Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Tradition

Women of Faith:
Merry Christmas!

As we prepare today for another family gathering I was thinking about the traditions, past and present, that we will have celebrated or been reminded of this Christmas season:

The imaginative decorating by children (young and old) of Christmas cookies, making and eating bean soup and oyster stew, placing Baby Jesus in the manager, eating an apple from Grandma and Grandpa Svoboda, driving to see Christmas lights, searching the bottom of the stocking, attending Christmas mass together, driving home thru a winter wonderland of snow (which we missed this year, and then praised that we missed), attending loud family gatherings and singing (in prayer-Silent Night; with joyfulness-the twelve days of Christmas; and nostalgically-Czech carols), and taking a family picture.

These traditions were started 2011 years ago at the birth of Our Lord in Bethlehem: a family who said yes to God and then protected their spouse and child at a great sacrifice; who had a simple home with simple food and simple belongings; who received gifts brought by earthly kings; who’s good news was spread with great joy by the angels; and who by the light of a star (the Spirit) guides us and gave us the mass—as in Christ.mass.
And then I wondered how well I was doing at keeping the true focus of the traditions of Christmas?

Do my traditions reflect Mary unselfishly saying “yes” to God—even though it could have cost her life(the penalty for adultery was to be stoned to death); Joseph, who protected his wife, Mary, by trusting her—even though it cost him his own prideful reputation; or the innkeepers with “no room” keeping my belongings for my own needs)? Am I happy with the simplicity of swaddling clothes and a manager for a bed? Do I spread the good news like the angels with rejoicing and gladness? Do I follow the three kings’ example by giving everything and protecting the life of every child, as they did Jesus from Herod?

And am I like today’s feast day saint, St. Stephen, the first martyr, who when he was laughed at for speaking of Jesus, and who kept his focus turned upwards: “But he, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, "Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." Acts 6: 8-10

Dear God: Thank you for giving us Jesus, Your son, our Savior and Redeemer, to light the way, to guide us and to open the heavens for us. May we each be more like Mary, unselfish; more like Joseph, protective of life; more like the angels, spreading the good news; and more like the kings, giving up our possessions to those in need. Thank you for the traditions inspired by the Nativity scene. Amen.

May your family’s traditions of Christmas give you peace and joy, and fill your hearts and homes with the love of Christ,

Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, December 19, 2011

Make God Real

Women of Faith:

Jesus is the Reason for the Season!

But is God/Jesus REAL to me?

Am I seeing His signs, listening and answering God’s call in my life like Mary (and Joseph) who believed in God’s message and said yes to His call? “Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…. Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Luke 1: 26-38

Or am I like Solomon who ignored God’s signs, turned to the devil’s temptations, and created a fa├žade which would be torn down—because it was a building of man (a temple) rather than a building of God (His people)?

When I started to write this reflection this morning I realized that it was no longer just a handful of signs that God has given to Stan & I—but rather that the signs that we are blessed with are more and more frequent—not earth shattering or lightening striking signs—although we’ve had a few of those, but rather “just” everyday prayers being answered.

And I don’t think it is because God is giving the world/us more signs and miracles that we are being blessed by them. Rather I think it is because we are praying for miracles, praying for signs, praying that God would be REAL to us.

I have had numerous people write to say that this writing was just what they needed to hear today—yet I can’t possibly know what all of you are thinking, praying for or needing to hear. I only put on paper what has meaning for me and what God puts in my heart to share.

But just as this particular reflection may touch you, so have we had our own prayers answered within minutes of asking God—“what do we/I do next?”--a song or show on EWTN or Christian radio, a message in this week’s sermon or today’s scripture, a single bible verse heard on KLYF 101.9, or a text message from a friend.

I have had nights with meeting conflicts where one event got cancelled or another rescheduled so that I could do everything I felt called too do.

Stan & I have met someone on the street, in the grocery store, or at a ball game just when I, or they, or we, needed to talk about or support one another in prayer.

We have had couples that have come into our lives thru an EWTN TV show “Marriage Works in Christ” –and an answered call to join www.thealexanderhouse.org . This ministry has enriched our lives as much as it enriches the marriages that we have been blessed to share their date night and coaching programs with.

And of course there are those “chance” happenings: a near miss auto accident, a conversation with a stranger, or an unexpected phone call. And we have learned not to force meetings or words with those we know—waiting instead for God to give us the chance meeting and the right words. (And sometimes our patience isn’t the best )!

Oh and yes, I have had BIG prayers answered, miracle worthy answers to a prayerful plea and I believe I have quite literally seen at least one angel
(in the form of a police officer, no less).

Yet not every sign has been what I expected or thought I would be blessed by. But I am learning more and more to TRUST in the signs; to answer the call; to heed his warnings. Sometimes it takes hearing the message 4 or 5 times; missing the answer to a prayer 4 or 5 times; or being patient to receive an answer. But eventually I have realized that it was God talking, God providing a solution, God setting up roadblocks, or clearing the path—I just have to follow His lead.

Heavenly Father, praise be your very REAL presence in our lives. Thank you for the birth of Your son and the giving of His life to save mine. May I continue to be blessed to hear, see and follow Your signs. And may all those who read this message be blessed to see that you are REAL. Amen.

May you be blessed with the REAL Spirit of Christmas,
Merry Christmas from the Upah family,
Charlotte

Monday, December 12, 2011

I Believe

Women of Faith:

“I Believe.”

Usually when we see those words around Christmas they are associated with a belief in Santa Claus.

But, I believe, that those words have a far more reaching intention than my “belief” in Santa Claus or even my belief in the “spirit” of Christmas.

Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. The reading is God’s asking and Mary’s “yes” to becoming the Mother of our Lord—from Luke 1: 39-47--
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."

I remember often telling the kids, “If you don’t believe, Santa/Christmas/the gifts won’t come.” Their eyes would shine in their beautiful childlike faith—even to this day—and look at me to say, “I believe.” (They knew anything less meant no Christmas.)

So as yesterday’s reading proclaims: “Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances.” 1Thess 5: 16-24

Do we truly believe? Will we accept “less” than Christmas, less than the message of Jesus’ coming?

Do we believe?

In a God we cannot see: “By faith …he persevered as if seeing the one who is invisible.” Heb 11:27


In a God that is always for us: “If God is for us, who can be against us.” Rom 8:31


In a God that makes everything possible: “For human beings, this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” Mt 19: 26

Do we pray not just when we “need” him because things aren’t going well, but at all times in praise thanksgiving for all that we have?
And do we show our belief in the decisions we make, in the actions we take, and in the words we speak?

Heavenly Father: I believe that with you all things are possible. Thank you for the gifts of a warm home and family and friends to share it with; for food on our table; for health that allows me to enjoy everything around me; and for the gifts and talents that allow me to serve others. Bless each of us with the patience and perseverance, the strength and the courage to believe in you, especially when the darkness of daily problems tries to overshadow Your presence. Help me to show my belief not just by my words, but by my actions each day. Amen.

May you have the patience and courage to live your life in, for, with and by your belief of the greatness of God and the miracle of Christmas!

Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, December 5, 2011

Do you see what I see?

Women of Faith:
Remember the song: “Do you hear what I hear? Said the night wind to the little lamb. Do you see what I see? Way up in the sky, little lamb?”

As I get ready for Christmas, what do I see?

Do I see myself setting out boxes of decorations, or recognizing the beauty of a single shining star?

Do I see myself bustling around shopping for the perfect gift, or recognizing the joy in a small child’s delight of a glittery bow?

Do I see myself hurrying to get a list of food prepared, or recognizing the love and blessings of having time to be with my family?

How often do I miss seeing beauty, joy and love because my eyes are focused on the wants, the fulfillment, or the pleasure of what is just an earthly treasure?

In this week’s gospel- Mk 1: 1-8 John the Baptist proclaimed that he was not the Messiah, but only the one sent before him. In next week’s gospel we will hear again that we are not recognizing Jesus: "I baptize with water; but there is one among you whom you do not recognize, the one who is coming after me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie." Jn 1: 19-28

Just like the people who flocked to see and be baptized by John the Baptist, but missed Christ, my eyes often fail to recognize the truly important parts of Christmas: a beautifully lit nativity scene, the sparkling eyes of a child reflecting the lights of a Christmas tree, and the sounds of conversation as our family gathers. Beauty, Joy, Love, Hope, and Peace.

Do I recognize and thank God for what he has given me: the wealth of health; the awe and wonder in the miracles of nature; the joys of giving without receiving; and most especially the real meaning of Christmas—his son, Jesus, our savior?

Do I graciously give love and praise with kindness, patience and humility? Or do I expect perfection in others and have a desire to get something in return? Do I recognize my blessings and share my treasures by serving those who don’t, can’t, or won’t give anything back to me?

Heavenly Father: Open my heart and my eyes to see Your goodness and recognize the glory of the gifts given to me by those I meet on this journey. Thank you for the gifts of family and friends who share the joy and peace of Christmas love. May Your Spirit be recognized by those who are lonely or who don’t recognize Your presence in their lives. Amen.

May we see and recognize the true presence of God in our life,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Get in Shape

Women of Faith:
I set several “deadlines” this year to lose a few pounds, but I kept putting it off. I kept saying, “I’ll do that later.” And then the next holiday or special event arrived and the new outfit I bought got left hanging in the closet, tags still on, because it didn’t look quite the way I envisioned it looking on me when I bought it.

