An Industrious Woman Domestic Church Ink Slingers Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman Rachel M Spiritual Growth

Ode to Feminine Genius: An Industrious Woman

This is the seventh installment in the series of Ode to Feminine Genius: Proverbs 31 Catholic WomanToday’s topic will cover An Industrious Woman.

Proverbs 31 industrious woman

Industrious woman, this theme speaks to me. I love being industrious; checking things off my lists, completing tasks, keeping up my home. Nothing brings me the same kind of joy as a freshly swept and mopped floor. Industrialism is perfect for my type A tendencies because it’s black and white, there’s no gray. You either are or you aren’t.

Except, I also have six children at home with me every hour of almost every day.

So, industrious woman easily becomes nagging crabbypants mom who doesn’t have time to read books when you ask her, because she’s only on number 3 of 74 things to do for the day.

Before we can be industrious women, we must first set our priorities for the day, or even the next fifteen minutes. There are two things I need to keep my sanity- a shower and a swept floor. Walking barefoot on crumbs might just be my purgatory. So therefore, after breakfast every morning, I sweep the floor. But, if I’m being true to my priorities, the cleaning ends there. I stop and move on to mommy things- doing hair, playing games, homeschooling, going outside. Every wife and mother has her things that must be done, a bare bones, and it’s important to figure out what that is for you.

Here’s the thing though, being industrious does not trump love. And, for me, that’s hard to remember.

taking care of familyWhat being an industrious woman means, at the heart of it, IS love. Because I love my husband and our family, I keep up with the chores, I cook meals, I am diligent with our housework. I attempt to be self-disciplined. And because I love God, I try to offer it all up to Him through Mary.

I believe there are two main tenets of industrialism in the home. Each is important, and it looks different in each person’s home of course, but without these two things it is difficult to employ this virtue.

1. Keep A Schedule and Plan for Rest – We all know that running our homes on a schedule is beneficial for everyone. The children are always better behaved when they know what to expect out of each day, more things are able to be accomplished by everyone, and at the end of the day, Dad doesn’t always come home to a frazzled wife. But, moreover, being industrious is using our time wisely. Having a schedule means nothing if you don’t follow it. If you are supposed to be folding laundry and instead decide to check facebook for just a few minutes first, things surely start to fall apart. The few minutes turns into 15 and then just as you pull the laundry out of the dryer, baby wakes up and now the whole schedule is pushed back. Of course we must be flexible, but flexibility is not the same thing as purposeful lethargy.

All moms have experience with putting off naps for just a little too long. We really need to finish grocery shopping, or get big brother to karate, or even something fun like a family trip to the zoo, but inevitably, the baby takes the brunt of it and eventually turns into a crying, cranky mess. Well, us moms are the same way. We all know when we’ve pushed too hard and our bodies and minds start pushing back. Part of using the gifts and grace God has given us is knowing when to rest as well. A mom’s schedule should include a reasonable bedtime, down time, and prayer time.

2. Minimalism and Waste –  Our job as wives is to build up our husbands as the leader of our family and our home. One important way that I believe is often overlooked is letting our husbands know that we both appreciate his income and feel that it is enough. Whatever the amount of money in the budget, the industrious woman puts it to work for her. She budgets effectively, spends only money that is there, and creates little waste. The industrious woman lives richly within her means.
Our tomatoes seemed to fruit really late this year after having a cool and very wet summer, so now that it’s officially fall, our plants are full of green tomatoes. My initial thought was to just compost the whole lot and be done with it, but I knew I couldn’t rightfully throw away food that could nourish my family. Instead I composted the plants for future use in the garden, and have picked all the tomatoes that will soon become canned mincemeat. It’s about using what we have to it’s fullest benefit.

Keeping the home neat, is much easier when you have fewer things. It’s that simple. If something is broken beyond repair, get rid of it. If there’s something you never use, donate it. If something you own is causing you stress or the inability to properly keep your home, give it away. Personal belongings are not important, not really, and when they cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture it can be a slippery slope towards sin.

“She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.” -Proverbs 31:27

What ways have you employed in your home to use your blessings to their fullest benefits?


Current Events Pope Rachel M

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

When we consider that the Mass is an earthly glimpse into heaven, it can be difficult to stomach that so much of the beauty and richness of the Catholic history is sometimes lost among Marty Haugen and berber carpet. We look at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and our home parish, and it’s fair to say for most of us, that there is no comparison to be made at all. But, it is difficult for any person, Catholic or not, to dispute the beauty of a High Mass in a 300 year old Cathedral with incense, costly vestments, and extreme reverence.

