Categories
Ink Slingers Martina Mom So Hard Series

9 Ways Two ‘Isms’ can Coexist in Your Large Family: Catholicism and Minimalism

MOM SO HARD Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family

Not Naturally Organized…Naturally

It wasn’t long into our marriage that one of us (uh hem, me) decided that living with clutter and mess wasn’t suitable. Of the two of us, it became like that episode of Everyone Loves Raymond where they leave the suitcase on the stairs at the end of a trip to see just who would take it upstairs. Determined to see who would “cave” first, Debra and Ray both refuse to take the suitcase upstairs, each for their own reasons.

Not that our reasons were anywhere nearly as exciting or sitcom worthy, neither of us were particularly neat people to begin with. Married life both highlighted and compounded this problem, and while I didn’t feel pressured into doing something about it, it definitely came down to my feeling like I’d had “enough” and it was just time to make a change. I couldn’t stand looking at the endless mess due to…if I’m being completely honest here…laziness. I couldn’t pin it on anything other than our collective laziness as the reason why we lived in piles of papers, unpacked boxes, sink filled to the BRIM with dishes, clean dishwasher fully opened and unloaded (it simply became another location in which to pull clean dishes, just like the cabinets and drawers).

The Family Grows – and so do the logistical challenges

As our family grew, so did the challenges of incorporating strategies and ideas that lessened those everyday stresses. It was a lot like shoveling sand against the tide – futile. Add to that, you’ve read over and over again that I’ve said I’m not naturally organized, and you can see how I had all the ingredients for the perfect storm. Over the years, the desire to declutter was always there. What I lacked was vision and focus. Oftentimes, I would sit down to work on a project only to be derailed by hitting a brick wall on what to do next. Frustration often won out and so I would throw my hands up, give up, and walk away. It would take me sometimes years to finish a project – sad, right? The garage became the bane of my existence. After each move, it was filled with all the unpacked boxes and furniture I couldn’t part with. When we downsized, our garage was stuffed so badly, you couldn’t even walk around in it. I had to open the garage and work on boxes from the outside in, that’s how bad it was. By the time I had the first two house garages completed, we moved. One house we lived in seven years, and the other five. I often joked that as soon as the garage was unpacked, it was time to move. 

The Stakes are Finally Raised

Then we decided to move, upsizing our house after downsizing – that’s a whole OTHER post, friends. We moved in the summer and I gave myself ONE YEAR to get that garage in order – the tightest deadline, ever, lol. With our kid count at seven at that time, I had to get to work thinking about needs and how to organize the garage and I got to work.

I know the current secular push is to evaluate what you have and keep what “sparks joy” but for our large family (and maybe yours) it never really touched on sparking joy so much as it came down to sentimentality (within reason) and practicality.

Large families, by our nature, have different needs than a single person, married couple with no kids, and even small families. Add to the mix that we are Catholic, there are things that we will need to have multiples of or hang onto from one kid to another.

I finally told myself there wasn’t a problem with having a lot of something, but it really came down to its use and could it be stored adequately between uses. And that became my foundational rationalization. 

Let’s get right down to it – how do we make this happen?

So, how can Catholicism and…minimalism coexist, especially within large families?

The good news is they aren’t mutually exclusive. The Tiny House infatuation that has taken over America the past few years has highlighted something good about having less that everyone can benefit from. And even large families can benefit from this practice, too!