A new liturgical year began yesterday with readings which reminded me that it’s time to “get in shape.” Blessed Pope John Paul II said in a 1996 homily, “Advent is the liturgical season that prepares us for the Lord’s birth, but it is also the time of expectation for the definitive return of Christ.”

Christ’s coming is just 26 days away! It is time to get my life “in shape!”

I never know when I might need to wear that outfit, or when God will look to see what I “have on” in my faith. I shouldn’t wait for a New Year’s resolution to get in shape physically and definitely I shouldn’t wait spiritually. I should always be “in shape” and ready for Him. “Be watchful! Be alert! You do not know when the time will come.” Mk 13:33-37

So this is a great time not just to get my body in shape, but also my soul; my physical body and my spiritual body; my relationship with Him and also my relationship with others; my heart internally and His temple--my body.

God’s plan for us is given to us in His Scripture and Spirit drawing a parallel, a correlation between our body and soul; between our relationship with Him and our relationships with our spouses (family, friends, or world).

"Would that you might meet us doing right, that we were mindful of you in our ways! Behold, you are angry, and we are sinful….There is none who calls upon your name, who rouses himself to cling to you; for you have hidden your face from us and have delivered us up to our guilt. Yet, O LORD, you are our father, we are the clay and You are the potter: we are all the work of your hands." Is 64:2-7

God tells us that he will SHAPE us—mold us like clay. But our hearts must be open to change.

God tells us that even though we are sinful, if we cling to him he will deliver us. We cannot hide in our guilt. We are to trust His forgiveness and His will.

Lord: “Make us turn to you; let us see your face and we shall be saved. Rouse your power, and come to save us”. Ps 80: 2-3 May I always be ready for Your call. Help me to trust in your mercy. Take away my guilt and help me to feel Your strength, comfort, joy and peace. Thank you for Your eternal love. Keep me in Your care. Mold me with Your grace. Shape me with Your Spirit. In Your name, I pray. Amen.

If your body needs to be “shaped” be filled by the discipline of prayer, not food; be “molded” by God, not calories.

If your relationship with Him needs to be “shaped” give Him control of your life so that you may feel the power of His forgiveness, be released of shame and guilt and feel His love.

If your relationship with a loved one needs to be “shaped” open your heart to patiently trust in the conversion found through the graces received in the sacraments of marriage, the Eucharist, and penance.

May God’s will be done in your life this week and may we all be “shaped” by His perfect plan for our lives,

Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, November 21, 2011

Give Thanks from your heart!

Women of Faith:
Someone asked me these questions this week:

What if you woke up this morning to only those things for which you gave thanks for yesterday?

What if you gave thanks for as many things as you complained about? (Am I failing to see or look for the good?)

Appropriate questions for Thanksgiving week, a week of spending: family time and “shopping” time.

And the readings of the last few weeks made me think even more: have I used my talents for God’s glory (Mt 25: 14-30); and to serve “the least” of His people (Mt 25: 31-46)?

'Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.' … He will answer them, 'Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.'
Mt 25: 43-46

I have so much I don’t appreciate, and I have so much I don’t really need—things that I wouldn’t even miss if they were gone. And I have been given so much that others would like to have—that others need, want and even pray for—certainly not just possessions, but the gifts of the Spirit and the love of spouse, family, and friends.

So in this week of Thanks and in this week of “shopping mania” let us give
God THANKS for His plan: in a vocation which allows us to give as a spouse, in the blessings of being a parent, and in the trust that His gifts of Eucharist and Scripture will be the only “daily bread” that we need to sustain us.

Let’s SPEND our time and GIVE our hearts to serving and changing our hearts and priorities to trust in God’s plan.

God does not judge me on the possessions I have or do not have, but rather on what I choose do with the gifts He has given me: physical, spiritual and emotional.

What is in my heart and to whom have I given it? For what do I give thanks to God today? Where am I spending my blessings, both time and money? Where will I “give” my heart, my time and my money this week? How am I “blessing” someone else this week? Am I more concentrated on “spending” love (that of God) or money (that of the world)?

Am I “complaining” about what I don’t have or appreciating what I do have?

Do I feel blessed for what’s in my heart (that which is a gift from God) or for what’s in my home (that bought with money).

Heavenly Father, Your glory is in things not of this world, but in what You SEE in my heart. Thank you for the blessings You give me that are not of this world, but those that are of life itself. Thank you for the talents I have—help me to share them with others. Thank you for the lives around me—help me to love without judging. Help me to spend my time this week shopping for what will fill my heart, not that which will fill space. Amen.

May your Thanksgiving be filled with blessings and your shopping be FOR a change of heart.

In Thanksgiving for HIS season,
Charlotte

Monday, November 14, 2011

Charm and beauty

Women of Faith:
Makeup, $15; Shoes, $35; Day at the spa, $150…..

The internal beauty of living God’s love and truth—Priceless.

We are created by God IN HIS IMAGE, our charm and our beauty are not on the outside, but rather on the inside –in the spirit we exhibit thru service to others given without promise of earthly rewards.

Wearing the “right” clothes and makeup or spending days at the spa will last only until soap and water wash away the mask and lotions at night or the clothes go out of style. This is an artificial beauty—beauty only by our own earthly standards.

“When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life. She obtains wool and flax and works with loving hands. She puts her hands to the distaff, and her fingers ply the spindle. She reaches out her hands to the poor, and extends her arms to the needy. Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting; the woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. Give her a reward for her labors, and let her works praise her at the city gates.” Prov 31: 10-13, 19-20, 30-31

Internal compassion, service, honor, respect and unconditional forgiveness are true values of life.

As Father Mike spoke yesterday, it is not just about what others see on the outside, but rather that our spirit is answering God’s call. It is not about just knowing what is right, but rather DOING what is right that makes the difference in our lives—in loving and serving with the “fear of the LORD” as our guide that brings us the rewards of blessed marriages, families and ultimately heaven.

Am I seeking inner change within myself rather than going through the outside motions? Am I praying to change myself rather than some circumstance or a person outside of me? (We can only change ourselves!)

It is through unconditional service and self-sacrifice that we become a worthy wife; a wife worthy of husbands who will protect us, provide for us and to whom we can mutually entrust our hearts.

Our husbands are to treat us as a prize, a gift from God—because we are God’s daughters. (Likewise—they are God’s sons—a gift to us.)

By our MUTUAL service, honor, and respect for each other, husband and wife, we will receive the richest of rewards—joy here on earth and eternal life in heaven.

Heavenly Father: May I look to your glory by entrusting my heart to your control. Help me not to be concerned with my outward appearance, but rather with the inner spirit you have given me. May my desire to please you inspire me to give you glory and honor through service to my husband, my family and all those around me. Help me to wisely and graciously use all of the blessings and talents you have given me. Amen.

May the gift of your inner beauty be given to someone you love in honor to God this week,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, November 7, 2011

Lucky Penny

Women of Faith:

I just found a “lucky penny:” to wish upon. But I did not wish because I don’t really believe in luck. I took it as another of God’s SIGNS because I believe in “God”incidences, not coincidences. And at the time I was asking God to help me write this morning’s reflection.

When I returned to my computer it had returned to yesterday’s readings and meditation:

“If God were to give you just one wish, what would you ask for?

Solomon asked for wisdom, and God made him the wisest king of all time - and He added riches, health, and long life besides. He was the envy of all other kings. Wisdom helps us to make the very best decisions, and to always choose the right path. It's like hitting the jackpot every day.”

“Resplendent and unfading is wisdom, and she is readily perceived by those who love her, and found by those who seek her. She hastens to make herself known in anticipation of their desire; Whoever watches for her at dawn shall not be disappointed, for he shall find her sitting by his gate. For taking thought of wisdom is the perfection of prudence, and whoever for her sake keeps vigil shall quickly be free from care; because she makes her own rounds, seeking those worthy of her, and graciously appears to them in the ways, and meets them with all solicitude.” Wis 6:12-16 (The “she” and “her” are wisdom.)

Our priest said yesterday that wisdom is not what I know, but knowing to follow what God gives us as the truth. The book of Wisdom says that God will grant me what I need to know in “anticipation” of my desire to know it. That I won’t be disappointed if I have the patience to wait for what God will set before me today and that wisdom will appear in the signs of God—if I am watching.

I feel not lucky, but blessed because “My soul is thirsting for you, O Lord my God.” Ps 63:2 I am searching for God’s wisdom and truth in everything I do. I am looking for His sign’s and they are everywhere I turn—BECAUSE I am looking: He is truly everywhere.

And like yesterday’s gospel: the parable of the waiting virgins, Mt 25: 1-13, I trust in the Lord that I will be ready and waiting when He comes because His wisdom is teaching me that it is not “what” I know but rather what He wants me to know that is important.

Heavenly Father: Praise be Your wisdom in handing down Your teachings to us in scripture. Thank You for granting me the knowledge of Your truth. May we all continue to be blessed by the Spirit of wisdom that You show us in Your signs each day. Amen.

