  But knowing that gives you the freedom to ask questions.

We set out immediately and bought books.  We read them to try and figure out what the heck this lifelong commitment based on Jesus was supposed to look like.  We knew from day one that we had to fight to keep this thing together and that it was going to be hard.  Everyone knows it’s going to be hard.  But we really had no idea what exactly…. Was going to be hard.

It didn’t take long for us to figure that out.  After getting pregnant on our honeymoon, our relationship immediately started to change.  I had intended to go back to work but now it didn’t make much sense to get a job only to turn around and leave it.  We both wanted me to stay home with our kids so I ended up being hormonal and bored for 9 months.

My poor husband would come from work to a crazy lady and I’m pretty sure in those months we were both asking ourselves, “Is this hard because of pregnancy or is this hard because I can’t stand the person I just married?”

Now of course there were lots of good times too but no one really prepares you for thinking, “What if I never want to hang out with this guy ever again?”  In those first months I never really knew what was crazy hormones talking or what I actually thought about this new NEVER ENDING, I’M STUCK HERE FOREVER relationship.

The good news is, I’ve now been pregnant many times and a lot of those feelings were, in fact, just crazy pregnancy hormones.  I also see that there were many communication growing pains we needed to experience as we adjusted to living permanently with another adult who happened to be a different gender.

It took us a few years to figure out the little things that we just plain felt differently about.  Some of them were small, like I enjoy sitting around Saturday morning drinking coffee while my husband wants to eat breakfast at 7 and dive into weekend chores.  Some things were bigger like how we felt about disciplining children or which parish we were going to attend.

If you stopped me today and asked me if I had a good marriage, I’d say oh yeah!  We love each other, we have very similar values, we have great communication and we make a good team.  But that doesn’t mean I haven’t touched the darkness.

That’s what my husband and I call it, the darkness.  Those moments when things are awful.  When you can’t stand the person for a few minutes or a few days or weeks.  When you think, “How am I going to stand being married forever?”

We usually experience some bout of the darkness in the 8 weeks after having a new baby.  Sleep deprivation does some crazy things.  Now we’ve just learned to acknowledge it.  With this last baby, while I was in early labor, I said, “Honey, the next 8 weeks are going to be really hard for us but no matter how crazy we get, and how dark the darkness feels, know that I love you and we’ll make it to the other side!”  And my husband laughed because he knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Knowing about the darkness doesn’t excuse bad behavior.  When you’re mean to your spouse either through yelling or freezing them out, they deserve an apology.  A real one.  Not a pouty, over the shoulder sarcastic one.  They deserve you asking for forgiveness.

And oh man is this hard.  It’s hard to still feel in your mind that you’re RIGHT about something but to know that you were a big jerkface about how you handled the situation so you have to apologize and ask for forgiveness without using the word BUT and interjecting all your justifications for your bad behavior.

I share these things with you because no one told me about all the ugly things I would think and feel about my husband and explain to me that they would pass.  Things would be great again.  We’d grow and sometimes that growth would be painful but we’d always come out stronger.

I knew marriage was going to be hard but I wasn’t prepared for all the small ways it was going to be hard.  The many times I’d have to bite my tongue, forgive my husband and love him through his own weaknesses.  The many times he’d have to do the same for me and the shame and guilt I’d feel after acting like a pouty teenager.

But we won’t give up.  We want to be married as long as we’re alive and we want to have a great marriage.  We’re not even entirely sure what that looks like but we know we’ve got a ways to go to reach it.  We’re constantly working on this even when other things seem more important because it’s really difficult to make progress in your life if you don’t have a strong marriage.

