A FEW THOUGHTS THIS WEEK FOR A VERY HECTIC TIME OF THE YEAR.
WHILE THE WORLD AROUND YOU IS SHOUTING TO GET YOUR ATTENTION TODAY, BE SURE TO MAKE A QUIET MOMENT OR TWO FOR YOURSELF. IT’S AS NECESSARY AS HAVING SOMETHING TO DRINK.
DO YOU EVER FEEL LIKE GOD DOESN’T TREAT EVERYONE THE SAME. WELL, OF COURSE HE DOESN’T! THAT’S PRETTY OBVIOUS. BUT HE LOVES US ALL THE SAME. ITS UP TO ME AND YOU TO FIGURE OUT HOW THAT WORKS.
THE FATHER SENT HIS SON TO RESTORE THE BODY AS WELL AS THE SOUL OF EACH PERSON. THAT MUST BE WHAT YOU AND I ARE SUPPOSED TO BE DOING SINCE WE WORK HERE. NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO HERE, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE IN SOMEONE’S DAY.
HELPING PEOPLE IN PAIN IS PART OF THE JOB HERE, NOT JUDGING WHY THEY’RE IN PAIN. SURE, WE HAVE FEELINGS, POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE, ABOUT THE PEOPLE WE TAKE CARE OF AND WORK WITH.
REMEMBER, YOU COULD BE THE ONLY ONE THAT GIVES THEM SOMETHING POSITIVE THIS WEEK.
THE LORD DRAWS YOU CLOSER TO HIM THROUGH THE PEOPLE AROUND YOU. WHAT A BLESSING FOR YOU TO BE AROUND SOMEONE HERE AT WORK AND BE THE ONE THAT DRAWS THEM CLOSER TO THE LORD.
THIS IS THE DAY THAT “WILL LIVE IN INFAMY” ACCORDING TO PRESIDENT ROSSEVELT. OTHER DAYS OF INFAMY HAVE FOLLOWED. A DAY OF INFAMY IS A TRAGIC DAY THAT FOREVER ALTERS THE COURSE OF HISTORY, LIKE 11/22/63 OR 9/11/O1. WE HAVE OUR OWN PERSONAL DAYS OF INFAMY. FOR ME ONE WAS 8/25/03. DON’T LET THAT DAY DESTROY YOU BUT MAKE YOU STRONGER. IT WILL HAPPEN IF YOU WANT IT.
IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS YET BUT ARE YOU ALREADY WISHING IT WAS OVER? TO MUCH OF THE WRONG THINGS TAKING UP YOUR TIME, ENERGY AND MONEY? WORRYING ABOUT THINGS THAT REALLY WONT MATTER MUCH NEXT MONTH? DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR OWN TIME AND ENERGY AND MONEY. LET THOSE THINGS HELP YOU HAVE THE KIND OF CHRISTMAS YOU REALLY WANT AND THAT WILL MATTER TO YOU AND THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE.
Reflections on Compassion 11.18.19
“All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we’re giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s one of the things that connects us as neighbors–in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.”
As those who are working in the helping professions (and that is really all of us) helping others is what we have felt a call to do. We give help, but we also need help and that is our goal with one another to be both a giver and receiver of help.
“In times of stress, the best thing we can do for each other is to listen with our ears and our hearts and to be assured that our questions are just as important as our answers.”
Today’s world is filled with stress. Often people are sharing problems and we want to offer solutions, but in truth what we really need to offer is our listening ears. When in a stressful time the most compassionate thing we have to offer is to truly hear what is being said.
“Listening is where love begins: listening to ourselves and then to our neighbors.”
Last week was Kindness day. Doesn’t that sound like a good idea, every day? One of the best teachers of kindness in the modern age has been Mr. Roger’s and while I missed cardigan day I don’t want to miss the intention of being kind to all those around me even when or maybe especially when I don’t feel like being kind.
“Some days, doing ‘the best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect on any front-and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.”
How often do you feel like you’re –just getting by-, doing the best I can and recognizing you are still not doing enough – or at least as much as is needed. Don’t expect from yourself what is not possible to do, sometimes you have to cut yourself a break with your expectations. But we also need to do that with those around us. You never know what those around you are struggling with on any given day – choose to be kind to them.
“There is no normal life that is free of pain. It’s the very wrestling with our problems that can be the impetus for our growth.”
I would not choose pain. I really don’t like it at all. But pain is a normal part of life whether it is physical pain, emotional or spiritual. Pain is what will cause us to make changes in our lives because change is challenging and never easy. Don’t wait to make the painless change, there really aren’t any – go ahead and make the changes that say you are growing and getting better.
Imagine what our real neighborhoods would be like if each of us offered, as a matter of course, just one kind word to another person.”
In a world where we try not to acknowledge the people around us, we want to make a difference. Chose to make a difference and say something kind to those around you – at work, at home, at the store or in your neighborhood. Don’t wait for someone else to initiate kindness.
Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.
A while back I paid $90 for the repair person to unplug my refrigerator and plug it back it. That fixed it. While I suppose I was grateful that it was not worse – it was a very expensive unplug. That is what we are supposed to try first with our electronics, too and it often works. We need that same unplugging – that restart ourselves will help us also work better.
Reflections for the week of November 11
IN THE LIFE OF FAITH NOVEMBER IS THE MONTH WE REMEMBER OUR LOVED ONES WHO HAVE DIED. IT IS ALSO THE MONTH THAT VETERANS’S DAY IS CELEBRATED. OUR REFLECTIONS THIS WEEK WILL FOCUS ON OUR DECEASED VETERANS AND THE FREEDOMS THEY HAVE BOUGHT AND PAID FOR IN OUR BLESSED AMERICA. I FOUND THESE 8 FREEDOMS IN MY CHURCH NEWSLETTER SO I’M SHARING THEM WITH YOU THIS WEEK WITH A LITTLE REFLECTION ON EACH ONE.
