5 Ideas for Lent

Ash Wednesday is next week 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.

(P.S. From now until March 1, 2017 – Ash Wednesday – you can get the printable pdf. version of the journal for only $5, regularly $12. Go here to purchase and download instantly. Go here for a free sample of journal. Go here for the paperback version of the journal on Amazon.)

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!

As for me, I am focusing on the Nineveh 90 challenge. We are only a week in and it is proving to be a challenging and yet powerful experience. It is definitely helping me to be more disciplined in certain areas, that’s for sure! I still may give up something specific on top of this but I haven’t decided yet. 🙂

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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.

My Three Words for 2016

My 3 Words for 2016

Image by geralt (2012) via Pixabay, CCO Public Domain

For the last couple of years, to go along with my goals, I have been using three words to stay focused and centered on what I want to accomplish. I got this idea from Chris Brogan and although it hasn’t been perfect, it has been revolutionary for me. In 2014, my words were “intentional, love and brave” and in 2015, my words were “relationships, prayer, and grace.”

This year, I want to be more action-oriented and as I prayed the following words came to me:

authentic, focused, mercy

On this blog, I have made it my mission to “encourage busy women in their walk with the Lord.” But when I look back at previous blog posts, I get the impression that it looks like I “have it all together” or that my life is perfect. It’s not. Life is messy – for me and probably for most people. In 2016, I am going to try to get out of my comfort zone and be more “real” and vulnerable and authentic. I am going to try and share my struggles and how I overcome them (when I can). It is scary but I am who I am and I feel like the Lord wants me to show that side of me.

One thing I noticed last year is that I had a tendency to be all over the place, be it online or off. This year, I am going to do my best to stay focused and work on one thing at a time. For example, one of my goals this year is to write at least one book or journal per month. However, when I sit down to the computer to write, I often get sidetracked because I start checking email or go on Facebook or do any other task first. This year, I am going to make an effort to do what I plan to do when I planned to do it. 🙂

My final word is mercy. This year, the Pope has declared an extraordinary jubilee year of mercy. It extends from December 8, 2015 through November 20, 2016. Devotion to the Divine Mercy is something I take to heart because it is very important to me. Therefore, this year I want to completely entrust myself to Jesus and be an instrument of His Mercy to others.

My hope is that these three words will enable me to be all that God wants me to be. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a feeling, an intuition if you will, that 2016 is going to be a great year. I don’t know what that means or what it will look like but I am truly looking forward to finding out!

Now, tell me, what is your word, or words, for 2016? Please share in the comments!

Simple Online Productivity Tool: LeechBlock

Since the school year is beginning (or has begun) for so many of us, I thought I would share a handy online productivity tool discovered a while back thanks to Angie over at Real Life at Home. It is called LeechBlock.

leechblock

LeechBlock is a Firefox add-on that allows you to block certain sites for a specified amount of time. This can help you stay focused on the the work you should be doing online instead of wasting time on sites that suck up your time and productivity.

For example: If you are anything like me and “mildly” addicted to Twitter and/or Facebook { 😛 }, it can be so easy to think that you’re just going to “check-in for a minute” and still be there 30 minutes or more later. With LeechBlock, you can block yourself from having access to those sites when you should be working.

Once you’ve installed the plug-in, it’s very easy to create different block sets (tools->LeechBlock->options) of the sites you want to block and to control the days and times you want them blocked.

Personally, I have been using LeechBlock for a few years now and I love it. It is also good for children. Andrew is 10 now and has just received a new-to-him computer (Michael’s old computer) which he will use for school. I plan to use it, in conjuction with parental controls, to hopefully help him stay focused and productive with his school work.

If you are using (or have used) LeechBlock, I’d love to hear your thoughts. What do you like/dislike about it? Does it or has it helped you stay productive online?

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Tweetable: Simple Online Productivity Tool

Join Us for a Rosary Crusade!

The Rosary Evangelization Apostolate is hosting a 54 day National Rosary Novena. It starts on the Solemnity of the Assumption (August 15) and ends on the Feast of the Holy Rosary (October 7).

54_day_promotional_image

According to the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate, the primary intention of the rosary is “For Family and Marriage,  including for Peace, Sanctity of Human Life & Religious Freedom.”

For more in formation you can go the the Rosary Evangelization Apostolate promotion page, or go to Catholics United 4 Freedom which also gives information on how to pray the rosary.

Please, please help us spread the word! Tweet to your followers, Share on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram or anywhere else you hang out online. Thanks!

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 was  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,”  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. 🙂

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.

The Sacred Heart = Compassion

I saw this video on Facebook, and I knew I had to share it here. (hat tip to 3 Boys and a Dog for first posting it of FB.) It is not long, but it will probably make you cry! It is the perfect video for the Sacred Heart because Jesus pours out His heart, His love, for us, and this video is a beautiful Human example of love:

May your day be blessed, and my you be inspired by this touching video!

What is the Cost of a Child? Priceless!

Right before the New Year, someone posted the following statistic on Facebook:

 “If you have a child in 2012, from then till 18 it will cost $256,000.00 for basic care.”

Basic care includes health care, clothes, etc. Not the extras, such as sports or music lessons and such.

What I found the most interesting and sad wasn’t this statistic as much as the comments to it.

People made comments similar to “I am so glad I don’t have a kid.” “No wonder our economics are the way they are! and others. The gist of the comments were that children are a burden and too expensive.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that raising a child isn’t expensive. I have a son. I know how expensive it is. But so often we focus on the negatives of having children. (Even people who are decidedly pro-life can fall into this trap!) It is the sense of entitlements and “me, me, me” in society is one of the things that make people see children as a bad thing, rather than a good thing. Here in America, and I daresay in other countries, too, money has become more important than people.

