Spiritual Wellness-Part I

Welcome to Part I of the Wellness Series! Today we will be focusing on the spiritual side of ourselves. Of course, though we cannot see our soul, it very much affects who we are–including our actions and what we think and believe. As I stated in the introductory post, each aspect of our beings affects the other aspects. (As I am a Catholic Christian, this post will come from that perspective. I hope that, wherever you are on your journey, you can find something that resonates with you.)

P1000266Our soul is the only part of us that will live forever. It’s amazing to think that a part of us is immortal! The choices we make today, in these mortal bodies of ours, affect our eternal futures.

There are a million things I could write, a million ways in which we can pray and grow closer to God. Obviously, I’m only a simple lay person, like the majority of humans. However, I do know that these are some avenues that all of us have access to (although some of our brothers and sisters around the world struggle to access the Sacraments because of persecution or lack of nearby churches–pray for them!).

1. Receive the Sacraments. God, being our Creator, knows that we are bodily people. The Sacraments are concrete ways we can experience God through our senses. God is so good that He wants us to be able to experience these things with our whole selves, in ways we can relate to! Think about Holy Water, the Eucharist, the awing beauty of a cathedral, the loving gaze of your new spouse as you exchange vows on the altar, or hearing the kind voice of the priest on the other side of the confessional. These are just a few examples of the experiences that come with receiving the Sacraments. Of course, attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days is the way to start. What about adding another day each week to attend Mass? Don’t forget about the Sacrament of Reconciliation! The priests have heard it all–so don’t be afraid! Christ is healing you of your sins, forgiving you, through the priest! Pretty amazing, to have your sins wiped away and have a clean slate again. We don’t realize how much our sins pile up–much like a messy room. “It’s just a pair of socks,” a person shrugs as the socks are discarded onto the floor. Later, they will be astonished as “just one pair of socks” has also turned into a pair of pants, a shirt, a belt, papers, and anything else one can think of. Confession cleans out the dirty room and makes space for you to welcome Jesus!

2. Do the Examen. St. Ignatius of Loyola came up with this simple prayer. It allows you to reflect on your day and ways in which God was present. It is great for discernment, especially in finding patterns. It can also be a great examination of conscience and help you to realize areas of strength and weakness in your spiritual life. If you would like to learn more about the Examen, go here.

3.  Pray the Rosary. Many people love the Rosary; many others struggle with praying it. One thing can’t be denied: it is a powerful prayer. (To my Protestant brothers and sisters: Catholics are not worshipping Mary when we pray the Rosary. We are looking at the life of Jesus through the eyes of His mother, the one who loved Him so dearly and was closest to Him during His earthly life.) If you struggle with praying the Rosary, this blogger also has a hard time, but has some good reasons to keep on prayin’ it anyway.

4. Serve others.  “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Christ also reminds us that, when we do an act of service for another person, we are doing it for Him! There are so many needs in the world, including in your own home or neighborhood. Perhaps someone that you live with needs some extra attention, or there is an elderly neighbor you could share conversation with. There are numerous places looking for volunteers, including soup kitchens, crisis pregnancy centers, or nursing homes. There are also many needs worldwide, which you could contribute to financially or by going on a short or long-term mission trip. Ask God where He is calling you to be His hands and feet today.

5. Talk to God, always. Just as with our family members and friends, we must be in conversation with God in order to build a closer relationship. “Pray without ceasing; in everything, give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess 5:17-18) Giving thanks to God is so important. Yet we must also be honest with Him and learn to confide in Him our deepest thoughts and needs, and the needs of the ones we love and the world as a whole. We can talk to Him silently throughout our day, in the car, while washing dishes, and when we need to speak a word of truth to another person. These are just a few examples. God is never far from us.

I hope that you can hold onto these tips and find a closer, stronger relationship with God! One huge aspect of wellness is your relationship with God–which affects your mental/emotional health, can affect physical health, and even your relationships with others!

Next up: mental/emotional wellness! (Here is the introductory post to the wellness series.)

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Why Wellness?

I am a huge advocate of wellness.  Why is it so important, you may ask? Perhaps you are even wondering what exactly wellness is. Well, God made us bodies. Within the body is a mind. Most importantly, we contain a soul. All of these facets work together to make us who we are. Each aspect of our self affects the other. For example, if your physical health is off, your mind will be affected also. Wellness is the integration of all these facets of ourselves in a positive way. Living a life of wellness equals living a balanced life.

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Look for a 3-part series coming about spiritual, mental/emotional, and physical wellness! I hope that you will benefit from the series and find even more sustenance on your journey to living a life of wellness!

Mornings: The Start to a Great Day!

The way in which we begin the morning can have a lot of bearing on the entire day. You know those mornings everything seems to go wrong, and the whole day is thrown off balance? Yes, starting the morning off right is very important! Cold winter mornings can be even more difficult to get out of bed for. Hopefully these small tips can help you get the day off on the right foot!

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1. Praise God! This new day is a gift! You made it through the night and still have breath in your lungs! Too often we forget to praise Him. So, give thanks to God for the new day He has given! Reading a Psalm of praise is a great way you could do this. Setting a morning prayer routine is important. You can wake up earlier, or pray on the train or in the car. During this time of prayer, you can thank God for all the blessings you have, and ask for help with situations in the day ahead.

2. Drink a rejuvenating beverage. A cup of tea does wonders to keep me awake & focused at work! You can also try hot water with lemons–also very yummy and revitalizing! If you want to to drink tea or coffee, try to drink decaf–caffeine can be very addicting and not allow you to get by well without it.

