Category Archives: Prayer

Feeling Restless? This is How We Overcome!

Just before 2:00 am last night, I finally got out of bed. It was my second consecutive restless night. Just when I think I may kinda-sorta be able to hit cruise control for a little bit, WABOOM, curve ball. When life gets like this, I know what helps me begin to reset — STOP, write in my journal.

Amidst my restlessness, my writing becomes an outpouring from mind and heart, which turns then to prayer. A prayer that opens me up to hear the Lord again above the noise. And His words are usually powerful in these moments.

These sacred words are something that I always keep between us, in the pages of my journal. But there were a series of things that I felt, heard, and saw that have prompted me to share a few of these precious morsels here, with you. The primary one being that today begins a lovely devotion close to my heart, and hopefully yours – the Novena to the Sacred Heart. If you’d like a simple way to follow along with this 9-day prayer, sign up here.

So, fresh from my journal pages, here are some words from His heart to mine, to yours:

“Beloved, light a path of love from within. Follow the light of your heart inward to peace. Find blessing in all things, and all things will bless you. Know that in the secret stillness, I am there. Seek me. Find me. I’m waiting. Looking for you. Will you run after me? Or will you be chased away by fears, distractions, or the Enemy? Little one, rest in my love.”

I opened a beautiful meditational I have, called “He and I,” and meditation from September 18th leaped off the page. The first words were this:

While that entire meditation is powerful, these first words cut fast. Do I truly understand this? If so, I wouldn’t be so restless. As St. Augustine says, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”

I’ve recently been watching various “great minds of today” share how they begin their day, or exercises they do in order to better themselves, and the other best “lifehacks”. And while they inspire me and motivate me, this kicked my butt. Perhaps it will kick yours too, in the best sort of butt-kicking ways. Because life will threaten to keep you on the run and restless – it will rob you of peace and joy, if you allow it. So we must remember how we overcome – go to our place of refuge – His Heart.

I hope you’ll join me in praying the Sacred Heart Novena.<3

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A Special Opportunity for Mercy

Now is the time for mercy. This is a special time of mercy.

Why is this a time of mercy? 

It’s pretty obvious that our country has recently reached a new level of upheaval and unrest. Amidst the barrage of media, politics, and protests, I’ve been focusing on protecting my peace and meditating on mercy.

“In the Church today, there’s a lot of talk of the ‘time of mercy,’ a time of great grace and blessing. Why? Simply put, it’s because the times are so evil,” as Fr. Mike Gaitley says in “33 Days to Merciful Love” (see Rom 5:20.)

Furthermore, on December 8, 2015, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, Pope Francis opened the Holy Door in St. Peter’s Basilica, inaugurating the Jubilee of Mercy. And that Jubilee Year of Mercy is now coming to a close this Sunday, November 20th, the Solemnity of Christ the King.

(If you haven’t been following along in this Year of Mercy, there are some cliff notes at the bottom to catch you up to speed.)

There is an opportunity to receive a special kind of mercy before the Holy Doors close, on this Saturday (some Holy Doors have already closed) in many places around the world. This mercy can be received in the form of a Plenary Indulgence.

What is a Plenary Indulgence?

“An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints”. [Source: Code of Cannon Law + CCC 1471]

What’s all this about remission of temporal punishment?

Think of this as a clean slate, in the fullest sense.

In the Sacrament of Baptism not only is the guilt of sin remitted, but also all the penalties attached to sin. In the Sacrament of Penance the guilt of sin is removed, and with it the eternal punishment due to mortal sin; but there still remains the temporal punishment required by Divine justice, and this requirement must be fulfilled either in the present life or in the world to come, i.e., in Purgatory. An indulgence offers the penitent sinner the means of discharging this debt during his life on earth. [Source: New Advent]

How do I get a Plenary Indulgence in the Holy Year of Mercy?

Most folks should have a few more days to obtain this special Jubilee Plenary Indulgence, so here’s the simple breakdown:

jubilee-indulgence

For more info, check out the Vatican site.

Where are the Doors of Mercy?

Here is a map of the Doors of Mercy found around the world.

