Reflections On The Journey 

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Meditations

Reflections From Faye

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Advent

Posted on December 2, 2019 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

What are you waiting for?

 

Last week we had a dumping of snow onto our neighborhood overnight. Surprisingly, the city plow came by at 5 am and again at 7:30 am. The driveway plowing service came just after the later city plow, but surprisingly our driveway and one other driveway in our cul-de-sac was missed! We waited and waited, but the little plow didn’t come back until much later.

 

Waiting can be frustrating! Fortunately, my husband and I are retired from the work force, and we can be selective about when we venture forth in inclement weather. As it was not necessary for us to leave our home right away for anything urgent, we just hung out at home, working on projects. But we did experience frustration. Had everyone else not been plowed out, it wouldn’t have seemed so bad…. But as it was we were forced to wait, and when the plow did not show up by the time we had to leave, my husband had to go out and clear off enough snow so we could get one car out of the garage. So much for waiting!

 

We now are in a season in our church year that involves waiting – Advent. This four-week period leading up to Christmas is a season of expectation and waiting. Children who have not grasped the importance of waiting get very antsy as they are forced to wait until Christmas approaches. Adults too can feel a lack of patience as preparations are being made.

 

It IS hard to wait, but it is something we all must do from time to time. We must wait nine months for a child to be born. We may have to wait to get in to see a specialist doctor, and then have to wait to get the test results. Or we have to wait until it is time go on a trip or visit loved ones.

 

But waiting doesn’t mean sitting around idly. While we are waiting we can be preparing. We can read up on how to care for a newborn and set up the nursery, or we could gather necessary information to take with us to the doctor. We may gather maps and plan out excursions we will take on our trip, and figure out what items to pack.

 

Advent preparations are also important. In our house, we set out the Advent wreath with fresh candles, write up the annual Christmas letter, and shop for gifts for our family and friends. But even more importantly, Advent waiting means preparing my heart. It’s a good time to ask myself: am I ready to receive Christ when He comes? Am I doing what God is asking of me during this season of my life?

 

As we begin Advent, I encourage you to ask yourself “What am I waiting for?” Are you waiting for a secular Christmas, or are you waiting for a spiritual one? Then see if maybe there is something you need to change so that what you are preparing for is the right thing. Then wait – with joy and expectation! For blessings come to those who wait.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Creation

Posted on November 25, 2019 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Are you thankful for creation?

 

I was looking in the Book of Genesis the other day, re-reading the stories of Creation. Did you know there are two stories in Genesis! The first (in Chapter 1) recounts the tale of how God formed the earth, creating everything out of nothing over a period of six days. The second (in chapter 2) gives the story of the Garden of Eden and deals mostly with the creation of man.

 

These stories in Genesis may or may not be factual. They were stories written for the people of long ago to try to explain in a way man could understand what happened when God created the world. I believe these stories to be true, at least in a sense. I believe God DID create our world. He created the heavens and the earth, He created the sun moon and stars, He parted the waters and the land, and He formed plants and animals to populate the world. And I believe He created man in His image.

 

Whether all this happened over six “human” days or six “God days” I cannot say. But the timing doesn’t matter to me. And whether it happened exactly as the Bible states, or whether there was some kind of “Big Bang” involved is of no importance to me either. What matters to me is that creation exists.

 

Yes, I know there are people who would argue that our world came about by chance. And I suppose that is possible. But looking at the complexity of our Earth and all its parts and gazing into the vast universe at the millions of stars out there, it just makes sense to me that there is a God who created it all.

 

I find myself continually in awe of the immensity, diversity and beauty of creation on our planet Earth. We have millions of creatures! Scientists say there are over 17,500 species of butterflies, and there are more than 20,000 species of plants that fall just into the daisy family. Amazing!

 

Humans are the most complex creatures of all. Humans have the ability to give to and love each other, and the capacity to create marvelous things ourselves. But we also can use our gifts for evil, and we have the ability to harm creation including each other.

