Sunday, March 30, 2014

Jesus Heals The Blind Man - Fourth Sunday of Lent

     Today we hear the second of three lovely stories from John’s Gospel.  It is the story of Jesus restoring sight to a man born blind, and we are invited to think about what it is to be spiritually blind.  Jesus said, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  He is alluding to the time when he would no longer be with his followers.  Jesus was teaching them, and even now is calling us, to be His light in the world. 
     
     Questions - Jesus’ followers questioned why the man had been born blind.  Was it because of his sins?  Was it the sins of his parents?   Jesus, told them he was born blind so that God’s power could be shown in him.  Then Jesus talks about doing the work of God while it is still light.  
     
     Healing - The disciples must have been excited.  Knowing Jesus as well as they did, they probably knew He was going to heal the blind man.  Perhaps they wondered how he was going to do it.  Would there be a flash of lightning?  A ball of fire?  A boom of thunder?  No, Jesus used what was at hand.  He made mud from his own spit and dirt from the ground, and pasted it over the blind man’s eyes. Just as he had once used a young sheep herder with a simple sling and stone to defeat Goliath and the Philistines, Jesus chose ordinary mundane elements to heal this man.  God’s power was shown through this miracle, just as Jesus had said.
     
     Doubt - The Pharisees questioned the blind man, but despite the obvious evidence, they refused to believe that Jesus had healed him. They said he could not be from God, because he did not keep the Sabbath.  They even asked the man’s parents if he had indeed been born blind.  They became indignant when the man insisted that Jesus had healed him, and they threw the man out of the Temple.
     
     When I or someone I love is going through a painful or difficult circumstance, I question why it has to be.  Yet, I do know that God gives us grace to carry us through our trials.  When we handle our afflictions with grace and trust in God, we are a testament to His faithfulness and His love.  I often find that God puts someone in my path who is experiencing a trial that I had previously endured.  I am able to empathize with that person, and offer support and ideas that have helped me through.

     What is God calling me to do for him?  What is he calling you to do?  Am I ready to do what he asks of me?  Are you?   We may feel inadequate.  Indeed, on our own, we are.  However, God doesn’t call the able, he calls the available.  If he calls us to a particular task or purpose, then he will be faithful to supply us with the means and strengths and talents to do his will.  If God used sticks and stones and spit to do his will, then he surely can use us.  
     
     Jesus’ miracles seem hard for us to believe.  We live within the structure of time and space.  But God created the time and space, so he can certainly defy them, and easily perform miracles.  We serve a powerful God. Go to him, tell him how you need his help today.  Ask him how he can use you today to be his light in the world.
        
Blessings, 

        lynda

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Advent - A Time of Hope

IIn the gospel today, we hear about John the Baptist, living and preaching in the wilderness, dressed in rough clothing, eating locusts and wild honey.  His harsh warning that the kingdom of heaven is
near urges people to repent, as he points to Jesus as the mightier one.  He calls his hearers a bunch of snakes, telling them that axes will cut them down, threatening the Sadducees and Pharisees with hell.

     This gospel certainly contrasts the warm feelings we have enjoyed in our holiday preparations as we anticipate spending time with our loved ones this Christmas season.  The nearness of God's kingdom calls us to action - to repent, to be converted, to have a change of heart.  John's words
should raise questions we need to face and answer.   It is likely we have areas in our lives that have been neglected and that need attention.

      
How have we shown love to the people closest to us....our spouse, our children, our parents or friends?  How have we failed to show them love?  Have we neglected someone or failed to treat them as we should have?  What about ourselves? Do we care for ourselves by staying in shape, physically and spiritually?  


     We often take those closest to us for granted.  We may assume they know we love them, even if we haven’t told them so in a long while. Perhaps our daily cares, routines and habits leave us little energy to give our families and friends  the time to show them  that we love them. As we celebrate the love of God for us this Christmas, maybe we can be a little more kind to ourselves and begin taking care of ourselves.  Then perhaps we can give those we love more of  our attention, more of our care, concern and love, more of ourselves.

