Ten Practical Ways to Put Your Faith into Action

February 7th, 2017 | Posted by Bryn in Catholic | Faith | SF - (Comments Off on Ten Practical Ways to Put Your Faith into Action)

I wrote this article five years ago, and it was previously published at RealLifeatHome.com. Enjoy it again here!


Putting faith into action isn’t as hard as it may seem. We are all called to be holy and to live lives of grace, but how do we put our faith in Jesus Christ into action on a daily basis? Here are some ideas that may help you get started:

1. Receive the Sacraments. As Catholics, we are so blessed to be able to have guaranteed ways to receive grace. That is the gift of the sacraments. Attend Mass and go to confession. These acts not only bring grace, but tend to lighten any burdens you may be carrying.

2. Limit your TV/screen time. Don’t watch TV that portrays the marriage relationship–or any relationship–in a negative light. When you stop to really think about it, most sitcoms, dramas, and reality TV show sin as normal and even preferable to living a holy life. Ask yourself: Does watching this TV show bring glory to God? If it doesn’t, consider giving it up.

3. Pray for someone who has wronged you. And forgive them. It doesn’t really matter if they are sorry for what they did to you or if they even know they hurt you. God shows mercy to us every single minute of our lives, and it is our duty to pray for and forgive others.

4. Don’t gossip, and stand up for someone. When the conversation with your friends starts veering toward bashing others, sharing juicy details of someone else’s troubles, or anything of the sort, either stop the conversation by standing up for the person or just walk away. I know I have friends in my life who tend to gossip and not listen even when I try to defend someone, so sometimes the best option is to just walk away from the conversation.

5. Donate used clothes, toys, kitchen items, canned food, whatever to charity, and do so with a heart for Christ. We live in a world of constant surplus. I know I have a constant need to de-clutter, and “things” can take over if I don’t keep them in check. Our local Ladies of Charity and food pantries are in desperate need and always looking for donated items. Check to see if your church has a food pantry or a recommendation on where to donate. If you don’t have extra stuff to donate, maybe you can serve God by giving of your time and volunteering at church or at a charity.

6. Read the Bible. This one may seem kind of obvious, but many Catholics are not as familiar with the bible as most Protestants I know. A good place to start is Proverbs. There are 31, so you can read one each day for a whole month.

7. Stop complaining and start thanking God for your blessings. If you are reading this (on a computer or smartphone, with an internet connection), chances are you are in the top 10% of the world’s wealthiest people. Many people in the world today don’t know where they are getting their next meal, don’t have a bed to sleep in or an extra set of clothes. You are blessed physically and spiritually. Be sure to recognize those blessings and thank God for them.

8. Hold your tongue. A big part of being patient is just shutting up. I get along with my husband and am kinder to my children when I take time to really think before I speak instead of just spouting out whatever comes to mind.

9. Organize your house and your mind so that your family receives the best you. I know when my house is a mess and I have a million things on my to-do list, I get stressed and tend to take it out on my family. They don’t deserve that. If I keep the house clean and organized, keep close track of the calendar, and don’t wait till the last minute to get things done, the entire household seems more peaceful.

10. Pray without ceasing. This one’s from the bible. Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians, “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” As you may have heard before, prayer has four general parts:

  • Adoration – Praising God
  • Contrition – Confessing your sins
  • Thanksgiving – Thanking God for blessings
  • Supplication – Asking for things

Adoration is the first because it’s the most important. God is our creator, our savior, our healer, our everything and He deserves to be praised all the time. So don’t just ask, adore Him.

What are some practical ways you have found to put your faith into action?

 

No, Pro-Life Doesn’t Just Mean “Pro-Birth”

January 27th, 2017 | Posted by Bryn in Catholic | Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on No, Pro-Life Doesn’t Just Mean “Pro-Birth”)

The actual women’s march was today – the March for Life. You didn’t hear about it on the Today Show, but it’s actually much bigger than any of the Women’s Marches this past weekend.

