Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Dedicating Leisure Time to God

The past couple days I have been reading "Holiness for Housewives (and other working women)" by Dom Hubert Van Zeller (Sophia Institute Press, 1997) This book was originally written in the 1950s but this more recent edition has been updated for today's world.

One of the topics was how best to spend one's leisure time:

"What, then, should be the procedure regarding leisure? Must I use it all for God? The answer is: you must be ready to use it all for God. In fact, He will not ask you to spend all of your free time in prayer or on your knees doing the Stations of the Cross. What God wants is your willingness."

This goes back to trusting God, to turning one's life over to Him and believing that He will help you to make the most of it. All of our time is a gift from God and the way that we use it should be our gift back.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Praying with simplicity

Today's Gospel from Matthew 6:7-15 has Jesus teaching the disciples how to pray. He gives them the "Our Father" as the perfect prayer.

Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be thy name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread;
and forgive us our debts,
as we forgive our debtors,
and do not subject us to the final test,
but deliver us from the evil one.



It is a prayer that is so simple, but encompasses all of our needs. I think that sometimes when we pray we feel we need to use elaborate words and repeat our requests over and over. God invites us to bring our needs to him simply and directly. God knows what we need before we ask.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The Beauty of Getting Older

"Women over 30 are ugly and dull, no offense." stated a male friend of mine as he explained his preference for younger women. This was not the first time in my life that I have been told I was ugly. I was a truly homely child. In junior high, classmates would actually use my appearance as an "ugly meter" by which they judged the relative ugliness of other people. I was long and lanky. I walked funny (people called me "penguin") and wore thick glasses. Even my mother told me she was glad that I wasn't that attractive because she wouldn't have to worry about me so much.

Around age fifteen, things began to improve in the appearance department. I finally grew into my arms and legs. I got contacts. While not a raving beauty, no one called me ugly anymore. Most importantly, I stopped thinking I was ugly, even when I gave up the contacts and went back to wearing glasses. I made peace with the face and the body that is reflected in the mirror.

We women are awfully harsh in the self-evaluation of our bodies. There is always something to be improved, some flaw to be corrected. Even beautiful movie stars aren't immune to this criticism - just look at how many get plastic surgery or criticize their own appearance in public. There is this obsession with youth, that if you don't look twenty-one, you have ceased to have value to society.

My friend is entitled to his opinion, but I totally disagree that at the age of thirty, or forty, or eighty, for that matter, we stop being beautiful. I think that there is a self-assurance that comes with getting older. My friends and I are all in our thirties and early forties. I think that many of them are more attractive now than when they were younger. Yes, youth has a vitality and a beauty all its own, but a woman gains a special something as she becomes more comfortable in her skin. There is a glow that comes from the inside, a self-confidence that radiates. There is a joy that comes from leaving the awkwardness of adolescence and young adulthood behind and becoming a mature woman. There is a beauty in caring more about what you can bring to the world than in caring about what people think when they look at you.

God gave us these bodies and he made them so that they would age. Accepting that aging is part of the process of living. Yes, I no longer look eighteen. I have laugh lines and a few grey hairs. Motherhood changed my body. Time will continue to change it. When I look in the mirror, I certainly notice the changes, but they don't define me. All women are beautiful, no matter what their age. True beauty comes from the inside and the wisdom and increased capacity to love that comes with age only enhances that.

Friday, February 23, 2007

The Value of Sacrifice

Sacrifice has a bad reputation. We live in such a "me-first" culture. What I want I want now no matter whether it is good or bad or if it hurts someone else in the process. Sacrifice can be the antidote for that attitude. By giving something up for someone else, we learn to be less selfish, to have more self-control, and to keep our desires in check.

In Lent, we give something up for God. I read an article today that discouraged people from taking on too much during Lent, the argument being that you will just get discouraged when you are unable to fulfill your resolutions. On some level, this is true. You shouldn't try to work on ten character flaws at one time. But I don't think that we should discourage people from sacrifice because it is "too hard" or that they might give into temptation. If you fail at your resolution, you can always start again the next day and the day after that. Also, if you give up a treat or an entertainment (like TV or the radio), know that Sunday doesn't count as Lent (as it is a mini-Easter) and you can enjoy the treat on that day. It is much easier to give something up for 6 days than 40.

