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Small Change

When I was younger my father used to say, “Beat it small change before I spend you!” I always giggled because I knew he was kidding. I asked him what was small change and he answered by telling me the definition of CHANGE.
For me autumn has always meant change. As a student it meant a new class or new friends or even a new school and teachers. As a grownup it meant summer was over and a new year was beginning.
I have always liked this kind of change. I like it because while there is not a great change in me personally, I had a chance to be different and to grow and to choose to do something different.
There are a lot of changes in my life this year. I am a little scared, a little bewildered, a little worried. But I do not have to be. While the leaves turn I am growing older, wiser, and more complicated. And all those who love me are with me in spirit. Those who are around are in touch in so many ways. Those who have left me for a better place are watching over me with love. And if I say a few words to them each morning when I awake they will accompany me on my way through the day. Look for those little surprises. You will find them or feel them. They will touch your heart in a special place.
I choose to spend my life looking for the good things that are happening around. Believe it or not an optimist can make everyone feel better. So as the leaves change, as the world changes, as your life goes through change, choose to spend your days spending small changes and making the world a better place.
And my father is having a good and hearty laugh.

INFORMATION + CONTEMPLATION = TRANSFORMATION

I was reading an ad the other day.I was thinking-another school year is beginning.Beginnings are so wonderful.One gets a new start; in school one gets new teachers ready to impart some new ideas; new friends I have never met or would like to know more about or even a new school where I am known only to a few and I have the chance to begin again.
That is where the title/headline of this blog makes so much sense. My life is going to accumulate all this new information. It doesn’t matter whether it is school or a new job or a new home or a new life.
I will hear people say,”You are so different from what I thought” or “You have such good ideas.” or I am so glad to finally get to meet you.”
For each day that I follow the headline formula of this essay I will become a new and special person. And for those beginning a new segment of life like college this should be a high priority.
I have a suggestion. Even if you are tired at night before you get in bed sit down and think about all the things that happened to you this day. Don’t be afraid to think of the things you found unpleasing like an unkind word you said or was said to you.Or a mark you did not like or an action you did not approve. Just replay it in your mind. Think how you would like to change the outcome; what you would do if you had it all to do over.Time passes and most of us can only wish to do over our actions but, hey!, one never knows if another chance could come up.
Some thoughts in contemplation…What good can I do again? How can I fix what has made me unsettled? Who do I need to talk with? What should I avoid? How do I point myself toward my goals?(Another thought for a personal blog!)
Doing this daily will be an excellent way to make the new “ME” and the information I contemplate will transform me into a great person!Especially all the wonderful things that are going to happen to you now on this journey.

Good Luck!

Past? Future? Present!

I just completed a Morning of Reflection on life and death. I thought I would not be thrilled about this idea. However, the thought that the PAST is over and should be relegated to the past and brought out only for the good things that have happened really got me to thinking.I have so many things to be thankful for and as I began to think about them I becamme more and more grateful. If something hard or unhappy popped into my mind I squashed it and went back to the happy.
Then the thought that the FUTURE has not happened yet and is totally open for me to make decisions to control it for myself really hit me hard. I thought of all the things in my life that were unended or that I wanted to finish or change or complete-you get the picture. And then I realized I had the power to make things happen or to change outcomes that would change the future. I need to live in the PRESENT!
I need to determine what I do. What will be my desired outcome? How do I get there? And I cannot forget God because he is part of what will happen.
Destiny is written in the heart and mind of God and all is present time for him. No escape!
I am here now. This is where I am. In this place, ready to listen , to ponder, to help others, to change what I need to change, and to keep going with those things I need to keep.
And this great Church Feastday of Pentecost will bring me the blessings of the Holy Spirit and the peace the Lord promised to those who followed him in the past and to me here and now in the present. A good time and place to be!

He is Not Here! He is Risen!

Imagine your feelings if you were to hear those words from a reliable source? Will I see my dear person alive? What would this mean for me? How can this be? Do I believe?
Jesus died. It can be easily proven that he died. His friends would never have allowed him to be buried alive. His enemies would never have allowed his followers to proclaim his being alive without a complete search for his body through the ages. The government would follow the instructions for his death and burial as ordered or they would not be paid.
It is not as simple to prove the resurrection. Faith has to enter in-that is the sight of things unseen.But think about this.
If all your friends were at your wake and knew you had died, would they spend the rest of their lives-even dying or being tortured, proclaiming you were alive? Not only that would they quote the important things you said and do the important deeds you did in remembrance of you for years and years-even centuries?
These persons had to be utterly and totally convinced that Jesus was alive.
What does this mean for me? For us? Think about it! Meditate! Let these thoughts wash over you!
And have a happy and holy Easter Season!

