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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Good Sight

Photo Credit:  jmiltenburg from
I have a great story that I want to share from Mikey’s Funnies:

Do you know the legend of the American Indian youth's rite of passage?  A father takes his son into the forest, blindfolds him, and leaves him alone.  The boy is required to sit on a stump the whole night and not remove the blindfold until the rays of the morning sun shine through it.  He cannot cry out for help to anyone.

Once he survives the night, he is a MAN.  He cannot tell the other boys of this experience, because each lad must come into manhood on his own.

Here is one boy’s experience of that night:  He is naturally terrified.  He can hear all kinds of noises.  He feels that wild beasts must surely be all around him.  He’s afraid that some human might even do him harm.  The wind blows the trees, grass, and earth and shakes his stump, but he sits stoically, never removing the blindfold.  It is the only way he can become a man.

Finally, after a horrific night in the forest, the sun appears and he removes his blindfold.  It is then that he discovers his father sitting on the stump next to him.  He had been at watch the entire night, protecting him from harm.

"Don't be afraid, for I am with you; don't be distressed, for I am your God.  I give you strength; I give you help.  I support you with my victorious right hand." (Isaiah 41:10)

Oh, how that legend really hit home with me!  The father was there the whole time, keeping constant watch over his precious child.  Every single teeny, tiny, itty, bitty second…he was there.

Goodness, doesn’t that sound strangely familiar?!  Our Father is beside us the whole time, keeping constant watch over us, His precious children.  However, don’t we many times close our eyes and not realize that He’s there?

This Thanksgiving, I think I will pray for the gift of good sight…er, God-sight.  I will continue to ask God to help me see Him in other people, the hills and valleys of this life, the sufferings and the joys, the ordinary days and extraordinary days, and every drop of rain and each rainbow in between.  He’s there.

I was also reminded of God’s great love in the voice of a little girl.  I was sharing some trail mix with my daughter’s friend and she said, “Oh, I just love the M&M’s, don’t you?  I pick through all that other stuff just to find them.” 

Yes.  Yes, I do.  I love the M&M’s too.  Let us remember to sort through the things we may not love about our day and find the sweet blessings in the mix.

As I smile today remembering that sharing, I ask the Lord to bestow on all of us a child-like faith this Thanksgiving.  In Matthew 19:14, Jesus says, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these."

Please join me in praising and thanking God for the many marvelous things He has done for us!  Let us also pray that we allow others to catch a glimpse of Christ in everything we do and say each day.  What a beautiful world this can be if we remember to make ourselves available to the Lord, so that He can use our very lives as instruments to bring others to know and love Him!

Who do we hope will catch a glimpse of Christ through us?  Everyone really…friends, strangers, neighbors, family, our spouse, and our children down the hall.

For you moms out there, I found some tidbits of awesomeness that I just had to share from Kelley’s blog.  She writes, “Be the mom you want them to remember.  The mom I want my children to remember is humble and willing to admit that she’s not a perfect mom.  I want them to remember that she’s depending on God to help her to be the mom they need.”  (Oooh – I just LOVE that!)

Kelley says, “I want my children to remember a gentle mom who gives grace when she can and discipline when necessary.  I want them to remember me pushing them to do their best and knowing that I’ll be there loving them regardless.  I want them to remember that I am a work in progress, just like they are, and that we can be a team – pushing each other toward the people God wants us to be.”

Kelley shares, “It’s okay to fail because kids need to know their parents aren’t perfect either.  You don’t want to be remembered as the perfect mom, but instead the mom that was demonstrating humility, love, grace, truth, gentleness, patience, and repentance.  Let them remember the real you.”  (Good stuff, Kelley!)

So, as we celebrate Thanksgiving, let us pray for good, God-sight!  May we truly “see” God in the people and happenings around us.  And, let us pray for the grace to be the mom (or dad) that we want our children to remember.

May you and your families feel abundantly blessed this Thanksgiving and all the days in between.  And, here are two of my Thanksgiving poems if you missed them the first time around:  “A Special Guest” and “Three-Sixty-Four.”

Have a wonderful, thankful week, Sunshines!  Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Pilot

Photo Credit:  DMedina from
I read something from Mikey’s Funnies the other day that gave me a little chuckle.  It was so relatable and I just felt the need to pass it on to my precious Sunshines:

A lady, who was speeding, was pulled over to the side of the road by an officer.

She didn't have her seat belt on, so as soon as she stopped, she quickly slipped it on before the officer got to her window.

