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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Wait With Me

One thing that most of us have a difficult time with is waiting.  Right?  At a stoplight…in a check-out line…for test results.  Waiting seems pointless.  It can make us edgy, disgruntled, and anxious.  On the surface, the time we spend waiting each week simply feels like a huge waste.

But, could “waiting” and “silence” prove to be more than just fruitless time?

I often think that God is asking us to just sit in silence with Him, even though He may not be speaking any words or revealing anything at that moment.  Simply waiting with Him can bring peace and comfort.  True friends can wait with each other without saying a word.  He may just want us to rest with Him, assured of our love.

I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a juicy example of how waiting can prove fruitful after all.  We had planted a Satsuma orange tree about five or six years ago.  We were immediately eager to reap the benefits of our little citrus tree.  Nothing.  Year after year, we watered and nurtured it, only to have small green fruit the size of a pencil eraser grow and then fall off.

To be honest, we wanted to give up on that tree.  We had almost thrown in the towel because it didn’t bear fruit.  BUT!  Guess what?  This year, our little green fruit didn’t fall off.  They grew and grew…into nice, plump, juicy, ripe, orange, seedless, easy-to-peel, delectable fruit!  And, all it took was….yes….waiting.

Should we allow God to spend more time on us?  I think so.

Last week, God showed me another glimpse of how waiting can be rewarding.  I was at church, waiting in line to go to confession.  I was a bit antsy, since it had been, um, a little too long since the last time I stood in that line.  In the quiet of God’s house, I examined my conscience and reflected on the ways that I had offended the Lord.

While I waited, an elderly gentleman slowly opened the church’s door.  Step by step, he used his walker and carefully made his way to the line where I stood.  We exchanged smiles and then he told me a story.  He said he had just gotten back from the nursing home where his wife lives.  He told me that he fed her her supper and proceeded to tell me that his wife suffers from Alzheimer’s.  He said, “She doesn’t recognize me or even know that I'm there, but I still go.  I’ve been feeding her her supper every evening for the last four years.”

Every single evening for the last FOUR YEARS!  Of course, by this point, there are tears (big ones) welling up and I’m trying to fight them back.  I don’t cry pretty.  Never have.  When I cry, it’s ugly – it’s a big, red, swollen mess of ugly.  So, I managed to say, “Awww - she knows you’re there,” and then I quickly bowed my head to reflect on what I had just heard this man share with me.

I was so moved that I was able to witness an example of unconditional love – living in the flesh, standing right beside me.  This is also the type of love that Jesus has for us.  Doesn’t it all sound so familiar?  God, like this sweet man to his wife, is there, day after day, loving us and caring for us and sometimes we don’t even recognize that it's Him?  But, He still shows up.  Every.  Single.  Day.  This is God’s love.  And, I experienced all of this while “waiting” in line.  

After confession, I was reminded again of God’s beautiful grace.  My burdens felt lighter.  I was peaceful.  It always amazes me how the sacrament of Reconciliation can do that.  It’s like the Mr. Clean Magic Eraser – there is no stain that God can’t remove through His immense love for us.  Incredible (both the Magic Eraser and the Sacrament).

Instead of fighting it, when God says, “Wait with me,” I think I will.  I will learn to wait.  I've seen that wonderful things can happen while waiting.  My succulent Satsuma even says so!

No Sips next week, but have a very Merry Christmas!  Happy Birthday, my sweet, precious Jesus!  And, don’t forget to spread some sunshine in your corner of the world!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I Don't Feel Like It

Photo Credit:  mconnors at

Who else was wearing flip-flops and shorts while preparing their home for Christmas over the last couple of weeks?  I checked the outside temp. as we decorated our tree and it was a frosty eighty plus degrees – brrrr...UGH!  Needless to say, it didn’t “feel” like Christmas weather.  BUT, we did it anyway, and honestly, it felt great to see the lights aglow after it was all said and done.

Obviously, the weather isn’t the reason for this beautiful time of year.  It’s Jesus’ birth.  Now don’t get me wrong, I love the weather we’re having now and it does feel more like Christmas.  But, whether it’s eighty degrees or thirty degrees…He is still there (thank goodness!).  And, when my daughter prays, “I hope Jesus has a good birthday this year,” it truly melts my heart that she gets it.

Over the last few weeks, the anticipation has been increasing…so have the trips to town.  I’ve found that it has been very easy to lose focus.  It takes much more effort to be in the moment when we’re looking ahead to Christmas programs, family get-togethers, parties, Christmas cards, buying and wrapping presents…and the list goes on.

Time is precious, isn’t it?  Time is so precious that the good Lord gave it to us only one tiny second at a time.  Here lately, it seems that I’ve forgotten that.  I look too far ahead.  Maybe you’re doing the same?  I look to the next week’s festivities, the weekend commitments and many times, I forget to live in the precious, present moment.  Hurry here.  Hurry there.

As they say, inch by inch is a cinch, but yard by yard is hard.

My five-year-old daughter has become very intrigued by the whole concept of time.  We often discuss the differences between today, tomorrow, yesterday, tonight, last night, this week, next week, next month, and so on. 

