From Potatoes to Roses – God Transforms Our Efforts

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

My husband and I recently celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary. There have been blessings and trials, joy and sorrow, times that were blissful and those that were very difficult over the past two decades. I am so thankful for his patience, kindness, and faithfulness through all of the ups and downs of life. He has surely been a strong rock for our family in both good times and bad.

Over the years, some of the duties that used to be fun and bring me joy have become more tedious and burdensome, one of these being cooking. As I began peeling some potatoes to add to a beef stew I was making recently, I was acutely aware of how monotonous this task was and my spirit recoiled from the job. The Holy Spirit then reminded me of a beautiful story from the Diary of Saint Faustina which brought me much comfort and encouragement. In the story, Sr. Faustina was tasked with draining potatoes in the kitchen in preparation for the sisters’ supper; however, she found that her body was too weak for the job and she often spilled the water and some of the potatoes. Sr. Faustina brought the matter to prayer, to which Jesus responded, “From today on you will do this easily; I shall strengthen you.” (Diary, 65)

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Trusting in Jesus’ words, she eagerly approached the job of draining potatoes that evening. Not only did she perform the duty without mishap, but, miraculously, when she looked into the pot, she discovered that the potatoes had been transformed into “whole bunches of red roses, beautiful beyond description.” (Diary 65) Jesus explained the miracle to her with these words, “I change such hard work of yours into bouquets of beautiful flowers, and their perfume rises up to my throne.” (Diary 65)

Like Saint Faustina’s roses, Jesus can turn our hard work and labors into beautiful flowers if we perform them with love and devotion for Him. He sees our diligence even when no one else does. Every miniscule task and duty we perform with a willing spirit for our families is lovingly received by Him, who will reward us in His own way like He did with St. Faustina by the miracle of the roses. Our duties do not have to be meaningless chores we perform grudgingly. By offering them up with patience and love like St. Faustina did, our actions are transformed into something beautiful for God and others.

Recalling this story uplifts and encourages me not only because of the miraculous nature of this event in the life of St. Faustina, but also because it serves as a reminder to me that Jesus cares about every aspect of our lives and is concerned about all of our problems and difficulties. No care or worry is too insignificant to bring to Him in prayer. We can expect that He listens to each of our needs and will respond to our petitions when we trust Him to act.

St. Augustine encourages us to continue faithfully in our work for Christ and reminds us that our ultimate reward will be in Heaven:

“Let us apply ourselves energetically in the present life and hope in the future. Now is the time for painful struggle; then will come the recompense.” 

St. Augustine

When we feel discouraged and our efforts seem to go unnoticed or unrewarded, let us remember that Our Lord sees all of our actions, and our hard work is pleasing to Him. In this season of Advent, a time of waiting for Christmas, we can increase our prayers and good works in preparation and anticipation of the coming of Jesus, our King, who sees and rewards us for all that we do in His name.

On Mothers and Shepherds

Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Mobile Al

It’s Mother’s Day and I am praying for my own mom, my mother-in-law, and all mothers, whether biological or adoptive, or those who are spiritual mothers and care for people in need around them. With all of the hype surrounding Roe vs. Wade and the leaked Supreme Court draft this past week indicating that the decision may be overturned, I am especially thinking of those who are affected by abortion in any way – the millions of babies whose lives have been extinguished by this heinous practice, mothers who have chosen to abort their child, and anyone else whose life has been impacted by this dreadful decision.

It is also Good Shepherd Sunday when the gospel reads, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow me.” (Jn 10:27) We are the sheep that Jesus is speaking of. Jesus uses two verbs in this verse: “hear” and “follow.” We must not only hear his words and instructions, but we are expected to listen to an obey his commands, or “follow” Him.

Being very independent and, at times, headstrong, I have had to learn over the years how to follow – Jesus and others. I must admit, at times in the past my nature has caused me to forge ahead with my own plans without pausing to “hear and follow” the words of Jesus through prayer, in Scripture, and by listening to and heeding the words and advice of those around me. Like many young people, there were times in my youth when I did wander off the path, though, through the grace of God, I never left the flock of the Catholic Church.

This Good Shepherd Sunday and Mother’s Day, I am grateful for my own mother’s love and patience with me. She has always been there for me and I am so blessed to call her my mom. I am also thankful for the heavenly guidance of our Blessed Mother, who has led me back to the arms of the Shepherd whenever I have started to wander. I love the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd, carrying the stray sheep on his shoulders back to the flock. The idea is beautifully presented also in Luke 15:

“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy.” (Lk 15:4-5)

Not only is the sheep tenderly carried on the man’s shoulders, but he celebrates with his friends and neighbors over its return.

