31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sacrifice (Day 30)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sacrifice (Day 30)

You’ve heard it before:

No pain, no gain.

And maybe you’ve come across this:

No trial, no triumph.

Here’s the one I’ve come to understand a little bit better this past month:

No sacrifice, no joy.

Now, it’s one thing to sacrifice something and experience pride because of it – and there’s nothing wrong with a healthy sense of pride over a job well done.

The joy I’m talking about, however, comes from an interior knowledge that you’re uniting the discomfort of your present circumstance with the Ultimate Suffering of Christ on the Cross.

This month, our church encouraged its parishioners to offer up extra prayers and sacrifices in honor of Respect Life month. Multiple crosses made from construction paper sat on a table in the narthex awaiting someone’s written description of their offering. Once complete, the crosses were affixed to a larger cross at the front of the church, making a beautiful collage of prayer to support the dignity of life.

Here’s mine:

Respect Life Cross

I think there’s gotta be a rule about one’s sacrifice losing efficacy should one constantly grumble about it. Same with talking about one’s sacrifice with anyone who will listen. After all, “God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).”

So I tried really hard not to do those things.

But dang.

It’s honestly mind boggling that, even thirty days in to the month, I am still jonesing for soda or juice or milk or iced coffee. Mmmm. Coooffffeee.

The good news is, as best I understand it, that I’ve had way more opportunities to offer up my minor inconvenience and suffering (small ‘s’) for human life. And, hopefully, rather than being too proud of sticking to my promise, I’m taking it in stride, experiencing a deep sense of joy that comes from knowing that, even in my small way, I’ve entered in to the mystery of Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross.

(And I’d be lying if I didn’t add that I’m excited about coffee on Sunday. C’moooon November 1st! Amen.)

Until tomorrow, may God bless y’all in His loving kindness.

heather

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Life is Beautiful

Life is Beautiful

Ella Fitz

Written in honor of May the 6th both this and every year, past and present …

Today I celebrate and thank God again for the miracle of life. Today I am glad that I did not become a statistic. You see, today, more than any other, I am grateful for a young woman’s supernaturally courageous “yes,” – her fiat – to choose life in the face of adversity.

Having now experienced the joys and struggles of five pregnancies, I cannot begin to imagine the agony, the pain, and the sacrificial courage it took to give a baby away – to never snuggle her neck, never kiss her toes, never breathe in her baby smell – all because this young woman knew she could not be the best steward of the gift of life God had given her. Make no mistake – at any time, she could have said, “This is too hard. I can’t do it,” “This is my body, and I want it back,” “This is just a blob of tissue,” or, “I feel alone and unloved,” … but she didn’t. I believe she was able to persevere because she wasn’t alone in her courage. She had others – people who encouraged her, who supported her materially and spiritually, who prayed with and for her – so that she could, slowly but surely, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, month by month – CHOOSE LIFE for the baby growing inside her.

That growing baby, if you haven’t guessed yet, was me. My birth mother could have aborted me at any time. My time in the womb was post-1973, after Roe v. Wade, after thousands – if not millions – of babies had already died.

I honestly don’t spend a whole lot of time dwelling on “what ifs;” that’s too much energy that needs to be expended elsewhere (did I mention that I have five children??). Yet, on this day, I still like to reflect on my circumstances and encourage others to consider their own lives.

Do you know that YOUR LIFE is a gift, a miracle? It is!! Do you thank God for *your* life and the lives of those around you? Take time today to do so!! Do you – really and truly – foster a culture of life in your words *and* deeds? Please pray about this. Your affirming comment – your loving touch – could make all the difference in the world to someone today. So go forth today, dear friends, being salt and light to those you meet, and CHOOSE LIFE!!

And … enjoy my birthday. Because of a courageous young woman’s “fiat,” I know I will.

