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 07: Give Mary Your Heart

Episode 07: Give Mary Your Heart

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I was unchurched for most of my life and then I came to Jesus through an Evangelical Protestant church in my 20’s.  And several years later I converted to Catholicism right before I got married.  You might think that as a convert, I’d struggle with the idea that Catholic honor Mary and that she is such a big part of the Catholic faith but that wasn’t ever a big struggle for me.  I feel like I got my Catholic handbook that said, “We should love and honor Mary,” and I thought great, I’ll do that.

So I didn’t have any negative feelings toward Mary but I can’t say that I had an active relationship with her either.  She was just kind of there in the background for me.  Then at the 2014 Catholic Women Rejoice conference I happened to hear a lot of conversations about the 33 Days to Morning Glory retreat.  Women were talking about how this program changed their life and they were so grateful to have gone through it.

I had never heard of this before but after so many glowing reviews, I thought I’d check it out.  I picked up the whole program and made the retreat with my husband and another couple.  The four of us went through this program from October 19th to November 21st.  You see you make the retreat 33 days before a Marian feast day.  Here’s a schedule you can look at.

The book follow four people who have consecrated themselves to Jesus through Mary.  The quote I’ve pulled is in Mother Theresa’s section and one thing that isn’t as widely known about her is that she experienced a very long time of spiritual dryness.  But even in this darkness she never gave up hope for she constantly prayed to live in Mary’s heart and that Mary live in hers.

“We all sin, and sin hardens hearts. Whatever the reason, our hearts can be cold and unfeeling, and this can be a problem.  Thankfully, the one who has a sinless, perfect, immaculate heart will help us.  She’ll give us her compassionate heart.  She’ll even let us live in her heart! If only we’ll give her ours.”
Fr. Michael Gaily, 33 Days to Morning Glory

If you had asked me before doing this program if I thought I would ever lean on Mary for… well everything, I would have probably scoffed at the idea.  Protestants are so trained to take everything to Jesus that the idea of taking things to Mary seemed unfathomable to me.  But that’s the power of this program.  This program teaches you that we should take all our suffering to Mary.  And through her, she can make perfect petitions to her son on our behalf.

I now pray to and lean on Mary for almost everything.  She is my rock, my mother, my lap to sit in, the hug I seek, the shoulder I cry on.  She is so much more to me than I ever thought she could be.  And she is capable of great miracles and that brings me to my second quote:

“Mary’s motherly attentiveness to the details of the couple being married at Cana begins Jesus’ public life with the miracle of the water becoming the wine.  The lack of wine has been described as a symbol of the lack of joy in human life without God’s grace.  What human needs might Mary be attentive to and then bring to Jesus for his miraculous intervention if she were invited to your home today?”
33 Days to Morning Glory Retreat Workbook

And I thought this was such a profound question because, I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel deserving of a miracle.  I never think to ask God for miracles for me.  I guess it feel selfish sometimes or maybe I just think my problems are too small, I’d rather see God perform miracles for other people who need them more.  But in thinking about this question, you know, what would I ask of Mary if she came to my house and miraculously brought about a change.

After thinking about it, I decided I’d ask her to perform a miracle in my marriage.  My husband and I both come from divorced families and so we have very little idea of how to have a happy and healthy marriage.  We read a lot of marriage books but we still struggle.  We struggle with communication, with our intimacy, with our parenting styles and if Mary could come and perform a miracle and help my husband to be more like Joseph and me to be more like Mary, that would be amazing.

And to be honest, I don’t think I was actively praying for this before.  I thought the idea of it seemed so far away and not possible that I wasn’t even hoping for this kind of change.  But in reading this, I realized that Mary can do great things if we put our trust in her.  She will take our deepest prayers to Jesus and ask for his help.

I hope this gives you hope.  I want you to place your hopes in dreams in Mary’s lap.  Look up to her as if you’re a little child and she’s your mother who wants nothing more than your happiness.  She wants you to turn to her.  She wants to take care of your heart.  Seek to live in her heart and ask her to live in yours.

If you would like to go through the 33 Days to Morning Glory retreat with me online, click here and sign-up.  I’ll be emailing you every day with my own commentary on the program as I make the retreat for the second time this year!

The Good and Bad of Forming a New Habit

The Good and Bad of Forming a New Habit

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This week I wanted to share with you some wisdom from Darren Hardy’s book The Compound Effect.  One thing I like about Darren Hardy is that his mentor was Jim Rohn who we talked about two weeks ago and you can really feel Jim’s spirit come through in Darren’s writing.  Darren puts his own spin on the same work hard message and I think he does an excellent job of breaking things down so that they’re so simple, anyone can do it!

