Thursday, January 2, 2020

Face the New Year with Trust

Forever, 2019 will be the year God fulfilled so many promises. In the future when doubt creeps into my life, this year is where I'll go for reassurance. God reached into my crazy over busy life and called me to look up and see how He loves me, never leaves me, and delivers on His promises in His time, not mine. After years of hearing "be patient" in my prayer life, 2019 is when God delivered the answers in ways that not only stirred my heart, but filled my soul.

You have probably experienced something similar in your own faith life, or maybe you're still waiting. If you're also hearing "be patient" when you pray for something life-changing, I'm here to tell you to persevere. Don't give up that call to be patient and wait, even though it may be years before His promises are delivered. Be where you are, trust that He is working in your life throughout the waiting.

Only God knows what you need and when to deliver it. Even as I type the words, this seems trite. But I'm on the other side of that prayer - years of waiting - years of asking God - why do you put this on my heart if it's not something I can have? What do I have to do to make this happen in my life?

And in my mind's eye He just smiles gently, lovingly, before turning aside and going back to His other work. However, He pulls us forward wherever we are. We work, we live, we pray. We weep. We rant. We wait. We trust. 

Wherever you are, He is always working in your life. Quietly, behind the scenes. Praise His name, even in the darkest moments. Give Him your heart, your work, your good days and bad days.

The Promises He delivered to me are personal and one day I'll share the details. But know that receiving those Promises opened up an endless well of grace and trust. If God says something will happen, who am I to ever doubt that He will deliver it in His time.

What does 2020 hold?  Only He knows. After ascending the mountain of promise, the light shining so brightly in my eyes, I find myself starting this year at a new crossroads. 2020 starts with a new tension, an energy building up, even though at the moment I'm running in place, looking at the multiple roads before me trying to discern where they lead and which to choose. 

The movie Finding Nemo comes into my mind - we are Marlin, in the whale. 
Dory: He says it's time to let go! Everything's gonna be all right! 
Marlin: How do you know? How do you know something bad isn't gonna happen?
Dory: I don't.

If God is everything, all powerful, all knowing. If God can deliver on so many promises in one year of my life, who am I to not surrender all my insecurities and worries upon Him. God is my deliverer. No matter which path I choose - you choose - we do not walk alone. We have our faith, our friends, the saints, Mary gently guiding us toward her Son, and God always watching, waiting patiently for us to do our thing and bring Him with us on our journey.

A famous saint said, Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.

This is what 2020 holds for us - Prayer and Work. Surrender and Trust. 

This year put your life in His hands to guide your path, ask Him to place His promises for you on your heart. 

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Prepare Your Spirit: Advent Resources for the Busy Heart

Advent. A time of preparation for Christ's coming. 

More often the time leading up to Advent feels like a building up of so much busy, so much noise, so much to buy, so much to prepare...for a December of decorations, parties, cookies, and making picture perfect memories. 

This past week, I realized that the week of Thanksgiving has evolved into a frenzy of Pre-Black Friday specials, "Black Friday Eve", Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber-Monday. We are being purposefully directed towards worldly things, driven to shop now, urged on by a competitive spirit of not overpaying later for something on sale now. 

Advent is a time to prepare our spirit - one of hope, peace, joy, and love. Don't stress over creating a perfect home, instead make time to create a more loving heart. 

There are no limitations on finding a daily devotion, guide, or aid for preparing your heart with love and kindness. Below are just a few I've seen that offer you the opportunity to break away from your Martha moments and be Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Joseph 

Rejoice! Advent Meditations with Mary 

EWTN Advent Season 2019

Best Advent Ever - Dynamic Catholic

Advent Gospel Reflection -Word on Fire

Advent Companion - Magnificat  

Sacred Advent Retreat - Loyola Press 

Messages of Hope (ebook) Ave Maria Press

The Living Gospel: Daily Devotions for Advent 2019  (ebook) Ave Maria Press 

The Gospel of Luke - 24 chapters in 24 days of December

This list is not meant to overwhelm you with one more thing to cram into an already full season. The challenge is to find one that speaks to you and that works for your life. Maybe you're like me - sitting in the parking lot at work getting in 5-minutes before heading to another full day. Maybe you're able to fit it in while sitting in the carpool line or at sports practice. Whatever works for you, whatever speaks to you.

Even if you're seeing this during the second week of Advent, it's never too late to add a little focused prayer into your life. 
”Therefore, stay awake! For you do not know which day your Lord will come.” - Matthew 24:42

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Our Lady of Charity Novena: Day Six

Lisa and I are humbled to be hosting Day 6 of the Our Lady of Charity Novena leading up to her feast day this weekend, September 8. We can't say enough nice things about Maria or her latest book, as evidenced during our conversation with her earlier this summer.

Finding Mary

Coming to know Our Lady of Charity, through my friendship with Maria, presents yet another opportunity to ponder our Holy Mother's many appearances across the world. Truly, she is everywhere, a powerful mediator with Christ through the Holy Spirit, demonstrating her graces in a loving and nurturing way. When we seek her, Mary continues to come to us under many names and titles, honored across culture and country.

A century-old print of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, given to me by my grandmother, has hung in my bedroom since I was a small child. This summer I experienced encounters with Mary under the (new to me) names Our Lady of La Leche, Our Lady of Prompt Succor, and Our Lady of Charity. While she may not visit us through any visible apparition, there are so many small (and sometimes large) "coincidences" that reaffirm her constant presence in our lives, always guiding us towards Christ's love and salvation on the cross.

