Where does our True Identity come from?

What is our true identity?

“We cannot be truly happy until we are truly free, and we to know who it is that we truly are if we are to be truly free.”
Habits of Freedom, pg 20

Eve

As in adam and Eve, she engages in a ‘what if ‘ conversation with the snake. She speculates. Wonders. Thinks about what if? Instead of focusing on now and engaging in conversation, aka, prayer, with God.

We do the same thing. Making time for God each day will give us an intimate relationship with him. It keeps us on an even keel and able to handle our lives better.

Jesus’ Baptism

In Luke 3:21-22,

After all the people had been baptized and Jesus also had been baptized and was praying, heaven was opened
 and the holy Spirit descended upon him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”
God the Father is well pleased with Jesus. He is well-pleased with you too!
This week, pray and meditate with Luke 3:21-22. Hear what the Father says to Jesus and listen to what He has to say to you.
If you’d like to read and discuss the Sunday Mass REadings, join us on Wednesday evenings at 7:30 pm (ET). You can sign up here to receive the link. 

Habits of Freedom; Holy Indifference

We are continuing our series of Habits of Freedom: 5 Ignatian Tools for Calming Your Mind and Resting in the Lord by Christopher S. Collins, SJ.

God often calls us out of our usual to get our attention. In the scripture, we see him call people to the desert, recall the Israelites in the desert after leaving Egypt and Jesus there for 40 days before he begins his public ministry.

He also uses suffering to draw us closer to him. The desert, suffering – both are ways that we turn and rely more fully on God than in other times.

St. Ignatius teaches us to have a “holy indifference” in that no matter our circumstances, we choose to turn to God.

Discernment

Discernment is an ongoing and daily process. It asks us to look each day at where we have been, what we have done, and where we have encountered God. This is our Examen. A time to reflect on our day, with the help of the Holy Spirit and ask for help for the next day.

Allow your life to be disrupted

Fr. Collins makes this point about how we can be disposed to receive grace: “putting my self into unknown, uncertain, somewhat insecure circumstances has a way of disposing me to receive something greater that I could have expected.” (pg. 10)

It is good to allow our lives to be disrupted for, with and by God. “Allow ourselves to be displaced, decentered. To be opened up to something different. And then to allow the Holy Spirit to move, to act, to allow the Word of God to be spoken and heard by me, by us.” (pg.15)

This week, take some quiet time to think about a time when your life was disrupted. What happened? How was the situation resolved? Where was God in it? What did you learn?

Would you like to banish the lies that hold you back from freedom in Christ? Receive a free guide from me to help!

 

Habits of Freedom, Introduction

Normal

We want our life to go back to normal. And what exactly does normal mean? I think, instead, let’s consider grounding ourselves in Christ. When we are with him, life will be on a more even keel. When we begin with him, Jesus helps us get through life.

A Series

The next few episodes will be focused on discussing the book, Habits of Freedom: 5 Ignatian Tools for Clearing your Mind and Resting Daily in the Lord by Fr. Christopher J. Collins, SJ.

The book is short and each chapter gives you a way to pray and process life from Ignatian prayer. There are prayer prompts and scripture to guide you as you develop your own prayer practice.

Introduction

There are 14 Rules for Discernment from St. Ignatius; this book reviews the first 7 and then uses them throughout the text.

 

Here is a brief summary: (I explain more in the podcast)

  1. When a person is moving away from God, meaning they are in sin, there is a sting of conscience.
  2. A person who is moving toward or is with God, the enemy tries to unsettle the person. Here though, the Good Spirit gives consolation.
  3. Consolation is when we feel the love of God, and have an increase in faith, hope and love..
  4. Desolation is a feeling of being low, unhappiness, separated from God
  5. When a person is in desolation, no change should be made; stick to your plan.
  6. When a person is stuck in desolation, go against your natural inclination, don’t give in to the enemy.
  7. Be patient; consolation will return.  (from Collins, xi-xii)

 

Interested in the guide? Click here.

 

 

If you make a purchase via a link on this page, I may receive a small commission. There will be no added cost to you. Thank you!

Pray for Yourself

Do you pray for yourself?

I have met many people who don’t think to pray for themselves. Some think it is selfish; others, maybe a bit burdensome to God, who already has enough to concern himself with. But I think we are to pray for ourselves.

Jesus prayed for Himself

In scripture, we see many times Jesus goes off either before the day or at the end, certainly in preparation for big decisions, by himself to spend time with the Father.

In Mathew 26:39, Mark 14:36 and Luke 22:42 we see him in the Garden of Gethsemane praying very specifically for his needs as he faces the cross.

It is in the Gospel of John that we hear Jesus pray for himself,

When Jesus had said this, he raised his eyes to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that he may give eternal life to all you gave him. Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ. I glorified you on earth by accomplishing the work that you gave me to do. Now glorify me, Father, with you, with the glory that I had with you before the world began. John 17:1-5
Jesus prays for glory, so the Father is glorified. And that is key! When you pray for yourself, do it with the heart and mind that says you are at the service of the will of God. You want to glorify God, not have your prayers answered out of selfishness.
  This week, pray for yourself. Go to God with all that is in your soul and allow him to give you whatever you need. Strength, healing, comfort, peace, to know that you are loved – ask in humility and trust.
If you are interested in being better prepared for Mass each Sunday, join us to discuss the readings in the Live Not Lukewarm Community.

Psalms and Gratitude

Gratitude is an Answer

Often times we don’t think about our blessings and daily life as gifts, but they are. It’s not good luck or being in the right place at the right time. When we feel mired down in problems, turn to gratitude. Shift your focus.

Praying the Psalms

Here is a list of the Thanksgiving Psalms

  • 18
  • 30
  • 32
  • 34
  • 40
  • 65
  • 66
  • 67
  • 75
  • 92
  • 107
  • 116
  • 118
  • 124
  • 136
  • 138

 

Scripture

It is good to give thanks to the Lord,
to sing praises to your name, O Most High;
to declare your steadfast love in the morning,
and your faithfulness by night,
to the music of the lute and the harp,
to the melody of the lyre.
For you, O Lord, have made me glad by your work;
at the works of your hands I sing for joy. Psalm 92:2-5

St. Teresa of Avila

In all created things, discern the providence and wisdom of God and in all things, give Him thanks.

Keep a gratitude list or even better, share your gratitude each day with another person!

Pray the Our Lady of Good Help Novena with Marge Fenelon and me on Instagram beginning Nov 14. Sign up for my newsletter for more details.

America’s Mary: The Story of Our Lady of Good Help

New Book about Our Blessed Mother

I have always known we have a generous and loving Mother in Heaven. But Mary also comes to people here on earth to guide and give a message of hope or words of exhortation when needed. In 1859, this is what happened in Door County, Wisconsin to a girl named Adele Brise.

Marge Steinhage Fenelon has written America’s Mary: The Story of Our Lady of Good Help to tell the story of this apparition of Mary to Adele and calls it America’s best-kept secret. Why? Because this is the only recognized and approved apparition to take place in America.

How does the message help us today?

Mary told Adele to gather and teach the children in this wild country. She was referring to the land as being wild, but today, we live in a society and culture that is wild. This is a reminder to us that we need to evangelize and catechize. This story tells us that we have work to do and with Mary’s help, it can be accomplished!

When did interest in this apparition begin in our times?

In 2010, Bishop David L. Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, approved this apparition on December 8. There is a copy of this in the book. He also wrote the prayer below.

O Dear Lady of Good Help, you revealed yourself as the Queen of Heaven to your servant Adele. You gave her a mission to pray for the conversion of sinners, to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to others, and to prepare the children for the reception of the sacraments. I trust that as you called Adele to holiness, you are calling me, in my station in life, to live a holy life, devoted to Jesus Christ with the help of your maternal love. I bring before you now my worries and anxieties. I abandon my attachments to them and place them at your feet. I ask you to hear the deepest longings of my heart as I pray most earnestly for (your intention). Dear Lady, you told Adele and you say to all of us, “Do not be afraid; I will help you.” Help me now as I place this intention with complete confidence and trust. Amen.Our Father…, Hail Mary…, Glory Be… Our Lady of Good Help, pray for us.

For the next 9 days, use the prayer above along with the Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be as a novena for your most difficult intentions. I know I will be praying it!

The book is available from Our Sunday Visitor and on Amazon. (If you purchase on Amazon, I receive a small tip.) You can follow Marge on Facebook and Instagram and be sure to check out her website!

 

 

Ask the Holy Spirit for Help

Decisions to be made

How often do we wonder, is this what I should do? What will be the best decision? We think and pray and ask a few or twenty-five, people, what they think, instead of going to the Holy Spirit. Or maybe you do go to the Holy Spirit but still, ask questions.

Is there a way to figure it out?

Turn to prayer and wait. Ask for the answer. Try not to tell God what you’d like to have happen. And then wait with hopeful expectation. When you have peace, which is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, you will know you have your decision. Go with it.

Scripture

Romans 8:26a “The Spirit helps us in our weakness”

Jesus call the Spirit…

The Paraclete, the one who is called to one’s side.” I think we can stand strong, knowing the Holy Spirit is beside us. Call on him and he will come.

This week, before you make any important decision, take it to prayer.

Do you need a speaker for your ministry or parish event? I’d be honored to work with you!

 

 

Called by God

What is my purpose?

“Each one of us has been called from all eternity to fulfil a divine vocation. God the Father brought us into life (no one has been born by accident). He created our soul. He drew us into his intimate life through the Sacrament of Baptism. By means of this sacrament God has commissioned us; He has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hears as a gurantee. He has given us a specific work to accomplish in this life and has prepared a plcae for us in heaven.”  In Conversation with God, Volume 5, Father Francis Fernandez

Who created us?

God created us and calls us to a divine vocation. It may not always look the same as we move through life, but that is not the point. The point is to do the small, daily things that help us move forward in our vocation.

He created our souls. And that means we ought to nurture them with love.  Soul care is a means of honoring who we are in relation to God and thanking him for our souls.

 

 

No challenge this week. I’d like to hear your thoughts on the weekly challenges; yes or no?

 

 

 

A New Book: Encountering Signs of Faith

A New Book

It is always a pleasure when I talk with an author and doubly so when she is a friend! You’ve met Allison Gingras before, but today it’s all about her own new book, Encountering SIgns of Faith: My Unexpected Journey with Sacramentals, the Saints and the Abundant Grace of God.

What’s it all about?

Allison masterfully weaves the story of her daughter’s adoption story with sacramentals and saints, prayers and novenas. Sounds like too much? It’s not at all. You will learn how God used the tangible, physical reminders of our faith – sacramentals – to point to the abundant and intangible graces and truths of our faith.

Book Features

10 chapters, close to 20 saint stories, sacramentals, and the prayers and devotions that accompany them, and activities to uncover and build grace so that you to can understand why sacramentals help us grow in faith.

Favorite quote from our conversation

From Allison, “God’s grace is unfathomable.” Follow Allison on Instagram, Facebook and her website.

This week’s Not Lukewarm Challenge – learn about a new devotion or sacramental and incorporate it into your prayer life.

Want to learn more about living not lukewarm? Sign up for my email newsletter.

Stop Worrying; Focus on Now

We all do it

Or at least it seems so to me. Worry that is, looking forward or back, wondering what we could have or should have or ought to do better or differently. The preoccupation with the possibilities instead of what is does not help us.

Scripture

“I am the God of your faither, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” Exodus 3:6

“God replied, “I am who am.”” Exodus 3:14

Padre Pio Quotes

Pray, hope, and don’t worry. Worry is useless. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.

Do not worry over things that generate preoccupation, derangement and anxiety. One thing only is necessary: to lift up your spirit and love God.

What can we do?

Remember that God is the God of the present moment. Yes, we must act prudently and plan and prepare, but once that is done, we must focus on what is in front of us. Constant worry is not helpful.  As Padre Pio says, worry is useless. During those times of worry, turn to God and say, “I love you.” He will respond and be right there with you in whatever you are facing.

This week, when you feel overcome with worry, pause and say, I love you, God.

Need a speaker for Advent or other events? Let’s discuss. 

 

You are Enough

Fine Line

There is a fine line between true, good, and holy desires and grasping for more. Our world tells us that we are not enough or maybe too much; that we need to do more, be more, and have more. Always striving for an ideal that is beyond reach. That is not of God.

Scripture

The righteous have enough to satisfy their appetite,
but the belly of the wicked is empty. Proverbs 13:25

The righteous have enough to satisfy their appetite,
but the belly of the wicked is empty. Proverbs 23:4

Though he was in the form of God, he did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Phillipians 2:6

What do we need to live?

Most of us have enough. We may not realize it because we have bought into the world telling us we don’t have enough. More is better. Not really; more stuff means more time spent caring for things rather than caring for others.

This week spend some time making a list of all that God has given you. Your gifts and talents, family, friends, all that is enough in your life, both personally and materially. Let me know how it goes.

Interested in talking about your spiritual life? Take a look here for more information.

Trust in the Slow Work of God

Learning to Wait

Not my strong suit. Same as being still, not always easy, as I said in the last episode!

But there is beauty in stillness; it builds trust, trust in God. And God will always come through for you.

Trust in the Slow Work of God

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.

We are, quite naturally, impatient in everything to reach the end Without delay.

We should like to skip the intermediate stages.

We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown,

Something new, and yet it is the law of all progress

That it is made by passing through Some stages of instability — And that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.

