“Open Wide Your Hearts”

A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of emotional connection in marriage. Now I’d like to discuss how deep friendships and a wider support network are also an essential element to personal growth and spiritual wellness.

I feel extremely blessed to have many friends who help me grow in various ways. People who are willing to share their passions and talents and help me expand my horizons in so many areas….from fashion to faith, homeschool, writing, healing from grief, forming better habits and growing in virtue, self-care, intellectual openness and more. All of these people help provide the “atmosphere of growth” author Gretchen Rubin claims is an essential part of happiness. They encourage and support me to become a better me, in ways I certainly couldn’t become alone. And I think it’s meant to be this way…that the company of kindred spirits helps one’s unique talents and beauty shine.

In their insightful book, “How People Grow: What the Bible Reveals about Personal Growth,” authors of the popular “Boundaries” series, Drs Cloud and Townsend, strongly emphasize the need for vulnerable, authentic connection with others. Rather than promoting an individualistic faith that is between God and the person alone, they present the love of other people as the lifeline between our hearts and God’s. Thus healing from deep wounds requires not only intellectual knowledge of God’s grace and forgiveness, but real experiences of the heart. We need to feel His love, and the way we can is through the support and love of other people.

To connect with God’s love, however, we need not only people, but also need our hearts to be available to those people. We have to be open and vulnerable for the grace and acceptance to do any good. Many people “fellowship” with others, but they share so little as they fellowship that nothing happens at the heart level. As Paul told the Corinthians, “We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians, and opened wide our hearts to you. We are not withholding our affection from you, but you are withholding your affection from us. As a fair exchange–I speak to you as my children–open wide your hearts to us also” (2 Cor. 6:11-13). So for growth to occur, it must include experiences where hearts are open with each other. Otherwise, it is just known in someone’s head and never experienced at the levels God has designed. (How People Grow, p.128)

I think we can all relate to the power of a really good “heart to heart” chat with a close friend. Such closeness and sharing can make the unbearable seem possible and restore hope. The loving mercy of a friend who encourages us gives us the strength to not give up and the inspiration to try better, while knowing we are already loved exactly as we are. Receiving this kind of grace requires vulnerability and courage, and can’t be had by hiding and pretending we have it all together.

The point here is that grace can be available to us, but we might not be available to grace. We can be around a lot of acceptance and grace, but until the hurt and guilty places of our heart are exposed, we do not experience grace, and the gap between our head and heart continues.

To confess one’s greatest failures and sins, and then still be embraced with love and encouragement, is to experience the unconditional nature of God’s love. This kind of mercy has the power to be transformative. Deep suffering can break one’s heart open, but if we allow it be be exposed it to the healing love of trustworthy people who will comfort us, it can enable us to grow.

When we lost our baby Josephine, we were immensely supported. We could feel ourselves being held up by the prayers of friends, loved ones, and even strangers who heard our story. We experienced the emotional equivalent of a train wreck, but we got up and kept walking. This is not because of our strength, but because of our acceptance of our weakness…we weren’t afraid to lean hard on others so they could help us up again. To me this was a kind of miracle–a sign of God’s love–lavished on us by so many of His children, all participating in one way or another in the communion of the saints. By this I mean not a club for the ‘saintly’ but a vast family of imperfect people struggling to live with hope and love even in the midst of tragedy.

We experienced this all grace because we were open to it…when in pain my natural tendency is to reach out. Some people shut down and hide. It is hard for the warmth of affection to reach them. Recovery can be much slower, and on top of that, hidden wounds are very lonely.

A dear friend told me once she thought I was brave to be so vulnerable at Josephine’s funeral, letting tears fall as we carried her tiny coffin out of the packed church. Honestly, though, I simply couldn’t help it, but exposing my raw grief enabled others to reach out and comfort me. I could receive their love, and my heart could start to be healed, even as it lay broken and shattered.

I hadn’t really meant to go into all this, but I guess my point is, whatever your suffering, don’t try to do it alone. Let God love you by letting others wrap their arms around you so you can feel His nearness. Stop hiding your face under a protective veneer of pretense, as if huddling under a dark umbrella. Throw it aside and let the rain of grace pour over you and wash away your tears. And with your hands now free, reach out and hold the hands reaching towards you.

