Showing posts from 2017

Let's Sing His Praises!

O Come Let Us Adore Him!

I love symphonies at Christmas. The music allows you to sink deep into your thoughts. For a beautiful rendition of O Come Let Us Adore Him, click here, listen, and ponder all that babe in the manger has done for us.  

And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins...  Matthew 1:21

Did you ever wonder what wrapping presents has to do with God's gifts to us?

In this season of Christmas, there a lot of wrapping of presents going on. Do you wonder how the tradition began? Why do we wrap presents? Why not just give them unwrapped?
I do, so I looked it up. The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis, in an online post dated December 9, 2013, says: “The desire to hide the identity of the gift until just the right moment led people to wrap gifts long, long ago.”
How about that?
We began concealing the identity of a present ages ago. Why? Because we’re looking for ’just the right moment’ to reveal the gift.
Makes sense, right?  
After all, I’ve received gifts and waited to open them until the ‘real’ date.  Or I’ve waited to open them until the giver is present to share in the joy.  Or, I’ve waited to open it until I have time to savor it.
I never thought about it, but, yes, we wait to open gifts at ‘just the right moment.’
It reminds me of a particular scene from my childhood.
“Have a seat on the sofa,” my mother said. “We have a surprise for you!”
What? A…

Are you ready for Christmas?

People ask: Are you ready for Christmas? 
Sure, I am,I say.  I'm ready.  My soul knows I'm in need of a Savior.
Come, Lord Jesus.
Are you ready for Christmas?

Thursday's Thoughts

Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy,  and have need of nothing," do not know  that you are wretched and miserable  and poor and blind  and naked

Revelation 3:17

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Yesterday my husband and I made a quick stop into a store for something he needed.  While there, I raced to the toy aisle. Although I'd finished my Christmas shopping, surely we needed just a few more things.

I picked up a little yellow farm tractor, held it at arm's length and studied it. Too big for our infant grandson? Too little?  Suddenly an animated doll caught my attention. Maybe his big sister would like that. Or is that too creepy for a toddler? Next, I spotted a sparkly box containing four toy soldiers. Oh my gosh, what kid wouldn't want that?

I'd already done my Christmas shopping, but, really, is it ever done? With Christmas just a couple of weeks away, I was just, in my mind, trying to figure out who needed an extra thing or two. Did one kid have more than another? Were the parents taken care of? What about my husband's brother and his wife. What, really, did I have for them? And my husband? Gee, did I have enough for him?

Joe found me in the aisle, p…

How these words happened to light my path

Years ago, after years of coexisting with the cancer diagnosis, I developed flu-like symptoms...bone pain, muscle aches, headaches, fatigue...I went to our family doctor, who diagnosed it as 'walking pneumonia' and prescribed antibiotics.

It was a busy time in my life. My husband, a salesperson, traveled often in business, and I managed the household. I drove our three children to and from school and chauffeured them to after-school cheer practices, gym meets and horseback riding lessons. I worked part-time in business and also volunteered at school and church. 
I didn't have time to be sick.

It had been years since I'd been diagnosed with cancer, and was still in a 'wait and see' approach to treating it. The  frequent checkups simply served as a reminder that each day is, indeed, a precious gift.  The diagnosis sharpened my vision of God's presence in the ordinary events of my life, and I began writing short, one page stories about it. 
I shared the stori…

How do you spell r-e-j-o-i-c-e?

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice! 

Philippians 4:4

Overwhelmed by the lingering effects of last month's cancer treatments and dumbstruck by the possibility of another surgery, I shared those fears and concerns with a friend of mine after Mass Tuesday morning.  "This is so hard," I said.
I knew she'd have something redemptive to say. She's a holy soul. 
"We all have challenges," she said. 
I nodded. We all do. We sure do.
"I know what you are going through is hard," she said. "But try thanking God for it."  
Yep, she's right. I believe it's called the 'sacrifice of praise'...when you praise God despite the circumstances. 
"Once," she said, "when I was struggling with a serious health issue, I heard the Lord say to me, 'I'm preparing you.'"
She looked heavenward, adding, "I said, 'For what?'"  

I'm not sure she got a response.

We looked at each other.

Be careful what you pray might just get it!

I’m not the kind to pray for a specific outcome. I figure, who am I to dare tell God what to do?Instead, I pray for the gifts of the spirit: wisdom, understanding, courage, right judgment, knowledge, reverence and awe.