Your ideas mature gradually — Let them grow, let them shape themselves, without undue haste.

Don’t try to force them on, as though you could be today what time will make you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.

Give Our Lord the benefit of believing That his hand is leading you,

And accept the anxiety of Feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God,

Our loving vine-dresser.  Amen.

-Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J.

Take some time in stillness and pray this prayer.

And remember, if you’d like a copy of the prayer to print out, drop me a comment on this post, and I’ll email it to you!

What to do

What to do when you don’t know what to do

Often times our inclination is to do something. And that may be the wrong answer. We may be doing something that is not within our scope of influence or concern. We may be getting in God’s way! So what is the answer?

The LORD will fight for you; you have only to keep still. Exodus 14:14

Surrender, turn it over to Him. He will take care of you. It is not always easy to remember this, but it is necessary for our spiritual life.

How do I know this?

God sent us His Son, Jesus. We have salvation and we have hope. Why?

For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily, and you share in this fullness in him, who is the head of every principality and power. Collosians 2:9-10

This week’s Not Lukewarm Challenge

Be still! That’s it. When life is overwhelming, be still and turn it all over to God. He’s got this.

Study the Book of Exodus!

Why? 2 reasons: learn what it means to go from living in Exile to living in Freedom and see what sacraments are pre-figured in Exodus! Click here to learn more!

 

The Mother of Jesus is Wonderfully Real

How did this book come about?

One day, Isabel went to camp and was made fun of for wearing a medal of Mary, Our Blessed Mother. She was broken-hearted, and neither her mother or aunt (Alyssa Bormes) could console her. She she and her aunt wrote a letter to a priest friend, Fr. Paul Murray. This book is his answer to her.

How did it come together?

For 9 years, Alyssa asked Fr. Paul if his letter could be made into a book. And one day, he said yes! Then an illustrator needed to be found. Alyssa, asked Jesus and then found Bernadette Gockowski’s business card on her desk. Once she saw her work, Alyssa knew she had found the illustrator!

The Mother of Jesus is Wonderfully Real is published by WINE – Women in the NEw Evangelization and is available on their website.

Story Time

If you would like to use this book for story time, take a look at the ideas WINE created for you to use to help children learn about Mary and how real she is!

More about Alyssa Bormes

You can follow Alyssa on Facebook. And read the story about he24 years of gratitude here.

My niece was devastated when the girls teased her that Mary wasn’t real – but today there is tremendous fruit from her suffering. 24 years ago – I was devastated – but said to God – I’ll give you one shot — and He has spent 24 years making me say “Thank you!” What sufferings have you had that now bear fruit? Can you see that your sufferings today may one-day bear fruit? Prayer: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, please show me the fruit from my suffering. Please show me how to allow the fruit to come to be.

 

We can trust God!

What does trust mean?

What does the word trust mean? “A firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something.”

We have belief in God.  He is reliable. He is truth. His ability is above all, as is His strength. We can trust Him. Yet we falter at times.

The Word

Look at this verse from Sirach 2:10:

“Study the generations long past and understand; has anyone hoped in the LORD and been disappointed? Has anyone persevered in his fear and been forsaken? Has anyone called upon him and been rebuffed?”

Where has God been in your past?

Look at your own life, not past generations, and see where God has been there for you. Often we don’t see it at the time, but when we look back, we see how He protected us or saved us from making a mistake.

For our challenge, look back on your life and think about all the times and situations where you see God. If you are so inclined, write them down. It is your personal story of salvation, your spiritual adventure!

 

Simple & Ordinary

A few weeks ago I interviewed Rachel Balducci about her new book, No Such Thing as Ordinary and we talked about how oftentimes, we are waiting to do something big and important for God and miss what is in front of us.

Reminder from God

I have lots of insomnia lately and so the middle of the night is time for prayer and deep conversation with God. He reminded me of a few things, in particular, that he uses the ordinary things of life to help and sustain us.

As an example, there is Elijah, beaten down and afraid after his encounter with Jezebel. He wanders off, whining and complaining. God sends an angel to him and encourages him to sleep and when he wakes up gives him food and drink. Then he sleeps again to prepare himself for the next journey. He goes to the mountain of Horeb and there meets God.

Again, God was not in the dramatic weather but in the quiet.

“He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.” Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake;  and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence. ” 1 Kings 19:11-12

In the Ordinary

It is a reminder, isn’t it? Stop looking out there and look inside. Yourself. Your home. Look to what is reasonable, a nap, a snack, time with God.

Living Not Lukewarm is not about setting out each day to accomplish a great list of tasks that bring hundreds to Jesus. It is about doing what is in front of us, relying on Jesus to lead us and fully entering into the task at hand.

Whatever your tasks are this week, do them with the same zealousness as Elijah did what the LORD asked him to do!

A Prayer of Surrender

Suscipe or Surrender Prayer

Take Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my will, all that I have and cherish you have given to me; I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your grace and strength are wealth enough for me. I ask for this and nothing more. St. Ignatius of Loyola

 

What else besides God?

What do we need besides God? Nothing. If I give, willingly, all that God has given me, back to God can you imagine what will happen in your life? Our surrender –  of material goods, worry, the desire to control – all that can be given to Him and then we allow ourselves to be guided by God’s will.

God only wants our good. Surrender though is a daily process. We sometimes forget to pray, “thy will be done” or we give our concerns to God and take them back. We don’t want to wait on His answer, convinced we know better.

Pray this prayer when you are worried or have a problem or make it a part of your morning prayer time. Pray it this week and watch what happens.

 

 

Join the Live Not Lukewarm community and receive the video series, 4 Ways to Pray with Scripture!

 

 

The Value of Friendship as We Age

How to Be Happy as You Age

There are 7 indicators, based on a Harvard Study that indicate how happy and well you will be later in life. A full explanation is here.

Briefly, the 7 are:

  1. Don’t smoke
  2. Do not abuse alcohol
  3. Maintain healthy body weight
  4. Exercise
  5. Adaptive coping style
  6. Education
  7. Stable, long-term relationships

Focus on Friendships

“With three things I am delighted, for they are pleasing to the Lord and to human beings: Harmony among relatives, friendship among neighbors, and a wife and a husband living happily together.” Sirach 25:1
“The people most satisfied in thoier relationships at age fifty ere the healthieest at age eighty.” Robert Waldinger
Here is Waldinger’s TED talk on this topic.
Call a friend and make plans to spend time with them this week!
Join us in the Live Not Lukewarm Community for this 10-day challenge! Registration and information are here. 

Meet Rachel Balducci, Author of No Such Thing As Ordinary

A New Book

It’s always a treat to interview authors whose books I’ve read. Rachel Balducci is a speaker, writer and co-host of The Gist on Catholic TV. She teaches journalism at Augusta University and is married to Paul. They have five sons and one daughter. Her latest book, No Such Thing as Ordinary: Unlocking Your Extraordinary Life Through Everyday Encounters With Jesus, is published by Ave Maria Press.

Rachel chooses the story of the Woman at the Well from the Gospel of John, chapter 4 as the guiding scripture to discuss what means to have an extraordinary life through your encounters with Jesus.

Rachel reminds us that we don’t need to wait to do the great, important life-changing work for God. Simple living each day with the knowledge that we are doing what God asks of us at this moment is a response to Jesus’ invitation and is extraordinary.

Some Important Mentions

Rachel talks about Catherine Doherty and the Duty of the Moment.

The Cloud of Unknowing is the book Rachel read that helped her learn about contemplative prayer. That link takes you to a site where you can download a free copy. Please keep in mind that I cannot vouch for the translation.

Notes from the Conversation

We all want a deep union with God and a longing to do something great for HIm. We cannot wait for the opportunity to do the one, big thing, but do what is in front of you. That’s what God asks of us.

“Holiness is the best gift you can give your family,” a priest told Rachel this many years ago, and it took her some time, but she fully believes this to be true.

Outside the will of God, you will never be happy.

Your identity comes from God.

Spend 10 minutes a day in quiet with God. Simply open your soul to hear what He has for you.

Here is her website and be sure to follow Rachel on Instagram, @rachelbalducci 

 

Are you participating in your faith life?

Scripture

He entered a boat, made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.” At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said, “Why do you harbor evil thoughts which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” Matthew 9:1-6

Do you accept what is offered?

Do ever feel as if you are not participating in your own spiritual or faith life? Maybe waiting for Jesus to do it all? In the passage, we can see that yes, Jesus is forgiving but the man accepts what Jesus does for him and acts on Jesus’ words. (I’m saying man, but it could be a woman.)

Do we ever sit there with a great idea, thinking, not me, nope, it’s for someone else? Let’s stop thinking Jesus isn’t offering us the best or the forgiveness or healing or a gift. Why can’t it be you?

Faith and Action

We can do both. And if our action seems daunting, pray this prayer, “Lord, I believe you have asked me to do what I am about to do, but if it is not what you want me to, please stop me.”

This week, pray to put fully participate in your faith life. If you get a direction from God, do it!

And, please, drop me a comment about how it goes or suggest a topic for discussion! I love to hear from listeners.

 

Is Spiritual Direction for you?

What is Spiritual Direction?

“It is the guidance of a person into a life truly under the dominion of the Holy Sprit, who is the primary director.”
from Seeking Spiritual Direction by Thomas Dubay, S.J.

“Spiritual direction is concerned with helping a person directly with his or her realtionship with God…the most fundamental issue is that relationship and its underlying questions: “Who is God for me, and who am I for him?”
from The Practice of Spritual Direction by William A. Barry & William J. Connolly

What is the purpose?

Just as we seek help in other areas of our lives, why not do the same for our spiritual life? Direction provides a time and space to learn how we can know, love, and serve God more fully and deeply in our life.

What happens in spiritual direction?

Listening to the directee (the person seeking direction), prayer, quiet, deep conversation, being open to the Holy Spirit, spiritual growth, affirmation, and transformation all occur during both the prayer time before a spiritual direction appointment and during the time the director and directee are together.

Of course, they don’t necessarily happen all at once but occur over time as people grow in their relationship with God.

Links and Books for More Information

Live NotLukewarm Spiritual Direction Page

Cenacle School of Our Lady of Divine Providence School of Spiritual Direction, A Ministry of the Marian Servants of Divine Providence, and in association with the Franciscan University of Steubenville. This is where I went to school.

  • Seeking Spiritual Direction by Thomas Dubay, S.J.
  • Navigation the Interior Life by Daniel Burke

Discern if you would benefit from spiritual direction and please contact me if you’d like to discuss this further or want help finding a director.  Use this form to start a conversation.

A Eucharistic Revival

Catholics having a revival

Yes, we are, starting on June 19, 2022, until July 17, 2024. That is two years to unpack the riches of the Eucharist, grow individually in your personal relationship with the Lord, and change the world!

Take a look here at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Eucharistic Revival website to keep up-to-date and informed as to the why and how of the next two years.

Scripture

“I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.”
(John 6:51)

Jesus is present in the Eucharist

In the Gospel of John, chapter 6, when many people left because they could not accept what Jesus was telling them and offering them, he does not correct them or soften the truth. Jesus can only speak truth because he is the Truth!

Three ways to get Close to Jesus in the Eucharist

  • Go to Mass and receive Communion. You can do this every day, not only on Sundays.
  • Spend time with Jesus in a church or chapel, where he is present in the Tabernacle.
  • Go to Adoration.

This week, do one of the three suggestions as to how to get closer to Jesus. I encourage you to do this in person, not virtually. There is something you receive from being physically present with Jesus. Ask him what he wants for you. Ask him what he wants from you. Spend time in his prescence and your relationship with him will greatly benefit.

 

 

The Trinity-A Mystery to Embrace

Thoughts from St. Hildegard

“But the Father is revealed through the Son, the Son through the beginning of created things, and the Holy Spirit through the incarnate Son. How is this? It is the Father who before time engendered the Son; it is the Son through whom all things were created by the Father at the beginning of creation; and it is the Holy Spirit who appeared in the form of a dove at the baptism of the Son of God towards the end of all time.”

A Mystery, but we can still think about it

We look at the Trinity through the lens of our faith. Do we fully understand it? Most likely not, but through the eyes of faith, we can embrace it and grow in our understanding as we grow in our faith.

In John 16: 12-15, we see the line of God the Father to the Son to the Holy Spirit.

Pray the Glory Be this week to ask for the intercession of the Trinity:

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

The Feast of Pentecost

Come, Holy Spirit

The Feast of Pentecost is a theophany, a manifestation of God! Luke, the writer of Acts, uses the retelling as a way to remind us that the Jews also celebrated Pentecost. For them, it was the celebration of Moses receiving the Torah from God on Mt. Sinai. The same wind and fire are present in both events.

Holy Boldness

Peter and all who receive the gift of the SPirit are filled with a boldness to go forth and proclaim the Good News. We have that same call, by virtue of our baptism, to do the same.

The Birthday of the Church

Yes, it is the birthday of the Church!!!! So celebrate.

Wear read. Have a party. Light some candles.

This week, you have options.

  1.  Wear red to church.
  2. Step in boldness in a way the Holy Spirit has been nudging you. Pray, “Come Holy Spirit” and do it.
  3. Throw a party!

 

5 ways to Care for your Soul

Our soul needs care just as our body does. This week, I’m offering 5 suggestions that help me be the Christian witness I want to be and live notlukewarm!

