Wednesday, December 7, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  Continuing my four weeks of Advent focus on four gifts that I am thankful for, this second week I’m focusing on the gift of community.  Monday’s Gospel reading Luke 5:17-26 and Tuesday’s Gospel readings Matthew 18:12-14 are just two of the many passages in the Bible about the importance of community.   

Luke 5:17-26

‘One day as Jesus was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there, and the power of the Lord was with Him for healing.  And some men brought on a stretcher a man who was paralyzed; they were trying to bring him in and set him in His presence.  But not finding a way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on the stretcher through the tiles into the middle in front of Jesus.  When Jesus saw their faith, He said, “As for you, your sins are forgiven.”

Then the scribes and Pharisees began to ask themselves, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies?  Who but God alone can forgive sins?”  Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them in reply, “What are you thinking in your hearts?  Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise and walk’?  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– He said to the one who was paralyzed, “I say to you, rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.”

He stood up immediately before them, picked up what he had been lying on, and went home, glorifying God.  Then astonishment seized them all and they glorified God, and, struck with awe, they said, “We have seen incredible things today.”’

First, it’s not every day, month, or even year that an opportunity arises that would draw your community to act so boldly, that they are willing to carry your weight to the top of a building and gently lower you into the presence of Jesus.  To this I say Amen, that you don’t have situations like that arise too often.  And again, I would say Amen, in praise and thanksgiving for those so drawn by the love and compassion of Christ, your community, to so willingly and boldly move mountains to show you Christ’s love and His desire to be in your presence.  In your life, some of these moments may have been during a job loss, illness, a miscarriage, an accident, military deployment, family relocation, a divorce, suicidal thoughts, starting over, and so on.  It is by God’s grace that your community heard God’s calling and acted attentively to your needs.

Second, we hear how the man got up, and went home glorifying God. Which then ignited the fire within the community to also glorify God.  Not only supporting, but also celebrating with community is important.  It’s kind of like a smile…They’re contagious.  Support your community when God calls upon you and also celebrate and glory in their victories.

Matthew 18:12-14

‘Jesus said to his disciples:

“What is your opinion?  If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them goes astray, will he not leave the ninety-nine in the hills and go in search of the stray?  And if he finds it, amen, I say to you, he rejoices more over it than over the ninety-nine that did not stray.  In just the same way, it is not the will of your heavenly Father that one of these little ones be lost.”

God does not want us lost and on our own.  It is when we stray from our faith community that we become more vulnerable and susceptible to Satan’s enticements.  Your faith community is a shield against the flaming arrows trying to pierce your soul.  In times of hurt, distrust, pain, unforgiveness, depression, etcetera, these are the times that Satan finds most opportune to attack, so it’s no surprise that these are the times in which we tend to separate ourselves from community and get lost in ourselves.  In those times, I know it’s hard to want to have community around, but don’t shut them completely out.  Stay open to a handful of your community.  You’re shield may not be fully up, but at least you won’t be 100% vulnerable to Satan. 

Community is action.  Community is receiving.  Community is a choice.  I am thankful for community.  I wouldn’t be able to thrive in this earthly life without community.  Even Jesus had a community of disciples that He chose to keep close.

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#Brad&Rebekah – When We Gather

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you and happy Advent.  Yes, the countdown has begun or is the countdown just continuing?  In every moment of your life, that exact moment can be the beginning of one journey, while also being the middle and end of other journeys you are traveling.  I find it interesting to be able to step back in those moments and look at the full picture, to see how these journeys intertwine. 

A couple mornings ago I was reading in Mark chapter 12 and these two verses got me to thinking.  Mark 12: 38-39 ‘As He taught, He said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have the best seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets!”’

My focus wasn’t on the “Beware” part, but on the thought of having the best seats and places of honor.  Which then lead me to thinking about focusing these four weeks of Advent on four gifts that I am thankful for.  This first week I’m focusing on the gift of being last. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to appreciate the gift of being last and fading into the background a bit.  At this point you may think that sounds strange or maybe questioning why I would consider that a gift.  Well, there are multiple situations but here are a couple. 

