What I THOUGHT was Common Sense About Marriage + GIVEAWAY

This past Valentine’s Day, David and I decided to do a little something out of the norm and attend a young couple’s newlywed evening. The night began with Mass, followed by dinner, a few talks, and dancing.

And let me just preface this by saying the day of the event, David and I did NOT want to go. We had just been in an argument that morning and the last people we wanted to hang out with was each other. Not exactly how you want to spend your Valentine’s Day amiright?! But we put on our “happy” face and our fancy clothes and headed out despite our not-so-pretty attitudes.

Well when we were asked to do the readings for mass all I kept thinking was I’m probably not in a good place to do these readings but, not wanting to explain myself, we said yes anyways. I got up to do the first reading… Gen. 2  18-24… the creation of woman.  A great reading. Next, David was up. And of course he had the reading from our wedding… oh you know the one… 1 Corinthians 12. Well I don’t know about anyone else in that chapel, but that second reading was speaking RIGHT to David and my grumpy selves.

Common Sense

“(Love) is not rude, it does not seek its own intereests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.”

Okay, thanks, God, we get it. So suttle. Not.

After Mass, David and I talked it out before heading to the dinner and we were feeling much better, especially after getting some food and wine in our bellys. But then came the talks. They were given by a married couple who are both counselors in the Michigan area and were focusing on things that can break your marraige and things that can build your marriage. And I’m not going to lie. I was sitting, listening to this couple talk, and at first  all I could think was, well duh, I’ve heard that before.

Everything at first seemed like things I already knew. Like the importance of Christ in the center of your marriage, praying together often, treating your spouse like you treat friends or co-workers, finding out how they feel loved (not how you feel loved) and making them feel loved, not being resentful of past hurts, not holding grudges or piling on guilt or making someone feel bad for something… All of these, and more, were given to us (in a more pretty and articulate way than I just gave) as ways to better your marriage. But the more I realized I’d heard these before, the more I realized David and I weren’t necessarily good at doing them.

We’ve heard these suggestions all our engaged and dating life, and so it was second nature for me to think that, we’ve heard them, we know them, so that’s it. But I’ll admit. I know I’m guilty of doing something nice for David and hoping for reciprication. Or one of us blaming the other for something that is just silly and not necessary. Or one of us just fighting for the “upper hand” in an argument. Over and over I’ve heard these things we should do for our spouses, but I can’t say that David or I’ve been the best at practicing  these daily.

After the reading we’d heard that day (one I’ve heard plenty of times before) and the “common sense” talks we’d heard, I knew David and I needed to make some changes. On the way home that night we talked some more and apologized again for our lame-o fight.

I’m learning this whole marriage thing isn’t the easiest thing I’ll do in my life. But it has the potential to be the most rewarding.

As I continue to learn more about being a better wife, I’m going to be starting another round of 31 Days of Prayer for Your Husband on March 1st! I would love for you join me. Don’t worry if you aren’t married or engaged, this is a great prayer for your future spouse, yourself, the men in your life, or really just about anybody in your life.

Click the link below to sign up and receive daily prayer intentions for your husband as well as corresponding Bible verses. After signing up, you’ll receive an email asking you to confirm your Sign Up.

Sign up Now

By signing up, you’ll ALSO be entered into a GIVEAWAY to receive a rosary from Keogler Studios, a prayer journal and some other fun finds! Bonus entries for following me on Instagram and  Twitter AND /OR share this on Twitter :) If you’re already following me, you’ll still get the bonus entry… Happy praying and good luck to all!

Annie

Learning Joyful Hope: Reflections from the March for Life

Ever since I was in high school, I made it a very clear decision that I was going to attend the March for Life. Although I’ll admit… at the time, it may have been for the wrong reasons. At the time I was in a youth group. A really good one at that. There were solid kids who loved God and really brought me closer to my faith (and continue to today).  But the first few times I attended the March, it was purley for social reasons. Yes, I joined in on the “we love baby” chants and wore the appropriate neon scarves so we could find our group easily, but apparently being there wasn’t enough to convince me about why we did this.

