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.

7 Quick Takes Getting to Know the Ink Slingers Ink Slingers Kerri Rachel M

7 Quick Takes Friday, no. 13

Welcome to 7 Quick Takes, Sistas style! Today, I’d like you to meet Rachel, one of our writers here and a busy mom of five. I hope you enjoy getting to know her through these 7 questions. Feel free to leave a comment to ask her about anything else you want to know about her. And don’t forget to go check out more Quick Takes at Jen’s blog Conversion Diary.


What is your favorite secret indulgence?  Do you have to have a hiding spot in your house for it?

Oh my … I have a lot of indulgences I’m afraid to say. I really, really love Diet Coke, more than any person should love a material item. But my most favorite way to enjoy my beverage of choice, is a freezing cold can of Diet Coke in a steamy hot shower. Yep. Oh, and with a locked door on the bathroom so I can enjoy my luxury in peace. I think a close second would be Funyuns dipped in Tostitos queso dip, but that indulgence isn’t quite as figure flattering as Diet Coke, so it rarely happens these days.


How did you meet your husband?

My husband Eric and I met in our Catholic high school, in 1999. We ran in the same nerdy band kid crowd. We each were best friends with siblings from the same family, so we often saw one another at their house, at play practice, swing choir practice, and so on. Eric’s senior year, and my junior year, we were both in the musical “Little Shop of Horrors”, and we both were eaten by the plant. I guess there’s something about being shoved in a 2 square foot space with a puppeteer that really sets the mood.

After becoming friends during that musical, I got up the courage to ask Eric out on a date. I had free tickets to see ZZ Top and Lynard Skynard, and he said yes. Eric likes to pretend our song is “She’s Got Legs”, but clearly if you are going to pick a song from that concert it has to be “Free Bird”.

We were official the next day, and we’ve been together ever since. I sometimes miss those days, when he’d pick me up in his 1987 Dodge Aires with a bench seat in the front, and we’d discuss endless plans for our future. But I have to say, it’s even more fun to live all of those plans we made at age 16.


What is your favorite hymn?

I love church music, I find it so heartwarming and I am often brought to tears during Mass because of the music. As an adult convert, I became familiar with Catholic Mass music when I took my first teaching job at a Catholic elementary school. A lot of Mass music holds some nostalgia for me because of that job; one song can bring back so many memories. Specifically, “Were You There” never fails to move me. I remember the first time I heard it was during a daily Mass as a teacher. Hearing 500 children sing that song, how could any mother leave with dry eyes, really?


Where is your dream vacation spot?

Well, my husband recently asked me this same question and my reply will be the same here, my dream vacation at the moment is to stay home and send the other six people who live here somewhere! I know that sounds ridiculous, but right now, in the thick of toddlerville, I would just love a quiet day alone in my house. I know I’m supposed to say Rome, or Disney World or something, but I just want to sleep in, clean my house, and read a book on my couch cover to cover, all with no interruptions. Of course I’d be crazy after about four hours of silence, but still, that’s a kind of crazy I think I could handle.


Where do you write and why?

I do not consider myself to be a good writer by any means. In fact, though I was an A student in college, I failed a paper miserably for not understanding symbolism. I’m a pretty black and white kind of person. But, I do enjoy writing. I usually grab my laptop after a quick pick up of the house during nap time, plop down on the couch, and write a post in one go. I find that the Holy Spirit usually gives me an idea while I’m folding laundry, and then I pour out my heart in one quick spurt. Sometimes that works to my benefit, and sometimes I read what I wrote and realize it makes absolutely no sense. My husband is my best critic, and always proofreads everything I write.


Tell us about some unusual things that make you happy?

Here’s my top ten, David Letterman style….

10. Baby feet running on the wood floor
9. A freshly made bed
8. Bean Dip
7. Margaritas and homemade pico de gallo
6. Pictures of me drawn by my children
5. Babywearing
4. Grocery shopping alone with my husband
3. A completely cleared off kitchen counter
2. Anything covered in chocolate
1. Watching my babies sleep on the video monitor


Do you put beans in your chili or not?

Why yes, yes I do, except when I serve it to my southern friends, I call it “The Soup of Northern Aggression” because they have this strange notion that “chili ain’t got no beans.” Not only do I put beans in my chili, but I like to experiment with all different kinds of beans. My favorite chili is Black Bean Lentil Chili with no meat! I also am a lover of white chilis.

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.