As the Deer Longs

Before living in Texas I don’t think I truly understood what it meant to long for rain. I know there are climates much drier than Southwest Texas. However, growing up in the Midwest inclines one to take rain for granted. We may have had dry spells, but nothing like the oppressive and unrelenting heat of a Texas summer. A summer which, for those unfamiliar, can start as early as April and last well into October. The ground is so dry the wind can blow dust into a haze which is capable of blocking the sun. The grass crunches like potato chips underfoot.

Drooping basil in our front yard

Just a few days ago when a tropical storm hit Houston, a stray cloud still carrying water manages to open up over our house. My children were delighted. They threw on their rain boots and hurried to find puddles of any size before they evaporated back into the hot air. As I stood in the brief sun shower, a Psalm refrain came to mind

“As the deer longs for running streams, so my soul longs for you O Lord”

Psalm 42:1

Standing in the rain, after months without it, it felt as if my soul was pierced with understanding. I felt relief, joy, wonder and a desire to raise my hands and face to welcome the water. I laughed at myself, because how many movies have we seen where a character has done just this when a long awaited rain finally comes. But genuinely, this seems to be the most appropriate action. The thing I didn’t realize I was waiting for, longing for, had finally come.

As the deer longs – what am I longing for? For rain, obvious. But what else? What is my soul thirsting for, and what am I using to quench my thirst? As human beings made of mostly water, we can only survive 3-4 days without it. Water is a critical element to our existence and to the existence of all creatures. It’s not surprising then that the Psalmist chooses to use this image of water when describing how our souls yearn for God.

If you are feeling run down, tired, perhaps stressed out, take a few minutes to ponder this verse. Perhaps even repeat the first part a few times as you identify with your own thirsts. As the deer longs for running streams….so my soul longs for you O God. Then, let those thirsts go, recognizing that only God can truly satisfy all your wants and needs. You might also take this refrain to adoration, or perhaps use it to focus the few minutes before the start of Mass. No matter where you are in life, this simple verse can help calm your thoughts and focus the moment on He who matters most.

Even the smallest puddles nourish the soul

Preparing for Lent – FREE JOURNAL

I feel like I’m just repeating myself, since I said the same thing for Advent, but can you believe we are already getting emails for sign ups for Lent reflections and books!? Personally, I am not a big fan of when Lent and Easter are so early. I feel like I just had a moment to breathe after the holidays and now my next gulp is full of Lenten themes, sacrifices and preparation for Christ’s Passion. He was just born for goodness sake!

But, it’s not up to me and so, like the rest of you, we begin looking ahead to what opportunities Lent will bring to our lives.

It feels like God has been knocking on my heart, especially through my kids. We were at storytime at the library last week for the first time in a while. They have songs, stories and crafts for the kids. This week, they sang a new song which we hadn’t heard before but my kids really liked.

Do as I’m doing

Follow, follow me.

Do as I’m doing

Follow, follow me.

It was a follow-the-leader type song, with clapping or jumping or whatever the kids wanted to follow along to. My kids sang it the rest of the day, so naturally I went to bed with it swirling through my head.

This song is my new motto for our present season in life. My kids are so young still and already they are growing up into unique, individual persons with their own gifts, talents, struggles and temperaments. It is not my or Ben’s job to give them their personality, rather to show them how we use our personalities to their fullest and best. We don’t become saints by becoming someone else, but by becoming the best versions of ourselves. So, if I am striving with all my might to become the best version of myself, I am modeling for my kids how to become the best versions of their selves.

How to put this into practice? How often do I miss the mark?

Well, I’ve noticed that John is starting to talk back. A lot. And with attitude, scowls, did I mention attitude, and sulking. He is 6 for goodness sake! And we are still homeschooling and are mindful about what types of media they are exposed to, where is the coming from? Then I start to hum, do as I’m doing, follow, follow me…...

Rosie is trying so hard to use her words to express her feelings, not her fists. Yet in the process she is screaming her words. A lot. And over-reacting. And so much emotional turmoil and desire to control each moment. Why is she acting like this? Then I hear her singing to herself, do as I’m doing, follow, follow, me…

I probably don’t need to go into detail about my sweet, 3 year old going on 13 year old Clare. By now you get the picture. While yes, each of my children are their own unique selves, so much of their behavior is simply a reflection of what they are observing day in and out from Ben and I. None of us are perfect and praise God the behaviors I just described are not the full picture of who my kids are. They are kind, loving, goofy, sweet, prayerful and active. They say “I love you” and “I’m sorry” with intentionally and passion. They are beautiful, remarkable children and we are so blessed to be gifted with them. And like anyone else, they have things they need to work on (ahem, like a certain blogger you may know).

