Friday, December 4, 2015

Celebrating the Jubilee Year of Mercy in My Home

I have been working all week to prepare for next Tuesday, December 8, the beginning of Pope Francis' Jubilee Year of Mercy! While my devotion to Divine Mercy is relatively new, I definitely feel drawn to reflect on God's mercy for us, his pitiful children, and am excited to join my children in reflecting on this theme in the coming year.

Below are my rough notes on what we plan to do each month. This will be our catechesis for the spring semester in our homeschool (currently teaching grades 7, 5, & K). You will notice the second half of the year is not yet planned. That's called margin! I deliberately did not choose themes or activities yet, so I can see how the year goes and complete those plans as we go (just like I only plan one term of homeschool lessons at a time!). Prices are next to items I don't already personally own and need to purchase, although most of the resources are free!  Disclaimer: Amazon links are my affiliate links.

The information below is also available as a Google doc here if you want to print it and scribble all over it yourself. I hope you can find simple ways to make this year special for your family. God's mercy is deeper and more complex than we could ever imagine, and I pray that each one of us grows in understanding and holiness through the Year of Mercy!

Jesus, I Trust in You!


Official Website

Monthly Goals

Mom’s Goals

December – (ADVENT) Learn about Year of Mercy

January – God’s Mercy in Scripture

February – (LENT) – Spiritual Works of Mercy

March – (LENT) – Corporal Works of Mercy

April – Divine Mercy, St. Faustina, & Other Saints of Mercy

May – Mary, Mother of Mercy

June – Confession: the Sacrament of Mercy




Our Lady of Mercy (September 24)


Saint Faustina (October 5)


Other Ideas

Print this packet to use throughout the year

Keep checking this growing list of resources

Use this YouTube playlist for kids about mercy

Archdiocese of Philadelphia Year of Mercy Booklist to Complement Reflection Themes

M = Mary, Mystery, Mission
E = Eucharist, Evangelization, Encounter
R = Reconciliation, Rosary, Renewal
C = Consecration, Community, Conversion
Y = Your Family, Your Parish, Your YES!

Other Books to Consider Purchasing for Me/Big Kids/Moms' Group Study:



Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Lay It All as an Offering

A wise and holy priest once counseled me on a practical way to shed worries and burdens, which continues to renew me regularly nearly 20 years later. He invited me to enter into prayer and imagine myself in our church before the altar. Take a moment and picture your own church when it is empty and quiet. Then, I picture in my mind some tangible item that could represent each worry or burden and move each item from within me onto the altar, one by one until they are no longer my cares but offerings to God.

My children and husband are often up there, sometimes in duplicate but with slight variations representing specific concerns. I generally stack up some homeschool books, including my planning binder, and something related to finances. Friends or colleagues of mine stand next to laundry baskets and a mop. Those dirty dishes are near terrorists and some extended family members along with my NFP charts and that neglected treadmill. It's always quite an eclectic mix!

I still return to this practice, quite regularly, and I invite you to try this prayer exercise if you are the worrying type or feel particularly burdened these days. The most remarkable element of these times with God, for me, is when I finish my prayer and open my eyes, leaving those items up there on the altar. It is oddly therapeutic to spiritually walk away from them, knowing they are in God's hands, for now. In fact, throughout the following days and weeks, a mental picture of those items lined up next to each other often comes back to me whenever I am tempted to despair in worry and stress.

What items would you line up on the altar to unburden yourself today?

Monday, November 30, 2015

An Abundance of Advent Assistance!

For all the evil and temptations out there, I have to admit that I love the internet. It's existence is making motherhood and homeschooling so much easier for me since, like many moms these days, I'm not around the block from my family the way things used to be.

So many beautiful talents are on display, and I'm grateful for each one who shares a little of their light, allowing Christ's mercy and God's goodness to shine. If you are one of those who share online, whether by blogging, through social media, or in some other way, thank you for the way you share of yourself and allow the rest of us to benefit from your gifts.

Proof of this is in the multitude of Advent help we can access from devoted men and women who are walking the journey to Christmas with us. There are definitely ideas for family and for children, but I specifically want to point out the resources that I feel can benefit moms at home. In fact, this is the first Advent I really feel like I have a plan for ME to grow these days leading up to the celebration of Jesus' birthday.

Admittedly, my ambitions are high, and you will see from my list below that I do have too many things. But I am looking at these all as options. Some days I will get to prayerfully reflect on all of them. Many days I will only enjoy one or two, and inevitably, there will be days (plural!) that the shortest Advent email I receive will be the only thing I read.

If you have not yet found something to inspire you in this season of preparation, try one (yes, just one) of the following (free unless noted):
Comfort & Joy: Living the Liturgy During the Advent Season ebook by Elizabeth & Kristin Foss ($9)
Waiting in the Word: A Mother's Advent Journey ebook by Laura, Nancy, & my friend Nell ($8)
The Greatest Gift: Unwrapping the Full Love Story of Christmas ebook by Ann Voskamp ($6.30)
Danielle Bean's Advent Daily Prayer emails
Dynamic Catholic Best Advent Ever email videos
Bishop Barron's Daily Advent Reflections emails
Advent Daily Dose emails by my friend Katie
Advent Boot Camp post by Meg

And then, not Advent specific, but I'm also enjoying:
Pray More Novenas email subscription
Divine Mercy Daily email subscription from Lighthouse Media
Morning Offering email from The Catholic Company

What are your favorite ebooks or email subscriptions to help you with daily prayer, whether they're Advent-specific or not?

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It's Never Too Late to Cross It Off Your List

Your lists are made, at least in your head, if not on paper. (Mine are half in my head and half on paper, so I don't have to face how long and unrealistic they are!) You have Advent plans for your family, your homeschool, and (hopefully) yourself. You have feast day plans and social plans and family gathering plans. You definitely have Christmas plans and even New Year's plans are starting to form. Most of us are doing too much, or trying to do too much.

It's the first Sunday of Advent, but I want to tell you that it's never too late to cross something off of that list! It's never too late to cut back, do less, simplify. Because what happens when we do less is that we pay more attention to the things that we do and, more importantly, the people that we do them with. We aren't halfway through one thing and already thinking about the next.

So just because you did it today or planned it for tomorrow doesn't mean your list can't change. In fact, I urge you to take your fancy lists and cross off at least a quarter of the things on it. I challenge those of you with longer lists to cross off at least half of those things. Your family will still feel loved. You will not be less of a mom than that other mommy or less of a Catholic or less of a homeschooler. As you set things aside, you will encounter love and peace like never before.

I'm learning this. Little by little by little. Rest and margin are key to peace. And a mama without peace does not create a happy home.

Please tell me in the comments what one thing you are crossing off right now!