New Parenting Resource to Help You Bring Peace and Holiness to Your Household (with discount code)

“As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” –Joshua 25:15

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Our family just moved to a new house. It’s a change we were all excited about. A change that needed to happen. My husband’s commute was too long; we lived too far away from my oldest son’s high school; we needed more space for our growing family and a home with a space that my special needs sister could call her own.

But big changes never go exactly the way you planned.

Shortly after our move, the enormity of what we had done sunk in. The piles of boxes, the not being able to find anything, the new city and new school had everyone overwhelmed and homesick for familiarity. Our beautiful new house was proving to be a great space for our family, but we were quickly realizing that it isn’t the house itself that fulfills our needs and longings.

It’s what’s in it. It’s the way you fill the space, whether with noise or silence. It’s the way you make time to talk with your teenager, practice patience with your two-year-old, and live the art of doing “nothing” with your infant. It’s the culture you create–one of faith, love, and evangelization. It’s the way you handle the tantrums, acts of disobedience, and emotional outbursts.

A house is about all of the little things that happen every day inside of it.

As we work to establish this new phase in our lives, I am excited to review a new resource for Catholic parents–one that is helping me to foster the kind of environment I want in our home.

In the Catholic parenting program, “Me & My House”, host and creator Patrick Sullivan presents doable, small steps toward creating a home environment that will put everyone on a path toward sainthood. As a father of nine with a degree in divinity, Patrick has the knowledge and experience to support his discipline tips, faith formation, and relationship building habits.

Concepts like building a family culture, understanding each of your children’s language of evangelization, and noting each individual’s unique tendencies toward particular vices and virtues will help you get to know your children better so you can better help them get to heaven. And there are tips for helping us as parents to better understand and embrace our vocation!

The videos are short, easy and fun to watch, and provide an excellent starting point for discussion with your spouse or within a small group. The videos can be watched as a series over a period of a few weeks, or just one or a few could be viewed if a particular couple or group wants to focus on one of the topics presented.

I love the practical tips this program provides. Not only does it inspire me to strive for holiness within our family, but it also shows me exactly how to do that. “Me & My House”  would be a fantastic addition to a parish library, or as a mom’s group resource. It can be purchased and shared in a small group setting within a parish, or it would be a great way for a couple to reconnect and make sure they are on the same page as they parent together.

You can find out more about the program, watch trailers, and purchase the DVD set here. Be sure to use the coupon code STROLLER to receive $15.00 off of the purchase price! A Leader’s Guide, Participant’s Guide, print book, and other accompanying resources will be coming soon.

“Me & My House” is giving me a multitude of ideas to consider as my husband and I settle into our new home with our seven children. Even in the midst of the chaos of moving, I’ve been able to make time to watch the short videos and ponder the concepts presented as I go about my day. Along with some prayerful contemplation, “Me & My House” is helping me and my new home to truly serve the Lord.

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Posted in Discipline, Faith, Faith Resources, Family Life, Marriage, Parenting Resource, Prayer, Teaching, Video Review | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Talking To Your Kids About NFP

mom and daughter sunset

This week, I’ve been collaborating with Annie Deddens over at http://www.catholicwifecatholiclife.com/ , where she has posted two of my articles in celebration of Natural Family Planning Awareness week and the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s document on marriage and love, Humanae Vitae. Here is an excerpt from one of my articles–be sure to check out the whole article, plus a wealth of other related posts on Annie’s website!

It’s not easy to talk to our kids about sex and chastity. It takes courage just to start the conversation at all. So what do we do when our children don’t respond to our attempts at conversations about their sexuality? And how do we respond when they start to ask surprising questions?

My husband and I still have more questions than answers about raising godly children in an over sexualized culture. But here are some points that help us feel more equipped to face this part of our parenting journey: read more…

Posted in Chastity, Family Life, Humanae Vitae, Love, Marriage, Natural Family Planning, Teaching, Theology of the Body | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Soul Project Week 19: Praying Like Jesus

Jesus praying with Mary

As I watch my 18-month-old fall to the floor on bended knee, hands clasped, eyes eagerly looking up to me for guidance, I think of how Jesus, too, must have done much the same thing with His beloved mother. He was divine, but also fully human–human enough to be trained in the ways of His parents–divine enough to emanate a spiritual understanding that puzzled His mother as she pondered His ways.

This week my children and I talked about this example that Jesus leaves us. We talked about how the Gospels are peppered with stories of Jesus disappearing into solitude to pray,  teaching others how to pray, encouraging forgiveness of our enemies before turning to God, and trusting that God hears and answers all of our prayers–even if it is in ways we do not fully understand.

Learning to pray is a lifelong evolution, a constant transformation of the heart, and a continual maturing of the soul. Looking to Jesus’ example is yet another way to grow in our prayer life. And watching my children pray reminds me of the beauty of innocent trust, eager imitation, and an unblemished zeal for the faith. As we teach our children our Savior’s ways, may we, like Mary, also learn from our children’s ways.

For more ideas on faith-based topics to discuss with your children around the dinner table, see Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s book Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality. 

Posted in Books, Faith, Family Life, Mary, motherhood, Prayer, Teaching, The Soul Project | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Soul Project Week 18: Strange Gods

technology

I am the Lord your God; you shall not have strange Gods before me.

This week, we talked about the First Commandment. While we addressed our obligation to love God as the one true God, this was also the perfect opportunity to talk about the many “strange Gods” that can sneak to the top of our priority list.

The battle with technology is something every family can relate to, and explaining the danger of video games and social media becoming a strange God seemed to help my kids understand why we place limits on their screen time. Along with that came conversation about self control and the importance of prayer and the sacraments as we fight the devil’s temptations to make us love other things more than the one true God.

