#Caitlin

Love More, Fear Less

I am a worrier. I always have been. Even when I was little, I would have a hard time falling asleep because I became overwhelmed with unexplainable fears. Thoughts raced through my frazzled mind; it would start with a worry about finishing my book report on time and transition into dark fears about losing our home or loved ones. When situations seem out of my control, I tend to wander down the worst-case-scenario path. I continue to work on this in my prayer life. I trust God to provide love and support, but I know this world is not perfect. Each time I pray for God to ease my worried and fearful heart, I try to allow these prayers to transform my actions. If I can offer a shoulder to lean on, words of affirmation, or some other small act of love, I am helping to mend a world in need. In loving more, I fear less.

by CMM

The Poor Next Door

Today the peace challenge is to take an inventory of my spiritual life. Where I feel most inadequate is in being able to physically help those in need. Since I have two small boys who need me every minute, time and travel is limited. I cannot leave American soil right now to visit even the closest impoverished areas of Mexico.  While this is often frustrating for me, I know that the poor are right next door to all of us if we but take the time to notice and reach out. Today I can be like St. Nicholas, who gave little gifts to those all around him. His selfless acts of love have continued to inspire people all over the world at this time of the year particularly. Following his lead, I will surprise someone with a small token of my love.  I will use my heart and my resources, like he did, to spread peace in any small way that I can.

by CMM

Away and Back

This was the first year that I spent Thanksgiving away from home. My husband and I squeezed suitcases, “essential” baby contraptions and our two boys into the car and set off to the mountains for the holiday. We joyfully joined my husband’s family for a week of relaxation and wilderness adventures, including some snow! Together, we “christened” the family cabin with our first Thanksgiving feast. As we sat around the table, hearts filled to the brim with love and gratitude for each other and for this one, precious life. It was beautiful. And at the same time, I missed home. We returned Saturday evening, tired and ragged from the long car ride, but my grateful heart continued to soar as I felt the comfort of being home. There is nothing like that feeling of coming home – like running into the arms of Christ.

by CMM

Tiny Prayers of Thanks

Each night, I lay down next to my little boy on blue whale sheets and we join together in grateful prayer. We sing quiet songs of praise and recall the beauty we encountered in our day, a simplified and pure version of St. Ignatius’ Daily Examen. I guide him in naming the many people in our lives whom we love and other aching souls we do not know, praying that God will hold their hearts close. His tiny, melodious voice melts my tired heart. We ask for one more day to love more like God, live like servants for each other, and recognize each precious gift in the moment. This way, our gratitude is a dance that weaves into the inner workings of our everyday lives. We wake up each morning, thankful that God granted us our plea for one more, beautiful day.

by CMM

Little Prayers

During mid-day mom freak-outs or after bedtime cleaning frenzies, I find myself cursing the abundance of toys and piles of laundry that somehow have accumulated in my house. I become overwhelmed by the feeling that every corner and crevice is filled with “stuff” I cannot keep tidy. Only recently, I began to adopt an attitude of gratitude during my cleaning time. Instead of filling my head and heart with thoughts and feelings of resentment, I pray a prayer of thanks to God for each toy I gather and put back in the chest. Inspired by a cherished mother-figure in my own life, I now say a prayer for each member of my family as I intentionally fold each piece of their laundry. I will admit that I still have my moments of frustration, but this new practice encourages less complaining and more praise for God’s endless gifts.

By CMM

Family Photo Time

Fall brings our annual family portrait tradition. Now, with two little ones, the art of capturing the perfect photo has become more comical than ever. My nieces and nephews, sisters and parents gather around the camera and make every attempt to encourage my little boys to crack a smile. My husband and I try to look normal despite the commotion. Somehow, some way, we succeed at catching that one beautiful shot that embodies who we all are at that moment. Looking back at these photos, I wonder how often God feels like the entertainer behind the lens of our lives. God goes to incredible lengths to reveal love and light in our everyday experiences. At times, we can be reluctant to recognize God’s wonderful gifts. However, we can only hope that we allow ourselves to relish in God’s goodness, and smile for this life worth cherishing.

by CMM

 

A Shift Inside

Something about fall has always made me feel more like the beginning of a new year than January. The calendar is set for the coming year and opportunities abound. Nature’s response to the fresh, crisp breeze moves me to seize this beautiful, new start. As the season shifts, I feel something inside me shift, too. Light-hearted summer is over and autumn awakens my thoughtful side. These new opportunities require me to open my heart and trust in the journey. Like a tree shedding leaves, I must allow all doubt, insecurity, anger, and anxiety to fall away. I become a bare tree, exposed to the elements, open to the warmth of the sun and the hostility of the storm. Nevertheless, I am ready and prepared for re-birth and growth. I trust you, God. Teach me to blossom.

by CMM

A Gifted Teacher

 

As a student, math was always my least favorite subject and I lacked the confidence to succeed in this area of my studies. That all changed my junior year of high school when I was blessed to have a teacher who finally helped me crack the code on this math mystery. Somehow, she flipped a lightbulb on in my brain, and shed light on a part of me I didn’t know existed. I actually began to enjoy math for the first time in my life. I finished that class with such a high “A” that I wasn’t even required to take the final exam. This gifted teacher played an important role in my journey to becoming a teacher. I think of her frequently when I plan my lessons and guide my students, as I hope I can reveal and encourage buried talents within my own students. I believe God has a special purpose for why I am teaching these specific students, and I can only pray and strive to inspire them the way this teacher inspired me.

by CMM