Wednesday, October 15, 2014

My Fear of Ebola

Fear is not from God. I believe most Americans don't regularly experience true fear, worry maybe, but not fear. And yet, as many of us read the news this week, we are struck with our first dose of true fear. Ebola is in the United States, and those charged with protecting us from its wrath are making costly mistakes.

I live in Texas. Those of us who are proud to call Texas home are often passionate about living here. Today, though, we are in shock that such a travesty as Ebola could invade our precious "promised-land." And yes, we are scared. We are mommies and daddies who are fearful this plague will threaten our families. We are Christians afraid for those two young women who are sick. We are Americans fearful of how widespread this epidemic will be.

What do we do with that fear? Some will say it is a healthy fear, akin to fear of the Lord. If you read any details of what this virus does to the human body, it seems reasonable to be scared. I am not so sure. I think, rather, that today's headlines should inspire fear of the Lord.

Personally, what I want more than anything today is for someone to tell me that it's all going to be okay, but no one can tell me Ebola will not spread. We just don't know what the coming days and weeks and months will yield.

But what I hear in my heart is a reminder that whether I live or die, whether those I cherish are sick or healthy, whether this disease is stopped in its tracks or invades us from sea to shining sea, it's all going to be okay in the end if we stay close to God now.

So here are five things I am doing to combat my fear and take comfort in the peace of God.

  1. Repeat "Jesus, I trust in You" over and over, whenever my worry threatens to derail me.
  2. Go to Confession much more frequently. And make sure my family goes, too.
  3. Hug and enjoy my children. I am going to keep seeking to live an abundant life.
  4. Stock up on some essentials. If there is going to be mass panic, I would prefer to stay home.
  5. Boost my prayer life. Time spent in building a relationship with my Savior will ultimately lead to my sanctification.
What I am doing to conquer my fear and uncertainty is to decide to prepare (as much as possible) myself and my family for a good death, whenever that might be. We are aiming for Heaven. It is something we should all be doing all the time, and turning the energy of worry into such a productive pursuit can only bring blessings. Remember, many saints would invite the Lord to send suffering upon them, knowing the redemptive nature of suffering, hoping for more opportunities to unite their suffering to His, and desiring to be face to face with Him as soon as possible.

The Bible uses the phrase "be not afraid" 365 times. Have no fear, my friends. May God's will be done in the living and in the dying. St. Joseph, patron of a happy death, pray for us.

Lord, please bless and protect Nina, Amber, all those caring for them, and those who have had recent contact with them. Send your healing power upon their souls and their bodies, so they might give you honor and glory today and always.

Bless Your Heart!


Monday, October 13, 2014


I have all sorts of deep thoughts swimming in my head these days. Thoughts that are too deep to process and publish just yet. But I thought I would share a challenge I received in Adoration last week in hopes that it might speak to someone else.

The days are hard, right now. This season of mothering, the worries of the world outside these four walls, and the weight of daily duties wear me thin before I even get out of bed each morning, and they keep me up at night, very, very late. I try to escape in Facebook and Amazon Instant Videos, but I know I need more God.

Yet, in prayer, I recognize that He is all around me every day. I have these four beautiful, remarkable children who are healthy and happy (most days). My husband is my rock and my encourager, my best friend and my true love. There is nothing we need that we cannot obtain, and we enjoy leisure and indulgences regularly. We are blessed, and it is all from Him. Every day, as I snuggle with my toddler and chat with my tween-ager, I feel His presence, guiding me, and I acknowledge Him with gratitude and cry to Him for assistance many times every day. I have absolute faith that He is real and offers to me (and to all of us) tremendous graces every day.

Caught by my son in a rare moment actually sitting down

The 30 minutes of Adoration I was able to enjoy last week sped by so that it seemed like five minutes. Such precious time with my Savior. I want to spend a little quiet time in prayer every day, and I have wanted that for a long time. It is a reasonable goal, yes? At home, though, there is always something else I could be doing, and I am reluctant to take the time to sit and pray, to rest in His presence. There are always interruptions either from my children or my restless mind.

