motherhood

“And Mary treasured all these things in her heart.” Luke 2:19

It is 10:28pm.

One Master Luke is asleep after vomiting for the second time.

The house is again quiet, the street outside hums with traffic and for the meantime I am alone to ponder in the silence.

“And Mary treasured all these things in her heart”

images

As I travel along this path of motherhood, I too find myself storing, pondering, treasuring a wonderous assortment of things. Some pass fleetingly through the central business district of my mind as clouds on a windy day, while others stamp their permanent mark with dramatic force or quietly dig themselves a burrow to be rediscovered in God’s timing.

To ponder is part of motherhood.

Our precious Mother Mary, from infancy, had a heart prepared for the great joys, trials and sufferings she would bear through her Son Jesus. No woman, no mother has ever had the fortitude, humility and grace that Our Lady did to ponder such extraordinary events and to continue on with her daily life trusting in the will of God. From Simeon’s prophecy ( “a sword shall pierce your heart” Luke 2:35) to the finding of the child Jesus at the temple (““Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” Luke 2:49), Mary must have pondered often as she cooked and cleaned and went about her chores. She must have gazed at Jesus crawling on the floor, observed him as he climbed a tree and sighed as she saw him learn from St Joseph the tools of carpentry. Those words, those events would have weighed heavily on my heart, but for her they were treasures, rare gifts of knowledge and preparation for the path of suffering she would walk one day with her beloved Son.

As we begin this new year, I have much to ponder and much to give thanks for.

I have four beautiful children who are growing so quickly physically, mentally and spiritually. I have one precious yet unknown child growing within me and are once again struck by the incredible mystery of the womb, the crafting place of Almighty God. I have a husband who after 10 years of marriage is still able to astound me with his passion and wisdom and inspire me with his conviction. I have a vocation that is overflowing with life and I have no choice but to let it take me where it runs.

God has given mother’s the gift of pondering… treasuring…. because when your life is overflowing, those words, those moments in which God is present and speaking, can be missed. By storing both little and small moments, God is able to work in a mother’s heart in the still silence of her inner being and when the time is right, He sheds His glorious light upon His work and we have one of those startling “Ah HA!” moments while washing the dishes.

So often have I been struck with an “Ah Ha” that leaves me speechless and feeling unworthily blessed.

The weekend before last was one of those moments. It was my 31st birthday and the 3rd anniversary of the big earthquake that significantly damaged my home city and resulted in the loss of 185 lives. I knew it was going to be a joyful and painful time celebrating and remembering. However, we were invited to come along to a Latin Mass at the Carmelite monastery on Saturday morning. It was to be said by Fr Antony of the Sons of the Most Holy Redeemer and as it has been in discussion for a while, our Master Luke (6) was asked to serve for the first time. This was the cause of great excitement for our children. To top this off, Fr Antony asked if we would like to be enrolled in the Co-fraternity of the Brown Scapular. Here is where the “Ah Ha” moment occurred!

Through out my childhood and youth, I had a great desire to be a nun. From wearing a “mother Teresa” style tea towel on my head while drying dishes, to spending lots of time reading about the Saints, I felt passionately about giving my life completely to Jesus. At the age of 19, in the year following the tragic death of my brother David, I went to daily Mass at the Carmelite monastery. In those precious morning Masses I felt the presence of God’s peace so strongly. Like a healing balm on my wounded soul, I felt the call of Carmel, the call to separation from the world and full union with Jesus. I once again desired greatly to shed the world and to be clothed in the habit of religious life. But as I corresponded with the beautiful sisters, they encouraged me to continue praying and discerning outside of their walls and consider coming to stay with them after I turned 21. Well God had other plans (which is another story) and by the time I was 21, I was married to Matthew and was pregnant with my first baby, Sunshine. That call, those moments of grace were stored deep within me, put away to ponder, put away as treasures.

Saturday morning was VERY warm and miraculously all six of us were at the monastery by 8am. As I walked into the chapel, I was overcome with the very same peace and sense of home that I had felt all those years ago. But as I prayed during the Mass and watched my son serve with such reverence and dignity; as I listened to the voices of the sisters behind their grill and heard the words of Father’s sermon on the Brown Scapular, God shed his glorious light upon those treasures from long ago and I heard His voice anew.

His call to Carmel had been authentic. His call on my life had not been a figment of my grieving heart. His call was not just for me, it was for my family. It was for Matthew, Sunshine, Master Luke, Curly Sue, Fuzz and the little one within me. As we all knelt on the sanctuary following Mass, Fr Antony prayed the prayers of enrollment and placed a Brown Scapular over each of our heads. I knelt and pondered. I knelt and gave thanks. I lifted up my heart and declared the glory of a Heavenly Father who in His time brings all things to Himself.

1959505_10152240530314662_310753442_n

Master Luke is in the front

We MUST ponder and we MUST treasure those moments in our hearts as Mary did. God has made us the hearts of our homes and it is our duty and privilege to be the safe keepers of His Divine plans. I look forward with such joy for the “Ah Ha” times ahead. Some may bring great suffering and some may bring great joy, but all will be part of God’s marvelous plan for our lives and the lives of our families. Let us give thanks for He is good and his love is everlasting!

