Reflections On The Journey 

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Meditations

Reflections From Faye

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Surrender

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)


“O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!”


I admit – I am a doer. If something needs to be done, and I am asked to do it, I will. I’m also sort of a perfectionist… so I will do the task in the best way I know how. Although I don’t think anyone would call me a true control freak, I DO like to organize things!


It’s also hard for me to ask for help. I guess I’m afraid that if I were to ask for help it may be perceived that I am weak or incapable. But that means I tackle things by myself that I shouldn’t. Or I take on too much. As my husband often reminds me, I frequently pile too much on my plate, and something slips off. And what results is stress, which in turn can generate a feeling of hopelessness.


Now there is nothing wrong with doing things and doing them well. We all should strive to give every task our best effort. But sometimes we CAN’T do it by ourselves. Often we don’t have all the tools we need to accomplish the task. And we can’t control every situation. Others’ efforts may conflict with ours. Therefore we need to ask for help – from family, friends, and most of all from God.


A word that has cropped up periodically in stressful situation is “surrender.” It seems God places this word before me at strategic times when He wants me to take a look at what I’m doing and surrender myself to Him.


A perfect example is from years ago, during the time when I was working through difficulties in my marriage. “Surrender” kept popping up - in the titles of books and while listening to songs on the radio. And when I finally got the hint and surrendered my problem to God, it became easier to manage the situation.


Surrender also popped up just a few weeks ago in a novena given to me by my spiritual director. At the time, I was juggling several things in my life, and in talking about it with my director I realized I would not be able to handle it all if I did not surrender myself to God. I began to pray the novena daily, and it has helped me to remain calm and surrender myself. And guess what? Things are getting done! And getting done well!


How about you? Are you facing some challenges in your life? Are you taking on too much responsibility and not letting others help? Maybe you could benefit from some surrendering, like I did. Ask God to help! You may find it beneficial to repeat this phrase from the novena I have been praying: “O Jesus, I surrender myself to you, take care of everything!” You may find yourself better able to manage your life.


May you be blessed in surrendering!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Treasures

Posted on July 8, 2019 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

What do you treasure?


I am blessed to have many “treasures.” Some of them are ones that allow me to feel secure – like a decent home, a car that runs well, and enough money in my retirement account to live comfortably.


Several things I own I would also consider to be treasures: my wedding ring symbolizing my husband’s love and fidelity, some cards and pictures that I have received over the years from my sons and grandchildren, and many photographs depicting my family members at various stages of their lives. These are the things I would likely grab first in the event of a fire at my home.


But I feel I need to have some caution about these physical treasures. Why? Think about the verses in Matthew 6:19-21 which state: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”


These verses remind me that physical things are really not the most important treasures that I have. So what other treasures do I have that are not physical, ones which cannot be stored in a box, ones that count as treasures in heaven? Well, I have many!


I treasure the memories I have of good times spent with friends and family. I treasure the knowledge that I have gained over the years. I also count my spiritual gifts among my treasures, such as the spiritual knowledge that grew as I learned more about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit over the years and the more mature faith I have now as the result of Bible and catechism studies.


Friends too are treasures! Those faithful friends who have traveled with me through the difficulties on my journey are highly valued treasures. To know I have people I can count on for help is a tremendous gift. And the love of my immediate and extended family is a treasure too.


What treasures do you have? Perhaps you have received some words of wisdom from a mentor which has stuck with you or maybe prompted you to make a change in your life. Maybe your treasures include your family and friends, and possibly you have many wonderful memories made over the years.


I encourage you to think a bit this week about your treasures. And whatever you count as your treasures, I hope you keep them safe – ideally in the safety of your heart. Then pull them out now and then to savor and enjoy. And may these treasures provide you with many blessings!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Charitable Giving

Posted on July 1, 2019 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

How much do you give?


It seems like every other day I get something in the mail or via email asking me to give to this or that organization or cause. And once you give to a charity, you are on their list forever! I have had to contact more than one to take me off their list. It’s not that I don’t think their charity is worthwhile – that are many good causes and valuable charities deserving of my money. But I have a limited budget, and I must decide where I will spread my dollars.


My husband and I have our favorite charities that we donate to every year. We have been giving to many of them for as long as we can remember, and those dollars are included in our yearly budget.


One of our consistent causes is our local Catholic Church. We have been members there for years, and we have used many of the resources they provide, especially when our children were younger. These days we don’t personally use many of their services, but we know that other families need those resources, and we are very glad we can provide for them. Our local church serves our community, and we are proud to stand with them in their efforts to help others.


