Rewind – 2016

36, hearts and crows popping up in unexpected places???

The two things that have helped me immensely in 2016 – without

question!

A couple of spiritual highlights were learning more about Our Lady of

Tickfaw, seeing miraculous photos and getting to see a priest’s ordination

for the first time in Alexandria.

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A new place to attend mass on Sunday, St. Jane de Chantal – love it!

Low point – the flood in March, but we got new floors:)

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Turning the big 50 – ugh!

Milestones – Annie graduated from H.S. and John got his 11 year

immunizations.  He’s also started taking gymnastics and performed dub

step  at the school talent show!

Our eldest built his 1st home and got married to the love of his life.

Annie modeled for 5 fashion shows, and Eric and I attended quite a few

weddings – including one with a photo booth – fun!

In January, we lost this little lady and adopted this handsome Houdini, Tommy.

We took a couple of mini trip including an unforgettable walk in the woods

where we got to see this little fellow up close for several minutes.  The beach

is always a favorite get away!

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Still hoping, praying, loving and laughing!

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Reflecting

I’m not trying to be a “Debby-Downer” by mentioning the obvious, but I’ve been thinking lately about how more than half my life has surely passed.  I’m on the other side of that hill called “life.” More than ever, I know in my heart that our lives are held in God’s hands and that nothing happens to us without His knowing and allowing.  I also know that life can often turn on a dime, therefore each moment is to be lived, savored, used to the fullest to nourish those around us and to give glory to God.  Our time on this earth is indeed limited – all we can be sure of is now – this moment.

Two weeks ago, we lost another beloved pet.  Sadie had her quirks and eccentricities, but she wormed her way into our hearts four years ago, and made her mark in Doyle family history – along with Emma and Dillon and Nicky.   She was taken suddenly and tragically.  We were not at all prepared.  I guess that I somehow took her presence and her youth for granted.  Sometimes, life teaches us some pretty tough lessons.  Sometimes, life stings.  Sometimes it burns.

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Sadie’s death, and the ongoing, relentless suffering of some people I love, has caused pause for reflection.  What is the meaning of life?  Why do our lives matter? How does God want me to spend my remaining time?  Is my use of time pleasing to Him, or do I waste too much of it in mindless activity or worry?   I find myself at a crossroads, perhaps.  I don’t know where the road leads from here, but I know that it’s o.k.  No matter what happens, God’s got me.  He has shown me that in powerful ways this past two weeks…this past three very difficult years…heck, my whole life!   He’s carrying me and He’s carrying you too!

Recently, I was traveling in my car through a very dense fog – so dense that I couldn’t see the car in front of me.  Incredibly, that driver did not have his/her lights on which made it worse.  Normally, when driving in fog, I can keep my eyes focused on the tail lights on the car in front of me until I drive out of it or reach my destination.  This time, I had nothing to keep my eyes fixed upon.  I simply had to pray ( unceasingly) and trust whole-heartedly that God was going to get me to where I was going.

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I thought of this as a metaphor for life.  We cannot see what is in the future.  Mercifully, God only allows us to see a few feet in front of us.  Normally, we can keep our eyes fixed on Jesus as we navigate those few feet until the way becomes more clear.  Sometimes, however, we cannot see even a few feet in front of us.  There is a veritable wall completely impeding our view.  This is when prayer wells up from our hearts in desperation and trust becomes radical.  

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This afternoon, I spent some quiet time on my back porch swing, taking in the warmth of the sun and cradling our new family member, a rescue named Tommy.  He’s a cutie, right?!

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I listened to the wind whistling through the mesh on the screens. I watched the ripples glistening on the pond water. I looked in awe as the tall pines gracefully bowed and bent, surrendering to the invisible but powerful gusts.

What came to my mind as I talked to Jesus was #1  “Winds of Change” (We have surely been seeing this played out all over the news in recent months)  #2 The Power of the Holy Spirit (Come, Holy Spirit!  Come!) and #3 In order to weather the changes, we must remain flexible like those pines, surrendering to the gusts, yet standing firmly in the warmth and light of the sun (Son).

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I leave you with this passage from Scripture, God’s love letter to us:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.  Hebrews 12: 1-3

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Don’t Let it Go!

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For the past two weeks, this one rose has been blooming and hanging on to the bush.  Looking out the window toward Momma Mary, it caught my eye – as it was the lonely splash of color.  I thought it unusual how long it was there, as the individual blossoms usually last a few days, then fall to carpet the ground below.

Finally, this morning, a cool front is pushing through, and with it came the wind.  (It has been unseasonably warm and gloomy here in the Deep South.)  Right after I took the picture of the rose to show you, the wind came and swept it away.

The single rose reminded me of a favorite Traditional Christmas Hymn,  Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming.

Riding around my neighborhood, it is so sad to see how many neighbors have taken lights down and put the tree out on the curb- some the very day after Christmas!  I’m not condemning.  I’ll admit that I am trying to resist the urge myself.  Things get so cluttered during the weeks leading up to Christmas with the decorations and packages that it seems natural to want to get things “back into order” – to simplify again.