THE VETERAN HAS GIVEN US: FREEDOM OF RELIGION, FREEDOM OF THE PRESS, FREEDOM OF SPEECH, THE FREEDOM TO ASSEMBLE, THE FREEDOM OF A FAIR TRIAL, THE RIGHT TO VOTE AND THE FREEDOM TO SALUTE THE FLAG
MONDAY 11/11/19 – TODAY IS VETERANS DAY SO WE LET OUR PATRIOTISM SHINE BRIGHTLY AND OUR FLAGS FLOW FREELY. IT’S THE VETERAN, NOT THE PREACHER,WHO HAS GIVEN US THE FREEDOM OF RELIGION. LIKE OTHER FREEDOMS WE CAN EASILY TAKE THIS ONE FOR GRANTED. PRACTICE THE FAITH YOU PROFESS. OTHERWISE ST PAUL TELLS US WE ARE A NOISY GONG AND A CLANGGING SYMBOL. REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE ABOUT GOD, OR HOW YOU LIVE OUT THAT BELIEF, IT IS YOUR GUIDE. AND IF YOU DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD THEN YOU PROBABLY AT LEAST BELIEVE IN TREATNIG PEOPLE WELL IN YOUR MORAL COMPASS AND GOD BLESS YOU FOR DOING THAT. THANK YOU VETERANS FOR OUR FREEDOM OF RELEGION.
TUESDAY 11/12/19 -IT IS THE VETERAN, NOT THE REPORTER, WHO HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. LIKE OTHER FREEDOMS WE CAN EASILY TAKE THIS ONE FOR GRANTED. REGARDLESS OF WHAT YOU THINK OR FEEL ABOUT THE PRESS, BE THANKFUL THAT WE HAVE A PRESS. REGARDLESS OF YOUR POLITICAL PERSUASION OR MORAL BELIEFS, WE’RE CALLED TO BE INFORMED AND EDUCATED ON WHAT’S GOING ON AROUND US. WE’RE THANKFUL GOD HAS GIVEN US THE WISDOM AND INTELLIGENCE TO SORT OUR FACT FROM FICTION. THANK YOU VETERANS FOR OUR FREEDOM OF THE PRESS.
WEDNESDAY 11/13/19 IT’S THE VETERAN, NOT THE POET,WHO HAS GIVEN US FREEDOM OF SPEECH. WHAT A BLESSING TO BE ABLE TO SPEAK OUR MIND. IT SHOULD BE DONE WITHOUT FEAR OF REPERCUSSION. BUT WE KNOW IT COMES AT A PRICE. PHYSICAL, POLITICAL, SOCIAL DANGERS LURK AROUND THE CORNER WHEN YOU SAY WHAT YOU FEEL. THAT’S WHY GOD GIVES US THE GIFT OF FORTITUDE, THE COURAGE TO SAY AND DO WHAT THE MOMENT CALLS FOR. THANK YOU VETERANS FOR OUR FREEDOM OF SPEECH
THURSDAY 11/14/19 IT IS THE VETERAN, NOT THE MARCH OR PROTEST ORGANIZER, WHO HAS GIVEN US THE FREEDOM TO ASSEMBLE. BEING A PART OF A CROWD CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING. YOU KNOW IF YOU’VE EVER TAKEN PART IN SOME SORT OF PROTEST OR MARCH. YOU GIVE UP SOME CONTROL TO THE SPIRIT OF THE GROUP TO BE A PART OF AN ASSEMBLY THAT HAS A MESSAGE TO SHARE AND SHOUT OUT. THANK YOU VETERANS FOR THE FREEDOM TO ASSEMBLE.
FRIDAY 11/15/19 IT IS THE VETERAN, NOT THE LAWYER, WHO HAS GIVEN US THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL. THE FIGHT FOR JUSTICE IS AN ONGOING BATTLE. SOME GET JUSTICE AND SOME SEEM TO BE ROBBED OF IT. I’M GLAD I LIVE IN A COUNTRY WERE I CAN WORK TO IMPROVE AND PERFECT THIS BASIC RIGHT AS FLAWED AS IT SOMETIMES IS. NOT EVERYONE WANTS JUSTICE. BUT WHEN YOU DO THEN YOU KNOW YOU WANT WHAT IS RIGHT. THANK YOU VETERANS FOR THE RIGHT TO A FAIR TRIAL.
SATURDAY 11/16/19 IT IS THE VETERAN, NOT THE POLITICIAN, WHO HAS GIVEN US THE RIGHT TO VOTE. LAST TUESDAY WAS ELECTION DAY IN OHIO AND MOST ISSUES WERE LOCAL. ABOUT 25-30% OF THOSE ELIGIBLE VOTED. RATHER THAN FEEL BAD THAT ONLY ¼ OF THOSE ELIGIBLE VOTED, BE HAPPY THE OPPORTUNITY IS THERE AND THAT SO MANY TOOK ADVANTAGE OF IT. THANK YOU VETERANS FOR THE RIGHT TO VOTE.
