Reflections On The Journey 

Subtitle

Meditations

Rest and Refuge

Posted on September 14, 2020 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

I don’t know of anyone who likes to get sick. I know I don’t. And yet it happens periodically. Every year I get some kind of cold which brings me down for a few days. I may have to cancel some activities because I don’t feel the best, but I recover and things are fine.

 

This year was no exception. Last week I felt a slight sore throat one day, and of course my mind turned upside down and ran overtime wondering if this was the onset of Covid. I cancelled my dental appointment and stayed home.

 

But there is an upside to not feeling the best. On that day I forced myself to rest and take care of myself, something I often forget to do. I worked a bit on my to-do list, caught up on some financial stuff and deleted old emails. But mostly I just rested in my home refuge, our basement family room. I curled up with a hot beverage and a good book, and I even took a few naps, another thing that I seldom do. And I enjoyed watched the birds come to the feeders.

 

Thankfully by the end of the day I felt much better, and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief and get back to my “normal” life.

 

But my day of rest reminded me that resting is so very important. We need breaks from our “normal” lives, to rejuvenate our bodies as well as our minds. God wants us to rest, too. He himself rested on the seventh day of creation, and He instructed his people to rest on the Sabbath.

 

And we need a safe place, a refuge, where we can go to find that rest. At home, that place is my basement. Away from home, I find refuge in nature and in the Chapel at my church. But ultimately I need a spiritual place of refuge and rest, and for me, that place is Jesus. The beauty of having Jesus as my refuge is that I can access him anywhere, at any time. All I need to do is pray, and His peace comes to me.

 

We all need refuge – so today I want to give you another poem, titled “My Refuge.” May you be blessed with a place of refuge in your life.

 

 

My Refuge

 

Where is my refuge, O Lord of grace?

Where will I find it? Where is that place?

 

Where is the calmness I seek for my soul;

The feeling of being perfected and whole?

 

When I need refuge, security, love;

I only need to look high up above.

 

Just close my eyes and then open my heart;

Let my Lord’s deep love in grace do its part.

 

The gift of sweet refuge is easy to see;

Refuge is anywhere that I might be.

 

Refuge is found in my family so dear;

Sisters in Jesus, all lending an ear.

 

Refuge is found is a special retreat;

Lingering, pondering our faith so sweet.

 

It is in nature, hearing the sounds;

Seeing the beauty; creation abounds.

 

Refuge is found when I just sit and muse

On Scriptural verses that form the Good News.

 

Refuge is tasting the sweet Bread of Life;

Nourishing, lifting me far from my strife.

 

God is my refuge, my fortress and shield;

He will sustain me and make my heart yield.

 

He will grasp hold of my spirit and soul;

God is my refuge in whom I am whole.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 

Try, Try Again

Posted on September 7, 2020 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Well, I did it again. I made a mistake, and I hurt someone. I apologized later, once I realized how what I had said hurt the other person, but the guilt hit anyway. I was tempted to tell myself that I was a failure. Had I listened, I might have dragged myself down further. But fortunately, I didn’t listen. Instead, I tried again.

 

We all have days like that, don’t we? We do so much stuff and become tired, and our guard slips and something comes out you didn’t mean to say. We fail – all the time! And then we must ask for forgiveness. Yet the cycle repeats itself the next day or the next week.

 

It’s hard when I find myself in the confessional repeating the same sins. Oh yes, I do try to improve, but I still fail. And it’s hard to admit, especially to another live human being. The good news is that human is acting in the place of God.

 

And so, yet once again, I slowly come to God’s feet as a humble, sinful person. But every time He unfailingly forgives me! It doesn’t matter how often I make the same mistake, if I come to Him in sorrow, and promise to do better, God gently holds my hand and tells me I am forgiven. God is so happy that I am repenting! He also gives me some extra grace to help me in the future. And when I step out of that room, I am lighter and I really do try again to improve myself.

 

Have you been making a few mistakes here and there like I have? Do not berate yourself. Go instead to the One who loves you more than you can ever know. Whenever you ask His forgiveness, He will grant it. And when you ask for that forgiveness, ask too for grace to try again to become a better person. He will grant that too. And one day perhaps you will see some blessings come out of your trying.

 

Today I have a poetry gift for you. Enjoy!

