How to Think Clearly & Dream Big

It started simply.  Deacon Matt Coriale challenged me to read the Gospel straight through, and I had never actually done this before.

When I did, words jumped off the page and into my heart.  I became fascinated with the concept of owning less, and with the concept of giving up everything in service to others.

“He said to them in reply, ‘Whoever has two tunics should share with the one who has none.’” (Luke 3:11)  Well, that verse hit me hard.  I had just moved south from Wisconsin.  I owned so many coats!

I felt restless in my heart, because our home was overflowing with wedding and baby shower gits.  We were well equipped to fully serve the needs of multiple families from our possessions.

At that time, a donation drop-off center stood just a block away from our home.   So, that spring, I often loaded up the stroller in the morning with our superfluous items and passed them on to others during my daily walk with my daughter.

This was just the tip of the iceberg.  It was the very beginning of a long, exciting, often uncomfortable, but always rewarding journey to a simple and more merciful life.

Something shifted in my heart.  It wasn’t that I hadn’t been willing to give before.  It was that a fire had been lit within me, and I saw everything in that new light. 

When we began passing on many of our possessions, freeing up physical space in our home, it felt natural to begin clearing out the mental clutter, too.  So, we drastically cut down on our media intake.  I was already not using any social media outlets, but began to cut back on television and movies until these things no longer interested me much at all.

And something amazing happened with this process.  It freed up so much time and energy!  The physical, mental, and spiritual space that opened up provided room for me to think clearly and to dream big.  My soul finally had room to breathe.

If we want to start living and serving at full capacity, we need to take a look at our excess.  Because the excess steals our time and stifles our creativity. 

Recovering perfectionists, stay tuned, because next I’ll be talking about whether we need to be perfect to carry out a mission of mercy.

Until then, let’s go and live mercifully!

Kaitlyn Clare Mason

10 Questions to Discover (or Confirm) Your Mission in Life

If we’re serious about discovering and fulfilling our God-intended mission in this urgent time of mercy, here are a few questions we can ask ourselves to see if we’re on the right track:

1.  What headlines, tragedies, or crisis situations compel me to anger, feelings of discomfort in my abundance, or deep compassion?

2.  When do I feel most content, peaceful, and fulfilled? Does everyone have access to these types of situations?

3.  God speaks and provides direction in a still, small voice. How much time am I spending in complete silence these days?

4.  What is one service, work, or volunteer opportunity sticks out most in my life as a monumental or life changing experience? What impact did this have on me at the time?  What impact does this have on my life now?

5.  What talents, gifts, skills, resources, privileges, knowledge, and abilities do I have that can make life better for people affected by the headlines, tragedies, or crisis situations mentioned in question 1?

6.  In my daily life, when do I come in contact with people in deep spiritual, emotional, or physical need? What is my reaction to these situations?  Am I helping to bear another’s burden?  In what ways?  How might I be able to better respond to these people and their needs in the future?

7.  What can or should I do to intentionally come into contact with and to be hospitable to people in deep need, particularly to those who may be in moral danger?

8.  What can I provide to the world that perhaps no one else can? Am I staying silent and comfortable instead of speaking out about any important issues that deserve to be addressed?

9.  How can my life and lifestyle help the world see and come to know the mercy and love of God?

10.  What am I willing to renounce for the sake of the Kingdom? In other words, what could or should I part with in life so I can better direct my attention to fulfilling God’s plans?

On Sunday this blog will rest.  But check back on Monday, when I’ll be sharing more about how my family discovered our mission, and how you can start to fulfill yours.

Until then, let’s go and live mercifully!

– Kaitlyn Clare Mason

Your Mission, Should You Choose to Accept…

Yesterday we talked about how we are all being sent on a mission of mercy.

According to St. John Paul II, mercy is “love’s second name.”  Fr. Michael Gaitley further defines Divine Mercy as “a particular mode of love when it encounters suffering, poverty, brokenness, and sin.”

I believe that mercy is the most irresistible, magnetic attribute of God.

And right now, in a world of around 7.7 billion people, with 12.5 pornographic video views for every person on the planet in 2016 on just one website alone, and with approximately 1 documented abortion occurring in the U.S. every 30 seconds, we need to draw in the masses and help everyone know how deeply they are loved.  We need to be showering people with compassion and support.

