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Friday, July 29, 2011

St Martha

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of St Martha of Mary and Martha fame. She is the patron saint of chefs, cooks, homemakers, housewives, housekeepers, butlers .. domestic workers.

 The bible tells us that Martha was gently chastised by our Lord for being more concerned with the hospitality side of things and reminded her that she also needed to take care of  her spiritual life. Perhaps He was also reminding her that there is more to entertaining guests than the actual preparations.

What a valuable lesson for us women to learn. We get so caught up in the practicalities of cleaning our homes, providing meals and doing laundry that we need to always remember to set aside time for the Lord and time for our families.

 From this interaction between our Lord and Mary and Martha, we learn that  the mundane tasks are necessary, but that the most important thing is that all we do must also lead us to the Lord.This means that our chores and duties must not take us away from living out our vocations as mothers, wives, sisters, friends, community members.

I believe that St Martha must have been a very gracious hostess.. concerned with the well-being of her guests.   I do wonder, however, if in seeing to their needs, she absented herself and was not sociable enough.

In my early years as a wife and mother, I was very much like St Martha. I remained in the kitchen, making sure everything was perfect and popped out occasionally, leaving my husband to do most of the entertaining.
As my girls grew older, I have been able to rely on them to fetch drinks and serve which leaves me more time to sit with guests and chat.

I guess the lesson I take from Our Lord's discussion with St Martha is that it is not necessary to have perfection in order to be a gracious hostess, it is not necessary to focus on details to convey warmth and friendship.. in fact these things are obstacles.

Of greatest importance to me  is that to sit at the feet of our Lord is the best place to be.. what a blessing it is to be a homemaker and have all these hours of service that can be offered to Him!

I remember once hearing a homily by a dear old priest in which he said that our homes are our altars, everything we do is a prayer.. when done in the right spirit of service and love. In serving our families, our guests, we also serve our Lord.   And that, my dear friends, is the best service of all.

May our Lord teach us to be gracious and to serve with hearts full of love.. and may we all shine brightly for Jesus!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Thankful for the Small Moments

Another week speeding by counting out the last few days of July. Can you believe it?  My girls have been out of school for a month already and they've only got 5 more weeks of vacation. My eldest boards a plane in just about a week to head back to college. How quickly time slips away.. how foolish we are not to treasure the smallest moments.

Lynn has asked us to share a miracle that the Lord revealed to us.. well I feel so blessed to have so many of these that I don't even know which one to share. I could tell you about the time I had an awful toothache and I asked God to take it away so that I could concentrate on the worship service I was at.. He did! It was years later that I actually went to the dentist to have that tooth fixed!

Or I could tell you about the time I got in an accident where I hit someone from behind..hard enough that my bonnet crumpled, lights smashed, children banged about, stuff under the hood damaged. Yet the lady I hit didn't feel that hard a bump (in fact she wasn't sure she'd been hit) and her car was barely dented... an angel perhaps? That's my theory.. an angel stood between us to prevent us from having to pay for damage to her car as well as our own.

I could tell you about when my husband's job was made redundant and he was given a severance pay that lasted us 8 months...just as it was about to finish, the Lord provided a job for him. As Lynn says in her post today.. the Lord always provides just enough.. never too much, never too little. All praise and thanks to Him!

Thankful to our merciful Lord for:

Walks on the beach holding hands with my soul mate and best friend
Laughter and frolicking at the water's edge.
Sand sculptures, holes and pools dug up and left.
Shells and sand dollars collected by my four year old.
Pride as I watch her take her first attempt at swimming.. minus her armfloats.
Movies watched lying on cushions, snacks all around.
Card games and board games.
Sharing the kitchen with my eldest daughter.. such a treat.
Hearing her say how much she loves my cooking.. how much she'll miss it.
The smell of cookies and cakes and goodies galore, filling up the house.
Smiles on the faces of all those indulging.
Snuggling up on a cold rainy day.
Road trips... Wiggles songs playing much to the older ones' disgust.
The joy and excitement of an energetic four year old on the playground.
Watching her try to 'play tennis'.
Worshiping our Lord in the pouring rain.
Young people who brave the elements to give praise.
The outpouring of the Spirit.. raining down blessings.
An unexpected evening out with my husband.
Giggles and squeals and toilet paper wars.
The generosity and kindness of family.
Chats that open doors once firmly closed.

Media & My Parenting

I'm a bit late with my Media Monday post.. okay a LOT late, but I guess the old adage 'better late than never' has its merits. This week Courtney dealt with Media and our Parenting. Let me tell you, what she has written hits home HARD! Make sure you check out what she has to say on this topic.