  1. Implement good cleaning habits. If you aren’t naturally organized, you will probably have to work a bit harder to create inroads to more organization in your family. When I began turning over a new leaf, I looked to Fly Lady for help in not just establishing good cleaning habits, but working through ways to organize. I’ll admit at the time, I only had two children, one in school and a baby at home, but as our family grew, what I learned from Fly Lady became foundational to my success.
  2. Three boxes. When you’ve got a good cleaning schedule in hand, the next step is to assess what you have and decide how to pare down. This is when three boxes come in handy: trash, donate/sell, and keep.
  3. What time of day works best? This helped immensely when it came to starting a decluttering/paring down project. Night owls might find evenings are a good time to work on a room – I’m not a night owl, so I tend to pick a block of time or a weekend and hit it hard in the morning. I rarely work on something all day long, as that just leads to a lot of frustration and overwhelm for myself. I also tend to find a burst of energy the day before trash goes out in making those final decisions on things we don’t need. Sometimes it translates to getting tossed, and other times, it means things are bagged up and put in the van to take to the thrift store. 
  4. Take your bags of donate items to the store NOW. Don’t delay. Don’t be like I was for years, driving my donate bags around town for no good reason other than just…laziness, lol. I think the record for me was something ridiculous like four months of bagged donate items in the back of the car. Never again. We have three thrift stores within a handful of minutes around, two of which within spitting distance (there’s my East Texas popping through, y’all!) of the grocery store, so no real reason not to stop by and drop those bags OFF!
  5. Take inventory of the items you DO need to keep multiples of or store for a time. Because we are large families, there WILL BE certain things you accumulate and with good reason. This varies from family to family. I’m not going to tell you to ditch X – because if I do that, and it’s something you may actually truly need, that doesn’t work. What I am saying is think it through, decide if the need is sentimental or practical, and decide where and how you will store said items. If you have the space and proper storage bins, those are things that can help factor into keeping items your family will use again. In our home, we keep shoes and clothes stored, and a lot of them! They are all stored in bins in the attic. Because our birth order alternates, we tend to hang on to clothes for a while. This has always been a practical need for our family, but that might not work for other families. Additionally, keeping garments for sacraments from one child to another is a practical need. Minimalism for large families should leave room for items we know we’ll need down the road. Plus, sentimentalism has value I’ve found isn’t worth tossing. 
  6. Toys. We have large families. I get it. Keeping toys out or easily accessible doesn’t always jive with the feel of minimalism, but there are some clever ways to tackle that. Tuck toys behind the doors of small or large furniture. Some other ideas can include a cabinet, drawers, or even a coffee table with drawers for specific toys. Barring that, if you have the space and the ability to set this up, you can peruse Marketplace on Facebook for some fabulous steals for storage. We have two locked closets in our house, one for school supplies (our former homeschool closet) and a game closet. Inside each, I was able to find two 2×4 Expedits for a steal from a local person who was moving. I have one shelf unit in each closet, and in the game closet, it contains baskets filled with sorted toys. Keeping the toys locked helps us decide when we rotate toys through and keeps the kids excited when new toys come out to play!
  7. Clothes. To keep clothes from getting out of hand, we keep bins in the kids’ closets to toss clothes that don’t fit as they grow out of them. Once in a while, we empty it, and decide what will be stored for the next kiddo, donate it to friends or the thrift store or just trash it if it’s too far gone!
  8. Books. I am a HUGE fan of books and it’s one of the few things we do not part with unless they are beyond repair. That said, you can always pare down on religious books and bless others in your community if you have an overabundance like I might – uh hem. Consider joining a local Catholic group on Facebook or elsewhere that you can both request books as needs arise as well as find takers on your overflow book stash.
  9. Rosaries, sacramentals, and consecrated material. This is one area in particular that I won’t tell people to pare down unless you have good reason. Rosaries, sacramentals and consecrated materials tend to tell a story: given by a loved one or picked up on a special trip, they should have a loving place in the home. Sacramentals that are plastic or have no sentimentality to it can be gifted to someone in need. If they are blessed, broken, and beyond repair, please please please properly dispose of the sacramentals. This includes any books that have been blessed as well. To read more on how to properly dispose of these sacred items, visit this site for more information.

As you can see, having a large family doesn’t mean you have to own all. the. things. We don’t have to be drowning in things because we think our large family requires it. The emphasis here is on active and ongoing discernment of balance in the family. There will be seasons when you will need more of X and guess what? That is TOTALLY fine! As long as the active discernment is in play, you will be able to assess your family’s needs and adjust accordingly. 

What works today, may not work tomorrow for the family. And you know what, friend? That also is totally OK. 