But on this particular day long ago, when my daughter Sara and I were visiting colleges, I broke the mold: I prayed for a parking space when we arrived at the university.
With 40,000 students and 10,000 parking spaces, I figured I needed a little divine intervention. Sure enough, we circled the congested parking lots only to find them crammed, until finally, among the last crowded rows, there was one narrow parking spot available.
“Take it!” Sara shouted.
I paused, surveying the space.
“I can’t fit my van in there,” I said.
“Yes, you can,” she said. “Just try!”
The lot, designed for petite Volkswagen beetles, was overcrowded. An enormous sport utility vehicle filled the space to my left. A shiny long green metallic pickup truck occupied the spot to my right. The thoug…

Sometimes God asks: Do you love me?

One day, years ago, our pastor asked me if I'd consider leading a small group bible study in our parish. Although it sounded interesting, I balked. What was he thinking? How much time would this take?
At the time, I had three kids who had to be driven to and from school everyday and a husband who traveled in business. I worked as an insurance consultant, co-led a Brownie troop, and after school, chauffeured my kids to cheerleading, horseback riding and gymnastics lessons. Life was busy.
So I had one question: "How much time will it take?"
"I don't know," the priest said. "There would be some prep time..." He cocked his head, deep in thought, and began calculating. 
I feared this commitment would demand too much time when suddenly, a scripture scene popped into my head. Jesus was asking Peter; "Do you love me?"   Peter's response: "Yes, Lord, You know I love you." Jesus: "Feed my sheep."   (John 21:17)
Standing there, pon…

Friday's Thoughts

Click here to pray this beautiful song Lord, I Give You My Heart by Michael W Smith.

One fish...two fish...guess where this is going?

The tiny red and white bobber disappeared under the water for a moment.

"Reel it in," I said.

My granddaughter, holding her little pink fishing pole, looked at me and started reeling.  With that, the hook got snagged. She pulled, the line snapped, and the bobber went flying our way.

I raised my hands, hoping to block potential damage to either one of us, as the line flew by and settled in the grass beside us.

We looked at each other and smiled.

"Let me see," I said.

She handed the little pink pole to me and looked up. Her big blue eyes were framed by dark eyelashes and wispy blonde bangs.

She looks so much like her mother at that age, I thought. I'm the grandmother, not the mom, right? Where'd the years go?

I studied the nylon line. We'd only lost the hook. Probably stuck in a lily pad.

I shifted my weight forward, hoping to retrieve the hook from a nearby plant. The bank was steep. And slippery.

I glanced back at my little granddaughter, sitting in the…

Sometimes God opens a door before we even know we need it

Following the Leader By Debra Tomaselli

This story dates back over 20 years ago. The events told here took place just months before my dad was diagnosed with cancer.  (You can read his story here).  This story opens a new chapter of my continuing story of God's abiding presence and care.
Sometimes God opens a door before we even know we need it. by Debra Tomaselli
I never aspired to be a Brownie leader. 
When my daughter’s third-grade troop leader announced she was retiring, I slipped behind the curtains, hoping another mom would step forward and play the leading role.  Helen and Carol offered assistance, but nobody assumed leadership.
That’s why, when I awoke one morning, I fought the sudden urge to become the troop leader.  Where is this coming from? I thought.  I don’t want to be the leader.  I tried to suppress the idea for days, but it wouldn’t go away. 
I finally addressed Helen and Carol. “If you’re willing to help, I’ll be the leader," I said. "I don’t really want to d…

Thursday's Thoughts

IN ALL THINGS give thanks
for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you
1 Thessalonians 5:18

Here's to a little light reading in the chemo lab...

Most of us like having a purpose. We like to interact with others.  We like to set goals and achieve them.  At least, I do. It's a part of who I am...but lately, as I remain housebound, battling the relentless side effects of cancer treatments, I wonder...what is my purpose?

My calendar, once filled with business meetings, volunteer work and social engagements, now tells a different story. It's filled with doctor appointments, ER visits, and hospitalizations.

I never expected to face relentless health issues.

One recent day, the sad state of affairs discouraged me. What is my role? Where are the coworkers? The social engagements? The volunteer activities? What are my goals?

As I pondered these questions, an inner thought surfaced.

Being a patient is your business now...that's what's assigned to you at the moment. 

Suddenly, instead of wishing those medical appointments would disappear so I could get on with my life, I realized this is my life...and while it may not be …

Wait...did she really just say that?

Sometimes we are surprised by what we say. Sometimes we're enlightened by what others say. Sometimes, as in this case, the words are profound.

This happened long ago. My husband and I had been married a few years. Long enough to have a little daughter. Long enough to want to expand our family. Long enough to have endured three miscarriages.