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It wasn’t until I was in college after I had had a bit of a re-version (like a conversion but more like a re-awakening) that I saw why we did this. I really felt it in my bones that abortion was inherently wrong and I truly became passionate about it from that point. But there was a part of me that always left the March feeling a little discouraged. Like… that was it? We march and yell for a few hours with signs and then get back on the bus and go home? What have we even accomplished? Who listened to us? Cause it sure feels like no one. The media won’t report on the 400,000+ people who attended and if they do report on it, it’s with a lot of bias or reported as “hundreds of youth”. Hundreds?!? Really? Try hundreds of thousands.

So you can see why this would be discouraging to a young college student who just wanted to make even a little difference. But it wasn’t until this year that things became a bit clearer. I was blessed to be given the chance to attend the March for Life for work. As I was taking photos, it really gave me a new view of the March I had never seen before. I was partaking in the March, but more so I was watching everyone else partake in the March. It was a very different way to expereince this day, through the eyes of others.

I began to aprreciate what we were here to do. But then… came the discouraging thoughts. We hadn’t even left the March this time and they were coming. It wasn’t until we were mid-March (nearing the “big hill”) when I was walking next to a priest quietly saying the rosary with a teenager. As people realized they were praying, a man stepped in to join them. Then a small young family. Then three random teenagers. Then a two nuns. Pretty soon this “little” rosary had turned into at least 15 people saying the rosary while we walked downtown. And then it hit me.

         For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Mt. 18:20

Here we are in a sea of people. All here for one reason: to stand up for the human person. Some are religious people, some are not. But I would say a VERY large majority there were gathered in God’s name. So if that’s the case, if all these people, praying or not, are gathered here in Christ’s name, who am  to say this can’t work? Who am to doubt the power of God? He tells us where two or three are gathered… well here we had 400,000+ so I KNOW God was very much in our midst.

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It came down to me trusting. I haven’t always been good at trusting God that he’ll make things work out, but my doubts have always been cast aside as once again I am shown that He is in charge. So as I witnessed this “rosary mob” take form it not only gave me this complete trust that God, in His time, will answer our prayers, but I was given a joyful hope. Joyful because that’s just what God does when He teaches you something, He lets you feel complete joy because He’s just that good to us. And hope because I believe good things will come from this. It may be small at first, and I may never live to see it’s full outcome, but I believe and trust that there is an end in sight to this March. There will always be a need to fight for life and until the day we have done what we came to do, we will joyfully come to D.C. and we will march with hope.

Joyful hope, how original, Annie amiright?! Although it may not be a huge epiphany on how to change or revive this movement, it was my own little piece of an “Ah-ha!” moment. And yes, next year those discouraging thoughts might just come back. But if they do I’ll be ready because I have a hope in something and Someone far bigger than any “discouraging” thought.

A “Silent” Sort of Christmas

Rasie your hand if you are shocked and scandaled that Christmas has come and gone so quickly.

Yes, I for one am. I’ll be perfectly honest. It was more of a stressful Christmas-prep compared to last years “breezing on by”. I planned too late, I shopped too late, I baked too late… Basically I was running late on a lot of things this year. But it seems whenever I’m feeling “rundown and listless” (2 points for you if you can name that TV show), God finds a way to make me feel like He’s got my back through it all.

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I was at the end of my patience come December 20. I had been praying and praying all Advent to feel prepared and joyously awaiting the coming of Christ, but I was anything but joyous. I was moody and irritated. Everything that could possibly irritate me, seemed was coming my way, full speed with no end in sight. The idea of feeling “Christmas-y” was a sad joke. I was a Scrooge and there awas no getting around it. My Christmas decorations seemed to be staring at me…mocking me for not being as excited as everyone else out there.

Then one day. A prayer of mine was answered. It was a little one. But nonetheless it was important to me. After that I started relaxing a bit more. The more I relaxed the more I realized how silly I had been. I was equating Christmas with getting all these things done, and experiencing the feeling of Christmas. Well anyone looking from the outside in could have told me that’s a sure way to fail.

