Motherhood Will Make Me a Saint

Brick House in the City posted a story on their social media accounts last week that rocked me. It told of how a young St. Therese would call out “Mama!” as she went down each step and would wait for her mother’s reply before going down another step. Each step she would call out, and each step her mother would call tenderly, “Yes, my child.” And so it went as she went down the stairs.

Shoot, guys, I would’ve lost it! Can you imagine the patience it would take to call out “Yes, my child” on Every. Single. Step.  I get so upset when Nora won’t go up a full set of stairs without any recognition. We’re going through a phase where she wants to be carried everywhere- especially up the stairs. So this particular story called directly to my heart. I try to convince my sweet toddler to come up the steps by herself with patience, kindness, and most of the time, I just carry her if she’s really insisting.  But, other times, I yell, or leave her crying because I have to set down the million other things I am carrying up the stairs (including her actually can’t go up the stairs by himself little brother).  In these moments, I know that God is doing His sanctifying work in me.

What Would St. Zelie Do?

I wonder if St. Zelie had this internal struggle with little Therese.  She knew it was best to be patient and encourage her little girl, but maybe sometimes she just wanted to yell “Therese, come on! Just come down the stairs already!” But her response with patience and love is probably part of the reason St. Zelie came to be recognized as a saint- she had the patience of a saint, as they say.  There are other stories of how little St. Therese tested her mother’s patience. I wonder if, really, having her little girl being as testing as she was led St. Zelie to her sanctity. If by offering up her tendencies to impatience or anger, she was able to grow closer to God.   I would bet you that her journey in motherhood made her a saint.

I want to be a saint like St. Zelie too. While this sounds a little high and mighty, a saint is really just someone who has gone to heaven, someone who is fully in the presence of God. We have “canonized” saints in the Catholic church- these are people who have obviously followed God in their time alive and then have had two miracles proven in their name (plus a bunch of other logistical steps). We have a lot of them- a lot of men and women, like St. Zelie, to look to as an example of what it means to follow Jesus.  But, there are (I hope!) so many more saints than the ones that we have canonized, and I hope to be a part of this community someday.  

Motherhood will Make Me a Saint

Motherhood Will Make Me A Saint

I think motherhood is proving to be my quickest path to get there. The day in and day out of toddler tantrums, dirty diapers, and night wakings are doing their work in me. (And we’re not even to the teenage years yet!)  I believe God is using these little moments with my kiddos to draw me closer to Him, though I don’t always see it that way. It’s in the moments we see the face of Jesus in our children that we are being sanctified.

“He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me'” Matthew 25:45

I fail at this often.  I don’t always (or ever!) respond with the sweet patience that St. Zelie responded with to her little Therese.  Instead, I get frustrated and yell. I complain to my husband. I stop being present with my kiddos. I don’t treat every little toddler or baby suffering as an act for God. Every little task of motherhood seems so menial and not worth it, everything is always undone.

But, sometimes, I do respond with patience. I give that extra hug and snuggle instead of yelling.  I swallow my complaints and smile through it.  Sometimes, I work a little harder to be more present. Sometimes I remember to “offer it up,” to see Jesus in the face of my children. I embrace the “littleness” of motherhood as my journey to heaven.

And in these moments, I feel God smiling, saying “I see you. You’re doing a great job. Keep it up!” You see, God doesn’t need us to be perfect.  He simply wants us to be love to those around us- especially to those little beings that he’s entrusted us with. He wants us to try our best every day. Even more importantly, He wants us to call on Him in prayer when we’re not doing so hot. 

Prayer in Motherhood

It’s ironic because I am both drawn away from prayer and to prayer as a mother.  I often feel like I don’t have any pockets of time in my day to give to God. Or I don’t have a moment of silence in my day. I feel like I can’t do more than five minutes, so why even start? Or, like a couple days ago, I close my eyes to pray and immediately fall asleep. 

But at the same time, Jesus is calling to my heart. He asks me to spend that time- as little or “unproductive” as it may be. He calms my heart and shows me the next steps. Even in those days where all I get out are a morning offering– He blesses my day. He gives me the patience that I need. And even better, when I’m not the mom that I want to be that day, He takes me into His loving arms and reassures me that tomorrow is another day. I get the chance to rest and reset. 

