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Ink Slingers

Moving with Little Ones


While I wish this was a post about getting exercise with children, it’s not. (Although maybe someday, I’ll write about that.) For now, I literally mean packing up everything and moving to a new home. And did I mention with an almost three year old and nine month old?

Here, I am going to outline eight practical tips for moving with children.

  1. It seems so obvious, but sometimes we forget to do it when it comes to events that aren’t religious, per say. Entrust your move to St. Joseph and Mother Mary. They had to flee to Egypt right after Jesus was born so they know how to move on a dime. Ask them to take care of the details; to help keep peace during this time and to let God be glorified through it all. Wouldn’t it be amazing if at the end of the move day, you could say, “Wow, God, that was wonderful. Thank you!” Let us ask St. Paul to intercede for us so we can give thanks in everything.
  2. Get movers. We live in an age of DIY and yes, you can rent a UHaul and yes, you can summon family and friends to help you, but having movers eliminates many worries. Especially with little ones because one parent still has to be all hands on deck, so that leaves one parent doing most of the physical work. Moving is exhausting. Parenting little children is exhausting. Get the movers. You can still be cost-efficient by being prepared and have everything packed so you only have to use them for the minimum time.
  3. Make a packing schedule and list, and start earlier than you think you need to. You can start with the non-essentials and do one box a day. As moving day gets closer, check your schedule often so that you stay on track. Sometimes it’s the littlest things that can take the longest––for example, taking down curtains and curtain rods. A seemingly 20-minute project can be an hour plus once you wash the curtains because in taking them down you realize they were quite dusty! Gradual packing is like spiritual life in that we need to be working on it daily as to not be rushing at the end.
  4. Accept help. If family and friends offer to watch your kids so you can pack before or on the move day, say yes. It’s amazing how much you can pack in one hour uninterrupted as opposed to two hours interrupted. If a friend from church wants to help with a couple boxes, let them. Sometimes we try to keep people away when we don’t feel our home is presentable or that we ourselves aren’t presentable, but it’s humbling to let people see us when we’re less than our best. Let go of the pride and let people in.
  5. As you pack things up, think about if you really use it, want it, or need it. Moving is a good opportunity to declutter and simplify. Do you really use that panini press? Is that second hand coffee table really practical with children? Make the time for deciding now, because we think we’ll have more time once we move, but the truth is that we’ll be getting settled and we won’t want to be deciding about our things then. We’ll end up putting them in the attic and dealing with it later. We all know that later could be in 10 years, at which point we’ll donate or discard them. So save the hassle of moving them and the mental space of keeping of them. Only keep the things you use, want or need.
  6. Lower your expectations. Not to get confused with getting rid of expectations altogether, because that’d be chaos! Lowering expectations is about accepting that things won’t go as you planned, but they’ll still go. Frozen meals for a couple nights will be fine. Boxes overflowing into the living spaces add character to the rooms. Running out of clothes because you sold your washer and dryer makes you thankful for the one you’ll have in the new home. Having lower expectations lets you accept the present state with joy even though it might seem disastrous!
  7. Take pictures. This move is part of your family story. In the future you might have more kids who won’t realize you lived in a different home. They’ll want to know what it was like. They’ll want to see what you were doing before they were born. Pictures always serve as a great record-keeper.
  8. Give tasks to your kids. They like to help and they like to be included. Maybe it’s giving them a marker to label a box with their own writing. Or asking them to hold the tape down as you pull it across the box. They like to see the changes happening around them too. Moving is a family effort and there is something for everyone to do (except the babies, of course), but even they can “supervise” from their high chair.

If you’re moving, you probably want this to end here so you can get started on your packing schedule, but I have just one more thing to add. Moving reminds us that we are pilgrims in this life. Our true home is in Heaven. The home we are moving to won’t be perfect, but we’re thankful nonetheless for what God has provided. May our move be an opportunity to reflect on our eternal dwelling place with the Lord. May it stir in us a deeper desire for Heaven and the things of Heaven.

Holy Family of Nazareth, pray for those of us moving.

