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Spotlight on PJ Anderson and New Album RISE

27 Sep

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For those of you who have been reading my blog for awhile, you probably know by now that I love sharing about people who are using their talents and living God’s will for their life. I also love meaningful music and catchy melodies. Today I get to combine these passions by sharing about Catholic artist, PJ Anderson!

Recently, I was fortunate enough to be able to listen to PJ’s yet-to-be released fourth album, RISE. What I kept coming back to while listening to each track was that these songs come from such an authentic, truthful, and passionate place. It’s a combination that can be rare to find, even among Christian artists. I love how the album kicks off with the anthem title track, “Rise”. It really sets the tone for the rest of the songs to follow. I’m excited for PJ, because I think this album is going to launch him to another level in the music world!

Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to get to know a little more about PJ and what inspires his music. He generously answered some questions for me, but, first of all, I must share that he’s a fellow midwestern native and Notre Dame fan! (GO IRISH!) He and his wife and two children also reside in Nashville, so I look forward to hopefully meeting them soon!

1. Your 4th album, RISE, will be released soon, so the fall is going to be a pretty busy time for you! What does the rest of 2014 have in store?

2013-2014 has been such a blessing! I started writing a song a week last year and that is where the songs for RISE and my last album, Let Your Light Shine have come. I played a mega-workshop at NCYC (National Catholic Youth Conference) in November where 25,000 come to grow in faith and spent the year traveling for concerts, youth conferences and retreats.

This past summer I lead worship and music at Catholic Heart Work Camp for 7 weeks. I’ve spent the last 6 summers working with CHWC leading music at mission trips across the country. This fall has been packed with logistics and promoting RISE. 1400 copies have pre-sold prior to the official release mainly through pre-sales at CHWC, an exclusive release with http://www.lovegoodmusic.com. The first single, “Beautiful Mess” debuted at #40 on iTunes Christian Charts.

The album releases October 7 and is currently on iTunes Pre-Order for special pricing of $7.99. The album release show will happen in Nashville at The Axis Church in Germantown (1423 2nd Avenue North) on October 10 with doors at 6p and show at 7p. Perfect opportunity for people to come listen and praise and then head over to Germantown’s Oktoberfest.

After the album officially releases, my year consists of traveling the country for youth conferences, concerts and retreats.

My wife, Rachel, and I also lead pilgrimages to Rome and Assisi for youth and adult church groups. I studied in Rome for a semester and returned for a year to work as a Resident Assistant at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center. Since then, my love for Rome has led us to take others and hopefully encourage a love for Rome in others. Here is a link to a video from our last trip! Spoiler alert, our two kiddos were kissed by Pope Francis!!!! It was AMAZING! Here’s the video.

We will return to Rome in April and then Catholic Heart Work Camp will start again in June.

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2. How did you experience God’s call for you to pursue music? Any significant obstacles or “God moments” on your journey so far?

God was laying seeds to write and pursue music, but I wasn’t always listening. I was actually the kid who got in trouble with my Mom for not singing at Mass! I started playing guitar when I was in 5th grade where I learned from a nun, Sister Charita. I played from 5-8 grade at school Masses but stopped playing in high school to pursue my dream of being in the NBA! I put all my eggs in the basket of playing basketball. I’m not exactly built for the NBA, but I thought I was! But, I picked the guitar back up in college and started writing songs then. Many of my first songs came while I was studying abroad in Rome. I didn’t start out exclusively writing worship music, but God was always a part of my music. I have now found a musical home in writing worship songs that lead the listener, the worshipper, into a close, personal space with our loving God. I am thankful for where God has led me. The path wasn‚Äôt always easy, but he equipped me with the faith, inspiration and relationships to create an album that will lead others to closer to Him.

