Time for a New Challenge

Now that the 6-item Challenge is behind me, it’s time for
something new.

Sure.

I learned a lot. Sure.

I enjoyed the experiment.

But unless the weather changes significantly,
you won’t catch me counting clothes again anytime soon.

So as I contemplate a new challenge, I’ve been thinking
about what made the last one a success.

First, the concrete and visual nature of the clothing challenge was easy
to keep track of.

Once I selected the
clothes, it was just a matter of mixing, matching and keeping them clean.

Next, I really enjoyed the 30-day time frame
of the challenge.

It was just the right
length of time; enough to make a real impact without being overwhelming.

So, what to do, what to do?

Last October, Pope Benedict XVI (now Pope Emeritus) declared
the beginning of The Year of Faith.

This
was a year that was to be focused on drawing closer to the Lord by deepening
our understanding of our faith.

This
prompted a blog project of my own that never made it to completion-the Year of
Prayer.

My reasoning was this:

I have a solid understanding of my Faith but
my prayer life in inconsistent at best.

Unfortunately, prayer is the weakest part of my spiritual life.

It’s embarrassing to admit, but it’s true.

So, to help me strengthen my prayer life, I declared the
Year of Prayer on my blog.

Each month I
would focus on a different type of prayer and report my experiences to
you.

In honor of October, the month of
the Rosary, I spent the first month saying a Rosary every day.

It was difficult at times to stick with it
but, overall, it was a good experience.

Then
November came and I focused on giving thanks all month.

Then December came and things started to
fizzle out.

By the New Year, my project
was long-forgotten.

Since I try and learn from my mistakes (which gives me LOTS
of learning opportunities), I’ve decided that a whole year of prayer was just
too much for a beginner such as myself.

Which brings me to my new challenge (drum roll please!)….

30 days of AM/PM Prayer

-For 30 days, I will say a
Morning Offering (in the morning of course!) and an Evening Prayer before
bed.

That’s it-two prayers, thirty days,
one woman.

I’m not going to think any further ahead than 30 days from
today.

I figure that I can do anything
for 30 days, right?

To help me with my
goal I am hand-writing those prayers on several different index cards that I
will leave at my bedside, in my car, at my desk, in the bathroom, wherever I
need the reminder.

You may wonder, “Why
don’t you just print up some prayer cards instead of writing them out
manually?”

I’m a firm believer that writing
something out by hand helps to lock it in your brain.

So, if I write out 4 or 5 prayer cards, the
chances of me staying focused on my goal are much greater than if I were to
type it up once and print 5 copies.

Tricky, aren’t I?

My hand-printed Evening Prayer prayer cards.

If you’d care to join me in my challenge, I’d love the
company.

If you’re not up for a 30-day
commitment, that’s ok.

If you could say
a prayer or two for me over the next 30-days, I would REALLY appreciate
it.

I need all the help I can get.

You see, “the spirit is willing, but the
flesh is weak.”

Blessings,

Laura

PS.  Both of the Morning Offering prayers are from the Laudate app as is one of the Evening Prayers.  The other Evening Prayer is from

Catholic Online.

  Thanks to both for the great resources.

Year of Prayer – Month 2

November is here and it’s time for me to focus on a different form of prayer for the month.  But first, a quick analysis of how my Rosary October went.

I started off October full of goals and enthusiasm to pray five decades of the Rosary everyday but midway through the first week I was already falling short of that goal.  Since I didn’t want to fall into my all-too-common perfection-or-inaction M.O., I tried not to overreact.  Instead, I reminded myself that even a decade of a Rosary is better than none at all and I pushed forward.  I utilized several different resources to help me along my way including my Rosary CD and the Laudate app for my smart phone.  I found that, while my Rosary CD was very helpful, if I listened while I was driving, I was often too distracted by traffic (silly me) to focus on my prayer as much as I would’ve liked.  Evidently, I’m old school because the tools that were the biggest help to me last month were the Rosary beads I received at my First Communion and a Rosary booklet I got at a Catholic bookstore many years ago for about $2! 

By the end of the month, even though I fell far short of perfection, I found myself going to the Rosary more and more as part of my daily routine.  I had established a habit, of sorts, which was a big goal of my Year of Prayer.  Making prayer a part of my daily life instead of just a part of desperate times and letting that regular prayer draw me closer into communion and communication with my Lord was my goal.  So, I’m calling Month One of my Year of Prayer a success. 

I know this journey has only just begun but I think I’m on the right track and that’s a good thing!

