Squirrel or Just Nuts?
September 28, 2015
Thanks for waiting. My last blog was about moving to fast,
that was part 1 of a story,
This story -
It's been a busy fall. I think all my recent blogs have said that, it must be getting really boring, sorry. There are so many legitimate reasons; school starting earlier, a few logistical changes but most of it was my choice and a total waste of time. Finally, I started making progress in my work, slowly, and I was feeling better - more in control.
As I finished a big round of sorting socks and putting away summer clothes, I felt good. I had experienced a huge win. I had gone through my spring and summer clothes, replaced them with my winter things. I collected a pile of clothes for donation and decided rather than storing my summer things I would pack for our Christmas vacation in a warmer climate. It made all the sense in the world; I could skip over like a dozen steps and have the daily satisfaction of knowing that I was already packed.
I smiled as I stepped into the shower. I considered – hmmm. How much fudge should I make for Christmas?
How long can gingersnaps be in the freezer and still taste fresh?
Hmmm . . .
There was a fleeting thought that I had in fact, LOST MY MIND!
Remember, I am the same person who just a week earlier had the lofty goal of not hitting someone with my car, not losing my phone five times a day, and moving slower.
Naw… I’m ok, I responded.
I am just taking care of my family, just planning ahead so I can enjoy the holidays.
Just preparing for . . . winter.
I’m like a squirrel.
Yes, I repeated, "Yes. I am a squirrel, collecting acorns. Preparing for winter, that makes sense."
Then God reminded me quite loudly,
“There was a rich man whose land produced a bountiful harvest.
He asked himself, ‘What shall I do, for I do not have space to store my harvest?’
And he said, “This is what I shall do: I shall tear down my barns and build larger ones.
There I shall store all my grain and other goods and I shall say to myself,
“Now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years,
rest, eat, drink, be merry!
But God said to him,
‘You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for the one who stores up treasure for himself but is not rich
in what matters to God.
Luke 12: 16-21
Can fudge be treasure? Can a packed suitcase be treasure? Can Christmas gifts purchased early, be treasure?
“You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared,
to whom will they belong?”
Time to make a change.
I continued reading the passage in Luke that follows the parable of the “Rich Fool” now that I know the fool's name ~
"He said to [his] disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life and
what you will eat, or about your body and what you will wear.
For life is more than food and the body more than clothing.
Notice the ravens: they do not sow or reap; they have neither storehouse nor barn,
yet God feeds them.
How much more important are you than birds!
Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your lifespan?
If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest?
Notice how the flowers grow. They do not toil or spin.
But I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of them.
If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today
and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you,
O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat
and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore.
All the nations of the world seek for these things, and
your Father knows that you need them.
Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides.
Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.
Sell your belongings and give alms.
Provide money bags for yourselves that do not wear out, an inexhaustible treasure
in heaven that no thief can reach nor moth destroy.
For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
Luke 12: 22-34
Just in case you missed it,
"O you of little faith? As for you, do not seek what you are to eat
and what you are to drink, and do not worry anymore. All the nations of the world seek for these things, and your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these other things will be given you besides."
I’m Really, Really, Sorry
September 23, 2015
Last week I started a new list. It wasn’t a “to do” list or even better a “done” list, it was a “moving to fast” list. The knowledge that I was speeding and fumbling through my life wasn’t obvious at first but moving too fast makes me rude, impatient, and a dope. Once I started apologizing constantly for my behavior and realized that my driving was frightening small children I started to clue in. My little one said one day, “Hey Mom, you didn’t even hit a guy in a wheelchair!” (Yes, there is a story and No, I didn’t hit a handicapped man. I could have, but I didn’t.)
I decided that I need a bumper sticker that reads,
I’M SORRY. I’M REALLY, REALLY, SORRY.
So I started paying attention. Unfortunately, I didn’t slow down, but I was paying attention.
Here is a short version of my list:
Almost hitting a guy in a Wheelchair
Almost hitting a guy on a Skateboard
Various bruises on Hips and Elbows
Low Phone Battery consistently before 11 a.m.
Lost Keys Found in Ignition
Lost Keys Found in Ignition with Car Running
Removing keys from Ignition before putting Car into Park
3 Splinters under a Fingernail in a Day
Yep, it's only the short list. It was the splinters under my fingernails that made me think. (My third splinter in a day - torture.) How did I get another splinter from my simple bedroom door? I guessed it was the same way I knocked myself senseless on a cabinet door, my head still hurts.
