Guide to Goodness, Uncategorized

Are You A Giver Or A Taker?

I recently listened to organizational psychologist Adam Grant’s podcast about Givers and Takers where he breaks down three personalities and offers simple strategies to promote a culture of generosity in the workplace.  It was validating to know that the givers win out in affecting positive culture and increased results. Go figure!

Being a giver is good for others and good for us.  As we wrap up another Valentine’s Day, a day which has its roots in Catholicism and the profound concept of love, I want to focus on the third leg of the Lenten stool of good works: almsgiving or service to others. 

Because we are created to love and be loved, we yearn to love and be loved. This innate yearning is fulfilled and strengthened by the practices and traditions of our faith of loving one another which is service at its core.  

When we are in service of others, we willingly enter the loop of grace, giving away the gifts we have received.  A gift must be given for the original gift to be multiplied and enhanced. This is God’s grace. 

Most of us feel the weight of the symptoms of lack of love in our world today.  When we lift the veil, the problem is really lack of self-possession.  Self-possession is doing what is good, true, noble, and right.  Our ability to love is directly linked to the level of self-possession we have.  

How can I love my neighbor if all I am concerned about is myself and my needs before the needs of others?  

To give of ourselves, we must first possess ourselves.  Broken relationships, divorce, and dysfunction, which surround us, fuel our lack of self-possession.  But there is a blueprint for us to rebuild self-possession in the spiritual disciplines that make up the landscape of Catholic spirituality.  These disciplines are designed so we can love God and neighbor and be loved the way we were created to be loved.  The perfect Valentines gift to our world!

The foundational call of Christians to charity is a frequent theme of the Gospels.  During Lent, we are asked to focus more intently on almsgiving, which means donating money or goods to the poor and performing other acts of charity.  Our interior penance can be expressed in many and various ways, but scripture insists on three forms, fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, which express conversion in relation to oneself, to God, and to others.   

This conversion of heart is accomplished in daily life by gestures of reconciliation, concern for the poor, the exercise and defense of justice, by the admission of faults, fraternal correction, revision of life, examination of conscience, spiritual direction, acceptance of suffering, and endurance of persecution for the sake of righteousness.  All these expressions allow us to take up our own cross each day and follow Jesus. Voluntary self-denial such as fasting and especially almsgiving allow us to be reverent, and experience brotherly love to both the living and the dead.  

One thing I have been learning about recently is that the Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead.  I am understanding the importance of commemoration and helping those who have died by offer prayers for them.  

God blesses those who come to the aid of the poor and rebukes those who turn away from them.  The Church’s love for the poor is a part of her constant tradition.  Love for the poor is even one of the motives for the duty of working to be able to give to those in need.  It extends not only to material poverty but also to the many forms of cultural and religious poverty.  When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.  Our world is in such need of true justice!

For I was hungry, and you gave me food, I was thirsty, and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me. 

Focus on His truth, Matthew 25:35

The works of mercy are charitable actions where we come to the aid of our neighbor in spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently.  The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead.  

I will never forget my conversion of heart after I gave blessing bags every day of lent to a different person in need on the street.  Many times, I was blessed to see the face of Jesus as I looked into that person’s eyes.  For a COVID safe idea, check out the CRS Rice Bowl where you can help feed the world. 

How will you experience a conversion of heart and serve others this Lent?

As St. Francis of Assisi says, “Let us give alms because they cleanse our souls from the stains of sin. Men lose all the material things they leave behind them in this world, but they carry with them the reward of their charity and the alms they give. For these they will receive from the Lord the reward and recompense they deserve.”

Out of personal devotion, we may promise almsgiving as a sign of respect to the divine majesty, love for a faithful God and to be Smitten with Goodness.  Giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses as to how we love our neighbor, and it is also a work of justice pleasing to God bringing His love into the world. 

