2012 Resolutions, and I'm Stickin' to It

January 3rd, 2012 | Posted by Bryn in 2012 Resolutions | Living Simply - (Comments Off on 2012 Resolutions, and I'm Stickin' to It)

Happy New Year everyone! Welcome to 2012. First, I have a question for you, do you call it “two thousand twelve” or “twenty twelve”? Just curious. I think I’ll call it “twenty twelve.”

Anyway, we are three days into the new year, but there is always time to make resolutions. I don’t usually take new year’s resolutions too seriously, but this year, there are a few things I’d like to do.

  • Pray more. I’d like to start doing a daily devotional and praying with my husband more often. In our Why Catholic? group this fall, we talked about prayer and spontaneous prayer (rather than memorized prayers) with our spouse. This is something I’d like to do more regularly.
  • Go on dates. With my husband, of course. I’d like to make a point to go on a fun, creative date once a month.
  • Be healthy. It is totally amazing how exercise, eating healthy and drinking boatloads of water can make me feel. Sure, I’d like to lose a little weight and get thinner, but being healthy so I can have the energy to keep up after the kids is my main goal here.
  • No more CHAOS. Flylady says that many of us are living in C.H.A.O.S. – which stands for Can’t Have Anyone Over Syndrome. Many days, that’s true in my house. This is the year I’m keeping my house picked up and clean and getting out of CHAOS for good! (If you haven’t heard of Flylady, click here for more info. She’s awesome.)
  • Be bold and enterprising. I plan on expanding my blog this year and have a couple other projects on the back burner. This year I’m not going to chicken out or make excuses, I’m just going to go for it and use my God-given stubbornness on something worthwhile.
  • Simplify. I need to continue to organize and declutter my house and my mind. Instead of talking about selling and donating our excess stuff, I’m actually going to do it. See above on CHAOS.
  • Keep learning. I’d really like to learn how to sew. I have a really nice antique Singer that was left at our house by the previous owner, so I might as well. I’m also going to start actually doing projects I have pinned to my Home & DIY board on Pinterest.
  • More quality time with the kids. This is a constant thing for me. More trips around town, more reading, more playing. And less TV.

What are your resolutions for 2012? Any suggestions on how I can get on track with mine?

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Make-a-List Monday – Tebow & Humility

December 12th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Make-A-List Monday - (Comments Off on Make-a-List Monday – Tebow & Humility)

Humility. It’s something we often don’t think much about. In our society, everyone is competing to make more money, to get the top spot in whatever they do, and to win. Always to win.

It’s especially that way in sports. Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos (NFL football for my non-sportsy friends;) had an ad out at the Superbowl last year supporting Focus on the Family, a pro-life organization. (Click below to see the ad. I personally don’t see why anyone would find it terribly offensive, but whatever.)

Tebow, aka “God’s Quarterback,” is up front about his faith in Christ, and this rubs people the wrong way quite often. I admire the guy because in the world of professional sports, when it’s the norm to be promiscuous, greedy, rude, etc., he goes against the grain, is humble, and openly prays during games. He is being who he is, an authentic person. Even if you don’t agree with his beliefs, you have to respect him for being true to himself and to God whom he worships.

He is a wonderful role model in today’s “all-about-me” society as someone who is faithful and humble. He attributes all of his blessings to God. He usually has a bible verse on his eye black during each game. The one I saw recently was Eph. 2:8-10, which reads

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Tebow knows that God has prepared him to do good works in His name, and that his success is not of his own accord. Pretty cool when you think of all the arrogance in professional sports.

It’s also really important to have humility in marriage. Being humble gives you the ability to think of your spouse’s needs before my own, to perform acts of service for him, and acknowledge your own strengths and weaknesses.

Am I always humble? Of course not. I’m far from perfect, but always striving to do the right thing and to be a good person in God’s eyes is what I expect out of myself.

Are you humble?

Here is a check list to help examine the humility in your own heart:

    • Am I able to admit when I am wrong?
    • Do I handle criticism well or do I get defensive?
    • Am I able to recognize my own weaknesses and learn from them?
    • Do I tend to talk more or listen more?
    • Am I gracious when I am right and someone else is wrong or do I tend to gloat?
    • Do I give credit to those who have helped me or would I rather enjoy claiming glory for myself?
    • Do I enjoy “working behind the scenes” or would I rather be up front showing off?
    • Am I willing to ask for help if I need it?
    • Do I tend to get to know people for who they are, or do I judge them by their appearances?
    • Do I think of others’ needs (especially my spouse) before thinking of my own?

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector – Luke 18:9-14
He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Respect Life Month – 180 Movie

October 6th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Respect Life Month – 180 Movie)

I am posting this video in honor of the over 50 million children lost in this country alone since abortion became legal. It’s a 33 minute video, but it’s worth your time. Shocking, horrifying and thought-provoking all in one.