In our quest to have a strong marriage, we read a lot of books and then compiled the best ideas from those books into a marriage rubric so we could check in with each other about how we felt our marriage was doing.  I’m not sure if this would work for anyone else, everyone’s marriage is so different, but this is what we use and I wanted to share it with you. At the end of this article, I’ll link those books.  So here it is:

Measuring Our Marriage

  1. Separated – You and your spouse are not currently living together
  2. Separated but Together – You still live together but you are angry or stone walling your spouse by freezing them out
  3. Uneasy Truce – You’ve decided to stay together and you’ve called a truce but there are little to no feelings of warmth there
  4. Moments of Warmth – Things are still rough but there are moments of warmth with your spouse that give you hope.  Here you are more glad that you’re married than not.
  5. You’re Trying – You are putting forward effort to love your spouse even if you’re just going through the motions.  You’re doing the right thing because you know you should, not because you want to.
  6. Feeling Safe – You feel emotionally safe around your spouse.  You’re not anxious when you’re spending time together.
  7. Building Each Other Up – Being with your spouse reduces your stress.  You are better together.
  8. Rejuvenating – You are able to really relax with your spouse.  Time together feels like rest and recharges you.
  9. Marriage Priority – You make your marriage a higher priority than anything else in your life except your spirituality.
  10. Egalitarianism – You are not shooting for equality but rather each spouse is so independently strong that each person does whatever is necessary to get things done. They share all duties.

A few times per year, we look at this spectrum and we both explain where we think we are and why.  We then generate ideas for moving up the scale.  These ideas become part of our yearly goals.  For example, this year we wanted to reinstate our weekly date night.  We also created the habit of sharing five uplifting things about the other person during our weekly goals review.  This was huge.

Having your spouse say five genuine things they appreciate about you for the week is really powerful. It’s also a way to get off the grumpy cycle.  It’s hard to keep arguing when you’ve had to find five things you appreciate about your spouse and say it out loud to their face!

During our weekly goals review, we also are allowed one piece of constructive criticism.  The rules are you have to calmly explain one thing that bothered you with a concrete example and one contrasting example of what you wish your spouse had done instead.  The five to one ratio is important here.  We started out using a timer for these two activities.  You can’t speed through your five appreciations in 3 minutes and then spend 8 minutes ragging on your spouse for something they did.

We try to keep it at five minutes for things we appreciate and one minute for constructive criticism.

We are always evolving our process for checking in on our marriage and setting goals.  We know this will be something we do for the rest of our lives.  The only thing we know for sure is that we’re going to be working on it in some way for as long as we both shall live.  That’s the key.  Recognizing that we always have growing to do and making it a priority to grow is how we intend to stay out of divorce and to become a good example of marriage for our children.

I would love to know how you measure or work on your marriage and what some of your favorite books have been since I’m sure we’ll be continuing to read about how we can have a stronger relationship!

Books We Like About Marriage

For Better Forever: Revised and Expanded

Discovering The Mind Of A Woman: The Key To Becoming A Strong And Irresistible Husband Is…

The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love that Lasts

The Temperament God Gave Your Spouse

Intimacy & Desire: Awaken the Passion in Your Relationship

Holy Sex!: A Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving

The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning

Episode: 20 Hey Mama, Slow Down, You Are The Salt of the Earth

episode 20

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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I often talk about or write about things I read in self-help books that make a difference in my life.  Two weeks ago I shared the Motivation Equation.  Recently on Periscope, I shared a change that I made to my children’s clothing system that has helped us tremendously to cut down the confusion, fights and wastefulness of my daughters putting on several outfits per day.  But the more I talk about these small improvements I make in my life, I realize that I might give the wrong impression about what’s important to me.

It is not my goal to be a MORE productive person.  It is my goal to be more holy.  When I save time by creating an effective system, I do not replace it with more work or more busyness.  In fact, you’d find that for most of the day, I hang out in my living room with my kids.  Sometimes we hang out outside.  Sometimes we hang out in the bed of our guest room reading books.  Yesterday we went to the park twice just to hang out.

I am striving for sainthood by trying to love all the people that God has put in my path.  And right now, God has put three little girls in my path and my job, the work I need to do, is to love them and show them who Jesus is.  Sure, it’s also to talk to them about who Jesus is but it’s mostly to show them who He is. I certainly mess this up all the time but I’m always trying to be better at it.

