Sunday, January 29, 2012

Courageous---for Women Too!

Friday night my husband comes home from work and tells me he has a surprise for me.  Then he shows me the movie Courageous that he stopped at the video store to rent for us to watch later.  Yes, it was a nice surprise.  We rarely go to the movies. We usually say that we will wait until it comes out on video, but then forget about it and never watch it.  Besides, most modern day films leave me feeling hopeless about our world instead of refreshed. But this was one that I had been wanting to see.

After dinner, we dusted off the TV in our bedroom and had a cozy date at home watching a movie together.   From the very first scene, I thought, "Wow, every man needs to see this!" With each new conflict that arose in the lives of these men, I watched intensely at how each man handled the situation.  I watched as they grew in their faith through each difficult task.  I liked watching the men talk about God, but loved seeing them actually talking to God.  I liked seeing them go to their pastors for guidance.  I liked watching them turn to God in their greatest time of need and hearing them talk to their wives and kids about God.   I loved seeing them read in their bibles.  It liked watching them bring other men closer to Christ.  I loved seeing them pray together.  This is what real men do. 

How many movies have you seen lately that openly talk about praying for God's help in tough situations much less show that happening?  How many movies actually show the characters going to worship the Lord on Sunday in a Church?  How many movies actually portray family values?  How many movies actually show kids listening and obeying their parents when something is forbidden?  Almost never!  This is a huge reason we rarely watch newly released movies.  I can never relate to the characters, settings, or plot.  They normally fill our heads with unGodly stuff, especially our kids.  This movie was different.  I felt hopeful after watching it instead of hopeless.

I kept thinking all night, "If only every "guy" could see this and realize that God has to be first for everything else to work right in their lives." I thought of all the things our boys could learn from this movie too.  I thought of the affirmation it gave for all the things we have been trying to instill in them as young men. I thought of all the marriages around us that had failed or were failing and thought.  If only...

The next morning I as sat drinking my coffee, I began to reflect back on the movie.   This time a different thought rang out loudly in my head.  Every woman needs to see this movie too!  We, as woman, can learn a great deal from this movie too.  Wives need to see how these woman allowed their husbands to be the leaders of their households, how they stood by and supported their husbands' decisions, and how they trusted their husbands.  These women helped guide their husbands along the way, but never over stepping their role as wife.  They didn't nag or complain (much) or manipulate their husbands even when their husbands made poor decisions.   They weren't out frivolously spending money, getting their hair and nails done, or sitting around with their girlfriends bashing their husbands.  Their kids didn't rule their households nor were they obstacles in the way.  I as thought more, I decided my girls needed to see this too.

As mothers, we need to teach our daughters how to be submissive to their husbands standing by them, supporting them as these women were.  We need them to know that this is much easier to do when you have a husband that follows Christ.  They need to know that they must have this kind of man for a husband in order to truly be respected, protected, and loved.  We need to teach our young ladies to set higher standards and demand the young men to reach them instead of lowering them for worldly men.   But we, as mothers, need to teach all of this to them by our example not just through a movie.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Satan Is After Us

Satan has been trying to knock us down all week, and yet, this has been a most wonderful week yet!  I know that seems crazy, but it's true.  I've heard that the closer your relationship to Christ becomes the harder Satan tries to break it up.  Well, this week he has tried all sorts of things to knock us down from our high, but has yet to succeed. 

Our week has been jam packed with wonderful spiritual events beginning with my attending the Magnificat breakfast and my husband's Cursillo.  We both felt a deepening of faith this weekend and affirmation of the path we've been taking.  We stayed up Sunday night talking for hours about what God had put into our hearts during the weekend.  It was so comforting to see that even though we weren't physically together that weekend that God had united us spiritually throughout the weekend in our thoughts and prayers. 

Monday evening we were blessed, literally, to have one of our parish priests over for dinner after Mass.   Dinner was followed by a blessing of our home and family.  We stood in our prayer room listening to Father read the Word of God, and I was overcome with joy and happiness.  As he prayed for the Holy Spirit to enter our home and hearts, I looked around the room at each of my kids and at my husband and prayed with him for my family as tears filled my eyes and a warmth filled my heart.  It was a truly wonderful evening. 

Tuesday night was my husband's return to Prairie Ronde for his Cursillo "follow-up".  This was another very enlightening night for us.  Again, I was so overwhelmed with joy as we stood next to one another singing God's praises and worshiping "Cursillo" style together for the first time.  We finished the evening with dinner at the restaurant of our very first date.  Even though the Cajun restaurant had become a Mexican restaurant and the atmosphere had changed drastically, I could still remember that first date perfectly.  And as we sat in that booth together, I thought back over the past 17 years and again was overwhelmed with joy and happiness.  We had changed so much since that first official date, but one thing still remained---I still felt my heart flutter when he looked across that table at me!

