Finding Peace On The Shore

And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A gale arose on the lake, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, ‘Lord, save us! We are perishing!’ and he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid, you of little faith?’ Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, ‘What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?’   Matthew 8:23-27

 As I sat there on the rocks along Lake Superior during a recent family trip to the North Shore, I found an unexpected peace. Amid the occasional shout from one child or another as they found the “perfect” rock or one shaped like a heart, I still found it. The waves slowly lapped against the rocks and I took a deep breath. I began to realize that I had been holding my breath and waiting for relief for quite a while. If it wasn’t one thing, it was another, this summer. While there were so many great days of sweet and blissful memories, there were many others that made my summer seas full of tumult and difficulty. The heaviness in my chest sighed as I sat there with hardly a care in the world, even if it only lasted a short time. I may have found more therapy in those minutes–as I just stopped and listened–than I have in quite a while.

We watched a ship on the horizon making its way to the port. It’s one of our favorite activities every time we visit Duluth, but never has it struck me as profoundly as this time around. I found more symbolism to my recent days and weeks in that ship, the breaking waters, the water hitting the rocks and even in the travel of a single rock ripple than I could have ever searched for. The mightiness of the ship on the waters called to mind the greatness of God, His goodness and His strength even in the great waters of life. My awareness of the calm even as the waves came into shore called to mind that even as the chaos of life swirls around, there is beauty, simplicity and calm even if only on the smallest shore of my life.

Although I may have been carrying around a full load of burdens over recent months, as I tossed even the smallest pebble into the great lake, it brought about a tranquility. The fresh breeze cleansed my soul as I whispered a simple prayer of gratitude for my faith in a God who never left me stranded. As we embark on another changing of seasons and these summer days fade to autumn, may the splendor of God’s creation stir a place within us that reminds us of his faithfulness and fills us with gratitude.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

 

Summer Solace In Scripture

Last month, I cracked open my new Bible and journal and grabbed my favorite colored pens. I was about to embark on a newly launched scripture study for Catholic women and, with all my proper tools in hand, I was ready.

I was also spiritually ready. When I purchased the study journal weeks prior to the scripture study beginning date, I had no idea how in need I was to have my dryness and thirst quenched by the Word.

What I knew was that I desired to read more of the bible, to underline, highlight and memorize the passages, but in recent years my life season hadn’t brought me to much scripture beyond the daily readings. I needed to open those pages and prayerfully read the words while my heart and mind were truly ready to hear them.

God knew that in these weeks, while facing life’s summer chaos and busyness along with other life challenges, I would come to rely on the wisdom of His Word and the insight of the ladies who contributed to writing the journal. Every day I’ve added the short scripture passages, reflections to think upon and the short journal time to my morning prayer. I’m happy that I jumped on a Catholic bandwagon of women who led me to the Consider the Lilies scripture study.

All in His due season, things come to fruition. God knew that this six weeks of reading, praying and journaling would be the balm to my soul, the water to wet the dry earth, the restfulness and encouragement for this summer journey.

I just re-read the ‘Welcome’ page at the beginning of the journal this morning. Let me share a bit of it with you:

‘Maybe this is a hard season in your life-you’re overwhelmed by the burdens weighing you down, the crosses He’s asked you to carry. This study is for you…Or maybe you’re in a sweet spot. Life is really rather good right now. You’re not feeling any particular strain…This study is for you, too….In it, you find the words you need to console a friend, to empathize with the people around you who are suffering…This study makes you a better friend to the woman next to you, to the growing child who aches, to the spouse who despairs….This study is for all of us. We’re all in it together.’

 I’ll be sad when these six weeks are over, but I have more confidence in opening up my Bible and finding the right words. I’ll be eager to start the next study set to begin in the fall. I invite you to join me. Maybe you’re looking for a new way to soak in scripture and share the journey with other women. Now may be the time that God has prepared the soil and opened your heart eager for His Word.

Take the next step and explore Take Up & Read whose mission is to “invite women to read, to ponder, and to respond to the word of the Lord”. Hopefully you’ll find yourself encouraged even by reading some of the past daily scriptures from the current study, Consider the Lilies, that I’ve been talking about in this post.

