Winning Prayers Thursday, Feb 12 2015 

My Korean friends, Agnes and John, and I share animated conversations. It’s always a pleasure speaking with them when I drop off or pick up laundry at their local dry cleaners. Agnes and John are fairly fluent in English but we often get stuck due to my not understanding any Korean and English being their second language. So we fill in with a lot of lively hand gestures and laughter.

Last night we talked about the lottery drawing and its 564 million dollar jackpot. The sum was the third largest Powerball and the fifth largest lottery prize ever in the U.S.

Agnes made the insightful comment that spending a few dollars on a ticket is good for our mental health. “We are winners when we have that ticket in our hands,” she explained while waving her imaginary tickets. “Until the drawing, we are happy and dream of how we will spend our riches.”

John added another profound dimension to the conversation. “Prayer is like that. We have great hope when we send out our prayers.” What’s more, he said, “that makes us all winners.” John knows that God doesn’t always answer prayers in the way we expect but always in our best interest, even if we do not understand.

So what’s your preference—spending $2 on a lottery ticket or 2 minutes on a prayer? Or perhaps you were one of the many last night who prayed right over their lottery ticket.

©2015, Mary K. Doyle

Peace in 2015 Sunday, Dec 28 2014 

DSCN0916As 2014 fades away, we look to the new year with optimism and anticipation. Whatever was good about the past, we hope it continues. Whatever was difficult, we pray is left behind.

Some of this is in our control, which is why we make New Year’s resolutions. The custom of assessing our financial, emotional, and physical health at the onset of a new year, and making plans to improve them, is our opportunity to begin anew. Some say there is no reason to make promises that will not be kept. But however long we follow our resolutions, at least we turn things around for a few months. We lose a few of our holiday pounds on our new diet, get a little stronger with an exercise program, and spend a little less money, slightly easing the credit card gift charges we made over the holidays.

In addition to the typical resolutions, perhaps in 2015 we might consider ones that promote a kinder, more peaceful world. We don’t have to do much to make a difference. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or food kitchen
  • Donate gently or never used items
  • Avoid all books, movies, and online activities that include violence, cruelty, or profanity
  • Visit museums
  • Attend cultural events
  • Surround ourselves with gentle, loving people
  • Attend church services
  • Don’t participate in gossip in the workplace
  • Give thanks daily for what we do have
  • Clean the clutter out of our home
  • Smile at strangers
  • Think positively
  • Treat others respectfully
  • Check on elderly neighbors
  • Read inspirational books
  • Pray for peace
  • Try to be more patient
  • Avoid worrying about things that are not in our control

©2014 Mary K. Doyle

Angels On Board Saturday, Dec 6 2014 

DSCN0672

Angels are among us. Who hasn’t heard a story of someone being saved or comforted by a presence that appeared in the nick of time and then vanished before their eyes? Plenty of saints, and countless regular folk, tell stories about angels. They are referred to in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures, as well as in the Quran. Revelation 5:11 says angels numbered, “myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands.” Whether we see them or not, they are everywhere.

Symbols of peace and love, angels are depicted on cards, posters, figurines, jewelry, and clothing. Culturally, fascination surrounds these spirits. Who are they? Where is my angel? And, do angels really have wings?

We refer to good people and loved ones who have passed away as angels, but in fact angels never were human. They were created as pure spirit and always will be that. They also have unique characteristics and are intelligent, holy, and here to assist us as God’s messengers, warriors, and guides.

Angels offer our own spiritual support group right here, right now, ready and waiting to help.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

 

Expressing Sympathy Tuesday, Aug 5 2014 

“We have no words to express our sorrow.” Really? There are at least a quarter of a million words in the English language. Did you actually run out of all of them? After a death, we wish to express our sadness and offer a bit of comfort to their close friends and family. We say some silly things because we just don’t know what to say. We don’t know how to make things better. One of the most common sentences in sympathy cards is, “You are in my thoughts and prayers.” If you’ve experienced the death of a loved one, you probably received a stack of notes with this sentence. These, and other common expressions such as, “I’m sorry for your loss” or “I’m sorry for your troubles,” are fine to start with, but you might stop and think for just a moment. Begin by thinking about the person you are writing to and the one who passed away:

  • Can you say something kind about your friend or their deceased loved one?
  • Perhaps you have a fond memory of them that you can share.
  • Can you remark on their outstanding reputation, personality, or generosity?
  • Did the deceased suffer a long illness or die suddenly?
  • Was your friend involved in their care?
  • Can you identify with your friend’s loss?
  • Do you know of a Bible verse, prayer, or poem that is appropriate?