MEA CULPA!  Media is a big obstacle in my parenting.. I admit it! I am so busy all the time that I often don't pay attention to what my children are up to on the internet. I do know that they spend a lot of time on Facebook. In fact, I had a talk recently with one of my girls about how she needs to be careful what she fills her mind with. It’s impossible to serve to masters. You can’t straddle the fence and say you're serving God but be involved in questionable things via the internet.

My husband and I have been too flexible in this for too long.  My hubby, the techno man (well, at least he is compared to me) had installed a couple of years ago a system to block certain types of websites from being accessed. We also didn't allow our third daughter to have a Facebook account until very recently, after she turned fourteen. All in all though, monitoring their use of the internet just wasn't being done. We are now trying to be more aware of what they are doing since they do stay up later than we do. (My older girls are 20, and 18 )

I know of parents who take away all media from their children before bed time and take it to their rooms.. no cellphones or laptops are allowed and they shut down access to the internet at night. This may seem drastic to some, but lets face it.. our children are curious by nature and we all know what kind of stuff is available on the world wide web!  Let's not talk about what's done on cell phones!

Cell phones have become a vital part of my parenting. I like the security of knowing my children can reach me whenever they need to. It’s become my lifeline to them, if you will. Getting calls from them while at school because someone is ill or school is letting out earlier is a must.

I remember one time a few years ago the phone's battery ran down while I was out and I couldn't be reached. That happened to be the day that my eldest got a bad cut down at the swimming pool and had to be taken to the doctor for stitches. Thank God one of my friends was there and took charge, but it left me with a paranoia about keeping my phone charged and always being available. 
Click to view
There is, of course, a down side to cell phone usage. I have often been concerned about the continued research done on the physical dangers of cell phone usage. These things are like appendages to the body for most people, they're kept in pockets or clipped on to belts. My own girls have in the past kept them in the breast pockets of their uniforms..I shudder to think what that may have done! 

The fact that cell phones make our children constantly and instantly accessible to others is also more than disconcerting. I know of many stories about young girls being in inappropriate relationships via texting and cell phone calls. There are boys who store 'you know what' on their phones. Smart phones make the internet accessible anywhere. These things spell DANGER!! Our young people are exposed to too much in the way of  inappropriate knowledge and temptation.

As for television... my last two children have watched far too much of it!  I found myself a busy mom with no help and the easiest thing to do was to put on a television programme for my daughter so I could cook or do some other chore. This started with my third daughter who I would pick up from school mid morning and find that I had to finish cooking so I'd let her watch tv. It used to break my heart that most times she'd fall asleep right there in front of it while I did my chores.

You'd think I'd learn from that with the last one.. but life became even more complicated with more trips on the road and more chores to do.  I found that I couldn't get everything done with her underfoot so the tv became her babsitter too. It took me a while to realise I was making the same mistakes and we've since pulled up on the use of tv.. not enough, but its a step.

The bottom line is that we as parents need to be aware of what is going on around us. It helps to keep our fingers on the pulse of what's happening in the world, especially with our teenagers. It isn't pleasant hearing horror stories about other people's experiences, but it helps me to know what to look out for. My husband and I realise that we have to stay on top of technology as our girls are learning it in school and know more than we do.. at least that is true of myself, if not him!

We have to hold ourselves and our children accountable for how we use media, know the down-sides and avoid the pitfalls if we can. Media can be a wonderful resource for our children. I had to break myself out of the mold of wanting them to look in an encyclopaedia for information instead of clicking on google. As a book lover myself, I wanted them to continue appreciating the written word, but boy am I hooked on google search myself. Its so convenient!

As Courtney continues to point out, our use of media is what makes it good or bad. Let's pray that we can resist the temptations of the bad side.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Love Is...


My daughter and I sat at the dining room table.. her fingers  tapping away at her keyboard while I browsed the newspaper.. day old news depressing me. "Mom", she asked, "what did you do to regain your faith in people? How did you come back after being hurt and betrayed?'

She was referring to what had  happened between me and the first person I had opened myself to in a relationship. I had shared my little 'wisdom' with her some time ago, wanting her to understand the pitfalls that lie for a young woman who may have been sheltered and just a little naive... yet a young woman who is on the brink of adulthood and quivering with the force of new-found independence.

I glanced up at her and replied "I guess it was faith in God, ultimately." She shot back "Yeah but how do you trust yourself to love again."  "Hmm", I bit my lip, sending up a quick prayer to God to give me the right words to say. "Well, first of all, when you trust in God you can find the strength to have faith in others again, but more importantly, I didn't actively seek out that love.. it found me"

She looked sceptical and I tried to explain to this daughter who hides behind a wall of cool reserve, who doesn't let anyone close because she is so wary of being hurt. "Love isn't something you plan, its a gift from God.. a precious and fragile gift that you could actually miss out on by not following His Divine plan for you."

