With Gratitude in our Hearts

Please read my latest post at NOLA Catholic Experience.  I hope you had a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving!

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The Power of Praise

imagesPraise has the power to energize, to propel.  Praise takes a dwindling ember and fans it into a flame.  Praise can bring you out of your personal darkness and into God’s great light.

I’ve told you that I struggle with depression.  I’ve also diagnosed myself with seasonal affective disorder.  I struggle most when we have long stretches with little/no sunlight.  It’s been gray and rainy a lot here lately!  I have a friend who has also been battling stretches of deep sadness.  I suggested to her that she put on some upbeat, uplifting praise and worship music and sing – even if she didn’t feel like it at first.   Often this is helpful to me, but I wasn’t really sure why – couldn’t explain it in words.

Today, I heard a woman speak about the power of praise.   She said that praise elevates us – spiritually and mentally because it takes the focus off of ourselves and places it on God who is all good and all worthy of praise.  That’s it!  Sometimes when we are hurting, we can’t think of anything but our hurt.  It consumes us.  In humbling ourselves before our God and singing His praise – singing and praying despite the hurt – through the hurt –  we are lifted up!  So many things about our faith is paradoxical.  This is one of those great paradoxes!

Even if God never did another thing for you or for me, God is still worthy of praise.  He loved each and every one of us into being.  He thought of us long before He created us in our mother’s wombs.  He humbled Himself and took on human flesh.  He suffered and died for you and for me!

I was blessed to spend sometime this morning in prayer and praise with a group of faith- filled women.  That experience of worship set the tone for the rest of my day and gave me a boost I’ve needed.  God is so good!

Next time you are feeling blue, stressed or distressed, put on some praise and worship music – even if it doesn’t appeal to you at the moment – even if you feel too tired to do it.  Pray, “Come Holy Spirit.”  Listen to the music until you find your voice.  Sing!  Sing!  Sing to Jesus!   You will bring a smile to His face and console His Sacred Heart!  It will likely make you feel better too.

Here are a few of my favorite praise and worship songs from recent months.   “My Story” reminds me of my momma.  When I was a girl, she used to play hymns on our baby grand piano.  One of my favorites was “This is my story.  This is my song…praising my Savior all the day long…”  The modern version sort of gives a “shout out” to this old hymn.  I’m putting links to these in case you are interested.  Enjoy!

Touch the Sky by Hillsong United

First by Lauren Daigle

Feel It by Toby Mac

My Story by Big Daddy Weave

Overwhelmed by Big Daddy Weave

Also good – particularly for women are Audrey Assad, Joy Williams, Plumb, Kitty Cleveland, Kara Klein


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Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, November 1, 2015

Readings for Sunday, November 1

Speaking with friends, family and acquaintances, I get a sense that everyone is struggling just to survive – spiritually and mentally, as well as physically.  There isn’t much “thriving” going on for sure!  Everyone is completely overwhelmed with life.  So many people are suffering from cancer, and big losses.  It seems simply unprecedented.

I try only to speak positively here, but I feel moved to admit that I have not been handling this feeling of overwhelming stress and sadness well as of late.  These past few months I’ve been fighting depression (and blasted hot flashes.)   Normally, I can put on the radio, sing along to some of my favorite Christian music and it makes me feel happy – uplifted.  Normally, I get joy out of greeting people with a smile or a kind word.  Normally, I go to adoration and feel such peace that really lightens the load.  Lately – no relief.  Nothing seems to give me joy.  I guess this might be similar to St. John of the Cross’ dark night of the soul.  I know that God can use this too, for good – perhaps to test or to purify me.   I just wish it wasn’t so miserable.  Why do I “confess” this?  I just want you to know that if you’ve been struggling, you are not alone. 

I believe that the fight between good and evil is ramping up – coming to a head so to speak.  I think that things are going to get worse, unfortunately, before they get better.  It doesn’t take a rocket scientist or even a prophet to see the writing on the wall.  We MUST hold onto hope, however.  Without hope, what have we got?  Without hope, this mess that we are living through is for naught.  I don’t believe that it is all for nothing.  God is still in control.   I believe that the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart and the Reign of the Sacred Heart are coming soon.

