Most Charitable Generation

Charity is so important and millennials are one of the most charitable generations. As a demographic, we do a great job of stepping outside of ourselves to help others in need. We start charities that help the homeless of our cities, we are the first to show up and protest injustices against refugees, and we are happy to raise money for environmental and animal conservation. We are a generation that does not shy away from doing hard work for those who need it.

I think this, more than our technologic savvy, is what makes our generation so amazing. We seek peace, not war, we embrace freedoms, and try to leave the world aa little better than the way we found it by opening gout hearts and our arms to the less fortunate.

Our Lord is very consistent and very insistent on the need to take care of those who are most vulnerable in our society: the orphans, widows, and foreigner. In the time of Moses, these people needed protecting; when Jesus walked the earth these people needed protecting; and still today, these people need protecting, Catholic millennials are poised to rise to the occasion to help young people affected by gang violence, support the single mother who has a husband in jail for having an ounce of marijuana on him, or to be a voice to the voiceless in other countries torn apart by war. Caring for those who can’t care for themeless is what we do as Catholics. According to St. Lawrence, the poor are our wealth as a Church. As millennials, our joy is found in this service. We love to use our time, talent, and treasure to help all people live happier, fuller, more inclusive lives.

I don’t need to write too many tips on today’s topic because this is just who we are, as a generation. It is written in our DNA to extend our arms to the needy. They only thing I will say is that Pope Francis said not to just give to the poor, but to encounter them. Whenever I give money, I like to look a person in the eye and remember their eye color. If I walk away from that person without remembering their eyes, I din’t encounter them, I didn’t recognize their unique human dignity. But to look someone in the eyes is to say they are your equal, equally loved by God, equally worthy of love, and an equal citizen in this country. We all need to feel equal so try to encounter people when you are serving them.

  1. How do you care for others in your community?
  2. How can you do more to use your time, talent, and treasure in the service of your neighbor?

Challenge: Look someone in the eye today.

Modern Crafty Queen

Before we get started today, I should probably define distaff and spindle. Both are tools used for working wool and flax.

Whenever I read this verse, I see the Proverbs 31 woman is crafty. I love crafty women, my grandmother is crafty and my childhood babysitter was crafty. They always made us things and let us help them with projects. Being crafty is important for a few reasons:

  1. You can make great, cheap, gifts for people which is important because we are always trying to save money. Plus gifts made of love are more cherished.
  2. Idle hands do the devil’s work. So rather than being mischievous, we can teach younger generations different crafty skills.
  3. Selling projects at craft fairs, online, or anywhere else, can be a good way to make a little extra cash. Remember, the Proverbs 31 woman is always hustling.

I think crafty arts are bring lost today to digital media, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Although I would recommend all young people learn handicraft skills like woodworking, sewing, and knitting, I think it is just as important for this generation, and future generations, to learn about coding, blogging, and e-commerce. As millennials, we are more technologically advanced than previous generations and we have found ways to monetize and build businesses around technology. We should embrace that and use laptops and wifi the same way the Proverbs 31 woman uses her distaff and spindle.

  1. What handicrafts have you always wanted to learn?
  2. What technical skills do you know and how can you use them to build income?
  3. What are some practical ways you can spend less time being idle, and more time working?

Rest and Work

We’ve seen the Proverbs 31 woman works very, very hard. She is not idle. Instead, she does her research, considers her options, invests wisely, and makes money from those investments. But it isn’t all work and no play for her. We see today she enjoys her profit and isn’t afraid to let her hair down a little.

Recently I’ve been meditating on the words of the Lord’s Prayer, “thy kingdom come, on earth as it is in heaven.” We are meant to have some rest, comfort, peace, and happiness in this life. We are n to called to be miserable all the time and labor in pain without enjoyment. I’ve often thought my consolation will come when I’m united with the Lord in heaven which is true, but not fully true. He wants us to have some comfort here on earth, too! Working hard and sacrificing for those we love are important aspects of the spiritual life while here on earth. But we also need to live a little and enjoy the fruits of that work.

The second part of this verse is about going into the late evening. The diligence of the Proverbs 31 woman is to be admired. She will keep working long after sunset. People who run their own business, love their work they do, and parents will all tell you how hard they work, and that work doesn’t end when dusk falls. At times, that’s when things get started. I think about the times I’ve babysat at night. Typically I’ll play with the children in the early evening then get them ready for bed. After books and snuggles, when the sun is down, I will work on my blog, homework, or whatever other task I have. My lamp isn’t extinguished at night because I may just beginning my work for the day.

