Category Archives: Growing

Plan Your Work & Work Your Plan

I learned this phrase during my years in network marketing.  Sadly, I learned the phrase, but never put it into practice effectively.

I believe “planning my work and working my plan” will be essential to achieving self-discipline in the year to come, and so I downloaded this daily planner – “The Day’s Draft” – from A Holy Experience.  It’s beautiful, covers all the major points I’d like it to cover, and best of all – it’s FREE!  Each night, I lay out my plan for the next day.  I love the fact that there’s even space to pencil in when you’re going to do each thing, totally encouraging me to… plan my work and work my plan.

Thus far, I have been much more productive, and much less frustrated.  I am doing far better at setting my priorities and putting first things first.  I’ve had days where I got nearly everything on my plan done, and I’ve had days where life happened and I got almost nothing on my plan done.  But that was OK, because I made a conscious decision to set my plan aside and rearrange priorities for that day.

Here are a few other disciplines that I am implementing for 2013, which having my “plan” is helping with immensely so far:

One Hour Personal Development Reading Each Day

Historically, I start non-fiction books, get about a third of the way through them, and never finish.  Guess what?  I finished one book on Saturday, and am well into three new books (you can see the list at the side.)  Once I have read something educational for an hour, I reward myself with reading a “fun” book, which right now happens to be a 900 page historical fantasy novel.  That one might take a while.

Showing Gratitude

I love Ann Voskamp’s idea of recording three things each day, and adding them up to over one thousand things you are thankful for by the end of the year.  She has a great download that gives three things to look for each day, so you’re always recording something different.  My list of gratitude is much more thoughtful, poetic, and  meaningful because I’m seeking out those three things. Today, I’ve found “dusky light” and “surprising reflection,” but I’m still searching for “beautiful shadow.”

Meditate on the Daily Mass Readings

This is the first of Bishop Coyne’s resolutions that I’ve decided to tackle, since growth in the Christian life must be based in God’s Word.  The hardest part of this for me is waking up early enough to do this before the craziness of the day begins.  If I don’t wake early, I am likely to read the daily Mass readings, but chances that I will actually meditate on them are slim to none.  Funny thing about reading without meditation.  The words tend to fall on barren ground, and are eaten up by little birdies, ages 2, 4, 6, 9, and 40.   Or perhaps the roast that I’m cooking for dinner drops on those words and drowns them.  Or they get all tangled up in four loads of laundry, or obscured by the dust on the dining room table… which leads me to a fourth new discipline:

Wake Early

I mapped it all out, and to accomplish all I want to accomplish before getting the kids off to school, I need to wake at 4:20.  I’ll be happy with 5, thank you.

New Years Resolutions Suggested by a Catholic Bishop

I just read these on Let Us Walk Together, the blog of Bishop Christopher Coyne, Auxilary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.  Too good not to share.  Imagine a world where every Catholic adopted these as their New Year’s Resolutions.

As the new year begins, we often make resolutions and so, I offer the following possible new year’s resolutions to consider if one is going to be serious about being an evangelizer. I offer them for myself as well as for those readers who chose to follow my advice. Many of these resolutions are already part of my life: confession, pray, etc.. My hope is that anyone of us who is serious about following Christ as a Catholic Christian and an evangelizer will be able to see oneself in some of these propositions.

And so, As a Catholic Christian committed to the Church and the work of the new evangelization, I resolve with the love of Christ in my heart and the guidance of the Holy Spirit: –

    • to strive to grow in my love for the Lord Jesus Christ and His Church everyday. 
    • to be someone who seeks opportunities to invite others to faith in Jesus Christ and then seizes those opportunities when they come.
    • to try and talk about Jesus Christ and my faith to someone at least once a day.
    • to strive to live as someone who seeks to love God with all my heart, with all my mind, and with all my soul and to love my neighbor as I would seek to be loved.
    • everyday to wake up in the morning, put my feet on the floor, and before I stand up, bow my head in praise to God for all that he has done for me.
    • everyday as I prepare for bed, to sit or kneel at my bedside and thank God for the blessings of the day and seek His forgiveness for any of my human transgressions.
    • to attend Sunday Mass every week, arriving at least 15 minutes before Mass starts so I can properly prepare myself to listen to the Word of God and celebrate the Sacrament of the Eucharist.
    • every time I eat, regardless of where I am, to give thanks to God for the food I am about to receive.
    • to celebrate the Sacrament of Confession and Reconciliation at least once a month or more as needed.
    • to meditate on the daily Mass readings. 
    • to pray the Rosary once a day.
    • to be someone who seeks to judge less and understand more.
    • to remember that,”It is not how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing that matters.” (Blessed Mother Teresa)
    • to balance the way I talk about the Church. If I have to complain about something I do not agree with or like about the Church, I will remember to say something about what I love about the Church, especially around others who may not believe as I do.
    • to chose one night per week in which I will not watch TV, use my computer, play on my phone, laptop, or tablet, text, tweet, or FB or anything like that. Instead, I will become involved: involved with my church, a charity, a neighbor, whatever the opportunity and the desire leads me.
    • to “tithe” some part of myself (time, treasure, and talent) to furthering God’s kingdom in this world.
    • to meditate seriously on the Corporal Works of Mercy and the Spiritual Works of Mercy and to strive to live them.
    • to be meek but not “milquetoast.”
    • to comfort those who mourn.
    • to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
    • to be pure of heart in thought, word, and deed.
    • to be merciful.
    • to be a peacemaker but to also be courageous.
    • to be righteous before God and others.
    • I resolve to be a child of God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit.

