Show Gratitude

How do I show my gratitude?  It’s rare at best, I’m sad to say.

For a while I have been feeling that the people of the world are a mess.  The debate in my head is whether our human race can get any worse.  I can’t help but believe there is a great deterioration in humankind.

It never fails to amaze me, even after all these years, how answers come to me at church.  It was a double for me today.  The first wasn’t really a current question or concern, just an ongoing sense of dread and sadness for the state of the human condition.  Amazingly, this lack of gratitude has been around for a long, long time.

Check this passage from Luke 17:11-19.  (I have copied it over from this website: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/112218-thanksgivingday.cfm)

[As Jesus continued his journey to Jerusalem,
he traveled through Samaria and Galilee.
As he was entering a village, ten persons with leprosy met him.
They stood at a distance from him and raised their voices, saying,
“Jesus, Master! Have pity on us!”
And when he saw them, he said,
“Go show yourselves to the priests.”
As they were going they were cleansed.
And one of them, realizing he had been healed,
returned, glorifying God in a loud voice;
and he fell at the feet of Jesus and thanked him.
He was a Samaritan.
Jesus said in reply,
“Ten were cleansed, were they not?
Where are the other nine?
Has none but this foreigner returned to give thanks to God?”
Then he said to him, “Stand up and go;
your faith has saved you.”]

Ninety percent showed no gratitude what so ever!  They got what they asked for and kept on walking.  Wow.  Two centuries ago.  And I wonder if we will ever change.

This year my “One Little Word” is TURN.  I have been focusing on tuning back, mostly.

There is a list of “Turn back to” ideas.

To the Bible – be more faithful in my studies and daily readings.  Our priest started a challenging and in-depth study of the Book of John this September which has been so rich and informative.

To my faith – really understanding what my relationship with God is and learning how to enrich my understanding and grow a stronger faith.  I have started a Faith Journal where I can explore certain areas as I wish.  It has been fun to add some art to it as well.

To prayer – not just saying a quick recite of a prayer and moving on, but truly talking with God often during the day.  I have found a couple of rich books on praying and it has opened my eyes to the true meaning of our praying. “Pray without seizing” I Thess 5:17.  Our memorized prayers are a beautiful help, a starting point from which we continue with our prayer to God.  I still have to remind myself to share my gratitude with God as well and bringing requests for help.

I still struggle to not criticize or judge when I come across people doing what I believe to be in error.  My daughter reminds me “they are not my weed” and so I must move on and pray they will come to know and accept the love God has for them, while I work on my task to ‘love my neighbor’.

If you are still following along with my wandering train of thought, you may have noted that I indicated there was another question on my brain this morning.  Last night I had trouble sleeping, and when that happens lots of thoughts, mostly unwelcomed ones, popped into my head.

When you love someone, especially a brand new baby, you might worry about their well-being.  My newest great grand is about 2 and a half months old.  With the news yesterday of a condition going on with her mother that the doctors don’t seem to understand, my thoughts drifted to this helpless baby.  What is something is wrong with her?  She is too little to express much more than pain or discomfort with her cries.  It seems so many babies have debilitating issues these days.  What is she is one of them?  The Priest spoke something about this; I’m sure it was for my benefit.  So, bottom line is that she is child of God, she is loved, she is and always will be a blessing to my life and that of all her family.

Next year I believe I will choose the word Gratitude.

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The Word Made Flesh -WORD

Fr. Jeremiah has started a class on the Gospel of John – The Word Made Flesh, a Study of the Book of John.

It is starting out to be an in-depth and enriching study.  Father Jeremiah is a beautiful teacher and is rich in knowledge and understanding of the languages from which the texts came from that produced this beautiful book of the Holy Word of God.  Our lessons will unfold throughout the rest of this school year.

I will not write about the lessons, but hope to share more Bible Art Journaling as I am inspired to create.  Not only will this be an eye-opening study for me but I hope to explore my desire to both write, perhaps essays, and do some art to expand my creativity.