I finally put into motion the idea of “let go and let God”. I started looking more at the Holy Family and their journey, and ya know what I realized?! St. Joseph is a silent man. I mean literally silent in the gospels. In the entirety of the Bible, we never “hear” him speak. He’s reflective of everything going on around him and I couldn’t help but wonder why the heck we can’t be like that?! He has Advent down like no one I’ve ever seen.

Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI was spot on when he said silence “is so lacking in this world which is often too noisy, which is not favorable to recollection and listening to the voice of God…In this time of preparation for Christmas, let us cultivate interior recollection so as to receive and keep Jesus in our lives.

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So no, I didn’t get all of my Christmas baking done and my house was a mess up until two days after Christmas. But at that point I didn’t really care. I got done what I needed to get done, physically and spiritually.

And while my life is hardly ever quiet when it comes to noise, I was finally able to experience some spiritual silence. And because of that, I was able to enjoy my Christmas much more. And ya know what? The Scrooge in me seemed to disipate more and more. I finally got that Christmas-y feeling, but this year it meant a lot more.

Happy Camper

Do you remember when you were a pre-teen? Raging hormones? Questionable things happening to your body? Your voice plummeting mid conversation? Ahhh yes. The glory days of awkward meets confusing.

Well one thing I forgot about those days is how much energy comes along with it. You see, I just spent all of last week with about 80+ girls ranging in age from 8-16. And it wasn’t until I was leaving camp did I realize how absolutely and positively exhausted I was from running around after all these girls all week.

Don’t get me wrong. I had a blast. In fact, I had a blast and a half. But this coming weekend, I will be catching up on missed Z’s and enjoying every blissful moment of it.

The entire week I was thrown into running all sorts of programs. And I really forgot how much I love working with the youth. Because it was a Catholic camp, I got to talk with the girls on a different level about their faith (or lack of for some girls). I’ll admit, sometimes when I am talking with my own peers about my faith or theology in general, I tend to freeze up. In my mind I’m thinking, “What could I possible have to say that this person doesn’t already know? How could I even be of any help?” But with the younger girls, some of them don’t even know the basics of our faith.

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Plus, little kids tend to not have a filter which I (almost always) love. They say whatever they are thinking, which isn’t always a good thing but when learning about their faith, it’s perfect! They were asking about the saints, the Eucharist, adoration, praying by your self, Bible stories, even the devil who some didn’t even know was real. I even got to lead several groups in learning how to start a prayer journal.

Some of my favorite parts about camp you ask?

Horse Back riding: I have never been an avid rider, going on the occasional trot when visiting Mackinac Island. But this week, I got to not only trot and canter, but gallop on a horse. Picture John Wayne in The Searchers … that was me. Flying through the wind, not a care in the world. Okay not as cliche as that but it was pretty exhilerating. And a bit scary too. But I’m kind of an adrenaline junkie, always jumping off bridges or cliffs into large bodies of water. But this was new for me. And I’m a fan!

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Prayer Journaling: When I was leading the Prayer Journaling Sessions, I talked to the girls about keeping a prayer journal for your prayer life. I spoke about how it can be your personal relationship with God and a place for you to pretty much put whatever you want. I showed them my ratty old journal and all the little girls kept flipping through finding saint quotes they liked or doodles I had scribbled down. But the best part was answering their questions. They all wanted to find different stories in the bible or hear about different saints. I told them all about Maximillian Kolbe, Joan of Arc, Bernadette… but they really seemed to like the story about St. Lawrence and his cheeky remark on his deathbed “flip me over, I’m done on this side.” They LOVED those stories. And I loved telling them. Little kids are so innocent about their questions. One of the many lessons I learned at camp.

