Spiritual Journey framed

This week’s focus word is compliments of L.A. Eck: Intent


Sometimes I play a solitaire-incentive game. “Do [this or that chore],” I tell myself, “and then you can [do this or that discretionary activity].”

Sounds reasonable, even maturely responsible, don’t you think?

Problem is that the discretionary activity usually involves some relationship activity that I really should do–something I’ve intended to do; even promised to do.

Something I’ve told a friend I would do. Something like making a touch-base phone call; sending a birthday, get well, or some other greeting card; sending an email response, or formalizing and finalizing get-together plans.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” (disputed origin)

Intended good left undone. I repent, and I promise myself that next time I will do better. That I will keep my word, a la my father’s mantra: “A man is only as good as his word” (also disputed origin); and Robert W. Service’s admonition, which my father also quoted: “A promise made is a debt unpaid.”

Regardless of all the good intentions and a lifetime of oft-spoken inspirations, sorry to say, more times than not, the greeting cards stay unsigned, emails unsent; the phone calls remain unmade; the get-together plans do not get together.

St. Paul admitted: “…I do not do the good I want, but I do the evil I do not want.” (Romans 7:19)

Hmm…At least I’m in good company; not that St. Paul’s admission excuses my behavior. No. Absolutely not.

Why do I delay, defer, disregard? …Laziness, indifference, inertia…. who knows! (Might as well blame satan, too, don’t you think! Not that I doubt for one minute that he instigates and absolutely revels in sabotaging the fulfillment of our good intentions.)

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” (disputed origin)

And, yes, I know that “… the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7)–the intent; the intentions, but somehow, I’m thinking that without extenuating circumstances or legitimate impediments, I’m not getting partial credit for social obligation promises broken and social obligation responsibilities unfulfilled, no matter how good or genuine my intentions were.

Perhaps not quite as bad as breaking promises made in the intended recipient’s hearing, I think, are those charitable intentions made “only” in one’s heart. Although, given that the Lord knows everything we think, feel, say, and do–or not–I think it’s still not a good thing I do to “intend,” even to myself, and then not follow through.

What about you? Do you find yourself having similar spiritual journey challenges? If not–or if you’ve overcome them, please advise! Thanks and God bless you!


Posted in Inspirational | 14 Comments

(blind) Faith?

Spiritual Journey framed

This week’s focus word: (blind) Faith comes compliments of Justin S. Please join us at Spiritual Journey Thursday. Thank you!


Given that I like to ponder, I looked ahead at the SJT list that Holly shared, and started jotting down some thoughts for the first few OLW.

This week’s OLW, I admit, has been more challenging than any of the others. Truthfully, I’m not sure that I’ve fully processed yet what I think I want to say, but as of this time and day, here’s what I’ve determined. Truthfully, too, of all the SJT posts I’ve written this one is the only one I am not “happy” with. Maybe because what I am about to share seems counter-intuitive or counter-expectation. Of course, (blind) Faith is an admirable, expected aspect of my spiritual (faith) journey!

…Or is it?

First, I needed to remove the parentheses in order to explore directly the idea of Blind Faith. I couldn’t—choose not to—reflect on the construct “(blind) Faith.” Was that construct made to elicit a likely or possible inference? (Do I think faith is necessarily understood as being blind?) Or was that construct communicating an implication (Of course, faith is understood to be blind). For purposes of this reflection, “Blind Faith” is the focus word for my reflection.

Once upon a time, I thought that Blind Faith was an ideal kind of faith. Blind faith as in the kind of faith that children display; the kind of faith, then, that Jesus presumably calls us to display, too. Or does He? Is blind faith implied or required to live Jesus’ imperative found in this quotation:

“Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:3).

At this moment, the older I get, I don’t think that blind faith is what I aspire to have. I don’t think that blind faith, as I am defining it in this reflection, is a necessary component of being child-like; thus, I don’t think that blind faith is what Jesus is seeking from me at this stage of my spiritual development/faith journey. After considerable reflection and soul-searching, here’s why.

