Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Catholic Vitamins

Deacon Tom Fox invited Laura Pearl to talk about Erin's Ring on Catholic Vitamins Podcast eXtra 10.

We love Deacon's work at Catholic Vitamins and know you will, too!

If you haven't yet become a fan of Catholic Vitamins, this is the perfect time. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Fun and Easy Ways to Put Christ Back Into Christmas!

It is easy to get caught up in the seasonal frenzy and forget that Christ is at the center of Christmas; so here are ten great ways to put Christ back into Christmas!
  • Purchase cards that say “Merry Christmas” as part of the message; don’t settle for “Happy Holiday” cards! And if it has been a while since you’ve sent Christmas cards, make this the year you start again. Christmas cards with a personal note are a great way to put Christ back into Christmas.
  • Lots of people have service jobs that we often take for granted. Decide which person (or people) you would like to notice at Christmastime and purchase some small gift. Maybe purchase a set of pretty, padded hangers for the school bus driver or a gift card for a coffee shop for the mail carrier. Make sure a Christmas card is included with the gift!
  • This year make sure you have a nativity set for your most used room in the house. The crèche doesn’t have to be large or expensive. A small, inexpensive one put on a pedestal serves the purpose of remembering what Christmas is really all about. Be creative: use a cake pedestal as a platform! 
  • Grab a friend and make arrangements to visit a local nursing home or assisted living facility and read Twas the Night Before Christmas and then spend some time visiting with the residents. 
  • See if Christmas Carol is playing at a local community college or playhouse. Get tickets and go! 
  • Make a decision to buy less and give more this season. Record your efforts in a journal and ask God to show you other ways to serve Him through a servant’s heart. 
  • Gather a few friends and make a couple of Christmas baskets to deliver to the nightshift of a local hospital—or your fire department or police station. Remember to include a Christmas card! 
  • Volunteer to be part of your church’s Christmas cleaning and decorating crew. More importantly, be part of the cleanup crew! 
  • Offer to read Christmas books at the local library. 
  • Go ahead and make that edible gingerbread house (and don’t fret if it isn’t perfect) and then invite a friend over to enjoy it with you—or give it to someone who needs a lift.

Putting Christ back into Christmas is fun and easy—and will bring Him more fully into your life as well.

art: ID 47546013 © Gracel21 | Dreamstime.com

Friday, December 12, 2014

A Baker's Dozen: Thirteen Words Every Catholic Should Know

It makes perfect sense to call the thirteen words every Catholic must know a “Baker’s dozen.” 

Christ, after all, used such references as “yeast” and “leavening,” in his parables. So, with yeast as the foundation of baking, these thirteen words, when part of the Catholic’s every day journey, will grow and expand into a vibrant and exciting understanding of faith.

Redemptive Suffering

What do you want to hear first: the good news or the bad news?

The good news is that Jesus suffered and died for us. He bore our wounds, his stripes healed us.

The bad news is that this does not eliminate suffering in the world.

Enter the often misunderstood teaching of “redemptive suffering.”

This isn’t to say that what Christ suffered was insufficient or lacking; rather, redemptive suffering is the ability to be a co-worker of Christ’s. It is the anointed opportunity to join your own difficulties and afflictions with Christ’s for the sake of others. It is the beautiful way for you to lay your hardships at the foot of the Cross where Christ will pick them up and distribute them as gifts of love to others in need.

Offering your suffering to Christ’s is the ultimate act of service that you can offer the world in imitation of Jesus.


You’ve said it thousands of times in your life.


When you say “amen” you are saying, from the depths of your heart, that you are in complete and total agreement with whatever words or phrases came before it. It ought not be an empty word but should, instead, be offered as a verbal oath that you are in concurrence with, for instance, the proclamation of the Apostle’s Creed or the belief that the priest has just changed the bread into the body and blood of Christ.

Jesus used “amen” to begin much of what he said (Amen, Amen I say to you…). He was putting the listener on alert before he spoke so that they could get their minds and heart in alignment for what he was sharing.

“Amen” is a voluntary response to verbally accept teachings and doctrines of the faith.


Infallible is another often misunderstood word in regards to it and the pope.

Is the pope infallible? Nope. (He isn’t free from sin, either. Now wasn’t that simple?)

