Top Ten Favorite Christian Music Artists

A lot of people enjoy listening to Christian music so I thought I’d share some of my current favorites.Β  I’m always on the look out for great Christian musics, so if you have any suggestions, do share… πŸ™‚

1. Avalon. Well, I actually only have one album of theirs: “Testify to Love: The Very Best of Avalon” but I absolutely love it! I listen to this over and over again! One of my all-time favorite Christian Albums.

2. Mark Mallet. I’ve mentioned Mark before. Besides his blog, though, he has a music ministry. His voice is amazing and when I pray along with his rosary CD, I am transported right into heaven!

3. Casting Crowns. What can I say? Casting Crown rocks! πŸ˜‰Β  Get a taste of their latest song “Until the Whole World Hears” in video on their official website.

4. Mercy Me. My mother introduced me to Mercy Me a couple of years ago. I am so glad she did! You can find more about them here.

5. Dana. You may be familiar with Dana. She performed for Pope John Paul II back when he visited the United States. I got to meet her briefly during the Youth 2000 event the late Cardinal O’Connor hosted in 2000. I love her soothing voice (even when singing “fast’ songs!).

6. Third Day. I’m not a huge fan of rock music; but, I’ve been a big fan of Third Day for a long time. One of my favorite songs from this is the well-known “Cry Out to Jesus.” They have a new album coming out in October and I can’t wait to check it out.

7. Jars of Clay. Although Jars of Clay have been around for a long time, I’ve just recently discovered their music. They have some really good songs.

8. John Michael Talbot. I love John Michael Talbot’s soulful voice. Listening to his music lifts my soul into heaven and many of his songs have helped me enter into a prayer.

9. Critical Mass. What a little edge to your Christian music? Critical Mass has it. πŸ™‚ They are another group that whose music I’ve just discovered, but so far I like what I’ve heard.

10. Francis Koerber. If you enjoy sacred music, you will love Francis Koerber. He is a composer of original ( and very beautiful!) sacred music. You can listen to his music here.

(Add your list to Top Ten Tuesday.)

Top Ten Blogs I Love and Recommend

I thought for this week’s Top Ten Tuesday I would offer some link love to some of my favorite blogs. Mind you, this list is not exhaustive: I have over 100 feeds in my Bloglines account! However, since this is a top ten list and not a top 100 list, I’m going to force myself to pick just some of my favorites. πŸ˜‰ (I may have to do a top ten favorite blog series!)

1. Blogging with Amy. Amy has, hands down, the best WordPress tutorial out there in the blogosphere. She has a whole series on building your blog from scratch (often including videos!) that are super easy to understand, and even easier to implement. I am frequently referring back to her blog for one thing or another!

2. A Year of Slow Cooking. I love my crock-pot and use it all the time, so this blog was a great find. I’m always on the lookout for new recipes to try – especially for my slow cooker – and there are so many easy and wonderful recipes on this site.

3. Mark Mallett. This blog is not for the faint of heart. Mark writes heavily about the “End Times” and the tribulations to come before Christ returns to earth; all written in a powerful and hopeful way. The video series he has done is also very powerful. Btw, he also has an amazing singing voice. He did a concert/worship event in OH while I lived there, and it was AMAZING.

4. Oh Amanda. Now, I’m not just including this because Amanda is host of the Top Ten Tuesday link-up!Β  I genuinely love her humorous writing style. I always leave her blog with a smile on my face. πŸ™‚

5. Mary Grace Holmes. I have been a lurker on this blog for sometime now. Her honesty in dealing with her struggles to have children and suffering through the loss of four babies have deeply touched my heart. I have never had to deal with a miscarriage, but I do relate to the desire of wanting to have more children. She is an inspiration to all who are struggling to conceive. (P.S. She is expecting again, so please join me in praying for her and her growing little one.)

6. Living in the Two Hearts. Again, I’m not including this because Anne is a client. She truly has beautiful reflections and meditations on discipleship, scripture and prayer. She doesn’t write on her blog often, but when she does, her writings are truly guided by the Holy Spirit.

