How Jesus Loves You, Why You Should Pray, and How To Be a Better Spouse (and more!)

We’re just a few weeks into Lent and I’ve got a round-up for you of some of the best reads this week. Enjoy!

“Jesus Loves You With an Intense Thirst” 

“I Thirst,” a meditation attributed to St. Teresa of Calcutta in which Jesus speaks to the human heart, includes these powerful words:

‘I thirst for You. Yes, that is the only way to begin to describe my love for you… I thirst to love you and to be loved by you — that is how precious you are to Me. I thirst for you. Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation, and give you peace, even in all your trials I thirst for you. You must never doubt my mercy, my acceptance of you, my desire to forgive, my longing to bless you and live my life in you… If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all. For Me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you.” Read the rest here. 

My take: The title of that post (“Jesus Loves You With an Intense Thirst”) was enough to get me to click through to read it. As we’re working our way through Lent, meditating on Jesus — His life, His love for us, His death — I feel especially unworthy and unlovable, which is ironic since the story of His life and death are proof of the fact that He does love us, and with such intensity. St. Teresa’s meditation reminded me of His longing, and thirst, for me.

Seven Reasons to Pray

“Prayer teaches us to love freely. When we experience prayer as giving God our time without expecting anything from Him, we begin to develop an attitude of loving freely, which then helps us to love others. Fr. Philippe says that prayer trains us to love because it gets us in the habit of being with God “in a state of loving attention,” which is more important than doing things for the other person. He writes, “People with a long-established prayer life possess a noticeable quality of attention, presence, listening, and availability, which people whose whole lives are given over to activity are often incapable of.” When we have acquired the habit of attentiveness in our daily prayer time, we have a rare gift to give to the people we meet in this life.” Read the rest here.

My take: In our world where being busy is sometimes seen as an accomplishment or as a sign of status somehow, I’ve definitely noticed how this has been detrimental to relationships. When we’re busy — even or especially with things that are not worth our time, then we become more sedentary in our relationships. We don’t actively listen. We don’t intentionally listen. We multi-task. We put other things above the importance of the other person sitting or standing right in front of us. But, oh, how it is so necessary to re-wire this bad habit! And to be more attentive, more receiving, more giving, etc. Fr. Philippe suggests we need to do this with our Lord and that this will allow us to put this into practice with the people we love in front of us as well.

How to Be A Better Spouse: Being kind, paying attention, and praising a partner’s strengths all pay off in a long-term relationship

Just notice them. “People are always making attempts to get their partners’ attention and interest,” Gottman says. In his research, he has found that couples who stay happy (at least during the first seven years) pick up on these cues for attention and give it 86 percent of the time. Pairs who ended up divorced did so 33 percent of the time. “It’s the moment we choose to listen to our partner vent about a bad day instead of returning to our television show,” explains Dana R. Baerger, assistant professor of clinical psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “In any interaction, we have the opportunity to connect with our partner or to turn away. If we consistently turn away, then over time the foundation of the marriage can slowly erode, even in the absence of overt conflict.” Read the rest here.

My take: This seems to pair really well with the “Seven Reasons to Pray” article I just mentioned. Coincidence? Don’t think so 😉 This list of four things we can do to be a better spouse can be helpful for marriages but also for our relationship with the Lord, and with our other family & friends. Because we all kind of want to be seen & noticed — and loved, right?

Weekly Wish List

Since my husband & I will be moving in the next few months, and since it’s now Spring (!!!!), I’ve been trying to organize our home so that we have the best/easiest move ever (wishful thinking, right?), and in hopes that we can live a more clutter-free & organized life in our new home. So I’ve been looking around at stores nearby for cheap organizing boxes and found these cute fabric drawers on Amazon for less than $6 each. They are 12″ X 12″ so I think it’s a really good universal size that fits a lot of shelves/cubicles, etc. I bought three of ’em and I’m planning to store extra bedding in them.