So, to go along with the time fascination, she times me…everywhere I go.  I went to grab some lotion from the other bathroom and came back.  “Fifty-one seconds, Mom,” she said.  I got the supplies together to put her hair up.  “That took you ten seconds, Momma,” she replied.  REALLY?!  I do have to giggle at how she reports the time to me from a digital clock, though.  For 5:30, she’ll say, “Mom, it’s five, dot, dot, three zero.”  Love it…love the detail!

She’s also interested in years.  “How old is your car?  How old are Jesus, Mary, and Joseph?  How old is this house…in dog years?”  What?!  Looks like we need to work on that some more.

Needless to say, she’s brought “time” to the forefront of my mind.  And, because we only get a certain amount of it, I want to slow down enough to enjoy it.  How can I make my time and the time of those around me more pleasant?  There is something…something very magical that every single one of us can share and sometimes we just choose not to.  It’s a gift that each of us was born with and it doesn’t cost a thing to give.  It’s called a smile.

Just for the heck of it, I made a concerted effort to smile at ten random people the other day while shopping.  Of course, everyone was on a if under some sort of shopping spell.  The glitz and glam is alluring indeed.  Shopping carts were in a don’t-get-in-my-way-mode and the shoppers were in a daze, with their eyes fixed on the prize.  BUT!  A simple smile…well, it broke the spell.  Their shoulders relaxed, their cart speed slowed, and...they smiled back.

I’m serious.  Try it.  Even if you don’t feel like it…especially if you don’t feel like it…you’ll be amazed of the power it has…over you and them.

Another thing to try this season is a random act of kindness.  Do something for someone.  It doesn’t have to be monetary.  Sometimes, the very best gift we can give is ourselves.  The thrill of giving, rather than receiving, is delightful.  If you have never given anonymously, try it…it’s the type of giving when you don’t expect anything in return.  God sees and that’s all that really matters.

During the hustle and bustle, we also need to remember that we can’t do everything, but we can do something.  We CAN do something in our corner of the world to make a difference.  And, instead of complaining about what we DON’T have this season, let’s focus on what we DO have.  A positive attitude will draw out the best in us.  The more blessings we count, the more they seem to increase.

If we keep our eyes focused on the gift of Jesus’ birth, everything else will fall neatly into place because our focus isn’t on worldly things.  While we are preparing our homes and presents, are we preparing our hearts?  Are we making use of our time in a way that’s getting more than the tree ready?

I know one of the many things I will focus my thankfulness on is the simple fact that when we pray to God to watch over us, to take care of us, and to love us…that He never says, “I don’t feel like it.”  Boy, am I thankful for that!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oh...Eye See!

Photo Credit:  ecerroni at

Last Friday evening, I was the lucky recipient of a beautiful treat!  I received a surprise pedicure…from my five-year-old daughter.  My allergies had gotten the best of me and both of my eyes were blood-shot red and swollen.  I could barely open them, so I escaped to my daughter’s dark bedroom for a moment of shut-eye in her rocking chair.

Shortly thereafter, I could hear my daughter walking down the hallway, but I kept my eyes shut and stayed very quiet.  She found me (busted!), but tip-toed back out.  (Really?!  That was WAY too easy…) Then, about five minutes later, she came back in and quietly turned on the lamp beside me.

She then proceeded to line up her “supplies” on the floor beside her.  I opened my right eye just enough to see paper towels, a stool for my feet, lotion, a bucket of water, a paintbrush and…a Bob the Builder toy sander.  I’m no good at solving mysteries, but I assumed a pedicure was on the agenda.  (A sander?!  Are my heels THAT bad?!)

The funny thing is that I didn’t see any nail polish in her repertoire of goodies.  So, I was ultra curious as to what kind of foot treatment this might be.  Then, she said, “Mommy, I’m going to make you feel so much better.  I even hung a closed sign on the door so no one would come in.  Just sit back and relax.”

So, there I sat, in complete enjoyment as my daughter pampered me in her own special way.  Now, mind you, the water on that paintbrush was VERY cold and the “painting” took place on my heels, the top of my feet, and my shins…everywhere EXCEPT my nails, but I am certainly NOT complaining!

After she was done, she left a maraca so that I could “call” her if I needed anything else.  Perfect.  A percussion instrument is certainly much more soothing than a whistle or bell.  I just love that spunky little gal!  My eyes didn’t feel much better after the pedicure, but my heart sure did.  If my eyes wouldn’t have forced me to be still, I would’ve missed this moment with my daughter, as her actions spoke volumes of love to me that day.

Over the weekend, my pathetic eyes continued to bother me and forced me into having an itty bitty pity party for myself.  I’m as blind as a cave cricket (I originally had “bat,” but did you know that bats aren’t really blind?  Who knew?!).  Anyway.  I always wear contacts.  But, because it felt like there were two cups of desert sand in each eye, I had to wear my coke-bottle glasses instead.

While that wouldn’t have been half-bad, my eyes are very light-sensitive and I always wear sunglasses when I’m outside.  BUT, it’s kinda hard to put sunglasses on over regular glasses, you know?  So, when I had to go outside, it felt like the sun shot hot laser beams straight through my pupils into my brain.

