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Mom So Hard: Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family

Welcome, friends. I am SO thrilled to have you join us for this new series. Through Mom So Hard: Finessing the Intricacies of Your Modern Catholic Family, we will be taking a detailed look at the everyday practicals of the domestic Church – YOUR domestic Church – and help you incorporate time for Jesus, tips, strategies, and even wine and chocolate time – YAS – into your everyday. While the pieces will be largely written from the point-of-view of your average stay-at-home-mom (me!), I will do my best to give advice and tips that Catholic women of all walks of life – working, single, married, moms of large families, moms of small families, etc. – can glean something from the practicals shared.

Um, why you, Martina?

So, who am I and why do I want to write about this kind of stuff? Well, I am Martina and I am the creator of Catholic Sistas, a blog that is centered upon sharing the Faith. You might be wondering why a series like this fits inside the mission of the blog. The short answer is, if you’re at all like me, and not naturally organized or struggle to find some kind of organization and balance in your life, you will appreciate ALL of the mistakes I’ve made over the years. Not that I don’t make mistakes anymore – HA! – but in certain areas of my life, I really let things slide that I should have tackled and made a priority before drowning in children. 😉

Another reason for the series is a small detail that has helped keep this apostolate afloat for the past 7.5 years. As the foundress, and as a team, part of the mission of the blog has been that whatever work we do for the blog does not compromise our primary vocation as wife, and for many of us, as mothers. We respect that life happens and writers need to step back and take care of the home front – and that spiritual work ethic has lent itself toward, I believe, writing that really strikes at the core of who we are as women and mothers. It’s hard to do the things you love well when your house is “on fire”, so to speak.

At the heart of the matter

A friend and I were chatting on Facebook a few months ago and we got to talking about garage space. I was SO excited to share my newest ideas that I did a quick video and uploaded it to our chat. She was like you HAVE to write more about how you do things. Moms like me need that, she said. Moms like her being that she is a young momma in her early 30s and apparently my old, battle-scarred self might just have something of use to offer other mommas like her – and maybe you, too? 🙂

So, what makes me even qualified to speak on the matter beyond being old and learning from mistakes? I don’t really know, but maybe because I resisted the idea of being organized for many many years, insisting that I could just hobble on by with my rag tag ideas. The truth is, my methods (which were, duh, disorganized) caused a greater stress than actually coming up with a system and sticking with it. But…it’s amazing what desperation, necessity, and a little ingenuity can lead to…and now I look at my children and see the fruits of being able to gradually implement some systems that work in our large family. I’ve come to realize that my greatest stress was a result of persisting in disorganization. And maybe that’s you, too.

It starts with a witness

In my first post, I will share my story – what prompted my way of thinking in 2002, and how I manage our family of nine these days.

You might just be thinking to yourself, yeah that’s nice, but right now while I’m trying to read this for like the fifth time, my toddler is busying himself dumping flour out all over the place and my other kids are crawling the countertops and smearing peanut butter all over each other. HOW is something like this series supposed to stop the madness in my house?

Look, I get it. I really do. We’re going to cover feasible solutions that you can apply to your life and it will be a gradual process for some of you and others, it will be like a light switch. The series will be geared toward shifting a mindset towards a greater sense of peace in your home which, in turn, will lead to reducing stressors and more time to really glorify God in those mundane chores that everyone seems to have, whether you work outside the home or not.

So, I’m going to turn things over to my lovely co-conspirator in this series, Lisa Canning of Blueprints for a Beautiful Life who specializes in time management strategies for the busy momma. And aren’t we all busy? She  and I will be taking turns tackling various topics that will take your home from cray to ahhhh, from chaotic to peaceful, from scattered to intentionally prayerful.


I’m Lisa and for the last eleven years I have balanced running my interior design business and raising small children – we have now been blessed with seven kids!

Before I became a mom, I had many preconceived notions of what being open to a large family was going to be like, and what life with lots of kids was going to be like. I thought raising a family meant that I was giving up on my personal goals and dreams, or any form of a career, and that there was just no way the pursuit of both was possible.

And what God has shown me, is that when we trust Him, and we trust that He has the BEST plans for our life, that pretty incredible things can happen. We just have to be open to what He has to say, and walk forward in faith even when it seems impossible.

I bring to this series my experience of working both outside and inside of the home, the juggle and struggle that comes with pursuing career excellence and home excellence, and how I finally figured out that time management isn’t really dictated by a clock, but by a correct ordering of your true priorities.

