Branching-Out

Amazing!

Posted by Sharon Krause on Sep 1, 2021 6:00:00 AM

This time of year, I like to take rides on country roads and look for little hints of color changes in the trees. I love the season of autumn, especially here in New England,  and usually wait impatiently for stores to start displaying fall-themed products. To me, it is amazing how Creator God has equipped nature with such beautiful colors and the chemistry to realize them. It is all very pleasing to the eye.

But amazement goes a lot farther than color hitting the eye. True amazement cuts to our very core and can be life changing. Jesus, the Creator’s Son, filled many people with awe and amazement and astounded his followers over and over again when he walked among them. His miracles, teaching, and actions captured their rapt attention.

Particularly in the Gospel of Mark we read many examples of how Jesus inspired awe. In at least 13 verses we read words such as astounded, awe, and amazement. In Mark 15:5 we read that even Pilate was amazed.

My question is, do we take the time to be amazed at all the positive realities around us these days? Every time I turn on a newscast, there is mostly bad news, especially related to the pandemic virus and its variants. People’s reactions to limitations and mandates take up so much of their energy and time.

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Topics: appreciation, gratitude, Sharon Krause

Summer Thoughts

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I live in Connecticut and have been known to complain when the summer temperatures get into the 90s and the humidity becomes unbearable. I think many of us are good at complaining about things that annoy us.

Let’s look on the brighter side today. I say it is time to thank God for the gifts he gives us especially, but not exclusively, in the summer. When we think about summer activities such as swimming, playing golf or tennis, enjoying baseball or soccer, we should take time to thank the Lord for our muscles, our eyesight, our coordination, and our strength. Even when we have summer chores to do, such as weeding the garden or mowing the lawn, we have to admit that God is very generous with us. When was the last time we thanked God for the inventions of sunscreen, bug repellant, ice cream, and beach umbrellas?

While vacationing in Maine one summer, I happened got up very early one morning and looked out the window of the motel which overlooked Moosehead Lake. The sun looked like a giant raspberry rising out of the lake. It was a breathtaking sight. God is such an artist!

Summer skies, configured with puffy clouds, delight any of us that take the time to notice! Sure, lately there have been numerous frightening storm clouds, but storms pass, and God gives us new days and new vistas.

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Topics: God's gifts, gratitude, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, thanking God

Good Reminders

Posted by Sharon Krause on Apr 26, 2021 9:15:00 AM

I was riding through a residential area that I don’t have occasion to visit often when I noticed a small cross on the side of a house. I thought to myself, what a nice idea! Of course, I don’t know the reason for its being there, but it could be a pleasant little reminder to say a prayer before you go out in the car on an errand, or to pray in thanksgiving at your safe return.

In these days of carefulness about sanitizing, I often go to my kitchen sink as soon as I return from an outing and wash my hands. I grab the plastic bottle of dish detergent, give it a squeeze, and wash for the recommended 20 seconds. Lots of times I will notice some tiny bubbles that come out of the bottle along with the liquid soap; they float in the air all around me for a second or two. Each bubble, self-contained, silently reflecting the sunlight, gently glides through the air. They remind me of the numerous little blessings I take for granted each day of my life. My hands function, I have clean running water, I can smell the lemony fragrance, I can sanitize even though I have happily received my two doses of virus vaccine. Sure, those are small things, but they should not be overlooked.

People are easily reminded of bad events in their livesa scar on their skin reminds them of an accident; a dent in the car brings to mind the time someone backed into them; a doctor’s bill evokes a recent illness that was not completely covered by insurance. We all encounter such reminders, but we have to try to keep a balance by also noticing the good reminders in our everyday life.

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Topics: gratitude, Gratitude to God, RENEW International, share your faith, Sharon Krause

The Right Way

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 18, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I have heard that when Abraham Lincoln gave his Gettysburg Address and ended with the part about ”government of the people, by the people, and for the people,” he stressed the word people in each phrase, not the prepositions of, by, and for. I think about that sometimes when, at Mass, we pray:

Through him, and with him, and in him, O God, almighty Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, all glory and honor is yours, for ever and ever. Amen.

