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Prayer for Lent- Day 5

I should have posted this on the first Sunday of Lent but I am falling behind!

Lent did start with Ash Wednesday on February 13th! The Sunday after Ash Wednesday is the First Sunday of Lent. It might be getting difficult for some (yes, already) to hold fast to what we promised. If we start each day with a prayer, we can shield ourselves while we are in the desert. I found this prayer online-- use if you'd like!

Prayer for Spiritual Renewal

God, heavenly Father, look upon me and hear my prayer during this holy Season of Lent. By the good works You inspire, help me to discipline my body and to be renewed in spirit.

Without You, I can do nothing. By Your Spirit help me to know what is right and to be eager in doing Your will. Teach me to find new life through penance. Keep me from sin, and help me live by Your commandment of love.

God of love, bring me back to You. Send Your Spirit to make me strong in faith and active in good works. May my acts of penance bring me Your forgiveness, open my heart to Your love, and prepare me for the coming feast of the Resurrection of Jesus.

Lord, during this Lenten Season nourish me with Your word of life and make me one with You in love and prayer.

Fill my heart with Your love and keep me faithful to the Gospel of Christ. Give me the grace to rise above my human weakness. Give me new life by Your Sacraments, especially the Mass.

Father, our source of life, I reach out with joy to grasp Your hand; let me walk more readily in Your ways. Guide me in Your gentle mercy, for left to myself I cannot do Your Will.

Father of love, source of all blessings, help me to pass from my old life of sin to the new life of grace. Prepare me for the glory of Your Kingdom.
I ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, Who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, One God, forever. Amen.

Giving Up Darkness: Day 4 Lent 2013

So  I am behind in my blogging efforts so day I will post multiple blog posts in order to catch up!

One of our main focuses during Lent is what we give up! We usually give up things that are temptations to us. In choosing what we are actually giving up for Lent, we should ask ourselves: "How will giving up ___ bring me closer to God?" We should really fast in private, but sometimes, going public holds us accountable! Personally, I think somethings are okay for public purpose if it serves God. Other things we battle should be private.

Lent for me (in the past) has gone either 1 of 3 ways: (1) start off strong, then tinker off towards about week 4-6. (2) start off weak and fail, then get motivated to start back up about mid way. (3) do nothing at all.
I think my worst times in life were those Lenten seasons that I choose to do nothing. I am having a hard time this Lent, but I am getting back on track. I think trying is better than ignoring. Sometimes the devil tries to block our priorities. This Lent, it seems he is doing a good job of that- BUT HE ISN'T GOING TO WIN.

Ask yourself- "Is what I am doing, bringing me closer or farther away from God" That very statement is pretty powerful! What we see in the light doesn't look nearly as "good" to us as it does in the dark, but we need the light to move closer- we need a bit of uncomfortableness to be "fixed."

“The Christian soul knows it needs Divine Help and therefore turns to Him Who loved us even while we were yet sinners. Examination of conscience, instead of inducing morbidity, thereby becomes an occasion of joy. There are two ways of knowing how good and loving God is. One is by never losing Him, through the preservation of innocence, and the other is by finding Him after one has lost Him. Repentance is not self-regarding, but God-regarding. It is not self-loathing, but God-loving. Christianity bids us accept ourselves as we really are, with all our faults and our failings and our sins. In all other religions, one has to be good to come to God—in Christianity one does not. Christianity might be described as a “come as you are” party. It bids us stop worrying about ourselves, stop concentrating on our faults and our failings, and thrust them upon the Saviour with a firm resolve of amendment. The examination of conscience never induces despair, always hope…Because examination of conscience is done in the light of God’s love, it begins with a prayer to the Holy Spirit to illumine our minds. A soul then acts toward the Spirit of God as toward a watchmaker who will fix our watch. We put a watch in his hands because we know he will not force it, and we put our souls in God’s hands because we know that if he inspects them regularly they will work as they should…it is true that, the closer we get to God, the more we see our defects. A painting reveals few defects under candlelight, but the sunlight may reveal it as daub. The very good never believe themselves very good, because they are judging themselves by the Ideal. In perfect innocence each soul, like the Apostles at the Last Supper, cries out, “Is it I, Lord” (Matt. 26:22).”