Nesting, nesting, 1, 2, 3…

 
It’s nesting time in the Eastland household, with less than a week to go until baby! I’m really happy to report that I’ve been able to do some of the normal things to prepare for baby…and that I’m actually feeling generally ok. After losing little Josephine in labour last time, I haven’t been able to even let myself imagine this baby too much…but I’m starting to! I think the prayers of loved ones have lifted some weight from my shoulders, and I’ve managed to do a bunch of things on my baby preparation list:

1. Stock up the house with groceries. My dear friend Cheryl watched the kids for me (and cleaned the kitchen!) while her husband took me grocery shopping. He kindly put up with my crazy preganancy shop and helped me fill two enormous carts of groceries, and bring them all home after. They just had their own rainbow baby a few months ago, and wanted to do something concrete to help support me as I prepare for mine. Doing this normal pre-baby thing made me feel more calm and optimistic.

2. Clean the house. I know it sounds like a funny thing to do so far ahead, when my house is a constantly evolving circus of art projects, blanket forts, and imaginary castles, but what I mean is that I stayed home from mom’s group to help my paid cleaners do a little extra…pull out the beds to vacuum and mop underneath, replace light bulbs, dust the window ledges and lamps etc. Many dust bunnies and long lost objects were found!

3. Pack the hospital bag. This was a big one. It meant acknowledging that this baby is coming for real. And soon. That it’s not all a dream, and that I’m actually going to need his little outfits to come home in this time. That I will get to use my nursing cover this time…that there will be a baby who suckles and cries instead of being silent. The fact that I could prepare the hospital bag without getting upset was for me a surprise and a tiny miracle. 

4. Get out the newborn clothes and diapers. This was also a biggie. I’m really happy that I actually enjoyed sorting through the little boy clothes, and filling the drawer with cute things for 0-3 months. “Why did you do it, Mum?” my 9 year old asked me, “We might not need the newborn diapers. We might get two saints.” “I know honey, that’s true, but I’m hoping for the best. And didn’t open the package of diapers, so we could always give them away if we had to.”  Gotta love the brutal honesty of children. My 5 year old told me cheerfully, “After the baby comes, we will have a party at Holy Family, right? Either a baptism or a funeral?”  “Yes.” My four year old was sweet at bedtime prayers…”I pray baby brother will come out and snuggle us and suck on my finger.” She knows what babies like!

5. Order new homeschool supplies. I thought it would be a good idea to order some new books now, so that a few weeks after that baby comes, fun parcels will arrive in the mail, and the kids will be excited to read new books and work on new workbooks…even if Mummy is still generally horizontal with baby!

But the icing on this layer cake of baby nesting activities was certainly a special pre-baby party my awesome friend Kate organized for me last Saturday, called a blessingway. Rather than a big early birthday party with tons of baby gifts and funny games, this was a beautiful evening of good company, nice food, emotional support and special prayers for baby’s safe arrival.

I got spoiled with beautiful flowers, as Kate had the idea everyone should bring some at reminded them of me. Most were gorgeous coppery red ones, rather like my hair and glasses…cheerful gerberas and  feathery tulips, but also a poignant white rose from my friend and midwife Terry-Lyn, and a white and greenish bouquet from Kate…with cabbages in it for her veggie friend!  

Fancy chocolate, nice coffee, cosy slippers, homemade lavender bath salts, a cosy homemade crocheted blanket for baby, and generous gift cards also arrived with sweet cards full of encouraging words. This beautiful quote was in Terry-Lyn’s card: 

It’s not just the making of babies, but the making of mothers that midwives see as the miracle of birth.

Barbara Kate Rothman

Can you see why I love my midwives so much? I even wrote a piece for the anthology Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood about midwives and the mystery of motherhood.

