Monday, August 10, 2015

A Grain Of Wheat

We have all heard the expression, God loves a cheerful giver.  Like so many sayings we hear today, this one comes from the Bible; in fact, it is in today's first reading.  
"Each one should give as you have decided in your heart to give.  You should not be sad when you give, and you should not give because you feel forced to give.  God loves the person who gives happily."  2 Corinthians 9:7

Today is the feast day of St. Lawrence, the arch-deacon of the Diocese of Rome in the year of Our Lord 258.  One of Lawrence's responsibilities as deacon was to proclaim the Word of God, look after the material goods of the Church, and to care for the poor.  

Christianity was an illegal religion in Rome at that time.  Pope Sixtus II was put under civil arrest, and martyred.  Lawrence knew the Empire would come after him next.  When the civil authorities of Rome demanded that Lawrence produce the treasure of the Church, he told them he would do so, but said he needed a couple of days to get it together.  He sought out the poor, widows and orphans, the blind and the lame, and the lepers.  He gathered the money he had, and even sold the sacred vessels of the Church, and he disbursed it all to them.

When the prefect came for the Church's money, Lawrence simply pointed to the crowd and said, "Here is the treasure of the Church."   The prefect did not understand what Lawrence was saying.  Neither did he understand how Lawrence spent his life in the service of these poor people.  On August 10th, four days after the death of the pope, Lawrence was martyred.  

This is a feast of generosity and joy and abundance.  What Saint Lawrence did was reflect the generosity and joy and abundance of God.  He understood that the wealth of the Church was in the way our lives touch the lives of others.  We see God's generosity to us in the Gospel today; that unless a grain of wheat falls to the earth, it remains a grain, but if it dies it produces much abundant fruit.  We are called to produce abundant fruit, good works for the kingdom of God.

As we reflect on the feast day of St. Lawrence, let us ask the Lord to give us the courage and strength to joyfully and abundantly proclaim the goodness of God.  Let us remember that his Church is not about material things or money, rather it is about how our lives are connected to the lives of others; about serving one another, particularly the poor. 

Be blessed,

Note:  I was inspired for today's ZIA by Helen Williams, where I learned to tangle the wheat.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

The Perspective of Salvation

Have you ever heard a homily or sermon and felt that the preacher was speaking directly to you?  This Sunday, our Deacon spoke about the 'desert experiences' in our lives.  Those times we experience illness, death, dry periods, alienation, job loss, hopelessness.  He spoke of the grace of God coming into those situations.  Indeed, when I look back at those times in my own life, I can see that God was there, even though I was unaware of it at the time.  I can see, in retrospect, how he provided relief, help, encouragement, and support during those times.

Recently, my husband, Dan, and I have been enduring a prolonged period of desert experiences.  Dan's mom, who has been convalescing at home from a fall just nine months ago, fell again and broke her femur last week, requiring another hospitalization.  Rehab arrangements, meetings with staff and the social worker, phone calls, caring for Dan's handicapped brother, and so many other loose ends have been eating up our time and energy.  It is clear that some very difficult decisions need to be made now, as home is no longer safe for Dan's mom.   Dan is recovering himself from heart health issues.  Stress is at a high level for us now.

Deacon Dick's challenge to us this week is to be attentive to our desert experiences; to think about them and try to see them in perspective of our salvation.  When we are caught up in our situations, we cannot see beyond the problems and pain.  We do not see or feel God's provision.  We tend to turn inward and focus on our problem.  

When I think of my salvation, I can more easily put our current issues in their correct perspective.  I realize that it will not be like this forever.  I know that our time here is but a microscopic dot on the timeline of eternity.  God's grace brings me hope, and his blessings become more clear.   I can begin to see God's hand, working through circumstances, through people, and through the Holy Spirit during my prayer and reflection time.   We have friends who have graciously brought meals during Dan's heart procedure; others who have sent cards and call or visit, letting us know they are there for us.   Leaning on each other has brought us closer, as a couple and as a family.  We find joy in quiet moments together on the deck with a cup of coffee, and walking the boardwalk along the river, feeling renewed by the beauty and wonder of nature.  We turn to Jesus, and He is there, ever faithful, welcoming, and understanding.  

