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.

 

 

 

And Lead Us Not Into Temptation

I wish I could say I haven’t been avoiding you, dear reader. And though yes, we have been busy and yes, Ben has come and gone a number of times on various missions and duties  as his job requires, I have still found time to knit, read some books, crochet a new pair of slippers (almost), bake multiple batches of cookies and watch a number of interesting movies. All of this and not one post. To be completely honest, as you’ll soon be able to tell, I wrote this post nearly 2 weeks ago and am only today getting around to publishing it.

I’ve talked before about how I am capable of minor obsessions or passions. I focus intensely on one or two things, like knitting or decorating cookies, and then after some time it falls to the wayside, to be replaced with a new series of books, making rosaries or creating new crochet patterns. All of these are wonderful things. There is nothing inherently wrong with them.

And yet, if I truly believe that this writing is something I am being called to, which I do (I don’t think I could have stuck with it so long if wasn’t God’s will for me at this time), then these other wonderful, interesting and otherwise diverting are actually temptations away from what God is asking of me.

I would imagine we all experience this at some point in our lives, probably many points in fact. We know what we must do, but suddenly other things seem to be more important, are more exciting or are more appealing. We make excuses, we have reasons, we tell ourselves whatever we need to hear, yet in the depths of our hearts we know we are shirking responsibilities or avoiding the callings of God for our life.

Today (well, 2 weeks ago), on the Visitation of Mary to Elizabeth, I renewed my consecration to Jesus through the heart of Mary. I have spoken of this consecration once or twice I think, but not in any great detail. For the past 33 days I’ve been reading, meditating 33 Days to Morning Glory. Marian Consecration. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com Daily Gracesand preparing to renew my consecration using an extraordinary book, 33 Days to Morning Glory. Fr. Michael Gaitley MIC, has combined the lives and teachings of St. Louis de Montfort, St. Maximilian Kolbe, soon-to-be St. Mother Theresa and Pope St. John Paul II into one complete whole that guides the seeker on a journey to understanding and deeper faith in Jesus with the help of His Blessed Mother.

What is a consecration to Jesus through Mary, or more simply put a consecration to Mary? The easiest way to understand Mary’s role is to explore her mission or “job”. Mary’s job is to form us into Christ. Just as she sheltered, guided and taught the child Jesus, she continues to shelter, guide and teach the faithful today. Mary is a living embodiment of the generosity and overabundance of God. God not only gives us His Son to be our brother, friend and Savior, on the Cross Jesus’ love continues to overflow in the gift of His mother. This moment is especially important for John Paul II, who understood that consecrating oneself to Mary was to join with the apostle John by taking Mary into his home. That’s really what this is all about, inviting Mary into our home, our life, and asking her to school us in the art of sainthood.

And so, as Mary has gradually taken over the tutelage of this unruly student, I have begun to see certain things in new light. Temptation for starters. Temptation is that which encourages us to avert our eyes from God, the sparkle in the corner of our eye that causes us to lose focus and turn our head to a different direction. Mary has been showing me where temptations are in my life. As a result, I’ve been praying that she will begin to give me the strength I need to overcome them and ignore them. Hopefully we all will see the fruit of her labor here in the blog, or in my “Other ideas” folder which seems to be ever expanding.

To be clear, a consecration to Mary in no way obscures, distracts or circumvents a person’s relationship with Jesus, our Savior and Mediator. Mary’s sole purpose is to form us into saints, that is, to help us become every more fully living images of Jesus. She is a gift from the abundant love God has for each one of us. The sacrifice of Jesus for the salvation of the world was enough, His action is complete. Mary is simply one more way that God continues to shower us with His blessing, grace and mercy. That is why we ask Mary to “pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.” We ask her to stand alongside us, to show us the way, as we journey both with and toward her Son.