Blessings

Ruth

 

 

 

 

A little is enough when done with great love!

The prospect of going from our winter into a mid-west American winter and missing most of our summer, is certainly not the most pleasant of thoughts…. BUT… on winter days like today when the temperature is a “balmy” 12 degrees, my french doors are open to the deck, washing is outside (what a thought!)  and I can relax about Fuzz and mud… I say THANK YOU GOD!!! 🙂

Sunshine the bookworm… can’t put the book down even to eat her afternoon tea!

Fuzz eyeing up Master Luke’s fruit kebab 🙂

After a few weeks of VERY wet weather, the sunshine is delectable! I’m so sure my exhausted and at times ratty children were due to lack of Vitamin D and the general “pick me up” that is fresh air!

I have heard it mentioned often amongst bloggers, facebookers and general social media gurus, that being a mum is especially hard today as their is SO much advice being given and so many mums out there who seem to be doing a better job than yourself. I too am prone to this comparison game, particularly in the area of home making and the faith formation of my children. At the beginning of the year at a Catholic family camp, a wonderful friend of mine and I were giving a talk on motherhood and we brought this topic up. A friend of ours said to me something along the lines of… “But who says you should be these things? Why do YOU feel like you should compare?”.

I felt humbled… as indeed in the grand scheme of things, why should I compare myself? Why should any of us feel as if there is a certain list of achievements or comestic attributes we should tick off before we can hold our chins up as parents and home makers… as women?

I can only answer this question for myself…

It is because I know perfection in Jesus Christ and I know perfection in motherhood through Our Lady…

Do I measure up?

NO

I am like a sieve, ugly and full of holes next to a perfectly carved wooden bowl, glossy and radiant…

This is what I see, but what God sees is so different. I am a growing tree, it’s branches spread, bearing beautiful fruit and weathering many storms. One day, He will fashion from me a vessel, truly worthy of Himself… but for now I must not compare but do what I can, when I can and ALL IN LOVE! 🙂

So to celebrate the Queenship of Mary (22nd August) I pinned heaps of ideas on Pinterest, dreamed up a whole week of activities and devotions, got all sure of my ability to give my children the best foundation of faith…. and then watched as my plans crumbled. Busy days, swimming lessons, teething toddlers, bad sleeps, driving over 250km around town, dishes, washing and more washing… ate away at my time and energy. Tuesday night came along and I knew that once again I was going to “fail” at providing an enriched experience of Catholic tradition for my children…

… then God intervened…

11:30pm I am struck with the simple, wonderful thought…

“Do the children see what you haven’t done or do they see what you have?”

I jumped out of bed, ran to the school room…. looked for gold paper…. none…. sparkly purple foam? that’ll do Ruth, that’ll do! Blue material… blue material… where can I find blue material? Blue paper! I’ll use paper…. grab the rosary beads, our beautiful Mary statue, family prayer candle…. BALLOONS! I have blue balloons left over from Curly Sue’s birthday!

I soon had our breakfast table decorated with a simple centre piece, Mary crowned in sparkly purple foam surrounded by rosary beads. Each chair had a blue balloon and the best part was the peace which I felt :). I had done SOMETHING…. maybe not what I would have liked… but something 🙂

I was greeted in the morning by genuine, pure delight from Curly Sue and Master Luke!

“Mary’s crown is so beautiful mummy!” – Master Luke

“Boo balloons mum just like Mary’s boo!” – Curly Sue

 Happy, babbling noises from Xavier as he gave Mary cuddles and took her crown on and off!

I have certainly learnt a valuable lesson this week!

To sign of this post I want to leave you with three images of the crowning of Mary that my kids chose themselves 🙂

Master Luke chose this one because “It just jumped out at me and said YES!”

Sunshine chose this one because “I like the way she is drawn rising up to heaven”

(more the assumption…but that was last week so it still counts! :))

Curly Sue chose this one because “she has a really big cape!”

Mary Queen of Heaven… pray for us!

Blessings!

Ruth

 

10 tricks to survive grocery shopping with kids!

Image

7am

The sun is still slumbering, the world is quiet and dark.

I figure the road works and “No entry” signs don’t really mean anything at this hour of day, so my route to the super market is much more straightforward. (constant time waster in Christchurch these days! :))

Three cars in the car park.

Hundreds of shiny trolleys lined up in immaculate rows.

Shelves laden with rows of lined up food and the faint sound of music playing through speakers.

For a busy mum… this is supermarket heaven!!

Well, that didn’t happen Saturday as our weekend was punctuated with various activities and lack of sleeping babes.

So, off to the very busy, people congested, mid morning mayhem of supermarket shopping with four kids in tow!

How did I do it without turning prematurely grey?

