Tuesday, March 11, 2014

40 Bags Inspiration from the Gospel

Last Lent I mentioned this same scripture as something of an inspiration for this challenge.  I found it rather fitting that this was the scripture reading the last Sunday of Ordinary Time.  I meant to write about this earlier, but alas the day to day activity of a young family prohibited it.  So here is my inspiration for our continued journey to de-clutter this Lent.  

Gospel MT 6:24-34

Jesus said to his disciples:
“No one can serve two masters.
He will either hate one and love the other,
or be devoted to one and despise the other.
You cannot serve God and mammon.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life,
what you will eat or drink,
or about your body, what you will wear.
Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
Look at the birds in the sky;
they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns,
yet your heavenly Father feeds them.
Are not you more important than they?
Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?
Why are you anxious about clothes?
Learn from the way the wild flowers grow.
They do not work or spin.
But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor
was clothed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass of the field,
which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow,
will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?
So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’
or ‘What are we to drink?’or ‘What are we to wear?’
All these things the pagans seek.
Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Sufficient for a day is its own evil.”

Much of our life revolves around our quality of life.  For many of us this quality of life centers around our house, our belongings, our clothing and for our little children the number of toys they have compared to their siblings.  As the gospel points out we cannot serve two masters.  So the question is, are we serving our desire's hold over us to attain a certain status with stuff, or are we serving our Lord with the blessings he has gifted us.  

So this Lent, as I've mentioned before, I'm eliminating duplicates.  I have two knife stands on my counter.  Do I need both?  NO!  I do use knives from both, but I can get by with one so another family can use the one I don't NEED.  My closet has a couple of items that look similar.  Do I need both of them or are they similar enough to be interchangeable?  My children have too many toys.  Does my son really need matchbox cars and the Tonka cars?  No.  So I will be teaching my children the lesson of simplifying our lives.  

Good luck on your 40 Bags.  I hope you are able to use this as a teaching/evangelizing lesson for your family or community.  

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Are your 40 Bags ready for use?

As I mentioned yesterday I'm trying to get my home life in order after my disastrous 2013 (home organization/time speaking).  With that, I'm constantly looking around my home to see what needs to be done in order for my life to operate more efficiently.  With that thought process in mind I determined my new goal for this 2014: 40 Bags Challenge.  I will be eliminating duplicates.  I plan to purge/donate/sell anything that I have double of.  Last year I was focusing on everything having a home.  It was going fairly well until it wasn't. I still plan to do that as we all know from toy organization (or lack of), a home base for all items is essential to organization.

Duplicity is evident in every area of my home.  My kitchen has two butcher block knife sets.  I have a tendency to own multiples of one kind of clothing item.  Books on the same topics, coats, pans, crafting stuff, cookbooks.  I'm sure some of you will find that is true in your home too.

In years past I've gone room by room.  With my new goal in mind for this year I am going by bag count.  That way if I have an unexpected event that causes me to miss a day I won't be bound by room delegations.

What are your plans for this years Challenge?  If you haven't thought ahead maybe you should start.  Lent will be here before you know it!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Words on Baptism

Well what timing do we have for our discussion on the Sacraments?  Sunday was the celebration of the baptism of Christ. This was wonderfully insightful for me in prep for our meeting.  I happened to be in Pasco, WA for the weekend so I heard a different homily than most of you.  Here are a few of the main points I got from Mass.

This first point can be used for all age groups, but I'm thinking I will use it mostly for the younger kids.  Fr. Luta used the analogy of a "Seed of Grace."  When we're born we're all born with the desire for God's Grace or soil rich for cultivation.  Baptism serves as a way of planting the "Seed of Grace" and the additional sacraments serve to water that seed. I found this to be an easy way of describing it in terms my 5 year old could understand.

The other portion of homily that really struck me was with regards to infant baptism.  This is a good conversation to have teenagers or converts to the faith.  Often times when our teens (I'm writing in general as I don't have teens yet) have discussions with friends regarding faith, their N.D. Christian friends don't understand why we baptize babies.  The example given was that of vaccinations.  We don't wait to vaccinate our children until their old enough to choose to be safe from mumps or diphtheria.  So why would we wait to plant the "Seed of God's Grace" in our children.  Fr. Luta reminded us that during the conversion of early Christians entire families were baptized:  parents, children, babies, grandparents, cousins.  God's Grace was freely given as it should still be today.