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Saints Spiritual Growth Stephanie Vocations

Friends in {Really} High Places

When you love good and holy people it makes you want to be like them. Their words and deeds are admirable, they live their lives with such beautiful grace, and their service to the Lord and their neighbors is inspiring. I know some key people in my own life that continue to help shape my own soul as I truck along in my vocation as wife, mother, daughter, friend, etc. When you have the chance to really get to know someone well and can reach a spiritual intimacy with them, then they become critical to your very salvation and can help you become an instrument in the salvations of others as well. One such person has been an invaluable friend and model for holiness since I was 11 years old. She happens to be pretty famous—St. Maria Goretti.

I remember being very enthralled with the lives of the saints as a child and loved to flip through books to see beautiful pictures of these special people and read about their heavenly strength. They captured my imagination and I recall wanting to become saints just like them (I may have been slightly enamored with their fame, too!). Then at age 11, my religion teacher assigned a project where we had to give a presentation on a saint. I think I asked my mom whether there had been a St. Stephanie (my name, how modest) I could learn about to which she replied that there is a young saint named Maria Goretti, which is almost my middle name, Marie.

I struggled through the painful story of her attack and absolutely marveled at her purity, her bravery, and ultimately her supernatural powers of forgiveness. This girl had much to teach a kid like me. So, from then on, I thought about her often, prayed to her at night, and invited her to prayerful dialogue. Very naturally and without thinking (as kids can do so well) I became dear friends with a great saint. I had drawn so closely to her that I felt the kind of possessiveness you can feel toward family or friends, like, she was my saint. She was my Confirmation saint when I was 16, but I allowed myself to drift from her throughout my high school years. 

Fast forward to college and during my very first semester I met my future husband. It’s pretty cliche but I knew I’d marry him. Or, I knew it was likely that if this didn’t work out like I suspected then it would be time for serious discernment (again) regarding religious life. This was my first real relationship and we faced college life and young adulthood together. We determined to remain abstinent until marriage and I can safely say that this. got. tough. To be completely honest, it took a good two or three years into our relationship before I finally became un-oblivious of my own sexuality and it was like, alrighty then, now I get it. Extra graces were required to keep us as pure as possible and I was sort of surprised at how we were able keep up with our promise.

Then at some point it hit me- this is no accident or coincidence. My dear friend St. Maria Goretti had been preparing my heart from childhood and she never left my side. I began to cling to her again as we approached the Sacrament of Marriage and she saw us right on through until we exchanged vows (major props to St. Joseph for protecting my husband—hubby was born on St. Joe’s feast day). What a nice story, right?

Well, I VERY naively thought that our wedding day would be some sort of finish line. In fact, the good fight became even trickier once we became husband and wife and began to practice natural family planning. My weaknesses and temptations are as present as always and St. Maria Goretti is a major aid in my daily struggle for chastity within marriage—yes, that’s a thing!

Her example is the perfect model for me as I navigate my vocation as a Catholic wife and it all started with becoming friends a long time ago. In addition to the aid she’s provided, our friendship inspired me to seek out other saints now that I’m an adult and to get to know them. If they had phones, St. Francis de Sales would be on speed dial. St. Maria taught me that prayers do mean something and that we are never out of the presence of God and all the divine company.

 

Categories
Feast Days Ink Slingers Natalie Novenas Prayer Saints

In Honor of St. Joseph: Our Guide, Our Intercessor, Our Friend

I picked up the phone and heard my sister’s ecstatic voice on the line. “WE HAVE SOMEONE INTERESTED IN THE HOUSE!”  My heart sang and I smiled. I could hardly believe my ears! This was good news, and a very big thank you was owed to St. Joseph.

Going back to the beginning….

My sister Shell and I have been best friends since I was born. She waited patiently for me for 6.5 years and squealed with delight when she found out she had a sister! We loved each other dearly and spent every moment together. Our days were spent playing Barbies, making fairy houses, and nearly killing ourselves a couple times (much to our Mother’s grief!) Those were the golden years!

Years flew by and soon we were both grown. Shell married back in 2007, just before I turned 18.

I then met my now husband Stephen shortly after I turned 18 and had a whirlwind courtship and we got married in the summer of 2009. I moved to Phoenix. It was devastating to move so far away from my family, especially my sister. We had no idea if we’d ever move back, but we knew it was very unlikely.

Shell and I talked frequently and dreamt that someday we would live closer and our children would grow up as best friends. If only it could happen!

