Summer Festivals, BBQs, Picnic, 10 Tips to Invite People to Your Parish

Last summer at the Downers Grove Rotary Festival, St Mary of Gostyn hosted a lively booth to celebrate our 125 Anniversary with our local community.   The Crowe Family loved having their photo taken with our Pope Francis cut-out.   It’s our mission to go out into the world and share the good news.  We are called to invite people back home to participate in God’s love. Summertime is the perfect time to share that invitation!     

 

Jesus had 12 apostles. Ponder for a moment 12 people (or 12 families) you know. What if you could get even 3 of those individuals/families to take you up on an invitation into the richness of parish life? What if just 1 person or 1 family began to know Christ in a new way because of your efforts? What if they began participating in the life of your parish and in the sacraments with renewed vigor, and then they, too, invited others? Faith could grow exponentially!

Try a few of these ideas this summer and see who responds:

  1. Start specifically praying for neighbors, people in the community and that the Holy Spirit will open their hearts.
  2. Look at the parish calendar of events and consider which specific events may have the most appeal to a specific person or family.  Perhaps he or she is a golfer or the family would enjoy attending the parish picnic.
  3. Bring home a parish bulletin, circle information about the event, and hand deliver it with a personal invitation to join you for the event.  
  4. Invite someone to Mass on a Sunday morning and then back to your home for a pancake breakfast (This was my Dad’s favorite practice).
  5. Invite someone to a Saturday or Sunday evening Mass followed by a BBQ at your home (or out for pizza at a favorite local spot).
  6. Drop off donuts and coffee at someone’s home after you attend Mass on Sunday morning, and let them know you were thinking of them.
  7. Share a copy of the parish bulletin electronically with a friend or neighbor via your smartphone.
  8. Share a direct link to your favorite free Catholic app (OneParish is loaded on my phone), explain why you like it and how you use it, and encourage someone new to download it.
  9. Share something inspiring that you read online. The OneParish Catholic app has easily  shareable content: With just a click you can share Pope Francis’ latest tweet or a video from Bishop Robert Barron.
  10. Talk openly about what you love most about your parish: the music, the preaching, the charitable works done in the community, the way the youth group has supported your teens, and/or the friends you have made through ministry groups. Genuine enthusiasm is contagious!

My dear friend always reminds me that we are called to evangelize like a butterfly and not like a bee.  When Helen Keller couldn’t see and couldn’t speak, it was a loving teacher who gently taught her sign language that opened a door for her to to connect with the world around her.  We are called to be that loving guide for others and it can be as easy as a warm and authentic invitation.  

Educational benefits of travel for youth

This morning I sat down to begin my workday and found Grania’s final speech for her sophomore speech class, opened on the google drive.  She presented early this week on how she feels travel is a form of education.    With her approval, I thought I would share – this was her draft, her notes, subsequently added to notecards.   This wasn’t a final product/document turned in for grading, thus she nor I corrected the grammar.

Introduction

From a young age I have always loved to travel. Whether it’s going to my aunt’s lake house in Michigan for the weekend or flying across the world to China.  I love every type of travel. Traveling is such a great thing that everyone should experience. In the Bible in the book of Sirach chapter 34, verse 9-12  it says “A much-traveled person knows many things; and one with much experience speaks sense – an inexperienced person knows little, whereas with travel one adds to resourcefulness. I have seen much in my travels, and learned more than I could ever say.” Travel has always been an important thing to my family. In 1972 my grandparents moved my dad and his four other siblings to America.   After attending Notre Dame my dad and some friends backed-packed around Europe. A few years later he was lucky enough to get the opportunity to teach English in Japan for two years then in 1991 he went to Mongolia and backpacked around China. My parents both urge me to travel every opportunity I get.   This summer my mom and I will travel to Nicaragua on a mission trip to serve the poor.

 

The benefits of traveling at a young age rounds out your education, here are some supporting reasons:

  1. Traveling brings an awareness of other other cultures and appreciate for what other people value.
    1. For example – when in Japan it is respectful to take off your shoes, when you walk into someone’s home.
    2. The knowledge you gain when meeting someone from a different country, forms a cultural awareness that can be used in business, politics and even in our schools.
    3. Learn to appreciate what others value, doesn’t happen by staying in the safety of your own town/home.  Once we gain this appreciation we are supposed to  help other people like friends and family become more aware, as well.

