Wednesday, February 24, 2016

When A Baby Is Born, God Rejoices

When a baby is born, the parents don't know what the future holds for their child.

Babies are wonderful creations. Each child is knit together in the womb by our loving God.

When a baby is born, God rejoices in that unique person, created in His own image and likeness.

Unlike the parents, God knows each child's destiny and has a plan for each child's future.

When my sister Kathy was born, our parents knew that she was a beloved child of God.

On the day of Kathy's Baptism, Mom and Dad chose Christ's path for Kathy -- as they had for their firstborn and would for all of their children.

In His image, Kathy was molded. By our parents' influence and the influence of others in her life, Kathy learned the ways of God.

As Kathy learned and grew in the faith, God knew the plans He had for her future.

A little girl gazing at the infant Jesus in the manger -- a precious memory and a glimpse into the future.

For God already knew that Kathy was ordained to hear His voice and to respond to His call.

God already knew that He was calling Kathy to be a woman of faith, to accept Christ as her spouse and to teach others the way of the faith through her vocation.

God has a plan for each of His beloved children. He calls each of us to walk with Him, but we don't all respond.

As our mothers look on each of us with love, so God looks on all of His beloved children with a love that's eternal and complete.

Some of us are too busy with the things of this world to hear God's voice, to feel His love, to discern His unique calling.

Some hear God's voice, but choose to ignore it. Others don't know God and can't feel His love.

Every step in our lives, God is with us. He maps out our lives, step by step.

Raised in an Army family, Kathy was exposed to many people with different races, backgrounds and viewpoints.

As Kathy grew, every experience she went through brought her one step closer to God's plan for her.

From coast to coast and across the ocean, Kathy experienced the life God intended her to have.

From a baby into a school girl, Kathy grew in age and wisdom, each day bringing her closer to her destiny.

In big families, it's easy for a child to get lost in the shuffle.

In our big family, the kids wore red jackets when we went places so we were easy to spot,

But no child is ever lost in God's world. He always knows exactly where each of His children is -- and He also knows where each is heading.

Like many Catholic families, our family always attended Mass on Sundays -- but Easter Sunday was extra special.

On this day, we celebrated Christ's victory over death. We wore our best clothes and the girls all wore Easter bonnets, instead of our traditional Sunday chapel veils.

As one of the older children in our family, caring for younger siblings was a task Kathy often handled.

We younger kids knew we could count on Kathy to help us with whatever we needed.

Somewhere along the path, Kathy realized she had a gift for working with young people.

Teaching isn't for everyone, but Kathy had been teaching her younger siblings for years.

Kathy's calling was to teach -- but that's not all that God had in store for her.

After Kathy graduated from the Catholic high school, she was called to attend the local Catholic women's college.

I was in my teens when Kathy took our family out one night and sharer that she'd been called to serve God as a religious sister.

I'm not proud of my reaction -- my biggest concern was what my friends would think and, as always, I spoke just what I was thinking.

Thankfully, Kathy forgave me for my words.

No mom was ever prouder than our Mom when Kathy entered the convent.

Everywhere she went for the rest of her life, Mom told friends and strangers alike about her "nun daughter."

While Kathy was walking her faith journey, Dad was on a journey of his own.

In August 1974, Kathy took her first vows with the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth.

In April 1977, Daddy became a member of the Catholic Church.

On August 12, 1979, Kathy took her final vows, surrounded by her family and the sisters in her order.

As our family grew, Kathy served the Sisters of Charity, teaching in Kansas and Montana. Kathy has always been known as "Favorite Aunt Kathy" to her nieces and nephews.


Whether in her role as Sister Kathy or as our sister Kathy, she was always ready to pitch in and help wherever and whenever she was needed.

In the summer of 1997, we celebrated Kathy's 25th anniversary as a Sister of Charity.

During the same weekend, we also marked Mom and Dad's 50th wedding anniversary. Mom and Dad renewed their vows in a family ceremony.

