Blog/CYM Blog Hope by Stephanie Allard “A married woman must, when called upon, quit her devotions to God at the altar to find him in her household affairs.” St. Frances of Rome I was elated bringing my first child home from the hospital. After a very trying labor, all the pain and fear had melted away by God’s gift of life to our family. Life felt perfect. Every sleepless moment, fussy freak out (mine or the babies) was, but a prayer answered. We had a child. Days after coming home, we finally settled enough to take showers (I even got to blow dry my hair) and give our baby his first bath. Bending down to rub his soft, perfect baby belly, as I prepared to dress him, I was caught up in scripture, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5) In awe of God’s majesty and perfection, I suddenly felt a strange sensation on my hair. Turning to see what it was, I quickly realized my son was in fact peeing in my hair….my newly washed and dried hair. Now that we have increased our brood to two, these moments of “life” have only increased. Yes, my life is full of poop (sometimes my nails too). Moments of quiet, prayer, and sanity are constantly being exchanged for screaming, messy, confusion. Trying to find God in these everyday moments has been an effort. To make life even more interesting, I am a full-time youth minster, often carting my two cherubs to the Church to prepare for the coming weekend. So where is the hope in young motherhood and full-time ministry? Parenthood and ministry are sacrificial love. When we’re ready to give into our frustrations and cannot see past the inconsolable, unreasonable toddler or when we want to have an intimate moment with our spouse, we have no choice but to look to the Cross. Christ’s love was sacrificial. He died to bring us life. He shows us that our vocation calls for the same from us. Die to your schedule, to getting out of the house on time, to appearing to have it together, to stylish kids, to being a Pinterest mom. Let go of your wants, your schedule, and your timetable. Be a sacrificial wife, mom and youth minister. Sacrificial love, in Mary’s fiat, her sweet trusting yes, a total giving into the will of the Father. Her faithful handing over of self, bringing with it peace and gentle trust in the Lord. This is the desire of every mother, the heart of every wife, the hope of a faith-filled youth minister. In the monastic life, the religious are called to study and provide hospitality. As parents, we need to study our children as we did at the moment of their birth. Draw your heart into their perfect features, God’s wonderfully revealing design. I see that my children often highlight my hidden faults and fears. If I study them, my children and my husband, I will see where Christ is calling me to conversion. A visual prayer answered. Then, with great trust and hospitality, I can let go of my selfish inclinations. I can see God calling me though my children’s trust, love and even more so through their fears. I can offer myself as the face of Christ, providing for them an image of love, a reflection of their Creator. We see, through their gaze, how much we are loved in Christ by their trusted creation, so we can better love them.