Five Ways

  1. Start your day with a prayer.
  2. Read scripture.
  3. Spend time in nature, noticing the beauty of God’s creation.
  4. Sit in silence for a short time.
  5. Practice gratitude.

Why do this?

As the saying goes, “you cannot pour from an empty cup.” Our ability to give to others is often determined by our internal state. And while taking care of our body is important, we cannot forget about our soul. In fact, from my own experience, I will say that my soul comes first, then I can do the rest of what is needed.

The challenge this week? Do it all! I guess I’m feeling a bit motivated or in need of soul care? God knows!

Need a speaker

Take a look at LiveNotLukewarm for ways to connect and have me come to your group.

 

 

The Courage of St. Catherine of Siena

About Catherine

Catherine of Siena was born in Siena, Italy in 1347. She was a twin but her sister died shortly after birth. The following year the Black Death entered Siena.

She had a vision of Jesus as a young child and from then knew she wanted to give her life to God and renew the Church.

She took a vow of virginity and cut her hair; her desire was to avoid marriage.

In 1363 she joins the Mantelatte, a lay Dominican order of women in Siena.

Bold and Courageous

She wrote to Popes and civil leaders, telling them to do what was right and necessary to fix the problems in the Church and community. She ministered to the sick and dying. A story I tell in the audio is about her helping a man who is to be executed.

Her Writings

We have letters, prayers and her most well know, THe Dialogue of Catherine of Siena. The Dialogue is a series of conversations between God and Catherine while she was in a deep prayer state.

Pray Catherine’s prayer to the Holy Spirit when you find yourself falling into despair.

 

 

A New Book: Joyful Encounters with Mary

A new book!

Maria Gallagher has written, Joyful Encounters with Mary: A Woman’s Guide to Living the Mysteries of the Rosary, a wonderful way to learn more about the joyful mysteries, virtues and the saints while living out your faith every day!

5 Joyful Mysteries

The 5 joyful mysteries are the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Nativity, the Presentation and the Finding of Jesus in the Temple. Each mystery is discussed in light of Mary, a virtue, a saint and how Maria has seen this mystery in her life.  The chapters also have questions to reflect on how your faith is present in your life. To learn how to pray the rosary, go here.

Why a book about Mary?

Maria has been blessed with many role models who helped her in her own faith adventure, modeling the love and care of Mary for her. MAria also reminds us that Mary leads us to Jesus and is always there for us – listening, helping and untieing the knots in our lives. We both like the Undoer of Knots Novena.

Where can I find this book?

The book is published by the Marian Servants and is on their website. You can read more of Maria’s work on her website.

Maria suggests, for our challenge this week, to actively cultivate a deeper relationship with Mary, our Blessed Mother.

Faith at the Empty Tomb

Happy Easter

I hope that if you pull this up on Good Friday, you wait for another day to listen. This is a resurrection meditation! Filled with the good news of Jesus’ triumph over death.

A Fresh Hope

Each year we celebrate Easter to remind ourselves, yet again, that Jesus gave us our salvation.

The Meditation

The mediation is based on John 20:1-9.  Here are the questions I pose for reflection:

  • In times of grief, do you want to be alone or need others around you?
  • Have you ever not known where Jesus was in your own life?
  • What helped you find him?
  • I have had many resurrections in my life, how about you? Find some time to think about those, maybe write them down and praise and thank God for them.

I didn’t give a Not Lukewarm challenge this week. Instead, I encourage you to spend time in prayer with the reflection questions and scripture passage.

The Four Women Church Doctors

Who are they?

Saints Hildegard of Bingen, Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, and Therese of Lisieux are the four women Doctors of the Church!

Why are they called Doctors?

In honoring these women with this title, the Chuch is recognizing that the work and contributions each of these saints made has withstood the test of time. It is just as valuable to us today as it was to those who spoke, wrote, and mentored when the women first put forth their efforts.

To learn more…

Click on the name of each saint to learn more about them.

And your challenge this week is to learn more about one of these great women saints!

Don’t forget, if you’d like to study the Book of Revelation, we begin on April 20. Also, join the newsletter to find out when we being the Set the World on Fire retreat.

Ask God for the Plan

Scripture

“I cannot do anything on my own; I judge as I hear, and my judgment is just, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the one who sent me.” John 5:30

Reflection

If Jesus, who is the one speaking, makes the point that he cannot do anything on his own, how much truer is this for us? Jesus is showing humility and by his example is telling us to do the same. Turn to God the Father. Ask him before you do anything so it will be aligned with his will, not yours.

Free Will

Free will, we all have it. And for some, it means doing whatever we want. For others, for me and probably for you, we want to do the Father’s will. Let’s face it, he is a much better planner than I am. The way Jesus knew his Father’s will was through prayer. It is how we stay connected to him.

This week, before you make a major decision or changes to your previous plans, go to God first and ask for his plan.

Interested in more?

Join the Revelation Bible Study with the Live Not Lukewarm Community.

Want to dive deeper into praying with scripture? Sign up for the Live Not Lukewarm newsletter to receive 4 Ways to Pray with Scripture.

 

10 Reasons to Study Scripture

Begin with Scripture

“Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart. No creature is concealed from him, but everything is naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must render an account.” Hebrews 4:12-13

10 Reasons

  • It is the Word of God. What’s better than that?
  • You will get the best advice.
  • Spending time in the Word helps you to slow down and live in God’s time.
  • Yes, the sword is sharp as St. Paul says, but it is for a reason. To reveal what God wants to heal, root out, change in you to become who He created.
  • God’s Word is deep, meaningful, real and honest. Often the interactions we have in real life are less than deep, meaningful, real and honest.
  • It will help you figure things out in life. The big questions that need time and space and discernment.
  • God’s Word shapes and fills us, so then we can share it with the world.
  • Spending time in the Word teaches us who God is and who we are.
  • It reminds us of how much you are loved and cared for by God.
  • By spending time with God in the word you become a better person, the person He created you to be!

This week, spend 15 minutes a day reading, studying, praying with scripture. Start here with the daily Mass readings.

Want to dive deeper into praying with scripture? Sign up for the Live Not Lukewarm newsletter to receive 4 Ways to Pray with Scripture.

Join the Revelation Bible Study with the Live Not Lukewarm Community.

Ditch the Heaviness of Life

Life can be heavy

All of us in this world has both good and bad things going on. There are moments of joy and despair, all intermingled, sometimes in the same moments. And where we focus often determines our attitude.

Scripture

“Then all who trust in you will be glad and forever shout for joy. You will protect them and those will rejoice in you who love your name. ” Psalm 5:12

GLAD

What is this GLAD technique? First, this is not something I came up with on my own. Here is a good explanation, especially in terms of mental health.

G – Gratitude

L – Learned

A – Achieved or accomplished

D – Delight

 

Use GLAD every day this week! Bonus if you do this with others, in person or via text or phone call. Let me know how GLAD you are!

Interested in studying the Book of Revelation? Find out all about it by subscribing to the Live Not Lukewarm newsletter. 

Imagine You Walked with Jesus, A Guide to Ignatian Contemplative Prayer.

Teaching Prayer

Teaching a person to pray using Ignatian Contemplative Prayer is not an easy task. It takes time and repetition to learn. The other point to consider when teaching someone is that you want the person to enter into the prayer based on their needs, not the person teaching. In his new book, Imagine you Walked with Jesus: A Guide to Ignatian Contemplative Prayer Jerry Windley-Daoust does an amazing job of guiding you to a deep experience of prayer.

In this episode, Jerry and I talk about what makes his book unique, how it leads you through Jesus’ life with 40 different scripture passages and gives you a format you can use with prompts and suggestions to enter into prayer.

Don’t skip

Jerry starts the book off with 2 important chapters, the first an introduction to imaginative prayer and a brief tour of first-century Palestine. Both will be of help to you as you begin.

I also suggest moving through the scripture passages as Jerry has organized them. That way, you will see Jesus’ life and ministry unfold as you pray with the scripture.

Learn more

Find out more about the book, find journaling resources, more scripture suggestions and other help in getting started on the Guide to Imaginative Prayer website.

Our challenge this week comes from Jerry: “Go walk with Jesus in imaginative prayer! Choose a Scripture passage that reflects your situation, and go meet Jesus there, and see what happens.”

Stay up to date on all that Deanna has going on by subscribing to the Live Not Lukewarm newsletter. 

 

Asceticism

Asceticism – not a word you use every day

Lent is approaching and I’ve been considering the idea of asceticism. Which is different from minimalism.  But rather than my words, let’s look a the definition from A Concise Dictionary of Theology.

“Asceticism is the ways and mean sdopted by Christians under the action of the  Spirit to purify themselves from sin and remove obstacles in the way of freely following Christ. Genuine asceticism brings a growth in contemplation and the love of God that is not detrimental to personal maturity and socil responsibilty.”

And Lent…

The three pillars of Lent are prayers, fasting and almsgiving. Deacon John and I talk about how to decide what to both give up and do for Lent. We do not divest ourselves of attachments to worldly things for the good of our own self. We do it to grow closer to God and better serve others.

The steps to a plan

First, we pray. Then we consider our options. Add one act of prayer, fasting and almsgiving and give up something that allows you to have more time, money, energy – whatever is needed to do the acts you will do.

 

Lent begins on Ash Wedensday, Marh 4, 2022. Prepare for LEnt this week so you are ready when it begins. If you are listening outside of this time frame, pick something anyway to do for a week.

 

 

 

With the Lord’s Help

A Saint and some Scripture

We are reading The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila with the LiveNotLukewarm community.  The book is filled with wisdom, which is why she is a Doctor of the Church!

This struck me: “May our Lord assist me in everything that I shall do, that all things may be done according to His will, for such have always been my desires, though my actions are as imperfect as myself.”

And, thne we have the Letter of James, chapter 1, 19-22, though the entire letter is excellent.:

Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

Control the Tongue

Is it difficult to do? It is for me, how about you?

Invite God in more frequently, the more we ask for help the better off everyone will be. We can’t be a good example if we are not speaking with kindness.

Not Lukewarm Challenge

Read the Letter of James or say this prayer!

 

 

Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary

Author Introduction

I had a fun conversation with Claire McGarry, the author of Grace in Tension: Discover Peace with Martha and Mary, published by Our Sunday Visitor. Her website is Shifting my Perspective and you can find links to her books and recent writing there.

Instagram                                                                                                                                                   Facebook Author Page

Why Martha and Mary

In her repeated readings of the story from Luke 10, Claire senses her own frustration with Martha and Mary, not understanding why she is in tension over someone else’s story. In prayer, God reveals to her a process to learn how to face the tension in our lives and use it to help us uncover what is going on within ourselves.

GIFT (from page 19 of Grace in Tension)

  • Gauge, identify and name the tension I was feeling
  •  Invite it in so I could look it in the eye, robbing it of its hold over me
  •  Filter it through his lens, which sees the whole picture with love
  • Transform it by inspiring me to make the necessary changes in my life and in myself

By using GIFT, we can have a choice in how we react to the tension around and in our life.

Claire invites you to try her G-I-F-T acronym in the midst of your stress and tension, it would naturally lead you to God and a life that is not lukewarm.

 

The Father’s Love

Back home

I’m back home after two weeks away to finish my spiritual direction certificate. I graduated on January 30, 2022, and received my Spiritual Direction Certificate from the Cenacle of Our Lady of Divine Providence School of Spiritual Direction in association with the Franciscan University of Steubenville. It was a grace-filled time with lots to unpack and think about.

But this quote

We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son. (St. John Paul II)

Kept coming up again and again. I tucked it away to think about later and now it’s later. so a few thoughts.

My thoughts

This quote is from Pope John Paul II’s homily at World Youth Day in Toronto, Canada in 2002. I read the homily here, it’s not very long. I also was struck by these words:

Jesus offers one thing, and the “spirit of the world” offers another.

The “spirit of the world” offers many false illusions and parodies of happiness.

The Lord is calling you to choose between these two voices competing for your souls.

All of this is very Ignatian, choosing between two worlds, one which wants your good the other, not really interested in you at all. I’ve been struck this week with feelings of total inadequacy, which I know is the world playing with my mind after being immersed in the Father’s love for weeks, attacks come. To sway us, to confuse us, to pull us away from the truth.

How to overcome

First, pray with scripture so you can hear God speak to you. Then, I offer this not lukewarm challenge: make a list of all that God has done for you that reminds you of his great love for you.

Interested in reading a great book?

3 reasons to read The Way of Perfection by St. Teresa of Avila

You will grow in your spiritual life

It was written during a time of upheaval in the Church

St. Teresa gives practical ways to incorporate prayer in your daily life

We will begin on Wednesday, February 16 at 7:30 pm (EST) via Zoom. The cost is $8 for non-members (register here); LiveNotLukewarm members no need to register, but please email me that you will attend.

 

 

 

365 Dates to Renew your Christian Marriage

Let’s talk

That phrase could be the answer to “how to strike fear in the heart of my husband?” But it isn’t. Honest. Dating your spouse and keeping your marriage at the forefront of your life can be difficult. What you might need is to take a look at this book from Dana Nygaard for 365 sets of questions to ask on a date.

Why this book?

At times, it is hard to think of what to talk about besides the necessary or tedious or mundane. Dana had put together questions that vary from fun to serious to silly that you can ask each other on your date. And “date” is loosely defined here. It can be a walk, a drive, dinner, or quiet time at home when the rest of the house is sleeping.

