My home: the good, the bad, and the beautiful

Recently this post on Momastery called “Give me Gratitude or Give Me Debt” was floating around. After several people had shared it, I decided to read it.  On the one hand, I’m glad I did.  After recently buying a house, I was looking with a critical eye at every crack and piece of dirt, lamenting about what poor shape our new purchase is in.  I still believe parts of it, in its current shape, are a potential health hazard. But I have a house. Not a condo or an apartment, but a house. It has running water, a gas stove, and a huge fridge. It has 4 bedrooms and multiple living areas. It has a deck and a yard for the kids to run around and a shop in the back so my husband can still work yet be close to his family.  When I look at what I can be grateful for, my house is amazing.

So on the one hand I see the importance of needing to be grateful for what I have. But on the other hand, I find nothing wrong with wanting to update your house and make it a place of beauty. My husband remodels homes for a living and he is the best at it. Yet for him it’s more than a job; it’s a work of art. My husband is truly an artist and people’s houses are his canvas. He makes homes beautiful, and beauty is a reflection of God. Whether you have resources to hire someone,  or to put a little DIY effort into it yourself, you are making your house into a home and a place where you want to raise your family.

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Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Because I am a stay at home mother, 90% of my life is spent in my house. The whole point of starting this blog was to find holiness at home in my vocation as a mother. And since the family is the “domestic church,” then our family is raised in our domestic church building of a home. Many riches and some of the greatest talent on the earth has been spent building the most beautiful cathedrals to raise our eyes to heaven. To point us to God and cause us to pause and reflect on the good, true, and beautiful.  So my house is like the cathedral that my domestic church is being raised in. And I should be able to wake up and spend my day with my thoughts pointing to the good, the true, and the beautiful. If my home is a place that I’m proud of, a place of beauty that I can fulfill my vocation in, then I see nothing wrong with a little updating.

Granted, fashions and fads change. Things become outdated. Possessions fade away. And the most important thing is to be grateful for what we do have and to not be envious of the things others have that we don’t.  But that doesn’t mean we can’t be inspired by Houzz or Pinterest and put a little work into making our house beautiful and something we can feel proud of.  Something that can lift our eyes and our spirits to the heavens.

But of course, if you love the 70’s look in your kitchen, roll with it! You never know when laminate and linoleum will make a comeback:-)

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Is going to Church on Sundays enough?

I met a nice young college student at a ministry fair this weekend. He was studying criminal justice and went to church on Sundays. “Oh that’s so nice,” commented the woman sitting next to me. “I’m sure that makes your mom happy.”

“Is there FOCUS or a Newman center where you are?” I asked.

They had some Catholic thing, but he wasn’t in to the “whole youth group thing.”  I get it. There’s more to life than ice breakers and snacks. But the encounter with that young man has been nagging me all week.

That’s because there’s more to life than “just going to Church on Sundays.” We in American have this “good person” philosophy. If we do “good” things, go to Church on Sunday, and are a “good person,” than you will go to Heaven. That’s it.

But our “good person” theory is completely out of touch with reality, and out of touch with the heart of the Gospel message. If my goal in raising my children is just that they are good people who go to Church on Sunday, then I have missed the point of Catholic parenting. Of course, I do hope they are good, and that they go to Church, but I hope and pray for more than that as well.

In last Sunday’s gospel, Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?”  The answer that Jesus is tvan_hornthorst_adoration_children_800x583he Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the Living God – that changes everything. It changed Peter from a loud mouthed fisherman to a fearless leader and the first Pope.

The Incarnation. God becomes man, takes on human flesh, conquers human sin. That’s more than being a good person. It’s being united to the Divine and bringing that relationship with the One who is God into every aspect of our lives. It affects our decisions, our vocation, and everything about us. It brings the Kingdom of God to here and now. A relationship with Jesus is what I hope for my kids.

You see, I am afraid of what this country will look like when my kids are in college. We are all comfy with the ability to go to Church every week and think we have religious freedom. But our government and our culture is increasingly hostile to Christianity. Is forcing a baker to make a cake for a gay couple religious freedom? Is forcing nuns to pay for contraception really religious freedom? This is only the beginning, folks. And if our kids are simply good people who go to Church on Sunday, will they really defend their faith to the point of shedding blood?

MV5BMTA0NjA3MzI5NTleQTJeQWpwZ15BbWU3MDMzOTg0MTg@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_If you haven’t seen it, go watch “For Greater Glory.” I think it’s still on Netflix. It chronicles the war in Mexico in the early 1900’s of the government versus the Catholics. They took away Catholic schools, and then Catholic Churches, and then Catholic priests, and then Catholics. The government tried to eradicate Catholicism completely only 100 years ago. And America supported their government, but thankfully the Catholics won. Look at the life of 14 year old Jose Sanches del Rio who chose death over renouncing his faith.

Look at what’s going on in Iraq, and PLEASE make a donation to help those Christians through Catholic Relief Services. To them, their faith is life or death, heaven or hell. Do you think they are shedding blood because they are “good people?” Or because the Gospel has cut them to the heart, and they are nothing without Jesus. Look at the first Christians and think of the Colosseum. Would our world and history as we know it be the same without these brave martyrs? Do you think they were content just to be good enough to go to Church on Sunday?

Mark my words, we in the United States are not immune to persecution. It’s coming our way, and how will we answer? “Don’t shoot, I’m a good person?” I challenge you, going to Church on Sundays is not enough. A living, breathing, relationship with the Word made Flesh is enough, and that’s our goal as parents for our children.

“The Blood of the Martyrs is the seed of the Church.” -Tertullian (2nd century Church Father)