Feminists claim to support all women, to be marching for the rights of all women, especially those on the fringes of society. The problem many of us have with feminism is that it’s being shoved down our throats that we’re being treated unfairly even though this is THE best time in history to be a woman, in the country where we enjoy the most rights. Everyone has struggles and may experience discrimination in some ways, but are these struggles occurring SOLELY because we’re women? Highly unlikely.

The most frequent puzzling thing I’ve read in the comments sections of these pro-life vs. feminist articles is the claim that pro-life people aren’t really pro-life, they’re just “pro-birth” and don’t care what happens to babies after they’re born or to the women affected, and that pro-lifers want to force women to have babies, etc.

My first thought is, where did they come up with this claim? Where are their statistics to back them up? In an online conversation with a self-proclaimed “feminist”, I asked her those exact questions when she made the above accusation. And her response was that pro-life supporters are opponents of Planned Parenthood, so they’re inherently unsupportive of women and their babies.

What?!

Planned Parenthood doesn’t actually provide prenatal care, and NOT supporting Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with supporting women and their babies. Being in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood means that we would love for more babies to be saved from this abortion factory. I’ve heard many claims that Planned Parenthood is the only place for low-income women to receive healthcare, but again, where are the statistics on that? There are thousands of other real health facilities all over the country to provide basic healthcare for men, women, and children.

When pro-choice people say that we’re only pro-birth, they fail to take into account the thousands of Christians that adopt and foster children in their own homes, volunteer their time at soup kitchens and food pantries, donate clothing, toys, household items, and more to charitable organizations that give these things away for free to the needy, and donate BILLIONS of dollars per year in this country alone to help the poor with housing, healthcare, childcare, etc. The Catholic Church and other Christian organizations have done more for the poor in the history of the world than any other organization. For example, Catholic Charities USA (just one of the many, many Christian charitable organizations in the United States alone) was #9 on the Forbes list of 100 Largest US Charities last year. So how does this make us “only pro-birth”?

As pro-life supporters, we are called to a higher form of social justice. When we see that the dignity of the human person is threatened (in any situation, not just abortion), we have no choice but to speak up. We are called to be active in our communities and to help the poor and marginalized in our society. Which is why hundreds of thousands of men, women, and children marched today.

I saw many photos of people and their pro-life signs today, and one sign said, “1/3 of my generation is missing.”

Photo Credit: March for Life Facebook page

One third. This is completely heartbreaking when you really think about it. I was born a little more than 10 years after abortion was legalized in the United States, so I wonder how many people were missing from my kindergarten class, from my high school graduation, from my life.

The genocide that is abortion needs to stop. We need to be part of the culture of life that supports women in need, supports children and their parents, and truly believes that life is sacred from conception until natural death. It’s our duty and our responsibility as pro-life supporters to show others that this kind of world is possible. What will you do today to show that you’re truly pro-life?

Advice for President Trump from our Kindergartners

January 24th, 2017 | Posted by Bryn in Catholic | Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on Advice for President Trump from our Kindergartners)

My six-year-old curly-haired daughter is in kindergarten this year, and she’s part of a fantastic class in a fabulous school with loving, wonderful teachers.

On inauguration day last week, her teacher asked the kids, “What advice would you give our new president?”

If this question had been asked to a group of adults, I’m sure the sound of crickets would have followed. Or complicated stances on complicated issues. One or the other.

However, these kids know what’s important in life and prove that the simplest advice can be the very best.

Here’s what they had to say:

1. Please follow rules.
2. Always tell the truth.
3. Be nice to people.
4. Love others with your heart.
5. Care about all people.
6. Look at others with loving eyes.
7. Do what God wants you to do.
8. Help the poor.

We will pray for you every day.

Each of us would do well in all aspects of life following this simple wisdom.