Each date has 3 questions: Ready, a warm-up; Set – while you are on your date, deep but can still be talked about in public and then Go – this is the time for privacy as you go into the topic more deeply. Prayer is also included, to be used individually and together.

Who is this for?

Any couple who wants to know and learn more about each other.  You can purchase the book on Dana’s website, follow her on Facebook and Instagram too!

Dana has a great challenge for us this week. She says, “protect your marriage by intentionally pursuing your spouse on date nights.”

Stay in the Not Lukewarm loop by signing up for our newsletter.

All in with your spiritual life

What does ‘not lukewarm’ mean?

To me, it means being all in, first with my spiritual life so then, the rest of life will follow. Life will never be perfect, but when grounded in faith, especially prayer and scripture, we all stand a better chance of dealing with life.

Scripture points

but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20:6″The person who is trustworthy in very small matters is also trustworthy in great ones; and the person who is dishonest in very small matters is also dishonest in great ones.” Luke 16:19

“But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No,” that you may not incur condemnation.” James 5:12

A plan helps

As boring as it may sound, a plan helps. Commit to specific times to do certain things. And once you have made the commitment, stick with it. Don’t allow laziness or inertia to stop you. You have God on your side!

Not Lukewarm Challenge

Make a plan for your spiritual life. Contact me if you’d like to discuss some ideas or have a conversation.

 

 

And don’t forget, sign up for my email newsletter to stay up to date with Live NotLukewarm!.

You are valuable

It’s easy to get sucked in

New Year’s resolutions, goals, plans — good, especially if they work for you. What’s not good is coming away with the thought that you have to change because you are not enough or not quite up to the world’s standards. We are bombarded with messages of do it this way, be better, stronger, eat this, drink caffeine, don’t drink caffeine.  Every day it seems, what is the best way changes.

What isn’t going to change – GOD

He does not change. And His word stays and is true. In Jeremiah 1:4-10, God speaks to Jeremiah and class him to be an oracle, a prophet. His prophet. God says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you…I dedicated you, a prophet…I appointed you.”

God does the same for each of us.

We are valuable

It can be easy to forget that our worth lies with Him who made us. God is calling us
to do away with whatever stops us from building and planting. It may not be quick or easy, but we can do it with his help.

Hold on to the truth that you are valuable to God because he created you!

Pray this week with Jeremiah 1:4-10. Ask God to reveal to you your value from His eyes.

And don’t forget, sign up for my email newsletter to stay up to date with Live NotLukewarm!.

 

Prioritize, 2022

A New Year

Each year we have the opportunity to begin something new. And while many people take stock of their life in the new year, it can be done at any time. This episode is a fun one as my husband joins me in a conversation about our word for the year and goals.

Word of the Year

There are different sites where you can randomly pick a word for the year. This one does not require any login or email from you, so give it a try. Or, as you make your goals for the year and pray, a word may come to you. That is usually my method, though I use the website one for fun! Our word for this year is “Prioritize.”

A few of our goals

We both want to read the Bible in a year. Deacon John will also read 15 minutes a day and I want to read 1 business book a month.

A goal that has been in the works since 2020 for me is to complete my spiritual direction training. God willing, that will be done by the end of January! Writing another book is on my list again. A new one is to have a reactive day once a month where I can spend time sewing, crafting or some other creative work.

Why not come with a word for yourself and/or set some goals for 2022? I’d love to hear your words and why/how you’ll apply it in your life.

And don’t forget, sign up for my email newsletter to stay up to date with Live NotLukewarm!.

The Best Episodes of 2021

Quite a year

Our year began with an episode that encouraged us to begin a spiritual makeover by “Changing our Hearts.” 

Later in the year, I talked about Rhythm, Routines and Habits, a good one to listen to as you begin planning for a new year, be it in your personal or professional life.

I hope that as we talked about prayer, scripture and books that all of our hearts and souls turned toward God and are now more closer to him and Jesus.

 

Prayer Episodes

The topic of prayer resonates with you.  Prayers of Gratitude and Surrender was a conversation with my friend Erin McCole Cupp. We talked about how the practice of focusing on gratitude helps us as we deal with problems in life.  You also like to pray with your spouse, something that is always helpful in my own marriage.

And the books!

Author interviews are a great way to meet new people and figure out what to read next. Barbara Lee, author of Answering God’s Call, a Scripture Based Journey for Older Adults; Whisper: Finding God in the Everyday by Danielle Bean and then first-time author Christy Wilkens book, Awakening at Lourdes were all favorites.

Don’t forget

I’ll be back in 2022 with more episodes on not lukewarm living. If you have any topics, questions or comments,  please leave a comment here.

Listen to one of the podcasts mentioned above, leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts, or sign up for the Live Not Lukewarm newsletter. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This

Faith, Present, Future

Our Three Quotes

“Faith is the fundamental response to the love that has offered itself up for me.”         Fr. Hans von Balthasar

 “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1

“It is because of faith that we exchange the present for the future. ” St. Fediles 

The Incarnation

Our faith begins when we accept that God did send his Son in the form of a newborn baby to begin the way to our salvation. Our view then, can be on the future, not to the exclusion of taking care of life in this world but with the perspective that this world is not what is most important.

As St. Fidelis says, we exchange the present for the future, embracing what is to come. Knowing that when Jesus comes again we will have the truth, beauty and goodness faith offers us.

 

When you need a boost in leaning more on your faith this week, call on the Holy Spirit to lift you up. A simple “Come Holy Spirit, fill and help me” is enough. One deep breath in and out. Be filled with faith!

Sign up for the email newsletter list!

 

 

 

 

What does it cost?

We begin with scripture

“Without cost you have received, without cost you are to give” (Mark 10:8b).

Gratitude. Humility. Thankful. Sacrifice. Share.  These are all words that come to my mind as I read those verses, Mark 10:6-8. And I ponder what I have received without cost. And then it hits me, everything I have I have received without cost. How can I say that? On the surface it does not seem to make sense. I, like most people, regularly trade my time and talents for money; it is called work, career, or ministry. Our talents and time though, are gifts that we received from God Most High.

At the service of others

We can choose to put those at His service and for the good of others. I often find myself at odds with the second part of the verse, “without cost you are to give.” In fact, I can spend lots of time thinking about how much it costs me to give. How much does it cost me to give love, care, concern, kindness, mercy? It costs as much as I want to believe it costs. When I remember that all I have received has been without cost then I can give without counting the cost. But when I start to tally up when I have given and what I want in return, I am not the person God created me to be or the person I want to be. Does that ever happen to you?

Make a list of all that you have received from God! It can include intangibles like faith and hope, people you love, your talents, material goods, where you live. Try not to judge your list. Then, each day, pray for a few people from your list, ask God to help you grow in talent or use material things for His glory.

It is not easy to give without cost but that is what we are asked to do. The Incarnation is the beginning of Jesus giving to us. By virtue of that gift, we receive salvation. My prayer is for us to embrace the gift of salvation that we have received and share it with others by the way we live our lives without counting the cost.

Say Yes, Don’t Hesitate with God

Mary’s Yes

“Mary said, Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Luke 1:38

And at that moment the Incarnation began. Mary did not hesitate.

In The Reed of God, Caryll Houselander describes that trust of Mary’s yes.

We too can have that trust which will free us of so many worldly concerns and distractions.

My goal

To stop hesitating. I find myself questioning, wondering, are you sure God, do you really mean me, Lord?  I don’t want to change my plans or look foolish. Does my to-do list control my day or does God? When God asks, when I make a promise – I want to follow through, all the time. I want to stop hesitating.

This week, when you feel the prompting of God, do it. Don’t hesitate. And if you have made a decision to do something specific every day, do it. Don’t put it off. Honor your promise, made to yourself or others or  God.


Sign up for my email newsletter and learn 4 Ways to Pray with Scriptures!

 

 

 

 

 

Be Brave, Spread Light

Catherine of Siena

“Start being brave about everything, driving out darkness and spreading light as well. Don’t look at your weakness, but realize that in Christ crucified you can do everything.” 

Shift your focus

It’s so easy when we are feeling all of our weaknesses that we dwell there and go down a rabbit hole of all the things we don’t have. Catherine suggests we drive out darkness and spread light. To me, it means shifting our focus from self to others. Spread the light of Jesus that is within you by virtue of your baptism.

Lean on Christ

Turn to Jesus when you need to be brave. He wants to help us.

This week, consider spreading light. Each day, do some small task that will help someone else. Be an inspiration with a kind word, a song, an action that you can share with another person.

Want to live more not lukewarm?

Sign up to join our Advent Book club. Or join the Live NotLukewarm email list for a new prayer series on praying with scripture.

Does God have footprints?

This post and podcast was done in collaboration with my husband, Deacon John; hope you enjoy it.

God the Father in heaven sent His Son to us here on earth as a manifestation of His merciful love for us. By the Holy Spirit, Jesus was incarnate of the Virgin Mary. He left actual footprints where He walked here on earth because he was a physical being.

God the Father, on the other hand, is our spiritual Father in heaven and does not make footprints. Or does He?

What is a footprint?

An online dictionary has a few definitions of footprint, one of which is: “a unique set of characteristics, actions, etc. that leave a trace and serve as a means of identification.” So this made me think that WE are God’s footprint. All of us. In everything we do or say we leave a trace. And this trace is visible and seen by those we meet in our everyday life. People are watching. People are listening. And I don’t mean in a spy sort of way. But people just can’t help seeing and hearing others as they act and talk.

Be an example

And since people do watch and listen we must be great examples of Christians living the Christian way of life. That is why we are here. We are made in the image and likeness of God and we need to be shining examples of that to everyone. My favorite gospel verse is the quote in John 2:5. The Blessed Virgin Mary and Jesus along with many others are at the wedding feast in Cana. Mary notices the wine is running out and suggests Jesus can help. She tells the servers to “do whatever he tells you.” This is great advice to us as to how to live our lives. Do whatever Jesus tells us to do. And Jesus speaks to us the Gospels. He is the greatest example as to how to live for the glory of God.

We do well to live our life as an example to others as Jesus Christ is an example to us. And that will be our challenge this week!

Awakening at Lourdes: How an Unanswered Prayer Healed our Family and Restored our Faith

Meet Christy Wilkens

She is a wife and mother of six, is a speaker and writer who lives outside Austin, TX. She blogs at FaithfulNotSuccessful.com about disability, faith, doubt, suffering, community, and good reads. Her first book, Awakening at Lourdes: How an Unanswered Prayer Healed Our Family and Restored Our Faith, a memoir about a pilgrimage with her husband and son, was just published by Ave Maria Press. She’s a Dame of Magistral Grace in the Order of Malta and just started pursuing a second career in nursing.

Control for Vulnerability

Christy spent hours in prayer, trying to “wrestle a healing from God” for her son Oscar. What mother wouldn’t do the same when medical doctors have no answers to help your son. Going to the baths at Lourdes was a gift and place of healing not only for Oscar but for Christy and Todd and the whole family. It was in the surrender that, that listening to God’s whispers, that she was able to see the small yet powerful changes in Oscar. And, then, she was able to “trade control for vulnerability” (pg 174) and receive what God was offering.

A full life

6 children, a husband and going to nursing school full time is more than a full life. However, those facts don’t capture all of life; the death of parents, illness, school and the usual happenings that go on with children, special needs or not. It is a full life, and one that Christy lives each day and when the days or moments are difficult and answers not forthcoming, she prays these words, “Whatever you want, Jesus, ” similar to Blessed Chiara Badano. 

Where does this leave us?

As I see Christy on social media, she inspires me. She is quick to point out, that it is God who works through her. It is all for his glory.

Christy is on Instagram, 

Here’s her website!

This week, when life seems overly full, pray this prayer: “Whatever you want, Jesus.”

 

 

 

 

The Struggle is Good

No one likes struggles

However, in our world they are inevitable. I do believe they can help us tough, in becoming the person God created. If we learn from our struggles, we have confidence that God will be there with us the next time.

God’s Word

“So then you are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God,built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone.Through him the whole structure is held together and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord;in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22

Reflection

We are being built into a dwelling place for God in the Spirit. God will dwell in us, through the power of his Spirit with his Son. We are held together by his Son. Isn’t that the truth?  When we look back at our struggles we see how God was present. It may have been through the Word, others, prayers, the sacraments – he was there.  And then, what did we learn by going through the struggle?

That is our challenge for this week. Look back, on yesterday, last week, month, year – to a struggle that you survived and hopefully learned from. Where was God? What did you learn about him and yourself? Write it out. Remember it for the next time.

Enjoy this content, sign up for the Live Not Lukewarm newsletter.

 

At Your Command

Who do you listen to?

There are many voices in the world who clamor for our attention and think they can guide us on the best path. Ultimately, though, only God wants what is best for us and will be with us always. In Luke 5:1-11, Jesus calls Simon (Peter) to follow him. But first, Jesus asks him to throw his net over and catch fish. Peter is tired and thinks it is pointless, but obeys Jesus nonetheless.

Lack of human potential vs divine fulfillment

And what happens next shows us that when we think we are lacking, obedience will bring divine fulfillment. And not a little bit, but an abundance. Now, this may not happen immediately as it does here in this story, but eventually, it will happen.

The other places we see this in Luke are in Luke chapter 1, specifically verses 1:34-37. We are told that “nothing is impossible for God.”

