How the “Stop Doing List” Changed my Prayer Life

If you know me, even a little, you know that prayer is very important to me. However, that wasn’t always the case. Like everyone else, I am busy and have a lot of responsibilities. It is easy to make excuses as to why I don’t have time to pray. However, prayer is something that I know I need to fit into my schedule regularly so I went on a quest to change my habits and make more space for it in my life.

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Image by OpenClipart-Vectors (2013) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Thus, I decided to finally create and stick with a morning routine. If you are a long-time reader, you may remember me gushing about Crystal Paine’s Make Over Your Morning Course. I’ve mentioned the course several times because ever since I’ve started implementing the strategies outlined in the course, I’ve been able to make time to pray in the morning almost every day. I kid you not. Sure, I’m not perfect and I’ve missed once in a while; however, skipping my prayer time is now the exception, not the norm!

The strategy that helped me most is the reminder that “the mornings start the evening before.” I created my 3-5 non-negotiable things that I wanted to get done each evening, started doing those things, and I was good to go. Therefore, when Crystal created the Make Over Your Evenings course, which I received as a free gift because I am an affiliate, I didn’t think I needed it. I mentally thanked her for the gift and promptly put it aside. Big mistake.

As usual, life got hectic and our evenings became busier. We were out of the house a lot during the evenings because of Andrew’s activities and my evening routine started falling by the wayside. Sadly, taking the time to pray before bed was one of those things that got dropped.Β  I knew things needed to change so I decided to go ahead and check out the Make Over Your Evenings course. At best, I figured I would get a couple of reminders reminders and get a little accountability.

I went through days one and two and completed the required exercises. Great. Then I started working through day three and – boom – MIND BLOWN!

On day three, Crystal encourages us to look at our calendar conflicts. She borrows from Alii Worthington, author of the book Breaking Busy, and challenges us to creat a STOP DOING LIST. What is that, you ask? A stop doing list is “a list of items you intentionally decide not to do so you can focus your time and energy on your greatest priorities.”

Reading about the stop doing list reminded me that I have a choice in how I spend my time. Just like with my mornings, I can determine what my evenings look like – not my schedule, not other people and their priorities – me. Crystal goes on to ask some pointed questions that really made me think. She challenged me to reexamine the breathing room (or lack thereof) in my schedule, my sleeping habits, and my present commitments. Even more importantly, she challenged me to look for areas in my life where I have lost my joy.

I won’t lie: making my stop doing list was hard. Saying no is hard. Saying no to good things is even harder. However, if I want to keep it real and make time for the important things, letting some other things go is a must. Thus, I made the list and started weeding things out. It hasn’t been perfect but I’m taking baby steps and taking each day as it comes. The best thing is that I am now able to get some time for prayer in the evenings. Not every day, YET, but a few times a week at least, so YAY for progress!

Are you looking to add some prayer time into your life? Are you looking to make some changes to your life and schedule, especially with school starting up again soon? If so, I encourage you to make your own stop doing list. Better yet, I highly recommend that you take either the Make Over Your Mornings or Make Over Your Evening courses. Both courses have made a big difference for me and I am sure they will do the same for you.

And, since each course is only $17 a piece, you get a great bargain. Well worth the price, for sure.

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Tweetable: How the Stop Doing List Can Change Your Prayer Life

(This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)

Product Review: Saint Scripts Series 3

I have had the privilege of reviewing a few of the products from Equipping Catholic Families such as Journey with the Saints, Lingo Bingo, and Super Saints. Andrew had a lot of fun with those products; therefore, when Monica offered me the chance to review the Saint Scripts Series 3, I readily agreed.

To be honest, when I first downloaded the product, I thought maybe they were a little too young for Andrew. He is 10 now and he is not into coloring very much. He has also gotten a little picky about what games he likes to play so I was concerned that he may give me a hard time about coloring/using the Saint Scripts. Wrong! I was way wrong. Andrew LOVED these cards!

Saint Scripts 3 Saint Brendan

Andrew looking through the cards

When he saw me cutting out the cards he said, “Oh, these are just like the other saint games we have!” Then he ran to get his colored pencils. It did my heart good to see him enthusiastically reading about each saint and then deciding that he wanted to color in Saint Brendan and Saint Gemma.

Saint Scripts Series 3

Andrew coloring in the blank cards of St. Brendan and St. Gemma

I haven’t gotten them laminated yet, but for now we are using the cards as flash cards so that Andrew can get to know some of the saints. I am also thinking of printing out a second set so with can use them as a sort of saint “go-fish” card game. (Go-Fish is still one of Andrew’s favorite card games!)

