March 16, 2018

Planning Ahead: Our Holy Week and Easter Baskets

The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry but I've still got a few things planned for the upcoming weeks and I thought I'd share in case you're looking for any ideas, too.

This year my kids and my husband have Holy Week off and I am praying for good weather because we are hoping to:

- work in the yard, cleaning up some flower beds and catching voles
- clean the windows (I like to meditate on the Light of Christ while I wash my windows.)
- stain two outdoor benches

I should probably tell Travis about these things. ha!

We will also be fasting from all non-religious tv for the week. Old school Veggie Tales, CCC of America cartoons about the saints, and The Great American Bible Challenge on Netflix will be watched. We will also do a Family Movie Night on Wednesday where we watch The Prince of Egypt, also on Netflix. I think that movie, the Steven Spielberg animated film about Moses, is a great launch into Triduum. Travis and I will likely watch The Passion on Good Friday.

On Good Friday we will also be eating the symbolic Passion lunch that Lacy at Catholic Icing developed years ago. I make modifications because of our food allergies but the gist is the same. (Maybe I should blog about what we do? Would that be helpful to anyone?)

Our kids' Easter baskets are going to include the following

jump rope (affiliate link) - my kids are merciless on jump ropes and even the nice ones are failed us so I'm just going basic this time around

children's umbrellas (affiliate link) - I did this several years ago and the kids loved it. Three of them are still in excellent shape but two of them need to be replaced and Tee is finally old enough for his own.

bubble wands (affiliate link) - it's like Oprah: every body gets a bubble wand!

bubble refill (affiliate link) - to go with the wands and our bubble blower and bubble mower

pogo stick (affiliate link) - my kids have been asking for one for months. We are getting one for the older kids (not pictured) and the one pictured above still in its packaging (affiliate link) for the little ones.

water bottle (affiliate link) - each of my kids gets a Thermos water bottle when they begin Kindergarten. It serves as their cup ann that way there is no confusion of which is whose. L's Doc McStuffins one is old, faded, and a bit too juvenile for my almost tween, although she uses it without complaint. I'm excited to give her this pretty, more grown-up one.

Other great ideas from some of my favorite online stores are:

The Catholic Journaling Bible from Blessed Is She (affiliate link) - I love mine. It makes for great study time since it has all the footnotes and cross references plus room for notes, prayers, doodles...

Catholic Bible Stickers from Look to Him Be Radiant - my friend Katie makes these and I LOVE mine. As much as I wish I could doodle beautiful things in my Bible I am not artistic and so when she started selling these - they fit the margins of the BIS Bible perfectly - I immediately purchased some. I love that they add little touches of beauty next to my scrawling notes.

Custom Felted Bead Decade Rosary from Lily Joy Designs - I have one of these babies and I love praying with it. It would be a perfect companion to one the Mystery studies!

Madonna of the Blossoms print from Sleightholm Folk Art - one hangs in my living room each Spring and I love it. Absolutely gorgeous.

Strong Brave Loved t-shirt from Someday Saints Designs - so pretty and perfect for a teen or tween.

Gold Foil Sacred Heart print from Small Gifts Great Love - one hangs in my kitchen and I love it!

The new study series from Blessed Is She - Mystery - I wrote Believe! (affiliate link)

Now, I need YOUR help, please! My almost 8 year old boy needs a big gift for his Easter Basket and I can't think of anything to give him. He doesn't need a new umbrella, water bottle, helmet, swim trunks, or anything like that. Can you help me out?

March 15, 2018

The Rosary and Sarah's Laugh

Last fall my friend Beth sent me an email inviting me to write a study for Blessed Is She on the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary. The BIS leadership team had been discussing it, praying over it, and wanted me to do it. I was incredibly honored but I had to admit something to them before I could accept: I rarely pray the rosary. 

