…and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” Matthew 1:23
I don’t know about you, but I love those little “life hack” videos that pop up on my newsfeed. Things like putting hot glue dots on your hangers to keep slippery closes from falling off or 20 ways to organize junk, using random items around the house. Granted, some of them are pretty ridiculous but most of them come from folks who are way smarter and more creative than I am so I find myself watching and saying, “Seriously, that is awesome, why didn’t I think of that!” My mind likes simple, efficient and logical so if someone wants to pass along a little of that I’m gonna soak it up!
What I really love though, is when someone can give me some “life hacks” for my discipleship! Sometimes I can try to do 40 things at once to try to be holier and wind up in a tail spin. That’s usually when I get discouraged and feel like I’ll never be “good” enough to get to heaven. I’m getting better at promptly stopping that kind of thinking and calling it out for what it is…discouragement and we all know who throws that up in our face! That’s when we need to stop and say “Oh No…not today satan! You messed with the wrong disciple!” I know that no matter how crooked my path gets or how twisted around I become, as long as my heart is headed in HIS direction he’s gonna grab my hand and put me on his path if I call out for guidance. It’s like DIVINE GPS. (I’m pretty sure GPS stand for Gods Perfect Strategy) My discipleship and my path to holiness often looks like a fish floppin around on the bank, so anytime I can find a quick “something” to snap me back and return me to water, I’m happy. I found a little something that does just that so I thought I’d share. Like all those great tips and tricks we find on the “inter-webs” this isn’t mine but if it’s helpful, it’s worth sharing so…thanks to no work of my own…here ya go!
It begins with reminding ourselves of a simple fact. Since we were created in the image and likeness of God, then he’s always in us and with us. In short, we don’t need to do a lot of hard fancy stuff to get his attention because we never leave his gaze. I can’t hide from him so I can never really be lost. It’s simple but I can’t count the number of times I forget that. Remembering that is step one, step two is remembering the word WIT. This teeny word can lead us to holiness and save us from bad decisions, stupid actions and regrettable words. Here’s how it works. Jesus, live this day (or this moment; or this event; or this situation) WITH me; Live it IN me; Live itTHROUGH me. If you want the quicker version, at that split second when we’re about to gossip or lie or judge or lip off impatiently, or be afraid, what if we stopped long enough to say “Jesus, with me, in me and through me!” I’m pretty darn sure what would happen next would be a much better outcome. I spend a lot of prayer time telling him how sorry I am for all the stupid stuff I do and say and think. If I put the WIT prayer in action I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have a lot more time for saying prayers of gratitude!
A Seed To Plant: Write down the words to the WIT prayer and put it a few places you’ll notice and ask God to help you make it a frequent prayer in your day.
Blessings on your day!
Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. Hebrews 12:14
I suppose most of us have a list. Some call it a bucket list, others may call it a list of short and long term goal and for others is may simply be a wish list to keep tucked in the drawer or in the back of your mind. Whatever you call it, I have something we should add. This particular item should not only be added to the long term, someday list but also to the task list we make each day. It’s so important it just can’t wait another day and we have to get into the practice of giving it specific attention. What is it, you might be wondering…
We need to be holy. Holiness isn’t just something for sweet old ladies or monks and nuns who spend their days in silent contemplative prayer. Holiness is something for each of us…today…every day. It’s something to become and it’s something to talk about. I got a gift for Christmas. Actually a few hundred of my good friends got the same gift. It was a book by Matthew Kelly called The Biggest Lie In The History Of Christianity. It’s a great read, and easy read, and an important read. One of the sections that grabbed my attention was the chapter when he spoke about being holy. Somewhere pop culture snuck in and we became afraid to let our desire to be holy show or grow.
