Reflections On The Journey 

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Meditations

Reflections From Faye

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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

Appearances

Posted on September 23, 2019 at 6:05 AM Comments comments (0)

Do you judge by appearances?


What do you think when you see a person dressed in dirty clothes? How about when you notice someone who smiles but has rotting or missing teeth? What crosses your mind when you see someone who is missing a limb, hunched over in a wheelchair or exhibiting unusual behavior? Or what if the person has a different skin color, dresses in clothing that you are not accustomed to seeing, or drives a rusty old clunker car?


Chance are you make a quick judgement call on that person based solely on their appearance.


Sadly, we’ve all been there. Only a few nights ago during my examen I realized I had made a poor judgement that day about a person I had just met, solely because of his way of speaking. Because of this judgement, I failed to take the time to talk to him or get to know him. Who knows what I may have missed because of my bias?


We have all made judgements based on what we see or hear when we first meet someone. When someone doesn’t present a good “first impression” or the perfect ideal we expect we tend to think less of that person. We humans have so many biases – we so easily make judgements just because a person has certain characteristics.


But things are not always as they seem. We have no way of knowing just by looking at someone what they have experienced as a person. We do not know what is going on in their minds, what kind of disposition they have, whether they are suffering from a hidden condition, or what their intelligence level may be. It is only be giving the person a chance, and getting to know them, that we come to learn what they are really like inside. If you merely judge a book by its cover, you may miss the amazing story inside.


I know several people who have a physical handicap but who are persevering and funny. I also know many people who struggle with depression and autism, yet they are beautiful, creative people. Others I know would never win a beauty contest, but their hearts are warm and generous. If I had judged them merely on their appearance and hadn’t taken the time to get to know these people, I would never have had the joy of their friendship.


We can also look to history to find stories of many people who were “dismissed” due to their appearance or actions but who had something amazing to give to the world (Albert Einstein, Mr. & Mrs. Leland Stanford and Susan Boyle come to mind.) Perhaps you can think of people in your own life who may not measure up to the world’s “ideals” but who bring love and joy to your life. Every person is a child of God, and has the right to be valued just for who they are, not what they look like.


My challenge for you today is to think about someone you have met or whom you know but perhaps have ignored due to their outward appearance or their actions. I encourage you to look deeper, and maybe get to know that person a little better. Try to uncover something wonderful about that person, something unique that God has placed within that person. You could be immensely blessed!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net

Fear

Posted on September 16, 2019 at 7:50 AM Comments comments (0)

Are you afraid of something?


Fear is an interesting emotion. Fear can be frightful when something causes us major trepidation. I would be quite fearful if I was approached by a savage beast, if fire threatened my home, or if a serious illness befell a family member. This fear might even paralyze me to the point of inaction, and there could be serious consequences if I remained in that fearful state.


But fear can also be a good thing. If I am afraid of something, like spiders, I might decide to learn and understand more about arachnids to help me become more comfortable around them. I might even work to overcome my fear by touching or holding one. (I held a tarantula several years ago!) When I am afraid I’ll fail when I start a big new project, I may choose to study harder about the initiative and do better preparations for the tasks I need to do. I have to admit that Google has helped me a lot when I need to learn something! Sometimes I use calming techniques to get my butterflies to fly in formation. And I pray for spiritual help to guide me. In these cases my fear has caused me to change something in my life, and I think I have become a better person because of it.


Throughout human history, man has had many things to fear: drought, wild animals, harsh climates, advancing armies and more. Uncertainty about how things will turn out has been the cause of much fear, too. Fear of things we cannot control and fear of the unknown cause us to worry and doubt our abilities.


When I am faced with fear, it helps to recall other people who have faced uncertainty and fear. Moses was afraid when he was told to go to Pharaoh and speak on behalf of the Israelite people. Mary was uncertain when Gabriel told her she would be the Mother of Jesus. Joseph was afraid to take Mary as his wife knowing she was with child before their marriage. And look at the disciples, who cowered in fear when they faced that wild storm on the sea of Galilee even though Jesus was right there with them.


These biblical figures who we know did great things were afraid! And it took an angel, Jesus or God himself telling them not to be afraid but to go ahead with their tasks in order for these humans to overcome their fears and act.


I have heard a definition of courage that says that courage is not the opposite of fear or even the absence of fear, but instead it is the ability to act in spite of fear. I think that’s true.


I have been fearful at many times in my life, and I still have fears. Yet I have learned that although it’s hard for fear to leave us, we can still do things to lessen that fear and act anyway. When I pray and take other steps to lessen my fear, I feel better knowing that I tried. And in some cases, the results have brought me unexpected blessings!


Is there something in your life which is causing you fear? Perhaps something unknown or dangerous? I encourage you to pray about it, and perhaps take some new steps to learn how to lessen your fears. Get help if you need it. I encourage you to act anyway if you can, in spite of your fear. You may find some blessing along the way!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

See Clearly

Posted on September 9, 2019 at 7:35 AM Comments comments (0)

How clearly do you see the things of importance?


Last week I was in the chapel for my regular adoration hour, and I had spent some time reading and in meditation. My meditation moved my soul quite a bit and I began to cry. (This is not uncommon for me, so I always keep a huge stash of tissues in my adoration bag for moments just like this.)


I removed my glasses to wipe my eyes, but before I could put my glasses back on my eyes were drawn back up to the altar where the Monstrance was placed.


This particular Monstrance is very familiar to me, since I have been a regular adorer for many years. But at this moment my view was very fuzzy. Without my glasses, I could see a basic shape and recognize that candlelight was glinting off the gold, but the Monstrance itself was a blur. I had to think quite hard about what it actually looked like because I no longer could see it clearly.


Of course, once I put on my glasses I could clearly see the beautiful piece that held the Host. In light of this observation, I spent some time reveling in the magnificence of the Monstrance and studying its shape and design. Then I purposefully focused on The Body of Jesus encased within the gold. I marveled at the hands that crafted the Monstrance, but even more so the Glorious Body that it held.


Toward the end of my adoration hour I removed my glasses again. The Monstrance was once again a blur to my physical eyes, but I now held a new image of it in the eyes of my soul. I could still “see” it. I recognized it and what it held even though physically it was a blur. You see, by taking even that little bit of time to study that special structure and learn its intricacies and reflect on what it held, I was able to form a strong interior image which remained long after my physical eyes could not see it.


I find that I often fail to take the time to really study and know things, and when my "glasses" aren’t handy I don’t recognize them. I hear a name but cannot recall the face of the person it belongs to. I read a passage of scripture or hear a homily at mass, and an hour later I cannot recall the topic or the point that was made. I even no longer can recall some things that I had learned by heart years ago. It’s as if I have removed my glasses and now it is just a blur.


My experience in that chapel helped me to realize the importance of really getting to know those important things well. I may need to see them on a regular basis to keep them fresh in my mind. That’s especially true with my relationship with Jesus. I need to spend time with Him and get to know Him through the glasses of scripture and prayer, in order to be able to “see” Him when my physical senses become blurred with all the other things of life.


Are you able to see clearly the things of importance in your life? If something seems a bit blurry to you today, perhaps it is time to “put on your glasses” and study or re-learn that important thing – what it looks like, how it sounds – and commit it to your soul’s memory banks. Then whenever you don’t have your “glasses” handy, you can still clearly see that important thing. For those important things are the ones that will likely bless you!


Have a blessed Monday!

Faye

© 2019 www.reflectionsonthejourney.net


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