The other day someone said to me, “Wow, you must be really busy!”  And I’m not sure specifically why this person thought that of me, it’s a fair assumption.  Maybe it was because I have a blog and a podcast.  But the truth is, I’m not that busy at all. Most weeks I have one or two appointments on my calendar.  I often tell people I’m open for playdates almost everyday!

I write my blog and record my podcast one morning per week.  The rest of the time I spend “working” on writing or speaking is usually dedicated to commenting and supporting other Catholic blogs.  I interact with these communities while my kids nap and so it’s actually part of my rest time.

It’s true, I do wake up early so I can do my devotional, have coffee and do some free writing for a book I’m trying to finish but I also go to bed early so I can do that.  I haven’t extended my awake hours, I’ve just shifted them.  I try really hard to put my phone away at 7 p.m. and to spend my last hour and a half of the day with my husband.  More hanging out, you see but that’s how I love these people.  I spend time with them.

“Do you wish to be great? Then begin by being.  Do you desire to construct a vast and lofty fabric? Think first about the foundations of humility.  The higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation.” Saint Augustine

Less is more.  Prayer is better.  Build your foundation on Christ.

I do not desire greatness on this Earth.  That is not why I have a blog.  I desire to be holy and to share my love of God with others.  I have ended up doing that in a public way because the gifts God has given me have worked out that way.  I think most bloggers will tell you that we simply desire to help others and our favorite emails are from people who say, “Thank you for helping me.”

If you asked me what my day looks like in any given day, it is true that I have it all planned out but most of those blocks include big chunks of time where I’m just hanging with my kids or my family.

I say this because it is not my goal to have you read this blog and create more systems and efficiency in your life so you can BE MORE PRODUCTIVE.  I want you to create systems to so you can decrease your stress levels and find more time to just be.

I want you to stop chasing things that don’t matter.  I want you to stop getting anxious about worldly things that you don’t even have to do.

There is a huge difference for me when I’m hanging out because I’m avoiding something and I’m hanging out because I’ve taken care of enough things that I can relax with my family.  One is laziness and avoidance, the other is presence and love.

My work, being a stay-at-home-mom, is an act of worship.  It is through this job that I am learning to be more like Christ and I’m trying to honor what God has given me.  You can act like this in your mind and in your heart no matter what your job is.  If you have to go to work, find ways to be more like Christ while you’re there.  Ask yourself, “What does God want me to learn today? How can I be more like Jesus today?”

“The fundamental objective of the formation of the lay faithful is an ever-clearer discovery of one’s vocation and the ever-greater willingness to live it so as to fulfill one’s mission. …The lay faithful, in fact, are called by God so that they, led by the spirit of the Gospel, might contribute to the sanctification of the world, as from within like leaven, by fulfilling their own particular duties. Thus, especially in this way of life, resplendent in faith, hope and charity they manifest Christ to others.” – Pope John Paul II in Christifideles Laici

I am choosing to strive for sainthood in the work that I do.  I am trying to become more holy through the tasks I complete and with the people I interact with.  I am constantly working on my attitude and the state of my heart.  These are the real battlefields for my relationship to Jesus and my relationship to the world.

I know my life will change.  I know that as my children get older, we will probably have more activities that end up on our calendar.  But when we choose what to sign up our kids for, I will keep in mind that my relationship with them, my desire for them to know and love Jesus is greater than my desire for them to be successful in this world.  I will choose our activities accordingly.

I hope you take a moment and thank God today for the people in your life, for the things He has given you to take care of.  You are being a steward of a great many people while you are here on Earth working on your own holiness.  He has a plan for you.  He wants you to slow down your mind and your heart, even if you look busy on the outside, to remember to pray and to focus on how you can be more like His son, Jesus.

Spend time each day reading the bible and you will become more and more familiar with Jesus so you can work on being more like him.

“You are the salt of the earth.  You are the light of the world.  A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.  Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.” –Gospel of Matthew 5:13-14 and 16

 Blessings, 

Sterling Jaquith

P.S. One more quote!