7. Big Binder. I don’t live anywhere near Michigan and I still love reading Jen’s blog! She has the writing style where you feel like you’ve been friends with her forever. I can almost see myself having a grand time, sitting with a cup of tea and shooting the breeze with her! (Oh, and she just started co-hosting a weekly “recipe roundtable,’ so go check that out.)

8. Many Little Blessings. Angie’s also owns the Homeschool Classroom and Catholic Mothers Online, and all three of her sites are fabulous. She recently written several posts based on her experiences at the Savvy Blogging Summit that where chock-full of helpful information and tips! Her homeschooling tips and links are awesome, too. πŸ™‚

9. The Kennedy Adventures. I love Dianna’s blog tagline: “We may not have it all together, but together we have it all!” Isn’t that awesome?? I enjoy reading her posts which deal with marriage, being catholic, motherhood and other woman-related topics. She also hosts the weekly “Saints and Scripture Sunday” link-up.

10. I Owe it All to Him. I always come away from Cindy’s blog inspired and refreshed in spirit. She has a true heart for the Lord and it shines through in her blog writing.

Okay, so these are some of my “must-reads”, what are yours? Don’t keep them to yourself, share the love in the comments so we can all find more great blogs to read!

10 Random Things I Want to Learn Before I Die

Just for fun I thought I would share some things I’ve always wanted to learn. Most of the things on the list are crafty things. I don’t consider myself crafty by nature, but I do have a desire to try! For more fun top ten lists head on over to Oh Amanda’s.

1.Fillet a fish. You’d think since I grew up in New Jersey, I’d know how to do this. No can do. I’ve caught my share of fish, but never had to fillet one, so I didn’t. Why would I want to learn to fillet a fish? No reason, really, just because I don’t know how!

2. Sign language. I’ve always been fascinated with sign language. When my son was a baby I got a baby signing book out of the library and he learned to sign some basic words before he could talk. Once he started talking, he wanted nothing more to do with sign language. Still, it would be fun to learn if I had someone to sign with. πŸ™‚

3. Latin. It turns out that I will be learning this sooner rather than later. My son and I practice a few prayers in Latin a few days a week, and recently he told me he wants to learn more Latin. If I can find a program geared toward young ones, I’ll probably get started with it.

4. Ballet. If you knew me, you might not be surprised about this, but you’d might laugh. You see, I have mild Cerebral Palsy, and so I don’t at all have the leg strength or flexibility for ballet (BUT, I can walk, Yay, me!). I absolutely love Ballet, though and can watch it for hours. The music, the costumes (most of them, anyway), the dancing, the story; it’s all magical to me. So, even if in reality I won’t ever learn ballet, I can still want to learn. πŸ™‚

5. Irish Step Dancing. The chances of learning how to do Irish Step Dancing is pretty much nil; but, I’m adding it to the list anyway because it’s so much fun to watch!

6. CSS (Cascading Style Sheets). I know enough CSS to be dangerous. lol! Mastering CSS would be very beneficial for my business, so I really want to make the time to learn this soon.

7. Drawing and painting. Some day I would love to take a beginner’s drawing and/or painting class. People who are creative and can use a brush to create beauty amaze me. I would love to try my hand at playing with colors, textures, etc.

8. Quilting. Quilts are so beautiful – and comfy! I love how some of the patterns seems quite intricate and detailed. That’s right up my alley! I have a good eye for detail and think I would enjoy the labor of creating a quilt.

9. Sewing. A few years ago, a friend of mine helped me sew a baby’s hat for someone and I loved it. It would be so much fun to be able to learn to sew my own clothes or curtains or whatever I wanted. I think I just may put down a sewing machine on my wish list for Christmas. πŸ˜‰

10. A Musical Instrument. When I was with the sisters, I started learning to play the organ. It was a lot of fun but I never got comfortable enough to play in the chapel. As a matter of fact, whenever I had to play with someone watching I’d freak out and not be able to play at all. After I left the sisters, I did have an organ for a while before I was married, but I never had time to practice. The instruments I would most love to learn to play is the harp (Yep!) or the clarinet. Who knows, maybe Andrew will want to learn an instrument and I can learn with him!

Your turn! Why don’t you share in the comments some of the things you’ve always wanted to learn?! Don’t be shy!