So here’s the plan for Lent. I’ve created another Lectio Divina Journal just like Advent.

lent 2018 coverI’ve updated the design (only 1 option this time. Lent came up quick!). I kept the blank page for those who wish to select their own passages and also included a Lenten Sacrifice/Commitment tracker. Click on the link above the picture to print and share to your heart’s content.

What will I be doing with it? I think I’m going to try to incorporate the journal into our school day. We start each homeschool day with a prayer and intention. I plan to add lectio to that for Lent. In light of “do as I’m doing” I’m not going to read the passage from the journal. Rather, I’m going to get the hard copy Bible out and thumb through it to find the passages. I read the Bible fairly frequently, but it’s on my phone usually or laptop. The kids don’t know I’m doing it when I’m doing it. How can I teach them the importance of reading the Bible if they don’t see me actively reading it? We will be learning lectio and also engaging with the physical text of the Bible.

This will take some sacrifice. It means starting the school day earlier or recognizing that it will go longer. I won’t be able to be frustrated or upset about that if I don’t get up early enough or plan our day appropriately. I will need more patience, more decisiveness, and perseverance if this is going to work in a positive way. It also means I will need to find a way to carve out time in the mornings (ideally) on non-school days to still practice lectio. Again, do as I’m doing….Maybe (hopefully) the growth I strive for in myself will also be reflected in my kids’ behaviors.

If you’re interested in joining me on this Lenten journey, print the journal. Let’s connect on social media. I’m going to try to be posting either via twitter or the Facebook page what my word is from the day’s lectio. I would love to pray with you. Praying the Scriptures is a practical way to prepare for the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

Peace

Kate

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Every Sacred Sunday

I have such an exciting project to share today! I absolutely cannot wait to have this little book arrive on my doorstep in November. Yes, November, I know it’s a ways away, but trust me, the wait will be worth it.

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Every Sacred Sunday. Used with Permission

Kassie Manning and Christie Vaughn are launching a brand new journal designed specifically for Catholics called Every Sacred Sunday. This is a Mass journal. It has all the Sunday readings in it (identical to the lectionary, they have gone out of their way to ensure that the readings in their journal are the exact same translation, with proper permissions), plus space to write and reflect on what spoke to you that Sunday, what is a verse or word that stood out to you, any homily or prayer notes, and even a space for how to take the lessons you learned and put them into practice that week.

This journal looks absolutely stunning. Christie, an artist, has drawn some incredibly beautiful illustrations that kick off each liturgical season. I was able to get a sneak peak at Advent’s and I know I am going to spend a good deal of time just praying with that. It is simple, but very profound. I can’t wait to see the others!

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Every Sacred Sunday. Used with Permission

I used this journal for yesterday’s Feast of the Assumption (because these girls have solid Catholic roots and also included all the Holy Days of Obligation). I loved the lectio divina quality it gave to my Mass experience. I was able to read the readings before Mass, then listened to them during Mass, and could reference back to them after as I journaled. After almost 3 complete read throughs, I definitely felt like a specific verse was standing out to me in a way that was new and different. I appreciate that there was a defined space to write. It kept me concise and to the point while still giving me plenty of room to say what I wanted. What might be the most important piece is on the very bottom of the page where Kassie and Christie have included a “Go Forth” section. How will I take what I heard and learned and use it this week? Now I have accountability and frankly, have a thought out, intentional, specific plan instead of a general “I need to try to be nicer/more helpful/etc.”

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EVery Sacred Sunday. Used with Permission

Kassie and Christie are using Kickstarter to get this project off the ground. In their first 24 hours of launching, they met their goal (this means guaranteed printing)! How incredible is that? In my opinion, it speaks to a need,  a hunger people have. We, I, want to be able to carry Mass with us through the week. We want to take the time to reflect on what we heard and how to implement it in our lives. Every Sacred Sunday is taking these desires, adding paper, beauty and creativity, and transforming them into an incredible resource.

In the time since the launch, Kassie and Christie have added (and met, whoot!) a stretch goal so now each journal will also have a ribbon placeholder. There is still time to pre-order your journal(s). It is available through kickstarter until August 31. The journals will start to ship in November and should be in everyone’s hands for the first Sunday of Advent, December 3, 2017.

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Every Sacred Sunday. Used with Permission

Head over to everysacredsunday.com to learn more or pledge your support for your own journal now. Kassie and Christie also put together this great video that talks about them, their journey and how awesome Every Sacred Sunday is.

This is going to change hearts and lives in ways we can’t even imagine.

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com