I would like to share one simple and powerful strategy he laid out for each of us that can help us embrace and grow our holy. He suggests not re-vamping our entire life and running off to a convent or monastery, but rather to have a “Holy Moment” today. He describes that as a moment when you silently stop and do one thing God is guiding you to do. It might be moment of silent prayer when you’re prompted to be still. It might be a simple action or reaction that is inspired by God and not by our desires. It’s just a moment when we stop, shut up and let God be in charge of us. It might mean not snapping back or acting with mercy instead of judgement. It might mean calmly letting someone cut in front of us without getting into a huff; realizing there may be an important reason that driver is in such a hurry. Mr. Kelly suggests that if we strive for just one holy moment a day, we may soon discover that we have several and when we begin to include them in our days we begin to see God working in our days and before we know it there are dozens of holy moments each day and then change really begins to happen. Just a moment, that’s how it starts. That’s how we begin to grow in holiness and that is exactly what God has planned for us to be.
The book is wonderful so if you got it for Christmas read it. If you read it give your copy to someone who hasn’t and if all else fails, order it for yourself. Being holy should be the number one thing on our to-do list so let today be the day you strive for your first Holy Moment!
A Seed To Plant: Ask God to lead you to a holy moment today. Share it with someone and pass on the holy moment challenge.
Blessings on your day!
And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. John 8:32
I’m away from home this week and the pace is much slower and more peaceful than a regular week. As a result of that a slower pace, my writing brain seems to be running slower too so I had just a few thoughts I wanted to share today. These thoughts are compliments of the amazing Deacon Ralph Poyo. They are short but mighty statements that hit me right in the heart; perhaps they’ll make you think a bit too!
**The world fills us so full, we're not hungry for God.
**Temptation is an invitation to leave the truth and enter deception.
**We're trusting Him for eternity but not for earth.
A Seed To Plant: As you sit in prayer this week, carefully ponder those three sentences and ask God to show you how they fit in your life.
Blessings on your day!
So they asked him, “What are you then?”… John 1:21
I was traveling recently and the hotel stay required a several floor elevator ride. Every time I got in it, I was the only passenger so there was nothing to distract me which would have been nice because all 4 walls of the elevator were mirrors. Each time I glanced up to see which floor I was on all I saw was my reflection. Each time I caught a glimpse of myself, I thought of this question from John’s gospel. The questions asked of John go from WHO are you to WHAT are you. The second one seems a bit strange at first glance don’t you think? But when we take a good look at our discipleship, the second question becomes very important.
If someone asks “who are you” I might be quick to respond with things like; Shannon’s mom, Dave’s wife, Brandt’s teacher or Tina’s friend. I tend to focus on what I do to describe who I am. But if someone asks “what are you” it causes me to look at my vocation. What am I? I am God’s daughter. I am a Saint in the making. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am a living example of God’s love for all his children. In all honesty, my “what” needs some work! There are even times when I think about the person asking and wonder “what do they want me to be?” The problem with that kind of thinking is there is really only one opinion that matters and that isn’t always the one I seek first.
John was very honest and direct. He did not pretend to be someone or something he wasn’t. There is certainly a lesson there for me. This Gospel is the perfect reminder that what I really am, is HIS! I don’t have to pretend to be who or what the world would find impressive. Today is the day to speak the truth like John and realize what I am; God’s Beloved Daughter, and that is absolutely more than enough.
A Seed To Plant: What are you? Take a few minutes to make that list, looking through the Fathers eyes.
Blessings on your day!
God is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in distress. Psalm 46:1
Have you ever put something away in that “safe place” that you were sure was the perfect, logical spot only to spend a big chunk of time trying to recall just where that perfect spot was? I can’t even count the number of times I’ve muttered while searching high and low for that thing I put in the perfect place that I was sure to remember! It’s frustrating isn’t it! Very often when I do finally find it I think, “What on earth were you thinking…that wasn’t logical or memorable in the least!” I’m really glad I don’t have to search for God that hard, or find the perfect spot to store his love and affection.
So many times when I feel overwhelmed or pulled in too many directions I call out to God like he’s lost or something. “Dear God…where are you…I’m choking here…HELLO!!!” or “Hey God…woman in trouble here; can world peace wait a few minutes, I need you right now please!” I saw a cartoon featuring Mr. Magoo talking to a lamp post like it was a real person and it was so ridiculous it was funny. I wasn’t laughing so hard when I realized sometimes that must be what God feels like when he sees us throwing a hissy fit or calling out to him impatiently as if he’s on a long lunch and not fully aware of each and every one of our needs.
