Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

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LENT: 3 Weeks In

Since my husband & I were out of town for a long weekend with one of our sons, I took a little bit of a break over the weekend from the Daily Readings. I didn’t intentionally do it; I just didn’t allow myself the time to get in the reading & reflection. Sleeping when I could during an extremely busy weekend was deemed a priority. Somehow I’m sure God understands; at least I hope he does! I managed to get in a daily Rosary, so that should count for something.
I’m finding that I’m able to concentrate better on the Readings if I set aside time at the beginning of the day instead of at night. My mind is clearer and I’m less tired. The only problem is getting up early enough to get ready for work and reading/reflecting. I get up at 5:00 now; I may need to push that up by 30 minutes to not feel rushed.
On the ride home on Sunday after visiting with our son, I read “Left to Tell” by Immaculee Ilibagiza. If you haven’t read it, I would urge you to. She truly had some miracles happen to her during her ordeal; God had some definite plans for her. Her faith is something to emulate. I pray that I never have to go through anything near as traumatic as she, but if I have to, I pray that I could have half of her faith.
This past week was a bit rough for me, as I mentioned in my SQT post. I had a couple of days when I refused to let anxiety take over my life. I prayed through those days and didn’t lose hope. I realized that we all have free will, and all we can do is pray for those who may have lost their way. I know it’s okay to ask Jesus to take care of me, and I definitely needed it last week! I’m trying my best to “Let go & Let God”. Some days it’s definitely easier than others.
My prayer list continues to grow as I remember more people for whom I need to pray, and as I tell people that I will pray for them. I start out the month of March with a half-full calendar of prayer requests. I suspect by Easter it will be full. It makes me sad that the upper left corner is so full. That's the corner with names of people who are fighting cancer. 5 of those are breast cancer victims.
To summarize:
-    I faltered a bit over the weekend with my Lenten Plans, but I think God will forgive me.
-    Full calendar = full heart
-    I made it through a tough period, so TAKE THAT, SATAN!
I'm linking up this week with Blessed is She 


{SQT}: Hope

seven quick takes friday 2
1. What a week this has been! I've had some trials, but I'm not gonna let the devil win! If I've said, "Jesus I trust in You" once, I've said it a million times this past week. 

2. Do you ever hear the Readings and think, "Whoa. I think that was written just for me, for this moment"? Yeah, I had that yesterday morning. I was able to go to Daily Mass, and the Readings were just what I needed to hear. I kept thinking about the phrase, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink." In the words of one of my principals, "Sometimes you can't even lead the horse to water."  All we can do is pray for those who need to be led...and who need to drink.

3. Yesterday's Readings confirmed what I suspected: the trials that my husband & I are going through with one of our sons right now is just that: a trial. Here it is Lent, and I guess it's not supposed to be easy. It seems that every time I really give a concerted effort to truly increase my faith during Lent, something happens with one of the boys to try my growth. The last time, I gave in to my weakness. I'm not going to do it this time. The Readings (and all of the reflections I read & meditated upon) gave me the strength to continue. Perfect timing. That's not to say that I've put aside all of my anxieties that are being brought on, but I feel like I can handle it. I can push it aside and not let it all-consume me.

4. About hope: We have to trust in the Lord. Yesterday's 1st Reading  (Jeremiah 17:5-10) told us to trust in the Lord and not in human beings. There are times when I feel like my heart has been ripped out and stomped upon by one of my boys, but this passage gave me hope. Hearing that the heart is the "most tortuous" and that even Jeremiah didn't understand it gave me hope that I will be able to get over this trial. I have to keep my eyes on the Lord and on his word.

5. Last week, I mentioned that I needed to ask forgiveness from a former co-worker. I handwrote a letter and mailed it to her. Yesterday, I received the sweetest email from her, assuring me that she forgave me and it was all water under the bridge. To be perfectly honest, I wasn't sure which way it would go, or if I would even hear anything from her. I was very much relieved to receive her email and know that she forgave me.

