10 Lessons from My Mom on How to Be a Great Mother

*This article originally appeared on the IntegratedCatholicLife.org in 2013. I like to re-share it every Mother’s Day!

Me and RJJust a few short months ago, I became a mother, and now I am just months away from meeting my little one on his birthday in December. The blessings multiply as pregnancy continues—with every little kick and each ultrasound picture of my little boy sucking his thumb or smiling big (just like his mama) in the womb, I thank God for the opportunity to share in new life.

It is amazing how much my pregnancy has given me pause for reflection on my relationship with my own mother, and on the qualities that make her the most remarkable role model in my life. I can honestly say that my mother is the most saintly person I know — an unmatched giving, loving, patient, faithful, prayerful woman who knows her life’s work is to be a wife and mother, and boy does she live out her vocation well.

If I am half as good at being a mother as my mother is, than I think my children will be exceedingly blessed. But I certainly have my work cut out for me. Fortunately, after observing my mother’s graceful living over the past 24 years of my life, I’ve picked up on some of her unsaid but well-lived tips for being a great mom.

  1. Pray always. Literally. Every moment of every day, do everything in a spirit of prayer. The most important thing you will ever do for your children is to pray for them. And prayers change everything. They contribute more to your kids’ growth, health, happiness, and sanctity than anything else. Pray for your children and for your ability to be a good mother.
  2. Be patient. Your children will learn from you either how to explode under pressure and anger or how to be composed, loving, and patient. Even when frustration levels are high, look at your family members as if they were little Christs, little souls whom you are called to love and practice patience with, even in the most trying of circumstances.
  3. Love and respect your husband. Your children will see you do it, and observing your marriage will impact the kind of marriage they desire and have of their own someday. If you disagree with your husband, don’t disagree with him verbally in front of the children. Always have your spouse’s back, and then discuss any disagreements in private. Show your children that you are an unbreakable team.
  4. mother and daughterFirst be your children’s mother, then and only after, their friend. Too many parents are overly concerned with being liked, and sometimes you won’t be liked. You won’t be liked when you discipline your kids or you challenge them to do the right, but hard, thing. And though you won’t always be liked, if you really do what is best for your children, you will always be loved.
  5. Practice self-sacrifice and unconditional love. Kids are, by their nature, demanding. They require your love, attention, service, wisdom, and so much more in order to develop into holy, mature adults. Raising a virtuous child requires a unique degree of self-sacrificial love. Abandon selfishness, and you will not only raise holier children who see your example, but you will become more Christ-like in the process. “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
  6. Become best friends with Our Blessed Mother. Pray the Rosary often to receive strength from the world’s greatest mother: Mary. She will be your ultimate companion in motherhood—your best friend. Fly to her in your times of need, in your moments of rejoicing, and when your heart is aching. She will comfort you and dance with you as a Mother, to give you the grace to be a better mother yourself.
  7. Celebrate life with your kids. Tell your kids what a joy it is to be a mother, and that there is nothing greater than giving life and raising children, so they will always be encouraged to fight for and embrace life. Celebrate life with your daughters and sons as they begin to have their own children. Relive the excitement of your own early motherhood with them as they experience their baby’s first hiccups and kicks in the womb, their births, and the many memories made over years to come.
  8. Talk about and teach about Jesus and your Catholic Faith constantly, but more importantly, live the life of Jesus in your every day actions. Be unmistakable Catholic inside and outside the home, and do it with joy. When your children see how fulfilling it is to live a Christ-centered Catholic life and how it enriches your family, they will want that for themselves and their own families, too.
  9. Be silly. No need to be the world’s most serious mother. Be playful. Make up your mom in sunlight
    own lyrics to popular songs and dance like nobody (but your children) is watching. Tickle often. Your children will appreciate your spirited outlook on life and will learn from you that every day is a gift to be cherished and with which to have fun!
  10. Trust. Trust Jesus, trust your husband, trust your children, and let them see you trusting with all your might. In a culture where homes are filled with stress, be a home filled with peace and confidence in God’s will for you and your family.

Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “The woman is at the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved, and through this love become instruments of peace in the world.”

Every one of these lessons my mother has lived out and continues to practice to the utmost extent. Thank you, Mother, for teaching me how to be a great mom, for teaching me how to love and be loved and become an instrument of peace in our broken world. You are going to be an extraordinary grandmother. I hope I do you proud, so my children can hand down these lessons that they learn from me someday.