The only true riches are those that make us rich in virtue. Therefore, if you want to be rich, beloved, love true riches. If you aspire to the heights of real honor, strive to reach the kingdom of Heaven. If you value rank and renown, hasten to be enrolled in the heavenly court of the Angels. – Pope St. Gregory the Great

Lead Your Family With Love and Compliments

episode 192

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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Last week we talked about the Motivation Equation.  Your emails were so funny and inspiring!  Yes, we have a lot of work to do while we’re on this Earth and setting our goals next to the motivation equation forces us to look at why we’re not making the progress we want to.

Today I want to talk about getting people to do what you want, specifically your kids and your spouse.  But this idea goes for anyone in your life, your co-workers, your friends, your family.

My brother just got a new springer spaniel puppy and before I got married I was a dog trainer.  His wife has been asking me questions like how do you get the dog to not jump on people and is it okay to put him in a crate?  I love answering questions about puppies and it’s been bringing back memories of the dog training school I went to and all my sweet puppy clients from the past.  It has also made realize how important the number one rule of dog training is for both training your puppy and… well… for training your children.  You get what you notice.

You can correct and discipline a dog for unwanted behaviors but the real secret to dog training is rewarding the behavior you do want.  This can feel kind of strange somethings especially when your dog is lying quietly on the ground and you say, “Good job, thank you for being so quiet.”  It’s a strange effort to praise your dog for doing… well nothing.

But he’s not doing nothing, he’s choosing to behave the way you want him to instead of barking or chewing your furniture or being a general crazy pants.

Children are the same way.  They just want your love and attention and yet all too often, we give them our best focus when we’re telling them how wrong they are.

Why did you do that?!?  That is absolutely not okay! You know better than to color on the table (yes, this recently happened with my five year old… who I really did think knew better.)

We are so quick to dive in when the rules are being broken but dogs and children are both just trying to figure out how to get on in the world.  They both want to feel loved and safe.  They’re both testing the waters to figure out how to get your attention and… the most treats that they can 😉

The good news is that we can absolutely use this to our advantage.  If we stop focusing so much on their bad behaviors and instead start rewarding the behaviors we want, we’re going to see a sharp increase in good behaviors.

And this is really true for anyone.  If you have a friend who comes over and gossips a lot, keep your facial expressions flat and as soon as she says something non-gossipy, give her a big smile and get really into the conversation.  She will begin to gossip less over time in an effort to make you happy without even realizing it.

When I learned about this in college, I tried it on some of my friends.  I told my roommate I was doing this experiment.  My company at the time was called Green Paw Studios and so I was all about the color green.  Anytime one of my friends came over to my house wearing green, I would give them genuine compliments.

“I really like that shirt you’re wearing.”

“That’s a great shade of green, it looks good on you.”

I did this for both girls and guys and guess what… eventually my friends started wearing more and more green to my house.  Now this is a completely subconscious thing.  In no way did my male friends get dressed in the morning thinking, “Oh if I wear these green shorts to Sterling’s house, she’ll compliment me.”  But there’s a subconscious inkling in your mind that makes you reach for those green clothes!

People want to be loved and accepted most of the time.  They don’t want to be nagged or punished.  This is absolutely true of your husband.  It’s so easy to see all the things our husbands DON’T do and it’s even easier to take the regular, mundane things that he does for granted.

If you want to see a change in his behavior, decide what you DO want him to do and anytime he gets even close, reward him in a big way.  For example, I really like it when my husband spends quality time with our girls.  Not distracted time when he’s fixing something in the garage and they just happen to be with him, but really solid, one-on-one, no interruptions quality time.

So whenever I see him do this, even for 3 minutes, I give him a big smile, I thank him, sometimes I even give him a big hug and a kiss in that moment or later in the day.  But I make sure that I notice his effort and praise it.

My two year old has been spilling her water lately.  I imagine it’s all a big game to her.  I haven’t seemed to find a real spill proof cup for her.  She’s old enough to simply take the top off all her glasses.  And I tried punishing her by removing the cup or giving her timeouts but it seems that either the attention I was giving her or the sweet delight in watching the water roll over the table was worth the punishment because she kept doing it.