Faith as I am defining it in this reflection denotes belief, specifically belief in God, reflected in a creed to which I profess belief, and at this stage of my life, I don’t want blind belief, the unknowing belief that I had as a child, when I believed what I was told to believe without knowing what the beliefs meant. Not that that kind of blind faith was a “bad” thing for me to have. No. Quite the contrary. I am very grateful that the grownups in my life transmitted a faith—a credo belief system–that gave me a foundation.

…In fact, I’m very glad that my parents did not do what a particular pair of neighbors did–despite the neighbors’  best intentions. They decided not to “impose” any religion on their children, saying that their children could investigate and explore religions as adults. Therefore, they did not introduce their children to any formal religion.

I remember the wonderful commentary I once heard a religious speaker give to that kind of well-meaning thinking. “Would you refuse to feed your child until they were old enough to decide what they would like to eat and could afford to buy their own food?”  …I’m so very glad and grateful that I was not starved, but fed!

…Back to blind faith…Having blindly believed as a child, I blindly believed as an adult, too. And then as I came into contact with individuals with different beliefs or negative beliefs, I really couldn’t defend my faith, because I really did not know what I believed. Yes, I knew the words to the creed, but I didn’t know the truths behind the words. I needed to grow up, to be accountable for believing, for knowing what I believed.

That is not to say that I fully understand the mysteries of God inherent in the creed I profess each week. No. Faith would not be faith if all were understood. But the un-blind faith I am talking about is the adult faith that says, I assent. I willingly, knowingly profess belief, even taking into account areas of unknowing or understanding in terms of those beliefs. I have made a deliberate, conscious, knowing decision and commitment to believe in a set of expressed beliefs about God, others, and myself.

In that context, my eyes of faith are not blind, nor closed. My eyes are wide open, looking toward the eyes of my Triune God, and I am saying, “I believe. I don’t understand all, but I know what I am asked to believe about You and the tenets of my faith, and I willingly do so. Credo. I believe.”

And then I am closing my eyes, putting my hands into Theirs, and I am (to the best of my ability) blindly trusting in my Triune God. And at this stage of my life, it is the blind trust (which others might call “blind faith”) that is challenging–oh so very challenging for me!

Once, during our weekly Scripture-sharing lunch, a colleague shared a scenario-story from his minister, the response to which was intended to reveal our faith, hope, and love relationship with Jesus.

Play along, if you will. (This scenario was shared pre-cell phone, so calling for help is not an optional response to the dilemma.)

Imagine that you’re driving through a deserted area when your car gets a flat tire. Jesus is your passenger. What action do you expect Him to take?

a.)  miraculously inflate the tire

b.) wait with you, alongside the road, until a passing car stops to help

c.) walk with you the miles it takes to find a gas station

That little scenario revealed a major flaw in my thought-relationship with Jesus.

For in my naivete, I didn’t like any of those answers. No. When traveling with Jesus, I didn’t expect to get a flat tire. And when I did, it set up into a number of questions. Doesn’t Jesus love me enough to keep something “bad” from happening to me? My trust in Him and my sense of His love for me was totally rattled. My faith wasn’t. I never questioned that Jesus had the Infinite Power to keep something “bad” from happening. I suppose some would call that “blind faith”; I prefer to call it “total faith” or “strong faith” or “unshakeable faith.” Always with eyes opened to conscious belief.

That scenario and the gentle, correcting feedback from the other members of the Scripture-sharing group when I confided my response, helped me to mature in faith. No more “blind faith,” if that’s what it is when one closes one’s eyes to human reality and expects Jesus to flex His Infinity. Not that I close my eyes and trust that with Jesus nothing “bad” will happen in the natural sense, but eyes fully open, with eyes on Him, knowing/believing His Word and His Promises that if I am doing my best to live according to His Holy Will, no matter what happens to me—no matter how apparently “bad” it is, He will turn it to good.

“Blind Faith”? No. I think that Jesus appreciates even more the open-eyed faith that has been tested, the faith that doesn’t go to Him eyes closed, but eyes open. The faith that recognizes and accepts that there will be persecutions. The faith that recognizes that what was done to the Him, the green, will be more done to us (Cf. Luke 23:31) …and goes to Him and follows Him—believes in Him, in His Holy Word, anyway.