Still, the Church gets a bad rap in today’s secular world for valuing beauty for our God.

It’s difficult to avoid criticisms such as this in our media. They are everywhere.

What these critics don’t understand is that the Church doesn’t lavish the Pope with beautiful vestments and accessories because he has power, but because he has apostolic succession and is THE man chosen by God through the Holy Spirit to lead us. He is a living, breathing, speaking intercessor between heaven and earth.

We aren’t celebrating the man, but the office instituted by Jesus himself, which ultimately points back to Him. The Church is, “upheld infallibly in the truth: Christ governs her through Peter and the other apostles, who are present in their successors, the Pope and the college of bishops.” CCC 869. In the liturgy, the priest acts in persona Christi capitis, as the person of Christ the head. The Mass is not meant to be a barren service, but a joyful, extravagant celebration in union with the Mass in heaven. The Pope is not the head of our Church, Jesus is.

Even in His time, Jesus faced the same ridicule. “Mary took a liter of costly perfumed oil made from genuine aromatic nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and dried them with her hair; the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Then Judas the Iscariot, one [of] his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, ‘Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wage  and given to the poor?’ He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief and held the money bag and used to steal the contributions. So Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’” John 12:3-8 NAB

In Exodus chapter 26, God gives Moses very specific directions on creating a tabernacle. That’s right, a whole chapter of Exodus is devoted to the lavish and opulent design that God asks Moses to use when creating His tabernacle. There are to be 40 silver pedestals, beautiful fabrics, gold plated columns, and on and on. This is what God asked for, we humbly oblige.

We clearly live in a culture that grossly misunderstands our motives. The Church is not some rich entity greedily keep all of it’s money for itself.  In his inaugural homily, when discussing the papal tiara, Blessed Pope John Paul II, said “Pope John Paul I whose memory is so vivid in our hearts, did not wish to have the tiara; nor does his Successor wish it today. This is not the time to return to a ceremony and an object considered, wrongly, to be a symbol of the temporal power of the Popes.”

This is why it makes me sad to say, that in these days, when The Church is so highly censured for so many reasons legitimate and not, it may be time for us to put away the beauty of the past for a while. As Blessed Pope John Paul said, we have to put away these things of beauty for a time, until there is no longer power associated with luxury.

Pope Francis has continued to scale back some of the pomp and circumstance in the way he celebrates the liturgy, and look at the praise he is receiving in the secular world. He chose to keep his simple black shoes over the red papal shoes that were so highly admonished, and suddenly The Church is now somehow more in tune with the common man, as if those shoes could have purchased meals for every hungry child in Africa. Papa Francis is humbling himself, in order to show his flock how to be humble.

Blessed Pope John Paul II continued in his homily, “Our time calls us, urges us, obliges us to gaze on the Lord and immerse ourselves in humble and devout meditation on the mystery of the supreme power of Christ himself.” He said “our time”, not forever, but now we are called to be especially humble.

We can take the example of these two loving Papas, and think of our current sacrifices as a Church as the olive branch. In the eyes of many, The Catholic Church still has much to atone for, so we must now act as servants to all to show the world that we are who we say we are. That we love every man and woman because every human being is made in the image and likeness of God.

Domestic Church Mary Motherhood Offering your suffering Parenting Rachel M Spiritual Growth

Dishpan Hands and a Servant’s Heart

There are few chores I loathe more from my childhood than hand washing and drying dishes. Sticking your hand in a dirty sink full of water with food bits floating around, oh, I shudder just to imagine it. Therefore, when our dishwasher recently gave out, you can imagine my horror. A seven person family with no dishwasher, inconceivable!

I’m pretty sure I complained no less than 14 times before I filled up the sink that morning to wash all the dishes from the day before. I begrudgingly dipped my hand into the water and used the rag to soap up the dishes.

As I continued, I thought about how only 5 months before, our dryer had stopped working. While I waited for my husband to try to fix the dryer, and then eventually for repairmen to come, I washed two loads a day and hung them to dry on a clothesline outside. Every other day, I washed three loads, when we had to do diaper laundry. It was a lot of work, but after a few days I settled into a routine and I began to enjoy the work. I imagined Our Mother, Mary washing Jesus’ diapers and laying them out to dry. I felt my heart grow closer to hers through this additional manual labor.

So, as I finished rinsing all four sippy cups and setting them out to dry, I wondered if this too would become enjoyable. If washing our dishes could become a form of prayer for me. For you see, when we have an unexpected bout of bad luck, we have two choices, self-pity or holy fortitude. The car breaks down, the dryer stops working, the AC goes out, we can choose to use these opportunities to bring us closer to God or we can choose to let them take us farther away through complaint and self-pity.