Wednesday night led us to the Family Missions Company for their send off of a family mission team to the Philipines.  While at Cursillo, my husband had met a missionary from FMC.  (Remember, I had read the book written by one of the founders and had just heard her testimony this past Saturday in person.)  We felt that God was somehow calling us to check this place out.  So, we called up a some friends and together made the one hour trek to FMC's retreat house.  From the moment we arrived, I felt that same joy that had overcome me the past couple of nights.  We shared a meal with the FMC families, listened to their testimonies, and joined in their praise and worship.  And once again, the tears filled up my eyes and the warmth filled up my heart as I looked around the room at all of these Spirit-filled people God had led together on this stormy night.

So, where was Satan in all this Spirit-filled joy?  He was hard at work each day trying to hinder our evening plans.  He was causing all sorts of problems in our daily life---cooking issues in my kitchen Monday to keep us from Mass, work problems on Tuesday to keep us from Prairie Ronde, blowing out tires and sending tornadoes on Wednesday to keep us from FMC, and kid issues all week trying to make us doubt ourselves as parents!  But with each "bump" in the road, we kept our cool and prayed for God's guidance and as always He confirmed our path and showed us the way.

It's often easier to just give up when obstacles are put in our way and think, "Oh, well, it wasn't meant to be."  You have to really stop and pray about where these roadblocks are coming from.  It is God trying to deter us from something that's not in His plan for us, or is it Satan trying to deter us from God's plan.  If you take the time to pray about it, the Spirit will always guide you through it.  I'm so grateful that we didn't miss out on any of our of joyful, Spirit-filled, and powerfully moving experiences this week.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Seilhan Funny Farm

Some of you may be wondering why my URL address is seilhanfunnyfarm, but my blog title is Better or Worse and really hasn't been funny at all.   Well, my blog spot was set up years ago right after moving from town to the country.  After a few months, we began calling our place the Seilhan Funny Farm due to a large number of "adventures" that weren't really funny at the moment to us, but seemed to entertain our friends and family.  So, I created my blogspot thinking that I was going to be writing about the not-so-funny adventures at the Seilhan Funny Farm.  Well, I never really found the time to actually sit down during those years to write about our adventures.  Last week, I was reminded of one of those adventures and looking back I realized that it was all part of God's plan in my life. 

It was always my husband's dream to move out to the country and have animals like he had when he was a boy.  I wasn't really a country gal, but not really a city gal either, so it really didn't matter to me where we lived.  My problem was the animal part.  I am not a fan of animals at all!  I know they are part of God's creation and are really beautiful and unique in their own way.  I love looking at them---from afar.  I certainly don't care to have them as pets.  They smell.  They make a mess.  They cost money.  I knew that with my husband's work schedule, I was going to have to take care of them when he was gone.  So, I made a deal with him.  "When you get a job that allows you to be home every night, I will move to the country."  And if you read my last post, God listened to our prayers, and he was offered a job that allowed him to be home every night.  At that point I had to live up to my end of the deal.  I even helped look for a new place, and low and behold, I'm the one that discovered the ad in the paper for our new country home.

My husband called and got the address, and we headed out to look at the place.  The property was beautiful---slightly hilly land with lots of trees and a HUGE barn in the back.  The only drawback was this tiny little pink farmhouse.  Could we fit all of us in this house?  We pulled into the driveway and saw a very old brick patio around a tree in the back of the house and a screened in porch.  Yes, I could definitely see lots of family BBQs on that patio.  So, we ventured inside to find a very old, outdated TWO bedroom, ONE bath house.  There was no way we could all fit in this house without killing one another, but we sure were going to try!

Anyway, after several years of remodeling and adding on, we are finally settled in and are comfortable.  We still have a long list of things that need to be done, but nothing that can't wait.  As I look back at all of the happenings at Seilhan Funny Farm, most of these adventures caused the same pattern for me.  They caused me much irritation, frustration, and many times anger.  Then later that adventure led to laughter.  Now that I sit and look back on them, I can see how much we not only learned as a family but grew as a family.  With each mishap, trial, adventure, we learned to rely on God a little more each time.  I can see how all of these hardships were actually little blessings along our journey.  Even chasing the donkey at 7:00 am in my PJs and rubber boots helped to lead me closer to where I am today.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Until Death Do Us Part

Ok, so far my blogging has all been about the "better" and not the "worse."  I have to admit since we have been making these major changes in our life, there hasn't been much "for worse" in our marriage, but I know that can change in a heartbeat because it has many times in the last 15 years.   There were lots of "for worse" times in our marriage, but we made a promise to each other before God, and we have honored that promise through thick and thin with a lot of help from above.

