Thursday, February 24, 2011


When I press the mute button on my harried life, and seek to be silent before God, chattering monkeys descend on me. It seems to be their signal to leap into my brain to distract me.

“How difficult this is!” writes Henri Nouwen. “When we sit down for half an hour – without talking to someone, listening to music, watching television, or reading a book – and try to become very still, we often find ourselves so overwhelmed by our noisy inner voices that we can hardly wait to get busy and distracted again. Our inner life often looks like a banana tree full of jumping monkeys!”

How then can we deal with such tumult that tries to prevent our concentration on God’s Presence? These thought-monkeys seek to divide and conquer the best of our intentions. Nouwen continues, “But when we decide not to run away and to stay focused, these monkeys may gradually go away because of lack of attention, and the soft gentle Voice the Beloved calling us may gradually make itself heard.”

It’s unrealistic to think we can be totally devoid of thoughts. We simply need to decide that they don’t matter. It is best if we ignore them, let them chatter away, accept them without anxiety, and not even try to suppress them. If we don’t let them distract us from our purpose to meet with God, like spoiled children vying for attention, most of them will sooner or later just go away. Firmly and quietly, when we persist and focus on God’s Presence, our spiritual concentration will be sustained. It will take practice and perseverance.

Is it worth the effort? Nouwen declares, “We simply need quiet time in the presence of God. Although we want to make all our time, time for God, we will never succeed if we do not reserve a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, or whatever period of time for God and him alone. This asks for much discipline and risk-taking because we always seem to have something more urgent to do and just “sitting there” and “doing nothing” often disturbs us more than it helps. But there is no way around this. Being useless and silent in the Presence of our God belongs to the core of all prayer.”

A high goal but a worthy, attainable desire. We tend to think that prayer is exclusively talking to God. Perhaps my own noisy chatter is as loud in God’s ears as the monkey chatter is distracting to me. My continual and sometimes trivial babbling petitions may actually hinder my sweet communion with the Divine. It is urgent that I be quiet so I can listen to His higher desires for me instead.

I understand that a shepherd never shouts at his sheep. He speaks with a quiet, gentle tone to guide them. The sheep have to quiet their noisy bleating so they will not miss his instructions when he wants to lead them to green pastures and beside quiet waters. They recognize their own shepherd’s voice among all the other shepherds guiding their flocks.

Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27)


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Cultivating a JOY SPOT

“What an ugly day!” A woman I didn’t know scowled as she passed me on the sidewalk as I approached an office building this morning. Her remark caught me by surprise. I didn’t have time to respond as she hurried past. Well, it certainly was foggy and misty and bone-chilling, but it was still a day to celebrate as a gift from our generous God.

I thought of the iPhone photo of my two month old great-grandbaby that my granddaughter Kara sent to my computer this morning. I had just time enough to reply to her before driving off on an errand.

“That smiley picture of Makenna you sent is a treasure! It brightened this gray day like a ray of sunshine. I have to tell you about a program I saw on TV last week. A medical doctor was telling about the importance of nourishing the JOY SPOT in a baby! He claimed that there is actually a JOY SPOT located in the brain of a baby that needs special attention during the first three months of life. If it neglected, the child will be deprived of emotional health, and the effects could last for a lifetime.

The point was that parents should try to make a baby smile and laugh and respond to their own facial expressions and sweet talk as much as possible, and as early as possible. When an infant smiles and coos and gestures, it is said to actually affect the baby's physical health in a positive way. It can ward off illnesses and speed up overall growth. You can grow your own happy baby!

In contrast, a grouchy, frustrated, even sometimes angry, or unhappy parent will be reflected in the baby’s emotions and features just like looking in a mirror. A baby can in reality feel love in the room and be nurtured by it. Or suffer for lack of it. The tone and level of voices around her affects her response. Touch, of course, has a lot to do with it; the more you lovingly cuddle and caress a baby, the healthier she will be. Rough handling and impatient treatment only aggravate a fussy, restless, or crying child.

Well, a lot of this is just common sense, isn’t it Kara? Nevertheless it is backed up by psychologists and doctors and caregivers. I’m guessing that you know all about this since your academic field has been psychological research. It’s never too late to work on that JOY SPOT in anyone’s life—child, sibling, spouse, parent, or senior adult. The Scripture says, “A merry heart does good like a medicine.” And “The JOY of the Lord is your strength.”

I think you and Brian as parents, and the rest of our doting family and friends, are doing a great job of nurturing Makenna's JOY SPOT. Wait until she giggles and belly laughs—the rest of us will join our JOY SPOTS with hers for a healthy, group laugh fest!

The frowning lady on the sidewalk who was having an ugly morning? Perhaps she needs her JOY SPOT attended to. Sadly, she might be going through some tough times. I wish I could rewind our encounter so I could have thought of a response that would have brought her some sunshine. “Lord, You know who she is, where she is right now, and what condition her JOY SPOT is in. Nurture it please!”


