Tag Archives: God

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!

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The Problem with Tolerance

28 Jan

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Source

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 Am a Sinner

22 Nov

Satan wants me to be comfortable. He wants me to take my life for granted; to not notice the little blessings given to me each day. Satan wants me to think that I have it all together, because if this were true, why would I need to seek God?

The devil doesn’t want me to share my weaknesses; to admit that I am broken and need God’s grace.

Satan doesn’t want me to notice that I rarely pick up the Bible next to my bed or admit that I sometimes get too caught up in housework instead of spending time with my girls. Or that I hesitate to help others when it might inconvenience me too much. The devil doesn’t want me to acknowledge that I know he is behind any fear and resistance that I have been battling.

Why am I typing this stuff? Simply because I have read some amazing books by saintly authors lately. The Holy Spirit has been weaving some beautiful wisdom together in my mind. Hopefully, I can now articulate what has been knocking me over the head…

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“I am a sinner.” That’s the response that Pope Francis gave in his recent interview for America Magazine, when asked to describe who he was. These are the first words that came to mind of one of the holiest men on earth! What a humble example of who we are all called to be as Christians!

At the time that I read the aforementioned, A Big Heart Open to God article, I had just finished reading a section in Melody Green’s book, No Compromise: The Life Story of Keith Green, about her musician husband and how he started a “revival” in their community of new Christians. Keith had read a book by Charles Finney that discussed the concept of “fallow ground,” and this motivated him to confess his sins to his friends, ask for forgiveness, and turn grace into action on a whole new level. On page 269, Melody writes:

Keith explained, “Fallow ground is ground that was once tilled, but has since gotten hard and unusable. Before it can receive seed, it needs to be broken up and made soft again. Finney says to break up the fallow ground of our heart, we need to examine our motive, actions, and state of mind very carefully…” Keith quoted Finney again. “There are many professing Christians who are willing to do almost anything in religion that does not require self-denial. They are so far from realizing that self-denial is a condition of discipleship that they do not even know what it is!”

Keith was passionate about fighting hypocrisy among Christians and urged one another to move beyond “easy” grace.

For anyone out there familiar with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, you know that this is just like his term, “cheap grace.” In his book, The Cost of Discipleship, Bonhoeffer states, “Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship.”

Many Christians accept God’s gift of grace without accepting that we are also made to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him while on this earth. We are made to know our brothers and sisters in Christ; to love them and to serve them. This requires action…discipleship…grace.

We are not to take our amazing free redeeming gift of salvation and keep it to ourselves. Matthew 5:13-16 states:

You are the salt of the earth. But if salt loses its taste, with what can it be seasoned? It is no longer good for anything but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.

You are the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hidden.

Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

“Getting saved” isn’t a one time thing, it is a a continuous accepting of Jesus by the choices that we make. Dr. Timothy Gray states in Walk the Walk: Following Christ as His Disciple, “Denial is always preceded by distance. Follow Jesus at a distance, and that discipleship will eventually end up in denial – denying Jesus.” He also states, “To not act on our belief – on our Christian thoughts – makes those Christian thoughts completely fruitless and vain.”

Can we ever do anything to earn grace? No, of course not. God freely gives us his love and mercy over and over again. Grace should inspire thankfulness – a heart overflowing with gratitude for something that we can never deserve. Thankfulness humbles us. Thankfulness is the key to joy.

I’ve been reading One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp and her book is absolutely filled with numerous ways we receive grace and blessings. She says:

Thanksgiving creates abundance; and the miracle of multiplying happens when I give thanks- take the just one loaf, say it is enough, and give thanks- and He miraculously makes it more than enough.

When we have more than enough, we share. We share our joy, our blessings, our hope, so that others will seek Jesus, accept His grace, and follow Him. We are called to live radically and walk boldly in faith. Without God’s grace we are nothing, and this is precisely why we owe our lives to Him. This is why we should want the Lord to till our hardened soil and plant seeds of love in our hearts.

I am a sinner. A thankful sinner. A thankful sinner who wants to shine His light.

A Reflection on 8 Years of Marriage

25 Jun

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The above photo is one of my favorites! Adam and I were so happy to share this special day with so many of our close friends and family members! I remember not wanting to leave the next day to drive from Indiana down to Tennessee, because it was so wonderful to be around so many people I loved at one time! Occasions like this must be a small taste of what heaven will be like!

Today marks our 8th wedding anniversary! Here we are – a dog, a conversion, a house, two kids, and a 30th birthday later! AND HAPPIER THAN EVER! We truly feel so blessed to have been called to this vocation. We’ve had to go through growing pains, just like any couple does, especially in the first few years and when adjusting to the life-altering event of a first child! We’ve yelled, thrown things, cried, rolled our eyes, and slept on the edges of our beds as far apart as possible… There have been plenty of moments that we’re not proud of, but we have come through every challenge and emerged closer and stronger because of them!

