Monday, July 29, 2013

Dozens of cousins-- almost!

Back in January, when my sister first asked if I’d be willing to keep her three girls for a week this summer so she and her husband could vacation without them, I didn’t hesitate to agree.  My children immediately started coming up with ideas of all sorts of great things they could do with their cousins.  For seven long months we looked forward to it but finally....

This week has arrived!

On Saturday at 9 a.m. their minivan pulled up and my nieces jumped out ready for fun!  As a last minute change in plans, we also got my other sister’s 2 children for a couple of days.   So, I write these words to the joyful, heart-warming sounds of 10 happy cousins playing together.  They are: a 14 year old, a 12 year old, a 10 year old, two 9 year olds, three 8 year olds, a 4 year old, and an almost 4 year old.  Only my brother's two boys are missing.  At 18 and 13, they are probably not too sad to miss out on the "little" kid fun though.  

Watching the kids together reminds me of some of my best childhood memories.  I have SO many memories of playing with my own cousins as a child.  We would only get together once or twice a year but whenever we did, we would play made up games and elaborate pretend scenarios.  The time would fly by so fast as we had the times of our lives (with only a few little tiffs and disagreements popping up here and there).

My sisters both wished me luck and thanked me profusely as they drove away childless for the week, but, really- I feel like I should be thanking them for this chance to spend time with my nieces and nephew.  I absolutely love seeing all the kids playing so well together.  I actually love joining in their silly games and their crazy, fun ideas too.  :)  It's been two years since we have had ALL the kids all together like this and two years is a long time when you’re a kid.

Last week, I went to Pinterest and pinned tons of fun activities to do at home with a crowd of kids because I knew we would be housebound this week.  I can only fit 7 people in my minivan, so there is no way to go out to the park or the beach or even the store with the 10 children.  But, I have yet to use even one of those great ideas I pinned because the children are too busy making their own fun.  So far, there haven't been any tiffs or disagreements- just lots of giggling, lots of running around and wrestling, lots of happy screeching, and TONS and TONS of fun!  I’m afraid this week is going to go so quickly the kids will not fit in all they want to do together.....

Here are just a few of the 200 pictures I've taken so far!
Working on a picture showing the trip from Missouri to Florida

Playing bandits (in p.j.'s, right before bed)

Learning to crochet together

Friday, July 26, 2013

In honor of National NFP Awareness Week

I hesitate to write about NFP, because I firmly believe some things should just remain private.  That's why, I’ve never shared here, online, about my husband and my decision years ago to take the plunge and follow the Church’s teaching on family planning.  But in honor of National NFP Awareness Week, I wanted to say just a few words.  

When Tim and I first started really learning about our Catholic faith and getting to know other Catholic couples, there seemed to be a huge dividing line.  That line was labeled with three little letters- N-F-and-P.  There were those “good” devout Catholics on the one side and the not-quite-so devout “cafeteria style” Catholics on the other.  Now that I’ve experienced marriage on both sides of that line, I see things a little differently than I did back then.  I don’t necessarily believe that in our pre-NFP days Tim and I were not good Catholics.  We simply didn’t understand the theology or the reasoning behind it all.  I think (hope) we were the best Catholics we knew how to be at the time.  

Thankfully, God was patient in calling us to the “cross the line” so to speak.  Thankfully, Tim and I did answer His call.  NFP felt like a huge leap of faith and even now, after years and years of understanding and practicing it, it still requires faith every single day.  But, overall, it has been a huge blessing in our marriage.  We are certainly stronger for having taken the leap.  

So while it may have taken us a while to fully embrace, God knows we are committed to NFP.  He knows we want to want only what He wants for our family and that we will always follow the Church’s teaching in this (and every) area of life.  But, He also knows it isn’t always easy for us.  NFP can be a real struggle.  Being open to life and open to God’s plan when it may differ from ours can be overwhelming at times.   Having a big family and welcoming babies at God’s will, is, in and of itself, an immense leap of faith. 

            NFP has been an incredible blessing, but it has also been an incredible challenge- just like each of our beautiful children.  We will continue to be committed to it, and continue to be challenged by it, just like we are in raising each of our beautiful children.  NFP isn’t easy, but it’s what’s best for our marriage, for our bodies, for our souls, and for our life.  And if God’s plans are different than ours, we will trust that His are better and we will willingly follow wherever He leads us and accept whatever blessings He bestows upon us.  That is what NFP has taught us and what practicing it continually calls us too- trust in God and putting Him at the center of our lives. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


I’ve been telling myself for a while, “I should write about success.”  It has been forefront in my mind all summer.  What is success, really?  How do you measure it?  Where does failure fit in?  God has shed a lot of light on the subject for me, by speaking to me through various people- all of whom had great wisdom to share.

I was privileged to talk with writer and independent film maker, Pete Bauer, recently for a podcast on his blog (Have you listened yet?  You can hear our conversation here!)  We didn’t discuss the subject of success specifically but Pete shared with me a story that led him to understand that obedience is one of the most important steps to true success.   It got me thinking.

I would never have thought to list “obedient” as a trait of successful people but Pete was SO right.  If we are not obedient to God’s call in our lives, it doesn’t matter how much money we make, how many books we sell, or how many followers we have on the internet.  It means nothing apart from God’s plan for us. We cannot truly be successful people without being willing to listen to Our Lord.  And even more, we must be obedient to His call and always willing to accept His divine guidance.