Have you already joined Take Up & Read? How has it blessed you? I’d enjoy hearing from you.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Body And Soul

I recently ran a 5K. This comes from the girl who five years ago thought running was only for athletes. It’s also from the girl who is not competitive, therefore speed is not my goal but finishing the race is my prize.

After my Irish twins (now 5 and 6 years old) arrived in God’s amazing and surprising timing exactly 11.5 months apart, workouts and fitness became an outlet. I quickly found that the body and spirit connection was fueled just as much in prayer as it was in physical activity. Nothing crazy mind you, just moving. It started out with walking and other workouts, but eventually followed with running (aka jogging) if I could fit it in a couple times a week. It wasn’t really about the numbers on the scale, but instead more about feeling healthy and clearing my head.

Fast forward five years and I still stand firm on the belief that just as my day must start with at least some prayer time, it also needs to have some physical activity. To be physically and spiritually healthy is vital to our well-being. Each comes with its own amount of difficulty, especially when it calls on us to reorganize and prioritize our schedule and our lives. Neither activity is really about the exact perfect end or who wins the race. It’s a win-win for you either way. You better bet though that both will be challenging, laden with ups and downs, triumphs and stumbling blocks. Just about when I’m feeling confident, a plateau or a wall hits, and whether that’s with my physical body or my spiritual one, it causes me to stretch and grow.

As I ran the recent race, I found myself grateful for all of those hard workouts when I fought to stay moving. I felt confident in every stride and felt really good the whole race. Nearing the end, I couldn’t help but thank God for the gift of my health and the ability to use my body for good, for myself and for tending to the needs of others. The aches and pains weren’t at the front of my mind, but a spirit of gratitude rose to the surface.

I’ve come to know that the persistence and importance of my prayer life does reap rewards. Like physical activity, when I least want to make time for God is when I need to take the time and do it. Avoiding either makes the return ever more difficult. While neither road to well-being is consistently lined with rainbows and flowers, I know that God desires the best for me in order to serve Him well.

How well are you running the race these days, spiritually or physically? Do you find either to be especially challenging while tending to the daily to-do list, a job, your vocation and caring for the needs of others? You are not alone, my friend. I hope you can find the right way for you to take another step forward in your spiritual and physical health this summer. God may surprise you and do great things after you take that first leap.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Surrounded with Blessing and Supporting in Prayer

With the recent ordination of Father Derek Wiechmann to the priesthood, I took a trip down memory lane. The trip took me back to 2009 when our family started helping host one of the diocesan Vocation Camps in Villard. Our oldest children were six and four at the time. On a whim and as a favor to our friend, Father Gregory Mastey, who was the Vocations Director at the time, we offered to host one of the three day camps. That led to hosting for the next five years. I’d also say that while we were merely helping feed the young men who attended the camp, along with the seminarians and priests who came to help out, our family gained a lot from the camps too. We began to relate to the seminarians who crossed our path during those years. We kept in touch with many of them, if not personally, at least prayerfully. We’d seen several seminarians come and go, but many stayed and continued the journey to priesthood. In the last four years we’ve been honored to see those vocations come to fruition in the sacrament of Holy Orders as we’ve excitedly attended their ordinations at the Cathedral.

The Heidelberger family with Father Derek Wiechmann, center, and Father Gregory Mastery, right.

While looking back through the years we’ve known (now) Father Derek, I felt my heart swell and become so grateful. Not just for Father Derek and his vocation, but for the many priests who have become part of our family circle. Some of them may have been our pastor at some point in our lives, a colleague when I’ve worked for a parish or two. Others entered our circle through an event or the Vocations Camps. Each of them as unique as the homilies they preach each week. Each of them carrying a story of significance that touched us and drew them into our lives.

Some exteriors were a little harder to tap into and the vulnerability of the man in black took longer to reach. Others are natural extroverts who wear a smile, extend a hand and we quickly found common ground on which to stand. We’ve gathered around a table with them and shared a meal in our home, smiled and waved across a crowded room at a diocesan event, prayed with them at Mass or visited them at the current parish they are serving.