Yes, our problems are still there.  They often seem daunting, overwhelming.  Yet, with all of that comes the grace of God.  His love is magnified in our lives. 

"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory 
in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself 
restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast."
                                                                     1 Peter 5:10

Be blessed!

Zentangle note:  Today's Zentangle tile features Circuital as the main tangle.  Also Lazy Eights, B'Tweed, Finery, Phuds, Striping.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Our Call To Joy


Joy is frequently mentioned in the Bible.  It is one of the Fruits of the Spirit, second only to love.  We sing songs about joy.  We celebrate occasions of joy; the birth of a long-awaited baby, an engagement or wedding, milestones, and victories.  Holidays are occasions for joy; Christmas proclaims "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"

Pope Francis's first apostolic exhortation is entitled The Joy of the Gospel (Evangelii Gaudium).  In it he elaborates on many of the thoughts and reflections we have been hearing from this joyful Pope.  He emanates a warmth and welcome through his actions; and an enthusiasm for his role as Bishop of Rome and Pastor of the universal Church.  He brings a feeling of hope to a weary Church and cynical world. 

This Pope has a heart for evangelizing.  He has a solidly pastoral background, which comes through in his writing.  "An evangelizing community gets involved by word and deed in people's daily lives; it bridges distances, it is willing to abase itself if necessary, and it embraces human life, touching the suffering flesh of Christ in others.  Evangelizers thus take on the "smell of the sheep" and the sheep are willing to hear their voice." (24)

Most importantly, Pope Francis's actions reflect his words.  He shows humility, compassion, inclusion, warmth, joy, and kindness as he interacts with people.  He goes about his business of sharing God's love with enthusiasm and pure joy, genuinely happy to be the hands and heart of Jesus to the poor, the neglected, the outcasts, and the disillusioned.   He teaches us, by the way he lives his own life, how to be joyful and how to share that joy with a hurting world.

Pope Francis, through his ministry, teaches us that the Gospel calls us to joy.   When things are going well, and our lives are rolling along smoothly, most of us find it easy to be contented, even joyful.  Yet, for myself, when my life gets complicated and difficult, and I'm feeling overwhelmed, confused, and hurt, I don't always want to hear that the answer is to 'keep the faith.'  To see my trial as a chance to grow.  The temptation to despair is part of my humanity.  But it helps to know that the difficulty is real, and that I am not alone.  It has been said that what you focus on, you give power to.  Pope Francis reminds us to keep our focus on the joy, not the pain.

The Gospels teach us about Jesus and his ministry.  The stories told by the apostles are filled with examples of Jesus's love.  They tell about Jesus teaching his disciples, and calling them to go out and spread the Good News, with joy.  This call extends to us, today.  

The joy of the Gospels is not something we should keep to ourselves.  We are called to go forth and share this Good News to others.  Jesus teaches us how in the Gospels.  Pope Francis models the precepts of Jesus with humility and joy.  He inspires me, indeed all of us, to do the same.

I am reading a book entitled, "Pope Francis And Our Call To Joy," written by Diane M. Houdek.  It is a mere 75 pages, but is filled with wisdom and hope.  I encourage everyone to read this book.  It may be just the jump-start we need to help us to be full of joy in the Lord, regardless of our circumstances.  And to share this joy and the good news with our neighbors.

"My brothers and sisters, be full of joy in the Lord."
Philippians 3:1

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Stars and Stripes

"First, I tell you to pray for all people, asking God for what they need and being thankful to him.  Pray for rulers and for all who have authority so that we can have quiet and peaceful lives full of worship and respect for God.  This is good, and it pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to know the truth."  
1 Timothy 2:1-4

In just a few days,  we Americans will be celebrating our freedom on the 4th of July,  Independence Day.  People will gather for picnics and barbeques.  Fireworks will light up the skies around the country.  Patriotic songs will be sung in churches.   Prayers will be offered for our beloved country, and our country's leaders.

In the above reading, the Apostle Paul instructs Timothy how to lead the church.  His very first instruction is to pray for all people.   The first assignment of the church is prayer.   Today's church continues to prioritize prayer.  We pray for our president and vice-president, and for our government and local officials.  We pray for a peaceful society, where we can worship and where respect and justice can flourish.

