Archives for October 2012

Humility is Not Thinking Less of Yourself: My Favorite Quote

“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” This quote from C.S. Lewis has become my favorite quote over the years. I used to think that humility meant never giving yourself credit. Humility meant being humble to me, but I have realized that I didn’t understand the word until recently. Being humble doesn’t mean playing down your strong attributes and not taking credit for the good things you have done. In my opinion it is more about being able to realize that it isn’t always about you.

I often enjoy looking at things from a sports perspective, so here’s an example of humility in sports. Say you’re the star pitcher of a baseball team and you just threw a no-hitter. This is a pretty special accomplishment that a person should take pride in. It’s completely okay to be happy about your performance. The pitcher without humility talks in the post game interview about how great he is and how he is really proud of himself, which is not wrong. However, the pitcher with humility draws attention to the spectacular catch his right fielder made late in the game and how his third baseman picked off a scorching line drive down the left field line. Humility makes a big difference in plenty of real life situations, but I personally love the sports example. Humility is about being a team player and recognizing that you are a part of something bigger than yourself. Sadly this is an idea that has been lost in professional sports for quite some time now, despite a few exceptions.

You do not need to downplay your achievements or be unwilling to accept praise to be a humble person. It is important to appreciate what others do too, and give them credit when they are deserving. This idea can be found in the Bible as well in Romans 12:3 “For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.”

I’ve learned that humility is something difficult to understand. There are times for taking credit and being proud, but there are times to praise others and downplay your own importance. You need to find balance in your life and do all of these things at the proper time. Nobody is absolutely perfect at this, and it will be an ongoing struggle. Effort is what it is really about.

New Environments Can Be Unsettling for Kids

Starting at a new school can be a nerve wracking time for any child. Whether its a new middle school, high school, or college the fear of a new environment can be unsettling. I recently read a post from Empowering Parents by a mother named Emmie. Emmie has a son who has an anxiety disorder and Type I diabetes. Her son recently started going to a high school for the first time. The new environment did not help his situation out at all. Emmie posted about how she has handled her son’s issue, and how they are finding a way to make the high school schedule work for him.

Read Emmie’s post here: School Phobia: When Your Child Has Anxiety About Going to School

Listening: The Greatest Skill a Parent Can Develop

One thing children need from their parents is somebody to listen. Being a good listener is a trait that many people value in their friends and family members, and that is no different in the parent-child relationship. However because of the strong bond parents have with their children, they often feel as though they need to fix all of their child’s problems for them. In reality, the thing that child needs most is somebody to listen objectively to their issues.

JBM Thinks, a parenting blog, recently had a post titled “3 Top Tips to Help Parents Fight the Urge to “Fix” Everything” that I thought was really insightful. The advice that is given by Denny Hagel in this piece will help parents to focus more on listening. Your child doesn’t need you to magically fix all of their problems for them, but they do need you to listen to them when they have something to say.

Preventing Family Sickness: Cold and Flu Season is Back

It’s that time of year again, flu season! Parents know that the months between October and March can bring about some nasty sicknesses. I’m not talking about simply a cold either we mean the flu, strep throat, and worse. Getting through this time of year without having a house wide outbreak should be considered a true blessing. Make sure you and your family are all taking multivitamins daily and extra doses of vitamin-C rich foods and drinks will not hurt either.

You can only try to prevent sickness though and even do a great job somebody will get sick. A post from Shopaholic Mommy recently talked about some top tips for surviving cold and flu season. If you want to prevent sickness in your family or know how to handle sickness when it happens this is a good article to read.

Words Don’t Mean What They Used To

It amazes me the connotations that go along with a word or group of words sometimes. There are words and phrases in English that don’t even mean what they used to anymore. A post on Authentic Parenting opened my eyes to this issue. The post is titled “Fat is Just a Word”, and talks about how fat has become synonymous with some things it doesn’t really mean. “Fat is the opposite of beautiful, fat is the opposite of active, fat is the opposite of smart. In a nutshell, fat is the epitome of all negative qualities one can attribute to a person.” This is not what the word means at, and while fat is the opposite of thin it shouldn’t have the other meanings that were described in the article.

