Category Archives: Inspirational

Women Too Scared to Speak?…NOT

My feeble journey on a hopeful path to holiness has led me to some interesting places over Pricillathe past year. Anyone that knows me knows that I am a talker. I love to talk to people and learn about them. But mostly I love to use my voice to bring them to the Lord. You need your voice sometimes to evangelize.

Over the years, I have dipped my toes into public speaking, a talent forcibly developed when Sr. Agneta had me enter the Optimist Club speaking contest back in the early 1970’s. I was SCARED TO DEATH. Until I realized when we were practicing that I could just take off my glasses and couldn’t see the millions  dozens of people in the audience! It took me a few other experiences after that through high school, but I found I didn’t mind it at all.

An article from the Washington Post in October 2014, listed public speaking as the top fear of 25% of Americans…if you ask your friends if they would rather eat bugs or speak in public, they would eat the bugs.

Mary MagdaleneSo, I thought when it comes to evangelization, I could handle it. Not so easy though.
Of course I can stand up in front of a group of nice Catholics and talk about my walk with Christ, about my failings and his saving me from myself. BUT, as I recently learned, it’s not so thrilling to present the same to an audience not expecting to hear that kind of story. The words just seem to stick in my throat.

I found this out when this Spring I participated in two such events. One was the culmination of a writing project through Heal My Voice and another, an invitation to present to the Business and Professional Women of Maryland. Neither of these were related to spirituality. But, my faith life is closely intertwined with my professional life as a pastoral counselor. So What Would Jesus Do?

I spoke. I had to clear my throat a few times as my heart was lodged there.

What happened? At both events, women came up to me and connected to me through their own experience of being afraid to speak about their faith. They use words like “inspired” and “refreshed”. They talked about being more free to spread their own stories of faith!

Using our voices openly is supported by the Scriptures, in Ephesians Chapter 4, we are toldLydiaeach of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift‘ and ‘speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ’.

Consider all of the women in the New Testament. Mary, the Mother of Christ, Mary Magdalene, the four daughters of Phillip the Evangelist, Pricilla, and Phoebe. They were not afraid. They had the love and mercy of Christ giving them courage!

Is this not the radical Christ presence? Be not afraid. Do not hold your tongue. Share the love and mercy of Christ. You will probably find you are not alone, you may find some new friends, and you may bring them to Christ!

May the peace of Christ be with you on your journey.

 

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

Bringing Peace through Disconnecting

red phone off the hookIn the past months, we have been overwhelmed with news reports of the horrific tragedies on every inhabited continent. I must admit there are many days when I just disconnect. In fact, when I do this I always think of how it must have been in the days of Christ when news travelled slowly and for the most part by word of mouth. How much easier to focus on the needs of our community, to take care of each other, and to know there was support right next door.

Imagine the quietness of walking along the pathways of Nazareth or Bethlehem.
Imagine the way your body would feel after a day of actual physical work.
Imagine the connections of conversation that would happen during your day  because there was no iPod, cell phone, email, or even mail in the mail box to convey your every thought and opinion!
Imagine the opportunities for silent conversation with God.
Imagine the lingering moments of travel by walking to where you need to be, the only sounds being nature around you.
Imagine happening upon the disciples or Christ himself during those times!

Today, take time to disconnect from the chaotic.no Wi fi in the forest
Today, just pray for the world. God knows what needs to be done.

We don’t need to know the details. We know that there will always be strife in the world until He comes again.
Christ told us this.

The most effective way that we can be Christ in the world, that we can work to make the world a better place is to act on those circumstances that are in our own neighborhoods.
IMAGINE if everyone did this! IMAGINE the joy we could spread by touching one person daily with mercy and kindness!

May you see the way you are to bring mercy and peace to someone today…

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

The Great “Yes”

 

Annunciation Henry Ossawa Tanner

What do we say “yes” to?
Who do we say “yes” to?
Why do we say “yes”?
Ponder these questions.

When have we said “yes” and been unsure?
When have we said “yes” and regretted it?
When have we said “yes” under duress?
Ponder these questions.

Would we have said “yes” to the Angel of the Lord?
Would we have said “yes” without hesitation, in full trust?
Would we have said “yes” in obedience?
Ponder these questions.

Will we be asked to say “yes” to the Lord today?
What will be our answer to the Lord when that next chance to say “yes” in all humility, trust and complete love is presented to us?
Will we recognize the next time the question is being presented to us?
Ponder these questions.