I’m not sure how many more years I need to wander this earth before I fully wrap my head around the fact that our God does not charge in on a white horse nor does he rein down thunder and lightning each time we call out his name for help. He is a God who comes in the quiet, like a still, small whisper. He doesn’t get lost, he doesn’t ignore, and he doesn’t come a minute too soon or a minute too late. The only walls I need him to bust down are the walls of my heart so I can trust, listen, love and hope harder each day. I don’t need to go around muttering to lamp posts or other inanimate objects expecting them to talk back, I just need to speak to Him in the quiet and know he hears me instantly. I don’t have to hide his contact information or keep him in a corner compartment “on hold” for when I might need him, I know where he is, I know that he hears me, I know that God is present even if all I hear is silence. After all, peace doesn’t mean trouble is absent, it means God is present; without even tracking him down. I think I just needed to remember he is ever present and ever so easy to find. Maybe you needed that reminder today too.
A Seed To Plant: For 10 minutes; just be still and listen for the whisper!
Blessings on your day!
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Philippians 4:4
This verse is one of those “feel good” verses I like to spit out when I’m happy and things are going well. I’m getting better and better at calling out in thanks for every good thing. It’s been a consciences effort over the past many months to really remind myself to thank him and recognize the million moments when he’s working powerfully in my life. Lately though I’ve been asked to look at this verse through a different lens.
The truth about this verse is that it was written by St. Paul. The hit me over the head truth of this verse is that it was written while he was in prison awaiting his martyrdom. From the darkness, the squalor, the stench, the most unfortunate, uncomfortable and undeserved location, he cried out for us to rejoice as he was at that very moment. He didn’t say it once, but twice; rejoice! Now, I’ve been in some pretty dark, complicated, painful spots but I’ve got nothin to compare to this…not even close. Praying with this verse has brought to mind some things I need to remember about rejoicing, especially when it’s the last thing on my mind.
Being a disciple means saying YES to God. When we say yes, it’s usually because we want to grow closer to him and experience his powerful grace. We sign up for the good stuff! How conveniently and quickly we forget about the hard or bad that comes with the good. God shows us how this works in his creation again and again. He put thorns with roses and cobs with sweet corn and mosquitos with summer. We’ve lived it and seen it dozens of times but we are always shocked when the suffering and hardship come. The Apostles said yes to Jesus and talk about a roller-coaster ride that yes was. Every one of them endured trial, hardship, persecution and all but one faced martyrdom. Amazingly, they all listed to Paul and did it all while rejoicing, and for what? For eternal peace, freedom and absolute perfection.
These thoughts served as a sort of “buck up butter-cup” kind of experience in Adoration a couple of weeks ago. I was lamenting about people who were sick and troubles and woes we are facing as a community, a church and as a nation. Wouldn’t you know it, this was exactly the verse he led me to. When I look at all the stuff I was made heavy-hearted by, I realized I have absolutely no control over any of it and the only thing I could do was lift it up to him and rejoice! Rejoice not that these things were happening, but rejoice because I trust he’s working in all of it.
Embracing hardship cheerfully isn’t something we generally put on our daily to-do list but I suppose it really should be. Following St. Paul’s advice in his letter to the Philippians I decided to give it a try. I have a really bum knee and long walks through the airport and standing to deliver an all day training is pretty awful. Last week when I went to Texas, I parked my car at at the airport and said, “Lord, I thank you for this lousy hurting knee. I will praise you and rejoice in the pain and I offer this suffering to you. I rejoice in the pain in the hopes that you will bless someone in great need with the pain I offer you.” And of course because I can be sassy, I added, “And Lord, If I’m gonna stand and do one evening and two full days of training, I need you to take some of the pain away during those hours. If you could part the Red Sea, I know you can manage the pain for a couple days.” It was sort of an experiment but he was so faithful and mighty and lovingly answered my prayer. Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit I rejoiced when it didn’t hurt so much and then again when I got home and it did. His power is overwhelming! Give it a try, rejoice in the middle of something awful or painful that’s going on in your life. He will be waiting to meet you in the middle of it.