They are a super group of kids led by a loving, Christ-filled teacher and learning about what’s truly important in life. Thank you to our teachers for loving and guiding our kids every single day.

10 Simple Family Traditions for Advent

December 1st, 2016 | Posted by Bryn in Advent | Catholic | Liturgical Living - (Comments Off on 10 Simple Family Traditions for Advent)

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It’s that time of year again, folks. Everyone’s busy, but cheerful, and the radio stations are playing nothing but Christmas songs even though it’s not Christmas yet.

But it’s December 1st, surely “Christmas Season” has begun, right?

NO! Traditionally, the four weeks before Christmas day have always been Advent, a Christian liturgical season of penitential preparation for the celebration of the birth of Christ as well as for His second coming.In the Catholic Church, we can see evidence of Advent in the priests purple or rose colored vestments, the lighting of the Advent candles, special readings leading up to the birth of Christ, and an empty manger scene. Click here to read more about why Advent is so important to Christians.

Advent can be tricky because all kinds of celebrations are happening all around our kids. Holiday dance recitals, 25 Days of Christmas movies, the Christmas singing program at school, and school Christmas parties all occur during Advent. They see all the decorations and TV programs and hear the Christmas music and obviously assume it’s time to celebrate. That’s what makes this season of anticipation harder for parents to navigate.

Here are 10 things we can do this Advent to prepare our own hearts and our childrens’ hearts for His coming:

1. Light an Advent wreath. If you don’t have one, most parishes sell them this time of year, they can be ordered online, or you can make your own. This creates a special place for daily Advent prayers and shows the progression of the weeks as each candle is lit.

 

2. Get an Advent calendar. I’ve seen Advent calendars that have a daily ornament, chocolate, beer, Lego figures, toys, pretty much anything. This is especially fun for the kids to be able to countdown to Christmas and ups the anticipation as each door is opened.

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3. Set up a Nativity scene at home. Most of us have a Nativity set (or several) packed with our Christmas decorations, and now is the time to get it out and set it up in a prominent place in your home. The trick with this is to take the Christ child away until Christmas morning. I’ve had my Nativity set for years, and I place a pregnant Mary, which is a figure that matches that I already had in place of Mary holding baby Jesus until Christmas morning when they “magically” appear. If placed on a table top, it can be a place for prayer and reading the bible or other religious books.

 

thejessetree 15178176_739760849509326_2805305447897112208_n4. Set up a Jesse Tree. The tradition of the Jesse tree goes back hundreds of years. According to LoyolaPress.com, “We adorn a Jesse tree with illustrated ornaments that represent the people, prophesies, and events leading up to the birth of Jesus. The ornaments of the Jesse tree tell the story of God in the Old Testament, connecting the Advent season with the faithfulness of God across four thousand years of history.” It’s a fun daily tradition that will get you reading a little bit of the bible every day. This will really help adults and kids especially to understand the connections that led to the birth of Christ. I am making these ornaments from ShiningLightDolls.com, which are easy and adorable, and they conveniently have the readings right there on the download. Print the symbols, glue them to these wooden ornament circles http://amzn.to/2gB2G7X , and enjoy journeying through the Jesse Tree this Advent with your family!

 

5. Receive the sacrament of Reconciliation. This year I have a second grader, who will receive her First Reconciliation with her class this weekend. They have been preparing for months, been practicing, and doing homework for it, and now the time has come to fully receive God’s absolution through this beautiful sacrament. As adults living in the secular world, it’s easy to say to ourselves, “Well, I can just confess my sins to God and be forgiven.” And you’d be right, of course you can, but the sacrament of Reconciliation truly reconciles us with Christ, meaning that we are absolved from our sins and returned to a state of grace. It’s the perfect way and the perfect time of year to get closer to Christ.

