Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year from Of Sound Mind and Spirit
Shelly and I (Lisa) and our families spent the final days of 2016 with our families at our family ranch in central Texas.  After going on a long walk Saturday afternoon we decided to record a short New Year's Eve video for you about setting goals in the New Year.  We picked a spot looking out over the pasture, set up the tripod with camera and got started.  Little did we know that our loved ones would all want in on the action - and that we would never regain control over the train wreck that incurred Live on Facebook.

To save you some of 2017 you wouldn't get back by watching the original video, here's a taste of our crazy family reflecting on 2016, looking forward to 2017, and everything else in between.

Happy New Year!  

May your 2017 be filled with much happiness and many blessings.  

Lisa & Shelly

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Five Simple Ways to Experience Advent

Five Simple Ways to Experience Advent
The season of Advent is a gift from God.  It is a time to wait, watch and experience Christ breaking into our ordinary lives  How can we observe Advent and wait for Christ while growing in faith?  Years ago our previous parish priest gave us five simple ways to experience Advent.  These 5 ways stuck with me (Lisa) because they were attainable in the midst of what can be a crazy, busy time leading up to Christmas.  I wanted to share them with you just in case you, like me, need a little boost to get us through these last weeks of Advent.

1) Attend Mass.  In addition to attending Sunday Mass, Advent is a good occasion to try and add an additional Mass to your week.  Daily mass times are varied, so it might be possible to find a mass time near your home or close to work that you can carve out time to attend.

2) Spend time with the Word of God.  A great place to start is with the daily readings.  They can be found online in a missal or reading on an app on your phone or tablet.  During Advent, there are an abundance of devotionals, email lists and apps to help you spend a few minutes daily with the Word.

3)  Make space in your day to Breathe.  Find a moment, maybe when when you are already waiting for something else, driving or folding laundry to invite the Holy Spirit to be with you.  Take a deep breath, remember that God is always with us and watch for Him moving in your life.

4) Pray as a family.  Make a point to pray at mealtime or at night together with a specific intention towards waiting or light your Advent candles on Sunday as a family while you offer a prayer.  My personal favorite is to find a short Advent devotional to pray daily with the kids.

5)  Be surprised in the morning that you wake up.  If you accomplish nothing else on this list for Advent, do this.  When you wake up each morning, be thankful for the simple gift of life every day.

Advent is the most difficult season of the year for me, so these five simple ways to experience Advent really work in my day to day life.   

How is your Advent going? What are your simple ways to experience this season of waiting?

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Life Built on Faith: What Happens When Our Children Stumble

It's not about the setback it's about the come back.  Romans 5:3-5
A few weeks ago we received a comment on a post from May 2015 titled “Watching our Children Stumble” in which I (Shelly) wrote about a particularly painful moment faced by my older daughter.  The recent comment reminded me that I haven’t written a follow-up post about how God revealed Himself in her life during the year that followed.  

To understand what happened afterwards, it’s necessary that you read the original post first.  Go read it…. I’ll wait for you.

*sniff – I still get teary thinking about that night and the struggle to move forward with a positive attitude. A real “character building” moment for her, right? Because that’s what we say when we don’t get what we wanted, when we fall short of the goal. We shake our head and say that the bad experience builds our character.

Did you know we get that phrase from the Bible?

It’s from a lesson St. Paul wrote in Romans 5:3-5, “that affliction produces endurance, and endurance, proven character, and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us.”
  • It’s through suffering an affliction that produces our ability to Endure
  • And being able to endure suffering is what defines our Proven Character.
  • And by developing our Proven Character we discover HOPE, which does not disappoint.

My daughter accepted her disappointment, then brushed herself off and went forward with her life. As a former officer, she was still afforded the opportunity to attend state convention and additional leadership retreat events. That fall she competed a second time in Radio Broadcasting – although once again fell short of her goal when her team earned the dreaded 3rd place (only 1st & 2nd advance to State). While struggling under a heavy academic load, she wondered aloud if maybe God’s plans were right, because He knew she would need this extra time to focus on her studies in order to stay in the top of her class.

Throughout the year, she continued to step up and serve her chapter, even though she didn’t hold a formal title or leadership position. She worked with Greenhands (new members), served on various committees, encouraged others, led a CDE team, began competing in public speaking, and recommitted to her passion for all things blue and gold.