I was a Youth Minister for 6 years near Chicago with my wife, Rachel. Long story short, but when we were expecting our first child, Rachel had some serious pregnancy issues and had to be rushed to the hospital and she was put on hospital bedrest for 3.5 weeks. Trey (Paul John III) was born 6 weeks early and was in the NICU for 2.5 weeks. It was a very difficult season filled with fear and joy at the same time. I also lost my job as a Youth Minister because I was not able to be in the office as I was staying in the hospital with my wife. As difficult as it was, God led us through the darkness of that season and opened up many doors in music, especially in Nashville. Phone calls started coming in from groups that I had met at CHWC mission trips and they started asking me to come to their parishes and youth groups for concerts and retreats. Relationships with producers, musicians and youth ministers started blooming and gave us the courage to make the big move to Nashville. God made it obvious that my time as a Youth Minister at one parish was done, but that He wanted me sharing music with many people across the country, if that makes sense. So, I now joke that I get to be like the uncle that comes in and riles up the kids before they go to bed. I’m now the traveling “Youth Minister” who comes in plays music, shares stories and talks and then I go home! No paperwork here! Ha!

We are so blessed with the life we have in Nashville and thankful that God led us here to continue to minister and lead others into relationship with Him. I mean, I get to write and sing songs, travel the country sharing those, take care of my kiddos during the week and call that work. It’s awesome!

3. What draws you to working with, and motivating, teenagers and young adults?

I love working with high schoolers and young adults! It’s the way God built me! He created me as an outgoing, extrovert that loves to interact, build relationships and laugh and love. Part of what draws me is the desperate need for hope amongst teenagers and young adults. There is a great sense of hopelessness at times in our world, especially at those ages. I was at a retreat where 3 witness talks in a row by 3 high school girls were all attempted suicide stories. That breaks my heart! That emptiness, that brokenness says there is no hope and that is the biggest lie of our generation. There is ALWAYS hope. And my goal and prayer is to make sure those that I minister with and to truly realize that. That “God loves you” isn’t some cheesy thing your youth minister says, but that it’s truth. He loves us so much that He has given and continues to give us everything. And we are called to give Him our everything. And that no matter how dark things get, how broken we are, God doesn’t love us any less. One of the songs from RISE called “Grace Is Hope” says, “No sin is more hopeless than my Savior has grace. My Savior is grace.” There is no sin, no brokenness, no pain that is too great for God to conquer. He is our grace. He is our hope. That is what draws me to working youth and young adults.

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4. Do you have any favorite songs, books, Bible verses, etc., that you find inspiring?

Ooooh! Tough one. Favorite songs right now are:

“Lord, I Need You” by Matt Maher. This song is just a great reminder of our need for God, for the Lord. In a world that tells us that independence makes us strong, I think we forget that our dependence on God makes us even stronger.
“All The Poor and Powerless” by All Sons and Daughters. Oh man, this song! It’s been making me cry listening in the car! Ha! The need and calling for all of us to rise to God’s call to love and serve. That’s the theme of RISE and this song articulates that perfectly. “All will sing out hallelujah, We will cry out hallelujah” We serve and love the poor and powerless because that’s what Jesus did and calls us to do.
“Losing” by Tenth Avenue North – This song has helped me get through those dark seasons.
“Closer” by Bethel Music – Our desire and love Him more and to be closer to Him. That’s always my prayer. I stray from Him but want to be close.

Favorite bible verse is John 3:30. “He must increase. I must decrease.” This verse keeps my desire to serve the Lord close.This verse keeps me humble. This verse is how I try to live my life, not for myself, but for Him. Now, do I always do that? I fail everyday. That is why I need Him. That is why He must increase.

Thanks so much to PJ for answering some questions! I’m looking forward to attending his album release show in a couple weeks! Maybe I’ll see some fellow Nashvillians there, as well!

If you want to keep up with PJ’s music, check out his website and be sure follow him on Twitter and Facebook!

Freak-outs and Faith: Learning to Trust in Uncertain Times

8 Sep

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Hello, family and friends! It’s good to be getting back into the blogging world! I kind of took an unplanned break for most of the summer, so I figured I’d catch everyone up on a little bit of what’s been going on…

The following paragraphs were actually written about two months ago and I never clicked the ol’ “publish” button. I think it’s worth sharing to see the mental roller coaster I’ve been riding in my head!

Every 2-3 months, I tend to get stressed and overwhelmed about finances and other circumstances. About 90 percent of the time, I’m genuinely feeling like, “Life is good. I’m blessed. Things are great,” and then I have a few days or more when my mind goes into overdrive. I’m suddenly aware of ways that I’m “not enough.” The house isn’t clean enough, my face isn’t clear enough, I don’t make enough money, I don’t have enough time, etc. My jaw sets into a semi-permanent clench for a couple days and my neck and shoulder muscles tighten. It’s no wonder that I have a history of TMJ and migraines.

