Monday, January 7, 2019

New Years Resolutions: Becoming Aware of God's Presence in an Imperfect Life

For many, welcoming in the new year is a time to start fresh and clean, form new habits, and welcome new beginnings. A time to make resolutions.

I've been good about making New Year Resolutions.
I've never been good about keeping New Year Resolutions.

A few years ago instead of making more traditional resolutions (get up an hour earlier, make time for exercise, eat healthy, etc.) I resolved to adopt little ways to become more fully aware of God's presence in my imperfect life. If this is something you'd like to try, here are three helpful tools to set your focus for the year.

Saint of the Year
Anyone who's been confirmed probably remembers either the ease or the agony of selecting a Confirmation Saint to walk with on your faith journey. You look for someone who's lived a holy life, who you connect with or admire; a life that you'd like to emulate in some way, and to ask for their intercessory prayers. Sometimes, the saint chooses you. They'll keep popping up into your life at odd, unexpected times until you finally notice and start paying attention to them. In 2011, Jennifer Fulwiler launched her Saints Name Generator to provide you with a random saint. It's very tempting to click over and over until you receive a name you recognize; however, there are times, when no matter how much I cringe at the first name I receive, that saint will suddenly "pop in" at some point during the year reminding me to give them consideration. 

This year I received St. Robert Bellarmine (I'd never heard of him) and wouldn't you know the very next morning I opened my Morning Offering email and the first quote of the day was written by him. See what I mean?! Give it a try and see where it leads you.


Word of the Year
Choosing a Word of the year is a tool I've not used in years past; however the Word of the Year Generator  (also created by Jennifer Fulwiler) began popping up in my Facebook feed over New Year's weekend, so I clicked the button and received the word: Follow

Now, I should tell you that I've clicked this button three times over the past week and every time received the same word: Follow.  I know there are other words, because my son clicked it right after me and received JOY, but then I clicked it again - Follow. So I placed this word prayerfully in my heart to become more aware of opportunities where God is calling me to Follow Him. Then last week I went to Mass for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God and heard in the homily - Follow the virtues of Mary - patience, obedience, humility, courage, and confidence. Follow our blessed mother, she who says "Do whatever He asks of You.

Scripture of the Year
Meditating on a piece of scripture for the year is another tradition that's been around for a long time. For a few years I'd select one at random, but more recently I've listened for Gus Lloyd on the Catholic Channel's Seize the Day to offer his list of 12-15 verses. Every year when he returns to the live radio show after Christmas holidays, he invites callers to pick a number and then he gives them the corresponding verse. I printed the verse Col 3:17 (assigned to the number I selected) and posted it in various places so I'd remember it. This turned out to be a powerful tool that really influenced my year. So after receiving the word Follow, I tuned into Seize the Day, picked the number 12, and received Phil 2:14-16

The more well-known popular verses from Philippians are found in Chapter 4, so when I turned to Philippians 2:14 and read, "Do everything without grumbling or questioning," I started laughing. I am the world's biggest grumbler and questioner! I think God is trying to tell me something.  To go from doing everything in the name of God giving thanks - to doing everything without grumbling or questioning! I hear you....

Going Forward
These three tools helped me find a starting point for my 2019 spiritual resolution of becoming more fully aware of God being present. This year He is saying, Come Follow Me and Do everything (I ask of you) without complaining. While the year opens with a challenge - especially that scripture - I place my trust in Him. Last year, God revealed Himself to me at four distinct specific times and I am resolved to not doubt Him going forward. He is always in control of our lives and sometimes the long road, the hard climb, is not only allowed, but necessary to bring us closer to Him. 






Saturday, October 6, 2018

The Importance of Dating Your Spouse... Even After 20 Years

The importance of dating your spouse ... even after 20 years
Photo credit jeffreyhulse.com

As Brian and I celebrated 20 years of marriage last month (YAY US!!), we were asked by another couple what one thing helps us keep our marriage strong. 10 years ago we might have struggled to come up with an specific answer, but over the last 5-6 years we figured out what really seems to make a difference for our marriage. 

Continuously dating your spouse.  When we got married Brian used to joke, I got you, now I can stop wooing.  And we’d laugh.  But we’ve discovered that in marriage, the wooing must never stop. We must remain in the mindset of dating or wooing to keep our marriage strong. 

If you’re like a few people I know who shall remain nameless, you’re going – Lisa, what in the world is “wooing?”  So, here’s the definition according to dictionary.com.
Woo  - (verb)

to seek the favor, affection, or love of, especially with a view to marriage.

 Don’t you love it?  We’ve used that word for 25 years, but I’d never looked up the official definition until now and somehow, it’s perfect! 