Thank you for reading this installment in the series MOM SO HARD – FINESSING THE INTRICACIES OF YOUR MODERN CATHOLIC FAMILY. This series is focused on taking a look at the Faith through the lens of being a Catholic mom. Using a spiritual foundation as our starting point, we walk with you and share candid and practical elements that make up our days. We will look at primary spiritual elements, recognizing that without God, nothing is possible. How do we start our day? How do we end our day? If God does not bookend our days (at a minimum), we can start to see how feeling overwhelmed or worse can creep into our day. Even the most mundane of chores and activities can be done to glorify God. 

 

9 Ways Two Isms can Coexist in Your Large Family

 

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Lisa Canning Mom So Hard Series

How Do You Fit in Time For Prayer?

MOM SO HARD Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family

Welcome to this installment in the series MOM SO HARD – FINESSING THE INTRICACIES OF YOUR MODERN CATHOLIC FAMILY, a series focused on taking a look at the Faith through the lens of being a Catholic mom. This series is going to–using a spiritual foundation as our starting point–walk with you and share candid and practical elements that make up our days. We will look at primary spiritual elements, recognizing that without God, nothing is possible. How do we start our day? How do we end our day? If God does not bookend our days (at a minimum), we can start to see how feeling overwhelmed or worse can creep into our day. Even the most mundane of chores and activities can be done to glorify God. So, grab some coffee, a notebook, and a pen, and let’s get started, shall we?


When I first became a mom, I wanted everything to be “perfect”. I wanted the perfect nursery, I wanted the perfect baby, I wanted this image of a perfect family I had pictured in my head!

And I wanted my prayer life to be perfect as well.

Before I had kids, I was a fairly scheduled person. I certainly struggled with maintaining good habits, but I managed to pray the rosary with daily regularity and enjoyed quiet, meditative prayer time by myself every morning.

And I thought that having a baby would not impact my prayer time in the least.

Instead, as a first-time, sleep deprived mom, my prayer life looked very different! I would fall asleep by the first mystery of the rosary. Waking up early for any kind of mental prayer would instead be met by me setting snooze on the alarm! Or on the mornings the baby did not have me up at every hour the night before, and I was able to get out of bed, I would again, fall asleep within one passage of my spiritual reading.

Peaceful prayer time seemed to be a distant memory, something unachievable in my new state of life.

And instead of changing my approach, or changing my schedule, I more often than not gave up on prayer completely.

But what I wish I could have told my younger self, now with seven kids later, is that prayer as a mom doesn’t have to be perfect. And while it might look different that it did when you were single, it doesn’t mean it’s less valuable, less essential, or less impactful on you and your relationship with God.

Here are the things I wish I could have told my younger mom self (and still need to remind myself of today in the midst of raising seven kids!) in regards to fitting a prayer life in the busy demands of mom life.

1. PRAYER GIVES MORE THAN IT TAKES

I know it can seem like an impossible task, and another thing to add to a list of things to do, but prayer really is something that gives more than the energy required to do so. Showing up for God, investing in a relationship with Him, and allowing Him to show His love for you is essential for a busy mom. I challenge you to see how much it can fill you up when you commit to it regularly.

2. PRAYER ANSWERS A NEED IN YOUR HEART

I don’t know about you, but sometimes motherhood makes me feel desperate- desperate for more peace, desperate for more quiet, desperate for more understanding. Prayer can provide these things and then some. When we tell our needs to God He always shows up (even if we don’t think He has).

3. PRAYER BENEFITS OUR KIDS

If we want our kids to know and love God, we need to know Him ourselves. I think prayer helps us not only to model the kind of behaviour we want to see in our kids, but it also allows us to speak the language of love and intimacy, and explain to our children they can have this with our Father in Heaven.

4. PRAYER ESTABLISHES OUR LEGACY

If you want to be remembered as someone who loved God and our Catholic Church, prayer is an important practice in this. I think it’s important to note too how much the saints talked about prayer in their writings.

5. PRAYER CAN HAPPEN ANYTIME, ANYWHERE

This is the biggest one. I used to think prayer had to be such a “perfect performance”. But I realized through the help of my spiritual director how flawed my thinking was. Prayer can happen while you change a diaper. Prayer can happen while you wash the dishes. Prayer can happen while you are on the floor wiping up spilled milk. There is a regular schedule to motherhood in a way, like when babies nap, or kids eat, or kids need to be picked up from school, where prayer can be woven into the course of a day. Can you pray your rosary on a walk after dropping off your kids at a program? Or can you read your Bible while you nurse your infant? The key here is to look for the natural opportunities of recollection that can exist within the flurry of motherhood, and to grasp them and use them to nurture our relationship with Christ.