The opening of this book is so touching and beautiful!  I encourage you to explore the deeper meaning of what John tells us by his prologue – “In the beginning was the Word”. WORD_2659

To Love and Be Loved

Have you ever started to keep a start of journaljournal?  They can be handy.  There are many styles, one for every purpose.  So far I have not been disciplined in that area of writing.

I have one in my planner for making spiritual notes.  It is set up for jotting down a Daily Devotional, Today’s Focus, Notes and Plans, and to highlight what I’m grateful for.  It seems, once again, I have fallen short and only have used it sporadically.  When I remember to take it with me I have made a few notes from the Bible readings or homilies at Mass.

This morning I pulled it out to see if I could transfer some profound words of inspiration I may have noted into my beautiful, new, Heartfelt Creations Journal that was recently given to me.  Following is on spiritual thought that has a burning urgency to comprehend and dwell on.  I hope you find the relevance of this message as important as I do.

The reason we hunger for things to bring happiness is because we are created by God and therefore destined to return to him.  Happiness and love are all about God.  He created us for love.  The human soul yearns to be closer to God, that is where true happiness is found.  This is why we have a hunger for that feeling: we hunger to be in the presence of our God, the hunger for the ultimate fulfillment of divine love.

The force that drives us is to love and be loved, it causes us to reach for something to satisfy our desire, yet too often we are led in the wrong direction and grab unhealthy and ungodly experiences that may satisfy for the moment but mislead us in the end.  In our misguided search we often fall down a spiral filled with sin and never achieve our desired state of true love.  Let’s be about seeking the original source of love – God.

It is never too late to realize we have misjudged what will bring happiness, that our choices only led us away from our true goal, from God who is the true source of real love.

What is the way to love God?  First it is to love God with our whole heart.  Love God above all earthly possessions.  When this gets confusing or seems too hard – pray for this!  God will increase your love and faith when you pray to him without ceasing.  God will lead you in your search for strength to love him more.

Try these three steps to find love:

1. I will love God with my whole heart.

2. I will seek to know what God expects of me.

3. I will listen to his Son, Jesus Christ.

We must be patient as we develop and strengthen our minds for understanding and our hearts for loving God and others.  For starters we must read our Bible often and come together with the Body of Christ weekly.

See you in the universal celebration of Mass this week!  It’s how we all join our spirit in the Lord’s presence.  May you look forward to worshiping our God, who is the source of love.

God is love!

Just Keep Asking

Just like the Canaanite woman did in the Gospel of Matthew.

She knew that this man passing through her region was the one to heal her daughter.  She knew he was the son of David. She knew he was God and she was not going to back down from beseeching him to heal her daughter.

Have you ever prayed to God for something really important and nothing happened?  Was it like God was not hearing you, ignoring you, perhaps had abandoned you?

I have certainly been there!  Unlike this Canaanite woman, I did give up.  I even turned my back on God; I’m very ashamed to confess.  I am blessed to have been drawn back to the all knowing and loving Creator in spite of my disobedience.

The message today struck me hard.  I know now that sometimes when God seems to be silent and not answering our prayers there is always something deeper going on.

Looking back now at situations I realize the error of what I was asking for on various occasions.  Some things were not the best course of action for me, although I was sure it would have been at the time.  Other times what I was praying for wasn’t the best option for those I was praying about.  I’ve looked real hard at my life and understand a little more than I did before mass today.

If I know I am asking for something righteous and truly in line with God’s way and the teachings we have from Jesus at our fingertips to learn, then I should never back down, never stop praying.

The Canaanite woman didn’t.  She knew who she was talking to and she didn’t care that she was way out of line for speaking to him (first of all a woman in that time was never to speak to a strange man, and especially one of authority, and it was clear that this Jew was someone!), and besides Canaanites were hated by the Jews, yet she persisted to ask help of this man.

