Do You Hear The Birds?

“He was in the world, and through Him the world was made, yet the world knew Him not.”  John 1:10

“White noise” such as ambient background music, a low hum, or a high pitch whine, is often piped into offices as a sound neutralizer.  It acts as a barrier to prevent private conversations from being overheard, and to allow employees to focus better by eliminating unwanted sound distractions.  At first the white noise might easily be heard by the employees, but it soon fades into oblivion and they no longer know it is even there.

In reality, our everyday lives are filled with white noise:  TV, radio, traffic sounds, mall music, conversations.  Go a step further and consider that even the thoughts running through our mind are white noise.  With all that noise and all those thoughts processing through our heads at any given moment, it is a wonder that we can truly focus on anything.  But, somehow we do.  We learn to ‘tune out’ what isn’t necessary.  The problem with tuning out things is that we often miss something important.  We might see the bird, but do we hear it singing?

During Advent we might see the Christmas decorations.  We might hear the Christmas Carols, but do we experience their true meaning, their true joy, or does it become just white noise?  Do we focus on our hectic ‘to do’ lists or on the Christmas Season’s inner stirrings of our soul?  When we see the Christ child laying in the manger with the Star shinning brightly above, do we see it as just a symbol or a profound truth?  Has it become just white noise?

If white noise is drowning out the profound truth of Jesus Christ, The Word made flesh, then we need to slow our pace, focus, and pay attention to the inner stirrings of our soul.  We need to listen to actually hear the birds singing, to hear the Spirit speaking to our heart urging us to prepare a room for Him.

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Together In Peace

616px-Fra_Angelico_Adoration“Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for He will speak peace to His people.”  Psalm 85:8

     During Christmastime we are often faced with family challenges, family conflicts.  While most families have loving relationships with each other, all is not merry and bright at some family gatherings.  To say the least, this can be quite upsetting for all concerned.  Sometimes the best we can do is to manage the situation from our own perspective.

First, we must realize, and come to terms with, the fact that no one is in our control.  We do not create, nor are we responsible for others’ thoughts, words, or actions.  Again… we are not in control of others.  Once we realize this, the pressure is off.  It is not on us to see that everyone behaves, that everyone has a good time.  We become free to add good vibes to the atmosphere.  We create an aura around our own orbital path that radiates self worth, love, and joy.

Second, in order to create this aura we must go to the One who IS in control.  Spending time in His presence we release the burden of control to Him and seek His help to do so. By centering our orbital path around God, The Father, we feel the weight lifted, we feel loved.  We know that at the very moment our circumstances become embroiled, negative, or unloving, we can turn within to His love.

Advent is a time of preparation, a time of gift giving.  Let us stock up in advance by spending time with Him on gifts of love within ourselves to share with those around us, even those we may find hard to love.  If we feel His Love within, we will radiate His Love outwardly and bring peace to our surroundings.

This Christmas do not let others rob you of His gift of Love for you, and do not be afraid to share His gift through words of Peace, Love, and Joy.  May all your Christmas celebrations be Merry and Bright!

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We Are Prepared to Give…But Are We Prepared To Receive?

616px-Fra_Angelico_AdorationGive, and it will be given to you.  A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap.  For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”  Luke 6:38

Selfishness is a learned trait usually beginning at a very young age when we have something we want taken from us.   While selfishness is learned, giving is actually an innate quality.  Most of us enjoy giving.  We enjoy the personal rewards reaped from making someone else happy.  It seems then, we are naturally prepared to give, but are we prepared to receive?

One who has developed a selfish, self-centered nature will generally claw and grab for whatever can be gotten.  Their true goal is the gift itself.  On the other hand, one who has nurtured a giving, selfless nature will wait patiently and quietly for rewards.  Their true goal is to savor and enjoy the moment.

There is certainly an art to receiving graciously.  When one receives a gift graciously, the focus is on the giver, not the gift.  The true goal is to make the gift-giver feel good, to feel as if they have greatly pleased the recipient.

Then there is also the selfish giver.  This one seeks only to make him or herself look good for the act of giving, or for the actual gift given,  In stark contrast, there is the selfless giver, who seeks only to bring genuine joy to the recipient.