6. PRAYER CAN BE PRIORITIZED

Just like any other important activity in life, prayer can be something you prioritize. The same way that you would show up for a child’s sporting game, or you would show up on time for a client appointment, you can show up for prayer.

In my own life, juggling a business and seven children, what this looks like for me is visiting my local Blessed Sacrament chapel everyday after dropping my school aged kids at school for a short visit before returning back home. I choose to use the time I have childcare for this activity so I can truly have a few moments of focused prayer.

The benefits have been immeasurable. I now cannot believe there was a time I lived without this habit. And while it requires modifications to my calendar and I have to fit other things around this commitment, it is a commitment I believe is worth prioritizing.


REFLECT

Let’s dig deeper. Did this post resonate with you? If so, please continue on below and consider starting a journal to jot down your answers. PRINT several copies of these questions to start your own journal based on different posts. 

  1. Do you recall a time in your life when you leaned in on rote prayer?
  2. How did that particular prayer help your life?
  3. What is one area of your life in which you feel you are managing with great success right now?
  4. What is one area of your life in which you feel you need to improve? (prayer life, domestic chores, parenting, marriage-if applicable, etc.)
  5. Where in the natural rhythm of raising children could you find natural times for prayer?
  6. What would need to be made possible in your life to get some independent time to pray?

RESOURCES

CATHOLIC PLANNERDAYBOOK – “It’s the best first step you’ll take towards organizing a better tomorrow.” Martina Kreitzer, foundress of Catholic Sistas

BOOK – THE POSSIBILITY MOM: HOW TO BE A GREAT MOM AND PURSUE YOUR DREAMS AT THE SAME TIME RIGHT NOW! by LISA CANNING

How Do You Fit in Time for Prayer?

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Martina Mom So Hard Series

The Beauty of Rote Prayer and a Good Planner

MOM SO HARD Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family

Welcome to this installment in the series MOM SO HARD – FINESSING THE INTRICACIES OF YOUR MODERN CATHOLIC FAMILY, a series focused on taking a look at the Faith through the lens of being a Catholic mom. This series is going to–using a spiritual foundation as our starting point–walk with you and share candid and practical elements that make up our days. We will look at primary spiritual elements, recognizing that without God, nothing is possible. How do we start our day? How do we end our day? If God does not bookend our days (at a minimum), we can start to see how feeling overwhelmed or worse can creep into our day. Even the most mundane of chores and activities can be done to glorify God. So, grab some coffee, a notebook, and a pen, and let’s get started, shall we?


One summer, a local single teacher friend and I decided to go sit in on a local campaign by area non-Catholic churches to evangelize and witness to others. The idea was – through video clips and conversation starting questions – to get people talking more about Jesus and living a life of discipleship.

These programs were strategically held in homes in various neighborhoods, and we thought it would be a fun idea to sit in and talk and weave Catholicism into the conversations in meaningful ways. We were both very drawn to the apologetics side of Catholicism at the time and looked forward to hearing people’s questions about Catholicism. Having grown up in rural East Texas myself (in the heart of the Pineywoods!), I was pretty good friends–and still am to this day–with Baptists, Evangelicals, and Fundamentalists. Sometimes all three of those are the same thing, lol! I have heard all the typical stereotypes and misunderstandings about the Faith over the year.

One evening in the series at a neighbor’s home, the subject of prayer came up.

Rote prayers often tend to be seen as a Catholic-only thing among non-Catholic Christians. My friend went on to give a beautiful example of why rote prayers were so necessary and helpful, using a personal experience of her own to illustrate its purpose. I left there with a different take on rote prayer. Side note: The purpose of rote prayer isn’t the prayer itself, but rather, the intention of our will toward God.

What had she said that made me think differently?

