The Prayer Process

I have discovered I am The Best Version of Me when I begin my day with intentional prayer. My alarm goes off, and before my feet hit the ground, I recite The Lord’s Prayer and a Hail Mary. Most of the time I will actually hit “snooze” and repeat both prayers over and over until my alarm goes off again. I envision a specific person (or people) for which I offer up my prayers. (Although I will be honest and say I sometimes can’t help but fall back asleep! #sleepdeprivedbecauseofbaby)
Praying first-thing in the morning helps me feel more grounded and in tune with God, and myself, thus leading me to be a better wife and mother. I find that prayer transforms me to be more patient and think before I speak (or yell). I encourage everyone to try it!
You will find below, that I have paraphrased Matthew Kelly’s guided process for praying, that I follow (most) every morning. I have a notebook I write my prayers in, which helps me stay focused and disciplined. If you are not familiar with Matthew Kelly, you can read more about him here, along with his ministry, Dynamic Catholic. My husband and I were blessed to hear him speak a few years back and it was quite transformational.
The following “prayer process” can be for anyone, regardless of your religion! That’s the amazing thing: we’re all praying to the same God!
“The Prayer Process”

1. GRATITUDE – Thank God for what you are most grateful for today.

2. AWARENESS – Think about times in the last twenty-four hours when you were and were not the “best-version-of-yourself”. Talk about these times and what you have learned from them.

3. SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS – Find something that occurred in the past twenty-four hours and ponder what God may be trying to say to you by way of that event/person.

4. PEACE – Seek forgiveness from God for any wrongdoings you have done, whether it be against yourself, another person, or Him. Ask God to give you peace over the situation.

5. FREEDOM– Converse with God about how He is welcoming you to change your life, in order for you to be “the-best-version-of-yourself”.

6. OTHERS– Offer up to God anyone you want to pray for today, requesting He blesses and guides them.

7. PRAYTHE OUR FATHER’ (or if you’re Jewish, pray ‘The Shema‘)
I pray the latter helps you be more intentional with your prayer, and that it leads you to be The Best Version of Yourself.

I’d love to hear how prayer has transformed or improved your life!

loyally,
katie 
     

Today is a New Day

Thanking God this morning for literally a breath of fresh air. 

Yesterday was a shit day. Adelaide couldn’t go to school because she was sick the day before, but I had a hair appointment. My amazing cleaning lady insisted she watch Adelaide so I could get my hair done before we go out of town. I bring Alexander to the salon with me and he is a pretty good sport. Here’s when things go downhill: The new girl cuts my hair two inches TOO SHORT and screws up the color! It was so blotchy, but I didn’t realize this until I got home and played around with it. I cried! This is my worst nightmare! I call the owner and she says she will fix it that evening. So I scramble around to find childcare since Blake was suppose to be taking a night flight. No such luck. She says she can come in early the next day, too, but I realize Adelaide has her school pictures and I don’t want her to miss them because when you’re a military kid those things are important.

Meanwhile, I get the two littles dressed to see the Easter Bunny and in the car to pick up Emmalyn from school. We get to the mall, only to be told we have to wait thirty minutes for The Bunny to come back. The girls are hungry, but there’s no food court in our mall because: small town. I get them Chex Mix from Michael’s Crafts, but we have to wait in the longest line! By this time, the bunny is back. 

As I was taking Alexander out of the car seat, he scratches his face and is bleeding. He’s never done this, but of course it happens seconds before the picture. I also realize he has a poop and is hungry (notice his searching-for-the-boob-face below). Also, Adelaide all the sudden decides she is afraid of The Bunny and refuses to get in the picture. No amount of chocolate bribery will work. I choose not to force the situation because I don’t want to traumatize my daughter. After all, I would punch someone in the face if they forced me to have my picture taken with a bird. So I focus on the other two kids, but Alexander is fixated on finding milk from The Bunny and will not turn his head towards the camera. I am sweating at this point. We get the best picture we can and call it a day. Then The Bunny hands Emmalyn a candy and Adelaide goes to get one, but I tell her no because she did not get her picture taken. The Bunny does a back-and-forth dance with the candy, not sure what to do, and ultimately gives Adelaide the candy. I take it away and she has a full-blown meltdown all the way across the parking lot. 