Even "Cachita's" feast day, Sept 8, represents more than one personal touchpoint for me. My early career grew partly because of another Storm associated with September 8, this one in 1900 Galveston, TX. Sept 8 is the original due date of not one, but both of my daughters, three years apart. And this year, with inspiration from Maria, I started a journey towards Marian Consecration which will come to fruition on Our Lady of Charity's feast day - Sept 8. Truly, Mary's graces are woven throughout our personal lives like those sticky spider webs you walk into without noticing.

As we continue our novena, we ask Our Lady of Charity - of Love - to strengthen our courage in the storm of life, knowing that our faith is magnified when united in her blessed intercession.

Our Lady of Charity Novena Prayers

Most pure Virgin Mary, blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. We deplore our sins, knowing your Son died on the cross for our sins. May it be the fruit of our prayer that we atone for our sins on earth that we may bless eternally Jesus in heaven.

O beloved Virgin Mary, my Mother, I consecrate myself to you today: my eyes, my ears, my tongue, my heart, in other words, my whole being. I am yours, Oh Mother of Mercy, guard me and defend me as your son/daughter. Amen.

Ask for your petition here

REMEMBER, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.

Want to Read More

For more reflection on how we can be more aware of Mary's presence in our lives, drop by Meditating on the Hail Mary, or Mary in the Front Seat.  Leave a comment telling us how Mary makes her presence known to you, and you will be entered into a drawing for a copy of Maria's book.

Many thanks to Maria Morera Johnson for inviting us to share in her devotion. If you haven't picked up a copy of her latest book Our Lady of Charity: How a Cuban Devotion to Mary Helped me Grow in Faith and Love (Ave Maria Press), why haven't you?

Thursday, August 15, 2019

A Conversation with Maria Johnson

A Conversation with Maria Johnson about her new book, "Our Lady of Charity"
If you can get through our laughing, we invite you to listen to our conversation with Maria Johnson as we discuss her latest book, “Our Lady of Charity: How a Cuban Devotion to Mary Helped me Grow in Faith and Love.”

Interview with Maria Johnson

Based on the journal kept during her first return to Cuba in 2015, Maria unpacks her spiritual journey, a little bit of Cuban history, and the devotion to Our Lady which continues to be relevant during our current stormy climate.

In this interview, that she hopes her publicist will never hear, you will learn about:

  • Maria’s Pilgrimage to Cuba after 50 years of political exile
  • The gift she offered to Our Lady of Charity
  • Her Private Audience with the Pope and the personal gift received from him.
  • A specific Challenge given to her by an Uncle (not the Bishop)
  • A tender moment she saw in Pope Francis and how she responded…
(And that’s just the first 20-minutes)

Stay tuned for more talk and laughter about:
  • Becoming our mothers
  • Her calling to become a writer
  • Making a Marian Consecration
  • How to approach failure….
  • The Best Hook in a book ever!
But Don’t Miss…
  • Behind the scenes details from presenting her gift to OLC
  • How Maria became a 3rd class relic of St. Pope John Paul II
  • The response she’s received about her book 
  • Why OLC is an important catechesis for Salvation History
This is the podcast that never ends….  until someone gets a kiss.

Listen here:

“Life’s too short to pass up a chance to do something crazy.” – Maria Johnson

Grab yourself a copy of this book.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

Unlimited Abilities: Apollo 11

For over a decade my life intersected with NASA Johnson Space Center, where I provided historical records access and research to not only scholar and historians, but also the engineers studying the past to create the new commercial spacecraft vehicles. So it will be an understatement when I say that there is no escaping the immense significance of today in our country's history.

July 20, 1969. Men from our planet Earth walked on the moon.

That's one small step for man one giant leap for mankind
For how many millions of years has man looked to the stars... to the heavens... and wondered how God sees us.

We choose to go to the moon in this decade....not because they are easy, but because they are hard.
When President Kennedy said these words in September 1962, NASA had sent only four men into space. Al Shepard and Gus Grissom had each taken a 15 minute up/down flight. John Glenn had orbited the earth three times taking just under five hours with Scott Carpenter duplicating the flight a few months later.

Imagine if one of the Wright Brothers had stood on the sands at Kitty Hawk and said, I think we should fly across the Atlantic Ocean before the end of this decade.

But we never paused long enough to doubt we could do it. We persevered.

NASA needed over 400,000 men and women to work together with zero defects to achieve this dream. They had to develop new technology, write programs, create standards, think through thousands of challenges: radiation, re-entry, landing, rendezvous, life support, space suits, back contamination, propulsion, navigation, and communications.

And I have more technology in my cell phone than they had on the entire spacecraft plus Mission Control. 

Through all of their challenges they never lost sight of their goal. Fifty years ago today Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin landed on the moon with Michael Collins in lunar orbit above.

Enjoy the montage (even though they edited out my favorite "first word" from the moon: HOUSTON. Listen for Buzz calling the moon "Magnificent Desolation.")

God doesn't give us DREAMS to disappoint us. God gives us unlimited abilities. We place the boundaries on ourselves. Even now, men and women are continuing to break those boundaries to return to the moon, with plans for Mars and beyond. How much more can we dream? How much more can we accomplish?

Gene Cernan (Apollo 17) once said, "I stood on God's porch."

Earth rises across the lunar landscape

And the view is truly magnificent. Godspeed.

Related Links:
Apollo 50th (NASA - audio, video, photos)

Apollo 50th with Mike Collins (Google Doodle)

Apollo 11 Lunar Surface Journal (annotated transcript and commentary of the lunar landing)

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