The Ultimate Goal of Fatherhood

This weekend, Craig and I attended a retreat for the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit in the Family apostolate we recently joined after moving to Lincoln.  The retreat was designed to help us discern our charisms to share with our families.  Friday night was spent learning about the role and mission of the family.  Saturday morning we went to mass, had brunch together as a group, and prayed the rosaries individually as families in the evening.  Sunday afternoon was spent in Adoration with a prayer team present.

Logan Burda helped lead our retreat.  He spoke Friday night and was on the prayer team Sunday afternoon.  One takeaway I had from the retreat was from some of his research and education regarding fatherhood with us.  He had a paragraph that he shared with us regarding the family and fathers that was very thought provoking:

“In the Church’s Magisterial Documents, the family is called: the domestic church, the church in miniature, the church of the home, and the believing and evangelizing community.  St. John Paul II said that “the future of humanity passes by way of the family”.  Pope Benedict XVI further stated that “the New Evangelization depends largely on the domestic church”.  Dads cannot neglect their role as the priest of their own family. By virtue of their baptismal priesthood, fathers are called to lead their family in modeling, instructing, and forming their children in the faith. When dads neglect being the spiritual leader of the family, studies consistently show nosedives in the percentages of children who retain the faith in adulthood.  Jesus’ mission for every Catholic is to make disciples who understand God’s plan from the beginning to be fruitful and multiply His image in the world.  For a father, this means his ultimate goal is not only to get his children to  heaven but to form them in such a way that they are equipped to get their children to heaven as well as their children to heaven, etc.”

I always knew the importance of fathers and have had a great respect and appreciation for them.  I know their importance over their children’s lives.  This weekend, God made it even more evident in my heart their role and mission.  As parents our goal is to get our children to heaven.  But even more so, our goal is make disciples of our children.  I know it is my role as his wife and the mother of our children to  help support and pray for Craig to carry out this mission.

Logan was talking about how at parishes, a lot of women will pray for their priest/s.  This made me think about how I can do this for Craig, specifically for his fatherhood for our family.  I pray for Craig as a dad daily, but I am going to begin praying for his fatherhood for our family more intentionally.

Lord, thank you for the gift of Craig.  Thank you for calling me to be his wife and to be the father of our children.  I beg you to reveal to Him your love for him as your son and that he may always find his identify as a son of God.  I ask you to teach him what it means to be a dad.  Help him to model, instruct, and form Henry and our baby in the faith so they may come to know you personally and may come to know your unconditional love and mercy for them.  Help Craig to lead and guide our family to You.  Open his heart to receive your gifts and charisms to help him be the dad and the man you are calling him to be. Form and mold Craig’s heart to be like our Heavenly Father’s heart.  May Craig be a prayerful, virtuous, merciful, faithful, and loving father who strives to imitate our Heavenly Father.  May be lead and disciple our children so they may disciple their children for generations to come.  Amen.

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Summer fun

Whew! Where did the summer go?!  It has been a full, fun, and blessed summer for us at the Pytleski home.  It was busy still transitioning to being in a new home and in a new city.  Craig spent lots of evenings and weekends painting, organizing the garage, and cleaning up the yard.  We spent some time getting ready for Baby P’s arrival.  We got to spend some time with friends and building community here in Lincoln.  It has all been so wonderful.  Since I didn’t update the blog regularly this summer, here are some fun summer things we did that were caught in photo.

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Henry ate his first ice cream cone this summer.  Here is his first one, followed by several more — usually from Runza.  He loves ice cream.

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Henry had lots of fun with his toys this summer.  Henry got a sit-and-spin from one of my coworkers.  He is starting to spin himself on it.

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We were able to go to the Children’s Museum a few times this summer.  We had to get a picture with the Union Bank pretend play area since Dad works there.

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More fun at the museum with Pops, Grammy, and Aunt Ellie.

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Here we are at the Sunken Gardens.

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Craig and Henry on Father’s Day.

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Henry liked going to the zoo this summer.  He loved seeing all the animals.

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I love these pictures of Craig and Henry.  We got Henry a t-ball set this summer.  He loves playing with it.  This was the first night we played with it.  Craig loved teaching Henry how to play.  He said this is what dads dream of doing with their sons.  It was so sweet.  Now Henry is hitting the ball all by himself.  We also got him a golf set, which he mostly plays with in the basement.  He says “Yay!” every time he hits the ball.  I think Craig feels the same way about teaching Henry to golf as he does baseball.

