Reflections On The Journey 

Subtitle

Meditations

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

Take Your Time

Posted on July 6, 2020 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

We’ve likely all done it – rushed to finish a project and found that something wasn’t right. It’s happened to me more than once – okay, a lot. When I realize I have made a mistake, I have two choices – live with a poor product, or spend extra time redoing it to make it right. If the error was small, I might be able to let it go. But a big error? No, I had to do it over.

 

Most things cannot be rushed. To complete a project, I must do things one at a time, in the correct order, and pay attention to details to be sure I do things right. If I don’t, the end result will be less than stellar, and quite possibly very bad indeed.

 

But how hard it can be to take my time! I know what the end result should be, and I want to get there now. Here’s one of my most recent examples. I wanted to make cinnamon rolls for my son who was in town. It was late afternoon when I started, and I hurried through the kneading process (mistake # 1). Then I did a Google search for hints to make the dough rise faster (mistake # 2). The dough rose, but not as far as I had hoped even though I did wait the full recommended time for rising.

 

I punched down the dough and rolled it out, noticing that the dough wasn’t really the consistency it should have been. But I prepped it anyway and rolled it and cut into pieces for the second rising. And guess what - the dough barely rose at all. At this point I just went ahead and baked the rolls. The rolls were edible, but definitely not anything I was proud to share with my family. And it was all because of my lack of patience with the process and trying to take shortcuts.

 

The same thing happens when I don’t take a proper amount of time each morning for my prayers. My spirits sag throughout the day and I may fail to adequately rise to my tasks. I experience a “day” but not the wonderful one I would have had if I had focused on my prayers.

 

These experiences reminded me of the importance of taking my time and doing things right. There are reasons for taking things one step at a time and allowing enough time to do them well! I need to remind myself that trying to take shortcuts when doing important things will result in a bad end result.

 

How about you? Do you take adequate time to properly do the tasks at hand? Or do you rush through them? This week I invite you to take your time when doing the important things in your life. It may take you a bit longer to finish something, but you will be blessed by a good outcome.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Water

Posted on June 29, 2020 at 8:30 AM Comments comments (0)

God created an amazing thing when He conceived of water. It was an essential part of the creation story – Gen. 1:2 says “The earth was formless and void, and darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was moving over the surface of the waters.”

 

Water is essential for life. Crops need an adequate amount of rain to produce their bounty, pastures need moisture for cattle to feed, and we would not have lovely flowers without water to give them nourishment.

 

We humans too need water. Our bodies are comprised of up to 60 % water, and we would likely die after three or four days without it. We use water for cooking, purification and nourishment. One of our sacraments, Baptism, uses water as a key ingredient. And we use consecrated Holy water to bless items of importance and ourselves.

 

I love water. One of my favorite spots to be is on an ocean beach, just sitting and enjoying the glimpse of God’s glory found there. I revel in the crashing of waves as they overturn on themselves near the shore or make the full run and splay out on the sand. Lakes and rivers are good spots too. The waves are usually gentler, teasing the sand and depositing broken shells at the edges.

 

When by the water, I love to watch the clouds meandering across the sky forming delicate lace patterns and casting shadows on the waves. On the beach, the sand is soft and squishy under my feet as I wade in the cool liquid. I can take a beach chair and sit at the water’s edge, my feet soaking and the ripples gently washing away my body’s tensions.

 

If you happen to be lucky enough to know someone with some water sport equipment (or own some yourself) you can enjoy so much on the water. Many people enjoy fishing, riding on jet skis or lazily trolling up or down a river on a pontoon. A kayak ride on smooth lake waters on a quiet evening can be a peaceful way to become still and tune yourself in to God.

 

Water can be treacherous, though – hurricanes and tsunamis can rip through areas leaving mass devastation in their wake. Thunderstorms can wash out roads and raging waters can sweep away homes. So although water is important, we also need to be respectful of its power.

 

Most of us have all the water we need, inexpensive and ready at the turn of a faucet. But there are some people in the world who do not have enough water. Their supply may be scarce or contaminated. Thankfully, there are organizations who work to help these people get access to good, clean water.

 

Do you appreciate your water? I encourage you today to think a bit the next time you use water and give thanks to God for this blessed gift.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Criticism

Posted on June 22, 2020 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

I am currently reading “The Next Right Thing” by Emily P. Freeman in an on-line book club. I am about three-fourths of the way though the book, and I definitely recommend it for anyone who might be looking for help in making a decision in life.

 

Chapter Eighteen definitely struck me – the chapter title is “Don’t Give Your Critic Words.” The premise is that positive, constructive criticism from good sources is valuable, but the negative, destructive criticism that comes from those who do not believe in you – who perhaps may only be interested in tearing you down – is another story.

