I’m not sure why I sometimes do this, but I do. I find myself staring into my past rehashing my mistakes (as though I have the power to change it) and stressing over situations that have piled themselves into mountains before me. Do you find yourself at times doing that too? Of course I know better, yet without realizing it there I find myself. Today, God had to shake me up so that I could shake it off and this is how he did it.
Do you notice anything unusual about this picture? If you look closely you will see that they are sunglasses and the lenses are missing. Today, I secured my beach bag to my bike, put my sunglasses on and started to ride to the beach. They were polarized sunglasses and on the way I marveled at the different colors it casts, but at one point during the ride I felt myself squinting in the sun and wondering why, thinking it must have been the angle. All the while my lenses had miraculously disappeared. I say that, because they were fine when I put them on I didn’t crash, touch them, feel or hear them fall off. I’m not sure where they went or how they went ….they just somehow disappeared along the way. Not just one lens, but both lenses. God sure did get my attention.This disappearing act forced me to see that I needed to look at things through a different lens and new perspective. My mountain may look big, but my God is bigger.
I, like many others, spend too much time in the past, worrying about the future, and never being fully present in the moment. God is in the moment, in our relationships and in nature. By bringing my focus to the present, God showed me what I would miss if I weren’t fully paying attention. On my way up the wooden step to the beach he showed me this knot in the wood expressing his love.
Love through an unexpected Monday wedding
and the joy of a child wanting to be present, so she crashed it
The butterfly that greeted me on my return home
God works in mysterious ways, does unusual things to get our attention and speaks to us all the time in the present moment and we can miss a lot of really great stuff if we linger in places God is not. He likes to remind us that we need to keep our focus on him and his promises. Did you know that in scripture there’s an estimated 3,000 verses of God’s promises and most likely more? King David spoke God’s promises as part of his ammunition against the giant. After speaking them he was able to easily defeat it with one shot from one stone. BAM!!!! DEAD!! God’s promises spoken out loud countered the giant’s intimidation and weakened him.
Situations and people are always going to try to hold us back. We must shake it off by studying God’s promises, speaking aloud God’s promises and being joyful. I was never particularly a Taylor Swift fan until today. She impressed me at her age of 24 with her new song called “Shake it off” it’s the wisdom of how to handle haters. Haters will always hate you and you have to shake it off and find joy. I thought this positive message was a fitting way to end.
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Envy & Jealousy are the root of many evils, its subtle and hard to recognize within oneself. It can be so cunning that God made two commandments for them while all the others have one. According the dictionary envy means: a feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions, qualities, or luck. Jealousy means: resentment against a rival, a person enjoying success or advantage, etc., or against another’s success or advantage itself. The Philosophical interpretation: Jealousy is the fear of losing what one has Envy: the desire to posses what one does not.
When we are jealous of someone else for having the same or better attributes than us we often deny we are jealous.
The best example of envy can be found in this unbelievable true story. The two women were so envious of the possession of someone else it lead them to sin. Check out this 1 minute video of them captured in the act.
Rather amazing isn’t it? Almost unbelievable when you capture the very moment you fall into stupidity from the wrong choice from being envious. Ron Rolheiser, in his book “Sacred Fire” has this to say, We feel diminished by other people’s greatness and find ourselves nitpicking and looking for flaws rather than blessing the talents and achievements of others. We can do an inventory on ourselves apposite the sin of envy by asking ourselves these questions: How often in a given day do I praise another as opposed to criticize another? How often do I nitpick, and why do I nitpick? Why do I find it much easier to be empathetic with someone who is hurting as opposed to sharing truly in someone’s good fortune? Why do I experience a secret glee upon hearing about the fall from grace of a celebrity? Why do I struggle to bless younger people? When did I last truly praise a younger person of the same-sex?
Aha! that last one is a good one. We often have trouble with our same-sex, Rolheiser talks about how women praise their sons more naturally then their daughters and vice versa for men. If I look at my own family dynamics I see that he is onto something. He goes into more detail about this in his book. He also uses the story of the prodigal son as an example of jealous and envy involving the older son. Another example he uses in relation to God’s love and envy is the workers in the vineyard. We tend to feel these pangs of jealousy and envy, because we are always watching and comparing ourself to others, forgetting that God’s love is unbound. He loves us as though we are the only ones and He will shower us with His blessings to overflowing. Check out the story of the “Red Barn” and you will see what I mean. Let us together, begin to focus on our blessings and being grateful for each one and asking ourselves the questions above on a regular basis, so that we can avoid this damaging deadly sin.
