“Take your life and give thanks for it, all of it.”
“Abundance grows out of gratitude.”
Both of these quotes are brought to you by Fr. Darrell Venters.  His homily this Sunday was short, but intense.  The readings reflected the loaves and fishes.  But Father decided to talk about gratitude and I’m glad he did.  He told us that at the last supper Jesus gave us his body and blood, out of gratitude and that we should do the same.  The point that I liked especially was his comment “all of it”.  Father said the good and the bad.
Jesus was human.  He had some of the same issues we have.  He had doubt.  He had joy.  He had love.  I’m sure there were people he didn’t like although he loved everybody. Jesus was just as human as you and me.
I’ll bet there were days he didn’t want to get out of bed.  I’ll bet there were days he couldn’t wait to get out of bed.  I have those days.  Anymore though I can’t wait to get out of bed more often than I don’t want to get out of bed.  I don’t know why.  It probably has something to do with the sun being up.
I’ll bet there were days Jesus was nothing but hungry.  I’m not sure he loved food as much as I do but I do know that eating a meal was social for him.  My favorite meals are social for me.  I just love going out to eat and having a good conversation.  Jesus seemed to like that too.  Think about the loaves and fishes.  He didn’t want the crowd to disperse so he told the apostles to feed the crowd themselves.  He knew that good conversation was going on and there was no reason to interrupt that for a meal.
Can you believe I didn’t delete this picture? It’s awful! But I love it because I loved taking it. And it reminds me of something my mother would have done.
I’ll bet that Jesus didn’t care one minute about what he was going to wear each day.  I don’t worry about that either.  I wear the next thing in my closet.  Sometimes I get put out because I never wear the things in the back of my closet.  So then I’ll change direction.
I’ll bet that Jesus was in a bad mood sometimes.  In fact, I know that he was.  I’m sure he was snarky sometimes.  I can be snarky.  There are lots of times that I’m in a bad mood.  But then there are times that I’ll force myself to change my mood.  I may call a friend or eat chocolate.  I know ways to get me out of my bad moods.  I think Jesus used being in a bad mood a lot of times to prove a point.  I usually don’t do that.  Usually my bad moods are brought on by other people, lack of sleep, or because I’m hangry.  I get hangry a lot.
I’ll bet that Jesus was all about his relationship with people.  I love developing relationships with people.  That’s probably one of those things that I’m really good at.  It’s probably one of those things that I don’t think twice about.  Jesus didn’t think about it but I’ll bet you he has looked for opportunities to build a relationship with people.  In fact, even today he is looking to build relationships with people: some that he knows and others that have never met him.
I try very hard to be open to what God wants from me.  Some days he tells me specifically while other days he leaves it to me to figure it out.  Sometimes he puts people in my path to set me straight.  I value those people so much more.
Sometimes Fr. Darrell’s homilies are funny.  He brings the point home in a funny way.  Not this day.  I could feel my face paying very close attention and trying to understand exactly what he was saying.  I asked my family at breakfast what they thought about Father’s sermon and they just shrugged their shoulders.  I wanted to call them out on it and tell them that I knew that they didn’t get it.  But I decided that Jesus wouldn’t do that and I’m going to try really hard to be so much more like Jesus.  I’m grateful that I grasped a little bit of Father’s sermon and I hope that I can pass that abundance and gratitude on.  And each day I hope that I can take my life (the good and the bad) and give thanks for it.  Because I do have a pretty great life.
Cynthia Elder

Roll the Stone Away

You might think that I’m behind but I’m not. There has been so much going on in the Church the last 40 + days that I just can’t get my head wrapped around it all. So, if I repeat myself here please accept my apologies.

If you walk up to or drive by St. Jerome Church in Fancy Farm the sign on the church says “Roll the Stone Away and See the Wonder God Can Do”. Woah! What stone will I not roll away? What am I hiding behind that stone? Better yet, what is God hiding behind that stone.

A friend of mine posted on social media “What if I told you that you already are everything you are trying to become?” Woah! Same message? I think so.

I’m one of these people that say “when all conditions are right then I’m going to do . . . “. So for most of my life I didn’t write because I didn’t have a computer. Then I didn’t write because I didn’t have the right pen. You name the excuse and I could come up with it. Every. Single. Time. But what I’m hearing from all outlets is that I already am a writer. Yes, I write blog posts. And yes, I write some for work. And yes, I have about 3 novels inside of me SCREAMING to get out. But do I spend hours writing? No, I don’t. I wish I did. But I always say “well, all conditions are not right”. I need to sit myself down in a chair and scream to myself “YES THEY ARE!”

