Understanding the Holy Spirit|Grow Your Faith Series

Understanding the Holy Spirit, Who is the Holy Spirit, What is the Holy Spirit, Recognizing the Holy Spirit, What does the Holy Spirit do, Who is the Holy Ghost, Who is the Holy Spirit and what does he do, what is the holy spirit in the trinity, the holy trinity

What is the Holy Spirit? WHO is it? What does He mean for you? Plus, 10 verses that can help.

I’ve grown up believing in the Holy Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (otherwise known as Holy Ghost).

I had a good understanding of the Father – the name is self-explanatory. Being the Head Honcho of the Trinity and of all creation was an easy role to grasp.

The Son was my Go-To Spirit. Jesus was more relatable, as a man. He was my friend, my brother, and my companion. He was the one I consulted most often. The one I talked to and prayed to. Jesus was my main man.

The Holy Spirit was always the mystery to me. Who was He and how did He work in my life? How could I use Him to help grow my faith, to become closer to God?

It wasn’t until a recent “Walk to Emmaus” religious retreat, where I was once again reminded that I was missing out by not knowing or recognizing the Holy Spirit working in my life.

As our Table of Ruth members brainstormed the song we were creating to represent the presentation we had just heard, quiet Juris suddenly chuckled joyfully.  “The Holy Spirit is really working here,” she said.

“You recognize the Holy Spirit?” I asked her. “Oh Yes!” she said. “All the time. All these ideas we have… The Holy Spirit is working here,” she said. The Holy Spirit made Juris glow.

Juris inspired me to ‘figure out’ the Holy Spirit – at least in human terms I could understand.

I turned to Daily Verses. These ten spoke to me:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 NIV

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17 NIV

But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.

John 14:26 NIV

And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.

Romans 5:5 NIV

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.

Acts 1:8 NIV

Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

1 Corinthians 3:16 NIV

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Act 4:31 NIV

Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.

Mark 13:11 NIV

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners.

Isaiah 61:1 NIV

Teach me to do your will,
for you are my God;
may your good Spirit
lead me on level ground.

Psalm 143:10

The Holy Spirit speaks to our deepest self. The human terms I would use to describe Him are: the knowing, the wisdom, the prodding, the inspiration, the intuition, the discernment.

For me, the boldest indications of the Holy Spirit are when worship music seeps into my soul and chokes me up each time I sing. It’s the way I’m moved to tears when I speak of Jesus. It’s also the way ideas come to me when I pray for help. It’s the bond felt when two or more join in Jesus’ name.

The Holy Spirit provides us the strength, wisdom, and courage to spread the Good News without fear.

As a mostly left-brain thinker, my conceptual understanding of the Holy Spirit has deepened considerably. Now I just need to become more mindful of His work in my life, heed His nudging, and answer His call.  I’m determined to get there.

How do you describe the Holy Spirit? How do you recognize Him working in your life? Let me know in the comments!

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Stop Trying to Fix It |Grow Your Faith Series

Are you a Type A Personality who tries to fix everything and everyone? Check out three easy Christian tips to stop trying to control what we never had the power to control anyway.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

Are you the one who tries to fix everything and everyone? So was I.

What I used to think was one of my greatest strengths was probably a detrimental weakness. I was Mrs. Fix-It. Finding the solution to everyone’s problems and taking on the emotional burden of loved one’s issues.

Maybe that’s you, too. I get it. You’re a concerned parent, a devoted friend, a loving spouse. So am I.

But not only is that Fix-It role a physically and emotionally draining one to take, it doesn’t accomplish much. Friends or family members either made changes in their lives or they didn’t. They survived their challenges with or without my input.

But beyond all that, I’ve finally realized God’s not asking us to fix everything!

But if my definition of what it means to carry each other’s burdens has been wrong all along, then what does it really mean? I think it boils down to three simple actions.

1. Pray

Maybe the simplest and most effective way we can help carry other’s burdens is to turn to the Supreme Burden Healer. God has the power and ability to lessen our loved one’s burdens, to fill them with the peace of the Holy Spirit, to guide them out of the fire, to soothe their hurts and calm their fears.

