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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Behold The Pupcycle

Today marks our 50th Gracieland webstrip.  Thank you for all of your support.  Please click on the Gracieland icon on the bottom right of the home page to see this week's strip.  Also please feel free to "share" Gracieland.  We really appreciate it when you do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Ask Ellen: Can you give me a resource I can use with my family to engage in Mass more fully? Kris

Great question!  And I happen to have a very timely answer.  My friend, Emily Cavins, produces a great resource every year.  It takes the Sunday readings for a year and creates activities and prayer that you can do as a family.  I have done it with my kids at Sunday dinner and I was pleased to see how much more they understood what was read at Mass after engaging in the activities.

Cycle C begins in Advent so this is the perfect time to buy it and begin.  You can find it at:  You can download it and be ready to go when Advent rolls around. 

If you decide to use it with your family, please let me know.  I’d love to be able to share with Emily how it has enriched your family.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Reliance Is A Dirty Word?

Reliance is a touchy subject in today’s world.  We are told that it is a negative thing to be reliant on others.  We are told to be self-sufficient.  We are told we can be who we want to be and have what we want to have without any help from others.  In fact, we are encouraged to do so.

The dictionary describes reliant as “dependent on something or someone, contingent upon, subject to.”

The truth is we are all reliant on people and things.  But where does God fit into the equation?  The Bible gives us an excellent example of a reliant king. His name was Hezekiah.  Hezekiah did many great things including sparking religious reform, he made Jerusalem the center of worship again and he listened to God’s prophet, Isaiah.

Let’s look closely at 2Kings 18:14.  Here’s some background.  Hezekiah just received a threatening letter from his enemy telling him that God was deceiving him.  It said that he and his people would not be delivered from Assyria.

Let’s look at what Hezekiah does with this information.  Read verse 14.  What would be different if we spread our problems before the Lord?  On a personal note, I had a dear friend do this very thing last week.  Although the answer wasn’t immediate from God, there was a sense of calm and peace that accompanied just laying it down.  Hezekiah shows us in this one verse a life strategy.  When it is too much to bear (or better yet even before it is) lay all your problems, failings, concerns and hopes before the Lord.  Allow Him to help you sort out where to go next.

Continue to read verses 15-19.  This is a great example of reliant prayer.  You can use this same model in your own prayer life, especially if you haven’t done it in a while and unsure of where to start.  Hezekiah begins by praising God.  All too often we rush in with our concerns and forget to acknowledge all the blessings we do have.

Hezekiah then makes his request known to God.  He actually says it.  Yes, God know what we want and need before we do.  But actually saying it out loud, helps humble us and gives us clarity on what exactly we are asking.  God honors that.

The key to Hezekiah’s prayer is the next part.  He trusts that God heard Him.  Notice I didn’t say he was sure God would do what he wanted.  He was sure that God heard him.  Many times if our prayers aren’t answered exactly the way we want, we feel that God ignored us when we needed Him most.  Hezekiah shows us that this is not the case.  God hears you the same way you hear everything your child says to you.  You heard him ask for five more cookies, but you might not grant his request.  You heard him because you are his parent, you love him, you value him and you appreciate that he came to you for help.  It is no different for God.

If we believe that God truly heard us, we focus less on the outcome.  This is how you successfully lay it before the Lord.  You ask and leave it there for Him to sort out.  He will.  And He will resolve it far better than you could.

Finally, Hezekiah concludes by returning all the glory to God.  We can do this in prayer.  But we also do it by leaving our troubles before the Lord.  We allow Him the freedom and room to move in our lives and show His power.

Examine your prayer life in light of Hezekiah today.  If you don’t have one or haven’t in awhile, use his example to start to today.

Ask yourself the following questions:

How do I pray?
Do I praise God for all He has done in my life?
Do I ask God to hear what I need?
Do I simply make my request?  Or do I seek to justify it?
Do I trust immediately that my prayer has been heard?
When the request is granted, do I return the glory to God?

Who or what am I reliant upon?  Why?

Have I bought the myth that I should rely only on myself?