Guide to Goodness

Finding Perfect Precious Love

Joy isn’t what happens when life goes perfectly. It’s what happens when you know you’re loved perfectly, even when life’s a mess.

Chris Stefanick, Living Joy

The journey of Smitten With Goodness began with a simple question.  What does it mean to love?

Continue reading “Finding Perfect Precious Love”
Guide to Goodness

Do You Have a Desire to Want Better?

The start of a new year has always provided me with hope, a chance for new beginnings, a fresh start, and a time to recalibrate.  It is a time when I want to remember to accept what comes my way with joy and peace as well as practice supportive habits.  Attending to my spirit provides a crucial foundation for the way I want to live. The new year touchpoint puts a symbolic distance between us and the year we have had.  This past year which has taken our ordered lives and brought chaos, heartbreak, and uncertainty.  We have all experienced some level of disruption including loss of freedom, of health, of loved ones and our ideas of how things ought to be.  I think you will join me in saying it was a year of disorder.  But with disorder comes reorder.  God is always calling us forward to recalibrate and refocus our vision.  I find it more than a little ironic that 20/20 is perfect vision. 

What does perfect vision look like in a spiritual sense?  It is remaining awake and diligent, proclaiming the light, spreading words of hope, and feeding the fires of joy in our heart.  Here are some practical steps to measure our spiritual foundation and goodness this year:

Be attentive.  Awareness is a superpower in my book. By remaining awake and diligent, I can discern the signs of God’s intention and purpose for me. By spending time in prayer, contemplation and reading His word, I seek and learn my purpose and know His will for me.  I feed myself with the soul food that nourishes and satisfies. God always meets us where we are and provides what we need.

Act.  Once I have discerned my purpose and what I am being called to do, I need to act.  This takes courage.  Sometimes we know what God wants us to do but we do not act, either out of fear, laziness, or bad habits.  Action is my word for this year.  Did you know that the bible defines Goodness as action?  It is not something we do only for the sake of being virtuous.  In Greek, the word goodness, “agathosune” means an uprightness of heart and life.   I am being called to move my 2020 contemplation into greater action, especially for Smitten with Goodness. This action is proclaiming the light and spreading words of hope.

Expect Opposition.  On my spiritual journey, I need to expect opposition.  This can be external and internal.  Because we live in a compromised world, I must accept the reality that I lean toward sin and selfishness.  What does this look like for you?  For me, opposition is leaving my comfort zone and surrendering control.  My co-dependent tendencies of “helping” others can quickly become me “doing” things for them.  I call on the Serenity Prayer and remember wise words like “Don’t do anything for someone that they can do for themselves.” When I really have my control-freak on, I can pray this Surrender Novena which creates a shift in my heart and gives control to the one who is really in the driver seat.  Here is a cool screen saver I downloaded to help me remember “Jesus you are the Lord of my year, you are the Lord of my life.”   

Bring My Best to Christ.  Of course, I can choose to stay in my comfort zone.  When I do, I deprive those I love, and the world, of my best self.  Stress and anxiety raise thier nasty heads because I am not living my purpose.  Several questions that help me focus are:  Am I serving with my whole mind, heart, talents, and abilities and loving with all my strength?  Each one of us has gifts and talents no matter our stage in life, what are the gifts and talents I give away?  Using these talents to fulfill my purpose brings peace to my world and stokes the fires of joy in my heart.  We can be like the magi, the wise ones who seek Him. 

Go a different route.  If I want to change my life, for the better, I usually need to do something different.  When I open my heart to Christ, I can expect change and to walk a different path.  A path of love which is different from our current culture.  In the catholic church, the month of January is traditionally dedicated to the Holy Name of Jesus. and today is the feast day of The Holy Name of Jesus, where Jesus receives his name “God Saves.” This devotion was popularized by St. Bernardine of Siena and is often symbolized by the monogram “IHS,” (sometimes called a Christogram), which is the first three letters of the Greek spelling of His name.  Will you let His goodness save your weary, scared, or hungry soul? When I look up to His goodness, it ensures my intention and frees me from my natural impulses.  I acknowledge my dependence on the Spirit within who is eagerly waiting for me to surrender and renew me. 

Because of the Lord’s great love, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new each morning; great is your faithfulness.”

Focus on His truth, Lamentations 3:22-23

God always wants to bring us somewhere better – the question is will I be drawn to evolve.  I think we all desire to want better for ourselves and the world around us. If we get out of our own way, we can develop, grow, and change for the good.  Let’s use the action of goodness as our measure for a successful year ahead.

