Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

As some of you figured out and some of you were recently informed by email, I have begun blogging again. This month's posts have been very random. Some are good (imho), but some are not. I have not been following the blogger's rule of including pictures with every post. Perhaps I will get there soon. I simply wanted to begin sharing my mother's heart again with you all.

If you have never been here before, I write about whatever is on my heart, from football to suffering, but mostly about my vocation as a Catholic wife and homeschooling mother. Please consider following me by email or in your reader. You can find links on the right to sign up. ------------->

I cannot promise you will always find something meaningful to you or specifically helpful here, but I am a firm believer that God calls us to certain things even if only for the benefit of one person. He has blessed me with a love for words and (some say) a gift for writing, so it is my hope...

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain;
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.
~ Emily Dickinson

Thank you for visiting me here, and may your Christmas Season be blessed with joyful celebration for the Incarnation and quiet adoration of the tiny Baby Jesus.


Thursday, December 22, 2011

Asking for God's Will

Lately, I am having difficulty being specific with my prayers. I know the Lord wants to hear my needs and the cries of my heart, but it all sounds so selfish when I ask Him for what I think I need. Really, I have no idea what will best lead me to holiness, lead me to Him. Only He knows.

I can ask for healing for a friend's mother if it be His will, but I fail to ask God to help me not to yell and to help my sweet son sleep through the night. I am pretty sure I over analyze my requests. Part of me feels the yelling is up to me to stop, but, of course, I can do nothing without Christ, which is probably why I still holler orders across the house at my children! What if, right now, lack of sleep will lead me to holiness faster than a good night's sleep? It certainly gives me more opportunity to choose virtue in challenging situations (not that I choose it more often, just that the opportunity is there).

I am also constantly working on being grateful for my many blessings and content in the present moment. So, to pray for things to be different seems somehow to contradict this goal in my feeble mind. Yet, I cannot deny that being content with my own faults is contrary to unity with God. Being grateful for gifts and sufferings while asking for aid in overcoming faults and sufferings surely is a balanced prayer life.

Often I do not feel I know how to pray anymore, knowing that God knows what is best for me. My favorite prayer of late is simply repeating, "Jesus, I trust in you." He knows my heart; he knows me better than I know myself and knows what will lead each one of us to our salvation. I let Him lead.

But, I also must follow. I cannot sit idly by expecting Him to drag me along. That is the temptation, I think, of nonspecific prayer. Instead of decidedly walking in Christ's path, I wander aimlessly around, expecting to be guided as a blind woman. I am blind if I cannot see the way to Christ.

He cherishes each one of us and rejoices when we give Him our hearts, not one time, but daily over and over, exposing the vulnerability in making requests for what will delight us. True, He knows what is in our hearts, but the action of supplication unites us more closely to Him. For even Jesus asked Our Heavenly Father to let the cup pass from Him.

Is it as simple as ending each prayer with "thy will be done?" Perhaps. I believe it is more, though, about the disposition of our hearts. I simply am not at peace asking God for little things when there is so much need in this world. Obviously, He is asking me to grow in this way.

Lord, please help me to muster the courage within me to ask you for the desires of my heart. Just as I teach my children to make wish lists for their birthdays and Christmas without expecting to receive everything (or anything) on these lists, send your Holy Spirit to move my tongue to tell you my wishes. Even though you already know the list, I want to offer you the act of love of sharing it with you. I want to love you more!

Have you learned to make requests of God without feeling like you are rattling off a shopping list? If so, please share your wisdom!


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

His Will Be Done in Everything

Speaking this week of God’s will, I am beside myself with excitement about the San Antonio Catholic Homeschooling Conference I am co-chairing this May! We hope this conference will be the “First Annual” and will start official publicity soon. So, this little post is unofficial publicity.

The whole thing started with a casual conversation. My co-chair and I were just acquaintances, and a small group of moms was chatting at our Catholic homeschooling co-op about the upcoming conference season. We all agreed there really should be a conference in San Antonio, as there are ones in Dallas, Houston, and Austin. The only question remained who would initiate such an undertaking?

Well, the conversation just kept going from there, and we agreed to pray about taking on the project. In fact, we very specifically agreed to pray that God’s will be done. We were (and continue to be) confident from the beginning that the Lord will lead us if we trust in Him.

Through prayer, we both felt that the timing was right, and after discussing it with our families, decided to begin researching how to put on a Catholic homeschooling conference. We put out a survey to as many local Catholic homeschoolers as we could to ask them if they would support a conference and to share ideas for our planning. The response was very positive with over 80 individuals saying they would like to attend!

Pretty soon, the Lord inspired a friend to mention the idea to a friend who mentioned she had just spoken with the principal of a local Catholic high school who was interested in collaborating in some way with homeschoolers. Still believing that God would open doors if we were on the right track, I contacted the principal who promptly offered us the entire school for free any weekend of our choosing for our conference. This was an absolute confirmation to us to proceed, and so we chose a date and began to assemble a leadership team.

Those who responded to the survey were asked if they would like to be on the leadership team, and so our team began with a few of our friends and some remarkable new friends, all very talented, motivated, and devoted to the vision and success of the conference. In fact, as we continued to pray for God’s will, each person that stepped forward to join our team perfectly filled a needed role from website design to hospitality needs.

Soon we had chairs for the vendor, speaker, and registration committees and a volunteer to chair a fundraising committee, which we had originally not planned to have. We had additional volunteers serving with these chairs and only lacked chairs for the publicity and hospitality committees.

