Spiritually Speaking Blog

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Where Did the Wonder Go?

Joe and I are not normal! Most normal people have children and grandchildren. We don’t. So you can imagine how nervous and thrilled we were when my niece and one-year old baby came to visit us trying to escape the terrible fires in Boise. Our house is not “baby proofed”. We have no cribs, car seats, playpens, or toys. Matter of fact I can only remember once when someone under 21 was even IN our house. What are we ever going to do??? No problem. As it turned out, we did not have to entertain HER, she entertained US while at the same time reminding us of an all-important lesson. This little person who could not walk or talk taught us how to live OUR lives. No fancy toys, iphones, or distractions. This small “teacher” found such delight EVERYTHING she saw, touched or heard. She was mesmerized by simple things like Tupperware lids. She played the same songs over and over again, never tiring of the same tunes. Whatever or whoever came her way presented a new opportunity for fun and friendship. Where did my sense of wonder go? Because we take so many aspects of life for granted we lose a sense of wonder in everyday joys. We forget about maintaining our sense of wonder for daily occurrences in our lives: spending time with family and friends, eating food that nourishes us, and soaking up the beauty that surrounds us in nature. We take things for granted. This little girl lived in wonder having no expectations. Whatever came her way was great. She’s not thinking, “I’ll be happy... read more

Did God Get It Wrong?

Does God not hear my prayers or does he just get it wrong? With the raging wildfires devastating the west coast and the hurricane rainstorms destroying the east coast, I thought perhaps God got things a little mixed up. I’ve been praying for all those rain-filled clouds in the east to help relieve the burning acreage in the west. This would solve a lot of our problems. So how come all these disasters are happening? Why is God allowing these terrible things to happen to good families? Why is God destroying this beautiful earth with all these natural catastrophes? Why all this suffering in spite of all our prayers? I remember Saint Mother Teresa’s response to adversity, even with humor, “I know God would not give me anything that I can’t handle, but I wish he didn’t trust me so much!” Facing afflictions of all kinds, even with a twinkle in her eye, Mother Teresa could endure the tragic circumstances and somehow know that God was there for her and that things would work out in the end. We call that FAITH! I’m also reminded of an adage that I rely on: “Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” Sometimes the world does look like it’s falling apart. And in some cases it is. Now at this time we need to hang on to HOPE! How do we get through this? With the heroic responses of our fellow human beings, we are surviving these upheavals and hardships. Televised rescues and neighbors reaching out helping each other, are a testament to the world that... read more

World Class Friends

How come it takes a tragedy to teach us lessons? Can’t we learn our life lessons quickly and easily? The ongoing disastrous hurricane hitting Texas and Louisiana reinforces valuable learnings for us all. Amidst our daily lives of striving to be the best and the greatest we are reminded that life is much simpler than adding up our bank accounts, our degrees, and how many powerful people we call friends. When all is said and done we realize that that the only thing that really counts is communion – family that comes only from a lifetime of building good people and good bridges to connect them. Looking at the catastrophe along our coastline we can see in action what building good people and good bridges actually looks liked. Time after time we see how people stick together, they do not run out on each other or quit on them in hardship. Television photos show responders holding the course, persistently facing and wrestling with all the things that they would probably like to flee or run away from. This is the task of each and every one of us; it’s the task of a lifetime. That’s all we ever have and all we are ever responsible for. We all cannot be the kind of recue heroes that we have grown to so admire in this recovery process. But we are called to do it every day, one day at a time in small things. Think of the people who have made the most difference in your life, the people who have brought the best out of you, and who’s imprint... read more

What Makes You Brave?

Who has not enjoyed an engaging Danielle Steele novel? This American novelist has sold almost 1 billion books worldwide, making her one of the best selling fiction authors of all time. Her novels revel life lessons that have carried her through heartbreak, the loss of loved ones, the challenges of a career, the demands and joys of motherhood and the importance of family. In a recent interview for her upcoming memoir, I found her answers to certain questions to be inspiring for us all. As I read this interview I found myself reflecting on these same questions. I’d challenge you to do the same. Question: “When do you feel your bravest?” Answer: When I feel loved. Upon reading this I reflected on the “analysis paralysis” situation I wrestled with deciding if I should leave the convent. On one hand I didn’t want to say “no” to God’s invitation to serve, that would be selfish; on the other hand I did not find the peace and joy of fulfilling my destiny, I despaired. My dear father gave me that love that Danielle Steele referred to encouraging me to be my bravest. When seeking his opinion if I should leave the convent or stay and serve, he spoke these words that I will never forget: “If you stay in the convent I would be the proudest father. But if you left the convent, I would be the happiest father in the world.” With that my dad gave me the unconditional love that I would need to ditch the guilt and burst out of my comfort zone. We daily encounter people who... read more

Are You Ready?

