How Should I Pray Lord?

Recently, I was feeling rather concerned and overwhelmed about all the various issues facing our world. I was confused about how I should pray regarding them. How could I cover the bases, yet do a fair job of prayer? The following is the result of this discernment process:

NOVENA ON WORLD WOES

From terrorism, deliver us Lord.

From political chaos, deliver us Lord.

From moral chaos, deliver us Lord.

From transgenderism, deliver us Lord.

From abortion, deliver us Lord.

From sex- and human trafficking, deliver us Lord.

From senseless killings, deliver us Lord.

From funding of abortion, deliver us Lord.

From bullying of any kind, deliver us Lord.

From infringement of religious freedom, deliver us Lord.

From infringement of free speech, deliver us Lord.

For an end to sexual abuse, Lord hear our prayer.

For an end to domestic violence, Lord hear our prayer.

For an end to emotional abuse, Lord hear our prayer.

For an end to financial deception, Lord hear our prayer.

For an end to political correctness, Lord hear our prayer.

For an end to Satanism, Lord hear our prayer.

For an end to killing of Christians, Lord hear our prayer.

Regarding gay rights, enlighten them Lord.

Regarding gay marriage, enlighten them Lord.

Lord, open their eyes and hearts to Your will.

For those who don’t know God or who have turned their backs on Him, help them Lord.

Help our leaders to work together for what is right and to put aside politics. Grant them wisdom and right moral judgement.

Give us the strength and determination to pray, to hope, and to never give up regarding Your kingdom.

I hope this prayer helps you in your prayer life. Feel free to adapt it as you wish. You can pray it for 9 days straight, like a Novena. You can add an Our Father and/or a Hail Mary to the end of each phrase or however the Spirit moves you. Enjoy, and God bless!

That’s What Love Looks Like

A woman patiently helps her husband guide his walker down the aisle… That’s what love looks like.

 A caregiver is attentively feeding someone with a severe disability… That’s what love looks like.

 A receptionist waves good morning to a lonely old man going to work next door… That’s what love looks like.

 A friend patiently listens to some distress at work and offers to pray… That’s what love looks like.

 A husband with other plans stays home with a sick wife to help and support her… That’s what love looks like.

 A clergyman cries with a parishioner in their emotional pain… That’s what love looks like.

 A male classmate closes a window when someone feels a draft (even though he doesn’t understand why)… That’s what love looks like.

 Someone challenges her friend when she puts herself down… That’s what love looks like.

 Friends support one another when one of them is having a bad day, helping them talk through their difficulty and offering emotional support… That’s what love looks like.

Parents laugh and play with their firstborn child, a daughter with Down Syndrome… That’s what love looks like.

 A fellow immigrant offers to attend a series of classes she doesn’t have to attend to translate for her community… That’s what love looks like.

Co-workers find out one of their own walks a long distance to/from work. They and their managers get that worker his own transportation… That’s what love looks like.

These may not be the most dramatic examples of what love looks like, but there IS one:

 An innocent man is crucified between two thieves. He is Jesus Christ on the cross, and He died in our place for our sins… That’s what love looks like!

 Blog copyright © 2017 by Theresa M. Williams

 

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

Am I Dreaming? Pinch Me!

This has been my husband’s sentiment for approximately the past 2 weeks. Kevin started looking for something to replace his drugstore job after I got us on my benefits a couple of months ago. He’s in his late 50s, so he wasn’t sure what he’d be able to find. Like it or not, there IS age discrimination out there even though it’s illegal and immoral. I had lost track of how long Kevin has wanted to go into paid ministry full-time. This has been a dream of his for a very long time. As of Monday, he will be the director of youth ministry in our church. Kevin knows that he will be stretched in this new role. He has to start this youth program from scratch as we don’t currently have one. Although Kevin has no experience doing this, he’s not real nervous. In fact, he’s at peace with it. We both believe that since God led him to it, He’ll lead him through it. After all, God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called. 

Neither of us knows how God’s plans for Kevin’s new job might involve me. Will I participate at all? If so, will it be a little or a lot? What might my role be? I pray I am open to the Holy Spirit’s call. Something to think about for this New Year is how will you be called to serve in 2016? 