An Attitude of Gratitude

I am looking at a way of living that is called retirement. It is a litle different because I have always been very busy–even on part time I usually did all the things I did full time and loved it. But now it seems I am doing the things of my life I always chose to do.
I have never read as much as I liked to. I always wanted to listen to my favorite music, see plays and go to interesting movies. I cannot imagine being bored or having nothing to do.
I am so grateful for all the parts of my life. My family was wonderful; we were all close. I loved my studies and welcomed the fine professors I enjoyed in higher education. I love my religious society and they have become my fmily as I grew older. But now I am thankful to my creator for seeing that I have lived long enough to enjoy the latter part of life. I guess one could call it autumn; it could also be a new spring. Lots of colors and lots of breezes and lots of busyness. I am so grateful to be part of it. I hope that with this “retirement thing” coming up I will now have time to do things like answering some of the wonderful people who have responded to my simple blog. A whole new world of friends! I thank you for your response and promise to be in touch wherever and whenever I can. As Bob Hope said, “Thanks for the memories!”
For certain, my attitude is one of gratitude to God, to you, and to retirement. May God help us to realize the wonderful gifts he sends to us and hopes we realize how much he cares. My good thoughts and prayers to you as I move another way of life.

Take Courage…Do Not Be Afraid!

The new year usually brings change. Either you want to change something or something happens to change you. Scary! And of course most of the time you cannot do anything about it. I am not speaking of losing weight or doing exercise or saving money! I am talking major change. A new job! Loss of a loved one! Or the unexpected consequence of a recent incident. This is where the title of the blog comes in. It is said that there are many things in the bible but not many are repeats. When more than one of the four authors have similar stories the reader can give more credence to the work. Three of the four writers write about this incident.
The title words were spoken by Jesus Christ when he was awakened in a boat by the apostles in a violent storm on the Lake of Galilee. I have seen the Lake and it is large. Once you put out from the shore it is very possible to be surrounded by water and see no land. The Lord also questioned the faith of these persons whom he had chosen to be his first followers. If they believe in him why are they so afraid of the storm? How do they react when after Christ’s scolding of the winds and waves both obey the command to be calm. Do I have faith to believe God will supply the courage I need to accomplish his wishes for me in the coming changes? Do I truly believe that when God says “I am with you at all times” he means it. And if the future will be stormy and dark and scary do I know in my heart that I am truly not alone.
The word COURAGE has the base French word for heart (COUR). The storm can rage, the winds can blow, the rain can fall, but I do not need to be afraid because even the winds and sea obey him and I refuse to be overwhelmed. Lord, increase my faith. Let me find you even in the mighty storms.

Who Are We That God Should come to Us?

It is getting so close to Christmas and everywhere we look we see lights and glitter and bright colors and hear special music. A lot of people are having very hard times in my part of the world and yet they seem to be thinking of this time as special even though their lives are hurting. Is it possible to suspend my daily life so that I can become a part of a quiet reflection in the midst of the hurly burly of shopping, card writing, present wrapping and cooking and cleaning? I love this special time. I love the fact that a very young girl had to agree to be a mother in a very weird way (a lot of God’s plans seem weird; I think they are a test of faith.)And I cannot believe that the person chosen for her arranged marriage was an old man with a white beard. They would have been a very funny looking couple and biblical writers would have noticed this. So we have this handsome and dashing happy couple getting ready for a big event and the rulers of the country decide on a new way to raise taxes! Yep! A census! but not in their hometown rather in the place of their ancestors! I wonder where I would be going? How about you!
And they are not wealthy so they do not go to a fancy place in this small town-it really doesn’t matter much anyway. Mary is very pregnant and they need to find some place quickly. The warmest spot on a chilly evening would be where the animals are–a stable. And so this tiny vulnerable baby comes into the world of his creation in a tiny town, on a bed of hay–to tell me about what to expect from life.
And this is my first realization of the almighty! Imagine no guns, no soldiers, no angry shouts, just quiet and peace and a bright star and people on the midnight shift(shepherds no less). And the first hymn: “Glory to God on earth and peace to all of good will!” What a wonderful story to think about! Is this the person I believe is the creator of everything? Can it really be that the almighty is telling me what is really important in this world? I hope that in the glory of Christmas 2012 I will remember the simplicity and love that surrounds the coming of a baby in a stable in a place far from home in a hill country surrounded by animals, shepherds and stars in the night! I really need to prepare myself personally for this so special event.

I Am Thankful For. . .

