Thursday, January 28, 2016

how big is YOUR cross?





Everyone has a cross to bear. Everyone. No one is immune to the fact that crosses come in all sizes and we each have one to carry. Don't like yours? There are times when mine seems pretty heavy also. There are times when I just want to give it up and move on. Situations seem to drag on forever, it's like crossing a desert with no road map in place, no landmark in sight, you just keep putting one foot in front of the other and its like slogging through wet cement.

Yes. I know. I have been there, too.

It reminds me of an animated video I have seen passing through social media, the one in which a man has a cross and no longer wants to carry it, so he cuts it in half. There! Much better! Until...he comes to a deep chasm....and notices that others have also arrived. They have something that he no longer has: they take THEIR cross and lay it across the chasm and cross over it, like a bridge. Problem solved!...for them, anyway. The man sits there in morose silence...he cut  his cross in half, remember...now he is stranded.....or is he?

See, what is NOT shown in that video is how someone can allow him to use their own cross...he can hoist his cross, go over first, then the other one can use that same cross...and together, the sorrow is made easier. It has been lifted....and now the two become one in knowledge that each has helped the other.

How?

The one who made the mistake of cutting his cross has been helped by the other one who, although suffering also, had the prudence to use that suffering for the good of another!

See how that works?
and if you reallygive it some thought...you will realize...that..Jesus...did...just...that.

So...how will YOU use your cross today to help another?
Look around, it isn't that hard to see need...and it won't be that hard to be a hero today.
Be that hero. Be the one.

May God bless you.

Monday, January 25, 2016

do you "pretend it doesn't exist"?







That's right, San Francisco, pretend it doesn't exist. Cover it up, because God forbid anyone should think otherwise about your "pristine" city. Take your poor, your wretched, your souls huddled in masses on street corners and in bus shelters and shuffle them off to another side of town, one out of the way of cameras flashing and people walking. Hide all of your homeless until the Super Bowl, that extravaganza of excess, is over, then release them once more, back to the streets, back to the life they have been living for the last God knows how long. Sweep the streets, make nice with the rich and famous, but pity the homeless and say "We've done the best we can."

The quote above is a rant from me. Yesterday I read in the newspaper that the best image that San Fransisco can present is to hide the homeless until the joy and revelry are over.

Hide them...how about help them?

If a city can hide them, how about you? Do you also "hide them?" Do you blithely go about life as if poverty, hunger, illness and need don't exist? It doesn't have to be that stranger on the street, it can also be the dysfunction within our families. Alcoholism. Drug addictions. Even just day to day abuses: the arguing of spouses, the torment of children bullying each other. How many of you gladly buy a lottery ticket for some big, elusive prize, but when that basket is passed at church, in goes a dollar, maybe three if you're feeling generous?

Jesus admonished that the poor we'd always have among us. It's a fact of life, a very sad fact of life. When someone asked Jesus, "what's the best way to get into heaven?" Jesus told him to "go, sell all that you have and come follow Me!" That man slunk away. "Sell all of my possessions, is He crazy?"

 Again and again, Jesus reminded us what happens if we accumulate too much wealth...of building bigger barns, of ignoring the poor, and how much better it is to give away what you have, but do not need. "For My Father in heaven knows that you need these things, therefore do not fret about what do we have to eat, or what shall we wear. Does He not take care of the birds of the field? How much more you are to Him than they?" (Matthew 6:26)

You can't take it with you, so you may as well give it away. God looked more favorably on the widow who gave all that she had...just two coins, more so than on someone of extravagant wealth who gave, say, ten dollars. Why? Because..."she gave all that she had!" (Mark 12:41-44)

You may not be able to care for the whole world, but to someone, you just may be the whole world. Start with one...it does have a ripple effect, you know. Walk in the shoes of those who may not even have a decent pair of shoes. Offer yourself in some way to someone for whom life has cast them in a corner. Is there an alcoholic in your family? One who has been "cast in a corner?" Are you embarrassed by that person? Do you argue, yell and literally cast them aside, all because they have fallen off the proverbial wagon yet again and this time, you really mean it when you say, "get out!" Out into whatever hazard there is in life....
would Jesus do that?