2 Corinthians 9:8 And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
OPEN FLOOR: Perhaps, you have a story to share of envy and jealousy from your life that you were able to overcome that may help someone else. Please feel free to comment below.
I just finished watching the movie “God’s not Dead” and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed it, as did my husband. We rented two movies and the one that got the huge reviews was terrible in comparison. Of course you never hear about reviews from a movie about our faith or God, which is why I decided to blog about it. We all go through situations that weaken our faith and other times when we just need a recharge, as Christians we look for a retreat to boost our moral. This movie is like a mini retreat. It will strengthen your faith and renew you.
If you work with young adults or older teens this is a great movie to show to your group. It speaks to them about real experiences in college with some professors/teachers challenging you about living out your faith. It happens. I can remember going to a Catholic University for orientation for my child and I wish I counted, how many times the school officials, stopped to make reference that, “they were not that Catholic”. I was stunned and sorely disappointed, because being Catholic was why we were interested!????it made no sense to us. Not only do they touch on this one boy’s experience, but at the end of this movie they list the colleges where Christians were challenged for their faith that they based this movie on.
The trailer doesn’t do the movie justice, you really have to watch the full movie to get the full effect. You can rent this movie for $1 at Redbox you can also get it on netflix and amazon. I definitely recommend this movie, following God is not easy, but simple and this movie helps you to see that. Check out the trailer below and if you decide to rent the movie, don’t forget to text about it. You’ll see what I mean after you watch the full movie.
After reading the book “Sacred Fire” by Ronald Rolheiser, and his segment on Religious Faults of Mature Adults, I knew I had to do a series on the 7 deadly sins. I begin with “PRIDE”, because so often we act prideful and do not realize it. Read this parable from Luke 18:9-14 You may be thinking, I would never act like this Pharisee!, yet we do, and we aren’t aware of it. We compare ourselves to others all the time. We live in a competitive world. Rolheiser says, “the more we mature, the more we compare ourselves to others and even become complacent about it, especially when they are suffering or struggling. We look at their condition with contempt”. Lets think about that for a moment, perhaps you have a sibling, acquaintance, friend or friend of a friend, that is struggling with addiction, mental illness or pure stupidity (punn intended probably addiction or mental illness) where they repeatedly destroy the good in their lives and add chaos to those around them. Every time you are with them experiencing frustration, are your thinking, “I’m glad I am not like them, Lord, please don’t let me get that way. I am doing a, b and c, my life is so much better. Thank you Jesus!!?” Even if you are not consciously thinking this, deep down you probably are.
We also can deceive ourselves by telling ourselves we are doing things for the right reasons. Our desire to be generous is often fueled by our pride and our deeper desire to feel good about ourselves. I can remember a time when I was leading a young adult group and I felt really good connecting people to each other, their faith and helping these young adults find their way. That is, until it started turning into therapy sessions, for which, I am not equipped and I would leave drained and exhausted every time. I believe it was my pride that kept me there longer than I should have been.
This can also happen with our prayer lives. Sometimes we get over zealous in the role of advocate for others and then lose the meaning behind our intentions for them. Our prayers become stale and without the passion that they once held. Our original intention for good, goes out the window when we replace that intention with the feeling good we receive from the rewards of praise from others for doing it. Our ego kicks on and shifts our good intentions to the “high” we feel when we’re praised, admired and spoken well of. One of my christian girlfriends shares, that when she was in her leadership role in the church and people would praise her for doing it and doing it well, she admitted that she liked it too much, it felt really good. She says, “I get myself puffed up with pride, eventually I had to step down and now I miss it and I struggle with my heart that desires it back.”