When selfless givers and receivers get together there is true celebrating for they are actually celebrating each other.  Peace, Love, and Joy abound.  And that is the true spirit of Christmas!

In Jesus, we find the most perfect gift of all.  God Our Father gives His Son to each of us selflessly.  He sends His Son to be Light to the whole world that we might live forever in Eternity with Him.   Are we prepared to receive Him selflessly?  Are we prepared to give ourselves to Him selflessly in return?  How we give to and receive from others, setting their happiness as our true goal, will go a long way in preparing our own hearts for God’s gift.

This Christmas let us each seek to be both a selfless giver and a selfless receiver. May His Peace, Love, and Joy abound for each of you!

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Less Is More

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Peter Wenzel, taken by Martha Wiggins, Vatican Museum, 2012

Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden by Peter Wenzel, taken by Martha Wiggins, Vatican Museum, 2012

“Let all that you do be done in love.”  1 Corinthians 16: 14

While Advent is the season of Peace, Love, and Joy, it is also the season where, just as a fever rises on a thermometer, stress levels can go up and up, and up.  We become overwhelmed with multiple ‘to do’ lists:  gifts to buy, cards to send, the next place to hide the Elf, food to prepare, people to see, and lots more.  Before we know it we are looking for a place to hide, for an escape route.  We don’t know whether we are coming or going.  When we lose our way the true meaning of Christmas, the reason for the season, also gets lost in the fray.

Two popular sayings come to mind.  “Less is more”, and, “If a little is good, a lot is better!”  If we are speaking of dieting, where the less you eat the more you lose, then less IS more.  If you like whip cream, well then, a little is good, but a lot IS better, and less is NOT more!

As we prepare for the coming of Jesus this Advent, we may find that more decorations will not fill a heart lacking love, and more gifts will not prove our love for someone.  However, a heartfelt gift of our self just might.  Even a little time spent sharing ourselves, by making a simple phone call, assisting someone in need, or maybe even helping someone else with their decorations, will not only fill the heart of the recipient, but ours as well.  If a few less decorations means more time spent sharing our love with others, then Less IS more.

Also, taking time to refuel our spirit is essential to being able to accomplish all those things on our ‘to do’ lists.  Spending a little time in prayer with Jesus will prepare our hearts to give more fully and more genuinely.  In doing so, we become filled with His love and a burning desire to share it with all those we come in contact with.  So, if spending a little time with Jesus makes us share love with others more, then… if a little is good, a lot IS better.

Maybe we can each find special ways where cutting back, or doing more, may be the key to experiencing a very productive and memorable Advent.  One with generous hearts focused on and filled with His love.

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When God Gives A Gift

443px-Botticelli_04_Louvre “May mercy, peace, and love be yours in abundance.”  Jude 1:2

Gifts come in all shapes and sizes, in all kinds of packaging.  A beautifully wrapped gift is a joy to open and discover the surprise within.  Just as the gifts come in different styles, so do the recipients, the openers.  Some tantalize the onlookers, and themselves, by slowly untying the bow, carefully undoing the tape at the seams, and gently opening the box.  Others just rip through in a big hurry to get to the contents!

Not all gifts can be opened by pulling off the bow and paper, or by taking out the tissue and looking in the bag.  Not all gifts come packaged!  Something that was lost and is now found, a knowing smile, a good deed rendered, a thoughtful phone call, an answered prayer, or a sacrifice made are all examples of gifts that must be opened in a different way.

Each of these are all directly or indirectly gifts from God, our Creator, who loves to please us, who wants to see us happy.  Such gifts are only seen or noticed when we are paying attention.  When God gives a gift … it must be opened with the heart.  When we open our heart to Him, His gifts to us are endless.  In fact, they are Eternal!

This Advent open your heart and receive your gifts.  You will find many wonderful surprises … if you are paying attention.  God Bless and Merry Christmas!