So my first revelation on success is this—Success is completely dependent on God’s plan.  It cannot be achieved apart from what He wants for us and calls us to.  

A few days after that interview, I attended the IHM home school conference.  I had been looking forward to the conference for a long time but unfortunately was only able to attend for a little while.  I heard only two of the many talks given.  The two talks I heard were good.  They were somewhat thought-provoking even.  But, neither talk spoke to me on a deep level.  Neither one was exactly full of the inspiration and encouragement I was really hoping for.  

After the conference ended for the night, I got to talking with an old friend and a brand new one.  The fruits of that conversation were much more significant for me than the expert talks I had just heard.  My friends spoke of success in parenting and home schooling, but the lessons can be applied to other areas of life as well.  The following is a comment I left at SueElvis’ home schooling blog where she had, ironically, touched on many of the same points my face-to-face friends and I had discussed. 

“We discussed and reminded each other (and ourselves) that-- Our greatest reason for home schooling is love of our children.  Our greatest blessing of home schooling is time with our children.  Our greatest lesson of home schooling always boils down to love- love our family, love our neighbor, love the Lord with all we have.  And if nothing else goes right in all our years of home schooling- as long as we got the love right- our children will be better off.”

So, my second revelation on success is this—Success is empty and meaningless if it does not come from, and with, a loving heart.  Jesus summed up His whole message with this statement:  “You should love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength…… You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” Mark 12:30-31.  This is how Jesus, Himself, defined success.  He teaches us that, love is the mark of a truly successful life.  

And lastly, I had the chance to visit with one of my cousins recently.  I hadn’t seen him in nearly 12 years and had never had the opportunity to see him as a father.  We had a fun day of visiting while his 2 beautiful daughters played and giggled and bonded with my 5 children.   He and I got to catch up (along with his wife and his parents and my husband and my parents).  And then, we talked about where we are in our lives today.  

Growing up, I knew his passion was music and his greatest ambition in life was to be successful as a musician.  After being a part of a small Christian band in the 1990’s and then working for many years behind the scenes in the music business, he gave it up to be a third grade teacher in an inner city school and to focus on being a good husband and father. 

He shared with me, though, that he feels like he absolutely achieved his goals in music.  He toured the country with his band- seeing the world, sharing his music, and meeting new people.  He had the chance to work with musicians like Faith Hill, Amy Grant, and others.  He still writes songs, plays guitar, and records music on his own and he has found creative ways to incorporate music into teaching.    He’s not a well-known name in music.  He’s had no hit songs on the radio.  His band never hit the big time.  But, he knows in his heart that he is successful.

So, my third and last revelation on success is this—Success means being blessed to enjoy the gifts God gives us.  It isn’t about gaining the approval of others or the attention of the world.  It’s about sharing our talents and finding joy in using them to the best of our abilities.  

So, how do you measure success?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My First Podcast Interview!

Now available at my first podcast interview!  It was a fabulous experience to sit and talk with Pete Bauer, a fellow Catholic writer, about my book, the writing process, the importance of our Catholic faith in all we do, and more.  

Check it out to hear my first hand account 
of being a busy mom and a novelist.

Monday, July 22, 2013

My New Grand Opening!

After really thinking about blogging and life and writing and where it all fits in and how to make it all work together, this is what I came up with--  "Overflow" is out and "From My Catholic Perspective" is the new "me" in the blogging world.

I pondered it all for a few weeks.  I prayed about what direction God wanted me to go in.  And I discovered in my musings, that I don't dislike my blog where it is.  It is not super popular or fancy or specific but it is me.  It's about the things I love most- my family, my writing, and our home schooling journey primarily.  But the one thing that always connects it all, is the one thing I love most- my Catholic faith.  So, the blog has not changed much but I feel sort of renewed anyway.  

I have come to a place of understanding in my relationship with the internet world.  My blog is my little corner of the cyber world and it will only work if I am true to myself.  Which means, I will continue to write about my family, my writing, our home schooling journey, and whatever else is on my mind and heart to share.  The one unifying thing is that my thoughts and words will always (and have always) come from the viewpoint of my religious beliefs and my faith--  

From My Catholic Perspective!

The real super heroes

           Fictional superheroes are all the rage these days.  Batman, Superman, Ironman, Spiderman, and many, many others fill comic books and bring out movie goers in droves.  There is just something amazing about the ability to fly or bend steel with your bare hands or shoot spider webs from your wrists.  And a hero willing to go to great lengths to pull poor vulnerable victims from the clutches of danger makes for an irresistible protagonist.

            Even cooler than those made up comic book heroes, though, are the world’s real super heroes.  Some of whom can do even more amazing things than bend steel beams (the need for which doesn’t really come up that often in life anyway, does it?).   

Can you imagine a mere mortal being in two places at once?  Levitating up to 6 feet off the ground?  Or bringing back people from the dead?  With the power of God and a great devotion to serving Him in all things, all these things are documented “super powers” of different saints throughout history.  

Canonized Catholic saints may not sound like superheroes.  They may not rank up there with Superman and Batman on action figure sales or blockbuster movie deals.   But they are the true super heroes of history, known for the indescribably great lengths they’ve gone to to pull poor vulnerable victims from Satan’s clutches.

continue reading here....


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