Saturday, May 26, 2012

Inspiring Tour - Littfin Truss

Littfin Truss
A family friend, Jack Littfin, owns Littfin Truss in Howard Lake.  My sisters and I spent time with his 3 daughters growing up.  Now that my sister Annie and I are home schooling, we hope to inspire our children and teach them, through mentors and real world experiences.  In March of 2012, Jack was generous enough to welcome our families into his business.  He gave us a personal tour of Littfin Truss.  He explained to us how he began his business, how it has changed and grown.  He also demonstrated the advancements in automation he has enjoyed over time. 

Wisdom for a lifetime
Jack shared some very wise advice with us:
1.  Know your numbers (math).
2. Be wise in spending, “when you make money, be sure to save it for when times get tough.  There are good and bad times; save for the bad ones.”  

The Beginning
Jack’s father was a builder and when Jack was young, he was able to help his father in his work.  He explained “I like building things and to help put ideas into reality.” 

Jack started his business in the 1960’s, supplying sheetrock and lumber to contactors and builders.  The speed of on-site labor was not good for the construction of trusses.  In an effort to increase productivity, in lieu of constructing the trusses on-site, they began constructing custom trusses offsite and delivering them to the construction site when needed.   This enabled builders to build their buildings faster.

From 1962 to 1982 they built houses, sheds and at this time, the economy was bad. 

Jack said owning a business is hard work.  “The first 30 years I worked very hard, but the last 20 have not required as much of me.”

Littfin Truss has two locations:
In Winsted they design 2 or 3 different types of trusses which enable them to create up to 100 different trusses.  They rely heavily on computers to design the trusses.  The design is based on a plan created with specifications provided by their customers, depending on the type of building to be built.

In Howard Lake they take the design, provided by the team in Winsted and build the trusses.

A truss is made of a top and bottom chord and bracing or webs.  They are fastened together by gusset plates.

Jack’s business is very seasonal; they typically expect a decrease in business of 25% in the winter months.  Therefore he employs a larger staff of 225, in the summer months contrasted with 100 in the winter.

Trees / Raw Materials
The production of trusses at Littfin Truss typically consumes 50,000 trees per day.  However, they plant 150,000 trees per day, thus trees for Littfin Truss, are a renewable resource.

Most of their trees come from British Columbia, Canada.  There are big saw mills.  They cut the trees into lumber and ship to the US. 

Littfin Truss buys 80% of their trees from British Columbia and Oregon, these are Spruce or Fir trees.  The remaining 20% are from the south, Alabama, where they buy Pine or Long Leaf Pine.
Southern Pine is the strongest; the stronger wood goes into the larger trusses.  There are 5 different grades of 2x4.  Poor grade is 800, and the better grades are 1250, 1800, 2400 and 2700.

2400 grade 2x4’s can make 30’ trusses where 1200 grade 2x4 is good for a 20’ truss. 800 grade is used in the webs of the truss and 1000 grade is used for the bottom of the truss. 

Lumber makes up 30% of Littfin’s cost in a truss, the rest of the cost is labor and overhead. 

The process of making a truss entails many different steps and typically takes from 5 minutes to one hour depending on size and complexity.  The following steps are followed in the truss production:
1. Unload the lumber from the railroad tracks on Littfin’s property.
2. Lumber is run through the saws and is cut to specification.  Each saw is run by computer and the specifications input into the computer to determine lumber size.
3. The lumber then is assembled and fastened together with gusset plates, which are applied at 50,000 psi.
4. The assembled truss is then loaded and ready for shipping to the job site.

In order to keep the employees safe and prevent them from dangerously heavy lifting, there are cranes over each work table that lift the trusses, which can weigh anywhere from 50 to 300 lbs.

Production Facility
Littfin Truss has a very large facility in Howard Lake, MN.  The building itself was a train building near the old Met Stadium in the cities.  The old building held 7 train tracks.  Jack took this building down and hauled it, trailer by trailer to Howard Lake to reassemble for his business. 

Thank you Jack; for a memorable, enjoyable and educational morning.  You absolutely inspired our children (and their mothers)!   

For more information, visit

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stand Up!

Dear friends,

Join with us as we fight President Obama's HHS Mandate with the second round of "Nationwide Rallies for Religious Freedom," taking place in cities and towns across the United States on June 8 at Noon.

This "Mandate" from Obama's Department of Health and Human Services attacks our religious liberties by forcing employers to provide abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization through their health plans (interfering with the free exercise of religion). It also narrowly defines what a religious institution is (the government establishing religion) and destroys the long standing constitutional tradition of protecting the conscience rights of the citizens of this country.
Christian hospitals, universities and charities are being ordered to obey the HHS Mandate, in direct opposition to Christian morals teaching.

