Wednesday, July 29, 2020

St. Martha: A Patron Saint for Working Mothers

For many years I’ve counted on St. Martha as a patron saint of working mothers because she works hard to provide for others. In Luke 10:38-42, upon realizing that she is working alone as others spend time with Jesus she asks, why do I have to serve while others sit at your feet listening? If you’re like me, there is a special affinity to her in this moment, that instead of acknowledging how hard Martha works and directing another to help her, the Lord shows favor to Mary and even chastises Martha (however gently) for being anxious and worried about many things.

Like Martha, we also wanted to be recognized, acknowledged, for our hard work, to be invited and able to step away from the serving and rest at the feet of Jesus. And He does not disappoint, though it may come unexpectedly. My invitation came via an ACTS retreat, where He gifted me with my very own Mary moment. That one weekend, unburdened, I sat listening, learning, loving Christ with an open heart for Him to fill me with peace and healing. The experience changed my life and surprisingly drew me closer to Martha, allowing me to embrace her even more as kindred sister. We serve together to allow others to come and know and hear Jesus.

Our service also allows us to develop strong faith and confidence in Christ. In this way we are connected once again with Martha in the story of Lazarus from John 11:1-44.

When Jesus arrives in Bethany, Martha is the one who goes to him – to serve – while Mary sits at home. We can imagine her grief of the past four days, having buried a beloved brother.  Upon coming face to face with Jesus, Martha displays a profound moment of trust and faith saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. [But] even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.” (John 11:21-22) When Jesus tells her Lazarus will rise, she does not question him; she simply agrees that her brother will rise in the resurrection on the last day.

Then Jesus tells her – "...I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he dies, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" 

Her response is a creed both strong yet simple.

Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.’ ”

Martha, who serves, makes this bold profession that captures the heart of our faith. Whether we are serving others or in the midst of great sorrow, ask the intercession of St. Martha to strengthen us in our own foundation of faith. To reach beyond any frustration or irritation and say boldly – as she did:

Yes Lord, I believe.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Stirring Memories into Life

This summer I’ve taken on the task of preparing a history covering almost thirty years (give or take) of a professional organization. Although not a very active member recently, I served in one (volunteer) leadership capacity or another for about sixteen of those thirty years being covered and am humbled to be tasked with the job.

As I work on the outline/first draft for what will become this document, I find myself mired in memories of the past. Wistful and longing for old friends, many of whom I’ve not been in regular contact for some time, after pivoting my career direction. Some friends have passed away, a good number are retired, yet all were significantly influential in my formative years as a young professional. Although the project does not require me to record their individual contributions, each person is alive and loved as I recall these experiences. 

Today I do not know the younger generation that stepped up to lead the organizational vision and direction. From the outside looking in, it appears changed, as all things evolve with time; however, my experience reminds me that one’s perception from the outside is not the same as engaging face to face in dialogue on common ground in a common interest. They will make the organization their own, just as we made it ours, carrying it forward from those who came before.

If COVID hadn’t created this irritable social distancing necessity, I would be out reconnecting in person, attending meetings, seminars, and workshops if for no other reason than to renew old friendships and make new ones. Until then, I stir these memories into life for the future generations, even if it means revisiting the past with a tender heart.  

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Shine Your Light in the Darkness

Shine Your Light in the Darkness Online

Everywhere you look there seems to be negativity and division, especially in the news and on social media.  I find it so depressing.  A few months back when this “new normal” began, I felt that we were working to support and uplift each other with prayers, funny memes, and animal videos.  Everyone seemed unified in their own unique way to getting us through the difficult times ahead. 


Now that were three plus months into this societal change due to COVID, we’re all tired and a bit short tempered.  We want to go out to dinner, enjoy normal summer activities, and receive Jesus at Mass without all the restrictions and safety guidelines. I believe that most of all, we want reassurance that our world is not falling apart.    


The exhaustion and negativity is most evident if you spend any time on social media. Facebook, Twitter, and even the once idealistic Instagram are a bit dark and gloomy these days.  Friends, family, and Catholics are fighting among themselves and disrespecting each other about so many things – from big, serious issues to even the small and trivial. It hurts my heart to see so many of those I love and care for being divided into opposing camps online.


How do we get through this darkness without irreparable damage? 


I was reminded today of a post I wrote last year about how we, as Christians, combat the negative online.  In “3 Steps to Shining Your Light Online: How Christians Create a Tidal Wave of God’s Love on Social Media” I wrote that we can’t give over our online platforms to the darkness permeating our society.  Christians are called to be the light in the world, and we can create a tidal wave of God’s love online if we work together to bring light to social media. 


How do we do it?  We can start with three things:


·      Tithe our social media posts to God

·      Engage with others online as we do in real life

·      Show mercy to others on social media


These three are actually very simple to do on social media if we put our minds to it.  (You can go back to my original post to read more about all three.)  We’ve lost the idea that social media can add content and real value to people’s lives.  We need to go back to the beginning.  Social media was created to bind people together in community, and it still has the potential to connect individuals in a positive way if we choose to use it that way. 