When we first got married, I was the perfect little wife. (I was!  He approved this statement!)  I got up and saw him off to work, fixed him lunch when he came home at noon, and had supper on the table when he got home in the evenings.  The apartment was always neat and tidy.  His clothes were always clean and pressed.  We were young and so in love.  We lived that blissful life for about two months!  Then I started back at college and got a part-time job.

Slowly, things began to change.  I began to change little by little.  I stayed in bed when he got up because I had been at class the night before and was tired.  We didn't have lunch together because I had a part-time job and our lunches rarely overlapped.  I didn't cook supper because I went to school in the evenings.  We rarely saw each other during the week, and the weekends we spent traveling the three hours back home because I was homesick, or it was spent entertaining family or friends that had traveled to see us (and the beach). We starting arguing often about silly stuff, so the little bit of time we did see each other was not so blissful.  We blamed it on the lack of time spent together, the pressures of school, and the worries of things going on back home that we weren't there for.  "It will be better when we moved back to Louisiana," we told each other.

Two years later, I graduated from college, and he was out of the Air Force.  We were finally going to move back home and start our family and be blissfully happy once again!  But in the following years, we had trial after trial in our life.  We had trouble conceiving, followed by miscarriages, followed by high-risk pregnancies, followed by two sickly babies, followed by a special needs baby, followed by all 3 babies needing multiple surgeries, and were flat out exhausted---financially, physically, and emotionally.  We had no time for each other, no time for our marriage.  But through it all we kept praying together, kept going to Mass, and stuck by each other because we had promised, "For better or worse, in good times and in bad, for richer and for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part."And we kept telling ourselves and each other, "One day it will get better!"

During all those years, I had begun to let my guard down and had let the world lead me astray as a mother and wife.  I put being a mother before being his wife because that's what the world says---children first, right?  The children needed me.  He was big enough to tend to himself.  I had allowed the world to fill my head with "women's lib" stuff.  I had forgotten all about that bible passage we chose to be in our wedding ceremony.  You know it....the one that says I should be submissive to my husband.   This was not in MY plans anymore. 

This was partly caused by his work schedule.  He first worked 5 on and 2 off making him only home on the weekend when life was more relaxed.   He was rarely home, so I had to do everything myself when he was gone.  Later, his schedule became 7 on and 7 off.   When he was home for a whole week, he seemed to just get in the way.  He didn't know our routines and schedules.   I longed to have a "break" like he got every week.  So, I began to count down the days until my "relief" got home not  the days until my husband came home.  Then I would get so stressed out because he "would do it wrong" and get everything out of whack when he tried to "relieve" me!  He didn't understand how hard it was on me to be a "single" mom, and I didn't understand how hard it was for him to be away from us so much.  And so we continued on, praying for things to get better---to be blissfully happy with each other again.  And we told each other, "It will be better when he finds a new job that allows him to be home more."

So, hearing our prayers, God answered with a job offer that allowed him to be home everyday.  The catch---HUGE cut in pay.  Was it worth it? Could we make it?  Well, we had lived on less before and God always provided for our needs, so he took the job.  Everything was wonderful for about a few weeks.  Then the kids began to ask, "When's he leaving again?"  And I answered, "Never!"  We had grown so accustomed to our lifestyle without him that we didn't know what to do with him here full-time.  And I didn't know how to give up all the control I had "earned" all these years over everything in our lives.  And so the stress continued on, and we continued to pray for help and guidance. 

And as we prayed, we grew in our faith.  As our faith grew, so did our relationship with each other.  It still wasn't "blissful", but things were beginning to change.  I was beginning to change.  I was sitting in a Holy Cross class one day listening to my teacher explain the differences between male and female.  Yes, I knew we were different, but listening to her explain those differences and how God made us to be different, so that we could compliment each other, set off a whole warehouse of light bulbs in my head! It was at that moment that I understood that my husband will never be able to do all of the things I do, the way I do them, because he wasn't created to do them like me.  We were not "equal" as in "same." Why wasn't I taught this before?  Why weren't we teaching this to our young girls? This started a whole new journey for me.