SUNDAY 11/17/19 IT IS THE VETERAN, NO ONE ELSE, WHO GIVES US THE FREEDOM TO SALUTE THE FLAG. WHEN I SALUTE THE FLAG I FEEL I AM PLEDGING ALLEGIENCE TO MY COUNTRY WITH ALL OF ITS BLESSINGS AND IMPERFECTIONS. I AM EXPRESSING MY COMMITMENT TO IDEALS, CORE VALUES THAT ARE IN PLACE IN SOME WAY AND IN SOME FORM. I AM COMMITTING MYSELF TO WORKING HARD TO PUT THEM IN PLACE WHERE THEY ARE MISSING. THANK YOU VETERANS FOR THE FREEDOM I HAVE TO SALUTE THE FLAG, TO HANG IN ON MY PORCH, TO PLANT MANY OF THEM IN MY YARD AND TO PUT IT ON MY PARENTS GRAVES. AND THANK YOU GOD FOR THESE MEN AND WOMEN WHO ARE VETERANS.
Start a Gratitude Journal
The heart of man is like deep water. A gratitude journal can help draw out insight that can change your life.
“The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters, but one who has insight draws them out.” —Proverbs 20:5
If life seems a little mundane, one of the best things you can do is start a gratitude journal. There are great benefits to writing down with regularity, authenticity, and transparency the things for which we’re grateful.
But first you must evaluate your motivation for doing a gratitude journal. If it’s just to appease someone else—not based on your own desire to live a fuller and happier life by becoming more aware of what you have—then it likely will not have much effect on you.
Focusing on the relationships you have rather than the stuff you’ve acquired will have a greater impact on you. Think less, not more. Consider what your life would be without the blessings you currently enjoy. This will help you become more aware of and grateful for those blessings already present in your life.
A gratitude journal can help draw out insight that can change your life. It is a wonderful way to start developing a lasting attitude transformation.
What are practical ways that you could invest more energy in being intentionally thankful?
In five minutes, how many blessings can you count?
Purchase a notebook and start a gratitude journal. You don’t have to write in your journal every day, but do commit to writing at least twice a week. Try this for six weeks and see if it makes a difference in how much you appreciate the blessings of life.
Learning from Piglet
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” —A. A. Milne, Winnie the Pooh
“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God, whose word I praise— in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” —Psalm 56:3–4
I enjoyed reading A. A. Milne’s stories to my children when they were young. They always rooted for Piglet, the small and timid best friend of the story’s hero, Winnie the Pooh. I liked Piglet’s mind-set most of all.
Sometimes it can feel like life is all about competition and rivalry. Kids are told they must work their hardest to be stronger and more successful than their peers. We are told to pursue our ambitions and not let anything stand in our way. But not everyone can end up at the top.
What is it that makes some people grateful for what they have while others just want more and more? What creates such a distinct sense of entitlement in some while others seem quite satisfied with what they have, even in times of adversity?
Gratitude can light up your world instantly. Piglet seems to live in constant anxiety, yet he is a great friend because “his heart could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.” Despite his small stature and timidity, he shifts his mind-set toward gratefulness in order to conquer his fears.
In what areas of life are you more focused on rivalry and ambition than on being grateful for what you already have?
Who do you know who seems satisfied with what they have in life? Do you admire that person or believe their focus hurts them more than it helps them?
In your journal, write down the areas in your life that you think may benefit from shifting your attitude toward gratitude. Interview someone you know who seems satisfied with and grateful for life’s blessings. Ask them how they maintain a focus of gratitude.
Days of Thanksgiving
Adversity can cultivate an attitude of gratefulness. It helps us remember not to take life for granted.
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” —Philippians 4:10–11
Though it may seem counterintuitive, adversity can actually cultivate an attitude of gratitude within us. Adversity helps us remember not to take anything in life for granted. The American Thanksgiving Day holiday began with the Pilgrims traveling from England to America around 1620. The hopes and dreams of many were lost during or after the journey of the Mayflower. Yet they brought with them a concept—Days of Thanksgiving—that helped them to be grateful in spite of overwhelming challenges.
What would cause someone to cross a vast, unknown ocean in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries? Life in Europe must have been terrible for anyone to be willing to risk a perilous sea voyage and then face the hardship of making a new life in America. When you begin to see that everything you have and everyone you rely on could be lost at any moment, it becomes quite difficult to take life for granted.
At one point in the Bible, the Apostle Paul wrote to his friends—while chained to a jail guard—that he had “learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” He was grateful for his life and didn’t take it for granted. He thanked God for it—as should we.
What are the kinds of things you take for granted in your life?
What are some ways that you can be grateful in spite of today’s difficult situations?
Make a list of your problems and how your current attitude affects your life. In your journal, list ways that you can shift your heart’s direction toward gratitude.
Recognition of the Good
First noticing the good in life instead of the bad creates an emotion that we experience as gratitude.
“Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.” —Deuteronomy 23:7–8
Noticing the good in life first instead of the bad creates an emotion that we experience as gratitude. In the Hebrew language the word “gratitude” is hakarat ha’tov; it means “recognition of the good” in all circumstances.
The story of Moses and the deliverance of the Israelites from generations of slavery in Egypt is interesting in the context of today’s Bible verse. The instruction is for the oppressed not to “despise” the oppressor but instead to shift their focus to gratitude for God’s deliverance through Moses’s leadership. The verses go on to say that eventually two former enemies may join together to worship God.
Regardless of the current circumstances in the Middle East, the principle taught in these verses is to be grateful even to our oppressors for the positive effect they may have had on our lives. This is not the same thing as being grateful for abuse. Rather, these verses point us toward being grateful for the good done to us even through tough circumstances. Learning to cultivate and develop this emotion in ourselves and in others can be very healing.
What are some ways that you can practice hakarat ha’tov and recognize the good in difficult circumstances?
What emotions do you experience when you think of people who have hurt you?
The story of Moses and how God uses him to deliver the Israelites from slavery (found in Exodus 2–14) is amazing. Some of it can be difficult to understand. You may need to discuss it with a friend or pastor who is well acquainted with the Scriptures in order to gain full perspective on the story. In your journal, consider ways that you can cultivate gratitude and recognize the good even in challenging circumstances.
