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 21: Measuring Our Marriage

Episode 21: Measuring Our Marriage

Episode 21

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!


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

episode 20

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

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

Lead Your Family With Love and Compliments

episode 192

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

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: 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: Does the Devil Hate Chocolate Chips?

episode 17

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

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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 😉

Episode 16:  Surviving Toddlerland – From Fight or Flight to Pause and Plan

Episode 16: Surviving Toddlerland – From Fight or Flight to Pause and Plan

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls Podcast:

Scroll down and read it as a blog post!

I don’t know how many of you have mornings like this.  I sure do.  The ones when the noise of your children is what first wakes you up.  You close your eyes and you think maybe the kids will be okay for a little bit.  But soon the sounds of things crashing or children arguing pull you out of bed.  It’s time to be a mom now.

As the day moves on, you’re pulled from one thing to the next. There’s breakfast and school and chores.  The baby has to be fed.  The kids need help with their clothes. You’re trying to remember what needs to be done today.

Drop that off at UPS. 

Scheduled phone call later. 

What are you going to make for dinner?

As you’re scrambling to get things done, you’re constantly interrupted.  Someone falls on the sidewalk and skins their knee.  Someone runs into wall.  The two year old can’t get her sweatshirt off.  Then lunch and naptime and more baby feeding.  The day is filled with tears, happy screams, questions, hunger, fighting and laughter.

As a mom living in the trenches of Toddlerland, you have a choice about how you’re going to react to each of these moments.

You can choose to be at the mercy of your day, acting surprised by all of these interruptions and situations or you can accept that for the foreseeable future, ALL your days will be filled with these same interruptions and situations.

If you continue to wake up thinking the day will go off without a hitch, you most likely will be holding your breath for most of the day.  You are in reaction mode. You will take shallow breaths until eventually your body forces you to take a big sigh just to get some oxygen. If this sounds like your typical day, you are likely living in your Fight or Flight response state.

Humans weren’t designed to perpetually live in a Fight or Flight state. This was reserved for… well…being chased by a lion.  When we experience a Fight or Flight response, our body’s hormones get out of whack.  We produce too much adrenaline, our blood pressure goes up, our breathing is rapid or non-existant.  And this is great… if we’re being chased by a lion.

But for most of us, living in Toddlerland is the cause of our stress and we’re remaining in this state for far too long.  It’s doing damage to our body, this constant rushing from one thing to another, barely breathing and wearing ourselves out.

In Kelly McGonigal’s book, The Willpower Instinct, she talks about how bad the flight or fight state is for us to be in all the time and how we can move out of that and into a Pause and Plan state.  The answer is really very simple: breathing.  When you feel yourself getting stressed, drowning in a sea of toddler tears and sibling fights and the constant pull of things that must be done on time, take a moment and breathe.

When you’re feeling stressed and your chest is tightening…. Take a moment and breathe in for the count of six, hold your breath for two seconds and then breathe out for seven seconds.  I totally blew it the first and second and third time I tried this but eventually I figured out how to slow down my breath this much.

I’ve been doing this all throughout my day. Yes, even when my kids are actively crying and it’s really helped me.  I also repeat in my mind, “Pause and Plan, Peter.”  I tack on the Peter at the end because I realize that in these moments when I’m stressed, I’m like Peter on the water and as soon as I take my eyes off Jesus, I begin to sink.  Breathing is important but it’s also important to remember, Jesus did not intend for you to walk around all day at the peak of your stress levels.  He wants you to have a peaceful life and you absolutely can have a peaceful life even amidst the chaos and noisiness of Toddlerland.

I am trying to train my body to not give into the stress around me.  I can choose how I respond.  I don’t need to rise to every occasion.

So how’s it been going? I’ll tell you… it’s been great!  I’ve been much calmer during the day, I’ve been less stressed by the time we make it to the evening and I’ve been feeling like a better mom, a mom who has more control.

At the end of the day, I want to be a good mom.  I want to be a loving mom and I want to raise my kids up as strong Catholics.  I want them to have their own strong willpower and one of the best ways to teach them that is to work on my own willpower. I don’t want them to be at the mercy of their feelings.  Feelings will always pop up but we get to CHOOSE if we want to indulge in those feelings or just acknowledge them and move on.

It’s difficult to make good decisions when you’re stressed and when you’re existing in that fight or flight situation.  That’s when I tend to yell as a mom or let the kids walk all over me.

Instead, I’m trying to take a breath, “Pause and Plan Peter” and then the last thing I do to control the situation is something I learned from my mom.  In her car, she has a sticky note that says “Breathing in his grace, breathing out His praise.”  I think it came from a song.  But wherever that phrase came from, it’s a great way to help you refocus on what’s important.  Jesus is ready to give you His grace right now.  And all he wants from you is to praise Him.

Praise Him for your noisy fighting toddlers.  Praise Him for your messy sink.  Praise Him for aspect of your life because it really is truly amazing that we’re alive.

Breathe, don’t be like Peter, keep your eyes fixed on Christ and then make a plan to tackle your day…. Or at least the next five minutes so you’re not just reacting out of your fight or flight state.

I hope this helps you ladies.  I hope you can practice this.  It will take some time to get used to breathing the right way and not letting your feelings get the best of you.  But I promise, if you can work on this, if you can master your willpower in this area, you’re going to get a whole lot closer to the kind of mom you want to be.

How To Talk To Someone Who Is Pro-Choice

How To Talk To Someone Who Is Pro-Choice

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NOTE: Please be kind to me.  I’m not suggesting you can talk to everyone this way.  I’m simply writing down what I WISH someone would have said to me when I was young, in college and pro-choice.  I’m not trying to speak for all people or to all people.  I haven’t recorded this podcast yet.  I will tonight and you’ll have it Friday morning!

I hope you enjoyed my last article about Why I Changed My Mind About Abortion.  At the very least, I hope you learned something or maybe softened your heart toward pro-choice people in your life.  Today I want to talk about how to talk to someone who is pro-choice.

Let me start out by saying, it is a rare occurrence to change the mind of a person in one conversation at the moment you’re speaking with them.  I believe it is much better to view your conversations as the planting of seeds.  You want to start knocking down their false ideas and planting seeds of truth.  In time, those seeds will grow.  You may not even know this person by the time they fully come around to changing their mind.

Don’t let pride get in the way of our true mission.  We want to save unborn babies.  We should not want to be right or to be the hero that brought another person to the pro-life side.  There’s a huge difference in motivation here and that will show through your words.