― Fulton J. Sheen, Peace of Soul: Timeless Wisdom on Finding Serenity and Joy by the Century's Most Acclaimed Catholic Bishop


The L Word

"L" word.... "L" word? There are a few that come to mind. Today, I am posting for my Lenten Blogging Challenge: Days 2 and 3. I would give you some awesome idea as to why I conjoined the two days, but the truth is, I am full of excuses. I got really busy at work and have not been in the "mood" to blog. REGARDLESS if I am in the mood or not, I asked myself, "Was Jesus in the mood to show The Father how much he loved him?" Which perfectly transitions me to getting back to the title of my post: the "L" word. All day Thursday I was doubting myself into doing this blogging challenge: "How would I have enough faith filled ideas to share? What exactly would I write about? I didn't do anything charitable yet, and it is 4:37 p.m." (if you aren't following me on why I am talking about charity or setting standards for alms giving, read my previous post here.

So, back to the story- as I pondered about my acts of charity that very afternoon, I then remembered that I had done something! On Friday, I did many things. Today though, was what mended it all together. As I read "Aim Higher" in Eucharistic Adoration this afternoon, I noticed a common theme in all of this: Love. So, if you haven't guessed it by now, today is going to explore the idea of Love, through Jesus and Our Lady.

In part one of the collection of his writings, St. Maximilian Kolbe writes "We name her Lady, but this title places us at a distance from her maternal heart. We call her Queen, but here we must add that she is the Queen of hearts, the Queen of love. Her law is love, and her power is motherly love. These and similar explanations, although they are brought forward without end, will not even tell a part of what the soul feels when it is consumed by love of her. It experiences in itself that the Immaculata belongs to it more and more under every aspect, and yet realizes that these are put the beginnings of knowing and loving her... Mary always was to us a most tender Mother, and is now and always will be, in life and death and eternity.  Let us recall this truth to ourselves often in external difficulties, but especially in those most grievous internal ones."

We have all fought or will all fight or are all fighting internal and external difficulties. One of mine that this blog is centered upon is infertility. Although I am in 3 1/2 years into the struggle, I find that by asking God to show me how he wants me to parent, opens me up to love.

My charity, 90 percent of the time, comes from being a teacher. I am not a biological or foster parent to the 125 students I teach each year, but I am a parent. I put lunch money in lunch accounts, I buy supplies, I purchase school clothes, I hug, I give 25 cents here and there, I give rides home and sometimes I even grab dinner. I am privileged enough to feel a grain of sand of the feelings Mary felt when she loved Jesus. She knew he was hers to watch, but ultimately he belonged to someone else. It was her job to love him, as it is my job to love my students.

(this blog is longer than expected sorry, but I would like to share an intimate story with you)

I feel the closest to God when I do things for others. I don't do it to toot my own horn, or so that they will return the favor, I have just always been a giver. One of my students (a girl that lost her mother a year ago and has a father busy doing other things), asked for a ride home one day. She walks a 1/2 mile to school, but that afternoon it was raining, heavily. As we got to talking on our ride home, I made a wrong turn and we ended up at the local food joint across from the school. She asked if I was getting my dinner, and I told her, "No, I am getting yours. I know your dad doesn't get home until late, and I don't want you to walk in the rain to get supper." She was shy in ordering and I insisted she get the bigger meal PLUS a drink. For someone like her, that was a real treat. She doesn't get to do things like that, especially now that her mother has passed away.  As the rain drops poured on the windshield, we waited for her dinner order to cook. We got to talking about her home life and what she wanted to be when she grew up. For that moment in time, I felt my purpose. I understood that for whatever reason, she needed those 10 minutes of love. I knew she wasn't my daughter, but for that moment in time, she was mine to protect. We had a great moment and when I pulled up in her drive way, she gave me a hug and went back to the life she was given. It seemed that with her getting out of the car, her dreams we discussed, dissipated in the wind. I think that day, she realized that she wasn't who she was born into and that's okay.