 

Despite these not-so-good attributes, man is still a pretty amazing creation. We are blessed to live in a world filled with extraordinary things, and most of us have more than we really need to survive. Our world is a pretty awesome place, and I am a rather wonderful creature myself. Sure, I have faults and I may not win any earthly beauty contest, but I have some other amazing characteristics and talents that I can use to help and encourage others.

 

In this week of Thanksgiving, hopefully you will be able to take a break from your usual work. I imagine many of you will be spending time with family and friends. You may also enjoy a plentiful meal, play a few games, and share laughter and stories.

 

I hope that as a part of your celebration that you will also set aside a little time to think about all of the creation that you enjoy in some way. Maybe you could even consider what would life be like WITHOUT some of the things God has given you. And then I encourage you to give thanks – not only for the food and fun, but for God’s creation and every blessing that you have in your life.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Small Stuff

Posted on November 18, 2019 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

“Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

 

Most people have heard the phrase “Don't Sweat the Small Stuff, and It's all Small Stuff.” This quote was originally coined by Robert Eliot, reported in a Time Magazine article about stress from the early 1980's. It also appears in Robert’s book entitled Is It Worth Dying For? from the same period. The quote however, is often attributed to Richard Carlson, an author and motivational speaker who became famous with his best-selling book Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff…and it’s all Small Stuff (1997). Regardless of the origin, this quote has impacted many lives, including my own.

 

Like many people, it’s easy for me to get entangled in stress about lots of things and decisions that need to be made. And so I wrestled with the quote, because it seemed to me that it’s NOT all small stuff. Some decisions sure seem to be about “big things” like what career path to choose and whom to marry.

 

But on considering it further, I think the point is The Small Stuff. I know I often spend way too much time worrying about things that really are small and unimportant in the grand scheme.

 

I’ll give you a prime example from last week – one morning my husband wasn’t yet awake when I needed to get ready to leave the house. So I pulled items from my closet, dressed in semi-darkness, and soon was on my merry way. I discovered later that I was wearing a dark blue shirt instead of the black one I had intended to choose to match my black slacks and black and white sweater. I was instantly mentally transported back to that one time years ago when I overheard a woman comment about how awful it was to mix blue with black clothing – and I was the one wearing the blue and black! I was devastated and immediately ran home to change clothes.

 

Not surprisingly, last week the first thought in my head was “what will people think?” But fortunately I also remembered the small stuff quote. Who really cares if I wear blue and black together? And even if they do, should I let that upset me? Absolutely not! And I continued to wear the outfit for the entire day.

 

I often catch myself sweating about the small stuff. What if I oversleep and am late to a meeting? Suppose my dinner guests gets served a dry roast? Or what if I can’t finish a task I had promised to complete by a certain time? Will the world fall apart? Yes, my lapse might result in some ruffled feathers or inconvenience, but life will go on.

 

In my opinion, most of what happens in life is small stuff! So rather than wasting precious time getting upset about all these little things, I am choosing to not worry about them. If I make a mistake, oh well – I will correct it and move on. Instead I am going to focus my time and energy on the big things, like my family and my prayer life. Because in the end, those are the things that are truly most important to me.

 

Are you sweating the small stuff? Maybe this week you could spend a little time thinking about what you worry about and decide if those things are maybe too small and not worth all that worry time. Perhaps you might be blessed instead by focusing on the things that really matter to you. I encourage you this week to not sweat the small stuff!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Connections

Posted on November 11, 2019 at 9:25 AM Comments comments (0)

What does your web of connections look like?

 

I recently heard a priest give a homily about spider webs. My first thought was really? Spider webs? But as I kept my mind open and listened to his words I was rather intrigued by his commentary.

 

We know that spiders build webs of a special silk to catch their food. A spider works very hard, often every day, to spin silk into an intricate pattern of strong threads which are all connected. The spider sits either on the web itself or near it with a thread connected to the web. Because the spider always maintains that connection to his web, he can sense any time there is a disturbance or when prey is caught.