After telling my sister-in-law about how to get her dog to stop jumping, a lightbulb went on and I thought, “Yeah, that’s how I’m going to get Poppy to stop spilling water.”

For the last three days, every time we’re at the table and I see her drink her water the correct way, I make a big deal about.  “Good job Poppy, you’re being so careful with your cup. I’m so proud of you for holding your cup like a big girl!”  It’s only been three days but I do feel like the tide is shifting and she’s starting to understand what I want.

Here are some other things I want to notice in my family:

  1. The five year old prays on her own.
  2. My husband remembers one of my favorite things (i.e. making salmon for dinner or grabbing a scent of soap I like at the store.)
  3. My girls have a positive attitude about going to Mass.
  4. My five year old picks up her room, the art room or the playroom without being asked.
  5. The two year old stops playing and goes to the bathroom without being reminded.

It’s an easy thing to try.  Make a list of a few behaviors you want to see more of in your family.  Then make an effort to praise and reward them (in a way that’s meaningful for them) so you start seeing an increase in that behavior!  It’s that simple!

I’d love to hear about what you want to notice more of.  Leave some ideas in the comments box below!

Episode 18: Four Reasons You’ve Lost Your Mojo

episode 18

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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I am an ENTJ and one of the talents I have is to see the big picture.  I can dream and see a vision in my mind of what the future could be.  I can get really excited about this vision and I can get others excited too!  I can see what’s possible whether it’s for a business, in my home, for my children or for a book I want to write.  I can easily picture what I want or where something needs to go.  That doesn’t mean I’m good at achieving these things though.  Sometimes I lack the motivation to take a shower.

Ridiculous right?  I can dream up a ten year business plan but the idea of taking off my clothes, getting my hair wet, being cold and having to pick out new clothes sounds exhausting to me.

Whether you’re tackling big dreams or little tasks, your success will come down to your motivation.  How motivated are you to get this done?  And there’s no fooling yourself about motivation.  You either have it enough to get your task done, or you don’t.

But before you beat yourself up over not being motivated enough, let’s take a look at the Motivation Equation to see if we can figure out what’s going wrong.  This is something I got from Brian Johnson who studied the work of Piers Steel, a leading psychologist in procrastination and motivation.  Here’s the motivation equation:

motivation equation clean

Let’s start by breaking down what’s on the numerator: how much you believe you can achieve this goal multiplied by how much you value this goal.  I like to look at value first.

Value: Is the thing I’m trying to accomplish really important to me?  Some things are easy to assess like my desire to be a saint in Heaven.  Yes, I absolutely want to accomplish this in my lifetime!

Some things are harder like my goal of teaching my daughter Latin.  When push comes to shove, how important is this to me really?  Do I think she can be happy without learning this?  Do I think we really need to spend the extra time doing this?  Is it going to make our family stronger?

After assessing how much I value my goal, I either scratch it off my list because I realize it’s just not that important to me or I keep it on my list and ask myself the next question.  Expectancy: Do I really believe it’s possible to achieve this goal? Whew, this can be a hard one to really ask yourself.  Often times I have to admit that no, I really don’t think I can achieve this goal.  I don’t believe I can lose 30 pounds and keep it off.  I don’t think I’ll ever have a fantastic sex life.  I don’t believe I’ll ever be able to carve out time for self-care and rest.

Now when it occurs to you that you don’t actually believe your goal is possible, you have to do one of two things.  Scratch it off the list if it truly is impossible and this happens to me often.  I am optimistic by nature, I get really excited about things and I definitely think I CAN DO IT ALL!  But there are only so many hours in a day and I can’t save everyone.  I can’t keep up many volunteer activities, write a book, take care of my kids, love my husband and keep my house clean all at the same time.  The responsible thing to do is to let something go or to acknowledge that losing four pounds a week was never really going to happen.

Or… if you want to keep your goal, maybe you just need to revise it by making it smaller and more reasonable.