Sometimes I dealt with the miscarriages by spending time alone. I didn't need to hear that it was better to miscarry, since something was probably wrong with the fetus. I didn't need to hear that God needed another angel. I didn't need to hear someone was glad it happened early in the pregnancy.

Nothing made it right...

But I didn't slip into depression either...Other times, I accepted the love and support  of family and friends.

The miscarriages were a disappointment...a big disappointment...but my husband and I had hope. We were optimistic. We'd try again.  Maybe we'd adopt.

I'd been home from the hospital a few days aft…

Thursday's Thoughts

Then Jesus said to his disciples,  "If anyone wishes to come after me,  he must deny himself,  and 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."
Matthew 16: 24-25

My life hasn't returned to normal since chemo began in 2015. I'm still constricted by the debilitating side effects of the ongoing cancer treatments. Sometimes I just want to get on with my life. Sometimes I feel like I'm doing nothing meaningful. 
As I read this passage, I realize nothing can be further from the truth.
Maybe life isn't rolling out quite the way you expected either. Maybe you are facing unforeseen challenges. But we can find peace. 
We can surrender our will to the will of God. We can choose to carry our crosses...Joyfully. 
There, at the foot of the cross, we find meaning and peace.  
Soon I'll tell you how I read a book called The Joy of the Full Surrender and the impact it had on me.  
But, for n…

Ever wonder if prayer makes a difference?

I was talking to my cousin Sharon yesterday about the helplessness we felt while watching the nightly news. I found myself encouraging her to pray for the perpetrators and the victims when suddenly I remembered the following story, published September, 2014. Sometimes  prayer is 'all we can do.'  Sometimes, as in this story, it appears to be enough. 

Hovering Wings by Debra Tomaselli
I knew something was amiss when I arrived home to the sound of a helicopter hovering over our neighborhood.  It hung in the air beating an ominous tune while I unloaded groceries from my car, put them away, and headed toward the computer. 
I keep the accounting journal for my husband’s business and I planned to enter a long list of invoices that afternoon.  As usual, I checked my e-mails before starting and discovered a neighbor had issued a warning:  Residents: Lock your doors and stay inside.  A gunman is loose in the area. Will keep you posted.
I shook my head, but felt strangely calm. Rather than …

Amazing grace, right?

Does God Speak to Us?
“I don’t know why, but I have to go, and I have to go now,” I said. 
My husband, just home from work, was clinking coins from his pockets into a green ceramic dish on our dresser as we discussed my idea of taking the kids on a road trip to visit my dad. 
At the time, I didn’t realize how profound those words were.
The thought of traveling surfaced weeks earlier, but I resisted it. After all, my husband, due to work commitments, couldn’t go with us. Although I loved road trips, I hesitated to travel alone with our young children.  I felt vulnerable staying in a hotel without another adult.  What if our car broke down? What if I got lost? What if I needed help? (This was before GPS. This was before cellphones.)
My husband, also concerned about our safety, tried to talk me into waiting for a later date.
But I couldn't. By the time he could join us, the kids would be back in school.  
I knew that if I didn’t visit Dad now, it would be another year before we’d be able to…

Here's how to love

Often we speak of love as if it were a feeling. But if we wait for a feeling of love before loving, we may never learn to love well. The feeling of love is beautiful and life-giving, but our loving cannot be based in that feeling. To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.

Mostly we know what the loving thing to do is. When we 'do' love, even if others are not able to respond with love, we will discover that our feelings catch up with our acts.

(This is an excerpt from the book Bread for the Journey by Henri J. M. Nouwen)

Dynamic Catholic leads us in prayer today...let's do this!

Dynamic Catholic's Blessed Reconciliation program is now available! The prayer on page 1 (below) is so meaningful (challenging) that I had to it share with you. Wait til you see it! 
In it, I suppose every person includes even the most difficult personalities...I'm guessing unexpected changes in our plans (like my surprise hospital stay) could be considered an adventure...And I'm thinking a desire to change and grow, as mentioned in the last paragraph, requires sacrificeand commitment. 
Enough. Let's pray it. With a little perseverance, may we be blessed; able to sculpt our human nature into something beautiful, as described here:

God, our loving Father, thank you for all the ways you bless me.
Help me to be aware that every person, place, and adventure I experience is an opportunity to love you more.
Fill me with a desire to change and to grow, and give me the grace to become the-best-version-of-myself in every moment of every day.

Thanks for praying with me. One of our gran…