Monday, July 27, 2015

And God said, “Don’t worry. I’ve got this.”

Con mi familia en Cholula, Puebla

I heard from a few of you that just reading my previous post made you tired. No kidding! Me too! Writing all of that out was truly an exercise in humility, wondering how in the world it is I do all of those things and reflecting on which of those things, if any, I’m not truly called to be doing.

As I gear up for our school year, typing courses of study and lesson plans, organizing books and materials, my brain is on overload, and I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Understatement. We start in a week, and I’m not done. And I’ve committed to attending a moms’ retreat this week, every morning! The devil is definitely trying to get me to cancel that encounter with Christ, but I keep reminding myself to punch him in the face and not listen (thanks for the awesome image, Kelly).

Anyway, it’s abundantly clear that I can’t do it all. I want more than anything for these precious children to be the center of everything I do, and yet, most of my volunteer service really pulls my focus away from them. I love doing it, but I definitely feel guilty that they sometimes get slighted by meetings and emails and events. On the other hand, by my actions, they learn how important it is to serve others and to serve with a generous heart.

So what to do? God has given me two answers this summer.

One came through the challenging words of an honest friend at one of these meetings who reminded me that if I need help, I should ask for it. Therefore, I will repeat to myself over and over as I work on all of my volunteer activities: delegate, delegate, delegate. Let it go! Teach someone else to do it!

Last summer, when I was overwhelmed, it was because my business relied only on me. I couldn’t delegate. I could only do as much as I could do. The rest wasn’t going to get done, and it wasn’t enough to be profitable. So, I closed the business. But, running a non-profit is different! I have wonderful volunteers to whom I can delegate and who truly want to help! I just have to learn to be humble and let go of my illusion of control.

The other answer, mercifully, came today. I was on my way to Mass, by myself, to a Spanish Mass, because it was the only nearby Mass that fit into my one-car crazy schedule for today. My husband’s car speakers were blaring some Matt Maher, and I decided to put it all out there. God, I said, I know you are calling me to do these things, but I know I can’t remain peaceful amidst it all. You’re just calling me to do too much!

Well, I’m not sure if it was more humble or more stupid to contradict God in that way, but as I’m straining to comprehend the Spanish Mass (I did study abroad in Mexico and lived with a lovely family while attending Universidad de las Americas in Puebla*, but that was over 18 years ago!!!), I began to understand the first reading was about Elisha and the bread of God. I froze, because I knew what was coming for the Gospel.

Isn’t our Church amazing? We know what’s coming! And, here is why our God is unbelievably awesome. This summer, our Catholic homeschooling moms’ group studied Sarah Mackenzie’s Teaching from Rest: A Homeschooler’s Guide to Unshakable Peace. In it, Sarah writes about giving God our poor efforts each day, our measly loaves and fishes that cannot possibly feed all the people we are supposed to feed. You know the rest of the story.

So, I’m trying not to cry as the Gospel is read and realizing that God is speaking directly, intimately to me. He does that. Really. Sometimes you can go years and years without hearing Him, but He is knit into our very being. He knows us and loves us and wants to speak to our hearts the words we need to hear at that moment. He is asking me for my loaves and fishes.

Sarah also reminds us in her book to start each day acknowledging that we are going to mess up. At the start of our academic year, I admit, I will mess up. Probably a lot. But I also know that if I offer my insufficient efforts to God every day, He will multiply my efforts and work through me and many others to make beautiful things happen!

*More proof that God knows our heart. The second collection at this Spanish Mass at this parish I’ve never attended before was for the paint and floors for a new mission church being built in the state of Puebla. So, I took my last $5 in cash that I was planning to use to buy a sweet tea this afternoon (while I waited to meet a few moms to pick up their peg doll saints) and put it in the basket. When I ordered my sweet tea and presented my free cookie coupon to the cashier, intending to charge the tea, and she tells me not to worry about paying for the tea. That was when I knew God wanted me to write this post while I waited. We are each desperately loved by our God. I wish I could stop forgetting that!

Are there activities in your life you should be delegating, whether by recruiting more volunteers or enlisting your family to assist you more? And, when have you offered God your poor efforts that couldn’t possibly be enough but resulted in something more wonderful than you could have imagined?


