5 Tips To Prepare For Christmas this Advent

Wow, this year Advent started much earlier. Advent started on 1 December which happened to be the first Sunday AFTER the Thanksgiving Day holiday. Honestly, since it was so soon after Thanksgiving, it really caught me off guard. As we are still in the first week of the Advent season, I’m reminded of the importance of being prepared and ready. Always.

And I’m not ready or prepared. Yet. Our (artificial) tree is up, though not decorated yet. The lights are up outside (my husband was ever grateful for a 47-degree day last week) Our home is slowly getting cleaned. (It usually takes me 2.5 full days to deep clean my home). I made some Black Friday and Cyber purchases online. But am I truly ready, am I truly preparing?

As I sat in Mass this past Sunday, I felt at ease and at peace. Knowing that the decorating of the home presents purchased and wrapped ultimately didn’t matter in comparison to being truly prepared and ready as we wait for the King of glory to return.

5 Tips to prepare for christmas this advent

Reflecting on Advent(ure)

I reflected on how the word Adventure stems from the word Advent. I began to prepare my heart for an “Adventure” in this season of Advent. I reflected on how Jesus isn’t a boring person, and how my relationship with Him brings me joy and a feeling of adventure and wonderment.

But yet, by Sunday afternoon, as I cleaned and started the process of getting our home ready, I started to feel “caught off guard” again and struggled with the idea that I wasn’t spiritually ready if Jesus was to come over for a visit. Can you tell me that I have some insecurities about being a tad ADD and disorganized? I asked my husband, my Dad and Stepmom to join me in praying a Rosary. Putting Christ at the center of this Advent season and Christmas is the only way I can feel that peace and joy. Does Jesus even care if my linen closet is clutter-free?

5 Tips To Prepare for Christmas This Advent

  1. Pray. Meditate on the Mysteries of the Rosary. A prayer is a spiritual form of working out. It’s a form of communication and petition. When you are able to focus on the miracle of the incarnation of Jesus Christ and how God was able to use a young faithful engaged couple for Him to become human, you might be filled with awe at how marvelous this gift was. Make time daily during this season of Advent to pray. Especially during moments of overwhelming anxiety.
  2. Keep A Journal. Keeping a journal will allow you to write down all of your reflections, cares, worries, and thoughts. Writing down 3 things you are grateful for each morning will help you reflect on all the gifts you get throughout each day and can help you be on the lookout for blessings God is giving you during this season.
  3. Seek (And Schedule) Out A Daily Quiet Break To Welcome Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I enjoy time alone. Every day. Whether it’s the time in your car, shower, or out for a walk or run. I turn off my phone, radio, close my laptop and I use that time to welcome Jesus more into my life. Perhaps in the quiet you will hear or be impressed with something He is asking of you. I’ve done this and this is part of the reason I am restarting this blog. If you can’t escape from everyone who is asking you for your time. Use a calendar and BLOCK out that time now. Just as you would if you had a meeting with a client or doctor appointment. This is time alone with yourself to center your mind on Christ. Besides, just 15 minutes each day without ANY distractions can help improve your life in so many ways.
  4. Learn That You Can’t Do All The Things. Accept FOMO. This year I’m not even taking out my baking gear. Yes, I know! SAD. But I usually bake around 10-15 dozen cookies during this season of Advent. This year. I’ve decided that given the timeline I simply will need to cut one thing out. Baking. My husband and grandson don’t know it yet as of the writing of this post. But I will be delivering the sad news to them that they will be lucky to get 1 dozen home-baked cookies. And that is totally okay. Advent is going to be minimal this year.
  5. Read a Scripture Outloud Each Morning. I’d like to invite you to join me in Advent: The Journey To Christmas via the YouVersion Bible.app. Each morning of Advent, over the next 25 days read just one verse or two from the Gospel of St. Luke and from the Old Testament Book of Isaiah.
5 Tips to prepare for Christmas this advent

December 25th will come whether we are ready or not. Jesus will also come back again someday, whether we are ready or not. Will I get caught off guard yet again? Or will I know that I need to prepare my heart to be joyful and peaceful no matter what is happening in the physical realm? A messy, cookieless house and all.

As we enter this Advent Season, what are some ways you are preparing your heart to be peaceful and joyful despite all the ACTION and BUSYNESS that seem to take over?

Miracle Of Easter

Wow! He’s Risen! I can’t stop proclaiming this truth in my heart! I continue to sing the hymn we sang at the Easter Vigil Mass all day! Christ Has Risen from grave…death has no sting!

The angel told the women be not afraid, Christ has gone to Galilee.  As I ponder on today’s holy Gospel I am reminded that we aren’t to be fearful. God has done what He promised. He rose His son in the third day.  I try to picture myself there in Jerusalem 2000 years ago and I’m almost certain that if I had gone to the tomb to care for the body of my beloved friend I too would have had fear, worry and panic as well if I didn’t find him.  It’s only natural for anyone in that moment of fear and shock to forget a promise that was made.