This belief contributes (but in no way is the only reason) to the acceptance of abortion, the prevalence of abuse of children (in all of its forms) and the respect of life in all its stages.

I would like to propose an alternative. Children are a blessing. PEOPLE are a blessing, whether they are old, disabled, or mentally impaired. Every single person is made in the image of God. Without being reckless or foolish, let’s not let money be the only criteria in our response to the life of another human being. Raising a child may be expensive, but it doesn’t really matter how much a child costs. If God gives a child He will help the couple (or the single parent) raise that child, IF that couple (or parent) trusts in Him. The money will be there.

Unfortunately, there are many people who don’t believe in God or have the faith that He will be there for them in any circumstances, including the raising of a child. Let us pray for them. Let us pray for a renewed respect for life and the courage for all people to accept the gift of a child (or children).

 Heavenly Father,

You are an awesome God! Thank you for the gift of life. Thank You for the gift of children. All children are a blessing. Each child, each person, is unique, special and made in Your image. Help us to have a renewed respect for all life, in all of its stages. Help those who see children as a burden or too expensive. Help those who had the courage to raise a child and are now struggling financially, emotionally or spiritually. Raising a child can be difficult and a challenge but it can also be a joy and rewarding. Fill all parents and all soon-to-be parents with Your love and grace. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

Computer Woes…Again….

Yikes! So I sat down yesterday afternoon around 3:30 to write up a 7 Quick Takes post for the weekly meme over at Conversion Diary and noticed that I had no sound. I checked a few settings and saw that I should have sound, but didn’t. Then I remembered a while back I had the same problem and had to restore to an earlier version of Windows. “No big deal,” I though. WRONG.

I set the restore point to an earlier version and clicked “continue.” No problems. The window popped up saying that restore was successful and it was going to restart. This is where the trouble began. It could not start up. Several times I tried but it would fail. Finally I started looking for solutions. I couldn’t get into the command prompt, couldn’t hit F8, nothing. I did have the option to do a system restore back to the default settings, which I didn’t want to do. However, a couple hours later, it became my only option. Long story short, from 3:30pm to 11:30pm I spent getting my computer working. (It’s too bad I can’t charge myself for this – I would have made a lot of money. LOL!)

I’m finally back up and running and have been able to retrieve most of my stuff back, but I did lose some stuff, but they weren’t important, thankfully.

The reason I am sharing this experience is because I can’t say it enough: BACK UP YOUR STUFF. Take my experience as a cautionary tale. You NEVER know when your computer is going to go on the fritz or get a virus or something unexpected will happen. If I didn’t back up my stuff regularly I would have been screwed. It was the same way last time and the time before that.

And at the risk of sounding like a commercial, I highly recommend you get Dropbox. It is free up to  2 GB (which is a lot of space). And you can get more space for referring people connecting your Dropbox account with Facebook or Twitter and other ways too. (Yes the link is an affiliate link.) I am telling you, it has saved my online life several times so far. I would be lost without it. Dropbox is set up to be a way to share large folders with others but I am telling you, it makes a great back-up, too.

If Dropbox doesn’t do it for ya, there are other online options for back us that you can research. Or get an external hard drive to use for back up. Or back up to a re-writable CD. It doesn’t matter how you back up your stuff as long as you DO back up your stuff. Heck, it would be best if you used more than one solution to back up your stuff.

Trust me.

Virtual Assistance 101: Services a Virtual Assistant may Provide

Admin AssistantIn all truth, the services that a Virtual Assistant (Administrative Support Consultant) provides will depend largely on your particular needs and the skill set and knowledge of the administrative professional with whom you choose to work. That doesn’t mean that you have to partner with someone who doesn’t have all the skills you are looking for, as long as she is willing to learn and grow in her knowledge (which most are!).

At the same time, the services that can be rendered by an Administrative Support Consultant is only limited by your imagination! When you first start working with your Consultant, you will usually come up with an immediate plan of action; and then, as you grow in your partnership and relationship, more things will be discovered that she can take over for you.

Having said all this, I am going to you a general idea of some of the things that can be taken off your plate:

Writing services. Documentation creation and formatting; proofreading and editing; researching; and ghostwriting.

Travel arrangements. Booking airline tickets; car rental or limo services; hotel booking; and provide detailed itinerary summary.

Customer and vendor relations. Answer questions of customers and vendors; find sponsors and products for promotions and giveaways; create and maintain registrations for any classes you may have; deal with payments and problems.

Social Media Management. Promote events or products on Facebook pages, Twitter and other social media sites; maintain current profiles; automate status updates where appropriate.

Other services: Look for ways to promote client; reminders of important dates; keep a detailed schedule for client; order gifts; be a sounding board and resource.

Some Administrative Consultants also provide separate service offerings that have different listing prices depending on their special skill set such as: WordPress Assistance; Facebook Page creation and customizing; shopping cart assistance; email marketing; etc.

If you don’t already know the services you need or looking for, a quick read through different websites of Administrative Support Consultants and VAs will give you quite a list of of services! Or, if you have a particular need, but don’t see it on the website of an administrative professional you may want to work with, just ask. Most would be more than willing to either provide that particular service for you or direct you to someone who can. 🙂

Next week, I’m going to delve into something you may be already curious about: rates!

Have you missed any part of this series? Check them out here:

Introduction

What a Virtual Assistant Really Is

What a Virtual Assistant Is Not

What’s in a Name? (A little blurb about terminology)

How to Become a Virtual Assistant

Benefits of Working with a Virtual Assistant

(Post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy.)