NOTE: Some Holy Doors have already begun to close, so please contact the church prior to making your visit. All Holy Doors will be closed before the Pope officially closes the Year of Mercy on November 20, 2016.

What is a Jubilee Year?

The practice of a jubilee year has ancient roots in the Jewish tradition and evidence for it can be found in the Old Testament (for example, see Leviticus 25).  The jubilee year was called every fifty years and was a time for forgiveness.  It stood as a reminder of God’s providence and mercy.  The dedication of a year for this emphasis provided the community with a time to come back into right relationship with one another and with God.  As the practice of the jubilee year was adopted into the Catholic Church, these themes of mercy, forgiveness, and solidarity continued.  [Source: USCCB]

So, when was the last jubilee year? It was in 2000, during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, and was called “the Great Jubilee.”  In 1983, the Church held the last extraordinary jubilee year, celebrating 1,950 years since the death and resurrection of Christ.

What is the Holy Door?

Each diocese will have the opportunity to open a Door of Mercy in their diocese, all members of the faithful will have opportunity to make a pilgrimage to their local Holy Door during the Jubilee.  This pilgrimage is to be a journey of walking closer with God and discovering “moment[s] of grace and spiritual renewal” (MV, 3. . . ).  These doors are symbols of God’s mercy, open to welcome everyone into the compassion of God’s love that Christ proclaimed.  [Source: USCCB]

“To pass through the Holy Door means to rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them,” Pope Francis said.

May the end of your Year of Mercy bring you into a deeper encounter with the mercy of God, and a desire to be the face of mercy to others.

 

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What to give up for Lent? It’s 40/40/40 Prayer Pact Time!

Let me interrupt your week with a Catholic alert: Lent starts next week.

As in 6 days from today.

If you’re thinking about what to give up for Lent, and chocolate comes to mind, lend me your ear (or eyes in this case) – please.

lent prayers

Last year that Holy Spirit inspired me to start something that transformed my, and others, Lent: The 40/40/40 Prayer Pact. You can read about how it started here and download graphics I designed, but I’ll give you the recap and breakdown here too. {P.S. I designed some new free 2016 downloadable graphics + calendar, they’re down below.)

MY 40/40/40 LENTEN PRAYER PACT:

40 prayer intentions

40 people

40 days

I will pray for 40 prayer intentions, given to me by 40 people, each of the 40 days of Lent. Whoever signs up by Fat Tuesday, February 9th (or before my list is full – whichever comes first) will be on my 40/40/40 list that I commit to praying for this Lent. Note, I will never share or publish your prayer intentions, unless you want me to share in thanksgiving a prayer answered with your express permission.

Last year folks starting their own prayer pacts too, even Catholic teachers using it with their students — thanks be to God! I hope you’ll join by starting your own prayer pact – it’s easy – I provide everything you need to know and use right here.

WHAT IS THE 40/40/40 LENT PRAYER PACT?

Over 40 days, I will be devoting a day to pray for each participant and your prayer intention during my Lenten journey. A pact is defined as a formal agreement between individuals or parties, and I formally agree to pray for 40 people’s intentions over 40 days.

WHY DID YOU CREATE THE PACT?

There is such a power and gift in intercessory prayer. Offering prayers on the behalf of others is also a way to be focused on the needs of others. It reaps graces for those in need. My hope is that the 40/40/40 will help me focus on others more, create a positive prayer movement, and help others along their Lenten journey.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO HAVE YOU PRAY FOR ME?

If you’d like to be included on my 40/40/40, fill out the form below. The first 40 I will commit to pray for you by name, lifting up your intention. If you are late signing up and the list is full (there are only 40 spaces after all) I may be able to coerce my husband to take you on 🙂 Or, I would encourage you to do the prayer pact with your friends and relatives yourself.

SO, HOW DO I START MY OWN 40/40/40 LENTEN PRAYER PACT?