There is also the pride of not letting others give to you when you really need it. Accepting gifts and acts of charity from another is not an act of weakness, don’t let pride deprive someone of giving. I experienced this with my son. He was struggling to survive a brain tumor and aneurism and I was too concerned with people knowing my business and treating me differently. Luckily, I put my pride aside in order to allow people to pray for his healing and help me take care of my other children at home. And there’s the need to always be right? Never giving up an argument, because you have to teach or enlighten the other person who you believe to be wrong. How many of us are guilty of that with our spouses, friends and co workers?
Humility counters pride. “Being in humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less” C.S. Lewis. Putting others needs ahead of our own is living the Gospel. It’s the mindset and spirituality of Franciscan servant leadership. This is what Jesus exampled by washing the feet of his disciples in John 13:1-20. How else could Jesus’ be able to wash the feet of an enemy that he called friend. I challenge you this week to notice those times you act with pride and replace it with humility and see what happens. You may find yourself at the confessional door.
OPEN FLOOR: I have given just a few examples of pride, I am sure that you can think of many more. Please feel free to add to them in the comment box below. You never know, your input could help someone overcome their stumbling block to spiritual maturity.
“True humility does not know that it is humble. If it did, it would be proud from the contemplation of so fine a virtue.” ― Martin Luther
“When you think yours is the only true path you forever chain yourself to judging others and narrow the vision of God. The road to righteousness and arrogance is a parallel road that can intersect each other several times throughout a person’s life. It’s often hard to recognize one road from another. What makes them different is the road to righteousness is paved with the love of humanity. The road to arrogance is paved with the love of self.”
― Shannon L. Alder
“The common man prays, ‘I want a cookie right now!’ And God responds, ‘If you’d listen to what I say, tomorrow it will bring you 100 cookies.”
― Criss Jami
If I look back on my life and even assess the current state of my life, I can not say that it is without suffering. Better yet, the more I become involved in following Christ and living out the Gospels the more heated my life becomes. I can remember a woman from Church, telling me at one time, that I was doing something wrong to experience such suffering. She compared my troubles to her easy sailing and many blessings and told me it was, because she was doing things right and I was doing them wrong. Well…… I’ve learned that she was far from the truth and I’m glad I didn’t take her seriously. The truth is….the closer you get to following Christ the more of the cross you experience. When you’re doing right, you feel the heat like Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego. They refused to follow the orders of King Nebuchadnezzar II to worship the false God’s. They were buried in the fiery furnace to suffer for their choice and the miracle of Jesus coming into the furnace to protect them scared the King to turn up the heat to max. The three prevailed and when it was over, not only did they walk out unharmed, but they did not even smell of smoke. The Christian way is not an easy road and being a Franciscan is harder still. St. Francis was hard pressed at being a true disciple. The cross and humility are where he felt connected. At his conversion he looked to the Gospels for direction and found:
Rising from prayer in a spirit of humility and with a contrite heart. (Francis) prepared himself with the sign of the holy cross. He took the book from the altar, and opened it with reverence and fear…..The first passage that met his eye was the passion of our Lord Jesus Christ that tells of the suffering he was to endure……. He opened the book a second and a third time. Every time he found either the same text or one that was similar. This man filled with the spirit of God then understood that he would have to enter into the kingdom of God through many trials, difficulties and struggles. Reading: Thomas of Celano, The Life of St. Francis (1C93)
After reading this short synopsis of St. Francis life, how can I/we as Franciscan or Christian followers expect anything less? If we too, mirror Christ’s life we should expect the same as St. Francis “Suffering” and “relational conflict”. Christ lived on the edge and he challenged everyone. His actions took people outside of their comfort zones. When Jesus said, Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood and people left him thinking he was speaking of cannibalism, crisis issued, and Peter when asked if he too, wanted to leave responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? you have the words of eternal life.” Which meant, I don’t understand, but I know it is better with you than without you. Isn’t that the way of faith? I don’t understand, but I understand less without you therefore, I will trust in you and endure the suffering. To truly live the Gospel you will feel the heat. I can recall many times in my life, right before I was going to be a part of something that would impact someone’s life in a powerful way, I would feel intense heat from opposition and conflict. The more heat I felt, the more powerful I knew the bible study, healing mass, retreat, whatever it was I was a part of, was going to change someone’s life for the better. This reality should not deter you from following Christ, on the contrary, it should motivate you for the great reward awaiting you in the end.
