On Patience, Taking My Toddler to Mass, and Gratitude

“Patience achieves everything.” — St Teresa of Avila

Let me take you on a journey.

Of all the sins I struggle with, the one most impossible for me to overcome is my hot-blooded, boil-over-in-a-second, knee jerk temper. Patience isn’t a virtue that comes to me naturally. If I have something to say, I say it. Apologies come later, sure, but right before that, the words were flying out of my mouth before even I knew what was coming.

I aspire to sainthood, but I’m more of a Joan of Arc than a St Monica. Lead me into battle anytime — just don’t make me bare wrongdoing patiently. Or worse, silently.

Not long ago I prayed, God, what is the deal with this innate temper that gets me into trouble? How do I find patience?

I googled. I read some St Thomas Aquinas. Later when I wasn’t even looking (because that’s how God operates), I found a quote online, but for the life of me, I can’t locate it now. I swear though, it was St Teresa of Avila, and it was something along the lines of if you want to be patient you need to learn to be grateful–though the only quotes on patience that I can find of hers pertain to patience obtaining allthethings.

But I reeeeally did stumble upon a saint quote on gratitude that caused me to start googling thankfulness. For some odd reason, I have always had a hard time expressing gratitude or any real feelings that run deep for that matter. I will happily tell you all my faults in an instant to add distance to protect my heart rather than share the intimate stuffs that friendships are made of. Go figure. So gratitude clearly has a tie to vulnerability.


What struck me after reading gratitude blurbs on blogs, bible chapters and saint texts, was just how important gratitude is to our souls, our relationship to God and to each other.  So I decided, ok God you told me to work on gratitude, so that’s what I’m going to do. And for a month it looked something like the following anecdote:

*Driving down the road. Praying the rosary (distracted and badly).* Ooooh the sky is just so blue and beautiful. Oh wow, no clouds. Just endless blue sky! Praise Jesus! This is gorg… hey a-hole, stay in your own lane. *said while barely resisting the urge to flip off of the reckless person in the vehicle swerving in and out of traffic.*

My intentions are excellent. My following through–not so much.

So a couple days ago, God and I had a heart to heart. God, I thought, I am just not figuring this out. I’ll keep at it because you said to, but I’m at a loss for ‘thankfulness.’ I’m trying. I don’t know what you want me to do.

So a day goes by. I finally started reading the hilarious and insightful Cari Donaldson’s (who I met this Summer at Edel) book Pope Awesome. It is excellent by the way.

God spoke right to me on the pages of her book in a big duh moment.

There’s Cari talking about how Eucharist means thanksgiving, and I stop dead in my tracks. I know I know I know Eucharist means thanksgiving. I also know, know, know and have heard dozens of times that when you get down to it, the Eucharist is the key to everything. But right at that moment I realized, oh, God is really calling me to receive Him in the Eucharist.

Now, I know that. I go to mass every Sunday. I believe in the real presence, the Blessed Sacrament. But lately at Sunday mass I either have a loud, rambunctious kid (or 3) with me or I have zero attention span personally. The mystery of Christ fully present in the Eucharist is there but shrouded by the fact that I‘m hungry, my shoes hurt, that guy next to me has really bad BO and I am wondering if I remembered to shut off the oven after all. Also should I cancel my Gwennie Bee membership? I have to go by the post office. I forgot to get milk! I am so angry at myself for not remembering milk. I made a note on my phone and everything. I want a new iphone but not the one that bends in your pocket. True story.

Meanwhile, there’s Jesus, present in the host, the truest and quickest way to grace, sanctity and sainthood, and I’m not only witnessing this miracle but being called to full communion–and I’m thinking about running errands?? Put a dunce hat on me. Seriously.

I used to go to daily mass. As soon as I could drive. It was a priority and I enjoyed it and I was gifted a lot of graces because of it. Now though, because my husband works very early and usually very late and I have a toddler and kids who may or may not be at school, it’s not as if my time is my own.

