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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Jesus is the Light that never goes out!


Darkness...the darkness of sin enveloped the earth when Adam and Eve disobeyed God. Yet, even on that dark day, as God expelled them from the Garden of Eden and banished them to a life of blood, sweat and tears, He had a plan for salvation. Later He would make His people a promise...a promise of salvation...He gave them Hope!

Darkness...David descended into darkness when he sinned against God, but God's love prevailed. David repented and God also made him a promise...that His covenant with him would remain forever. 2 Samuel 7:12-16 "When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house in my name and I will establish his kingdom forever...your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me, your throne will be established forever."

Jeremiah 33:15"In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David's line; he will do what is just and right in the land".  Another gift of Hope!

Darkness...it descends upon me too...whenever I choose to let my sinful nature prevail, when I feel trapped in the burdensome net of worry and doubt and fear, when I feel myself descending into despair or depression. Does it also descend upon you at times?

This week we started our beautiful Advent Study, but my heart was descending into that pit of darkness. My youngest daughter has been ill and at home. She is on medication that is adding hyper-activeness to her already active disposition. My heart was desperate for peace and instead I was thrown into a noise-fest. I tried to play my music, but had to turn it off because it was just adding to the noise level and my battered nerves could not endure any more. Closing around me in its death grip was anxiety about an upcoming bake sale my daughter and I are about to do for the first time this weekend(I'm desperately off schedule at this point and close to panic) a car that would not start and worry about our finances, to name a few!

Oh, but our God is so faithful...He continues to minister and teach lessons even in the darkness we occasionally find ourselves in.  This morning I lit my candle....and it went out. This regularly happens to me because I ought to take it down from its stand first so the air does not have a chance to blow the candle out before it gets into its chamber. As I lit it again, the proper way, and hung it back on its stand, my heart filled with tears as I felt the peace invade my soul and the truth that shouted loud and clear:

Jesus is the Light that never goes out!

No matter how dark things may seem at times...there is always Hope! Jesus is that Hope! He is that Light, that beacon, that guides me back to safety, to truth and to joy. It is to Him I must go to be refueled and refreshed. It is to Him I must go to be reminded that if I keep my eyes on the Light, I will see through the darkness that's threatening to blind me and disable me. I don't need to stumble through the darkness, lost and afraid and overwhelmed...neither do you!

Here is a little piece of the prayer altar that is in my bedroom.  There is my little light, a blessed tea light...small but it burns its way into my heart. Do you see that rose beneath the candle? There is a little story about that rose. It was blessed about a year and half ago on the feast day of Our Lady of Lourdes. For my non-Catholic friends, you can click on the link to learn more if you like. When Father blessed these roses, he told us to take them to those who were sick and pray with them. I had three roses, one for my mother and mother in law and one for my family.  

Last year, my husband gave me roses for my birthday. Within a few days, their petals began to fall and soon I was left with only the stalks. This rose, on the other hand, remains intact...not one petal has fallen off, despite the fact that my air condition unit blows directly onto this altar. Why hasn't it fallen apart too? I can only believe that this is another little thing that God does to keep giving me Hope. Hope so I can continue to trust in Him, so I can continue to have faith in Him.

Dear Friends...if any of you are stumbling in the darkness, do not despair. Jesus is the Light that never goes out and I want to be mesmerized by Him. I want to be drawn in, like a moth to the flame. I want the Hope that He gives to me for a better tomorrow to light up my dark little world. This I pray for you as well.

God's blessings to you and yours...may His Light shine brightly upon the darkness! 

Friday, November 23, 2012

Advent starts next week...come take a peek at what I'm doing to prepare.

Hello everyone. I hope all of my American friends had a wonderful, blessed Thanksgiving this year. I know you are all now free to focus on Christmas. I can't believe how quickly the year has flown and, almost before we know it Advent is almost upon us! How are you preparing your heart and home for Jesus?

As I write this, I have a calendar and checklist of things to complete before we travel to Florida next month for my daughter's graduation. What needs cleaning, painting and washing...but that's just preparing my home.
What of my heart?