 

6. Go to Mass. And truly be present. Listen to the readings and the homily. Worship with your brothers and sisters in Christ. Receive Christ in the Eucharist and believe in what is an unbelievable gift to us. The feast of the Immaculate Conception is coming up next Thursday–and it’s a holy day of obligation–which celebrates the conception of Mary completely sinless in her mother’s womb. Which brings me to my next point…

 

7. Learn a little bit about the Virgin Mary. The Catholic Church is so deep, so rich, and I’m just starting to scratch the surface on Marian doctrine. A book I highly recommend is Meet Your Mother by Mark Miravalle, which outlines each Marian dogma by chapter and will blow your freakin’ mind. Warning: this seemingly short little book has so much information about our mother in Heaven and will help you understand that although we do not worship Mary herself, having a devotion to her can change your eternity.

 

8. Give something up/make a change. This past Sunday at Mass, Father talked about how we should set a small, achievable goal in our faith life this Advent much like you’d do during Lent. Either give something up to remind yourself to pray and devote yourself to Christ (like when children give up chocolate for Lent) or actively do something to further your faith life. I personally am praying the Immaculate Conception novena and am reading Fr. Robert Barron’s Catholicism book this Advent.

 

9. Almsgiving. This is actually a very common thing to do, even among nonbelievers. It’s a merry time of year, and it seems to make most people more cheerful and in a more giving spirit. Your local parish may have a giving tree to provide Christmas gifts to needy families, food banks are always looking for donations and volunteers, several program exist that donate toys and coats to needy children as well. This is another one of my favorite things to do with the kids because they can see tangibly how we’re helping other people.

 

10. Celebrate the Advent feast days, like the feasts of St. Nicholas on December 6 (shoes by the door), Immaculate Conception on December 9 (get thee to Mass), Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12 (pray the rosary), and St. Lucy on December 13 (rolls and cookies and candles for the festival of lights). Many have different cultural traditions tied to each of these feasts, so celebrate with your own cultural and family traditions or look online for ideas to begin some new traditions.

 

Bonus: Blessing of the Christmas tree. When we get our Christmas tree set up, we’ll be blessing it with this Christmas tree blessing.

Bonus 2: Ditch Elf on the Shelf and Follow the Star instead. A friend of mine recently told me that instead of Elf on the Shelf, she’s hiding a star each night for her daughter to find in the morning that will lead to their Nativity set by Christmas morning. What a cool idea!

 

We make such a big effort on the holiday of Christmas itself with gift-giving and celebrating, so let’s be sure to prepare our hearts–and the little hearts we’re raising–to really get ready for Jesus this year.

 

How do you and your family prepare to celebrate Jesus’ birth? Do you have special family or cultural traditions for Advent? I’d love to hear all about it!

 

 

Nine – and halfway there

August 3rd, 2016 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids | SF - (Comments Off on Nine – and halfway there)

I recently came across the Huffington Post article titled “To My Daughter, At Halftime.”

While the author here is giving her 9-year-old child advice and wondering how the next nine years would go, it left me struggling for breath because my boy is nine today, and I’m kind of in disbelief.

Nine, as in halfway to eighteen.

Half of his years under my roof gone in a blink.006_19

Like all parents (I assume), after the shock of imagining my baby in college, I start to wonder:

Have I taught him enough? Did I read to him enough? Have I hugged him enough? Have I loved him enough? Have i prayed with him and for him enough? Have I shown him enough grace? Enough to sustain him when I’m not with him every second?

I’ve lost my temper, yelled when I should have explained calmly, lost patience when I’m interrupted, had too great of expectations since he’s the oldest, and once or twice may have even said, “go play or I’ll make you clean something!”

But one thing I do know for sure. I love that boy fiercely. My heart grew bigger the day he was born.DSC_0656

Sometimes the burden of motherhood seems like too much pressure to be perfect all the time, and I’m not even close.

I may never  be “enough” for my kids, but God is. He’s there every step of the way, even when I can’t be with them. He loves them even more than I do. So I can choose to worry, or I can choose to trust.

