Worth Revisiting Wednesday: Music that Moves the Soul!

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

When thinking about creating a new link-up opportunity for Wednesday, this idea of sharing a cherished previous post came to mind. For, getting together with friends isn’t always about what’s new in our lives, but often a stroll down memory lane. With that in mind, grab a seat, sit back and join in the conversation!


Music that Moves the Soul!

(Originally posted September 1, 2014)

Music (2)An essential part of a fulfilling community worship experience, its importance cannot be understated. Whether raised in praise, thanksgiving or lamentation, the ability of song to stir our soul and buoy our spirit is ageless and eternal.

In spiritual life formation and liturgy, music can be a tool not simply to engage the listener but to move an entire community to participation through “beauty expressive of prayer”, while preserving the “solemn character of the celebration”. [3] This tension is important to consider because not all songs are appropriate to the occasion or the solemnity of the moment no matter how beautiful or inspiring.

One age group or ministry that is making significant strides with in Youth Ministrydoing this well is the area of youth ministry. Incorporating visuals with songs, and quite often using live music, youth ministry is recognizing the importance of music as a means for evangelization and enrichment. Given the array of contemporary Christian artists, quite a few of them even specifically Catholic; there is no shortage of music styles, or diversity of gifts. While it might surprise you, in Christian music today there is not only room for outstanding gospel and praise artists, but blues, pop, metal, and rap as well.

So much more than just the confession of our sins… reconciliation is the reparation and renewal of the relationship between the believer, God, and the community of the faithful.

Having said this, I would love your help with my latest project! Within the format of the retreat setting, and sacramental preparation, I am interested in amassing an ongoing list of artists and songs to deeper engage the whole believer to participation. Then, with these songs, parishes could use them in coordination with guided sacramental programs and retreats, even garnering the assistance of local musicians if possible.

The following are an initial top 15 for Reconciliation.. Read More

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Worth Revisiting Wednesday: A New Perspective!

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

When thinking about creating a new link-up opportunity for Wednesday, this idea of sharing a cherished previous post came to mind. For, getting together with friends isn’t always about what’s new in our lives, but often a stroll down memory lane. With that in mind, grab a seat, sit back and join in the conversation!


Currently, A New Perspective!

(Originally posted September 22, 2014)

Currently,A New Perspective
with “A Mama Collective”!

Currently, I have been thinking about the people that enter into our lives, albeit sometimes unexpectedly,  who enable us to glimpse a new perspective.  We are reminded that the beauty of our journey as Christians  is that as questions arise, our faith tradition is filled with deep convictions, “emerging” methods,  and new beginnings!  How thankful I am for those times that as God has sought to move me, and has opened my eyes to see  a different perspective or the need for a more pastoral approach. What a vision God has of the whole picture!

It reminds me of an art class where everyone is painting the object in the center. The object isn’t the same all the way around, even the light from the windows casts the colors and shadows differently. Yet, the artists paint what is before them in the truest way possible, faithful to the teacher, and the methods that they have learned.

Listening// This week I listened to an elderly friend, who I bring communion to, describe the sightless, hard of hearing world that he lives in. Not in a complaint, but in a matter of fact way-inviting me into “seeing” his perspective.  Though the light behind his eyes has made sleep extremely difficult, he asks to be awakened for communion because this is so essential to him. As we part, he tells my husband and I how he wishes he could see us but how much he loves and is thankful for our time spent in community.

Watching// with excitement at the new appointment of Bishop Blase Cupich as Archbishop of Chicago!  Just a few days before the announcement, twitter was all abuzz. Eagerly, I studied his pastoral journey to gain a better understanding of the perspective he would bring to the position.  He appears to be moderate in his approach on most religious issues, and in touch with both the teachings and the people.  How heartwarming it was to hear him personally address the 44% Hispanic population of Chicago in Spanish!  In everything that I have seen and heard so far,  I have to say what an exciting time  it is for the people of  Chicago. 

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Never Underestimate the Gift of Ourselves

Linking up with Laura at Day by Day In Our World for 40 Days of Seeking Him!

  This morning I awoke to a beautiful gift- an extra hour of sleep, kids fed and showered, our pup taken care of as well, and my middle son making his lunch for school. As Peter stood there constructing his sandwich, in his dress shirt and tie laughing with his younger brother I felt so incredibly blessed. This was a moment that each of my family, without even fully recognizing had contributed to. To complete the gift, my hubby ushered them into the car and dropped them each off at school with percussion set and books in tow. While these are all things that are a daily occurrence, today I was given the gift of appreciation both for what I do, as well as for the gift they each bring in themselves.

