The 10 Things That All Christians Can Agree On Day #15 The Purpose Driven Life

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See how very much our Heavenly Father loves us, for He allows us to be called His children, and we really are!    1 John 3:1

I call you my sweet “sister” because in the family of God we are children of the same father and name you “Sweet” because we should be encouraging each other and sharing in each other’s joys.

So I wanted to share with you the joy of my granddaughter’s baptism. I hesitated before deciding to share this as I know different denominations differ on infant baptism. In fact, my son in law hestitated on having her baptized as an infant as well.  Utimately, all the Christians in my family (Protestants and Catholics) see this as just the beginning as we pray that Megan Elise will continue to say “Yes” to following Jesus all the days of her life.

I started this blog to reach out to ALL my Christian sisters as I have a respect for how God is at work in all denominations that believe that Jesus is “the way, the truth and the life”.  I grew up Methodist, spent my late teens attending a Baptist church and joined the Catholic Church as a young adult.  Through the years God has chipped away at many of my misconceptions and prejudices I had against the Catholic Church. I now know from experience that there are sisters and brothers who have a deep personal relationship with Jesus Christ spread throughout ALL the christian denominations. However, our enemy wants us to argue with our brothers and sisters over doctrinal differences so we have less energy to spread the gospel.

Our pulpits should not be used to speak negatively about different denominations but instead to preach the Good News of love, truth and peace. Our focus and energy should always be on how to work together to spread the gospel message that God has provided a way for us to be set free from the chains of sin and death.

So let us focus on what we all can agree on as sister and brothers in the family of God:

1. We can all agree that our deepest heart prayer is that our children will grow up to know, love and serve Jesus Christ all the days of their lives.   While I am thankful for the sacrament of baptism, my biggest prayer is that my granddaughter Megan will continue to say “Yes” to Jesus throughout her life.

2. We can agree that we are all works in progress and that we all make mistakes.  We all need the Lord.

3. None of us can earn our way to heaven. Jesus paid the price.  His sacrifice is enough.  While I am thankful for the graces I have found in confessing to a priest, I know that my protestant sisters can be forgiven by coming directly to Jesus with a humble heart.   (If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 )

4. The evidence of someone who is in the family of God will be good fruit. They will slowly care more about the things that Jesus cared about: the poor, the sick, the aged, those that are chained by addiction and other sins. You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Matthew 7:16

5.  Families share our  joys and divide our sorrows. In the same Church that my granddaughter Megan Elise was baptized in, my daughter Megan Elizabeth was given the sacrament of burial.  My family came to add to our joy for the Baptism.  My family also came to divide our sorrow for burial 22 years before.   I truly felt some of the burden lift through each person who came to the funeral and I received added joy for each family member who came to celebrate our great joy of committing  Megan Elise into the family of God.

So do your best to go to the funerals and to the baptisms, the weddings, the birthdays….While we can’t be everywhere and attend everything, love often requires sacrifice, so prayerfully do your best to be there for each other.

6.  We might not always get along with all of our family members. One of my favorite quotes goes something like this:  Some family members on your life will feel like Velvet and some will feel like sandpaper. God will use the sandpaper family members to make you less rough around the edges, smoother and able to reflect the face of your creator when others look at your life. The velvet ones give us a glimpse into to how much God loves and adores us.  We need both the Sandpaper and Velvet relationships to continue to become more like Jesus…..some people will drive us to our knees in prayer and some in thanksgiving.

7. Forgiveness. My favorite marriage quote is by Ruth Bell Graham “A successful marriage is the union between two good Forgivers”.  Really this is true for all relationships isn’t it? We constantly step (trespass)  on each other’s toes, each other hearts, hopes and dreams with lead feet. Has a family member disappointed you?    Let. It. Go.    Keep saying the quote that Jesus prayed as he slowly died a cruel and violent death. “Forgive them Father…they know not what they do”.  Pray for your sisters and brothers and especially for those who currently share a strained relationship with you.  The enemy’s goal is for division between us sisters and brothers. Don’t give the enemy any ground.  Our Jesus is the Prince of Peace. So let Him rule in your hearts, and in all your earthly and heavenly relationships.

8.  God loves us through our families.  So seek out and make time to be together.  Two of the Commandments are: Honor the Sabbath and Honor your mother and Father. Perhaps seek to spend Sunday with family more? Sunday dinner? Perhaps Pizza so no one needs to work? Play a game after dinner. Chat about the week. God loves us through our families.

9. What if I am really irritated or angry at a particular family member? Write 10 good things about them on a piece of paper. I bet by the time you reach number 10 that you won’t be as irritated. Focusing on the good  brings perspective. Writing things down changes your way of thinking so make sure you don’t just think of the positive things but write. them. down.   Consider giving the family member the list as an encouragement or as a present. (No need to explain the reason why you began the list:)

10.  We may have different Christian brothers and sisters through the many seasons of our lives, but we have one Heavenly Father who gave us his only son, Jesus Christ.  At  each season of your life, seek out Christian sisters and brothers to challenge and encourage you along the way.