Think about going to church.  You head up to, let’s say a seat within the first five pews.  This way you can be close, make eye contact with the priest or deacon, make your presence be known, and avoid the distraction of those fidgeting and crying kids.  From the last five pews, you can still see the priest and deacon.  You can make eye contact and greet them when they process out, after Mass.  But, you also have the opportunity to observe those at church with you and listen for whom God is asking you to pray for.  This is different than just people watching and it’s not about just scanning the crowd and not paying attention to the liturgy.  Every single one of us that step foot in the church are broken people.  We walk through those doors carrying heavy burdens and worries and we come to this place each week to be in community and communion with our faith family to seek Christ’s Word, Presence, and Peace.  Every single one of us are in need of prayers.  By allowing yourself the blessing of being at the back of the church, seeing and experiencing those around and in front of you, you are allowing your heart to be open to God’s call to pray for that elderly man that seems a little sad sitting in the pew alone.  Or maybe God’s call to pray for the young parent that desperately wants to be able to focus on the Mass, but their young child is sick or hungry and they are worried about making too much noise and distracting others around them.  Or maybe God’s call to pray for someone that is far away from family during this holiday season and is really missing the feeling of family and home.  Maybe He will call you to pray for that person a few pews over that just lost their job, or is being bullied, or has health issues.  Listen for His guidance and then pray as He asks you.  This truly is a blessing.

There are times and seasons in our lives when we have to be the bold, up front, in control, and in charge person.  As the parent of grown children who now have families of their own, I very much enjoy stepping back and allowing my children and their families be the center of attention and just watch and experience their interactions, and pray for them as God leads me.  It really does bring me great joy and I count those moments as some of my greatest blessings. 

Sometimes we all need to just step back, look at the big picture, and allow God to show us a glimpse of the wonder, awe, and opportunities He sees every moment of every day.  As you journey though this season of Advent, seek out opportunities to be last, fade into the crowd, and seek opportunities to pray for those you may not have otherwise even noticed. 

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  Happy Thanksgiving Eve everyone.  Reflecting on the past 12 months, I was trying to pinpoint one event, moment, relationship, thing from this past year that I’m more thankful for than anything else.  But there is not one that truly stands above all.  There have been so many moments, ranging from the start of our home construction, being physically able to put some sweat equity into that construction, prayers from family and friends, prayers for family and friends, silently sitting with a loved one, being challenged to go beyond what I think I’m capable of, seeing friends I hadn’t seen in over 20 years, seeing and experiencing the humility of a friend admitting they need help, at 55 still learning from my parents, experiencing conflict turn into resolution, helping a young girl find her parents, a solid job, consistent income, the ability to give, road trips, another year of visiting with you every Wednesday, and the list goes on and on.

But in every single item I mentioned and in every single moment of my day and night, the Lord is ALWAYS with me.  Because of His consistent, ever presence, we quite often forget to recognize His presence and tend to push Him in the background.  In saying that I am most thankful for the sacrifice He made for me, my relationship with Him, and His constant presence, in reality is saying that I am thankful for life itself, because without Him, there is no life. 

Take a moment today to consider the blessings you are thankful for and please share maybe one or two in the comments.  I would like the opportunity to share in your thankfulness.

May the Lord continue to pour His grace, love, and blessings upon you today and every moment of your life.  Amen.

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#ChrisTomlin – Forever

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  I chuckled a little to myself Sunday morning at Mass towards the end of the second reading.  2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 “We hear that some are conducting themselves among you in a disorderly way, by not keeping busy but minding the business of others.  Such people we instruct and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and to eat their own food.” 

Yes, apparently there is Biblical instruction to mind your own business and quietly do your own work. 

Here’s something to ponder…How much more peace would you have in your life if you and those you interact with (family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances) instead of focusing on and talking about others, spent that time focusing on and speaking with the Lord?  How much more time would you have to grow your relationship with Him?  How much clearer would you hear His words and guidance when your mind isn’t blocked and saturated with gossip and negative thoughts towards others?  How much more would you be able to serve and assist others if your mind isn’t plotting and tearing others down? 