Image from:Always the Holidays.com

This advent as we light each candle in anticipation, open and unwrap each day, there is an inherent challenge. Are my steps and efforts directed towards society’s expectations, in an overly commercialized season of shopping, or they a gift to Christ?  ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (MT 25:40) What is the real gift Christ is asking of us this season? It is, I believe, to give the gift of ourselves to others. Our time, our talents, our love…all gracious endowments from God to begin with, are to be freely given to others.

Vatican’s Nativity Scene December 24, 2013

Yet, before we start thinking that these must be expressed as grand gestures, we look again at the infinite love witnessed in the tiny babe lying in the manger.  In this way, God reached out to each one of us to give us the gift of Himself – to convert and enkindle our hearts to change the world.  This love then is what we can bring each day to someone else in need. It might be a smile, a kind word, a warm meal, a handwritten note, a prayer or simply an unexpected act of love.

“One Good Thing” By Jillee

*While I have seen this idea before, I was reminded recently of a service advent calendar or advent jar. The idea is instead of receiving a candy or chocolate to honor the day, you choose a loving act of service to do individually or as a family. The ideas above are just a few, and will vary as do each of the gifts God has given you. More beautiful than gold, frankincense or myrrh will be your gift to Christ this season.

Years ago, I remember shopping with an infant in tow desperately trying to gather all that was needed so not to return. One day when walking past an aisle I saw an elderly man standing alone staring at a wall of supplies and looking completely lost. Knowing all that I had to do that day I could’ve kept going past, yet I felt that strong inner pull to walk back. As I approached, I leaned in and asked if I could be of any help. His whole body sighed as he turned and said, “Oh, thank you yes, I have been here looking for so long!” His eyes shone and his gratitude was unsurpassable. After asking him a few questions and locating the item, he then turned to me and said, “Do you know how many others have walked past me?” My heart ached at this, and still I realized that I too had been given a choice that day. That day, I saw Christ in my fellow brother, and responded to the call to love. It marks a very important faith moment in my life, one that I return to whenever I feel my own schedule has unique importance.

Jesus, this season I want to stop and celebrate your presence and love in others. Prayerfully, I desire that I can also be a reflection of you for those that are in need of love, mercy and forgiveness in their lives. Open my eyes and my heart to see where I need to be, what gift of myself that I can give, and what lessons are to be learned. Thank you for reminding me that though there is great need there is also great hope.  For, in seeking to follow, you continually guide my feet and strengthen my purpose.

Worth Revisiting Wednesday: It’s Advantageous to Wait?

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

When thinking about creating a new link-up opportunity for Wednesday, this idea of sharing a cherished previous post came to mind. For, getting together with friends isn’t always about what’s new in our lives, but often a stroll down memory lane. With that in mind, grab a seat, sit back and join in the conversation!


7 Advantageous Reasons to Wait Upon the Lord!

(Originally posted August 8, 2014)

First, let’s admit that very few of us, including myself, ever truly want to wait for anything. We search desperately for the shortest line at the store, GPS the quickest route to our destination, and watch with noses pressed against the oven for the cupcakes to be ready. Oh, who am I kidding , we drive by the nearest bakery or donut shop and wha-la it’s ready! While our patience for waiting has various limits, there is usually a point to where we cry out, (paraphrasing here), “You have got to be kidding me!” Yet, God has given us so many numerous, and advantageous reasons why we should do just that…wait…and trust upon the Lord.

Here are my top 7 that highlighted the week! 

1. “The LORD is good to those who trust in him, to the one that seeks him” Lamentations 3:25

 While my mornings begin in seeking God through prayer, and reflection..there are ample detours and the need to trust God throadworkroughout the day. Not the least of which are in actuality, real roadblocks, that this summer lead me away from the way home through a busy touristy area. This adds an unpredictability to the completion of my errands and, as I was discovering, a heaping tablespoon of frustration. Prompting me to ask myself, what could I be doing instead? TRUST. Be aware that God is there too, in my impatience, in this busy world around me. Now, as I close my eyes I can see the smile given by the young couple in beaconing them across the street, and feel the breeze off the ocean. I can hear the questioning voices of the kids on summer vacation with their parents..and God telling me that this too is a part of the day He has for me.