Oh my goodness! I said it! I said it to women I admire who love the rosary! But I felt like it needed to be shared: I rarely pray the rosary. Would they still want me? (And now that you know will you still want me?) I mean- I love Mary, and I frequently meditate on the life of Christ (the heart of the rosary), and I usually try to do what God and the Church encourage me to do but the rosary.... for some reason it is hard for me. It lulls me to sleep. I can't do the prayers and the meditating together. 

But they didn't care. They asked me to sit with the Scripture that inspires the Glorious Mysteries and to look at Christ's life through Mary's eyes. It was a beautiful, powerful experience for me and the months and teamwork that went into the prayer, writing, editing, and designing of this book are very dear to me. 

The book is called Believe and it is part of a four-book grouping called Mystery and belongs with the Blessed Conversations series.

As we worked behind the scenes and sent it off to the printer I grew more and more excited to share it with my friends, family, and you. This is my first actual book that was actually published by an actual real ministry and I am proud of it. 

And then something happened that took my breath away for a moment. 

I was scrolling through Instagram and I saw that another women's ministry is launching the sale of the exact same kind of study - a book filled with reflections on the Rosary. It looks lovely - I sincerely mean that - and I never saw this coming so out of surprise I laughed. And in my laughter I thought of this passage:

Instantly in my mind's eye Sarah stood next to me, her eyes twinkling as she laughed with delight at the thoroughness of God. 

It looks like the Holy Spirit really wants us to pray the Rosary and spend time reflecting on the life of Christ, ladies! How beautiful that different women in different ministries both heard the same prompting?! This is not a bad thing, a competition, a popularity contest - this is the power of the Holy Spirit getting the job done! And it makes me laugh. 

The Mystery series are on sale now and will be shipped in time for Easter. They are perfect for individual or small group study and personally I would start with the Glorious Mysteries since those are the ones that deal with the Resurrection. ;)

You can buy them as a bundle or an individual booklet and they are available as digital downloads or printed and saddle stitched. Laura Kelly Fanucci wrote Behold on the Joyful Mysteries, Brigid Hogan wrote Beloved on the Luminous Mysteries, Sr. Maria Kim Bui wrote Belong on the Sorrowful Mysteries, and I wrote Believe on the Glorious Mysteries.  (All of those links are my affiliate links - thanks for using them!)

And before you go I have a couple more exciting announcements! 

This coming Monday and Tuesday, March 19th and 20th, I will be giving a mini parish mission at St. Mary's in Mount Caramel, Illinois. It would be so cool if you can join me! And if you are a Berberich I especially want to meet you since I count one of your relations as a good family friend. 

Then, on Friday, March 23rd Travis, MJ, and I will be at St. Charles Borromeo in St. Anthony, Minnesota. I will be sharing the story of James' alleged miracle at a prayer rally for Fulton Dobbs. I would really appreciate Minnesota folks coming to support the Dobbs family and to pray for a miracle for Fulton. 

March 13, 2018

This Is How We Do It - Big Family Style

Colleen and Kelly wrote posts about how they take care of their big families and several
friends suggested that I shouldn't let the bandwagon pass me by. So here I am, jumping on it. They used gifs because they're funny but I thought I'd use music videos because I have a theme song for everything.

Overall I think this post will probably make you feel better about yourself and your standards. Let's get started then, shall we?

A few basics to know: 
We have 7 children under the age of 10. Our youngest is mostly breastfed. Two of our kids are in diapers. I am a stay at home mom and Travis, my husband, is a teacher and coach and a handyman. Five of our kids attend our parish's school, three full time, one dual enrolled at our public school, and one in the morning pre-k program. I don't really know if this information is going to enhance the rest but we'll just pretend it does.

The Feeding of the Multitudes

Generally every Monday I go grocery shopping for a week's worth of food and household products. I start by making a meal plan based on our week's activities. I then make a grocery list and try to stick to that as best as possible. I do all of this using the Blessed Is She planner, fyi. If a trip to Costco is needed (school lunch items, baking staples, bacon, alcohol) I will start there, otherwise I go to Aldi and purchase about 1/3 of our groceries and then head to Kroger for everything else.