Have you been bitten by the organizer bug?? Tell me all your secrets!


What I’m Letting Go of this Lent (“Deliver me, O God”)

When it comes to relationships, I really desire to be understood. To be seen, known, and loved. (Who doesn’t?)

But that doesn’t always happen. Not easily or naturally.

Sometimes it takes a lot of work. Like years of work.

And sometimes it does happen easily, and often. And those relationships are healing, life-giving and life-sustaining — whether that’s with your husband in your marriage or with a best friend. (I hope both)

In a perfect world, every relationship would be like that, I imagine.

But there’s no perfection this side of death, and to be entirely honest, I have grappled with that truth for years.

So something I’ve been thinking of letting go of this Lent is just that: the need to be understood.

The need to be understood

Sound familiar, Audrey Assad fans? 😉

Her song, “I shall not want,” is like a prayer of deliverance — deliverance of: “the love of my own comfort, from the fear of having nothing, from a life of worldly passions,” and further on, “From the need to be understood, from the need to be accepted, from the fear of being lonely… ”

“Deliver me, O God.”

It’s the perfect song for Lent, really.

I had never thought much about that need — my need to be understood — before I heard this song a few years ago.

But that line has really struck a chord so to speak.

I wonder: How often do I look to someone else to understand me? How often do I do the work for them to “get me?” How often do I lay it all out there in the hopes that they will? 

Too often.

And not everyone can or will understand me. This is just the reality of the world we live in, and a reality of the sorts of relationships that exist in our lives. Not every relationship will be one that’s like the one we have with our husbands or very best friends or closest family.

Not to say that that work is wasted — the work of opening up so someone can understand you. It’s a beautiful goal to have relationships like this. But I personally struggle with frustration and irritation when I’m misunderstood by someone, or by a group of people. I get hurt by it. And so I think I look for too much perfection where perfection cannot exist.

And then I’m too hard on people who don’t “get me,” thinking… how do they not understand?!

That’s one reason I’m hoping to let go of this need this Lent.

And the ironic thing is that we want to work on perfection in some ways during Lent, right? We want to become more perfected so that we can be more in union with God. I just think that our perfection in that sense can only happen when we rely on God — and His perfection — instead of seeking it out from those around us, who can’t provide it.

It’s not a giving up on people this Lent. It’s more like giving over more to God — what truly belongs to Him.

Because that need of mine, to be understood? I think it can only be fulfilled by Him, my creator, my Lord.

I also think it will give me the chance to love better the people I already love — and to receive their love better too, because I won’t be expecting something from them that they can’t entirely give me. By giving them this grace — this understanding of sorts, I think I’ll receive more of both in return as well.

I also think — and hope — that by focusing less on my need to be understood that I can focus more on that need in others. And by being more present, by listening more, I hope to create more authentic connections in my relationships.

Lent, Marriage, and Meatless Recipes

That about sums up what I’ve been thinking about this week! 😉

It’s the very beginning of Lent and this season been on my mind for months. That’s mostly because I’ve been working on the online Pray More Lenten Retreat for a while, but it’s also because it’s one of my favorite (yep, you heard that right!) liturgical seasons.

This season reminds us that we’re sinners, but it also reminds us that we have a Savior — and that it is worthwhile to do what we can to be united more closely to Him.

It’s worthwhile because this relationship with God is eternal, unlike the other things in our lives that fill our hearts and minds improperly…

It’s worthwhile because a life well-lived is one that’s lived for Him.

And we can’t live for Him if we don’t know who He is.

You probably see where I’m going with this, right? To know who He is, we have to spend more time with Him.

Yep, I’m talking about praying more.

I’m also talking about removing the obstacles that keep us from doing just that.

I have plenty of those… can you name a few? I’m thinking of all the wasted time that I spend in any given week. Time not given to Him. I’m thinking of time that I watch tv shows or read books or magazines that don’t point me to His goodness. I’m thinking of things that I’ve become too attached to — things that I value sometimes more than my relationship with God.