In His Service,

Cynthia

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Shining a Light on Goodness: Prayer Bowls

http://www.prayerbowls.com

Now this is a good summary of new year’s resolutions!

Shining a light on goodness puts the spot light on what others are doing which can help us on our journey to see God’s goodness. A friend recently introduced me to Prayer Bowls and blessed me with a beautiful Serenity Angel for Christmas.

Do you ever find yourself saying “I’ll pray for you” but then it falls off your to do list? You can capture those prayers and intentions by creating a prayer bowl. The founder, shares goodness through her inspirational story of how God worked through her support our prayer lives. God is near to us when we pray. When we commit to pray, we see big changes.

The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call him in truth.

Focus on His truth, Psalm 145:18
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My Peace I Give To Others

I believe what we hold in our heart is a microcosm of what we bring into the world.  During this fourth Sunday of Advent, we prayerfully light the Angel’s Candle or the Candle of Love in the Catholic tradition.  This symbolizes the Christmas message of the angels “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.” You can find the full message here. 

As I light the candle, I acknowledge my less-than-perfect preparation of heart during this season of waiting for the coming of Christ.  As much as I try on my own, I fall short.  I am reminded that if I were perfect, I would not need a Savior. It is only when I fully appreciate how flawed I am that the miracle of Christmas becomes personal. It is in Christ that my hope resides, which is what I embrace as I light the candles today. Only He can infuse healing light into our broken hearts, broken bodies, and a broken world, bringing peace and joy regardless of our circumstances. I remember to go back to my Advent mantra, prepare me God, you are my center.

Peace comes when we trust God and say, I do not have a clue what I am going to do about this, but I am going to pray about it because you are in control and you know what you are doing. Jesus tells us to put on his yoke and learn from him when we feel burdened.  This does not mean that we sit down and abdicate all responsibility we still need to move forward and do our part. The critical thing is to determine what we are responsible for and what part is out of our hands. We must trust God with that we cannot control.

Corrie Ten Boom writes that worry is caring tomorrow’s load with today’s strength – carrying two days at once. It is moving into tomorrow ahead of time. Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow. It empties today of its strength and robs us of our peace.  This keeps me from bringing my best self into this world.

Stress, the opposite of peace, is a contributing factor to many physical problems, including diabetes, stomach problems, mental illness, and even tumor development, writes Salleh Mohd Razali in his scientific article on life events, stress, and illness. But the good news is that the amount of stress you have is not what predicts how it will affect you in the long run — it is how you react to the stress in your life that determines how well your body can handle it, say psychologists like Alexandra Crosswell and Dr. Elissa Epel.  There are some practical tips on how to develop a healthy mindset during a very unusual holiday season here, such as changing how you think about stress, assessing your daily habits, getting better support and not letting work consume you.

During this Advent, I have been meditating on Mary’s willingness to say yes. She certainly did not have all the facts, but she said yes in an act of faith.  We can rely on Mary’s example and pray for her grace daily and invite the Spirit to come and mold our hearts, minds, and words – becoming our personal fiat.

Let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.

Focus on His truth, 1 John 3:18

Rejoice, the Prince of Peace is coming bringing a peace that surpasses all our human understanding. Being a peacemaker is a hard job for all of us.  We may not always be successful, but we must remain faithful to this work. It is through this peace of heart that we can bring goodwill to our homes, friends, and communities. 

I hope you will join me in seeking peace on earth, bringing good will toward all, and being Smitten with Goodness.

Cynthia

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I’m Choosing Joy!

Photo from http://www.strengthenmyheart.com

Happy Third Sunday of Advent. Today is Gaudete Sunday which means rejoice! Besides lighting the rose-colored candle on the Advent wreath, we celebrate that our hopeful anticipation for the coming of Christ at Christmas is almost over. This beautiful liturgical color signifies joy. 

