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Annette Domestic Church Faith Formation Ink Slingers Motherhood Vocations

Sanctifying the Ordinary

Sanctifying the Ordinary

I have been changing diapers for the last 14 years of my life- a task that I first approached with a mix of apprehension and excitement as a new mom. It wasn’t long though before it evolved into a task I often dreaded, and I’m not ashamed to admit I sometimes begged my husband to complete for me. It always seemed that the baby in question would need changing at the most inopportune moments – when I was about to leave to work, in the middle of Mass, while I was helping an older sibling with homework, and it sometimes involved me changing outfits as I was heading out the door, or changing the baby again after I had already done so. It was a task that, I’m ashamed to admit, I would fulfill begrudgingly, because I had to, because I was the mom. There seemed to be no end in sight. I have five children, and right when one was getting out of diapers, another baby was arriving.

A priest once told me that there is sanctity in our ordinariness. God calls us to holiness right where we are, even in the midst of changing diapers. Going about my daily duties as a mother gave me a myriad of opportunities to serve the Body of Christ, beginning with my family. I had never really realized how all the “chores” I have to do on a daily basis serve a higher purpose. Every day, God gives me the opportunity to perform the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. I feed the hungry and give drink to the thirsty, several times a day, sometimes all day with so many kids in the house. I instruct the ignorant as I homeschool my children and help them understand what happens in the world. I counsel the doubtful when I answer their questions or boost their confidence. I admonish sinners when I warn them about the consequences of their actions. I attempt to bear wrongs patiently, something that is often challenging for me. I forgive offenses willingly and comfort the afflicted every time that I break up an argument and deal with the “he did this, and he did that.” We pray together as a family, for each other, for our world, for our friends and relatives, for our leaders, for the living and the dead.

Tasks Can Transform Us

Changing diapers, a task I loathe, is a task that has the power to transform me, to strengthen my spiritual journey. St. Therese of Lisieux reminds me of this. In her autobiography, The Story of a Soul, St. Therese details how she regularly performed tasks that she did not necessarily enjoy, like peeling potatoes or doing laundry while another Sister splashed dirty water on her. Instead of complaining or acting annoyed, like I sometimes do, St. Therese would thank God and embrace the “treasure” that God had bestowed on her. My vocations as a wife and mother, and all the sacrifices and tasks that they entail, are truly treasures God has given me. They are my road to sanctity, and through the little everyday challenges, I have the opportunity to grow closer to our Lord and experience the joy that comes from fulfilling God’s will. I begin my day with this Morning Prayer written by St. Therese:

Morning Prayer by St. Therese of Lisieux

O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the
Sacred Heart of Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest
works, by uniting them to Its infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting
them into the furnace of Its Merciful Love.

O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly
Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may
one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.
Amen.

Sometimes it’s easy to believe the lie that you have to do something extraordinary to serve God or become a saint. Jesus reminds us in Matthew 25:40 that “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Every diaper I change, every right I wrong, every mouth I feed, every tear I wipe is a chance to serve Jesus. What a different attitude I would serve my family with if I remembered His words. For now, I’ll welcome every opportunity that God gives me to serve, whether it be in little ways or big ways, and pray that the Holy Spirit may guide me in finding joy in all things.

Categories
Ink Slingers Michelle Spiritual Growth

15 Quotes to Bring Hope During Troubled Times

Have you ever felt completely hopeless? Have you ever felt that the trouble you face is just too much? I think if we are honest each of us would say that we have felt this way at least once or twice.

We know that we have hope in God and that He is always beside us, so why do we despair?

I think that often the noise of our lives drowns out God’s gentle, quiet voice and we find ourselves unable to hear Him. It is then that we begin to feel hopeless. It is then that we question if God loves us. It is then that we wonder where in the world He is.

Recently my family and I began a service project called Mission to Inspire {you can read about it here}.  We decided that there were many people in our community who were suffering and we wanted to bring them hope and peace. Without saying a word to those who would pass us, we stood quietly holding signs of encouragement and smiling at those who read our signs. It was a wonderful experience that we plan to do again.