Image by Myriams-Fotos from Pixabay

Thank you, Jesus, for the times you lovingly carried me home when I was lost. Through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother, help me to hear and follow your words and to be always faithful to your will in all things. Amen.

The Grace of Fasting Well

Image by: congerdesign from Pixabay

As Lent was approaching, reflecting on which penances and spiritual practices I felt would help me best grow in holiness and prepare for the Passion, Death, and Resurrection of Jesus, I felt a strong call to focus my attention on the practice of fasting. The Season of Lent is synonymous with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, and, of the three, fasting has always been the most difficult and burdensome for me. I recalled that when I had successfully and fruitfully fasted in the past was only when I was depending upon God to give me the grace to do so and not because of my own efforts. In fact, it seemed in the past that the harder I tried to fast using my own strength and willpower, the more colossally I failed each time. Resolving to try harder did not yield the results I wanted; instead, I tended to fast for a few days or weeks only to give in to temptation and at times abandon my resolutions. With this realization, I resolved to ask Jesus for the grace to fast well, with the proper disposition and intentions, and to depend on Him to supply the grace to do so.

In the book The Ways of Mental Prayer by Rev. Dom Vitalis Lehodey, we are instructed that “In the spiritual life there are two great principles which should never be forgotten:  Without grace, we can do nothing; with it, we can do all things.” Reading and reflecting upon these principles, I was struck with the reality that I could apply this wisdom to my difficulties regarding fasting. By asking prayerfully for the grace to fast well, I could expect that God would hear my prayer and grant me this grace as I undertook my Lenten fasts and penances. I remembered that I have always been told by wise spiritual directors that God grants our prayers if they will be beneficial for our salvation; therefore, why would He not grant me this grace if I ask humbly and earnestly? After all, Jesus promised us in the gospel of Matthew, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. (Matt 7:7-8) Hopeful and expectant that this year during Lent I would be able to fast more generously, I thanked Jesus in advance for this grace, trusting that He would supply the strength and resolve I needed to do so. 

As Catholics, we are obliged to fast and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and to practice abstinence on all Fridays during Lent. Fasting permits us to eat one full meal along with two smaller meals that together do not equal a full meal. In addition, we are encouraged to undertake some other forms of sacrifice or penance during Lent to help us to prepare for the Holy Triduum, the most important days of our Church year. If you are like me and have difficulty fasting from certain foods and giving up things we enjoy, do not despair! With God’s grace, we can learn to make these sacrifices by starting with small offerings – a dessert here, a cup of coffee there – and be assured that Jesus accepts our penances if they are done humbly and with good intent.

We deny ourselves food and other pleasures for many reasons, often to lose weight and be healthy. However, in fasting, there are more perfect reasons for giving up the foods we enjoy. The best motive for self-denial is to do it for Jesus. We can offer up our sacrifices to Him in reparation for our sins in union with His Passion and Death on the Cross.  God loves us so much that He sent His only son to suffer and die for our sins. He didn’t want us to suffer here on earth alone, but instead, he took on our human nature to accompany us in bearing our crosses. Shouldn’t this Love motivate all of us to make little sacrifices and endure a little discomfort and hunger for Him?

Knowing that our sacrifices can help others can also motivate us to give up pleasures such as food and entertainment. After I began writing this article, our family received the devastating news of my youngest sister’s cancer diagnosis.  Once the shock began to wear off and we began to accept this new, difficult reality, my resolve to fast and sacrifice was strengthened, as I knew I would be offering my penances for her peace, comfort, and healing.  I began asking Jesus to receive all of my fasting for the good of my sister and to help her gain strength, healing, and grace on her journey.

Along with helping others on earth, we can offer our fasts and sacrifices for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, who are desperately in need of our assistance. We can remember those family members and friends who have gone to eternal life before us and offer them help by our prayers and actions.

Humbled by my own failure to successfully fast from the things I love, this Lent I am trying something different and leaning on God for the strength and grace to fast. As many of the saints point out, fasting is crucial to growing and maturing in holiness and union with Jesus. As St. Augustine put it, “Fasting cleanses the soul, raises the mind, subjects one’s flesh to the spirit, renders the heart contrite and humble, scatters the clouds of concupiscence, quenches the fire of lust, and kindles the true light of chastity.” We can pray for one another to receive the grace to fast humbly and well so that we will be able to more joyfully and completely celebrate the great Resurrection of our King!

