One Fun Book – One Beautiful Dream

One Fun Book – One Beautiful Dream

The burnt chicken on the cover speaks to me. Maybe because it sums up my current mojo…My mojo for like, the last 15 years.

When this book was released in the spring of 2018, it was the week of my youngest son’s First Communion, and despite the fact that family were coming in from 4 states to celebrate, I made a little time to read it – late at night, curled up in my bed, laughing out loud – because I just couldn’t put down this page-turner, Jennifer Fulwiler’s, One Beautiful Dream.

Having recently ‘met’ Jen through podcasts of her daily Sirius XM radio show and our shared connection in #hopewriters, I knew I couldn’t miss out on this book. I too am caught up trying to navigate the treacherous terrain where family life meets personal passions, and I desperately wanted to know how to say yes to them both.

Jennifer is a master storyteller with a coach’s spirit, and this book did not disappoint. Through this memoir, she has lifted me up – painting a raw and honest portrait of motherhood, faith, and a desire for something more.

After describing a harrowing supermarket experience in Chapter 1 (achieved while pregnant with 2 toddlers in tow) she writes, “On the average day I found myself exhausted, my brain running in the red zone like a car about to overheat….All of my personal goals had been buried for so long that I was starting to forget what they were.”

Amen to that. I have been there and you probably have too. This friends, is a woman I get. She is unflinchingly real.

Life with a young family feels – more often than not – like only partially controlled chaos, but there is deep and meaningful beauty in it, and Jennifer Fulwiler has found it. As a fellow Catholic convert, mother, writer, and survivor of disastrous supermarket visits and pointed (i.e. ‘unsolicited’) advice from “Green Bean Ladies,” at the supermarket, I salute Jen in this achievement. I love it.

Oh – and Jennifer? – if I were ever to come to your home, I would devour your burnt chicken and bless the hands that prepared it, too.

$250 for Christmas Joy!?!??

$250 for Christmas Joy!?!??
Photo by Mike Arney on Unsplash

On the radio yesterday, a DJ reported survey results. People said they would pay $250 to find Christmas joy – the kind they knew when they were kids. (Apparently, most people surveyed would also be willing to fork over $145 to have someone else wrap their gifts.) Now, I know many people hate gift-wrapping, but $250 for Christmas joy!?!?? Craziness.

I once knew a Jewish man who had tremendous Christmas spirit. When his three sons were very young, they had a devout faith in Santa Claus. They knew all about Santa’s generosity and good cheer, so naturally, they wondered if he would stop at their home come Christmas Eve.

To honor their own holiday traditions – while also sharing the spirit of the season – the man and his wife hatched plan. On Christmas Eve, the family did a little art project, and then the joyful father climbed out a window and onto his roof. As the little boys stood watching in their pajamas, their dad placed a decorated poster next to the chimney. It said:

Dear Santa,

Just a reminder: We are Jewish. You don’t need to stop here tonight. We wish you a VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

Love, The Jacobs Family

Friends, this is the Christmas spirit. And it cost virtually nothing but time and love.

It demonstrates the largest Truth of season: It is NOT about us.

It IS about caring for others and spreading joy because we see that we ourselves have been loved.

But maybe you don’t feel joyful. Maybe you think you have nothing to celebrate because you’ve had a rough year or you’re not with the people you think make your holidays complete.

If that’s the case, try these three steps – now or starting tomorrow – to reignite your Christmas or holiday mojo.

1) Close your eyes and begin a mental gratitude statement. If you believe in a higher power – talk to that power. If not, imagine all of the people closest to your heart standing in front of you.

Express thanks for as many things as you can think of, starting with the immediate and going from there. “Thank you for the fact that I’m breathing. Thank you for my beating heart. Thank you for my hands and feet and brain and muscles and my capacity to feel the ground beneath me.”

Move out into your surroundings, the people in your life, counting each thing consciously and with the understanding that even the trials you face are building character in you. Be grateful for this. Be thankful for what you have learned. Don’t stop your list until you simply cannot go on anymore.