6. Over the past month or so, I've run into a quote several times. I ran into it once again, this time in an Etsy shop:
She has beautiful things in her shop. I saw this mug on a post by Catholic Again and it reminded me of my mom, who used to say this all the time:
14 oz Offer It Up Ceramic Mug

7. This is my "song of the week":

LENT: 2 Weeks In

Wow, this week really flew! I saw the blog post from Blessed is She for the link-up for the Week #2. It seems like I just posted something 2 days ago, but, no. I checked, and it’s been a week already!
I’m encouraged by how my Lent is going so far. I haven’t missed a day reading the reflections on the Readings. My prayer list has gone from this:
To this:

I’ve learned a lot these past 2 weeks. I’m learning forgiveness---how to forgive and how to be forgiven. I’m learning to be still…and listen. I’m learning to not be dependent on my phone or social media.
I’m learning to journal. I’ve never had a diary or a journal; well, except once. That lasted a about a week when I was a pre-teen. When I read back over what I wrote, I thought it sounded stupid and tore it up.
It’s amazing how much journaling thoughts & prayers makes a difference in my attitude and my patience level. Even the days when things don’t go right, I seem to be able to take it in stride and just keep chugging along.
Stations of the Cross? Check. Last Friday was a little wonky because a lay person directed (not sure of the correct word here!) the Stations. I’m not sure where all of the deacons were. This man (bless his heart!) is Puerto Rican and is in charge of the Hispanic Ministry at our Parish. He did his best, even when there were a few words that a native English speaker would have trouble with. I ran into him & his wife at the grocery store yesterday. I told him he did a wonderful job, and he laughed and said that everyone did their penance having to listen to him. He really is a delightful man!

So…2 weeks down, 5 to go. I think I’ll make it!
This week I'm linking up with Blessed is She and 40 Days of Seeking Him.

2nd Sunday of Lent: The Transfiguration

In my post on Friday, I mentioned that I think I have “prayer-life bipolarism”.  One day, I will be flying high, then the next day I seem to hit rock bottom. Why can’t we experience that high every day?
Today in the Gospel, we read about the Transfiguration. One of the deacons gave the Homily, and what he said made perfect sense with helping me understand the “up one day, down the next” thing. In speaking about the Transfiguration, he said that it is believed to have happened 40 days before Good Friday. So…why then? It was so the disciples would have some encouragement; something to cling to because the bad times were coming. He went on to say that there are times we know Jesus is there and we can feel him. (Those would be my “up” days.) That carries us through those times when things are tough.
AHA! The timing of the Transfiguration couldn’t have been better for me! There are no coincidences. I heard (and understood) what I needed at the perfect time. Maybe that’s why the Transfiguration happened when it did: It was the perfect time to prepare the disciples for the rough times. It was what they needed to experience so they had something to cling to during the bad times that were to come, so they wouldn't turn away.
In one of the daily reflections that I’ve been reading daily, there was mention that, just as in the disciples during the Transfiguration, we are partly in heaven and partly on earth during Mass. “Our feet stand on earth, but the Lord comes down from heaven in the Eucharist.” (OneBread, One Body; Winter into Lent edition) How blessed are we that, as Catholics, we have so many opportunities to experience that?
Another part of the Gospel struck me: Then from the cloud came a voice that said, 'This is my chosen Son; listen to Him.'  (Luke 9:35) Remember a few weeks ago when the Gospel was about the wedding at Cana? What did Mary tell the servants? (Hint: Do whatever He tells you. John 2:5) This week during The Best Lent Ever (Dynamic Catholic),  we are urged to spend time with Jesus in the classroom of silence. (I've been seeing this all over the place, not just at Dynamic Catholic.) This is a lot harder than it sounds, especially since I'm the kind of person who likes some kind of noise in the background. (I think that comes from growing up with 9 siblings!) Even so, this is what it's going to take to listen to him so that I can do what He tells me.

Did you have an “aha” moment during your service this weekend? 

{SQT} Judging (Among Other Things)

seven quick takes friday 2
1. As I was in the shower (because that's where a lot of my good thinking is done), I thought about a picture I saw on my parish's facebook page. In it was a mom with her daughter, who appears to be around 2-3, getting her ashes on Ash Wednesday. My first thought was, "Are you kidding me?" This was the grand-daughter of the woman who walked into Church before Mass and spoke out loud to the little girl to try to quiet her down. They sat 3 pews up from me; mom was chewing gum and grandmother (she's not that old, BTW) kept trying to quiet down the girl by speaking in a normal voice (not a whisper). Then, mom gave the girl a sucker to quiet her down. Oh, it worked, alright! As I watched this, I had to chastise myself for judging and not focusing on the real reason I was sitting in that pew.