  1. The simplest way to compile your list is to create a sign up form, like the Google form I am using below. For help, here’s a YouTube Lynda.com tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IxFeVXBwaQ. Then embed it or share it with others via email, Social Media, carrier pigeon, etc.
  1. Share information (here’s my permission to utilize my text and graphics in this post) on the prayer pact with your friends and family. Share though email, Social Media, and a blog if you have one. You can use my 40/40/40 Graphic at the top of this post too.
  1. Begin your prayer challenge on February 10, 2016 (Ash Wednesday) and continue through March 26, Holy Saturday. To keep yourself on track, your participant signups through Google forms can be compiled in a Google document. Click to download the FREE 2016 Lenten Prayer Pact Calendar that I designed, fill in the 40 names on each day, and hang it where it will remind you daily. Or just print out your list and you can keep your list with your Bible, tape to your mirror, or wherever/however you’ll remember to pray for your 40 participants.
  1. While this takes bit of coordination, but how nice if you take the time to remind your participants on the day that you’re praying for them. That could be an email, text, post-it note, Facebook message/Tweet/Snapchat/whatevs, or something to say, “I’m praying for you on this day of the 40/40/40 challenge” or send them my Ephesians graphic at the bottom.

The premise is simple, but the fruit born from the 40/40/40 last year was beautiful (read about that here). So, I’m thrilled to invite another 40 people along on my Lenten journey through intercessory prayer — which is POWERFUL!

UPDATED on 02.10.16 {ASH WEDNESDAY}: The form below is no longer accepting responses, as my prayer pact is now closed. It was funny that this year it took longer to fill up – putting out several requests and personally reaching out to people via email and text. Then an influx of last minute requests came in that put me over my 40. I knew y’all had prayer requests…don’t sandbag, folks {wink}.

SIGN UP HERE SO I CAN PRAY FOR YOU THIS LENT:

Need to get people to pray for? Use the graphics {Facebook cover, Twitter Cover, Social Media post grapic} that I designed last year, or download the Social Media covers that I designed and am using this year, below.

FACEBOOK COVER

What to give up for Lent

TWITTER COVER

Lent Twitter Cover

Let’s do this – bring on the 2016 Lenten 40/40/40! I will be sharing some posts on prayer this Lent. I’ll take you into my prayer nook that I set up in our new house, and what I use to create an atmosphere for prayer. I’ll also share insights I’ve learned on prayer over the years – through retreats, books, Spiritual Directors, Theology Professors, Priests, the Saints, and my own experience – for better or worse. I want to hear about what works, and doesn’t work for you too – so use the com-box, please!

May God richly bless your Lenten journey!

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Lent: My 40/40/40 Prayer Pact

lentAlthough this whole Lent deal is far from a new season to me, I somehow fail to properly plan until Ash Wednesday springs upon me in its dusty, stark, post-Mardi-Gras-glitz-and-sugar-hangover-way. This year I am working on being more intentional about starting my Lent with a sense of readiness. Nevermind the fact that an assortment of ideas and distractions ambush my brain while I sit at my desk attempting to do my business tax prep for my CPA, but this idea I knew was inspired…

But let me interrupt this inspiration banter with: This is your 9 DAYS until Lent starts countdown!

Now back to what the Spirit stirred up. This isn’t a give up chocolate kind of Lenten offering (and yes I love chocolate). I wanted to dig deeper in prayer, giving people the assurance that they were specifically being prayed for, their intentions, by name, during this Lent.

So, I am starting a LENTEN PRAYER PACT 40 for 40 in 40:

40 prayer intentions

For 40 people

In 40 days

Each of 40 days of Lent will be dedicated to one of the 40 specific prayer intentions from 40 different people. Whether you are a friend, or I have never met you, that makes no difference – sign up and you are on my 40/40/40 list this Lent and I will commit to praying for you. Note, I will never share or publish your prayer intentions, unless you want me to and give me express permission.

WHAT IS THE 40/40/40 LENT PRAYER PACT?

Over 40 days, I will be devoting a day to prayer for each participant and your prayer intention during my Lenten journey. A pact is defined as a formal agreement between individuals or parties, and I formally agree to pray for 40 people’s intentions over 40 days.

WHY DID YOU CREATE THE PACT?

There is such a power and gift in intercessory prayer. Offering prayers on the behalf of others is also a way to be focused on the needs of others. It reaps graces for those in need. My hope is that the 40/40/40 will help me focus on others more, create a positive prayer movement, and help others along their Lenten journey.