These short-lived, usually minor, quarterly freak-outs have resulted in various outcomes ranging from the start of my coupon obsession to pre-term labor. Yes, I actually started bleeding and had contractions the very next morning after a teary-eyed Sunday stressing about our family’s financial situation with a new baby on the way. Fortunately, my early labor was stopped during a 3-day stay in the hospital, but it resulted in over two months of bed rest in 2011. I can’t help but think that the two were related.

This stressful patch is lasting a little longer than usual, although I’m learning to try be patient, trust, and sit in the “uncomfortable.” I really feel that God is using this time of transition for a purpose, as He often does! We’ve made it through many times before, so I know this time will be no different. With our oldest starting Kindergarten this fall at a Catholic school (as if tuition isn’t already outrageous, the darn cost of uniforms is going to put me over the edge), looking at our futures career-wise, and brainstorming opportunities for additional income, there doesn’t seem to be a quick solution. I do kind of feel that Adam and I are at a crossroad moment in our lives. There’s no way we can continue much longer the way things are right now. Coupons aren’t cutting it anymore.

I do have to take a time-out for a minute, to recognize that we really have been blessed with our current work-family situation. I work at a faith-based agency with a lot of great people. Adam has been able to work second shift and partial weekends to be with our girls during the day. While this has been amazing during this phase of our lives, we’re starting to look towards the near future and how we need to adapt to the next phase that includes a Catholic school education for our girls. I understand that this is our choice, but after much prayer and discussion we feel it is the best one for our family and we are willing to look at what we can do to make this happen long-term.

My mind has been swirling with ideas and possibilities. Pursue grant-writing? Take classes to get a paralegal certificate? Start one of the website concepts I’ve been pondering? Find a higher paying job in my field? I don’t just want to make money, though – I want to do something that’s meaningful. Adam is looking into getting more jingle work and waiting on a possible promotion and shift-change in a year or two at his job. What direction is the right way to go?

Now you may know why I’ve been a little quiet on the blog the past month or so… Most of my time in the evenings has been spent brainstorming, researching, and tv-watching to reduce stress. I didn’t even fill out a monthly goal sheet for June! ūüė¶ I started out the year so full of intention and I have accomplished a lot of the goals I set for myself for 2014, but sometimes, er, maybe often times, I have to let go of my plans! And, I’m trying to be okay with where I am. God does have a plan, and right here, right now is part of it.

Although, I must say I can’t wait to be able to look back and say, “Ah, that’s what that time was for!” But for now, I’m listening! God, my ears and eyes are open! Holy Spirit please show me the path to follow and give me the courage to do your will!

Well, fast forward another couple months and I’m brimming with excitement and joy over a new project passion that I’ve been wanting to jump into but kept finding reasons to prolong (time, money, lack of experience, doubt, fear, insecurity, etc.). After reading Dr. Gregory Popcak’s book, The Life God Wants You to Have: Discovering the Divine Plan When Human Plans Fail and starting Holley Gerth’s book, You’re Made for a God-Sized Dream: Opening the Door to All God Has For You, I feel re-energized and confident to take some steps in faith. Take that, fear and doubt! A good rule-of-thumb that both authors point out to keep in mind when considering a dream, is to contemplate if it is helping others. (I highly, highly recommend both of these books by the way!)

What’s the project, you may ask? I don’t want to give too much away yet, but it has to do with music. And let’s just say, many things have been falling into place ever since I made up my mind to take this path that I feel called to pursue. Things like, Catholic artists contacting me to review their music, Adam being given a professional recording desk for free and getting a great deal on the recording gear that he needs and paying for it all from ebay profits (nothing out of our bank account)! Also, a Catholic father, who stumbled upon my blog, just reached out to us a few days ago about Adam possibly recording a song that was written about his beautiful 4-year-old daughter who died last year. (More to come on this family’s tragic and touching story at a later date.) There are some other things that have had the Holy Spirit’s “fingerprints” all over them, as well, and I’m absolutely overwhelmed with it all – in a good way!

