Think about those times in your life when you have felt inspired to something really great. Where does that inspiration come from?
The Holy Spirit. God inspires us to do great things with our lives.
----Matthew Kelly

Sunday, February 26, 2017

He's Got This! {8th Sunday in Ordinary Time}

I come from a long line of worriers on my Mom's side. When I was still a newlywed, I worried...a lot. My husband would tell me not to worry so much; there was no need, and we wouldn't go hungry. As we grew older and had kids, he continued to tell me not to worry. My mom used to tell me I was going to make myself sick with worry (although she used to worry!), and one time it happened. I mentioned in a previous post that a Sister said that God knows what's going to happen and how things will work out, so there's no need to worry about it. 
As my boys grew into men, the worries were still there; they're just different kinds of worry. And they're huge worries. Did we do enough, guide them enough when they were little? Did we guide them too much? Were we good enough parents? I'm learning to push those doubts away whenever they pop into my head, and to keep saying, "God's got this." 
Today's Gospel tells us the same thing: not worry about your life. (Matthew 6:24) 
Your heavenly father knows that you need them all.
But seek first the kingdom of God and all righteousness,
And all these things will be given to you besides.
Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
                 ---Mt 6:32-34
I'm trying...I mean really trying to live this. I'm not going to lie: it's hard; very, very hard. I have to trust that everything will work out the way it's supposed to be...I have to trust God. And that's easier said than done, especially for a control freak. Thy will be done, right?
While reading the Daily Gospel Reflection from Catholic Moms, I had this thought: How many times have I planned out my day, only to accomplish nothing on my list because other fires have to be put out? When I was the Lead Speech Therapist for a school system, that happened a lot. Every time I had a "to do" list, I never got anything on that list checked off. I should have seen God's hand in this. I know He was up there laughing, saying, "You think you're in control?" 
I attended a Women's Conference yesterday at a nearby parish. The 1st talk (presented by Sister Anna Marie...she was fabulous!) was on Martha & Mary.  Sr. Anna Marie mentioned today's Gospel, and how the story goes right along with the story. With Martha running around, frustrated with having to do everything by herself because Mary was sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to him, she worried about everything being just right, about being the perfect hostess. All Jesus wanted was for her to sit and listen, and to stop worrying.
Today's society is all about what I have, what I want; basically, me, me, me. We worry about not having what our neighbors have; we worry about not giving our kids the best of everything. We need to learn to stop worrying, stop running...just stop and listen. Then we will be able to be closer to Him and His kingdom.

Friday, February 24, 2017

{SQT} Getting Ready for Lent

Wow, it’s been quite a while since I participated in the Seven Quick Takes hosted by the marvelous Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum. When I looked back, I realized my last post for SQT was 23 December. A lot has happened since then. 

πŸ™Is next Wednesday really Ash Wednesday??? How can that be? I had such a fantastic Lent last year, so I'm looking forward to this one. I think I'm all ready. I've signed up for Dynamic Catholic's Best Lent Ever. I have my books: My Blessed is She Lenten Journal 
and Scott Hahn's Lenten Reflections:

πŸ™Last Lent, instead of giving up something, I got up 30 minutes early so I could read the daily readings and reflections. I didn't so much journal as I did take notes on the reflections. I've continued to do this through the year, although some weeks I've been more dedicated than others. After reading the Heart of Mary Women's Fellowship Series on prayer (which is still going on), one of the posts really made me think about journaling. While I'm in Adoration, there are times  when I get the urge to write , to put my thoughts down on paper. But then I feel guilty because I'm writing when I should be talking to God. The post that really struck home made me realize that writing is a form of prayer. So this Lent, I'm going to keep more of a prayer journal instead of notes about the reflections. We'll see how it goes!

πŸ™I started a couple of different Lenten Photo a Days before, but never followed through, so I'm going to try again. There are a couple of different ones out there, but the one I'm attempting this year is from Catholic Sistas. As I wrote down each word in my planner, I had no idea how in the world I'm going to come up with a picture! I'll have to call on the Holy Spirit to help me, for sure!

πŸ™Since I just mentioned a planner, I have to say that I just love the one I'm using. I resisted a planner for a few years. Sure, they look nice, but what's the point? Just one more thing to lug around between schools & home. I've found one that I just adore, and it's from Blessed is She. I have everything in one spot: church, home, and school activities. I've always thought that I didn't need a monthly and weekly calendar in a planner, but I've changed my thinking. Here's what February looks like:
I πŸ’œ having the stickers on my monthly calendar so that if I have it open, someone can't see what my appointments are; I write those in on my weekly calendar. Oh, and I made some of the stickers myself without a fancy machine!