After talking to her about speeding, the officer said, "I see you are wearing your seat belt.  Do you believe in wearing it at all times?"

"Oh, yes I do, officer," she quickly replied.

"Well," asked the officer, "do you always loop it through your steering wheel?"

If you catch yourself laughing a tad too hard at this…maybe this WAS you?!  Oopsie - hee hee!

Speaking of steering wheels, I heard a great story in a sermon at church last weekend.  It served as a wonderful, much needed reminder for me.  It went something like this:

A pastor was taking a trip on a plane.  Everything was going smoothly until the pilot made an announcement, “Passengers, please fasten your seatbelts.  There is a storm up ahead and we might experience some turbulence.  Please don’t worry.  We’ll be out of the storm soon.”

The pastor noticed the passengers were getting a little fidgety.  And, once the turbulence began, most of the passengers were very uneasy.  That is, all of them, except for one little girl who was completely content and peaceful during all of this.  She never looked up and calmly continued to color in her coloring book.  The pastor even saw her smiling, as if absolutely nothing was going on around her.

As the plane shook a little harder, the pilot’s voice could be heard again, “Passengers, please don’t be afraid.  Everything will be okay.  We should be out of this storm in about three minutes.”  The passengers were restless in their seats and had death-grips on their handles.  All of them, except for the little girl, who continued to color…worry-free.

When the plane finally landed safely and all of the passengers were departing, the pastor walked by the seat where the little girl was sitting.  He just had to know how she remained so calm in the storm.  The pastor leaned down and asked her, “How is it that during the storm, you never looked worried or nervous?  You never squirmed in your seat.  Not even once!  I just have to know your secret.”

The little girl looked up from her coloring book and sweetly whispered to the pastor, “My father is the pilot.”  The pastor smiled at the little girl and continued to exit the plane.

Oh, how that story just resonated with me.  The little girl remained so calm in the storm because she knew her father would take care of her.  He said he would…and he did.

Is it possible for us to remain calm in the storms of this life?  I think it is possible.  But…only if we have the faith that our Father in Heaven will take care of our every need…great and small.

Countless times in the Bible, the Lord asks us to fear not.  He says, “Be not afraid” at least a bazillion times.  Well, if not a bazillion, it’s pretty darn close to that.

We were reminded in Sunday’s sermon that fear is not from God.  It’s from Satan.  The devil loves it when we’re scared.  He loves to see us afraid.  “For God has not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

It really pushed my buttons to think that Satan actually reveled in and took great pleasure in seeing us miserable when we’re overcome with fear.  Grrrr.  It made me even more determined to fight fear…in all aspects of life.  It makes me want to put out my hand and say, “Scary thoughts…go away…you are NOT welcomed here!”  For the heck of it, you can even shake your pointer finger back and forth and say No, No, NO…mmmm, MMMM, mmmm, mmmm, MMMM, mmmm, MMMM!!

Wouldn’t it be so nice to have the serenity of that little girl who sat calmly while everything around her was in turmoil?  Wouldn’t it be great to have that sort of inner peace so that nothing can make us come unraveled?  Wouldn’t it be lovely to weather the storms with such complete trust?  Wouldn’t it be just wonderful?

Actually, I believe it’s very attainable.  Yep, I do.  However, we have a choice.  We get to decide if we will accept and welcome that type of peace into our lives.  It’s a gift there for the taking and it’s free.  It’s called faith.

I updated my facebook cover photo with this caption, “Faith is not believing that God can.  It’s knowing that He will.”

Ooohhh…don’t you just love that?!  I do too.  God surely doesn’t force us to have faith.  He lets us choose it.  When we have faith, it gives God an open door through which He can enter in and pour His blessings upon us.  Even if we open the door just a teeny tiny crack – hee hee!

I thought these sayings about faith were worth a share:
  1. As your faith is strengthened, you will find that there is no longer the need to have a sense of control.  Things will flow as they will and you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit. (Emmanuel Teney)
  2. Courage is fear that has said its prayers. (Dorothy Bernard)
  3. Faith enables persons to be persons because it lets God be God. (Carter Lindberg)
  4. Faith is the bird who sings while it is still dark.

I guess I have to ask myself these questions, “Who is my pilot?  Who is in charge?  Who is my calm in the storm?”  The answer is God.  But, so many times, I think I try to inch my way into the pilot’s seat and tackle the journey on my own.  Who in their right mind would want to fly a plane without one iota of experience on how to fly it?  What AM I thinking?!  Lord, help me to remember to scootch my way right back out of that pilot’s seat!