When I asked him the other day how he wanted to celebrate, if he wanted a party with all his school friends, he simply said, “I want to go on a date with just you and me, Mom.”

I’ll take that while I can! Pretty soon he won’t want to be seen with me in public.

Pretty soon he will be listening to music I don’t understand and reading books I’ve never read and making me prouder than I ever thought possible and more disappointed than I ever thought he could.

He will have great joy and great heartache in these next nine years, and I’ll be there as much as he’ll let me. I’ll be learning even more about letting go and letting him spread his wings and fall on his face and take responsibility for himself, all while being close enough to guide him when he really needs it.

Oldest of five, surrounded by siblings on his birthday

Oldest of five, surrounded by siblings on his 9th birthday

Although I’m still praying the the next nine years don’t pass by quite so quickly, it feels like kind of a big accomplishment that we’ve made it this far. I’m praying I can trust more and worry less.

Oooh were halfway there… and livin’ on a prayer.

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*(We try once a month or so to spend time with each of our kids individually, and call it a “date” – I’ll explain more later!)

I Love My Husband More than the Kids

February 4th, 2016 | Posted by Bryn in My Lover Boy - (Comments Off on I Love My Husband More than the Kids)

I wrote this article in 2011 for the website CatholicMothersOnline.com, which is now Real Life at Home. With Valentine’s Day coming up, I thought it was time to bring this (edited) article back! Enjoy!

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I am still totally smitten with my husband. We’ve been married over six years, and of course we’ve had bumps in the road, but we’ve still seen each other through everything. And we are more in love than ever.

When we had our first child, it was instant and amazing love. Unconditional, in fact. There is nothing my children could do that would make me love them any less. They make my life joyful, fun, and full of laughter. The kids also challenge me to be a better person because they deserve a mother who is patient, loving, and helpful all the time. There is no doubt that I love my children. SO much.

Me and my favorite. Photo courtesy of Tara Shay Photography

There are some who say, “I’m so in love with my baby.” And I’m sure I’ve said this before, but when I really stop to think about it, I’m not sure that’s true. The one I’m “in love” with (whether I feel like it or not) is my husband. Some of you will want to kick me for saying this, but I love him more than I love our children. More.

It definitely is a different type of love. When each of our children were born, we had the “love explosion,” the instant attachment knowing that this tiny person is a part of you, a decision made by the two of you to become parents. It’s completely natural and easy to love our kids.

But my husband and I took our time falling in love. We had to get to know each other – click here to read our story. Married love is so different because there are times we don’t even like each other, but we still love each other because of the choice we made, the vows we said in front of God and everyone we knew. Our love is a choice we make every single day to get up and love each other the best we can. Sometimes it takes a conscious effort to love one another, and because of that effort and that daily choice, I love him more.

He’s the one God created for me. I am the flighty, high energy one, and he always keeps me grounded, makes me laugh with his dry sense of humor, and is honest with me, even if I don’t want to hear it. When I look at him, it’s like looking in an opposite mirror. The reflection is as familiar and comfortable as looking at my own face, but he’s the perfect complement, the perfect opposite to me.

We were talking about marriage recently, and it went like this

Him: You know, marriage is between two people.

Me: Duh! We aren’t polygamists!

Him: Yeah, two people. God and me and you.

Me: What? Isn’t that three?

Him: No, God is one, and you and I are one.

He and I are one. When we got married, we became one body in Christ. We are just one person now, and nothing can separate us.

So what is love for my husband and me?

