Today’s post, on this second Sunday of Lent, is written by a guest contributor Melanie Boutiette. Melanie is my sister, mother figure, and friend. I am pleased to introduce you to her and an article from her blog Just Beloved, Words of Encouragement for you!
I love to garden. I love digging my hands in the rich soil, planting beautiful flowers, and transforming a once barren area into a beautiful bed or landscape. The whole yard is filled with a variety of flowers and plants. I especially love the front of the house. I have an English garden there that once was just an ugly plot of ground after disease destroyed all the bushes and plants. To look at my yard right now in the dead of winter, you cannot tell that I love to garden.
Return to me with your whole heart for I am gracious and merciful
During this third Sunday of Lent as I continue wandering in the desert of my soul, I am very grateful for God’s endless mercy and graciousness. As the Master Gardener pulls the sinful weeds that crowd out the flowers of beauty, my Creator is pruning my heart for beauty to burst forth! Ouch!
In this first week of Lent, I am realizing how my heart is being purified to be undivided. It has been a challenging week where we truly entered the frigid desert here in Texas with a historic storm that crippled our infrastructure. This arctic storm took away our power and electricity, water, internet, and spotty phone service. To whom did I turn?
Today’s post is written by a guest contributor Jacquelyne Rocan. Jacquelyne has been a spiritual sister to me throughout the years and I am pleased to introduce you to her!
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and I find myself recalling this time last year. While there were certainly reports of the new coronavirus circulating in more and more communities, I celebrated Ash Wednesday in 2020 in many of the same ways that I have always marked that day — attending Mass, receiving ashes on my forehead, fasting, and setting in place plans for experiencing a holy and spiritual Lenten season. This included plans for additional prayers, readings, and attending Stations of the Cross. I marked times for all of the Holy Week services on my calendar — the Easter Triduum of Holy Thursday Mass, Good Friday service, and Easter Vigil Mass. It was important to me to fully participate and prepare by attending these services, as much as I could (especially through many years of serving on the RCIA team in my parish). My Lenten and Easter seasons have felt incomplete when I have been unable to prepare and attend the Easter Triduum services.
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!
In last week’s blog, I talked about growing in good works through prayer, fasting and service and how they unite us to Christ. These are the three tools we have in our spiritual toolbox to resist sin and follow the path of true love. I find Lent is a perfect time to examine my choices and search the desert within me to evaluate my motivations. I can learn, with God’s grace, where I am flirting with darkness and then make a conscious decision to snuggle up with my Creator instead of turning to the fleeting relief the world provides. Prayer helps me see my life as God sees it and assures me I am loved.
I hope this post finds you settling into your word of the year as well as having a plan mapped out to get to know your Saint buddy. My prayer time this week included a plea for guidance on how to best get to know mine, St. Joseph. The next day, I was listening to the Godsplaining podcast and low and behold, they were discussing the Year of St. Joseph. This conversation gave me a good starting point for my plan. I love how God works! Do you have a plan to nourish your mind this year? Another practice I wanted to share that supports my growth is identifying twelve books that will challenge my thinking. Getting through this stack feels good when I complete in December.