It’s amazing how much things improved when we began TRULY putting God at the center of our marriage and surrendered our will to His! We mutually sacrificed more for each other and the good of our family. (It’s interesting how kids quickly change our priorities for the better, huh?! We’re forced to be selfless and re-examine our lives!) We started focusing on daily blessings and treasuring small moments. Joy has multiplied in our family in recent months!

A couple years ago, we both began journeys of seeking out God’s will and really being open to whatever He asks of us. I started devouring life-changing books about inspirational and faithful people with great wisdom! (I currently have quite a stack on my bedroom dresser waiting to be tackled!) I asked God to help me with my quickness to anger towards Adam, and you know what? He did! I’m happy to say that God’s grace has shaped me into a much more understanding and positive wife!

Adam began facing a lot of family hurt that had kept him in an emotional prison. He buried his former vision of his fantasy music career and started asking God how his talents should be used in the context of keeping his family his main priority. He started listening to Catholic radio again and watching impactful documentaries. He read (listened to) Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. Adam has grown into a joy-filled man full of confidence and conviction.

It has been eight years of chiseling and sharpening each other for heaven! It is a tragedy that so many couples abandon their vows before they experience the joy of a bond made stronger after facing adversity with forgiveness, faith, and hope. God-willing, eight years is just the beginning of our married journey! We know there are many years of change and challenge ahead (and probably some more eye-rolling on my part!), but with God at the center our love will endure!

Happy Anniversary, Baby!

Present in His Presence

21 Jun

Be still, and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10

Relaxing peacefully on a lime green float in my parents’ pool, I felt the cool water flow between my fingers and the soft breeze ruffle my hair. The birds chirped, tweeted, and sang around me. I had just begun thinking about how nice it was to escape during my daughters’ nap-time to quietly enjoy the gift of nature, when I suddenly felt the warmth of the sun on my face. It was as if the clouds parted just for me and God was saying, “I’m here.”

This was a rare moment of serenity, and I soaked up every bit of it! I don’t get many opportunities to “sit in the classroom of silence,” as author Matthew Kelly says. During this hour-long vacation, it was easy to be fully present and experience God.

What’s not so easy, though, is being aware of God’s presence in the rush of everyday life.

The very next morning after my blissful time in the pool, it was back to reality! I was getting ready for work in the morning, when my four-year-old, “C”, had a meltdown in the hallway because she wasn’t able to open “Little A’s” bedroom door and say “Good morning.” “Little A” had woken up before “C” and was already eating breakfast and watching Caillou on the iPad. As I walked into the kitchen to try to calm her down, I noticed that the floor had been splattered with soggy cereal and milk due to a bowl that was dumped off of the high chair tray. Shortly after cleaning this up, I had to toss “Little A’s” favorite blanket and stained pink “Baby” in the washing machine. This resulted in crying and frustration on her part.

During this chaotic morning, I realized that God is present right now, too. This thought – this truth – allowed me to have more patience and empathy than I probably would have been able to muster otherwise.

The more aware we are of God’s presence, especially in everyday situations, the more we will be able to handle things gracefully and respond to promptings from the Holy Spirit. We are more likely to focus on relationships and not distractions. The more we live fully in the present, the more we are aware of God’s blessings. And as I discussed in last week’s post, the more thankful we are, the more joy we radiate!

How have you noticed God being present in your life today?!

Real Connections = Real Change

7 Jun

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Often times, I think we, as Christians, feel like we aren’t doing enough to reach others or we get caught up in how many people we can influence. Of course, with the emphasis on the New Evangelization and this being The Year of Faith, many of us are focused on how we can better spread the truth of Jesus and the faith. This is something to which we are all called for sure and needs to be done.

Sometimes, though, I think we are distracted by the “big picture”. The truth is, as the quotes on this page point out, that showing love to our spouse, children, and neighbors is the most powerful and meaningful way that we can bring about change in our culture.

I think many of us who are busy working and raising young children, especially, may feel like we aren’t contributing as much as we’d like in our parishes and communities. (For me, personally, this is why I love to blog. I am able to work a full-time job, take care of the family that God has blessed me with, and still feel like I’m offering something outside my own little world.) We need to remember, though, that building strong, loving families is the foundation of our society and is worthy of most of our time and attention. Being able to sacrfice for our children in this way, enables us to grow in selflessness and be more open to whatever God is calling us to do now and in the future.