As our parents aged, Kathy helped care for them. Kathy continued to work full time, but still managed to get Mom and Dad to medical appointments and keep up with their important information.




God's plan is always perfect; His timing is always right. God blessed our family when he gave Mom and Dad the little baby girl who grew up to be Favorite Aunt Kathy.

God's beloved child Kathy blessed our parents throughout their lives.

Mom and Dad couldn't have imagined the future when they held that tiny baby in their arms.

But God knew that Kathy was just the right child to add to their family.

Our sister Kathy provides a wonderful example of how to live the faith.

The model of service Mom and Dad provided lives on in Kathy's life of service to others.

Service to God, family and the world around her is how Kathy shares the love of God with others.

 Happy Birthday to you, Sister Kathy! We love you and we thank God for the gift that is you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Ash Wednesday Reflections: Did You Know There's Dirt on Your Forehead?

It's Ash Wednesday. If you're a Catholic, you know what that means. After you receive ashes you'll hear, "Did you know there's dirt on your forehead?" the rest of the day. That's not a bad thing.

Ashes are a reminder that we're called to let go of the things that keep us from God. Let go of hatred, anger and jealousy. Let go of valuing money, cars and other things of this world more than God. Let go of the things that won't matter in our eternal life.

As kids, many of us gave up candy for Lent and spent 40 days dreaming about the chocolate bunny that awaited us on Easter Sunday.

As adults, we focus more on giving up behaviors that keep us from being the children of God. Give up bullying and teasing. Give us gossip and name-calling. Give up greed and violence in all forms.

As kids, we held on tightly to our Easter baskets filled with candy and goodies. Our candy-filled baskets meant the end of our fast from candy.

As adults, we know that we are called to let the Paschal candle burn brightly in our hearts all year. As Christ is the light of the world, we are called to be light to those living in darkness. 

As kids, we dressed in our finest clothing on Easter morning as we headed off to church to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord.

As adults, we are called to cast off the heavy cloaks that bind us to the past and to be reborn in Christ. We are called to walk in His light as children of God.

There's nothing wrong with choosing to give up things for Lent, but giving up candy, coffee, TV or Facebook is only a small part of the Lenten journey. We are also called to use prayer, fasting and almsgiving to bring us closer to God.

We are called to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. In the Catholic faith, these are the Corporal Works of Mercy.

During our Lenten journey, we are called to cover and turn from the desires of this world as we walk toward the light that is Christ.

As kids, we often lamented, "It's not fair" as we dealt with the injustices in our everyday lives. As adults, we are called to feed the souls of those we encounter in our lives. The Spiritual Works of Mercy challenge us to admonish the sinner, instruct the ignorant, counsel the doubtful, bear wrongs patiently, forgive offenses willingly, comfort the afflicted, and pray for the living and the dead.

As adults, we are called to remember -- and to teach -- that Easter is about more than bunnies, eggs and candy. It's about the Risen Christ who gave His very life for us.

We are called to remember that our God is a God of hope and to let Him fill us with joy and peace so that we can live our lives in hope.

We are called to choose faith over worry, light over darkness, good over evil, trust over doubt and God's desires over earthly desires.

We are called to be grateful for what we have instead of complaining about what we don't have -- to bring sunshine into the lives of those we encounter.


We are called to let God's eternal love mend our broken hearts and to let Him make us into new creations in the Lord.

We are called to be who God meant us to be -- His sons and daughters who walk always in the light of Christ and who set the world on fire.

We are called to always remember that every day is a new day made by the Lord and to rejoice and be glad in it -- no matter what it brings.

We are called to let the joy of Easter morning burn brightly in our hearts throughout the year. We are called to take His light with us wherever we go, to let His light shine through our words and actions.

So, when someone tells you that you have dirt on your forehead on Ash Wednesday, thank them and tell the person that the ashes are a gift from God. Like the sacraments, the ashes of Ash Wednesday are an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. As you journey with Christ during Lent, let His light shine brightly in your heart and in your life.