The Child Will Be King One Day

As I was getting ready one Sunday morning to help my husband with his chaplaincy duties at the airport, I thought about the state of our country. I thought about how there are false news stories, people wanting to thwart the president-elect’s inauguration, and so on. I thought about how sad it is and how those things didn’t exist when I was growing up. Then, suddenly I wanted to sing the words to “The Beautiful Mother,” which is about Mary’s birthing of Jesus. One phrase in particular struck me ‘She listens to heavenly voices. The child will be king one day. When I thought about the last sentence, I began to cry and then sob. I grieved the fact that we have gotten so far away from our Lord. So many people want to remove Him entirely from our lives. If they only knew how much He loves them; if they only cared! I told my husband about my experience. He later commented about my faith, my love for America, and my compassion for my fellow man. I never thought about that incident that way. I was sad that so many people don’t perceive our Lord as their king. Will He ever be king of our hearts again as a nation? I can only hope, and time will tell.

Lord, you are a gentleman who doesn’t force yourself on others, even allowing them to reject you by their free will. Please be merciful to us. Help us to realize our need for you and your love for us. Help us to make you king of our hearts once again. Blessed Mother, I implore your help in this matter. Only when your son is king of our hearts will America be great once more.

Copyright © 2017 by Theresa M. Williams

America the Beautiful?

As I was singing “America The Beautiful” in church last night, I was struck by what words didn’t move me to emotion, that usually do, and what lyrics I most concentrated on. When I sang the song, I didn’t feel the pride in our country that I would like to feel, that from a person who served in the military. When I sang “a thoroughfare for freedom beat,” I thought ‘freedom for who and for how much longer?’ Our country advocates freedom for those who would break God’s laws, but for those of us who want to keep God’s moral laws, we are treated like outcasts and accused of hate. Oh yes, we are still free to go to church, but heaven forbid if we speak out against sodomy and abortion, if we as Christians advocate for prayer and the Bible, and if we are not politically correct!

The words that struck me most in this song were “God mend thine every flaw.” Our country has lots of flaws. We live in a society whose moral compass is broken and in need of repair. How long will God shed His grace on us as a country if we ignore His commandments?

I’d much rather think of beautiful, spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and fruited plains than our country’s flaws. But, for mending of those flaws, we must pray fervently so we will continue to be a free country, that our country be pleasing to God once again, and that He may shed His grace on us. Please pray for our country and have a safe Fourth of July, and may He shed His grace on you.

Copyright © 2016 Theresa M. Williams

How did it happen so fast?

I can’t believe it’s June already. It seems like it was just January. Time has been getting away from me lately. Would you believe Kevin’s 10th ordination anniversary is this month or that we’ll be celebrating 38 years of marriage later this month? Wow! I’m reminded of the words to a song ‘Longer’ by Dan Fogelberg:  Longer than ther’ve been fishes in the ocean, higher than any bird ever flew, longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens, I’ve been in love with you. Stronger than any mountain cathedral, truer than any tree ever grew, deeper than any forest primeval, I am in love with you.

I’ll bring fire in the winters.’ You’ll send showers in the springs. We’ll fly through the falls and summers with love on our wings. Through the years as the fire starts to mellow, burning lines in the book of our lives. Though the binding cracks and the pages start to yellow, I’ll be in love with you. I’ll be in love with you. Longer than ther’ve been fishes in the ocean, higher than any bird ever flew, longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens, I’ve been in love with you. I am in love with you. Songwriters: DAN FOGELBERG © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC For non-commercial use only.

The part that really gets me though is where Dan talks about comparing our life to a book, about the binding cracking and the pages yellowing (must be referring to wrinkles). I must say though I don’t believe Kevin’s and my fire has started to ‘mellow.’ Kevin and I think it’s so neat to be married to our best friend. With another couple we know, the wife has told me her husband is her best friend. That’s heartwarming.

Another song we sing at Mass talks about weeping, laughing, sharing joys and sorrows ‘until we see this journey through.’ Certainly we do that daily. Our marriages are sanctuaries (or should be), a place where we can go even if the world crumbles around us. It should be a place where we feel safe and loved. I’m grateful for every day with Kevin. I realize the older we get that someday we’ll leave earth and join the kingdom of God.

