Homemade Beeswax Candles

There is a hush in the air every time we strike a match.  When the little flame appears,  the mood shifts and tiny bodies start to quiet down. Our school day always begins with a candle and a prayer.  Our evenings often end with a candle and a prayer.  When there is a flame, my people know it is time to settle in and soak up the important message.  

Unfortunately candles often come with a price.  Synthetic fragrances cause hormone disruption and lead to respiratory issues.  Wicks are often filled with lead and other carcinogens. 

Homemade beeswax candles offer light and ambiance without additives.  Beeswax has a subtle honey scent that is pleasant for any room in the house.  Adding spices can shift the aroma and add a pop of color.

5 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
5 tsp ground cloves (optional)
Hot glue gun/glue
Double boiler or glass jar for melting

Use the hot glue gun to glue the wicks to the bottom of the jars.  (A popsicle stick or plastic spoon can be helpful to move it into place).

Melt the beeswax in your double boiler on the stove or in a large glass jar in the microwave.  (Beeswax is very hard to remove, so use a glass jar you aren't attached to).  If microwaving, microwave for one minute at a time and take out to stir with a popsicle stick.  Repeat until beeswax is a liquid.

Once the beeswax is liquid, stir in the coconut oil and spices if you plan to use them.  Lay down parchment paper or newspaper over your workspace.  I got beeswax on my countertop and it is very difficult to remove! Place the jars on top of the parchment paper.

Pour the liquid beeswax mixture into the jars.  Immediately after pouring, wipe down your double boiler/glass jar with a paper towel to remove the remaining beeswax.  If it hardens before you can remove it, reheat your container until the beeswax becomes liquid again and immediately wipe it out.  Once it hardens, it is very difficult to clean.

Position the wicks in the candles so they will harden in the middle. Allow the wax to cool completely before you move the jars.  Trim the wicks to your desired height.  

The fist time you light your candle, plan to keep it lit for at least 2-3 hours so the entire surface can melt to prevent tunneling.

A fun alternative is to roll beeswax sheets to make taper candles!  My kiddos loved doing this!  We used these kits and we have this taper candle holder in the middle of our kitchen table.

Have you made homemade beeswax candles?  Do you have any tips or tricks?

Lectio Divina

I was sitting in my apartment when my phone rang. I looked down and my heart started to flutter when I saw Ryan's name flash across the screen. We were in the very early stages of dating and it was common for us to go several days without speaking to one another. His phone call completely took me by surprise.

When I answered, he didn't waste any time.  Right after I picked up the phone he blurted, "I need to pray, and I've never done it before.  I need you to teach me how."  

I responded, "Uh... ok.  Can you meet me at my apartment in 45 minutes?" 

He said that he'd be on his way.  

I had so many questions.  

Why did he call ME?  We barely knew each other.

How was I going to teach a grown man how to pray?

Did I even know how to explain prayer?  It's so personal!

When Ryan showed up, I handed him a Bible and shared this quote from St. Ambrose with him.  "We speak to God when we pray; We listen to Him when we read the Scriptures."

I briefly explained the steps of Lectio Divina which is a practice that is near and dear to my heart and we took a walk to the Adoration chapel in my neighborhood.  

I watched him as he cracked the Bible open, fervently took notes, flipped to another page, and took more notes.  I prayed that the Holy Spirit would reveal himself to Ryan in a special way. When we stepped out of the chapel, Ryan stopped me and said, "What WAS that?"  

I was confused and asked, "What do you mean?"

He touched his chest and said, "My heart is racing and feels like it is going to beat out of my chest."

I chuckled and said, "It looks like the Holy Spirit showed up."

That first encounter with the Holy Spirit changed Ryan's life.  He had no idea that there was a God behind the scenes patiently waiting for him to come.  Lectio Divina became a regular part of our time spent together and now that we are married it is a practice we've passed on to our children.  

What is Lectio Divina?
Lectio Divina is Latin for "Divine Reading."  It's simply a way to read Scripture slowly in an open-ended way.  Instead of sitting down and reading the Bible as a textbook with the intent of gleaning information, Lectio Divina is a way of selecting a small passage where a word or phrase draws our attention to the Holy Spirit and how He is communicating with us. 

