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As I’m leaving the confessional this Sunday, my first thought is “I wonder how long it will stick this time,” just hoping to get to Holy Communion in a state of grace.

I had just finished confessing the same sins I’ve been confessing for years. 

When am I going to GET it? When am I going to change?

We are all in a constant state of renewal. Renewing our zest for life, renewing our kitchen into a state of cleanliness, renewing our commitment to our jobs when we get up in the morning and repeat the same Tuesday that we had last week…

Opportunities for interuption are all around us. This last weekend I was listening to the book “Atomic Habits” as I drove to a family reunion. One of the things that struck me is how we identify ourselves.

It one thing to say “I’m trying to wake up ealier” and another to say “I’m an early riser.” Once we start seeing ourselves as the identity we want to become, creating new habits becomes a bit easier.

This struck a cord because a few months ago I was talking to Kathy Kovarik about my spiritual gifts discernment. (She’s amazing, btw). And at the end of our conversation she told me something I’ve heard many times over, but this time was different. She said “You are the daugher of the King.” Meaning, I had unlimited potential and the protection of God himself as I experimented with different spiritual gifts.

Actually…. it had a much deeper meaning for me than that. I’m really having a hard time putting into words how loved and protected I felt all at once. 

Which brings me to the form of Renewal I’ve been working with over the last few months: Spiritual Gifts. 

You’ve read my emails; I’ve been alluding to Spiritual Gifts for a few weeks now. If you find yourself in a place of wanting to do more, or needing a fresh way to participate in your faith, or simply wanting to have a clearer understanding of the Spiritual Gifts you were given, there are two steps.

The first is to take an inventory. St. Austin’s in Austin TX provides this link for an initial self-assesment.  Give yourself time, pray before you begin, and answer as the Holy Spirity guides you.

The second step that I found the most beneficial is to hire someone like Kathy to help you on the path to discerning how to use this information. She is a Catholic spiritual director and trained in the Sprititual Gifts process.  If this is something you are serious about, her email address is facesofleadership (at) gmail.com.

I hope you find some little ray of newness in your faith every day.

Love to all,
+Megan

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“I am shook” is most often heard in our house when our teenagers are being sarcastic.

But what happens when our faith is shaken? I’m not talking about a lukewarm faith, but fear.

I’ve recently sought the help of a spiritual director trained in helping people discern their spiritual gifts. And while some of these gifts were easy to identify, she challenged me to use the next month to discern if Faith is one of my spiritual gifts (more on this in the coming weeks).

To say that I’ve had resistance is an understatement. I have never had such a deluge of fear rocking my boat in my life. The past week has been a stream of anxiety and tears, bordering on terror. 

So here I sit, reminding myself that fear is the opposite of faith. When the apostles were in the boat with Jesus, and He is asleep while the boat is being battered with the storm, no one is stopping to pray. Instead they are physically fighting to keep the boat afloat, doing everything in their OWN power.

But their own power isn’t good enough.

And Jesus awakens and calms the storm. Nothing man could have done to save the boat would have worked, except having faith and praying. 

I want to control everything. I want my hard work to fix everything. 

In 1 John 4:18 we are told “There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear because fear has to do with punishment, and so one who fears is not yet perfect in love.”

Faith and Fear cannot coexist. So what are we to do when faced with fear and panic, and the need to fix our own problems?

1. Spend a minimum of 15 minutes in prayer with God, breathing deeply.

2. Remind myself that I am the daughter of the King. Fear does not come from God.

3. Repent (confession) – the grace received in sacraments is only available to the hearts that are prepared for those graces.

And when you are in a spiral of fear, it is the grace of God that allows us to love and trust, and build the faith necessary to squelch the fear.

Love to all,
+Megan

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When Father mentioned “Heresy of Quietism” it caught me off guard.

I had never heard that phrase before.

Our priest used it in his sermon this weekend and I was intrigued. 

Basically, it’s advocates for the believer to be passive in their faith life.

On it’s surface it sounds like simple contemplation. But Quietism is a little more sinister than that. Defined as “devotional contemplation and abandonment of the will as a form of religious mysticism.”