I vow never to do Easter Bunny pics again. It’s not worth it! Did we even interact with the bunny? NOPE. Did we get a picture with all three kids? NOPE. Did anyone have fun? NOPE. What was the effing point?! 

As I put Alexander’s car seat in the car, the stroller rolls away across the parking lot and I have no clue until a random man shouts out to inform me. Adelaide puts up a mean fight to get in her car seat, but I don’t back down. I have to use every muscle in my body, but I finally get her in. I collapse into the driver’s seat and cry. (And this is hard to do when you’re on antidepressants!) 

“Mommy is having a bad day,” I tell the girls. Apparently this is code for: Let’s Fight All The Way Home. One shining beacon of light is Blake calls and says he will cancel his flight so I can get my hair fixed. I feel terribly guilty about that, but tell myself sometimes I need to put myself first! 

I somehow manage to throw two frozen pizzas in the oven and the girls in the tub. As soon as Blake gets home, I grab the baby and hightail it out of the house, back to the salon. The owner was super apologetic and sweet, and thankfully Alexander slept the whole time. I got home after 9pm, nursed the baby, pumped, ate a snack while watching trashy reality TV (The Twins), and crashed as soon as my head hit my pillow. 

The whole day I kept repeating the first line from The Serenity Prayer: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

The nice thing about days are: they must come to an end. And tomorrow will always be a new day. I woke up this morning, reciting a Hail Mary and The Lord’s Prayer, and vowed to have a positive outlook on the day. After all, our sweet little boy is getting baptized this weekend, and there’s no sacrament more exciting!

God is good!

loyally,
katie


Here’s the full Serenity Prayer in case you need it today:

God grant me the serenity 
To accept the things I cannot change; 
Courage to change the things I can; 
And wisdom to know the difference. 

Living one day at a time; 
Enjoying one moment at a time; 
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
Taking, as He did, this sinful world 
As it is, not as I would have it; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 

Amen.
(Reinhold Niebuhr 1892-1971)

I’ll Say a Prayer for You

When you share a story of struggle with a friend do they ever respond with, “I’ll say a prayer for you.”? Do you ever wonder if they really do say a prayer?

I often ponder this. Sometimes I think, Don’t tell me you’re going to say a prayer if you’re not really going to say it. Then I started thinking maybe they don’t think I actually say a prayer if I promise to keep them in my prayers.

But I do. I really do.

If I’m having a conversation with someone, perhaps via text, and I write, “I’ll say a prayer for you,” I literally pause whatever it is I am doing and say a prayer for that particular person.

Every time.

If someone asks for prayers over Facebook, I don’t scroll on by. I pause and say a prayer for him or her.

Every time.

If I can *waste* time watching a funny cat video someone shared, then I most certainly have time to pause for prayer for a friend in need.

How many of us actually do that? Do my friends do that for me? I used to throw out the phrase, “I’ll say a prayer…” and then had the best intentions on doing so later in the day, but let’s be real: my day would get busy, my mind would get busy, and a lot of the time I would end up forgetting to pray for whomever I said I’d pray for. Sound familiar?

I realized this was happening frequently so I decided that whenever I told someone I would pray for them, I would. Right there, in that moment.

I challenge you to do the same. No doubt our lives are busy and chaotic, but anyone can take sixty seconds to pray for a friend in need. If you are not in the right frame of mind to say a prayer in that exact moment, then write the person’s name down where you know you’re going to see it before you lay your head down for bed.

And if prayer isn’t a part of your life, at least stop to send them good vibes. Every bit of positivity is powerful.

When I tell a friend I will pray for them, I feel like not only am I making a promise to them, but a promise to God, as well.

I pray all my loyal friends, family, and followers have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving.

I really do.

loyally,
katie

Have you LIKED me on Facebook yet? I’ll love you forever! 😉
I also post pics of my ridiculously adorable girls on Instagram: @katievanbrunt

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DIY: Lenten Prayer “Treasure” Box

As a Jewish mom raising a Catholic daughter, teaching her about the Lenten season can be tricky. There’s a lot of effort and research on my end—to make sure she (make that, WE both!) properly understands the season.