When we follow the steps of Lectio Divina we are not using a study guide or Biblical commentary to lead us.  We linger over a word or phrase instead of covering a large amount of content in a short amount of time and this helps us to fine tune our ears to the Holy Spirit. It's a deeply personal and fruitful practice. 

1. Prayer to the Holy Spirit
We begin our prayer time with a short prayer to the Holy Spirit asking for the grace to be receptive to the Word of God.

2.  Read
We like to read each passage twice.  Once to gain an understanding of what the text is trying to say and a second time to search for personal meaning.  We read the passages slowly, savoring each word and paying attention to words or phrases that jump out at us. 

3.  Observe
We sit with the passage and let it sink in.  We ask ourselves why the Holy Spirit wrote this for us through the pen of the author.  How do these words or phrases apply to our lives right now?  Do they have significance for specific relationships or habits?  How is the Holy Spirit inspiring or encouraging us through this passage?

4.  Pray
We respond to God about our observations.  We tell Him what comforts us and what challenges us about the words meant for us.  We verbalize what we think God is trying to say to us through the Scripture and we ask Him to confirm or deny those thoughts.  We ask for His strength to help us with our convictions and we praise Him for His love and steadfastness. We decide if there is an action step to take that day after our prayer time is over.

5.  Rest in God's Presence
We stop talking.  We use this time of contemplation to allow the Holy Spirit to speak to us.  We are often overwhelmed by the patience, mercy, and compassion we feel. There is often a temptation to rush this step because we want to jump right into action after figuring out what we are called to do.  But resting in God's love during this time of contemplation is what gives us the strength to face our battles.  We sit and allow ourselves to be loved and then we thank God for speaking to us in such an intimate way.

Although Lectio Divina sounds like a formal process, it's what the heart naturally does when we encounter Christ on the pages of our Bibles. 

We like to select our passages from the Daily Mass Readings because they are always relevant, but it is also powerful to select a Psalm, a random Gospel passage, or the readings in this book.

Which Scripture passage has been speaking to your heart lately?

The Five Priorities

A few months ago I was in a rough spot.  I had spent the day snapping at my kids and when my husband came home from work I spent the evening unloading all of my complaints on him.  I was completely stressed out and nothing was coming together.  He patiently listened to my long list of troubles and then gently said, "It sounds like your Ps are out of order."  

I took a step back.  

How could I not see it?  

I had been raving about The Five Ps from A Mother's Rule of Life to all of my friends for the last few years but somehow I had let mine get out of order.  

I had first heard about A Mother's Rule of Life by Holly Pierlot when I had three kids ages 3 and under. She wrote the book because she felt like she had three full time jobs: her mothering, her housework, and homeschooling.  

Her daily duties were consuming her time and she felt like she didn't have any time for herself or to pray.  

Pierlot said, "One evening I realized that I had to apply myself to my vocation - that it was a calling from God, a job, and that he wanted me to devote my attention to this job to the best of my abilities with the same attention and care and solicitude that a CEO ran a company."
Holly Pierlot decided to adopt a Rule of Life based on the Five Ps (or priorities) of the married vocation. Her book outlines exactly how to do this, but I'll keep my own summary short and sweet.  

There are five priorities of a married woman that will bring balance to a chaotic life if they are followed in the correct order.

What are the Five Ps?
1. Prayer
2. Person (Self)
3. Partner
4. Parent
5. Provider

If I place more emphasiss on my relationship with my children than my relationship with my husband, my marriage becomes tense.  

If I attempt to take on my role as provider without first taking care of myself, I am depleted and have no energy to take care of my family or my home.  

If I attempt to start my day without prayer and guidance, I am flying by the seat of my pants and get frustrated when there isn't a clear sense of where I'm going.

There will be instances when a child is sick and that becomes my number one priority.  This is an exception and it resolves itself quickly.  It's when the priorities get out of balance for an extended period of time that life becomes stressful and difficult to manage. 

Let's dive a little deeper into each priority.

1.  Prayer
As a mother, my top priority should be my spiritual growth.  When I jump out of bed in the morning and dive into the day according to my own agenda it is easy to become frustrated.  But if I begin my day communicating with God, He allows me to see areas where I need growth and He gives me grace to tackle the challenging things that come my way.  