We also have a “discretionary” budget for other causes that come up during the year. These requests may be for a memorial for a deceased friend, supporting a particular family in need, or a response to some kind of appeal.


Whenever I get a new request to donate, my first response is to see whether the cause aligns with my own faith values. If their values and mine match, I will consider it. I also will check out the organization to ensure it is legitimate and they use their funds wisely. One tool I use is the Charities Review Council (www.smartgivers.org), which reviews and rates charities based on a number of criteria.


Usually the amount we give is fairly consistent from year to year. But every so often we stretch ourselves. We can certainly give up a few things and choose to help others instead. Sometimes it may hurt to give, but that’s ok – God calls us to help our fellow man. And when I give up something up to add to my donation, I feel a little extra satisfaction.


Do you regularly give to others? If you are, I encourage you to keep doing so. If not, perhaps you could start. I also encourage you to consider giving just a little more, whether your gift is to one charity or several. Giving a little more than planned may “hurt” a bit, but I believe you can do it! You may even find a new blessing because of your extra gift!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Show Up!

Posted on June 24, 2019 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

“Just show up and things will happen.” – Mother Teresa


Have you ever had one of those days when you just don’t feel like doing anything? I do. On days like these I usually have some unpleasant task to do, or I need to attend a meeting when I am not prepared. I’d rather go back to bed than face what needs to be accomplished.


I think we’d be hard pressed to find someone who was always all smiles and ready for anything…. The only person I can think of who might have been like that is Jesus! The rest of us, well, we are human and we have bad hair days. We fear that things will go wrong or we just don’t think we have what it takes to do a good job.


Lack of confidence in ourselves is a trait of humanity. But let’s face it - no one is 100% ready all the time. We often feel we don’t have the answers we need and we are not prepared.


That’s ok, though. Sometimes we just have to show up anyway. We must put aside the objections and the insecurities we feel and take that next step on our journey. We have to come as we are – tired, hurting, messy, or whatever.


Brené Brown in Daring Greatly said “Sometimes the bravest and most important thing you can do is just show up.” I think she is right - it’s not about being perfect or feeling completely ready. It’s about trying, regardless of how we feel. We have to show up, and trust that things will somehow work out.


I’ve been amazed sometimes when I am not prepared but I show up anyway. Take the time this past week when I was supposed to prepare a song for the daily service but I forgot all about it. I remembered on the way to church, and my only choice was to show up anyway and trust that the Spirit would show me a song that matched the reading. I turned a few pages in the hymnal and there it was, a perfect song. I showed up, and it turned out just fine.


I also believe that sometimes the best thing we can do for someone else is to just show up. When a friend has lost a loved one or suffers from a serious illness, I may hesitate to visit them because I think I don’t know what to say. But it’s not necessary for me to utter lengthy words of encouragement (although it is fine if I do) – sometimes the best thing you can do is to just show up and be there for that person. They may not need words at all - a hug or pat on the hand may be the only thing they need at that moment.


God understands that we are not perfect. And I think all God expects us to do is to show up. Luke’s gospel tells us that “the Holy Spirit will give you the words to say at the moment when you need them.” (Luke 12:12) We just have to trust in Him that it will work out.


The next time you feel reluctant to do something, remember the words of St. Teresa of Calcutta - “Just show up and things will happen.” Trust that God has put you exactly where you need to be, and it will all work out. Who knows – some unexpected blessing might just fall into your path!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Flowers

Posted on June 17, 2019 at 7:10 AM Comments comments (0)


Flowers are a beautiful gift!


I don’t know about you, but I like flowers. In the springtime, the scent of the new lilacs has almost a magical effect on me! Lilies of the valley, tulips and irises of assorted colors pop up at this time of year, and gardens become a welcoming place for those who enter their depths. Even many trees bud out with flowers.


As the summer progresses more varieties of flowers appear. I no longer plant a garden, but I adorn my patio with hanging geraniums, begonias and impatiens, and I usually buy a hibiscus to place in the corner. It is such a joy to see bees, butterflies and hummingbirds attracted by the colors and scents.


Thanks to greenhouses and floral shops, we can have fresh flowers at any time of the year. You can even find flowers at most grocery stores! I am always pleased when my husband brings home a bouquet. It doesn’t matter what kind of flowers they are or where he got them… just the fact that he thought about me when he bought them brings a smile to my face.


