Monday, February 22, 2010

Never Give Up Attitude

Women of Faith:

As I watch the Olympics, I am reminded of an important value that the winning athletes have in common: A Never Give up Attitude.

Story after story is told about horrendous accidents and physical challenges which have been overcome so the athlete can compete at the Olympic games.

The athletes are focused, motivated and dedicated to meet a goal and they DON’T GIVE UP, they reach to achieve a gold medal.

So do we have a “Never Give up Attitude?” What is the “gold medal” of my life? Is my motivation wealth, success, happiness, or a pain free life? Or is my “motivation” to be with God in heaven? Like an athlete am I willing to give up everything? Am I willing to work my hardest, to suffer, so that I can reach my ultimate goal--HEAVEN?

Jesus was the ultimate Olympian, he never surrendered to the devil, and he received not a gold medal, but a crown of thorns, and sacrificed until the end for my salvation. Who today, gives me an "Olympian" example of “never giving up for God?” Who is working for the same goal as I am? Who are the most suffering, the most wronged, the modern day Jobs’?

I see the attitude I strive for in widows who continue to teach their faith to their children while living without the love of their lives; in the students and family of Ed Thomas who have taken the time to talk about forgiveness and faith; in those suffering with cancer, like Faye, giving glory to God, finding blessings in suffering and offering inspiration; in spouses who stay honorable in a less than perfect marriage; in parents of rebellious teenagers; and in friends who forgive repeatedly and yet remain faithful in a relationship and in their relationship with God.

It is pretty easy to “see” what all of these “heroes” have in common. They have put God “squarely” in the center of their lives! Heaven is their Goal! They are motivated and dedicated with the “never give up attitude,” to live life as Jesus showed us by his own example in these 40 days of Lent. Jesus taught us to suffer and accept injustices, and to unselfishly give our lives for others. These everyday heroes don’t let hardships and burdens stand in the way of their goal to be with God.

It takes dedication and commitment to have a “never give up attitude.” It takes suffering and hard work. It may mean living with a partner who is less than attentive, or just oblivious to our needs. It may mean loving a child who is testing authority. It may mean forgiving a spouse or friend for a lie, an affair, disrespect, gossip, or any other number of wrongs. “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

And Winston Churchill said it this way, “Never give in, never give in, never, never, never—in nothing, great or small, large or petty—never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” (The temptation of the devil.)

And what will help me get thru the difficulties? How do I develop a “never give up attitude?”

In this Lenten season, similarly to those “New Year’s resolutions, we try to focus on doing things that will make us better, more in God’s grace. We fast, we forgive, we pray, we deny ourselves. But what happens the first time we break our “goal,” give in to temptation, miss mass, and complain about our suffering. Do we say, I can’t do it, I messed up, why bother? Or do we remember that God never gives up on us AND we shouldn’t give up on Him. Do we start over, try again, remain faithful, pray a little harder, use our “never give up attitude” to work for God?

Do we let God have control, guide us, strengthen us, give us Hope? Do we strive for the Tridium of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday; the Eucharist, the Cross, and the Truth of the Gospel? Do we get strength by attending mass and being fed His body and blood; by looking at the cross and being reminded of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice, so that we can accept our own sufferings and ask forgiveness for our failings; and by reading the Gospel to better understand the truth?

Dear God, Send your Holy Spirit to make me a warrior of prayer, so that I may be strengthened by the knowledge of your Truth. Help me to forgive those who have caused me to suffer. Thank you for putting “Olympians” of faith into my life. When I stumble and fall, when I fail, when I am ready to quit, remind me of the cross, of your hope, your grace, your forgiveness, and your love. Help me to achieve my heavenly goal with a “never surrender, never give up attitude.”

Blessings in this Lenten Season

Monday, February 15, 2010

Think Spring

Women of Faith:

Considering it is snowing out again as I write, I hope everyone prays for Spring to arrive by the time Lent (which means Spring) is over. I am really looking forward to some of those little “snow white” crocus blossoms that seem to appear out of nowhere as soon as the days warm up.

By the number of replies I received last week, I have the feeling we are a very stressed out, overwhelmed group of women, who really need to slow down and remember what God’s “little” instructions are for our lives. We are really not intended to “do everything,” take care of everyone, make everyone happy and know everything.