The author then went on to talk about her daughter, who has been raised in Africa her whole life. The word fat in Africa is an sign of prosperity and well being. It was really eye opening to see how American culture has turned a word into such a demeaning and monstrous phrase.

Taking Good Advice (From Yourself): A Life Lesson

“Do as I say, not as I do”, is a saying everybody has heard throughout their life. Following your own good advice can be a really hard thing to do. It is easy to give advice to other people, but when it comes to helping yourself it is a lot harder to actually do something about it.

Recently on Catholic Mom, Theresa Ceniccola blogged about How to Follow your Own Advice. Theresa gave some pretty insightful tips on how to accomplish this difficult task. Theresa suggests creating a catchy mantra that you can repeat to yourself and make a part of your every day life. If your advice is working for other people there is no reason it won’t work for you if you just give it a chance. Another tip that I personally liked was writing down what you need to accomplish. If you write down the advice you should be taking it might help you if you are a visual person like I am. Finding a friend or family member to hold you accountable if you are not taking your own advice is also a smart way to enforce behavior.

Taking your own advice might not come naturally to you if you have been avoiding doing it for your entire life. However, if you know that you’re giving people good advice then you need to start taking it yourself.

Exercising: Finding Motivation as a Parent

Sometimes it can be really hard to find the motivation to exercise. There is always something going on at work, with the kids, or with your body that just makes you feel like tomorrow might be the better day to go on that run. One of my favorite quotes is, “Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week”, and this quote can apply directly to motivating yourself to action. Many parents can relate to the fact that with work and kids at home exercising is just not a top priority, but there are people out there who are finding the time.

Recently on Everyday Kings, Vee posted about her experiences running and how it helps her cope with grief. The post is called Running Through Grief and her analogy of running to life in general is beautiful, and she is probably one of the most inspirational bloggers I have ever encountered. I enjoyed one of part of her post though that is different to everybody. She talks about how running leaves you alone with yourself. Your own mind will take over without the distractions and you could find yourself thinking about things you normally wouldn’t. This is going to depend on what rests in the deepest parts of your mind, and will be different for everybody.

I felt Vee’s story was a good one to share because of how inspirational her life is, and also to show that many people with all sorts of different life situations are finding ways to exercise. Exercise will clear your mind and help you focus on what is truly important to you and your life. If you have experienced a trying time in life recently or are struggling with family or personal issues, a regular exercise regimen can help you feel better about yourself. It is truly amazing how much exercising, whether it be running, walking, playing a sport, or lifting weights can do for you as a person not only physically, but mentally as well.

Practicing Catholic in a Fractured World

As  a practicing Catholic, you live in a world that is fractured in so many ways. It’s difficult to remain devoted to Christ and remain “on track” when we face so many diversions, distractions and demons.

Yes, the 21st Century is a challenging time for a practicing Catholic.
But the world was also a very challenging place two thousand years ago.

In today’s Gospel (Luke 12:49-53), Jesus tells his disciples “I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!” and then follows up that doozy with another “…do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?  No, I tell you, but rather division.”

Ummm, hold the phone… did He say “setting the earth on fire” and “division”?
I thought Jesus was all about “love one another”?

The “take-away” from this message is: look, buddy, if you want to be a “practicing Catholic” and follow Jesus, be prepared to face some resistance, and some division.  We live in a fractured, splintered world.

Be Prepared: Practing Catholic

Image Courtesy Disney

Not everyone will be accepting of your beliefs. Which should also drive another message to you: a practicing Catholic may face a bumpy road along the way to heaven. Will you worry more about pleasing others around you?  Will you be prepared for dealing with your own personal demons?  What about facing your own distractions and the tests of temptations, and letting  “life” getting in the way for a practicing Catholic?

Yes, Jesus came to walk among us, in an effort to change the world.  And to a certain extent, He succeeded.  The Christian population, and ultimately the Catholic Church emerged from this time.  But was Jesus just crash-landing here to start a new church?