Last year I wrote that when life gets challenging, my daughter often turns to Jeremiah 29:11 -  "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

A year after that disappointing night, my daughter ran for chapter officer again and this time was elected Historian. She also received the chapter Horizon's Award, acknowledging someone who has a bright horizon and future in FFA. A few nights later, I asked her if she could go back in time to that night, what would she tell herself?
“I wouldn’t,” she replied, “because everything that happened this year happened for a reason. Everything that happened was something that I had to go through to grow and understand. If I had been officer another year, I think I still would have been the same person. I wouldn’t have grown, wouldn’t have matured. Over this past year, I began understanding what it takes to be a servant leader – you don’t have to have a title. I think that’s what I had to learn and understand. I didn’t get it before, but I get it now.
It’s not about the setback in our life; it’s about the comeback.

The setback forces us to look inside ourselves and decide what it is we truly want. Where we want to go. And how are we going to get there. It’s not about being stopped. It’s about discerning what we truly believe.

Following God’s plans requires a foundation of faith and trust that He will lead you down the right path. Four of the hardest words in prayer are “Thy Will Be Done.”  Because honestly, we often want our will to be done.

However, we cannot be changed without there being a change in our lives.  The caterpillar cannot become a butterfly without experiencing the metamorphosis. Likewise, God cannot transform our lives without our trust in Him and our surrender to His will.

Building a life based on faith reminds us that God is about a rebirth. Our belief in something bigger than ourselves and placing our trust in Him during times of suffering leads to “hope which does not disappoint because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts.

As I post this, my daughter is in the fall of her Senior year of High School with a Lone Star degree from FFA. She took first place (out of 60 speakers) in a Public Speaking event last summer, using a speech based on her experience last year, and is already committed to attend Texas A&M University next fall (#AggieBound). Today, she leads her Broadcasting team in the Texas State FFA LDE competition. So if you don't mind too much - would you offer up a prayer for the team to perform their very best. Thank you! 

UPDATE: The team advanced to the Finals Round. Saturday morning they will be one of ten teams, out of 740 entries, to compete for the top spot. Thank you for your prayers - they had a flawless performance, but now I'm giving it all up to God!  Although, perhaps an intercessory prayer or two to Venerable Fulton Sheen wouldn't hurt. Love to all!

SECOND UPDATE: I'm so proud of these girls. For the second time this weekend, they delivered a flawless performance. We held our breath during the awards ceremony, and to be honest, when the announcer said 3rd place I was certain that we'd earned First Place. Ah, but they called our name for 2nd place/State Runner-Up. At that level of competition it all comes down to judges preference and we were super-excited to be number 2 in the great state of Texas with so many amazing competitors. 

Suffering produces Endurance produces Character produces HOPE

Monday, November 28, 2016

Advent is Here - Are You Awake?

Advent: the four Sundays before Christmas when we prepare and open our hearts for Christ's birth in the world.

The readings at Mass this first weekend encourage us to Wake Up, Stay Awake, Rejoice and Walk in the Light of the Lord!  Isaiah prophesies a vision of "end times," not a bleak time of chaos, rather an opportunity for the world to be transformed for good. An end time in which we receive instruction and Wisdom from God that brings about peace between the nations, peace within all peoples.

Matthew 24:42 - Stay Awake - Advent is HerePsalm 122 calls us to go Rejoicing, while in Romans, St. Paul reminds us that when we know Christ, we are changed forever. Everything we learn brings us closer to Him and we cannot go back to being who we were before. We are excited by this message, because the time is now; we must awaken from our sleep, rouse our drowsy hearts, throw off the darkness, and shine in the light and peace of the world.
Finally, Matthew's gospel recounts Jesus' own words commanding us to Stay Awake. Don't be caught by surprise, as the world was during the cleansing flood of Noah's era. Be awake, be prepared, be at peace - for we who know Christ in our hearts know what we must do in our lives. We know that peace starts with us. In our words. In our actions. In our love.

But the world wears at us, beats on us, entices us, lulls us to rest, to lay down, to set Christ's work aside, and to succumb to sleep again.

Practical Ways to Live the Readings

This first week of Advent, we look for practical ways to live these readings throughout the whirlwind of our busy lives. For example, Isaiah talks about climbing the mountain of God to receive His instruction. God's wisdom isn't passively given to us, but requires our purposeful action - climbing the mountain. We can live that by making time to be in the presence of God. It can be as simple as reading Scripture daily, participating in a Bible Study, reading a new book to learn more about your faith, or attending adoration or a daily Mass. Just one of these will help you stay awake and centered during Advent.