It amazes me when I hear older folks state they wish they could go back to their younger years—not me! I really don’t care to repeat my previous years. I figure I’ve earned the right to be right where I’m at. I don’t want to try to have a family, attend college, find a career, you name it. I hope to retire someday, and I look forward to what lies ahead, but I’m not in a great hurry to get there; it’ll come soon enough with all its challenges, effects of growing older, friends or parents dying, and other things. (Some of this has already happened.)

I look forward to growing older with my best friend, my spouse, and I want to take life as it comes and enjoy as much of it as I can, while I can. I’m sure it probably won’t be easy sometimes, but I’m sure going to try anyway! How about you?

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

Entombment of Stress; What’d those pork chops ever do to you?

Did you know that stress comes in two forms? It does: eustress and distress. Eustress is the good stress, the kind we need to get and keep motivated. It provides incentive to get the job done. It spurs us on to action, to accomplish things. Everyone needs a little bit of stress in their life in order to continue to be happy, motivated, challenged and productive. It is when this stress is no longer tolerable and/or manageable that distress comes in. Distress is the bad stress we have. It’s when the good stress becomes too much to bear or cope with. Tension builds. There’s no fun in the challenge. There seems to be no relief, no end in sight. This is the kind of stress most of us are familiar with, and this is the kind of stress that leads to poor decision making. Stress can be really sneaky. It’s not always obvious to us, or others. It can build up slowly, like magma in a volcano. It can even explode on us and onto others when we least expect it—again, like a volcano. Stress is dangerous and entombs us. We are ‘bound’ like Lazarus with the ‘ribbons’ of distress. Lazarus couldn’t move because of the burial wrappings/ribbons. Likewise, stress can incapacitate us and hamper us in our ability to function. Distress affects our health, our emotional state, our relationships, our jobs, ministry, and other areas of our lives.  Physiological symptoms of distress include an increase in blood pressure, rapid breathing, and generalized tension. Behavioral symptoms include irritability, overeating, loss of appetite, drinking, smoking, and negative coping mechanisms. To read more, https://brocku.ca/health-services/health-education/stress/eustress-distress.

A dear friend of ours, whom I shall call Percy, recently exhibited distress with a co-worker by ‘going off on them.’ It surprised Kevin and I to hear about this because Percy is a very calm person. He smiles an awful lot, and I don’t think we’ve ever seen a scowl on his face or heard him raise his voice. My husband is a lot like this. He rarely gets upset, but when he does, look out! It takes people like Kevin and Percy a while to build up to outbursts and anger, but when they do, it’s very distressing. You know it took a lot to get them that upset, and you hate to see them in that state. I had a co-worker who was like this. Her name was Mary Alice. She was so upset about something one day that, when tenderizing pork chops for dinner that night, she tenderized them so much you could almost see through them! I heard about this the next morning as I checked with Mary Alice to see how she was doing. She was able to laugh about the pork chops then, but I guess you could say she took her distress out on those poor pork chops. A few days later, I jokingly asked her if she had any more pork chops for dinner, to which she laughed and said no. It was such a joy to see her laugh again. I hope Percy can relieve his distress so he can go back to work and be happy. God bless you Percy!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

What the heck is Lent?

In Christianity, Lent is a time of fasting and repentance in the spring, beginning on Ash Wednesday and ending several weeks later on Easter. Note: To “give something up for Lent” is to abandon a pleasurable habit as an act of devotion and self-discipline.

Okay, now that we have the technical definition out of the way, let’s get down to business! It’s not too unusual for people to compare notes on what they’re ‘doing for Lent.’ One of my friends related she was giving up sweets because she really enjoys them. When she asked what I am doing, I told her I’m working on more tolerance and less anger with my fellow motorists. I certainly didn’t say this to sound like I was working on something more important than she was. But, at this stage of my life, I realize that it’s more important to work on spiritual things and matters of the heart versus giving up some external food or drink that I like. I figure working on a bad habit is something I should be doing anyway, and when better than during Lent? After I die, I’m pretty certain I’m going to spend a lot of time in Purgatory before I get to the ‘pearly gates’ of heaven! Working on some of my spiritual shortcomings may decrease my time in Purgatory—hey, I can dream can’t I?