 

The priest’s point about the spider web was the connections. The spider needed strong connections in order to live. And so do we! Although we don’t need to catch our lunch in a web, we still need connections to other humans to maintain a fruitful life. These connections help us in so many ways. We may reach out to someone when we need help, we can stay in touch with our family and friends, and we often network for new opportunities through our connections.

 

Today we have many opportunities for connections. Almost everyone I know has a cell phone, and we have 24/7 connections to people through texting, instant messages and Facebook. We can contact to large groups of people through one little post or speak to someone in the blink of an eye. Today I have a huge web of connections!

 

But I recall one point in my life when my web was very small and broken. I was going to college, and my parents had moved out of state. I was renting a room from an older woman in a neighborhood a few miles from where I grew up. My friends were mostly busy with their jobs or own schooling, and few lived close by.

 

Since this was before internet and cell phones were available, it was much harder to stay connected. At times I felt very isolated. I did not have a car, and I had to rely on a bus to go to school and work. I could use my bicycle to go some places during the warmer months, but I rarely went anywhere besides work and school in the winter. Fortunately, my landlady attended my church and I could get a ride from her, so I was able to maintain that one connection to my faith. But my social connections were somewhat broken or hanging by a thread.

 

It was during this time that I had a rather poor self-image. It didn’t help that I was not very good-looking in the world’s eyes, and since I did not live on campus I had few friends at college. In my attempt to fit in and feel good about myself, there were a few times when I made some poor choices about dating. I did not have a strong support network to help me stay on the level.

 

Looking back on that time in my life, I am surprised that I didn’t make MORE poor choices. It would have been very easy to sink into various sins had those options presented themselves. I was rather lucky that I didn’t make some major mistakes! But maybe that was because I still did have SOME connections – I’m sure my regular attendance at church with my landlady helped quite a bit!

 

I am SO grateful for all the connections I have now. I have a strong web of friends both new and “seasoned,” my faith life is solid, and I have a loving husband and fantastic neighbors. I am so very blessed by this web of support, which has been there for me through many difficulties.

 

What does your web look like? Do you have strong connections to others? Are there some threads of your web that have broken and which perhaps you need to mend? This week I encourage you to look at your connections web. Nurture those connections that are solid and see what you can do to improve those that are a bit broken. A strong web of connections can be a great blessing!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Prepare

Posted on November 4, 2019 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Are you preparing for the right thing?


My calendar just reminded me – there is just a little over seven weeks until Christmas! I often dread this time of year. My days fill up with things that need to be done to prepare for family celebrations and out-of-town visits. I get caught up in cleaning, buying, baking, wrapping, writing cards and mailing gifts. I always hope everything will be perfect, everything will be done on time, and everyone will be happy with the results. Yet while some people are all ready for Christmas before the trick-or-treaters ring the doorbell, I seldom am ready until sometime late in December, and hopefully before the 24th!


I believe it is important to prepare for holidays and visits with family and friends. Good preparations help things go smoothly and results in less stress. And it’s good when things turn out well and people are happy. So I plunge into the preparation bustle. I prepare the places that will be involved in my celebration (like my home), and I work on the things that will be involved (food, gifts, card and the like). But I often neglect preparing something else – something which may not be on my to-do list but which may be even more important than the things on that list.


What I often forget to prepare is my heart and soul.


When one of my Christmas goals is to bake a flawless pecan pie and roast a succulent turkey to feed my guests, I might forget that I also need to feed my soul with daily prayer and the Word of God. When another goal is to have a squeaky-clean home, I may be forgetting about cleansing my heart of my sins. And when a goal is to show off the most exquisitely decorated tree or give equal and expensive presents to all, I could be forgetting about heartfelt charity toward others less fortunate than me who cannot afford a tree or gifts at all.


I need to sit back and think about WHY I celebrate Christmas. Although the family get-togethers are wonderful and necessary, what’s more important is celebrating Christ’s birth and enhancing my relationship with Him.


