Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Anti-Vulgarity Experiment

  How many times a day do you say it?
  It probably slips right out of your mouth without thinking.
  When I stop to think about it, I am embarrassed to admit how quickly it comes out of my mouth.
  Vulgarities...in other words, bad words, gutter language, cursing, cussing, whatever you call it...it's not nice.  I need to stop it and you need to stop it.
     It's become so bad in our nation that even Catholic bloggers have been fired for writing vulgar words in their posts.   Yikes!  Yet, I know I an guilty of thinking bad words and unfortunately letting them spew from my mouth like so much...well, you get the picture.
 Even when we're not angry we spew vulgar words, you know the ones I mean I don't have to spell them out literally. 
    My, my, that is such a vulgar habit using expletives to describe something. We all do it whether we're mad, sad, happy or excited. Weird isn't it?  Even the word vulgar sounds, well, vulgar, it even looks like a nasty word.
   While I have learned more about becoming a civil person, somehow my speech and mouth are still working on the lesson. Even though I can think more charitably about the person in traffic behaving badly, my mouth is on another track and says what it may.  That is vulgar and that must stop.
   Welcome to a year of living without vulgarity...let's start with elections.  Well, I cannot control that but I can control my mouth better and set a better example in my own home.
    Let's clean up America!  Clean up our actions, words, speeches, blogs and heads. Let's not stoop to the vulgar way of things.
     Let there be anti-vulgarity and let it begin with me.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Joy Costs Pain

"People love to have lived a great story, but few people like the work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain."   Donald Miller

 I can't tell you how many times since I published my first book in 2001 that people told me, "Wow, that's great, I've always wanted to write a book!"  And then I answer them, "Well, why don't you?"
And they tell me straight on with a sober face, "I just don't have the time."
  I am so very tired of hearing people say that line. It's an excuse for not doing anything in your life, taking a vacation, learning to knit, learning to cook or bake, taking your kids on an adventure. YOU DON'T HAVE TIME.
  Just what the heck do you do with the time you DO have?  Surf the Internet, watch television, your phone, going shopping for more clothing then you'll ever wear in your lifetime.  Even if you say I'm at work all day, saying you work is another excuse.  You get breaks, coffee, smoke, food, and you tell me the entire rest of your day is totally absorbed in typing away or whatever?
  "I'm too tired when I get home." Yes, that one gets used so we don't have to cook, help the kids with their homework, walk the dog, clean the house or go on adventures with our kids.  Stop it!
  Stop right now making excuses in your life!  God gave you a life, and if you stop and think about that life, it's probably pretty good...you have a roof over your head and food to eat.
 Get off your bum and do something with your life!  Write a journal, get into photography and PRINT the pictures or make a BOOK with them!  Play board games or outdoor games with your kids. PLAY THEM don't watch them!  Your kids need you to be there for them...do you want them to only remember you were the "I'm too tired!" parent?  Congrats...
  Yesterday while picking up some groceries so I COULD MAKE SUPPER AND NOT GO OUT TO SUPPER... I heard a grandma...YES a GRANDMA scream at the two children in her cart that she had worked all day and was too tired to listen to them cry.
  I am still mad at myself for not stopping her and saying "Shame on you! Shame on you for making it your grandkids fault that they are tired, hungry and just want to be at home instead of being stuck with a grandma who cares more about herself and not them!"

 Get out and experience some pain in your life! You'll never know joy without it.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Why Do We Resist Suffering?

Why do we resist suffering so much?

It’s really natural for us to do this, its part of our human nature.

But we think we’re supposed to be free from pain, we’re trained to be easily satisfied;  to not have pain.

Where evil is and sin is, then suffering will be a part of our lives.

What do we do in the midst of suffering?

We want to run or medicate, with alcohol, drugs,

But want to control the things in our lives so we choose things to stop the pain, we want answers so we ask ‘why’ so we can figure out the reason, or we blame others, or God because we don’t know what else to do.  We don’t know what to do in the suffering.

But if we can believe that God is with us in all things especially in our suffering, then we can let him in.

