Hearts and Crowns

Over the last couple of months, hearts and crowns have been catching my attention.  I don’t know if you’ve read my Crowley story here on the CWM blog,  but it’s much the same kind of thing.  I will be traveling about from place to place, minding my business, when a “random” heart or crown will get my attention.  After I saw a pattern and really started paying attention, I began documenting some of them using my cell phone camera.  There have been several “sightings” I’ve not been able to document because I was driving, or I was in a position where other people would have looked at me strangely.  I must be safe and discreet!

The most recent “heart sighting” was this morning.  I saw a piece of wood sticking out of the ground in a rock filled parking lot as my husband was opening my car door for me.  I saw the red paint on the wood, and being from Louisiana, I thought “looks like a crawfish’s jointed body.”  When I bent down to get a closer look, I saw that the wooden doubloon was cracked into pieces.  I picked up the pieces and puzzled them together – a heart – of course!!

I know that the Lord is trying to tell me something, because this is how He and I communicate – strange as it may sound.  Yesterday, there was a license plate frame that caught my eye, when I was backing out of a parking spot.  It said “San Mateo.” Melissa will get the reference:)

I know what I think this all means.  What do you think it means?  I know a song that I will post below my pictures as a hint:)

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Love and the Outcome video

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Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, April 12, 2015

Unknown-2 Readings for Sunday, April 12th

The community of believers was of one heart and mind…

How wonderful this must have been – for the early Church to be of one heart and mind!  I see the Church so divided right now.  I see it undergoing such persecution from the outside and from within as well.  I long for the day when Christ sets things aright – when the Church is restored and we are all of one heart and mind once again.

For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.

Many in our world today view Catholicism- or even religion in general – as oppressive – full of impossible rules and driven by guilt.  This could not be further from the truth.  God loves His children completely.  Because He made us, He knows what will make us happy and fulfilled.  He doesn’t make rules to burden us, but to set us free!  True freedom is what is found in choosing what is right – choosing God’s way.  He (Jesus) is THE WAY, THE TRUTH and THE LIFE! (John 14:6)  Only by choosing Him who has conquered the world can we be truly free and at peace.

And when He had said this, He breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Ahh!  This is where Jesus effectively gave the apostles (his priests) the authority to forgive sins on His behalf.  For my sola scriptura friends, I really don’t know how else this verse could be interpreted.  It’s the same with the “Unless you eat the flesh of the  Son of man and drink His  blood, you have no life in you…” passage.  (John 6:53)  It seems very clear to me – no hidden meaning whatsoever.

Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

That’s you and me, friends!  He just called us blessed!  Hooray!

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This Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday.  Priests in all parishes will be speaking of God’s great Mercy and forgiveness.  Key to the teaching of Divine Mercy is that there is no sin too great for God’s mercy – nothing too big or too awful to be forgiven. All we need to do is to come to the Lord with a repentant heart.  There are some really special things that are attached to the celebration of this great feast – if you’d like to read more, check out this link.

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When Anxiety Gets the Best of You Part 2

Unknown-1Yesterday morning was so stressful that if stress could kill you, I would have been 12 feet under!  I had an important conference call involving six people and myself at 9 a.m.  As soon as I got on the line, my dog started barking to be let out.  In trying to quiet the dog, I accidentally hung up on the conference call.  I re-dialed and got my daughter to let the dog out.  I apologized to the “conference people” and continued the call.

Shortly thereafter, the doorbell rang.  My kids know not to open the door to strangers so they came to me.  It was the pest control man – who showed up to treat for termites unannounced!  Great!  He asked us to bring the dog in while he sprayed, so my daughter let the dog back in.  Of course, since there was now a stranger in the yard, the dog barked from inside.  I took the telephone to the back room and closed the door to continue the conference.  A few minutes later, the door bell rang again.  It was the pest control man needing a signature.  Really??  With telephone in one ear, I signed.