From that point on, I began to look at my husband through different eyes.  I didn't change over night, but started to look at each day, each event/happening, each moment with a new perspective.  I began reading and studying this more and really praying about my role as wife and mother.  The more I learned and prayed, the more I saw how "worldly" my views had become over the years. I started to change little things in my daily life such as how I greeted him when he came home in the evenings.  Instead, of bombarding him with all the woes of the day or a list of things that we needed to accomplish that night, I greeted him with a smile and a kiss and asked about his day.  It was amazing how one little change could create a huge ripple effect.  So, I decided to make more small changes over the next few weeks and months.  The ripple effect started turning into beautiful waves in our life.   But it still wasn't enough to get that "blissful" marriage back like I wanted.  I needed to do one last thing.

This was the hardest part of this change for me. I had to give him total control of his household.  After 10 years of making most of the decisions, it was hard for me to change my ways and let him lead the family.   Anyone who knows me knows that I am a "swoop in and take charge" kind of gal.  It was hard for him too.  He is an easy-going kind of guy that usually just went with the flow trying to take the path that made the least amount of ripples.  It took him some time to adjust to all of the changes that had been happening and to accept the charge of his family again.  We really didn't see all of this happening at the time and didn't really take stock of what had happened until much later when one day we realized how blissfully happy we had been!

Looking back we saw that God had been slowly working to answer our prayers by helping us get back to the foundation of our marriage---Him first, each other second, and children third.  After that the rest of our lives have steadily been falling into place.  God is good!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Big Purge of 2011

So today I got to hear the testimony, in person, of the lady who basically gave me the courage to "jump" and trust God completely.  About a year ago, a friend gave me this book to read.  It sat on my nightstand in a pile of "must reads" for a while.  Finally, one day I picked it up and didn't put it down until I was done.  No laundry got done, kids fended for themselves, etc.  I read it from cover to cover that day.  This woman's story was amazing and so inspiring.  From that point on, I knew that if God was calling us to do something, he would provide for all our needs, even though I had lots of proof of that in my life already.  It was more confirmation!  I just had to trust Him completely.  So, I did!

This book also inspired our BIG PURGE of the unnecessary things and people in our life.  She and her family had given up everything.  Absolutely EVERYTHING to follow God's call.  If she could do that, then we could give up some things, right?  We had already begun to clean out our house and lives---little bits at a time, here and there, over the previous year.  But it wasn't quite like the "Big Purge of 2011."  As good as it felt to clean out, throw away, and give away trash bags of stuff every so often, it felt so freeing to throw out the excess material things that were cluttering up our home and lives. We had already parted with most of the stuff that seemed to keep us from putting God first.  But those things that we hadn't had the courage to throw out because "so and so gave it to us" or because "we might need it one day even though we hadn't used in our 15 yrs of marriage", all went out the door this time.

Like in the book, our family and friends thought we were crazy.  (We are!) The author mentioned that her mother even came and purchased things at her garage sale "just in case she came to her senses and wanted her stuff back."  I laughed at this part when I read this.  A few weeks later when my own mother took things I was throwing out so the kids could still have them at her house when they went there, I started to get irritated and then remembered that part and chuckled to myself.  That's what grandmas are for anyway, right?  Today, during her talk the author mentioned that she still prays for her siblings.  I wondered if it was because they still think she's crazy after 40+ years and then wondered if people will still think we've lost of minds 40 years from now, or if we will have found them by then.

My kids are not deprived because we got rid of the hundreds of Disney movies (that really weren't written for kids) that had accumulated over years of birthdays and Christmases.  They are not saddened by the loss of the hundreds of kiddie books that we bought them and read to them as toddlers.  They aren't going to grow up and hate me because I threw out their favorite Strawberry Shortcake book from when they were two.  They aren't sobbing over giving their never played with or played with once toys that cluttered up their rooms and made cleaning their room take hours to the poor kids that had none.  They actually fight less because there is less to fight over. ;-)

They aren't going to go off the deep end because we got rid of their TV and limit their TV watching and video game playing.  They actually don't ever ask to watch TV anymore, and when I try to get them to find something "good" to watch they actually complain about not finding anything and usually turn it off.  They one thing they do ask to do is play the Wii.  This is something we thought long and hard about.  But "reasoned" that this is something that we all enjoy playing "together" as a family.  (Remember, you can reason just about anything back into your house.)  But we do keep all video games and electronics to a minimum and monitor all content very closely.  They are usually earned and played all together.

So without TV, video games, movies, and useless toys, what are they doing?  They are reading more (even those that hated to read), studying more, learning new "useful" skills, and are praying more.  And when your life is filled with reading, studying, and praying, you just become happier.  It really has changed all of us.  Christmas this year wasn't a huge headache.  They actually didn't ask for "junkie toys".  They mostly asked for books including prayer books, tools, new classes/lessons, & cooking items.

