Saints and Sinners

“Every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.”–Oscar Wilde

This quote tells the truth of the matter: no one started a saint. In fact, many saints started as tremendous sinners. On the other hand, if one is a sinner, there is still time. A great sinner has the potential to become a great saint. No matter where you are, know that God’s grace meets you there.

You have a future.  Not only that, but God will give you a future filled with hope. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Here’s a Gospel song about falling and rising. Don’t stay down, but take the hand of Jesus Christ and get up!

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7 Quick Takes-Fruits of the Spirit for 2015

This seven quick takes is brought to you by Galatians 5! This year, resolve to pray for and seek the fruits of the spirit! (Note: this isn’t the whole list, but it covers most of them!)

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1. Love. Love for God and our neighbor–that is what should drive us this year and always. In fact, even love for yourself might be a goal–if you don’t feel confident in your own skin, how can you extend that to others? Seek to love in each moment, in big and small ways. 

2. Joy. Joy is not the absence of trouble–but joy will be present even in times of trouble. As you seek a closer relationship with the Lord, you will find joy to sustain you. It doesn’t mean being clappy-happy all the time; it does mean that you know the Source of happiness and goodness and find your nourishment in that. 

3. Peace. If you are walking in the Spirit fully, you will possess His peace. Be His fragrance everywhere you go. Bring peace to troubled situations. If you feel lacking in this department, ask God for His peace, which surpasses all understanding. 

4. Forbearance. The times will get tough at some point this year. Maybe they are already. Lean on God to get you through. Learn patience and strength in suffering. Though painful, trials teach us many important lessons. These trials can strengthen our relationships with God and others. 

5. Faithfulness. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta is quoted as saying that”God did not call us to be successful, but to be faithful.” We won’t always be successful. Everything we set out to do this year won’t turn out the way we expect. What matters is faithfulness–in the small things and the big things. It’s the way we love our families, and the way we focus on doing our job right down to the little details. It’s in turning to God even when don’t feel His presence.

6. Gentleness. Seek to control your temper. When something upsetting happens, calm down and pray. Ask for the strength to react with grace. Be a good example to those who are berating you for your beliefs. Show not anger, but gentleness and truth. 

7. Self-control. There are too many of us who don’t make prayer a priority. Prayer is the most important thing, and that should be our center. All else should fall around prayer. Make time for prayer. Beyond that, exercise prudent time-management. It will go a long way into creating a balanced life for you.

May the Holy Spirit give us the opportunity and the grace to possess these fruits of the spirit in 2015 and always!

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Small Steps to A Healthy Life

Living a healthy life can seem daunting, especially after years of bad habits. “How will I live without Doritos?” you wonder. Or, “I don’t have time to exercise!” Or pray, or cook, or sleep. The list of excuses goes on. You may hope to live a healthier lifestyle in 2015, and be resolving to do so.

I’m here to encourage you in your resolve and also to keep it real. Because, let’s face it: most people fall off the bandwagon of their New Year’s Resolutions after a few weeks, or even mere days! If you try to become “perfect” all at once and do a complete 180 on your lifestyle, you will definitely fail. That’s just how it is. But, if you take small steps, you will excel. That’s what life is all about: taking one step forward and not stopping! Each step will get you closer to your goal.

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So in 2015, resolve to keep walking forward. Don’t look back at past mistakes. Don’t give up on where you want to be in life! Keep looking forward and taking those baby steps into a healthier lifestyle!

How are you hoping to live healthier in 2015?

Physical Wellness-Part III

Welcome to Part III of the Wellness series, Physical Wellness! This is the last part of the series. You can read Part I-Spiritual Wellness here, and Part II-Emotional Wellness here.

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Our bodies are integral to who we are. People do not see our soul; they see our physical self! The state of our bodies affects our emotional state. For example, if you are feeling ill physically, you often feel down mentally. If you are taking good care of your body (and not struggling with some sort of health issue), you are going to feel great physically & mentally!

Our bodies are a temple of God, as we are told in 1 Corinthians (chapter 6, verse 19). I would even go so far as to say that the way that we take care of our bodies can reflect our relationship with God. In Mark (chapter 12, verse 31), we are told to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we are taking care of ourselves physically and otherwise, we honor God by honoring His gift of life!

Again, some of these tips may seem basic–but it’s when we lose track of the basics when things start to go awry. Get back to the basics and you’ll be on the right track!

1. Eat a healthy diet. Eat lots of fruits and veggies–a rainbow of colors! Different colors of fruits and veggies contain different vitamins and minerals. Whenever possible, eat organic. Certain conventional fruits and vegetables contain more pesticides and should be eaten organic. The “dirty dozen” refers to produce that should be eaten organic, while the “clean fifteen” is produce that is usually safe to eat conventional. A list can be found here. Don’t forget about protein to keep you energized! Eggs are a great source of protein, as well as beans, nuts, meat, and fish! (Going along with this tip, stay hydrated! Dehydration can be very dangerous.)

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2. Get enough sleep. I focused on this in emotional wellness, but of course it’s very important here as well! If your body isn’t given time to recharge, you will suffer. You’ll be less productive and possibly even irritable. Lack of sleep can even lower immune function, making it more likely that you’ll get sick. Over the long-term, lack of sleep can also increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. Yes, sleep is more important than you realize! Shoot for 7-9 hours a night.

3. Exercise. Nowadays, many people live sedentary lifestyles. That makes getting exercise more of necessity than ever. Does exercise seem like a chore? Discover what you like. Do you prefer a high-intensity workout? Do you enjoy pilates? Or are you more of a zumba person? Walking, running, swimming, skating, basketball, football, ultimate frisbee, or whatever sport you like…It’s up to you. According to Mayo Clinic, exercise can help prevent heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even depression. It’s beneficial physically and emotionally.

