Reclaiming Joy Week 1

Hello friend, welcome to Reclaiming Joy!

I wanted to start off this series focusing on the spiritual life because it is the foundation for all of the other subjects in this series and the key to reclaiming joy!

Joy doesn’t equal happiness

This is an important distinction to make as we discuss reclaiming joy in our lives. Happiness is an emotion that depends circumstance. We feel happy when things are going well. When our finances are looking up, when our children behave, or when we’re indulging in a big scoop of ice-cream on cheat day. Happiness is dictated by outside influences.Joy, however goes much deeper.

At a Mass in 2014 Pope Francis reflected on Christian joy saying: “If you have peace, you have the seed of joy that will come later. ”

We find joy through peace and we find peace in surrendering to the will of God. Letting go of our expectations and putting our trust in divine providence makes room in our souls to receive the grace of peace. We have joy because we have the love of God, trust in that love, and hope that we will inherit what is promised to us, in this life or the next.

You may be thinking, “Okay Cait, that makes sense from a spiritual angle, but what does surrender have to do with my work, family, home and daily life?”

In short: Everything!

When we’re faced with a challenging circumstance or unpleasant task, we can either resist the struggle, or embrace it. The struggle exists no matter what. If we whine and complain through the challenges we face, we lose the lesson, stunt our growth and get stuck in a funk. Finding the beauty that lies in our trials means we don’t miss out on the merit we can gain from enduring them.

So how do we practice these things? By developing routines, frequenting the sacraments and infusing our lives with prayer.

Reset your routine

Routine is a friend of spirituality. A great example of this is the way those in religious life structure their days. Franciscan Friars, for example follow this Honorarium:

6am Divine Office, 6:30-7:30 morning meditation, 7:30 morning prayer, 7:50 holy Mass, 12pm midday prayer, 5:00 evening prayer, 5-6pm holy hour, 9:15 night prayer and rosary.

This daily schedule isn’t as feasible for those of us in other vocations, but we can certainly learn from their holy examples. Whether it’s early morning quiet time with coffee and your Bible, a midday rosary over lunch, or reading a spiritual book before bed, find a routine that works for you and stick to it!

This approach is valuable when it comes to the sacraments as well. Make Mass as often as you can, confess regularly and visit Jesus in Adoration on certain days of the week. Repetition makes a habit and scheduling time to practice your faith makes you more likely to follow through.

Infuse your days with prayer

It can be tough to stick to set routines when you have a full and busy life. I used to struggle a lot with balancing my spirituality with home making and raising my kids until I learned to blend it all together!

I used to think that I had to sit in a dark, quiet room, away from my rambunctious household in order to pray my daily rosary. I’d get settled and in the zone only to be interrupted by noise or someone else’s needs. I would let weeks pass without a visit to the chapel because I thought that I should go alone. It was frustrating and discouraging.

But one day while running errands, I felt a pull in my heart for Adoration. I knew exposition was happening in a Church nearby and wanted to go, but I had my two littles with me and worried they’d disturb the reverence.

But then I remembered the words of Jesus,” Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” I can’t tell you how much of a blessing it has been to have them there. The other worshippers find their energy refreshing, their expressions of faith, inspiring. Some of my most cherished moments with my children have happened there in the presence of Jesus Christ.

Once I let go of the pious expectations I had built around my spiritual life, everything changed. I began to stress less when my toddler wiggled and giggled through mass. I started praying on my feet, through all the chores and interruptions. I led loud family rosaries and did my reading during nap time. I offered my effort in workouts and walks and I found out this truth; That we don’t need to lock ourselves away in a closet to commune with the Lord in our homes. God meets us where we are. On the treadmill, in the nursery, yup, even over the kitchen sink!

Embrace the Domestic Church

Leading by example is the most powerful tool we have when bringing up children in the faith. As I’ve grown in spiritual maturity and motherhood I’ve embraced the domestic church more and more. Many Christian parents wrongly believe that the Church is responsible for the spiritual development of their children, but the home is the first school of faith.

How do you cultivate your domestic church? Keep sacramentals and sacred images in your home, create a little oratory where your family can pray, start traditions to celebrate feast days and make prayer a part of every day. Your domestic church doesn’t have to look a certain way. Incorporate art that moves you, saints you love and items that fit your taste and personal style.