David decided he wanted to give up ice cream for Lent. I told him he didn't have to, that really age 7 was probably a good time to start making Lenten resolutions, but he said he wanted to. He is so looking forward to Sunday, but so far he has been successful in his resolution and I am proud of him. I know that for me, giving things up for Lent as a child helped me have the self-control to say "No" to bigger things as a teenager. I hope that this same training will help him say "No" to sex, drugs, smoking and alcohol as he gets older.

Sacrifice does have value, and so, if you haven't already, I encourage you to make one for this Lenten season.

A Mother's Lenten Strategies

Catholic Exchange has a wonderful article posted on A Mother's Lenten Strategies by Donna Marie Cooper O'Boyle.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Handmaid and the Carpenter





I was in the check-out line at the library yesterday when this book caught my eye. It is a fictional account of the relationship between Mary and Joseph, from their initial meeting to his death. Elizabeth Berg has certainly taken liberties with the gospel accounts, as all who seek to enlarge the story of the Holy Family must do. Catholics might be offended at the sexual relationship between Mary and Joseph after Jesus was born. In this novel, they go on to have several other children. But other than that, I think that most readers will find this to be a very readable take on their private lives, which no doubt were thrown into turmoil by the announcement of Jesus' birth. Berg delves into Joseph's doubt and his willingness to take Mary as his wife in spite of it. She describes Mary as a free-spirited young teen who feels called to great things. Overall, her portrayal of Mary and Joseph leaves one feeling as if it might have been this way.

for one more day



Yesterday I read "for one more day" by Mitch Albom, author of "Tuesdays with Morrie" and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven." This time he tells the story of Chick Benetto, a washed up ballplayer who has lost his relationship with his wife and daughter. After he finds out that his daughter has gotten married and not invited him to the wedding, he decides to commit suicide. As he lingers between life and death, he gets to spend one more day with his mother, a woman with whom he had had a somewhat tumultuous relationship.

I like Mitch Albom's books. They are short and to the point and you can read them in one day. They also make you think. This one started me thinking about my own little boys. I can't help but wonder what they'll think of me as they get older. They love me now. Isaac is practically attached to my hip most of the time. But I know that in a few short years, these two boys who love hugs and kisses from their mommy will shy away from them. They will become embarrassed of me as all teens are embarrassed of their mothers. I can only hope that as they get older they will come to appreciate me. I hope that they remember me reading stories to them and playing games with them and baking goodies with them and saying prayers with them. Most of all, though, I hope that they remember that I loved them as much as any mother can love.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Ash Wednesday

I took the boys to get ashes for the first time in their lives today. I decided that they were old enough to understand the symbolism and participate in the ritual marking the beginning of Lent. We went to a brief noontime prayer service at our parish led by our pastoral minister. I had prepared the children beforehand explaining to them what the ashes were and that someone would make the sign of the cross on their forehead and that they would have a dark smudge there after - an outward sign of their Christianity.

After the service, I took them to our local science museum which is featuring a special dinosaur exhibit right now. It was a special treat during David's vacation from school. I was a little self-conscious as we walked in this very public place with the outward signs of our Christianity plastered literally across our foreheads. Of course, I should not have felt that way at all. I should be proud of my Christianity, and people should be able to tell I am a Christian by the way that I treat others whether or not there is a visible sign on me.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Hidden Power of Kindness


I just posted a new book review of The Hidden Power of Kindness by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik

Lenten Resolutions

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. It is time to make those Lenten Resolutions - doing something for God. You can do something positive - for example saying more prayers or reading the Bible daily or trying to be nicer to people, or you can give something up like a favorite goody or a bad habit you might have. Or you may choose to do something positive and give up something as well. Lent is meant to be a time of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It is a time to make ourselves better, to become new people for the Easter experience.

I wish you all a very blessed Lent.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Free Download - Letters to Mary from a Young Mother


After 3 years, I have come to terms with the fact that my book will never be a best seller. Still, those who have read it told me that it touched them deeply. It is a honest portrayal of the struggles I went through as I attempted to adjust to motherhood and I wrote it to help others going through the same struggles. In that spirit, I am now offering it as a free download to be shared with any and all mothers. (Of course, if someone wants to buy it to give as a gift, I wouldn't object :) )

Download it here:
Letters to Mary from a Young Mother

Buy it here:

Romanced by Jesus

This article appeared in the Emphasis On Moms newsletter for today. The image of Jesus as lover is not one that is used that often, but it is certainly a valid one. Jesus has often been referred to as a bridegroom, and those women who choose to live a celibate life dedicated to Christ have long been called "brides of Christ." I thought this article was wonderful.