Without Lent, I might not think much of any of those things.

So I am grateful the Church gives us this season to correct ourselves, to try again, to transform our hearts and renew our commitment to Him.

So here are a few suggestions I have for ya this Lenten Season…

The (online) Pray More Lenten Retreat

I couldn’t write this blog post without mentioning this. 😉 This is a retreat we created for the members of our prayer ministry (but it’s available to anyone who wants to join!), and we tried to make it very similar to what you would get if you were able to go to an in-person retreat: we have four speakers, about 18 talks altogether from them, and study guides to go alongside them.

You can do this retreat on your own, with your husband, with your girlfriends, in a group setting, etc. These talks are seriously inspiring. As I watched them, I walked away feeling like… I was forgiven, like I have another chance — another go — at my relationship with God…. I was reminded that He doesn’t want me to feel shameful — He just wants me to return. That’s what this Lent is about. I also learned a lot about the spiritual life — the three stages of it, and how to progress from one to the next. I learned some pretty awesome advice on prayer from some very impressive saints (which saints aren’t impressive, though??). And it has truly given me a lot to work on in the next 40 days… consider joining me! You won’t regret it. The talks by Mary Lenaburg alone are reason to sign up!

Lent & Marriage

During Lent, we’re meant to unite ourselves even closer to God. Lent is about growing closer to Christ, and sharing in His redemptive suffering.

It’s a penitential season, and it’s a time when we can help bear one another’s crosses as we wait for the Risen Christ. And we can do all of these things in our marriages — we can grow closer to the Lord by improving our marriages.

We’re called to help our spouse grow closer to Christ, and they’re called to do the same for us.

So while we wait for Jesus’ Resurrection, while we wait during Lent, let’s use that time to commit ourselves even more to our vocations, to God and to our spouses. Maybe instead of focusing purely on self-improvement during this time, let’s focus on self-surrendering in both of these relationships. That means dying to ourselves, emptying of ourselves, so that God may live even more within our hearts and our marriages.

These resources might help:

“The Man Who Sleeps Beside Me”
by Rebekah Fox, over at For Every Mom

She writes:

The man who sleeps beside me is still the same man I fell in love with…and I need to take the time to remember… How did I get like…this? Love-less. And demanding. And more interested in making dinner than making… Love? Could I be still enough, to take him in? To drink deep and long of love again? Too many words are spoken, broken, spilled. There are expectations and disappointments, and flaws and failures, and real sin, and real pain, and real Grace. That word, that thing that Jesus came to show us. And poured out His blood for. So we would know what real love looks like. That it sweats, and cries, and bleeds. That it gives up self. And makes itself low. And is gentle. And is kind. And is not rude. Do I see him the way God sees him? Because: God sees him as precious. Precious. Fearfully and wonderfully made…by God Himself. I have him for only such a short time. I do not even know how short. And I wasn’t chosen just to be his housemaid, or his business partner…but his wife. His bride. His friend. To have and to… hold.” (Read the rest here)

My take: I’ve only (only!) been married for 4.5 years right now but this still resonated with me. How often do we take our husbands for granted, and forget to look at him through the eyes of our Lord? How often do we forget that our husbands were created with such love by God — and that we should be caring for them as such? After I read this a few days ago, you’d better believe I gave my hubby a great big hug when he got home from work later that night. I think Rebekah’s message is a reminder we could all use from time to time.

“25 Lenten Resolutions for the Mother and Wife”
by Nancy, over at Do Small Things with Great Love

She writes:

“I’m a good wife, a faithful wife…I do need to work on being more charitable though.  I love my husband so much, but I can get bitter and jealous.  I’m not sure how to totally correct this part of my personality, but I know when I focus more on his needs than on my own, he in turn focuses more on me…and our love blooms.  So, here are a few ways I can do that in a small way each day this Lent.

