Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Compassion Without Indulgence

   How do we teach our children to respect others while not giving up the values we have tried to instill in them?  If you only look at our country's media you would think we no longer had any values beyond indulging ourselves and our children in everything.  Teaching our children to be respectful of others, tolerant of other people's beliefs and cultures has suddenly turned into the media telling us we must accept everything as right and valued.  But there is a difference between someone being made fun of or ridiculed and indulging their every whim.
  As a parent you never want your child to be made fun of or to lack in friendships. Yet more and more we see parents indulging their children's feelings or desires, whether it's actually doing their homework for them, or insisting the teacher or administration is wrong about academic standards or discipline or encouraging them towards their transgender feelings at an age when they are really too young to have those feelings.  Instead of guidance, parents are becoming 'friends', instead of leaders, parents are becoming activists, instead of role modeling a faith filled life, they are throwing up hands, giving into demands and staying home from faith activities that could actually help them grown and raise their children.
  It's not easy to be a parent. It is hard today, it was hard yesterday and it will continue to be hard because we're human. It's why God created marriage because it takes a mom and dad to raise kids. Yes, it also takes other family members, grandparents, friends, community but mostly we've forgotten it takes God.
  We shove Him into the background.  But God is there to lead parents in their modeling of a value based life.  Jesus showed us how to respect other people without indulging them. He was considerate of the sinner, yet encouraged he or she to go and sin no more.  Parents must to the same thing. Parents are nurturers, not indulgers. Parents are role models, not activists.  Parents are supposed to try to lead their children to God, not give them excuses to stay away from Him.  Parents need our prayers.

Monday, May 15, 2017

And We Laughed!


   Many years ago, when our kids were younger and still at home and we had family meals, we would get to talking about this or that.  Sometimes we would veer off onto a subject from the news that made everyone sad or upset so to get everyone back on the happy track one of us would blurt out, “and we laughed!”   And we did!  Because life is like that, one moment there are sad and unhappy events, but we always have to look on the bright side of things and remember to laugh!

   Living your faith with true joy means doing the same!  We need to remember to laugh when the devil is trying to scare us into being paranoid, or into thinking God is not here with us. He loves to sow doubt and fear in our lives.  But if we remember to laugh, it reminds us that our faith is about spreading the Good News, not the Sad News, not the Bad News, but the Good News!
   My family has expanded now to include two son-in-laws and a daughter-in-law and a grandbaby on the way and it’s easy to watch the news and be frightened of the bad things in the world. What will my kids do about this war or that evil? What will happen to our grandchildren as they grow up?
   But having faith gives us an edge, or a cheat sheet to life.  We know that in the end, God has us all in His Hands. We know that if we stay faithful to Him, nothing on this earth can keep us from him.   I agree with  St. Paul who says in Romans, Chapter 8:   “ I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38-39
So live your faith with joy!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Hold On Tight!

original poster by Victor Baldwin 1971

 I feel just like this kitten from a motivational poster from 1971. It has been quite a week at the Simmons' Casa.  Last week as we were preparing for our son's wedding, our area of the state witnessed some major flooding.  When the interstate between St Louis and Cape Girardeau closed, our California daughter and her husband had no way to get from the airport to us! So they had to fly a small airline after getting off in St Louis.  My daughter will tell you it was a very, very small airplane.  There were only 4 passengers on the plane and it was a very, very windy day so they flew sideways most of the 30 minute flight.  Green around the gills, we picked her up at our local airport just in time for her to help me decorate for the rehearsal dinner we were hosting.   We ran with a Cinco de Mayo theme since it was on May 5th and had a taco bar. It was a lot of fiesta!  Saturday the rains were gone and it was a beautifully sunny day as  we were witnesses to the wedding of our son and beautiful daughter-in-law and the beginning their life together. Afterwards they held the reception at their home and we enjoyed each other's company, wonderful food and dancing out on the lawn! Joyous!