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Cabin Time: Everday before lunch, we’d have “Cabin Time” where everyone would come back to the cabin and hang out after our morning programs. I loved this time because it’s when I really got to know my girls.They all had very different backgrounds, some had no father, some had 10 siblings, some were homeschooled, and some were nervous about starting new schools. Everyone had something to say, even the quieter girls. We would just hang out in the cabin, listen to some music and craft. Because girls, no matter the age I’m learning, love to decorate and make things beautiful. Even if it’s only the cabin they are staying in for a week.

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^^That picture on the right… Water bottle malfunction. Not bladder Malfunction. Promise.

Baked Alaska: Being my first time at this camp, I quickly learned about all the traditions that have gone on at camp for years. One of the many being Baked Alaska. On the last night for the girls, everyone would come back to the Mess Hall later in the evening for a homemade dessert of Baked Alaska. Now I’d only heard of Baked Alaska in old movies (Desk Set anyone?!) and have always wanted to try it since. So I was only too willing to give it a try. What is it you ask? Picture a layer of cake, with a bunch of ice cream on top, another layer of cake, all covered in meringue that has been torched a little. Soooo an ice cream cake meets a meringue pie. Very delicious. A little weird but good once your taste buds get a hold of what you’re doing with the meringue… Oh and meringue is not easy to clean off I’ve learned… How did I learn? Apparently the Baked Alaska tradition was not complete with out smearing meringue all over a few people’s faces. Yes, I was one of the victims.

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Gaylord, MI: If you don’t know about my love for my state by now, then you should just leave. Just kidding. Do not leave. But in all honesty, I love up North Michigan. In Michigan, when people go on vacation, they stay in state. Apparently, to some of the non local counselors this was unheard of where they come from? But there is some serious beauty all over the state. And this week I got to experience Gaylord. I’ll be honest. There isn’t much happening there. They just built a Walmart a few years ago and their biggest attraction tends to be Norman’s, a massive wearhouse for camping and hunting enthusiasts to drop in as they continue their treck up north. But it has a charm all it’s own. Once we were set away at camp, you still get the up north feeling with the lakes and the trees but you’re still not that removed from life. And the stars at night?! Who needs a flashlight when you got those babies!

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Color Run: I’ve always wanted to participate in a color run. And I finally got to. Although I was geting over a cold at the time, I was NOT going to miss out on this. So I volunteered to be the caboose of the run. Just to make sure no girls got lost and everyone was accounted for. The best part of being the caboose? When I finally got around to all the color stations, because I was the last one, they just dumped all the left over color-stuff all over me. By the time I finished, everyone was wondering how I had gotten so much color on me. Thank you, I’d love to be the caboose again next year!

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Last Night: Every night, before we go to bed, everyone gathers in the chapel for Night Prayers. But on the last night we were to do Night Prayers in our cabin with our girls. So Katie (the other counselor in my cabin) and I brought the girls back and quieted everyone down. There is always a scripture reading with a testimony or talk slipped into night prayer but Katie and I had no idea what to talk to them about. They had heard bits of mine and Katie’s testimony’s throughout the week, and to be honest they weren’t exciting enough to be some epic story. Neither of us had any serious life changing things happen to us. There was nothing out of the ordinary except for maybe a reversion in college. So being that it was the last night, I pulled from the Transfiguration. I told them how although many of them may want to stay here and not leave (just as Peter had wanted to pitch tents and stay on the mountain), Jesus wanted us to go home, or down the mountain, and tell everyone what we’d learned and how we’d expereinced Jesus. He wanted us to spread His love to others who may not be aware of it. There was more to it, cause let’s be honest, when I start talking, it’s hard to get me to stop ;) Thank God the Holy Spirit was all up in that cabin otherwise I’d be at a loss for words. He’s good like that. — I then had to get the girls to bed after they’d had a fare share of Baked Alaska and bags upon bags of candy… God bless all you mothers out there. You must have some serious patience.

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All in all it was a successful week at camp. I’d never been to an actual camp before so I’d like to think that my first time, even if I was 24 years old, was a as good as it gets.

 

31 Days of Praying for Your Husband

I’m a cradle Catholic. I’ve grown up with the knowledge that prayer is so important. It was instilled in me from day 1, learning to always kneel down and say my prayers before bed (“I see the moon and the moon sees me, God bless the moon, and God bless me” kinda stuff). So what is it about getting older that makes that habit harder and harder to stick to?