What is ironic to me is that while I can clearly see to help others and to uplift them, often I can’t see past my own pain and my own worries. I think that God does this for us so that we will trust and rely on others too. If I could solve all my own problems I would never need God or need anyone else. Instead, I believe He allows our struggles so that we will draw closer to Him and to the people He puts in our lives to help us- and He always puts the right people in our lives at the right time, we simply have to open our eyes to recognize His handiwork and be humble enough to accept it!

Perhaps you are struggling today. Maybe you don’t know where to go or what to do; maybe you feel alone and overwhelmed. If you are, I hope that some of the following quotes will help inspire you, uplift you, and help keep you going. I have stumbled across these at various times when I have been at low points in my life and just needed a little bit of hope to see me through. I pray one will inspire you to keep going, to keep trying, and to trust in God.

“Consider the postage stamp: It secures success by sticking to one thing until it gets there.” –Josh Billings (Don’t give up! You can do it!)

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson (It only takes one small step to create something amazing! Take that first step!)

“Most persons would succeed in small things if they were not troubled with great ambitions.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Don’t worry about what everyone else is good at. Focus on your strengths and go nurture them!)

“There are strange ways of serving God; you sweep a room or turn a sod, and suddenly, to your surprise, you hear the whirr of seraphim, and find you’re under God’s own eyes and building palaces for Him.” –Herman Hagedorn (We serve God in the routine. Everything we do, from sweeping to changing diapers to working our job can and should lead us to Him! It is all worthwhile!)

“All common things- each day’s events, that with the hour begin and end; our pleasures and our discontents, are rounds by which we may ascend.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (All our trials and our successes lead us to God and to Heaven!

“We must never get into the habit of being preoccupied with the future. There is no reason to do so. God is there.” –St. Teresa of Calcutta (Take care of the here and now and stop worrying about a future that we have no control over… God is already there and has it handled for us!)

“The road is narrow. He who wishes to travel it more easily must cast off all things and use the cross as his cane. In other words, he must be truly resolved to suffer willingly for the love of God in all things.” – St. John of the Cross (Your suffering has merit! Join it to Christ’s!)

“Joy is one of the best safeguards against temptation. The devil is a carrier of dust and dirt; he uses every chance to throw what he has at us. A joyful heart knows how to protect herself from such dirt. Jesus can take full possession of our soul only if it surrenders itself joyfully.” –St. Teresa of Calcutta (Don’t let the devil steal your joy! Even in troubles we can be joyful in Christ!)

“God had one son on earth without sin, but never one without suffering.” – St. Augustine (Christ understands your suffering. Give it to Him so that He can carry it for you!)

“Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness are nothing but a sign that you have come so close to Jesus that He can kiss you.” –St. Teresa of Calcutta (Christ is with us in our deepest pain and sorrow! He kisses us on our cheeks and He holds us close to Him.)

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance.” –Psalm 42:5 (God is always with you! Don’t give up hope!)

“For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11 (God loves you and wants good things for you!)

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” -2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 (God will strengthen you! He will bring you comfort and peace!)

“For You are my hope; O Lord God, You are my confidence from my youth.” Psalm 71:5 (God is always there! Put your hope in Him alone!)

“As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, And at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, Yet from my flesh I shall see God.” –Job 19:25-26 (Even in your darkest days God is there beside you! He will never abandon you!)

Do you have a favorite quote or bible verse that has helped you when you are struggling? Please share with us, we’d love to hear it!

Categories
Faith Formation Fatherhood Ink Slingers Martina Mary Motherhood Offering your suffering Prayer

Advent, Momma Mary, and the {Slightly Messy} Art of Offering It Up

As Advent comes to a close, for me it has not been without a fair amount of spiritual introspection and reflection of the Blessed Mother’s final weeks and hours leading up to the Christ Child’s birth. 