A Seed To Plant: Make a list of all the things going on in your life that are hard to rejoice in. Write or say the words; Lord, help me rejoice in_____.
Blessings on your day!
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8
Saint Augustine had a way of "telling it like it is"! He didn't mince words or beat around the bush he just cut to the chase and taught it like it was. Once he gave a sermon in which he proposed a kind of self-test to see if we truly love God; Suppose God proposed you a deal and said “I will give you anything you want. You can possess the whole world. Nothing will be impossible for you…nothing will be a sin, nothing forbidden. You will never die, never have pain, never have anything you do not want and always have anything you do want….except for one thing; you will never see my face.” St. Augustine closed with a question; did a chill arise in your hearts, when you heard the words, “You will never see my face”? That chill is the most precious thing in you; that is the pure love of God.
Every time I read the wise words of this story I get such a wave of desire…desire to try harder to be holy! I realize after reading St. Augustine’s words I have a renewed sense of purpose…a new strength…a new hope. I think we work so hard at doing the “right thing” maybe we forget just what we’re working for. It’s easy to get into the habit of doing good things so others will think we’re “nice”. In the words of our former parish priest, Fr. James, “nowhere in the bible are we called to be nice!” We are called to be holy, called to be uncomfortable, called to realize sometimes the Gospel’s hit us sideways…and that’s ok! We are called to do the hard work of following Christ…being His hands and feet on earth and that, as we all know, isn’t always easy. There are days, when that offer from God St. Augustine talked about seems like a great idea! Those are the times we need to set out with new energy to do His work and know it isn’t without great blessing and reward.
I read this story tonight and then I told the room full of teenagers listening, “Our number one task is to get to heaven! Everything we do, say, listen to, watch and everyone we hang out with will either help us get there, or draw us away so pay attention!” The temptation is there to think one little thing here or there won’t matter but it’s still a step away from our task. The most powerful thing I can think of to make those decisions easier is to remember what’s waiting for us in heaven…the face of God. That’s something worth fighting for…that trumps everything! We just have to remember it!
A Seed To Plant: Print the words to St. Augustine’s sermon and read them every day this week. I’m willing to bet if you let them really sink into your heart, living the Gospel message will have a new meaning!
Blessings on your day!
“For behold, I have made you small among the nations…” Jeremiah 49:15
Here’s a little fun fact for you. Each tower of the Golden Gate Bridge contains more than 600,000 rivets. That’s a lot of rivets! Now you may be wondering what on earth that has to do with anything but if you read a little further it may have a lot to do with you! This little tidbit of seemingly unimportant information grabbed my attention when it was followed by the phrase, “and not one of them does something on it’s own.”
Each rivet is absolutely important but not a single one of them demands recognition for the job they do. I’d never look at a picture of the Golden Gate Bridge and say, “Oh my, look at rivet number 432,000…isn’t that an awesome rivet!” Instead, when I look at all those rivets I realize they are an integral part of something amazing but it isn’t completely dependent on any one rivet. They each work together for a greater purpose. I offer this post today both as a reminder and as a comfort.
The reminder is about service, humility and the work we have in our discipleship. I can do all kinds of personal things to grow in holiness but if I’m not using my time, talents and treasures to serve others, I’m not a rivet thats building the Kingdom of God on earth. The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups; Love God and Love Others! We are called to do both. One rivet won’t hold up a bridge any more than one person can singlehandedly build the Kingdom. This little tidbit has given me cause to consider how important a rivet I think I really am. As I type, it’s early Sunday morning and I’m watching the sun come up through a giant airport window. It’s a stunning view and I’m so happy to be on my way to Texas to do the work he’s called me there to do, but I have to be careful not to think that makes my rivet any shinier than the next guys. After all, if they build a bridge with only one rivet who would trust it? As I think of those 6000,000 rivets, I’m reminded that strength for good work comes when the work is done by many, each doing what they are called to do, in the way they’re called to do it, all for the Glory of God not to be noticed as a standout.