How many times have we said those words and this year there has been so much suffering and sorrow on the Eastern seaboard. “I know I am so glad I am alive, my home was destroyed but not my soul or I had no heat and no elctricity or gas but I made it through and I will come back with God’s help.” These words have been repeated over the past weeks in prayer and also in anger. But I am proposing that maybe Someone is asking more of us than we have previously given. The head of the Catholic Church in Rome has declared this a “Year of Faith.” It begins as a celebration. 50 years ago I was very young and I remember the Pope, the leader of the Catholic Church deciding that it was time for a cleaning up. Those are my words but the pope was opening some windows to let in the new spirit. Lots happened. Masses were changed so everyone could understand the words of the ceremonies. Sisters began to study their foundresses and become more modern; many even changing their clothing and places of living. Those were some of the big differences; there were smaller ones also. Now on the anniversary Pope Benedict XVI called us to recall what has changed in the church and embrace the good and remove the things that are challenges to perfection.
At GCU we listened to our Bishop and he called all his people to celebrate a Year of Faith.We are being asked to pray about and talk about and celebrate all the things that make us part of who we are and what we believe in. We are being asked to make ourselves better and help to make others and the world we live in a better place. No matter who you are or what you profess you can do this. Look at the wonderful people who are working all over to help persons injured and hurting from hurricane Sandy. There is something innate in humanity that wants to help.The beginning of this helping is to examine oneself.
What do I need to know about myself to be a better person and be part of all this good? And if we want to be part of the good we need to believe we can do something no matter how small. We all know the commandments, the rules, the teachings, but we are being asked in this year of faith to take a closer step into being a special person in a special year. And that special Someone who watches over us is there to help. Call!

Courage!

I started to look at this word as Cour rage; the heart and anger. Then I was struck by a passage in the bible by Luke. if you want to read it look at LK:6 6-11. There are three main points of contact. First you have Jesus. He, obviously, has been asked to give a teaching on the Jewish Holy Day. All of a sudden he sees someone who needs his physical contact. The second person is a nameless man. All we know about him is that he has a withered hand. Was he born with it? Was he wounded in war? Was it caused by an accident? No background is necessary.The city leaders are watching Jesus closely. They were the Pharisees and the Scribes. Highly educated they did not always sees things in the same way and usually found themselves on the opposite sides of all issues. Right now though they are both angry with Jesus because he seems to go for the way that will help the poor and the sick. And even on a Sabbath holy day also. So the two groups bond to find a way to counteract what they think is going to happen. But it is the wounded man whom Jesus faces and calls to from the crowd.
“Get up and come forward,” he calls. I can feel the man’s fear. “I don’t want to be up front. I don’t want to be looked at as a freak with this funny looking arm. Do I have to get up there? I guess so or everyone will continue to stare at me. At least up front I will have my back to the crowd.” Now Jesus speaks. He does not call to his enemies who are enraged that he is causing a scene in this holy place. No, he gives the man the opportunity to pull away again by asking him to stretch forth his hand. And then he questions whether it is right to do a good deed on a holy day even if it is work? The man’s hand is restored to good health; his enemies are furious at being put down in front of the congregation and Jesus continues with his teachings. It took strong hearts to stand in front of the crowd and carry out this cure against the anger of the town leaders who are now plotting to put the Healer to death. COURAGE! Two strong hearts vs. rage

Fear of the Lord – A Gift from the Spirit?

In both the old and new testaments writers have spoken about seven gifts given to those who love God. In the Old Testament one finds mention in Isaiah 11:2-3. The prophet names them:the spirit of wisdom and insight, the spirit of counsel and power,the spirit of knowledge and fear of Yahweh.
In the New Testament Paul includes the gifts in his first Letter to the Corinthians. Paul was a convert to Chrisianity from Judaism and a learned scholar in the faith of both beliefs. It was probably easy for him to translate one universal idea into a world wide understanding. And so in his sermon/letter to the church he founded in Corinth he names the gifts of the Spirit of God. He tells his congregation these gifts are given to all and we must make use of them for the good of all.
Now that is fine with me but Fear of the Lord/Yahweh has always bothered me. I do not like to be afraid of anyone or anything and living in fear has awful connotations. So I spent some time trying to figure out what it is the Lord actually expects from us when we hold “Fear of the Lord” as a gift from God.
I propose that this is not fear in the sense of scare but fear as in being in awe. When we reverence someone or something, be it a title, person, action, we are in awe of that something. We hold that idea in high esteem. Ireally like that thought. We admire that someone; we are astonished by that action. So many times we hear in the New Testament “Do not be afraid.” In one of John’s Letters he says perfect love casts out fear.
God asks for love; he gives me love; he is love. How could God want me to fear him? I really thinks he loves me; created me;
and wants my love, respect,and best self in return. Oh! a much better thought!