For King and Country Concert

I haven’t posted a blog post since July. Life is busy, as always. Eventually, I will get around to posting some highlights from our trip to Disney World in October. Today, I wanted to share a little about the For King and Country concert that my daughter and I attended on Thursday in Baton Rouge.

Last year, I remember seeing an awesome performance of For King and Country doing the Little Drummer Boy on some TV or Christmas special. It was one of those intense and interesting performances that stick with you, so I knew that this wouldn’t be just any ordinary concert.

For King and Country is a duo of two brothers from Australia, who currently live in Nashville. They are a very popular Christian band. The concert was so interesting and different. It is extremely high energy. They and the band use so many different instruments, including a lot of percussion.

There were moments where there at least 5 different people drumming on different sets. They would pull out all kinds of different instruments, running around the stage.

At one point in the show, the whole band moved to another stage closer to where I was sitting, giving people even closer access.

At some points, the concert would pause and it would be like being at church. The two brothers were preaching about God’s love for all of us. At one point, they stopped completely to talk about sponsoring children through Compassion International, and I left this show with a monthly commitment to an 8 year old boy in Uganda. They are truly using their fame to make a difference in the world. Anyone who committed to a sponsorship during the intermission received a bag with their Christmas CD, an autographed picture, and a leather keychain.

I would definitely recommend For King and Country shows to any Christian music fan and also anyone who appreciates a good show. It was fun, entertaining, and inspiring. I had some reservations about taking my daughter to a concert on a school night (and we did end up having to leave before it was over, since she was tired), but I’m so glad that she got to have this experience with me. We have been doing her family homework to prepare for her sacrament of first reconciliation, and part of her goal this week was supposed to be doing some sort of giving to those in need. I think that our sponsorship of a boy her age will be enlightening and powerful. We wrote our first letter to him today.

If you ever get the opportunity to see For King and Country live, go for it!

Beautiful Hope

I recently read Beautiful Hope:  Finding Hope Every Day in a Broken World which is a small essay collection put out by Dynamic Catholic.  I am a lover of quotes, and I was reading, I found myself highlighting a few, so I thought I would share some of them here today. 

Optimism disappoints, but hope does not.

Pope Francis

This one stuck out to me because it started the description of the difference between optimism and hope.  I’m a naturally optimistic person and a proponent of positive thinking.  But I know a lot of people are turned off by what they view as toxic positivity.  Hope in God and His plan for us is so much deeper and more powerful than mere optimism though.

Hope is never still; hope is always journeying, and it makes us journey.

Pope Francis

Those with hope are willing to act.  Those without hope are content to wish.

Fr. Mike Schmitz

When hope dwindles, love also dies down; the heart is invaded by uneasiness and worry, which stifle charity.  Hope keeps the heart free to love, and to give itself.

Fr. Jacques Philippe

There was a lot about how hope should influence our actions and the choices that we make each day of our lives.

Hope is not merely a wish that something good might happen – it is the firm confidence and desire that the promises of God will be fulfilled.  It is the expectation that “he who began a good work among you will bring it to completion” (Philippians 1:6).

Sr. Miriam James

Hope is the theological virtue that enables us to keep our eyes on heaven – even during those times when our sufferings and trials make our lives here on earth seem like a living hell. 

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez

A reminder that hope is not about what we want and desire, but what God wants and desires for us.

In my mind, hope and purpose are directly tied to one another.  Without an understanding of purpose, there can be no hope.

Marguerite Brambani

Prayer is the great school for growing in hope.  When we pray, we realize that we are never alone.

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez

The saints are beacons of hope in the world.  They show us that ordinary men and women can be the living hands of Jesus acting in the world.  Saints show the world that God does powerful things through those that make themselves available to him.

Grandpa Paul Hess

Hope helps us to be the people that God wants us to be.  The best versions of ourselves.

Making Time for Silence

Tonight, I went to a Taizé prayer service at my church. It is a simple, meditative, and ecumenical form of worship focusing on mantra songs, short readings, and silence. The only time we got up was to put our petitions into a bowl of water and let them dissolve. The lights were dim and the choir and musicians sat on the altar. People were socially distant in the pews, allowing some true alone and quiet time away from distractions. Several times during the service I closed my eyes to more fully focus on the silence and my prayers.

My church also has family adoration nights which combine dim lights, praise and worship music, and adoration of the blessed sacrament. I seek out these services because they allow me to devote some intentional time to silence.

I often crave silence in a world that can be too loud for my mind and soul. Sometimes at home, I ask my family to just leave me alone so that I can go sit in a bath by myself and be quiet. From my talkative child to my loud, barking dogs to the always blaring TV, it can be a challenge to find peace and quiet within the home.

Sometimes, I like to go outside and lay in my hammock and just listen to the sounds of the birds. I need to create more time to intentionally sit in silence, however. It has been awhile since I took time to meditate (and I often fall asleep while doing so). Silent prayer is powerful and let’s you hear more of what God has to say to you, if you can just make time for it.

Many people are uncomfortable with silence and feel the need to always fill it. In my training as a counselor, we were taught to be comfortable with the silence. Giving people time to quietly think can create some really good insights.

