Reflections On The Journey 

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Meditations

Reflections From Faye

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Share Your Story

Posted on August 5, 2019 at 7:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Are you willing to share your story?


I’ve always tended to be a fairly private person. When I was growing up I don’t recall many discussions about other people’s problems, even for related family members. I was encouraged to not ask questions about other people’s lives. And although I don’t recall ever being TOLD not to share our own private stories, somehow it seemed to be implied that we just didn’t do that.


As I grew, I watched other people live their lives. I did have some close friends, but I wasn’t super close to a lot of people, and I tended to view most people’s lives through rose-colored glasses. I didn’t see any “dirty laundry,” and it seemed most people had pretty good Leave it to Beaver lives where the biggest problem anyone had was getting punished for skipping school. (Caveat - this was in the era before reality TV shows!)


So when it came time for me to deal with my own serious life challenges, I didn’t talk much about them. Oh, my close friends knew, but the rest of the world did not, or maybe I just thought they did not know. I lived in my own little world, holding my pain close, thinking that I was one of only a few that had major trouble in their life.


It wasn’t until I went on a weekend retreat that my eyes started to open. I listened in disbelief as several women shared their personal stories of pain and agony. The floodgates opened and I cried profusely as I was carried along with each speaker through her experiences. I had no idea so many people had issues.


By the end of that weekend I was completely spent emotionally. But I had learned that I was not the only one who had experienced something painful in her life. These other women did not have perfect lives like I had thought, yet they had managed to come through their brokenness and find healing in the midst of their sorrow.


That weekend I learned many things: It is perfectly normal to have problems in your life and screw up. You CAN find forgiveness for your mistakes. And you can make changes to put the scarred past behind you and become a better person.


I learned all this because some women were willing to tell their stories. Their individual experiences may not have been the same as mine, but their willingness to share their trials and how they found hope gave ME hope. I was not alone in my problems! Others have gone through situations much worse than mine and made it through. And I realized I could make it too.


In time, I was also able to share my story. And when I did, it helped me travel further along the path of healing. Since that retreat encounter many years ago, I have been a speaker at a number of subsequent retreats and I have shared my experiences with many individuals and groups who have faced challenges in their lives. My purpose has been to offer them hope – to show them they are not alone, and that resources exist to help them work through their issues.


What about you – do you have a story to tell? Would you be willing to share that story with at least one other person this week? I encourage you to try it. And if you need someone to listen to your story, let me know – I’d be happy to listen.


Sometimes sharing our stories with others is a beautiful blessing – not only for others, but for us as well. Share your story!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Examine Your Life

Posted on July 29, 2019 at 7:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you need to examine your life?


I mentioned last week that I am working through a book called “The Ignatian Adventure,” written by Kevin O’Brien, SJ. The “week” I just finished covered looking at my past sins. Wow – that took a bit of courage on my part. There is no way I could remember every sin I ever did…but I did recall several. These were the sins that affected my life the most – the ones that really hurt me or hurt others.


This review was not an easy exercise to do. It required a serious amount of time in a place where I could be alone with my thoughts. I jotted down notes as I traversed my past, dredging up a few things I really did not want to remember. And when I pondered them, I learned some things. I realized that those sins for which I have already confessed and received forgiveness have pretty much released their hold over me. I still struggle in those areas at times, but they are easier to identify and block.


But I also realized I have a few sins that I have not fully addressed. I decided I need to make another confession, ask for some forgiveness, and make some restitution and changes in my life. I am working on those right now.


Next I looked at all my sins more deeply, to try to determine WHY I erred. In examining my motivations and the feelings I had at the time, I discovered I had certain wants and desires that led me to the sin, allowing the sinful action to either give me comfort and pleasure or give me some temporary feeling of power and autonomy. I also realized that sometimes I continued certain poor behaviors even though I knew they were wrong because somehow those good feelings seemed to overshadow the gravity of the sin.


In addition, I now more clearly understood that when I acknowledge my sins and sinful tendencies and become conscious of my motives for these behaviors, and then ask for and receive forgiveness from others and from myself for these things, I can begin to change my ways and become a less sinful person. This is a key point for me to remember – it is a continual process, not a one-time event.


There are still many areas I need to work on. Every day I still fall in some way. That’s why it is important for me to make this review regularly. A good tool to use is called the Examen, which consists of five steps that St. Ignatius practiced. One version of these steps is listed here:

1. Become aware of God’s presence.

2. Review the day with gratitude.

3. Pay attention to your emotions.

4. Choose one feature of the day and pray from it.

5. Look toward tomorrow.


I’ve found a daily Examen which uses a series of questions to guide me through a review of my day, allowing me to identify anything which is faulty and helping me to address it immediately. And yes, it’s in an app! The app is called “Examen: Reimagining the Examen.” This app gives me a rotating list of questions to use each day. It even lets me choose a special focus area for the day if I wish. I have begun to use it just each night before bedtime, and I have been blessed by the results!


As humans, we will always fall into sins, but as long as we address them right away, confess our failures, ask for forgiveness and work to change our lives, we will continually become better human beings. A regular examination of our lives can help! Perhaps you could benefit from such a regular review of your life. I encourage you to do some sort of examination this week and see what areas in your life you may need to improve. Perhaps you could try using an app to help you through the process. It could be a lovely blessing for you, just as it is for me!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Grace

Posted on July 22, 2019 at 7:25 AM Comments comments (0)

Have you received a grace lately?


I am currently working through a book called “The Ignatian Adventure,” written by Kevin O’Brien, SJ. This book contains a modified version of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius, geared toward “average” folks. Like many people of our day, I don’t have the time (or the inclination) to do a month-long retreat as some people do. Yet I have thought about the exercises for years, thinking that it might be beneficial to study them. But how could I do this and still maintain the other aspects of my life?


A few months ago I began seeing a spiritual director. She introduced me to O’Brien’s book as a way to look at the exercises over a period of several months, in a way that was not overwhelming but allowing each individual to progress at their own pace. This was what I needed!


The program is laid out in 32 “weeks” of daily reflections, but I confess I am moving more slowly than that. I sometimes take a few physical weeks to get through one “week” in the book. But that’s ok! Since I am unable to meet with my director every week, this works out rather well. And I am finding this whole process to be a grace for me.


You might be thinking, what do you mean by grace? Grace can mean many things, but the definition I am referring to is favor, a gift from God. This kind of grace can take many forms, but for me, these graces are thoughts, curriculums or other things which illuminate some aspect of my life and draw me closer to God.


This modified Exercises program (which I will not detail here) is allowing me plenty of time to read, reflect and write, and apply the insights I am receiving to my life. These past several weeks have been a big grace!


Have you gotten any graces lately? Perhaps doing the Spiritual Exercises is not for you, but maybe sitting for ten minutes in prayer might work. You never know when God will grace you with some tidbit or idea or even a person which can help you in your life. But you need to be open to receiving the grace, and sometimes that requires some time “away” from the busyness of life.


I hope you can take a little time this week to spend in reflection or prayer and listen or look for a grace. May you be blessed with graces this week!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

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


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