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

A Rosary a Day Keeps the Frustration at Bay

Happy All Saints Day!

A few months ago I read a blog post written by a mom who was trying to find creative ways to curb her frustration with her daughter. As probably every parent can attest to, some days are harder (much harder) than others and kids go through various joyful, stressful, sweet and down right awful stages. The system she that proved effective for her was, brilliantly enough, hair ties.

I’m sure that others have thought of this before. She would start the day with 5 or so hair ties on one wrist. If she lost her temper or became overly frustrated with her daughter she would move one tie to the other wrist. She would try to earn that tie back through extra efforts at patience, kindness and gentleness. The goal, of course, to start and end the day with all the ties on the proper wrist.

Fast forward to 2 weeks ago, to what I can only a God moment. I have tried to pray the rosary daily on and off for years now (gosh that makes me sound old!) But it’s true! I can remember being in high school and college trying to say a rosary before bed and never making it past the 2nd decade. Or trying to pray them in the car and losing track of how many Hail Mary’s I said. I’ve tried bracelets, the little rings, pocket rosaries, you name it. Then, 2 weeks ago, it hit me. Use the hair ties!

So now, if you see me walking around with multicolored hair ties on my wrists, it’s not because I’m over prepared for any hair emergency. I have 5 thin, colorful hair ties that start every morning on my right wrist. As I say a decade I move one to my left wrist. The goal, obviously, is to have all the hair ties on my left wrist by the end of the day.

I didn’t realize what a game changer this would be. After a few days of this new practice I found myself describing my day in a whole new way to Ben. Here’s what I said, “You know, it’s been a bit of a rough day. But I had enough patience to handle with it, so it really wasn’t a big deal.” What?!? Who is this person who is speaking through me?

Now it isn’t all sunshine and roses of course. But I have noticed a definite change. I am more focused, especially in those moments when I am wondering what to do next. You know, that found time between finishing the dishes and starting the laundry, or the 2 minutes at your desk before a meeting, or waiting in line at the grocery store? Instead of pulling out my phone or aimlessly wandering through my brain, I am saying a decade of the rosary. There is more found time than I thought I had now that I’m on the lookout for it.

In this new practice, I am starting to feel more in sync with St. Paul who exhorts us to

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Jesus Christ. – 1 Thess 5:16-18

So many saints attest to the power of the rosary, here is just a small sampling:

“”The greatest method of praying is to pray the Rosary.” – Saint Francis de Sales

“The holy Rosary is a powerful weapon. Use it with confidence and you’ll be amazed at the results.” -St. Josemaria Escriva

“The Rosary is the most excellent form of prayer and the most efficacious means of attaining eternal life. It is the remedy for all our evils, the root of all our blessings. There is no more excellent way of praying.” Pope Leo XIII

“No one can live continually in sin and continue to say the Rosary: either they will give up sin or they will give up the Rosary” – Bishop Hugh Doyle

“The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.” – Pope Pius X

“Our Lady – he says – is always close to Her children and ready to help when we pray to her, when we ask for her protection… let us remember she is always ready to serve and never keeps anyone waiting.” – Pope Francis

 

Today we celebrate all the saints in heaven, including Mary who is Queen of them all. What a most excellent day to pray a rosary!

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com

Are You Noseblind?

I think by now we’ve all seen the Fabreze commercials about not being noseblind. It’s a unique term and the various scenarios in which persons find themselves “noseblind” are quite funny.  I hadn’t thought much about this until I met a new friend here in Texas who uses the flameless candle wax melts. Whenever I go to her home it always smells so good! It got me wondering what my home smells like to others when they walk in. What am I noseblind too?

Afraid of what I would find, I too have joined the flameless candle bandwagon, though the generic kinds so Ben can pre-approve sents 😉 Though I can’t say for sure what our home smelled like before – probably a combination of Italian spices, windex, diapers, dog and muddy shoes (who wants to come visit now?) – but I couldn’t smell it. I was noseblind. Now, however, I’m learning to pay closer attention to the whole issue.

With the wax melts, I have learned, is that you don’t want to keep them on all day. You really only need an hour or two in the morning and again in the evening. Also, after about a week or so, you will not notice the scent as much. This isn’t because the wax is losing its scent, it’s because you are going noseblind to it. Time to change up your scents!

How much of life goes the same way. Your workout routine is boring, your diet is unappetizing, your housework is stale, your prayer life is arid. It’s time to change up your scents, your routines. There is beauty in habit and structure, but sometimes we go noseblind, life-blind. This happens even in our prayer lives. Dare I say, especially in our prayer lives.

In the last 6 months, how many of the following have you done or tried to do?:

  • Sat in a different seat at Mass or attended Mass at a different time than your usual routine
  • Told someone you are Catholic/engaged in healthy dialogue with another individual about your faith (the individual may or may not be Catholic)
  • Learned a new prayer of the Church (like the Angelus, the Memorare, prayers for before or after Communion, etc.)
  • Memorized a piece of Scripture
  • Prayed as a family at a time other than before a meal
  • Said a novena or engaged in some form of intercessory prayer for a long period of time (anything longer than a single instance of prayer)
  • Made an intentional sacrifice for another person or cause
  • Gone to Confession
  • Learned about a new saint
  • Read a book that deepened your spiritual and/or theological knowledge

0-2: You could be noseblind in your faith. Your habits are well ingrained and could use some shaking up. If you feel like your faith is in a stagnant place or that God isn’t close, consider trying out one or more of the ideas above to stir things up and discover new fervor and focus.

3-5: Depending on who you are and what things you’ve tried, you may or may not be noseblind. This one is more subjective based on your personal habit patterns and faith life. Are the things you said “yes” to experiences that stretched your faith, or are they part of your typical lived faith? If you were stretching yourself, then you probably aren’t noseblind. If they are part of your normal, you might still reflect on whether your faith life needs some stirring up.

6-8: Wow, I would be pretty confident in saying you are not noseblind. You are actively engaging in your faith, rather than walking through the motions. There is always more we can do to deepen our relationship with God, but it would seem that you have found a variety of opportunities to see Him and grow in your love for Him.

9-10: Amazing! There is no way you are noseblind. You are engaging your faith at all levels, finding God in Scripture, Mass, community, the Sacraments, intellectual knowledge and spiritual knowledge. You must be consistently seeking new ways to grow in your faith and share it.

I hope you found this exercise interesting. I know it was enlightening for me to come up with these categories and answers and realize just how easy it is to become noseblind in our faith.

What other ideas do you have for keeping faith fresh and at the forefront of our daily thoughts and actions?

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com