I’m sure there are plenty of reasons. As I went to college and became more aware of my Catholic faith, I got a lot better about making sure to make that kinda stuff (prayer) a priority. Or so I thought.

Prayer is one of those things that, for me, is always tugging to make it’s place in my daily routine. I forget often on my drive to work because I’m jammin’ to the radio or when I get exceptionally PO’ed at work it slips my mind. But the one thing I’m most embarrased to admit is I have not always been the best about praying for my other half, David. Don’t get me wrong. I pray for him as much as I remember to which is at least every night before bed. He’s the first and last person I pray for.

But if I’ve learned anything in the first few months of marriage, it’s how CRAZY effective prayer can be. I’ve seen God answer my (and others) prayers on SO MANY occasions. So I wanted to do something a little more routine and permanent.

I came across this website that showed 31 Days of Praying for your Spouse. I read through it, tweaked a few things here and there and then decided to do it. For the whole month of May I did this and I’m not gonna say there was this huge epiphany at the end where all of our life’s troubles melted away. But I WILL say throughout the month I got to witness all these little ways in which David grew and or expereinced something great during the day or noticed something he wanted to change about himself for the better. I guess you could say that adds up to one big epiphany… Afterall, there are a lot of forces out there trying to belittle marriage or attack our husbands character. I, for one, do not want to let that slide.

 

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So I wanted to share with you the little reflections. It starts with just a short prayer intention for that day and then gives you 2-4 very short Bible verses to  accompany the reflection. Best part is it didn’t take up this massive amount of time for me and I just searched the Bible verses on my phone when I wasn’t home.

And DO NOT think that this can only be said for your hubby. After I said it for David, I am now restarting it and praying it for me. I want to be the best wife I can and I know if I don’t pray for myself, that won’t happen easily at all. But it can also be said for a fiance, boyfriend/girlfriend, friend, or family member. Just a nice little way to lift your special person up in prayer!

***At the bottom of this post there is a printable PDF version of the 31 Days of Prayer for Your Husband***


Day 1 
Pray that your husband will grow spiritually and consider his accountability before the Lord. Pray that he will guard his heart by developing spiritual disciplines—Bible reading and study, prayer, meditation, scripture, etc. (2 Peter 3:18; Prov. 4:23)

Day 2 
Pray that your husband’s relationship with God and His Word will bear fruit in his life. Pray that he will be a man of wisdom and understanding, fearing the Lord. (Prov. 3:7, 9:10; Ps. 112:1)

Day 3 
Pray that your husband will be humble and quick to agree with God about his sin. Pray that his heart will be tender toward the voice of the Lord. (Ps. 51:2-4; Micah 6:8)

Day 4
Pray that your husband will grow in leadership skills in your relationship—protecting and providing for you. Pray that he will lead you wisely and love you sacrificially, so that God will be glorified in your marriage. (Eph. 5:25-29; Col. 3:19)

Day 5
Pray that your husband will be faithful to his wedding vows. Pray that he will have a desire to cultivate your relationship as a sign of his loyalty and commitment to you, and as a picture of Christ’s love for the Church. (Prov. 20:6; Gen. 2:24)

Day 6
Pray that your husband will love righteousness and hate wickedness, especially the evils of the culture. Pray that he will recognize and avoid wickedness in his own life, and if necessary, take a clear, strong stand against evil. (Prov. 27:12; John 17:15; 1 Cor. 10:12-13)

Day 7
Pray that your husband will safeguard his heart against inappropriate relationships with the opposite sex. Pray that his heart will be pure and undivided in his commitment to you. (Prov. 6:23-24, 26; Rom. 13:14)

Day 8
Pray that your husband will work hard to provide for your family, to the best of his ability. Pray that the character qualities necessary for a successful career and ministry will be a growing part of his character—persistence, decisiveness, strength, an analytical mind, organizational skills, positive relationships with people, determination, etc. (Rom. 12:11; 1 Cor. 15:58, Ps. 28:7)