Romanced ~ By Paula Moldenhauer


"I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3b, NIV

I’m a Pride and Prejudice fan. I’ve read the book and watched the movie in every version I know of, from an old black and white to the BBC mini-series, to a couple of recent renditions. There are literary reasons I love this work—like character development with wonderful layers. But let’s be honest. I love the story because of the romance. It’s not just fluff, but a romance in which the hero (Mr. Darcy) truly falls in love with the heroine (Miss Elizabeth Bennett) because he discovers not only her outward beauty, but also the reality of her soul.

A friend of mine couldn’t bring herself to watch the movie for some time. It hurt too much because she didn’t believe her husband saw and loved her soul, like Darcy did Elizabeth’s. Watching the movie only brought out the pain she lived with daily—the pain of a marriage in which she didn’t feel treasured.
Then one day it all changed.

My friend’s daughter watched the movie and my friend attempted to flee the room, which was her normal response. God stopped her flight as He spoke these words to her heart, “I love you like that.”

This romantic movie now brings my friend joy instead of heartache, because she knows there is one who really does know the reality of her soul and loves it. She finally feels adored.

For many women, Valentine’s Day brings the same pain my friend experienced. They longed to be romanced, to know someone has seen their soul and adores it. But the pain of broken relationship or a marriage without intimacy leaves them hungry with a longing that is never satisfied. This type of sorrow is real and valid. We were created for intimate relationship with the man in our life. When it is missing, our heart aches.

If you are one of those women, maybe it will comfort you to know there is One who sees your soul and is crazy in love with you. His name is Jesus. The Bible sometimes calls Him the Bridegroom. If you’ve felt forgotten this Valentine’s Day, remember that He never forgets you. He loves you even better than Mr. Darcy loves Elizabeth. He will never abandon you, belittle you, or forget you. His love is an everlasting love. As you heart hungers for intimacy, turn it toward the One who knows you most and still loves you best, Jesus.

~ A home schooling mother of four, Paula Moldenhauer is passionate about God's grace and intimacy with Jesus. Her website offers book reviews, home schooling hints, and a free weekly devotional, Soul Scents. Subscribe to Soul Scents at www.soulscents.us. Visit her blog at http://gracereign.blogspot.com. Contact Paula at Paula@soulscents.us.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Giving in Good Measure

"Give to everyone who asks of you, and from the one who takes what is yours do not demand it back. . . Give and gifts will be given to you; a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing, will be poured into your lap. For the measure with which you measure will in turn be measured to you." Luke 6: 30, 38

It's tax time again, which means that my husband and I are having our annual argument regarding our level of charitable giving. By mutual agreement, I handle the finances in our house, which means that I get to write the checks. He trusts that the bills will get paid, that I won't let us fall into financial ruin, and that I will do my best to save for our future and invest wisely. He also knows that I give to charity. This has caused him pain since the day we got married, but it is one of those factors of my character that he chooses to overlook for a good 360 days of the year.

Tax time, however, is a different story. While I pay the bills, he takes care of preparing our tax return. This means once a year I have to turn over an accounting of that year's generosity - an itemized list of what I gave to who with a grand total that promptly gives my husband a headache. He will generally walk around the house for several days bringing up that figure at random moments, at which point I smile very sweetly at him in an attempt to remind him why exactly it is that he loves me despite this difference in opinion and financial management. After a little while, it blows over, until next year.

It was fitting then that this passage from Luke should be this week's gospel. It gave me ammunition in my annual case that charity is a good thing. Jesus told us to give to the poor and to love our neighbor. That is the first reason that I give a percentage of our income to charitable organizations. It is the right thing to do.

The second reason I give is contained in the second half of the scripture passage: "For the measure with which you measure will in turn be measured to you." God has been extremely good to us. While there have certainly been times in our marriage when money has been very scarce, we have always had what we needed when we needed it. At the times when our financial situation has grown most desperate, I have increased our charitable giving. It always seems to work out that God soon provides the money we need.

Giving to God first means placing your financial health in God's hands, which is not always easy to do. It can be hard to trust, especially when faced with a large stack of bills and limited funds with which to pay them. It is very tempting to consider passing on writing that check for charity in order to pay for something else. But giving to God first somehow makes what is left go farther. It helps you prioritize the expenses in your life and really consider how you want to spend the money you do have.