 

As a Christian who wants to grow closer to God, I need regular support and guidance to keep me on track and help me make decisions. Those people who love me and care about me will give me words I need to hear and heed when I start to stray. But if I allow the words of those people who do not have my best interests at heart to pull me down and lure me into negative thinking about myself, that does not help me. Therefore, I must discern whose words are good and helpful and whose words are not.

 

I recall a time when I was a teenager and was just starting to attend a public school. At the bus stop, there were some girls who teased me about several things, including my appearance, and their remarks devastated me. Because I wanted to “fit in,” I let their remarks hurt me and cause me to strive to emulate them in certain ways, but the end result was they still didn’t like me and I was miserable.

 

A negative self-image trailed me for many years as a result of my continually replaying the words of those critics. It was much later in life that I came to realize that their comments were not the ones I should have been listening to all those years. Those words did not reflect my true self. I finally decided that those critics should no longer have a say in my life. And thankfully, my self-image has gradually changed for the better.

 

Sadly, I can also name other examples from my life where I listened to the wrong critics. It has taken much discernment to realize this and make more changes in my thinking.

 

I suspect that maybe you too have had poor critics in your life. If there are any of those critics still hanging around, trying to put negative words into your mind instead of constructive feedback to help you grow, maybe now might be the time to banish them.

 

Instead, like I did, you can listen to God and His non-judgmental love of us and to those truly reliable mentors who have your best interests in mind. Oh yes, they will occasionally tell us a few things we can change in our lives, but they will do so in a loving way that is designed to help us to become better versions of ourselves.

 

Stay away from the negative criticism this week, and instead bless yourself with positive thoughts!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Walks

Posted on June 15, 2020 at 8:20 AM Comments comments (0)

With the weather getting nicer here in Minnesota, I am spending much more time outdoors. If I am up early I might take a cup of coffee out onto the patio (or into the sunroom if it is raining) and listen to the birds singing their wake-up melodies while I say my morning prayers, peruse the news or work on the daily crossword puzzle.

 

Then later, after my daily tasks are completed, I will often take a walk – sometimes alone and sometimes with a friend. My husband and I have been getting out several times per week also, exploring different local state and county parks.

 

Our adventures include meandering on trails, occasionally taking a wrong turn and retracing our steps, and observing all the wonders of nature. The trees wave their branches at us as we pass, and wildflowers provide splashes of color as we stroll through the prairies. We’ve seen lots of dragonflies, butterflies and even a turtle. We have walked beside streams, piles of dead branches and fallen limbs, and majestic pines towering besides ponds, lakes and rivers. I have been capturing photos along the way as reminders of our sojourns.

 

Even the clouds above us are entrancing – sometimes small and wispy and occasionally forming wavy ripples that slowly move across the pure blue sky.

 

Walking has been very good for me. I am exercising muscles that I admit were not used much over the winter and I don’t mind the slight ache I might feel later in the evening. It’s gratifying to feel the vibration of my fitness tracker as I pass my step goal for the day. Perhaps I will even shed a few pounds as the weeks pass!

 

But even more important is the opportunity for me to appreciate nature on my walks. I never was very good at botany, so except for the dandelions and red clover, I cannot identify the myriads of plants covering most of the ground in these parks. I can tell you when we pass a birch or a red oak tree, but I can’t tell you what kind of pine trees are in that grove over there.

 

Yet it doesn’t matter that I don’t know the names of all the plants. What is important is that I appreciate the wide variety that exists in our parks. And those which are found in Minnesota are only a minute portion of the vast number of plants that exist in all the other corners of our planet.

 

God has created a marvelous world for us to enjoy. When I stay cooped up in my home I can easily forget this – all the more reason for me to get outside and enjoy nature’s splendors.

 

I encourage you to get outside and talk a walk or two this week. Even if you only circle the block, take a look around you and observe nature. If you reside in Arizona, you could count the different species of cacti you see. For those who live in Florida, take a look at the palm trees. If you live somewhere else, I’m sure you can find some kind of unique plants to observe. And while on your walk, take a moment to thank God for His wonderful creation and the fact that He has given it to us to enjoy. What a blessing He has given to us!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Birds

Posted on June 8, 2020 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

As I write this meditation the birds are singing like crazy in the trees by my house. Perhaps they know I am writing about them? I’m trying to learn the different bird calls, and I even downloaded an app for my phone which is supposed to recognize the calls. But I keep forgetting to turn it on…

 

I do know the whistle-like song of the cardinal, though. There are several inhabiting the wooded areas near our home, and I have spied both males and females getting a snack from my feeders. I am not a very good whistler, but when I do manage to squeak out a few notes, the cardinals invariably answer back. I love it!