A wonderful priest once gave a talk to our parish MOMs group, explaining how the entire world mirrors and embraces Mary’s advent of Jesus’ birth – our wait is somewhat like those final weeks of anticipation – filled with excitement, preparedness, but also a spiritual cleaning of house. In a particular way, the world is in a perpetual state of that third trimester, awaiting the return of Jesus in a way that parallels Mary’s wait. 

Like the body is with impending labor, we know not the day or the hour when He will arrive. 

Two years ago, after six pregnancies and six live births, we lost our first little – Baby Gertie – to miscarriage. We would go on to lose two more littles – January 2015 and again in February 2016 – whom we would name Michael Christopher and Sarah Olivia

Though finding out we were pregnant in May 2016 should have been a joyous occasion, it was met with a considerable deflated family spirit. Deep down, we knew God knew them more than we did and we called on them each evening in our prayers. Perhaps God knew we needed our own family prayer warriors in heaven. Even with our losses, we were quick to share the news and to ask for prayers, regardless of the outcome. I’ll be honest, as we lost one little after another, it became harder to share that news – the excitement turned to cautious reservation and the request for prayers felt more like a mandate from God than a joyous family and Facebook announcement. Yet, here we were – again – letting friends and family know we were expecting – again – and asking for prayers – again. 

My sweet Josie

The toughest pain of losing our littles wasn’t my own, but rather coming home from a doctor’s appointment to see my sweet Josie’s face crumple and the words “we probably don’t get to keep this one, either.” That broke my heart. She was four and five years old when we lost Gertie, Michael, and Sarah. Her little heart had taken on suffering at such a young age and it was hard for her to process why God would call these souls back to Himself. 

Upon hearing her words, I immediately told her that we needed to pray, but it was looking like we might get to see this baby this side of heaven. Her eyes lit up like a little Christmas tree and that was the last I heard her speak about her sadness of the loss of the other littles. 

Each pregnancy milestone was met with the same anticipation we see in Advent. Each blood test for hcg and progesterone, each ultrasound, finding out we were having a girl making our birth order girl, boy, girl, boy, girl, boy, girl {are you laughing? Isn’t God hilarious?!} each doppler check, glucose test, etc. – it was all kept in daily family prayer. Each visit with Dr. K that went well {which was all of them}, I treated myself to some beautiful roses at my favorite wholesale florist down the street.

This was how we broke the news to the kids that we would be welcoming a baby girl.

Each week was one foot in front of the other. 

Each week my anxiety lessened a bit more – until I finally just gave the rest to God. 

Here, You can have this – whatever happens is whatever You will for our family.

My pregnancy, in some ways, has become this strange journey of so much pain, and yet so much gratitude. Each pain is an opportunity to offer it up for someone else – each kick is a reminder that she is alive, each karate kick to my kidneys is a reminder that I am getting close to the end of this pregnancy. 😉 It is with God’s blessing that we pray we will be able to meet her in person and welcome her into our family. We have been waiting in perpetual Advent since 2014 to lavish love on Baby Emmie. 

As I write this, I now turn to you, friends, and ask for your prayer intentions – that I may offer up for you between now and when she is born. 

You see, I am 35 weeks pregnant, have never made it past 38 weeks, and have a history of rapid labors – 3.5 hours was my first and longest labor and they became progressively shorter, #4 was born in the car due to my precipitous labor. #5 and #6 were even shorter labors, both well shy of a half hour of active labor. 

Where most gals can ask for prayer intentions to focus on during labor, my experience is different. Praying for your intentions now and offering up the impending wicked fast labor is my personal twist on offering it up for others. 

It would be my honor to be able to offer up the Braxton Hicks contractions I’ve been having for months now as well as my impending labor for you. 

So, if you would, please comment below with your intentions.

If it’s private, simply put “for a special private intention.”

God knows your intention and your heart, and that is good enough for me.

Sweet Emmaleine Rose, who the tech says looks like our youngest daughter, Josie. We shall soon find out!
Kreitzer kiddos