So, being focused on how miserable it was dealing with my eyes, I often wondered, “Could there be anything worse than losing our sight?”  I could barely open my eyes and didn’t enjoy the darkness.  Then, I remembered reading one time that the answer is, “Yes, there is something worse than losing our sight…it’s losing our vision.”  Hmmmm….great food for thought.

I do know one thing…I have a new found appreciation for my eyes now.  I thank God that they work for me on a normal basis, even though my vision is ridiculously FAR from 20/20.  More importantly, I pray that God will continue to open the eyes of my heart to see Him in the things and people around me.  Sometimes my eyes are “closed,” even when they’re open.

As C.S. Lewis said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen – not only because I see it, but because by it, I see everything else.”  What we see certainly does depend on the eyes through which we look.  Open my eyes, Lord, open my eyes.

What could we learn if we truly open our eyes and not only listen to, but HEAR, what we see?  Sounds strange, but it’s true if we think about it.  Blessed Mother Teresa has some great quotes about opening our eyes and hearts to see and hear those around us.  Here are just a few that inspire me:

“Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”

“Love begins by taking care of the closest ones – the ones at home.  Love begins at home and it is not how much we do…but how much love we put in that action.”

“Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody – I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty, than the person who has nothing to eat.  The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.”

“We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do.  Let us always meet each other with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.”

My final thought on “seeing” comes from an e-mail that’s been going around about a little boy and his grandma’s pet duck (raise your hand if you have a pet duck…).

“There was a little boy visiting his grandparents on their farm. He was given a slingshot to play with out in the woods.  He practiced in the woods; but could never hit the target.  Getting a little discouraged, he headed back for dinner.  As he was walking back, he saw Grandma's pet duck.

Just out of impulse, he let the slingshot fly, hit the duck square in the head and accidentally killed it.   He was shocked and grieved.  In a panic, he hid the dead duck in the wood pile, only to see his Sister watching.  Sally had seen it all, but said nothing.

After lunch the next day, Grandma said, 'Sally, let's wash the dishes'.  But Sally said, 'Grandma, Johnny told me he wanted to help in the kitchen.’  Then she whispered to him, ‘Remember the duck?'  So, Johnny did the dishes. 

Later that day, Grandpa asked if the children wanted to go fishing and Grandma said, 'I'm sorry but I need Sally to help me make supper.'  Sally just smiled and said, 'Well, Johnny told me he wanted to help you.’  She whispered again, 'Remember the duck?'  So Sally went fishing and Johnny stayed back to help.

After several days of Johnny doing both his chores and Sally’s, he couldn't stand it any longer.  He came to Grandma and confessed that he had killed the duck.  Grandma knelt down, gave him a hug and said, 'Sweetheart, I know. You see, I was standing at the window and I saw the whole thing.  But, because I love you, I forgave you.  I was just wondering how long you would let Sally make a slave of you.'”

So, like the little boy’s grandma, we need to know that God is always standing at the window.  He has seen our whole life and wants us to know that He loves us and will forgive us for what we’ve done.  We just need to ask.  He's probably just wondering how long we will let the devil make a slave of us.

Hmmm….so, as my eyes continue to heal, I hope to remember a few things.  I want to always look for Christ in others; to see God in the beauty of this world; to remember that God sees all; to hear what my children are saying through what I see them do; and to appreciate the presence of His “Son”light each and every day.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A Delicious Combination

Photo Credit:  sideshowmom at
I hope everyone had a wonderful week of giving thanks and feasting on favorite dishes with family and friends.  My kiddos were off all last week, so Monday morning came as quite the shocker.  It’s amazing how easy it is to slip into summer mode.

I don’t know about you, but I love how our family’s Thanksgiving meal is so deliciously predictable.  For starters, my mom always makes enough to feed an army.   We discuss scaling down on quantity and it never actually happens.  When it’s all said and done, she confesses that it’s virtually impossible to make a small pan of dressing.  Plus, I know she secretly loves to send all her little ducklings home with some leftovers for lunch (and supper) the next day.  Love that Momma…and her cookin’!

We are also blessed to have so many different choices that I feel like I’m at Golden Corral.  The line-up typically includes ham, turkey, dressing, gravy, green beans, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash casserole, cucumber salad, cole slaw (sour and sweet versions), broccoli rice casserole, fruit with whip cream, rolls, cookies, pecan pie and…a nap.

However, there was a new dessert that Mom tried this year that I absolutely fell in love with.  She cut the recipe out of our local newspaper a few weeks ago.  It was an easy “crustless” pecan pie.  Well…crustless in that there was no crust you could visibly see on the outside.  My Uncle Greg convinced us that the crust was really found within the pie…all mixed together.  Here is the mouth-watering recipe:

2 eggs (beaten)
1 cup sugar
½ cup flour
1 tsp. vanilla
¾ cup chopped pecans
6 Tbsp. melted butter
1 cup sweetened coconut flakes
¼ tsp. salt

Mix the above ingredients well and pour into a greased 9-inch pie pan.  Place in a 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.  YUM!

In between all of the eating, we did manage to find some time to play outside with our puppy, Belle.  She is four months old now and is quite the lively one.  She loves to play fetch, but of course, does NOT let us have the ball she fetches without a fight. 

