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Growing Your Heart

Patti Armstrong


  Big Hearted is best. No one wants to be the opposite; small or cold hearted. Jesus Christ has the biggest heart of all--the Sacred Heart.  

    So how does one become bigger hearted? The heart is a muscle and like all muscles the more we use it, the stronger and bigger it gets.   And every parent knows that the easiest way to use your heart is to welcome a child into your life. From that point on, love is not even an option.

    Through family, trust and love for God grows.  It’s a domino effect; love begets love.   Having children is the most effective way to die to self, making room for a bigger heart without so much of “you” getting in the way.

    We know all about the love in our own family, but glimpsing into the hearts of other families is an opportunity to witness love as a spectator. In the writing of Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families , my co-author Theresa Thomas and I caught a glimpse inside the triumphs, struggles, joys, and sorrows of ordinary families with generous hearts. We witnessed mere humans struggle mightily when they came up empty on everything from finances, faith, and even initially finding love for a handicapped child.  

    Watching from the outside, we see that every family has imperfections, not just ours. But we also saw over and over again, how even serious problems are overcome with love and faith—even when the problem is not enough love. For instance, through such a story as a couple devastated when their eighth child—their first daughter—is born handicapped, we witnessed how even just the desire for love is transforming. Such a desire, through prayer and trust in God, grew love, deeper than any they had ever experienced before. It is a lesson for every family because as much as we love our children, there are those times when we don’t feel it, or don’t feel like doing all that comes with the responsibility of parenting. Those are the times when we know our human hearts are not enough, so we turn to God for more. God is love and replenishes our hearts, filling them with the love we need to be the family he wants us to be.



Patti Maguire Armstrong is a correspondent for Our Sunday Visitor newspaper and the National Catholic Register , and works in marketing for Teresa Tomeo Communications. She is an award-winning author and was the managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ bestselling Amazing Grace series. Her latest book is Big Hearted: Inspiring Stories From Everyday Families . She has appeared on EWTN, Catholic TV, Fox & Friends, and numerous radio programs across the country. Patti studied a year of journalism at University of Detroit, has a B.A. in social work and an M.A. in public administration, and worked in both those fields before staying home to work as a freelance writer. She and her husband met in the Peace Corps in the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, were Jesuit Volunteers on an Indian Reservation, and spent 3 years as house parents of a group home for delinquent boys. They now live in North Dakota where they are still raising the tail end of their 10 children.

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