True friendship is a rare commodity that must be cherished with deep gratitude.
“After David had finished talking with Saul, Jonathan became one in spirit with David, and he loved him as himself. From that day Saul kept David with him and did not let him return home to his family. And Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan took off the robe he was wearing and gave it to David, along with his tunic, and even his sword, his bow and his belt.” —1 Samuel 18:1–4
Do you have a friend who will always stay true to you? In a day when you can have literally thousands of “friends” or “followers” on social media sites, it’s easy to have lots of acquaintances but no real friends to count on in the direst of circumstances. Today’s verse is part of the story of David and Jonathan, whose close friendship is described as making them “one in spirit.”
The impression we get from the story is that David and Jonathan became friends quickly. David, a shepherd, and Jonathan, the prince and heir of the kingdom of Israel, shared a bond that went far beyond the difference in their backgrounds.
Two of the blessings of close friendship are trust and loyalty. Jonathan’s father, King Saul, became very jealous of David’s growing popularity with the public—dangerously so. David shared this problem with Jonathan. In spite of Jonathan’s disbelief that his father could behave in such a way, he chose to trust in and help his friend.
David and Jonathan understood the value of their relationship. True friendship is a rare and glorious commodity. It must be cherished with the deepest gratitude.
Have you ever connected with someone in a way that made you become close friends quickly?
Are you acquainted with someone with whom you think that, given the opportunity, a close friendship could develop?
In your journal, describe 3–5 ways that you can express gratitude to a close friend, thanking them for their friendship. How could you cultivate ways to deepen and expand this relationship?
Anger and Gratitude Don’t Mix
Gratitude can’t coexist with anger.
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” —Philippians 4:12–13
Anger and gratitude mix together like oil and water; they are not close emotional partners. Basically, the two are opposites. Gratitude simply cannot coexist with anger.
Gratitude is usually expressed by giving thanks in an emotional expression of humility: “Thank you for what you have done.”
Anger is a reaction to a threat to your safety, a loved one, or something that you deem valuable. Its closest emotional partner is fear, and it can lead to bitterness, cynicism, and overall unhappiness. To experience true gratitude, anger must be set aside.
When Paul writes, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty,” he’s describing two opposite experiences—and yet he is content in each situation. His secret is relying on God to give him strength to deal with the opposites in life. Through God’s strength, we can learn to let go of our anger and embrace gratitude and thanksgiving.
Have you noticed that you can’t be grateful or thankful when you are angry?
What are some of the ways that gratitude and choosing contentment in life’s circumstances are similar?
Paul wrote the book of Philippians while in jail—talk about a difficult circumstance! In your journal, list ways that you can intentionally choose gratitude and contentment in situations where you experience strong emotions like anger.
Choose Gratitude over a Bad Attitude
Gratitude is a shift in attitude that can renovate your world in an instant.
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” —1 Chronicles 16:34
Sometimes my attitude toward life is quite pessimistic. I have a chronically optimistic friend who laughs and calls me “Eeyore” when I lament what I view as a negative and difficult situation. He’s always challenging my predisposition toward seeing the glass as half empty instead of half full. He challenges me to “give thanks in all circumstances,” even in dark times.
Gratitude is a shift in attitude that can renovate your world in an instant. Yet, at times, it seems daunting to rustle up the motivation to be grateful. With financial and relational stress, the seeming collapse of hopes and dreams, and the everyday difficulties of life, it can be hard to see abundance in your life.
All change begins with desire. But this isn’t about desire as a never-ending longing to be fulfilled. This is desire as the urge to engage and enlarge your vision for what your world can be. Choosing gratitude over gloominess may open your mind’s eye to possibilities you’ve never noticed.
Even Eeyore changed his perspective: “‘It’s snowing still,’ said Eeyore gloomily. . . .’And freezing.’ . . . ‘However,’ he said, brightening up a little, ‘we haven’t had an earthquake lately.’”
Well . . . it’s a start.
Is your perspective on life more optimistic or pessimistic?
If pessimistic, what are the things in your life that you feel are missing?
In your journal, reflect on your desire to shift your mental focus toward “giving thanks in all circumstances.” How would choosing gratitude over gloominess open your mind’s eye to new possibilities for your future?
Monday, October 7, 2019
Jealousy comes from counting others’ blessings instead of our own.
Jealousy never does us any good. What we think we see is never all that is real. When comparing our lives to others, we can always find those who are doing better and those who are doing worse. When we focus on our own blessings we can rejoice with what we actually have, rather than dismay over what someone else is enjoying.
Rev. Carol Ross Irwin
Tuesday October 8, 2019
A Prayer for Those Who Work in Catholic Health Care
Loving God, you created us with the capacity to heal, to restore and to offer peace through our role in Catholic health care ministry. Help us to be signs of love and compassion in the world today – honoring every person we meet who is in need of healing. When our burdens are heavy, renew us, remind us of the blessing of our calling and reawaken our commitment to the healing ministry. Amen.
Wednesday October 9, 2019
Lord, help me be a blessing today.
Help me to lessen the load of others.
Equip me to encourage, and cue me to show compassion.
Where I can,
help me walk alongside of those who need a friend, with a listening ear, and a helping hand.
Help me to not add to the burden of any person, in any way.
Allow me to voice words of sympathy, sorrow and caring.
Help me to also speak blessings, compliments, and congratulations wherever I’m able.
Give me a heart to comfort and not compare, and to serve without strife.
Lord, open my eyes to the ones who feel invisible.
Allow me to see those who aren’t seen.
