February 25, 2015

On Lenten Sacrifice

What should you give up for Lent?

Remember to keep it simple.  Start small.  Don't jump off the cliff during Week One.

For children, give up your favorite toy or activity (e.g. - playing with your dolls, army men, or video games).  Do something in focus or service to God in its place (like, perhaps, graciously play your sister's favorite activity with her instead; oh, go on, it won't kill you).

For adults, give up your favorite indulgent thing.  Don't give up every grain of sugar or candy within a 50 mile radius.  But, perhaps give up buying your favorite chocolate truffles (...I know, I can't believe I just said that!).  Drink water instead of juice or soda.  Give up your favorite purchased drink at Starbucks, put that money in an envelope throughout the week, and place the money in the poor box at church on Sunday.

Remember, Lent is the spiritual version of, "mind over matter."  Show God and yourself that your will is stronger than your flesh.

Start small.  Baby steps.  You can't do this on your own, you know.  Carve out a little sacrifice, a wee pocket of spare time for God, and let Him start filling you up with inspiration and His love.

He died on the cross for you.  I think He can handle 40 days with no chocolate.  (After all, one would have to be divine to manage that, right!?)

A Lenten Creed

"The way of life as set down by St. Benedict in his Rule offers a set of Christian ideals which are sufficiently flexible, adaptable, and moderate so that no one need be dismayed or discouraged at failure to achieve the heights of holiness all at once. St. Benedict makes room for many different levels of spiritual progress when he states: '[Let the abbot] so moderate all things that there be something for the strong to strive after and nothing to dishearten the weak,' (RB 64:19)."  (source: http://oblatesavannah.com/oblates/what-are-benedictine-oblates)

I think I've just found my Lenten creed.

Both St. Benedict and St. Francis de Sales preached and wrote often and expansively on finding holiness in one's vocation, right where you are.  Now, thanks to Lent, I've got 40 days to seriously ponder and consider who I am, where I am, and what I am doing in service to God.


God made you to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him for ever in Heaven.  Don't miss this chance to renew and refresh your focus on Him by, "giving up," extraneous distractions in your life and clearing a space to be filled by Him.

Liken it to a spiritual shoveling out of the way all the books, toys, and general detritus of your living room when company is about to arrive.  It's not that any of those items are inherently evil or shameful.  They are, however, impediments to your guests having a clear uncluttered path to your best room and the most comfortable chair.

Clear a path for God this Lent.  Invite Him into your heart and your life more deeply by clearing a few non-life-threatening things out of the way.  Don't set yourself up for failure.  I mean, c'mon -- don't give up coffee, cigarettes, and booze all at once.  Pick one and be deliberate about making a choice each day not to indulge in that thing (except on Sundays, the feast of the Resurrection).

Make it simple.  Make it stick.

If you fail, start over.
If you fall, stand up.
If you crumble, stretch out your arm and reach for His hand.

The Lord loves you.  This Lent, let Him in.

21 Martyrs

"The world was not worthy of them," (Hebrews 11:38)

"They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; love for life did not deter them from death.  Therefore, rejoice, you heavens, and you who dwell in them.
But woe to you, earth and sea, for the Devil has come down to you in great fury, for he knows he has but a short time,” (Revelation 12:11-12).

February 24, 2015

My Favorite Animal

So, after our first-ever field trip to the zoo, I overheard my toddler son telling one of his older siblings:

"My favorite land animal is a lion.  My favorite ocean animal is a shark.  And my favorite sky animal is a reindeer."

Ah.  I see.

Actually, I do see.  Now I think I understand why Jesus said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven," (Matthew 18:3).  My young, believing son accepted without question that reindeer are sky animals, because he heard it from me, his most trusted authority.  What more trusted authority is there ever than The Author of Life Himself?  We must, with the absolute acceptance of a small child, believe in the Lord, believe what He tells us, and unquestioningly put it into practice in our lives.

Every day.  Okay?

(This is the point at which you cue the squealing breaks sound....)

Wait a minute.  Really?  Do you really think it's that easy to just do what Jesus says?  Every day!?

No.  Of course not.  (I might like to pretend I'm Wonder Woman when we're playing Superheroes, but in reality, of course, I'm not.)

However, my little son's easy, unblinking acceptance that reindeer can fly, and his assimilation of that fact into his own daily life, was a tiny microcosm for me of the way Christ's example, words, and teachings can seep into our lives and change the way we see the things around us each day, even making us believe that which seems utterly unbelievable.

(Bread and wine are flesh and blood?  Really?  And you're supposed to eat that?  Really!?)

Yes.  Really.

I'm not saying that I nor anyone else I know can turn saintly, day and night, on a dime.  I am, however, saying that your unique life, when viewed purposefully through the prism of Christ's love for His creation (which is all around you and includes YOU), can immediately bring peace to a troubled soul, joy to a despairing heart, and order to a restless mind.  "The eyes of the LORD roam over the whole earth, to encourage those who are devoted to him wholeheartedly," (II Chronicles 16:9, my italic emphasis added).