Monday, February 21, 2011

Introducing a good friend's blog

Young Moms, grandmoms, and great-grandmoms (and everyone else who loves kiddos, the menfolks as well) will enjoy Monica Gill's charming blog

"Grace" has a double meaning..."Grace" is the name of her engaging little daughter, and God's "Grace" overflows in their everyday family happenings centered around spiritual lessons the entire family is learning launched by something little Gracie says or does in ordinary life situations.

Those of us who are delighted to follow her blog embrace and benefit from
those spiritual uplifters too.
Sample her archives, meet the family, and enjoy her photos.
You are sure to return!

Monica has another wing on her blog which she calls WHOLEHEARTEDLY -- a call to complete surrendered living to the Lord Jesus Christ--
where she invites guest contributors to share some gem of truth or experience.
Today, February 21, she invited yours truly to submit a vignette
of some spiritual experience which I've entitled
"Minimal Collateral Damage."

You can get there by clicking WHOLEHEARTEDLY
on Monica's header toolbar on the Home page of her blog.

Happy reading!


Thursday, February 17, 2011


A few years ago we had an ornamental bush in our front yard that never lost its leaves and remained exactly the same size year after year. No, it wasn’t an evergreen, and it wasn’t one of those plastic Christmas trees, the kind with limbs that fold out or have detached branches to stick into holes in the green metal trunk.

This bush used to be alive and growing. It needed watering, sun, and nourishment. But something happened; we really don't know what. Suddenly it dried up and died. For some reason the leaves didn't fall off that first year, they just turned brown.

I suggested digging it up and planting a new bush in the same spot. But my late husband Ted complained about its size, that the root system was extensive, and he wasn't keen on trying to do such excavation. Then he got an idea and disappeared to the hardware store. On a calm day with no wind he used up an entire can of dark green spray paint on that dead bush. The bush looked terrific! No one would have guessed that it wasn't alive and well. We called it our "Hypocrite Bush." A private joke, but now I've told you the secret.

Some deceiving and deceived Christians have a similar problem, even some of us in our more mature years. They may be advanced in age but not advanced in spiritual growth and maturity. As the years go by, they allowed their spiritual life to wither and dry through lack of spiritual nourishment or exposure to the Son. They may have been busy making a living, pursuing the legitimate responsibilities of this world, but concerned mostly with material things. Not necessarily bad things, but ordinary "cares of this life," in Bible terms. Such cares can gradually consume the hours and days and years of our daily lives.

Whenever my grandson Jeffrey, a sprouting eleven year old, comes to visit, he stands as tall as he can and measures himself against the basement door where we’ve marked his growth through the years. “Make a mark, please. Am I taller than last month, Grandma?”

We do well to check our growth, to measure our progress spiritually since we first became alive in Christ when we were “born of water and of the Spirit.” (John 3) Or perhaps we didn't wither and die—we were never alive; we only gave the appearance of being Christian? We may have been like artificial, plastic Christmas trees. We may have fooled other people, but we never fooled ourselves or God. We sprayed ourselves virtuous green to hide our lack of life. Or perhaps we allowed others to spray us green, people who simply assumed we had life when we didn't. Our deception is sure to catch up with us.

Any of us can, all of us should aspire to become saints in the biblical usage of the term “saint” as one who is becoming holy, a genuine "planting of the Lord." We can go directly to the Giver of Life to receive His Life and then begin to grow “ mature manhood to the extent of the full stature of Christ" (Eph. 4:13)

When we become spiritually alive, we won't need green spray paint to camouflage our lifeless condition. John 11:25, 26, is a genuine evergreen passage with a supernaturally wonderful promise: "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?'"



The apostle Paul is not specific about the nature of his physical infirmity noted in Galatians 4:13, " was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you...." Because of the context, it is speculated that Paul might have had a severe and miserable eye problem, perhaps chronic, and he may have had to interrupt his missionary journey to stay in Galatia longer for his recovery. This may have been what he referred to as his “thorn in the flesh” for which he prayed to be healed three times but God answered otherwise in a more excellent way. (2 Cor. 12:7) Whatever it was, Paul took advantage of the prolonged negative circumstances to preach the gospel instead of indulging in a pity party. Adversity shook his tree and the Galatians benefited from the dropping of his good fruit.

In his letter to the Church in Galatia, Paul teaches and demonstrates by his life what the Fruit of the Spirit is all about. That Fruit doesn’t suddenly appear, as do the Gifts for ministry given by the Holy Spirit. It grows gradually from bud to blossom to full fruit as it does in nature. We grow the fruit of our Christian character with all those fruits or virtues itemized in Galatians chapter five. That fruit matures as a gradual process throughout our lives. To “bear fruit and more fruit and much fruit" is the express will of God for His children and doesn’t happen overnight like Jack’s beanstalk in the fairy tale.