Top Ten Favorite Christian Books

Last week I shared our Top Ten Children’s Books. This week I thought I’d share my top ten favorite Christian books (for grown-ups!). These are all books that have had an impact on my spiritual or family life.

1. The Holy Bible. I suppose this should be a given, but I am including it anyway. πŸ™‚ There is absolutely no “book” more crucial to living an authentic Christian life than the bible.Β  I try to spend time praying the scriptures at least a few days a week when I can.

2. The Catholic Catechism. The Catechism is a “must have” companion to the bible. It is not a book that you read from cover to cover. It is a book that you can go from section to section as you need. Part Four of the Catechism is an absolutely beautiful expose of the Our Father. If you haven’t read the section on the Our Father, you should!

3. The Imitation of Christ. I can’t tell you how many times I have re-read this book! It is a classic book loaded with admonitions, prayers and advice for living a Christian life.

4. Abandonment to Divine Providence. This is another awesome classic! This sneak peek says it all: “If the work of our sanctification presents, apparently, the most insurmountable difficulties, it is because we do not know how to form a just idea of it. In reality sanctity can be reduced to one single practice, fidelity to the duties appointed by God. Now this fidelity is equally within each one’s power whether in its active practice, or passive exercise.”

5. Handbook of Prayers. I’ve only had this book since January and it’s already has that “well-worn” look! It is chock-full of classic prayers, novenas and devotions. It even has the prayers in both English and Latin. I keep this book by my bedside and use it every day.

6. Divine Mercy in My Soul. I read all or parts of this book every Lenten season. This book relates the experiences and visions of Saint Faustina Kowalska. It is from her that the Lord gave us the Divine Mercy Chaplet and the Feast of Divine Mercy.

7. True Devotion to Mary. This book from Saint Louis de Montfort expounds on why we should have devotion to Mary and what perfect consecration to Jesus through Mary means. It also includes the 33 days of preparation for the consecration. I use this almost every year when I renew my consecration.

8. A Mother’s Rule of Life. This book by Holly Pierlot is a wonderfully practical book. Taking the idea from a religious order’s rule of life, Holly shows us how to balance our “Five ‘P’s” (Prayer, Person, Partner, Parent and Provider) by creating our own “Mother’s Rule.”Β  I confess to being a total failure on this. I’ve made and tweaked (and tweaked and tweaked!) my own rule but often forget to follow my own rule! I keep going back to this book though, for inspiration and keep trying!

9. The Trial of Faith of St. Therese of Lisieux. I have to come clean here: before reading this book I didn’t have much appreciation or devotion to Saint Therese. She seemed “too flowery” and “up in the clouds” for me. I’m a very practical person and she didn’t seem very practical to me. Boy was I wrong! She suffered tremendously and even suffered doubts about God. This book changed the way I thought of St. Therese and of suffering.Β  If you are ever struggling with your faith you should consider reading this book!

10. The Way, Furrow, The Forge. This book is actually a compilation of three books by Saint Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei. They are exhortations, counsels and food for thought to be taken with you during times of meditations. In the words of Saint Josemaria himself: “Read these counsels slowly. Pause to meditate on these thoughts. They are things that I whisper in your ear-confiding them-as a friend, as a brother, as a father. And they are being heard by God. I won’t tell you anything new. I will only stir your memory, so that some thought will arise and strike you; and so you will better your life and set out along ways of prayer and of Love. And in the end you will be a more worthy soul.”

What are you favorite Christian books? Do share! And don’t forget to add your own Top Tens post over a Oh Amanda!

10 Ways to Make Time for Prayer

clockAs Christian women, we know the importance of making time for prayer. We want to foster our relationship with Jesus and spending time with Him is the only real way to do that. As busy moms, we also know that finding time for prayer can be a challenge. We make excuses. We get caught up in all the details of homeschooling, running our homes and (sometimes) playing chauffeur for our children.