Tuesday, June 30, 2015

I don't know how you do it

Twice in the past few days as a result of our latest monthly Moms breakfast, someone has said to me, “I don’t know how you do it.” What I hear from mamas who say that to one another is, “Something you do is something I want to do, and I am not sure how to make that happen.” Or, “I am so exhausted doing what I do that there is no way I could do the things you do.” Let us look at those for a moment; then, I will try to answer the HDYDI question.

Something you do is something I want to do

Then do it! What is stopping you? Are you afraid you will fail? How will you know if you don’t try?

I find that doing things I love to do happens easily and actually gives me positive energy to do the rest of the stuff I have to do. I do not love to cook or clean, although I know mamas who do. I love to connect other women with one another. Doing that feeds me, both because I get connected and because my personality-type (ESTJ) thrives on organizing and belonging to groups. (Go here to find your Myers-Briggs personality-type if you don’t know it.)

If you have a dream and you wait until the right time to do it, it might never happen. Sure, there are seasons in life where we need to say no to things, but if you are truly unsatisfied, that could be a prompting of the Holy Spirit to step out in faith and be the one to fill a need in your community. Serving one another selflessly is too rare in our individualistic culture, and sometimes the unfolded laundry has to get piled on the bed in order to have a few moms over for coffee. (And, yes, I realize inviting those mamas to help fold laundry would be even better, but I am a recovering perfectionist and not there yet!)

I am so exhausted there is no way I could do the things you do

Chances are, then, you are not called to do the things I do. Focus on what you are called to do and how to find internal rest in the chaos.

Are you going through a season of motherhood where you aren’t sleeping much? Then, find a way to nap or at least put your feet up twice a day and quiet yourself. Go to bed earlier and put aside the millions of things you should be doing, choosing rest, for now. This, too, shall pass.

What refreshes you? Make a list of the things you love to do, including big and little things that fill your tank. Plan to do at least two small things each day that bring you joy. I call this my joy list, and it includes things like turning on music or doing a quick word puzzle. I keep magazines or a book in my bathroom at all times and sneak a few pages while…

What do I do

For those of you who don’t know me IRL, here are the projects I am currently involved in running outside of my home:
·       Co-director of Saint Anne Homeschool Support Group (, which founded the San Antonio Catholic Homeschool Conference 4 years ago

·       Leader of Grace Days™ initiative in the San Antonio area (, hosting Days of Grace for homeschooling mothers 2-3 times a year

·       Leader of Saint Anne’s Summer Series, directing discussions on various homeschooling topics weekly in the summer months

·       Hostess of Catholic Homeschooling Moms’ Breakfasts, leading monthly potluck breakfasts in my home for fellowship and discussion on some topic relevant to our vocations

·       Coordinator of random swaps among mamas, such as saint peg dolls and activity/busy bags for toddlers and preschoolers about twice a year

·       Trying to start a Catholic homeschool co-op in my area, two attempts two years apart which both failed due to lack of space to hold classes (maybe we will just start a park day this year)

And I clean my house (sometimes and never by myself), educate three children at home, keep the fourth (a toddler) out of trouble (mostly), make three homemade meals a day (usually), keep up with laundry for two little boys and two adults, shop for groceries and run other errands, etc. I check Facebook at least three times a day. I read blog posts that inform and encourage me, except lately my reader has been abandoned, and I only click through from Facebook links. I listen to podcasts. I read real books, usually with one fiction and at least one nonfiction going at a time. I talk with and watch movies with and enjoy time (at home) with my husband regularly. And I blog. Much, much less than I would like.

How do I do it all

I don’t. The end.

You just think I do. There are things you do that I do not do. My dinners are not elaborate. My big kids wash, fold, and put away their own laundry, clean bathrooms, sweep floors. Those floors only get mopped once a month, just before those monthly moms breakfasts. My husband is not an extrovert like I am, and we have no family in town. I rarely leave town. We are not involved at a parish beyond Sunday Mass and fellowship afterwards. It is rare for us to go anywhere on a Saturday, except perhaps to run errands. If it costs money, we stay home. Law school loans. Too often, I tell my kids to leave me alone to do my “work,” forgetting they are my primary “work.” Daily prayer where I sit down to be alone with God is, unfortunately, rare.

