Worth Revisiting: 40 Days in His Way

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Written a year ago..  and while a few things have changed,  this Lenten challenge to walk in His way ever remains the same! 

Working in ministry, liturgical seasons just simply move way too fast. It seems like yesterday Advent was on our doorstep and now we are over halfway through Lent. Our 24 week bible study with Jeff Cavins is drawing to a close and small group Lenten study has already begun. We have a food pantry drive and collection over the next 2 weeks, and a Collaborative Lenten service event for End Hunger where volunteers meet to package simple, nutritious meals for those in need within the New England area. Not to mention, as new collaborative (2 parishes now working together) there is evangelistic and leadership training, council and liturgy meetings, and the gathering of individuals to write a new pastoral plan. We are most certainly a collaborative on the move! In fact, several of the leadership team are flying out today to be a part of the Amazing Parish Conference in Atlanta.

In the midst of all these incredible community blessings, I have been trying to take the time myself to rediscover all the ways God is calling me personally to conversion and transformation. This year’s Lent for me has been all about trust. Why trust? Well, with so many balls in the air, including seeking the sale of our home, I have needed to go deeper than a mere lip service of saying I trust God. Over and over again these past few weeks I have had to let go of timelines, expectations and results. Not an easy task when you are detail oriented by nature. Yet, what I have noticed is that when I am truly keeping my eyes focused on Christ, all the rest fades away into the background.

One service project that has surfaced for me this Lent is the 40 bags/boxes in 40 days challenge of de-cluttering for simplicity and charity.Perfect timing as my family prepares to potentially move out of our home of 20 years. So many things we have not used over the years that could be of use to someone else. Why do we accumulate stuff and hold on to things that we honestly do not need anymore? Sentimentality, and security? With every bag or box packed, however, my family is gaining valuable space and awareness of the way that clutter can occupy our lives. In our culture of accumulation I can honesty say we could do with “Less” in order to appreciate what it is that we”Need”. We need space in our days and our homes that only God can fill.

Reflect:

Take time today to see what is filling your day, your home, and occupies your time. Is there room for growth, and space for need?

Peace,Signature

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An Engaging Faith: Jacqueline O’Toole

You are invited to join me this week for An Engaging Faith on Breadbox Media daily at 4pm EST

Breaking into your ordinary
with the extraordinary …

 

Over the next few weeks, as part of this blog, I will be highlighting a guest from An Engaging Faith. If you have missed any of these shows it will be a perfect opportunity to catch up! 

Radio Interview with Jacqueline O’Toole

An absolutely incredible person with a beautiful heart for the poor, Jacqueline had a vision for an enterprise that would help countless lives in Nicaragua. I met Jacqueline just 6 months ago as she was packing up to make her more permanent home there. Please check out her store site with jewelry and pottery to help be the change that so many need!  

Jacqueline O’Toole, owner of Sea el Cambio and ONE enterprises, works in close collaboration with artisans in Nicaragua to transform lives and provide handcrafted fair trade products. Translated from Gandhi’s quote “You must be the change you wish to see in the world,” Sea el Cambio encourages customers to “be the change.” All products are ethically sourced through long-lasting partnerships with Nicaraguan artisans. Sea el Cambio works with these artisans to design handmade jewelry, pottery, bags, and paper goods. By increasing market access, our artisans have a reliable and steady source of income to support their families. Sea el Cambio donates a portion of its profits to FNE International who is working within the artisans communities to improve their living conditions.

Worth Revisiting:Never Underestimate the Gift of Ourselves

Much too substantial to be contained and far too priceless to be appraised, the gift of ourselves may be exactly what we are being asked to give this advent season. In little ways we can play an important part in shaping the lives of those we encounter in our families and within the world around us. Have you underestimated the gift of yourself this season? Don’t worry, God hasn’t..say yes today!

 

This morning I awoke to a beautiful gift- an extra hour of sleep, kids fed and showered, our pup taken care of as well, and my middle son making his lunch for school. As Peter stood there constructing his sandwich, in his dress shirt and tie laughing with his younger brother I felt so incredibly blessed. This was a moment that each of my family, without even fully recognizing had contributed to. Completing the gift, my hubby had ushered the boys into the car and dropped them each off at school with percussion set and books in tow. While these are all things that are a daily occurrence, today I was given the gift of appreciation both for what I do, as well as for the gift they each bring in themselves.

Image from:Always the Holidays.com

This advent as we light each candle in anticipation, open and unwrap each day, there is an inherent challenge. Are my steps and efforts directed towards society’s expectations, in an overly commercialized season of shopping, or they a gift to Christ?  ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’ (MT 25:40) What is the real gift Christ is asking of us this season? It is, I believe, to give the gift of ourselves to others. Our time, our talents, our love…all gracious endowments from God to begin with, are to be freely given to others.

Vatican’s Nativity Scene December 24, 2013

Yet, before we start thinking that these must be expressed as grand gestures, we look again at the infinite love witnessed in the tiny babe lying in the manger.  In this way, God reached out to each one of us to give us the gift of Himself – to convert and enkindle our hearts to change the world.  This love then is what we can bring each day to someone else in need. It might be a smile, a kind word, a warm meal, a handwritten note, a prayer or simply an unexpected act of love.

“One Good Thing” By Jillee

*While I have seen this idea before, I was reminded recently of a service advent calendar or advent jar. The idea is instead of receiving a candy or chocolate to honor the day, you choose a loving act of service to do individually or as a family. The ideas above are just a few, and will vary as do each of the gifts God has given you. More beautiful than gold, frankincense or myrrh will be your gift to Christ this season.

Years ago, I remember shopping with an infant in tow desperately trying to gather all that was needed so not to return. One day when walking past an aisle I saw an elderly man standing alone staring at a wall of supplies and looking completely lost. Knowing all that I had to do that day I could’ve kept going past, yet I felt that strong inner pull to walk back. As I approached, I leaned in and asked if I could be of any help. His whole body sighed as he turned and said, “Oh, thank you yes, I have been here looking for so long!” His eyes shone and his gratitude was unsurpassable. After asking him a few questions and locating the item, he then turned to me and said, “Do you know how many others have walked past me?” My heart ached at this, and still I realized that I too had been given a choice that day. That day, I saw Christ in my fellow brother, and responded to the call to love. It marks a very important faith moment in my life, one that I return to whenever I feel my own schedule has unique importance.

Jesus, this season I want to stop and celebrate your presence and love in others. Prayerfully, I desire that I can also be a reflection of you for those that are in need of love, mercy and forgiveness in their lives. Open my eyes and my heart to see where I need to be, what gift of myself that I can give, and what lessons are to be learned. Thank you for reminding me that though there is great need there is also great hope.  For, in seeking to follow, you continually guide my feet and strengthen my purpose.

Peace,

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