The Daughter of a King

Of the hundreds, maybe thousands of photos that I have snapped since my children were born, this image stands out from among them all as one of my absolute favorites.  It was not staged; it was the capturing of a sweet and sincere gesture of pure love between our tiny child and her Blessed Mother in Heaven.  This moment was a precious gift to us to observe the closeness and intimacy of our children with God and the awe and wonder they possess for things eternal.  It is an intimacy, awe, and wonder that we, as adults, often find ourselves lacking as we become jaded by the hard knocks and difficulties of life. We are not called the Church Militant during our pilgrimage here on earth for nothing! Through the hardships and battles of everyday Christian life, how often we lose that childlike amazement and innocent love for Our Lord and our Mother Mary. 

As our daughters are in the midst of their teenage years, there have been doubts, confusion, and even rebellion at times, as they try to navigate the tumultuous times of middle school and high school.  As parents, we continue to try and practice and instill faith and virtue at home, hoping that the seed falls on rich soil and produces abundantly as our children grow and mature.  We continue to water the soil with prayer and the Sacraments, asking the Holy Spirit to send them wisdom to make good decisions and to live in accordance with God’s Will for their lives.

In addition to our efforts as parents, we are blessed with faithful and loving family and friends to support us in this endeavor of raising children. The love that our children’s grandparents, aunts, and extended family have shown during their formative years has helped to shape them into the kind and caring young ladies they are becoming.  So many teachers, administrators, and friends have contributed to their instruction and well-being and have helped to guide them through their school years. We pray that God will continue to surround our children with Christian friends and mentors as they transition into the college years and adulthood.

I sent this photo to my daughter, who is now 16, today, hoping that it would inspire her to ponder and revisit her devotion to Our Lady and love for her Son which was so evident in the image. My wish is for her to persevere in childlike faith and continue to offer simple gestures of love for her heavenly Mother as she did long ago, and to maintain that sweet, innocent spirit of trust in her and Jesus, even as she matures into a young adult. I also sent her and my other two daughters a simple but profound excerpt from George Macdonald’s “The Princess and the Goblin” which I hope will convey to them the exquisite and incomprehensible value and beauty they possess:

“There once was a little princess who…”

“But, Mr. Author, why do you always write about princesses?”

“Because every little girl is a princess.”

“You will make them vain if you tell them that.”

“Not if they understand what I mean.“

“Then what do you mean by a princess?”

“The Daughter of a King.”

In a world that so often tears down and belittles the spirits of our young girls, and boys as well, these words are a precious reminder of Whose we are and our dignity before Him.  We pray for our children, the future of the Church, that they will know their value in God’s eyes and continue to experience the love of God as they grow into Christian adults.

Forgiveness in the Age of Cancel Culture

Photo by Magda Ehlers from Pexels

Throughout history, we can find victims of terrible atrocities everywhere we look.  Even today, we see victims of injustice in so many circumstances.  Probably each of us can think of a time when we, ourselves, were the receivers of a wrong done to us. 

I was recently listening to Bishop Robert Barron speaking on the radio about the topic of forgiveness.  The conversation focused on how in today’s society, many people and groups are solely focused on retribution for wrongs or hurts done.  In so many instances, we have lost or forgotten the element of mercy and forgiveness.  Bishop Barron warned that this is very dangerous and dark place for our society to be in.  He discussed the idea that when we, as a culture, make the decision to eliminate God from the public sphere, as we have in the past few years and decades, then something more sinister moves in – something dark and foreboding. 

This desire for retribution, or the “cancel culture,” has begun to replace the Christian virtues of charity, mercy, and forgiveness, which Jesus taught through His life, death, and Resurrection. 

Forgiveness does not mean we ignore the hurt that has been done or pretend it didn’t happen.  Bishop Barron continued by asserting that we must, indeed, recognize victims of injustice and work toward a more fair and equal society.  He said that to forgive blindly without acknowledging the wrong that has been done is a form of sentimentality that does not concede the truth.  However, he said that if we are to build a more merciful and Christian society, we must rediscover the virtues of communal forgiveness and relearn the value of love over vengeance and retribution. 