And I type this post hurriedly, just before rushing out the door to take a kid to the doctor. That means one kid (who will be going with us) is still asleep. One is playing Wii Lord of the Rings longer than he is supposed to be playing. I do not have shoes or glasses on, so I better…

But, but, but…

Yes, I do accomplish a lot. It’s the way I’m wired. I like it. I have some posts in mind to share my planning process on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis. It’s not perfect. I’m far from perfect. I like a lot of chocolate throughout the day, hot tea in the morning, sweet tea in the afternoon, and a Shiner or a margarita at night (red wine is nice on rare cold days).

Some of my obsession with productivity is learned, too. My father practically raised me on the adage “Much good work is lost for the lack of a little more,” while my mother kept reminding me to “Bloom where you’re planted.” I know that I have talents, and I feel obliged to use them to serve my family and my community.

How do you do it?

So, the honest answer is: by the grace of God. Sometimes I get burned out, because I do too much. Sometimes my family suffers when I make poor choices. Sometimes, though, I see that I helped another mom in her journey towards Christ, and that brings her children closer to Christ. And that’s why I keep saying yes and keep trying to find balance and failing. When I see how God uses me when I serve others, it’s all worth it.

I do it as an offering, as un-humble as that sounds to “say out loud.” I want my kids to notice that I didn’t go to bed one single night where I didn’t spend my day wholeheartedly trying to serve God through serving my family and others. I want to fall into bed exhausted, knowing I gave everything for Him. I want to do the best I can to take care of me, my family, and the people God has put in my life. My love language is acts of service, so I serve in order to love others.

 P.S. This blog post took 9 days to write.

What amazing thing did you do today? Did you listen to a five-year-old’s nonsense story? Did you bite your tongue when criticism was on its way out? Did you accept a phone call from a difficult relative? Did you keep your cool with your over-emotional teen? Did you reach out to another mother in need and encourage her?


Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Saint Anne Homeschool Support Group

My time online these past several months, aside from emails and the time vulture others call Facebook, has been creating and filling our local homeschool support group's website. You can check it out here if you want - We are especially proud that we are trying to connect the many local Catholic homeschooling support groups in one place and post links to Catholic curricula options.

Saint Anne Homeschool Support Group was started as a nonprofit by my friend, Margaret, and me in order to launch an independent Catholic homeschool conference here in San Antonio. We ran three successful conferences and decided to take this year off, as our volunteer team was stretched too far the previous year.

The year off has resulted in a couple of wonderful things and other ways for me to spend my time in service to others. You see, I love connecting Catholic homeschooling mothers. As I mentioned yesterday, I think that women need to connect with other women in real life, and especially homeschoolers need to support one another. A dear friend recently quipped, "I have never worked as hard in my life as I do now as a homeschooling mom!" We need to be around others who understand that while we work harder than we could have ever imagined, we choose this vocation.

So, inspired by Maureen and Michele's Grace Days initiative, I coordinated a Day of Grace for Catholic homeschooling mothers at our beloved Mission of Divine Mercy. The day in late April was a mixture of prayer and fellowship and a fantastic success to push us forward to finish out the academic year with grace. It was such a gift to myself and the other women that I am already planning our second Day of Grace to be held in San Antonio in early August to start off the school year.

Because we did not host an independent conference this year, IHM Conferences came in and hosted a half-day conference of their own. This ministry, funded primarily by Seton Home Study School, is a generous outreach to Catholic homeschooling families. Saint Anne's participated through a book sale and providing local volunteers, but I feel very strongly that IHM Conferences only present one style of Catholic homeschooling. Being a universal Church, there are endless styles, methods, and curricula a family can combine to be successful homeschoolers.

Therefore, I created the Saint Anne Summer Series. We are meeting once a week for six weeks and offering free discussions on topics related to Catholic homeschooling for parents. I will post more details about our topics and how this worked another time, as we have only had one session, so far, but our topics range from why should we homeschool to what curricula options are out there to housework while homeschooling.

As you can see, I am keeping busy with Saint Anne events, and this is yet another reason I have neglected this poor ol' blog, although I love writing and sharing with you!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Friendships for the Lonely Homeschooling Mama

This debate roams the Internet on a daily basis. How much time do we invest in online relationships versus how much time do we pour into our IRL friends and family? For homeschooling mothers, it really is a delicate balance, because we are, in many ways, isolated from the opportunities most other women have to nourish friendships. And it’s one of the reasons I am intimidated to intentionally create community here on this oft-neglected blog.