We have food allergies - dairy, egg, peanuts, tree nuts, and sesame seeds - and so I have to buy specialty items at times. Those food allergies also mean I make 90% of our meals from scratch. Dinner is usually main dish, fruit (canned, fresh, or applesauce), frozen veg, and starch (pasta, rice, potato). We are slowly growing our garden in an effort to eat fresh veggies from our yard but that's a long time coming still.

One thing that really helps in the area of feeding everyone is a schedule: The kids tend to make their own breakfasts and they have be done making those by 8. Lunch is at 11...ish. Afternoon snack plate is put out around 3. Dinner is around 6. If they are hungry at any other time they can eat fruit or veggies. If they don't want to eat fruit and veggies then they are not that hungry. This way I feel like I am not denying growing kids but I also feel like we are not constantly snacking.

Also, I bake something almost every day. It may be for breakfast, after-school snack, dinner, or dessert. I have found that the combination of our budget + food allergies + mouths to feed + my love of baking means it makes a lot of sense for our family. It fills our bellies and makes us all happy.

Chores are AWESOME!

I love having a clean house but usually a tidy house will do. Since I am home during the days I am in charge of most of the cleaning. I vacuum or sweep every other day though the bedrooms probably only get swept once a month and the basement gets swept when my mom comes over and thinks it looks bad. I have boys with horrible aim and so I clean the main bathroom at least once every other day, usually once a day, sometimes sometimes more if needed. Mostly what I mean by this is that I wipe down the toilet and the floor around the toilet every day and the sink + counter every other. (What is up with the toothpaste all over the flippin sink, kids?!) Master bath and the main bath's tub get cleaned less frequently.

I dust, usually with wet wipes, once a week or bimonthly. The kitchen floor gets spot cleaned as needed and I scrub it on my hands and knees about once a month. Windows get cleaned as needed and every Holy Week.

We don't have set chores for the kids but at the end of every day the living and family rooms have to be tidied and they pick up the basement play room, their bedrooms, the living spaces, and the outside as directed. They also help with watching the baby, dusting, picking up, folding laundry, vacuuming, putting away the groceries, and unloading the dishwasher as directed. The kids help with collecting and taking out the garbage and Ben loves to help his dad with snow removal in the winter and mowing the rest of the year. The kids will do extra chores at times in exchange for additional screen time.

Laundry, My Nemesis

I feel lame saying this but I really hate laundry. I'm good with towels, and okay with adult clothing, but the kids clothes are just overwhelming. However, this past fall L and Ben both grew enough that they could reach the bottom of the washing machine and suddenly - wa-la! - I had less laundry to do! Now L is in charge of her and Resa's laundry, with Resa helping, and Ben is in charge of his and JF's laundry. I still wash all the whites and do the laundry for the youngest three kiddos. Probably one load gets done a day by someone in the house but there's no schedule. Oh, and sheets get washed when someone is sick or wets the bed.

The Glowing Screens

My kids watch too much tv. They also have permission to play certain games on the iPad and a retired phone. They take turns on those, setting the timer for ten minutes a pop. Television rules are as followed: PBS Kids only in the mornings once everyone is dressed and has eaten breakfast, brushed their teeth, and is ready to go for the day. The tv gets turned off at 8 (sometimes 8:30) and this is a year round rule. The tv gets turned back on at some point in the afternoon and usually is consumed for an hour. If the house is tidy, all chores are done, and everyone has been good the kids may be able to watch another 30-45 minutes of tv (Netflix or PBS Kids) before bed. Rainy days, super hot days, super cold days, sick days, and days when I have a crap ton to get done means the kids watch even more than what is listed above.

