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Allison Allison Welch Conversion Evangelization Ink Slingers Offering your suffering Prayer Spiritual Growth

What I Learned in the Walmart Parking Lot

Life weighed heavy on me: the loss of employment and relationships and financial difficulties that go with it; a son’s medical issues and the looming threat of the death of his well-fought-for dream; aging parents with health problems. And within weeks, I would live in an empty nest for the first time in more than two decades. The best of life, it seemed, was behind me.

As I walked to my car feeling sorry for myself, I noticed an older woman shuffling slowly toward me. She was leaning heavily on her shopping cart like a walker. At the rate she moved, it would be at least a 10-minute trek just to enter the store. I should be grateful, I thought.

As I loaded my purchases into the car, I felt a persistent urge to offer her one of the small pink mums I shouldn’t have bought.

“Would you like some flowers?,” I asked awkwardly.

“I drive a truck; I don’t have any place to keep them,” she said matter-of-factly. “But thank you.”

I fought back the familiar feeling of failure. Clearly, the persistent urge to reach out to her hadn’t been from the Holy Spirit. Or was it? The prompting, it turns out, was not about what I had to offer her, but what she had to offer me.

“Have a blessed day,” she said, as though it were secret code for I’m a believer, too.

“You, too,” I replied. We’re family.

“I will,” she insisted, “Every day is blessed.”

There was a pause where I began to consider her attitude. How does she do it? As if answering my thought, she added, “Some days are just more blessed than others.”

Walmart parking lot wisdom.

The priceless, eternal wealth of the Saints offered freely in the superstore’s parking lot…who knew? The sermon on the plain, the sermon on the mount. It comes to us from the elderly, the infirm, and the poor. Surrounded by suffering, they are blessed. Happy. Low in the valley or high on the mountain, independent of circumstances, blessings abound.

This elderly, infirm, truck-driving woman reminded me that God is good. All the time. God created good. “All things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28). What is good is the only thing that’s real; all else will pass. Perhaps St. Teresa of Avila said it best: “In light of heaven, the worst suffering on earth will be seen to be no more serious than one night in an inconvenient hotel.”

It’s okay to acknowledge the bad things that happen, but we should resist the temptation to dwell on them. “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things” (Phil 4:8). This is where we are called to dwell: In the good. We must train our minds like athletes for the big game.

Consider this: Every.  Day.  Is.  Blessed. Some days are just more blessed than others. 

Homework:

What weighs heavily on you, readers?  It’s okay to acknowledge it, just don’t live there. Name the distractions and discouragements and offer them to God, asking him to do what he does best. He can transform them, making them work for our good. Amen and alleluia.

Now, go!  Collect your blessings!

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Charla Ink Slingers

Love is Patient, Love is Wise

I am a wife, mother, and teacher.  Patience is probably the most important requirement of all my vocations, but it is also my greatest challenge.  I am so blessed that God has given me the roles he has in my life; I am not only asked, but required to exhibit LOVE in these roles.  “Love is patient.” (1 Corinthians 13:4)  I love my husband; I love my children; I love my students, but ironically they try my patience in ways that no other people in my life do.  Isn’t God funny that way?  I am going to make you a wife, mother, and teacher, but you are going to be by nature impatient.  However, is this really God’s doing? Or my own?  What God definitely did bestow me with is love, so if love is patient, God did indeed give me patience; I just tend to forget sometimes.

My impatience quite often comes from, not an innate flaw of the inability to be patient, but from my own selfishness.  The desire to have things my own way—done my way and seen my way.  My own pride and self-serving tendencies must be fought off if I have any desire to be patient.  My frustration level rises and rises and then I do not feel loving at all.  I am not who God means for me to be—which is a loving human being.  So just when I berate myself for being human and flawed, and impatient, I find solace in these words of wisdom from St. Francis de Sales: “Have patience with all things, but chiefly have patience with yourself. Do not lose courage in considering your own imperfections but instantly set about remedying them – every day begin the task anew.” How remarkably that what I can regard as selfish, ultimately comes back to just that: myself.  Just how can I expect to be patient with others if I cannot be patient with the one person I live with day in and day out?  It will come full circle, because in essence, God is asking me to love myself.  Again, “Love is patient.”  I have to trust that since God loves me, I am indeed lovable, therefore, I am deserving of patience myself.  If I keep these premises in mind, I can be that loving and patient, wife, mother and teacher.  If I speak to myself with love, I will speak to them with love; patience is a by-product of love.

