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

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Will Try Again

When I walked into the Adoration Chapel the Thursday following Easter Sunday, I was struck by how differently things looked after being covered up with purple cloth. The white on the Virgin Mother statue seemed whiter, with the blue rosary draped around her seeming to be bluer. Jesus on the cross appeared to be more life-like. This is the same crucifix that I looked at in my parish while growing up, so it's very familiar. Even so, his face looked as if he could come to life at any minute. The harder I stared, the more life-like it became. I thought of the disciples locked away, scared of what was going to happen to them. I can imagine his head straightening and I have to admit that I am just a tad bit frightened until I hear the words "Do not be afraid. I am with you." It is then that I can actually feel his presence.
The blood on his knees and feet seem more pronounced. I can almost see the blood dripping from his feet. In fact, I would swear that I see it dripping.
And then I get sidetracked. I make the mistake of looking at my phone for the time and see a message. That leads to another thing, and I've lost this state of mind I was in.
I didn't take any reading materials with me this time. My plan was to just sit, be still, and listen. I failed miserably, but it's okay. I had a few minutes of that deep state of mind with Jesus. It's a start. Next week I'll try again. I'll turn my phone off (or leave it in the car) and not worry about the time. I'll gaze at Jesus' precious wounds and imagine what it must have been like to be with him on his journey to the cross. I'll know that he forgives me for my short attention span. I know that he will still be here, waiting for me.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Good Friday: Just Imagine and Stop Resisting

Picture courtesy of Aaron Burden

This morning, as I read the entry in my Blessed is She Lenten Journal, this was brought to us: Imagine yourself at the foot of the cross. Imagine Mary & John beside you. Wow. When I started writing, I didn't think I'd have enough room to write what was going through my head. So, I opened up my laptop, and here I am. 
How my heart aches at the cruelty of man. How quickly our hearts and minds can change. During the procession around the church of the Blessed Sacrament during Holy Thursday's Mass, I imagined the people following Jesus into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; then I imagined how many were at the cross when he was crucified.  I wondered just how many people actually went into the Adoration Chapel between the procession and midnight. Obviously, not everyone would be able to fit into the chapel, but I wonder just how many went?
I didn't. I was tired, I had a headache, and I just wanted to go to bed. I have a lot of things to do today, Good Friday, and those things kept going through my mind. I realized I’m just like those people who followed, but then abandoned him when he was put to death. I realized I’m one of those in the crowd who yelled, “Crucify him”. And I’m ashamed.
During Dynamic Catholic’s BestLent Ever, the focus was on how we resist God through resisting the little things in our lives. It starts with the resistance to even get out of bed in the morning, choosing to hit the snooze button instead. This series made me realize how much resisting I do. I resisted going to confession until Wednesday afternoon. There was a struggle going on within me: Do I call the church office or just skip it? It was so late, surely Father is busy and won’t have time. Finally, at 2:45, I gave in and called. I found out I wasn’t the only one who needed his/her confession heard at that late an hour. The Associate Pastor wasn’t there yet, but the priest at the mission church was, and while I don’t think he really wanted to hear my confession, he did. (This was after me telling him that it wouldn’t take long…I was almost perfect! Oops…forgot to mention that sin during my confession!) I’m so glad I gave in and called and that he heard my confession; I think I would have felt really guilty going into Easter Vigil without receiving absolution.
During Lent, I’ve been going to the outdoor Stations of the Cross and going through them on my own so I can spend Friday evenings with my husband. Last Friday, I just wanted to go home after work. It was cold and I was tired. I had to make myself go, but I did go. Resistance didn’t win that day!
I could have gone back over to the church last night for Adoration. I don’t live very far from the church, so that wasn’t the issue. I was selfish. My headache went away, but I didn’t go back over. Maybe I didn’t leave Jesus completely alone, because I’m sure the priests and deacons were there; but, was there anyone else? Is that what happened when Jesus was crucified? Did the people just go home and go about their business? Did they even give him another thought?
We may not have been physically there during the crucifixion, but we can be spiritually there every day. We can resist him, or we can take that extra step to do what we should. We can truly follow him all the way, offering up our little sacrifices in order to be closer to him. Even when we have a headache, we’re tired, and we just want to go to bed. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Who am I?

I walked into the Adoration Chapel to see everything except the Body of Christ covered with a purple cloth. As I gazed up to the covered crucifix, I thought about Jesus. 3 years. Only 3 years. He did so much in those years; healed so many people. 
Mary is covered, too. My heart aches for what she, as a mother, went through. She knew who He was, but did that ease her pain at all?
Then, it really hit me: He was a man. He ate, drank, slept as any man would. He had friends and He certainly had enemies. He had parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Isn't it inconceivable that God loves us so much that He allowed His son to become like us for a very short period? He allowed His son to be nailed to a cross for our sins.
It's just too much to wrap your head around. Who am I that He suffered for my sins? I am so not deserving. I am a sinner. I sin the same sins over and over again. And each time I sin, that nail is hammered through His hands and feet; that thorny crown is pushed a little further on His head. Mary's heart breaks just a little more as she witnesses what I've done to her son- - -her baby boy. 
And yet, it had to be. For us to gain eternal life, it had to be this way. What a sacrifice. What heartache Mary went through for us. FOR US.
No, we are not deserving. But God knows we are. We have the crucifix to remind us. I look at Him and think about the pain. And try to lessen it.
But I must try harder.

