Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Back By Popular Demand

"Innovative, insightful, practical, and inspiring! A great gift for teens." +Ronald P. Herzog Diocesan Bishop of Alexandria, Louisiana 

"If the first few moments of the day set the tone and mood for the rest of the day, then Catherine Brown's words will fill you with energy, optimism, and joy. This work will make you excited to be alive and inspire you to move through the day with greater confidence. A must for anyone who desires to make a difference and live each day to the fullest." B. David Brooks, Pastor Calvary Baptist Church, Alexandria, Louisiana 

"Putting teens in touch with our God is a remarkable work today! I believe Daily Direction for Teenz is an opportunity for such moments to happen." Sr. Ann Lacour, MSC, Superintendent of Catholic Schools Diocese of Alexandria 

Daily Direction for Teenz is back by popular demand so if you are looking for a fun daily devotional for your teen or tween, you won't want to miss this one!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Could That Best-Seller be Bad for Your Health?

There’s growing evidence to support the idea that fiction books can be good or bad for you. It’s a drum I’ve been beating on for a very long time.

I begin supporting my own belief about this by going directly to Scripture: Brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable--if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things (Philippians 4:8).

Books, after all, cause us to think of things. Whatever fills the pages ultimately fills our mind.

But this doesn’t mean that books ought to be boring. I’m not interested in reading boring books—or publishing them either!

This directive in Scripture shouldn’t translate into fiction books that don’t capture our interest and don't take us on an adventure.

I was invited on Catholic television where I was asked to talk about the newest trend in YA fiction (young adult fiction): the fastest growing audience of YA books is adults! This is because adults love the adventure, characters and even intrigue found in a cleverly crafted YA book—and they like the way they feel when they are done reading it.

So I wasn’t surprised when I recently read in the book Hildegard of Bingen’s Medicine that “It is detrimental for the nerves if persons are always reading new thrillers, or the newest bestsellers.” It goes on to say how the nerves can, however, benefit from reading excellent books and even recommends re-reading them.

I immediately thought of a few amazing fiction books that I had planned on re-reading this fall and now feel even more excited about doing so:

1.     The Green Coat byRosemary McDunn. Love this book!
2.     The Gate by NancyCarabio Belanger. Easily a classic!
3.     Finding Grace byLaura Pearl. I plan on joining her 2015 online book club for the book.

Of course, these are also the reasons that we ought to immerse our tweens and teens in great fiction as well—and these books are a perfect start!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Three Prayers God Always Says "Yes!" To...

You prayed for a job promotion and didn’t get it; then you found a leak in the roof of your home.

You prayed for a cure for your toothache and instead found out that your hours at work were cut.

You prayed for a way to pay for new tires on your car yet nothing materialized; but you did find out your sister is getting divorced.

It seems as though God wasn’t just saying “no” to your prayers but was kicking it up a notch as well.

Confused, you go back to Scripture with all its rich promises and try to find answers to your frustrating prayer life.

While countless Scripture verses can be used to support a prayer life seeking “abundance”, very few believers actually experience these promises in a significant way. When that is the case, it is best to let go of the prayers of request from the “Cosmic Catalogue” and approach God with prayers to which he always gives a resounding yes.

Three particular prayers that God always says yes to are the perfect foundation for a successful, bountiful prayer life.

The very best prayer to get you back on track with God is to pray for humility. Not humiliation but humility; the sort of understanding of self that made men like Moses a friend to God. Not false humility either; but the real honest-to-goodness humility that comes from the truth that you have a creator who has loved you into existence. When you pray for this type of humility, you start walking hand-in-hand with God and new ways to love him will open to you—usually through service to others!

Another sure-fire way to hear God say yes to your prayers is to pray for a renewed heart. Ask God for a heart that will allow you to feel the sort of love he has for his creations. Pray that every day your renewed heart is open to learning how to love more abundantly and see with the eyes of your heart.

A renewed heart allows you to sincerely bless whoever got that promotion you so very much wanted; it transforms your life much more than you could ever imagine. It uplifts you and energizes you; it blesses you in untold ways.

