For many Catholics Mary is a source of comfort, intercession and motherly affection. This is certainly true for Pope Francis. Throughout his papacy Pope Francis has made specific mention of Mary as “the first pilgrim”… More
Can you believe we are already seeing the sign-up promos and reflection books for Advent!?! The years continue to fly by and I guess this year is no different. I’ll be honest, I’m already starting to get excited about the new planners that are going to be out soon. =) As Advent is fast approaching, I began thinking and praying about whether or not to host a series of Advent reflections as I have the past 2 years. The more I thought about it, the more I realized the web is now inundated with these reflections. There are so many, you could probably spend all day just reading reflections and still not get through them all.
The more I prayed, the more I found myself to feel inspired in a new direction. My prayer was informed by two things.
First, the highly anticipated Every Sacred Sunday Mass Journal. In case you missed it, here is my promo post from a few months ago. I am thrilled it is almost November and I will soon have this journal in my hands.
Second, I have been mulling over the Daily Decalogue of Pope John XXIII. This is a set of 10 short prayers or commitments that Pope John XXIII prayed each day. I intend to delve into each one of these in greater detail, possibly even one post for each one. We’ll see. For now, the fifth is the pertinent goal:
Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.
So, where was I being called? On one hand, I have this awesome new journal resource that really helps me to focus in on the Mass and Scripture. On the other, I have a challenge to 10 minutes of “good reading.” As the kids would say, “Their powers combined created!” A brand new Bible Journal! I’ve never done anything like this before, but it was so much fun! What I have created is a Bible journal that incorporates Lectio Divina, the practice of slowly reading a short passage or verse and meditating on it. Lectio Divina is one of the oldest prayer forms we have — learn more here.
What’s in this journal, you might ask? Let’s find out!
- A reference guide for what Lectio Divina is.
- How to use the journal
- One journal page for each day of Advent, including the regular Mass on Dec. 24 as well as the Christmas Eve Mass, and Christmas Day.
- Each page contains:
- Space for intentions, how your day is going, what are your thoughts before beginning your Lectio
- Space to write your Word
- Ample space for reflecting and praying your response to your Word
- (My favorite) space to action plan for how to take your reflections into the rest of your day and through the season of Advent.
- Each page contains:
- A Scripture verse or passage for each day of Advent, prayerfully chosen from the liturgical readings of the day.
- An additional blank journaling page that you may print as many times as you want. This way you can choose your own passages for Advent or continue the practice after Advent is over.
Even more exciting than all of that is that I give this as my gift to you this Advent Season. This journal is completely and totally free. It is yours to download as many times as you want, to print as many times as you desire. Pick one, pick both. Print 10 and share them with friends or your small group. The sky’s the limit! Maybe you and your spouse are looking for a way to connect in a meaningful way this Advent season. Maybe you are looking for a way to incorporate Scripture into your daily routine or with your kids over the dinner table. There are so many opportunities awaiting you.
Below are a few more images to let you get a feel for the two styles. One style is a bit more curly and doodly while the other is less frilly, more straight lines. The content is exactly the same in both journals.
All you have to do is click on the link beneath the picture of the journal you want below to choose your pdf file. Save it to your computer and print the whole thing, print one page, take your pick.
And in all honesty everyone, I would love feedback on these. The good, the not so good and the what on earth does that mean?. If this is something you love and you found useful, I would love to share that joy. If you liked the idea but it just didn’t work for you this time, tell me why. How can I make this better or different? If, and I’m crossing my fingers here, if this seems to work I am seriously considering making a Lenten Journal as well and who knows, maybe even expand the idea further as we go along.
This is what I felt called to make this year for Advent and I hope and pray that it brings you peace, solace and above all, helps you prepare your heart for the coming of our Savior. Because, dear friends, that is what the whole point is.
You never know when God is going to inspire you. That is one of the things I love about this blog. Each time I write about a moment I encountered God in our daily living it inspires me to seek Him in more places. I hope the same is for you.
A few weeks ago, I found God in my air conditioning grate. Yep, not a typical place but let me tell you, there’s lots of time to think and seek while wiping down each individual dusty, dirty slot (probably was a faster way to do it, but it didn’t occur to me until after I was done. I think God wanted to make sure I heard this lesson loud and clear).
We moved into a new house just a few short months ago and I have been trying to create and maintain a workable cleaning schedule. Thanks to my pen and paper planner, it’s actually working and I am not only up to date on laundry, but I’m doing crazy things like cleaning the air conditioning grates and baseboards! Full disclosure, I was an awful cleaner in our California house, perhaps you may have guessed, and I have made a huge life-change in this area. I truly believe this is God inspired, which is why my journey is still on-going.
I’m finally doing the work. Step 1 complete. Now, God is working on my attitude and expectations. While I was cleaning, a dangerous thought flitted through my mind.
“You know, I’m doing all this work and Ben probably won’t notice.”
Yikes, where did that come from?! Not a good place, trust me.
This little thought is ripe with temptation and very quickly leads to unrealistic expectations placed unfairly on both my husband and myself. I started writing this post the day it happened, but then life happened and I’m just finishing it now. During the time between then and now another blogger posted a very thought-provoking and timely article. She offered a look at what Uncle Screwtape, from C.S. Lewis’ famous work The Screwtape Letters, might advise young Wormtail to do to a tired mother that would lead her astray. Guess what is in the first paragraph?