 

Birds seem to reveal the glory of God in creation. When I catch a glimpse of the beautiful red coat of a cardinal, the majestic soaring of an eagle, or the plumage of a peacock, I’m ready to burst out in song, something like “All Creatures of Our God and King” or “All Things Bright and Beautiful.”

 

The beauty of birds offers a natural opportunity to bear witness to God. Scripture tells us that “The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. . . . There [that is, in the trees] the birds make their nests; the stork has its home in the pine trees.” (Psalm 104: 12, 17) God created these amazing creatures and placed them all around us, and even if we cannot see them we can hear their lovely songs.

 

God both plants and waters the trees so the birds can sing and nest in them. Indeed, all creatures are dependent on the delicate environment which God has developed. And He gives them everything they need, and He does the same for us: “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matt 6:26)

 

After sitting here listening to the beautiful songs for several minutes, I returned to my writing. I typed a few words and suddenly it hit me – do I listen to God’s voice as intently as I listen to the birds?  And even if I cannot see God, do I heed His still small voice as carefully as when I cock my ear to figure out which bird is tweeting? This was an excellent point for me to ponder this week, for I often do not heed God as well as I should.

 

I have decided that starting now, whenever I hear a bird’s tweet or call I will try to remind myself of God. And I will stop, if I can, and spend just a few moments reflecting about God and His glory, and see if I can hear His call to me. Perhaps if I listen intently, I will hear something He has been trying to tell me!

 

Do you listen to the birds? I hope you can enjoy the great variety of colors and songs that God has given to all the birds. I encourage you to listen to the birds this week. And perhaps you too will start hearing the call of God.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Caring

Posted on June 1, 2020 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

It has greatly disturbed me that there has been so much violence in Minneapolis and the surrounding area in the past week. In response to a wrongful death, some people became outraged and began to protest. Much of the protesting has been peaceful, but the tide turned and others began to loot and set fires to businesses in the area. Now not only one life is affected but many, including business owners who can no longer operate and local people who can no longer purchase their needed supplies at these stores.

 

Black lives matter – absolutely! And everything should be done to eliminate racism of any kind. And other lives matter too: red lives, old lives, businessowners lives, yellow lives, young lives, protesters lives, disabled lives, white lives and unborn lives, just to name a few. ALL human life matters. And I sincerely hope that things will soon calm down and strong action is taken to make corrections and bring justice to everyone.

 

We are in challenging times. Everything around us has been shaken by the virus, by loss of jobs and income, and by incidents. People are understandably raging in discontent. Unfortunately, pent-up emotions can trigger bad actions and destructive acts which in no way atone for the wrongs committed but instead make the situation worse.

 

In my opinion, we should do our best to not let this tide of anger overtake us. We should not get swept away into hatred and violence, as it seldom serves to help the situation. That is not to say we should sit idly by and not do anything, though. As Christians, we must act – in fact, we are called to act – but in a loving and caring manner.

 

Throughout the centuries when disasters struck or diseases ravaged the world, Christians have taken the impetus to care for their brethren. To the extent possible, these Christians would care for the injured and sick, providing medical care, food and shelter. Even if they were not able to save some of the people, they were there to provide what comfort they could. Those people lucky enough to be around Christians had a much better chance of survival than those who were not.

 

I am choosing to look to Philippians 2:4 as a personal mantra—“Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others.” I may not be able to provide direct medical care, but some of us can. I don’t wear a badge, but others can offer protection. But I can sew masks to give to those who need them. I can help deliver groceries and supplies to those in need. Even people who may be more vulnerable than me can help – we can call and talk to those who are isolated and we can pray for our brothers and sisters in need.

 

What are you doing to care for those around you? I challenge you this week to find some way to be a blessing for someone else. If you can do something specifically for someone, please try to do that. And please pray - pray for those who have been affected by COvid-19 and the violence of this week, and pray for those in position to help to fairly deal with these situations. May God help us to see good in all our brothers and sisters and may we all help to bring this issue to a close.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Belief

Posted on May 25, 2020 at 6:40 AM Comments comments (1)

Every one of us has beliefs. I have beliefs about myself - for example, I believe that I have learned a strong sense of the difference between right and wrong, and that I am a strong and capable woman. In addition, I hold beliefs about others. One of my beliefs is that my husband loves me and will take care of me if I become ill. And I believe in the patterns of nature. I know that spring will always follow winter, and seeds will grow after they have been planted and watered (well, most seeds, anyway!) I imagine you could name a number of similar beliefs that you hold.

 

Most people also have a faith belief. Some people may say they have no faith belief, but then most likely they believe in atheism, or that there is no God. I believe that many religions hold some points of truth, but I have chosen to hold Catholicism as my personal faith belief.