I went on to remind her  of  people we know who have stepped off God's path and done things that brought consequences to them.. consequences  that have  now  rendered the gifts God had  for them to become more difficult, if not impossible,  to receive.

I told her of the hard choices  I had to make as a young woman, that love came to me when I least expected it to, when I had already stepped onto a different path and that choices had to be  made, choices that would be painful to me and hurtful to others. I believe I made the right choices.. I fulfilled His Plan for me. This may not have been possible if I had not prayed and sought counsel at the crucial point.

She pondered this, chewing her lip thoughtfully.  "So, you're saying love is a choice then?"  "Yes!", I replied, "Love is choosing to love the unlovable, forgive the unforgivable, to overlook faults and flaws and extend  grace to each other. Love is giving even when you don't feel like it. Waking up when you don't have to, doing something you don't  need to or necessarily want  to. Love is giving yourself.. all of yourself"  I could see her trying to wrap her mind around the concept of sacrificial love.. she sees it played out in our marriage and parenthood, but is that enough?

Love is... #15 (1995)

"But, honey", I warned her, "in order to truly love and be loved you have to remove your masks and walls.. to let someone inside to see the real you. If you hide behind them, you wont open yourself to true love." The phone rang at that point and broke our conversation. I pray and hope that some little seeds got planted today and my daughter will truly ponder the concept of what...

Love is...

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Celebrating Married Couples

Today the Catholic Church celebrates the Feast of Saints Joachim and Anne, the beloved parents of Mary, the mother of Jesus and grandparents of Jesus Himself.

Legend tells us that St Anne was old and despairing of having a child, that the younger women would taunt and tease her. Stories say that she and St Joachim continuously made offerings in the temple and implored God to bless them with a child. A situation that seemed hopeless to an aging couple became reality. In the fullness of His time, God planted a precious and special child in the womb of St Anne. One destined to be held above all other women.. one given the title of Mother of the Son of God. As a result this couple is held as an example of married life and parenthood.

On this day, married couples are specially blessed and they may renew their vows of commitment to each other. In his homily at Mass today, Father stressed the importance of married couples to extend grace to each other. He said "Wives do not dwell on the faults, flaws and sins of your husband". 

Now, this hits home hard for me. As a wife who used to do these things, I can attest to the fact that all it breeds is bitterness and discontent. Rather, we ought to focus on the good in our husbands. We need to remember that we are not perfect either and our flaws and faults and sins may be just as irritating to them.. maybe even more so.

It has been a long hard journey for me.. but one chock-full of rewarding lessons... lessons from our Lord in giving the gift of grace, of graciousness, forgiveness and tolerance. When I stopped focusing on what was wrong in my marriage, what was wrong with my  husband and began to focus instead on how blessed I was to be married, with a home, a husband who provides, children.. the blessings seem endless, countless, limitless!

I want to encourage you to read my three part series on marriage, the links are provided. My story is wrapped up in these little fairy tales. There is a lot more I can go into... how to survive some of the most trying  and painful aspects of married life.. but for now I just want to assure you that, with Christ, in Him and through Him, we can overcome anything!

Focusing on the blessings, rather than the trials;  the good, rather than the bad is one of the first steps to making your marriage better.  I hope that you enjoy the series below, which I wrote in preparation for assisting at Marriage Preparation classes. Its my story.. it could be your story.. but its a story that DOES have a happy ending written by the hand of Jesus Himself in the fullness of His time.

Fairy Tale Part One : Happily Ever After - Expectations
Fairy Tale Part Two: The Honeymoon is Over - Reality Check
Fairy Tale Part Three: Keeping the Dream Alive

Linked to:

Growing Home

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Its all Coming up Roses

Its been forever since I did a thankful post. I perhaps should share a bit about what's been happening in my life.

Its been crazy, hectic and stressful for the past few weeks. There's been illness, pain and more bumps in the road than I care to admit. I have come to realise that I NEEDED to keep up with my thanksgiving so that I could focus on the good, the blessings and not just the trials that threaten to break us.

My friends, someone recently said in her blog that most of us have masks we wear when we visit Facebook, Twitter, in our blogs. Masks that give people the impression that our lives are going just as we want them to, that our children are perfect, our marriages made in Heaven and we are in control.

Well, I got to thinking about whether or not I give that impression. Truthfully, I could not witness for God if everyone thought that I 'had it all together' and its all coming up roses in my life.  I recently observed that St Paul witnessed the most for Jesus from behind the walls of a prison... it was his endurance of the trials that made his testimony the strongest. So it is with us.. people need to see us broken and bleeding, rising from the dust and finding strength in Him to continue.

Well, my friends, I will share with you that I have more meltdowns than I care to admit. My life is chaotic, my house always messy, my children are good girls but present challenges to me daily and my marriage IS made in heaven, but my husband and I are two imperfect human beings struggling with our basic human flaws to build a life together.