Well, I want to share with you a few ways that I am trying to get my heart ready for Jesus too. First of all I am participating in Courtney's (of Women Living Well) Making Our Home a Haven Challenge. Everyday we have to light a candle and pray for peace in our homes. As the weeks go by, Courtney adds on other tasks, such as playing soft music (personally I like to rock the house with praise and worship...it helps me to keep the energy up you know!)

I am also going to be doing the Advent study with the Good Morning Girls...so much inspiration and encouragement there! As part of our study we have activities to do each week with our families, as well as our personal meditations. I am so excited to begin this! The study starts on Monday and I want to encourage you, if you haven't before, please join in. I promise you will be blessed. Just click on the image to download the e-book. You must subscribe to Good Morning Girls first.

One of the activities we will be doing, in the second week, is to have a Jesus Jar. I totally fell in love with this idea! Thank you to Jen from Good Morning Girls...who I believe is the author of this idea. As most of you know, I am a Catholic and I love Eucharistic Adoration. Each Christmas, the worshippers at the chapel I attend create a bouquet of visits to Jesus as a Christmas present.

Well, here's another way to give Jesus a present. Inside the Jesus Jar you will place random acts of kindness to others or various methods of charity and each day you and your family pull out one of the pieces of paper and do that act for the day. I am choosing to do this all Advent long...not just for the second week of the study because it is such an inspiring   idea! The only thing different that I am doing is that I have two jars! In the second one will be placed all the things my family has given up or done for Jesus. On Christmas Eve, when my family gathers in the living room to pray and read the Christmas Story, we will present Jesus our little bouquet of offerings as a present for His birthday!

I began a new tradition with my youngest last year, courtesy the inspiration of another fellow blogger. Thank you Nicole from Just Like Mary.  I wrap Christmas-themed books (I try to keep them mostly about Jesus, but there are a couple more thrown in there) in purple and pink tissue to match the colours of the Advent candles...1st, 2nd and 4th weeks are purple and the 3rd pink. Each night, during Advent my youngest daughter, Lillie, and I will unwrap a book to read. Last year she was so excited by this because, not only does she love to read. just like her mama, but it was like opening a present every night!

I've never made a Jesse Tree before, but I'd like to see if I could this year. Of course, I may be biting off more than I can chew with all of the other things going on, but the beautiful symbolism of the tree is one that appeals to me quite a lot.  Nicole had a lovely idea for hers last year , one which I think is very doable so I'm going to give it a try, enlisting the help of my third born who does Art.

Lillie also has to make a creche as a project for school this year. She had this same project last year and I chose to make it very simply so that she could do some of the work herself. I printed out pictures of all the key people and animals in the Nativity scene and she coloured them, then we stuck them in to a shoebox, which represented the cave/stable.

This year, they want the creche to be all 3-D. This is going to be a bit more challenging. We'll be working on it together this weekend and she is very excited...especially since her creche goes on display next to our Christmas tree.

Here's our Advent Calendar. You can't see them but the middle scene has little windows which Lillie can't wait to start opening to count down the days to Christmas Eve. That is when we'll unwrap the figurine of Jesus in all our Nativity Scenes and remember what a wonderful night it was over 2000 years ago, when God fulfilled His promise of salvation.

All of these things help to keep our hearts focused on the true reason for Christmas. I am so proud that my six year old daughter knows that it is not about the presents and the Christmas tree and Santa Claus. Don't get me wrong...she was super excited when we pulled out the decorations and went through each box, pulling out things exclaiming over each one. but I know that her heart is in the right place this Season. It helps that she is going to a school that encourages prayer and singing hymns.

 Tomorrow, we attend her school's Christmas concert and she has been entertaining us for the last couple of weeks with all the carols (and accompanying choreography!) that she's been learning.  Its been a joy to watch (except when she starts singing at 6:00am and the rest of the household are still trying to shake the sleep off!) That girl loves to sing!

I hope that you have been encouraged by reading about our own little preparations. I pray for all of you who read this blog...that God will bless your families and your homes and hearts as you prepare them for the celebration of His coming into the world...our Light and Salvation.

Friday, November 16, 2012

More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About Me - The Leibster Award

Hello, sweet friends!

I have been nominated by Nicole at Seven Flowers for the Leibster Award which is for the smaller blogs, like mine, to help us to grow a bit.

Here are the rules:
  • Post 11 things about yourself.
  • Answer the questions posted by the person who nominated you.
  • Create 11 questions you want your nominees to answer.
  • Pass this award to a maximum of 11 blogs.
  • Let them know that you've given them the award.
So, here we go...

11 Things About Me

 1. I have always loved books and have fond memories of working as a Library Rep in my school and later in the library at my children's school. I love the smell of a new book and old leather covers (okay I'm weird, but if you're a book lover yourself you know what I mean!)

2. I wrote stories and poetry from my childhood and throughout my teens. I also wrote sappy poems to my hubby in our early marriage. I guess blogging is now my creative outlet.

3. As you will see by #1, my favourite thing to do is curl up with a good book...watching movies with my family is a close second. Well, snuggling with hubby supercedes them both ;)

4. I was a tomboy growing up and climbed trees, scaled walls and tried to keep up with my boy cousins every vacation we spent at my grandmother's. ( I refused to slingshot lizards though...a girl has to make a stand sometimes!)

5. As #3 might imply...I have never been a fashion plate. I prefer to wear what I feel comfortable in. That is not to say I don't like dressing up, but I'm drawn to classic style and not what's in. (I was probably labeled odd as a teenager by people who weren't my friends...who were odd too!) Jeans and a top is my uniform of choice.

6. When I was young I loved animals (more than I do now) and dreamed of living on a farm in some place like the English countryside or Scotland or Ireland. (Those books I read left a great impression on me!)

7. I always wanted to be a SAHM (I believe a psychologist may say this was because my own mother worked)...this desire was made absolute after I watched the movie "Baby Boom" with Diane Keaton in my late teens...does anyone else remember this one? I embraced the idea of making my own fresh foods, preserves and jams from my own garden and baking up a storm in the kitchen. Well...the reality is not what I thought it would be...but I did get my wish come true!

8.  I really DO love cooking and baking up a storm in the kitchen.

9. I am a serious recipe hoarder.

10. I love the simple things in life...I'm a country girl at heart.

11. The thing I'm looking forward to the most right now is going to Florida to see my eldest graduate from college. Woo Hoo!! I'm so proud...can you tell?

Questions asked by Nicole:

1. If you could have 3 "Do Over's " in life, what would you do over and why?

Firstly, this is a hard question. I've made a conscious decision not to look back at my mistakes of the past because I would find myself grieving at the outcome. However, my first do-over would be to put God first in all things. I think that would have made a huge difference in many of my choices early on. Next would be a different approach to my marriage. I honestly wish I'd had the benefit of the wisdom of older women, other Christian women. I had a lot to learn and I learned it the hard way. Now, I am dedicated to being a Titus 2 woman to my own girls and to whomever God leads me. The next thing I'd do differently would be to purge myself of all the negative childhood influences that shaped me and affected my own motherhood and other relationships.

2. If you could have 3 wishes, what would they be?

I would wish for the ability to really be who God calls me to be...to get past, once and for all, all the little insecurities and fears that hold me in bondage. I would wish for the resources to be a blessing to others more than I am right now. I would wish for my girls to have a clear vision of what God wants for them as they are all at crossroads in their lives where career choices are to be made. (all except the 6 year old that is) for her I would wish that she could just enjoy her childhood with innocence and purity...so easily robbed in this world today.

3. What is the first thing you would do if elected President of the USA?

Oooh...that's a toughie! Especially since I am not an American national and not particularly knowledgeable of American politics. I will say though, as a Christian, I would do whatever was necessary to bring people's hearts back to God and make an intentional effort to bring the nation back to its founding principles, where laws were built upon God's laws and the motto "In God we trust" was actually lived out.

