Ingrained

We were walking out of a Tiger Scouts meeting when Ben stopped us so we could look at a “cool cloud formation.” Ben, to remind you, is a pilot in the Air Force. He has been fascinated with space and flight since he was a small child. That fascination is so ingrained in him that I don’t think he even thinks about it anymore. Whenever he goes outside, he looks up. It’s like the reflexes that are built into our muscles.

ingrainedI quickly snapped a picture of those clouds, because they were cool. Ben makes me smile when he draws our attention to the sky. There is always a touch of wonder in his voice. He is sharing with me, and with our kids, a small piece of everything he has experienced in his 7+ years flying. It’s as if he’s saying “Look, just look at how incredible this space is. I can’t always take you with me, but I can share this piece with you. Look!”

Ben has been in love with the sky for so long, yet its lure remains. It hasn’t gone stale, he hasn’t moved on to other things. Not every day is easy, but I haven’t known him to have a day that he didn’t want to go fly.

As a Catholic, I want to capture the joy and enthusiasm that Ben has for flight and infuse it into my day. Imagine what my day, your day, could be like if we felt a similar level of enthusiasm for the liturgy or adoration? What if the thing that got me out of bed was the opportunity to read my Bible? What if every time I walked outside the beauty of creation was the first thing that captured my attention?

As a parent, I want to instill this kind of joy and enthusiasm for God in my children. I want them to wake up every day and reflexively thank God for the gift of life. I want them to know so deep in their hearts that God loves them unconditionally. I desire for them to seek out the sacraments, recognizing the overabundance of grace and mercy God wants to share with them. I hope that the foundation of love in our home ingrains within them the desire to know, love and serve God all the days of their life.

Today is Ash Wednesday. It is a day to remember that we are broken, we are flawed, and we are desperately in need.  It is also the first day of Lent, a day full of commitment and promise as we embark on our Lenten journey. For these next 40 days, where are you lacking in enthusiasm and joy for your faith? What are things you can do that can encourage you to deepen your love of God? I challenge all of you, just as I am challenging myself, to rediscover the wonder and beauty of Catholicism. Find a new book, memorize some Scripture passages, commit to an extra Mass or time in adoration. Don’t forget about the free 2018 Lent Lectio Journal. Lent is a more somber liturgical season, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be bursting with insights, discoveries and love.

Celebrating God’s Presence

The past few months I’ve felt like I’ve had to force my writing. Each time I have sat down to write, or even thought about writing, all my premises have been negative. Stories that were more on the down side of things, pessimistic, challenging moments or general mayhem that goes on in any household. It has been so frustrating, which just perpetuates the my negative Nancy attitude.

Last night as I was putting Eliza to bed I found myself going through the same old stories and feeling less than inspired. Then, something I can only describe as a God idea finally broke through my negative Nancy writers block. I finally stopped and asked myself what the whole point of this blog is. In case you need a refresher like I did, it is

Finding God in the everyday ordinary

And guess what? While yes, God can surely be found in the more challenging parts of life, that’s not all! God is in the giggles, the smiles, the jobs well done and the simple bedtime kisses. God is a God of joy, delight, simplicity and beauty.

The other night we decided to go out to dinner as a family because we wanted to celebrate the kids and some marked growth in their behavior and development.

Clare has been obsessed with what she calls “cutting projects.” Basically, she creates some kind of drawing, cuts it to smithereens, then presents it to a lucky recipient. Sometimes even before breakfast. At the start of this phase I mentioned (only once mind you) that she needed to clean up the scraps from her projects. I assumed this would be a recurring conversation. But it hasn’t been. In fact, she proudly tells me each time she finishes that she made sure to clean up all the scraps. She is 3!

Over the past 2 weeks there have been at least 2, maybe 3 instances where Rosie has demonstrated a remarkable about of patience and flexibility for a 5 year old. In each situation, she was the one with the last turn for something (like a turn on the iPad or playing a computer learning game) and the timing was such that she wasn’t going to get to have her turn. We had somewhere to go or something needed to happen that prevented her from taking her turn right then. Each time I explained the situation and asked if she would be ok to have her turn later in the day. Each time I braced for some kind of dramatic, throw down, probably going to be terrible reaction. And each time I found myself looking at a graceful, accepting and generally cheerful little girl who was willing to make the sacrifice of time for her family.