Have a great week and be Smitten with Goodness,

Cynthia

Guide to Goodness

Awakening My Soul To Goodness

The beautiful nativity gifted to us for Christmas by my sister and brother in law!

Do you need more time like I do to bask in the spirit and joy of Christmas? To invite Christ to be your center and North star?  After the year we have had, I really want this gift of goodness to continue, especially to influence the new year.  Goodness is about tapping into Christ born in us.  It is created by God’s grace and my response to it.  When I respond with tears of gratitude for His love and mercy, that is goodness.  He is always inviting us forward and I can accept that invitation or not.  When I focus on the things that feed my soul, I can see the pathway to holiness a little clearer each year and be Smitten with Goodness.

Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Focus on His truth, Matthew 5:16

Our Christmas journey continues until February 2, we can reclaim daily the Christmas miracle to feed our hearts with joy.   Now that the hustle and bustle of the holiday baking and gift giving has come to an end, the rhythm of my normal routine beckons me.  This includes prioritizing my daily spiritual readings, scheduling more prayer time – the soul food that satisfies much better than the sugar and wine I overindulged in for the past few weeks!  Here are my current goals for the new year:

First, I plan to keep my nativity up through the Feast of the Presentation since it points us toward Jesus’ birth.  The Presentation is celebrated February 2, 40 days after the birth of Jesus.  The Presentation of Jesus is also called Candlemas, since the mini epiphany expresses the Jesus is the Light of the World.  I am praying that I might be able to attend mass in person and take my candles that I will use in my home on the Sabbath or feast days and have them blessed.   

Second, having found that structured prayer time has catapulted my spiritual growth this year, I commit to the following:

  • Continue praying my daily rosary with Many Hail Mary’s at a Time.  There are immeasurable spiritual benefits in praying the rosary.  The Blessed Mother was my 2020 Saint Buddy – she has become a spiritual mother, friend, and all-time role model for me! She prepares our hearts to accept grace!
  • Dedicate time to my Centering Prayer practice.  This is a receptive method of Christian silent prayer in which we experience God’s presence within us, closer than breathing, thinking and consciousness itself.
  • Participate in the By Their Fruits Prayer Pledge.  Every January the Blessed is She community comes together to dedicate the first 31 days of the year to prayer to begin, or reenforce the daily habit of prayer for the rest of the year and hopefully our lives.  This year the theme dives into the fruits of the Mysteries of the Rosary. 

Third, I am excited about Richard Rohr’s daily meditation theme of A Time of Unveiling.  This series is an opportunity to awaken to deeper transformation, love, and hope.  Accepting reality offers us an invitation to depth and to discover what is lasting and what matters. 

Fourth, I love the practice of having a saint buddy each year.  My Saint Buddy for the new year will be St. Joseph.  St. Joseph has been speaking to me throughout this past year but when Pope Francis proclaimed 2021 as the “Year of St. Joseph” that sealed my decision!

Finally, I will continue the path of simplicity.  My tolerance for chaos and clutter has lessened over the years.  Simplifying my life helps me focus on the things important and establishing priorities like my relationships, with my creator, myself, my husband, family, and friends – doing what matters most first is the key to living a busy life with inner calm.  If you are up for taking a Simplicity Challenge, Emily Ley has a great one when you feel you need a little bit of simplicity in your life.  Physical clutter = mental clutter so both are addressed through the challenge and most tasks can be completed in 20 minutes or less. 

Hopefully, my goals might provide some inspiration for you.  Let me know when you finalize yours and how you plan to be Smitten with Goodness.

Cynthia

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Are You Living Your Why?

Picture a pre-COVID time when we might be having a cup of coffee, or more likely a glass of wine together and catching up on life.  What would you say if I asked you what is your why?  Why do you think you were put on this earth during this moment in time? 

Close your eyes and take a deep breath. 

What is your answer? 

Be honest, would you say it is to be the person that God wants you to be? 

Truth be told, until a few years ago, that was not my answer!  Of course, I valued being a good, moral faithful and responsible person.  I was focused on raising children, tending to my family, building a career, cultivating friendships…all good things in themselves but the singular why, the fulcrum on which everything rested was hidden.  I am happy to report that I found my why which is to bring God’s love into the world, and I believe that is your why too!