Suffering can elicit in our hearts the questions about life, the deeper things of our lives.

Our search for God can be intensified in the midst of our suffering and if we can go to God with those questions and that desire, we’ll find him there.

Sometimes people tell us to give that to God, give your suffering to God, but there is a trap in that because we want to get rid of the suffering and go back to being ‘normal’ again.

 But there is a difference between giving your suffering to God versus giving God permission to come into the suffering with us, to join with God and let him be with us in our suffering.

Redemptive suffering:  redeemed on the cross by Jesus, he redeemed the world and suffering.

When we allow our suffering to  be joined to his, we stay in communion with God, as our hearts stay with God in the midst of suffering, then we can join our suffering with his and be redeemed because he redeemed suffering on the cross. 

Let yourself be found.

There will be times in our lives when we feel lost, scared and we don’t know what to do, we need to remember that the most important thing for us to do during those times is to put ourselves in the position to be found. 
 God is pursuing us, calling us tirelessly no matter where we are, let God find you in the midst of your suffering.


Thursday, October 13, 2016

Looking For Peace In An Unpeaceful Time

   Are you feeling like me lately, surrounded by the noise, the clamor of the world's cymbals, yelling and indecision?  It's not just the elections but the entire world's anger about many things and at times it's too much, too much noise.
  It's at times like that when I try to remember that I must find some quiet place to just listen; listen to the quiet, listen in the inner room that God is trying to call me to rest in.  It's a place I can just settle down, turn off the noise, turn off my worries, anxieties and listen with a different ear...just my heart. I don't need to engage my thoughts to working on the problems...I just need to listen to the One and only voice that will calm me down: God's.
  I try hard not to question Him at those times because I always want to know the whys. I have to work hard on just being quiet, just letting things be. I have to work on reminding myself I don't need answers at this point...just quiet, calm, peace.
  It's only then do we let God work in us. If we bring too many questions, too many hurts, we are still unable to listen...to feel the peace...we have to quiet ourselves.
  So maybe you need to bring something along with you to quiet yourself...one of those coloring books, maybe some knitting or crochet or your rosary beads, anything that helps you let go of thoughts and just be, just be in God's presence, not asking questions or wondering...just being and let Him do the talking.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Your Speech, Our Faith

   In our speeches about our faith, we need to be careful how we say things. Accusations against evil is one thing, but when you may blanket statements about a group of people or an institution it can turn people away from the faith.   Not all people in one political party are bad, not all people in positions of leadership are bad. To lump a group of people into one category is wrong and will only serve to turn people away from what our Catholic faith teaches us about love.  You are missing the point Jesus made about welcoming people to follow Him.  He didn't hit people over the head or make accusations (except to the overly righteous ones!)  so let's not do that either.  Talk to people as a caring faithful person...not righteous zeal.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

What My Dying Cousin Taught Me About Life...and Faith

  It's been just over year now since my cousin Jimmy passed.  But his laughter haunts my thoughts as I struggle to get through spiritual problems in my life.  When he was diagnosed with cancer he was very open to everyone about it. He had struggled for years with MS and this was just another fight in his daily battle for life.  He had every right to be angry with God for letting this happen to him, again, a man who had a wonderful wife, loving kids and a lot going for him.
  But he didn't get angry...at least not that any of us saw or heard. What we heard and read on his social media pages was his request for prayers, when days were good and bad...his concern for his wife and kids...going with his wife to buy her a new car so she wouldn't have to worry after he was gone about their old one.  His one request to his aunts and uncles and cousins was to come together one summer day and enjoy a good old reunion, like the old days when we were all younger and had fun times together.
  So any many of us did join him that day...young and old...gathered round his bright beaming face as we sang old family songs...told stories mostly about him as a kid...and enjoyed the love that was so very present in that room.  Angry at God? How could any of us be angry when God had instilled something in Jimmy that brought all of us together to share one final moment with him?  He was just going home...maybe a little earlier than we wished or expected, but like all of us, he was continuing on his journey to our real home. And Jimmy was ready.
  He thanked everyone for coming...he was ecstatic that so many of us came.  We were all overcome at his courage.  My husband still talks about his courage...how he met his illness with an even stronger faith, faith that shamed all the rest of us.  His faith that God was taking care of him, his wife and kids, his mother and siblings, and the rest. His laughter and love for us was never more apparent that day. A beautiful day we all remember.
  That is faith...I only pray I can be so faithful.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Children's Choir and Other Daily Joys