May you be blessed to find God’s signs so that you may know His wisdom today,
Charlotte

Monday, October 31, 2011

To See

Women of Faith:
From the other side …Is that you I hear? Laughing loud and calling out to me! Saying SEE, it’s everything you said it would be. And even better than you would believe… And finally you’ll SEE. “SEE” words and music by Stephen Curtis Chapman

As I have been known to do since I was old enough to read I spent the “wee” hours of the night reading the entire book, “Choosing to SEE” by Mary Beth Chapman. (Couldn’t put it down, so yes, the book is highly recommended )

(Mary Beth Chapman is the wife of Steven Curtis Chapman, Christian songwriter and musician, who’s 5 year-old adopted daughter, Maria, was tragically killed when she was struck by a car driven by her brother in May, 2008.)

And I wondered why I was reading in the middle of the night and when I would need this message: to take the courage to SEE?

As I read her story it gave me hope that I too would have the faith to trust in God and to be able to SEE God in the similar footsteps of tragedy, pain, and suffering. Lord in Your great love, answer me. Ps 69:30

I thought of all of those who I have watched walk with faith through different yet similar struggles in their lives. Choosing to SEE God blindly—facing the future with hope, faith, and trust even when they were afraid and having difficulty just taking the next step forward.

And I prayed for those who have been unable to SEE God: for those who are struggling to trust and hope in His constant presence in their lives. And I prayed for those who choose to ignore God’s presence or for those who choose to take an easier way out—seeking not God’s truth, but scorning God’s call to draw closer.

I wait patiently for the Lord; He will turn to me and hear my cries…Many will SEE and fear and put their trust in the Lord. Ps 40: 1-3 present tense by Mary Beth Chapman in Choosing to SEE

Will I choose to “SEE” God each day in every situation and decision even when I don’t “feel” His presence?

Whether it is in a major tragedy, or in the times that we are simply let down by someone we love, we are asked to forgive and asked to trust; we are asked to have hope in God’s plan, that God’s will shall persevere. God is loving us through our pain, so that we will draw nearer to Him, so that we may SEE more clearly.

God asks us to be patient. He tells us that He is always near and that He is walking with us. His love for us is all merciful and “equal” regardless of any past sins and failures.

Heavenly Father: Help me to have courage and perseverance to SEE you when things don’t go my way. Help me to have patience and hope to SEE you in the darkness of pain and suffering. Help me to SEE you in trust and faith when I am afraid. Thank you for allowing me to SEE you through even the smallest of blessings you gift me with each day. In you Lord I have found my peace. Ps 131:1 Amen.

May you be blessed with the faith that gives you the courage to SEE and the hope to believe in what you SEE,
Charlotte

Monday, October 24, 2011

Today is Special

Women of Faith:

Today is special. No, it is not my anniversary or my birthday. It is the beginning of an ordinary week. I am not expecting any extraordinary gifts, births or deaths or even to go anywhere or see anyone I would not normally see.

So why do I say it is special?

Think about the times you have taken the time with one of your children and later proudly heard them say, “Mommy helped ME (color) this today.”

Think about the times a struggling teenager says, “MY _______ told me I could do it.” And because they believed, they achieved.

Think about the times you talked to a friend and they said, “I was hoping YOU would call today.”

Think about how you make your spouse feel when you pull them back into the room just to say, “I need you.”—to share another hug, another kiss, or an “I love you.”

To be quite honest, I know today will be special JUST BECAUSE I am focused on YOU, not me. I have said it will be special so my actions will follow my thoughts and my thoughts have already made it so.

I will find the blessings, because I am looking for the blessings. I will feel love because I will give love. I am what I think I am. I will go beyond my “normal” boundaries and reach for more. Today will be special because I CHOOSE it to be.

Being blessed, feeling special, loving--these are not feelings, but rather the action I create, the memories I seek to make.

"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?" He said to him, "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments." Mt 22: 34-40

The WHOLE LAW depends on our love. It depends on what we do, not what we feel.

Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 1 Cor 13: 4-7

Love is an action which entrusts in us the ability to overlook our humanness and feel the blessedness.

Heavenly Father, You have blessed me with this special day. You have asked me to do only one thing, to love. Help me to love with all patience, all forgiveness, all hope. May we reflect Your love, revealed to us in Your son Jesus and shown to us in his cross. Help me to endure my sufferings and burdens. Send Your Spirit to me so that I may share Your love. Amen.

When we love as God teaches us to love then our day will be special not because we are seeking something for ourselves, but rather because we are choosing to make someone else have an extraordinarily special day!!

Make this message be your “forward” today.

Blessings on your special day and on whomever else you bless with your love,
Charlotte

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Marriage--Small Steps, Big Rewards

Friends in Faith
At our date night on Sunday we had a panel of couples married 30+ years. Our next date night is Sunday, November 13 at 5:30 at St. Pat's. All are welcome!!

Here is a summary of the panel’s list of small steps which has graced their marriages with BIG Rewards: from 155 years of combined experience and in no particular order.

The top four: Be committed, Forgive, Communicate and Pray (Put God at the center, He has a plan.)

Never let the “sun go down on your anger.”

Communicate. Speak what is in your heart. Your spouse can’t read your mind.

Forgive.

Realize that your spouse is different than you. (Male/female) Just because you feel one way doesn’t mean they do too.

Go to church together.

Tell your spouse what you need. Ask. Your spouse can’t read your mind.

HUMOR! Be ready to laugh at the situations you get into. And be ready to laugh at yourself first.

Give them little love notes.

Never think the D word. Be committed to making your marriage work.

Go to a Marriage Encounter or retreat. (This was mentioned by all 4 couples!!) Enrichment-Focus.

Write letters to each other. (Texting works for this too, but don’t it means more when you say it in person!!)

DATE your spouse. REGULARLY. Make the time!

Make them your priority. EVERYDAY!! At some point it will be just the two of you again.

Make a “cup of blessings” (put notes about memories/blessings of daily life into a box or container as they happen). Pull them out on the not-so-good days of life—helps to remind us of the joys in our lives.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. But tell it to your spouse, not your friends, your siblings, or the world. Keep it between you.

Seek enrichment. – Date Night, Marriage Encounters.

Like them. Know them.

We are each others best friends. Treat them even better than your other friends.

Don’t put other people in the middle. Talk to your spouse first.

Prayer is intimacy.

Give them a kiss before going to bed. EVERYDAY!! (Even when you might not want to—don’t let the sun go down on your anger). Forgive!

Choose your words with care. Communicate with Love. Be compassionate.

Come to date night :)!!!!!!

Be ready to change, every day is a new day. Struggles and conflicts are life.

Sign each other with the Sign of the Cross before you go to bed.

Have meals together. Sit down together as a family. Go to church together—kids too!!

Work side by side—be attached. (Did anyone notice that all 4 couples work together every day?)

COMMITMENT, Love no matter what!

Pray together, at meals and before bed.

Have a half full cup—on the top.

Be willing to share your cup with your spouse—fill each other up.

Be able to make your spouse laugh.

Communicate.

Pray to give God your worries, anxieties, and with praise and thanksgiving—in glory and honor

Rely on God.

There is always someone or something else that is worse than your “bad”.
Look for the gifts of each day.

LISTEN. Don’t answer a question before it is asked. Your spouse might be thinking something different.

Walk in the other persons shoes. Try to think as they are thinking.

FORGIVE. And forget. Have a Bad memory. Don’t keep bringing up the “same old, same old.”

Let it go. Let God have control.

PRAY TOGETHER.

Make your own dream/goal lists and share them with your spouse. Set goals together. Write it down!!

The top four: Be committed, Forgive, Communicate and Pray (God at the center, His plan.)

Thank you to Gary & Dorothy, Tom and Mary and Deacon Joe & Francie for sharing their insights.
Blessings on your marriages,
The DATE NIGHT TEAM—Stan & Charlotte, Jay & Vickie, Jim & Kris, Deacon Joe & Francie

Monday, October 17, 2011

Know what you Don't know

Women of Faith:
Some of our most difficult relationships are with people who “know it all.”
They always have an answer. For everything! Even the questions that have no answers.

Tough questions, like “why is this happening to me.” Or, “why do bad things happen to good people?”

Those questions and many others are God’s mystery in our lives.

Searching for and asking the right question is the beginning of wisdom. (Hallowed be His name—Pray in Praise.)

Knowing we will never have all the answers is humility. (Thy kingdom come--Pray in Thanksgiving.)

Trusting in God’s plan is letting Him have control of our lives. (Thy will be done--Pray for His aid and to answer His call to serve.)

In yesterday’s gospel, Jesus wisely answered a question with a question. “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not concerned with anyone's opinion, for you do not regard a person's status. Tell us, then, what is your opinion: Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?" …Jesus said, "Why are you testing me, you hypocrites? … "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" At that he said to them, "Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Mt 22:15-21

As Christians we believe that all life was created by God: so, we should strive to live our lives in longing to belong to God: to honor Him by giving Him back what is rightfully His. (And we cannot honor both God & mammon (Ceasar/money/secular society) Lk 16:9

May we seek to find trust in God and to give control TO God instead of testing God with our questions.

May we also find in our hearts the will to do His will, to follow His plan as Jesus did on the cross: in our marriages and all relationships—with the same unselfish service and forgiveness on earth as it is in heaven.