I read this book in maybe 2 or 3 days.  It’s a short book but jam packed with good information.  Darren paints such a clear picture of how making small choices over time, either good or bad, can have a huge impact on your life down the road.  He talks about three men: one who decides he wants to make slightly better choices in his eating and exercise habits, one guys who doesn’t change his habits at all and a third who makes slightly worse eating an exercise habits.   Related to these three guys, the first quote I wanted to share is this:

“At the end of ten months, we still can’t see noticeable changes in any of their lives.  It’s not until we get to the end of the eighteenth month that the slightest differences are measurable in these three friends’ appearances.” Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

What really struck me about this example is just how LONG ten months is!  And really, 18 months is a very long time to someone like me who wants everything done yesterday.  To think that a life change would really take that long was surprising to me.  And now that I think about it, of course big life changes take a long time but so often we’re sold this idea that “you can establish a new habit in 21 or 30 days!”

And while this may be true for small habits, it seems that we need to stay motivated for a much longer time if we want to change some big areas of our life.  I think this probably relates to money, weight, exercise, marriage, parenting etc.

This gave me great hope though!  Now, instead of thinking I’m a big failure since I can’t seem to make thing stick by trying them out for just one month, I’m starting to take a much longer range approach to my goals.  I’m starting to tell myself about the life I want in 18 months.  I’m looking out on the horizon and knowing that even if I get frustrated today or this week, I’m playing for the long game here.

In Hal Elrod’s book The Miracle Morning (Before 8AM)
, he talks about the three phases of establishing a new habit.  The first is unbearable, the second is uncomfortable and the last is unstoppable.  I loved hearing this!  It was so nice for someone to say, out loud, the first phase is UNBEARABLE.  And now, knowing this, it’s helped me to push through this phase and to just call it for what it is, the first phase of my establishing a new habit.

This brings me to the second quote I wanted to talk about.  Darren asks people to make a list of their daily habits and to identify which ones are NOT helping you to become your best self.  I think it’s pretty obvious which ones those are.  And here’s what he has to say about them:

“Look again at your list of bad habits. How can you alter them so they’re not as harmful? Can you replace them with healthier habits or drop-kick them altogether?” Darren Hardy, The Compound Effect

I have tried to erase a lot of bad habits in my life and I always find that I am much more successful when I replace a bad habit, then when I simply try to stop doing it.  We often need to put something in that hole we’ve just created.  Now some substitutes are easier than others.  For example, drinking tea instead of coffee is an obvious substitution.  Reading a book instead of watching TV is a harder substitution but still a clear one.

I also find that substituting spiritual practices for bad habits has been helpful to me.  It certainly hasn’t been easy.  Praying my rosary instead of watching TV during nap time is certainly not what my natural inclination is but I have come to love this new habit instead.  That’s what’s amazing about using Catholic tools.  They give you special grace that you’re not expecting so you can continue to use them!

Be Converted On Your Way to Becoming Beautiful

Be Converted On Your Way to Becoming Beautiful

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This week I’m reviewing Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer by Fr. Thomas Dubay
and this book is right up my ally.  It’s like a businessy self-help book that’s about becoming a better Catholic.  I wish it was organized a little bit better or easier to follow but if you’re willing to dig deep and read something a little dry,  I think the heart of this book is incredibly valuable.  Dubay urges us to always be seeking a deeper conversion and doing that through a deeper prayer life.

Don’t worry if you don’t feel up for reading it!  That’s why I pull out important points and put them here – so you can get some great Catholic wisdom in just 15 minutes!  The first quote I wanted to highlight this week is this:

“…seek and practice all the virtues, and in our example, the virtue of temperance in your use of food and drink.  Select what you shall eat and drink in accordance with what is best for your health, not what may flatter your taste buds but damage your well-being and ability to serve others as well.  He is saying also: be moderate and realistically motivated. In other words, be converted.  Give up your self-centeredness and love truth, goodness and beauty.  No matter how far you are advanced or how wayward you are in your spiritual life, if this fundamental change is taking place, you are on your way up, on your way to becoming beautiful.  It may take time, but it can happen with the grace of God — which is always present.” – Fr. Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer

There’s so much here that speaks to my heart and to my brokenness.  I absolutely struggle with feeding my emotions and soothing myself by overeating.  If this isn’t your struggle, just insert whatever worldly practice in your own life needs temperance (i.e. daily Starbucks, Target shopping sprees, compulsive TV watching, online gambling, drinking too much wine etc.) But man when days get tough, I have such a hard time grabbing onto Jesus instead of reaching for some cheesecake.

And what Dubay is saying is absolutely true.  I hurt my own well-being and my ability to care for others simply to satisfy my taste buds.  And it’s not just that the food tastes good, which it does, but it also calms me down.  I really wish it didn’t.  I really wish it didn’t work.  But even if the affect is temporary, it’s real and it’s there.  I do feel soothed.  I do feel comforted.

I’ve been trying for years to use Jesus for my soothing but man, I haven’t quite cracked that code at the end of a stressful day when my body is crying out for carbs or sugar.  But I keep trying.  Honestly, I do.  And Dubay is one of the reasons I keep trying.  I want to spend my WHOLE life trying to find a deeper conversion.  I want to grow closer to Christ and I want Him to be the only thing I turn to when I’m anxious or stressed.

