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Ink Slingers Mary Beth

Murky Waters and Marvelous Mornings

 

Murky Waters and Marvelous MondaysTo passersbys, I must have looked like some kind of crazed fisherman. There I was, standing at the end of our dock, thrusting a weighty, steel pond rake deep into the water, and then pulling it slowly and awkwardly back up to the dock with a rope. Maybe they thought I was angling for supper. Maybe they thought I had spied some kind of mini-Loch Ness monster and was vying for a spot in Ripley’s Believe it or Not. Maybe they thought it was some strange kind of aerobic exercise program I was into. Or maybe they are used to seeing weird things going on around our place and paid no attention (this seems the likely response). Whatever the case, I looked ridiculous. But I didn’t care. One of my dock chairs, a vintage “hotel chair” that I had recently refurbished, had fallen victim to a vicious thunderstorm and had plunged into our pond. I couldn’t allow my prized Pinterest project to rust away at the muddy bottom; I was determined to fish it out.

The biggest problem, aside from the utter clumsiness of the process, was that I had no idea where the chair might be. The pond water was murky and unsettled after the storm and I couldn’t see a thing. I was casting randomly, from one side of the dock to the other, and even into the deepest water off the edge of the dock, to no avail. I was sweating, the rake was heavy, and the rope tied to the handle of the rake was leaving angry marks on my palms. I was getting nowhere fast, so I decided to abandon my efforts and resort to my typical Plan B: Ask my husband to do it. Plan B usually works, but this time hubby was busy and couldn’t get to my request right away. I was disgruntled and discouraged.

The next morning, I walked out to the dock prepared to begin my rake-flinging spectacle once again when I stopped and smiled. There was the chair, in a mere six feet of water off the side of the dock. Six feet of clear water. I was amazed; I could see it plain as day. I waded in a few feet, grabbed the bottom rung of the chair and pulled it right out. No need for flinging, no need for acrobatics, and no fear of onlookers questioning my sanity.

Later, I pondered this development in my prayer journal: What a difference a day makes, Lord, I wrote. Many times I am faced with a challenge, and the situation seems overwhelmingly cloudy and confusing. I’m not sure which way to go. Nothing I try seems to work. I get disgruntled and discouraged. And then morning comes. I have rested, I have pondered, I have prayed. Things are now clearer. The solution appears. I can proceed.

The experts tell us to wait 24 hours before responding to a complicated or contentious situation that needs our response. There’s a truth behind that practice, my friends: The passage of time gives us a chance to calm down, gather more information, and regain perspective. For us Christians, it also allows us a chance to pray and ask the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance and the right words to use or the best action to take. Waiting—and praying— can bring about a much better result.

Are you in the middle of a puzzling situation, Sista? A day makes a difference. Rest, ponder, pray. Try not to worry. Give the murky waters time to settle and the Holy Spirit time to work. You’ll be amazed at what a fresh outlook the morning brings— with no fear of sea monsters, sore hands or becoming the talk of the neighborhood.

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Ink Slingers Lent Liturgical Year Mary Beth Prayer

The Answer is Always the Same

The Answer is Always the Same

It never fails.

Whenever I am in need, or can’t figure out something, or have to make an important decision, I try to first offer my question to God. It could be composed in my prayer journal. It could be in the form of a petition during Mass. Or it could be whispered in the dark of a sleepless night. But no matter what the question or quandary, I hear the same answer loud and clear from Him lately: “More of Me.” 

That’s it. He wants me to draw nearer to Him, to pray more to Him, to ask Him to reign ever more completely over my life. That’s His answer to my problems big and small—More of Him. It’s not an easy answer to accept. I would rather He just go ahead and fix it, thank you very much—whatever “it” is: Just answer my question or solve this problem and we can all move on, God. But that’s not how He typically works. Instead, He wants us to lean on Him harder and lean into Him deeper whenever we are at a crossroads.  