Early fruit is usually not sweet because it isn't ripe, it hasn't matured. Time hasn't mellowed it, and it tends to be tart. The seeds it contains in the early stages are not fully developed either, and so can’t reproduce in a normal, healthy way. The longer the fruit remains on the tree connected to the flowing, vital sap of the tree, the sweeter it becomes. Mature fruit should be the sweetest.

Eventually, to accomplish the purpose of fruit bearing, the fruit has to be separated from the tree. It has to be picked, or dropped due to its ripeness, or someone or something has to shake the tree. Whatever “fruit of the Spirit” God is developing in our lives is always meant for the benefit of others, not for ourselves. Others need to taste the fruit we are bearing.

Scripture often uses the simile of a fruit-bearing tree and a faithful Christian. A bodily illness or other affliction or adversity can shake us up and result in spiritual fruit falling from our tree. That fruit can be good or bad depending on what has been growing on the tree. Hopefully, we’ve been developing good fruit.

We express through our attitude and temperament and character those godly virtues listed in Galatians chapter five: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self‑control. All those aspects of fruit are meant to affect and nourish all with whom we come in contact. Our fruit contains seeds which God has been growing in us for a lifetime that have the potential of reproducing our Lord's character in the lives of others.

Our fruit is meant for others—for our families, our caregivers, if we are ill, or those for whom we care, our friends, those with whom we have rubbed shoulders in the public square or during common events of life, or to whom we minister. These all need to see Jesus in us even when we are hurting with pain, miserable with our weakness, suffering, losing control over normal aspects of our life through aging, or when we suffer bodily indignities through tests or medical procedures. God uses such happenings to shake our tree and dole out our fruit.

We may view all of the above afflictions, sufferings, trials, and distresses as designed by the Enemy of our souls to shake our life tree and cause our fruit to fall ineffectively to the ground. We may feel that in such circumstances we no longer have any opportunity for witness. On the contrary, the Lord may permit such harsh conditions to shake our life tree so that our falling fruit may become accessible to others. The shaking may not be a bad thing, but rather in fulfillment of God’s plan to show forth the life of Christ through us. As others “eat the fruit” that is dropping from us through our patient, loving, longsuffering, joyful attitude during our times of hardship, they are nourished and God receives the glory.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


Among the seasons of life is chronological maturity: aging, if you will. Even if you resist it, if you live long enough, you will slide, albeit reluctantly, into the final phase of this mortal life on Planet Earth. Some call that stage of life your “sunset years.” I prefer to call them “sunrise years”: since we are Christians, we don’t face growing darkness; instead we anticipate dawn and Eternal life with God. “The child is father of the man…The last of life for which the first was made,” wrote a famous poet.

I remember myself as a vacillating teenager always excited about something new or different, and my parents using the word phase in a disparaging way. “Oh, it’s just a phase that Leona is going through. She’ll get over it.” However, we don’t “get over” our seasons of life; we have to go through them, if God blesses us with long life. We don’t have the luxury of tripping lightly through the tulips through each chronological stage from youth to maturity. Human time is divided into seasons of life, and each phase provides its own opportunities, responsibilities, joys and challenges.

I’ve often used the term “seasoned saints” to refer to Christians who are maturing chronologically. The apostle Paul addressed all Christians as “saints” not because they wore halos, were sanctimonious above their fellow mortals, or had achieved perfection. The Bible simply uses the word to refer to believers in Christ living on earth or in heaven. Also, I don’t restrict the term to the departed who are canonized by the Catholic Church because of their heroic virtue or extraordinary holiness.

Let’s explore the treasures of that season of life that is finally approaching ripeness in wisdom, experience, and responsibility—and hopefully, holiness and devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ and the Church which He established for our nurture.

Delving into the dictionary meaning of being seasoned is like discovering a mother lode of gold. The word season is a derivative of the Middle English, sesoun, Old French, se(i)on, and Latin word sation meaning “a sowing time.” That root meaning in itself is significant to the chronologically mature period of our lives:

We are seasoned in the sense of experienced. We have done a lot of living which we can generously share with others for their benefit. (But only when we are asked!)

Another meaning of seasoned is to be toughened by conditions, like wood. “Hardened and rendered immune to shrinkage, warping, etc.” We are durable because we have lived long enough to learn to endure the adversities of life through trust in God.

Seasoned also means heightened or improved in flavor by the addition of herbs, spices and the like. Good cooks add just the right seasoning in the proper amount to enhance the taste. God is seasoning us all the time, adding this and that to increase His joy in us and our pleasure in Him and our usefulness for His Kingdom. As we age we shouldn’t become like salt that has lost its savor.

A season is, of course, a time of the year—four distinct seasons in certain parts of the globe. Normally, human beings experience four seasons of life although somewhat overlapping. God expects different things of us in different time periods of life. He intends that we should live fully in the present at whatever season we find ourselves. God has allowed some of us to see many seasons come and go; we have gained a perspective that as good stewards we should sow into our posterity.