So instead of relying on the sacraments, or going out and being an active Christian – showing others the love of God, practitioners would claim that because they gave up their free will, everything that happens is the will of God, and if they happened to sin, it wasn’t really them, it was their body but not their will, so they couldn’t be responsible for it.

The crux I’m aiming to get across is that this fear that we have of “what difference can I make?” or being to scared to be that outward face of God’s love is weak and passive. 

God isn’t asking you (me) to go convert the entire world, to cure cancer, or be the next savior (we already have One, thank you), but you certainly cannot sit on the sidelines and allow fear to keep you from uniting your will with God’s.

Be scared. Then go out and do it anyway.

Go in peace to love and serve the world!

Love to all,
+Megan

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There are 2 things I want to address:

1) The gifts God gives us

2) The opportunity to use these gifts

I spent this last week in Arkansas with my FIRST Lego League robotics team that I coach. We’ve had a pretty successful group these last couple of years thanks to the kiddos’ blend of creativity and talents.

But…

We had been working for this competition for 9 months…. 5 months before even qualifying for the event. The kids knew their stuff inside out and backwards. 

But…

Going in to those judged events I was so nervous for them. They had God’s gifts, they developed those gifts and applied them to their robotics.

But…

Would they be able to embrace the opportunity in front of them?

This doesn’t apply only to a whip-smart group of Junior High kids. We are given charisms (aka spiritual gifts). The more we use them, the more opportunities arise to use them even more.

Be on the lookout for the opportunity. Only a portion of us are called to use our words when we spread the Word. The rest of us are called to use our creativity, wisdom, prayer, healing (or other charism) to spread God’s love.

This is how you bring your faith into your every day life. This is how God’s presence is woven into your daily tasks.

Love to all,
+Megan

PS… the robot kiddos nailed it!

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Travis here. Megan’s taking the week off as she’s headed to the First Lego League Razorback International Championships!

A while back, our priest, Father Kevin, told a story about his childhood that was really interesting to me (he tells lots of great stories of his childhood actually).

Anyway, with this story, he talked about how he was always disappointed that he wasn’t named after a saint. So much so, that he looked towards St. Michael the Archangel for his confirmation Saint; which is partly why we pray the prayer to St. Michael at the end of each mass. Of course, he found out later that he WAS named after a saint, just not one as well-known as others!

This got me to thinking about the Catholic faith and the history of it. I’m a student of history and love doing research on a variety of things. You see, I was raised Lutheran and we don’t have all of these Saints. We don’t learn their history, their struggles and how they overcame them and inspired others to follow Christ. So Father Kevin’s story really seemed to hit home because, well, I wasn’t named after a Saint.

I’ve been doing more research on it and have found some amazing Saints throughout the ages. My favorite so far is St. John Chrysostom. He is the patron saint of Orators and was known for his eloquence – which as a speech and debate coach is probably why I like him so much.

This discovery is something that I continue to find interesting. Magnificat has really helped me with this because each episode has a “Saint Who?” that I’ve learned quite a bit about different Saints who I previously had no idea who they were.

It’s pretty amazing seeing everything that they’ve done over the years and the connections they had to other saints. So if you want to be like me and learn about new saints, there are a ton of resources out there. You never know, maybe you’ll find someone who will inspire you!

Megan will be back next week. Thanks for reading!

Travis

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Sunday evening I drove my daughter into town so she could pick up trash in a park in order to get the last of her required community service hours in for school.

That same day I had passed up the opportunity to pick up a piece of trash in the parking lot at the grocery store. 

I still feel guilty about that.

This scenario has me thinking about the times that we “do good” compared to the times we decline the invitation. Fatigue, reputation, laziness, and apathy all play a role. 

The natural tendency is to want to “get credit” for our good acts, but not to the extent where we’d look weird doing it. (Or maybe that’s just a Midwest thing).  

So I’ll ask you this:

When it comes down to these little opportunities to shine our Christian light on the world – even for just a moment – how often do we say “yes”?

And – What can we do to improve our participation percentage in these moments?

Love to all,
+Megan

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The potato dumplings didn’t turn out so great.