There billions of people in this world, far too many for everything to be just about you or I, and we are living in an amazing window of time when the mercy of God and opportunity of Heaven are available to everyone.

I’m inviting you to embark with me on an adventure to discover and fulfill your God-intended mission of mercy.

I’m inviting you to step off the cultural treadmill that keeps us far too busy with things that don’t matter, so we can focus on serving the One who made all the things in the first place.

This is not about doing more to serve. It’s about pivoting from what zaps our time and energy in unhealthy ways to fulfilling our God-given mission.

Only by shifting full focus to God can we hope to love and serve Him at full capacity. And when we start loving and serving to the best of our capabilities, well, that’s when we watch mercy unfold full force. And that’s when things really start to get interesting.

Next up, I’ll share a few questions you can ask yourself to help you discover (or confirm) your mission!

Until tomorrow, let’s go, and live mercifully!

– Kaitlyn Clare Mason

Am I Being Sent or Sending Myself?

Yesterday, I shared a question that has been on my heart.  Am I being sent or sending myself?  I think it’s a valid question, and one we can all struggle to answer from time to time.

You’re still welcome to click here and share anything you’re struggling with these days, too.

But the truth is that we are all being sent on a great mission.  It is a mission of mercy!  We all have a role to play in this life, because each of us is a part of the greatest story ever told.  You are a part of the greatest story ever told.

So even when we feel uneasy about whether we are carrying out God’s will in our lives, if we are seeking Him above all things, we can quiet our fears.  Even when we feel unsure of whether we are being sent by God to do seemingly ordinary things, or whether we’re just creating our own plans and sending ourselves, we can take courage.  We can rest and stand confident in the knowledge that we are loved beyond measure, and that we are all in fact being sent on a great mission of love.

Every moment brings new opportunities to embark on a mission of love and mercy.

And that’s where we’ll leave off for today.  You are being sent on a great mission of mercy.  How might you be asked to serve next?  And what does it mean to be on a mission of mercy?

More on that tomorrow!

– Kaitlyn Clare Mason

The 17 Day Anger to Mercy Challenge

St. Francis de Sales once said, “Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, not even if your whole world seems upset. If you find that you have wandered away from the shelter of God, lead your heart back to Him quietly and simply.”

Quietly and simply.  This is much easier said than done sometimes.  Anyone else agree?

While I do try to never discipline my children in anger, and while I try to keep the joy of Jesus, joy of Jesus down in my heart… I fall short.

We’re all human and we’re all going to make mistakes, but that doesn’t mean we have a free pass to throw in the towel when it comes to reaching perfection.

“So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect,” Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48.

I made a commitment to myself several weeks ago, that I was going to learn to control my anger once and for all.  No more snapping, yelling, or impatience – that was the goal.  I grabbed a glass jar and a bag full of pebbles.  Each day that I succeed in being only kind, merciful, and peaceful all the way until bedtime, I get to place a pebble in the jar.  This doesn’t mean I never raise my voice if a child is in danger or if I’m calling children in for dinner.  But my husband and children decide if I’ve earned my pebble to hold me accountable.

There are times when my voice needs to be firm, but my goal is to always transition rapidly from any sinful anger to mercy.  I know there’s righteous anger, and that’s not what I’m concerned about.  I’m talking about overcoming sinful anger and replacing it with mercy, which is another name for LOVE.

When I earn 17 pebbles, I purchase an Our Lady of Mercy scapular for someone who would like to start this beautiful devotion.  Why 17?  I decided that a pebble would be worth a dollar towards the purchase of a scapular, and the scapular plus shipping comes out to about $17.  Ha!  No other reason.  But I have heard it takes 17 days to break a habit…

I have earned a couple of scapulars for my friends, and I’m starting fresh today with an empty jar.  Would you like to join me?  

Use your $17 that you earn towards spreading devotion to Our Lady of Mercy – or for whatever you’d like.   More peace in your heart and home is guaranteed.

Reply “I’m in!” in the comments section below to sign up for this challenge.  And if you’d like for me to send you a free scapular when I earn the next one, send me a message on my contact page and say “I’d like a scapular!” – I’ll send one your way.