Knowing when to relax and when to work is one of the most important thins we can learn during this precious time. So many of our peers are in a perpetual state of idleness, they only work to drink and party. As Proverbs 31 women, we know the value of having a good time with friends, but work is still a priority. It isn’t all fun and games all the time, though it does have its place. Balance is a huge challenge in life, we have to try to find and maintain life’s balance throughout various seasons of life.

  1. How do you have fun?
  2. What project can you devote more time to?
  3. How can you achieve a better balance in life?

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Strength and Vigor

So my first thought when reading this verse is, “do you even lift, bro?” For me, yes, I love lifting because being strong is awesome and it’s great for the metabolism. But I don’t think that’s what the Proverbs 31 woman is about. She is a hard worker, someone focused and devoted to her tasks. She has  a vision of what needs to get done, and she gets down to business.

I’m a dreamer. Sitting here in chapel as I write this, the Lord said to me, Princess, if you spent less time worrying and more time working, you would have what you dream of. I love a quote by Pope Francis where he says, “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed the hungry. That’s how prayer works!” It’s almost amusing in its simplicity but it is a very important lesson to learn.

I think too many fantasy books and television makes us think prayer is magic. We wish we had something really bad, we visualize it, then we click our heels together three times and suddenly we have it. The Proverbs 31 woman is wise and knows anything in life worth having is worth working for, so that’s what she does, and that’s what we will do.

Becoming hat woman takes dreams, yes, finding your dreams is very important. Then pray about it, asking God if this is in his plan for you and how you can participate with the blessings he will bestow upon you to help make your dreams a reality. Next, make a plan. Gather your dream, the Lord’s grace, then form an executable plan to help you get from where yo are to where you want to be. Finally, execute said plan. God helps those who help themselves to get to work like the Proverbs 31 woman, gird yourself with strength and exert your arms with viol.

Things won’t always go according to your plan but take comfort knowing they will always go according to His plan. If you did step two, consulting with the Lord and inviting his Spirit into the planning process, you will find success in whatever you are looking to achieve. We have a God that always finishes the work he starts in each one of us. Be stubborn about your dream but flexible with the plan. Allow Jesus to wrk in you and your situation to bring to fruition the goals you have in mind.

  1. What are your dreams?
  2. How do your dreams fit into God’s plan for you?
  3. What’s your plan?

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Acquisition and Investments

Again in today’s verse we see the Proverbs 31 woman does her homework when she picks out a field. I notice she acquires it; although we know this woman already has a husband, I think this can communicate a lot to us single girls. I often hold myself back from certain things because I want a partner to participate in the process with me. I don’t want to travel alone, buy a car, or a condo without a companion to be part of the selection and accession process with me. But his is self-sabatoging and I don’t know how God’s plan for me will unfold, so I should be making steps in the right direction now.

Working hard for your money and using it wisely is very important for money awareness particularly when it comes to saving; here we see investment. There are a lot of different ways to invest your hard earned dollars: stocks, bonds, real estate. After doing your homework, and assessing your current financial situation and financial goals, see how you can begin making investments. Property has long been an investment, so much so we see the Proverbs 31 woman investing in property. She plants a vineyard on her land, but you could also rent a room or fix it up for later use. Regardless of how you choose to invest your money, it is important to do your research, calculate risk/reward, and pray before you make any moves. The Lord will tell you where your money, time, and effort will be best spent.

  1. Are you holding back from making big steps?
  2. What are your financial goals long term?
  3. How can you achieve those long term financial goals?

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Early Bird

Early to bed, early to rise, makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise. The Proverbs 31 girl is definitely healthy, wealthy, and wife, as we’ve already begun to learn. Waking up early and starting the day strong is such an important habit to have. So many people talk about how vital it is to start the day off right. As I write this, the Lord has given me the task of developing a strong morning routine. Routine is very important, for me at least. Some things you may want to include in your mooring routine are:

  1. Making the bed
  2. Morning offering/devotional/prayer/bible study
  3. Healthy breakfast
  4. Journaling (especially if you are someone blessed with dreams)
  5. Workout
  6. Daily Mass
  7. Eucharistic adoration

We all know how important mornings can be to the rest of our day. When you wake up late, everything is behind schedule. So waking up early should become a priority for us now, because when the day comes we need to pack lunches and backpacks, we’ll appreciate those few minutes of quiet time before they wake up. To train yourself to wake up early, you’re probably also going to need to train yourself to get to bed early. Establishing a night routine can go a long way in your mornings. Here are a few things you may want to do in the evening to prepare for a good morning:

  1. Set out tomorrow’s clothes and anything else you may need
  2. Clean the bathroom/kitchen/fold the laundry
  3. Take a relaxing bath or hot shower
  4. Read a spiritual book
  5. Do an examination of the day
  6. Journal things that went right and things that went wrong throughout the day, things to learn from
  7. Make a to-do list for tomorrow

Routines are so important of us, so get into a morning and night habit that helps your body and mind associate with winding up and winding down for the day. Use these lists as a jumping off point but don’t be limited by them. My greatest tip for you is to include prayer in both the morning and evening. This will help you view your day through the eyes of God.