St. Francis and St. Paul found joy in their sufferings. St. Paul wrote most of the New Testament writings in prison sitting in sewage abandoned by most of his friends. “Doing God’s will and thus experiencing suffering is still the highest form of faith, and the most glorious Christian achievement”. The most comforting of David’s psalms were squeezed from his life by suffering, and if Paul had not been given “a thorn in the flesh”, we would have missed much of the heartbeat of tenderness that resonates through so many of his letters.(L.B.Cowman)
Bad things happen to good people, just look at the cross and what happened to Jesus, but remember ….we are resurrected Christians. The end far outweighs the turbulence. Don’t get lost in pride of humiliation from the crucifixion, because we don’t understand it fully. Rejoice in the knowledge that we wear the crown of kingship. Endure with the passion and knowledge that God saves. We are free! free to experience life to the fullest, working our way to the cross of suffering that frees us and those we drag with us (hopefully not kicking and screaming) to repentance and love.
Then find strength in 1Peter 5:9 Refuse to follow the devil. Stand strong in your faith. You know that your brothers and sisters all over the world are having the same sufferings that you have.
Encouragement by Marc Chernoff ~ Life is like a mirror; we get the best results when we smile. So talk about your blessings more than you talk about your problems. Just because you’re struggling doesn’t mean you’re failing. Every great success requires some type of worthy struggle to get there.
Inspiration in Pope Francis ~ “Lord, grant that I might be consistent! Lord, grant that I may never cause scandal, that I might be a person who thinks like a Christian, who feels like a Christian, who acts like a Christian.”
You must remember, that the more trials you endure, the more you know you are on the right track. What about you?
TABLE TALK: please comment below about your suffering and how you endure through your trials and tribulations that may help others.
When the news first broke, of the serious problem facing our immigration borders involving the enormous amount of children crossing over alone I was shocked and concerned for their welfare. I couldn’t understand what kind of fear they and their parents had experienced that would allow such a thing. This 2 minute clip explains it very well and I share it with you in hopes that you will become pro-active in helping them. At the very least I hope that you pray for each child to be safe and free from the dangers of evil.
This is very sad and costly to the U.S. tax payer and our president just asked congress for billions of dollars to address the problem. What are we to do? and what is our obligation as Christians? In this little town in Texas, Catholic Charities is doing the best that they can with housing, feeding, clothing and taking care of these children, but how much can they do and when will resources dry up? This is a serious crisis, there are about 33,000 children right now. Please watch this 2 minute video and offer your feedback. There is a 19 second commercial from GE first so please bear with it.
There was a time in my life that I felt inspired to write and illustrate a children’s book. I was young, about 26 years old and I test read my newly created book on every kid I came in contact with and they all loved it which only inspired me more. I did my research of publishers, I acquired copy-write, I invested in copies and postage to snail mail my book to numerous publishers and I was rejected by every one. Some were polite, but not one of them would even look at my book without an agent. They rejected it sight unseen. I knew nothing about agents at the time, nor their necessity in publication probably, because there was no mention of them in my research. This was completely new to me. After the sting of disappointment from so many rejections letters I began researching agents. I became so overwhelmed by the amount of information and sorting through the steps I needed to carry out in choosing one and then agents having to interview me and reviewing my work to decide if they wanted to accept me (which could mean more rejection) and then dealing with their hiring fees and sharing a percentage of the small profits, that I tucked my little children’s book away and haven’t looked at it since.
How often do we do this to our dreams. We set goals to achieve them and then hit a wall of obstacles and rejection and boom! We give up just like that. I bring this topic up, because it has been 7 months since we made our New Year’s resolution. In five months it will be Christmas then New Year’s again bringing us full circle. January 2014, I suggested we write on index cards 10 goals we wanted to accomplish this year. Have we taken out our list to see how we are doing? or have we lost our inspiration from hitting a wall of rejection like I was talking about? Have you ever heard the lottery saying, “if your not in it you can’t win it?” well the same holds true for your dreams. If you don’t stop talking about them and do something about them they will never happen.