There was also a special appearance by my dear old friend Fr. McDonnell, whom I’ve known for nearly 15 years. We used to go to Tim Hortons and Boston pizza together to chat with friends after Mass and compline evening prayers when he was still ‘just’ Brian. It’s so lovely to have him back in town again as one of our parish priests. He made everyone laugh by showing them old pictures of nearly teenage me on his phone. “She never changes,” he said sweetly. 

Fr. McDonnell came to give me the beautiful blessing for a safe labour, and to bless the candles and holy cards of St. Gerard that everyone would take home to light and pray for me these coming days. It is a comforting thing to have special traditions for expectant mothers, and to even have a patron saint for them.   

Thank you to everyone who has helped me prepare for baby so far, and who is holding me close in prayer as the big day approaches. Because of my usual late pregnancy liver condition, colistasis,  we plan to deliver three weeks early, on November 2nd. This is safer for the baby, as this condition has a slight correlation with stillbirth which increases as time goes on. Happily in an ultrasound a few weeks ago, the cord was no where near the baby’s neck like last time, so that is at least a huge relief.    Starting this Friday, the midwives will do stuff to get things going, like a stretch and sweep, and on Monday morning I’ll be downing a charming labour cocktail of protein smoothie with castor oil, and which has always worked in the past to get babies out. Then another sweep. If baby needs more coaxing to come out, my OB goes on call Monday night so she will do the rest. 

Sorry for the rather long update…but I finally found some quiet moments, deep in the night, with only my iPad and heartburn for company, so I thought I’d seize the chance to write before there is a little nocturnal creature wiggling in my arms! Less than a week to go!

Happy 1st Birthday in Heaven, Josephine!

  
Yesterday, September 30th, we celebrated the one year anniversary of my baby girl’s entrance into Heaven, on the day she was born. I thought it would be better to face the day in a spirit of celebration, as much as possible, rather than letting it pass by us acknowledged, quietly and painfully. 

The kids were totally excited, because a birthday is a birthday, and there will be cake. We had a potluck lunch, after gathering in the graveyard to pray and bring flowers, and my awesome friend Kate made the cake. And Thai Chicken Soup for dinner (so I wouldn’t have to cook), which my kids declared the best soup ever!

My husband James took the morning off so we could go to Mass together…and had the sweet idea of bringing along Josephine’s photo…Daddy’s affectionate heart…I entrusted the day to Our Lady, as I had entrusted her with Josephine, that she could cover her with kisses until I arrive to take over the job. 


A few days before the birthday, my 7 year old daughter was walking home holding hands with her toddler brother when I overheard this:

It’s almost Josephine’s birthday! And you’re invited!

Oh, birthday!

And there will be cake!

Mm, take!

And later, when we all get to Heaven, we will play with Josephine! She’s your little sister, and we will be all together. 

My five year old piped up, “And it’s ok if she is still small, and I’m bigger, because then I’ll be able to hold her better.” 

 

Just as at her funeral Mass and burial, we had many people come, and I think this meant a lot to the kids, to have their little sister honoured like this, and celebrated by people who only ever knew her while she was still kicking in my belly. A few kids made her cards, to go in her memory folder, and one gave a special rock. Never underestimate the value of a special smooth rock, given by a child. Such things are treasures. 

  

Once everyone arrived for lunch, we counted 24 kids at her birthday, not including babies, so it was likely closer to 30. Happily it was a gorgeous fall day, perfect for a picnic lunch outside. My friend Tajsha made the kids’ day by bringing hot chocolate mix and mini-marshmallows. Celebrating in style!

We moms enjoyed coffee and sitting chatting outside by the garden while the kids played. I was very happy for all the company and support of my dear and thoughtful friends in this day. I was surrounded by love, food and prayers, and all these things cushioned my heart so I can honestly say it was a beautiful day. Thank you to everyone who made it special. I’m sure Josephine is happy her family has so many good friends, and will sparkle a little stardust your way, if you ask her. 

Interview with Bonnie Way of The Koala Mom

Here is an interview with my friend and fellow Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood author Bonnie Way. I’m excited to be starting as a guest writer a few times a month on her blog, The Koala Mom, and was interviewed on it last Monday. I so love having a blogging buddy to talk about writing with! Hope you enjoy meeting her, too! 