I have a lot of work ahead of me, but I am looking for opportunities, not excuses! There’s just no way that I can’t not do it! I’ve waited a long time to truly find a passion and a niche. I think I’ve found it and the best thing is that it overlaps with my husband’s gifts and calling. I have no idea where exactly this is all going to go or what’s going to blossom, but with God leading us, I know it’s the best thing. I hope to be unveiling the start of this journey very soon!

It’s good to be back to writing again. Please fill me in on what you’ve been up to this summer! I have a lot of catching up to do and I’d love to hear from you!

Be a Sheep

14 May

Shepherd with SheepSource

Last Tuesday, Adam excitedly called me about a Catholic Answers Live podcast episode he was in the middle of listening to. Host Patrick Coffin was interviewing Catholic country artist, Collin Raye, about his new book, A Voice Undefeated, and the state of the music industry in Nashville right now. It was so refreshing to hear him speak on a lot of the same things that Adam has expressed frustration about, like how hard it is to get any songs of substance cut right now!

To listen to this podcast with Collin Raye that originally aired May 12th, click here.

Later that night, after I had an opportunity to listen to it myself we talked on the phone about it and, again, about figuring out what steps God wants us to pursue… It’s easy to get overwhelmed when looking at the big picture and the work and time a music ministry would take, especially when we work opposite schedules and have two young children. Things seem impossible to even think about. We ended with the conclusion that we need to keep bringing our fears honestly before the Lord and continue to pray and be open to God’s will. We need to focus on one step at a time. Listening to this podcast, though, was definitely some sort of step on the journey.

Before I went to bed, I read the gospel reading (John 10:22-30) and meditation for the day in The Word Among Us. No surprise – it totally went along with what we had just been discussing. Here’s a little snippet of the meditation for May 13:

…he wants you to become more sheeplike: more single-minded in faith, more reliant on him, more “helpless.” He wants you to learn to rest in his salvation and trust him more fully…

Spend some time today thinking about being a sheep. Watch and listen for messages from the world and from your own heart that urge you to be independent, to take care of yourself. Are you listening to those messages more than to the messages that come from the Good Shepherd? He truly does love and care for you so let him make you more and more like one of his trusting, obedient sheep.

Often times, I think we feel like we need to do something- anything- to make our dreams happen. Yes, we need to put forth a lot of effort, but sometimes we are just spinning our wheels. Being busy makes us feel like we are making progress, but it is just wasted energy if we’re not following and trusting God’s path for us.

I love the image of being a sheep! It can be so hard to let go of the illusion of control, but there is so much peace and freedom in letting our Good Shepherd lead us! He wants what is best for us and will not lead us astray!

We are working on knowing when to wait for God’s hand and when it may be fear that is holding us back. I pray that the Lord will lead these two aspiring sheep to what he has called us to do and that we may follow! I also pray for any of you sheep who are reading this! I’m so inspired by the commitment and example of so many who are responding to God’s will for their lives! Thank you for your courage!

Learning How to Pray {5 Helpful Resources}

11 Apr

St. Louis de Montfort Prayer Quote

I’ve wanted to write a post about prayer for awhile, but it just seems like such an overwhelming subject to tackle! There are so many different ways to pray and so many books on the topic! I’m not going to let that stop me, though!

Since it’s such a popular subject, prayer is clearly important. It is one of the most vital¬†things that we can do to grow closer to God and be molded into who He wants us to be. It’s essential in order to discover His will for us. Praying must be more than just a few petitions tossed up throughout the day or a quick “thank you” when things work out our way. Prayer needs to be a priority so that everything else is rightly ordered and our “paths are made straight” (Proverbs 3:6). Just as a couple needs to continuously communicate and sacrifice¬†daily in order to cultivate a healthy marriage, the same¬†must be done¬†to grow¬†deeper in a¬†relationship with Christ.

Improving my prayer life is something that I’ve personally been focusing on the past several months. Even though I’m a full-time working mother, I try to find moments in my day that I can dedicate consistently to prayer. This idea of making a point to set aside a specific time to pray each day has been¬†a recurring theme that I have come¬†across often in my reading.