WHAT DO I NEED TO DO TO HAVE YOU PRAY FOR ME?

If you’d like to be included on my 40/40/40, fill out the form below. The first 40 I will commit to pray for you by name, lifting up you intention – simple. If you are late signing up and the list is full (there are only 40 spaces after all) I may be able to coerce my husband to take you on 🙂 Or, I would encourage you to do the prayer pact with your friends and relatives yourself.

SO, HOW DO I START MY OWN 40/40/40 LENTEN PRAYER PACT?

  1. Easiest way to compile your list is to create a sign up form, like the Google form I am using below. For help, here’s a YouTube Lynda.com tutorial: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2IxFeVXBwaQ, then embed it or share it with others.
  1. Share information (you have permission to use my verbiage and graphics in this post) on the prayer pact with your friends and family. Share though email, Social Media, and a blog if you have one. You can use my 40/40/40 Graphic too.
  1. Begin your prayer challenge on February 18, 2015 (Ash Wednesday) and continue through April 4, Holy Saturday. To keep yourself on track, your participant signups through Google forms can be compiled in a Google document. Next just print out and either keep your list with your Bible, tape to your mirror, or wherever/however you’ll remember to pray for your 40 participants.
  1. This takes bit of coordination, but how nice if you take the time to remind your participants on the day that you’re praying for them. That could be an email, text, post-it note, Facebook message/Tweet/Snapchat/whatevs, or something to say, “I’m praying for you on this day of the 40/40/40 challenge” or send them my Ephesians graphic at the bottom.

It’s a pretty simple concept, but I am excited to invite 40 other people along on my Lenten journey through praying for your intentions.

UPDATE: FEBRUARY 13th, I have my 40/40 for my 40 already signed up, so my form is no longer accepting submissions, sorry! 

FREE DOWNLOAD – LENTEN PRAYER PACT CALENDAR!
Click link below to download & print. Fill in the names of your participants on each of the 40 days and hang in a good reminder spot!

Lenten Calendar 2015

NEED TO GET PEOPLE TO PRAY FOR? USE THIS GRAPHIC IN YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA WITH A LINK TO YOUR SIGN-UP FORM:

lent prayers

HERE’S A FACEBOOK COVER TO USE:

Lent Facebook Cover

HERE’S A TWITTER COVER TO USE:

lenten twitter cover

LET PEOPLE KNOW YOU’RE PRAYING FOR THEM. HERE’S A “PRAYING FOR YOU” GRAPHIC YOU CAN EMAIL/TEXT/SHARE WITH THEM:

lenten prayer pact

Invite other to join the prayer pact for their Lent.

Lent prayers

Finally, you can do something special like this for your participants to remind them of your prayers during the next 40 days:

40 days of Lent

 

 

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Prayer for the Strengthening of Marriages

Prayer for Marriages

A sweet friend recently sent me a “spiritual toolbox” with some specific items that she picked up for my husband and I while traveling in Medjugorje, Assisi, San Giovanni Rotundo, and Rome. Included in those was this small devotional to Our Lady Undoer of Knots – a once obscure 300-year-old sacred image by master painter Johann Schmidtner. According to this Steubenville Press booklet pictured here, this is quickly becoming the fastest growing Marian devotion in the world today.

The story behind the painting is one of a real family that struggled through marital disunity, yet through prayerful intercession, there was a powerful reconciliation. It is said to be a favorite devotion of Pope Francis, and I can imagine as the Synod on the Family continues with Church leaders, he is asking for Our Mama’s help in these very trying times concerning issues with marriage and the family.

It’s a beautiful prayer, and I am quite certain that if not you, someone who is deeply struggling in their marriage will benefit from it. So please, share!

One quick note before the prayer, as some may wonder (like myself at one point many years ago) “Why pray to Mary?” Good question. Simply: Christ gave us the gift of His Mother from the Cross to be a powerful intercessor on our behalf. As Catholics, we do not worship Mary – we ask the vessel that brought us Our Savior to pray with and for us.

Speaking from personal experience: If you struggle having a relationship with the Mother of God, ask her to help you. I did when I was a college student, and it opened me up to the most beautiful example of purity, womanhood, spiritual motherhood, etc… Mary has answered many prayers and requests of mine through the years, including leading my dear Husband to me (another story for another day), so believe me when I say, this Jewish Mama will hook you up!!