I will share with you that we are in debt up to our ears and our savings are minimal. Our eldest daughter is about to start her third year of university and I'm at a place where I wonder if we ought to have sent her in the first place. My second born is about to go off to Spain for a couple of weeks but when she returns we have no idea what is next for her as university is out of the question. My husband is working hard at a job he enjoys but the pay is barely meeting our needs and he, at times, feels that he is not a good provider. He questions whether he should stay in this job or try to get one that  pays a better salary. Most days I feel tired and overwhelmed with it all. Yet, my friends, it IS all coming up roses in my life. 

I have the promises of God to hold on to, the love and support of my husband and family and our faith in God is complete. I can see God hard at work even in the areas that seem the darkest and most impossible.

Today, I'm thankful that He gives us strength to persevere, that He has given my husband and I new understanding of each other and Grace to endure in a unity that only He could provide. I am thankful that my bills get paid and we always have enough to eat. I am thankful that my husband has a job, there are so many out there who do not. 

I am thankful that, by His Grace alone, our faith in Him is absolute. We have nothing to lean on or depend on but Him, His mercy and compassion, His provision, His Love... I am thankful for this. I am thankful that I can TRUST Him with every aspect of my life. I am not in control, I can acknowledge this and let Him take the reins of my life.

I am thankful that my children have the opportunities they do have and I have to believe that He opened the doors for them and He has them in the palm of His Hand.. their futures are secure, no matter what the present seems to indicate.

I am thankful for every single one of you who read my blog, offer support and prayers, words of encouragement. I am thankful that I can read your own blogs and be inspired by them.. so often one of you has written words that I desperately needed to hear.. Thank you!

As I sit here typing this, my mouth is swollen and painful from a root canal procedure I did this week. As I lay on the dentist's chair enduring this, I sang every single worship song I could think of  in my mind.... including the one above. Every time I thought I couldn't take it anymore, I remembered all the suffering that Jesus endured for us.. without novocaine or painkillers, without anyone soothing Him with gentle words. It gave me the strength to endure.

I don't tell you all of this so you can sympathize with me (though I know that you do) it is so you can be empowered by the knowledge that Jesus has got your back.. no matter what you're going through.. give Him thanks.. for it all!  

Thank You for the trials Lord.. they hone our faith to a sharpness and depth that wouldn't be possible without them. Thank You for the pain and suffering.. they enable us to unite with You in Yours and offer us the opportunity to make reparation to You. Thank You for your faithfulness and the promises that we can rely on. Thank you for your unconditional love!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Learning to Pray in Times of Tribulation

This week in our study of Sally Clarkson's "Ministry of Motherhood", we're learning about training our children in the specific areas of praying effectively and how to deal with tribulations.

This is a great time for me to be learning from Sally's wisdom as trials and tribulation seem to be following us these days. For weeks now we've been feeling the pressure increasing as we've dealt with one issue after another and the uncertainty that comes with huge changes in our seasons of life.
In Chapter 15, Sally talks about how she used flowers to illustrate the point to her young daughter that it takes time for prayer to bear fruit, just as it takes time for seeds that are planted to grow and blossom.  I thought this was such an inspired way to teach a young child. She reminds us that prayer is our communication with God and must be faithful in our prayer, faithful in our thanksgiving and worship of Him, bring to Him our needs but be patient in how He decides to supply them. As she told her daughter "sometimes God has to say no too", sometimes what we want is not in His plan for us.

My husband and I are trying to bring our children to this knowledge in this particular season of life.  One daughter believes that God abandoned her in her time of need and so she asks the question "Why should I pray if when I pray nothing happens?" I pointed out to her it may not have happened according to her desires, but God NEVER abandons us, He was right there and she can have faith that His Hand was supporting her, whether or not she believes so. 

 I hope and pray that we can show her that she was not faithful in her prayer to God.. that He is not to be called upon only in time of need. We can only build our relationship with Him by continuing to pray and leave that doorway constantly open. I hope that we can show her that she has filled her mind and heart with so many distractions, there is no room for the voice of God to speak. How would she even recognize His voice anymore?

Another daughter is praying for direction. She is on the brink of stepping out into the world. Decisions need to be made about her future.. hard decisions.. decisions that can only be made with guidance from God. She also feels disappointed that the things she set her heart on did not come to fruition. Her father and I are showing her that, perhaps, what she desired was not what God's plan is for her. Her specific way to pray ought to be "Lord, what is your plan for me? Where do I go from here? Please open the doors for me and show me?" 

This is the daughter who will be going to World Youth Day in Spain next month. This opportunity came up.. we believe that God opened these doors for her and we are praying that He will reveal His will to her via this medium.