2. “Guide me by your fidelity and teach me, for you are God my savior, for you I wait all the day long.” Psalm 25:5

God never fails to teach us these things if we allow ourselves to be open to learning something new, and listening for that faithful voice. So often after leading children’s liturgy, I am reminded how much that they have taught me, with an open heart and a faith that is dependent, loving and trusting. Lord, with this faith of a child let me wait for you knowing that you will always provide.

3. “So that you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:7

As many of us know, who write about or serve in a ministry capacity, we are asked to be fully reliant on the Holy Spirit for guidance and revelation.  Therefore when the invitation came recently to submit for a ministry journal, I took the time needed to pray for direction not just what to say, but whether or not it needed to be said at all. With gratitude Lord, your words, your will, and your heart always.

 4. “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated.” 1 Corinthians 13:4 

So, we have truly come to the heart of the matter. Waiting has much to do with Love. Patience is waiting with love, it is accepting that there is a timeline other than our own, and loving the other as God moves in each of our lives.  Having said this yesterday was not my best example of modeling patience as we are nearing the end of time left for summer reading and Khan Academy work. At day’s end, I realized that even as my day was rearranged to fit my son’s, that is where I was meant to be. Could I have been more kind about the sacrifice? Absolutely. Especially when I think of all the times that God and others have waited (patiently) on me, I then better recognize what God is asking.

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Overwhelmed by God’s Love

Linking up with Gina from Someday Saints to Embrace the Ordinary

This morning when I awoke I was overwhelmed- not by stress or concerns, but by praise. Praise to my loving father who had given me a beautiful sunlit window. Praise for the first full night’s sleep in weeks, and the fact that there was nowhere else I had to be. Praise for my hubby who restfully slept beside me.

Loving Father, you knew I what I needed and gave me respite , body and soul. 

The last few days have been well..difficult. Coupled with a need for sound sleep and a break from the next crisis to erupt, I had been burning my candle at both ends. Good news had seemed in short supply and coffee was no longer even having an effect. It’s amazing what you can overlook or not fully appreciate when sleep is needed!

Walking downstairs I was met by my sweet pup, Gretl who had been taken outside by my 15 year old who had also prepared breakfast for he and his brother. Looking up, he smiled and added he had also been studying! A bit surprised I wondered..Ok, whose house am I in again? 😉
 

Lord Jesus, you remind us to give all of our cares and worries to you- to bring our troubles and lay them all down. Though waves may crash around us, you are always there for we are safe in your arms! I don’t need to know what’s next for whatever tomorrow brings, Lord I know to trust in you. 

So, as I look back on my yesterday I give you praise for all those moments for what they truly are, gifts from you. For all those times you broke through my day and sought to reach me, hold and uplift me.

1. Daily Mass// Deep in prayer, I felt so close to Jesus that it was almost a visceral hug.There was a warmth from his presence, and I longed to stay longer. After mass there was the added embrace of my faith friends, those who pray with me and even at times unknowing of the circumstance.

2. Lunch// Food is such a comfort for me when I am in need of sleep and feel the demands of life. Treated to lunch by a close  friend, I could not believe how delicious and filling it was! Exactly what was missing. So too was the conversation with her -highlighting the need once again for these deep friendships in our lives.

Allison &I3. Final meeting for Field Education// Since July I have been steadily working with my supervisor Allison Gingras on my pastoral field education work. This has involved assisting with women’s retreats, creation of ongoing dialogue within a faith blog, and numerous social media sharing projects. There is tremendous importance of being attentive to the needs of those attending retreats and prayerfully being present for those celebrating reconciliation. Allison works with passion, humility, and humor and has shared so generously of her time and years of expertise.

Creatively and practically there is so much that I have learned in developing, promoting and maintaining these types of faith projects. Positively, I am far more comfortable about entering into new areas and projects. Given a time sensitive deadlines, I recognize that I am still able to prayerfully discern but readily move in carrying out a project. There is also great self awareness here too, because I can clearly see my gift for organization as a strength. Likewise, I recognize the need to balance this with creative inspiration and pastoral sensitivity. These are, in my opinion, all desirable in creating and seeing a project fruitfully to completion.

Within this field education work, I have felt continually appreciated and validated in the work that I do. How often can we truly say this? That is the sign of a great mentor, and as I have come to discover too of a great friend. As I look towards the future, I can clearly see so many wondrous opportunities between us that God can use to grow and nurture the faith of others. Thank you Allison, for answering the call to lead, and for being exactly what I have needed -knowing how to guide, challenge and recognize the gifts I have to bring.