The transition from summer to school had left me with an endless to-do list and the stress of checking each off has left in its wake - yellow lights, squealing tires and apologies. So join me and replace one list with another:
Enjoy the Beautiful Fall Weather
Kiss a Child's Forehead
Sing a Nursery Rhyme
Enjoy Your Garden
Take a Walk
Pause before Entering Traffic
Look before Entering Traffic
As you do, I pray the following for you ~
May your day be beautiful,
May your forehead be without bruise,
May your intentions be selfless,
May you be loved,
May you accept love,
May you love deeply!
September 12, 2015 Blog
Cancel my Subscription
Taking back the word
I remember when magazines were fun. I remember being excited when they arrived in the mail. My brother received Boy’s Life and I was always excited to see Highlights come and buy Teen Magazine when I was in high school. After our engagement, the first thing I did was pickup Bride’s magazine. The glossy, beautiful pictures were a part of the preparation and the anticipation of the wedding. That feeling of turning pages that spoke to exactly what you wanted, what you were feeling, and being a part of a group made magazines fun. I don’t feel that way any more - magazines make me uncomfortable. I don’t know when that changed, but it did. I try to shield my eyes in the checkout lane, pictures and sordid stories of celebrities experiencing pain, divorce, and death saddens me. I remind myself that those “National Inquirer” rags are not new; they were in checkout lanes when I was young, those magazines and worse.
I remember those days, my mom was offended by the pictures of semi-nude women starring at us as kids from magazines. It was the 70s, when overnight it seemed that every rule changed and barrier removed. Mom approached the store manager every time she saw him to ask for a change and whether out of guilt or exhaustion “those magazines” were placed elsewhere. I have seen my own daughters turn an offensive magazine, showing its back cover to customers. It’s a good thing.
This week I will call and cancel my Redbook subscription. I have canceled it before but it continues to show up in my mailbox - I despise it. The cover annoys me, the fashion pages are just ridiculous but there is one thing that is causing me cancel is the use of the word meditation. The word meditate and meditation is everywhere is seems. Articles on how to meditate and information on the health benefits for meditation are found often in Redbook. The cover advertises meditation frequently aside tips to organize your house and thin thighs. It has become a staple of their content.
When I first noticed the practice being extolled, I read the articles and replaced the “M” word with prayer or praying. After all, meditate is one of our cultural word. We meditate on the mysteries of the rosary, and meditation and contemplation are valued in our faith. I was unable to read the articles and make their content valuable from my perspective. Abandoning the thought that the content was speaking to people of faith as a generic meditation, I started searching for other spiritual encouragement. I found yoga and healthy eating extolled as having benefits for body and soul. I continued to watch for the use of soul or spiritual in any way that reflects my perspective. I have found nothing and I am done.
Polling numbers show that 90% of Americans believe in God or the existence of God. We believe in prayer and praying for one another. We say “God bless you” or “Pray for me” in a fashion that means more than “excuse you” or “please, think of me.” I have never heard someone say, “Meditate for me” just the sound of it makes me laugh out loud.
In America, We are a People of Faith and in my relationships prayer is still a serious thing. Americans pray for each other, ask one another for prayer, and lift each other up in prayer.
In my world, prayer is a part of community. The idea of praying for God’s will, for an increase in faith is about growing stronger as a people of God. It is not a self-improvement goal. I have never asked someone to pray that I stick to my diet or lose my extra weight – that’s just seems silly. My God is not a superficial God who cares about my physical balance- He cares about my spiritual balance. He cares little for my personal fitness goals but He loves it when I walk with Him.
I am excited to call in to the magazine to tell them why I never want to see their magazine again. My next goal is to find a way to let Apple and Google know that they have customers who want autocorrect to spell God with a capital “G” and offer emojis on my iPhone that offers more than praying hands.* I want to see a nativity scene and other symbols that represent love for Church, Faith, and God. Companies should realize that a majority of us believe in God, wish to serve Jesus as we pray for each other.