After the conference call ended, I had exactly 30 minutes to get to the state line (basically) for a workshop on how to use a new computer system (something for work).   Mapquest said that it would take 38 minutes without traffic.  I loaded up the kids in the car and hit the road.  By this time, I really wanted to cry, but was literally  incapable.  On my “pity pot” my mind began to think, “My God, why have You forsaken me?”

Quickly, I stopped my overloaded brain, and began to rewrite the mind tapes:  “Lord, I know You have not forsaken me.  I know that where I go, You go with me.  You show me time and again Your hand in my life.  This too shall pass.  Thank you for the two beautiful children in my car.  Please get us to where we are going safely.  Amen.”

Remarkably, I arrived at the workshop in 34 minutes safely.  Internet was down at the building, so the workshop actually could not get started for another 20 minutes.  I had time to breath and to go to the bathroom.  Yes!  God had heard my prayer and so graciously answered!

What do I do when anxiety gets the best of me?  There are a few things that work remarkably well.  All are based on surrender to God.  Truly, this is the key!    In my first “anxiety” post, I told you about the Infant Jesus of Prague nine-hour novena – works great!!!  My other “go to” anxiety relievers are adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.    It is a safe haven and an unbelievable stress reducer!  Often times, I go in there, and don’t want to leave.  I often think that if I could live in there with Jesus and never leave, my life would be absolutely serene.  Somehow, He always gives me the courage and strength to leave that “bubble” and to face the world again.  I can do so knowing that He will be waiting for me in the chapel when I should need to return again.  The adoration chapel has been an unbelievable sanctuary in my life.  I never want to live far from one again!

I also like taking a nice, warm bubble bath and using the Laudate free Catholic APP on my phone to listen to the Rosary Podcast with Melissa.  She has a soothing voice.  I lay there all warm in the tub (how I imagine it must feel in the womb) and pray the rosary with Melissa.  I give all of my fears and problems to the Blessed Mother and ask her to surround me and my family with her mantle of protection.  I ask her to plead my case to her Son, Jesus.  I always feel better afterwards.

Another ongoing anxiety buster is to find a scripture quote that speaks to you and post it in prominent places to remind you of the Lord’s promises – His Word.  I put my favorite reminders on stickies on my dash-board, bathroom mirror and refrigerator.  Quotes like, “Do not let your hearts be troubled” (John 14:27) and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  (Proverbs 3:5)

Lastly, I like to get physical to reduce stress and anxiety.  Some people jog.  Some work out.  I garden.  I love getting muddy, playing with earthworms and helping things to grow.  When I’m out in my garden, I am reminded of God’s creation – His goodness – His Providence.  When I’m all done, I’m exhausted, and it’s pretty hard to be physically spent and stressed at the same time.  It’s therapeutic!

If you are experiencing anxiety that you will give some of these “tips” a try.  Give your stress to God.  I promise that He can be trusted to handle your troubles.

 

 

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You Too Can Help Prevent Child Abuse

Unknown-1April is “Child Abuse Prevention Month.”  I think that every month of the year should be child abuse prevention month!  I’d like to raise awareness regarding childhood sexual abuse.  Because there often are no physical indications that a child had been molested, it often flies under the radar for years before ever being detected – long after the harm has been done.   It does not discriminate on the basis of race, sex, creed or social status.  It truly can happen in any family.   Statistics are alarming.  Some sources indicate that as many as 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys under the age of eighteen are sexually abused each year.  If you believe that somehow your family is immune, you won’t be looking for the signs of abuse.  This can be extremely dangerous.  Denial is a victim’s greatest enemy – next to the abuser.

Sexual abuse usually takes place at the hands of someone who knows the victim – someone who has “groomed” the child over a period of time to earn trust.  Abusers are very manipulative, and can scare or “guilt” the child into not telling to protect the secret.  Due to fear and intense shame, the child victim most often will not tell someone who could help him/her to escape further abuse; consequently, it often continues.  It is so important to talk to your children, and tell them that they can tell you anything – ANYTHING – no matter how difficult, embarrassing, etc.  They need to know that you will believe them and protect them no matter what!

