faith


Pray to Forgive {Gospel of Happiness}

My favorite section in Dr. Christopher Kaczor’s new book, The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology, is the chapter on The Way of Prayer. (Giveaway ends today at Midnight!)

I’ve been thinking a lot about Prayer, especially within the last year or so as I’ve been making more of an effort to really PRAY. Like for real.

I love how Dr. Kaczor starts the chapter on Prayer,

One way to love God and neighbor is through prayer. In raising our mind and heart to God in payer, we join ourselves to God’s goodwill for all; we appreciate the Divine goodness, truth, and majesty; and we become unified with Gods’ mind and will. Both individual prayer as well as communal prayer are beneficial.

In his research, Dr. Kaczor discovered some amazing things about Prayer and how it “intersects” with positive psychology and happiness. In this chapter (Chapter Three), he uses the Lord’s Prayer of the Our Father to break down the different ways Prayer works in our lives and in every situation to bring us to happiness.

In that prayer, we acknowledge our need and dependence on God for all things and we offer him our gratitude for all that we have. The hardest-hitting part of the Our Father is the part on Forgiveness. 

I always find it easier to say, “forgive us our trespasses,” but then I sort of gloss over the part about, “as we forgive others who trespass against us.”

I want to be forgiven but I don’t always want to or know how to forgive.

It’s embarrassing and awkward when we have to ask someone to forgive us. It means I have to accept that I made a mistake – I AM NOT PERFECT. And then I have to tell that to someone else. Ug.

Recently, one of our son’s who shall remain nameless for now, ran his bike into our neighbor’s new garage door and left scratches and a small dent. For some reason, he didn’t tell us about it. Hmm, I wonder why.

Our neighbor’s son knew about it though and informed his father and his father informed us. [Hold head in shame.]

We talked with our son about it and he agreed he’d go over there and personally apologize and offer to do work for them to make up for the damages.

He agonized over this. And, for those of you know this son of ours, this was a huge deal for him to have to do this. But, he did it. He walked over there with me, knocked on the door and said in his most sincere and quiet voice,

I’m sorry for running into your garage door.

and then –

Can I do some work for you?

I almost cried seeing how hard it was for him to do this but I was also so proud that he did do it despite his fear.

Immediately, our very kind and merciful neighbors said what he needed to hear,

It’s ok. I FORGIVE YOU.

She gave him a high-five (knowing he wouldn’t like a hug) and then –

he smiled.

And went and played again with his friends. He could breathe again knowing that not only had he been forgiven, but he had also reconciled his relationship with our neighbors. (Well that will come with the work he’ll do for them too.)

Dr. Kaczor rightly notes that,

Without long-term relationships, deep human happiness is impossible. Since human beings misunderstand, harm, and fail each other frequently, if we can’t forgive, relationships will not last.

But since asking for forgiveness, and forgiving others is so difficult, how do we do it?

PRAYER. 

Jesus told his disciples, ‘love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you. (Matthew 5:44).’ Contemporary research has shown the value of this advice for reducing aggression. One study found that ‘provoked participants who prayed for the person who angered them were less aggressive toward that person who angered them.’

If you are having a hard time forgiving someone, or asking someone to forgive you, PRAY. PRAY. PRAY. 

Jesus, I give this to you. I ask you to bless this person I have hurt, or this person that has hurt me. Bless us both and help us reconcile our differences so that we may be re-united through you, Christ Jesus, and regain our peace and happiness in You once again. 

 


The Gospel of Happiness {Book Review & GIVEAWAY!} 5

For the next Simplemama Book Review Hangout and Podcast, Thanks to Image Catholic Books, I had the honor of reading Dr. Christopher Kaczor’s newest book –

The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology

 

The Gospel of Happiness is a fascinating and exciting concept that combines the psychology of happiness with the ideals and teachings of a authentic Christian life. 

I really liked Dr. Kaczor’s book, the name itself immediately caught my attention and I felt privileged to get to Hang out with Dr. Kaczor (like Razor) and chat with him about this idea of Happiness and how it plays out in a lived and practiced Christian life.

Dr. Kaczor a professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University in L.A. California, which, coincidentally is where one my brothers also works! Dr. Kaczor’s research on issues of ethics, philosophy, and religion has been in several news publications and radio programs and has authored over a dozen books.

You can watch our interview here – 

Or you can listen to it here –

And, if you really want to,  you can also read the interview questions and answers here.

With all that said and done, I will share a few notes from our interview below but I do hope you get to listen/watch/read in his own words. I also highlighted something on every page of his book that I hope to go back and share. For now, here are some highlights from the interview.


Dr. Kaczor, can you give us a brief summary of what this book is about?