People do not respond well to being forced.  If you have a person in your life who is pro-choice, don’t bully them into having a conversation with you.  Your relationship will suffer and you likely won’t make any progress on this issue.  Don’t let the weight of abortion pressure someone into listening to you.  It won’t work.

Now, it is a completely different situation if you know someone who is pregnant and who wants to get an abortion.  Then I think you should rally the troops and do what you can to help this woman and her baby.  And I mean really help her.  Where is she going to live? How is she going to work? Can you help connect her with an adoption agency? Can you take her to appointments? Do whatever you can to get her an ultrasound so she can see her baby.

For most people, having to speak about a heated topic creates a fight or flight reaction in them.  Once they sense danger, their fists go up or they are ready to run from the room.  Your job is to always keep the conversation calm and filled with love so you never get to this point.  Here are some good phrases to use:

“I know we disagree about this but if you want, I can explain how I came to be pro-life. We don’t need to argue about it, but I’d be happy to share my own story.” 

“Let me throw out a few questions.  You don’t need to answer them.  I just want you to think about them at a different time.”

Some people enjoy having a heated discussion and debating topics. But whether you like a good debate or not, you should firmly know why you are pro-life.  If you also have come about your opinion because it’s what everyone around you has always said was right like I did when I was younger, I would suggest you do your own research and determine why precisely you believe abortion is wrong and what you think we can do about it.

Though Provoking Questions to Ask Someone Who Is Pro-Choice

  1. Do you think third trimester abortions should be allowed? Follow this up with second trimester abortions.  Then ask, “What about the day before?”  Try to get them to see that any time chosen would be arbitrarily.To me, this is the most important conversation to have.  You MUST establish that the baby is a life to be protected.  If they keep insisting that it’s not alive or that the life doesn’t matter, all the remaining arguments won’t matter as much to them.
  2. If there was always free health care, free counseling and someone to adopt a woman’s baby, do you think we could get rid of abortion then?  For many pro-choice believers, their main concern is safety.  They think of back alley abortions putting women at risk.  If we had public services to assist these women, those concerns would go away.  With all the money used to campaign both for pro-life and pro-choice, we could create hundreds of centers to help women.
  3. Most arguments about why we should allow women to get abortions sound ridiculous if you replace abortion with slavery.  “Well I wouldn’t have slaves but I think that person should be able to choose.”  Be careful, if you say this in a flippant way, the person will think you’re calling them dumb because almost no one believes slavery is okay.  But the point should be gently made.  Just because people get to run their own life, there are some things they should not be allowed to choose.  Again, if they don’t think the fetus is a baby, this argument breaks down.
  4. Risk is not a reason to allow people to make their own rules.  Yes, some people will probably still get illegal abortions.  That is a risk of making abortion illegal. Many people still do illegal drugs even though it’s not good for them and there are laws against it.  We can’t avoid making laws because it puts the people who don’t follow them at risk.

I know these questions aren’t comprehensive.  I know it may only work on a small percentage of pro-choicers who think like I used to think.  But I wanted to give you hope.  You can change someone’s mind.  You can treat them with kindness and love.  You can work hard to understand their objections and then slowly show them how you too want the best for women and that abortion is never best.  Be patient. Be understanding.

Here is an article that tackles a lot more objections and responses.  39 Major Pro-Choice Arguments and Their Refutations. In my experience, most of these would never have come up between me and my pro-choice friends.  But it’s good to read this comprehensive list in case you do encounter someone who genuinely believes any of these facts.

Episode 15: Why I Changed My View About Abortion

Episode 15: Why I Changed My View About Abortion

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

NOTE: I’m going to write most of this as if I’m the 20-something liberal college student who I was.  I am now FIRMLY pro-life for many good and true reasons but I want to give you a glimpse into what some pro-choicers are thinking and how you can reach them.  When I say things like, “It’s not a baby, it’s a clump of cells,” recognize that I DON’T  think that, but I did and it’s important to understand why I changed my mind.

I grew up in liberal Portland, OR and went to college in liberal Seattle, WA where most young people think, “You do what’s right for you and I’ll do what’s right for me.”  With this attitude there is a danger of thinking that in order to help everyone belong, we must accept everyone as they are and there is no wrong answer out there.  But for most of us, we never sensed that danger, we thought we were loving PEOPLE.

 Love who you want.  

Watch porn, it’s not hurting anyone. 

Women are the same as men.

It’s my body, I can do what I want. 

No one ever questioned me about this.  It was we “ALL” thought. Not only do many young, liberals think this way but they are PROUD of it!  For most pro-life people, this is unfathomable.  How can you condone the death of millions of babies? Well it’s easy, we don’t think it’s the death of a baby.  We see the person right in front of us instead of the tiny “clump of cells” that’s inside of her.

The good news is, in my experience, pro-choicers are usually pro-choice because they love people.  This is so great.  This means we can reach them.  So hold on to that hope and keep reading.

Yes, babies in the womb are human beings, but so what. – Abortion Activist Mary Elizabeth Williams

Many pro-life people find the most offensive quotes they can and splash them on billboards and the the internet to prove how really awful pro-choice people are.  But this would just cause me to give a big eye roll and move on. No one is really moved by extremists who sound crazy.  None of my kind and loving pro-choice friends ever said things like this.  They never used harsh language or sounded indifferent to the gravity of the situation.

Instead, they were always concerned with the woman who was actually pregnant.  And let’s be honest, if a woman is raped and you had to go into her hospital room and tell her she was pregnant and had to carry this baby to term… that’s some heavy stuff.  That’s a tough conversation.  Most people don’t want to leave their comfort zone to think about that scene.  Instead we say, “Oh just let her choose,” as if it eases the situation.

And for most pro-choice people, THIS is the situation that bubbles up for them. It’s why so many say, “Well I would never have an abortion but I don’t think I have the right to tell someone else what to do.”

Again this is borne from love.

I have not met one single person who thinks it’s okay to just keep having abortion after abortion like it’s some oops kind of birth control. I know there are pro-choice advocates who scream and rant offensive and nonsensical things but again, I have never actually met one or had a conversation with one.

Our tactics must change if we are to reach the majority of the pro-choicers.  Here are five things I think pro-life people need to stop doing if they want to change the mind of a pro-choice person like I was:

1. Stop talking about how the baby is a baby right after conception.  They DON’T believe this yet so you’re wasting your breath.  Be friends, build trust.  When you start arguing here, you sound like a Vegan who is utterly shocked that you would even consider eating butter like it’s a great crime.  Of course veganism and abortion are completely different, but to a pro-choice person, you probably sound the same.