Some symptoms of sexual abuse to watch for in children are:  changes in behavior such as social withdrawal or acting out;  having bathroom accidents when they did not exist prior;  fear of being alone, fear of going to sleep, fear of being left in certain places; a drop in school grades; spacing out or having difficulty concentrating at school (when accompanied by other symptoms); hyper sexual or (on the other extreme) cold, “frigid” behavior such as not wanting any hugs or affection; depression; or self-destructive behavior.  This is not a complete list.  Every child deals with the trauma of abuse in a different way.  The key is never to dismiss fears or sudden changes in behavior.

Abuse robs a child victim of their innocence.  It changes who that person was created by God to be.  Some of the effects of abuse last a lifetime, but with intervention, the child can learn coping skills that will minimize the long-term difficulties.  There is tremendous hope!  With help, the survivor can come to believe once again that he/she is truly one of God’s great masterpieces!

For more information on how you can begin your own healing journey from childhood sexual abuse (or childhood trauma) – or for information on how to protect your own children from abuse, please check out my story in Hope for Healing From the Effects of Childhood Sexual Abuse. 

If you live in Louisiana, please visit this link – Prevent Child Abuse Louisiana – for events taking place this month.

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Extending Easter Joy

I read this this morning and wanted to share:

“Let all go this Eastertide.  Loosen your hold on this earth, its care, its worries, even its joys.  Unclasp your hands, relax, and then the tide of Easter Joy will come.  Put aside all thought of the future, of the past.  Relinquish all to get the Easter sacrament of spiritual life.  So often man, crying out for some blessing, has yet such a tight hold on some earth-treasure that he has no hand to receive Mine, as I hold it out in love.  Easter is the wonder-time of all the year.  A blessing is yours to take.  Sacrifice all to that.”

from God Calling by A.J. Russell

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Reflection on the Readings for Easter Sunday, 2015

Readings for Easter Sunday, 2015

imagesHere are some passages from today’s readings that stood out for me:

Everyone who believes in him
will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.

Just yesterday, I watched something that led me to refresh my memory on the Church’s teachings on salvation.  Here’s what I found:

Basing itself on Scripture and Tradition, the Council teaches that the Church, a pilgrim now on earth, is necessary for salvation: the one Christ is the mediator and the way of salvation; he is present to us in his body which is the Church. He himself explicitly asserted the necessity of faith and Baptism, and thereby affirmed at the same time the necessity of the Church which men enter through Baptism as through a door. Hence they could not be saved who, knowing that the Catholic Church was founded as necessary by God through Christ, would refuse either to enter it or to remain in it (Lumen Gentium, 14 from the documents of Vatican II).

This affirmation is not aimed at those who, through no fault of their own, do not know Christ and his Church: “Those who, through no fault of their own, do not know the Gospel of Christ or his Church, but who nevertheless seek God with a sincere heart, and, moved by grace, try in their actions to do his will as they know it through the dictates of their conscience – those too may achieve eternal salvation” ( Lumen Gentium, 16).

“Although in ways known to himself,  God can lead those, who, through no fault of their own, are ignorant of the Gospel, to that faith without which it is impossible to please him, the Church still has the obligation and also the sacred right to evangelize all men” ( Ad Gentes, 7, another document from Vatican II).

What about our fellow Christians who are part of other denominations?  I need to believe that they may be saved as well.  Many protestants that I personally know have a firm, unshakeable faith in Jesus and a deep love for Him as Savior.  They absolutely believe as scripture says today, “Everyone who believes in him will receive forgiveness of sins through his name.”  I think of it this way.  If I had been born into a Presbyterian family, I would probably be Presbyterian.   I feel very blessed to be Catholic.

If you are reading this and are not Catholic, you may be thinking, Jesus did not start the Catholic Church… There is no mention of the term, “Catholic” in the bible.  In the New Testament, the early Church was called simply “The Church.”   The word “Catholic” (meaning “universal”) was not used until around the year 130 AD by Ignatius of Antioch in his farewell letter to Smyrna.  This Church that he referred to as universal is, in fact, the one that Jesus founded. We were once all ONE.