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Christ the Healer | Blessed is She

Christ the Healer | Blessed is She

2014Jan21ChristTheHealer

Today, I’m over at Blessed as She talking about Jesus’ healing power. Here’s a sneak peek:

In Jesus’ time, thousands sought healing in the midst of their pain and affliction. They sought Him. And, over and over again, Jesus welcomed them, touched and healed them; He loved them without condition and showered them with mercy.

Read more here!

God bless y’all.

-H

New must-see video from Musician Danielle Rose

New must-see video from Musician Danielle Rose

Grab your tissue box, dear friends, because this hauntingly gorgeous new video from Catholic singer-songwriter Danielle Rose will tug, pull, and yank at your heartstrings and then configure them in super-funky ways you didn’t quite know were possible.

So enthralled was I whilst watching this morning that I burned the toast. Twice.

No matter.

What is worthy of your consideration is the China Little Flower organization, whose care for the abandoned and forsaken children in China is lovingly documented in Danielle’s video. From their website:

“Our Projects include: 1. Hospice care for orphans; 2. Group educational foster care; 3. Special Care for infants; 4. Long-term care for severely disabled children; 5. Special causes Hospice … In our hospice program we provide comfort, love, and care to orphaned children who are dying.”

Allllllll the tears.

Care for unwanted children through adoption and foster care is very close to my heart, and I hope to post more about it in this space soon. Meanwhile, please prayerfully consider supporting the necessary work of China Little Flower as you ponder Blessed Teresa of Calcutta’s beautiful words as sung by Danielle:

“How can you say there are too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers in the garden of God.”

We can make a difference, friends. We truly can.

God bless y’all.

UPDATED to add this behind-the-scenes clip about making the video because so. much. joy. !! Shout out to Spirit Juice Studios for another excellent production!

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Today’s Reading & The Visitation by Albertenelli

Today’s Reading & The Visitation by Albertenelli

An online friend reminded me that today’s Gospel reading is the story of The Visitation, where John the Baptist leaps in St. Elizabeth’s womb at Mary’s greeting.

I have a special connection with St. Elizabeth, as she is my Confirmation Saint. Little did I know that, at the tender age of 14, I hadn’t really chosen St. Elizabeth, but that she had chosen me. I had honestly wondered, over the years, why I had actually chosen St. Elizabeth. Singing the customized versions of the Liturgy of the Saints for the RCIA Candidates at the Easter Vigil over the years and hearing all the wonderful saints’ names actually filled me with some regret that I didn’t really put much thought into selecting my own Confirmation Saint. Elizabeth is my Aunt’s name, and she was my Confirmation Sponsor, so I just picked “Elizabeth” for my Saint. Frankly, in my apathy and ignorance, I didn’t really want to do the research involved in selecting a Confirmation Saint, nor did I think it important. Silly me – God was still at work.

It wasn’t until this year, while contemplating how I could uplift and encourage women and further the pro-life message, that it finally started to dawn on me. I first saw the masterpiece “The Visitation” by Italian painter Albertenelli, below, at the local Catholic bookstore. The painting, with its sheer emotion and beauty, stopped me cold in my tracks and actually moved me to tears. Right there in the bookstore. Finally, I thought. This is what a loving relationship between sisters in Christ should look like! It was in no small part because of this painting that I was motivated to coordinate the  pro-life Tea  at church this past April.

In addition, I don’t think it is a fluke that my son was born on the Feast of St. John the Baptist. He declares Christ’s love and saving power to me in his own way each and every day. And my Confirmation Saint is St. John the Baptist’s Mom. God is so awesome. In case you needed to be reminded. 🙂

So,  St. Elizabeth really *is* my Confirmation Saint, even if it took me 20 years to figure out why. And it is with her guidance that I see how the Holy Spirit is at work in my life.

God works in mysterious ways … through the brush strokes of a long-passed master artist, through the underdeveloped selections of an ignorant teen-aged girl, and through  Sts. John & Elizabeth, the first pro-life heralds (John, by action & St. Elizabeth, by proclamation). Deo Gratias!

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