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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Some Things To Think About

Have I believed the myth that I am the same as men?
Do I embrace the ways in which I am different from men?
Do I complement the men of my life?  Or compete with them?
Do I believe the myth that being girlie is stupid?
Do I believe the myth that I am of less value than men?
Do I use my feminine attributes wisely?
Did I squash my girlie side long ago?
Can I be girlie and smart?
For what purpose did God make me a girl?
Why does being girlie bug me?  What am I really struggling with?
What can I learn from Esther?
Am I ready to get my girlie on?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Ask Ellen: Why do Catholics take a new name at Confirmation? Anne, PA

This is a great question and one that deserves an answer because it is a really cool thing.  Throughout the Bible God changed people’s names;  Abram to  Abraham. Sarai to Sarah, Simon to Peter and Saul to Paul.

The question we need to ask ourselves is why did God do this.  God changed people’s names when they were called to a change in vocation.  People received new names at the same time as they received new missions, when they were called to something greater.

In Confirmation we are called to something greater.  We are made full members of the Catholic Church and are sent to witness Christ to the world.  Talk about a vocation change!

We select a new name at this time to commemorate the occasion.  Often times we select a saint’s name.  The saints are great examples of people who took this change in vocation seriously.

I encourage you to find out more about the saint you chose for your Confirmation name.  If you didn’t understand the significance of this before do so now.  Take your vocation to witness Christ to the world seriously and enjoy your new identity in Christ.  Allow the change of name to change your life.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Girlie But Not A Girlie Girl

So far this week we have met two types of women: girlie women and girlie girls.  The video at the start of the week gave us a great example of what I call girlie girls.  These are women who like to play stupid.  They do the coy dumb blonde thing.  They make people think that girls really are the weaker sex.

 I blogged about being girlie, which I see as accepting your feminine side.  It is the pretty side of you.  It in no way means you need to play stupid.  In fact, it means quite the opposite.

We see these two types of women in the story of Esther.  She is so cool she has her own book!  Esther was girlie!  She was beautiful and loved girlie things.  Her girlie side won her the heart of a king.  The Bible tells us that she was lovely.  That word is girlie!  I want to be lovely, don’t you?  Sorry I got carried away there.  Esther spent 12 months having beauty treatments to prepare her to meet the king.  Can you get more girlie?   Her girliness “won the favor of everyone who saw her.” (Esther 2:15)

But Esther was also smart.  A smart girlie, just like you!  Her guardian, Mordecai, instructed her not to tell anyone that she was a Jew.  Esther was smart enough to keep that secret.  Esther quickly became an invaluable advisor to her husband.  Unfortunately, the king was tricked into signing an order to kill all the Jews in the land.  This put Esther in a very difficult predicament.  The king didn’t know that he  signed his wife’s death warrant.  Could Esther “have come to a royal position for a time such as this?” (Esther 4:14)  Our smart girlie, Esther, did a very smart thing.  She asked her fellow Jews to pray and fast for her BEFORE she went to the king.  Oh, if I only remembered to pray BEFORE I did something! 

Esther resolved to approach the king.  “And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)  That doesn’t sound like a damsel in distress, girlie girl to me.  She convinced the king to not only save her and Mordecai but also all the Jews in the kingdom.  Our girlie, Esther, has a Jewish feast in her honor to this day, Purim.  Purim is meant to celebrate the day when the Jews “sorrow was turned into joy and their mourning into a day of celebration.” (Esther 9:22)

Esther made girlie work.  I want to too.  How about you?

Tomorrow we will reflect on what this means in our everyday life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

“Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” is a song by Cyndi Lauper.  I liked that song in the 80s when it came out.  It summarized where I was in life.  I was a young girl with the world in front of me but what I really wanted was to do was to have fun.  As I grew up the focus changed and I would have told you that the song was ridiculous.  I would have told you that there was much more to life than having fun.  I even believed that girls had to prove their worth in a man’s world.  I went to college with this in mind and spent four years in this type of environment.  We girls believed that we were the same as the boys we were sitting next to in class.  We believed a myth.