 

Bonnie Way                          The Koala Mom

Please tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a SAHM with three girls (ages 7, 5 and 2) and another baby on the way in November. My husband and I both grew up in Alberta. We met at university and got married when we graduated, then moved around a lot before deciding to go back to university in Victoria. Now we’re settled in Vancouver, where I’m homeschooling our oldest two. We enjoy going swimming and hiking together, watching movies, and playing board games with friends.

Why do you love to write? How does it help you be more yourself?

I’ve always been a writer. I started my first diary when I was ten and printed my first novel when I was fourteen. In my teens, I wrote several fantasy novels and started various other novels, which still sit on my computer. Then I did an English degree and worked as an editor for a year before going on maternity leave. I started my blog just before getting married and it has slowly evolved to be my biggest writing outlet. It took me a few years as a mom to realize that I needed the support of other moms; my blog has been one way to connect with other moms and to share this journey of motherhood. Writing is kind of my way of processing what I’m thinking and going through, and blogging allows me to combine my passions for writing and mothering.

What made you want to be part of this project? Why do you think it’s important? 

I love supporting other moms and writers, so the idea of contributing to an anthology was a lot of fun. Moms and families are also very much under attack in today’s society, so I believe it’s important that we as moms encourage each other. I’ve often felt looked down upon for being “just a mom” or wanting lots of kids. Society seems to see kids as a burden, an expense, a stage in life to “survive” until they are more interesting. So I wanted to share that kids are a joy at any stage – even through those night wakings of the first year or two and that it’s okay to want nothing more than to be a mom. Reading Anna’s essay on being a love rebel is what really encouraged me to share my whole struggle with wanting to be a mom in a culture that looks down on a mom, and how finally, after nearly seven years of being a mom, I feel like I really have embraced that role and stopped looking down on myself. I hope that will encourage other moms too, to stand up to our society and be love rebels.

  

What benefits do you think people will gain from this book? Could it be used in a mom’s discussion group or book club?

Yes, this would be a great book for a mom’s discussion group or book club. I think each of us contributors provides a unique perspective on motherhood. Any of the essays could inspire a good discussion. 
I also picture this book inspiring the mom who doesn’t have a mom’s group, who is busy all day with her toddlers or babies and snatches a few minutes here and there to read. Many of the chapters are short (well, except for my long essay!) and easy to read in a few minutes (put it in the bathroom if you have to! I used to read a lot of magazines there!). As moms, it can be easy to get bogged down in the tantrums and the messes, the daily chores, and to lose the big picture of motherhood, so I hope this little book can inspire moms everywhere to look beyond the sleepless nights and the other trials of motherhood to the joys and the long-term goals of raising kids.

Why is friendship with other moms so important? Is there a friend who has made a big difference in your journey as a mom?

I was among the first of my friends to get married and the very first to have a baby. That created a bit of a gap in my friendships, as all my friends were focused on their careers and I was at home changing diapers and doing laundry. Then we moved several times and went back to school, and I finally found a mom’s group at a local church. That group of ladies was like a breath of fresh air. It was so amazing just to show up every week and talk about everything, from who was up all night with a grumpy baby to how to help a kid transition into Kindergarten. We’ve moved again since then, but I still keep in touch with the moms from that group and miss them so much. They were the ones who taught me how much moms need other moms – whether they can answer the question I’m struggling with, pray for me, or just offer a shoulder to cry on until a certain parenting phase passes.

Tell us a bit about your pieces in the book…what is your main message, or best piece of advice for moms?

I have a couple little poems in the book, a short essay I wrote about my oldest daughter’s first pair of shoes, and then a longer essay about my journey into motherhood. I think the first three pieces each focus on little moments of motherhood – things we could overlook, but might look back on later with a smile. I want those pieces to encourage moms to treasure the little moments before they are gone. My longer essay is about my desire to be a mom in a society that says women should be more than moms. I hope that essay can encourage other moms who also struggle with that to stand up for their desire to have kids and be mothers. Even if we wear other titles as well, “mom” is an important and worthy job and we shouldn’t let society look down on us because this is what we chose to do with our lives.