Our Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. May I be reminded that it is Your creation, that it is YOU I long for, and that it is not my place here on earth that I seek, or that will fulfill my needs. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done. May I live to repay You what you have given me. Thank you for every person who I have been blessed with here on earth. May I humbly forgive, on earth as it is in Heaven—without measure; and in trust of Your plan, without seeking to know it all. Amen.

Seek and you will find; trust and know that God is near.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, October 10, 2011

Invitation

Women of Faith:

You’re invited! You are invited to finish reading this invitation.
You’re invited to attend church each Sunday. Ex 31:12-17 & Heb 10:25
You’re invited to pray daily. Eph 6:18 & Col 4:2
You’re invited to accept your sufferings, just as Jesus accepted his. 1Peter 2:19-21
You’re invited to accept Jesus’ forgiveness and mercy. Mt 18: 21-22
You’re invited to serve one another. Mt 7:12

You’re invited to enrich your marriage. (Come to date night this next Sunday at 5:30 at St. Pat’s. (Email or call for daycare). Eph 5:25-26

“He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast, but they refused to come…..Then he said to his servants, 'The feast is ready, but those who were invited were not worthy to come. Go out, therefore, into the main roads and invite to the feast whomever you find. The servants went out into the streets and gathered all they found, bad and good alike, and the hall was filled with guests…..Many are invited, but few are chosen." Mt 22: 1-10

Do we say yes to the invitation?

Yes to bringing Christian messages into our lives. Mt 10:40
Yes to attending church each week and being fed food for eternal life. Jn 6:53-58
Yes to praying; asking and allowing God to take control of our lives. Mt 7:7-8
Yes to our sufferings; the acceptance of God’s will. Mt 6: 9-13
Yes to forgiveness; and yes to forgiving; compassion and the acceptance of His mercy. Mt 6:14
Yes to service; the acceptance of gladly working for God’s glory. Mt 25:35-40
Yes to strengthening the love within our marriages; accepting God’s design for faithfully, freely, totally and fruitfully being united together. Eph 4, 5, 6

Yes to attending the feast of Jesus where all are gathered, all are invited, but we will be chosen only because we have chosen to accept and say yes to God’s invitation of each of us.

Heavenly Father: “I shall live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. In verdant pastures he gives me repose; beside restful waters he leads me; he refreshes my soul. He guides me in right paths for his name's sake. Even though I walk in the dark valley I fear no evil; for you are at my side with your rod and your staff that give me courage.” Ps 23 Thank you for the invitation. Help me to humbly accept all that You offer. Amen.

You’re invited. Will you accept the invitation? And will you pass the invitation on!

Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, October 3, 2011

MVP

Women of Faith:

We took several members of Stan’s volleyball team to a college game yesterday. Not wanting the girls to miss the opportunity to attend a Sunday church service we invited them to attend with us before the match.

The priest gave a coaching homily for team players –although I am sure that was not really his intention when he prepared it.

He spoke first about “doing your best”—and how we feel when make excuses because we didn’t win.

He spoke about “investing” –toiling and laboring and how we feel when we let the team down, or don’t get the best grade.

He spoke about “trusting”—and how we feel when a team member lets us down.

He spoke about “teaching and sharing”—so that our teammates will grow with us, so that we can win together.

And the priest suggested that instead of asking God, “Why haven’t You answered my prayers?” and “What will You do for me?” We should ask, “What more can I do to give it my all?”

Should God be doing more for me, or should I be doing more for God?

We know what we want and we make our wants very specific. And typically we pray for what we want.

But do we pray for what God wants?

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4: 6-7

The priest said that we should be kept awake by the question, “Are we giving it our all?”

Do we have the qualities of an MVP?

Do we always do our best, or do we give up on ourselves, the team, or the coach when the going gets tough? Do we pray even when our prayers aren’t being answered the way we want?

Do we invest and practice hard; all the time, not just when it is convenient to us—even when we are tired—even when Sunday church service is not at the most convenient time or place? Do we go the extra step?

Do we treat our bodies with respect; eating, exercising and being nourished by the greatest food of all—the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist?

Do we trust God’s plan? Do we look for and follow the coaches He puts in our lives? Or do we follow coaches who have the easiest way?

Do we teach and share; so that in all of our relationships helping our teammates is a priority, so that we can get better together? Do we become a coach to others and share our God given talents, or do we just use them for our own purpose?

Jesus calls us to follow his example on the cross and to lay down our lives for others. Hopefully we are giving our all, especially to our spouses, children, parents and friends—our teammates in marriage, family and community.

Heavenly Father: ”Help me to do: whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.” Phil 4:8-9 Amen

God has given us the gifts to give it our all and to be his MVP’s—praying for HIS Will (investing); following HIS coaches (trusting); and serving HIM always (sharing).

Make your team better by making yourself better this week. Be God’s MVP!
Blessings, Charlotte

Monday, September 26, 2011

When Life isn't fair and I want to fix it

Women of Faith:
I texted to a friend this week: “I so want to help, but I know God is the only answer. Pray to forgive, pray to change, and pray to heal.”

I searched for hope and help and I was answered with my favorite prayer: “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Serenity Prayer)

And I thought: “Life is not fair. I should be able to change or help change more than myself.” So I searched for the wisdom to know “what is life, and what is me.” I searched for why I am not given control and why God is.

And as I pondered “how to help” he put answers in front of me with this week’s readings:

“Thus says the LORD: You say, "The LORD's way is not fair!" ... But if he turns from the wickedness he has committed, he does what is right and just, he shall preserve his life; since he has turned away from all the sins that he has committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Ez 18:25-28

“...Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vain glory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but also for those of others. Have in you the same attitude that is also in Christ Jesus. Who, though he was in the form of God ... emptied himself, ....he humbled himself, becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. ... that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend... Phil 2:1-5


Life isn’t fair and I can’t fix it no matter how much I want to help. I can’t take away the pain or suffering. And it won’t help to worry about a problem that I can’t fix.

I can’t fix someone else’s heartache. I can’t heal someone who is sick. And I can’t fix the corrupt world around me.

I can only change my own reactions and feelings. I can only pray for His healing of others. I can only try to mirror Jesus’ example here on earth: by forgiving more (70x7), serving more, and always loving more—by being completely selfless in each and every part of my day, in each and every relationship in my own life. And hopefully by being a good role model in my own choices—by choosing what would be God’s will.

There is always some part of life that is “not fair.” But I am not given the power to fix it. I am only given the means thru the power of prayer to ask God for His grace, His compassion, and His loving mercy.

And I don’t have any control. I can only pray for His healing, His strength, and His courage so that I can be with Him for all eternity.

My hope, my strength and my courage are in Him, thru Him and for Him.

I can only trust that God will hear my prayers.

Heavenly Father: Your mercy is all powerful. Thank you for giving us Your son to be an example of selfless loving; an example of true compassion thru the mercy of His forgiveness; and an example of what it means to never tire in serving others. Help me to share hope with those who struggle to see you in their pain. Help me to change myself by forgiving others; help me to have the courage to accept what I cannot change and help me to have wisdom, patience and understanding that it is not “my will” but your will that is done. Amen

It is with deep humility and heartfelt caring that I ask God for His blessings in our lives so that we will truly know the Prayer of Serenity,

Charlotte

Monday, September 19, 2011

Searching

Women of Faith:
This is a reflection of hope; a hope that I am always encouraged within the encounters of those also searching along a similar journey in their marriage vocations.

It is often how I feel after we spend time preparing for and sharing within our Covenant of Love, date night family as we did last night.

The response is overwhelming humbling. It is the knowledge that we are given so much, yet need so very little. It comes from those who are also searching for the truth. Ready to share, willing to give up everything for each other and yet so like ourselves in their struggles in daily life. Trying to balance love for each other with their own needs; trying to balance family needs with life’s worldly pressures.

I find myself searching for just the right words, to reach just one more person. I find myself searching for just the right answers, for some secret that will fix all the brokenness, not just in the small circle of those closest to us, but in the entire world around us.

And as most answers go, the answer is so close we tend to overlook the most obvious. (I had to look no farther than these readings left open on my computer.)

“With their patience worn out by the journey, the people complained against God and Moses…."We have sinned in complaining against the LORD and you. Pray the LORD to take the serpents from us."” 1 NM 21:4B-9

“Hearken, my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth…they inquired after God again, Remembering that God was their rock, … but they lied to him with their tongues, Though their hearts were not steadfast toward him, nor were they faithful to his covenant. But he, being merciful, forgave their sin and destroyed them not; ...Often he turned back his anger and let none of his wrath be roused. Do not forget the works of the Lord!" PS 78:1BC-2, 34-35, 36-37, 38

"Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped…., he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death,… that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend." 2 PHIL 2:6-11

“So must the Son of Man be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him may have eternal life." For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,but that the world might be saved through him." JN 3:13-17


Heavenly Father: With my patience worn thin, help me to remember that You are my rock. Thank you for forgiving all my sins, for not being angry when I search for something or someone other than Your all merciful truth. Let me bend my knee in prayer, so that I may have eternal life. Thank you for Your never ending merciful, healing, forgiveness. Thank you for sending us Your son so that we might all be saved. Amen.

It is through Him we have hope. It is through Him that our searching will be completed. It is through Him that we are saved.