Well, she called attention to a specific time in her life when prayer was hard. Ok, I can relate to that. Praying off the cuff had always been easy for her, but this difficult time made it hard for the words of prayer–adoration, contrition, petition, thanksgiving–to flow. It was then she realized the beauty and spiritual purpose of rote prayer.

After a long day of teaching, her mind wasn’t always 100%. And with health complications, it became easy to see how rote prayers became a staple of her prayer life. I wouldn’t really be able to relate to this until our own family suffered a series of crises. Spurred on by three consecutive miscarriages, extreme financial challenges, and hospital stays – my own being an emergency appendectomy – family life suddenly became extremely difficult. Things that seemed easy for everyone else to navigate were just compounded. Would things ever get better?

Soon, rote prayer became my friend. My husband and I were never far from a good St. Joseph novena. On and off over the years, we had often called on the Good Saint for his help, from selling homes, to work-related endeavors, our marriage, and our family. I joke now with friends that God broke our family so that we could be rebuilt in that time. Looking back, I see how He used those misfortunes to draw us closer to Him. And it was at that time when I really leaned into those rote prayers. Novenas became my staple. I loved how the daily prayers called to mind an imagery of Christ’s life and I felt a deep connection with God during an otherwise very spiritually dry time.

It was during this time that I contemplated walking away from creating the planners I had started in the summer of 2014. Life was too hard. There I was just days after my own appendectomy surgery in 2015 with my fresh stitches and stretchy yoga pants on, watching Fixer Upper when it was brand new and lamenting the endless storms that wouldn’t stop reminding me how depressing my life really was. And like a wild hair, I decided I was not going to give up on my planner. That others needed that tool – and gosh doggit – so did I! I let the remnant of pity run its course and then I got to work, friend.

I. ?Got. ? To. ? Work. ?

No more excuses.

I set out to put the planner together in record time, and in 10 short days I had created the new edition of the planner and got it ready to sell. The profit from that decision to move forward with selling the PDF version was enough to cover the expenses to FINALLY sell hard copies – the first of many of my goals for the planner was finally realized. ?

So, while I have never really publicly advertised the hardships our family endured, don’t for a moment think that I can’t relate in some small way or that I can’t empathize. I have a huge heart for my customers. For the people who understand that Catholic Sistas is not a business, not meant for selling products. Because you know I created a product that I believe 100% will help YOU. Because it first helped me. Because I was so dang picky about what my Catholic planner needed. Because I am constantly searching and seeking for way to improve it until it is 100% where it needs to be to function best for you…for me. And if you can’t afford one? You email me and I will get you a FREE downloadable version of DAYBOOK. That’s how much I believe in this planner and how much I know it will bless your everyday. It has been my great honor and pleasure to share it with folks in need, stateside and international.

For me, DAYBOOK functioned in a way that offered me the assistance that rote prayer did. It helped me plan and function at times when I truly couldn’t on my own. I found the planner to be a source of relief. Why? Because life goes on and things still needed to get done-even when things are at their hardest. Can I get an amen?

You want to know a funny fact? God has never, and I repeat NEVER, let me forget about rainy days. EVERY SCHEDULED PICK UP from the printer it has ALWAYS rained. As I write this, I am about to pick up the largest order of planners to date and guess what? The forecast for the past two weeks and continues to be forecasted the next 1.5 weeks is…? Yep. Rain. God, You so funny.


REFLECT

Let’s dig deeper. Did this post resonate with you? If so, please continue on below and consider starting a journal to jot down your answers. PRINT several copies of these questions to start your own journal based on different posts. 

  1. Do you recall a time in your life when you leaned in on rote prayer?
  2. How did that particular prayer help your life?
  3. What is one area of your life in which you feel you are managing with great success right now?
  4. What is one area of your life in which you feel you need to improve? (prayer life, domestic chores, parenting, marriage-if applicable, etc.)
  5. Where in the natural rhythm of raising children could you find natural times for prayer?
  6. What would need to be made possible in your life to get some independent time to pray?

