Friday, November 29, 2013

A Baker's Dozen: Reflections From a 17-Year-Old Bride

So yesterday we celebrated Thanksgiving - my extended family (siblings, their kids, in-laws, grandchildren) all gathered at our house and had a wonderful time. Today finds Rick and me on our way to Helen, GA (and the Christkindlmarkt) for our 39th anniversary trip. Yikes! I've been married over two thirds of my life! In honor of this momentous occasion, I'll share a few quick tidbits:

1. Having come from a very traditional Catholic family, I wasn't allowed to date until I was 16. As luck would have it, Rick came into my life the month of my birthday. Quickly loved by my mother, he was a bit more challenged to win my heart - because I had eyes for the boy with the motorcycle or maybe the one with the guitar. This one came with a tractor and a country way of life. 
2. He also argued religion from a Baptist perspective. It didn't compute in my teen brain - initially. But slowly, over the course of a few months, my heart was firmly won. Good sense overtook the thrill of cheap adventure. By the beginning of my Junior year we were a couple and roamed the halls together - him carrying my books. On Sundays, we attended Mass in the morning with my family and sometimes attended his church at night.
3. Fast forward several months and he began talking about marriage - Rick (Tricky Ricky) never actually asked, he just started talking about 'when (not if) we get married'. He also began to talk about conversion to the Church and was fortunate enough to have one-on-one sessions with the parish priest. 
4. Our courtship was chaste, even though he knew about the 'issue' the wagging tongues relayed. My son was two. We married on Thanksgiving weekend of my Senior year.
5. We spent the first 20 minutes of our honeymoon on our knees, praying the Rosary. Then we called my mom - to say goodnight.
6. Rick had put his conversion on hold - until after the wedding. Although I was initially disappointed - since we wouldn't be able to receive the Eucharist together - good sense won out as I realized this meant he was converting for himself - not just to please me.
7. We returned to the real world a week later - me to school and he to his job as a millwright and part time farmer. He also continued his meetings with Father and, a few months later, was brought into the Church.  
8. I completed high school, then college - our 1-year-old son attended my graduation. My other son was five. Rick finished his apprenticeship with the millwrights, became a journeyman and continued to farm part-time.
9. We lived through blizzards, catastrophic losses and even bankruptcy, but we had our love and our faith to sustain us. Soon, we were gifted with a daughter. And we were still young - he was 26 and I was 25 - but marriage was old hat by then. We had it covered. 
10. Sometimes we continued to pray together, sometimes we prayed separately, but we always attended Mass and always stayed close to God and each other - more or less.
11. Several years passed and hope of another child was all but abandoned - then came another son. This time I was an 'old' mom of 31 and I cherished every moment of staying at home with my brood of three.
12. Both of our mothers died of cancer, as did his brother and grandfather. His grandmother died of Alzheimer disease - all this within a year or so. Genetic testing won over, in my case, and my fertility ended via prophylactic surgery to prevent the BRCA-1 gene from killing me as it had an uninterrupted line of women before me.
13. In the following years we've moved several times, changed careers (not just jobs), built a
house, married off a son and then a daughter. All children have returned to live with us, for a time, as adults. There are now 7 grandchildren - ages 3 through 9 (plus 5 who are with Jesus) - and we have lost all fear of an empty nest because ours is always an Open House.
These past 39 years have flown by and I can't really remember not being married. We've had our triumphant ups and our horrific downs. I've survived breast cancer (8 years and counting), in large part due to my knight in shining armor/court jester and the awe-inspiring prayers of friends from around the world - and of course, the grace of God. And if I had to sum up the reason for the success of our marriage in one word it would be, not love (a very close second), but GRACE. Our love is strong and has sustained us, but the real life-blood of our union is the Grace of God. He has been there, through it all, and for that we are deeply thankful!