When the disciples met up with Jesus originally I am sure they had no clue what He had in mind for them. If they had, would they have come? Would someone like Peter have put himself through all that he went through? Peter had to grow quite a bit to become the rock of the Church. And as much as we berate Thomas for doubting he had to have a good role model in Peter. The Lord tested him at every turn. What about John? Timid, precious John? John, who loved Jesus above all. Would he have followed Jesus knowing what he had to witness? Would any of the disciples have followed Him knowing what they had to suffer and how they would die?

But they came out of that upper room energized in faith. They all took to the streets to make sure everyone know about the Risen Savior. And the people flocked to them. Everyone couldn’t get enough of them.

Aren’t I called to do as the disciples did? Aren’t I called to live up to my potential? You knew that I was going to have to get Fr. Darrell’s sermon in here somehow, right? We are all required to live up to our potential. That might be just raising a child that will raise a child who will continue the faith. That might be writing a blog post as the Spirit hits. That might be going out and discovering a cure for cancer or diabetes or heart disease. We all have a potential to live up to. So my question is, on days, weeks, months, years, that I procrastinate or do something other than my potential, am I sinning against God? Ooooh, food for thought. My immediate answer would be “yes”, but isn’t God a lot more merciful than me?

So, if I all we have to do is live up to our potential then maybe that is something to strive for during this Easter season. And if I make it to Pentecost doing as He tells me to do then I should be able to make it for the rest of my life.

Yep, I’m energized to do that. I’m excited to do that. Listen here, all conditions are right.

Cynthia Elder

I Am Not Worthy

Everywhere I look and see these days I feel that I am being called to evangelize. I feel very comfortable being given that role, but. . . .

I don’t feel that I am worthy. Who am I? I’m an older, white, female (you notice that I didn’t say “elderly”). What do I have to offer? True, I have stories but I don’t have that one story that catapults me to the role of evangelist.

But then I hear this at Mass this morning:

“Jesus did not read the scripture, He let the scripture read Him . . . Let the scripture read you too.” Fr. Darrell

I am a firm believer that the Holy Spirit is in my life. There have been times that I do a very good job at something, and I know, for a fact, that the Holy Spirit is responsible. But I also know, that there are times that I work very hard at something. And although I believe that the Holy Spirit is there with me, it’s not all about Him. I’ve had some input into my accomplishments. In my life, it’s like I’ve always owned the things that didn’t go right but have always waived the things that did go right. I give credit for those things to anyone who has helped me, or to the Holy Spirit. I do appreciate it when those who are winning awards say, “First, I would like to give all glory to God”. I usually give myself credit way down the list. Honestly, I don’t think like that. Honestly, I think “Man, I have worked hard on this. I sure hope that somebody notices.” And when they do I’m all like “shucks, Ma’am, twernt nothin’.” But inside, I’m all like “you got that right, sister, it’s all about me!”

So, let’s get back to the evangelization thing. I’m Catholic. We don’t evangelize. Why would we even want to? That could have something to do that I’m a cradle Catholic, raised in a very dominant Catholic community. It could be that I was never around anyone who ever evangelized, other than a preacher here or there. There was no need to evangelize. We would have been preaching to the choir.

But, as I have gone through life I have found myself in the middle of an opportunity to evangelize and I’ve missed the opportunity. Or I’ve discounted what I had to say. That’s it more than anything, I’ve discounted what I have to say. And those who know me know that I have a lot of something to say. So, . . .

I think the shingle will be hung out. I’m giving you all fair warning. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t plan on preaching. I don’t plan on getting my soap box and letting you know of the evil you do and the wonders that I do. That’s not going to happen. But I am going to live my life out loud. I intend to look for opportunities to tell you of my beliefs and my perspective on faith. I think I’ve earned that.

I have often told myself that no one wants to hear what I have to say. But then I look at places where people have wanted to hear what I have to say. They’ve asked. Or they’ve commented on something that I’ve said. And, something else. I have an awful lot of life experience. Things have happened in my life, that has brought me my stories. I’ve lived a pretty full life, a pretty good life, a faith-filled life. No, I don’t have a story of conversion. There was no need for that. My stories are of the journey of life, of faith. And it’s the story with the Holy Spirit by my side. Sometimes I knew it, and lots of times I didn’t have a clue. But there are reasons that I am still here when there are times I look back and by all rights I shouldn’t still be here. I do give that credit to my guardian angel, or the Holy Spirit. I know it’s because of divine intervention.

I have often felt that God had a plan for me. Maybe I haven’t been ready. Maybe I keep looking in the wrong places for His plan. I do know that if I do as He tells me to do that He will reveal his plan for me, in His time. Maybe he’ll do that when I’m 80. I hope that He does it before then because I would really like to enjoy it.

So, Fr. Darrell, I’m going to continue to read the scriptures and maybe I’ll let the scriptures read me. Maybe that is part of the plan.

Get ready, because I’m here and I’m not going anywhere.

Cynthia Elder