In due season we shall reap if we faint not” the Scripture promises. Due season always seems to be illusively off in the future somewhere, sometime other than right now. We spent a lifetime tilling, sowing, watering, and cultivating. In our latter season we are more eager to reap because time does not seem to be on our side. However, God’s timing is not the same as our timing. Just as there is a due date for the birth of a baby that requires a prescribed sequence of growth to take place in the womb, so God has a due season for the fullness of some things He wants to do in us and through us in the lives and circumstances of others. Let’s be on the alert so we won’t miss our due season.

“To everything there is a season” the writer of Ecclesiastes declares. He proceeds to detail many of the milestone events of life with contrasts: “…a time to…and also a time to….” In our advanced years we acknowledge God’s wisdom to bring us through many of those opposites to balance our lives.

When a fruit is in season, it is ripe, mellow, fragrant, nutritious, and at the peak of its essence. We hope that can be said of us. We should not bemoan the fact that we are aging; instead we should revel in our opportunity to bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit according to Jesus’ desire and plan for the aging. The Psalmist compared the mature godly person with a palm tree that bears fruit into its hundredth year. “…They will flourish in the courts of our God; they will still yield fruit in old age; they shall be full of sap and very green….” (Psalm 92:12-15)

Arriving at our “fullness of years” is no excuse to become slack in active witness for our Lord. The Scriptures exhort us to be available to speak up for Him anytime, anywhere, “in season and out of season.” despite increasing limitations perhaps of strength, health, finances, or opportunity. To advance in age does not give us license to retreat because of age.

Youth and middle age have no monopoly on seeking new horizons. Let’s emulate seasoned Caleb in the Old Testament who, although well into his eighties, didn’t accept that he was “over the hill.” He asked God for another big hill (mountain) to possess. Let’s sprinkle seasoning on one another to encourage mountain climbing rather than slipping back down our already attained hills. God has equipped us with spiritual wings to lift us over our valleys of circumstances and limitations when they try to drag us down. Our advancing years can be the most creative and productive of our lives. Let’s expect our due season right around the next corner. “The best is yet to come” can become a reality instead of a pious platitude.

If we try to turn back the clock or get stuck in the rut of yesterday, we will miss the joy of passing on to the next generation the legacy of life’s richness in Christ. Let’s join the apostle Paul in declaring, ”My entire attention is on the finish line as I run toward the prize to which God calls me—life on high in Christ Jesus. All of us who are spiritually mature must have this attitude….It is important that we continue on our course no matter what stage [phase, season] we have reached.” (Philippians 3:14-16)

After all, we’re in the SENIOR CLASS with all its privileges and anticipations of what we're going to do after life's “Commencement” which some mistakenly call "The Finish Line"!


Sunday, February 13, 2011


For Word Processor Buffs who enjoy “slipping disks”

Exactly 20 years ago I published a small collection of 11 poems reflecting spiritual illustrations from the world of computers which I newly entered at that time. We had to slip a disk into the hardware to get started. How far technology has advanced since then!

When I was a child, we thought of “software” as lingerie and “hardware” as the wrenches and hammers my Dad bought at a building supply store in town. I began my book writing career pecking away on a manual typewriter, then advancing to the ultimate--an electric typewriter. I sweated with frustration to rewrite acceptable final draft manuscripts for publishers. I submitted the pages on erasable bond paper and made copies with carbon paper. I balked at the possibility that old dogs could learn new tricks, but I was finally persuaded by my four adult sons to take the computer plunge when I reached retirement age.

I spent the first few years on *Apple MacIntosh hardware and became affectionately attached to my “Mouse.” Soon I added an expanded keyboard and a laser printer. I was on my way! Then *Desk Top Publishing entered the picture. Shazzam! A whole new world was out there (in there). I was “processing words”! Now I don’t even blink when book publishers ask for my manuscript as an electronic submission.

Today’s young puppies learn to maneuver computers early in elementary school with the ease of riding skateboards. When I have a “how to” computer question, I ask a grandchild for whom it is a piece of cake! We older dogs have to keep learning new tech tricks or be forced to slink into some obscure corner and watch the world go by. We must run fast just to keep up since each new generation of computers and software seems outdated in a few months.

From the moment I stared at the magic of my display screen and tiptoed through the massive instruction manual, I was captivated by more than just the potential of word processing. As a Christian, I found the spiritual applications fascinating. During that early, fresh sense of wonder I wrote a collection of poems. They reflect terminology peculiar to *Apple users because I began by sitting under the Apple tree, although I didn’t stay there.

I will share occasional poems from this collection on my blog hoping to evoke common feelings and thoughts in computer user friends who know The God Who created not only the natural world, but Who presides over the exploding worlds of technology. The Designer of All Systems has permitted man to explore incredible things. To Him be the glory!

*Apple terminology is copyrighted.

In my poems I italicize computer terms.

I will enclose a copy of my booklet DIVINE APPLICATIONS as a bonus gift with any order for my books.


