It’s about love and mercy

Today is the Feast of St Francis of Assisi. St Francis is known for how he left worldly things behind and learned to be present with the Lord through all the people he met at all times.   I went to daily mass today to celebrate St Francis.  The priest gave a lovely homily about St Francis and it gave me much to think about.  I have been studying the lives of St Francis and St Claire as I discern whether to join the Third Order Franciscans.  I have been on this path for 15 months.  This order is a way of life devoted to simplicity and presence with others.  St Francis learned to love himself and then he learned to love others modeling himself after Jesus who is love and mercy itself.

I like the reminder that we have an awesome God who loves me. He made me and I am good. He made others and they are good too. Please remember that and hold fast to your relationships with each other.  Be merciful and loving toward yourself and your neighbor.  St Francis and St Claire give us good examples of how to do this.

When you have an issue with others, forgive them, talk to them, and love them. All of your relationships will be better. Always remember that the devil is the one who wants you to be righteous and angry and unforgiving. God is the one who asks us to be humble and loving and forgiving.

Oh God, thank you for the example of St Francis and St Claire.  Help me to love You, to love myself, and to love others just as St Francis and St Claire did.  Help me to see you when I look at my neighbor and at myself through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Love,

Mymom

Book Recommendations: The Bait is Satan: Living Free from the Deadly Trap of Offense by John Bevere

I read The Bait of Satan in 2013.  At the time, I had no idea how hurt I was by my feelings of being offended.  As John explains in his book, there are many reasons to feel offended.  Our reasons are usually good ones.  Our parents, our spouse,  our children, friends, neighbors, co-workers, boss, pastor, fellow Christians, teachers…and the list goes on and on all have times when they offend us.   When I feel offended, I may choose to wallow in my feelings instead of having conversations and forgiving the ones who have offended me.  

John Bevere calls the temptation to feel offended and disrupt or sever our relationships with others, the Bait of Satan.  It is what Satan uses to hook us into not only feeling bad but to quit talking to those we legitimately feel have harmed us.  Falling into the trap of rightous unforgiveness is a sin.  These sins separate us from others and more importantly, turn our attention inward and separate us from God.

Jesus has told us, we need to forgive others always.  

Matthew 6:14 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you;”

Forgiveness is never optional as a Christian.  If we are to be forgiven, we must forgive.  Satan tempts us with the offenses of others.  His goal is that we be separated from God and others.  Worse, our separation leads us to other sins of gossip and treating others badly.

The Bait of Satan opened my eyes and I started forgiving others.  Occassionlly, Satan still catches me with his bait.  Most of the time, I’m able to recognize the offense and call it out.  When you have a conversation with the offender, you often find that you misunderstood the situation.  Their intention wasn’t to offend and even if it was, let them be, forgive, and do not be held captive by the offense.

Oh God, help us to recognize when we feel offended and to swiftly forgive others.  Help us to truly mean it when we pray “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us”.  Through Christ Our Lord.  Amen

Love, MyMom

Book Recommendations – The Greatest Story

I want to share books that have been very significant in my life, so over this next month, I’ll give you some book recommendations.  The first book is the most significant.  It was very difficult and wonderful to read as are most spiritual books.  I would get distracted and have to bring myself back to it time and time again.  I first started exploring this book when I was a teenager.  I would read it avidly for a few weeks and then I would get out of the habit and come back to it later.  This book is the bible.  The first time I read it cover to cover, I read it with my young husband.  We used a study guide called God’s Word Today which I believe is called God’s Word Among us today.  The study guide took us through the bible one chapter at a time.

Each month, we would get a new booklet with daily readings covering a book of the bible.  The study alternated between the Old and New Testament books of the bible.  We would pause each morning before we began our day by reading a chapter or two and reading the reflection.  Over the course of three years, we read the whole bible.  It was such a special time for us to read together and reflect on God’s word together.  We learned so much about God and about each other.  My own faith deepened and at the same time, I had so many questions.

Over the many years since, I have read the bible multiple times.  I have taken the Bible Timeline class by Jeff Cavins.  I’ve read a daily reading guide of the mass readings.  Actually, the daily readings offered at mass will take you through the bible once about every three years.  My current guide is called “Living Faith, Daily Catholic Devotions”.  This year, I have committed to reading the bible cover to cover.  I’m using a devotion book called “Your Daily Walk”.