I don’t think God cares about whether my turkey is moist or dry. I don’t think it matters whether there is a cobweb in the corner of my ceiling or dust bunnies frolicking under my bed. And I don’t think it matters to Him whether I forgot to send a card or gift to someone.


What I think God DOES care about is whether my faith and prayer life is moist and full. I believe it’s important that my heart is cleaned of the cobwebs of sin and I spend time with God. And I think it matters that I think about others and help them to live good and fruitful lives.


So maybe my goals should be different this year. Perhaps a goal should be to have more frequent but less fancy get-togethers with family and friends. Maybe another goal should be to donate more to those who need help. And it certainly couldn’t hurt to go to confession and spend more time conversing directly with God through prayer!


What are you doing to prepare for Christmas? This week I encourage you to think about your preparations – are they the ones that really matter? Perhaps you could make even just one small change in how you prepare this year, to really focus on WHY you celebrate this holiday. Blessings might just be waiting for you!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

History

Posted on October 28, 2019 at 3:15 AM Comments comments (0)

How has history impacted you?


In our travels my husband and I have visited many places in many parts of the world. Each place usually offers something unique, representative of the culture of the people who live there currently as well as who lived there in the past. You may see amazing vistas, archeological sites, and immense buildings erected for religious or governmental reasons. You can experience cultural delicacies and sometimes just peace and serenity.


In today’s world, most foreign places can be reached almost at any item by plane, train, cruise ship or via roadways. And tourism now plays a very important role in the lives of many countries’ inhabitants. For some countries tourism is now their number one industry – they want you to come and visit them and spend your money there!


Long ago, however, visiting other countries was not so easy. Some places were so far from others that the people were often isolated. Ships were necessary to travel from one land to another. Some places could be in a strategic location, such as at a good stopover point on the way from one port to another, and civilizations often battled to control these locations.


A Greek island we just visited was a small one called Patmos, south of Athens. Patmos is only 35 square kilometers in area, and the resident population currently numbers 3,000. However, that number swells to 15,000 during the peak summer tourist season. October is near the end of the tourist season, so the island was not overly crowded, and we had a lovely albeit short visit.


The main attraction for me on this little dot in the sea is a small grotto. This is the place that the Apostle John was sent in exile in the year 95 AD. The islanders, however, did not treat him as an exile. They removed his chains and allowed him to live freely on the island. St. John preached Christianity to the people and baptized many. John spent a lot of time in this cave praying, and it was here that he got his vision of Jesus which told him to write the Book of Revelation, also known as the Apocalypse.


We visited the cave as a group, and since other groups were behind us, we were not allowed to spend many minutes there. We also were not allowed to take photographs inside the grotto. But in that short period of time we were there, we learned a bit about what happened nearly 2,000 years ago right there. We listened to a short reading from Revelation Chapter 1, and I was immensely moved. To think I was there in the very spot where John received his vision took my breath away. And although I do not have a photograph, I will always remember the crack in the rock that split it into three pieces, and the feel of the cool, smooth center point of that crack on my fingers.


When I was young, I didn’t care much about historical events. It didn’t matter to me who fought who or when or why. I was merely concerned about what was happening at the current moment. I did not understand the value that historical events had on me today. It wasn’t until I actually started to visit places where historical events occurred that I began to really understand the importance of them.


I now have a much greater appreciation for history and events of the past. There is a lot of cause and effect between events of the past and what happens today. Of special importance to me are all those historical events surrounding the birth of Christianity and the lives of the faithful throughout the year. If St. John had not been on Patmos, would he have had his revelation? If he (or his scribe) had not written the word as Jesus commanded him, we would not have that important piece of our bible. And if we didn’t have Revelation, we would not understand much of the symbolism in our faith and we would not have as clear an idea of what Heaven will be like.


How have you been affected by historical events? Is there something that you enjoy today that might not have been created if it were not for something that happened in the past? Perhaps sometime during this week you can think about something that occurred long ago which may have affected your life. Or maybe you could just spend a little time learning about the history of a certain culture or ethnic group. You may learn something that will bless you in some way. And even if not, you will have broadened your knowledge about this wonderful world we live in.