May I notice those who feel unnoticed.
Lead me to love without conditions, believe the best in others, and shine your light to everyone I meet.
I pray others see Jesus in me today.
Thursday, October 10, 2019
Pick me up Lord, and hold me in Your loving arms. Protect me from the pressures of the day, and remove the heaviness from my heart. Inspire me with the knowledge that You and I together can handle anything. Amen.
Friday, October 11, 2019
Let the day flow with grace
Expect nothing. Give thanks.
Surrender. Be Open.
Speak only kindness
Impart only love
Never forget you are not done.
Give so you may receive.
See goodness in others
Saturday, October 12, 2019
“Don’t pay back evil for evil.
Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you.
Instead pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and He will bless you for it.”
It seems unnatural to bless people who make your life difficult, but you never know the difficulty that they are facing. Choose to respond with kindness – not because they deserve it, but because you do.
Rev. Carol Ross Irwin
Sunday, October 13, 2019
“It is not the Joy that makes us Grateful, it is gratitude that makes us joyful.”
Joy is not based on our circumstances. Our circumstances change. Joy is based on a decision to face the world with a desire to look for blessings regardless of our momentary circumstances, and see them surrounding us.
Rev. Carol Ross Irwin
THIS WEEK I’D LIKE TO DO SOME REFLECTION ON CHANGE AND HOW IT CAN BE A PATHWAY TO EXCELLENCE, ONE OF OUR CORE VALUES. MAKE NO MISTAKE ABOUT IT, JUST LIKE YOU, I DON’T ALWAYS LIKE CHANGES ESPECIALLY IF THEY DON’T SEEM NECESSARY OR BETTER IN MY WORLD. SOMETIMES I CHANGE BECAUSE I LIKE THE CHANGE. SOMETIMES I CHANGE BECAUSE I DON’T HAVE A CHOICE AND I’M USUALLY KIND OF CRANKY ABOUT THAT. AND SOMETIMES WHEN I CHANGE I’M SORT OF INDIFFERENT ABOUT IT; IT DOESN’T REALLY MATTER. HOW ABOUT YOU. YOU’RE GOING THRU ALL SORTS OF CHANGES. MAYBE SOME ARE PERSONAL, PERHAPS SOME HAVE TO DO WITH RELATIONSHIPS. YOU CERTAINLY ARE GONG THRU A TON OF CHANGES AT WORK. HOW ARE YOU HANDLING THAT? IN A POSITIVE WAY, TALK ABOUT IT WITH YOUR CO WORKERS, YOUR SUPERVISOR, YOUR PARTNER OR FRIEND. LET THEM KNOW HOW YOU FEEL, HOW YOU’RE DOING. AND IF YOU DON’T FEEL YOU CAN BE HONEST THEN WE HAVE DEEPER PROBLEM THAN CHANGE.
WHEN I WAS AN ALTAR BOY A PRIEST WAS FAMOUS FOR ALWAYS SAYING “CHANGES MUST COME AND FRIENDS MUST PART, BUT THERE IS NO CHANGE IN THE SACRED HEART”. IT’S ONE OF THOSE WHIMSICAL LITTLE SAYINGS I HAVE LOCKED AWAY IN MY CATHOLIC TRUNK OF MEMORIES. I REMEMBER ALWAYS BEING TOLD THAT THE LORD NEVER CHANGES. ITS LIKE CHANGING WAS A WEAKNESS OF SOME SORT BECAUSE SOMETHING WASN’T GOOD ENOUGH. THE LORD MAY NOT CHANGE MAY ALWAYS BE THE SAME. BUT IF YOU’RE GOD AND YOU’VE BEEN AROUND FOREVER THEN YOU’VE HAD TO BE ADAPTABLE. YOU’VE HAD TO USE FLEXIBILITY TO GET THINGS DONE THE WAY YOU WANT THEM DONE. YOU’VE HAD TO WORK WITH SOME PRETTY STUBBORN FOLKS, MANY INSURMOUNTABLE ROAD BLOCKS, CIRCUMSTANCES THAT WOULD MAKE A BLIND PERSON SEE STARS. BUT THAT’S HOW GOD SURVIVES. HE’S ADAPTABLE, FLEXIBLE, WILLING TO DO SOME GIVE AND TAKE FOR THE GREATER GOOD. I’LL BET YOU’VE HAD THAT WORK FOR YOU IN THE PAST. SO TRY TO BE THAT WAY AT WORK . SINCE WE’RE MADE IN THE IMAGE AND LIKENESS OF GOD WE CAN BE HAPPIER BY BEING THAT WAY. THE LORD IS CERTAINLY HAPPIER THAT WAY.
I BOUGHT A NEW MUSTANG A FEW MONTHS AGO, MY “DRIVE IT WHEN I FEEL LIKE IT CAR”. NOW THIS CAR WAS BASICALLY THE SAME AS THE CAR I TRADED IN, JUST 5 YEARS NEWER AND A STEP UP IN THE TRIM LINE. AS THE SALESMAN WAS GOING OVER ALL THE FEATURES OF THE CAR, I MADE SURE I WAS PAYING PARTICULAR ATTENTION TO ALL THE ELECTRONICS OF THE NEW CAR. IT TOOK ME AWHILE TO MASTER THE ELECTRONICS OF THE OLDER CAR AND THIS NEW ONE HAD MORE. I KNEW IT WOULD TAKE TIME AND PRACTICE TO GET THINGS DOWN. SO WHEN HE WAS DONE I THOUGHT FOR A MOMENT AND ASKED “ SO WHERE DO I PUT THE CD IN? HE SAID THERE IS NO CD. I SAID “WHAT”! HE SAID THEY ARENT PUTTING CD PLAYERS IN CARS ANY MORE. I THINK I WAS IN A MINOR STATE OF SHOCK. HAVE CHANGES AT WORK LEFT YOU IN A MINOR STATE OF SHOCK WHERE YOU MAY SAY “I DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING”? YOU ASK YOURSELF “SO NOW WHAT DO I DO” . GIVE IT YOUR BEST SHOT AT TRYING TO FIGURE THAT OUT. IT TAKES TIME AND PRACTICE. LET GOD, AND THE STAFF AROUND YOU HELP YOU WITH THAT.
