Daily Spirituality

What I’m learning about choice and gratitude from not skipping songs on my iPod

Blossoms on trees: the kind of thing I've begun to notice now that I'm not fixating on song choices when I'm running.

One of my Lenten sacrifices is not skipping songs on my iPod. I can choose the playlist, but if a song does not fit my mood, I can’t skip it. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, part of my inspiration was this 2009 post from Betty Duffy. The excerpt that has stuck with me all these years is this: I set [the iPod] on “shuffle” and skip song after song that appears on the screen. “No. Not that. Can’t tolerate this one right now. Does not match my mood.” Music must serve me by sustaining desired feelings or changing... Read More

The secret to not being overwhelmed

Shaun the Sheep overdose.

One of the turning points in my life was an email I received from Fr. Joseph Langford, MC back in 2009. He was close friends with Mother Teresa, and she worked with him to found her order of priests. I had the privilege of getting to know Fr. Langford because I was working with him on a website project, and one day when I was feeling particularly overwhelmed, I decided to seek his advice. I note that this was taken while we were re-organizing the house. (If you interpret that to mean that the living room looks much better at the end of a typical... Read More

The courage to rest

Praying the ancient Vespers prayers at sunset. That's the life.

A few years ago, I found myself in a state of being perpetually overwhelmed. I mean, I still feel that way a lot of the time now, but back then it was worse. There was more of a sense of hopelessness, a feeling that I was sinking and couldn’t figure out how to pull myself up. Nothing I did seemed to get us any closer to having a peaceful routine or a house that didn’t look like it was b-roll footage from Hoarders. I pondered and prayed and whined about the issue for months, then, finally, something clicked. I had an epiphany that would... Read More

When in doubt…GO

westgate-pool

I got a word of the year! The same day I said I wasn’t inspired to do one, God gave me one. It was one of those rare moments of getting a very direct and clear inspiration that definitely did not come from me. I was thinking of something else entirely, then, out of the blue, I was overcome by the message: HERE IS YOUR WORD. Before I tell you what it is, a bit of backstory: In our pre-kid days, Joe and I used to throw parties. Our building had a large deck on the 25th floor that included a pool and sweeping views of downtown Austin to one side,... Read More

Your patron saint for 2014!

saints-name-generator

It’s that time of year again! I used my week of being under the weather to touch up the Saint’s Name Generator, so it’s all set for another round of saint choosing. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the Saint’s Name Generator is a simple program I created to choose a saint’s name at random. I like to use it to find saints to for each year, as well as for other causes and events for which I could use some extra prayers. There are about 300 names in the database, so it’s a great way to discover... Read More

Why a show about meth dealers made me feel closer to God

I mentioned the TV show Breaking Bad in yesterday’s post, and it made me a little nervous when a few upstanding Christian ladies said that they’d never heard of it but might check it out on my recommendation. It immediately triggered one of my Dominican Sisters nightmares: I pictured one of the sweet nuns checking in on my blog, seeing my recommendation for the show, and assuming that its title must be short for something like Breaking Bad Habits! She pulls it up during recreation time, and the other sisters walk in to see dead drug... Read More

21 tips for survival mode

A few years ago I made a passing comment about being in “bare minimum mode” because we had four kids under age five. I was surprised when I opened up email the next morning to have a flood of questions asking me for more details about this concept. Ever since then, any time I bring up the topic I get a great response from others who find themselves in seasons of life when things are too crazy to do anything other than just get by. I find myself in a survival season once again since I now have six kids under age nine, so I thought I’d... Read More

Six questions for conquering crazy-think and making good decisions

I don’t do suffering well. Some generous people said that they thought I handled the pulmonary embolism thing gracefully, but a) they would have retracted all of that and slowly backed away in fear if they could have heard my inner dialogue, and b) sitting in a quiet hospital room and listening to my iPod didn’t exactly make me St. Josephine Bakhita. Also, it’s usually the little trials that throw me for a loop more than the big ones: I can kind of go with the flow when major medical procedures go awry, but getting interrupted... Read More

Behind the scenes of a mid-life crisis

I think I had a mid-life crisis a few months ago. It was a weird experience, because I didn’t see it coming. Ever since my conversion I’ve had this unshakable sense of peace at the foundation of my life, a sort of root-level happiness that I never knew was possible. Yeah, things are hard, sometimes really hard, and I whine now and then (okay, a lot), but all of that stuff has to do with day to day annoyances. When you look past all that, I’m actually deeply fulfilled with this crazy existence of mine — after all, life doesn’t... Read More

A meditation on the shocking idea that maybe we’re actually not just lazy whiners

When Joe first saw me in the hospital, he said I reminded him of this scene from Office Space:. I had tubes in my nose, a 16-gauge IV in my hand that was causing me constant pain, had just received a daunting diagnosis that left me with a ton of questions about both my immediate and long-term circumstances, and yet I seemed…happy. Undoubtedly, a large part of that can be attributed to being lifted up by so many wonderful prayers. But there was something else, too, that was responsible for my surprisingly peaceful state of mind: Relief. December... Read More

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