By exploration, learning and grace, I came to understand deep in my bones that my life is not about me.  It is a gift from my Creator.  I am His Beloved; wonderfully made to bring the unique gifts He has assigned to me to the world.  His goodness calls me to be holy and to follow His will which is love. Bishop Barron provides a simple and powerful message describing how we are called to be saints here.

In the catholic tradition, the month of November is when we honor the saints known and unknown.  How cool is that!  I never knew much about the saints but became fascinated with them after a pilgrimage to Italy in 2017.  St. Francis’ message of simplicity and love of nature along with Padre Pio’s philosophy of “Pray, don’t worry” had a profound impact on me during our trip.  These saints continue to provide me with strength and inspiration for my life today.

A goal of Smitten with Goodness is to provide resources for curious hearts to explore and help guide our journey in goodness.  I am sometimes overwhelmed by the resources available and hope to simply and highlight relevant ones for you.  Blessed Is She has developed a guide which helps us think about how to go about Making Friends With The Saints.  They also suggest another practice to pick a Saint Buddy each year and do a deep dive into their life, writings, and teachings.  My Saint Buddy this year is Mary.  There is something about Mary for sure and she has been a life changer for me but more about that later.  Take a listen to this to learn more on how you might choose your buddy for the coming year. 

Rediscover the Saints, Twenty-Five Questions That Will Change Your Life by Matthew Kelly is a quick read that helped me see how God is constantly trying to open our eyes to the amazing possibilities he has for our lives and how the saints encourage us to collaborate with Him to reach our God-given potential. 

Blessed are the peacemakers

Focus on His truth: Matthew 5:9

God’s dream is for all of us to be saints.  Are you up for the challenge? 

P.S.  If you say YES! the Beatitudes Matthew 5:1-12 give us the guidebook on how to shape our hearts and live our lives to be Saints and live a happy life.

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Introducing Our Why

Are you ready for a new perspective and to cultivate goodness in our world?

Smitten With Goodness

Do you ever feel numb and flat, feel like the weight of the world is on your shoulders? Stretched so thin you have little time to think and when you do, you think I am never enough?  Does your mind long for rest from worry?  Have you come to the realization there is a situation you cannot fix or control?  Do you find yourself taking everything personally with your emotions spinning out of control at the drop of a hat?  If so, Smitten with Goodness is for you. 

Spoiler alert – we were not meant to live this way!  Perhaps I am the only one who has found myself in these states of life, but I think not.  The solution to all this is simple yet hard. Smitten with Goodness is a resource for those of us who are seeking a different way, a different perspective.

After many years walking down the path of what I deemed success, I was tired, anxious and had lost my sense of peace.  Sure, I was a good person.  A loving mother who provided well for my two children.  A successful fundraiser who raised philanthropic dollars to support important causes.  Ultimately a wife again after I remarried to a man who is the love of my life.  I was blessed with three adult bonus children and now two grandsons.  I was walking the path of recovery from the effects of growing up in dysfunction.  I had a curiosity for personal growth.  I was a devoted catholic who attended church every Sunday.  I believed in God and always had a strong faith. 

What was missing? 

Out came the vision board.  A common theme was “coming home”, “being the best version of myself,” and “getting back to me.”  I began to realize that so much of my life has been measured by the success of what I was doing.  Is this my legacy?  It felt flat and lacked meaning.  It was then that I began rebuilding my internal framework to measure success on how well I love.

How do I define love?

I must look to my Creator as my teacher and my guide.  The realization that God loves me not because I am good, but because He is good blew me away.   The shell around my heart began to break as I begin the walking through understanding what true love is and what it means.  I am learning to surrender and trust that His plan is much bigger than my limited one.  Friend, His grace is here, and His mercy is just waiting for us to invite Him in.  Get ready.  As you surrender your heart to the one who created you, my prayer and hope is for you to be Smitten with Goodness!

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever.

Focus on His truth, Psalm 118:1

By understanding who I am created to be, understanding who created me and aligning my life in right order, I can have a renewed sense of hope and restored peace of heart and mind.  We are not promised a life on this earth of everything we want but we are promised that we will have everything we need.  We will not have a life free from pain and suffering but we are assured we are loved and have purpose.   Even through our anxiety and worry.  Through our dysfunctional, failed relationships and recovery.  Through illnesses of mind and body.  

Are you ready to surrender to unconditional love and the peace of heart it provides?  Are you ready for your soul to be alive and have hope for your future? 

Welcome to a community that supports and guides the growth of our souls by being Smitten with Goodness in ourselves, our community, and our world.