Friday, September 20, 2013

Paying It Forward....sometimes it IS the little things!

I love the concept of Paying It Forward......Lord knows that there were certainly times in our lives that Jim and I needed a little nudge to keep moving it forward, and He was always there in one way or another to help  us along.  With that in mind, we try to pay things forward whenever we can.

We are by no means rich, so our version of paying it forward doesn't usually involve new homes, or cars, or even new wardrobes.  Our version is just enough to hopefully put a smile on someone else's face.  Oddly enough, it is usually people we don't know.

Our biggest source of paying it forward is on toll roads.  Generally, when we go through the toll booth, we pay for the car behind us.  If Jim is driving, we speed ahead and don't really get a good look on the faces of those that we just paid for.  I'm not looking for a thank you -- in fact, we do try to stay ahead so that that doesn't happen -- but I do like to see the surprised looks on people's faces when they realize we paid their toll (which we do get to see if I'm driving :) ).

So recently, I went to Aldi's to pick up a few things.  Actually, I knew about exactly what I was getting and had already decided I wasn't going to mess around with getting a cart, because I didn't want to dig a quarter out of my purse.  (For anyone unfamiliar with Aldi -- they are a discount grocery store and one of their claims to fame is that you put a quarter in the cart to detach it from the other carts -- with the idea that people will return the carts easier to get their quarter back.  And, I must say -- it works!)

Well, as I approached the store, a woman came to me and offered me her cart.  I thought, "Ugh, I don't want to dig a quarter out!"  Just that quick, she mentioned to me that she didn't want anything for it, as someone else had given it to her.  I decided that when I was done, I would give it to someone else.

OK, I thought, I'm supposed to have this.  So, I grabbed the cart and went on my merry way.  I got outside, looked around, and, as luck would have it -- there is no one for me to give my cart to!  Being the quick thinker that I am :) -- I just put it back with the other carts and didn't attach it, so the next person wouldn't have to pay the quarter.

By the time I got to my car and put my items in the back seat, I noticed a woman approaching the carts.  I hadn't planned on staying to see who got "my" cart, but thought I would watch and see if she took it.  She was so cute!  She tried to put her quarter in, and when it wouldn't go in, pulled the cart out.  She looked around to see if she was doing something wrong, smiled, and went on her way.

Something so small, but her day was made!  So cute!

I've decided to add this to my list of Pay It Forwards.  Maybe three carts each time.  Such an inexpensive way to make people's days.

How do you pay it forward?  Feel free to share your ideas.  I'm always looking for fun things!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Luke's confusing Gospel!

As I sat in church this morning listening to the Gospel, I was a little confused.  I hadn't read the readings before mass as I often do, so I was surprised when I heard things like "Hating your parents" in the Gospel!  What?!?!?!?  That can't be right!

Here is the Gospel, in case you have forgotten:
LK 14:25-33

Great crowds were traveling with Jesus,
and he turned and addressed them,
“If anyone comes to me without hating his father and mother,
wife and children, brothers and sisters,
and even his own life,
he cannot be my disciple.
Whoever does not carry his own cross and come after me
cannot be my disciple.
Which of you wishing to construct a tower
does not first sit down and calculate the cost
to see if there is enough for its completion?
Otherwise, after laying the foundation
and finding himself unable to finish the work
the onlookers should laugh at him and say,
‘This one began to build but did not have the resources to finish.’
Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down
and decide whether with ten thousand troops
he can successfully oppose another king
advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?
But if not, while he is still far away,
he will send a delegation to ask for peace terms.
In the same way,
anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions
cannot be my disciple.”

He's talking about the cost of discipleship -- and, although he's comparing it to the cost (financially) of building things, I think if we dig deeper, what he's getting at is how much does it cost us to follow Jesus?  He's challenging us with his words!

Father Tom touched on this in his homily this morning -- talking about how easy it is for us to say we love our friends and family, but how difficult it can be to love (or even just include) that person that isn't one of us.