My 10 tricks to survive grocery shopping with kids

  1. Feed them, water them and toliet/change them BEFORE leaving!!
  2. Come prepared…. crackers, nappies, wipes, drink bottle, book, dummy… anything that could act as a distraction or time filler
  3. Restrain those who can be restrained :)…. I love those double seated trolleys, perfect for Curly Sue (2yrs) and Fuzz (1 on thurs!).
  4. Establish simple but firm guidelines for walking (running!) kids eg. no touching, be aware of other shoppers, stay where you can see mum (& she can see you… these ARE entirely different things!), when Mum says hold trolley…. HOLD TROLLEY! 🙂
  5. Engage with your shopping helpers… talk about the displays, colours they can see, what would they cook with eggplant (sorry bad example!!), how many packets of different peas can they see etc. Make up stories… sing songs (some are brave enough!)
  6. Those that can be helpful…. UTILISE!!! Get them picking up the low items (especially handy when pregnant!) and running ahead in the isle to get items on the list.
  7. Don’t bellow! As hard as it may be, calmly deal with any craziness. It is a well known fact that children often suffer from supermarket sillies and lose all sense of decorum, Calmly approach the afflicted and CALMLY inform them of what is not ok and then give them a job or I have the “hold onto the side of the trolley until I say you can let go” for the more severe cases.
  8. Don’t break the bank, but include in your shop something that will inspire piety in your helpers, that they may consume as soon as the shop is over.
  9. Arm yourself with distraction items for the check out and activate “mummy vision” to stay on top of check out trolley swipers! (Fuzz was in fine form this morning with the chocolate bars!)
  10. If you go to a supermarket where you pack your own groceries, line your helpers up on the floor beside the trolley (mine like to sit under the packing bay bench) and feed them their well deserved treat. This should buy you a little time and peace to quickly pack your items and leave before anything can destroy your successful trip to the supermarket!

Pat yourself on the back!! You have managed to undertake something that makes the single and childless quake in their boots…. and hopefully you still have a fine head of hair 🙂

Blessings

Ruth

I choose to be consciously competent!

I have very wise parents.

They have been married for 40 years, raised a family of 5 and love each other more now, than they did all those years ago :). Their secret, to Give without counting the cost.

This simple, but profound moto, is infinitely deep.

Those six words, are summed up in the very act of our Salvation.

God is Love and Love is total gift of oneself. 

No strings.

No conditions.

No selfishness.

No resentment.

Nothings impure or imperfect.

Now, I’m not saying my parents are perfect, as they would readily agree, but they ACTIVELY choose to Love each other each day, and that has been their secret 🙂

On our Catholic family camp recently, they spoke about The Law of the Gift and in particular how we need to be “consciously competent” when loving those God has given us.

What is “consciously competent”?

It is a term coined in the field of psychology.The four stages of competence label our process of learning, and “conscious competence” is stage three. See the diagram below…

Image

The reason I want to share this with you, is that this has been significant for me in how I parent! As fantastic as it would be to reach “unconscious competence” as a parent, to be utterly fabulous, a multi-tasking, compassionate, meek & mild, always positive, evangelising super Mum, the reality is quite different!

My Dad spoke at the camp about choosing to stay at the “conscious competence” stage when choosing to love. To always be aware of what we need to do and making a choice to do it, is so important when it comes to love.

Love is not a habit! 

Love is a living breathing life force that we must surrender to each day and allow, by our actions and words, to shine out of us.

I choose to be a consciously competent parent.

I choose to be a loving and compassionate parent, slow to anger and merciful in action.

As a mum of four gorgeous treasures, each at different challenging stages, this choice is a LIFE LINE for my sanity!

Yesterday I prayed, begged God to give me the grace to choose… and though not perfectly, I DID CHOOSE! The day handed me many opportunities to loose the plot.

My tin of sewing pins was strewn across my wooden slat floors, creating a forest of upright pins.

Playdough was eaten and squished into carpet. 

Ears were not turned on and friendly wrestles became causes of pain.

2 year old rages and screaming weeblies wore patience down like nails on a blackboard.

Excited, energetic dancing and singing caused supermarket hazards.

(after writing all that I feel that I have to say my kids are actually really well behaved 🙂 )

There are days like this, when at every turn you are faced with a choice; to turn into a fire breathing dragon or a lighthouse in the stormy sea.

Yesterday, with the grace of God, I was a lighthouse.

The difference…. miraculous 🙂

In the face of chaos, I had joy. In the front line of rage, I had peace. In the midst of disobedience, I had merciful love.

Today, the challenge is set!

I CHOOSE TO BE CONSCIOUSLY COMPETENT!

blessings

Ruth

The way of a mother (poem)

Image

On those wakeful nights

When all is not right

Gethsamane,

help me to see

Image

When illness does knock

Around the clock

Calvary,

help me to see

Image

Those times of unknown

When answers have flown

The Tomb,

I’ll wait

patiently

Image

Daily life, daily strife

As Mother and Wife

In You, reborn

In You, a new dawn

A heavenwards

journey

 

by me

(inspired by Our Lady’s way of sorrow)