Should this assault on our religious liberties remain, the logical next target will be those who pray outside their churches, i.e. 40 Days for Life and other prayer activities at abortion facilities.
Join with the TWIN CITIES Rally for Religious Freedom and help stop this unprecedented assault on religious liberty!

Maps & Directions
Skyway Map:
Directions to U. S. Courthouse:
Street Map - U. S Courthouse:
More Info:

The following link is for a PDF promotional flyer that you may print out and distribute where appropriate.

Our First Amendment freedom of religion is supposed to guarantee that we will not be kept from practicing our faith or be told what to believe or how to live out our beliefs by the government. That is why this mandate is an attack on all Americans and not just Catholics. And our freedom of religion is an individual liberty that does not hinge on the faith to which we belong. And because as people of faith we organize together into churches and other institutions for worship and living our faith, these churches and other institutions enjoy the same First Amendment freedoms. As Cardinal Dolan of New York stated in his February 24, 2012 letter to all Catholic bishops, "In the United States, religious liberty does not depend on the benevolence of who is regulating us. It is our ‘first freedom’ and respect for it must be broad and inclusive-not narrow and exclusive. Catholics and other people of faith and good will are not second class citizens. And it is not for the government to decide which of our ministries is ‘religious enough’ to warrant religious freedom protection."

Some final thoughts:
We have the deceptive voices of those attempting force this mandate upon us testifying that we are seeking to deny contraceptives. There is nothing in the efforts to stop the HHS mandate that will or is intended to deprive women of contraceptives (as noble an effort as that may be.) The mandate has not yet been put into place and women in the United States today have unprecedented access to contraceptives, often freely available at taxpayer expense. Planned Parenthood has built a billion dollar business on dispensing contraceptives with our tax dollars while building their abortion empire. There is no need for this mandate to make contraceptives available for little to no cost for women.

Our efforts are not an attack on the person of Mr. Obama, just the policies pertaining to this attack on our religious liberties. And this is not an attack on the healthcare law commonly referred to as "Obamacare." It is indeed a response to the attack on our religious liberties.

God is so faithful, as our prayers are always heard, but based on this post from Sheila Liaugminas, I believe we have an answer as well. God is so good.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Mother at Home - Chapter 5 - Faults & Errors

Faults and Errors

Abbott recommends that we not talk about children in their presence, neither positive nor negative.  If they are spoken about negatively, a child hears his conduct spoken of, and feels applauded. The little person is far more interested in the narration, the impression upon his mind is stronger. This child, unfortunately, was taught a lesson of disobedience.

Humility is a virtue that is essential for us all, but can and should be taught at an early age.  We as mother’s can affect this greatly in how we approach our children.  If our children are spoken about positively, such as parents speaking to one another of those innumerable little occurrences which are gratifying them, in the presence of the child and applauded, its little heart is puffed up with vanity.   Abbott suggests that we must guard against the possibility of his supposing that he does and says remarkable things, and is superior to other children.  “It is a Mother’s duty to approve children when they do right, and to disapprove when they do wrong.   Great caution should be used to preserve a child from hearing anything which will destroy that most lovely trait of character – a humble spirit. He further stresses that we not make exhibitions of our children’s attainments; again, the danger of exciting vanity.  The plaudits which the child receives in such cases puff it up in its own thoughts, and send it out into the world stuffed with pride and insolence, which must and will be extracted from it by one means or another. Now parents have no right thus to indulge their own feelings at the risk of the happiness of their children.

Abbott points out some extremes in exposing our children to others.  One extreme is secluding children altogether from society. How can we expect them to improve, or to become acquainted with the proprieties of life? They must listen to the conversation and observe the manners of their superiors, that their minds and manners may be improved.   Uncultivated manners and uncultivated minds will lead to awkward and clownish children.

The Other extreme is over exposure, wearying our friends by their presence and their ceaseless talk. These mothers deprive themselves and visitors of all enjoyment, and their children of all benefit. We do not like, even in imagination, to encounter the deafening clamor of such a scene.

Children must be taught not to interrupt when company is present, and not to interrupt his father.   I learned a great tip from my friend Tina:  When I am engaged in conversation with my husband or a friend, and one of my children needs my attention, they approach me, silently, and place their hand upon my hand.  To acknowledge them, I place my hand upon theirs, they know I will address them at the next logical pause and I do so.  It is beautiful.   My conversation was not interrupted; the person with whom I am conversing has no idea that my child even requested my attention and my child is addressed at a proper time.  He also recommends, in the presence of company, that children be taught to sit in silence and be able to listen.   Above all, they should not be thrust forward upon the attention of visitors, to exhibit their attainments, and receive flattery as profusely as your friends may be pleased to deal it out.  