Motherhood Will Make Me a Saint

Motherhood Will Make Me a Saint

Motherhood is strengthening me in all of the different virtues, ones I knew I needed help in and others I thought I had covered. I was made to be a mother, and, yet, I am challenged every day. This motherhood thing is pushing me to rely on God so much more than I ever thought I would need to.  As I’ve been praying the St. Therese of Lisieux Novena the past week, this litany of words from it has been convicting me, especially when I apply it in terms of motherhood. I hope that they’ll call on your heart too.  Join me in the journey to being a saint- whether motherhood is making you a saint, or something else, we’re all called to the journey. Pray for me, as I’ll pray for you.

I love your people, Lord. Help me to love them more!

I reflect you to the world, Lord. Help me to reflect you more clearly!

I rely on you, Lord. Help me to rely on you more!

I accept your will, Lord. Help me to accept your will every day!

I try to forgive, Lord. Help me to forgive 70 times 7 times!

I am humble, Lord. Give me more humility!

I see you, Lord. Help me to see you more!

I trust you, Lord. Help me to trust you more!

I love you, Lord. Help me to love you more!

 

Read More From Simply Mama Bird:

Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World 

7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom

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7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom

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How many times do we hear “Mama, come play with me” or “Mama, look at this” and respond with “not right now, honey” or “after I do this”? I know I do it so many times every day.  I am always putting other activities in front of being present with my kiddos. Sometimes it’s things that have to be done, like changing a diaper or getting dinner on the table. But so often, it’s something that doesn’t need to be taking my attention.  Whether it’s scrolling through Facebook, doing the laundry, or whatever other thing is distracting me at the moment, it’s not nearly as important as being a more present mom to my kiddos. 

I’m blessed to be staying at home with my kids in this season of life, and so I spend a lot of time with them.  Even so, a lot of that time, I’m not being fully present with them. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s good to let children self entertain and learn how to play on their own. It’s good to take the time to clean up after a meal or send a text out to a friend. And it’s good to have time away, focusing on “mama” things. But our kids need us, they need our attention and our interest in the things they’re interested in. Even if it’s a quick moment of connection amidst a busy day, these moments of connection are what our children crave and thrive on.

7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom

I fail in little (and big) ways every day in this journey to being more present.  My goal is that when my kids look back, they will remember me as a mom who loved them with all her heart and gave them the attention they needed. Not as the “wait until I’m done with ____” mom that I so often am right now. The following ideas are some of the things I’ve been trying on my journey to being a more present mom. Some I try to do every day, others every once in awhile.  See if there are any that will help you, too, on your journey to being more present with your children.

1) Put the phone down

Our phones are so addicting- between starting up this blog, keeping up with social media, and reading whatever funny article some acquaintance from high school posted, I feel like I’m always on it. I’ve started to put limits on myself- I can only have it when the kids are sleeping or eating, I keep it on the kitchen counter, or I can do this one task but then it goes away.  Find what works for you to put the phone down and be present with those in front of you. It’s okay to indulge every once in awhile, but we don’t want our kids thinking we love our phone more than we love them. 

2) Do activities you enjoy

I am way better at being a more present mom with my kids when we are doing something that I enjoy doing.  I love reading to my kids, so I try to incorporate that somewhere every day. Puzzles and painting are also go to’s for me as Nora has gotten older.  When I’m excited about something she’s doing, she gets even more excited to share it with me. Experiment with different games, toys, and activities to see what you enjoy doing. Do more of that!

Read More: Fun Indoor Activities that Both You and Your Kids will Love

                 

3) Invest in yourself

I am such a better mom when my cup is full. That is, when I take time for myself away from the kids, when I have some bit of quiet in the day. By putting myself first sometimes and taking the time I need, I’m able to come back refreshed and ready to take on tantrums and messes with a little more patience and a lot more love.  Sometimes that’s as easy as taking a shower (with no kids in the bathroom!) and sometimes, I need my husband to watch the kids while I go to Starbucks or the library. Whether it’s taking time to pray or have quiet in the morning, getting a workout in during naptime, or just simply taking a nice shower, find that thing that fills your cup and take the time to invest in yourself.