Color is a powerful tool, evoking certain emotions.  For me, rose is a happy and pretty color and prompts me to feel calm – joyous, especially during this busy time of year when I put undue pressure on myself.  It has been an especially tough year with my husband’s fragile health condition on top of living through my first pandemic.  Choosing simplicity and connection facilitates my joy which includes taking care of my body, mind, and soul.  When I get stressed out it is hard for me to acknowledge my limitations and surrender to my savior.   It helps to get back to the basics like offering my mind, my mouth, and heart to God as I wake up in the morning asking the Spirit to use me and drive my agenda to accomplish His will. 

Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Focus on His truth, 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

I think a lot of us are struggling to find joy in our hearts right now.  Dreaming and joy are intrinsically linked It weighs on us to dream since we do not know when all the heaviness of this year will end.  It was interesting to read this woman’s perspective on how hope can be tangled up in expectant joy, and yet somehow manage to prod at sorrow and those parts of ourselves where we dare not dream for fear of disappointment. 

Do you need encouragement to live joy right now? If so, check out this free mini retreat to ignite hope in your heart.  I’ve been inspired when I can fit the video’s into my day.

Fr. Jacques Philippe, from his teachings on Interior Freedom, says “The most important and most fruitful acts of our freedom are not those by which we transform the outside world as those by which we change our inner attitude in light of the faith that God can bring good out of everything without exception. He is a never-failing source of unlimited riches. Our lives no longer have in them anything negative, ordinary, or indifferent. Positive things become a reason for gratitude and joy, negative things an opportunity for abandonment, faith, and offering everything becomes a grace.”  It took me a long while, but I think I am understanding what he is talking about. 

God comes every day to visit His people, to visit every man and woman who receives Him in the Word, in the Sacraments, in their brothers and sisters Pope Francis says.  Jesus, the Bible tells us, is at the door and knocks… Do you know how to listen to the Lord who knocks, who has come today to visit you, who knocks at your heart restlessly, with an idea, with inspiration?… Be careful, look at what you feel in your heart when the Lord knocks.”

What is tugging at your heart as we wait in anticipation for Christmas? 

The need for rejoicing is stirring in mine. I choose joy and to be Smitten with Goodness,

Cynthia

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How Much Simple Love is in Your Heart?

Image by Joy! Digital

A few years ago, I realized that I had a divided heart.  I was being drawn closer to spiritual love and less satisfied with the worldly things that took up much of my time and attention.  During this time of discerning and yearning, I contemplated what love means and its transforming power and goodness.  Love is a superpower each of us holds within us. It is the true essence of who we are and how we are called to treat each other yet we have strayed away from love.   It is an action we are called to perform.  Love, for even our enemies, is the key to the solution of the problems of our world.  This radical philosophy, so much of what Martin Luther King, Jr.’s advocated for in his platform of nonviolence and love of our enemies, resonates for me as I contemplate love.

Behold, there are only three things that will last: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.

Focus on His truth, 1 Corinthians 13:13

Love is our deepest identity.  As Richard Rohr synthesizes from his book Essential Teachings on Love:

When we live out of the truth of love, instead of the lie and human emotion of fear, we will at last begin to live. To talk about love is to talk about what Plato calls “holy madness.” Jung even refused to include love in any of his classic categories—it finally defied his psychological descriptions. Perhaps that is why love has so many false meanings in our minds and emotions. Perhaps that is why Jesus never defined love, but instead made it a command. We must love, each of us absolutely must enter this unnamable mystery if we are to know God and know our own self!

Love alone is sufficient unto itself. It is its own end, its own merit, its own satisfaction. It seeks no cause beyond itself and needs no fruit outside of itself. Its fruit is its use. Love is our deepest identity and what we are created in and for. To love someone “in God” is to love them for their own sake and not for what they do for us. Only a transformed consciousness sees another person as another self, as one who is also loved by Christ, and not as an object separate from ourselves on which we generously bestow favors. If we have not yet loved or if love wears us out, is it partly because other people are tasks or commitments or threats, instead of as extensions of our own suffering and loneliness? Are they not in truth extensions of the suffering and loneliness of God?

