Grasping for Sanctity (And Sanity!)

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Before I had kids, holiness seemed like something that was attainable, albeit difficult. There was a routine to follow that made sense as ways to “accomplish” sanctity marked by daily mass, holy hours, and personal prayer time. There were opportunities for retreats and confession, and I lived a life in ministry.

Then came the kids. There was no more daily mass or holy hours, confession became more of a logistical challenge, and a routine of personal prayer went out the window. I know that when the kids are older routines will again take shape, but for now I still struggle with seeing the sanctity in my day of diapers and dishes and bedtime. After all, this was my vocation, correct? This sacrament of matrimony and the blessing of children were to be my ticket to heaven, right? Well, they are but it doesn’t look the way I expected or how it looked before, and I’ve struggled with that adjustment.

My intention in starting this blog was to draw connections between every day life and the sanctity I’m grasping for; the closeness with Jesus that I know deep down below my tired eyes, saggy belly, and impatient heart that I am longing for. I wanted to find the deeper meaning in this interior house life of motherhood.

So I have taken a break from writing to collect and find myself, and to find my niche. I don’t want to be “another mom blogger.” There are so many out there (and so many good ones!) that I didn’t want to re-write the same things everyone else was saying and I wasn’t sure if I would even keep the blog going.

Thanks to some encouragement and some inspiration, I’m going to re-focus and try one more time. I’m going to write a weekly (hopefully) reflection on family life and how I’m trying to find holiness in mine. I promise writings that are sincere, honest, and encouraging. I hope you can journey with me as I figure out how this interior house life will draw me to sanctity (and hopefully to sanity).

You know you’re a mom when…

The other week I was leaving the grocery store on a high. I had scored big with sales. And I thought to myself, “You know you’re a mom when the highlight of your week is a deal at the grocery store…and getting to go shopping alone!”

A few days later Timothy ran past me with no pants (or underpants) on and yelled, “Mommy! I went peepee and poopy for you!” As if I should be so proud… And yet I am. And I thought to myself, “You know you’re a mom when poop is a normal part of every day conversation.”funny-moms

So then I asked some of you on Facebook to finish the sentence “you know you’re a mom when…” and here’s what you answered.

YOU KNOW YOU’RE A MOM WHEN…

-when you carry diapers in your purse.

-when you look for products that make you smell and feel as if you’ve showered, without actually showering.

-when you are used to cold coffee.

-when your kids boogers, snot and pee don’t gross you out.

-when you realize you forgot to get dressed for the day.

-when you say things you never thought you’d have to say, like “no we don’t suck on trash cans or dirty diapers.”

-when you find yourself doing the things your mother did but you SWORE you’d never do.

And, you know you’re a mom when you can’t stop praying and offering it up for your kids.

 

Being a mom changes you.

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It’s a conversion, this life of motherhood. Five years ago I would have never imagined my day to day conversations about bowel movements or not being able to shower on a regular basis. I now love to cook and make menus for the week. It’s a game to me to use up all the ingredients in my house. I now enjoy folding clothes at night while watching TV and making my chores part of my “down time”.  My highlights these days usually involved saving money on a good deal or something my kids did or said. 5 years ago my highlights would have been about travel or going out with friends. Then one day your looking at a positive pregnancy test and nine months later everything changes – your hobbies, your dreams, and even your highlights of the day.

But it’s a good thing – the changes; the journey. My husband and I have been watching the Symbolon videos about how our faith is a journey. It seems scary at first to change, to deepen your faith, and what if I have to give up all my fun? But as you get to know the Lord and have a relationship with him, you don’t WANT to sin the way you used to. Your idea of “fun” changes.

It’s the same with your vocation. Your idea of fun changes. As you journey in motherhood and grow to love your children more and more, you can’t imagine life without them anymore. Even with all the snot and boogers and laundry and dishes.

As a child, I use to think my mom was crazy for not waiting to jump in the pool with me or play on the playground. “How can just sitting there and watching me be any fun? How come you just want to be in the background taking pictures?” But as a mom now, I get it. My happiness is watching them be happy. My fun is centered around my family. My desires have grown and changed along with my vocation.

St. Paul says in Philippians 1:6- “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

In encompassing all that motherhood is, we are growing and changing and being brought to perfection through our vocation. The person I am today I couldn’t have dreamed of 5 years ago, but that’s a good thing.

So, you know you’re a mom when you can’t imagine having it any other way!

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From the Spotlight to the Hidden Life

I used to be a youth minister.  I worked in a church where I was in front of people all the time. Talking, leading, and ministering. I had to be on top of my game, spiritually speaking, if I was going to be effective.  Sometimes it was more about deepening my personal relationship, but sometimes it was that outside pressure that kept me going to the UnknownChapel and waking up for daily Mass.  And so there I was, at the Church all the time because I was the face of the youth in our church. I was in the spotlight.

And then I got married. And immediately the kids started coming and I was now at home. All the time. It was more of a hidden life now – for most of the day it was just me and babies who can’t talk. The way I was used to praying involved daily mass and frequenting the adoration chapel, and I no longer had those luxuries for my prayer time. And so my priorities became eating, dishes, and laundry, and it became difficult to find time to pray. “They don’t even know what prayer is; they wouldn’t notice the difference if I prayed or not.” Or so I thought. I convinced myself that my spiritual life wasn’t as important now that I wasn’t in the spotlight.

But I was incredibly wrong. I remember when it hit me. I was in line for confession examining my conscience. It has been a while, but I hadn’t really done anything that bad. I’m a mom now, so I don’t really have time to sin, right? And then I started to recall every time that my husband and I had fought. Every time I had lost it and yelled at the kids, every time that I had failed to discipline in love. I realized that my spiritual life was more important now than ever before because I was responsible for the souls of these tiny children who do not know any better. That I am accountable to my husband and our vows to be leading him closer to heaven.

