Saturday, February 28, 2009

Lent, Day Four

" 'Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?' Jesus said to them in reply, 'Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.' " Luke 5:30b-31

Someone was always questioning Jesus' eating practices, weren't they? But this was query was really aimed more at Jesus' association with the "unseemly" crowds. Why would a holy Man want to spend time hanging out with the dregs of society? Wouldn't He rather spend time rubbing elbows with the religious elite? Jesus' response cuts right to the point: "The sinners know they need saving. You think you need no saving."

Isn't that really what He meant?

It is true that "evil company corrupts good morals". But it is also true that unless we spend time with the least, we will not have any impact on the world. There is a balance, and Jesus found it. His closest friends were those who followed Him and learned from Him. But He also spent time looking for those who needed His healing and saving touch.

My Offering to God: I will pray today for those condemned by others.
I'm sorry this is such a short post today. If anyone knows how to hook up a grapefruit (lemon, grape, apple, etc.) to a multimeter and get it to produce voltage, I would much appreciate any information you can pass along! Our oldest son has a science fair project...ugh!


Friday, February 27, 2009

Lent, Day Three

"The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast." Matthew 9:15b

It was usually the Pharisees that questioned the practices of Jesus. If He was fasting, there were questions about that. If He was eating, they accused Him of being a glutton. In this particular passage, however, the ones questioning Jesus were the disciples of John the Baptist. They spent time in fasting. The Pharisees spent time in fasting. Why did not Jesus and His disciples fast? I love His full answer to them:

"Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast."

In other words, the whole purpose of fasting was to draw closer to God. But God was with them--God the Son--so why in the world would they be fasting? There would certainly come a time when Jesus would be taken away from His disciples (both when He was crucified and, ultimately, when He ascended). Then they would fast.

It is a Catholic tradition to fast meat on Fridays, but especially during Lent. I always wondered why? Well, there are really at least a couple of reasons. Fasting on Fridays in general is a way of remembering and focusing on Christ's crucifixion on a weekly basis. During Lent, of course, as we prepare ourselves for Good Friday (and Easter!), that is especially significant. The absence of meat is also a way of identifying with those who are poor. It is often suggested that perhaps we should give to the poor the money we save (by not buying meat).

Our family has chosen to put aside what we save in a box for Operation Rice Bowl, an outreach of Catholic Relief Services. CRS is the official overseas relief and development agency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. We keep our giving box right on our dining room table, as a reminder of why we give.

The most important reason to fast, though, as I see it? To identify with our Lord. He spent 40 days fasting in the wilderness as He prepared for His time of earthly ministry, and, ultimately, His crucifixion three years later. Our times of fasting are to be times of preparation for what God has for us as well.

My offering to God: I will fast today and spend mealtime in prayer.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Lent, Day Two

Today's verse: "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me." Luke 9:23b

If we wish to follow Christ, we must, as Paul said, identify with Christ in His sufferings. And how do we do that? The verse clearly spells it out: Deny ourselves. (Death to our flesh.) Take up our cross daily. Every day, not just the days when we feel like it! And follow Him. Where did Christ go? To the cross! There's so much more I could say, but I really feel that this verse speaks it quite well on its own....

My offering to God: "I will follow Christ daily, even when it is difficult to do so."

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

Today marks the beginning of another season of Lent. I know I comment on this every year, so why break the tradition? :o)

So many view this time of the year in a negative light. I disagree with that perspective! I see it as an awesome opportunity to identify with our Lord in a couple of ways: the time of temptation in the desert (40 days...thus, the 40 days of Lent) and in His sufferings. We identify with Him as we are tempted to give in to our fleshly desires. We identify with His sufferings as we allow our flesh to be crucified in certain areas, in order to draw closer to Him.

As I was growing up, I knew very little about Lent. I knew very few Catholics. Those Catholics I knew were not very vocal about their faith. As I grew older, though, I met Catholics and those in other churches (Lutheran, particularly) who only spoke of Lent in terms of "giving up" something. I view this time more in the light of "giving in." Giving up more of my own desires so that I may "give in" more to my Lord!

Recently, I heard a prayer that called Lent a "season of grace." I like that! Any time we focus on fasting, prayer, and giving to the poor, we can most certainly know that we will grow in His grace.

As this time progresses, I would like to share with you my own thoughts, as well as those from "My Lenten Daily Devotions," a little calendar put out by Food for the Poor, Inc. It includes a daily Scripture reading, excerpting one verse from that reading, as well as a daily "offering to God"--something each of us can do to draw closer to the Lord. I will share the daily verse and the daily offering.

Today's verse: "But take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them." (Matthew 6:1a)

My Offering to God: "I will anonymously do something kind for someone."

If you have any thoughts or questions, I'll do my best to respond as I am able! And if this is all a bit too "heavy" for you, then feel free to stop by my other blog, "Ramblings of Freckled Mom," for the lighter side of life.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I'm feeling much better today. Thank you to all who left their kind words.