God’s instruction is to LOVE, not work, not to do everything perfectly, not even to do “everything” but simply to Love! What a great message for Valentine’s Day and the start of Lent this Wednesday.

Today’s readings Jer 17:5-8 and Lk 6:17, 20-26 both tell us who will be “Blessed” and who will be “cursed.” We are reminded to put our trust and hope in the Lord; “Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose hope is the LORD. He is like a tree planted beside the water, that stretches out its roots to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes; its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit.” And, also, that if we don’t use our gifts wisely, these same gifts will become a curse, rather than blessings we have to share.

The reading speaks to “Spring;” to growing in our Love of the Lord, to growing in our Trust of God, by planting our roots deep so that no matter what/who tests our faith we will stand strong and be able to handle the “overwhelming” times as humbly as the good times. Jeremiah reminds us that we are to plant Love in our spouses, our children and everyone else that we meet.

So my question this week is actually more of a Lenten challenge: Our instruction is to Love, not ourselves, but God and others, so think of something to do, rather than to give up for Lent. An action that is totally unselfish and doesn’t affect only yourself, something with roots and growth deeper than giving up chocolate or desserts, something that will speak of your Trust in the Lord, that takes your time, but comes from the Love in your heart, that truly plants and grows Love, that makes everyday speak of the love of Valentine’s Day.

Some ideas as a spouse: Make Lent reflect the “special” love you showed for Valentine’s Day, by doing something extra for the person God made your mate, like greeting him at the door when he gets home from work, giving him a hug before you get out of bed in the morning, tucking a note of blessing in his pocket, or maybe in the reverse, by paying special attention to not say an unkind word or voice a criticism.

As a mom, or a child, try to resist the urge to tell your parent/child, “later, when I have time,” instead, simply say yes and give them the most important part of you, your time. (By the way this works for husbands too, did you know we say an average of 14 words a day to them? And we spend less time with them than our children and/or our coworkers! Think about the time you spent with them just talking when you were dating… why should it be less now? No wonder we have a “lack of communication” and a disconnect.)

Or if you don’t have a spouse or family to care for take the time to write a letter each week to a lonely “grandparent” or friend who doesn’t have any of their own family. Or extend an invitation to a friend or family member to attend church with you during the week or on Sunday, send them a special prayer or possibly forward them this reflection.

Dear God: Our blessings lie in your love, given to us and passed on by us. Forgive me when I have been selfish with my love. Thank you for putting people in my life who love me. Help me to accept their love, and help others to feel your love in their own lives. Amen.

Blessings and Love for this Lenten (Spring) Season:

Monday, February 8, 2010


Women of Faith:
We often feel overwhelmed because we feel inadequate, as if we are not worthy, like Isaiah felt today, Is 6:1-2a, 3-8, We feel this way because we have lost control because we can’t take care of a situation or a person the way we want to or in a way we think should. The apostles felt these same feelings as they walked in faith with Jesus.

Our natural reactions to feeling inadequate and overwhelmed are those of anger, fear, escape, or to try to take control of the situation. As Father said, anger is a childish reaction, which usually only creates more frustration and hurts those we love; fear creates more anxiety, and escape doesn’t fix the problem but simply puts us away from the problem and leaves others to deal with it. And personally, I have found that the more control I seek the more inadequate and overwhelmed I feel.

Jesus answered the Apostles feelings in Mk 6:30-34 by advising them: “Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” Jesus was telling them to PRAY, to find a quiet place where they could “listen” and put themselves in his “spirit” in prayer.

1 Kgs 3:4-13 tells the story of Solomon who feels inadequate and asks God for wisdom and understanding so that he can serve God and distinguish right from wrong. He, too, received God’s call and message during a quiet, listening time.

Solomon and the Apostles found God by going to a quiet place to pray, by putting themselves in God’s presence thru deep and serious prayer. As Father compared, we need prayer like we need exercise. Exercise builds a strong “skeletal” body, our bones which we stand on. Likewise, prayer builds a strong “inner” body, our soul which is the core on which our emotions and spirit are built. We cannot live without either.