  1. Try one new recipe a week
  2. Increase frequency of Marital Intimacy
  3. Refrain from mentally trashing husband–completely
  4. Ask my husband how his day was before launching into complaining about mine.
  5. Do something sweet and small for my husband each day.” (Read the rest here)

My take: I love Nancy’s ideas! She breaks down five categories she plans to work on this Lent and two of them stuck out to me: striving to be a charitable wife and growing as a woman of faith. I’m pretty sure each one affects the other, and that both can strongly transform a marriage — and a Lent.

“Love Tested, a Lenten Challenge”
by Shannon, over at Amazing Nearness

She writes:

“This Lent I challenge you to make your marriage the focus of your conversion during this liturgical season. Through living faithfully and sacrificially the sacrament of marriage, we may have the perfect means through which to achieve holiness. Marriage has the potential to perfect us in love! Marriage when accepted with the truth of God’s plan can transform our weak hearts. So instead of giving up chocolate for Lent, I challenge you to take on one of the following marital behaviors to address. Read through the list with your spouse and chose one (or more) to focus on this Lent. Allow this list to help identify the areas of your marriage in most need of triage!…  St. Francis de Sales wrote, “The state of marriage is one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other; it is a perpetual exercise in mortification.” So there you have it, there can be no more perfect Lenten challenge! I’ll be praying for you and I hope you pray for me! I’m taking the challenge too!” (Read the rest here)

My take: I’m in. Shannon lists 10 questions that all ask how your marriage applies to a list of ten tests of love. The questions are like, “Do you pray together as a couple? Is your prayer a complaint about your spouse or a prayerful plea for grace and mercy to be showered upon your spouse in their need?” and, “Do you actively seek to praise your spouse everyday? Do you spend most of your time picking out every failure?” They’re basically gut-checks that give you a whole lot to chew on this Lent for how you can have a better marriage.

“Friendship and Marriage”
by Anni, over at A Beautiful Camouflaged Mess of a Life

She writes:

“I am convinced the Sacrament of Matrimony, a commitment between two humans and Our Divine Creator, must be built on the foundation of friendship! Moreover, just like other friendships, we must not shy away from nurturing and fostering that marital friendship at every opportunity. In the thick of things, it’s easy to overlook the foundation of our families – our marriages. But, we must not let the weariness of our days, the demands of our jobs and lives, and our precious children get in the way of our primary vocation – as husbands and wives.”

My take: My favorite part about what Anni wrote is that she created a Beatitudes for Married Couples at the very bottom of her post, and once again, it’s chock full of good reminders of how to love our husbands better. After a few years go by, it’s easier to start treating them less special-y, if that’s a word 😉 right?  Not cool, though! And I know it — I know you know it too. Anni lists a few gentle reminders for how to reverse those bad habits. Go check it out here.

And lastly…

Meatless Recipes

I so struggle with meatless recipes. That’s because we also eat a mostly gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free diet. When people talk a lot about what they’re going to be cooking on Fridays for Lent, I almost always see a ton of recipes with a lot of cheese, or meals that are high-carb & high-wheat. If I could eat those things, I would! 😉 But I can’t so it can be tough on us. Breakfast for dinner is sort of out with those restrictions…

But here are a few recipes I’ve heard good things about… If you have one that’s tasty, please share it with us all below! I also was crowd-sourcing for recipes on my Facebook page, so you can go there & read through what a lot of other ladies had to say they’re putting on their menus this Lent.

Tortellini Minestrone

Healing Turmeric Lentil & Farro Soup

Chunky Vegetable & Roasted Tomato Marinara Sauce with Zucchini Noodles (just like spaghetti!)

Here are four separate one-pan salmon dinners (easy clean-up!)

