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Ink Slingers Sarah

God Always Provides

As I scrolled through Facebook the other day, I stumbled upon  a piece about large families. It was an outline of things you should never say to a mama of many. All of the expected, regular comments were there including that old zinger “how do you AFFORD all these kids?! Weddings! College! Groceries!?!”

I do wonder that myself sometimes, actually! When the appliances all seem to need to be replaced at the same time and multiple kids need braces at once, I really do start to wonder! When it all falls into place and we make it through to the other side, I know that what I really need is to start having more faith. God hasn’t left me high and dry yet.

He always provides. Of course, that doesn’t mean that He always sends a bigger paycheck, though, does it?

I heard a wonderful saying once and it has always stuck with me. “A baby always comes with a loaf of bread under his arm.” Isn’t that the sweetest? I always envision a tubby little diaper clad baby, carrying a baguette in the crook of his arm. It’s kind of ridiculous, but incredibly charming!

And it’s true, really. Not literally, of course, but we really do always find a way to manage.

Maybe that old washer refuses to konk out and need replacing. Maybe someone extends a dinner invitation or stops by with a meal, just when the fridge and the bank account are simultaneously looking dry. Or maybe they don’t and we just learn to scrape a wonderful meal together out of what appears to be nothing and a good sprinkle of ingenuity.

We learn to budget and be better stewards of the gifts that God has given us. In our home, I know we utilized the library and YouTube as a means to DIY just about everything we need to do.And I mean everything. My husband even fixed our septic once – and solved the problem!

We meal plan to make the best use of our grocery budget, we fix what has broken instead of replacing it, we spend quality time together playing games or going for a hike instead of going on expensive outings. None of this is extraordinary, just planned and thoughtfully executed.

Sometimes, it’s simply a changing or softening of the heart. I could drive a pretty lovely car or live in a much fancier home, if it weren’t for all these darn kids! But what’s a big fancy house when it’s empty? I’m not sure a small, fancy car would be nearly as much fun as my giant (kinda junky!) van filled with laughter!

Perhaps we need to stretch and grow in order to “afford” this crazy life we’ve been gifted, but isn’t that the whole point? Aren’t we here to make each other better, stronger, holier? Sometimes, our faith that God will provide is the only thing holding us together. We lean into Him – and He takes care of the rest.

Sure there are probably weddings in our future and college tuition is coming up quickly. But we are raising kids who value time and people over fancy things and kids who understand the value of the dollar. We all know how to boot strap and still live a life steeped in beauty. They are each one better for having one another. Expensive? Maybe, yes, but in the end, what really matters most? Those dollars stay here when we die. But the souls of our big, beautiful, crazy family will all carry on, home with that same God who carried us through.

 

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Ink Slingers Sarah

Passing on the Faith: Resources for Parents

Passing on the Faith Resources for Parents

As moms, we always want the best for our kiddoes. As Catholic moms, we want even more for our children when it comes to our faith. It’s an uphill battle sometimes, with today’s culture being what it is. But we are also living in a time teeming with resources just at our fingertips. Today, I want to share just a few of my favorites.

Podcasts: As a homeschooling mom to many, sometimes I just want a passive way to get the lessons into my kids little brains. We are a busy family, so we do spend a nice chunk of time in the car each day. When we moved our family from the center of town out to the country a few years ago, people told us that we’d be sorry for all the driving we’d be doing. Instead, I try to harness that time for chit chats, deep discussions, and some podcast listening {and of course, music. Or my favorite, silence!}

We LOVE the sweet little podcast Catholic Sprouts. Nancy kindly teaches the children a different lesson each day. She takes weighty topics and deep theology and, without watering it down, presents it to the kids in a way they can understand. It takes talent to teach kids well, and Nancy has that talent. Each episode is long enough to have great information, but short enough to keep the fleeting attention of a bunch of little kids. With a new podcast each day, this can be a nice little piece to your daily faith formation.

BooksMarigold Hunt is another person with an amazing ability to take the complexities of the Catholic Church and present them in an easy to understand format for children. We have read through both Life of Our Lord for Children and The First Christians. We tend to hop back and forth between them, depending on where we are in the liturgical year. Life of Our Lord is an excellent Advent and Lent companion.