Since that time of my life, I have felt the freedom that comes from accepting the fact that I am different from men..I’m a girl.  I like soft pink and pretty paper. (just look at the page surrounding this post)  I react to situations differently from the men I know.  And it is a good thing.  Having children has really driven this home.  My husband and I approach our children in radically different ways.  My children are blessed to have each perspective…some may say, “no duh that’s why God designed it that way.”

I have gone to great lengths to embrace my girlie side.  This website was a huge step for me.  To design it for women and have it look so girlie was going to define my mission.  Was I Ok with that?  I wasn’t sure.  I drove my partner crazy with my back and forth on this.  But when I really thought about it, I decided its what I like and I’m going with it.

Does being girlie bother you?  Why?  I doubt that you will find peace until you accept the fact that God made you a girl.  He made you to complete the men in your world not conquer them.

I’m going to listen to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” now and dance and thank God that I am a girl.  I’m grateful that I get to be soft, play with make-up, wear cute shoes and make pink websites.  I am free to be me. 

Tomorrow we meet our girlie biblical heroine.  Who is she?  I’ll tell you tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Are You A Smart Girlie?

After I recovered from the brain cramp that this video induced, I realized that this is the difference between being girlie and being a girlie girl.  Girlie girls can be idiots!  Europe, a country, really?  I do not want to be a girlie girl.  But in avoiding that do we go too far?  To prove that we are smart and capable do we try to become like men?  Do we deny our girlie side?  What does God have to say about this?

Keep checking back throughout the week as we discuss if it is OK to be girlie in today’s world.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Girlie Girl

Welcome to our girlie week.  Click the link above for this week's Gracenotes podcast.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sabbath Sayings...

“Every man serves the good wine first; and when men have drunk freely, then the poor wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.” John 2:10

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Reflection Questions

What makes me feel connected to a friend?

Do I truly share myself with others?

Do I feel that it is OK to like things in moderation?

Has God used my favorite things to reveal truths about Himself to me?

What can I learn from Jesus’ Last Supper?

Do I have an intimate connection with Christ?

What can I learn from Mary’s example at Cana?

Do I do whatever Jesus tells me?

What has Christ changed in me for the best? What does He still need to change?

Do I believe that Jesus has saved the best wine for last?

Friday, April 22, 2011

Ask Ellen: Do I HAVE to?

Ask Ellen If the Bible doesn't say we have to go to church(if I remember right) or it is a sin, why does the Catholic Church trump it by saying it is a sin if we don't? Lisa, ME

Thanks for your interesting question, Lisa. I think I need to answer it on two levels. The first is to address what it means to be Catholic. As Catholics, we believe in the authority of Scripture and Tradition. This is different from most Protestant denominations who believe in the authority of Scripture alone. Since we recognize the authority of Tradition, we believe that the Church has the ability (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit) to make the rules. One of these rules is that all Catholics attend Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday. The Church has this rule for our own good. Many have said, “I don’t need to go to Church on Sunday. I keep the Sabbath my own way.” But you don’t. You miss the opportunity to receive Jesus in the Eucharist and you miss the opportunity to worship among family, your Catholic brother and sisters.

When we search Scripture for verses we like, to back up our own position, we run the risk of missing the whole story. The Old Testament may not clearly state that we must go to Church on Sunday. But it sure was implied. No devout Jew would need that to be written. They kept Sabbath and they kept it well. We read of it in Numbers. When they physically had a Temple, they were there on the Sabbath. We need to dig deeper to realize that was simply their way of life.

The New Testament contains many references to Christians observing the Sabbath together in the Eucharist. Paul urges us not to “forsake the assembly.” He means, “Get your butt to Mass.”

This is why Tradition is a beautiful and essential aspect of our faith. Our Church Fathers studied this. They knew that this was just plain obvious to the original readers. In their wisdom, the Fathers knew that it wouldn’t be to us. So they defined it for us. The third Commandment is “Keep holy the Sabbath.” A Jew intuitively knew what that meant. Thanks to the Catholic Church so do we!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Saving the Best for Last

On Thursday we usually study a biblical character that relates to the week’s theme. Today we will look less at the character and more at the event. The event is a wedding feast. The character is Mary. Why do I want to focus on Mary? She knew a good party needed more wine. And she knew where to go to get the best wine.

