Be The Advent Light

16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.

Last Saturday I was decorating a small Christmas tree in our downstairs bathroom. As  I turned on the lights to the mini tree all the ornaments took on a new look. The light caused this change because it brought out the beauty of the brilliant colors of the simple bulbs. I was asking God, “What should I write about this week?  Lord, help me.” Then as I was mopping the floor He gave me the idea about being a light to others.

The freedom of retirement, Mike washing Jonah (my car) on Monday instead of Saturday.
Why?

This week has been a bit of a struggle; I’m on antibiotics due to a stomach bacteria in my gut. I have no fear in this condition, but it still weighs on me. When I drove to Costco to pick-up the prescription it was not ready. The sales clerk told me that order was not filled because the cost for the medicine was $900! I would never pay this amount. With a shocked look on my face, the lady proceeded to inform me that  they were going to work on getting the price down. “Okay, but I’m not willing to pay anything over $75!” I answered.  A half an hour later, the prescription was broken down into three different drugs at a cost of $49. How can you trust Big Pharma? How do you get from $900 to $49?

Retirement

My husband Mike retired and, even though he has been working from home because of COVID, we keep bumping heads about the smallest things. His main grievances against me are that I have way too many emails and  I save too many photos on my phone. I know people who have over 20,000 emails and over 5,000 photos on their phones and it hasn’t stopped the world from spinning off its axis. It bothers me that Mike is so organized, all household cords are meticulously wound up. This drives me crazy! Needless to say, his retirement is  going to take some adjusting.

I feel responsible for causing him any heartache because I was not taking into consideration that retirement is a drastic change in his life. When two of  the men who worked under him came to pick up the company car, I saw great sadness in their eyes. Of course Mike had the car washed and gassed up before turning it in, because this is who Mike is. When the men left, I came inside and started to cry. “Why are you crying?” He asked. “I don’t know, I’m sad.” I answered. It had finally hit me of how Mike was feeling. He was the best boss; he always took care of his workers. Mike was the light in that company because he is a scrupulous and empathetic man. When things were not right he called them out. When we have this type of boldness, we understand that it is the Holy Spirit guiding us.

The Light

There is a special spiritual light that comes from God’s illumination. Through His Holy Spirit we receive this light. We are to shine His love on others. You cannot do this unless you are moved by the spirit of God. When the headstrong Israelites were wandering through the desert, God’s light was always with them. They did not make the spiritual connection because all their murmuring caused them to remain in the wilderness. They were spiritually wandering in the wilderness for 40 years. Yet for 40 years God provided for them, even though they could not enter in because of their unbelief.

These past couple of weeks I have had several unpleasant encounters by being combative and at times a little difficult. When poorly trained cashiers meet impatient customers like me, the outcome is not pleasant. Sometimes I forget to be that light and cast darkness in the situation by attempting to prove my point.  After I repeat the story to others, the Lord benevolently shows me that the customer may be always right but that I must be gracious in my protest. When companies are understaffed and overworked, the last thing they want to hear is fault-finding from an irate customer.

Sunday morning after Mass we went out for breakfast at a local eatery.  As I passed through the front door a stench of raw eggs silently slapped my face, but I kept the gagging to myself. “Be the light, be the light,” I told myself. When the milk was delivered to our table, again the egg smell hit my nostrils as I took the first sip. I held my tongue, and got through the meal without a complaint.

Advent

Advent is a time to reflect on the birth of Christ at Christmas. We are reminded to pray and fast during this holy season. Advent is referred to as “little Lent” because we should be looking inward and drawing closer to God through the Sacrament of Holy Communion. We wait for our Messiah with great anticipation for His Second Coming. Our hearts should be filled with a giving spirit, giving of your time to help others. We participate in giving by prayer and fasting, we donate to those who are  going through financial challenges. We make special efforts to visit those who are homebound,  and we visit prisoners.

Visiting Prisoners

We are all made in the image of God. We all have imperfections. I was talking to my brother George the other day and he asked me if I was dyslexic. I’ve known this about myself for years, the fact that I still count on my fingers, or transpose numbers and letters has always been a huge challenge. I learned to cope by using other tools like memorizing things or repeating what I read over and over again. Because of my dyslexia I have a photographic memory. My brother shared with me that over 48% of the prison population suffers from dyslexia. This made a lot of sense to me because when you have a learning disability, frustration and anger can play a huge role in your formative years. If you can’t read, you can’t function in today’s society and in many cases these young men who suffer from this disorder fall into the cracks and many end up in jail.

In December of 2019 the First Step Act was passed by Congress This law was introduced by Republican Senator Bill Cassidy. Before becoming a senator he was a physician working in three different prison clinics. This is when he made the connection with dyslexia and prisons. This new law will evaluate prisoners with learning disabilities and teach them to read and overcome problems related to dyslexia.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, Thank you for all that you have bestowed on us. Help us to draw closer to You during Advent. May we be used to shine Your light on others, and especially during Advent. We seek to be in Your Holy Presence; we remove our sandals as we stand on Your holy ground. Use us as Your light to lead others out of darkness. Amen.