Love you, Richard Joseph Jones! May we have another 39 years (and Eternity) together!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"The Art of Giving" - Giving Back Through Cross Catholic (dot) org

Cross Catholic, works to feed, help and support the poverty stricken families of Honduras. Thanks to fellow blogger, Jennifer of Catholic Inspired, I became aware of this wonderful opportunity for us, who have so much, to give back to those in need. It's my pleasure to have been asked to join several awesome bloggers in sharing and promoting the "Art of Giving ' - a Cross project we can all, in good conscience, support!

So How Can I Participate in The Art of Giving?

To easily help the impoverished of Honduras:
1. Your children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, students are asked to draw/color/create an art project.
2. The grownups to scan (or take a photo) of the art and email the image to Cross Catholic:
3. The good folks at Cross Catholic take it from there by uploading all submitted artwork to an online slide show. This fund raising effort will run from now until December 31, 2013.

How Can I Donate to Cross Catholic?

Once the image has been uploaded onto the slideshow, parents, family members and friends can make donations on behalf of the child's artwork to Cross Catholic Outreach. Simply mention the child's name in the comment box when you make your donation. These donations will be used to feed impoverished children and families in El Progreso, Honduras at the Prince of Peace Nutrition Center. A generous 94.8% of your donation goes to the needy - there is very little overhead.

Who can submit artwork to Cross Catholic?

Art projects will be accepted from kids of all ages - from toddlers to teens! This would really be a great project for homeschooling families, teachers and religious education teachers or parents who want to teach their children the spirit of giving! Youth groups could participate in "The Art of Giving" as a service project, as well.

Where is the Slideshow?

1.View the slideshow at Cross Catholic's site

2. View the slideshow on Flickr

3. OR view the slideshow here:

Please, keep in mind that this web page is still a work in progress - as more and more submissions are made. To better understand the event, check out the Cross Catholic website and the slideshow may or may not be visible on your computer. In an effort to resolve this issue, Cross Catholic will be adding a link to the page for those who can't view the slideshow.

You'll Have the Opportunity to Link-up Too!

Please visit next week when those of us on the blogging team will be posting our children’s art and inviting all bloggers to join in a link-up to share the art that their kids have created for this event! We look forward to viewing YOUR children's, grandchildren's and/or classes' artwork as well, as we support the efforts of the selfless individuals at Cross Catholic who help our Central American brothers and sisters!

Who are the Hosting Bloggers?

Please be sure to give the hosting blogs some love. There, you will find many inspirational posts:

Jennifer from Catholic Inspired
Pete from The Catholic Book Blogger
Jen from Enter Under My Roof
Chris from Campfires and Cleats
Monica from Equipping Catholic Families
Birgit from Designs By Birgit
Jen from Happy Little Homemaker
Nancy from Do Small Things with Love
All of the above blogs are publicizing Cross Catholic's herculean efforts to help the needy!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Veils and an Advent Veiling Blog Link-up

Before Thanksgiving preparations for much of our extended family sweeps me away, I wanted to let you know about a wonderful cyberspace event in which I am participating. It's the Advent Veil Link-up and Giveaway and as the name implies, we'll be offering 1.) opportunities to read blog posts about veiling, 2.) a place for you to link your own veiling posts, and 3.) the chance to win one of several veils to be given away during Advent. This is your advance warning, so stay tuned and don't miss out!

As someone who hasn't been veiling that long, I've written about my discernment and research on starting this discipline, a veiling meditation using the Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary, and a veiling update answering a few questions that arose from my first post. There was also a recent post entitled, Interior Disposition: Why Fix Your Hair, If You're Wearing a Veil?, which spotlighted how I feel about my motivation for veiling.

And in case you're wondering, my adult daughter and I are the only two ladies who veil at our small rural parish - except for the occasional visiting veiler. There's also a very informal and most unscientific poll being conducted by my dear husband, and loyal supporter. He travels for work frequently and always reports back to me about the veiling habits of parishes throughout the country. From his encounters and from what I read in the blogosphere, I have noted a slow, but consistent trend toward veiling all over the country.

