Back to Basics: Prayer Space

Heads up: In TOMMOROW’s* Facebook live (12:30pm EDT), I will be talking about they whys and hows of setting up a prayer space.

I will cover:

What is a prayer space?

What if I don’t have the space/room for one?

Is having a prayer space essential?

How do I set up a prayer space?

And more…

So, join me tomorrow in the Catholic Women’s Prayer and Encouragement Facebook Group!

*My husband is home today (yay!) and he isn’t the most quiet so I am going to go live tomorrow when he is back to work. 🙂

Going Back to the Basics: What is Prayer?

What is prayer? Why is it important?

Back to Basics What is Prayer

If you are new to being a Christian, or more specifically, new to being a Catholic Christian, these are important questions.

If you are long-time Catholic Christian, they are equally important questions!

Prayer is the absolute foundation of the Christian life. It is how we encounter God and allow him to enter into our life.

Therefore, as we are now in the 3rd week of Lent, we are going to start focusing on prayer: the what, the why, the how and when, and even the where.

Today, in my weekly Go Live (in my Catholic Prayer and Encouragement Group) I am going to focus on defining prayer and reminding us on why prayer is important. So join me in the group this morning about 10:35 am EST.

 

5 Reasons for Almsgiving

With Lent comes an emphasis on prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The rice bowls or other ministry containers come home and we are reminded to take the money we save from fasting and give to the poor. Some people take this seriously and some people don’t. Sadly, for a long time I was one of those who basically ignored the almsgiving portion of Lent.

Image by niekverlaan (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

Money can be a touchy subject and there are those who think that the Church is all about money. Yes, the Church needs money to run but almsgiving is (and should be) a deeply spiritual act. And, it doesn’t always mean money. If you have limited funds, you can give some of your time or talents or prayers. With a little creativity, there is no doubt that the Holy Spirit will inspire you with ideas for almsgiving.

If you need a little nudge, here are three reasons you should start a regular almsgiving regimen:

It’s Biblical

Tithing goes way back to the Old Testament and Jesus mentions the importance of giving several times, including:

Without cost you have received; without cost you are to give.” Matthew 8:10

Give to the one who asks of you, and do not turn your back on one who wants to borrow.” Matthew 5:42

I tell you truly, this poor widow put in more than all the rest; for those others have all made offerings from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has offered her whole livelihood.” Luke 21: 3-4

It is an Act of Mercy

Feeding the hungry, give to the thirsty, clothing the naked, visiting the imprisoned, visiting the sick, sheltering the homeless, and burying the dead are all corporal works of mercy. Therefore, donating (almsgiving) to organizations that provide these services is, by extension, an act of mercy.

Better yet, you can give the alms of yourself by volunteering at an organization that provide these services. Or, just take some time to visit the elderly in a nursing home or a shut in. I worked with the elderly for a long time and I can assure you, it would be a great gift to them and incredibly rewarding for you! God is enormously generous and we always get more than we give.

It Fosters Gratitude

We all go through different struggles in our lives, some times can be worse than other times. When this happens, it is easy to get tunnel vision which makes past our little world a challenge. When we give to those who are less fortunate than ourselves, it can open our eyes and our hearts to the suffering of others. This is especially true if the almsgiving is from our necessities (think of the widow’s mite) and not an afterthought of our surplus.

It Can Help Form a Habit

Hopefully when we start almsgiving at Lent (or any time of the year), it will become a habit of giving and generosity. There are a lot of people who give (especially to food banks) during the Advent/Christmas season but than that falls off. The needy aren’t just needy during the winter holidays (although it is most noticeable then). There are people who need help all through the year.

Therefore, starting to do almsgiving at another time of the year, such as Lent, may help you get you into the spirit of giving on a regular basis.

It Can Strengthen and Enrich our Prayer Life

Or, rather, it should. When we pray, and enter into the heart of God, it is natural to want to spread His love to others, thus making almsgiving an overflow of our prayer life. And when we give alms, it can open our hearts to others and to God in a circle of blessing and grace, thus enriching our prayer life.

There is a reason prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is the trio focus of Lent. All of them, including almsgiving, work together to convert our hearts and our minds to God. If you focus on one or two and ignore the other(s). then you miss out on the fullness of grace that could be yours.