I also have an App on my phone.  Evangelizo has the daily readings and reflections.  More about Catholic Apps for your phone in another blog.  I’m learning new things every time I read a reflection.  The Word of God is infinite in its messages to us.  I meet God in a very personal way in the bible.  I find so many interesting facts.  So much comfort and so much challenge at the same time.  Why don’t you pick up the bible and read.  God has much to say to you too.

Let us pray, Oh God, help us to seek you in all that we do.  Help us to dive into your Holy Word again and again.  Please deliver us from the Evil One who finds every possible reason to keep us from reading, reflecting, and resting in You and your Holy Word, the Bible.  In Jesus Holy name, Amen.

Love,

My Mom

 

Be True to Your Faith in God

I am uncompromising about my belief in God. In the Holy Trinity: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. I believe that Jesus leads us to the Father. I believe that developing my relationship with Jesus through my prayer life is the most important thing that I do each moment of each day. Brother Lawrence learned how to be in His Holy presence at all times, even when doing simple, menial work. Do all things as if doing them for Jesus. See the Practice of the Presence of God.

It isn’t ok to ignore Jesus in your day or save Him for when you occasionally go to mass. Worse, to be vague about your belief at all. I have talked with Christians, especially Catholic Christians who are lazy about their belief or who want to be popular with the crowd who believe that Jesus just doesn’t matter.

As for me, I will serve The Lord. I don’t get to speak for my children any more. They are grown. I will never stop praying for their continuous growth and conversion to a beautiful life filled with Jesus.

Don’t be lukewarm about your faith. Jesus deserves so much more. Turn to Him and He will forgive your apathy and welcome you back. Join me in worshiping our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Oh God, forgive us for our Apathy, for the time we chose not to go to mass even for just one hour a week. Forgive us for the times we took you for granted and failed to worship you. Forgive us for denying you and help us instead to be aware of you in each breath we take. To shout out, My Lord and My God. In Jesus Holy Name. Amen.

Love, Mymom

Transitions make us anxious

Transitions can be hard for most people. We resist ending one thing and moving on to something new. We feel angst. We feel uncomfortable. We may be excited or sad. However we feel, those around us will sense our uneasiness. They may not understand and may feel distance when really, we are trying to hide our anxiety.

Actually, we can’t hide anxiety. Most of us wear our anxiety all over our faces and in our body language. People we love the most may take our anxiety personally and think our stress is about them.

Children especially will see and feel our stress and the children in your life need you to communicate.
So does your spouse or girlfriend or boyfriend. Talk about how you feel and what is next. Talk about specific actions you will be taking and ask for help along the way. Remember you are loved and you are not alone.

Oh God, help me to communicate with my family and friends. Help me to ask for help from you and those who care about me. Thank you Father for your steadfast love through Jesus our Lord, amen

Love, Mymom

Meanness

Mean or snide comments are mean and snide. What are we thinking when we make them?? We are all guilty of making “funny” remarks at the expense of others. Guess what – those comments are sinful and hurt others. Don’t do it. Just don’t be the devil’s voice in the world. As for forgiveness if this is you. Apologize. Encourage each other and build each other up. Kind words. Remember “if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all”.

When we are the victims of mean or snide comments, resist the urge to retort angrily. Take a deep breath and ask God to help you to forgive. That person may not know how badly they hurt you with the mean comment. Be courageous and tell them. Remember Jesus loves you truly. You are a cherished child of the one true King, Jesus. Peace be with you.

Oh God, help me speak kindly and listen with forgiving ears today. Help me to use positive self talk when thinking of what was said to me and let go of the hurt. Help me to rest in the knowledge that you love us both. In Jesus Holy name. Amen.

Love, Mymom

Build each other up

Relationships are not a competition. There is no room for sarcasm, cynicism, or meanness. When you feel hurt, as simply and honestly as possible, say “ouch, that comment hurt. Was it your intention to hurt me?” When we feel hurt, we often want to give an angry or sarcastic retort back. Resist that sin and instead turn the other cheek as Jesus taught. Seek to understand. Communicate bravely your very vulnerable feelings. Love. Build each other up with loving words. Peace be with you. Let us pray. Oh God, please help us to listen as you listen, to pray for your help before speaking, to love as you love through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Love, Mymom

Forgiveness

Think about the rude person you work with, the mean kids in middle school, your ex friends who hurt you, your mom who you never seem to please, your absent dad, your husband or wife or boyfriend or girlfriend who did the unforgivable, the driver who flipped you off, your boss who is too demanding or not demanding enough, yourself for your owns sins of bossiness, gossip, meanness, stealing, lying, laziness, betrayal, the list goes on and on. Sin abounds. Small sins we Catholics call venial or great sins we call mortal. Sin abounds. The great news is that we can forgive others and we can be forgiven. When we fail to forgive others, that is our sin. Jesus can help us to forgive them if we ask for his help. Jesus will forgive us when we are sorry and ask for forgiveness.
Jesus died to wash away our sins and our guilt.