Read More: Self Care for the Mom That Thinks She Doesn’t Need It 

4) Include kids in household chores

I get so distracted from my kids when the house is a mess. I’m either away cleaning it or thinking about all of the things I need to do when I’m trying to play with them. By incorporating them in tasks like cooking, laundry, or sweeping, I’m able to practice being a more present mom to my kids while also getting the things I need to get done done. Sometimes this means it takes a little bit longer to get a task done, but so often they enjoy being a part of the process. Invite your little ones to do your to do list with you- you might be surprised at what they’re able to do!   

5) Turn up the music

I’m learning that putting on some music and having a dance party (or as Nora is starting to call them- talent shows) is one of the best things to reset my brain and prompt my being more present.  There’s something about dancing with my kiddos that adds a little extra joy to my day. Nora is starting to sing along to different songs and Charlie is a dancing machine, so it’s been really fun to share these times together.  Whether it’s “mama” music, old classics, or Toddler Radio on Pandora (my go to), put on some music and see what happens.

6) Get out of the house

I am such a better mom when we leave the house. When we’re at home, I have the dishes and laundry beckoning me, my phone is in easy reach, and I get bored of playing the same old games. Enter outings! Whether it’s something simple like going to the grocery store, or a bigger outing like going to the zoo, I’m able to disconnect from all of the things waiting for me at home, and just be present with my kiddos. Find those places that bring you joy, and include them in your weekly routine. Or if you’re having a bad day, just take that spontaneous trip to the park! Sometimes all we need is a good reset and getting out of the house does just that, allowing you to be a more present mom.

7) Soak in the hugs and snuggles 

My kiddos are still little, so they still enjoy getting mama snuggles. Sometimes all that I need to do to make a little one happy is pull them into my lap and spend some time snuggling and talking or reading a book.  By having that loving physical contact, we’re able to say to our kids that they matter without having to say it at all. Plus snuggling is good for our children’s and our own well-being.  We release oxytocin when we cuddle, which leads to happy feelings and bonding. So take some time to snuggle with your little ones today, if only for a couple minutes.

7 Easy Ways to Start Being a More Present Mom Today

The cliche is so true- kids grow big so fast. I want to make sure my children feel loved during the time that I’m blessed to have them. By being a more present mom, I hope to be their person when they need to talk, to be the one they turn to when they need a hug or some extra snuggles, and to be who they call whenever they’re in trouble. I’m starting on this journey now, and I hope that you’ll come along with me.  Let me know what you do to be more present with your kids by leaving a comment below or by chatting with us on Facebook or Instagram

Keep Reading: I’m Saying No Less to my Toddler- What I’m Saying Instead

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Embracing Mary as the Model of Motherhood

Embracing Mary as the Model of Motherhood

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, May it be done to me according to your word (Luke 1:38)

These words were spoken by Mary after the angel Gabriel told her that she would soon be the mother of God.  I can’t even imagine being in that situation, much less reacting with the courage that Mary had. She had to have been scared, confused, and unsure. Her only question was how this could even happen, given she had no relations with a man. I would have had so many questions, I would have wanted so many more answers. But Mary was brave and sure in the Lord, and she responded with a resounding yes that allowed the world to be changed.  This yes and all that she did as a mother afterwards is why I look to Mary as the model of motherhood.

Mary inspires me so much. You see, Nora was our surprise honeymoon baby. She came at a time when we had so many other plans for our lives.  When that plus sign showed up, we were unsure and scared, but also filled with wonder and joy. God had a different, and bigger, plan for us than we did. Much like He had for Mary. Now, obviously, Nora is not Jesus, Son of God. My role as mother is not quite as daunting as the role Mary had to take on. Even so, it is overwhelming for me at times to think that God has given me these sweet kiddos to love on and raise up as well as I can. And so, I call on Mary often to help me through motherhood.  I look to her as one of my biggest role models, and I hope to follow her example as I figure out how to mother my own children.