 

Our beliefs can shape our reality through their influence on our behavior. What you think directly influences how you feel and how you behave. For example, if you think you’re a failure, you will feel like a failure. Then you’ll act like a failure, which reinforces your belief that you must be a failure. On the other hand, if you believe that you are capable, competent, and deserving of your dream job, you will probably be more likely to seek out and notice opportunities that could help you get there.

 

There was a point in my life when I believed I was not a good person. I had made some mistakes, things were not going well, and I didn’t have much hope that those things would change – I believed that I was stuck where I was. I moved through my days almost like a zombie… just functioning through the things I had to do, but with no bright outlook on life. During that time I doubted my faith, too. I strayed from God and didn’t want to let him back into my life. I didn’t have any hope; I didn’t believe that things would improve and I couldn’t see a bright spot anywhere, and I found it tough to hold on.

 

Thankfully I was able to get some help to get me back on track, and eventually I realized that God hadn’t left me, but in fact I had left Him. My faith began to grow stronger, and I started to believe in God and myself again.

 

Looking back on this time, and how I felt while I was in it, I can certainly see how some people may be driven to despair during times like these. When a person doesn’t seem to have any hope, and can’t seem to believe that things will improve, nor can they see good things, I can imagine that it would be tough to hold on. I was one of the lucky ones, I did get some help and was able to climb out of my hole and regain my faith.

 

In many places in my Bible I can find quotes reminding me why I believe. Probably my favorite is John 3:16, which says “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” I am choosing to believe in God, despite the situation in which we live.

 

I pray that you have strong, positive beliefs in your life, and especially some centered around your faith. For “Faith shows the reality of what we hope for; it is the evidence of things we cannot see.” (Hebrews 11:1) We may not be able to see what God has planned for us and our world, but I believe that He will take care of us and that somehow we will be blessed.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Remain

Posted on May 18, 2020 at 8:15 AM Comments comments (0)


 

Many of my Scripture readings from this past week include the word “remain.”

For example: 1 John 4:13,15 says “The way we know we remain in him and he in us is that he has given us of his Spirit….When anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwells in him and he in God.”

 

This word hit home for me this week as we are still under Governor’s orders to remain at home. Yes, some businesses are starting to open up, but precautions still need to be taken. I for one am planning to remain at home as much as possible for the time being. I am not in a high-risk group, but I still want to remain healthy. Before I venture too far into businesses, I want to be sure they are making every effort to ensure a safe environment for their visitors.

 

In my personal life I have been doing my best to remain rooted in my faith. It’s hard when I cannot go sit in our chapel to pray or attend a mass in person. I have to make do with a little prayer spot I have set up at home, and I am regularly visiting online sites that display the Blessed Sacrament for adoration and broadcast live masses. I am remaining faithful to my daily prayer regimen as well as my study of The Ignatian Adventure by Kevin O’Brien, SJ. Thankfully, I have a wonderful spiritual director whom I can call each week to share my current faith journey and remain accountable to my study plan.

 

As long as our world remains in this new normal, I must remain faithful and remain rooted in God. I may not understand why He is allowing this disease to ravage through the world, but I can trust that God still is in control. I also believe that there will be some good coming out of this, even though that may not be evident right now.

 

Are you remaining faithful in our challenging time? I hope you have resources to help you remain on track. I am going to say a prayer for all of my readers every day this week that you are somehow blessed this week and that you remain full of faith and the Spirit.

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Plan Your Goals

Posted on May 11, 2020 at 8:10 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you have any particular goals right now in your life? My world has completely changed recently, and goals that I had set a few months ago have fallen by the wayside. So many requests have come in to sew facemasks that I have let my photo project slide and I have slacked off on my writing. I used to have at least one or two blog posts written ahead of time, and now I’m finding myself writing them only a few days before my Monday deadline.

 

I decided I needed to re-look at my goals and my plans to complete them. To be honest, I have no particular deadline for my photo project (other than prior to my passing so my kids don’t have to clean it up). The sorting and compilation of the family photos benefits me and my relatives, and it certainly is a good thing to do, but it is something that can be pushed aside for more important tasks.

 

But my writing is different. The kind of writing I do uses a charism I have been given, and it is for the benefit of others. I often am inspired to write about certain topics, and the writing itself usually cannot be forced. But when I wait until the last minute to write, like for my blog, I find it maybe does not contain the richness and meaningfulness that it could have if I had spent more time.

 

Therefore I must be diligent about regularly planning time to write. Even though my days are often unscheduled now, I still must set aside writing time on my calendar. If I do not do this, my days could easily fill with meaningless tasks and time would slip right through my fingers. Progress toward my goal will stall. Setting a schedule is a way I ensure I am being responsible to myself so that I can attain my goals.

 

Do you have a goal that you should be working on? Have you made plans for how you will attain that goal? I encourage you to take a look at your schedule this week and be sure you have allotted time to work on your goals. The blessing of a completed project awaits!

 

Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2020 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net