A Time for Rejoicing

For the past few months, I’ve been leading a study of the Wisdom Literature–the books of Wisdom, Sirach, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Job, and the letter of James along with passages from other books sprinkled in. It’s funny how often the themes of these studies, while I’m in the midst of them, appear throughout all parts of my life. It’s a constant barrage of messages reminding me what I’m supposed to be taking from these lessons and discussions.

A couple weeks ago, I read to the women this beautiful passage from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians:

Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you. 

Philippians 4:4-9

The following week, I stepped in to lector at Mass when the lector was unable to be there. Guess what the reading was…

Philippians 4:4-9.

A few days later, Father Mike‘s reading in his Bible in a Year Podcast was…

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Seeking Peace

Peace of mind.

What exactly is that? How can we achieve it? How can we maintain it? Is is even possible to feel peace during this hectic season?

How can we have peace of mind when there are gifts to buy, groceries to pick up, houses to clean, decorations to be put up, parties to be thrown, presents to wrap, families to visit, and so many church services to attend?

Hallmark paints the picture of the perfect Christmas, complete with sugar cookies that are made, rolled, baked, and decorated in an hour’s time; the fullest and tallest Christmas tree in the lot which fits perfectly in the house and is decorated in minutes (with no fumbling with blown-out strands of lights); and people singing “Oh, Christmas Tree” on every corner (seriously, someone please tell them that this is nobody’s favorite song). In reality, sugar cookies take hours (sometimes days) to complete from beginning to end; trees often look more like one chosen by Charlie Brown (don’t get me started on the lights); and we often overlook the songs that truly tell of the meaning of Christmas.

“Sleep in Heavenly peace” may be sung, but is it taken to heart? While the Babe in the manger sleeps in peace, what about us? Are our days “calm and bright”or chaotic and dark?

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A Little Bit More

When I was a little girl, I loved all of the Christmas specials. It was a big deal in our family when they came on TV. We all gathered in our basement recroom, the popcorn popper whirring the kernels around in the melted butter, the scent filling the air, as we waited in anticipation of shows that could only be watched when they aired that one time each year. My favorites were always The Little Drummer Boy and The Year Without a Santa Claus. I loved the latter because it proved that nothing could stop Christmas from coming–not a blizzard, not a heatwave, not a feud between two warring brothers, not Santa being sick, or lack of belief in the world. Mrs. Claus was determined that Christmas would happen no matter what.

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A Lifetime of Blessings

Last night, we had the opportunity to have dinner with our now married daughter and her husband at their new home. This is Rebecca and Anthony’s first Christmas living together and the first time they decorated their own Christmas tree. I stood for several minutes and looked at the ornaments from their combined childhoods and thought about all the years we’ve collected ornaments for our girls. It felt odd to see Rebecca’s ornaments on a tree other than our family tree, but it was a beautiful, comforting feeling to know that a big part of her childhood hangs on the tree in her new home. We are still tethered together by tradition even when miles apart.

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Be Prepared

A tree beside our house was struck by lightning the other day. It was scary. The entire house shook from the sound akin to a sonic boom, and a red-orange light filled every room, like a giant fireball hurled through the windows. We knew lightning had struck nearby, but we didn’t know where. It was raining too hard to go outside and look around, and everything in the house seemed okay, so we surmised perhaps it wasn’t as close as we thought.

That evening, we all sat down together to watch a holiday special on TV, and we had no TV… The Tivo was working. It told us what channel was on and what program we should be seeing on the screen, but all we saw was a message that there was no signal. We checked the other televisions in the house and found that we had no stations on any of them. Ken went outside with a flashlight and found that the antenna was still there, so he checked the booster in the garage where the signal comes into the house. The booster was not working.

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The Only Gift That Matters

Luke 1 37-39.jpg

I recently heard someone say that the greatest gift her parents gave her was her faith. It kind of stopped me in my tracks. Here we are, in the midst of the Christmas shopping season, and I hear that the greatest gift someone received from her parents was the gift of faith. Not an Apple Watch, not a laptop, not a designer bag or piece of jewelry, but the simplest of gifts–the ability to believe what is not seen and embrace it, the courage to trust in God, and the knowledge that there is a glorious new life awaiting us. 

I thought to myself, how true it is that the greatest gift we can pass down is easy and free to give, but then I realized, faith is not easy and it’s not free… Read more

What’s in Your Wallet?

debwparentsEarlier this week, my daughter told me that she had decided not to get her father a new wallet for Christmas. “It’s too personal, and I’m afraid I’d get him one he won’t like.” I started thinking about my own wallet. For many years, my wallet served a dual purpose. It held money and necessary ID cards, but it also held beloved photos of my family. As a child, this photo of my aunt and my grandparents was the first one I was given to put in my wallet, and it stayed there for the next thirty years. It was very special to me, a reminder of the special relationship I shared with all three of them (and still share with my Aunt Debbie today).

My relationship with my aunt hasn’t changed, but my relationship with my wallet has. Read more

Holiday Reminders

Is your Thanksgiving turkey thawing?

Have you started your Christmas to-do list?

Have you begun planning your holiday schedule?

I’ve been hard at work getting my to-do list together, planning my decorating, coordinating activities with my family, putting together our Christmas card, and trying to remember everything else I need to tend to.

As we begin the holiday hoopla, it occurs to me that we all need a few reminders to keep us on track this season. Here are the things that will be at the top of my Reminders List. Read more

The Twelve Days of Christmas: More than a Song

Merry Christmas! I know that for many, today is the day after Christmas, but for most Catholics around the world, today is not merely the day after Christmas, it is the Second Day of Christmas. A few weeks ago, I wrote about anticipating Christmas, but more importantly, enjoying and appreciating the days after Christmas – the TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS! 

We all know the song and its seemingly endless list of Christmas gifts. The English Christmas carol was first published in 1780 and was a rhyme, not a song with music. It may even originally have been a French chant. English composer, Frederic Austin, first published the musical arrangement we are familiar with today including the recurring word “on” which did not appear in earlier versions.  The exact origins of the song are unknown, but it is believed to have been a children’s game played on the English festival, Twelfth Night, that, over time, evolved into a chant and then a song. Many have suggested that the twelve gifts have Biblical meaning though most modern scholars dismiss this claim. While that suggestion has been debunked, it it is interesting to note that there are exactly 364 gifts, one for each of the year except Christmas. Read more