Examples of God’s love and mercy are found throughout the Old Testament, when He forgave His people as they wandered far from Him time and time again.  Jesus’ Divine Mercy toward His executioners, the Good Thief on the Cross, and His apostles, demonstrates His perfect and unending love for us.  Each day, as we lose our way, Our Lord is continually welcoming us back into His arms through the Sacrament of Reconciliation and giving Himself completely to us in the Holy Eucharist. 

Those who engage in today’s “cancel culture” are like the Unforgiving Servant in Matthew’s gospel, who forgot about the great mercy extended to him and exacted harsh justice upon his fellow servant who owed him a much smaller debt.  His master then chastised him by saying, “I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to.  Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” (Matt 18: 32-33)  If we neglect to forgive others their faults and mistakes, we are in danger of meeting a similar fate of the Unforgiving Servant, who was handed over to the torturers until he paid the whole debt. 

Pope Francis, too, reminds us that if Our Lord has forgiven us for our sins, we should strive always to forgive others as well.  In a midday Angelus reflection in September 2020, he stated, “It is necessary to apply merciful love to all human relationships:  between spouses, between parents and children, within our communities, in the Church, and also in society and politics.”

The Holy Father also encourages us to entrust ourselves to Mary Our Mother to help us to embody this virtue of forgiveness and mercy.  He said that if we realize how much we are indebted to God, it will enable us to open our hearts and forgive others’ wrongs against us. 

Forgiveness is not easy, but it is necessary to live a truly Christian life.  It begins within the family and in our communities.  If we can forgive the minor, daily irritations and overlook the faults of those around us, we will learn to let go of the more deep and painful wounds that we have sustained on life’s battlefield.  We can ask Our Lady and the saints to help us in our struggle to exercise mercy and Christian charity when it is most difficult, trusting that they will help us on the way. 

From Disney Princesses to Driver’s Licenses – Letting Go as Our Teens Grow Up

Raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart! I’ve always heard this and known it to be true, but had not experienced it fully until I went for the first drive with my 16-year-old at the wheel. After she had been instructed in driver’s ed class and by my husband, this was my first experience handing over the controls to her and trusting her to bring us safely to our destination. I held my breath, I gasped, and I blurted out, “Stop!” multiple times, but in spite of my panic and fear, we made it there and home in one piece. I learned that she is, in fact, a good driver and can handle a ton of steel on wheels with the best of them.

Part of me was utterly amazed that this, my child from birth, who I fed, changed, and cared for, was actually growing up and becoming more independent and autonomous. She has always needed me to provide food, shelter, clothing, and the other basics of survival, but now, it seems, she is maturing and moving beyond dependency to more self-sufficiency. I am so excited for her to spread her wings and gradually experience the joy of independence, but at the same time, I am admittedly a little nervous about releasing her into the world and trusting her to make good decisions. Just like during our maiden car ride, I am fearful about her ability to travel safely through life and make sound judgments and decisions. I worry about not being there to protect her from the dangers and evils of the world. And mostly, I hope and pray that she comes to know, more and more each day, the joy and beauty of Jesus and our Faith, and that she remains under the protective care of the Church all of her life.

As our children grow and mature, it is necessary to begin to let go and entrust them more to the Lord as they embark on their own adventures and find their place in the world. As I write this, I am aware that my daughter getting her driver’s license is, in a sense, a turning point in our relationship and in her life. Just as she can now leave the house alone and drive to the store or to school, she is, increasingly, becoming more autonomous in many ways and less dependent upon my husband and me. Our hope as parents is that we have demonstrated and instilled in our children the importance of faith and dependence upon God to live happy and fulfilled lives. As they venture out into the world, the most important lesson we can teach them is to continue to be faithful to the Church, to frequent the Sacraments, and to maintain a relationship with God, who guides and sustains us. If we succeed at this, we can be assured that we have given our children a precious treasure, one that will lead them to the greatest of all destinations, eternal life in heaven.

Back to the driving analogy, when in traffic, we make many decisions and judgments about driving the car, often without much time to think about them. As our children become teenagers and young adults, they, too, will face a myriad of decisions, some fairly inconsequential, but some life-altering. What can we teach our children about steering through the thruways and intersections of life and navigating their journeys successfully?