Pray for The Healer to heal. Pray within the silence of your soul, but maybe even pray aloud with your loved one. Praying aloud is something I’ve never been comfortable to do, but when people pray aloud with me, I always enjoy and appreciate the fellowship and peace it brings me.

Prayer is simple and powerful.

2. Listen

Us Fix-It types formulate the “fix” while we really need to listen. Listening goes beyond hearing the words. Listening requires truly absorbing the message and feeling the emotions. Empathizing.

One of the most frustrating experiences I have is when I don’t feel I’m being listened to – I describe it as feeling invisible. If you’ve chosen to carry your loved one’s burden, make sure you’re not making him or her feel invisible. The simple act of listening without judgement or interruption and showing you’re an active listener can lift their burden more than all the “Fixing” you can muster.

3. Be a Friend

Wallow with your loved one. Lament. Brainstorm. Cry. Hug.

Then get back to living. Move beyond the hurt and pain.

Feel the joy in the world again. Go shopping. Go to lunch. Have a fun outing doing what you enjoy – the casino, antiquing, thrifting, volunteering, the beach, a movie, theatre, or fancy dinner.

Get out and enjoy the beauty of fellowship. Pull your loved one out from within their own head and leave the drama or sorrow behind.

Let Go and Let God

We’ve all heard the term, “Let Go and Let God.” When it comes to carrying each other’s burdens, we need to take heed. It’s all beyond our control, so stop trying to control it.

These three simple techniques will be more effective and less taxing than all the worthless “fixing” you’ve been trying to do all along.

Are you the Fix-It type? Tell me more in the comments.

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Are you the one who tries to fix everything and everyone? So was I. Check out these three easy ways to stop trying to control what we never had the power to control in the first place. Tips for Christian living for Type A personalities.

Lead us not into Temptation

When we cave to temptations, we put barriers between us and God. But what form do temptations take? Is it always the big things? Let’s get back to basics by using the Ten Commandments. They provide a key roadmap to God.

How many times do we pray the “Our Father” and really take to heart the temptations that bombard us in our daily lives?

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.

Matthew 6:9-13 (RSV-2CE)

I’d personally lulled myself into a false sense of security and tended to think about temptation as the “big stuff”. I hadn’t murdered anyone, I didn’t have sex outside of my marriage, and I wasn’t a drug addict, so I was good, right?

Well, I recently had a wake-up call that knocked me right back to the reality that we’re barraged with temptations daily. Evil forces beckon us, disguised as sweet indulgences or innocent transgressions.

Upon further consideration of temptations that affect many of us, a long list of possibilities came to mind. So if we step back to the 10 Commandments, we find our roadmap for leading a life pleasing to God. It’s there that we can consider the potential temptations that can hinder us from pleasing Him. So, what temptations may be we overlooking?

The Commandments

And God spoke all these words:
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before[a] me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Exodus 20: 2-6 NIV

This one seems like a no-brainer to a Christian, right? There is one God, the Trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No Christian would dispute that (I hope).

But, in my Catholic denomination, we are known for our saints and love of the blessed Mother, Mary. I’d always poo-pooed that praying the Hail Mary was considering Mary a god. I knew she wasn’t, neither are any of the saints. Wouldn’t Jesus be happy that we honored his blessed mother? I thought of these people as my heavenly family, mother and brothers and sisters – not as gods. And even though I still don’t think of them as gods, I can see that time spent in prayerful dialogue with any of them is time I’m not spending with Jesus himself.

I sometimes thought that things I’d ask for on a daily basis were too trivial to “bother” Jesus with. He was busy handling the big stuff and all I needed was someone to watch over us while we travelled, for example. But after more consideration, I can understand why God would be upset that we’re not coming to Him with all our needs. He can handle it all.

The same can be said of my deceased friends and relatives. Why would I ask my deceased father to comfort my mother when that’s what Jesus does? Why not pray that the souls of my loved ones are accepted into heaven and then let them rest peacefully there? Jesus can handle all the rest of my needs.