If you’d like some help along this journey, request your free 17 Day Anger to Mercy Challenge printable here with inspiration and a progress chart to keep you motivated each day. 

Remember, it’s okay if it takes you longer than 17 days to get all of your pebbles in the jar.  And stay tuned to this blog for more motivation on moving from anger to mercy in your heart.

5 Steps to a Capsule Wardrobe that Works for You

Yesterday I shared some benefits of a minimal wardrobe.  Here are 5 steps that I routinely take to ensure I’m maintaining a simple and merciful capsule wardrobe.  And I highly recommend using this 5-step process to create your own!

1.  Identify your style and what type clothing is comfortable and appropriate for you.

Is your style preference sophisticated?  Casual?  Are you wearing clothing that suits your shape and size?  Are you wearing clothing that is appropriate for your shape and size?  My style preference and size have changed many times over the past few years as I’ve learned what I like to wear best as a stay-at-home mother and how to dress when pregnant and postpartum. 

 2. Consider all activities where you’ll need different types of clothing, and how often you do each.

In my life, I need clothing for church, home care tasks, homeschooling, garden and homestead tasks, and workouts.  Occasionally I’ll wear an extra fancy dress to an event, or go somewhere to swim – these are extras. 

3. Plan out 7 days worth of your favorite clothing for this season, plus 2 extra days as backup (just in case).  Do the same for other seasons.  You’ll create a 7-day + 2 capsule for winter, spring/fall, and summer, and overlapping some items is great!  

You don’t need more.  If I get spit up on every day of the week, I’ll need to wash each item once weekly.  Plus, I’ve got about two backup outfits if needed.  I like to have about 2-3 skirts, 2-3 pairs of pants, 3 dresses, and 5-7 shirts on hand.  It doesn’t have to be perfect, but you don’t need 2 weeks worth of clothes if you do wash at least once a week.  Your 7 days will include everything you do each day, so make sure you keep 3-7 days of workout clothing if needed, etc. 

3.  Add your extras.

This may mean one scarf, one winter coat, one rain/light coat or jacket, one dress coat (optional – I prefer not having one… you know, the 2 coats thing…), one swimsuit, a few sweaters for cold days, a hat for gardening, etc.

4.  Add only the shoes you need.

For my life, this means 1 pair of running shoes, 1 pair of navy heels for church, 1 pair of everyday black flats, 1 pair of everyday closed toed shoes for winter, 1 pair of work boots for homestead tasks, and 1 pair of brown outdoorsy sandals for homestead tasks in extreme heat (all second hand except running shoes & work boots).  I could pare it down a little more.  I rarely end up wearing my heels – but this works well.

5.  Last step – I ask myself this question:  Am I approachable to someone who is homeless, in poverty, and to all those most in need when I am wearing these clothes?

And I believe this is really the most important thing.

What questions do you ask yourself when editing your wardrobe?  If you’ve been trying to get to a minimal wardrobe, what’s making that difficult for you?  

Benefits of a Minimal Wardrobe

I love the concept of owning just your essential items of clothing, which is also known as a capsule wardrobe – but not necessarily just for the reasons you may think.  Sure, owning less makes things easier on us, but it also makes things easier for others. That’s because capsule wardrobes are: a. simple, and b. merciful.

Wait – did I just say our clothing can be merciful? Yes. Read on!

How are capsule wardrobes simple?  They allow you to own less and to manage your items efficiently.  They allow you to spend much less time picking out what you’re going to wear and much less time caring for your few items of clothing.

They really streamline laundry – especially when you use this concept for your whole family!  I now look forward to laundry… seriously.

Okay, maybe not all the time, but it’s definitely way easier to get it done these days!

So, how are capsule wardrobes merciful or kind?  They free up resources for others in this world.  They are kind to the environment and kind to others.

“If you have two coats, one of them belongs to the poor,” said Dorothy Day.  “Live simply that others may simply live,” said Mother Teresa.  Every time we free up material resources in the world (ie: let them go), others can benefit from those resources.

When we free up our time, we have more time to use to extend mercy to others – which I’m pretty sure is the reason we exist.

Also, I consider my clothing merciful because (aside from things like camisoles, socks, and an occasional gift) – it’s all second-hand.  Second-hand is always my preference!  A benefit of a capsule wardrobe comprised of used items is that it is easy on the environment.

Every time we purchase a new item of clothing (or of anything for that matter), it’s like we’re saying to the world, “Yes, world, you need one more shirt!”

Granted, clothing eventually can wear out.  But at least in America, we’re pretty quick to toss garments into a “donate pile” rather than stick with them until the end.  There are tons of clothes out there in the world not being worn.  So, can’t we wear those used items and free up resources for something else?

I’ve owned too much clothing, and I’ve owned too little.

I define too much as having so many options I have to think for a minute about what I’m going to wear, and I define too little as waiting for a clothing item to dry because I need it to leave the house.

As a mother of 4 children ages 5 and under, I prefer to have a simple, easy to manage, merciful wardrobe.

So, tomorrow, I’ll be sharing 5 steps I like to take to ensure I’m maintaining a simple and merciful capsule wardrobe.  I highly recommend using this 5-step process to create your own!

Have you ever tried reducing your closet to just a week or so of essentials per season?  If not, what’s held you back?

Here’s a great little video from Jennifer L. Scott about her time living in France that may give you some extra motivation – click here to view!

Here’s the Full Audiobook!

Episodes of this audiobook are all together below for your convenience.  You can play them during your car ride to Grandma’s, at bedtime as children are settling down for the night, or listen in whenever it works for you.

It is my prayer that you will have a beautiful Advent and a wonderful Christmas!  And remember, keep watching the horizon. Because Jesus is really coming back!  Peace be with you.

Love,

Kaitlyn Clare

Episode 1:  Play Audio Below

Episode 2:  Play Audio Below

Episode 3:  Play Audio Below

Episode 4:  Play Audio Below

Episode 5:  Play Audio Below

Episode 6:  Play Audio Below

Episode 7:  Play Audio Below

Episode 8:  Play Audio Below

Episode 9:  Play Audio Below

Episode 10:  Play Audio Below

Episode 11:  Play Audio Below

Episode 12:  Play Audio Below

Episode 13:  Play Audio Below

Episode 14:  Play Audio Below

Episode 15:  Play Audio Below

Extra Content:  Matt Maher’s Chaplet of Divine Mercy / Lacy Rabideau’s A Picture Book of the Mass (Illustrated by the Masters!)

Merciful & Simple Meals

Our family has certainly been on a journey over the past few years!  The Gospel call of living mercifully and simply has permeated every facet of our lives in new and exciting ways.  Food has certainly been an integral part of this transformation in our lives.  You know what was the turning point?  When we wanted to plant an orchard.

We wanted to plant an orchard, but we also wanted to have chickens “someday.”  Oh, how many of us want to have chickens “someday,” right?  Well, we eventually decided that “someday” should be now, while our children were still little.  We wanted them to grow up with a healthy understanding of where their food comes from.  We wanted them to have a healthy understanding of the reality that something has to die in order for something else to live.

The Lion King nails it with the Circle of Life song, right?  But we wanted something more tangible, something more visceral for our children.  They deserved something more, and we hungered for something more.

We were living in a neighborhood with a ridiculous HOA that prohibited just about everything fun.  No chickens, no new garden beds without permission, no visible clotheslines (we fought that one successfully by the way).  And we made plans to escape.

“Are you going to have time for that?” my friend lovingly asked, when I shared our homesteading plans.  “We’re going to make time for that,” was my reply.

And so, we make time for farming.  We’re not farming and homesteading on some grand scale.  We are blessed to care for a very small flock of laying hens, a seasonal garden, fig trees, blueberry trees, a couple of grape vines, and some blackberry bushes.

So, we do it.  We make time for this, and we’re learning, and we believe deep down that this is what God is calling us to do.  (He might be calling all of us to do this, too, by the way.  More on that later…)

This morning, I’ve got a lovely little printable for you called “Merciful & Simple Meals.”  It’s a peek into how my family keeps food simple and down-to-earth.  We are currently eating gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-optional, nut-optional, and low glycemic-optional.  HA!  That’s a mouthful, isn’t it?!

The combination is pretty close to paleo, if you’ve heard of that.  But we feel great, and no one is getting sick or turning bright red after meals anymore – so that’s GREAT!

If you’re looking for fresh ideas, you can download the free printable here – Merciful & Simple Ideas!