Pray anyway

Even the best routines and most efficacious devotions can become stale after a while. When the fire inside you starts to fade, look for inspiration. Reclaim wonder and reinvigorate your faith by reading the lives of the saints, listening to a powerful message, going on a retreat or jamming out to your favorite worship song. Summon the holy spirit, ask for help and be open to see the little winks God gives to encourage you along the way. Keep fighting the good fight!

What helps you reclaim joy in your spiritual life? Share the routines and habits that work for you in the comments!

❤ Cait

The Kitchen Sink

We live in quite a fortunate time in history in terms of modern convenience. Of the many modern conveniences I enjoy each day a dishwasher is not one of them. With a growing family that means visiting the sink often to stay on top of the ever present pile of mugs and plates. Sure, there are times I’d prefer to toss them in the waste basket but soon I found the menial task had become a welcome reprieve.

The windowsill above the sink once held all of the hallmark nick-knacks of a well loved mama; assorted bottles of sand art, heart-shaped rocks, small potted herbs, perfect pine cones and gifts from little hearts and hands. One gift was a small cross that reads “Peace, be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10” One day I was on a re-arranging kick and I decided to (finally!) clear and clean the sill. I was moving all my chotchkies into an old shoebox but when I reached for the cross I hesitated, deciding to leave it where it was.

When I went back later on to do the dishes (again!) I read the message over and over. I found myself thinking deeply, staring through the humble kitchen window at the trees in the yard where my pets and children play. Warm water ran over, soothing my busy hands as I thanked God for the opportunity to be still and rest in his peace. By the time the last spoon hit the drying rack I felt my anxieties drain with the suds and dingy water. The little cross which I barely noticed before served as a gentle reminder and the chore became transformed.

Over time I have added other meaningful things to the sill and it has become a sort of altar in my home; a special place I go to pray over my family, water my herbs, offer up the work of my hands, and set my intentions for the day. It just goes to show anything can become meditative, prayerful and intentional even simple tasks. We don’t need only to be in church or on the mountain top to grow in our spirituality. God’s extraordinary presence can enrich even these ordinary parts of our lives and reveal a deeper meaning in the mundane. Now don’t get me wrong, I may not completely enjoy doing the dishes every day (every mom knows the “angry clean” LOL!) but I do know that if I approach this and all things in love, myself and those around me are simply better for it! Let’s let go of our expectations and allow God to reach us exactly where we are.

What do you do to fit in time for quiet contemplation? Comment below!

❤ Cait

 

 

A year ago today…

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A year ago today a test confirmed what I already knew in my heart and tender tummy to be true, I was expecting a baby again after 9 years! In that moment so many thoughts and emotions swirled around me. I looked through happy tears at the blurry image of my proud husband’s face and he said, “We’re having a baby! There’s going to be a crib in here soon!” and I thought back to a daydream.

I was driving to pick up my eldest daughter after a particularly long and exhausting work day. At this time I was working full-time, taking classes at community college part-time  and planning my wedding (I tend to be anxious and not very organized sometimes!) and I was just stressed and exhausted with the go-go-go pace I had been keeping up for far too long. As I drove along my heart projected sweet visions on the walls of my mind..

Rocking my husband’s first child in the quiet morning light, breathing in that heady baby aroma, bird serenades carried in on the breeze of an open window, essential coffee smell mixing in from the kitchen. I snapped back to reality and immediately my attention was captured by a rainbow of color in the sky just ahead of me. Tucked among the usual white was a bright iridescent cloud! Rainbows have been significant to me in my spiritual life and it was as if God was reassuring me, reminding me that He knows the desires of my heart. That small passing brilliance, was to me the gentlest reminder to be patient and trust in His perfect timing.

After a wedding and one tough pregnancy the visions of my heart have come to fruition. Our baby daughter has changed our family for the better. Our hearts and arms are fuller because of her. Ten years with my first precious daughter went too quickly! I have learned that time can be hard on a mama’s heart. That knowing reminds me to savor each moment that much more. Even in the mess and stress, my mundane life is made magic in joy inexpressible and love unconditional.

When I mention the age difference between my girls sometimes people take on an exasperated tone and poke fun at me saying, “Wow! Starting all over again, huh?” and I say yes and my soul laughs as the smile in my heart blooms across my face.

Do any of you have a big age difference between your children? If so tell me about it in the comments!

❤ Cait