Be converted… on your way to becoming beautiful.  I know I’ve kind of mushed these two phrases together but they seem like the should be together.  The more we strive to be holy, the more we become beautiful in Christ. That’s the kind of beauty I want to chase.  I keep finding new systems and new tricks to practice temperance in my eating.  You’re catching me on a day and I have had six days of clean eating and awesome progress on my weight loss goals.  Not all weeks are this shiny.  But when I have a rough day, I hope to hear Dubay’s words to keep me on track!

I find so much hope in those last words, “…it can happen with the grace of God — which is always present.”  I have hope that I’ll figure this out! He is always with me.

The second quote I wanted to focus on is this:

“…people who are profoundly intimate with their indwelling Lord are never bored. Boredom and genuine joy are incompatible. Selfishness diminishes a person’s liveliness and capacity to enjoy reality and to grow in the best of human relationships.” – Fr. Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer

I have to admit, I am a big pouty teenager who whines about being bored sometimes.  Living in toddler land with little to no adult interaction and cycling through Candyland and Dr. Suess books everyday really wears on me sometimes.  And these are the times I turn to worldly pursuits (i.e. food, lattes, Netflix etc.) when I should be turning to my faith instead.  I love the phrase “intimate with their indwelling Lord.”  It helps me to visualize that Christ lives inside of me and it makes me ashamed that I push Him to the background.  I want to have a profoundly intimate relationship with Him.

I also want to live a life filled with genuine joy!  I’ve been practicing this more and… it works!  Here’s what I’ve been doing:

  1. Recognizing when I start to feel anxious or bored.  I find those two emotions are usually related.
  2. Identify what the main source of those feelings (i.e. my kids, my husband, my house, my finances, my blog etc.)
  3. Think of something related to that source that brings me genuine joy.
    – If it’s my kids… I do something I really like doing with them like going outside on a crisp Fall day or baking cookies with them or making a silly craft I found on Pinterest.
    – If it’s my husband… I try to find 10-15 minutes to just sit with him on our backyard swinging bench.  It brings me such peace to sit there with him even if we’re not talking.
    – If it’s my house, I pick one or two big surfaces to completely clear off.  Uncluttered surfaces bring me genuine joy!
    – If it’s my finances, I update my budget.  I’m an excel geek so this does actually bring me joy and calms me down.
    – If it’s my blog, I find a new plugin to try or a new aspect of design to change. Secret: I like building websites more than actually blogging so I have to limit how often I dink around with my site ;o)
  4. DO THAT THING!

Ladies I listen to you and you all have such beautiful hearts.  You love your children and your husband’s.  You’re trying to walk everyday with the Lord and I know how hard that can be in this modern world we live in.  My hope for you is that one of these articles will speak to your heart and help you to grow closer to Him.  That may look different for each one of us but it’s absolutely something we all need.

Please print and fill out this worksheet so you can work on the two pearls of wisdom I shared today.  Let me know how I can pray for you and let me know if you have any questions at all!

Deep Conversion Deep Prayer Worksheet Preview

 

You can give up these things.  Remember, with the Holy Spirit, anything is possible!

With Love,

Sterling Jaquith

Don’t Be a Beggar This Fall

Don’t Be a Beggar This Fall

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Today is going to be about tough love.  Sometimes that’s exactly what we need.  A little kick in the bottom to say, “You, yes you.  You can do this.  You can pick yourself up and make things better.  You have the power to change your life.”  When I first picked up Jim Rohn’s audio cd set, I had no idea what it would be about.  I didn’t know anything about him.  He was a down-on-his-luck guy with no money, tons of debt and family to take care of at 25.

And at this time in my life, I desperately needed some tough love.  I was unhappy with my situation, stuck as a stay-at-home mom, doing a terrible job of taking care of my home and finding every reason in the world to blame for it.  And then along comes Jim Rohn and says that we can’t blame our circumstances for our lack of success.  With consistent hard work, we can make things better and find satisfaction in a job well done.

There are three specific ways I want to share with you all about how to accomplish this.

“Work harder on yourself than your job.” Jim Rohn, The Art of Exceptional Living

This is a great idea that Jim talks about where he challenges people not to just show up at their jobs and do the minimum required of them but to always be learning and growing and thinking of the future.  He explains that if you’re acquiring new skills, those will be useful even if you move on to another job.

And so I thought about this in terms of motherhood.  First of all, being a mom is a 24 hour a day job so we never stop working in a sense. This doesn’t mean that we can’t work on ourselves but this is often the case.  Many of us are guilty of being so burnt out serving others, that our own true self fades into the background slowly getting weaker and weaker.  We yearn to be recharged, to feel full instead of running on fumes.

