For many Catholics Mary is a source of comfort, intercession and motherly affection. This is certainly true for Pope Francis. Throughout his papacy Pope Francis has made specific mention of Mary as “the first pilgrim”… More
You never know when God is going to inspire you. That is one of the things I love about this blog. Each time I write about a moment I encountered God in our daily living it inspires me to seek Him in more places. I hope the same is for you.
A few weeks ago, I found God in my air conditioning grate. Yep, not a typical place but let me tell you, there’s lots of time to think and seek while wiping down each individual dusty, dirty slot (probably was a faster way to do it, but it didn’t occur to me until after I was done. I think God wanted to make sure I heard this lesson loud and clear).
We moved into a new house just a few short months ago and I have been trying to create and maintain a workable cleaning schedule. Thanks to my pen and paper planner, it’s actually working and I am not only up to date on laundry, but I’m doing crazy things like cleaning the air conditioning grates and baseboards! Full disclosure, I was an awful cleaner in our California house, perhaps you may have guessed, and I have made a huge life-change in this area. I truly believe this is God inspired, which is why my journey is still on-going.
I’m finally doing the work. Step 1 complete. Now, God is working on my attitude and expectations. While I was cleaning, a dangerous thought flitted through my mind.
“You know, I’m doing all this work and Ben probably won’t notice.”
Yikes, where did that come from?! Not a good place, trust me.
This little thought is ripe with temptation and very quickly leads to unrealistic expectations placed unfairly on both my husband and myself. I started writing this post the day it happened, but then life happened and I’m just finishing it now. During the time between then and now another blogger posted a very thought-provoking and timely article. She offered a look at what Uncle Screwtape, from C.S. Lewis’ famous work The Screwtape Letters, might advise young Wormtail to do to a tired mother that would lead her astray. Guess what is in the first paragraph?
Attack her marriage. Make her feel that her efforts are not noticed, not praiseworthy and not worth even mentioning.
(Seriously, click the link. Even if you aren’t an exhausted mom, you probably are a tired somebody at least a few days a week).
Time and again we all find ourselves in this situation. We work hard on a project only to find it doesn’t receive the praise we believe it deserves. We struggle to attain a new skill, but no one notices. We fight to lose a few pounds, but no one compliments our new look.
These moments of vulnerability are where Satan quietly slips into our ear. “You didn’t work hard enough, you’re not good enough, no one notices you anyway.” Why do I listen to this insidious, deceitful voice? I did work hard enough. I am good enough. And there is someone who is always with me, who observes with love each thing I do.
It is completely unfair to place my self-worth on my husband’s shoulders, or anyone else’s for that matter. Yes, of course he should and does appreciate my work at home. However, if he doesn’t notice the air conditioning grates, will my efforts become less worthwhile? They shouldn’t. Knowing that I did the best job I could do for my family and our home is sufficient. Realizing that I am fulfilling my vocation as a wife and mother each time I put my best effort into taking care of our home is fulfilling and affirming. Even if my best isn’t perfect, when it is done from a place of love and not expectation, it is a blessing for our family.
Hast Thou No Scar
by Amy Carmichael
Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?
Hast thou no wound?
Yet, I was wounded by the archers, spent.
Leaned me against the tree to die, and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed me, I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?
No wound? No scar?
Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole. Can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?
I love the idea of a garden. I get excited about watching plants grow, finding new blooms and picking fresh vegetables. I am so thankful that my father-in-law helped us move into our new home here in Del Rio, TX. He is a master gardener in my opinion. He has a huge, ambitious garden at home and when he saw what we had to work with here there was no stopping him (thank goodness!). Thanks to his efforts, we have tomatoes, onions, green peppers, squash, 2 kinds of cucumbers, green beans and even cantaloupe all starting to grow. We also have sunflowers, zinnias, some mint and basil (though the parsley, thyme and chives that I planted after he left didn’t sprout, we will try again this week).
It’s amazing! The kids are so excited to help. They like to water and John is starting to notice the differences in the different plants. I love how our homeschool “classroom” has just gained a whole new learning environment right in our own backyard.
There is a part of gardening I’m not a huge fan of. Thinning. Thinning is the process where you select the best plants and pull the rest so that those chosen few have the opportunity to flourish to the best of their ability. I look down at our little row of green pepper plants, 15 at least, so full of promise and have to choose at most probably 4 plants that will make it to maturity.
Sometimes the choice is a little easier. This one is smaller than the others, or this one’s leaves are yellowing. But what do you do when you have two or three plants all clustered together and still growing fine. You know that if left alone, eventually the group as a whole will stunt because there isn’t enough space or nutrients to sustain them all. But how do you choose which one to keep!?! It’s a bit silly, I know. Getting all emotionally worked up over a couple plants.
It’s a little like life. At a certain point we need to make choices, we have to thin our lives, so that 1. we don’t go insane, but also 2. so that we can allow ourselves to flourish. When I first started this post I was thinking specifically about our kids and recognizing the fact that though I would love for them to do everything, I also don’t want them to be overwhelmed and overcommitted. Scouts, baseball, piano, swim lessons, gymnastics, dance, soccer, playgroups, storytime, not to mention homeschool. So many wonderful things! We have to make choices, for our sanity and happiness and most especially for theirs.
I am finding that I also need to make some choices, do some thinning as it were, in my own life. There simply aren’t enough hours in the day. Reading, writing, trying to become a better seamstress, cross stitch, baking, crochet, a new desire to learn embroidery, cooking, researching, knitting, and oh wait, I have a husband and 4 children and a home to maintain. So many wonderful things! I can’t do them all at once, I have to make choices.
I think I’ve come up with a system. Recently I shared about how maintaining a planner has greatly improved my organization, both for our family and maintaining our home. It’s going really really well by the way. I’ll have to do a follow-up post sometime in the near future. I think I’m going to put it to work in this area as well. First, I am going to choose three things that are priorities, things that I want to be doing and thinking about all the time.
- Researching (I have this crazy notion I’m supposed to be working on a book/study/something longer than a series of blog posts. Topic TBD almost, it’s narrowed down to a few ideas, I’ll keep you posted)
Then, on a rotating basis of weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly I haven’t decided yet, I will rotate my crafting. I’m leaning towards bi-weekly. Long enough to get some good work done but not so long that it will be hard to pull away to transition to something else. This is usually how I work anyway. I obsess over one thing for a while, then get tired and move on to something else. Now I’m going to harness that tendency and focus it instead of just flitting from one thing to another like I used to do.
Here’s to hoping, organizing and thinning!
As we enter Holy Week this week, this seems an appropriate topic. What in our life is taking too much of our time? What are we spending too much time thinking about or worrying about? What needs reordering, what should we be prioritizing?