I use my drive to work in the morning to pray and prepare for the day. I’ve been trying to get back into praying the rosary consistently, too. (It helps that my radio is broken, too – no distractions!) I also spend a little time reading the Bible after tucking my girls in at night. I’m not spending hours in prayer, but I have found that I feel much more at peace when I stick to my new routine, however short it is.

I do have to say, though, that the more I am aware of the blessings in my daily life and promptings to do God’s will, the more I feel like my actions and special moments are like little prayers. Sometimes I find myself soaking in a genuine smile from one of my daughters and I feel it’s God showing me His love and allowing me to experience true joy that only comes from Him. I can feel God in the moment. No words even need to be said.

Pray Without Ceasing Quote

In doing my research on prayer, I have come across some very helpful and inspiring resources. Instead of trying to quote and paraphrase, I think it’d be best to just share and link, because they each deserve to be read in their entirety!

Recommended Resources on Prayer:

1. The Prayer Process as shared in The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic by Matthew Kelly. This 7-step process is a great daily way to pray. It helps me reflect on the accomplishments and failures of the day, how God is speaking to me, and what I can do for others.

2. Prayer Primer: Igniting a Fire Within by Fr. Thomas Dubay. This book really is a must-read on prayer. There were many great insights in this book. Not only did it address the various types of prayer and their value, but it discussed how to help children pray and how to pray even when we are busy. I know that this is a book I could re-read over and over again and continuously learn more.

3. Lesson One in Prayer by Peter Kreeft. I love how Kreeft writes – so visual and direct. This brief article on why to pray and how to get started is definitely a kick in the pants! Kreeft has also written Prayer for Beginners, but I haven’t read it yet. It’s definitely on my list and is actually available from Lighthouse Catholic Media for $5.

4. Meditation Stuff: The Laudate app is free and has¬†daily readings and meditations. I also like Word Among Us for their daily meditations on the readings. I recently discovered The Catholic Company’s Morning Offering daily email. At first, I was like, “I don’t need another thing to read and meditate on,” but I have discovered that I really like the saint quotes that they share! Each day they feature that day’s saint, Liturgy of the Hours, and more. I highly recommend it!

5. St. Josemaria Escriva. One of my favorite bloggers, Erin of Humble Handmaid, has mentioned this saint’s writings often on her blog. She recently shared this post, “Making Every Breath a Prayer,” where she again shared some more of his wisdom. I definitely need to get to know this saint more!

How do you fit prayer into your daily life?  Do you have any favorite resources or tips?

5 Lovely Reflections for Mothers of Girls

1 Apr

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Over the past month, I have come across some very insightful posts about the importance of mothers sharing authentic beauty, truth, and joy with their daughters.  All links below are worthy of your time! These reflections are great reminders and definitely inspirational!

Linking up with Hallie and ladies at Moxie Wife this week!

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Talks With Our Daughters -Treasures from the pages Part 1.

Theresa Thomas shares some great wisdom from the book Talks With Our Daughters by Sister M. Eleanore. There is so much truth and wisdom in Sister’s writing. I will definitely be printing this and sharing with my girls when they are older. I can’t wait until Theresa posts Part 2!

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Finding Balance

This post by Melissa Michaels at (in)courage reminds us to make sure we are living with intention and focusing on serving God instead of being dragged down by to-do lists. It’s definitely something that most women struggle with, I’d say!

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10 Powerful Prayers to Help You Fight for the Heart of Your Daughter

This PDF of ten short prayers based on scripture that Lysa TerKeurst put together is another great resource! I definitely want to incorporate this into my daily prayer time!

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Little Girls, Get Up! Get Up and Eat.

Someone shared this post by Glennon of Momastery on Facebook today. It’s another great message to make us mothers pause and reflect!

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10 Things to Bring Peace, Joy, and Silence in the Midst of One of “Those” Weeks

Mary Wallace wrote this post for CatholicMom.com today. I definitely went through one of “those” weeks last week at work. Mary offers some great ideas of things we can do to give us a little silence and/or stress relief!