As always, Andrew wanted to have his say about the product and he said, “I really like the cards. Reading about the saints was fun. I don’t like to color but I didn’t mind coloring a couple of the saint cards. I want to use the cards to play a card game.

He also told me to give the product four (4) stars and I agree. The Saint Series 3 is lovely and would be a fun addition every catholic household. πŸ™‚ *

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Tweetable: Product Review: Saint Scripts Series 3

*Thanks to Monica for providing me a complimentary copy of the Saint Scripts Series 3 printable. I was not required to give a positive review. My opinions are my own.

Product Review: Super Saints Craft Kit and Giveaway

About the Super Saints Craft Kit

The Super Saints Craft kit is a set of 54 saint cards that gives families a fun way to learn about the lives of the saints. It also comes with rules for two games, Super Saints Stats and Super Saints Showdown.

Super-Saints-cover-54

My Comments

In the past, I have reviewed two products from Equipping Catholic families, Lingo Bingo and Journey with Jesus: Sacraments. Therefore, when I had the opportunity to review the Super Saints Craft kit, I was happy to do so. In addition, because I enjoyed Lingo Bingo and journey with Jesus, I had high standards for the kit. I am happy to report that the Super Saints Craft kit not only met my expectations, but exceeded them.

Now, I didn’tΒ  have the time or have the chance to professionally print the cards at Staples or Office max, so I printed them out myself. I pretty much used up all my ink, but I wanted to try out the cards and get the review up in time for you to participate in the giveaway. It was worth it, and I’m glad I printed them out; however, I highly recommend you get them professionally printed and laminated so that they are sturdier and easier to play with.

And play we did! It was a lot of fun to play the games and I learned just as much as Andrew did about the saints. The craft gift is a game that we will play over and over again. The cards are adorable and contain simple and interesting facts that are easy to memorize.

Also, I can see the cards as being very versatile. For example, I am thinking that I may print out two copies of the cards and using them as Catholic version of “go fish.” They can also just be used as simple flash cards. I am pretty sure that those who are more creative than I will come up with better ideas of their own.

So, as you may have guessed, I definitely recommend the craft kit and give it four (4) stars.

The Giveaway

To celebrate the release of these Super Saints Craft Kits, Monica is hosting a giveaway. You can win a $40 gift card for any of the Catholic printables on equippingcatholicfamilies.com. The giveaway ends tomorrow (Thursday, August 20) at 11pm, so don’t delay in getting in your entry!

 

Product Review: Make Over Your Mornings by Crystal Paine

From the Make over your Mornings Website:

“Do you wish you could find time to refuel your tank, improve your health, invest more into your family, or even just to slow down and breathe? You don’t have to keep living life feeling constantly behind, overworked, and overwhelmed!”

My Comments

I have been following Crystal Paine since ‘way back when’ she was writing her “mommy blog.” I followed her to Money Saving Mom and have been hooked ever since. I love her authentic, honest voice, and her practical tips for living a frugal, intentional life.

Couple that with my desire to wake up earlier and overhaul my morning routine, there was no way I wasΒ  NOT going to get my hands on Crystal’s new program, Make Over Your Mornings. And truly, it was one of the best investments in a product I have ever made.

I’ve gone through the program once and I am going through the program again so that I can solidify my new routine and develop stronger, longer-lasting habits.

Here are five specific reasons I love this program:

1. It is not a “one size fits all” Program.

Crystal doesn’t tell you what you have to do, and/or when you have to do it. You certainly do not have to get up at 5am (unless you want to!) in order to follow this program. What she does is give you concepts, ideas, and suggestions that you can tailor to your own needs and state in life. Crystal is all about helping her readers/customers to live with intention, and that is what this program does. It offers guidelines and a pathway to living the life you want to live for yourself.

2. It is not about perfection.

No one is perfect and no, including Crystal, follows her routine perfectly all the time. The program is about developing habits that will carry you, support you, and set you up for success in living a life of intention and purpose. But if it takes you 10, 100, or 1,000 starts and stops before getting it “right,” that’s okay! Once you purchase the program, you have permanent access to the program for as long as it exists. Thus, if you want to re-do the program over and over again, you can. If you want to concentrate on one particular day for a week or month, or even a year, you can do that too.

