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Here are this week’s must-reads:

+ Something that can change your entire perspective with Scripture is the tone with which you read it. Are you reading it from the perspective of a voice that condemns you and offers you no redemption or are you reading it from the perspective of a voice that loves you dearly — that would go to the ends of the world to find you, and that is continuously inviting you back into His arms?

I know there are a lot of factors that can impact how you read Scripture — wounded relationships — absent or harmful fathers, trauma or abuse, suffering and unrelief. That makes sense — that those pieces of your past and heart may make it difficult to hear the Father’s loving tone. Let me affirm that for you, if that’s something you experience.

I want to share something that you may find helpful in changing the tone in which you hear Scripture: read it aloud. Even if it’s to yourself. Hear yourself saying the words. And then think of someone you love dearly — someone you will always show up for, someone you would offer forgiveness to if they asked it with sincerity and contrition, someone you would sacrifice for. And then read it again, like you’re reading it to them. I think you’ll notice a different — maybe just a small one, but it’s this change of warmth, of invitation.

When I read the verse before today’s Gospel reading, I hear it in that tone: loving, gentle, inviting. “Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart; for I am gracious and merciful” (Joel 2:12-13). I think of one of my youngest nieces, whom I adore, and how I would want to encourage her that the Lord loves her — even now, even if ______ , He loves her. And I want you to hear that same message — that same tone. (read here)

+ St. Joseph: Protector and Father

+ The St. Joseph Novena begins today! And it’s the Year of St. Joseph!!

+ “Jesus doesn’t come and suffer so that we don’t have to. Jesus comes and suffers and carries his cross so that we are able to. He empowers us, he doesn’t just, and it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card to follow Jesus. It’s not a “Follow me and everything’ll be awesome.” It’s, – Follow me and I will give you the ability to do what seems impossible. And actually have joy so that you can face trials and face down the cross and know that the cross cannot defeat the son of the living God, the cross cannot defeat the one who came into the world because the cross is not the end.

Good Friday leads to Easter Sunday and without Good Friday, we can’t make it to Easter Sunday. And without Jesus, and the grace given to us in our baptism, we can’t make it, either. So this is actually really, good news. And when Jesus reminds his apostles that, “Yeah, you’re going to have these things, they’re coming, it just won’t look like what you thought it was going to look like.” He also gives them the power to do it. He gives them that grace. And so as we trudge through this Lent, as we accompany Jesus, let’s pray that we can see the grace that He gives us to do the impossible-seeming things in our lives, too.” — Scott Powell

+ “Your vocation is not easy to live, especially today, but the vocation to love is a wonderful thing, it is the only force that can truly transform […] the world.”-Pope Benedict XVI

+ “Whether you’re looking at messy kids around the table, strangers beside you on the train, or the same people day in and day out at work, Christ is in them all. On days people are annoying or frustrating, when they vote or dress differently, or if their personalities drive us up the wall, let’s remember Christ is living, dying, rejoicing, and sorrowing in each and every one of us.” — Ashley Stevens, Mountains Unmoved

+ + “Make sure you LIVE while you wait.”

+ Have you ever noticed how — let’s say you’re having a bad day, you’re moody, grumpy, tired, and then someone calls — a friend or family member, and you pick up the phone and you intentionally try to be in a better mood to talk, and you have a different tone in your voice? You sort of pep up for that person — you become more lively, you try to have a little more energy. I notice that we do that a lot for other people in our lives — sometimes more than we do it for the ones we love most in our own home. And you know, there could be a lot of reasons for that — the people in our homes, like our husbands, are people we *can* be most vulnerable and most honest with — we *can* let them see the mess and pain we might be having on any given day. That’s a really special and beautiful part (and gift) about the intimacy in marriage & family life. ❤️ But, once in a while, I think it’s valuable to try to use that same mindset of pepping ourselves up to chat with our husbands at the end of a long day. Of course we don’t have to do this for every conversation or every day, but… I think it makes a difference. To try to use that same liveliness & cheerful filter that we would use with someone on the phone with the ones we love most in our homes. Just once in a while. I’ve been doing it a little bit here and there — intentionally noticing and changing my tone when I’m about to talk to my husband, so as not to unload all the things on him, all the time. And it’s actually been making me feel better too, after the conversation. It’s sort of a softening effect — first towards him, and then towards myself. ❤️ (read here)

+ One Wednesday morning, while sitting at my computer for uiur @reform_wellness live class with maybe 10 or more other women on the call, @jackie_mulligan mentioned that there are two ways to perceive what happens in our lives: 1) as though everything happens *to* us, or 2) as though everything happens *for* us. It was initially a little painful to hear — how can you imagine that the suffering you’ve endured happened *for* you when you’re still processing the pain and how it’s changed you, and your life?

That’s where community really comes in and helps you to see, perhaps, something you’ve been missing — how something beautiful has arisen from your ashes — how your survival and endurance has been worth it. ✨There have been so many seasons I couldn’t see these things for myself — only after the fact, or only with the help of the ones I love. But with their help, and with time & gentle, intentional curiosity, I can see it myself now too: how the many things that I wish didn’t happen to me… have helped me to become more of the woman I am today, someone who can love better because of those very things. I still wish they didn’t happen — those things, but I can now appreciate the softness they’ve created within me that allows me to hold others’ pain, to nurture their wounds, and to love them well. 💜 p.s. 10/10 recommend checking out the reform online live program! Such a good experience — and I loved seeing the other women on zoom who were similarly walking down that healing path alongside me. — read here

+ “The theology of my postpartum body”

+ Lastly, here’s what’s featured in this week’s Catholic Wife, Catholic Life NewsletterI share these every Monday and they always include: two gluten-free recipes, a reflection & prayer based on Sunday’s Mass readings (this week, it’s about overcoming shame), and links to budget-friendly fashion & home decor.

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