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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It’s Your Last Chance!

Reminder: today is the last day to get the eBook version of the Advent Prayer Journal for $5 bucks. 🙂 Tomorrow, the price goes back up to $10.

Advent Prayer Journal for Women Cover

You can find out more about the book here. Also, if you are looking for other ideas for Advent, I have 5 ideas to help you get the most out of this Advent Season.

I pray that this Advent Season is a grace-filled, prayer-filled, and peace-filled time for you! God bless.

5 Ideas for Advent

Can  you believe that Advent begins on Sunday, November 27?? That is only 2 1/2 weeks away! That’s not a lot of time to think about how you want prepare spiritually for Christmas.

In the past, I would get so caught up with the material preparations of Christmas that I would get overwhelmed and lose focus on the the meaning of Christmas. I would get stressed, lose sleep, and generally just wish that the whole season would be done and over. (Sound familiar?)

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

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

Then, a couple of years ago, I decided it was time to take stock and make some decisions to help me focus on the purpose of Advent which, of course, is to prepare for the celebration of Jesus’ birth. The changes made a huge difference for me and so I will follow the same plan.

Now, for me, preparing for Advent (or Lent) isn’t necessarily about adding more things to my schedule. It is about making the most of my current schedule…So here are the 5 things I plan to do this year:

I. Take Care of Most of the Material things early.

Yes, I am one of those ober-organized people who like to do things in advance. 🙂 For Instance, I already have my shopping list and my card list written. I also hope to have my cards ready to send out by the time Advent starts and some of the gifts purchased. If all goes well, I should be done with all my Christmas shopping before the second week of Advent!

As for baking, I plan to do some baking early and freeze it all. Most baking goods, especially cookies, freeze really well. However, for some items, I will have to wait to last-minute so they are baked fresh. 🙂

II. Go to Daily Mass Twice a Week.

In the past, I would commit to go to daily mass and fail every year. It just isn’t realistic for this time in my life. Therefore, for this year, I am going to commit to going to daily Mass twice a week. That is definitely doable.

III. Fast Twice a Week.

Fasting isn’t just for Lent! Technically, Advent is a penitential season and this was especially true pre-Vatican II. In fact, the Church still encourages us to fast regularly all throughout the year even though it is not an official precept of the Church.

There are many benefits of fasting and I have wanted to get into this practice for a while. Therefore, I figure Advent would be a great time to finally get started. I will be fasting Wednesdays and Fridays.

IV. Use an Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe.

Of course, the Advent Calendar and Advent Wreathe are perfect activities to do with children. I will do the Advent Calendar with Andrew each morning and light the Advent Wreathe candle during each meal as a family.

V. Journal.

If you know me, you know writing is in my blood and I journal regularly. In fact, that is one of the reasons I started creating journals in the first place. It may sound crazy but having my own little space to write out my thoughts, dreams, and struggles is important to my spiritual welfare. Writing is my preferred way of communication and it is how I best “talk” to God. Can you relate or is it just me?!

Last year, I created an Advent journal but it was too late to actually use for the Advent season. So, for this year, I will actually be using the journal I created. What I like most about the journal is that it is simple and has a lot of lines and writing space. Each page has a scripture verse that (sometimes loosely) correlates to the daily Mass readings and then lines for writing. It is not a guided journal but some days I will use the scripture as a starting point for prayer and some days I will just write for the heart. It also includes blank pages for drawing and/or pasting and has a section for prayer requests.

If you are interested, you can find more about the journal and purchase it here. Also, for a limited time, I am offering the PDF version of the journal for only $5 bucks! It is regularly $10 so it is half-price but it won’t last long. The sale ends on Friday, December 2, 2016.

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For more ideas for Advent, here are 10 Ways to Make Advent Meaningful and an Advent Meditation.

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Advent Prayer Journal for Women Cover

Are You Ready for Lent?!

Can you believe that Lent starts next week with Ash Wednesday? It seems strange, especially since technically the Christmas season (for us Catholics) just ended February 2 which was the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Well, ready or not here it comes! Now may be a good time to think and pray about what you want to happen during the Lenten Season.

For most of us, the focus of Lent becomes focused on us. Or, at least, I’m guilty of focusing too much on me. What am I giving up for Lent? What will I do for almsgiving? What prayer practice am I going to do this year? Then when we fail or mess up we blame ourselves, get frustrated, and sometimes give up. Now, don’t get me wrong. Fasting, almsgiving, and extra prayer are all good things. I’m not saying to abandon them!

What I am saying, for me, is that I want to switch focus this year and put it on Christ. I am still going to “do” those Lenten practices but I am going to try and keep my eyes fixed on Christ and really enter into the mystery of His suffering, death, and Resurrection.

One way I am going to do this is to make a greater commitment to journaling and to use it as a form of prayer. Journaling is a wonderful way to pray. Why? It is a type a freewriting where you can pour out your heart to God without thought. Or, if you have a definite thing to say, putting it into paper makes it “real” or tangible.

I started journaling a few years ago for Lent and it made a huge difference for me. Once Lent was over, I sort of let the practice fall by the wayside. Oh, I still continued to journal every day but it was, again, more of a “me” thing as opposed as a tool to connecting with God.

Lenten Prayer Journal for Women

To help me using journaling as a prayer aid, I created the Lenten Prayer Journal for Women. Each day has a short quote from one of the Mass readings for the day and lots of lined and blank pages. My plan is to use these pages as an opportunity to do a sort of informal reflection on those quotes. Of course, many days I will probably use the pages to pour out my heart to God in other ways too and that’s okay. There is no right or wrong way to use a prayer journal!

I’ve also made the journal available to you in hopes that it may help you kick start your prayer this Lent, too. If you are looking to refocus your mind and heart on Christ – if only for a few minutes! – I pray that this journal will help you do just that. 🙂 May it be your best and most fruitful Lenten season yet!

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Advent Prayer Journal for Women

If you have spent any time at all on this blog, you know that prayer is very important to me. It truly is the best (and only!) way to deepen our relationship with God. Advent is a great time to either begin or renew a deeper prayer life and to help you (and me!) to grow your prayer life, I have created an Advent prayer journal.

Advent Prayer Journal for Women

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

I am self-publishing a paperback copy through Ingram Spark and I am just waiting for the proof to go through. Once that’s done the book will be published. In addition, since Kindle versions of journals don’t work, I have created a printable PDF version of the journal.

This is from the book description:

Make The Advent Season A True Spiritual Journey

The Advent season is a time of joyful anticipation and waiting; however, in the rush and stress of preparation, the real meaning of Advent can be lost.

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that way! By spending some time each day in prayer, you can refocus and center your heart and mind on the one whom we await: Jesus Christ. And, this Advent Prayer Journal For Women can help.

This 162 page journal includes:

  • Scripture quotations from the Mass Readings
  • Lots of lined pages for writing and journaling
  • Blank pages for doodling, drawing, or pasting pictures
  • A section and explanation of the “O” Antiphons
  • A section for prayer intentions

May this journal be a tool to make this your best Advent Season yet!

The paperback book will be sold for $14.95 and the PDF will be sold at $10. However, for this week only (Until Friday, December 4), you can get the PDF for $5. There are no coupon codes needed, just go here to order the journal.

I pray that this journal will bless you and help you grow ever closer to Our Lord!

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