2. Traveling brings exposure to the economics, languages and arts of other countries.

  1. Walking through Paddington Station, I heard multiple languages and learned new currency.  Who knew in some areas of the country you have to use money to use a public bathroom.  Or in other countries, they don’t use a toilet – the simply squat over a hole.
  2. Traveling helps you expand your horizons and explore things you have never seen or eaten before, such as Peking Duck or the shaving of the duck’s feet.
  3. Travel opens mind and opens your heart to cultures and their people and their views.

 

3. Americans can be very isolated on many world issues such as poverty and oppression.

  1. Of course there is violence everywhere in the world. But there are other places like third world countries that have much more violence and poverty than we do in America.
  2. We aren’t able to understand what other countries go though by looking at the T.V. every morning watching to the news.  We need to be up close and see it, we need to serve.

 

4. Travel is a form of education and adds value to our life.

  1. Travel obviously is a form of leisure and yet it holds enormous educational value.
  2. Travel develops a sense of confidence, freedom and independence.
  3. Talking to strangers and meet new people is a great life skill.
  4. Three of my cousins have studied abroad. My cousin Connor studied in Ireland for a semester and my cousin Molly did the same thing in Rome. My cousin Kaylee did a summer visit to the Orient.  Each of them had amazing experiences and they returned home with a new appreciation for other cultures.   Each of them have encouraged me to do it in the future.

 

Conclusion

Traveling at a young age has the ability to expand our minds and 1 mind, 1 person, 1 heart can change our world.  When we live in the same town our whole life and travel only inside the United States, it limits the lens for which we look at the world. The lens shapes how we see things in our everyday world.   By traveling across the seas and into different countries the lens expands, our views expand.   We start to have an open mind and start to think not just about the county we live in but the whole entire world. As Ibn Battuta once said “Traveling. It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” This quote really stands out to me. My parents have stories from traveling that i can’t even picture happening in a million years. And I hope to have stories just like that after I travel the world.

I can’t stand her political views, can I still be her friend?

Two American women share an exchange about their unlikely friendship. Political differences alone would cause most to toss this friendship aside and yet something undeniable is keeping them connected.

Judi & Peggy, January 2017 in Oakland CA

According to Wikipedia the definition of friendship is:  a relationship of mutual affection between people. While there is no practical limit on what types of people can form a friendship, friends tend to share common backgrounds, occupations, or interests and have similar demographics.

Based on Wikipedia’s definition and the differences between Peggy O’Flaherty and Judi Henderson Townsend, it is hard to believe these two women are friends.

For starters, there is an 11-year age difference between them.  But that is just the beginning of their differences.    Peggy was raised in a small midwestern town, the youngest of 10, in a family that had little value for higher education.    She is a mom of 5, still living in that same small town, married for 20 years and a practicing Catholic.   Judi was raised in Los Angeles, an only child from a highly educated family.  She is divorced and childless by choice.   Judi converted from Christianity and is now a practicing Buddhist

None of these differences mattered in their friendship….. until the last political election. Here are their perspectives on how they first become friends and what happened when they had a face to face meeting for the first time in over 20 years, which was one month after the 2016 election.

Peggy’s Perspective

We met at little cafe on the East Bay, just outside of San Francisco between Christmas and New Years.  It had been twenty-six years since I had seen my former co-worker, Judi Henderson Townsend.   She ordered her hot chocolate, and I wrapped my hands around a steaming hot coffee.  Judi and I spent two years working together at United Airlines during the early 1990s, in the midst of the Gulf War.   Operation Desert Storm was one of the first friendly debates we shared over the water cooler.   Having grown up in a small town in Illinois, my transfer to California at the age of 20 had brought me together with people of diverse lifestyles and cultures that surprised and stretched my midwestern small town values.  Judi might have stretched me the most!

My career in California was short lived I returned to my roots in Illinois, got married, had kids and became entrenched in our family life. As often happens, Judi and I lost touch.  But about 8 years ago, I happened upon an article featuring Judi in Oprah Magazine as a Rising Entrepreneur with her business, Mannequin Madness.   Judi had built her empire by rescuing mannequins and repurposing them as art or by giving them a second life in another retail outlet.  I was in the process of launching my own business, and reading about her success inspired me. Through the power of Facebook, we reconnected, and promised to stay in touch.