So, I encourage you to prayerfully discern what alms the Lord is asking you to give, be it money, time or talent. And once discerned, have courage to give without cost because, believe me, you will receive so much more than you could ever receive.

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REMINDER: I go live in my Facebook group every Monday at 10:35 am EST and every Thursday at 1:30 pm EST. I hope you will join me!

PSST: If you are looking for accountability or focused encouragement in growing your spiritual life, I’d love to chat with you and see if we would be a fit for working together. Book a call with me here.

Suggestions for Making Lent Meaningful this Year (FB Live Video)

I did my second ever Facebook Live Video on Thursday (February 8, 2018) on some specific ways to make Lent more meaningful and purposeful for you this year. (I won’t be posting the Lives very often so I suggest you join the FB Group so you don’t miss out of future videos.)

Join Me for a Facebook Live Today (Thursday, February 8)!

I would for you to join me for a Face book Live in my group today. It will be at 1:30 pm EST and I will be talking about some specific ways you can make Lent meaningful this year.

Let’s make this year a Lent where you truly deepen your relationship with the Lord, rather than just going through the motions!

I hope to see you there!

https://www.facebook.com/groups/1822050804730323/

My Goals for 2018

(Piggybacking off of yesterday’s FB live about spiritual goals, today I am sharing my other goals)

In 2017, I did an experiment and didn’t make any goals for the year. My focus was on scheduling the things I wanted to do. However, it was pretty much a bust. 🙁 Don’t get me wrong, the scheduling part was great and I did get a lot of “stuff” done. The problem was that I felt scattered most of the time and unfocused.

This past year was a bigger challenge than 2016 and I didn’t think that was possible. And, not having specific goals left me feeling unhinged a lot of the time. I need structure. Goals give me that structure and allows me to have boundaries and white space. I also missed the accountability of not posting my goals online. It gives me incentive and have been told from readers that they like reading about the goals.

2018 Goals

Image by condesign (2014) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

This year, I am going to combine the scheduling with the goals. I have 12 goals for different aspects of my life and I will be taking some time today to schedule those goals into my calendar (in bite-sized chunks). My hope is that by combining them both, I will have a scheduled yet focused year. I am also posting them here for the accountability and will give monthly updates about how I am doing. (Any encouragement or push would be much appreciated!)

So, without further ado, here hare my goals:

PERSONAL GOALS

1. Read at least one chapter of the Bible each day

2. Cut out sugar and dairy for at least 8 weeks (fast Wednesdays & Fridays)

3. Read one personal book per month (fiction, self-help, spiritual, etc.)

MARRIAGE GOALS

4. Go on one date with Michael per month

5. Send Michael (and Andrew) at least one love/text note per week

FAMILY GOALS

6. Read one book out loud to Andrew per month

7. Go on a family vacation

8. Pray with Andrew daily (daily devotional book before or after school)

FINANCIAL GOALS

9. Rebuild emergency fund ($1,000)

10. Save at least $10 per week

BUSINESS GOALS

11. Launch two courses/programs this year

12. Do at least 2 FB lives per month (aiming for weekly!)

Have you made any goals for 2018? If so, do share in the comments! I would love to support and encourage you in any way I can!

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P.S.: In an unrelated note, I want to remind you that today is the First Friday of the Month.

We are Half Way Through the Year. How is it going?

Can you believe that we are half way through 2017? I can’t believe it is June 1st already! It is crazy how time is flying by so fast. I think it is a good time to take a look at how things are going and revamp some things.

It is funny how everyone makes goals and plans in January just to abandon them a couple (or few) months later. But, the thing is, every day is a chance for a new beginning – and so is every month or quarter. So let me encourage you: If you have made plans or goals in January that haven’t planned out, take a little time to create new ones or to tweak the old ones. Don’t be discouraged and think that it is all down the drain. It’s not. God gives us the gift of each new day and new chances to start over. He is so good!

Every Day is a New Beginning

For me, this year is definitely not panning out like I had planned at all. In some ways, I feel really behind, but in other ways, I feel like I am growing and evolving, which is a good thing!