What a beautiful reminder of your infinite love Father! We need not rely on our own steam, or sense of direction. For, If attentive you will lead us by those you have placed in our lives, strengthen us through friendships, and always hold us in the palm of your hand!

Peace,

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Worth Revisiting Wednesday: Just Another Duck On the Water!

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

When thinking about creating a new link-up opportunity for Wednesday, this idea of sharing a cherished previous post came to mind. For, getting together with friends isn’t always about what’s new in our lives, but often a stroll down memory lane. With that in mind, grab a seat, sit back and join in the conversation!


Just another Duck on the Water!

(Originally posted September 8, 2014)

Currently, I have been giving a lot of thought to our perceptions of one another. You know those, more often than not, erroneous conceptions that someone we know has it all together. That pedestal was never meant to be, and distances us from the intimacy of real friendship. It also leaves us in a state of always wanting that perceived perfection rather than seeking to examine and appreciating the good in our own lives. So, with that, let me introduce myself as…just another duck on the water.

IMG_0668To borrow one of my favorite lines from the movie The Replacements,

 “Like a duck on the pond. On the surface everything looks calm, but beneath the water those little feet are churning a mile a minute”.

Staying afloat isn’t a result of its feet paddling, though, for that just propels the duck along. Its body itself, in shape and buoyancy, is a gift from God that as intended helps it achieve that course so easily. Yet, without the time spent preparing its feathers, moving oil from tail to front, it wouldn’t be the watertight vessel you see before you. This preparation is needed for us as well not only to weather the waves, but merely to stay afloat. What is it that helps you to remain atop the water line, and to have that sense of peace in gazing upon the horizon before you? For me, quite simply it is time spent with Christ- in prayer, in Word, in song and with others in communion. That’s it, that is my oil on my feathers.

IMG_0671Watching:  Yesterday, just studying on the waves and the tide rolling in, I was overwhelmed by the greatness of our God. IMG_0688Turning to see my husband and boys throwing a football to one another, I was given a glimpse of  that same greatness in the small joys of the moment.  So too, as the small little bank of sand that we were on suddenly began to disappear, we were reminded of God’s perfect timing!

Yum!!

Drinking: The new Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte, and yes, there is such a heavenly creation here on earth! Fall is here, and so are the Pumpkin Lattes..I did say I love coffee right? While, as a mom I am a pro at cutting corners and finding sales, this is such a treat for me. Not to mention, when combined with a great conversation with a friend, it is truly priceless.

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Coffee Date: Fill my Cup Till..

Linking up with Dearest Love for a Coffee Date and Someday Saints to Embrace the Ordinary !

                                         Getting ready this morning I knew I needed to be there. Sure, there was an essay to write, laundry to be done, emails to send, yet that all would have to wait. Listening within, I felt an inner pull that I was being asked to put aside these things today to pray. Seeking direction, I quickly queried my friends and family to see if they had any special intentions.  So with prayers to carry and filled with purpose I opened the door to my church. Though I had written them down, I realized as I knelt that I had left them in my car. Beautifully, however, they each one by one came as a bright light in the darkness. Every prayer intention had a face, a name and a desire of the heart.

As I lifted each up in prayer there was an inner pause, stillness I have found only in God’s presence. “Be still and know that I am God” .

Yes, you have this all Father, all within your loving hands. There is a great awareness here, a knowing that you still the winds, calm the seas, and yet enkindle our hearts and minds to love and see as you do.

By no coincidence the readings today spoke of an attentiveness needed in fixing our eyes on what God is asking of us. With so many things to occupy our every day, I know I can easily find myself engulfed in the daily demands upon my time.                                         Today, Jesus I heard your voice and what an incredible gift to have been entrusted with these prayers this morning. Whatever else I could possibly do today, I know that this was where I was meant to be.

With the homily, a scene was painted of a sailboat and its captain on the open waters. With an eye on the horizon and hands ready, he notices and adjusts to the change in the direction of the wind. A hasty decision isn’t necessarily needed but an awareness and discernment as to the soundest course to proceed.

Jesus, you are my guiding light, the certain wind to carry me where you need me to be. When I seek you, and trust I am never truly lost. For you are The Way, the path of surest love from the Father to each one of us. And when our focus is on what is behind us, or we think that we can no longer see the path ahead, you light our hearts and call us Father, (farther) onward.

May your cup overflow with peace- goodness, and mercy as you seek God’s presence and direction in your day!

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Worth Revisiting Wednesday: Can You Spare any Change?

