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Catholic Book Review: “God’s Bucket List” by Teresa Tomeo

Catholic Book by Teresa TomeoTrying to give your live over to God? Start by taking at look at your bucket list! It’s probably filled with trips, challenges, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences, but is God on there?

Teresa Tomeo‘s new book “God’s Bucket List” is a fun and entertaining way to help you start to focus less on self and more on God and begin the process of letting go and letting God! Available on November 5, the book considers what if God had a bucket list for each one of us and if he did, what would be on it?

Tomeo, who is the popular host of Catholic Connection on Catholic Radio weekdays at 9 a.m. and of the Catholic View for Women currently in its third season on EWTN (airs Wednesdays at 11 p.m.), takes a light-hearted yet thoughtful look in her latest book at the idea that we need to toss our own to-do list and start to follow God’s. She describes here in the introduction to the book the concept behind “God’s Bucket List“:

“…What if we suppose that besides all these things that you want to do in your life before you pass on to the next, God has a bucket list for you, an agenda of adventures He wants you to experience, ways of living before you die? … This book is about that what if question. This book is also about, well, me and my struggles to figure out what God might want from me before I kick the proverbial bucket. I tell the stories that follow in the hopes that there may be something in my life that mirrors your own and that I can be a helpful hand during uncertain times or a warm smile when you feel like life might be getting the best of you.”

In this book, filled with personal stories from Tomeo that will likely make you laugh out loud (if you listen to her on the radio or watch her on TV, you’ll hear her voice shine right through!), she shares her own struggle to hand God the keys to her life. She had always dreamed of being a successful television journalist since she was a child (you could say it was her No. 1 Bucket List item), and in the first 20 years of her career, she fulfilled that dream. But God had other plans for her.

She lost her prominent anchor position in Detroit and was forced to rethink her life. While she did return to her Catholic roots with help from her husband, she still felt herself hanging on to control about what SHE wanted to do with her life. She says, “If God was still driving this bus, it was time for me to really let go of the wheel.”

When she did, she ultimately found herself as a Catholic journalist, speaker, author and evangelizer, successful beyond anything she could have dreamed with national radio and TV shows, the author of numerous books  and a sought-after speaker around the country. She even recently participated in the Pontifical Council for the Family at the Vatican as an invited speaker and ate her meals in the dining hall just a few tables over from Pope Francis. Wow!

Tomeo says in the book that if we take a moment to think about what’s on our personal bucket list, most of these items are about sensation and pleasure and ME. Where is the spiritual side of things? It’s time to stop thinking about what I want and instead consider and discern what God wants. There we will find abundance beyond measure. She says, “The key to this grand way of living life is submitting to God’s version of fulfillment and abundance instead of insisting He bless, approve and put the final stamp on our version of things.”

Letting go and giving my life over to God is something I’ve recently come to terms with after choosing to Consecrate myself to Jesus through Mary. In doing so, I basically turned my life over to Mary, who will in turn guide me in doing her Son’s will in all things and also lead me in the quickest, most efficient way to Him.

This is not an easy thing to do, but I can tell you the peace and joy it has brought me is beyond measure. There is just something about letting go of control and handing the reigns over to someone else (God and our Blessed Mother, no less) that takes away so much stress. Even when bad things happen, you can say to yourself, “OK, Mary/God, you’re in control, so I know this is your doing and it’s happening for a reason. Give me courage and steadfastness to follow your path.”

I’ve tried to stop focusing on me quite so much, ie “I want to do this; I don’t want to do this” or what makes me feel good or bad, and instead try to remember I’m here to do God’s will, not please myself. It truly relieves much stress and disappointment, as you can let go of feelings like “I didn’t get what I wanted!,” and brings greater fulfillment. But it’s a process to get there and truly let go, and “God’s Bucket List” is a good way to light that fire within you.

In the book, Tomeo lists 8 bucket list items that might be on God’s bucket list for us, including:

  • Live with Stillness
  • Live your Passion
  • Live with Instruction
  • Live in the Mess
  • Live with Understanding
  • Live by Confession
  • Live the Good Life
  • Live like You’re Loved

See anything you need to work on? I plan to delve into these a little more in detail down the road and share my experience with them in my first year of being Catholic.