       We say we have faith in Christ, but does what we are doing reveal our faith and love in Jesus? What we do, our actions, gives meaning to our love.  If we are truly repentant, we want to change, to act on ways to improve.   We can let this Advent be a time to make some changes.  We know we cannot do this by our own will. Advent, however, gives us what we need to act...it gives us hope...it gives us a Saviour!

       It has been said that where there is life, there is change.  Change requires action.  Think of a tree, whose glorious colored autumn leaves wither and fall when winter winds blow, only to return once again when spring bursts forth new buds which form new leaves.  This cycle would not be possible if the tree refused to change and let go of its leaves. Change is difficult for us because it comes with no guarantees that things will be better as a result.  The only guarantee we have is the blessing of a life
lived close to God.

      Advent is hope.  It is the promise and certainty of God’s presence in our lives in the ultimate gift of Jesus.  If we receive Him in our hearts, really receive, then His love will abide in us and give us the grace to love ourselves, and to fully share His love with those around us.

     May this Advent be a time of growth for each of us, and bring us to the fullness of God's love for us, as we pray, "come, Lord Jesus."


                                                                                                    lynda

Friday, June 3, 2011

Allow God To Interrupt!

My June calendar page on my Joyce Meyer Ministries calendar has a quote that I'd like to share:


"If you will make the decision that you don't mind being inconvenienced or interrupted, then God can use you.  You can make a difference in the world!"  by Joyce Meyer.


Wow!  That one really hit home.  I pray daily to be used by God, and have missed some opportunities because it simply wasn't "convenient."  I didn't take the time to call that friend, or stop to chat with an elderly neighbor, because I was in a hurry to get somewhere, and had so much to do.  Not that what I had to do wasn't important, or necessary.  But, in missing the chance to bring a little sunlight into the lives of the people God had placed in my path, I missed being the blessing He wanted me to be. 


I resolve to keep my eyes and heart open.   I am deciding, right now, to allow inconveniences and interruptions into my life, for God's purposes.  I do want to make a difference in the world.


My prayer for today:  Lord, please take these hands of mine, this mouth, these eyes and ears, feet and arms, and use them for Your good, for Your purpose, and to deliver Your word and works to those whom you place in my life.  Amen!


Blessings,

lynda

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Six Ways To Be Kind To Yourself

I'm sure you have had "those days," the ones where you feel trodden on and pulled in different directions, stretching to your absolute limits.  I have had a succession of these days lately, and today I finally remembered to stop, and renew some promises I made to myself.  These promises have been a great help to me in times of overwhelming responsibility and stress.  I am sharing them here with you, in the hopes that, you, too, might make yourself a list of promises or ways to be kind to yourself.
  • I promise to dream more and hesitate less.
  • I promise to believe in myself and stop judging myself on my shortcomings.
  • I promise to accept what life brings each day, and make each moment special.  This is the day the Lord has made, I WILL rejoice and be GLAD in it!
  • I promise to really appreciate my family and friends....they are God's gift to me, and I cherish them.
  • I promise to be less resistant to change, and grow in my independence.
  • I promise to fill my life with special times, and share them with others.
These promises to myself aren't always easy to keep, but I'm working on them.  And each time I read them over, and pray about them, I feel recharged and energized, able to take on the cares of the day.


May you, also, find peace in your list. 
God bless,


lynda

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Glorious Day!!


What a glorious day it was today!!  The weather was pretty rough yesterday, and forecasts are bad for tomorrow, but today the weather was sunny and pleasant (albeit a bit cold), and perfect for the drive to Buffalo.  Not only was the weather cooperative, but today was grand-baby Kennedy Grace's baptism.  The sunny day was a special smile from God as He watched this fresh, pure baby soul be baptized and dedicated to Him!

Proud big sister Keeley
Kennedy's big sister, six year old Keeley, greeted us at church.  As she ran to me, she excitedly said, "Nana, Nana!  They're going to pour water all over Kennedy, then we're going to get cake!"  Don't you just love children!  