Now, what’s Purgatory, you ask. Purgatory, according to Catholic Church doctrine, is an intermediate state after physical death in which those destined for heaven “undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” Now is it clearer why I am working on spiritual things and how I hope it shortens my time in Purgatory? I once heard Purgatory referred to as ‘heaven’s waiting room.’ Sounds promising, but I know I hate to wait; what about you?

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

How do we spend the gift of time?

A young boy was asked by his mother to tell me what he liked (best, I guess) about my book From Agnostic to Deacon, A Story of Hope and Conversion. He said “the words.” I guess the mother either thought he misunderstood the question or wasn’t being very specific; so, she repeated the question. He again said “the words.” I thought to myself, he may become an author one day!

Speaking of words, one that keeps coming back to me lately is ‘time.’ Time is something we can spend, waste or kill. We can’t buy, rent, lease or sell it. It’s precious. We never have enough of it, which we call spare time. Time seems to slip through our fingers. I liken time to the little white highway lane markers. The older we get, the faster those markers seem to go by! If we don’t get around to things, we say we’ll do it sometime.

Now, for purposes of this blog, I’m not going to get too hung up on whether some of these terms should be hyphenated or whether or not they should be two words.

We refer to time in any number of ways from our meals, the military, music or musical terms, seasons, times of day or year, our work, and even entertainment: Meals: lunchtime, dinnertime, suppertime. Military or music: marks time (march in place without moving forward). Musical terms: ragtime, six-eight time, keeps time. Seasons of the year: wintertime, summertime, peak time (for leaves). Times of day: naptime, tea time, nighttime, mealtime, bedtime, daytime, noontime, playtime. Times of year: Daylight Savings Time, Christmastime. Work expressions: straight time (as opposed to overtime), lead time, flextime (to work a flexible schedule), full-time, part-time, break time, drive time. If we work too much, we need some downtime! If you watch the TV show Home Improvement, there’s something known as ‘tool time.’ Some other entertainment terms are: show time, airtime, prime time, (somebody hit the) bigtime. Some other ways we use the word time are: face time, lifetime, meantime, pastime, wartime, peacetime, and many others.

In the Bible in Matthew 10:39 we read: “He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it.” Part of what Jesus is asking us is how we use our time. Let’s think about this for a moment. Do we help others or do we only think of ourselves? We must strike a balance between caring for our own needs and those of others, between work and play/rest. How we spend our time is often an indication of our priorities, and sometimes the priority must be for ourselves. It’s wise to pray and decide how the time God gave us is spent.

From box wrestler to exterminator, I love my job, most of the time!

I love my job, most of the time. Almost daily I am asked for my autograph. FedEx and UPS must think I’m some sort of celebrity or something–NOT!

I have a window where I can see the weather. Most of my co-workers do not have a window and tell me how jealous they are. I see a lot of trees, but not much else. Occasionally, a skink, bird, squirrel or other creature will appear, but most of what I hear is planes from the airport.

A requirement for this job is to wrestle with boxes, breaking them apart for recycling. Sometimes, I think the box gets the better of the fight!

I get to go outside daily (in all kinds of weather) to take out and bring in the mail. It’s a challenge figuring out who gets what, even though I have an extensive list of instructions. Walking to the back of the building and back to the front is what I call the postal service fitness program!

I have to have eyes in the back of my head to see employees coming to the door to get in (without digging out their key).

Sometimes I will rescue a co-worker–at a moment’s panicked notice–from ‘monsters’ in her office. I get to play exterminator by getting rid of hairy things that look like millipedes, only worse. Don’t really know what their insect class is, but I’m the hero of the moment when my co-worker can relax that it’s finally gone and won’t bother her again…until the next one appears!

I have a co-worker who has an ongoing hate relationship with the postage machine, more like intimidation. She tries, but I end up taming the beast.

We have an ice machine that is intent on banging us on the head with its cover. Don’t know how we’ve offended it, but it keeps on with its mischievous behavior.

There are a lot of other things I do at work, too numerous to mention. It helps to have a sense of humor, especially on busy days when my boss and I are frazzled.

Lord, when I’m frazzled and overwhelmed—whether at work or wherever I am–help me to keep my perspective regarding what’s important right now and what can wait until later. Help me to listen to your Holy Spirit whispering amidst the clamor of daily life. Amen!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams