Roses for Our Lady of Guadalupe

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Today (December 12th) was the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a feast I'm growing to love more and more with each year. Last year, I spent this day learning all about the story behind today's celebration (you can read about it here: Getting to Know Our Lady of Guadalupe) so I was ready to spend the day talking to Lily about what it meant and trying to find meaningful ways to celebrate.
I drove past three different Taco Bells today and was trying to convince myself that I should definitely stop because it would be very liturgical of me, but I eventually listened to the voice of reason that reminded me eating garbage (no offence, Taco Bell, but I mean...) wasn't a very good way to celebrate Our Lady, so I kept driving. 
When I was picking up Lily from school, I thought it would be nice if we picked up a few roses to celebrate instead. We got a dozen red & a dozen pink, not really sure what to do with them but I had a feeling we'd figure it out.
Once we got home, I wrapped them up with a little note about Our Lady and today's feast and then we decided to sneak them over to a few of our neighbors' houses. I shortened the summary from Franciscan Media a little bit so it would fit better on the page - you can see what I ended up making here.
Lily was really excited to deliver them & it felt like a really nice way to show love to some of the people we live close to but don't see every day. I probably would've given individual roses to all of my mama friends at the preschool pick-up line, but I didn't think of it until after school - next year, next year. ;)
Lily and Augustine drove up and down the street in their little red Mustang and Lily tip-toed up the steps to leave the roses at the door. I could tell she was having so much fun, despite it being so cold outside! 
So while we didn't end up having a Mexican fiesta or doing any cool coloring pages, I felt like we embraced the spirit of the Marian feast really well & I'm giving myself a gold star for feeling like an overachiever today.
Lily also watched a video about Juan Diego & Our Lady of Guadalupe on YouTube and it was really helpful for explaining the story. I had originally tried to put it into a preschooler's vocabulary and I sounded insane... "So today we are celebrating a feast where Mary came from Heaven and appeared to a man named Juan Diego. She put roses in his shirt and when they fell out, there was a beautiful painting... but it wasn't a painting, nobody painted it, it was a miracle... of Mary!"
Here are the two videos we watched: Juan Diego Messenger of Guadalupe Part One & Part Two
 For the rest of the afternoon, she was running around wearing a piece of fabric like a veil and asking me if I would be "San Diego" and she could be "The Virgin". It was so fun! Also, she requested a cheese crisp for dinner so I guess we really did eat Mexican food after all... 
What ways do you like to celebrate this feast in your family? I'd love to hear! 
Our Lady of Guadalupe - pray for us!

To the Mother Who Aches for Perfection

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

To the mother who aches for perfection;
To the woman overcome with anxiety, 
I'm here with you; you're not alone. In this Pinterest-perfect and Instagram-worthy, social media saturated world, the weight of perfection can be crushing. It might surprise you to hear that I struggle with this because if you took one glance around my house, you would find it entirely imperfect - probably messier than your own. You might see this mess and think I don't care, but it's funny because it's actually messy because I am obsessing over perfection in other areas that you might not ever see. This type of anxiety looks different for everyone.
For me, it looks like obsessing over building the perfect website, creating the perfect social media feed, hosting perfectplaydates, finding the perfect diaper bag, being the perfect friend, writing and journaling perfectly in the perfectjournal, planner, or journaling Bible. I want to choose the perfect penance for Lent and stick to it perfectly.   


The truth is that perfection is unattainable in this lifetime and for my human nature. I will never find the perfect diaper bag. I will never build the perfect website. I will never be the perfect mom, wife, Christian that I dream of being.


To strive to become like Christ is noble, virtuous, and beautiful. But to ache and torture ourselves for some sort of vague concept of perfection is unhealthy. 
If you are struggling, if you are beating yourself up or running on empty for the sake of an unattainable perfection, I'm here with you. And I am learning that I am going to be okay, imperfectly. It is likely something I will struggle with for my entire earthly life, and something I pray I don't pass it along to my children. I don't have all the answers, I'm not a doctor or therapist, but I'm a friend and if you, too, carry this cross - let's walk together. 
But take heart, because as daughters of God we are beautiful, we are blessed, cherished, valued, protected, wanted, washed clean, rescued, and more loved than we could ever fathom. And this love is not conditional; no matter how many times we mess up or fail, His love will never leave us. 
I wanted to share with you some of the ugly thoughts that sometimes cloud my mind, and I want you to know that these are all lies. Every single one of them. The sooner we can recognize that these are not true, that perfection is not an option, the sooner we will be able to heal and move forward. 


