Blessed Woman Shares Her Gift Through Music

Donna Cori Gibson singingThis Lent I have restricted myself to only Catholic/Christian media. One of my favorites for many years has been Donna Cori Gibson. I first heard her on EWTN and fell in love with how she  takes prayers from the Saints, the Church, and word-for-word from Scripture and sets them to contemporary music to make learning easy. She also sings the rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, and a song for each station of the cross. You can get FREE downloads of some of her songs at www.donnacorigibson.com/FreeDownload1.html.

You will be inspired!

  

Joyfully Painful Growth Toward Your Purpose

plant through crackAs we move even deeper into following our purpose there is a purging of personality characteristics that have been hidden. It IS painful, but if there can be one, a joyful pain. Yes, even more so as I step into my God gifted purpose. What we need is always provided. I ran across an article by Randy Hain that addressed exactly what I had been experiencing. Somehow seeing the words in print helped me release the obstacles!

If you are feeling stuck in finding or following your God-gifted purpose, you will enjoy this article…

http://www.integratedcatholiclife.org/2014/02/randy-hain-six-obstacles-to-catholic-authenticity/

  

Sharing About…when prayer is hard

image016Some of you may know my husband Gary, a deacon at our parish, also has a blog. When I saw it this morning my first thought was, “Hey that was going to by my topic!”…After reading it and seeing his choice of accompanying picture I knew he was sensing my own recent difficulties…I couldn’t have said it better, so here is the link!  Enjoy your day. And know that even  when prayer is hard for us, God is still there in the very same loving and compassionate way as when prayer seems easier!

http://deacongarydumer.com/2014/02/03/how-do-we-pray/

  

Getting Used…and loving it!

This past Thursday night, January 30, 2014, I was privileged to witness the Holy Spirit at work right in my little country parish of St. Mary’s in Pylesville, MD. But before I tell you how, here is the beginning of the story…

I have been a part of St. Mary’s for a little over ten years. My husband, Gary, and I arrived when he was assigned there after his ordination to the deaconate. Our home parish was very different than St. Mary’s, large and more suburban, thousands of families vs. hundreds, modern in architecture vs. an original stone church with wooden pews and a choir loft… a big change. With this move, I decided to change my “church self” too.

At our home parish, I had been very active in ministry, trying to find my place in God’s world. I found out a lot about myself and the Church there. Mostly wonderful discoveries, but also disappointments. This little exchange with my mother-in-law, Rita, will explain it.

pathwayRita, had been a lifelong staff member of many parishes, usually managing the parish office. When I began my own venture into volunteering at church, it was SO exciting! To be around people who love God, to be in that atmosphere all the time was what I wanted.
Well, about six months into my volunteer work on the Parish Council, I called Rita. “Mom, I thought that working at the church, everyone would be nice! I am so disappointed.” Rita, with her characteristic kindness and wisdom, said “People who work at churches are just people, just keep doing what you are called to do.” So I did.

By the time Gary was ordained, I was ready for a break. I was finishing up my Master’s Degree in Pastoral Counseling, working full-time and raising 4 children. So I decided that I would remain in the background at St. Mary’s, sitting in the back of the church, actually enjoying the anonymity and alone time with God. Little by little people would figure out who I was, the deacon’s wife. But I kept a low profile for about 3 years. My promise to God was that if he asked me to do something specific I would.

It only took two weeks before Father Kunkel asked to speak with me after Mass.

The request was to attend the Adult Education committee meetings, which I did. My yearning to be involved again was sparked. So began the next phase of my journey, doing women’s groups, working with the Youth Ministry at Catholic Heart Work Camp, pitching in at the bi-annual chicken dinners and so on.

Then last April, I saw that a ministry that had been close to my heart for ten years, fire heartsChristLife, was holding its annual training. Hmm, maybe I should look into that, I thought.
The birth of this evangelization ministry took place with some of the parishioners at my beloved childhood parish and school, St. Louis in Clarksville, MD. I had known one of its founders since childhood, attending elementary and middle school with his daughter and then later in life reconnecting with her at Loyola where we both received our training in Pastoral Counseling. It had been tugging at my heart for 10 years. Maybe now was the time.

But with a private practice to handle and the addition of many grandchildren that I wanted time to enjoy, would I have the time?  I thought, “I’ll ask Gary, that will decide it.” Somewhere in my heart I was torn between him wanting to say “yes” and wanting him to say “no”. I figured my chances were good that he would say no because he was so busy himself. Well I bet you know what happened, he was glad to attend the training with me and get involved. Uh..oh.