Grace, Humility, and the Impossible

24 Feb

First of all, let me just say that I might be insane! I signed up earlier today to commit to blogging every day this week! What was I thinking?! I feel like I succumbed to peer-pressure by the other 246 Catholic bloggers who already linked up before me with Jennifer Fulwiler at ¬†Conversion Diary! I don’t want to be left out of the madness! There is something greatly unifying and inspiring just knowing that all of these other people are doing the same thing, though! Here’s to¬†7 Posts in 7 Days!

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William Wilberforce/Source: Wikipedia

This past Saturday, Adam and I were invited by a friend of mine and her husband to attend an interdenominational church service that was featuring Eric Metaxas as a guest speaker! (Bonus: Christopher Duffley, who is blind and autistic, sang at the beginning of the service and it was such a blessing to hear him!)

I have made no secret of the fact that I am a big fan of Eric Metaxas’ books and his message. (Check out my “read” list on Goodreads located in the right sidebar!) I heard him speak a year ago on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and this year he discussed William Wilberforce and his fight to abolish the slave trade. What really stuck with me during Metaxas’ talk, was how humble Wilberforce was and how he lovingly debated with his political opponents. Much of Metaxas’ speech was taken right out of his chapter on Wilberforce in 7 Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness (a book I recently started reading). On page 51, Metaxas writes:

Wilberforce understood the profoundly important concept that we are all sinners and all fall short of the glory of God. He hated the sin but loved the sinner, and he never demonized his opponents. He fought against them valiantly but always with grace, knowing that he had been part of the problem at one time, too, and knowing that if it weren’t for the grace of God, he would still be a part of the problem.

Metaxas likened this issue to the abortion debate in our culture today. He stated that “Jesus commanded us to love our enemies.” And, just as Metaxas pointed out that we are often guilty of doing, I find myself thinking that I’m on higher moral ground, especially when it comes to things like abortion. I tend to think “I can’t believe so-and-so is completely ignorant about that” and “I’m glad that I do more good than so-and-so”. The truth is, it is only because of God’s grace that we have the knowledge that we do. God lets us see certain truths when we are open to Him that others are blinded to because they reject Him.

How timely was this speech?! Imagine my excitement – and conviction – when I heard the Gospel reading on Sunday morning about loving our enemies (Matthew 5: 38-48)! The exact topic that Metaxas stressed in his talk the previous night! Trust me, my ears were open!

And if that wasn’t enough, I also read a post from Biltrix about the reading yesterday, titled When the Gospel Pokes. I can definitely relate!

All that is good is from God, and it is only because of His grace that we can have wisdom, love, knowledge, faith, and the ability to offer forgiveness. It would ALL be impossible without God’s grace.

Speaking of overcoming the seemingly impossible with grace, another important thing about Wilberforce is that he remembered that it was only with God’s strength that he could abolish slavery. Metaxas writes:

He first required a deep sense that the Lord had called him to these things –else he would have been overwhelmed, and the many setbacks would have been a great discouragement. But because he knew that God had indeed set these objects before him, he knew that the battle was God’s battle, not his. All he had to do was to be obedient to what God was asking him to do and to know that God brings the victory.

What a great reminder to each one of us! When we feel that God is calling us to something, we have to remember that He is in control and it is not up to us to make certain things happen. All that we can do is trust and obey. And pray – often!

For more about Wilberforce, you can read Eric Metaxas’ book Amazing Grace and/or watch the movie. The Kindle version is currently $3.79 on Amazon. Metaxas is also in the process of writing a book about inspirational women and a book about modern-day miracles. I can’t wait!

10 Inspirational Quotes about Prayer

12 Feb

I’ve really been focusing a lot on improving my prayer life lately – it’s definitely one of my main goals for this year. I’ve been reading some great books, including¬†Prayer Primer, by Fr. Thomas Dubay, and I’ve been coming across some great words of wisdom about what prayer is and what it does for us. I thought I’d share!

10 Inspirational Quotes about Prayer

1. “The function of prayer is not to influence God, but rather to change the nature of the one who prays.” -Soren Kirkegaard

2. “The best thing each of us can do for those we love is to become a saint, a man or woman of deep prayer.” -Thomas Dubay, S.M.