As always your experience and wisdom is encouraged and welcomed.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Sacraments at all ages

This winter we'll be focusing on the sacraments. Our intention is to learn how to teach our children the faith.  Many of us are knowledgeable on all 7, while others only have the educational level of our CCD classes.  In thinking about our upcoming discussions I was struck with the need to be prepared based on age groups.  I'm quite certain I'll discuss these beautiful mysteries differently now for my little children than I will in 10 years from now.

Words or phrases I can remember as a kid are gifts, physical actions, representations. These were used to describe the sacraments in general.  I'm not sure how old I was when these were taught to me.   I remember images of grapes, bread, water, fire, doves and candles from my long ago CCD classes.  My hope is that by the time we're done with our study, each one of us will be better prepared to take our initial knowledge, the groups experiences and a spiritual connection to each sacrament and talk freely with our children about what we've know.

In prayer for this session, a word I've thought of (or been inspired with) in regards to the sacraments is Promises.  The sacraments serve as a promise, both from God and from us.  I'll explain further in a different post.  Take some time to think of ways you've had the sacraments described to you or that you've used to describe them.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Read with an accent

Thank you Kelley for the inspiration for this weeks thought process.  I'd like us all to read with an Australian Accent.  Now I don't mean this literally. Well, maybe I do.

In the second half of this chapter Matthew Kelley discusses Incremental Spirituality.  He means to move things forward one step at a time, "losing weight, paying off debt, writing a book, improving your marriage, running long distances," yada yada yada.  I want to take this one step sideways in addition to forward.

Approach these steps with some flair or an accent.  Maybe I'll approach my workout goals with a Transilvanian accent.  I'll draw on my inner vampire and workout at night.  Or I could approach my marriage with a French accent (hugh hugh hugh) if you know what I mean. Or I could approach parenting with a British accent and work on my Super Nanny Skills.  I'll start reading my bank statements in Yiddish in hopes my finances will be easier.  I know I've just about thrown out every stereotype there is, my apologies. :D

We may approach this book and feel as though we're bad Catholics, or that we'll never be able to attain the 7% status.  Lets look at this journey into Dynamic Catholic-hood with some fun and a colorful approach.
Happy Reading!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Happy Song Post

On an unrelated note, my daughter's preschool teacher plays a song at the end of class each day.  It brings back fond memories and makes me happy to hear her sing it at home.  Thankfully I have it in my iTunes and can play it for her when she asks.

So enjoy this song and ponder how well it fits into the book's theme.

Intro to "The Four Signs of a Dynamic Catholic"

We begin this fall with an exciting book!  I'm thankful we had the opportunity to begin the DVD last week and feel it has put many of us in the right frame of mind for this book.  Before you begin reading or if I missed getting this up in time for most of you please ponder these questions.

"If you get the man right, 
you get the world right." - pg. 7

As many of us remember from our previous book and the DVD we watched, the author stresses that we "become the best version of ourselves."  What is holding us back from becoming the best version of ourselves: our mental state,  addictions, lack of exercise, short temper, are finances weighing me down, am I getting enough sleep, how am I treating my spouse or children, how is my spiritual health? Did I just describe you?  I know I just described myself with each of these instances.  We may have one or the other to overcome.  Some may be easier to overcome than others.  I know I cannot simply wish my infant to sleep through the night.  I know my finances will take some time.  My own parenting style has developed into habits that I am continually trying to improve and adjust as my children's behavior adjusts. What positive steps am I taking to overcome obstacles in each of these areas?  Am I being supportive of others who are trying to deal with these same issues?

In preparing to read this chapter consider this, what do you think is the difference between the engaged and disengaged Catholics?  And remember while reading, focus on yourself.  Am I one of the 7% the author is speaking about in both the positive and negative aspects?  How can acknowledging these yin and yang aspects of the 7% help me to achieve the best version of myself.

We'll be discussion questions 2-4 of Study Guide this week and the remaining questions next week after we finish the chapter.

"By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4