Embracing a Plan

In my last post I alluded to a new system I’ve been working with that has been helping my organization and general well being. It’s not super complicated and didn’t cost a bunch of money. A simple planner has completely (maybe not completely completely, but a whole lot) changed the way I am operating.

This decision to embrace a planner was not random. Upon reflection I can see God guiding me toward one for a while. I’ve actually tried to use planners before with limited success. I would forget to bring them with me or leave them in my purse for days. I wouldn’t have a pen or some other excuse. This time is different.

The first step toward the new planner-me was re-discovering the Fly Lady and her methods for keeping your house clean. This new method inspired my whole series of Advent posts. I’ve been tweaking the Fly Lady’s ideas to fit my needs and family’s needs fairly successfully since November. I am a whole new cleaner.

The second step was reading a blog post (I wish I remember whose so I could give credit! Thank you whoever you are) that was about a blogger’s Christmas gift, a new planner. At first I thought, well whatever floats your boat. She had some pictures of the planner and I admit it was very pretty. I decided to click on the link to check it out more since this blogger was so passionate about how wonderful this planner was and how she utilized it in a number of ways – daily tasks, appointments, homeschooling, blogging, cleaning, meal planning – basically all the things I have been trying to keep straight in my head. (I’ll give you a hint – my head isn’t big enough)

Oh how I wanted this planner! It looked beautiful and seemed to be the answer to so many problems. I was so eager as I went through the website, choosing all the extras I thought I would want. Then I saw the prices. Yikes! Beautiful as it was, I knew I had failed with planners before. Until I knew this was something I could stick with, I couldn’t justify spending so much just because it looked nice.

However, my overly positive reaction to using a planner was surprising to me, so I decided to try it out on more of a DIY scale. $10 planner from Target, some washi tape and colorful pens was a much better route. I took some time and invested in “beautifying” my simple planner with the tape and pens. I also made some inserts to hold post-its and a meal planning pad of paper – thank you Pintrest.

Embracing a Plan by Kate Taliaferro at DailyGraces.net
My planner with Pintrest additions. I love having these tabs handy!
Embracing a Plan by Kate Taliaferro at DailyGraces.net
I love the owl tape! And now I will remember when Daylight Savings is thanks to some scraps of the blue-green tape.

I’ve been using this planner since mid-January. It’s only been a month but it has made a huge difference in my life pre and post-Eliza. Here are just some of the ways:

  • I am keeping a cleaning schedule – and actually accomplishing all the cleaning tasks I set out for the day (and if I don’t I am rolling the task over to the next day). Thanks to the Fly Lady these tasks are realistic, evenly distributed through the house and I try not to put more than 4 a day so I don’t get overwhelmed
  • I am meal planning in advance, which means I have much more complete grocery lists, which means less trips to the grocery store
  • I am remembering to write thank-you notes because I have a post-it for that
  • I am remembering all the things we need to accomplish in these last few weeks before we move because I have a post-it for that too
  • I will *hopefully* get most of the birthday cards out on time this year because I took the time to write down 2 weeks before each person’s birthday a reminder to buy a card and a few days before their birthday to mail it
  • Using the planner has also introduced me to bullet journalling which I’m also giving a go. It’s only been a little over two weeks with that though so the jury is still out. So far though I’m loving it

I never, ever thought that a simple planner could hold so much grace for my family. I am more calm, collected and less stressed. Plus, our home is cleaner than it has ever been. I look around (most of the time) with joy at how much more smoothly our family is operating because I am operating more smoothly. So much of our family dynamic is influenced by how well Ben and I are coping with whatever our current life situation is. As we continue in our transitions – moving again plus a new baby while Ben is in training – having one place for me to put basically everything has been game changing.

I wish I had done this sooner. I wish I had dedicated more time in my previous attempts at planners so that it wouldn’t have taken me this long to see how much I needed one. But I am so thankful that I finally got the message and am able to receive all the graces God has waiting for me in its pages.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Seeing Myself in an Unexpected but Expected Place

We had a rather rough Mass this week. John was having a difficult time listening and had to be quarantined next to Ben away from the girls. Rosie had a tough morning before Mass and some of her sluggish obedience came with us to church. Clare. Well, let’s just say the whole parish community gathered (roughly 300-400 people) knew exactly where Clare was, knew which book she wanted read and knew I was wearing a new necklace.

As you can imagine, I can’t tell you a whole lot about the homily. I did manage to hear some of the Gospel but I have no recollection of the first reading. I only know the second reading was one of Paul’s letters to Timothy because when the reader said it John shouted “Mommy! It’s St. Paul! He’s talking to his brother Timothy!” Very exciting stuff going on here folks, very exciting.

As we approached Communion I wasn’t exactly feeling prepared. I tried as best I could to focus on what I was doing and more importantly, Who I was receiving.

“The Body of Christ”I vaguely heard. I was making sure Clare and Rosie didn’t end up with a different family after receiving their blessing. I don’t think I even managed to make eye contact with the Eucharistic Minister, something which I make a point of doing.

Eucharist: Seeing my reflection in an expectedly unexpected place. Daily Graces at dailygraces.net
CC Public Domain

“The Blood of Christ” I was told, but thoughtfully and directly. The minister had waited for me to look at her after making sure to point Clare in Ben’s direction. This briefest pause made all the difference.

I connected with her over the chalice she was extending to me. We were of similar height and when she offered me the cup which was holding Jesus’ most precious Blood, I looked inside. Many parishes choose to use red wine, for obvious reasons. However, there are some parishes, ours included, that opt for white wine.The lighting was just right. The cup was still rather full and golden in color which enhanced the clarity of the wine.