4. If you had an all expenses paid vacation, where would you go?

Hmmm....I'm a Caribbean girl and so I would love to see some of the temperate seasons. I would love to experience a part of winter, (not so sure I could take the cold for long) just so I can actually see and play in the snow....though I love the look of fall. I know that doesn't really answer the question and  I have to say that nothing beats the idyllic ambience of a beach in the early morning or late afternoon and I can get that close to home ;-)

5. What was your first babysitting experience like?

When I was growing up babysitting wasn't very prevalent where I live...it still isn't actually. Folks around here mostly ask grandparents or aunts and uncles to babysit.  I guess I'd have to say when I took my husband's two year old nephew along with us for the ride as we did some shopping for our wedding one Saturday. I remember holding his sleeping body and being at once thrilled and nervous.

6. Did you have your wedding all planned out as a young girl?

Actually, I didn't.  I didn't start fantasizing about marriage until my late teens and even then I didn't really think about what I wanted...except that I wanted roses for my bouquet and my favourite colour blue.

7. How old were you when you went on your first date?

Pretty old by modern standards...17 when I went to the movies with my friend and her older brother (that romance was nipped in the bud by my father) and 18 when I went on my first official date.

8. Any siblings? Are they local? Do you get along?

I have two sisters and we live about 12 miles from each other.  It pains me to say that sibling rivalry can continue on into your 40's  :)

9. Do you get along with your Mom, your MIL?

My MIL passed away earlier this year. We took a few years to come to an understanding of each other...my husband's upbringing and mine were so different. We did become close later on and she came to support me even more than she did her son, my own husband (that one could get me in trouble!)  My mother and I do not share the kind of relationship that I have with my daughters, but we don't bicker and fight either.

10. Do you get along with your Father, your FIL?

My father passed away thirteen years ago. We had a rocky relationship and it is one of my regrets that I didn't do more to overcome his reserve but as the saying goes 'the apple doesn't fall far from the tree'. My FIL is very quiet and doesn't talk very much....after 22 years of marriage I still don't know alot about him, except what my MIL has shared.

11. How old were you when you first born again? Who led you to Christ?

Well, I'm a cradle Catholic so God was always a part of my life. I came to a deeper relationship with Jesus, though, when I was anointed in the Spirit after I did a Life in the Spirit seminar when I was 25. I will always be grateful to my sister, who encouraged me to do this with her. I guess that is the moment I was 'born again' into a life in the spirit.

My Questions to the Nominees:

 1. Why do you blog?

 2. What do you think is the best thing about blogging?

 3. What are you most passionate about?

 4. Do you have any dreams you would still like to pursue?

 5. What is your favourite childhood memory?

 6. What did you want to be when you grew up?

 7. What do you do when you need to re-energize?

 8. What is your absolute favourite thing to do?

 9. Do you have any pet peeves?

10. Were there Titus 2 women in your life to inspire and guide you?

11. What do you consider to be necessary to you for a happy life?

The blogs that I have chosen to nominate are:

Keri @ http://www.growinginhisglory.com
Laura @ http://www.wedoersoftheword.blogspot.com
Jean @ http://www.healthyspirituality.org
Marissa @ http://www.forfunreadinglist.blogspot.com
Kelly @ http://www.imperfecthomemaking.com
Beth @ http://www.footprintsinthemudblog.blogspot.com
Nicole @ http://www.justlikemary.blogspot.com
Joy @ http://www.adventurousbeginnings.blogspot.com
April @ http://www.countrymomto4.blogspot.com
Donna @ http://www.simplethingssweetlife.blogspot.com
Beth @ http://www.messymarriage.com

I wish all you ladies prosperity in growing your blogs...I am always blessed when I visit you. A great big thanks to Nicole for nominating me!

God bless you all and your families!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

What If You Truly Believed?

I met an old friend in the supermarket recently. I had not seen her in ages, though we were very close at one time. In the course of the conversation she said to me “You know I’m Anglican.” I actually had not known that. I had seen her at Mass a couple of times with her son and his family. During our friendship, which began when we worked together, we had never discussed religion, faith yes, but  not religion.

She continued “I have a question for you. Do you think it’s wrong for me to receive Communion?”  I was blown away by this question and struggled to answer. I know that our faith is particularly strict with regard to the reception of the Body and Blood of Christ. A person receiving Him must have been baptized and instructed in the Catholic faith and received the rite of First Holy Communion.