God has graced our world with a magnitude of colors in His immense varieties of flowers. I believe He thought we needed beauty in our world which sometimes can be dark and dreary, and I am quite thankful for the flowers He has created. Observing the delicate petals and enjoying the fragrance of the blossoms brings me joy and peace in a world sometimes too full of chaos.


Have you experienced the gift of flowers lately? I encourage you to take time this week and enjoy some flowers. Visit a floral shop, a conservatory or botanical garden, or even a neighborhood garden and enjoy the gift of flowers. You may find a beautiful blessing!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Your Voice

Posted on June 10, 2019 at 6:35 AM Comments comments (0)

How appropriately do you use your voice?


Most humans have an incredible gift called the voice. We begin using it at birth to call attention to our needs and as we grow, we learn how certain sounds fit together to form speech. We use our voices to sing, express our emotions and communicate with others.


The ways we can use our voices are amazing! We can say the same word in many different tones to convey meaning way beyond the definition of the word. Your tone can cause you to sound angry, happy, perplexed, concerned or silly, just by how you say a particular word or phrase. If you are feeling adventurous, take the phrase “we won” and say it in different ways: questioning, excited, bored, softly – you get the picture! How many ways can you say it to convey different meanings?


Because we have this great flexibility in using our voices, we also need to take a few precautions when we say things! You have probably heard the phrase “think before you speak.” Well that makes a lot of sense to me! Instead of just blurting out a response to someone, I believe it would be better to not only think about the WORDS I want to say but also consider HOW I will say them. Do I want to sound snooty? Do I want people to think I don’t understand? Do I want to convey that I care? My tone of voice will make all the difference in how my words are perceived.


I know there are times when I speak harshly instead of lovingly toward others. When I realize that, I try to be quick to apologize for my words and my tone. I also need to think about why that happened… did it have to do with who I was talking to? Or maybe it was just that I was in a bad mood and I took it out on the other person. I am asking God for help in the use of my voice - to learn from my mistakes and become a better communicator.


This week I encourage you to think about how you use your voice. Pause before you speak (if possible) and figure out how best to say something. If there is a circumstance where you have trouble using a good tone, it can’t hurt to ask God for help! I’m sure He will help you find the right voice. May you find blessings in how you use your voice this week!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Put Others First

Posted on June 3, 2019 at 8:40 AM Comments comments (0)

How often do you put others first?


Have you ever put someone else ahead of yourself? Perhaps like me you may have held a door open for a mom juggling a pair of toddlers. Maybe you offered that last piece of chocolate cake to your spouse instead of gobbling it up yourself. Or maybe you opted to spend many days or months helping a beloved friend who was seriously ill. In all of these situations you were showing love.


In putting others first, sometimes you may not expend much effort at all. (It really didn’t hurt THAT much to give up the cake…) But maybe opting to spend time with that friend meant you had to give up other things that you wanted to do.


Making the choice to put someone else’s needs first can be a real challenge. It takes love to give things up for the sake of another. And love is not always easy. It may involve inconvenience and or even suffering. You may be required to make a sacrifice in order to put someone else’s needs first. But this sacrificial love is also very rewarding.


Whenever I choose to put someone else’s needs before my own I am practicing love. For me, showing love has meant giving up clothes for myself so that I could put feed my children, and skipping my favorite TV show to play Legos with my sons. It has meant rearranging activities so I could care for my grandchildren.


I have a friend who put others first by working extra shifts to bring in some needed cash. Another friend sat for hours by her husband as he suffered through a serious illness. And I could name countless other examples of this kind of love.


One of the greatest examples of putting others first is Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s difficult to understand just how much agony he must have felt during his torture and death. Yet he did it for you and for me. He put our need for redemption before his own life. Romans 12:10 says “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”


I hope I am never called on to expend that much suffering in order to put another person first. But I do hope that I will see things I can do for others in order to put them first. One of my favorite quotes from St. Teresa of Calcutta is “You may not be able to do great things, but you can do small things with great love.” So I will try to do as many “small things” as I can.


When was the last time you put someone else ahead of you? I encourage you to look closely to see if you can find at least one thing you can do each day this week that involves a bit of a sacrifice to show love to someone else by putting them first. You may find that the effort was not so great as you thought. Or it might require some struggle. But I suspect you might also receive some blessing in return! Think about it and see what you might be able to do this week to put others first.


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Mountains

Posted on May 27, 2019 at 7:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Have you had a mountain-top experience?


I recently returned from a trip to Colorado. My husband and I stayed at a mountain resort, and to get there we had to drive through the Rocky Mountains. It seemed each time we went up and over a pass, snow fell lightly or fog covered the road, and we had to be careful driving. But persistence allowed us to cross the pass and make it to our resort nestled among the hills.