2. Then, I got out of the shower, got dressed, and heard a "ping" on my phone. It was a notification from my 365 Days of Mercy App (which is free), so I sat down on the side of the bed to read it. And I read: "Here the 'judge not' of the Gospels applies with full force. We can render judgment concerning ideas, truths, or errors; good or bad actions; character, temperament, and what appears to us of a person's interior disposition, but we are utterly forbidden to judge the innermost heart, that inaccessible center where the person day after day weaves his or er own fate and ties the bonds bringing him or her to God. When it comes to that, there is only one thing to do, and that is to trust in God. And that is precisely what lover for our neighbor prompts us to do." (Jacques Maritain).
UGH. I really need to work on not judging people.

3. I remembered a dream I had overnight.  A former coworker was in it, and we were getting along. When she first starting working for our school system, I'm afraid I wasn't very nice to her, and it wasn't her fault she was put in the position she was in. Okay, Lord...I get it. I'm going to write an apology letter to her and mail it to her house.

4. I was so disappointed with the light turn-out to Stations of the Cross last Friday evening. My parish does the version called Praying the Stations with Mary the Mother of Jesus. It is absolutely beautiful and so very meaningful to apply the Stations to your everyday life.

5. My prayer list is growing. In the past, I would tell people I would pray for them, do it then, and not follow through with it. Enter the Blessed is She  On the Way Journal for Lent. It includes a monthly calendar, so I'm writing down the names of people to pray for around it as a daily reminder.

6. I think I have Prayer-Life Bipolarism. I can be so up one day, and then the next day seem to hit rock bottom with my prayer life. Quick prayer to St. Michael & a Hail Mary to put the devil back in his place!

7. I pulled out my old Steven Curtis Chapman cd the other day and listened to it in the car. I thought this song went perfectly with the purpose of Lent.

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain't the Lyceum.

LENT: One Week In

We’re one week into Lent. So far, so good! I was so very excited for Ash Wednesday to roll around so I could start journaling in my “On the Way” Journal by Blessed is She. I had it all ready:
On a Facebook group, someone asked how we are using the journal. I don’t think there’s 1 answer for everybody. I’m playing it by ear and doing what feels natural to me. In the front of the journal, there’s a calendar. Around it, I’m writing people’s names whom I have told that I’ll be praying for, or people that I know need prayers. On each day, I’m writing a word that struck me that day, something that happened that day, or something that I did.
Then, on each individual daily page, I’m writing down thoughts from the readings. Some are written as prayers, others are just thoughts. They aren’t just from that day’s readings; I may write down a thought from the “One Bread, One Body” book, or the “Year of Mercy” emails that I’m getting.
In other words, I’m making the journal MINE. It’s something on which I’ll be able to look back and (God willing) see growth throughout these 40 days.

Are you journaling this Lent? If so, what are you using? How is it going?

I'm linking up with Laura at Day by Day in Our World and Trish at A House Upon the Rock with 40 Days of Seeking Him. Click on the button below for more information or to see how others are seeking Him this Lent.

1st Sunday of Lent

Today’s Gospel reading is one that we’re all familiar with. To me, it is the essence of Lent. Jesus spends 40 days in the desert, fasting and praying, and is tempted by the devil.
As my parish priest said, this journey was necessary for Him, just as it is for us. It is a necessary part of our salvation. We have to be willing to follow the Lord and open our hearts to the call. Trust and belief is what salvation is based on. This tied into the Homily on Ash Wednesday, when the associate pastor encouraged us to “Trust in Him with daily decisions and actions”.

Are we willing? I remember my mother saying “the heart is willing but the flesh is weak.” We are human, and we have free will to say “no”. May God strengthen our will to change that “no” into a “yes” so that we can achieve eternal salvation. 