 

Butterfly of Love

 

God’s love is sometimes like a beautiful butterfly,

flitting above and around us in the garden of our world,

often seemingly just beyond our grasp.

Lovingly we gaze after Love, wanting to touch it,

to hold it, to snatch it for ourselves.

We are jealous when Love appears to pass us by

and settles on another flower in our garden.

We become bitter at their good fortune.

 

When the rains fall into our garden, Love may vanish for a time,

and we can grow cold and lonely.

So when Love reappears, we chase it,

desperately flinging nets woven from our insecurities and fears,

hoping to snare Love for ourselves.

But Love does not want to be caught.

 

We also try to trap Love by placing good deeds of honey strategically at our feet,

praying that Love will notice them and come to us with affirmations.

But Love is not fooled – Love understands our true motives.

So we drench ourselves in a new fragrant scent

that promises to mask our stinkweed odor and attract Love.

But the stench of our sins cannot be hidden from Love.

 

In final desperation, we adorn our petals with radiant hues of every sort,

attempting to cover up the fading glory of our youth.

But Love sees through our costumes and knows what lies beneath.

We shed tears of dismay, tempted to give up

when Love does not seem to circle around us.

We may believe that we are unworthy of Love.

 

But we cannot force Love to come to us.

Love comes when we allow ourselves to be the special flower

we were created to be.

We do not need to rely on false colors or fragrances to mask our inner selves.

Love cannot be trapped by our works or netted by our actions.

Love comes as a precious gift from God;

a gift that requires nothing from us in return except our acceptance.

 

We must raise our stems and lift our petals high, standing tall in our garden,

accepting ourselves as a beautiful flower created uniquely by God.

Then the butterfly of Love will alight upon us,

pollinating us with every grace and mercy that God can grant.

When we are ready, Love will settle on us – and then we will be whole.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Patience

Posted on August 31, 2020 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

This pandemic of ours has lasted many months now, and it seems like it will never end. People had become so used to having instant everything – instant meals, instant communications, and instant access to almost every kind of information - so it has been hard when this new virus popped up. People no longer had instant access to many things. Groceries and other necessities suddenly became scarce, and many people did not know how to be patient. We have been forced into waiting – waiting for information, waiting for a purchase to arrive, waiting for a vaccine, and waiting for the opportunity to go back to a “normal” life.

 

At the start of the pandemic I too felt much impatience. An important trip overseas had to be cancelled in March, and I missed an important milestone in my family. I had hoped that within maybe a month or two I would be able to make that trip, but that could not happen. And at this point I don’t know when I will be able to fly internationally. I have been forced into patience.

 

I was also used to going out almost everyday for something, like shopping and volunteering work. But that had to stop for a time. I was stuck mostly inside my home until the weather became better. I had to be patient, and so I began to figure out a new way of living.

 

Most of us have accepted the fact that we now must wear a mask inside public places, and sometimes it is prudent to wear one outside as well. I have learned how to sew face masks, and I have made hundreds to give away. I have a few different ones of my own, so I can sort of coordinate my mask to the clothing I am wearing. (This is as close to becoming a fashionista as I will ever get.)

 

I have learned which businesses near me are practicing good sanitization and social distancing, and I have become comfortable going to many of these. I coordinate trips to minimize exposure to others. When our church opened back up (to limited seating), I resumed some of my volunteer activities, although it is hard not to be singing in the choir each week. I guess you can say I am learning to be patient in my worship, too.

 

Jon Kabat-Zinn has a good way of describing patience: “Patience is a form of wisdom. It demonstrates that we understand and accept the fact that sometimes things must unfold in their own time.” Perhaps I have been gaining some wisdom over these past several weeks!

 

One of my favorite speakers from years ago, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, describes patience this way: “Patience is power. Patience is not an absence of action; rather it is "timing" - it waits on the right time to act, for the right principles and in the right way.” To me this means that waiting can give us some control if we refrain from impulsively acting without thinking. I know in many previous situations I acted too quickly and made mistakes.