We also drove up Pike’s Peak one day. We could only go as far as mile marker 16 due to snow and ice on the road above, but still it was quite the experience. The drive up was rather scary as we negotiated the tight switchbacks and passed other vehicles on the somewhat narrow road. But the day was sunny and we stopped a few times to admire the view. We were able to see for miles. With wind whipping briskly around us, we didn’t stay outside the car very long at our last stop (at 12,780 feet) – but long enough to throw a few snowballs and take some photos.


I have been fortunate to see and ascend many mountains over the years. I have been on mountains in several U.S. states and in Canada. On a trip to Nepal we were blessed to view the Himalayas, and I got to glimpse Mt. Everest from the plane. It is awe-inspiring to think of the forces of nature that created these earthen monuments. Millions of years and just-right conditions pushed up the rocks to create such magnificent formations.


Sometimes people talk of “mountain-top” experiences – experiences where their eyes were opened to something new and wondrous or something momentous occurred. The Bible is rife with these – think about Moses receiving the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai and Jesus’ Transfiguration on Mt. Tabor. You have probably heard many people talk about similar experiences in their own lives.


I’ve had some mountain-top experiences too. Last fall I was privileged to celebrate mass with my tour group on Mt. Tabor. Standing near the spot where Jesus and his disciples stood was a bit overwhelming. And several years ago I took a trip to Medjugorje and spent time on Apparition Hill and climbed Cross Mountain. In each of those places I felt God at work within me. It’s hard to explain exactly what transpired at each of those holy places, but on each mountain I became more connected with God, the Holy Spirit or Mary in some special way.


Although not all of us will be able to take trips that will lead us up a physical mountain during our lifetime, we each have times in our lives when we can have a mountain-top experience. Sometimes it may come when we struggle with something, and the way poses a challenge like a climb up a mountain. At some point in this journey we may learn something new that we would not have learned had we not gone through the challenge. Or you may have such an experience while at prayer.


Have you had a mountain-top experience? If so, I encourage you to spend a little time this week and recall that event – the circumstances around it, and what you learned from it. If you can’t remember one right now, it’s probable that God has something planned for you in the future - you may just need to wait for it!


My gift to you this week is a poem I wrote in Medjugorje while on Apparition Hill. I took a walk by myself one afternoon up the path of the Stations of The Cross, and the words came as I sat on a rock overlooking the rough path I had just journeyed. I hope you will find some blessing from it this week.


Apparition Hill

I climb the hill in the gray of the dawn.

The stony pathway is my journey in life.

Rough rocks protrude everywhere, the craggy, sharp points of sins.


I pick up one of the rocks, a burden from my past that I carry with me.

I will carry it now and feel its weight in my hand,

Pressing against my flesh as my failures press in on me.


The path of my life is not smooth nor easy.

The jagged rocks of my sins are everywhere,

And I fumble as I try to avoid them in the grayness of my soul.


I stumble and fall because I cannot see past my failures.

Yet I continue on, climbing ever higher,

Struggling through my pain and sorrows to reach you.


Wisps of light appear over the hill, and gradually the path becomes clearer.

The sad, painful story of my past is laid before me.

I pause at each station, catching my breath, reflecting on my life.


O Mary, you came here to call us to conversion.

Help me now to place my burdens at your feet.

May my sins be lifted from me by your gracious hands.


May your peace rush into my heart and envelop my soul with joy.

And when the time comes for me to descend this mountain,

May I live that joy and peace.


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Breathe

Posted on May 20, 2019 at 1:40 PM Comments comments (0)

How often do you stop and just breathe?


Everyone of us breathes, all the time. We would not be alive if we didn’t breathe! Oxygen is needed for life. Yet breathing is something we seldom thing about, since the capacity to breathe is “hard-wired” into our bodies. God created that within us!


Whenever I get a cold, I become very aware of my breathing. It is challenging to struggle to get in enough air when my nasal passages are clogged or my lungs are congested. Fortunately I have a few tricks I use to help my breathing when this happens, and I am very grateful when I can breathe normally again! And I am currently dealing with a bout of bronchitis, and I have become very aware of how a person with asthma must feel trying to take in breaths.


People who meditate or wish to relax often focus on their breathing. They use voluntary breath control by inhalation, retention and exhalation which is performed quickly or slowly, depending on the need.