However, in his role as successor to Peter, and by the very nature of his office, when he teaches about the doctrine of the faith, he is guided by the Holy Spirit and in that way is infallible. Bishops who are in union with the pope are also to proclaim the truths of Christ infallibly. ("He who hears you hears me." Luke 10:16)

Infallibility is not a new teaching of the Catholic Church; it is in regards to the “solemn, official teachings on faith and morals.” The pope doesn’t tend to walk around spouting “infallible” things but, rather, issues infallible statements when doctrines of the church as called into question—which doesn’t happen too often.


For many, the word “vocation” tends to mean “priesthood” or “celibacy” or “consecrated life.” The fact is, though, that every baptized person has a vocation.

A vocation is simply a call from God.

It is the beautiful truth that God has a plan for every person and that every person is most happy when fulfilling the vocation to which he or she is called.

Marriage is a vocation.

Parenthood is a vocation.

Remaining single and chaste is a vocation.

Everyone is called to Christ in one way or another and that is a vocation. Certain vocations—or calls—are shared by all: the call to sanctity or holiness is an example of a vocation everyone shares.

Praying about guidance for the vocation to which each is called is an important part of the development of the life of a Catholic.  


The Charismatic movement received a nod of approval when Pope Francis called it a gift to the church. Simply speaking, charisms are specific gifts that each believer has been given in which to serve God and his kingdom on earth. Most people think of speaking in tongues when they think of charismatic gifts but that is but one example.
Other gifts—or charisms—include the gift of knowledge, prophecy, wisdom, helps, teaching, and healing to name just a few that have been identified and practiced.

Charisms are meant to be shared and discovering these gifts can be a beautiful part of fulfilling a vocation.  For instance, you may be called to the vocation of marriage and parenthood and find that your gifts are in teaching and helps. You flesh out your life, then, as a married parent who may be a teacher and volunteer as a server for funerals in your parish.


Mary’s role as co-redemptrix has elicited as much (if not more than) controversy as the pope’s infallibility. However, identifying her role as co-redemptrix does not lessen the full and complete redemption offered through Christ. Rather, it expands it to rightfully include the full and freely given cooperation of Christ’s mother.

Seeing Mary as co-redemptrix is easy when you take into consideration her very important, often overlooked words of John 2:5: “Do whatever he tells you.” Mary always directs to the Son; she never detracts and is never contrary.

It is human nature to turn eyes, ears and hearts towards a feminine nature as it typically tends to be nurturing and forgiving. Mary as co-redemptrix doesn’t take eyes, ears and hearts from Christ; rather, she redirects—or directs them for the first time—to her Son.

Immaculate Conception

Mary is called the “Immaculate Conception” because she was prepared by God to carry his Son in her womb. Just as God had requirements, restrictions and divine expectations for the Ark in the Old Testament, so, too, would he have had those for his Son—thus the immaculate conception of Mary. In fact, one of Mary’s many titles is “Ark of the New Covenant.”

Did God’s preparation of Mary preclude her, then, from saying no to Archangel Gabriel? No, it did not. Consider the immaculate conception—the preparation—as way that should she say yes, she was ready to carry the Christ child.


Mystics are considered great receivers of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. They represent a small portion of the Catholic Church and are given honor and respect for the teachings they bring to the faithful.

St. John of the Cross and St. Teresa of Avila are considered mystics and are also Doctors of the Church (a title bestowed on those who do, indeed, bring great knowledge to the flock as a result of their own understandings of the Truth as revealed in private revelations).

St. Hildegard of Bingen is yet another popular mystic and doctor and the church. Her own work includes chants that have been recorded far and wide, healing with gems, and even an extensive work on the physical and spiritual ailments of man.

Not all are called to mysticism and the church even warns against those not called to it to be wary of pursuing it.


The priest holds up the bread and proclaims, as he stands in for Christ, “This is my body.”

These words of consecration form the basis of transubstantiation where the bread and wine are literally—not figuratively—changed into the body and blood of Christ.

The biggest roadblock to understanding transubstantiation often lies in the misunderstanding of the words “in memory of me.” Because the current definition of “memory” is used, the belief is that the bread and wine are only symbols; but in the Catholic Church, the word “memory” is more closely related to the way Jesus would have used the word which was to, essentially, go outside of time and space and “re-live” Exodus (“remembered” during Passover—the Last Supper).

Complicated?  Not really.

Jesus wasn’t saying “do this and remember me” but was saying “do this and join me right here, right now as I’m doing this: This is my body.”


In a culture that seems to deplore authority, nothing seems to rankle more people than the fact that the Catholic Church stands in authority over the flock—the faithful and the not-so-faithful.

Scripture confirms God recognizing the authority of some people over others (Colossians 3:22, Ephesians 6:5). Of course all these men and women in positions of power are under the ultimate authority of God.

