Find the Joy

I thank my God every time I remember you.
~Philippians 1:3

I don’t know about you, but when someone asks me how my day went the first 3 things that pop up in my head are the frustrations or struggles.  It usually takes a minute before the good, which is usually the overwhelming majority of my day, to finally make it to the top of my list of how my day went. Sometimes, it is harder to remember the good than the bad. When it comes to illness and death, the same reasoning seems to apply.

We don’t think of death in good terms. It is scary, sad, and signals an ending. No one smiles when they think of a loved one having died. But the Lord tells us that our loved ones will be with us again. Not only will they be with us again, but they feel no pain or loss anymore. Faith in the Lord means that death is not an end for us. So, we despite the loss and sadness we feel, we can also find joy and comfort.

During this All Souls Day, let us remember the loved ones who have gone before us with joy.

God Bless,
Kim

Your Life Depends On It

Love others well, and don’t hide behind a mask; love authentically. Despise evil; pursue what is good as if your life depends on it.
~ Romans 12:9

I was in the process of sorting through e-mails when I came across this bible verse and it struck me hard. “Pursue what is good as if your life depends on it.” I had to think, because I cannot remember the last time I pursued anything, let alone good, as if my life depended on it. When is the last time that you pursed anything as if your life depended on it?

It can be easy in our society, which is so busy all the time, to accept that some things just don’t get as much time as they should. Good things get pushed to the side, or the bottom of the list. We will get to them… eventually. I know, I am with you! I am the queen of pushing things to the side, and then accomplishing everything in one night, at the cost of sleep.

Life has gotten so busy that I think the only thing that I pursue as if my life depended on it is coffee, but that is going to change now.

Lent is coming, much like winter for Game of Thrones fans, and this time I am going to start a little early. I am going to pursue good as if my life depended on it, not in a few weeks, but now. I am going to pursue prayer opportunities with my family. I am going to pursue time to reflect and grow with my husband. I am going to pursue patience when dealing with my children. I am going to pursue all of those things as if my life depends on it… because it does.

Jesus told us, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” So, I am getting on board a little early for Lent, and I invite you to do the same. Maybe make a Lenten sacrifice or change be a lifestyle change. Who knows what amazing things will come of your pursuit of all that is good!

God Bless,
Kim

Close Encounters

And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
~Matthew 28:20

I encounter Christ in the smiles and laughter of my children, and the embrace of my husband, and those encounters fill my heart with joy daily. They blend seamlessly into my days, almost without notice. I think it can be easy to let our joy-filled “Easter” encounters with Christ fade into our memories. Not because they aren’t profound, but because joy seems so transient to us, something that we can’t quite hold on to.

The times I remember an encounter with Christ more vividly are often the painful, heart-wrenching days when I feel that I cannot go on anymore- Good Fridays of my life. The days when I just don’t have any more patience, when I don’t have a plan; the day when I want to channel Pontius Pilate- wash my hands of everything, and go build a blanket fort and eat cookie dough!

I  remember the encounter with Christ very profoundly on those days because those are the days when I can’t, and HE must. Those are the times when Jesus picks me up and carries me down the beach- or as it more accurately feels- carries me through the minefield of stressful situations, unfinished tasks, and drama-filled arguments. He carries me toward the times I know are right there waiting for me, the times I vow to value more, and hold closer to my heart. Towards the smiles of my children and embrace of my husband- my extraordinarily ordinary daily Easter encounters.

Where do You encounter Christ?
~Kim

Level Up

The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”
~ Luke 17:5

I often overhear teens (and adults) talking about how they have reached the next level of a game, of binge-watching Netflix, and texting, or any number of activities that require time and effort. My question is, how are “leveling up” you faith?

Lent offers us the perfect chance to get things together in our faith life. Good old Catholic guilt gets our butts to mass more, a few Lenten “extras”, and even *GASP* confession! All of those are wonderful, and no matter your reason for getting through the door- you are adding some “faith experience points” and you never know what achievements from God you might unlock!

God Bless & and May your Level Ups be EPIC!
~Kim

Achievement-unlocked

Keep Christmas

“…and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge.” ~ Stave 5, A Christmas Carol~ Charles Dickens

For they will scarcely brood over the days of their lives, because God keeps them occupied with the joy of their hearts. ~ Ecclesiastes 5:20

We are now a week out of the joyous Christmas season- Jesus has been born, baptized, and presented in the temple. This past weekend he began his earthly ministry with the miracle at the Wedding at Cana. So, it can be easy to fall into a rut, and just kind of slide through Ordinary Time, just waiting for Lent to show up and make us sacrifice chocolate(or soda, candy or *GASP* Netflix- now there’s a sacrifice). But how are you keeping the joy of Christmas alive? Christmas may be over, but the joy shouldn’t just disappear with the last of the Christmas cookies!

How can we take all that joy that practically explodes out of Christmas- the company, gifts, music, food, excitement, and enthusiasm and insert that into our “Ordinary Times” lives? No one is going to just hand you joy. A lot of people have this idea, that joy and happiness are just going to be given to us, but Jesus tells us that the path of happiness requires some effort on our part! So, if you hear me humming “Angels we Have Heard on High” or “I Saw Three Ships”, don’t worry- it’s just the Christmas joy I’m trying to hang to for just a little bit longer!

God Bless,
Kim

Lessons from a Toddler- Wandering Wisemen

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.”
~ Matthew 2:1-2 

There are no elves on my shelves. There are many reasons for that, but mostly it boils down to the fact that good behavior is a year-round endeavor in our house and it feels like adding an elf for a month once a year would complicate that idea.  It may seem silly, but I don’t want my children to behave well because “Santa is watching” through the little elves. I am absolutely not passing judgment on anyone who does Elf on the Shelf, it is a very cute and creative idea. My daughter has even asked if we will be getting an elf that moves all around this year. The answer, despite her asking, is still no.