Work harder on yourself than on your job.  Yes moms, you will be better moms if you take care of yourself.  This means eating well, taking a shower, going for a walk outside, taking a bubble bath and improving your mind.  I think this last one is especially important.  We should always be trying to be a better version of ourselves.  For me, that means reading books.  For you, maybe it’s trying a new recipe or find a way to make homemade laundry detergent.  We can always be improving our connection with God, our marriage, our parent skills, the way we run our households and the way we take care of our bodies.

If you’re too busy to learn something new, my guess is, that’s exactly what you need to be doing.  Take a step back and create a meal plan for your family.  Take a break and go for a ten minute walk.  I guarantee you were wasting more time being frazzled than ten minutes.  Going for a walk with refresh you and give you energy to tackle things anew.  Say a rosary. You must work hard on yourself so you can serve those around you and that is exactly what God has called you to do, to serve.

But God doesn’t ask us to work ourselves to the bone.  Once, Mother Teresa was asked why the nuns of her order prayed for so many hours in the morning instead of helping the sick.  And she said that if they did not pray, they would not have the strength to help the sick.

If you are struggling in an area of your life, step back and see if you can learn something to make it easier.  I really enjoy reading books but you could just as easily skim some internet articles or watch a YouTube video.  We live in a world where you can learn almost anything online for free.  Invest in yourself and your job and you will have more strength to tackle your vocation of motherhood.

“Everybody has to be good at either of two things: Planting in the spring or begging in the fall.” Jim Rohn, The Art of Exceptional Living

I had to pick this quote because it caused me pain to read it.  I’m a notorious procrastinator.  It drives my husband crazy because he is an engineer and a very organized person.  He’s always saying, “If it’s worth doing, doing it right away.”  And that drives ME crazy!  But he’s right, I often put things aside and say, “I’ll do that later,” and then I don’t get around to doing it until it’s a crisis.   I’ll let papers pile up on the table and then I freak out when I can’t find the registration form a class I wanted to sign my daughter up for and it starts tomorrow! I took off my favorite pair of black flats somewhere in the house and now I NEED them and I’m late for a meeting.

These stresses all come down to planning and discipline.  We must have a plan and we must be disciplined in following it.  This can apply to creating a budget for your money, organizing your kitchen so you can find things, keeping your car clean so it’s not a disaster, staying on top of your Christmas list instead of leaving it to the last minute.

I don’t suggest overhauling your whole life at once.  We all know that doesn’t usually work.  Instead, I suggest picking one to three habits that you know you need to work on.  This shouldn’t be hard. I’m guessing you already know what you need to work on.  I know my three:

  1. Open mail immediately and deal with it instead of leaving it in a pile and forgetting about it.
  2. Put my shoes away in my closet instead of leaving them (and tripping over them) all over the house.
  3. Create a better system for what we need from the grocery store so I can stop getting home and saying, “Oh man, I forgot eggs!!”

If you don’t have a financial budget for your household, I highly suggest starting with this one.  I’m a big fan of www.daveramsey.com and he can help you get started with that.  Don’t be a beggar in the Fall.  Pick a few things that are holding you back, that you keep putting off and tackle them.

“Failure: A few errors in judgement, repeated every day.” “Success: A few simple disciplines, repeated every day.” Jim Rohn, The Art of Exceptional Living

One of the things I think that is so hard about being a mom these days is our overwhelming sense of failure.  We just feel bad about ourselves and bad about how we’re doing as wives and mothers.  But I think there’s hope.  We don’t have to get better at everything to feel a little bit better, sometimes it’s enough to just get better at one thing.

When I feel like I’m drowning and I don’t know how I’m going to tackle everything I have going on, I’ll pick just one simple thing to focus on.  Maybe it’s to take a shower every day or to work on getting enough water every day.  I tell myself, “It’s okay if I don’t get everything right but I’m going to get this one thing right every day this week.”

And it’s amazing what happens.  When I stop pressuring myself to do everything and I successfully accomplish my one little thing, I start to feel good about myself.  I feel a little bit stronger, a little more confident.  And then this fuels me to try and tackle another small thing.  Then the power of inertia kicks in.  Once I start moving in the right direction, I want to keep moving that way.

My success snowballs and this is how I happily hum along getting all the things done on my To Do list.  This isn’t permanent of course.  Life happens.  Babies are born, grandparents pass away, families move out of state, epic colds get passed around everyone in the family.  It’s okay that things pop up and kill your momentum.  The important thing is that you remember to pick yourself up and tackle your one small thing to spark some momentum.

Please print and fill out this worksheet so you can work on the two pearls of wisdom I shared today.  Let me know how I can pray for you and let me know if you have any questions at all!

Art of Exceptional Living Worksheet Preview

Never stop trying, never give up on yourself.  You can always start again.

With Love,

Sterling Jaquith

How to Simplify Your Life and be More Present With Your Kids

How to Simplify Your Life and be More Present With Your Kids

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I have to admit, I’ve avoided St. Therese for a long time.  There’s a rebellious part of me that sometimes doesn’t want to like something simply because everyone else does.  I know, it’s petty and childish but this is exactly how I was about St. Therese.  I definitely started reading about lesser saints first.  I’m sure it was pride that made me want to discover someone obscure rather than jump on the Little Flower bandwagon but eventually, I gave in and gave her a chance.