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Earthly Reminders Of Heavenly Things …Christmas Central

Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy, (Basilica of St. Mary over Minerva) taken by Martha Wiggins, 2011

Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy, (Basilica of St. Mary over Minerva) taken by Martha Wiggins, 2011. Saint Catherine of Siena is buried beneath the altar, and to the left is a statue carved by Michelangelo -Christ Bearing The Cross.

“He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated in the Spirit; Seen by the angels; preached among the Gentiles; Believed in throughout the world, taken up into glory.”  1 Timothy 3:16

Most of us fill our houses with the things we like, whether functional or just pleasant to look at.  In doing so we make our home a haven, a place where we feel good.  When we surround ourselves with things that make us feel good we create an atmosphere that nourishes our senses, an atmosphere that reminds us of who were, who we are now, or who we wish to become in the future.

In this same way, many Catholics and Christians surround themselves with images of their faith.  Some even go so far as to say that Catholics actually ‘worship’ statues, which is completely false.  In reality, religious art, figurines, and symbols serve to remind us of our all important relationship with our heavenly creator and His love for us.  I call them ‘earthly reminders of heavenly things’.

Saints were real people who lived and died in faithfully great service to God.  They serve as role models for our lives and can even intercede for us if we call upon them in faithful prayer.  For instance, an image of Jesus The Shepherd with sheep reminds us that we are all part of His flock and should seek to follow Him and His example for our lives.  A statue of Mary can serve to remind us, that as His mother, she is also our spiritual mother to whom we can turn in our time of need, asking her to intercede on our behalf with her Son.  A prayer card with an image of Saint Frances can help us remember to be kind to all of God’s creatures, and we can ask for His help in doing so.  Each image, in its own way, causes us to reflect on what is the most important thing, our relationship with God.  When we surround ourselves with these reminders we create a spiritual atmosphere that is more conducive to living life as we should.

In a similar way, a Creche or Manger scene is often the focal point of our decorations for the Christmas season.  Let’s say it is ‘Christmas Central’ in our home.  Through its figurines of Mary, Joseph and the infant Jesus, it tells the Christmas Story of the babe in a manger who came into the World, and was the Light for all mankind.  It serves as a reminder of who we were, who we are, and who we are to become!  All of this in one small setting of figurines; it is our earthly reminder of the One heavenly thing most important in our lives, Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior.  “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us, and we have seen His glory; The glory of an only Son coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.”  John 1:14

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This Little Light Of Mine

Bernini's Holy Spirit at Saint Peter's Basilica

Bernini’s Holy Spirit at Saint Peter’s Basilica, Rome, Italy, 2011

“You are the light of the world.”  Matthew 5:14

Christmas lights are brightly shining.  Everywhere we look there are decorative blinking street lights, store lights, and in our own homes there are tree lights and candle lights.  They have a special glow.  They bring a smile to our face and joy to our hearts.  They light up our life!

When we feel the joy of these beautiful lights, we take on a warm glow.  We smile more, we share more, we love more.  We make those around us feel our joy too!  Each of us in our own unique way is a Christmas light.

God sent His only Son, Jesus, to become the Light of the world.  He is the true gift of Christmas.  If we have prepared our hearts to receive His gift we will become lit from within.  Like the Christmas lights we see everywhere, we will be visible to all.  Our faces will shine brightly with smiles that are bigger and warmer than ever before.  Our hearts will radiate the warmth of our love to all we come in contact with.

“You are the light of the world.  A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.  Men do not light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket.  They set it on a stand where it gives light to all in the house.  In the same way, your light must shine before men so that they may see goodness in your acts and give praise to your heavenly Father.”  (Matthew 5:14-17)

Yes, in our own unique way, each of us is a Christmas Light!

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Physical vs Spiritual, Part II

This is one of those times I feel compelled/led to share one of my past writings. Written several years ago, it showed up in my fb memories. Often times I click the memory and it says the link is unavailable. Today, I said, Lord, if you want it shared the link will open. Well… So here it is. Read or not, it’s up to you. Comment or not. Just let it fill your spirit. I need to read it again myself. God bless.

 

“And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not as I will, but as You will.”  Matthew 26:39

Last year during Lent, I wrote the following post.  I have edited and updated it.