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

When thinking about creating a new link-up opportunity for Wednesday, this idea of sharing a cherished previous post came to mind. For, getting together with friends isn’t always about what’s new in our lives, but often a stroll down memory lane. With that in mind, grab a seat, sit back and join in the conversation!


Can you Spare Any Change?.. 7 Quick Takes!

(Originally posted September 5, 2014)

IMG_3553So often we view change as something to be resisted, avoided, and fought. What if, however we flipped our understanding of change as something to embrace, to advocate and necessary for growth and peace?

  1. “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

    Today, as the feast day of Mother Teresa, we remember a woman who not only lived this upturned notion of change but inspired countless others to do the same. In her desire to follow Christ, she was a light of love for the unloved and unwanted, a living witness to the embodiment of change in every life she touched.

  2. Change is to be anticipated. My own awareness to the inevitability of change began early on, as the daughter of a single mom who seeking to acquire a better teaching position hoped also to provide a better life. With each move, came a new school, new church, surroundings and thankfully new friends too. My mom had a knack, which she passed on to me, of discovering the treasure that each relocation offered. On the weekends, we would venture out exploring museums, historical sites, little shops and the new “little pond” we found ourselves in. One of my 

    favorite memories was to wake up and simply pack a picnic tote, throw on a swimsuit and head on down to the Mississippi River with a fishing pole in hand. Did you catch anything, you might ask? Rarely, was it ever fish. Instead our eyes caught a glimpse of the horizon, an embrace of a beautiful day, the gift of time well spent, and an acceptance of the chance of rain tomorrow.

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7 Quick Takes-Moments of Clarity

 1// This week has been a reminder of the glimpses God gives us of his mercy, love and forgiveness.

Those moments whereby we are challenged to move, grow, and reach out to one another in love. The ready invitation to leave our comfort zone and listen, hold,  and  share our hearts and journeys with others.

2// My 7 Quick Takes week began..

by assisting with a women’s retreat on Forgiveness hosted by co-blogger and supervisor Allison Gingras. This as you can see, easily prompted the first of these reflective moments!  “I am thankful for the opportunity to forgive and to be forgiven, one teaches me mercy, the other humility”. (A. Gingras)  What a grace it is to embrace this in our lives! While our hearts must be led by mercy, we need to resist the temptation to see ourselves as blameless without need of forgiveness. How many times have I caused injury, or has someone needed to forgive me recently? I may never know the fullness of this answer, but for those times, Father forgive me.

3// “Forgiveness requires letting go of being right, of justice, evening scores and of an apology.” (Fr. Scott Hurd)

Oh, the thorny brambles we find ourselves in when led by righteousness and the need for validation! Instantly, we begin seeking those conversations and relationships whereby we are the hero and someone else made the villain. In doing so, we cling to the pain and our pride takes hold. Increasingly we find ourselves entangled in its grip. Lord help me to cling to you, the vine rather than the bramble.

4//“Forgiveness is not reconciling, as it takes one person not two”. 

Seeking forgiveness, is about finding peace and while we might wish for reconciliation- that is not guaranteed. Sometimes all that we can offer and hope for is forgiveness. Letting go of the outcome frees us to then move forward in our faith lives to grow in acceptance and give the controls to God. Lord I relinquish all authority to you, may my desire for peace be enough. Lead me because I can’t do this alone.”

5// And my own special sound bite from the retreat, “The Holy Spirit rocks!”

(If ever there was any doubt.) This retreat had an incredible turnout and the feedback extremely positive. The telling moment for me came in tending to the reconciliation line which was continuous and lasted over 2 hours! Within this there were prayerful conversations and moments of conversion of heart. So beautiful! Thank you Father for the gift of your Spirit which seeks to guide, transform and heal our hearts. I just want to praise you!

6// On a more personal note,

however, I received word a few days ago that someone that I am quite close to was diagnosed with inoperable throat cancer. As he comes to terms with the diagnosis and the given chances for survival, he is seeking greater reconciliation and connection in his life. He has been through so many trials in his life, including a stroke and several bouts of double pneumonia. Yet, I can feel that this is quite different, and he is preparing to die. In speaking with him today, he asked if I would call him to chat for a little bit each week. “Yes, of course!”. What a gift you have given me Father in this time with him.  Please, I pray for your voice and heart to guide me. If I can be of any help, I humbly offer my all.

7// So while clarity at times reveals deep hurt, difficulties, or challenges, I have found that God is there also- reaching out with open arms to embrace.

