Some Things I Found While Randomly Surfing the Net

“Keep a clear eye toward life’s end. Do not forget your purpose and destiny as God’s Creature. What you are in His sight is what you are and nothing more. Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take nothing you have received . . . but only what you have given; a full heart enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice and courage” (St Francis of Assisi).

I still can’t help thinking about the Ash Wednesday Mass at St Philip’s that I attended Wednesday. I’d like to say that I was brave enough to go down front and receive the ashes and the sacraments, but I wasn’t. I stayed in the very back and observed everyone else going forward, but I couldn’t make myself go. Even though I didn’t know another living soul there, I could have gone, but I chickened out.
It was still a beautiful service. To have the visible reminder of just how serious sin and its consequences are on your forehead is to remember the terrible price it took to pay for that sin. To receive the sacraments is to remember that it took a broken body and shed blood for that sin to be paid for.
I know I’ve sinned in the area of things left undone. I’ve sinned by listening more to my fear than to my faith. I’ve been more concerned about pleasing those around me than pleasing God. I’ve sat down when I should have stood up and walked.
But I also know that I’m forgiven. What I deserved, death and hell, fell on Jesus, and what I didn’t deserve, life to the fullest and grace overflowing, came to me and those like me. All I can do is be thankful and show that same grace to others who need it, too.
Since this is Valentines Day, a.k.a Single Awareness Day, I’m throwing in some wise words from a woman who epitomized grace and style. These are wise words to live by:

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. For beautiful hair, let a child run her fingers through it once a day. For poise, know that you never walk alone” (Audrey Hepburn)

Why I Am a Fan of Henri Nouwen

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“In solitude we can slowly unmask the illusion of our possessiveness and discover in the center of our own self that we are not what we can conquer, but what is given to us. In solitude we can listen to the voice of him who spoke to us before we could speak a word, who healed us before we could make any gesture to help, who set us free long before we could free others, and who loved us long before we could give love to anyone. It is in this solitude that we discover that being is more important than having, and that we are worth more than the result of our efforts. In solitude we discover that our life is not a possession to be defended, but a gift to be shared. It’s there we recognize that the healing words we speak are not just our own, but are given to us; that the love we can express is part of a greater love; and that the new life we bring forth is not a property to cling to, but a gift to be received” (Henri J.M. Nouwen).

Henri Nouwen wrote that every single person ever born deals with aloneness, because every single one of us is unique and no one else will ever have our exact problems and issues and hang-ups and phobias.

He said we can either see our aloneness as a wound and thus turn it into loneliness or view it as a gift, where it becomes solitude. In solitude is where we can learn to be still and quiet and know that in truth, we are never really alone. God is with us.

Solitude makes us better people, better neighbors, better friends, better spouses, better lovers, and better disciples. We’re not clinging to each other out of a desparate need to not be lonely, but because we are finally comfortable with who we are in the times when we are alone with no noise to drown out our own thoughts.

That is my own wording of what I’ve been reading in The Only Necessary Thing, a compilation of Nouwen’s thoughts on living a prayerful life. Seriously, if you don’t read another one of my blogs, but read one of his books, I will be supremely happy. He’s that good.

That’s all for tonight. Let me know what you are reading that touches you deeply at the soul level. Maybe it’s a book that will do the same for me. And may the God of the earthquake and the God of the thunder also be the God of your silence and the God of your solitude. Amen.

Lessons Learned from a Life covered by the grace of God, Part 1

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I have learned a few thing in my time that I want to pass on:

1) Never try to figure out anything, especially people, when you are tired. I personally tend to drift toward the negative when I am exhausted and am not really good at being balanced or fair to others when I am worn out.

2) When you are inclined to judge someone’s actions, remember that there is at least one factor that you don’t know about that person that if you knew, would cast a totally different light on their actions. Also, remember that in the same circumstances you might do the same or worse. Which leads to the next point.

3) If you err, err on the side of grace. Give people the benefit of the doubt. Of course, use common sense and don’t be a doormat, but think of what you would be apart from the grace of God and then you realize that you have no place to give up on or despair of anyone (I totally stole that one from Oswald Chambers!)

4) Remind yourself that in life and the big picture, it never was, is not and will never be about you. It always was, is and always will be about God and His redemptive plan for the world. His will for you is always in context of His plan for the world.

5) Never go by first impressions, regardless of what the world tells you. Some of the best people I know who have impacted me were the ones whose first impression was unfavorable. I think you sometimes have to step out of what is comfortable and familiar if you want to find God’s secret blessings and surprises.

6) What is important in life, what I want you to remember, is not me or how well I write or how clever I am. You can forget all about me and if you remember that God loves you, that God is in love with you, and that God can take the worthless and transform it into something priceless, then I am OK with that. As one person said, I’m just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody that can save anybody. That’s all I am, regardless of what my ego tells me.

What are some lessons you have learned? Share them with me, because I am always learning and God always has something to show me. Plus, we only grow and mature in the faith in community. You can never discover God’s will for your life by yourself, but only with other believers as you share yourself and your gifts to serve one another in love.

That’s all for now. More later.

As always, I believe. Help my unbelief.