Challenge: Establish a morning and night routine

  1. How do/can you include the Lord in your morning?
  2. What prevents you from waking up earlier?
  3. What keeps you up at night and how can you put it at the foot of the Cross?

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Go the Distance

To piggy back off of last week when we talked about seeking out the best resources and the best deals, this week we are talking about how far we are willing to go to get certain things. I worked at a car dealership and I was always surprised to see people coming from Wisconsin, Iowa, Indiana, even California, to buy cars from us. The reason we attracted so many people from all of the midwest (and the country) was because we had the best deals on new and used cars. People made the decision, after doing their homework, the deal they would get on the car was worth the long trip. I don’t think making this trip for groceries every week would be logical, so going the distance is dependent upon the deal you are seeking.

Since I mentioned groceries, we’ll stick with that example. The store closest to my house is significantly more expensive than the grocery store I pass on my way home from church. Because of that, I shop at the store in a neighboring town. I calculate the cost of the gas used is less than the difference of purchasing groceries from the store closer to my house. I am willing to travel a little further for a better deal because I am still saving money.

When you are doing your homework on the best deal, also calculate travel costs to see whether the deals are really worth it in the long term. The customer from California that bought a car from us, also stopped to visit family, making the trip a little more worth the money and time. As I mentioned, the grocery store I shop at, is on my way home from church. I’m already in that direction at least once a week, making it worth the gas. Going the extra mile is great if the deal is worth the extra mile.

  1. How much money is in your budget for gas?
  2. When choosing the next thing you want to buy, and your homework, calculate travel costs.
  3. Determine how far you are willing to travel for regular purchases like groceries, clothes, gym, etc.

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Seeking

One of the signs of a person who loves their family very deeply is to give them the best of everything possible. We have to know what those best things are and how to get them for the best price. I’m not talking about iPhones here, let’s consider needs, like food.

We have to eat, but there is a lot of garbage “food” out there that is terrible for our bodies and have serious long term consequences. Therefore, we should seek out real food, that comes in recognizable colors and textures. We have to research food to know what is actually helpful and nutritious, and what can be harmful. There are some foods that pretend to be healthy, but can actually be very unhealthy We have to read and research to find the best options to put into our bodies. Take eggs, for example, packed full of protein and cholesterol. Not exactly a health food, but one people eat all the time, probably because they don’t know any better.

Once we determine what the best options are, we need to seek out the best deal. We’ve talked before about the importance of good money management, spending and saving wisely. This comes from doing some more homework. Check out different deals around town to find the best one. Cooking meals based on produce that is on sale can do a lot for the monthly budget. This isn’t just for meals. Finding the best deal on a car, new kitchen appliance, or the best bank to use, are all important and require some research.

Seeking out the highest quality resources is very important for living a physically healthy and financially responsible life. Getting into the habit of never making a large purchase without extensive research, making a moderate investment after doing some homework, or doing regular shopping with a plan, will set an important habit for the future.

  1. How do you usually make the decision to purchase something?
  2. What are some tangible things you can do to become a more educated consumer?

Profit, Not Loss

Money, money, money! Oh how so many of us struggle with money. I read an article once that said the number one reason people struggle in their marriages is because of money. I found that pretty interesting because divorces are expensive and terrible for your credit.

Today we are talking about how we can be financially savvy and how to prepare to bring a husband profit and not loss.

  1. Get your spending in check: There is a difference between needs and wants. We need food, healthy food. Don’t consider healthy, organic food a luxury. It’s an investment in your body and absolutely a need. Eating out with friends is more of a want.
  2. Save: Learning how to save money when shopping for the essentials is very important. Learn how to cook meals according to sales, buy new clothes on clearance at the end of season, and show used whenever possible. I love pre-loved books!
  3. Budgeting: This is probably the most important because it is necessary for knowing how and when to spend and save. The top 10% doesn’t belong to you, you’re just holding onto it for Jesus, that’s your tithe. Other things to write into your budget are short and long term savings, emergencies, charity, bills, and fun money. Budgeting is about setting priorities, this is a very important skill.
  4. Manage your money: It is essential you know how to be a good money manager. Know your monthly and weekly income, know your monthly and weekly expenses, know where your money is, know what debt you have. I recommend keeping your debt to a minimum, or eliminating it all together. I have a finical goal of being debt free; and I think it could do a lot of good for your future to consider living financially free.
  5. Turning a profit: Figuring out what you want to do for the rest of your life can be just as daunting as figuring out who you want to spend the rest of your life with. Take stock of your strengths and weaknesses, hopes and dreams, and allow them to determine your career path. I have a desire to be a stay-at-home homeschool mom, but that can put a lot of strain on the sole breadwinner. During this time, I’m working to build location independent income so I can work from home and supplement my husband’s income, or become the primary breadwinner if necessary.

