How to Become a More Grateful Person

There is a running joke in my family about asking God for help in parking the car. My nana initiated the practice of imploring God when encountering difficulty in finding an open parking space: “Jesus, please help me find a parking spot.” Well, my dad repeats this tcht_series_medprayer, adding his own twist at the end. As he drives around a busy lot looking for a space, he, following the wit and wisdom of his mother, prays, “Dear Jesus, please help me find a parking spot.” When a space almost miraculously appears in the near vicinity, he looks up, signaling his conversation with God, and jokes, “Never mind, Jesus. I found one.”

We do a lot of praying and asking God for help, but we often forget to thank him for our answered prayers. Maybe you can think of times in your family life when you asked God to heal your little one of an illness or to make it clear to you whether or not your family should relocate to begin a new career. Yet when the illness was gone (or acceptance granted in its place) or the decision to move made, somehow God evaporates from the process, and you move forward without acknowledging God’s guiding hand in the situation. There is a better way: intentional gratitude.

So how do we grow in gratitude? Here’s a quick list of gratitude hacks:

  1. Count your blessings daily. Do this in some tangible way – by writing in a gratitude journal, by setting aside time in prayer to list the things you are grateful to God for that day, or by sharing them with the family at the dinner table each evening. If you only decide to count your blessings in theory but don’t come up with a tangible way to do this in practice, then you’re not very likely to become a more grateful person anytime soon. Gratitude takes conscious practice.
  1. Shift from negative to positive thinking in the moment. When a frustrating situation arises or a negative thought comes your way, instead of dwelling on it or letting it fester to the point of altering your mood, make a deliberate shift to think positively. One evening, when exhaustion had already totally overcome me, I was attempting to put my sleep-protesting toddler to bed and became instantly overwhelmed with frustration with the situation. The litany of thoughts like, “Why can’t you make this easier on me, little man?” and “Gosh, if I weren’t so tired from doing so many chores today I wouldn’t feel so miserable right now” began running through my mind. In that moment I had a choice to continue to let the scroll of negative thinking and emotions continue or to opt for positivity – and gratitude. Taking a turn for the better, I could have adjusted my thinking to: “I’m so thankful I have a toddler to put to sleep right now, even if he is a bit spirited or challenging at bed time” or “I sure am tired, but I’m pretty glad I got so much accomplished today around the house.”
  1. Balance petitions with thanksgiving in prayer. Often times, our prayer time canprayer become a litany of requests. Petitions take the driver seat, and offering gratitude to God takes a relatively minor role—if we even bring our words of gratitude to our personal prayer time at all. If we only knew how valuable our spiritual lives could become if we stopped praying backward, if we modeled our personal prayer according to the prayer of the Church. This means spending the majority of our time listening to God speak to us in His Word, like in the Liturgy of the Word, and giving Him thanks, as we do in the Liturgy of the Eucharist. When we look at the prayer of the Church, we see that the Prayers of the Faithful—the petitions—make up a noticeably smaller fraction of the liturgy than petitions usually do in our personal prayer. Of course it is not a bad thing to petition God. Petitions are indeed very good (after all, St. Teresa of Avila said that we pay God a compliment by asking great things of Him), but they are never meant to dominate our prayer. If we are talking the whole time we are praying, how can God get a word in edgewise? And if we aren’t in the practice of thanking Him, how can we ever stop to notice how He always answers our prayers? Become a true disciple of the Eucharist (a term meaning “thanksgiving”). Give thanks.
  1. Don’t forget to thank God for suffering. It’s often through suffering that we are sanctified – made holy – and draw closer to Christ. Yet it is so easy to forget to offer gratitude for times of suffering that we would much rather forget or, instead, complain about. When a friend of mine was battling cancer, she told me “I don’t want to let one day go by that we don’t stop and genuinely enjoy it. In some way, it is a blessing to have cancer, because it has helped me to slow down and cherish each day.” I hope I can cultivate gratitude to the point of having that kind of thankful attitude even in the midst of intense suffering.
  1. Express gratitude to/for others. The previous gratitude “hacks” were focused a bit more on cultivating personal, inward gratitude, but to become a more grateful thank you noteperson, it’s essential to outwardly express gratitude to and for others. Every day, make a deliberate effort to thank someone for who he or she is in your life, something kind that person has done for you…anything about that person which makes you grateful. Express appreciation for a family member, coworker, friend, priest, service man or woman, a great waiter or waitress, a teacher. You’ll be practicing gratitude by verbalizing (or writing) your thankfulness for someone, and perhaps even inspire them to become a more grateful person, too.

