So if you read my post from yesterday, you'll understand the title for this blog. For the last three years I have backslidden in my faith. Yesterday, however, through the Grace of God, and maybe through the prayers of others, I decided to make a change and return to God, one baby step at a time.
The baby steps are going to be:
1. Spend 15 minutes every morning with the Lord. This could be in prayer, reading the Bible, reading a chapter of a book or listening to a Podcast that helps me deepen my faith, journaling or just having a cup of coffee and a conversation with God Himself!
2. Twice a week I will make a conscious effort to reach out to someone with a phonemail, a visit, a letter in the mail.
Well, it has just been 24 hours since implementing these baby steps and you're not going to believe that I have already felt, experienced and made a change!
Change Number 1:
Yesterday I began! I called one of my sisters who lives in Florida (I live in Minnesota) and we talked, shared and laughed together. I had sent her flowers recently for her birthday and on the card I added how "faith-filled" she is and she brought that up. We really had a nice visit. It always feels good when someone calls you and wants to spend time with you! I can be very selfish in this way but last night I made time for my sister and it felt wonderful! I felt so peaceful all evening after having connected with her! (Before, I would have made an excuse why I was too busy to call my sister to talk.)
Change Number 2:
Last night another interesting thing occurred. I received a text from another sister of mine asking if we could talk and pray together today. My first reaction was, "I have to work tomorrow, I won't have time, she''ll understand" And then it hit me... Wow, how selfish of me. My sister is asking for 15, maybe 30 minutes of my time to use in prayer and I am going to say no? OK Theresa, this is a perfect example of when you should say "YES" to your sister and "YES" to God. And I know that after I hang up the phone today with my sister, I will be spiritually on fire, Yet if I had worked through that time, I would never recall the emails I would have read or responded too. You just can't compare working for the Kingdom of God with the mundane tasks of this world, so when God calls as blatantly as He did through my sister, you had better act! (Before I would have postponed the talk and prayer time with my sister.)
Change Number 3: This is a BIG one! Over the last three years, I made excuses for why I could not write blog entries here and share my faith journey...but today...I made the time and it feels soooo good! Why does being in alignment with God and His kingdom always feel so good? (For 3 years I put off writing about my faith, but not today!)
Change Number 4: Today is one of my nieces's birthdays. I called her at 7:00 am (she is an elementary teacher so I know she is awake) and left a birthday message on her phone and told her how much I love her and how excited I am for her with all of the new things in her life, a new car, a new house, etc. It feels really good to do this! I know how good it feels when people remember me on my birthday and I hope my call made her feel good. (Before I would have thought about her, maybe thought about calling, but I probably would not have made the call.)
Wow, in just 24 hours with making a YES, God I want to come back to you, I am amazed at how I have changed, become more sensitive and caring and aware of opportunities to serve Him through little gestures. I feel a new peacefulness inside and I feel more connected to God than I have in a while! I don't think every act we do has to be talking about God or in the church, by simply calling someone, we are loving them, and God IS LOVE! We are emulating God by reaching out, making time for others.
So now I have a questions for you. Do you see opportunities in your life that you are not taking action on but that you know are in alignment with God's will for you? Are there people in your life, friends, relatives that you could call and have a conversation with and even pray with? If so, how and when can you make a change, just baby steps to bring God back into your life through reaching out to others and spending 15 minutes with Him every morning?
I was restless and could not sleep. It is 2:00am.
Ok, I'm going to be brutally honest. I have not added a post to this blog for three years because I have been consumed with my small business and making money. The sad part is that my spiritual life has taken a toll as well. I used to read, listen to Relevant Radio, listen to Catholic apologists, have an active prayer list, pray regularly, say the Rosary, look for ways to help others, have a God savings account, and because of this I was growing so much spiritually, but all of this has almost come to a standstill. I think they say have "backslidden..."
