Dear Ones, blessed Christmas Eve! I pray your Advent was quiet and focused on Jesus instead of stressing about gifts. Our youngest is 18 and our holidays are quieter. I appreciate it because I’m more focused.
Zechariah is a priest who doubted what the angel Gabriel was telling him. He didn’t believe the message from God because it seemed too good to be true. Have you ever been there? Me – so many times.
Earlier, in Luke 1:20, the angel Gabriel says,
“But now you will be speechless and unable to talk until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Zechariah is not able to speak again until John is born. Through Zechariah’s doubt, we relate to this great man so much. How many times have we begged God’s forgiveness and given thanks as we stand in awe of the promises He has kept in spite of our doubting His Truth? It’s so humbling.
As we wait for the angels’ chorus and the Christmas star to light the night, we look back on the Canticle of Zechariah, where he proclaims the fulfillment of God’s ultimate promise to all.
Speaking of John, Zechariah proclaimed:
“You, my child, will be called prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins.” Luke 1:76-77
I read this Canticle every day during morning prayer. It’s a constant reminder of how connected we are to the infant Catholic Church, and how similar we are in our doubts of God, even though we know His mercy endures forever! We must do better!
How many examples do you have of times you haven’t trusted God but should have known you should not have doubted Him? I challenge you to write them down and remind yourself of His promises kept!
Dear Lord, thank You for being faithful when I doubt. Thank You for teaching me consequences but loving me enough to show me the blessings of Your will. Come Holy Spirit, give me strength, help me focus, and control my doubts.
Did you ever experience heartbreak whilst praying a Novena or Listening to a suggested video?
Ahem, I have a point.
Well yesterday I had one of those moments. I was reading the forward for the St. Therese Novena, and it was suggested we listen to a video from the Pray More Novenas Retreat. Y’all – it was overwhelming. My chest and heart were heavy with sorrow at how lacking I am in my trust for God. But it was AWESOME and NECESSARY! And it took every fiber in my being to not beat myself up for being weak.
I really do try, every day, to look on the bright side. And I find that actively praying and being involved in Catholic Community is essential to my Faithsanity. You say, “what is Faithsanity? That’s not a word!” I say, “yes it is, I just made it up!” To me it means – being present in my faith and having good and faithful people around me that keep me on the right track. No – it’s not their job. But when you spend your time with quality, uplifting people, your attitude and angst can turn around. I promise you that. And anyway – the back and forth mentally can make life feel insane. Without my faith – on days I doubt and turn my back – I feel insane. Therefore, the word Faithsanity stands. I’m gonna say it’s an ACTION VERB! The art of purposing to stay active in the word and surrounded with Faith so that you won’t lose your mind. How’s that? You’re welcome!
I won’t bore you with everything I’ve walked through in my life. If you have read my various blogs the past nearly 20 years, you know the craziness of my childhood, and all the details that brought on a monumental lack of confidence in myself and my talents that God gave me… And sadly, my lack of trust for God himself.
I don’t know if you are like me, but for as long as I can remember, my mind, when any little thing goes wrong, spirals very quickly to a dark place… Not a place where I would harm myself (though I have thought of it at times in my life)… But a place where the doubt and the “well of course things won’t go right, how could it… no body cares about me…why do you hate me God?” thoughts trickle in. And I’ve made a lot of bad decisions based on how little I thought I was worthy of God‘s love. It could be the smallest thing and I spiral. So weak – right? In my mind, I’m so weak… and yet, in HIM I am strong! Come Holy Spirit – help me remember.
I am here, in Italy, separated from a truly faithful community. Even though I teach CCD and am involved, I do not feel close to these folks, many who truly do not put God first. I’m sure there are people here who would take offense, but it’s very weak Catholicism here. Very weak indeed. Our Catholic Community at home was close and strong and lived liturgically. And it was awesome… Admittedly, I did not always see it. But that’s not the point. The point is – I need that close Catholic Community. I need to stay in the word and bridge the gap of being away from home whenever and however I can. Because this whole hiding thing I’ve been doing – it doesn’t work! lol
Anyway – before I talk your heads off, Let me lead y’all to this clip I watched yesterday… If you are struggling with self worth, self doubt, and any kind of spiritual negativity – Please click the link (look for the study sheet too)… and LISTEN to this. Memorize it. God knows our world and knows how much we need him. I implore you!
