Joy in the Chaos

By Sarah McDonald

This weekend was one of those weekends. Between having to take shifts at the soccer fields all day Saturday, the kids seemingly doing everything in their power to annoy one another (and us), and my husband and I both fighting off those colds that hit you when you are just tired and worn down.

By Saturday night, I was already done.

Then came Sunday evening.

The kids started to get along, because they would rather do anything than clean their rooms, so we were on the right track.

I realized that all seven of us were in the kitchen, each doing our own “job” to prepare dinner, even if that role was to sit in the rock ‘n play quietly smiling so mom can slice the onions.

There was lots of noise, there was a lot of action, and there were a lot of smiles.

Everyone was happy. In that moment I was filled with joy in the midst of our chaos, and, in that moment, I stopped to give thanks to God for my family and our own grace-filled chaos.

Primary Vocation is at Home

By Kevin Sprehe

A daily difficulty I face is turning off work. My life, what I do and how I need to think and operate does a 180-degree flip as soon as I walk through my doors.

How I relate to a coworker or client just isn’t the same as when I interact with my kids or my wife who has had a full day with four little kids.

How do I turn off the work version of me and turn on the husband and dad version so quickly?

Unfortunately, it isn’t as easy as flipping a switch. Whether you have a five-minute commute or an hour, I’ve found that time between work and home is crucial.  Make it a priority to get any last thoughts, stresses, frustrations and to-do items out of your mind.

Personally, I run through those items in my head on the way home. Then, I hit this point on the way home where the speed limit goes from 35 mph to 20 mph. It is precisely at this point that I am given the reminder to, literally, slow down and to give it all over to God.

Those items can wait until the next morning. If they can’t, maybe, it’s time to ask yourself if you are in the right profession as a dad of little kids.

For many dads, our time with our kids is quite restricted, so when the evening time occurs, let it be restricted to them alone.

My priority has to shift to my home where my primary vocation truly lies.  I remind myself that I am responsible for the other five souls in this house, and the way I come home and respond to them can have lasting impacts on them.

God will likely not care as much about the amount of emails I send out each day or the buildings I complete.  He will more likely judge the way I love and serve my wife and the time and love I give to my children.

Who Are You?

By Leslie Bertucci

“If you are what you should be you will set the world on fire!”

This quote from St. Catherine of Siena has always been one of my favorites.

In my experience with youth ministry as well as with parenting, one of my greatest goals has been to show the kids who they really are, who God created them to be.

But this is easier said than done.

So many people today, especially young people, hang their identity on what they do rather than who they are. Or worse, they base it on other people’s opinions, which are often negative.

To these kids, I just want to speak these lines of a poem I wrote several years ago:

Maybe we all need to hear it again.

Maybe the last time was, I don’t know when.

It just needs to sink in again and again like a song:

We are beautiful, we’re beloved, we belong

To the Father who made us.

We are beautiful, we’re beloved, we belong.

The simple truth is this: Each of us is a beloved child of God. Before we are a mother or father, son or daughter, spouse, student, artist, athlete, gamer, writer, doctor, lawyer, laborer or friend. Our core identity lies in Christ.

As soon as we realize this, we will set the world on fire.

Come Holy Spirit, show us who we really are.

Answering God’s Call

By Ty Salvant

Like many families, when our oldest was 3, we began looking at schools. We gathered information on early childhood programs and potential schools for children his age.

When considering what was offered, I wasn’t drawn to any of the options for various reasons and eventually contemplated homeschooling.

When I proposed the topic to my husband, Derrick, he was hesitant. His initial concerns included socialization, my commitment to the process and his example for our kids.

After reading several books on homeschooling and praying for guidance, we had a few more conversations. I acknowledged and addressed Derrick’s concerns.

Fortunately, homeschooling has changed over the past 30-plus years, and parents no longer homeschool in isolation. Quite the opposite. There are so many groups, co-ops, classes and opportunities to interact with other kids during the day that it can be a struggle to make time for academics!

I have many passions, and I’m always drawn to the next new thing, so wondering about my commitment was valid.