Embracing Mary as the Model of Motherhood | I'm following Mary's fiat as our call to being Christian mothers. May we say yes to God in our motherhood. #ChristianMotherhood #MotherofGod #MaryQueenofPeace

It all starts with a Yes

“May it be done to me according to your word” is such a hard thought to swallow sometimes. I’m sure Mary had her own idea of what she wanted her life to look like- she was about to be married, to start off on her own journey of womanhood and being a wife. And when God presented this different path for her life’s journey, she swallowed any pride she had, any visions of what her life was to be, and just said “May it be done.” 

I often have my own visions of what my life is going to be.  Starting college, I thought I wanted to go into research and become a professor, but God led me a different direction. After college, I was going to go on to be a Physician’s Assistant, and God, again, led me a different direction.  Now, I have all of these ideas of how I’m going to raise my children, where we’re going to live, and how I’m going to live my life. But God tells me to calm down, all I have to do is follow God’s plan, one yes at a time. 

Parenting, and really life, is just a collection of brave yes’s to God. Some of them are really small, like waking up in the morning ready to take on another day with my kids. Others are much bigger, like having kids in the first place! A lot of times I don’t want to say yes to God- the yes looks really hard or scary.  I don’t have all of the details, I don’t know how it will all end up. But in these moments, I can look to Mary and see her bravery. I see that God wants our yes. Our yes to the big things that He is calling us to, our yes to being present to the people he’s put in our lives, our yes to Him. 

It’s okay to screw up sometimes

We don’t get a lot of stories from Jesus’ childhood in the Bible. In fact, one of the only stories we get is probably one of Mary’s worst moments.  When the Holy Family was traveling back from Jerusalem after the Passover, Mary and Joseph assumed that their twelve year old son was among their friends and relatives in the caravan. A day later, they realized Jesus was not with them, and they returned to Jerusalem to find him. Three days after that, they finally found him sitting in the temple among the teachers. Mary, as any mother would ask, said “‘Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been looking for you with great anxiety.'” (Luke 2:41-52)

I probably would not have been as calm as Mary was upon finding my child after missing him for four days. She listened to him, not understanding what he was saying, and then brought him back home, keeping “all of these things in her heart.”  She had to be so scared for that time- she was in charge of the Son of God, and she had lost him! While I don’t recommend losing your kid, I think it’s so reassuring to know that even Mary, the mother of God screwed up once- and did it big!

This story helps me see that I don’t have to be the perfect mom to be the best mother for my kids. I am the mother that God chose for my particular children. This brings me back to the quote “When God put a calling on your life, He already factored in your stupidity.” God knows that we’ll make mistakes, He knows that some of them might be really big. But just like Mary, we can go back, we can figuratively (or literally) find our children, and start on the journey again. 

Embracing Mary as the Model of Motherhood | I'm following Mary's fiat as our call to being Christian mothers. May we say yes to God in our motherhood. #ChristianMotherhood #MotherofGod #MaryQueenofPeace

Plant seeds for our children

Mary prompted the start of Jesus’ miracles and teachings at the Wedding at Cana. He said it was not yet his time, but Mary, as all good mothers do, knew better. She didn’t push him to do anything or tell him exactly what to do, she just told the servers to “Do whatever he tells you.” And then Jesus performed his first miracle of turning water into wine (John 2:1-11).  Without Mary being there and giving him that little push to do what He was called to do, who knows when Jesus would have started his ministries. It definitely could have been that same day, or it could have happened much later. As mothers, our job is to plant the seeds so that one day our children may bloom in their own journey.

As Nora is getting older, I understand the temptation to plan out every moment of my kids’ lives, to want to tell them how to do every last thing.  I’m sure Mary felt this same way, knowing that her son was to go on to do really big things. But, just like Mary, I believe it is good, instead, to prompt, to open doors, to plant seeds.  This is so important in these little years that I am currently in, and probably even more so as kiddos grow up into adolescents and then adults. In the baby/toddler years, I can open their doors to learning, to kindness, and to love. I can’t make them do anything, not even sleep or eat! But I can lead them on their little life missions, planting the seeds for when they grow.