2. Stop using extreme language.  My husband once said to me, “So do you think it’d be fine to kill a two year old then?”  I was so offended.  He used some extreme example of a person who did think that you should be able to kill your children, even after they’re born and tried to make me feel bad for thinking a first term abortion was okay.  But this comment shut down our conversation, it broke our trust and significantly lessened his chance of ever making progress with me on this topic. It was as if he was calling me dumb right to my face.  Who wants to talk someone who thinks you’re in idiot?

3. Stop using graphic images. They are pro-choice, they believe someone should have the right to have an abortion.  Most of them are not confused about what a fetus looks like.  When you hold a sign up with a bloody baby, this does not make them think, “Oh you’re right, it’s not just a clump of cells, I change my mind.” They roll their eyes and think, “Yep, those people are crazy and that’s why I’m pro-choice.”

NOTE: I do actually believe using ultrasounds to show pregnant mothers their own baby is one of the most powerful ways to change their minds about abortion.  I think we should put some significant funding behind getting ultrasounds in pregnancy centers for this reason.

4. Stop posting ridiculous death rates.  Comparing the abortion death rate to the holocaust or the civil war or to cancer… is meaningless.  If they don’t consider these babies to be alive, they don’t consider their death toll.  You might as well say, “Let’s boycott this movie because it killed MILLIONS of ants in the production.”  Well, yeah, but who cares?  If they don’t think they are babies, these numbers don’t move them and really it just makes them think pro-lifers are just stooping to cheap tactics.

5. Stop treating the pro-choice person you’re talking to like he or she is dumb.  Very few people think of themselves as dumb.  Let’s be honest, most of us are not deeply educated these days.  Our beliefs are made up of many soundbites and group held opinions.   I know, this isn’t true of everyone, but I don’t think most people could give you a really educated answer about why they are a democrat or a republican.  This is often the same with their stance on abortion.  They think they know why they feel strongly but at the end of the day, they haven’t done any real research on it.  Not being educated about a topic is not the same thing as being dumb.  You will shut down the conversation if you treat them like a child.

So what finally worked for me?  Well it shouldn’t be a surprise… love.  I do love people.  I do think babies are precious.  So when my husband asked me if I thought third term abortions were okay, I had to admit that I really didn’t.  If you found yourself suddenly and unexpectedly pregnant, wouldn’t you have an abortion right away?

To me, this captured those extreme situations of rape or being forced to get pregnant somehow when you really didn’t want to.  And if that was the case, you wouldn’t let this baby grow inside of you for 6 months before deciding you didn’t want the baby.  I really saw no reason to justify a third trimester abortion.  Babies who are born in the third trimester can absolutely live so if you let it get that far, why wouldn’t you just have the baby and give it up for adoption?

So then he asked me, well what about a second trimester abortion?  And I had to think about that a little more.  Well… I hear that some people genuinely don’t know they’re pregnant for three months.  In fact I have a friend who didn’t know she was pregnant until 11 weeks!  She was breastfeeding her youngest and simply didn’t know or feel pregnant.  Now, her and her husband were wanting another baby so the discovery was filled with joy but this situation does happen.  Some people genuinely don’t know for a long time.

So then I thought, well maybe it’s okay up to 20 weeks.  See how I arbitrarily picked that time? By now, you can see that my personal belief is starting unravel.  My husband pushed further.  Okay, so we now say that abortions are okay up to 20 weeks.  What about the day before?  What is different about the day before?

And that was it for me.  “What is different about the day before?” If I don’t believe you should kill a two year old and I don’t believe you should kill a third trimester baby who could easily survive being born… what about the day before? That’s when I realized that no matter what law is passed, the point at which an abortion is legal will always arbitrary.  Someone is going to make up a number and then draw that as a hard line.  This is a human life after the line but not before.  It doesn’t make sense.

This is how I changed my mind about abortion.  On Thursday I’m going to post the second part of this article which is What TO Say to a Pro-Choicer including how to refute common objections.  Stay tuned!

Episode 14: Striving For Sainthood is Never Neutral

Episode 14: Striving For Sainthood is Never Neutral

QUICK UPDATE: I’m going to be releasing the newest episode of Coffee & Pearls on Tuesdays instead of Mondays.  As I’ve stopped working on Sunday and stopped using electronics after 7 p.m., I found I really want Monday to put the finishing touches on my work!  So you can all expect awesome inspiration coming every Tuesday from the Coffee & Pearls Podcast!

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the lies we tell ourselves.  Sometimes I suggest that it’s really the devil whispering lies into my ear, and yes, this happens too but I have to be honest, sometimes the lies bouncing around my head really do come from me and no one else.

I think one of the biggest lies I tell myself is that my lazy behavior or my mindless consumption of…. anything (food, television, shopping, books etc.)… that this doesn’t matter.  But that is a lie.

Everything we do matters.  Absolutely every choice we make and every action we take is either moving us toward becoming the best version of ourselves or away from it.  Period.

As we strive for sainthood, there are no neutral actions.  Nothing falls into the category of “this doesn’t matter.” Everything is helping you become a better person or not.

As I’ve been chewing on this idea, it’s really become a lot harder to ignore some of my bad habits.  We all have bad habits, both big and small.  We are all addicted to different aspects of the world.  Stop beating yourself up over that, that’s normal.  We’re human and our flesh makes us desire broken things.

The danger is pretending these habits aren’t a problem.  The danger is in telling ourselves that, “Eating these cookies isn’t that big of a deal.  Facebook isn’t that bad, there’s a lot of good that comes out of it.  Sure I go shopping but I buy at thrift stores so it’s okay.”

Now… are cookies, Facebook and thrift store shopping bad things?  That depends.  When YOU do them are you becoming the best version of yourself or are you becoming a worse version of yourself?  Personally, I can do all three of those things in a healthy way and I can do all three of those things in a self-destructive way.

THE COOKIES

When I inhale 10 cookies at 3:30 while the crying chaos of my toddlerland household is making me anxious… that’s bad.

When I choose to sit my girls up at the kitchen counter and teach them how to bake cookies with love and joy and we share some with our neighbors… that’s good.

THE FACEBOOK

When I refresh my Facebook account 50+ times per day and yes, I’m sure it’s at least that many times on a bad day… when my heart feels a little sad when there are no red notifications or new messages… that’s bad.

When I sit down to purposefully post positive and uplifting things and check in on my valued friendships or read some God affirming articles and then leave after an appropriate time to do something else on my schedules… that’s good.