So, yes, give to God because it is right and good, but also trust that God will provide for you as well. Even my husband can't argue with that logic!

StandUpGirl

Here is a link to a website I learned about from the National Right to Life news:

Stand Up Girl is a peer to peer website designed to support pregnant teens in choosing life, often against the wishes of their boyfriends and parents. It is hard to read their stories, but it is wonderful to see these young women helping each other.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Working on Forgiveness

I was reading At Home with Our Faith today - a little four page newsletter that David's school sends home once a month. Mary Lynn Hendrickson was writing about the importance of forgiveness, especially as it relates to Lent. The whole Lenten / Easter experience is about forgiveness. God loved us so much he sent his only Son to save us from our sins. God is always ready to forgive when we ask for forgiveness. And so should we be ready to forgive others who hurt us. In fact, we say that in the "Our Father" - "Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us."

Lent is about turning our back on our old ways, the habits that keep us from having the loving relationship with God and others that we should, so that on Easter we can celebrate our new life, our new birth in Christ. We all fail. We all sin. That is part of life here on earth. We can, thanks to Christ, all get a second chance (and a third and a fourth and a fifth, etc.!) to try again.

As Hendrickson points out, however, we must try not to make the same mistake again. We can't go tell God we are sorry while having every intention of doing the same thing tomorrow. Yes, we may trip up and actually make the same mistake the next day, but we can't have planned on doing it. We actually have to try to resist temptation and try to do better.

An "Act of Contrition" is a good thing to add to one's night prayers as you look over the day and tell God you are sorry for the times you screwed up:

"O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you, because I dread the loss of heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because you are all good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of your grace, to sin no more and to avoid the near occasions of sin. Amen"

Thursday, February 15, 2007

New Articles on the Website

With Valentine's Day now behind us, it is time to start focusing on Lent which begins next Wednesday. Here are the articles I currently have up on the website that deal with Lent and Easter:

Lent, A Time for God


A Fresh Look at Fasting


The Essential Message of Easter


Easter Morning Sermon by St. John Chrysostom


What if This is Not Your Easter



Hopefully I'll be able to get some more articles up during Lent itself.

I also posted two wonderful book reviews by Lisa Hendey from Catholic Mom:

Growing in Faith When A Catholic Marriage Fails by Antoinette Bosco


Breakthrough! The Bible for Young Catholics

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

The Gift of a Snow Day

Today was David's first snow day from school. We have spent the day getting our share of mixed precipitation - snow, sleet, and freezing rain. It is a horrible day if you have to be outside in it, but Bernie works from home, there was no school today, and we were content to just spend the day in the house. Every now and then it is wonderful to have a day when you don't have to go anywhere and can just relax and enjoy each other's company!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Why Romance Novels Can Be Bad for Your Marriage

Allright, I'll admit it. I've been temporarily sucked in by the romance bug. After my foray into "The Wedding" by Nicholas Sparks last week, I decided I would read more of his books. The only ones on the shelves at the library I went to Saturday were "The Notebook" and "Message in a Bottle," both of which I already read. I decided on rereading "The Notebook." No denying it is a wonderful story about love succeeding against all odds.

I usually stay away from celebrity gossip, but I was reading recently that Jessica Simpson decided to end her marriage after she read "The Notebook." I'm sure that her marriage was having problems before she read the book, but there is a reason that they call it fiction. Life isn't that ideal, love isn't that simple and clear cut. I know I use fiction as an escape sometimes, to just get lost in a different time and place and soak in a story. But when it starts to make you rethink your relationships and you begin comparing your husband negatively to some Romeo on the pages of a novel, you need to step back for a moment and take stock of what you do have.

It's Valentine's Day, and the whole world is telling us our life should be some romantic dream. My husband has maybe one romantic bone in his body and I think that he used it up when we were dating. My Valentine's Day will not involve candlelight and roses and that is totally OK. Romance is wonderful, but there are other things that matter so much more. When I see him playing with our boys or taking the time to wash the kitchen floor, those are the moments that make me love him. Every night when we kiss good night and say "I love you" before going to sleep, I know that I am where I belong.