Spaghetti Squash Chow Mein

Quinoa Black Bean Roasted Bell Peppers

Gnocchi with Pomodoro Sauce

Oven-fried Salmon Cakes

Teriyaki Salmon

Soup for Lent

I talked to a lot of people about what they’re planning to cook the next 40 days and it seems like soup is a big hit during Lent.

We don’t have too many soup recipes ourselves but somebody recommended this book and I’m very seriously considering buying it:

Twelve Months of Monastery Soups

Listen to this: “Of soup and love, the first is best.” Brother Victor-Antoine makes a passionate  case for this Spanish proverb in Twelve Months of Monastery Soups, bringing easy, delicious, soul-satisfying soup recipes from the monastery to your kitchen. From simple, clear broths to thick, hearty soups, there’s a recipe to appeal to every taste. Arranged by month with an eye toward seasonal variety and at least one recipe for every vegetable native to North America, the 175 soups include classic favorites such as Cream of Corn and Tomato and more unique recipes such as Jerusalem Artichoke, and Danish Onion-Champagne…”

Even the Amazon reviews are amazing. I really like that they feature different vegetables each  month — what’s actually in season, because I think it could help us save money while making soup throughout the year. I also like that they have at least one recipe for every veggie native to North America because 1) we garden and 2) we need more variety in our diet! 

Do you have any cookbook recommendations for Lent — or anytime throughout the year? Share those, and your favorite meatless recipes, with us all below please! 🙂

p.s. Are you on Pinterest? Follow me and pin away!


How to grow in Beauty, How we are ALL Mothers – in Some Way, and How our Hearts Need to Know Our Maker {and way more!}

Here are my favorite reads of the week, my take on ’em, and a few other finds that I thought you would like! AND, a few photos from our recent trip to EWTN’s studios to sit down with Johnette Benkovic of “Women of Grace” — and a little bit about her latest book. So grab a cup of coffee — or tea, & enjoy!

“We Are All Mothers in Some Way”

by Bobbi Roi, written over at Blessed is She

“God needs motherly hearts to embrace His children that need it most. It does not matter if those hearts belong to teenagers, single women, wives without kids, moms with many kids, grandmas, religious, or whatever the case may be. What matters is that a spiritual mother’s heart is ready to kneel and pray for the souls God brings to mind. She is ready to offer up the drudgery of her school studies or the difficult tasks at her work place or the exhausting chores of her busy household. She is open to the Holy Spirit to say the right words or just give a comforting hug to someone that needs it. These are the ways you, as a woman of God, can be fruitful and multiply. We are on a mission to help God’s children come back to His Kingdom and nurture them along the journey.”

My take: One of my best friends e-mailed this to me and said, “This made me think of you,” to which I cried happy tears because it was so thoughtful of her and because it suggested — and as is true — that even without having children, that I can be fruitful & multiply. 🙂 Can you think of a woman in your life who might like to hear this message too? Go ahead & share it with her!

“Six Speedbumps that Can Wreck a Marriage”
by Dave Willis, written over at Patheos

Stop making your spouse wonder how much they mean to you. Tell your spouse how crazy you are about them. Tell them often. Tell them more than anyone else ever would. Be your spouse’s biggest admirer. And don’t just say it, but also back it up with the way you treat them courteously and respectfully. Pursue your spouse emotionally and romantically, in ways they will respond to. Stop waiting for your spouse to beg you to help around the house or with the kids. Be mindful and intentional to look for ways to help around the house or with the kids. Don’t wait for your spouse to beg you to help more. If they do express frustration in this area, ask what items you can take off their to do list, and how you can do more so they can take a needed break. You might be surprised at how much a little more effort means to them. Think about it: if you could make them happier by helping out more, wouldn’t you want to try?”

My take: Here’s some seriously good marriage advice. It sort of goes along with the idea of anticipating what your spouse needs before they really need it. We have to tend to our marriages for them to grow; intentionally, sincerely, and effortfully. It takes work, yes, but it’s the best work of our lives aside from doing the very same for our relationship with the Lord.