I know it sounds a bit corny, but we've found that wooing or dating your spouse has several perks that strengthen our marriage.
  1. Dating helps our relationship be a top priority. Let's be honest, finding time to date your spouse can take a bit of creativity and planning.  We've discovered our date can be a walk around the block, hanging out in the backyard without the kids or a quiet dinner together after a long family-filled weekend.  But, finding that time, making our dates a priority for us, has helped us truly focus on our marriage. We need to put each other first which means, sometimes above our family or work commitments. 
  2. Dating keeps lines of communication open.  We've found that just being together, the two of us, allows us to talk.   Sure, sometimes we talk about the kids, work, the household and our schedules, but that helps us work through details and issues that we'd not found time to talk about yet.  And sometimes, we find ourselves daydreaming and sharing our hopes, dreams, fears, and plans for the future.  It is amazing what can come out of those conversations when we relax and be together.  
  3. Dating enhances your outlook.  I’ve found that when my husband and I are dating, we’re in sync. I feel lighter, more able to handle problems, and more positive.  Maybe, it’s because I’m reminded we’re a team and I’m not alone in the difficult moments.  When we have a date night on Sundays, I start my Monday feeling ready to tackle the week.   
  4. Dating helps you model Marriage for the kids. Throughout their lives, kids are taught that marriage is an important sacrament and foundation for the family.  By watching their parents date, they witness us placing a priority on our relationship and strengthening the family foundation. Only good came come from our kids watching us make time for each other.  
  5. Dating reminds you of why or how you fell in love. When you make the time to woo each other you find yourself doing the little things for the other person you might have done years and years ago.  Or you start noticing that your spouse is still doing those little things you found endearing before you were married.  Dating my spouse finds me smiling when he texts me in the middle of the day “just to check on how my day is going” or discovering that we still love to hold hands. 

Recently I shared more thoughts on Dating my Spouse on a Facebook Live event for CatholicMom.comYou can watch it here






Are you still wooing? How has it benefited your marriage?


Photo Credit JeffreyHulse.com

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

12 Quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta

My 12 Favorite quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta
St. Teresa of Calcutta made a deep impression on me as a young girl as I watched her on tv and in news. Who doesn't remember the iconic picture of Mother Teresa with Princess Diana splashed across all magazines, newspapers and news shows?  To me, Saints were people who lived a long time ago, but here she was, a saint in the making.  Mother Teresa was a role model of how to become a Saint in our modern world, by giving her life to God through her dedication to the poor.

On her feast day, I want to share with you a few of my favorite quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta.   Her words are seemingly simple and straightforward but packed with meaning.  My selection comes out of a new favorite book I picked up called, Mother Teresa: Her Essential Wisdom by Carol Kelly-Gangi.  This little book contains hundreds of quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta centered around specific themes as well as a summary of her biography and quotes about her from others. 

"God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful." St. Teresa of Calcutta
"God does not demand that I be successful. God demands that I be faithful." St. Teresa of Calcutta

"Holiness is not the luxury of the few; it is a simply duty, for you and for me." St. Teresa of Calcutta
"Holiness is not the luxury of the few; it is a simply duty, for you and for me." St. Teresa of Calcutta

"Holiness is for everyone of us as a simple duty - the acceptance of God with a smile..." St Teresa of Calcutta
"Holiness is for everyone of us as a simple duty - the acceptance of God with a smile..." St Teresa of Calcutta

"You have to be holy where you are - wherever God has put you." St Teresa of Calcutta
"You have to be holy where you are - wherever God has put you." St Teresa of Calcutta

"Holiness grows fast where there is kindness." St. Teresa of Calcutta
"Holiness grows fast where there is kindness." St. Teresa of Calcutta

"Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home.  Make them long to be with their families." St. Teresa of Calcutta
"Try to put in the hearts of your children a love for home.  Make them long to be with their families." St. Teresa of Calcutta

"Love to pray. Take the trouble to pray.  Prayer opens your heart until it is big enough to hold and keep God." St Teresa of Calcutta
"Love to pray. Take the trouble to pray.  Prayer opens your heart until it is big enough to hold and keep God." St Teresa of Calcutta

"Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God." St. Teresa of Calcutta
"Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God." St. Teresa of Calcutta

"Prayer is as necessary as the air, as the blood in our bodies, as anything to keep us alive" St Teresa of Calcutta
"Prayer is as necessary as the air, as the blood in our bodies, as anything to keep us alive" St Teresa of Calcutta

"There are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things." St Teresa of Calcutta
"There are many people who can do big things, but there are very few people who will do the small things." St Teresa of Calcutta

"And so let us always meet each other with a smile." St Teresa of Calcutta
"And so let us always meet each other with a smile." St Teresa of Calcutta

"Let us pray that we women realize the reason of our existence..." St Teresa of Calcutta
"Let us pray that we women realize the reason of our existence..." St Teresa of Calcutta

Do you have a favorite quote from Saint Teresa of Calcutta?






Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Prayer to End the School Year

Another school year is coming to an end.  And what a year the 2017-2018 school year was.....

The events of the last 9 months have made me not only thankful to see it end but needing to get on my knees to Thank God for many things.  This school year began with Hurricane Harvey hitting our area and ended with the devastating school shooting at nearby Santa Fe High School.

In the middle of the crisis around us there were so many beautiful things, events and people that touched and changed our community and family for the better.  Let's just start with the teachers and administrators who have interacted with my kids this year...  A special social studies teacher that made a fast friend out of my geography obsessed daughter, an ELA teacher who slowly won my oldest daughter over with her love of the written word, a soccer trainer who pushed my son harder than he thought he could handle, and then helped him recognize how that hard work paid off.  What about a school nurse who repeatedly gave my child reassurance when she felt her anxiety getting the best of her, or the teacher who spent many extra hours creating clubs at school for kids to come together in a shared excitement over Harry Potter, K-Pop, or Creative Writing? I cannot forget the choir instructors, several of them, who provided opportunities for my girls to develop their skills in singing, but also encouraged them to truly use their gift to entertain and inspire others.

That's just small taste of the special people who entered our lives this year.  When I sit and think about our year, the list of people that supported our family, encouraged my kids to thrive, or just truly inspired us with the way they live life is nearly endless.  

My own words to adequately describe or commemorate this 2017-2018 school year are inadequate, but I found a prayer that somehow captures what I'm feeling as my kids take their last finals of the year.

Prayer to End a School Year from Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers
This Prayer to End a School Year appears in Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers: A Companion to The Catechism of the Catholic Church


As you finish your school year, I pray God gives you the refreshment and peace you seek.








Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers: A Companion to The Catechism of the Catholic Church
Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers
The Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers: A Companion to The Catechism of the Catholic Church is my "go-to" when searching for a prayer that sums up my thoughts or a prayer in a needed situation. You can pick it up on Amazon here.

Friday, May 4, 2018

Make Today Matter

Make Today Matter by Chris Lowney - Blog Hop

From the moment I pulled this little book out of the mailing package I  knew it was going to be special.  Why you ask?  Just a hunch based on the smile on my face when I saw it and read the cover.  First of all, the colors were happy and the gold radiated like the sun around the words. "Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World)."  Um, Yes Please!

I immediately opened the cover and read the first words, “Picture Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey’s fury…” my eyes welled up, my chest tightened and I was immediately intrigued to read more.  How was this author going to relate what our city and community went through less than a year ago and making today matter?  The introduction title is, "Why Does it Take a Crisis?" and not to spoil the intro, but I'll share that the author, Chris Lowney, understands #HoustonStrong and how our communities came together to support and take care of one another.  

Diving into this new book from Loyola Press, I found myself looking for a notebook to write down all the big things I wanted to remember for later.  I even jumped on Instagram during Chapter 2 to share a statement I found truly inspiring.
"Bring big heart by making the most of every opportunity, by perceiving your opportunities  as broadly as you can, and by developing your gifts as fully as you can, and using your gifts for great purposes." 

Chapter five, "Banish the Inner Demons: Be Free for What Matters" struck a deep chord with me.  Let's be honest, we all have a habit or two that is holding us back in life.  As I read through this short chapter, I worked to identify what mine might be.  I stumbled onto "procrastination."  Oh my, Yes.  I put off so many important things until the last minute.  My mind reasons I'm just in a busy season of life with a million things going on at all times and I'm just trying to get it all done.  Hmmm.  That's an easy out and I know it deep down.  After going through the first few chapters of this book and identifying what matters to me I'm ready to be a little more honest with myself.

When I examine which things I put off and which things I tackle right away I see that I'm procrastinating out of fear.  These are things that I'm afraid to fail at and worried about the outcome.  It's almost like I'm setting myself up with a ready made excuse.  "If it isn't any good, well, it's because I had to do it in a rush."

Wow.  What a revelation for me.  This changes how I look at tasks I'm avoiding at the current moment.

When I say this little book packs a punch, I'm not kidding.  Chapter five is only six small pages and it helped me realize not only the "why" behind something holding me back but it's lit a fire in me to want to free myself of it.  I want to do this so I can pursue the life I want, a life that matters.

Thank you Chris Lowney and Loyola Press for gifting me this book in return for joining your blog hop.  I haven't even finished reading it but I'm ready to gift a copy to so many people in my life who would benefit from this message.


Make Today Matter by Chris Lowney

If you are interested in "Make Today Matter: 10 Habits for a Better Life (and World) head over to Loyola Press to pick up a copy.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

ShareThis1