31 Days of Prayer – The Bible

Sundays are sometimes (hopefully!) quieter days with less going on. It is the perfect day to spend some time reading and praying over the scriptures.

Image by LoveToTakePhotos (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

Image by LoveToTakePhotos (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain

The Catholic Church encourages us to spend time in “Lectio Divina.” This is a Latin term for slowly, prayerfully, and reflectively reading over the Bible verses. It doesn’t have to be a long time; it just has to be a time of letting the verses speak to the heart.

I have a longer post with step-by-step instructions on how to pray the Scriptures (with a free pdf printable), but here is the gist of process:

  • Find a quiet spot and say a quick prayer to the Holy Spirit for guidance and inspiration.
  • Pick a short bible passage to pray over (a part of the Mass readings of the day is good) and read over the passage slowly and gently, imagining yourself present in the passage and listening to the words.
  • After reading the passage, sit in silence and meditation, letting the words wash over you and speak to your heart.
  • When your time is up, say a short prayer of thanksgiving.

Today, begin the wonderful habit of Lectio Divina. If you make it a regular habit, I guarantee it will change your life!

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Tweetable: 31 Days of Prayer – the Bible

31 Days Writing Challenge

Ten Reminders of God’s Love for You

(I am reposting this because I think we all need reminders of God’s love every now and again. When we are struggling or hurting in various ways it is easy to forget that we are not alone. So, if you are struggling, I hope these reminders will give you some hope and courage. God bless.)

Reminders of God's Love

Image by albertobarquin0 (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public domain:

This post is dedicated to my Aunt Miriam who passed away a few years ago. She was one of the first people to encourage me to read the bible and to dedicate my heart to Jesus. I loved her so much and still miss her dearly. She loved God and understood His great love for us. She also loved to read her bible and did so faithfully. The Bible is God’s love story to us, so if you need a reminder of how much God loves you, here’s ten of them:

1. “O Lord, your love reaches to heaven; your faithfulness, to the clouds.” Psalm 36:6

2. “With age-old love I have loved you; so I have kept my mercy toward you.” Jeremiah 31:3

3. “The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in His love, he will sing joyfully because of you.” Zephaniah 3:17

4. “As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love John 15:9

5. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for his friends.” John 15:13

6. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal live.” John 3:16 (My personal, all-time favorite verse from Scripture!)

7. “What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? As it is written: ‘For your sake we are being slain all the day; we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:35-37

8. “For I am convinced that either death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:38

9. “I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the holy ones, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!” Ephesians 3:16-21

10. “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet we are.” 1 John: 31

I pray that you are touched by God’s love today. I pray that whatever you are going through you will have the courage and faith to stay strong. Never forget: You are loved. You matter. Your presence makes a difference in this world!

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Tweetable: 10 Reminders of God’s Love For You

Mercy Bible Study: Session 2 Reflection

Happy Easter! I can’t believe that Lent is over and we are already into Easter but it was so early this year. And, it’s not very often that Andrew’s birthday comes after Lent since his birthday is March 31!

Mercy Bible Study Session 2 Reflection

Image by ToniaD (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Now, what did you think of the session 2 bible study? It wrestles with why/how God withholds or grants mercy. This is tough to answer because we certainly cannot understand the mind of God. Father Mitch points out how many people and cities were slaughtered while the Israelites took possession of the Promised Land.

In talking about the judgement against Israel’s former rulers, Father Mitch says that their judgement comes from “the lack of mercy shown to the Lord’s heritage, Israel” (pg 38). He goes on to say, “the nation that does not show mercy to the defeated Israel will find no mercy from God” (pg 39).

Those are strong words and they brought to mind the words from the Gospel, “For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you” (Matthew 7:2)

Of course, God is not a tit-for-tat God who keeps nitpicking track of every action and word we say and do against another person. However, how we treat others does matter. It matters a great deal and the scriptures that we read for this session show us that in a big way.

When Israel was held captive by the Babylonians and others, they were treated cruelly and mercilessly. Their rules showed no mercy and thus received no mercy when they were finally conquered. From the lens of our world view, it seems so harsh and it is hard to understand why God would not only allow, but demand the destruction of those people. However, the world was (obviously) very different back then. The society was a physically violent one and the only think I can think of to reconcile this is that God accepted them where they were at, used it to bring them forward.

We see a progression in the bible, and in our own lives. The understanding of God, and of His mercy, had to grow, albeit, slowly until Jesus shows us the true mercy and love of God. And, we are still growing in that understanding.

This was a tough session to work though. What about you? What struck you about this lesson? Do share in the comments.

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Tweetable: Mercy Bible Study: Session 2 Reflection

Mercy Bible Study Introduction Reflection

Mercy Bible Study Intro Reflection

Image by ToniaD (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

For this month’s bible study we were to read the introduction pages 13-18. This short chapter is loaded with thought-provoking nuggets. It starts out, of course, by laying out the purpose and sequence of the book. Then Fr Pacwa shows the connection between Saint John Paul II’s  forced labor experience in World War II and his experience of mercy – and why it is relevant. Then it goes on to explain why the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the devotion to His Divine Mercy are intertwined and dearly needed.