3. “To pray well one must live well.” -St. Augustine

4. “I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.” -Mother Teresa

5. “Prayer is a mother who conceives and nourishes all virtues.” -St. Catherine of Siena

6. “Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.” -Matthew 21:22

7. “A soul which gives itself to prayer, either much or little, should on no account be kept within narrow bounds.” -St. Teresa of Avila

8. “Don’t pray when you feel like it. Have an appointment with the Lord and keep it. A man is powerful on his knees.” -Corrie Ten Boom

9. “Prayer is not an old woman’s idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.” -Mahatma Gandhi

10. “If you ever want to be holy, to know God, to live His will, then the number one thing that you are going to have to do is pray. PERIOD! Nothing else matters.” -Fr. Larry Richards

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Do you have a favorite quote about prayer? If so, please share below!

The Problem with Tolerance

28 Jan

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Driving to work a few months ago, I noticed a purple bumper sticker that I hadn’t seen before that stated “Tolerate: Believe In It.” It was similar to the “Coexist” bumper stickers I’ve seen numerous times. The first thing that came to mind when I saw this was “emptiness.” Believe in IT? Huh?

Alright, alright. I know what people are getting at when they say “tolerance” – they mean acceptance. The first definition of tolerance, according to Merriam-Webster, is the “willingness to accept feelings, habits, or beliefs that are different from your own.” While this sounds like a decent and respectful idea, and everyone certainly deserves respect, it falls short. Here’s why:

1. Tolerance does not seek truth.
First of all, tolerance sounds to me a lot like “relativism,” defined as “the belief that different things are true, right, etc., for different people or at different times.” (Thanks, again, Merriam-Webster.) This is a big reason why the concept of tolerance leaves me empty. It signifies that there is no real truth; that “tolerance” is supposed to be some supreme social ideal that we are to bow down to so no one’s feelings are hurt. Catholic speaker and author, Matthew Kelly states, “A world without truth is a world without joy or meaning.”

Whoa! That’s a pretty powerful and wise statement. You can’t have joy or meaning in this life without truth! It’s not possible! Truth is the key to a meaningful and joy-filled life. Tolerance is not the path to truth, and, therefore, does not lead to true joy and meaning. Clearly, relativism and tolerance is a dead-end street to seeking purpose in one’s life.

2. Tolerance is isolating.
Contrary to popular belief, tolerance does not build community. Tolerance is lazy and selfish. It doesn’t really have concern for others, it just wants everybody to get along. You stay where you are and I’ll stay here and we’ll just do our thing. Cool?

Tolerance is also defined by Merriam-Webster as “the ability to accept, experience, or survive something harmful or unpleasant.” After reading that, how does tolerance still sound like something that makes a successful society? I tolerate an itchy sweater or a long wait at the doctor’s office, we shouldn’t have to tolerate people. Yes, personalities and ideals clash, but we are called to recognize the dignity in each person, no matter how hard it may be at times.

3. Tolerance is not love.
What’s missing from this tolerance picture, is LOVE! Love trumps tolerance – no contest. Let’s be real: Would you rather be tolerated or loved?

Love requires sacrifice, listening, care, respect, honesty. Love wants others to get to Heaven. Love puts others first and seeks truth. Love makes the impossible possible. Love does not have limits.

Many of us know the popular words in 1 Corinthians: 4-7 (NAB), but they are worth repeating here:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrong-doing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

One thing that love does not require, though, is that we agree with one another. Somehow this absurd lie has been perpetuated that to really love someone and want what’s best for them, you have to let them do whatever they want – and encourage it. To quote a recent tweet by Rick Warren, “It’s nonsense that you must agree with people to #love them. I often disagree with people I deeply love. I married one!”

And still, even while reading about the beauty of love, there are those who are fuming that I am dogging the false ideal of tolerance. How dare I have the gall to bring God, faith, and the Bible into this “debate”! But I say, how can I not, when the best this world can offer is tolerance, because the world denies God, and thus rejects love? There is no love without God. And this is precisely why there is a huge problem in our culture in this day and time. So many are settling for humanism over Christianity, this world over the next, relativism and tolerance over truth and love.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s stand united in truth. Let’s continue to grow in love and live by the golden rule. Let’s choose joy and live with purpose each day. Let’s build each other up and use the gifts God has given each of us. Let’s embrace God’s grace and shine His light!