  1. Love is packing his lunch every morning, no matter how tired I am.
  2. Love is my four-year-old son asking, “Are you thinking about Daddy?” when he catches me randomly smiling.
  3. Love is attending Mass as a family, and always giving each other the sign of peace first with a kiss.
  4. Love is parenting together and acting as one unit when it comes to discipline.
  5. Love is putting him above all others, even myself, and letting him do the same for me.
  6. Love is growing together in faith through all means possible.
  7. Love is respecting each other’s feelings and treating each other as equals.
  8. Love is knowing that I’m his rib, the one God created for him.
  9. Love is when he puts the kids to bed every night, prays with them, and reads them stories so I can have a few minutes alone.
  10. Love is forgiving each other, no matter what, even when we don’t feel like it.
  11. Love is praying together, even if it’s awkward.
  12. Love is choosing to care, choosing to rely on him, choosing to put him ahead of everything else. Except God, of course. But that’s just a given.
Do you love your husband the most, forsaking all others? What is “love” for you and your husband? What do you do to show that love every day?

YOU can help save a life. Literally.

January 22nd, 2016 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | SF - (Comments Off on YOU can help save a life. Literally.)

HammerFam

A few years ago, I wrote about the beautiful children of Reece’s Rainbow, an outreach program that helps people from the United States and other countries raise money to adopt children with special needs from all over the world.

My friends Beth and Mike Hammer are working with Reece’s Rainbow to adopt a baby girl who has Down Syndrome from eastern Europe. Her quality of life is next to nothing over there, and she likely won’t survive past age 5 if she isn’t rescued. The Hammers are literally saving her life.

They are doing everything they can to bring her home as soon as possible, and they can care for her and provide a loving home for her once she’s here, but they need help paying the outrageous costs ($35k or more) involved with international adoption.

That’s where YOU come in. We are looking for 1,000 generous individuals to donate just $20 each to help ease the financial burden on this wonderful family. Your small donation will literally be helping to save a life.

They say it takes a village to raise a child, but the Hammers need a village to help bring their baby girl home.  Will you help?

For more information and to donate, visit http://www.heartshammerhome.com/ OR click the Reece’s Rainbow button on the sidebar of this page (may have to scroll down if you’re on a mobile device) to donate via PayPal.

The Hammers appreciate each and every donation more than words can say. Help bring baby Hammer home! Donate today!

An Open Letter to Teenage Christian Women on the Lies of this World

January 20th, 2016 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | SF - (Comments Off on An Open Letter to Teenage Christian Women on the Lies of this World)

 

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To my beautiful, young gal pal:

Never forget: “The world’s thy ship, but not thy home.”
–St. Thérèse of Lisieux

It’s harder than ever to be a Christian young woman in the world we live in. You are living in a world that you aren’t actually a part of because you are a member of the body of Christ, the kingdom to come.

The thing is, this world is telling you lies.

The world here on Earth is so skewed from what God wants for you in your life, especially when it comes to relationships. God wants only the best for you. He loves you, no matter what you’ve done or how far you’ve fallen away from Him.

He loves you for YOU. And you’re never alone.

The world tells you that this is all there is, that “You Only Live Once!” so take advantage of every crazy opportunity to do something exciting and… well, stupid. I can remember always worrying about missing out on something fun or thinking that when I’m older, I would want to have fun memories of being crazy when I was young. That kind of thinking can lead to bad decisions.
What about eternal life with Him?

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16

You don’t “only live once.” We are here on this Earth only for a short time, but for what purpose? To do whatever we want? Or to serve Christ and others?

The world tells you to avoid pain at all costs. The truth is: there is such thing as pain with a purpose. Just ask any woman who has ever given birth to a miracle. What gold-medal athlete has ever gotten there without some pain? What about the pain of studying and studying and then seeing the benefits with a good grade on the test? You may be in pain (from a fight or a break-up, from loneliness, from stress, etc.) right now, but trust me, God has a purpose for that pain. He’s moving your heart and molding you into your truest self, into the person He wants you to become.