We tried to trick her into giving up her ball.  We would kick the tattered soccer ball and she would run after it and bring it back…well…nearby.  So, in order to get her attention away from the soccer ball, we would throw a small blue football beside her.  She would have to drop the soccer ball from her mouth in order to fetch the blue football.  Numerous times, she attempted to have both balls in her mouth.  It never worked.  She went crazy trying to have both.  She couldn’t stand it!

This sounds extremely familiar to what I try to do at times with God’s will for my life and my own will…God’s way and my own way.  Like Belle, I want to have both...the soccer ball AND the football.  It doesn’t work very well that way.  I have to drop my will to grab on tight to His.

In addition to eating and playing with Belle, the kids were craving some homework over the break.  What?!  Well, my husband promised to write down some questions for each of our children and said he'd look over their answers after work.  For some reason, my kids just loved this idea.

So, the Thanksgiving homework included questions in subjects like math, spelling, science, social studies, faith, and common sense.  The kids thought it ranked right up there with chocolate.  Our three-year-old daughter had to name some colors and shapes and know the answers to questions like “What color is daddy’s truck?” and “What is PoPo's real name?”

Our five-year-old had some simple math and spelling as well as questions like (Dads will love this…), “How much pressure do tires have?” and “Name three fluids you check in a car.”  Yes, our daughter just might become a mechanic one day!  She aced the questions - especially, “When is Jesus’ birthday?” and recited the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” without missing a beat.

Our nine-year-old son had a more challenging selection of questions.  He was asked questions about electricity conductors and insulators, as well as what gas must be present for fires to burn.  He had to write down three of the ten commandments as well as the four gospel writers.  He did a fantastic job, right along with the girls.

BUT, in the social studies section of his questions, time stood still for me for just a moment.  I was reminded of something very important through one of my son’s answers.  One of the questions was, “Who leads the United States of America?”  My husband was looking for “President” as the answer.  My son wrote…”God.”

Yes.  A simple reminder of Who guides the sun to rise and set each day.  A reminder of Who is over everything…even a president.  Thank you, son.  I love you to the moon and back!

God leads us and I couldn’t be more thrilled.  And, similar to the new “crustless” pie that my Mom made this year – I want my will and His will to resemble its ingredients.  I want our wills to be mixed together in such a beautifully delicious combination that I can’t separate them even if I tried.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Special Guest

Photo Credit:  hamper at
If I could dine with anyone...well...besides the fam,
I would want to share a meal...with the Blessed Lamb.
The things I'd want to thank Him for, how would I even start?
Could I even speak the love that's found deep in my heart?

I wouldn't want a lunch food of any kind,
I'd want to share the thoughts inside...of all that's on my mind.
I'd hope the service would be slow...I'd want to drag it out,
Just for me and Jesus...that's what it'd be about.

First, I'd like to thank Him...for His life that He gave,
So our lives just wouldn't end with names upon a grave.
I'd thank Him...for opening the lock on Heaven's gate,
I'd stall for extra time...asking for another plate.

Very soon, He'd catch my little plan,
After all, He knows us...each woman and each man.
Then He'd say, "Relax, my child, I know your every thought,
I want to be here, too...just as you have sought."

My nerves would calm, He'd take my hand, "What would you like to say?"
"Lord, I thank you for the do for me each day.
Thank you for my legs that work when I get out of bed,
For my eyes that greet the day from my sleepyhead."

"For giving me a family that loves me through it all,
For answering my prayers, when Your Name I do call.
For our meals, for our home, each sunrise fresh and new,
For our friends, for our health, for freedom, Lord, to love You."

"For blessings in abundance and the chance for us to share,
With those who may not realize how You deeply care.
For giving us a recipe through Your Holy Word,
Of how to get to reach You and be heard."

"I can't believe You gave your life for sinners just like me,
But, I know You love us, Lord, more than we can see.
I thank You for the tiny taste found in a mother's love,
A day-to-day reminder that love is from above."

"Thank You for my Mom and Dad whose love is never ceasing,
For my precious husband, each year, my love's increasing.
For the gift of children...I feel so very blessed,
They bring me peace and joy...more than I could've guessed."

Then, I'd stop and say, "Oh my, how time has flown!
Would you like to talk?  I've been in my little zone."
"Yes, my child, please love like me...there is no other way,
Love your friends, your enemies, the least you meet each day."

"Show everyone a glimpse of what a life with Me can be,
One that's full of hope...and tranquility.
Share your time and talents...your abundant treasures, too,
You need me just as much, dear one, as I'm in need of you."

"You are my hands, you are my feet, you are my lips to speak,
Encourage all you meet each's Me they need to seek.
For hope when things seem hopeless, for love when they're alone,
For comfort when they're suffering, use kindness in your tone."

"Dear Lord, I know you're busy, I thank You for your time,
Please know this meal's on me, sir...won't let you pay a dime."
"Oh, my daughter, please recall that I have paid for this,
On the cross, remember...betrayed with a kiss."

Then, before I could respond, He was no longer there,
I looked high and I looked low, but couldn't find Him anywhere.
Then a voice in my head reminded me to pray,
A way that we can call on Him each and every day.

He is there, He's all around, He'll dine with us each day,
Just remember to invite Him on Thanksgiving when you pray.
"Bless this food, Lord, bless this house, while we work and rest,
We saved a seat...for You, Lord...please come and be our guest!"