A life without truth, joy, community, and love is… empty. And I have a problem with that.

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I’m coming for you, 2014!

6 Jan

motivational quote from Ana Brandt

Source

I’m not usually one for New Year’s resolutions or big annual evaluations of my goals, but I am all about living purposefully this year!

Maybe the combination of turning 30 last month and facing the reality that my oldest daughter is starting Kindergarten this year has got me putting on my big girl pants. In fact, like many others (including those linking-up at Plain Grace), I even decided on a word to focus on for 2014 Рintentional!

I have been working hard on my PowerSheets, a goal-planning guide created by Lara Casey, to plan the first six months of the year. I cannot recommend this packet enough! It has motivated me so much and has really helped me put my goals into perspective in light of my vision- God’s vision- for my life! If you feel like you really want to prioritize and break things down into manageable bites, check them out! These can help you out no matter what your dreams are!

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My vision for 2014, and my life overall, includes:

-constantly seeking God’s will
-being thankful for his grace and blessings
-having a thriving marriage centered on Christ
-raising our two daughters to know, love, and serve Him
-using our talents to bring others to God and spread joy
-having a warm home where others can feel the love and joy of family and God
-reading, studying, and growing in wisdom and understanding

My five goals that I have chosen to put my energy into this year (and why) are:

1. Cultivate a marriage and family that continues to grow in God’s love, because that’s where true joy is and we want to shine His light and the goodness of family.

2. Create a financial plan/budget that works for our family, so that we can be good stewards of our money, save for our girls’ education, and prepare for emergencies, big purchases, and our future.

3. Create my online community, Faithful Dreamers, to encourage and inspire others to follow God’s will and dream big!

4. Be healthy, so that I can have more energy and feel good about how I’m taking care of myself for my family. I desperately need to squeeze in some exercise a few times each week!

5. Spend more time in prayer, so that I can hear God’s word, discern his plan for my life, and deepen my relationship with Jesus. This will greatly help me to be the best version of myself.

2014 is all about a year of action for me! I’m ready to put some ideas into motion and I want to do things with intention! For a peek at my Making Things Happen in 2014 vision board, click here!

~

What are you focusing on this year? Do you have a special word that is guiding and motivating you?

My Five Favorite Books of 2013

2 Jan

I know that I’ve been MIA most of the past month, but I was so busy with all that comes with preparing for Christmas that blogging just never really made it to the top of the priority list! It’s a new year, though, and I’m ready to get back to it!

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I’m joining Hallie and others at Moxie Wife¬†this week for a Five Favorites post of my top reads for the past year!

{1}

The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic 
by Matthew Kelly

I love Matthew Kelly and this book is so practical and filled with so much truth. I love the prayer process that he outlines. Click here to check out some of my favorite quotes from the book!

{2}

Running For My Life
by Lopez Lomong

This book is definitely one that alters your world-view. US Olympic Athlete Lopez Lomong’s journey from a refugee camp in Sudan to a life in America is so inspiring. God’s hand in his life is evident throughout the book and speaks to the truth that God has a purpose for each of us.

{3}

One Thousand Gifts
by Ann Voskamp

This is such a beautifully written book! Voskamp definitely inspired me to be thankful for every tiny blessing that may typically be taken for granted or go unnoticed. It’s also a great reflection on the gift of grace.

{4}

33 Days to Morning Glory
by Fr. Michael Gaitley

Along with many others who have gone through this retreat, I highly recommend this book to consecrate, or re-consecrate, yourself to Mary! Who better to shape and mold our hearts for Jesus than his mother?! (Thanks, mom, for giving it to me this past Mother’s Day!)

{5}

My Life With the Saints
by Fr. James Martin

I really enjoyed reading how various saints impacted Fr. Martin. It really inspired me to want to grab a few biographies of saints and dig a little deeper! I already have a few on my “to-read” list, some of which he recommended in the book!

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I can’t wait to read so many more books in the coming months! Some of which include finishing Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship, Finding God’s Will For You by St. Francis de Sales, and Our Lady of Kibeho by Immaclee Ilibagiza.

What books impacted you this past year? What do you want to read in 2014?