A long list, and a tall order.  I don’t think any of us can take this list, swallow it in one big gulp, and suddenly fulfill every resolution, or even any one of these resolutions.  I resolve (me, Stephanie Engelman, of great Self-Discipline in 2013) to take a look at each of these points in the year to come.  To try to do them and report back to you, my readers and (if you don’t mind) my accountability partners.  Please chime in if you want to join me!

Another resolution that I just read on Shoved to Them is

“Pray more with my friends.  I’ve done 2 novenas in the last few months over the phone with friends.  It’s been an amazing experience.  I need to pray with them more often.  It just makes me happy.”

Doing a novena over the phone with a friend… the thought had never occurred to me.  I love it.  I’m gonna try that one too.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

My One Word for 2013

I adopted one word for 2012.  But I never wrote it down, and never fully committed.  So I suppose you might say that I didn’t fully “adopt” that word. I took it under my foster-care for a brief period of time.

I’m more than a little embarrassed to admit that it’s taken me the past twenty-four hours to even remember what that one word was.

Finally, this morning, I woke with it on the tip of my consciousness.  Ironically, on a morning where the night before found me dealing – not so well – with a two-year-old who refused to sleep between two and four A.M.  A night distinctly lacking in 2012’s word.

I reached deep into my foggy brain, felt around, fingertips brushing on that word. It slithered away, so I reached a little deeper…

And finally I grasped it.  2012’s word was PEACE.  Looking back, through the grace of God, I do believe that 2012 was a more peaceful year than years past.  I learned to “accept the things I cannot change;” to analyze my tendency to anger before letting the anger build; the value of music to change my mood; and I learned to pray, pray, pray when I begin to feel stressed out and overwhelmed.  I’m far from perfect on any of these counts, but I’m a darn sight better than I was a year ago.

As I look forward to 2013, I believe that I need to get to the root of the matter, to an issue that’s been needling at me for many years.

This is a trait that I continually fall short on, that somehow I never learned as a child.  It has led to habitual tardiness, frequent eating binges, emotional outbursts, and countless unfinished projects.  It’s left us mired in debt.  It has prevented me from achieving my goals, and from becoming the wife, mother, friend, daughter, and servant of God that I know I am called to be.

Have you guessed it?

The Biblical term is self-control.  To me, though, “self-control” speaks strongly of desires of the flesh.  I’ve certainly had my struggles with those, but between practicing NFP and sticking to this crazy diet, I think I’ve got those typical fleshly desires pretty well under control.

So my word for 2013 is SELF-DISCIPLINE.

It’s not as beautiful or romantic as joy, brave, trust, charity, or peace, or many of the other words you’ll find at the One Word Community.  It’s utilitarian and not a whole lot of fun.  But I believe that it will provide a strong foundation for building and focusing on those other things as well.

Self-discipline will get me up early in the morning.

Self-discipline will establish a strong foundation of prayer, scripture study, and taking time to listen.

Self-discipline will finish the book I’ve been working on for five years and – God willing – find it a publisher.

Self-discipline will write the Bible study I’ve had in my head for two years.

Self-discipline will find me sitting with my children each day to read them a book or play a game.

Self-discipline will show others that I respect them by showing up on time to our engagements.

Self-discipline will cause me to finally create and stick to a budget, and we will finally have financial freedom on our horizon.

Self-discipline will leave me living life with intention. And my intention is to

Put first things first

To serve God in all I do

And become the woman he made me to be.

“Athletes exercise self-[discipline] in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath,
but we an imperishable one.” 1 Cor 9:25

(Huge thanks go out to Melanie at for the free one word button.  Isn’t it cool?  Now I just have to figure out how to add it to my site!)