As Lent comes to a close, it is time to reflect on what I’ve learned. This year, I chose to not only fast from meat on Fridays, but to follow the stricter fasting rules we… More
Happy New Year! I know it’s a common thing to say, but wow did 2017 go by fast! We had a busy year, new assignment, new house, new baby, new friends and so many memories. While 2017 seemed to be a year of newness for our family, I’m hoping 2018 is more of a year of settling. We are settling into Ben’s job, being a family of 6, homeschooling 3 kids, and finding our favorite spots around Del Rio.
A big part of New Years time is always the topic of resolutions and goal setting. For the past year I’ve been trying hard to stay on top of my planner. Using a paper planner has been a game changer for me as many of you know. It has changed the way I clean, the way we are organized and lowered my stress level (most days at least). It has made me realize just how much I was trying keep track of in my brain and how unrealistic my expectations were. It has also made me more accountable, both to myself and my own goals and to my family. I have found so much freedom within the structure of organization.
I’ve noticed how the planner has helped me break down tasks so they aren’t so overwhelming. This is especially true when it comes to cleaning. By creating a routine of cleaning different areas of our home each day I can happily look around a relatively clean home. I am also less stressed about the areas that are less than clean because I know that I will be working on them in the near future. It’s written down, so I know I won’t forget. And it’s written down so that I can cross if off when it’s accomplished. The work isn’t as intimidating since it is broken up into smaller, realistic pieces.
A few months ago I introduced you to The Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII when I offered my Advent Lectio Divina Journal. I mentioned how I hoped to look at each of the points in the Decalogue and decided to kick off the new year with another excellent point.
Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.
Friends, I don’t think there could be a better New Years resolution for me. My planner has opened my eyes to how much time I truly have and is slowly helping me to use that time well. Before a daily plan for myself, I floundered. Things got done of course, but hastiness and indecision ruled. Now, most days at least have a plan, an order, a structure. I don’t always get everything done, but I have a clearer vision of what actually needs doing.
A recent addition to my planning is a simple sheet of paper which I laminated so I can use dry erase markers on it. It says “Only for Today” at the top and is inspired by the Decalogue point above. It has space for 3 kinds of tasks: “must do”, “want to do” and “like to do”. I only allowed myself space for 2 “must do-s”. 3 for “want to do” and 5 “like to do.”
It was so hard to limit myself to only 2 “must do-s” but as I was building the worksheet I kept the words of Pope John XXIII in the forefront. In order to guard against hastiness and indecision I had to be methodical and decisive. Those “must do-s” really need to be concrete and achievable. They must happen today. The “want to do-s” are things that I want to happen soon, meaning if they don’t get done in 2-3 days they get bumped up to a “must-do.” The “like to do-s” are the most broad and are usually where I put bigger goals that may need to be chunked into smaller pieces. I also will put a craft goal here as a motivator to get those “must do-s” done. Remember, priorities.
I love this simple exercise. It is training me to prioritize my time and helps me hone in on the essentials of the day. It’s so awesome to see how a small change can yield some pretty incredible fruit.
I hope you each have joy and peace awaiting you in this new year. Happy 2018!
They’re here!! I love the O Antiphons of Advent. These ancient prayers are what make up the text to my favorite Advent hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel. I never get tired of it. The O Antiphons are used as part of Evening Prayer the last 7 days before Christmas Eve. So today is the first day:
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
Each of these 7 days I’m going to be posting on the Daily Graces Facebook page which Antiphon is for their day as well as a short prayer that echoes the idea of that antiphon.
If you haven’t already, check out the page and be sure to “like” it so you get all the Antiphons. I’m purposefully not posting these daily in the blog in an effort to decrease email traffic during these last days of Advent. I don’t know about you but my email has been exploding the last two weeks with sales, promotions and gift guides. While one or two were genuinely helpful, it’s been a chore to go through and delete delete delete.
If you’re trying to spend time away from your computer or phone to help you better prepare your heart for Jesus’ birth, be sure to check out the USCCB page which has all the Antiphons listed. You can copy them down and pray them each day without needing any technology besides pen and paper! Or if you have access to Evening Prayer the Antiphons are listed there as well.
Well I’m not used to posting from my phone and accidentally published this before it was finished! I wanted to wish you all a blessed Gaudete Sunday, a Happy Advent and a very Merry (early) Christmas!
May peace and joy always reign in your hearts and your homes
Well not you specifically of course! But you might be surprised how many times I have said this to our dog, Max, over the years we have had him. Whenever Max gets muddy we try to wipe at least his paws down before letting him back into the house. 1. He is a white dog so the mud really stands out and 2. the kids track in enough, I don’t need extra muddy footprints to wipe up. Nearly every time I have to clean him off he tries to escape around the 3rd leg. This leads me to inevitably complain, “Don’t you know you have 4 legs?! Stand still!”
I was sharing this with Ben a few weeks ago. I said something to the effect of: “You would think that even Max should be able to understand something so integral and basic to his identity. He has 4 legs. Period. Even if he can’t count per say, shouldn’t he at least be able to recognize that not all of his legs got cleaned off yet.”
As I was complaining, a light bulb went off in my head. We are just like Max. Not in that we actually have 4 legs (wouldn’t that be awkward), but that there are realities so basic and fundamental to our existence which we fail to grasp. We are made in the image of God. We have God’s life in us, grace freely given to us at our baptism. We have the opportunity to become living tabernacles, hold Jesus within us and letting His goodness, mercy and love shine through us. But so often we get caught up in the day to day, the sin, the temptation, the hustle, the bustle, the good times and the not so good times. We, or at least I for sure, lose touch with who I really truly am – a daughter of God.
Today is the first day of the new Church year, the First Sunday of Advent. Advent is a unique moment in the year where we are preparing for the coming of the Savior, Jesus Christ. Jesus, the most incredible and abundantly generous gift of our loving God, is truly God and truly man. St. Irenaeus teaches:
“For this is why the Word became man, and the Son of God became the Son of man: so that man, by entering into communion with the Word and thus receiving divine sonship, might become a son of God”
Advent is our opportunity to enter deeply into communion with the Word, with God, so that we might become a son or daughter of God. There are many ways we can enter into communion with God, especially during Advent. We can commit to a daily Mass or weekly Confession. We can carve out time for a Morning Offering or daily Rosary. There are many reflection series, both online and in print, designed specifically for Advent. Advent is an excellent time to explore God’s Word in a more prayerful and intentional way – have you printed out your free Lectio Divina journal yet?
Advent is a time to step back and evaluate who we are in relation to who God is. Who are we, in our most basic and fundamental elements? The Catechism of the Catholic Church professes that we are:
- Made in the image of God (355)
- Capable of relationship with God (357)
- Willed by God into being – both body and soul (362)
This Advent, what are you going to do to help you reconnect with these basic truths about your life? Why are they important? What impact do they have on your life and relationships? And, how will they bring you into deeper communion with God as we await the coming of the Savior?