A clear heart and mind can go a long way in creating a peace filled living.  Now, take that and multiply it by the number of people living in your home.  Multiply that again by the number of homes on your street.  Multiply that again by the number of streets in your city or town.  And keep multiplying that until every state, nation, and county are touched by this God ordained, God instructed way of peaceful living.

Have you been introduced to the power of compound interest?

If you took a single penny and doubled it every day, by day 30, you would have $5,368,709.12.

The important factor is the power of doubling.  If you took a single penny and doubled it every day for only 27 days, you would end up with $671,088.64.  3 days can make a world of difference, just as Christ’s 3 days in the tomb made a huge, life changing difference in yours and my life. 

The world, the country, the nation is not and cannot be the starting point for peace.  It starts with one…YOU.  Start compounding your interest in the peace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ today, and see how much richer you’ll be in 30 days.

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#7eventhTimeDown – Kingdoms

Wednesday, November 9, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  One of the books I’m currently journeying through is called “The WISDOM of the SAINTS.”  This book is composed of 365 daily quotes from the saints to help bring focus in your life.  St. Teresa of Calcutta is quoted multiple times in this book, but here are two quotes I feel compelled to share with you.

“If you want to bring happiness to the whole world, go home and love your family.”  I would add peace to this.  “If you want to bring peace and happiness…”  We must first take care of our core, our center, our family, before true peace, love, and happiness can move beyond our doors.  And once your home is overflowing you can then…

“Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”  I think this is a fantastic goal to strive for.  It’s not that you have to do big, grand, elaborate things to get someone’s attention.  It’s simply about meeting them where they are at in that moment, recognizing an underlying need or possibly a struggle, then show some compassion in your interaction with them. 

I would take a guess that we’ve all experienced the impersonal, lifeless, and sometimes harsh world of email communication.  It can be much easier to dehumanize written communication, than voice or face to face communication.  I experienced this yesterday at work.  An email was sent out to my team asking for assistance, to which was replied…We don’t do that.  True, on the surface our team doesn’t work with payroll issues, but inside, I could just feel this employee’s frustration.  She was just seeking guidance and a virtual door was slammed in her face.

Again, my team doesn’t work with payroll issues, but I took about five minutes researching the situation and then called the employee that sent the email. 

Did I solve her issue?  No. 

Did I give her a means to vent and express her frustration with not knowing where to turn, to address her issue?  Yes.

Did I make her feel heard?  Yes. 

Was I able to point her in the right direction, relieve some stress, and bring a touch of peace to her?  Yes. 

At the end of our 10 minute conversation so told me…”I’ve been having a really crappy day, but you just made it a lot better.  Thank you.”

Do the small things well in Christ and let the ripples flow to and touch many.

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#TobyMac – Rich

Wednesday, November 2, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  When we were making our way through Texas a couple weeks ago, Brian and I were on our way to a national park, but took a wrong turn and ended up visiting “The Coming King” Sculpture Prayer Garden in Kerrville, TX.  It is a beautiful, peaceful place to visit and pray.  As I stood below the 77’ 7” steel cross, I felt very small and God felt very…I can’t even come up with a word to describe His presence in that moment.  Checkout that beautiful blue sky.  In case you’re wondering, no I did not do anything to edit this picture.

After we make our way through the prayer garden, we stopped in the gift shop to take a look around.  So, one of my favorite prayers and one that I pray every morning as I brush my teeth, is the Armor of God.  It just so happened that they had a life size Sword of the Spirit, that the employee graciously offered to let me hold.  I have no idea what the weight of the sword was, but it was a very humbling and surreal feeling as I thought about the “weight” of the “Sword of the Spirit”, which is the Word of God, and how He has given us the authority to use and share His word with others.  He graciously places His tools in our hands and then allows us to determine how we will use these tools. 

