Archive for September, 2011

A Gift Poured Out

I love giving myself as a gift. I feel God has abundantly blessed me and while I joke about NOT being born with the “NO” gene, I do say yes a lot!
Friday, my day off…NOT. I said yes to bake in Flagstaff for the NAU Newman Parents weekend. I loved it. Was blessed to have my friend Christy come up with me and we baked for 5 hours. NO, we didn’t think it would take that long, but we produced a variety and a quantity- WE poured ourselves out in gift.
Saturday- Marriage class- eight hours- Our team poured themselves out in gift to 26 engaged couples. The reviews were positive. We felt we gave them gift of Theology of the Body that they can unwrap for the rest of their lives.
Today- Teens who are being catechized for the sacraments, and teens who are learning about saints..those amazing witness for all of us of what it means to pour our lives out in gift for God and for good.
Pray for us. Pray for our youth…they must learn too how to be a gift to this world and it is us that they look to for the examples!


Too many people put off something that brings them joy just because they haven’t thought about it, don’t have it on their schedule, didn’t know it was coming or are too rigid to depart from their routine.

I got to thinking one day about all those people on theTitanic who passed up dessert at dinner that fateful night in an effort to cut back. From then on, I’ve tried to be a little more flexible.

How many women out there will eat at home because their husband didn’t suggest going out to dinner until after something had been thawed? Does the word ‘refrigeration’ mean nothing to you?

How often have your kids dropped in to talk and sat in silence while you watched ‘Jeopardy’ on television?

I cannot count the times I called my sister and said , ‘How about going to lunch in a half hour?’ She would gas up and stammer, ‘I can’t. I have clothes on the line. My hair is dirty. I wish I had known yesterday, I had a late breakfast, It looks like rain’ And my personal favorite: ‘It’s Monday.’ She died a few years ago. We never did have lunch together.

Because Americans cram so much into their lives, we tend to schedule our headaches.. We live on a sparse diet of promises we make to ourselves when all the conditions are perfect!

We’ll go back and visit the grandparents when we get Steve toilet-trained. We’ll entertain when we replace the living-room carpet. We’ll go on a second honeymoon when we get two more kids out of college.

Life has a way of accelerating as we get older. The days get shorter, and the list of promises to ourselves gets longer. One morning, we awaken, and all we have to show for our lives is a litany of ‘I’m going to,’ ‘I plan on,’ and ‘Someday, when things are settled down a bit.’

When anyone calls my ‘seize the moment’ friend, she is open to adventure and available for trips. She keeps an open mind on new ideas. Her enthusiasm for life is contagious. You talk with her for five minutes, and you’re ready to trade your bad feet for a pair of Rollerblades and skip an elevator for a bungee cord.

My lips have not touched ice cream in 10 years. I love ice cream. It’s just that I might as well apply it directly to my stomach with a spatula and eliminate the digestive process. The other day, I stopped the car and bought a triple-decker. If my car had hit an iceberg on the way home, I would have died happy.

Now…go on and have a nice day. Do something you WANT to…not something on your SHOULD DO list. If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say? And why are you waiting?

Make sure you read this to the end; you will understand why I sent this to you.

Have you ever watched kids playing on a merry go round or listened to the rain lapping on the ground? Ever followed a butterfly’s erratic flight or gazed at the sun into the fading night? Do you run through each day on the fly? When you ask ‘How are you?’ Do you hear the reply?

When the day is done, do you lie in your bed with the next hundred chores running through your head? Ever told your child, ‘We’ll do it tomorrow.’ And in your haste, not see his sorrow? Ever lost touch? Let a good friendship die? Just call to say ‘Hi’?

When you worry and hurry through your day, it is like an unopened gift….Thrown away…. Life is not a race. Take it slower. Hear the music before the song is over.

This summer we had the opportunity to do a road trip together again. It would be the seven of us, packed in the old gray Suburban, just like old times. A few years have passed since we have had the occasion for six hours of this kind of togetherness and I was waiting for the usual fall-out that accompanies these trips.

What was different this round, was the fact that for the first time ever, my children were officially all adults.

When they were little, what stands out most in my mind is the crick in my neck that would develop about ten minutes into any trip. I would spend the majority of the excursion looking backwards, settling the constant indiscriminate disputes that would arise each time one of them ventured to speak. There were many times that I wished I were Inspector Gadget so I could simply say, “go, go gadget arm,” and reach out and touch someone.

Having a mini van made all the difference in the world once my neck was too sore to whip my head around. I would with great drama, unclick my seatbelt, and a hush would fall upon the backseat inhabitants as I headed aft. The blame game ensued, followed pretty much by somebody getting it, and I wasn’t handing out cookies.