So here we are, at the point of this post where I tell you a few details.

This is the veil being given away by Veil Designs by Birgit!

  • The Advent Veiling Link-up and Giveaway will begin on December 2nd, the first Monday of Advent.
  • So you don't have a lot of time to get busy and write your post so that you'll be ready when the linky goes live! This will be a fantastic opportunity to drive traffic to your blog as well as reading thoughts about veiling from others.
  • The time frame for the Advent Veil Giveaway will be announced soon and includes five veils to be given away throughout Advent.
  • Stay with us throughout the season of Advent for the opportunity to read more posts as they are linked up and to win veils as each participant holds her individual entry opportunity and random drawing. 
Enter to win one of my veils here:

 Rafflecopter giveaway  

Follow this link to Veil Designs by Birgit to see some of the veils available for sale.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sanctity of LIFE Sunday - #4

Cancer and pregnancy - you don't often see them in the same sentence - but it does happen. One brave lady dealt with it in a unique way...
This coming Thursday, we will be celebrating Thanksgiving. As pro-life advocates, we recognize our need to be thankful to God our Creator for our lives. We also keep in mind all of the mothers who, even during difficult circumstances, chose to give the gift of life to their children. One such mother is our daughter, Erika, who was diagnosed with BRCA-1 breast cancer at 20 weeks pregnant. She was only 28 years old, and the youngest diagnosis in an unbroken maternal line. Local doctors gave no acceptable options, but MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX guided her through chemotherapy during pregnancy.

As is her character, Erika made the best of what was happening and painted her belly to resemble a turkey. Her healthy (Butterball) daughter, Rachel, was born on Thanksgiving Day - her daddy's birthday. We have much for which to be thankful, but this is an especially dear topic of gratitude. You may read more of this amazing journey here: Bald, Pregnant and Living

Rachel will be turning 4 this year and Erika is cancer free!

As always, feel free to share any of my pro-life posters. Many of them can be found on the Designs by Birgit fan page on Facebook.
In His Name for Life,
Birgit J

Saturday, November 23, 2013

"Keep Christ in Christmas" Link-up - Share Your Advent!

Want to launch your Advent, focused on JESUS?

Want to share your ideas for keeping Christ in CHRISTmas?
Then join us for
Keep Christ in CHRISTmas !

Welcome! I'm really excited to be a part of this group effort to Keep Christ in CHRISTmas. It's an honor to be one of the eight hostesses - this is an awesome group of bloggers. I hope you'll visit each post - they all have a wonderful way with words!

Now let's get to the details of the Keep Christ in CHRISTmas Link-up:

What's the Keep Christ in CHRISTmas Blog Link-up?

A blog link-up is an opportunity to write a blog post, on the same theme as others, and exponentially increase readership for all involved. Participating this year is great way to spread the message of Keeping Christ in CHRISTmas!

Would you like to share what your family is doing for Advent this year? Then join us in the 2nd Annual Keep Christ in CHRISTmas Blog Link-Up 2013.

Optional: You'll also have the chance to sign up for the Follow Frenzy which will drive more traffic (and worthwhile comments) to your blog - as you do the same for others.

What's the Follow Frenzy?

If you choose to participate in this option, you'll commit to visiting and leaving meaningful comments on 20 different blog posts that are part of the Keep Christ in CHRISTmas Blog Link-Up 2013(and receiving 20 meaningful comments on your own blogpost in return!)

This link-up is open to all bloggers, particularly Catholics and Christians of all denominations who observe ADVENT. You may write about anything that pertains to the blog theme, e.g. share tips on how you and your family keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas; stories to encourage others to do so; books and activities (even recipes!) that help you focus on Jesus throughout Advent.

How Can  I Participate?

1. Register by filling out the registration form no later than Thursday, November 28, 2013 - Thanksgiving Day.

2. Write your blog post on the theme, "Keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas" in the first week of ADVENT and publish the blog post on December 1 or 2, 2013. When you fill out the form we will send you with the direct URL link to your blog post, no later than December 2, 2013 at noon(EST).