πŸ™ The Stations of the Cross is something I've looked forward to in the past few years, especially when the Marian Stations are said. To me, the Stations come alive and make it more personal as a mother imagining myself as Mary, and my son is the one enduring them. For an Eagle Scout project, a young man from my parish constructed outdoor Stations. I really hope it's used during one or more Fridays this Lent.

πŸ™ Ah, Fridays during Lent. Abstinence from eating meat means a lot of Friday evening Captain D's. At least it did, but I'm not sure if it will mean that this year. I used to go with my father to Captain D's on Lenten Fridays. He passed away on Feb. 1st, so I'm not sure if that weekly trip will be made.

πŸ™ When I started writing this post, I started where I left off, on Dec. 23rd. I started to talk about my father's decline, but then I decided that was too much of a downer. I will say this: My prayers for a happy, quick death were answered. 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Perfect? Oh, Boy! {7th Week of Ordinary Time}

In this week's Gospel (Matthew 5:38-48), we are called to perfect. REALLY? I am FAR from perfect. Jesus knows that none of us are perfect, but we strive to be. There's a prayer that I came across that was in 1 of my mother's prayer books. Part of it read, "Keep me reasonably sweet. I do not wish to be a saint (saints are so hard to live with), but a sour old person is the work of the devil." (Mary Wheeler) Shouldn't we strive to be saints? Doesn't Jesus ask us to strive to be perfect? To be perfect means to love your neighbor as yourself (from the First Reading- Leviticus 19:18) and not boast about human beings (2nd Reading- 1 Corinthians 3:16-23). 
What does being perfect look like? You may know families who seem perfect to someone on the outside looking in, but, as I heard a priest once say, no family is perfect. We all have our struggles & crises. Someone we know may seem perfect; he or she may have it all together, be as sweet as pie, but he/she may be crumbling on the inside. We just don't know what lies underneath. It's through the struggles that we find our way to becoming as perfect as we can humanly be.
During the homily, the Deacon started out in a different direction than I. He said that, as Christians, we should strive to stand out, to be set apart. People should know right away that we are Christians. While he was talking about what "turning the other cheek" really meant, it occurred to me that it means that we should give people who have wronged us another chance. At least, that's where I thought he was going, but he interprets the phrase as  standing up for what you believe and not backing down.  He brought in the turmoil that's been going on with Facebook: in order to love your enemies (even on Facebook), we should act like Christians and not get sucked into (my words, not his) the negativity and hatred that is running rampant right now. I've started to only check my notifications on Facebook, and not look through my entire feed. It's a bit ridiculous, isn't it?
The Deacon ended his Homily with addressing being perfect. We are called to be as much like God as we can. We are called to be able to be convicted if we were brought in to be judged as Christians.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Look for Calls: 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Look for calls within our daily lives. That stuck out as I read the reflection of the Gospel from ePriest. We aren't all called to do great things, but, as Saint Mother Teresa said, "...we can do small things with great love." We have to look for the call as we go about our daily life to be more charitable, patient, and generous. The apostles heard Jesus say "follow me", and they dropped everything to do that. Not all of us are called to do that, at least material-wise. I have to say I'm a bit relieved that I haven't been called to do that; I'm a bit selfish that way. 
Let me back up a bit. After reading today's Gospel, my thought was that when Jesus heard of John's imprisonment, He knew it was time to step it up. He knew that was His signal to start gathering apostles, who dropped everything to follow Him. Jesus calls us to do the same thing. Every. Day. The reflection from Catholic Mom posed the question: Why does He seem to call me at the most inconvenient, inopportune time? He's constantly reminding us to put Him first; that all things are done through HIM, not me. It's up to us to listen to Him calling as we go about our day. He's calling us to charity, generosity, and patience. We have to stop & listen.
As the priest said today in his Homily: God calls us where and as we are. We all have a purpose. In order to realize that purpose, we have to have a deep personal relationship with God. We can achieve this through prayer and worship. (Then he started talking about ministries to the parish and touched on the Bishop's Appeal, so I have to admit I got a little distracted at that point!)
 Every one of us sees some darkness in our lives; regardless of how perfect our lives are or how perfect someone else's life seems to be. There's sickness, death, hard times. That relationship is vital in seeing the big picture: Salvation. Life isn't perfect. Families aren't perfect. I know in my own life, there have been things that have happened that have made my stomach knot up and have made me physically ill. Turning to God in those moments and remembering that He has this definitely helps. If I didn't have a relationship with Him, I don't know how I would have gotten through those events. Daily prayers & reflecting on the Daily Readings have helped me achieve that deep personal relationship with God. Online communities such as Blessed is She and Heart of Mary Women's Fellowship keep me focused, as does SiriusXM's The Catholic Channel (especially Jennifer Fulwiler, Hallie Lord, Lino Rulli, and The Busted Halo---who all make being Catholic "cool"!). 
This week, I challenge you to "hear the call" throughout the day.
How do you stay focused so you can hear the call during your day?