Gazing upon the Eucharist, I beg for his help. I desire prayer. How can I make it happen? In the past, I have had to pray for the desire to pray, so I reflect on the almost burning desire that currently pursues me. The challenge I hear in my heart is crushing: Desire is not enough. An act of my will is the only way to respond to the immense love of my Almighty God.

Not to say that my response is required for any particular graces to be poured upon me or my loved ones. No, Jesus's love is so wide and so deep that He will shower us with graces even when we do not acknowledge Him at all. Nevertheless, since I truly desire to grow in my faith, a response is demanded not by God, but by my own desire.

Jesus, I Trust in You

How will I respond to His love? That is the only question I need to answer each day. I can allow distractions to rule me, or I can conquer them with an act of love of my own. If I want to grow in relationship with my Lord, I absolutely must give back to Him the first tithe of the precious time He has given me.

In Confession a few days after this inner dialogue, I was offered advice. Father clarified that this is not my penance but instead is something he believes would make a big impact to turn from the sins I confessed and answer the challenge I heard in Adoration. He urges me to find 30 minutes a day where I can go into my room, close my door, and be with Him. This priest is wise and understands well the challenges of a homeschooling mother, but he insists that the lesson I can teach my children through requesting of them these 30 minutes of uninterrupted time is more valuable than the math or the writing lessons. I know he is right.

That was Friday. Today is Monday. I moved our recliner from the living room into my bedroom today, to give myself a place to sit and pray. Perhaps tomorrow or the next day, I will explain to my children Father's advice and take the plunge. My will is so weak. It is so hard to sit still.

The recliner with laundry symbolically and literally impeding my progress
Please pray for me, dear friends, and I will pray for you!

Bless Your Heart!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Edel…the Really, Really Late Version Part 3: What I Took Home

You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

It is no small thing to say that an 18 hour event changed my life in a dramatic way. Edel healed parts of me that I did not realize were hurting and resurrected parts of me that I had lost amidst my immersion into motherhood.

I am inspired to be a better me:

As I finally write this post, I chuckle a bit that my Edel roomie Nell just wrote this piece on how you are not defined by your child. One of the things I took home from the event was the idea that I need to remember to be me, to be the unique, broken soul that God created.

After 12 years of motherhood, I know that my job is important. I know that I am the center of my children’s entire world. However, I often have focused a terrible amount of energy on orchestrating the world for my children, so much so that the work, not the love, has been my goal.

The only way to truly be me is to be the person God created me to be. The only way to figure out how to be fully me, then, is to grow closer to Him. I need God. I need to see things through His eyes and spend time in relationship with Him. Of course, we all know that, but my actions must prove my belief. Prayer has to be a higher priority than it has been in order for me to find peace in being me. To that end, I have finally made time to listen to the amazing Series on Prayer given by Fr. John Riccardo. I highly recommend it! (scroll to the bottom of the link or find them on iTunes)
Me being me


I am inspired to be a better homeschooler:

And I quickly shared on my FB page this gem posted at Simple Homeschool on the most important thing you’ll ever do for the success of your homeschool. Jamie’s words echo what the Lord has put on my heart most adamantly this year, that the focus in my home, in my homeschool must be nurturing relationships with each of my children.

A huge part of developing those relationships has to be in sharing about our faith. I do not just want to catechize my children. I want to evangelize them. I hope to teach them about the burning desire in my heart for union with God and what the Church teaches on how to know, love, and serve Him. I can repeat until I am blue in the face that the most important thing about homeschooling is not reading, writing, or arithmetic, but unless our homeschool lessons devote time to building relationships with each other and with God, I can not succeed. (By the way, I believe one of the best ways parents can build meaningful relationships with their children is reading aloud to them from birth to age 18, and you can find wonderful guidance for that by listening to Sarah’s lovely podcasts!) 

Praying at St. Mary's Cathedral in the quiet
I am inspired to be a better friend:

Although I have long been a believer in the absolute necessity of creating community among women, especially through my monthly Catholic Homeschooling Moms’ Breakfasts these past four years, the Edel experience urged me to expand my community. I was absolutely blown away by the diversity of the women that sacrificed time and money to attend the event, mothers, grandmothers, married women without children. They were first-time mothers, mothers of many, adoptive mothers, homeschoolers, public schoolers, and Catholic schoolers from Canada to Oregon, from Virginia to down the street in Austin. I  met converts and cradle Catholics, those who attend the TLM and those who embrace the charismatic movement. I quaked in the presence of online superstars and nonprofit founders and smiled in admiration at the moms who move mountains only within the four walls of their domestic churches.

