Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Who is TNSPC?

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Thoughts on Dismantling the Biggest Lie

Picture of the book "The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity" (Matthew Kelly) on a patio table.
Dismantling the Biggest Lie could take a lifetime. Matthew Kelly has published another excellent thought-provoking book. I had the privilege of reading his latest book before it was available to the general public. (Being a Dynamic Catholic Ambassador provided me with that privilege).

A Lot of Quote-Worthy Material

This book is chock-full of quotes you'll want to remember, so make sure you have your highlighter with you each time you pick it up. There is a lot of information in this book, so you'll want to make sure you have time to really stew on it.
Some of my favorite quotes:
💜 Focus on affecting what you can affect and you will have the most effect. It all starts with you.

  • This quote was right at the beginning of the book and it grabbed me from the get-go. 

💜  We even want to be perceived positively by people we don't like.

  • Oh. My. Gosh. This is spot on. I know that I do that exact thing. I say I don't care what someone thinks about me, but boy do I ever. 

💜  The first Christians differentiated themselves from society. Modern Christians blend in.

  •  Isn't this so true? Our modern culture tells us that we have to blend in; we are "weird" if we're different. 

💜  Life is for living, and the best living is done amid the ordinary things of each day.

  • We don't have to do any big, great things. As St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta said, "Do small things with great love." 

💜 Jesus instructed the apostles to go out and transform the world by making disciples of all nations. 

  • That's the key, in my opinion, to dismantling the biggest lie in the history of Christianity. 

💜 God uses those who make themselves available to him.

  • How often am I really available to God? How many times do I skip evening prayer because I spent time on social media or watching tv instead of making myself available to God? 

💜 It isn't that God has stopped speaking but rather that we have stopped listening.

  • I used to have to have some noise in the background at all times, whether it be the radio or the tv, even when going to bed at night. We have so much "stuff" going on, so much noise that we have stopped listening to God. 

Real Life Applications, Lies, and a Common Denominator

There's even some apologetics included in this book. Real-life applications to help you out when someone makes a comment contrary to Church belief. During a discussion with one of my sons, he mentioned that there were some really bad Catholics in history and that maybe Catholicism isn't so great. Mr. Kelly asks us to look at other groups of people. Chances are, you'll find some "bad people" within that group but that doesn't make the group as a whole bad. Unfortunately, there are some teachers who have been found in compromising situations/relationships with their students. That doesn't make all teachers sexual predators.
Five of the biggest lies about Christianity is briefly discussed in the book, along with the Biggest Lie. Find out what the first Christians did to change the world and what we can do in modern times. Read 10 things that Mr. Kelly believes every single person who walks through the church doors have on their minds. (He hit that nail right on the head.)

The Bible and Social Media

As Christians, why don't we read the Bible more than we do? Mr. Kelly gives some very strong arguments to answer that question. Good, solid arguments that will have you nodding your head in agreement.
As part of the Biggest LIe, Mr. Kelly discusses social media (you'll want to check out my post on social media) and its effect on the Biggest Lie. This wasn't so much of an eye-opener to me as it was an affirmation.

So what is the biggest lie?  You'll have to read the book for yourself to find out. I'll give you a hint: it starts with YOU.
These are only my thoughts on dismantling the biggest lie. What are yours?

**This post also appears on Association of Catholic Bloggers.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Cultivating the Dormant Seeds of Faith

yellow flowers under the sentence "It is my responsibility to keep planting mustard seeds and pray that it will take off and grow into a large plant."
Picture courtesy of Pexels
Unless you're one of the lucky ones, you may not have to worry about cultivating those dormant seeds of faith in a loved one. Chances are, though, there's someone in your life who could use some cultivating.

Maybe I'm Trying too Hard?

As is becoming my routine, I read the Mass Readings during my Adoration Hour. When I read them on Thursday I highlighted different things than what caught my attention while listening to them during Mass. I think maybe I try too hard when I'm reading during Adoration and then what I really need to get from it comes to me during Mass.