I am so very proud to be an American.  I believe we live in the greatest country on earth.  Yes, I sometimes disagree with decisions and actions from our officials.  But I do what I can.  I earnestly research candidates, and vote at elections.  I participate in signing petitions where I feel there is injustice.   Most importantly, I pray.  I pray that God will lead our president and congress members; that the Holy Spirit will guide and inspire them; and that citizens will do their part to help insure our country will remain our "sweet land of liberty."  

As I watch my grandchildren march in their school parades and children take part in patriotic assemblies this time of year, I think about what kind of country we will leave them.   Enlightened or ignorant, we do have a choice!  What choices can we make to help ensure America's future?

Won't you join me this week in praying for our country? 
"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray...then I will hear from heaven."  II Chron. 7:14 

Be blessed,

My zentangle tile today contains the tangle patterns meer, printemps, arukas, and aura knot.   

Friday, June 19, 2015

I Have Enough

"For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
 Matthew 6:21

I have an app on my ipad called PAYG (Pray As You Go).  Each day there is a 10-15 minute reflection on the reading of the day.  There is a reading of the scripture, along with music for meditation and reflection.  Then some thoughts and questions to think about.  I like it because it fits nicely into my day, and helps me keep up with the daily readings, no matter how hectic my day.  

Today's reading is from the Gospel of Matthew.  The music for reflection is from Bach's Cantata Number 82, Ich Habe Genug .
This beautiful selection echoes the words of Simeon.  "I Have Enough.  I have taken the savior, the hope of the Gentiles, into my arms."

I was thinking about why the writer of this reflection chose this music and Simeon's prayer to accompany today's reading from the Gospel of Matthew.  This prayer, which just says, 'I have you, Lord.  I have enough," is very beautiful in its simplicity and straightforwardness.  

Jesus said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and decay destroy, and thieves break in and steal.  But store up treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor decay destroys, nor thieves break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."

It is right for us to bring our needs to God in prayer.  He is our Father, and wants us to lean on Him.  But sometimes it is good to realize, like Simeon, that we have all we need in God.  That our treasure is, indeed, in heaven.  I have you, Lord.  I have enough.

Here is the link to the Pray As You Go website, if you would like to try it. .  Let me know what you think.  

Be blessed,

Today's Zentangle tile uses the patterns Weave, Flux, and Poke Root.

Monday, June 15, 2015

A Lesson In Grace

Colossians 4:6  “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”

When my granddaughters spent the weekend a few weeks ago, four year old Kennedy watched intently as I knitted the final rows on a prayer shawl I was making.  As soon as the yarn and shawl were placed in the basket, she cozied up in my lap to finish watching a movie before bedtime.  Holding her little stuffed dog up for me to see, she asked if I could knit a blanket for him.  Well, of course this Nana was up for that task.  

This little granddaughter of ours loves super heroes. The bulk of her wardrobe consists of t-shirts with Spiderman, Ninja Turtles and other hero characters.   No princesses or ballerinas for her.  She will don the occasional dress, at her mom’s insistence, when the occasion calls for dressing up, but nothing flashy or ruffled or flouncy.  Plain and simple, and neutral in color.  So, it did not come as a surprise when she said she wanted her dog’s blanket to be black and blue.  

When we visited the following week, Kennedy asked if the blanket was finished.  Before I pulled the blanket from my knitting bag, I decided to tease her a little.  “It is almost done.  I will knit the last four rows today and you can watch.  You did say you wanted pink and white, didn’t you?,” I taunted. 

An almost imperceptible flash of disappointment crossed her face, but she was quick to catch herself, nodding in agreement.  Of course, I hastened to reveal the blue and black almost completed blanket, much to her relief and delight.   That tender moment, however, when she quickly masked her disappointment so as not to hurt my feelings, this little girl chose concern and kindness to me over expressing her disappointment.  

She chose......  

How often do I choose grace when my plans are interrupted?  When my expectations or needs are not met?   When someone has hurt me?   It does not come naturally.   It takes purposeful action.   It means not interrupting when my elderly neighbor tells me the same story over and over.  It is choosing forgiveness when someone I love disappoints or hurts me.  It is saying a prayer for the person in the car that pulls out in front of me.  It is being kind when I would rather lash out.



