Thursday, December 4, 2014

Teaching Waiting during Advent

For seven simple ways to help kids understand the season of waiting during Advent, check out my latest post over at Catechist's Journey -  Waiting is a Lesson in Advent.  

May you have a blessed Advent.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Actively Waiting: Advent Giving Challenge

My commute to work is about 45-60 minutes each way depending on the traffic.  In the evening I usually listen to an audio book, but most mornings are spent listening to “Seize the Day” with Gus Lloyd on Sirius XM - The Catholic Channel.

Every year Gus hosts Project Christmas inspired by the White Envelope Project  (Click the link if you’re not familiar with the story.) 

For an unknown number of years (at least the last two that I've been listening) Gus uses Project Christmas to support Food for the Poor, the largest international relief and development organization in the United States.

After a week of feasting and a weekend of shopping, it’s time to pause and support those around the world who will have no Christmas. This morning, Gus hosted special guest, Food for the Poor Executive Director, Angel Aloma, to talk about how Food for the Poor as an interdenominational Christian ministry serves the poor in 17 countries throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, providing housing, healthcare, education, fresh water, emergency relief, and micro-enterprise assistance to hundreds of thousands of people.

Listening to the people call in on Seize the Day and talk their donating and who they are honoring and why so was uplifting and inspiring. Various people called to donate in memory of a loved one who died this year.  Others called to donate to feed or clothe three children on behalf of their own three children.  And so it went all morning.

Do Something

It got me thinking that lately I've been writing about the corporal works of mercy, that we should be actively waiting for Christ, and that means Do Something. 

Wouldn't it be great if everyone who visits Of Sound Mind and Spirit  went over to Food for the Poor and bought a fruit tree for just $10?  

We could provide a whole orchard of fruit trees for people.

For just $10 you can provide a fruit tree that offers food, shade, and supplemental income. (Click the image to the left.)

$15 to feed a family for a month
$25 for 20 chicks that will lay eggs and provide the family with both food and income
$31 clothes a child for year.
$41.80 feeds a child for a year.
$50 provides emergency medical supplies

Maybe you want to donate three little piggies:  three little piggies only cost $100. 

Of course there are more opportunities than this short list.

So here is your Advent/Christmas Project Challenge dear friend, if you feel so called, please join me in donating just $10 towards this worthy cause.  Then come back and leave us a comment to let us know who you are honoring with your donation.  I hope you'll join me and together we can do something.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Be Watchful! Be Alert! Actively Waiting for Christ

Did anyone else notice that all of the Sunday readings throughout November focused on a call to action?  God doesn't want us to be passive in our relationship with Him.  He wants us to live active lives doing all things for Him.  He has given us the talents and he wants us to do something with them for Him.

And doing for Him also means doing for others.
In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus gave us a very simple formula for the Law of Love in the Greatest Commandment.
"Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"
He said to him,
"You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments."

From Matthew 25:1-13 Jesus tells a parable that cautions us to be prepared and stay awake as we wait for him.  A week later we heard another parable from Matthew 25:14-30 about using talents to increase their return.  Like the servants, our talents are gifts on loan from God and we have a responsibility to use these gifts, to develop them and see what they yield.  Like the master in the parable, God will come without notice to claim the return and give you a new talent. 

Last Sunday we celebrated Christ the King, the end of our Liturgical Year, with the Gospel reading from Matthew that defines Corporal Works of Mercy, outlining the very action God asks from us out of our Love for Him and one another.

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and again we are being called to action when, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus said to his disciples: “Be watchful! Be alert! 

Jesus isn't asking us to wait quietly, passively, but with action. Be alert. Be aware. Be prepared!