The authority of the Catholic Church rests in the Magisterium. An important work of the Magisterium is to safeguard that the tradition of the Apostolic faith does not succumb, so to speak, to the culture. While there are certain rules that may change with the times, the adherence to the faith of the Apostles of Christ as given by Christ himself, is rigorously guarded by the Magisterium and in doing so the faith that is practiced today is the same faith that was practiced thousands of years ago.


Grace is a gift of the Holy Spirit; it sanctifies and justifies the recipient. It cannot be earned, borrowed, begged for or bought. It is God’s to give and God’s to take.

Grace moves us in the ways that serve God. Being in God’s grace is being in the company of God and while we cannot do things or act a special way to get into God’s grace, we can certainly be reminded how, with a humble heart, St. Joan of Arc said to her accusers who asked her if she was in God’s grace: “If I am not, may it please God to put me in it; if I am, may it please God to keep me there.”

Sacramental Graces are those associated specifically with the Sacraments. They are special graces to continue to strive for holiness and are received through the Sacraments (Eucharist, Reconciliation etc.)


Jesus died for our sins.

Everyone sins.

No one is free from sin.

But what is sin? Exactly?

We are made in the image and likeness of God who is sinless. Sin, then, muddies that likeness; in a state of sin we look less like our Creator. This, of course, indicates that we have a potential to be very much like our Creator and should be buoyed by that knowledge.

Everyone sins but not everyone is a murderer or thief (mortal sins that turn man away from God and destroy charity of the heart).

Typically, people’s sins are venial sins. Venial sins are those that offend and wound but have not completely destroyed charity. The Catholic Church warns that constant, unrepented venial sins may have an aggregate effect that could lead to mortal sin.
Reconciliation and sincere repentance are necessary to remove the damages of all sin.


Heaven is where the constant presence of God is seen, felt and lived. It is where the holiness, perfection and joy that we are striving for on earth is fully experienced.

The Catholic Church teaches that we are here to know, love and serve God so that we can live with him in eternity—in Heaven. Earth, then, is the practice, the preparation and the taste of things to come. While on this earthly journey, God gives us a great many ways to find him and know him and serve him.

How we do that—and to what extent—is totally up to each of us. Keeping a spiritual eye on heaven and the eternal rewards helps guide us towards our heavenly destiny, if we so choose.

That is our free will.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Monday, December 8, 2014

Helping Boys Discern Their Vocation

(Excerpt is reprinted with permission from All Things Guy: A Guide to Becoming a Man that Matters)

Have you ever been in a religion class or in Church and Father asks you to think about a vocation? Do you get the feeling you want to crawl in a hole and disappear, fearing he will ask you to become a priest?

A vocation is a call from God. It’s not merely a career choice. Everyone, everyone, everyone has a calling from God!

The word vocation refers to three different things:
1.       Vocation comes with baptism. It’s a call to know, love and serve God in your life.
2.     Vocation also means, “state in life,” such as priesthood, religious life, marriage or single life.
3.     Vocation also means a personal relationship you have with Jesus. It’s you, yourself, trying to know, love, and serve God.

A Word about Discernment

A vocation is much more than choosing a career or planning your life. You have to discern what God’s plans are for you. To discern means that you pray and ask God to show you what he wants for you. Pope John Paul II explained in a paper he wrote called “On the Vocation of the Lay Faithful,” that it is a “gradual process, one that happens day by day.” So don’t look for the answer to fall from the sky. It happens day by day through discernment.

When people choose a career such as becoming a doctor, engineer, fireman, or police officer, they ask themselves questions like:

·        What will make me happy?
·        How will I make money for myself?

When a person discerns a vocation, he asks himself bigger questions like:

V  What does God want me to do?
V  What will please God most?
V  What gifts did God give me to use in life?

See the difference? The focus in discerning is God, not “me.” But the cool thing is, what God wants for you is what will make you happy!

As we mentioned before, there are several vocations, that is, “states in life” for men:

V  Priesthood and Permanent Deaconate
V  Religious Life
V  Marriage
V  Single Life

Whichever God calls you to will have its joys, sorrows, and challenges, but you will have peace and joy by using your gifts the way God intended. God loves you very much and will give you all the graces you need to answer his call.

Start asking Jesus, today,
to begin helping you
see your vocation.

Monday, December 1, 2014


Throughout history the word “light” has been used to portray goodness, charity, kindness, and salvation.

Light, after all, removes darkness—whether literally or metaphorically.