While watching Disney’s Frozen II with my family recently, I was struck by the moment when Anna inspires the audience with her musical, “Do the Next Right Thing,” as she searches for the strength to rise up and move forward in a desperate situation. Sound advice for our young people who are just beginning their journeys from us, as parents, who have faced the trials and difficulties of maturing into adulthood ourselves. “But how do we know what the next right thing is?” you may be wondering. This question Disney fails to answer, but one that the Catholic Church can be trusted to supply wisdom regarding. As a wise priest recently advised in a homily, “If you want to know what to do, stay close to the Church and to Jesus.” It is here, in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession, that we hear the voice of Jesus speaking to us and instructing us. Under the protection of Mary, the Mother of God, also, we can be assured that we are heading in the right direction. Praying her Rosary daily for wisdom and strength are certain to keep us on the right path.

From Disney princesses to driver’s licenses, my little children are growing up and so will yours. We will always be their mothers, but they will need us less as they mature. They will have their own unique dreams, hopes, and plans, separate from the ones we have for them. Although they will be more independent and have lives of their own, we can always sustain them with our prayers. A suggestion I am beginning to incorporate into my own rosaries for my children is to bind them to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for her guidance and protection after each decade. Trusting in her care, we can have confidence that she is looking out for them and covering them with her motherly mantle as they go forward into life.

Go to Joseph, the Model of Husbands and Families

On our home alter, we have a unique statue of the Sleeping St. Joseph.  He is reclining, his head resting on his bag, and seems to be in a deep slumber, readying himself to continue his blessed mission of caring for the Virgin and the Child Jesus.  The devotion has experienced an increase in popularity since promoted by Pope Francis.  The Holy Father has explained that he keeps a statue of the sleeping saint, writing his petitions out on a slip of paper and placing them underneath the statue, trusting that St. Joseph will handle things for him as his sleeps.  Needless to say, there is a generous stack of petitions underneath my statue at home.  St. Joseph always comes through for us!

“Why is St. Joseph sleeping?” you may ask.  The answer is found in Scripture. St. Joseph was visited by an angel in his dreams as he slept and instructed on the Father’s will for him and the Holy Family.  Four times Joseph was directed in dreams to act, and four times he promptly obeyed. In a world that has nearly forgotten the virtue of obedience, we can look to his example of prompt and willing submission to the Will of God in every circumstance. 

Men face the responsibilities and obligations of providing and protecting their families.  Often the stressors on our husbands can be overwhelming. The same was probably true for St. Joseph as he took Mary as his wife and welcomed Jesus at the Nativity.  We can only imagine the array of emotions which St. Joseph must have experienced during the time he was espoused to Mary until the birth of Jesus and their harrowing flight into Egypt.  Despite any fear and apprehension he may have felt, his faith and trust in God guided all of his actions, and his obedience never wavered. 

We need men like St. Joseph, who are ready to imitate the courage, purity, and obedience of this great Saint. In this year of St. Joseph, as declared by Pope Francis, what better time to become familiar with this great man of God and to learn from his virtuous life.  Devotion to St. Joseph is for everyone, but we can especially encourage our husbands and sons to nurture a devotion to St. Joseph and to begin to turn to him for help and assistance in becoming faithful and more virtuous men. One way to a stronger devotion to St. Joseph is through Fr. Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph, which has gained popularity in this year devoted to the saint. Each night, our family is praying together the preparation for Consecration, which will take place on the Solemnity of St. Joseph, March 19.  This practice has united us as a family and enlightened us and our children about the wonder and power of this great saint.

There are no words recorded from St. Joseph in Scripture; however, his actions reveal great wisdom that we can imitate and learn from.  He is regarded as a model of courage, obedience, and humility.  Pope Francis, in his Apostolic Letter Patris Corde (With a Father’s Heart), issued on the 150th Anniversary of the declaration of St. Joseph as the Patron of the Universal Church, reminds to turn to the silent and unassuming Saint, especially during trying times.  He explains, “Each of us can discover in Joseph – the man who goes unnoticed, a daily, discreet and hidden presence – an intercessor, a support and a guide in times of trouble.”  Do you feel unnoticed or overlooked?  Remember that St. Joseph was a strong but silent support for Our Blessed Mother and Jesus, and through his gentle humility, he teaches us that even when others do not acknowledge or notice us, God loves each of us with a perfect love and sees the good that we do. Even in obscurity, we can become great saints. 

When you are unsure, Go to Joseph.

When you are afraid, Go to Joseph.

When you need a powerful intercessor, Go to Joseph!