God will not leave us

Whenever God calls us, we may doubt or think he has the wrong person. Let’s try not to doubt God’s plan, remembering that whatever he calls you to he will stay with you, as you persevere, to the end.

Get into your bible this week and read Luke chapter 1, a little each day or Luke 5:1-10. How do these scriptures remind you that God will lead you and stay with you always? Is he calling you to something new? How will you respond?

Want to learn more about the Gospel of Luke? Go to LiveNotluewarm and check out our study.

Take Courage

Courage!

Do we have courage or are we more like the Cowardly Lion? I’d say there are many times when I am like him and other times not. Life can be difficult and courage helps us stand up for what we believe, overcome mental, emotional and physical pain.

Scripture

Of course, I’d rather God inform my idea of courage rather than the Cowardly Lion from the Wizard of Oz. And as always, God has something to say!

In this world, you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world. John 16:33

The LORD himself will fight for you; you have only to keep still. Exodus 14:14

Choose one of those verses, write it on a post-it note or print out the image and whenever you find yourself lacking courage, pray it.

John 16:33Exodus 14:14

New Book – Saintly Moms, 25 Stories of Holiness

New Book

My best life includes a steady supply of books and time to read them. How about you? This week I spoke with Kelly Ann Guest, the author of Saintly Moms, 25 Stories of Holiness published by Our Sunday Visitor.

 

Who are these Saintly Moms?

25 women, from the Blessed Mother to Saint Gianna Molla, women who embody real-life challenges with love and joy, becoming the holy women we are all called to become.

Kelly chose 25 saints, including a few on the road to sainthood, and tells us their story in a few short pages. each saint is meant to inspire us in the way they moved beyond the trials of their life to be holy. Kelly writes in a style that both teaches and inspires, reminding us that we too can be holy.

Each chapter opens with facts about the saint and closes with a prayer. Moms at all stages of motherhood will enjoy this book. I loved learning about new saints.

Prayer is the commonality in all these women saints, so take time each day to pray. Start with 5 minutes and go from there. If you already have a prayer practice, add to it. You won’t regret prayer!

Where else can you find Kelly Guest?

Her website: Nun2Nine.com

 

Practical Tips on Being Kind

Kindness is good

The world can always use another person to spread kindness. Why shouldn’t it be you? I know it’s not always easy, let’s face it – you’ve got just as much going on as the next person. How can you be kind when it’s not easy or you’d rather treat the person the way they are treating others?

3 tips on how to be kind

  • Remember this: we don’t know what burdens other people are carrying.
  • Avoid the mentality that says you give back what you get.
  • Say or do the kind thing when people are unkind, it often disarms them and hopefully makes them think.

What if you don’t have it in you

  • Take a long pause before you respond to negativity and consider not responding at all if you know what you will say is not kind.
  • Take a break and refill however is most helpful to you. Take a walk, grab a drink with a friend, pray, read a fun book, sit in silence, play in the leaves, snow, sand (depends on the season and where you live).

This may be a bit (ahem, okay, very) obvious, but be kind to others this week, especially to those who are unkind to you or others.


 

A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Courageous Movie

 

From the Kendrick Brothers, creators of the No. 1 box-office movie WAR ROOM and OVERCOMER, comes the remastered re-release of COURAGEOUS Legacy, in theaters September 24. Celebrating 10 years of impact on families and fathers, this updated version of the film includes new scenes and an enhanced look and sound.

Filled with action-packed drama, COURAGEOUS Legacy will once again have viewers laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That’s courageous.

Check out the trailer here!


Prayers of Gratitude & Surrender

Praying

What does it mean to pray? And is there a right or wrong way to pray? Simply put, prayer is talking to God. It is sitting with the One who made you and listening to what he has to say as well as telling him your thoughts. Often though, we forget to say thanks or think there is one ‘right way to pray.

Practice Gratitude

When we focus on what we have been given, it helps us realize the gifts in our lives.

Surrender

Let God be God. Allow him to be in charge.

Chaplet of Gratitude and Surrender

Erin came up with this prayer at Mass one weekend. A group of us come together Thursday mornings at 8am (EST) on Clubhouse to pray. It is a wonderful way to pray with others and offer our thanks to God. Follow Erin and me on Clubhouse.

More information

Erin on Instagram

Her website, where you can learn about her book!

My previous podcast with Erin McCole Cupp on her book, All Things New: Breaking the Cycyle & Raising a Joyful Family

 


 

A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Courageous Movie

 

From the Kendrick Brothers, creators of the No. 1 box-office movie WAR ROOM and OVERCOMER, comes the remastered re-release of COURAGEOUS Legacy, in theaters September 24. Celebrating 10 years of impact on families and fathers, this updated version of the film includes new scenes and an enhanced look and sound.

Filled with action-packed drama, COURAGEOUS Legacy will once again have viewers laughing, crying, and cheering as they are challenged and inspired by everyday heroes who long to be the kinds of dads that make a lifelong impact on their children. Protecting the streets is second nature to these men. Raising their children in a God-honoring way? That’s courageous.

Check out the trailer here!


Rhythm, Routine & Habits

Sounds a bit boring?

Rhythm, routines and habits sound a bit boring, isn’t the fun in life unplanned and spontaneous. Yes and no.  I like having a rhythm and routine in my life and habits make life easier, so you make fewer decisions all day long.

 

Plan my day

I find when I plan my day I get more done, have more energy, feel more creative and have more time for fun. But lately, I’ve not been doing it and life has been a jumble, not flowing very smoothly at all.

Some people who’ve helped me

I like James Clear, author of Atomic Habits; Gretchen Rubin, an NYT best-selling author and podcaster; Gary Keller and Jay Patapan, authors of The One Thing.

Create some routines for your day that will help you live a notlukewarm life more easily. It can be to start a new habit, plan your day to include some fun or add prayer time. Do something that will be of benefit to your life as it is right now!

Join me on September 20-23 for 4 ways to pray with scripture! You can sign up here.

 

 


A Special Thank You to Our Network Sponsor:  Show Me The Father Movie

The Kendrick Brothers, creators of WAR ROOM and FIREPROOF, have some exciting news to share: they have TWO films coming to theaters this fall—SHOW ME THE FATHER on September 10 and COURAGEOUS Legacy on September 24.

Featuring a variety of amazing, true stories, the Kendrick Brothers’ new feature film SHOW ME THE FATHER takes audiences on an inspiring and emotional cinematic journey. Their first documentary film has something for everyone and invites you to think differently about how you view your earthly father story and also how you personally relate to God.

Check out the trailer here!


 

4 ways to pray with your spouse

Why pray with your spouse?

Jesus tells us in Matthew 18:19-20, Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” Praying with your spouse leads to greater unity, that is communion, which is what Jesus calls us to, with each and him.

4 ways to pray with your spouse

  1. You can pray rote prayers of the Church; the Rosary, Novenas for a special intention, go to Mass together
  2. Short prayers of gratitude and intercessions
  3. pray with the scriptures
  4. pray specifically for each other’s needs before you leave for the day

Some links for more information

This week I encourage you to pray with your spouse or a close friend in one of the ways suggested!

Answering God’s Call

Hits all the high points!

Talking with Barbara Lee reminded me why Ignatian Spirituality is so important. It is relatable, easy to approach and helpful as you go through life, no matter what age or stage you are in.

A Way to Pray

Answering God’s Call: A Scripture Based Journey for Older Adults by Barbara Lee, published by Loyola PRess is for all of us who want to pray with scripture and have had life experiences that have pushed us out in=to the deep. Maybe we’ve wondered where God is in the difficulties, trials and changes of life? Wonder no more, pick up this book that contains the scripture passages to read and ponder, prayer starters and a reflection. It is truly an all-in-one book in that whatever you’ll need for your prayer time is right there.

 

Ask for the grace

A quote

“Grace is not a strange, magic substance which is subtly filtered into our souls to act as a kind of spiritual penicillin. Grace is unity, oneness within ourselves, oneness with God.” Thomas Merton

Different Graces

There are different types of grace, for different purposes; but all come from God and are gifts given to us to help us in our life. Our focus this week is on actual grace, the help we need right now so whatever difficulty or struggle is taken care of with God’s help. Grace is what makes the impossible, possible.

More thoughts on grace

We cannot store up actual grace; we receive what we need when we need it. Like the manna in the desert, we are given what we need and trust God will provide.

For more information about grace, check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1996-2005.

This week, when you are faced with a challenge you don’t know how you will face, pray for grace. Allow God to act in and through you with his gift of grace.

 

Meet Melanie Rigney, Author

Meet Melanie Rigney

Melanie is an author of three great books, Sisterhood of Saints; Radical Saints and Menopause Moments. Our interview focused mainly on Menopause Moments, published by Twenty-Third Publications.  She also writes for Living Faith, Catholic Update and Viva Mercy.

Why this journal?

Aging and change are a part of life. Menopause is inevitable and yet often ignored. Instead of fighting it, look at it as a time of spiritual growth as we do other life challenges.

The journal is a tool to look at the changes in our bodies and offer them up in prayer and reflection. As I said in the episode, I laughed many times while reading the reflection Melanie wrote.

What’s inside the book?

39 reflections, scripture verses, and prayer prompts with room to write a few lines of your own. There is also a suggested action to take for the topic covered. All of this is on 2 facing pages!

Find out more about all of Melanie’s work on her website, Rejoice! Be Glad!

Follow her on Instagram 

When you are struggling, remember that God is with you, as it says in Exodus 3:12, “I will be with you.”

 

A New Women’s Devotional, Called by Name

What’s different?

Let’s be honest, there are so many devotionals that it can be hard to choose.

 

What makes this new devotional, Called by Name from Women in the New Evangelization edited by Kelly M. Wahlquist, Allison Gingras and Alyssa Bormes different? First, there are new voices; second, the daily devotions are brief yet powerful; third, it suggests do-able ways to take what you have reflected on and bring it to the world.

Each Day

Each daily page, yes, one page for each day, includes a scripture verse or two, a 300-word reflection, a prayer and a response. You are invited to journal on your scripture with the companion journal which guides you through Lectio Divina, a timeless way to engage with scripture. The journal is not dated, so if you miss a day or two months, it’s okay, you won’t have empty pages staring at you between the times you journal.

What is in the bundle and where can I get it?

The Called by Name bundle includes the book of 366 daily devotionals, a journal, journal stickers, prayer bookmark, and a Called by Name sticker at Women in the New Evangelization.

Allison has a great love of scripture, journaling and books! You can follow her on her website,  Reconciled to You, where you’ll find out all about the wonderful work she is doing.

Her challenge is this, spend 5 minutes a day journaling after reading scripture. You may find it a big help in your spiritual life.

 

 

The Spiritual Exercises

Who is St. Ignatius?

Ignatius was born in Spain in 1491 and at 16 began serving at court and enjoying the good life of romance, fine clothes and gambling. He joined the army and in a battle in 1521 was struck by a cannonball to the knee and the trajectory of his life changed.

500 Years

This year is the 500th anniversary of that event and of Ignatius’ conversion to be of and in the world to a man who wanted to serve God alone.

Recovery and Conversion

During his recovery, he read the lives of saints and The Life of Christ. He realized he could live for the world or live for God. He chose God.

For me, the Spiritual Exercises were a turning point in my spiritual journey. They have helped me detach and learn to focus on what is important, turning away from the things that take my focus off God.

Read the quote from St. Igantius and think about how you are doing in praising, reverencing and serving God.

For a list of books on the Spiritual Exercises, click here.

 

 

Fun Summer Fiction Reads with Karina Fabian

Unexpected!

Karina Fabian loves to write speculative fiction, fantasy, science fiction and horror stories. She reminds us that God gave us our imagination, it is a sacred gift for us to use to create something wonderful. Do you expect to see nuns in space? Or a gumshoe dragon named Vern?

The beginnings

While dating her husband, both in the military, they traded puns on their dates. And then stories followed. So Karina wrote, starting in 1993 and then getting more serious about it in 1997. How serious, well she has over 20 novels and is a part of numerous anthologies.

What’s going on now?

Karina has written journals so you can try your hand at writing. Her website, FabianSpace, has all of her books, published by Laser Cow Press. There is also a blog page with chapters of her latest work. Take a look, she has an amazing imagination and style!

Read a book that is outside your typical style or genre. Read something just for the fun of it!

Essential Worship Questions

Who needs worship?

Is it God or us? God does not need our worship. We need to worship him. It makes us more inclined to give him honor and reverence and awe. It reminds us to love God above all other people and things.

What are we to worship?

We are meant to worship the creator, not the created. Romans 1:28 says, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshiped the creature rather than the creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.”

How are we to worship?

We are meant to come and worship God filled with the SPirit and honestly, not trying to hide anything from him. John 4:4 says, “God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and truth.”

 

Ask yourself the question, how am I going or entering into worship? If there have blocks or things you are trying to keep hidden, ask God to remove them so you can be free in your worship of him.

Spotify Playlist

 

 

 

All Things New: Breaking the Cycle & Raising a Joyful Family

A new Book by Erin McCole Cupp

It is always a pleasure to talk to people I have gotten to know from their writing and social media. I’ve read Erin’s blog and known her work for some time. I was excited to learn about her new book, All Things New: Breaking the Cycle & Raising a Joyful Family published by Our Sunday Visitor.

What is the book about?