Don’t feel discouraged! Remember, we are working towards building up your own trust, your self-esteem so you can have more peace and feel more contentment in your life.  This is a process! God does not want you to live your life with anxiety, guilt, frustration, anger… and the key to avoiding these things is to really understand yourself and to master yourself.  Right now we’re doing that by examining your motivation or lack thereof so we can make progress!

Okay let’s move on to the bottom part of the equation: Impulsiveness x Delay.  The first part, impulsiveness, is about how distracted you are while trying to reach your goal.  When I mention teaching my daughter Latin, sure it seems like a good idea but I if other things always get in the way (i.e. other subjects, outside time, I’m just too tired to teach it etc.) then my impulsiveness related to this goal is too high.

If you were diagnosed with cancer and you had to get chemo treatments, do you think a friend calling you to hang out for lunch would get in your way?  No, of course not.  Your motivation would be high and your impulsiveness, letting something get in the way of your treatments, would be very low.

If I have looked at the top half of the equation and determined that something was really important to me and that I believed I could achieve it, I take a look at what impulsive behavior is getting in the way.  There was a time when I kept my iPhone with me all day long and I would let it interrupt me.  Whether it was pinging from a notification or whether I was compulsively checking for updates, it would distract me from my important work.

This was an example of how I knew I wanted something so I had to identify what was getting in my way.  The solution was to put my phone upstairs with my charger and to leave it alone for hours at a time.  All of a sudden my focus was better and I was getting more things done!

Next up, delay: this is about how long it will take you to reach your goal.  If your goal is 20 years away, it’s tough to keep your motivation up for the day-to-day stuff right now.  The best thing to decrease this number (and you need to decrease the delay if you want to up your motivation) is to break up your goal into smaller goals.

If you need to lose 50 lbs., work really hard to focus on the next five.  Pick a small reward to give yourself when you accomplish it. If you want to be debt free, pick your smallest debt and post it in your office.  You can hit that goal much faster than paying off everything you owe.  If even that is too big, then just work toward paying off $100 at a time!

The smaller your goal, the faster you’ll reach it.  This will build trust up within yourself and give you motivation to keep moving forward and achieving more of your goals!  Goals should always be measurable so you should always be able to cut them down into smaller bites!  If it’s not measureable, that’s another problem and you need to work on being able to track your progress in some quantifiable way.

So that’s the Motivation Equation.  If you’re lacking motivation to get something done, check in with these four things and see which one needs tweaking.  I do this all the time.  I’m constantly reviewing my goals or my To Do list and asking myself, “Why don’t I feel motivated to get this done?”  Usually I just need an attitude check and to remind myself that it is really Valuable to me and that I do Expect to achieve it.

When something is important to you, you’ll move mountains to get it done!

Episode 17: Does the Devil Hate Chocolate Chips?

episode 17

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

Two Sundays ago, I made a promise to God.

“Lord,” I said.  “I’m going to give up eating chocolate chips for you.  I know I eat them when I’m stressed and I know that I need to turn to you instead.  Maybe you’re trying to speak to me but I can’t hear you over the chocolate chip crunching sound in my ears.  Lord, I’m going to give up eating chocolate chips for you.”

Now I don’t about you but when I make extra sacrifices for God, I sometimes envision that He will shower fabulous things on me every day.  Maybe all the kids will nap at the same time.  Maybe my husband will come home early from work.  Maybe I’ll have a joyful feeling like sunshine inside my heart!

So it was with great anticipation that I woke up on Monday: day one of no chocolate chips, thinking today is going to be awesome!  Approximately 45 minutes later, my five year old threw up on me.  I won’t add details to this story or the ensuing flu related things that happened for the whole rest of the day… but it was bad.

I resisted the urge to eat chocolate chips at naptime though a voice in my head practically screamed, “You really deserve them today!”

Tuesday, in the late afternoon, after being cooped up in the house for almost two whole days with three small children, we decided to go for a walk around the block.  The sun was shining and my two year old asked so nicely that even though I didn’t want to go outside (because I’m a really lazy mom) I thought, “Yeah, I’m gonna be an awesome mom and I’m going to take them all for a walk!”