And I’m ever so glad that I did because like so many of you, this little woman, barely more than a little girl has touched my heart in so many ways.  There is no way I could capture all the moments her autobiography, Story of a Soul, spoke deeply to my soul.  In her I found a kindred spirit and more than any other saint, she has made me want to fight the superficial lures of this world and keep my eyes fixed on Heaven. I fully understand why she’s a favorite of the Catholic community.

I have picked three quotes from her autobiography although the truth is that I made more than 100 highlights in my Kindle.  Here is the first:

“Because your soul is very simple; but when you are perfect you will become more simple still. The nearer one approaches God, the simpler one becomes.”
St. Therese, Story of a Soul

I love this quote.  There is something so attractive about living a simple life.  It sounds so romantic, so peaceful and well… simple.  But the truth is, most of us lead lives that are far from simple.  So how do we, as busy moms, simplify our life without giving everything away and moving into a convent?  I think there are two ways we can tackle this.  First, to live in the moment.

We hear this phrase a lot but I think few of put it into practice.  In preparation for this episode, I tried extra hard this week to really be present with everything that I had to do.  The first day I found it pretty difficult because I didn’t have a plan for what I was going to do that day and so all these tasks and questions kept bouncing around in my mind.  I had a sense of feeling rushed and anxious.

I love the phrase, “If you don’t run your day, your day will end up running you.” And that’s exactly how I felt.  I wasn’t able to practice being present very well.  So that night, even though I was tired, I took out some paper and planned what I was going to do the following day.  And not one of those “if everything in the universe aligns, this is what I’ll be able to do” but a real plan including a “Sterling, you’re usually tired and grumpy around 3:30 so don’t plan anything hard then” timeslot.  This helped me immensely in being able to be present in my day.

When I sat down to read some books with my girls, I wasn’t thinking about what else I should be doing because this was “time with the girls” timeslot.  I was supposed to be there right then reading books.  Actually being present with every activity I did gave me great peace.  It also gave me extra energy to tackle things I wouldn’t have.  Because I hadn’t scheduled anything for an hour in the afternoon and I knew I had already folded the laundry and done school for the day, I found myself saying, “Hey girls, let’s make cookies to celebrate Mary’s birthday.”  I am no baker and we rarely take the time to bake cookies but I was in such a good mood having been present for the rest of my day.

This brings me to point number two, what if you don’t even have enough time to get everything done that you need to do?  The answer is simple.  You’re too busy.  You need to cut some things out or minimize what you need to do.

Modern day moms have tricked themselves into thinking that things NEED to be done when a lot of times, they simply don’t.  I’m guilty of this sometimes.  I’ll sign up for too many things, I’ll start drowning and I feel trapped.  I don’t want to let someone down and really they needed volunteers so I had to say yes.  But life is too short not to spend time with God and not to spend time with your family.

Politely decline or back out of some of your commitments and don’t say yes to anything else.  Create more time for the things that matter.  This isn’t new advice. Most of us have heard it before and we just need to hear it again, now, in this moment.  We need to realign ourselves with what’s important.  Focus on serving your family, quietly and with joy.  Be present in those activities instead of feeling bitter or instead of feeling anxious that you should be doing something else.

More than anything, this is what St. Therese has taught me.  Be present and find joy in the work and the sacrifice.  God desires us to simply love Him and to do that, we have to live simple lives.  We may still have many things to do but none of them should feel or be more important than loving God.  If our lives cause us so much stress and anxiety that we are constantly worried about the future or even what we have to do in the next five hours, then we cannot be present each moment.

Failing to be present is like failing to appreciate the life that God has given us.  Each breath, each minute, each person he puts in our way is precious.  It’s a lie that your TO DO list is so important that you can’t cut some things out and focus more on Jesus and the life he’s given you.

The second quote I wanted to focus on is this:

“I know now that true charity consists in bearing all our neighbours’ defects–not being surprised at their weakness, but edified at their smallest virtues.” St. Therese, Story of a Soul

I really struggle with pride.  I think partly it’s because I’ve had to work so hard to overcome adversity in my life, that it’s difficult for me when I see others who complain and don’t try hard to change their own life.  And this really is a sinful attitude.  I don’t mean to be judgmental but the devil tries so hard to take that which is good and make it twisted.

When I see a mom struggling in her home, my heart is sad for her and I want her to be happier.  That is a pure love for a friend.  But often that love gets twisted and I think, “Well if she just disciplined her children more, her house would be less chaotic and she wouldn’t be as stressed.”  There is the sin.  There is the judgement that has sprung up. I don’t actually think she is a bad person, I just want her life to be better.  But in this moment, there is a small twang of pride.  There is a sense of, “Well I would do it differently,” or “She could fix it if she really wanted to.” But how do I know that?