2) Get out of your head. Think of a holiday song you enjoy and sing it out loud. Whisper if you must, but verbalize the cheerfulness you’re starting to feel.

3) Decide that you will give every person you meet today a free gift: your smile. Look each one in the eye – especially the annoying, angry, impatient, or rude ones – and smile, with good intentions. Imagine the individual as he or she might have looked as a child. See each person’s vulnerability and humanness. Pray or simply ponder the following over them: Grant this person peace and comfort.

Why do I recommend these steps?

Because gratitude, hope, and generous actions yield joy.

And true Hope is not wishful thinking, but instead it is the firm expectation that something good will occur based on a pattern of goodness that is now present and has come before.

Hope is open to everyone.

Joy can be yours.

I pray you will find both – free and overflowing – this holiday season.

Do You Get Sick of ‘Perfect’ Posts? Me Too.

Do You Get Sick of ‘Perfect’ Posts? Me Too.

Do you ever look at carefully curated Facebook or Instagram posts and think, “These people are making me sick. I can’t take any more of his/her ‘perfect’ life.”

I’m with you. There are days when I have to shut it all down, reminding myself once again that these worlds are a VIRTUAL reality, not life in itself.

Earlier this week, my husband and I posted a huge block of our 2017 summer vacation photos on Facebook, which we use to stay in touch with far-flung family and friends. It’s a helpful vehicle, and the grandparents have learned to download pictures they’d like to save so that I don’t have to print and mail copies. But as I hovered over the ‘post,’ button, I pondered the implications. Every action has a reaction.

What do people think when they see my family so seemingly carefree?

The truth about a family is what’s happening before a photo is taken, and after.

I’m not going to pretend we have major issues, crises, or drama in our home right now. I’m not going to make this more than it is. But little struggles can be stresses – even on vacation – so here’s a story along those lines.

My daughter ran past me in the hallway of our rented beach house, rushing to the garage. “Oh God,” she said, “My retainer. I’ll find it.”

This kid. Age 11. And her retainer is literally holding things in place while we wait between Phase 1 and Phase 2 of who knows how much orthodontia to make big teeth line up in a tiny mouth.

I knew what she’d done. She’d left it in the mesh side pocket of a chair for 5 hours under the beach tent, which had just been folded up and dragged back to the house minutes before. Bad news all around.

I immediately blamed myself for not remembering to have her leave it at the house in the morning before we’d set out for the day. Instead, she’d had to improvise in our sandy shelter, fearful she’d lose it while playing in the surf.

In the garage, tensions were rising as equipment was tossed about and my daughter explained to her dad what had happened.

“Did you find it?” I interrupted.

“No,” my husband said firmly. “We’re going back to the beach. How much is it going to cost when we don’t find it there?!!?”

He let out an exasperated sigh and they left.

After I told our other two kids what was up, I headed out too.

I talk about God a lot in my blog, not because I expect that all of my readers will share my beliefs, but because my experience shows me that He shows up in my day-to-day.

People think faith is about religious doctrine. But it’s not. It’s about opening yourself up to the possibility that God cares about you. You personally.

So as I walked, I approached Him in honest conversation.

Lord?

I felt His presence like a blanket on my shoulders.

‘Here I Am.’

Thank you for being there. For being… here. For always being here. Even when I’m not paying attention. And I know I haven’t been… paying attention. Not for awhile. I’ve been ignoring you this summer. I’m so sorry.

Thank you for not ignoring us. Thank you for this vacation week. For the great time we’ve been having together. For clearing my mind. For the quiet.

As you know, we’re missing this retainer. I don’t know if we’re supposed to find it. I’m ok with your plan if we’re not. But either way, please bring us your peace. Help us all to be ok with whatever happens next.

St. Anthony – my friend – I wonder what it was you lost and found? You know I hate your rhyme – but if you could ask the Lord for help as well that would be great.

Lord, please help. Please help.

By the time I got to the beach my husband and daughter were giving up. They had searched the spot where the tent had been and looked resigned and defeated. I told them I’d be back when I’d completed my own turns through the sand.