Another famous phrase we often use goes something like this, “when we get to the freeway…” The rest of the sentence usually ended with “we will all say the Rosary together.” After the predictable moans and sighs died down and the five miles it took to get to the freeway, several kids would invariably be overcome with sudden sleep disorder thus rendering themselves unconscious when it came time to pray. This tactic was never very successful because the remaining vigilant siblings would arouse them with loving forcefulness so they wouldn’t miss out. After all, a family that prays together…

As teen passengers they would mostly keep to themselves once the initial fight over “who sat where” ended. The cleverest tactic used to secure the front seat involved sleeping all night in the car thus beating out all siblings. The preferred method used most often however was the tried and true duke it out process that began hours before we left. They could recall with minute detail every instance since birth when each sibling had already had his or her turn. These same kids who can’t remember when to take out the trash, could recount with the precision of a tax accountant, the date, vacation, and mileage of each trip, and who rode shotgun.

Return trips from California on New Year’s Day after consuming my cousin’s secret chili recipe, were predictably interesting, to say the least. About an hour into the trip the wind began to blow stronger inside the vehicle than outside. The girls would let out a scream as the offending smell wafted past their nostrils, then all the windows would simultaneously go down, and the boys would laugh hysterically. This cadence continued every couple of miles for the remainder of our journey. Without a doubt, the cars behind us got a good whiff as they blew through the green gaseous cloud at seventy miles per hour. Good times.

So what was different this time? In a word, it was pleasant. At departure they loaded right up without the customary seat fight, plugged into their ipod’s, took out their books, and sat there in blissful silence…for hours. It was actually surreal, peaceful even, and just a tiny bit boring.

Gone were the days that made fodder for stories and generated laughs around the bus stop. We had entered a new era, or had we? Perhaps we just caught them off guard and a little bit exhausted from having real lives and real jobs that just don’t leave much energy to fight over little things. I actuality though, I was really grateful for not having to deal with the old familiar crick.

Filling the Unfillable Void

 By Barbara Lishko

“Our hearts are restless Lord, until they rest in thee.”  St Augustine knew well what he was writing about, having spent part of his life filling the void with everything but God.

It is difficult to watch people you care about “fill their voids” with self- destructive habits, people and distractions. So many times I see them settle for pleasure, when what they really yearn for is happiness. I remember Matthew Kelly speaking once on this subject of pleasure and happiness. The main difference being pleasure must be constantly fed or the feeling dies. Happiness on the other hand, can sustain itself long after the experience which brought it about.

Being a parent and a youth minister who works with teens and young adults, I am constantly baffled at the lengths our young people travel as they seek pleasure. It can be like a drug addiction that must constantly be sought in ever higher degrees to attain that original euphoria. Many are so lonely for one reason or another. They feel incomplete without all the material trappings society says they must have to be happy and fulfilled. Often their desperation for a soul-mate drives them into settling for a hook-up instead of true and authentic, self-giving love. They desire answers for their purpose and meaning yet lack discipline and patience, descending instead into a constant state of meaningless diversions.

It is sad to hear about. It is heartbreaking to observe. I have found myself in the role of confidant many times so I have a unique perspective as I watch the drama unfold. I know their desire is for something more, yet time and time again, they settle for the counterfeit. I go to “the Garden” often, and kneel there beside our Lord as He interceded to the Father on our behalf. I too intercede and do what I can in small ways to beg the Father, Son, and Spirit to guide and assist these young people as they struggle with their choices and ensuing consequences. We have all been there in one degree or another, yet these times are somewhat different and less forgiving.

I know when I goofed-up as a young person I might be taunted about it for awhile but I would have never had to see it played over and over again on the internet, spreading poison and stinging each time with ever increasing destruction.  With all the means of greater communication, we have faster ways of spreading gossip, lies, and drama to the detriment of those involved.

What is the solution to this, if there is any?

Dare I suggest, we make a stronger more determined effort to model Christ-like behavior in our own lives; to walk the walk ourselves, so that they see a way that points to truth, a love that doesn’t count the cost or use, and obedience that disciplines the will conforming itself to God.

Persistence in prayer for one another will invoke the Spirit’s movement in their lives and ours. Attentive listening and availability to those who struggle is critical so that they can be wrapped in encouragement and love as they stretch, and grow into the fullness of God’s creation.

God allows U-turns, and do-overs and restarts. There is an essential need for us older brothers and sisters to show them the way. We must grow up and put away the things of our childhood without losing our childlike wonder and awe of God. Men must become men whose lives are in line with Christ.  We need your witness in faithfulness to family, wife, Church and what it means to lay down one’s life.

Ladies, our model is Mary our Mother; self-giving love and the great fiat. We must stop saying yes to sex outside of marriage and respect ourselves enough to say that we are worth waiting for. Crystalina Evert says that “a guy will be as much of a gentleman as we require.” We have the God-given power to help our brothers step up and be the protectors and defenders of our virtue, not the slayers and betrayers.

I know that I have been called to be in this place and time for a reason. Each and every one of us is here because God has a purpose and plan for our lives and a part to play in each other’s salvation.  May we see the unique role we play in this period in history, and become the saints so desperately needed.