Toys: Play is a child’s work and it’s the absolute best way he can learn and really internalize the world and the lessons presented to him. Heidi, from Work and Play, Day by Day has a whole host of Catholic Montessori resources to guide parents in teaching the faith to their children. Her advent collection looks excellent! When children can work with their hands and create while they learn, they hold onto that information much more readily. Heidi’s thoughtfully created, hands on resources are invaluable tools.

My Catholic Kids: Here are a few more fun card games and books to help the kids learn the saints. Saints are the Church in heaven, so these cards give the kids a chance to get to know and befriend these Catholics who have gone before us. What better way to learn to want to emulate these holy people, than through a fun little game of cards.

There are so many high quality tools today to help us pass on our faith to our children. These are really just a few of the ones we love.

What tools to you use and love with your kids?

 

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Faith Formation Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Offering your suffering Prayer Sarah

Offer It Up! The Sanctification of Suffering

Offer It Up

As the cold winter has given way into spring, the Liturgical Calendar tells us that it is Lent. This once was a time when kids around the globe firmly resolved to give up chocolate for the next forty days, moms put down the snacks, and dads might even leave the beer in the fridge, untouched. We sacrifice in Lent, because Christ sacrificed for us.

But have you noticed the changing trend these days? We are a people who loathe suffering. We will do anything for comfort. We’ve seemingly abandoned the idea of “giving up” and embraced the “do-gooder” attitude. Instead of giving up chocolate, we resolve to use kind words. Instead of skipping the sugar in our morning cuppa, we affirm our neighbor. Forget all this suffering nonsense! I’ll just do something “nice.”

Why are we so afraid of suffering? We are afraid to face our humanity, afraid to admit just how small we are, afraid to admit that God’s plan is so much bigger than our own?

Kindness and affirmations are lovely – they truly are – but they miss the point of Lent.

When I was growing up, my mom loved to remind us to “Offer it up!” When we offer up our pain, we sanctify it. Pain and suffering came into the world through the Fall of Adam and Eve. It wasn’t God’s original design, but the logical result of the Fall. We now need to use this pain to draw closer to Him and join in the salvation He is offering us.

When we unite our suffering to Christ, even the small inconveniences become sanctifying. Lent is when we focus on small suffering and offer it to Christ. Our small acts of joyful suffering fortify our souls. They strengthen us, so that when the suffering is big, we are strong enough to turn from sin and embrace virtue. Suffering in the small things makes us strong for the large things. Suffering, offered to and united with Christ, gives grace to our souls and sanctifies us.

We are living in a spiritual battlefield and we need to strengthen our spiritual muscles and put on our spiritual armor. Prayer and real sacrifice are our means of spiritual strength. Each small sacrifice is like a trip to the gym for our souls! We are willing to sweat it out in the gym to make our bodies look and feel great. Why not do the same for our soul?

Christ came to earth to redeem us. He came to undo the effects of Adam and Eve’s Fall. One of the main effects of the Fall is suffering. While Christ could have chosen any means by which to redeem humanity, He chose to suffer! He chose to die a bloody, painful death on the Cross.

Lent has been our time to join Him on the road to Calvary. He didn’t walk that road, handing out joyful affirmations and kind words. He didn’t stop to tell the weeping woman of Jerusalem, “Cheer up! You’re beautiful!” He suffered real pain, offered it for our souls, and died on the Cross so that we could be redeemed.

This Lent, it’s not too late to choose to offer some small, painful sacrifice to Christ. Unite it to His Passion and sanctify your little suffering, particularly as we head into Holy Week. Certainly, be kind, too, but remember that Lent is a time to reflect on Christ’s redemptive suffering and in some small way, to join Him on the road to Calvary.

 

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Fatherhood Ink Slingers Matrimony Motherhood Parenting Respect Life Sacraments Sarah Vocations

Greater the Gold: Adding Siblings is Worth the Sacrifice

This spring, we were thrilled to welcome our seventh baby. And to add to the excitement, it was a boy, after twelve years and three daughters. Our two older sons were thrilled to have a new brother and our daughters were equally as thrilled to have a baby to dress up. They even fight over who gets to change his diaper!

After nine months of debating (read: arguing with me), the kids won out and we call this little guy Blaise. I can’t even imagine how special it must be to feel like you got to name your little brother! Even three months in, they’ll occasionally comment “Aren’t you glad we named him Blaise? What a great name!” He is theirs and he couldn’t be more loved.