Why would she do that?  He had ignored her, then he insulted her as a Jew might telling her he had been sent to take care of the “House of Israel”, not the likes of her.

But she persisted because she knew this was more than a Jewish man, this was God!

Of course Jesus heard her, and he wasn’t really ignoring her, even when his disciples with him tried to encourage him to move away from her.  He was testing her.

I realize better now what this means, that God will test us.  Not like your professors who want to write a hard quiz and really don’t care if you pass or not, but like a good teacher that wants to find out that you understand and “get” the material that is important for getting along in this life.

You would think the humiliation he dealt her next would have silenced her.  Remember that she and her countrymen were thought of as lower that low.  Jesus presented one more test when he told her it wasn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the little dogs.

Wow.  Talk about a slap in the face.  That was cruel.  Did she quit?  No!  She knew this was more than a man and that he was her only hope for saving her daughter.

Verse 27 – “She retorted, ‘Ah yes, Lord; but even little dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ table.”

Jesus already knows what is in our hearts.  He didn’t have to execute this terrible quiz for her benefit.  Anyone listening to this exchange needed this example.  We, today, have it documented in God’s Holy Word.  If we choose to read it and be led to its understanding by the aid of the Holy Spirit, that exchange will also benefit us.

I wonder if she ever doubted, like I have.  During this exchange, did it ever cross her mind that in spite of this being the Lord, would he not help her so she might as well just turn and walk away?  We do not know her thoughts.  The one thing that is important is that she did not stop believing the Lord God would help her and that she would not turn away.

We just have to keep asking.

My faith has been strengthened by today’s message, and I hope you will read it for yourself and take it to heart.   Matthew 15:21-28 

This evening I made a card, but I’m not sharing it on my blog.  It is a sympathy card for a friend who’s father has passed away.  I think this should be left private between us.

I do have two cards that I’ve finished in the last couple of days just so you might be inspired by something crafty after my outpouring of my soul.

 

I had some “Saving cream” paper left over from a precious challenge that I used gold embossing powder for the flower. The leaves are stamped in the same color of ink as the paper, Fun Stampers Journey Limeade Splash, and then I put clear embossing powder over it.  The Fall card was stamped on watercolor paper and I used wc pencils on it.

I leave you with this final thought – Believe in God, never give up or turn your back -your faith is stronger than you know.

Blessings,

Crafty hugs, too!

Joyce Ann

Exodus or Exile: Our Daily Choice

This past Sunday my pastor got me thinking about this idea of my own choices.  Two of the main studies in the Jewish Faith is the Exodus recounting when God redeemed the Jews for himself by freeing them from their Egyptian slavery and the traumatic Exile from their homeland where their Temple was destroyed along with their freedom.

The words Exodus and Exile are totally deserving of a capital E!  Not so much for most of us on a daily basis.  Nevertheless, think about the choices we have in this overall vision of our day, if you will.

Life is an exodus, a journey to where we want to be.  Daily.  What are our goals we want to accomplish?  Unless perfect people are reading this blog of mine, I’m believing many of you are like me.  I want to do better in so many areas, like relationships with others, the tasks of navigating daily chores, and enjoying my “toys”.  I want to smile more, worry less.

It may help to remember that nothing in this life stays the same.  To some degree we are all on a journey – it’s either an exodus, a day lived in freedom, or we surrender our selves to a self-appointed exile.

Be thankful Christ is with us.  If God’s light isn’t shining through brightly enough, perhaps we can find ways to let the love Jesus taught us show more.  Think about the analogy of the clay jars and add a few more holes in there.  Jesus promised that God is with us, each and every one of us, we just need to find ways for the light of His message to get out there.

So, I think I’ll start by smiling more, speaking more kindly, especially to anyone I pass in my journey.  And make more cards to actually send out.

It’s up to each of us individually – it’s either exodus or exile.  You choose.