But whether or not anyone besides me and God really wanted me there today, in the small chapel where daily mass is held just down the street from my house, we were there. Me and the kids. Me and especially the toddler who thought It’d be super fun to slap me in the face and yell all the words he wanted to say. Sorry fellow parishioners. It was painful and awful and awkward, but I may just go again both because I’m horribly rude, and even more so because God is telling me in no uncertain terms that I need those graces. My soul depends on it. I want to be a saint and do great things, but aint nobody became a saint by flipping the bird at other drivers in the middle of her rosary. Maybe a saint IN SPITE OF but not because of. I can hope anyway.

I’m currently rereading Haley’s awesome-est ever post on how her kids don’t ruin mass and skimming over other internet posts which sadly aren’t as encouraging as Haley’s. If I could make a time without the kids work for daily mass, I would. In the meantime, I pray I don’t upset anyone too much with my unruly, crazy toddler boy (who only has one volume level). Because I need this. I really do.

“All the good works in the world are not equal to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass because they are the works of men; but the Mass is the work of God. Martyrdom is nothing in comparison for it is but the sacrifice of man to God; but the Mass is the sacrifice of God for man.”

– St. John Vianney, Cure d’Ars

The Eucharist is the consummation of the whole spiritual life.
– St. Thomas Aquinas
Holy Communion is the shortest and the safest way to Heaven.
– St Pius X

When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.
– Bl. Mother Theresa of Calcutta

Why You Should Try Gwynnie Bee!

Ya’ll. I am in love with a new monthly subscription thing.

It’s called Gwynnie Bee! And it’s totally NETFLIX for CLOTHING! Say whaaaa??

Okay before I wax lyrical — the only caveat is it starts at sizes 10 and up which I know won’t work for everyone. I imagine that they are expanding as fast as they can and (like Thredup) will eventually branch out as they get more revenue to do so. And when they do skinny mamas — jump on it!

Why? Let me tell you. BUT FIRST — Mood music if you please:


*warning: some colorful lyrics*


  1.  First, it’s not complicated at all. You sign up; you put dresses, tops, pants — whatever you like — into your virtual closet.

Here’s my closet with what I have out at home currently, and all the dresses I picked from their collection and “closeted” to my account.


Screen Shot 2014-08-09 at 11.24.57 AMScreen Shot 2014-08-09 at 11.25.13 AMDepending on the plan you pick (1,2,3,5,7 pieces of clothing out at a time), they select and mail you that number of pieces from your closet. You hang onto them as long as you want. When you are done with something, to expedite the process you mark them “returned” so they can pull the next piece and eliminate the processing time.

2. Shipping is free both ways. They send you a postage-paid bag with your clothes.

3. They dry clean everything. No laundry required.

4. If you fall in love with a dress, and you probably will, you can buy it steeply marked down.

5. This gets me to try clothing out of my comfort zone (I usually buy cheap and bland). But I put a $100+ dress into my closet with a print I wasn’t sure about. I wore it to work and received a ridiculous amount of compliments throughout the day. After those rave reviews, I am very tempted to buy it at a discount / marked down to $40.
Screen Shot 2014-08-11 at 1.25.11 PMSo unlike Stitchfix that charges you a $20 fee to pick out clothing, then requires you to pay a full markup / retail for the items (and they generously *sarcasm* give you back the $20 toward it) — instead with GB, here’s a company where you browse their expanding collection of different brands, wear the clothing out in public to see if you like it, then you keep it as long as you want, mail it back for free or buy it cheap! So yeah — I am trying on things I never would have selected for myself but don’t feel obligated at all to purchase them. It is lovely.

6. Gwynnie Bee has a 30 day free trial going right now. I would not have joined if they didn’t have it. I needed the push. Prices are a little daunting, especially when you don’t know you’ll even enjoy the subscription. $10 I can play around with but $35-80? No. The trial is great because it gives you time to get used to the process and figuring how brands fit and whether you should size up or down. I did the 3 items out at once plan and learned really, as a SAHM who’s only in the office one day, one piece out a week is probably fine. I can wear a dress for an hour Sunday to mass, then again the day I’m at the office. Put it in the mailing bags and send it off. The turn-around time has been great and the website states pieces ship in 2-4 days. I will probably downgrade to one dress at a time when my trial runs out to keep it economical.