I want to teach her that it’s a time to bring us closer to God. 

It’s a time to let go of materialistic things, like toys and television—things that bring us happiness only temporarily. 
It’s a time to refocus our hearts on prayer and reflection, and our relationship with God.

I want to inspire her to be better, not require her to give up television. At three years old I don’t think she can comprehend that giving up television for forty days (Oh–but except for Sundays, because that’s a day of celebration) is a sacrifice for God. It just doesn’t seem very age-appropriate, in my opinion. I could just hear her now: God doesn’t want me watching Doc McStuffins… That’s not the point I’m trying to make. 

Instead, I want to inspire her to make good choices in life.

Without over-stimulating her, (and overwhelming myself with high expectations), I’ve decided to keep it simple. Emmalyn enjoys partaking in crafts–especially those that include scissors, paint, and glue. Together, we created a: Lenten Prayer “Treasure” Box. 

I’ve seen something similar done for older children, where they write down a prayer request and put it in a box (whether it’s an old shoe box or mini-mailbox). Seeing as Emmalyn cannot write yet, but is absolutely capable of praying for people (as she demonstrates on her own every evening either at dinner or bedtime), I’m going to have her cut out pictures of people, or help her draw them, then transcribe her very own personal prayer onto a piece of paper. Most of the time she’s rather specific in her prayers so it should be very interesting and entertaining to see what she comes up with. Then, she will put them in her very own Lenten Prayer Treasure Box. 
**   **   **
The steps to creating our Lenten Prayer “Treasure” Box were quite simple.
Step One: Grab a cute kid.

Step Two: Pick out a box big enough to hold approximately forty strips of paper/pictures.
We got our box at Michael’s Crafts.I believe it was $10.
Step Three: Let her have at it! 
As someone who loves crafting myself, I had to sit on my hands! This wasn’t my project–but Emmalyn’s. Oh, and that mini-treasure box you see? It was the original one she picked out, but obviously not big enough; therefore, we ended up with two treasure boxes.
Step Four: Add stickers!
The paint dries pretty quickly, but we still waited until the next day to add stickers to it. Again, I kept my mouth closed when Emmalyn picked out her own stickers at the craft store. She picked cupcakes and princess castles. They’re felt and super sticky on the backside. I thought I was going to have to reglue them after she went to bed, but seriously, those suckers aren’t coming off!
Step Five: Voila! Easy enough, right?!
My hope is to have her do one prayer every day, but I’m not going to fret if we miss a day every now and again. The point isn’t to have her do it for forty days, but rather to get her thinking about doing good for others, the way Jesus did for her. 
I want her to practice being grateful, while also strengthening her relationship with God.
loyally,
katie 
–>> What are you plans for Lent? Do you have a children’s activity up your sleeve? If so, I’d love to hear/see about it! Leave me a link in the comments if you have one. –>>
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Being Jewish During Lent

Being Jewish during Lent means I automatically get to pick up a Get-Out-of-Jail-Free-Card and Pass Go—straight on to the pink Peeps. But my daughter is Catholic, and it’s vital to our family to instill in her the importance of the Lenten season.

Growing up, watching my Catholic friends and relatives (yes, we’re a mixed bunch!), I always got the impression that Lent meant only giving something up (i.e., chocolate or fast food) just to witness them gobble down a half-pound chocolate bunny and drive through McDonald’s after Mass. Sometimes for fun, I would join in with my friends to see what I could give up for forty days, too. It was like a fun little game for me.

As I got older I began to learn that you’re not limited to only picking something to give up for Lent, but rather you can choose to add something significant to your life—such as waking up earlier to go to the gym every morning, or finding a new program to volunteer for, or reading the Bible before bed every night.