RESOURCES

CATHOLIC PLANNERDAYBOOK – “It’s the best first step you’ll take towards organizing a better tomorrow.” Martina Kreitzer, foundress of Catholic Sistas

BOOK – THE POSSIBILITY MOM: HOW TO BE A GREAT MOM AND PURSUE YOUR DREAMS AT THE SAME TIME RIGHT NOW! by LISA CANNING

 

The Beauty of Rote Prayer and a Good Planner

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Lisa Canning Mom So Hard Series

What if it Didn’t Have to be so Hard?

Welcome to this installment in the series MOM SO HARD – FINESSING THE INTRICACIES OF YOUR MODERN CATHOLIC FAMILY, a series focused on taking a look at the Faith through the lens of being a Catholic mom. This series is going to–using a spiritual foundation as our starting point–walk with you and share candid and practical elements that make up our days. We will look at primary spiritual elements, recognizing that without God, nothing is possible. How do we start our day? How do we end our day? If God does not bookend our days (at a minimum), we can start to see how feeling overwhelmed or worse can creep into our day. Even the most mundane of chores and activities can be done to glorify God. So, grab some coffee, a notebook, and a pen, and let’s get started, shall we?


For the first five years of my motherhood journey, I felt like I did not belong. 

We were married young, with no savings, and I had just launched my interior design business when we had our first child. We had no available income for childcare, but more importantly I wanted my baby near me. I wanted to be his primary caregiver. I wanted to embrace the vocation of motherhood full on.

But at the same time, I also had a passion for my work. Just two years before having our son John, I hosted a show on HGTV that launched my interior design and television career. I saw before me enticing opportunities I could have never imagined for my life. And while no one said it this harshly, it was definitely implied that it would be more convenient for everyone else if I waited to start a family.

So I found myself, at the age of 25, with one foot firmly in the stay-at-home mom camp, and one foot firmly in the working mom camp. I had some friends telling me my place was at home, and at home is where I should stay. And then I had some friends saying I could have it all, and what was the harm in working. And I felt so much tension, feeling like I didn’t fully belong to either camp. 

So as a result, I worked hard to prove to both groups that I could do it. I wanted to show the stay-at-home moms that I was still a present wife, mom, and homemaker! Look how cute my son looks on my hip while I shop for fabric samples- he’s like my assistant! And to the working moms, I wanted to prove that I could still be successful, that I was crushing it at work, that I could juggle kids and work without missing a beat.

I was able to keep up the juggling charade for a few years, but it got more and more intense. As my career grew, so did my family size. By the time I was 30, I had 4 children ages 5 and under.

And I was exhausted.

It all came to a massive implosion on a snowy November day. A light dusting of snow had fallen in my hometown of Toronto, making everything look so peaceful and pristine outside. And it was in such stark contrast to how messy the inside of my minivan was. My passenger seat was full of interior design samples, the floor of my car was littered with goldfish crackers, empty water bottles, forgotten sippy cups. I had an overflowing bag of diapers, wipes and onesies, and way in the back I had my less than a week-old newborn daughter Rose, and I was bringing her into a messy construction site because I had put so much pressure on myself to show up for work. 

And it hit me that day as I stared at the mess and chaos around me, and realized that my priorities were as messy as my minivan.

That was the day I said no more. That was the day I said there had to be another way. That was the day I finally wholeheartedly invited God into my plans, and let Him show me how to use my gifts in appropriate ways, at the appropriate times. That was the day I became obsessed with figuring out a way that I could be a great wife and mom, but also pursue my dreams at the same time. 

I had become so reliant on what my achievements said about my identity and self worth, that I was blind to what this pursuit of success was doing to the people who mattered most to me, the souls I had been entrusted with to nurture, support, and bring closer to God.

It is so difficult to hear God when you are so consumed by achievement. He had been speaking to me throughout the chaos but I was reluctant to listen.

But slowly, things started to change. I changed my business drastically. I made sure my family knew they were a priority by ensuring I made space for them in my calendar. I showed up for my prayer life like I would show up for a client. I showed up for my marriage like I would show up for a live tv spot. It was a long and winding road of unlearning past habits and developing new ones, and trusting God even when it felt hard. But now ten years into my motherhood career, and seven gorgeous kids later, I am happy to report there truly is another way. What God revealed to me in the mess of my minivan and so many other messy motherhood moments, is that His plan is always so much better than my own.