7. It’s so fun. Friday I was having a miserable day. My one-year-old bit my five-year-old during her prospective school interview. There was whining and gnashing of teeth. Fun. THEN we all trucked on to speech therapy, so I was about ready to collapse at the end of the day — but I got home, pulled into my driveway and leaning against the garage door were two white packages with new dresses to try on. I was totally not expecting it. Pretty new, risk-free dresses to try on. And I did. And it was instant therapy.

8. The selection is ever growing. Every other day they seem to add a handful of new styles. I have about 40 dresses in queue waiting to be mailed out. Clearly not every dress is going to work for everyone. But I’m pretty tall (5’11) and have been able to find plenty of knee length dresses; in stores that’s hit or miss. Some dresses at GB look like they’d fit more petite sizes, and to my hubby’s dismay, I haven’t even bothered with closeting them. But so far I’ve got a lot of clothing “closeted” to try.

9. Customer service has been fantastic. If something does go awry, they are quick to respond and in my case (personal confusion over an order, silly me) they gave me an extra item to borrow. And this when I sent in a request for a certain brand of dresses:


10. I look nice, and I feel good. Not all the dresses I’ve been sent have fit. I’ve sent 3 back without wearing them — but the turnaround time is quick and I’ve already had seven dresses to try on since I joined on the first. I’m not in the fitting room stressing about my clothes while my kids crawl on the Target dressing room floor. I don’t leave frustrated. I’m in the comfort of home tossing the dress back into a prelabeled mailing bag. So I don’t feel drained or crummy about the experience. And I feel great when the dresses look good!! 

So there are 10 meandering, oddly bolded reasons to try Gwynnie Bee. If you fit in sizes 10+ I seriously recommend you give them a go and let me know if you love them too! I’m about to send 3 dresses back today — can’t wait to see what shows up next!!

If you do give them a try please use my *referral link* if you will! Thanks! 


love jeni

 P.S. Wednesday I’ll post some more pictures of the dresses if you’re interested to see Gwynnie Bee in action.



Theology for Moms: Motherhood is Not Efficient



Let me set the scene. It’s 2am. I’m doing laundry like only a fool who does laundry at 2am does. I’m tired, but mostly I’m tired of my three small kids tromping through my laundry piles. So at 2am, I am zoning out to the Glorious Mysteries on Spotify, scaling the Everest of outgrown baby clothes, and trying to decide what to keep and what to give away.

So far, it’s been easy. I have four expanding “give” piles and one humble “keep” chair. I haven’t even cried. Really. But then I pick up a fleece sleeper with reindeer footies, and I hesitate. What are the odds of having another baby girl who needs a size 6-12 month Christmas sleeper? Do I hang on to this just in case?

In my uncertainty, the control freak in me says, God ya know, this not knowing when to expect babies is just not very efficient.

I picture a heavenly, fluffy sky with a scroll unfurled, me reaching up for a quill and signing up on the dotted line for the next blessing’s arrival date  (yes I was delirious — it was 2am); but I know life doesn’t work like that. God takes our inadequacies and chaos and uses them for good. Motherhood is not efficient in the way we think things should be, but sure, I can start to think in that frame of mind.

Let’s see as a mother, I spend money on clothing that only fits me, let’s be honest, one month out of 3 trimesters. Not so efficient.

My 19 month old spilled his sister’s milk yesterday twice. It took me three refills before my daughter ever gulped down her first sip.

I’m perpetually washing the same dishes over and over and over and over again. It’s those same laundry loads day in and day out too, never making much progress as I spend the day picking up the toys, making lists and putting away the groceries and making the same beds.

Motherhood really does seem to be a lot of time spent redoing mundane tasks. All day and everyday.

So. much. Frozen. on. Bluray.

After sorting through the laundry at 2-something in the morning, I bagged some stuff up and kept thinking about the efficiency of my efforts. I pictured my two girls and baby son half-squished, half-snuggled up in my husband’s lap, reading a nonsense book about rhyming words, spending so many collective hours like that. When we’re looking at checkboxes and todo lists, motherhood doesn’t look efficient and certainly not grandiose or accomplished. There are no degrees or awards. Instead there are sleep deprived nights and spit up and butts to be wiped. Bottles to be warmed. Appointments to be scheduled. Homework and arguments and missing shoes.