There were three baptisms at the same time...quite a process.  That's after Mass, and blessing of marriages and renewal of marriage vows for the parish couples (World Marriage Day).  We all sure did get our "church" today!
Yes, there really IS a baby in all that dress!
Daddy and Kennedy Grace
















Although I complain about living so far from my daughter, Faith, her husband, Dan, and their two sweet girls, I realize how blessed I am.  Many of my friend's kids live many states away.  Mine is only an hour and a half away....but it's still too far.  We see them frequently, but it sure doesn't seem enough.  And dd is so good about calling frequently, and we Skype with Keeley, and the family.  But I miss them during the two weeks or so that go by without seeing them.  OK, I know...I said I shouldn't complain, and I am.  I will stop now.  

My favorite girls and son-in-law
My heart is full, and I feel so blessed.  Days like today are such a beautiful gift and a joy to celebrate. 
Forgive me, Father, for my whining.  And thank you, thank you, thank you for the gift of my loving family! And thank you for this day.  And forgive me for my whining...I know I am where I am supposed to be, and I don't mean to question You! I will trust Your plans for me, and I will be thankful, even when I miss my family.  It's these special times together that get me through!

This is the day the Lord has made, 
I will rejoice and be glad in it!
Blessings,
lynda 
 

Friday, February 18, 2011

Perfectionistic Thinking

Is perfectionism a good thing? 
You know how during an employment interview there is usually a question about what you consider your most negative characteristic?  The interviewer does not really expect you to tell him/her that you have a problem with tardiness, or that you couldn’t find your way out of a paper bag. I think, perhaps, it may be their way of seeing how well you think on your feet.
The first time I encountered this question during an interview, I became flustered and a little unnerved.  After a few seconds (which seemed like an eternity) I muttered something about being “detail oriented.”   Since that interview, I have polished my answer to this question.  I still answer that I am a detail oriented type of person, but I embellish it with examples that show this trait in a positive light. 


An honest evaluation of this question, and one which I will never reveal in a job interview, brings me to the answer that I am a *gasp* perfectionist.  You may be thinking, “That’s not so bad, perfectionism is a good thing, isn't it?”
I agree that some people’s work could use a little polishing (like that hand-made scarf that starts out wide at one end and is four inches narrower at the other, but is ‘good enough’ in the maker’s eyes).  I, for one, am tired of accepting slip-shod service and/or craftsmanship from people in service or retail establishments, which passes as acceptable by many standards. There are many times I think a little “perfectionism thinking” is in order.
However, and here comes the big BUT, what I’m talking about is when perfectionism becomes a negative force.  Yes, I said negative. 


You may ask, “When is wanting to be perfect a bad thing?”   
My answer:  When it hinders progress, or stops you from moving forward entirely! Let me explain by some examples in my life. 


My Perfectionist Ways Were Causing Me Stress
A friend helped me to see that I have been putting an extreme amount of (unnecessary) pressure and stress on myself by trying to be all things to all people as far as my crafting blog goes.  She helped me to appreciate my own unique style, and how that is what is attracting people to my craft blog, Paper Arts Cafe . By trying to accommodate everyone’s requests, I am going against what comes naturally, and adding stress to my life.  Yes, I will occasionally try something different (often as a challenge to myself so I don’t get stale in my own style), but I will mostly be true to my style, to myself.  That is, after all, where my gift lies (and I say that with absolutely no haughtiness or self-importance.  I say it with respect to God, the One who gave me my talents.