4. Pray! Of course, I’m going to put in a plug for prayer. Prayer is soothing and can help lower blood pressure and possibly even strengthen the immune system, according to this article. You can even go on a “prayer walk” or a rosary walk and combine #3 & #4!

5. Eat probiotic foods or take a probiotic supplement. Your gut contains “good” and “bad” bacteria. The “good” bacteria aids in digestion and nutrient absorption. An imbalance of “good” and “bad” gut flora can also contribute to other problems, such as your risk of cancer. Especially if you have taken antibiotics, the “good” bacteria get killed off. You can help to replenish them by eating probiotic foods (such as yogurt, kefir, saurkraut, and others) or taking a supplement. Here are some benefits of probiotic use.

6. Be careful what you put on your body and use for everyday tasks. Cancer-causing chemicals have been found in soaps and shampoos, as well as other personal care products such as perfumes. Most cleaning products contain chemicals, so opt for more natural cleaners. Use a BPA-free water bottle. Research is still being done about BPA and its risks, but some risks that have come to be shown are brain and behavior problems, as well as a later risk of cancer. The things we put on our bodies every day do affect our physical well-being, and have a cumulative effect, so it’s important to be aware of the things you’re using on your body or around the house.

Is there anything else you would add to this list? Are there any other tips that are essential to physical health?

Thank you for reading the Wellness Series! I am excited to write even more about these topics in the future and help you to achieve better physical and emotional health, as well as a closer walk with God!

To Be A Christmas People

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” a famous song quips. People are running to and fro, putting on celebrations and buying gifts. They are signing and sending off Christmas cards with cheery messages. All of a sudden, generosity is rampant. Everyone seems to be giving to charity (some to get tax deductions–but that’s another story) or grabbing a tag from the giving tree to give to an anonymous person in need. Small and large acts of kindness are all over the news. But what happens after Christmas? What happens after the Christmas service, after all the gifts have been unwrapped, the dishes are done, and the decorations are tucked away in boxes?

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Obviously the Christmas season is extra special–it should leave us breathless that our Savior came in the form of a baby, born in a stable, in order to redeem humanity! The day of His birth changed the course of history forever. The celebration of Christmas is no ordinary day. Yet it seems that society doesn’t focus a lot on virtue and charity, except during the Christmas season.  For Christians, this is not the way to think. We are called to be a Christmas people always. We are called to spread joy and hope every day. That it is not the Christmas season does not give an excuse to be less generous or charitable. Every season should be a time of seeking goodness in our lives. The way we act at Christmas should be the way we are always striving to follow.

Pray for the strength to be a person who is always carrying the spirit of Christmas to the world. This is my wish for you, that you may carry the joy of Christmas into 2015 and beyond!

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A Merry and Blessed Christmas!

A merry and blessed Christmas! May Jesus grant you & your loved ones peace today and always! I pray that you always know His infinite goodness!

Nativity

(photo from 123rf)

“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.”

~Isaiah 9:2-7

Emotional/Mental Wellness-Part II

Welcome to Emotional/Mental Wellness-Part II of the Wellness series! (Part I-Spiritual Wellness-can be found here.) Though some of these tips may seem basic, often we stray from the basics. Sometimes it’s a simple reason why we’re feeling “off” and unbalanced–and often it has to do with losing track of the basics! I hope that you’ll be able to find some help in this post!

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1. Pray. Pour your heart out to God! God will lead you to truth and wholeness. In God, you will find joy. That doesn’t mean you will be happy all the time–but joy means security in God, no matter what! The sacrament of Reconciliation can also help us stay well emotionally–we get the darkness out of us and find forgiveness! There is so much healing and life to be found in that. We don’t realize how much our sin unconsciously affects us and our well-being.

2. Find social support. At work or in other situations, we can encounter people who bring negativity. Life can be stressful anyway. Tragedy and hard times hit us. Surround yourself with positive people who inspire you. Make time to connect with those people and groups that keep you real. Make friends with honest, loyal people that you can count on in good times and bad. Confide in family and friends that will encourage you, even when you’re in your darkest hour.

3. Don’t fill your plate too much. I’m not talking food here. I’m talking about life balance. Keep your priorities straight and stay focused on them. This will cut down on unnecessary stress. This will help you to be calm(er) and to savor the life you are living. It’s difficult to do the best we can if we are spread between 100 things. If you focus on the most important things, you’ll excel.

4. Fill your body with nourishment.  Many people don’t realize that the foods they ingest can affect their moods! Stay away from refined sugars and heavily processed foods. Make sure that you’re getting healthy fats–such as avocados–in your diet. Vitamin D also affects mood. The most common source of Vitamin D is fish–this page contains a list of Vitamin D-rich foods. Another help for mood or anxiety is essential oils. I love to use Lavender for its calming affects, and not to mention it has a great scent!

5. Get enough rest. This is another arena of our life which can affect your mood. Not only can sleep affect your mood, it will also affect the quality of your work. Are you a person who doesn’t sleep because you feel there’s too much to do? Consider this: if you let your body recharge each night, your productivity will show this. On the other hand, insufficient sleep will catch up to you and the quality of your work will suffer.  The amount of sleep you get can also affect your relationships with others. If you’re crabby because you’ve been cutting out sleep, it won’t be a positive influence on your relationships.

Next up: physical wellness! As you can see, often these tips will affect other parts of your life; that’s because each part of our being is connected and goes with the other! Do you have any other tips or necessities in your life for staying emotionally balanced?

Together journeying toward the Creator and becoming the creations we were meant to be.