But when the seamstress is bent over, hard at work, stitching together each stitch, eventually she’s going to have completed her project. Time will collect all the tiny threads and her work will speak for itself. Motherhood may not appear to be efficient. Maybe not in the day to day. Maybe not in some perspectives. We mess up a stitch or break the thread and get frustrated. But so much is accomplished and able to thrive because of those little, humbling tasks.

Motherhood absolutely is all of these labors of love, but it’s also the sum total of our efforts. It’s not just the 2 glasses overturned, the lost temper, the sticky floor — it’s also our children’s unmeasurable love for us and our love for our children fully present in all the actions that make up a day, the love of our Creator manifested through us, to us, to the world in little everyday chances. Motherhood is raising up our children through these small, inefficient tasks. Thank God we can’t plan every nuance of our existence. Thank God He leaves life open for so much possibility. His Scope is so much larger than we can comprehend and His gifts so much better than we could plan for ourselves.


“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”

Blessed Mother Teresa



I have emerged from the Edel Gathering with renewed zeal to blog. I have also emerged from sitting in the car for roughly 38 hrs and 2032 miles in 5 days with little to no sense whatsoever. But then again, I probably started with not a lot.

So yeah lots of driving to and from Texas. Hashtag Floridagirl problems. Hashtag Floridagirl who doesn’t like air travel problems. Hashtag 3 small kids in the backseat of a Passat (Passat that hates me*). Hashtag Edel14.

This post is going to ooze inspiration. At some point. Ready? Set? Let’s go.

1. What the heck is Edel anyways? I feel like I must have gotten banned from the Facebook feeds from some IRL friends after I started hashtagging every single post for 4 days with #edel14.
HoustonScreen Shot 2014-07-28 at 11.56.34 PMdowntown austinEdel Gathering is the dreamchild of Jennifer Fulwiler and Hallie Lord (geniuses apparently).  An event to unwind and have fun. Which sounds fantastic, but when I tried to explain to relatives what really drove us to drive 15 hrs to Austin TX — the words “catholic mommy blogger convention” popped out of my mouth. And really, really really, I just wanted to meet the incredible ladies that live in my computer.

So what was Edel? Breathtaking. Or rather a breath of air in my cluttered, disastrous, hastey, rambunctious, diaper-changing life. It was like being at a party with 150 of my BFFs–some that I’d instagram followed, tweeted, comboxed and facebooked pretty regularly for years. Then there were so many new people I didn’t know. And that was probably even more amazing to me–that woman after woman I met, I was able to not only cover the basics about where I was from and how I got there but why I came, about special needs daughters, about sacraments & striving to be a Catholic woman in our current culture with multiple small children, about how it was hard but good — about crazy shoes and liquor choices. Meaningful things people.

So why DID I make it to Edel? I found out about Edel because my friend Haley was asked to speak. But something in me, as I read and reread the words on Hallie and Jen’s site’s about this small-ish gathering of catholic mama’s, spoke to me. I knew, I would be there. Now, that’s crazy talk because our finances back in Feb were a disaster. We were not even getting bills paid regularly. I pretty much put it out of my head that I would ever make it. But ya know, I did make it. And honestly every. single. step. of the journey from ticket purchase, to DH getting time off of work, to staying with extended family, the rental car and the drive–I didn’t expect it to work. I kept waiting for the hiccup that knocked the house of cards over. But they never fell.

I arrived at Edel feeling a little naked and tired.

Despite any hangups and baggage I brought, I was almost instantly greeted by a cluster of ladies in the (ginormous) Omni lobby with cheer and hugs. Hallie and Jen walked over in a moment so surreal and Hallie embraced me in the warmest hug ever. I awkwardly said who I was, and Hallie said of course she knew who I was and off we went with Jen Fulwiler joking about how she was embarrassed her phone was left in selfie mode as she snapped some photos.

Off for wine and funny shoes. Meeting dozens and dozens of the most interesting, witty, hilarious women I have ever met in my life. My only regret is that I didn’t win the shoe competition and I guess I am ok with this horrible oversight.