Seek and you shall find! Forgive and be forgiven! Pray and your prayers will be answered!

Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, September 12, 2011

9/11 Promises Made

Friends in Faith:

Just over ten years ago as the Twin Towers fell in New York City, we counted our blessings, prayed for healing for those directly impacted, took extra time to give our spouses and children an extra tight hug and asked for forgiveness from those we had wronged.

In those moments we looked at each other differently—realizing just how fragile life is; realizing that life is about more than the possessions we accumulate or the trips we take. We appreciated and thanked God for all those we love—our spouses, our children, our parents and siblings, and all the friends we have shared with over the years.

Many of us felt as if God was trying to tell us something. “Remember your last days, set enmity aside; remember death and decay, and cease from sin! Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor; remember the Most High's covenant, and overlook faults.” 1 Sir 27:30-28:7

We made heartfelt promises—that we would pray more, hug more, be more patient, be more compassionate, and judge less.

We were also reminded of our need to forgive not only those closest to us, but the perpetrators of this devastation. “Peter approached Jesus and asked him, "Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?" Jesus answered, "I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” Mt 18:21-35

So we also promised to forgive more and be more merciful to those who cause us to sacrifice or to suffer. We understood in that moment that this is what Jesus was calling us to do.

But as Deacon Joe said on Sunday, “Change is not about words, change begins in our hearts.” It is about a change in our attitudes and the things we DO, not about the promises we make.

So, how many of these promises have we kept? Did we say it in the moment and after a time forget what we were reminded of in that instant? Did we return to living our lives “status quo” with more time for things than for people?

Did we truly “change our hearts?” Are we doing things differently now because of this moment in history? Are we listening to what God is telling us, living our faith, believing and changing our hearts to conform to His will instead of ours?

Heavenly Father, You are all forgiving, all loving and all merciful. Help me to treat those I love and those I meet in the same loving, merciful, and forgiving manner as You treat me. Thank you for the people in my life that You have blessed me with to serve and to love. May I continue to be reminded that life and those I love are what is truly important. Help me to take the time to pray more, love more, and forgive more. Amen.

May we be blessed in keeping the promises we made on 9-11-01.

Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, September 5, 2011

Love One Another

Women of Faith:

Listening to and reading God’s word is a little bit like watching a beloved movie, over and over again—no matter how many times you’ve seen or heard it, there is always something you missed the first time.

Yesterday’s readings were no different. “Owe nothing to anyone, except to love one another, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery; you shall not kill; you shall not steal; you shall not covet,” and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this saying, namely, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence love is the fulfillment of the law.” 2 Rom 13:8-10

For some reason as I listened I realized that none of this was about me, but rather it is all about the way I treat those around me. None of it is about how I must be “treated.” It really makes no difference whether “I feel” as if I have been slighted, because I am still suppose to give and to serve, regardless of how I am treated in return. It is about how I “want” to be treated, not how I “am” treated.

“But if you warn the wicked, trying to turn him from his way, and he refuses to turn from his way, he shall die for his guilt, but you shall save yourself.” 1 Ez 33:7-9

We are asked to have moral courage; the courage to tell others when they are “at risk” in not following God’s commandments. This isn’t always a pleasant task. There is only satisfaction when our warnings bring change. There are also those times when change does not come and a friend may be lost. But if I have prayed for the right words, if my reason for holding someone accountable, if my corrective words were said with love and encouragement then God’s heavenly reward will be and is much more important than how I feel now.

Is it no wonder then that when I feel the most joy, when I feel the most hope, when I feel the most love and satisfaction is when I have given of myself unconditionally, not when I have received something—because it truly is not about me, it is about how I am called to love.

Heavenly Father: Praise be Your way. Help me to be granted a clear understanding of how You want me to serve. Help me to seek Your rewards in heaven even when I am not feeling Your rewards here on earth. Thank You for giving me moments of joy in the rewards of satisfaction I feel when I see Your love being returned to others. Amen.

Love one another, not to receive something in return, but to fulfill God’s commandments. This is what we are called to do as Christians. Our reward will be heaven.

Blessings,
Charlotte
www.morningreflection.blogspot.com

Monday, August 29, 2011

I Don't Want to!

Women of Faith:

I wonder how many times during my lifetime I have said or thought “I don’t want to do that.”

I wanted healthier, happier, richer or better. I wanted more. I wanted something different than what I had at the moment. I didn’t want to serve. I didn’t want to suffer. I didn’t want to give up anything of my own.

But as Curtis Martin says in the book, ‘Made for More,’ it isn’t “my more,” it is “God’s more.” It is not “my will” but “thy will be done.”

I am here to serve Him. What I have is not mine, it is “His.” I am here to live as He did, that may mean I must suffer as He did. That means I must give my life for Him as He did for me. What would have happened had Jesus said, “I don’t want to?”

As I sat in church yesterday morning I was thinking about the rest of my day. Actually almost angry that it wasn’t going to go as I wanted because I had been given a job I didn’t want and didn’t ask for. I thought my job should have been assigned to someone else so that I could do what I wanted instead of having to do what “they” wanted.

And then it was as if God had chosen the bible readings for the morning especially to speak to me; specifically to remind me of why I was “put here in this place.”

“I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect.” Rom 12:1-2
He said, “Make the most of it.” “It is not about what you want, but what I want.” “I have a purpose for you today.” “You may not personally feel happier, healthier or richer, but by doing what is my will, by serving Me, by serving others, someone else may come to find Me in their own life.” “You are made for more.”

He reminded me that my life is about the choices I make for Him, not the choices I make for myself. He might ask me to do something I don’t want to do. Right now I am not supposed to know the reason because He does. He has a mission for me. If I am doing “His will” then I will be living His purpose for me. I will be serving someone that needs a kind word, sharing my gifts with someone who needs them more than me, or working because someone else can’t.

“You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.

“Then Jesus said to his disciples, "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life." Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father's glory, and then he will repay all according to his conduct." Mt 16: 21-27


I don’t know who I touched or who I might have served yesterday that needed to “feel” Him. But God does. It is not for me to know. It is God’s will, not mine.

Heavenly Father, in Your name I give You praise. Thank you for giving me healthy hands and feet which can work and stand for Your greater glory. Help me to accept that everything in my life will not always be better and that I may have to do something I don’t necessarily want to do; that I may even have to suffer as You did for me. Conform me to Your will. Make me More for You. Amen.

Today may be our day to serve our spouse, our children, our parents or a friend—with a kind word, patience or a hug. It may not be “convenient” to do so but we are made to serve Him, not ourselves. We are made to “live for more!”

May you be richly blessed for doing God’s will,

Charlotte

Monday, August 22, 2011

Being Led

Women of Faith:
I am often asked where I come up with the thoughts to send each week: I look for the Spirit in what I am reading, hearing and my thoughts.

“Have you ever wondered how other people have learned to discern God’s will? George Mueller, a nineteenth century English pastor who was known for his life of prayer and his close walk with God, once shared this simple method for determining God’s will through prayer and the Word:

1. “I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter.

2. “Having done this. I do not leave the result to feeling or simple impression. If so, I make myself liable to great delusions.

3. “I seek the Will of the Spirit of God through, or in connection with the Word of God… If the Holy Ghost guides us at all, He wil do it according to the Scriptures and never contrary to them.

4. “Next I take into account providential circumstances. These often plainly indicate God’s Will in connection with His Word and Spirit.

5. “I ask God in prayer to reveal His Will to me aright.

6. “Thus, (1) though prayer to God, (2) the study of the Word, and (3) reflection, I come to a deliberate judgment according to the best of my ability and knowledge, and if my mind is thus at peace and continues so after two or three more petitions, I proceed accordingly.”

So this week I share with you the following: for those who are suffering because of illness or a lack of peace in their minds and hearts and for those who are trying to help them.

“I wonder what the world would be like if there were not innocent people making reparation for us all..? Today the Passion of Christ is being relived in the lives of those who suffer. To accept that suffering is a gift of God. Suffering is not a punishment. Suffering is a gift – though, like all gifts, it depends on how we receive it. And that is why we need a pure heart – to see the hand of God, to feel the hand of God, to recognize the gift of God in our suffering. Suffering is not a punishment. Jesus does not punish. Suffering is a sign – a sign that we have come so close to Jesus on the cross that he can kiss us, show that he is in love with us by giving us an opportunity to share in his Passion. Suffering is not a punishment, nor a fruit of sin; it is a gift of God. He allows us to share in his suffering and to make up for the sins of the world.” From The Best Gift Is Love MOTHER TERESA OF CALCUTTA

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way, walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21

May you find peace in your walk today, through prayer, through scripture and through your contemplative thoughts with God.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, August 15, 2011

To Be or not to BE?

Women of Faith:
I am a planner. Sometimes very organized, sometimes a little chaotic, but still I need to know where I am going and how I am going to get there. I want to know how a new recipe is going to taste, what roads we are going to take to get to someone’s house and what we are going to talk about at date night next Sunday.

I make lists. Last week’s list included cleaning out the overfull refrigerator, watering my plants and organizing the growing box of date night and marriage enrichment resources which was scattered in the office.

I felt great when I found a recipe which helped me clean out the refrigerator and saved a shopping trip.