 

Are you able to be patient these days? Even though it may be hard to be patient, I hope that you do try. God did not create the world in a single day. He waited thousands of years in the history of humanity to send us His Son. And man has been waiting many more thousands of years to see the fulfilment of God’s plan. God is asking us to be patient! And who knows, our patience may result in a lovely blessing.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Nuggets

Posted on August 24, 2020 at 8:35 AM Comments comments (0)

I love the word “nuggets.” This noun is defined as a small lump of gold or other precious metal, a small chunk or lump of another substance, or a valuable idea or fact. Gold nuggets have long been sought after through the centuries by prospectors all over the globe as that metal was quite valuable. When my grandsons were younger, one of their favorite foods was chicken nuggets, so their parents kept a huge bag of them in the freezer. But the definition I love the best is the third one – a valuable idea or fact.

 

As we move along our path in life, I feel it’s important for me to be on the lookout for nuggets which can help me to grow. They may sparkle and I may easily catch sight of them, or I may have to dig for them hidden among the obstacles of life. They may hit me over the head, but more often it will require a little effort on my part to uncover them, and I may have to polish away a rough surface to discover the gem underneath. But when I find one, it usually results in an “Aha” moment, when something suddenly becomes clearer and I feel emboldened to continue on my faith journey.

 

I was a “cradle” Catholic who attended a Catholic elementary school followed by CCD classes. I got the basics, but I didn’t learn everything about Catholicism in those early years. As a twenty-something I attended RCIA classes to help a fellow Christian learn about the faith and I found a few nuggets there. I discovered the Divine Mercy Chaplet and devotion on my trip to Medjugorje. Attending the Catechetical Institute resulted in my reading the entire Catechism of the Catholic Church which helped me understand the whys behind many parts of my faith. Attending formal Bible Studies along with reading Spiritual books has given me more nuggets. And sitting in the quietness of our Chapel in front of the Blessed Sacrament has brought many more insights into my heart.

 

Have you been finding nuggets in your life to enhance your faith? I pray that you are blessed this week with some obvious ones, and I hope that you will be diligent enough to reach out for those harder-to-find nuggets - they may be nearer than you think.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Gitchi Gami

Posted on August 17, 2020 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

My husband and I spent most of last week along Lake Superior, on the Minnesota shoreline affectionately known as the North Shore. We stayed in a resort by Lutsen and took day trips in different directions. We have been up on the shore several times before, so we focused this trip on places we had yet to discover and see.

 

For four days straight we hiked in several state parks and recreation areas along the shores of this huge lake, spanning from Duluth all the way up to the Canadian border. We spent many hours viewing the big lake’s incredible shoreline, a wide variety of forest flowers and fungi, trees and plants too numerous to count, and of course several rivers and inspiring waterfalls. What a blessing this was for us! I was able to capture some amazing scenery on my camera – the cover shot for this blog entry was taken at Iona’s Beach near Gooseberry Falls.

 

Lake Superior is the largest of the Great Lakes of North America. It is the world's largest freshwater lake by surface area and the third largest freshwater lake by volume. The Ojibwe name for the lake is Gichi-Gami (pronounced as gitchi-gami and kitchi-gami in other dialects), meaning "great sea." Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the name as "Gitche Gumee" in The Song of Hiawatha, as did Gordon Lightfoot in his song "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Along the shore of the lake is a lovely bike trail known as the Gitchi-Gami Trail - perhaps next time we go up there we will take our bikes and ride it.

 

Perhaps you’d like to know more about Gitchi Gami. For example, how many rivers feed into the lake, how deep is it, and how many miles would it take to drive completely around the lake? Yes, I could list these answers and more facts for you, but I’m going to let you do your own research to find out!

 

Have you had a chance to do any exploring lately? If you get the chance, I’d suggest going out and finding your own Gitchi Gami. You don’t have to go to Lake Superior - for God’s creation has so very much to offer. You might uncover, like we just did, a few gems you never knew existed. And even if you can’t physically go out and explore, there is so much information available in books and on the internet – you can pick virtually anywhere in the world to visit and explore. Try it - you might be blessed in a new way by your exploration!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

 


I've Learned...

Posted on August 10, 2020 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

I’ve learned a lot of things during my life. I’ve learned how to make mistakes, to laugh, to cry, to help others, and much more. I recently received an email from a dear friend with these words from the late Andy Rooney, and as I read them I felt it sums up a lot of what I have learned. So today I am sharing his words with you.

 

“I’ve Learned” – by Andy Rooney

 

I've learned....That when you're in love, it shows.

 

I've learned ....That just one person saying to me, 'You've made my day!' makes my day.