If all of us work together to be a light, we can bring back hope and we can support one another in the midst of the doom and gloom permeating social media. 


I’m the first one to admit it and say I need to take my own advice!  What am I waiting for? I need to get back to the basics of building real connections online. Will you join me?


Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Painted Rocks

One of the small pleasures during my daily walk along the sidewalks and creek trails are finding brightly painted rocks.

This Spring our neighborhood Facebook pages came alive, encouraging each other to do small things to help entertain the multitude of young children taking a walk with their families. Of the various “I Spy” activities, the “Painted Rocks” quickly emerged as a local favorite and grew in popularity until it took a life of its own.

For four months now, painted rocks appear regularly along sidewalks in various walking areas and trails, bringing joy to children and adults. In March, a closed Facebook group for budding artists, young and old was born inviting neighbors, “With extra time on our hands here is a group and easy craft for you to do with your kids and share joy when you find a painted rock or leave one for others to find!”  As artists post pictures of their newest collections and identify which trails to follow, pictures and comments fill the page.

One artist noted for her creative themes admits, “I have never drawn or painted before. I love seeing kids find my rocks and y’all posting them. I’ve found a new hobby thanks to you all and this group.” Another offers this insight, “My attitude is to give and expect nothing in return. We create the rocks and drop them hoping to make someone’s day - whether they just look at them, take them home or re-hide them.”

The painted rocks motivate young and old to step outside and get exercise, adding an element of fun during walks and bicycle rides. Another neighbor chimes in, “We love looking for the rocks on our morning walks. We can’t wait to see what we find. Thank you for being a light and bringing joy. I laugh and smile every time I find a rock.”

Parents continue to encourage painters to keep creating, “These rocks are how I keep my kids motivated during our walks.” Younger artists also contribute their own creations with colorful glitter and stickers. One student proudly created a rock sporting the face of Dwayne Johnson. (aka “The Rock” – get it?)

I expect there are now thousands of painted rocks in our neighborhood, whether sitting along a trail, in a child’s “treasure bag,” or even at the bottom of the creeks, launched by rambunctious youths. This simple act of painting and hiding or seeking and finding a colorful rock brings a calming respite from the negativity and stress of the day.

Friday, May 22, 2020

My Daily Walk: Signs of Appreciation

Appreciating others during quaratine lockdown

One thing I’ve noticed on my daily walk are the yard signs. They started before the Quarantine because our school district likes to recognize students who achieve a 4 or 5 on their Advanced Placement tests. Then came the Seniors 2020 signs, sold every year as a fundraiser for a school organization. These joined other fundraiser signs for different high school activities: dance team, band and guard, softball (we have one of these), etc. 

Since Quarantine we experienced a flurry of yard signs across the neighborhood. Professional photographers printed Senior signs for the students they photographed. Private schools did one for every senior by name. Next came signs for 5th graders and 8th graders, also with names. Anyone who missed their final year at school, there’s a sign. Last came the teacher/staff appreciation signs – “An Awesome Teacher Lives Here!”

Leading up to Mother’s Day weekend, yet another sign popped up across our neighborhood – a round sign saying, “This Mom is the BOMB!” It started from a local #Strong community organization that provides volunteer service for all in times of need. The donated signs were distributed for free…with the added bonus that when you pick up the sign from the local coffee shop, you could also purchase a small package from another local small business to leave as a gift. Then you place the sign in the yard of someone you think is doing an awesome job as a mom. 

I’ve even seen a few yard signs for those working in the medical profession. By the grace of God, I do not know anyone personally who has this virus. But while I don’t see it first-hand, I know my neighbors in the medical profession ARE seeing it and working hard to treat people and save lives. 

Yesterday, our seniors drove by the high school to drop off textbooks and pick up their cap and gown orders. They were also given a yard sign, bringing the current number of signs in my yard up to four. 

Personally, I love the signs popping up in the yards over the past 8-10 weeks. It’s a little reminder that someone out there deserves recognition and appreciation, whether it’s working hard to earn a high score on an AP test, or missing your senior year of a UIL sport/activity, or that a student just ended what was supposed to be a special year of school (elementary, middle, or high school) in an unforeseen and socially isolated manner fraught with disappointment and frustration. Every teacher had to adapt to online teaching out of their comfort zone. Every Mom right now is “the BOMB” and deserves a sign – and hopefully the Dad signs start for Father’s Day in June.

Honestly, everyone deserves a sign of recognition and appreciation for the job they’re doing. Whether they’ve been working out of the house in an essential business – supply chain, grocery, utilities, healthcare – or keeping it together doing online work from home. Even those furloughed waiting to be recalled need to be reminded that they are special and not forgotten. We are living in unprecedented times and as the country reopens (thank God!) we may face continued uncertainty in finding our way. 

So today, take a moment to send someone you know a sign – physical or virtual – that they are important, recognized and appreciated.  

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