(Computer Terminology Reflections)

Lord, I'm available

to be Your Word processor.

You have committed to me

the privilege of communicating

Your ways to men

by displaying in print

the Word Who become flesh

to dwell among us.

May the words I process

quicken the hearts

of those who read

those who need Your living touch.

Help me to faithfully

process Your thoughts with clarity

and write Your Truth with charity

not obscuring its purity with my verbosity.

While I process Your Word

may I be cleansed by You

to become the open channel

of Your glory and grace

and not displace

Your preeminent message

with my own ideation.

I want to magnify Your WORDS

in shift lock CAPS

with 24 point type

boldface style, underscored

and keep my own byline

reduced to 9 point italics.


"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. . ."

John 1:14; Eph. 4:15; 5:26


Saturday, February 12, 2011


I have some dreams, Lord

leftover from early years

just hanging there in midair

whose strings I can't let go

some goals that I can't meet

plans I can't complete.

I wonder now—

were they even meant for fulfillment?

Perhaps some are my own foolish fantasies

hot air balloons of self

launched from the platform of my puny pride.

Is my chief distress

that they'll come hissing down

to my embarrassment

without accomplishment?

Then teach me relinquishment

to cut the strings

of those inappropriate dreams

and self-ambitious things

to let them go and not despair

to surrender them to Your sovereign care

and be content to leave them there.

Yet—if perchance the dreams are meant

by Your Divine intent

to come to reality

for Your glory and not mine

inspire me, enable me, my Lord

to pursue them relentlessly

if need be

all the way from here to Eternity!


Friday, February 11, 2011


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Am I a fully mature ewe (ram) or a wobbling lambkin?

In John 10:4 and 27 Jesus said that His sheep would know His voice and follow Him, and a stranger they would not follow. One Scripture scholar pointed out that the Greek word for sheep which Jesus used in this passage literally means “fully mature ewes.” The lambs don’t recognize the shepherd’s voice in the beginning because discernment takes time and must be learned by experience. The young lambs gradually develop an ear to distinguish the shepherd’s voice by paying attention to whose voice the mature sheep of the flock respond to.

More of my private prayer time should be spent listening to God, not in asking God to listen to me. But how do I know that what I think I’m “hearing” is really from God and not just my own thoughts or imaginations?

God can speak aloud if He wants to, but He usually doesn’t. At times in salvation history it would seem that He spoke aloud to the prophets and the leaders of His chosen people. One way God speaks today is through impressions. Christians need experience in recognizing the voice of God for personal guidance. In matters of morals and ethics and theology, however, it is not a matter of our private discernment or interpretation. God’s truth is not up for grabs at our every whim and desire. Jesus knew the capricious and vacillating heart and mind of man so before He ascended to His Father, He established the “pillar and foundation of truth” which would mandate that truth for ages to come.

Is that foundation the Bible? Not according to 1 Timothy 3:15. The New Testament canon was not formally defined and adopted until A.D. 350. The Church preceded the Bible in the form we know it today. “The Church of the living God” was to be the pillar and foundation of truth and a sure way of continuing to hear His voice on earth. As Catholic Christians, we don’t depend on guesswork or private interpretation or “everyone doing that which seemed right in his own sight” as they did in the times of the Judges in the Old Testament. Jesus gave the keys of His Kingdom to the apostle Peter and his successors. (Matthew 16:16-19)

The Magisterium, the teaching body of the Church composed of the Pope and the bishops, guards the New Testament revelation and passes it on faithfully through the generations. It cannot and does not invent anything new. Neither do we have to reinvent the wheel to keep up-to-date with our times to decide what is or is not God’s truth. Based squarely on the inspired Holy Scriptures and in line with Sacred Tradition, which is the oral teaching of the apostles on which early Christians relied before the canon of the New Testament was officially formed, we are on solid ground when we check our impressions. The greater our familiarity with the Scriptures and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the better our chance of discerning God’s voice from among other voices and interpretations of Scripture we may hear. God has provided us with ample and reliable “hearing aids”!

Granted, sometimes an impression could come from my human spirit or from the realms of evil and not from the Holy Spirit. I must always square the impression carefully with what God said in His Word and in His Church because God never contradicts Himself. As I bring the Scriptures into my prayer time and ask for the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, I learn to recognize the sound of God’s voice; my fear of mistaking His voice lessens. The degree of my surrender to the Lord and my sensitivity to the Holy Spirit are vital factors in my listening perception. The more I submit and commit myself to obey the Word and will of God, the more discernment in hearing God’s voice I will develop.

I’m at some disadvantage when I try to enter the spiritual world by prayer. I’m only one-third spirit, as it were, and I’m attempting to communicate with God who is all Spirit. I almost immediately meet resistance from my physical body which operates in the flesh and from my soul. My soul operates through my senses and emotions and is not comfortable in the spirit world; in the natural it resists entering the unknown realm of God’s presence where feelings are not the dominant medium. However, my spirit is alive and well! I am indwelt by the Holy Spirit by virtue of my baptism. Jesus emphasized many times, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” And that means us because we do now have spiritual ears to hear God’s spiritual voice.