 

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We Give Thanks

16 Rejoice always. 17 Pray without ceasing. 18 In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

There is not a day in my life that goes by that I do not give thanks to the Lord. Whenever trials come my way, I pray. Our faithfulness to God is what makes us depend on His  providence.  It does not matter how grave the situation may become, when we depend on God He will see us through it. As I get older I find myself questioning life and whether I have lived up to God’s expectations. All I really want to hear is, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.” I never feel that I have done enough for our Lord. Even at my age I want to continue to do more and draw closer to Him.

Thanksgiving

Our Thanksgiving this year will be the smallest we’ve ever had. Jenny, our daughter-in-law, and Maddie, our granddaughter, are traveling to Minnesota to support their family as they go through a family illness. That will not stop Mike from making the best Thanksgiving dinner with all the fixings. What Mike does is beyond our expectations. I am never allowed to enter into the kitchen while he is prepping. He is  like an artist with his canvas, and the unveiling will take place at the dinner table. The turkey is brined overnight to enhance the tenderness. We will also feast on creamed corn (my favorite), sweet potato casserole, au gratin potatoes and green beans. We will not be serving salad this year because this is Jenny’s contribution to the meal and no one can match her salads. Both Jenny and Maddie will be missed, but I am overjoyed that they will be celebrating with her family; it’s been years since Jenny has been there for Thanksgiving.

During this time of year I always think of all the homeless people I have met throughout my 20 years of service on Skid Row. My prayers are always the same. “Lord protect them, help them to become the persons You have called them to be. Provide for them in every area of their lives, and keep them safe and warm.” My connection to them will always be in my heart. I am asking God how I can make myself available in helping with this crisis we have in our country, because so many homeless people and not enough help.

Our Problem

The crisis of homelessness affects all of us. We need to get the right kind of help to get this marginalized population to a new direction. From my experience, the majority of the homeless population has fallen through the cracks of society because we are helping them in the wrong way. The first and foremost problem is abandonment. This is a mental state of mind that needs psychological evaluation. I understand all the efforts that our government is doing to alleviate the problem; I’ve helped with many of these outreaches. The simple truth is this: the homeless need love. Many of them will receive a warm Thanksgiving meal but that’s just one meal! The rest of the year they will scramble for meals. Remember it was during COVID that we could no longer go to Skid Row. This was a message from God to help in other ways. I have since offered my services to a local church in providing supplies to furnish apartments for them. I did this from my heart. I received a $200 gift card from a dear friend, Bishop Mendez, who was spearheading the outreach. I headed to Walmart for pots and pans and other kitchen supplies. I blew through that money quickly.  I waited until a local second hand store marked down their merchandise by half. I purchased plates, silverware and whatever else I could get ahold of with my own money. The beddings I purchased new because there is nothing fresher and more inviting than new linens and blankets. I look forward to helping with making the world a better place once this whole COVID thing is behind us.

20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord, and choosing from every clean animal and every clean bird, he offered burnt offerings on the altar.

Giving Thanks To God

In Genesis 8:20 we find that Noah gave thanks to God by building an altar to the Lord. This was a customary theme in the Word of God: thanksgiving to God and displaying reverence when their lives were spared, when they won a battle or were blessed. My husband Mike shared with me that each morning before getting out of bed, he gives thanks to God for a new day. He continues his petition with praying protection for our family. I, on the other hand, pray during the night and throughout the day. I thank God for all He has done in our lives, and I thank Him for His healing power over our minds and bodies. How can we celebrate Thanksgiving without paying homage to God, Who provides all things?

The Family

We are blessed to have our grown family living near us. We gather together on a regular basis for casual meals and many times take vacations together. We are a family whose core beliefs are in God. Not one family member is excluded from the sheepfold. Sometimes as one sheep escapes, we guide them back home through prayer. I was once a young parent, and I have full knowledge of the sacrifices a parent makes to keep the family from harm’s way.  Our world has become more dangerous since we were parents, and the challenges are greater. I pray for all parents, that they not  give in to the things of the world, because we are not of this world.

On Sunday at Mass we celebrated “Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe” and the Scripture reading was about his Kingship. When Pilate asked Jesus if he was King of the Jews, Jesus’ response was:

John 33:36-37 New American Bible Revised Edition

 36 Jesus answered, “My kingdom does not belong to this world. If my kingdom did belong to this world, my attendants [would] be fighting to keep me from being handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my kingdom is not here.” 37 So Pilate said to him, “Then you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.”

My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, we give You all the thanks for Your provisions. Bless Jenny and Maddie with traveling mercies and bring them back home safe. I pray for Your glory to shine on us all. Feed the hungry and clothe the poor but, most of all, allow them to feel Your holy presence. I lift up Bobbi and Amy; Lord, heal them.  Amen.

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A Still Small Voice

Whenever the Israelites wandered off into a wrong spiritual direction, God would send them a prophet. Prophets were the most perplexing people; their sometimes odd behavior often placed them in difficult situations. Elijah was no different. Prophets were Gods emissarie’s to redirect the path of lost souls. Elijah lived in a time when people gullibly followed the way of the world.