So after a lapse of several years, the school principal asked me about beginning a children's choir again. I've done this several times in the past. It comes and goes depending on the interest of the kids in school.  We've done everything from singing at the kids' Masses to performing on stage in front of other district school choirs. 

It's always been an interesting subject to teach seeing how one; I have never learned how to read music and have always learned songs and sung by ear; two; the teaching degree I received some 30 years ago was in Secondary Education English and Journalism, not exactly Music, choral directing or high school and three; it's always been a voluntary job so the incentive is I just happen to love singing want to instill that love of music in the future generation!

To fit practice into my schedule and the kids, we would only be meeting once a week, Mondays after school for 20 minutes. That may seem like a very short time in which to teach music, but I've honed this skill down over the years and it seems to be the right fit for this age group and for my sanity!

Our first choir practice was yesterday with 22 very eager, noisy 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th graders bouncing up and down on metal chairs in the school music room right after school. Getting them quiet was taking a little more brain cells than I remember having.

While I took roll and learned names and faces, I had one of the students pass out  the music we were going to practice, a song I sure that everyone knew, somehow forgetting that age and time is catching up with me. Doesn't everyone know "Let There Be Peace On Earth?"  Hmmm, not these kids.  A show of hands got me five out of the 22 that had heard it before. Well, it was easy enough to learn so we began, a capella.  The other downside to not knowing how to read music was I also didn't play piano or know my way around anything besides Middle C.  I totally depend upon my guitar to find my starting notes for songs. I strummed and all I heard was myself singing. So much for teaching the other two songs I had planned for the day.  Arguing erupted between two siblings that were in choir, over who knows what. "Okay," I sighed after shushing them,  "let's sing it together this time..."

Finally, though I had made a rookie mistake of assuming they knew this song which they were going to be singing in two weeks with only ONE more practice between now and then, they learned it fairly well this despite the boys complaining it was either too high or too low for them to sing. Yes, my choir included 8th grade boys who voices are changing and between all five them not a one was singing the same note.

Moving on to a song I knew they were familiar with because they used to sing it with our pastor at Mass every week, I got them started when there was a knock at the door and one of the teachers was motioning to me. "Who do you need?" I called over their voices thinking somebody's ride must have come early.  "You!" she answered.

"Keep singing!" I called out, hurrying over wondering what emergency made her show up at the door.  "I thought it would be a wonderful idea if the choir could sing the National Anthem at our Homecoming game," she told me.  "Umm, well sure, when is that?"
"Two weeks." 

 Okay...the stakes were getting higher...singing for Mass and now singing for the National Anthem both in two weeks.  I hurried back up to the front  of the kids only to see one of the 5th grade boys had taken my spot on the podium giggling and making faces at everyone. "Down!" I ordered, and got them to start them over on the round again.

"Mrs Simmons, how do the arm motions go on this song?" One of the 8th graders asked.  Putting down my guitar I moved my arms up, down and around which elicited a round of laughter from the siblings again. This is why teachers have seating charts I reminded myself. Finally remembering the motions, the words and the tune, we began again. Okay, I thought, that wasn't too bad, I glanced at the clock and time was already up. I ended with the spiel of meeting again next week, how we only had that one practice to get the song we were singing in our heads, reminding them they had to be quiet when sitting in church in the choir loft, that we were already getting requests to sing for other things when one of  4th grade girls raised her hand.  Expecting a question about what I had already discussed, I said,  "Yes, Caylie?"
"Mrs...what's your name again?"
 "Mrs. Simmons"
"Oh yeah, Mrs. Simmons, are we going to have choir next year?" 
"Depends on if we survive the next two weeks Caylie..." I sighed. "Class dismissed!"