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When we do find ourselves in situations where we can reach out to others beyond our family, we are still called to focus on each individual person. As last month’s featured Dreamer Ryan Eggenberger encouraged, “Everybody – every single persion – is worth it to God. That means everybody – every single  person- is worth it to you and to me.” When we, through our actions, express to someone else that they, alone, matter to us and to God that is when real connections and relationships bloom. This is when we are most like Jesus.

It is, of course, easier said than done at times to take ourselves away from our work, thoughts, and to-do lists to really be present to others. Going outside of our comfort zones to really make a connection with someone can make us vulnerable to being rejected, but without taking risks and listening to promptings from the Holy Spirit, life would be pretty lonely.

I think a great example of someone who is living out this idea of influencing others by making deep connections is Contemporary Christian Music artist Matthew West. Matthew’s two most recent albums consist of songs that were inspired by stories of  specific individuals. He read thousands of letters sent to him and then crafted some of these into hopeful and healing songs. On Matthew West’s website he shares the real-life stories behind each song. The cool thing is that several people are relating to these songs, even though each one was written for a particular person!

If you have not listened to Matthew’s latest Into the Light CD yet, I highly recommend it! My girls love dancing and singing the words, too!

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We all have a role to play to bring others closer to Jesus. It can be as simple as making eye contact and giving a smile to a stranger – or your child. 

Have a great weekend, everyone!

10 More Inspirational Quotes about Following God’s Will!

10 May

As I mentioned in my original 10 Inspirational Quotes about Following God’s Will post, I love collecting words of wisdom! I’m back again with some more to share! Please feel free to add your own favorites in the Comments section! I’d love to read them!

10 Inspirational Quotes about Following God's will

1. Being a Christian is less about cautiously avoiding sin than about courageously and actively doing God’s will. -Eric Metaxas

2. Do not wish to be anything but what you are, and try to be that perfectly. -St. Francis de Sales

3. For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self. -Thomas Merton

4. There are no ‘ifs’ in God’s world. And no places that are safer than other places. The center of His will is our only safety – let us pray that we may always know it! -Corrie Ten Boom

5. For each of us, there is only one thing necessary: to fulfill our own destiny, according to God’s will, to be what God wants us to be. -Thomas Merton

6. Make sure you are doing what God wants you to do–then do it with all your strength. -George Washington

7. We can only learn to know ourselves and do what we can – namely, surrender our will and fulfill God’s will in us. -St. Teresa of Avila

8. Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire. -St. Catherine of Siena

9. God doesn’t require that you succeed, he only requires that you try. -Mother Teresa

10. We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose. -Romans 8:28

**UPDATE: This post originally assigned the first quote to Dietrich Bonhoeffer in error.  It is now corrected to reflect the actual author, Eric Metaxas.

A Father Who Gets It

1 Feb

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Let me just start out by saying that I am truly blessed to be married to my husband, Adam!  In this world of broken marriages, fatherless children, and faithless families, I have a man who desires to do God’s will and be a loving, engaged husband and father.  When asked by other musicians about what he has been up to lately, Adam tells them, “I’m the happiest I’ve ever been” despite not having much time to focus on anything musically.

Are our lives now quite like we envisioned they would be eight years ago? No…and yes!  No, Adam is not where we thought he’d be in his music career right now.  We are both working full-time jobs.  We live in a house with too many crazy issues that we have to spend more money on than we’d like.  Yes, because we get to be the parents of two beautiful, silly girls.  Adam writes meaningful, amazing music.  We’re able to pay the bills.  We work together as a team to take care of our home and family.  We’re continuing to grow closer to God and discuss his will for our lives.

Most recently on this journey of discovering what God is calling us, particularly Adam, to do in regards to his career, Adam has found what he is really passionate about – Being a good father and encouraging other men to do the same.  When our oldest daughter was born, he read Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters by Dr. Meg Meeker.  He loved it!  In December, he stumbled across the documentary, Absent, by Justin Hunt on Netflix.  Absent is about the effect that disengaged fathers have on their children and how this lack of a relationship affects society.  We also recently watched Courageous, a movie about this same topic.  What’s interesting is that independent of these movies, Adam was already thinking a lot about this.  These two films just reinforced that God is trying to show him something!

The path that we are exploring now includes possibly recording a CD of his latest real, positive music and putting together his own story for Catholic Men’s Conferences.   This would allow him to do what he loves and spread a message that can inspire others.  Adam relates to people very well and would be a great speaker.  This is definitely just the tip of the iceberg, but we feel that God is definitely giving us some sort of direction.

There are so many question marks and mysteries ahead of us, but I know that our priorities are in order.  I know that Adam has the right perspective on what is important in life.  The following quote from Courageous, when character Adam Mitchell speaks to a church congregation, sums it up. (Adam rewound this sentence twice!)

You can’t fall asleep at the wheel, only to wake up one day and realize that your job or your hobbies have no eternal value, but the souls of your children do.