My husband and I bought a house and settled and called Arizona our home. Four years passed and we welcomed 3 handsome sons into our family.

Shell called me one day and told me that the house they were trying to sell had been sitting on the market for over a year with NO bites. They were under two mortgages and were desperate to get their other house sold.

My sister and I decided that very day that we would begin praying the St. Joseph novena asking for his intercession. We figured that if it was God’s will, he would let something happen so that we could live closer to each other and see our children grow up together. It was a crazy prayer, a very impossible intention at that point, but we had great faith! Shell was also praying that they would sell their house.

On the last day of our 30 day novena, my sister called me with the news. Someone had just contacted her and wanted to rent to own the house they had been trying to sell!

We began a second novena….

I still remember the day clearly. My husband Stephen broke the news to me suddenly.

One evening he blurted “I got a job offer in Washington!!!!”

I sat there stunned, my head whirling. At first I didn’t know whether to believe it was true.

“Wait….Are you serious?”

He absolutely was!

I called my sister in a flurry with the news and she, like me, could hardly believe it. We both laughed and cried with joy. Could this REALLY be happening?

With the second 30 day St. Joseph novena complete, we began a third, begging his intercession for our house to sell.

Sell it did…Almost immediately after we put it up for sale. Everything fell into place so perfectly and without a hitch.

The day our house closed and we had $20,000 profit from it transferred into our bank account was also the day my husband got a confirmation that the job was absolute in Washington and we were moving!

Moving day came mid-January 2014. We packed up our vehicle, said our goodbyes and hit the road. It was the beginning of a new adventure and a trip that proved dangerous and very scary!

We prayed hard, and finally made it to our new rental home and settled in.

My sister and I were only FIVE minutes away from each other! We laughed in glee that such a miraculous thing happened to us! We could drink coffee, spend the day together and watch our children play. We do not for a day take our situation for granted!

After a year in our rental house, we knew that we were ready to buy a house in the area.

The housing market was poor. I checked the listings daily and felt more and more disheartened.

One day, a house popped up onto the market as a new listing. The house was beautiful, well taken care of and had 5 bedrooms, a generator attached directly to the house, its own well and it sat on nearly 5 acres. It was too good to be true!

I called my realtor immediately and told him I wanted to see the house IMMEDIATELY!

We made an appointment the next day and went to see the house. Our realtor opened the door and when we walked into the house I knew, immediately that this was our house. It was even more beautiful in person then in the pictures.

We made an offer on the house THAT day and offered over asking price!

This was right before Christmas and we prayed for a Christmas miracle! We continued praying the St. Joseph novena daily since we first began about 1.5 years ago and now we begged for his intercession once again.

We waited anxiously as the day approached that the owners would be viewing the offers. Apparently we were not the only ones who made a quick offer on the house, there were several sitting on the desk and the house had only been on the market 4 days!

Finally, after what seemed like forever, I got the anticipated call from our realtor.

Our realtor said “I have good news and bad news…” The bad news is that several of the offers were much better than yours…” My heart sunk. “However, the good news is that the sellers accepted YOUR offer out of all of them!!!!”

I stood there shocked, in completely disbelief.

We finally signed several months later. We had a VA loan and it proved to be extremely difficult. We almost lost the deal several times, but miracle after miracle happened and things kept falling into place slowly, no matter how hopeless it felt at times!

I was pregnant at this time, about 4 months along.

We were finally able to rest easy as we settled into our beautiful new home and awaited the arrival of our 4th child.

June rolled around quickly as we enjoyed our days in our new house and soon I was in labor.

I prayed asking for St. Joseph’s intercession and protection again as I was home alone when labor began and quickly progressed.

My husband and midwife got to our house just in time to witness the gentle birth of our 4th son.

We named him Joseph Andrew, after our patron saint and dear friend St. Joseph.

St. Joseph has protected us diligently and 4 years after we began the St. Joseph novena, we continue praying it DAILY.

If you have an impossible situation in your life, pray the St. Joseph novena. I promise you he will be there. In honor of his feast day, I share my testimony of this 30 day St. Joseph novena!

St. Joseph, Pray for us!