I may listen to this daily for the next several days. I want it to really sink in. As I was watching, I became hopeful that I will once and for all, really take the words in and realize that I am special to God and That I have a purpose. If you are walking through a period of time, be it daily, weekly, monthly, or yearly or just randomly periodic… where you need assurance that God loves you and that he doesn’t need you to be perfect he just needs you to trust him…
Additionally – Please sign up at Pray More Novenas for a great spiritual experience. John-Paul and Annie are spectacular and bless us all so much. I always get so much out of it. Being honest, there are times I miss a day, and that is ok. God knows your heart. Catch up and keep going. Without great and encouraging people like these faithful two, I’d be lost. I’m so thankful.
I just thought I’d share that with you! It may make absolutely NO sense to you. But I am struggling – obviously… and I am going to keep coming back and reminding you that there is hope in God and our Faith! We are blessed and we are strong. And our Weaknesses will teach us what we need to learn – therefore to view them as gifts is necessary!
1 Peter 5:7 – Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you.
It has nearly been four months since I’ve blogged…
Currently, I am participating in Mary Lenaburg’s 30 Day Encouragement Challenge “You Can Do Hard Things”. And I write this to her in the comment of her Day 4 video… “I’m walking out of a season where I simply was tired of being bold/courageous. Tired of putting a smile on my face and pretending all was well. Just exhausted with the hard things in life. This is truly a time of refocus for me and I really appreciate that you have put this together. Thank you again Mary!”
The funny thing is, in my mind I had been dealing very well with everything life tossed me. And, as a Catholic, I had been performing well. Do you say performing? Yes after much thought, even though the love for God is there I was somewhat going through the motions. I told myself I had to do certain things in order to be a good Catholic. But I was not taking care of myself.
I gave up my career many years ago to care for our youngest child who is autistic and anxiety ridden. And I even began to speak words of anger to him and my husband as well… As I became increasingly resentful that all of my life goals and dreams seemed to be disappearing. Embarrassingly, The evil one was starting to creep into my mind and tell me lies.
No matter what I did, I could not shake the overwhelming feeling that I was never gonna be good enough for God. And I think somewhere along the way I stopped believing that He cared. Even as I thought children that God was love… I did not believe that He loved me. Because I have been through so much I allowed the insecurities of my past to convince me that I was not a good mom or wife or even a good person…
In the sessions that we have with Ms. Mary, she asks us basically to determine the HARD thing we need to overcome. Mine is learning to love myself; To Deem myself worthy, And to know deeply the love of God again. In order to do this I have to allow Him to love me and build my relationship with Him. In order to be a better mother and wife and friend… I need to relearn how to love myself. It’s weird to say out loud it almost 58 years old that I will battle the demons of my past and my present… But I intend to do so with the full armor of God.
If I’m not here, lol it’s not because I don’t have a lot to say or things that I want to write about. I just need to make sure that I’m writing in the correct spirit. I don’t want to be a negative person. The anxieties and stresses of life have caused me to not be well physically and mentally. And I need to concentrate on regrouping for me and my family.
I want my legacy to be one of ministry, not misery. I want to impart the right wisdom from growth. I need to listen for God’s plan in my life. And I’m excited to see what He needs me to do for Him.
I don’t say these things to worry you. Honestly I say these things to encourage you because I know that I’m not the only one who is walked through childhood abuse, incest, self degrading behaviors, loss of children, and this overwhelming need for life to look perfect for others… P.S. – it’s not. Lol
I’ll be fine. There is much good in life. And I will be back at least weekly. I have some work to do in order to get my mind right…and I will be praying for you.
One of the ways I’m kicking off 2021 is to participate in the Pantry Challenge with Jessica at Good Cheap Eats. The dates are January 1-31! I’ve been doing this for at least a decade. I love her blog because I get her logic. She helps me see what I am doing right, wrong, and what I can do better. The Pantry Challenge is a fantastic season that my family looks forward to twice a year.
I would love to invite you to go to her blog, read about it, and subscribe. When you subscribe, Jessica will send you the tools you need to participate. It’s been different for us here in Italy. My pantry and fridges/freezers are full because of extra holiday purchases, and we have set some attainable goals for this Pantry Challenge!
We will stick to our meal plan.
We will only grocery shop every 2 weeks…
When we do, will will only buy dairy, produce, paper/personal items.
If we don’t have it, we will make it! That happened today!
We will repurpose food and use up our frozen foods.