We all need friends. Period. The end. If you say you don’t need friendships, you are wrong. Our husband should be our first and best friend, but since as women we were created with different gifts than men, women need women. Girls need girls. A man can do his best to try to understand our thoughts and emotions, but ladies, they just aren’t built the same way. It’s important to remember that Christians are not meant to live in an inward-focused isolation. Our Catholic Church is an invitation to live in Christian community with one another, in service and in love. How do we do that when we are at home most of the time in order to homeschool?

This generation has a tremendous gift in the web and social media. We can make and nourish online friendships in a variety of forums from blogs to Facebook, from Twitter to hangouts, from email to Instagram. Online relationships can be convenient for busy mothers, because conversations usually happen outside of set time frames. You often don’t have to be in the same place at the same time to enjoy one another’s company. I also find that online friendships work for both extroverts and introverts, because you decide how much you talk and there is a layer of protection between a shy individual and her keyboard.

But we still need the flesh and blood interactions, too. A hug from another woman, a smile, even a raised eyebrow and a snarky chuckle are essential to our humanity. IRL friendships with faraway friends are often inevitably converted into online relationships. I propose we need to be more intentional about nourishing our nearby IRL friendships and maybe step out on a limb to make new friends or deepen existing friendships in order to grow in humility and holiness.

Years ago, most families didn’t move from state to state, following jobs and dreams, over and over. Consequently, we often don’t have those tight-knit life-long friendships or nearby extended family that our grandparents enjoyed. The internet allows us to keep in touch with IRL friends from far away and to find friends who share the same values and mesh with our lifestyle even if they live far away.

A skill we might be losing, though, is how to make friends with just about anyone. If we are only making friends with people like us, which I have deliberately chosen to do in certain seasons of my motherhood, we cannot truly be open to the prompts of the Holy Spirit to influence change in our lives or to be an instrument of change in the lives of others. Stepping out of our comfort zone at the park with moms who are “strangers” or joining a new group to meet new women can give us that shot in the arm we need.

I also believe that online interactions can be key to filling our emotional tanks as homeschooling mothers. We need a sense of community that, perhaps, men don’t need as much as we do, and it’s very hard to find the time to meet with local friends with nursing babies, teenagers in transition, math lessons, soccer practices, cooking, cleaning, shopping, and everything else. It’s hard enough to find time for the occasional date night with our husbands. Being online can mean the difference between surviving and thriving in this 24-7-365 vocation we have chosen!

Still, I also believe we need to nourish those friendships we have with women nearby, even the ones that seem to take more work than we are willing to give. We were created with a need for one another. Couldn’t you use a real human hug more often than not? To ignore that desire, is to ignore how God created us.

Saint John Paul II said both, “The feminine foundation is relational and other-focused,” and “Friendship, as has been said, consists in a full commitment of the will to another person with a view to that person’s good.” Surely, it is putting our femininity to good use by developing friendships and nurturing other women both online and in real live.

How can you reach out today to a friend IRL? Can you call or text her? Stop by with a plate of cookies or flowers from your yard just to say hello?


Thursday, April 30, 2015


I have been reflecting some on what it means to be busy and whether it is a good thing or a bad thing or neutral. I am definitely a busy person. I like being busy. I make myself busy whenever I can. I often take on too much to keep busy.

But my real internal debate is what it means when someone says, "How are you?" and one responds, "Busy." Is that a complaint? Is it a boast? Is it simply the truth? It could be all of the above.

I feel that if my life were not busy, I would be sad. I want a full life, and I enjoy the busy that comes with being a homeschooling mom of four. I even enjoy the busy that comes from serving others outside of my home, particularly serving other busy, homeschooling mothers.

Now, the trick, I think, is to be sure the busy is God's will and does not prevent us from stopping to smell the roses, so to speak. I must constantly guard against my busy causing stress and negatively affecting those I love. I have to temper my desire to "do it all," because I can't. Some days that's easier than others.

In truth, on the days it works, it's not that hard. I just keep repeating "Jesus, I trust in You." I take the time to listen to my children, read with my children, go outside with my children, love on my husband, and everything else seems to fall into place. God is good that way.

Because really when our busy is serving the Lord, it is a blessing. It means we are giving Him everything we've got and holding nothing back! I have to constantly remind myself to turn back to Him over and over and that all I do is to glorify Him. Then, He gives me rest when I am weary and reminds me that the worry is pointless, enabling me to relax into the busy and find peace despite the rapid pace of my days.

What keeps you busy? Are you good busy or unhappy busy?


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