  

Who was your favourite author growing up? Was there someone in literature who modeled for you how to be a woman or mother?
Just one favourite author? LOL. On the topic of motherhood, I’d mention Little Women and Louisa May Alcott’s other books. Marmee is a constant, loving presence through that novel and we also see Meg and Jo growing into their roles as moms—Meg as the mom of her own twins and Jo as the adopted mother of a whole school of boys. Another favourite author is L. M. Montgomery and her Anne books. I love the way the relationship between Anne and Marilla develops through that novel, and then again, seeing Anne become a mother in the later books is also inspiring. And I should mention Cheaper by the Dozen, a hilarious book about a family with twelve kids that kind of started my own joke that I want twelve. All of those books talk about motherhood, adoption, and large families, and had an impact on me as a young reader. 

Can you tell us a little about your blog?

Well, I write a mom blog so it covers a little bit of everything. Right now, I blog five days a week and have a rough schedule of blogging about motherhood on Mondays, travel (around Vancouver) on Tuesdays, marriage or other things on Wednesdays, homeschooling on Thursdays, and book reviews on Fridays. I’ve been blogging for nine years this summer and do product reviews as well as sponsored posts. I call my blog my work-at-home part-time job and I love the fact that I can do something I enjoy, make a bit of extra money for our family, and still be at home with my girls. Plus, I’ve met so many other cool women through my blog so I love the way that social media and the blogosphere can connect us as moms.

  

Visit Bonnie at 🐨 The Koala Mom 🐨

How small I am, Lord

How small I am, Lord,

like a little toddler stumbling along 

and insisting on doing it “self.”

But when I get so exhausted that

I have to sit down and cry,

I find myself scooped up in Your loving arms.

You’ve made me this small so You can carry me

tenderly and cover my scrapes with kisses….

gestures of affection from all those around me,

whose warmth and wisdom protects me

from the silliness of trying

to travel this journey alone. 

I am tiny

so others can have the chance

to be messengers of Your mercy—

angels of Your love.

Help me always to trust

that every time I fall

You’ll be there to comfort me

with a love even sweeter than before.

  

“Love Rebel” up and rolling!

I’m excited to see our book “Love Rebel: Reclaiming Motherhood” on Amazon!

We have been blessed with some really beautiful reviews. It’s so great to see women responding with warmth and joy to our collection of essays, poems, and experiences of motherhood. This is anything but a ‘know it all how-to’ book…it’s more like a bunch of good heart-to hearts with girlfriends over coffee…sharing laughter and tears, and feeling encouraged to not be alone in the bumpy adventure that is motherhood. 

Chicken Soup for the Soul contributor Glynis Belec said in part of her wonderful review:

As I was reading, I started jotting down notes – joy phrases; sage advice; brilliant quotes. I was barely halfway through before I realized I had almost two full pages. Something rings true as each author ushers me into her life. Perhaps it is the vulnerability and the frankness of the authors. The stories are all different yet share a common thread -mothers are vessels for the miracle of life. A good reminder to our society where motherhood is too often considered secondary or not as important as career and climbing the corporate ladder.

I think Bonnie Way said it best in her story – “As I gave myself permission to just be a mom, all the little daily tasks of motherhood became a joy, instead of a chore.”

My sweet mother-in-law, one of my chief cheerleaders, noticed that you can now see inside on Amazon! This nice feature means you can read our editor Roberta’s intro to the book, see the table of contents, and also read the other reviews inside it. This all gives you just a little more of a taste of the book before you decide if it’s somthing you’d like to have next to your bed, on your coffee table, or at your mom’s group or book club. Happily the $10 price for a print book makes it quite accessible. Buying it as a Kindle e-book is another option, and is $2.97 American or $3.78 Canadian. 

Brenda J. Wood wrote this about reading “Love Rebel”:

What a charming book. I cried, and laughed (sometimes both at the same time!) The authors wrote their hearts on these pages and speak of loss and stress and every crazy emotion that occurs when you are a mother. They speak up for a dying art, the art of motherhood and the difference it makes to a child when it’s done right. It is ‘technically’ a Catholic book but don’t let that put you off. Highly recommended because it is heartwarming indeed.