Let all your heavenly focus be devoted to God and give Him all the glory that He’s due.

7 “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.

Exodus 20:7 NIV

Certainly when my temper flares and the name of Jesus pops out in a puff of frustration or anger, that’s not a big deal, right? Jesus knows I love Him and don’t mean it as disrespectful. I ask for forgiveness. Won’t He forgive my little outbursts?

Yes, but no.

I don’t know why taking the Lord’s name in vain is a common way to blow off anger or aggression, but if we’re serious about our relationship with God, we need another way. Substituting other phrases might be a start, but how about diffusing your temper to begin with? How about working on not flying off the handle? What are your triggers and how can you catch yourself before you get to that point? Figuring that out and making the adjustment to your daily actions will not only please God because you aren’t misusing His name, but you’ll be more likely to honor Him in many more ways once you ditch all that anger and frustration.

8 “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

Exodus 20:8-11

Wow, our society has derailed on this one… Do we take any dedicated ‘holy time’ seriously? I go to church (usually), doesn’t that count? It’s one good step, assuming I’m participating with my whole heart and mind and taking the message to heart. But God is asking us to keep a Sabbath day holy, without working. How do you do that? I know I personally look forward to the weekends to get a lot of work done. But that’s not what God’s asking of me. He asked me to keep one day holy and not work.

Keeping a day holy requires an entirely new mindset for many of us. It can involve quality time with family and loved ones or prayerful consideration of our blessings and how we’re being called to serve. Maybe we volunteer for causes that help the unfortunate or get involved in religious outreach programs. Find ways that bring you closer to God and show Him the honor He deserves. Find ways to not work, as we’ve been instructed. Make it a concerted day to honor God.

12 “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

Exodus 20:12

What does honor mean? In essence: respect. As adults, it doesn’t seem as significant about honoring our parents as it did when we were children. Most of us probably do honor them, for the most part, but how does temptation lead us astray? If we don’t make a concerted effort to stay in touch, it’s easy to fall into a pattern of silence. How long has it been since we’ve been in contact with our parents? Yeah, they’re busy and we’re busy, but is that really a good excuse? Do we respect them in terms of them being the elders and granting them the courtesy of being the first one to reach out or helping during their struggles?

What about when our parents have abused us, were absent, or otherwise terrible parents? Honoring them would certainly mean not dragging their names through the dirt and publicizing horrors on social media. Honoring them could mean praying for them. Honoring them would be forgiving them (not to be confused with tolerating continued abuse). Even without a relationship with our parents, we can still find it possible to honor them.

13 “You shall not murder.

Exodus 20:13

I hope this one goes without saying that we shall not kill people, but temptation can lead us to abuse children and animals. We need to beware of this slippery slope, too.

For most of us, the most frequent association for this command is in regards to abortion. As Christians, our stand is pro-life, but as long as abortion is legally available, it’s a choice women are able to make. How do you take a stand against it? Temptation tells us to take the easy route and to look the other way because it doesn’t impact you. Temptation tells us not to vote against it because it’s too controversial. Temptation tells you to avoid talking to your pre-teen girls and boys about pre-marital sex, to avoid teaching your boys to respect girls and teaching your girls to respect themselves and learn to say “no.” Don’t let temptation make you complacent.

14 “You shall not commit adultery.

Exodus 20:14

I don’t have sex outside my marriage so I always assumed I was good with this one. But the daily temptations of sexuality can sneak up and bite us when we’re not expecting it. Fantasizing about anyone other than your spouse can be considered adultery. Flirting outside of your marriage. Viewing pornography or even sexualizing the woman walking down the street or the hot guy at the bar are grounds for adultery. Keep sexuality in its place, or the temptations can quickly become out of control.

15 “You shall not steal.

Exodus 20:15

Yeah, you don’t go into a store and steal things. Most of us have that covered. But what about the smaller temptations? What about being completely honest about your charitable donations and total income on your income taxes? What about taking the office supplies from your job home? What about adding a few extra minutes to your timecard? What about padding your disability claim? There are many acts that constitute stealing in our daily life. How are you avoiding the traps?