People say, “She lit up the room when she entered,” or “He is the light of my life.”

We understand the significance of those phrases.

During the Christmas season—when the amount of actual daylight is at its most limited—we are most fully aware that Christ is the light of the world. It seems rather fitting that in the long hours without light that we contemplate how He dispels the darkness in our lives. We are able to become keenly aware that He conquers the shadows that sometimes seem to overtake us. During the Christmas season we most fully realize that through the light of Christ we find our way to the Father.

A beautiful tradition during Christmastime is to light luminaries. The history behind luminaries is rich and beautiful—and varied. Shepherds marked the way to the Christ child with small fires. Centuries later, the Mexican people would gather around celebratory fires in the town square to sing and give thanks for the Lord’s birth. Elsewhere, small fires would mark the route to church for midnight Mass.

Christmas is the time to remember that, in some way, we each are called to be a light to another sojourner—to be a luminary.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Free Shipping on Mother-Daughter Christmas Package!

We are offering FREE SHIPPING 

on a limited number of 
Mother-Daughter Christmas Packages 

The package?

For mom...a copy of Elizabeth: A Holy Land Pilgrimage

For daughter...a copy of Erin's Ring (But we are sure mom will love reading this one, too!)

Order your $17.99 Mother-Daughter Package Here: 

(this offer is good for shipping to U.S. contiguous states only and one per address)
For Christmas delivery orders must be placed by December 12, 2014.
picture: ID 35001761 © Roman Dekan | Dreamstime.com

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Irish-Catholic Women Who Quietly Made A Difference

I come from a long line of strong women.

Women who overcame difficult odds and overwhelming heartache. Women who will never be known to anyone other than those in their immediate family.

The older I get, the more I think about these incredible women. I wonder if I am made of the same stock and marvel at the way they lived their lives. Faced with the difficulties they had faced, how would I have fared?

Every woman I know is able to say the same thing: Strong women are part of their history.

In that way, we all share a common thread.

I remember when the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding came out and the clever promotion that replaced the word “Greek” with “Polish” and “Italian” and any number of different heritages. It is because that thread runs through all of us. We can all relate to some of the same things when we take the time to look into our history.

That’s what Laura Pearl has given us in Erin’s RingErin’s Ring is the wonderful new book that explores the Irish-Catholic heritage in America—but we don’t have to be Irish to love, enjoy and relate to the story of perseverance and faith.

Pearl’s nod to the strong Irish women who worked in the mills of Dover, New Hampshire is a nod to all women who have overcome the most difficult of circumstances: those in my family and in yours.

The way Pearl has woven the story of these immigrant women into the modern day story of 12 year old Molly and Theresa is quite extraordinary and will speak to the 12 year old in each of us! Erin’sRing is a wonderfully warm, endearing read that will capture the hearts of many and has already captured the hearts of such popular writers as Nancy Carabio Belanger who says of Erin’s Ring, “This wholesome novel had me shed tears of sadness and joy, and these brave young Irish-Catholic women from different generations drew me in. Lovingly and tenderly written, Erin's Ring is a story of true friendship, sacrificial love, and above all, the God Who is never bound by time or space.”

Erin’s Ring is now available and really is the perfect read for the snowy winter days ahead!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

#1 New Release in Recovery by Adult Children of Alcoholics

Little Girl Lost, Little Girl Found is a fictional account of a woman’s journey of recovery and is the #1 New Release in Recovery by Adult Children of Alcoholics on Amazon.

Written by Helen A. Scieszka, Ph.D., affectionately known as "Dr. Helen," Little GirlLost, Little Girl Found is the first book in a trilogy which gently and lovingly approaches the journey of self-discovery and healing. Dr. Helen has degrees in Clinical Psychology and a special master’s level certification in Theology. Once retiring from her careers as an advertising executive, therapist, college professor, parish Pastoral Associate and diocesan Married and Family life director she was finally able to focus on her lifetime love of writing with the focus on using fiction as a tool for healing.

Little Girl Lost,Little Girl Found is highly recommended reading for all adults looking for inspirational fiction and is particularly valuable to adults seeking to heal wounds of the past and embrace the future. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Don't Let This Upcoming Advent Slip By!

Did you ever notice that the Advent season seems to come and go in the blink of an eye? All of a sudden you find yourself at Christmas Mass wondering how your time to prepare for Christ so easily slipped through your fingers.

Darn! You had promised yourself that this Advent would be different. You wouldn’t be caught by surprise, yet again! You bought Advent prayer books and an Advent wreath kit. You had great intentions to make this Advent season very different from last.