Let us hold onto the joy of Christmas ! Let us remain in awe of that baby – our King in the manger.  Let’s not put away the crib too quickly.

When someone in our own families gives birth, we celebrate!  New life brings joy and hope to all.  We don’t simply leave the baby and parents at the hospital and move on – back to life as usual.  No!  We count the moments until we can behold that precious baby again and hold him/her in our arms.  We take delight in watching the child grow and celebrating all of the milestones!

Jesus was no ordinary baby though – God took on human flesh to save you and me!    That precious infant that lay in a most humble animal trough wants to draw us close.  He wants our love for Him (and in turn our love for others) to grow exponentially – not just in this Christmas season – but in everyday of 2017 – and forward.   Let us bask in His presence awhile longer and cherish the true gift of Christmas!

 

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December 2016: Noel!

Finding the perfect tree-

Decking the Halls-

 

Slowing down –

Reflecting on the beauty of the message and reality of Christmas…

Noel!

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Light of the World

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel
,

which means “God is with us.”  

from Sunday’s gospel reading  (12/18/16)  Mathew 1: 18-24

My advent obsession is linked below- a song by Lauren Daigle.  It is truly inspired by the King of Kings!  I hear that Lauren Dangle may be up for a Grammy this year.  I so hope she wins – I love her voice and her music.  Check out her lineup on YouTube.  She’s got so many great, powerful, uplifting songs!

Lauren Daigle,  Light of the World

Enjoy!

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Splitting

wood-splittingSplitting. Compartmentalizing. There is a real struggle in our world today among Christians trying to live in the world that has descended into chaos and a great moral abyss.  I see many “splitting.” It has gotten so uncomfortable to stand out, that sometimes even good people compartmentalize different aspects of their lives to make life more bearable. I get it.

 

We, as humans, tend toward choosing the paths of least resistance. There’s the “holy”, faithful part of us that goes to church on Sunday and says grace before meals – when we are surrounded by like-minded people. It’s easy. Then there’s the part that cringes but doesn’t say anything when God’s name is used disrespectfully – the part that listens to the smutty song on the radio because the beat or the music makes us want to move – the part that is afraid to speak out for fear of retribution. From time to time, I struggle with this too, and I hate it!

 

We cannot have it both ways. We cannot live double lives as followers of Christ. In these times in which we live, we are being called to choose sides – to allow our faith to saturate every cell of our beings – to give ourselves over completely, unabashedly to God – to do with what He Wills – to be used as instruments – to bring others to Him – to bring light to the darkness.

 

We were chosen to live during these times!  (Wrap your brain around that!) If we are not standing out – if it is not uncomfortable – then we are not doing it right! Thankfully, God never leaves us alone to fend for ourselves. He promises grace sufficient for anything that may come our way. We simply need to ask for this grace through prayer and the sacraments. We must take time to empty ourselves before the Lord so that He may fill us. We’re not going to make it through the storms of this world running around on empty!

 

Prepare! Prepare the Way of the Lord! Come, let us adore Him!

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Excita, Domine, Potentiam Tuam, et Veni!

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Stir (up) thy might, O Lord, and come!

The winds of change are blowing strong.

There’s the change of seasons – the changing of the leaves in the Deep South and the first snowfalls in the far North.

There’s the end of the Year of Mercy and the beginning of a new Church year.

There’s the upcoming inauguration of a new president for the United States of America (I’m holding my breath).

The forces of nature seem to be resculpting the planet – leaving a path of destruction in so many places.  The flooding & earthquakes all over the globe, and (most recently) wildfires in and around our beloved Gatlinburg. It’s heartbreaking!  It seems as though the earth is heaving like a pregnant woman suffering with acute morning sickness – only this sickness is not caused by the gift of new life – the coming joy.  Instead it is caused by a rejection of the gift of life, of God – the Giver of Life- and of His laws created not to suppress us but to set us free – Free to love and be loved!  The world has taken God’s gifts and thrown them shamelessly at His Face.  We’ve grown proud, thinking that we don’t need God.  In His great mercy and love, He will remind us of our dependence on Him.  He will bring us to our knees – a painful but very good place to be when considering eternity and the immeasurable value of even one soul.

I have really gotten into studying biblical prophecy and the messages of Church approved “modern-day” prophets.   It is fascinating.  Each time  I read the bible, there is something new to be discovered – another layer to be peeled back – especially when coupled with the wisdom of those who know history and theology far better than myself.

Each advent, I like to re-watch the documentary, Star of Bethlehem.  It is a fascinating hour that bolsters my faith, puts me in awe of God the Creator, and inspires me to delve more deeply into scripture.  Recently, I stumbled upon this “update” (so to speak) to what I learned in the Star of Bethlehem.  It theorizes that Revelation Chapter 12 is literally being “played out” in the night sky right now!

A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.  She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth…”  Revelation 12: 1-2

I do hope that you will consider watching the video and reading the article as just one of the many ways that you can prepare your heart for the coming of Jesus!

