Summer Reminders

We need to stop looking too much into the future! This is not the time to wish our lives away.

Summer is not over! Don’t wish it away either. I believe that many of us have been looking too much towards the fall – whether that’s because of school uncertainty, election issues, or another upcoming shutdown, but we need to stop. We need to stop looking too much into the future! This is not the time to wish our lives away. In Wisconsin, we spent several months in a shutdown and now, instead of enjoying these warm months with our families, we are spending our days worrying about the future – a future that we have absolutely no control over. So, here are a few summertime reminders, because after all we have several weeks to enjoy this glorious weather!

Photo by Andre Furtado on Pexels.com
  1. Faith. It’s time to make extra time for God. Let’s dust off those devotional books, put aside some quiet moments for prayer, and place our trust back in God. Bask in the sunshine, enjoy the warmth, and give the control back to God. This isn’t easy, but true freedom.
  2. Family. Family time should be a priority, but sometimes we place this on the back-burner. Yes, we need to earn a living. Yes, we need to provide support to our community. But if our family isn’t coming first, then we are not making progress – we are only treading water with nowhere to swim. Stop treading and start living. It’s okay to stay home all day, clean bedrooms, read books, bake cookies, or watch an old movie with the family. These are the important moments. The down-days will ultimately bring us more joy than the days we spend running around trying to fulfill commitments and barely recognize that our children only want time with us, not big events, but big hugs instead.
  3. It’s Too Short. In the Midwest, summer is too short and winter is too long. Why are we wishing for time to speed up as we await announcements beyond our control? Stop worrying. Yes, that’s easier said than done. But it’s wasting time to dwell on the uncertainty. Thrive on the here and now. Don’t wish summer away, winter brings 9 long months of dark and cold.
  4. Commitments. If you can’t remember what you did last week or if the calendar fills too quickly beyond you’re control – stop! Limit the engagements. Life is not suppose to be a rat race. We tend to say “when things slow down”, but they won’t slow down without intention on our part. Many of us enjoyed the empty calendars, the slow days at home that were brought on by quarantine. There’s no reason our lives need to return back to an unending sea of engagements. Determine what is most important and eliminate the rest.
  5. Conserve. If anything, this time has not only taught me to trust more but that I need to conserve more. Maybe some of these recent events proved our over indulgence is quite unhealthy – whether that’s too many commitments, too many treats, too much shopping, or too much entertainment. I’d have to say that within just a few months, I have learned a lot and have also encountered my flaws. Let’s not fall back into bad habits of giving into our momentary desires. Time with our families is more important than hours on social media or shopping on Zulily. Yes, there’s a time and place for all of those things, but are we doing too many things in excess that should be more controlled?

The Importance of Family Time

Put your family as a priority and everything else will quickly fall into line.

As we reach summer, it is that time of year when we all need to take a step back and examine more than just our life, but the lives of those around us. The school supplies fill the store shelves, the emails are flood with clothing sales, the required school paperwork is due, and dates for fall activities must now be added to the calendar, but there is something even more important than all of this! We must covet and adjust our schedules to enjoy those last weeks of summer with those we love and devote our lives to our family.

Family dinners were always a huge part of my childhood. My brothers and I may have missed a few in high school, in exchange for our sports and after-school clubs, but looking back, I wish we hadn’t. At the time the sports, clubs, friends, and part-time jobs seemed important, but in the grander scheme of things, they were not. My mom always said, “Be kind to your brothers. Friends will come and go, but you will always have your siblings.” She was right. There is nothing greater than the bond of a family. There will always be moments of hardship and disagreement, but we cannot let those become the norm. Those times of suffering are natural to human life, but our focus should always remain in support of the family.

My husband and I strongly focus our attention on family time. This doesn’t mean we have to be together all the time, because this isn’t possible with a large family. We find time during the small moments: dinner, working together as a family while fixing the house or landscaping, or having meaningful conversations on the way to a sport practice. All of these make a difference. If we want to thrive and learn to bond as a family, we must put away the distractions – whether that’s homework, cell phones, or work papers. The distractions are different for every person, and should always take a back seat when it comes to family time.

For us, family time always includes Sundays. They are a God-given day of rest that we should all be thankful for and take advantage of them. Each Sunday may look a bit different, but overall, it is quality time spent with our children. Whether getting together with extended family for a game of soccer or baseball in the backyard, watching the Packers, taking naps after enjoying brunch, or reading a saint story before bed, these are the times the children will always remember. I have very fond memories of my Sundays as a child, and I hope to continue sharing the importance of this valuable time with my children.

This world is busy, but it up to the parents to find what keeps the family grounded. We know what our children need, and often it is spending time with the family to confirm love. It might be as simple as kneeling down to say the Rosary every evening after dinner. Venerable Patrick Peyton said, “A family that prays together, stays together.”