When we live out of this truth of love, instead of the lie and human emotion of fear, we will at last begin to live. Love is always letting go of a fear. In the world of modern psychologizing, we have become very proficient at justifying our fears and avoiding simple love. The world will always teach us fear. Jesus will always command us to love. And when we seek the spiritual good of another, we at last forget our fears and ourselves.

Divine love or charity has nothing to do with feelings of “liking” one another. One key biblical word for love, agape, is not based on the myth of romantic love or good feelings about one another. It is a love grounded in God that allows us to honestly desire and seek the other’s spiritual growth. This faith, this love, this Holy Mystery—of which we are only a small part—can only be awakened and absorbed by the silent gaze of prayer. Those who contemplate who they are in God’s ecstatic love will be transformed as they look and listen and find and share. This God, like a Seductress, does not allow Herself to be known apart from love. We know God by loving God. And I think that it is more important to know that we love God than to know that God loves us, although the two movements are finally the same.

During this second Sunday of Advent, we contemplate love, and we wait for the most beautiful love story in history to unfold.  How cool is it that our divine Creator devised a rescue plan to become human so we can be fully alive and free?  He loved us, the world, His creation so much that He gave His only son.  Such goodness and the true meaning of Christmas.

In a recent homily Pope Francis gives us the secret of life, remember this because it is true: the beauty of our choices depends on love. Jesus knows that if we are self-absorbed and indifferent, we remain paralyzed, but if we give ourselves to others, we become free. The Lord of life wants us to be full of life, and He tells us the secret of life: we come to possess it only by giving it away. This is a rule of life: we come to possess life, now and in eternity, only by giving it away.”

Stay Smitten With Goodness,

Cynthia

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The Truth is, I Need a Savior

Photo from Worship House Media

It is officially the Advent season, December 1 and the countdown to Christmas begins.  Like lent, Advent is a penitential season in addition to a time for hope, joy, peace and love. We prepare to enter into our need for a savior.  But first, I must feel that I need a savior.

I must confess that I struggle with this at times. Much of my life I bought into the culture’s prevailing view that I am self-made, that I invent and define my reality. Over time, the richness of Twelve Step recovery has softened my view and had a profound impact on my spiritual journey. Step one in the program is hitting bottom, recognizing we are powerless over something or someone and acknowledging that our life has become unmanageable.  Only then, can I be open to the possibility of believing that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity.  It opens the door to the need for a savior.  Sometimes, I try and force my solutions on other people.  This is when I need to take a step back, go to step one, realize my powerlessness and ask my savior for help.  Life works better this way.   I believe we all need a savior but when my ego says, “I’m fine,” I am not ready for Christmas and the coming of a savior.  

O Come O Come Emanuel is the story about God’s coming as the ransom to free the captive Israel.  For centuries, the prophets had foretold the coming of a messiah, the God of Israel who would come to earth, take flesh upon Him, and become their Savior and Redeemer. Listen and prepare your heart.

During Advent, we hear a lot from Isaiah who wrote about the coming of God and role sin and disobedience plays in severing this foundational relationship. By asking myself a few questions, I can assess where I am:

Do I find myself wandering off the path I know I should be walking?  The path that allows me to be the best version of myself and the person God wants me to be?  Do I have the feeling I have drifted from my North Star or there is a problem in my life I do not know how to solve?  This is when I need a savior.  Oh Lord I pray, why do you let me wander from your ways?

Have I lost my sense of wonder and awe of God’s goodness?  Has my heart become hard and brittle, not hearing His voice? I want a soft and supple heart ready to be molded into who He wants me to be.  Oh Lord I pray, why do you let me harden my heart to fear you not?  I need your grace.

Am I resistant to who God wants me to be and feel alienated from His truth? I end up in a bad state when I am not sensitive to the fact that things are not right between us.  Oh Lord I pray, let me feel your passion to set things right. 