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

People

Posted on October 21, 2019 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you celebrate the differences among people?


My husband and I are currently on another trip overseas. We have been so blessed to be able to enjoy traveling as part of our retirement, and we are taking full advantage of tours from some travel agencies as well as doing a few trips on our own while we are still able to do so.


I know we are not the first people to set foot in any given country, but for me it always seems to be an exciting adventure. In each country we visit, we get to meet local people, sample the regional cuisine and experience history in a way that is MUCH more interesting than reading about it in a dusty old history book. I now have a much greater appreciation for other countries and their cultures. And I delight in listening to people speak in their particular inflections, even though I usually cannot understand what they are saying.


What I experience in my home state of Minnesota is quite different than the life experienced by others across the globe. Yet each culture has some unique aspects that make them who they are, and each is valuable in its own way.


Except for the modern conveniences we have today, life really isn’t so much different now than it was so many years ago. Whenever I travel, I think about the billions of people who have lived on this earth over the past centuries. Many of them traveled also, but on foot, by camel or horseback, or in carriages. They lived and worked in communities. They ate food similar to what I eat now, and most importantly they enjoyed relationships with their families, friends and business associates just as I enjoy relationships with mine today.


Although the people I encounter in my travels may dress differently than me, speak a different language or practice a different religion, they are all people, and all have been created by our God. We all live, love and laugh. And I find no reason for me to think that I am any better than any one of them.


By experiencing these different cultures and coming to a better understanding of why they live the way they do, I have become more broad-minded and welcoming of all people. Even though I may disagree with some of their thoughts and practices, I can still respect them, learn from them and value them as children of God. And we can agree to disagree.


What people do you encounter in your daily life? Chances are many of them are different from you in some way. And you may even be reluctant to like or get to know them because of those differences. But I challenge you to try to think a little differently this week about others. Perhaps today you could stop and savor a few of those differences. Find out something you can learn from them or from their culture. And who knows, you may be blessed because of it!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Ask

Posted on October 14, 2019 at 7:15 AM Comments comments (0)

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt. 7:7)


This prayer from the Gospel of Matthew is one that I love. It is also one that causes me to question. Jesus told his disciples and us that if we ask, we will receive. This passage encourages prayer – to regularly ask for what we need. Jesus also taught us this when he gave us the words of The Our Father prayer.


So I regularly pray for various needs – asking that God will hear and answer my prayers. I pray for positive test results from doctor visits, quick healing from an illness or injury, and for peace and calm in the midst of a storm. I ask for these things for myself, my family, my friends and even for people that I do not know.


I know that when I ask I must leave all the “work” needed to accomplish these things in the hands of God. But I also need to TRUST – that God will answer the prayers that I ask.


The problem comes for me when I don’t seem to get an answer to my prayers, or I don’t get the answers that I want. When that injury lingers on or the friend does not get well, or when the storms of life continue to rage, I wonder if God really heard me asking for help. Or I may think that perhaps He chose to ignore my request or to even to give me a new problem to manage. It’s then I can easily become discouraged.


That’s where faith and trust is so important! I must remember that I am not God. I do not know the whole story behind the problems. I do not know what the best outcome is for a particular situation. God is the only one who knows! And He may know that having an injury linger on will cause the person to soften or be more receptive to His love. God likely knows if allowing an illness to persist or worsen will eventually lead someone closer to Him. And He knows when a devastating storm will cause thousands of people to give unconditionally of themselves to rebuild it, thus improving those individuals' characters.


The Bible assures us that God DOES hear our prayers. But we also have to ask properly, and in accord with God’s will and plan. When we ask due to our own selfish desires, God will likely not hear or act on our prayers. James 4:3 says “When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.”


God always answers our prayers, but He only answers them in His time and according to His desires. And so I must learn to be patient (to wait for His timing) and to ask with the provision that it be according to God’s will. I have found it can be very hard to pray in this fashion. Yet when I trust that God WILL answer my prayers (in His way) I more often feel at peace. And I can keep asking. And eventually I usually see the answer, even if it is not what I had hoped.