Each situation is individual. I cannot presume to know what baggage that you may have, but I have "been there." Child abuse? Lived it. Domestic abuse? That, too. I have been poor, (before governments had safety nets). I have been bullied as a child. I have seen the worst of alcoholism. I have heard from those who have abused drugs. I have walked many paths. It has been said that those who have struggled understand struggle better than those for whom the gilded life has lead to comfort.

In all things, let God be your Guide. Seek Him in those whom society has cast out. Be an angel for someone today. Forgive those who need forgiveness. Clothe those who are in need, offer shelter and hope for those who are lacking. It isn't all that hard to be a beacon of God's love.


Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
~Prayer of St Francis of Assisi




Saturday, January 2, 2016

JOY!




Does the word JOY make you leap in happiness--or cringe in fear?

Folks ask me why I am such an optimistic person. It is because I live in the moment. I find happiness in the small things. People go looking for a huge miracle and when they don't find it, immediately they say that God does not care. He does not care about their problems, their issues, their faults, their ...anything!

I tell you this...have you ever truly...and I mean, not just a quick perusal, but truly stopped....and looked around you? Have you used your five senses to really take in everything that is happening?

Did you see the stars last night? How they twinkled like diamonds? ("Oh, but I live in the city...you know, pollution and all, can't see the stars!")

Did you hear the sound of a baby's giggle? ("Babies? Don't they scream, cry and poop a lot?")

Did you take a chance to play in the new snow? ("Snow? OMG...I nearly broke my back shoveling it!")

Have you sniffed a real rose and enjoyed its wonderful color, shape and beauty? (A rose? I'm allergic!")

Can you see how the first sentence is such a joy filled one and the response...probably a typical negative retort.

I know, we ALL have our 'issues that need tissues'...life is just that, life! How do you handle all of those things that fly up at you? Do you greet the day with negativity or do you wake up, thank God you're alive and find the Grace to tell God just how wonderful it is that the sun rose and the birds are singing? What did you see? A deer? Have you heard the sound of snow falling? That sound of silence when every snow flake is magnified as it gently flutters to the ground?

My friend, there are miracles ALL around you! And if you didn't immediately see one, instead of cursing out God...maybe think....is it possible that it was YOUR turn to create a miracle? Yes! YOU! You can create a miracle! YOU can be that "angel in disguise" for someone who really needs a miracle!

There are many ways to be an angel: I know of someone who offered sober rides to others on New Years' eve, this after a long day of work. He also offered, after a snowfall, to wait by the door of his workplace and escort others in so they would have no need to fear falling on the ice. Wow...an angel!

I have witnessed those who hold doors open and greet folks with a smile. I have seen deer in the moonlight, I have witnessed the sound of children's laughter, I have smelled a rose fresh from a garden...and the full moon...how can I describe its beauty on a frosty cold Minnesota night? To also see coyotes cavorting in a frozen field, their yip-yip-yipping sounds carrying on the icy wind as they play like our own dogs do- it is truly awesome!

All of this...is JOY! Live in the moment...trusting that God has you. The news would have you think we are on the edge of hell. So not true! God created the heavens AND the earth. For the few news reports that announce the gloom and doom of life, there are many people who are doing what they can to save it from destruction. And those who wish to inflict harm on us God-loving people? Pray always that we stand up together as one and defeat that enemy. The strife that builds up from within will be our own undoing. And yes, the devil IS n the details...what better way to distract us from happiness than to create anger and hatred?

When God created the world and put humans in it, it was with the express desire that humans live happily ever after. Unfortunately it did not turn out that way. But that does not mean we need to live dour lives, either! I think of the singer/songwriter John Denver. He could see the majesty of God's creation and appreciate it...so much so that he wrote music to celebrate it--then passed that love on to all who would listen. Today--and every day-- use YOUR sense to see, taste and touch all that God has in store for YOU!

Click on the link below to savor what John saw when he went to those mountains--feel the JOY!:

"Rocky Mountain High" John Denver