 

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Kerri Prayer

Lectio Divina: The Fourth Sunday of Advent (2016)

fourth-sunday-of-adventCan you believe that we are about to be at the tail end of Advent. And this year we get a whole week for the fourth week of Advent. This coming Sunday’s Gospel gets us a lot closer to the Christmas story. St. Joseph is often an overlooked figure in Scripture, we have no words from him and he is absent from the Gospels after Jesus is lost around the age of 12. One thing St. Joseph teaches us is to trust in God. My lectio divina reflection ended up centering around trust in God.

I hope you’ll join me in this reflection and share your own thoughts in the comments. You can find the Gospel reading for Sunday December 18 at the USCCB website. If you need a refresher on lectio divina you can find a quick outline from St. Meinrad Archabbey. Remember to read the Gospel passage at the start of each of the four sections below (the ones that start with an “R” word).

READ

Two short phrases that stuck in my head:

  • This is how
  • He did

REFLECT: What is Got saying to you?

Two things from this Gospel reading leave an impression on me. The first is just the words that open this passage: This is how. They are simple and most likely aren’t that noticeable to most people. Yet when I read them I sense a very deliberate, intentional use meant to grab our attention at the get go. It is as if Matthew is saying that “This,” that is his, story is the way it happened and any other story pales in comparison. You want to know about Christ’s birth, this is the story. Don’t go anywhere else, read this one.

The second thing that strikes me is Joseph’s silence and his action. This is easily summed in by two words: “he did.” But really, it wasn’t so much those specific words but more the impression you get of Joseph. He is a strong man, yet a caring and righteous man; he is a man of action, not of words. Unlike both Zechariah and Mary, he didn’t speak to the angel at all, no questions, no clarifications. He just did. He is a man willing to sacrifice his life, his work, his reputation, to protect and provide for Mary and her son. And he just does it. Joseph is a man that all men should strive to be like.

Looking back over my reflection here I believe God is simply telling me to trust in Him for all things. Trust in Scripture, you can’t go wrong there. And like Joseph, trust in God and be open to respond to his call when you hear it.

RESPOND: What do you want to say to God?

Help me, God, to hear your voice and trust in you. Help me to be open enough to not just hear you, but to also respond with trust. I pray that I can also teach my children to put their trust in you and to be open to your call for their lives. What a blessing St. Joseph was to Mary and Jesus! May my boys one day also view this holy man as a role model for their own lives. St. Joseph, pray for us!

REST

Spend some time in silence after your fourth reading of the passage.

YOUR TURN

Share in the comments, what do you feel God is saying to you in this passage? How would you respond to him?

Categories
Faith Formation Ink Slingers Karen Saints

March: Dedication to Saint Joseph

Last month we reflected a little on the Church’s devotion for February of the Holy Family.  Today we explore the March devotion: St Joseph.

March:March: Dedication to Saint Joseph

 

All we know of St. Joseph is derived from scripture. We know he was a kind and Godly man, with humble origins but from the line of David.

Saint Joseph provided the earthly example of fatherhood that all men can model. He provided for his family. He undoubtedly shared his carpentry craft with the child Jesus. When Mary was pregnant during their betrothal with a child obviously not his, he ultimately protected her and cared for her.

Saint Joseph is the patron saint of fathers, expectant mothers, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and is a patron of several regions and cities around the world. 

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Please join me in praying the following prayer from the Contemplatives of Saint Joseph:

Prayer to St. Joseph13261986485_4301afc80c

O St. Joseph, whose protection is so great, so strong, so prompt before the throne of God. I place in you all my interests and desires. O St. Joseph, do assist me by your powerful intercession, and obtain for me from your divine Son all spiritual blessings, through Jesus Christ, our Lord, so that, having engaged here below your heavenly power, I may offer my thanksgiving and homage to the most loving of Fathers.

O St. Joseph, I never weary of contemplating you, and Jesus asleep in your arms; I dare not approach while He reposes near your heart. Press Him in my name and kiss His fine head for me and ask him to return the kiss when I draw my dying breath. St. Joseph, patron of departing souls, pray for me. Amen.

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Activity:

For a craft and coloring page about St Joseph for the little ones, head to this wonderful resource here

 

Next Month: The Devotion to the Holy Spirit and to the Eucharist