CLICK HERE for your Free Mother’s Day Printable Spiritual Bouquets!

Free Printables: Mother’s Day Spiritual Bouquets

In preparation for Mother’s Day, don’t forget to PRAY for the moms in your life – and let them know that you’re praying for them, too!

Here are a few colorful spiritual bouquet printables for mom, daughter, or grandmother. Just save & print the card image, add the prayers you’re offering on the lines provided (ex. one Mass, one Rosary, three Hail Marys, etc.) and sign your name.

Enjoy & Happy Mother’s Day!

Spiritual Bouquet for Mother

Spiritual Bouquet for Daughter

Spiritual Bouquet for Grandmother

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5 Things To Do With Your Catholic Child(ren) Every Day

5 Things to Do With Your Catholic Child Every Day - CatholicKatie.com“So everything that goes on in your home has a good or bad effect on your children. Try to help them with your own good example. Try not to hide your piety from them.” -St. Josemaria Escriva

Here are 5 things you can do with your kids every day to help make faith a more integral part of their lives and to strengthen their connection to Jesus and to you:

  1. Pray. Start the day with prayer, before your usual routine or school time begins. An Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, the Morning Offering, or a free-form prayer are all good options. In the evening, a decade of the Rosary, a chaplet, the Guardian Angel or St. Michael the Archangel prayers, or prayers of thanksgiving and intercession are powerful and simple prayers to say together after dinner or before bedtime.
  2. boy reading bibleRead the Bible. Get a hold of a great children’s Bible (or age appropriate Bible for your child) and read a story from it every day. The Bible has been such a routine part of my 2-year-old son’s day that he regularly requests Gospel stories and spends LOTS of time flipping through the pages himself in his own free time. When children are exposed to the Bible on a regular basis, they come to love it.
  3. Tell them how much God loves them. Make sure you remind your child(ren) every day–if not multiple times a day–how much Jesus loves them. A good time to remember to do so is when you are telling them you love them. “I love you! Do you know who else loves you so, so much? Jesus!” The older they get, the more important this message becomes, as they brave the ups and downs of growing up: God loves you more than you’ll ever know.
  4. Do something nice for someone else. Model for your kids this great practice of doing one simple, concrete act of charity or mercy for someone else each day, and encourage them (or physically help them depending on their age) to do that “something kind” for someone else, too. Ask them about their good deed at dinner or at night.
  5. dad and son runningSpend quality time together/Give your child(ren) your undivided attention. Discipleship comes through relationship building. If you want your children to really learn the faith from you and to become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, invest intentional time in them. Make sure that every day, your child(ren) get some of your undivided attention, where you spend time talking with them, reading to them, playing with them, attending their extracurricular activities (and watching rather looking at your phone), cuddling them, or doing whatever connects you with each other and strengthens your parent-child bond.

Bonus one: Take them to daily Mass! It’s pretty much the best way to combine all of the above into one awesome, faith-building activity that you can do together. If you have the ability to go to Mass together on a non-Sunday day of the week, do it. Over time, you won’t be able to live without it! Never underestimate the power of the sacraments to work wonders in the lives of you and your children.

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The More Margin for Peace Challenge: How to Focus More on Being vs. Doing

tcht_series_medCulture tells us that we are valuable because of what we do. It speaks to our senses, every moment of every day, telling us we need to do more. Our worth is based on what we accomplish, how we achieve, the number of hours we put in at the office, how much we make and how much we spend, and what we cross off our life’s to-do lists.
God tells us we are valuable because of who we are. He whispers in our hearts, every moment of every day, that he loves us because we are his. We are valuable because we are man, created in his image. Our worth is based on who we become—how conformed we can be to his will and the person he created us to be, the time we spend just being with him in prayer, how we love, what we cross off our life’s to-be list.

Peace builder: Focus more on being than doingSome strategies for focusing more on being than doing as a way to make more margin for peace:

  • Sit – just sit – in God’s presence: Sometime this week, go to the adoration chapel, your parish’s sanctuary, or a quiet place in your home and just sit and “be” with God. You can read or do other “action-oriented” things in prayer later, but to start, just spend time in silence with God.
  • Pick a virtue to grow in this week: Virtues help us become the people God desires us to be, the kind of people that will make us truly content and at peace with ourselves. Pick a virtue (charity, generosity, patience, trust, faith, hope, prudence, fortitude…) that you will focus on this week to help you take one step closer to being a saintly person.
  • Cross off an item on your to-do list: Look at your likely expansive list of things to do this week and determine if there is anything that can wait, making a little more margin for rest this week.