And while I was cleaning the office I found a bunch of marriage ministry articles I had saved earlier this summer which are just right for sharing.

And I look for the “tried and true:” what worked in the past and what’s likely to work this “new” time. A recipe that is a friends favorite and date night resources which “speak to me” with stories that mirror our own or other relationships which have struggled and succeeded with issues that are real.

But I can also be frustrated and thrown “off task” by recipes which require a shopping trip for odd ingredients and interruptions in my list like the flower bed full of weeds while I was watering the plants.

And I have a tendency to want to be in FULL control and much too independent, like forgetting to ask for the help of friends who may have the “perfect” dessert recipe, or by pulling the weeds instead of using the spray can of round up which might take care of the weeds permanently.

So what’s my “ultimate” goal? Heaven! And the “ultimate” plan? God’s list: written and unwritten; passed down in the bible (Sacred Scripture) and by His followers, His friends, the disciples of Christ(Sacred Tradition).

It reminds me of the recipes I use, some in books, some in the traditions of the cooks (like my mom’s kolache recipe which can’t quite be perfected on paper.)

As I look at the “ultimate list” I see the bible which gives me Ten Commandments, the wisdom of Proverbs, and the do’s and don’ts of families and marriage in Ephesians.

And the Church was gives me the ultimate in tried and true traditions. The Tradition which gives us the words handed from Peter to each of the succeeding Popes-those happenings which were just too numerous to all be written on paper.
But now for the “real” question.

To be, or not to be?

Yes, this is the “real” question. Am I using the “ultimate” list and the “ultimate” plan: God’s words and the “tried and true?” Am I truly following the wisdom and the traditions of these very wise and understanding teachers? Am I frustrated because I have gotten sidetracked by the world rather than giving up control and becoming more dependent on God? Do I ask for His help in prayer, to God, thru Mary, and by joining with our families in Church?

If not, why not? Do we really BELIEVE in our “ultimate goal?” What is stopping us from changing our ways? What obstacles and bad habits prevent us from using the right lists and following the right recipes?

Do we pray daily? “Pray without ceasing.” 1Thes 5:16-24“Be persistent in prayer.” Colossians 4: 2

Ask God to actively BE a part of your life, so that your plans are his plans and your actions reflect His love in every list we make and every recipe we follow. And also then in thanksgiving for everyone and everything he places in our lives.

“We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance in hope of our Lord Jesus Christ… For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with much conviction ...And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, receiving the word in great affliction, with joy from the Holy Spirit, so that you became a model for all the believers…” Paul’s words to the Thessalonians 1: 2-7

Heavenly Father: Praise to Your Being! Help me to want to Be, not just to believe. Help me to lead and not just to be a follower. Help me to move with courage on my beliefs. Guide me on Your path. May I BE In You, With You and For You, today and always. Help me to Be more like Your Son. In Your name I pray. Amen.

May your list this week be modeled after God’s list,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, August 8, 2011

What is God's Plan for Marriage?

What is the most important job most people will ever have?

We attend school for 12, 16, maybe even 20 years so that we can learn our career, our profession.

However, there is a vocation much more important than our job – it is being a spouse every day, 24-7, for the rest of our lives.

How many of us have gone to school to become that spouse, to learn our roles as husbands and wives?

Did you know that God not only invented marriage but also has a plan for marriage? (Genesis 2:24)

Do you know what the bible says about marriage and that plan? Have you ever wished there was a job description for your marriage? (Eph 4, Eph 5 21-33, Eph 6; 1 Cor 13)

We all know that men and women communicate differently. Do you know how to understand and communicate with your spouse? Why do finances create problems in marriage? How do we become role models for our children? Are our priorities right in God’s eyes?

Marriage is the most important job we will ever have. Our spouse is the most important relationship we will ever have. But do we really understand our “spousal” job as God intended?

Pope John Paul II said, ”As goes the marriage, so goes the family; as goes the family, so goes the community; as goes the community, so goes the nation; and as goes the nation, so goes the world.”

60% of all marriages end in divorce (that is SIX out of every TEN!!) We are being divided, split apart by society. Marriage is intended to join us in our homes, in our communities, in our nation and in our world!

When couples attend weekly church together only 1 out of 250 (.4%) of those marriages end in divorce. And of couples who pray together daily only 1 out of 1110 (.008%) marriages end in divorce.

How did we learn who our spouse was? We dated them. How do we continue to “connect” and grow together? We date them, we spend “intimate” time with them—that is why the nakedness of prayer is so important and so unifying, it is the most intimate conversation we will ever have with each other.

The Covenant of Love marriage enrichment program was created by Greg and Julie Alexander. Their marriage was headed for divorce when a priest asked them some of these questions. When they found the answers they realized that God’s plan for their marriage and their roles in that marriage was much different than the lives they were leading. They had never “learned” God’s plan.

The Alexander House Date Night Program was created for all couples, whether happily married or needing revived, to enrich and renew Christian marriage. The program explores what God says our roles as spouses should be, what His plan is for our marriage and how God’s role differs from the influences of society. The program provides tips and tools to facilitate better communication with our spouses, to practically live our marriage as God intended, and to help couples to get comfortable praying together.

Please join us as we explore God’s plan for marriage; the sacramentality and permanence of marriage; communication and fidelity in marriage; and give practical tips and tools so that Your Marriage Works in Christ and follows God’s plan to get us to heaven.

Comments from previous date nights: “We haven’t had a serious disagreement since we started coming six months ago;” “Well worth coming to, very comfortable and interesting;” “We wish we would have had this information when we were first married;” and the makings of a true date: “The food is awesome!”

Upcoming dates August 21, September 18, October 16, November 13 and December 11, 2011 5:30-8:00 St. Pat's Catholic Church, Tama, Iowa 900 Park St. Call 641-484-3646 to request free daycare for the event.

The team will provide all of the necessities of a fun and entertaining date: food and beverage, childcare, fellowship and faith sharing with other like minded Christian couples who know the importance of marriage. We also have marriage building tools such as books, CD’s and other materials to share with your friends and family. There is no charge for the evening! Freewill donation available.
Engaged or married 60+ years, your spouse is waiting to be taken on a date!

Misunderstanding

Women of Faith:

I often wonder how many of my intentions and my words are misunderstood. Whether it is through a deliberate “I don’t want to hear that today” or a lack of communication, poor hearing, or my “mumbled” voice, being misunderstood usually has unintended and undesired consequences.

The definition for misunderstanding is “mistake, mix-up, error, confusion and misinterpretation.” None of these are intentional and yet our human instinct is to be hurt, get angry and to hold a grudge.

The more we “mistrust” in a relationship, the more we are misunderstood in that relationship. And we tend to judge with that lack of trust, instead of with the loving heart of God.

Three times this weekend we are told to “trust.” We are told that God is in the “whispers” (silence, conscious) of our hearts. And we are told that Jesus is speaking the “truth.” 1 Kings 19:9a, 11-13a, Romans 9:1-5, Matthew 14:22-33

There is no room for misunderstanding or misinterpretation in God’s words. God is clearly present in a whisper to Elijah, as Jesus instructs the Jews and finally when Jesus walks on water for His disciples to prove to all that He is present, real and clearly in charge of our world.

Then the LORD said to him, “Go outside and stand on the mountain before the LORD; the LORD will be passing by.” ….but the LORD was not in the wind. …but the LORD was not in the earthquake. …but the LORD was not in the fire. After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak.” 1 Kings 19: 11-13a

In all relationships there are misunderstandings. I find that many of my own misunderstandings come from “mishearing” over a poor phone connection. Stan and I often catch something we “mishear” immediately between us and comment that that is how “rumors start.”

Sadly, in marriage and families I often see misunderstandings which cause a lifetime of hurt, anger, and even divorce or severed relationships between parent and child or siblings.

Most of these misunderstandings happen because we don’t trust each other enough to realize that the misheard words or misinterpreted deeds were not meant in a manner to be unloving. Or the deed s is bearing past hurts, anger or frustration. We interpret in human terms, rather than with the eyes of God.

“But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened; and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter, and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Matthew 14:27-31

In effect, just like the disciples who had difficulty believing Jesus was truly present; just like we look for God in the big, rather than the small; just as the disciples didn’t trust Jesus when he walked on water towards them, so do we mistrust and misunderstand the good intentions of the people who love us.

Our pride and our anger block out the love that is God’s gift to each of us. Our pride and anger allow us to build on our misunderstandings, rather than to search for and trust in the truth of love.

And, we forget to say “I’m sorry” regularly, and “I forgive you” in response.

Our misunderstandings become like a cancer – large enough to erode or kill the entire relationship.

Heavenly Father: You sent Your son to earth to lead us by example. Help us to have hearts which trust that you are always present, ears which hear your whispers in the silence and hands stretched out to help others walk on water in trust. Help me to forgive unconditionally. Thank You for the gift of all those who love me. Amen.

May you be blessed with the gift of the truth of an understanding heart.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dull

Friends in Faith:
Are you feeling dull, bored, wanting more, something different, something new, a change?

Isn’t that how we sometimes feel with our closest friends, or even our spouses? Like we’ve heard the same story over and over again, or eaten the same meal at the same restaurant multiple times, or even gotten up to the same “tune” each morning?