The next time I filled the sink, I tried to imagine how Mary washed dishes. Did she take her pots to the river to wash them, did she use the water she drew from the well that morning? Was it a long trip to the well, did she carry Jesus on her back? She certainly didn’t have the luxury of running water, and if she used soap it was most likely soap she made herself. Was she lucky like me to have the help of her sweet baby, Jesus, and did he want to splash in the water as she washed?

As I meditated on these thoughts, I found that washing the dishes had suddenly become easy. It was something I wanted to do. It was an act of love and sacrifice for my family that drew me closer to Our Lord. We can take God given grace, and choose to give the glory right back to him, through service in our families.

Am I glad our dishwasher is broken? No. I am very much looking forward to when we get the delivery in a few weeks of our new appliance. But, I am glad that I had the opportunity to grow spiritually in this small way and contemplate the face of our Infant King.

Lent Marriage NFP and contraceptives Offering your suffering Rachel M

Abundant Living During Lent

Ash Wednesday is a somber day where we begin our forty days of fasting before we celebrate our Lord rising from the dead to give us new life. It’s a day where we contemplate our chosen sacrifices and prayers to help us grow closer to our Lord. We choose to surrender parts of ourselves to unite us to our savior on the cross so that we may better understand his bleeding wounds and immense suffering.

During this season it can be difficult to come up with a authentic sacrifice beyond giving up soda, TV, alcohol, etc. Not to say that those are ingenious, but depending on your faith life, they may be somewhat juvenile. Perhaps, if your heart is willing, I have a suggestion for your 40 day journey.

Our diocese, the Diocese of Des Moines, recently held a wine and cheese social where they celebrated the beauty of the teachings of The Church on Natural Family Planning. There was wine, cheese, free childcare, and a group of Catholic friends, so ya, we went. There was a brief presentation by Bishop Pates, and then people simply sat and enjoyed the company. It was so much fun, and I even got the Bishop to take a picture with me and some of my squirmy kiddos.

As I looked around the room, I was somewhat surprised to see a lot of unfamiliar faces. I feel like my husband and I have finally settled into the Catholic community here, having moved from Nebraska to Des Moines four years ago, and we have gotten to know many amazing Catholics. But at the social, there were new faces. It was so uplifting to know that we belonged to a greater community. A group of people who love God and love The Church’s teachings on the dignity of both married life and humanity. And, it wasn’t just my circle of friends, but there were other people in Des Moines who practice Natural Family Planning (NFP).

I’m sure you have read numerous articles, publications, and perhaps even testimonies on the amazing gift of NFP. But, what I would like to share with you, is the part of NFP that I find the both the most difficult and the most fulfilling, the sacrifice. Because, it is the sacrifice that binds me to God.

In all forms of Natural Family Planning, there is a period of abstinence if you and your spouse have discerned that it is necessary for you to avoid pregnancy. Society often tells us that abstinence, especially inside of marriage has no place, that it is unrealistic. But, our Mother Church, and less importantly me, will tell you quite the opposite. When you can look at your spouse, the most desirable person in the world and say to him or her, “I love you so much that I will give up my worldly desires for you”, well, what more is there? What more could you possibly say that could better mean “I love you”.

Is this period of abstinence difficult? Well, yes, sometimes. But just as we offer our Lord a sacrifice during this Lenten season out of love, can we not offer sacrifices for those on Earth whom we love? When you view a time of abstinence of sacrifice through the eyes of our Lord, it becomes beautiful, sanctifying, and you even look forward to this time.

If in your marriage, you have not opened yourself up to this gift from the Church, I encourage you to think about it, pray about it, and discuss with your spouse and priest this opportunity. Use these 40 days of fasting as a starting point for your NFP journey, consider it a trial run, for there is no greater love than dying to one’s self for Him.

If you and your spouse practice NFP, I ask you to recommit during this Lenten season. Read a new book on marriage and love, take a new NFP class or meet with your instructor for a brush up, sit down with your spouse and look over your charts, or make a decision to discuss your chart with your spouse each night.

May God bless you on your journey during this holy season.

Domestic Church Parenting Rachel M Saints

Choosing a Patron, Or The Patron That Chooses You

My family and I attended an Epiphany story time at our local Catholic bookstore recently. It was wonderful, and all seven of us had a great time. And, when we were finished my children wanted to visit one of their favorite places in all the world, the twirly racks of prayer cards.