If I could ask God for any gift, as an educator this is an easy one, I would ask for wisdom.  I would like to say it would be patience, but my first inclination would be like that of King Solomon.  Wisdom would make my life complete.  However, my quest for knowledge and wisdom comes right back to my original challenge, because St. Augustine says “Patience is the companion of wisdom.”  So, if love is patient, and wisdom accompanies patience, with wisdom, also comes love.  So many virtues that all come down this: Love.  And as Catholics, and as Christians, we know God is love.  All these confusing connections tell me one thing: I must seek God, because it is only through Him that I receive wisdom, love, and, back to my original challenge patience.

I must seek God who is Love; when I encounter Love, I find Patience; when I discover Patience, I experience Wisdom; when I gain Wisdom, I have found God.

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Ink Slingers Michelle Spiritual Growth Uncategorized

Sharing My Words of Wisdom

This summer the teens of our parish went on a mission trip as they do each summer. This year they went to Catholic Heart Work Camp to volunteer in Orlando helping the needy.  As with every year we were asked to write letters to our children to encourage them during their long week of service.   I wrote letters for my children to open each day. I assigned the days I wanted them to read them.  It was a labor of love but I wanted them to know how proud I was of their sacrifices.  They are becoming amazing teens!

So proud of the amazing people they are becoming!

We were encouraged to write to the other kids who were also on the trip.  They would need words of encouragement to help get them through the long days ahead of them. The more people writing to all of the kids, the better!  I prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide me while I wrote my letter to them.  It would be photocopied (as were all letters from parishioners to hand out to the teens) and distributed on the day that our youth leader deemed fit.  I started writing.   I wanted my letter to be different than others they would receive and I hoped that it would help them not just while they were gone on the mission trip but also during their daily lives as well.

I thought I would share part of that letter here, with you, so that perhaps it may help you through the hard times that crop up in your life.  I know that these particular ideals have helped me get through some of the hardest times in my life.

Words of Wisdom from Michelle
(to help you through the week and through life)

  • Smile.  You never know what an impact your smile might make on someone else today!
  •  Pray.  Pray that God will work through your words and actions each and every day so that everyone who encounters you will encounter Him.
  • Love. See Jesus in each person and show them the love you would show Him.
  • Eat.  Eat chocolate every day.  Seriously.  I promise it makes you feel better. Ok, maybe it just makes me feel better but chocolate is oh, so good!
  • Sing.  Sing in the shower, in the car, while you are working, while you are praying.  Singing makes your heart smile and puts an extra spring in your step.
  • Hope.  There is always something to hope for.  Life can seem hard but there is always something to look forward to, even if it’s just the chance for a better day tomorrow.
  • Laugh.  Each day find something to laugh about.  When we can laugh even the hardest day doesn’t seem as hard.
  • Trust.  Don’t build fences around yourself and lock everyone out.  Trust that God has put the right people in your path.  Trust that they will help you through whatever you are going through.  Trust that God loves you and wants what’s best for you.
  • Play.  Every day find some time to play.  Don’t forget what it feels like to be a kid.  Be responsible but make sure you have fun too.  Playing will keep you young.
  • Respect.  Respect yourself and others.  God is amazing and He has given you so much.  Respect those people who God gives you to help you through it all… your parents, your teachers, your priests, your friends, and of course, always respect yourself as well.
  • Give.  Give of yourself.  Give your time, your talent, your treasures, and your love.  You can’t believe how much you get back in return when you give freely to others.
  • Serve.  We are called to be servants to each other.  Serve with a happy heart.  When we serve others we serve God.
  • Believe.  Believe in God.  Believe in miracles.  Believe that God made you in His perfect image. Believe that God loves you.  Believe that you are important.  Believe that in Him all things are possible.  Believe that God can work through you.  Believe that you can make a difference!

In a world where I understand so little, it’s nice to know that I can fall back on these pearls of wisdom to keep me on the right path.  I hope that they will help you too.  You are important.  The things you do with your life are important.  Smile, pray, love, eat, sing, hope, laugh, trust, play, respect, give, serve, and believe… when you do, you will find your life has so much joy in it that you can’t help but be happy.