Growing in Beauty – A Calling to All Mothers
by Kirby Hoberg, written over at The Zelie Group

“Too often I hear moms talk about living life in survival mode.  They talk about how long it’s been since they showered like it’s an Olympic event. They confess that they have not had a proper meal in weeks, or that they have had sleeping hours in the single digits over the course of four days. Then they tell me how long it has been like this and I want to cry with them.

“In survival mode, you are not valuing yourself as the beautiful, unique soul that you are, but as a utility that is running on backup generators. In survival mode, you are so focused on just getting through the day that you start to run out of self to give. This extreme neglect of self is not just terrible for your own mental and physical health, it is an insult to God.

“Momma, you were created a never-before-seen human being full of beauty and talents, and you give an irreplaceable contribution to the world. That means we all have an obligation to honor and care for our bodies and minds as the precious gifts they are. To do less is an insult to the God who gave us these precious gifts.”

My take: I absolutely loved this piece by Kirby and it’s really written for every woman, not just mamas. We all need Beauty in our lives, and we have to recognize that God also created Beauty within us. We have to take care of ourselves. It’s not just for us; but for everyone else in our lives as well, because when we’re doing that we are better able to let God shine through us. And that’s the sort of Beauty that our friends & family need to see.

“Every Christian Needs To See What Kevin Did on “This is Us”
by Becky Thompson, over at her site, Becky Thompson

“We are all on some sort of journey to figure out who we really are, what we really want, what we want to be known for… And so much of it is a chasing after the wind. But, you guys, our greatest and purest identity will always be found in who our Father is… as sons… as daughters… as children of God. Because when we remember what we saw our Father do, we can understand how to live it out as well.”

My take: I’ve really been enjoying the show, “This is Us.” Have you seen it yet? It sort of hits the same strings as “Parenthood” did… but they’re still pretty different. In the latest episode of “This is Us,” Kevin’s understanding of who he was, as the son of his father, was a pivotal moment of change for him: of growth, of action, of compassion. It was just so beautiful. And the same is true for us like Becky wrote; when we understand where our identity truly comes from, we can know better how to live our lives. Our identity is not simply in what we do on a daily basis, but who we are: daughters of the King.

Our Trip to EWTN!

On another note, my husband & I were so honored to meet Johnette Benkovic earlier this week and to sit down with her to film five episodes of her show, “Women of Grace” that airs on EWTN. We loved meeting her and speaking with her about our prayer ministry, Pray More Novenas. We don’t know when the shows will air but we will keep you updated! 🙂

Weekly Wish List:

This week, Johnette Benkovic’s most recent book, “Graceful Living: Meditations to Help You Grow Closer to God Day by Day” is on my weekly wish list. 

Here’s a brief description of the book: “Each day brings you a delicate sample of the truth of the Catholic faith, as well as practical and incisive questions to stimulate prayer and reflection that have been written by Johnnette Benkovic, host of EWTN’s Women of Grace. Johnnette has collected these spiritual gems over the course of many years and has brought them together for the first time in this book for daily meditation. These reflections will challenge you to go deeper in your prayer and self-examination, bringing to light aspects of each quotation that might be missed at first glance. Moreover, they will help you start your day by lifting your heart, soul, and mind to God.”

My take: I don’t think I could sing higher praises for Johnette. She was kind, insightful, and so wise. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of her book because I know I can learn A LOT from her.

Another thing that would be on my wishlist if I didn’t actually buy it is this beauty 😉

I picked it up at the EWTN gift shop but you can also buy it here. I was drawn to it the second I saw it — I thought it was just beautiful. And get this: the image is called the Virgin of Hope. <3

Lastly, if you need a good laugh 😉

The Choice We Have: Choosing God’s Love Today

When I was at a women’s retreat over the weekend, one of the speakers asked us to reflect on a few questions and two of them were:

“Do I truly believe that God loves me?”