The world tells you that love is all about the romance and that it should always lead to sex, even if you’re not married to the person. What’s real love? Love isn’t a romantic comedy. It’s the person who is there for you, even if you’ve done the unthinkable. It’s the one who always forgives, always hopes, always cares about you because you are you, not with any conditions. Guard your heart. Don’t give your heart away to the next boy who says you’re cute. Keep it focused on Christ. There’s no need to rush into a romantic relationship. Don’t date just to date. If you are truly embracing Christ and His teachings, the right man for you will too. Relationships when you’re young have a definite impact on your future relationships and marriage, and emotional wounds can follow you into adulthood. Guard your heart, sweet girl.

The world tells you that it’s a normal and natural have sex (or do “other” things, you know what I mean) and experiment with alcohol/drugs when you are young. I tell my children all the time that “God is in your heart.” He’s in your heart too, young friend, and my hope is that you realize the sacredness of your own body, this beautiful temple of the Holy Spirit. God created your body and misusing it by having sex before marriage or by getting drunk or any of those other unhealthy behaviors is desecrating this holy structure and the Holy Spirit that lives in you.

The world tells you that you’re being responsible if you get on the Pill. Really? Wouldn’t the “responsible” thing be to control yourself and not have sex until after marriage – when you are ready to accept the full responsibility of the actions (a baby)? Here’s the truth about sex: it’s good. (And not in the way you’re thinking… I mean yes it is, in that way too, but stick with me here!) God created everything to be good, sex included. As a young person, it’s easy to see sex as just something you do, a purely physical thing, but it’s so much more than that. In the Theology of the Body, Pope St. John Paul II tells us that sex is a free, total, faithful, and fruitful gift of self.

Can you really give yourself this way and expect your partner to give himself totally, freely, faithfully, and fruitfully outside of the covenant of marriage? (Hint: NO!) I encourage you to read Christopher West’s Basic Theology of Marriage for more information on the subjects of sex and marriage as created by God. This could be a days long conversation, but start here!

When the bible talks about a good wife, it says, “She does him good and not evil all the days of her life. ALL THE DAYS OF HER LIFE!
***All the days, not just the days after she meets him.***
How cool would it be to meet your husband and be able to say with confidence, “I’ve been waiting for you.” I read When God Writes Your Love Story by Eric & Leslie Ludy when I was a teenager and started writing letters in a journal “to my future husband” way before we even started dating. Pray for your future husband, and pray for discernment on the vocation God has chosen for you.

The world tells you that once you’ve done something wrong, you’re a bad person. This year is the year of MERCY in our church. Mercy means receiving God’s loving kindness and forgiveness even though we surely don’t deserve it. And none of us do. If you’ve made mistakes in your life, you’re just like everyone else. You are a forgiven child of God because you won’t just shake hands with your sin, you won’t accept that this is just the way you are, and you are always striving to lead a holier life by following the gospel on a daily basis. You are His daughter because He’s already done all the work on the cross. His mercy is everlasting, and it’s there for you every time you turn back to Him. So run to Him!

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This post was inspired by conversations with the young women of the Hands and Feet of Christ youth group at our local high school. Although this post is just a teeny tiny glimpse of the wonderful conversations to be had between Catholic women, I encourage you as a young woman to talk to your mom or to find a mentor. It may seem like us moms are just old farts, but we remember exactly what it feels like to be going through high school and college years, and our greatest wish is for you to learn from our mistakes and not have to make the same ones. Tweet me or contact me on Facebook if you’d like to talk more. I’m praying for all of you!

Teach us wisdom; teach us love.

October 8th, 2014 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Teach us wisdom; teach us love.)

The kids and I pray in the van every morning in the parking lot before I drop them off at school. Normally, it’s the same thing every morning: “Dear Lord Jesus, please help us to have a great day at school…” blah blah blah.  This morning, my 7 year old son prayed that “Mommy doesn’t get mad today.”

Knife in the gut. He had gotten in trouble twice that morning, and it’s possible I may have had a sharper tone than I intended.