My word for 2017 is courage. I thought that meant doing certain things for growing my business but it has turned out to be more personal. It was a tough school year for my son, especially academically, and we had to navigate and adjust to the challenge. It wasn’t easy but we got through it! On top of that, Andrew had a lot of activities and events – as well as other events in our family – which forced me out of my introverted self and into the world a lot of the time. I am learning that challenge (and change) can be a good thing.

Business wise, it has been interesting too. I haven’t spent much time on my writing website like I had expected, but at the same time, I have been growing and changing Simple Catholic Living in ways I didn’t expect. For starters, I joined a coaching mentoring program and I am now beginning to offer personal life coaching! This is definitely out of my comfort zone but also something that has been in my heart for a long time. It is my greatest desire to help women live purposeful and enriching lives (however that looks like for each person) and I think coaching will be a wonderful catalyst for that.

I’ve also created a Catholic Encouragement and Accountability Group on Facebook! It is free, of course, and I hope for the group that it becomes an active and safe group for like-minded Catholic women to support each other in our faith and lives. Now, I have to confess, that I have been absent from the group the last few weeks because I was away twice, finishing up Andrew’s homeschooling, and torn in many different directions. However, now that things are calming down, I plan to do Facebook live videos, challenges, themes, and more. Soooo, do consider joining the group and participating in the fun!

Therefore, even though I didn’t get the writing or publishing done that I thought would have been completed by now, I am giving myself grace. I am doing my best to let God lead and direct me, even when it means my plans go out the window. 😉

Now it is your turn. I would love to hear from you. Is 2017 shaping up the way you expect? Is it better than you expected or have you been thrown a curve ball or two? How will you tweak the rest of the year to make it what you want it to be?

Next Steps

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Do You Need Some Encouragement & Accountability?

If so, I would love for you to join me in my new Catholic Women’s Encouragement and Accountability Facebook group.

Encouragment & Accountabiity FB Group

The purpose of the group is to offer a community of like-minded Catholic women to meet and support each other as we live out our daily lives as faith-filled women. It is intended to be a safe place for you to ask questions, post (confidential) prayer requests, and get accountability in various areas of our lives.

The group is new, and admittedly, there isn’t much there yet. However, I plan to do regular Facebook Lives, theme days, and offer resources and encouragement on a daily/regular basis.

Of course, I also encourage you to contribute! Ask questions, start topics, and engage with other members. My prayer is that this group become a thriving community of women helping women!

See ya there!

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Next Steps

Join the FREE Facebook Community.

For more tips for living a Christian life and exclusive content, sign up for the email list.

5 Ideas for Lent

Ash Wednesday is approaching quickly and I, for one, am excited for it! For a lot of people, Lent is about “giving up” something, such as candy, or coffee or whatever. Other people consider the penances of Lent a drudgery. That’s too bad. Lent isn’t about giving up something and then becoming frustrated – or giving up – when you fail. That’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for! Now, I’m not saying not to give up something for Lent. There is an important place for sacrifice and denial, but Lent is WAY more than that.

5 Ideas for Lent

Lent is about renewal!

The beginning of a new year is a time when many people make resolutions to lose weight, to do “this” or don’t do “that.” August and September is the beginning of a new school year and a time when kids (and adults) resolve to make “this year better than last year.” Of course, technically, everyday is a chance for a restart. But Lent is unique. Lent is a time that is especially meant for a spiritual renewal, even more so than the Advent and Christmas Season. Lent is a time to recalibrate our souls and remind ourselves of what and WHO is important in life. And, it is a time to refocus and rekindle (or deepen) our relationship with Jesus and with the Blessed Trinity.

Therefore, the purpose of the “mandates” of Lent, prayer, sacrifice and almsgiving, is to help us go deeper into the truths of our faith and our relationship with Christ, NOT to give us yet “one thing to do or not do” for the next six weeks. Thus, I’d like to invite you to rethink your strategy for Lent this year. If you have been in the habit of giving up something for Lent and it hasn’t worked for ya, how about instead of giving up something, give yourself something. Here are five ideas of things you can give yourself for Lent:

1. Give yourself the gift of Confession.

If you haven’t been to the Sacrament of reconciliation in a while, now would be a good time to go. The Church requires Catholic to go to Confession at least once a year for a reason. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is a sacrament of healing and an opportunity to encounter Christ in a very special way.