When we practice gratitude, grace will flood into our everyday lives. (It’s no coincidence that the words gratitude and grace come from the same root, gratus) Cicero taught, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” Imagine the grace that God can bestow on your ability to spiritually lead your family if you begin excelling in the “parent” of so many other virtues that will bless your marriage and family.

Know that the Lord is good! It is he that made us, and we are his; we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving, and his courts with praise! Give thanks to him, bless his name! –Psalm 100:2-3

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Scripture Memorization Cards – Printable

bible-1149924_960_720Psalm 119:105 says, “Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

God’s Word is meant to guide us, to encourage us, to transform us. Unfortunately, many of us do not spend near as much time in the Word of God as we should, let alone memorize Scripture passages that can provide us much-needed strength and truth in times of need or – well – all the time.

So here is a simple resource for you to help with that. Feel free to use these printable Scripture cards (this version has all New Testament passages), cutting them out into individual cards and placing them one on your mirror, in your wallet or pocket, on your computer screen or fridge…wherever you are likely to look multiple times a day. Start with just one. Spend a week memorizing that verse. Then, move on to the next one the following week.

Focus on one verse per week, trying to practice verses from the previous weeks as you go along to lock them better in your memory. These particular verses are meant to bring comfort, to bear witness, to shed light into your days and provide you with words the Holy Spirit may desire you to share with others. Don’t miss those opportunities!

I also recommend using these verses with your kids, working on one a month for very little children, rather than one a week. You’ll be surprised with their memory skills, and you also will be giving them the most vital tool with which to face the ups and downs of their daily lives – God’s Word to us.

Hope this simple printable helps you right now! Feel free to share, too!

Memorize Scripture-NT_CatholicKatie.com

 

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Catholics Come Home Summer Giveaway

Who doesn’t like free stuff? Better yet, who doesn’t love free Catholic stuff?

The Catholics Come Home team is giving away a summer prize pack to one winner of this giveaway (residents of the contiguous U.S. are eligible to win) as a thank you to its loyal friends and supporters.

The CCH Summer Giveaway Prize Pack includes:

Catholics Come Home: God’s Extraordinary Plan for Your Life by Tom Peterson

Head & Heart: Becoming Spiritual Leaders for Your Family by Katie Warner 

Catholics Come Home DVD with our evangomercials and other bonus videos

Evangelization cards (pack of 50)

…and a Catholics Come Home car magnet!

Enter below!

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6 Simple Resources to Amplify Your Prayer Life

“What the world most needs today is prayer.  It is prayer that will give birth to all the renewals, healings, deep and fruitful transformations we all want for society today.  This world of ours is very sick, and only contact with heaven will be able to cure it.” –Fr. Jacques Philipe 

Furthermore, any great transformation that we wish to see in ourselves thrives on the commitment and strength of our prayers.

Sometimes, though, praying can be a bit of a struggle. What to pray, how to pray, when to pray, being faithful to prayer when distractions and busy schedules get in the way, persevering in prayer when your spiritual life seems dry – all of these “obstacles” to prayer sometimes leave me in a bit of a prayer rut. That’s when I turn to some outside help to give my prayer life the kickstart it needs to keep going.

Of course, the best outside help is God Himself, who longs to draw closer to us and deepen His relationship with us through prayer. Asking God to give you the grace to move forward in your prayer life is a prayer that He no doubt loves to hear and answer.