One of the vocation camps the Heidelbergers helped host.

These men quickly rise to the top of our prayer list when we pray together each evening as a family. Praying for seminarians and priests has always been important to our family, but as personal connections have been made those prayers even more important. When our children were able to see priests outside of a church or Mass setting, they began learning more about them and started to find out how human they really were. They would hear about their families, ask questions of the priest, share a laugh or a joke and find out seemingly insignificant things like their favorite food or hobbies they enjoy. These turned into fond and fun memories for our kids over the years.

All of these things became reasons why priests are some of our family’s very favorite people.

We never set out to intentionally befriend these men. What we set out to do was to support and pray for seminarians and priests. What we gained is a cloud of witnesses donning black and faithfully, joyfully living out their vocation.

Another photo of campers at a summer vocations camp hosted by the Heidelbergers.

I hope you have a good example or two of a priest whom brings a smile to your face or spiritually challenges you. Continue praying for him and for all priests who need your support and prayers. Consider sending him a note of gratitude or encouragement and let him know you’re praying for him. Do you struggle with getting to know your parish priest or finding a way to connect with him? A great way to start is a smile, outstretched hand, or invitation to a meal. Sometimes it takes a few interactions or invitations, but be gently persistent. It may take him a while to have a clear calendar or perhaps he’s an introvert and encountering parishioners in their home is difficult for him. Prayerfully consider what may be the best way in which to support a priest. I’d say that letting him know you’re praying for him is a very good way to start. Those monthly Serra calendars printed in the Visitor are very useful for this. Pray for the priest of the day and, if he happens to be a priest you know, let him know that day that you are praying for him specifically.

Each of us can help foster and support vocations, whether to priesthood, religious, single or married life, one prayer at a time.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Comparison Thieves

Sometimes I get restless. When I am in that place of restlessness I become anxious and my judgment on the real or perceived becomes clouded. That quickly comes to the place of comparison, self doubt and discontentment. The real joy that my life is filled with in abundance quickly gets overshadowed. If I’m being honest, I’ll also say that if that brooding is left long enough it’s also when God and I wrestle.

As a woman of faith it can be embarrassing to admit this human side of me.

I remember well my time as a young mom with my two oldest children and feeling well within the muck of busy mom life while questioning most every mothering decision I made. During that season I saw supermom ladies at every turn who juggled so many things along with more children than myself. They did everything better than me whether it was working full time, volunteering and doing things for others, mastering their time, being more creative, more loving, but mostly and surely, more desirable to others and God because they exuded perfection.

Now that I’m on the other side with more children, more mothering years under my belt and approaching mid-life, I realize that none of that was necessarily true. I was comparing myself to others who were not at the same season of life as I was back then. I may be just a bit more quick to realize now that God puts these people in my surroundings not as comparisons, but as witnesses and role models to urge me on to my own greatness in Him. I am called to be the mother, wife, daughter, sister and friend to the people who surround me in my circle. I was not meant to be these things to a different set of people and I cannot compare to how well someone else does it. Is my fulfillment of God’s plan for me being fully lived out? How am I serving Him in serving others? This is my call. When I take my human blinders off and lose sight of God, joy is stolen away and resentment creeps in my heart.

Let’s be kind to one another. Let’s be gentle with ourselves. Challenge one another and ourselves, absolutely! Compare and guilt ourselves with real or imagined standards that lead to discontentment, banish them at the door. God called you to be you with the life He has called only you to live. Your vocation, your job, your unique gifts and abilities are there because of choices and paths you followed to hopefully pursue God’s call on your heart. Let’s amaze Him with the gift of ourselves and being who he means for us to be. Perfectly imperfect, vulnerable and daily seeking the grace he lavishes upon us.

You are enough. So am I.

Remind someone of that message today. Thank someone you know and love for the witness of Christ that they are to you and others. You never know if they may be having the same doubts and struggles comparing themselves to others and feeling inferior or less than superior.

“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” – St. Teresa of Calcutta

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Empty Tomb Rolls

He is not here, for he has been raised just as he said.