Specific prayer.. funnily enough, my husband and I discussed this as we strolled the gorgeous length of a never-ending beach on Sunday. We discussed, among other things, our debt and the fact that we never prayed specifically for God to show us how to reduce it. We discussed the children's individual situations and how we need to pray specifically for each one and that the time had come for us to pray over each child for her need, to listen to what was on each of their hearts and ask the Lord to intervene in each situation, rather than use our human intelligence and reasoning to resolve things.

The same is true when we have to train our children to deal with the trials and tribulations that come with life. As Sally has said throughout her book, we cannot shield them from the outside world and any pain or trial they may have to endure. We have to effectively teach them how to handle these things.

 My second-born and I were having a heart-to-heart after we had an argument. Her father and I had felt that the summer job she is doing is not paying her sufficiently and that her employer takes advantage of her. She said to me "Mom, I understand how you feel, but it still pays something and any little bit helps. Besides, I know that they ask me to do a lot of things that aren't part of my job, but I look at it as a learning experience."

Her words took me back to 25 years ago when I had my first job at 18 and my own parents felt the same way about my employers. I stuck out that menial, low paying job.. mostly to prove to everyone that I was made of sterner stuff and could do it. At the end of two years I had so much experience that I was able to get a job that paid three times that salary. At that moment I was so proud of her.. for coming to this realization on her own. So many young people today expect to have everything the easy way. She is willing to work hard for it.

Our children need to learn from us, by the way we deal with our own trials, that even these things are to be grateful to God for. They are meant to teach us, help us to grow, make us stronger. I know that having seen all that their father and I have been through in the last few years, they DO see us stronger and better for all that we have managed to conquer... with God's help of course!

They have seen us running to the Father.. our First Response Training kicking in... for everything. In times of sorrow, pain, when trials threaten to break us. We are trying to show them that prayer is the answer for everything because prayer puts us into the arms of our Saviour, our mentor, our provider, the One who loves us more than we can imagine. In His arms we find peace, consolation, guidance and strength to persevere.

Like all parents, we slip and we fall.. they see us do this too. I happen to think its a good thing for them to see that we are human and imperfect, yet  we can have the humility to admit when we're wrong and the courage and strength to rise again because we believe in His love for us. If they can just have this same faith, what more can we ask for as parents?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Marriage and the Media

Today Courtney deals with the ways in which media can affect your marriage. She's done such a great job of it (make sure to read her post by clicking on the above link) that there's not a lot I can say differently, but I will add a few things.

Firstly, like Courtney, I resented the intrusive presence of cell phones and the computer.. long before it became a laptop and a Blackberry. As she says, it seemed to be 'omnipresent'. I hated the interruptions to conversations or family time that the ever-present cell phone seemed to bring. Just as Courtney admits, I felt that I was competing with both the phone and the computer for my husband's attention and I was losing.

It seemed as if my husband preferred to be on the internet than  to spending time with me.  I guess because it seemed to be something that made me seem petty and selfish I didn't bring up the subject for many years. The internet became my enemy.  Cybersace held no interest to me, I was too busy raising a family and taking care of all the things I had to in my home.

It became more than my enemy after I realised that it was a source of entertainment for my husband that made me feel inadequate, bitter and resentful and introduced a poison into our marriage that slowly created a chasm between us. It was a silent and deadly destroyer, one that  held us in its grip for many years, creating silent and unknown implications that would have a profound effect on our relationship.

Ironically, the internet became the thing God would use to recreate my marriage. Doesn't He have an awesome sense of humour? I got an e-mail account eventually and started using it to communicate with my husband, but it wasn't until I did one drastic cyber action (that I will share someday)  that things started to change, first dramatically declining and then dramatically improving.

I began to use the internet to rebuild the passion and romance in our marriage, to communicate my needs, my feelings and to elicit a response from him. It seemed to me that I couldn't get the time or the attention to address issues or to build on our relationship so I used e-mail instead.
Now, let me interject here that this wasn't always a good thing. I had to learn that some things just couldn't and shouldn't be said in an e-mail and that I was pressuring my husband to respond to difficult issues while at work. While I may have been comfortable pouring out my heart in words.. he wasn't. There was definitely a period of adjustment here!

My advice is don't use the media to try to solve your problems.. it isn't fair to your spouse to force him to face difficult issues while in his working environment.

On the positive side though, we began to use our cellphones to text each other loving messages every day and sending off e-mails or sharing articles of common interest (some with a view to improving areas of our marriage) to let each other know we were thinking of the other person and missing them. This I highly recommend! 

 The ever-present media SHOULD be used, in my opinion, to keep our marriages healthy and to keep our spouses in our hearts and minds. There is so much we can do to keep that flame burning brightly.. and the internet, I have found, is chock full of opportunities.

