Wednesday, December 23, 2015

be in the moment--recognize the world around you!




I work in a school and thus, have many chances to take note of what the kids are doing, saying and wearing. I find it wonderful to use those moments to make a comment that can turn a child's day around. For instance, young children can be somewhat dramatic. They come to the lunch line with tears, with shoes untied, with "issues that need tissues", as I say. I look them in the eye when I say, "I just love that color of your shirt! It is so pretty!" or "those shoes! They are so neat!" It gives them the chance to open up, to take in what has just occurred and then, they beam. Their sweet faces light up and they go from sadness to happy in nanoseconds.

That is all it takes! A kind word. A simple gesture, such as when I tie their shoes that are always in need of being tied. Of holding their shoulders when I catch them in the act of saying an unkind thing to another child and really making them know that what they did caused sorrow to another. "...and how would it feel if that happened to you?" I query. It teaches them about empathy--about showing kindness to another instead of sorrow. Believe me, they get it.
Ah...life.

My point is  that people love to be recognized. In this world where technology has taken over, where everyone walks with their heads down as they look at the latest Tweet, I encourage you to look UP...see what is happening around you! RECOGNIZE what is happening! Be in the moment and then...act upon it! How can you see that old man who needs help to cross the street? "What old man", you ask. Why...the one you just rudely brushed passed, because maybe his shuffling step was slowing you down. That lady in the grocery store, the one who only has coins and is taking forever to pay her bill with all of her nickles, dimes and quarters...what would you do? Do you become angry because your precious time is more valuable than hers? Or that driver ahead of you who just missed  the light changing from red to green...you just honked at him in anger because he isn't going "right now, damn it!" Perhaps...if you had looked in his window, you'd have seen tears running down his face. He is distracted because he just found out his mother is ill and needs care...or his friend passed away...or his job was just downsized.

Do you presume to know everything about everyone, thus you are above everyone?

No. Even Jesus, when He gave His attention to the children, was castigated. His response: "let the little children come to Me and do not try to stop them...for the Kingdom of heaven is for such as these!"

Ahhh....so it goes back to the little children...those same children that I see on a daily basis with all of their "issues that need tissues" some days.

Today...call someone by name...it is  said that the name is the most beautiful sound to anyone...recognize them....hug them....compliment them...behold them-- right where they are...in the situation they are in...just as Jesus has held all of you in such high esteem.

You are valuable to Him....so why should it not be that way with others? If you say that you love God...whom you have not seen...then why do you not love those around you whom you HAVE seen?
Think about it---act upon it!

May you have a blessed day!

Saturday, December 19, 2015

"...the Kingdom of heaven is for such as these..."



 In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ I will begin this day.

I thank you, Lord, for having preserved me during the night. I will do my best to make all I do today pleasing to You and in accordance with Your will. My dear mother Mary, watch over me this day. My Guardian Angel, take care of me. St. Joseph and all you saints of God, pray for me. amen.

"When I consider the contrast between the first Christmas and this Christmas, I realize how far we’ve wandered.
Instead of filling the sky with declarations of deity, our airwaves are filled with grumblings over whether we should say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays.
Instead of making a big deal about Jesus and reflecting on the wonder of His coming, many get sucked into meaningless social media conversations about a coffee cup. What message are we sending to the world when we tell a secular company they can’t have a plain red cup?
What are we pondering? Where have we fixed our focus?
That first Christmas was much more than merry. It was filled with wonder and worship!
That first Christmas was fixed on Jesus.
More than having a merry Christmas, I’m stirred to have a meaningful Christmas that takes me back to the manger that led to the Cross. One that mixes the merry with the meditative. One that folds in the fruit of the Spirit with the fruit cake. One that lingers with both lively praise and low-bending prayers. One that harks the herald and helps the hungry.
Yes. I want us all to have a merry Christmas. But more than that, I want us to have a meaningful Christmas. Not one that is consumed with consuming or lost in senseless secondary conversations, but one that is fixed on adoration, celebration, consideration and awe! One that reflects on and gives thanks to God for sending Jesus to be our hope. One that is rich with depth and love and relationship. One that is full of His fullness of grace."