I look forward to the "Bigger Purge of 2012" and more changes in our live.  I know that God isn't finished with us yet and has something BIG planned for our family.

FYI:  The book was Go! You Are Sent.  The author and today's speaker was Genie Summers.

Friday, January 20, 2012


During our decision making process, I searched and searched and searched through numerous home-schooling curricula and textbooks.  Most of them contained the same ole' grade-level objectives and standards that I had grown to loathe over the last twelve years of teaching.  Some of them used bible quotes or verses intermingled throughout and, therefore, called themselves "Christian" or even "Catholic".  But these were still basically the same textbooks that I was running from.  I wanted something different, something meaningful, something challenging, something spiritual but not watered-down.  Something that was going to make a difference in our present life and in my kid's future.

Like I said in my last post, God kept dropping people and things in our path way before we knew what was going to happen.  It all began when a friend mentioned this "online school" to me in passing.  She told me about this awesome Catechism class.   Months later, she mentioned it again.  So I went to check out this "Catechism" course.  It was just that-- The Baltimore Catechism---explained.  I looked it over and read a sample lesson and then sighed thinking, "How nice would it be to actually teach THIS in Religion class!"  I closed the website and went to bed to dream of actually teaching my faith.  Over the next few weeks, I did alter my religion lessons to include more Church history and Church teaching.  My 5th graders really enjoyed that more than the "Love Everyone" lessons and stories in the books.  It kept leading them to ask more questions and to seek the truth.  I was really enjoying teaching again, and they couldn't get enough of "Religion" class.

In the next few months, I began to question friends that home-school about what programs they used.   They all mentioned this same "online school"; even if they didn't use this school, they told me to check it out.   One day it finally "clicked"---that was the awesome Catechism course's website.  I knew that the other courses had to be just as awesome.  But as I began looking through the course descriptions, I became terrified!  Latin??? Greek???  World Chronology??? Rhetoric???  This was crazy!  I didn't understand half of what was described on those pages, and I was a "college graduate".  I did check out the Catechism course again before closing the website and thought, "Boy, that Catechism sure does look great!  But Latin? Greek?  No way.  I'll keep looking!"

After praying again for God to lead us in the right direction, a close friend sent me a link to this "Parent Forum" to read this post to help confirm some of the changes we had been making.  You guessed it!  The link sent me back to this same "online school" I had been to twice already.  That night I spent hours reading not only that post, but numerous posts on that forum from parents all over the world just like myself, making changes in their lives and in the lives of their families.  It was such a confirmation to me that we were on the right path and left me wanting more.

That night, and for many nights over the next few weeks, I plowed through that forum seeking answers, understanding, and confirmation.  At this point it was clear that the Catechism course was right on with what we wanted for our own kids, so we signed them up and began learning the Catechism together in the evenings after school/work. (We'd find something else to use for those "core subjects" if we started to actually home-school.)  It was amazing!  I learned so much about my faith that I had never learned in my 12 years of CCD.  I kept questioning my husband who had gone to Catholic school if he had ever learned this "stuff".  Nope---not in CCD nor in the Catholic school.  Meanwhile, our kids were soaking in every word and were grasping things much better than we were because they were still so innocent and their minds had yet to be corrupted by the world.  They began to change before our very eyes and began to challenge us in our daily, spiritual lives.

Eventually, I came to understand (sort of) what this online school really was.  Words like classical and liberal arts kept popping up everywhere.  God kept dropping articles about the benefits classical-style of learning in front of me continuously.  This was a totally different way of learning.  It was meaningful. It was challenging.  It was how the majority of the saints were taught.  It was exactly what I had been looking for---minus the Greek and Latin.  But God had more bread crumbs to drop on my path.  I ended up on a retreat where the speaker spoke of the language of the Church and then led the most beautiful decade of the rosary guessed it Latin!  In the next few weeks, the "Latin" kept coming up here, there, and everywhere.  So, I did more research, more reading, more studying, and found that this Classical Liberal Arts Academy was exactly what I had been searching for including the Latin!

So, here I am ten months later, listening to my kids recite a beautiful rosary in Latin, with the biggest smile on my face, the biggest tear in my eye, and the warmest fire in my heart, humbled by how much they have learned and grown in ten short months and a little jealous that they are learning and growing at a much faster rate than I.


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

When Did All This Happen?