Day 9
Pray that your husband handle finances wisely, will have discernment concerning budgeting and investments, and will be a good steward of his money in regard to giving to the Lord’s work. Pray that money will not become a source of discord in your family. (Prov. 23:4-5; Rom. 12:13; Heb. 13:5)

Day 10
Pray that your husband will cultivate strong integrity, and not compromise his convictions. Pray that his testimony will be genuine, that he will be honest in his business dealings, and will never do anything that he needs to hide from others. (Prov. 20:7; 1 Tim. 1:5, 3:7; Eph. 6:10-12)

Day 11
Pray that your husband will have a humble, teachable spirit and a servant’s heart before the Lord. Pray that he will listen to God and desire to do His will. (Prov. 15:33; Eph. 6:6)

Day 12
Pray that your husband will yield his sexual drive to the Lord and practice self control. Pray that your sexual intimacy together will be fresh, positive, and a reflection of selfless love. (Prov. 5:15, 18; 1 Cor. 7:3; Song of Solomon 7:10)

Day 13
Pray that your husband use practical skills to build your family and make wise decisions for your welfare. Pray that he will serve unselfishly. (Gal. 5:13; Phil. 2:3-4)

Day 14
Pray that your husband will speak words that build you and your family, and reflect a heart of love. Pray that he will not use filthy language. (Prov. 18:21; Eph. 4:29)

Day 15
Pray that your husband will choose his friends wisely. Pray that God will bring him men who will encourage his accountability before God, and will not lead him into sin. (Prov. 13:20; Prov. 27:17)

Day 16
Pray that your husband will choose healthy, God-honoring activities. Pray that he will not live in bondage to any questionable habits or hobbies, but that he will experience freedom in holiness as he yields to the Spirit’s control. (1 Cor. 6:12, 10:31; 2 Tim. 2:4)

Day 17
Pray that your husband will enjoy his manliness as he patterns his life after Christ and strong men in the faith. Pray for his physical, emotional, mental, social and spiritual strength. (Eph. 3:16; 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Cor. 10:11)

Day 18
Pray that your husband will have an eternal perspective—living in light of eternity. Pray that he will reject materialism and temporal values and put God first in his life. (Matt. 6:33;Deut. 6:5; Eph. 5:16; Ps. 90:12)

Day 19
Pray that your husband will be patient and a man of peace. Pray that he will not give in to anger, but will allow the Holy Spirit to control his responses. (Rom. 14:19; Ps. 34:14)

Day 20
Pray that your husband will yield his mind and thoughts to the Lord. Pray that he will not entertain immoral or impure thoughts, and that he will resist the temptation to indulge in pornography. (Prov. 27:12; 2 Cor. 10:5)

Day 21
Pray that your husband will learn how to relax in the Lord and, in his greatest times of stress, find joy and peace in his relationship with God. Pray that he will submit his schedule to the Lord. (Neh. 8:10; Prov. 17:22; Ps. 16:11)

Day 22
Pray that your husband will practice forgiveness in your relationship and with others. Pray that he will recognize any roots of bitterness, and yield any resentment and unforgiving attitudes to the Lord. (Eph. 4:32; Heb. 12:15)

Day 23
Pray that your husband will be a good father—disciplining his children wisely and loving them unconditionally. If he is not a father, pray that he will find a young man to mentor in the things of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4; Col. 3:21; 2 Tim. 2:1-2)

Day 24
Pray that your husband will have a balanced life—that he will balance work and play. Pray that he will fear God, but also gain favor with people he knows at work and church. (Luke 2:52; Prov. 13:15)

Day 25
Pray that your husband will be courageous in his stand against evil and injustice, and that he will stand for the truth. Pray that he will protect you and your family from Satan’s attacks. (Ps. 31:24; Eph. 6:13; Ps. 27:14)