A warm thank you to all the women who have reviewed our book and taken the time to give our stories a place in their hearts. Cheers to all my fellow moms! May we always support and encourage one another, and never fall prey to the danger of comparing ourselves to others and feeling we should try to be anyone else but the best version of ourselves. 

  

Check it out Amazon!

Honouring International Bereaved Mother’s Day

May 3rd is international bereaved Mother’s Day. It is an important and beautiful opportunity to acknowledge all the mothers around the world who have suffered loss through miscarriage, stillbirth, child loss or painful struggles with infertility. 

It is a chance to share grief and hope, to reach out and be vulnerable, to connect, to encourage, and to honour the women whose mother’s hearts are suffering deeply. 

 
Every baby is, in the words of Still Life Canada, “a unique and irreplaceable individual.” It is fitting that we honour their passing with our whole hearts. Sometimes sharing your grief is the first step to allowing others to share theirs, too, and beginning to heal. Let’s break the silence with gentle words of love.     Also, the Mothering Your Heart program is a lovely way to connect with other bereaved moms, be encouraged and supported in your journey of grief and healing. There is a Facebook page to share with other moms if you like, and a series of helpful emails you can receive each day leading up to Mother’s Day, with gentle ideas on self-care and nurturing your wounded heart, honouring your baby and seeking the stillness in which to discover the still, small voice of hope….    Wishing you all peace, strength, healing and hope…

With all my heart,

Anna

Mummy of Josephine, my little star in Heaven 

Mothers of the world, unite!

I’ve just spent the weekend immersed in inspiring talks from an online conference for moms and what struck me most as a common theme was the need to support and encourage each other. A kind of professional solidarity, but without the competitive spirit. More like a sisterhood of moms.

In order to live this, we need to set aside our performance anxiety and quit comparing ourselves to other moms. It is not a competition. 

How much grief we could spare ourselves and others if we let this need to measure up go. If we instead tried to really believe that we are enough for our kids, and that’s all that matters. They are a gift, and they were given to us for a reason, because of all the women in the history of the world, only we are meant to be their mother.

In other words, we don’t have to earn the right to their love. We should, of course, do all in our power to love them, but knowing that our brokenness is simply part of being human, and that they weren’t meant to be raised by angels. Angels wouldn’t know how to teach them to be human: to struggle, to make mistakes, to sacrifice, to forgive.

If we could quit trying to outperform ourselves and others, we could be more open to responding to other moms as friends, as sisters who share a common life. We could stop being afraid to be vulnerable with each other. And in this atmosphere of support, of friendship, even of encouraging mentorship, we could grow…far more than in a place of isolation, comparison and fear.

So I challenge you all to take a moment to reflect on how you support the other mothers in your life right now. Do you call them just to check in? Do you do little kind deeds for them just to make them smile? Do you make time to listen when they need a heart-to-heart? And above all, are you brave enough to be vulnerable with them, thereby giving them the freedom to be authentic with you as well?

This is what friendship is, and this is what all moms, and in fact all people, need. It think when it comes down to it we all share the common goal of making the world a better place for our children, and a better place because of our children. How about supporting each other in it? If we do, we can bring each other such joy!

Mothers of the world, unite!

 

Lent: A Season to Grow in Love

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As we feel spring breezes shaking us out of the slumber of winter, and see little signs of new life popping out of the ground, we all feel the hope of new beginnings and fresh starts. This is one aspect of Lent, examining ourselves to see which areas of our life need revitalizing, and praying for the grace of the Holy Spirit to blow away the cobwebs and bring us to new and deeper life.

Trees teach us so well. They know how to strip themselves bare and stand naked before God, honestly revealing all their bumps and scrapes, and asking to be healed and covered afresh in a robe of spring blossoms.

When we look at ourselves without excuses and pretence, we can all see areas in which we need to grow. Faults we have that cause others pain or inconvenience, like being sloppy, indiscreet, insensitive or impatient. Lent is a time to move forward with hope, choosing a few small ways to try to improve ourselves, with the help of grace, so that we are better able to love.