It’s true we were only going around the block and even though it’s a big block, it wasn’t an epically long walk.  Still, both my two year old AND my five year old managed to trip on their own feet and smash their faces in the concrete emerging bloody and screaming.  Thankfully there were no broken teeth but pretty banged up hands and faces and lots of crying all the way home.

Thanks for nothing!  Why do I even bother going outside?  Why is it that when I try to be a “GOOD MOM” it always goes wrong and I wish I hadn’t even tried?

I experienced plenty of negative self-talk that afternoon but I did not, no I did not… turn to the glorious, melt-in-your mouth dark chocolate chips in my cupboard.

Come Wednesday, everyone was feeling better and then BOOM, I got my period.  I’m on some weird postpartum, breastfeeding cycles so it comes around every 45 days.  And I’m not sure medically what’s going on but when my period finally does come, it’s a WHOPPER.  Ladies, I was down.  I was in bed, tears, cramping… it was awful.

Then finally on Friday, my husband and I got some bad news about the business we’re trying to buy.  We had lined up financing and everything was humming along well when one of the banks we were working with said that they misfiled our paperwork and it’d take an extra three weeks to close.  This was a big blow because it means we can’t officially buy the business, or start working on it until three weeks later than we had expected.

And in the end, none of these things are really that big of a deal.  None of them were life or death.  These are just average things that pop up in any given week.  Yes, it was a particularly yucky week but at the end of it, I realized I was mostly upset by my lack of control.

I couldn’t stop my girls from getting scraped up on the sidewalk.  That’s just part of childhood.  I couldn’t stop my period for coming.  I’m blessed to still have my fertility. Yes, we had a pukey day but it was only one day.  Some illnesses last for a lifetime.  Our new chapter as business owners is going to start later than we thought, but we can move a few things around and deal with this change.

I think we have this illusion that we have any sort of control over our lives.  It’s why we get so ruffled when unexpected things happen.  We feel like we’re spinning out of control.  But even that phrase suggests that we actually had control at some point.  But the truth is, we never do.

God is in control.  He gives and He takes away and both those things can happen at any time.  The most unexpected joy and pain can come into our lives at any moment. And we may think we have a solution.  We may have come up with ways to cope.  But any way that is based on Christ or our great Catholic faith, will ultimately fail us.

Chocolate chips won’t bring me lasting peace.  Numbing myself with television won’t change my To Do list in the morning.  Buying new clothes, compulsively acquiring new books when I haven’t read the ones I have, even looking for new homeschooling curriculum can be a way of distracting myself and not coping with my life.

There is no way except Christ.  He is the only path to finding true peace.  If you must have control over something, have control over your relationship with Him.  Pray more.  Read your bible more. Go to Mass more. Confess your sins. Ask for forgiveness.  Pray even more.

When I was going through this awful week, I kept thinking that the devil must have heard my promise to God and done everything in his power to make my break my promise.  You see, he hates it when we turn our attention to God and give Him all our good works.  So it made sense to me that the devil would up his game and try to distract me and trick me into thinking that I really did DESERVE those chocolate chips.

Then I thought about God and all the times in the bible that He tests people’s love for Him.  Do you love me now?

He takes and takes and takes away things that we love and still asks, “Do you love me now?”

Eventually I got to the place where I realized that whether or not this awful and strange week was the devil trying to trick me or God testing me… my response would be the same.  My promise would be upheld, my eyes would be fixed on Christ.  That was the point of my whole “kick this chocolate chip habit” anyway.  I wanted to feel the real pain of worldly anxiety and to give it up to Jesus.

If you’re struggling to let go of your worldly stress relievers, I recommend spending more time with God.  Here are some ways to do that.

I’m praying for you to have a great week that draws you closer to Christ.  Sometimes that means a week full of sunshine and sometimes it means being challenged in ways you hadn’t thought of yet 😉