Extra Curriculars

Right now our kids are not involved in a lot. The two older girls are in American Heritage Girls and Ben is a Boy Scout. JF has tutoring twice a week after school and Tee has speech therapy once a week mid afternoon. I've been attending a moms' group every Tuesday morning for eight years. We attend Sunday Mass and occasionally Thursday night adoration and various other parish activities. And otherwise our kids play with each other and neighborhood kids, spend time with their grandparents, and visit our neighbors who are like another set of grandparents. Next year L will join track and honestly I am not looking forward to it, but it is important to Travis and our kids look forward to joining school sports.

We're Part of an Exclusive Club

We have been driving an old Dodge mini van for years, squeezing kids in as best we could, but we were basically a two car family. My mom paid for our kids to ride the bus to and from school this year so that while Travis works I never have more kids in my care than seats in my van. But last month we used part of our tax refund + money we've been saving and bought a 12 passenger van. It's old and white and big but it fits our whole family and we paid with cash. While the kids are in school I am still mostly driving the mini van since it gets better mileage but this summer we will sell that for a few hundred dollars and rely solely on our new van, which we call Sally Ford.

Putting Paper in the Bag

This is an update to the original post. A friend asked me what we do to tackle the never-ending cycle of papers. This is what works for us:

Every day the kids empty their folders. I glance at each paper and recycle it. School forms and permission slips get filled out within the next 24 hours and are sent back almost immediately. If there is a piece of school or art work that I want to keep it usually sits on the counter for a week and then makes it down to the top of the dryer. Next time I am in the laundry / storage room I put it in the correct tote. If the kids have flash cards, spelling words lists, etc they put it in their pouch (a 31 Bags product I have hanging on the wall).

Mail is looked at immediately or by the end of the day. Bills and insurance statements go to my husband's desk for him to file or burn later. Junk mail gets recylced. Appointment reminders, invitations, and the like are put in my planner for me to process there. Once they are entered or the event is done that is pitched.

That said, we do usually have a small pile on my counter of stuff  that needs to be dealt with (the bills to go to Trav's desk, the keepsake to go downstairs, the formerly lost and currently overdue library book). But it is manageable.

This song is the best summary of my life right now:

So that it's. That's how we set up the pins to knock them down. I'd love to hear how it compares to your own way of doing it and I'd be happy to answer any questions.

February 21, 2018

In What I Have Failed to Do

I was recently reminded of an awkward situation from fifteen years ago.

I was in college and involved at the Catholic student center at a local state university, as was a new friend of mine; we'll call her Susan.

Susan asked if I would pray with her during an upcoming holy hour and I eagerly agreed. She signed up both us but when the day came it ended up being a no good, horrible, terrible, very bad day. I called her and cancelled, telling her I just was not up for making the drive to her university and be around people.

It was true - I really was having a hard day and for a valid reason. And I really did not want to make the 25 minute drive and be at the Newman Center chapel where I knew I would run into all kinds of friends. She was disappointed but gracious and promised to pray for me.

A little bit later, at dinner on my campus, a couple of my good friends convinced me to go with them to that very same Newman Center chapel, insisting that wallowing and hiding from people was not what I needed. They promised to cheer me up and I let them drag me along.

They were right. It was good to be with them and to laugh. My heart needed it.

But as I stood outside the chapel, laughing and chatting, Susan heard me while she knelt - alone - inside. She was hurt. She felt I had lied, abandoned, and betrayed her. I tried to explain what had happened and sincerely apologized but it didn't matter. Our growing friendship never recovered.


Awhile ago something similar happened but this time I was in Susan's spot. I was hurt by the actions of a group of people - confused by why they did what they did. I felt betrayed, abandoned, and lied to.

I have prayed over the situation so many times and each time it seems that I have finally given it to God something happens and it starts all over again. I can see, God has shown me very clearly and with great tenderness, that what this group of people have done is very good. He is pleased with it and they have done nothing wrong.

So last week I asked Him, "If they have done nothing wrong then why does it hurt like they have?" And He made me think of Susan and He put on my heart the line from Penitential Rite, "I have sinned... in what I have failed to do."

