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"