As I looked into that cup, I saw my reflection.

For that moment, the whole world stopped.

St. Augustine, in one of his sermons on the Eucharist tells us

Be what you see; receive what you are

It was a profound moment. Here in front of me is the Blood of Christ, the most precious gift Jesus gave us. He offers His Body and Blood as true food and drink which transform us more completely into Himself. Lumen Gentium (paragraph 7), one of the encyclicals that is from the 2nd Vatican Council, explains this mystery:

Really partaking of the body of the Lord in the breaking of the Eucharistic bread, we are taken up into communion with Him and with one another. “Because the bread is one, we though many, are one body, all of us who partake of the one bread”.(1 Cor 10:17) In this way all of us are made members of His Body, (cf 1 Cor 12:27) “but severally members one of another”.(Rom 12:5)

When we receive the Eucharist, which is Jesus fully present in both the Body and the Blood, we are no longer solely ourselves. We are at that moment fully communed with Jesus and with the whole Church, the Body of Christ.

In a way, seeing my reflection in that cup was a physical representation of what was spiritually happening to me. To see my reflection in the Blood of Christ was to see myself in Jesus and Jesus in me. Anyone else getting flashbacks to Simba in The Lion King when he looks in the pond and sees a reflection of his father while hearing the phrase “Remember who you are.”?

This was a moment of clarity, of realizing who I truly am and who I am called to be. I am a child of God, made in His own image. I am called to be Christ, to reflect His love, mercy and forgiveness to each person I encounter. We are all called in our own unique ways to the same mission. So in a way, I should expect to see my face reflected in the Body and Blood of Christ. Not because I am the important one in this image, but rather because Jesus shines through me when I allow myself to be fully united to Him.

It’s a little confusing and convoluted I know, I  rewrote that last paragraph a bunch of times trying to get it right. The main point is this: Jesus. And how our union with Him became clear to me for just a moment when I saw my reflection in His precious Blood. I think if I try to say more I’ll just end up getting you and myself more confused. Often spiritual things like this are beyond our words to describe them, try as we might to fully understand what happened. What matters is that we reflect, we try to understand and we share our experience with others, even if we can’t grasp it all.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

 

Saint Me! Saint Me!

As with any pregnancy, I am frequently being asked the usual questions:

“How far along are you?”

“Is it a boy or a girl?”

“What are you going to name them?”

I love how excited people are for new babies (even if I usually also receive somewhat concerned or confused looks when I explain that this is my 4th baby, not my 1st. It’s ok people, I know how this all works, *winks).

To update everyone, here are the current answers to those questions. As of today we are 25 weeks and 4 days along (thank you pregnancy app for keeping track for me). We decided to be surprised with this baby. We found out the gender for both John and Rosie. When it came time to decide about Clare, we chose to be surprised. It’s easier when you already have things from siblings. It was so much fun! We decided (and the Air Force decided, since we had to move before we were far enough along to find out anyway) to do it again with “Peanut” as we affectionately are calling this baby.

As for the name, even though we don’t know the gender we could still decide on two names. Every family does it differently. We decided back when we were pregnant with John 4 things.

  1. We wouldn’t officially decide on a name until the baby was born. We have gone into labor with our top 2 or 3 options, but we wait until we get to see our new gift before we name them.
  2. Family names are important to us, but we also didn’t want the confusion that inherently comes with family names. Personally, I have a brother Michael, an Uncle Mike, a Great-Uncle Mike and my grandfather’s name was Michael. The name Michael clearly runs strong in my family. In order to honor that, we chose to give John the middle name of Michael. We keep the name alive while preserving a little sanity at family gatherings. We have done this with all our children’s middle names.
  3. Our last name is difficult. It is pronounced nothing like it is spelled and unless you happen to be from a small corner of Georgia where it is also a county name you are probably going to pronounce it incorrectly, then question my schooling when I correct you. It’s ok. We all deal and the kids will too. But, Ben and I felt strongly that because their last name will be problematic, their first name should be simple and easily identifiable. We only deviated from this a little bit when we named Clare because we wanted her to have the same spelling as St. Clare who doesn’t use the “i” usually found in the spelling. Sorry Clare!
  4. We keep the name options secret. Sorry guys!

Clare is actually what prompted this blog post. Every night we say prayers together as a family. We share what we are thankful for from the day and then we saw a few form prayers. We conclude with a litany of the saints that all have a special meaning for our family. Well, a few nights ago during the litany, Clare started shouting “Saint Me! Saint Me!” She was so sweet. At 2 years old she is already treasuring in her own way her namesake while at the same time challenging all of us to think about our calling to sainthood.

It got me thinking about this new baby. Ben and I have talked back and forth about whether we should give all of our children first names after saints. So far, they all have middle names after saints that also happened to be family names and the middle names we have in mind for this little one are also saint names. John and Clare have direct saint names. Rosie is technically Rosemary and though there is no St. Rosemary, there is St. Rose which seems close enough.

There are two ways to go. Naming your child after a saint guarantees that they will have a patron. Of course if your name isn’t a specific saint’s name you can always adopt one as your patron, there are plenty after all. But, from my perspective at least, there is something special about carrying the same name as one of these great spiritual persons.

On the flip side, by giving your child a name that is not already a saint’s name you are opening up the opportunity for a new name to be added to these spiritual guides. I’m not saying that all of our children will become named Saints in the Church, but wouldn’t it be great if among our generation there is a St. Jessica, a St. Riley or a St. Jackson?

So we are torn. Our child will definitely carry a saint’s name with them through life in their middle name. But will they also in their first name?

What’s your opinion on the matter? I’d love to hear thoughts on both sides.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com