Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Power of Prayer

On a different October 1st, in the year 1920, my father was born.

He has since passed away, but every October 1st I find myself doing a lot of reminiscing about him. I remember my father in many different ways.

I think of him as the father I knew, I imagine things about him as a young boy that I never knew, and at times I day dream about him as a soldier in the Army during World War II. 

Our father never told us firsthand any of his Army stories, but growing up I remember a story my mother re-told that has always remained seated deep within my heart.

To make a long story even longer, I don’t know the date, time, location, or even half of the details. But, what I do know is that this is a true story of courage, devotion, and the power of prayer.

My mother would explain that when the war ended his troop was given the task of disposing live ammunition into the ocean. His sergeant, who knew our father was a practicing Catholic, having seen him attend mass every Sunday, asked him to volunteer alongside him to carry out this task.

My father agreed, and had told my mom that as he and his sergeant reached down to pick up the dynamite they began to recite “Our Father, Who art in heaven…”

I often wonder what the other soldiers were thinking as they watched their sergeant and my father carry out this task. How grateful they must have been not to worry about drawing the short straw.

As the two prayed over and again “Our Father, Who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy Name…” I like to imagine that their hands were as steady as their voices; and their voices as steady as their hands.

I don’t know how much ammunition they had to dispose of, how far they had to walk, if they ever almost stumbled, or how many “Our Father’s” they prayed, but by the power of prayer they both remained standing.

Presently, whenever I find myself faced with carrying out a task I’m dreading, asked to volunteer or do something I know I should, but don’t really want to, I think of my father and his sergeant, and how repetitive prayer kept them focused.

Our prayers when invoked with devotion are so very powerful. They can provide courage in times of weakness, deliver hope in desperate situations, and one prayer alone can make the world a better place.

Life is a battlefield. We need a strong prayer life to help us through our conflicts and struggles. Our prayers today influence our tomorrows.

Prayer has many side effects, some reactions are instantaneous; while some we won’t recognize till years later, and some we may never know until after our last breath here on earth has expired.

Today is October 1st, the day my father was born.

A day I will fondly remember him.

A day I’ll pray, “Our Father, Who art in heaven…”

One prayer has the power to revolutionize our world.

Pray everyday!

Godspeed Dad!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Come Back to Me

Have you ever thought what might happen if you were to simply turn around?

I’m referring to when you hit a roadblock and finally realize you have made a mess of things. When you get the distinctive feeling that you are going the wrong way.

Forget about continuing to charge forward, don’t worry how much backtracking it will take, think how nice it would be to start anew.

Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and then turn your heart and thoughts towards God.

It doesn’t matter how far down the wrong path we may have gotten, it is never too late for a change of heart.

When I’m heading in the wrong direction I know it, there is no mistake, it was my bad choice, and God who loves and cares for me, is in the distance, and I can see Him mouthing, “turn around, come back to Me.”

I close my eyes.

I take a few deep breaths.

 I begin the process of turning my life around.

God helps me.

St. Francis puts it this way:

“Start by doing what is necessary, then what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Have you ever thought what might happen if you were to simply turn around?

God, who loves and cares for us is standing nearby, calling to us, “turn around, come back to Me.”

Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and start with what is necessary.

Good luck and Godspeed!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Take Three

Take three deep breaths and call it a day!

Especially on those days, the ones where everything that could go wrong - does go wrong.

Taking a couple deep breaths helps make us relax, which helps us put things into perspective. When we are able to view the big picture of life we begin to realize just how lucky we have it, and how insignificant our problems really are.

I recently read a young mom’s blog post whose words blew me away; so much that I never again want to take life for granted. 

Dying at age thirty-six from bowel cancer she had asked her husband to publish her final blog post after her death. Here is a short version of some of her words: 

“As you read this, I will no longer be here.
You will look for the latest update on the blog. There won’t be one, this is the final chapter.
I have so much life I still want to live, but know I won’t have that. 
I want to be there for my friends as they move with their lives, see my children grow up and become old and grumpy with my husband.
All these things are to be denied of me.
But they are not to be denied of you. 
So, in my absence, please, please, enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it. Adore your children. You have literally no idea how blessed you are to shout at them in the morning to hurry up and clean their teeth.”

