Today’s blog post comes from Ellen Mongan. She is one of the presenters for an upcoming, online, and FREE conference for moms. The best part? You can pick and choose which presentations you wish to listen to! Registrations for Catholic Conference 4 Moms begins today. Check them out and register for prizes. You can also follow on Twitter or like their Facebook page. Enjoy!
I have come to bring “Good News!” St. Catherine says, “Bring Jesus to people and people to Jesus.” I hope to do this, my sisters in Christ, by giving you the tools to balance your life as an everyday wife. My ministry is, as it says in Psalms is, “to pass the faith done to the next generation.”
Do any of you readers love to wear hats? I sure do! My head is right at home in a hat. I tell women the outside of us is visual of what lives on the inside. Inside my heart lives Jesus Christ my Savior, “Who was and is and is to come.” Christ in us is our hope of glory. Two ways I honor him is by my words and by my action. Another way I honor Him is by my life. So I try to be my best me. Little did I know that I would wear so many hats in my life. I guess you could say that with the wholehearted, “YES,” to the vocation of wife and mother comes a very full life. Here are some of my hats.
- I am a daughter of God.
- I am a wife.
- I am a mother.
- I am a homemaker.
- I am a daughter, a daughter-in-law, a sister, and a friend.
- I am a human being.
Do you notice the words before the roles I play in this world? My titles all began with “I AM”! Now where have we heard those words before? Yes, in the Bible when Moses was called to do a really really important role in Biblical history. Moses did not have a swelled head, not at all. Moses was very full of humility. My bible says he was even barefoot out of reverence, when he asked the burning bush, I must add. Here is how he greeted our Holy God for the first time, “who are you!” In the fire of God’s presence the unforgettable answer came from the voice of God —”I AM!!” If I were a betting woman, I am willing to bet that Moses never asked that question again. Why? It is because the words were etched in his memory forever.
When I think of all the hats I need to balance, I could also be more specific.
- I am a daughter of God by the grace of God.
- I am a wife to Deacon Pat by the grace of God.
- I am a mother to my eight children by the grace of God.
- I am a homemaker.
- I am a daughter to Bill and Eleanor Manfredi, a daughter-in-law, a sister and a friend, by the grace of God.
- I am a human being by the grace of God.
How do I balance all these hats on my head? It is only by the grace of God. The “I AM,” has to hold it all together. You see my friends, without the “I AM,” in my life, not only am I nothing but also my life is nothing. So I can only walk the tight rope of my life better known as the narrow road, through His grace. Dear God give us the grace to seek your face. how many of you can walk that tightrope perfectly, daily? If you say, “Yes, I do” I will be forced to shout out “Pinnocchio!” or “Liar, liar, pants on fire!” If we each look ourselves in the mirror, we are reminded of who we actually are and how many defects get in the way of our serving our living Savior Jesus Christ. Picture yourself on a Monday morning or better yet, on a hot summer day in July with a house full of children, better known as Blessings, (see Proverbs, “Children area blessing from the Lord. Blessed is he who has his quiver full.) Half-way through the day do you lift your hands up in the air and shout with all your heart, “God help me! I cannot do this!” Mom, you are not alone. Moms everywhere are praying that same prayer, sometimes in the middle of the night. God hears it, “God neither slumbers nor sleeps.” It is probably the number one prayer that moms pray.
God’s Word says, “I will keep you in perfect peace whose eyes are set on Me”. Also, in the book of Matthew, it says, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” He alone can be trusted to guide our path to a balance in life for the everyday life.
God must always come first, yes, even if you have a houseful of children. Let’s make that, especially if you have a houseful of children! Never have I needed God more than when I was raising my seven close-together children, especially since I had the first six in twelve years. Yes, life was busy and that is just why God had to live in the center of my heart; I was incapable of doing all that I had to do without Him. I may slack off my prayer time for a day or two now, but not in those days. I needed lots of grace just to get through those sleepless nights with a newborn, then be awake enough the next morning to put a smile on my face while carpooling all the children to school and beyond with my lipstick on. Abundant Grace was necessary, especially if I had anew potty trainer thrown into the mix. My friend, Sue, used to say, “Without the grace, I can’t do this, Lord!” Sue raised eight close-together children. You know that old saying, “I don’t know my own strength!” Well, we did. our strength came totally from God. It still does. “His grace is sufficient; His power works best in our weakness” God even adds in His words that there are two things to boast about; 1) “If you are to boast, boast in the Lord!”, 2) Paul said, “I boast about my weakness because, in my weakness He is my strength.”
I learned to sit at the feet of Jesus daily to seek His face. I have learned to pray for the grace to live each day for Him. I have learned to ask for His wisdom that I need to live my life in my vocation of wife and mother. I have learned to listen for His still, small voice of direction which if obeyed keeps my life in balance without having one of my hats fall off. I learned to embrace my vocation through daily prayer, the reading of God’s Word and daily attendance at Mass whenever possible. Yes, I have made it my purpose in life to get to know God.