When John turned 6 it became his job to unload the silverware from the dishwasher. Just this week, he decided all on his own to unload the whole dishwasher. He can’t reach the cabinets where things are kept, so he made tidy piles of the plates, bowls and cups. He even did his best to match up the tupperware with their lids. When I came into the kitchen, he said to me, “Look Mommy, I did all the dishes so you won’t have to!” He has done this every day since. When did my little boy get so big and so generous? He is just 6 years old.

My kids have shown me what patience, self-sacrifice, obedience, duty, responsibility and empathy look like. What a gift! I’m not sure I ever thought as a mom of small kids I would say, “I wish I had John’s sense of responsibility,” or “I want to be more patient like Rosie,” or “I need to work on being more like Clare, taking care of my mess right away.” These everyday ordinary moments are what I want to focus on. They bring me joy, and I hope they brought you some joy as well.

I want to spend my time celebrating these God-given children. And I want to spend my writing uncovering the beautiful surprises God has in store for my day. Is He in the challenges, of course! But they don’t need to be the only places.

Haircut Day
The three big kids got their hair cut. My babies are so big!

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Only For Today

Happy New Year! I know it’s a common thing to say, but wow did 2017 go by fast! We had a busy year, new assignment, new house, new baby, new friends and so many memories. While 2017 seemed to be a year of newness for our family, I’m hoping 2018 is more of a year of settling. We are settling into Ben’s job, being a family of 6, homeschooling 3 kids, and finding our favorite spots around Del Rio.

A big part of New Years time is always the topic of resolutions and goal setting. For the past year I’ve been trying hard to stay on top of my planner. Using a paper planner has been a game changer for me as many of you know. It has changed the way I clean, the way we are organized and lowered my stress level (most days at least). It has made me realize just how much I was trying keep track of in my brain and how unrealistic my expectations were. It has also made me more accountable, both to myself and my own goals and to my family. I have found so much freedom within the structure of organization.

I’ve noticed how the planner has helped me break down tasks so they aren’t so overwhelming. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning. By creating a routine of cleaning different areas of our home each day I can happily look around a relatively clean home. I am also less stressed about the areas that are less than clean because I know that I will be working on them in the near future. It’s written down, so I know I won’t forget. And it’s written down so that I can cross if off when it’s accomplished. The work isn’t as intimidating since it is broken up into smaller, realistic pieces.

A few months ago I introduced you to The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII when I offered my Advent Lectio Divina Journal. I mentioned how I hoped to look at each of the points in the Decalogue and decided to kick off the new year with another excellent point.

Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

Friends, I don’t think there could be a better New Years resolution for me. My planner has opened my eyes to how much time I truly have and is slowly helping me to use that time well. Before a daily plan for myself, I floundered. Things got done of course, but hastiness and indecision ruled. Now, most days at least have a plan, an order, a structure. I don’t always get everything done, but I have a clearer vision of what actually needs doing.

A recent addition to my planning is a simple sheet of paper which I laminated so I can use dry erase markers on it. It says “Only for Today” at the top and is inspired by the Decalogue point above. It has space for 3 kinds of tasks: “must do”, “want to do” and “like to do”. I only allowed myself space for 2 “must do-s”. 3 for “want to do” and 5 “like to do.”

It was so hard to limit myself to only 2 “must do-s” but as I was building the worksheet I kept the words of Pope John XXIII in the forefront. In order to guard against hastiness and indecision I had to be methodical and decisive. Those “must do-s” really need to be concrete and achievable. They must happen today. The “want to do-s” are things that I want to happen soon, meaning if they don’t get done in 2-3 days they get bumped up to a “must-do.” The “like to do-s” are the most broad and are usually where I put bigger goals that may need to be chunked into smaller pieces. I also will put a craft goal here as a motivator to get those “must do-s” done. Remember, priorities.

I love this simple exercise. It is training me to prioritize my time and helps me hone in on the essentials of the day. It’s so awesome to see how a small change can yield some pretty incredible fruit.

If this kind of small change sounds like one you would like to try, here is the FREE pdf printable!

I hope you each have joy and peace awaiting you in this new year. Happy 2018!