Are we continually seeking someone or something new; somebody more exciting; someone with more time, more money or more things to entertain us?

How often do we fail to “see” the gifts we are given and the prayers that are being answered simply because we have “gotten used” to their presence?

Is this how we feel about Mass, Church, and the Eucharist? Are we so “used” to the blessings and the offering that we no longer see the sacrifice, the hope, and the love given?

Are we continually seeking more and more and more?

We have been graced with the gift of the Eucharist, repeated daily or at least weekly in our lives. But has that repetition “dulled” our senses for the one true gift that is the answer to all of our prayers, hopes, dreams and even sufferings; the gift that feeds us spiritually and physically; the gift that can completely fill us emotionally over and over and over again.


“Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.”
John 6:54-56 Wow, what can be “dull” about this promise?

In the miracle of the multiplication of the loaves and fishes ‘Jesus said to them,
“There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.”’
Mt 14:13-21

Have we forgotten that Jesus feeds us regularly so that we never need to “go away;”so that we will never “want” for anything as long as He is our strength and we allow Him to give us our “daily bread?”

Have we forgotten that Jesus also asks us to “give them some food ourselves?”

One of the things that I have learned is that giving is more fun than receiving. Giving is never dull, I never get bored in giving and every gift given presents a change, a new reaction, a new reward—possibly more for me, the giver, than even the receiver.

Is that how Jesus feels when He gives us the Spirit, the Eucharist, the grace to move forward in hope?

Heavenly Father: We are blessed by Your gifts, especially the gift of Your Son. Help me to use my gifts wisely and to be filled by the gifts that You have given me. May the gifts I share fulfill the needs of those I meet so that we will each be filled with the Spirit. Amen.

Be renewed and refreshed by the Spirit that is ever present. And then give so that others might also receive.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Prayers for a follower

Please pray for Melissa Viers, 28, Creston Iowa. She is my daughter Sara's college roommate. Her story follows. Her cancer has returned and is in her bones and lungs.
Thank you and Blessings
Charlotte


Article is from the Ames Star Tribune March 2011
A benefit at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Nevada this Saturday will help a Creston family, with ties to Nevada and Maxwell, cope with the harsh financial reality of cancer treatments.

James and Melissa Viers, who grew up in the Nevada and Maxwell area, are no strangers to helping others in their community—James has been a full-time firefighter in Creston since 2006, and Melissa has been working as a breast feeding peer counselor with the MATURA office in Creston. MATURA is the designated Community Action Agency for several counties in Iowa, and offers program services for low-income families, individuals and children.

The sad irony is that it was breast feeding that led Melissa to discover she had breast cancer. “I was still nursing my youngest at the time, and I found a lump,” she said. “He was staying with family and I was pumping for him when I found it. I didn’t think anything of it because when I picked him up I was able to nurse him again and it didn’t hurt.”

But a couple of weeks passed and the lump seemed to be getting worse, so Melissa went to have her doctor examine it. “My doctor thought it was just a cyst, but he wanted to be careful so he ordered an ultrasound, and that didn’t show anything. About two or three weeks later I had a biopsy, which came back positive for cancer,” she said.

Since Melissa started chemotherapy, the medical bills have been starting to pile up. “Last year wasn’t too bad—insurance covered most of it. But we have to meet all of our out-of-pocket expenses this year,” Melissa said. Couple the chemo costs with the therapy for their daughter, who Melissa said was born very premature, and things add up fast. “We have to come to Des Moines once a week anyway and the travel costs and out-of-pocket costs are really starting to rack up,” she said.

It also doesn’t help that the Viers’ insurance health insurance is now trying to deny payment for one of the treatments Melissa needs. “Our insurance is denying one of my chemo drugs that I have to have once a week for 12 weeks—we haven’t gotten the bill for that yet, but I’m not looking forward to it,” she said.

Melissa said their church family from Cornerstone Baptist in Afton has been very helpful in assisting her family; and now her friends and family here are looking to help assist them financially with a benefit.

The Viers benefit will be a soup supper/silent auction at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Nevada on Saturday, March 26, from 5-7 p.m. Viers’ stepmother, Kim Flynn, said that companies such as Ben Franklin, Pioneer, Hy-Vee and Ames Racquet and Fitness Center have donated items for the silent auction. Flynn said they are requesting “good will donations” for the soup supper.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Pearl

Women of Faith:

With all of the recent tragedies that have affected my friends and family in the past several weeks I can’t help but wonder what message God is trying to give each of us. Personally, it seems like He is trying to get our attention, to get us to depend on Him for our daily needs, and to get us to realize what is really “valuable” in our lives. I also think He is giving us the opportunity to serve one another by letting us help each other in all ways possible: prayer, food, cleanup hands, a listening ear, comfort, or simply a hug.

As I have listened to those affected by both tragedies and storms, some in multiple ways in their lives –through the death or illness of a close family member (or members) and then blasted by the natural disaster of the storms we have so recently seen-- I have heard the pattern of the talk shift from “this is so terrible” to “it could have been much worse.”

There is a consistent “theme” that all of the THINGS lost were not as important as what was saved—life and our faith in God….

“Jesus said to his disciples: “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.” Mt 13:44-46

Faith in God, husbands, wives, children, family and friends, wisdom and understanding—these are the pearls in our lives. Most of us would give up all of the “stuff” we have in our lives so that we could keep loved ones with us forever. And most of us would pay any amount of money to keep our loved ones from harm or from hurt.

Unfortunately for some of those who recently lost someone they loved it wasn’t until they were lost that those who loved them realized just how important they were in their lives. But even in these tragedies, I have heard mentioned more than once the comfort the family received because of the knowledge that they are/were not alone, that not only was their family member loved, but so are they loved.

How many times do we miss the “pearl” inside our life? How many times are the “pearls” in our lives overlooked because they are buried under an ocean of stuff?
How many times are the “pearls” lost because they are washed away by the current of the culture? How many times do we reject a “pearl” because it does not look perfect? And how many new “pearls” are found, because another one was lost?

Almighty Father: Blessed be Your name. You turn grains of sand into pearls. Help me to keep my eyes, ears and heart open to the “pearls” in my life that were sent here by You. Thank you for giving me the wisdom and understanding to know that the lives of those I meet are the real pearls in my life. Help me never to reject or overlook the “pearls” You give me which will enrich my faith and my life. And give me the patience to wait for the grain of sands in my life to become the pearls you intend them to be. Amen.

I consider each of you a pearl in my life. Look for the pearls in your own lives this week.
Blessings,
Charlotte
www.morningreflection.blogspot.com

Monday, July 18, 2011

Patience Required

Women of Faith:

I’ll admit it, I can be very judgmental and don’t have a lot of patience for all of the wrongs I see around me. I want EVERY relationship, every marriage, to be loving and kind. I want kids to be disciplined and obedient. I want communication between families to be “right.” I hope that more will give, more will serve and more will dedicate their gifts to others. I wish everyone could “see” the difference between the truths of the Church and the evils of society.

I am impatient with laws and the interpretation of laws which allow and tolerate freedoms which so obviously go against God’s natural design for life. I think our laws should protect us from abortion, pornography, terrorism, gay marriage and other self-serving greed. And I want immediate change and the satisfaction of seeing a world changed by God’s perfection.

Sunday’s reading of the parable of the weeds sown among the seeds of grain was a gentle, humble reminder of the fact that God is stronger than the abundance of evil around us. It gave me hope because it reminded me that the devil who plants the evil among us won’t be the ultimate decision maker over which seeds will be harvested.
I must be patient….

"Explain to us the parable of the weeds in the field.” He said in reply, “He who sows good seed is the Son of Man, the field is the world, the good seed the children of the kingdom. The weeds are the children of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels. Just as weeds are collected and burned up with fire, so will it be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will collect out of his kingdom all who cause others to sin and all evildoers. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Whoever has ears ought to hear.” Mt 13:24-33

Jesus taught in a parable, but then explained that parable so that it wasn’t left to our own interpretation. He said that each of us, as children of God, were created as good seed and that the “bad” seed is sown by the devil who is trying to choke out our good nature, the nature God created in each of us. Jesus said that none of us will be thrown out until the last day, because to do so might be to throw out someone who might change, and God is giving us time to change and always allows us the opportunity of forgiveness for our sins.

We are reminded that it is God who has the ultimate power, and that it is in God’s time that these decisions will be made. We are told that if we succeed in growing healthy amongst the evil weeds we will ultimately be harvested into His kingdom in heaven.

Aw, more patience…..

“For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all. For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved…. and you gave your children good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins.” Wis 12:13, 16-19

Again a reminder that I must be patient for there is perfection in God. A perfection that allows Him to be perfectly tolerant, perfectly lenient, and perfectly merciful, as we slowly change, growing in our faith to become the grain that He has so lovingly planted and that He will harvest when it is His chosen time.

Heavenly Father, I am awed by the mercy you show us when we give in to the evil that continues to plant weeds around us. Thank you for Your merciful forgiveness. Thank you for giving us Your son as the sunshine to light our way. Thank you for giving us the Spirit raining down upon us so that we can grow stronger each day. Help us to avoid the choke hold of the evils planted in our lives and stand strong together as Christians. Help us each to assist each other in finding Your good soil and to be patient as we grow together in Your love. Amen.

