Abundant Grace for Living Holy
Lent is such an amazing time - it truly is a time of special and abundant grace. When I prayed about what I should focus on this Lent a few years ago - FORGIVENESS - kept emerging. At first, it made very little sense to me, as I feel I'm pretty solid with this subject. I mean, come on, I give retreats on forgiveness for heavens sake! I bare my soul over and over, sharing how I have needed to forgive and howI have needed to be forgiven. In addition I believe in God's mercy and love, and fully accept and cherish His gift of forgiveness.
40 Days of Learning to Forgive
Forgiveness needs to extended because Christ first offered it to us. I especially love how it is given so beautifully in Reconciliation (big, big fan!). So what more could there be? God gave me two CLEAR answers.
Lastly, I pondered the peace inducing insights and inspirations of my favorite book on forgiveness:
2018 Lenten Forgiveness Retreat
February 2006, the first time I walked into a room full of women gathered to study God's word together - not only with a bible but along with a book! The book, The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren - would begin a remarkable transformation of my faith life. Although, I only stayed with that first group for three years, recognizing the blessing of coming together on a weekly basis, now, in a very unlikely role, I am the host!
Family Clean vs Company Clean
Although initially overwhelmed at the idea of hosting or even leading a group, the blessing it had been in my life was too great to let the fear keep me from providing this opportunity to others. The first real issue - the family vs company clean status of my home on any given day. My busy schedule and self confessed laziness made the idea of having a spotless home every week - daunting to say the least. Then came my fear of not knowing enough to be 'in charge', and lastly, what if no one wanted to come or I wasn't able to maintain a friendly environment. Sadly, I had seen friendships strained when faith belief's collide. All valid concerns but none insurmountable.
A quickly learned, true friends are cool with family clean (as long as they are not sticking to floor or furniture, and you've wiped down the bathroom things are cool), they weren't coming to see what I knew but to grow in relationship with Christ, and lastly, all you can do is treat people with love and respect. Over the years as I have held small group book / bible studies at the parish, other people's homes and yes, even in my own dining room! While there may arise a difference here and there, we've managed to avoid fist-a-cuffs, so I can safely say all my fears have been completely unfounded!
So let me share my top 5 confidence boosters that I hope will inspire you to invite friends and soon to be friends to encounter God and a life of faith in a whole new way!!
Guess What. You DO NOT need to know all the answers!! If you need to look something up - do it. If you need to check with your Pastor and get back to the group - do it! A facilitator is not a teacher - while you may have skills in that area, it is not necessary. As Joshua says, DO not be afraid, be bold and courageous, and as Nike says, Just Do It!
My 2018 Saint Posse
A few years ago I realized at the end of the year, that I seemed to turn toward the same saints each day for intercession. I also noticed that my group of heavenly friends also tended to shift from year to year. New saints were added as I discovered them in my spiritual reading, as well as, different seasons of my life seem to draw me to special intercessors.
I dubbed them my saint posse and created the hashtag: #SaintPosse
Who is in your 2018 Saint Posse???
Can you name all of the Saints in Mine?
Hint: Some of my Posse includes a Venerable and two Blesseds #OnTheirWay
Marian Virtue Series
Before the gracious invitation from Strengthen My Heart, I had NEVER heard of the Marian Virtue of Angelic Sweetness. Now, I strive every day to emulate it. Find out more about that unique and beautiful virtue of the Blessed Mother and NINE others as you read more of the Ten Marian Virtue series.
Blog Tour Stop
What made me decide to move The Friendship Project from the "MAYBE" review pile to the "Oh MY Gosh! YES" review pile? READ MORE ....
A GREAT HONOR
Honored and SURPRISED when my Catholicmom.com piece on FIVE HOPE-FILLED prayers to help those who worry (like me) was selected to be shared on the Family Rosary blog. I'll chalk this one up to my original #SaintPosse intercessors: Fr. Patrick Peyton. Thanks for the assist, Fr. P! Worried? Anxious? ... check this one out.
I am a horrible friend
Some people appear to have a natural aptitude for being a friend. Me, not so much. I've often said, "I stink as a friend". I don't mean to. My self-centered needs usurps my best of intentions. Aware of my friendship deficit, I was unsure if I possessed the acumen to review Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet's new book. To be honest, when I received my copy of The Friendship Project: The Catholic Women's Guide to Making and Keeping Fabulous, Faith-Filled Friends from Ave Maria Press, I placed it in the "maybe review" pile.
I began my "reading" by exploring Michele and Emily's The Friendship Project website. My history with these two ministry powerhouses afforded a confidence that I'd find a storehouse of rockin' supplemental material. Likewise, I trusted TheFriendshipProject.com to guide my "review or not to review" decision, once I was acquainted with the book and the accompanying group study. After perusing the sample chapter and watching the group study videos, my enthusiasm for the book blossomed but I was still apprehensive about posting a review.