As a result, I am even more convicted that moms often experience a “poverty of relationship” as Jenny said in her welcome speech at Edel. Through such wonderful opportunities as the St. Gregory’s Pockets being launched by the ladies at Like Mother, Like Daughter and the Spa Party Package my old friend Katie just published at Kitchen Stewardship, I am inspired to find ways to encounter new women, make new friends, and think outside the box when it comes to what defines my community.

Beyond these new approaches, I am also trying to stay in better touch with the friends I do have. My goal is to call a friend at least twice a week and actually talk on the phone, not email, not FB message, not text, but talk. I also get to have at least one and maybe two mommy dates with my closest friends every month! So far, my BFF and I have met for lunch at Panera, brunch at IHOP, and bowling with a little thrift store mining afterwards!

A renewed friendship thanks to Edel

I am inspired to be a better wife:

I have planned more dates for my husband and me within the past two months than in the past two years of our marriage. We have gone out a handful of times and enjoyed one another’s company so, so much! Part of this was made possible by the unexpected weaning of my then 16-month old when I returned from Edel. Originally I was devastated that he was refusing to nurse; it had been my biggest fear about leaving him behind. My other three babies nursed until right around age two, and none drank milk until they were three or four. But, it turned out to be a great gift to my marriage to be able to leave him with a babysitter and know he would be fine.

For years, I have lamented that it should be my husband who plans dates and takes me out! But, he is at work all week and loves when I arrange a babysitter for a night out or an afternoon getaway. It’s been so much fun! And, ladies, when you start to date your husband more often, it’s usually easier for me (and more enjoyable) to meet his needs in the bedroom, because your emotional needs are met! ;)
The quote on our dinner table
I am inspired to believe that I am a better-than-acceptable mom:

Yes, I am doing a good job. You are doing a good job. We love our children. They are a part of us forever through microchimerism. Go look it up. I’ll wait. (Here’s a brief article.) Therefore, our lives will always include them, even when they are far away from us. There is no such thing as the perfect Catholic mother, as Marion reminded us so eloquently at Edel, and yet, you are the perfect mother for your child. God gave you to each other and designed it so that even our DNA is intertwined, so of course, that must be true.

I am getting better at acknowledging the small victories in my mothering and remember that when I struggle to be a good mom, I am doing exactly what God wants me to do today. When I feel like a mean mommy for sending my 4 year old to time out for the third time in a row or when my heart aches to pick up the tantrumming toddler even though I know to redirect his whining, in those moments at least, I am getting this mommy thing right more times than wrong. I still say yell the wrong thing, and there is always room for improvement this side of Heaven. Edel taught me that God is happy when I try.

Dear college friends who happen to be amazing moms, too!

Now, if you read this far and are still curious about how other women experienced the 2014 Edel Gathering, head on over to Jen’s recap post Fill the Cathedrals and check out the links at the bottom! And, if you want to attend Edel 2015, here are the details. I am not sure if I have a roommate yet, but I do have a hotel reservation, so let me know if you want to room with me!


Bless Your Heart!




Friday, September 26, 2014

Dessert or Breakfast? Either Time = Momspiration!

Our monthly Catholic Moms' Homeschooling Breakfasts have expanded to include a Thursday evening Dessert gathering for those who cannot attend on Saturday mornings. We met at both times last week for September. Here are the notes (blurry, crooked photos courtesy of my 4 year old with my iPhone!):

This month, we became acquainted with Momnipotent: The Not-So-Perfect Woman’s Guide to Catholic Motherhood by Danielle Bean.

1.       I explained why I am excited to study this book together:

·     The book was given to me free this summer in our swag bags at The Edel Gathering, and I think the quote on the cover encapsulates my feelings about it. “…this book is a breath of fresh air for the weary mother’s soul. It will bring hope and encouragement to any mom who has ever uttered the words, ‘I can’t do this.’” I know all moms have been there in that moment, and I think we need to admit it, talk about it.