Is there something that you wish to ask of God? Go ahead and ask! Ask Him, that if it is His will, He will hear your prayer and act on it. Then trust that God will answer your prayer, in some fashion, in the best way possible. Have faith that God really does know what’s best and will give you what you need when you ask. God loves to bless us – sometimes we just have to be patient and wait.


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

Storms

Posted on October 7, 2019 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

What storms are you facing?


In the past few months the news has been filled with stories of storms which have ravaged parts of our earth. Hurricane Dorian took out a good portion of the Bahamas, and recently Hurricane Lorenzo raged in the Atlantic Ocean even reaching as far as the Azores Archipelago. Some people say that global warming has played a major part in the increase in storms.


But there are many other “storms” that are not nature-related which can be every bit as devastating as those natural ones. People all around us are experiencing storms every day - fighting cancer, surviving the loss of a loved one, or battling depression. Yet sadly, often a stigma is associated with these personal storms, and those affected often hide their issues and pain, even from those closest to them, and often we are unaware of the struggles they face.


I imagine many of you have faced personal storms in your life. I have too – if you read back through my previous blogs you will learn about some of them. And I know how hard it can be some days to just get out of bed and face the latest in a seemingly endless series of gusts and lightning bolts attacking us. Yet I also know that when I am in the midst of one of these storms I need to reach out to someone for help. That person may not be able to take the storm away or even calm it for me, but they can at least hold my hand and listen to me as I vent, and maybe even provide a bit of a shield to reduce the storm’s force. And it also helps me to pray – for continued faith that the storm will eventually pass, for strength to make it through, and for direction to find the best way out.


Are you facing a storm in your life? What storms have you faced recently? Whenever a storm appears in your life, I hope you will reach out for help. Find a friend who can walk with you through the storm. Ask God for assistance too. You never know when a blessing might pop up like a little umbrella to shield you in your storm.


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Heaven

Posted on September 30, 2019 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Have you had a taste of heaven?


What is heaven? Most of us have likely heard a description of heaven. There are books and movies which talk about what heaven is like. We have read cartoons and quotes by famous people depicting heaven. The Bible refers to heaven several times – the dove descending from heaven onto Jesus at His baptism, and that Jesus’ death and resurrection have opened heaven to us when we die.


But what really is heaven? Good old Google popped up a definition stating heaven as a place regarded in various religions as the abode of God (or the gods) and the angels, and of the good after death, often traditionally depicted as being above the sky. We are often told it is a wonderful, loving place, and maybe we are surrounded by angels singing majestically. But we probably won’t really know until we actually get there.


And yet some people say there is a heaven on earth.


I don’t know about you, but I have had some very “heavenly” experiences. I recall when I held each of my sons for the first time and the immense joy which rushed through my body at the sight of those precious little ones. Then there are those times when I am sitting in the chapel, deep in prayer, and I feel warmth all around me – I sense the presence of God and peace calming me. Even when I collapse in bed after an exhausting day, when I review the events of the day and I realize I have significantly helped someone, there is a satisfaction that goes beyond an earthly delight. For me, these experiences are close what I envision heaven to be like.


I believe Heaven can be tasted on earth in some of the ordinary things we do or experience each day. When we are surrounded in love, joy and music, when we experience no pain, and have memorable experiences of encounters with people and delightful experiences with various activities in life - these little joys seem to be a foretaste of what our final heaven will be like.


When have you experienced a bit of heaven on earth? Perhaps it was when you spent time with an important person in your life, or during a significant event. Or just maybe it was just in little things – the scent of a lovely rose, a majestic rainbow spreading through the clouds after a storm, or a child giggling over a new toy. If you don’t immediately recall a little slice of heaven here on earth, I challenge you to spend a little time this week thinking about that. I suspect you will find you have been blessed by many bits of heaven during your life, and you can use them as a foretaste of what is yet to come.


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net


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