So Thank you for sharing in my joy over my Grandbaby’s baptism even if you don’t believe in infant baptism. Thank you for praying with me that she will grow up to know, love and serve Jesus all the days of her life.

We are Family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Wake Up Call

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Four years had passed since I’d last seen Annie and her daughter, and as she approached me, my heart froze, halting between joy and trepidation. Children’s laughter filled the air during the annual family carnival hosted by my preschool, but all I could focus on in those few moments was my last interaction with Annie. I was overjoyed to see her, yet I feared our reconnection might be marred by the fact that I had fired her years ago. Was she angry with me? Was she here to confront me about what had happened? How much had changed in the time since I’d last seen her?

Annie had worked in the infant room of my preschool. Not only did she lovingly care for each infant in her classroom, but she cared for her room as a whole. She loved a clean classroom and the order it provided; she meticulously cleaned each item and table, and continuously tidied up to keep the room spotless. Her daughter, Jenna, thrived in the preschool, as well. Jenna’s father had died in a car crash soon after she was born, leaving Annie a young, single mom. We joked how Jenna was Annie’s “Mini-Me” as they looked so much alike. She was a diligent and determined young woman who took great pride in her work and I was glad to have her as an employee.

After a year of teaching in the infant room, Annie was faced with another tragedy. Her best friend suddenly died of an aneurysm and her world spun out of control. Her focus shifted from her classroom as she processed this new grief on top of her older grief. Instead of working through her grief, Annie put her efforts into attempting to numb the pain. Noticing she was struggling, I invited her into my office and tried to encourage her to join a grief group, but she was not yet ready to face her grief head on. She was trying to outrun her pain, and it was wearing on her. She increasingly called out of work, and on the days she did show up her co- teacher ended up doing most of the classroom duties. My heart ached for her, but as the owner of the preschool, my main responsibility had to remain the children, and providing them with the best care possible. I was torn. I had compassion for Annie and her situation, but I also had compassion for the children in her care and her co-teacher. I wrote her name in my prayer journal and prayed for her each morning. I hoped and prayed that she would find healing some way. That she would learn healthy ways to handle her grief. That her weariness would lift. That she would return to us, the focused, caring, diligent teacher we all knew and loved.

Then, another teacher reported Annie had nodded off during the children’s nap time. This is a major violation of my school’s policy. My director brought her into my office to discuss our concern. On a Thursday afternoon, I told her that she needed to make some changes in her personal life and to take Friday off and come back in Monday with a fresh start. I also had to inform her that if it happened again I would need to fire her.

She came back in Monday, and I was hopeful that she had made some positive changes. But a few days later when the children were resting she dozed off again. As the owner and lead supervisor on site, I knew what I “needed” to do, as the safety of the students must come first.  However, asking Annie and her daughter to leave was the last thing I “wanted” to do. I invited her in and told her that she needed to leave immediately. Annie was very quiet and did not dispute that she had fallen asleep. She calmly picked up her daughter and left the building. My heart grieved as she walked out the door. The last thing I’d wanted to do was send her off when I knew she was grieving, but I knew it was the right decision for the school. For years, I questioned my decision. I wondered if I had failed her. I wondered what had became of her and Jenna.

And so four years later when she stood before me, I was filled with mixed emotions. I was so happy to see her and her beautiful Mini-Me. I was relieved and overjoyed that they seemed to be doing well. But I couldn’t help but wonder how she was feeling toward me now. I couldn’t help but wonder how my decision had impacted their lives.

As Annie and Jenna approached,

Annie looked me in the eye and said, “Thanks for the wakeup call.” 

She wasn’t angry. She didn’t blame me or my staff. She was grateful. We hugged and caught up and she and Jenna returned to the carnival.

I was blessed with the opportunity to rekindle a relationship with Annie and to learn more about what was happening during that time. She confided that she felt her life was falling apart and felt lost. She had settled into a toxic, abusive relationship and had lost the will to fight for herself. Instead of heeding my advice for a grief support group, she continued to let her world spin out of control, staying out late with friends and not getting enough sleep. I learned that Annie struggled with being alone at night and was prescribed medication for anxiety that had made her excessively tired during the day. She shared her sorrow at being fired from the place that she loved so much, but that it served as a much needed wakeup call. Unsettled by being asked to leave, Annie was driven to start fighting for and taking responsibility for her happiness, step by step. She found new friends, a new boyfriend, and a new job as a nanny. Annie told me,

happylife

While you can’t control what happens to you, you can control what happens next. If you want a happy life, live a happy life.”