The RCIA candidates, as well as the catechumens, were presented to the congregation. It hit me last night how beautiful it is, that this is done the first Sunday of Lent, with this Gospel. How wonderful that we have this as part of our faith; that these adults, preparing to become Catholic, walk to the altar and write their names in a book to be counted among those who will receive Jesus in communion on Easter Vigil. For these next 40 days, they will continue to prepare themselves to receive the most holy of sacraments and will be welcomed into the Church. Please pray for all candidates and catechumens.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday. The beginning of Lent. The time to step back, take a look at our spiritual life and make changes. At least, that’s part of what it is for me.
I stopped giving things up for Lent a long time ago. It just seemed kind of selfish to give up chocolate or coffee. Instead, I would do something. There were years when I didn’t go to Mass regularly. It’s hard to get up and make the commitment to attend when you’re the only one in the household going. (But that’s a whole other post.) My goal for those years would simply be going to Mass every Sunday.
In the past few weeks, I’ve been re-evaluating just what I’ve been spending my time doing. And just how much time I’m wasting being away from my husband and my real thoughts. Some real “soul searching” has been going on in my head.
Social media has been a big part of the waste of time. I believe it has a placea huge place in evangelization. While I’m more of the quiet type when it comes to my faith, I sincerely believe that just planting those little seeds can grow something big.
I have some friends who will walk away from social media during Lent. I read a couple of blog posts about the importance of not doing that. What better way to live our modern lives out as Catholics, and to stand up and say “I BELIEVE”?
I really like Instagram: snap a picture and publish it online using hashtags. has a Lenten Challenge for all of us IGers: also has a Lenten Challenge:

I’m going to do my best to combine the 2. We’ll see what happens. Oh, and just in case you’re wonderingthat’s not my goal for Lent. While I’m not walking away from Social Media, I am going to use it from a different angle: the Catholic angle.
I’m actually excited for this Lent and to see how much I grow and become closer to God. I have my On the Way Journal from Blessed is She printed out and ready to go. I subscribed to Dynamic Catholic’s BestLent Ever. I had already started reciting the Rosary on my way to work every day. My ride to one of my schools is exactly the length of the recitation of the Rosario app (Which is free, by the way!) . At my other school, I finish it up while sitting in the parking lot. I’ve noticed that my days have gone smoother since I’ve started doing this. In fact, I seem to have a much more patience with my students as well.
My goal for this Lent is to simply keep doing what I’ve been doing and kicking it up a notch. Attending the Stations of the Cross at my parish on Friday nights. Reading more Catholic blogs instead of Speech Therapy Blogs. Not spending so much time on Facebook, looking at Speech things, but rather spending some time with people and groups I follow who are Catholic. Blogging more on this blog, as well as my personal blog. Basically, not letting my occupation as a Speech Language Pathologist completely define who I am now that my boys are grown. 
What is your Lenten Goal?

5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

The Gospel this week is something we have all heard: the disciples (before they were disciples) cast their nets but went the whole night without catching anything. But, when Jesus got in the boat and told them to cast their nets one more time, they loaded up 2 boats with fish. The men dropped everything and became Jesus' disciples. And the rest, as they say, is history.
The Homily today focused on trust. Do you remember a time when you were a kid and you were hanging from a tree or the monkey bars, and someone told you to let go? Remember how much trust it took to actually let go?  "Let go and let God" is exactly what the disciples did when they left everything behind to follow Him.
I'm a bit of a control freak. If I'm not in control of a situation, I get a little anxious. Father said that to follow Jesus, we have to get rid of the illusion that we're in control of our lives.
Have you heard the question (and I'm loosely paraphrasing because I can't remember the exact words & can't find it on the internet!) "What if, when you die, you find out there's no heaven?" And the response, "Oh, but what if, when I die I chose not to believe and there was?" That's faith.
I don't get how some people don't believe. How can anyone watch the snow fall, see fog on a mountain, hear a child laugh and sing, or hold their newborn baby in their hands and not believe? Why is it easier for some people to take that leap of faith and so hard for others? Even in our own families, why is it so hard?

Favorite quote of the Homily:
“If the child in the womb has no right to be born, if the sick and the old have no right to be taken care of – then there is no solid foundation to defend anyone’s human rights.”- - - Archbishop Jose H. Gomez