How will you use them?  Ponder that for a moment.  Choose just one gift, one tool that you know that God has bestowed upon you. 

How have you used it in the past? 

Will you use it in the future? 

How can you use His gift right now, today, to help others, be Christ’s presence in the world, and further the kingdom of God? 

But seriously do we really say things like that to ourselves???  No, we usually stop at “How can I help someone?”  But when we do things and serve others in the Spirit of Christ, then without really thinking, instinctively, we are being Christ’s presence and furthering His Kingdom. 

I encourage you to take a step out of your comfort zone today and allow God to show you how much more the gift that He has bestowed upon you can be, when you step out of the way and put your trust in Him.

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#TobyMac,JonReddick – Show Up Choose Love

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  Here are a few passages that spoke to me this week.

Ephesians 5: 15-21 “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.  Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.  Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

Psalm 128: 1-2 “Blessed are you who fear the Lord, who walk in His ways!” 

Luke 13: 18-19 “Then Jesus asked, “What is the kingdom of God like? What shall I compare it to?  It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his garden. It grew and became a tree, and the birds perched in its branches.”

Our experiences, whether we choose them or they are thrust upon us, make us who we are and to some degree, trigger and determine our actions when situations present themselves.  This is why it’s so important to be grounded in the Lord and allow our experiences and relationship with Him be the trigger for how we act when situations present themselves.  When we move forward in the Spirit, we can move in peace, love, patience, and wisdom.  It takes a moment to act, but only a second to react.  Choose a moment to allow the Spirit to fill you, so that a second won’t leave you empty and regretting your actions. 

I saw this quote on Facebook a couple days ago and wanted to share it with you.  “Don’t be afraid to start over again.  This time, you’re not starting from scratch, you’re starting from experience.” – unknown. 

No matter what our relationship is with the Lord at this very moment, you and I have the opportunity to start again and grow into an even better relationship with Him.  We can build on our relationship, letting that mustard seed of faith become a tree full of branches reaching forth into the lives of those around you.  When you choose to dig a little deeper, you’ll feel the change and others will notice the change in you.  And with the help of the Spirit, your change will inspire others to seek Him also.

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#TobyMac – Get Back Up

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  This past week has been filled with many reunion moments.  First, a Priest friend from India, that I hadn’t seen in four years, reached out to me and we were able to share dinner.  Second, while traveling, Brian and I were able to visit and have dinner with an Emmaus friend, that we haven’t seen in eight years.  Third, we had dinner with one of Brian’s Navy buddies, that he hadn’t seen in 24 years.  And finally, I was able to reconnect with a group of Air Force buddies that I hadn’t seen in 33 years.  I would guess a person doesn’t normally reconnect with this many people in a year, let along a week.  I remember thinking to my self at one point last Saturday…”Am I going to die?  Is that why I’m seeing so many old friends?”  I pretty quickly answered myself…”Nope, He still has more work for me to do.”  What specifically that is, I don’t really know.  But I do know that He has commissioned  you and I to share Him with others at all times.

A common theme that multiple people stated to me during these reunion moments were…”I needed this.”  I needed to talk with someone.”  “Thank you for talking with me.”  The way I interpreted the commonalities was that each of these friends felt safe and comfortable sharing their feelings, pain, struggles, etc. with me because they could sense God’s peace and presence.

After hearing the first and second readings at Mass Sunday, I thought…”Both of these readings kind of help explain these God moment connections that I’ve been experiencing this week.”  The first reading was Exodus 17:8-13 and the second was 2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2. 

Exodus 17:8-13

“In those days, Amalek came and waged war against Israel.  Moses therefor said to Joshua, “Pick out certain men, and tomorrow go out and engage Amalek in battle. I will be standing on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

So Joshua did as Moses told him: he engaged Amalek in battle after Moses had climbed to the top of the hill with Aaron and Hur.  As long as Moses kept his hands raised up, Israel had the better of the fight, but when he let his hands rest, Amalek had the better of the fight.  Moses’ hands, however, grew tired; so they put a rock in place for him to sit on. Meanwhile Aaron and Hur supported his hands, one on one side and one on the other, so that his hands remained steady till sunset.  And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword.”