Take a few minutes to read John 2:1-11.

I love that Jesus’ first recorded miracle was to make wine out of water. Mary saw that the wine had run out and she didn’t want the hosts to be embarrassed. She went to the one person she knew could make something out of nothing, her son Jesus. She models what being a disciple of Jesus is when she tells the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.” Oh if we would but heed those words!

Jesus tells the servants to fill six really large containers with water. And they fill them to the brim. Jesus then tells them to bring some to the steward. The steward is astounded by the quality of wine and praises the Groom for his choice to serve it. He tells the Groom that it is strange to serve the best wine late in the evening. Most weddings served the good stuff first and then when the people were too drunk to know the difference, they brought out the Boone’s. But not Jesus. Why? Because anything He changes brings out the best. Certainly wine was part of Jesus’ life. Certainly it is part of mine. But what I like most is the thought that Jesus saved the best wine for last. That is my definition of heaven. When I get there I hope it will be clear that Jesus saved the best wine for last.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Italian Families Have Got It Right!

I have given a lot of thought to why I like wine. In fact, the homework I had to do for this week was the most fun yet. You can’t think about wine without partaking in some of it…right? Anyway I know that I like wine but I have never asked myself why. I know when I’ve liked wine too much. And if I don’t the hang-over reminds me. But why do I like it? Hummmm….

I like the feeling of connection it brings. I love to sit with a girlfriend and share wine..and ourselves. Somehow it makes me feel closer to her. We not only share the drink, we share each other.

As I was pondering why I like wine so much I pictured the big Italian family who gathers every Sunday for food, conversation and of course WINE. The feelings that this image provokes are the feelings I have about wine. Wine is a great enhancement to any meal and when we share a meal we share something intimate. Wine can induce some great conversation. It can make you more friendly. It is hard to share a glass of wine with someone and not feel like friends. Wine means sharing and intimacy to me.

I think Jesus knew this. Wine was part of His life. He shared many meals and wine with His closest disciples. One evening meal stands out in my mind, The Last Supper. He had all the aspects of a big Italian dinner at that meal. There was food, it was Passover after all. There was some pretty serious conversation going on. And there was wine. In fact Jesus chose wine to transform into the most precious part of Him, His Blood. As the apostles shared in this cup that night, they were no doubt as close to Jesus as anyone could be. They certainly felt intimate and connected.

That same cup is offered to me at Mass each week. In it, I share the intimate connection with Christ. Jesus must have known that wine has the ability to connect people and that is why He revealed Himself so beautifully through it.

Don’t take the cup for granted. Embrace the closeness it brings with family and friends. And rejoice in the way it connects you with Christ.

Monday, April 18, 2011

"I like"

Our first "I like" week begins today, as we discuss... wine!

We are updating the way our podcasts are hosted, so for now please cut and paste the link below to enjoy this week's Gracenotes.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sabbath Sayings

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And He fasted forty days and forty nights.”  Matt 4:1-2

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Reflection questions

What have I learned about the true meaning of Lent?
What does the number 40 represent in the Bible?
What stinky Ark have I been on too long?
What manna am I trading for quail?
Do I take matters into my own hands when I feel God is taking too long?
How will I spend these final days of Lent?
What will I purge?  What will I take on?
What did I learn from Christ’s example in the wilderness?
How does Satan make me question my identity?
How does Satan entice me to put God to the test?
How does Satan encourage me to follow false gods?
What tool can I use to overcome Satan’s temptations?

Friday, April 15, 2011

Ask Ellen: Extreme Catholics: Lenten Edition

Why do Catholics take Lent to the extreme and make it so depressing? Jason, CA

Thank you for your interest in the Church’s liturgical calendar. I’m sorry that you feel that it goes to extremes with Lent and makes it feel depressing. This is often the case because Lent is misunderstood.

The Church sets apart this time each year to allow people to enter more deeply into their faith and share in the events of Salvation History. We are called to unite ourselves with Jesus in the wilderness. We are asked to purge ourselves of things that our hindering us and take on charitable acts that help others. We are asked to recognize our own sinfulness and inadequacies in order to rely more fully on God. On the surface this may sound depressing.