Our reunion at the little cafe on the East Bay was our first time seeing one another in over 2 decades, but we connected just like old times.  In the bustling coffee shop, Judi filled me in on how 2016 had many ups and downs for her, specifically the pain brought on by the recent election.    As she was sharing her views, it brought me back to the water cooler in 1991 — we were again on opposite sides of the political aisle, a topic I surely didn’t want to bring up for fear she may toss her cocoa in my face!   I say this in jest, but I wasn’t about to rock our time together with a heated political discussion.   Our conversation lead to topics of her business and mine, and although we have virtually nothing in common, we discovered we shared some deep connection that we could only label as a spiritual kinship.   

Judi’s Perspective

When I worked at United Airlines, Peggy and I worked in different departments, but because we are both extroverts and single women in a new city, we found ourselves drawn to each other. We frequently had lunch together and engaged in lively dialogue over the water cooler, but we didn’t socialize outside of work.

My desk was next to a male who came from a large Irish Catholic family. I hinted to him that he and Peggy would have a lot in common, thinking that they too would become work friends. Next thing I knew they were secretly dating and then engaged. When I flew back to Peggy’s hometown in the midwest for their wedding I was the only African American person there. And it was the only Catholic wedding I have ever attended.

Peggy and I stayed in touch for a while, but when she and her husband settled permanently  in the midwest, we gradually lost contact. (This was pre-Facebook days). Then several years ago,  out of the blue, I got a call from Peggy. She was in the hospital recovering from having her fifth child and was indulging in a luxury she rarely got  to do while at home — reading a magazine!.  While paging through Oprah Magazine, she had stumbled across an article about women entrepreneurs.  

Judi’s President Barack Obama mannequin

Check out more of Judi’s mannequins

She searched out my business online and gave me a call.  As we caught up with one another,  we marveled at how different our lives had become since  the days we worked together: she was a stay-at-home-mom with an entrepreneurial spirit and I was a married entrepreneur. Because, the social media revolution had begun, we decided to keep our connection going through Facebook.

Now, here we were, 20 years later in meeting at a coffee shop. Our turbo-charged conversation covered every aspect of our lives and our hopes for the future.  Our worlds were even more different now than when we were co-workers, yet surprisingly I felt a closer connection with Peggy than ever before.

During our breakfast conversation, it never occurred to me that Peggy was a Trump supporter.  She mentioned that she missed the diversity in California and was excited that her children had expressed an interest in attending college California which would give her an excuse to come back here. So I assumed she had a liberal point of view. While I knew that her husband was very politically conservative, I was certain that as a woman, and a mother of 4 daughters, she would not be a fan of Trump.  We didn’t talk about political issues specifically, but rather how the aftermath of this election had caused such divisions in society, leaving many people feeling anxious, hopeless, angry and conflicted.                            

Peggy’s weekend stay  Trump Tower Chicago

“How can we live with a joyful and positive attitude during this time of turmoil?” we both asked ourselves. Peggy had mentioned that she had planned to read “The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World” by Nobel  Peace Prize Laureates Dalai Lama and ArchBishop Desmond Tutu. She was determined to have 2017 be a joyful year no matter what. Her enthusiasm made  me want to read this book, and we decided to check in with each other in the springtime to discuss what we learned from the book and how we were applying it to our lives.

Well, life happens, and although I downloaded the book, I haven’t read it yet. Peggy has read a few chapters but not finished it. When I called her for our check-in and started ranting about Trump, that is when she revealed with me that she was a Trump supporter.  My jaw dropped. While I have some business clients (living in other states) who are Trump supporters, I have absolutely NO close friends who voted for Trump. In fact most of my friends participated in the Woman’s Protest March the day after the inauguration.

Purchase via Amazon

I began to wonder: would this be the tipping point that ends our unlikely friendship? Will Peggy un-friend me after one of my frequent anti-Trump posts on my Facebook page? Should I just ignore her politics and focus on the things we have in common?