Prayer for the Strengthening of Marriages

Blessed Mother, take into your hands
the knots that affect married couples,
and with your long fingers of love and grace
undo these knots for the glory of God.
Visit married couples with your grace,
renew their sacramental covenant,
increase God’s love in them,
and strengthen their bond of peace
so that, with their children,
they may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
Mary, Undoer of Knots, pray for us.

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What I’ve Learned About Prayer

Unless you are willing to do the ridiculous, God will not do the miraculous. When you have God, you don’t have to know everything about it; you just do it.”
― Mother Angelica

I had just made the move south to Cajun country Louisiana a few years ago. After attending a political event with my new ‘work’ family, with it getting late and a half-hour drive still ahead of me, my Boss invited me to stay over at her family’s home. Since I didn’t have any of my things with me, she made sure I had what I needed to settle in for the night. Without a contact lens case, she gave me two drinking glasses and some contact solution. I washed up, left my cup o’ lenses in the office, and settled in their country home for the night.

In the morning, she was making breakfast when I awoke. As I headed in to take a shower after we ate, I quickly mentioned that I left my contacts in the home office. Turns out I should’ve been a little more deliberate about that statement, as the cups were gone when I returned.

Half-blindly, I moved towards the kitchen, where she was dunking dishes in her soapy water-filled sink to load into the dishwasher. I think I asked her if she had seen my lenses probably around the time that she put a couple of small glasses in the top rack.

Her face dropped, and she exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! I didn’t realize what you meant about the glasses! I just rinsed them and put them in the dishwasher! I’m so sorry!”

As I felt my way over to her, with her profuse apologies, I assured her it was going to be ok. We proceeded to do the two woman-hunt for those small, clear objects that love never to be found once they’ve fallen from your fingertip. We searched and searched…nothing.

It was time to call in the big guns: St. Anthony. We asked for his help, and I promised him if he helped me find my contacts, I’d share my story with others.

Standing by the sink, we had both been feeling around in the dirty dish water for sometime. She turned to me and said, “In faith, I feel like we’re supposed to take the plug out of the drain. I know it sounds crazy, but…”

If I had thought about it, I would’ve hesitated, and logically I would’ve explained our way out of it. But, the preface was IN FAITH. So, as I went to pull the stopper out of the drain, I felt something. There IT is – one little contact stuck to my hand. What?!

Moving to do it again, boom, the other contact lens. We both were giddy.

Prayer can feel at times like you’re reaching into a murky mess, feeling around, searching for that answer. Maybe it has been for 10-minutes, or maybe it has been for 10-years — when you feel like you keep sending out an SOS signal and nobody is responding or seeing it.

That’s a lie. No prayer goes unnoticed or is unimportant to God. He doesn’t have selective hearing to tune you out with, nor does He make you feel like you’re not a priority because there’s bigger problems in the world. We need to be cautious not to ascribe our humanness to God’s Divinity.

As we prepare for Lent, there are some good reminders I’m receiving. Prayer requires a few things that are really hard, for me too: Faith, patience, and surrender.

StThereseQuote

My Dad would gently remind me in some prime moments of stubbornness: “You’re praying and asking God to do things, and then as He does, you’re saying, ‘No, not that way, like this.'”

Prayer requires our faith to ask it, our patient hope to wait upon it, and our surrender as to how He will answer it. And there is an answer EVERY time – whether it be no, yes, not yet. As many times as I’ve been through this, I still am amazed that nearly 10 times out of 10 it is never how you imagined and in the end better than you could’ve planned.

It may look and feel ridiculous at times — especially as you surrender to remove the drain that you feel is holding everything together. But what’s the alternative: To be blind and keep doing what hasn’t been working?

P.S. Don’t ever wash your lenses with dirty dishwater. Never. Ever.