Conversely, we should not be continually finding fault in them either.   It is at times necessary to censure and to punish, but very much may be done by encouraging children when they do well.   Abbott points out that there are great motives for influencing human actions: hope and fear.   Both are at times necessary, but who would not prefer to have her child influenced to good conduct by the desire of pleasing, rather than by the fear of offending.   Nothing can do more to discourage a child than a spirit of incessant faultfinding, on the part of its parent.   The results are discouragement and unhappiness.

Let a mother approve of her child’s conduct whenever she can. Let him show that his good behavior makes her sincerely happy. Let her reward him for his efforts to please, by smiles and affection.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

O Come Let Us Adore Him - The True Presence

Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist:

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "The Council of Trent summarizes the Catholic faith by declaring: "Because Christ our Redeemer said that it was truly his body that he was offering under the species of bread, it has always been the conviction of the Church of God, and this holy Council now declares again, that by the consecration of the bread and wine there takes place a change of the whole substance of the bread into the substance of the body of Christ our Lord and of the whole substance of the wine into the substance of his blood. This change the holy Catholic Church has fittingly and properly called transubstantiation." CCC1376

It is highly fitting that Christ should have wanted to remain present to his Church in this unique way. Since Christ was about to take his departure from his own in his visible form, he wanted to give us his sacramental presence; since he was about to offer himself on the cross to save us, he wanted us to have the memorial of the love with which he loved us "to the end," even to the giving of his life. In his Eucharistic presence he remains mysteriously in our midst as the one who loved us and gave himself up for us, and he remains under signs that express and communicate this love:

The Church and the world have a great need for Eucharistic worship. Jesus awaits us in this sacrament of love. Let us not refuse the time to go to meet him in adoration, in contemplation full of faith, and open to making amends for the serious offenses and crimes of the world. Let our adoration never cease. CCC 1380

"The Holy Eucharist is the highest expression of our life in Christ, for it unites us sacramentally to Christ in the Sacrifice of the Cross, which is made always new in the celebration of the Holy Mass."3

St. Paul tells us, the Eucharist is no ordinary food.  It is actually the Body and Blood of Christ according to the “tradition which I handed on to you, that came to me from the Lord Himself.”

St. Alphonsus Liguori tells us, know also that you will probably gain more by praying fifteen minutes before the Blessed Sacrament than by all the other spiritual exercises of the day. True, Our Lord hears our prayers anywhere, for He has made the promise, 'Ask, and you shall receive,' but He has revealed to His servants that those who visit Him in the Blessed Sacrament will obtain a more abundant measure of grace.“

John Paul II told us "this is the wonderful truth, my dear friends: the Word, which became flesh two thousand years ago, is present today in the Eucharist." 
"I encourage Christians regularly to visit Christ present in the Blessed Sacrament, for we are all called to abide in the presence of God.“

Eucharistic Miracles -

There are over 140 documented Eucharistic Miracles. 

Eucharistic Miracle of Lanciano – Italy 750 A.D
These images are of the Monstrance containing the Sacred Relics.

At the moment of the Consecration, the priest was tormented by strong doubts as to whether the Body and Blood of Jesus were truly present in the consecrated Host.   After Consecration he noticed that the Host had been transformed into Flesh and the Wine into Blood.
On March 4, 1971, a Professor presented a detailed summary of the various studies carried on the relics. Here are the basic conclusions:
The “miraculous Flesh” is truly flesh, made up of striated muscle tissue of the myocardium (heart).
The “miraculous Blood” is truly blood: the (color) analysis proves this with absolute and irrefutable certainty.
The immunological study shows that the Flesh and the Blood are definitely those of human being the test allows us to affirm that both belong to the same blood group AB, the same group as that of the man of the Shroud (of Turin) and the blood group typical of the populations in the Middle East.

There were no traces of the salts or other preservative substances used in antiquity to mummify corpses.
World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN), published in December of 1976 in New York and Geneva, it was declared that “science, aware of its limitations, is forced to admit the impossibility of giving an explanation.”

1263 Bolsena-Orvieto
Perhaps the best known miracle in which there was a lack of faith in the Real Presence was the miracle of Bolsena-Orvieto. In 1263 A Bohemian priest by the name of Peter of Prague was tempted into questioning the Real Presence. When he broke the Host after the Consecration he was stunned to see blood flowing from it and dripping onto the corporal (the square piece of linen on which the Host and chalice are placed during Mass). The bloodstained corporal was taken to the Cathedral of Orvieto where it is preserved to this day.