–Matthew 28: 6

We just made it through the season of Lent which was forty days, but our next big season will stretch to fifty. Sometimes we can forget that the Easter season lasts beyond the day of Jesus’ Resurrection. This is a welcome bonus to some of us who in the past may have forgotten to prepare a certain Easter treat that became a tradition and had to witness our children’s eyes of disappointment Easter morning.

If you’d like to prepare an easy and symbolic treat for your loved ones that reminds them of the resurrection, give these a try.

While you feast on them, maybe take the time to re-read the Easter story or perhaps share a favorite Easter memory. Enjoy your time together and the Easter season!

Empty Tomb Rolls

¼ cup Sugar
1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
Marshmallows
¼ cup Butter, melted
1 package Crescent Rolls

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease muffin tin. Separate crescents into triangles and set aside. Combine sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Dip marshmallows in the melted butter and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place in crescent triangle and pinch dough around the marshmallow. Seal the edges as much as possible. Assemble all of the crescents. Then dip the tops in the remaining butter and the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place each crescent in a muffin cup of your pan. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until crescent is golden brown. Do not over bake as it will cause them to get more gooey and tend to stick hard in the pan.

Just like Jesus, you’ll notice that the marshmallows have disappeared! If you are making these with kids, be sure to have them help you so they see the marshmallows go in the rolls and later disappear.

It makes the connection to the resurrection more vivid.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Jesus, Remember Me

This simple refrain from my childhood has drifted in and out, in repetition, with pressing urgency this Lenten season.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom…Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom….”

I can still hear it sung by a full choir up in the loft of the spacious church in my hometown where I grew from infant to young woman. Attached to the song sits a vivid memory from my teen years. A memory of a Good Friday filled with somber movements, prayerfulness and stark reality. As I knelt in my pew after veneration of the Cross and bowed my head in prayer, I felt no emotion besides an empty space in my being. My head suddenly lifted, and as it did it, met a most visible witness of the Good Friday commemoration. An older man, a parishioner at my parish for all my years, slowly walked back to his pew from venerating the Cross. As he neared, I saw his bowed head. The anguish and sorrow on his face nearly consumed him as he struggled back to his pew with tears sliding down his face. A pain stabbed into me and the imprint of that moment stamped itself on my heart.

As a grown woman, that moment never ceases to prod a tender space within me. I don’t know that I ever again meditated on Jesus’ passion and death with the same immaturity of my youth. Each Good Friday, the picture comes back into focus as I walk the aisle, now with my own children, hoping to capture the sacredness. There was a lot that man showed me that day as he humbly and unintentionally shared his relationship with Jesus. Seeing with my own eyes another person’s deep faith challenged me to seek the connectivity I may have been missing with Jesus at that time in my life. It’s the same way that Lent tends to be a season of redefining my connection with Christ as I try to reexamine my dependency and need for him. I’m led shame faced to the foot of the cross where He hangs for love of me, remembering him who I ask to remember me.

“Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom…”

Jesus, draw us closer to you as we walk along this Lenten journey. Let us not lose heart in our Lenten failings, but stay steady on the course and be persistent in prayer and sacrifice. Lead us deeper into the relationship with you that draws us closer to your side. May we be like Simon of Cyrene, when pressed into service we take up the cross even if at first we don’t understand why or how to do so.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

Lent Approaches — Fear Not

With merely a couple of calendar flips behind us from Christmas, it appears that Lent is upon us. Was that a sigh I heard? It’s OK, I’ve done it, too. Not that I don’t care for the penitential season, but I have had my share of Lenten grievances, rather than embraces, in the past.

It’s just that it’s SO HARD. Yes, it is. Why? Because I am human, I am less than perfect and resisting things in this fast paced, self centered, “needs” based world in which we live is hard. I’m used to having things because quite simply, they are there. They are there for me to have. But wait, is Lent really about giving up food and stuff? Not hardly. Not that it’s a bad idea to offer up some type of sacrifice or ‘giving up’ something as we were maybe taught back when we were younger, but we can also challenge ourselves in other ways.