But let’s look deeper. How would your life be better if you were more united with Christ and understood more fully His experience in the desert? How would your life be better if you were able to part with bad habits that have become gods in your life? How would your life change if you did things each day to help others? How would your life be better if you admitted your own sinfulness and were totally forgiven for your sins?

I’d say that life would be much better. You would experience true freedom, unbound by sin. The Church offers you this experience through Lent. Let’s embrace it fully!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Jesus, Have You Been There?

Today we focus on Christ and His Lenten journey.  In the desert Jesus does what Israel failed to do in the wilderness and shows us how to overcome our temptations.  Let’s learn from His example and succeed in making changes in our lives this Lent.

Satan is a master accuser.  He even goes so far as to try to cause Christ to doubt.  Don’t think for one minute that he won’t do it to you.  This is why we need to look to Scripture and in particular to Christ to see how to respond.

The first thing Satan does is to question Jesus’ identity.  Doesn’t he do the same to you?  Are you really different because of Christ?  Are you really forgiven?  Are you really worth anything?

The next thing Satan does is to try to test God.  Doesn’t he ask you to do the same?  If God really cared about you, why would He let ________ happen?  Did God really say ____________?

Lastly Satan tries to tempt Christ into worshipping idols.  Sister, that is one old trick.  What is wrong with wanting money?  Or food?  Or sex?

Now, take hope!  Look at how Jesus responded.  He defended Himself with the Word of God.  You can do the same.  The more time you spend studying God’s Word, the more equipped you will be to overcome the devil.  Jesus was tempted in every way that we are but He wasn’t lured by “things” the way we are.  We have got to work overtime to overcome our temptations.

Look at what is tempting you.  Figure out which of the three tactics
Satan is using and respond with the Word of God.  Use the remaining days of Lent to do some heavy-armored combat.  Then on Easter morning, you will also rise from your tomb radiant and clean.

Check back tomorrow for this week's Ask Ellen question.

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3....

The number forty is significant in the Bible.  It symbolizes testing.  Certainly Lent is a time of testing in preparation for the Easter Triduum.

If we look into Scripture we see the number forty is used in times of testing.  Take Noah for example.  He was on the Ark with a complaining family and stinky animals for forty days and nights. (See Gen 7-8)
That would test my faith, how about yours?  Yet Noah remained steadfast in his belief that God would save him and his family.

We also see the number forty plays a significant role in the people’s time in the desert.  (See Numbers)  The people wandered for forty years in the desert.  That must have gotten old fast.  In fact they complained about God’s accommodations for them.  They got sick of the manna He provided during their time of testing.  Do you?  Sometimes in the midst of trials, I also complain to God about the way He is sustaining me through it.  Talk about selfish!

The people fall into deep sin (building idols) when Moses spends forty days on Mount Sinai.  (See Exodus 32)

I often fail in my times of testing when I feel God is taking too long to answer me.  I often take matters into my own hands and quit waiting for God just like the Israelites did with the Golden Calf.

So then what opportunity does Lent provide us?  It provides us the time to take our testing seriously and rise to the challenge.  It gives us hope that we will soon get off the stinky Ark that has been holding us captive.  It allows us the time to recognize God’s provision in the midst of our trials.  Don’t overlook the manna for the quails.  It allows us to learn to wait on God to deliver us from our trials.

I am often asked, “Why does God allow us to be tested?  He knows what we will do.”  God allows us to be tested to show US what we can do…what we can overcome.

I sincerely hope that you will take these last few days of this wonderful liturgical season of Lent to spend time with Jesus in the desert.  Think of your tests in light of the Ark, the manna and Mt. Sinai.  Learn from the lessons of our ancestors.  You will be surprised at what you are able to endure and overcome.

Stop by tomorrow to see how Jesus modeled the Lenten experience for us.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Music To Stir The Soul

I’d like to introduce you to Matt Maher, one of my favorite musicians.  He provides us with some important things to think about this week as we reflect on Lent.  What things need to be purged from your life?  What will it make more room for?