 

I've learned....That having a child fall asleep in your arms is one of the most peaceful feelings in the world.

 

I've learned....That being kind is more important than being right.

 

I've learned....That you should never say no to a gift from a child.

 

I've learned....That I can always pray for someone when I don't have the strength to help him in any other way.

 

I've learned....That no matter how serious your life requires you to be, everyone needs a friend to act goofy with.

 

I've learned....That sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.

 

I've learned....That simple walks with my father around the block on summer nights when I was a child did wonders for me as an adult.

 

I've learned....That money doesn't buy class.

 

I've learned....That it's those small daily happenings that make life so spectacular.

 

I've learned...That under everyone's hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved.

 

I've learned....That to ignore the facts does not change the facts.

 

I've learned....That when you plan to get even with someone, you are only letting that person continue to hurt you.

 

I've learned....That love, not time, heals all wounds.

 

I've learned....That the easiest way for me to grow as a person is to surround myself with people smarter than I am.

 

I've learned....That everyone you meet deserves to be greeted with a smile.

 

I've learned....That no one is perfect until you fall in love with them.

 

I've learned....That life is tough, but I'm tougher.

 

I've learned....That opportunities are never lost; someone will take the ones you miss.

 

I've learned....That when you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere.

 

I've learned....That I wish I could have told my Mom that I love her one more time before she passed away.

 

I've learned....That one should keep his words both soft and tender, because tomorrow he may have to eat them.

 

I've learned....That a smile is an inexpensive way to improve your looks.

 

I've learned....That when your newly born grandchild holds your little finger in his little fist, you're hooked for life.

 

I've learned....That everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it.

 

I've learned....That the less time I have to work with, the more things I get done.

 

 

I don’t know what you have learned in your life, but I hope you have learned some of the same things that Andy Rooney has learned. And I pray that you will learn something new this week, something that will bless your life.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

In My Hometown

Posted on August 3, 2020 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

One of this past week’s readings was the gospel of Matthew passage where Jesus came back to his hometown and began to teach the people (Matt 13:54-58). The people were astonished and were disinclined to believe him, saying “Isn’t he the carpenter’s son?” He did what he could to teach them, but due to their lack of belief, Jesus was not able to work many miracles there, so he moved on to another area.

 

This passage hit me when listened to it proclaimed at mass. I think about how hard it is when I convey my beliefs or suggestions to people who are close to me. And I have to admit that I too have found it hard to listen to advice or words of correction from those close to me, like my husband or my parents! Just why is it that it’s sometimes easier to learn the tougher life lessons from those with whom we are not so close?

 

When I need to have a difficult conversation, I recognize that at times I’m going to mess up. And sometimes the other person will not heed what I say. So I have learned that it helps if I pray about it first. Then I must do my best to be gentle and try to converse openly, honestly, and with a loving heart. And it isn’t easy – back when I was a manager at my company, this was the hardest part of my job.

 

No matter what, it’s important that I stick to my faith and beliefs. As a member of the Body of Christ it’s my responsibility to share that with others. At times, my words will fall on deaf ears, but that’s ok – the same thing happened to Jesus! I will just need to move on, and trust that God will somehow do what I was unable to do.

 

The next time you need to have a conversation with someone from your “hometown,” remember that it’s ok if it doesn’t always go well. At times we will fail, but at times we will succeed. The important thing is to persevere and remain faithful to your beliefs.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Sunshine

Posted on July 27, 2020 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Lately we have had days where the clouds prevail and rain intermittently passes through. This helps the crops grow tall and flowering plants are refreshed. Unfortunately the rain also leaves the dewpoint high resulting in high humidity, so on sunny days we get sweltering heat.

 

But I still enjoy Minnesota summers. I love to spend as much time outside as I can, especially on the sunny days. In my younger years I would lay in the backyard reading and trying to gain a decent tan. I often rode my bike over to the city pool to enjoy the cool waters and time with friends. These days I still pedal my bike around the neighborhood and laze on my patio to enjoy the outdoors as much as I can, although I’m more careful about spending too much time directly in the sun!

 

I love sunshine. Our sun sends needed light to our earth, and provides energy used by plants in the photosynthesis process to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. The process releases oxygen which we need to breathe. The sun gives us this food and oxygen as well as wonderful light for us to see and enjoy the world around us. We may not always see the sun, but it is always there. And without the sun, human beings would not survive.