I GUESS WHEN THE SAME THING CHANGES A NUMBER OF TIMES IN YOUR LIFE ITS NO LONGER A CHANGE BUT A ROUTINE. BY THE TIME I GRADUATED FROM HIGH SCHOOL WE HAD MOVED 7 TIMES. SINCE I STARTED WORKING I’VE MOVED AN ADDITIONAL 10 TIMES. NEITHER MY FAMILY NOR I HAD JOBS THAT HAVE TAKEN ME ALL OVER WORLD OR THE COUNTRY OR THE MIDWEST. WITH ONE EXCEPTION ALL OF THESE MOVES HAVE BEEN WITHIN 50 MILES OF EACH OTHER. THEY WERE FOR FAMILY REASONS, JOB REASONS OR PERSONAL REASONS. WHATEVER THE REASON, IT BECAME SO VERY ROUTINE. I KNOW HOW TO PACK AND UNPACK, HOW TO LOAD A TRUCK FULL OF FURNITURE AND BOXES. I KNOW HOW TO SETTLE IN AND ALSO HOW TO UPROOT AND START SOMEPLACE NEW. ITS ALL SO VERY ROUTINE. AND IT ALL STARTED WHEN I WAS A YOUNG KID. IT SEEMS LIKE CHANGE HERE AT THE HOSPITAL HAS BECOME SO VERY ROUTINE. IT HAPPENS EVERYWHERE, TO EVERYONE. NO MATTER HOW OLD OR YOUNG YOU ARE, IF YOUR WORKING HERE, YOU’RE NOT A KID ANYMORE. HOW ARE ALL THESE CHANGES AFFECTING YOU? YOUR FAMILY? YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE. FOR ME AND FOR YOU WE HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW TO HANDLE THE ROUTINE OF CHANGE, AND TO GROW FROM IT, NOT MATTER WHERE IT TAKES US. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TALK ABOUT IT.
BEAR WITH ME. THIS MAY SEEM A LITTLE LONG AND RAMBLING. ONE DAY LAST WEEK I’M PLAYING BASEBALL AT WORK AND I’M OUT IN LEFT FIELD SO TO SPEAK. I’M CATCHING FLY BALLS ONE AFTER THE OTHER SINCE I PUNCHED IN. FIRST OF ALL I CANT ACCESS MY EMAIL BECAUSE OF PASSWORD ISSUES. SINCE NO ONE WAS IN FROM I T YET, I DID WHAT THE INSTRUCTIONS SAID AND CALLED THE 866 NUMBER. SILLY ME!!! SOME NICE MAN FROM INDIA TRIED TO HELP ME BUT TO NO AVAIL. HIS ENGLISH WASN’T TOO BAD BUT MY HEARING WASN’T TOO GOOD. AFTER I SPENT 10 HOURS, MORE OR LESS, GIVING HIM DATA HE WAS ASKING FOR AND NOT BEING ABLE TO COMPREHEND EXACTLY WHAT HE NEEDED ME TO DO, I THANKED HIM AND SAID I HAVE PATIENTS TO SEE SO I’LL TRY LATER. I DID GET HELP VERY QUICKLY FROM OUR I T WHEN THEY CAME IN. THEY AND OFTEN OTHER STAFF ARE MY SAVIORS WHEN IT COMES TO TECHNOLOGY. LATER THAT MORNING OUR DEPARTMENT WENT RUNNING ON AN EMERGENCY CALL THAT TURNED OUT NOT TO BE A CODE BLUE EMERGENCY. BUT BETTER TO ERROR ON THE SIDE OF CAUTION THAN TO UNDERREACT WHEN SOMEONE’S LIFE IS AT STAKE. THEN IT WAS TIME TO HAVE ANOTHER COMPUTER ISSUE. NONE OF MY ICONS WOULD OPEN UP. SO I T WAS ABLE TO HELP AGAIN. BUT LIKE SO MANY OTHER TIMES, IT’S A MYSTERY OF FAITH AS TO WHY THIS HAS HAPPENED, AGAIN. THIS IS NOT A GOOD WAY TO HAVE THE FIRST PART OF YOUR SHIFT GO. I’M WONDERING WHAT OTHER PEOPLE DO, HOW THEY FEEL WHEN THE DAY STARTS OUT AND CONTINUES THAT WAY AND WHAT IF THAT HAPPENS ALMOST EVERY SHIFT. WHAT DID I DO? WHAT I USUALLY DO. I GET VERY FRUSTRATED. I START CUSSING IN A LOW VOICE BECAUSE IT WOULD BE A BAD THING FOR PEOPLE TO BE WALKING BY THE PASTORAL CARE OFFICE AND HEAR GOD’S NAME BEING USED IN A VERY UN-SPIRITUAL WAY. I TRY TO FOCUS ON SOMETHING ELSE, SOMETIMES. I THINK ABOUT MAYBE ITS TIME TO RETIRE. I THINK MAYBE I SHOULD DO SOMETHING ELSE SOMEWHERE ELSE. SO WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THINGS GO THE WRONG WAY. ONE THING’S FOR SURE. KEEPING YOUR FEELINGS PENT UP INSIDE OF YOU IS NOT A PATH TO EXCELLENCE. FIND SOMEWAY TO LET GO SO THAT NO ONE OR NO CURVE BALL CAN KEEP YOU FROM BEING THE BEST AT WHAT YOU ARE COMMITTED TO.
