Time Well Spent

For ME time well spent is doing any one of the following:

* Walking/ Running
* Praying
* Reading and growing my mind
* Spending quality time with family and friends
* Meaningful conversations
* Learning something new (recently it was how to make cupcakes & icing from scratch!)
* Reading to my 6-year old
* Doing my daughter’s hair
* Baking cookies (chocolate chip)
* Going on retreat & finding time daily for silence
* Finding cheap fun attractions
* Volunteering

Write down the things you consider to be a positive use of your time, things that bring you peace and enjoyment and don’t forget to schedule time in your calendar to do these things often.

I chaperoned a field trip to the zoo last week w/these 2 cute boys – Time Well Spent 😉

Tips for Individual Day of Prayer Retreat

I’m so excited to have finally gone on retreat. You see when I was a girl attending a Catholic school retreat was a normal part of our vocabulary. I remember one fun retreat with my classmates to Covington, Louisiana in the 8th grade before our Sacrament of Confirmation. That was a long time ago, however the need to get away and spend time with God has always been a strong desire of my heart. I have daily devotions at home but I’ll be honest, I’m easily distracted by the guy outside cutting the grass and the baby in the apartment across from me crying. A retreat center offers you a great measure of solitude because they’re usually nestled away from the noise and distractions of daily living. The only noise I encountered was that of birds and other animals roaming about the grounds. It was very peaceful. Retreating is also a biblical principle. Jesus often went away from the others to pray to Our Father. It’s good for your soul to detach yourself from the worries of this world and retreat.

Anyway, here are a few tips for an Individual Day of Prayer Retreat

1. Many retreat centers are Catholic but anyone of any faith can use them. I am no longer Catholic but I felt very comfortable and welcomed by the staff at the center. You can also have a retreat in a motel room, beach, woods…you name it.  My retreat costs $35.00 for the day (8 a.m.-4 p.m.) and it included my private room, free roam of the grounds and lunch. I added an extra $5.00 as a donation. I thought of going to a B&B but they cost three times as much.  Retreat centers are usually affordable and some only ask for a donation.

2. Plan for your retreat the night before. I ironed my clothes and set aside my bible and writing materials so that I wouldn’t be rushed in the morning. Dress comfortably. My room was very cool so next time I will bring a light sweater. I also wore flip flops but would have been more comfortable in sneakers since I spent a lot of time walking the grounds and praying.

Besides planning physically be sure to plan spiritually. Make a list of the people and causes you purpose to pray for during your retreat.

3. Pray on your drive to the retreat. I said a simple prayer asking God for a good retreat and that the Holy Spirit opens my heart up during the experience.

4. Bring water. There were water fountains in the center and even a vending machine but my large water bottle was quite sufficient.

5. I found this tip on another site and it really helped. It stated to have a verse or promise you to memorize so that when your mind wanders during praying or meditating you repeat that verse to bring you back on track. My verse was “God maintains my right and cause.” Pslam 9:4.

6. Enjoy the experience and congratulate yourself for making the time to do something so important for your spirit. The bible states that God looks down from heaven upon the sons (and daughters) of men to see if there is one who seeks Him (Psalm 53). I’m so glad when he looks down and sees ME seeking HIM.

Retreat Part I
Retreat Part II

Retreat Part II

Front of Cenacle Retreat house

I didn’t arrive at the retreat center until 10:20 a.m. and was quickly led to my room which was quaint and simply decorated. There was a bed (many people on a retreat like to take spiritual naps :), desk, sink, towels and a comfy chair facing the window with a lovely view of the greenery. 

Before I go on to the tour of the center I have to share how IN-TUNED God is to me and what I’m going through. On the desk was a magazine and on the cover was the word I loathe the most because it has plagued me this past year like NEVER before in my entire life. The word was VULNERABILITY. There it was, God speaking to me again and letting me know that HE knows how I’ve been feeling and HE’S got me covered. I was so moved by that and wouldn’t you know someone left an insert on how one’s emotional needs can only be met by God and not man inside of the book?

Vulnerability – a feeling I dislike immensely

I was given a tour of the grounds which included a parlor on the floor of my room, a rooftop area with seats and lounge chairs also overlooking the beautiful scenery, library, chapel, and cafeteria. After the tour, I returned to my room, turned off my cell phone and took off my watch. I didn’t want any reminders of time. 