“I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33

***Don’t forget to post a note or set a reminder on your phone to follow through with your plan to focus more on being than on doing this week!***

If you missed the past weekly challenges to make more margin for peace, you can find them here.

The More Margin for Peace Challenge: How to Honor the Lord’s Day

tcht_series_medMany of us know the Third Commandment given by God to Moses: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the sev- enth day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; . . . therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it” (Ex 20:8–11).

Unfortunately, knowing the commandment doesn’t mean it is well practiced. Full schedules, sports events and TV, open restaurants and shopping malls, and a general cultural habit of working too much and playing too little make it easy to let Sundays pass us by as just another day of the week. And it is not just another day of the week. If we want more peace in our lives, we need to reconnect with God, rest, and pursue leisure on the day made to recharge our peace: Sunday.

Take back your SundayTips for “taking back Sunday” as a day for peace in your life and home:

  • Prioritize Mass: Plan your whole day around the Mass, making it the “high point” of your Sunday. Read the readings before you go, dress up, linger to pray, and discuss and reflect on what you got out of Mass later that day.
  • Minimize distractions: Don’t allow errands, shopping, chores, overconsumption of media, and other distractions to hijack your Sunday, leaving you little time for the things that restore your peace and help you reconnect with God and family.
  • Plan rejuvenating, fun, and restful activities: Go for a day trip, read for pleasure, take a nap, watch a movie as a family, read the Bible together, spend time outdoors, celebrate a feast day with a craft or food related to the feast, say a family rosary, visit a distant or sick friend or relative, do a volunteer or ministry activity at your parish or in the community.

Make a plan this week to make the most of your upcoming Sunday, and the rest of your Sundays this month.

In his masterful work, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper contends that leisure requires con- stant affirmation by our practice of it and leads us to an inner joyfulness that lasts. “This is why the ability to be ‘at leisure’ is one of the basic powers of the human soul . . . the power to be at leisure is the power to step beyond the working world and win contact with those superhuman, life-giving forces that can send us, renewed and alive again, into the busy world of work.”

***Don’t forget to post a note or set a reminder on your phone to follow through with your plan to Honor the Lord’s day this week!***

If you aren’t getting these weekly challenges sent to your email inbox, you can sign up to have them sent to you each week here, and get a free resource guide in the process!

How to “Downsize and Simplify”: The More Margin for Peace Challenge

tcht_series_medThe term “downsize and simplify” comes from my dad. When I was a little girl, he went on a retreat that changed his life. In front of the Eucharist, he heard the Lord speaking to his heart to “downsize and simplify,” leading my dad to leave his lucrative advertising year and begin working in ministry, first by founding the pro-life media apostolate VirtueMedia, and later by founding the evangelization media apostolate, Catholics Come Home.

Those of us looking for more peace in our lives and homes could always benefit from downsizing and simplifying in some way. Here are a few ideas on how to downsize and simplify and thus make more margin for peace in your life.

Downsize and simplify…

Downsize and Simplify to Find More Peace in Your Life

  • Your material goods: Maybe you could benefit from clearing out your closet and donating some of the clothes you don’t need to people who do need them, or maybe you can look around your home or office for other material possessions that you have in excess.
  • Your calendar: Perhaps your schedule needs some downsizing and simplifying to make more time for your family, for prayer, or for hobbies you would like to pursue.
  • Your meals: Have you considered downsizing or simplifying your meals from time to time, either in an effort to become healthier or to fast for someone who needs your spiritual support right now?

What are some other ways you can downsize and simplify in your life right now? Pick one strategy for downsizing and simplifying this week and follow through with it.

“For peace is a good so great, that even in this earthly and mortal life there is no word we hear with such pleasure, nothing we desire with such zest, or find to be more thoroughly gratifying.”—St. Augustine, City of God

***Don’t forget to post a note or set a reminder on your phone to follow through with your plan to downsize and simplify each day this week!***

If you aren’t getting these weekly challenges sent to your email inbox, you can sign up to have them sent to you each week by signing up here (and you’ll get a free resource guide, too!).