One last note, the book has a special offer available through 10/31/13. If you buy one, you get a second copy free. It’s a great reason to get one for yourself and then share one with a friend or family member. It would make a great gift or even a book group selection. You can take advantage of the deal here.

What do you think would be on God’s bucket list for you? Give it some thought :); it’ll change your perspective!

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Let God Mess Up Your Plans and You Just Might Get Some Unexpected Surprises

Teresa Tomeo

Me and Teresa at St. Boniface in Lafayette, Indiana

I wanted to share with all my readers one amazing example of God’s blessings that have poured down on me since beginning the process of Total Consecration to Mary. Although it’s been only a few months, I still am flabbergasted by this one event.

I am a writer and public relations professional by trade and run my own business. I’ve been through many ups and downs with my business, and I am now seeing it wasn’t until I let go of MY plans for my life and career that God began his work in me. I once had aspirations of growing and running a large company with many employees, but situation after situation has revealed to me that’s not what would bring me happiness or fulfillment.

Around this time last year, I came to grips with what God was trying to show me. I took a big step and handed over some current work that was not fulfilling or bringing me joy to a fellow co-worker to instead focus on the things that were fulfilling and bringing me happiness. It’s not easy to GIVE UP work, let me tell you. But I felt very called to do so, and as soon as I did it, I knew it was the right thing. Slowly, I’ve delved more into work that aligns with my Catholic values and that I feel called to do.

Earlier this summer, I began in earnest to get to know Our Lady better and I came across a pamphlet for Total Consecration in our Blessed Sacrament chapel. I was curious, so I looked up St. Louis de Monfort and read a couple of his books. After much study and hearing Gary Zimak on Catholic Connection with Teresa Tomeo mention he was going to lead a group through Consecration via his podcast, I was sold. Even before we started the preparation, I began daily, as a trial, offering up the merits of all my actions, goods and works to Mary for her safekeeping and distribution.

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been listening to Catholic Radio Indy and came to really enjoy Teresa Tomeo’s drive time (9-10 a.m.) show every morning. As soon as I dropped my kids off at school, I’d tune in and listen to a Catholic perspective on the news of the day and learn about new books and Catholic teachings from all the great people she interviewed.

One day, I went to her website and saw she had her own PR/communications firm… Hmmm… So all summer long, I toyed with the idea that maybe I should try to email her just to see if she might need any freelance help. But I thought that was a total long shot. Well, finally in August, the calling was so strong, I just up and did it. Lo and behold, she emailed me back within the hour, saying yes indeed they needed some help and they were especially interested in my experience working with non-Catholic media and particularly with travel journalists. That was a hole her team was just saying they needed to fill!

I about fell off my chair.  (Side note: I prayed to Mary before sending the email and praised God when I got this response back. Never hurts to send an important email off with a prayer attached!) After talking with the head of her team of communications professionals, they added me to their team and I am now working on projects that match my values and further the spread of the Catholic faith. What a blessing!! Every project is bathed in prayer for whomever we are working with and we get to share and talk about topics that we’d be discussing anyway. I can’t think of any other work I’d rather be doing.

Just last weekend, Teresa spoke at a parish in Lafayette, Ind., near mine and so I had the opportunity to meet her in person, hear her entire story live and assist her with selling, signing books and more throughout the day. I still cannot believe I was helping Teresa Tomeo, whom I listen to on the radio every day! I’ll share more about her talk in a future blog, as it was incredibly inspiring.

So my point here is this. Give your life up to God and amazing things will happen. It’s not all going to be pleasant, because we all know that God calls us to suffering, as well, but it will all be satisfying and fulfilling and likely bring you things beyond your imagining.

As Pope Francis recently said: “God always surprises us, he overturns our categories, he wreaks havoc with our plans. And he tells us: Trust me, do not be afraid, let yourself be surprised, leave yourself behind and follow me!” This was certainly one of God’s joyful surprises for me. Thanks for messing up my plans, God :).

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