In their introductory video, Michele and Emily beautifully illustrate our shared belief that there are no coincidences in life as they share many moments in their friendship that only the Lord could have orchestrated. I call those "only God could have done this" type of moments a godcidence. My answer as to whether I was qualified to review a book on friendship came as my own godcidence moment. When I received an email graciously invited by my new friends, Michele and Emily, (thanks to gift of social media) inviting me to be a part of The Friendship Project blog tour. Clearly, the Lord knew I (like so many others) would benefit from reading (and sharing) this book. It was also the perfect opportunity to practice the virtues of friendship highlighted in The Friendship Project.
You Had me at No Guilt
The tipping-point came in a simple statement from the authors assuring me there is no guilt within these pages. After hearing that I knew I'd love this new book as much as I did their first, Divine Mercy for Moms. Her words reassured me that I could read this book and feel better (not worse) about my ability to be and accept friends in my life. Women are so hard on themselves. We set these ridiculous goals of perfection and even if we are reaching them never feel good enough.
Thank goodness for the blessing of friendship, beginning with the one God blessed Michele and Emily with, which made this fabulous new book and group study possible.
In The Friendship Project, Michele and Emily explore the cardinal and theological virtues with an eye toward friendship. Focusing on faith, hope, love, prudence, gratitude, loyalty, generosity, and prayerfulness, they help us answer questions such as, “What does it mean to be women of hope, and how does that change our lives and make us more compassionate friends during difficult times?” and “How does prayerfulness teach us how to listen to and talk with both God and our friends, which helps us reach out to those we love?”
Why Is This Important?
God did not create us in isolation nor to live in isolation. We are created from love, to love and to be loved. God does not ask the impossible of us. He provides all the grace, wisdom and understanding to accomplish his desires for our lives that includes fabulous, faith-filled friends. The Friendship Project offers amazing insights, resources and guides to bring your friendships to a whole new level.
The Author's Introduce the Project
Friends of Virtue
A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter:
Making and keeping friends has been a long standing struggle. I have often felt like a round peg trying to be the square peg to fit in with others. True friendship, I have discovered, comes from being able to be myself - and loved even when I am not being the best me. Wish The Friendship Project existed when I was in my twenties as I began to juggle work and friends; or my thirties as I navigated even bigger strains on my time for friends - marriage and motherhood. The more responsibilities added to my life the less time I found for others.
In 2006, I began attending a weekly faith sharing group. This was a game changer. My relationship with God strengthened but more importantly came an unexpected blessing of the addition of godly friends in my life. Though not without missteps and misunderstandings, my friendships have definitely evolved into sturdy shelters and cherished treasures. The excitement of sharing The Friendship Project with my faith-filled friends envelopes me with a Christmas Morning type anticipation. I can only imagine the soaring heights of joy, peace and hope God has in store for our relationships as we incorporate newly honed virtues into them.
Some of My Sturdy Shelter Posse
Michele and Emily's friendship project not only affirmed the wisdom of the power of friends of faith but also provide much needed guidance in making, building, and maintaining those relationships.
I highly recommend adding The Friendship Project: The Catholic Woman's Guide to Making and Keeping Fabulous, Faith-filled Friends to our reading list. As an advocate for Group Study, I highly recommend reading this with friends as well. God blesses us in many ways while we are upon this earth. One of His special gifts are the people he places in our lives. Let The Friendship Project become your owner's manual to getting the most of this precious present from our Loving Father!
About the Authors:
Michele Faehnle and Emily Jaminet are busy wives, mothers, and volunteers. They are also friends, Catholic speakers, and the dedicated coauthors of Divine Mercy for Moms, which continues to inspire women to come together to pray, study, and live in friendship around the Divine Mercy devotion. In the midst of their active lives, Faehnle and Jaminet found themselves missing their old friends and searching for new ones. They also realized that they needed to continually work to develop deep, meaningful relationships that would allow them to be themselves, to care for others and be cared for, and to deepen their Catholic faith.
In The Friendship Project, Faehnle and Jaminet explore the cardinal and theological virtues with an eye toward friendship. Focusing on faith, hope, love, prudence, gratitude, loyalty, generosity, and prayerfulness, they help us answer questions such as, “What does it mean to be women of hope, and how does that change our lives and make us more compassionate friends during difficult times?” and “How does prayerfulness teach us how to listen to and talk with both God and our friends, which helps us reach out to those we love?”
Faehnle and Jaminet answer these questions and more by employing Church teaching and telling us stories of their own friendships and those from the lives of saints and biblical women—including the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Elizabeth, St. Thérèse of Lisieux and her sister Servant of God Léonie, and Sts. Perpetua and Felicity. Not only will you be drawn closer to friends both new and old but you’ll also be reminded how these friendships—and the virtues you practice to nurture them—draw you closer to God.
Prayers, discussion questions, and a study guide make this a perfect resource for women’s groups.
(from The Friendship Project product page ~ Ave Maria Press)