Introducing The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion A Book of Daily Reflections

I am excited about a new daily devotional coming out from Ave Maria Press called The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion A Book of Daily Reflections, edited by Lisa M. Hendey and Sarah A. Reinhard. I was asked to contribute 4 devotions to this wonderful book and am honored to be included in this distinguished group of over 80 leading Catholic authors.

I just got my advance copies and I can now share with you one of my reflections:

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Continue reading “Introducing The Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion A Book of Daily Reflections”

A little grace from a BIG God

old poolRecently I lost something I truly loved.

It was a minuscule loss when compared with the suffering of so many around me and across the world. Embarrassed at how much it upset me, I turned to God in prayer and asked for detachment. The prayer was swiftly answered in a way only God could imagine.

So what did I lose? Continue reading “A little grace from a BIG God”

Talking with Allison Gingras on Breadbox Media radio about “River of Grace”

00 cover drop shadowI was privileged to have my River of Grace discussed on Allison Gingras’ radio program on Breadbox Media, “A Seeking Heart” for the last 3 episodes! She used the first two programs to talk about how River of Grace impacted her own life — it’s such a blessing to hear that my book has impacted someone in such practical and powerful ways. In the third episode she invited me on-air to talk about my experiences of grace that inspired River of Grace.

Sit back, relax and listen to how God surprises us with gifts of grace in even the smallest of ways!

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Be sure and check out Allison’s show notes with lots of interesting links to more information about the various things we talked about.

p.s. I am offering a free giveaway on the program — if you purchase River of Grace after listening, email me your receipt to susanwbailey@gmail.com and I’ll send you a PDF book of all the Flow Lessons included in the book – they include color pictures and links not included in the book. It’s an easy way to pick out the Flow Lessons you want to try.

Click to Tweet & Share: Talking with Allison Gingras on Breadbox Media radio about “River of Grace” http://tinyurl.com/glvqve8

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Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

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Another great discovery right under my nose!

Remember when I posted about discovering a little piece of heaven across the street from my house? After living there for twelve years?

Looks like I’ve found another treasure in my town. Continue reading “Another great discovery right under my nose!”

Nice, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Orlando, and your own life: When you can’t find the words during desperate times

There is no doubt that we are in the midst of a violent storm, in the world around us, and in our own private spheres.

We wake up to another terrorist attack or senseless shooting. We face a crisis of trust in our leaders.

Our faith is under siege. Believers face ridicule and rejection, and for some, martyrdom.

Sickness and death surround us. We witness children in poverty dying of starvation around the world. We encounter suffering, death and grief among our own families and friends.

In the midst of these storms,
do you find it difficult to pray?

Continue reading “Nice, Baton Rouge, Dallas, Orlando, and your own life: When you can’t find the words during desperate times”

Healing begins with knowledge: understanding the emotional impact of IC

JUNE 29, 2016 – Last week I wrote about dejection; today it’s anxiety. This current season of feelings, beginning with extreme aggravation, moving towards dejection and now morphing into anxiety has me quite puzzled. After this past weekend I needed to step back and try to understand just what was going on,

Last week I anticipated a wonderful weekend away with my husband at Hampton Beach, NH. I looked forward to the carnival atmosphere, the gorgeous pristine beaches along Route 1A, the shops and restaurants, and finally, the Happy Together Tour featuring singers and bands of the 1960s (The Turtles, The Cowsills, Mark Lindsay, Billy J. Kramer, Chuck Negron and Gary Puckett).

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Happy-Together-Cover

The weather was perfection – upper 70s with a refreshing onshore wind. My husband and I have needed this time together after the last hectic few months.

And yet during the trip I was overcome with anxiety. Why?

I have continued to ask God for healing as I pray for friends and family as I sensed I needed those prayers. Just as the book lifted me up and out of myself, prayers for healing uncovered information that related directly to my anxiety. It came from a most unexpected source.

I am researching a biography at the moment and have several years’ worth of notes. They need organizing so today I attended to that.  In the course of the task, I came across an article called “The Psychological Effects of IC.”

ICJust what is IC? Short for Interstital Cystitis, IC is a painful and chronic urinary condition. When paired with Overactive Bladder (which I also have) sufferers experience sudden urges to urinate. If you are not near a bathroom, it can be an excruciating experience both physically and emotionally. It can be quite embarrassing as well. Over time you are conditioned to place the needs of your bladder above all else. I go nowhere now without immediately scouting out bathrooms.

It took years to have this condition diagnosed. Heck, it took years to get a doctor to take my complaints seriously! I took meditation for the Overactive Bladder but it did nothing for the IC. Over time I learned what foods to avoid. The discovery of AZO products (especially Bladder Control Go Less) finally began to bring my IC under control, at least during the daytime. Nighttime is another story (and for another day).