16 “You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.

Exodus 20:16

Ah, lying. Not telling lies about your neighbor is a relatively easy one for most of us. Most of us aren’t fabricating and publicizing false stories about people. But what about gossiping? Especially since we can never know all the facts of someone else’s story. What about telling “little white lies” to get attention or to get yourself out of a sticky situation? There are plenty of daily temptations that might make us lie. When we don’t want to tell our husband about our latest shoe purchases or we don’t want to tell our wife we stopped off at the bar after work. Little white lies are lies. Lying is one temptation that is prone to spin out of control.

17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”

Exodus 20:17

You can’t wish for things that aren’t yours… This one is brimming with temptation! How many times do we fantasize about winning the lottery and how we’d spend the money? How many times to we envy the celebrity lifestyle or even our neighbors who have a larger home or “perfect” children? What about when we can’t have children and our friend gets pregnant or when we’re laid off from our job but our co-worker wasn’t? There are almost endless temptations here.

The key to pleasing God is keeping focus on your own life, not comparing to everyone else. This is one of the serious downsides of social media. The happy front that people show in their posts and tweets make it seem like everyone but you is living a charmed life. But it’s just not the case. Learn to see your own life objectively and realize you have many blessings of your own that other people wish they had.

Look to God!

Life is full of temptation. Keep your focus on strengthening your relationship with God until nothing else matters except the bond between you and God. There is nothing earthly that can surpass the value of that spiritual bond.

What temptations do you find the most difficult to avoid?

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When we cave to temptations, we put barriers between us and God. But what form do temptations take? Is it always the big things? Let’s get back to basics by using the Ten Commandments. They provide a key roadmap to God.

God is the only judge

Do you find yourself judging others? This gentle reminder will get you back on track. Let God be the judge.

We are familiar with God’s Righteous Judgment:

You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else, for at whatever point you judge another, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgment do the same things. Now we know that God’s judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere human being, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God’s judgment?

Romans 2: 1-3 (NIV)

One major human fault is a rush to judgement. Nowhere is this vice more prevalent than in today’s wacky world of social media, where all social filters are “off” and where anything seems to go. Decorum and common courtesy seemed to fly out the window with the advent of thumb typing.

I’m appalled at the name calling and judgmental attitudes I see in religious, political, and even benign posts.

Why do people do this?

When people are passionate about a topic, they want their point of view to be understood. For me, when someone’s opinion is completely opposite mine, I assume they don’t understand the full ramifications of the stand they’ve chosen because they certainly wouldn’t take that stand if they understood the whole picture. Right?

Well, who am I to judge? What if I’m the one not understanding the whole picture?

The fact is, none of us see the full picture and God has designed life that way.

Instead, He calls us to trust and follow Him. But most importantly, He’s asked us to Love One Another.

If we’re committed to loving one another, then by definition, we must not judge one another. We must let God be the judge. Remember the adulteress?

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.
But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

John 8: 3-7 (NIV)

If we keep our eyes focused in the mirror instead of casting stones at people all around us, we can enjoy the benefits of growing our relationship with the Lord and allowing Him to be the judge.

If we look at ourselves honestly and acknowledge our own sinfulness, we see that our time is best spent tidying up our own messes. Righting our own wrongs. Changing our own errant ways.

Let’s focus on keeping our own houses in order. Use our precious time here on earth to bring us closer to God, preparing for eternity in heaven.

God has the rest covered.


Do you find yourself judging others? Let me know in the comments.

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Do you find yourself judging others? This gentle reminder will get you back on track. Let God be the judge.

What’s wrong with Little White Lies?

Little White Lies aren’t so bad, right? Many people even justify that they’re okay and actually kind. But they’re not okay or kind. How do we stop?

We all know that lying is wrong. It goes against our Christian values and violates the moral code.