Please pray for us as we continue to discern God’s call in our lives.  We will do the same for you!  Let’s also pray that more men will have the courage to be good fathers to their children!  Thank you to all the wonderful men out there who are already amazing husbands and fathers!  Your value in this world is priceless!

I’d like to also say a special thank you to my own father.  Thanks, Dad, for always finding time to support my interests and challenging me to be the best version of myself!

(Above photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici/freedigitalphotos.net)

Top Life-Changing Reads of 2012

18 Jan

Books

Image courtesy of The Photoholic/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are you looking for something insightful and life-changing to read this year?  If you’re like me, you probably already have quite a list but I highly recommend the following five books that I read last year!  (And when I say life-changing, I’m not exaggerating!)

1. Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption by Katie Davis

After reading Kisses from Katie, my passion and trust grew to another level.  We all have a special role to play while on earth and what we are capable of doing with God’s grace is amazing!  This book will make you view the world and yourself differently – guaranteed!

2. What Happens When Women Say Yes to God: Experiencing Life in Extraordinary Ways by Lysa TerKeurst

Lysa reminds readers that throughout each day there are several opportunities to “say yes to God”.  This book helped me to see that there are so many times that I dismiss promptings from the Holy Spirit or come up with excuses why I shouldn’t do something.  We never know how our interactions with others can bring them closer to God and strengthen our own relationship.

3. The Rhythm of Life: Living Every Day with Passion and Purpose by Matthew Kelly

I read this book for the first time a couple years ago, but I listened to the audio version again and there are so many truths and great nuggets in this book!  If you’ve followed my blog at all, you know that I love me some Matthew Kelly!  No matter what stage of life that we are in, nothing is impossible with God!  He wants what is best for us!  This is a great motivational book!

4. Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas

Do you want a role-model who stands up for others and really lives their faith?  This biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer will energize you and make you examine how far you would go to do God’s will.  Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor and anti-Nazi activist who was executed just a few weeks before Hitler committed suicide.  Bonhoeffer is truly inspiring and more people are needed like him now in America!  This book is long, but worth the read!

5. Wrecked: When a Broken World Slams into your Comfortable Life by Jeff Goins

When I randomly stumbled upon this book three times in one day online, I figured God was trying to tell me to read it, so I did!  Wrecked is another great book that gets readers to let go of personal dreams and follow God’s will.  I don’t think these things are necessarily mutually exclusive, but responding to God’s call will always require courage and sacrifice and it may not line up with our idyllic vision.  His plan is always better than ours, though!

If you have read any of the above books, how did they challenge you?  Any other books that you would recommend?  If you read any of these books in the future, please come back and let me know what you think!

The Year of Faith: Living Without Fear

21 Sep

Usually January 1st marks the annual time to contemplate goals and make resolutions, but in a few weeks many Catholics will begin a new year of sorts that will consist of challenges to learn more about the Catholic faith, grow deeper in a personal relationship with Jesus, and evangelize. The Year of Faith begins October 11, 2012 and lasts until November 24th, 2013. The Note with pastoral recommendations for the Year of Faith  from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Vatican’s website details different events and opportunities for celebrating, as well as explains more about what the Year of Faith entails.

The Year of Faith is intended to contribute to a renewed conversion to the Lord Jesus and to the rediscovery of faith, so that the members of the Church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the Risen Lord in the world of today – capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the “door of faith.”

I’m really excited about this upcoming Year of Faith, especially since I recently came across the idea for living “A Year Without Fear” in the book She’s Got Issues by Nicole Unice. I feel like the two “years” match up very well. In order to live without fear we must step outside our comfort zones and put our trust in God. It is a daily choice to let go of our false sense of control and say “Yes” to what God asks of us – whether big or small. The best way that we can share the true peace and joy that faith offers is through our actions and interactions with others.   I think Saint Francis of Assisi said this best.

Preach the gospel at all times — if necessary, use words.

As those who are familiar with this blog know, I am passionate about pursuing dreams and following God’s plan. The Year of Faith will be a great time to re-evaluate how we can use our God-given talents to serve others. When people see how joyful we are about what we do (because we truly enjoy doing what we love), it will speak more to convert hearts to Christ than anything we can say.  Understanding our faith should not be minimized, though, since it is the foundation for what we do and is necessary in order to explain the reason for our joy to others.

My plan for the upcoming year is to continue to look for opportunities and not use obstacles as excuses to live an “average” life. I want to continue to grow in my faith and be open to possibilities I never would have considered to be options in the past. I want to listen and respond to the Holy Spirit when He moves me to act or say something. I plan to enhance my faith by spending more time reading scripture and books about following God’s will!

How do you plan to embrace the Year of Faith?  What does living without fear look like for you?