TGIF. I OFTEN THINK GOD GOT THINGS MIXED UP. SURELY HE MUST HAVE MEANT THAT WE SHOULD WORK JUST ONE OR TWO DAYS A WEEK AND HAVE 5 OR 6 DAYS OFF TO DO WHATEVER. BUT SINCE GOD DOESN’T MAKE MISTAKES MAYBE WE CAN BLAME IT ON WHOEVER WROTE THE CREATION STORY IN THE BIBLE. THEY SURELY GOT IT BACKWARDS!! WE ALL HAVE OUR DAYS OFF FROM WORK, AT LEAST WE SHOULD. BUT IT CERTAINLY DOESN’T MEAN WE’RE RESTING OR ENJOYING FREE TIME. THERE ARE THINGS TO DO AROUND THE HOUSE, KIDS TO TAKE CARE AND ACTIVITES TO RUN TO. THERE ARE FAMILY COMMITMENTS, OTHER JOBS TO BRING IN EXTRA MONEY. WHATEVER IT IS THAT OCCUPIES YOUR TIME ON YOUR DAYS OFF, BE SURE TO CARVE SOMETIME OUT FOR YOURSELF. ITS NOT A LUXURY; IT’S A NECESSITY. YOU CANT ACHIEVE EXCELLENCE IF YOU’RE FRIED EVERY HOUR OF EVERY DAY OF EVERY WEEK. YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF TO HAVE SOME “ME TIME”. YOU OWE IT TO YOUR FAMILY, YOUR CO WORKERS THE PATIENTS AT THE HOSPITAL.
TODAY IS SUNDAY AND IF YOU’RE READING THIS THEN YOU’RE PROBABLY AT WORK. I NEVER HAD TO WORK ON A SUNDAY UNTIL I STARTED AT THE HOSPITAL. ITS ONE OF THOSE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES THAT GOES ON 24/7, 365 DAYS A YEAR. BUT SOMETIME DURING YOUR SUNDAY AT THE HOSPITAL, GIVE YOURSELF A FEW MOMENTS TO FIND A QUIET PLACE AND JUST DO A LITTLE REFLECTING MAYBE IN THE CHAPEL OR OUTSIDE OR JUST GAZING OUT A WINDOW. HAVE SOME QUIET PRAYER WITH YOUR LORD WHATEVER YOU MAY CALL HIM OR HER. THE ROAD TO EXCELLENCE IS A POWERFUL AND MOVING JOURNEY WHEN YOU CAN ACKNOWLEDGE YOU ARE NOT ON THAT ROAD ALONE. BELIEVE AND FEEL A HIGHER POWER LEADING YOU, HOLDING YOUR HAND, BEING THAT UMBRELLA IN THE RAIN TO PROTECT YOU, BEING YOUR SNOW TIRES IN THE BLIZZARD TO PULL YOU THRU. YOU WILL DEFINITELY HAVE A RICHER EXPERIENCE OF EXCELLENCE.
Before listening to her young patients’ heartbeats, a pediatric nurse at the hospital would often fit the stethoscope over their ears and allow them to listen first.
One four-year-old boy was awed by the sound. The nurse asked him, “So… what do you suppose that is?”
The child, a regular at Sunday school, smilingly answered, “Is that Jesus knocking?”
God is always knocking at the door of our heart inviting us to be more loving and compassionate to one another. The choice to open that door is ours. He will not force His way into our heart.
“If today you hear His voice, harden not your heart!” -Psalm 95
The future of success in any endeavor will go to those who communicate the best. Therefore, mean what you say, say what you mean, and speaks as correctly as possible. ”Let your speech be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer…” Colossians 4:6.
No matter how eloquent our words, if we cannot speak in love, let us not speak at all. If love is not our purpose, let’s wait until it is. “Though I speak with a tongue of men and angels, but have not love, I have become a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.” 1 Corinthians 13:1.
Unexpected answers and timing: that seems to be the method God most often works His will in our lives, not necessarily how we desire, but always how it brings honor and glory to Him. ”’For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.” Isaiah 55:8.
Are we treating symptoms instead of offering the cure: feeding the poor, and counseling the misguided, are noble and right, but not the cure. The cure is a personal relationship with Jesus. ”Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28.
Communicating: I’m not the best at it, but I learned a little: 1. Say as much as you can in as few words as you can. 2. Use your best grammar. 3. Try not to make the same point the same way. 4. Don’t use fillers—Uh, like, you know. 5. Be brief. ”Speak graciously.” Colossians 4:6.
Be slow to respond to emotional words, for when the emotion changes so do the words. Listen for truth, not passion. You will save yourself many heartaches and troubles. “Also, do not take to heart everything people say, less you hear your servant cursing you. “ Ecclesiastes 7:21.
Reflections on Integrity
September 16, 2019
If they praise you, show up and do the work.
If they criticize you, show up and do the work.
If no one even notices you just show up and do the work.
Just keep showing up, doing the work and leading the way.
Lead with passion.
Fuel up with optimism.
Power up with love.
Fight the good fight.
Refuse to give up.
Ignore the critics.
Believe in the impossible.
Do the work.
You’ll be glad you did.
True grit leads to true success.
September 17, 2019
Mother Teresa is credited with this quote:
I used to pray that God would feed the hungry or do this or that,
but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I am supposed to do,
what I can do.
I used to pray for answers,
but now I’m praying for strength.