“Do I truly believe that God thinks I’m beautiful?”

The answer for me was: some days, yes, other days, no.

I know (I know) that we’re made in the image & likeness of God — fearfully and wonderfully made.

But I don’t always believe this truth the way I wish I did…

The woman speaking went on to explain how we could answer those questions with better certainty, and she said it started with getting to know God better.

Once we came to know who He is, she said, we would be able to know ourselves better… and then we would also know our worth, our value — essentially, how He see us.

And then — then — we would be able to answers those questions with a resounding, “yes.”

“Yes, I truly believe God loves me. Yes, I truly believe He thinks I’m beautiful.”

I looked around the room and I could tell I wasn’t the only one hearing these questions and feeling doubtful.

It seemed like most of these women could use the reminder that they’re known by our creator — that they are seen by Him, and most especially, that they are Loved by Him.

Maybe all the times that we’re not seen by those around us — not seen for the work we’re doing, for the thought we put into everything we do, and for the effort and sheer love we pour out into our daily to-do list… maybe all of those times that we’re not seen — by our family, those closest to us — chips away at our understanding of how God sees us.

It’s easy to fall into a trap of thinking we understand who God is because we understand how those around us love us…

But the people in our lives love us so imperfectly sometimes.

Yes, even our husbands, our children, our parents, even — their love is imperfect. And although it can and does often point us to our Father’s love and identity (as it should — it’s a part of Him), we have to remember it is just the tip of the iceberg. It’s something that is multiplied beyond our understanding.

And God sees everything.

He sees the effort we put into our daily tasks, and the thought behind our actions, and the love behind our sacrifices.
He sees the small things like our doing the dishes, and creating a grocery list while planning our meals for the week.
He sees how we put ourselves into these tasks for our families.
He sees how we do something for our husbands before we might do something for ourselves… even when our husbands don’t see that.

He sees the quiet dying to ourselves as we rise each morning to start over again with whatever is in front of us each day.

And He hears our prayers — those words we mumble as we get out of bed, and the words we lift up when we’re running errands and having a bad day, and the words we don’t even have — He even hears those…

God sees us and hears us. He knows us. And He loves us.

He IS love.

But if we’re really to believe that, we have to spend a little more time with Him. It’s another sacrifice to make just like the other ones I mentioned above, but it’s a small one with a big impact.

It’s something that can help us to see God, to hear Him, and to know and love Him the way that He does for us…

It’s something that we can do to better answer those questions: “Do I truly believe that God loves me?” and “Do I truly believe that God thinks I’m beautiful?”

So I’ve been trying to get to know God a little better, and I loved this description of Him from Saint John of Kronstadt. He said, “What is the name of our God? Love, Mercy, Compassion, Bountifulness. When you pray, contemplate with the eyes of your heart Love and Mercy standing before you — the Lover of men listening to you.”

Wow. That really helps me to have a better image of who our Lord is when I’m speaking to Him…It’s such a good reminder that I could use more often; to know and remember that He isn’t someone who looks upon me with harsh eyes or judgement or condemnation, but someone who looks at me with eyes of mercy, compassion and love.

And boy do I need that…

I also need to be better at believing this, at choosing to believe it.

I’ll finish with this: A piece of marriage advice I’ve heard time and time again is that love is a choice — that we have to choose to love everyday in our marriages.
It’s the same way with our trust and our love for God. We have to choose it everyday. We have to choose to believe it, to live it, and to remember it — even when we’re not feeling it.

“You have to trust the place that is solid, the place where you can say yes to God’s love even when you do not feel it. Right now you feel nothing except emptiness and the lack of strength to choose. But keep saying, “God loves me, and God’s love is enough.” You have to choose the solid place over and over again and return to it after every failure.” (Henri Nouwen, “The Inner Voice of Love”)

I hope you choose God’s love for you today — choose to believe it, trust it, and allow it to wash over you today when you need it most.