Written by Laura Phelps
Columnist for www.catholicmom.com
She has been sitting in the same church as me for well over a year. I do not know her name, and I have no idea who she is. All that I know is she has the habit of wrapping her white rosary beads around her hands when she goes up to communion.
And how she whispers special intentions so that you can’t quite hear the words, but you feel them, regardless.
And that for an older woman, she dresses with a unique flair and style I have always admired, and how much I love her funky hair cut, with the white stripe that sweeps down the side of her face.
I ran into her in the bathroom after mass this morning, and finally decided I should say something to her. I complimented her fashion sense and told her how I loved her hair, as I walked into the stall.
“Thank you,” she smiled. “I am going to be losing it. I bought a wig.”
I stopped. I turned around. And I looked at her. Really looked at her. “You’re sick?” It was more of a statement than a question.
“Chemo starts on Thursday,” she told me.
She has been sitting in the same church as me for well over a year. And she has breast cancer. She is a mother. And she is a grandmother of five grandchildren. And she put that awesome white stripe in her hair for her daughter’s wedding just to spice up her look.
She is 74 years old. She had breast cancer 30 years ago. And now it has returned. And had I never opened my mouth to tell her how much I loved her hair, I never would have known any of this.
And we all do this, don’t we? We all are so busy and constantly running and so wrapped up in our lists of things to do and our own crosses to carry, that we miss it.
We miss the people that God’s mighty hand purposefully places in front of us. We miss the opportunity to connect or encounter or teach or encourage or learn or weep with or pray for. We miss the point of why we are here; to shine God’s bright light on everyone, to bring joy and love to another.
No doubt, this world can feel so dark, but God shines brighter. And if we get on our knees and pray that He fills us up with His light, He will! Every single encounter is an opportunity to live the Gospel, an invitation to shine. But if our heads are down, and our eyes and hearts closed, what exactly are we living? What message do we spread to others when we do not take the time to say hello? If God shines bright, should’t we?
I am not sure why I decided today, two days before she starts chemo, to compliment her hair, but the irony of this clearly points to something of grace. God’s curious ways and constant “coincidences” never escape me. I assured this new friend of mine of my prayers, and was amazed at how very much at peace she looked.
Had I not said anything to her, and just waited quietly for my turn to use the bathroom, I would have never known her story. She has never broken down in tears at mass, she has never prayed her intentions so that you can actually hear them, she does not look ill, her shoulders have never appeared to be shaking under the weight of her cross.
And so I sit here and wonder. I wonder how many people I have walked by, head down, eyes turned away, that could have used a “hello,” a simple compliment, or a friendly smile. Truth is, we are all carrying crosses, everywhere and everyday. People whose names we know, and faces we know but have no name. Every single one of them is just praying to God that they are strong enough to carry their cross for one more day.
We are one body, you know. We are not alone. We are suffering together. We are young and we are old. We are single and married. We are sitting in car line up at school, and standing at the check out line. We are driving our kids to sports, making dinner, and helping with homework. We are trying to lose those last ten pounds, save our marriages, get through to our teenagers, waiting for the school bus. We are caring for grandchildren, sitting by hospital beds, driving to work, looking for a job.
And we are sitting in the pews at mass, whispering our intentions, wrapping our hands in our beads, looking fashionable and stylish, allowing that beautiful strand of white hair to gently sweep down the side of our face.
Who will you encounter today? And how will you shine bright?
Article found on http://catholicmom.com/2014/09/23/discovering-gods-light-in-me-in-the-church-bathroom/
How to Set a FAITH Goal
by Rick Warren
“I know that I have not yet reached that goal, but there is one thing I always do. Forgetting the past and straining toward what is ahead, I keep trying to reach the goal and get the prize for which God called me through Christ to the life above.”