Here is what I know to be true: God did not give us dreams so we could feel guilty for having them. This was the lie I believed for many years- that I was somehow wired wrong as a Catholic mom for having a desire to use my gifts outside of the home. What God revealed to me in my years post my “minivan meltdown”, was that with strategic time management, delegation and a clear sense of your priorities, you can be a great mom and pursue the dreams He has for you for you at the same.

But at the same time, this pursuit requires surrender and sacrifice. During certain seasons, it might be possible for a mom to dedicate time to a dream for several hours a day. During other seasons, dream chasing might only occur in short 15-minute sprints in between diaper changes. What’s also important to remember is that raising kids is one of the most important achievements of all. And while sometimes, it might not feel like you are “doing anything”, or no one sees the work you are doing, our Father in Heaven sees it, and the people who need it most, see it. God’s timing is perfect- and although we may have strong desires, His timing is the very best timing, and we need to have the docility to listen to His voice and go where He needs us. 

 
Lisa Canning is a parenting, lifestyle and interior design expert in Toronto, Canada where she lives with her husband Josh and her seven children. You can pre-order her first book, The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams at the Same Time right now!

REFLECT

Let’s dig deeper. Did this post resonate with you? If so, please continue on below and consider starting a journal to jot down your answers. PRINT several copies of these questions to start your own journal based on different posts. 

  1. What was my spiritual life like before getting married?
  2. What was my spiritual life like before children?
  3. What is my spiritual life like now?
  4. How would I like my spiritual life to be?

RESOURCES

CATHOLIC PLANNER – DAYBOOK – “It’s the best first step you’ll take towards organizing a better tomorrow.” Martina Kreitzer, foundress of Catholic Sistas

BOOK – The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams at the Same Time right now! by Lisa Canning

 

 

Categories
Ink Slingers Martina Mom So Hard Series

It Had to Start Somewhere


Welcome to this installment in the series Mom So Hard – Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family, a series focused on taking a look at the Faith through the lens of being a Catholic mom. This series is going to–using a spiritual foundation as our starting point–walk with you and share candid and practical elements that make up our days. We will look at primary spiritual elements, recognizing that without God, nothing is possible. How do we start our day? How do we end our day? If God does not bookend our days (at a minimum), we can start to see how feeling overwhelmed or worse can creep into our day. Even the most mundane of chores and activities can be done to glorify God. So, grab some coffee, a notebook, and a pen, and let’s get started, shall we?


In thinking about any series for Catholic Sistas over the years, I tend to mull over an idea for weeks, months, and sometimes even years. But mostly it tends towards months, between six months and one year. I call it throwing an idea into the prayer hopper. It might seem like FOREVER before I start something the Holy Spirit needs me to do.

Having a tendency toward frustration at a lack of vision (my own), I started telling the Holy Spirit if He wanted me to do something, He’d have to 1) give me the tools to make something happen and 2) He’d have to literally get me off my bahookus to make something happen.

Welp. There you have it. Long before I sit down to write, often I spend a great deal of time marinating in what I want to say. What message is it that I want to convey to readers? If it were me reading, what did I need to hear or read when I was in my younger momma days?

So, that is my starting point.

And because I am nothing if not a stream of consciousness, I want to talk about two very different things that will end up merging at the end. Ready?

OBSERVATION ONE

Let’s talk about Sandra Lee.

Have you heard of her?

No?

She used to have a show called Semi-Homemade on the Food Network back in the day. I have to tell you, I was seriously intrigued by her style. She didn’t cook food from scratch, necessarily, and she didn’t pop open a pre-made meal from the store and throw it in the oven. She was somewhere in between. She found what worked for her, which was a beautiful mix of taking store-bought foods and adding homemade whatevers to put her own spin on a meal.

And you know what, friend? It WORKED. BLAM-O – instant-ish meal time.