Natural?  No.  Easy?  Definitely not.  Not on our own, that is.  But with God’s help, we can learn to choose grace.      

By the way, Kennedy's middle Grace.  

Be blessed,

Thank you, Lord, for using the innocence of a child to remind me of your grace, which is perfect, and of which I am so unworthy.  Help me to show kindness and grace to others, as you have done to me.  Amen.

Kennedy writing a note to her dog, Dempsey.

I am entering this ZIA in the 30 Day Coloring Challenge on .

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Being Part of the Miracle

"Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?  John 6:5

 John 6:1-15
Jesus didn't need Philip to tell him how they were going to feed the large crowd that had followed them.  He already knew what he was going to do. He knew the disciples were skeptical.  Rather than just taking care of the situation and performing his miracle, however, Jesus involved his disciples.  Philip saw the need; Andrew gathered the meager loaves and fishes from the boy; and the disciples told the people to sit down, and passed the loaves and gathered the leftovers.  The disciples were an important part of Jesus' miracle from start to finish.  He wanted the twelve to become familiar with the idea of performing miracles themselves.

The disciples gained confidence that day.  They learned to look at needs with eyes of compassion.  They learned to give Jesus their meager offerings, trusting him.  They learned to give thanks to God.  They learned to rely on the power of God, and to go forward to build the kingdom with confidence.

What can we learn from this story?  Do we realize that we are Jesus' disciples today, and that he wants to do the same thing for us?  Are we willing to become vessels of his grace in the world?

There are needy people all around us.  God is asking us to pay attention.  He is inviting us to join him in doing something about it.  If we listen for his direction and are willing to reach out in faith, we will see wonders.  We will be part of the miracle.

Be blessed,

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Why Are You Amazed?

"Why are you amazed at this?"  Acts 3:12

The man who had been crippled from birth clings to Peter and John.  Those who saw Peter heal the man exclaim it to the gathering crowd.  Whispers.  Shouts.  People straining to see for themselves.  It's true, it's amazing!  He walks!

"Why are you amazed?" Peter asks.  All their lives these people have been proclaiming that God is a healer and deliverer.   So why, indeed, are they amazed to actually see God heal someone through the prayers of a group of believers?  Through someone like themselves?

As I think about this reading, I find that I am not so different.  There is often a gap between what I proclaim and what I actually count on in my life.  Sure, I pray for friends and family members.  I fervently ask for healing and restoration.  I know about God's healing power, his transforming love.  I think I am praying in faith.  Yet, when God sometimes intercedes and brings about a remarkable healing, I am surprised. Why, indeed, should I be amazed?   Isn't this what I asked for?

In his infinite wisdom and grace, God gives us so much more than we ask much more than we even know to ask for.  God's healing goes much deeper than the physical.   He wants to restore us on a spiritual level.   He wants to unite us to himself and to each other.  There are many blessings beyond physical healing that God wants to give us.

So, how should we pray?   
  • We start, as Jesus did, with the people right in front of us.  Right here and now.  We pray for their needs, both physical and spiritual.  
  • We continue praying for them daily, until we see results.  We picture ourselves bringing these people to Jesus.  We are not merely making a wish; we are praying!  Through our faith we intercede.  But that is not all there is to it.   God hears our every prayer.   He responds.
  • We thank Jesus, even before we see anything happening.  We thank him for his work in their lives, and in ours.   
  • We say Amen!  Because we believe.   We trust in his power to act.
Help us, Lord, to open ourselves fully to your healing power.  Make us intercessors for those who need your healing, physically and spiritually.  Amaze us, Lord, with the grace of your love. 

Be blessed,

Tangles used in this Zentangle tile are Meringue, Mooka, and Tipple.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Rejoice! He Is Risen!

Today is Easter Sunday.  A day all about faith and family.
Today we wake up to candy and chocolate bunnies, hidden baskets laden with gifts.
Today we feast on roasted ham and scalloped potatoes and special traditional foods.
Today we dress up in our finest outfits to wear to church.
Today the choir sings with renewed vigor, and the entire congregation sings along, hardly able to contain our joy.
Today we hear the great news of Jesus' resurrection.