The comfort of this little thought is that the weight of the task doesn’t rest completely on one person’s shoulders. We don’t have to carry the weight of the world. We don’t have to be in charge. We don’t have to know everything, understand everything, and battle all the woes of the world on our own. God surrounded us with lots of other rivets to share the journey and the work of our discipleship. We were made to be in communion with others for lots of different reasons; God is so smart! So relax, look around and find the rivets near you and trust in their support. I have the great pleasure to teach in a school made up of a group of really awesome rivets! On any given day we pray, laugh, think and sometimes cry together offering the support, love and assurance needed to build God’s Kingdom through our vocation as teachers. Look around, who are the rivets near you?
Those rivets in the Golden Gate Bridge work together to support more than 112,000 vehicles a day. I’d say that’s a fabulous example of combined effort. The question is, where is God calling me to be a rivet!
A Seed To Plant: Take some time in prayer to consider the kind of rivet God’s calling you to be. Ponder a bit on the ideas of service, humility and comfort from this simple post.
Blessings on your day!
"Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.” 1 Samuel 15:29
Welcome to 2019! It’s time for the annual word of the year post. I just learned that there is some sort of app that can generate your word for you. The folks I know who have tried it have gotten some pretty fancy words. One lady got the word “dazzle” and another got “fascination” and yet a third got “excitement”. After many weeks of prayer, my word is crystal clear…and once again it’s not very fancy. I say it’s not fancy because it involves work on my part. My word for 2019 is “CONSISTENT”. Wa-hoo! At first I pouted a little thinking this was a word that meant I was going to be tested and asked to actually plow through some stuff he’s been leading me toward for a while. After the word was clear, I spent several days asking him to help me actually like my word!
It’s been cause for a lot of reflection and it’s only the second day of January! In my prayer, I came across this verse from 1Samuel and it shined a giant spotlight on a couple of things that come with my word. I was pointed right to truthfulness and decisiveness. Truth hit my heart because we live in a world that seems to be a little allergic to honesty. It’s hard to know which headline or sound bite to believe. I know I can't do much to change that but I sure can work consistently to seek, defend, and live truth. Changing my mind is usually what happens when I loose steam and don’t finish what I started. It occurred to me that if consistent was a word I lived, I could be a little more Christ-like. I liked the thought of that!
I’m celebrating the last few hours of my birthday as I type and it’s been a great day. I think it’s been a great day because it had the best beginning. I went to church for a Eucharistic Holy Hour at 5:45 this morning and in the still and the quiet the thought that popped into my head (thank you Holy Spirit) was that being consistent didn’t mean being perfect. That was a huge relief. The verse points out that He is not a man and he won’t change his mind but I am human so he sort of expects it I think…phew! That little line took off some of the pressure for sure! As I begin this new year and pray about the way I’d like to live out this next birth year, I made a list of all the places I needed to be more consistent. When I finished, the list wasn’t nearly as scary as I thought it might be. I am the queen of stop and start…green light and red light…hurry up, go crazy and then stall out! I believe the words I need to adopt are finish what you start with consistent progress. I think I can do that!
As I was looking at the list of things that need my new word and making a plan, I realized I probably need to find the root of my inconsistency. I’m usually in perpetual motion and get lots of stuff done but there are those few things that just never turn out quite like I thought they would when I got started. I need to spend some time in prayer thinking about why! Some of them are big things like writing a book and others are small like praying a daily Rosary EVERY day. Some are just yucky like keeping papers graded and my desk free from piles and some are hard like consistently eating right and speaking truthfully and kindly to everyone. My new word seems to fit everywhere but I need to figure out how to use it well. I’ll keep you posted!
A Seed To Plant: What’s your word? Share it if you have one so we can all pray for each other as we figure out how to live our word!
Blessings on your day!
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