Serve Him wholeheartedly.  With all of yourself.  In every situation.


Who made us?  God made us.

Why did God make us?  God made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven (Baltimore Catechism, No. 1, Question 6).

God wants you to be a part of His glorious eternity.  Forever!  Believe it!

But, first we have to schlog through this messy little thing called, "life."  It ain't always glamorous, but in the end, if we truly believe and seek His Presence and Purpose in every situation, you will be well on your way along the path to Heaven, thanks to your trusting and believing in Him like a little child -- completely and without question.

I'm not saying don't ask Him any questions.  I am saying, for starters, just believe.  Just.  Believe.  And let your belief and trust in Him be reflected in everything you do.

Then, "You shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the LORD, a royal diadem in the hand of your God," (Isaiah 62:3).

February 19, 2015

Don't Give Up

A friend of mine, who recently began homeschooling for the first time, found that both she and her children were ready and cheerful to begin homeschooling!

Until February.

Along about February, the bloom is off the rose of homeschooling, and many children (and parents!) feel the soul-dragging weight of pursuing their studies half-heartedly, with neither the thrill of September nor the triumph of May anywhere in sight.

Stay strong!  This is the time of year when, due to weather, many people are more house-bound.  Bored, cooped-up children choose this time to test their family's commitment to homeschooling.  The children feel restless, listless, boundless, and aimless, all at the same time.  But, what they're really looking for is a reminder your family's goals, boundaries, and investment.

- Review again your family's overarching goals for homeschooling.  (Write a Mission Statement!)

- Readjust your boundaries for required study time, playtime, chores, or rewards to reflect the progress your children have (or have not) made to this point half way through the school year.  (Have the kids evaluate themselves -- and/or each other -- first!)

- Renew your investment in this great endeavor called homeschooling by re-reading some inspirational homeschool material during Lent, or getting together with like-minded moms to mutually encourage each other.  (Try reading Holly Pierlot's A Mother's Rule of Life or Cari Donaldson's Pope Awesome and Other Stories to freshen your perspective.  Or host a simple Friday morning tea while the kids play.)

A wise woman (and veteran homeschooler) once counseled me to never, never, never, NEVER, *NEVER!!!* make homeschooling decisions during February.  Every year I find out again that she was absolutely right.  The Church has liturgical seasons throughout the year to echo the natural ebb and flow of our human lives.  Why should our homeschool year be any different?

During this season called, "February," take some time to slow down, review, reevaluate,  and renew your commitment to move forward in your homeschooling with purpose.  You're not alone, so don't jump off the cliff just yet!

February 17, 2015

Handy-Dandy List to Lenten Sacrifice

Kerry Baunach over at Catholic Sistas published last year a wonderful, "Handy-Dandy List to Lenten Sacrifice."  What an inspiring blog post!  There's something for everyone there to enrich your prayer life in simple, do-able ways during this Lenten time of preparation.  Enjoy!

February 12, 2015

The Efficacy of Long Distance Prayer

A dear friend of mine sent me the link to this inspiring article, written by her tennis partner's daughter.  The only, "distance," that actually is far away to God is the one we create when we don't turn to Him.

May you be inspired this Lent to close the distance in prayer.  Lift up your loved ones and turn your ordinary activities into a time of prayerful conversation with God on their behalf!  Your day and their lives will only be the better for it.


February 11, 2015

Saint of the Day

This site was just recommended by another Catholic homeschooler.  It's a great resource, not only for brief daily stories about today's saint (or any other -- you can search alphabetically or chronologically!), but also for many other nourishing aspects of living our Catholic faith, both at home and in the school room (see any of the teal-colored sidebar menu choices on the left when you get there).

Awesome!  Enjoy!

February 10, 2015

Catholic Online Conference for Moms - FREE!

BannerFans.comRemember seeing in the pet store those little plastic terrariums with the hamster racing, panting, on his itsy, bitsy, endlessly, rapidly spinning wheel?  Ever feel like that?

Yeah.  Me, too.

This Lent, treat yourself to a shot in the arm of well-earned spiritual adrenaline!  Here is your opportunity to attend a free, online, Catholic, moms conference next month:


You'll receive a daily e-mail for each of the four days, with links to the speakers for that day.  You may listen to the speakers at any time that day -- before the kids are up, on lunch break, after school, or even after the kids are in bed.

And it's FREE!

That's it!

You pick the speakers.  You pick when to listen to them!  At the end of the conference, if you missed anyone or just want to share a great talk with a friend, you may purchase the entire conference on audio for just $40.00.  But, for this initial airing, the entire conference is FREE for YOU!

Give it some thought.  Give it your time.  Give it to another mom friend.  Because as moms, YOU are worth it!