Friday, April 7, 2017

{SQT} Get Ready!

Over the past few weeks, I've been reading the Daily Readings and keeping up with my Blessed is She Lenten Journal. As I'm reading and writing, I'm thinking, "Man, this would make a great blog post". And then I get distracted and don't write. Anybody else do the same thing?
This past weekend, a friend of mine moved a secretary's desk from my parents' house to my house. This thing is really heavy, and I felt really badly for the guys who moved it. They didn't have too bad of a time getting it in the house, but getting it in the room where I wanted it was a different story. They tried for 30 minutes to get it in the room, but it just wasn't going to go. The walls are right up against the door jam, so there was no room to maneuver it. I ended up telling them to just put it in the other bedroom. And it went right in. It's not where I wanted it, and the fit is really tight, but it's in. And I have my own place to write. 
It's a perfect place for me to say my morning prayers and read the readings. I still have some cleaning up to do  in the room, but I have my own little corner of the world.
The diocese where I live is building a cathedral. It is a relatively new diocese; we broke off from Nashville in 1988. And, it's growing by leaps and bounds, thus necessitating a new cathedral. The cornerstone, which was blessed by Pope Francis, was on our altar this past weekend. 
Have you listened to Leticia Adams talking about her son's suicide on Jen Fulwiler? If not, I would highly recommend it. You can listen to it here. She is definitely seeing God through this tragedy.
I really, really dislike having dirty sinks. It doesn't matter if it's the bathrooms, the kitchen, or the laundry really bothers me. I remember when I was little, going to a friend's house and their sinks were dry. Yep, you read that right: dry. I was amazed. Growing up with 9 siblings, our sinks didn't have a chance to get dry with all of the toilet flushing and washing of hands. Weird, huh?
Does anyone else cover the crucifixes in their home? As I sat in Mass last Sunday, several of us thought it was too early for everything in the church to be covered. I thought it happened on Holy Thursday. I honestly don't remember everything being covered the week before Palm Sunday. That's how observant I am.
I've read several reflections where covering household crucifixes was mentioned. My mom never did this, so I didn't. I wish I had thought of thought/known about that when my boys were little. I so want a do-over with some things with them!
This song is just amazing:
My favorite line: 
"Sometimes I gotta stop
Remember that you're God
And I am not."
It goes right along with my "God's got this" mantra!

I'm linking up with Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum for Seven Quick Takes.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Get Off This Mountain! {2nd Sunday of Lent}

The above quote is from my parish priest as he spoke on the Transfiguration. He was very passionate during his Homily last night. It's not quite as strong as the subject line in my email from Blessed is She (Get Your Butt Off the Mountain), but passionate just the same. While James, Peter, and John wanted to hang out with Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, God was telling them to move on and get busy. Prepare for what God has in store for us. 
I've mentioned this before: during RCIA, we take a few minutes at the beginning of the class to read and reflect on the upcoming Sunday's Gospel. The line that hit me was "Listen to him." So many times during the Gospels that same thing is said. Listen to him. So many people had to be told to listen to him. We have to be told to listen to him. Not to hear what he is saying, but, as Father Bill said during the homily, internalize what he is saying. Not to just say, "yeah, yeah...I'm listening", but really internalize what he is saying. Thank goodness it isn't to "understand" what's being said, because I have a tremendous way to go before I understand half of the gospels. 
Father reminded us of what happened just before the 3 went to the mountain with Jesus: the apostles were arguing about who would take over when Jesus wasn't with them any longer. Then, Jesus takes the 3 up onto the mountain, where they encounter Moses & Elijah, and see Jesus in a conversation with them. One of the ladies in RCIA asked about the significance of Moses & Elijah; the deacon explained that Moses is the law, and Elijah the prophet. So, Jesus fulfills the law and the prophesies. The 3 (I know it's not a coincidence that Jesus brought 3 apostles with him!) fall down  in fear, and Jesus tells them not to be afraid. Aren't we all called to do this? Be firm in our faith, and not be afraid to live out our faith. Some days, it's easier said than done. Yet, we are called to get up, be courageous, and be Christian. We all have our crosses to carry, and we've had tragedies during our lives. We have to pick up those crosses and move on.
In the end, Jesus tells the 3 not to tell anyone until he rises (another common theme throughout the Gospels). Jesus isn't all "hocus-pocus". He doesn't want people to believe because of events that have been relayed while he is still with them. He wants us to be a people of faith...of real faith. 
Father passionately said that we have a glimpse of His glory at every mass: During the transubstantiation, the host is transformed into the body of Christ. At the end, we are ordered to "now GO". It doesn't end with the Recessional. We are to take strength from the Mass...strength to get off this mountain and do what we have to do.
This week, I challenge you to get off this mountain and do what you have to do. All for the greater honor & glory of God! 