Here are a few other resources I use to motivate me in prayer:

The Liturgy of the Hours: I feel like the Liturgy of the Hours is one of the most underutilized prayer gems by lay people in the Church today. The Laudate app is usually my preferred tool of choice for praying the Liturgy of the Hours in spare moments I can grab throughout the day, and it is such a helpful guide to calm me and connect me to God, the Source of all peace and transformation, through beautiful prayers that countless others around the world are also praying that day, too.

Thirsting for Prayer by Fr. Jacques Philippe: Having loved so many of Fr. Philippe’s other writings on the spiritual life (my favorite is Searching For and Maintaining Peace), I was eager to dive into this treatise knowing that it was no doubt going to be one of my favorite resources on prayer. Sure enough, I couldn’t stop highlighting everything as I was reading, and it has already deepened my prayer life. You can read the intro to the book here.

HH Meme13What Every Couple Should Know About Marriage and Prayer by Venerable Archbishop Fulton Sheen: This great CD/MP3 download continuously reminds me of the treasure that prayer is to my marriage. It’s also by one of my favorite saints, and I pretty much hang on every word he says. This particular talk does not disappoint.

Pray More Novenas: This great email service delivers novena prayers straight to your email inbox. It’s easy, it’s free…and most importantly, novenas are such a fantastic practice in enhancing your prayer life by capitalizing on the beautiful devotions and saintly intercessors that can help us grow in our spiritual lives.

Scripture: The Psalms, the Gospels, Paul’s letters…you name it. It’s hard to get past a few verses without finding something so rich to stop and meditate on. Yet we often completely forget to make the Bible a part of our regular prayer routine. I like to have the EWTN app on my phone to use the Bible feature when I’m on the go or not near my printed Bible.

Chapter 4 in Head & Heart on “Prioritizing Prayer”: The couples I interviewed whose stories, tips, and brutal honesty about their prayer lives made it into chapter four of this book continue to inspire me when I need it most, and I often refer to the other reflections and resources in that chapter to get me back on track when I start to lose focus in prayer.

*If you like these resource ideas, make sure you have a copy of my free Catholic Resource Guide, a great tool to use to help you grow in faith this new year!*

5 Signs You May Not Be Loving Your Spouse As Well As You Could Be

Some reminders I know that need from time to time:

1.    You’re focused on his/her faults more than your own.

couple on oceanIf you’re wrapped up in all the things your spouse is or isn’t doing for you that you wish he or she would do for you, then it’s time for a shift in focus. Rather than nitpicking your spouse’s faults, ask yourself, “What am I doing or not doing right now that I could be doing to love him/her better?” This approach is guaranteed to make both of you more content.

2.    You’re not praying daily for your spouse.

Praying for your spouse is one of the greatest gifts you can offer in your marriage. Strangely enough, many of us are sometimes better at praying with our spouse than we are at praying for him or her. Make sure you offer at least one heartfelt prayer to God for your spouse each day. Something as simple as, “Lord, I ask that you bless my spouse and help him/her to know your love more deeply today” is an important yet easy offering of love you can give your spouse every day.

3.    You haven’t done an unrequested act of service for him/her in recent history.

Maybe you’re pretty good at completing tasks or favors requested of you by your spouse, but it has been a while since you’ve spontaneously done something generous and unexpected for them. Think of something you can do to make your spouse’s life easier, and then do it—and, better yet, do it with joy.

4.    You aren’t paying him/her compliments regularly.

5 Signs You May Not Be loving Your Spouse as Well as You Could BeMark Twain said, “I can live for two months on a good compliment.” Sometimes the simplest compliment or encouraging word from you can make your spouse’s day a thousand times better. But, as we know too well, life happens, and it can be too easy to forget to say intentionally kind things to our spouse every day. So here’s a reminder to affirm your spouse more, starting now.