Jesus wants to help you, just ask Him:
“Jesus in the Eucharist, remains with us sacramentally to travel with us along our ways, so that with His power, we can cope with our problems, our toil, our suffering.
 – International Eucharistic Congress 1980, John Paul II

“He is in our midst, He dwells with us, full of grace and truth...he restores morality, nourishes virtues, consoles afflicted and strengthens the weak.” Pope Paul

Though we cannot see or touch the Body of Christ in the Eucharist, in reality, He is there.
Pray for faith to believe!

Jesus is Here:

There are MANY things to be curious about… be curious about this.  Many curiosities will lead you into trouble…  This one won’t. 

What to do when you adore?
Visit Him in the Tabernacle or at your Adoration Chapel".  You can pray before the very presence of Our Lord.
• Recite your favorite prayers
• Read the bible
• Contemplate acts of faith, hope, charity, thanksgiving, reparation
• Pray a rosary
• Whatever type of prayerful devotion that suits you before Our Lord
• You can just sit and say nothing simply keeping Him company, just as you would with a dear friend 1

For more information about Eucharistic Adoration, miracles, etc.  Please visit here.

1 - Bishop Jerome J. Hastrich  Gallup, New Mexico, U.S.A. EWTN
2 - Talk: "Jesus, True Presence in the Eucharist" Song: "Trust In Me“ CD: Our Catholic Faith
3 - Real Presence Eucharistic Education and Adoration Association.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Vocation of Wife & Mother - Growing in Holiness

Vocation of Wife and Mother
Growing in Holiness

By Kristen M. Soley

Our Vocation (Wife and Mother)
, according to Miriam Webster:  a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action; especially: a divine call to the religious life 8

Blessed John Paul II wrote, in a Letter to Women, thanking women, including wives and mothers. 
It reads - “This word of thanks to the Lord for his mysterious plan regarding the vocation and mission of women in the world, is at the same time a concrete and direct word of thanks to women, to every woman, for all that they represent in the life of humanity.

Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God's own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child's first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life…

Thank you, women who are wives! You irrevocably join your future to that of your husbands, in a relationship of mutual giving, at the service of love and life.”7

Our Vocation of wife and mother is a loving, selfless, charitable vocation.  When we serve our families, we are truly serving God.  It is a vocation, to which God has called us and it is through this vocation that God ultimately will sanctify us and prepare us  to meet Him someday.

Head vs. Heart – Each of us plays a distinct role in our marriages.  Our husband is the head of our household, and we are the heart of our home.
My confessor put it perfectly.  Each of us brings such different, but complimentary gifts to our home.  We are to respect and honor our husband’s judgment in matters of the head.  He, in turn, should respect and honor our judgment in matters of the heart.  God works through our spouse, as a channel of grace, and we also are a channel of grace for our husbands.   

The Holy Spirit works powerfully through our husbands, lovingly guiding us, through our husbands.  My husband never ceases to amaze me.  The Holy Spirit guides me beautifully through the wisdom he has given Nate.  Therefore, in marriage there is a mutual give and take, it is not an order barking submission 5

When we are called to honor and obey our husbands as the head of our home, who are we really obeying?5
Romans 13:11 “Every [a]person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.” 

God is the true head, and he has placed our husbands, here on earth, as His representative for our homes.

Ephesians 5:21-33 sums up perfectly this call, our vocation:
“…and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.  Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her… So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself”
• This is  not always easy to understand and can sound a little too humbling; we, nevertheless, need to take God’s word for it, assuming we call Him God for a good reason.
How do we do this?
• Read the Bible, the handbook for success (bible before breakfast & bible before Bed, Lectio Divina and journaling.)
• Pray, God will give us the graces we need to serve Him as he desires.
• Talk with your husband; ask him to lead your family, with loving respect for you. 
• Let him lead and take a step back, God will reward your humility.
• Pray to St. Joseph, for him to pray for your Husband, to lead your family to heaven.
  o We are not trying to be better than our husbands, our job, with God’s grace is to get him and our children to heaven. 
  o This can only be done with loving acts of charity and humility. 
  o When we make these changes in our behavior, our husbands will respond lovingly. 
  o Some neat ideas I was given from other holy wives and mothers:
       Try not to point out your husband’s mistakes. if it is no major consequence (we all make mistakes; how does it make us feel when he does this to you?). 
       Serve your husband first at meals.
       When your husband arrives home from work, give him your attention; see that the children are occupied so he may have a little peace and your attention when he arrives.
      Encourage him and point out his strength
      If he is primary provider, thank him for the sacrifices he has made for your family.
      When I began to treat my husband with the biblical respect he is worthy of, he started doing dishes without me asking, suggested that I go out with a friend or go for a jog. 
      The things I had been longing to do and or get done, he was doing without my asking and there was a love and joy in him that I had never seen.
      With God’s grace, I had empowered him to be the man God created him to be by humbling myself. 