Amy M. Ink Slingers

Planning for the Unexpected

Plan for the Unexpected

“Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’” -Luke 9:62

           As we enter the second week of 2017, I am finding I’m having trouble getting myself into the present.  I’m stuck looking back at 2016.  It was a year of medical problems for our family.  We had four different people in the hospital, two surgeries, two broken bones (different children).  It was a year full of physical therapy for our oldest as he tried to recover, then prepare for surgery, then heal from surgery, and recover once more.  And it was also a year of great joy as we welcomed our youngest in May.
            Two of the hospitalizations were planned (the birth of our daughter).  One of the two surgeries was scheduled months ahead, and we were well-prepared to deal with the recovery process it involved (our son’s surgery).  The other surgery seemed to come out of nowhere.  My husband became sick, was admitted, and had surgery within 48 hours.  It was a whirlwind.
            The preparation for the first surgery didn’t make it less scary than the second.  One way wasn’t better than the other, in my opinion.  We called on faith and prayers in both situations.  I can’t say I felt God’s presence more in one surgery than the other.  He was there in both, in the people helping us with our other children and in the peace that only He can give in our hearts.
            Four years ago, my husband lost his mom the day after Thanksgiving.  She had been in the hospital for over a month and had been sick for many years.  When she passed away, he was at her side.  It was sad, and we miss her.  However, we felt she was at peace.
            Six weeks later, on the feast of the Epiphany, we returned home from church to a phone call from a local police department.  They had been called to do a well-check on my husband’s aunt.  She had died suddenly overnight.  His mom and aunt were twins, but his aunt seemed to be in much better health.  We didn’t expect that phone call at all, and the grieving process was much different.
            As 2016 drew to a close, we lost our two furry pets.  Our cat was 18, and we were seeing signs of decline, so we tried to prepare ourselves.  Then, Christmas night our younger dog started acting sick.  By the middle of the night, we were aware that it was serious.  We started to get dressed to take him to the emergency vet, but he died before we left the house.  We were devastated.  Less than a week later, our cat passed away.Planning for the Unexpected
            In each of these situations, there was a planned and an unexpected.  Looking back at each, preparing and planning helped, but no amount of control would make it easier.
            The more life throws at me, the more I try to control my circumstances.  I need to do x, y, and z by a certain time in order to consider the day “successful.”  Pulling in tighter, circling the wagons, so to speak, doesn’t help build trust, increase faith.  Knowing my son was going to have surgery and six extra months of physical therapy didn’t guarantee he would be ok.  He is still relearning how to run, waiting to be able to jump, only halfway through his therapy time.  My husband’s surgery happened before I could worry about it or try to control the outcome.  He needed surgery and needed it now.  It wasn’t a time for debate.  It was in God’s hands from the beginning.
            Losing our pets so close together brought back a lot of the time when we lost my husband’s mom and aunt so close together and also at the holidays.  I feel like I’m getting somewhat lost in the past, dwelling on what has happened and how it affected us.  How can we control situations better in the future?  How can we keep ourselves and those we love from being hurt?
            Dwelling on the past isn’t what Jesus wants for me, for us.  He wants us to go forward, living each day for Him and in His will for our lives, striving to be with Him one day in heaven.  That day may be years from now and expected or may come suddenly.  It’s up to us to be ready for the unknown, not by guessing what could happen but by trusting in the One who knows how everything turns out and only wants the best for us.
            At the beginning of 2016, the events and situations in which we found ourselves as the year unfolded had never crossed our radar.  As much as we planned and thought about the future, these things still caught us off-guard.  Yet God was still there in our midst.  He was still the Guiding Light.  We needed to stay in His shadow and let Him navigate us through the storms.  Once we let go of the helm and let Him take over, He will shelter us in the rain.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” -Jeremiah 29:11

Easter Ink Slingers Liturgical Year Mindy Spiritual Growth

Is It Still Easter?

Easter checklist

Lent appeals to my checklist-loving, accomplishment-coveting brain.

Especially as the mother to many young children, “finishing something” is rare. Completing the steps of Lent may be the only way I can savor that experience in any tangible way.

Not that that is what Lent is about. No, Lent sometimes happens in such a way that it prevents us from engaging in that kind of formulaic practice. God arranges that for us so that we can be jostled out of our predictable patterns and find new ways to exist as Christians.

This year, I managed to say “yes” to my children’s request to play indoor soccer with our local Christian league. Every game during Lent fell on a Friday. Sigh. Just another year saying, “Next year, I will do things differently.” More awareness. More mindfulness. More boundaries.

Fast forward to Easter, and it is zooming right along. We have much to do as the school year comes to a close. It is easy to forget that Easter continues, whether we celebrate or not.

How are we intentionally planning this time so that we pause, rest, and celebrate the Risen Lord Who saves us? I’m going to ponder this today.

For example:

When children are upset, I’m going to make sure I remind them about Jesus, and share with them some JOY.

When a piece of our seemingly never-ending supply of candy wanders across my path, I’m going to savor it for the moment, enjoying its sweetness and then picking up my Bible instead of a second piece.

I’m going to choose at least a few hours where my phone is not within arm’s reach. No illusions that I can keep it tucked away all day–as I mentioned earlier, there is a lot going on, and communication channels splash like salmon streams, about all sorts of things. But I can step out of the stream for at least a little awhile.

Let us remember: it’s still Easter.

Christ is risen! Indeed, He is risen!

Now, on a humorous note, I managed to collect this montage of photos of my 9 month old daughter who mostly eschews solids–at least, until she found this Cadbury egg. Imagine her excitement when she was able to discretely devour this yumminess! My son found her, took away the foil pieces, and then let me know what was happening so I could delight in her discovery of naughty food.

Cadbury 1Cadbury 2Cadbury 3Cadbury 4Cadbury 5