The same person who shared the scenario that helped my faith mature, helped me again when I was struggling with whether to stay with the company or leave. I confided in him that I was afraid to make the wrong decision, and desperately wanted assurance to know proof-positive from God what to do.  What my colleague believed about God–the truth about God– led to his being able to trust God. His faith-response, his belief in God as a Loving Father, gave me great hope. Faith and hope; they are inextricably connected, I think.

“If you pray and do your best, God will be there for you no matter what choice you make, when either choice is good. He is for you. He gives you the freedom to choose. He will not abandon you. Even if He would have preferred that you had made the other choice, He will honor your choice. He will not abandon you or punish you. Don’t worry. You can’t go wrong. If you stay or if you go, God will be with you.”

I needed to hear that, to believe that, to know that there is latitude, that there is not one and only one way of doing God’s Will. Believing in His Goodness, I didn’t need to close my eyes and do what was safest, apparently most pleasing; I could put my hand in the Hand of God and trust He would come or stay with me.

A version of “blind man’s buff” is a good faith-building exercise that catechists sometimes use; it has its place, but open-eyes, conscious, deliberate, putting one’s hand in the Lord’s for Him to lead and sometimes taking the first step in darkness trusting that unseen, He will be there is no longer blind faith to me, it’s closed-eyed (“blind”) confident, faith-tested, seasoned trust.

Absolute Faith; Steadfast Faith; Zaccheus Faith: Yes!  Nevertheless, Blind Faith? I still can’t embrace that expression. I think that an adult faith is not static, since there is always more and deeper to know and therefore to believe about God, it is a living and growing/deepening faith to which I aspire.

Blind Faith in God–no. But please do help me with my closed-eyed, no-matter-what, unconditional (blind, if you will) TRUST in Him, born out of faith and love.

And sometimes, after moments of praise and thanksgiving, it’s good—Selah style, I’m beginning to think–to accompany the closed eyes with closed lips and open ears, waiting on the Lord.


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Spiritual Journey framed

SELAH …Today’s focus word comes compliments of SJT community member M.H.

SELAH!! …I satisfied my curiosity once, looking up the meaning of Selah. Apparently, I didn’t do a good enough job because I can’t say for sure, with any semblance of convinced certainty, what the words means. However, instead of looking up the word, I will take the chance that one of the other SJT community members will expound on it, and I will take my reflective time to share something I’ve been looking for the appropriate time and place to share.

With my confessor’s recommendation, this year, I am [supposed to be] prayerfully reading one psalm every day. Every time I read a psalm or listen to an Old Testament reading at Mass, I am reminded of the debt of gratitude I feel toward my Jewish brothers and sisters.

Inasmuch as God does not revoke His gifts, they remain His Chosen People, even if we Christians have become the New Israel. In His Human Nature, Jesus was Jewish. That is enough reason for me to want to know about Jewish culture, to better understand the life and times of my Savior. His Mother was Jewish, His Apostles were Jewish. Christianity, I think, is the full-flowering of Judaism–of humankind’s expression of faith, hope, and love for the Triune God.

I LOVE the Old Testament priestly blessing that is sometimes given at Mass, and that religious orders like the Franciscans use as part of their charism:

“The Lord bless you, and keep you; the Lord make His face shine on you, and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up His countenance on you, and give you His peace.” (Numbers 6:24-26)

This is my prayer for each of us this year. (Maybe another post, I will reflect on the words of that prayer which I love so much that I have it posted in more than one room in my house.)

SELAH! If I recall correctly, that is a word of joyful emphasis. I look forward to reading other SJT posts today to find out for sure. (I could be wrong, but it reminds me of the US Marine’s affirmative “Hurrah!”)

Meanwhile, thank you for indulging me in letting me share my love, respect, and gratitude for Jewish witness. I pray that the Lord will bless His Jewish people and keep them, and one day, please God, may they accept Jesus for Who He is, as we believe in Him.

More than once I have been blessed to have Jewish colleagues as part of our Scripture sharing groups. Their reverence for God, even to not speaking His Name is something to emulate at at time when the Lord’s Name is so taken in vain! Their reverence for the Holy Name of God is a strong reminder, too, of how blessed we are to be invited into a personal relationship with God through Jesus, Who invites us to have His Name always on our lips!