3. You will receive the complete list of blog post links by 3pm on December 2, 2013 (EST) for you to add at the bottom of your post. Please make sure to do this in fairness to all of the other hard-working bloggers.

Add this button to your post.

4. Make sure that you include this button (created by Monica) at the beginning of your post...

AND the following introduction along with the hostesses' info:

"I’m participating in the KEEP CHRIST in CHRISTmas Blog Link-Up 2013, hosted by:

Birgit at Designs by Birgit (that's me) 

We'll be sharing different ways, tips, stories and real-life experiences that will help us focus our Advent and Christmas on JESUS!

Please scroll down to the end of the post to see the list of link-up entries.”

Finally, friends - please bear in mind that the Keep Christ in CHRISTmas Blog Link-Up 2013 is much more impressive and easily promoted if we can coordinate all the posts going live around the same time. By launching this Keep Christ in CHRISTmas Link-up in the first week of Advent…we hope to help families focus their Advent and anticipation of Christmas…before the hectic craziness of Christmas takes over.

So Here's a Re-cap of Important Stuff

1. Use this REGISTRATION FORM to register your blog by November 28, 2013

2. Publish your blog post on December 1 or 2, 2013. (No later than December 2 at noon EST).

3. Send in the URL to your blog post for the link-up (by filling out the LINK FORM we will send you) as soon as you publish your blog post, no later than December 2 at noon EST.

4. You will receive a final list of link-up participants as soon as it is available on December 2nd. Add the list of link-up participants to the end of your blog post by December 2, 5pm.


5. Specify in the registration form that you intend to participate in the FOLLOW FRENZY.

6. You will receive your list of blogs to visit on December 2, 2013.

7. Visit, leave meaningful comments and hopefully subscribe or follow 20 newly discovered Blogs by December 9, 2013.

PLEASE NOTE: Kindly write about the theme provided. We do not moderate or screen posts but we do reserve the right to exclude your entry from the list of link-up participants should your post be offensive, irrelevant to the link-up theme, contain personal attacks, off-topic articles, articles that are anti-Christ or are articles aimed to market products or services.

Thank you very much for joining the carnival!!

Let's all help spread the word on Keeping CHRIST in CHRISTmas!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Meatless Friday: Tantalizingly Tasty Tuna Salad

It's time to share another recipe from our meatless Friday menu. This time it's an easy, rich tuna salad that lends itself well to sandwiches or scooped onto a bed of lettuce. Packed full of veggies and other good things, this is kid friendly and healthy. It's also low carb, if served without bread.

Tantalizingly Tasty Tuna Salad

2-3 cans of Tuna - I prefer albacore because it's flaky, not mushy
1/2 celery heart
1 small red onion
1 small apple
6-8 dill pickle spears
1 avocado
1 hard boiled egg
4 T Hellman's mayo (not low fat)
1/2 t Lawry's seasoned salt
1/4 t coarse ground pepper

Drain tuna well and place in bowl. Chop items 2-4. I use my handy dandy Max, which is a mini food processor, and chop all of the vegetables, the apple, and the pickles. Place in bowl as you go. Cut avocado into chunks and add to bowl. Peel and chop egg and add. Next add mayo, salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly. This can be served immediately or chilled for later use. The flavors permeate well, when this dish is stored, so tastes at least as good if served the next day.

NOTE: I use the same ingredients for a hearty, creamy chicken salad. Just add chicken instead of tuna and 1/4 t of curry.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A Rapist's Parental Rights

I'll bet you're thinking, 'what parental rights'? How could someone who perpetuates the heinous crime of rape have rights to anything? Sadly, in this troubled world of ours, the 'rest of the story' does more than make you shake your head in disbelief. As someone who was victim of this crime- and a resulting pregnancy - I can't even imagine the horror of having the very core of your being taken from you and then being forced into a legal battle with the perpetrator and his perverted idea of 'paternity'. Yet, in 31 states, that's exactly what happens. From the website of 31 States:
It is estimated that there are between 25,000 and 32,000 rape-related pregnancies annually in the United States. - (HR 2772)
Unbelievably, 31 states allow the criminal to pursue his victim and her innocent child in an attempt to remain forever in their lives. This is simply unconscionable!