Charlotte Kitley passed away September 16, 2014.

What a gift she has left. What a reminder her message gives to treasure each and every moment of life. Her blog continues on with the following message:

“Embrace your loved one and if they cannot embrace you back, find someone who will. Everyone deserves to love and be loved in return. Don’t settle for less.
Find a job you enjoy, but don’t become a slave to it. You will not have ‘I wish I’d worked more’ on your headstone.
Dance, laugh and eat with your friends.
Surround yourself with beautiful things.
Life has a lot of grey and sadness – look for that rainbow and frame it.
There is beauty in everything, sometimes you just have to look a little harder to see it.”

After reading Charlotte’s post, her words remain with me. And as I prepare to settle in for the night breathing deeply in and out, letting myself relax, it won’t be to call it a day, it will be sighs of complete gratitude for the beauty I had found all around me, for being so blessed to have shared time with loved ones, for waking up and having had a whole day to embrace and enjoy.

I so love her ending words.

“And when you close your curtains tonight, look out for a star, it will be me, looking down, sipping a pina colada, enjoying a box of (very expensive) chocolates. Good night, Good bye and God bless. Charley xx”

I read that Charley’s post has gone viral, that over two million people have read her words. To that I say CHEERS!

Thank you Charley for these penetrating words: “please, please, enjoy life. Take it by both hands, grab it, shake it and believe in every second of it.”

Monday, September 22, 2014

Enough's Enough

How much dead weight are you carrying around?

You know the weight I’m talking about, it is all that guilt we tend to lug around on our backs. Builds up and wears us down after a while, don’t you think?

It can get to be too much.

Ever heard of repenting?

I’ve been doing some extensive reading on repenting, and discovering it to mean that: true repenting is where one is sorry enough to change. Makes sense, we can’t just say sorry, and keep repeating, we need to incorporate some change.

So, confess your sins, repent, change, and never pick up that dead weight of the past.

In the Old Testament, it was the angels who warned Lot’s wife not to look back. We too can’t keep looking back; surely we don’t want to turn into a pillar of salt like Lot’s wife. Sounds something terrible.

What sounds nice is that God has plans for each of us. It is up to us to move forward, and we must move forward freely without the poundage of our past weighing us down.

“I created you and have cared for you since before you were born. I will be your God throughout your lifetime until your hair is white with age. I made you, and I will care for you. I will carry you along, and save you.” (Isaiah 46:3)

Sounds beautiful.

It’s enough to make me yearn to change for the better, to repent, and to go out of my way to find our loving God who saves.

How about you?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Choose Wisely

Have you ever created a masterpiece? Maybe put together a mouthwatering dessert that is picture perfect.

Or painted a picture that would’ve made Van Gogh jealous.

That would be a doozie wouldn’t it?

Anyway point being, we all are part of creation, and whether we try or not, we end up creating something good, something in-between, or something bad. 

So, wondering if you have taken time to think what sort of atmosphere you are creating.

As soon as I enter a home, church, office, restaurant, or just about anywhere, I can immediately tell something about the atmosphere of the place.

Those present give off vibes. Some are good, some are in-between, some are…you know…and so without even realizing it, how we act sets the mood.

I’ll admit to my bad days. I may occasionally wake up on the wrong side of the bed, but even if I’m not feeling it, I try to curb my emotions. I will only give out nasty looks once a while, and only before I get my first cup of coffee consumed. (That way when I apologize I can blame it on the lack of caffeine, saying “I really, really needed coffee that morning!”)

Check out the air around you; is it pleasant, mild-mannered, enjoyable, and noticeably civil?

In the Bible, 2 Corinthians 5:17 reminds us that “Whoever is in Christ is a new creation; the old things have passed away, behold, new things have come.”

Whatever may be going on in your life, know that new things will come about, old things will fade away, and whoever lives with Christ, lives forever.

Choose to become a new creation.

Choose wisely.

Choose Christ.

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10 NLT)

Have you ever given this any thought?