What about doing something extra? What about embracing the sacrifice of even the smallest task (or person) God puts in front of you each day, without so much as a grumble? And what about some extra prayer and quiet time with Jesus? Or even just begin, if you haven’t already made the time, making time for daily prayer. These six weeks aren’t meant as a time of torture, misery and gloomy faces missing their sweets and Friday hamburger. They are here for us, hidden within the ordinary time to serve a purpose.

What is that purpose? Well, obviously it is time for fasting, prayer and sacrifice. It’s the days and weeks when we respond to all that Jesus did for us and they lead up to the holiest week of the Church year.

How I decide to engage in Lent, or what God calls me to this Lent may be vastly different than what he asks of you. Approaching the season with intention and purpose may be a great idea, but also leave some room for God to act and put before you other ways He wants to guide your weeks ahead.

Your season of life and your vocation may not lend itself to a Lenten retreat, daily Mass or even attending stations of the cross with your parish community. Sometimes we need to be creative when thinking of ways to engage fully in a season such as Lent rather than dismissively writing it off due to certain issues that arise for us, or counting on “just doing it next week since Lent is six weeks after all.”

At home, we’ve been known to light extra votive candles while praying a couple of stations of the cross a few evenings a week. We may add in some extra prayer time to our normal evening routine. Along with maybe opting out of a certain food item or sweets, we may each find some other offering unique to only us as we feel called to embrace for this season. I even try to keep simple reminders of the season on the dining table or another place in the living room. Instead of jumping into spring flowers, Easter bunnies and eggs, I’ve used rocks, votive candles, a crucifix and a purple fabric table runner as a decorative focus instead. Again, this is fighting the norm of all that surrounds us on a daily basis, but it also calls us to a focus on Jesus and not on the comforts of our normal everyday life.

Lent is a penitential season, so going to confession or an extra Mass during the week, spending time in Eucharistic adoration, and time spent in prayer are great steps toward deeper growth. Find a spiritual book you can easily pick up and ponder. It doesn’t need to be wordy and heavy, maybe just something that gives you a meditation and short prayer to ponder. Many of our parishes will have these types of books awaiting us near some doorway or gathering space if we look for them.

While Lent can be a time to challenge and stretch us, it’s not necessarily only beneficial if you dive into it with a “go big or go home” attitude. If that’s the way you feel you are being called to practice Lent 2017, good for you! If not, fear not. No matter how big or small the sacrifice, God will bless it and use it for good, whether for you or for another. It’s not a one day competition. It’s a six week journey that leads us to the foot of the cross and to Jesus, who made the ultimate sacrifice. He’ll meet you there.

“Lent comes providentially to reawaken us, to shake us from our lethargy.”

– Pope Francis

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

 

Year End Awakening

My daughter has a framed print hanging in her room that has the line from J.R.R Tolkien on it:

“Not all who wander are lost.”

Looking in the rear view of the last year, that one resonates with me. It kind of felt like a wandering year and if I had to pinpoint one reason or event, I really couldn’t. Sure, I spent a good portion of it in the throes of my fifth child’s first year with all of the familiar milestones. It shook things up a little, but it didn’t take a whole lot of adjustment. The year was filled with many happy times and memories, while sprinkled with some bumps of inconvenience and less than comfortable “unsettlings.”

As I ambled along, complacency took over and it spilled over into my faith life. I wrestled with a place of peace that I just couldn’t quite grasp and a decision I just wasn’t quite ready to make for most of the year.

Weary and ready for changes, I kept the door open to divine help even when the answers were quiet, and I kept asking myself the same questions. Somewhere in those last months as I bustled my kids around to activities, God saw to it to bring to fruition some new relationships and words of encouragement and support my soul needed. The face of Christ was evident and a balm to soothe the weariness.

With the Advent season and new year nearly on the horizon, fresh air was about to breathe new spiritual life. I was excited to be a part of a group of women around the globe who would be sharing Advent praying and reflecting together daily through a Catholic women’s Advent journal. As I set aside time every day to read the daily scripture readings, pray, and reflect using the Advent journal, new light began to shine. The part of me that needed so desperately a rekindling of my spiritual fire began to warm again. In those quiet morning moments He showed me small corners of life that of which He longed to be a part. He refreshed in me the promise of His love and delight in me despite all the imperfections and human side of me I lay before Him.