Hardly. He created a “division” that exists to this day for a practicing Catholic.  Not an evil kind of division, but an alternative.  Think about what the world Jesus parachuted into: two thousand years ago, following the words of Jesus was an alternative to the many gods all the different tribes and families idolized.  And He provided an alternative to the “an eye for an eye” approach, by suggesting, hey, maybe we should try to love another instead.  You know, treat your neighbor as you wan to be treated.

And here we are, two thousand years later: idolatry, giving false prophets attention and demons (like the love of money) curse the world to this day.  A practicing Catholic fifteen hundred years ago, one thousand years ago, five years ago lives among others who simply do not see things as we do.  While it is important not to judge others, it is crucial to bear in mind a practicing Catholic faces division, resistance and constant challenges.

In the same passage, Jesus states, “There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!” Certainly He is not referring to a dip in the water kind of baptism, but the human pain of death and the painful human process that death, crucifixion, entailed.  But that was done to show a practicing Catholic  that we should not fear death, but rather, look forward to the day we are all together in heaven.

So, like the tune from “The Lion King” we should all “be prepared!”  Be prepared, as a practicing Catholic, to face a constant test: perhaps from loved ones, from others, from temptations and distractions.  The road to heaven will not be smooth nor safe.

But extremely rewarding.

I was initially surprised to read and hear these words this morning at mass.  But it made sense to me after reflection.
What are your thoughts hearing Jesus talking about coming to “set the world on fire” and “how I wish it were already blazing”? 

Why Do the Blind and Paralyzed Pray to Saint Alice?

Saint Alice was born in the year 1204 in a small village called Shaerbeck, which was near Brussels. She was sometimes called Aleydis, a common form of the name Alice in that time period. She had a very religious upbringing and at the very young age of seven, on her own volition decided to join a convent. The Camera Sanctae Mariae convent would be the home of Saint Alice from that day on, through her entire life, until her death in the year 1250.

The Camera Sanctae Mariae was a Cistercian convent. Cistercian monks and nuns were sometimes referred to as the Bernardines or the White Monks. They believed in living a life of manual labour and self-sufficiency. Saint Alice fit in well because even at her extremely young age, she was known for being extremely humble and kind. She was influential to, and highly admired by the other nuns that she lived with. She led by example, performing her many selfless acts. Sadly, when Alice reached her teenaged years her life took a dramatic change.

Saint Alice became stricken with leprosy. This meant that she would now be forced to lead a life of seclusion, as lepers were forced to do due to the highly contagious nature of the disease. This was a terrible fate for a young Alice to face. She loved nothing more than to be around people. She loved to help them, and talk with them. She was a leader by example. Now, leading a lonely life as an outcast from society, Saint Alice would have to figure out how to continue to be that light.

Alice remained strong through prayer which brought her even closer to God. She was comforted by being able to receive the Holy Eucharist, though she could not drink from the cup. The Lord appeared to her and assured her that He was both in the bread and the wine. It was okay that she could not drink from the cup.

Alice’s suffering did not stop at just leprosy. Saint Alice was also stricken blind only a year into battling her disease. She later became completely paralyzed as well. At this point most human beings would be so depressed and struggle with their faith. Anger would be reasonable, but not for Saint Alice. She remained positive and faithful. She continued to be comforted by receiving the Holy Eucharist and her visions of God. He came to her, telling her to remain strong in her faith. He assured her that she she would be welcomed into the kingdom of Heaven with, into warm, loving and open arms when the time came. Until then, while on earth, she must remain strong.

Alice remained strong and faithful until her dying day in the year 1250. Though she spent her time isolated from others, she remained at the convent and enjoyed a close and special relationship with God. Her strength and faith is an example to us all. She is a special example to the blind and paralyzed. When praying to Saint Alice, their patron saint, they remember that Heaven is waiting for them. They must be strong and faithful. Saint Alice was Canonized in the year 1907. Her feast day is June 15th.