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

Prospero Aῆo Nuevo (Happy New Year)

When we entered the church on Christmas Eve, I wasn’t too surprised to hear our Hispanics singing the Jose Feliciano song entitled Feliz Navidad (Merry Christmas). You may have heard it before: It starts off: Feliz Navidad (3 times), prospero aῆo y felicidad (happiness). Then it goes into English for a bit: I want to wish you a Merry Christmas (2 times), I want to wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart. The song sounded so joyful, so full of celebration. It may seem irreverent to sing this in church, but to wish another well ‘from the bottom of my heart’ is a kind and generous gesture worth celebrating.

My wish for you in 2016 is not only a prosperous new year, but one filled with love, joy, peace, faith, trust and hope. May you be led safely through any ‘storms’ that come your way. May you continue to discern God’s purpose and calling in your life. May your friends and family support you when you need it most. God bless!

Copyright © 2016 by Theresa M. Williams

Good Things Come in Small Packages

This phrase usually describes some sort of gift, perhaps an expensive gift, like jewelry. I have another take on this. Recently, in the mall, my husband and I were walking to yet another store for some gifts. When we passed by some ballerinas performing to music, I stopped briefly to watch. Sure, I noticed the tall thin ladies, and they were very graceful and pretty. But what struck me was the ballerina in the front. She had very pretty but athletic legs. She had a beautiful innocent smile, and she was at least a head shorter than her fellow ballerinas. (You could say she came in a ‘smaller package.’) While I am well aware of height differences–being as short as I am–what I noticed was she didn’t seem to need the long thin legs the others had in order to be graceful. She made the most of what God had given her and did a very nice job.

No matter what size package WE come in, let us take the time to appreciate our differences but also take notice of what God has blessed each of us with. I’m not talking about merely physical attributes, but good things like a nice smile, a good attitude, a kind heart, a sense of humor, compassion, you get the idea. Let’s take note—not only during this holiday season, but all throughout the year–of what unique and special gifts our friends and acquaintances are to us. The attributes I described above are like small packages, and good things come in small packages!

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

The gates of hell shall not prevail

And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18 NRSV)

When I am tempted to feel discouraged about the persecution against the church, against Christianity, against all that is good, decent, right and true, I remember the words of Jesus. He tells us that He will prevail, that Satan has limited time, and that He (Jesus) is in charge! I would reword/summarize this Bible verse and state that evil shall not prevail.

It seems like we hear about abortion, adultery, alcoholism, corruption, drug dealing, serious illness, shootings, terrorism–to name but a few bad things–on a daily basis. Remember that Jesus and good will prevail. The last foe that He will conquer is death itself. 1 Corinthians 15:55-56 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

55 “Where, O death, is your victory?  Where, O death, is your sting?”

56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

During this Advent season, let us turn to the Price of Peace, Jesus Christ, for our comfort and hope. He is the Light of the World, the way out of darkness. Take courage, and do not be discouraged, for our King will prevail!

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Have we no shame?

I’ve just blogged about socks. Now it’s time to get serious.

At the risk of sounding old-fashioned or, gasp, old, I remember a time when we didn’t even think about putting ads on TV for feminine or incontinence products, hemorrhoid cream, men’s performance issues in the bedroom, etc. Now, we hear less about hemorrhoid cream and more about Viagra and Cialis. Is this all people think about? Good grief! Why not turn our attention to the higher things of life like how to improve our relationships, eat healthier meals, or manage our finances? Maybe if we thought more about those things, rather than having an over preoccupation with sex, we’d all be better off. I’m not trying to trivialize the need for getting proper medical help for a delicate personal issue, but it seems like we’re bombarded by the topic of sex in one form or another. If it isn’t drug therapy, it’s scantily clad women in an automobile ad, or worse. Maybe if we respected our bodies more and kept private the things that should remain private, we’d have a society with better morals. Just saying.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Allergic to socks?

Socks have been on my mind lately. I recently had a hole in one of them as I was getting ready for work. How very rude! 😦

I don’t know what percentage of people wear socks. I don’t know how many wear them only because they have to. I know of one lady who wears Birkenstock sandals–swears by them–but no socks. I’ve know her for some time, and I’ve only seen her wearing socks twice. Our nephew Sean, now in his 30’s, didn’t wear socks when he was younger, for whatever reason didn’t like them. (I think he wears them now though.) Some wear toe socks; I can’t imagine those being very comfortable!