After about 5 minutes of shuffling my feet into layer upon layer of hot earth, I looked up to see my own likeness coming toward me – the 40-ish mom from the generic family that had spent the day 20-some yards away from us – tired and concerned in her wet and sandy bathing suit.

“What are you looking for?” she called out.

I explained.

“What color is it?”

No sooner had I uttered the words, “It’s pink, green, and…” then we both looked down, and two feet ahead, half- buried at a 45-degree angle, there it was.

I held it up and looked at her in amazement.

“Oh my gosh,” I said, breaking into relieved laughter. “Wow! Wow!! This is a beach! I mean, I was praying about it, but… It’s a beach!”

She smiled and said, “That’s what I do, too. I pray too.”

I looked at her straight on. “Thank you!!! Really. Thank you.”

“It wasn’t me.”

I nodded appreciatively.

Because we both knew.

It wasn’t her.

The “perfect” in this life isn’t what WE make of it.

It’s what HE makes.

What Makes a Couple Truly Beautiful?

What Makes a Couple Truly Beautiful?
My grandparents, Allen and Hazel, who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary January 18, 2017. He passed into eternity on January 28, and she followed on March 2.

It seemed like a dream as I pressed the receiver to my ear and heard my dad’s voice.

“Grandma is no longer with us. She’s with Grandpa now.”

She passed late Thursday night. Her decline had been swift. Just 11 days earlier I was in Seattle for my grandfather’s memorial service and she had seemed frail but steady.

But when you lost your spouse of 75 years just weeks ago, and you’ve held out for one final trip down memory lane in the company of family and friends, perhaps you just decide once and for all that enough is enough.

At a certain point, the body won’t hold a soul that wants to go where a body simply can’t.

She was one half of the most beautiful couple I have ever known.

I said on their 70th wedding anniversary that it was my right to put them on a pedestal, and I still believe that it is. Their relationship exuded a quality I seldom see – a quality they would never have thought described them, but then, most people who have this deny it out of sheer humility.

That quality is holiness.

Too often, holiness is associated with religiosity, and this, my grandparents were emphatically, not.

Holiness is something so much more sublime. Divine. An intention of the heart.

As I wrote on their 75th wedding anniversary, which we celebrated together in January:

It has been said that the purpose of marriage is not to make us happy, but instead, to make us HOLY.

I’ve been considering this statement for the last several years. And even if a person does not submit to the idea that our universe – and all that lies within it – is here for a divine purpose, namely, so that we can learn how to live like the Creator – a force of Love with a capital “L” that gives so freely He even wants to live through each one of us….Yes, even if someone does not agree with this heartfelt belief of mine, there is value in considering holiness as a purpose for marriage. And here’s why.

The process of becoming holy is the refinement of a person. It is a gradual sloughing off of all that is flawed in order to move toward perfection in goodness and righteousness – like placing rocks in a crucible and burning away impurities to reveal hidden gold or silver.

When I think about the ideal marriage, this is exactly what happens for the 2 individuals involved.

When it works well, marriage does several things to us and for us. It brings us joy. It brings us love. It brings us companionship for life’s adventures.

Most importantly though, it helps us to understand the long-term benefits of practicing a myriad of virtues such as acceptance, compassion, consideration, flexibility, generosity, humility, kindness, and forgiveness….

A good spouse encourages us, and calls us back toward the best version of ourselves. Over the long haul, there is benefit to both people in choosing:

patience over edginess,

service over self-centeredness,

understanding over egoism,

honesty over deceit,

and unity over division.

Was the path my grandparents took an easy one? Almost certainly not. I’m sure they faced tests and struggles that the rest of our family never knew about. But they passed through those fires and came out stronger and purer because of them.

My grandparents taught me by example what the path of holiness looks like. In their quiet way, they kept faith in God and lived as servants to one another. This, more than any other, is their enduring legacy to me.

Yes, they have left me beautiful memories, family I love deeply, and a few precious mementos, but it’s the love and honor they gave each other that I value the most.

Perhaps that’s why I can’t think of one without the other, and why Grandma couldn’t stay with us any longer than she did.