5.    You’re not good at giving your spouse the “benefit of the doubt.”

Conflict in marriage often comes when we assume the worst about our spouse and his/her intentions in a given situation. To love your spouse better, make an intentional decision to give him/her the benefit of the doubt the next time an uncomfortable situation arises, assuming the best about them or what they have said or done. After all, when you married your spouse you were likely great at doing this; dial back to that sort of positivity you have about him or her.

*Know a friend who could benefit from this reminder, too? Please share!*

10 Lessons from My Mom on How to Be a Great Mother

*This article originally appeared on the IntegratedCatholicLife.org in 2013. I like to re-share it every Mother’s Day!

Me and RJJust a few short months ago, I became a mother, and now I am just months away from meeting my little one on his birthday in December. The blessings multiply as pregnancy continues—with every little kick and each ultrasound picture of my little boy sucking his thumb or smiling big (just like his mama) in the womb, I thank God for the opportunity to share in new life.

It is amazing how much my pregnancy has given me pause for reflection on my relationship with my own mother, and on the qualities that make her the most remarkable role model in my life. I can honestly say that my mother is the most saintly person I know — an unmatched giving, loving, patient, faithful, prayerful woman who knows her life’s work is to be a wife and mother, and boy does she live out her vocation well.

If I am half as good at being a mother as my mother is, than I think my children will be exceedingly blessed. But I certainly have my work cut out for me. Fortunately, after observing my mother’s graceful living over the past 24 years of my life, I’ve picked up on some of her unsaid but well-lived tips for being a great mom.

  1. Pray always. Literally. Every moment of every day, do everything in a spirit of prayer. The most important thing you will ever do for your children is to pray for them. And prayers change everything. They contribute more to your kids’ growth, health, happiness, and sanctity than anything else. Pray for your children and for your ability to be a good mother.
  2. Be patient. Your children will learn from you either how to explode under pressure and anger or how to be composed, loving, and patient. Even when frustration levels are high, look at your family members as if they were little Christs, little souls whom you are called to love and practice patience with, even in the most trying of circumstances.
  3. Love and respect your husband. Your children will see you do it, and observing your marriage will impact the kind of marriage they desire and have of their own someday. If you disagree with your husband, don’t disagree with him verbally in front of the children. Always have your spouse’s back, and then discuss any disagreements in private. Show your children that you are an unbreakable team.
  4. mother and daughterFirst be your children’s mother, then and only after, their friend. Too many parents are overly concerned with being liked, and sometimes you won’t be liked. You won’t be liked when you discipline your kids or you challenge them to do the right, but hard, thing. And though you won’t always be liked, if you really do what is best for your children, you will always be loved.
  5. Practice self-sacrifice and unconditional love. Kids are, by their nature, demanding. They require your love, attention, service, wisdom, and so much more in order to develop into holy, mature adults. Raising a virtuous child requires a unique degree of self-sacrificial love. Abandon selfishness, and you will not only raise holier children who see your example, but you will become more Christ-like in the process. “So faith, hope, love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13
  6. Become best friends with Our Blessed Mother. Pray the Rosary often to receive strength from the world’s greatest mother: Mary. She will be your ultimate companion in motherhood—your best friend. Fly to her in your times of need, in your moments of rejoicing, and when your heart is aching. She will comfort you and dance with you as a Mother, to give you the grace to be a better mother yourself.
  7. Celebrate life with your kids. Tell your kids what a joy it is to be a mother, and that there is nothing greater than giving life and raising children, so they will always be encouraged to fight for and embrace life. Celebrate life with your daughters and sons as they begin to have their own children. Relive the excitement of your own early motherhood with them as they experience their baby’s first hiccups and kicks in the womb, their births, and the many memories made over years to come.
  8. Talk about and teach about Jesus and your Catholic Faith constantly, but more importantly, live the life of Jesus in your every day actions. Be unmistakable Catholic inside and outside the home, and do it with joy. When your children see how fulfilling it is to live a Christ-centered Catholic life and how it enriches your family, they will want that for themselves and their own families, too.
  9. Be silly. No need to be the world’s most serious mother. Be playful. Make up your mom in sunlight
    own lyrics to popular songs and dance like nobody (but your children) is watching. Tickle often. Your children will appreciate your spirited outlook on life and will learn from you that every day is a gift to be cherished and with which to have fun!
  10. Trust. Trust Jesus, trust your husband, trust your children, and let them see you trusting with all your might. In a culture where homes are filled with stress, be a home filled with peace and confidence in God’s will for you and your family.