So, just for fun, do you wear socks? Do you like to or only because you have to? I know this is an odd topic for me, but every once in a while it’s nice to mix things up and not take things so seriously.

May your feet be happy. May they be warm. May you never take this humble, but necessary, part of your body for granted. May they serve you well.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Happy Thanksgiving

Today, in the United States, we celebrate what we call Thanksgiving. Depending on what country you’re from, you may not have this holiday. Thanksgiving is a chance to not just eat lots of food, but to pause and count our blessings: faith, friends, relatives, jobs, food (of course), clothing and shelter, spouses, co-workers, (your blessings here). One of the things I can add to my ‘grateful list’ this year is that Thanksgiving is the first paid holiday I’ve had in 7 ½ years.

We all have a lot more to be thankful for than we realize. We take much for granted. If we sat down to make a list of what we’re grateful for, it might surprise us. So whether you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday in your country or not, I urge you to pause and remember the things you are thankful for. It will be time well spent. Have a safe and blessed Thanksgiving!

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Entombment of poor self-esteem

How do I know if I have poor self-esteem, you may ask. It may be that your self-esteem is not poor, but you could still have a wounded image of yourself that needs healing. Here are some signs:

  1. You need the compliments or approval of others to feel good about yourself. This could also be a symptom of approval addition if the need for the approval is too great.
  2. You say unnecessarily negative things to yourself about yourself.
  3. You emotionally beat yourself up for making a mistake, doing something stupid, missing an appointment, being late, and so on.
  4. You believe you’re not worthy of being treated well or fairly. Note: There’s a difference between being humble and letting others emotionally walk all over you.

There are many other signs, but I’ll address these things. Some ways to combat these symptoms are:

  1. To combat approval addition:
  1. List the areas in which you hunger for approval or compliments from others, i.e. your work, appearance, cooking, housecleaning, mechanical skills, problem solving, to name a few.
  2. Next, write down beside each area what it is you believe about yourself, for example appearance: I’m not pretty (or handsome).
  3. Dig a little deeper. Is there some practical thing you can do about the situation? Face products (makeup, wrinkle cream), weight loss?
  4. Think about all your positives, the things you do well, what’s unique about you (what talents you have that others may not). Celebrate those. Remember that beauty is only skin deep. Others may look great on the outside but be ugly on the inside by being mean, inconsiderate, etc.
  5. If you have friends, ask them what they like about you. If you have to, tell them you want to learn more about yourself. You might be surprised about what you learn.
  1. The world will direct enough negative against you as it is. You don’t need any more from within you. If you have negative friends or friends that don’t respect you, consider forming relationships with more positive people.
  2. Again, others will beat you up enough (emotionally). If you really need to work on something, i.e. being late, then take steps toward the goal of being on time. Being on time is rather important.
  3. Know there’s room for improvement, but you don’t have to be perfect. Cut yourself a little slack.
  4. What’s behind the feeling or idea of unworthiness? Do people overlook you, ignore you or disrespect you? Are people (unjustly) criticizing you or treating you badly? Are you comparing yourself to someone else (i.e. they’re a better (fill in blank) than I am)? If you’re a good person and others are not playing nice, it says more about them than it does about you.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

On Getting Older

I know some of you following this blog are older than I am, and I’d love for you to share some of the positive things you’ve learned as you’ve gotten older.

It’s funny, turning 50 wasn’t that big a deal for me. Turning 55 was ‘hitting the speed limit’ and kind of humorous to talk about. This past year when I turned 57, laughing about my age was a bit more challenging. It’s like ‘Oh no, I’m almost 60!’ I guess I need to take my maternal grandmother’s attitude, that age is just a number, and it is (just a number)! On Facebook yesterday, I ran across a post about a couple that had been married 80 years, yes 80! The husband still had that ‘cat that ate the canary smile’ on his face, and they were holding hands. It was so sweet. Those of you who go to my church have probably met a couple named Grace and Roy that are very devoted to each other. She’s the love of his life, and she speaks so lovingly of him. I hate to think of either of them without the other; that’s sad.