We ask our Blessed Mother to be with us today especially so she may open fully
our spiritual eyes that we may see each opportunity
to respond in solidarity with her Son’s love and mercy.

Her secret to a humble and loving response?
Following her God daily and adhering to His words in her every action.

“I delight to do your will, my God; your law is in my inner being!” Psalm 40:8

May we be so blessed. Amen.

Image “The Annunciation” by Henry Ossawa Tanner

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

Soul Stories: The Energy and Healing Power of Our Words

The soul is among other things a reservoir for our emotions and storytelling, especially in
the oral tradition, as it allows the person telling it to share their unique emotions with the listener. The shared emotions will evoke a response in the listener that brings them into the story. A good writer can do this also. As we tell our story, we have an image in our mind and when we listen to a story we create images in our mind to illustrate the words. The emotions combined with the images give the story meaning outside the bare words hanging in the air.

Our emotions expose the soul’s urgent appeals to pay attention to our spiritual nature. They may fall or rise with the soul’s emptying and filling. We can embrace the times of splendid fullness as our union with God. St. Teresa of Avila would call this consolation. The times of emptiness are desolation, a lack of feeling the closeness of God even though our intellect tells us God is certainly there. In fact by our Baptism, the gift of the Holy Spirit places God within us at all times. We just forget. We are human and need reminders.

conversation

People describe these empty and full times through the stories that accompany them. It is in this way we can heal ourselves and lead others to their own healing. As a therapist, I listen to stories. Deep personal stories of despair, loneliness, anger, hurt, and hopelessness, the telling of which brings forth the emotions from a soul desperate to be cleansed and nurtured with love. The old chapters begin to instead be just a preface to life’s new chapters told with hope and belief that there can be happy moments and deep joy.

As Catholics we read stories in the Scriptures. We recognize the Old Testament was “written” by people of the Jewish faith and these writings remain their Scripture today. These stories though were first spoken and passed down through the ages as revered family history important to life centered on God. Currently the role of the maggid is being revived and recognized as important especially in our technology focused society. A maggid is more than a storyteller, they are someone whose mission is to bring the people to God.

Jesus preaching JoN

Christ would have been seen as a radical maggid. People brought their fears and doubts and He told them stories or parables that were a lesson for living. Imagine hearing Christ proclaim these first stories! They form the most important parts of our New Testament. Emotions of all kind were evoked by his storytelling! He challenged them to listen with spiritual ears of the soul so their lives could be healed of sin.

As we journey through Lent, allow the stories of the Passion to enter your soul and release the stories you need to tell, if only to yourself and God, so that true healing can take place.
Then with renewed energy, tell others about your joy in Christ and invite them to share the experience!

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

More Lenten Preparations

As you know I have been writing about humility and working on incorporating this virtue into all aspects of my life.  Today I am practicing this virtue by not writing my own thoughts and sharings of knowledge, but by offering you a resource which will be a gift to you as you prepare for Lent.

Dan Burke, author and now commentator on Divine Intimacy radio, has prepared 3 radio programs for us to use as we get ready for a very important liturgical season.

I hope it bears spiritual fruit for you…

DivIntRadioPREPARING FOR LENT – DIVINE INTIMACY RADIO

You can copy and paste the link below into your browser if clicking the link above does not work…

http://spiritualdirection.com/preparing-lent-divine-intimacy-radio

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

A Humble Voice Sings the Litany of Humility

Well, I’m still working on the virtue of humility. It’s hard! So I thought a different approach may be uplifting…here is the Litany of Humility from the album “I Thirst” by Danielle Rose.

Enjoy! And join me in trying to be more aware of areas to be more humble. I’ll get more in depth next week and talk about some ideas of how and touch on how the Blessed Mother shows us the way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zCacRoKtVZs

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

Lenten Preparations

Ash WednesdayI don’t know about you, but to me it feels like it was just Christmas and now we will begin the season of Lent in just two weeks. Ash Wednesday is on February 18th this year. A fact about Ash Wednesday that I heard on the Catholic Channel yesterday…it’s not a holy day of obligation! This only means you do not have to attend Mass on that day. I guess it may be a good thing because more people will likely show up for a shorter service to receive ashes.

As I was thinking about what to write today, it came to me that the decorations of Christmas add such a feeling of being in a different time during the days between Thanksgiving and Epiphany. There is a constant reminder that something is happening. There is something to celebrate.