How Catholics are Like Birds

The first thing that I noticed when I read the Readings was the mention of birds being under a tree in the 1st Reading and then again in the Gospel. I'm enjoying spending my mornings this summer on my back porch listening to the birds waking up and getting down to business. I hear all different kinds of birds; with some, I can recognize their songs but some I can't. We have a section of our property just to the side of the house that we've allowed to grow...it provides a buffer between our house and our next-door neighbor's house and allows us a bit of privacy. The bushes started out small and have now grown to be quite tall, giving the birds nesting areas and plenty of places to hide. I like to think the birds all coming together are like the Catholic Church. It is universal; people from every nation come together for one purpose: to glorify God. We don't speak the same language but we are all united with the Mass as well as with the reason for participating in it. God has given us the large tree (the Church) that is massive enough for all of us.

Let the Cultivating Begin

I have adult children who have strayed from the Catholic Church. My little chicks have wandered out from under that massive tree and the shade it provides. How do I get them back? Today's Gospel (Mark 4:26-34) mentions a mustard seed that is sown and then grows to the largest of plants. It is my responsibility to keep planting mustard seeds within them - little hints of Catholicism - and pray that it will take off into a large plant. If you have children of any age then you know that you can't come out and say something to them...they will do the opposite. If you come on too strongly they will run the other way. Planting those little seeds and then watering them by praying may just get that large plant. It's not going to happen overnight, but I have to believe that someday it will happen.

How does that seed get planted? One way is by example. My "boys" see me praying; they see me reading books on the Catholic Faith. Another way is by leaving little things around the house: pamphlets or books. When I read Father Donald Calloway's book No Turning Back and read about his conversion, I thought about how ecstatic his mom must have been. Father's conversion was one of earthquake proportion. I realize that's probably not going to happen with my boys, but it definitely gave me hope. His conversion began with a book about Mary; I have plenty of those around the house! The other day something I said to one of my sons ended up sparking a discussion on Catholicism so you never know when something that has been said will take off into a direction you didn't expect.

My boys are cradle Catholics so the seed was planted a long time ago. The problem is that they are lying dormant and need some water and sunshine to grow. Some Miracle Grow probably wouldn't hurt, either. Miracles do happen and I will continue to water those seeds as long as I live.  I will continue cultivating the dormant seeds of faith as long as it takes.

More Ideas




Thursday, June 14, 2018

Social Media Can Be a Good Thing if Used for Good

cell phone displaying social media outlets being held in a hand
Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels
Social Media can be a good thing if it's used for good. For the most part, the people I follow on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter do just that. Basically, the people I choose to follow aren't those who post lewd comments/pictures and have positive posts. I'm not saying that every post I see is like that, but you can make that choice to only follow positive influences. It's definitely a choice.

One strange god

The First Commandment states: I am the Lord, thy God. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me. Well, social media is definitely one strange god, that's for sure! It can be addictive and it can draw you away from having real relationships. It can definitely keep you from having a real relationship with God. If all of your spare time is focused on seeing what you missed on social media or watching clips from YouTube, where's your time for God? Where is your time for your family? Walk around town and count how many people are constantly checking their phone. Now we have "smartwatches" so all people have to do is look at their wrists to "stay connected". They don't even have to exert any extra energy by pulling their phones out of their pockets/purses...they only have to look at their wrists!

I am by no means saying I'm perfect and have never checked my phone constantly. This past Lent I started putting my phone on silent mode. I was able to be more dedicated to my job and actually didn't mind not being strapped to my phone. It was actually quite freeing! I liked it so much that I continued that practice. Social media is becoming a kind of "god"...some people can't do without it. By spending every bit of free time checking whatever form they prefer, they are worshipping social media.

Think of everything they are missing! While they are on their phones (or watches), the world is passing them by! These lines from the song Hold Out for Love (Francesca Battistelli) say it all:
Take your time, take your time, breathe it in
Just enjoy the moment you're in.

Taking it all in without taking pictures

In Matthew Kelly's book The Biggest Lie in the History of Christianity, he discusses social media. He discusses how being so enthralled by social media keeps us from living. I have been so guilty of this: having to take pictures no matter what's going on so I can post it to Facebook, Instagram, or even one of my blogs. I ended up feeling like I didn't really experience what was going on.
A couple of weekends ago one of my sons graduated from law school. I went in armed with my phone and my "big girl camera". I have to say I was quite relieved when I saw my brother-in-law with his camera all set up on a tripod, ready to snap away. I was able to sit back and really take in his graduation without worrying about getting pictures.  I put my phone in my pocketbook and didn't take it out until we found my son outside of the arena following the ceremony. I didn't miss a thing, and I definitely didn't miss taking pictures!
None of my 3 adult sons are big into social media, and I like that about them. I like that they are all about "living in the moment" and not feeling the need to record everything they do. One of my sons isn't on any kind of social media at all. He said that it's not "real life". That's exactly what Matthew Kelly says in his book. "Social media robs us of life. It takes our focus off living life and shifts it to presenting a false image of ourselves and our lives to other people." What I wouldn't give for my son to spend some time with Mr. Kelly!

