Friday, July 24, 2015

What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married (A Series at Waltzing In Beauty)

+JMJ+

Hi, friends! Do you all know Christina from Waltzing In Beauty? Awhile back she thoughtfully contacted me about contributing to her "What I Wish I Knew Before I Got Married" series. Well, today you can find me on her blog sharing a piece from my archives all about how/why my husband and I decided to create a joint Facebook account and ditch our individual ones back when we were engaged. You know the one. Or if you don't, head on over to Waltzing in Beauty for a quick read!

Make sure you check out the rest of the series, too, to hear more from other brides about some wisdom they've gleaned along the way. And while you're there, make sure to congratulate Christina on her recent nuptials!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

5 Reasons Why I Find Being a Working Mother (surprisingly) Works for Us

In case you missed the memo, Peter Matthias was born on June 2nd - which means I'm currently spending my days resting and cuddling a newborn as much as I can while getting acquainted with the juggling act that is being a mother to two children under the age of two. Thankfully, some wonderful ladies have agreed to share some of their writings with all of you while I take a mini blogging hiatus during this time of transition. Today it is with great pleasure that I welcome a long-time blogging friend and fellow frequent-mover, Kelley from Over the Threshold!

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Hi, everyone! I'm so excited to be invited to share with you today, especially since I have been blogging too little in the last year to even consider myself a "blogger"!

Just over 8 months ago, I gave birth to my son. I think for the most part when I was younger I had envisioned being home with him full-time. But we all know how those visions can change once you are an adult and can see what real life actually calls for. I think when I was first pregnant I initially insisted I was going back to work just to prove a point to myself, others, and at work (I was afraid my hours were decreasing because of my pregnancy.) However, I've found that it was a really good decision for us.

1. I needed an outside influence.
At first I wasn't sure when I would go back to work. But the opportunity to move into a new position once I returned pushed me to return a little sooner. It forced me to come up with a timeline. I also was having a difficult time with a baby who didn't sleep much at all (still doesn't) and was very clingy and gassy. One day seemed to roll right into the next and it was hard to define the start and end and to find a way to start returning to normal life. I was so tired! Now you might think that was a good indication I shouldn't be working, but I'm the sort of person who can make things happen if I'm forced to do so. I work Monday-Wednesday-Friday so every other day I have to take a shower and get going. It helps me to prioritize and make the most of the days I have off and it helped me to get back out into the real world. (It's particularly easy to hunker down in the northeast in the winter months.)

2. We don't have family nearby.
Again, this might seem like a reason to stay home. But when you don't have family, you have very limited options for babysitting. Which means that you probably spend a lot more time alone with your baby and get far fewer breaks. As crazy as it sounds, work was and still is a break for me sometimes. Despite the fact that I go to work and again, take care of babies, it means I get a chance to wear real clothes that look nice and maybe aren't great for nursing. I can wear dangly earrings and necklaces and make-up and not slip into a scary world of henleys and unwashed hair and sweatpants. Again, I need that outside influence. But it also gives my son and I 10 hours or so to take a break from each other. And rather than just having a grandmother watch him, I also get paid for my break.

3. I worry about money.
We could make being a one-income family work, but anyone who knows the area of the country where we live (NYC suburbs) knows that this is a very high-cost of living area. I tend to be someone who worries excessively about money. By making money myself I know that I can relax a little (whether it makes that much of a financial difference or not). Plus, with my new position my health insurance for myself and my son is loads better than when we were on my husband's. And if I do eventually leave my job to stay home full-time, we are that much more ahead financially.

4. I'm an extrovert.
I need that time with others to get energy! Being an extrovert doesn't mean you aren't shy and it doesn't mean you're always the life of the party. It means that you get your energy from being around others. I think all of the time I spend cooped up all winter with a new baby was sapping some of my energy. No, it didn't help that I wasn't getting much sleep either, but I need that chance to socialize with my coworkers and build up some energy outside of my home.

5. It strengthens my skills.
My paid job is similar to my unpaid one--I'm a pediatric nurse. One way or another, I'm taking care of babies every day. Nursing is definitely one of those jobs where keeping up skills is very important. If I do eventually leave nursing altogether for a period of time it will definitely be difficult to go back and be current. My schedule allows me to continue to keep my skills up. It also enhances my skills with my own baby!