The compromise we made was to reevaluate the decision on an annual basis to ensure that we were both satisfied with the progress that we were making.

Finally, regarding his example, we discussed that school doesn’t necessarily change personalities. He was quiet when he started and finished school, and I was quite the opposite. Neither of our school experiences changed who we were as individuals.

When Derrick and I married and talked about our future, homeschooling was not on the radar. AT ALL! However, I am so happy I answered God’s call, as it has been one of the biggest blessings to our family.

Busy vs. Abundant

By Stacy LaMorte

I love to read and listen to books about positivity and self-growth because they make me feel good and give me the hope of how to have a happy outlook even during those times that aren’t going so well. (And to be honest, they are easy to pick up and put down when you only have a few minutes to read before you, literally, can’t keep your eyes open any longer at night!)

I can’t remember which book I was reading now, but it talked about the concept of using the word “abundant” instead of “busy” when you describe your day, or your life for that matter.

Let’s look at those two words.

The American Heritage Dictionary defines “busy” as 1. “Actively engaged in some form of work; occupied.” 2. “Crowded with activity.” 3. “Cluttered with detail to the point of being distracting: a busy design.”  That same dictionary defines “abundant” as 1. “In plentiful supply; ample.” 2. “Abounding with; rich.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but the latter paints a more accurate picture of what I would like my life to look like.  In John 10:10, we hear that “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

Jesus knows that we all have a lot of tasks to perform every day; he wants our lives to be full.  Let’s make sure, though, that we remember why and for whom our lives are so abundant!

By serving our families with joy, we are serving God. By helping our spouses, children, neighbors, customers, clients, patients, co-workers and strangers, we encounter every day we are serving God.

With the right frame of mind and purpose, all of our actions can be a form of prayer of Thanksgiving to God for our abundant lives.

So next time someone asks you, “How’s life?” Try saying, “It has been very abundant!” and see if it doesn’t start to change your perspective on things!

Sick Days

By Greg Zambrano

Finding yourself sick as a parent could be very difficult, but if you rely on the Lord he will come to the assistance. All of the many small jobs and chores that rely on you to get done come to complete stop. The laundry doesn’t get washed; meals do not get prepared; the kitchen and bathrooms do not get cleaned.
The younger child has to rely on the older child to get properly dressed. You can’t call anyone at the last moment because they are all busy with their own lives. Dropping off the kids at school must be done, but you rush back home because of your pain.

After agonizing for a while in pain, this is where your prayer life comes in. My prayers remind me that I am not alone, and that God is with me through the difficulties. Psalm 46:1 “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” At times, that is the most painful part of being sick.

Your kids are at school, and your spouse is busy at work for long hours. The pain of the sickness is not as bad as not having a love one next to you saying that is going to be OK.

In reality, we are not alone, God is always with us and, through prayer, in this particular moment, it comes through very clear that God is family. He is the dear loved one that stays by our side.

Anything Is Possible (Joshua 10:13-14)

 By Kristy Solis

Do you ever have a day or even days that seem impossible?

Lately, this explains my life: family, work, friends, school, other obligations such as  community and church.  The list goes on and on.

With all these responsibilities in life, parenting spiritual beings is the most important to me.

Tonight, as I prayed with my young girls, this is the Bible verse that we reflected on: “So the sun stood still and the moon stopped. The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day.”

We talked about how with God anything is possible, even miracles.  My oldest daughter, age 7, lit up and said I do believe anything is possible, even unicorns.

Yes! This child fully understood that with God anything is possible.

Sometimes as adults, we need to be reminded that anything is possible in the eyes of God, whether it is a miracle or even a unicorn.  Now, when I see a unicorn, I see the possibilities.

Let us pray to the Lord, I believe you are a powerful God and, with you by my side, anything is possible.

Think Fast

By Charla Misse

Next time you feel strongly to make a quick decision, take a minute to ask yourself why.

The fact that you feel strongly should actually give you pause.  A strong feeling that leads to a quick decision may feel like the right choice, but think again.

Are you being driven by fear or courage? Knowledge or bias?  Self-benefit or spiritual generosity?  When you uncover the driving force behind your feelings – you may reconsider.