Last year around this time, someone asked me what I was giving up for Lent to which I laughed and facetiously replied, “I’m Jewish—I get to do whatever I want!” (Seriously people, I was joking, and please do not take that the wrong way.) I continued on to say that Lent wasn’t just about giving something up for the sake of “It’s Lent—quick! I’ve gotta give something up!” but can also be a time to switch gears and refocus on becoming a-better-version-of-yourself.

At the time, the thought of giving up fast food or chocolate seemed insignificant in comparison to adding something meaningful to your life; but really, don’t both ends of “giving up something” and “adding something” guide you in becoming your better self? I can take it a step further, too, and add that if we are becoming better people ourselves, we are also helping to serve others. If I’m working to become a-better-version-of-myself, in turn, I’m also becoming a better wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, and citizen.

And isn’t that the whole point of humanity anyway?

Since my daughter is still only three, I don’t think I want to take the route of “giving something up,” but rather enlighten her character by adding something meaningful to her life. At her age, I feel it needs to be somewhat tangible since feelings are hard to grasp and measure when you’re in preschool. {However, the other day she did tell me it hurt her feelings when I was bothering her during a puzzle…}

Not to get all preachy, but the last thing I want is for my daughter to grow up thinking Easter is about The Bunny and baskets. {Although I did snag some pretty stellar pink golf clubs at a resale to put in her basket since we don’t do candy.} I don’t want materialistic things to trump the true meaning of Easter. But I digress. This post isn’t about The Resurrection, per say, but about the practice of Lent.

Just because I’m not Catholic, doesn’t mean I can’t participate in Easter-y things. Sure, there are definitely rituals reserved for Catholics, and I’m always respectful of that (i.e., not taking Communion), but there’s a lot every individual can learn about the ritual of sacrificing for Lent. I have realized that giving up something often results in a person practicing self-denial and “suffering,” reminding him or her what God was willing to give up on his or her behalf. 

As an outlier throughout the Lenten season, and someone who can only partially participate, I personally take away the message that this is a time to turn down self-gratification, and reflect and ponder on sacrifices I can make as an individual, as well as healthy habits I can choose to do to help me become a-better-version-of-myself. 

loyally,
katie

–>> Stay tuned to find out what I’ve decided to give up or add, and what we will be doing with Emmalyn to help her grasp the meaning of the Lenten season! Have you thought about what you will be doing either as an individual or family? –>>
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mad.

i am mad. downright fucking pissed, to be perfectly honest. 
my mom has cancer again. 
for the third time. 
in six years. 
seriously, who the hell gets cancer three times in six years? 
it’s just not right.
i feel helpless. 
i feel so sorry for her. 
& i hate that phrase… “feeling sorry” 
…but i don’t know what else to say. 
i don’t know what to do. 
hot tears seared my hidden face, as i unintentionally expressed wet blotches of black mascara on my white pillow. 
it was a difficult cry–a struggle against the antidepressants in my system.
“mommy! mommy! maaaaahhhhmmmmy!” i heard my daughter cry out on the other side of my bedroom door. 
her cries for me coincided with the cries i had for my own mother. 
as if it were my inner voice.
what a surreal and eerie moment it was–my young daughter crying out for me, while i silently cried out for my mommy, praying emmalyn never has to cry for the same reason.
as much as i want to crawl out of, and shed my skin, i know my mom wants to a hundred times more.
 i can only imagine how she is feeling right now, and i bet it involves a few choice curse words.
what do i do for her? 
what do i say? 
we’ll find out more tomorrow, but she will definitely have to endure both chemo and radiation.  
again.
but my mom? 
she’s a fighter. 
& a hell of a good one, at that!
each time i found out my mom had the big c, we allowed ourselves to convulse into one another with harsh tears, then promised that was it. 
no more.
my mom got through it twice before, and she’ll get through it again.
yes, i am mad. 
but i’m also inspired. 
inspired by my best friend who won’t let anything stand in her way of living.
loyally,
katie 

p.s. thank you for allowing me to be honest. & explicit. although, i apologize but not really for the explicit part 😉

:::