I spent some time on my knees praying and then I walked the peaceful grounds where squirrels scurried across the grass and even pelicans flew above. The retreat center is located right by Lake Pontchartrain. There were so many beautiful trees and the grass, although cut, was still very thick. I should have worn sneakers instead of flip-flops – the only negative. 

I was the only person at the retreat center doing a day of prayer, therefore, I was by my lonesome in the cafeteria as well. A little old lady wheeled over a cart with my lunch which consisted of broccoli cheddar soup, toasted circular bread, salad, chocolate eclairs for dessert, iced tea and water. She went over to the radio and turned on a classical music c.d. and left me in perfect peace. The music, ambiance, the atmosphere was all so peaceful and overwhelming I nearly cried. (I guess my eyes were already dried out from crying earlier – you see I get REAL emotional when I lay it all out before my Awesome, Forgiving and Loving Father).

After lunch I walked the grounds and even climbed the levee to look at the lake. It was so nice out and oh so quiet. I found a small garden with the stations of the cross and smiled inside. I had wanted to meditate on the cross and here was my chance. There HE was again making sure to fulfill my heart’s desire as the psalm says.  As I slowly moved past each station I felt emotion building up in me again at this perfect sinless Jesus loving me soooo very much that he took my sins upon him to the point of death. 

The triangular wooden structures each have a station of the cross beneath it. There were many places to sit and reflect on the grounds.

I returned to my room and spent the last thirty minutes praying for me. I’ll share that my constant prayer is that God works in me, through me and mold me into the woman HE desires me to be. 

I took many pictures of the grounds but unfortunately, my camera has a mind of its own and only five pictures remain. 😦 However, if you’re interested in viewing the grounds you can look here online.

My Birthday Party/ Fundraiser

Getting started

I was inspired by NikStar to have a Paint Party after reading about her fun experience recently. I wanted to make this party more than just a typical birthday celebration and was able to accomplish this by turning it into a fundraiser for the New Orleans Women’s Shelter thanks to New Orleans Paint n Party. I volunteer at NOWS once a week and thought this would be a great way for us to support a worthy cause and give back to our community.

Needless to say that when the girls get together with cupcakes, fruit, wine and Beyonce on blast, a fun time will be had by all! One of my friends commented how this was so out of her comfort zone but she was glad that she came and had a good time. Sometimes you have to try and do something different. This is how we grow as individuals and women.

In addition to FUN we raised almost $300.00 for the shelter and the ladies brought donations of clothing, shoes and toiletries for the women as well!!!! #myGIRLSrock

Fleur de lis
Finished! Pelican, oysters, shrimp, blue crab, tabasco & fleur de lis – NOLA
Receiving a check for New Orleans Women’s Shelter

After painting we went for dinner at Camellia’s Grill – VERY yum food and from what I’ve been told you can’t go wrong ordering anything off the menu. They also serve breakfast all day! Since we were right on St. Charles Ave. we hopped on the streetcar and ended the night like tourist!

I love my city!

In conclusion, I had a wonderful birthday weekend with my friends. My insides are still smiling.

New Orleans African American Museum

When you say African-American AND history my interest is immediately peaked. There is a list of things I’d like to do now that I’m back in my hometown and visiting the Nola A.A. museum in historic Treme was tops on my list.

I love these old cottages & all that was missing were the rocking chairs and glasses of sweet iced tea.
Historic cottage

One rainy morning last week my friend and I had a “Girls DAY out” and visited the museum. We did a self-tour of the exhibits and one that really impressed me was of a beautiful bedroom suite made in the 1800’s by a free man of color named Barjon. Barjon gave the suite to his daughter for her 16th birthday and she was said to have kept it until her death. It was absolutely gorgeous. The family ran a successful furniture making business and the pieces were exquisitely crafted. Unfortunately, pictures were not allowed but I did sneak a shot next to Marie Laveau, famous voodoo queen.

Aunt Marie taught me my mojo 😉
There are two additional cottages on the property with exhibits open for viewing as well as slave quarters that are not for touring.

After the museum, we had lunch at the famous Lil Dizzy’s cafe located around the corner where I enjoyed a spicy shrimp salad.