However, that doesn’t have to be the case. You can make the conscious choice—right here, right now—to stop in your busy tracks and embrace the coming season of Advent; and its purpose.

Advent is a season of preparing.

If you have ever entertained guests, or even made the slightest effort to get ready for any company, you will see how those experiences lend themselves well to your own groundwork this Advent to invite Christ to dwell within your heart—and thus truly be ready for His second coming.

1.      Prepare room at the Inn: Your heart is where Christ wishes to dwell and Advent is the perfect time to make room in it for His presence. If your heart is filled with unforgiveness, it has no room for Christ. Begin Advent by an Examination of Conscience wherein you ask your Heavenly Father to reveal to you any unforgiveness that exists in your heart. Remember that as God has forgiven you, you are also asked to forgive others.
2.      Clean out the cobwebs: After an Examination of Conscience where you ask God to reveal any unforgiveness that you are holding, it is important to clean out the vestiges of cobwebs that may still be lurking in the dark corners of your heart. This means that you should make a point of getting to Confession during Advent. Mark your calendar now! See it as one of the most important things you will do this Advent. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is an important part of preparing your heart for Jesus; this is because the priest acts in the person of Christ in helping you identify the cobwebs that you may not be seeing on your own—typically those ones that have been hanging on for so long they no longer get your attention.
3.      Hang new curtains: The room of your heart is now ready: unforgiveness and cobwebs have been cleared out. Now it is time to hang new curtains! Many of us fall into a rut in our daily lives and forget how to live in joy. You are preparing for Christ’s indwelling and He abides best in those who have joy in their hearts. So throw out the old curtains of fear and despair and exhaustion and hang new curtains of hope and joy and anticipation.
4.      Get out the fine china and set the table: Company is on its way! We aren’t doubtfully thinking that maybe He’s going to drop by and thus making only superficial efforts to get ready. We are certain in our belief of His arrival and every cell in our body joyfully shouts, “He’s on His way!” This is the time we get the fine china out of the cupboard—our attitude is one of enthusiastic expectation. Our hearts pound in anticipation of His presence. Our fine china goes so well with our new curtains!
5.      Open the front door: Whenever we have company in our home, after all the preparation is complete, we open our front door and wait expectantly on our couch. We can see through the glass screen door as our company approaches. It is a time of quiet for us—all the work is finished and we are ready. So in preparing our hearts for Christ this Advent, the last step after all the prep work is to simply “be.” In this state of “be-ing” we don’t question how time slipped through our fingers; we don’t worry if there was more we should have done. We’ve been good and faithful servants and are ready for Christ.

May your heart be made ready for Christ and may your upcoming Advent season be a blessed one!

Monday, November 10, 2014

The Great Sconce Standoff of 2014

The sconces that hung above the fireplace were a bit medieval-looking. Sort of blackened silver and with ornate, swirly designs on the plating that was attached to the wall, they really needed to go. I’m not exactly sure what I was thinking when I bought them but since my husband wasn’t keen on them from the beginning—and I was the one who insisted they were “perfect”—well, I had to live with them.

Preparing for the painting of the living room was, finally, the perfect time for them to be replaced and for me to keep my deep dark secret about the mistake of purchasing them in the first place.


So while we moved furniture out of the way and into the center of the room to get covered in drop cloths, my husband also removed the sconces from the wall. He was happy to get rid of them—but probably not as happy as was I! Now, instead of ugly sconces, the living room had, as its focal point, two 5” round holes with a bit of insulation sticking out and some wires that had little plastic caps on the end.

I quickly went about locating replacement sconces—now more discerning about my choice and understanding of the impact they would have in the room. After a few days I found (once again) the “perfect” sconces. (But these ones really were with their pretty white shades and a few carefully-placed dangling crystals.) I sent the link to my hubby with the subject line “please order asap.” After all, the room was just days away from being finished and I wanted to have the sconces at the ready for installation.

Every day I gently asked, “Did you order the sconces?”

“No. Not yet. Remind me tomorrow,” would be hubby’s beleaguered response.

This went on for weeks—and weeks. The room was painted and the furniture back in order. The holidays were fast approaching and still I had no sconces. The gaping holes in the walls mocked me with every passing day. I’m pretty sure they became larger as time wore on—for sure the faceless holes became more irritating. But I wasn’t going to give in. The Great Sconce Standoff of 2014 was underway and I was up to the challenge.