I have called you by name. You are mine.

Focus on His truth, Isaiah 43:1

Can you identify with any of these questions?  If so, do you feel withered and lifeless? Advent is a time of waiting and preparing our heart for the hope of Christ.

O Come, O Come Emanuel.

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Is Your Heart Full of Hope?

Our world was made from love and goodness as we are assured in the origin story of Genesis. Throughout time, God ensures us that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome the light. 

As humans, we have always and continue to make poor choices especially when it comes to our soul.  We become complacent in the day to day activities and worries of life, taking our eye off the fact that our earthly home is only temporary.  We fail to keep our eye on the long game.  By doing this we lose hope.

Because God created us in His image out of love, he developed a rescue plan for us to come back to goodness and to the light.  A plan for divinity to enter humanity, draw us back to Him and lead us to true joy, peace and happiness.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him

Focus on His truth, Romans 15:13

Today is the first Sunday of Advent, the period of preparation before Christmas and the coming of Christ.  When I hear this story of Christ’s birth year after year, I am called to anticipation and the reminder that hope, love, joy and peace are at my fingertips.  I am reminded that Christ came to save me.  He came to save you. This love proclaims Maranatha, Our Lord has come, Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.  My heart opens to my inherent goodness and turns me away from darkness.   As Bishop Barron suggests, we need Advent, not just as a liturgical season but as an attitude in our soul oriented toward spiritual growth. 

In her book The Liturgical Year, Joan Chittister wrote, Advent relieves us of our commitment to the frenetic in a fast-past world.  It slows us down. It makes us think.  Advent asks the questions, what is it for which you are spending your life? What is the star you are following now? And where is that star in its present radiance in your life leading you?

During this busy season, I invite you to dedicate some time in your schedule for stillness and silence and ponder these questions.  I am giving myself permission to not get caught up in having the superficial, Pinterest worthy Christmas and ground myself in anticipation and expectation. I plan to support faith based businesses by using this resource

The first Sunday of Advent carries the message of hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and He will keep his promises. Will you join me and commit to being watchful in hope? Expectant in waiting as we journey toward Christmas. 

Our faith story transforms us the more we hear it. Each time we hear about God entering our humanity and suffering, the message resonates in a new and deeper way.  It is easy to forget God’s promises, what he has fulfilled in the past, when a new trial emerges in our present. 

To hope is to trust that we are part of a larger narrative bigger than ourselves and to look forward to the new life Christ offers.  The challenge and opportunity of Advent lies in cultivating stillness and silence, time for resting in Christ.  This preparation time allows me to ponder the hope of the angel’s message as Mary did.  I can discern how is God seeking to come into my life?  How is he already present?

Faith, charity, and good works lead us to hope, happiness and prepares us for eternal life. . Pope Francis cautions us that if we are guided by what is most attractive to us and our own interests, our life becomes sterile. We must respond to God’s grace by doing good every day. 

How are you going to make time for prayer this advent season?  God is waiting to show you his goodness and wants to reflect His goodness to the world in your face.  He is patient and generous and waiting for you and for me.    

Hope revives our spirit. This spiritual renewal and living in the light are directly tied to the grace of me surrendering to my creator.  Oh, how I live in gratitude that Christ was born to save me from myself, allowing my soul to shine His light.  If you want some daily inspiration for your soul, you can sign up here for Matthew Kelly’s Advent messages.

Advent calls us to be alert, be watchful.  The vision of Smitten With Goodness is to challenge and inspire us to be alert and awake to God’s goodness daily while living in the tension and preparing for eternal life.  Silence and prayer facilitate this for me. 

How do you stay awake, keep an eternal perspective and battle complacency to live in hope, love, joy and peace?  How will you reclaim this goodness for yourself this Christmas season?

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Is Goodness In Your Thanksgiving Plans?