As we wrapped up our coffee shop reunion, we joked about our unlikely friendship, but realized we had a common thread.  We were both committed to nurturing unity despite differences, to finding goodness in the world and people, especially now at a time when healing and unity seems necessary.   We’ve asked ourselves “why now, after all these years do we yearn to maintain this unlikely friendship?”   Innately we are drawn to the differences in each other at an emotional, intellectual and spiritual level.  

We feel challenged to step outside ourselves and our own views, to expand our compassion and understanding, to respect the views of each other.  Knowing there are many more unlikely friendships in our midst, we decided to share our findings, experiences and ideas through a series of articles, maybe even live interviews to explore the common and yet divisive topics of religion, politics, race and lifestyles, in hopes of softening ourselves and bringing more kindness to our world.    We found the Heineken beer company tag line, “open your world” and commercial that ran across European airwaves very poignant.  

Watch Heineken Commercial

How have you maintained a friendship or a relationship with a friend or family member whose viewpoints are polar opposites of yours? Do you think we should refrain from discussing politics or can we have a healthy debate without judgement?

  1. “Dialogue is not some simplistic assertion of one’s own position, nor is it necessarily about persuading others to one’s point of view. Dialogue is about demonstrating respect for another’s life, and being determined to learn when confronted with differences in personality and perspective.”  Daisaku Ikeda

Looking For A Valentine’s Day Gift?

inner-beauty
The top drawer of my bureau containing my undergarments is overflowing, as many women might relate to. Yes, my weight has fluctuated having had 5 children, but it was those same 5 kids who put shopping for personal undergarments very low on my priority list. I wore only the necessities and the criteria was comfort and versatility. Any need was  often filled during a quick run through at Target, with a grocery cart full of diapers, household cleaner and paper towels. I’d toss in a few average black, white or beige, full coverage and boring bottoms. My eyes were opened recently when one of my teenager daughters popped into the bathroom, as I was blow-drying my hair (which I have to do with minimal clothing, thanks to my premenopausal hot flashes).  She stopped abruptly and with a look of horror asked “Mom are you wearing Grandma’s underwear?”
This put me on a mission to rediscover my inner goddess. As women, we are often inclined to care for everyone before ourselves, and this includes our spending. With groceries for our family of seven, bills, college funds and other looming expenses, splurging on a special undergarment now and then seemed out of the question.  My motivation to wear pretty underthings was further diminished more recently when my fitness regimen didn’t transform my figure as I had anticipated, so I wasn’t feeling confident in front of the guy who shared my dressing room: my husband, even though I knew he loved me, no matter my shape or size.
Beyond those very logical excuses, over the years I had forgotten about the 20-year-old me who had a zest for life and a playful connection to her femininity. In my parenting frame of mind, I had subconsciously come to think of my body as a life-source for our children: pregnancy, birthing, nursing and endless piggyback rides, all of which I have treasured. And yet through all this, I have placed an inner part of myself, my light and the part that likes to dance, under a basket.
My ministry, in some ways, had also distorted my view of self — I failed to see some of the fundamental truths that St. John Paul II stated in his Theology of the Body.  “The human body, includes right from the beginning, the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of this being and existence.”
Perhaps it’s the fact that my youngest child is fairly self-sufficient now, that this fundamental truth came back to me. Thus I had a quest, and recently ventured to the mall, without the kiddos, and I picked out a few undergarments for myself. Yes, I was even a bit shy, I must say, as I brought them to the 20-year-old girl at the register.  Delight now comes each morning, as I get a new selection of something beautiful that’s just for me to begin my day.   I’ve been further surprised at the new bit of confidence building within me, as a result of my morning choice of wardrobing.   A renewed confidence is lasting throughout the day in my interactions with others, at work, and surely as I reconnect with my husband. Something that initially started out as just for me, has tapped into the deeper meaning of the gift. Self love and self-care is something I believe God intends for us all, and when we tend to ourselves, we have more capacity to love others.
My Valentine’s Day challenge for you, young or young-at-heart, male or female: go out today and buy yourself a pretty pair of undies or a sporty pair of boxers!

The human body includes right from the beginning… the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift – and by means of this gift – fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.”    St. John Paul II

 

Thanks to Millies’ Mats for the use of  her granny bloomers.