  • Once you get it just right, you will be happy -- you will be happy. 
  • When it is perfect, you will be content forever.
  • Once it's perfect, people will like you (or, you'll become popular); people do not like you very much because you aren't quite perfect yet. 
  • There is a secret method to achieve perfection that you haven't figured out (yet it is attainable).  
  • You don't know what perfection looks like, but you'll know it once you see it. 
  • You need to start over and try again; the whole thing is worthless. 
  • Just keep tweaking it - it will all fall into place soon enough.
  • Maybe it isn't working because you don't have the right tools (so you should go buy them).
  • The quest for perfection is noble/desirable/virtuous. 
  • Achieving this perfection is of the utmost importance.
  • The reason you are unsuccessful is because you haven't perfected your technique/work/output. 
  • You will be glad you stayed up for hours working on this; it's going to be okay if you ignore your other responsibilities and focus on this, because perfection is within reach.
  • Try copying what someone else is doing because what they've done is perfect.

Next time you find yourself convinced of one of these lies, take a deep breath and a step back. Spend some time in prayer or reading Scripture. Ask God for discernment, and reach out to a sister in Christ. You can reach out to me - I'm here for you. 

33 Ways to Live out Our Faith - For Mamas

At home - Equip, Prep, and Grow 

  1. Be intentional about reading your Bible every day - and make sure your children see you doing it! They will learn from our example. 
  2. Spend some time looking through your pantry and find non-perishable food to donate to a Soup Kitchen or food pantry
  3. Look through your closet and choose items in good condition to donate to a charity (try to find a place that will pass these items along for free if possible).  
  4. Put together bags of toiletries and food for homeless people you might come across. Make sure to add a note with the contact information for local Catholic charities, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens. Keep it in your car, within arm's reach.
  5. Make rosaries with your children and help your children begin learning the prayers. 
  6. Spend some time in casual yet directed conversation with your children about some of the basics of our faith. Ask them questions and then really listen to what their little hearts have to say. ("Did you know that God made everything?" "What do you think it was like when Adam and Eve were with God in the garden?" "What's the best thing about Jesus?") 
  7. Print off some Catholic coloring pages and sit and color with your kids.  
  8.  Offer to babysit for a friend so she can go out and get a cup of coffee by herself! 
  9. Invite the neighbor kids over for a snack or a fun activity.  
  10. Listen to a recording of the Rosary or another form of meditative prayer while doing household chores. 
  11. Spend as much time outside as possible! The fresh air and all the dirt is good for your soul. Maybe talk a little about some of the saints that spent a lot of time in nature. 
  12. Try to pray a decade of the Rosary before bed. If you have very little ones, they can play with a wooden or silicone children's rosary while you pray (we have this and this). If you have trouble concentrating while praying with children, you can use this audio recording that I love (find it here - free with Amazon prime). 
  13. Listen to a podcast like Catholic Answers Live or Pints with Aquinas that will inform and equip you to share your faith.  
  14. Dedicate five minutes to reading a little bit of the Catechism.  
  15. Write a letter to your local representatives affirming the sanctity of life and the need for its protection under the law.  
  16. Share your faith online, whether by writing a Facebook post for your friends and family to see or by writing articles, essays, and posts on a blog.  

