Christmas of Mercy

After a long stint of no phone calls, no visiting and not even a simple birthday wish I find it hard to face family and friends over the holidays. Inevitably they will demand an explanation of my absence and lack of communication. And then there is that lil unresolved spat from years past that everyone remembers...or is it just me? I don't know and I don't care. Maybe this year will be different. Maybe this year there will be no scowls, no judgement, no uncomfortable "you're in my seat!" business when we all know this isn't your house. Hmm, who's house is it anyway?

This year, this Year of Mercy, at Christmas Mass when my brothers and sisters whom I see only a
Fruits of the Holy Spirit - GF2015
couple of times a year at most I will be more charitable than in years past. I am compelled to be all the more charitable, kind, joyful, patient, generous, peaceful and even gentle in light of this Year of Mercy as declared by Pope Francis. I want to take this Year of Mercy to heart and truly live out the mercy that comes from the Father. I want to experience that mercy and hopefully extend that mercy. 

Putting those spiritual and corporal works of mercy into intentional action this year I support Pope Francis' message of mercy. I know that for me to truly support this Year of Mercy I need to make changes! And I am of the mindset that those changes begin with my attitude. This Christmas in this Year of Mercy, I will be that face of Mercy for my brothers and sisters that come home to visit this Christmas. My prayer is that others around me will join me in my efforts in extending mercy to our visiting guests.


I visit this house frequently and there is plenty of room for a few more guests. I surely can give up my seat today so that maybe you will come back and sit next to me tomorrow. I am here frequently, but today you are here and I believe I speak for the owner of this house when I say, we are happy you are here!

Will you  join me in extending our brothers and sisters mercy this Christmas? Will you give up your seat willingly to another at Christmas Mass?  Will you be that face of mercy this Christmas?

SST: New Slug Bug Record!


This week has flown by and yet I find myself longing for Friday. Family matters and a statics test preoccupied my mind early in the week. Both ordeals were faced, neither with much success, but nonetheless marked off the to-do list and prayers said for the outcomes. 

In need of respite I loaded up my crew for a day of errands. I know the sheer mention of such an ordeal is enough to send some into an anxiety crisis. For this homeschooling family however, any time out of the house is a treasured time with the potential for adventure outweighing the bickering in the back seat. With the crew preoccupied in the backseat and my copilot busy tending to his copilot duties I managed to earn myself a total of eight slug bug sightings! Eight! I was so impressed with myself! The kids however did not share in my enthusiasm. I don't remember why exactly, but I think it was something like they weren't playing. Details, schmetails. The point is I won with a record breaking total of 8 slug bug sightings. YES!!

As I continue to celebrate my win I see that regardless of the burdens from the week my head was clear enough during our outing to pay attention to my surrounds. Perhaps that's the real success of this week.  


Celebrating my #smallsuccess of the week is my way of counting my blessings. I recognize His hand in my life and some days I actually get the chance to share my gratitude in written word. You can read the #smallsuccess of others at www.catholicmom.com/SmallsuccessThursday 
You are invited to join in the celebrating by sharing your #smallsuccess too!
©Copyright 2015 Gina Felter
 

@bustedhalophoto This crew! 😍 #mycrew They are whom I am...



@bustedhalophoto This crew! 😍 #mycrew They are whom I am most… http://ift.tt/216BPPR



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Giving & Being as I am


Giving my all during this season of giving and #HolySouls. This repentant sinner is seeking a holy life, but completely unaware of what that means.
In my quest I've joined in a virtual 33 day retreat in preparation for Marian consecration over at Catholicmom.com. This is a first for me. I have never done anything like this before. I often jump into things seeking the adventure and ready to enjoy the journey without fully understanding the commitment on my part. And perhaps your thinking "Marian Consecration an adventure? Really?" Well, it's new to me so sure it could be. :)
I shall find Strength in Surrender during this Consecration
I entered into this ready to re-invigorate my prayer life. Truth be told, I figured it was only 33 days so how hard can it be? I recently completed one of those silly 90 day health and fitness challenges with good results so I figured I could do this with the same zeal and fervor. Uh, I was wrong.  This is way more challenging! Like give everything and expect nothing challenging. Yeah, I know. I was totally looking forward to seeing results and even half away (okay a lot) looking forward to the benefits of such a commitment. :(
So, now as I try to refocus I find myself changing my game plan of how to see this through to the end. What is it that I have to offer and give in this Marian Consecration? What is it I truly expected in doing this consecration? I don't have any answers as yet. Perhaps by the end of the 33 days I will have a better idea of what this all means to me.  For now though, Be as You Are by Mike Posner has me deeply rockin out and considering his line "Life is better when you open your heart."
A word on the link. If you are offended by cheeks (the ones you sit on) then you may want to skip the video.  The song moves me and I feel the video itself is done in good taste visually depicting what it means to "Be as you are." Full immersion baby; be as you are!
Regarding the consecration, you are welcome to join in the conversation happening at catholicmom.com. We are using the book 33 Days to Morning Glory by Michael E. Gaitlyey, MIC.
Have you participated in a Marian Consecration before? Do you have any encouraging words or words of wisdom you can impart on this seeker? Feel free to comment below.