Adoption Is A Gift

maeve naughton headshot

Almost 30 years ago my sister and brother-in-law came home from the hospital carrying the most darling little girl swaddled in a pink blanket.  My sister was a teacher and had been trying for years to have a child.  During the summers she had a job working as a waitress and would often share her desire to be a mother and the hope of adoptions with the local patrons.   Through a friend of a friend one of the patrons connected my sister to a local obstetrician which  eventually lead to a young women who made the loving decision to share her child with our family.

When I received a letter from a dear family friend and her desire to welcome a baby into her life, I was reminded of my niece and my sister.    I met Maeve Naughton 25 years ago. She grew up in San Francisco Bay Area with her 2 brother and sister; along with Allie and Art her parents who instilled those values we all desire for our children.  Maeve is well educated has had a lifetime of serving others in the South Pacific and still today.  She does marketing for a technology company, loves her work, her dog and being active.   Maeve has an attitude of gratitude and an enormous heart, she would be a loving mother and a gift for any child.

Through friends of friends we each play a role in helping fulfill dreams for people.  Please take a moment to learn more about  Maeve Naughton Online via her iheartadoption site.   If you have question I would love to talk with you more and share my experience of loving and knowing Maeve personally.   Thank you, Peggy

http://www.iheartadoption.org/users/maeve

7 Ways to Make Serious Money From Home

Redbook Rodan and Fields

The November issue of Redbook Magazine featured my business with Dr. Rodan and Dr. Fields.   I run my own skincare company that leverages social commerce and lifestyle marketing as the vehicle for success.  The integrity of the products, the business model, which allows me to run a business from my phone, the leadership and training were all appealing to me when I started in January.   My initial goal was simply to help pay for the groceries, which is no small bill when feeding 7 people and a dog.   When I met that goal, I decided to dream bigger.   So what are you dreaming about?    Maybe it’s building up your retirement account or savings into a college fund, maybe its a vacation next year for your family or a plan B for a raining day.   Or maybe you have always wanted to build something of your own but didn’t know if you could do it.

Several of my partners made this youtube video of this business and it reminded me of the reason I said “yes” to something totally outside my comfort zone.    I remember telling my friend and now partner….. “I can’t sell skincare, I sell God.”  She reminded me in this business we don’t sell anything.   We simply wash our face and share our great results.    Please take a few moments to watch this video and then lets talk about how this business could be the vehicle for you to achieve your dreams.    I would love to help you dream big.

Why Would God Call Me To Do Skincare Business?

Blogtalk Radio Photo

Christian Women Entrepreneurs

Why in the heck would God call invite me into a business of selling skincare?   Tune in today with my interview by Christina M. Webber, MS, Speaker, Christian Women Entrepreneurs Coach, and Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist.  Christina coaches Christian Women Entrepreneurs how to confidently do God’s will by changing messages and patterns that block them from earning more money in less time while embracing their many roles in life.

Please contact me directly with any questions or to explore God’s call in your life.

Blessings,

Peggy

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What does a black crow have to do with the movie Tomorrowland?

Have you had a chance to see the movie Tomorrowland?  In it, the main character, a young heroine, repeats a story back to her father, in his moment of defeat, a story he told her during her childhood.  In the story there are two wolves: one is darkness and one is light. “Which one wins?” she questions him. After a pause she continues, “The one you feed the most.”

Since I was in 3rd grade, I’ve been haunted by a ghost of my past, bound up by the shackles of abuse, feeling a prisoner of the violence that was inflicted upon me.   I’ve lived bent over by the voice of shame that was whispered to me when I was only 8.  Fast forward ten years; as I was preparing for college, I sat with an administrator who was reviewing my ACT scores, and he said with a smirk on his face, “Girl, I think a monkey would score higher on this exam than you did.”   Somehow, one negative voice triggered other angry voices that had been repeated in my head — feelings of fear and having no value. Those voices were drummed up again and again over the next 30 years, by decisions I made that led to mistakes, or missteps on roads that were winding and unclear. It felt natural for me to focus on those voices of pain that led to self-doubt.  And to quiet those voices, I felt driven to strive for many things, some of which weren’t healthy.  Yet I also felt drawn toward joy, a lifeline that always seemed out of reach.  Now, however, at almost 48, I’m finally starting to shake myself of those heavy chains.  Inner strength is beginning to emerge. Feelings of finally being redeemed, and growing into the person that God intended me to be, are being fostered.