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Just Call Dad

Photo Credit:  imelenchon at

The other day, I noticed that our freezer just wasn’t all that cold.  The popsicles were melting and the waffles were half-thawed.  The fridge/freezer is just something we take for granted around here…day in and day out it keeps our food at just the right temperature for us.  On any given day, I absolutely do NOT think about our fridge or freezer really…that is…until something is wrong with it.

So, after chatting with the hubby and trouble-shooting what we thought it could possibly be, we decided to call my dad.  We always call him for stuff like this.  We know that he’ll lead us in the right direction.  He just has a knack for small engine repair and anything that has a motor really.

The first thing he asked me to do was to check the small black coils in the front bottom of the fridge under that plastic panel thingy (my own highly technical terms).  Here’s the conversation:

“Okay, so I just popped off that black plastic piece you told me about,”  I said.
“Do you see the black coils?”  he asked.
“Nope.  No black coils.”  I responded.
“Are you sure?”  he inquired.
“Yep.  I’m sure,”  I answered.
“When was the last time you vacuumed under there?”  he asked.
“Um, let’s see – we bought it in 2005, so, um…never,”  I replied.
“Well, maybe the coils are hidden, you know, under the seven years worth of lint,” he jokingly suggested.
“Ooooohhhhh.  Oopsie,” I answered, “we’ll get right on that.”
“Vacuuming that lint is a great place to start,” he offered.  “It won’t run correctly if air can’t get through.”
“Of course.  Thanks, Dad.  Love you!”

So, there ya have it.  If anything, here is your gentle reminder to get that dust and lint off of those coils before you have a problem (the coils ARE there…I assure you).  And, for all of the regular Sips followers, you know I have something to tie this into, right?

The build-up of lint over the years was slowly sucking the life out of our refrigerator/freezer.  Sounds a lot like the build-up of anger and grudges and our unwillingness to forgive…it basically sucks the life out of us over time.  It suffocates us and prevents us from living a life of true peace and…fresh air.

Broken relationships.  Resentment.  Jealousy.  Envy.  Anger.  Forgiveness.  Love.  There are SO many things I can't wait to chat with Jesus about...

In the meantime, in chapter 5 of Matthew, I always find comfort.  (verses 6-12)  "Happy are those who long to be just and good, for they shall be completely satisfied.  Happy are the kind and merciful, for they shall be shown mercy.  Happy are those whose hearts are pure, for they shall see God.  Happy are those who strive for peace - they shall be called sons of God.  Happy are those who are persecuted because they are good, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.  When you are reviled and persecuted and lied about because you are my followers - wonderful!  Be happy about it!  Be very glad...for a tremendous reward awaits you in Heaven.  And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted, too."

Loving our enemies.  The.  hardest.  thing.  in.  the.  world.  to.  do.  It’s so much easier to just love the people who love us back, you know?

Here is someone’s response to a YouTube video about loving our enemies:  "Just because you start to love your enemies doesn't necessarily mean you have to build relationships with them.  You can actually love them from a distance instead.  Loving them doesn't mean that you have to listen to negativity from them either.  The best thing to do is to wish them no harm and pray for them.  Staying away might be best if they cause you to stumble."  This isn’t bad advice, especially if we have tried countless times to reach out to someone and make amends and they refuse our hand.  As they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.

But, there is another chapter in Matthew that also hits home:  (18:21-22)  Peter came to Jesus and asked, "Sir, how often should I forgive a brother who sins against me?  Seven times?  "NO!" replied Jesus, "seventy times seven!"

Seventy times seven times!  Really?  Ugh.  Forgiveness.  Jesus explains to us in black and white terms what we are to do.  No gray area.  Poo!

The great news is that love and forgiveness can build bridges.  Jesus NEVER said they would be easy bridges to build. Not once. Dang it!  But, if God is always at the center of our response, we can't fail.  If we let our human weaknesses creep in (anger, the I’m-right-you’re-wrong mentality, jealousy, etc.), that’s when we struggle and fail.

To keep the “lint” from building up, we need to take time to “clean house.”  To start the clean-up process, we need to pray.  We need to call upon our heavenly “Dad” for guidance, like where we should even start.  It can be overwhelming.   We need to work on forgiveness...every single day.  We neglected our fridge for seven years…WAY TOO long!!  See what happens?

I once heard this comparison:  Say someone really agitates us at our place of work…(it could happen…)  Sometimes, we harbor anger against them and let them get to us while we’re at work, while we drive home, and even when we get home.  When we just aren’t able to “let it go” and we keep the anger and hurt alive, it’s like we invite them into our home day after day to have dinner with our family.  Now, while this would be a great gesture, it would be even more wonderful if we had forgiven them before they joined us.  I mean, if we’re going to invite them (figuratively speaking, since they are always on our mind), the dinner would be much more pleasant if we had forgiven them first, right?

We can also ask for Mary's intervention - how did she POSSIBLY see her Son's persecutors and not want to go out there and show them no mercy!  Right?!  Now, there's a woman's footsteps to follow.  Mary can give us the peace and strength we need.  We should ask her…beg her…and let her in.