Dear Baby P

We are anxiously anticipating your arrival.  Your due date is in 4 days.  Daddy thought you were going to come today.  I said I think you’ll come on Monday.  If you follow your big brother’s footsteps, you’ll come a few days after your due date.  As we wait excitedly to meet you, we are praying for you, I am feeling and loving your every move, kick, and hiccup, and we are loving you.

Henry has started to say ‘baby’.  He points to you in my tummy and to all our baby stuff in the house and says ‘baby’.  He kisses and hugs you in my tummy.  You are going to love your big brother.  He is excited to meet you.  Dad asks Henry to try to same the names we are thinking of for you.  Henry always tries to say them back to us.

I have been praying for you every day.  Dad and I prayed for you before you were in my womb.  We have prayed for you every day since we knew we were pregnant with you.  You are a gift to us from God.  I thank Him every day for your life.  I pray for a safe and healthy delivery.  I pray for your heart, mind, soul, and body.  I pray for your vocation.  I pray you may come to know Jesus, to love Him, and to serve Him.  I pray you will be a man of God, a man who strives to imitate Him, and a man who strives to be in relationship with Him.  I pray you will be a man of character and of virtue.

I will always try my best to be the very best mom I can be to you and for you.  My heart is already full of so much love for you, and I know it’ll only grow each and every day.  You are so loved already.  I love you, and I will see you soon.

 

Goodbye Fairview

On this feast day of the Ascension of our Lord, I reflect on Christ’s time with his disciples.  He left them on earth on this day to ascend into heaven.  He wasn’t with them physically, but He was still with them.  He is still with us.  He is still with me.  He lets me know that He is with me every step of the way and that He will always love me.

I can’t help but think of God’s providence in having my last day at Fairview be on this feast of the Ascension.  I didn’t really think about it until I was at Mass this morning.  I have been working at Fairview for 5 years.  It has been my first ‘professional’ job as a speech-language pathologist.  It has been a place where I have grown and learned my profession, as well as in my confidence, humility, perseverance, and dependence on God.

I have been very blessed to work at Fairview.  I have worked with some wonderful students and families, and some amazing co-workers who I can now call friends.  I am truly humbled to work with some of these educators.  I have learned so much from them on how they treat others, how they deal with behaviors, how they share their love for teaching not only the curriculum but life lessons.

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Today I am leaving Fairview.  This is the last of mine and Craig’s ‘life’ here in Omaha.  God is closing the door to our life in Omaha.  He is opening several other doors to our life in Lincoln.  I can only imagine how Jesus’ disciples felt when He ascended into heaven.  I feel as though they had to have been a little fearful or wondering what was next.  Maybe I am just trying to relate and think that they feel as though I feel.  Jesus gave this joy to his disciples when He ascended, though.  He gave them hope.  And then He gave them the Holy Spirit to truly strengthen them and fill them with gifts and fruits.  He promised them that He would be with them and that He loved them.  I know this is exactly what He is sharing with me today.  Jesus loves me.  Jesus will be with me every step I take.

Season Everything with Love

My Grandma Emanuel made the best cinnamon rolls.  I always looked forward to eating them whenever we went to visit her.  She also always made them on Easter.  Cinnamon rolls were one of her many staples.

My Grandma was always cooking.  She raised 10 kids on a farm so I imagine she spent quite a bit of her time doing this.  One Christmas, my Mom and Aunt Linda put together a cookbook of some of her recipes, as well as some family recipes, and gave a copy of the cookbook to all of my cousins.  It is a neat keepsake in remembrance of her that I use frequently.  I even find myself wondering, “I wonder if Grandma had a recipe for that.”  I will flip through the cookbook to see if one is in there.  I just made her banana bread the other week.

My Grandma’s cookbook was titled ‘Season Everything with Love’.  I know that is why all her food always tasted so delicious was because she put love into it.  I think if cooking for my husband, my children, and/or our guests is done with the intention of love, it truly is a gift to them and an act of service for not only them, but for God.  A [simple] daily task is elevated to the supernatural.

My Grandma passed along her cooking skills to my Mom.  I go to my Mom a lot for different recipes.  I think I am going to start posting some every once in awhile so that I will always have them.  I love family recipes and the story or memory associated with the recipes.

