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Spotlight on Author Amy Smith

Today, Amy speaks to us about trust, feminine genuis and Jane Austen’s prayers. There is also a special Easter recipe included!

Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: It’s always Jeremiah 29:11 because of its hope-filled promise: “For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”

Spiritual growth focus at the moment: Resting in Christ, striving to live this quote: “I must strive to make the interior of my soul a resting place for the Heart of Jesus.” — St. Faustina Kowalska.

Profession/Mission: Catholic journalist; I edit and write about everything from saints to Jane Austen.

Tell us about The Plans God Has for You: My book, based on Jeremiah 29:11, focuses on living hopefully. “Hopeful Lessons for Young Women” is the subtitle because I wanted to offer encouragement, reassuring young women that God has “a future with hope” in store for all of us.

How would you describe Jesus? Christ our hope.

“Christ our hope.”

How has your relationship with Him changed you? He has been moving me to trust Him more and more. God always shows up as only he can: in the answer to prayer just when we need it, an unexpected blessing or comfort needed. As I write in my book, “We can get scared to abandon our lives to God because we like to have control, but only when we trust God and not ourselves can we see God’s great love reflected in His plan.”

Growing in trust, of course, entails bringing all that is on our hearts to Him: work stresses, relationships, what brings us joy as well as sorrow.

“Growing in trust, of course, entails bringing all that is on our hearts to Him: work stresses, relationships, what brings us joy as well as sorrow.”

What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? I have been reflecting on the feminine genius of late: how tenderness of heart is so key and the importance of keeping people in prayer and practically taking care of others; as I note in my book: “Mother Mary was the heart of her household, offering love and hospitality.” May we do likewise.

Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): I’m slowly rereading Persuasion. Anne Elliot is such a kindred spirit: She exhibits the feminine genius in so many ways. Jane Austen’s lovely words and characters are timeless; I am grateful for her keen insights into human nature and life and love. And an added note: Miss Austen’s prayers are worth praying.

Here are a couple of excerpts:

“We thank Thee with all our hearts for every gracious dispensation, for all the blessings that have attended to our lives, for every hour of safety, health and peace, of domestic comfort and innocent enjoyment.”

“Give us a thankful sense of the blessings in which we live.”

Top three essentials: Faith, family and flowers

Hobby: Baking and cooking; I’m a bit of a scone enthusiast.

Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong:

Make time for prayerful dates with Jesus. I especially like praying over morning coffee. Journaling is helpful too, I’ve found, to reflect on how God is moving. I note in my book, “Gratitude is a beautiful way to see how God is working in your life.” We need to take time for prayerful reflection, for “Jesus is always there, in the midst of everything, ready to comfort us. […] Often, answers come in the course of daily events, conversations, or circumstances.”

And we need space to listen to Jesus in ordinary moments, which is often hard to do amid work and other obligations.

“In savoring the goodness of life, we gain a new perspective on the life we have. We can see the blessings around us, which is essential to understanding God’s past work in our lives so that we can be ready to move forward in trust, confident that we are doing His will. Appreciating life is vital to living fully, loving others, and being the best person God created you to be.”

Also look to Mother Mary (one of Our Lady’s titles is Our Lady of Hope). “Her motherly love and heart compel her to come to our aid,” as I write in my book. “Mary is the greatest role model [for women]. She can help us become holy and grow closer to Jesus. Her prayers on our behalf are priceless.”

In addition, seek the inercession of the saints, who show us the way. They accompany us with whatever we are going through. I am so grateful for their holy help and feel close to them. And they are ever ready to assist us when we need encouragement. They come to our aid when we seek their support for difficulties and prayers for loved ones and ourselves. They are happy for us when we recognize God’s blessings in our lives. Most of all, they show us the way to heaven. Sts. Thérèse and Gianna are my favorite saints. My favorite saint quote comes from St. Gianna: “Live holy the present moment.” Isn’t that a lovely goal to strive for? That helps me live hopefully, especially when crosses come.

Favorite person in Scripture: Mother Mary: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). I also like to meditate on Luke 2:19: “Mary kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” Mary always points us to Jesus and goes to the cross and hopes, showing us that we can too.

What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? That living hopefully is possible because of Jesus. That doesn’t mean that everything is hopeful each minute, but that, no matter what is going on in our lives, what crosses or comforts, our Risen Lord is there to help us and guide us. That is true hope.

A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Easter lamb cake; we use my great-grandma’s pound cake recipe, which is included in my book and shared below:

*Makes one bundt cake, two loaves, or two lamb cake molds

1 lb.butter (4 sticks), softened

2 c. sugar

8 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. salt (add only if using unsalted butter)

3 c. flour (just shy of, do not be exact)

1 tsp. baking powder

Cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer in a large mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking powder (and salt, if needed) with a wire whisk. Add the eggs (one or two at a time) to the creamed butter and sugar, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla, then gradually blend in the flour mixture, scraping the sides of the bowl often. Mix well after the final flour has been added. Pour batter into greased pan(s). Bake approximately 40 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy! Happy Easter!

What does your morning routine consist of? Morning prayer, including the Memorare, to start my day, and prayerful coffee time before checking email, editing and morning meetings.

What is on your nightstand? Jeremiah 29:11, framed, of course.

Define Christianity in a sentence: Walking hopefully with Jesus, bolstered by the intercession of Mother Mary and our friends the saints.

For more Amy:

Until next time, keep witnessing!

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