For those who are not familiar with either devotion, there are two inserts, once that gives a blurb about the Chaplet of Divine Mercy and a larger blurb about the Sacred Heart of Jesus. I love how Fr. Pacwa reminds us of the amazing promises offered to those who participate in the devotion of the Sacred Heart.

My favorite quote from this section comes toward the end of the introduction:

“A rediscovery of God’s role in history, the importance and benefit of authentic religion, and the need for merciful forgiveness of our rejection of God and his laws will be a tremendous boon for modern people to learn, to extend mercy to fellow human beings equally made in the image and likeness of God.”

This passage struck me because sometimes we have to look into the past before we can go forward. Fr. Pacwa reminds us that we need to step back, regroup, and remember where we came from so that we can go forward as ambassadors of Christ for our fellow people.

Would you agree? What are your thoughts on this chapter or on the above quote?

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Tweetable: Mercy Bible Study Introduction Reflection

Mercy Bible Study by Fr. Pacwa (Introduction)

If you read my post the other day, you know that of my goals for this year is to do one bible study per month.  However, I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it. I knew for sure that I wanted to tie it into the Jubilee Year of Mercy but that was about it.

Mercy Bible Study Introduction

Image by ToniaD (2015) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

As I was searching around online, I found the book, Mercy: A Bible Study Guide for Catholics, by Fr. Mitch Pacwa. Bingo! The book is broken down into six sections and each section includes scripture and catechesis, exercises and reflection/discussion questions (if doing with a group). My plan is to do one chapter per month for the next six months and then choose another book for the rest of the year (which I have picked already, but more on that later!).

To help me stay accountable, I decided to blog through the bible study. And maybe you would like to do the study with me? My plan is to post the readings and scriptures at the beginning of the month and then post my answers/reflections/insights at the end of the month. If you want to follow along you can post your comments or insights, too.

Here we go:

For this month, there is no scripture reading. All you have to do is get the book which you can get inexpensively on Amazon.com and then just read the introduction pages 13-18. Easy peasey. 🙂

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Tweetable: Mercy Bible Study Introduction

Weekly Goals

Set GoalsWell, adjusting to school turned out more challenging than expected. The two 7 1/2 week semesters is turning out to be more work that even I expected, so as far as goal setting, I didn’t get much else done…

Marriage/Parenting/Home Management Goals

1. Send Michael a “love text” twice this week.

2. Continue reading Little Lord Fauntleroy to Andrew.

3. Organize homeschooling area and  gather materials for new school year.

Personal Goals

4. Get up at 6:00 am. (Mostly got up by 7-7:30. I need to do a better job because getting up earlier will definitely help me manage my time.)

5. Read a chapter each day of the book study I am doing, and spend ten minutes in quiet time.

6. Exercise at least 15 minutes, 5 times this week.

Educational Goals

7. Keep up with reading assignments.

8. Attend first official classes at the Wall campus on Wednesday.

9. Write rough draft of first “close reading” writing assignment.

Blogging/Writing Goals

10. Write two blog posts.

I’ve decided that for the next few months I am going to keep my goal setting to the absolute basics and focus on priorities. As much as I would like to get some extras done, it’s just not going to happen. Therefore, I am going to keep my goals to a minimum, and will just have to let some things slide. Here are my plans:

Marriage/Parenting/Home Management Goals

1. Send Michael a “love text” twice this week.

2. Stay on top of Andrew’s homeschool.

Personal Goals

3. Get up at 6:00 am.

4. Read last two chapters of the book study I am doing, and spend ten minutes in quiet time.

5. Exercise at least 15 minutes, 5 times this week.

Educational Goals

6. Keep up with reading assignments.

7. Write rough drafts of essays for three of my classes.

Blogging/Writing Goals

8. Write at least one blog post a week.

Now it’s your turn. Come join us over at Money Saving Mom with your own goals.

Book Review: Answering Your Kids’ Toughest Questions

Answering Kid's Toughest QuestionsFrom Book Description

“Mother/daughter team Elyse Fitzpatrick and Jessica Thompson will carefully walk you through difficult conversations, one topic at time. Speaking from personal experience, informed by child development research, these two moms offer practical insights and age-appropriate guidance. Talking about tough topics may not be as hard as you think, and, more important, you’ll see how these conversations can lead to meaningful discussions of God’s unchanging goodness.”

My comments

Answering Your Kid’s Toughest Questions is an important book, and does just what it says – giving parents suggestions and guidance in discussing difficult topics with their children. The book tackles death, sexuality, violence, and even challenging bible stories, and does so from a solid Christian basis.