While I knew my roaming last year was never alone, it often felt that way. My faith, albeit sometimes just mustard seed sized, told me that God was in each of those moments and circumstances. I knew that our relationship would grow despite the desert-like feeling and aimless wandering I seemed to be doing. Sometimes these days, weeks and months of searching feel as though there is no benefit along the journey, but I have to trust that God is doing a great and marvelous work. I just can’t see it yet.

Some seasons, whether liturgical or life seasons, have a way of stirring within us something deeper and more meaningful in order to redirect us. They have a way of stretching and molding us in unexpected ways. A couple of years ago our parish priest said nearly the same thing just before Lent. He asked us to be open to ways God wanted to stretch us during that Lenten season, as a parish and personally. I cannot recount the times that those words from that homily echoed in my head over those next months. I was pregnant at the time and the pregnancy stretched me not just physically, but every other way imaginable. I chuckle about it now, but at the time I gave our pastor plenty of grief about that homily because that God’s stretching thing was really, really difficult.

With what turned out to be quite possibly my best Advent ever now behind me, I look forward to embracing the new year. If I end up being led to trek off the beaten path a bit, I know I will not be lost. After all, the Israelites wandered the desert for forty years and they were God’s chosen people. All their wandering ended up in the Promised Land.  I hope mine does too.

**Note: If you are looking for a place to gather with other prayerful women and the group I referred to above, you can find more information at https://blessedisshe.net.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.

The Ninth Day of Christmas

Did you receive a fruit basket for Christmas this year? I don’t know that I’ve ever received one, but it sure would be a great healthy choice as a gift idea after all of the other sweets and treats. With the new year, many of us begin anew and make commitments to better health. How about we focus on making some spiritually healthy choices for our new year as well? Have you ever thought about those 9 Fruits of the Spirit?  How working on them and aiming to live them out could make our body spiritually healthy? Let’s take a little refresher course.

What are the Fruits of the Spirit?

There are nine biblically-based fruits of the Holy Spirit as given by St. Paul in his letter to the Galatians: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:22-23).

How can we work on these fruits?

On paper these may look like simple and easily attained virtues, ones that we should already be living out if we are faithful Christians. Based on my own experience, however, that which is perceived as easiest can also be my stumbling block to better spiritual health.

A suggestion I have is based on how our family chose to work on the fruits over the school year this year. We chose to focus on one virtue a month as our theme, and we are going in biblical order. On the first Sunday of each month, we introduce the new fruit and discuss what it means and how we can work on it as individuals and as a family. While we work on the virtue individually during the week, Sunday evening becomes our ‘check in’ time as a family. We ask how we’ve done that week and rate ourselves (not others in the family). Some of the kids like to name specific ways they tried harder to focus on the particular fruit, or things that came up that made it more difficult to put it into practice. We’ve found it helpful to have the weekly reminder so that we refocus and continue working together to improve.

If you have a family, perhaps you could work on these fruits together or maybe you have a dear friend whom you could be accountable with and who can help you stay focused as you both work on them. If not, choosing to work on them on your own and keeping in touch with God as you work together is a great working arrangement as well.

Just like a bountiful fruit basket overflowing with wonderful fruits, you know that there are some that you prefer more than others. I’d pick a banana over an orange, because I like it just a bit better. When working on the fruits of the spirit, I may feel like I already have joy down pretty well and it comes more easily than say patience, for example. I may choose to work on those more difficult virtues more intentionally and prayerfully earlier in the year when my determination tank is still full. You will also see that working on specific virtues may work hand in hand with others or that some fruits reap a more abundant harvest with certain people in your life than others.

Having a focus or goal and resetting your determination on the Fruits of the Spirit periodically during 2017 can prove to be a wonderful addition to a more healthy you this year. If history tells me anything, I can also say that if you set out to remedy a particular vice, God will give you plenty of opportunities to grow in that area. He’ll also be readily available to help you fill your basket to overflowing with ripe and pleasing fruits.

Sarah Heidelberger is a wife and homeschooling mom of five who keeps her days steady with her planning and organizing skills. Read more about her on the “Meet Our Bloggers” page.