But not every Sunday is like Easter, is it?  It isn't every Sunday that we dress up for church.  If we are honest with ourselves, it isn't every Sunday that we may even want to go to church.  The message is not always the wonderful news of Jesus' resurrection.  Sometimes we hear the difficult things, the things that cause us to swallow the lump of conviction.  Sometimes we can't let go of our bitterness and fears long enough to hear God's voice.  Sometimes we just go through the motions, distracted by the din of our own busy-ness and pursuits. 

But it is every Sunday, in fact every moment of every day, that God loves us.  Every day he calls us to himself through our faith in his Son.  God has offered us the gift of forgiveness and eternal life.  Jesus secured this promise for us when he died on the cross and rose from the dead.  Because there was a resurrection, because there is Easter Sunday, we have hope.  Every day.  We have life.  We have His promise.  

Today we renew our baptismal vows.  We have a fresh start.  A chance to commit, again, to living the life of faith, the life of fullness in his love.   In light of the joy of the resurrection, we can proclaim, "This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad, for Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.  Let us live our lives in that joy."

Be blessed,

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Be Extravagant!

"Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment and anointed the feet of
                               Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair.  The house was filled with
 the fragrance of the perfume."   John 12:3
     My daughter is one of those people who goes all-out when it comes to making the people she cares about feel special.  For one of my birthdays she treated me to an afternoon at her salon, coloring, cutting, styling, and pampering me.  She had my granddaughters busy at home decorating the house for my birthday party, and making my birthday cards.  She created a special lovely dinner for us, her amazing chicken piccata, followed by a lavish cake.   Her gifts were extravagant and way too expensive.  To top it all off, she and I shared a special evening at the theater, just the two of us.  I truly felt honored, and very, very loved.  

     When I protested about the expense and attention, she retaliated by telling me that I deserve it.  She did it out of love for me, and gratitude.  I graciously accepted her gift of love.  I let her lavish me with the kindness of her heart.  Not only was I blessed by her loving attention, the true blessing was realizing and accepting the love and care that went into all she did for me.

     In the Gospel reading today, Mary, the sister of Lazarus and friend of Jesus, did something which can only come from love.  She took oil and perfume, the most precious thing she had, and anointed Jesus.  This perfume was expensive, almost a year’s wages.  She stooped and humbly anointed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair.  The real price she paid, however, was facing the scorn and rejection of the self-righteous Pharisees and others at the meal.  Yet, she persisted.  She thought only about pleasing her Lord.  

     How do we anoint the Lord’s feet?  How do we show him our love and gratitude?

     Mary’s humble and loving actions show the extravagance of love.  Our Lord showed us the extravagance of his love by giving the best he had.  He suffered a humiliating and painful death for our sake.  He anointed us with his Holy Spirit.  

     Do we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and intentions?  Do we honor Christ in our words and deeds?

     Jesus praised Mary’s loving, extravagant deed. Let us perform a loving deed today. Let us be extravagant!

Bless us, Lord, with a heart for extravagance.  Make us generous in charity.  Keep us mindful of those who need our time, our kindness.   May your extravagant love, grace and tender compassion be the model we use to serve those whom we meet today.   

Be blessed,

I used the tangle Lazy Eights (by Denielle Noe) in my tile today.  It looks like little flowers, so I thought it appropriate with this post.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

May The Road Rise Up To Meet You

May the road rise up to meet you.
                        May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields,
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand. 
You are probably familiar with this traditional Irish blessing.  It is an ancient Celtic prayer.  Celtic literature is famous for using images of nature and everyday life to speak of how God interacts with His people.
     This prayer is about God's blessing for our journey.  It speaks of three images from nature - wind, sun, and rain - to represent God's care and provision.  The wind can be likened to the Spirit of God, who came as "a mighty wind" at Pentecost.  The warmth of the sun reminds us of God's tender mercies, "the rising sun will come to us from heaven" (Luke 1:78).  The rain falling softly upon your fields speaks of God's provision and sustenance.  The last line reminds us that we are held safely in God's loving hands as we travel our journey of life.