Although it may seem to many that this all happened overnight, it didn't.  We didn't wake up on the "crazy" side of the bed and say 'Let's turn our life upside down today."  We had known for awhile that God had been calling us to make some changes.  (And he still is!)  We began by making little changes over the last few years, but the changes were never enough.  There was always something lacking, something missing.

I had always felt a desire to home-school our kids.  Being a teacher, I knew the benefits of one-on-one education.  It was frustrating to see my child struggle with something that I knew he/she knew, but needed a little extra time on or to be shown a different way.  It was also frustrating to see my child understand something right from the start and have to sit and wait for everyone else before they could move on.  I also knew what was happening and being discussed on the playgrounds and in the cafeterias from the earliest ages.  Even the best teachers out there, can't completely control what is done on the playground or in the classroom for that matter.  I knew that my kids could learn and grow so much more if we, as the primary educators of our children, took charge of what and when and how they learned.

But as with every situation, you doubt yourself, you doubt your spouse, you even doubt if this is really what God is calling you to do.   Remember, my last post?  You can reason yourself into or out of just about anything if you aren't careful.  And for awhile we did.  We came up with reasons why home-schooling would not work in our lives.  The top reason every year was money!  We couldn't "afford" for me to quit my job.  This was the most ridiculous excuse ever since I worked at a Catholic school for basically nothing and then gave most of my paycheck back to the school in the form of tuition, lunch bills, field trips, fees, classroom supplies, etc.

Then we had friends and family that already thought we were crazy and depriving our kids of so much with just the minor changes we had been making.  They would really think we'd flipped our lid especially when we knew what they thought about home-schooling families.  So, we continued to put our kids lives into the hands of others again and again for basically two reasons:  (1) fear of not having "stuff" which we really didn't want or have anyway and (2) fear of what others would think of us.

Our big "epiphany" finally came when our son fell off of a horse and broke his elbow.  He had to have surgery which meant he was out of school for a while and so was I.   It didn't take long to realize that this is where I needed to be---home with my kids, all of them, everyday!  What normally took an entire school day he completed and mastered in about two hours.  The supper that was normally thrown together at 5:00 pm was simmering on the stove by 2:00.  We actually had time for the family time we kept trying to squeeze in everyday with our kids.  The household chores Travis and I did after 10 pm were done by 10 am, so we could actually have real adult time after the kids went to bed every night. 

During those two months, we had to learn to live off of one salary instead of two.  Remember, this was what we had always considered as our biggest obstacle.  We had to look at our budget very closely and decide what was really necessary and what we could do without.  That's when we began to "see" that it just might be possible to do this full-time!  At that point we began doing some heavy duty praying for God to give us the strength, knowledge, and courage to follow His lead.  From that moment on, things just kept falling into place for us.  Every person we met, every place we went, every thing that happened lead us one step closer to this life.  It was as if He was dropping a line of bread crumbs for us to follow.  That line eventually led us to the end of a rope.  The next step was to let go of the rope and jump!  And so we jumped and as always He caught us!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Where Am I Going?

Honestly, I have no idea!  But my goal is Heaven!

So, that means I have to look at everything (including people) my life daily and decide if it is helping me or hindering me in achieving my goal.  This has got to be the toughest part of this journey we are on.  Daily Mass, regular confession, Adoration, daily prayers, doing charitable work, etc. are all tough to keep up with, but that's a breeze compared to letting go of things.  That was and still is the hardest part of the life changes we've been making.

It's hard to step back and look around at your life and see where all your time, energy, and money has gone.  We never lived "extravagant" before or so we thought.  We never splurged on much, didn't take extravagant vacations, didn't buy expensive name brand items, didn't eat out often, etc.  We didn't buy our kids everything they wanted or asked for.  We were very sure that we were ahead of the game.  Of course, when you compare yourself to the Jones family, it's easy to see what all you don't have or don't do and to tell yourself you're not wasteful.  But when you sit down and take a hard look at your life and compare it to the truly poor, it's shameful!  The amount of things wasted, the amount of money wasted on material things, and the amount of time wasted was truly an eye-opener for us!

As we began to take stock of our house, we realized how out of hand things had become.  The closets were jammed packed with clothes when so many were naked.  We didn't buy expensive, name brand clothes.  But somehow buying less expensive/on-sale clothes gave us a license to buy more than was needed and necessary.  It was shameful to pull out clothing items that still had tags on them that had been forgotten about and outgrown.  We narrowed our closets down to a just a few necessary items such as school uniforms, church outfits, and work/play clothes.  And not many of each, so yes, you will see us in the same clothes often.  Does that truly matter?