On days when I doubt and fear, I know those are the days that I’m not placing my trust in the RIGHT pilot!  When He says, “Please don’t worry.  We’ll be out of the storm soon,” I need to remember to trust in His desire to love me and take care of me. 

As Father Bentil reminded us at Mass this morning, “Take courage; it is I.  Do not be afraid.”  (Matthew 14:27)

I’ll leave you with a question to ponder…“Who is your pilot?”

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!  We CAN do this!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


Photo Credit:  Prawny from
I’ve been humbled and amazed by the amount of prayer support being lifted up for my precious goddaughter, Sydney, and her family.  I can’t say that I’ve ever witnessed the magnitude and generosity of prayer being offered like this before.  I mean, people are praying for this child all over the world…literally.  And, I am approached by folks daily who let me know they are praying.

I get hourly e-mails and facebook messages stating that someone somewhere is praying for Sydney.  It makes my heart smile and brings me unexplainable joy.  Numerous people have shared with me that their life has been greatly affected by the opportunity to “walk with” Sydney and her family on this journey.  Hearts are changing.  Lives are changing.

I even think that people who didn’t pray before are praying now.  My heart swells with awe at the thought.  It just so happens that our Bible study last week focused on prayer and I have some great tidbits of info. that I’d like to share with you.

What is prayer anyway?  Matthew Kelly explains that, “To pray is to talk to God about anything that is in your heart:  the things that bring you joy and the things that bring you sorrow; the successes you experience and the failures you encounter; your strengths and talents; your faults and weaknesses; your hopes and dreams.  In prayer, you talk to God about everything.”

I like this from Matthew Kelly too – “Prayer helps us discover who we are and what we are here for.  Developing a dynamic prayer life requires perseverance more than anything else.  Just keep showing up.  Some days you will feel like praying and many days, you will not.  But, if you keep showing up, you will develop a phenomenal friendship with God.”

Soren Kierkegaard wrote, “Praying does not mean listening to yourself speak; praying means calming down and being still and waiting until you hear God.”  I’ll tell you what…the most beautifully intimate times I have had in prayer have been in a quiet church where there is no one else there but me and God.  I’m still and I’m listening.  (Both of those events can be a rarity for me at times!  ha ha!  Hey…don’t laugh.)

Throughout the last few weeks on Sydney’s facebook prayer page, I have often mentioned that we should pray unceasingly.  Unceasingly?  Doesn’t that mean constantly…continuously…24/7?  Well, if you are God, 24/7 prayer is possible.  However, if you are like me, you wonder how in the world can I truly pray unceasingly?  The desire is there…I just needed some direction on how to do it.

Well, in our Bible study, there just so happened to be a great reflection on the verse - 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “Pray without ceasing.”  We are encouraged to transform every moment of our day into a prayer.  How can we do that?  We can offer our inconveniences and sufferings as well as our joys and happiness during the day as a prayer.   Our day-to-day realities can become a prayer.

I think in order to offer the day as a prayer, we might start with a quick and easy morning prayer.  I wanted something that rhymed, of course, so it would be simple for me to remember.  So, this is what I wrote…“Dear Lord – I offer you this day, in all I think and say.  In everything I do, I offer it to you.  Amen.”

Honestly, it keeps me on track.  If I want to make my whole day a prayer, then I need to stay on the right path.  I don’t want to offer Him my leftovers or the second-rate-version of myself.  This morning prayer keeps me in check when I start off the day this way.

I love that everyone prays so differently.  I love that prayers can be as unique as the person offering them.  I enjoy traditional prayers as well as those that spring up from the depths of our soul with the words leaving our mouths as inspirational, heartfelt beauty.

The prayer process can vary so greatly.  However, for those of us who get stuck on where to even begin sometimes, here’s a nice little guideline from Matthew Kelly:

  1. GRATITUDE:  We can start with thanking the Lord for those things that we are most grateful for that day.
  2. AWARENESS:  We can think about the last 24 hours and recall times when we weren’t the-best-version-of-ourselves.  We can chat with God about what we might have learned from those times.
  3. SIGNIFICANT MOMENTS:  We can reflect on whether or not God was trying to talk to us through someone or something that happened that day.
  4. PEACE:  We can ask God for forgiveness and to fill us with His peace.
  5. FREEDOM:  We can reflect on ways that God might be inviting us to change our lives in order to have the freedom to be the-best-version-of-ourselves.
  6. OTHERS:  We can lift up all of those who we feel called to pray for.
  7. OUR FATHER:  We can end the prayer process with the Lord’s Prayer.

