First Sunday of Lent 2023

I cannot thank you all enough for the warm reception I’ve received since joining the YouTube community. This is a new thing for me and I am definitely not comfortable yet. But, two videos down and I’m happy to say I don’t hate it, so that’s a good start!

Without going into exactly what’s in the video – you’ll have to go watch it yourself for the full reflection AND, it’s under 6 minutes, whoot! – I wanted to share a little bit more about times of preparation.

If you stop and really think about it, we are always preparing for something. It can be big things, like how childhood is preparation for adulthood, or super small, ordinary things, like preparing onions for tonight’s stew, or any number of in-between things. Preparing for a presentation at work, preparing for seasonal changes, preparing lesson plans, preparing for that potentially confrontational phone call. Some part of our mind is in preparation mode. Always.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

If God is working all things for good, then even our back of the mind preparations can be used for His purposes.


There is always an end goal in mind when it comes to preparations. Even if the event fails to take place, there was still something driving the preparations. You don’t prepare for nothing, there’s always something. You get to a specific point and can look back and discern if your preparations were enough, worth the time, could have gone better, etc.

We are in the season of Lent, a season of preparation. Ah, you see how it connects now. What is the event we are preparing for? Easter, of course. But more than just this Easter my friends. A lifetime of Easters. For the eternal Easter in heaven. Each Lent, we should be farther along in our preparations to our ultimate goal – heaven. How is this Lent bringing you closer to that heavenly reality of endless Easter?

I was sharing about this week’s video with my kids. They are loving this whole new “YouTuber” status they think I have. In the video, I offer the Fruits of the Spirit as a lens through which we can look at our Lenten fast to see what God is cultivating in our lives. As I explained it to them, I was quickly interrupted: “Oh, like temperance? That’s a virtue people can grow in by fasting.” and “What about modesty or forbearance?” and “I bet people grow in patience over Lent.”

Yes! Yes! Yes! I should have talked to them before recording because a thousand times, YES! The virtues they have been striving to live as a school community would have fit perfectly alongside the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Quick shout out to our wonderful school, St. Mary’s in Derby, KS, which takes the time to look closely at a specific virtue each quarter as a whole school. It’s a small thing, but it’s not so small at all when an 8, 10, and 11 year old can hear me speak about God working in people’s lives and be able to specifically identify virtues which can help someone grow closer to God. You are amazing St. Mary’s, we love you!

So, if after watching the video, you find you want to look even more closely at how God is using this season of Lent to prepare you for whatever He wills for your life, consider the following list of virtues to be an excellent addition to the Fruits of the Holy Spirit:

Four Cardinal Virtues (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1804-1809)

  • Prudence
  • Justice
  • Fortitude
  • Temperance

Seven Cardinal or Heavenly Virtues which Counteract the Seven Deadly Sins

  • Chastity counteracts Lust
  • Good Works (also known as Charity) counteracts Greed
  • Temperance counteracts Gluttony
  • Diligence counteracts Sloth
  • Patience counteracts Envy
  • Kindness counteracts Wrath
  • Humility counteracts Pride

I hope these lists, along with the reflection video for this Sunday, are helpful for getting a conversation started with God in prayer about where He is taking you and what He wants you to be preparing for.

Daily Graces.

The Will of God

I have a tattoo. I don’t think I’ve shared that here. It’s on my wrist, as you can see, and it references Deuteronomy 30:14. Last summer, Deuteronomy 30:10-14 was the First Reading one Sunday. On that day, I felt these words of Scripture pierce my heart in a way I never had before. This is the passage in full:

Moses said to the people:
“If only you would heed the voice of the LORD, your God,
and keep his commandments and statutes
that are written in this book of the law,
when you return to the LORD, your God,
with all your heart and all your soul.

“For this command that I enjoin on you today
is not too mysterious and remote for you.
It is not up in the sky, that you should say,
‘Who will go up in the sky to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
Nor is it across the sea, that you should say,
‘Who will cross the sea to get it for us
and tell us of it, that we may carry it out?’
No, it is something very near to you,
already in your mouths and in your hearts;
you have only to carry it out.”

Deuteronomy 30:10-14

The last part, about carrying out the commands of God, was what struck me. God’s Will isn’t so far away I have to strive to find it. It is not too mysterious, not some lofty thing I cannot attain. It is already written in my heart. Do I have the courage to carry it out?

So many times in my life I have allowed myself to become trapped by the grandness of God’s plan and how it is too big for me to see my part in. While this is true, God’s ways are not my ways nor are His thoughts my thoughts, and yes, His grand design for the whole world is beyond my comprehension, that does not mean I don’t know anything at all. I don’t know where God will take me in 10 years, in 5, in tomorrow. What I can know is God’s Will in this present moment. How? Jesus told us in last Sunday’s Gospel reading and in so many other places in the Gospels:


Love your enemies. Love your neighbors. Love yourself. Love God. Act out of love for God. Pray because you love God.

What do you need to do, now, in the present moment? Love. And in the next moment? Love. And in all the moments that follow? Love.

This is HARD! Especially when love looks like cleaning up after a sick child in the middle of the night, or forgiving a colleague for a hurtful comment. Love is sacrifice, love takes courage, love is selfless.

I can give a recent example.