The meaning of Elijah’s name is “My God is Yahweh.” It is said that Elijah’s father had a vision of angels swaddling the infant in flames and feeding him with fire. Jezebel was a Phoenician- born princess who hated everything that stood for God. Her  marriage to Ahab was to form a political alliance. Ahab was king of the Northern Kingdom “called (Israel)” which was in need of a larger military force; with this union the Northern Kingdom would have better protection while traveling through trade routes. This marriage also gave them access to the Phoenician ports. In this marriage they became one and Jezebel’s evil spirit overtook Ahab’s beliefs.

The Marriage

The Word of God speaks of marriage as becoming a union; two become one. The partner who has the stronger devotion will  impose with her beliefs on the other one. In many real life marriages the woman has a stronger committment with God. In our marriage my relationship with God is different from that of my husband Mike. Only after I returned to the Catholic Church did my husband start attending Mass with me. He waited until I stopped attending all the different Protestant churches before he made his way back.  Mike was patient with me and allowed me to search for Jesus on my own.  During this time I longed for Mike to accompany me to services. Many times I’d cry, begging God to bring him to the services with me. But God was in control; He protected Mike from giving into my spiritual beliefs which were influenced by Protestant theology. After all, it was through my searching that I developed a love for the Bible.

Jezebel had been controlled by diabolical spirits from birth. She not only knew how to worship false gods, she wanted to convert the people of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) to her beliefs. Ahab and Jezebel became one, and their idolatry caused many Israelites to follow their religious beliefs. For this reason God sent Elijah to restore the Israelites to faith in the One True God. God warned Elijah about a three-and-a-half year drought. This drought was not only physical, it was spiritual as well.

Elijah

Elijah is known as “the second Moses.” Their similarities are astonishing. They both experienced the fire of God; they both fasted for 40 days; they both ate food by God’s provision; and they both parted the waters. Both Moses and Elijah experienced the power of God through His thunder, lightning and earthquakes.

Elijah was up against the most evil, wicked Jezebel and her weak husband Ahab. They would do anything to maintain power. It was a difficult time for the Israelites who served God because Jezebel outlawed any worship of The One True God.  She ordered all the holy places torn down to make room for her false god Baal.

The still small voice is a calling to spend time in prayer. We must train ourselves to shut out all the loud distractions of our lives to hear the voice of God. Both  Moses and Elijah traversed high mountains to hear God. They never feared the thunder, lightning or earthquakes because they were deep in prayer, waiting for God to speak to them. These prophets were not equipped with hiking gear. They had no special containers to store their water; and no hiking boots because they wore sandals.  All they had was their trust that God would provide. When we go hiking, we prepare with backpacks with special compartments to store water. Our hiking boots are made to keep us from falling. In prayer we should visualize all the gear we need for reaching our Mount Sinai because when you reach the top you can rest and appreciate the view of supplication well done. You can hear the still small voice of God as it reaches you through a cool breeze. God is waiting for us; He longs to bless us.

Our media today is overly dramatic; it attempts to plant fear in our minds in order to control us. I have never experienced such collusion in persuading the people in our country to turn their backs against God. The News Media, Big Tech, and Social Media are the driving forces in this takeover by feeding lies to our minds. And like most of the foolish Israelites those who are deceived followed Baal,the god of the underworld . Today everything that Christians believe is being destroyed: sexual immorality (Eph 5:5), marriage,( Gn 2:24) homosexuality: (Rom 1:26-28) and abortion: (Ex 1:15-21; Ps 139:13-14) atheism, (Ps 14:1-5).   Like Jezebel destroying all the holy things of God, we are allowing religious statues to be desecrated or toppled over. You see, in order for communism to succeed, all godly things must be removed. Jezebel killed over 400 prophets in Israel in order to silence them, while supporting 450 of Baal. That is what is happening to Christians today as the Jezebel spirit is alive and well in our country. We must join forces with Moses and Elijah to climb that spiritual mountain and bring down these false gods who are attempting to divide us.

In the end God intervened; Ahab, the bad king, was killed in battle, and all seventy of his sons were killed as well. This is symbolic of a nation ridding the systemic problem: when all of Ahab and Jezebel’s bloodline was massacred.

33 “Throw her down,” he ordered. They threw her down, and some of her blood spurted against the wall and against the horses. Jehu trod over her body 34 and, after eating and drinking, he said: “Attend to that accursed woman and bury her; for she was the daughter of a king.” 35 But when they went to bury her, they found nothing of her but the skull, the feet, and the hands. 36 They returned to Jehu, and when they told him, he said, “This is the word the Lord spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: In the confines of Jezreel the dogs shall devour the flesh of Jezebel.
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Elijah, on the other hand, went to heaven on a chariot of fire.

11 As they walked on still conversing, a fiery chariot and fiery horses came between the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind,

My Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, as we ascend the holy mountain, speak to us in a still small voice. Give us the mantle of Elijah and the double portion anointing of Elisha to be able to fight the Jezebel spirit in our country. Lord, deal with those who are leading many away from Your spirit. Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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