Once we work on removing the years of “lint,” breathing becomes a little easier.  We won’t have to struggle as much in our day-to-day activities if the “lint” isn’t so thick.  Lint just has a way of building up over time.  It can choke us.  It takes great effort just to function at times if too much lint is in our way. 

Get rid of the lint!  And, don’t forget to call “Dad” while you’re at it!  Our Heavenly Dad is just a phone call…um…prayer…away!  He’s extremely busy, BUT, He always answers.  Oh, and don't worry, He has caller ID!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Saints in Training

Photo Credit:  dmscs at
In addition to the ever-so-slight tinge of coolness in the air, the fall festivals, and the bountiful list of reasons to be thankful, the autumn season also brings the sneezes to our house.  Whatever blows in from another part of the country this time of year just doesn’t agree with the fam.  So, last week, we were all sniffin’ and snortin’ to the tune of antihistamines and cough suppressants.

However, I’m feeling blessed that this week is already humming a new melody.  But, on my most blah day last week, I desperately needed to go to the grocery store.  I had NOTHING in the house.  Nothing.  When my mom says she has nothing, she can still make seven delicious square meals.  When I say I have nothing, my pantry actually echoes.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I am so glad that we can go to the store and buy the food we need, but I absolutely did NOT want to go.

It was a labor of love.  My family needed me to go.  My children needed options for their lunchbox.  My “breakfast for supper” gig was no longer working.  The cereal had run out of fun, if you will.  Our dog basically opened the car door and pushed me in (hee hee).  “Okay, Okay…I’ll go…I’LL GO!”

However, I felt like a slug while I was there, slowly creeping around the store.  I tried to muster up a smile as I walked down the aisles.  Certainly other folks I encountered that day had more to worry about than allergies.  I am sympathetic to the fact that someone else always has it worse on any given day. 

But, my ears were stopped up and I couldn’t hear a thing.  My head was stuffy and I couldn’t breathe out of my nose at all.  I was feeling sorry for myself.  Then, out of nowhere, a sweet lady came up to me and said, “Your hair looks so cute like that.”  And, as I tried to remember even fixing my hair, another kind soul told me that she really liked how I applied my make-up.  Surely, I didn’t hear her right – my clogged ears must have failed me.  But, she repeated, “I just thought your make-up looked nice and so why not just say it!”

Huh!  On a day when I felt slightly pathetic, I got two of the most genuine compliments I’ve ever gotten at the grocery store.  Through a couple of dear women, I was reminded of how beautiful we all are to God (even our cruddy allergy selves).  He looks at us and says, “I choose you.  I love you.  You are beautiful.”

Last week, we also celebrated All Saints Day.  My children always enjoy that day because our priest does something special during Mass.  When we give each other the sign of peace, he encourages us to insert our neighbor’s name after the word Saint.  So, my son shook my hand and giggled, “Peace be with you…Saint Mom.”  Of course, the whole congregation chuckled a little while doing this activity because we know how FAR we have to go to really become a saint.  Or…IS it completely out of the question for us?

Well, our priest, Father Gabriel, says that saints were just like us…ordinary people.  They just did two things very well – they trusted in God and they were always eager to do His Will.  So…saints were ordinary people with an extraordinary love for God.  Could it be that the two ladies in the grocery store were just saints in training?  They did give me a glimpse of Christ’s love for me.  It’s possible.  Hmmm…..

I don’t know about you, but I know I ask God for a lot of things.  I complain to Him at times and I do a good deal of thanking Him.  But, how much time do I spend actually LOVING Him? 

Janel Esker reminded me of something in her reflection this week:  “Loving God is different than loving a person you can actually see, touch, and hear – yet it’s so fundamental to the spiritual life.  Maybe, like couples who’ve been married a long time, we just assume God knows we love him.  But even long-married couples renew their marriage vows and fall in love all over again.  God is always reaching out in love to us and Jesus challenges us today to recommit ourselves to God.  Can we continue to fall in love with God?”

Francis Chan also has a great way with words as he describes how crazy our love can be for another person: 

“When you are truly in love, you go to great lengths to be with the one you love.  You’ll drive for hours to be together, even if it’s only for a short while.  You don’t mind staying up late to talk.  Walking in the rain is romantic, not annoying.  You’ll willingly spend a small fortune on the one you’re crazy about.  When you are apart from each other, it’s painful, even miserable.  He or she is all you think about; you jump at any chance to be together.”

Are we in love with God like this?  Surely we can all relate to what Chan is describing.  Our love for God could look like this if we just let Him in.

“Come near to God and He will come near to you.” (James 4:8)  Don’t we all crave love?  Who doesn’t love “love?”  It gives God glory when we want to love Him – when we desire Him in our lives.  The Saints “get it.”  I want to understand it, too. 

Matthew West sings a beautiful love songa love song from God to us.  It reminds me of when the kids tell me they love me and I say, “I love you more.”  God feels the same.  He loves us more than we can imagine…more than we can fathom.

But, what if we are going through a time when we can’t even seem to find God, much less love Him like He deserves to be loved?  I think we might be inspired on just where to look by watching the movie (or possibly even the trailer…), “Letters to God.”  We recently showed it to our sixth grade CCD class and hearts were touched…especially mine.  Inspired by a true story, this ten-year-old boy just might uncover a way to find God…to love God…through letters.