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Gift; Give; I’m here: Present


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This week’s SJT word, compliments of M. Simon, one of the SJT community members is, Present.

Present as in a gift.

Present  as in to give.

Present as in I am here, in attendance.


Here goes a reflection weaving all three meanings.

As a fellow student, as well as a teacher, I have heard my share of “Here’s” and “Present’s” in response to attendance roll calls.

Until I began noodling for this post, I never had considered the difference between those two responses in a spiritual journey sense, in the sense that, as we journey through life on this Earth, in what we might consider God’s living and learning laboratory, school or classroom; we accept or reject His teaching, with Him and His delegated teachers.

We can be truant. We can stay after for remedial assistance. We can be good students or not.

“Here I am, Lord,” notwithstanding, to be “here,” in God’s classroom, as in “Look, God, I’m here,” it seems to me can be self-congratulatory, and perhaps even presumptively passive. “Okay, now, teach me.”

On the other hand, to be “present” to God, it seems to me is a more active response to God’s presence, even as we are more humble, more submissive. “I’m receptive. I’m listening. I’m here. I want to learn. Please teach me.”

The gift of being present to God is really a gift to ourselves, since we are actively open to God’s action in our lives.

When we give the gift of ourselves to God, we come to realize that God has been gifting Himself to us. He has been loving us into loving Him, teaching us to be good disciples, good students.

What a great God we serve! He Who needs nothing or no one outside Himself not only presents Himself to us, but He delights when we present ourselves to Him.

In the end, we know the final exam. Have we made a gift to others of our presents and our presence–our time, talent, and treasure? (Cf. Matt. 25: 31-46)

As a social studies teacher, I regularly gave students the essay questions ahead of time. Students thought it was too good to be true. I assured them not only were the questions I gave them truly “those” questions that would appear on the test, but that they would have their choice of answering a set number from among those questions.

I told students that I believed testing was meant to be a learning experience. Since I was testing them on the most important concepts, I wanted them to reflect on those concepts ahead of time. In return, I told students my expectations were elevated. No “bulling me.” Only one student tried snowing me. Every other student I can honestly say wrote a thoughtful response to each question chosen to answer.

Now that I am much further along in my spiritual journey than I was when I started teaching, in retrospect I wonder: subconsciously, did I model my testing technique after the Lord’s? Did I take His technique of giving the test questions ahead of time to ramp up the results? No excuses. No: “I studied the wrong thing.” No: “I knew everything but what you asked me about.” No excuses.

The Lord has given us the same challenge and opportunity. He has raised the bar. Being present to Him provides the information, the modeling, the help we need to make it over the hurdle. If the final exam were a playground game, this isn’t the “Limbo” dance…how low can you go?—no, this is how high can you go to meeting the Lord’s expectations of loving Him and neighbor.

As I take my turn with practice runs, training to make it higher and higher over the hurdle, thanks for giving me a boost! Thanks for being present to me in the journey. Thanks for giving the gift of your faith, hope, and love!  Thanks for revealing His Presence to me. God bless you, and thank you so very much!

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Spiritual Journey framed

SJT is hosted weekly by Holly Mueller Please join us!

Many thanks to Carol V. for providing this week’s SJT focus word!

Believe. [period]

Believe! [exclamation point]

Believe? (question mark)

Believe, [comma]

Believe; [semicolon]

Believe: [colon]


“Believe” is a complex construct, as changing the punctuation after the word reminds me.

As I look over the list, I realize that I could easily reflect today on each one of those differing nuances, of differing emphases in meanings.

However, quite unexpectedly, what intrigues me as I look at the list  (even though, at this moment, I have absolutely no idea where my reflection will take me) is reflecting on this presentation of the word:


For what was screaming out at me as I looked at the word “Believe,” listed seven times above, was the accusation I saw within:

lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie….

“Religion is the opium of the people,” Karl Marx observed. And if I recall my economic and political histories correctly, he accused religion of keeping people willing to sacrifice material goods in this life–to accept “political and economic put down,” if you will, in this life, in trade for a promised better life after death.