Romans 12: 9 – 10, we are taught :Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing respect.
When we honor and obey our husband, we are truly honoring and obeying God. 

A good example of this humble honor and obedience is Mary…  She was 9 months pregnant and Joseph said to her, “let’s head to Bethlehem for the census.” Do you think Mary said, “you know Joseph, a ride on a donkey for 2 weeks is not in the cards for me right now…  My ankles are swollen and I can’t even bend over to pick up the water jars anymore.  Let’s hold off until after the baby comes, I am sure the census will still be going on.”  No, she did not, she humbly hopped on the donkey and headed to Bethlehem as Joseph suggested.

Then, Joseph wakes her and their newborn baby, in the middle of the night and says “get up and ready things, we must head to Egypt.”  Do you think she replies “Honey, seriously, it is 2 in the morning, I am tired. The baby has been nursing every 2 hours and I have not had a minute’s rest.  Let’s hold off until morning, after I have had a little rest, to prepare for this long journey.”  no she did not, again, she humbly obeyed. 

Mary did not question Joseph.  Here she is, the handmaid of the Lord, chosen, through her obedience, to bring the savior into the world, conceived without sin, and the Queen of heaven and earth… and she humbly submits to the authority of her husband, for love of God.    A better example one cannot find for our vocation.

Proverbs 31: 10 - 31 helps us to understand how to be the wife and mother that God calls us to be.
Description of a Worthy Woman10 An excellent wife, who can find?
For her worth is far above jewels.
11 The heart of her husband trusts in her,
And he will have no lack of gain.
12 She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
13 She looks for wool and flax
And works with her [h]hands [i]in delight.
14 She is like merchant ships;
She brings her food from afar.
15 She rises also while it is still night
And gives food to her household
And [j]portions to her maidens.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
From [k]her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She girds [l]herself with strength
And makes her arms strong.
18 She senses that her gain is good;
Her lamp does not go out at night.
19 She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her [m]hands grasp the spindle.
 20 She [n]extends her hand to the poor,
And she stretches out her hands to the needy.
21 She is not afraid of the snow for her household,
For all her household are clothed with scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for herself;
Her clothing is fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is known in the gates,
When he sits among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
And [o]supplies belts to the [p]tradesmen.
25 Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the [q]future.
26 She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the [r]teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
27 She looks well to the ways of her household,
And does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children rise up and bless her;
Her husband also, and he praises her, saying:
29 “Many daughters have done nobly,
But you excel them all.”
30 Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain,
But a woman who [s]fears the LORD, she shall be praised.
31 Give her the [t]product of her hands,
And let her works praise her in the gates. 2

So who is a Proverbs 31 Woman then really?

• She is an excellent wife who is worth more than jewels.
• Her husband trusts her; she does him good all his life.
• She works with her hands, sewing, cooking, etc.
• She wakes early and goes to bed late to keep things in order
• She contributes where she can, is resourceful, prudent and thrifty
• She is generous to the needy and sees her children are dressed appropriately, and presentably
• She dresses herself and her children so her husband can be pleased
• She is hopeful for the future and speaks wisely and teaches kindness
• She is a good manager of her home and idleness is not acceptable
• Because she obeys her duty, her children will bless her
• Her husband believes he has a wife that excels above all others
• She fears the Lord.

Becoming a Proverbs 31 woman is a very noble goal for each of us.  It is also what God expects of us.  So how do we do this?

First we need to fully grasp the gravity of our role in God’s plan for our salvation; our vocation. When I was working outside the home, I had no problem getting up at 4:30 AM to get to work, so I could get home earlier.  I had pulled all-nighters on big projects in the past.  I had never thought about doing this for my family.  However, I learned, this job, my vocation is far more important in the eyes of God, than my previous employment or any other job.  I needed to make an even greater commitment to my new job, my vocation, only with different goals and a way bigger boss. 

We will need our priorities in order, if we hope to glorify God in our vocation. I read a GREAT explanation of how to do this in the Bible Study, Women of Grace by Michaelann Martin.  Martin uses beans and rice to explain our priorities:

“¾ cup of beans and ¾ cup of rice will both fit into a one-cup container.  The trick is to put the beans into the cup first and then slowly pour the rice over the beans.  The rice will fill in the gaps and both will fit into the one-cup container.”  Try this when you get home, it really works.