Have a blessed advent.  I pray that we will all grow closer to Jesus with each and every breath that we take!  Come, Lord Jesus!

 

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Aslan is on the Move!

0909b_aslan“Aslan is on the move.”  On the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, I sat in St. Peter Church with my best friend.  When I returned from Holy Communion, I hid my face in my hands and prayed.  In my heart resounded a sentence from a beloved story I used to read to my fourth graders years ago – in my best British accent, of course!  “Aslan is on the move…Jesus is on the move!”

“And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don’t understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some enormous meaning—either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in his inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.”  from The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

In the present troubled times, it is so reassuring to know that Jesus is “on the move.”  He has got this world that seems to spinning out of control in the palm of His hand.  He knows the outcome of this upcoming election.  He hears the war drums beating all over the world. He has already won this war between the culture of death and the culture of life.  We know how this ends!  We have such incredible hope!  He never abandons His own.  Our God is the “Lion of Judah!”   Everything is possible for Him.  There is nothing He cannot do.  As the song (and the bible) say, “Who can stop the Lord Almighty?”  Step out in faith, embrace hope, and live in love!  Jesus will restore us, and every knee will bow to Him!

Check out these two songs & have a blessed week!

God is on the Move Seventh Time Down

The Lion and the Lamb Big Daddy Weave

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God Loves You THIS Much!

I had never really thought about God’s great love for me, until one special Sunday several years ago.  On that day, God’s love became personal to me – undeniably real.  It was life changing!

My family attended St. Patrick’s Church on Camp Street weekly during the 1990’s. At that time, the pastor was Monsignor John Reynolds. I loved Father John, as he was unafraid to speak the truth, and made no apologies for it! He would always say, “If you don’t like what I’m saying, don’t tell me. Tell God. This is what God said, not me.”                                 

After taking on the restoration of the historic church, Fr. John showed signs of slowing down. At one point, he suffered excruciating pain in his back and could not climb up the steps to the ambo anymore to preach his homilies. He also began forgetting things. On this one particular Sunday, he stood before the congregation, a hunched over shadow of the man that he once was. Stretching out his arms and placing them upon the altar, he braced himself.   In the middle of his homily, his brain, (perhaps clouded by the pain) could not retrieve the words that he had prepared and rehearsed. Awkwardly, he tried to regroup his thoughts, but to no avail. Finally, after a few seconds of silence (that seemed like hours) a tear rolled down this seventy- something year old’s face, and he said passionately, “GOD LOVES YOU.” A bit louder and with a broken voice, he repeated, “I want you to know that God loves you…SO MUCH. That’s all.” End of homily. We all sat in awe of what had just happened – stunned, saddened and overjoyed all at the same time. I left church that Sunday knowing with all my heart something that I had often doubted. God does love me immeasurably, and He loves you, too. St. Augustine once said, “God loves each of us as if there was only one of us.” Think about that.   Let the Truth of that statement settle into your bones.            

As an adult who has struggled with fertility issues, I feared that I might not have any children of my own. After I was blessed with one child, it took six years to get pregnant a second time. I know what it means to cherish an only child, fearing that there will never be another. God loves us even more than this!                

Once, when I was going through a particularly rough patch in life, I made my way to the adoration chapel, desperate to obtain some small measure of peace. I sat there for nearly two hours, pouring my heart out to God and just resting in His presence. I did receive peace – so much so that I had to make myself get up and go home. I wanted to stay in the safety of the chapel and hide from the problems of life so badly. Upon leaving, I walked swiftly to my car, trying to dodge the cold wind gusts. A beautiful, smiling woman wearing a black lace mantilla followed me. She approached me cautiously so as not to scare me. Then she told me that God wanted her to give me a message. “Wow. O.K.,” I thought. She told me that God wanted me to know that He was very close to me– “as close as the beating of my heart.” I thanked the woman, and she turned and ducked back into the chapel. I climbed into my car, half stunned. I tried to concentrate on the beating of my heart, but could not, so I placed my hand over my chest so that I could feel it pulsate. The thought that God had heard my prayers and pleas – that He would deign to be that close to me – that He cared that much. The love of the Creator for the created – unfathomable, and so beautiful!      Are you aware of how precious you and your family are to God? God spoke to Jeremiah the prophet saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you. Before you were born, I consecrated you.” Think about that statement. Sure, God was talking to someone else, but what are the implications for us? Did He know us before He formed us in our mother’s womb? Why did He bring us into existence? Was it Love?                                  

How do you want to respond to the reality of God’s incredible love? God wants to be the binding force in our marriages – the first of three – God, husband and wife. He wants to be the King of our homes. He wants to help us make our choices on what to watch on television. He wants to be there at the dinner table. He wants to be in our thoughts and on our lips when we rise in the morning and before we turn out the lights at night. He wants to celebrate the good times with us – birthday parties, learning to ride a bike for the first time, going fishing. He wants to comfort us when we are fearful or sad. Patiently, He is watching and waiting to be asked…        

(an excerpt from The Answer for Families)   65495-god-loves-you-this-much

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

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A Wonderful Day at the Washington Parish Fair

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