Perfectionistic Tendencies Can Stop Creativity
Another negative symptom of perfectionistic expectations is that it often stops my creative process.  Let me explain.  When I started this blog, for example, I had so many ideas and thoughts I wanted to write about.  Then, as I sat and wrote, my own feelings of inadequacy made me start over and over, until writing became a chore to endure, rather than the pleasant, uplifting experience it has always been for me.  I was trying too hard to make everything I write “fit in” with what I had idealized this blog to be, in my mind.
As I prayed about this, I began to see that the One who leads me to write, the One who supplies the creative power, THE ONE who is my whole reason for writing, simply instructed me to write.  No parameters, no carefully confined guidelines or outlines to follow, just write!  So, that is what I am doing.  And, oh, how freeing that is! I simply sit down at the keyboard, and find, if I take a few moments to get myself out of my way, the thoughts and ideas do come.  And if they don’t always “fit” with my own ideas of where this blog thing is going, then so be it.  It is, after all, for His glory.


Finally, perfectionism can also lead to procrastination,  And that is a topic for another post.  For now, I will work on writing more often, and when inspired.
So, bear with me, please.  I am a work in progress.  I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up yet.  God is working on me, and I am trying my best to stay out of His way.


Blessings,


lynda

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The special blessings of friends

Last week I had breakfast with my friend, Arlene. We get together once a month and go to our favorite haunt, where we share breakfast, coffee, and friendship. We talk and laugh, sometimes cry, and pray. Then we talk, and laugh some more. The lunch crowd is usually beginning to arrive by the time we leave! It’s not easy for us to get together, as we have different work schedules, and other demands on our time. But, because we are friends, we have purposefully set this time aside to be with each other.
Another friend, Karen, and I get together at least twice a month to share our love of scrapbooking and card making. We share ideas, inspiration, and laugh, a lot! We share our hopes and dreams, and encourage each other. Again, making the time to do this together is a challenge at times, but we make it work, because it is important to our friendship.
Yet another friend, Sylvia, and I see each other frequently, as our husbands are also friends, and we get together often to socialize and play games at either their home or ours. We have known Sylvia and Richard for over 27 years. Sylvia and I have a special bond, and I cannot imagine these past almost three decades without them in our lives! We have been there through each others' ups and downs, through child-rearing, special occasions, sadness, and joy. We’ve supported each other’s choices and decisions, and helped each other through crises. Our friendship brings us both much joy.

My friend, Linda, and I like to go to the movies, and sometimes out to lunch or dinner, about once a month. We also socialize with Linda and her husband, Bob, having been friends with them for over 30 years. Linda was the first friend I made when I married my husband almost 33 years ago and moved to Rochester from Marcy, New York. She and I worked at the YMCA corporate offices together, and became fast friends. We, too, raised our families together, sharing joys and sorrows, hopes and dreams, often talking till late into the night about our plans and hopes. For me, Linda has been my rock, and a dear, special joy in my life.
           I share other experiences and times with several other friends, as well, albeit not as frequently as the above. Distance (other cities and states), family obligations, and other circumstances keep us from getting together as often as we would like. We do, however, talk with each other, and keep in touch via telephone and email.

I have been thinking about how important my friends are to me. I believe friends are special people whom God brings into our lives. Sometimes a friend is for a season, and then is gone. Sometimes they are deeper friends, and stay with us for the long haul. Each one touches our lives in their own special way, leaving their unique imprint on our life story. We, in turn, leave our imprint on their lives. This is no trivial thing, if we are to believe, as I do, that people come into our lives for a reason. Sometimes the reason is really evident, as in the case of those friends who are in it for the long haul. Other times, the reason someone touched our lives briefly may not be known to us for a long time, sometimes never. Perhaps it is we who imparted something to them. It is not for us to know. I do believe, however, that it is all in God’s plan.

God uses us, and He uses our friends, to bring us, and them, special blessings. He never leaves us alone, as He is always with us. I believe our friends are given to us, chosen by Him, to be a reminder of His presence in our lives. I truly appreciate every one of these special people God has put in my life.
I resolve to try to be a better friend this year. I will take time from my busy life to be with them, to confirm our friendship through our time together. I will pray for them, and thank God for the gift of love He has given me through them.


Thank you, Lord, for those special people you have placed in my life. Thank you for those angels I call “friends,”and help me to be a blessing to them, as they are to me.


Blessings,
lynda