Aug 18

Two Hands

Two hands.

One to feed the poor.

The other to forgive.

Our feet to walk

the way of the Cross.

By our example

we lead others to Christ,

or we hinder them.

Two Hands

Olive Wood Praying Hands – carved by a persecuted Christian in Palestine in 2013

Two hands.

One to feed the poor.

The other to forgive.

(why

won’t

WordPress

let me add spaces here????)

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Aug 10

Trusting God: Don’t we all want perfection in every decision we make?

John had been out of work for sometime. He was devoted to his young family of wife and baby. He was desperate for a job that paid well. Finally, he got an offer that he had to either accept or not immediately. It was an enormous salary increase over any previous employment. He had to decide fast because the ship that would take him and his specialized truck needed for the job would be leaving in two days for Australia.

John and his wife were sad to move so far from family and friends. But he had been searching so long, it seemed their only chance; everything else about the job was perfect. The plan was for him to move ahead of the family.

After he accepted the job, his wife went home to pack.

My parents were there. They congratulated John and were thankful the pay was so great and that (almost) everything seemed so good. They went home.

The next day, unsettled about the family having to move so far away, I told my friend named Ruby. She was a friend of his family. Ruby and her father owned two large companies. I told her how John and his wife did not want to go to Australia; I reminded her of his education and industry experience.

I asked, “Isn’t there anything you or your dad could find for him?”

Ruby made a few phone calls and got John an interview for the next day, which happened to be the day the ship was scheduled to leave.

In the meantime, before that interview was set, we told John what she was working on. He was quite thankful and happy but added, “Well, I have to know tonight. The ship leaves in the morning.”

The phone rang; it was my mom. She asked how things were and then she said, “Cheryl, Dad and I didn’t want to say anything last night because John had been looking for a job for such a long time. Also, because the salary was excellent and he thought it was a good deal, we didn’t want to spoil what he saw as a gift. But I have to tell you now that neither of us feel good about this. We feel like it’s not the perfect plan and the perfect job for him. There’s something else.”

And I said, “Well, Mom, I’m not supposed to tell anyone this because it’s being done behind the scenes. I’ll tell you because I know you and I know how well you know Jesus and that by telling you it’s only good because of your relationship with Jesus.” But before I could tell her about Ruby looking for a job for John at her father’s company, he came back and it was time for Ruby to tell him about the job interview; we hung up.

So Ruby told John about the interview and he said, “But the interview has to be tonight; the ship leaves in the morning.”

And she said, “I tried. Tomorrow is the only time possible. And it looks really good for you, too.”

I told him about Mom’s call and he was surprised my parents felt so strongly about it. He trusted their intuition because he knew them well.

And I said, “Unless there is perfect peace in every aspect, unless you realize a blanket of peace that covers every tiny aspect of the whole situation and you, it is not perfect.”

And I visualized a literal blanket covering someone, or a family, as they make decisions. The blanket covered them and even went out a little beyond them and was sealed on the edges so that only peace would reach them.

John looked directly into my eyes as he listened.

I added, “If there is one little part that grumbles a little, that’s not peace. And it’s not perfect. You have to let the ship leave without you, and trust God.”

I woke up repeating, “Unless there is absolute perfect peace when stepping into something new – anything new – we must let the ship leave without us and trust God.”

End of Dream

Later the next day, I spent time thinking about a big decision I am in the middle of. Rolling through my mind were those same words: Unless there is absolute perfect peace when stepping into something new – anything new – we must let the ship leave without us and trust God. And I saw that blanket again, that a situation or a person or family making an important decision is lying under – like on a bed, but it’s kind of out in a grassy place – and the blanket is over them with no ripples or crumples in the fabric and it is sealed around all edges, letting nothing ‘bad’ get under there with them or the decision/situation. And it is a restful place, filled with absolute peace; there is no anxiety whatsoever.