Friday, December 23, 2016

{SQT} Advent Take-Aways

At the end of the first entry in my Blessed is She Advent Journal, I wrote "I want PEACE". By the 3rd Sunday, I had found it. The weird thing is that the night before, I had a dream, and I had a physical memory of the dream. At least, I think it was a dream. I don't know how to describe the feeling, except to say that it felt almost like a panic attack. In my dream, I immediately said, "Jesus, I love you" followed by "Jesus, Mary, & Joseph, pray for me". I woke up the next morning feeling like the weight of the world had been lifted off my shoulders. I actually felt really good. I felt good about my oldest son moving to the West Coast. I felt good about not focusing on "things" this Advent. I just felt...GOOD.

As I told a friend of mine, I'm still trying to get the hang of this "Empty Nest" gig. Letting go is extremely hard for me; I'm a total control freak. But, I've really come to embrace "God's got this" over the past 4 weeks. Man, these weeks went by quickly! I get so dependent on the "special times" of the Liturgical Calendar that I don't want it to end. I've got to keep working at getting closer to God during "Ordinary Times". 

I always thought the beginning of Matthew was one of (if not the) the most boring chapters in the Bible, with the list of genealogy. I've never understood why that was included until I read the reflections. Now I understand that it's to underscore that Jesus didn't just come from nothing...he has a family tree that is similar to just about everyone's on this planet. There are saints, and there are sinners; there are murderers and prostitutes, but there are also good, saintly people.

We all know that Jesus was born in a manger...a feeding trough. It wasn't until this Advent that I put the feeding trough and the table of God together. We come to that Table through the Eucharist. (And that only took me 54 years to realize!)

I loved the readings that had to do with signs. We are encouraged to not look too hard for signs, but rather just trust that God will take care of us. God gave people signs, but they didn't see them. He sent the largest, most blatant sign of all, but people didn't see. In fact, some don't see it today. 

The 2 words that summarize this Advent for me are "Trust" and "Gratitude". Elizabeth & Zechariah trusted God, John the Baptist trusted God, Mary trusted God, Joseph trusted God. All of these people had plans that weren't God's. Yet, in the end, they didn't fight His plan or go against it. They trusted in Him, and they were grateful to Him, even when His plan was tough to follow. 

Last, but certainly not least, this Advent taught me to take a look at past Advents and readjust my attitude. For the past 28 years (at least), I've tried to have a perfect Christmas for my boys. And in doing so, I think I missed out on teaching them what it's really all about. Sure, we always had an Advent Wreath and a Nativity Set, and we went to Mass. I wanted them to have the memories that I have of Christmas: the baking, the decorating, the gifts. Last year, one of my sons suggested that we skip the gifts this year; they aren't important to him. Another one of my sons told me a few weeks ago that he felt like Christmas was just another day in the last month of the year. That really cut to the bone, but he did immediately say that he guessed it was an important day. I just have to keep praying that he'll come back around some day. 
I spent this Advent getting ready for Christmas...spiritually. I woke up early, read the Daily Readings & some reflections, said morning prayers, and wrote in my journal. I also viewed the clips from Best Advent Ever from Dynamic Catholic. I feel prepared, yet unprepared for Christmas at the same time. I didn't get stressed about not doing this year; I didn't get stressed about not buying. This has definitely been my best Advent yet. 
I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes. 

Sunday, December 18, 2016

{Fourth Sunday of Advent} UNBELIEVABLE!