I’m going to set a goal to spend at least five minutes in silent prayer every day. I know that it will be a challenge, but also a powerful and purposeful endeavor.

Love Does

I just finished reading the book, Love Does, by Bob Goff.  It is a Christian book and the basic premise is that love is an action.  We show love to God and others through our actions.

Each short chapter tells a story about Bob’s often crazy and adventurous life, which he then relates to a belief or message he wants to share.  

The book is really good and an easy read.  He shows through his stories how he has chosen to live a fully engaged life.  It was inspiring, but also kind of made me feel like I could never do some of the things he does.  I’m never going to be someone who just picks up and flies across the world on a whim. It does sound cool, though.  And I’ll just have to figure out what my fully engaged life looks like.

How can I be fully present in my life?  How can I be fully present in my relationships?  These seem like big challenges to me, because they require courage.  It takes courage to be fully engaged.

“I used to think you had to be special for God to use you, but now I know you simply need to say yes.” ~Bob Goff

To me, saying yes is often scary.  It involves risk. It involves faith.  I do not view myself as a courageous risk-taker.  It is something I will probably continue working on for the rest of my life.  Taking risks, however, seems to come easily to Bob. He does it all the time.

One word that Goff uses a lot throughout the book is whimsy.  He is always talking about living a life of whimsy. I do like the idea of leading a whimsical life.  He calls it a “renewable, infinite resource that multiplies.”

This book is not just Goff’s beliefs about how we should live our lives.  It is his beliefs about how Jesus wants us to live our lives. It is about putting faith into action on a daily basis.

“I think Jesus had in mind that we would not just be ‘believers’ but ‘participants’.” ~Bob Goff

He suggests our faith should be more than just ideas.  It should matter to us. It should engage us. It should move us to change the world.  It should be a paradigm shift that changes the way we look at every thing and every person and every situation around us.

I highly recommend this book.  It’s not a how-to manual. He doesn’t tell us how to fully engage with life, because it will be different for each person.  Now only does Bob go on crazy adventures, but he saves tons of kids in Uganda through his work.

But through his example, maybe, just maybe, you will be inspired to think about how to live your life fully engaged and full of whimsy and fun and things that matter.  I’m not sure I can put myself out there in the ways that Bob does. He even puts his phone number at the end of the book to say that he is willing to talk to you about anything in it.  But maybe, in my own little ways, I can try to evaluate what “love does” looks like for me.

Bible Journaling through Art

I have felt less than inspired by the most recent Bible study book that I had been working through. So a few weeks ago, I decided to just go straight to the source and spend more time directly in the Bible, rather than in other’s interpretations of it.

Awhile back, I had done a study of Proverbs and used this coloring book as I worked my way through it. It has both journaling space, the entire text, and pages and designs to color inspired by verses. There is also a Psalms version available.

I thought about buying a journal Bible that was intended to color, but thought it might be a bit much. Too busy and too thin of pages.

If you read my gratitude post a couple of months ago, you may remember that I was trying my hand at art journaling in place of a regular gratitude journal. I decided to do the same for my study of the Bible.

I already had this cute journal with lined pages that I bought a long time ago and never used. I am going to read my way through the Bible and write down the verses that speak to me in that moment in this book.

I have read the Bible cover to cover before, but decided to read a book at a time in a somewhat random order this time. I’m letting the Holy Spirit guide me to which book to read next.

Each day, I read a few chapters from the book that I am currently working on. I pause to copy down any verses that stick out to me in that day’s prayer. Once I have read a few chapters, I switch to the art journal.

The art journal is just a regular sketchbook. It is actually the same one that I was using as my gratitude journal.

I choose one verse or idea from that day’s reading and spend a few minutes drawing a picture to further reflect on it. This is not serious art by any means. It is just a humble little sketch that lets me spend a few more moments focusing on the message.

Here are a few of my entries so far (not all of them). I started with the Gospel of John.

Next, I read the Book of Ruth.

I followed that with the letter to the Romans.

I’m currently making my way through Isaiah.

Sometimes, my drawing is not related to a particular verse, but rather just a message that I am concentrating on after my reading.

You obviously do not need to be an artist to engage in this form of prayer. If you are looking for a new way to connect with the word of God, maybe give art journaling a try!

The right song at the right time

I have always been a believer that sometimes the universe (or God) sends you messages when you most need to hear them. I’ve had those moments throughout my life. Sometimes it might come in the form of a quote, something you read, a sermon at church, but often it comes in the form of song lyrics.

This evening, I was feeling pretty down on myself. I was driving in my car and thinking about how I’m not great at my job and not great as a mother. I was reflecting on all the ways that I am deficient. Just as I pulled into my destination, “Live Like You’re Loved” by Hawk Nelson came on the radio. I was telling myself that I’m not good at anything, and then ….

That’s the great thing about music. It reminds us that so many of the things we feel are part of the human condition and not unique to us. A few more lines and then I heard exactly what I needed to hear in that moment ….

In the midst of my depressing thoughts, God reached out to me through the power of a song. It helps that I was listening to KLove, but I promise that this used to happen to me all the time long before I started listening to Christian music. The messages are there if you keep your ears open for them.