Its been a rough year for sure with the pandemic and other social challenges we face.  As we begin our week, I invite you to focus on the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  Sure, it is nice to have a day where we overindulge in turkey, fixings, and pie until we are in a food coma but let us pause and focus on the true meaning of Thanksgiving. 

Thanksgiving is the public acknowledgement or celebration of divine goodness.  It is the act of giving thanks, a prayer expressing gratitude.  It is easy to look beyond our circle of influence and be overwhelmed by the critical and inconsiderate world we see in the media and social media.  With grace, we can open our eyes and hearts to the divine goodness in front of us when we slow down and be present in our life. 

It is relatively easy to forget about all the good things God has done for us and to neglect giving thanks for our blessings.  Reading Psalm 103 can help foster a spirit of thanksgiving by keep our eyes focused on the good God has done for us. 

He fills our days with good things.

Focus on His truth, Psalm 103:5

Eucharist, from the Greek word eucharista, means thanksgiving.  The Catholic Church teaches that “the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’” Participation in Holy communion during mass, consumed with a humble heart, allows the Spirit to increase in me, decreasing my strong will and self-reliance.  This allows me to fill my heart with His goodness and surrender to Christ as King of my life. 

As a convert I struggled with the concept of transubstantiation – the idea that during Mass, the bread and wine used for Communion become the body and blood of Jesus Christ. For many years, I used the “fake it until you make it” strategy until I identified what was holding me back. Once I started praying for an increase in faith and trust overtime I now believe. 

Apparently, I wasn’t alone because a new Pew Research Center survey finds that most self-described Catholics don’t believe this core teaching. In fact, nearly seven-in-ten Catholics (69%) say they personally believe that during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine used in Communion “are symbols of the body and blood of Jesus Christ.” Just one-third of U.S. Catholics (31%) say they believe that “during Catholic Mass, the bread and wine actually become the body and blood of Jesus.”

Seeing the Miracle of Lanciano during a trip to Italy, supported my leap of faith.  It was there that a monk who had doubts about the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist found, when he said the words of consecration at Mass, that the bread and wine changed into flesh and blood. This is a recognized miracle with science behind it as well. 

Sometimes we must jump with both feet into faith and trust.  Other times we need to slow down and appreciate what is in front of us. Expressing gratitude helps us cultivate a thankful heart.  If you need some inspiration, here are some practical tips to cultivate gratitude in your life.

Gratitude turns what we have into enough – Melody Beattie

As I write this from M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, where my husband and I have shared a hospital room for 3 weeks, I am grateful he is cancer free after a successful bone marrow transplant in February.  He has spent most of this year as an inpatient dealing with complications, I am grateful that during this admission I can be with him.  I am grateful for our family and many friends who help lighten our load and hold us up in prayer.  I’m grateful for my faith that strengthens me.  I’d love to hear what you are grateful for in your life right now.

Happy Thanksgiving and for being Smitten With Goodness!

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How Happy Are You?

Entertaining the wrong questions in our mind can be destructive.  It may seem harmless when we start playing the what if game.  What if I had a different job? What if I had more money? What if I did not have this situation in my life?  Would life be better? 

First, this kind of thinking steals our joy and robs us of the inner peace we have around the blessings in our life.  Second, asking what if plants seeds of doubt in our mind about God’s goodness.  It is easy to start running down the rabbit trail of questioning, does He really want what is best for me?  Does He understand?  Evil is subtle and wants us to rebel against God and doubt His unconditional love for us.  It is usually a gradual process and over time, if left unchecked, can lead us far away from the truth and how we were meant to live.  It takes us into the future versus seeing what is in front of us today where we can bring love and compassion to those in front of us. The love and compassion we can bring to the person in front of us, each moment, is being the hands and feet of Jesus in this world.

When we entertain the wrong questions in our mind, we shift our gaze off God’s goodness.  This is a symptom of our human condition and free will. 