     My tangle today is in honor of St. Patrick's Day.  I traced the Celtic knot, and then did my tangles inside the lines.  I sponged color on with inks to add color for today's green.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Acting Myself Into Right Thinking

     The Three Quick Miles dvd was in the dvd player, ready to go.  I used it yesterday, and left it in the player so that it would be ready for today.  I have been trying to walk to the dvd every day, for 45 minutes.  The walking and supporting exercises on this dvd equate to three miles during that 45 minutes.  It is fast paced, but not high impact.  I do not have to go out in the cold to do it, or drive anywhere.  So, why then, do I keep putting it off?  
     I know that it is important to exercise so that I stay healthy and fit.  I want to stay healthy and fit.  The problem is, I don't like exercising!  It makes me sweat, and it's hard work.  There, I said it.  
     After breakfast, I read my scriptures for the day, wrote in my journal, and spent some time in prayer.  Then I got dinner started in the crock pot, did some laundry, straightened the living room, kitchen, and dining room.  Checking my emails morphed into scanning the new pins on Pinterest, then FaceBook, then...well, you get the idea.
     Eventually, I did start the dvd and did my walking.  When I was finished, I felt great, and glad that I had done it.   I took that first step, that action.  I purposed in my heart to keep it up, every day.  At least until the weather is a little warmer and I can walk outdoors.
     So it is in my spiritual life.  I keep slipping into bad habits, doing things I should not do, and not doing things I should.  I recognize that I am a sinner.  But I also know that I am loved.  God loves me in spite of my sin.  He wants me, and you, to put ourselves into his life.  He wants us to live in him.  He said "I am the narrow gate."

     I cannot 'think' myself into right action.  I need to 'act' myself into right thinking.   

Following Jesus calls for discipline.   I want to be close to him.  I don't want to sin.  When I read God's Word, pray, go to Mass, give of my time and talents to worthy causes, I am putting myself into his life.  I am acting myself into right thinking.  
     Yes, I will sin again, and again.  And Jesus will be there, in his mercy, loving me.   Forgiving me.  Every time.  And I will go once again to him.  I will make the words of Jesus a reality in my own life.
"Enter through the narrow gate.  For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matthew 7:13 

Be blessed,

Today's Zentangle tile features the tangles Fengle and Oof. 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

How Is Your Lent Going?

I created this Zentangle after one night of a Lenten retreat at our church.  I find the act of creating helps me to digest what I have heard and to contemplate how I can apply it to my life.

     We are now three weeks into Lent.  This may be a good time to ask ourselves a few questions to see if we are on track.
     How is my prayer time going?  Am I praying more often than I did before Lent started?  Am I spending more time in God's Word?
     Have I attended Stations of the Cross, retreats, missions, or                              other church sponsored Lenten activities?   Have I gone to confession to receive the sacrament of reconciliation?
     How am I doing with almsgiving?  With fasting?  Did I give up something, or did I decide to do something positive, some random acts of kindness?  How is that going?

     Perhaps you, like me, find that some of these areas could use a little more attention.  Maybe you haven't started yet.  Don't worry, you still have time.  That's the wonderful thing about God.  He meets us right where we are!  Right in the middle of our muddled attempts.  Now is the time to get back on track, or to start.    

     Commitment to the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving during Lent leads to an awareness of God and conversion of the heart.  These practices remind us of our baptismal identity as Priest, Prophet, and King, so that Easter morning we are ready to renew the vows of our faith.

     Be blessed!

*I used a string from the Tangle Patterns String Challenge using string number 147.      