I don't regret focuses on making money because life without money is brutal, horrible, depressing. You can't do anything besides buying groceries without cringing and feeling guilty. And once your kids become teenagers, they know if you barely have enough money to get by. (You can hide it when they are toddlers and even in elementary school but when they are teenagers, they know if you have money or if you're always scraping.) Life sucks when you don't have money, it's plain and simple. You watch everyone else take trips with their kids, freely go out, go on vacations, go shopping, take up new hobbies and it feels like life and so many opportunities are passing you and your family by.
So three years ago I replaced my Catholic growth education and active prayer life with being educated by people who know how to grow a business and make more money. After three years of changing how I deal with money, how I set goals to continue to make more money, and how I run and am growing my small business, I have to say that this part of my life is much better. Having more money has taken a lot of pressure off of me. If my daughter needs a new pair of shoes I don't have to worry that I don't have enough in my checking account. I have huge goals for my business and I don't think there is any stopping me now. God didn't mean for us to be poor.
I used to think being poor or of humble means was looked upon as "good" in God's eyes. But poor people cannot help others. Poor people cannot give to the church or to charities. Poor people can barely help themselves. Poor people pity themselves and are obsessed and stressed and anxious and depressed about being poor. Is that how God wants us to live? I don't think so! God intends for us to get the most out of life on earth, and we need money to do this. I had to do a total paradigm shift...making money and being wealthy is not evil. Wealthy people can build churches and hospitals and homeless shelters, and donate part of their wealth and yes, take great vacations. Or wealthy people can use their wealth to only spend it on themselves. Being wealthy is not a bad thing, it depends what you do with your wealth. I have a lot more to share on this concept and will share more later.
So where am I going with this? I had to get my income and finances in line to be able to live again, and I am on the road to doing. I had to be laser focused to do this, but now I realize that without God in my life at all, or just at mass on Saturday, I am not completely fulfilled. So I need to find a way to bring God and my spiritual learning back AND continue building my wealth. One without the other just does not work, it does not make for a happy life. I've tried both ways and I was half a person and I can't live that way anymore.
So here's the thing, I'm going to continue to work my butt off everyday and continue to educate myself on building a successful business, AND I'm going to work God back into my life. But how???? I am going to do this gradually because if I try to conquer the world in one day, I will fail. So here is my plan: Every morning before starting work I am going to take 15 minutes, just 15 minutes (I can do this, right?) and spend it with God. This may be reading the Bible, in prayer, in conversation, saying the Rosary, journaling, etc. I will end with asking for his blessing on my business and acknowledging that the income I am making is truly HIs, and to give me guidance on how to be wise with my money and to show me how he wants me to give back to Him.
In addition to this, there is time in my afternoons and evenings to work on my spiritual life. The problem is that in the afternoon, I am pretty tired. I love to cook dinner for my family but after that I usually either work or clean and by 9 or so watch TV with my husband. So to make a change I am going to start planning out the week on the weekend. Maybe I start with two afternoons a week. One I call someone who I have not talked to in a while, letting them know I care about them-this is living out the Gospel. And the other I read one of my many books by Matthew Kelly or Patrick Madrid to continue to grow in my knowledge and faith. I MISS so much not having the wisdom I used to have about my faith and the church. I have let my spiritual muscle weaken and I regret it. So now, I will begin to combine my worldly life (my need to work and make money) and my spiritual life. and I will ask for God's guidance with both.
I am hopeful that in just a few weeks I will begin to experience again the amazing peace that can only come from God and living out the Gospel. After I am able to maintain this simplified plan of spiritual growth I will step it up a notch, but I want to be successful in doing baby steps first.
OK, it is 4:23 am and I am going to try to sleep.
If you have every had similar struggles, I would love it if you share them!
Theresa G. is fascinated by the topics of God, spiritually and the Catholic Church. As her faith and knowledge about these topics grow, her desire to write about them grows as well. Maybe you will be able to relate to one of her articles and maybe they will affect you in a positive way!