Once the closets were sifted through, we moved on to the DVDs, toys, video games, books, etc.  The amount of money that had been wasted on "stuff" that was hardly ever played with or used was sickening.   This is when we realized that things we had at one time forbid had snuck their way into our house at some of our weak moments.  We looked at everything with new eyes and asked, "Does watching/playing/listening to this help us on our journey to Heaven?"  We gave a great deal away and threw a great deal in the garbage, but still have a long way to go.

Our next major change was in our food consumption.  It was sinful to actually see the amount of food wasted in our house when so many were hungry.   A bite here, a bite there---adds up to a lot of wasted food.  Not only did I begin cooking smaller amounts, but we started serving ourselves smaller amounts.  We quit eating to the point of being stuffed. (Gluttony?)  Even though I was never a fan of "prepared" foods, lots of them had snuck their way into our pantry and freezer because of their convenience.  We cleaned that out too.  It's amazing how much we truly can live without.  We are not only being less wasteful and greedy, but eating better too. 

Remember, I said this was the toughest part of our journey; a part that we continuously revisit.  It's amazing how many really good excuses we can come up with about why such and such or so and so "is or could be" a good thing.  If we aren't careful, we can reason everything right back into our life.  It's a daily job that we have to be very vigilant about.

Although we are not completely rid of all that excess baggage, we are well on our journey to our destination.   We have to continually ask ourselves, "Where are we going?"

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

What's My Day Like?

After the "Why?" with the wrinkled nose, the next question usually asked is "How do you do it?" or "What do you do all day?"  Well, here's my day Monday-Thursday.

 5:00 am    Alarm goes off.  I turn it off.

 5:30 am    Second alarm goes off.  I get up and wake the kids up.
                 Travis is usually gone already.
                 We say morning prayers and get dressed for Mass (M, W, F).
                 T & TH we sleep an extra hour!

 6:00 am    Leave for Mass

 6:25 am    Mass

 7:10 am     Drop Philip off at school and then pick up my extras for the day.

 7:30 am    Arrive back home.
                 Get extra homeschoolers started on their day.
                 I cook breakfast while kids tend to horses and morning chores.  

 8:00 am   Liturgy of the Hours: Morning Prayer

 8:30 am   Feed the baby

 9:00 am   Quiz kids on memory work, help as needed, and do laundry.

11:00 am   Noon Prayers/Lunch Time/PE/Feed the baby

12:00 pm   Continue with school work, household chores, etc.

 2:00 pm   Finish up school stuff.
                Music, Drawing, Piano, Cooking (supper), Feed the baby, etc.

 3:00 pm   Extras begin to leave.  Free Time.

 5:00 pm   Kids do evening chores while I get supper finished.

 6:00 pm   Supper, Baths, Family/Free Time (movie night, game night, etc.)

 8:00 pm   Night Prayer

 8:30 pm   Lights out for kids.  Quiet time for parents!!

Yes, it a full day, but there's no homework once the school day is done or housework left besides dinner dishes after 1:00 pm.  There's no place to rush off to after school or work---no practices, meetings, etc. unless we decide to go somewhere together.  Yes, we get up early, but we go to bed early and probably get more sleep than others.

No, it doesn't run smoothly on schedule everyday which is one of the benefits of homeschooling---we don't have to stay on schedule everyday! 

Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Homeschool?

In the few months that we've been homeschooling, I've noticed that when I tell people we home-school there are two types of reactions.  The person immediately looks at my kids with a pitiful, "I'm so sorry" look and give me the "Are you crazy?" look OR they smile and say "Wow!  That's awesome."   Both types immediately begin to question the kids about their feelings about being home-schooled.

I've also noticed that the person's initial reaction affects how my kids answer their questioning.  If their reaction was negative or they ask their questions with wrinkled noses, my kids are very reserved with their answers.  They will put their head down and say things like, "It's ok."  Or if the person was really negative towards homeschooling, I have one that will agree that it's horrible.  On the other hand, if a person reacts positively about homeschooling, my kids will excitedly tell them all the great things they have learned.  They will talk about how much they like being home. 

The best is when they try to question my dear husband about how he likes having his kids home-schooled.  As if, I made the decision all by myself, and he, like the kids, were forced into this crazy idea.  His response is always the same, "I love it!  I haven't had to do laundry since!"

But the question everyone always asks is "Why?" so, here's my Top Ten List:

1.  We are the first and most important teachers of our of children---the Bible says so.

2.  We are able to instill our faith, morals, and values all day long and do not have to undo what was learned at school from others.