Through brave souls who have fought this battle, both on their own behalf or on the behalf of others, a feature length documentary, 31 States, is planned for release during the summer of 2014. The website tells us, "31 States is the story of women across America who have been raped, conceived from that rape, gave birth and then had to fight their rapist in court for custody of their rape conceived child. In addition to the personal stories, this film explores the lack of legal protection afforded to these women in 31 States".

In traveling across the nation for interviews with those best equipped to detail this travesty, they hope to create awareness of this repugnant situation and encourage the public to work toward real change. That's where you and I come in. Did you know about this horrendous miscarriage of justice? I didn't. If you, like me, are scandalized by the notion, please share this post and plan to attend the documentary when it comes out. Tell your friends, to stay abreast of relevant news, and most importantly - pray for these women and the children they so unselfishly chose to bear and protect.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sanctity of LIFE Sunday - #3

Are you smarter than a 4-year-old?

While this question may appear facetious on the surface, remember there are pro-abortion people out there who try to convince others that an unborn child is nothing more than a blob of tissue. Sadly, some frightened women fall for this rhetoric, have an abortion, and live the rest of their lives in regret. On one particular day, I was looking through some developmental photos on my computer. Four-year old Sarah walked up, looked at the photo and said, 'awww, what a cute little baby!'. In her childish innocence, she easily saw the truth. So, as pro-life advocates, we need to help people take the scales from their eyes and see the obvious truth - with honest eyes like those of a child.

As always, feel free to share any of my pro-life posters. Many of them can be found on the Designs by Birgit fan page on Facebook.
In His Name for Life,
Birgit J

Hearts for Home Blog Hop

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sanctity of LIFE Sunday - #2

And God blessed them, saying: Increase and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it, and rule over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and all living creatures that move upon the earth.
~Genesis 1:28

Much compassion is directed toward our animal friends these days. In and of itself, that is as it should be. After all, we have a moral obligation to treat our animal companions well. A cause for concern, however, arises when a world plagued with inhumanity to vulnerable people, disproportionately elevates animals - above the unborn, infirm and aged. While kindness should extend to our animal friends, those who care for them and bemoan their dire circumstances - all the while ignoring the plight of the unborn - fall far from righteousness. All things in proportionate measure...

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Don't be a Cafeteria Prolifer

Whether reading the Declaration of Independence or the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), one point is saliently clear - each human being has an intrinsic right to life. This right is an absolute - we all have the right to life, period. There are no caveats - there is no 'but' - this God-given right simply is. Why then, do we consistently find delineations made according to age or who one is? As I mentioned in a previous post, we in the prolife movement have been operating under an incremental assumption for 40 years now. Incrementalism, however, is a faulty premise in that it assigns varying degrees of importance to classes of people - according to some criterion or another.

"Human life is sacred because from its beginning it involves the creative action of God and it remains for ever in a special relationship with the Creator, who is its sole end. God alone is the Lord of life from its beginning until its end: no one can under any circumstance claim for himself the right directly to destroy an innocent human being." ~CCC 2258

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness." (The Declaration of Independence)

Who are We to Pick and Choose the Worthiness of Life?

So what are the criteria de jour? Lately, it's been fashionable to be prolife by expounding the desire to save the unborn if they are more than 20 weeks of gestational age. Seeing politicians, whose voting records are far from genuinely prolife, speak of a national law protecting this group of babies seems rather disingenuous to me. What we're saying, in essence, is that a baby who is 19.5 weeks in gestational age is expendable for now - let's just save the more mature ones. That way we can appear prolife without the pain of sticking to the hard line. I may seem to be promoting a purist form of prolife belief, but let's look at the whole picture. Who are we leaving out? To begin with, we're excluding the younger babies - those who are under the 20 week gestational age. Next, we're also leaving out those 'exception babies' - you know, the ones who were conceived in rape or incest or the ones who are conveniently portrayed as a 'danger' to the health of the mother.