I will use the blanket image as reference as I move forward to know God’s direction for this decision. I’ll use it for all my large or small decisions, for that matter. Because I trust that God only wants what’s absolutely best for me. Doesn’t he?

Just like the young man and his family. Of course God wanted him to have a good job to provide well for his family. But God also wanted him to trust Him for the perfect job – in every way. Sometimes trusting God calls us to wait longer than we think makes sense, based on what we see around us. We must remind ourselves that God sees way more than we do.

Then I saw the blanket in the grassy area, and these words came to me, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”

Not only will we have perfect peace when we make decisions by trusting God. As well, the final decision will be life-giving. He restores our souls as we wait on Him, as we trust Him and rest in Him and not make a move even when so much seems perfect – but not quite. Life-giving restoration. No angst. No anxiety. Only peace that passes all understanding. It’s what every good father desires for his children, right?

After all my morning journal reflections, I returned to the Magnificat and recited the previous night’s prayers and readings, as I often do the next day.

“You, O Lord, are my lamp.

My God, who lightens my darkness.

With you I can break through any barrier,

With my God I can scale any wall.

As for God, his ways are perfect.

The word of the Lord, purest gold.

He indeed is the shield of all who make Him their refuge.

For who is God but the Lord?

Who is a rock but our God?

The God who girds me with strength,

And makes the path safe before me.

Psalm 18

I will wait. And I will trust. And I will know the safety, peace, and joy of being in His perfect will.

Longing for Lake Como (and perfect peace)

Longing for Lake Como (and trusting for perfect peace)

 

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Aug 07

Only Light is Real: Jesus, I Trust in You

She looks old beyond her years, hunched over, face parallel to the ground because of the brown bundle ten times her size, attached to her back. She would love to remove the bundle and let it fall without a care but her hands, in front of her, are tied together. Her eyes that can only see her feet cannot direct her steps so she wanders in circles and crooked lines, not tending well to any part of her life. She stumbles over obstacles that she can’t see ahead of her. All she can do is pray. She tries. Weeping, she calls out, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

But the burden on her back whispers, “Do you really? What makes you think he’ll answer? I’m still here, on top of you.”

Then, blubbering, her desperate words are tinged with fear, “God, help me! All I want is you.”

She closes her eyes and rests in a quiet place. And then she is reminded of a soothing message they wrote together just a week earlier:

 

I try not to be afraid. When fearful thoughts attack I quickly say, “Jesus, I trust in you.” Then I recite the prayer he taught us.

Fear makes hearts palpitate and blood pressures rise.

Fear makes heads ache and stomachs churn, stirred by a hot poker.

I choose love over fear.

I choose to live and walk in love,

To allow it to bathe me in soothing warmth

And caress me with protection.

I choose to trust the One

Who was betrayed and beaten for me,

The One who chose to carry his own cross to execution,

While his bludgeoned flesh bled;

The One who felt the bang, bang, of massive nails

Hammered through his hands and feet,

Was roughly lifted in shame, mocked and jeered at.

Why would anyone lay down their life for others

Except out of pure love?

Let me not hold onto the temporal things that will pass.

Instead, I choose to let them go,

To focus on true life and trust in the One

Who suffered for me.

Jesus, I trust in you.

Fill me with your light and wash me in your love.

 

Cleansing tears refresh her face. She unties the bonds of her hands and raises her palms skyward. As her lips burst forth, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord! Jesus, I trust in you,” she stands upright, unleashes the burden’s ties and shakes it from her back. When it hits the ground, it shatters into millions of tiny lights.

The Light and the Love are One

The Light and the Love are One

 

Aug 05

Queen or Mother?

Movies and photographs depict little princes and princesses approaching their parents, the King and Queen, with bows and curtsies and kissing of the hand and/or ring. Once the formalities are dealt with, they draw close as any other child and parent. Having no personal association with any royalty, I have no idea how close to reality these pictures are.

