Why do my sacrifices matter to God?

Something I have been pondering in my heart lately–and finally received an answer from the Holy Spirit about!–is: why do my sacrifices matter to God? As Catholics, we’re often told to “offer it up” with regard to our sufferings or even our good works for the day.  When I pray my morning offering prayer each morning, I tell Jesus “I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day”.  As this is a prayer given to us by the Church, I have faith it is something that Jesus wants us to do.

But why?

I have been struggling to understand why God would even want my sufferings and sacrifices. Work well done is easier to understand because I can often see the good fruits it produces, but sufferings and sacrifices? I feel like what I have to offer is so meager, so ugly and useless.  Why would God want any of this, what good could it possibly do?

Like right now, I’m giving up my morning snack (which is a big deal to a perpetually hungry breastfeeding mom!) as a sacrifice for the souls in purgatory. But why would God want such a small, seemingly insignificant sacrifice?

The Holy Spirit spoke an answer to this question in my heart yesterday; it came to me in the form of my 3 y/o daughter’s artwork.  She had painted a messy picture, a colorful series of squiggle and lines, and I thought to myself “we need to frame this!  This is worth more to me than any masterpiece painted by a famous artist!”

And it clicked.  To God, my little sacrifices are like my daughter’s artwork to me.  She’s painted the best picture she could, and she made it out of love for me.  Her small effort means the world to me, because in it she shows me how much she loves me.  I am touched by her thoughtfulness.

I think God feels the same way about us when we offer up what little we can with all the love we have in our hearts.

The Superpower every Mom needs (and already has)

When you picture God, how do you see Him?  What about our Blessed Mother Mary, how do you see her?  And the Saints, how do you see them in your mind’s eye? When I picture them in my head they are always smiling, and not just smiling, they are beaming at me.  They are radiating Christ’s love.

Even when I’m grumpy and complaining to Him, Jesus is always smiling at me.

I went on a spiritual retreat recently where one of my take away messages was the power of a smile.  For me as a mom of young children, a simple smile is a display of holiness–it radiates God’s love. It’s a kind of superpower, a channel for God’s awesome power to flow through me and into the world…and into my children’s hearts.

I exercised the superpower of a smile yesterday. It was the first time I had intentionally done this during a difficult tantrum, and the results were nothing short of miraculous.

The scene: My 3 y/o daughter is screaming and crying (epic tantrum). I can’t quite remember the cause but I think it was something along the lines of not wanting whatever food was for lunch, etc.

I knelt down at her level, made eye contact and SMILED at her.  Like big, huge Mother Teresa-inspired smile. It was an instantaneous response: her tantrum literally melted away and she was calm.  She told me with her words what she was upset about, and we moved on.  The house was (for the moment) peaceful again.

I feel like I’ve been conditioned to think of tantrums as “bad”, undesirable behavior that needs to be corrected or even disciplined.  So to get down at my daughter’s level and smile went against every fiber of my being.

It was a forced, contrived smile.  I definitely did NOT feel like smiling.  But, as my husband said when we were talking about it later that evening, that smile was true agape love.  To show love, even when you don’t feel it, is to love like God loves.

“I give you a new commandment: love one anther.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (John 13:34).

Your smile, Mama, is your superpower…or rather, God’s awesome superpower-love working through you. And what could be a more perfect power than God’s love?

May Goals

With three kids three and under, life is crazy these days. It seems like I keep making goals that I fall short of reaching, and month after month of failing to meet goals is discouraging. When I sat down to write this post, my first thought was: “Why bother with a post about goals? You never keep them.”

But I quickly stomped out that thought. Goals are important. They keep us going, striving for something better. They help to elevate us above mediocrity, and set us on a higher path. They give us purpose and when we do achieve them, they inspire us to greater things.

So here are my May goals. To write these, I returned to my 2018 Big Picture Resolution and Big Dreams and made sure my goals were in line with those.

  1. Daily (creating a daily prayer habit):
    1. 30 minutes of mental prayer each morning.
    2. 1 rosary each day.
    3. Daily mass.
    4. Read 1 psalm and 1 chapter from the New Testament daily.
    5. Read 1 section from a soul-strengthening book daily.
    6. Wash, dry, fold and put away 1 load of laundry daily.
    7. Remember to reflect on the GOOD things I’ve done throughout the day, not just the ways I’ve fallen short.
  2. Weekly:
    1. Weekly confession.
  3. This month:
    1. Plan out homeschooling schedule for the summer (I am discerning homeschooling for our family and am going to try out basic lessons and a daily routine this summer).
    2. Organize family clothes (put away winter clothes, bring out summer clothes, and put away things that are too small, too stained, etc).

I feel like this year is taking a different direction than I envisioned, which is beautiful thing because I can see God’s hand at work in my life.  I can see Him guiding me down a path that I had never really planned for myself. (This in itself is an answered prayer as I daily pray Psalm 25:4, “Make known to me your ways, Lord; teach me your paths). God is doing just that for me and there have been a lot of exciting (very surprising) developments in 2018, mainly in amazing opportunities for me to evangelize: being invited to co-lead a Bible study next year, organizing a faith-based book group for the summer, being asked to be a Table Leader for our local MOPS chapter next year, and being able to start up a playgroup for mothers of young children from my church.

These opportunities have all been surprises to me, which just goes to show that you can set your own goals but God might have different goals in mind for you!  Keep your eyes and ears open to God’s goals for your life, because, as I’ve been discovering lately, they are the best ones. 🙂