But for some reason, we’ve created a subcategory called “Little White Lies” and deemed those types of lies to be acceptable. After all, they don’t hurt anyone, right?

Many people even justify to themselves why they’re okay and actually kind.

But they’re neither okay nor kind. So, why do we do it?

We seem to tell Little White Lies for a couple of main reasons.

We don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings.

One of the excuses we use for telling little white lies is that we don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings. We feel we’re being more kind to lie.

“Do you like this outfit?” your friend might ask. “Absolutely!” you say, not meaning it, but knowing she loves it.

What’s wrong with that? She’s happy and it doesn’t make any difference to you.

Another excuse we use for telling lies is:

We don’t want to own up to our actions.

“Did you pay the electric bill yet?” your spouse might ask. “Yes,” you say, intending to do it later and not wanting an argument because you were supposed to do it two days ago.

Whatever our justification for our little fibs, we’re fooling ourselves.

Do you like liars?

The first issue with little white lies is simply a practical matter. Do you want friends and loved ones who lie to you? If you know a friend tells ‘small’ lies, can you trust they won’t tell you big lies? How can you trust someone who lies?

If you have a habit of telling little white lies, your close friends and family know it. They know your answers are untrustworthy. Do you really want to be known as untrustworthy?

God knows what’s in your heart.

The second issue is a bigger and more important matter. God knows what’s in your heart. You might be able to fool your family and friends. You can even try fooling yourself. But there’s no fooling God. There’s no hiding from the truth of what’s in your heart.

Every lie places a brick between you and Jesus. The lies stack up, creating a wall that separates you.

How to do it differently:

Stop putting barriers between you and God. There’s a simple shift of mindset you can make to change your habits immediately that will restore your relationship with God and show your loved ones, over time, that what you say is true.

You don’t want to hurt their feelings.

If you lie because you don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings, switch your mindset to “Kind and True” instead. Any answer can be true and yet kind.

So when your friend asks you if you like her outfit that she just bought, a TRUE answer might be “No, I don’t like the color or the style.” A KIND answer might be the lie you would have told – “Absolutely!” But a kind AND true answer could be, “It fits you perfectly,” or “It’s SO you!” or “You look so sassy in it!”

If you’re shopping with her and she’s deciding between outfits, you might say, “This one isn’t my favorite,” or “The other one looks better on you,” or “Why don’t we keep looking?”

If your reason for lying is not wanting to hurt someone’s feelings, that’s a cop out. There’s always a way to be kind and true.

You don’t want to ‘own’ your actions.

The more challenging reason for telling little white lies is not wanting to own up to your “stuff” or not wanting to divulge unflattering information.

I’m a firm believer in “owning it.” If you didn’t pay the electric bill when you said you’d pay it two days ago, own it. Say, “I’m sorry, I’ll do it right now,” and actually DO it. If you do what you say you’ll do, you’ll find fewer excuses to lie.

If you screwed up, own it. If you ran into the pole in the parking lot, don’t tell your spouse someone hit the parked car.

It gets easier with time.

When you take ownership of your words and actions, you’ll automatically find yourself doing the right thing more often – you’ll make a habit of doing what you said you’d do and being honest. You’ll find fewer reasons for lying.

When you reach that point and God looks into your pure heart, He’ll be pleased. Make the change today. God is waiting.

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Little White Lies aren’t so bad, right? Many people even justify that they’re okay and actually kind. But they’re not okay or kind. How do we stop?

Here I am, Lord

Are you waiting for God to reveal His plan for your life? He's already spoken to you. Are you ready to heed His instruction?

My favorite way to pray is through song. For some reason, the combination of music and lyrics often brings me to the verge of tears as the words seem to flutter into my soul.

One such tearjerker is by Dan Schutte. ‘Here I am, Lord’ has been a favorite since childhood.

Over the past several years as I’ve been trying to discern God’s will, this song has even more significance for me.

Will we say, “Here I am, Lord”? When He calls, will we say “Yes”?

Most of us aren’t ministers, theologians, or missionaries. Most of us will serve God in ordinary and everyday ways.