It is always darkest before the dawn.  In the first reading, we hear John’s vision of the opening of the seals.  God restrained the angels from destroying the land until the foreheads of the elect were marked. “These are the ones who have survived the time of great distress; they have washed their robes and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb.”  Oh how I look forward with anticipation to the time that follows our time of great distress.  We must remember that when we suffer (even though it seems to drag on to the point of unbearableness), it will be but a second in light of eternity.  Perseverance – ugh – I don’t like that word.  It means hanging in there when things are tough.  It’s so hard to do, but so necessary for the “Christian soldier.”  Lord, give us the strength to persevere – for Your greater glory.

Lord, this is the people who long to see your face!   Because of Jesus, we have Hope – that we will someday soon be comforted and satisfied.  We will know justice.  The kingdom of heaven we will share.  Oh what a wonderful, glorious day that will be!


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Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, October 25, 2015

Readings for Sunday, October 25th

imagesIn the gospel, Jesus healed the blind man who showed great faith.  The man’s sight was restored, but was he the one that was really blind?  What about the crowd who was so annoyed by Bartimaeus calling out to Jesus?  They may have been able to see physically, but the eyes of their souls were closed to Bartimaeus – and possibly even to Jesus.  Perhaps the miracle was for the benefit of the crowd even more than it was for the blind man himself.

What is it that we have difficulty seeing?  What are we blind to – either intentionally or subconsciously?  What in us is really in need of healing?  Do we have the faith and the courage to ask Jesus for spiritual healing, or are we too proud?

Do we have difficulty seeing Christ in others?  How about the person who cut you off in traffic or someone who has treated you with aggression or lack of consideration?  Do we see only at surface level, or do we take the time to see deeper?


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Meet my Friend, Theresa.

François_Gérard_-_St_Theresa_(detail)People often get “the Theresas” confused.  First there was Theresa of Avila, Spain who lived in the 1500’s.  Then there was Therese’ of Lisieux, France in the late 1800’s.  Of course there’s Mother Theresa of Calcutta from the 20th century.  I love them all!  They were incredibly strong, holy women!  The first lady, Theresa of Avila is extra special to me, because my youngest was born on her feast day – October 15th.  It was when I was recovering in the hospital that my husband introduced my to Theresa by bringing me a silver medal with her picture on it to commemorate the birth of our son.  I immediately began researching my new heavenly friend.

Remarkably, the fact that she was a reformer of the Carmelite order has great significance to our family.  Only nine months before the birth of our son, we lost a beloved family member who was a lay Carmelite.  This lady was a spiritual role model for all of us, and she taught me that it was possible to be both holy and fun!  I learned that Theresa was a writer, like myself.  She is also the patron saint of headache sufferers – Migraine queen right here!!  That’s me!

I love that Theresa often spoke candidly with God. 

When traveling to one of the many Carmelite convents, her cart got stuck in the mud and she could not dislodge it.  She looked up to heaven and said to the Lord, “If this is how you treat your friends, it’s no wonder you don’t have many!”  Yikes!

Oh my Lord! How true it is that whoever works for you is paid in troubles! (And what a precious price to those who love you if we understand its value.)

St. Theresa also had a wonderful sense of humor, evidenced in these quotes:

God, deliver me from sullen saints!

If there is anything better than God, it’s God AND Chocolate! What a girl!

Then there’s just good old wisdom:

There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers.  (Something to consider when we feel a prayer has gone unanswered!)

There is more value in a little study of humility and in a single act of it than in all the knowledge in the world.  (Knowledge is not the ultimate good – Yes, that’s coming from me, a teacher!)

We need no wings to go in search of Him, but have only to look upon Him present within us. (Do we remember that God dwells within us?  I had a stranger remind me of that once, and it has left a lasting impression.)

Our body has this defect that, the more it is provided care and comforts, the more needs and desires it finds. 

…and then there are my favorites:

Let nothing trouble you, let nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains everything. God alone suffices.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

St. Theresa of Avila, Please Pray for Us!

*Painting of Theresa of Avila by Francois Gerard

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Let it Go!

let-it-go1How many times do you now hear this phrase and burst into song thanks to the Frozen movie?  I’ll explain the reason for the title I’ve chosen momentarily – bear with me!