Singers too are usually quite conscious of their breathing. They need enough air to sustain their notes, and breath can also be used to impart texture to their voices. Taking deep breaths from the diaphragm is encouraged to develop strong breath techniques. This does not come naturally for me, so I must be very mindful of my breathing when I am singing.


I have found it very beneficial to stop periodically and just breathe. I don’t follow any particular meditation techniques, but I have found mindful breathing to be a good way to help me relax. I can also use my breathing to reconnect with God. One tool I use is on Christian radio - whenever I hear the song “Breathe” by Jonny Diaz I try to stop and focus on my breathing. The refrain goes like this: “Breathe, just breathe; Come and rest at my feet; And be, just be; Chaos calls but all you really need is to just breathe.” Yes, just breathe.


If you have not stopped to just breathe for a while, maybe you’d like to give it a try. It’s not hard, and you might find some real benefits and blessings from just breathing. Focusing on your breath can help you reconnect with God, too. If you need a little guidance in this, you may enjoy this reflection that I wrote this week.


Breathe


Be still and breathe.


Breathe in.

Take in a deep cleansing breath,

Push aside the world for a while.


Breathe out.

Let go of the distractions of life.

Release the tension pent up inside.


Breathe in the Spirit.

Let Him fill your being.

Let Him give you grace.


Breathe out your worries.

Drain the fears from your mind.

Give up your anxiety about something.


Breathe in Love.

Sense Love’s warmth enter and permeate your flesh.

Experience the sweet tingle of grace.


Breathe out.

Let the feelings of disquiet leave

Place your problems into God’s hands.


Breathe in.

Let God’s spirit infuse your soul.

Feel His calm inspire you.


Be still and breathe.


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Encounters

Posted on May 13, 2019 at 8:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Have you had an encounter that changed your life?


Unless you happen to be a hermit, chances are every day you will interact with people. We speak to our family members, coworkers and neighbors. We pass people on the street and in the store. We volunteer with others at church. And we may even have a chance to meet a well-known person at a book signing event or conference.


How do these encounters affect us? I think most of our encounters with others are casual - meetings with everyday folks who are just like us. We get out of these meetings just what we expect: casual conversation, day-to-day transactions, and maybe a little fun and laughter.


Just look at the many “random” encounters we have in our lives. Those of us who have Facebook accounts can scroll through the news feed and “encounter” friends in what I would call a rather impersonal way. Hitting “like” may convey something to the sender of the post, but in my opinion this doesn’t really make a connection to that person – I may only gain a bit of information about them from their post, and they get little from me as well. Adding a comment to the post does provide a bit of a “two-way” conversation, but most of these conversations are superficial. I don’t really “connect” with most of my Facebook friends.


The interactions I have with people I transact business with, such as a store clerk, might be a little bit better – I might at least exchange a word or two with them. But I usually learn nothing personal about them other than their name from their name tag.


But encounters I have with people on a committee, at an event or over a meal – these are usually higher-quality encounters. We can ask each other questions, we can delve into certain topics, and we can learn something about the other person. I leave these encounters feeling like I have truly connected in some way. I have had an opportunity to get to know them. I can learn about their families, their jobs, or any number of relevant subjects if I just take the time to ask a few good questions and listen to the answers.


But how many of these encounters make an important impact in our lives?


Fortunately, I can think of many encounters and events that I would consider extremely important in my own life – encounters which impacted my direction and focus. Some examples include the bus ride where I met my best friend, the counseling session where I made an important decision about my difficult situation, late-night conversations with good friends, and of course the dance where I met my husband. Happy 29th, dear!


Illustrations of many encounters with Jesus abound in the New Testament. Meeting Jesus and talking with him had a major impact on people – take the woman at the well, for example. She changed her ways and became an evangelizer all because of an encounter with the Lord. I have also had important encounters with God which have blossomed my faith life. I fondly recall that special retreat where I re-encountered Jesus and redirected my faith, and the special times in adoration where I encountered the Holy Spirit in a deep way.


These encounters made a huge difference in my life. I realize that I am not a solitary creature – I need interactions with others. I would not be a very healthy person if I had not met and spent quality time with various people over the years. And I need to continue to reach out to others. I never know when some special spark will ignite something due to an encounter with another person.


How about you – are you taking time to have some deep and meaningful encounters with others? How well do you know the woman who lives next door to you? How about the person who works with you on that committee? Have you encountered Jesus lately? I encourage you to take some steps to turn a future encounter into a really meaningful one. Spend quality time with the person and get to know them. Ask questions and show your support by listening. You’ll be blessing them, and probably you will gain blessings as well.


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net


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