"We all have ‘beans’ in our lives:  those high-priority items such as getting to Mass, daily prayer, and spending time with our spouse and children.  The ‘rice’ are items that don’t have as high priority, but we’d still like to get them done if we can.  The ‘rice’ in our life are the things like nightly soccer practice, organizing closets, and mowing the lawn. "

Martin encourages us to take time to evaluate the many activities in our daily schedule.  “When we do, we will soon see there is a hierarchy of importance, and our life can take on a new sense of order.”1  For awhile, after doing this bible study, I put my 1 cup of beans and rice on my window sill to remind me to keep my priorities in check, by keeping God first. 

Taking this a step further, I found, the book A Mother’s Rule of Life, by Holly Pierlot.  This gem really lays out the correct order to our lives nicely.  She calls them the 5 Priorities of the Married Vocation (or the 5 P’s).

The 5 P’s:
1.  First P = Prayer
2.  Second P = Person
3.  Third P = Partner
4.  Fourth P = Parent
5.  Fifth P = Provider

Our priorities “must be ranked according to importance.  Many marriages can get “out of order” when a lesser P is given priority over a higher P.” 4

1st P - Prayer – God calls us to get our personal life in order by establishing, as top priority, the care of our soul and body.  The use of Time is to reflect the importance of these activities.  Therefore, God comes first.  In lieu of never finding enough time for God in the midst of everything else, we have to work everything else around God. 4  When we put God first, by seeking Him and meeting Him through prayer, we build a strong foundation upon which our home, or Domestic Church, will be built. 
We are assured in 1 Corinthians 3:11 - For no man can lay a foundation other than the one which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

2nd P - Person – We need to care for ourselves, basic physical needs (sleep, exercise, food, vitamins, etc.) 4   Yes we are called to obey, to humble ourselves, but in order to do this effectively; we will need the graces we receive from time spent with God, a good night’s sleep, and good health.

3rd P - Partner – Our husbands come next.  A solid, loving marriage is the bedrock of family life, and so the next allotment of our time should be directed at our partners, our husbands.  We need to be available to them first and foremost, before all other activities. 4

4th P - Parent – We need to love our children in a conscious, consistent way. Try to be more available to them throughout the day.  Not just physically, but mentally available to them; laugh, talk and simply be with them. 4

5th P - Provider:  This constitutes a paycheck for some of us as well as caring for, maintaining, and repairing (as much as possible) our home and our resources, and, if time permits, earning extra income on a causal basis to help out financially (if we do not already work outside the home). 4

I have found, when my beans and rice and 5P’s are in order, God always makes things work, the way He intends it, and I am even able to find peace in His modifications to my plans.  When things are disordered, however, I find I am unsettled, anxious, short tempered and feeling like a failure. 

Our Vocation is not always a Vacation“The Church sees in Mary the highest expression of the "feminine genius" and she finds in her a source of constant inspiration. Mary called herself the "handmaid of the Lord" (Lk 1:38). Through obedience to the Word of God she accepted her lofty yet not easy vocation as wife and mother in the family of Nazareth.” 7

Our vocation is ordained by God, nevertheless, our duties are not always easy.  We are, however, called to serve God, by serving our families.  Jesus came for our salvation and also to be a living example of how to obtain salvation. 

How did Jesus live? 
Mark 10:45  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His [a]life a ransom for many.” 

It is a good idea to remember to take a step outside of ourselves... to see what God sees as daily we go from duty to duty.  God is the only judge that we need to consider and He is the only person we truly want to impress in our home.  We need to serve God in each task and person in our family by keeping our eyes fixed on Heaven.  That way, we can please God and our families!  God has entrusted our family to our care and we are called to be obedient to His call.

Our duty is repetitive, and at times, seemingly thankless.  Our days are filled with wiping noses, changing dirty diapers, house cleaning, spills, meal prep / cleanup, and the occasional 2:00 am laundry, made possibly by the flu virus, etc.

It would be far more fun to read a great book or check email, than iron a shirt or clean the ceiling fan blades. Nevertheless, we are called to obey within the duties of our vocation.  Acts of obedience glorify God and please Him greatly.  As Jesus told St. Faustina “My daughter, know that "You give Me greater glory by a single act of obedience, than by long prayers and [sacrifices].” Heaven knows we don't have the time for long prayers, but God has built into our day much opportunity for sacrifice!

In Hubert Van Zellar’s great work Holiness for Housewives and Other working Women, he states that “Religion is God.  Religion is recognizing God in His own setting. The setting is provided by God, not us…  So if God wills that you should be bowed over the sink instead of over the pew in your favorite church, then washing dishes is for you now, [and is] the most perfect thing you can possibly do.”  1 

Many of us long for daily Mass or more quiet time… but our duty just does not afford for this “alone” time.  That season may come for us, but it is not now.  As St. Francis of Rome says “A married woman must leave God at the altar to find Him in her domestic cares.” 