May God bless you and thank you for your prayers :)
* Since writing this blog, I have discovered that those praying hands (now available in different skin tones) are controversial in their meaning. What I perceived as praying hands is potentially intended as a "high five" while others interpret the symbol as a Japanese bow of "thank you." I guess my excitement in having praying hands available was premature.
I published the following blog at the end of August but
wish to feature it this month as well.
Thank you for your response and more information about the promises of the
Nine First Fridays Devotion is found on the Devotion Page or Click the button below.
Have you ever had a prayer petition that you took to bed and was waiting when you awoke? Of course you have, me too, so has everyone. One of my good friends has been asking me about the Nine First Fridays devotion for months. She has decided to start in September so she called me. “Just tell me the deal.” she said. I started to explain only to hear the request, “Just text me.” I’ll do better, I answered. I will finally write the devotional post I have wanted to do for a year. “Great,” was her response . . . “Print it out so I can put it on my refrigerator.” As honored as I feel to grace her refrigerator door, the First Friday devotion is worthy of the space.
The best way I can explain the Nine First Fridays is to remind you of a favorite bible story. Jesus’ disciples asked Him to teach them how and He taught them the Our Father. In Luke’s gospel, that significant moment is followed by this story -
“Suppose one of you has a friend to whom he goes at midnight and says, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, for a friend of mine has arrived at my house from a journey and I have nothing to offer him, and he says in reply from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door has already been locked and my children and I are already in bed. I cannot get up to give you anything. I tell you, if he does not get up to give him the loaves because of their friendship, he will get up to give him whatever he needs because of his persistence. And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
Luke 11: 6-13
Knock and the door will be answered to you. Isn’t this our heart's desire? Don’t we all have prayers, concerns, heartaches that we want to offer Jesus and ask him to take our intentions, petitions, hurts and reconcile them? We all have family or friends who we wish would walk through the threshold of Jesus’ Mercy and fall into His Embrace. That is the type of emotion that brings one to the Sacred Heart of Jesus' First Friday Devotion. This is a decisive move to bring your petition to the altar in a significant way and hold nothing back from Our Lord for NINE MONTHS. Each month will offer a new obstacle in scheduling, travel, timing, sickness, work . . .
It will cause a "gut check" as you make the decisions to attend that Friday Mass or do something else and start over the next month. It will change your life. I could write a book about the 20 months it took me to begin, yes begin, my first successful 9 First Fridays. It was 19 years ago and I was at a crossroad in my life and I put all my eggs in Jesus’ basket and I am here to tell you it is a story of God's love and fidelity.
“The Deal” as my friend put it is this:
- To attend Mass and receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months.
- To pray for the Pope and his intentions. I usually offer my petition in prayer at Mass and then pray the required Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be.
- To go to Confession (The Sacrament of Reconciliation)
- Lastly – To have no affection for sin.
That’s it, but it’s enough to take you to your knees I guarantee it. So about these “requirements”, let me tell you -
I didn’t know about most of them when I began. I knew there was a promise that good would come if I took my petition to Mass on the 9 First Fridays and that all I needed to know. I didn’t know about getting to confession, I learned about that later, but God didn’t care. He honored a daughter’s request. When I was ready for the next step, I learned of the monthly confession. Funny, I really needed a reason to get to confession more often.
I didn’t know about praying for the Pope (it was before there was internet) but God answered a daughter’s prayer. I only recently heard about the part without the affection for sin. “Who is without an affection for sin!” I hollered. That month I had to struggle with my lack of forgiveness. I had to decide to lay down my anger because it was clear I could not carry both my petition and my anger to the altar. I let it fall, God knew what was best for me.
I am sorry that you have now learned the “whole deal”. I couldn’t keep it from you because you have the internet and you would search it anyway. Maybe God knows you can handle it but please allow me to remind you that God is not a bureaucrat. He is not just checking off boxes - He is offering you an opportunity! An opportunity to bring your petition to Him and accept that change of heart and life’s circumstances take time. The duration needed for a change of heart in us and those we pray for. That it takes time for us to change our perspective on life and see things as they are. Nine months will provide you that time. You will find out very quickly how important that petition is and how faithful your good Papa in Heaven is. He loves you and Jesus’ story tells us to know and ask for what we need. He is a Good Father and that reminder is also worth a spot on your refrigerator.
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"Ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. What father among you would hand his son a snake when he asks for a fish? Or hand him a scorpion when he asks for an egg? If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
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