“Come live with me, and be my love,
And we will some new pleasures prove
Of golden sands, and crystal brooks,
With silken lines, and silver hooks.”
John Donne

 

Grab that Umbrella – Finding Faith for Everyday Storms

Grab that Umbrella – Finding Faith for Everyday Storms

Who are your “heart friends?” The ones you can count on anytime to help you through whatever it is that ails you?

I am blessed with a few, and there are two in particular who pray with me, and for me, regularly. We have a 3-way message group that perpetually stays near the top of my devices, because we lean on one another via texts nearly every day.

As the snow fell yesterday afternoon, this message popped up on my screen:

Can one or both of u spend 5 min praying with me over the phone? I know it’s a snow day so may be too hard to break away I just feel it would be so good. Not urgent and nothing too serious just felt it would be a good blessing to do this.

My friend reached out when the Spirit prompted her, hoping that one or both of us could ‘be’ with her for a time, and it was my privilege to do so. In fact, I could see immediately that our conversation was what had been planned for me.

I’d been feeling a rather nondescript sluggishness all day – the let down after a wonderful Valentine’s weekend away perhaps – but the feeling was also rooted in my lack of trust and faith.

It’s easy to believe you are living a joyful existence when beautiful music plays, the food is delicious, and your eyes have new sights to behold. But when life returns to its normal pace – when the kids are bored during another snow day, a variety of real-world concerns plague your mind, and you are adding to the month’s to-do list while berating yourself for not making things “perfect” – where is the joy then?

It’s in these moments that I turn to my friends – my fellow believers in the world unseen. They remind me of life’s true purpose – that it’s not about how much we accomplish, or whether things turn out the way we expect or hope they will. In fact, there’s a very real chance that nothing will go according to our plans. That while we believe everything is working for our ultimate good – we won’t see this ‘good’ in our lifetimes. Scripture doesn’t promise us a smooth journey, just that we will never be left to navigate it alone.

And I write this from a place of incredible privilege. I am a citizen of a free country and so are my children. I’m in good health and so is my family. I have not known the pain of hunger or poverty. My suffering, compared to that of others, may be small. But is that the point, either?

No. God’s hand is on me and He knows my circumstances and those of my friends, and He’s dropped me into this space and time for His purposes. And as believers we know that we are given His strength, which we can find in one another at the times when we need it most. Our friendship is not mere chance. We were placed in one another’s lives for a reason – to help each other weather whatever storms come.

Last summer, I watched a local theater production of Mary Poppins and I was momentarily struck dumb when the delightful nanny says to her charges, “When will you learn to look past what you see?”

When will you learn to look past what you see-

Learning to see beyond is actually a process of conscious and constant surrender, and it’s not easy. But we are promised the greatest reward possible. Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?” (James 11:40)

So once again, we grab that umbrella of faith, our own or the one we borrow from a trusted friend, and we allow it to lift us higher, to the place of hope and true joy. This is the spoonful of sugar that makes the medicine of life go down.

Take Me Praying

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So we’ve all seen the news reports. We know a few details. A man full of evil entered a House of God in Charleston during a Bible study and killed nine people. Once arrested, he reportedly told police he had wanted to start a race war.

Even before I heard Charleston’s mayor say that a race war will not happen….that the community is coming together in a beautiful way….Yes, back before I’d heard that the victims were well-known, cherished members of the community, I’d had this one thought running through my mind:

Take me praying.

Thinking about your own death is uncomfortable. And certainly, the idea of dying at the hands of a murderer is among the most disconcerting thoughts possible. But when I heard this story from Charleston, my mind went here:

Sometimes, we may wonder whether we are doing God’s will. But I’m sure of one thing. If I’m praying – talking to my Lord – I know I’m doing exactly what He’d like me to do.

So, when my time comes, Lord, take me praying. Please. 

Take me praying.

The nine people for whom thousands mourn tonight were walking in the Light at the moment they met their Father. And despite the horror of the scene, those with faith to see can look past the carnage to what lies beyond. Hope. Eternal Truth.

Darkness came into a place of Light. But the Light will not be overcome.

And what is the response to Evil in the heart of a murderer? 