Right now, God wants us to find Him.  He is in our homes, in our children and our husband. 
We need to look for God in the midst of our duties.  If we leave our dishes, housekeeping, telephone calls, children’s everlasting questions, and ironing to take care of themselves while we go off and search for our Lord’s presence in prayer, we will discover nothing but self.” 1

I heard a great scenario that really helped me understand this, and embrace this truth.  Imagine, beautiful organ music in the background, a woman, peaceful, eyes closed, kneeling, contemplating Jesus at the Holy Mass.  Her face is illuminated with peace and joy as she ponders and celebrates this peaceful and quiet time with her Lord.  Now the camera cuts to home.  This woman’s husband has 4 screaming children, He is trying to get breakfast cleaned up so He can get an email sent to work about his 10:00 meeting, the phone is ringing and the baby had a poop-through, the toddler just hit the Kindergartner and they are both crying.  Is this woman really glorifying God?  Her duty is to serve God, in her home; to meet Him where He has placed her. 

It is in serving that we are served.  When I volunteered at Sharing & Caring Hands, serving those less fortunate, Mary Jo Copeland, as well as another man serving shared with me the beauty of serving these beautiful souls…  we are the hands and feet for Christ, “it is in serving that we are served.”  Right now, we are called to serve our families, in our homes…  when we do this with love, for love of God, we are being served tenfold for the love we give out.  He has placed us exactly where he wants us.  and it is here in the midst of our duty, the sicknesses, the messes, spills, hugs, kisses, stories, encouragement and character building, that we will find Him and He will meet us.  We are far from sisters in a contemplative cloister.  We are on the front lines of motherhood and wifedom…  “Once we really appreciate this truth, and act according to its implications, we save ourselves a lot of unnecessary heart-searching and resentment.” 1 

We are assured that if we can conquer ourselves and walk in the ways of God, in the vocation He has called us to; we will find our duties less difficult, which we thought so hard before.6  

I have learned so much from the wisdom-packed Volume Six, Direction for Our Times.  It provides a beautiful summation and consolation of the vocation to which God has called us as wives and mothers.
"June 9, 2004
Mary (an unknown saint) Speaks to Mothers
Dear mothers, you must serve tirelessly. Those who have not experienced motherhood cannot understand how hard it can be to work, performing the same tasks over and over. When you perform these tasks in love, great graces can be obtained for both your family and for the Kingdom. In this way you are directly contributing to the advancement of the cause of Heaven. Jesus is so pleased with this kind of cooperative service and He will reward you in countless ways. Cleaning your floors then becomes a divine service, as does washing your dishes, or cleaning the children’s clothes, or any of the hundreds of domestic chores you perform daily. I am in Heaven now and I have the benefit of such wisdom and knowledge. You would be overjoyed to see my reward, yet I was a simple housewife. I looked on my role of mother as a serious task." 3

Here is a great explanation of our vocation... made possible by my confessor, as told to his nephews... "...So if God calls you to the vocation of marriage and parent, you better be ready to die. Are you ready to die? You will die to yourself daily, only to let Jesus live in you, by serving Him in your family"

Our Vocation is Our Path to Holiness
God calls us to not look back, but to live in the present moment.  The grace we need to persevere, for love of God, in our vocation, can only be found in the present moment.   I am sure you understand, sometimes we take the day, a minute at a time, just to make it through.  That is the way God wants to meet us; not to get ahead of Him.  We should not look to the next duty, or even worry about it, until we have finished the task at hand, not saying a dirty diaper cannot interrupt our duty at hand because you know it will, but that again, is responding to God’s call, by living in the present moment and obeying God’s will for us.  The trick is to find God in it.

I have my own Mother’s Rule of Life, that I have prayerfully put in place to help me grow in holiness and maintain a level of sanity in our busy home.    I try to look at each task on my rule as my little offering or gift to God.  Now I will iron my husband’s shirts for You Lord, I’ll prepare supper for You, My Lord, I will sit with my children and read with them, for You, My Lord, I will was poop off the floor for You, My Lord.  You get the idea.

How do we understand God’s will for us in our day, or live in the present moment?  A wise confessor told me once, our vocation is not quite as simple as that of monastic living, but we can draw similarities.  He explained; there is such peace in a monastery.  The monks follow a rule which can be likened to a Mother’s Rule…  There are chimes throughout the day alerting them of prayer time, meal time, service time, etc.  When the bell chimes, they have 2 minutes to transition from the task at hand to the one before him.  Out of obedience to this rule, these monks are able to peacefully move from one duty to another, throughout the day, in absolute obedience and humble submission to God’s will.  Imagine the peace. 