How to use social media for good

1) Check out who is following you. If the person's posts raise eyebrows, block him/her.
2) Only put things on social media that you would want your grandmother to see. Another litmus test: if it was on the front page of your local newspaper, would you be embarrassed?
3) Put your phone down. Better yet, disable all of the notifications (visual and audible) for social media outlets so you aren't tempted.
4) Never, ever buy a smartwatch. I'm actually a bit amazed that people are so attached to their social media or emails that they can't live without one.
5) Limit how long you are on social media. Set a timer if you have to. When the timer goes off, just walk away. It really isn't hard.

So, yes. Social Media can be a good thing if used for good, not evil. I know some people who will completely ban it from their lives during Lent. That's not a bad thing, but you don't have to go to that extreme. If you limit what you're putting out there and limit the time, it doesn't have to take over your life and become a god.

Want more information on Social Media and Catholics?



Need a break from posts that challenge you to be virtuous? This blog post explores tips and strategy to help cleanse you from your addiction to social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat).

***This post has been linked to Worth Revisiting sponsored by Theology is a Verb and Reconciled to You.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Sin, Slow Revelations, and a Packed Gospel

 Written words "We too believe therefore we speak" from 2Corinthians 4:13
This Sunday's Mass Readings had sin, slow revelations, and a packed gospel. It seemed to have more this week than others. From well-known stories to familial relationships to searching for answers, they were very busy readings.

It's About Sin

Adam and Eve. We all know the story, right? It seems every time it's read in Mass there's a different message for me. God didn't have to ask Adam what he had done, He already knew but Adam needed to have God ask to make what he did real to him. As my priest said, this passage isn't about being naked, it's about sin. (And here I thought the whole time it was about Adam & Eve realizing they were naked and exposed.) The embarrassment, the shame, the nakedness we feel when we sin. And the humility we feel when we confess our sins. We can blame others for our sins but when it comes down to it we only have ourselves to blame.

Slow But Sure Revelations

As I get older I see and feel my body showing the signs of age. My knees creak and my back aches. I'm not able to do things that I did in my teens and twenties; heck, even things I did in my thirties and forties! During the Readings at Mass as I listened to this passage: "...although our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day." (2Corinthians 4:16) I thought of how slowly God reveals things to us. He is preparing us to be with Him by little revelations of His love every day just at the precise moment. Things we did or said as we were growing up are given meaning slowly but surely.  As I read this, a thought came to me: I noticed how it's taken me 56 years to truly understand some things in the Bible and in Catholic teachings/practices. Things are slowly revealed to us when God knows we can grasp the true meaning of things. Wow. Just...WOW! What a plan He has for us!

Quite a Packed Gospel

When I first read the Gospel my first thought was how packed it is this Sunday. So many things are in this passage! (Mark 3:20-35) The first thing my priest said during the Homily: "This  Gospel is packed with information!" I had to smile since he used the same word to describe it as I did. Sometimes I think it's crazy how we're on the same wavelength!  He spoke of the familial relationship in the passage. Jesus' family was concerned about his safety: they wanted to get him out of the situation as fast as they could. By Jesus saying his family was there with him, he is calling us to a familial relationship for those who hear the Word of God and live it out.
After reading the Gospel on my own during Adoration on Thursday, my focus was on something else. "How can Satan drive out Satan?" (Mark 3: 23) I had a discussion with one of my adult sons the other day. He asked how we can be sure the Bible wasn't Satan-inspired as opposed to being God-inspired. I told him because the words are for good. I should have gone deeper. The Bible gives us a blueprint for how we should live our lives to achieve our goal: To get to heaven. The answer to my son's question is right there in the Gospel...in Jesus' own words. If it was Satan-inspired then the evil one would be driving himself out. He wants nothing more than to steer us away from the Holy Trinity, not draw us closer. That being said, there is no way that Satan had his hand in writing the Bible.