For the record, this morning I picked up "At First Sight" by Sparks at a different library (yes, I actually go to three different libraries during the week - Isaac does storytime at two of them and then we go as a family on Saturdays). It is another good story that I am enjoying. But it is just that - a story, and I'll take my real non-romantic marriage over a story any day of the week.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Pre-Cana Programs at their Best

My own Pre-Cana day was a disaster. My future husband had the flu but due to our work schedules, it was the only Saturday we could make it before our wedding. We had no choice but to go. We spent the day with what seemed like a hundred other couples sitting at tables listening to talks by well-meaning people who obviously felt that their purpose was to scare us out of getting married. I don't think anyone said anything positive about marriage the whole day. During one of the talks, several young women left the room in tears. It was truly awful.

Surely, there had to be a better way to prepare people for marriage. I was thrilled when, a year later, the pastoral minister asked my husband and I to be part of the pre-cana team at our new parish. Their pre-cana program was in its second year. The four main talks, focusing on spirituality, communication, sexuality, and finances were all being given by couples who had been married 30+ years, but the evaluations the previous year suggested that the day could be helped by having the perspective of some younger couples. In response, they recruited four "newlywed" couples, all married five years or less to contribute to the day by giving little presentations on some of the challenges early marriage presented. I gave a talk on coping with busy schedules (my husband and I both were working full-time and going to graduate school at the time - we saw each other about 5 minutes a day!). My husband spoke on misunderstandings. Other talks focused on outside stresses, the changes that parenthood bring to a marriage, in-laws, and coping with change.

Being part of that pre-cana program was a wonderful gift. Even though my husband and I had been married a little while at that point, I felt I learned so much from listening to these older, wiser couples. They didn't gloss over the difficulties that marriage presented, but they were overwhelmingly positive and encouraging and were even willing to laugh at themselves! You could see the love that these partners had for each other, even after all those years and all the ups and downs.

The following year I was recruited to give the natural family planning talk which has been my domain ever since. After nine years, three of the older couples have resigned from the team (although the couple who gives the sexuality talk, who are now in their late 60s and have been married for 44 years, are still going strong!). Other couples have joined the team, blessing all of us with their insights. Meanwhile, the "newlyweds" that were recruited so long ago have now all been married 10 - 15 years and have become great friends in the process. Our children go to school together. We see each other at mass and parish functions. Being on the pre-cana team, where we share some of the intimate details of our lives and relationships in order to help others, has only served to strengthen our connection.

Hopefully, the engaged couples who have passed through our program have benefited as well. Unlike the program that my husband and I attended, we try to make this day about them. Yes, we impart information and share our stories, but almost every presentation includes time and activities for them to do with each other - alone. Our day is intended to prompt conversation. If these couples can lay the foundation for working out their differences and cooperating with each other, then we have done our job. If we can invite them to consider some issues that may not have crossed their minds, we have accomplished much.

Engagement is such a wonderful time in a person's life, a time of hope and looking to the future. Marriage preparation in the Church should be a hopeful experience as well. It is always so great to see these young couples so much in love moving toward the day when they will become one. They are embracing marriage at a time when the world doesn't support marriage anywhere near as much as it should. It is the hope of all of us on the pre-cana team that we can offer that support and encouragement, that we can show examples of loving marriages that are surviving and thriving despite the challenges that marriage presents. That should be the goal of all marriage preparation programs.

Friday, February 09, 2007

The Essential Bible

Have you wanted to learn more about the Bible but aren't sure where to begin? Essential Bible Everything You Need To Understand The Old And New Testaments by Rev. John Trigilio Jr. , Ph.D.,Th.D. and Rev. Kenneth Brighenti, Ph.D. is a wonderful place to start.

The authors begin by discussing what the Bible is and how it came to be, even explaining where the terms "Bible" and "Scripture" come from. They also talk about the role that both oral and written tradition played in forming the holy book and how the books that make up our current Bible were decided upon. Different understandings of divine revelation are explained as are the terms "inspired" and "inerrant." The authors also compare and contrast different versions of the Bible and discuss what you should look for in choosing a Biblical translation.

The second half of "The Essential Bible" goes through the books of the Bible one by one, explaining the background of each book and the major characters and events that come into play. It provides a great overview of the scriptural experience, thereby allowing you to then read an individual book of the Bible with greater knowledge of how that one part fits into the whole.

One of the best features of "The Essential Bible" are the little highlighted facts which are designated as an "Essential E" or an "E Fact." They provide important information in an easy-to-comprehend format. One thing about studying the Bible is that there is always more to learn. Whether you are a beginner in exploring the Bible or have been reading it for years, you will find something new and informative in "The Essential Bible" to enhance your experience of scripture.