There are times in our lives when we are in need of physical healing, and yet must endure suffering for our spiritual health.  The healing we so desire would impede our spiritual progress.  Such situations often present themselves when we want what we want, yet God has a different plan.  I call these situations the battle of wills … the physical will versus the spiritual will.

As an example I will share from my personal experience.  Over the past couple of years I have had some health issues that have put me to the test.  While, not life threatening, they have been physically uncomfortable, at times worrying, and just plain no fun!  I have prayed continually for acceptance and compliance to God’s will, and just when I would think I was almost there, I would undergo more tests to check for some new resulting condition.  It was at these times I found myself drained and fighting that battle between physical and spiritual will.

I have learned through much prayer, reflection, and time spent in stillness before God, that I am not, and never will be, in control of my life.  I have learned that the only thing in my control is my reaction to, and my attitude toward God’s will for me.

To further illustrate this battle of wills I am also sharing part of an entry from “Journey Through The Stillness,” my personal spiritual journal.  This particular entry was written the day before one such doctor appointment.

March 21, 2011 – Today’s Stillness is more in my Spiritual Communion … In my offering I pray: “Lord, you know my heart and mind.  Physically I want to be healed.  I want to have my eyes back from this disease.  I want to lose the weight the medicine has helped me to put on.  I want the pressures in my head to cease.  Physically I ask to be healed.  Spiritually, Lord, my soul knows there is a bigger picture, a larger plan, of which You are in total control.  Spiritually, I pray, Lord, only You know the plans You have made for me.  I trust in your plan.  I trust in your will for my life completely.  Physically my being cries out heal me; Spiritually my soul cries out save me.  Let it be according to your will.”  When I enter into The Stillness, He lets me know this is what He wants from me.  He wants complete surrender to Him.

Surrender is tough, but truly not as tough as that battle between physical and spiritual will.  That battle keeps one’s soul in turmoil, while surrender brings quiet peace.  Surrender brings hope in the knowledge that we are in His loving Hands.  In that peace of knowing is the strength to pray, “Let it be according to your will; not mine.”  In that surrender the battle is won by the spiritual will.  In that surrender we are saved.

The personal experiences I share are never to call attention to myself, but to hopefully help others who may be going through similar or even worse battles and struggles.  Lent is the perfect time to surrender all to Him who loves us.  God bless.

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From Mundane To Majesty

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada, 2010 taken by Martha Wiggins

Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada, 2010 taken by Martha Wiggins

“Now no one can look at the sun, bright as it is in the skies after the wind has swept them clean.  Out of the north he comes in golden splendor; God comes in awesome majesty.”  Job 37:21-22

Are you in a rut?  We all get in a rut at times.  Sometimes life seems to find a status quo where nothing exciting is happening.  We might head to work every day singing ‘Ho hum, Ho hum, off to work in glum!  We wonder where is the, “Hi ho, Hi ho, off to work we go!”  Where is the glam?

We do the things we do, in the order we do them, because they must be done.  We have bills to pay, and people to care for.  If we let it, it can drag us down the path of a lackluster almost non-existence, one where nobody notices us anymore.  We just are.

What if we could get out of our rut, without changing our course?  What if we could change from mundane to majesty?  In order to do so, we must totally change our focus.  Do you focus on what is wrong, or what is right in your life?  Maybe you have a job you don’t particularly like.  Try out this thought process.  Do you have a car that takes to you to that ho hum job?  Does that ho hum job put food on your table, a roof over your head, and let you take care of all those you love?  We just changed our focus from the boring routine to one of provision and love!

It is not always easy to look on the bright side, and some situations are such that we can’t find any bright side.  If such is the case, then we must look around the situation, outside the situation, or above the situation.  When we look around it, do we see others supporting and loving us through it?  When we look outside of it, do we see the beauty of our earth and the magnificence of our Creator, letting it soothe our soul?  When we look above it, do we see God who lovingly cares about us and wants us to be whole again?

