#Caitlin

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

A Generous Heart

For the holiday weekend, my husband and I packed up the car and took our boys to Mammoth to enjoy God’s grandeur in nature. This was an extra special trip because it was our first visit to the new family home my father-in-law purchased this past year. He spent years researching the perfect place for our family to retreat together. The mountains called to him, as Mammoth offered a serene platform for us to reconnect with each other, make wonderful memories and rejuvenate our spirits. His joy was contagious this weekend as we spent quality time laughing with each other and marveling at the landscape. He is someone who continues to inspire me to be present in each moment, appreciate every gift from God and remember what is truly important in this life. I am grateful not just for this new space he has provided for us to come together as a family, but for the heart he has to desire that togetherness.

by CMM

Normal Worry

I’ll admit that I spend significant time worrying about whether or not my children are reaching their milestones. Is my toddler’s speech flawed? Is my baby’s weight on track? How long will this potty training really last?! This constant desire to be “normal” ironically starts to make me feel crazy. When I become overwhelmed by these concerns, I try to stop and spend some time centering myself in prayer. I envision placing my anxious heart in God’s gentle hands. I listen for God’s voice, reminding me that perfection does not exist on Earth and we have each been created to fulfill our own purposes. Comparing ourselves to others won’t help us live more intentionally. So, I will let the worries pass by like ships on the sea, and I will laugh and play with my boys while they know nothing of worry.

by CMM

 

 

 

Called By Name

Last week, I started my sixth school year as a teacher. Like my students, anxiety and excitement build as the first day arrives and I meet my new classes. Although it’s important to discuss class policies and procedures right away, I always feel a strong calling to kick off the year with something fun. I play a question game to get to know each student and I even offer a candy treat in exchange for their answers. By the end of class, I can call each student by name, which I believe sets an inviting and caring tone for the year we will spend together. In Isaiah 43, God tells us, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” I feel I am called to send this message to each one of my students so they remember they are unique, important and loved – not just by the God who formed them, but by all people who take special care to discover who they are.  I continue to pray for grace and memory muscle to carry on this first-day tradition every year!

by CMM