“40 Ways” to Liven Up Lent

Featured imageThere may be 50 ways to leave your lover but Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio has 40 ways to inspire you to prepare for the Resurrection of the greatest Lover of them all. In 40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look At Lent, Dr. D’Ambrosio gives the reader 40 ways to celebrate Lent that are creative, unique and fresh.  Don’t look for a page that’s about giving up chocolate for Lent because you won’t find one.  Instead you’ll find lots of suggestions to enrich your prayer life as well as ways to reach out to others in need.

For example:

  • Day 4-Cut back on purchases of luxuries and give the saved money to the needy.
  • Day 10-Learn the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  Identify one to begin incorporating into your life this Lent.
  • Day 23-Reach out to the least important, least popular, most ignored person at school, home, or work.
  • Day 35-Learn the Prayer of Abandonment of Blessed Charles de Foucald.   Surrender your possessions, your future, and your life to God as you slowly pray it daily.

But this book isn’t just a list of 40 suggestions.  Each day and the idea that goes with it is paired with a meditation or deeper discussion of the day’s idea and it’s meaning and implications.

40 Days doesn’t end with Lent though.  It continues on to guide our thoughts during Holy Week and to help us celebrate the whole season of Easter-not just Easter Sunday.  Add to that the wonderful resources in the back of the book and you’ve got a slim volume that is jam-packed with knowledge, information, inspiration, and guidance all in Dr. D’Ambrosio’s signature accessible writing style.

In a nutshell, if you’re one of those people who struggle to come up with new ideas for your Lenten devotion, look no further.  40 Days, 40 Ways: A New Look At Lent will inspire you to dig a little deeper into your spiritual life.  I guarantee you won’t regret the purchase.

May Your Journey Be Blessed,

S.S.

Snow Day!!!!

The kids are off from school today for a “snow day” and I couldn’t be happier.  We don’t get very many snow days in North Texas so they’re always a big deal.  (However, this year has been atypical.  We’re somewhere around our fifth snow day so far.)

To me, snow days are like being given the gift of time.  The to-do list is usually put on hold on days like this so you can use the day to catch up without getting more dumped on you.  Or, you can use the day to avoid the to-do list altogether and spend a day of “forced family fun” as a friend likes to call it.  Either way, it’s a gift.

I think I’ll try a little of both–some productivity and some fun.  That way I get the best of both worlds.  This “bonus day” also gives me some more time to make a Lenten plan with my family before Ash Wednesday is here.

So now my biggest decision is whether or not to stay in my pajamas all day.  What to do?  What to do?

Enjoy your day!
Laura

Holy Week Hash

A little of this, a little of that.  Write it up and you get Holy Week Hash! 

  • The last time I posted, my family and I were eagerly awaiting the election of our new pope.  Since then, we’ve not only learned the name of our new pope, we’ve also begun to learn a bit about the man and what his papacy might look like over time.  Personally, I’m really getting excited about Pope Francis.  The more I learn about him and the more I see of his papacy, the more I admire his integrity, humility, compassion, and mercy.  On top of all that, I like what I see of his leadership style-simple, straightforward, kind, and consistent.  Over the last few weeks there has been more than once when I’ve thought, “Yes!  That’s what we need!”  So, Pope Francis, I give you my blessing and ask you to continue to bless our Church with your faithful leadership.
  • Well, things have been rough at my house since I last posted.  My husband left the country on business and, of course, all hell broke loose while he was gone.  Not only did the house rebel in his absence (light bulbs in very high places going out, mysterious smells in the house, appliances not working correctly), but two of our three children had traumatic or dramatic weeks (ex: a week-long migraine that wouldn’t go away with Tylenol with codeine!).  I can’t say that all is calm now that my hubby is back but, the migraines are under control and I’m calmer (he has that effect on me 🙂 )so we’ll call it progress.
  • Due to my rough patch last week, I fell off my Lenten wagon, so to speak.  My plan this Lent was to keep it simple and doable –go to Eucharistic Adoration once a week and say one Rosary each week.  Things had been going well but…Why is it that the times I need to pray the most are the times when it gets pushed to the side?  At least I’m consistent, I do the same with eating well and exercising.  When I’m under stress and really need to eat right and exercise is when I’m sitting on the couch and eating fast food.  Spoiler Alert:  I’m not perfect.  (I know!  It’s news to me too!  😉 )
  • Despite all the drama and trauma in our lives lately, there have been some bright spots and fun moments.  I’ve been entertaining myself with a new frugal and green project that will be part of an upcoming post.  So stayed tuned for some household science projects that will save you money and, perhaps, the earth!
  • This weekend will be filled with cooking, egg coloring, prayer, and time with family.  If I can squeeze a nap in there too, it might just be the perfect weekend!