2 Timothy 3:14 – 4:2

“Beloved: Remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known the sacred Scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingly power: proclaim the word; be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching.”

Daily, we need to be engaged in God’s word and teachings, so that we not only have the knowledge, but also the wisdom we need at the exact moment to help and support friends in their trials.  Think about it for a moment.  Do you think Joshua would have willingly just jumped into a fight like that without knowing that he had backing from his friend and the Lord.  His friend was persistently praying over him as Joshua engaged the enemy.  And then when Moses grew tired, additional faithful members of their community stepped up to literally give Moses a hand of support.  Many times we think we are able to make it through these battles alone, but we can’t.  Look around you.  God has placed a community of faithful believers around you, for you to lean on.  Now is the perfect time to reach out to them.  Don’t worry, I’m sure God has been talking with and preparing them, as He had spoken with and prepared Moses for Joshua’s time of need. 

Trust in His promise that He will do what is best for you and quit fighting Him so that He can actually give you what He is promising. He can only be as close as you allow Him to be.

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#CeCeWinans – Believe For It

Wednesday, October 12, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  A couple weekends ago I took some time off work to spend a long weekend with a group of ladies, in a log cabin, at Friends Camp 2022.  It was definitely the break I needed from my job.  When we had a full team at work, I would get up 2 ½ hours before my start time, so that I could shower and get ready for the day, walk two miles, listen to the daily Mass readings and homily, read my daily devotionals, and eat breakfast before starting work.  For the past 3-4 months (I’ve lost count) I’ve been getting up 30 minutes earlier than I was before.  I take 45 minutes to get myself ready for the day and then I start work.  I haven’t been walking, listening to the Mass readings and homilies, reading my devotionals, or eating breakfast.

During Friends Camp we have morning and evening devotionals and as I listened to each of the ladies share their devotional, I thought to myself…”Man, I’m missing that in my life.  I’m missing that connection with God.  I miss my Friend.”  All this overtime is taking a toll on me spiritually and physically.  By not being in God’s word like I used to be, I’ve been allowing myself to become someone I don’t want to be.  I’m irritable, grumpy, disconnected, brain dead at the end of the work day, short tempered with people.  I don’t like that version of me and that’s not where I want to stay. 

So, here’s the thing.  It all comes down to me and MY choices.  No one else is to blame.  The overtime isn’t to blame.  So, what’s more important to me?  Which Shelly do I want to be?  Which Shelly do I know God wants me to be?  Now, what am I going to do about it?  I could make excuses, blame it on the overtime, and keep doing what I’ve been doing for the past 3-4 months.  Or I can adjust my routine, go to bed a little earlier, so I can get up a little earlier, and make sure I make the time to do what’s important to and for me. 

When I returned from Friends Camp, I made some slight adjustments and I started feeling better about myself.  There was some improvement, but not enough.  I know there are still more adjustments I need to make. 

If this sounds like a familiar season, take a step back and look at the person you are today.  Are you who you want to be?  Are you doing what you need to, to be the best you for God?  Give yourself some of that amazing grace that God offers us.  Evaluate where your life could use some adjustments.  Take the rearview mirror off.  Keep moving forward closer to God, reaching out for your greatest Friend. 

Lord, thank you for never letting go of me.

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#JamieGrace – Hold Me (feat. TobyMac)

Wednesday, October 5, 2022

😎🐫🎤 Christ’s peace and presence be with you.  Today I would like to share the Prologue to Holy Moments A Handbook for the Rest of Your Life by Matthew Kelly. 

Once upon a time there was a monastery deep in the forest. It was full of monks, they were full of joy, that joy was contagious, and people traveled from far and wide to visit.

One day a young man asked the Abbot why people came to the monastery. “Most come looking for answers to their questions,” the old monk explained. The young man was curious what type of questions people asked. The Abbot continued, “They come seeking answers to the same questions all men and women ponder. What should I do with my life? Am I wasting my one short life? Where do I find meaning? How do I get the most out of life?”