I need to remember that the person making that promise was not just any person. He was the same person who turned water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. He was the same person who fed 5000 people with 12 loaves and a few fish.  That promise to Rise from the grave and come back to life was a miracle.

Fast forward to present time and there have been miracles throughout my own life that I’ve witnessed. The miracles I encounter each day. And the huge miracles that draw us from a state of fear and panic to a state of pure joy and thanksgiving, like when my brother overcame and beat leukemia or when my marriage was almost over and by the grace of God we overcame and fought for the love we had.

Maybe you’re still looking for that miracle or perhaps it comes in a way that isn’t what you expected. Just remember that Jesus Christ is with you through it.
This Easter I hope you found miracles. I hope you have already had miracles that you could look back upon where you might have started out fearful but soon enough the promise was remembered. I hope you find miracles in each day.

Lent: A Holy Desert for 40 Days

So it’s been a high stress and rough start to my year the last 2 months have brought on some anxiety, some despairing, some more weight gain, and migraines. Most of this for me has been caused by a number of things. Excessive news reading, poor sleeping habits, poor prayer life, and very unhealthy eating and drinking. Since the beginning of the year  my spiritual life has been weakened somewhat. I’ve been feeling physically weak as well. (After 5 weeks of running consistently, I injured myself while attempting to ski and have not run since then as my calf muscle is still strained.)

So being that Lent this year begins this Wednesday March 1st I thought it would be fitting to start over and wipe the dirt off and hone in on taking care of my body and soul. During this Lent I will abstain from not only meat on Fridays but also alcohol, sugar in all forms, soy, legumes, flours, peanuts, and yes, dairy too for the entire 40 days.

Have you ever tried the Whole30 before? Perhaps if you are feeling out of sorts, like me, it’s time to do something about it.

This would be my second time completing a Whole30, my first time was during Lent in 2014 and I rocked it. I lost 10 pounds and felt like an athlete. But this time I want to feel better than an athlete. I want to know that I’ve done all I could to prepare my soul and heart for Jesus Christ. This time along with the Whole30 style of eating, I’m also going to include a daily Lenten devotional, meditation and prayer 🙏 . Also each day I will go outside of my comfort zone and do something good for someone each day. I won’t write about it but I will do it. God is the only one that will see what I’ll do.

*Contrary to what some people think, Lent is NOT about starting a diet. At all. It’s about repenting from our sins, starting OVER and preparing our hearts by reflecting on the LOVE God has for us through prayer, penance, and sacrifice. We reflect constantly on how He could love us so much and bring each of us out of the desert that we sometimes end up in due to the whole sin problem.

Maybe you’re like me and you’re tired of rushing through your prayers and you no longer sit still for a moment then it’s time to unplug rediscover Christ again.

Maybe if, like me, lately you are ending your day with more sadness than happiness in your spirit, it’s time to be a little more selfless and do more for those who are broken and hurting. Because it’s in act of giving that we can fully receive happiness.

Maybe if, like I do, you feel discouraged about the state of this world, it’s time to love your neighbor more. We can be more loving in a world where peace is not found easily but it can start by simply not screaming at someone who cut you off in traffic.

Maybe if, like me, you feel physically sick, exhausted or struggling to feel healthy it’s time to clean “your temple”. Taking care of your body because it’s the home of the Holy Spirit. Proper rest, screen time, exercise and nutrition can at the very least help us feel more balanced and healthy.

I would absolutely love to share this experience with other ladies who currently find themselves in the spiritual desert. Send me a message here if you would like to join me on this journey for what I am calling a Holy40

A Very Happy Easter to you, Mother Angelica

It’s amazing how someone you have never met can impact your life. I learned about the passing of Mother Angelica yesterday evening. As I read the news on Catholic News Agency, I had a mix of tears and joy! Knowing that she leaves this earth completely different than when she entered, after all she’s done to build the Eternal Word Television Network, a global media empire that began with just $200, a garage and a tenacious and quick-witted wise nun.

My Mom had been telling me to tune in to Mother Angelica’s nightly show since the early 2000s. For whatever the reason I rarely ever did. It was probably my ideals at the time and that they were not exactly in line with some of the Church’s teachings.

But around this time last year, I began tuning in to EWTN channel at 9:30 PM ET every night just to pray with Mother Angelica and the Poor Clare nuns.  Every night we prayed for 30 minutes.  It brought me so much comfort, peace and hope during a very rough time in parenting my college aged children.

Praying the rosary with Mother Angelica brought me back to my childhood when I would pray the rosary with my Grandmother. And at the same time a strange thing was happening. My faith increased, my worries and doubts lessened. I had been living a tough nightmare that a parent would not ever want to go through. And I was able to have peace throughout it all.

