CatholicMom.com August: Making the Most

A few months ago I started doing something new. Well, it’s really something routine done in a new way. I’ve changed how I fold towels. I know, it doesn’t sound all that astronomical, and perhaps in the grand, grand scheme it isn’t. But it has affected positive change worth reflecting on.

It occurred to me, on a rather frustrating day, “Why am I folding towels and putting them away, only to re-fold them so that they fit on the towel racks?” You see, for space saving purposes, I had been folding towels hamburger style: twice, and then in thirds. It was so satisfying to see the stacks looking neat and tidy on the shelf. But, in order for them to hang on our towel racks, they had to be completely unfolded and then re-folded in half, hot-dog style. On this day, I was trying to juggle the dirty towels in one arm while re-folding the clean towels in the other and attempting not to trip over children. It was a mess!

Finally, the thought came to me that I had a choice in this matter.

Continue reading at Catholicmom.comDaily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Embracing Cloth: Living a Less Disposable Life

We have recently made the decision to switch to cloth napkins. This is following a more conscious effort to create less waste in our home. Instead of reaching for paper towels, we reach for dish towels, Swedish dishcloths or cloth napkins. There are many reasons why people make this kind of choice. Environmental awareness, scientific knowledge, smaller footprint, cost savings, etc. These are important factors, to be sure. However, they aren’t our primary motivator.

Linguists know, and so do we all deep down, that the words we use shape the way we think about the world. Something as simple and basic as changing a single word or phrase in a sentence can give us a fresh perspective on any number of perceived divisions, attitudes and injustices. For example: “These people are different than I am” or “These people are similar to me.” Or the classic Catholic example, “We have to go to Mass” versus “We get to go to Mass.”

The little things can make all the difference. After watching the Netflix show Cooked Ben and I have been talking a lot about how “disposabley” minded our American culture has become. Worldwide, roughly 140,000 disposable plates and cups are thrown away every second! In one year, approximately 73 billion Styrofoam plates and cups were disposed of in the US alone. Combine this conversation with our subscription to a website called MightyNest which offers sustainable products designed to encourage people to create less harmful (primarily plastic) waste and we landed at our dinner table. Specifically our napkin holder with its ever-emptying supply of paper napkins.

Now that Eliza is capable of getting up on the table unassisted (not at the table, on the table – literally), our napkin usage has skyrocketed. John, Rosie and Clare also tend to revile dirty fingers so you can quickly see that in a single day we could easily burn through 15 or more paper napkins. Most meals included at least one if not multiple napkins per kid, and not because the napkin was unusable. It was just more convenient to grab a new one. Ridiculous! We had created napkin monsters!

Maybe this isn’t a big deal in your house, and that’s awesome! But for us, we have chosen to see this tendency as a foundational building block for a less disposabley-minded life (I know, I totally made that word up but I like it).

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Just like we are taught from the earliest ages that it is polite to say “Yes, please” and “No, thank you,” shouldn’t we be taught to be mindful of the things we use? Humans were placed on the earth not to use it or abuse it, but to be good stewards of it (see Genesis 1-2). In this way, we are helping our children (and ourselves) to be good stewards of something small, a simple napkin. But, hopefully, it will help to form their conscience in a way so that when they are called upon to be stewards of something larger, they already have a good habit pattern to follow.Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Measuring Our Work

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.