Through the framework of the Greatest Commandments and the Beatitudes, Erin tells us how we can have a joyful life, even when our own childhood was less than ideal. She draws on her own and other people’s experiences to show how it’s possible.

Erin wants readers to know that they have the freedom to choose a different path and that it’s possible to break the cycle of abuse and dysfunction.

Keep up with Erin

If you don’t have TikTok, follow her on Instagram for sure!

Finding Sanctuary, How the Wild Work of Peace Restored the Heart of a Sandy Hook Mother

Restoration and Healing

People often wonder, when terrible things happen, how those involved recover. How do they find their way back to wholeness? This book, Finding Sanctuary, How the Wild Work of Peace Restored the Heart of a Sandy Hook Mother by Jennifer Hubbard, published by Ave Maria Press, is the story of just that, wholeness after a tragedy.

Amazing Conversation

I cannot synthesize my conversation with Jenny into a few points. I can tell you that speaking with her reinforced what I took away from in reading her book. She is quick to point out that her tragedies and trials are not greater than anyone else’s.

Grief

There is no one way to grieve. Trust in God, he knows what we need in the process of grieving and will provide. Jenny reminds us that there is beauty and growth in our trials and to be true and real with God. Don’t hide from him.

We didn’t have a challenge specifically, but Jenny talked about praying for eyes to see and ears to hear. I think that is good prayer for this week!

How do we care for the marginalized?

A new book

Love and Care for the Marginalized, 40 Meditations, Spiritual Outreach Reflections for Catholics by Anne DeSantis is about learning to be kind and loving disciples of Jesus. That’s it. These meditations include a quote, a reflection, a prayer and a call to action. It is not enough to know what we are called to do, but that we act as Christians.

Who is quoted?

Scriptures, saints, and world leaders all have a place in learning to listen, love and care for those in our daily life. This is not about searching for the marginalized, but rather seeing them right in front of you.

What is needed today?

Active, compassionate listening. Treating the people we encounter as Jesus did and would. Caring about others. Living out the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.

About Anne and her new book

Learn more about Anne at her website, You can check out her new book, published by Charis Books and now available for purchase!

This week, when you are interrupted, stop what you’re doing and be present, listening with your heart to what the other wants you to hear.

 

 

Meet Lara Patangan, author of Simple Mercies

What did you do when you turned 40?

Lara Patangan wanted to mark the milestone with a year of mercy. She decided to embrace the corporal and spiritual works of mercy by doing them all year long. And what began as an experiment of sorts became a turning point in her faith life.

What are works of mercy?

Without writing a theological treatise, it is a set of Corporal (related to the body) and Spiritual (related to the soul) works that the Catholic Church asks us to do in our daily lives. They are based on Matthew 25. Some examples are: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit the imprisoned, bury the dead and comfort the sorrowful.

What did Lara learn?

God is a giver of extravagant mercy and he really, really loves us all. At times, our service to others may seem mundane, but it all matters and makes a difference.

Her book, Simple Mercies: How the Works of Mercy bring Peace and Fulfilment published by Our Sunday Visitor is meant to inspire and encourage others to live out their faith every day by sharing God’s mercy with the people we encounter.

Lara suggests we practice giving one act of mercy towards someone else today and receiving one act of mercy from someone else today.

Follow Lara Patagan on Facebook, Instagram, and go to her website to download a free study guide for her book.

 

 

 

 

 

What are the Works of Mercy?

Works of Mercy

How can we serve others? The Church talks about the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy, a means of helping those around you in very real and tangible ways.

Here are 2 images that break it down for you

 

 

 

 

 

When you look at these lists and explanations and ideas, what tugs at you? Consider thinking about you can serve in one of these areas on a regular basis.

 

 

Meet Erin Whalen from Compassionate Coaching

Tired of feeling weary?

Do you ever feel like no matter what you do it is not enough? You are not just tired but weary of trying to do all the things for all the people. Enter Erin Whalen, a life coach who wants to help you go from weariness to hope. Erin journeys with women who want to stop focusing on all the doing and want to stop and listen to God’s call.

Why hope?

Our hope, as Christians, is in the name of the Lord. Hope appears in the bible over 200 times. Without hope, we can forget what God has written on our hearts. Erin seeks to serve women both in small groups and one-on-one coaching to learn our value and worth as a person created by God in his image and likeness.

New Group forming

“Do Justice” is a group being formed to help women look at how they can face real-life issues and brokenness in our world. It can be overwhelming when we see the great injustices around us; we may think we are powerless. To learn more, check out this website. 

 

I forgot to ask Erin before we started talking,  but she came through the perfect challenge: spend 5 minutes, resting in the Lord. Nothing fancy. But very powerful. Try it and let me know how it goes.

Where to find Erin

Instagram, Facebook, Website 

 

Embrace Uncomfortable?

Do you like being comfortable?

I do. In the spiritual life though, comfortable can mean stagnant. Or stuck. Not moving toward greatness.

Two quotes

“The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”  Pope Benedict XVI

“If you are always comfortable, nothing really happens, nothing changes. Embrace uncomfortable.” Me, as in, I said that!

Why be uncomfortable?

I think sometimes we need to be uncomfortable so we can grow and change. God really does call us to greatness, not mediocrity.  If you feel a tug toward change because you have become complacent or want to grow closer to God, pay attention.

This week, if you sense a pull from the Holy Spirit, pray this prayer each day, The Litany of Trust.

Sign up in May for the Live Not Lukewarm newsletter and you will have a chance to win one month’s memberhsip free!

 

The Prayer of Silence

What is prayer?

Prayer is time with God. A conversation. A lifting of our mind and heart to him.

There are different types of prayer

We can pray with others or by ourselves. There are vocal prayers, often those we have memorized. We can pray those aloud or inside our mind, but there are words involved either way.

Contemplative prayer is quiet. There are not many words.

How to pray in silence?

Put yourself in a quiet place, free of distractions.

Close your eyes and ask the Lord to be present with you.

Breathe. In your mind, picture God looking at you or open your eyes and look at an image that focuses you.

Tell God briefly what is on your mind.

And then sit quietly, if thoughts come to mind, let them go.

When you are done, thank God for his presence.

You may come away with answers or a sense of peace. Answers may come at another time. Try not to worry if you are doing it right, know that any time we give to God like this helps us become the person he created.

Try contemplative prayer this week. Start with 10 minutes a day and see what happens.

 

Whisper: Finding God in the Everyday

Meet Danielle

Danielle Bean is brand manager at CatholicMom.com, an apostolate of Holy Cross Family Ministries. She is creator and host of the Girlfriends podcast and co-host of The Gist on CatholicTV. Danielle is also author of several books including Momnipotent, You Are Enough, and Giving Thanks and Letting Go. She is a retreat leader and a popular speaker on a variety of subjects related to Catholic family life, education, marriage, and motherhood. Danielle has been married to her husband Dan for 26 years and together they have 8 children.

A New Book

Whisper: Finding God in the Everyday by Danielle Bean is from Ascension Press. This book reminds us that God is with us in all that we do each day. This book is not for women only, it speaks to all of those who are on a journey of faith.

Two favorite parts of the book are the scripture verses for each chapter that you can pray with and ponder. There are also prayers included from the rich treasures of our faith, prayers from saints such as Ignatius and Augustine as well as current prayers, such as the Litany of Trust from the Sisiters of Life.

Where you can find Whisper and Danielle

Pre-order Whisper and get the Companion Journal!

DanielleBean.com

Catholicmom.com

Twitter: @DanielleBean

Instagram: @daniellebean

Spend time this week recalling when you have seen God in your life. Write down those times and when we feel alone, go back and be reminded that God is always with you!

A new book: Hearts Burning within Us

Meet the authors

Anne DeSantis and Bill Synder are the people who worked together along with other contributors and college students to put together this unique book. Why do Is ay unique? Because the questions are not what they think college students need to know about but are actual questions from students!

Bill is the founder of Patchwork Heart Ministry. He is a passionate Catholic with a lively faith. For over a dozen years he has been an active member and leader in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and holds bachelor’s degrees in both Theology/Religious Studies and TV/Radio Production from the University of Scranton, PA. As a youth minister, servant leader, teacher and dynamic speaker he harnesses the energy of young Catholics, guiding them into a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ and challenges them to be bold witnesses to the Catholic Faith.

Anne is Anne DeSantis is a wife, mom and the director of a non-profit called the St. Raymond
Nonnatus Foundation for Freedom, Family, and Faith. She is a Catholic Author
and hosts a weekly podcast with co-host Bill called “Sewing Hope” and a weekly on-line TV show called “Journeys in Faith with Anne DeSantis” on Fiat Ministry Network.

What’s the purpose of the book?

To give answers to questions that are relevant to upper high and college students about how faith and life intersect. The goal of the book is to speak with truth, clarity and charity about the truth of Catholicism.

Who is the book for?

Graduating high school seniors, whether they’re attending college or not; parents and grandparents who want to be able to answer questions in a relatable way; youth and young adult ministers; campus ministers. Keep in mind, the book is not meant to be read cover to cover, but rather, as questions come up, use the book to learn the answers and as a springboard for discussion.

Links to everything we mentioned in the episode!

Preorder the book here

Follow Anne on her website, Facebook; Patchwork Heart Ministry on YouTube;

Sewing Hope on Instagram

We have two options for this episode or if you’re feeling particularly ambitious, do both! Bill invites us to consider doing today one thing you want to do tomorrow. Anne suggests reaching out to the marginalized, do something good for someone who is lonely, depressed, anxious or needs a friend.

A Meditation on John 20

Not quite Easter

Save listening to this for Easter Monday! Deacon John Bartalini, my other half, better half, whichever you prefer, leads us in a guided meditation on John chapter 20. Pause it as you wish to allow yourself time to enter into the scene with Mary Magdalene and the apostles. Imagine you’re right there, looking for Jesus.

 

Happy Easter

Live in the joy that is the Resurrection. Have a blessed Easter!

Meet Mary Lenaburg, Be Bold in the Broken

A new book

It’s no secret that I love books! Interviewing authors is always a chance to learn more about the person behind the words. In Mary Lenaberg’s case, she is just as down-to-earth and honest on paper as in person. As she said, she only has time to be one Mary, no matter where she is or who she is with. In this book, Be Bold in the Broken published by Ave Maria Press Mary talks about how she found “courage and purpose in God’s unconditional love.”

What is the point of the book?

As a speaker, Mary is often asked by women, “who am I and what am I here for?” This book answers that question. We are all unique and unrepeatable people created by God. Mary tells the stories of her mistakes that led her to have the courage to let go, be healed and encourage others on their own journey. She invites, through her words and personal stories, to open the door to the Divine Healer.

Hospitality

Reading this book is like sitting down to coffee with a friend. Mary is honest, vulnerable and funny. Her joy in people is evident as is her heart for serving others.  If you are looking for a good read to help you draw closer to God, healing and wholeness – I highly recommend this book.

Your challenge this week, offer some hospitality to others. Nothing fancy could be tea on the porch or a conversation at church. Extend yourself a little bit, be present to another person.

 

Where to follow Mary

Instagram, Facebook, Website

 

Peter denies, Jesus forgives

What is sin?

Simply put, it is missing the mark. In the Gospels, the story of Peter denying Jesus and then being able to be forgiven by Jesus after the resurrection is such a clear example of how much love Jesus has for each one of us.

Scripture

John 18: 17, 25-27 is where you can find Peter being asked three times if he knows Jesus and three times he denies knowing Our Lord. And then the cock crows and Peter remembers Jesus’ words from the Last Supper.

What a weight that must have been for Peter to carry as he watched Jesus die on the cross, bury him and then wait for his return. Jesus does rise and Peter interacts with him. And then, Jesus asks Peter three times, “Do you love me?” in John 21:15-17.

Sin is gone

Peter is no longer burdened by his denial of Jesus. He can move forward, leading the apostles to spread the Good News. That is what forgiveness does; it gives us the freedom to live the life we are called to live in Christ.

Write a letter to Jesus about your sins. List them, ask for forgiveness, pour out your heart to him and invite him in to take your sin away.

(As always, if you are Catholic, consider confession.)

Get a sample of my Bible study book when you sign up for my emails.

Is it time to repent?

Repentance

True sorrow and a desire to change is the repentance God is asking from us. When we sin, we hurt ourselves, others and our relationship with God. God calls us to look at ourselves with honesty and decide what needs to be changed. Not out of shame, but because we desire to live more fully the life God wants for us.

Scripture

“Before you fall ill, humble yourself; and when you have sinned, show repentance. Do not delay forsaking your sins; do not neglect to do so until you are in distress.” Sirach 18:21

Sins can weigh on us, causing us mental and physical distress. Sirach says avoid those problems by taking care of the sin right away. Yes, we’ll need to be humble but God will not turn us away when we ask for his help.

Metanoia

A change of heart away from sin towards God. True repentance can bring about this metanoia, this change of heart.

God’s fills us

When we rid ourselves of sin we are filled with God’s love, mercy and grace. To me, that is the best reason to confess my sins. I receive something wonderful to take its place!

Spend some quiet time each day looking, with God, at the sin that needs to be removed from your life. Ask for forgiveness, make retribution if possible and pray for help to not sin again.

If you are Catholic, I encourage you to go to confession.