What I have discovered about IC is that it is triggered by stress and anxiety. Going away from home is a sure-fire way to trigger it. If you are not sure where the next bathroom is, you are going to obsess over finding one. Such stress triggers flare ups and before you know it, you’re in a vicious cycle.

What I did not know, however, was that there are long term emotional consequences, something I had begun to suspect after coming home from our weekend. The article I stumbled upon today confirmed that suspicion:

“Although IC is a physiological disease, the effects are emotional. The pain of IC automatically induces an emotional response … The messages from the bladder pain can make a patient feel upset, emotional and depressed as a result.”

In my case, it’s panic. And that’s what I kept experiencing in the lovely yet unfamiliar setting of Hampton Beach, NH. That, and hyper-vigilance:

“IC patients may be seen as emotionally laden victims of a traumatic experience demonstrating hyper-vigilant behavior (the need to be on guard against harm), instead of a person in need of medication to calm the unsettling symptoms of interstitial cystitis.”

This may sound a bit dramatic but the fact it that it is true. This article described my experience to perfection. There was more:

“IC is a daily responsibility … it is not a situational stress that will resolve in time. And, even though most of us build a certain amount of tolerance to the everyday bladder sensitivity (not the painful flare-ups), we still have to place our bladder needs first.”

The world with IC can become very small. And, problems can seem too big to overcome. Sometimes the limitations can make us feel stuck, sometimes with no hope for the future.”

anxietyMy world has definitely shrunk as demonstrated by the tremendous anxiety I experience whenever I have to go away. I am a confirmed homebody—no trip to Europe for me. I chaperone confirmation retreats twice yearly and each weekend is a constant struggle with anxiety-induced obsessive and compulsive tendencies that interfere with my work on the retreat. Finally I have a better understanding of WHY.

I reflected a bit before sharing this blog post. IC and Overactive Bladder are hardly things spoken about freely in polite company. I don’t even know anyone who has it though I know it’s common. So why share this with you?

  • First of all, because someone out there might also be a sufferer and perhaps, this information can be helpful to them.
  • Secondly, to show that healing that comes through God’s grace is more often revealed in steps rather than granted miraculously. But just because a healing unfolds rather than effects an instant cure doesn’t make it any less miraculous in my mind.

I am convinced that because I approached God in prayer for healing (even though I didn’t specify what the healing ought to be) that he gave me the mindfulness to pay attention to this article when I found it.

We’re told that knowledge is half the battle. I believe that. This knowledge has given me great relief.

  • I’m not going crazy.
  • There is a reasonable explanation.
  • Now I know what to ask for in prayer for my healing.

This wave of anxiety will, in fact, pass. And when I feel it return, I know where to go and Who to ask when I need help.

p.s. Those of you suffering from Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome – there is something for you in “The Psychological Effects of IC.” Something tells me we have walked down a similar path.

 

 

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Click to Tweet & ShareHealing begins with knowledge: understanding the emotional impact of IC http://tinyurl.com/IC-Overactive-Bladder

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Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

What makes you think of spiritual things? Here’s an exercise to help you identify them.

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Materials needed: pen or pencil and paper, and your memories

Pick a quiet place in your home to do this exercise and make sure you can sit still comfortably for several minutes.

Be still

Take a moment to be still with God, taking several long and deep breaths and listening as you breathe. In and out, in and out. Be conscious of the rhythm of the breathing. As you breathe in, whisper the name of Jesus; as you breathe out whisper, “Be with me.” Do this for several moments until you feel quiet and still. Continue reading “What makes you think of spiritual things? Here’s an exercise to help you identify them.”

Lifted up and out—breaking free from dejection

jenny on my lapJUNE 20, 2016 — We all go through spells where we feel blue, even downright dejected. I know lately I’ve been waking up in the morning and feeling a sense of dread about facing a new day. Those fears and anxieties that lie just below the surface tend to be magnified in the wee hours of the morning before the alarm goes off. A quick cup of coffee, some time in prayer with Jenny on my lap purring, and those feelings begin to dissipate. Lately however, I’ve had a harder time getting them to leave me.

One of the psalms that I pray each morning describes dejection to the point of despair:

You have put me in the lowest pit,
in the darkest depths.
Your wrath lies heavily on me;
you have overwhelmed me with all your waves.
You have taken from me my closest friends
and have made me repulsive to them.
I am confined and cannot escape;
my eyes are dim with grief.

Psalm 88, 6-9 NIV

Most days I think of those I have known who have experienced that kind of despair. I think too of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, overcome by the knowledge of the suffering he would experience. But some days, I think of me.