In this first year since my father’s death and first six months since my mother’s, I have often contemplated the state of adult orphanhood. Joy of discovering the fullness of the Fatherhood of God as all that I need greeted my soul a few weeks ago. I’ve always been certain of His being Provider and Protector. But the complete reality of Fatherhood did not envelop me until I had no human father on earth. My enlightenment grows in magnificence, as I continue to contemplate.

I’ve also always considered Mary as my spiritual mother. Well, since I’m only officially Catholic since 2000, always would be an invalid descriptor. You know what I mean: I have always considered her as mother since that time I began to consider her as mother. In the last few days the reality of her care and nurture of me has reached a height I never came close to while my human mother shared the planet with us

I am, we are, richly blessed to have True God himself as Father and the Mother of his Son (also the same God), as Mother. I am not sure any human can fully grasp the gift until we are face to face with Him. Still, the good news for us while we wait for that moment is that the blessing can increase in proportion to the amount of time we spend in contemplation of that knowledge.

When I pray through the Glorious Mysteries, I give heartfelt thanks that Mary was crowned Queen of Heaven. It is her rightful place, considering all that she willingly surrendered to, sacrificed, and gave. Because the recognition of her place by God gives His people both a king and a queen to depend on, that makes us pretty lucky.

mary halo of stars

By Herman Richir

mary queen statue

Today I began to consider the best, or better, way to approach the Virgin Mary. Do I walk up with small steps and head bowed, kneel and kiss her hand, and then say, Hello, Mother? Or, do I rush into her presence with unbridled joy in my voice that sings, Mother I love you? Is she queen first or mother? Or is there no first? Perhaps she is equally mother and queen, who deserves utmost respect mingled with my undying love.

mary kissing the face of God

by Morgan Weistling

Please share your thoughts. If the Comment box does not show, click on the name of the link and it shall appear! Thank you for your comments.

Jul 25

Breathe Life

northern lights20

Northern Lights Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan

The Light and the Love are One.

Melt into them as you enter in.

Become one with them.

Let thoughts slip by,

You’ll find them later.

For this time,

Allow the warmth and presence

Surround you,

Consume you,

Keep you safe and still.

You, The Light, and The Love

Are One.

It’s all that matters.

Prince Albert National Park. One with the Light. One with Love.

Prince Albert National Park. A forever memory with family.

 

 

 

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Jul 24

Father Differences

A Christian songwriter shared in an interview his “all about me” bubble burst when he married his wife. And he was glad. When they had children, it was more evident that real life is about everyone else.

He also said that being a father has given him a glimpse of how God as Father takes care of us. The songwriter gains great pleasure to care for his children’s every need, just like God for His children.

My next thought was, “Yes, good analogy. But that’s where the similarity ends.”

Besides the contrast of God being perfect and humans imperfect, human parents are dramatically more different from God the Father in other ways. For one, people raise their children to become less needy, even independent and self sufficient.

But Our Father who created us desires us to remain like little children not only in purity of mind and soul. Forever He wants us to go to Him for every need. His greatest pleasure is to love us and be loved by us. Perfect love that provides and protects will never allow our separation from Him because we have little need of Him in our ‘grown up’ state.

I’m grateful for His unconditional Fatherhood. How about you?

3 silly sisters who grew up to be lovely, independent women. We are proud of who they are.

3 silly sisters who grew up to be lovely, independent women; raised by their wonderful father and me.                               We are proud of who they are.

 

 

 

 

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Jul 20

Whose trip of a lifetime?

What steps do you take to reach a big decision? Please share in the comments. If you don’t mind, I’m going to ramble on about a huge decision I must make. I guess we could call this live journaling. You might be able to sway me with your insights…

My current dilemma is whether or not to go on a trip to Palestine and Israel this Fall. Expensive, I know. But cost is not the point of my quandary because I was given free passage. It will cost me a tip to the (Palestinian Christian) tour bus driver and a few lunches. You might be thinking, “Well, that’s a no-brainer. Go!”