Blessed Mother Teresa once said, “The woman is at the heart of the home. Let us pray that we women realize the reason for our existence: to love and be loved, and through this love become instruments of peace in the world.”

Every one of these lessons my mother has lived out and continues to practice to the utmost extent. Thank you, Mother, for teaching me how to be a great mom, for teaching me how to love and be loved and become an instrument of peace in our broken world. You are going to be an extraordinary grandmother. I hope I do you proud, so my children can hand down these lessons that they learn from me someday.

CLICK HERE for your Free Mother’s Day Printable Spiritual Bouquets!

Free Printables: Mother’s Day Spiritual Bouquets

In preparation for Mother’s Day, don’t forget to PRAY for the moms in your life – and let them know that you’re praying for them, too!

Here are a few colorful spiritual bouquet printables for mom, daughter, or grandmother. Just save & print the card image, add the prayers you’re offering on the lines provided (ex. one Mass, one Rosary, three Hail Marys, etc.) and sign your name.

Enjoy & Happy Mother’s Day!

Spiritual Bouquet for Mother

Spiritual Bouquet for Daughter

Spiritual Bouquet for Grandmother

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5 Things To Do With Your Catholic Child(ren) Every Day

5 Things to Do With Your Catholic Child Every Day - CatholicKatie.com“So everything that goes on in your home has a good or bad effect on your children. Try to help them with your own good example. Try not to hide your piety from them.” -St. Josemaria Escriva

Here are 5 things you can do with your kids every day to help make faith a more integral part of their lives and to strengthen their connection to Jesus and to you:

  1. Pray. Start the day with prayer, before your usual routine or school time begins. An Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, the Morning Offering, or a free-form prayer are all good options. In the evening, a decade of the Rosary, a chaplet, the Guardian Angel or St. Michael the Archangel prayers, or prayers of thanksgiving and intercession are powerful and simple prayers to say together after dinner or before bedtime.
  2. boy reading bibleRead the Bible. Get a hold of a great children’s Bible (or age appropriate Bible for your child) and read a story from it every day. The Bible has been such a routine part of my 2-year-old son’s day that he regularly requests Gospel stories and spends LOTS of time flipping through the pages himself in his own free time. When children are exposed to the Bible on a regular basis, they come to love it.
  3. Tell them how much God loves them. Make sure you remind your child(ren) every day–if not multiple times a day–how much Jesus loves them. A good time to remember to do so is when you are telling them you love them. “I love you! Do you know who else loves you so, so much? Jesus!” The older they get, the more important this message becomes, as they brave the ups and downs of growing up: God loves you more than you’ll ever know.
  4. Do something nice for someone else. Model for your kids this great practice of doing one simple, concrete act of charity or mercy for someone else each day, and encourage them (or physically help them depending on their age) to do that “something kind” for someone else, too. Ask them about their good deed at dinner or at night.
  5. dad and son runningSpend quality time together/Give your child(ren) your undivided attention. Discipleship comes through relationship building. If you want your children to really learn the faith from you and to become faithful disciples of Jesus Christ, invest intentional time in them. Make sure that every day, your child(ren) get some of your undivided attention, where you spend time talking with them, reading to them, playing with them, attending their extracurricular activities (and watching rather looking at your phone), cuddling them, or doing whatever connects you with each other and strengthens your parent-child bond.