In the book God's Enduring Presence (Joyce Rupp) I read this: Beware of those who try to steal your joy from you. Satan is real, Y'all, and he's doing his best to steal our joy. I even see it in my own house. He puts doubts into family members and is putting me to the test, asking questions that require real answers. Answers that I may not think I have. Then I see the Holy spirit feeding me the answers so I don't have a "deer in headlights" look. The Holy Spirit is alive and is ready to assist us in battle every step of the way.
How was your Homily? Was it full of sin, slow revelations, and a packed gospel, too?
Reflections on Mass Readings include sin, slow revelations, and a packed Gospel. Plus how the Holy Spirit guided me to an answer through Jesus' own words.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Which Catholic Planner is Better for You? A Review of Two Planners

This blog post compares 2 popular Catholic Planners to give you some ideas of what a perfect planner would look like for a mom who wants to stay on the right track with her faith during her busy life. 1 planner may be purchased as printables and stickers may be purchased. Both are beautiful planners with a monthly and weekly calendar and follow Church teachings. Which Catholic planner works best for you? Read the post to discover if one of these mentioned is just what you've been looking for.
Are you considering purchasing a planner specific to a Catholic woman's needs? Which Catholic Planner is better for you? How do you decide? I am comparing two different planners; one I have used for a year and a half (Blessed is She), the other I am just beginning to use (Catholic Through the Year).

Deciding on an Academic Catholic Planner

For the past couple of years, I used a Blessed is She Planner & loved it...at first. Since I work for a school system I preferred an academic planner. BIS has come out with one and I thought about purchasing one but I purchased the Jan. - Dec. one and I couldn't justify spending $58 when I still had half of a year left in my planner.
When my CTTY (Catholic Through The Year) arrived in the mail, upon opening the package, the first thing I noticed was the difference in size. The CTTY planner is slightly larger than the BIS mini-planner (6.75" x 9.25" vs. 6.25" x 8.25"). This is the first year BIS has offered a mini-planner and the CTTY Planner is significantly smaller and lighter than the original BIS planner. However, I have the BIS Planner in the original size.
The BIS Planner's cover is heavier, like a heavy cardboard; the CTTY's cover is heavy cardstock with a plastic cover for protection.
Cover of CTTY Daybook showing the  plastic cover
As you can see, the binding is different for each one. It would seem that the BIS would be a bit sturdier but after 5 months it looked like this:
I also had to squeeze the coils back together since they separated and the pages came out when I turned to the back of the planner. Time will tell with the CTTY to see if it will hold up better.
The BIS Academic Planner begins in August and runs through the following July. CTTY runs from July to July, giving you 13 months. The school system where I work begins school at the very beginning of August (as in August 1st) so the staff returns in July. The organizer in me prefers to start off a new year with a new planner, not to have to switch to a new one a couple of weeks after I go back to work.

Same Features

Monthly Calendar: BIS (L), CTTY (R)
In the BIS Planner's monthly view I never even looked at the top. The lines separating the days were pretty light in the previous planner,  but they are darker in this version than the one before. I used the "Don't Forget" space to write down students' meetings that were due at school. I can continue to do that same thing under the goals/notes in the CTTY. I like the "Papal Intentions" for each month in CTTY. I know the intention of the colored days in BIS is to alert for Holy Days but I rarely paid attention to that; I used my church's bulletin for that.
Weekly View: BIS (L), CTTY (R)
There are some differences between the weekly views. The BIS has lines for the hours of the day and has blank spaces for Saturday and Sunday (the new version also has hours of the day for the weekend); CTTY allows you to compartmentalize your days. I'm really excited about this feature because I can devote a row to church activities, personal, and each of my schools. That should help me be a bit more organized. There's a checklist on the side for a weekly "To Do List" as well as reminders for Daily Examens.
In my BIS planner, the "Today I Will" and "I loved my" were usually blank. Actually, I would write a daily word or short phrase in 'Today I Will' when something struck me while reading the Mass Readings.
2 open planners with a view of the prayers on the pages
Prayer Pages: BIS (L), CTTY (R)
Both of the planners include pages with common Catholic prayers. BIS has 5 pages devoted to prayers that includes a page on how to pray the Rosary and another page for the mysteries of the Rosary; CTTY has 5 that includes suggested intentions for each day of the week, the mysteries of the Rosary as well as prayers of the Rosary. CTTY also includes an "Ode to Feminine Genius" from Proverbs 31 Catholic Woman. 
In addition, both planners have feast days listed; the difference is where they are. BIS has them listed on the monthly page; CTTY has them listed on the weekly page. 
- Both planners have pages for notes; again the difference is where they are. CTTY has them in the front, BIS has the better part of a page before each weekly view. 
- Both have "Dates to remember": 
Open Planner showing 1 page with space to write important dates
BIS

