Let’s Start an Intention Avalanche!

In her book “Come Be My Light”, Mother Teresa shocked the world with the revelation of her deep interior darkness.  During this time, God used her radiant smile to shine one of the brightest lights of modern times on countless people all over the world.  This is what came into my mind today when a positive and faith filled friend sent out a message this morning which gave me pause.  I want to share part of it with you.

Everyone will go through some hard times at some point.  Life isn’t easy.  Just something to think about…Did you know the people that are the strongest are usually the most sensitive? Did you know the people who exhibit the most kindness are the first to get mistreated? Did you know the ones who take care of others all the time are usually the ones who need it the most? Sometimes just because a person looks happy, you have to look past their smile and see how much pain they may be in. To all my friends who are going through some issues right now–Let’s start an intention avalanche.

The sentiment expressed here is a bit sad but truly lovely at the same time.  I read it as a call to pray for all of those around us, especially those who smile at us radiantly.  Every person—family member, neighbor, colleague– in our path was put there by our all-knowing and loving God.  We have to care enough to pray for them, love them, even though they may not ask.

The note above was sent by a sparkly and positive person– a mom– that I regularly encounter.  I am ashamed to say that I cannot recall having before offered a single prayer for her.  You see, she seems to be doing just great, and she never asked.  That’s not okay.  A friend shouldn’t have to look miserable or advertise their illness or struggle in order to be “prayer worthy”.

“Love one another deeply, from the heart.”  –1 Peter 1:22

Admittedly, I get a fair number of prayer requests.  I consider this a great honor and privilege, and I also think it’s just the influence of my big personality.  I make  “friends” with bank tellers and bag boys and small talk with coaches and kindergarteners.  Just yesterday, for example,  I found myself searching for prune juice at O’Malias with a cute old guy who was a bit turned around and couldn’t find the juice aisle.  I thought I knew where everything was at that store, in fact, until tested on the prune juice.  But, my new bff, Stanley, and I did find it! The “never met a stranger” gene is a gift inherited from my Dad.  Is this a blessing, or a curse?  Ha?!

This kind of giftedness, however, should not be mistaken with the kind of faithful friendship that is possible when we open our lives and hearts up to others.  We have to be willing to take the risk of vulnerability when we lay out the welcome mat to our hearts.  This is why I work hard to honor all the prayer requests, even if it means that I offer a single “Glory Be” on my busiest days for a particular intention.  Someone has usually risked revealing fear or genuine interior desire when they ask for prayer, after all.

However, today’s message made me realize, that’s not going to cut it.

“Blessed are they who have the gift of making friends, for it is one of God’s best gifts.  It involves many things, but above all, the power of getting out of one’s self and appreciating whatever is noble and loving in another.”   — Thomas Hughes

When we look up from our own lives to notice those around us, we have the opportunity to multiply joy or divide grief.  We have to understand silence sometimes speaks loudly too.

It used to be when I heard about this idea of “prayer without ceasing” that I pictured pious little nuns with bloody knees.  It didn’t make the idea of being near God all day long sound like anything but a crummy idea.

Here’s what I think about prayer now.  Prayer is speaking to God in the quiet of our hearts, but it is also sneaking in the back door to do the dishes of the neighbor who hasn’t asked but needs the help.  It’s keeping your girlfriend’s kiddo, it’s sending a birthday card, a sunny text message to a teenager, making a breakfast date, or popping in to grab a hug.  These things take time, it’s true.  That too is a prayer though, and it honors God in a way that is possible for minivan moms like me.

“Whoever refreshes others will himself be refreshed.”  –-Prov 11:25

Today, to thank God for the special people in my life, I am going to pray by action.  I choose my sparkly friend who today selected a unique way to say “help me.”  I am honoring her by letting her know how I see Jesus through her, that I am thinking about her, and that I am thankful for the friendship.  I hope she will feel Jesus hugging her with my hands.

“There are so many hurts that circumstances and the world inflict upon us, we need the constant reinforcement of encouragement.”  –Billy Graham

To all reading this today:  Know that you are loved.  Don’t ever forget that Love came all the way down here to earth to help us in our helplessness.

Now, pass it on!  Get busy!

Forgive Me, Father, for the Crappy Attitude

All Saint’s Day and Halloween were on a collision course this year here in Carmel.  I don’t ever recall a government entity before changing the date of a holiday because of rain.  I remember loathing the whole “when I was a kid, we used to walk 3 miles uphill both ways…” line of chatter that seemed to emanate from some members of my extended family.  They always seemed to think that we “young people” were “soft”.

I have to say, I am old enough to finally understand where they were coming from.  My thought process a couple weeks ago was that Halloween belongs in October and the kids need to “man up!”

Therefore, it will be of zero surprise that I decided we would NOT postpone Halloween and we just marched forward with our annual party.  The house was filled with the laughter of 21 kids and many of their parents.  Captain America, Jake from State Farm, a “Cereal” Killer, Cliff Paul, a Taco, a Tennessee Volunteer, an Artist, a Mouse, a Cowboy and several other children ages 9-16 took to the streets in the rain in search of giggles and some chocolate!

