Monday, September 30, 2013


Friends of Faith:
“Compete well for the faith.” 1 Tim 6: 12
Volleyball season at our house can be a challenge, often stressful and overly busy. The past couple of weeks have certainly been that, as Stan’s team played their toughest two challengers, immediately followed by homecoming week, another two tough matches and concluding with the distraction of a tournament on the day of the homecoming dance.

Over the years, we both remind ourselves, others, the parents and the team—“it’s not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.”
So the challenge in a week where you end up going from a decisively winning season to a so-so just over break even season, is to truly believe those words and to look for and find the good in “how you played (or coached) the game.”

The same can be said in a far more important game, that of our eternal faith life: “Am I competing well?” “How am I playing the game?” “Am I giving it my all?” “Am I working as a team, and bringing them up with me?” “Am I listening to and following the coaches (God’s) instructions?” “Would God, the final judge, call me a winner?” AND “Am I spending as much time on training for heaven as I am on winning socially here on earth?”
These are the team instructions:
“Those who are under the yoke of slavery must regard their masters as worthy of full respect, so that the name of God and our teaching may not suffer abuse. Those whose masters are believers must not take advantage of them because they are brothers but must give better service because those who will profit from their work are believers and are beloved.
Whoever teaches something different and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the religious teaching is conceited, understanding nothing, and has a morbid disposition for arguments and verbal disputes. From these come envy, rivalry, insults, evil suspicions, and mutual friction among people with corrupted minds, who are deprived of the truth, supposing religion to be a means of gain. Indeed, religion with contentment is a great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it. If we have food and clothing, we shall be content with that. Those who want to be rich are falling into temptation and into a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all evils, and some people in their desire for it have strayed from the faith and have pierced themselves with many pains. “But you, man of God, pursue righteousness, devotion, faith, love, patience, and gentleness. Compete well for the faith. Lay hold of eternal life, to which you were called when you made the noble confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you before God, who gives life to all things, and before Christ Jesus, who gave testimony under Pontius Pilate for the noble confession, to keep the commandment without stain or reproach.” 1Tim 6: 1-14

First we need a goal in life. Is it heavenly richness? Or is it earthly riches.

Next we need a game plan with the assistance of His coaches…The Church (His apostolic succession, trainers of the Word) and His Word--BIBLE (Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth.)
And finally we need to actually do the things we say we believe – we need to train for the game, give God’s instructions, the coaching manual, our utmost attention, and spend our time living for Christ at 100% so the rest of the team will win with us.

The instructions say: respect (the maker—God AND the players, those created in His image and likeness—every human being), serve (train well by doing good works), don’t listen to and be tempted by false teachings (societies“what makes me happy” goal), get back to the basic richness (food and clothing, the Eucharist), and find contentment with simple religion (the Church Christ instituted).

Heavenly Father, ultimate coach and trainer, You gave us all the means to win, by giving us Your Son, Jesus Christ. Thank you for your constant forgiveness and mercy of my continual training errors (sins). Send Your Spirit upon me with the grace of courage and perseverance against the enemies of conceit, envy and earthly riches. Help me to have the discipline and focus to follow your moral truths and set aside my own selfish desires so that I will serve the team (my spouse and/or my family) and encourage my neighbors to an even higher level of competition. Amen.

There is only ONE Team Win that matters—and it’s how we live the journey that will accomplish the win for us all.
In Christ,

Monday, September 23, 2013

Proclaim the Beauty

Friends of Faith:

Proclaiming the Beauty, Goodness and Truth of Christ.
Christ lived it. Pope Francis proclaims it. Are we doing our own part to live and proclaim it?

What does our life, our marriage, our family, our speech and our choices, say about the beauty, goodness and truth of being Christian? (Proclaiming the Beauty, Goodness and Truth of Marriage)
Do you have that one large family that you admire that doesn’t seem to have a lot of “rich” ie money, but always seems to have it together by just being together, by the way they take care of each other?