That last sentence applies to all of us. Sometimes, we do not have the ideal life. Sometimes, we do not even have parents. We aren't who or what we are born in to.....No, we are children of God- we will always have a mother in Our Lady; we will always have a redeemer in Christ. We are designed to love one another, and to feel love through our acts of charity is one great way to show God that during this Lenten season, we are saying "Yes" to his call. Giving up our time, or talent, or treasure to someone that could never repay us, is an unconditional love that we are designed for.

I get asked quite often if I like working at the school I work at (because it is an "inner-city" school "type" of school). Sometimes I am not sure what exactly to say, but most of the time, I reply with something like, "I feel I am being called there to parent. I might not like it some days, and I might love it other days, but it is what I am supposed to be doing."

Somtimes charity can be smiling at that mother at the grocery store that is having a hard time, sometimes charity is giving the homeless man ten dollars, sometimes charity is bringing soup to a friend, but let us not forget, charity, when we feel most helpless, comes in the form of prayer.

Happy Lent Y'all!

-Annie B


Lenten Blog Post Challenge: Day 1- Ash Wednesday

Good morning love birds, and Happy St. Valentine's Day to you! Happy Lent to you as well! I have decided to do a Lenten blogging challenge for the Lenten season: blog each day, only about Lent, which includes the three main parts: prayer, fasting, and alms giving. Although Lenten fasting, prayer and alms giving is a private challenge between you and God, I am blogging partly about what I praying about, fasting about, and how I can give to others. Not all details will be given, but some will. I am not here to "toot my own horn" rather to inspire my readers on thier Lenten Journey!

Each day, I will reflect in a blog post about those three parts of Lent and how they are challenging and gifting me from the day before. Lent isn't just about giving up Diet Coke it is about going into the dessert. Jesus didn't do what was bearable, for us; he did what was unbearable. Putting limits on our Lenten Season, is like putting limits on God-- who does that?

If you aren't Catholic, your might be thinking things like "What is with the ashes?" or "I don't do Lent." If you are Catholic, you might be thinking, "Well, I would give up the Internet, but I need it for work" or "I would give up Diet Coke, but I am not a morning person" or I would give up my smart phone, but I need it for [insert excuse here].." You get the point. The bottom line Valentines, is that Lent is not about being mildly uncomfortable-- it is about sacrifice. Sacrifice comes in three parts: Prayer, Fasting, and Alms giving. Sacrifice to me is about giving your time to God (prayer); giving your addiction to God (fasting); giving to others as you would to God (charity/alms giving). This video is a great 2 minute response to some of those statements you might have had, Catholic or not!

Ash Wednesday is always a day I look forward to. Then when it gets here, I start doubting myself of the challenge at hand. I start to lower my standards each year, as to not feel the "uncomfortable-ness" that I need to be feeling. So I try to open with prayer that morning(usually in the shower or in the car) and I ask God to open me to his possibilities. I ask him to show me what he wants me to do through him.

Fasting was difficult yesterday, especially with a migraine...I wasn't perfect, He doesn't expect me to be-- but I tried! I will do better. I don't think the goal is to be perfect, but to acknowledge what I am fasting from and try to better tomorrow, than I was today.

Funny thing- when you doubt God or Our Lady, they kind of "keep popping up!" The evening prior to Ash Wednesday was difficult for me, and in that moment of difficulty at dinner, Cody came to sit next to me. He started to laugh....when I looked up at what he saw, It was Our Lady of Perpetual Help-- right above, keeping watch over our booth in the restaurant. Yesterday, I doubted Our Lady again, and her beautiful statue was across the street of the house I was visiting! Sometimes in prayer, I am silent, and sometimes I am long-winded..But He knows all that we need, doubt, struggle with, and love.

On my way to my friends house (what I thought was my act of charity yesterday) I saw a woman walking. Although I live in Texas, yesterday was a brisk 51* and it was damp. She had no shoes, no coat, and holy jeans. I glanced over and felt pain. 30 seconds later I pulled over. I saw the face of God in her. She had a cigarette in her mouth, but I saw the face of God in her.

I hope you enjoy my Lenten Blogging Challenge!

"Remember, Man is dust, and unto dust you shall return."