Personally, I think of Jesus as my friend.  I chat with Him all day long.  Oh, and sometimes I think….”Poor Jesus – He has to listen to me ramble on and on with senseless worries and fears and what-ifs.  Poor Jesus – He is so patient with me…why do I keep forgetting to trust Him and be not afraid?  Poor Jesus – He doesn’t get a word in edge-wise with me!  Poor Jesus – Why don’t I just listen to Him the first time?  Poor Jesus…

The GREAT news is that “Poor Jesus” loves me anyway.  Isn’t that awesomeness?  He loves our perfectly imperfect selves anyway and I am SO very glad.

Pastor Andy Schroer had a wonderful story in his blog recently.  It was called, “The Chair,” and I think it beautifully describes how I see Jesus.  Here’s a modified excerpt: 

A new pastor went to visit an elderly man from his church.  When the pastor arrived at the man’s home, he saw him lying on a bed.  Next to his bed was a simple chair facing the bed.

The old man offered an exuberant, “Hello!”  The young pastor replied with a smile, “Hello!  I see you’re expecting me.”  “No, who are you?” the elderly man replied.  “Well, I’m your new pastor.  I saw the chair there next to the bed and I just assumed that you were expecting me.”

“Oh, the chair,” the elderly man responded.  “Please sit down, pastor,” the man continued.  “For years I didn’t really understand what prayer was.  I would go to church and we would pray.  I would say 'grace' at mealtimes.  But I really didn’t understand what prayer was until a buddy of mine told me, ‘You know what you need to do, John?  Put a chair in front of you and imagine Jesus sitting there.  Remember He is there even though we can’t see Him.  Then just talk to Jesus like you’re talking to me right now.  That’s what prayer is.’"

About two weeks later, the pastor received a phone call.  It was the old man’s daughter and she was in tears.  Her father had just passed away.  “But something strange happened, pastor,” the young woman added.  “It seems that in the moments right before he died, my father got up from his bed, sat on the floor, and laid his head on the chair next to his bed.”

Oh how I LOVE this story and I’m so glad that Pastor Andy shared it!  No better place than in Jesus’ loving embrace! 

I am thankful to all the prayer warriors out there who have frequent heart-to-hearts with Jesus.  I especially want to thank you for your unceasing prayer for Sydney’s healing.  May God bless you in turn for the way you have blessed all of us. 

I also pray for and thank God for our veterans on this Veterans Day!  Here’s my Veterans Day poem called, “A Military Heart,” in case you missed it last year.

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Sydney Strong

Photo Credit:  JonLuty from
What does it mean to be Sydney Strong?
Just listen closely.  This won’t take long.
It’s carrying a cross with faith and grace,
Praying through suffering that you face.
Where courage is seen in all that you do,
For letting us trek the journey with you.
It’s not whining and fretting, “Oh, Lord, why me?”
It’s having eyes of the brave for all to see.
It’s walking by faith – His will we trust,
Relying on God, with hope, we must.
Being sure that God will fight for you,
Growing us in ways that we never knew.
Bringing families to fold their hands in prayer,
Allowing others to show how much they care.
Knowing God’s palm is way big enough,
For days of this life, impossibly rough.
Faith doesn’t make life a piece of cake,
It makes it possible, so we won’t break.
It’s not believing He can, but knowing He will,
Listening for His voice and just being still.
It fills us with hope – the Spirit’s power,
Causing people worldwide to pray by the hour.
Sydney Strong affects those we’ve never met,
And God’s master quilt isn’t done quite yet.
Can one person bring prayer to thousands of people?
Bring a number of them to a church with a steeple?
The answer is yes; I’ve seen it and felt it,
Humbled and awestruck; my heart, it does melt it.
Generosity I’ve witnessed steals words away,
Sydney Strong is something that’s here to stay.
We love you, dear Sydney, we’re all here for you,
Thanks for the reminder that God is the glue.
Thank you for smiling on days so hard,
For counting on angels to light and to guard.
For getting us out of our own little box,
Not building on sand, but only on rocks.
To overcome all with deep, fervent prayer,
Life, without faith, is too much to bear.
We promise to strive for Sydney Strong,
God’s mighty arms is where we belong.
God bless you, Precious, fight with your might,
Sydney Strong, my child, is a beautiful sight!