Light. Accessed through prayer.  

Join with me and millions nationwide who pray for the city of Charleston.

Lord God. Adonai. Emmanuel. You are with us.
We know it is right to give you thanks always and everywhere.
So Lord, we thank you for hearing us, for being present in our suffering.
We lift up our hurting hearts and pray that Your peace will comfort the families and friends of those lost in the tragedy in Charleston.
May they be lavished with Your love.
May they know the strength of Your arms.
While grieving, may they see your Light in every direction they turn.
And may the Good that comes from this terrible event be attributed to You – the One from whom All good things come.
In Jesus name we pray,
Amen
.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

– John 1:5

Exposed, Like Paul

Have you heard of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)? It’s nifty, really. Wikipedia defines it as “psychometric questionnaire designed to measure psychological preferences in how people perceive the world and make decisions.” Click here for more info if you’re interested. But for the point of this story, just know that my ‘type’ is INFP – Introverted, Intuitive, Feeling, Perceiving. In general, and as the chart on that page indicates very briefly, I am “sensitive, creative, idealistic, perceptive, caring, and loyal,” rather than analytical, realistic and systematic. I “value inner harmony and personal growth, and focus on dreams and possibilities,” as opposed to action plans and practical problem solving. It’s not to say that I’m not capable of being or acting in ways different than my so-called ‘type,’ but a person’s ‘type,’ indicates their natural preferences. 

So – my husband and I have had a light, passing interest in Myers-Briggs for basically our whole marriage. And last week, my husband emailed me this funny tidbit about what would be “hell” for my type. (Find yours here.)

INFP  — Your deepest thoughts and feelings are exposed to a large audience and everyone thinks that you’re pathetic and unoriginal.  


I replied:  Guess I should stop writing my blog! 🙂 


So anyway….As I mentioned on Sunday, I’ve been doing this study on Galatians, which was of course written by Paul, one of the people from Scripture that I really want to meet one day. 


Now Paul’s conversion was not a sweet and simple “turning of the heart.” It was a total transformation. In Acts we learn that Paul (formerly known as Saul) consented to the execution by stoning of Stephen – the first recorded Christian martyr, and “was trying to destroy the church; entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment.” (Acts 8:3) Not a nice guy. 


The Paul writing to the Galatians is altogether different: “Am I now currying favor with human beings or God? Or am I seeking to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)


Whoa. When we know the truth about who Paul was before he met the Light of the World, we can see that him calling himself “a slave of Christ” is no small statement. This is a man who is reveling in humility before God. 


And that’s why I admire Paul. As I mentioned Sunday, he didn’t connect with the apostles for 3 years after meeting Christ in that blinding light. And though I mentioned that he relied on prayer, he also had the Holy Spirit, imparting His gifts: wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety, and fear of the Lord (Isaiah 11:2). These things together were tethers to the Father, but they required Paul’s cooperation for their full strength to be revealed. And though I’m not an expert, it sure seems like Paul was among the most cooperative Christians whoever lived. 


And as Paul submitted himself wholly to Jesus, the Lord took Paul’s gifts of intelligence, knowledge of holy Scripture (the Old Testament books), and speaking ability and put them to use building up a kingdom that God has promised “the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against” (Matthew 16:18).

I often wonder what that “thorn in the flesh” was, that Paul wanted removed so badly (2 Corinthians 12:7). Did he get migraine headaches like me? Suddenly have some other physical ailment? Or was it a psychological complaint?  A personality trait he disliked, and of course begged God to remove because he so fully recognized his inability to change himself on his own? Did he have stage fright? Did the people he’d tortured and killed come back to him in his worst nightmares? Was he ever just plain fearful that he wasn’t doing God’s will? Because if he was, I can’t find the proof. His courage, his faith, is astounding.


I won’t have these answers on this side of Heaven. But I will keep learning from Paul by reading his letters. And though it takes courage that I sometimes feel I don’t have, I will try to be like him – going against my INFP ‘type’ – exposing myself, my thoughts, and feelings willingly to new, larger audiences – not to please people, but as a slave of Christ, my Rock, my Redeemer.