Attack her marriage. Make her feel that her efforts are not noticed, not praiseworthy and not worth even mentioning.
(Seriously, click the link. Even if you aren’t an exhausted mom, you probably are a tired somebody at least a few days a week).
Time and again we all find ourselves in this situation. We work hard on a project only to find it doesn’t receive the praise we believe it deserves. We struggle to attain a new skill, but no one notices. We fight to lose a few pounds, but no one compliments our new look.
These moments of vulnerability are where Satan quietly slips into our ear. “You didn’t work hard enough, you’re not good enough, no one notices you anyway.” Why do I listen to this insidious, deceitful voice? I did work hard enough. I am good enough. And there is someone who is always with me, who observes with love each thing I do.
It is completely unfair to place my self-worth on my husband’s shoulders, or anyone else’s for that matter. Yes, of course he should and does appreciate my work at home. However, if he doesn’t notice the air conditioning grates, will my efforts become less worthwhile? They shouldn’t. Knowing that I did the best job I could do for my family and our home is sufficient. Realizing that I am fulfilling my vocation as a wife and mother each time I put my best effort into taking care of our home is fulfilling and affirming. Even if my best isn’t perfect, when it is done from a place of love and not expectation, it is a blessing for our family.
There are some kid movies, shows and books that I am grateful for. They have taught us good lessons or given us the opportunity to discuss important topics like sharing, respect, responsibility, bullying, etc. One such movie is Pixar’s Finding Dory.
There are lots of great moments in this movie and I genuinely still laugh at parts after watching it close to a dozen times. For those that don’t know, Finding Dory is the sequel to Finding Nemo. In Finding Dory, Dory, a blue tang fish who suffers from short-term memory loss, begins to recall memories of her parents and goes on a wild adventure to find them. One of the key points of the movie is that if Dory is left alone she will begin to forget where she was going, what she was doing or what she was thinking about.
Toward the climax of the movie Dory must venture through the pipes of an aquarium on her own. The dialogue between Dory and a crab giving her directions is as follows:
Female Crab: Don’t worry, it’s easy to get to quarantine. You can just go through the pipes, honey.
Dory: Oh. Oh I can’t do that.
Female Crab: Why not?
Dory: I’ll forget where I’m going. And I can’t be somewhere where I have nobody to help me.
Bill: Well, then I guess you’re stuck here.
Female Crab: You’re not helping, Bill. Just go in there if you want to. You’ll be fine.
Dory: Oh boy. Could you tell me how to get there? Through the pipes?
Female Crab: Sure, honey. It’s two lefts and then a right. Simple.
What I want to highlight is the way the female crab speaks to Dory. Twice she mentions how “easy” and “simple” it is to get to quarantine through the pipes. And for her, I’m sure it would be. But not for Dory.
Dory even explains to the crab that she “can’t be somewhere where I have nobody to help me.” Yet still the crab insists that Dory can do it on her own.
This scene has opened my eyes to three different situations in my life where I need to be less like the crab.
First, in homeschooling. With now four kids, it is very tempting to set John or Rosie up with a math or handwriting page, say something to the effect of “it’s easy, I know you can do it. I’m going to go change Clare/Eliza, feed Clare/Eliza, move the laundry that’s been sitting since yesterday/pour some more coffee/etc. and I’ll be back to check on you.” Tempting yes. Effective and fruitful teaching method – definitely not. What they are learning might be simple to me now but at one time they were hard. Right now, even if the content is something they know, the ability to stay focused and work diligently is something they are only just beginning to learn. They need someone to walk with with, even if it does take all morning. There are times of course when they do have to go it alone. The needs of the little ones must be met. But does the laundry need to be moved during math problems? No.
Second, this scene has made me much more aware of judgmental thoughts directed at others. Again, what might be easy for me may not be for others. It is not fair to impose what I have been blessed with on others. No one appreciates it when we are thrown into a situation we aren’t confident in and are expected to perform at a level we are unable to. We do this in the workplace, in our neighborhood and in our homes. It’s not fair nor is is considerate of the diversity inherent to our species.
Third, I believe that personally and all of us collectively need to work on becoming better listeners. Look at how Dory explains why she will have difficulty following the crab’s directions. An obvious answer to Dory’s concerns would have been to offer to go with her. But neither crab offers. Instead the female crab insists that Dory will be fine even though we all know she won’t. Neither crab listened well.
Consider the daily interactions we have with people. We are almost programed to have the following exchanges with others:
“Hi, how are you?” “Good, how are you?”
or “Thanks, have a nice day.” “Thanks, you too!”
The other day I was going through the gate to get onto base. At every base, you must show identification to ensure you are able to enter. The typical exchange I have is:
“Hello Ma’am” [pass my ID] “Hello.” [pass my ID back] “Thanks, have a good day.” “Thanks, you too.”
Except this time, instead of wishing me a good day, the guard said something to the effect of “Thanks, you can head on through.” Instead of just saying “Thank you” I, who did not listen well and assumed what I would be told, awkwardly said “Thanks, you too.”
We need to listen, not assume.
I have had some great conversations with John and Rosie about this scene.
Thanks Finding Dory!