Finances are one of the most important aspects of marriage, it touches so many other areas of life. Where you live, what you own, and how many kids you have can all depend on money. It isn’t something to ignore. When the time comes for a courtship, having open and honest dialog about spending, saving, and earning money habits can go a long way in a having a healthy marriage. During this time of singleness, don’t be idle or wasteful, spend money wisely, save regularly, and earn creatively.

  1. What are some of your needs, and your wants?
  2. How much debt do you have, how can you pay it off?
  3. How can you save more and earn more?

Challenge: Create a monthly budget for yourself.

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Trusting

Trustworthy people are vital to us. Think of the relationships you have and what you feel around someone you trust. I know that when I’m around my loved ones, I feel comfortable, secure, safe, and open. Ideally every relationship would look this way, family, friends, co-workers, and significant others. The reality is, many people can’t be trusted. Too many of us, especially young women, lie, gossip, and manipulate. Are these the actions of a trustworthy person? Are these the actions of a good wife?

Out of the three things listed above (lying, gossiping, and manipulating), lying is the easiest to recognize, understand, and stop. It’s the other two we re going to go more in depth with. Shall we start with gossip? I used to be a huge gossip girl, it was one of my worst character flaws. What made it even worse, was that I didn’t care I was hurting others, nor did I realize I was gossiping. There are often sins we don’t realize we are committing because we do them all the time. This is when a well formed conscience is vital. Gossip is always wrong and should be avoided because it not only damages our relationships with others, but also with God. Here are few tips to help you stop gossiping:

  • Pray: Ask God for his grace to show you when you are gossiping. Recognizing when you are doing something wrong is the first step toward making a change in behavior. Because this behavior has been part of your life for so long, you need the Lord’s gift of self-awareness and humility to recognize when you may be saying something unnecessarily.
  • T.H.I.N.K.: I’ve always been told to think before I speak. Unfortunately I’m not very good at that. I’m a bit of a talker and tend to ramble about non-sense. I also never really considered what I should be thinking about until I started working with children. I saw a picture on Pinterest that a preschool teacher was using to help the kids be nice to each other. It works with adults too: Before you speak, T.H.I.N.K.
    Truthful: is it truthful?
    Helpful: is it helpful?
    Intelligent: is what you are about to say smart and appropriate at this time?
    Necessary: is this comment essential?
    Kind: is this story kind to all the people involved (the speaker, the listener, and any third parties)?

When we take the time to run through this list, I found I talk a lot less about other people. Generally the Lord tugs at my heart when it comes to the necessary and kind. Try using this next time you want to talk about someone.

Now let’s talk about manipulation. It comes in many shapes, sizes, and colors. This is one I continue to struggle with. A few of the ways I tend to manipulate others is through puppy dog eyes, a soft smile, and baked goods. Because I have a history of unchecked manipulation, I may become one of those wives that withholds sex because my husband won’t take out the trash. 1 Corinthians 7 would strongly object to that. The thing of it is, what we practice as single women is what we will practice as married women. I praise God that he has shown me that I can be a manipulator now so I have time to correct my behavior before he chooses to bless me with a a husband. The biggest problem with manipulation is that it is extreme pride at its core. It is the thought that I need something from the other person so I’m going to do something to get it. I’m using people as objects for my own personal gain which is completely against God and neighbor. The love Christ calls us to cannot be found when we manipulate people. How do we combat manipulation? Here are a couple tips:

  • See God in others: We are all made in the image of God so search for him in the people around you.
  • Humble yourself: Before you do or say something, consider how you would feel in that situation. How would you feel if you knew you were being manipulated by someone, and used for their own personal gain, not to help you?

A man must be able to trust his wife in all things. He needs to know she won’t blab his personal information to the neighbors, she won’t spend all the money on new shoes, and that she isn’t trying to trick him. People often divorce because trust has somehow been broken. As single women, we have the privilege of growing more trustworthy before we present ourselves to a husband on our wedding day.

  1. Would your friends and family call  you trustworthy?
  2. Are you good with money and secrets?
  3. What can you do to become a more trustworthy person?

Challenge: Today, try THINKing before you speak.

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