Then we changed gears as we helped my mom pack her house to move across town to a smaller duplex. 45 years of memories in a two story home take a lot of time to pack and reminisce about. But my two sisters and my brother were the mainstays of the packing and preparing and tomorrow the movers come. Wow, they did an awesome job!

In the mean time, our youngest daughter who got married in February is expecting! It's our first grandchild and we are all thrilled.  She is just now going through all the fun early pregnancy issues so I keep saltines near by for her!  She and her husband recently signed a contract on a house, their first and we got to take a tour of that and see what needed to be worked on before they move in just a couple of weeks. They have a huge yard and for that they'll need a working lawn mower, lots of paint needed inside and maybe some new flooring and a lot of baby proofing!

Our daughter from California spent several days after the wedding with us for a really great visit and time for her too to see her sister's future home and also Grandma's house before the move. It was an emotional time but we're happy for my mom.  There was a lot of "I remember this!" as she and my youngest daughter moved around the packing boxes and picked out little mementos to keep.    Meanwhile back at our house the girls found the tubs of baby clothes I had packed away over 20 years ago. It was time to ooh and ahh all over again as we all marveled at how very little babies are when first born, teeny tiny shirts and shoes.  While my California daughter and her husband were here, they put a contract on a home in California and got it, so now they are also planning a move a few blocks from where they live out there.

Last night, my husband and I waved goodbye to everyone as children headed to their homes. It was suddenly quiet in the house and a little lonely. It seems everyone is in the moving spirit around us as we looked around our own home of 25 years. Our home has seen its changes. We added on a family room and bedroom about 15 years ago. This home has changed in so many ways, moving rooms around, the living room has become the dining room, the downstairs family room has become my husband's office and game room. The colors change, the flooring too but it's always home to us. It's still the right size and shape for our needs.  And right now faith is the only constant in our lives as we try to hang onto the Lord like the kitten in the photo.  We know He holds us and our children in the palm of His Hand.  Thank you, Lord!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Be Not Afraid!

  Last night my husband and I happened to stumble across one of the most motivating, inspirational films we've seen in a long time.  It suddenly appeared on Netflix May 1, 2017 and we were riveted to the television.
The film is Liberating A Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism.  Now I tend to be a bit cynical of religious films just because so many are well intentioned, but have no creativity beyond showing pictures, badly shot video and no graphics.   I have to eat my words when it came to this one.  Current Catholic film makers are learning by leaps and bounds what it takes to capture an audience, especially an audience that is young, and who stops only momentarily to acknowledge information. That audience will not be disappointed by this film.
   Liberating A Continent takes you on a quick journey through JPII's life.  Now I remember being in my first year of college when he was elected. In fact I still remember working as a student worker in the Admissions office of the college and walking into the office between classes that day and my supervisor looking up at me and saying flatly, "Your pope is dead."  She wasn't one for mincing words. I was stunned and when I got home found out more about John Paul I dying only days after being elected. We had watched the Papal Elections on television at home and were thrilled to be able to see the proceedings and the white smoke when Albino Luciani was elected. And now only 33 days later he was dead?   We watched at home as the cardinals again got together to elected Karol Wojtyla, an unknown cardinal from Poland. Unknown at least to us Missourians in the United States.
  For the next 25 years I loved this Pope who told us young people to "Be not afraid." Turbulent times were the norm in Europe and the Eastern Block. And although we had a few fears about nuclear war and communism growing up, actually it was the violence in our own country in race riots, abortion being made legal and the whole sexual revolution we were nervous about.
   John Paul II reassured us as young people,  he was reassuring as I became an adult, got married and began having children. He was always looking for ways to connect with the world at large and especially with young people. He was active and engaging and knew how to love the world.  He also knew how to work about governments who ignored their people. He reached out to people and made them feel important. He made me feel important and helped me instill that in my own children.
  It's worth a watching so look for it online where you can either purchase the DVD or if you have Netlfix or those other streaming versions, it is well worth!