I can't expect to form the souls in my care if I'm not practicing the virtues myself.  

2. Person
Bumping this priority up to the number 2 spot was a game changer for me.  I spent the first three years of motherhood putting myself last.  I was a little confused about the giving of self in the vocation of motherhood and thought it meant to devote all of my time and energy to my family. 

I was burned out.  

 I eventually came to the humble realization that if I didn't take care of the physical needs of my body and the spiritual needs of my soul, I wasn't taking care of anyone well.  I was exhausted, addicted to caffeine, and was walking around with brain fog.  No one had my real attention or affection.  

Taking care of yourself looks different for everyone.  It includes everything from eating to sleeping.  

For me, I have to take care of my physical body and stimulate my mind every day.  

Sugar gives me anxiety and causes me to be short tempered.  When I eat well, I can think clearly and have enough energy to keep up with my little boys until bedtime.  Exercise gives me energy and a clear head.  

I set aside 30 minutes every day to read something new.  Reading has always been my happy place.  It keeps my mind stimulated and fills my cup.  

Taking care of myself also includes self-awareness and emotional healing.  I can't be vulnerable and truly intimate with family and friends if I have protective walls set up so I am working on digging deep and seeking healing.  

3. Partner
Little kids are exhausting.  Throw in some postpartum hormones and the best way I can explain some days is that I just felt like a walking blob in those early years of motherhood.  When I read about the Five Ps I felt really convicted about where my husband was on my priority list at the time.  

Pierlot says, "God had given me a job to do, as a wife.  Love was something I was supposed to concern myself with giving, not receiving; giving to my husband the gift of myself; the gift of my time, my support, my presence, my entire PERSON."  
I love Ryan.  

I loved him first.  

It is because of our love for each other that we have our children. When I started implementing the Five Ps I was so emotionally exhausted that I wasn't giving my husband the full attention that he deserved. When I changed things around and put my spiritual and physical needs first, my marriage started to flourish!  

We like to have 2-3 date nights at home a week.  We aren't fancy.  We make a bowl of popcorn and sit on the couch and talk.  It's a genuine check-in of how we are doing individually and we can gauge how to help each other throughout the week. 

4.  Parent
Even though a good part of my day is spent parenting, being a parent is my fourth priority.  If my prayer isn't in order, my person isn't in order.  If my person isn't in order, my marriage won't be in order.  If my marriage isn't in order, I certainly won't be able to parent well.  

I am constantly evaluating to see how available I am to my children.  Do they have my full attention when they need it?  Am I meeting their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs?  Am I loving them in the way they need to feel loved?

I loved this quote from Holly Pierlot, "This mission meant that I was called to raise my children actively, not merely to watch them like a nanny.  Who else was going to teach them all they needed to know in this life? Who else was going to lead them to God if Philip and I didn't do it?  Together with my husband, I was the formative influence in my children's lives.  I was the one who was called to mold and form them and prepare them for this world and the next.  I was the primary educator of my children.  This was a privelage I would never again undervalue."

5. Provider
When I tell people that this is the last priority, I'm often met with a raised eyebrow.  Being a provider includes going to work, budgeting, taking care of the home, grocery shopping, scheduling appointments, and doing ALL of the things that take up most of our time throughout the day.  

But being a provider shouldn't take so much of our mental capacity that we have nothing left to give to our families.  

I sit with this priority often and set attainable goals.  I want my home to be a place where peace and love abide.  I want my business to flourish with empowered women.  I want to create systems and organizational tools for my family so we can spend more quality time together and less time tidying.

Even though a good part of my day is filled with scheduling, meal planning, cleaning, and answering emails, I can't let my to-do list be the thief of my joy.  So I don't.

When my Ps are in order, my life is in order.  

Holy Week at Home

In a strange turn of events, we find ourselves celebrating the most sacred week of our Liturgical year at home.  And if I'm being honest, this whole quarantine thing has me surviving instead of thriving.  In a different season of life I'd be enthusiastically looking online for resources to make our Holy Week come alive at home, but I am exhausted and feel like I barely have enough energy to get our meals made and laundry done.  

I've compiled a small list of things we plan to incorporate throughout Holy Week in our home.  I only included things that are print and go.  I don't have the mental capacity to prep anything with small pieces ahead of time.  If the Internet is loud and it's overwhelming to search, here is a simple list of activities to try with your kiddos.