·     Momnipotent is defined as “the special array of gifts given by God – lived out in particular through the vocation of motherhood – that blesses our families and the world.”

·     I think as homeschooling moms, the mom part of our vocations can get lost under the curriculum and lessons and schoolwork. It’s important to me to nurture the relationships in our home, and homeschooling is one way we do that. Remembering that I’m first their mother, then their teacher is key to those relationships staying healthy. Hopefully, reflecting together on our motherhood will inspire us to treasure our vocation even more.

2.   We watched a portion of the DVD, including the introductory video showing various mothers and children with the children sharing why they love their moms. Some of us needed Kleenex. We also watched Danielle Bean’s introduction to the study, where she explains how it works and the importance of women coming together to share about our vocations as mothers. The third segment we watched was where she presented three questions for reflection and discussion:

·     How do you feel about the fact that we are meant to find fulfillment in our motherhood, not despite it?

·     How do you feel about the worldly temptations to find affirmation and the perception that motherhood is somehow beneath us?

·     How do you feel about the special gifts given to you as a mother by God, in which we can find true happiness?

Then, rather than watch the bulk of the video where the moms discuss these things with Danielle bean, we discussed those questions on our own…

3.    How do you feel about the fact that we are meant to find fulfillment in our motherhood, not despite it?


·     I feel so grateful to have a positive community around me. My family is full of stay-at-home moms, and they are very supportive.

·     I want it to be normal for my children that moms stay at home, not rare.

·     My homeschool friends are the most supportive.

·     I want my daughters to have good mothers as role models.


·     In the beginning, with my first child, I dropped my dreams of world fame and a prestigious career. Then, I was feeling very small and little, weak, but when I pray I find out it is a blessing from God.

·     We have to sit down, think, and be at peace with motherhood.

·     In Mexico all moms work. They ask me why do you do this to yourself? Why are you at home? It’s unacceptable, and they don’t understand.

·     It is important who you spend your time with, family, friends, etc. Find who shares your goals and beliefs.

·     Often people say we need to do “this thing” for our own happiness. They ask how can you stay home? Don’t you get cabin fever? Don’t you hate it?

·     When you quit your career, your friendships shift. They go out to party, and I can’t imagine doing that.

·     I am told I am wasting my education.

·     My friends worry that my husband has power over me if I’m not earning any money. I do sometimes feel guilty spending “his” money. I need to shift my thoughts.

·     It’s hard to get time for myself, yes. It’s necessary as a stay-at-home mom, but it doesn’t have to be excessive. We should encourage one another to take some mom time.

·     When I go out on my own or with friends, I look at it as an opportunity for my husband to do things “his way” with the children. It is a chance for them to bond in a different way when I am gone, a gift to them.

·     Some say “I’m a better mom because I work.” How is that possible?

4.   How do you feel about the worldly temptations to find affirmation and the perception that motherhood is somehow beneath us?


·     I miss the affirmation of others from the workplace.

·     Working moms can have the correct attitude towards motherhood, too.

·     Is the need for affirmation a healthy thing? Where should we seek our affirmation?

·     As children get older, the relationship we have with them and their comments can encourage and affirm us.

·     I am so comfortable having my children around me all of the time. When kids were in school and I had lots of “me” time, I did not feel connected to my kids.

·     Public school kids often don’t want to spend as much time with their little siblings.

·     I feel my daughter sometimes feels separated from the family even when she participates in her sport on her own. She has a need to reintegrate to the family.

·     I am confident in my homeschooling, and I tell other about it.


·     Look to Mary.

·     Read The Privilege of Being a Woman by Alice von Hildebrand.

·     There is such a focus on your college major. What do you want to be when you grow up? Pick one thing and study it.

·     I knew I wanted to be a mom, even unconsciously.

·     It has been hard for me to even understand the concept of a woman choosing not to go to college and earn a degree, but it makes a lot of sense if you don’t have a need to spend all that money or go into debt. I just grew up with that expectation.

·     I am often asked when I’m going back to work or what I’m going to do to earn money.

·     When I adopted a child, my heart was taken out of me. I had to take a year off from working due to the intense emotion in becoming a mother.