This is my friend…I want to encourage her, not beat her on the head with all the rules and regulations. I did not know how to answer. She then said “I truly believe that I am receiving the Body of Christ.” My heart soared upon hearing this. Is this not what the faith really is? I wonder how many Catholics truly believe this. Though she followed up with the statement that she felt no need to convert to the Catholic faith, I gave her the name of a priest to talk to and prayed that she would be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.

This made me contemplate more deeply the question I had been turning over in my mind for a long time. Do we Catholics really believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist?

Chaliceand Eucharist

Several years ago, I had a conversation with a close family member in which she stated that she would not receive the Blood of Jesus because of the number of mouths that touch the chalice and the inevitable saliva which may find its way in it. I responded that if she truly believed that she was receiving the Blood of Jesus, which is meant to heal and sanctify, how could it do her any harm. Catholics...do you really believe that Jesus is present in the Holy Eucharist? Do you believe that He is present in the tabernacle?

If you truly believed, would you:

Dress better?
Be more attentive?
Be more reverent and respectful?

I remember as a child hearing the story of a non-Catholic woman who declared that if she could truly believe that Jesus was present at a Catholic mass, she would walk on her knees to receive Him. That has always impressed me!

I truly regret that the Church has no longer considers it mandatory to receive Jesus on our knees and on our tongues. I feel there is so much irreverence in how people receive Holy Communion. It hurts me to see so many saunter away after receiving Our Lord, staring all around and chewing irreverently. How must Our Lord be offended!

Recently I have noticed some converts from the Hindu and Muslim faith. They are easily recognizable. They remove their shoes upon entering the church and I am reminded of Moses on Mount Horeb. Exodus 3:5 “Come  no nearer. Remove your sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.” 

Moses on Mount Horeb

They also bow several times and kneel to receive Jesus, regardless of the stares they receive from others. It makes me think, would I have the courage to place my love and worship of God before the opinion of others? I do admire their faith, courage and zeal. To them the Church is a holy place and they are before God, therefore they pay Him homage.

Would that all people would so give to God his due!

What makes a Catholic Church, to a Catholic, more than just another building?  It is the belief that there, in the tabernacle, resides Our Saviour. It is why we make the Sign of the Cross outside of our churches, why we genuflect upon entering and leaving. It is why we kneel at once upon entering our pews. We are acknowledging and worshipping the presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.

I have, many times before, stated my absolute belief in the real presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist. I have received both emotional and physical healing just by being in His Presence in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. When I receive His Body and Blood I believe that it heals, sanctifies and nourishes me with the graces which I need to grow spiritually.  This is the basis of the Catholic faith…it is what defines us.

Monstrance used to house the Eucharist for adoration

Do we really believe?
Can you imagine sitting under a tree at the feet of Our Saviour, pouring out your broken heart and receiving His embrace and consolation? Can you picture yourself  walking with Him in a garden, conversing with Him, receiving the benefit of His wisdom and counsel. Do you see yourself, kneeling in worship before Him at the foot of His Throne? What about sitting under His Cross, where He pours out His Life for you, crying tears of bitter remorse in reparation for the offenses by which He is so wounded?  When I visit the Blessed Sacrament, I close my eyes and I am in any of these places because I sit or kneel in His real presence.

It is said, that each person who visits Our Lord receives His Kiss. He stays in the tabernacle longing for us to visit, longing to pour out upon us His Love and Graces.

If you are a Catholic…do not delay. Such riches await those who would spend time with Him. Remember His words to the disciples in the garden in Mark 14:37 “…could you not watch for one hour?”

My question for you…Catholics and non-Catholics…

What if you truly believed?

Linking today with: 

Beautiful Thursdays 
Found the Marbles
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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Count Your Blessings..really count them!


Though we do not celebrate Thanksgiving in my country, I will certainly be celebrating it with my American friends in my heart. After all, who could deny the opportunity to give thanks to our Creator, our Saviour, our Paraclete?

Thanksgiving is something that is so essential to maintain joy in our hearts. If we look around us there is always something to be grateful to God for. 

