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  tanglepatterns.com/2015/03/tanglepatterns-string-147.html 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 is.....by 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,