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Raising a Saint

Although they are unmentioned in the Bible, the lives of Sts. Joachim and Ann have been gleaned from an apocryphal Christian writing, the Protoevangelium Jacobi, or Gospel of James, written about the year 170. As the story goes, Joachim was a prominent, respected man; yet he and his wife, Ann, for many years had no children. At that time, that was viewed as a punishment from God, so they prayed and asked for a child.  This is why she is the patroness of childless couples, pregnancy, and many more (see below).

God answered their prayer, and an angel appeared to tell the older couple that they would conceive. Anne promised that their child would be dedicated to God, and Mary was born.

annenmary

What was it like to raise not only a Saint, but the Mother of God? I wish there were writings on that. Still, I picture it something like this photo: With Ann teaching Mary her “Catechism”, and how to tend to a household, and little Mary faithfully and sweetly learning and growing. We do know that Joachim and Ann were people of faith, and raised Mary in such a way to be worthy of her calling. They did not waste any time either, as Mary was only about 12 or 13 when Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

On the vigil of Sts. Joachim & Ann’s feast last night, the Hispanic and English groups joined together to celebrate our Patroness. About twice a year, our thriving Parish in Texas, St. Ann, combines the English and Spanish choirs to sing for bilingual liturgies. It’s very lively and moving – even us musicians were moved to tears during parts of the Mass.  Since Ann & Joachim were Jesus’ Grandparent, we honored the Grandparents of our community — they joined the procession, carrying white flowers and placing them in vases on the altar.  With 8 priests and deacons celebrating the Mass, and so many choir members to overfill the risers, it was a beautiful liturgy.

Here’s more about Anne & Joachim, from The One Year Book of Saints by Rev. Clifford Stevens:

PATRON
Anne: against poverty; barren; broommakers; cabinetmakers; carpenters; childless couples; equestrians; grandmothers; grandparents; homemakers; housewives; lace makers; lace workers; lost articles; miners; mothers; old-clothes dealers; pregnancy; pregnant women; horse riders; seamstresses; stablemen; sterility; turners; women in labour; Brittany; Canada; France; Quebec; archdiocese of Detroit, Michigan; diocese of Norwich, Connecticut; Santa Ana Indian Pueblo; Taos, New Mexico.

Joachim: fathers, grandfathers, grandparents.

SYMBOLS
Anne: Book, symbol of her careful instruction of Mary; flowering rod; crown; nest of young birds; door; Golden Gate of Jerusalem; book; infant Virgin in crib; Shield has silver border masoned in black, with silver lily on a blue field referring to the girlhood of the Virgin.
Often Portrayed As: Woman holding Mary or Jesus in her arms or lap; Woman at her betrothal to Joachim; Mother teaching Mary to read the Bible; Woman greeting Saint Joachim at Golden Gate; Woman with a book in her hand.

Joachim: Basket containing doves; model of Golden Gate of Jerusalem.
Often Portrayed As: Man bringing a lamb to the altar and being turned away by the priest; greeting and/or kissing Saint Anne at the Golden Gate; elderly man carrying a basket of doves and a staff; elderly man with the child Mary.

Sources: catholicculture.org; catholic.org

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Prayer Before Surgery with Dad

084
My Dad recently had a Nuclear Stress Test and the results showed that his heart isn’t functioning properly. He had not told us that he had been having some shortness of breath and palpitations and such…ugh… They aren’t sure what is wrong — if it’s something with his Quadruple Bypass (that they 10 years ago yesterday), or something new.
In order to discover that, today they will do a Cardiac Catheterization — during which a long thin tube, a catheter, will be inserted in an artery or vein in his groin and threaded through the blood vessels to his heart. This will show them what the issues are. He is deathly allergic to Iodine (which is why he can’t eat shellfish — hives, close his wind-pipe), so they have been prepping him before and will be ready during the surgery for that.
 
There is a chance when they are in there, that if he needs something done (like a stint), it may be taken care of at the time. Not sure. 
 
Dad has been anxious about this. He’s been through it before, and not seamlessly I might add, but with Mom. Without her optimism and “everything will be fine” attitude, he’s certainly feeling it. My Florida brother and I are here, well, to just be here with him.
Dad has had trouble sleeping the past few nights. Before we went to bed last night, I searched for a prayer and found this short yet poignent prayer at Catholic.org:

Loving Father, I entrust myself to your care this day; guide with wisdom and skill the minds and hands of the medical people who minister in your Name, and grant that every cause of illness be removed, I may be restored to soundness of health and learn to live in more perfect harmony with you and with those around me. Through Jesus Christ. Amen.