I recently had the opportunity to take a wonderful cruise. Every morning we were given the daily ship’s newspaper, “Passages”. This six-page pamphlet helped us “cruisers” to get the most of our days spent in port pointing out the features and highlights. Glancing over these key points we visitors were prepared not to miss all the wonderful adventures coming our way. Watch for this…don’t miss that….make sure you enjoy this special coffee….and be sure to watch your footing on this tour with challenging terrain. We were also ready with exactly what we needed: passports, room keys, appropriate clothing for the weather, customs, shoes for the terrain. The crew distributed water and umbrellas ensuring that we would meet any situation with success. Like little boys scouts, we were prepared! Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every morning God would send us a pamphlet outlining our day so we wouldn’t miss one of his invitations and we were eager and prepared. We might read: Don’t miss this opportunity to help this person. Be sure to be grateful for this. You might need an extra dose of patience for this situation or you might call on your faith to see you through this troubling situation. But alas, we are on individual personal passages and each one of us is faced with different challenges, and joys in varying situations. Sure we can help, console, and support each other, but in the end, the journey is ours. It’s up to each one of us to prepare ourselves for the events ahead. So as we “pack and prepare” for the travels ahead, I think that a... read more

Earth’s Crammed With Heaven!

I’m not a poet, but I do find this piece very inspirational: “Earth’s crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; but only he who sees, takes off his shoes – the rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.”- Elizabeth Barrett Browning How many times have we sat and plucked the blackberries, when all of God’s creatures are straining to bring us Divine messages? We fail to see that every single piece of it is shouting out the awesome presence of God. We need God to help us “see”. We need to see what is here all along. Look at the sunrise, the cool rain, my hand, your heartbeat, that flower, this sleeping infant, the night sky and the vastness of space. They all whisper the same message of their maker: “I am good and beautiful and powerful beyond all understanding. We are always in the presence of God. God has always been there, reaching out to us through his beautiful creation. How awesome and close God really is. God is always there and we’ve hardly noticed before. God’s presence, if seen, can give every moment light and make every day a blessing. So let’s look closely at creation and we will see and hear the voice of God. Take God in. Walk with him, and his light and life, joy and peace will be yours. That’s a promise. Lord, that I might see!... read more

Do You Have a Full-Time Partnership?

We are all called to live the extraordinary life that God has designed for us. We each are unique individuals with our own gifts and talents. There is a mission only you can fulfill and a song only you can sing. Oftentimes we get caught up in what others want of us. Fear sets in so we live an ordinary life, plugging through each day, putting aside our own script and living the status qto. That special job that God has assigned to us will fail. But here is the good news. We are not in this alone. Our Creator wouldn’t strand us on this earth without a “lifeline”. And that lifeline is a direct connection to God. God has the power to transform us, to take the ordinary in us and make it extraordinary. God has the power and the desire. All that we have to do is accept God as our full-time partner. This means that we each have a serious relationship, with no exclusionary clauses, a partnership that puts everything on the table. There’s a long distance between that kind of intense partnership and the cool, arms-length, episodic relationship with God that we settle for so often. And that’s a real tragedy because an occasional relationship with God yields no growth, no change, and therefore no satisfaction. Why? When we withhold so much and hide so much we put so much of life off limits that God can’t even get close to the parts of him that need him the most. Keeping God at a distance is a sure recipe for sadness. Don’t settle for rusting... read more


On the road of life there are many conundrums. These complex problems confuse us with no apparent clear solutions. We know that we were made to share in the Divine joy and happiness here on earth. But then Jesus tells us to, “Deny yourselves. Take up your cross and follow me.” Are we suppose to be happy or not? What are we to strive for? How do we do both? This seems like a perplexing problem with no clear “one answer”. But God would not put us into a situation with no way out! Now as everyone in Jesus’ day understood, “cross” means simply meaning the true work of the day,” which is the opposite of busy work or just hanging around. And how do we know what the true work of the day is? Our gifts tell us, our circumstances tell us. And the Spirit speaks the word directly to our hearts. If we are listening, we will know each day what our true work is and our joy will come from doing it. If you want to be happy, Jesus says, “take up your cross.” Don’t run away from your life’s work or from the true work of the day. Turn toward it. Engage it. Give your whole self to it. Living that way has its price. But the spirit guiding our lives will give us what we need as we need it. The alternative, running away from our life’s work and betraying our gifts, will in the end bring only pain. Jesus’ advice is relax in the Lord. Forget yourself and your fears. Hand over your... read more

Small Moments Big Success

Has your life been successful so far? How do you judge it? Do you consider what you do? Where you live? What you have? Your influence? Your power? Your bank account? All of these considerations may be motivational but surely don’t make a complete successful life. Look at all the people that society deems accomplished and prosperous… the business tycoons, the movie stars and the power brokers. They too will be judged by the “small moments”. In the bigger scheme, life is pretty simple. A successful life comes in small moments. Small moments of Kindness, we always remember how others go out of their way for us. Resolution, we celebrate our determination to “get through”. Risk-taking, we learn that we have wings and really CAN fly. Forgiveness, when we grow in spirit giving others as we pray, “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those that have trespassed against us”. (There’s the measure) Failure, when we can accept, grow and even embrace failure as the other side of the coin. Fortitude, discovering our own strength that we find within, and without! Love, the affection we experience that reflects the love that God has for us. Laughter, the spice of life that let’s into God’s sense of humor. I think that God made the giraffe and had to laugh! Aren’t these the really big things that are lasting? In the end, it’s not who we think we are that counts, it’s the small moments in life that we will treasure, remember and carry with us.  ... read more