- Annie B


Pancakes at the Kitchen Table

For as long as I can remember, going to grandma’s house was in my normal routine. I practically lived there twenty percent of my childhood (totally by choice) because it was there that my imagination developed; it was there that I could be an only child. My grandparents lived in Victoria, Texas, just a few miles away. On Fridays I looked forward to spending the night at their house; on Saturday, I called my parents to tell them that I would be staying another day, and on Sunday I packed my bags and went home. I was many things at my grandparents’ house—a beautician—styling my grandfathers “hair” (he was bald), a dental hygienist—working on the teeth of my baby dolls, a bride—wearing the old fashioned wedding dress my grandmother picked up at the salvation army and placed in the blue chest under the bed, and my favorite—a librarian—placing all of my books on the bed and requiring my grandparents to come to the library and check out books. Not only did I have a grand imagination at my grandparents’, I also learned about life and responsibility. I learned about polishing silver, dusting, recycling, and sweeping the porch, traveling, playing games and baking.

Grandma loved to bake. Every time I walked in the door, I went straight for the office space in her cozy home, to the peacock blue cookie jar. Most of the time, there were homemade sugar cookies in the jar, but every now and then grandma would change it up and put chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies! The best part about going to grandma’s house was that she taught us how to do things. One summer I remember learning to sew, one summer, learning to water color on canvas. But the thing grandma really enjoyed teaching us, was how to cook.

Another weekend at grandma's was underway. As I woke that Saturday morning, my grandfather was already at the table with freshly made coffee in hand. My grandmother was whipping up her homemade, melt-in-your-mouth pancakes and homemade maple syrup. We gathered at that little awkward table, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, games, baking, and talking. The table at my grandparents’ home was attached to the wall and adjacent to the counter top—it was a table that no one else I knew, had. It was a half oval and sat three people. It was perfect for me, grandma, and grandpa! I always sat at the “head of the table.” The kitchen was petite; it represented a gathering place, a place of comfort in the home. Grandma was just about finished with her pancakes, when she reached in the fridge to get her jar of homemade syrup. She warmed it on the stove, and she piled high the pancakes for grandpa and me. She drizzled the stack with warm and gooey syrup and brought the crispy bacon to the table.

Grandpa just couldn’t wait, and he dove right in to the warm and fluffy delight. When he did, his face portrayed the look that the pancakes tasted horrible. Grandpa never complained and we weren't allowed to say something tasted "pretty good" because grandma said that was opposite of complimenting the cook, so he continued to eat them. Grandma said, “How are the pancakes Buddy, Annie?” Grandpa replied, “Well, Betty, did you change your recipe?” Astonished, she answered, “No!” Grandma ran over to the table and bit into her fluffy pancakes doused in hot maple syrup, and started laughing. We were wondering WHAT was going on. Grandma said to us, “When I reached in the refrigerator to get the jar of homemade pancake syrup, I must have grabbed the wrong jar.” She went over to the stove and dipped her finger in the “syrup”. To her surprise it wasn’t syrup at all! It was unsweetened tea! My grandmother stored leftovers in glass jars in her refrigerator and syrup and tea were the same color, so I can see how she confused the two! She threw out the stacks of ruined pancakes and started mixing up another batch. This time when she set our pink, floral china on the table with our golden pancakes, I said, “Mmmm, good grandma!” We ate until our bellies were going to pop! Grandpa and I told her we would never let her forget this day in the kitchen!

What I enjoyed most about eating pancakes at my grandparents’ home was that it represented so much more than breakfast. It was the start of a new day, a place where my imagination began. It was then where we planned our activities, chores, talked about our dreams, and read the comics. A few years later, we planned to have our own pancake shop. As we thought of the details of our shop, I told grandma we would have a big pancake hanging outside on her front porch, for passersby to sample. I told her she would be flipping the cakes and I would be the waitress. I told her she would have to sample the syrup a our pancake shop so that our customers would keep coming back. She smiled.

Here are some pictures of Grandma Betty

 My Grandma, my cousins, and me:

My Grandmother and my Mom

*Today in my class, we are reading a memoir and then creating one of our own, so I decided to write one while my students were writing. This is what came to mind! Hope you enjoyed my blog post deviation!

~Annie B