I’ll leave you with this to ponder:  If saints were ordinary people with an extraordinary love, then what a different world it could be if we all lived like we were “Saints in Training.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Photo Credit:  giggs at
Sips Of Sunshine is truly a SOS this week.  I tried to think of so many stories to share and my mind kept going back to this one crucial call for help – this one Morse code distress signal – this one plea that needs each and every one of us to vote in this Presidential election of 2012.

I voted today.  My husband voted today.  Have you voted yet?  If you haven’t voted in years, make this be the year you do.  If you don’t think your vote will matter, it will.

I got an amazing e-mail a few weeks ago about the power of prayer…united prayer.   Prayer can overcome any obstacle.  With God, ALL things are possible – not just the little things, but ALL things.  ALL.

A few of the prayer requests that stand out in my mind are these:

Dear Lord, we beg for repentance for ourselves and for our nation.  We seek Your face.  Please hear us from Heaven and heal our land.  We pray for this election and that You deliver us from the wrong leaders.  We pray that our nation will listen to the truth and not be led astray.  Lord, our trust in You will not be shaken.

We pray that our country will keep You at the forefront of their minds as they cast their vote.  Lord, put Your hands on the man of Your choice for President and guide his team.  We pray that Your man and our nation will be discerning and do what is right.

Lord, please guide Your choice for President during this campaign.  We pray that Your man will listen, add to his knowledge, and receive wise counsel during this election.  We humbly ask that, with Your help, the man of Your choice be given wisdom and the ability to overcome any obstacle or difficulty.

Lord, please give Your choice for President a special inner strength to sustain him and give him victory.  We pray that Your man will – through faith – persevere, and maintain his courage.  And, Lord, empower this man in any area of weakness.

Lord, we know You can amaze us.  We’ve seen the world around us.  We know what You can do.  Amaze us, Lord, and give Your servant victory.

In your Name, we pray.  Amen.

Let’s not sit back and watch things happen.  Let’s make things happen.  It starts with prayer.  It starts with one person.  It starts with one vote.

Can only one little “yes” make a difference?  Can one “yes” for life matter?  Can one “yes” for family count?  Can one “yes” for faith in our country, marriage, and our God be important?  Can one “yes” have a bearing on everything as we know it?

My mind immediately goes back to the simple “yes” of Jesus’ mother, Mary.  So, absolutely…one “yes” can change everything. 

Get out there and vote!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Run Home

Photo Credit:  Irish_Eyes at
A couple of weeks ago, we had a little “incident” with our 3-month-old puppy, Belle.  Thinking that the third time would be the charm, the kids and I attempted to take her for a walk on a leash for just a quick jaunt down our road.

Our Belle loves her freedom, so the leash thing isn’t really her style at this point.  She hops up and down like a circus dog while it’s on.  Just.  keep.  trying.  Anyway, she actually calmed down enough to enjoy the short walk, while exploring every hole, somersaulting leaf, and random bug along the way.

The “incident” occurred toward the end of our walk when we stopped to talk to our neighbors.  My son was talking to our neighbor in her front yard, while holding Belle’s leash.  The girls and I headed to her house to sell a few Fall Fest raffle tickets to her husband.

We knocked on the door and waited.  Their dog was in the house, but slipped out onto the front porch when the door opened.  Being a good guard dog, he was barking and pacing and I gathered that he was not terribly okay with our close proximity to their house. 

Then, the dog became as still as a statue and fixed his eyes upon Belle.  There was an immediate lump in my throat – for one, because my son was in the direction of his stare and secondly, because I had no idea what was going to happen next to our puppy.

In two seconds or less, their dog jumped across the yard and pounced on Belle.  I froze where I stood and screamed to no one in particular.  I could only see the two dogs tumbling around, my son standing there crying, and my poor neighbor trying to help Belle.  But, as fast as lightning, Belle got away and bolted toward our house, literally flying over the cattle guard in one leap and whimpering the whole way home.

I grabbed the girls and we flew home just as fast to see how my son and Belle were doing.  I don’t remember running home, I just remember that I had my eyes set on…home.  I couldn’t get there fast enough.

Fortunately, Belle and my son were fine – a little shook-up, but completely fine.  My son was upset because he felt so helpless during the brawl.  I assured him that all would be well and that we would keep Belle close to home for awhile.

In a very similar way, I felt helpless last week myself.  My mom called me on Thursday and said that she would need an emergency appendectomy.  At the time, she had been told that there was a possibility that it had ruptured.  The word, “emergency” is scary to me.  I don’t like emergencies.  I don’t deal well with emergencies.  I have a hard time gaining my composure in that “emergency” moment to really let go and let God.  My heart wants to, but my body won’t seem to let me as easily.

But, throughout that day, as my mom filled out paperwork, got test results back, and prepared to have surgery, I prayed and I asked my family and friends to pray for her too.  The day was sprinkled with different “moments” – highs and lows.  During the moments that I was truly able to hand it over to God, I was at peace – true peace.  But, during the moments that I started to “what if? think” and try to take control of the situation myself…I cried and crumbled.