Open planner to write birthday and anniversaries according to month
CTTY

What One Has That the Other Doesn't

The main thing that BIS has is pockets. These came in very handy to store stickers and loose papers in. That is a huge thing I'm going to miss.
Pocket from planner holding stickers

BIS also has a "to do" list within each week as well as a monthly prayer. As you can see in the view above, the BIS has tabs for each month. It's not a deal breaker for me; I usually put clips for the monthly view.  This planner also has a dedicated space for a grocery list and meal planning. I started using the meal planning section but only so I wouldn't have to open my laptop to see what the plans were for the week.
CTTY actually has a lot more features. In fact, there are quite a few that I probably won't use. These include an Address section, notes, birthday/anniversary calendar, to do list, gift list, and the gift challenge. On the weekly view, the Daily Mass Readings are shown; I won't use that feature only because I use the Magnificat every morning.
(One thing about CTTY: you can purchase a digital copy and only print out what you think you will use.)
Now for what I'm super excited about: CTTY has a "Spiritual Sketch"; one page explains it, another demonstrates how to use it, the other is blank. It's a way to put down your spiritual goals for the year.
Open planner with written explanation of a Spiritual Sketch
Explanation of a Spiritual Sketch
Open planner showing an example of a Spiritual Sketch on 1 side and a blank one on the other
Example on left; blank on right
I also really like the Daily Reminders in the CTTY: Which mystery of the Rosary should be recited, Feast Days, and Daily Mass Readings. I suppose I should pay attention to what color vestment the priest wears every day, but I don't. (That's why I'm "not so perfect"!) I also really like the Daily Examen at the bottom of the weekly view. QR codes that will take you to articles of interest are also included. The pages for recording website logins is a HUGE plus for me! I'm not even going to tell you how I keep track right now, just let me say that this is a very welcome feature!
Open planner showing page to record website logins
Website Login Page (CTTY)
The End of the Month Devotions is a very nice addition. It adds a journaling aspect at the end of each month for you to reflect on the past month and anticipate the next.
Open planner showing 2 pages with blank spaces for monthly reflections
End of the Month Devotions
Overall: I'm very pleased with my purchase of the Catholic Through the Year Planner. It's definitely lighter than what I've been using (although I can't say for certain if it's lighter than the BIS mini planner) so my school bag should feel lighter. Time will tell about the resilience of CTTY.  I especially like the weekly view. I feel the need to compartmentalize as much as possible, so the different rows for the week are going to come in very handy. It's rare when I have more than a couple of things going on during 1 day so I don't need my day split into hours. 
Open planner showing a weekly view
CTTY Weekly View

Let's talk pricing. BIS regular size planner is regularly $58 but is now on sale for $48 (pre-order) and the mini is regularly $48 but is on sale for pre-order for $38. CTTY Hardcopy is $40; the digital copy is $9. (Keep in mind the additional cost of printing and binding.) One of the good things about the digital copy (besides what I mentioned earlier) is that you can have it printed and use a disc system to bind it. (I mentioned the disc system in this post.) 
Below is a summary of features included in each planner.
Which Catholic Planner is better for you? It all depends on what you are looking for. It depends on your vocation, how busy you are, and exactly what you need from a planner. (If you aren't a school employee, other options are available from Catholic Sistas: a Liturgical Planner that begins on the first day of Advent or a Homeschool Planner.)  I have only expressed my opinions in this post; what works for me may not work for you. If neither one of these grabs you, I found a few other ones online: Catholic Planner, The Catholic Daily Planner, as well as The Catholic Women's Companion (I'm not 100% positive that this one is still in existence.). Do you use one of these planners or something else? Which Catholic Planner works best for you?
This blog post compares 2 popular Catholic Planners to give you some ideas of what a perfect planner would look like for a mom who wants to stay on the right track with her faith during her busy life. 1 planner may be purchased as printables and stickers may be purchased. Both are beautiful planners with a monthly and weekly calendar and follow Church teachings. Which Catholic planner works best for you? Read the post to discover if one of these mentioned is just what you've been looking for.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Pray for Ireland

Image of a sculpture of an angel with a rose leaning over an empty crib over an image of the flag for the Republic of Ireland
Sculpture by Timothy P. Schmalz
Disclaimer: The following views are my own and are my opinions.