Pray that you will be able to forgive those who have hurt you. This is the third prayer that God always says yes to: God will intimately help you in your desire to forgive someone—even if it happens in layers over time. The physical benefits of forgiveness almost always outweigh the spiritual benefits which is why it is the cornerstone of just about every faith and most certainly the Christian faith as we are all called to forgive those who have trespassed against us just as we have been forgiven…

Those three prayers that God always says yes to (humility, a renewed heart, and forgiving someone) are the perfect trinity of prayers to put you back on track with God. They will re-focus your prayer life and reconnect you to the Lord. They create the ideal building blocks for a future prayer life that will bring you in direct contact with the miracles of heaven.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Happy New Year!

It seems to makes perfect sense, especially to me—a person who loves autumn!—to find the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashana, during autumn. Rosh Hashana is the New Year which begins with a ten day period of prayer, self-examination, and desire to repent and return to God. These ten days end with Yom Kippur (this year it is at sundown on October 3rd) which is the holiest day for Jews; it is the day in which requests are made to be written in the Book of Life.

Part of the Rosh Hashana celebrations will include sounding the shofar and eating foods that are rich in symbolism as well as flavor! The significance of the shofar is found throughout Scripture but the specific reason for the sound of it during Rosh Hashana is found in Leviticus 23:23-25: The Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites: On the first day of the seventh month you shall keep a Sabbath rest, with a sacred assembly and with the trumpet blasts as a reminder; you shall then do no sort of work, and you shall offer an oblations to the Lord.”

The foods eaten during Rosh Hashana include round challah (bread) which symbolizes the circle of life. A real favorite—and one that has special meaning to me—is eating apples dipped in honey. While this is to symbolize the desire for a blessed and “sweet” year ahead, it more subtly refers back to a line in the Song of Songs 8:6 (Under the apple tree I awakened you). The Song of Songs, written by King Solomon, is often said to be the most beautiful love poem ever written. At its very center is the love that God has for His people. The reason that it is called upon through the consumption of apples dipped in honey during Rosh Hashana is to remind God of that great love. Soften His heart, so to speak. The Jews hope to stir up God’s great mercy by reminding Him of His love for them as written about in Solomon’s poetic tome.

The reason I say it is a favorite of mine is because the Song of Songs figures significantly in my fiction book Miriam. I love exploring and sharing the Jewish roots of the Catholic faith in my own work; I feel a great indebtedness to the Jewish people for having preserved the love and worship of the one true God throughout their history as it has been to our great benefit and salvation that they have done so. Weaving the Jewish roots of our faith through my different stories allows me to honor the People of the Book and marvel at how we are so intimately connected to them.

Please join me in wishing our Jewish brothers and sisters a “Happy New Year” and consider enjoying an apple dipped in honey to celebrate with them in spirit!

…and if you would like to try your hand at making round challah, here is a video that might help inspire and guide you:

Friday, September 19, 2014

Grace-Filled Tuesdays

I'm so happy to announce that Laura Pearl (author Finding Grace and upcoming Erin's Ring) is going to be offering an online book club this winter!

Right about now, people are settling into their routines and especially in the midwest we are feeling the beauty of autumn begin to descend. Some trees are changing colors and many of us are ready to settle in with a good book at the ready.

Honestly, nothing is better to do during the shorter days where there is a bit of time now and again than to turn to a great read and Laura's book, Finding Grace, is just such a read. It is a book that takes you deep into the story (Just read any of the great Amazon reviews!) and brings you out the other end incredibly satisfied.

So if you are looking for something that is extra fun, consider reading Finding Grace this fall and joining Laura for her online bookclub come early 2015 for Grace-Filled Tuesdays!

Right now Finding Grace is available on Kindle for just $4.99 and you can follow Laura's blog to keep updated about her online bookclub.

Finding Grace has received the Catholic Writer's Guild Seal of Approval so you can be assured it is good for you and good for your teen daughters, too!

God bless!