It is not for us to judge one another.  We should not harbor this bitterness in our hearts. We don’t know the depth of struggle that a friend may be going through.  There are many crosses we must bear which are invisible so we cannot pretend to know what our friends are going through.

I love how St. Therese not only talks about how we shouldn’t focus on the defects of our neighbors but that we should be edified at their smallest virtues.  The most success I have in changing a habit of mine is to replace it with another one.  I hadn’t really thought about applying this to my thoughts about others but since I’ve read this, it’s really helped   me.

Instead of judging others and grumbling that they should work harder on their short comings, I focus on all the things I like about them.  I’m surprised that it really hasn’t been that hard.  Of course there are many things that I like about my friends, that’s why we’re friends! I focus on these things and it brings me joy just to know them.  I think about what great moms they are and what wonderful Catholics they are and those thoughts have simply filled up my brain so there isn’t space for bitter judgements anymore.

St. Therese also says, “If I wish to increase this love in my heart, and the devil tries to bring before me the defects of a Sister, I hasten to look for her virtues, her good motives;”  I love how much she admits that it’s a challenge to stick with this practice.  I know it will be a challenge for me.

I’m sure I’ll have to keep working at this and there will be times when I slip up but I will keep trying to be more like Jesus and seeing all the virtues in each soul I meet.

BONUS TIP:

This is one of THE most popular St. Therese quotes but I felt compelled to include it because ladies, you are beautiful.  You need to know you’re beautiful and you need to belief you’re beautiful.

“The splendor of the rose and the whiteness of the lily do not rob the little violet of it’s scent nor the daisy of its simple charm. If every tiny flower wanted to be a rose, spring would lose its loveliness.”  St. Therese Story of a Soul

I love this quote because it speaks to how much He loves us.  God loves each and every one of us like we are a unique and beautiful flower.  Stop telling yourself the lie that you aren’t beautiful, that you aren’t perfect.   This quote reminds me of a friend of mine who created an awesome Catholic t-shirt company and she picked a similar quote to put on one of her t-shirts.  I bought one for each of my girls.

http://www.catholic-threads.com/product/bloom

Please print and fill out this worksheet so you can work on the two pearls of wisdom I shared today.  Let me know how I can pray for you and let me know if you have any questions at all!

Story of a Soul Worksheet

Go Get ‘Em Ladies!  You can do it!

Love,

Sterling Jaquith

Why You Must Have A Family Mission Statement

Why You Must Have A Family Mission Statement

Scroll down to see the video, audio and text version of this episode including a worksheet!

I listened to the audio version of Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action
on a long card ride and I thoroughly enjoyed Sinek’s voice.  He has a dreamy English accent but with a confident authority that makes me want to do everything he says. He’s like the Mr. Darcy of business consulting.  The book is filled with lots of great points about knowing WHY your organization does what it does.  He often uses Apple as an example of a company that really  understands their WHY.

Here is the first point he makes that I think really applies to being a Catholic mom today:

“The more organizations and people who learn to start with WHY, the more people there will be who wake up being fulfilled by the work they do.”
Simon Sinek,   Start with Why

MOM TRANSLATION:

“The more a mom learns to start with WHY, the more she and her family will wake up feeling fulfilled by the work they do.”
Sterling Jaquith, Coffee & Pearls

I will often pose questions to get you thinking about how a particular business tip could apply to your family, but this is one of the few times when I’m going to tell you exactly how this applies to your family.   Our goal as wives and as a mothers is to get our family to Heaven.  That is your WHY.  That’s the goal that each one of us has.  Everything we do should be working toward this goal.  This sounds simple enough but it’s extremely difficult to apply to life in America today.

What kind of food should I feed my family?  Should we continue to let soccer practice schedules rule our family? What kind of car should we buy?  When should I allow my teenager to have a cell phone?

There are thousands of practical questions that we ask ourselves and answering them in the context of “What will get us closer to Heaven” can be really challenging.  It also can be pretty painful.

For example, if I said, “Sunday is set apart for God and if you’re too busy running around for baseball games to go to church so you need to drop baseball,”  well, that’s a big blow not only to your child who probably loves baseball but also your family who is trying to instill discipline in your kids.

Now I’m not saying that you should drop out of baseball but rather, we have to start reframing our questions in terms of Jesus and getting to Heaven.  Will this help my child get into Heaven?

I personally think that teaching self-discipline to kids is a great way to help them to get to Heaven.  Later they’re going to leave our house and fend for themselves in a world that doesn’t like Catholics and they must be strong.  So whatever lessons I can impart, whatever practice I can give them to make them strong, increases the chance they’ll stay Catholic after they leave my home.  So I definitely like sports and music lessons for helping kids learn discipline.