We can Rejoice through prayer by praying daily, such as saying the Our Father while going about your daily work, meditating on a decade (or more) of the Rosary, being thankful for our many blessings with our kids at the dinner table. However you pray, the Psalm 122 reminds us to pray for unity where there is discord, in our families and community. We confidently pray that Christ will bring peace to all.

When St. Paul calls us to Awaken and throw off the darkness, we pause to examine our lives and consider how, as followers of Christ, we actively live that out loud. Do we complain about circumstances or do we seek to find - or be - a solution. Seek loving answers. Extend a hand of friendship to others. Pay it forward.

Lastly, the command to Stay Awake! In every choice you make, you are choosing whether that action turns your heart toward God or away from God. When you chose to pray, you are turning toward God. When you put down your phone and pay attention to the person across from you, you are turning toward God. Jesus reminds us to be consciously aware of our daily interactions, so look for daily opportunities to turn away from a selfish action and turn instead toward a serving action, reflecting God's love which in turn brings peace.

Advent starts these weeks of preparation with a call to Stay Awake. Be mindful. 
Be purposeful in...
                     Expecting...... Christ.

For every day of our lives is a day closer to our salvation.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

My Attempt at Authenticity Online

Over the years I (Lisa) have struggled with social media and comparisons to what I see posted online.  I know I'm not the only one who has spent time on Facebook and then whines to my husband, "Why don't we ever do XYZ..." Spending time on social can bring out that green eyed monster and make yourself pretty miserable.  I have to say the worst was when a friend told me she'd been feeling down about her life based on what I was posting.  Everything looked so happy and upbeat all the time.  Ugh.  Never in a million years would I want to make someone else feel like I felt sometimes.  The quiet truth is - when things aren't going well or I'm upset with something, I don't post.  Or, I try to post something happy to make myself feel better rather than share the truth.  Believe it or not, life isn't always a pitcher of Friday Night Margaritas!
Quote - Life Isn't Always a Pitcher of Friday Night Margaritas from Lisa Jones

So, in the interest of showing my authentic self on social I posted a picture of my messy upstairs hall closet on Facebook and Instagram over the weekend.  It was bad.  I couldn't get the door closed without pushing the stacks back and quickly shoving the door closed.  Cleaning up this closet has been on my to do list since Spring.  But really, it's upstairs and I'm mostly downstairs, so I just avoid it.  The closet issue finally came to a head while trying to find gift bags for my nephew's birthday presents.  All the wrapping supplies and gift bags are in that closet.  I almost bought new gift bags at the grocery store for $6 each rather than fight through that closet.  But seriously, buying new gift bags when I have a bazillion upstairs is just crazy.

I found three gift bags in the closet - well, in truth, I asked my son to find them cause I didn't want to deal with the closet.  He succeeded, but made an even bigger mess in the process, or that's what I'm telling myself as the reason I couldn't get the door closed any longer.  So, Sunday afternoon...  I trudged up there with my earbuds and lots of podcasts to listen to while cleaning and got to work.   Three and half hours, some sweat, several bags of garbage, and piles of frustration later I got it cleaned up.

In the meantime, my friends were having a field day over my sharing the picture of the closet mess.  Some were horrified, some  had similar spaces in their homes, but most expressed shock and surprise that I had a closet that looked like that. HA!  Nice to know I can still surprise people.  So, here it is.  My before and after picture in all its messy glory.
Being authentic online means sharing my messy closet before and after pictures

Now, if I want to be really real and authentic, I would show you a picture of the state of my home office at the moment.  A closet is one thing, but to acknowledge my office is that out of sorts is a little too much for me.

Well, maybe I should....  in the spirit of being real...

Looking at it makes me want to cry... That table doesn't belong there, there are stacks of stuff on the right that are difficult to see,  stacks of papers on the left just out of view, and a chair I can't ever seem to sit in due to the books.  Just forget about getting through the minefield to play piano.  But I sit with my back to it all when at my desk and can avoid looking at it.  One day it will be clean again and pretty. A girl can hope...

Ok.  Your turn.  How are you your authentic self online?

Life Isn't Always a Pitcher of Friday Night Margaritas - Quote from Lisa Jones

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