Though Marx is long dead, there are other voices, supposedly intelligently superior voices, cynical voices, atheistic voices, somehow personally angered by believers, voices that taunt, accuse, protest: lies, lies, lies…they profess.

Praise God! For generations–how many I do not know, but look forward to learning when, please, God,  I am in Heaven–individual family members, anonymous to me except for my parents and grandparents, believed and passed on that belief to me.

If there were a reason for me (beyond curiosity) to study a family tree, it would be this reason: to learn by name -and, if possible, by face–to know to whom I owe the gift of my Faith.

A Jewish colleague, commenting on the Rosary beads she saw me holding, compared the strung beads to the mental image she has of her Jewishness. She said she imagines that her ancestors in faith are linked together, like the jewels on a necklace, in chronological order, passing the faith to the next generation.

I really loved that imagine of passing along the Faith, of being linked to those who have preceded us, as well as to those who will follow us–a long chain of believers, if you will. That image makes me grateful to those I do not know by name or face. And I praise God for their faithfulness, their decision to keep the Faith. And I can’t help wondering what would have happened to me if along the way, going back to who knows how many generations, one of them had given up the Faith–through indifference, through laziness, through cynicism, who knows…

Would I have Faith if I had not been gifted with a Faith heritage from birth? True. Yes. I have questioned. I have doubted. I have searched. But always I had a Faith-foundation undergirding those questions, doubts, and explorations.

What if there had been no Faith foundation? What if there had been a religious tabula rasa? Would I believe? Is belief more supernatural gift or more human nurture? Is it an inherited or acquired gift?

lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie, lie

For me, the lie is that belief in God, being a member of a formal religious community  diminishes, makes one immature, and belies one’s intelligence.

I praise God that I believe, and I am indebted to those, living and deceased, who have given and or nourished and supported my belief, even–and especially– when what I believe is different from what they believe, even when they say they believe nothing at all.

God works wonders in amazing ways! Those whose faith is different from mine have been among those who have most edified and encouraged my practicing mine. And when those who profess nonbelief in God go about doing good–better than I do–their witness to God’s presence within them, despite their protesting that they do not believe in Him, challenges me to live my Faith more authentically.

I love the answer St. Martha gave Jesus when He asked if she believed that He is the Resurrection and the Life, and that those who believe in Him–even if they die–will always live: “Yes, Lord. I have come to believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who is coming into the world.”(John 11:27)

Yes, Lord, I believe.





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Christmas Chalk

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SJT is hosted weekly by Holly Mueller

Please join us!

When our children were young, they loved using chalk to draw pretend, circuitous “routes” on which to ride their bikes. They drew hopscotch courts on which to toss their “potsies.” And when they made up stories, they drew all kinds of identifiable and unidentifiable images and designs–just for the creative fun of it!

…And so they often found sidewalk chalk among their stocking stuffers…

Yes! chalk is (was?) for child’s play.

Years ago, chalk was for teacher-play, too:).

This week I’m reminded that chalk still holds a special significance in family Christmas Season/New Year faith devotions.

In that context, chalk (often blessed white chalk) is used to “mark” a house–and a family!–as belonging to Christ.

Although there is no one absolutely definitive way that the marking must be done, the usual components of the notation are these:

  • Chalk notation is made above the inside doorway.
  • All 4 digits of the year are written, either as a unit, or divided into 2 and 2, with the following intervening letters.
  • The letters C, B, and M are written. They stand for either/both the Magi or the Latin expression that translates “Christ bless this house.”
  • The letters are connected with + symbols that are read as crosses or as the words “and” or “plus.”
  • One or two + symbols at the start/and stop of the notation stand for the  Cross of Christ.

In some parishes, the priest comes to bless the house and makes the chalk inscription that lasts (faded) till the next year’s blessing. When a priest is not available, the husband-father of the house, as the head of the domestic church, does the house blessing/chalk notation.

No matter how the notation is done (1 line; 2 lines;  “+2016 + C+B+M” or “20 C+B=M 16,” or any other variation), the important thing is to proclaim the house and the family as the Lord’s.