Also on the agenda this morning, his class was in charge of Mass (meaning they do introduction, all the readings, petitions, etc.), so he was assigned to do the first reading. He did a great job, and later on in Mass, we start singing, “Hail Mary, Gentle Woman.” For those who haven’t heard this song, here are some of the lyrics:

Gentle woman, quiet light, morning star
so strong and bright,
gentle mother peaceful dove
teach us wisdom; teach us love

I got it, God. I was no “peaceful dove” this morning. Mary is the prime example of a perfect mother, so how can I be more like her? What can I do to teach them wisdom; teach them love?

It’s a daily struggle, but here’s today’s list:

  1. Pray. Really pray from the heart. I love it when I see pictures on Facebook of people with their coffee and Bible studying and praying in the morning. I’m sure if I just focused on my prayer life more, everything else would be much simpler.
  2. Be aware of my temper. I am about 7 months pregnant, and sometimes that becomes a good excuse to become annoyed with people, even my children. Even though “getting annoyed” isn’t exactly a sin according to the Bible, if it makes me angry or causes me to dwell on that annoyance, I count it. I’m not one to blow up on my kids, but sometimes my words come out much more sharply than they should, which was definitely the case this morning. I need to be aware of what makes me annoyed/angry and control my words.
  3. Be forgiving and ask for forgiveness. Enough said.
  4. Be humble. Ugh, this is a constant struggle for me… I was about to share a lot more, but this is a very public place, so you can just all make your assumptions about the things that go on in my head sometimes. I have written about humility before, and I should probably post Mother Teresa’s Humility List on my bathroom mirror so I can read it every morning.
  5. Enjoy my kids. This really shouldn’t have to be on my list, but it’s there for a reason. As a stay at home mom with two kids in school and two kids still at home all day, I feel like we’re constantly running with such a rigid schedule that still revolves around naps and meals. On our busy days, it’s easy to lose focus on these precious gifts that my children really are. Today, I’ll enjoy them. I’ll laugh at their jokes, be proud when they do something hard (like read at Mass), truly listen, and let their joy soak into my soul.

I could add 100 more things to this list, but that’s it for today, and I’m sure I’ll need this reminder (and Jesus) again tomorrow.

Lord God, thank you so much for the gift of these awesome kids and the joy they bring to my life. Come into my heart as I deal with the everyday with them. Help me to truly be a “gentle mother, peaceful dove” and to teach them wisdom and love. Amen.

It’s like drowning…

August 19th, 2013 | Posted by Bryn in Kids - (Comments Off on It’s like drowning…)

It’s been awhile since I posted on here. I had a lot of trouble when I migrated my hosting, and I lost my entire database – which means: there are a lot of posts that I spent time and energy on that are gone into the internet black hole forever. So that was a bummer.

I had a hard time deciding if it was even worth it to start again when I found most of my lost posts on my wordpress.com site and a few others on my email. So here we are. Still not back to where I was, but not all is lost.

So what’s up with me?

We had an extremely busy summer that went by way too fast. My honey and I directed a Teens Encounter Christ weekend, which was absolutely amazing! It’s so awesome to see youth changing their hearts and turning toward Christ. More on this later.

My big boy TT starts first grade tomorrow, and little Peach starts 4-year-old preschool. Our little Vanilla is now two years old and is hilarious. Two’s really aren’t terrible. We also had another baby since I last posted on this blog. She’s a four month old, fifteen pound, little ball of sunshine.

I know you’re thinking: what’s it like having four kids?
Right after I had her I watched Jim Gaffigan’s Mr. Universe on Netflix and saw this:

It’s funny because it’s true! 🙂

I have been trying since she was born to get a good picture of all four of them together, but I didn’t realize how hard that’d be. Here’s what happens when I point the camera at them:

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The last one’s not horrible. They’re cute kids, but come on!

I know this is just a mish mash of a post, but I’m hoping to collect my thoughts a little better now that we’ll be on THE SCHEDULE of the school year.

Have a great day!