What I did that day with the holy hour all those years ago - I did nothing wrong. My sins came in what I did not do. Susan was right to have felt slighted by me.

I keep thinking how things would have been so different if I would have just been 100% honest with her. "Hey. I'm going to come over tonight after all, but I don't think I can pray. It hurts to sit in the silence. I hope you will understand. I'm not trying to abandon you, in fact I hope you will pray for me while you're in there and I when you're done I want to hang out. I'm sorry to be this way right now but if you could support me in this I would be super grateful." She would have understood. She would have prayed for me. And on the other side of that holy hour we would have been better friends.

I know that there have been many times when I've done this. Afraid of any confrontation I ignore a situation, hide away what I'm doing, and pretend I'm not stepping on any toes while I'm marching down a line of them. But, mindful that God "did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love" and that there "are different forms of service but the same Lord, ...different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone," it seems that what I  have done in the darkness should be brought to the light. I don't want to waste my time on mulling and stewing and plotting but I want to invest it on sharing and empowering and working together.

I had a boss once, Kurt is his name, and he was the best boss I've ever seen. He would unite people. He would listen to your bad idea, talk to you about his great one, merge the two together and in the end give you all the credit in a way that you really did believe it was all your doing. He wasn't afraid of awkward conversations because he knew it was better to talk about things so we could understand how everyone was working together to do what was best for the whole lot of us. He didn't see any of us as competitors but teammates and he expected us to support, promote, and encourage one another.

I want to be more like that - brave and honest and living my life in the Light so that the darkness shall not overcome.

This is a picture of college-aged Bonnie, with her skinny face, curly hair, and fearful heart. 

February 11, 2018

Part IV: The Power of YES

This is the final part of a multi-post series all leading up to this, a not-so-grand, does-this-fit-together-anywhere-outside-of-my-heart-and-head post. If you haven't yet, please read the first three posts: A New Pair of Sneakers, A Podcast + Instagram + an Epiphany About Life, and The Story of a Winter Coat. I'm calling the series "Lessons I'm Learning."

I got some shoes and they changed my life. I listened to a podcast and it changed my life. I participated in an Instagram chat and it changed my life. I bought a coat and... it didn't change my life but I am much more comfortable this winter.

Now when it comes to the coat I was surprised when I realized something. The only reason I had money in my PayPal account to buy a proper winter coat is because I work for Blessed Is She. Through the devotion writing and my affiliate sales I had enough money to buy the on-sale coat and have it shipped to my house. As I thought about that I felt something I hadn't felt in a very long time: empowered.

Now really I have been earning money through my writing and affiliate sales for quite some time. (Thank you so very much.) The money sometimes works as mad money and I use it to buy something from Etsy or a new album through a PledgeMusic. Sometimes the money is transferred to our bank account to pay bills or buy extra groceries or gifts for our gaggle of kids. Often it is used to support fundraisers or make donations to families who are suffering. Because my family has been on the receiving end of so many gifts, donations, and blessings I try to always give alms to others even if it is an embarrassingly meager $5.

Please know that I have been so, so grateful to be able to have this money to spend or give. But even when I was buying a new mug for myself I knew that I was just as much supporting someone as I was getting myself something. Buying the winter coat was the first time I had done something that would only benefit me - just me. All because of a job, and really all because of a fiat*

Now, I don't know if you know the history of Blessed Is She or Catholic Stuff You Should Know but both of them basically begin with people who love Jesus wondering what they were going to do with this call in their hearts. God planted an idea - a something that would bring women together through Scripture and a podcast-thing to evangelize anew as the Pope had asked. The founding members of the CSYSK podcast wanted to take the boatloads of information they were receiving in seminary and share it along with their growing love of God and fraternity. And Jenna Guizar, with her marriage crumbling and a lonely heart, followed Jesus into the unknown to found a ministry rooted in the Eucharist, God's Word, our Blessed Mother, and sisterhood. God proposed something and they all said, "YES!" Or maybe they said, "ummmmm... okay?" but still!