THE SHOPPING

I have been pregnant a lot.  My body is like an accordion moving in and out of many different sizes.  There are times when I have a genuine need for “new” clothing or pieces to get me through to the next size.  Sometimes I wear holes in my shoes and I need one new pair.  When I shop for genuine needs and I work hard to find pieces that are on sale, used or a good price for something I’ll use for a very long time… this is good.

When I need to leave the house and I’m bored or frustrated and looking for a way to escape… this is obvious because I’m scanning aisles searching for something to buy, hoping to be inspired and feel a “pick me up” by purchasing something with no care for whether I actually need it or not… this is bad.

You’re On Your Own

The very nature of these choices is personal.  For most of us, many of these activities are not black and white.  It is not obvious on the outside whether another person’s coffee in take is actually an addiction or a mom’s compulsive crafting/baking stops being about love and ends up being a bitter escape.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what anyone else things.  You alone are accountable to God for your life.

If you want to become a saint in Heaven, and I truly believe this should be the number one goal of every person on earth… if you want to become the most Holy version of yourself… you need to stop pretending like your actions are neutral.  They are not.

All your actions are moving you toward sainthood or away from it.

The bad news is, like me, you probably have dozens of little things you could cut out of your life and that might feel overwhelming.

The good news is, we have Jesus, Mary and all the saints to lean on and pray to for inspiration and strength.

The bar is high for being a good Catholic but we also have more rock solid tools than any other religion to help us realize this deep holiness we are all called to.

TAKE ACTION

Draw a line down a piece of paper.  On one side, put all the actions that help you become a better version of yourself.  On the other side, put all the options that make you turn away from becoming the best version of yourself.

Pick one thing this week to work on, just one.  You don’t have to overhaul your life right away.  Take a deep breath and pick one habit that you want to minimize or eliminate.  Pray to God for help and ask that He give you strength to let it go and that He help you find fulfilment in something more worthy.

Episode 13: Bitterness Ruins My Sex Life

Episode 13: Bitterness Ruins My Sex Life

episode 13

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

I know… talking about sex is a touchy subject.  But that’s one of the reasons it’s such a difficult part of our lives.  If I’m struggling with any other part of my life, I can chat about it with my girlfriends.

“My three year old is being rude to me, how do you deal with that?” 

“I crave ice cream at night, what do you do for a healthy late night fix?”

“My mind wanders when I pray my rosary, how do you work on this?”

We lean on each other and we need to.  God created us to live in community and to support one another.  Being a human is hard!  We need Jesus and friends to make it through.  Well… we really only need Jesus but friends make it so much more bearable!  So I’m throwing this out there to the internet because I wish it was something someone had told me.

Bitterness can ruin your sex life.  

For most of us Catholic moms, having lots of little children or struggling with infertility and practicing Natural Family Planning can really put a damper on one’s sex life.  All of a sudden spontaneity is out the window and it’s more like, “Are we in Phase III, do you have a headache, did anyone poop on you today…” which is spouse talk for, “Do I have a chance to get lucky tonight?”

And it’s not just husbands who miss the way it used to be.  Wives miss it too!

I wish I had lots of energy, I wish I felt sexy at the end of the day, I wish my cycle didn’t comeback at 6 weeks postpartum…

Recently my husband said, “Honey, I think your bitterness is ruining your chances for having a good time.”  And anytime my husband says something like this to me, I feel the urge to stomp my feet, declare him absolutely wrong and pout about how much he “doesn’t get me.”  Fortunately, five years of marriage begins to temper your reactions and teach you that maybe your spouse does know a thing or two about you.  In fact, I’m pretty sure God designed marriage to be one gigantic mirror.

My husband sees me everyday so it’s not surprising that he does know me (and my bad habits) pretty well.  I’ve learned to listen calmly and consider what he says thoughtfully. Now, I may need some time to process what he says by myself or to calm down and sort through the emotions that bubble up when he gentle challenges me about some aspect about myself but ultimately, I usually come around to thinking, “Yeah, he has a point.  I think he’s right and I should work on that.”

So when he suggested that I seemed a little more bitter lately about our sex life and that it was perhaps ruining my chances for having a good one, I sought to examine that.  I had to admit that I did feel bitter.  I felt trapped.  I know how important sex is to a marriage and especially to how my husband feels loved.  And I really do love that guy so much!  But then there are all these obstacles in the way… kids… wonky cycles… a bad case of vaginismus after this last baby.  I can’t drink wine anymore (C’mon God… that one hurts a lot!)

I found myself feeling bitter that when the planets align, we might have an opportunity to have sex and at that point, it almost doesn’t matter how I feel because it comes up so infrequently that I feel like I ought to do it.  Let me be clear, my husband NEVER forces me to have sex.  He doesn’t even give me a big guilt trip about it, which is rather remarkable.  I do this totally to myself.  I feel bad, especially postpartum, when we only get small windows for intimacy amidst larger spans of uncertainty and abstinence.

So here’s kind of how my thought process was going….

“Okay… we’re in Phase III, we can have sex today… maybe I’ll take a bath tonight to relax… nah, the baby is always fussy at night and I can hear her crying from the bath so it’s not relaxing… maybe after she finally goes to sleep… yeah but then I’m so tired, I hate having sex when I’m exhausted… why is this so hard…. why can’t it just be fun and spontaneous like it used to be… where has that spark gone… who gets excited when you have to schedule your intimate life…why did God design marriage to be like this… I shouldn’t have to have sex when I don’t feel like it…. why can he get excited to have sex in 2.3 seconds no matter what else is happening… it’s not fair…”

And so my pity party goes.  It gets worse if it’s been a hard day in any way (I had to clean toilets, one of the kids peed on me, there were more than 10 tantrums… etc.)

But wow, as I look at those thoughts… they sure do smack of bitterness.  I realize that I’m stealing my own joy.  I’m robbing myself of any chance of having a good time.

Instead, I could choose to have a positive outlook.  

“YAY, we’re in Phase III! My poor husband has been a rock star these last thirteen days, I can’t wait to show him how much I love and appreciate him.  I’ll take a bath and put music on so if the baby is fussy, I can’t hear her.  Maybe I’ll use a bath bomb… that always makes me feel special…I’ll light some candles in our room to make it feel new and different… yeah, let’s do this!”

Okay, commence eye rolling.  I know! I sound like a pathetic cheerleader having to psyche myself up to have a good time but you know what, that’s exactly what I have to do.  And somewhere along this “fake it to you make it” train, I start to actually feel excited.  By choosing the positive thoughts, I’m at the very least keeping out the bitter ones and at best actually starting to feel anticipation and warm tinglies.