Why wait for a doctor’s call, or a life crisis to seek forgiveness and peace in our lives? Why hold on to pain when we could take hold of Christ’s hand? Jesus you are the voice of truth. You see us, know us, forgive us and love us in spite of all that we do and fail to do. While I can never repay this gift, I will spend a lifetime trying.

Peace in Christ,

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Worth Revisiting Wednesday: Coffee, Communion and Conversation

It’s Worth Revisiting Wednesday! A place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link-up with fellow bloggers! Co-Hosted with Allison Gingras at Reconciled To You.

When thinking about creating a new link-up opportunity for Wednesday, this idea of sharing a cherished previous post came to mind. For, getting together with friends isn’t always about what’s new in our lives, but often a stroll down memory lane. With that in mind, grab a seat, sit back and join in the conversation!


Coffee, Communion, and Conversation-Essentials for this Catholic Mom

With cheers and tears, I have begun thinking about the back-to-school essentials for my children who are, by the way, returning next week. Likewise, as with any good Jesuit student, it has been a cue for me to reflect on my own much needed necessities at this time in my life as well.  While there are of course countless others that could be included in this list, these chosen three are the ones that leapt to the forefront of my mind!

1. Coffee- (Substitute tea, juice or a smoothie for those that find those more preferable.)

Strong, and certainly caffeinated, the inviting aroma beckons me to take seriously the day’s events ahead. This is my time for morning reflection, and perhaps one of the few times during the day that I will sit still without a project, paper, or errand to complete. It is quite literally the reminder for me to re-fill my cup- to empty myself and the events of the day prior so that I can be able to accept and embrace God’s gift of self in my every moment. Not the least of which are the many requests upon my own time.

Father, you ask us to be still and know that You are God, that you are always with us at the break of each new day, and that with you we will not be shaken. (Ps.46:6-11) Fill me with your love, grace, and compassion for those who might need you most today.

  2. Communion (daily if at all possible!)

Several years ago, after having made my Cusillo retreat, I consciously resolved to attend daily mass whenever the time allowed. Yet, initially, this commitment was but a new curiosity, filled with an unknowing of whether I could continue, or how I would be affected in my own spiritual growth. One morning in particular, in that first week, I noticed a woman about my own age, and felt the Holy Spirit guiding me to speak with her after mass. Having seen her before on Sunday mornings with her family, I remarked how happy I was to have another mom with small children there that day. Smiling, and with all earnestness she said something that moved me profoundly.

“I’m here because this is where I need to be as a mom, it is my time to regroup, talk to God, and gain the strength to be the mom that God wants me to be”.

Her words were meant for me, and found a dwelling place deep within my heart. God wants to do something great for me in giving me the tools and the space to break into my ordinary with the extraordinary experience of this intimate closeness with Christ. I think of this moment often these days as I slide into the pew, kneel before Christ, and let out the biggest sigh, a breath of relief that I actually made it there. No matter how I arrive- rushed, anxious, or frustrated, I leave transformed in heart, mind and spirit. As I think about the future after graduate school, I have already begun thinking about daily mass times in the area that might allow me to continue this now essential time with God in my day.

IMG_06163. Conversation(Lots, with those that uplift and draw you closer to Christ)

As you may have noticed my precursor to this one, conversation just for conversations sake isn’t essential at all. In fact, the wrong conversations are draining, disruptive, and detrimental to both you and all those in your life. We have all, at some point found ourselves in these instances, whereby the conversation turns gossipy, argumentative, or judgmental towards others. Yet, as a mom of school aged children whose time is limited anyway, I can honestly say I leave these conversations feeling unsatisfied. The question I keep returning to is whether this is healthy for me even if I am not participating.

Conversely, the right conversations lead us and others nearer to where God wants us to be, and leave us knowing our time was well spent. They inspire, nourish, enlighten, support, and buoy us up when we need to feel God’s love most. They remind us to listen deeply and speak when needed. These are moments of awareness to the Holy Spirit’s presence  guiding and filling us with peace and joy.

One of the best assignments I have been given in my graduate ministry work, in lieu of reading, was to take time to pursue that which uplifts us. Here, I was given a week set aside to reconnect, to decompress, and renew. Not surprisingly, I made sure that I met with those also in ministry to give them that much needed break as well. So essential is this for me, that I do this now on a regular basis!

With much gratitude to my advisor, friend (and creator of the above assignment), Eileen Daily for helping me to see that self-care is not selfish but vital if I am to be of help to myself much less anyone else!

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