Liberating A Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism
Carl Anderson - Exec. Producer
David Naglieri - writer
Joe Kraemer; music composer
Jim Cavesiel - narrator
George Hosek - director of Photography
Marc Boudignon - Editor

"As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live"

Friday, April 28, 2017

Stay Calm and Call Your Mom!

Have you ever noticed that when you have big exciting news you look for another person to tell that will get almost as excited as you do?  Growing up that person for me has always been my mom.  I knew whatever I told her good news wise, she was going to be just as excited as I was, maybe even more! It didn’t matter whether it was getting an A on a paper in school, getting engaged to my husband, having ALL of our kids (she got excited over each and every one!) I always knew I could count on my mom to share my joy.

She was always my confidante too, listening when I needed a shoulder to cry on, understanding how I felt, and knowing what to say.  She’s always been my rock; in life and in faith. 

As we approach Mother’s Day in May, I ask you to take another look at your own mother.  Not all mothers are the same, they don’t all react in the same way as mine did, but the woman who bore you, and raised you is your mom and has a vested interested in everything that happens to you.  This year, not only am I blessed to share Mother’s Day with my own mom, but I have a daughter who is expecting her first child, so three generations of us get to celebrate motherhood.  I am blessed.  There is also another mother who watches over us too, Jesus’ mom.  She is everyone’s mother as Jesus made her when he said from the cross to John, “This is your mother.”  He wasn’t just talking about John, but all of us, the rest of the generations. He knew we ALL need a mom in life.  And even if our earthly mother isn’t with us anymore, our heavenly mother is always near.  And of course, she is whispering to our own mothers, whether they are in heaven or on earth,  what we need.  She is the ultimate mother of all.  

So when life is exciting or getting you down, remember to “stay calm and call your mom.”  She is always there for you!

Easter Forgiveness

When Jesus was hanging on the cross, looking down he doesn’t see any of his apostles. John was there with his Mother, but nobody, not even Peter was brave enough to be there at this death.  Yet Jesus could still say, “Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.”  How awful would it be if all your friends left you at the moment you were dying?  Can you imagine leaving your family member or friend when they had been wrongly accused and were sentenced to death? Where were all those people who petition the court and ask for a stay of execution when Jesus needed them?

Of course we don’t live in those times, in the United States we have the freedom to speak up and demand justice.  The Jews, even those loyal to Jesus did not have that freedom. 

So what excuse do we give for not forgiving someone who has wronged us? Maybe it’s a minor hurt but it could be a huge life changing hurt.  Can we be as forgiving as Jesus?  I think about hurts in my own life and realize sometimes it has taken me a really long time to forgive.  There’s a hurt I am nursing right now that I am having to work really hard on forgiving.  And what happens when someone wrongs us and doesn’t even ask for our forgiveness?  You may have people like that in your life too. 

Easter reminds us that even these people have to be forgiven.  Most of the Jews that brought Jesus before Pilate didn’t say they were sorry, at least not before his death.   But he forgave them as well as the sins we are committing right now while he hung on the cross in excruciating pain.

Help me Lord to forgive, especially in this season of Easter. Let me learn from you how to forgive. I may not yet forget, but I know I must forgive so all my sins will be forgiven by you when I come Home.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Light and Joyfullness

   "Light and joyfulness are joined at the hip, since light-hearted people are optimistic, cheerful and happy. When people such as these find themselves in dark situations, the inner light seeping out of them is as reassuring as the brilliance of a flashlight in a blackout.  In all great spiritual traditions, the Divine Mystery while known by countless holy names is also universally known as Light. Light hearted people then are God-hearted people and only the God hearted people leak God.  Since they don't generate their own light, their luminosity never dims regardless of how dark or dismal are the eclipses of daily events."
  "What gives comfort to those who are burdened is simply a full-hearted listening to their laments over their sad situation. A wise listener knows that when someone is burdened by misfortune, his or her greatest need is simply to talk about it and to be heard. Non-advice-giving listening heals by being supportive and sympathetic. Listeners rotate their attention away from themselves so as to fully focus on the other person's needs. "
                                                                                     (excerpt from "Chasing Joy" by Edward Hays)