I pride myself with knowing why I feel the way I do—I am introspective by nature, and to a fault. But lately I am not clear as to why I feel the way I do. Perhaps it’s the cycle of days seeming to go by faster and faster. It could be those small aches and pains of age reminding me that youth is long over. Maybe I need to stop paying attention to the news because the world no longer makes sense. Maybe I need to stop being so introspective!

I prayed to God today during that psalm and I prayed again during the one o’clock hour when I lift up petitions of healing for family and friends. I rarely include myself but today I did. I asked for grace to come up out of myself, to be lifted up and out. And my prayer was answered.

pedlar's progressI am reading an antique book printed in 1937 about an historical figure, Amos Bronson Alcott. The book is large, its pages browning, the paper soft to the touch. The spine is such that that the book stays open by itself. The cover is exquisite, vintage 1930s art in earth tones. The biographer is totally immersed in his subject, revealing to me the mind and the heart of one of recent histories’ biggest conundrums. Alcott was a man of extremes—at once brilliant, original, insightful while at the same time blind to the physical needs of his family, unable, unwilling at times to work to support them. He drew amazing creativity out of his daughters but inflicted great scars through his demands for perfection and virtue, causing one to become a workaholic to support the family while constantly striving to prove her virtue (Louisa) while another found that virtue perfectly in death rather than life (Lizzie).

peddlar's progressWith all his fatal flaws, Amos Bronson Alcott is a fascinating figure and Odell Shepherd, the biographer, writes about the man with incredible beauty and insight. Some call it “old-fashioned” but I say that Shepherd, because he wrote the book only forty-nine years after Alcott’s death, was closer to him that current biographers could ever hope to be. Perhaps the writing style is “dated;” the fact that there are no footnotes proves to be frustrating for scholars. But there is general agreement that the work is authentic. And that’s why it speaks to me.

And today during my lunch break as I read, scribbling notes in the margins, I found myself being lifted out of my dejection by the sheer beauty of the words and the tactile experience of holding that magnificent old book.

God answered my prayer. Through the experience of reading, I could be lifted out of the prison of myself, my eyes no longer dimmed with grief, my spirit no longer overcome with waves. Because I could get lost in the life of another through the exquisite writing of his biographer, I could receive a gift of grace.

We all have tools we use to help ourselves feel better when we are blue. Some like to listen to music, go for a walk, take a swim or see friends. These are all gifts of grace from God who knows our every need. In my case, rather late in life, I was given the grace to lose myself in a book and in the lives of fascinating historical figures.

Thank you Lord.

 

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Click to Tweet & ShareLifted up and out—breaking free from dejection (for me it’s reading that does it–what lifts you up?) http://tinyurl.com/gomav7l

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Many people find coloring to be a wonderful way to relax and experience harmony in their lives. Is that you? Join my Email List to subscribe to this blog and receive your free Harmony coloring book (and more).

River of Grace Audio book with soundtrack music available now on Bandcamp. Listen to the preface of the book, and all the songs.

Susan Bailey, Author, Speaker, Musician on Facebook and Twitter
Read my other blog, Louisa May Alcott is My Passion

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Reaching my weight loss goal through the toolbox of Grace

My latest Catholic Free Press column (June 17, 2016)

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Grace is invisible.

We feel its power pushing us forward, carrying us as does a river’s current. It takes us many places both serene and chaotic. It molds and shapes us. Yet there’s nothing concrete to grasp onto. We cannot dip our hands into its waters nor physically feel that current.

Or can we?

Continue reading “Reaching my weight loss goal through the toolbox of Grace”

How can I release regrets in my life? Try this spiritual exercise.

NOTE: I have a bunch of these spiritual exercises in River of Grace called Flow Lessons and I thought I would share them with you. Give it a try and see what happens!

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Materials needed: pen or pencil and paper; a large sink or bathtub; a small, empty Tupperware; various small objects that will not be harmed should they get wet


Note: If you belong to a faith tradition that practices the sacraments (such as the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Episcopal or Orthodox faiths), making use of the Sacrament of  Reconciliation/Confession/Absolution is the best place to start when dealing with regrets. The kind counsel of the priest coupled with the reception of sanctifying grace provides true spiritual healing. The value of this exercise is for any leftover regrets you were unable to release after reception of the sacrament.

Be still

This may be a difficult exercise so you will want to take some extra time to be in the presence of God. Use previous practices such as slow breathing, birds flying away from a tree or placing objects in a bag to clear your mind of cares and anxieties. Continue reading “How can I release regrets in my life? Try this spiritual exercise.”