Now, on to November-

As the holidays start to ramp up, prayer will be even more important to help me maintain focus and sanity.  At the same time, I need to be realistic about the demands on my time.  So, because November is a time to focus on gratitude for our blessings, I’m going to spend this month thanking God for all I’ve been given.  I’m going to try to dial back my prayer requests (with the exception of intercessory prayer for friends and family) and focus on the abundance of what I already have.  I’ll be using a mixture of formal prayers and spontaneous prayers throughout the month.  Here are a few lovely prayers of thanksgiving I found at AmericanCatholic.org that I’ll be using.  If you have any prayers you want to share with me, drop me a line and tell me about them.  Once again, I would love to have you join me on this spiritual journey.  In fact, I would be most thankful.  (See, it’s working already!)

Check out more of my thoughts on gratitude and the environment in my November column on CatholicMom.com today around 10 am Pacific Time.  Hope to see you there!

Blessings,
Laura

Ready, Set, Pray!

Well today the Year of Faith officially began.  This is the year that our Holy Father has declared to be a year of learning more about our faith and growing closer in relationship to Jesus.  For my observance of the Year of Faith, I’m focusing on prayer.  This month the focus is the Rosary and so far, not so good.

My pray-the-Rosary-everyday plan has not been without flaws.  Many flaws.  Really, the plan isn’t the problem.  The flaws are entirely mine.    I’m embarrassed to admit how many times this month I’ve realized that I didn’t even say a decade of the Rosary the day before.  And it’s only the eleventh day of the month!

Why is it so hard for me to be consistent in my prayer life?  Why are my plans for prayer so often spoiled by my reality?  I would love to hear your ideas or tips for a richer prayer life.  Hopefully, this upcoming year will help me to grow in my prayer life.  The bad news is-I’m starting this year off on unsure footing.  The good news is-there’s no where to go but up (I pray!)

The week I’m going to try out a Scriptural Rosary to mix it up a bit.  Give it a try with me and let me know what you think.

Quick Takes Friday

  • Words that actually came from our 13 year-old’s frustrated mouth, “Since when did you guys care about school!”  Seriously?  Does he know us at all?
  • Now that the heat has subsided and the rains have returned, our garden has started producing again.  We’re hoping for a harvest of red and green bell peppers in a few weeks. 
  • October 11th begins the “Year of Faith” as declared by Pope Benedict.  Are you doing anything for the YOF? Why not join my Year of Prayer?
  • After highs in the high 80s and low 90s, tomorrow’s high is supposed to be in the mid 50s!  Yikes!  I’m now thinking about making soup, cooking warm bad-for-you things, and harvesting my herbs to preserve for the winter.  Does anyone have experience with herb drying?
  • Looking forward to a long weekend.  Thanks Columbus!  So, why do we celebrate Columbus Day in October?  Is it his birthday? The anniversary of his historic trip?  Just curious.
  • Our nine year-old has discovered football.  Evidently, he plays everyday during recess with some of the other fourth graders.  Yesterday he was happy because the other boys had declared him quarterback after an especially awesome pass.  Here’s praying that he’s more athletic than his parents!
  • Our daughter is now learning that fine arts aren’t always fun.  Sometimes it’s just work.  It’s a sad day for all of us.

Have a relaxing weekend and enjoy your family.
Blessings,
Laura

Year of Faith-Year of Prayer

Pope Benedict has declared the year beginning October 11, 2012, the Year of Faith.   The Holy Father wants us all to focus on learning about our faith and deepening our relationship with Jesus.
So, here’s my plan:  I’m going to spend my Year of Faith focused on my prayer life.  For me, it will be the Year of Prayer.  Each month I’ll focus my practice on a specific type of prayer. 

Since October is officially the Month of the Rosary, I will be focusing this month on the many ways there are to pray this ancient prayer.  This week my focus will be on praying the Rosary daily in whatever way I can-in the car, in bed, during Adoration. 

I have a couple of tools that I’ll be using this month to help me to focus my prayer efforts

  • The Laudate app for android (also available for iphones)-this free app has a wealth of interactive information including the daily mass readings, liturgy of the hours, an examination of conscience, stations of the cross, traditional prayers and, of course the Rosary. 
  • The Rosary on CD produced by the Mary Foundation and distributed by Catholicity.com They have lots of free CDs that are informative, inspirational and prayerful.  Check them out.
  • Author Sarah Reinhard is promoting her new book, A Catholic Mother’s Companion to Pregnancy: Walking with Mary from Conception to Baptism, by holding a Rosary-based blog tour using reflections from the book.  Each day a different blog will host Sarah as she provides a reflection on one of the mysteries of the Rosary.  What a great way to enhance your prayer life.  You may even win a Nook!  Check it out.

I would love to have company on my Year of Prayer.  Will you join me?

Blessings,
Laura