I'm hoping to get back to posting a little more regularly. That remains to be seen, though. Between work, my kids' activities, church, housework, etc., I just can't seem to squeeze enough time out of a day!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

One of those days...

Feeling a bit under the weather today. The weather here is damp and cold, and not doing much for my physical state of being. Just keep me in your prayers, and I'll be back soon!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Lonely in Blogland

Feeling a bit sorry for myself today. I finally get the chance to post a couple of times lately, and how many responses did I get??? Poor little me.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tomorrow, tomorrow...

As I write this post this evening, I am writing on the last night of my life as the mother of a pre-teen. Tomorrow, my eldest son becomes a teen!

So much about him has changed over the past few months. He has grown over 8" in a year! He is now taller than his mom. He wears a men's size 10 shoe. His voice is deep. He is slowly adopting the mannerisms of a young man. And yet...

He is still a boy in some ways. Still needs his mom and dad when he's sick. Calls for our assurance when a sheriff's deputy shows up at the door. (See this link for more on that!) Still fights with his little brother over silly things. And still...

He is not my little boy any more. It is a joyful thing, yet not. It is difficult to let go of his childhood, and yet I wouldn't wish it otherwise.

A few months ago, my husband asked our son ("Harry" for blogging purposes) the names of some men whom he felt had had the greatest influence in his life. This past weekend, three of those men joined my husband and Harry for a night of "initiation into manhood," so to speak. They all went out to a restaurant together, and enjoyed a time of laughter and fellowship. Then they went to a house owned by our church. Each of the men shared thoughts with Harry about what it means to be a teenager and their insights on growing into a man of God. Each had a different perspective, and each shared some precious gems of advice. At the end of their time together, they gathered around him and prayed for him. I hope and pray that he cherishes that evening for the rest of his life. As a bonus, he received a letter from another of his life-influencing men the next day, one who lives too far away to make the journey for a weekend. Who were the men he chose? Both of his grandfathers...a former pastor, and true friend...his uncle...and his own dad. (He had suggested a couple of others, but we had to draw the line somewhere, as it would have become cost-prohibitive for us!)

As he walks into his life as a young man, I do have some sadness for the loss of my "little boy". But I am so proud of the young man he is becoming. I do pray that this weekend will be an inspiration to him as he grows into manhood and into a man of God...

Happy birthday, my son...with all my love...

(This isn't a real picture of him, but it certainly reminds me of what he looked like about 12 years ago! He even had a shirt similar to this one!)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation

Yesterday was the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, a remembrance of when Joseph and Mary took baby Jesus to the temple to present Him. I have been intrigued by this story since I was a child. The beauty of Simeon's faith, and the dedication of Anna to stay in the temple. Both of these godly people had the true privilege of a great discovery: the Savior had come! And they got to see Him with their own eyes.

Painting by Ron DiCianni

This passage fills my heart with wonder. What would it have been like to live in a world which did not have a Savior? I mean, we read the Old Testament with the knowledge of fulfilled prophecy: we know the Savior would be coming, because we know that it has happened! What was it like for the people who lived before He came? How did it feel to wonder "if" and "when" the Messiah would be born? Here are two great examples of people who never gave up hope, and continued to believe in the coming of their Lord. Then one day, it really happened. Just another poor, young couple with a baby being brought to the Lord...and yet, not just another baby! What an incredible moment for both of these aged, righteous people!

The beauty of it, too, is that I can say with Simeon, "My eyes have seen Your salvation." Maybe not in the physical sense that he actually saw the child in Mary's arms. But in the very real sense of knowing Him personally and seeing what He has done in my life and the lives of so many people I know. I guess it would even be accurate to say, "My eyes have seen the result of Your salvation, the One who came into the world has changed lives!"

Another thought about this story: I want to have the faith of Simeon and Anna to continue to believe in the coming of the Lord. Not to waver in the hope of His return, no matter how many years have passed since the promise was given.

I close this post with a link to a beautiful video, and the passage relating the story. Michael Card wrote a song called, "Now That I've Held Him in My Arms," which tells the story of the Presentation through music. (This is an awesome video!) As you watch it, may you be filled with the same wonder and awe as Simeon and Anna were so long ago...

"And when the time came for their purification according to the law of Moses, they brought him up to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord (as it is written in the law of the Lord, "Every male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord") and to offer a sacrifice according to what is said in the law of the Lord, "a pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons." Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And inspired by the Spirit he came into the temple; and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word; for mine eyes have seen thy salvation which thou hast prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to thy people Israel." And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him; and Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanu-el, of the tribe of Asher; she was of a great age, having lived with her husband seven years from her virginity, and as a widow till she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she gave thanks to God, and spoke of him to all who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem. And when they had performed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. And the child grew and became strong, filled with wisdom; and the favor of God was upon him." Luke 2:22-39