Thursday, February 10, 2011



God, grant me the wisdom of mature years:

Help me circumvent the foolishness of aging.

When You see me playing in the spiritual shallows,

Lord, beckon me out of the wading pool into deep waters.

If I feel bogged down in meaningless routine,

turn the plain water of my daily life into “the best wine saved until last.”

When I tend to resist change and settle in my comfort zone,

grant me an open spirit and a growing, receptive mind.

If I’ve lost my get up and go,

show me how to “rise and take up my bed and walk.”

When my leaves are withered and dry,

revive me to be “full of sap and very green.”

When my fruit is scanty and sour,

show me how to “flourish like the palm tree”

If the embers of my first love for You are growing cold,

fan them into flame by Your Holy Spirit.

When the noise of my activity drowns out Your still small voice,

quiet me to wait on You in contemplative silence.

If the soil of my life is depleted and lies fallow,

break up the clods, supply fresh nutrients, and make straight my furrows.

When my prayers seem unanswered and my spirit is arid,

open the floodgates to let Your Rivers of Living Water flow again.

Where my life is out of balance and I lose my footing,

help me restore eternal priorities to keep from stumbling.

When my vision for Your Kingdom has grown dim,

touch my eyes to see again Your destiny for me.

If I’ve become slow of speech to declare Your message,

open my lips to boldly proclaim Your Good News.

If I have difficulty hearing Your voice clearly,

send Your Holy Spirit to be my hearing aid.

If my mind and memory begin to slip,

help me remember that You never leave me or forsake me.

When I’m weary from the length of life’s journey,

draw me close to Your bosom to find comfort and rest.

If I’m laboring to bear scarcely 30-fold fruit,

teach me to abide in You to effortlessly produce 100-fold.

Where good seed of Your Word still lies dormant as I advance in years,

send Your latter rain so I can bear an abundant late harvest.

When I am tired and lack motivation to press on,

restore iron to my soul, strength to my weak knees and limp arms.

When I drag my feet to do Your will,

energize me with the adrenalin of Your Holy Spirit.

When I’m short of breath from life’s fast pace,

inflate my lungs with Your Breath of Life.

If I grip material possessions too tightly,

teach me to hold loosely the things of this world.

If I open my mouth to speak foolish words,

show me how to put a watch on my lips.

When I’m afraid of the darkness around me,

take my hand to walk with You in Your Light.

When my emotions roller coaster out of control,

teach me to set my affection on things above not on things of earth.

When anxiety about the future threatens to overwhelm me,

remind me of Your great faithfulness in years past.

If my appetite becomes jaded by the world’s junk food,

give me Yourself as my Daily Bread in the Eucharist.

When I think I’ve reached the limit of my endurance,

help me persevere in Your strength to run the last mile Home.

When thoughts of my mortal end cause me fear,

remind me that You are preparing a place for me

in Your Father’s House.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011


“They who wait for the Lord (hope in the Lord) will gain new strength (will renew their strength); they will mount up with wings (sprout wings) like eagles (soar as with eagles wings), they will run and not get tired (not grow weary), they will walk and not become weary (walk and not grow faint).”

Isaiah 40:31 (Combined New American Standard Bible and The New American Bible, Saint Joseph Edition)

Below are some QUOTED INSIGHTS from my Bible research as I explored the above verse in various commentaries.

“[Shall renew their strength] The Hebrew word commonly means to change, to alter; and then to revive, to renew, to cause to flourish again, as, e.g., a tree that has decayed and fallen down (see Isa 9:10; and Job 14:7 – 9 Be sure to check out this excellent comparison!). Here it is evidently used in the sense of renewing, or causing to revive; to increase, and to restore that which is decayed. It means that the people of God who trust in him shall become strong in faith; able to contend with their spiritual foes, to gain the victory over their sins, and to discharge aright the duties, and to meet aright the trials of life. God gives them strength, if they seek him in the way of his appointment—a promise which has been verified in the experience of his people in every age [and at every season of human life].

“[They shall mount up with wings as eagles] One translation is 'They shall put forth fresh feathers like the moulting eagle;' and in the note on this passage, 'It has been a common and popular opinion that the eagle lives and retains his vigor to a great age; and that, beyond the common lot of other birds, he molts in his old age, and renews his feathers, and with them his youth.' He supposes that the passage in Ps. 103:5, 'So that thy youth is renewed like the eagles,' refers to this fact. This was a common and popular opinion among the ancient biblical writers. The opinion was, that at stated times the eagle plunged itself in the sea and cast off its old feathers, and that new feathers started forth, and that thus it lived often to the hundredth year. In accordance with this opinion, the Septuagint renders this passage, 'They shall put forth fresh feathers [pterofueesousin] like eagles.' Vulgate, Assument pennas sicut aquiloe.

