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Pope Francis’ suggested New Year’s resolutions

CNS Blog

(CNS/Paul Haring) (CNS/Paul Haring)

VATICAN CITY — When Pope Francis met before Christmas with Vatican employees, mostly lay people with families, he asked them to do 10 things. The list sounded remarkably like suggestions for New Year’s resolutions:

— “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

— “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

— “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”

— “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

— “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused…

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New Year…New Page

   I love new year’s. They always bring a new start…and I always seem to need one of those. Maybe because of frustration or anger or just plain discouragement…I need one. So…I really look forward to January 1 of every single year.
   This past year found me making some changes. Some were huge. Most were huge. Some haven’t seen the light of day…but they will. Some things did not change. I want to share the list.
I am still human.
I am still part of a family
I still love my animals
I still love those close to me
I still love Jesus most of all
   We all take roads misunderstood by someone. The key is to be sure we understand. If we understand we will make it. Many people I care about are divided on issues that matter to me. I just need to focus on one thing. Am I doing what I am supposed to do? Past that I need not concern myself. That is true for all of us.
   I have fewer people in my inner circle this year. I have a straighter path. My road is easier to see. There are alot of bumps along the way. I see that. But never have we ever taken a road of value without pain being involved somehow. Suffering. Sacrifice. Strong decisions. That is the journey. We won’t all take it together. Sadly, some will stop before the trip really begins. They like the idea..but the road is too harsh. I like the idea as well. The road is harsh…but I find myself unable to veer from it. I must take it. I must see it to the end.
   May God guide each of us on this journey….to that place where we finally rest in Him.

Pleading Eyes and Dirty Fingers

   He looked at me with pleading eyes…. “will you be my friend?” The tone and the mannerisms suggested a confidence concerning my answer, but his eyes asked me not to show him to be wrong.
   Ten year old Matty is in one of those homes you worry about. I have watched him grow since he was six. He is a blonde haired wonder who started out needing my constant correction and ended loving me….and I him. He…along with little girls and boys just like him…keep the flame of adoption and social work alive in me. They teach me that you don’t have to give birth to them for them to feel like your own…..for you to want to fight for their best.
   On so many days I don’t want to go meet these kids. I don’t want to make the drive. I don’t want to deal with the program. It is never about the kids. I love the kids. The kids I love the most are the ones who have seen the least of it. And they are the only reason I don’t leave.
   I was not blessed to give birth to all the babies I wanted to. But God called me to love the ones closest to His heart. The ones who need so much more than they are getting now. Every minute I spend with them is a gift to me and to them. More for me. Each time I look into those eyes..whether it is Lils or Matty or Mike…I just know…with wounded children…this is where I belong.
   God has wounded children in every corner. He loves them. I imagine He looks in their eyes and He sees what I see. He sees that spark of hope. That pleading behind the tough act that says..”love me”. I believe I understand something of His heart as my own heart aches for these kids.
   Father..help me be strong enough to stay until you move me…but never far from your wounded children…oh God I pray.

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Fruit Grows …..

   Fruit…it grows in crazy places…like in a briar filled cove. That is where I find some of my favorite fruits. Blackberries and dewberries. Wild ones. I didn’t plant them. God did. People have said many times I should cut them down..but I love them. Wild cherries…they are tiny…very difficult to gather enough of to do any real thing with..but so sweet and wonderful is the taste of that tiny drop of goodness. These are gifts from God. Wonderful gifts from God. But…they take effort to reach. Gifts that require effort. The bounty received after I make the effort is just glorious…but I labor and sweat for that bounty….and so is the journey to spiritual fruit.
   I deal with the briars…my emotions…my sins…my doubts..my wounds. I fight through them…and let me tell you…I get scraped up. I get hurt. I get cut. I am left bleeding sometimes. Alot of the time. And still I am in the midst of the thicket…tied up in vines…and still no fruit.
   Sometimes…as I fight through the tangled bramble I find I am stuck..trapped…unable to continue down that path and must, instead, change directions. It isn’t always easy. Those turns and twists are painful. I just fought halfway down a path before I saw I couldn’t continue. I got cut up. I was covered in sweat. Maybe a serpent or two met me along the way. And now…halfway through…I find it was the wrong way. I feel tired. I feel frustrated. But I turn, and begin the new journey…if a little less enthusiastically.
   And then it happens. I see the first piece of fruit. The first jewel glistening in the sun…ripe and just waiting for the pickin. What is it? I managed to forgive someone I fought with. I managed not to tell my friend when my husband was unkind. I spoke softly to the rude teller at the bank. I was kind to my husband. I was kind to my kids. I was nice to the neighbor kids. I made it! Savoring the fruit of the moment is sweet. And yes..I am bleeding. It took a great effort…but the sweetness of the moment..the juicy goodness of the fruit….it is just amazing.
   I do not find that fruit as much as I want. I recognize my weakness. How much grace I truly need!
   Father..in your goodness you forgive me. I need that help. I need that more than anyone else I know. Thank you for mercy….

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In a Moment…..

   We think we have all the time in the world. We think…in a little bit I will wash that laundry. In a little bit I will cook that meal. When the kids get home from school we will sit down and have that talk. In a little while. But what if “in a little while”  never comes?
   Today a friend called me with news her son had been in an accident. There is a long road ahead with no idea what it will look like…but he won’t be home for dinner tonight. Her family may not see a family meal around the table for a long while. That moment in time took their “in a little while”.
   We do not know the future. Cherish every moment you have. Don’t put things off. Remember that we can’t know the future…there is no promise of it. But we have now..this very moment. Grab it!