If you want to make prayer a priority but can’t seem to find the time, the trick might be to sneak it in! Here are some tips that have helped me fit prayer into my day:

1. Get up early. Yeah, that can be hard, I know; especially if your young ones are early birds. Until recently, my son would be up between 5:30-6:00am and getting up at 5:00am was HARD. Still, if you can get up even 20 minutes before your children and spend just 15 minutes or so with the Lord in prayer or reading the Bible, you will be amazed at how it can set your day right. You’ll be more focused and prepared for the day and have that extra boost to keep the Lord in your heart during the day.*

2. Make a prayer appointment. We make hair appointments, doctor appointments and all kinds of appointments so why not make a prayer appointment? When you are calendaring your other appointments, blot out a time for prayer each day or at least once a week. If you can leave your child/children with grandparents or mother’s helper for a while even better. Take that time for adoration before our Lord in the Eucharist if your church offers it. **

3. Pray as a family. Praying with your children is an awesome way to not only find time for yourself to pray, but also instill a habit of prayer in your children. It doesn’t have to be long. You can do five minutes of morning devotions before starting school or pray a decade of the rosary after dinner. Let each child take turns leading the prayers each day so that they feel involved.

4. Hide some aspirations around the house. Okay, this might sound silly, but it does help! Write little aspirations (such as “Jesus I trust in You.” or “Sweet Jesus, be my salvation.”) or scripture verses down on sticky notes and post them on the inside of your kitchen cabinets or doors, mirrors or any where around the house where you will see them frequently.

5. Pray while you work. Throw on a rosary DVD while you clean the house or tackle a household project. Or, put on some worship music so you can sing out your prayer to the Lord. (A fun homeschooling project would be to have each kid write his or her own “prayer song” to sing during devotional time.)

6. Exercise. Again, put on some worship music and dance before the Lord! You’ll get in a good workout and pray at the same time. Going for a run or bike ride? Don’t be so quick to put on those headphones. Use that time to pray and chat with our Lord, Our Lady and/or the saints. Lifting weights? Say an aspiration with each repetition.

7. Pray in the car. Going on a long trip? Listen to the Bible on tape for a while. Throw on a DVD of the Divine Mercy Chaplet or worship music while on your way to or from the store, appointments or activities. Dropping the littles off somewhere? Spend a couple of minutes in the car before driving off to your next destination. Picking them up? Get there a few minutes early and sit in silence before the Lord before it’s time to get them.

8. Turn off the TV. Believe me, I know how tempting it can be to plop down in front of the television after a busy day. You want to get off your feet and relax. Why not put off turning the TV on for 30 minutes and work on a bible study or read the Catechism or pray the rosary first? You may change your mind about turning the TV on at all. πŸ™‚

9. Pray in bed. If he’s willing, take a few minutes to pray with your husband before drifting off to sleep. Having trouble getting to sleep? The cadence of the rosary or divine mercy chaplet is very soothing and easily can put your body and spirit to rest.

10. Join (or form) a mom’s prayer group. Getting together with other moms to pray for and support each other in your journey with the Lord can be an awesome blessing. If there isn’t a group already formed, get a few of your mom friends and see if they are interested. Each mom can take turns hosting or meet at a local park (weather permitting). The kids can play while the moms can pray!

BONUS! 11. Head for the restroom. Hey, sometimes you’ve got to get creative! πŸ™‚ If all else fails and you’ve been too busy to even think, head for the restroom for a minute or two (even if you don’t have to “go”). Use that time to re-group and re-center In the Lord.

Obviously you can’t (nor should you, necessarily) do all these all day everyday. What’s important is to take time to strengthen your relationship with the Lord so take it slow and experiment with the different suggestions until you find the ones that work for you.

Do you have any creative ways for incorporating prayer into your every day? Do share! I’d love to find new suggestions for growing in my relationship with the Lord.

*If you areΒ  having difficulty getting up in the morning, you may have to re-think your evenings! Are you going to bed too late? Can you re-arrange things so you can get to bed earlier? Of course, if You are a night person, praying at night instead of the morning will work for you instead. πŸ™‚

**Another idea would be to do a “kid’s swap” with another mom. You take her kids for an hour or two one day a week and she takes your kids on another day of the week. This is a great way to give both moms a break. (Just try not to cheat and run errands or do other things when you could be praying!)

(This post is linked to WFMW and Top 10 Tuesday.)

(Photo Credit: Dennis Hill and Friends)