I was responsible for the favorite family dish this Easter: the potato dumplings. Getting the texture just right demands that the potatoes be under-cooked just a little bit.

But I could not for the life of me bring myself to stay inside long enough to watch the pot. The weather was so beautiful. Here in South Dakota we get about 2 days like it per year. The temperature, the sun, the complete lack of mosquitoes….

Long story short, the dumplings weren’t great. The ham was fine.

All this to say …

So much of the time we put pressure on ourselves to do better, to improve something, to make progress.

But on the 7th day God rested. And there is nothing wrong with just soaking in the beauty He created for us, and enjoying the moments filled with grace.

And so I rested. I reveled in the sunshine. I basked in the glory that surrounded me. 

Besides, potato dumplings are better fried up for breakfast the next day anyway.

Love to all,
+Megan

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“Preach the gospel, and if necessary, use words.”

Last week I mentioned that the only legacy you can leave that will last forever is how many souls you help get to heaven.

This was by no means a call to perfection. Instead, ask yourself “What is one thing I can do differently today (or this week) that will allow God’s love to shine through me?”

or

“What knowledge can I seek that will bring me closer to God?” Because if you are closer to Him, your growing love and grace will naturally shine through for others to see.

You don’t have to be out on the street corner preaching the gospel. It’s about using the unique gifts God gave you to reach those who need to hear/see/witness the power of His love.

No grand gestures necessary, just a little bit here and there is fine. 

What matters is that you decide to make a change, and then do it. It doesn’t have to be big. Maybe it’s flashing a friendly smile at your barista at the coffee shop when you usually just grab your cup and go.

Maybe it’s thanking your spouse for something they do all the time to keep your household running.

What is that one tiny shift you can make today that expresses His love?

And then tomorrow you add just a little bit more. Then the next day and the next….

Love to all,
+Megan

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The only legacy you can leave that will last forever is how many souls you helped get to heaven.

Buildings –  even those that have stood the test of time and are iconic to our faith – are temporary.

Intellectual contributions won’t be enough to keep your name on everyone’s lips for eternity. Not even if you’re Plato.

Material riches are as good as dust. Businesses and charities will eventually close.  Bank accounts and treasuries will empty or become worthless.

The only thing you can do to make a permanent difference is help souls get to heaven. That’s it. 

That’s all that matters.

You have 2 jobs: 1) Get to heaven, and 2) get as many souls there as you can.

Love to all,
+Megan

PS – Update on Notre Dame  in Paris:

1- The roof is gone, but the stone arch under the roof is still there.

2- 2 of the 3 rose windows are still in place

3- The main structure is still standing. Notre Dame did not burn down.

4- The relics and sacred objects are safe.

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Thank God you were called in the first place.

Today I want you to simply think back across the last week to a time where you were answering God’s call. Maybe you didn’t even know you were doing it at the time. 

Here’s a few hints as to when that occurred:

1. You choose grace over anger – You know those times where it would be really easy to get upset, (like when they mess up your order at a restaurant, or your child spills their milk across the dinner table) and instead you smiled and extended grace. That feeling of peace and joy? That’s the result of you saying “yes” to God’s call to grace.

That inner experience of peace, joy and energy is Hint #1.

2. You received a sacrament  – Perhaps last week was a rough one and all you were able to eek out was Sunday Mass. That’s a great place to start. You were in the physical Presence of Jesus Christ – Body, Blood Soul and Divinity!  How awesome is that?!

3. You were an example – It’s starting to warm up here, and preparing my garden for plants (which won’t be ready to go in the ground for another 6 weeks) is a large, looming task. This weekend I did a lot of hard work without complaint because I want my daughters to see the joy gardening can bring. No amount of talking or handing over a book to read can replace the examples I set for them.

What examples have you laid out for those around you (including strangers) that “show off” the beauty of your faith? Even something as small as  picking up a piece of litter in the parking lot counts.

****

Sometimes we hear God’s call and don’t respond, sometimes we act on His call without even knowing we’ve been spoken to.  Take just a minute to recognize where you have answered His call this last week, and offer a prayer of gratitude for being called in the first place.

Love to all,
+Megan

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