What are we waiting for? We have received an invitation to know God, to love Him. Too often, particularly during the holiday season, we are too busy. We get caught up in what we think we have to do, our duties, our responsibilities.  It’s not just about the doing, it’s about the loving. We can still do what we need to do for our jobs and our families while showing God how much love Him, by taking care to express our love for one another in our actions. Christ is God’s gift to the world and He will return. In the preparation of our own homes this Advent season, don’t forget to use your actions to also show the world and the Lord how much we love Him by loving one another.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

7 Quick Takes: Giving Thanks

Surprisingly, it's been a really restful day in our household. My three year old is mesmerized by the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special, so I’m sitting on the couch reminiscing about this past week and all the things that happened for which I’m thankful. Here's just a quick look

Medicine: About five or six weeks ago, my dad thought he pulled a muscle while playing soccer with my nephew. Last week he finally saw the doctor who diagnosed a torn Achilles tendon. Last Friday they scheduled the surgery for Tuesday to repair the damage. Everything went exactly as planned; he charmed everyone there and is on the long road to recovery.

Equitation over fences during horse show
Guardian Angels: Since the girls would be out of school all week, my older daughter accepted an invitation to ride her horse, Charley Brown, in a special lesson held at an outdoor cross-country eventing facility.  Even though her dad usually takes her, I was able to take the day off work and go.  My mom-super-spidey-sense tingled making me anxious, though I just chalked it up to my dad’s surgery taking place at the same time. However, Brown got really excited at being outside galloping on such a beautiful morning. He sailed over the very first “Welcome Jump,” landed big, and my daughter fell forward onto his neck and slid off the side. It didn't look like a huge fall, but she landed hard. I've seen her take some big falls – and this wasn't one of them – so I didn't freak out, but when I got to her I could see she was in pain. After being checked out, she was able to get up but the lesson was over. She did mount and put Brown into a walk/trot, but the pain prevented her from being able to post or jump. Apparently she bruised her tailbone, a painful injury that takes weeks to heal. I am so relieved it wasn't anything more serious. (The picture is from a show earlier this year, not the lesson.)

Growing Up: Normally, I would have sat with my mother during Dad’s surgery, but we’d already scheduled my daughter’s special riding lesson and couldn't cancel, although in hindsight, I wish we had. Lisa and our brother were both out of town for the holiday week and the surgery was scheduled rather quickly. Instead my 12 yr old daughter stayed with her Nana and helped. I’m so thankful that she showed the maturity and caring towards her grandparents to step up and be there.


President Bush Dinner
Surprises: Four and a score years ago I spent a summer internship in Washington DC in the Office of Public Liaison for the Bush 41 administration. Now I belong to the Bush Alumni Association and receive invitations to all kinds of interesting lectures and dinners in College Station as fundraisers for the library foundation. One of the more recent invitations was to a special Vintner’s Dinner with Dennis Miller as the guest speaker. I laughingly showed it to my father at the office in one of those “oh ha ha look at these invitations-who goes to these things” moment and he surprised me with tickets! What a fascinating adventure!  Who goes to these things? Well, my husband recognized former Houston Oilers player Ray Childress, the former head coach of Texas A&M R. C. Slocum, and Wade Phillips, son of the iconic legendary beloved Oilers head coach Bum Phillips, and former head football coach of Dallas Cowboys.  The three couples at our table included a French vineyard representative and two business owners.  There were six or seven wines paired with dinner – I lost count – with some surprisingly delicious food. Dennis Miller performed a splendid mix of humor with respect towards former President Bush 41 who was in the audience with his wife Barbara. 


Playground funNeighborhoods: We've had such beautiful weather for the past week that I've been taking my two younger kids to the nearby playgrounds. They've had so much fun chasing, racing up to the top of the play structure to slide down. My three year old is getting really good riding his tricycle on the wide sidewalks. It's a real blessing to have a great neighborhood where my children can bike and play safely.

Family Dinners: Dad’s surgery on Tuesday changed all our Thanksgiving dinner plans. Instead of heading out to the ranch for dinner with his sisters and their families, we celebrated a quiet dinner at home. Wednesday afternoon my husband and I organized the food, prepped and chopped for the dressing, and baked the pecan pie. Mom and I made the dressing at my parent’s house, the guys watched football, and the kids played really well together. We left a little later than expected because Dad was in such a great mood, but we knew he needed to get some rest. What could have been a stressful holiday turned out to be an easy-peasy no-stress event. #everybodywins

You: Lastly, I'm so very thankful for all of you who visits with us here at Of Sound Mind and Spirit. The past five years have been a journey I never could have predicted and it's been a real blessing making so many new friends. I pray for you often and wish the best for you always. Thank you for visiting with us, commenting, and sharing our time.
Of Sound Mind and Spirit - Thanksgiving Prayer for Families

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Counting our Blessings After a Disappointing Morning

After last weekend, I thought I’d learned my lesson of not trying to be productive, but watchful and appreciative of those quality moments.

