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!
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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.
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.
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!
Go Get ‘Em Ladies! You can do it!
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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
“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.
“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
“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!
Go Get ‘Em Ladies! You Can Do It!
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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!