I like the idea of stressing, in my speech and in my prayer, the word him, and not just the prepositions, through, with, and in. It may seem like a small thing, but it emphasizes just whose invitation for help and guidance we are accepting. We can depend on Jesus. We read in John 14:13-14:

 I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it.

And in John 15:16:

 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name.

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Topics: gratitude, Gratitude to God, prayer life, RENEW International, Sharon Krause

Lenten Snowman

Posted by Sharon Krause on Feb 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I have seen plenty of snow over the years here in Connecticut, including the past couple of weeks. After the recent accumulations, several snowmen have appeared, and they got me to thinking about what a Lenten snowman might be like.

The bottom section of such a snowman would have to be a good foundation so that it could hold up the rest of the body. During Lent, we are reminded in the readings at liturgies of many of the truths that are the foundation of our gift of faith concerning the Kingdom of God. For example, in St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (6:2) we read about what God has said:

“‘At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.’  See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”

 So God’s gift of salvation through Jesus is our firm foundation. We will also be reading about Christ proclaiming Peter as the rock, the foundation, on which Jesus is building his Church (Matthew 16). And in Chapter 6 of Matthew’s Gospel, we receive a wonderful foundational prayer—Lord’s Prayer.

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Topics: Lent, God's love, gratitude, prayer life, RENEW International, repentance, spirituality

Tobit's Journeys

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jan 25, 2021 6:00:00 AM

The Old Testament book of Tobit is interesting. As I see it, Tobit, progressed through about six life journeys before dying at a very old age. He certainly had a prayerful relationship with God; in the short book, we read his heartfelt prayers in chapters 3, 11, and 13.

Before Tobit was taken into captivity, with other Israelites, from Thisbe to Nineveh, he lived a life full of virtue and works of charity. He followed the law of Moses and was very generous with any money he could amass.

Once Tobit was taken to Nineveh, he courageously expedited the burials any of his people the king had ordered executed. Tobit faithfully performed numerous corporal works of mercy for his tribal brethren. However, one night, after burying one of his own people, his journey into blindness began after he fell asleep by a courtyard wall; his eyes were covered with sparrow droppings that produced white films that obscured his vision.

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Topics: God's love, gratitude, prayer life, RENEW International, Scripture

The Seventeen

Posted by Sharon Krause on Oct 19, 2020 6:00:00 AM

One summer morning my husband and I were on the way to accomplishing some errands. As we drove past a church, we caught sight of the busy movement of wildlife. Filled with curiosity, we turned into the church driveway to get a better look. To our amazement, there was a flock of turkeys: one hen, one tom, and 15we counted ‘em—15 very little turkey chicks! They were busy looking for breakfast and did not disappear into the cluster of bushes bordering the parking lot. We got a good look at our feathered friends as they cavorted around the nearby neighbor’s backyard. What a family! What a serendipitous morning ride for us!

In retrospect, those turkeys remind me that, throughout the course of any given day, a few large and a number of small blessings come my way, and I don’t always pay attention or thank the Lord for them. Perhaps we should teach, or, by our example, at least remind others about gratitude.

I remember being challenged to jot down things for which I am grateful, beginning with each letter of the word, thanksgiving. That might be a good lesson for children who have extra time and challenges learning at home instead of in classroom settings nowadays. Young children could use just the letters in their first names or their pets’ names.

For adults and children, however, gratitude is not a word game. It is a means of prioritizing and resetting our thinking. I used to belong to a small faith-sharing community, and its purposeful existence was focused on thankfulness. We were called “the Glory Gang,” striving for a measure of gratitude in action and not just words. We all might be pleasantly surprised at our creativity when we tap into it.

There are a number of passages in the Bible about gratitude. Psalm 100 is short enough to copy and keep handy and visible, perhaps on the refrigerator door or nightstand:

     Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come into his presence with singing.

     Know that the Lord is God.
It is he that made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

     Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise.
Give thanks to him, bless his name.

     For the Lord is good;
his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.

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Topics: catholic renew progam, gratitude, prayer, RENEW International, thanksgiving, Psalm 100, wild turkeys

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