3.  We set the examples by which we want them to follow and train them to be leaders.

4.  We choose what they learn and when they learn it, or what they don't learn.

5.  We choose who they will socialize with and when, and we don't have to worry about what they learn on the playground.

6.  We teach things you don't learn in elementary school---cooking, sewing, pet care, knitting, woodworking, laundry, etc.

7.  We can move at a faster pace, because we don't have to wait for next week's test if we know it now.

8.  No time is wasted during the day waiting for others, standing in line, etc.

9.  We can take off whenever we want and go on meaningful family field trips.

10.  We spend more time together as a family and with extended family members learning and growing with each other building strong relationships.

Friday, January 6, 2012

How Did We Get Here?

One simple the grace of God!

Travis and I married young by modern society's standards, but back then we knew what we wanted and didn't want.  We had this ideal life planned out and would live happily ever after with a house full of smart, wonderful, well-mannered, well-behaved kids.  We were going to put God first above all else and were going to teach our children to do the same.  We were going to have family meals everyday at the table.  We were going to have quiet time each night for us.  We were not going to be the family that ran around hauling kids here, there, and everywhere.  We weren't going to let the kids' schedules run our life.  We weren't going to be part of the "rat race" called modern family life.

Fast forward several years, God had given us three beautiful children which were all attending the Catholic school in which I taught. We were attending daily Mass often, praying with the kids, helping with the youth group, and growing in our faith as a family.  Our rules and routines were set into place and followed.  We had supper at the table each night and had quiet time for ourselves each after putting the kids to bed.  We weren't "that family" that runs around in a hundred different directions living for and through our kids.  Life was just dandy! 

But it's hard to live in the world and not be of the world.  Soon our kids became older and began wanting things and wanting to "do" things.  We discussed all these "things" thoroughly.  We finally agreed that just one activity couldn't hurt the life we had established, but one each was the limit.  No more.  As the kids got older, we began to discover their talents and skills.  So, two. Two things each.  No more than that.  We don't want to become "that family," remember?  Now, you can already see where this was heading.  We didn't.  With each new "thing," we reasoned why it was OK to allow it.

Three kids times two (some three) extra-curricular activities equaled over six different activities in a week.  We were officially working for our kids.  All our time and money were going to their extra "things." We were becoming "that family" slowly over time without really noticing it.  One night after we collapsed in bed thoroughly exhausted from all the running around we had done that evening after a full day at work, we realized that we were drifting further and further from each other and from our original plan.  The plan that had brought us together in the first place.  Things needed to change. But where to begin?

God-of course!  We had never totally abandoned our faith or God, but had just been "going through the motions" for awhile.  I knew in my heart that this was a wake-up call from Him.  We had grown comfortable with Him over the years and weren't putting Him first in our lives anymore.  Occasionally, yes, but not always.  I knew He was calling us back into a deeper relationship with Him.  So, we took a step back and did a major overhaul on our lives.

We started with all the extra-curricular stuff that kept us from putting God first and kept us from living out our "plan".  Sports practices & games that interfere with family meal time 3-4 nights a week? Gone.  Dance costumes and music not so appropriate for my child of God? Gone.  You get the picture.  Then we moved on to the games, movies, toys, books, etc. that had "snuck" into our house while we were running.  If it distracted us from our Heavenly goal, gone.

It felt so good! The more we simplified our house and lives, the more we desired to simplify it even more.  The more time we spent as a family working, playing, and praying together, the more family time we desired.  The more time we spent together as a couple, the more time we wanted to spend with each other.  The closer we grew to God, the closer we wanted to be to Him.  It continued to snowball like this for awhile before we took the leap of our lives---homeschooling.

It was the most difficult and scariest jump ever, but has turned out to be the most rewarding and fulfilling.  He caught us just as He always had, just as He always will.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Who Am I?

So, I've been wanting to start a blog for long time now....years!  I've had my "page" setup for a few months now.  It's just been sitting, waiting for me to get started.  I decided that today is the day.

But where to start? I have no idea! So I guess I'll start with a little about who I am...

I am a Catholic trying to serve God by following Christ's example in my daily life.
I am a wife trying daily to show my husband Travis of 15 years how much I appreciate and love him.
I am a mother of four trying to raise my children in the ways of the Lord. 
I am a teacher trying to help my students truly learn about God's wonderful creations---even Math.
I am a homemaker trying to simplify our lifestyle and get back to the basics of life---know, love, & serve God.

So, that's what my blog will be about---a Catholic wife, mother, teacher striving to lead her family to Heaven through her teaching and example.  Sounds very simple in print.  But in real life not so simple...but always for better or worse.