Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Joy! Week 6

  In our search for Joy, and in trying to live Joy-filled lives, we are always reminded that constantly negativity surrounds us. It is hard to ignore and tends to make us get on bandwagons of negativity ourselves.
 I found a wonderful article in the November issue of the Liguorian, written by Kathleen M. Basi where she states the following message: "There is a time and a place for rising up with a prophetic voice to point out evil. However, typically, ranting, negativity, and finger-wagging are not more likely to produce success than standing on a riverbank and demanding the water run uphill. Yes, Jesus turned over the tables in the Temple - once.  The rest of the time, he dined with sinners, and he didn't spend those meals telling his hosts everything that was wrong with them!"

  This is so very true. If we are always looking for the place to lay blame, wag our fingers in people's faces, then we miss the opportunities for Joy.  Joy spreads our faith much faster than blaming. Joy is what Jesus brought to people; and they listened. He cured people, and they listened; He fed them and they listened.

  If we could also learn how to turn our 'life lessons' into joy-filled lessons, people may turn their gaze upon their souls more and want to become more like a joy-filled person living the life God wants them to.

  Just a thought!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Week 5: Joy - Is it really all that hard?

   I just finished reading a post on the internet about what makes people happy, like generally happy people, not all the time life-is-always-wonderful-type, but those who just try on a daily basis to be happy.
  Then I made the mistake of reading the comments beneath the article. You are right, I should know better, the only people who make comments on internet articles are negative people. These people certainly did not get anything out of the happy article. They booed it, dissed, it and were generally very negative.  Why?
   What is wrong with our society that we cannot think we are to be happy, joyful people? Why all the negative?
  I don't go around with a constant smile on my face; ask my family, my co-workers, the people in the car next to me at the light.  But gosh, I still think of myself as a generally happy person. I teach martial arts to kids and women because I want them to be safe. I know there are bad people in this world.  But we have to keep trying to be happy don't we? We have to keep trying to be joyful right? Or else, what else is there?  God created this beautiful world, universe, stars and most of all, gave us a reason to hope. Hope that there is something beyond this life once we've lived out our body. Hope that there is an eternal life, always joyous that we can look forward to especially when this life is getting us down.
  I say, "boo!" to all the negative naysayers!  Boo to you who squash people who are trying to be joyful. Boo, boo, boo.   and Shame on you!  Shame for your negative thinking and put-downs. Shame on trying to bring so called "reality" to light. The reality is God is in charge and gave us joy and hope and shame on you for not listening to Him who is stronger than anything in the world including negative thinking.
  Now! Go be HAPPY!!!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Joy! Week 4

  "Do not become upset when difficulty comes your way. Laugh in its face and know that you are in the arms of God."  St. Francis de Sales

    When's the last time you found yourself laughing at a problem you encountered?  Hopefully you didn't answer, "never!" but like me you may have a hard time remembering when it was. Just this week I hit several obstacles that stood in my way of having a peace-filled day and I must admit, my first reaction was not to begin laughing.
    And yet, these wise words of St. Francis de Sales haunted my thoughts when as I was driving home and another driver pulled out in front of me and I had to slam on my brakes.  In fact, I was talking into my smart phone at the time, asking the computer to send a message to my husband for me, and the message she sent wasn't "Hi honey, I'm on my way home!" it was "Oh for Pete's sake!" recording my reaction to the errant driver.  I didn't realize the wrong message was sent, because of course, I was paying attention to driving and not what my supposedly 'smart phone' thought was my message to my husband.
    It wasn't until I reached home that he showed me what he received.  Boy was I glad I had actually  kept my cool for once and blurted something harmless! But at times like those, it's really hard to think about laughing because you're in a possibly dangerous situation.
    So I think St. Francis was speaking more of the other countless daily frustrations that block our road to peacefulness each day, a grumpy co-worker, crying baby, dishes sitting in the sink and chores that still have to be finished.  Why can't we laugh more when difficulty comes our way? In our effort to get through our day, laughter would be a most welcome way to react to our problems.  Worry never helps, nor does anger.  While it would have been hard for me to laugh at the errant driver for endangering both our lives, it would be much calmer and peaceful to be able to let go of the startle and anger and give thanks that I still have good reactions and could stop my car in time.
    This is definitely something I have to work on and since we're all a work in progress, I take heart that I am in good company!  But it is good to remember to pray for that peacefulness throughout the day and to laugh a lot more often while resting in the arms of God!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Never Quit!

"When things go wrong as they sometimes will,
When the road you're trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a failure turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out;
Don't give up though the pace seems slow--
You may succeed with another blow,
Success is failure turned inside out--
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems so far;
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit--
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit."
~ Unknown

I was so happy I ran across this poem again. I first read it in high school. I believe then it was entitled, "Never Quit!" but I found it under encouraging words today.  Back in high school I loved the sing 'songyness' of this poem. The way the words rolled off my tongue as I read it.

Joy! Week 3

"For Christians, an essentially hopeful outlook shows people that you believe in the Resurrection, in the power of life over death and in the power love over hatred."

"All will be well, and all will be well and all manner of things will be well."  Blessed Julian of Norwich."

      Both of these quotes said something important to me this week as I read the blog of a younger cousin of mine who is battling cancer, an ugly very invasive type. I don't think I have ever met a more happy, upbeat person than my cousin, Jim. His attitude about having to battle cancer after years of struggling with Multiple Sclerosis has been so upbeat and giving. He is giving to all of his family, his friends and all those concerned about him.  His blog is one of strength, hope and never given to despair and it amazes me how well he is doing through all this. He would say it was the prayers of one of the most powerful prayer warrior families in this country!  And I would have to agree we all come from 'praying stock'.  Prayer has always been the binding element in our familial relationship. If you looked at my family, aunts, uncles, cousins and extended families, you would agree that everyone has a hopeful outlook: showing people we truly do believe in the Resurrection.   And in Jim's blog you read that he really, truly believes in the Resurrection and is helping reassure the rest of us too.

     Throughout our lives as Christians we encounter moments, people and situations where we come face to face with the reality of our humanness, our frailties, our faults, our strengths and weaknesses.  We see in others the same things and realize we are all in this life to help each other.  With that said, I encountered and older man yesterday who stunned me with his revelation that he didn't believe in turning the other cheek, that forgiveness wasn't happening in his book and if you were sinning all your life, things didn't change at the last moment."

     I felt stunned at first, realizing he really meant what he was saying. He looked like he had a chip on his shoulder and it had been there for quite some time.  I began praying really hard then, because what do you say when someone drops that in your lap? Not believe in turning the other cheek? Rats, for all the times I've screwed up and had to apologize in my life, how would be feel to know you weren't forgiven?  I said some words about that was why Jesus died on the cross, to help all of us be forgiven and forgive.  He thought about that for a moment and shrugged. I smiled and said something like, "that's why God is bigger than all of us, He can forgive things we have trouble with."

    Feeling like I had failed, I encouraged him to come back another day to talk with Father. He said he might and went on his way. 

   I thought about the difference between him and my cousin; how Jim was dealing with cancer yet he was so sure about the Resurrection that he calmed the rest of us about his illness and how the man I met yesterday struggled to forgive.  I prayed for both of them, hoping my prayers somehow help where my words didn't, cause though I'm a writer, I feel terribly inept at explaining my faith to others through words. 

    That is why we are here for each other, because sometimes even when you can't put things into words, you can pray.  Prayer was holding up Jim and getting him through this battle for life with hope. I could only offer my prayers that somehow, the man I met yesterday would be able to get past his hurt, and forgive and be forgiven.

    Pray that all will be well, and all will be well, and all manners of things will be well...