I recently realized that some things that used to get me riled up no longer do. I seem to be calmer and happier. (Of course, the fact that I have a job I like might have something to do with this.) In any case, I have some theories as to why this might be. Could it be I’m learning to be more patient? Maybe I’m just tired of some of life’s stupid dramas.  Maybe some things just no longer matter. The jury’s still out on the answer, but does it really matter? I want to focus on things that DO matter, like what should be on my ‘bucket list.’ (To you who’ve never seen the movie ‘The Bucket List,’ these friends have a list of things they want to do before they die or ‘kick the bucket.’) I want to consider what kind of (further) legacy I will leave on this earth. What do I still want to achieve? Where does God want to lead me with my writing abilities? How do I want to be remembered? What work does He still have for me to do? Time will tell. Life is an adventure. God is good. The next ‘chapter’ of my life is yet to be written, and God is the divine author… Where does He want to lead you?

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Did I Meet An Angel in Disguise?

My boss and I were recently discussing employees, how people are so different from each other, and how we can misjudge them. I described to her one lady who worked for me as a temp. (For purposes of this article, I will call her Trudy.) When she came in, I was shocked. Trudy’s clothes resembled those of a homeless person. While they were clean, they were quite worn. I must tell you my first, not-so-favorable impression was not my final impression of Trudy. Thank goodness! Let me explain. I trained Trudy, and she asked good questions. She learned well and did very good work. I learned that Trudy took public transportation every day. Since our location in Rock Hill was off Dave Lyle Boulevard, she had to walk a considerable distance from her drop-off point (near the freeway) to our office. Trudy could have very easily given up, saying it was too hard, yet she never complained about it. She was pleasant, and I enjoyed having Trudy work for me. At some point during her stay, Trudy had some family/personal issues that prevented her from continuing to work with us. She was sad to leave and really wanted to stay. We loved Trudy, and she loved us. She hugged us and told us she would miss us. We hated to see her go and would miss Trudy’s spirit. 

When I finished relating this story to my boss, she said ‘You know, sometimes we are tested. She could have been an angel in disguise.’ I was stunned that this had never even occurred to me. Indeed Trudy could have been an angel in disguise. If she was, I wonder if I passed the test. 

This incident should teach us all something. We never know where or how we will meet Christ, or an angel, incognito, in disguise. Are our hearts prepared? 

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Holy Listening – part 2

The ‘know it all:’ You think the person speaking to you can’t possibly tell you something you don’t already know, so why listen? After all, you know everything, right?

Action: Just listen. You may discover something new, a different perspective, maybe even something useful and important.

The interrupter: Getting ahead of others, finishing their thoughts, acting as though what you have to say is more important than what they have to say. You’re presuming/assuming what they will say.

Action: If there’s a long pause, be patient and let them figure out their thought before they resume speaking.

The ‘one upper:’ Saying ‘oh, that’s nothing,’ and then comparing your experience to theirs such that yours ends up being bolder, better, and more dramatic. This minimizes what the other is saying and makes you look arrogant and them look/feel stupid—a definite ‘no no.’

Action: If you want to know more about their experience, ask gentle, polite questions or say ‘tell me more.’

General rule: If you’re unable to listen at the moment:

If possible, politely tell the person that now is not a good time to talk because you realize you can’t listen properly.

Ask to postpone the conversation until you can focus.

These behaviors and bad listening habits can definitely turn people off and make a negative impression. Do you really want to do that? Sometimes you don’t get another chance to make a good impression.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Holy Listening

When we are listening to someone, we need to remember that we are listening to a child of God. That person is God’s creation. It is important that we honor that. One way we can grow in holiness is to learn to listen with the heart and not just with the mind.

I want to relate to you some things I’ve learned and observed about how we listen (or don’t listen) that may be of benefit to you.

How well do you listen to others? Here are some (bad) habits you (or others you know) may have:

Motor Running: You physically hear what the person is saying, but you’re busy formulating your response rather than really listening.

Action: If your motor is always running, try to tune out what is distracting you from listening.

The Fixer: Similar to motor running. You are thinking of ways to fix an issue when you haven’t listened to the entire dialogue. It could be your response would be different if you listen to the entire story first. After all, how can you give a proper response to something when you haven’t let the person finish speaking?