Although such a tradition was not part of my family’s faith formation, it was part of my husband’s. And although, in the past–regrettably– we did not adopt the practice for our house, this year being the Mercy Jubilee, it seemed like time to establish the traditional devotion.

So that’s what we did yesterday! (Another part of the tradition is to bless the house/chalk the doorway on Epiphany or “Little Christmas.” …Although the blessing can be done any time!)

Serious business marking our house for Christ, and yet, it occurs to me that as Our Heavenly Father watches us writing symbols, numbers, and letters above our doors, He sees holy child’s play in His Eyes. And He delights in honoring His children’s simple act of faith, hope, and love–

What do you think? Will you use chalk to mark–to proclaim–to yourself and others that you and your home belong to Christ?

p.s. Holy reason or not, the child in me still likes–correction: loves— playing with chalk!

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All things new


Spiritual Journey framed

Though I try to make it a priority, I don’t always succeed at ending each month with a prayer of grateful surrender for the month gone by and a prayer of grateful entrustment for the month about to begin.

Since December 31st is not only the end of the month, but the end of the year, yes!, I did remember to take the time to make that dual prayer this morning.

Although the quote has never been the same for me (without the realization of the great cost to Christ) since I heard the way it was used during the film “The Passion of the Christ,” still, in anticipation of the New Year, I keep thinking of what Jesus says in Revelation 21:5, “Behold, I make all things new.”

Problem for me is that while I want the Lord’s gift of newness, I don’t always want to do the things, make the sacrifices, take the steps that are required to embrace the newness that the Lord offers–each moment of each day.

So, when I think of Jesus making all things new, I think, too, of the quote that convicted me during a silent retreat a number of years ago.

“Sing to the Lord a new song.”

I think of the continual conversion-response that the newness of the Lord calls for versus my same old song–my “songs”–pardon the expression–of complaint, regret, discouragement, nostalgia. Songs of refusing to let go of the sadness and disappointment.

Providentially, today’s liturgical responsorial psalm was Psalm 96 which contains one of a number of versions of that invitation-command:

Sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name; announce his salvation, day after day.

And so, at the end of another year, I was reminded that the newness that the Lord offers is mine to receive, but that the receiving demands decision, and whatever cooperative action is required.

My New Year’s wish for me and all of us is that we be re-created each day by a loving God Who offers us endless possibilities for drawing closer to Him.

I found a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson that brings together for me the December SJT theme of Gift, extending it into a New Year of the continued gift of newness, of endless possibilities:

“A day is a miniature Eternity.”

Blessed 2016! ….God bless you each and every day as you journey closer to Him. May an Eternity of all things new in Him be yours every single day.


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Merry MERCY Christmas!

Thanks to Pope Francis who issued a “Bull” designating this Liturgical Year (December 8, 2015 – November 20, 2016) as an Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, this is a Mercy Christmas:)

Of course, every Christmas is a Mercy Christmas. But during this Jubilee Year, it’s good to ponder the connection between Christmas and God’s Infinite Mercy.

In that regard, I offer for my meditation and yours this short, but potent, reflection by St. Therese:


“A God who became so small could only be mercy and love.”

No matter how many Christmases I already have celebrated, I admit that I still cannot even begin to fully wrap my brain around a God Who Gifts us His Infinite, All-Powerful Self as a truly helpless Infant.

To quote again St. Therese: “A God who became so small could only be mercy and love.”

Praise God for His Infinite Mercy.

Gratitude and thanks, too, to the teenage girl, Our Blessed Mother Mary, who said “Yes” to God and gave Our Savior His Humanity–in an amazing mystery in which He remains just One Divine Person with two natures–the nature of God and the nature of man. Mind-boggling!

This is a good point in this post, I think, to refer to the gift of Faith. To “simply” believe what seems impossible to understand, what seems too good to be true, and to humbly accept the Greatest Gift our God has given us–His Divine Son made flesh to save us!

Holly Mueller, our year-round generous Spiritual Journey Thursday hostess, has shared a beautiful post in that regard, connecting faith with the Greatest Gift that Christmas–that the Christ Child–is!

With many thanks to Holly for her weekly service, please accept this invitation to enjoy her post and to share one of your own.

