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,


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.

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,

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!


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.

Monday, August 1, 2011


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.