“The literal meaning of the Hebrew is, 'they shall ascend on wings as eagles,' or 'they shall lift up the wings as eagles;' and the image is derived from the fact that the eagle rises on the strongest, most vigorous wings of any bird, and ascends apparently further toward the sun. The figure, therefore, denotes strength and vigor of purpose; strong and manly piety; an elevation above the world; communion with God, and a nearness to his throne—as the eagle ascends toward the sun.

“[They shall run and not be weary] This passage, also, is but another mode of expressing the same idea—that they who trust in God would be vigorous, elevated, unwearied; that he would sustain and uphold them; and that in his service they would never faint. This was at first designed to be applied to the Jews in captivity in Babylon to induce them to put their trust in God. But it is as true now as it was at that time. It has been found in the experience of thousands and tens of thousands, that by waiting on the Lord the heart has been invigorated; the faith has been confirmed; and the affections have been raised above the world. Strength has been given to bear trial without complaining, to engage in arduous duty without fainting, to pursue the perilous and toilsome journey of life without exhaustion, and to rise above the world in hope and peace on the bed of death.

(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1997 by Biblesoft)

Leona’s comment: Catholic teaching emphasizes the need for detachment from sin and negative lifestyle (molting our tired, worn, old feathers) and attachment to God’s eternal truths and a holy lifestyle (renewing our spiritual strength.) Many biblical passages affirm the need for this double-edged action: “Put off the old man, put on the new nature; put aside the works of darkness, walk in the light, etc.” Practical lists of the “put offs” and “put ons” (attachments and detachments) are given in Scripture, so we are not left in doubt of what God wants us to do.

In our advanced years, we have accumulated a great deal that needs to be put off by virtue of how long we have lived. We have a lot of molting to do! But the rewards are wonderful: Youth renewed! Soaring closer to God! New strength and vigor for the rest of the way in the toilsome journey of life!



I’m definitely not publicly prominent or politically important, but I am so thankful I have security guards assigned to me!

Have you watched a televised shot of the president of the United States when he goes out in public, especially in a crowded situation? It’s interesting to watch the security guards who are assigned to his safety—if you can spot them. They are usually dressed in plain clothes and blend into the surroundings, but their eyes behind special dark glasses continually dart back and forth on the alert to spot anything out of order or anyone who might pose a danger to the president.

As Christians, we are secure in the care and protection of God's angelic messengers sent to minister to His children—no matter how old His children are. The promise of Scripture is that God sends His angels "to guard me in all my ways" (Psalm 91:11). All my ways includes everything that concerns me, every detail, problem, and decision, every ache or pain or weakness or limitation or suffering I may be going through. As I acknowledge God "in all my ways" I can be certain that He will direct my paths. (Proverbs 3:6)

Those angelic security guards don't go off duty after they’ve put in their allotted hours; they are on duty 24/7. Nor do they take coffee breaks at some heavenly “Star”bucks, fall asleep on a soft cloud, or forsake us in our latter years. We are given to understand in Scripture that a guardian angel is assigned to little children, and there is nothing to indicate that it is not a lifetime job. There is no hint that they leave their assignment when we become old enough to take care of ourselves.

On the contrary, the time may come when we are too old to take care of ourselves. We need their services even more as our years increase because, in the natural, as we chronologically advance, we are in greater danger of stumbling, slipping, and falling physically or drifting spiritually or losing our emotional balance by being assaulted by adversity, pain or suffering. We need our security guards from the time we are toddlers to the time when we are totterers. They provide us with lifelong intensive care. What a comfort to know that we are surrounded by these ultimate caring, intelligent, supernatural beings sent directly from the Father's loving heart to shield us so intimately!

Most of the time they are invisible to us. But sometimes they appear as special people God sends to care for us in illness or accident—doctors, nurses, technicians, and Hospice helpers, with their knowledge and skill who attend to the needs of our mortal bodies. They also come to us in the form of our loved ones with their tender concern and encouragement. There are providential times when these heavenly beings actually take visible human form temporarily for God’s special purpose on our behalf. At the close of our earthly lives, God dispatches angelic transport companions assigned to accompany us on our final journey to The Father's House.

We don’t know how many miles we still have left to travel or how many hills we must climb before those Heavenly Gates open to receive us and our Welcome Celebration begins. "I go to prepare a place for you," said Jesus. The precise day and time we should arrive is filled in on God’s invitation card, but that is kept from us in a sealed envelope. We only know that our mortal lives are fragile, "our times are in His hands," and His time is always perfect.

Doubtless our security guards will be given a heads up so we don’t have to worry about R.S.V.P. We just need to be living in a state of grace and be ready to meet our Bridegroom with oil in our lamps.