3. You do not have to do it alone.

One of the most important concepts of the program is getting an accountability partner. To help with that, Crystal provides a lot of extra support. Purchasers of the program gain access to a private Facebook group, a public Facebook group, and a weekly newsletter.

Having gone through the program already, I can attest that the people in the private FB group are very supportive and non-judgemental. Several people have even used the group to find their own accountability partners.

4. It is affordable.

I was fortunate that I was able to get in on the pricing deals during the launch period. Still, at $17.00 the program is still a steal. You get 14 high-quality videos, a printable workbook, printable worksheets, daily “homework” or “projects,”Β  and if you have time, there are other resources and links. You even get a little peek into Crystal’s own life and routine.********

5. It doesn’t take up a lot of time.

Seriously. The Make Over Your Mornings promotional materials state that you can “transform your mornings – in 15 minutes a day!” and it is spot on. It literally took me 15 minutes a day – and sometimes less – to listen to each video, read the work book, and do the daily assignments.

And, although I still have a long way to go, these 15 minutes a had have already helped me make great strides in improving my mornings, and my whole day. By the end of the 14 days I felt less stress, have been more intentional and productive during my days, and have become more laser focused on those things that are most important to me.

My One Critique

(If you can call it that.) In order to get to the printable worksheets for the daily activities, you have to go to go look for them in the back of the work book. If you print out the work book, then it is no big deal. However, it would be nice if each applicable worksheet was available directly on that day’s page. (For example: It would be great if there was a link to day two’s printable directly on the day two page under video so we don’t have to go back to the workbook to get the worksheet. Does that make sense?!)

But, this is nitpicking, and has nothing to do with the quality of the course. I only mention it as a suggestion. πŸ™‚

Anyhow, it probably goes without saying, but I give Make Over Your Mornings five (5) stars, and highly recommend it to anyone wanting to stop running around in circles and start living with intention and purpose.

********Good news: from Monday, August 8, 2016 – Monday, August 15, 2016 (one week only) Crystal is putting the Make Over Your Mornings course on sale for only $10 (regularly $17). Also, in case you missed it, Crystal has created a Make Over Your Evenings course and it is also on sale for $10 (regularly $17). However, if you choose to buy both programs, you will pay $10 for the first program and only $7 for the second program – that’s the equivalent of two programs for the price of one. (This is the last time either program will be on sale until 2017 so if you are thinking of purchasing either program [or both] now would be the time.)

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P.S. This review was not solicited in any way. I wrote this review on my own, and all thoughts expressed are my own. This is not a paid review, but the post does contain affiliate links. This means that for each purchase made through these links (at NO extra cost to you) I get a small cut of the proceeds. Please see my disclosure policy for more details.

Product Review: Lingo Bingo

Lingo Bingo

Lingo Bingo is a Catholic-style Bingo game and craft that helps teach children the correct names for the various vestments and vessels used at mass and some sacramentals of our faith (such as the scapular).

I’m not a big fan of bingo. I never was; however, we had a blast with Lingo Bingo! First we colored some of the pages:

Coloring Lingo Bingo

 

Completed coloring page for Lingo Bingo

Then we cut out the game pieces:

Lingo Bingo Pieces

Then it was time to play!

Lingo Bingo board

One of the Lingo Bingo playing “boards”

A friend of mine was visiting and so she, myself and Andrew had fun playing. We each took turns calling out the name pieces while the other two played. We played regular bingo, four corners and making an X.

Lingo Bingo is a fun and easy learning tool. Not only is Andrew learning the names of the vessels, etc; I learned a few myself. I never heard of “Aspersory” and “Aspergillum” although I know the objects called by those names.

Another great thing about Lingo Bingo is that it is actually three games in one. The product page mentioned that this Lingo Bingo craft kit can also be used as a matching game and it can. We also used it to play our version of “Go Fish” (which, of course is technically a matching game, too). So, Lingo Bingo is a bingo game, traditional matching game and card game all in one. Gotta love that. πŸ™‚

As with the Journey with Jesus: Sacrament review I did, Andrew wanted to add his two cents. Here’s what he had to say (in his exact words) about Lingo Bingo:

I like this game a lot. There was too much coloring though. I only wanted to color one page. I like bingo. Some of the words were hard to read and say. There were funny words that crack me up! I like “Go Fish” and beat my mom. I don’t like the matching game as much but I won that too. I want to play Lingo Bingo with my grandma. It is fun to play.