In this book, I am trying to answer important questions about how to be happier, including: What is true happiness? How can you experience it? And can you live it wholeheartedly in your day-to-day life? Every thoughtful person asks such questions. Thoughtful Christians ask a few more questions such as, Can Christian practices enhance happiness? If so, how? And does Christianity provide happiness in a way that other paths, like psychology, cannot?

Focusing on empirical findings in positive psychology that point to the wisdom of many Christian practices and teachings, I try to provide not only practical suggestions on how to become happier in everyday life but provides insight on how to deepen Christian practice and increase love of God and neighbor in new and bold ways.

In your experience, and as you share in The Gospel of Happiness, what are the main ways Faith works together with Positive Psychology to help people feel happy?

One way Christian faith and positive psychology work together is by showing false ways to happiness.  Unless we are so poor we lack the basic necessities, increases in money do will not make us happier.  What will? Both Christian faith and positive psychology teach that forgiving other people makes us happier.  Both Christian faith and positive psychology teach that practicing gratitude and thanksgiving makes us happier. Both Christian faith and positive psychology teach that serving other people makes us happier than just ‘having fun.’ Both Christian faith and positive psychology teach that we can strengthen our willpower through doing small acts of self-denial.  The overlap of Christian faith and positive psychology is huge.

What do you say to those who deduce the positive effects of Prayer and the Virtues to merely a psychological benefit without any real validity to a belief in God?  “Oh, people just pray or say they believe in a God because it makes them feel happy?” Is it just an emotional state of being?

Some people used to say that religion was false because it made people unhappy.  The idea was that religion made people miserable and kept them in misery by promising them heaven later. Now some people are saying that religion is false because it makes people happy.  Both views, I think, are mistake because whether are belief makes people more happy or less happy is irrelevant to whether or not the belief is true.  

Part of happiness, I believe, is positive emotion, and prayer is linked to positive emotion as well as relieving negative emotion.  The fact does not undermine belief in God’s existence. Indeed, one would expect a loving God to link positive benefits to us with communicating with the Divine.

Anything else you’d like to add?

Jesus came so that we might have life and have it in its fullness.  In other words, the revelation of God in Christ is for our benefit and flourishing.  The Gospel is good news, and good news for human beings is always connected to happiness.  Happiness, of course, is defined in many ways, and I have explored the understanding of happiness proposed by Martin Seligman, the founding father of positive psychology.  He defines happiness by the acronym PERMA: positive emotion, relationships, meaning understood as making a contribution to others, and achievement of goals.  I suggest that the Christian way of life enhances positive emotion, engagement with life, relationships with others, meaning, and achievement. Indeed, Christian belief and practice transcends the happiness offered by positive psychology.  That is good news indeed.


I hope everyone gets a chance to read Dr. Kaczor’s The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology and learn how practicing your Christian Faith is not only spiritually good for you but also psychologically healthy and will lead not only to your temporal happiness here but also to your eternal happiness.

The Gospel of Happiness: Rediscover Your Faith Through Spiritual Practice and Positive Psychology releases today, September 8! You can find it right now on Amazon


And! If you’ve read through this far you get a prize – or at least a chance for one.

Thanks to Image Catholic Books and Dr. Kaczor’s generosity, I’ve teamed up with them to offer a GIVEAWAY for one The Gospel of Happiness book!

Enter the Giveaway below and maybe you’ll be the winner!

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{Amazon sends me a cute little gift card when you make any Amazon purchases via the affiliate links on this site – Thank you!}


OBGYN Doctor Embraces Natural Family Planning, says no to Contraception 2

I have an amazing story I want to share with everyone!

A friend of mine, who is an OBGYN doctor, recently embraced Natural Family Planning into her practice and marriage and decided to stop prescribing contraception or perform elective sterilizations.

Sadly, as a result, she was terminated from her practice and is now discerning what the next step is.

Until then, she would like to share her story of how she came to realize the damaging effects of contraception and the benefits of Natural Family Planning.

Go here to read her story which she has given me permission to publish and for others to share so they can be inspired and encouraged as well.

What inspires me every day is when I reach out to women and can minister to them about the beauty of who they are.

 

Update:

I want to add that by sharing this story, it is not my intention to cast any judgment on anyone or stir up any viscous debates about contraception and all that. Only meanie pants do things like that.

It is something I am obviously interested in and passionate about but I also understand everyone has different opinions, perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences so I did not share this story with the intention of making anyone feel ashamed or judged or ridiculed and neither does Dr. Cox.

So I shared this story for those who might find it interesting and inspiring in their own lives. I’d love to help answer questions about NFP for those who are genuinely interested but I’d rather not engage in any type of ugly debates. I’m too old and sleep-deprived for that and I’d rather engage in meaningful and respectful conversations with people.

Besides, my kids are hungry and I’m hungry so anything I’d say at this point would not be very helpful. Thanks for understanding!