Essential Bible Everything You Need To Understand The Old And New Testaments

Taking Time to Make Someone's Day

One of the easiest ways to make someone's day is to offer a kind word. I know there are days that I am just dragging, feeling pretty down on life in general, and then someone will smile and pay a quick compliment, or someone will email or post on a blog and say that something I wrote meant something to them, or one of my boys will come over and give me a hug and say "I love you, Mama", and all of a sudden life is looking hopeful again.

It only takes a moment to reach out to someone, to give a real smile and a pleasant word to the cashier at a store or a waiter at a restaurant, to tell someone that their sweater sets off their eyes, or to tell your child that they did a good job with whatever task he was working on, or to tell your spouse that you love them. You can make someone's day by reaching out in kindness. Chances are in the process, you will make your own day, too!

Thursday, February 08, 2007

The Wedding

With Valentine's Day coming up, I decided to indulge in a romance novel. I was on my out of the library on Saturday and I saw "The Wedding" by Nicholas Sparks (www.nicholassparks.com) laying on a table. I love his books. I read "The Notebook" back in 2000 and couldn't put it down. I finished it in the parking lot before going to work one morning. I just sat there with tears streaming down my face! I followed that up with "Message in a Bottle" and "A Walk to Remember," both of which also made me cry.

While my husband firmly refers to all of these books as "chick-flicks," Sparks does have a way of tugging at the emotions. Bernie even teared up at the movie version of "The Notebook." (Although he did say that if I wrote that he did, he would vehemently deny!)I liked "The Wedding" which centers on the troubled marriage of one of Noah and Allie's children after the end of "The Notebook" because it dealt with a relationship within a marriage. It dealt with people struggling to rekindle the spark after 30 years of marriage and without giving anything away, it does have a happy ending which like his other books did leave me crying. It is so nice to read about people working to keep their marriage alive, that it is possible to have romance within a marriage, even after that many years. Marriages seem so disposable today and this novel helps to work against that trend. That in itself makes it well worth reading. It was also just a wonderful way to lose myself in a story for a while. Every now and then it is nice to do that.



Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Thoughts Matter

"From within people, from their hearts, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile"

Mark 7:21-23

I often find that while (at least on my good days) I'm able to control my actions and not do any bad things, keeping my thoughts in check is a much more difficult battle. All too often less than charitable thoughts cross my mind. Yet as Jesus tells us in this Gospel passage, not only what we do matters, but what we think. In fact, all wrong actions actually begin in our thoughts first. And so, I will keep trying to monitor what is going through my mind and pray to keep the evil unkind thoughts away.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Making Time to Pray

In a perfect world, I would have an hour a day to pray in peace and quiet and be focused totally on God. I never really appreciated the value of the consecrated contemplative life until I had a family. I'm sure that there are mothers out there who do find the time to sequester themselves and pray. I am not one of them. Instead, I pray throughout my day.

I say my first rosary of the day first thing in the morning after the alarm goes off but before I have to drag my weary body out of bed so that I can be dressed before the kids get up. After Isaac and I bring David to school, I let Isaac watch a little bit of television (please no hate mail on how bad it is to let your kids watch TV - I never let them watch more than 1 hour a day and to me it is worth it to have time to pray and collect myself for the day) while I say my morning prayers, Bible reading, and Divine Mercy Chaplet. I say two other rosaries during the day, usually while driving or exercising. I say my evening prayers before bed. I have been known to say them in the shower. Of course, I also pray at other times throughout the day, as needs arise, quick prayers that ask for help and insight.

I'm sharing my prayer life with you to show that it is possible to work prayer into your life. As I said, it is certainly not the ideal, but it works for me and I feel it is better to pray while doing something else than to not pray at all. St. Paul told us to "pray always." In my own way, I try.

Website Success!

Thank you for the prayers!. I was finally able to connect with my web service provider and have renewed my domain through 2012 (that sounds a little scary just hearing that!) - my act of faith that this ministry will continue! The website is once again up and funtioning.

I once again apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused any of you.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Website Troubles

Yes, my website problems are continuing. My domain name has expired and my website hosting company will not allow me to renew it. For that matter, they won't even return my emails which is extremely frustrating. Someone wrote me today to tell me that what comes up when you put in spiritualwoman.net is unsavory. I realize that. It is unfortunately completely out of my control. On March 13, the domain name will be "off hold" and I can rebuy it if someone doesn't beat me to it. My other alternatives are to purchase a new domain name and start over or forget the website completely and post all the old articles here on the blog. I hate to do that, however, because of all the links that exist out there on the web to the spiritualwoman site.