3. Have your outfit ready for work or school. Now, this step is one you would have done very first–before you even went to bed the night before. It will save you lots of time in the morning and make getting ready go more smoothly. You won’t need to worry about walking out the door late simply because you couldn’t find an outfit that matched!

4. Eat breakfast. Yes, this step is very important. Choose something protein-heavy, such as eggs and bacon. Fruit is a good option for energy as well. You could even set out the cookware the night ahead to save a little time. Making breakfast does take a little extra time–but it’s worth it. You won’t be focused on your hunger and will be better able to concentrate.

These tips are very basic, but they can go a long way in getting your day off to a great start! Do you have any other tips for starting the day right?

Reasons to Journal

(This post came from my old blog, and has a few additions.)

For over 10 years, I’ve consistently kept a journal. I plan to do so for the rest of my life. Journaling helps me vent during the tough times,  celebrate during the good times, and see the interesting in the in-between times.

You can keep a journal for many purposes: prayer requests, your prayers to God, your feelings, events of your life, dreams, important conversations, thoughts on life, and anything else you can think of. The journal pictured is one I used in the past, and greatly benefited from. Below is a picture of the front page for each day. There is a place for the weather, events of the day, where you are spiritually, what you are grateful for, people you are thinking about, and more. The next page is blank for other musings.

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(This journal can be ordered online here: http://journalsunlimited.com/shop/inspirations-a-gratitude-journal/)

I definitely recommend journaling to everybody. You may not consider yourself a writer, but no one else needs to see your journal. It is purely for you. (Of course, you could also write prayers–so maybe you and God.) It’s not something you need to do every day, either, but could simply be a solace in dark times to pour your heart out. You could also simply write positive happenings and moments that you want to look back on. In my opinion, journaling can be a great avenue for emotional health.

This woman uses her journal as a prayer journal to write Bible verses and encouragement as art. I love to look at her Instagram from time to time and see what she has come up with:
http://web.stagram.com/n/hersoutherncharm/

What are the benefits of journaling? Here are a few that I’ve found. For each person, they will be different.
1. It is a positive way to process emotions. If you are angry or sad, writing is a healthy way to process your thoughts. For good situations, it is also a great way to celebrate these happenings. When you are in the midst of making decisions, writing down your ponderings each day can help you see patterns and come to a conclusion.
2. It is a way to track your growth as a person. You can look back at old journals and find ways you’ve positively changed. On the other hand, sometimes you will see other changes that may not be so positive, and figure out how to get back to a good spot. You could use your journal as a way to set goals.
3. Journaling is a great way to relax. Spilling your thoughts on paper is a great way to unwind at the end of the day, or to prepare for a new day. It might even be a good “siesta,” a way to take a break mid-day.
4. Your journal is an avenue to see God’s hand. Journaling is a beautiful, tangible way to look back at situations and see how they have evolved. How good God is, and how wonderful and amazing are His ways! Looking back at old journals and the situation now, I can see the change and that God has answered my prayers!

What are your thoughts on journaling? What benefits have you seen from journaling, if you are a journaler?

I Am Back!

I am back! I will be posting again, hopefully at least twice a week.

If there’s one thing I could say, it is that God is GOOD, all the time. Even when we feel that our life is a disaster, God is STILL working. In fact, it is in the times when we feel the worst that God is doing the most! Don’t despair. There will be another post coming on this topic. May God bless you in the meantime! Keep looking up to the Son!

Mother’s Day & Mother Mary

A very happy Mother’s Day to all mothers! Please remember to pray for those women who are trying to have children but have been unable to due to infertility or failed adoptions, as well as other circumstances. Also remember those who have lost their mothers. This can be a difficult day for many.

ImageBesides the woman who gave birth to us, we have a heavenly mother. Catholics place a huge emphasis on Mary, the Mother of Jesus. She is, after all, the one whom God chose to give birth to His Son–to God Incarnate! That’s a huge deal. And Jesus gave her to the disciples, and consequently, to us, as He hung on the cross. Despite this, it can still be difficult for some of us to wrap our minds around devotion to Mary. A few months ago, I was able to view the film “Mary of Nazareth.” My devotion to Mary has been forever changed. Yes, really, the movie was that good! While I’m sure not everything was totally accurate, it really helped me to visualize the woman Mary was. I saw her deep faith against all odds, the scrutiny she faced for saying “yes” to God, resulting in pregnancy out of wedlock, and the connection and intense love and trust she had for the Lord. Her love for all others along her path was also evident, including those society detested. Mary was an absolutely amazing woman, and she loves all of us and hopes for us to know her Son. She is constantly interceding for us! Check out the film if there is a screening near you.

Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Taking Life As a Journey

Life is truly a fleeting journey, a temporary sojourn. God is teaching me not to speed through it.

Too many times, we are stuck waiting. Instead of savoring the season of life we are in and finding the gems in our lives every day, we simply wait. It’s not until this or that happens that we feel we can start living. This is not true; every single moment of our lives is an absolute gift. Not a single moment of life is wasted or should be rushed through.

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Lately God has had an interesting way to show me not to speed through life, or on the road. It’s stunning how many times I’ve found myself in front of a police car, reaching a four-way intersection at the same time as a police car, or seeing the sheriff sneakily parked on the side of the highway without lights at night. I’m convinced that God isn’t only trying to remind not to speed in the car. Waiting has been a huge theme in my life the past few years. God is trying to teach me to enjoy the scenery and whatever is right in front of me, not so determined on reaching my destination quickly.

Praise God for these lessons, however the Lord manages to impart them to us! I’m loving each beautiful moment and step on this path He’s laid out for me, though I sometimes don’t understand the routes He’s plotted out. His ways are better than my ways, that’s for sure! I’m sitting back and enjoying the scenery and precious moments that otherwise I would speed through.

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