But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

Focus on His truth, 2 Corinthians 11:3

Two years ago during one of my husband’s six-month check-ups from his bladder cancer in 2008, his blood tests indicated he had developed myelodysplasia, a type of cancer in which the bone marrow does not make enough healthy blood cells and there are abnormal cells in the blood.  It was easy for me to go into all the what if’s and worst-case scenarios rather than deal with the facts at hand.  It was during the Christmas season, such a joyful time of year in our family.  Evil was tugging at me trying to drag me into fear.  Instead of falling into that trap, I pulled out the tool of music to shift my perspective. As I listened to Look Up Child  by Lauren Daigle, I would remember to lift my heart and eyes to focus on His Goodness and stand solid in the fact that he’s got this and is in control.

Another handy tool I used was the Serenity prayer which anchors me in surrender and acceptance:  God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.  You can learn more about the Serenity Prayer, its history and the timeless solution it provides here.

Goodness embodies love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Fruits of the Spirit, which are given to each of us, are for the asking.  God is thirsting for us to talk to Him about our needs, wants, desires, and invite Him into our hearts.  I often need to claim this gift of self-control around my thoughts and the what ifs.  When I do so, I am a much more pleasant wife, mother, and friend. 

Today I chose to be happy. 

I think Abraham Lincoln has it right when he said “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

Wishing you a happy  week.

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Are You Bold Enough To Be Who You Were Meant To Be?

I have always loved The Wizard of Oz.  Once I got past the scary monkeys, the message about the power within and our desire to be home rang loud and clear.  This message still resonates with me today and keeps my perspective on what is important.  Our world is a constant encounter with information based on scarcity and fear, it takes real effort and a lot of grace to keep focused on abundance and the possibilities.  Additionally, it takes a lot of faith to truly believe God is in the middle of all this.

As a recovering worrier, it is easy for me at times to go into “stinking thinking “mode.  Therefore, I can say with authority that so much of life is about the self-discipline and training of our mind.  I have found the practice of writing down things for which I am grateful is a powerful tool to keep me focused on the blessings and gifts I have in my life.  In her book Ten Thousand Gifts, Ann Voskamp does a nice job sharing her journey of acceptance and peace through the gift of gratitude.  Do not underestimate this simple and powerful exercise, the shift is palpable.

In the last post, I oriented us to our why and living how God wants us to live, in love.  The saints can serve as role models and as a source of inspiration in our journey to goodness.

Simplicity works for me.  As my yoga instructor teaches, small daily actions lead to big dividends.  It is the repetitive nature and small incremental changes that yield big results.   This philosophy applies to my spirit as well as my body and mind.  Several years ago, I was feeling off balance, less centered and living with too much noise in my head.  During lent, rather than giving up wine or chocolate, I was called to add more listening to my life.  Listen was a simple take away after spending time at the Abbey of Monte Cassino, the first house of the Benedictine Order established by Benedict of Nursia.  There is power in his words, “Listen and attend with the ear of your heart”.  Each morning as I fastened my St. Benedict medal necklace or put on my bracelet, I would offer the intention of my heart to “listen.”  After forty days of this exercise, I felt my heart open and shift toward God’s divine love.

Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think.

Focus on His truth, Romans 12:2

Not only can I look to the known saints for wisdom, I believe they surround me in my life today.  From my father who pointed me to the goodness and truth of the catholic faith.  To my son, who prompted me to dive into the bible to begin nourishing myself with the truth.  And my daughter who challenged me to “pray and not worry.”  Goodness and the divine Spirit is working through them. 

Whether its practicing gratitude or setting intentions, the thoughts we tell ourselves become our destiny.  We cannot necessarily control the thoughts that come into our mind, but we can control how much time we spend on particular thoughts. 

I leave you with these words from The 12 Step Prayer Book to wind down our Monday:

Your Destiny

Watch your thoughts, they become your words.

Watch your words, they become your actions.

Watch your actions, they become your character.

Watch your character, it becomes your destiny.