All through my younger adult life I wanted to see the entire world. I’m now on the older side of adult life and have seen little of the world. My go-to list is dramatically shorter. In fact, the last 10 years or so, my complete list to visit is:

  • All 50 U.S. States
  • Italy – all of it
  • Ireland (while in Ireland, I’d be happy to tack on Scotland, Wales and England if it can work into the timing)

To say I’m excited to have a plan in the works for my first trip to Italy in June 2015, is a gross understatement. Possibly I’ll be able to enjoy a month in Avila, Spain, directly from Italy. Spain is not on my list, of course, but since I will have already paid my airfare, if I can afford the college course offered, I will love it, I’m sure.

The Holy Land trip popped up after the Italy plans were underway. I needed to reply quickly to the free passage offer. My family and friends found it hard to believe I said I’d think about it overnight.

Every person I talked to said, in one way or another, I’d be a fool not to go. After all, I’m a Christian. Why wouldn’t I want to walk the land where Jesus walked, renew my wedding vows at Cana where he turned water into wine, and step into the sea where he was baptized? Besides that, my soon-to-be-released book, Who is Jesus? Eyewitnesses Tell their Stories, is set in that region. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to see for myself what I’ve researched the last four years? And didn’t I spend every weekend of the last three years spreading word of the plight of Palestinian Christians to Catholic Churches in the United States? Wouldn’t I want to meet more of the people I represented?

I caved and said, yes. Everyone smiled. Except me.

The dilemma is not because of the recently renewed violence in the Mid East. It is because during these last four to six weeks since acceptance of the gift, I have waved back and forth on the idea. Most often my thoughts are, “I haven’t actually ever really wanted to go there in the first place.” If I’m more honest with myself, I might see that my hesitation is related to being an introvert. Or maybe it’s not that I’m such an introvert, but more that I’m a homebody. I like to leave home occasionally to do things with friends. But I’d often just as soon stay home. I don’t desire a lot of alone time, as much as home time. In fact, I love to open my home to all kinds of folks. If this adds to my inability to settle on this, so be it.

From the standpoint of seeing some of the world that may or may not have been on my travel list decades ago, it makes sense. What fun it would be to see those stamps on my passport. But, honestly, that doesn’t matter to me anymore.

People have told me the trip is life-changing. That when you step off the plane, your spirit senses that you are in a place of holy beginnings. That you feel Jesus in an unimaginable way. I’m sure it can be just that.

But the reality is, I don’t need to go there to “feel” Jesus. Whenever I choose, I can close my eyes, breathe deeply, and enter into His presence in the innermost room of my soul. I can be in my prayer room, on a mountain path or by a lake, at Adoration or receiving His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. I enter into Him; nothing can be more real than that.

I’m in Colorado now as I write. I’ve never been depressed while here but since I arrived three days ago, the dark night has taken me down. I know I am supposed to be living here by now and I am pretty darned certain I never will. Both realities are part of that “knowing” thing. Many people don’t understand what I’m talking about. That’s okay. For the first time ever, each time I looked at the Rockies since Thursday, I cried tears not just of longing, but also those of real grief.

I’m relieved now that at this time, I am no longer in the throes of depression. I’m sad, but not overwhelmed with darkness. I went to mass at ‘my’ church, 18 miles from where I’m staying. The ride is north along the Front Range. It was a painful trip. I began to remember His message to me, “I am your mountain.” The words repeated over and over all the way through mass, and into the drive home. And as I gazed at the mountains (glanced, actually, I was driving), and repeated His words, the pit opened and I was lifted out.

I don’t need to live in my Rockies, in order to be where I am supposed to be. I am where I belong every moment, because I am with Him and He is with me, and that’s all that matters. And I don’t need to visit the Holy Land to know Jesus better or even to know the region better to fulfill my vocation to write.

I still don’t have an answer regarding the trip. But I am keeping in mind a rule of thumb I’ve learned when making key decisions:

When in doubt, wait. When in doubt, do nothing.