Letters to Women by Chloe Langr

A new book

Letters to Women: Embracing the Femmine Genius in Everyday Life is a collection of letters put together by Chloe Langr. There are 30 letters from different women for different times and seasons of life. Some a specific, letter to those who want to be married or have suffered a miscarriage. Others are more general, women who are suffering or want more joy in their life. Each letter begins with a brief introduction from Chloe and ends with questions for reflection and questions for conversation. The questions would be ideal for a group study.

How did this book come about?

Chloe has a podcast by the same name. She realized that many women have similar struggles and thought it would be interesting to pull together different letters on women’s experiences in different situations and how God spoke to them. Some of the letter authors will be familiar names while others not. But each letter serves the purpose of speaking to a woman’s heart and helping her embrace her feminine genius.

What is the Feminine Genius?

This is a phrase used by St. John Paul II in his Letter to Women before the Fourth World Conference on Women in 1995. He used the phrase but did not define it. He did give some characteristics though, such as receptivity, density, generosity and maternity. There is no one way to live out the feminine genius. Rather, it the unique way you are put together by God to live as a woman in this time and place.

Who is this for?

All women! I read the letter about Surrender. It was written by a woman who could be my daughter. It resonated with me. I encourage you to take a look at this book for all the women in your life.

It is published by Tan Books.

Chloe offered a great challenge: spend just a few minutes in silence (maybe during lunch time or early in the morning) to simply exist with God, entering into a time of prayer with Him without an agenda, but simply to be present.

Other places to find Chloe Langr

Instagram

Facebook

 

Is Lent a time of sacrifice or action?

What is Lent?

Lent is 40 days before Easter, it begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on the Wednesday before Holy Thursday. It is a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving; a way to prepare ourselves for the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Sacrifice or Action?

I say both! Give up something and then do something. But it’s not only me saying this, God does too! Check out Isaiah 58:1-9a.

 

Yes, Lent has already started but it’s never too late to enter into the season. For this week, choose a sacrifice and an action for the rest of Lent.

FYI: I have a playlist for Lent on Spotify.

Sign up for the Live Notlukewarm Newsletter here and get a sample of my bible study on the Fruit of the Spirit.

God’s love for you

The 1st Commandment

Then God spoke all these words: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall not have other gods beside me. You shall not make for yourself an idol or a likeness of anything in the heavens above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth;  you shall not bow down before them or serve them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God, inflicting punishment for their ancestors’ wickedness on the children of those who hate me, down to the third and fourth generation, but showing love down to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.               Exodus 20:1-6

We are the apple of his eye

God has, in one way or another, brought us all out of slavery, just as he did the Israelites. His love for us knows no bounds. And when we put him first, he gives us unending mercy.
In chapter 32 of Deuteronomy Moses recounts all God has done and in verse 10 says,  He found them in a wilderness, a wasteland of howling desert. He shielded them, cared for them, guarded them as the apple of his eye.” 

We are his children

Not only did God give us Jesus for our salvation, we are his adopted children. John reminds us of that, ” See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are. The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed. We do know that when it is revealed we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is” 1 John 3:1-2.

 

 

Read the 1st commandment and consider if you have things or people or activities that come before God. Do you want to change that? How could you do that?

Lenten Retreat

You can register and learn more here.

 

 

 

What’s your passion?

What kind of passion am I talking about?

I’m talking about the kind of passion that propels your life in a positive direction, and ideally, of course, toward God and for his glory.

5 things I’m passionate about

  • My faith:
    • specifically Scripture,
    • Sacraments and
    • most especially the Eucharist
  • My family
  • People – getting to know them, serving them, teaching them, being with them

What’s your passion?

What propels you forward? What are the things in your life that drive you and that without, you would be bereft? Do these draw you to or away from God? Others? Yourself?

Find or rediscover your passion. It’s in you, let it out. If we live out the passion God poured into us, we will give him glory.

And if scripture is your passion or you’d like to discover if it could be your passion, join me to learn about the Gospel of Mark. You can join the group at any time. It is a no pressure group of supportive people who love God’s word.

Meet Bishop William Byrne

It was an honor and a pleasure to speak with Bishop Byrne about his priesthood, new appointment as Bishop of Springfield, MA and his new book.

Things to know about Bishop Byrne

He grew up in Washington, D.C. , the youngest of 8 children. When he told his parents his parents he wanted to become a priest his mother encouraged him to work first before entering seminary because she didn’t want a son who “was” a priest. He listened to his mom and taught at school for a time. The call to the priesthood remained though and he responded. He was ordained a priest in 1994. In October of 2020 he received a phone call with the news that Pope Francis had appointed him Bishop. He was ordained and installed as the 10th Bishop of Springfield in December 2020 by Cardinal Sean O’Malley.

How did he come to write a book?

Bishop Byrne’s book, 5 Things with Father Bill: Hope, Humor, and Help for the Soul , published by Loyola Press came out of a video series he did when he was in the Washington D.C. diocese. The series is on YouTube; the videos are short, but have meaningful content.

The book is similar, 50 short chapter, no more than a few pages each with topic ranging from dogs to blessing to gifts to every day life. After a short introduction, Bishop Byrne gives 5 things that can do, pray, think, change that will help in your faith life. All very relatable and helpful.

This was a fun interview and I hope you enjoy it. Follow Bishop Byrne on Instagram. 

For our challenge this week consider writing your own list of 5 things about your faith that you are passionate about. I’ll share mine in the next episode.

Sign up for my scripture reflection or monthly newsletter and get a sample chapter of my bible study.

Unlocking Freedom with Jesus

We live in a fallen world. No news there. We long for something to help us. We often look in many places before coming to the One who can help us. Unbound is a prayer process that can help us rid ourselves of past sins and hurts by others. Even those of us who receive the sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation often hold onto our sins, refusing to forgive ourselves though God has done so.

If after listening to this episode you are interested in learning more, go to the Heart of the Father website. 

There are 5 Keys to Unbound:

  1. Repentance & Faith
  2. Forgiveness
  3. Renunciation
  4. Authority
  5. The Father’s Blessing

All of this is done in the name of Jesus. It is gentle, though it can be emotional. The prayer is driven by the needs of the person coming for prayer. The person leading the prayer and the intercessor are conduits of God’s mercy and healing.

I encourage everyone to look into this prayer, especially if you feel weary and weighed down by life.  Many times, by surrendering past hurts and lies we have believed about ourselves, that burden is lifted. This process is not a substitute for counseling or medical help, rather, it si of help for our soul.

Another good resource is the book, Unbound by Neal Lozano.

Do you have unresolved burdens or sins in your life? Pray. Thank God for all He has already done for you in these areas and then ask if Unbound is something for you. If it is, go to the website to find a group in your area who can pray with you. If you have nay questions or can’t find someone to pray with you, please email me dgbartalini(at)gmail(dot)com.

Get a sample of my Bible study book when you sign up for my emails.

 

Cleansing

What is the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation?

This sacrament forgives our sins, reconciles us to God and his people, and gives us the grace to not sin again. In John 20: 22b-23 Jesus is with the apostles, “he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Where do we start?

First we need to examine our conscience. There are many ways to do this: use the 10 Commandments as a guide, review the past few weeks and months , sit quietly and think of the times you have less than your best.

If you haven’t been in a while, tell the priest. He will talk you through the steps.

It’s important that we have contrition, that is, are sorry for our sins. We also need the desire to amend our ways so we don’t sin again. We say our sins aloud to the priest and then he offers us absolution and gives us a penance.

What do we receive in the sacrament?

Unbelievable grace. Forgiveness. The strength to not sin again.

Those are just a few gifts we receive and that why going to confession is so important and helpful.

If you are Catholic, consider going to receive the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. If you are not Catholic, ask forgiveness of anyone you  have hurt and pray to receive grace to not to it again.

Sign up for the Live NotLukewarm Sunday Scripture Reflections

Faith in difficult times

Why Vn. Pierre Toussaint?

I find his story compelling and an excellent example for our times. In the face of many obstacles he lived a life of holiness and virtue. His faith guided his life.

A  bit about his life

He was born a slave in what is now Haiti in 1766. His master allowed him to be educated by the family tutor which was extremely rare. In 1787 part of the family was sent to New York City due to political unrest. Pierre and his sister were among the slaves who went with the family. In, NYC Pierre trained as a hairdresser and was allowed to keep the money earned. His master died and his family was left almost desittiue. Pierre supoprted the widow for mnay years, until her death. It was then that she finally gave Pierre his freedom. ONce freed, he purcahse his sister’s freedom and his future wife’s.

Once free

Pierre and Juliette married. They had no children of their own but did adopt Pierre’s sister’s daughter when his sister died. Sadly, she died at 14. Faith and discipline is what kept Pierre going. He moved forward, every day, praying and serving those in need, as well as working. He worked long many years, not for himself, but so that he could use his money to  help others.

Charitable works

Juliette and Pierre opened their home to orphans and those on need. Pierre helped St. Elizabeth Ann Seton in her work. He also donated substantial funds towards the building of the first St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC.

There’s so much more about this great man to learn, this episode just scratches the surface but I hope you’ll listen to hear more!

This week consider emulating Vn. Pierre Toussaint’s charity. Choose a charity to help, with your time, resources or prayer and plan a way to help them.

 

External Change

Spiritual Makeover continues…

God calls to us and offers to change our stony hearts for those of flesh. Jesus also calls us to conversion. The Gospels are full of stories which point to Jesus healing and leading people to a relationship with God.

2 Stories

In Mark 2:1-12 we see Jesus healing the paralytic. The man is lowered down from the roof by his friends so he can get to Jesus. And Jesus heals him and then tell him to pick up his mat and go home. He gives him directions, a bit task that allows him to participate in the healing. It is not passive.

And then, The Samaritan Woman at the Well in John chapter 4. Yes, Jesus tells the woman her sins, but then also tells her she can be given life giving water; she slowly comes to realize that this is the Messiah they have been waiting for and tells the other people in town. They to come to believe.

What’s our part?

Jesus calls us for conversion not condemnation. This is important to us for 2 reasons: so we know what he wants of us and to do the same with others. We are called to share the light of Christ with those around us. And the world needs the Light!

Internally we may change, but we need to externally change as well. This is how we lead people to Jesus, by our example, our behavior. So onto the

This week, think and pray about how some of your behaviors might need to change. Is it to stop yelling at your children, spouse or others; remember to spend some time in prayer each day; go back to regular worship with your community – whatever it may be, let’s start having our internal change and external behavior match more closely with each other.

 

A Change of Heart

Happy New Year!

Thoughts often turn to resolutions and changes and how will I solve all problems this year as a new year begins. And while making change can be good and beneficial, we need to care first for our soul.

Turn to God

A few scriptures from the Old Testament that tell us what God wants to do for us:

  • I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. Ezekiel 36:26
  • My dwelling shall be with them; I will be their God, and they will be my people. Ezekiel 37:27
  • And of course, all of Ezekiel 37 about the dry bones, speaks to what GOd can and will do for us if we but call on Him.
  • Yet, Lord, you are our father; we are the clay and you our potter: we are all the work of your hand. Isiah 64:7

God is gentle and wants to help us live a life of abundance, peace and joy. He is mercy, so go to him and ask what in our stony heart needs to go and be replaced by His heart of flesh.

Repentance

Consider too, if you need forgiveness for what you have done wrong. God extends His mercy when we ask for it and then we can extend mercy as well.

Pray about what needs a spiritual makeover in you. Do you need a change of heart?

And I hope you join me again next time, as we look at how Jesus calls us to be made over!

 

 

 

Meet Lisa Mladinich, Life Coach

What’s your strength?

Did you ever wonder what your strengths or gifts or talents are? I have. I’ve also thought about what is the best fit between who I am and what I do in my life. That’s where it can be a big help to learn what your unique strengths are and Lisa Mladinich, a Gallup certified strengths based life coach can help!

Sounds interesting

It is. And very practical, which if you’ve been here, you know is my style. Even more interesting, is the new program Lisa has put together and is offering at no charge.

A Strengths Based Marriage Challenge

Beginning in January, Lisa is forming a book club group using the book, “Strengths-Based Marriage: Build a Stronger Relationship by Understanding Each Other’s Gifts,” by Jimmy Evans and Alan Kelsey. It is a 6-week group that weill meet via Zoom. For more information and to register, go here.  

You’ll learn about your and your spouse’s strengths, Lisa will have some giveaways, and I know if will be an enjoyable way to begin the new year.

Why participate?

I’ve been married 37 years and there are still many times I shake my head and wonder how I can better understand my husband or explain something to him more easily so he’ll understand my point. I don’t want a good marriage, I want an excellent marriage so putting in this investment of time and energy is worth it to me. And my husband, since he’s joining in the challenge.

Learn more

If you’d like to learn more about Lisa, check out her website.

Or follow her in Instagram, Facebook and Parler at @LisaMladinich

This week, consider this from Lisa, “How will I use one of my God-given gifts to bless someone else, today?”

 

 

A Meditation for Christmas

Almost Christmas!

There’s no need for many words. So I offer yo this mediation based on Luke 1. Read it and then give a listen in a quiet, prayerful place. And surprise, it’s not me, it my husband you’ll hear.

A voice for radio

A little story – a few years ago my husband and I were in Italy visiting my family. I was the translator between them and John. One night, my cousin’s husband says, after hearing John talk to me, “he has a voice for radio.” I start cracking up, thinking of the phrase,  you have a face for radio. At any rate, I translate back and forth and we settle the joke and the compliment and move on. But I think about it sometimes, when I hear my husband proclaim the Gospel at Mass. He does so well; sometimes I forget it’s him.

