Joyful Motherhood--

Influenced by our Catholic faith,
Charlotte Mason, Lifelong Learning
and the
Everyday Realities of Homeschooling and Family Life

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Why Am I Catholic?

During Lent this year, our parish has been reflecting on encounters with Jesus; how encounters with Jesus are shown in the Gospel and encounters with Jesus we have had in our own lives.

We have been encouraged to write our faith story, to reflect and write out why we are Catholic. 

Holy Week begins on Sunday, beginning the most important week of our year. It is fitting to spend some time reflecting on why we are who we are, why we do what we do and why we believe what we believe. 

I have spent my morning briefly answering this question. 

Why am I Catholic?

I am Catholic because I know Jesus as a REAL person, as the Son of God, and have felt His very real presence in my life. I have felt His grace in my heart, changing me and helping me to become a better wife, mother and woman.

I am Catholic because I am a sinner, who makes selfish choices every day and I need a Savior. By the grace of Jesus Christ, sin has less power in my life than it once did. This is not to my credit, but to His.

I am Catholic because Jesus died for me, personally, just as He did for everyone. The very First Father sacrificed His Son to be killed for my sins so that I may join Him in heaven one day.

I am Catholic because I believe in the Eucharist. Through this sacrament, I actually am able to receive my Savior, to receive His grace in a tangible way every time I go to Mass. God becomes part of my being in a way that I can see with my eyes and feel in my hands.

I am Catholic because through my faith, I belong to a family who loves me, encourages me, supports me, challenges me and helps me to grow closer to Jesus. This family feeds the hungry, serves the poor, cares for the sick and loves Jesus as I do.

I am Catholic because of the richness and truth I continue to discover in my faith. The wisdom of the Catholic Church has developed over 2000 years and is much more than I could ever try to understand in my lifetime. But through the richness and depth of Catholicism, I continue to come closer to God.

I am NOT Catholic because our Churches are full of perfect people. The humanity of our Church will always struggle. We will always be sinners.

I am Catholic because Jesus is my King 
and my friend.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Everyday Mercies

I haven't written in a long time.

This whole motherhood thing is so much harder than I ever knew it would be. 

Every single day, I feel as though I don't know what on earth I'm doing.

There are so many blogs that I read, finding comfort and guidance from other moms who have walked this path before me. I often feel like I have nothing more to add to the conversation, and I wonder if I really have any wisdom to offer.

But I am going to try and discard those feelings. I enjoy writing, just for the sake of writing. Putting my thoughts together in a post helps me to wade through them, moving past what I'm struggling with to new waters.

My last post was in October. A lot has happened since then!

We are expecting our next baby this June, making me 25 weeks along in the pregnancy! We are so thrilled to be welcoming a new blessing into our life. It has been a very challenging pregnancy, although at the same time it is rushing by with the changing of seasons.

Just as the daffodil and tulip heads are popping through the earth, the baby pushes and kicks inside of me, an ever-present reminder of new life. 

The baby and I are healthy and growing, yet this pregnancy has pushed my heart, patience and mercy to grow further than ever.

In everyday, homeschooling family life, I have to take one day at a time.

Yesterday, I had planned many things I was going to work on - garden planning, meal planning, planning for Holy Week and Easter. I woke with a headache and with very little energy. None of those things happened. Instead, napping, reading with the children and a movie happened.

I know that's okay. I know it's exactly what I should be doing. But the frequency of these necessary rest days makes it frustrating. I WANT to plan an amazing Holy Week for our family like we had last year. It was wonderful! I WANT to plan what I am going to plant in the four new vegetable beds Jason has built for me. It's hard to let go of those things over and over again because I'm so tired or because of another headache.

Lent this year has not gone as planned. I have not put together 20 bags yet for 40 Days 40 Bags like I had planned. There have been several nights when I have been too tired to pray the Examen like I had planned.

What is much more frustrating for me is when I am grumpy, short and quick-tempered with the children because of the way I'm feeling.

Nothing is more humbling as when I know that I have been too harsh with Teresa, our two-year-old. 

For fasting, I planned to give up "self reproach," as my priest put it. On Ash Wednesday, I emailed him and a couple of others, looking for guidance. I asked if giving up guilt for Lent is a "cop-out." I explained how I can be too hard on myself, and why I was considering this for my Lenten fast.

Father very succinctly responded something like, "It is ironic that you are being hard on yourself for thinking about not being so hard on yourself. Fasting from self-reproach is probably a good idea this Lent."

I know I can be too hard on myself, and that I especially need to be more forgiving of myself right now.

This Lent, I am practicing being more merciful with myself.

This is the hardest fast I've ever taken on. My life is so full of little ones needing things from me, time management, daily tasks and responsibilities. All these little ones are counting on me to take care of their needs, to lead them and guide them, to be loving and cheerful and to create a life-giving home in which they feel loved, cared for and safe to be who they are.

I make mistakes every single day.

But as I have really intentionally worked on giving myself more mercy, kindness, compassion and loving patience these past weeks, I have discovered something.

The more mercy I give to myself, the more mercy I have to give to others.

Especially my children.

When I encourage myself rather than get frustrated with myself, I can move past my mistakes with more grace and more joy. I am less discouraged, and more able to brush off disappointing moments. 

I am more quickly able to offer myself as a loving, fun and joyful mom to my kids, asking for forgiveness if I need to.

This is not easy for me. I tend to dwell on what I should have done, what I need to change, how I can be a better mom. While there is a time and place for each of those thoughts, they can be very limiting and even damaging to our hearts.

We do not earn the Lord's forgiveness. It is simply offered lovingly and freely.

Jesus saves us even if we've lost our temper that day. In Him, we can find hope and freedom to move on.

Yesterday, I was not merciful with myself. I was full of frustration. It was hard to move on past my mistakes and to let go of all I didn't get done. 

In the late afternoon, I was reminded of God's grace and mercy in my everyday life. We have patiently been waiting for the butterflies to emerge out of their chrysalises in Veronica's butterfly garden. I was worried that maybe they were dead. But yesterday afternoon, new life emerged!

How excited everyone was to meet our new friend!

At the same time, Noah (8) spent three hours happily making dinner from a child's cookbook almost entirely on his own. I was so proud of him!

The spaghetti and meatballs were delicious, and I was so pleased and grateful of the reminder that

even though life rarely goes as planned, learning and growing take place in our life every single day.

These everyday mercies are such beautiful reminders of God's love and grace in our lives, and I am just so very thankful.