Categories
Ink Slingers

Everything is an Invitation

If it was possible, I believe this particular wedding invitation would have arrived with a slew of royal trumpet-players in its wake. Or maybe twelve doves carrying satin ribbons would have gently deposited the invitation in my hands before floating off into the clouds. Or maybe Ed McMahon would have knocked on my door and showered me with confetti and balloons as he hand-delivered this envelope.

This was a one-of-kind, no-holds-barred, attention-getting invitation for sure. There was no overlooking it among the stack of otherwise-mundane mail. It wanted me to see it. I had to see it.

It got me thinking: wouldn’t it be wonderful if everything God invites me to do was this obvious to me? Yes, I would appreciate that kind of in-your-face notification from my Creator, thank you very much.

The Father, Son and Holy Spirit send us invitations constantly. Sometimes the invitations arrive looking all fancy, like a formal wedding invitation with all the bells and whistles. We know when we see this invitation that we are being invited to something wonderful, and we are asked to RSVP. But most of the time, the God-invitations I receive are small and not quite so obvious. They aren’t pre-packaged and delivered with fanfare. They aren’t waved under my nose and yell “Hey, look at me!” No, the never-ending stream of invitations from above is usually hidden in the goings-on of everyday life: everyday conversations, everyday encounters and everyday opportunities to say “yes.” They are invitations to take that one small step. Do that one small thing. Help in that one small way. And they are easy to miss.

Every day I pray that my eyes are opened to the multiple invitations I receive to be an active participant in the Body of Christ. That I will recognize a chance to pray for someone, or forgive someone, or encourage someone. That I will seek out the “least of these” that Jesus talks about and provide some assistance to them. That I will love and serve others wherever and whenever I can. This doesn’t mean I have to drop everything and fly to Haiti on a mission trip (although I would love to do that someday). This means buying a few extra groceries when I’m at the store today so I can donate them to the local food bank. This means taking a few extra minutes to talk to the lonely widow down the road when she calls to tell me the same thing she told me yesterday. This means making the bed every morning, even though I often find it to be a waste of time, because I know my husband loves the feeling of crawling into a made bed after a long day.

I have always believed the principle among Christians that Everything is a Gift—that everything I own, do, and experience is a gift from God. This attitude helps me build a sense of humility and gratitude for God’s blessings on my life. But now I also subscribe to the concept that Everything is an Invitation.

This was my summary in a recent prayer journal entry: Beyond being grateful for my life as a Christ-Follower, I need to recognize and respond to the small-but-mighty invitations that Christ sends me to help build His Kingdom. Everything is an invitation—and I need to accept those invitations and RSVP with joy!

With or without any confetti. Or doves. Or Ed McMahon.

How do you try to recognize the little invitations you receive from God every day?

 

Categories
Ink Slingers

Resting in the Blessing of God’s Presence

My daughter, Addie, a blessing of God's presence

Addie (our five year old daughter with cystic fibrosis) had another clean culture last month: normal respiratory flora and normal vitamin levels. We’re all happy she’s had such good luck. And I do call it luck, not blessings or hard work paying off. I don’t know why saying, “We’re blessed,” bugs me so much. I know that all good things come from God. I also know that some Christians have terrible problems. The ending of Hebrews 11 (verses 32-40) tells of those who had miracle lives and those who “did not receive what was promised.” After all, Christ Himself said that the heavenly Father, “makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes the rain to fall on the just and the unjust.” God does not bless Addie more than Rees (our twenty-two year old with cystic fibrosis who has had more trouble with his health) and I do not work harder at taking care of her than I did Rees.

The chapel in our hospital where I have prayed in good times and in bad times, always resting in the blessing of God's presenceI’ve knelt in our hospital’s chapel after a CF clinic visit with a kid and given thanks together; and I’ve knelt in there alone, having signed over a kid upstairs for an admission. Tears both times, the crucifix and tabernacle before me a physical reminder of life’s true love and pain. I turn to God in good luck and in bad luck through this journey from womb to earth and beyond. We all get through on our own trajectory and Eternal Love surrounds us whatever the lab reports read. That surrounding by God is his blessing.

I don’t think to be blessed by God means health and prosperity. I think it means that we are watched by our Creator throughout this valley of the shadow of death where we fear no evil because he is there to comfort us. We are blessed, then. When the lab reports come back badly, we are blessed; and when they come back clear, we are blessed. He is with us.