Check in tomorrow to learn why we observe Lent.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Welcome To Lent

Please be sure to listen to today's podcast.  Click on the Gracenotes link above.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Sabbath Sayings-Busyness

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful.  Mary has chosen the good portion and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42)

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Reflections On Busyness

Am I overscheduled?  Too plugged in?
Do I avoid silence at all costs?
Do I make time to sit and listen to Jesus? (like Mary did in Luke 10)
What can I learn from Christ’s approach to life?
Are my family meals slow and purposeful?
When I say ‘yes’ to something, do I think of whom I am saying ‘no’ to?
Have I carved out quiet time?
Is faith a check on my to-do list?
Has God left my life and I haven’t even noticed?
What have I learned from Martha?
Can I slow down before a tragedy makes me do so?
Do I “serve much” or do I serve well?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Ask Ellen

Fridays are Ask Ellen days.  Click the Ask Ellen link on the right side of the page to see today's question.  Please feel free to submit your questions as well.  Each week I will choose a reader's question to answer.  Each month a winner will be drawn from those submitting questions.  You might be the lucky person who wins!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Martha Madness New Testament Style

Many of us can really relate to poor Martha.  What is too much of a good thing? Seems to be the key question concerning Martha.  We meet her in Luke 10.  She started off well..receiving Jesus into her home. (Certainly, better than refusing Him, right?)  As any good hostess would do, she immediately began the preparations necessary for entertaining Jesus.  She soon became frazzled with all there was to do. (After all, she couldn’t run to the Wawa for more olive oil.  And there wasn’t time to squish the olives herself, which Martha would do).  Can’t you just see her (I mean you) fussing to make sure everything was perfect?

Luke tells us that Martha did “much serving.”  Obviously serving is a good thing!  So why would he tell us “much serving?”  The key might come in the next few verses.  Martha was resentful that her sister, Mary, wasn’t helping her.  Isn’t that what we do?  Sign up for way too many things and then become annoyed that no one is helping us complete them.  The sad answer is that we have no business taking them on in the first place.  Service is a matter of the heart.  Why am I agreeing to do these things?  Recognition?  Insecurity?  Popularity?

If my motives are pure, I won’t grow resentful.  If I am truly seeking the good for another person by offering my help, how can I resent that?

Hey, Martha, check your motives!

There IS good news for Martha.  After her brother dies (John 12), she runs to meet Jesus.  She tells Jesus that she knows if HE was there her brother wouldn’t have died.  She confesses her faith, “Yes, Lord, I believe.”  I hate to think that the only thing that slowed Martha down was her poor brother’s death!  I don’t want it to take a tragedy for me to stop!

I want to make the conscious choice to stop “serving much” and start serving well!

Check back tomorrow for our weekly Ask Ellen question.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Check It Off

If you are reading this chances are your faith is important to you.  Or you want it to be.  But realistically, is it one more thing to do on the list?
            Mass on Sunday –check
            Bible Study on Wednesday- check
            Serve on church committees- check

I am so overscheduled that it is almost impossible not to write faith on the list with a checkmark next to it.  But faith doesn’t fit in a box.  It is organic.  It is never completed.

So then what do you do with it?    You try to slow down and nurture faith.

Heaven forbid we hear “he did not know that the Lord had left him.” (Judges 16:20)  What if that is true of us?   What if God stopped working in your life six months ago and you were too busy to notice?  I dare ask, has He left?  Would you know or care?

This begs the question, how can I prevent this from happening?  There is but one slow down…to stop even.

Fully embrace the God who cannot be managed, checked off, or accomplished.  Be thankful for is probably the only thing in your life that can’t be.

Treat your faith as it deserves…nurture it, feed it, water it and give it space to grow.  Don’t just check it off the list.  Don’t allow God to leave you and it go unnoticed.

We will meet another famous Martha tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Martha Madness

Is anyone busier with things than Martha Stewart?  What is too much of a good thing?  What things are you too busy doing?

We will talk about how busyness impacts our relationship with God tomorrow.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


For today's podcast, please click on the podcast link "Gracenotes" above the Scripture verse at the top of the page.  Our Monday podcasts can be found there.