Ben had left for a 3-4 week trip and we were only on day 3. The day Ben left, Nathan (the 1 year old) threw up twice, once in the middle of the night in his bed. He was fine for a day and then was sick again the following. The rest of the kids missed their dad, were tired from a week of school and other activities, and generally needy. Gabriel, the 3 year old, was especially insistent for every moment of my attention he could get. And I just couldn’t take it. I was snappy all morning, harsh when I didn’t need to be, impatient and generally awful. I knew it and I chose to lean into selfishness instead of following Deuteronomy’s advice.

Our big 4 kids had piano practice so they were out of the house for 2 hours. I let Gabe and Nathan watch some Bluey (of course, Bluey!), and I sat down with my coffee. The reality of the morning and my behavior hit me. I was so discouraged. I almost went and got my book to distract myself and get a break from it all.

Then I felt it. The little nudge, the random thought that you don’t know where it came from. “Don’t run away, sit here. Sit here and then do something to make it right.” So I did. It was probably the first moment I truly tried to do God’s Will all day. I sat, and then came the next nudge, “Write to them.” I got out 5 cards and I wrote apology notes to each one of my kids (Nathan excluded, I just gave him extra hugs). I apologized, I asked for forgiveness. I also let them know, according to their ages, how one specific behavior was not helping our family thrive. I asked them to think on it and see if it could be a place to work on. I told them I loved them.

I left the notes on their pillows and went peacefully to read. For about 30 seconds because it was time to turn off Bluey but that’s ok. I had followed God’s Will for those moments, my cup was being filled with grace and His Love.

I’d love to say we had a beautiful day after the kids read their notes. I’d love to say they had marked improvement in behavior, that I was was gracious and gentle from that moment forward. They did not, and I was not. But it was still better. I reigned myself in faster, I spoke more calmly. It was easier to make the right choice faster, even if I initially made the wrong one. I had become more attentive to God’s Will in the present moment because I had practiced it earlier.

I have grown so much in my trust in the Holy Spirit since hearing this reading. It has changed my relationship with God and encouraged me to form a deeper bond with the Holy Spirit. I chose to get the tattoo because I want to keep these words ever present with me, “God’s Will is already in my heart, I have only to carry it out.” This is not a lesson I will ever be done learning.

God has grand designs for each of us. Perhaps we have already seen Him working in our lives, perhaps we are wondering when it will all begin. No matter what God’s larger plans are, His perfect Will for each of our individual moments is the same: Love.

P.S. As a woman and mom, I know I have gotten trapped in the lie that everyone else needs to be served before I can take care of myself. Self-care is a big topic is popular society and it is important. We do need to take care of ourselves, but in a way that does not lead to selfishness or entitlement. It takes practice, it is a work of discernment. If you struggle with the line between no-care, self-care and selfish-care, take it to prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to pay special attention to this area and to inspire you to rest how and when you need to rest, and to recognize when your focus on rest is inhibiting your ability to do God’s Will.

Daily Graces.

Shaking the Laundry

Our family was blessed to live a few hours from my husband’s grandmother for several years before she passed away. In that time, she became another grandmother to me and I cherish the memories of my time in her home. 

One day, while she was doing laundry, she commented about how busy everyone is. “Look,” she said, “It doesn’t take that much time to shake out the clothes as they come out of the wash. You can save yourself so much ironing time by just shaking each thing out a little before throwing it in the dryer. And everything dries more quickly too, not all clumped up after spinning in the washing machine.”

I can still remember my reaction to this statement. Number 1, I don’t iron. Pretty much never, do I iron anything. Number 2, I have absolutely no time to be shaking out baby clothes because I don’t want them too wrinkly. At the time of this conversation, I was pregnant with our 5th baby and our oldest was only 7.

But this memory has stuck with me. It’s several years later, we have 6 kids now, and I still probably don’t have time for shaking out laundry. Except I do, if I’m going to be truly honest.

I was spending my day recently thinking about the Gospel parable of the poor widow and the two coins from Mark 12:41-44 and this was the memory that came to me. The widow gave fully of what she had, she didn’t hold anything back from God. She trusted that He was big enough to care for her as she opened her hands and let fall from them all that she had. How she challenges me to open my hands a bit further, to offer to God more of myself.

Just as the woman wasn’t making grand gestures by the world’s standards, I am not called to either. I am living an ordinary life, with mundane daily tasks and often repetitious chores. What use are these little tasks when compared with the influencers I see on YouTube or the writers and speakers who inspire hundreds, millions? They are worth more than gold if they are to be the path upon which I arrive in heaven. It all starts with doing them with that purpose in mind. 

What does this look like in my life? It means slowing down to shake out the laundry. And that’s what I did with the sheets that day. This simple action afforded me the time to be thankful for the conveniences like a washer and dryer, that my kids have enough clothes to wear, and Ben has a job which allows me to stay at home with our little ones. By being fully present in my task at hand, I am not filling my mind with anxieties for the future or fussing over past sorrows. If my mind is full of gratitude, it naturally inclines itself to a Godly perspective. Through God’s eyes, no moment, no chore, is wasted time if it is done in His presence and as a gift for His glory.

This perspective of living in the present moment, that no moment is wasted in God’s eyes, and that my work however small or humble from a worldly perspective has significance in my life’s journey is what I am carrying forward as the New Year continues to unfold.

Daily Graces.