It doesn't take much... a simple text saying how much you cant wait to be with him later. Sending an e-card or a little note reminding him that you love him. In the beginning I would send more than one a day. I cant tell you the joy I felt when I got a text from my husband or the thrill of getting an actual e-mail, even a short one, that communicated his love. It was like being a teenager in love again!

Let's face it... if we take the time out of our busy day to connect with friends on Facebook or chat with someone on the phone.. we OUGHT to be taking time to connect with the person who is supposed to be number one in our lives (after God of course!)

As Courtney says in her post, " technology is amoral.  In and of itself it is neither good nor evil but rather the way you use it determines it’s morality. " Its up to us to use it wisely. Let's commit ourselves to using the resources available through the media to build up our relationships and improve our marriages rather than doing the things that would break them down.

Take it from someone who knows... its worth it!! ;-)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

First Response Training

This week, as we continue to study Sally Clarkson’s “The Ministry of Motherhood”, we are learning about the gift of Training.

As mothers we spend a lot of time training our children… potty training, good manners, social behaviour and skills. We often feel impatient and frustrated in our attempts to teach them since it seems to take a long time for them to learn sometimes.

In the course of my motherhood I have found myself saying things so often that I remember several times being tempted to record my instructions to save my voice! As the children have grown, I have been able to see the ways that my voice was heard though and how perseverance is rewarded in the end. I’m trying to remind myself of that in this season of life with a four year old bundle of mischief and energy barreling through the house again!
free clipart for kids

This is precisely the message that Sally is bringing to us in Chapter 13. She shows us Jesus’ patience with His disciples as He trained them to understand who He was and as He helped to build up their faith and ministry. As she points out, the fruit of all His work didn’t come to fruition until after His death and resurrection.

She says Even as Jesus had to be patient with fully grown but spiritually immature men who seemed slow to respond to his training, so we must practice with our children --and ourselves. The very nature of training is that it usually involves immature individuals, which means it takes a long time to accomplish its goals!”

She goes on to remind us that we are to be “consistent, loving and persistent trainers” of our children and that we must never give up hope because, no matter how futile it may seem at times, training does bear fruit in the future.

Chapter 14 deals with how to train our children’s minds to focus on God in all situations. I call this First Response Training.

I remember a time when we were going through a particular trial. Like all people seeking to serve God, we were also having temptations and spiritual attacks. I kept hearing God whispering to me that my first mode of offence was to get on my knees.

Soldiers, policemen, doctors, firemen… they are all trained to have automatic response to situations, before the brain can kick in, reflex does. Their training helps them to react appropriately to a situation in an instant.

This is how our relationship to God should be as well. We have to learn how to have a prayer reflex that kicks in when our human weaknesses would overtake us. We need to teach our children to turn to God in every situation, especially in times of temptation, frustration or danger.
child and dog at prayer
My daughter once told me about a dream she had…. you know those types of dreams that are just dancing on the edge of our consciousness… the kind where you aren’t really sure if it IS a dream?  She was in the grip of something that held her, something that felt sinister and evil. She could not move, the room was freezing and she was terrified but started to pray loudly, calling on the name of   Jesus. Eventually, she was released and felt safe again.

I, too, have had similar ‘dreams’. I also called on God, praying as loudly as I could. Sometimes I couldn’t speak but struggled until just one word burst from my mouth ‘Jesus!’ and peace would return

The same ‘first response’ is applied to the everyday fears in my life as well... at least I try very hard to do this.. sometimes its not that easy.  How do we pay the bills?  Pray… and trust in God’s provision.  I’m worried about my husband’s health and the stress at his workplace.  Pray… and trust in God’s merciful love. I’m not sure what to do in a situation. Pray … and trust in God’s direction. I’m afraid for the children’s safety when they are out. Pray … and trust in God’s protection.

Let me stress here that this "First Response" reflex did not happen overnight and there are still times when I struggle not to let fear control me. It takes great effort to come to the point where I recognize that I have no control.. only God does. That makes it a little easier to release my fears and trust in Him. 

As Sally says “we have to learn to reject fear and focus on the reality of the Lord’s love and power”Our God is awesome and mighty… there is none like Him. 

Psalm 27:1 "The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear. The Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid" 

Therefore we do not need to submit to fear, but submit our fears to Him.

This is a valuable lesson my husband and I are struggling to teach our children, to let them see us live out in our daily life together.

ogre 2.gifMy four year old at times will say that there are monsters in the room or she would refuse to walk to the bathroom by herself. 
My husband and I are training her to reject those thoughts by telling her that the mighty angel St Michael is always there to defend her. We teach her to say “In the name of Jesus.. Be gone!” This empowers her against fear. She has such a great imagination that she can SEE St Michael with her. He is her favourite angel and she is always asking me to tell her stories about how he threw Lucifer out of Heaven.