SST: Statistically Speaking

This weeks success comes in the form of relief. God is so merciful to me and has eased us into the season of structure and routine AKA: back to school. With my husband and I registered in college courses alongside our college student, we also homeschool a high school student, junior high student and elementary student; we are a family of students at this time. College courses got underway two weeks before the rest of the family started back to school allowing me some much needed time to get an idea of my work load. Feeling quite overwhelmed at the beginning of this week and pulling an all-nighter to complete assignments I was reconsidering my commitment for this semester. And then Wednesday happened.  Wednesday was test day for my Statistics course. Statistics AND Test in the same sentence got me all ⁀⊙﹏☉⁀.   Commence heart palpitations, increase blood pressure, shortness of breath ensues and the inevitable self doubt takes over. 
Planning ahead and dealing with the details set my mind at ease about upcoming this stressful situation.  I did all I was expected to do to ensure a smooth test day.  
 

✔ Test proctor 
 
✔ Scheduled appointment for test 
 
✔ Take pretest 
 
✔ Bomb pretest
 
✔ Attend tutor session 



Yup, things were all lined up for test day. And then I remembered I had a family with obligations and schedules as well. Oops. My test just so happened to be scheduled an hour before the first day of catechism classes of which left me no time to drive home to pick-up an eager student. How could I forget this important detail? I was one frazzled mom.
The success is that no one got hurt or forgotten. With the help of hubby and awesome kiddos all was done and done well.  I passed my test and met up with the kids at the church in time for the obligatory first day of catechism parent meeting. We even enjoyed a spontaneous dinner date with grandma.  A total win for the week in my book!


Celebrating my #smallsuccess of the week is my way of counting my blessings.  I recognize His hand in my life and some days I actually get the chance to share my gratitude in written word. You can read the #smallsuccess of others at www.catholicmom.com/SmallsuccessThursday 
You are invited to join in the celebrating and share your #smallsuccess too!

©Copyright 2014 Gina Felter

Happy Catechists Need HappySaints

Its a few days before the start of Vacation Bible school at my local parish and I signed up to lead the Bible verse discussion of which always includes a Saint of the Day.  Panic is setting in as I am only now looking over the materials provided and my mind is racing with should've, would've, could've ideas for activities. The biggest discount store chain in my little hometown is Kmart of which does not have a craft department. It's an hour drive to any major craft supply store or catholic book store for me and I just don't have the time to go shopping out of town. I scour the internet for hopefully something printable.  (Side note here, I am not on Pinterest. Gasp! I know. My reluctance to embrace pinning is a discussion for another time.) In my google scavenger hunt I came across this perfect little slice of saintly cuteness! HappySaints.com. Have you heard of them? Oh my gosh! The cutest dang chubby face saints I've come across.  The artist, Victor Teh, is really on to something with these high quality artistic renditions of the saints. He compiles his artwork into ebooks making them available 24/7/365. For a catechetical procrastinator such as myself this is a dream come true! High quality catholic digital artwork available as downloadable resources in a wide variety of formats; SCORE! 

While visiting Victor's site I came across some ideas on how to use his resources.  Raquel Rose of StoryofaRose.com put together an awesome Prayer Card and clothes pin Doll swap for her group. If you're like me this may be a very intimidating undertaking. Do not be dismayed.  Victor puts together his e-books I believe with the "not so savvy crafter" in mind. The HappySaints ebooks I have purchased included Posters, coloring pages, greeting cards, prayer cards in landscape, prayer cards in portrait, and badges.  You can make your activities as intricate as master crafter Raquel Rose or as simplistic as my not so savvy crafter (print and cut) paper badges (pictued below). These high quality ebooks are so incredibly versatile and easy to use.  I am so happy to have found HappySaints.com and love sharing the saintly cuteness!
Here are some ways I am using my HappySaints resources:
HappySaints A-Z cards Advent Calendar: This was a fun project to do with my daughter.  We painted clothespins and then clipped the HappySaints A-Z cards in random order to a piece of garland to create our own HappySaints Advent Calendar.
A photo posted by @ginafelter on
 
HappySaints Saint of the Day Turn About: For this project I used a photo carousel I had on hand and inserted HappySaints badges.  Each day we whirled the carousel about and whichever Saint landed to our front we learned about that saint. The children colored the badge while I read to them about that saint. I also handed out cut outs of the Saint for them to add to their prayer journals and keep on hand. 
 
 
I challenge you to get crafty this summer! How you will use these in your home or with your church this summer? Share your pics and ideas below in the comments or on your favorite social media outlet and be sure to tag #HappySaints. Of course a shout out to #GinaFelter is always appreciated and will get a like and share from me!

UPDATE: Now through July 1,2015 you can save 20% on the new HappySaints ebook 8! Just use code: HAPPY8 at checkout!

Iscariot by Tosca Lee - A Book Review

IscariotIscariot by Tosca Lee

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this fictitious insight into Judas Iscariot. An empathetic roller coaster into a familiar tale that had me questioning just how deep does the mercy of the Lord flow? This story makes evident that even with the best of intentions the outcomes of our actions are out of our control.



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Small Success



I have taken many strides since the holidays to reorient myself toward attaining personal goals. A couple biggies include losing weight (a never-ending battle), continue my education and do not give up on these goals. 
I am happy to share that I am down 6 pounds! I went a week or two dropping only 1 pound, of which can be discouraging, however I am determined not to let that scale define my success. After a very long stint of no progress regardless of activity levels I am excited to see some relief from the scale. Much more importantly, I know my endurance and overall strength have reached new heights.  
Check out these step stats! This week I hit 21 days of more than 10k steps! This all started with a goal of hitting 5K a day as I was down in a bit of a funk and seriously struggled to get over 3K consistently. After 5 days of consistently hitting 5k I went for 10K and haven’t looked back! I have registered for my first 5k set to take place next month. I am so excited!
I’ve shared my January highs and now I would like to know how was your January? Highs, lows or somewhere in between, they are all for His glory!