Today I  pray for Ireland. This country I've only seen once but that has a piece of my heart. This country that has gone through famine and so many wars now faces destruction through the passing to repeal Amendment 8. My heart aches for Ireland. They have no idea what they have done.

A Visibly Catholic Country

When I visited Ireland last October I loved how "Catholic" it was. I loved seeing the statues of Jesus and Mary all over the country. Just when you least expected it, there they were. There were more Catholic churches than I had ever seen in my life. I felt so much at home there. I don't have an Irish bone in my body, but I fell in love with Ireland.
Statue of Jesus on the cross with Mary, Mary Madgelene, and John at the cross' feet
Statue of the Crucifixion, Dingle Peninsula

The Wrong Idea 

I know better than to read comments on Facebook, but I read some very hurtful words. Comments such as "Now we can let go of the Catholic guilt" and "women now have a choice". The UN categorizes abortion as "human rights", but for whom? Certainly not for those babies who are killed. Prime Minister Leo Varadkar is quoted by The Washington Post as saying "...no more stigma as the veil of secrecy is lifted and no more isolation as the burden of shame is gone." Really, Prime Minister??? Even though abortion was legalized in the USA in 1973 people don't speak openly about it. It's still very hush-hush and I would say that those women who abort their babies aren't shouting it from the rooftops. They need counseling and I dare to say most never get over killing their babies. I think he's living in a dream world if he thinks that's going to change.

Destruction of the Family

Norma McCorvey (a.k.a. "Jane Roe" in Roe v Wade) eventually became an advocate for Pro-Life. Dr. Kermit Gosnell gave up his right to appeal when on trial: He chose life when there was a chance he could get the death penalty for murdering babies. What irony! Just this year the pro-life organization in my state had a huge victory: legislation was passed to ensure millions of tax dollars is now redirected from a major "national chain" of abortion clinics and will be funneled instead to state-run health departments to be appropriated for family planning programs.
You may be thinking that Ireland is just catching up with the rest of the world. The USA legalized abortion in 1973, and look at us now. We're becoming a nation that doesn't know God, where "Catholic" children don't even know how to make the sign of the cross.  American family structure is in ruins. I can count on 1 hand the number of my students who live with their moms and dads.

So today I pray for Ireland. I pray that whatever happens next is peaceful; Lord knows that country has seen their share of bloodshed. Today the devil is dancing in hell; he won this battle, but with our prayers, he won't win the war.
With the passing of "Repeal the 8th",  the Republic of Ireland voted to legalize abortion. In this Catholic Blog post, I urge prayers for the Irish. I don't have an Irish bone in my body, but I fell in love with this beautiful Celtic country during a recent visit.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Learning the Ins & Outs of Prayer Journaling

Image of the book Praying with a Pen (Mary Beth Weisenburger)
I recently read the book Praying with a Pen by Mary Beth Weisenburger (Dynamic Catholic) to learn the ins & outs of prayer journaling. (Pssst! It's free...just pay S&H!!!) I have friends who are into Bible Journaling using artwork but I'm no artist.  What I do love to do is write. I sat down with the book and a highlighter, ready to learn what I could about how to journal. I ended up only highlighting one thing from the book, and that was a statistic. It's not that there isn't great information in the book, but the big idea that Mary Beth wants to get across is that it's yours. You have to find what works for you and make it yours. Not hers, and not mine, but yours.