When I was anxious over an upcoming event, and my imagination was running wild with concocted scenes of public humiliation (one, in particular, involving a trip-and-face-plant exhibition in front of hundreds of people), I asked for confidence and reassurance. I heard this: “More of Me.” When I was confused by an emotional response I was having in a relationship and I turned to God for clarity, the answer was once again clear: “More of Me.” 

And, not long ago, I was distraught, fearful and borderline angry over a family situation. I wanted to turn my back on God with an “I’ll show him” attitude and not even crack open my prayer journal or my Bible or go to Mass or confession or Adoration. But I was stopped by the words I kept hearing whispered in my heart:  “More of Me.” So I begrudgingly kept at it. I showed up at Mass, prayer journaled daily when I was so not in the mood, and unenthusiastically recited my rosary (all the while moaning and groaning about my situation of course).  Yet I could tell, deep down, that it was working. More of Him kept me going, pushing through the hurt and pain and confusion until at long last I emerged on the other side with a renewed sense of peace. 

I do get answers to my issues in one way or another, eventually. But more importantly, graces are poured into my heart. Courage is instilled in my shaky spine and calm is restored to my soul. I change. I grow spiritually. I trust Him more. I end up with fresh faith. Every. Single. Time.

But—here’s the catch—I only receive these benefits after I’ve sought More of Him. Which, not coincidentally, calls for Less of Me: Less of my self-sufficient attitude, less of my pride and stubbornness, less of my willingness to easily give in to the evil one’s constant offering of doubt, discouragement, and disappointment.  

This tiny revelation is going to help me immensely in the future, I know. There are dark tunnels ahead for me, and for all of us Catholic Sistas, truth be told. They’re inevitable. But I can picture myself going through the dark tunnels singing because I know how to make it through to the other side.  I know if I stay close to him, dive even deeper into his Word, get more intentional about receiving the Sacraments and spending daily time with Him in prayer—if I seek MORE of Him—I will be fine. Everything will be fine. Even when it isn’t. 

More of Him.

It never fails. 

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Books Ink Slingers Martina Reviews

REVIEW: Walking Holy Week with Jesus – A Prayer Journal

REVIEW: Walking Holy Week with Jesus

Lent has barely begun, and yet here we are talking about ways to enhance your Holy Week. Welp, one of my Lenten resolutions is to think further ahead and be a better planner when it comes to spiritual growth. 

So, reviewing Sara Estabrook’s prayer journal, Walking Holy Week with Jesus, just seemed like a good fit with my Lenten discipline. And here we are-you and I-contemplating what that final week of Lent will look like. Ahead of time. With no panic. Just mapping out how we can make this week spiritually fruitful and get the most out of it. See, doesn’t this feel good? 😀

Shall we look at the prayer journal? 🙂

This journal is simple – perfect for anyone who isn’t a “journaling” type. The breakdown is also beautifully simple, divided into four main categories as it walks you through each day of Holy Week:

  • the daily readings
  • reflection
  • prayer
  • journal prompt to write

The prompts place you inside the Scripture reading, much like Lectio Divina. 


PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

With this prayer journal, you’ll experience Holy Week in a whole new way. Each day from the Saturday before Palm Sunday through the Resurrection has Bible readings, reflections, prayers, and journal prompts to help you immerse yourself in the reality of Jesus’ Passion, death and Resurrection.

Imagine yourself encountering Holy Week for the first time. Place yourself into history. You’ll walk by His side every step of the way. You’ll experience the fear, the pain, the suffering, and finally, the joy of this pivotal week in Salvation History.

FEATURES

– 9 days of Bible readings, reflections, prayers, and journal prompts
– 37 pages
– space for journaling your thoughts and prayers
– written by Sara Estabrooks
– cover and journal art by Ingrid Blixt
– theology check by Fr. Joseph Tito of St. Mary Church, Baltic CT

Availability

Single quantities ($10 each)

COUPON CODE {single quantity only}: CATHOLICSISTASLENT18 – this coupon is good through February 22, 2018

Parish packs (15 journals for $115)