And at the end of the day, for me, this is marriage.  This is sacrifice.  Instead of dwelling on the perfect night that we probably only get 2 times per year, instead of focusing only on what I want at the expense of having any sex at all, instead of acting like it’s unfair that a man has dedicated his life to loving me and actually wants to have sex with me… I can choose joy.

I can choose to be grateful.  I can choose to squash feelings of bitterness and just say, “Hey bad feelings… get outta here… there’s no place for you inside my head.”

I imagine I’ll be working on my marriage for my whole life so I imagine we’ll always been working on our sex life too.  I wish it was easier to figure it out but I understand why it’s not something we talk about.  Our sex lives are so personal.  Our situations are so different.

And it’s private.  Intimacy between a husband a wife should be private.  I asked my husband to read this before I posted it to make sure he was okay with my sharing this much about us.  But letting go of my bitterness has been so helpful for me and I thought, you know, it just may be helpful for some other mama with little kids.

So there it is.  I’m just tossing it out there.  I hope it helps someone. I wish you all happy marriages and rockin’ sex lives.

P.S. If you want to read some books to help your marriage, here are some I recommend:

The Sinner’s Guide to Natural Family Planning by Simcha Fischer

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

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

Episode 12: A Catholic Guide to Goal Setting

Episode 12: A Catholic Guide to Goal Setting

photo-1415243931302-9eb5b22247f2

 

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls podcast:

Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

I really enjoy reading self-improvement books.  Because I have the type of personality that gets excited about something and then easily moves on, I find that I need these types of books to help me refocus on what’s important.

One thing I often find lacking in these books, however, is anything about faith.  They will talk about career success, health, finances and maybe even family relationships but there is little said of one’s relationship with God.  When I first converted to Catholicism, it took me a little time to marry these two worlds of mine: my love of goal setting and my new found love of Christ.  Now I’m very comfortable with my process and I thought this year I would share it with all of you.

My husband and I do our goal setting exercises separately and then we come together to share our goals and create goals for our family.  But the first thing we always do is to pray.  Here is a prayer you can say before you dive into goal setting this year.

“Lord, please open my mind and my heart so I may desire the plan you have for my life.  Not my will be done Lord but yours.  Please guide my thoughts to always put you first and to remember my life’s most important goal is to become a saint in Heaven.  Help me lay the pathway for that prize by choosing these goals today.”

First, these two articles by Michael Hyatt are great introductions to goal setting.  If you have never set goals, I’d pause and take 10 minutes to read these:

Beginner’s Guide to Goal Setting

How NOT to Make New Year’s Resolutions

If you are comfortable with the idea of goal setting, move on and find out how I recommend doing it so it’s easy and simple!

Step One: Imagine The Future 

Grab a piece of paper.  Write out THE FUTURE at the top.  Then start to dream about your life.  How far out is up to you.  I try to picture 10 years ahead when I feel I will probably be done having children and living in a new chapter of my life without babies.  Then I also try to picture 20+ years ahead when my children are grown.  I think of those two “chapters” in my life and a make a list of hopes I have for that time.  Some examples include: becoming debt free, being healthy enough to go hiking/camping with my children and grandchildren, having written a book, joining a lay order, walking the Camino de Santiago, being able to support my parents as they get older, having a playful marriage with my husband.

This exercise is not precise.  I do not apply the idea of S.M.A.R.T. goals here.  I just try to paint a picture of what I want things to look like in the future so I know what I’m fighting for.  Since having kids, I know that there is no way to REALLY know what I’m going to be doing or even what I’ll want 10 or 20 years from now.  But right now I can dream a little, focus on what’s important and then keep these things in mind as I make my more short-term goals.

NOTE: You may want to do this for five years out or two years out if you’ll be moving into a different chapter of your life (i.e. graduating from school, having a baby, moving out of state etc.)

Step Two: One Year From Today

Who do you want to be one year from today?  Close your eyes and picture yourself.  What do you look like?  Are you filled with peace? Where do you live? Is there peace in your home? What have you accomplished in 2016?

Jot down some words or phrases to describe the following areas of your life:

  • Spirituality
  • Marriage
  • Motherhood
  • Other Vocation (work or volunteering)
  • Health
  • Finances
  • Your Home
  • Relationships: Extended Family and Friends
  • Rest (Hobbies, ways to unplug, vacations etc.)

After looking at the words or phrases I’ve chosen, I write down a S.M.A.R.T. goal for each section.  The goal may be big or small.  After I’m done, I look at the total list and I circle the top three which are GAME CHANGERS.  If I just did three things, which would have the most impact on my life? These will be my Main Goals.

I make my Main Goals the focus for my year.  The other goals I still keep written down and I still pay attention to them but I know that they are secondary, these are my Minor Goals.  For example, I will not focus more on learning how to knit if it keeps me from paying down debt.  I can still probably accomplish both, and a year is a long time, but we can’t have it all and now is the time to really prioritize.

I also don’t always choose a spiritual goal as one of my top three goals even though my overall life goal is to become a saint in Heaven.  I find that because this desire is so strong in me, I’m pretty good about prayer routines, reading religious books and growing in my spirituality naturally.  I find that it’s much harder for me to make progress in my health and my marriage so those are often in my top three big goals.

Step Three: Create a Manifesto

Type up your Major Goals and your Minor Goals on a piece of paper in the present tense as if you’ve become this new version of yourself or as if you’ve already accomplished a specific goal in 2016.  You can add back in some of your words from above too.  This doesn’t have to be specific like S.M.A.R.T. goals.

I weigh 135 pounds.  I have paid off $5,000 of debt.  I enjoy a weekly date night with my husband.  I spend 30 minutes reading out loud to my children every night.  I ran a 5k race in 2016.  My home is peaceful.  I go to Adoration weekly.  I go to confession monthly.

Put a pretty frame around it.  Use a font you love.  Make this a beautiful piece of paper.  Then hang it in your bathroom or put it on your fridge, somewhere you can see it every day.  Then read it EVERY DAY.