I often say I give credit for many of my behaviors and attitudes to my grandparents, parents and aunts and uncles. It is because they showed me what it means to help out a neighbor, to serve within our family and community, and to forgive those who hurt us in anyway. They showed me the beauty of having Christ thru the Church in our family and in their own marriages because being together as a family in church was always an important part of our gathering together.
It was important for us to gather not just on holidays, but whenever possible. Traveling and vacation meant visiting cousins, playing cards, flying kites and Grandma’s walnut cookies and kolaches. We enjoyed just being together. And we were taught that peace and joy was found in giving instead of receiving by being active volunteers in our neighborhoods and communities.

We went to church every week as a family and often as an extended family, looking forward to the next time we would gather. Church was a priority and a central gathering place, a treasure that we looked forward to, especially when we traveled and got to visit someone else’s parish.
Have you ever tried to “hide” what is important, good or bad? Have you ever noticed that it is the church steeple that rises above other buildings in your community, and the bad news which gets all the publicity? But dark (bad) can be hidden, extinguished, by just a little light. And the beauty of Christ is that light.

Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light. Take care, then, how you hear. To anyone who has, or will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away.” Lk 8: 16-18
Light or darkness, there is no in between; for Christ or against him, there is no in between.

'The Amen, the faithful and true witness, the source of God's creation, says this: "I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, 'I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,' and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined by fire so that you may be rich, and white garments to put on so that your shameful nakedness may not be exposed, and buy ointment to smear on your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and chastise. Be earnest, therefore, and repent. "'Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, then I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me. I will give the victor the right to sit with me on my throne, as I myself first won the victory and sit with my Father on his throne. "'Whoever has ears ought to hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'" Rev 3: 14-22
Hot or cold, not lukewarm; rich or poor—in God’s view; light or dark; open door or closed—It is our/my choice to see and proclaim the beauty.

God is standing outside our door with a light that is the truth. Do I see the beauty and proclaim the truth? Will “I enter his house (church) and dine with him, and him in me” (receive His body in the Eucharist)?
Or have I hidden the light, become lukewarm (through misguided priorities), or for any reason completely closed that door (through sin), so that all that is seen from the outside is a lukewarm hypocrite. (Do I proclaim my Christianity but do nothing to live it?)

In his goodness and mercy God will wait forever for me to turn the handle and reopen the door to arrive at His beauty. He will not leave, if I repent—he will forgive, AND His grace through the sacraments will help me get back up and come back in. That is the beauty of His proclamation to us.
So, am I “hot” for my faith? Have I opened the door to beauty and to proclaiming the Church teaching on marriage, love, relationships and life? Am I seeking to learn more and to be educated in God’s light?

Do I look forward to visiting Church, remaining in His presence, and proclaiming His good news? Am I regularly seeking nourishment (through prayer) that is full and fulfilling: Scripture, the Eucharist, and truth?
Or am I eating cultural lies and societal junk food (happy surface stuff) which only keeps me warm for a little while?

Christ, You are the Light of the World. You hold the keys to the heavenly kingdom, to the door of hope, healing and forgiveness. Help me to proclaim your beauty and goodness by showing all I meet how opening your door has given me peace and joy. Give each person the grace to open the door for themselves and the gifts of courage, wisdom and knowledge to make others curious enough to open the door for themselves. Amen.
Be Hot for Christ!
Proclaim the Beauty, Goodness and Truth of the one holy, apostolic and Catholic (universal) Church, of Christ, of marriage, of life and of unending joy by the way in which you live this week.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Simple Focus

Friends of Faith:

I am a little late this week, because I chose a simple focus: to deepen relationships designed by God. First, my marriage by attending the Alexander House marriage retreat, and then with the Alexander family as they simply chose to wind down at our house. Put quite simply, it is difficult to go back to all the complications of “life.”
Because—if it isn’t simple, it isn’t God’s.

What a profound statement.
Think about the basis for the complication in our lives: our jobs, our computers, our ipads and kindles, our cell phones, schedules, and an ever increasing desire to have more stuff. To say nothing of the evils which complicate life by destroying a natural order: addictions to alcohol, drugs, and pornography; the greed of money, power, and the need to have more; and the anger of misunderstanding and unforgiveness, in family (divorce) and in the world (war).

Our computers and our cell phones form a constant connection to the world around us – particularly our friends. But do we take as much time to connect with God?
Did God really create these things, or did I? Is their purpose to elevate God or myself? Is their purpose to put me in control or God?