Have you ever stopped to think about how truly unbelievable the Birth of Christ is? Here is this innocent little baby who is our Savior! So many things had to come together before this happened. Mary had to say "yes". Joseph had to have enough faith to say "yes". One little "no" and history would have been different. 
What struck me while reading today's Readings, was how things that were foretold in the Old Testament came to fruition. In the First Reading (Isaiah 7:10-14), we're told that there will be a sign, a virgin birth whose name will be Emmanuel. Mary's and Joseph's yes fulfilled that sign.
The reflections that I read centered around signs. One that I read suggested that, at times, we are so caught up in looking for signs that we forget to give the control to God. I keep saying this in recent posts, but I'm really trying to live this in my daily life: God knows all. He knows what we're going to do, how we're going to mess up, and how we're going to fix it. So there's no reason to worry. We have to give it all to God. With one son traveling across the country and another one staying at university for break, reminding myself of this has kept me from getting down and from worrying. I'm strangely completely at peace with everything. 
ePriest put things in perspective for me. Joseph's plans were completely shattered by Mary's news. He more than likely had their life planned out: he would work in his carpentry shop, Mary would keep the house, and they would have lots of children in the years to come. What a blow this must have been to him. How terrible he must have felt! And then he has this dream. He must have said, "Wait. How are my plans changing? I'm going to do what? Mary is going to be the mother of whom? I'm going to raise whom?" Yet, he had the faith to say "yes" and do as God asked. 
The video reflection from USCCB by Father Greg Friedman told 2 pieces of trivia (as it were) about today's Gospel (Matthew 1:18-24): Luke told the story of Mary's Annunciation; Matthew tells us about Joseph's. None of Joseph's words are recorded, only his actions. This is a perfect example of actions speaking louder than words. 
The Deacon during the Homily asked us how many times during the day do we say "That's unbelievable"? I know that I say it quite often. Now think about how many times we say that same thing when talking about our Lord. Not very many, huh? But if we stop to really think about Jesus' birth, His life, and His death, it truly is unbelievable. 
The next time you say "That's unbelievable", think about our Lord. Think about how truly unbelievable He really is, and how much faith it requires to believe. And, as the Deacon said, if someone asks you how you can believe, give them this answer: "God said it, God did it, and that's enough for me."

Saturday, December 17, 2016

{SQT} I Refuse

This year, I refuse to get caught up in the craziness of the secular Christmas Season. Over the past year (especially since last Lent), I have revamped my lifestyle of watching tv for hours on end. That's not to say that I haven't binge-watched a few shows (Longmire & Vikings top the list), but I've really cut back on how much I watch tv. I try to catch up on some shows when I can ("This is Us" tops that list), but I do that through Hulu. Our tv is rarely on. I think that's helped cut down on the craziness.
I refuse to buy the boys "stuff" just for the sake of them having something under the tree. Traditionally, they get a pair of flannel pajama bottoms and a pair of nice winter socks. They always know they're getting those. My boys are now men; money is the preferred gift so they can get what they want. I learned from last year when I gave my oldest son the exact (except for the color) same clothes as the year before. We took everything back and he got something that he wanted/needed. 
I refuse to get caught up in baking/candy making. In years' past, I would spend 2 whole days baking and making candy, just so the boys would have an honored tradition that was passed down from my mother. I will have to make something for my next door neighbor, who supplies me with pecans so I'll make, a specific candy for her, but other than that, I'm really scaling down. 
This is some of the what I usually make...just a small portion!
I refuse to worry about my boys. As I said, they're now men, and 2 of them won't be home for Christmas. Over the past couple of weeks, I've taken the idea that "God has this" to heart. As one of the Sisters said, "He knows what's going to happen; how they're going to mess up and how they're going to fix it, so there's no sense in worrying." 
I refuse to fret over not having a "perfect Christmas". I've been trying for 32 years and it hasn't happened. There's no such thing. At least with only 1 of my boys home for Christmas, I know that the tree will remain intact. There will be no wrestling next to the tree. 

I refuse to stress over the house not being decorated. I just put the tree up last Tuesday, and put the lights on it. I finished decorating it on Wednesday, and found the skirt on Thursday. I put out a few things around the house, but the decorating is sparse this year. I still have my fall wreath & Thanksgiving flags up. (Don't judge!) Since I'm not putting out all of my decorations, I'll have to look through totes to see if I can find my Christmas ones. My mailbox cover is, at this minute, on the living room floor. It'll eventually make it to the mailbox.
I refuse to get angry over family matters...on both my side and my husband's side. I will enjoy spending Christmas Eve/Day with my husband and my 91 year old father. My Daddy will come up for our traditional Danish Christmas Eve Dinner and again for Christmas Day Brunch. It's going to be a quiet one, so I'm going to enjoy it. 
As the years have gone by I'm realizing what's important. This will be the 3rd Christmas without my mom (who was born on Christmas Day and whose name is Chris); last year was harder than the first. I will not allow myself to be blue like I was last year. Family means the world to me, and, even though things are a little stressed with both my family & my husband's family, I will be happy this Christmas Day and enjoy it with my husband, father, and youngest son.

I'm joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes. It's a day late, but I refuse to get stressed about it! 😁

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