Tips For Success

  1. Offer It Up
    One of the amazing things about Catholics is our ability to pair suffering and sacrifice to Jesus’s suffering on the cross. We can say, “Lord, I’m going to give up $4 lattes so that I can be a good steward of my money and pay down my debt.  I really want a latte but I’m going to sacrifice that and please use this sacrifice for the pro-life cause.”Yes, it really does work like that.  That may seem shallow.  But for some people, giving up a latte is really painful.  For others it will be eating rice and beans every day to pay off student loans.  Some people have chronic pain and they can offer that up to Jesus too!I think it’s important that we don’t act like pouty children when we go through things that are difficult or when we give up luxuries but to man these times meaningful by giving them to Christ.  Here is a worksheet that you can fill out to keep you on track!
  2. Accountability Partner
    My husband and I meet every Sunday night after the children have gone asleep to review our goals (both big and small) and to plan out our week. We check in about our progress and we challenge each other if we’re slacking.  We give each other encouragement and advice.  Then we talk about our schedule for the week and we make a meal plan together.  This helps us go into the week feeling like we’re a team and knowing that we’re (mostly) on the same page ;o)

If you don’t have a husband (or perhaps a less than willing husband) find a friend to do this with.  Accountability partners are HUGE if you want success in any area of your life.  We need to be SEEN.  We need to feel like what we do matters.  And although we should all be perfect souls that do everything for Christ…. Most of us aren’t quite there yet.

  1. Revise Goals Every Quarter
    Goals don’t always go the way we plan. That’s okay.  In January of 2015, I had NO IDEA my family was going to up and move from Portland to Boise!  It required several goal shifts.  Life happens.  Don’t let your goals slide and don’t get discouraged.  Reevaluate, edit them and move on.  I do this once a quarter.Make this date with yourself and put it on your calendar, then keep it!

That’s it.  I try to make it very simple.  I used to make goal setting a big more complicated but then my hard work would get filed away and forgotten.  Now it takes me less than an hour.  I review last year, make my goals, type them up and move on.  I do review them every Sunday with my husband and I revise them as my life changes.  My ultimate goal in life is to become a saint in Heaven and to do that by becoming the best version of myself.  I do this by always trying to up my game in may different aspects of my life.

Hard work brings us joy.  It gives us peace.  It makes us feel fulfilled and gives use self-confidence. We need this strength to go out into the world and spread God’s love.  I will be praying for you to have an amazing 2016 and that you can become the version of yourself that God most desires!

Why I Don’t Eat Dinner With My Family

Why I Don’t Eat Dinner With My Family

episode 12It’s hard for me to admit this but there are times when I really don’t enjoy eating dinner with my kids.  Of course we all know that it’s important for families to eat together but I have a suspicion these studies are talking about kids who are older than five.  My three kids are under five and there is no witty banter to be had at the table.  There is no sharing of highs and lows.  There is mostly food negotiations, crying, timeouts, more food negotiations and then it’s all over in a flash.

I’m fine with the strong rules that we have.  Because we want to train our kids to have polite table manners, it takes work.  We have to work with them over and over again and my husband and I are committed to this.  We don’t make them eat things they don’t want to but we serve the same thing to everyone for dinner and that’s that.  But between a 5 month old, a 2 year old and a 4.5 year old… things can get loud.

Some days I’m perfectly able to handle the circus and my husband and I even smile and laugh through it.  But there are some days and some seasons when it’s not helpful for anyone for me to be there, to be a grumpy mom, to be a short tempered mom or to be at the end of my rope and emotionally dangling from it.  So I’ve learned to protect my family and protect myself and to give myself a little mommy timeout sometimes.

My husband will come home, I’ll have made and served dinner for everyone.  I give him a kiss and head upstairs to sit in the silence of my room.  I know my husband can manage the kids and keep up our table manners expectations.  I eat my dinner after the kids have gone to bed when it’s quiet. I used to feel REALLY BAD about this like I was scarring my family and not giving my kids the security and consistency that they need.

But then I realized, that good intentions don’t matter if you’re an angry mom.  Good intentions don’t give your kids stability if you’re short-tempered or if after four straight days of listening to kids cry and cleaning up pee and poop, you start doubting your vocation.  You have to protect yourself.  Motherhood is a marathon.

I’m very confident as the kids get older, we’ll have wonderful family dinners together.  I know I’m committed to that.  I’d love to hear about their days and chat about what we’re reading and learning.  I know this is an important habit and soon we will make it a priority.

But this last week I’ve been potty training my 2 year old, my baby has been suddenly fussy and my 4.5 year old is acting out since the middle one is getting so much attention.  So by the time my husband walks through the door… I just need tap out, regroup, remember that I love being a mom even when it feels overwhelming and rejoin my family again when I’m calm and filled with joy.  I think this is better than my children seeing me lose my mind and having them doubt whether or not I’m happy being a mom.

There are plenty of nights when we eat dinner as a family.  But now I’m wise enough to know when dinner is going to bring us together or when I’ve given all I have to give and I need to go recharge in my room.  And that’s okay.  I’m still being a good mom.

So ladies pick your battles.  You don’t need to do all the things the internet says is good for your family.  This goes for Advent traditions too.  There are some great ones out there!  But if you’re screaming at your kids while hand painting Jesse ornaments… you’ve missed the point.  Choose your kids over the idea of something else.

In the end, they will remember your warmth and your love.  Make sure that’s what you’re showing them.  Show them peace, love and joy and it won’t matter what traditions you managed to make happen.

Episode 10: The Marshmallow Money Test

Episode 10: The Marshmallow Money Test

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Disclaimer:  This post is not for people struggling with poverty.  I think Bonnie Engstrom did a beautiful job describing what life is like when money is super tight in this series.  I wouldn’t sit down with Bonnie and say, “You just don’t understand delayed gratification, otherwise you’d save more money.”  That is NOT what this post is about.  This post is about people like me who were never taught how to manage money and who have the urge to buy $4.50 lattes instead of putting money in a 401k.

Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls podcast:




Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

Oh the marshmallow test… This was a test done 50+ years ago where psychologists took a bunch of preschoolers and put a marshmallow on their desk.  They told the kids they could eat the marshmallow now or wait until the adult comes back and they’d get two marshmallows.  The adults leave without telling the kids how long they’ll be gone.

Naturally some kids stuffed that white sugary goodness in their face right away, some made it a certain amount of time but still ate it before the adults came back and some waited until the adults returned and got two marshmallows.  The choice of the kids ended up being strongly correlated with their SAT scores, their BMI index at 30 years old and their overall happiness in the future.

In his book The Marshmallow Test: Why Self-Control Is the Engine of Success, Walter Mischel he explains all is not lost!  If you too would stuff that “marshmallow” in your mouth for instant gratification of less, you can learn to change your behavior.  Okay ladies, are you still with me?  I think this can apply to a lot of areas of our life but today I wanted to apply it to money.