I’m preparing for the beautiful sacrament of reconciliation this evening. What a lovely thing: To reflect on the things I’ve done http://four.mary.org failed to do and to ask for forgiveness. To hear the wise counsel of our priest be forgiven and begin anew.

Thank you Jesus for your sacrifice, forgiveness, renewal, and for Reconciliation. In Jesus Holy Name, Amen.
Love, Mymom

P.s. For those of you who haven’t been in a while, reconciliation is another name for confession or penance. The format is still the same but we can sit facing the priest or sit or kneel behind a screen. It is our choice. We can go at a scheduled time or we can call our church to make an appointment with our priest. Come back to this beautiful sacrament. Peace be with you.

Yelling Isn’t Communication

Do you yell when you want to be heard? Do you say nasty things to your love one to get attention or a reaction? I want you to know right now that yelling isn’t communication. My husband and I grew up in homes where yelling, shouting and sarcasm was a standard way to communicate. And we will both tell you we love our families, just not the way our parents chose to communicate. When we started our marriage, whenever something was really important to me, I yelled. When my husband didn’t respond, I yelled louder insisting that we resolve the issue here and now.
Bless my husband for not putting up with this behavior. He found the words to tell me that he agreed that this yelling behavior matched what we learned growing up but that wasn’t what he wanted for our relationship.
Wow. I had some changes to make. I learned to plan our talks, to let my husband know what was on my mind and plan for a later conversation when we both had a chance to prepare for a productive conversation. This was hard and took lots of practice. Sometimes I had to calm down and say “this is important and I need to talk it through now” and sometimes I could say “here are the three things I’d like to talk about in the next day or two”. Then we planned the time to talk. Compromise on approaches works for us and we both are glad that our yelling days are mostly behind us.
When I do lose my temper. I pray about it. It is always helpful to ask God to help me figure out the right words. I ask forgiveness and try to sort through what I really want to talk about. Then my husband and I plan for our communication time.
Let us pray. Oh God, please help us to lovingly forgive each other and include you in all our conversations. Through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Love, Mymom

Good relationships start with good communication

In order to have a good relationship, you have to be able to talk with the other person in your relationship. You share your feelings, your hopes, your dreams. You share the very best of yourself in a vulnerable way. Never assume that you understand, always check for meaning and respect what you hear as confidential and vulnerable. Take good care of each other’s words. Sometimes you’ll need to vent. Always clarify that you are venting and you don’t need a solution to any problem, you are just venting. When you feel angry, say so and ask for time to yourself to regroup and compose yourself. Continuing an angry conversation is not likely to turn out well. Communication is two way. It includes speaking and listening. Remember to breathe and have courage.
Your relationships with people will be better if you develop your relationship with God through prayer and listening. Ask God to help you with your words and to help you listen to understand. Pray in the moment for your conversation. God, give us the words we need to share.
Your relationships with people will be better if you look at your interior self talk. Do you speak kindly to yourself? Do you take care of yourself through prayer and time with God? Do you eat right, exercise, and rest? I heard recently of a priest giving a penance of taking a nap to someone who was struggling in a relationship and mentioned their concerns during reconciliation. Great idea! Take care of yourself and your communication with others will be better. Avoid acting like a tired two year old.
There have been many times in my marriage when my communication with my husband and/or my children was like that of a tired two year old. I wasn’t at my best but rather at my worst. Here is where forgiveness comes into play. We won’t always be at or best and we need to try to listen for understanding and be loving and forgiving. We need to say we are sorry and ask for forgiveness. Then we need to plan a better time and try again. Keep communicating, keep trying. Share a list of items you want to discuss in advance so that you can both think through your thoughts and be prepared for open communication.
Let us pray, oh God, please bless our communication with each other. Help us to listen and hear with ears of love, understanding, and forgiveness. Help us to speak with kindness and clarity as we seek to be understood. Help us not to blame. Help us in all our communication through Jesus our Lord. Amen.

Love, Mymom
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