Things to Remember About Life

I’m not sure where this is from (besides my MIL’s fridge), but I copied it and tacked it up on my refrigerator, too, for a healthy & daily reminder. Thought I’d share! 🙂
The most destructive behavior …………………………………………………………………………………….. Worry
The greatest Joy ………………………………………………………………………………………………………… Giving
The greatest loss ………………………………………………………………………………………. Loss of self-respect
The most satisfying work ………………………………………………………………………………… Helping others
The ugliest personality trait …………………………………………………………………………………… Selfishness
The most endangered species ………………………………………………………………………. Dedicated leaders
Our greatest natural resource ………………………………………………………………………………….. Our youth
The greatest “shot in the arm” …………………………………………………………………………. Encouragement
The greatest problem to overcome …………………………………………………………………………………… Fear
The most effective sleeping pill ………………………………………………………………………… Peace of mind
The most crippling failure disease………………………………………………………………………………. Excuses
The most powerful force in life ……………………………………………………………………………………… Love
The most dangerous pariah ……………………………………………………………………………………. A gossiper
The world’s most incredible computer ………………………………………………………………………. The brain
The worst thing to be without ……………………………………………………………………………………….. Hope
The deadliest weapon …………………………………………………………………………………………… The tongue
The two most power-filled words ……………………………………………………………………………….. “I Can”
The greatest asset …………………………………………………………………………………………………………. Faith
The most worthless emotion …………………………………………………………………………………….. Self-pity
The most beautiful attire …………………………………………………………………………………………… SMILE!
The most prized possession ………………………………………………………………………………………. Integrity
The most powerful channel of communication ………………………………………………………………. Prayer
The most contagious spirit ……………………………………………………………………………………. Enthusiasm

Am I turning into a Morning Person?!?!

Oh how I’ve never been a Morning Person. Pre-baby, I could sleep the day away. Time before 10am didn’t exist in my book. Looking back, I feel bad for my parents who had to deal with me! I was like a bear who had been woken up during hibernation… you don’t want to mess with that!
<–<–that was me
{sorry, mom & dad}

Now that I’m older and married with a baby? I’m still not a Morning Person. Conventionally one would assume I’m a Night Owl instead, but that’s not the case either. When the clock strikes 10pm, my mind peace’s out! Adios! I am mentally done for the night.

I’m utterly grateful that my little Emmy sleeps until 7:30-8 every morning. I know, I know… some of you moms are rolling your eyes at me right about now… My mornings used to consist of sleeping in until Emmy woke up (unless of course we had someplace we had to be), scrambling to brush my teeth before she starts to get impatient, sharing breakfast with her, then trying to get myself ready for the day while Emmy may or may not be willing to entertain herself. This routine left me feeling frazzled and tense.

Sooo…..

If you want things to change, do something different!

& that’s exactly what I’m doing! Over the last several days, I have put my phone out of snooze-reach, forcing myself to get out of bed to turn it off {or else my husband might just kick me out of bed}. This little trick works!

As soon as my feet hit the floor, there’s no turning back! I drink my hot lemon water with honey to gently wake up my organs, do a few yoga stretches with a side of prayer and gratitude, followed by either writing, or reading something inspirational. I used to turn the news on first-thing to see what’s going on in the world, but realized it’s just too harsh & unsettling to wake up to. Who wants to hear about the latest local drive-by shooting or fire as soon as they wake up? Not this chick.

So after a little reading or writing, I get to eat my breakfast in peace. & if you’re a mom, you know how rare this is… no little one(s) shouting, “Bite! Bite! More, please! Bite!” By the time I’m done eating (which at this point, I will turn on the news to make sure the world is not ending), Emmy is either waking up or, if I’m lucky, I may have time to throw on some make-up and look presentable.

Truthfully, I’ve come to really enjoy the time before my daughter wakes up. It’s worth sacrificing a little sleep for.  My days are smoother and easier now. I feel refreshed and ready to lead a productive day.

<–<–this is me now! 😉

As a former HitTheSnoozeButtonAtLeastThreeTimes girl, I highly recommend moving your alarm out of arm’s reach.

{but that’s just me… my husband won’t do it…}

So what about you? Are you a morning person? What do you do to get out of bed? Have any morning rituals that make your day better?

***
Loyally,
Katie