Holly does a beautiful job of connecting invitations, faith, and Christ’s Birth. Gift yourself this Christmas by reading her post!

Merry MERCY Christmas, Everyone!


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Spiritual Journey framed


In keeping with our December Spiritual Journey Thursday “Gifts” theme, I can’t help wanting to recognize and applaud all those establishments that have risked ridicule or criticism for manifesting Christmas decorations and messages.

Since they benefit from moneys spent in celebrating Christmas, whether they use the decorations as a bait to have Christians spend more money as some cynics accuse, or whether they simply are manifesting their own participation in the holiday–or for any other reason… It is a blessing to see the stores and other establishments decked out for Christmas.

As a case in point, here’s what gladdened my spirits at one local store:



I pray God bless every store that had the guts to acknowledge with signs and decorations why December gift-giving money was being spent–whether they adorned the store with greetings for Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, or any other religious or cultural holiday.

. …I know, for my part, given a choice, I choose to spend my money supporting those who are unafraid to name the holiday for which I am spending my money: Christmas.

The witness of stores, like the one whose Christmas message I photographed,  provided a joyful Christmas gift to me as I spent gift-giving moneys!

If you would like to know which businesses are considered Faith-friendly, or if you would like to think of and to share ideas for Christmas gift-giving options apart from store-bought presents, please consider visiting another post of mine.

And, as I conclude in that other post, may our Christmas gift giving and receiving be centered on honoring Him, Whose Birthday it is!

God bless you! Merry Christmas!






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Christmas Baby


Spiritual Journey framed Not that I had been asked, but yesterday I was thinking about which was my best Christmas ever.   … Without a doubt,  bringing our son home from the hospital was the best!

The first time we brought him home, as a newborn, it was just a few days before Christmas. I thought my heart would burst of gratitude and joy on Christmas morning; I never felt closer to Our Blessed Mother or her Infant Son as I did that Christmas when I shared the miracle of the birth of a baby boy. Mine, unlike hers, was not a Divine Person with a human nature. No; he was totally a human person, but with the life of the Creator within him, giving him breath.

My gratitude and joy were especially heightened since one year previously, when I was “sure” (without benefit of EPT’s) that baby number two was on the way, I discovered in the midst of a house full of Christmas Day guests that I wasn’t. ..One year later, and a baby boy was gracing our home. After a couple of years of praying, waiting, and being disappointed so many times for a new baby’s arrival,  he seemed to me to be a total mercy Christmas present from the Savior to us on His Birthday.

Seventeen years later on Christmas Eve, with a decorated Christmas tree in the trunk of our car, ready to grace our son’s hospital room the next day, we got a surprise gift. The doctor discharged him early–in time for him to be home for Christmas. (There’s much more to the story, but that’s for another post another time.) The blouse my son gave me that year is literally irreparably falling apart, but I refuse to discard it since it reminds me of the Christmas miracle that year.

Financially, it was tough having six family members (husband, son, father, two in-laws, and niece) with birthdays in the last two weeks of December. (As the Christmas shopper, more than the expense, the greater challenge I felt was finding two wonderful presents simultaneously.) My husband who, as a youngster, felt “cheated” out of a birthday celebration (combined present for Christmas and birthday) made sure our son’s birthday had its own celebration. As far as I know, our son never felt “cheated.”

I’m glad, because I felt nothing but jubilant over our son’s “Christmas” birthday. The year he was born, I packed Christmas cards into my hospital delivery bag. (I had held off writing Christmas cards that year until we could include the baby’s name.) Pre-prenatal-sonograms, we didn’t know the baby’s gender, and actually–boy or girl–we hadn’t finalized the baby’s name.

Writing cards turned out to be a good thing; one drawback to having a “Christmas” baby was that the maternity wing was short-staffed. My roommate and I had a lot of “down time” to pass, not only from the lack of nursing “visitors,” but because there had been a terrible ice storm, which kept away any other visitors.

Despite any drawbacks, I am eternally grateful for the timing of our son’s birth. Having a “Christmas baby” was–and continues to be–a great blessing! In fact, I feel more than doubly blessed.

For all the expectant, and desiring to be expectant, mothers, may the Christ Child bring them the children their hearts’ desire.








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