Sunday, December 31, 2017

Writing the Next Chapter of Life

Happy New Year 2018!
Everyone desires that a new year will be better than the last--that wishes will come true, dreams will be achieved, and hopes will become a reality. And why shouldn't we feel that way about the year ahead of us? A fresh start as the old year closes and the new year begins gives us a reason to try. It's good to have goals because if we aren't shooting for anything, our life will be rather stagnant.

Where do we see ourselves at the end of 2018? Did we miss a lot of opportunities during the course of 2017? What can we do to make the most of every moment of each day that God gives us? These are some questions that make food for thought. Instead of wasting the night away with late parties, we should be grateful for the blessings of the previous year and think about what we want to do with the prospects of the new year.

I'm a writer so the way I look at New Year's is a whole year unwritten with lots and lots of blank pages. Each day is a page in the next chapter of our life, and God is the author of our story. Don't be a pen that runs out of ink! Be a pen that writes your life perseveringly, honestly, happily--filling the pages with triumphs in difficulties, endurance in suffering, charity toward all, and joy in family and friends. "Life is what you make it" is not such an untruth. God is in control, but He asks for our cooperation in His plan for our life as fulfilling His will is all that matters. 

St. Teresa of Avila says: "Remember that you have only one soul; that you have only one death to die; that you have only one life, which is short and has to be lived by you alone; and there is only one Glory, which is eternal. If you do this, there will be many things about which you care nothing."

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Christmas All the Year

No doubt many a family reads or watches A Christmas Carol this time of year. It is one of my very favorite stories. There is a reason why some characters become iconic or plots become classic. Some just manage to hit home more than others because they touch your heart and make you see life differently. 

I especially love the quote: "I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year." Christmas all the year. Christmas is not simply a day, but a season, and not just a season, but a spirit that we should carry all year. I think it's so sad when we have to take Christmas decorations down . . . maybe because we think the joy and peace goes with them. Sometimes I'd like to think we should keep up a small tree with lights just to remind us that the spirit of Christmas should live in our hearts all year long.

Christmas has to be my very favorite holiday. Externals like Christmas trees and cookies help make things feel festive for sure, but the special graces that come to our souls from the celebration of Christ's Birth are the moments to be treasured. Our Lord wants to bring us that joy and peace every day. He is present in the smiles in our families, the laughter in our friends, the peace in our hearts. 

To keep Christmas all the year means to love the Infant Jesus in every moment and in loving Him, sharing that gift with others. For when we look hard enough, we may find that the Christmas spirit can be found all year, if only we let it reign in our lives. Merry Christmas!!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Tapestry of My Life

Tapestry of My Life

"I wonder what the other side will be, when I have finished weaving all my thread. I do not know the pattern nor the end of this great piece of work which is for me. I only know that I must weave with care the colors that are given me day by day, and make of them a fabric firm and true, which will be of service for my fellow man."

"Sometimes these colors are so dark and grey I doubt if there will be one line or trace of beauty there. But all at once there comes a thread of gold or rose so deep that there will always be that one bright spot to cherish or to keep and maybe against its strand of darkest hue it will be beautiful."

"The way is held in place by the Master's hand. The Master's mind made the design for me; if I but weave the shuttle to and fro and blend the colors just the best I know, perhaps when it is finished, He will say, Tis good, and lay it on the footstool of His feet."

My grandmother made this plaque many years ago, and I always liked reading this little poem. It speaks for remind us that God is present in every moment of our lives, whether we feel we are weaving dark or bright strands of by day....just the best we know.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Christmas Cheer for the NICU

Looking for a great way to spread some Christmas cheer? Apple Mill Bakery is sponsoring a cookie drive! If you've never heard of the NICU, it's the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, where premie babies have to spend a few weeks to a few months post-delivery, depending on the complications they may experience. 

My godson was a premie baby and I visited him several times during his stay in the NICU before coming home. It was a very moving experience to see such tiny infants fighting for survival (sometimes they're only 1 or 2 pounds!). They are connected to lots of tubes and sleep in an "incubator" with little human contact because they are so susceptible to germs. You have to "scrub up" sometimes to go inside the unit, and if you are allowed to hold the baby it is usually for a short time.

One of the hardest things to witness is how much the families go through whose child or sibling is in the NICU. The parents have to worry every day if their child will be able to come home with them. The baby can be in the hospital a long time, and they have to make daily visits to the NICU in order to be with their newborn. Worst of all, sometimes the baby doesn't make it. 

But YOU can help make their Christmas a little merrier! Visit and click on the listing for Christmas Cookie Drive for Children. Order a can of cookies and they will be given to a family with your name on it! What a special way to comfort parents and siblings of a little baby in the NICU.

Place your order now before Friday December 15th! The children will thank you.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Accepting Our Limitations

1st Sunday of Advent
Do you ever watch a superhero movie and think, gee that doesn't look so hard I could totally do that? . . . said no one ever. Some of us may be heroes in our own right like our servicemen and first responders, but we are all human. Being human means we will have limitations; we are not God, although some people think they can be. 

The Advent season reminds us of our human frailty and our need for a Redeemer. Our weaknesses do not serve as an excuse not to strive for sanctity and virtue, but they do remind us that sometimes there are goals we might not reach and achievements we may never accomplish. That should not make us sad, but joyful that we need to rely on God, and not only that we need to but God wants us to.

Our preparation for Christmas should not simply be decorations and food making. It is a spiritual preparation that requires a greater effort to receive the Sacraments, practice virtue, deepen our prayer life, and increase our works of charity. The reason for this is we are preparing for the solemn feast of the Incarnation, which surely must be the most profound mystery of our Faith that God would become man for our salvation.

Those moments when we most feel our weaknesses, we should look at the Infant in the stable. He understands the frailty of our nature and wants us to take comfort in Him. He doesn't ask for great deeds, but great love. St. John of the Cross said, "In the evening of life, we will be judged on love alone." By this he means love based on sacrifice, giving, and self-forgetfulness.

Let us make this Advent our best yet, by taking one day at a time and adding a little charity to those around us. That may be a smile, a prayer, or a hidden sacrifice known to God alone. Blessed Advent!