{the inspirational parts} When I found myself sitting in the conference room listening to the opening address by Hallie, it hit me so hard–I really, honest to God, was meant to be there for this event. Hallie shared, through some tears about how she asked God if there was anything He wanted to impart on us as we gathered. And it was that it was good that we were there.  

Which about brought me to tears because seriously, if life is a series of valleys and peaks, I’ve been in the valley for a few years now. Just exhausted by the perpetual juggling, not always knowing who I was, how I got there and surely not where I was going — worst of all I was bordering very seriously on hopelessness. In fact,  I was getting nailed with suicidal thoughts for months, through smiles and shrugs, wondering what the point of it all was, did God even care anymore (all those lies satan tells you). I was tired, tired, tired and worse — seriously lonely.

So, with all that going on, sometime back in Feb, I fixed my sights on Edel–I wouldn’t give up the thin sliver of hope I still had, that life would get better, until after Edel; If I felt so strongly called to go, God would figure out a way. I put it in His Hands and I also put my self-doubt on hold, went to confession and just decided, just keep swimming.

I had no idea in the few short months after I decided to fight the temptation to despair how different and how quickly life could change.

It’s late–I’ll finish tomorrow. Please come back for part 2!

love jeni


P.s. *Tell you about the Passat too. Promise.


Had a kinda crappy evening and a really shizzy night.

The angle isn’t super hot and I’m not wearing any makeup, so why not let this be my singing debut… right?

Not like anyone SEES my blog anywho *but* definitely don’t encourage me because I’m a songwriting-singing fool and there will be more songs blogged if you do. You are hereby warned.

<3 jeni

More Thoughts on Suffering…

I know I never post. I just wanted to pop in and record a couple thoughts I just had while putting on my makeup. Odd that all of my inspiration seems to come when I’m cleaning, taking a shower or otherwise allowing myself time to think. Who’da thought.

Anyway. I have a couple friends going through really difficult days right now. Likely miserably bad suffering. Which is weird because for the first time in like 6 years it seems like we are getting a tiny reprieve at the moment after hitting, nearly, finally, what felt like, rock bottom.

So I was musing. What if the world really just has to have a certain weight of redemptive suffering at any given time. What if when my burden is light, someone else is suffering terribly all the more. And I felt asked, Do you prefer that your friend and her toddler are suffering right now and you are not bearing the weight. And I thought, well honestly in some ways yes. But mostly no. If there is suffering to be done, I feel like I can handle a fair bit and it’s ok with me because I am so accustomed to the bottom dropping out. But then I countered God, But before I began this period of suffering I was so much less empathetic. So much weaker. So much of a jerk (and I still am but really, doing way better). So it’s good for others to bear a bit of suffering for a time. And I heard very strongly, That is why you have suffered. That is why I allow suffering. 

So this may all be just obvious for anyone else, but it’s a lesson I struggle with on a topic that I find so incredibly perplexing and fascinating. I am draw to suffering and yet hate it so much.

“Nothing is small that comes from the hand of God. If He sends us affliction or suffering, we should accept it with gratitude; for whatever He permits to happen to us is always for our salvation.” -“The Imitation of Christ”, Book 2, Chapter 10

Saint Gemma Galgani wrote:
Jesus once said to me: “Do you know, daughter, for what reason I send crosses to souls dear to me? I desire to possess their souls, entirely, and for this I surround them with crosses, and I enclose them in sufferings and tribulation, that they may not escape from my hands; and for this I scatter thorns, that souls may fasten their affections upon no one, but find all con­tent in Me alone. My daughter, if you do not feel the cross it cannot be called a cross. Be sure that under the cross you will not be lost. The demon has no strength against those souls who for My love groan under the cross. My daughter, how many would have abandoned Me if they had not been crucified. The cross is a gift too precious, and from it come many virtues.”

St. Gemma Galgani said Jesus told her: “Do you desire to love me? Learn to suffer first. Suffering teaches one how to love.”

And St Faustina: If the angels were capable of envy, they would envy us for two things: one is the receiving of Holy Communion, and the other is suffering.” (p.1805)

Check out this link for more on redemptive suffering.

And if you see this please say a prayer for my friends going through a little taste of hell on earth right now. Thanks so much!!
love jeni