There are a lot of people who are afraid of going to Confession or who think it is a waste of time. “Why go to confession to a priest when I can tell my sins right to God?” However, confession is a gift from God that gives us special graces, allows us to grow in grace and to come back to Him when we fail. I strongly encourage you to read the Catechism of the Catholic Church in regards to confession. Do the research on why Confession is important. It is really a very important sacrament!

2. Give yourself the gift of the Eucharist.

If you aren’t in the habit of going to daily mass, now would be a great time to start – even if it just one or two days a week – or just on Saturdays. The readings for Lent are just as powerful during the week as they are on Sundays.

There is a lot of focus today about the community aspect of Mass which is important. However, we also must never lose sight of the purpose of the Mass. It is the center and source of our Christian Life! When we receive communion, we receive Jesus Himself. We take Him into our souls and our hearts. What an amazing and profound blessing and gift that is!

3. Give yourself the gift of prayer.

The rosary is a particularly powerful prayer and it is a wonderful way to meditate on the mysteries of Our Lord’s Life, Death and Resurrection. It is even better if you can pray together as a family. Also, many Churches offer the Stations of the Cross each Friday which is a beautiful way to enter one’s self into Our Lord’s suffering. If you can’t do that, try to just spend a few minutes or so reading the Bible and Lectio Divina.

There are also a lot of retreats and devotional booklets that are published for the Lenten Season. If that helps, pick one of those up and use it to help guide your prayer. Better yet, scrap that and just talk to God as you would a friend. He is always ready to listen! It may seem strange at first but we can, and should, speak from our souls and pour out our heart.

4. Give yourself the gift of reflection.

Prayer isn’t all about talking! It is also about listening and reflecting on what God wants to tell us. One way to do this is by jounaling. When you journal, you can certainly write down your prayers. However, you can also write down notes, scriptures, and insights that you get during prayer. You can paste prayer cards and pictures, doodle, and make it your safe and private place of encountering God.

To help you do this, last year I created a Lenten Prayer Journal. It is an unguided prayer journal sprinkled with scripture verses from the Mass readings, blank pages, and a section for specific prayer intentions. It is my heart’s desire that the journal be a comforting and “magical” place for you to grow in your faith and love for God.

5. Give yourself the gift of intention.

Finally, above all – no matter what you do the Lent – let it be intentional and focused. Be fully present to your devotions, family or whatever it is you are doing or not doing for Lent. That alone will transform your Lenten experience!

So many of us, myself included, live life too reactionary. We don’t take the time to think things through because we are too busy rushing from activity to activity and responsibility to responsibility. This year, take a few minutes to look at your calendar. What can you delegate, reschedule or remove so that you can give yourself some breathing room and mental space?

Now, let’s support each other.

Tell me, what are you doing for Lent this year? What are you going to do or not do in order to truly deepen your relationship with Jesus and renew your spirit this season? By putting it out there, it will help you stay accountable and give me the opportunity to pray for you!

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Want accountability and support in growing your faith and relationship with God this Lent? I can help. Let’s set up a time to chat, get to know each other, and see if working together makes sense.

Do You Want a Healthier You in 2017?

(I am interrupting my Christmas break to give you some news from one of my favorite bloggers, Money Saving Mom. 🙂 )

15 Days to a healthier You

One of the biggest resolutions people make each year is to lose weight. I’ve made that a goal of mine many a year! But what if you could do it differently? What if you could focus on the “whole you” and not just the diet and exercise bit of getting healthy?

Well, Crystal Paine is on a mission to do just that. She has created a course aptly named, 15 Days to a Healthier You. In this course, Crystal will take a holistic approach and help you make realistic goals, make health a priority, and boost your energy.

In this 15 day course you will get a daily 15 minute live video with Crystal (will be recorded), daily lessons and projects, access to a private Facebook group, accountability and more! It is a great opportunity to get the new year off to a great start.

And guess what? Your investment is only $15. That is a dollar a day. Not bad, huh?! I suggest you go sign up now because sign ups CLOSE on January 3. Then, access to Facebook group opens January 6th and the program starts January 9th.

For more information go here.