My Evolution

The Blessed is She journals for Advent & Lent were my introduction to prayer journaling. After my first one for Lent, I decided to branch out on my own. I went through the Mass Readings on USCCB for the liturgical season and printed out the Daily Readings as well as lines to write on.
Notebook with Daily Readings with Lines for Reflection
Daily Readings with space for reflection
I also had a monthly calendar in the front where I would write a word or short phrase as a "word of the day". I wrote names of people around the calendar who were in need of prayers.
Example of monthly calendar for word of the day from the mass readings
Calendar for daily words as well as intentions
I'm not gonna lie: that took a lot of time and paper & ink so I knew there had to be a better way. I decided to buy an inexpensive paper notebook, read the Readings in Magnificat and journal that way. 
Open planner with prayer books and notebook
My journaling evolving
I used my Blessed is She Planner and continued to write down a word of the day. 
Today, I'm using the Magnificat for the Daily Readings. I purchased the Bible Study Evangelista's Love the WordWhile it's not perfect, it's pretty close. There are tutorials available but they don't tell you exactly how to use it, so I'm making it my own.  
Cover of journal with image of Mary
This journal is beautiful!
 The only downfall is that some days the space for writing your thoughts isn't enough!
Open image of Love the Word Journal from The Bible Study Evangelista
The inside (click on picture for a larger view)
I still have my inexpensive notebook to write down thoughts and conversations. One of the most difficult things for me is to be able to actually talk to our Lord and to be silent. The being silent thing is the most difficult...the talking isn't quite so difficult! I take it into Adoration with me. Some nights there are pages, some nights I may not even get a fully formed paragraph. But it doesn't matter because it's mine

The Where, When, and a Routine

Mary Beth stressed the importance of having a designated prayer space...a space that's yours. It needs to be a quiet place, a place away from everyone else. You need to protect that space from little ones who may be curious or older ones who are looking for a pen. My boys are grown and 2 are no longer at home so this was fairly easy for me. During the school year (I'm a Speech/Language Pathologist for a school system) I sit in my chair at my desk in a spare bedroom. The downside to that is that my laptop is on my desktop and very often I get distracted by thinking about that email I need to send or about other things I need to do on the computer. Now that school is out, my favorite place is on the back porch. 
Outdoor table with prayer books, journal, coffee cup and water bottle
My Summer morning quiet place
I'm getting into a routine of walking the dogs (out of the house around 5:45 so we have the park to ourselves!) and coming back for "God time" on the porch. It's my happy place: the birds are busy chirping and singing and gathering food and the rest of the world is going about their day. In my little corner of the world, it's peaceful and quiet, except when one of our dogs can't decide if she wants inside or outside. 
I pray the Liturgy of the Hours (which I am just learning...it's a bit confusing!) then my morning prayers as well as personal intentions. I made a notebook using the "disc system" (you may own or have seen planners using the discs):
Disc notebook on table
In the zipper pouch, I have prayer cards and a pen.

Open disc notebook on table showing prayer intention page
I have a page for intentions.
Notebook with tabs for categories
I put tabs on the bottom for favorite sayings/scripture. 
Open notebook with quotes written
I'm big on quotes to give me a pick-me-up when I need it!
One of my Lenten "sacrifices" a few years ago was to wake up 30 minutes early to pray and read the Daily Readings, which started my whole journal journey. In the book, Mary Beth talks about how important it is to find your time. Since I'm an empty-nester, that was a  no-brainer for me. I don't have anyone to get ready for school except myself, and most days my husband is still in bed when I leave for work so it really wasn't a big deal for me to get up earlier. In fact, I liked it so much that I continued to get up 30 minutes early for my God time. When I went through a period following that Lent when I didn't get up early I could tell something was amiss throughout my days. I just force myself to go to bed a little earlier to make up for that extra 30 minutes. Since I started praying the Liturgy of the Hours I thought I would have to wake up even earlier but choosing to pray instead of checking my emails and Facebook takes care of that wasted time. 
So there you have it. That's how my prayer journaling has evolved and is still evolving. It works for me, but it may not work for you. There is no right or wrong way to talk to God. I've always thought that one's faith is a very personal thing and it's not going to look the same for everyone.
Do you pray by using prayer journaling? What works for you?
This blog post visits ideas for prayer journaling for beginners using a simple journal (from The Bible Study Evangelista) that is designed for you to make it your own. How my prayer life is evolving through using notebooks, Catholic quotes, daily prayers, and Scripture from the Daily Mass Readings. Pictures are provided as examples of how prayer journaling is changing my prayer life. Using the disc system I will show you how I organize part of my daily prayer routine.