Printable Palms.  We won't be able to gather as a community on Palm Sunday.  I wanted my kiddos to still have the opportunity to make palm crosses after we attend our virtual Mass so I printed these and we will spend some time folding them together.  

Holy Week Schedule.  Katie at Look to Him and be Radiant has put together an amazing list of videos, coloring sheets, Scripture passages, and snack ideas for every day of Holy Week.  It's a simple click and go resource!  

The Catholic All Year Compendium: Liturgical Living for Real Life by Kendra Tierney is my go-to book for Liturgical Living.  We used this last year during Holy Week and the simple activities she suggests to do are SO meaningful that my kiddos really grasped the concepts right away. Kendra explains why we do what we do as Catholics, and she gives suggestions for Liturgical living that are easy to implement even for the busiest mom.  You can be fancy and prepare a meal that is fitting for the feast day, or you can just read what she has written and discuss with your family.  It can be as simple or as extravagant as you'd like it to be, but this is a must-have for every Catholic mom.  We didn't do any printables last year.  All of our Holy Week activities were from this book. 

Catholic Sprouts is a daily podcast for kids.  Every episode includes discussion questions that have encouraged us to dive a little deeper into the topics.  The series next week will be about Holy Week, but you can also use the search feature and access episodes from last year!

Catholic Family Crate has a cute printable Holy Week Guide with coloring pages, a recipe for Resurrection cookies, and prayers to pray together as a family.

Share your favorite resources for Holy Week at Home in the comments!

Go to Joseph and do Whatever He Tells You

It's a time of sorrow and uncertainty right now.  The biggest sting is the inability to receive our Lord in the Eucharist at public Masses.  The Bread of Life that sustains us is such a gift that we must not take for granted.  When hearts are heavy it’s hard to see the light.  But today is a day of celebrating St. Joseph who was one of the strongest men who ever lived.

 It is because of St. Joseph’s protection of his family and obedience to the Holy Spirit that we are able to receive the Bread of Life today and this is something that is worth celebrating.

In the book of Genesis, the sons of Israel sold their brother Joseph into slavery.  Joseph was brought to Egypt and was adopted by Pharaoh.  He was given great authority and was put in charge of all of the granaries in Egypt.  At this point in history, Egypt was considered the bread basket of the world.  Joseph used his gift of discernment to store up the grain in Egypt.  When a famine broke out, Pharaoh instructed everyone in Egypt: “Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you!”  (Genesis 41:55)

 Because of the Old Testament Joseph, many lives were saved from famine and death.  His story is incredible but God’s story gets better.  The Joseph of Genesis was a prefirgurement for the Joseph of the New Testament.

 In the New Testament story, St. Joseph brings his Son (the Bread from Heaven) to safety in Egypt.  God sent St. Joseph to Egypt so that out of Egypt he could bring the Bread of Life to the world.

The first Joseph was able to bring bread that provided physical nourishment in the time of a famine to his small geographical region.

The second Joseph was able to bring out the Heavenly Bread that satisfies our souls.

If you look up the Litany of Joseph, you will see that Joseph is the one we run to in times of affliction.  In fact, the name Joseph means to increase.  He was chosen by God to love his wife fiercely and to protect the son who was entrusted to his care.

And he wants nothing more than to protect us under his arm and draw us closer to his Son.  


If the Lord has placed the desire for marriage on your heart, but you haven’t found him yet, go to Joseph.

If your husband isn’t stepping up to lead your family, go to Joseph.

If your job is wearing down your body and spirit, go to Joseph.

If someone in your family is plagued with demons, go to Joseph.

If you are dealing with a strained friendship and you are feeling torn, go to Joseph.

If someone in your family is dealing with illness, go to Joseph.

If someone in your family is dying, go to Joseph.

If your church is hurting, go to Joseph.

It’s not enough to just go to Him. We are people of action.

“Go to Joseph and do whatever he tells you!”  (Genesis 41:55)

This book has changed my life.  St. Joseph wants nothing more than to bring us closer to his family.  My husband and I read it together during the month of March in preparation for St. Joseph's Feast Day and we plan to read it every year.  
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