So while the hidden life, the “interior house life” of a mom may seem inconsequential, it will impact your family and society for generations to come.

I think of Mary, who we know so little about in the Bible, but yet she was the most important person in Jesus’ life. Her role was so great, and yet so hidden. With every newborn comes an adjustment in routine and schedule. But that doesn’t diminish the importance of prayer; I think it increases it.images-2

So now it’s time to be motivated out of love for God, love for my vocation, and love for my family to be striving for sanctity and to find time to pray. Not just to say grace before meals and bedtime prayers, but to find time to be anchored in prayer and to be more like Mary.

“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” Matthew 6:6

 

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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Making Peace with Motherhood: Raising Saints

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There’s the kiddo at 10 weeks! Nathan thinks he/she looks like a dinosaur…

Here’s the big news: we are pregnant with #3! Our oldest, Timothy, will turn 3 in April, and baby #3 will be born at the end of June! Nathan and I will have been married 3 and 11/12 months by then. That’s a lot of threes!

The week before my brother’s wedding in October was a nerve-racking one as I waited to take a pregnancy test. Post-partum charting is much more difficult than people led me to believe, and while we wanted to space our children farther than 18 months apart, we knew there was a possibility we were pregnant again. That week we were just playing the waiting game before being able to find out for sure.

My good friend was in town for the wedding (since it was her sister marrying my brother) and I was crying to her that I was pretty sure I was pregnant again and I wasn’t ready.  I sobbed to her that so many other moms have this “mothering” thing down and it’s just not coming easy to me and now I’ve got to do it all over again.  I just wanted a time when, like it seems with so many other moms, I was wanting to get pregnant again versus having one thrust upon me. I was obviously not at peace with motherhood.

Then came the day of my brother’s wedding. The priest began Mass saying, “The greatest tragedy on this earth is to not become a saint.” That was a good starting point for my mini-journey toward peace as I was reminded that that is what marriage is about: getting each other to heaven.  Then, during the wedding vows, I heard my brother and new sister vow to “accept children lovingly from God.” Those words rung in my ears. I hadn’t accepted Lily so lovingly at the beginning, so I renewed my own marriage vow and promised to love this potential new child I might be carrying as a gift from God.

And then I started thinking about my Confirmation saint, St. Bridget of Sweden. One of the reasons I picked her as my patron saint was because she was a mother. She had 8 children, some of which also went on to become canonized saints. Even as a 13-year old going through Confirmation, I somehow knew that motherhood would also be my path to holiness and that I wanted to raise more saints.

And I realized that although I’m a supporter of NFP and all things Catholic, I was still holding on to a “contraceptive mentality” that we had to be able to have enough space and money and leisure, and having too many kids just wouldn’t be a part of that plan.  I was “open” but I still wanted to be selfish. I had never wanted to be one of those large, crazy homeschool families but I am realizing more and more that that’s what we will be turning into. And I’m becoming OK with that now.  Because my marriage is my path to holiness, and accepting children lovingly from God is my vocation. It’s what is going to make me into a saint, even though it won’t be easy.  So I’m making peace with that.

The night of the wedding I went home to take a pregnancy test that turned out positive. And this time around, although I am still scared of how it will all work out, I am thankful. Thankful that God has believed in me enough to grant me the opportunity to raise some saints. Thankful that so far I have two beautiful, healthy children and an amazing, supportive husband.  Thankful that I am making peace with this exhausting, diaper-filled way of life with 3 kids under the age of 4.

And thankful because I am starting to fully realize my purpose in this life: to raise saints and help my husband get to Heaven. In this, my vocation, there is peace.

A Personal Letter to Single People

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Dear Single People,

Hindsight is 20/20, and that is why I share this with you.

My son woke up at 1am the other night crying. I gave him Benadryl and then he ate two pancakes. While I was rubbing his back to get him to go back to sleep I had some time to think.  Mostly thinking about WYD and how it would’ve been awesome to go but also stressful because I hate crowds. And then how I thought I was going to be a missionary in Belize but I ended up in Denver, so here I am wiping snot all day long and making airplane noises while feeding my baby.

Married life is a vocation, and a cross. It is not glamorous, but it’s fulfilling in that this is how God has asked me to be holy and hopefully raise my children to be holy.  I sometimes look back longingly on my single days when I could sleep through the night and stay out until 11 and actually be invited to things. My dear single friends, relationships are not like what they appear in the movies!

Maybe someday you will be called to marriage, but right now God is asking you to be holy as a single person, and its much better than you think! While I am practicing this interior house life, you are able to be the visible hands and feet of Christ to the world. So instead of wasting all these present moments by pining after a life you don’t have right now, live your life to the full! Volunteer in the things that I cannot do. Volunteer at a food bank, a youth group, a crisis pregnancy center. Use your extra income that you may never have again to “adopt” a child in Africa. Go on a mission trip. Help build a well in a place that desperately needs clean water. If you do not find a ministry that you are passionate about and use your extra time there, may I be so bold to say then you are not only being selfish, but you are wasting away these prime years of your life when you could be making a difference.  Most times you find a spouse when you aren’t looking for it anyway. Or maybe they will be volunteering along side you.

Someday my kids will be older and we will be able to do more outside our home.  But for now that is not the case. So for the sake of all of us moms with young children out there, heed the call of Christ to be his hands and feet. We at home are making/raising our own disciples, but Christ needs laborers of the harvest and right now that is YOU.