Annie’s words of gratitude felt like a spring rain after a dry, cold winter wait. I was grateful that my tough decision had positively impacted her life. How many employers have an employee they have fired come back and thank them? I was grateful for the confirmation that sometimes tough love is needed in tough situations. I no longer questioned myself and wondered if I failed her. I rejoiced in knowing that she had taken control not only of her grief, but of her life and her own happiness.

As I shared with my husband my interaction with Annie, we both felt that we would like her to come back and teach in our school. I am a big believer in second chances, and knew in my heart that Annie had more than earned hers. We called her and asked if she would like to come back to work for us. Providentially, the family she was working for was moving to Florida. She used this opportunity to return to our school as a long term substitute. She came back full of joy and energy and the hard work and dedication we had initially seen those years ago. Soon, she was back to being a full time teacher. Her first year back, Annie won Teacher of the Year. She has now been with us for three years and I am grateful to have her.

Who would have thought that letting her go was the wakeup call that would bring her back? Only the God of wakeup calls and second chances.

When You Wake Up Regretting Your Choices From The Night Before…

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Dear Sweet Sister,

I heard that you woke up regretting your choices from the night before. I have been there sister ….many times.  We try to blame someone else, make justifications and excuses …..and then the agonizing guilt when we finally admit that we made an unholy choice and disappointed our Holy God.

It we truly don’t want to make the same mistake again and grow from this then we do need to feel that pain for a short while. For God loves you and I so much that He wants us to grow in holiness and learn from our mistakes.   Name your sin and find a bible verse that deals with it so you will be better prepared next time. (google it:) What should you have done differently? What will you do next time to avoid a similar situation or outcome?

Now the good news………..

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Our sin is  like a drop of water in the Ocean of God’s Mercy………………Mother Angelica   

Our sin is like a drop of water in the Ocean of God’s Mercy.

Compared to God’s ocean of Love and Mercy, your sin is just a drop. Think of how huge the ocean is…water beyond what your eyes and mind could ever comprehend.  Now try to comprehend Mercy and forgiveness that is beyond what we could ever deserve. A forgiveness that erases our sins as if they never existed.  So write your sin down and tell God that you are sorry. If you are at the seashore write it in the sand.  If you are catholic arrange to receive the sacrament of reconciliation.  The key is to acknowledge your sin.

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If we acknowledge our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.

1 John 1:9

Do you need to apologize to a friend or family member? make restitution? Even though we are forgiven, sometimes we need to show that we are sorry. Ask God for wisdom and help with this…courage too.

Now rejoice!  You are forgiven.

God asked Mother Angelica, as she stood by the ocean after throwing back a drop of water that had landed on her arm….

“Can you find it now  ?”

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Walk sweet sister as one who has been forgiven much and then offer that same generous mercy to all those around you.

Oh Give My Husband a Brand New Wife

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My friend’s sobs echoed over the phone as she shared that her husband didn’t value the “new her,” but instead wanted to keep her back from growing into the vivacious woman I knew her to be. How sad that he couldn’t value growth and put in the effort and grow to love the “new Kelly.”  I sat down and wrote this poem after our phone conversation.

A Brand New Marriage

Oh give my husband a brand new wife
One that will serve him lovingly
Give him the helpmate he deserves
And may that “new wife” always be me

Oh give my husband a hot mistress
One that will surprise him lovingly
Give her energy and fresh ideas
And may that “mistress” always be me

Oh give my husband a new best friend
One that will listen lovingly
Give her wisdom to find the good
And may that “best friend” always be me   

So how does one protect one’s marriage as we grow individually and through the seasons of Life?

Here are some tidbits of advice that my husband and I have gleamed through the years.

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Happy 27th Wedding Anniversary to my husband!

Keep dating.
Our priest from Gettysburg College, Father Phil gave us the advice to “keep dating” when he met with us before our marriage. With each season of our marriage, life has changed, and so have our dates. A neighbor babysitter coming over for two hours a week so Dave and I could go out when our children were small, intimate lunches when we started our business, family members who watched the children so we could take a long weekend. Be creative, be proactive, and just do it.

“The best thing you can do for your children is to have a good marriage.”
This was the advice we received when we went to a day-long marriage encounter. This quote helped take away all my guilt about leaving my children to “date” their father or travel with him.  The children will grow up and share their own relationships and putting our spouse first is a way to model for them what a thriving marriage looks like.

A successful marriage is the union of two forgivers.
– Ruth Graham Bell.

Yes, your partner is not perfect. Yes, they are irritating at times. Yes, they keep hurting you.
This is what Love is about. Forgiving and seeing the overall good in your spouse. May they see the overall good in us. For we are imperfect people, who make mistakes and we can be so irritating to others. Love is a covering. Love does not “keep a record of wrongs,” so when you are angry or hurt or lonely, write down 10 good things about your husband and see if your perspective changes. Keep a record of Rights. What is right about your hubby.

This weekend seek out a way to date your spouse. What are some creative ways that you like to spend with your spouse? Please share them in the comments below.