Expressing a thought imperfectly is better than not saying anything at all. Go ahead and use those common phrases if you can’t come up with anything else. But taking one more minute to think before writing or speaking truly can offer a moment of comfort to someone who is grieving.

©2014, Mary K. Doyle

Young in the Spirit Thursday, Jun 13 2013 

Young in Sprit cover 4-22-2013 - Copy

Research shows a list of factors that contribute toward longevity and vitality. Genetics, a strong social network, balanced nutrition, exercise, limited stress, optimism, and a sense of humor all contribute.

A solid spiritual foundation also is of key importance. Studies confirm that people with a strong faith can indeed live longer, healthier, and happier lives. Spirituality promotes not only longer living but better living as well, because when the spirit is strong, the mind and body are strengthened as well. We can get through the challenges of aging and caregiving easier when we ride on the wings of faith.

My newest book, Young in the Spirit. Spiritual Strengthening for Seniors and Caregivers, was just released. The book explores some of the ways in which we can build on our faith, especially in our senior years or while caregiving. Topics include, making personal prayers and devotions part of our daily routine, participating in a faith community, serving and caring for seniors, reaching for the Lord in our suffering and loss, and sharing our spiritual story.

I wrote Young in the Spirit because I found books for the general reader on the combination of faith and aging, as well as such a resource for caregivers, to be limited.  The book is short and easy-to-read at only 125 pages but contains a lot to contemplate. It is written from a Christian, specifically Catholic, viewpoint as a caregiver and one who is fast approaching the senior years.

Copies can be ordered from:

©Mary K. Doyle

Longing to Love Monday, May 13 2013 

DSCN8838

Holidays are opportunities to celebrate life with friends and family. They are occasions for us to mark the years with fond memories that help us get through tough days in the future.

Mother’s Day is such an occasion. My children, children-in-law, and grandchildren shower me with love and care, not only on Mother’s Day but always. I can’t imagine my life without them.

But I realize this also is a day that is painful for many. For the women who long for a child and are unable to conceive and carry a baby full term or adopt one, and those who lost a child along the way, Mother’s Day is a sore reminder of unrealized dreams. It’s also difficult for those who those who do not have a loving mother, or who’s recently passed away.

If you are one of those who found the day difficult, I am so sorry for your pain. I prayed a special pray for you on Mother’s Day. Perhaps God knows only you can use that longing to love in other ways the world so desperately needs.

©2013, Mary K. Doyle

Double Blessing Thursday, Feb 21 2013 

Last week I challenged you to a double adjective elimination. The goal was to see how long we could go without using the words amazing or awesome. How well did you do?

I didn’t last 24 hours.

On Friday, February 15, 2013 my first grandchild was born. Daniel John entered this world at 8 lbs 9 ozs, 21.5 inches long. He is a beautiful boy with a full head of dark hair. The first word I said when I saw him was, “Amazing!”

Daniel John

Daniel John

Only three days later, on Monday, February 18, 2013 my second grandson was born. Tyler Matthew weighed 8 lbs and measured 20 inches long. He has the sweetest little round face and brown hair.

Tyler Matthew

Tyler Matthew

We knew there was a chance our angels would arrive around the same time. My oldest daughter was due on the 8th and my younger daughter was due on the 21st ; but we didn’t expect them to be so close in delivering.

Nor did we know the genders, so when the proud fathers entered the waiting room and announced what they were, we screamed with excitement. It didn’t matter if the babies were boys or girls, yet we were surprised and delighted.

My faith is strong but watching my daughters in labor and waiting to know how those thousands of prayers would be answered–that hopefully all would be well with them and their babies–was very stressful. To experience that twice in such a short time has left me emotional, joyful, and so very grateful.