Day 26
Pray that your husband will discover and live his God-given purpose. Pray that he will offer all his dreams to the Lord, and pursue only those goals that will bring God glory and count for eternity. (Jer. 29:11; 1 Cor. 10:31)

Day 27
Pray that your husband will understand the importance of taking care of his body—the temple of the Holy Spirit—for the glory of God. Pray that he will practice self-control by making wise food choices, and get sufficient exercise to stay healthy. (Rom. 12:1-2; 1 Cor. 6:19-20, 9:27)

Day 28
Pray that your husband will be a man of prayer. Pray that he will seek and pursue God in purposeful quiet times. (1 Thess. 5:17; Luke 22:46; James 5:16)

Day 29
Pray that your husband will surrender his time and talents to the Lord. Pray that his spiritual gifts will be manifest in his career, at church, and in your home. (Eph. 5:15-16; 1 Cor. 12:4, 7)

Day 30
Pray that your husband will serve God and others with pure motives. Pray that he will obey the Lord from his heart, and glorify Him in everything. (1 Cor. 10:13; John 7:17-18; Col. 3:23-24, Prov. 28:27)

Day 31
Pray that your husband will recognize the lies of the Enemy in his life. Pray that his attitudes and actions will be guided by the truth as he brings his thoughts into captivity to the Word of God. (John 8:44; 2 Cor. 10:4-5)

***Clink the link below to get a printable PDF file of the 31 Day of Prayer***

31 Days of Prayer for Your Husband

The Search For Hope in Lent

I’m not too sure where the first part of 2014 has gone, but it’s unbelievable that Lent starts on Wednesday.

When I was younger, Lent was definitely NOT one of my favorite times of the year. It meant giving up Scooby Doo (I’m not joking about that. I was an avid watcher) and spending every Friday night at our parish Fish Fry.

But I think the big reason why I had such an “issue” with Lent is because I didn’t really get it. I mean I knew what happened, I’d done the Stations of the Cross enough times to memorize the entire booklet. But I never felt a real connection with the celebration that was happening. In my mind it was: talk about sad things for 40 days; pray the Sorrowful mysteries and reflect on sad things, and celebrate on Easter when Jesus rises.

So basically Lent was this depressing-ish time to reflect upon? No wonder I didn’t really understand what was going on.

It wasn’t until I was in college did I really gain any perspective, let alone some appreciation for this incredible season. Yes, Lent is a time to reflect and meditate on the suffering and death of Jesus, but there is SO much hope in that suffering and death.

St. Augustine said it perfectly:

The death of the Lord our God should not be a cause of shame for us; rather, it should be our greatest hope, our greatest glory. In taking upon himself the death that he found in us, he has most faithfully promised to give us life in him, such as we cannot have of ourselves.

Mind. Blown. St. Augustine never ceases to amaze me.

I heard a priest once say in a homily, that we are called to take up our cross as Jesus has. I’ve heard people say this before, but the priest added that by taking up our crosses in UNION with Jesus, we are saying that we allow hope in our hearts for the coming when this cross will pass. There is glory, not fear or shame, in the cross because Jesus went on the cross for us, to save us, so we could in turn be with Him in heaven.

I HIGHLY suggest giving St. Augustine’s full sermon a read HERE.

So when it comes down to the nitty-gritty, I’m just starting to prepare my head and my heart for Lent this time around. My head, by deciding what I’ll be fasting from and/or what I’ll do for my prayer life and my heart, by figuring out why I’m Praying, Fasting, and Almsgiving aka The Swiss Army Knife of the Spirit (I read that online and have officially adopted this phrase) and reflecting on…well… basically all of the above.

What I’d like to do for Lent is spend some time journeying with Mary as she follows Jesus during his last days of life, the joys of having him around and the suffering of watching him suffer (in turn suffering herself). I have found a few resources here and there, but if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them!

If you’re still looking for some unique things to give up/do for Lent, here are a few links to check out. There are some great ideas!

 Weird Lent Ideas

66 Things to Give up for Lent

101 Practical Fasting Ideas for Lent

10 Tips for a Fruitful, non-lame Lent