(Philippians 3:13-14 NCV)
I believe in setting goals. I’ve set them all my life, because goals are simply statements of faith. The Bible says, “The just shall live by faith” and “Without faith it’s impossible to please God” and “Whatsoever is not of faith is sin” and “According to your faith it will be done unto you.”
God always operates in your life by faith. That’s why you need goals in your life, because a goal is a statement of faith. A goal says, “I believe God wants me to accomplish something by a certain date.” If you don’t have a date, it’s not a goal. It’s a wish. It’s a dream. It’s a desire. But wishes are a dime a dozen; they’re worthless. The only thing that will change your life is setting a goal. You’ve got to wake up from the dream and go to work!
A “FAITH” goal has five characteristics:
Focused. That means it is specific. If you use the words “more” or “less,” it’s not a focused goal. “I want to be less angry” or “I want to weigh less” or “I want to be more like Jesus” are not goals because you can’t measure them. You have to be specific.
Attainable. If you set an unrealistic goal, it’s just going to discourage you. If you say, “I’m going to pray three hours a day,” you’re setting yourself up for failure. Set a goal that stretches you and then trust God will help you stretch.
Individual. That means it’s personal. You cannot set goals for other people because you can’t control them. You can’t set goals for your children, your husband, or your boyfriend or girlfriend. You can only set goals for yourself, because you can control you and not anybody else. The only way you can change other people is by changing yourself.
Trackable. Trackable goals can be measured. They’re verifiable. You set a date and say, “By Nov. 30 I will have accomplished this, and by Dec. 30 I will have accomplished this, and by Jan. 30 I will have accomplished this.”
Heartfelt. Your goals have got to be heartfelt. You’ll never reach a passionless goal. If you’re not passionate about the goal, wait until you get passionate about it. If you don’t have a deep desire to do it, don’t set it.
I encourage you to set one spiritual goal for your life today. Maybe your goal is to have a quiet time for five minutes every day for the next month. That is a FAITH goal, and you can accomplish it in faith.
Talk It Over
To My Fellow Moms, on the First Day of Kindergarten
Written by Kim Simon
Mother, Wife, Blogger (mamabythebay.com)
Dear New Kindergarten Mom,
This morning, I bundled my boys into the stroller and went out for one last impromptu morning walk. Max will be starting kindergarten next week, and the days spent hanging out in our jammies and meandering to the nearest park or Starbucks are almost over. My best friend texted me a picture of her own 5-year-old a few minutes later, standing in front of his new elementary school. "How did we get here?!" I texted back. It was yesterday that we were pregnant together. Visiting the fire station with toddlers together. Welcoming second babies together. "How did we get here?!"
Well, Mama, I want you to take a break from packing lunches and tucking pencils into binders. Click out of Pinterest for a minute, and stop reading the list about the Top 10 Lessons You Need To Teach Your Kindergartner. Put down the chalkboard frame that you're making for the perfect first day photo shoot, and listen up. This one is for you.
Kindergarten might be the beginning for our little ones, but it's a graduation of sorts for us.
How did we get here?
We waited and we worried, reading the BabyCenter emails each week that compared our rapidly growing babies to kiwis and oranges. We mourned losses and said goodbyes to the babies who grew in our hearts, but not our bellies. We labored and breathed and screamed and prayed as our littles made their way into our arms. We ate celebration dinners in hospital beds. We cradled impossibly small newborn bottoms in the palms of our hands, cut hospital bracelets from tiny ankles and learned to swaddle little limbs into baby burritos. We winced at each bad latch, and exhaled with each great one. We filled bottles and emptied breasts, measured milliliters into droppers and g-tubes. We pumped and we mixed and we forgot to feed ourselves. We fed our babies with love.
We rocked, we paced, we sang. We woke every three hours, or every three minutes. We shushed and we danced and we dozed. We may have spent more time awake than asleep.
We cut grapes into tiny cubes. We cleaned pasta from the carpet and yogurt from their hair. We made sure that the green veggies weren't touching the orange ones.