The old Baltimore Catechism says, “Why did God make you?” The answer of course is, “God made me to know Him, to love Him and to serve Him, and to be happy with Him one day in heaven.” To know God is to love God. To love God is to serve God, and then we will be happy with him in heaven one day. I thank God that He was able to train some Proverbs 31 qualities in me through the years. I talk to moms all over the country. They always say the same thing to me, “I have two, three, or four children, and I do not have time to pray.” My answer is always the same, “Ma’am, I have eight children and I did not have time not to pray.” Besides prayer balance takes discipline, effort, wisdom, and time. Last of all, it takes lots of practice! Did you ever try juggling seven balls in the air? Remember that practice makes perfect. Try adding only one ball at a time.
In my younger motherhood days, my prayer time was at 10:00 on the dot. I had a date with my God. I was never late and I would not consider cancelling it. I would give the preschoolers some toys in the play room, take the nursing baby with me, (mostly so no one killed the baby), and then I would sit down at the kitchen table to pray. For that hour of peace and quiet everyone was instructed to not bother mom because she was praying. Short of an emergency, no one did. That was God’s gift to me. I would sing praise songs, read scripture, journal, and intercede before the throne of God and it was Glorious. Then at 11:00 on the dot, after listening for that still small voice from God for any direction, correction, or encouragement for my day, I was ready to face the world of mother and wife, my chosen vocation, Focused and Refreshed. As I look back on my life and watch my girls trod the path I have paved, with children of their own, I know it was God who saw me through. Like my friend Sue said, “WITHOUT THE GRACE, I CAN’T DO THIS, LORD.”
As the day progressed I would include my little ones in centering my day on God. We would light a candle each day together and sing the song “This Is the Day.” Throughout the day we would sing praise songs, and whenever I could, I would respond to them in scripture. For instance, if they were impatient, I would sing, “Have patience; have patience. Don’t be in such a hurry. When you get impatient, you only start to worry.” Now my girls sing it to their children, passing the torch. Scripture says, “Speak to your children day and night about God.” We tried, in our home, to do just that, closing the day with prayer. At night, my husband was in charge of praying with them and putting them to sleep. My husband also led morning prayers, usually with a decade of the Rosary before the children left for school.
Never was the expression, “It’s only through the grace of God,” more true, than in motherhood. My advice to you is put God first, and the rest of the day will fall into place. So mom, begin today finding ways to make Jesus Lord of your day. You’ll be surprised at how peaceful your days will become. Joan of Arc said, “God first.” She would frequent the sacrament of Confession, especially if she was to fight a battle.
Balance is one of the hardest things that I learned in the spiritual journey — better known as living life God’s Way. Sometimes I walked the tight robe with easy and sometimes I fell to the ground, on my face before God. Slowly and steadily I learn to take one day at a time and one step at a time. Some areas are easier for me to balance than others. You will find the same true for you as well. Human nature or the flesh will want us to only work on the area that are easy for us, but just like children have to eat their vegetables and do math homework, growth comes when we choose rightly.
I had the faith and confidence to know that if I put God first an sought His grace through prayer and the Sacraments, He would help me achieve a balanced life for me the everyday wife. I learned to pray about everything, seek wise council, and listen to my husband. I learned that saying No when my plate was already full gave me great peace. So let that peace reign. Now I always seek peace and pursue it. Most of all, I learned the word Surrender, yes daily surrender. I seek the face of God daily and listen for His still small voice to guide my path. Then I do what He tells me. As we all know, some days are better than others. Just as I go to the Doctor when my body is not feeling well, I go to confession when my soul is not well, and I have lost my way. I try to do my best and leave to God the rest.
When I was before the Eucharist, the Lord said to me in my heart. He said, “Tell my daughters, that of all the hats you wear in this life, the most important hat of all is to one day wear the Crown of Life. Live your life for Him, my Sisters in Christ. This world is passing away. Life for Him alone. Live your life to please your Heavenly Father, your audience of One. Mother Teresa of Calcutta says, “You are not called to be successful, but faithful.” Someday you will stand before the throne of God. What are the words you long to hear as He Himself places the crown of life on your head? The Gospel of Matthew says, “Well done, good and faithful servant. ” What will your Heavenly Father say to you?
On this journey of the road of mother and wife, I have learned that God gives you one hat at a time and it always fits our heads perfectly. Order brings peace and when I keep my life well-ordered and balanced, peace reigns in my heart, in my home, and in my little world where Jesus reigns. Ladies, you can walk up a hill with a backpack which is full of bricks or you can fly on the wings of God’s Holy Spirit. Choose to live your Catholic faith daily and God will give you the grace to have a balance in your life. Please enjoy the ride right to the heart of Jesus. Don’t forget to put your hat on!