May the spirit of the Resurrection fill you with hope and faith in the love of God!
Easter Blessings,
Laura

Lent 2013 What to do, What to do?

I have to confess, sometimes I just don’t have much to write about.  I know all writers go through dry spells and I’m no different.  But there are times when I need to write something but don’t have any brilliant insights to share.  So, today, I’m not going to be brilliant.  (I know, how is that different from any other day?  Ha, ha.  Moving on…)  I’m just going to write and see what happens.

The Lenten season is upon us and, honestly, I’ve been fairly uninspired.  I really want to do something interesting or different but also something that is attainable.  I’m not giving up sweets this year because, frankly, I’m bored with it.  But I’ve found that I do need to make my Lenten observance something concrete and easy to account for.  It needs to be specific and it needs to be something that I can make a part of my daily routine.  Giving something up has always been easier for me than adding something in.  I can remember that I gave up desserts as I’m reaching for them but adding something to my schedule often gets forgotten in day to day life.  Perhaps I’m too much a creature of habit.  Perhaps I’m too forgetful and unfocused.  Either way this is all I have to work with.  So be it.

I guess I need to find a way to carve out time for whatever I add in to my Lenten practices.  After looking at my schedule, I’ve decided that I will be going to Eucharistic Adoration once a week as well as saying at least one Rosary per week.  I plan on using my Wednesday evening mom taxi duties to drive this.  (Pun intended!  Sorry.)

So starting today, I will spend time in Adoration after dropping my 4th grader off at Religious Education.  Then, I will say a Rosary while I walk the track at his basketball practice.  Basketball season is ending soon so I’ll have to adjust my Rosary schedule.  But, for the next few weeks this should work.  And to give myself another nudge, I’m entering my adoration time and rosary time in my Outlook calendar with a reminder.  Between my schedule, my family and my calendar maybe I’ll start a good habit of prayer.

If you’re interested in a more ambitious Lenten observance than mine check out my friend Mrs. Mackerelsnapper and her Lent 2013 Challenge.  It’s too much for me this year but I admire her zeal and her creativity in a finding a new way to relate to the poor.

Blessings,
Laura

Ministry Monday-Helping the Poor

I realize it’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted.  Hopefully, you noticed and have been waiting eagerly for my next post to come.  Actually, I’d just be happy if you noticed at all!

This week I want to highlight two ministries that focus on helping the poor throughout the world. 

First, Catholic Relief Services (CRS). 

What can I say about this amazing group of people?  Not only do they help they poor, they give them the tools to help themselves.  CRS has done amazing things to help the poor throughout the world.  You’re probably familiar with CRS’ Lenten Ministry-Operation Rice Bowl.  This Lenten tradition helps to give a new meaning to our fasting by connecting us to those who have so little.  By learning about the plight of the poor in other countries and collecting money to help them, we become a closely knit global community. 

But Operation Rice Bowl isn’t CRS’ only effort.  CRS has been a major player in the fair trade movement.  Their program and catalog enable the poor to change their circumstances through education and opportunity.  You may be wondering why fair trade is an issue of faith.  I’ll let CRS tell you themselves-Click here to find out why.  You can help support this project by purchasing items from their Fair Trade catalog.  Remember, Christmas is just around the corner…

One outstanding example of a successful CRS program is their AIDS Relief program.  Over the past ten years, CRS has been able to make significant changes that have enabled those in third world countries who are infected with HIV to live their lives again instead of just waiting to die.

Like I said, these are amazing people!

Next, Christian Foundation for Children and Aging (CFCA).

My first encounter with CFCA was at my parish on a Sunday several years ago.  A priest from CFCA came and spoke about their work throughout the world.  He described the dire circumstances that he sees on a daily basis through his missionary work.  After his sermon, my children were hooked.  They wanted to sponsor someone through CFCA.  At first my husband and I thought this was a whim that would pass with time but the three of them persisted and even pooled their money to pay for the first month’s sponsorship.  As you can see by the name, you can sponsor both children or the elderly; one of the few charitable organizations to include the elderly. 

Before we even said yes, the kids were on the CFCA website trying to choose their sponsor child.  They finally settled on a girl named Daylin who has two younger brothers (just like at our house).  For the past few years we’ve received pictures of Daylin as she’s grown and letters from her mother telling us of her progress at school.  Through sponsorships, scholarships and programs to help the people gain the skills to lift themselves out of poverty, CFCA is living the Gospel each and every day.  I encourage you to consider sponsoring a child, youth or elderly participant.  The amount you give is so small compared to what they receive in services.  You’ll be glad you did.

Blessings,
Laura