(Just to say, as a mom, I don’t think there was too much to color. Maybe it’s a “girl” thing, but I don’t there could be such a thing of “too much to color. LOL! Andrew never likes to color very much of anything…)

I absolutely recommend Lingo Bingo to other Catholic families and give it four (4) stars.

My thanks to Monica over at Equipping Catholic Families and Arma Dei Shoppe for giving me a copy of Lingo Bingo in exchange for a review! I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

 

Book Review: Sons of Cain by Val Bianco

From the Book Description:

“An ancient group of twelve unspeakably powerful men are prepared to implement mass suicide in the United States. Already in control of the Congress and the Presidency, all that they lack is the Supreme Court. The only thing standing between these SONS OF CAIN and the lives of the Court is a small group of dedicated warriors.

Wealthy ex SEAL, Nick Rieper and his dozen “Knights of Longinus” have pledged their lives and fortunes to battle international Satanism. Battle is joined as they engage the Cainites and their demon leader, Namon, in mortal combat.”

My Thoughts:

What can I say possibly say about Sons of Cain? I don’t even know how to review the book. IT’S THAT GOOD. A few words to describe the book that come to mind:

Riveting.

Thrilling.

Page-turning.

Crazy good.

Captivating.

Scary.

Sons of Cain holds your attention from the Prologue to Epilogue and every page in between. The reader doesn’t just witness the fight between good and evil in the book – the reader experiences it.

What makes the book scary isn’t that fact that it clearly points out the spiritual battle going on around us, which many of us are completely clueless about. What makes it scary is that Sons of Cain gives a very realistic picture of how the battle could be played out in real life; especially since this, this and this, is in fact real.

One of the things I loved about this book is how naturally and seamlessly he weaves in various teachings of the Catholic Church, without being preachy or overbearing. The protagonist and his men (including the priest in the story) are unapologetically Catholic, and openly share and talk about the faith often throughout the book. At the same time, the characters are realistic and “normal”. I also loved reading the transformation of the female character. All the characters were like “friends” to me by the end of the book.

Oh, and How Val portrays the evil characters is eerily realistic. When he talked about some of the evil men and angels the reader can almost smell the stench of evil coming from the book. I always try to fall asleep while praying, but while I was reading this book I was absolutely clutching my rosary and praying for spiritual protection!

In short, if you enjoy reading fast-paced, thrilling Catholic novels, you will LOVE this book. πŸ™‚

I can’t thank Val Bianco enough for kindly offering me a copy of Sons of Cain to read in exchange for a review. Thank you, Val!

I give this book my first ever five (5) star rating.

 

Product Review: Journey With Jesus: Sacraments

Journey with Jesus

via http://www.armadei.blogspot.com

Monica over at equippingcatholicfamilies.com was kind enough to give me the “Journey with Jesus: Sacraments” craft kit to review.

Journey with Jesus is a 23 page printable kit that teaches children about each of the 7 Sacraments as well as the Mass, the gifts and fruits of the Holy Spirit and the Stations of the Cross. Each page has fill in the blanks, prayers, Catechism and Scripture quotes and information regarding the Sacrament being studied. There are also pictures related to each Sacrament that the child can study. Once the pages are completed they can be made into an accordion scrapbook like in the picture above, or put into a store-bought scrapbook or one that you’ve created yourself.

My experience

So far, Andrew and I have worked on the Baptism and Sacrament of Penance pages. He is seven and will be making his First Holy Communion next year, God willing. My plan is to work on the pages as much as we can, put the scrapbook together and then revisit the book each time he receives a sacrament. And not being very creative (!) I’ve opted to just make our scrapbook out of construction paper.

So far Andrew and I have enjoyed working on the pages together. It’s been so wonderful talking about Baptism and Penance with him and watching his understanding and knowledge of our faith expand. I’ve read the Scripture and Catechism passages, having Andrew read the words he knows before he colored and glued and the pages to the construction paper.

If I had one slight criticism, it would be that the fill in the blank lines are a little too small. I’ve had to write the answers down for him because he’s not able to write that small yet. Having said, that, there really isn’t anyway to make them bigger and include everything on each page.

Andrew’s experience

When I asked Andrew how he like the craft kit, and told him I would be writing a review, he told me that he wanted to give his own review. πŸ™‚ This is what he said:

I like this stuff, except there’s too many words I don’t know. I like the pictures to color and I like gluing.

Here are a few pictures he wanted me to take of him working on the pages:

Andrew coloring

Baptism page

Finished Baptism

Happy Andrew

I definitely recommend this Sacrament craft kit and give the program four (4) stars. πŸ™‚