My corner of the office is festooned with little gifts from women: a tiny pewter teapot that reads “Women are like teabags; we don’t know our true strength until we are in hot water” (Eleanor Roosevelt). Another tiny teapot made of cloisonné. A hand-lettered prayer. A card engraved in red: “We will always be friends until we’re old and senile. Then we’ll be new friends!”
Quirky or serious, each thing reminds me of the woman who sent it. Most bring to mind an occasion when friendship was called for and blossomed. Women are “created to relate,” as my friend Kelly Wahlquist likes to say. And the way we relate, in small daily things as well as in crises and triumphs, pictures the relationship we are invited to have with the Lord.
I’m delighted to see a new series of journals that puts that everyday relationship into practice. “Stay Connected: Journals for Catholic Women” from Gracewatch Media blend personal stories, Scripture reflection, and prayer into simple journals. They are the brainchild of Allison Gingras, whose humor and everyday faith fuel her blog at ReconciledtoYou.com and her podcast, A Seeking Heart with Allison Gingras. She also wrote the first journal in the series. It’s called “The Gift of Invitation: 7 Ways Jesus Invites You to a Life of Grace.”
Each chapter of “The Gift of Invitation” begins with prayer and space for the reader to record what is on her heart that day. Then comes an invitation: to come and see; to take his yoke; to know God’s gifts; to forgive; and so on. The invitation is ultimately to the reader from the Lord, but Allison anchors it in her own experience and growth in understanding of the truths of our faith. Next, she offers a handful of pertinent Scripture passages for personal reflection, adds her own thoughts and offers ways to pass on what you’ve learned, then closes in prayer. Whether or not you use the book in a faith-sharing group, the net effect is that you “stay connected” and grow in your relationship to Jesus.
In the other journals, which use the same format, Deanna Bartalini encourages growth in the fruits of the Holy Spirit and Tiffany Walsh explores how spiritual reading of the Catholic classics can foster growth in wisdom.
Back to the engraved card by my desk: that friend and I expect our friendship to outlast the worst. Not only because we’ve already been through good and bad, but because our relationship is built on years of day-in, day-out, everyday time spent together. The simple things cement the bigger things together. The simple things help form a foundation. They give birth to trust.
It’s the same way with our relationship with the Lord. Having a few deep spiritual experiences is nice, but it’s the day-in, day-out contact that forms the cement. “Stay Connected” Journals aim to help form those everyday connections in simple ways as you explore your faith and grow in virtue.
Blessings on you as you enter more deeply into God’s word.
© 2018 Sarah Christmyer