Into your hands, I commend my body and my soul. Amen.

When we have health scares, it reminds us how out of control we are of our lives, how fragile life is, how quickly things can change. It also can reveal to us how great we are in need of a Savior, how grand our trust needs to be, how loving our family and friends are, and how we need to embrace life and do and say the things we need to right now…not wait for “someday”.

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Serenity: The other Half of the Story

I take it by now that everyone is pretty familiar with the Serenity Prayer, right? You know:

This prayer is attributed to a theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, and often is associated with many 12-step programs.  Looking at the original prayer, most of us don’t realize that we are only familiar with the first half.  The rest of it is:

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
AMEN.

I think so many people relate to this prayer because it directly speaks to the areas that we struggle with the most:

ACCEPTANCE

SURRENDER

TRUST

Amidst the political brouhaha of today — such as this weeks CEOs of Chick-Fil-A vs. Amazon and the like, the part that particularly speaks to me is:

“Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will.”

I am thankful for the promise that He will make all things right, because people of faith really need to hold onto that right about now.  So God, I’m gonna keep trying to work on my part of acceptance, surrender, and trust and let you work on Yours.  Oh, and thanks in advance for always forgiving me the many times that I fall short!

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Decoupage Spiritual Bouquet

I’ve worked across many mediums in my artistic escapades, but I don’t know how or why Decoupage has eluded me.  Well, now I can cross it off the “attempted” list, but definitely not off the mastered! Our dear friends are moving North, and as they have given so much to us and our Church, it required a special gift.  I wanted to present them with a Spiritual Bouquet. For those unfamiliar what a Spiritual Bouquet is, a brief explanation would be:

The Spiritual Bouquet is basically a gift of prayer from a group of people.  It is comprised of gathering whatever form of prayers or offerings each person wishes to make for the recipient. For example, someone might offer 2 Rosaries and a Holy Communion.  Another person might offer a two acts of charity and a Morning Prayer. Or one might enroll them at a Shrine or with a Religious order for Masses to be offered daily over a certain period of time.  It all varies, as it depends on whatever spiritual offerings the gift-givers desire to make.  These would then be compiled somehow, such as in a card, and then presented as a Spiritual Bouquet to someone.
I searched online for ideas to create a grownup Spiritual Bouquet.  Nothing totally grabbed me, but some ideas did start forming.  I emailed our retreat team and asked for them to respond with their offerings for our friends. Then I created a personalized template, printed out the offering cards, and wrote down each person’s offerings.  I’m going to attempt my first FREE downloadable PDF file of this template for those interested (I took out the family’s name, so it’s a generic form).  Hold your applause, please.  Click this Link:  Spritual Bouquet Cards

Spiritual Bouquet Cards

I also printed & cut extra to bring to the going-away party for others interested in adding to the bouquet.
Lastly, I decoupaged a small pine box to not only personalize the gift, but give them a spiritual keepsake — also easy to move across the country.

I found on Pinterest how to make my own “Modge Podge” with water and Elmer’s Glue.  I dumped the whole bottle of glue in my fancy pickle jar and then filled it back up 2/3’s with water,  and then shook up.  It worked OK, but I’ve never used Modge Podge, so I can’t do a fair comparison honestly.

Pinterest suggestion to make your own “Modge Podge” with water + glue in a jar

This Divine Mercy card was from the Sanctuary of Divine Mercy in Krakow, Poland, where St. Faustina lived and died as a religious sister.

Our team logo and a fitting scripture

This St. Therese the Little Flower prayer card was from Lisieux, France, where this Doctor of the Church lived and died.

The Decoupage Pine Box with the Spiritual Bouquet cards

Note: After I glued the items on the wood box, I let it dry for a bit, and then sprayed it with Krylon’s “Low Odor Clear Finish”.  That gave it a protective and glossy finish.

That’s the quick version, friends.  In the end, this makes a nice personalized gift from the heart, full of prayers, and a thoughtful keepsake!

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