The lessons I have shared with you over this series may all seem disconnected - heck this whole series probably seems like a disconnected mess! But I know I couldn't have gotten to this point where I not only see my worth but I feel it had it not been for the paychecks, or the sneakers, or the podcast, or the Instagram chat. I would not be in this place in my life without that "Yes" others gave to God years ago, which are now bearing fruit in my life and allowing me the opportunity to care for myself, to give alms, to support Catholic art, and more.

It's overwhelming to me - the way that my friend Jenna, the founder of Blessed Is She, has created this thing for the glory of God that allows me to buy myself a coat. Hers is just one example and of course she pales next to the example of Mary whose YES echoes in all of our Yeses to God. Mary's YES emboldened Jenna's and Jenna's emboldened mine and maybe some day my daughters will be emboldened by all the Yeses I have given and those I hope to still give. All for the glory of God, folks.

The lessons:
- I need to stop signing myself up for martyrdoms God is not calling me to
- sacrificing for others is even more beautiful when it comes from a place of joy, instead of a place of putting others before me because I don't think I deserve to be treated well
- we cannot know what God will do with our response to His invitation
- when we are emboldened and empowered we should give thanks to God and step out to do His will for His greater glory.

*Fiat is Latin for "let it be done" - the words Mary answered to God's question, "Will you be the mother of the Messiah?"

February 8, 2018

Part III: The Story of a Winter Coat

This is the third part of a multi-post series all leading up to a grand, does-this-fit-together-anywhere-outside-of-my-heart-and-head post. The first post, A New Pair of Sneakers, can be read here. Yesterday's post, A Podcast + Instagram + an Epiphany About Life, can be found here. I'm calling the series "Lessons I'm Learning."

For a couple of years I have wanted a sleeping bag coat. You know what I'm talking about: long, black, puffy. All the moms at school pick up look like they're wrapped in sleeping bags, their hoods up against the cold winter wind. They look warm, with their coat that goes down to their knees. My old pea jacket, too small to button over my breastfeeding figure, doesn't cut it.

But sleeping bag coats cost at least $75, usually over $100, so I always wrote off the possibility of getting one. I mean, there's no way I should be spending that kind of money on myself! Especially when I have a coat.

I think all moms sacrifice for their kids, homes, families. I also know that deep down part of me just didn't think I deserved a nice new coat like what the prettier, smarter, more popular moms have. I should just make do, I should lose weight, I should push through. My ragamuffin coat is good enough for ragamuffin-top me.


After Christmas I was looking at a catalog and I mentioned to Travis that they had sleeping bag coats and I'd like to buy one but they were so expensive. He didn't care about the price, though. He reminded me that I had extra money in my PayPal account and reminded me that my current coat doesn't fit. "Bonnie, we live in Central Illinois. The high yesterday was 2 with a windchill of -17. You need a good winter coat. Buy the coat."

And you know what? I bought the coat. I knew he was right  and because of all the work God had been doing in my heart I didn't tell myself those dumb lies any more. I knew that just like those nice sneakers would help me stay on my feet longer and keep my body from aching at the end of the day, a sleeping bag coat would mean I'd be more likely to go outside, go for a walk, play in the snow, visit with the other moms at parent pick up. Or just be warm in the bitter cold.

The lessons:
- it's hard to break a habit (like negative self talk) but with the grace of God it can be done
- once our responses shift to be in line with God's Truth we begin to build new habits, meaning the more I practice treating myself with respect the more that virtue becomes firmly rooted in the place where my self hate had previously been
- clothe the naked is a work of mercy and while I wasn't naked I did lack proper clothing for the climate I live in; it's important to practice mercy to ourselves along with others.
- a sleeping bag coat really is as wonderful as it looks! The pockets are lined with fleece!