The young man had traveled a long distance to visit the monastery, and as he walked away the old monk wondered what question the young man’s heart was wrestling with.

Time passed in life at the monastery changed. It was ever so gradual at first. A couple of the monks became cranky. They had slowly closed their hearts to God and each other. Other monks became jealous. A younger monk was more handsome and popular with the visitors. Some of the monks began to argue about things of no consequence, and the poison of gossip crept into the monastery.

Visitors notice that little by little life at the monastery was deteriorating. They perceive the monks were losing their joy, they noticed the monks were not as kind to each other, and overtime they observe the monks growing impatient with their visitors.

The seasons came and went, and fewer visitors came to the monastery, until one day, the people stopped coming all together.

The Abbot rose each morning an hour before his brother monks and sat in the chapel asking God to give him the wisdom necessary to revitalize the monastery. But another summer came and went, and in the depths of the coldest winter ever, profound sadness ripped the old Abbott’s heart. He thought he had tried everything.

For hundreds of years people had come here longing for a glimpse of God in the monastery had thrived. What had he done wrong? He was wrapped with guilt and shame. The gap between his faith and his life and widened, and he didn’t know how to close it.

“Where are you going?” Brother Killian asked.

“I will visit the Hermit in the mountains to seek his counsel on our situation here at the monastery.”

There was a wise Hermit who lived in the mountains thirty miles to the north. People traveled into the mountains to seek his wisdom. The Hermit and the Abbot had been childhood friends, but this the other monks did not know.

“When will you return?” Brother Owen asked.

“Three days,” the Abbot replied.

“Who is in charge while you were gone?” Brother Fabian asked.

“I will let you decide that among yourselves,” the Abbot said. His words were still hanging in the air when the arguing broke out.

There was a time when the other monks would have been concerned about him making such a journey. But they were no longer concerned for each other, only themselves. There was a time when one of the others would have offered to accompany him, but those days were gone.

The Abbot slipped quietly out of the monastery and began his journey towards the mountains. Walking through the forest, and those first miles of his journey, he observed that his heart was anxious. But with each passing mile he became aware of a rising hope in his heart.

As dusk was falling, he came upon a small clearing in the foothills and decided to sleep there for the night. The old man gathered some wood, made a fire, ate a little bread and cheese, and settle down to sleep.

He was startled in the night by the howling of wolves and the screeching of wild parrots. He noticed his heart was racing, but he was not afraid. He did not fear death, he feared the torture of life without meaning.

Late the following morning he arrived at the Hermit’s cave. The Hermit was standing just outside the cave. As the Abbot approached, he said joyfully, “I have been waiting for you!” and the two men embraced like long-lost brothers.

“I’ve something to ask you,” the Abbot said.

“I know, but that can wait,” the Hermit replied.

“First, I want to show you something.” The Abbot was possessed by an inpatient that surprised him, but he followed his old friend.

The two men walked peacefully through the trees and after about fifteen minutes of fine lake was before them. It was breathtaking.

The Hermit sat on a large boulder at the side of the lake and the Abbot sat on a smaller boulder next to him. They sat in silence for over an hour and the Abbot felt a deep peace rising in his soul.

The lake was clear and still. The surface was like glass and the sun was reflecting perfectly on the water like a golden disc. The Abbot was mesmerized.

When the sun had reached its pinnacle, the Hermit began to speak, “A still pond reflects the sun perfectly. God is the sun. You are the lake. When your soul is still and clear you reflect the truth, beauty, and goodness of God to everyone you encounter. As the day goes on, the wind will pick up, the lake will be full of ripples, and you will barely be able to see the sun’s reflection in the water.”

After a few minutes the two men walked back through the cypress trees to the cave. As they sat drinking tea the Abbot describe what had happened at the monastery over the past several years. The Hermit listened closely and when the Abbot had finished asking a handful of clarifying questions. “What have you come here to ask?” was the Hermits last question.