Meanwhile, my love of books urged me to put together a used Catholic homeschooling curriculum sale to benefit the conference and give us a little seed money. It was a remarkable sale where many families donated books for us to sell and others allowed us to keep a commission of their books that sold. Once the sale was over, I posted the unsold donated books online, and in the end, we made almost $1000 to benefit the conference. Another confirmation we were on the right track!

At this point, we felt it prudent to seek approval from the archdiocese, given that we are a Catholic organization operating within the archdiocese. Again, our entire team prayed fervently for God’s will. Although the prospect of the meeting was intimidating, we had a very fruitful discussion with a Bishop, and he approved our plans, promising to share them with the Archbishop and wishing to continue our relationship.

With a still very limited budget our first year, we knew we would have to invite almost exclusively local speakers or those willing to waive their speaker fees. Another casual conversation among mothers at co-op about this limitation resulted in one mom stepping forward and offering to donate the speaker fee if we could get someone really well known. She invited us to dream big and within a few weeks we had confirmed Dr. Ray Guarendi to be our keynote speaker thanks to her anonymous generosity!

God continues to surprise us as we move forward. We have one family donating hotel rooms for speakers and two other families donating frequent flier miles to fly in speakers. A couple stepped forward to chair our publicity committee, and a dear friend accepted our invitation to chair our hospitality committee. Our meetings are always professional, and our team has been outstanding in completing the tasks assigned. We recently gained the support of a holy young priest to say our closing Mass and give an inspiring talk. We have been truly, remarkably blessed!

I share this lengthy story to point out that even in such practical matters, if we continually seek God’s will and give Him our fiat, He will provide. When we officially announce the conference, I will be sure to post it here! Please pray for our efforts and pray that God’s will be done! Our primary goal is to glorify Him.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1: 38)

How are you preparing for Christmas this last week? Is it hectic baking, shopping, preparing for guests? Take a few minutes with me and think of Mary.

I only caught bits and pieces of our beloved priest's homily on the above Scripture this past Sunday, but one comment has truly stuck with me.  He was speaking to a gathering of young adults, most specifically, about choosing a vocation. I presume most of my readers have already committed themselves to a vocation, but the spiritual advice he offered can be applicable to us all at some point.

Father invited us to think of the greatest desire of our heart and then to think of the opposite thing. He asked if we are prepared to give our true Fiat to God as Mary did by saying yes to the opposite of our heart's desire. Yes is easy when it is something we approach with confidence after much discernment, but God asks for our Fiat even in uncertainty and doubt.

There have been two distinct times in my life when I have struggled to give my Fiat but been rewarded miraculously for my doubtful yes. When I was nearing the end of my senior year in college, I felt with confidence the Lord was asking me to discern seriously a call to religious life. I felt drawn closer and closer to the vocation and further and further from marriage. But, then, I went on a Nun Run and was challenged to see the vocation of marriage in a different way. The Lord was asking me if I was open to the opposite of what I desired at that time. (I keep thinking I have written a post on this story already, but I cannot find it to link. I guess I need to write it!)

He continued to require my unconditional Fiat as he introduced me to the idea of dating a young man I barely knew, which led to discussing marriage with him less than a month later, getting engaged after only three months of dating (we actually met with our pastor after two months to discuss marriage preparation), and marrying a year later (based on our pastor's advice to do so). It was a crazy time, but once I was open to both vocations with all of my heart, the Lord led me to His will for my life, my beloved husband.

Only two short years ago, I had a very early miscarriage. It was after three frustrating years of trying to conceive and was heartbreaking. Through it all, I just felt called to accept God's will. If that meant the desire of my heart to have more children would never be fulfilled, I would praise Him. No matter what. It was a different kind of Fiat, but again, the Lord blessed. A month after we lost Anna, incredulously, we conceived our sweet little boy, who is now 18 months old!

The power of complete surrender to God's will cannot be underestimated. Giving ourselves to Him utterly and completely, knowing that His will is better than anything we could ever imagine is essential to progress in the spiritual life. Ponder this these last few days in preparation for Christmas, just as Mary did. Ultimately what God asked of her is more challenging than anything we will ever face. May Our Blessed Mother pray for us and lead us to her Son by the holy example of her Yes!


Monday, December 19, 2011

True Confessions

One of the greatest lessons this recovering-perfectionist has learned since becoming a mother is to cut myself some slack. Have you learned that yet? It is a work in progress over here, but I think I am doing pretty well. If you know me, and you doubt me, I will post photos to prove it! (once my Internet cooperates!)

Last week, my husband was out of town, and I night-weaned my little guy (well, I use past tense, but...). I barely cleaned. I napped daily. We ate off of paper plates at every meal. "Meal" is a term I use loosely, since my children are happy with cheese and crackers or deli turkey rolled in tortillas most days. Dishes sat in the sink for a couple of days; I did manage to rinse them most days. There was a pile of clean laundry on my living room floor all week (see photo proof), but I was at least getting things washed! We sorted through it when we wanted to find something.

Our schoolwork was light; just the basics got done. We are technically behind, but I figured out a way to rearrange my school calendar that just has us finishing up a few things before Christmas. I had planned very few outings and invited a few people over for various meals (some of which got cancelled when I thought my daughter was coming down with the flu). And, worst of all, I did not shower every day. Two of the times I did shower, I had to scurry out, barely rinsed and dripping wet, to fetch the baby who had woken up at that very moment.

As a new mom, nine years ago, this would have horrified me. I am orderly. I am organized. I do not like cleaning and laundry, but I cannot stand a messy house. But, you know what? I love my kids and know that mommy's sanity requires cutting myself some slack when I am tired and playing single mom for a week!

Are you a recovering-perfectionist who has learned to cut yourself some slack? Or are you one to naturally let things go and struggling to create order?