Holding those babies in my arms is the greatest gift. They are perfect reflections of God’s love. I am so blessed to have incredible children, married to supportive and loving spouses, who together have given me two grandsons in three days.

If that isn’t amazingly awesome, what is?

©2013 Mary K. Doyle

Kindness Needed Monday, Dec 17 2012 

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Needed: Smiles, Gentle Words, Acts of Kindness, Hugs, and Prayers.

There was another mass shooting last week. This time was particularly heinous as the gunman took so many young lives. We can’t help but ask why. What is happening? We can speculate, but no one really knows the reason.

What we can do is counter the heartache and evil with acts and thoughts of love. One drop of poison contaminates an entire pond and all who drink from it. The only way to diminish the poison is by dilution. The more water that is added, the less effect the poison will have.

It is the same with evil. One act contaminates the lives of many. The bigger the attack, the greater the ripple. We all feel it, don’t we?

Love dilutes evil. The extent of harm that was inflicted in recent events requires mass doses of love to counter it. The formula varies from 2 to 10 positives times one negative, but one thing is for sure, we need many more positives to counter that negative.

During this hectic time of year we must display more patience, kindness, and forgiveness. We must hold our tempers when cut off in traffic or in the check-out line, smile at the grumpy sales person, show a moment of kindness to strangers, and even more difficult, forgive the insensitivity of a loved one. Trying to get them to understand our daily struggles may never happen. Sometimes we just have to let it go.

These little things need to be done repeatedly each day by all of us to offset the damage done by a few. And it is in our best interest to do so. Our future depends on it.

©Mary K. Doyle

A Still, Quiet Moment Monday, Jul 23 2012 

The oppressive heat and recent massacre in Colorado leaves many of us anxious, agitated, and fearful. With one hateful swoop, 12 people were killed and 58 injured. Had James Holmes’ weapon not jammed, dozens more lives could have been lost. And the media reminds us of this continuously.

There’s a saying that it takes one hundred acts of love to counter one hurtful word, look, or action. After such a horrific act of violence, that means we all need to make a conscious effort to think and act lovingly all day, every day.

I find I require quiet time each day to maintain a cool and happy temperament. I do this by beginning my day in prayer. And if I feel stressed later in the day, I steal another moment in a quiet place to breathe slowly and deeply.

No matter how much you think you must do, if you are not healthy mentally and physically you can accomplish little. We can’t be in the midst of activity and noise every waking hour and not feel stressed. A still, silent moment every day is good medicine for the body, mind, and spirit.

Find a peaceful spot in your home, garden, a park, library, or church. Concentrate on your breathing, taking slow, deep breaths. Talk to God, think of someone or something that makes you happy, or repeat a mantra. Or clear your mind of everything.

You will find that meditating like this will leave you refreshed, much like a mini nap. You will feel calmer and happier, and that nature will ripple across those around you.

Namaste.

©Mary K. Doyle

Japanese Gardens Monday, Jul 9 2012 

Japanese garden

haven for serenity

and contemplation

 

Looking for a quiet corner in our noisy world? Japanese gardens are designed to promote peace and offer an environment conducive to meditation.

Like life, gardens may appear simple but rich in beauty and experience. They are miniature replicas of larger landscapes. Sand, water, bridges, and particular plants are carefully placed. Every item is significant and maintained according to tradition.

Japanese gardens were constructed for the pleasure of emperors from as early as 500 and 600 A.D. They originated on the island of Honshu, Japan in connection with the Shinto religion.  Chinese Daoism and Amida Buddhism also influenced early gardens.

Seek public gardens in your area for opportunities to relax and enjoy quiet moments of thought and prayer. A simple online search will point you in the right direction. The Midwest has many from which to choose.

From 1910 to 1939 George and Nelle Fabyan designed and constructed the Fabyan Japanese Garden in Geneva, Illinois seen in these photos. The garden has undergone two extensive renovations since their passing. Now owned by the Forest Preserve District of Kane County, it is operated by the Preservation Partners of Fox Valley. The garden is open from May 1 through October 15th. For hours and directions, see http://www.ppfv.org/fabyan.htm or call 630-377-6424.

©Mary K. Doyle

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