Friday, March 10, 2017

{SQT} Thoughts in My Head

I'm joining Kelly at This Ain't the Lyceum this week for Seven Quick Takes.
Our CCW (Council of Catholic Women) was asked to host the Diocesan Convention this year. We had a meeting on Monday, and 3 of our officers almost managed to get kicked out. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. We did, however, get "shushed" some. We're in our second (and last!) year of being officers. We do like to laugh and have a good time. Some were not amused. 
After last year's convention, we were holding our breath because we knew it was our Deanery's turn to host. We almost got out of there without hosting!
After the meeting, a young lady saw my Blessed is She Planner (currently sold out) and asked if she could see it. We completely Catholic Geeked out talking about what we, as Catholic working women, want need in a planner. You've gotta love talking to other women who 'get' what you need!
I'm doing the Catholic Sistas Lent Photo Journey. I've started it the past 2 years, but failed miserably. I'm actually having a pretty good go of it this year. Never mind that we're only in the first full week of Lent! Here is a collection of my pictures so far:
You can follow along with my photo journey through lent by following me on Instagram: @tnslp. To catch up and/or join in, click here for the information.
This whole "keeping your thoughts about other people to yourself" thing is hard. REALLY hard. It's making me realize how many times I think negative thoughts about other people. I guess if it was easy, everyone would be doing it, right?
You know how you feel like you know someone through their blog or the radio? Yesterday, I looked quickly through my twitter feed (which I very rarely do, because...HELLO! Waste of time!) and I came across this:
I don't know Leticia, I've only listened to her on the Jennifer Fulwiler Show (The Sirius Catholic Channel). She's gone through some real struggles in her life (she is a self-proclaimed "hot mess"), and this just absolutely broke my heart. I looked back through her feed, and she seemed to be getting things together with classes. Just the day before she was asking people to pray for her dog, and yesterday she's asking for prayers for her son and her family.  I know from experience how traumatic it is when you have a child dealing with depression, but this is beyond my comprehension, to lose a child due to suicide.
Please pray for her, her family, and her son. May he now find the peace he was unable to find.
As a School Speech Pathologist, I am responsible for 2 schools. 1 of them is not far from the gate to the Smoky Mountains National Park, so the scenery can be pretty, depending on when the sun rises. The past few mornings I've driven there, it seems like God has painted the sky just for me. August skies are usually pretty spectacular, but lately they've been just as pretty. I had to pull into the middle school parking lot on Tues. to take this picture. It was just gorgeous!
The picture still didn't really do it justice, but I think you get the idea!
Every now and then, when I read the daily readings, a song will pop into my head. And stay there. A true "ear worm". Tuesday's reading did just that. "Lord, teach us to pray." And I've had the following song stuck in my head ever since. We had this album when I was young. There are some really good songs in that album; this one in particular comes back to visit often.

Friday, March 3, 2017

{SQT} Fasting, Gossip, with Some OCD Thrown In

Kelly from This Ain't the Lyceum graciously hosts Seven Quick Takes every Friday. So, jump on over to join and see what everyone else has to say.

1. So...fasting on Ash Wednesday. Did anyone else have a headache? I made a conscious effort to fast; I didn't even have coffee (I'm assuming this is where the headache came from). 
2. I'm making an effort to fast from lunch with co-workers to keep from being involved in gossiping. I enjoy eating with them; we're actually a fairly close-knit group. 

3. Speaking of not gossiping: I saw a teacher wear something so totally unprofessional and inappropriate to be wearing at school. It took all I had not to run to my friends and make a comment.
4. If you've subscribed to Dynamic Catholic's Best Lent Ever, then you saw the video from Thursday where Matthew Kelly talks about being happy. I've found that when I stay away from gossip and keep to myself at work, I'm happier. Not only that, but I also get more things done and I am more focused.

5. Being organized also makes me happy. It definitely makes the day seem to go so much smoother. Some people may say I'm a bit OCD, but...whatever!
6. One of the good things about playing in the choir for Ash Wednesday Mass: You have a seat.
It was seriously crowded. I didn't think the ashes were ever going to be finished. 

7. My favorite hashtag about Ash Wednesday: #getyourashinchurch . I've used it every Ash Wednesday since I first saw it. Father did a good job with my ashes; I think it was the best ash cross I've ever had!

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?

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