Obviously working part-time is different than full-time and having a job I really like that affords me to be with my son most days of the week is key to this situation. But I would definitely encourage others to see the benefits of working outside of the home. They were a grand surprise to me!


Kelley is a vocational wife and mum, professional pediatric nurse, Creighton Model FertilityCare Practitioner, amateur chef/traveler/photographer/writer, and lover of all things *green* (color and environmental!). She and her husband have been married for almost 6 years and currently live in New Jersey with their 8 month-old son and dog. Their blog has been chronicling their married life from day one—from Georgia to Germany to Jersey (though Kelley's taken a "maternity leave" of sorts most recently). You can find book and movie reviews, recipes, and a hodge-podge of other faith-based thoughts at Over the Threshold and follow her at all the usual social media hangouts.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Motherhood & Prayer: Ora et Labora

In case you missed the memo, Peter Matthias was born on June 2nd - which means I'm currently spending my days resting and cuddling a newborn as much as  I can while getting acquainted with the juggling act that is being a mother to two children under the age of two. Thankfully, some wonderful ladies have agreed to share some of their writings with all of you while I take a mini blogging hiatus during this time of transition. Today it is with great pleasure that I welcome a special sister in Christ from Sacred Sharings For The Soul!

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By: C.C.

The Rule of St. Benedict focuses largely on the disciplined practice of work and prayer. St. Benedict proposed that work and prayer not only complement one another but can be so closely fused to create a harmonious balance in the spiritual life. It takes great discipline to unite the outward workings of our physical lives with the silent contemplative practice of prayer.

Through witnessing the observance of this rule I have come to see how “ora et labora” is something that can also aid in living the vocation of motherhood. This understanding can ease much of the tension that may arise in trying to maintain a balanced prayer life as a mother.

I once read that a monastery is a “school of charity”. It is a place where one must die to self daily, sacrificing ceaselessly in order to persevere. Motherhood demands the same. It is through humble recognition of this selfless vocation that one can begin to surrender to the ‘labora’ of motherhood with great peace and cultivate the fruits of God’s abundant grace. There is the obvious difficulty that arises when faced with the reality of one’s own limitations. From sleep deprivation, feeding, and the essential emotional outpouring of self; a mother can feel defeated.

Many women (myself included) have battled with the practice of consistent prayer while being busy tending to their children. I took this matter into prayer (ironically) in order to gain some much needed clarity. I recognized that ‘consistent prayer’ stems from a committed and unwavering devotion to God. In each state of life one is given the graces they need to persevere and to accomplish what is demanded of them. The prayer language of a mother is spoken through the act of service to her children. A mother's prayer life is defined by daily cultivating a child's life in cooperation with God. It is a balance of “ora et labora”; it is truly work rooted in prayer itself. If this is not so then there will be a perpetual tension and exhausting search for peace.

It is important to find the sacredness in the simplicity of service to one’s family. St. Paul's letter to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 7:34) provides some clarity in helping to understand the challenge that many women may experience in their spiritual lives as they become wives and mothers.

St. Paul speaks about the dividedness of tending to God when married. I have interpreted this scripture by recognizing it in a way that does not discredit the vocation of married life and motherhood, but rather imbues it with deeper meaning and sanctity when paralleled with the life of an unmarried man and virgin. Though one is ‘divided’ in their attentiveness to the Lord while busy with serving family, perhaps it can be suggested that by viewing one’s family as divinely given and recognizing the living out of service to them as service and sacrifice for love of God, a mother maintains an undivided devotion to God.

Life as a married woman and mother does not reduce devotedness to God but does present challenges if the woman desires for the same routines and practices of prayer that she was once accustomed to. Motherhood invites a woman to allow her prayer life to evolve by accepting a new way of prayer. It is not by clinging to a prayer routine alone that allows our spiritual life to flourish, it is by clinging to God alone and welcoming the moments of prayer in the day to day “labora” of life.

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C.C. records her spiritual reflections based on prayers, quotations from the Saints, and her life as a Catholic woman, newlywed, and now mother at her blog, Sacred Sharings For The Soul. If you enjoy real-life stories that tell of God's mysterious yet powerful ways of making His presence known to us, make sure you check out her sweet baby girl's birth story and show her some love.