This is her First Response Training…. to know that she has protection against evil. I believe this is a solid foundation upon which to build up her faith in God.

It is a solid foundation for all of us. As Sally points out, we cannot protect or shield our children, or ourselves for that matter, from the evil in this world, from danger or from trials.  
We CAN, however, train them how to deal with these things. 

We can train them to rely on the wisdom of the Holy Spirit to give strength, wisdom, counsel and comfort through God’s word. We can train them to turn to Him in prayer, to trust Him in all situations. We can teach them to believe in the promises of God and in His love for us.

...Or to put it in my daughter's words "Jesus is going to chase away all the boogeymans" ... trust like a little child's... that's where I need to be in my faith... that's where I need to train my children to be in theirs!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Media and My Walk With God

Today I link up with Courtney over at Women Living Well as she tackles the issue of how media may affect our walk with God.

Courtney has some very powerful things to say about this topic and I invite you to pop over using the button to read her post as well as those of  others who are linking up.

I am relatively new to the blogging world.. I began in January of this year. I have not been really big on the social networking sites of Facebook or Twitter. I joined them to try to get into the discussions that were going on online for a couple of things I signed up for, but I have found that it was difficult for me to keep my finger on the pulse of this social hubbub, where new tweets were constantly appearing.

I found myself initially feeling a bit left out because, it seems that most people have 'smart phones' with the ability to have total all day access to the internet and, as Courtney put it, the pingings that keep you up to date on the latest happenings. 

I soon realised that I didn't have the time to keep up with all that stuff and that I'm actually lucky that I don't have the temptation placed before me to keep responding to media output. My life is very busy and I spend a lot of time outside of my home. I start off my days getting the family out the door for work and school and then I go to daily Mass and spend some time in front of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. This is my quiet time with Him and I don't like deviating from this routine.

There have been times when I have not gone to Mass because I could not get organised in time before I got my last daughter out the door. This is because I had spent too much time on the computer, either composing a blog or reading others' posts. I usually set aside the time in between when my husband and older children leave the house, around 6:30 am and when my youngest gets up for school around 7:30 am to check emails and write or read blog posts.  I will admit to spending more time than that many days. Also, in the past, if I got up in the middle of the night and couldn't go back to sleep, I would pray.. now I find myself on the computer writing or checking blog feeds.

This is the negative side to how the media affects my journey in faith.  It is easy to get sidetracked away from the real purpose I am on there and get into all the more social aspects of things. I tell myself that I'm only going to post my blog and maybe read a couple of posts, but often find myself  reading on and on. This takes away from my prayer time and has a whole bunch of other negative aspects which I am sure Courtney will be tackling later on in this series.

On the positive side, reading other people's blogs inspire me to be a better person. I learn things from other Christian women that I never knew before. They share videos and stories that can lift me up and often I read something that I truly need to be reminded of at that particular point in time. It is very seldom that I do not read at least one post every day that gives me a dose of inspiration.

I believe that it is very easy to let the power of the media become a beast that is out of control in our lives. I have seen first-hand, in my own family, just how addictive it can be. Time that could be spent in family prayer is spent instead on the internet or playing games on the computer. As Courtney so eloquently put it, the i in the iPod, iPad and iPhone must not replace the I in the Great I Am.

I intend to follow Courtney's example and start logging my time spent on the computer. As school is now closed for vacation, I know I will not be as pressed for time and the temptation to be on here is going to be much greater. I am going to have to be intentional about how much time I spend in prayer and meditation and hold myself accountable for the time I spend on the internet.

How does the media affect your walk with God? Join in the discussion over at Women Living Well. Courtney would welcome your comments.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Five Minute Friday - Grateful

From the Gypsy Mama:

Want to take five minutes with me and just write without worrying if it’s just right or not. Here’s how we do it:
1. Write for 5 minutes flat with no editing, tweaking or self critiquing.
2. Link back here and invite others to join in {you can grab the button code in my right side bar}
3. Go and tell the person who linked up before you what their words meant to you. Every writer longs to feel heard.
OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes for the prompt:



Okay, so today I get it right.. the topic 'Grateful'.. really quite appropriate for me today.

I'm SO grateful to God today.. today my baby girl graduated from Montessori school. As I sat there I recalled with a huge sense of  Dejavu, my other 3 daughters who each passed through this school and were taught by this excellent woman, Christine. She put her heart and soul into teaching my girls and all the other students who've passed through her doors. Sixteen years ago my eldest graduated, same school room, same benches, two years onward my second born graduated and then my third, last child for ten years. I could see what they each wore, how they looked.. it all flashed back through my mind and I sat there thinking "Lord, how blessed I am to have these four wonderful daughters. How blessed my years have been.. these past 20 years of motherhood"

Needless to say I got all teary eyed and couldn't even speak for a while. Later on, I was even more grateful because the Lord is working in a miraculous way in each daughter's life. My second born is going to attend the Catholic World Youth Day in Spain! Woohoo! Such a great opportunity.. she is so blessed. Most importantly, she recognises how blessed she is. She knows what a one in a million chance this was to have the opportunity after a last-minute cancellation.. all she has to pay for is her ticket and visa application.