Minimize the Mess Winner and Broken Gods Next

Thank you to all who entered the Give Away for Rachel Kratz book, Minimize the Mess: A Mother’s Guide to Simplifying Your Home! I hope you enjoyed either watching or listening to our Hang Out together on the new Simplemama Podcast.  

Congratulations to Laura!

I hope you enjoy Rachel’s book as much as I did and are ready to “Minimize the Mess” around you.

You can find Minimize the Mess: A Mother’s Guide to Simplifying Your Home on Amazon and on Rachel’s blog – EfficientMomma.com


Up next in my growing line of upcoming book reviews is

Broken Gods: Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart by Dr. Gregory Popcack.

I had the amazing privilege to Hang Out with Dr. Popcak Monday morning and chat about his book , about our divine longings and about how to allow God to heal our brokenness so we can become the perfect “gods” God originally designed us to be.

I’ll post that Hang Out on the Simplemama YouTube Channel and include an audio file of it on the Simplemama Podcast. I’m also hosting a Give Away with all of that coming up on June 4th so stay tuned, you really, really want to hear and read this one!!

God loves you so much that not only has he made you in his image, but he was born, lived, suffered, died, and rose again so that you might know how much you are worth to him. And if that wasn’t enough, he loves you so much that he wants to make you a god – a being who is perfect and immortal and intimately united to God so that you can spend all of eternity being loved by him. – Dr. Gregory Popcack

 


My own 20 minutes in Heaven

For #ThankANun day last Tuesday I decided to do more than just fill up social newsfeeds with hashtags and actually do what John Schlimm hoped people would do on that day – aside from buying his book of course. I decided to sit down and write a real thank you card to the “Nuns” who had played such a special role in my spiritual formation in high school.

As I wrote the words of thanks I realized there was no way I could fit everything I would want to tell them on this 4×6 piece of pretty cardstock. These Sisters gave up their lives to promote a deeper devotion to Christ through His beautiful Mother as school teachers.

So I decided I’d hand deliver the note with a freshly pressed copy of  John’s  Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship that Answered Life’s Greatest Questions.

Mother Mary Magdalene was in a meeting when I popped by so I left the note and card with Sr. Cecilia Marie who was still as full of joy and kindness as ever. I asked if we could take a picture together and she was eagerly amused by the notion of being in her first ever “selfie” picture.

Later that day, after a long afternoon and after school pick up time, the phone rang – it was Mother Mary Magdalene!

She’d called to thank me for the card and book but then she stayed on the line and continued to ask how I was, how’s the family, and my husband. It wasn’t just small talk, she really wanted to know. We talked for a good 15 – 20 minutes and the whole time I felt as if I was in my own “20 minutes in Heaven”. It was so wonderful, like catching up with an old friend.

As I listened to her calm and familiar voice, I picked up the undertones of the small still voice of the Spirit. Like in my high school years, He’d chosen her as His messenger of peace and trust.

At some point in the conversation, I don’t know why, but I felt a twinge of longing. Longing for her somewhat cloistered life away from too much technology or other “luxuries” that really just end up detracting. Longing for a consistent and scheduled prayer life. Longing for a clear and direct purpose and mission like they have – teach the Gospel and increase a devotion to Jesus through the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

I chuckled a little and admitted this last one to her, “Sister – I mean Mother – sometimes I wish my life had a clearer and more specific purpose like you Sisters do.”

“Oh but, Erika, you are a consecrated woman!” She exclaimed with the typical gusto that earned her the endearing nickname, “Turbo Nun”.

“You are a wife, and a mother!!” She continued on with an infectious zeal.

“What you do for your children, and your husband, is your mission. And, and – by golly – those children are going to grow up to sing God’s praises in ETERNITY one day because of your prayers and love for them.” 

I had to swallow back a few tears as she went on with an enthusiasm that could only be propelled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

As she spoke, I felt as if we were speaking Mother-to-Daughter, she, like my own mom, encouraging me and reminding me of my purpose and abilities.

As I’d listened to her speak of all the details she’s working on for a new Novitiate House and what she hopes for her community and for her “daughters”, I also felt a strong mother-to-mother connection. We understood each other in a way we never could have before. We both knew the amazing responsibility that comes with being a leader of a household. We both knew the joys and struggles of watching and helping those in our charge as they grow and develop into who God created them to be. No doubt, we’d both learned many lessons in trust and letting go along the way.

I’m so glad I had that chance to speak with her like that.  Her words invigorated me and my passion for my vocation – my marriage  and family. I’ll try to carry her zeal and excitement with me throughout the little and big details of my days.

 

If you’d like to read the book that inspired me to thank these beautiful Sisters which led to that Spirit-imbibed conversation, I suggest you check out John Schlimm’s Five Years in Heaven: The Unlikely Friendship that Answered Life’s Greatest Questions.  And! There’s still one more day left today for the Giveaway HERE for his book so be sure to enter before 11:59 PM today 5/11.

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