In verse after verse God instructs us to pray, to remain focused and centered in Him. We are instructed to give God control, to find a quiet place, and that if we place our trust in God, he will take our inadequacy and He will handle our overwhelming feelings. He will be our foundation, our rock, our strength on which we build inner peace, contentment and dash away those overwhelming feelings of inadequacy. Once we give God control, Psalm 56:3; Psalm 51:6; Psalm 130: 1, 2; and Matthew 19: 26, “all things are Possible.”

As the apostles prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane they felt completely overwhelmed, but as is God’s way, they were given wisdom, understanding and God’s grace. As the first Pope, Peter was called Lk 5:1-11 to carry out Christ’s mission. Thankfully, he answered the call even though he was overwhelmed by the responsibility to continue Christ’s church. His ability, and the ability of the Pope’s who have followed, is to pass on Christ’sTruth from generation to generation. Many of God’s messages have been given to His chosen prophets in quiet times, prayer times, in sleep (dreams), and especially in listening to Him in those times when they felt the most inadequate and overwhelmed.

Jesus told the apostles to pray with others, to pass on His message, to share prayer. He began with them the “habit” of prayer, so that we would always be able to find him when we they needed Him. From the very beginning He was their strength, their Hope, and their constant guide. They asked for His help and protection, and for ways to pass on His wisdom.

This is certainly the time of year when I could become the most overwhelmed but I stay focused through prayer daily and often. My daily prayer is a habit which puts God in control, which keeps me centered in God. It is more important than even bodily exercise, but equally important for growing my commitment to God and keeping my “skeleton” of faith strong.
To pray deeply I try to include the elements of ACTS.

I adore, by praising God for being at my center; for taking control of my life.

I go to him in contrition, for the times when I need to forgive myself for a mistake I made, or for judging others, or for the times when others for gossip hurt me. By asking for His forgiveness it is easier to admit my own sinfulness and errors and to keep myself from holding grudges, and from becoming stubborn. Contrition helps me to be able to admit when I am wrong and forgive those who hurt me. This is the most difficult of prayer, because it requires me to follow His truth, not mine.

I Thank Him, for the many blessings I have been given, including the most basic needs of warmth, a roof, clothing, and food. And I thank Him for the gift of my “job” which allows me to help others and most importantly has, over the years, given me many friends in Christ by putting me in a place where I have crossed paths with people I would not otherwise have had the opportunity to meet.

And I pray in supplication, (asking for needs), my own needs for wisdom, sleep J, the ability to stay alert and focused, and for His control to solve client issues which cannot be solved by pencil and paper. I pray for the chances where I can share God with those I meet, and to ask Him for help when I feel overwhelmed, and for the ability to admit my mistakes when I feel inadequate. And I place before God other people’s needs which I am allowed to see by my interactions with them. (ACTS-adoration, contrition, thanksgiving and supplication).

And finally prayer should not be work, our work should be to pray, it should be the staple in our lives, done in quiet, but also done with our spouse, with our family and with our congregations. It should be Always, Faithful, Daily and Deep.

Dear God, I praise your presence in my life, my marriage, my family and my profession. Forgive the times I have let “gossip” get the best of me and for the times I have wronged others with unfair judgment. Thank you for taking away the feelings of inadequacy and overwhelming problems and replacing them with hope, comfort and courage, wisdom and understanding. Bless you, my friends; keep you safe, healthy, and praying in God’s presence in every moment of your daily life. Amen.

Prayerful Blessings,
PS: Just so you know, when I listen, I usually get told to “not be so independent.” The reason God put “people” in my life is so that they could pray for me and help carry out my day to day tasks, especially my husband, my family, my coworkers, and my friends. I am told, I can’t do it all myself, He has control. Oh, and Get Some Exercise and Sleep! :)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Respect and Love

Women of Faith:

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, All I want is a little RESPECT. We have all heard the song “just give me a little respect” sung by Aretha Franklin. That is all Jesus wanted in today’s gospel reading: A little respect, from his people, from the Nazarene’s, from the people that were his family, which he knew and who knew him.