Money is something that we don’t often talk about Catholic moms.  This isn’t about storing up as much money as possible.  This isn’t about have fear about the future or your money.  This is for those of you who didn’t learn how to manage your money and you’re blowing money on little things like coffee and not realizing that you need SOME plan for your money in the future.  It’s important for us to manage our money well so we can care for the people that God puts in our way.

The bible tells us that the poor will always be among us.  We need to manage our money so we can help out families who have no jackets this winter or who can’t afford food for Thanksgiving.  We need to manage our money so we can take care of ourselves in the future.  I know I will have to financially support my parents in the future so I know it’s important that I save money to be able to do that for them.

Mischel says that when we see something we really really want, right now, it’s like our brain has a HOT reaction to this.  Maybe it’s that $4.50 latte, maybe it’s a beautiful sweater at Anne Taylor Loft, maybe it’s five more children’s book to add to your collection.  None of these things are bad choices intrinsically but if you’re always choosing to spend now instead of saving, then collectively, these choices aren’t helping your future self.  He says we can learn to COOL our desires for these things.

To understand how to cool your desire for instant gratification, you have to first understand how you see yourself.  We use a different part of our brain when we think about our present selves than when we think about a stranger.  But many of us, when thinking about our future self, light up the part of our brains as if we’re thinking about a stranger.  We feel so disconnected from our future self that we don’t actually see that person as ourselves.

I know this is true for me.  I’m a stress-eater, I don’t like saving money and I want everything RIGHT NOW.  I can’t seem to grab on to the idea that my choices are ruining my future self. But I have three kids now and I know I need to work on this.  I need to model good behavior for them and I actually need to change my behavior for myself so I’m not an unhealthy, broke mess in 30 years.

Also, God gave me these amazing gifts: my children, the money I do have, this body my soul lives in.  He wants me to be a good steward of these things.  So how can we really make a change in our spending habits?

First, sit down and really picture your future self.  You need to get connected with that lady.  What do you want to look like?    Imagine yourself living a peaceful life.  Imagine yourself having financial stability.  Just sit with those thoughts for a moment.  Don’t let this future you feel like a stranger.

Second, get out some paper and write down situations where the HOT part of your brain has you making impulsive decisions that are bad for you.  I’m pretty good at not spending money on myself but it’s hard for me to reign in spending for my kids sometimes, especially for books! And when I’m stressed, a peppermint mocha goes a long way to calming me down… but my bathroom scales robs me of that peace when I weigh 20 pounds more than I should.

Write down those triggers and come up with a plan of what you’re going to do INSTEAD.  Here’s what I wrote:

I see a great book list on someone’s blog.  INSTEAD of buying the books, I will immediately login and put them on my reserved list at the library or I will add ONE of them to my amazon wishlist and wait for a child’s birthday to buy it.

I’m having  stressful day and I want a mocha to soothe my feelings.  INSTEAD of shelling out $4.50, I’m going to go home, make some delicious Good Earth tea and look at my budget where I am faithfully giving money to charity and putting money in savings.

Visualize what you’re going to do in these situations.  Practice it in your mind. Rehearse it.  Make a promise to yourself that you’re going to do better.

I think we, as Catholic moms, have a great power to change the world in just one generation.  If we can make good choices for ourselves and model good behavior for our children, we can create a generation that has self-control.  And having self-control allows us to be good stewards of what God has given us and allows us to take care of more people with the resources and energy that we have.

If you don’t know where to start, I would highly recommend checking out www.daveramsey.com.

I’m praying for your mamas!  I’m praying that God give us all the desire to manage our money well so we can more perfectly do His will!

Episode 09: 5 Ways to be the Peace Center of your Home

Episode 09: 5 Ways to be the Peace Center of your Home

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Here is the latest Coffee & Pearls podcast. Scroll down to read it as a blog post!

Just to prove you can always learn new things, I just had a big eye opening lesson this week about peace.  And I think what surprised me the most was that I use the word peace a lot.

“Jesus wants us to live a life of peace.”
“Peace be with you.”
“You just need to have peace about it.”

So if you had asked me if I knew how to have peace, I’d say sure!

But then I read Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family by Katie Warner and she has a whole chapter devoted to peace in her book.   The chapter is titled “They Cultivate Peace” and it talks about the importance, especially for mothers, to cultivate peace in their homes.  I stopped and thought about that.  I work so hard to create peace for myself but I hadn’t really thought about cultivating peace for my entire home.  I didn’t have a goal related to creating a peaceful atmosphere for my family.

And not surprisingly, when I don’t have a goal about something, if I’m not intentional about it, it’s probably not getting accomplished.  The more I thought about my home, I also realized that…. I was usually the cause of a lack of peace.  I’m usually the one saying

“Hurry up, we have to get to Mass!”

“Where are your shoes???”

“I have touched poop 5 times today!” (No one is bringing an atmosphere of peace by insisting on telling their husband every time poop is touched…)

I felt really bad.  I felt like I was doing it all wrong.  Here I was trying to be a good Catholic mom and despite our many routines and good Catholic activities, I’m pretty confident that the prevailing atmosphere in my house was not peace.  I let myself wallow for a good ten minutes and then I took action!

I got out my goals and I wrote down, “Cultivate an atmosphere of peace and joy in my home.”  And ladies, what you purpose to do, what you focus on, is what you get.  I am surprised to say that just having this as a goal has really transformed the general atmosphere of my home.  It really was that simple.  Here are five ways I’m making it happen!