God’s commandments: Love me and love one another as I have loved you.” Jn 13: 34 (He died for us. Are we also willing to die for those we love?)
Are my choices loving and respecting of 1) God and 2) those around me? Am I offending or hurting my relationship with God or anyone else (my spouse) by the choice/s I make?

Is my focus upwards to God, by honoring and loving my husband, my children, my family, and my neighbor OR about elevating myself with money or power? “You cannot serve God and mammon.” Lk 16:13
God’s designing order: He created man and a helpmate for man, woman— marriage between a man and woman, perfect unity, so that they would help each other, to bring each other, to holiness. Gen 2: 23-24, 1 Peter 3

And he gave them a focus: Be fruitful and multiply (have children) and be in charge of all of his other creations (we are a higher being). We are created in his image. We are co-creators with God thru the pro-creation of children.
To help us focus, he asks us to Prayunceasingly. 1Thess 1: 2

If we don’t know how, the perfect prayer: The Lord’s prayer. Lk 11: 2-4
If we need someone to pray for us, Mary, Jesus’ mother – the perfect example of how to say yes to God.  We ask people on earth to pray for us so how much more effective will the prayers for us from those already in heaven be.

And prayer that helps me focus, meditative prayer, the Rosary, not a babbling repetition, but a meditation on Christ’s earthly journey, and Christ’s exampling purpose for me.
And simply to be prepared. To always live for the simple goal, to be with Him for all eternity—“you do not know when that time will come.”Mk 13: 32-33

Heavenly Father, You have given us simple and we have created complications. Help me to make my choices based on your plan, not mine. Thank you for the Alexander family who opened my eyes once again to a simpler life. Amen.
Focus on the simple: allow yourself to take the time to pray more and love (serve others) more, as God simply asked us to do. My life is much richer because of the choice.

Monday, September 9, 2013

We Can Become

Friends of Faith:

“Lord, may your kingdom come.”
We can always become more. We can always become greater. We can always become more knowledgeable by having a deeper understanding and fulfillment thru the Spirit of Christ.

Stan and I have become even more aware as we have talked to others about the opportunity of the Alexander House marriage retreat this weekend that regardless of where we are at or what we are doing in our lives we need encouragement, enrichment and enlightenment –to stay focused, to know our purpose and to not become complacent or think that we have it all figured out.
(You can still take advantage of this awesome opportunity to build, grow, strengthen and enrich your marriage by joining other Christian couples this weekend, Saturday, Sept 14 at St. Henry’s in Marshalltown from 9-4:30. Please register asap by going to or by replying to this email so that we can plan for materials, food and setup (and especially, if needed, childcare).

We can always become more, greater, more knowledgeable – the excuse, in this instance, “that my marriage is doing okay” (replace that with any of your responsibilities and/or jobs in life) –only works today, because tomorrow will certainly change the “okay” to something different – for better or for worse, depending on the choices we make—the choice to be okay with okay, to fall down, or to continue the quest to become better, as God calls us to be.
“It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.

…That their hearts may be encouraged as they are brought together in love, to have all the richness of assured understanding, for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Col 1: 28-2: 3

God’s work here on earth is to give us the grace so that we can be presented perfect in Christ. He promises us we can become more! And because it is hidden in the treasures of the knowledge of the mystery of Christ we are called to a continuous quest and search for his wisdom.

So are we “satisfied?” Do we really just want to be “okay”at marriage, our job, as a part of any team, or in life in general?
Matthew Kelly says: “We are made for greatness but the world calls us to be average.”

Wouldn’t it be more fun to say: “I am great!” “We are great!” “My marriage is great!” “My job is great.” And “I am fulfilled by knowing God in those around me.”
Becoming great is a constant journey. A journey where we can’t be complacent or “okay” because “okay” is never great, it is just okay.

Just as is God always present and available to us, so the devil also seeks to become a greater part of our lives. If we in anyway take God out of the equation (by a lack of forgiveness, by judging another person’s intentions, by self reliance or self indulgence, or by worshiping and trusting false gods (money, entertainment, or secular media) then the “okay” will become sorrowful and regretful because we have let down our guard and the devil has inserted first his toe and then his entire self into our slightly open door.
But when we invite God IN, when we open our heart and open His door by seeking His truth, His aid and His mercy and understanding, his grace blocks the devil out and with His help, the “okay” turns to “GREAT!”

