Fourth Sunday of Lent 2023

We were so blessed to spend part of Spring Break at Ben’s family cabin outside of Denver. We were there for 6 days and had a lovely time, even if the little boys were struggling to sleep between runny noses and the altitude. It is such a joy to be able to share this cabin with our kids. Ben’s family has old films of the cabin being built by his great-grandparents and their children. The cabin has since been expanded upon, improved and maintained by the whole extended family. It is a work of art and a bit of a historical record for the family.

Nothing happens by coincidence and I am unsurprised that before arriving at the cabin, I wasn’t sure what to talk about for this week’s video. I was drawn to the conversation Jesus has with His disciples at the start of the reading about whose sin caused the man’s blindness – his or his parents? This tied into a question I reflected upon in my Bible Study about generational sin. Then, I found myself at this generational cabin. The generations it is, even if it can be an uncomfortable topic.

We know, as Jesus tells us, that afflictions like blindness are not caused by a family member’s sinfulness. Children do not receive the spiritual punishment that their parents or grandparents earned through their wrong choices. We do, however, still pass on many things from one generation to the next. These can be big, serious things, like alcoholism, mental health struggles, perfectionism, abuse, gambling. They can be littler things like leaving dishes on the counter, staying up late reading, sleeping past alarms, forgetting to water plants, etc. They can be fantastic things like diligence in going to Mass each week, following the Lenten fasts, cleaning up each night before bed, having a prayer routine, putting clothes away once they are folded, calling parents, grandparents, and other family members on a regular basis, etc. I’m sure you have come up with some of your own ideas.

In the nature vs. nurture conversation, there’s a lot to be said for the nurture side of things. We receive a lot. We give a lot. This then begs the following questions:

  • What have I received that I appreciate, use, and has helped me become a better person?
  • What do I wish I hadn’t received?
  • What have I given to my children, nieces, nephews, coworkers, or friends?
  • How is what I am giving helping them grow in holiness?

As if this wasn’t enough, while I was recording I found myself starting to veer off this topic of generational sins and gifts and reflecting on the cause Jesus gives for the man’s blindness:

Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.

John 9:3

The suffering isn’t a punishment. That’s almost as hard to swallow as the notion of generational sin.

As humans, we like cause and effect. X leads to Y. There was a sin, a consequence follows. Wrongdoing is followed by negative consequences, i.e. suffering. The Jewish people had experienced this many, many times. The people refused to enter Canaa and none of that generation was allowed to enter the promised land. Their descendants had to wander in the desert as the consequence of their disobedience (See Numbers 13-14 for the story). The same thing happens when the Kingdoms of Israel and Judah are overrun and taken into exile. The people rebelled against God, forgetting their side of the covenant. As a consequence, they and their children suffered.

Jesus tells us this type of transactional causes for suffering no longer rules the world. He has come, and He bears the punishment for all of our sins. For what purpose, then, does suffering occur? Jesus tells us in our Gospel that even suffering can be used for God’s glory. Put another way, I can think of no better answer than this clip from Season 3 of the Chosen. I hope you take the time to watch it, even if you chose these 6 minutes over mine that is linked above.

If suffering is something you struggle with, either your own, someone you know, or a suffering that has been passed through your generational story, I would encourage you to read the book, When You Suffer: Biblical Keys for Hope and Understanding, by Jeff Cavins. It is a beautiful and gentle book about suffering and how the Bible can help us better understand, accept, and then use suffering to participate in God’s plan for our lives.

Daily Graces.

Second Sunday of Lent 2023

It’s about the be the second week of Lent already if you can believe it. For some of us, perhaps it feels like Lent has been dragging on as we struggle to persevere in our chosen fast. I have had up and down days for sure. It is insightful to take last week’s message about fruits and see how the Holy Spirit is working in my life. For one of my fasts, I’m choosing to do a full fast on all the Fridays of Lent (as in the Ash Wednesday and Good Friday fasts of one regular meal and two smaller ones that don’t equal the larger). I have never been good at fasting, and I was rather nervous about it this year since for nearly 11 years I have always been either pregnant or nursing.

I was surprised to find I wasn’t struggling all that much with hunger. I figured my kids would be begging me to eat something by 3pm because I was getting so hangry (hungry/angry). This doesn’t mean I wasn’t struggling. On the contrary, I was struggling immensely because I couldn’t control my thoughts about food. When will I eat next? What should I eat? How long has it been since I’ve eaten? I wonder why I’m not more hungry than I feel? The Holy Spirit’s work seems to be twofold – detachment from food and disciplining my thoughts. It’s only been 2 fasting days so far and I can already see progress in both of these areas.

Speaking of progress, it’s funny (and not so funny) how sometimes we have to learn the same lesson a few times before it really sinks in. Take Peter, who we are looking more closely at in this week’s video. I mentioned the show, The Chosen, and how it beautifully displays the scene of Jesus walking on the water. Peter, too, walks but only when he keeps his attention fixed on Jesus. When he looks around at the waves and wind he becomes scared and begins to sink. Again at the Transfiguration, Peter beholds the most incredible sight as he witnesses Jesus’ full divinity on display. And then he looks down, back to earthly things. God literally interrupts Peter to draw his eyes back heavenward.