Have you ever given much thought to a personal philosophy of life or a “mission statement?”  What do you believe to be your purpose in life?   Are your children at the heart of all you do?  Does everything revolve around your career/work?  Is God really first in your life?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that we were created by God to know, to love and to serve Him in this life so that we can be happy with Him in the next.  When we put God above everything and everyone else in our lives, things fall into their proper places.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”  Matthew 6: 33

Our lives are so noisy, busy and hectic.  We are called to simplicity and to make time for quiet amid the noise so that we may hear God’s voice in our hearts.  How do we live more simply when everything seems so complicated?

One way is to look at things, people and activities in our daily routines and examine them in light of our personal mission statement.  If these things do not help us to fully live that mission statement or achieve our ultimate goal (heaven), let them go!!!  The “extra, extra curricular activities,” the noise of the television, the superfluous meetings, the “taxi driving” from place to place, unnecessary shopping, entertainment that is less than edifying, detrimental “friendships”/acquaintances, social media (ok you’ve got me!)…Adios!  Anything that is not helping us to live our mission is likely dragging us down.

What is keeping you from fully living your mission/purpose?  What distractions do you need to prune away?

Just for fun:)

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Reflections on the Readings for Sunday, October 11, 2015

Readings for Sunday, October 11Unknown

“Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom for the future. The human mind may devise many plans, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will be established.”  Proverbs 19:20-21,  NRSVCE

Seeking the Lord’s Will (& not our own) in my opinion, would be a good example of wisdom.  To read scripture and trust in the promises of the Lord is to “listen to advice and accept instruction.”  This is wisdom.  Our future is certainly uncertain.  Only God knows what is in store.  We should pray for an increase in the gift of wisdom from the Holy Spirit – the gift of being wise enough to know that God’s plans are infinitely better than our own, and to surrender to His Will for our lives, our Church, and our world!  He’s got this!

In digging deeper into the subject, I stumbled upon this quote from Psychology Today regarding wisdom:  It  “is able to apply an understanding of the connections between virtue and happiness to her everyday life.”  https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/ethics-everyone/201107/wisdom-and-the-search-happiness   A truly wise person lives a life of virtue.  Virtue, when well-practiced, crowds out vice.  Good habits produce good fruits.  Bad habits produce bad fruit.  It is wise indeed to spend time cultivating virtues like faith, hope, love, prudence, fortitude, justice, temperance, kindness, etc.  This takes discipline.  I’ve heard it said that it takes discipline to be a good disciple.  Perhaps we should pray for discipline too!  ( I know that I need more of it!)

The psalmist cries out, “Return, O LORD! How long? Have pity on your servants!”  This reminds me of what my momma used to say when times would get too stressful/difficult when I was a kid.  She would say, ” I sure wish Jesus would come back today and save us all!”  I would protest, saying that I didn’t want Him to make His great return, because I still had a lot of things I wanted to do first.  Now that I am a parent, struggling to raise my children in a world swirling with evil, I sometimes cry out, “Return, O Lord!  How long?”  Do you ever do that?

In the second reading, Paul tells us that “The word of God is living and effective,
sharper than any two-edged sword…”  Sometimes, I fear that Catholics don’t value scripture as much as our fellow Christians do.  It is the Word of God.  The truths that God wanted to communicate to us are in this Sacred Book.  It is God’s love letter to us.  If we claim to love Him, wouldn’t we want to know more about Him?  Wouldn’t we want to get to know Him intimately?

What does it mean to say that the bible is  “living?”  Though, as Catholics, we depend upon the Magisterium to interpret scripture for us, we can uncover new layers/depths each time we read a passage – depending upon where we are on our spiritual journey when we read it.  It’s kind of like peeling back the layers of an onion.  Occasionally, I will read a passage that I’ve already heard many times in my life, and see/learn something new from that same set of verses!  I love those light bulb (Holy Spirit) moments!

How is scripture “effective?”  Do you know that St. Augustine had a major conversion after reading this passage in the bible?  Not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual excess and lust, not in quarreling and jealousy. Rather, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh.” –Romans 13: 13-14  Upon reading this, it was as though his soul was flooded with light.  He turned at once from his very sinful life and became one of the most known and quoted saints of the Church.  We should never underestimate the power of God’s Holy Word.  For parents who have been praying for a child who has strayed from the faith, St. Aug’s story should give great hope.  St. Monica prayed for her Son, Augustine’s, conversion for over 30 years!  He opened the bible one day and BAM!