I particularly like how the authors break down each topic into three different age groups (preschool, 5-10, 11 and up), giving the parents ideas on how to talk to each group of children on their level. And, it does so in a way that is respectful to  child asking the questions, and respectful of the person “committing” the sin. At the beginning of the book, and throughout the suggested dialogue, the authors remind the child (and the parents reading the book!) that sin is about loving someone/something above God as a prelude to the discussion. For example, in the part of the book where sexual sin is discussed, one of the answers begins as:

“Everybody does things they think will make them happy. Sometimes you take toys that are not yours because you want to play with them and you think they will make you happy. You know that taking toys is wrong and that God tells you not to do it…” (page 108)

Also, although I read the book from cover to cover for this review, it is not required. You can easily skip around the book reading the topics most interesting or applicable to your situation and your child’s questions. Think of the book as a handbook and have it near when you need help answering your child’s questions!

Overall, the book is well-written and very helpful. I do have to admit, coming from a Catholic Christian perspective, I missed the inclusion of Church teaching (particularly from the Catechism) and wisdom from the saints. Not that I was expecting them, mind you, knowing the book is written from a different Christian perspective; and really, the book does a wonderful job dealing with formidable topics that are hard to discuss with children without them.

I absolutely recommend the book and give it four (4) stars.

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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Bethany House <http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/bethanyhouse/bookreviewers> book review  program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Weekly Goals

Set Goals

Not much done other than school work this week but I am mostly caught up…

1. Pray the rosary each day. (Only got it in a couple of times this week.)

2. Get up by 6:30 am each morning. (Missed a couple of days, but did okay.)

3. Keep up with the readings and assignments for my classes. (Still waiting on one of the books I need for a class, so I will have to do some major catch-up when it comes in!)

4. Blog at least three times this week.

5. Find a permanent babysitter for Andrew. (Still looking…)

6. Keep Andrew on track with his home school.

7. Read and review the Catholic Update guide to Mary (affiliate link). It’s a small booklet so I’m hoping I can fit it in between reading for class. (Didn’t even get a chance to open it. 🙁 )

Here are the few goals I have for this week:

1. Pray the rosary each day.

2. Get up by 6:30 am each morning.

3. Keep up with the readings and assignments for my classes.

4. Blog at least three times this week.

5. Find a permanent babysitter for Andrew.

6. Take Andrew to doctor’s appointment for well visit.

7. Read and review the Catholic Update guide to Mary (affiliate link). It’s a small booklet so I’m hoping I can fit it in between reading for class.

What are your plans for this week? Let us know in the comments or head over to Money Saving Mom and share them with us!

 

Weekly Goals

Set Goals

Didn’t get everything crossed off the list this week but still very happy with what I accomplished:

1. Read at least one chapter of  the gospel of John per day.

2. Pray the rosary each day.

3. Finish reading “Secrets to a happy Life” and write review. (Check out my review here.)

4. Finish unpacking and  organizing our bedroom. (All done!!! Well, except for going through crafts, but that’s another project. 🙂 )

5. Continue making and adding items to my Etsy shop. (No one items up but I am working on a few.)

6. Spend five minutes per day on fiction writing.

7. Spend about half-hour of playtime with Andrew each day.

8. Revamp and prepare our homeschooling curriculum for the fall. (Didn’t get this done but planning to do it today. I was busy getting my unpacking done.)

Here’s what’s going on for this week:

1. Read at least one chapter of  the gospel of John per day.

2. Pray the rosary each day.

3. Read Letters to Katie and write review.

4. Continue making and adding items to my Etsy shop.

5. Spend five minutes per day on fiction writing.

6. Spend about half-hour of playtime with Andrew each day.

7. Revamp and prepare our homeschooling curriculum for the fall.

8. Start school with Andrew.

What are your plans for this week? Let us know in the comments or head over to Money Saving Mom and share them with us!

Weekly Goals

Set Goals

Here’s how I did last week. I think it pays to kept my goals short and sweet. Not only did I do almost everything on this list I was able to get some unexpected things done as well. 🙂

1. Read read through the gospel of Matthew for 5 minutes a day. (Didn’t get it done every day, most of them.)

2. Pray the rosary each day. (Only missed one day, yay!)

3. Write for at least five minutes each day (fiction, like I mentioned in my goals for 2013). (Getting back into writing has been an interesting experience, something I think I will blog about.)

4. Organize my bedroom closet. (Ah, nothing like an organized closet. Here is a before and after picture for your viewing pleasure. 🙂 )

Before:

before picture 1

before picture 2

After:

after picture 1

after picture 2

5. Take Andrew to YESTERcades. (YESTERCADES is a fun arcade place with all the “old-time” arcade games like “Frogger”, “Space Invaders”, etc. I went there with him a while back for a birthday party and have wanted to return since!) (Well, this didn’t happen due to circumstances beyond our control but we will try again soon.)

Here are my plans for this coming week:

1. Read read through the gospel of Matthew for 5 minutes a day.

2. Pray the rosary each day.

3. Write for at least five minutes each day (fiction, like I mentioned in my goals for 2013).

4. Organize my dresser drawers.

5. Go to Brookdale to get the books I need for next semester. It starts up a week from Tuesday all ready. Yikes!

What are your goals this week? Let us know in the comments or head over to Money Saving Mom and share them with us!