My life circumstances over the last year and my circle of influences have caused me to look at why and how I’m choosing to live my life.  In scripture Luke chapter 10 verse 27 we hear, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  This year I’ve come to realize that loving neighbor and others is tricky when you don’t love yourself.  Now I’m settling into love of self, and accepting God as the power that frees me from those heavy chains.  It’s taken many years to discover and foster that self-love and look at my authentic self.  (I’ll save those details for another blog.)

Black Crow

As I was pondering the sensitive nature of this entry, I heard the fear creeping up in me: “What might people may say or think of me?”   For me, confidence and self-love starts with acknowledging my feelings and I do that best through prayer while taking a run.   My run took me down a tree-lined street, where suddenly, an enormous black crow landed directly in front of me on a low-hanging branch.  He appeared to look right at me, and did his “caaahaaa” as if he was laughing at me.  That crow reminded me that we live in a world where good and evil are both present on every road I take.   I decided I wouldn’t let that crow intimidate me — I picked up my pace and popped in my earbuds.  The first song I heard was by the group Mercy Me.   The lyrics of “Greater” clearly state the voice that I now hear inside of me.  God’s voice in my heart is far “Greater” than those voices of my past, the naysayers in my world, and those who try to intimidate me.  Like the heroine from the movie Tomorrowland, I am choosing to feed the voice of light.

Lilacs, Rwanda, Immaculee and Women’s Inner Strength

Have you noticed the lilac bushes are in bloom?   In the Midwest every spring in early May the streets and yards are lined with beautiful purple fragrant lilacs.   Perhaps you grew up with a Common lilac, Persian lilac, Dwarf Korean variety, Himalayan, Chinese lilac or even a lilac tree.    My sister Linda Kay Doyle had a beautiful white lilac bush that she cherished.  It was an exceptionally fragrant lilac in her yard, just off her deck.    My sister Linda died 10 years ago today, May 5 2005.   She was an avid gardener and whenever I would visit her home, we would walk arm and arm around her yard to explore what was currently in bloom.

lilac

Linda was an educator who was very compassionate and cognizant about the surrounding world.   She was always giving me fiction and non-fiction books that would get me thinking.   We had long conversations about the underlying theme of books such as the Kite Runner and The Red Tent.   The week before she passed she urged me to watch the movie Hotel Rwanda with Don Cheadle.

Hotel Rwanda is the story of the 1994 horrific genocide that took the lives of one million people who were brutally murdered in Rwanda, Africa.   In an era of high-speed communication and round the clock news, the events went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world.   In three months, one million Tutsis; men, women and children were massacred by the hands of the Hutu marauders.   The movie shared the courage of one man who in the face of unspeakable dangers granted shelter to thousands of helpless refugees in the hotel that he managed.

I never had the chance to chat with Linda about her thoughts on the Rwanda genocide.  And yet, two years after she passed, I learned about a woman who survived that genocide and knew that I had to hear her story.  Immaculee llibagiza was a Tutsis college student, who was urged to go into hiding by her father.   Immaculee found shelter at a pastor’s home, where she and seven other women hid from the deadly rebel mob in a 3-by-4 foot bathroom for 91 days.    During those 91 days of unimaginable suffering, Immaculee found her faith, taught herself English and most incredibly, committed herself to a life of peace, hope and forgiveness.  Even for those who had murdered her family.

Last week, I was privileged to attend a luncheon entitled “Aid for Women” and the keynote speaker was again Immaculee.  She again shared her powerful life lessons from her Rwanda experience of love, forgiveness and world peace.    The organization she spoke was in support of Aid for Women, which has been instrumental in providing support for women and especially empowering women to choose life.  They provide funding to Heather’s House, a home for unwed mothers providing education, medical assistance, spiritual and housing support.  You can read more about their organization at www.helpaidforwomen.org.   You can read one of Immaculee’s several books or watch this short video about her story.