God’s not finished with me yet.

Reflection on a series of events from Saturday morning reveals another interesting lesson. How do you deal with disappointment?

Saturday morning brimmed with exciting hope and opportunity.
  • My daughter left before dawn to compete in her FFA LDE Radio Broadcasting Area competition, where the top two teams advance to State. 
  • The impending stormy weather wasn't supposed to strike our area until noon, so off I went for two hours (alone) to take advantage of a morning sale. 
  • My OSU Cowboy husband would be driving to Waco to represent his half of a house divided with his Sic ‘Em Bears brother at the big OSU-Baylor football game.

Instead it turned into one of those mornings that we tell our children “builds character.” You can probably guess.

My daughter sends us a text, “It was bad. Our mic levels were all messed up and [something else was going on] so we didn't have time to fix them. I’m not sure we’ll even place.” As parents your response must be empathetic: Oh sweetie, that’s such a bummer. How disappointing. I know your team worked so hard for this. There’ll be next year honey.

The store I’m headed to doesn't open at 9 a.m. but 10 a.m.  No big deal – I’ll pop into another nearby store on this side of town and browse for some ideas. As I turn into the parking lot something shifts inside the car engine and red lights blink across my console. Alarmed, I pull into a parking space on the far outside of the lot and turn off the car. Don’t panic…  Turn on the engine again, one of the lights has disappeared, but it wasn't the engine light.  No!!!!!!  Can I drive it to the shop?  I ease it into drive, give it a little gas, and roll into the next parking lane. Nope, something feels off, like I’m driving with the parking brake on, and I know I’ll just do more damage if I try to take it on the road.

For the past two days all the weatherman talked about is this impending clash of fronts/weather system that will bring hurricane style storms, with tornadoes, lightning, straight-line winds on top of us all Saturday afternoon.  And I’m sitting with a not-working car in a parking lot.  #facepalm

My husband forgoes his trip, coming out to meet me instead, and waits with me for the tow truck driver. He reminds me that I was supposed to take the car in and have two recall notices repaired, not to mention get the oil changed. (I’ve been too busy! Well, are you too busy now? Ouch, point taken.)

This leads me back to my original question, How do you deal with bad moments? A Saturday morning that brimmed with exciting hope and opportunity, quickly turned into a day of misfortune.  

As I sat stewing in my husband’s truck, I recalled the words of C. S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters (#21).
Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. … Now you will have noticed that nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him.
We tell our children that moments like this build character, those mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.  What we really mean is you get to choose your reaction to these minor inconveniences and build good habits for yourself.   It’s easy to be a person of good character when life is going well, but your true character is revealed when life falls apart, when things don’t go as planned. Do you let these problems sour your mood and ruin your whole day? No one is hurt by messing up in competition. No one is suffering as a result having car trouble. Yes, life is full of disappointments and “but that wasn’t how I planned to spend my day!”
This week we look ahead to Thanksgiving Thursday, so let’s turn this morning around and consider our blessings.
  • Even though it’s her first year to compete in this LDE, my daughter’s team made it to Area.
  • We were able to get a tow truck called out before the bad weather struck.
  • My husband loves me so much he sacrificed his trip to put me first and make sure I was okay.

Seriously, I don’t have a thing in the world to complain about. God is good. All the time.  And All the Time, God is Good.

Sunday morning postscript:

My daughter called us late Saturday afternoon. The judges didn't deduct points for the microphone issue and her team won First Place! They’re advancing to the State competition on December 5-6.  I screamed so loud you probably heard me. She’s strutting around today reminding me that she gets a letter jacket now.

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