  1. Use a Peaceful Voice
    When I use a frenzied voice that tells my children, they’re wrong, we’re late, I’m sad, I’m disappointed… they feel the emotions behind that voice.  To help them experience more peace, I have been using a more peaceful voice.  Even when we’re SUPER LATE, I’ve been smiling and trying to make a game of getting into the car or cheerfully asking them to hustle their little feet.  I sound annoying to myself… but they smile and fall for it and we’re all… actually happier because of it.
  2. Take Deep Breaths
    I just watched this episode of Philosopher’s Notes (a YouTube show I love!)  and in it, Brian Johnson talks about the importance of deep breathing. He says that we should work hard to breath four times per minute (6 seconds in, hold for 2 seconds, breathe out for 7 seconds.)  So I’ve been trying to do this when I wake up and before I get out of bed, when I’m praying, when I’m doing chores and when I’m in the car etc.  It has taken a little bit of training to breathe this way but it has definitely helped me to stay more calm and feel more peaceful.  And when mama feels peaceful… well…. it’s a start anyways
  3. Decluttering The House
    I’ve been on a minimalist kick for several months now. It started back before we moved to Boise.  We didn’t want to pack anything that we didn’t love or use on a regular basis.  We got rid of SO MUCH stuff.  And with less stuff, we’re working harder to put things away more regularly.  We do two big rounds of clean-up every day; one right before naptime and one right before bedtime.  And it’s amazing how if you do this twice a day, it really only takes 5-10 minutes to make your house look pretty clean and tidy!  And it makes my mama heart happy to see clear counters and floors.
  4. Drinking More Water
    This happens to me every year. When the weather turns cold, I forget to drink water.  Sure I’ll have a cup of tea in the morning but if that’s all by the time I hit 1 p.m., I am a dehydrated, headachy, grumpy mom.  It’s hard to have peace in that place.  So last week I made two big pots of tea, one with caffeine for before noon and one without for afternoon and it’s always ready and I’ve been drinking more of it.  I’ve also been forcing myself to drink a cup of water before lunch and dinner… because I’m also trying to lose some of this baby weight.  But water is like a magical substance that makes lots of things better when you’re getting enough!
  5. Praying the Rosary
    I know, I know… I’m always saying you should pray the rosary. But it really is that powerful!  This last month in October I was writing everyday about how to Become a Bible Reading Catholic and it took so much extra time that I was dropping my rosary habit and boy did that rob me of my peace on those days.  Make time for it.  Our Blessed Mother will help breathe peace into your home.  She’s really good at it!

I would highly recommend Katie Warner’s book Head & Heart.  I would also suggest that you too would add “Cultivate peace at home” to your goals for the rest of this year.   I hope these five tips have helped give you an idea of what you can do to make that happen.

I’d love to know of other ways you Catholic moms are bringing peace into your home… especially when your two year old is going to Tantrum Phase like my (previous) sweet Poppy is right now!

Episode 08: You Need This Bible Verse Today

Episode 08: You Need This Bible Verse Today

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BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!  The format of the show is changing!  I did some surveys to both listeners and non-listeners of the show and what I discovered is that most moms aren’t watching videos.  So Coffee & Pearls is officially being turned into a podcast.  You can now subscribe to my podcast on iTunes below! The show will be 15 minutes so you can easily fit it into your week and there will be an accompanying blog post that summarizes the episode for those of you who don’t listen to podcasts but still want some Catholic mama wisdom in your life!

CLICK HERE to see to my podcast on iTunes!

Listen to this episodes podcast here:

Today I’m talking about one of my favorite bible verses.  I use these two verses when I’m feeling down and stuck in a rut.  And that’s how it usually works with me.  One or two bad choices leads me to making more bad choices.  Kind of a “well I already blew it, so who cares” kind of attitude.  And as I spiral down, I feel worse and worse about myself. And when I’m struggling to get myself out of this run, out of feeling like I’m covered in slime, I grab onto these verses.

But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness,[s] and all these things will be given you besides. Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil.” Matthew 6:33-34 

This verse has the power to save me from my bad mood, my downward spiral and to pull me up.  I focus on three specific aspects.

Seek first the kingdom of God.

You know I mention this all the time.  We have to start our day out with God.  We have to give him those first few minutes before we let our feet hit the floor and we let the day smack into us.  It took me a good year to make this a habit in my life and the habit still gets knocked around a bit when big life changes happen (i.e. new baby, death in the family, out-of-state move etc.)  But when I’m feeling out of sorts, I know this is the first place I have to look.If I’m not aligning myself with Jesus in the morning, my whole day gets off kilter.

Sometimes I read the morning offering, sometimes I read my bible or say a rosary, sometimes I just lay there and pray my desperate heart out to the Lord.Do you start your day off with Jesus or do you leave him in the background until something goes wrong? If you’re feeling like your life doesn’t have much peace these days, maybe you need to put the Lord in your morning routine.  Start off the day by giving the day to Him and then let Him guide you.  It certainly doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong but you’ll feel like He’s right there by your side if they do.

Do not worry about tomorrow.

Oh ladies.  Most of us really struggle with this.  We live in tomorrow land.  We worry over our commitments, our laundry schedule, our kid’s college funds… so many things.  But God does not want us to live in the future.  He wants us to be present and appreciate the day He has given to us.  He wants us to be grateful for the moments we have, for the people He puts in our path.

I was listening to a lecture on being more present and the speaker said that one of the best ways we can work on being more present is by taking a deep breath and paying attention to our breathing.  When we pause and notice our breathing, something happens in our brain that helps us focus.  It gives us clarity.  It quiets the noise.  So when I’m feeling really amped up, I take a deep breath, I calm down and I say this scripture to myself.This is a battle we must fight every day.

I don’t know about you but there are days I have, super productive days, where I’ve slayed my To Do list and I’m feeling on top of the world!  Then I get to the end of the day and I realize that I haven’t spent even 15 minutes of eye-to-eye time with my children.  In my whole day, I haven’t slowed down enough to spend time with them where I give them my undivided attention.  Not even for 15 minutes!

So now that is officially one of my daily goals. Spend at least 15 minutes of eye-to-eye, undistracted, truly present time with each of my kids.  And on days where I don’t check off that check box at night, I know I’ve missed something special, a gift that God has given me that I have left unappreciated.

There is already enough evil.

This is the part of this scripture that is often left unmentioned.  I don’t think people like the word evil.  I don’t think many of us even really understand what it means.  There is horrible evil in the world like child trafficking or Christian persecution.  And there is the movie style of evil with demons and horns and such.

But so many of us don’t acknowledge the everyday spiritual warfare that’s being thrown our way.There is a war for our souls and the devil wants to do everything he can to distract you from loving God.  This happens from the moment you wake up to the moment go to sleep.  And it’s subtle warfare.  It’s whispers of envy, pangs of greed, bouts of laziness… anything to get you to be less than what God designed you to be.  And so often we feel guilty, like these short comings are our own fault.  And though yes, we have our own free will and we do make the bad choices on our own, I don’t think we give enough credit to the devil who tempted us into making those bad choice.

I think if we were to acknowledge those temptations more, we wouldn’t beat ourselves up about our choices as much and we would fight them more strongly.

So that’s a lot to process in just two short versus.  But that’s why it’s my favorite.  That’s why I lean on these verses when I don’t know what else to do.  These verses give me hope, strength and comfort.  I feel forgiveness from the Lord in these verses.  I feel the strength to try harder tomorrow in these verses.

So I just wanted to share those with you this week.  I hope they bring you comfort.