It would be so wonderful to be united as one again!

This man God raised on the third day and granted that he be visible,
not to all the people, but to us,
the witnesses chosen by God in advance…

So… Jesus was not visible to all, but to only those chosen by God in advance.  I find it fascinating that in the accounts we will read about in the days to come, we learn that again and again, people did not recognize the resurrected Jesus until He called them by name.  How did He look so different?  Or were the people just “blind” to the truth until Jesus spoke their names?  How did the speaking of a name open their eyes?  How does Jesus call our names now?  Do we recognize Him when He does this?  How do we respond?

Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.

It is surely not an easy task to keep our minds of the things of heaven when we are trekking through the muck down here.  It really is the key to peace and joy, however.  When we are going through our struggles here, they often seem as though they will go on forever.  Time seems to come to a crawl.  When we look at the big picture though – that we will live on in heaven (or hell) FOREVER, whatever we go through here will be but a blip on the radar screen.  A blip.  A miniscule period of time.

He went into the tomb and saw the burial cloths there,
and the cloth that had covered his head,
not with the burial cloths but rolled up in a separate place.

I find it fascinating that John, the gospel writer, takes care to note a little extra information here – that Jesus’ head covering was rolled up in a separate place from the rest of the burial clothes.  I can just picture Jesus resurrecting – a flash of bright light as the life re-enters His body – the radiation from the flash of light so bright that it burns Jesus’ image on the burial cloth.  Hmmm.  The Shroud of Turin (thought to be the burial cloth of Christ) is in one large rectangular piece).  Could this head wrapping been a separate piece that went over the Shroud – if indeed it is the burial cloth of Christ? Can you imaging Jesus coming back to life, trying to sit up, but being confined by the wrappings?  Can you picture Him calmly unrolling the linen encasing his head, rolling it up and then setting it apart from the rest of the cloth?  Can you see Him exiting the tomb as though just having awakened from a long slumber?   I wonder if He hung out there for a while.  Reading further in John’s gospel, we see Mary Magdalene talking to Jesus thinking that He was the gardener, before Jesus called Mary by name and her eyes of faith were opened.

What are the moments/experiences that open our eyes of faith?  How can we more fully avail ourselves these experiences?  Do we pray often for an increase of faith?  Do we offer sacrifices for those who have no faith?

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A Loud Cry!

Please watch this explanation of Jesus’ words, “It is finished!”  Have a happy and blessed    Easter!

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Photo Favorites from the Last Two Weeks

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I’ve been blessed to see quite a few beautiful/interesting things!  IMG_0952 IMG_0984   IMG_1014 IMG_1018 IMG_1067  IMG_1160 IMG_1156 IMG_1173Wouldn’t you agree?   IMG_1071 IMG_1044 IMG_1038 IMG_1033 IMG_1024 IMG_1143 IMG_1089

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Who am I to say I know “The Answer?”

UnknownWhen I chose the title for my latest book, I did think that some may think that I have gall to suggest that I have “The Answer for Families.”  I mean, everyone can look at me and my family and see with their own eyes that we don’t live the perfect life.  Our household is not free of problems, challenges and trials.  Like all families, mine is made up of imperfect human beings, struggling to live in a world that is just plain tough!  So what on earth would cause me to make such a claim?

It’s because I DO KNOW the answer.  I want the whole world to know the peace I’ve found and to claim it for themselves!  I didn’t create it.  I’ve just come to learn of it.  The Answer has a name.  It is Jesus Christ.  You may be thinking, “There she goes!  Here comes the sermon.”  Here’s the deal:  We can live life according to God’s plan, with Jesus at the helm of our boat, guiding us, carrying us – with His help and support.  OR, we can insist on doing it our way – after all we know best – and we can bear our struggles ALONE.