When reading the gospel of the rich young man, I used to think that it did not apply to me.  I’ve never considered myself rich.  I was raised in a hard-working middle-class family.  These days, my husband and I both have to work to make ends meet for our family of five.  When I think about all that I have been blessed with, however, I realize that I really am rich – and I’m not talking strictly about non-material things!  All one has to do is turn on the world news and see the refugees living in tents, or the local homeless to realize how much one truly do has.  I don’t think that I’m tied to my possessions.  I think that I would be o.k. if I lost all of my stuff – now losing people – that’s a different story.  “God alone suffices,” said St. Theresa of Avila, a very wise lady.

Some modern-day prophets say that God will soon simplify things for us greatly – that we will be brought back to our total dependence on Him.  If that happens, it will surely be most uncomfortable – even painful – but it sounds like something that mankind really needs in order that souls not be lost for all eternity.

“Then who can be saved?” Jesus looked at them and said, “For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.”

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“The Next Right Step” and “The Now Word”


Here are two websites that I have found intriguing, and that I’ve been visiting a lot lately.   Charlie Johnston’s website has a link to a speaking engagement that he and Mark Mallet did here in Mandeville on September 28th.  It was hosted by Kitty Cleveland and was a fascinating, spirit-filled evening!  I took my husband, (who usually doesn’t “get into” such things) and BOTH of us were so glad that we went.  Thank you, again, Kitty, Charlie and Mark!



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Reflection on the Readings for Sunday, October 4, 2015

UnknownReadings for Sunday, October 4, 2015

This Sunday’s readings emphasize the sanctity of marriage and the gift of children – very timely being that Pope Francis just visited the United States for the World Meeting of Families.  I know that absolutely no family is perfect, and mine is no exception.  I feel very blessed, however, to have the family that I do.  We surely have our highs and lows, good and bad times, but we have each other.  Most importantly, we have Christ as the center of our marriage and at the heart of family life.  A few years ago, we consecrated our family to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  Last year we renewed that consecration.  It has made life easier in the sense that we have felt the extra grace and strength gained from this covenant.  To learn more visit, you can visit TheAnswer4families.

I’ve assembled a list of some of my favorite quotes on the family:

As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.  Saint John Paul II

To maintain a joyful family requires much from both parents and the children.  Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.  Saint John Paul II

We must reaffirm the right of children to grow up with a mother and a father.  Pope Francis

What you can do to promote world peace?  Go home and love your family.  Blessed Mother Teresa

A man should never neglect his family for business.  Walt Disney

It is the duty of every man to uphold the dignity of every woman. Saint JPII

A Family Prayer:

Jesus, we ask You to grant Your special graces to our family. May our home be a place of peace, great love, and unshakable faith.  Please protect and bless all of our family members – both immediate and extended.  We pray for the souls of the deceased members of our family.  May their souls be washed clean so that they may spend eternity with You in heaven.

Mother Mary, please pray to Jesus for our family.  Shelter us under your mantle of protection.  We pray for all the families of the world, especially those experiencing great difficulties.  Help all families to grow closer to one another and to your Son, Jesus.

Blessed Saint Joseph, please assist us by your prayers in all the necessities of life.  Ask God to always provide for our needs – both temporal and spiritual.  Please pray for all of our family members that we may live a life pleasing to God, and experience the grace of a happy death.  Amen.

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What’s on my mind…


surrender, love, mercy, courageous faith, undying hope, abandon, radical trust, waiting, wondering, hope, Immaculate Heart, Sacred Heart, simplicity, peace


The Virgin Mary at the Annunciation, Gideon struggling to trust God – wet wool, dry wool, 300 men – David – no  armor – “just God,” a stone and a slingshot, St. Paul in Chains, Joshua leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, St. Therese’ of Lisieux

Bible Verses:

The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”  Deuteronomy 31:8

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be men of courage; be strong. 1 Corinthians 16:13

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.  Psalm 27:14

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.  Proverbs 3: 5


Touch the Sky by Hillsong United ****This is a new one – love it!i

Live with Abandon Newsboys

Book:  “33 Days to Morning Glory” by Fr. Michael Gaitley


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