I hadn’t really thought of her in a long while until the other day when I started to think about this post. See…I started to peel back layers of a really BIG onion (with a thousand layers) of bad habits that went back to my childhood when it came to being messy, disorganized, and general mental chaos. It started with Fly Lady in 2002. I was a stay-at-home-mom to two kiddos, one in kindergarten and one toddler who slept like a cat – still does to this day (#lame). We were living in our first home, a townhouse in Northern Virginia and the responsibilities of being the primary in keeping the home started to weigh down heavily upon me. I had bought the lie that the value of my work only resided outside of the home.

My mother-in-law mentioned FlyLady, so I went and visited the website, signed up for the email alerts and poked around the website. The concept that stood out to me: in general was my house didn’t get to be a disaster overnight, and it wouldn’t get clean overnight either. The journey was in the process. The first method that stood out to me specifically was 15 minutes a day in a specific room with a timer and a trash bag and have at it. When the 15 minutes was up, you were done. The second method that has always stuck with me, even 17 years later, is to keep the kitchen sink clean at all times.

Keeping the sink clean at all times seemed to be too daunting in the beginning, but I worked really hard to make that habit stick. I was more determined to break an old habit and create a new and better one for my own mental health. As the years passed, I began to look hard at the source of my stress. Even if I couldn’t exactly “fix it” or dial down the stress in the moment, I knew on some logical level that it was something I could eventually get past. Even more than keeping that sink clean, I worked harder at looking at messes differently. Some days, the same dang mess would stress me to level 10 and the next day, it was seriously ‘meh.’ But…WHY?

If you’re like me and you’ve stared down the barrel of years’ worth of bad habits, now is a good time to look back and see where those habits began. Then, if you’re able, jot down some areas in your home that bring you distress. Let’s start breaking it down, one piece at a time. Like Sandra Lee, let’s start the process of finding generic solutions and marrying it with specific solutions for your home. 

OBSERVATION TWO

St. Therese of Liseux has been a long-time favorite saint in our family. I found a particular affinity for this young and beautiful model of the Faith when I reflected upon her relationship with God – offering all she had, right down to the most mundane and boring activities, to our loving Father. While I would continue to struggle with the value of my work in the home, I knew deep down I would eventually have to discover the roots for those feelings. In the meantime, I would make myself a dutiful student of the Faith, living each day the best way I could, examining my own actions and words each evening, and resolving to do better the next day. Sounds good on paper, huh? 😉 

It wasn’t until a friend was commenting about her own journey that a lightbulb went on for me. She, too, had gone into her marriage somewhat (ok, outright) unhappy with her lot in life. Being at home, taking care of the home, caring for small children is some of the most thankless work around, especially if you are mired in the idea that it must be compared to worldly achievements and accolades. She went on to share her ‘aha’ moment, in which she had a stern talk with herself–asking if she were to be evaluated fairly on her work at home like she would at any paying job or career–how would she fair? Her realization would soon become my own.

I would say honestly it’s felt like being a half-hearted employee who, yes, gets the work done, but was I truly joyful about my state in life? That was the struggle. That was what society had engrained in my head – all my “true value” should be defined by pursuits outside of the home. And it was then that I realized the flawed logic of it all. 

I had taken the first step – I was able to pinpoint the source of my frustration. With God, prayer, patience (yes, I said it), a whole LOT of coffee, and some ingenuity, I knew I could improve my relationship with God, my husband, my own self, and my children. Like Sandra Lee’s approach of homemade this and store-bought that, I knew I’d have to implement some strategies that were given to me and start to cultivate and trust my own gut when it came time to modify those strategies and make them my own. 


REFLECT

Let’s dig deeper. Did this post resonate with you? If so, please continue on below and consider starting a journal to jot down your answers. PRINT several copies of these questions to start your own journal based on different posts. 

  1. What was my spiritual life like before getting married?
  2. What was my spiritual life like before children?
  3. What is my spiritual life like now?
  4. How would I like my spiritual life to be?

RESOURCES

CATHOLIC PLANNERDAYBOOK – “It’s the best first step you’ll take towards organizing a better tomorrow.” Martina Kreitzer, foundress of Catholic Sistas

BOOK – The Possibility Mom: How to be a Great Mom and Pursue Your Dreams at the Same Time right now! by Lisa Canning

It Hard to Start Somewhere