Thursday, March 5, 2015

A Little At A Time

I often feel as though there is nothing can do about world hunger, poverty, injustice.   My contribution of time, my monetary donation, my small acts, all seem so inadequate in the face of such overwhelming injustice.  I was thinking about this after today's reading about Lazarus and the poor man.       
     As I was filling the strings of this tile with tangles, my hand did something wonky, and the pen slipped.  I ended up with a pen mark where I didn't want it, and a squiggly line where there should have been a smooth line.   Frustrating.  I thought it was ruined, and there was nothing I could do to fix it.  Then, I stopped looking at the tile as a whole, and focused on the problem area.  With patience, several small strokes, a couple of reinforced lines, and some unplanned fill-ins, it all came together to produce the finished tile.  There it focusing on one problem area, I can do what I can to make it better! 
     Mother Teresa said, "We cannot all do great things, but we can do all things with great love."  With love, I can reach out to the poor, the hungry, the victims of injustice.  With what I do have.  Where I am.  Now.  A little at a time. 
     "We know only too well that what we are doing is nothing more than a drop in the ocean.  But if the drop were not there, the ocean would be missing something."  Mother Teresa

Be blessed,

Monday, March 2, 2015

Let All You Do Come From Love

       The readings this Sunday offer me hope as I stumble through Lent.  Like the disciples, I struggle to understand the cross.  I imagine Peter, James, and John were more than a little shaken up when Jesus was transfigured before them.   Jesus wanted to teach and encourage them, to shake up their faith.  Mission accomplished! 
     When God spoke, He gave the disciples, and gives us, a glimpse of heaven.  This Gospel shows the love of God the Father for his son, Jesus.  It gives us hope.  To us, God is a loving God who cares for us.   
    Jesus was about teaching, curing, and loving, unconditionally. As  Christians, you and I are called to love.  What are we doing to build the habits of unconditional love?  How can I love the unlovable?
    We can learn from the examples Jesus modeled.  I can make a choice, every day, to love who God puts in front of me.  I can make a real effort to truly listen to people, to hear with my heart.  We can come often to the Eucharistic Table.  There we can offer our triumphs and our failures to God.  There we will be nourished to go forth to love as Jesus loved; to teach, and cure, and care for his people.  
     In doing so, our hope is that some day God will say to us, too, "This is my beloved son, this is my beloved daughter, in whom I am well pleased."
   Be blessed,

Saturday, February 28, 2015

From The Inside Out

     Since Ash Wednesday, I have been focusing my scripture reading and prayer on the readings for Lent. I created this Zentangle tile after my prayer time this morning.  It is interesting to see how my right brain interprets what I had absorbed from my reflections and prayer time when I put my pen to the tile.
     Lent had always made me feel uncomfortable.Fasting. Prayer. Almsgiving. Itʼs a lot of work, struggling and wrestling with attitudes Iʼd just as soon keep buried deep inside. In my heart, however, I know there are issues that I need to work on. When Lent started this year, I decided to dive right in, to leave my comfort zone. I asked the Lord to show me what is in me that is not right. What actions, thoughts, motivations are not pleasing to him? Where do I need to grow? Are there sins in my life I had grown numb to?
     For me, the area upon which I most need Godʼs grace and cleansing is fear. I realize that my attitude of fear affects me, it affects other people in my life, and most importantly, it is against God. I know that I cannot change this sinful attitude on my own. Only God can reach deep into my heart and remove this harmful behavior. Only he can provide this from-the-inside-out cleansing.  
     How is your Lenten journey going?  Is there an area in your life where you need God's healing grace?   There are still five weeks left in Lent.  We need only seek him, ask him.  He is waiting for our knock.  He wants to cleanse us of the attitudes that keep us chained to sin in our life, that keep us from enjoying all the good things he has for us.  “Ask, and it shall be given unto you, seek, and you shall find, knock, and the door shall be opened unto you.” Matthew 7:7
     Zentangle starts with one stroke. I seldom know where that stroke will lead, what patterns will emerge, or what the finished tile will look like. Yet, taking that next stroke, and the next, drawing from somewhere inside me, my artwork comes alive on the paper. A beautiful tile develops.  So it is with Lent. We take one step at a time towards God. As we move away from our comfort zone and  toward him, he meets us in our uncertainty and vulnerability.  He replaces our sin with his grace.  We need only take that first step, and let him lead us the rest of the way to wholeness.
I have come in order that you might have life, and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Note:  Tangles used in today's Zentangle are Flormeoba, Strircles, and Pepper Tangleation. As I was creating this tile, I wasn't aware that all of the tangles I had chosen to use had spirals going from inside the tangle out.  How 'zen' of it to work out that way.  If you would like to learn more about Zentangle, click on the link in the column on the left.