It was through my praying with Mother Angelica, who Time magazine called the superstar of religious broadcasting, that I started watching and listening this network, EWTN, consistently and every chance I could really. The programming on EWTN was plenty to satiate my appetite for learning, questioning and understanding more about the Catholic Church and the Bible.

I started watching Mother Angelica’s program. Her wisdom, intellect, wit, and humor drew me in more. For the second time in my life I saw a nun smiling, laughing and being quirky. The first had been my 2nd grade teacher, Sister Lenore. I learned to not be so wimpy in my faith.  It was while watching her program and praying with her I felt very close to her and it was as if a good friend was instructing me and giving me advice.

I mentioned to my husband that I hoped we would get to meet her someday if we had the chance to go on pilgrimage to Our Lady of the Angels Monastery & Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament as well as the EWTN studios in Irondale, Alabama.  However, I found out that she had been ill since her stroke in 2001 and seeing her in person may not happen.

One of the reasons this nun from Canton, Ohio, is such an inspiration to me and so many American Catholics is her perseverance and feistiness. She had a mission, God’s mission. And she got it done. She wasn’t afraid to fail mainly because she had God on her side. Because of Providence.

“I’m not afraid to fail…I’m scared to death of dying and having the Lord say to me, ‘Angelica, this is what you might have done had you trusted more.'”

Yes. Point taken. This is how I want to approach each day. With this very thought Mother Angelica had. Can you imagine if more of us had that same thought every morning? To trust God more. Mother Angelica is a model of someone who trusted God daily.

motherangelicaquote

“Faith is what gets you started. Hope is what keeps you going. Love is what brings you to the end” – Mother Angelica

And because of her trust, God definitely was able to work through this amazing feisty Sicilian woman who has a heart for the Lord. Her work ethic and tolerance for people of all walks of faith is something to be grasped daily. As we celebrate Easter and now the life of this woman, I pray that there be more Mother Angelica’s in the making. My prayer is for young women and girls, including myself to have that same fearless, God trusting, tenacity in accomplishing God’s will for this world.

Although we never met in person, I feel that somehow you kept me and my family in your prayers. I prayed for you as well.  Thank you Mother Angelica for your prayers, your ministry and love that you poured out to your audience around the world.

This Easter was truly a special and blessed Easter I was blessed to celebrate Mass with my husband, son, daughter and the latest addition to our family, Joel, our soon to be 4 month old grandson. I want to say that it’s because of my renewed faith and prayer life that began through something I watched nightly that everything is as it should be, but Mother Angelica would only point it to two things. Faith in the Blessed Sacrament and to Our Blessed Mother.  Those two alone have more power over all the darkness in this world.

What is some of the wisdom you’ve learned from Mother Angelica over the years? Have you ever watched her program? How has EWTN impacted your life?

How’s that resolution going so far?

I confess. One of the most compelling reasons I usually don’t make a New Year’s resolution is because I know myself. I lack NYD (New Year Discipline).  I really don’t envy those that do. Afterall, a whopping 64% of the people who resolved to change something are still on track 1 month after! Good for them, right? It’s very inspiring.

However, I decided a long time ago that the time right before Ash Wednesday eve AKA Mardi Gras would be my time to take inventory and work on a resolution. That’s when I specifically find the time to pray and reflect, to make a goal and then resolve to be somehow different than I had been…a step towards better.

quickmeme.com-1

I find that there is something about the resurgence of spring. Or because at least here, in the mid-Atlantic we are closer to the end of cold and dark evenings. And the sun lingers a little bit more each day, that makes it time for me to take inventory again. Not only of my current dress size, but of my heart as well.

snowdrops

Come on Spring…you got this

The time before Ash Wednesday, I usually start to hear a little bit clearer to what God is asking me, and I get a deeper sense of His work, His mission. His humanity and divinity all in one. I get a sense of His resolve and His obedience to the Plan.  And this really urges me to want to do the same.

Ashes

Ashes used for Ash Wednesday Mass. I really hope Fr. does a nice neat cross on my forehead.

Ash Wednesday, 10 February 2016 marks the beginning of the Church’s Holy season called Lent. For many Christians it is a time of abstinence, fasting, prayer and charitable actions. When I came back to the Church a few years ago, I found this to be a time of self-denial, giving more of myself outward, turning my cheek and purging an attitude that has hindered my relationship with God.

Throughout Lent I usually try to eliminate what has distracted me from my relationship with God. One year I turned off my Facebook account, another year I completely gave up watching television and listening to the radio. I use that time to focus more on others and less on myself.

Throughout this Lent I hope to take a deeper look at what needs to be different in my heart and what needs to be different in my soul. I will call on God for help in figuring out what I need to change and then doing it. I will make my resolution now and carry it with me beyond Easter Sunday. I’m not alone in this either. I know that Jesus Christ already walked, fell, got back up not just once, or twice, but three times as He carried the cross on this journey to Calvary. I know He will walk with me during this season and I look forward to the difference this Holy season will make in my heart and soul.

Are you planning to give something up or give more of yourself?