We should be humble enough to realize that rather than sudden showy or impressive changes, it is the small steps taken consistently that usually lead us to improvement. (Stinker! Fast and flashy sounds much more fun! 😉 Where’s the fairy godmother’s wand when you need a makeover…)

Ultimately whatever we decide to give up or take on this Lent, should have this goal in mind: to become better versions of ourselves, to grow interiorly, to make amends for our mistakes, and to grow in our ability to love God and love the people we encounter each day. Perhaps we can smile at a stranger and ask how they are, or take time to speak to a lonely co-worker instead of eating lunch alone with our iPhone. Let’s push ourselves to reach out to others in love, and fight, as Pope Francis calls it, “the globalization of indifference.”

Many of the little acts of denial we might choose may seem very mundane, like clearing off the table and doing the dishes before getting distracted on the internet, reading the kids their bedtime story or calling a lonely relative, even when we are worn out from a long day. Yet it is in these little things like cheerfully serving others, finishing what we start, and doing things on time, that make our homes run more smoothly and harmoniously, and less like chaotic zoos (trust me, living with 5 little monkeys, I know about zoos!). With our example we can foster an atmosphere of generosity and concern for others in our families. Happily kids do copy the good things we do as well as the bad.

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It can be hard to keep giving, remembering that all these little acts, when done consistently and with love, add up to a quiet heroism. At least, it can be hard alone. Which is why I think community is so essential, for everyone, but also for moms, who tend to work long hours as the sole adult aboard ship Kidalot. Having community with other moms to laugh, cry and share stories is so healing and helpful. It makes life so much more full and rich, and reminds us we are not alone on this journey. I couldn’t do it without my mom buddies or cheer me up and cheer me on!

If you feel like you could benefit from the encouraging company of fellow moms who want to remind you of the depth and beauty of your calling as a mother, and to encourage you to grow in your faith, please check out the upcoming (March 6-9, 2015) online conference for Catholic moms (or anyone else interested, of course!). It’s free and convenient, and once you register you can view any of the talks online, from the comfort of home…perhaps while your little ones take a nap or have an outing with daddy.

If you enjoy the talks you’re able to see, and want to view them again, or see the ones you missed, you’ll be able to purchase the entire conference package afterwards. This is not part of registering, but an option afterwards. The talks will be a great resource for discussion at your parish or mom’s group, and give you a chance to be a leader in fostering community among mothers in your area.

Having looked myself at the extensive panel of speakers, many mothers, writers, bloggers, foodies, etc, I can’t wait! Hope you’ll join us online!

Check out the
Awesome Presenters
And the
Great Prizes

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The Ever Changing Tides of Grief

I received this beautiful advice on grief during the holidays from my lovely big sister. Having been widowed when her children were very small, she knows about grief…that we can’t skip it, but have to go through it. She has been a great support to me since I lost the baby.

Hi sweetie,

I know all these celebratory days are falling flat under the weight of your enormous grief. It’s awful and expected and normal. That doesn’t help. Nothing really helps. You have to ride the wave of it. It will wash over you again and again. Sometimes you’ll think the tide is way out there, that you’re safe and far away from it, and yet another wave will cut you off at the knees.

The intervals will eventually get farther apart and yet when a wave hits you, it will feel every bit as intense. That, in my experience, is just how it goes.

The thing is – the waves will send you spinning but they won’t drown you. You’ll keep going because you are tough and resilient and wise and beautiful and have a thousand blessings to offset the struggle.

All my love,
Dymphny

I wanted to post these words today for all others who are grieving, and especially in honour of two of my friends who recently had fairly early miscarriages. My heart is with you as you ache for your babies in Heaven. Your truly lost a little child, just like me. All the potential for a whole life was there in that tiny little being, that new little soul created in love. It is understandable that your heart is broken. This child—with their unique DNA, their individual soul, their mysterious mission—can never be repeated. It is ok that you long for them forever. Forever will come.

May you be comforted by family and friends, and carried by grace through the ever changing tides of grief. And as you keep swimming to that distant shore of peace, know that you will be a sign of hope for others.