·     My working years are my previous life. My children barely know about that time. Yes, our income is half what it was, and that’s a sacrifice.

·     I was told I will regret quitting my job, but I don’t.

5.   How do you feel about the special gifts given to you as a mother by God, in which we can find true happiness?


·     The gift of gentleness shows when my children are sick or injured.

·     Women are emotionally strong and can hold it all together.

·     Relationships are important to women.

·     We demonstrate empathy.

·     We keep things alive, literally and metaphorically.

·     The world thirsts for a mother’s love. They need it and don’t know it, so broken and hurt.

·     I am afraid of being too awesome, so my boys won’t find a “good” wife. Pray for their spouses now.

·     We need to love on all of our kids, touch them, especially the big kids. Begin with morning hugs daily.

·     Connect with our children during Morning Prayer. Evening Rosaries or Night Prayers are good, but don’t start the day without praying together.


·     I find happiness in the adventure of motherhood.

·     Prayer helps me recenter.

·     There is cultural pressure to “have it all,” but it doesn’t work.

·     I am told to put my wants and needs ahead of children.

·     We have lost the value of redemptive suffering in our world.

·     But older couples in my neighborhood say they regret not spending more time with their children when they were growing up. And people with children often say, I could never stay home with them. Older people say, I wish I did.

·     My family is not supportive. My parents test my kids on reading and knowledge. It’s frustrating.

·     There is such a unique quality to family life, a treasure. There is more peace.

·     The attitudes of my children and me changed when I brought them home from school. I am happier, more tired, but happier.

·     If you had a stay at home mom, you remember that.

·     Only moms can breastfeed, nurse sick children, clean vomit, stay awake long hours, be quiet amidst the chaos.

·     We are nurturing. We are excellent at multitasking. We are cheerleaders for others.

·     Read the book Men Are Like Waffles, Women Are Like Spaghetti. There is also a YouTube video with the basics.

·     We bring peace to our husband’s anxiety. We are supportive and understanding.

·     Learn about the Five Love Languages to be a better wife.

·     If one is not willing to serve her husband or vice versa, divorce is likely.

·     We are excellent organizers.

6.   I closed by reading the reflection in the journal. It is about how we are the hidden, behind-the-scenes of our family life. We are rarely acknowledged, but we play a really important role.

7.   At Breakfast, there were two specific questions from moms regarding homeschooling issues…

How do you work with a child who refuses to homeschool? She is 7 years old, very stubborn, possibly ODD, first year homeschooling.

·     Spend a lot of time just playing and building your relationship with her.

·     Let her learn what she wants for a while.

·     Let her help with her younger siblings, teach them.

·     Take the word “school” out of your vocabulary with her. Play games.

·     De-school her for about six months. She will catch up.

·     Losing a year is not a concern with homeschooling. We have so much more time with our children than the schools do.

·     If she won’t do some work, she can clean instead, rather than be idle. Bathrooms.

·     Have special time with just her to read stories and enjoy one another.

·     Let your middle school kids take 30 minutes each with the two little kids, so you can focus on her.

·     Read For the Love of Literature and use the booklist to learn by just reading and narrating together.

·     Do lots of things orally, not written. This can ease her stress.

·     Pray.

How are people/parish handling sacraments for their homeschoolers? I prefer not to use religious ed as we are more thorough at home.

·     There is no archdiocesan policy as far as we know in San Antonio. It is up to each parish priest and DRE.

·     There is often not usually a parish policy. Many approach this on a case by case basis.

·     Go talk to the DRE and then to the pastor if necessary. They often make exceptions if they know you.

·     Using the same books that your parish uses helps to get permission to do catechesis at home.

8.   I closed by sharing the topics of each chapter in the book, namely the strengths of momnipotence and their corresponding potential weakness. Next month, we will be discussing how we as women appreciate beauty but are vulnerable to materialism and envy. The subsequent strengths are: We feel things deeply; We have high ideals; We are natural nurturers; We are naturally generous; We are master multitaskers; We notice the details; and We are sensitive to the needs of others and stand up against injustice.

If you're local, I hope you can join us next month! If not, look for the encouraging notes at the end of October.

Bless Your Heart!