With the exception of Marque’s birthday, we will not eat out…
All of the things on my list will either save us time or money. In the states, there are coupons, and sales fliers, etc. here in Italy, not so much. We did find a store called AdHoc, which is similar to Costco. That has helped with meat costs, etc.
Here’s a pic of my pantry:
Beside my fridge (to the left of this pantry), I have a dry erase calendar where I place my meal plan, and a dry erase empty square where I write my grocery list. During the Pantry Challenge, we take stock of the meats and dry items we have… and we use our imaginations to make it all last at least a month, sometimes longer.
January 1st we had our traditional New Years Meal. Pork roast (because a proper ham is not common here), black eyed peas, greens/cabbage. Leftovers today, the 2nd, and tomorrow (the 3rd) we will have shrimp tacos.
Earlier, I said we needed something we didn’t have, so we made it. So here’s the story. We love the Pioneer Woman’s Shrimp Tacos, and they call for Mexican Tomato Sauce. Usually we use El Pato, but we ran out and they don’t sell it here. So we made it from this recipe – Mexican Tomato Sauce.
One of the things I have learned from Jessica @GoodCheapEats is that you can make just about everything from scratch… and it’s such a benefit. I’ll let you know how the shrimp tacos turn out.
We’re excited! Come play along… get organized, use what you have…and save money! AND let us know how you do!
I hope this post finds you well. It’s been two weeks since I posted, but y’all, I have had a busy two weeks. I’m the PTSA President and I was at school nearly every day. Between Teacher/Staff Appreciation, our spirit gear coming in and needing distribution, “spirit week” – which I will show you later this week, and school pictures… it was a lot of fun! I’m so thankful we could bring fun into the school.
I meant to get this up early this morning but today’s been a rather long one. You see, we are about to be told we are closing till January and going to a Google Classroom setting. UGH. I’m heartbroken, and also relieved at the same time. Now, we know and we don’t have to deal with “is it happening” thoughts. Ya know? Here is the latest Italian Decree. It’s not great. But guides the command on how the Italians expect the rest of us to act. It’s their country, after all. If you open it in Google Chrome, you can see the fun… You’re welcome. HAHA
But you didn’t come here for that. You came to see the new Bible Journal I was sent to review. I love it in so many ways… there is just ONE thing I wish was different, but it won’t stop me from using it. I’ll explain. First and foremost, I have literally been praying that Ignatius Press would create a journaling Bible. And when my friend Monica told me about it, I knew I wanted to review it. So thrilled to have been sent this Bible. Because I’ve already given the last one I reviewed away – even though I said I wouldn’t. I’ve loved the Ignatius Bibles since I homeschooled through Seton. And I agree with Mr. Scott Hahn, who said that the NRSV Second Catholic Edition is the most beautiful translation of the Bible. Hands down – agree!
WHAT I LOVE:
This Ignatius Note-Taking and Journaling Bible a sturdy Bible- in fact, the leather is beautiful.
The pages are thicker than a regular Bible and easy to work on.
My artwork didn’t bleed through too much, but that doesn’t bother me anyway.
I love the off white color of the pages.
The maps are great too.
I love the size of the Bible – its 6.25×7.25 and maybe 2 inches or so thick. I have super small hands and it’s easy to hold.
ONE THING I WISH WAS DIFFERENT:
Font Size. 7 pt font is too small for this 57 year old.
It’s not their fault I wear trifocals like Mr. Magoo… But that is truly my only issue.
Luckily I have access to a bigger version so I am clear on the verses I am working with.
This is my new favorite. In the pictures below, you will see the cover, the comparison of size/font to the last Review from Catholic Bible Press, a blank page, and a page with artwork.
When I journal, I try to plan it out beforehand, and I always try to write a note.
On this page, I used:
Sharpie bright yellow highlighter
Various gel crayons, water, and paintbrushes.
Tim Holtz Sunrise Stencil.
Various Stamps from Sweet & Sassy Stamps. One item each from three sets.
Gina K Amalgam Ink
The verses I journaled are Psalm 43:3-4 –
As always, I washi-taped a plastic mat under the page I worked on, so that the Bible wouldn’t get wet. I air dried this one, and then I stamped on it, and wrote out: Let Me bring light to the world through God, who’s light and love I share with others! Meet me on the Holy Hill! Walk with me, I am NOT alone!
Dear Ones, I have to hop off to go watch the explanation of the latest decree by our Command Staff. Pray for us over here.