May we each be as patient, tolerant and merciful of each other’s sins and imperfections as God is of ours.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, July 11, 2011

Caught in the Storm

Women of Faith:

I was awakened this morning to continuous lightening, wind and rain pounding against my window and darkness caused by no electricity, tree branches, roof shingles and debris scattering across our yard. I can’t remember the last time we actually felt the need to go to the basement in the storm, but this morning was one of them.

The weather seemed to be reflecting the storm of my out of control life. All I really wanted was the peace of a calm restful night.

Summer has always been busy, but for some reason the last few weeks (and the upcoming several) have made me feel as if I am caught in a storm not of my own making. While the calendar isn’t all that full of “have to’s,” there seems to be a continuous list of responsibilities and needs, all seemingly urgent.

We’ve had travel plans and company; parties and friends; good times and sad times with friends and family. I feel like I have a million things to do but no time to do any of them. My list of “to dos” is growing faster than I can write. And I am having a hard time deciding what should be made the priority.

I feel caught in the storm.

I keep trying to get my bearings, to stand up straight and to find the light but I am being knocked around by heavy branches and worldly debris. I feel like I am running against the wind.

Every project, every responsibility has a deadline and that deadline was yesterday; every need seems to have an urgent desire to be fulfilled, and every friend and family problem seems to be something of great importance.

No I’m not complaining about life. I know that I have more than I need. I know that simply living in America gives me blessings that I consider “basic” and the rest of the world can’t even comprehend.

I am blessed by friends and family to love and that love me. I have enjoyed opportunities to be in their presence, whether for a few short hours or a few precious days. I have food, shelter, clothing, a job, health, a standing barn and freedoms that many only dream of.

Just making the list of these basic gifts makes me feel overwhelmingly guilty. And I am reminded that my purpose isn’t of this world; that God will provide my daily needs and that my reliance on God is really all that is important.

“Then would the waters have overwhelmed us; the torrent would have swept over us. Over us then would have swept the raging waters. Blessed be the LORD, who did not leave us." PS 124: 4-6

I know that the storm that I feel is just His way of saying there is something far more important than my wants, than my desires. That the storm I am caught in is of my own making.

What I also know is that God is using both the physical, thunderstorm; and the mental, struggling, out of control feeling; to remind me that it is God who is supposed to have control of my life.

He is reminding me that I need to remember my blessings; he is reminding me that He
is in protecting me. He is reminding me to PRAY, to be quiet and to listen. And He is reminding me that I need Him in my life more than I need any of the other things I am trying “to do.” That His Spirit will work if I let it. That He will sort out the priorities if I let Him.

Heavenly Father, I praise You who are all powerful, You who never leaves me, and You who that always protects me. Thank you for being the light in the darkness of the storm. Thank you for protecting me from the debris of life. And thank you for my many blessings. Help me to allow you to have control of the turmoil that is life. I look forward to the peace granted by Your Spirit in the calm after the storm. Amen.

I pray that you will all be protected from the storms of life (and weather) this week.
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, July 4, 2011

The Freedom of God's Amazing Grace

Friends in Faith,

Happy 4th of July! America was founded under God to give us the freedom to create and the opportunities to achieve a bucket list. Are the bucket lists we have created with the freedom of our independence something that God would be proud of?

“Consequently, brothers and sisters, we are not debtors to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live.” Rom 8:9, 11-13

Is the bucket list you have created heavy with goals of the world rather than the Spirit? Is your bucket filled with self doubts or self pity that you don’t have enough worldly gifts to reach the bottom so that you can empty the bucket? Is the bucket filled with worries about family, friends and things that cloud the goals with fear?

“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart; and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.” Mt 11:25-30

So who lightens your bucket? Who is in your life to help you see clearly to the bottom, unload the burdens, and empty the bucket?

“Know that I am with you; I will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land. I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.” Gn 8:10-22a

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found, was blind, but now, I see. T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear. And Grace, my fears relieved. How precious did that Grace appear the hour I first believed. Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come. T'was Grace that brought us safe thus far and Grace will lead us home. The Lord has promised good to me His word my hope secures. He will my shield and portion be as long as life endures.” Lyrics Amazing Grace

God’s amazing Grace. The Grace that He gives us in the Spirit is always with us, always near us, and always promised to us no matter how heavy, how murky, or how covered up the goals become. His Grace, His Amazing Grace, will help lighten our load, will help carry and empty the bucket, will help free us to get us to our own ultimate goal and to help others get to what should be their ultimate bucket goal—heaven.

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4: 6-7

God’s grace calls us not to worry, to always ask and to always give thanks to God for all that we have. If we can remember to ask, if we can remember who has given us every blessing, if we can remember who is ultimately responsible, not only for helping us attain our bucket list, but also for who is in charge of what should be in our bucket list, than His Amazing Grace will also lighten our burdens and flow into us when we need Him the most.

As servants of God we are called to be the spouse, the spiritual advisor, or the friend who can help lighten someone’s bucket by making someone smile through their tears; by saying a comforting word to give someone a glimmer of hope; or by using our gifts with the purpose for which God intended.

God is giving us Grace to be shared, the Spirit that needs to be spread, and the hand to lighten our spouses, neighbors, or friends load by sharing their sufferings and sacrificing our own worldly goals for that which is spiritual.

Is our service to God today, not to complete our own bucket list but to help someone carry their bucket, or to lighten their load? Are our words and deeds helping someone accomplish their bucket list by clearing the junk out of their bucket?

Heavenly Father, In you my God, I place my trust. Thank you for giving me a bucket to fill. Help me to fill that bucket with YOUR desires for me. Help me to share my gifts so that they will help lighten the buckets of those around me. Please fill the buckets of my family with Your Amazing Grace. Thank you for the people who sacrificed their lives so that we can live in a land so abundantly rich and so free. May I always be reminded that the richness, the freedoms, that have been given to me are from You and are for Your purpose. Amen.

May your bucket be filled with the Spirit of His Amazing Grace,
Blessings,
Charlotte

Monday, June 27, 2011

We Are Fed

Friends of Faith:

I want to be fed. I want satisfaction. We all want the satisfaction of feeling full—fully happy, fully successful & fully fed. But these are human desires, human needs & human wants. There is only one thing that will truly satisfy us, truly fill us & truly feed us – and that is to be ONE with God—to be spiritually full--to be spiritually fed.

The nature of sin experienced by Adam and Eve is still present in all humans as we continue to be tempted to search for worldly happiness, worldly success & worldly satisfaction. But in both the New and Old Testament readings this weekend: Deuteronomy 8 & John 6, in the Lord’s Prayer, and in many other places in the Bible, we are reminded and promised by God that He is always here for us and He will always provide us what we need to live. Whether it is the manna of the Old Testament or Christ’s body and blood of the New he gives us the food to fill us spiritually and physically.

In Dt. 8 ‘Moses reminds the people in the desert to "remember their story.”’From the beginning of creation, God had always taken care to feed the people He created. They failed to appreciate the delicious fruit in the Garden of Eden, so they lost it! But later He gave them that mysterious "manna" in the desert. They got tired of that, too.

Then Jesus promised His listeners something much better than manna. He told them, "Your fathers ate manna in the desert, and they're all dead!" However, they couldn't trust Jesus and all His talk about "flesh and blood." So, they ran, except Peter and the apostles who did a double-take, thought a little about the alternative of leaving Him, and decided to stay it out.”
Usccb.org meditation June 26, 2011

“Jesus said to the Jewish crowds: "I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world."

The Jews quarreled among themselves, saying, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" Jesus said to them, "Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. Just as the living Father sent me and I have life because of the Father, so also the one who feeds on me will have life because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Unlike your ancestors who ate and still died, whoever eats this bread will live forever."
Jn 6:51-58

”How good it was, for the Church and for themselves, that they did stay! Even though the Last Supper was still shrouded in mystery, they got the idea of how He would give them His own Body and Blood at the Last Supper, but it took the power and light of Pentecost for their firm understanding.” Usccb.org meditation June 26, 2011

Do we fail to appreciate and understand that Jesus is truly present in the Eucharist? Have we lost true fulfillment because we are searching for something more, by accepting something actually less; something more pleasing, more palpable than His true presence in the Eucharist.

Jesus let many listeners leave him who did not understand. Had Jesus said this metaphorically or meant the Eucharist to be a symbol, he then would have called them back. But because he meant this was His true flesh and blood he let them go. What is being lost by those who don’t understand? What are we losing because we are choosing to be fed by the world instead of God?

We too have the free choice to believe and to receive His body and blood in the Eucharist, fully following Him and being fed; or to turn away from the completeness of the Eucharist, leaving ourselves empty or wanting, searching for more.

God promises us fulfillment. Are we trying to understand the truth so that we can be fully fed? Not by this world, but to be fed by God’s true presence renewed each time we receive the Eucharist—to be truly FED, with the TRUE presence.

Heavenly Father: May the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in the most Blessed Sacrament, be praised, adored, and loved. Thank You for the sacrifice given to us in His Body and Blood at each Eucharistic sacrifice. Help me to allow myself to be fed and to take the time to be fed by You and not the world. Amen.”

Be fed in Christ, by Christ, through Christ,
Blessings,
Charlotte