But like Simon Sinek says, if we don’t understand WHY we’re doing something, it’s difficult to inspire others to join in and to push through when times get tough.  When you and your husband talk about the goals you have for your children and you choose piano lessons as a way to help reach those goals, you’ll feel a more solid conviction when your child whines and says, “I don’t want to go to my lesson.  I don’t feel like practicing.”  It can be easy to say, “Oh he doesn’t like the piano, let’s find something else.”  And that may be true but it may also just be that your child lacks discipline at the moment and this is the very thing to help him learn how to control his emotions.  Learning to control one’s emotions will help to fight the many worldly traps that try to lure one away from Heaven.  Our children must learn to be strong in this way.

“There are only two ways to influence human behavior: you can manipulate it or you can inspire it.”
Simon Sinek,   Start with Why

Sinek talks about how we can manipulate customers to buy your products by dropping the price or using fear or peer pressure.  But manipulations don’t breed loyalty.  Over time, they cost more and more. And they increase the stress for both buyer and seller.  I absolutely think this is true with parenting as well.  If the kids don’t feel like they’re part of the team, like they matter to your family, it’s likely they’re going to begrudgingly follow your rules until they leave the house and do their own thing.

Instead, if you can create a family mission statement, if you can sit down together and talk about how you all work together to get things done, kids will feel more involved.  Here is a book you can get to help you with your own family mission statement: Mission of the Catholic Family: On the Pathway to Heaven

There are two books I love that talk about empowering children so they feel like they’re an important part of the family.  Parenting With Love And Logic talks about giving children choices throughout the day so they feel like their own person.  You may say, “Do you want to wear your jacket or carry it out ot the car.”  Either way, you get what you want, they’re taking their jacket with them but the child feels a sense of independence.  A sense that you respect them.  There are many books in this series.

Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes… in You and Your Kids
is a fabulous book that talks about using honor as the foundation for everything that is done in the house.  Children must honor their parents and their siblings and parents must also honor their children.  We do not use rude voices and we all work together to get chores done so the house runs smoothly.  That honors the whole family.

“When you compete against everyone else, no one wants to help you. But when you compete against yourself, everyone wants to help you. What if we showed up to work every day to be better than ourselves? For no other reason than because we want to leave the organization in a better state than we found it?”
Simon Sinek,   Start with Why

Moms, this isn’t a new idea.  We all struggle with comparing ourselves to others and we’re all losing because of it.  Instead of looking at Sally Great With Crafts, or Linda Bakes a Lot and wishing you could do better, look at yourself last year.  Every time I do this, I feel encouraged.  I will look at my parenting style and my marriage from five years ago and think, “Wow, look how far I’ve come!”  Then I feel excited for how far I’ll go in the next five years.  This motivates me far more than being envious of someone’s amazing handmade birthday decorations.

When you start feeling good about yourself and trying to “beat your old self,” people will notice and they’ll cheer you on.  They’ll want to be part of your energy and your momentum.  It’s like when you lose 20 pounds and everyone wants to know how you did it.  You’ll inspire others and telling your story will also give you extra motivation to stay on track.

Be better than yourself.  Never stop trying.  As Matthew Kelly says, become the best version of yourself.  That’s what we’re here on earth to do.

BONUS TIP:

“For a message to have real impact, to affect behavior and seed loyalty, it needs more than publicity. It needs to publicize some higher purpose, cause or belief to which those with similar values and beliefs can relate.”
Simon Sinek,   Start with Why

MOM TRANSLATION:

“Relate your family rules and goals to what Jesus asks of us.  This will help inspire your family and motivate you to be consistent about what you ask for.”
Sterling Jaquith, Coffee & Pearls

We have three rules in our family.  1. Obey.  2. Be Kind and 3. Be a Helper.  These goals came from the We Teach Virtues program.

And at first I thought, “How can a family only have three rules.”  But really, all rules do fall into one of those buckets.  And each of these rules can be backed up by the bible.  There are many places in the bible where Jesus asks children to obey their parents and then he asks us all to be kind and help one another.

By explaining this to your kids, they have a deep sense of why you’re asking them to do things.  If you’ve sat them down and explained what Jesus asks of us and why we have these three rules, it helps later when you say, “Can you please help your sister put her shoes on.”  If there is a small protest, you can say, “Oh, I need you to obey and be a helper,” and your child will know what that means.

Now I’m not promising 100% compliance.  We still have plenty of time outs for not listening but I don’t  need to justify my requests all the time.  I’ve laid a foundation for WHY I’m asking the kids to do these things. I also hold them to a high standard because I respect them and I know they’re capable of it and I think children really respond to that. It makes them feel good about themselves to have a job and a purpose.

Here is the Start With Why Worksheet for you to work on these tips!

Start With Why Worksheet Image

Go Get ‘Em Ladies!  You Can Do It!

Love,

Sterling Jaquith

Coffee & Pearls Launch!

Scroll down to see the Video, Audio and Text version of this episode!