I used to believe that prayer changes things,
but now I know that prayer changes us and we change things.
September 18, 2019
Integrity also means whole – all together. In one piece. That is our goal as a ministry to be together. But that is also hard, because while our big picture goal may be unified- we all want to provide wonderful medical care to this community, we will disagree on how to make it happen. Good people will have different opinions. I have said many times that if two people never disagree then one of them is lying.
How do we remain whole when we disagree? It is hard, but necessary. It involves respecting that disagreement is normal. It means acknowledging more than one way could work. It means respecting that the other person’s intentions are also good. It also means speaking up with suggestions, rather than staying quiet and going away grumbling.
Rev. Carol Ross Irwin
September 19, 2019
How do you disagree without being disagreeable? When I was a teenager I loved to argue for the sake of arguing. Too bad my school didn’t have a debate team – I would have been a natural. But these days I don’t find it fun – yet I still disagree with people. How can you disagree without being disagreeable? Be mindful of your tone – are you raising your voice? Sounding sarcastic without meaning to? Are you getting agitated? Be in control of your own voice so that you are communicating in a way that allows your words and meaning to be heard, rather than just your tone of voice.
September 20, 2019
There is an Indian parable about 6 blind men describing an elephant. One described the ears, another the tusk, another the tail and so on. Each believed their experience was shared by everyone else. Often we do the same thing when we disagree with one another. We know our experience so well and it has much to provide in improving our ministry. But the people around us, also have experiences that make their understanding real for them. When you disagree, listen for the truth within the other person’s viewpoint- because there is some there. Together when we share our insights we create something that works better than what any one of us can do.
September 21, 2019
Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates:
Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
September 22, 2019
Tip your server.
Return your shopping cart.
Pick up a piece of trash.
Hold the door for the person behind you.
Let someone into your lane.
Small acts can have a ripple effect.
That’s how we change the world.
The Contemplative Monk Website
A staff member of a hospital in Tennessee recounted this story:
I had a very unique experience. I went to draw blood from a patient who seemed to be incoherent. He shook a lot and it was very hard to get blood from him. I went to see him again the next day. As I walked into his room, something made me start humming “Amazing Grace.” The patient had not made a sound in days, according to the nurse. But, as I continued to hum, the patient became still, and then started humming with me. So, I began to sing the song to him, and he sang with me, not missing a word. I was so blessed. Sometimes, God’s grace is all you need.
Actress Carol Burnett got out of a cab one day and caught her coat in the door. The driver was unaware of her plight and slowly began to edge out into traffic. To keep from being pulled off her feet, the comedienne had to run alongside down the block. A passerby noticed her predicament and quickly alerted the driver. He stopped, jumped out, and released Miss Burnett’s coat. “Are you all right?” he asked anxiously. “Yes,” she gasped, “but how much more do I owe you?”
Author Rick Warren once said: “When you’ve experienced grace and you feel like you’ve been forgiven, you’re a lot more forgiving of other people. You’re a lot more gracious to others.”
Be gracious and forgiving of everyone you will encounter today.
May the strength of God pilot me,
the power of God uphold me, the wisdom of God guide me.
May the eye of God look before me,
the ear of God hear me, the word of God speak for me.
May the hand of God protect me, the way of God lie before me, the shield of God defend me, the host of God save me.
In every organization, you’ll find the Tate Family.
There is old man Dic-Tate who wants to run everything, while Uncle Ro-Tate tries to change everything. There’s sister Agi-Tate who stirs up plenty of trouble, with help from her husband, Irri-Tate. Whenever new projects are suggested, Hesi-Tate and his wife, Vege-Tate, want to wait until next year. Then there is Aunt Imi-Tate, who wants the organization to be like all the others. Devas-Tate provides the voice of doom, while Poten-Tate wants to be a big shot.
But not all members of the family are tough.
Brother Facili-Tate is quite helpful in many matters. And a delightful, happy member of the family is Miss Felici-Tate.
Cousins Cogi-Tate and Medi-Tate always thinks things over and lend helpful, steady hands.
And of course there is another member of the family, Ampu-Tate, who has completely cut himself off from the family.
How about it – Which member of the Tate family are you?
The Holocaust is one of the most traumatic episodes of modern history, yet it has also yielded some astounding stories of bravery and faith. In France, a Jewish family was hidden by some concerned French nationals in the basement of their home. The Jewish family waited and waited for their deliverance. At the end of the war these words were found scribbled on the wall of that basement:
“I believe in the sun even when it does not shine.
I believe in love even when it is not given.
I believe in God even when he is silent.”
Use this scribble as a beautiful prayer in your daily life especially on those days when things seem to be difficult, challenging, or nearly impossible.
The world is being engulfed in darkness, Lord, the light is fading daily. Evil is trying to consume Your beautiful creation and faithful followers but I know victory is mine and those who believe in You shall be saved. I believe in You, I trust in You and I know You have overcome. Every blessed soul that has lost their way will eventually return to You, for Your timing is perfect.
Father, allow me to be a light in this dark and gloomy world, allow me to be a blessing to others. Manifest Your power and love within me, let it ignite my soul and let it consume those I come into contact with. They will taste Your Holy presence and constantly yearn for it.
Lord, allow my actions to portray You in everything I do. May the light within me conquer the darkness. Let it pierce through those stormy clouds, that await my defeat, let it shine, let it glow and allow it to illuminate the path You have set before us. Let me to be the light in this world and towards others as well. In Jesus’ mighty name I pray, Amen.
Dear Lord, we who are
prejudiced at times
inclined to misunderstanding
Make us instead
open to learning
understanding and forgiving
May your Spirit be present in us as you are in all peoples. Amen.