Is it the Capability of Feeling or the Life That Matters?

Recent politically acceptable scientific studies indicate that the unborn feel pain at around 20 weeks. Yet, we've all seen videos and read articles about much younger unborn babies squirming away from touch stimuli. But is that really even the point at all? What if someone doesn't feel - pain or anything else? Are they less worthy of saving? I think back to my brother-in-law, Jeff. A swimming accident rendered him a quadriplegic at the tender age of 16. Did he deserve to be 'allowed to die' as was suggested by some? He couldn't feel anything above his neck - but he certainly cherished every moment of life. Does my husband's 98 year old grandmother 'deserve' to live? She is in a state of dementia leaving her a fragile shell of her former self. The prayers, songs, and antics of her great-great-grandchildren still find her smiling and clapping - but alas, only occasionally. But who's to say she doesn't have the 'right' to stay with us as long as God wills it?

What we are seeing is a dumbing down of our sensibilities - our consciences are being numbed. Once artificial lines of deserving life are drawn, we're not far from sliding ever deeper down the rabbit hole. The black and white of this issue is simple - life is worthwhile as long as God deems it so. Any deviation from this absolute puts us on the wrong end of judgment - a judgment that isn't ours to make.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Are Aborted Babies Saints in Heaven?

“Unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Spirit, he shall not enter the  kingdom of heaven” (Jn 3:5).

 As Catholic Christians we are gravely aware of the necessity of the sacraments for Eternal Salvation. The first, and therefore, most important early sacrament is Baptism - the washing away of the Original Sin handed down by our First Parents. As Catholic parents, we are admonished by Holy Mother Church, to avail our children of this cleansing Sacrament as early in a child's life as possible. Yet, we've all heard of the tragedies of early infant loss or abortion and can't help but wonder what happens to these unsanctified souls. What becomes of the child who is aborted or miscarried before Baptism? Surely there is some consoling answer for these innocents, whose parents had no opportunity to have them Baptized?

Three Types of Baptism

We are taught that there are three types of Baptism. 1). Baptism by water – using the formulaic prayer, ‘I baptize you, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit'. 2). Baptism by blood - as in the case of someone martyred for the Faith, and 3). Baptism of desire - the cleansing received by a soul who, although planning to be baptized, dies before that act can be completed. We also find a caveat to Baptism of desire: if an individual is innocently unaware of God and is provided the grace to make an act of Faith in a provident God, that person’s soul will be cleansed of Original Sin.

With God All Things are Possible

As the grandmother of five babies who were lost by miscarriage, I have faith that our righteous God provides a just outcome for these babies. By extension, I have faith of the same for babies who die from abortion. He, Himself has said that He 'knows us each by name' before we are born. If we subscribe to the belief that each human soul is given an opportunity to accept or reject God, then I firmly believe our answer lies in such a conviction. After all, these innocents have committed no Actual Sin. For a God who is Eternal, timeless, why would it be a stretch to conceive Him meeting these children at the hour of their death and giving them a choice? According to our poor human terms, they are ill equipped to make such an eternal decision, at so tender an age – but in meeting with their Maker, who are we to say that a mature choice can’t be made?

While no firm, detailed Dogma has been pronounced for our consolation, a certain amount of comfort can be found in this simple faith. God wants what is good for all of His Children. My heart rests easy, in a childlike faith and hope, that He has made just accommodations for these little ones. After all, they found themselves at the mercy of a loving God.

