On Barb’s Bookshelf: True Radiance

Barb's Book shelf blog title

Lisa Mladinich’s book True Radiance is subtitled “Finding Grace in the Second Half of Life.”

That subtitle! Since I read this book, I guess I’m admitting that I am squarely in the second half of life. Now, I don’t mind the gray hairs that are appearing with increased frequency, but yikes! The second half of life!

It’s time to make sure that this half of my life is not time wasted.

true radianceCovering such topics as beauty (interior and exterior), spiritual motherhood, friendship, self-care and interior peace, Lisa Mladinich takes aim in this book at the idea (which I’ve bought into more than I might care to admit) that women “of a certain age” have less to offer. In True Radiance, Lisa explains just how much more we have to give.

Chapter 9, “Don’t Tempt Me!” was one I particularly needed to read (and one I need to re-read) in my struggles with negative attitudes.

This book is a tribute to the power of the grace of God. Lisa Mladinich shares her own story of growth, conversion and transformation as she encourages the reader to rely on and cooperate with grace in the second half of life.

Even readers like me, who might not want to admit that the second half of life is where they are right now.

Your purchase of True Radiance through my affiliate link helps support Franciscanmom.com but costs you nothing extra.

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Stumbling Blocks on the Road to Sanctity

Via Seinfeld Daily on Tumblr.
Via Seinfeld Daily on Tumblr.

Get into a car with me and you’ll meet a whole different Barb. While I’m not Road Rage Incorporated, in the sense that I don’t get aggressive and tailgate or illegally pass people, I do vocally (with windows safely rolled up, but within earshot of my children) express my frustration with people who drive 30 or even 45 when the speed limit is 50, who leave the turn signal on for miles or don’t use it at all, or commit the Cardinal Sin of Driving: neglecting the “Thank-you Wave.”

I mean, how hard is that?

And then I remember Luke 14: 13-14:

But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.

In other words, I can’t be a saint until I stop expecting a thank-you wave.

Why I Remain Catholic

I’m responding to a question posted by Elizabeth Scalia at Patheos: Why do you remain Catholic?

And all I can think of is: how can I not?

Alleluia

I feel like being a Catholic is in my DNA.

I’m not a convert, and I’ve heard people say that cradle Catholics (like me) never made that conscious choice that a convert might have made.

But I beg to differ.

I make that choice every single Sunday when I go to Mass.

I make that choice every single time I receive the Eucharist: the Body, Blood, soul and divinity of Jesus.

I make that choice when I pray the Liturgy of the Hours, when I attend gatherings of the Secular Franciscans, when I play music and sing at Mass, when I pray for someone in need.

Being a Catholic–and, even more than that, being a Catholic and a Franciscan–is the air I breathe. It’s a part of me that I cannot separate out.

I can’t point to some earth-shattering moment when I knew this was the right thing for me.

It just is.

I’ve visited other churches, for funerals or weddings–and something is missing. That something, the Real Presence, is what makes Catholicism stand apart.

I didn’t make one conscious choice–but there have been thousands of little choices, every week, every day, that keep me in my Church. And I am thankful for the grace that helps me to make those little choices.

Image by Barb Szyszkiewicz, OFS: Empty Tomb at St. Casimir Church, Riverside, NJ (Easter 2007). All rights reserved. 

Small Success: Just Add Grace

Small-Success-Thursday-400pxThursdays at CatholicMom.com begin with a look at the past week’s Small Successes!

I said YES to grace this week. I was thinking, Tuesday morning, that I really need to make a way to get to Adoration. We have Perpetual Adoration in our parish–and I’ve been ignoring the opportunity. On my way out of Mass Tuesday, the lady who organizes the schedule for Adoration approached me and asked if I could take over an hour for someone who is ailing and unable to attend anymore. I think it took a whole 2 hours, if that, from the time I originally had the thought of Adoration in my head to the time Pat spoke to me in the church foyer. I start today.

I learned a new song this week. Our folk group is preparing to teach Matt Maher’s “Your Grace is Enough” to the assembly at Mass before the end of Lent. It’s a perfect song to meditate on during Lent (or any time, really.) And I figured out how to download the MP3 to my phone so I can have it with me everywhere. Give it a listen:

And in more practical matters, I came in under budget this week at the supermarket. By shopping the sales and using coupons, I saved $105.44 on my order, paying only $116.78. AND because I bought some stuff in the Dollar Days sale, I walked out of there with $7 in coupons off my next shopping order AND a coupon for a free reusable shopping bag. (WIN!) I buy supermarket gift cards through Little Brother’s school (we get a tuition kickback for that) and it does help me to stay on budget. Since I buy the gift cards every 2 weeks, I’m under budget about $16 for the 2-week period. Just in time for Middle Sister to come home for Spring Break and stock up on laundry detergent, Gatorade, granola bars and other staples of dormitory life.

Share your Small Successes at CatholicMom.com by joining the linkup in the bottom of today’s post. No blog? List yours in the comments box!

© 2015 Barb Szyszkiewicz. All rights reserved.

Grace of YES Day

grace of yes day header
Good morning, class! Today is Tuesday, November 18, 2014.

It’s Grace of YES Day.

grace of yes day classroom photo

A few weeks ago, I said “YES” to a long-term substitute-teaching assignment. I’ll be there through Christmas. I’ve gone into more detail on the subject here, but a “YES” to any teaching job is a “YES” to a gratifying, frustrating, entertaining, saddening experience. It’s not just a job; it’s a ministry.

The students and I keep their Regular Teacher in our prayers each day. She is dearly missed and we all hope she will return to good health, and her classroom, as soon as she can.

I pray for my foster-second-graders as I

  • hand out birthday pencils
  • give spelling tests
  • grade spelling tests
  • read chapters from Ramona the Pest
  • encourage reverence during Grace Before Snack
  • redirect children who use the wrong hand to salute the flag
  • line up the class for the bathroom. Again.
  • conduct science experiments involving rocks, water and flimsy plastic containers
  • enforce the “no sharing snacks” rule (we have allergies)
  • invent the “no shaking down other kids for snacks” rule
  • make sure the two Imaginary Students are not disrupting the class

This job saps my energy, creativity, and voice like no other.

And I love it. Even when I have outside lunch duty on 35-degree days and my hair is up because there’s a Head Lice Epidemic on the first floor and, well, I’m not willing to make that sacrifice for the kids…

Little Brother leaves notes on the board for my class before they arrive in the morning and visits us on his way to the nurse for his pre-snack insulin at midmorning. This “YES” has been good for him. I think he likes having me around his school. (He even hugs me in front of my class. Don’t tell him I told you this.)

It’s grace, pure and simple, that is getting me through these challenging days and weeks.

What’s your “YES” and how is grace making it possible? Share on Facebook or Twitter with the hashtag #graceofyesday

Want to learn more about the Grace of Yes? Read my review of the book here and join the discussion at CatholicMom.com!