I don’t like to see my loved ones in a hospital bed getting ready for surgery – who does?  There is such a helplessness there.  We kiss them and tell them we love them and then we have to let them go for awhile.  They are not in our hands.  Physically, they are in the surgeon’s hands.  Spiritually, they are in God’s hands…like they ALWAYS are.

It reminds me of something very important.  God is, in fact, always there.  He isn’t the one who moves.  We do.

I’m blessed to say that my mom’s surgery went very well and I have said many prayers of thanksgiving for that!  Her appendix had not ruptured as they thought and that made a big difference in the outcome, I think.  I’m sure that God touched her in a special way that day.

Nonetheless, I have thought much about the Belle incident and my mom’s recent surgery.  Belle knew exactly where to run.  She ran home.  Technically, she flew there.  But, she knew she’d find comfort at home.  She knew she’d find love there.  And, similarly, I was most at peace when I chose to run “home” as well during my mom’s hospital stay…home to the only One who could give me comfort at an uncertain time…home to the only One who could understand and calm my fears…home to the only One who knew what I needed before I even asked.

And, who exactly is it that we run home to?  Into what type of arms do we fly?  What kind of king welcomes us at the door?  Here is a short reflection by Ernest Ohlhoff describing who it is that we run home to:

There is no limit to what we can accomplish when we don't care who gets the credit.

Jesus Christ's life on earth exemplifies a total submission to the will of the Father. His humility, compassion, gentleness and thoughtfulness are reflected over and over again in the New Testament. He was God incarnate, yet He chose to be born to a humble, working class home.

How absurd it must have seemed to the rich and powerful that the Son of God, the Messiah, the one foretold by the prophets, the 'King of the Jews' was born and raised as a simple peasant.

During His thirty-three years on earth, He sought no riches, claimed no secular power and gathered no possessions. Yet, His short time on earth changed more lives, softened more hearts, and gave hope to more people, than all the rich and powerful human 'kings' combined.

And, at the end of His life on earth, by dying on the cross, He opened the door to eternal life for those who heed his words and follow in his footsteps.”

Let’s not forget to run home…His door is always open.  When I feel helpless, vulnerable or alone, I have to remind myself that He isn’t the one who moved.  I’m the one who moved… away from “home.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Take My Hand

Photo Credit:  lightfoot at
(A Pro-Life Poem for Down Syndrome Awareness Month)

Take my hand and not my life – please Mommy let me live,
The extra chromosome inside means I have more to give.
I know you’re scared about the news, but please let me explain,
Don’t think of what you might be losing – think of what you’ll gain.

A loving child with almond eyes – a deep crease in my palm,
In that crazy world out there – I will be your calm.
I might be small and flexible – a tiny nose and ears,
We’re more alike than different, you’ll learn throughout the years.

Sometimes things won’t work quite right, but please give me a chance,
I’ll need some extra time for sure, but soon I’ll sing and dance.
I might have trouble talking too; just ask me to repeat,
I’ll steal your heart, Mommy and Dad, the moment that we meet.

I’ll need a little longer, to learn to read and write,
Just show me how to draw and count, you’ll see I’m very bright.
If you teach me early on, my IQ will just soar,
You’ll tell me that you love me so – I’ll say, “I love you MORE!”

I’ll go to school and work real hard to make you very proud,
I’ll teach you how to truly love because I’ll love out loud.
No scientist can tell you why...I was made this way,
But Mommy, please be certain, God hand-picked you on that day.

He chose you, Mom and Daddy, because He knew you’d be,
The ones who’d be just right – for the special gift of me.
So, when I’m born, please take my hand – gentle is my soul,
God sent me down to teach you trust – that IS my very goal.

My joy will be contagious – my heart, an open door,
I’ll show you what life’s all about – I’ll leave you wanting more.
More of what God offers – that God IS love Himself,
Not to sweat the small stuff – leave those worries on the shelf.

So, Mom and Daddy, take my hand – I will be your light,
I won’t withhold an ounce of love – I’ll love with all my might.
You won’t be rush through…this life, while by my side,
You’ll have to slow it down a notch, since I will be your guide.

I’m not perfect, Mom and Dad, and really no one is,
The one thing that I DO know…is only that we’re His.
It won’t be long now, Mom and Dad – my birthday’s coming soon,
I’ll be twenty weeks – please bring me a balloon.

Accept my own uniqueness; respect what I can do,
Patience is the key to see…I’m special just like you.
My journey might look different – just work with me each day,
I’ll bring so much…to your life…WORDS just cannot say.

On my eleventh birthday, I want to bake my cake,
And, Daddy, let’s go fishing.  God showed me a GREAT lake!
He actually showed me many things before He sent me down,
Mostly, Mom, He taught me…that love is NOT a noun.’s a verb…a mighty action word, it surely is,
I’ll give you just a tiny glimpse...of the love that’s His.
You’ll see Christ in all I do and all I say each day,
You might pay more attention to the little things – you may.

Please hold me close when I am born – I really am a gem,
My talents might be hidden – you can help me find them.
Why IS Down Syndrome set aside for just a numbered few?
Cause God...He chooses wisely – not just anyone will do.

So, take my hand and not my life – please Mommy let me live,
The extra chromosome inside means I have more to give.
I’m glad you’re not as scared now, Mom, cause no one is to blame,
By choosing life, you saved an angel – one you get to name.