Our big kids have made many sacrifices, now that our little guy is here. There are the regular newborn sacrifices, of course, such as learning to change a diaper (you’re welcome, future spouses!) and deferring their preferences to the baby’s demands. They have all pitched in and helped out without a single complaint.

They’ve also made sacrifices for his particular needs. Blaise was born with bilateral clubfoot, which is one of the most common congenital defects. It’s not a huge deal–it’s easily correctable and we’re fortunate that one of the top orthopedic surgeons specializing in clubfoot is only a five-hour drive away.

But that’s a five-hour drive nearly every week for their entire summer break. This means there hasn’t been any time or money for much else. Family trips to the pool have been slim. Family vacations have been non-existent.

Our family van, which had been faithfully limping along for months, finally met its end shortly after Blaise was born. We are searching out a replacement, pinching our pennies, and making due in the meantime. Have you looked at the price of high-occupancy vans lately? Ouch!

I don’t mention this to complain, but rather to point out the abundance we have been given. Yes, between a vehicle, mounting medical costs, and life in general, things have been tight.

But you know what? No one has complained. Not once. No one has suggested that our family is too big, that maybe a new baby was a crazy thing to do. And I am absolutely certain that if we asked them outright, not one child would regret this little guy. Not one person would suggest that maybe we were better off before.

Because the truth is, we weren’t. Isn’t it funny how you don’t realize what you’re missing until you have it? And then you can’t imagine life any other way? We are all better forever each time we welcome another child to our unruly gang.

Money, time, energy, and stuff are not worth the trade-off. Fancy vacations are boring compared to hearing our little boy laugh. Money seems useless when I step back and watch six older siblings cheer him on as he tries to roll over for the first time. (Still working on it!)

Summer is winding down and the return of the school routine is looming. As I look back on our summer, I am inclined to regret all that we weren’t able to accomplish. The garden that was eaten by weeds and rabbits…the trip up north never happened due to car troubles…the rare, long leisurely days at the pool or the park…so few spontaneous meet ups with friends.

But I’m better served to remember all that we did do and all that we have. Money is tight and only our small vehicle runs, and our sweet baby needs to be in St. Louis every week or so. That was still special time with him, every week when we traveled. Because we could only fit one extra person in the car, we were able to spend special time with one “big” kid each trip. The kids who stayed home had an abundance of time with their cousins, while we were out of town.

We spent long summer days watching our baby grow and change. Older siblings spend afternoons rocking their brother to sleep and playing with him as he learned to giggle at their funny faces. We are still hoping that our Kateri will learn the age-old rule “never wake a sleeping baby!” But it’s hard not to snuggle with him when he looks so peaceful.

In reality, this is probably the best summer we’ve ever had. As our five-year-old likes to remind us, “Aren’t you glad I asked God for a baby?” Yes, dear. We are so, so glad.

 

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Ink Slingers Interviews Products Reviews Sarah

Pycnocline: A Faith-Filled Business

I have been eyeing these gorgeous t-shirts from pycnocline for a while, so when I had the chance to review one and interview Megan, I jumped. Megan was a delight to speak with and her story was quite interesting!

I received two Stella Maris t-shirts in exchange for an honest review. I LOVE the subtle Catholic message of these shirts! One was child-sized and my daughter wears it all the time. She searches through the laundry to find it.

Pycnocline: A Faith-Filled Business

Megan, founder and artist behind pycnocline, is mom to two awesome kids, Catholic convert, and a fish biologist. When she started to stay at home, raising kids, she searched for a creative outlet that honored her science background. Enter bleach dyed tshirts! I just love that her shirt designs reflect both her love of fish AND her love of her faith! In fact, Stella Maris seems to be the most perfect fusion of the two.

Megan has this to say about running her bleached t-shirt business:

I love the process of making my shirts. I get to be structured and organized with my orders and bleaching the shirts- that suits the scientist in me. I also get to create new designs as I feel the itch to create- that suits my creative side.

The t-shirts are great quality and quite durable. My daughter isn’t always easy on clothes and her shirt still looks brand new! I can’t wait to start wearing mine, as soon as my previously pregnant belly goes back to normal.

 

To Megan, one of the most important aspect of her business is an infusion of her faith into every facet. She prays as she designs and prays for customers as she works. I am a huge proponent of supporting small businesses, and if they’re faith filled as well, it’s just icing on the cake.