As one friend of mine said, " I that is so well said and exactly how I feel. I have reached the point where I am glad when the Holiday is over!"

Isn't that sad? How often do we say this about the birthday of a friend of ours? "Geeze, I can't wait until this stupid day is over because I tell ya, the consumerism is just killin' me!" 

Jesus IS our friend, the best one we will ever have! He was born for us, He lived for us...He DIED for us...and somehow, to so many, buying a brand new car or an expensive piece of jewelry is only what this season of joy is all about!
Ugh...
I told her and I will tell you:
"true..it is sad that we "can't wait until the holiday is over" so that we are no longer dealing with the consumerism of the season....but please...do what I do: turn off the TV and turn on beautiful Christmas music! Bake cookies (or something!) and allow yourself to feel that sense of wonder that used to carry us when we were kids! Remember days gone by when anticipation made the month drag on forever....go see a kids' play, go to church and just sit in the wonder of the silence. Soak up what Christmas IS all about!"

Remember my post from a couple of weeks back, the scene from "A Charlie Brown Christmas," when Linus explained what Christmas was all about? It is about the Birth of a Savior. It is NOT about anything else... and the best way to experience that simplicity is to do what kids do. Yup, be like a child! Even Jesus said, "the kingdom of heaven is for such as these."


"And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown."

Thursday, December 10, 2015

of unicorns...and rainbows...and "rules & regulations..."




 "Wouldn't it be cool if we didn't have to label ourselves, in skin color or gender preference, or age, or religion, or anything that separated us, for just being? I think that happens in the unicorn, rainbow world. I want to live there...Because my heart just can't handle this so called reality. Please!."  ~ a Facebook friend of mine, speculating on being in a place free from just being an adult...for the time being...

"Imagine there's no heaven...it's easy of you try...no hell below us...above us only sky..."
John Lennon died 35 years ago. His visionary words have been echoing in my head for many years. Imagine....if there WERE no religion. Hmmmm...no religion.

Open your mind and really see this for a moment.
When Jesus came, it was to untangle us from the many "rules" and "laws" that were plaguing people back in that time period. "In order to get to heaven, you have to do this and this and this... oh! and you absolutely MUST NOT do that and that and that..."
 ...then, in a lonely stable, came news of a King...but what King was this...a CHILD? a BABY? Ha! Some King, right?
 ...and so the world continued on....until one day He walked to the River Jordan and asked some wild-haired crazy man to baptize Him!
"I should be the one asking YOU..." came the argument.
"Baptize Me, John!" came the reply...then the heavens opened up. God smiled down. This was the first step of many for His Son!

Jesus taught us by example. "What must I do to obtain Heaven?" came the often asked question. Jesus told us parables...many of which the people could identify with. Gone were the "rules and regulations." In its place were two commands...only TWO: Love God as much as you love YOURSELF...and LOVE OTHERS as much as you LOVE GOD! There it was. How can you break any "rules or regulations" based on that simple premise?

Fast forward fifteen hundred years. We had just the Christian church (the Islamic belief came at about 600 years after Jesus was crucified, but we are dealing with Christianity here). Christians became divided through schisms and breaking away. Suddenly one Church became several...then several more. Everyone had their own ways of worshiping God. Once again we had "Rules and Regulations." The line in the sand once more divided people from God.

Today we are in the midst of world turmoil as extremists are claiming lives in the hundreds...in the thousands. They believe they are serving some god by killing those who believe in the ONE GOD.
Can you see how "rules and regulations" are destroying us? Why do we need to lay down parameters in order to worship God who became Man to show us how to worship in the first place?

I was at a Christmas get together in which the topic of conversation was how someone was not allowed at a church simply because that person was not found "worthy" by this "church."
Not worthy....of church? Who did these people think they were? It sounded to me of the time when Jesus forgave people who were not found worthy of others to even be alive! Prostitutes, tax collectors...SINNERS! Not worthy? Why...Jesus found them all to BE worthy!