GRATITUDE...Thank you Lord for all your blessings.. its been an amazing week, even if its been crazy, hectic and sometimes difficult.


I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. God bless you all!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mad Hatter's Tea Party & Lessons from the Sacred Heart of Jesus

Alice in Wonderland Tea Party

Its been hectic and as manic as the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at my house (and I'm afraid that my house is showing the effects) Lots of comings and goings, appointments to keep, baking, making and purchasing teachers' presents. We've had graduations and celebrations, outings and parties.  We've had hard decisions to make about our girls' futures, expenses, savings, finances, lots of talks and the kind of thinking that gives you a headache!

Yeah, I just feel a little loopy like the Mad Hatter himself (or maybe I'm the March Hare) ;-) Anyway with all this going on I have not been able to go before the Lord for many days. I have been feeling spiritually drained, empty, dry.. well, you get the picture. The burdens of daily life and the extra stuff going on have threatened to crush me.

Until today, when I went before my Lord and Maker again. Such peace, such love, such an outpouring of grace... and wisdom! Oh how He fills my heart with His truths. My lesson for today?

Last Friday the Catholic Church celebrated the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Its a wonderful day to honour the tender, precious heart of  Jesus and his merciful, kind and generous love  for us. I'll write some more on this another time.
Christ's Sacred heart drawing image with Cross free download religious drawings and Christian background pictures for desktop

"Come to me all you who labour and are overburdened and I will give you rest" Matt 11:28. This is the verse that is under the image of the Sacred Heart that I keep in my home. There is a story behind this image and you will find it here.

This is what Jesus is saying to all of us:

Come, rest in my Heart a while. Lay your burdens down, be refreshed. I give you strength to face another day. Your burdens are often of your own making. You spend so much energy and time planning, plotting, over-analyzing, worrying.  RELEASE and SURRENDER completely to me. My love is infinite, my knowledge and wisdom infinite.. can you not trust your future to Me? Can you let go of your desire to control using your limited human understanding, knowledge and reasoning? Let your spirit be at peace, let not your heart be troubled.. I have all things in My charge. Be patient, stop worrying about the future.. it is not yours but MINE. All will be well.. have faith. Trust in this Heart that loves you so much. There is no need for fear, worry or anxiety."

I left the presence of  my Lord, feeling lighter and refreshed, ready to tackle the troubles of the day. Funny thing though, while I was still before Him, I heard this old song in my head. I thought I'd share it with you. Maybe, just maybe, in the crazy, tumultuous tides of my ever busy life, I will hear this song and know these are the words my Saviour is always whispering to me.. "Lay your troubles on my shoulder, put your worries upon me and rest in my love for a while"

Linking up with

Friday, July 1, 2011

Five Minute Friday

I've decided to take the challenge and jump right in... I sort of told Ima from My life is a nutcase that I'd join her in her bravery this week. I miss writing and since I have no time to write properly I'm going to give this a

I think I want to talk about what blogging has come to mean to me. I started blogging in January.. so I'm pretty new here. I wanted to start commenting and participating in the blog that started all of this.. Courtney's Women Living Well. One day my husband just told me.. go for it.. why don't you start your own blog.

I thought about it for a couple of days and then one day I just signed up. I'm SOO techno-challenged, but I have learned so much over the past five plus months. My children are all agog at what Mom's been able to do. I'm still learning m y way around, but I think I've come a long way!

I've always loved writing.. since I was a child I've written poetry and short stories and I once even won a writing contest when I was 20. I sort of put all that behind me when I got married and started having children. Its been so wonderful to have this outlet for my desire to write.

More importantly, I started blogging because I wanted to share the spiritual journey I've been on.. this blog was born from a place of pain and searching for answers. I found Courtney and realised that there were other people out there who lived the lifestyle I have chosen for the past 18 years.

I know that might sound strange but it is not that normal where I live for women to live a 'biblical' life. Maybe there are people out there... I've just never come across any. In both my family and my husband's mothers worked and there was no encouragement to be a stay at home mom. Its the norm over here for both parents to work. Mothers who don't usually have housekeepers, some even live in.

Anyway, I'm almost out of time.. so this is it. I love being part of this blogging world and I am so happy to have all you new friends and to meet new people and to share and learn as we journey


Whew!.. almost didn't make it to the end there.. well this was my first attempt so forgive me if I stick in my last word 'together'.

It was fun, maybe I'll do it again some time. Hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoy your Independence Day celebrations!