Jennifer and I have been trying to perfect my Grandma’s cinnamon rolls.  Her recipe is not exact so we have had to figure some things out.  Jennifer mostly figured it out, and she shared it with me.  Mine never turn out quite like my Grandma’s, but hopefully someday, they’ll be close.  I still love making them, nonetheless, and thinking of her when I do.

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Our Lady of Fatima

We celebrated Our Lady of Fatima’s feast day on May 13th.  This was the 100 year anniversary of her apparition to Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco.  Craig, Henry, and I went to mass that morning.  After mass we got doughnuts to celebrate.  When we got home, we put some flowers by Our Lady of Fatima’s statue that we have of her to honor her.

During mass, Father Hall was talking about Our Lady of Fatima and the prophecies she made to Jacinta, Lucia, and Francisco.  One of them was about World War II, the second was about the communism in Russia, and the third was about the attack of the family and children.

After mass, Craig and I were discussing what a great patron Our Lady of Fatima would be for our family.  A few years ago, my previous spiritual director, Fr. Courtney, gave me a 3 ft. tall state of Our Lady of Fatima.  I didn’t have a special devotion to her at the time.  He was just generous and gave it to me.  Even looking back at our time in Omaha, Henry’s pediatrician’s office had pictures and explanations about Our Lady of Fatima all over.  I used to show Henry the pictures and read about Our Lady to him as we waited for the nurses and the doctor.  Our Lady of Fatima has been reaching out to us for quite some time.

Craig and I were talking about how this was not a coincidence that Fr. Courtney gave the statue to me.  Looking at God’s calling for our family, I think this was a gift from God and from Mary to our family.  We pray that Our Lady of Fatima will watch over our family and our children to keep us near to Christ and united with Christ always.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us.

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Mother’s Day

Craig and Henry made my Mother’s Day very special.  It was such a fun day filled with many blessings.

We went to mass and had brunch with Craig’ family that morning.  It was nice spending time with them that morning.  After they left, Craig said he and Henry were going to take me on an adventure.  Our adventure was to decorate our front porch.  We hadn’t done anything to it since we moved in so it was fun to be able to do together.

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We started off at Lowes and picked some flowers for our window boxes.  Then we went to Earl May to get some branches for a big pot by our front door.  Then we went to Target to get a pot, chairs, and doormat.  Then we headed home to start working on our porch.

While we planted the flowers and set everything up, Henry played with his water table that Craig put together that weekend.  He loved playing in the water.  I think he could’ve played in it all day.  It was so fun watching him play in it.  He did also help me plant some of the flowers.  He loved pouring the soil in the window boxes.  He loves to help.

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I love how our front porch looks now.  I am so glad Craig had this idea to take the time to set up our front porch.  A lot of our neighbors have chairs on their front porch, and it always looks so welcoming.  I think our home looks more welcoming now.  We aren’t quite finished, but we made some good progress with it.

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For supper, Craig made some steaks, and we made the white arugula lahvosh.  It was delicious and made for a very special meal.  After we ate, Craig surprised me with some cards from him and Henry, as well as a painting Henry made for me at daycare.

I am so blessed to have such a supportive husband who appreciates me being a Mom and who strives to help me be the best Mom I can be.  I am also so blessed to be a Mom — and not only to be a Mom, but to be Henry and Baby’s Mom.  I am so grateful that God has called me to bring life into the world with Craig, and that He has called me to love, nurture, protect, and form these little souls.

Lord, thank you for the gift of being a Mom.  Thank you for the gift of being a parent with Craig.  Thank you for the gift of Henry and Baby.  May I always remember that Henry and Baby are Your children first.  You have entrusted them to me and Craig to bring back to You.  Form my mind, heart, words, and actions to form Henry and Baby according to Your will for them.  May I always share your love and mercy with them so they may come to know You, Your love, and Your mercy.  Please bless me with your wisdom to share with them.  Please bless me with your guidance and strength to know when to step in and when to let go.  I pray that Henry and Baby will come to know you, personally, Jesus, and that they may come to love you and serve you.  Mary, my Mother, please teach me to be a mother.  You are the perfect Mother to Jesus.  Pray that I may grow in virtue so that I may strive to be like you.

Mother’s Day with my Mom

Jennifer had the brilliant idea to get my Mom a cooking class for Mother’s Day.  My Mom was out of town for Mother’s Day this year so it worked out well to have the cooking class a few days before Mother’s Day to celebrate her.