So there I was, all trained up and excited, a little worried about how to or if I could handle the challenge and ready to present the idea to our Parish Council. Here was my “out”… I had been willing, now I would be let off the hook of fear that was setting in. Parish Councils are notorious for shooting down new ideas…God bless them. Well again, I bet you know what happened. The Parish Council president was elated, “This is what we have been praying for!”  ”Really?!” I thought to myself. Uh..oh. The 25 minute drive home was a mixture of anxiety and excitement.

So here we are in February of 2014, 10 months after that National Training for ChristLife. We had a pilot program for which 20 people volunteered their time and talent in September. They also had to put up with my inundating their email with news and changes and the meetings that took their personal time. Their spouses and families sacrificed having them present while they took on the joy of ministry.

Months of bulletin and pulpit announcements, Father Kunkel “advertising” after Mass, hospitality Sunday presence and tables at the numerous other parish events were a holy barrage of invitations to Discovering Christ. “Join us, join us!”, we sang in every way possible. We hoped some people would show up…maybe a dozen or so.

IMG_1548Last Thursday, 85 people listened to the call. Not of us, the team. Not of the bulletin or pulpit pleas. But the call of Christ in their hearts…their hearts were burning within them.

So, I got used. I got used by God to bring a simple message about a way to evangelize, a way for people to have a deep relationship with our Lord.

And I have never been happier about being used in my life! Praise God for his power over my doubt and fear. For his taking over and running the show! AMEN.

When you feel the rustlings, when you feel the urge to give, listen. It is God calling you.

  

Poisons purged…

As I continue to participate in the Heal My Voice project on Feminine Leadership lead by Andrea Hylen, what I expected to write about is 180 degrees different from what I am writing about out of  my soul. She warned us about this!

Moving toward a new way of working with Catholic women brought with it the realization poison bottleof actually preparing for leadership. Not getting lessons, webinars, newsletters, and articles ready. Not marketing strategies.

Inside preparation. Soul readiness. It’s WAY harder. Painful, deep…Purging. Realizing patterns of thinking and behavior that serve only to keep me stuck in a place where Christ cannot be effective through my work and my passion.

It is a surprising place to be after committing to a much deeper connection to God over the past year. We usually expect to be in a more wonderful “happy place” as a result of this daily dedication. Don’t get me wrong. Life has certainly been the beneficiary of many, many gifts of blessings and joy. BUT (and my husband will laugh at this…), “I did not want this!”

This place of purging IS a gift. It feels grown up and responsible and capable of  being the woman God sent me here to be in this time in our Earthly history. It feels like it is a completion of years of nagging little pains, memories, behaviors, and false beliefs. It feels like the strongbox holding all of this is exploding open instead of its contents oozing out into my consciousness like a poison to my soul.

Beautiful maryMy poisons are being revealed. The antidote is Christ. The balm is his blessed mother, Mary.

  

Who Can I Trust?

Christmas vacations are over…my mind is back in the real world now.
Whatever that may be.

The break I took was intentional. A break from a lot of my business development. This made so much room for my brain cells. It left room for me to follow through on some procrastinations. But mostly it gave me time to hear important whispers from my soul.

What did they say? Love, love and again love. There were many words directing who to love, what to love, why to love, when to love, how to love and mixed in with these words were messages with the word “not” connected to them also. It’s not necessary to put all these words here. The only important one is love.

My break gave me time to feel out my thoughts not just have them jumble upon each other in a chaotic, frenzied mess. Feeling allowed me to discern what’s important right now that will benefit my future, not just soothe me in the moment.

trusting god penny

The outcome of my break? I figured out who I can trust. I can trust God and I can trust myself when I am in a connected relationship with God and the word of God. I plan on a new way of being this year. A year of being with God. Let me correct that.

A year of realizing in every possible moment that God is with me every moment and that I only need to be aware…and love.

  

The Blessing of Sisters

For those of you that have them…you know that yes, they are a blessing. May not always seem that way, but what would you do without them? Hey, God set us up together and that is good enough for me!