  


Day of Rest

When I really do what I’m supposed to do on Sundays – rest – I am deeply blessed.

Yesterday was a great Saturday. My husband and I chauffeured the kids to their activities – daughter’s piano recital, son #1’s Tae Kwon Do tournament, son #2’s soccer game. All good. But by the time we were home, the kitchen floor was scrubbed, two loads of laundry were done, miscellaneous debris from the week was put away, and I had sewn two patches on a Boy Scout uniform, I was ready for this:

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And I was telling the kids, “Go get your own cheese and crackers. These are mine.”

We need down time to refill the wells within ourselves. If we don’t find a way to take care of ourselves, we’ll have nothing left to give to others. Which is why I woke up this morning, grateful that it is Sunday, and slightly thankful, believe it or not, for the ever-so-faint signs of a coming migraine.

After Mass, I did what my body demanded and took a nap. When I woke up, my meds had kicked in and the nap had done wonders, so I sat at the desk beside my bed and dug into the Bible study on Galatians that I’m currently doing with two close friends.

Shocker! In the still of this day of rest, the Lord had something to teach me!

Did you know that for the first 3 years after Jesus revealed Himself to Paul, Paul didn’t consult with the apostles? Instead, he went into Arabia and returned to Damascus. Remember, in that time, there were no Gospels. Paul was very educated in the Torah, but his knowledge of Christ was based first on his personal revelation – when Christ, manifest as a bright, blinding light, called out to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4).

Foregoing contact with the apostles strengthened Paul’s reliance on and personal faithfulness to Jesus Christ alone. He simply couldn’t fall back on anyone else’s faith for inspiration. He relied on that lifeline of connection to God which promises us the same strength that Paul experienced – prayer. And Paul’s testimony changed the world.

Imagine if we all took this day of rest seriously.

“Be still and know that I am God.”

– Psalm 46:10

I Can’t Hear Him

“I can’t hear Him.”

My young son is whispering, and I’m annoyed. It’s Mother’s Day, we’re in church (one of my favorite places), and I’m kneeling down for this sacred moment – the highest point of the Mass. The priest is consecrating the Host and my little boy is insistently chattering in hushed tones in my left ear.  Grrr. I just want quiet. I am not feeling holy.

“I CAN’T hear Him. I’ll NEVER hear His voice. Never!”

‘Uh-oh,’ I think. This is my fault. Try to do a good thing and…oh, well…

See, I was in Target on Saturday and in the $1 bins they had these cute little notebooks. I immediately remembered a suggestion I’d heard recently from Matthew Kelly, founder of Dynamic Catholic and acclaimed speaker and author.  He explains:

Our lives change when our habits change. Get yourself a Mass Journal and bring it to church with you each Sunday. Write down the one thing that God whispers into your soul.  This one habit will change your whole experience of the Mass, your relationship with God, and your appreciation of the Church. This one habit will help you become a-better-version-of-yourself, will make you a more engaged and contributing member of your parish community, and will invigorate your relationships.*

His straightforward idea was brilliant – a perfect way to focus my attention during the service, and on God’s will for me in the week Mass  Journalsahead. One thing. I can do that. And so can my sidekicks.

So, on the way to church I gave each of my kids a notebook and explained the idea.

“Write down the 1 thing God says to you,” I advised. “Not 2, or 5, or 8. Just one.”

My older kids (12 and 9) understood right away and didn’t object because the idea was very simple.  I could tell they were listening in church, and they were writing in their notebooks after the Gospel was read. But my little guy…Hmm.

I knew at the outset I was asking a lot. The kid starts Kindergarten in the fall. He writes his letters, but he can’t read. So, I told him I would write God’s message in his notebook for him. I mean, I couldn’t very well give the other kids a booklet and not him, right? That wouldn’t be fair. And now he says he can’t hear God. I didn’t quite foresee that difficulty, because this is the child who thinks of other people to pray for all the time. Every night during prayers, he asks God to surround everyone in the world with angels and help them have sweet dreams. He likes to read Bible stories and lights up when we talk about Jesus – who is, in his words, “the most, most powerful.” How do you tell a young child that the goodness in his heart is exactly the thing I want him to pay attention to right now?