I had never taken a cooking class before, and I am so glad I did!  I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was so fun to learn some new tips and get some new ideas on ways to prepare different foods.  We took the class at Art and Soul.  We made three different types of lahvosh: Thai Chicken, White Arugula, and Margarita.  We learned how to make the lahvosh crust, how to prepare the toppings, and how to assemble the lahvosh.  They were all SO delicious.  I’m already planning on making the White Arugula soon.  After we all made the food, then we sat down to eat.

Even more so than enjoying the cooking tips and the food, I loved spending time with my Mom and Jennifer.  It was so fun to experience together and to enjoy time with each of them.  Craig and I always talk about how fun it is so share and give “experiences” as gifts to others, and I am so glad that we did this as a gift for my Mom.  I always feel like any time with my Mom and Jennifer is so special.  They teach me so much about how to treat others and to view everything with love, peace, and joy.  I am so grateful for them and the time spent with them.

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The Grad

After a year and a half of hard work, Craig graduated with his MBA from Wesleyan.  Yay!  I am so proud of him for setting this goal and accomplishing it.  He balanced our family life and school so well.  I know he not only did this for himself, but for our family.  He believed in himself and persevered through some challenges along the way.

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Craig’s last day of class in grad school!

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Prior to receiving his diploma and getting hooded.

A video of Craig getting hooded and receiving his diploma!

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The graduate!

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The graduate with the future graduate

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Craig’s office bought him this delicious cake as a congratulations!

Adoration

A couple weeks ago, on Holy Thursday, Bishop Conley wrote a pastoral letter on adoration of the Eucharist.  It was a beautiful letter and the perfect day to write it as we commemorated the Institution of the Eucharist.  Here is an excerpt from the letter that I especially loved:

“Fathers who pray with their children have children who grow up to pray. Children look to their fathers as models of discipleship, and are more likely to grow in loving relationship with God if they see their fathers as men of prayer. Fathers who take their children to adoration model humble discipleship to their families, and form them for lifelong discipleship.

Mothers who take time to visit the Blessed Sacrament in adoration are renewed for the daily challenge of their vocation. Motherhood requires patience, peace, and serenity which surpasses understanding. Christ, present in the Eucharist, is the source of love for mothers, who are asked to love ceaselessly, and without counting the cost.

Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament prepares families for mission. Parents have a responsibility to form their children to be merciful, charitable missionary disciples. All families have a sacred call to be a source of apostolic joy in the world, to witness to Christ, and to proclaim him together, with intentionality and enthusiasm. But God calls each family to a particular kind of work or apostolate, and each family must discern how they are uniquely called to bring the Gospel into the world. That discernment begins with families in prayer, in the presence of the Eucharist, asking the Lord to guide them in the mission of the Gospel, and asking him to equip them for mission.

Husbands and wives who kneel together in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, especially with their children, find their family love renewed by Christ’s love, so that they can pour their joy into the evangelization of the world, in the unique and important way God calls them.”

http://www.lincolndiocese.org/lovemadevisible

Last week, I was listening to the Go Forth Podcast.  During the episode I was listening to, the guests were discussing how they started 24 hour perpetual adoration at their parish.

On Sunday, Divine Mercy Sunday, Msgr. Barr spoke after Mass inviting everyone to sign up for the holy hour.

After these 3 instances in a little more than a week, Craig and I felt like maybe God was inviting us to do sign up for a holy hour for our family at our parish.  We got the sign-up and are praying about which day and what time would work best for our family to do this.  Discerning this has made me reflect a lot on my Dad.

Ever since I was little, and probably since they registered to be parishioners at Cathedral, my Dad has had a holy hour on Thursday nights at 10:00.  He has remained faithful to it.  I remember even when Christmas Eve or Christmas was on a Thursday, we would maybe have to leave early so he could be home on time to go to his holy hour.  Everything was scheduled around it.  His holy hour was the priority.  I think at times this truly had to have been a sacrifice — the time being late at night after working all day, not always being able to do things, etc.  Reflecting on this the past couple years, though, especially as I think about how I want to do this for my family, I think this has produced so much fruit for our family.  I can see God’s faithfulness back to our family because of my Dad’s faithfulness to Him.

I hope and pray Craig and I can carry this beautiful gift and tradition into our family — to teach our children how to pray and to experience and encounter Christ present and alive in the Eucharist.