 

When ever I think about the sun, I also think about the Son. The Son of God provides us with His body for food, the Spirit for breath, and light to guide us on life’s journey. Even though we may not always see Him, He is always there. Without Jesus, we could not survive spiritually.

 

This week, I encourage you to spend a little time out in the sun if you can. Soak up its warmth and meditate on the photosynthesis process going on all around you. Breath in deeply the life-giving oxygen, and while doing so, gently shift your thoughts to Jesus. Thank Him for the gift of life, and for the blessings He has bestowed upon you. Rest in that spot for a moment, gliding in the physical sunshine and in the eternal Sonshine.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Nature

Posted on July 20, 2020 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

One blessing I have received from the pandemic with the need to stay close to home is that I have more free time. Since I am unable to do some of my volunteer activities (for now), and visits and lunches with friends are less common, I have time to focus on other things.

 

I have taken on a few indoor projects (and my husband will tell you that it’s about time…;) and I also have been spending more time outdoors. With my large table umbrella open, I can manage to stay cool in the shade on my main floor patio on most days. I enjoy a cold beverage, and burrow into a new novel or do a little writing on my pc.

 

I mentioned a few weeks ago that I am taking more walks. This has been very enjoyable - we have ventured to several nearby parks and lakes, so we can traverse new trails and experience an assortment of views of ponds, trees and plants. In one park we were inundated with beautiful dragonflies – I spotted at least four different varieties.

 

Yesterday my husband and I dropped by the Conservatory at Lake Como. We were overwhelmed with the myriad of plants and flowers that graced the Japanese garden outside, and the unique combination of trees and plants in the indoor exhibits. God has created such variety of beautiful plants and flowers!

 

I’m enjoying the nature in my yard as well. On the very hot days, I retire to the cool basement where we have a patio door walkout to the back yard. While working at a table I can view the greenery and wildlife. Cardinals, sparrows, black-capped chickadees, mourning doves and a few other birds I haven’t yet identified can be seen enjoying a snack at the bird feeders. Below the feeders I have spotted rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks and even wild turkeys foraging for anything the birds tossed aside.

 

Even on the very hot days we can enjoy the outdoors by taking a little driving trip. A few weeks ago we visited a nearby waterfall in Wisconsin. During the country driving portion of the trip, we observed tall cornstalks dancing in the breeze and patchwork fields on rolling hillsides containing the fruits of many farmers’ labors.

 

Nature really has so much to offer. I encourage you to spend a little time outdoors this week when you can. Go to a new park to take a walk. Hike around a lake. Drive a bit into the country. Or even just sit outside on your deck. Take a bit of time and thank God for the amazing nature that He has given to you.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Encouragement

Posted on July 13, 2020 at 9:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Did you know that I now have been writing these blogs for four years? It doesn’t seem like that long! But it’s true - my first blog was published on July 11, 2016. Looking back, I remember it was kind of scary, taking that leap into the world of blogging, and knowing that I likely would not reach a huge readership following. But that did not matter to me then, nor does it matter to me now.

 

My purpose for writing this blog remains the same as it did on that summer day four years ago – to follow the mission I had chosen for myself: To provide help, encouragement and inspiration during the journey of life resulting in stronger faith and purpose. Our world has so much negativity in it, and I want to remind people that there are still many good things out there, even though we may have to dig a bit to find them. So whether I have four readers or four hundred, I will keep writing.

 

If you were to go back and read my past blog entries, you will find that in them I have touched on many topics, and have shared problems and struggles I have faced in my life. Some of them were minor and some more challenging. Many of the issues I have dealt with in the past still occur in my life. And every day we must make decisions on how we will react to and act on events that occur around us. I have found that having a positive attitude helps. We may struggle and fall, but if we look for the good we can get up and try again. I write these words as much for myself as for you, my readers.

 

We all need encouragement and support as we walk through life. As we face our individual challenges, sometimes a supportive word or two will be enough to get us through.

 

My challenge for you this week is to say or do something to encourage someone else. Perhaps it might be as simple as putting some things away, or it could be more important, like being there to listen as someone pours out his or her heart. Spread encouragement within your circle, and you may be pleased to find encouragement circling right back to bless you.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net