I have often said that God smiles at me.  He does!  I believe He knows what will make me smile, and looks for ways to do so.  I believe He lovingly looks for, and excitedly waits for, opportunities to make His presence known to me in a way that brings me joy.  In “Journey Through The Stillness”, my personal spiritual journal, I have related times when He unmistakably interrupted, or interceded into, a situation where I was in stress.  At times it has been with a certain song on the radio at just the right moment.  Once, it was an alligator crossing the road right in front of my car during the wee hours of the morning while on my way home from the emergency room.  Another time, it was an Eagle atop a telephone pole.  I actually stopped my car and for a moment we held each other’s gaze through my open sun roof.  As I drove off, he remained majestically atop that pole.  It had been as if God was staring down at me and I was staring up at Him!  I could go on, and if I did, you might just decide I am crazy instead of spirit filled.  All I can say is that I believe God sends me smiles.  I look for them and I appreciate them.  And, I let Him know this.

Look for what God sends you.  Think of what you like, what brings you joy, and then pay attention.  I am sure you will find Him there waiting to smile upon you.  When He does, you will have gone from mundane to majesty!

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Because There Was No Room For Them

Statue of Mary at Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy, (Basilica of St. Mary over Minerva) taken 2011

Statue of Mary at Basilica Santa Maria sopra Minerva, Rome, Italy, (Basilica of St. Mary over Minerva) taken 2011

“She gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the place where travelers lodged.”  Luke 2:7

     Today’s post is an entry from “Journey Through The Stillness”, my personal spiritual journal that I have been sharing on facebook since the start of 2010.  I hope it touches your heart and brings you a little closer to Him helping you to make room for Him in your own heart.  God bless, and Merry Christmas to all!

June 18, 2010 – We are going for a walk again today.  I find myself walking alongside Jesus down dusty, dirty, crowded streets in the town of Bethlehem.  As we go along I begin to smell the stench of animal feces mixed with the scent of hay, and an earthy odor that makes my nose burn.  At the end of the street we are facing a crude stable area up against a rocky formation.  Now the stench is almost overwhelming.  We walk up to one of the stables.  It is mostly under the overhang of the rocks, but a small thatched roof extends out beyond, supported by two cut tree limbs.  There are limbs and branches forming a makeshift fence from the rock wall out to the support limbs and across the front.  There is an opening in the middle, and there is a rope across the opening.  Inside the stable are a couple of very old milking cows, a goat, and a couple of sheep.  Looking along the row of stables I can see that each one is pretty much the same.  There are dogs running around and barking loudly.  Jesus looks at me and says, “I wanted you to see where I had my start into the human journey I was sent to traverse.”  It is hard to look my Risen Lord in the eye at this moment so I just stare into the filthy little stable.  He says, “Mary wanted some clean hay to birth and then set me upon.  There wasn’t any.  Joseph tried to dig through for the cleanest, but in the end, they had to make do with hay that had been soiled with animal saliva and excrement.  At times Mary was overwhelmed by the stench and was want to faint, but Joseph pressed her to his robe that she might breathe a familiar smell.  There wasn’t any clean water, either, Martha.  Only the trough water, which Joseph wanted to heat over a fire, but things were happening too fast.  There wasn’t time.  Joseph could see and feel Mary’s pain.  He knew her wishes for their newborn son and he could not provide.  He prayed to The Father for all to be over quickly.  It was, but then there were new concerns.  I needed to be kept safe and warm.  Warm he could handle; safe was an entirely different issue.”  I still do not want to look at Him, but I do.  He is looking lovingly at me.  He says, “Everyone wants the nice, sweet story of my birth.  It was far from sweet, Martha, but filled with LOVE.”

And here is the entry from that December that completes the story:

December 20, 2010- A star is shining so brightly above me that I can barely open my eyes to see.  I am there, at the stable.  Jesus is cradled in the hay.  My Lord says, “See my child, my Son, whom I love with a love no human being can even begin to fathom. I would shower Him with all that is good at His birth, but it would not serve mankind for Him to be in Kingly circumstances.  For the sake of the world this is how it must be.  My Son, my child.  Watch over Him.  Love Him.  He is my gift to you and all men.  Remember, daughter, you are my child also.  Seek to learn ALL that this means. Seek to do ALL that I ask, and ALL will be yours.”

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