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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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.

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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).

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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!

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.

My Thoughts on the Father Corapi Situation

There has been a big reaction on Twitter and around the blogosphere during the weekend over Father Corapi’s recent announcement, so you probably know about it by now. But for those who haven’t heard, Father Corapi is stepping down from public ministry as a priest and beginning a personal ministry through his new blog, TheBlackSheepDog.us. Apparently this is in response to the Church’s handing of the alleged accusations against Father Corapi.

As you look around the ‘net, you will see a lot of opinions: some in defense of Father Corapi’s decision, some in  (severe) criticism against Father Corapi and his decision, and a lot of speculation.

What I haven’t seen much of is a call to pray. Or a reminder to pray. We need to remember to pray for Father Corapi, for the woman who accused him (falsely or for real – whatever the case may be), for the bishops and leaders of Father Corapi’s religious order.

Only God, Father Corapi and the woman involved knows for sure what did and didn’t happen. The truth may or may not be revealed in our life time. Only God knows why the Bishop (s) involved has handled the situation as it has. Is Father’s decision to continue a personal ministry outside of the priesthood in defiance of the Church? I’ll let God be the judge of that.

Over the years Father Corapi’s preaching and ministry has touched the lives of many and have been the catalyst of many conversions – including people I know and knew personally. His leaving public priestly ministry will truly leave a hole in the Church.

(Hat tip to Cam over at A Woman’s Place, where I first heard about this.)

How to Make a Good Confession

I came across a link on Twitter the other day and wanted to share it with you. It’s Father Z’s 20 Tips for making How to Make a Good Confessiona good confession.

Confession is a sadly misunderstood sacrament within and without the Catholic Church. It’s such a shame, too. The Sacrament of Confession (now widely known as the Sacrament of Reconciliation) is a tremendous gift from God to the Church.

I remember years ago reading in the book Pierced by a Sword (aff link) confession being described as “whispering into the ears of Jesus.” And, in faith, we know that is exactly what confession is. When we confess our sins we are whispering (or talking) to God through the priest, who is an instrument of God’s grace.

From personal experience, I can say that Confession is a very powerful and healing sacrament. I have often been deeply touched by God’s grace in the confessional and always come out strengthened in faith and ready to do battle for the Lord.

Anyhoo, getting back on point: Father Z offers very practical tips, from waiting in line patiently to how to confess any mortal sins. Do take a moment to check those tips out. 🙂

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Tweetable: How to Make a Good Confession

Tip for Keeping Track of Online Passwords

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This isn’t my usual kind of post, but I was changing/updating my passwords and thought I would share a little tip for storing and keeping track of all the passwords you have from the various websites, forums and groups you belong to. 🙂

A lot of people use Microsoft® Excel or other safe-guarded program on the computer. Personally, though, I’m not comfortable with storing my passwords on the computer. You never know when/if your computer is going to crash (mine has twice!) and if your backup fails, you’re in trouble.  Besides that, there is always the possibility of your computer being compromised, no matter how careful you are.

Here’s my tip:

Use an address book. Write in your user name and password for each site alphabetically in the address book and then you will have easy access to your passwords in case you forget. For example: I have my user name and password for my Facebook account filed under “F” and my user name/password for my Twitter account is filed under  “T”, etc.

For a long time, I just used a notebook dedicated to my list of passwords. It was convenient, but I would have to search through lists of passwords before finding the one I needed (if I couldn’t remember the password or where in the list I’d written it). The address book, on the other hand, is safe, convenient and organized – and that works for me!

Have your own system for storing and/or keeping track of your your passwords? Please leave a comment and share it with us!