“He said to them, “Surely you will quote me this proverb, ‘Physician, cure yourself,’ and say, ‘Do here in your native place the things that we heard were done in Capernaum.’” And he said, “Amen, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own native place.
Lk 4:21-30

Because his people would not show him respect, he chose to do his miracles in places other than his hometown. He was aware that because he was “known” he was not respected, he had become “ordinary” to them. When he went outside of the area, he was sought out, listened to, and respected as a King would deserve. And yet, even though he was rejected, he still continued to love them all, the least of his brothers.

In much the same way as Jesus expected his people to respect him, so too, we are instructed to respect our spouses. Our marriages are to reflect Christ’s love of the Church.

Paul sees Christian marriage as taking on a new meaning symbolic of the intimate relationship of love between Christ and the church. The wife should serve her husband in the same spirit as that of the church's service to Christ (
Eph 5:22, 24), and the husband should care for his wife with the devotion of Christ to the church (Eph 5:25-30).

As long as our husbands are not being truly sinful, or disobeying Christ’s word and actions, then we as their spouses should follow their leadership. We shouldn’t need them to prove anything to us, or even to give us anything more than the love they are asked to give us. Yet, why is it sometimes so difficult to believe the one we love the most, to fear their guidance and wisdom, to mistrust their leadership. As wives we have a power over our husbands that we aren’t always aware of, a power called, respect, or a lack of it.

Just as Jesus was rejected by his people, the Nazarene’s, so too can we be hurt by the ones we love the most, when we don’t receive mutual respect and love. And so too, are our husbands hurt, they feel rejected, when we don’t respect them.

It is appropriate that our readings today not only included the instruction to respect the ones we love, but also contained the famous instructional words as to how to love our spouses, “Love is Patient, Love is Kind …..
1 Cor 12:31—13:13.

Love and Respect go hand in hand. If as wives we don’t show our husbands respect, then how can we expect them to love us as Christ loves us. The instructions for our husband’s to love us, follow our instructions to respect them. And yes, we are to treat them as our king, just like they are to treat us as a queen. Respect and love….love and respect. We are to answer our “kings” call, to follow our “kings” lead, to care for them, to trust them, to give them our RESPECT! In return, they are instructed to love/care for us to the point of death, just as Christ loved us enough to die for us.
USCCB - NAB - Ephesians 5

Love and Respect, which came first? They are mutually exclusive just like the chicken and the egg. We cannot have one without the other in any relationship which is Christlike, that is how the sacrament of marriage blesses us.

Do we respect our husband in everything we do? Do we follow their leadership and treat them like Christ, a King? Or do we reject their leadership and only respect them when it is convenient to our own ends? Are our choices in respecting our husbands, similar to our choices in respecting the truth of the Bible, a faithful choice, an always choice? Or do we fear that some of their choices may not be the same as ours, so our respect is less than it should be?

Do we follow our friends (male or female) leadership rather than our husband’s? Is it more important to be right our self, than it is to think that our spouse has followed Christ and we should respect his decision/s? Do we take care of our own needs or someone else’s needs first rather than taking care of the needs of our spouse? Is our spouse our priority, or are we willing to lose our spouses love (let them die), because we don’t have time to feed and water them with our respect and love? Am I treating my husband as I would treat Christ? Do I pray for my husband so that he will be more Christlike, so that his love for me will be as strong as Christ’s love for the church? (For those of you not yet married, these should be the questions you ask about the commitment that you will take into any relationship that will continue and begin in marriage.)

Dear God, Help me to give my husband the respect which I am asked to give him by Christ. Help me to honor him in all ways. Let our love be patient, kind, never jealous, nor pompous. Let us not be rude to each other, to seek our own interests or to be quick tempered. Help me to not brood over injury (to forgive and forget) and to not rejoice over wrongdoings (human errors and mistakes). For without love, we have nothing. Let our love, bear all of our burdens, give us hope and belief in your truths and help us to endure all of our sufferings. Let our love and respect for each other never fail. Thank you for making my marriage a sacrament blessed with respect and Christlike love. Amen

Blessings, Charlotte
(Thoughts and ideas borrowed and paraphrased from “A Woman After God’s Own Heart” by Elizabeth George; “The Power of a Praying Wife,” by Stormie O’Martin; and “Chosen and Cherished” by Kimberly Hahn). Recommended reading and can be found in Catholic and Christian bookstores.