While Lent is traditionally a time of deprivation and sacrifice for most Catholics, the past couple of decades have seen a trend toward fulfilling the mission of the Church through acts of kindness and mercy. Instead of giving up chocolate, we give of ourselves at a soup kitchen or volunteer to read to underprivileged children. In this way we act as Christ so others can see Christ in us and we see Christ in them. We show them love.

This change in practice is fitting as Lent is the time to celebrate the most loving thing God ever did for us. He became one of us in Christ and allowed himself to be tortured and killed for our sins while in his human form. He felt the pain and the agony. He was not in some divinely protected state, it was horrific suffering. HE DIED FOR US. HE SUFFERED FOR US. For you. For me. For the people we love and the people we despise. For everyone because everyone was created by God.

And this is to be celebrated.

I encourage you to decorate your home for Lent. Not in any gaudy way. Leave the bunnies Home altar 2and eggs for Holy Week. Home altars are encouraged in our Catechism (2691). So consider designing an altar in your home. A place that honors what Christ did for you. Pick a place that will be seen frequently, mine is in my foyer. Use a Bible, holy cards, candles, statues, pictures, icons…whatever makes the connection for you.

Allow its creation to be a family project. Children can add their own special touches allowing them to be engaged in the love of Christ. Encourage the family to say a short prayer together at this altar. Make liturgical changes in your altar. At Lent, I add three iron nails and a small grapevine wreath to represent the crown of thorns. After Easter Vigil, they are removed and replaced with a cherished statue of the Risen Christ.

Your altar is a silent, but powerfully comforting place in your home. A reminder that our homes are where the Church lives day in and day out.

Enjoy this creative and prayerful process…and if you like, post a picture of your altar!

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

Glimpse of heaven

gates-of-heavenMany people leave this Earth each day. Unless we know them or see a news article or program, we seldom think about it. That is as it it should be I guess or we would be forever worrying about death and would miss the life that our Lord sent us here to live and enjoy.

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

Today, our pastor, Fr. Henry Kunkel, of St. Mary of the Assumption in Pylesville, MD lost his mother, Catherine. In a way, many of us lost a spiritual mother today. She was an important presence at our small, rural parish for many years as Father cared for her in the rectory where she made her home, until just a week ago when she went to the hospital.

Psalm 37:4  “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Catherine was a spunky woman of Northern Italian heritage (she would want me to make sure you knew she was Northern Italian!) who lived life to its fullest. My fondest memories of her will be of the stories she told of her most treasured saint, St. Frances Cabrini. She relied on her in times of trouble to comfort her and bring the issues to the Lord for resolution. Her room at the rectory included a small shrine to this holy woman. Her stories of  her time in Peru with her husband, Anthony, and Fr. Kunkle and his sister, Karen, were some of her favorite to tell and mine to listen to. She was an inspiration even when poor health kept her to a quieter pace.

Psalm 146:2  “I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God while I have my being.”

I had the honor to spend many hours with her in the past week as she allowed her last moments on Earth to pass. I am so grateful to Father and Karen for granting me this time. Witnessing Father’s tender words of release and love to her brought tears and an even deeper appreciation for the beauty of the relationship between this mother and her son.
Sitting with her as she became less in this world and more in her spiritual being so as to pass into the loving arms of God allowed me much time for thought and prayer. It was as if I could feel the gates of Heaven slowly opening a little more each day as she readied herself so graciously to be held in the arms of the Lord. The presence of God and his angels was palpable.

Ecclesiastes 12:7  “And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.”

I thank you Lord for giving me this spiritual mother here on Earth to guide me. Maybe she and my earthly mother will meet in the heavens…of course after Ms. Catherine is finished chatting with St. Frances Cabrini and her husband, Anthony. Knowing her, probably in that order!

Until we meet again Ms. Catherine…I love you!

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

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!

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!

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.

Ellen Marie Dumer, LCPC, president and founder of Living Your Exceptional Life™, is a pastoral counselor, life success coach, published author, and sought-after speaker. She is a guide and mentor for Catholic/Christian women seeking to harness and cultivate their aspirations for a life based on faith in Christ.

She and her husband, Deacon Gary Dumer, live in Maryland, have 4 children and soon-to-be nine grandchildren. Ellen loves to paint and craft, read, go on long bike rides and walks, garden, and spend fun time with her friends!