Just Be There Through it All

Mary had to go through one of the absolute worst things a mother could go through, standing at the foot of the Cross, watching her own child be tortured and crucified.  We can guess that Mary was in and out with Jesus throughout much of his ministry.  We know that she was praying for him every step of the way. He loved her dearly, and took time to address her as he was dying, telling one of his disciples to take her into his house (John 19:26-27).  One of the most convicting religious art pieces that I have ever seen is the Pieta by Michelangelo. It is the image of Mary holding Jesus after he was taken down from the cross. She was truly there from His very beginning up until His ending.

Pieta
Image by Jacques Savoye from Pixabay

While I truly hope that I will never have to suffer through one of my child’s deaths, it is our role as mothers to be there through every moment, high and low, in our children’s lives. Our jobs are never done, we must be always supporting them and, at the very least, always praying for them. We must keep saying yes to them and to God in His plan for us as their parent.  Mistakes may happen along the way, we may stumble in our path as parents, but, just like Mary, we can turn it around and start again. We must plant seeds, and prompt our children in their callings. Our journey as mothers may have twists and turns along the way, and we may feel like we have no idea what we are doing. In these moments, we can turn to Mary as our model of motherhood, knowing that she paved the way and is praying for us every step of the way. 

Keep Reading: Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World

If you’re looking to get to know Mary a little bit better check out one of the following books! 

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Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World

Thursday was St. Teresa of Calcutta’s feast day.  I meant to get this out then, but I got busy due to changed plans and visiting family!  Everyone loves Mother Teresa, so I figured I’d still share how I’ve been inspired by her lately. St Teresa of Calcutta was, and really still is, such an example of giving unlimited love, doing everything you can in the world, and listening to God’s plan. However, looking at her life can also be a little overwhelming- she was such a brave, devout, and busy woman. She gave and gave and gave and did soooo many great things.  But yet, the lessons that she taught those around her really focused on how her actions were really just a collection of small doings.  She shared how we too can love as she did. We don’t all have to go to the slums of Calcutta or even the slums of our own cities to make the world a better place. She said, instead, that we need to start at home, performing one act of love at a time.

Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World | Doing small things with great love to make the world a better place is what St. Teresa of Calcutta shared through her words and actions. #MotherTeresa #LoveFirst #ChristianMotherhood #ChangetheWorldthroughlove

“Spread love everywhere you go; first of all in your house. Give love to your children, to your wife or husband, to a next door neighbor. Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.”

Sometimes I feel so overwhelmed with all of the ways that I could go out and help others. Our world can be a pretty dark and depressing place with so many people hurting, so many issues to fight on, and so much that could be done. It’s hard to keep up with the latest tragedy, to read the news right now without falling into despair or, worse, being so numb that we don’t feel anything anymore.  I’m someone who likes to be able to do something, and especially with two little people in tow right now, I feel like there’s just not much that I can legitimately go out and do. This has been really hard for me, and I often feel like I’m not doing my part to make the world a better place. 

But Mother Teresa had a different idea of how we can make the world a better place. She believed that we start with the people God put in front of us first. That means that I must start by loving my family, especially my kiddos and my husband, as best as I can.  In this, I am doing the work that God has called me to do. Mother Teresa often talked about the poverty of being uncared for, of feeling lonely and unloved. I’m sure we can all look around us and find at least one person in our life who is struggling with these feelings. By reaching out and doing what we can to make them feel loved and noticed, we are taking small steps in changing the world for the better.  Even this can seem hard at times, though, which brings us to another famous quote by Mama T.  

Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World | Doing small things with great love to make the world a better place is what St. Teresa of Calcutta shared through her words and actions. #MotherTeresa #LoveFirst #ChristianMotherhood #ChangetheWorldthroughlove

“I don’t do great things. I do small things with great love.”

I had this quote on my graduation cap- “do small things with great love” – and I try to live by it.  It truly is the small things that add up to the big things. Each small action I do in love for those around me adds to the culture of love in my life and in the lives of those around me.  In starting with my children, I’m able to build a foundation for them in which they know they are loved and can thrive. Each ouchie kissed, each book read, each extra snuggle adds up to the great love that they can flourish out of. The same goes for my husband. Every time I clean up dinner without complaining, recognize his needs before mine, or let him rant about his latest thing, I’m able to build up love in our marriage and in our home.  