I recently had a hearing test, a common part of our physical checkups in later years. I found the procedure quite high-tech. First the audiologist had to determine whether I had a wax buildup that would hinder my hearing. Then I was given a headset and situated before a monitor which registered on a curve my ability to receive speech without the distraction of peripheral noise. The technician pointed out two outlined boxes on the screen representing each ear. My hearing level was recorded as “in the box or outside the box.” In the box is within normal range. Many of my friends of similar age are already outside the box and wear hearing aids.

Spiritually, if I am distracted with the affairs and cares of this world, I can’t hear God distinctly. It takes quietness and contemplation to listen to God’s voice. Old sheep as well as young lambs need to have acute hearing to recognize and heed the voice of the Good Shepherd and avoid the growl of prowling wolves. “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me....” The Gospel of John chapter 10.

I was somewhat relieved that my hearing was still normal since my audio curve registered “in the box” for both ears, although the line curved downward. But the hearing specialist followed this test with a more sophisticated one in a sound proof booth with more fine-tuned electronics. I didn’t come out as successfully on that one—apparently I was audio challenged—that exam recorded that I have considerable hearing loss! I was missing many of the higher levels of speech in a normal conversation, and most of it if I found myself in a situation with peripheral noise.

Jesus concluded many of His teachings with “He who has ears to hear let him hear.” He must have been referring to more than having our physical ear appendages. We may have less than perfect spiritual audio reception and not even be aware of our deficiency. We may be hearing but not listening and subsequently not obeying. We may not discern certain commandments because our ears are plugged with the wax of many years of incomplete obedience and blocked with preconceived ideas, unspiritual habits, or selfish desires of the flesh. By His divine touch Jesus restored the hearing even of the deaf during His ministry on earth. I need His touch.

Lord, keep this aging sheep “in Your box” (in Your safe Sheepfold) and close to Your side so I can clearly hear Your instructions even when You whisper them in “a still, small voice.” I need Your Holy Spirit as my Hearing Aid even more as I grow older so I may hear Your words more distinctly. Filter from my ears the distractions of the world whose siren sounds seek to draw me outside Your Fold where I would become prey to the wiles of the evil one who prowls about seeking to devour me.


Monday, February 7, 2011


Yup, that’s what I would like to have my friends (and others) say about me. It is what the Potawatomi Indians called Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne. It translates as “Woman-who-prays-always.”

Saint Rose was born in France in 1769 and as an adult entered the Visitation Order in the midst of the French Revolution. Because of the turmoil and warfare the sisters were expelled from their convents, and she spent many years caring for the sick and poor, helping fugitive priests, visiting prisons, and teaching children. All the while she prayed for the day she might go abroad as a missionary, although time passed and it did not seem possible.

While serving in the Sacred Heart Order after the Revolution, God honored her patience and trust in His timing and granted her desire. At the age of 50 she enthusiastically answered the bishop’s call for nuns to go to the United States as missionaries. From Louisiana she was sent to Florissant, Missouri where she opened a school, then built a convent, an orphanage, a parish school, a school for Indians, a boarding academy, and a novitiate for her order.

Saint Rose duplicated many of those works in St. Louis, and at the age of 72 founded a mission school for Indian girls in Kansas where she spent much of her time nursing the sick until her death at 83. Her energy and ideas were prodigious in spite of encountering all the hardships of pioneer work. She was rightly called the “missionary of the American frontier” and was canonized in 1988 by Pope John Paul II.

Although her works were many, Saint Rose was best known for praying for those whom she served. Her works may have disappeared in the passing of generations, but her intercession for the people is even now bearing eternal fruit. I too want be make myself available as a “Quah-kah-ka-num-ad.” When my friends, my family, even virtual strangers, or those with little Christian background ask me to pray for them, as they often do, I want to be “instant in prayer, in season and out of season.” To pray is such a great privilege!

Many people contact me by e-mail. May I make full use of instant communication and respond by praying immediately and at times when appropriate writing my prayer in reply. I try to avoid saying “I will pray for you” but do so on the spot. I believe that Saint Paul would have used e-mail and the various other media we have today to pray and to preach and to teach.

I am confident that my prayer thus sent off into cyberspace is simultaneously transmitted by Angelic Messenger Service in less than a nanosecond to Our Father Who is in Heaven. On the way my prayer passes through His Son, Jesus Christ, the One Mediator between God and man. It is sped on its way by the “groanings which cannot be uttered” by the Holy Spirit Who knows the mind of God and His will. He edits my prayers however necessary to make them conformable to the perfect plan of God. Scripture assures me of that. (1 Timothy 2:5; Romans 8:26-28)

Saint Rose didn’t have recourse to the modern means that I have at my disposal, but I believe her prayers reached the Throne of God in the very same way as quickly and efficaciously as mine do. Prayers are everlasting. Once released to God, Who is The Eternal Now, they don’t diminish, or lose strength, or go astray, become obsolete, or end up in some heavenly wastebasket even with the passing of generations. Our eternal God always answers all prayers although not necessarily in the way we may expect. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for Your editorial blue pencil to make my prayers good and acceptable and perfect before they reach God!