I don’t remember there being an emphasis on Santa “watching us” when I was growing up. We definitely knew Santa was coming, and that if we were rotten little monsters there might not be any presents, but it was more of a peripheral awareness. We sang all the songs about Santa watching, and keeping his list, but the idea of actually being on the naughty list never occurred to me- my daughter is actually afraid of it. I have much clearer memories of designing my Christmas dress with my mother- and that is what I want for my kids. I want them searching for something else at Christmas, which is why three strange little men visit our house in December.

The 3 Wise Men search our house each December for the Baby Jesus, and isn’t that what we all should be doing- searching for Jesus? So the quest in my house is about finding Jesus, where are those silly wise men now, and the naughty list fades into the background. We love watching the Grinch, and decorating Gingerbread cookies, but what I love even more is knowing that the first thing my kids do every morning in December is search for the Wise Men searching for Jesus.

God Bless,
Kimwandering wisemen

She said YES

Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. ~Luke 1:38

Can you imagine probably being 16-18, and being told that you were going to give birth to the Son of God?

Seriously???

I have difficulty saying yes to help out with another event on a weekend, and Mary said “Sure”, to spending the rest of her life raising the Son of God- because all parents know that it is a lifetime commitment, no matter how old the child gets! Even worse this is the actual flesh and blood of the divine. Failure is not an option.

However, this teenage girl, faced with ridicule, abandonment, and even death calmly and serenely accepted one of the most difficult tasks undertaken by a human. She did this all with just one word… Yes, and the entire world has never been the same.

One word can change the world, so the next time someone asks you to help, support, or just show up, you never know what the result of your “Yes” can be.

God Bless,
Kim

Christmas Presence

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. ~Genesis 3:8

Hundreds of thousands of generations between Adam and Eve and us, and we still have the tendency to hide when the Lord might be nearby. I find that I feel that the holiday season has become a giant contest to see who can celebrate the birth of Christ, without actually inviting him to the party.

Don’t get me wrong- I love Christmas! I put my tree up the day after Thanksgiving, and it doesn’t come down until Epiphany (Easy to do when it is a giant fake tree!). We play Christmas music, have a room decorated with nothing but nativities, and get all pretty-ed up to attend our Christmas Eve mass. However, I have found that Christ is not present in the frenzied tree decorating, the constant scolding of the kids “DON’T TOUCH”, and the chaos of finding the correct tights, and the shoes that fit before heading to church.

I decided this year to focus on the Christmas presence, instead of Christmas presents. We are cutting back on gifts to each other, and trying for more meaningful gifts to other members of our family. We are searching for the Wandering Wisemen (Check back for more about that adventure!), and concentrating on preparing our hearts for His presence, rather than the house for some presents.

What about you? Do you feel the Christmas presence in your preparations? How do you find the holiness in this (too often hectic) season of preparation?

God Bless,
Kim

Summer Rest

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;  he restores my soul. ~Psalm 23:1-3

As much as my schedule is very much linked to a school year, I still find summer to be the busiest time for me. There are registrations to be sent out, taken in, and sorted into classes. Teachers to encourage to accept the call to minister in one of the most terrifying ministry jobs- teaching the faith! The Herculean (although much less messy and ultimately more fun) task of planning, writing, and executing the Summer Bible Land Adventures program. The list could continue, but this is supposed to be about relaxing! And so, with all of those tasks hanging over my head it would be easy to lose sight of the fun that also comes with summer.

My children are completely my own again- no dance, school, or FF classes. I may still be working, but these are also the days when my schedule is the most flexible. So, I try to have little outtings with the kids- zoo, berry picking, shopping, and movies. But even with these little adventures it can be easy to slip into a nonstop work mode until the Lord practically shoves me out the door- get outside and play!

Isn’t that exactly what our earthly parents would do when we were kids? If we became too absorbed inside (at least in my house) we were unceremoniously kicked out of the house- without whatever book you were reading, and told to GO PLAY!

We don’t all have our parents around to remind us, and the good Lord is much more subtle. So the next time your wifi isn’t connecting, or Pinterest is loading too slowly… take the hint!

GO OUTSIDE AND PLAY!

After all, the Lord just wants us to chill out by calm waters, and eat lots of good food… Sounds like a pretty good summer to me!

God Bless,
Kim

It’s coming…

So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
~ 2 Corinthians 5:17

Winter so Spring is coming! If you have ever seen the popular TV show “Game of Thrones”, then you know that Winter is used to describe any period of difficulties, not just the season. But here in CNY, with our constant winter, it becomes an actual complaint, and the phrase “Spring is coming” is rarely heard. Spring, and the idea of new life, new growth and even new ideas can easily get lost in the day-to-day winter drudgery.

The same can happen in our faith journeys. It is easy to get lost in the day-to-day demands and forget the obligations of our soul! We might remember to put the laundry away, make dinner, grocery shop, finish homework, and practice instruments- but at what expense?

Have we allowed the “winter” to freeze our faith? Our we stuck in a snowbank? What can we do to thaw the winter that takes over our spiritual lives? Lent and Easter offer us the perfect opportunity for a renewal- springtime- for our souls! There are so many different opportunities for prayer, fasting, almsgiving, service, penance. It is a “greenhouse” of spiritual flowers for your soul!

So, maybe you should take advantage of this Lent to pick a bouquet of refreshing flowers for your soul, because remember… EASTER is coming!

God Bless,
Kim