Anything worth achieving is going to have obstacles and be met with some form of rejection. Our dreams are not going to come easy because, we need to believe in them and ourselves in order to manifest our dreams into reality. We need to be persistent in spite of rejection and the world telling you it’s never going to happen. We can’t throw in the towel and give up, because it has challenges. Did you know that God told Abraham that he would be the father of all Nations before he had one child? and he was getting pretty old, beyond child-bearing years he had to persist in his faith, and the woman who had hemorrhages for 12 years, believed so strongly, that if she but touch the hem of Jesus garment she would be healed.
That belief lead her to be persistent enough to squirm her way through the heavy crowd, putting herself at risk by contaminating a holy man by her touch making him unclean. Can you believe in your dreams that much? to be persistent and put yourself at risk? The Centurion believed enough to risk his reputation, his status, friends and family. He traveled night and day to find Jesus, because he believed he could make his dream come true and bring his daughter back from the dead. How far are we willing to go? and have we ever given thought that our rejections were not rejections at all, but delays to God’s promises?
I used to be a huge Stephen King fan. I’ve read just about everything he has ever written. He has an enormous amount of books published and I was shocked to hear how many times he had been rejected. His book Carrie was rejected 30 times. It has now sold more than 350 million copies has been made into a movie with many remakes.
J.K. Rowling and her Harry Potter series was not only rejected 12 times, but she was told rather harshly not to quite her day job. Anne Frank’s diary was rejected 15 times and the famous “Gone with the Wind” was rejected 38 times. When Lucille Ball began studying to be actress in 1927, she was told by the head instructor to, “Try any other profession.”
If this isn’t proof enough that you should never give up, check out these rejection letters. These letters prove rejection is just a delay. Look at Thomas Edison, he failed at inventing the light bulb 1,000 times. When a reporter asked him how he felt to fail so many times he replied, I didn’t fail 1,000 times the light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.
Hear are some quotes that may help to motivate you:
“Great success is built on failure, frustration, even catastrophe” ~Sumner Redstone
“Failure provides the opportunity to begin again, more intelligently.” ~ Henry Ford
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can achieve greatly.” ~ Robert F. Kennedy
“I’ve missed more than 9000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot … and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. That is why I succeed.” ~ Michael Jordan
“I don’t believe I have special talents, I have persistence … After the first failure, second failure, third failure, I kept trying.”
~ Carlo Rubbia, Nobel Prize winning Physicist
“No matter how hard you work for success, if your thought is saturated with the fear of failure, it will kill your efforts, neutralize your endeavors and make success impossible.” ~ Baudjuin
Did you know that Walt Disney’s first animation company went bankrupt and he was fired by a news editor because he lacked imagination. Rumor has it that he was turned down 302 times before he got financing for creating Disney World. Imagine if he gave up and stopped trying?
So what do you think after hearing about all of these failures to success stories? Does it motivate you to go back to pursuing your dreams? It certainly motivates me, I may even search my files and see if I can find that children’s book and finish what I started years ago.
I will leave you with a snippet from L.B. Cowman “Streams in the Desert,” ” The Lord longs to be gracious to you……Blessed are all who wait for him!” ( Isaiah 30:18) The Lord watches over us in all the difficult places and he will not allow even one trial that is too much for us. He will use His refining fire to burn away our impurities and will then gloriously come to our rescue.
Do not grieve him by doubting his love. Instead, lift up your eyes and begin praising Him right now for the deliverance that is on its way to you. Then you will be abundantly rewarded for the delay that has tried your faith.
I thought this post was apropos for today’s feast of the Immaculate heart of Mary.
Originally posted on Dawn's Faith Connection:
In 2007, I coordinated a pilgrimage to Medjugorje, Croatia; the first time I went, my son Tyler, missed me so much he insisted on joining me the second time. When we arrived Medjugorje visionary, Ivan Dragicevic, extended to us an invitation to join him on Apparition Hill in the evening to be present during an apparition. This invitation extended to many of the pilgrims and all were thankful for the invitation, because during these apparitions, there have been many documented reports of healing, conversions, mystical phenomena, etc., so this invite was a blessing to our group. After supper, we headed for Apparition Hill.
Apparition Hill is fairly steep, overpopulated with rocks, slippery clay dirt and absolutely NO electricity, so at night it is pitch black. Due to the massive crowds making this climb, the elderly and handicap as well, climbing the hill was at a crawl and for my adolescent boy…
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