Linda placed an enormous value on the inner strength within a women and the bond of friendship between women.   Considering Linda’s own health limitations, nothing held her back and I knew she drew strength from faith, friendship and family.   Where do you draw strength to be the women God intended you to be?  How do you age gracefully and rest within the challenges of your life, the body we have been given and live within our unique giftedness?  How do the relationships in your life help you to fly?  Helping women explore these questions have become my life work.   Thank you, Linda!!!!

Creative Ways to Manage Household Finances and Rely on Faith

Frustrated MOm

Each month as the household bills come rolling in and we watch the scale tip; too much money going out and not enough coming in – it can be a hard pill to swallow.  It is emotionally draining, pounding on the ego, frustrating and very easy to become envious of what others have and doubting of decisions that brought us to this point.  This has happened to us before, as when we were first married we purchased our first home and had to settle into a mortgage payment that was a stretch.   Then several years ago we felt the pinch, being in our third home and managing the growth of expenses with a family of 7.  Now married 20 years this summer and 18 months into owning our own companies and again we have to make some major shifts in our spending and our income.  In times like these I hear my dad’s voice “you need to make sacrifices, what can you live without.”   Then my inner mom voice chimes in and says “roll up your sleeves and find a way to fix the situation”.

Getting organized is usually my first defense and that starts by reevaluating our expenses via a color coded spreadsheet.  As a stay home mom, through trials we learn how to be creative for example; on where to shop to find the best values for groceries (Aldi), how the majority of household providers (cable TV, security systems, phone companies) are willing to drop your monthly expense by simply asking and cooking at home on a budget versus eating out is an enormous savings.    Once those options are exhausted more difficult choices may be necessary.   When I had four small children under the age of 5, I shared with my husband if I didn’t get some help around the house or with laundry I may never make it to see them graduate high school.   Over the last 10 years, I was blessed each Tuesday from 9:00 – 2:00 with my own personal Mary Poppins.  She arrived each week and magically created order in our house, especially the laundry room.   I was spoiled and saying goodbye to that luxury was extremely difficult.   She helped me care for my newborns and she will be missed.  That sadness was lifted when I watched the kids’ expressions, as I showed them their new job charts.  I kind of chuckled when I heard one of them say “clean the bathroom sinks, are you serious?”    My oldest sister has the motto “a family that cleans together and prays together will stay together.”    In our fast past society, busy with sports and activities on the weekend, I believe we lost sight of this fundamental life lesson on working together to care for our home.

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We have many harder choices in front of us, that other families have faced and with perhaps less options than our family.   A few things that I have noticed in this chapter of our life; the idea of walking in faith when we have so many unknown pieces is challenging, rising to be the person I believe God intended me to be is much harder than I thought when under stress and giving into despair is easy.   On the flipside I am noticing blessings in the very small things of life; such as the joy of teaching my child how to wash the baseboards or asking one of the children to help me with calculating the groceries so we stay within a budget.  Or staying home and having a family game night versus going out to the movies.

We have found ways to supplement our monthly income by selling some toys and items around the house via an on-line garage sale site.  I have opened up my schedule for a few more speaking engagements; one at a Christian book store opening in the spring and a morning retreat for the Joliet Diocese Deaconate Wives.  This is my real passion, so please pass along my name if your parish, community or network is in need of speakers.  I also am working as a consultant for my favorite skincare solution and feeling so good about helping individuals address basic and everyday skincare needs; such as sun damaged skin, wrinkles, dull and sensitive skin, acne and eczema.  Having balance in my life for healthy eating, fitness, skin care, nurturing relationship and faith formation all help my confidence and relieve stress.

Last year I spoke at Illinois Benedict College to a group of students about “Using Your Strengths and Gifts to Follow Your Dreams.”    I shared with them wisdom from Saint Catherine of Siena “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on Fire.”  It is easy to doubt who God intended for me to be when life is at a crossroads.   When following your dreams isn’t quite financially sustaining the family then prayer and patience is necessary.  In scripture we hear that God doesn’t want us to worry and he wants us to trust in Him.  I also believe that God gave us a heart and a mind for a reason.   I believe he asks us to be creative, think outside the box, wear many hats, look at all your options, reevaluate what is important and how do the choices we make impact our not only ourselves but our children as well.

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream….”  C.S. Lewis