When faced with major life decisions, most people take time to think things through, even consulting others. While the little decisions along the way often seem relatively unimportant on the surface, they can have long-lasting and profound effects.

Think about something deceptively simple like picking teams in school.  You want your team to win; you pick the best players.  Doesn’t seem like a big deal on the surface – unless you’re the one who is repeatedly picked last.

Be vigilant.  Evil can enter your life in often inconspicuous ways, slowly breaking down your barriers and diminishing your sensitivities.

Before you make a “quick” decision, get into the habit of taking a breath – and taking a minute – to double-check that your “quick” decision is a “good” decision.

“I Went to Mass”

By Sarah McDonald

This month, my family was gifted a new book, and we love books! This one is special because as a Catholic mom, I am always looking for resources to make going to Mass as a family a little easier.  Bringing all five children to Mass each Sunday is an aerobic activity, which leaves my husband and I wondering sometimes if we are really getting what we need out of it; but that is for another blog post.

The recently published “I Went to Mass” by Katie Warner is a lovely picture book written with simple messages about what a child sees at Mass.

After just the second reading of the book, my 2-year-old was reciting the book, and as his older brother lifted him to reach the holy water font at Mass, he repeated, “I went to Mass and what did I see? I saw the holy water font near me!”

At least I know he is paying attention and relating what he read to real life. Mom for the win!!!

It is a fun read for our little ones and a beautifully illustrated. I will note, it is definitely for very early readers and those learning to read and younger.

My 7-year-old is a little beyond it, but it was a blessing to sit down with my kids before Mass and talk about what they would see and hear and experience before they go there.

I cannot say it transformed their behavior completely, but the Mass experience did not leave us quite as breathless as usual, so, perhaps, it is helping us move in the right direction!

Read more reviews of “I Went to Mass” online here:
http://katiewarner.com/resources/now-available-i-went-to-mass-what-did-i-see.html

Purchase the book online at:
https://www.amazon.com/Went-Mass-What-did-See/dp/1505112184/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1532823798&sr=8-1&keywords=i+went+to+mass+what+did+i+see

Works of Mercy

By Casey Sprehe

Perform the Works of Mercy, the Church instructs us. Often, in the throes of motherhood, I think, when will I have time to do that? But then, I realize, the moments and opportunities are endless.

When I’m taking care of respiratory issues of my asthmatic child, I’m not thinking, “Oh, I’m comforting the sick.”

I often think as I’m changing the seventh diaper of the day for the baby, “Am I really doing great things for the Kingdom?” Then the still small voice says, “clothe the naked.”

As I’m saying for the fifth time before lunch, “No you don’t hit someone to get what you want,” I hear, instruct the ignorant. As I stand in my kitchen and seemingly continue to dole out food because someone is always hungry, I hear “feed the hungry.”

It’s much easier for me to give clothes to Veterans of America and clothe the naked.

It’s much easier for me to hand the man out of my car window a pack of crackers and feed the hungry.

It’s easier for me to visit a nursing home to comfort those who mourn.

And, while those are all good acts, those aren’t hard for me.

I’m being pruned in virtue in my ordinary life when I perform “works of mercy” within the walls of my home. To the extent that I can see Christ in my husband and kids is the extent to which Christ can answer that I did see Him hungry, naked and thirsty.

An Interesting Question

By Gaby Smith

During the collection at Mass last weekend, my son saw me put our collection envelope in the basket. He turned to me and asked, “Why do we do that? Why does the church need money?”

I responded saying “It’s God’s money, and today we are giving it to the Church.”

We were in St. John the Baptist. The building is very old and needs a lot of restorations. I pray it is restored and gets a face lift. It’s one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever set foot in. I pointed at the scaffolding and said the church could use money for new lighting and new paint.

It was a little hot in the church that day. Of course, my mind goes to, “Hey the church could use money for a new AC.”

My parents always taught me to tithe and to give back. I think at an early age, it’s important to teach your children the value of giving financially to those who need it.

That day it was St. John the Baptist. It’s important to teach our young ones that the money we receive is God’s money, not ours.

How do you teach your children to handle money God’s way?