His angst returned when we did our bedtime routine. I sensed there was more to this, so I pushed a little harder.

“What’s really wrong, buddy? We can put aside the journal until you’re bigger. That’s fine. You’re good boy. Why does this bother you so much?”

“I wanted to hear His voice FIRST!!!” he blurted out.

OH! There’s the rub. He wanted to know what God was saying before his siblings.

I knew we had to move away from the topic; he was just too worked up. So we read a book about spiders and called it a night. But his feelings struck me as universal.

When we’re listening for God, don’t we all want the satisfaction of hearing from him RIGHT NOW? Before anyone else? We love to be ‘in-the-know.’ And yet, sitting in faith can be like sitting in fog. What’s required of us is obedience and submission – the suspension of ourselves and our expectations as we wait for Him. He always fulfills His promises. He loves hearts that are turned to Him. But He’s sovereign. And good things come to those who wait.

“Wait for the Lord; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the Lord.”

– Psalm 27:14

*(Rediscover Catholicism: A Spiritual Guide to Living With Passion and Purpose, p. 205) – request your copy of this book and a Mass Journal at Dynamic Catholic.

Flat Tire

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I turned onto the small street next to my youngest son’s preschool and checked my rearview mirror to make sure no one was behind me.  Then I stopped, rolled down the front passenger window, and handed my phone to my older son (12).

“Take a picture of that taxi’s rear tire,” I said.

“The flat one?”

“Yep. Just the tire. For my blog.”

“Why?”

“Because it’s been like that for two weeks.”

He turned from the open window, his expression a mixture of surprise and judgment.

“Why don’t they fix it!??!” he asked.

“I don’t know. Just take the picture.”

My son’s reaction was exactly the one I expected. To be fair, it’s been mine, too. As the days have passed, I keep wondering why in the world someone doesn’t come out and change the tire, for goodness sake. How hard could it be? And it’s a taxi – of all things. This driver could be out there making money from the use of this vehicle if only he or she would change the tire.

But then again….maybe making this change is harder than I think…

Perhaps the person would need help with the jack and lug nuts, and doesn’t feel comfortable asking any of the neighbors. Worse yet, maybe no neighbors have come forward to offer assistance.

The taxi is not in pristine condition. It is dinged and battered. It’s traveled more than a few roads. The driver might have purchased it on a hope and a prayer, and doesn’t have a spare tire, or funds, to get a replacement. Perhaps this tire was the last straw on this vehicle, and the owner has fallen into despair.

Though spring is here, there is still sickness going around…remnants of flu and winter viruses that knock people out for weeks.  There are more serious diseases too, of course. The driver, or that person’s family, might be ill and need costly medical care.

The possible reasons for this unchanged flat tire are endless. And I will likely never know why the situation is as it is. However, it has made me think: Where is my ‘flat tire’?

What aspect of my life do other people see and say, “She should really fix that”? Is it the way I dress? Or do my hair? Something about my home? Or maybe something less superficial… A relationship? A character defect?  A career choice? A religious practice?

It bothers me to think about that, because I don’t want people scrutinizing my life and making judgments about it. My guess is, you don’t want others to do that to you, either. No one else has the inside scoop on what’s up with me, or you.

Besides, how do I know whether something in my life is a ‘flat tire’ that requires attention and care? That can be tough to see. And how long can it stay ‘flat’ before it’s holding me back from something more that I could be doing with my numbered days? Further, where do I go for guidance and help with changing that ‘tire’?

The answers to these questions are all one and the same. We are told, “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned.” (Luke 6:37) The emphasis in this teaching is not that we are to be concerned with whether other people will judge us, but instead to keep our focus on the Lord, trusting in His promise to “make all things new” – even us. (Revelation 21:5)

So when I’ve filled my head with so many ‘flat tires’ I believe everyone else sees when they look at me, there’s only one way to find real relief. I go into my room, close the door, get on my knees and listen for the “tiny whispering sound.” (1 Kings 20:12)