February 6, 2018

Part II: A Podcast + Instagram + an Epiphany about Life

This is the second part of a multi-post series all leading up to a grand, does-this-fit-together-anywhere-outside-of-my-heart-and-head post. Yesterday's post, A New Pair of Sneakers, can be read here. I'm calling the series "Lessons I'm Learning."

An entire year before I bought myself those new sneakers I listened to the Celibatio Celebratio episode of the Catholic Stuff You Should Know podcast. Though it is about celibacy and the priesthood, the discussion had a huge impact on me and left me pondering all sorts of aspects of vocation in general, the more specific vocation of wife and mother, and my particular vocation as wife of Travis, mother of L, Ben, JF, Resa, Joe, Tee, and the baby who was in my womb. I have re-listened to that podcast probably 25 times in the last sixteen months.

One line in particular struck me profoundly. Quoting Bishop Cozzens of St. Paul, MN, Fr. John said, "No one looks at Mother Teresa and says, 'Oh it's such a shame she can't have children' because she was so fully living out her vocation." Those words were a challenge and a balm.

Now I know people have said about me, "Oh it's such a shame that Bonnie can't use contraception." But, for whatever reason, when I heard those words about Mother Teresa I knew that those people are wrong. If they look at my life and pity me then they're clueless. My life is filled with laughter, hugs, and snuggles. It's filled with JOY. It's filled with LOVE. It's filled with LIFE! My life, my children, my home, my contraception-free marriage are blessings!

There are people who don't like Mother Teresa but you know what, I think those people are dumb. Crazy. Blind. I don't care what they think. So those words were a balm: they helped me to see how rich my life is and how silly I am to care what the naysayers think. Those party poopers are wrong and it's sad that they cannot see the joy, love, and goodness of my life when it is right in front of their faces.

The challenge came because I realized that if I live our my vocation half as well as St. Teresa of Calcutta then people will look at me and say, "Maybe I can have another child, or should go to Mass, or work on my marriage because I want what she has" instead of "What a shame..." My challenge then was to focus more on God and His blessings and to enjoy the life and vocation He has given me. Now, granted it took weeks and months of pondering this for me to really understand this all but I got there.

Fast forward a year to this past September. I've got my new shoes and Blessed Is She asked me to answer the question, "How might your life change if you agreed with God's Word instead of the enemy's lies?" I was honest and shared that I often spend most of my days telling myself lots of negative - actually horrible - things. As woman after woman opened up about her own lies and how things would be different I realized two things.

First, all of it is CRAP. Women I admire were talking such smack about themselves and I thought to myself, "That is not true at all!" to which the Holy Spirit answered, "Right! And it's not true about you either!" Mic drop: Holy Spirit.

Second, I spend so much of my time worrying about what a loser I am that I cannot do most of the things I want to do. When I pray that God will be able to use me for His honor and glory but then I'm so caught up with thinking about ME there is no way I can be mindful of others or hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit. People around me are lonely, afraid, and suffering and I'm too busy telling myself - believing the lie - that no one wants to be around me that I am not there to love and serve them. It's stupid.

Now, those realizations were able to take root in my heart and I was able to see them as Truth because God had been preparing me for a year as I prayerfully thought about that podcast episode. It's amazing. Once upon a time a Bishop made a remark which stayed in the heart of a priest. And then one day that priest's friend was discussing something with him which called to mind the remark. The priest shared the remark with his friend and the world via a podcast, a ministry. And that remark was heard by a woman one thousand miles away who stood in her kitchen, barefoot and pregnant and washing dishes, and it settled in her heart. That remark stayed in the fallow ground and was tended by our sweet Lord over silent months. The Truth in the remark took root in her heart and grew until one day it broke through and God was able to speak to her in a way He hadn't for a long, long time. It's amazing.

The lessons:
- grace builds upon grace
- God is steadfast
- podcasts and social media can be powerful tools for those who are building up the Kingdom
- I am not a loser
- my life is good

Come back tomorrow for the next post in the series.

PS - I talked more about it on The Jennifer Fulwiler Show