Head of the Holy Family, Pray for Us

Imagem de ESchwartz por Pixabay

In a world confused by gender ideology and with the attack on the idea of the traditional family, it is a difficult time to instill in children and teenagers to appreciate the need for strong, holy families. Even as my husband and I try to faithfully live out our vocation to Catholic marriage and parenthood and provide a solid foundation for them, I know that our teens still have questions about these issues. They are surrounded by confusing ideas and beliefs in our culture that threaten their understanding of the family as we believe and our Faith teaches that it should be. What are some ways we can reinforce our children’s acceptance of and confidence in the traditional family?

One way is to turn to the saints who exemplified traditional family values. With the Solemnity of St. Joseph approaching on March 19th, our family has been preparing together each evening for the Consecration to St. Joseph, using Fr. Donald Calloway’s formula in his book Consecration to St. Joseph, The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father. In each chapter, Fr. Calloway highlights a title of St. Joseph, and follows the order of the Litany of this great Saint. Last night, we read about the title, “Head of the Holy Family,” which examined St. Joseph’s role as husband and father in the Holy Family and explained the concept of a father’s authority in his family. Fr. Calloway began with the statement that, “Today, calling a man the “head’ of the family is frowned upon.” He explained that this doesn’t mean men or better or more important than women; only that their roles were intended by God to be different. He proposes that if more men begin to model their fatherhood on St. Joseph’s, the “crisis in manhood can be corrected.”

Our children are watching and listening to our examples as fathers and mothers. We need God’s help and the example and intercession of the saints to root out our faults and become better spouses and parents. What better saint to turn to as an example and an intercessor than the Head of the Holy Family, St. Joseph. He spoke no words in Scripture, yet his obedience, courage, and humility speak volumes if we take time to reflect upon his actions. He responded quickly and decisively when instructed by the angel in dreams to take the Virgin Mary as his wife, and to protect Jesus and Mary when they were threatened. He remained faithful until the end to his role as the leader of the Holy Family. We can trust in him when we need prayers and help with our own families’ needs and problems.

When we make our Consecration to St. Joseph as a family this year on his feast day, I plan to have a special meal and dessert and a celebration to honor our holy patron and that, hopefully, we can all attend Mass that day together to celebrate our Consecration. I hope that this festive observance will make an impression on our three girls so that they adopt this devotion to St. Joseph for themselves and continue to love and honor him. I am asking his intercession for all of our children, that they will find their own individual vocations. If they are called to marriage and family, I ask that he will guide them to devout and faithful husbands who, like St. Joseph are strong, faithful, and protective. I am thankful for my own “St. Joseph,” my husband, who has always been a steady and devoted provider for our family and has been a model of faith and virtue for our family.

Head of the Holy Family, Pray for Us.

Creation Mode

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is creation-mode.jpg

Things are messy at our home this weekend. There are flowers strewn about the kitchen, Gorilla Glue being pasted on cake plates, and conference notes feverishly being taken in a writer’s notebook. Like I said, it’s a messy process, but the promise of the finished product helps me to overlook the chaos and remember that, in this season of life, the mess will always be there, but the creative process is what’s important right now.

From an online writer’s conference to a sixth-grade project in process, we are inventing, using our creativity, and delving into our imaginations. My daughter is building a cake plate and adorning it with glitter and artificial blossoms, an idea she conceived while scanning the shelves of Michael’s after school on Friday. I love seeing the project come together. It gives me hope that my own literary ideas may somehow come together and take shape into the book that I am attempting to write.

My mother’s favorite verse from Scripture is Phillipians 4:13 “I have the strength for everything through him who empowers me,” sometimes translated as “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” I, too, often reflect upon these words and lean on them for encouragement because they give me hope and confidence. Whether facing a fearful situation or undertaking writing a book as I am now, I know that God doesn’t make promises that He can’t keep. I truly believe these words, so even if I don’t always believe in myself, I realize that it is God who does the heavy lifting when I am weak.

Even when we don’t believe we can do something, if our inspiration comes from God, we can be assured that He will guide and encourage us throughout the process. Another encouraging verse from Phillipians reads, “I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work in you will continue to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6) And so, for today, I ignore the jumble and the clutter and forge on. The housework will get done eventually. For today, I write.

I invite you to follow this blog in hopes that it will be a source of inspiration and encouragement to you on your journey with Jesus. Thank you for your prayers and support!