That platitude has kept me out of all kinds of danger – physical, spiritual, financial – more times than I remember. I will apply the rule now.

August 6 will be three months before the flight leaves U.S. soil. If I don’t have perfect peace by then I still may not know why. That answer is not for me to know. But if that lack of peace continues, I will give up my seat so that someone on the waiting list has time to prepare for their trip of a lifetime.

In the meantime, I would appreciate your thoughts. God bless.

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An olivewood carving by a Palestinian Catholic

An olivewood carving by a Palestinian Catholic

 

Jul 09

He is My Mountain

If anyone knows me, they are aware of how I’ve longed to live in the Rockies of Northern Colorado for more than four years. In fact, I am convinced that it is where I am supposed to live. I am as sure of that as I was to marry my husband, to enter the Catholic Church, to adopt little orphan girls from China. I knew those things as much as I knew that I was born to Richard and Elaine Foster.

A snapshot of us in Our Rockies.

A snapshot of us in Our Rockies.

It is now apparent we will not be moving to Colorado anytime soon. It has been a very sorrowful time for me as I face this reality. It is the same sorrow I have known since the adoptions could not happen.

I also know that I am a writer and have much good to share with the world. In addition, I know that building a profitable distributorship with Shaklee Corporation is meant to be our/my financial foundation.

I have allowed much of life to interrupt being a writer and distributor – like the birth and death of our Hard Bean Café and the care for and unexpected death of my two sweet parents in 2013, to name two of many. Sometimes I try to convince myself that I could never be expected to ‘do everything.’ It’s how I try to pacify my guilt over interrupting the flow of the call on my life. But in the end, every reason is an excuse. Some excuses are relatively valid but all excuses obstruct. If I truly believed what I am called to do and be, I would find a way.

So, I come to 2014. Soon I will hit 64. How much time do I really have left to accomplish what I believe in and that will make a lasting mark in the world around me? How much time is there to move to Colorado and actually enjoy some strong and healthy years in the mountains that I love? Sure, I feel great today but absolutely no one knows the hour or the day when we will be called home. I feel like my time is running out and that I have not been a good and faithful servant.

On March 1st, I participated in a Re-treat called Your Story Matters. It was a sweet morning highlighted with guided meditation by my friend Lyn Morse Brown. She read Mark 8:22 about one of the many blind men Jesus healed. After the reading, she guided us through a series of thoughtful questions intended to help us relate to being in the place of that particular blind man. Jesus took our hand as the blind mand removed us from the bustling village, he placed his healing hands on us, and he asked what we wanted of him. Here is the picture I breathed during the meditation:

There were people I did not know, all around me, and there were many distractions to my (meditative) thoughts.

Then I felt Jesus take my hand securely in his and pull me gently toward him. I leaned into him and wrapped my arm through his as we began walking up a rocky way. I couldn’t see where we were or where we were headed. I didn’t stumble because he held onto me.

This happens to be a smoother part of the rocky path we took

This happens to be a smoother part of the rocky path we took

After climbing the rocky path, my eyes were opened, and I discovered us at that place in the Rockies where Ed, Annie and I had hiked a year or so ago an enormous clearing in the woods, a great hill that was wide open, green, and very steep and I saw the same lone bench we three had rested on.

Jesus and I sat on that same bench and looked out over the expanse of rolling mountains before us, easy to see because of the wide and open hill that held us.

An expansive view of some of His creation.

An expansive view of some of His creation.

I leaned against him as an inner sigh of contentment began to pervade my soul. I was so happy to be in that beautiful spot with him, a place I know and love. (In fact, I have often envisioned myself sitting on that very bench, while the muse takes my pen and weaves words that change lives.) I was thrilled, actually, to be there with him.

And I told him I needed to know his presence every moment and his direction and his assurance that I am fulfilling his desires for me.