Make-A-List Monday – Parenting Realizations

July 25th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Make-A-List Monday - (Comments Off on Make-A-List Monday – Parenting Realizations)

I’m starting a new series today called Make-A-List Monday. On Mondays, I usually try to make to-do lists of things to get done throughout the week, but these will just be random lists of things that come into my head.

A play-doh flower made for me by my three-year-old last Valentine's Day

Today I made a list of realizations I’ve had since becoming a mother.

  1. I have a real fear of swimming pools, the strings used to pull up mini-blinds, and bumpers on cribs.
  2. When I order food at a restaurant, I always think about what I can eat one-handed.
  3. My threshold to handle anything gross has gone up 100%
  4. My capacity to love has gone up 300% (for my three manaics!)
  5. I (lovingly) call my children maniacs because they have so much energy and are easily amused. We are constantly laughing.
  6. The sweetest things in life are open mouth baby kisses, handfuls of dandelions, and home made art projects, made by loving little hands.
  7. Toys that make noises are an effective way to torture parents.
  8. Name brand clothes really do hold up longer.
  9. I’m so grateful for shopping carts shaped like race cars.
  10. I love my mini-van.
  11. I would much rather shop at Carter’s or Gymboree than Hollister or Express.
  12. I am a more confident person in all aspects of life, and I’m getting better at decision-making. I have to. I’m the mommy.
  13. God is in control, and “my” kids are just borrowed from Him. He loves them even more than I do. How amazing is that?
This list could go on and on. What have you realized about yourself since you became a parent?

Christian, with the Works

June 23rd, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith - (Comments Off on Christian, with the Works)

“Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.”
– St. Francis of Assisi

My honey and I are in a couple’s bible study this summer, and we are talking a lot about what a Christian should look like in the world.* I’ve always heard the children’s song, “They’ll know we are Christians by our love.” But how do we show Christ’s love in the real world? How do we really preach the gospel without words?

We are called to be holy. A couple of years ago, I read the book Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly. In the book, Kelly explains that we are all called to holiness, and that we are called to become “the-best-version-of-ourselves.” We must have a goal in mind (holiness) if we want to become better Christians.

Our study group has been talking about how Christians should look different, how we should behave differently from those who don’t know Jesus. This is a harder problem to solve than it sounds.

Acknowledging Deficiencies

To reflect on how my own life should truly be Christian, I have to think about the hindrances in my life to following Christ. It’s different for everyone. For me, I tend to judge others when I should just accept them for who they are (Jesus did teach us to love your neighbor as yourself). I gossip from time to time, I tell lies of omission, and I watch TV shows that don’t reflect the values I want to uphold. These are difficult aspects to think about and admit, but avoiding them can bring me closer to Him and to the life I want to lead and follow Christ more closely.

Showing Our Faith through Good Works

In addition to avoiding bad behaviors, there are also good things I can do to show that I follow Him. I can be kind and patient with my husband and children. I can listen to and pray with those who are hurting. I can not only attend Mass, but also participate, pray, sing, and listen to the homily. I can receive the Eucharist and take it (Him) to those in the hospital and in nursing homes. I can pray the rosary.

I can donate food, money, and my time to help the less fortunate in our community. I can volunteer to help out with retreats like Great River Teens Encounter Christ. I’m just barely scratching the surface on the works I can do to show that I follow Christ.

What do you do to show that you are a Christian? Are you striving for holiness? How do you preach the gospel without words?

*Of course, the most important thing to being a Christian is having faith in God. We show our faith through our works. Not everyone who does good works has faith, but everyone who has faith in Christ should show that faith by their works. Read James 2:14-26 for more information.

May the Daddy Bless You

June 19th, 2011 | Posted by Bryn in Faith | Kids - (Comments Off on May the Daddy Bless You)

Peach turned two years old about a month ago, and we all “practiced” singing the birthday song over and over. Many, many times.

When she sang it (to herself apparently), she’d get to the “May the dear Lord bless you” verse and sing confidently, “May the Daddy bless you!” I thought it was pretty adorable. Toddlerisms crack me up.

But when I really got to thinking about it, she replaced the words “dear Lord” with “Daddy”. It’s actually pretty profound. In Mass today, we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Trinity. The trinity is the belief that God is actually three persons in one – the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God. Three persons, but one God.

In the past several years of my life, I have focused on having a “personal relationship” with Christ, always trying to think of Jesus as a best friend that I can easily have a conversation with through prayer. I think is a good way to think about God because He does love us and He knows us better than anyone.

The Daddy

Today at the end of Mass, we sang the song “Abba, Father”. The word abba is translated to English as “daddy”. Our “dear Lord” is our “Daddy”. God is our father, our daddy. We can lean on Him, go to Him for advice, and rely on Him because He’ll never let us down. What an awesome example He is to fathers in this realm. My honey shows that godly love for our children with a smile on his face every day. Even when they’re acting like maniacs.

I know I’m so blessed that I still have my own father here on earth, and that he’s a loving, faith-filled Daddy. I am able to relate to God better in a father/daughter relationship because of my dad.

As we celebrate our fathers today, let us not forget God the Father, our Daddy in Heaven.