out & about -Share the Gospel, be a witness, and care for others 

  1. Make the Sign of the Cross and pray before meals at restaurants.  Lily learned a special prayer at preschool that she always leads us in, having us repeat after her. I've actually had a few people come up to me and tell us how much they appreciated me praying with my children - you never know who's listening/watching and this is such an easy way for your family to be a witness for the Church! 
  2. Get in the habit of telling people to have a "blessed" day instead of just a good one. Half of the employees at Chick-fil-A do this and it always surprises me, in such a good way! 
  3. Carry around miraculous medals, rosaries, or religious bracelets and give them out to people you come across. Lily loves doing this & it's a whole lot harder for people to say no to a three year-old in a tutu. 
  4. Use any leftover gift cards to purchase baby items for your local life-affirming pregnancy center. We did this last week and donated in memory of the baby we lost to miscarriage and it was such a blessing for my heart. 
  5. Take your donations of food or clothing down to a Catholic charity location - bring your little ones and have them help! It's so as important for them to participate in this and to know that it's something your family does. 
  6. If you work out at a gym, pray while you exercise! Sometimes I'll walk/jog on the treadmill while praying silently with a rosary in my hand. 
  7. Go out with an evangelization team like Saint Paul Street Evangelization to non-aggressively and lovingly share the gospel. Learn more abou SPSE here
  8. Take your wild and crazy children to Mass and lovingly encourage them to participate in the Liturgy in whatever way they can. Easier said than done, but still worth a try. 
  9. Be brave, find a perpetual adoration chapel, and go to adoration! Teach your little ones about Jesus' presence in the Blessed Sacrament and the power of prayer.  
  10. Meet any criticism or discouragement with kindness and charity. If someone made a rude comment about your crying baby in Mass (well, hopefully not, but it does happen sometimes) - use this as an opportunity to quote Pope Francis  “…children cry, they are noisy, they don’t stop moving. But it really irritates me when I see a child crying in church and someone says they must go out. God’s voice is in a child’s tears: they must never be kicked out of church.”
  11.  If you ever feel the Holy Spirit nudging you to do something - whether it's to start a conversation with someone at the store, or to go to a specific place, or to pray for something - listen and act. If whatever you are feeling like you need to do is something good, virtuous, kind, or loving - it doesn't matter if you "aren't sure if it's really God". God is good, so doing good is always His will. I've given balloons to random people, I've given gift cards to random people... it might be uncomfortable but so far, nobody's gotten mad at me for giving them nice things. 
  12. In the coffee shop drive thru, pay for the car behind you. I promise the  baristas won't think you're weird. 
  13. If you have any abortion clinics in your town, join a group to pray in front of one of them. If you decide to do this - remember to be kind and loving to the employees and patients - never yell or condemn them. There will usually be training to go out with these groups and they discourage people going out on their own because this is such a sensitive situation. Remember that you will do more harm than good if you are rude, condescending, or come across as hateful. 
  14. Consider becoming a Child Advocate to assist families and children. 
  15. Consider becoming a foster parent.  
  16. Attend a peaceful protest of legalized abortion, euthanasia, or any other laws/practices that undermine the sanctity of life.  
  17. Purchase a pack of gift cards to Starbucks (or any quick service restaurant) in small increments - I've noticed most grocery stores have 4-packs in $10 increments - and keep them within arm's reach while driving to give out to homeless people on street corners. Greet them with a smile, let them know how much is on the gift card ("There's $10 on here, so that should be enough for a cup of coffee and a sandwich! There's a Starbucks right down the corner that way...") and ask how you can pray for them. 

A fresh start: Tea with Tolkien

After five or six years of sharing our family's story through these beautiful pages, I wanted to write to say that I'll be taking a step back from this blog of sorts. It's been quite a wild ride and I'm so grateful to those who have followed along, but I'm doing my best to pursue my dreams and they are leading me in a different direction. 
I've noticed, for a long while, that writing about a couple of things bring me an enormous amount of joy, yet they didn't seem to be a great fit for my readers in this place. I've written so many posts on theology & literature (specifically Tolkien) that didn't seem to quite fit in with what I had going on here. I absolutely love being a mother, but I don't find joy in writing about it in the same way anymore. I love doing crafts but I am definitely not a crafty blogger, especially since I have such a haphazard method of doing them that I can't even remember well enough to write it out well. And there are hundreds of other Catholic mama blogs on the internet, and these mamas are so passionate about what they write that it truly shows. 
So if you need me, I'll be over at Tea with Tolkien from here on. :) 
Lots of love,

Catholic New Year's Resolutions

Monday, November 27, 2017

This morning, the First Sunday of Advent, marked the beginning of a new liturgical year in the Church so everything has been feeling so shiny and new, like the first day of a new year should - and I'm writing to tell you Happy Catholic New Year!
It's like a blank canvas, or a starting page, and with that comes such a great deal of hope. It is so fitting that Advent begins our liturgical year because it is so specifically about hope - we walk alongside the expectant virgin mother and her spouse as we await the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ! There is so much joy in all of it, but we experience it a more quiet way than the joy of Christmas. During Advent, we try to simplify our lives, to reflect on the true meaning of Christmas, and to prepare our hearts for Christ's arrival.

With a new year comes resolutions. And while some resolutions may be silly or superficial, setting goals or at least being mindful about our faith life at the start of each new year can truly enrich and deepen our walk with Christ in so many ways.

If we take this day (or this week) to reflect on our lives in the past year, we can begin to see what spiritual, emotional, physical, etc. habits we've developed and what sort of impact it's had on our life in general and especially our faith life.

Here are a few resources to help us reflect & discern which areas we might need to make a change:

In this new liturgical year, I've felt that I really need to make more time for intentional & disciplined daily prayer and Scripture study. For me, this is the biggest change I see myself needing to make. I'm going to try to pray the Rosary once a week, to figure out which part of my day I can consistently set aside for prayer and Bible reading, and also try to visit our parish perpetual adoration chapel once a week. I'd also like to grow closer to and better understand Mary and the Saints - I'd particularly like to try to understand what role they play in my life (new Catholic problem). I thought this episode of Coffee & Pearls was inspiring (as always) - Find Your Saint BFF.

I'm so thankful for you and I hope you are walking into Advent with a feeling of joyful renewal and hope as we prepare our hearts for Christmas!

What are your Catholic New Year's resolutions? Share them in the comments - I'd love to hear what your prayers and goals are for this new year, and I'd be so blessed to be able to pray for you in any way!