My 14-year-old especially is able to grasp the principles of regulating screen time and always having a purpose for when he does sit down in front of a screen. His self control is certainly not always perfect, but he has had times when he has chosen for himself to turn off his computer so he can play a game at a time when his friends can play with him–and he even voluntarily did the dishes once instead of playing video games!

We also try to emphasize that technology is not our god by always turning it off for family meal times, never having it take priority over family or church events, and occasionally having a completely screen-free day or weekend. On our family vacation this year, no individual devices will be allowed. We’ll focus on face-to-face family time and maybe a couple of movies that we’ll all watch together.

What tends to be the “strange Gods” in your family? How can you better honor the First Commandment?

For more ideas on topics to discuss with your children, see Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s book Feeding Your Family’s Soul.

Posted in Books, Discipline, Faith, Family Life, Prayer, Relationship, Teaching, The Soul Project | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Soul Project Week 17: Making Prayer A Habit

child praying hands

“It is possible to offer fervent prayer even while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop…while buying or selling…or even while cooking.”–St. John Chrysostom

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to keep my children happy. How to keep them from falling into despair, or from getting so entangled into the world’s false enticements that they start to wonder if there is any way out.

It’s a lot of pressure to think that I alone can be their source of strength. I can love them, support them, listen to them, and be there for them…but I’m only human. At some point, I will surely say the wrong thing, or fail to be what they think they need, or fail to see what is really going on in the depths of their hearts.

And so I want them to know that there is someone who can be everything for them. There is someone who can love them, support them, listen to them, and be there for them…perfectly, every time. Someone who is their eternal source of hope and strength. Someone who can pull them out of the deepest, darkest mire and make them new again. Someone who they can always rely on.

How do they get to know this someone? Through prayer. From stumbling Hail Mary’s to bible stories told through pictures, a habit of daily prayer gives my children peace. We’ve started to incorporate some quiet prayer time at the end of our crazy summer days. A blissful 10 minutes of being in our own little corners of silence with prayer books, prayer journals, and bibles in hand. I wasn’t sure how they would take to it–if it would seem boring or forced or tedious. But after our first night of trying it, I saw the hope and happiness in their eyes that I was looking for. And the next night, they ran to it.

We don’t get our prayer time in every night, but hopefully, sometime soon, a few nights a week will grow to every night. And every night will grow to every morning also. And twice a day will create a thirst that can only be quenched by remaining in prayer as much as possible, “while walking in public or strolling alone, or seated in your shop…while buying or selling…or even while cooking.”

For more ideas on faith-filled lessons to teach your children, see Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s book Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality.

Posted in Books, Faith, Faith Resources, Family Life, Hope, Prayer, Teaching, The Soul Project | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Soul Project Week 16: Forming a Moral Conscience

soul project moral conscience image

“Deep within his conscience man discovers a law which he has not laid upon himself but which he must obey. Its voice, ever calling him to love and to do what is good and to avoid evil, sounds in his heart at the right moment…For man has in his heart a law inscribed by God…His conscience is man’s most secret core and his sanctuary. There he is alone with God whose voice echoes in his depths.” Catechism of the Catholic Church 1776

This week we talked about making decisions. How do we know what the right thing is to do? Should we always do what our friends tell us to do? Where can we find good advice when we aren’t sure what to do?

We are all constantly forming our consciences. Every time we read the Bible, the Catechism, hear a homily, or read the story of a saint, we glean more about what is right and what is wrong. Personal prayer and our own interpretation of scripture can be revealing, but we must be careful that our conclusions are always in line with Church teaching. Some of the best advice I’ve heard about discernment and personal prayer is that God will never tell you to do something that goes against what the Church teaches.

This week was a good time to remind my children that we are constantly bombarded with messages from the world of what is “good” and “right”–but we must always double check those messages with the Church’s view on a particular topic. Trusted priests, good Catholic resources, and others well versed in the faith are always ready to help us when we face a difficult decision in our lives. It’s up to us to pause, reflect, and turn to someone for help and guidance–which, over time, will lead to greater confidence that the voice echoing in our depths is truly the voice of God.

For more topics like this to discuss with your children around the dinner table, see the book Feeding Your Family’s Soul: Dinner Table Spirituality by Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle.

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The Soul Project Week 15: Being A Good Example

salt of the earth image

“People are to see, in us, Christ on earth today.” -Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

As our family discussed our duty of being a good example, we talked about our unique gifts and how God expects us to use them. In Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s book, Feeding Your Family’s Soul, she reminds us of three parables from Jesus–that we are to be the salt of the earth, light of the world, and a light on a lampstand.

While my husband and I encouraged our children to be good examples to their siblings, classmates, and other peers, the lesson I spoke to my children once again became a lesson for myself.

Am I a good example to my children throughout the moments of my day? Do they see Christ in me as I prepare their meals, wash their clothes, and help them with their homework? I know there are many times that I’m not much of a light if I sigh as I pick up the basket of laundry, lose my patience as I cook dinner, or fail to see my children as the individuals they are and instead simply view them as yet more tasks on my daily list.

With our oldest child entering the teen years, I’ve been delving into books about how to best meet his needs and help him grow into adulthood with love and respect. One book addressed the issue of being a positive example of adulthood to our teens. Do we make being an adult look like nothing but drudgery and hard work? Or do we embrace our responsibilities with enthusiasm, or, at least, a sense of peace? And, are we living the examples of chastity, moderation of food and drink, charity, and so many other virtues that we want our children to emulate?

This chapter reminded all of us that so much more is caught by preaching through example rather than words–something I know I can definitely work on during this season of Lent.

Posted in Book Review, Books, Chastity, Discipline, Family Life, motherhood, Teaching, The Soul Project, Theology of the Body | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment