New Address for the Generic Mum

Hi everyone, especially to my loyal followers.

I’ve been quite busy, lately, setting up my two new blogs: 19th Century Life

and A Beautiful Home.

19th Century Life is about culture in the 19th Century (no surprises there!) and will soon feature a shop, where fine art prints from the 19th century can be purchased.

A Beautiful Home embodies all that I had intended for this blog, and more: beauty, family and faith.

They are both new, and like all of you, I never seem to have enough hours in the day in which to complete my tasks, but I hope they will eventually be sites that will inspire, satisfy and encourage you all.

Please drop by my new sites, so we can share ideas and conversations.

I hope you will continue to follow me on my new sites.

Blessings to you all,

Kathy.women's lives pic 2

Another business update

319616It’s only a few days until I open my online business, and I’m a little apprehensive.

If anyone had told me how much work would be involved, I don’t think I would have ever begun.

There is so much to think about, and I have had so many technical difficulties, mostly due to my lack of skill in that department. I am easily overwhelmed by computers and internet that don’t work the way I need them to – you would laugh if you saw how slow I am at typing, how I shake my temperamental mouse, how impatient I am with this amazing technology that has made our lives so much easier.

One of the little ones jumped on my laptop last week and broke the screen. I didn’t even launch an investigation into finding the identity of the culprit – I just didn’t want to go through the rigmarole of “not me” or “I don’t know” or try and match up the various alibis – I am fairly sure that it was an under five who didn’t even know what they’d done. (Now – the lipstick episode is another matter entirely….)

So I have borrowed another laptop, which doesn’t run all of my programmes, but is a blessing because all of the keys are intact – one trademark of the twins is that they enjoy removing keyboard letters, a legacy they passed onto Danielle when she was old enough.

My babysitter gave me a great inspirational card – it says: “The task ahead of you is never as great as the power within you” and is based on Philippians 4:13 – ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.’

This has really kept me going – I keep it on the fridge and refer to it when I pass. Reading these words makes me physically relax, and I feel that I am actually giving my work over to Jesus, Who gets things done so much better than me, anyway.

I am now in the position where I have to support my family. There, I actually mentioned it in my blog.
It’s not something I want. The business was going to be a little hobby, the first thing I had ever done ‘outside the home’, so to speak. (It’s obviously ‘inside the home’, as an online business.)

Now it has come to be so much more. This is going to be a big part of the future for me and my children.

I am going to try to type the next words – I am a single mum with ten children.
Hmmm. I don’t really like the sound of that.
Your will be done, Lord.

Mary didn’t understand everything when she said ‘yes’ to God, and I certainly don’t understand what’s happening now.

There’s a fearful irony at work here – in doing something I never planned to do, in circumstances I didn’t choose, I feel that I may become the person I was always meant to be.

Business Update

It’s hard to go from contemplating the words of John Paul II to writing about business matters. But, when I remind myself that our business will be helping to support my family, then, it’s as if a circuit is connected which allows the spiritual principles continue to flow into the material needs.

The Etsy shop is set to open on January 1st – if I make it to midnight on New Year’s Eve, then I’ll open the shop then with a few clicks. The 1st of January is a great Feast day, dedicated to the Mother of God, and I like to attend Mass on that day, to dedicate the whole year to Our Lady, and through her, to God. Opening the shop on that day is my way of dedicating the entire business venture to the Lord.

I’m also working on a Facebook page for the shop; there’s not much there yet, but I should be able to post some photos today.

Here are some of the resources that I’ve been gleaning information from:

How to Start a Home-based Online Retail Business by Jeremy Shepherd

Etsy posts a number of really helpful tutorials about all facets of starting and growing a craft-related business. Some of the topics I have looked at are: costing, designing a shop banner, photographing shop items.

I’m always interested in finding out more about running a small business, so fell free to leave some links that you have found helpful.

We are also going to be moving house in the New Year, so pray for me that I will be able to keep it all together.
God’s blessings to you all.

The Interior Advent

There will be two posts today; The Interior Advent is about our relationship with the Lord, and the Business Update will add a little to the story of setting up my online business.

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The Interior Advent.

Pope John Paul II continues to be a source of inspiration, as I read through his book, ‘Prayers and Devotions.’ There is a meditation for every day of the year – some follow the Liturgical year, as these Advent posts show you, others simply study various facets of our lives as Christians, eg work, family, leisure. Today’s meditation picks up a common thread which runs between the Incarnation, the Second Coming, and our own personal lives, causing us to remember that we are both uniquely formed and loved by God, and also part of a worldwide fellowship of God’s beloved.

John Paul begins by quoting St. Bernard:

” ‘In the first coming, the Word was seen on earth and mingled with mankind, when, as He himself affirmed, they saw Him and hated Him. In the last coming, every person shall see the salvation of God, and they shall look on Him Whom they have pierced. But the intermediate coming is occult (hidden), in it only the elect shall see Him within themselves, and their souls are thereby saved.’

This Interior Advent is brought to life through constant meditation on and assimilation of the Word of God.It is rendered fruitful and animated by prayer of adoration and praise of God. It is reinforced by constant reception of the Sacraments, those of Reconciliation and the Eucharist in particular, for they cleanse and enrich us with the grace of Christ, and make us ‘new’ in accordance with Jesus’ pressing call: ‘Be converted.’

“In view of this, every day can and ought become Advent for us Christians. It can and ought become Christmas! For the more we purify our souls, the more we shall make room for God in our hearts, the more Christ will be able to come and be born in us!”

Ora et Labora #1

The following is the first in a series of interviews with Christians who work outside the home; meet my friend, Amanda.

GM: Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed for my blog. Could you please tell me a little about yourself.

Thanks Kathy.  

I am first and foremost a Mum of 3 children (girl-13, and 2 boys -11,10).  I grew up in a Catholic family with my parents and 4 other siblings.  We had a wonderful family life, despite constant poverty knocking at our door.  We went to a catholic school (Sacred Heart College) which at that stage was not co-ed in high school and were given faith guidance by the then Fr Geoffrey Jarrett.  I graduated in 1995 and went to UTAS to study Architecture.  A year into this course it was moved from Hobart to Launceston, unable to afford to move/ travel for study  I was given the option to complete my training as a traineeship with a prominent architect at the time, Patrick Yeung.  After having my children I opted for architectural design and documentation contract work from home, which eventually lead to opening my own business in architectural design and drafting in 2004. In 2008 I became quite ill and within a weekend I was hospitalised and closing the doors on my practice.  It was a tough couple of years for the family, but eventually in 2010 I took up a 1 month architectural contract, 3 days a week, school hours, with Hobart City Council (stayed for 18 months).  In June 2011 I opted out of full time work (5 days a week) with Hobart City Council, to follow something…I was not sure what…but something deeper. 

GM: How does your faith influence your everyday decisions in the workplace?

It is interesting.  Whilst I did not prance around work holding up my rosary beads and calling for repentance, people would always treat me with a quiet respect.  They would move uncouth conversation away from me citing, ‘Amanda is not the kind of person who would enjoy this conversation’, or ask me questions regarding differences that were happening, ‘Amanda usually knows these things…’  The printing room became my unofficial counselling room. I think it was important for me follow the virtues.  Confrontations are difficult for me and of course on a building site there are many of these.  Calling on the Lord’s help was a second nature (I took refuge in the fact that ‘if your brother does not answer when you knock, persistence will make him’, hopefully our Lord would hear yet another cry for wisdom).  I would take time with decision making so I could weigh up the actual issues and resolutions.  Design was often accompanied by the rosary on my head phones, it allowed a peaceful place to start and thought outside of the somewhat extravagant designs requested.  I was supportive of my boss and made it a point to only speak positively of him.  Coming to him from a position in my own mind of always speaking well of him, I found I did not carry that anger or frustration into the conversations that colleagues did, which made for a better chats. 

GM: How do you gauge the impact that working has on your family or personal life? Do you take any steps to minimize negative results? What are the positive results?

Initially working was great.  The extra money was helpful to cover bills.  I was happy – I was using my ‘grey matter’ and positive feedback grew my self confidence.  It wasn’t long before I found things getting a little stressful and most of it hinged around me not sleeping too well.  I would fit paid work in during the day and ‘housework’ in during the evening…not a good combo.  My health suffered which in turn meant the family struggled.  I felt conflicted, all women work, don’t they? I mean this is the very first question you are asked…’where do you work?’ almost like we are defined by our job.  Other families are coping, what’s wrong with me? 
The answer was my selfishness!

I had a vision of my children growing up as good stewards of God’s creation, yet they were passionless.  They were not on board with the programme of ‘working’.  For me the only choice was to leave work and sort out my family.    

GM: Do you have a favourite scripture verse regarding work?

Ironically yes – “And Mary kept all these things in her heart”
Often there are days you go to work and you feel less than happy to be there for a number of reasons pressures from home, relatives or friends.  It is not the time or place to complain about what is happening at work.  These things must be kept in your heart from where constant prayer is offered up for those intentions.


GM: John Paul II said that ‘labour enters into the work of salvation’ – how does that apply to you?

To walk in to work with a smile and positive calmness is a witness in itself to God.  I believe when people see how you deal with hardships and trials in your life, that they come to question and express ‘I want what they have…’.  We cannot bring people to God as it were until we first befriend them.  To befriend does not mean to agree with all they do.  Having a strong quiet presence allows what you do speak to have more impact.  I am a believer in praying for those in charge (managers, team leaders, the board, teachers etc) – that is bringing salvation.  A person can be a wonderful witness to the goodness of our Lord if they live their virtues in the workplace.  The degree to which this is difficult can become a prayer in itself.

GM: What do you believe to be the human value of your work?

My father had many sayings he would constantly repeat to us.  By far his most ‘famous’, aside from ‘…this corner is reeeally dangerous so you have to slow right down…’ was ‘DO SOMETHING YOU HATE:  IT BUILDS CHARACTER’.  This is what I see work as being.  A character building journey.  It won’t all be roses but through the fire the phoenix will arise, the iron must be melted in a furnace before it can be moulded.     

GM: What makes you aware that your work has significance in God the Father’s eyes?

Feedback was not a common occurrence.  Usually a good job was met with silence, and not so good job was met with a question, ‘why did this happen?’.  The lack of feedback in a gratitude driven society was noticeable.  In the end, that’s what I was grateful for.  It meant I stayed focussed on what God thought of the work I did.  On my walk home in the afternoon I would think back on the day recounting positives and where I needed to try harder.  I believe in relationships, in the interactions we have with others as being positive, in understanding my colleagues.  I knew in my heart that my work interactions were the significant part of working, the conversations where I could questions peoples views and provide support for those facing hardships were important. Making people matter by hearing their story was important.  Faith and good works are the key to entering Heaven, good works to be done can be found everywhere, including in places of employment this is what makes work significant in God’s eyes.    

GM: How does your relationship with Jesus Christ affect your work?

I believe that Jesus opens doors for us to make a difference. He can turn not so good days around into praises for Him.  The number of times I have asked God for help in certain situations, the number of times I ‘did what Jesus would do’ and sought advice from His example is countless.  My relationship with Jesus is at the heart of all I try to do.  It means that I can focus on doing a good job for His glory.  It means ‘problems’ are challenges that I know He believes I can overcome.  It gives me freedom to be me, knowing He has my back. 

GM: Are you aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit as you work?

When I am working outside of my confidence level, I am fully aware of the presence of the Holy Spirit pulsing through me, giving me direction and ability to do what is required.  For this I am very grateful.  The Holy Spirit gives me wings to soar about my abilities and transcend the dissolution that dwelling on my lack of skill to complete tasks so often rears.  He is the quiet whisper that assures me, in the end, no matter how I worry, God’s will, will be done.  I just have to let go.

GM: What advice would you give to mothers considering entering the workforce?

This is a tough question.  One part of me wants to say “do you really need to?” All mothers have different reasons for entering work.  Ensure ‘work’ is not going to be all consuming and that you can remain family focussed.  At the end of the day that is your Vocation – to be a Mum. This MUST come first.  After all, monkey see, monkey do.  The children will grow up to be as we treat them (if we are never home, they will not learn the importance of family.  We can teach them through catechism but where is the example?).  Never underestimate your role as a Mum – it is the backbone of society, the foundation of the next generation, the corner stone for all that is to come…

Home Essentials – Stewardship

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I’m part way through a helpful finance workshop courtesy of Christian Personal Finance, ( I came across this site when looking for a free downloadable budget planner, as mentioned previously.

Well, the site is really interesting, and I signed up for a 20 day finances ‘makeover’; one lesson comes each day via email. So far, the lessons have been very straightforward, and most have been relevant to my household. (Except for advice about refinancing a home-loan – we are renting at the moment and don’t have a mortgage to consider.)

Apart from the workshop, there are numerous free budgeting tools, templates, reviews and articles – there is even a self-employed, homeschooling mother among the contributors. And I really appreciate the the Scriptural perspective of the writers.

Our circumstances recently changed, and my housekeeping money has decreased, but I’ve been amazed at how easy it has been to adapt. This must be due, in part, to the finance workshop, and also to my changing relationship to money, which has come as a result of planning a home-business.

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The following Scripture reference was posted on the CPF website in an article about adult children returning to the parental home, but it was relevant for me today as I made time to help with my little grandson:

Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. – 1 Timothy 5:8 (NIV)

They are rather strong words, and a good reminder that charity does begin at home, and that we are also called to be good stewards of our time.

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