Archive for October, 2009

A Receptive Instrument

By: Barbara Lishko

On a busy Sunday evening just before Mass began, a woman approached me in the narthex and asked if I was Barb. I responded that I was, and she got teary eyed and whispered that her daughter was deeply into drugs. She could no longer hold back her tears, I said that I would pray for her and try to contact her daughter. What more can be done at a moment like that?


I remember a call I received from her daughter one morning last year.  Distraught and crying, she shared with me how she had been drunk the night before and was raped by three guys. This was her senior year of high school. I went to the school and waited with her until the police came.  It broke my heart to think of what she had endured at such a young age.


As a youth minister, there are many encounters where teens, young adults, and parents deposit themselves in my office, or stop me in the courtyard, and speak about a difficult moment in their life. I try to always ask God that I be open to His inspiration at that moment in time. I pray that my words are His words of hope and healing.


Another mom whose daughter attended one of our retreats last year, pulled me aside a few months ago, and shared how worried she was about her daughter. I told her I would try and make contact and would also keep her in my prayers.  When I next saw the girl my simple “hi” opened the floodgates as tears rolled down her face. I asked her if she wanted to talk and found a quiet place amongst the chaos. She said she couldn’t possibly tell anyone what she was doing because it was so horrible that even “God could not forgive her…” I reassured her that there was no sin that God could not or would not forgive.

God places us where we can be His instruments to his children in need. I don’t believe there are any random coincidences, but rather God’s guiding hand in everything. St. Teresa of Avila said it so wonderfully in her prayer,

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

Pope John Paul II wrote about spiritual motherhood and fatherhood. Each time that I am available to listen, counsel, pray or be present to another, I am being a spiritual mother to them.  It is part of how God designed and gifted all women, but it is also very much a function of our priests who are spiritual fathers to literally thousands of souls.


I feel honored to not only be a mother to my own five kids, but a spiritual mother to hundreds more. I am humbled and privileged that God has placed me in my secondary vocation as a youth minister. Being available as His instrument to the hurting parents and teens of this generation is daunting. These kids hurt so much. They are often disconnected and longing for acceptance and authentic love, as the old song says they are, “looking for love in all the wrong places.”


I encourage you to be open to your fellow brothers and sisters who are placed in your sphere of influence. Be instruments of God’s healing love. First things first, pay attention and notice the hurting souls who are all around you. It is easy to look right through them. Second, be willing to reach out.  There is a song I love by Brandon Heath called, “Give Me Your Eyes,” The chorus goes like this:


Give me your eyes for just one second
Give me your eyes so I can see
Everything that I keep missing
Give me your love for humanity
Give me your arms for the broken hearted
Ones that are far beyond my reach.
Give me your heart for the ones forgotten
Give me your eyes so I can see


The Almighty gifts us and we are obliged to share those gifts for the benefit of all.  Imagine what our world could be like if each one of us did this. We cannot wait until we are President or Prime Minister to begin to influence change. It must start everyday, starting today, one person at a time.


Look around and don’t be afraid. Christ is there beside you, guiding you, and inviting you to reach out to a world in need of hope, love and peace. Be the change. Be His instrument.




 ”Group Project” is a dirty word in our house. Yet the teachers in our schools feel the need to mandate these types of projects in the classrooms. I am sure that their intentions are good and their desire is for the students to learn to work together towards a common goal and experience success when they enter the job force in ten years.  That may be how it plays out in their minds, but in reality it is a living nightmare for parents and an emotional roller coaster for the whole family

Just recently my senior daughter had a huge grade-shaping, entrepreneurial group project. She and the two girls paired up with her, were to design an item that would compete in the marketplace of the high school against fifty other “ideas” by fellow students. The assignment was to make a business plan, portfolio, slide presentation, outline the details and market and sell it.  As expected, one girl was rarely available, and the other didn’t return messages for days. After coughing-up close to one hundred and fifty dollars they all received an A-.  Granted the bulk of the work, worry, and effort pretty much was handled by only one of them. Can you guess who? 

I can tell you sob stories of past assignments we have survived over the years. I often wondered if there was a support group I could have joined early on.

“Honors Chem-Phys” was another class where projects of immense proportions had to be constructed.  The most memorable assignment was when the boys had to build a trebuchet, (catapult).  Their grade depended on how far the machine could launch a golf ball.  While I have no brain matter capable of calculating numeric equations of any kind, I can build just about anything. Luckily an area near our home was under construction and we could score free supplies, a dumpster dive was in order. This netted most of the necessary materials and kept costs to a minimum. My keen mind had already come up with a design that “hypothetically speaking” should work.

Our neighbors’ son had the same project to accomplish. They spent hours searching the internet and comparing designs. They drew up complex plans and purchased the finest wood and necessary hardware to create a weapon capable of hurling small animals miles away…in theory that is. 

When the time came to haul the projects to school and see what they could do, an amazing thing happened…my project actually worked. In the end we spent about eight bucks and launched the ball at least thirty-eight feet. Our neighbors boy on the other hand, ended up dishing out close too ninety dollars for the finest looking trebuchet known to the high school population. Unfortunately, it was mostly useful for its aesthetic value and is currently being displayed in the “museum of really good school projects” located in their attic.

Notice the word “I” is used a little too much. We are in fact, guilty of being part-time, hands-on parents who don’t want their offspring to fail…and I know we aren’t alone. You know who you are out there, you builders of the Great Wall of China out of sugar cubes. By the time we got to the fifth kid, we felt like we had already been through high school six times and never wanted to go back again.

Some school projects are truly ingenious.  Other assignments are unreasonable, and require a graduate degree to figure out. 

What is the lesson learned that I can pass onto other parents?  I don’t know really. If you let the kid do their own project they get shown up by the other over-zealous parents out there.  Maybe if we made a mutual pact of some kind like; no one helps their children beyond loving support and supplies… ever no matter what?

Well I have to go now, there’s a volcano baking in the oven that will need to get painted before tomorrow.

I’ll need at least an “A” on that if I…uh, I mean, my daughter wants to make the honor roll this semester.