It does not sound like our lives; or does it?  Our children and our husband are our chimes.  Our duty, or rule, if you will, is our chime.  I have found, when I follow my rule, each task becomes a gift for God, an act of obedience.  In the midst of a duty, a louder bell may chime (diaper, fight, or a necessary discipline).  I am called to move from the task at hand, as peacefully as possible, to that duty as directed by the chime, knowing that is God’s will for me at that moment.  Responding to our chimes, is responding to God’s will for us.  This response is selfless, and oftentimes asks of us a sacrifice.  This is our path to holiness, our path to Him.  Saying no to our chimes, is saying no go God.

We are assured in Romans 12:1-2   “1 Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, [a]acceptable to God, which is your [b]spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this [c]world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may [d]prove what the will of God is, that which is good and [e]acceptable and perfect.”

A friend shared with me a meeting she had with her confessor.  She confided that she did not believe she made enough sacrifices or fasted enough.  He responded, “You are a wife and mother.  Your sacrifices are built in; you need not seek them out.”

If we are open to God’s will, He will guide us clearly.  We will have absolute peace, even in the midst of trials.  It is an absolute truth that growing in holiness is laden in trials. 
Sirach 2:1-9 assures us  “My son, when you come to serve the LORD, prepare yourself for trials.
Be sincere of heart and steadfast, undisturbed in time of adversity.
Cling to him, forsake him not; thus will your future be great.
Accept whatever befalls you, in crushing misfortune be patient;
For in fire gold is tested, and worthy men in the crucible of humiliation.
Trust God and he will help you; make straight your ways and hope in him.
You who fear the LORD, wait for his mercy, turn not away lest you fall.
You who fear the LORD, trust him, and your reward will not be lost.
You who fear the LORD, hope for good things, for lasting joy and mercy.”
I know there are times when we all feel the heat of being “tested” like gold in the fire.  We are to trust God, and He will help us.

After confiding in my confessor, a day of perceived failure after failure in my vocation, he told me that there are some days in our vocation that the whole day will feel like a failure...  He said “we all suffer from the human condition, forgive yourself and begin again, tomorrow is another day.”
A good prayer in these situations is “Dear Jesus, please fill the gap of love I failed to meet in my children, today and every day.”

As Blessed Mother Teresa says:  “God has not called me to be successful; He has called me to be faithful. 

Trusting God in our Vocatin, Our Faith
Philippians 4:13 –  St. Paul assures us “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
As I have shared in the past, I had a personal struggle before my 4th child was born,  Charlie…  I had worked outside the home up till that point.  After he was to be born, Nathan and I agreed that I was to no longer work outside the home and be a stay-at-home Mom.  I was afraid that I would not do a good job because I lacked patience.  I stopped in at the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel at, on my way to my contract, and wept.  Imploring and entreating Jesus… I told Him, “I can’t do this; I am scared I will not do a good job with these precious gifts you have given me.”

I felt an absolute sense of peace and then Jesus laid his hands on my head and gently spoke.  He said “You are right, you cannot do it alone, but with Me you can.”   I have found His promise to be 100% true.  He is so faithful. 

But we can only receive the grace He has in store for us, if we are available to receive it; living in the present moment, responding to the need of the moment.  Oftentimes, He will change our plans.  We are called to adjust, and move forward. 

A great quote from Woody Allen “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him about your plans.”

The book of  Jeremiah provides some wonderful encouragement,  I hope you will find this to be true, as we embrace this wonderful, God-given vocation!

Jeremiah 29:11-14 “ For I know the plans that I [a]have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope. 12 Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will restore your [b]fortunes and will gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you,’ declares the LORD, ‘and I will bring you back to the place from where I sent you into exile.’ “

One last quote that I’d like each of us to embrace within and without our homes: 
“Never let anyone come to you without coming away better and happier. 
Everyone should see goodness in your eyes and your smile”

Kimberly Hahn has provided the most powerful witness to how, in our vocation, we are called to "Give it all to God."  Here is a link to the video.  Enjoy!

In the peace of Christ & His Blessed Mother,

[1] – Holiness for Housewives – and other working women,   Hubert Van Zeller
[2] – Proverbs 31: 10-31
[3] – Direction for Our Times, Volume I, Anne the Lay Apostle
[4] – Mother’s Rule of Life – Holly Pierlot
[5] – Women of Grace, Michaelann Martin
[6] – The Imitation of Christ, Thomas a Kempis
[7] – Letter to Women – John Paul II, From the Vatican, 29 June 1995, the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul.
[8] – Miriam

Friday, May 4, 2012

Giving it all to God

Let us all embrace this and give it all to Him. It is all His anyway!  :)

I heard this first on the Kimberly Hahn's, Mother's Rule of Life CD set.  I found this video In the Heart of My Home.  .