So, please pray that somehow my hosting company will respond to me and that this situation will be rectified.

Thank you!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Send Me!

"Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, 'Whom shall I send? Who will go for us?' "Here I am,' I said, 'send me!'"

Isaiah 6:8

I had the opportunity to attend mass twice this weekend, which meant that twice I got to hear the wonderful hymn "Here I am, Lord" by Daniel L. Schutte:

"Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord, if you lead me.
I will hold your people in my heart."

That song is so beautiful and uplifting and a perfect example of how good liturgical music can bring scripture to life and rouse a congregation to prayer and action. After hearing that song, I always want to go out and serve God.

Isaiah responded to God's call with enthusiasm, "Send me!" When God calls us, do we respond with equal enthusiasm? I know there are times when God's call comes and I look around searching for someone else to answer. "Surely, God, you weren't looking for me. There has to be someone else better around here. Someone without kids. Someone with more time on her hands. Someone with better gifts." And my list of excuses goes on.

Unlike in scripture, where God's call is direct and not likely to be misunderstood, God's calls today usually comes through other people in much more subtle ways. The only call I am likely to get in the middle of the night is one from my children calling me to tuck them in, or comfort them after a bad dream, or fix a runny nose. Yet, those are calls from God - calls to serve. God's call may come from a parent at my child's school who asks me to help out with a special project, or from the Director of Religious Education asking me to help out with CCD. God's call may come in a supermarket with an elderly person asking for assistance to reach something on a high shelf. It may come in a neighbor's driveway that needs shoveling, or from a friend who needs help with childcare.

God calls us in so many ways every day. Some calls are large and require us to change everything about our lives to answer. Those calls ask us to say "yes" to serving God in a religious vocation or in a new career path or in a new child. But most calls are of a much smaller variety. There are people all around us who need our help. We don't need to look very far to find ways of serving God and "holding his people in our heart." God is calling. Will we answer with Isaiah's conviction? "Here I am, Lord. Send me!"

Go at Your Child's Pace

It sometimes seems like people are always in a hurry. How many times a day do you tell your children to "Hurry Up!"? I know, I'm as guilty of this as anyone else, especially in the morning when we are rushing out the door to get 5 year old David to school on time. I start speaking in short direct sentences: "Isaac, bathroom." "David, clothes." "Isaac, socks and shoes." "Gentleman, coats, scarves, hats." "Let's go - it's 7:20, we need to leave!"

There are times, however, when there isn't a need to rush. At those times, I like to go at their pace, instead of having them try to go at mine. There is nothing like taking a walk with a small child. They just take everything in - paying attention to small details of nature that I would most likely pass by without a glance.

Children don't like to rush. They have no built-in internal clock that tells them that they need to try to cram as much into 24 hours as humanly possible. They take their time, enjoying whatever it is they are doing, until they decide it is time to move onto a new activity.

We can learn from our children. We can learn to relax, to really pay attention to whatever it is we are doing. We can learn to observe, to notice all the small details that we would otherwise overlook in our rush to get to our next destination.

Yes, unfortunately, there are times when we do need to rush. But sometimes we rush when there is really no need to. Once in a while try to slow down. Go at your child's pace. Dawdle a while. Take it all in! Enjoy life a little!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Website Troubles

I apologize to any of you who haven't been able to access my website. My domain name expired due to some difficulty I have been having in contacting my web service provider. Hopefully, this problem will be rectified soon.

Thank you for being patient!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Hidden Power of Kindness

I just started reading "The Hidden Power of Kindness" by Rev. Lawrence G. Lovasik. This book was originally written in the 1960s, but my mother recommended it to me after hearing about it on EWTN. I do try to be a kind person. Of course, sometimes I do fail and have to try again, but Fr. Lovasik offered the following rules for being kind which I think are very good.

"The rules are simple - three little dont's and three little dos.

Don'ts
1. Don't speak unkindly of anyone.
2. Don't speak unkindly to anyone.
3. Don't act unkindly toward anyone.

Dos
1. Do speak kindly of someone at least once a day.
2. Do think kindly about someone at least once a day.
3. Do act kindly toward someone at least once a day."

Inner Fulfillment

Today marks the debut of the daily "Inner Fulfillment" devotional ezine which I am a writer for. Click through the link below to subscribe. Thanks!