I did a little digging on the word Blessed and found that it is used in the Scriptures several ways:

  • To praise God: Bless the Lord oh my soul.
  • As a desire for goodness: Blessed are you among women.
  • For sanctification: He took bread and blessed it.
  • As a gift: Children are a blessing.

I did not look these up to be an annoying know-it-all, though! I needed to make sense of things. And my studies blessed me (haha, yes).

A friend of mine lost her son last month and a friend of hers wrote about the question of blessings for some and not others (Why Us and Not Her?). We’re all trying to make sense of things, aren’t we? I wonder if I bristle at reports of health blessings because of the reminder that some are not blessed that way and the unfairness of it all exhausts me. It is still a good word, however, because it brings our focus back to God, so I need to not bristle (Help, Holy Spirit!).

I hope and pray for all of us, my Sistas, that we rest in the blessing of God’s presence in good luck and in bad luck. May we keep our eyes on Jesus this week especially ~ passion of Christ, strengthen us.

Psalm 23:4

Categories
Ink Slingers Michelle Pro-Life Issues Spiritual Growth Year of Mercy

How to Make a Blessing Bag

Blessing bag

A little over a week ago I returned from a mission trip with our parish youth group. We traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio to work with the Franciscans for the Poor. We worked at many different worksites throughout the city tending to those experiencing homelessness, poverty, and/or special needs. The trip was amazing and a wonderful reminder of not only how blessed we each are, but of how beautiful every single one of God’s children are, regardless of their circumstances and despite what our society tries to tell us.

homeless 1The world likes to think that all Americans are rich and each lives a life of luxury. The truth is that on any given night 564,708 people are experiencing homelessness. Over a half a million people have no place to call home. If we are the richest and best country in the world, how can so many of our brothers and sisters be without a place to rest their heads, to take a shower, or to eat a meal?

Our Catholic faith tells us that we are to take care of these people. The Corporal Works of Mercy tell us it is our Christian duty to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to give shelter to the homeless; to visit the sick; to visit the imprisoned; and to bury the dead.

It can be difficult to be able to take time off to visit the imprisoned or work in a soup kitchen. It is probably even harder for people to take an entire week off to travel hundreds of miles away to serve on a mission trip. While it can be challenging to figure out a way to serve, there is a very simple way that almost everyone can help those who are in need.

Blessing bags provide a simple way for us to reach out and touch the lives of those who are suffering. They allow us to connect in a way that tells those who are experiencing homelessness that we not only see them but that we value them and love them. A simple gesture, a blessing bag can provide the hope and the little bit of extra faith that those who are downtrodden need to just make it through one more day. You can easily keep them in your car to pass on to those you see in need of a little bit of help.

To make a blessing bag first collect the items you want to put in the bag. Some of the most important items that many people experiencing homelessness say they need and appreciate the most are toothbrushes, toothpaste, hand sanitizer, and socks. These items are always needed and yet they almost never have access to them. The ability to keep clean is often overlooked and yet those who are experiencing homelessness want to keep clean every bit as much as you and I.

blessing bag 2

In our bags we also put a small snack of a juice box, crackers, and a granola bar. We included a razor, tissues, and a small amount of money.

I know. I know… you are thinking that if you put in money they might by drugs or alcohol, right? Most people who are experiencing homelessness are not addicted to drugs or alcohol. Instead, they will use this money to buy a coffee or a small hot meal. Regardless of what they spend the money on it is a gesture of love and hope to offer it to them.  Please trust that your gift will be used in the manner most fitting to their circumstance.

Last, after packing your bag put a small note in to tell those you will give your blessing bag to that they are cherished and loved; that there is hope. Remind them that they can trust in Jesus and that He has not abandoned them.

blessing bag 3

A blessing bag is a small gesture of love and hope to someone who believes that the world has forgotten about them. It reminds them that despite their current circumstances they are cherished.

To many who are experiencing homelessness one of the greatest trials in their lives is the feeling that no one sees them and no one cares. Each day people pass without offering a glance or they spew hateful things at them. A blessing bag can counter the hate they experience and instead replace it with love. It can help to restore their dignity and their faith.

I have no doubt you have heard it said many times, “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.” Do something small today and it may be the biggest thing you ever do for someone. Our tiny gestures of love have the ability to change hearts, inspire hope, and fan the flames of a dying faith. Be the blessing that someone needs today.

believe 1