(I would have ordered them myself but I’ve found over the years that when I order items from the Internet, my husband doesn’t appreciate the little torn piece of paper with the date and amount I’ve handwritten as my idea of a receipt so I’m okay with him being in charge of Internet ordering—and now it was just a matter of principle: who would win the Great Sconce Standoff of 2014?)

Each inquiry from me about the sconces became quieter, more subdued, more “I don’t care if you don’t care.”

Here’s the problem with that tactic: I actually cared and he really, truly didn’t!

A month into the Great Sconce Standoff of 2014 I had a serious dilemma. Two increasingly large black holes were overtaking my living room and I had to somehow get my husband to order sconces. There was no wiggle room in the war that waged between us in that I’m positive that he didn’t even notice the holes while I was becoming fixated on them—obsessed even.

How to get out of the standoff, save face, and get sconces became my daily goal.

I tried this maneuver: I said to him, incredibly nonchalantly, “You can go ahead and put the old sconces back up.” I thought this artful twist would push him to order the scones.

Imagine my horror when he said, “Okay.”

OKAY?! Now I knew that I was in trouble.

Not only was I going to lose the Great Sconce Standoff but I was going to be subjected to the reminder everyday as I looked at the medieval sconces that were going back up. I had to think quickly! I had to recover without him knowing that he almost won!

“Although I don’t want to do that to you. I know you don’t like them,” was my clever comeback.

Three decades of marriage has taught my husband well so his response, while pleasing, was frustrating as hell, “I know you like them so they will be fine with me.”


Now it was likely going to turn into a new standoff: who was going to be the better, selfless spouse!

Was this ever going to end? I wondered.

Then it hit me. “I know you are busy. Let me order them because I think with the newly painted room, new sconces will be much better. I know you are busy so I don’t mind ordering them.”

That did it. The idea of getting a receipt that was just a scrap piece of paper with the date and amount handwritten on it was more than he could take. I found his weak spot and am unashamed that I used it! That day he ordered the scones and a few days later they arrived.

I’m not proud of what I’ve done, but it was necessary. Someone had to lose the Great Sconce Standoff of 2014—and it wasn’t going to be me…

Friday, November 7, 2014

Beat Stress Before it Beats You!

The Christmas season—which ought to be one of peace and good cheer—is often everything other than tranquility and happiness. For many people (women especially), family events, shopping, and fractured relationships bring stress and steal the joy of Christmas.

Before the stress sets in, consider these few tips to take into the Christmas season so that this year it will truly be a season of harmony, peace and pleasure.

1.     Remember that Christmas is about the celebration of the birth of Christ; see others through His eyes. If you are in the process of forgiving someone, don’t feel you’ve failed if this Christmas you aren’t jumping up and down with joy to see that person. Forgiveness is a process. Take it one step at a time—and be okay with that.

2.     The physiological aspect of stress can be countered by breathing. That’s right—breathe this Christmas season! Breathe deep. Studies show that when we are stressed we don’t breathe deeply and thus only increase the way our bodies are succumbing to stress. Become conscious of your breathing during the Christmas season and make sure to take time to breathe deep and relax.

3.     Drink plenty of water. Water is a great part of staying physically healthy—which is a great way to combat stress. Water washes your body of toxins and keeps your “parts” in good order. Green tea is also a good choice. The point is: make sure that you are staying hydrated as this will help keep you feeling physically well.

4.     Invite the Holy Spirit into your life. Don’t pick up the phone or get in the car without asking the Holy Spirit to be part of whatever it is you are doing. Heading over to your in-law’s or company party? Breathe deep and ask the Holy Spirit to be part of the experience with you. This will allow you to rest in the spirit and see everyone through Christ’s eyes and speak words of love. Inviting the Holy Spirit into whatever you happen to be doing will also help you hear the words of others with kindness and charity. That friend who always seems to throw verbal zingers your way will be heard differently when you listen with the Holy Spirit in you.

5.     Finally, keep Christmas simple. The biggest gift has already been purchased: Your Salvation through Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection. Use this Christmas season as a time for personal relationships—more reflective of the one you have with Christ or are developing with Christ. The Christmas presents you give shouldn’t be bought in a frenzy or in haste. Let them become more special, more personal and more fun this year.

Christmas is about the birth of Christ.

It is a time of peace and goodwill. It is a time of simplicity.

All the Black Friday deals in the world cannot beat the deal of a Savior being born. So as the stores ramp up their promotions and the hype increases everywhere that you are connected, take a step back, breathe deep, and rejoice in the birth of Christ in a purposeful, peaceful way.