Today I want to share with you the awesome ways in which God has shown His love and faithfulness to me and my family...so that you can believe how awesome His love is..for YOU and for YOUR FAMILY as well!

I also want to stress our belief in the words of scripture:   Luke 6:39 "Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured  to you"  NIV 

To put it rather bluntly, money has been very tight in my household. We have been plagued with many things to drain our finances in the last few months. Last month alone, we had car trouble and illness in the family. We are also trying to save money for our trip to Florida in December for my daughter' s graduation. So far, everything we managed to save was drained. Depressing? Yes, but God has been faithful and we continued to get a few little orders for cupcakes and cakes so, even if we weren't saving, we were also not using as much credit.

Last Sunday, I sat in church and listened to a member of my husband's prayer group asking for support for a fund-raising concert they were holding at the church that evening. Burning a hole in my purse was the cost of one ticket...$100 we had managed to save from some cookies we'd sold the previous week.  I felt strongly in my heart that I needed to  purchase a ticket and give support to the worthy cause of assisting those in our community who are in desperate need. I listened to this lady say "Brothers and sisters we never know when we may be in a similar situation" and my heart grew full. "But for the grace of God go I!"

I whipped out my $100 bill and gave it to my husband to go and buy a ticket. He came back with this envelope in his hand and a strange look on his face. The envelope contained $200 that a prayer group in another part of the country had donated to him for giving a talk on their behalf. Oh glory be to God!  He went back and bought another ticket.  I was blown away that in the very instant that I decided to give up my $100, we got back $200!

On to another story:
Previously, on the Friday, my car had been stuttering as if it would shut down. My husband had been out of the country and I anxiously made the two trips into town to collect my children, coaxing it along in the traffic. On Monday my husband followed me to the mechanic's house and we left the car there for him to check on it. When he called to say that it was ready, I asked him how much I owed him and his reply was...nothing! Oh Praise God!!!  I'd been juggling around the budget, trying to figure out how to pay for the repairs and he didn't charge me for his time, even though he had gone through the car and found a hose that had become detached and checked for an oil leak too! 
Cost to fix my car : 0$

The following day, I was sitting in the car outside my daughter's school, waiting to pick her up. I had just counted out $50 in cash which was to be my next fill up at the gas station. I was reading my bible study and someone knocked on the glass. There was this lady selling some chocolates, 4 for $10. She looked as if she didn't expect me to buy any...she must have been rejected a lot.  My heart was moved to pity...she had resorted to walking the streets to try to make some money. I took $10 from my purse and bought some chocolates. "Okay, Lord," I thought, "maybe I can get by with $40 next top up."

Then came the next incident:
 A filling had fallen out in my youngest daughter's mouth and it was developing an abscess. It is a pretty deep hole and  I knew that it would cost between $400 and $500, plus the cost of an antibiotic.  Once again, I was juggling my budget to figure out where I could pull this money out from. 

So off I went to the dentist...my daughter was pretty well-behaved and I was thanking God for that! I handed my insurance form to the doctor and jokingly mentioned that they probably wouldn't let me claim for this again, since this was the second or third time she'd filled this tooth. She laughed and told me to meet her outside. Her assistant came to the window and said, "No charge for today." My jaw dropped "What? No, she has to charge me for at least the material... its so expensive" I protested (Or was that my pride speaking?) 

The doctor herself came at that point and said "No, its okay. She behaved so well today...no charge" 
 The cost to fix my daughter's tooth... $0

The moral of these stories...

Sweet sisters...and brothers... do not be afraid to share even in your dire circumstances. Share generously of your time or your talent. Give what little you can afford from your meagre funds. God blesses each gift given with a generous and loving heart.
I hope my little stories encourage you and illustrate how great God's love is for us. As you celebrate Thanksgiving, may you celebrate it in your heart and find the means to give to the less fortunate. What better way to give thanks than to be His feet, His hands, His heart...right here in a world that needs Him so much. 

If you are looking for a wonderful way to count your blessings,. check out this beautiful Thanksgiving Tree over at A Holy Experience.

Blessings to all of you!

Linking up with:
Beautiful Thursdays