Returning to the house soaking wet and with precious little “loot”, their spirits were high nevertheless.  We dug through drawers and passed out dry t-shirts from my sons’ closets and the kids ate chicken and noodles and downed the candy that I had purchased for neighborhood trick-or-treaters who stayed home this year.  Some played X-box, some sat around the table and laughed, some played foosball………and they all laughed at each other’s rain soaked Halloween hair.

All I could think was about how blessed we all are to be surrounded by the smiles of happy, healthy children—and that of all the Halloweens, it’s this uber- wet 2013 that they’ll all surely remember.

“See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called children of God.  Yet so we are.” (1Jn 3:1)

The next morning at All Saint’s Day mass, I heard this bit of scripture in the second reading.  It struck a chord.   Actually, it kind of stung me.


God is so good to me.  I would have to bet He is getting a little bugged by my lack of a grateful heart in return.  He pours on blessing after blessing, and I shrug them off, take them for granted and grumble back at Him like my son does when I ask him to take out the trash.

He gave me amazing parents, 3 healthy thoughtful boys, a cute, funny husband, a wonderful city to live in, a parish full of compassionate people, terrific schools for the education of my children, 2 gorgeous Goddaughters, a fav sis, sunsets…mad air hockey skills….and on and on.

So, why is it that I so often fail to gracefully carry the small crosses of everyday life?

The rude neighbor, the pounding headache, the coach who doesn’t seem to appreciate the “awesomeness” of my child, the little boy who prefers not to bathe—I am not gracious interiorly on these matters.  Even my most patient moment is far from what I would deem “Mary-like”.

“Everybody’s got a little larceny operating in them, surely you know that?”  –Bing Crosby

Sidebar:  If you know the movie this quote comes from, then you are eligible for an automatic upgrade to first class in my book.  Bing’s made a good point though, hasn’t he?

Allow me to digress and provide a just one specific example representative of the greater series of failures that has been on my heart lately.

Several days ago, my youngest came home after practice a bit overwhelmed.  He was tired and hungry and his teacher was clearly out of control.   It seems he announced there would be a big test THE NEXT DAY!  Ugh!  My sad, freckled faced boy was frustrated and exhausted.

“How long have you had this 4 page study guide, hon?”

“Today, Mom.  We just found out today.”

“Are you sure?  You didn’t have any more notice?  1 day?”

“Uh huh.”

Well, I was irked.  You see, my little man is not quite there yet when it comes to independent study.  This 8pm development also occurred just moments before the Colts were going to take over my large family room TV.  I was already in my jams, ready to watch Andrew Luck get it done on Monday Night Football.  NOW, I was in the study helping my third grader understand wavelength and amplitude.

THEN, it hit me.

I  texted my friend whose son is in Zach’s class.

“How long has Anth had the science study guide?”

The quick reply was “He brought it home Friday, why?”

AHA!!!!  The irritable feeling I was having towards my son’s science teacher was irrevocably transferred to the little criminal I am raising.

Suffice it to say I had an ugly temper tantrum and followed it up with an inappropriately loud homily about honesty.

Sadly, this one might be my holiest child.  He’s the one who asks me to read to him about the saints, and who says things like “Jesus likes it when we come to mass.”  I couldn’t seem to recall that while I was missing the Colts game to try and pass 3rd grade science….AGAIN.

But Bing was right.  There’s a little larceny operating in all of us.   This poor kid clearly inherited an extra dose of it from his maternal side of the family.

Still, a grateful, grace-filled mother would certainly have handled this situation with more patient affection than I did.  I believe it may even be possible to sincerely and lovingly teach the lesson on honesty to the little criminal (ha?), or endure the headache without grumbling, speak well of the coach who cut your kid from the team, or smile at the difficult neighbor who dislikes your every move– for the love of Christ who loves us tenderly– even though we might be filled with piles of imperfections and a healthy dose of larceny ourselves.

I am screwing it up.  God just loves me up.  I give him back attitude.  Real mature huh?  I am not proud of myself.

So I went to confession this week.  I told my confessor that I have a crappy attitude.  I told him how blessed my life is and how I just interiorly feel bugged and exhausted every time God asks me to bear a little tiny cross.  I might outwardly even be sunny, but inside I have an ungrateful heart.  He smiled and he let me exhale—at considerable length.  The guy is going to heaven.  Then, he absolved me.  He reminded me how I profess to enjoy St. Therese—whose life literally is a book on this exact subject of bearing our little crosses in love.  He told me to get over myself, carry my crosses, and go to the chapel and say a prayer of gratitude.

Geez I love that sacrament.  I went to that chapel and I did my penance.  There, I read this:

“Brothers and sisters:  we, though many, are one Body in Christ and individually parts of one another.  Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us exercise them; if prophecy, in proportion to the faith; if ministry, in ministering; if one is a teacher, in teaching; if one exhorts, in exhortation; if one contributes, in generosity; if one is over others; with diligence; if one does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness.

Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold onto what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor.  Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord, Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, and persevere in prayer.  Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.”  (Romans 12: 6-15)

Okay, God.  I hear your marching orders.  Thanks for giving me a do-over…..AGAIN.