I also brought up a passage from the book of Exodus regarding the Israelites Red Sea crossing. They had not crossed yet, but had turned to see the chariots of Pharaoh closing in on them. With the sea at their back, they felt trapped and began to panic. Being still was the farthest thing from their minds. And yet, this is the command of God through Moses.

Do not fear! Stand your ground and see the victory the LORD will win for you today. For these Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you have only to keep still.

Exodus 14:13-14

Stillness is hard. For some of us, we aren’t even still in our sleep as our mind wrestles with the problems of the day and the worries of tomorrow. Restless, busy, anxious, worried, full, overwhelmed. We spin on our hamster wheels day after day without seeing any real progress. What’s the point of it all?

The hard truth is that our life isn’t about us. It’s about God. We were made not for ourselves, but to give God glory and praise. We were made for relationship with Him, not with the world. When we recognize that fact, we take our first step off the merry-go-round. Fear not – let go of what you are afraid of. Are you busy because you are afraid to be seen as lazy? Are you anxious because you want to be in control of everything? Are you restless because time shouldn’t be wasted or seen an unproductive? Are you overwhelmed because you want to please everyone so you don’t say no?

Letting go of fear means we can look beyond ourselves and see what God is waiting to give us. Have you ever tried to give something to someone while they are running away from you (you with toddlers, you know what I mean). It’s hard! It’s messy, uncoordinated and usually doesn’t go well. God isn’t going to shove His blessings upon you while you run in the other direction. He waits, He is waiting. He is waiting for you to let go of fear and to be still so that He can fill you with His love and grace.

Be Still.

If you need more encouragement, look again to Peter. Peter, who clung so strongly to fear that he denied even knowing Jesus during Jesus’ trial, is who Jesus chose to be our first Pope. Peter was too scared to say he was a follower of Jesus to a few people. And yet at Pentecost, he preached a speech so moving more than 3,000 people were baptized in a single day. The same Spirit that filled Peter fills each of us who are baptized.

There is much the Holy Spirit would like to work in your life. Are you ready to let go of fear? Be still before God, release your fears to Him and watch His wonders unfold.

Daily Graces.

First Sunday of Lent 2023

I cannot thank you all enough for the warm reception I’ve received since joining the YouTube community. This is a new thing for me and I am definitely not comfortable yet. But, two videos down and I’m happy to say I don’t hate it, so that’s a good start!

Without going into exactly what’s in the video – you’ll have to go watch it yourself for the full reflection AND, it’s under 6 minutes, whoot! – I wanted to share a little bit more about times of preparation.

If you stop and really think about it, we are always preparing for something. It can be big things, like how childhood is preparation for adulthood, or super small, ordinary things, like preparing onions for tonight’s stew, or any number of in-between things. Preparing for a presentation at work, preparing for seasonal changes, preparing lesson plans, preparing for that potentially confrontational phone call. Some part of our mind is in preparation mode. Always.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

If God is working all things for good, then even our back of the mind preparations can be used for His purposes.


There is always an end goal in mind when it comes to preparations. Even if the event fails to take place, there was still something driving the preparations. You don’t prepare for nothing, there’s always something. You get to a specific point and can look back and discern if your preparations were enough, worth the time, could have gone better, etc.

We are in the season of Lent, a season of preparation. Ah, you see how it connects now. What is the event we are preparing for? Easter, of course. But more than just this Easter my friends. A lifetime of Easters. For the eternal Easter in heaven. Each Lent, we should be farther along in our preparations to our ultimate goal – heaven. How is this Lent bringing you closer to that heavenly reality of endless Easter?

I was sharing about this week’s video with my kids. They are loving this whole new “YouTuber” status they think I have. In the video, I offer the Fruits of the Spirit as a lens through which we can look at our Lenten fast to see what God is cultivating in our lives. As I explained it to them, I was quickly interrupted: “Oh, like temperance? That’s a virtue people can grow in by fasting.” and “What about modesty or forbearance?” and “I bet people grow in patience over Lent.”

Yes! Yes! Yes! I should have talked to them before recording because a thousand times, YES! The virtues they have been striving to live as a school community would have fit perfectly alongside the Fruits of the Holy Spirit. Quick shout out to our wonderful school, St. Mary’s in Derby, KS, which takes the time to look closely at a specific virtue each quarter as a whole school. It’s a small thing, but it’s not so small at all when an 8, 10, and 11 year old can hear me speak about God working in people’s lives and be able to specifically identify virtues which can help someone grow closer to God. You are amazing St. Mary’s, we love you!

So, if after watching the video, you find you want to look even more closely at how God is using this season of Lent to prepare you for whatever He wills for your life, consider the following list of virtues to be an excellent addition to the Fruits of the Holy Spirit:

Four Cardinal Virtues (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1804-1809)

  • Prudence
  • Justice
  • Fortitude
  • Temperance

Seven Cardinal or Heavenly Virtues which Counteract the Seven Deadly Sins

  • Chastity counteracts Lust
  • Good Works (also known as Charity) counteracts Greed
  • Temperance counteracts Gluttony
  • Diligence counteracts Sloth
  • Patience counteracts Envy
  • Kindness counteracts Wrath
  • Humility counteracts Pride

I hope these lists, along with the reflection video for this Sunday, are helpful for getting a conversation started with God in prayer about where He is taking you and what He wants you to be preparing for.

Daily Graces.