Bonus one: Take them to daily Mass! It’s pretty much the best way to combine all of the above into one awesome, faith-building activity that you can do together. If you have the ability to go to Mass together on a non-Sunday day of the week, do it. Over time, you won’t be able to live without it! Never underestimate the power of the sacraments to work wonders in the lives of you and your children.

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The More Margin for Peace Challenge: How to Focus More on Being vs. Doing

tcht_series_medCulture tells us that we are valuable because of what we do. It speaks to our senses, every moment of every day, telling us we need to do more. Our worth is based on what we accomplish, how we achieve, the number of hours we put in at the office, how much we make and how much we spend, and what we cross off our life’s to-do lists.
God tells us we are valuable because of who we are. He whispers in our hearts, every moment of every day, that he loves us because we are his. We are valuable because we are man, created in his image. Our worth is based on who we become—how conformed we can be to his will and the person he created us to be, the time we spend just being with him in prayer, how we love, what we cross off our life’s to-be list.

Peace builder: Focus more on being than doingSome strategies for focusing more on being than doing as a way to make more margin for peace:

  • Sit – just sit – in God’s presence: Sometime this week, go to the adoration chapel, your parish’s sanctuary, or a quiet place in your home and just sit and “be” with God. You can read or do other “action-oriented” things in prayer later, but to start, just spend time in silence with God.
  • Pick a virtue to grow in this week: Virtues help us become the people God desires us to be, the kind of people that will make us truly content and at peace with ourselves. Pick a virtue (charity, generosity, patience, trust, faith, hope, prudence, fortitude…) that you will focus on this week to help you take one step closer to being a saintly person.
  • Cross off an item on your to-do list: Look at your likely expansive list of things to do this week and determine if there is anything that can wait, making a little more margin for rest this week.

“I have said this to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” —John 16:33

***Don’t forget to post a note or set a reminder on your phone to follow through with your plan to focus more on being than on doing this week!***

If you missed the past weekly challenges to make more margin for peace, you can find them here.

The More Margin for Peace Challenge: How to Honor the Lord’s Day

tcht_series_medMany of us know the Third Commandment given by God to Moses: “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the sev- enth day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; . . . therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it” (Ex 20:8–11).

Unfortunately, knowing the commandment doesn’t mean it is well practiced. Full schedules, sports events and TV, open restaurants and shopping malls, and a general cultural habit of working too much and playing too little make it easy to let Sundays pass us by as just another day of the week. And it is not just another day of the week. If we want more peace in our lives, we need to reconnect with God, rest, and pursue leisure on the day made to recharge our peace: Sunday.

Take back your SundayTips for “taking back Sunday” as a day for peace in your life and home:

  • Prioritize Mass: Plan your whole day around the Mass, making it the “high point” of your Sunday. Read the readings before you go, dress up, linger to pray, and discuss and reflect on what you got out of Mass later that day.
  • Minimize distractions: Don’t allow errands, shopping, chores, overconsumption of media, and other distractions to hijack your Sunday, leaving you little time for the things that restore your peace and help you reconnect with God and family.
  • Plan rejuvenating, fun, and restful activities: Go for a day trip, read for pleasure, take a nap, watch a movie as a family, read the Bible together, spend time outdoors, celebrate a feast day with a craft or food related to the feast, say a family rosary, visit a distant or sick friend or relative, do a volunteer or ministry activity at your parish or in the community.

Make a plan this week to make the most of your upcoming Sunday, and the rest of your Sundays this month.

In his masterful work, Leisure: The Basis of Culture, Josef Pieper contends that leisure requires con- stant affirmation by our practice of it and leads us to an inner joyfulness that lasts. “This is why the ability to be ‘at leisure’ is one of the basic powers of the human soul . . . the power to be at leisure is the power to step beyond the working world and win contact with those superhuman, life-giving forces that can send us, renewed and alive again, into the busy world of work.”

***Don’t forget to post a note or set a reminder on your phone to follow through with your plan to Honor the Lord’s day this week!***

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