My son Abraham and a King.

There is something that just calls out to children when those displays are in a store, saying “spin me, spin me, your mom won’t mind”. I tell you my kids can find them anywhere. But, if there are tiny little cards with beautifully embossed pictures of Holy Saints and prayers on them, oh my, our little darlings are in Heaven. It’s all I can do to keep them from pulling handfuls down at a time to take home and stash under their pillows. (Isn’t that where you keep your prayer cards?) After all, what’s cooler than collecting baseball cards? Collecting holy cards, where all the players are on the same team, The Saints! Though some may be Padres, or Cardinals….I digress.

So, there we were making our way to these little displays of joy, and my five year old son heads the other way. I see him making a beeline toward an employee, so I quickly follow as I am intensely interested as what could keep him from these whispering spinning racks. He says to her, “Excuse me, do you have a Blessed John Duns Scotus prayer card?”. To which she laughs, quite surprised by my child’s request, and replies “no.” My poor child, I fear he may have trouble finding this Holy Grail of prayer cards, the prayer card of his patron for 2013. This on top of the fact that there exists no St. Abraham prayer card, whom he is named for, well it may be a rough year for him who is obsessed with collecting prayer cards.

This year, inspired by a friend, each person in my family chose a patron Saint for the year. Someone to learn about through reading and prayer, and someone to intercede for them throughout the year. My friend shared with me this passage from the diary of St. Faustina,

“There is a custom among us of drawing by lot, on New Year’s Day, special Patrons for ourselves for the whole year. In the morning, during meditation, there arose within me a secret desire that the Eucharistic Jesus be my special Patron for this year also, as in the past. But, hiding this desire from my Beloved, I spoke to Him about everything else but that. When we came to refectory for breakfast, we blessed ourselves and began drawing our patrons. When I approached the holy cards on which the names of the patrons were written, without hesitation I took one, but I didn’t read the name immediately as I wanted to mortify myself for a few minutes. Suddenly, I heard a voice in my soul: ‘I am your patron. Read.’ I looked at once at the inscription and read, ‘Patron for the Year 1935 – the Most Blessed Eucharist.’ My heart leapt with joy, and I slipped quietly away from the sisters and went for a short visit before the Blessed Sacrament, where I poured out my heart. But Jesus sweetly admonished me that I should be at that moment together with the sisters. I went immediately in obedience to the rule.” Excerpt from “Divine Mercy in My Soul, the Diary of St. Faustina”

Well, that was all I needed to read, I was sold. So, we used a website created by Jennifer Fulwiler called “Saint’s Name Generator”
All you have to do, is push a button, and out comes the name of your saint for the year.

We let our little kiddos come up and push the button and as I watched each Saint name appear, I was taken aback by how it did seem as though the saints were picking them. My husband recieved St. Jerome, Doctor of the Church, best known for writing the Vulgate translation of the bible. My husband talks about St. Jerome all the time, so I found this choice quite fitting. And, St. Jerome is the patron of students and school children, maybe St. Jerome chose my college professor husband to give him a better insight into the lives of his students.

My son obviously was given Blessed John Duns Scotus, whom we knew nothing about. I think this too was an amazing match-up, for my son though he is only 5, is quite a theologian. He has such an amazing understanding of the Faith and The Church, and he uses his intelligence to defend her. As we researched John Duns Scotus, we found that he strongly defended the Church’s teaching on the Immaculate Conception of Mary. My son, Abraham, has a strong devotion to Mary and The Holy Family.

And as we continued, I became more and more amazed by the Saints chosen for each of my family members. My daughters received St. Josemaria Escriva, St. Florian of Lorch, St. Dunstan, and St. Thomas Becket. Lastly, I was given St. Vincent de Paul. This inspiring Saint, with such a love for the poor and downtrodden, this is exactly who I needed. A man to humble my thoughts, and encourage my love in all areas of my life. I truly look forward to learning about my dear Saint, and doing my best to live like him this year.

Some of my little saints.

Just as my friend encouraged me, I too encourage you to choose your Saint for the year. Use Jennifer’s website and see which Saint chooses you. Please share with us in the comments as well, I am love to see the work of the Holy Spirit among us!

Lastly, I humbly petition you to pray for our dear sister in Christ, Jennifer Fulwiler, fellow Catholic blogger, star of The Conversion Diary, and all around amazing woman. She has been admitted to the hospital for pulmonary embolisms in both lungs, though both her and her unborn son are stable. Let us ask for the intercession of St. Michael, Jennifer’s patron Saint for the year.