I believe that family life is harder today – in our affluent society of television, bottled water and cell phones – than it was during the Great Depression and the two World Wars.  Of course, I was not living back then in order to be able to compare the two accurately.  Some may disagree with me.  At least during those times of economic trial or war, families pulled together.  The family unit was respected and supported.  We didn’t have as many activities and distractions to pull our families apart.  Porn wasn’t readily available at the click of a button 24/7.  We actually had to speak to someone face to face – or at least voice to voice- when we had a problem.  We couldn’t just type off a response and walk away.  The list goes on.

Jesus loves us SOOO much.  He does not want one soul to be lost.  Please believe me!  He empathises with our struggles and our burdens of living in the modern world.  He wants to show us a way to greater peace.  He wants to restore our families.  He gave St. Margaret Mary twelve amazing promises for those who honor His Sacred Heart.  If you don’t believe in private revelation to saints, that is o.k.  Devotion to Jesus and His Sacred Heart goes WAY back in the Church – long before St. Margaret Mary!

I promise that if you invite Jesus to truly be the King of your heart and the King of your home, you will not be sorry.  He doesn’t take happiness or “fun” from us.  He strengthens, fortifies, eases, comforts and sanctifies us.  The peace that He promises is not the cheap, fragile, passing kind that the world gives, but a lasting peace – a calm in the middle of a storm.  Do you want your home to be the calm in the middle of the storm?  Won’t you give Him a try?  What do you have to lose?

To read more about Enthronement of the Sacred Heart as a prescription for peace in families, PLEASE visit my website.  Also, help me to spread the good news by forwarding a link to this article/ website or “Sharing on Facebook” with your friends.  I am happy to answer any questions about this beautiful family consecration.  You may contact me @ doyle.dana@rocketmail.com for more information.

 

 

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Reflection on the Readings for Palm Sunday, 2015

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Readings for 3/29/15

Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?

I have some thoughts about a few verses from the passion and death of Jesus according to the gospel of Mark:

He took with him Peter, James, and John,
and began to be troubled and distressed.

A dear friend of mine was watching an old television program with Archbishop Fulton Sheen.  She told me that he pointed out that Jesus not only suffered physically, but He allowed Himself to suffer mental anguish and anxiety in the Garden of Gesthemane.    We know that when we suffer physical pain and illness, we have a Savior who can relate because He suffered the pain of crucifixion.  We don’t often remember His mental suffering, however.  For those of us who struggle with anxiety, and fear, we can rest assure that Jesus can empathize with that as well.  Remember also that they crowned Him with thorns and dressed Him in royal purple to humiliate and make fun of Him.  When we feel humiliated, hated or that we have lost all our dignity, look to Jesus, and find comfort in Him.

When he returned he found them asleep.
He said to Peter, “Simon, are you asleep?
Could you not keep watch for one hour?
Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”

Oh my goodness, is my flesh weak?!  I had this wonderful idea of bicycling with my family for several miles today.  The only problem was that I had awakened this morning with a bad headache and had to take medication.  Stubborn, I still insisted that I was up for the adventure.  Well, I wound up walking my bicycle a lot, and sitting on many a bench along the bicycle path!  Often times, I want to stay up and do spiritual reading, or spend quality prayer time with the Lord, and I fall asleep on Him.  Sometimes, when I go to adoration, I become so relaxed in Christ’s presence that I begin to nod off.  How embarrassing when I am awakened by the weight of my head falling forward!   I guess I’m human, just like the apostles!

The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.
When the centurion who stood facing him
saw how he breathed his last he said,
“Truly this man was the Son of God!”

This is my favorite part of the whole reading of the passion!  “The veil of the sanctuary was torn in two…”  This is such an important line.  In the Old Testament, the temple was described to have had a curtain or veil between the sanctuary and where the “Holy of Holies” was kept.  The people were not allowed behind the curtain – and if memory serves me right, even the priest was only allowed back there at certain times.  Fast forward to the New Testament – When Jesus died for our sins, the veil was torn – the veil that separated us from God!  Jesus removed that which once separated us from the God who made us.  How incredibly beautiful and profound that is!

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