We were Batman and Thomas and a dinosaur and a policeman and a princess. We stepped on 47 Legos and built 72 towers and 298 spaceships. We hid in blanket forts and behind closet doors. Sometimes we hid in the bathroom, because it was the only quiet place we could find.
We drove to preschool and playdates. We practiced our goodbyes and perfected our hellos. We caught slippery bodies at swim lessons, and twisted perfect topknots for ballet. We played the tambourine at music class and sang the "Hello, friend" song at Mommy and Me 341 times.
We held chubby little arms and legs tight as the doctor gave each shot. We counted ounces and inches and celebrated each step. We met with speech therapists and occupational therapists and oncologists and radiologists. We elbowed our way down paths that we never thought would rise up to greet us. We fought fear and doubt and guilt. We woke up each day, and put one foot in front of the other.
We yelled at our partners and cried to our mothers and fell into the arms of the friends who became our family. We learned to let other grown-ups love our kids, and struggled to accept a night out or a lasagna or a hug. Or a mimosa.
We worried about TV time and Vitamin D and developmental stages and hearing tests. We celebrated birthdays and did the potty dance and doled out stickers and ultimatums.
We kept going. We got better at it. We surprised ourselves.
We've been exhausted, and fed up, and overwhelmed, and overjoyed. We've cheered for first words and first steps and first date nights in months. We've fallen asleep during Dumbo and memorized Goodnight Moon and Horton Hears A Who.
We've bargained with God over stitches and lab tests and "routine" operations. We've soothed bad dreams and inspired bigger ones.
We've stepped on 4,724 Goldfish crackers and 3,193 Cheerios.
We've kissed scrapes and cheeks and noses. We've bathed squirmy bodies and cut tiny bangs. We've whispered I love yous against giggling bodies. We've hugged and we've helped and we've explained. We've answered 17,000 whys and why nots.
We've made it.
They've made it.
There will be thousands of firsts that follow this one. Our jobs aren't even close to being done. But on this first day, for the hours that stretch between squeezing his little hand goodbye and welcoming him back to the arms that he began in, be gentle with yourself.
In your heart of hearts, you know that he's ready.
But I'm here to tell you that you are, too.
You might think this first day is all about him, friend. But it's also about you.
How did we get here?
You rocked and you fed and you soothed and you worried and you taught and you cuddled and you counted the nap time minutes and added up the ounces and marked the passage of time with pictures and gasps and tears.
So as that brave, crazy kindergarten teacher ushers you out tomorrow and closes the door behind you, be proud.
You did it. We did it.
That classroom of amazing, brilliant, imaginative, loving, self-sufficient (well, sort of), hilarious, unpredictable, completely capable little people? We made them that way. So before you walk away to worry about all of the first days to come and the homework and the life lessons and the setbacks and the TV time and the reward charts... come find me on the playground.
I'll be looking for you.
Let me be the first one to tell you "Good job, Mama. You survived. You watched as your heart grew outside of your body, and then you prepared him to greet the world alone. He is ready, because when they placed him in your arms, you were." For all of the times that we've told them "good job," and "great listening," and "you're so brave," and "I'm so proud of you," not once did we say those things to ourselves. So on that very first day of school, as you take one last look over your shoulder to make sure that your little one is safely tucked into her classroom, and you wipe away the tears as you climb back into your (suddenly very quiet) car, remember this.
You did it. You are so brave. I am so proud of you.
Just look how much you've grown.
Happy graduation, Mama.
A Kindergarten Mom, bawling her eyes out in the car parked next to yours
-Sit quietly and think of 10 (or more) reasons why you are a great mom. Congratulate yourself on these amazing accomplishments.
-Close your eyes and visualize your child/children's smiling face in front of you. Allow the joy of that smile to spread fully over you. Think of 10 (or more) reasons why they are a great son/daughter. Tell your child these reasons the next time you see them.
Please visit often as new meditations are posted weekly.