“What wisdom do you have for us? How do we rejuvenate the monastery? How can we best serve the people who come to visit?” The Abbot asked.

“That’s three questions,” the Hermit said with a smile so radiant that the Abbot had to look away. “I will answer your three questions with one answer,” the Hermit continued. “Go back and tell the brothers… The Messiah is among you.” And with that the Hermit closed his eyes and slipped into a deep meditation.

“The Messiah is among us, what can that possibly mean?” The Abbot mumbled to himself. But as he walks slowly down the mountains the full meaning of the Hermit’s words took root deep in his soul.

Back at the monastery the monks were growing concerned. The Abbot had said he would be gone three days and he had already been gone five days. The next evening when there was still no sign of him, they began discussing what fate might have befall in him. The following morning Brother Fabian callously suggested he was not coming back either because he had died in the mountains or because he had abandoned them for some other life.

Just as the sun was setting that afternoon Brother Bartholomew saw a figure approaching the monastery and cried out, “We have a visitor.” It was not a visitor. It was the Abbot.

He whispered softly to Bartholomew, “Gather everyone in the chapel.” The Abbot was radiant as he sat before the whole community on the small wooden stool. He looked 10 years younger. The monks could not remember a time when he seemed so fully alive.

He told the other monks of his journey and shared with them the message he had received, “This is what I asked the Hermit. ‘What wisdom do you have for us? How do we rejuvenate the monastery? How can we best serve the people who come to visit?’ The Hermit replied, “That’s three questions. I will answer your three questions with one answer. Go back and tell the brothers… The Messiah is among you.”

The monks were astonished and gasped.

From that moment on they looked at each other differently, they thought of each other differently, and they began to treat each other differently.

The monks wondered day and night who the Messiah among them was. Was it Adrian, Bartholomew, Killian, Owen, Fabian, or was it the Abbot himself? And as the brothers wondered they began to treat each other with renewed kindness and a profound respect.

As time passed the Abbot noticed little things. There was a new spirit of cooperation. The brothers praised and encouraged each other, compassion and forgiveness return to their hearts, and they were kind to each other.

These little things, these Holy Moments, breathed new life into the community. The monks were flourishing. The monastery was flourishing. Even the flowers in the fields and the cows in the barns seemed happier.

And then one day it happened. The visitors returned. At first it was just one or two visitors like it had been in the past. But then they brought their friends, and their friends brought their friends.

Those that came to visit the monastery noticed that the monks were overflowing with joy. They perceive the monks had a profound reference for each other. And they observe the monks’ unquenchable patients with their visitors.

In a few short years the monastery had been transformed from the brink of collapse and was thriving like never before. A village sprung up around the monastery and the monastery became the center of life for the people in the village. The monks love the people, the people love the monks, and they all live together in harmony and happiness.

One Saturday afternoon the old Abbot was sitting on the bench in the courtyard looking gratefully towards the mountains, when a woman approached. Sitting down next to him she asked, “What happened here?”

The old monk beamed his warm knowing smile and asked, “What do you mean?”

“This place has been completely transformed,” the woman explained.

“No,” the Abbot disagreed gently, “the place is exactly the same. It’s the monks who have changed.”

“How did it happen?” she asked.

“We started living as if the Messiah was among us,” the Abbot replied

The woman pondered that for a moment and then began to weep. The old man put his arm around her to comfort her. She told him about her life and troubles. The woman shared with him the question that was tormenting her soul, the question that had urged her to visit the monastery. And they sat in silence for a long time.

“What advice do you have for me?” the woman asked, breaking the silence.

The two sat quietly for another long moment before the old man spoke, and then he said, “Treat every person you ever meet like the second coming of Jesus in disguise.”

Bless others and be blessed.

Shelly  :0)

If the Lord has touched you in some way with His message today, I ask that you pay it forward by sharing this message, so that you and He may also bless others.  Click subscribe to receive your message every Wednesday.

#MatthewKelly – Holy Moments