Happy Birthday!

So yes, I celebrate another year this week. Quite close to Christmas. If you join my newsletter list, which is so much more, as you will get access to the Live Not Lukewarm Community and all my courses, I will enter you into a drawing to win a prize.

Merry Christmas!

I hope you have a Merry and Blessed Christmas!

Fiat & Surrender

Mary’s Fiat

Such a simple word that changed the world for all of us. Fiat, yes, I will. It was surrender and trust. Surrender to the world and absolute trust in God. It’s what we all say we want; the idea of total surrender; “thy will be done.” But we are afraid. What will people think? What if I suffer? Or maybe, I’ll suffer, Lord, this way not that.

Mary’s yes was to bring Jesus into the world in an ordinary way after a most extraordinary encounter. She lived an ordinary life, daughter, mother, cousin, wife – in the most radical of ways. In total surrender to God which gave her strength. We may view surrender as weakness, but when we surrender to the One who made us, it is not weakness. We are afraid to surrender because we are locked in our own weakness. We are afraid. “There is only one cure for fear – trust in God.”

The Reed of God by Caryll Houselander

I’m reflecting on the chapter, Fiat. This chapter is full of observations on what Mary said yes to and how she surrendered. It also gives insight into why we struggle with doing the same.

A few quotes:

  • There is only one cure for fear – trust in God.
  • We are afraid for ourselves, but a thousand times more afraid for those we love.
  • God asks for extreme courage in love; the Bride of the Spirit must respond with strength like Hos own strength. Our Lady did this.

 

Find a container of some sort, a box, an envelope, something you can open and close; then some small pieces of paper – now, write down your worries, concerns, struggles, fold them and pout them in the box. Give them to God. Trust and surrender to what he wants the outcome to be, let him deal with it all.

 

Abundance or Scarcity?

It’s an often asked question of people, are you an optimist or pessimist? If we are living as God calls us, then our answer is hopefully, optimist. We have a God of abundance, not scarcity.

What does the Bible say?

I’m going to focus on two passages. From the Old Testament we have the story of manna in the desert, Exodus 16. God gave this food for the people to eat, enough for a day to teach them to trust and rely on him. However, he didn’t give them a small amount, he allowed them to take as much as they wanted as long as they didn’t save it. God provides in abundance for today! And then, in the New Testament is the multiplication of the loaves and fish from Matthew, 15:32-38. The disciples show a bit of hesitancy that they can feed all of these people gathered. But Jesus has none. He takes what is provided, and multiplies is so that there is enough with leftovers.

What does this mean?

God provides us with what we need, when we need it. Jesus shows us time and again with his life that we have been given what we need to live. Whenever we think we have a scarcity, offer that bit to God and see what happens.

Who do we live?

I think we live as if we have all that we need. So give away your time, your good deeds. Stop saving things for a special time and use them to care fort hose you love.  Shift from thinking I need more or what if I need it later to God will provide and whatever I use up or give away will come back to me at the right time.

This week, focus on living abundantly. List all the gifts God has given you and find a way to share them with others, knowing Goad will provide for tomorrow.

To have integrity

What does it mean?

Integrity is honesty, strong moral principles and an upstanding character trait. I think it is essential. A person of integrity is someone you can trust to do the right thing and do what they say they will. You can count on them.

What does God say about integrity?

  • Observe the person of integrity and mark the upright; Because there is a future for a man of peace. Ps 37:37
  • I look to the faithful of the land to sit at my side. Whoever follows the way of integrity is the one to enter my service. Ps 101:6
  • The wicked are overthrown by their wickedness, but the just find a refuge in their integrity. Pro 14:32
  • Love righteousness, you who judge the earth; think of the Lord in goodness, and seek him in integrity of heart. Wisdom 1:1
  • Reliable instruction was in his mouth, no perversity was found upon his lips; He walked with me in integrity and uprightness, and turned many away from evil. Malachi 2:6

Each of those verses points to God telling us and showing us that his hope is that we be people of integrity. Are we?

Consistency in behavior

To truly be a person of integrity we are called to act that way no matter who we are with or where we are. We cannot treat certain people one way and then others a different way as it suits us. At times, we may stand alone in the truth. But that is possible because we know the Lord is with us.

This week, choose a verse that helps you to be a person of integrity. Write it out and post it where you can see it. In prayer, ask God to show you how to have greater integrity in your life.

The desire to please God

Why Pray

I pray to keep focused. I pray to remind myself that I am not alone. I pray to ask for guidance. And sometimes I pray for direction. Who am I kidding, I pray for that reason lots!

This prayer from Thomas Merton has been in my prayer box for quite some time. Some call it the Prayer of Surrender others of Abandonment. Either way, it is about the idea that while we want very much to do God’s will we don;t always know we are and it’s okay. Our desire, our intention matters. And God knows our intention always.

The Prayer

My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going
I do not see the road ahead of me
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think that I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you
and I hope I have that desire in all I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this, you will lead me on the right road
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, will I trust you always.
Though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death,
I will not fear, for you are ever with me
and you will never leave me to face my struggles alone. Amen.

(Thomas Merton-Trappist Monk)

the not lukewarm challenge

 

This week, pray this prayer as you begin each day. Allow it to comfort and guide you.

 

 

I’d love to have you join me in the LIve NOt LUkewarm with the Sunday Scriptures group. Join my email list or read more about it.

Humility is not easy

Foundational Virtue

Humility is the virtue on which all others are built.  CS Lewis said this, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” We are not being asked to not think of ourselves at all, but to not forget others.

For many people, it is difficult to let go of the need to be right, have the last word or let others know how great they are. Can we look instead at the model of Jesus?

Christ did not deem equality

So beings the beautiful Christological hymn from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. In chapter 2, verses 5-11 he tells us that though Jesus is the Son of God he was still obedient, even to death – for us.  And because of his humility, God exalts him.

Here is the entire hymn:

“Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus,Who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, he emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, ecoming obedient to death, even death on a cross. Because of this, God greatly  exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phillipians 2:5-11

Jesus had humility

I think about that when I am prone to a lack of humility. I don’t have to have the last word; I don’t know everything; let someone else do it their way. It is better to wait to be asked your thoughts than to give them all the time. We know these things, and yet, we struggle. Maybe we are tired or overwhelmed and little things get to us more easily than usual. Let things go that are not harmful to you or others. And when it’s hard, come back to these verses. Because if Jesus did it, he will give you the grace and strength to do it, ask him.

Each day, pray these verses and ask Jesus to help you have humility in your interactions with others.

Things mom said

The Advice

Or were they comments? I’m not sure. But like many of us, I can recall things my mom said that were meant to be a help as I went through life. you know, don’t touch a hot stove, run with scissors, and stop hitting your sister. She also said things that have stuck with me, or I hear her say them still.

  1. Don’t tell anyone who you vote for. Think about this, we vote in private, so why would it then be told to everyone. And of course, when I started voting there was no social media to spread the word about how you voted correctly and if people voted the other way, well. I can’t go there. To extend this idea, think about other things you do in private, we keep them private. I really like this advice!
  2. In your heart of hearts. I know that’s not a sentence, it’s a phrase that can be used in different ways. As in”What is in your heart of hearts? Or In my heart of hearts I believe, know, think, feel… You get the idea. As a teen, I would roll my eyes, now, nope. What does your gut tell you? What is the Holy Spirit whispering to you in your soul? In the deepest part of yourself? Trust it. And act on it. That’s what it means.
  3. When it’s your toothache it hurts. Well, yes it does, now doesn’t it? And sometimes that pain, wherever it is coming from, causes you to irritable, less than loving and charitable. Conversely, others have toothaches too. So try as best you can to extend them some love and kindness.

 

Think about some advice your mom gave you that is still helpful and true today. Pass it on to others. Thank her for it. And, drop it in the comment box so we all can see it.

You can register here for the Catholic Moms Summit Nov 13, 14, 15. All Access Pass

or Free registration. 

The event has something for everyone, from parents of newborns to empty-nesters and grandmothers!

 

 

Joy in Difficult Times

A Prayer

O holy St. Philip Neri, patron saint of joy,
you who trusted scripture’s promise that the Lord is always at hand 
and that we need not have anxiety about anything,
in your compassion heal our worries and sorrows
and lift the burdens from our hearts.
We come to you as one whose heart swells
with abundant love for God and all creation.
Hear us, we pray, especially in this need (make your request here).

Keep us safe through your loving intercession and may the joy of the Holy Spirit which filled your heart, St. Philip, transform our lives and bring us peace. Amen

Joy is not happiness

Joy is something deeper and more lasting. Even when an activity is over when you feel contentment or consolation, that is joy, as St. Ignatius points out.  Focusing on the long term goal of heaven and not on the little things that annoy us can help us have joy. Yes, there are difficulties in life, but if we allow ourselves to focus only on those, we will sink into the muck of our emotions.

Where to look

Look to the cross. It is an example of focusing on the joy that is to come. But remember because of Christ’s death and resurrection we can have that joy now, in this life. I’m certain our joy in heaven will be far greater than any we experience here on earth, but we can still have joy. That is the gift we have from God.

When you are feeling less than full of joy, pray the prayer of St. Philip Neri and ask him to intercede for you.

 

 

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or Free registration.

St. Teresa of Avila, Doctor of the Church

Facts about Teresa of Avila

  • born in Avila, Spain on March 28, 1515
  • entered the Carmelites on 1535
  • began reforming the order and founded her first convent, St. Joesph, in 1562
  • in 1575 she was told to stop and made to retire to Costile due to a dispute between the two different Carmelite groups
  • in 1579 King Philip II of Spain found a solution to the dispute, Pope Gregory XIII confirmed it in 1580
  • for two years Teresa traveled and continued working on reforming the Carmelites
  • she died in 1582
  • she was canonized in 1622
  • made a Doctor of the Chruch in 1970by Pope Paul VI
  • she is the patron saint of headaches
  • her feast day is Oct 15

What was she reforming?

Teresa wanted her order, the Carmelites, to go back to convents existing on public offerings and poverty rather than relying on personal endowments of the wealthy. This caused a conflict between the two Carmelite groups, the Primitive and Mitigated. The Primitive was what Teresa was espousing. However, in the conflict, she was told to retire and stop working. Eventually, she was able to return to her life’s work with help from the King and Pope Gregory XIII.

Her prayer that will serve us well at this time

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

St. Teresa of Avila

 

When you feel troubled, pray the prayer above and remember that you have God.

Don’t forget, register for the Catholic Moms Summit Nov 13, 14, 15. All Access Pass

or Free registration.

Relevant Fiction for Body & Soul

Do you like to read?

Reading is my favorite way to relax! I’ve read a few of Carolyn Astfalk’s books and thought it would be nice to talk about how she got started writing fiction.

How did she get started?

A few years ago when she had only 2 children and a husband who traveled frequently for business, she took part in a popular writing challenge, write a 50,000-word novel in November. So she did! Currently, she has 4 novels, Stay with Me, Rightfully Ours, Ornamental Graces and All in Good Time. All can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and independent Catholic bookstores.

What I like about her writing

It is real! The characters face real-world contemporary problems and solve them by relying on faith to do so. Each book shows us how mercy works, why we need the sacraments and how grace and forgiveness are ours for the asking. These are novels you can read knowing faith is not an aside but applied in a practical way in the character’s lives. I haven’t read All in Good Time yet,  but plan on it. All the books are geared to adults, mainly women though men read them too. Rightfully Ours is a coming of age novel that is appropriate for older teens as well.

All about Carolyn

 

This week, read a work of fiction, preferably Catholic or Christian! Tell us your favorite title in the comments.

 

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Pray the Psalms

Some Facts about the Psalms

  • There are 150 psalms
  • David wrote about half of them
  • There are different types of psalms

Types of Psalms

  • Hymn
  • Thanksgiving
  • Lament
  • Royal
  • Wisdom
  • Pilgrimage or procession
  • Prophetic speech

What else?

The psalms cover the entire range of human emotion and experience and so can be very helpful in prayer. One-third of the psalms are psalms of lament, which reminds us that it is okay to pour out our heart and soul to God, our anger, disappointment, frustration, all of it! He knows it, tell him. It helps.

No matter the type of psalm, I always feel comforted, knowing that I am not alone in the emotion I am experiencing.

Psalm Suggestions

  • 34, Thanksgiving to God who Delivers the Just
  • 97, The Divine Ruler of All
  • 142, A Prayer in time of Trouble

Read and pray a psalm each day this week. Tell us your favorite in the comments.

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Need a special gift?

Meet Anne Kidder, the woman show who runs Kidderbug Kreations! Anne loves to sew and create special gifts for others. She created the items in her online store to give people an opportunity to give meaningful handcrafted gifts. She says, “there is a memory in every moment.”  And there is!

What types of gifts are there?

There are gifts to help us remember those we love who have passed on. Pillows, bears and hand-embroidered prints are a few items.

Anne also has great baby gifts. My favorite is the hooded towels!

What’s new in the shop?

A new line of St. Michael gifts with custom-designed fabric. There are baby toys, burp cloths, and a diaper clutch when your big bag is too much.

Anne welcomes the opportunity to help you find just the right gift, so don’t hesitate to contact her.

Her webiste is KidderbugKreations!

 

 

 

 

Pray the St. Michael Prayer this week!

St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. Amen.

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