Heavenly Father, it is in You we become great. Thank you for your constant reminders that you are in charge and without you I would be nothing. Help me to give you control over my life. Strengthen all those who struggle to give their heart to you, to forgive as you teach, and to remain in your truth. Amen.
God asks us to become GREAT, to be perfect in Christ, like Him –to continually seek His truth, and to seek education which teaches His plan for us (as in the marriage retreat). We can never be perfect – but we can keep trying, we can keep working, we can become….

Better, greater, richer in Him.
In Christ,

Monday, September 2, 2013

Humbly Accepted

Friends of Faith:
I am sometimes confused by what it means to be humble—does that mean that I am to always remember that I am a sinner and that I can do nothing right, or that nothing that I do is quite “right enough?” And does it really mean I have to give up everything or can I keep some of my “favorite things?”
Everything I have, even my most basic needs, are God given gifts. So, which parts of my life did God give me as a gift so that I could survive, and which parts did he give me so that I would be able to serve others? And why does sorting through that question seem so difficult?

Although I heard the same gospel readings multiple times this past weekend it struck me that each time the description of humility included the word “acceptance.”
Acceptance of my weaknesses and my faults but with a firm resolve to try to do better; acceptance of the “critical analysis” which friends give me to help make me better and an accepting attitude that it is my will, my resolve and my perseverance that will convert ME to be the daughter of God that God created me to be--in His image.

Everything I have is His and I could have done nothing that I have done without Him. It is with great humility that I REALIZE just how much God has already given me AND that He has a purpose for not only everything but every person he has placed in my life.
Without Him I would have nothing. Without His grace to bless my decisions nothing that I do would make a difference. And it His grace that takes and makes whatever it is I do in His name into something that makes others feel His very presence in their lives.

Humility isn’t about how I see myself or even more importantly it isn’t about how others see me. But rather humility is the grace to choose to do God’s will and to accept my weakness in needing His power to make what I do acceptable to Him.
He told a parable to those who had been invited, noticing how they were choosing the places of honor at the table. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding banquet, do not recline at table in the place of honor. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited by him, and the host who invited both of you may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man,’ and then you would proceed with embarrassment to take the lowest place. Rather, when you are invited, go and take the lowest place so that when the host comes to you he may say, ‘My friend, move up to a higher position.’ Then you will enjoy the esteem of your companions at the table. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.” …blessed indeed will you be because of their inability to repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.” Lk 14: 7-14

Do I look and act like the person HE made—because I am created in His image, shouldn’t I do whatever it is that I am doing in the same way God would? Do I use and share the gifts that HE gave me in the way he expected I would use them? Do you?
Are my priorities the same priorities he would have chosen for me? What has He given me that I am trying to keep for myself instead of sharing it with others (time, talent or treasure)?

Do I willing accept the sacrifice of hard work or a suffering of discipline, or do I keep trying to find a shortcut, pain relief, or a way to make His work more politically correct so that I can have social gain, instead of heavenly gain?
Do I find excuses so that I can do what I want to do instead of taking the time to do what God wants me to do? Am I willing to walk the same path He did, choosing to be with the least, and putting others needs ahead of mine?

Or am I expecting something in return when I give up my place at the table?
Heavenly Father, When you sent the Angel Gabriel to Mary to announce that she would be the Mother of Your son, Jesus, Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1: 38) Give me the grace to imitate both her humbleness and her acceptance of the gifts and the sacrifices that must be made because of those very gifts. As she thanked you for her son, Jesus, Your Son, so I thank you for the gifts of my family. As she sacrificed and gave everything back to you, help me to humbly accept all that You ask me to give back to you. In your name, Amen.

All of the earthly riches around me weren’t created for me to live happily, or have a greater place at the table. The gifts we each have been given are for us to use to joyfully help others see God, thru us, and thru our own willingness to give EVERYTHING for them regardless of their ability to pay us back for what we have given or given up.
Are we giving enough? Could we give more? What are we “expecting” in return?

Mary (and Joseph) and Jesus: we were all created in Gods image, with the Holy Family as our living example. Can we be as humble and accepting of the truth, of the way, and of the life as they were?
It’s a journey…..humbly accepted,
In Christ,