Tuesday, January 26, 2016

To Be A Better Mom...

A popular topic of conversation among myself and my friends whom are usually also mothers is the subject of parenting. Parenting includes a plethora of subject matter, from discipline to play time activities, to sleeping habits, to forming their character, and the list goes on. One thing I did not expect as a new mother was the vast array of opinions on parenting methods. Everyone seemed to have a certain way of doing things and many believed it was the only way of doing things. Or at least that was my impression as a new mom. I've since learned most moms don't actually feel this way and many struggle, like myself, with feeling like they are not a good enough parent and that the job seems at times to be impossible.

I have a lot of growth to do in order to become a better mom. I am not perfect and I have identified many areas in my own parenting style which need special attention in order to become the mom I want and hope to one day be. I've learned there really is no magic formula in parenting because every parent is unique and every child is unique. However, I have found one key in helping me to become a better mom and that helps develop better children. 

To be a better mom we must be the person we want our children to be. Do I want my kids to be more patient? Then I must be more patient. Do I want them to be better listeners? Then I must listen to them and give them my full attention. Do I want them to be less whiny? Then I must whine less and glorify God more in my words and actions. Do I want them to love others and serve in their community? Then so must I. 

Our children are going to learn the most from watching us. They will respond to life's challenges like we respond. They will interact like we interact. They will love like we love. They will also argue like we argue, whine like we whine, judge like we judge, hate like we hate. We are not perfect, nor are they. As much as they need our discipline, we must discipline ourselves to become more Christ-like as well. We must deny ourselves and become truly selfless in the giving of ourselves to God and others. Lastly, we must draw ever closer to Our Lord, for only by the strength and grace He provides can we hope to be the moms, and people, He asks us to be.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Save us from the Fires of Hell

"Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen." 

Our family prays this Fatima prayer daily, and recently while saying this prayer I wondered how Jesus might be answering it in my life. How is He "saving us from the fires of hell"?

Of course, He ultimately made it possible for us to go to Heaven with Him by His life, death, and resurrection. He faithfully forgives us of our sins whenever we seek His forgiveness. Still though, we must accept His awesome plan of salvation in our lives and work out our salvation with all fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12), for faith without works is dead (James 2:14-26) and we must continually avoid sin and its damning effects.

That being said, sin comes in all shapes and sizes. How easy it can be for us to fall! We ask for Gods help, and we ask for His saving grace, but sometimes His saving grace comes in a different form than we imagined. The path to holiness is a difficult one and honestly, as I'm slowly learning, it is not a comfortable one. I'm becoming more and more convinced that comfort is for fools and is a passing pleasure. We should expect to be humbled, to lay down our pride, selfishness, wants and desires, hopes and dreams, riches and possessions--none of which are comfortable for us. It is easy to pray nonchalantly "save us from the fires of Hell" and then when hardships arise we wonder why the Lord is allowing them, when in reality these sufferings and trials are saving us from the fires of Hell! That is why it is written in the epistle of James:

"Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
~James 1:2-4~

It is a true joy to be saved! Thank God for His saving graces, mysterious as they sometimes are. Let us humble ourselves, so that when we encounter trials, we will be joyful and believing in the power at work by the Holy Spirit through them to help us grow in holiness and set aside our wicked ways, which are not pleasing to the Lord but truly offensive. With confidence we can approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:16). Therefore, let us pray wholeheartedly and confidently, 

"Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of Thy mercy. Amen."

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Ordinary Time = Growing Time

Ordinary Time. That is the liturgical season the church is currently in. I still kind of consider myself a Catholic newbie, even though this coming Easter will be 3 wonderful years since becoming Catholic! Yet, I still find there's SO much to learn. Always. I think this is probably true for everyone. Growth should be a synonym of the Christian Life. I used to think that Ordinary Time wasn't as special as the other liturgical seasons (Lent, Easter, Advent, Christmas) but recently I heard that Ordinary Time is "Growing Season", hence the green vestments. Ahh, so I've learned it, too, is special!

Growing is so important. As the Earth and the Church have their seasons, our lives go through seasons as well. Yet we are to remain steadfast and consistent in our spiritual lives regardless of the season. While Lent is a solemn season, Easter is an incredibly joyful season! Similarly, during the months of winter, the days are colder and greyer. Life doesn't seem as abundant, and plants and trees seem to have died. We know though that they aren't truly dead. Even during winters harsh months, something is happening on the inside, life is preserved and bursts forth, out of hiding, in the months of Spring. Likewise, even during the winters of our souls, may it not lead to death, but may it burst forth with life in its due time. May the harsh winters, the tribulations and trials of life, yield the beauty of Spring, and abundant JOY.

This internal growth happens simply by being consistent and steadfast in our spiritual lives regardless of how we feel. Basically, we should still be practicing and living our faith. Pray daily, read the Bible and other spiritual writings, attend Mass and receive Holy Communion as often as possible, go to confession, etc. Even if our lives feel cold and grey and we feel dead inside, these things keep us truly alive. Stay connected to the vine--our Lord, His Church, His Word (John 15:1-17). Persevere in the faith. Be steadfast. In time, our Good, Merciful Lord will reap in us a bountiful harvest glorifying Him. Thanks be to God!

Friday, January 8, 2016

Growth in Silence

Since the start of advent our family has been more intentional about taking time out of our days to pause and reflect in silent prayer. In addition, we've been adding more time in our family prayers and devotions as well as our individual time with God. I'm not writing this in boastfulness but rather to encourage the practice because it has certainly been fruitful. The efforts to draw near to God are never in vain, as He promises to, in return, draw near to us (James 4:8). While circumstances and life's difficulties haven't and won't all disappear, instead we are receiving more grace in our daily living to triumph through uncertain or difficult times. Gods mercy is so abundant!!! 

Teá and I have been reading "Clare's Costly Cookie" by Julie Kelly. It's about a young girl as she develops a prayer life and grows closer to Jesus. Usually it is shortly after having gotten in trouble that she turns to Jesus in prayer for some conversation with Him. She tells Him whatever is in her heart and then she sits quietly and just listens. After listening and being silent, she begins her conversation with The Lord once again about what came to her mind and what she felt like Jesus was telling her. Her time of prayerful silence lead to a deeper understanding of Gods ways and how He would like her to live. It's really a beautiful book! Very fitting for us right now, too, since we've been trying to "sit quietly and listen" more often.

I also came across this lovely quote from Mother Teresa of Calcutta recently. 

"We need to find God, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence...we need silence to be able to touch souls."
~Mother Teresa of Calcutta~

"Be still, and know that I am God." 
~Psalm 46:10~