Yet today, listen to the news...once more...we are not found worthy by schisms and sects and orders and others who feel they need to behead us, to crucify us, to execute us...to SEPARATE us from the Father....
do they not realize that GOD has already CHOSEN us? By His Cross and His redemption He has redeemed the world...He is our Savior! We don't have to jump through any hoops save one: to give up all we have and to FOLLOW HIM! Give up greed, give up lust, give up pride...just go...follow Him and because you are following Him, you will want to open your arms wide and wish for others to come with you...
No rules...NO regulations...just LOVE!
IMAGINE......yes...imagine....then...act upon this dream, for it IS a reality...but YOU must allow it!

Today's news:
in Minnesota today, a middle aged woman was seeing holding the door open for someone whom society deemed unworthy of being granted the time of day. She was seen comforting the sick, she was heard to utter "God loves you--and so do I!" She gave solace to the needy...in short...she was something of an oddity...because she cared."




Wow...IMAGINE!!!

Sunday, December 6, 2015

and so it is Christmas...and what have you done?




It's almost the end of yet another year. Time to stand back and take note of what has happened in the last almost 365 days of your life. How could you improve? What would you change?
The seven questions that you could ask yourself are:

When did I not give up?
Did I do something that scared me?
When did I have fun?
How did I deal with messing up?
Who did I lean on this year?
When did I forgive someone? and last..
What would I have missed out on had I not lived this last year?

Take each one separately or as a whole. For me, I did not give up on my health. Although my chronic conditions of both Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis could have had me sidelined, feeling sorry for myself, I chose instead to keep going, keep moving. I planted a garden, helped my in-laws with their yard work and even took on a part time job working once again with students in my school district. Lesson: Never give up...never give in. You are as strong as you allow yourself to be!

I did allow for fun also. I visited my grown children in the cities. I love to garden, to watch birds and just "be" in the moment. Whatever you can find beauty in, go for it. You don't need a plane ticket or a bus pass. The best things in life are within your reach!

Messing up? We all do that. The best thing I did was keep going forward. Forgive yourself and move on. If you live in the past, you will miss the joy of the present. Each experience is a stepping stone to something better. Go for it!

Who did I lean on? My bestest friend in the whole world...my husband! He lifts me up to more than I can be, as the song goes. Without him, my world would be so much darker.

Forgiveness. It isn't always the "I cut you out of my life and now you have returned, thus I need to (or should) forgive you, my prodigal son/daughter/ex-spouse/former friend" scenario. Sometimes, it is the day to day slip-ups that can catch us fuming. For example, at work recently, it was a tough day. I was being pulled in many directions by many people, all who thought they knew best what I needed to be doing. Finally at day's end, my nerves fraught, I broke down in frustration. I felt anger, sadness, confusion and just plain exhaustion. The next day, I told myself that the one who was most responsible for my previous day's pain, I would give the cold shoulder to. But as minutes became hours, I realized this was not what Jesus would do. I caught my co-worker in a quiet moment, went to her and apologized for my silence, explaining how I had felt the day before. Her face fell...I think she was taken aback by my words of "let's just say we all had a hard day yesterday and begin anew!" Note, I said a "hard day," not a "bad" day. Bad has a negative connotation, whereas a hard day means just that...it was tough, but also do-able. We got through it, we can do it again if need be Now that we know what we may expect, it may actually turn out better than we had thought! Always leave room for positive outcomes! and this is what forgiveness teaches us...leave room for positive outcomes, and admit it...we always feel better after an apology, don't we?

Last...what would I have missed had I not been here? Oh my! Sunrises and sunsets and shooting stars and hugs from children and words of love from oldsters and compliments that I gave out and words of appreciation sent my way and much more. Again, you don't need a passport to create happy moments. Live IN the moment...create JOY daily..and you will see joy returned many times over!

God did not create humans to be miserable. He gave us the best of Himself, a garden of plenty and Love to grow upon. It was an insidious Evil that crept in like a snake, stealing that goodness from humans and turning Love into something awful. God created Goodness...Evil stole it. It is as simple as that...but it is also complex in that we daily have that good vs evil war waging within each one of us. However, daily we can overcome evil with good...we can make choices that will make us better..or bitter.
I like "better" myself. How about you?
Here's to another happy year soon to be upon us. Again, what can YOU do...to look back next year at this time and realize..."wow, I truly did have a wonderful life!" May God be with you and bless you!