I’m so excited that this day is finally here!  I’m ready to share Coffee & Pearls with the world.  I’ve been gearing up for this for a few months and I can’t wait to unveil all that I’ve been working on for you.   So before I dive into what this program is going to be about, I want to share with you why I felt so strongly about creating the Coffee & Pearls community.

I fell in love with business when I was 11.  I went huckleberry picking with my family and as we were enjoying a pie made out of these amazing berries, we were lamenting that you can’t buy huckleberry pies at the store.  So I had a great idea to use my brother as slave labor and my grandmother’s kitchen to make my own huckleberry pies and sell them for what seemed like a lot of money at the time.  I calculated the price of all the ingredients and called the business High Rise Pies and create a cute logo.  I was so into writing this business plan that I never actually got around to making any pies!  But it sparked a love of business in me that has never gone away.

I continued to write business plans in high school and in college.  I was always reading books about entrepreneurship, leadership and general self-improvement.  Now anyone who knows me, knows that I have a sanguine personality type.  If you’ve never read The Temperament God Gave You, a person with a sanguine personality type often gets very excited about new things but can sometimes lose steam and forget to finish out a task or a project.  Because this is absolutely true for me, when I found myself running out of energy or excitement for a project at work or a business plan I was writing, I would turn to these self-help books to give me some extra motivation and to get me back on track.

Then all of a sudden, I had a bunch of huge life changes all at once.  I converted to Catholicism, got married, moved to a new city where I didn’t know anyone and had a baby all within one year!  Now at first, these changes all seemed exciting to me.  But as the newness wore off, I found myself feeling lonely, bored, attending a church that wasn’t very welcoming and terrible at my new vocation of housewife and mom.

To overcome my slump, I turned to the books that had always helped me.  But instead of giving me hope, most of them made me discouraged.  They made the life of a business entrepreneur look shiny and fun compared to changing diapers and living a life around naptimes.  They focused on making more money and growing empires which didn’t really apply to my current situation.  My self esteem plumetted even more.

Then I had the idea of turning to books about the Saints.  Here I was, a new Catholic, and one of the cool things about our faith is this treasure trove we have of saints and their biographies or autobiographies.  But those books didn’t turn out to be helpful either.  I wasn’t about to give away all my possessions and live as a monk in 16th century France, so… the wisdom didn’t feel particularly relevant to my life.

I was complaining to my husband that many of the saints had visions of Mary or Jesus giving them guidance about what they should do.  I said, “If Jesus came down and told me what to do, I’d DO it!  I’d do it even if it was hard.”  My husband listened to my pouting and gently suggested I go to adoration and pray about it.

In adoration I stared up at Jesus and begged, “Jesus, if you’d just tell me what to do, I’ll do it!  Do you want me to stay at home with my kids or do you want me to use my talents (which you gave me) to start a business or do you want me to volunteer more?  Whatever you want, just tell me and I’ll do it!”

And that’s when I heard God whisper into my heart, “I’ve already told you what to do.”  And in that moment, I realized He absolutely had told me what to do.  He had, in no uncertain terms, told me to be a wife and a mother.  So many women spend years discerning their vocation but God had already shown me mine.  I swallowed my pride and realized that I had just told Jesus that I would do whatever He told me to do even if  I didn’t like it and even it was hard.

It was in that moment that I realized I was going to have to learn how to be happy living in Toddler Land because I was probably going to be there for a while.

So with renewed energy and a better attitude, I went back to my books.  I tried harder to use the wisdom on those pages and apply it to my life.  And you know what I found?  That kids are a lot like employees.  Husbands are a lot like business partners.  We all need to work on time management, goal setting, budgeting and setting priorities.  And the saint books helped me too!  I discovered that all the saints were sinners just like me.  All of them struggled with self-control.  I could use their wisdom to help me get through my days living in modern day suburbia.

The more I learned, the more I wanted to share this information with others and that’s why I started Coffee & Pearls.

I know many of you are struggling.  It’s hard to be a mom.  Many of us are isolated even though we live in a city of thousands of people.  Many of us were never taught how to manage a house or be effective parents.  And I know a lot of you feel like you’re drowning so the idea of picking up a few self-help books and actually reading them seems impossible.  So I’m here to help!

I’m going to read self-improvement books about business, leadership, time management etc. and I’m also going to read religious books about the saints and how to grow closer to God and I’m going to pull out the points that I feel are relevant to modern day Catholic moms.

Each episode will feature a video, an audio format of the video so you can listen to it on your phone, a written article about the video that recaps all the major points and a worksheet for you to fill out to help you put the pearls of wisdom into practice!  Pick which format is best for you and enjoy a new Coffee & Pearls episode every Monday!

I’m really hoping to create a community around Coffee & Pearls.  Moms, we need Jesus and we need each other to stay on track.  We can always be improving our strategies for being wives, mothers and house managers! Together we can create new habits that make our lives run more smoothly and that help us form relationships that build us up and lead us closer to Christ.

Thanks for being part of Coffee & Pearls!  Have a blessed Day!

Love,

Sterling Jaquith