I spent the day with mine yesterday in Gettysburg, PA, having a Christmas get together. We ate at the Dobbin House and wandered the streets finding some special gifts for loved ones that you just can’t find at Macy’s! Can’t say anything about them here…or the surprise would be ruined! Later we sat in a diner having a “sisterly” conversation over hot chocolate…the two young women working there gave us more than a couple of looks and smiles as we “discussed” and laughed, shed a few tears and even held hands and prayed out loud for our relationship. My two sisters are younger than myself and twins, adding a special dimension to our relationship in more ways than one!

Probably the most famous “sister act” in the Bible is Martha and Mary…connected by love for each other and Christ even in their differences. Both wonderful women, but uniquely spirited. Take a minute to read the story…Click here.

So today, I share with you the following video clip from one of my most favorite holiday movies to bring some cheer to you as we continue to wait in celebration of Advent!

And remind you to give your sister a call today to tell her you love her no matter what!
Enjoy!

Click here to enjoy the show!

  

A Picture, Just in Time

Sunday morning I woke up with a vague feeling of sadness. Of course my thinking self kicked in and needed to figure it out.

Saturday, I had spent the day in my kitchen with my new convection oven, my daughter and granddaughter (22 months old) and my daughter’s mother-in-law sister-in-law baking Christmas cookies, sampling Christmas cookies, and drinking a couple of glasses of wine. There was laughter and jokes, reminiscing and looking forward…and plenty of flour dust all over the place! The cookies turned out great, just one batch completely burned while we adored my granddaughter “baking”. A memory making day…

So why this feeling? A photo lovingly sent the day before by my cousin is the clue.
Here it is…

Me and MomThat’s my mom and me…isn’t she beautiful? Just glowing in her love for me just a few weeks old. I missed out on getting a lot more of that love because when I was 16 years old she passed away after a long, courageous battle with cancer. I remember some really important messages she gave to me…but a lot feels like it is missing.

One of the most important things that I have of hers is her statue of Mary. It sits on my desk where I do my writing along with her high school picture. She left me a legacy of my Catholic faith and trusting in God when times are really rough. She always trusted that God was her primary care doctor and could heal her in every way, even if it was not to be physically. This is THE most important thing she left me…it bonds us through the heavens and I feel her presence deeply. And Blessed Mary is there to help us along the way.

And the reason for the sadness? I just happened to remember that December 15, 1975 is the day she passed into the arms of the Lord she loves so much. It may sound strange, but at 54 years of age, I realize that she has been an incredible, maybe a better mother, from heaven than she may have been on Earth. She is right there in Heaven interceding for her children every moment…at least that would be what I would be doing! My deepest prayers are always for my children.

So my loving cousin sent me a photo of Mom loving me…just in time. Thank you Susan!

For all of you without your mom, rely on our mother in Christ Jesus. Our Blessed Mother Mary. She will console, encourage and uplift you every step of the way!

  

Feeling Christ’s Presence

In my therapy and coaching practice, many clients share that they know Jesus loves them, but have a hard time actually feeling the love that is there for them. The reason for this is unique for each person. What follows is a wonderful way to feel the presence of Jesus. When I happened upon it today, I knew it was something to share…Enjoy the blessings!
And thank you Jim!

Prayer Exercise: Enjoying Jesus’ Presence

by JIM MANNEY

Remember a time when you saw Jesus with the inner eyes of your soul, when you Jesus Lovingexperienced his presence in a vivid way, when he came alive for you in your prayer. Remember the inner details and outer circumstances of the experience. Savor the richness of the experience and relive it in your memory, feeling, imagination, heart, and mind. Be attentive to God’s presence.

  • What were the circumstances of the experience, that is, were you by yourself, on a retreat, at a liturgy?
  • How would you describe Jesus’ presence in the experience?
  • What were some of your feelings, thoughts, and desires?
  • What differences did you notice within yourself as a result of this experience?
  • Do you notice anything new happening in you now as you remember and relive the experience?

As you relive it, be attentive to God’s presence. Share with God any feelings that arise, and listen to God’s response. Ask God for the grace to notice Jesus more readily within yourself and within your life.

- See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/9508/prayer-exercise-enjoying-jesus-presence/#sthash.HB6SyQ1s.dpuf

  

Simply waiting…for simple things

 

Two Candles Advent

“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:34

Second week of Advent, two candles.

What am I waiting for?
For Joy-Full days.
For Love unconditional.
For Peace all over.
For you Lord Jesus Christ!
MAY YOU ALL BE BLESSED WITH ALL OF THESE
…AND MORE!