NOTE: A more in-depth treatment of this topic can be found in "The Fate of Unbaptized Infants: Christian Hope and Christian Realism" - which was the inspiration for my post.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Sanctity of Life Sunday - #1

November 3, 2013

There are some things in life that are so obvious, that it's hard to wrap your head around the idea that some people just don't get it. Abortion is one of those things. In this day and age, the scientific misconceptions have been clarified. No honest person can seriously say they don't know the biological facts - the facts have been discovered and shared for all to see. 

If you're in the pro-LIFE fight for the long haul, consider sharing some of these Pro-LIFE Designs by Birgit memes with your friends. There are about 200 of them - and counting. Let's step up, together, and cultivate a Culture of LIFE - one heart at a time.

PS. I'm always looking for new baby photos and quotes to consider. Should you have an idea you'd like to share, please send in an email to Designs by Birgit.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Random Acts of Blessing

A blog post I recently read about parenting really resonated with me. The suggestion I took to heart was to look at your children and say 'I love you' with your eyes. Here was definitely a concept worth trying - and it was like magic! Those little eyes staring back at me said, "I love you" right back. The loving interactions between us increased exponentially - it became my secret super power. Not willing to leave well enough alone, I made an effort to try my new found skill on others. After all, haven't we been inundated with pleadings to love in scripture verses, parables, and gems of wisdom from our parents?

Forgive Us Our Trespasses, as we Forgive

You see, I have accumulated a lifetime of little regrets - things that I could have, should have done differently. That grouchy waitress, the rude clerk, the driver who cut me off - I have felt smugly irate. But then, like a clap of thunder, it hit me. When I'm the one at fault, I make excuses. I'm having a bad day, the kids are distracting, I didn't mean to - it's so easy to explain when it's me. Mea Culpa! If I'm so willing to rationalize my faults, why should I not do the same for others? Why not assume the best, instead of the worst?

Whatever You Do to the Least of These

When we begin to look at others with the eyes of God's love, when we see them from the inside out - that's when we are living the Gospel. Over and over, we are told to love others as we love ourselves. The Beatitudes, alone, speak volumes of this type of compassion and love. God loves us all - bumps included. He doesn't care if we're educated, successful, beautiful, or accomplished. What He cares about is something we, humans, can't see - the immortal soul of each of His creatures.

Performing Random Acts of Blessing

So what are we to take away from these thoughts? What's the point of these ponderings? It all began with that silent look of "I love you" and bringing it to the world around me. Looking at others from the inside out, helps me to focus on the love God feels for us all. What he sees is one of His creatures - not the unkempt hair, questionable clothing, or frantic mind - He sees someone He loves. If I am to live like Him, then I must look inside too - seeing the humanity, yes, but more importantly - seeing the eternal soul.

When I see someone who appears unattractive (looks, attitude, behavior), I give them an "I love you smile". It's become a habit - slowly - to whisper a little internal prayer for them. "Jesus, please bless this person, whom I almost judged just now". I know that He loves us all, maybe the more difficult ones are loved even more. Memories of a quip from my mother come to mind, "when a teenager is the least lovable, that's when they need the most love". We have to wonder how many times our Father in Heaven has felt that way about us.

Transforming Your Love a Little at a Time

A little bit of kindness can go a long way. Now, whenever I encounter a stranger - especially one who looks particularly harsh - I silently bless them. When I encounter a home brandishing the rainbow flag of the United States, I offer a silent prayer for the occupants. When I'm feeling particularly impatient with little voices, who insistently call my name, I stop, look into their eyes and silently say, 'I love you'. I'm not always successful, but success is my goal. The bonus is, sometimes we really do receive in return, that which we give. And if we don't? St. Josemaria Escriva said it beautifully:

Don't say: "that person gets on my nerves". Think: "that person sanctifies me".

There are so many examples in the lives of the saints. These little random acts of blessing can become like St. Theresa's 'little way' - one person at a time. Just think of the possibilities of spreading the wealth of God's love with everyone we encounter. What a beautiful community of God's love we could build! So let's all join together in performing random acts of blessing. In return, we will be ones who are blessed.