And with a strong yet soothing voice he told me to be assured. That he has everything under control – everything – our move here (the Rockies) and my writing and my business – and not to be afraid. And I melted within. It was like my heart was overflowing with a warm, honey like substance – soft, sweet, warm. And I knew his safety.

He placed his hands on my head and said, “Know my presence.” And I had peace that looks like a glass-like lake high in the Rockies, pristine and crystal clear – like Lily Lake when it is quite still. And all was well.

IMG_2802

Lily Lake at RMNP

And I knew that Jesus is calling me to peace with him, to trust that I do know him, and to remember that he will keep me on his path. I do not have to worry or fret about staying on it.

And he said, “I am your path. I am your quiet place. I am your mountain.”

He is my path. He is my quiet place. He is my mountain and my cool, refreshing stream of life. And I see it. And I see him.

Thank you.

He is My Mountain: My Protection and Perfect Peace

He is My Mountain: My Protection and Perfect Peace

(When I wrote this piece, I was so happy to find pictures I had taken of those very same places in my meditation!)

 

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Jun 29

I Met a Saint Named Juan

About 5 foot 7, graying blonde, with merry blue eyes and soft wrinkles mapped across a chubby face, and chunky around the middle, he wore a yellow collared knit shirt with a beautiful solid gold crucifix that poked out at the top.

“I used to be in prison ministries,” his accented voice continued our conversation. “Back when we could meet face to face with even the toughest criminals, with no guards around. They were the most rewarding years of my life.”

“I’ll bet,” I smiled in agreement, remembering the days when my husband and I ministered to those dying in a hospital for AIDS victims.

“I met pretty regularly with the same group of men. But one day I found myself with a group I had never seen before. We walked toward the outermost end of the courtyard. I heard murmuring and turned around to look at the unfamiliar faces.

“ ‘You know, we could kill you right here. It wouldn’t matter to us.’

“I looked squarely at them. ‘Yes, you can. You can kill me when I turn my back, like cowards. Or you can kill me face to face. Which do you want to do?’ I moved my hands to call them toward me.

“ ‘This guy’s crazy,’ they mumbled to each other.

“Maybe I’m crazy. But one thing I know is that if you do kill me right now, I will be immediately in the presence of God because I’m here to tell you about him.

“ ‘How do you know that?  What do you mean, tell us about him?’

“I don’t know a lot of things but I do know how your life can change for the better.

“ ‘Really? How?’ several asked.

“By coming to know him and living the way he tells you to live.  I am positive your life would be better.

“They looked at each other. ‘So, go ahead, tell us more.’’

I’m sure my eyes were ready to pop. “Really?”

“Absolutely.”

“So what happened next?” I asked.

“I told them everything I knew,” Juan replied simply.

“And, then?”

“And then we met again and again. And they were changed.”

My eyes brimmed, “Thank you for sharing that with me.”

“You’re welcome. What’s your name?”

“Cheryl.”

“I’ll pray for you.”

And I believe he will.

 

 

 

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Jun 27

Enter the Lord’s Living Room; Moments of Peace

Some days I linger in the nave for over an hour after 6:15 AM mass. I pray the rosary, I read scripture, I lift my friends, family and strangers to the Lord, I journal. Sometimes I read a spiritually worthy work. Currently I am reading The Apostolic Letter MULIERIS DIGNITATEM
of the Supreme Pontiff
JOHN PAUL II
on the Dignity and Vocation of Women on the Occasion of the Marian Year. 
It happens to be one of the most enlightening and rewarding pieces my mind has ever consumed.

The banquet table has been cleared. And from time to time I raise my eyes to gaze at the Tabernacle where the resurrected body of my Lord is safe. It’s as though I am now spending time with him in his living room.

Our bond does not require speaking. We’re just together. The flame of the Holy Spirit in our midst warms my soul. The crackle of its fire adds more peace to an already tranquil moment in my life.

I bask in the solitude that is not solitude. It is, rather, the infilling of the Presence of God – ultimate peace.

 

IMG_2068

 

 

 

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