Sign up today for the “More Margin for Peace” Leadership Challenge

As the Synod on the Family began last October, I realized how much I could use some easy tips – marriage and family life “hacks” – to help give me that boost I sometimes need in certain categories of my spiritual leadership. And now, with Lent and Easter having just ended, I am hoping to keep the spiritual momentum going with a practical and very doable way to stay focused on maintaining more peace in my life and at home.

More Margin for Peace ChallengeSo, the “More Margin for Peace” series, an email-based Spiritual Leadership Challenge, continues our efforts to grow together, through short how-to tutorials and quick ideas sent straight to your inbox, in living in a more focused way on our impactful roles as spiritual leaders within our marriages and families. For this Leadership Challenge, over the next few weeks, you will receive a few brief email reminders with simple but effective tips and strategies for making more margin for peace in your life and home. My husband and I will be joining you on this challenge also! Please pray for us, as we will be praying for you, and invite your friends to join in, too!

Sign up for the Spiritual Leadership Challenge below!

I’ll also send you very occasional emails with Catholic tips and musings I think you’ll be interested in.

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More Margin for Peace Leadership ChallengeSometimes it can be hard to believe that peace of mind, heart, and home is still capable of being grasped in today’s fast-paced culture, where we constantly listen to background noise, sit in traffic, pack our calendars to the brim, and question whether our smartphones are an additional appendage to our bodies. But there are simple and powerful things we can do to create more room for peace in our lives. Let’s practice some of those strategies together.

In my recent book Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family, I discuss seven characteristics for becoming a stronger spiritual “head” or spiritual “heart” of your family, intending that this book will be an ideal resource in helping you (and my husband and I!) become a more intentional Catholic family man or woman at home. Whether or not you’ve read the book, though, this Leadership Challenge is a great and easy way to start more intentionally focusing (or improve your focus) on your spiritual life at home!

Catholic Easter Basket Ideas

So it’s not quite time to get in the celebratory mood yet, as we are still in Lent and have a solemn Holy Week ahead of us, but you’ve likely got Easter on the mind if you are planning some festivities for this great feast day. Here are a few ideas to keep your Easter baskets on the “holier” side:

Screen Shot 2016-02-16 at 12.25.16 AMFor the kids

Saint Movie

Lil’ Prayer Lamb

Resurrection Eggs (and accompanying book!)

Catholic stickers

Catholic Coloring or Activity Book

Holy Heroes Matching Game

St. Michael sports medals

Children’s Rosary or Rosary bracelet

Shining Light Dolls or Felt Saint Dolls

Tiny Saints key chain

Catholic books for teens 

For the adults

Catholic CD of the Month Club Subscription or a Lighthouse CD/MP3

For the Catholic beer lover

Catholic Book of Blessings and Prayers

Printable Easter cupcake toppers

Chocolate cross

Book: You Did It to Me: A Practical Guide to Mercy in Action

And, of course, Bibles, Rosaries, and other Catholic gifts from your local Catholic bookstore make great Easter basket fillers, too!

 

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Your Mid-Lent Boot Camp

Mid-Lent Boot Camp imageNeed a little spiritual shot in the arm half way through your Lenten journey? Our goal during this season of Lent is to draw closer to Christ through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent isn’t about being miserable; it’s about transformation – becoming more like Christ Himself, which can be challenging, no doubt, but the transformation we seek is purifying in a good way. Here are some good ways to step up your game over the next week or to get back on track focusing on these three pillars of Lent if you feel like your current journey hasn’t been real transformative so far.

DIRECTIONS: This is a 6-Day Lenten Boot Camp activity. I recommend you print the chart below and choose/circle one activity/practice for each day (prayer OR fasting OR almsgiving). Over the course of the whole week, try to select two choices from the “PRAY” column, two from the “FAST” column, and two from the “GIVE” column. (For example, on Monday and Thursday you can do something from the Pray column, Tuesday and Friday from Fast, and Wednesday and Saturday from Give…but you can do them in any order depending on which ideas appeal to and challenge you!)

 

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Lenten Prayer Calendar

Lenten Prayer CalendarHere is a Lenten Prayer Calendar to accompany your 2016 Lenten Prayer Challenge! Please pray for me, too!

Before Lent starts (though it’s never too late to begin!), I write the name of one family member, friend, coworker, neighbor, acquaintance, or someone I’m not too fond of on one of the 40 days of Lent. When that day arrives, I offer my prayers and petitions, frustrations, joys, and sufferings for the person’s intentions.

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