The small things play out when we’re out and about too. I can choose to smile at the people in the grocery store aisles.  I can reach out and say hi to other moms at the library’s toddler time. I can look a homeless person in the eye when we pass them on the street. I can try to shop more ethically, buying items from places that treat their workers right. I can donate food or baby clothes or diapers or whatever else we have extra of.  There are so many small ways that we can make the lives of those around us better.  Just by recognizing the people in front of us using these small actions done with great love, we are able to make the world a better place.

Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World | Doing small things with great love to make the world a better place is what St. Teresa of Calcutta shared through her words and actions. #MotherTeresa #LoveFirst #ChristianMotherhood #ChangetheWorldthroughlove

“God doesn’t require us to succeed, he only requires that you try.”

This one is so so important. In attempting to be love to everyone around me, I burn myself out trying so hard to be the “perfect” parent, wife, neighbor, friend, daughter, etc. By taking baby steps and doing everything with love, Mother Teresa reminds me that it is really just the doing, the trying, that matters- I don’t need to do it all perfectly. At the same time, that doesn’t mean that we can become complacent because we “tried” and that’s what counts. It’s a new effort every day of loving the people God has put in front of us the best that we can. 

On my part, I am working on loving my children by being present with them and giving them my attention instead of getting sucked into things that don’t really matter.  Some days, I may yell and have no patience, some days they may hit their heads or get hurt too many times to count, and some days they may eat mac and cheese for every single meal. Yet, if I always come back and do my best to love them, that is truly what matters.  The same goes for my husband, other family members, friends, and even strangers.  Often, the “trying” is done in just being present with others, listening to them, and being the love that they need in their life.  We need to be open to whatever and whoever God is calling us to love and not be afraid to take the leap to love them even when it might feel a little uncomfortable or we don’t know if it’ll be received well.  We must try to do what we can to create change, even when we don’t know what the end result will be.

Mother Teresa on How Love Can Change the World | Doing small things with great love to make the world a better place is what St. Teresa of Calcutta shared through her words and actions. #MotherTeresa #LoveFirst #ChristianMotherhood #ChangetheWorldthroughlove

“I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.”

One of my favorite stories of Mother Teresa is that of when one of the sisters in her convent approached her worrying that they didn’t have enough time to serve all of the people they needed to. Mother Teresa replied by saying that they must then increase their daily holy hour to two hours. For only through prayer would they be able to have the strength and peace to go out and do all of the work that is needed to be done.  Only through prayer do we realize that it is really God doing the work. By handing our work over to Him, He is able to multiply it, to make it more effective, and to create the world as it was meant to be.

I’m not currently able (or willing?) to have a daily holy hour not to mention two! In my stage of life, I’m happy when I get 20 minutes a day (especially if they’re in a row!) But even so, I know that when I do take that time with Jesus, I’m able to be a better mom, a better wife, and a better person in general.  I’m not sure how God does it, but He multiplies my time and keeps me present with my kids, husband, and others around me. Prayer also often challenges me to be a better person. It shows me areas I need to grow in, places where I haven’t been the kind of person God is calling to me. By giving whatever time that I’m able to give to him in my day, God multiplies it and changes me into a person who can then go out, love better, and create change in the world.

Mother Teresa knew what she was talking about, and she sure walked the walk. I aspire to be half as loving as she was, to be half as giving of myself as she was.  By following in Mother Teresa’s footsteps, as different as it may look in my life, I hope that I can become the person that I am meant to be.  I hope that I can spread love to those God has placed in my life through small actions rooted in love, and I pray that I am not held back from being love when I feel like I cannot succeed.  In doing all of these things, and in rooting myself in God through prayer, I know that I am doing my part to make this world a better place.  I hope that you’ll join me on the journey.

Want to get to know Mother Teresa a little better? Try out these awesome books! (The first is one of my personal favorites)

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