It’s important to love and learn from our family members. If we don’t know the members of our immediate family, then we aren’t truly living. These are the people who will be there for us through thick and thin, even if it takes a while to get over last year’s family reunion, they are still family.

I’d love to hear from you. How do you spend time together as a family? What has worked and what hasn’t when juggling busy schedules? How do you create an experience that not only allows, but forces you to understand and learn more about each other? Are you searching for a consistent family activity that will grow your bond?

It might take a while to find your family’s “thing,” and sometimes if you have been gifted with a friend who is like family then you are truly blessed to open your circle and to grow in love. Continue searching, and eventually you will find what brings your family joy and you won’t want to let it go. It will be worth giving up some of the parties, the overtime at work, lunches with friends, and even the addicting Instagram stories because your family is where you can be yourself and where you can rejuvenate for the upcoming week.

Put your family as a priority and everything else will quickly fall into line.

Originally published on August 9, 2019 on Catholicmom.com

Holy Week Preparations for a BIG Easter Celebration.

You may be tempted to keep Easter “simple” this year, but please remove those thoughts. Easter does not change based on human command. Whether we are allowed to attend Mass or not, it is still Easter.

My heart sank when a teenage cashier at Target told me he forgot it was almost Easter. This was while he rang up items for the kids’ Easter baskets. It made me think how utterly sad this mess of a virus may have turned those hardened hearts closer to God and His mercy. Too many of us have forgotten that God won the fight. He is in control and it is only through our lack of faith and hope which spirals us into despair. So, after contemplating those careless words of the cashier, I plan to double-down this Holy Week and double-up our Easter celebrations.

With the prohibition of Holy Mass and the Sacraments, as we are resorted to observing Mass over a computer or T.V. screen, let’s double-check ourselves that we have not become too lukewarm during this time. Do we still observe Sundays as God intended? Are we focusing on our Lenten observations or have we given those up in light of the outside sufferings we endure. Don’t give up yet. We still have time to seek reparation for sin through prayer and penance. Let’s double-down this Holy Week and partake as humanly possibly in Christ’s Passion. Let’s pray and offer our penances for a miraculous removal of this virus after Good Friday. Jesus conquered sin on Good Friday, He most definitely can conquer this virus. Don’t forsake Christ during Holy Week. Yes, the activities and crafts are good for children to help them understand what occurs, but remember that God expects more of adults. We are to be the examples to the children. Double your prayers and penances, so that we can celebrate in full glory with God on Easter Sunday.

You may be tempted to keep Easter “simple” this year, but please remove those thoughts. Easter does not change based on human command. Whether we are allowed to attend Mass or not, it is still Easter. God deserves the best and since the Bishops have forbade Mass and the Sacraments, it is up to the laity to observe this Holy Feast to the best of our ability in our homes. We cannot forsake our Lord as so many did during His Passion. Let us be near His Sacred Heart and at the foot of His cross on Good Friday. By the observances of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday, we will be able to celebrate with Him on Easter Sunday. God deserves the best! Give Him your best at all times, but especially during Holy Week and Easter Sunday.

Holy Week: Monday – Spy Wednesday

Our family spends these three days finalizing housework preparations for Easter. We clean out bedrooms, bookshelves, dust, scrub down bathrooms, vacuum every room on every floor, and complete any chores that were finished over the previous weekend. We also read the full Passion of Christ each day so the children truly learn the details and know exactly what is happening on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.

Holy Thursday:

We will be observing a Procession of the Holy Eucharist from our car and will recite the Rosary. In the evening we will have a beautiful dinner to honor the Institution of the Holy Priesthood. Following dinner we will say the Stations of the Cross in preparation for Good Friday. My grandmother used to stay up through part of the night to observe the hours Our Lord prayed in the Garden. I hope this year to have the energy to do this, even though I’m pregnant.

Good Friday:

Since we are unable to attend Good Friday Liturgies at our church, I will be taking the children to the cemetery where my parents are buried around noon. There we will recite the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary.

It is a tradition in our family to dye Easter eggs after 3:00 pm on Good Friday. Even though we are

Holy Saturday:

We observe Holy Saturday in quiet as a family. There is no T.V., no radio, no music. It is a day of emptiness as we wait for Christ’s Resurrection. So, this is the day that we do most of our baking for Easter. It is a day of anticipation for the Greatest Feast in the Church’s Liturgical Calendar.

Easter Sunday:

We will be celebrating BIG like every year. Easter has always been one of my favorite Holy Days! Even though we will observe Mass over the T.V. everyone will be dressed in their full Easter clothes. God deserves on the best at all times, but especially on His Resurrection. Even though we will not be celebrating with extended family this year, I will still be cooking and baking all of the same foods, breads, and desserts (just in smaller quantities). I observe this time as a test. Am I willing to continue my path towards sainthood, no matter what earthly changes are made around me, or am I going to succumb to the unhappiness and gloom the world is exhibiting. For ultimately, the Resurrection of Christ is of much greater value than anything related to the virus.