I wonder if my jaw dropped when he started talking about this.  I try really hard in my life to be the person who includes all.  After all, I've been that person that's been left out, or talked about, and frankly, I didn't enjoy it very much.

Recently, I have been focusing my efforts on gaining acceptance for someone that I feel has been ostracized from not just one group, but many.  They do not know that I have been doing this, and hopefully will not find out.  I'm trying to bring this person at least into my fold, so that they know they are comfortable there.  I realize that I cannot change the world, or change how others think or feel, but I am working to try to get some to change their views.  Is this person perfect?  No, not at all.  Do they have their flaws?  They most certainly do.  But it's ok, because I do, too.

I don't tell you this story so that you will think I am a hero (because I'm not).  I tell you this story because you probably have someone in your life that could stand a little of your attention.  I challenge you to do the same.  What can it hurt?

I read a very interesting quote the other day.  I don't know that I think that it applies to me in this situation, but it may to you.  No matter which, I really enjoyed it and want to share it:

You have never really lived until you have done something for somebody who can never repay you.

Wow!!!  Awesome thought.   Have a good week, everyone.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

The anniversary of the passing of a tremendous woman.......

Today marks 16 years since Mother Teresa died.  It hardly seems that long ago to me.  I remember that week, because Princess Diana lost her life just days before in that horrific accident.  I was a huge fan of hers (actually, still am of her sons) -- and then the news that Mother Teresa had died struck.  It was an interesting week, to say the least.

She was a magnificent person.  Although I am sure I would have never had the chance to meet her, I wish I would have.  One always wonders when you hear such marvelous things about someone you have never met -- are they REALLY like that?  Did she really not have even one eensy weensy mean bone in her body?  From all accounts, the answer to that is no!

A few weeks ago, someone shared with me this story of Dr. Lombardi, who took care of Mother Teresa at a point in her life when she was critically ill (not immedicately prior to her death, at least in this story).  If you haven't heard it, please take a listen:  Mission to India.  It's a great story of how someone's life can be changed by just a phone call.

I remember thinking when Mother Teresa died how interesting it was that her and Princess Diana died so close together.  They were hardly the best of friends, but they did have some great photo opportunities together, and did some work together.  I am hopeful that they were able to encourage each other.

Thinking back to Mother Teresa makes me think of some of her famous quotes.  If you know me, you know that I love her quotes.  One of my favorites has always been:

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God's kindness: kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."

I found a compilation of several of her best known quotes.  What is your favorite?

 "A life not lived for others is not a life."
"Each one of them is Jesus in disguise."
"God doesn't require us to succeed; He only requires that you try."
"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."
"I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, 'How many good things have you done in your life?' rather he will ask, 'How much love did you put into what you did?'"
"I can do things you cannot, you can do things I cannot; together we can do great things."
"I know God won't give me anything I can't handle. I just wish He didn't trust me so much."
"If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.
"If we pray, we will believe; If we believe, we will love; If we love, we will serve."
"If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are."
"If you judge people, you have no time to love them."
"I'm a little pencil in the hand of a writing God, who is sending a love letter to the world."
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless."
"Life is an opportunity, benefit from it. Life is beauty, admire it. Life is a dream, realize it. Life is a challenge, meet it. Life is a duty, complete it. Life is a game, play it. Life is a promise, fulfill it. Life is sorrow, overcome it. Life is a song, sing it. Life is a struggle, accept it. Life is a tragedy, confront it. Life is an adventure, dare it. Life is luck, make it. Life is too precious, do not destroy it. Life is life, fight for it."
"Live simply so others may simply live."
"Peace begins with a smile."
"The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway."
"What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."
"When you don't have anything, then you have everything."
"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."
"Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat."
"Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies."
"I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love."
"If you can't feed a hundred people, then just feed one."
"It is a kingly act to assist the fallen."
"Joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls. A joyful heart is the inevitable result of a heart burning with love."
"Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand."
"One of the greatest diseases is to be nobody to anybody."
"We cannot do great things on this Earth, only small things with great love."
Please share your favorites with me.
May she rest in peace.