Action: Realize that you may not have to fix something. It may be the person just needs someone to listen. Taking that pressure off to find a solution frees you to be present to them and just listen.

Tuning out/mind wandering: In this case, you’re really being inattentive. Unless you focus on what is actually being said as well as the spirit in which it’s said, you won’t receive or perceive the real message. You take a chance on misunderstanding, and that can be a dangerous thing. They could be telling you something important, either for them or yourself.

Remember that listening–hearing the words being spoken–is only 7% of communication. That means that 93% is nonverbal! Breaking that 93% down, 55% is body language and 38% is tone of voice. Is the individual sad, agitated, excited or sarcastic?

Action: To listen in a holy way, you must listen to the message behind the words. You must listen with your heart. Then, real communication becomes possible.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

Contact, Interviews, Guest Blogs, and Questions

I have had trouble responding by email to several of you who either wished to interview me, asked me if I’m interested in guest authoring on your blog or simply had a question. You may email me at fromagnostictodeacon@hotmail.com or contact me through my Contact Me button.

Additionally, I am entertaining the thought of guest writers for my blog. If you wish to be considered, send me an email at fromagnostictodeacon@hotmail.com. Please give me an idea or a sample of a topic you’d like to write about, and I will consider it. I ask that you keep the post under 320 words. Please understand that your contribution may be edited, and there is no monetary compensation for your post as I am a part-time blogger. Clearly indicate your email address so I may contact you if accepted. There may be a delay in getting back to you, and thanks for your interest.

Helping “lost” souls

As some of you are aware, my husband Kevin and I are volunteer chaplains at the airport. There is one particular area out there we visit on a regular basis. Some of the volunteers joke with us about “helping lost souls.” We’re not there to convert anyone. Our primary function at the airport is to be Jesus for others however they need it. We listen. We help people find food, give them directions to their gate, concourse, baggage claim, restrooms, you name it. Some Sundays, Kevin and I are also there to assist at Catholic Mass and conduct an interfaith service for employees, passengers, and flight crew. We console people in their grief. We rejoice in their good news. We pray together, break open the word, and we facilitate a restful spiritual oasis in the midst of airport chaos, even if just for a short time. So, yes we are helping lost souls at the airport, just not in the way you might think.

Copyright © 2015 by Theresa M. Williams

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Return of the jellybeans

To those of you who have read about Kevin’s childhood, this will make sense.  If you haven’t, this may not.

A few days after Kevin’s sisters got their books in the mail, I found a box on our front step that said ‘Jelly Belly’ on the side. We didn’t order anything from them! I wondered if someone just read the book and this was the result. I suspected a family member sent the jellybeans, but I decided to wait until we opened the box. Inside was a 3-lb. canister of jellybeans with a card inside that said ‘Hey Kevin…just a small gift from your bratty sisters, lol. Love, Barbara and Clare.’ I thought that was nice. Kevin finally got his jellybeans. Have a jellybean day! 🙂

No butterflies near oceans

There aren’t butterflies near the ocean!

Someone from my church made that comment to me as I was showing her and her husband the cover of my book From Agnostic to Deacon. She suggested that a seagull would be more appropriate than a butterfly. I looked at her and told her there was a very good reason a butterfly was shown rather than a seagull. I urged her to read the book and, in particular, a certain chapter that would explain all about the significance of butterflies.

The cover of the book shows two sets of footprints converging, representing Kevin and I meeting each other. The footprints then continue on side by side in the sand, representing our journey together. A yellow butterfly is shown near those sets of footprints and represents God’s goodness. Read the book to learn why yellow butterflies mean so much to us. Not only do I not have room to explain here, I don’t want to spoil it for you. Have a yellow butterfly day!

Update on paperback and Kindle status

From Agnostic to Deacon, both the printed and Kindle versions are now available on Amazon. Amazon has also set up the “Look Inside” feature if you are curious. The Kindle version shows part of chapter 1 while the printed version “Look Inside” feature shows most of the Timeline. Happy reading!

Here’s the link to Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=from+agnostic+to+deacon&rh=n%3A283155%2Ck%3Afrom+agnostic+to+deacon