Sometimes that doesn’t seem to be enough for me, I want to have a ‘bigger’ purpose, but until I understand what that might be, I will be the hands of God as best I can, in my ordinary life.

How do we fulfill God’s will by serving people in our daily life?


I wish God used a megaphone. I can barely hear Him whispering.

I want to hear His personalized message for living my life, like a heavenly life coach. I try to wait for His timing and listen to His guidance, but it never feels like enough. I want to know more. To hear more. To understand His will for me.

I finally realized that He does use a megaphone. He spoke to the prophets and through His apostles and we have His message in black and white. The bible is God speaking to us, timelessly. Loudly. With a megaphone.

Jesus boiled it all down into a message that our human minds can understand.

And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

That’s pretty straightforward, right?

So, our mission is one tiny verb of gigantic impact.


A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.

John 13:34 (NIV)

It sounds very simple, but is it really?

Of course we love our family members and our friends. Those are generally the easy people to love, but do we truly ACT loving?

How often do we speak harshly and impatiently to those we love?

How often do we help one another without being asked?

How often do we spend quality time, really getting to know each other?

How attentive to our loved ones needs are we?

How often do we make our loved ones a priority?

How often do we judge and hold grudges?

Sometimes we fall short, even with our loved ones. I know I do.  If we think that this is God’s number one plan for us, most of us could probably do better.

‘I will go, Lord. If you lead me.’

Have patience if you want a higher purpose and haven’t discovered it yet. God’s plan is perfect, so trust in that. You’ll know when He’s asking for more. Let Him lead you. In the meantime, serve Him by loving until He asks for more.

Start in your home

Before we start wondering whether we’re being called to become a missionary in Uganda, focus on serving Him by loving those around us.

My own reflection led to an opportunity for me to show more love to my loved ones. My sister’s faced with a husband falling into the abyss of Alzheimer’s. I feel terribly for her and pray for them, but is it enough? I don’t live locally so I can’t support her in a physical way, and she’s so busy between work and caring for husband, that I haven’t found a way to stay in touch and let her know I care.

But I’ve let those excuses get in the way. I’ve let the difficultly of the situation defeat me from supporting my sister. But the excuses I’ve given myself are really a cop out. Couldn’t an email or text saying I’m thinking about you and praying for you or Let me know if you need to talk be easy ways to reach out?

There are many simple ways to show more love to our loved ones. How could you do more?

Beyond our family and friends?

Jesus made that very clear also:

For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?  When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

Matthew 25:35-40 (NIV)

How are we showing kindness and compassion? How are we helping those in need?

We have endless opportunities to help people within our neighborhood and all over the world.

Help doesn’t always have to be financial. Help can be cooking a meal for a family with a sick member, or taking an elderly neighbor to her doctor appointment, bringing used funeral flower arrangements to a children’s hospital, or donating your used clothes.

Look outside yourself and you’ll see life brimming with opportunities to serve the Lord by caring for others.

If you can make a financial contribution, donate to reputable organizations and causes you know are legitimate. A guide you can use in regards to organizational donations is charitynavigator.org. The site rates sizable charitable organizations by the percentage of donations that are used for the cause rather than lining pockets of administrators. The sad reality is that not all organizations and charities are legitimate or handle finances well, so be prudent in your choices.


In all cases, pray.

Pray for discernment to hear and follow God’s plan for you.

Pray for those who are struggling and suffering.

Pray for those who need to find Jesus the most.

Pray for the souls of the departed.

When in doubt, LOVE.

By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:35 (NIV)

Be an example of Jesus’ love for us by loving one another. Yes, the ones who’ve wronged us, the ones who don’t look like us, the ones with different religious beliefs, and the ones who push our love away.

Love even when it’s hard.

Remember that Jesus expressed love for his tormentors while they were crucifying Him!

Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

Luke 23:34 (NIV)

Your way to serve the Lord is to follow the example of Jesus and LOVE. When you pray, “Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord?” His answer is always, Yes. Love one another as I have loved you and you will never go wrong.

I hope you enjoy this musical rendition.

How has God shown you His will for your life?

Let me know in the comments!

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Are you waiting for God to reveal His plan for your life? He's already spoken to you. Are you ready to heed His instruction?

A Conflicted Catholic

Organized religion can be a beautiful and powerful way to nurture faith in God. But what happens when human faults and failings destroy the very essence of the values and virtues the church is supposed to represent? Letter to the Catholic Church

As a Catholic who’s been sickened by the atrocities against children within my church, I’ve struggled with where the scandal leaves me as a life-long Catholic. It’s time to call my church to task, as I believe Jesus would ask me to do.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, whether you’re Catholic or not…

Dear Catholic Church,

I’m eternally grateful that, with the help of my family, you introduced me to God and cemented an unshakable belief in our heavenly Father, Jesus His son, and everlasting life.

My favorite part of Mass has always been the music that fills my soul as if I’m singing among a choir of heavenly angels. The Bible readings feed my faith and the sermons shape goals for my life. Within your walls, I felt safety and security and a sense of family and belonging, similar to how I felt during Sunday dinners at my Grandmother’s house. Within your walls, my heart was home.

And then stories about sexual abuse of children started popping up. My experience working at the church rectory as a teenager and what I witnessed within my childhood youth group told me with unquestionable certainty that the stories were true.

Then people said anyone who turns away from the church is a traitor. They said not to let the sins of a few bad priests shake your faith in the many good people. They said the sacraments were holy and independent of the fallible humans performing them. They said not to give up. To pray for the priests. To pray for the Church. They said my donations weren’t being used for legal fees to protect pedophiles. They said a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way.

I’ve spent the past several years in an internal struggle that I equate to dysfunction within a family, since the Catholic Church and its “Fathers” have been my extended family for decades. So, if my earthly father rapes me, should I be expected to maintain a relationship with him? If my earthly father doesn’t rape me, but rapes my siblings or my friends, should I defend him? Should I maintain a relationship with him just because he never raped me? If my mother knows that my father is raping me and does nothing to protect me, is she innocent? If she never reports my abuse and he moves in with another unsuspecting family and does the same thing to those children, does my mother bear no responsibility?

Because I was never abused by a priest, can I just turn the other way? What about my childhood friend who was abused by a Brother? Does my complacency minimize the pain he suffered?

It’s only a handful of bad apples, they say. No, not really. If statistically it’s 6% of priests who’ve abused children, yes, that’s not a huge percentage, but it equates to a large number of priests. And when priests are moved from one parish to another for their “indiscretions”, putting them directly in the path of more unsuspecting and trusting families, how can the pastors, bishops, and cardinals who are well aware of the rigged system not be held accountable? How can someone shun me as a traitor if I want justice served and the nightmare to end? Why am I the bad guy if I want a light shone in the dark corners of this horror show? Why aren’t we all screaming for justice?

Being Catholic today is a little like an addictive drug. It’s hard to break free from the lifelong association, from the organization that brought me the best part of life itself – faith in a loving God. It feels like having a doting earthly father who treated me to fun family vacations and showered me with love and attention, yet raped my brother.

Does 6% evil count as pure evil? If my brother seems to have gotten on with his life, does that mean I can turn a blind eye to the abuse?

People say, “Don’t let the sins of the church break your faith.” Rest assured, NOTHING can break my faith. My faith is not based on the Catholic Church or any church. My faith is in a loving and fair God. One who asks me to love above all else.

I love you, Catholic Church, but I cannot condone the actions of the sexual predators you have cultivated and protected for so many years. For the love of my brothers and sisters, I must speak out against your sins against them. I cannot be a complacent sister, shoving all the dirty laundry into a closet, just because it didn’t happen to me.

When your pedophiles start going to jail for their actions, I might begin to trust you again. When those responsible for shuffling the perpetrators from assignment to assignment are finally held to task, you might gain back a bit of my respect.

In the meantime, I come to your house to let your beautiful music lift my soul, to hear the words of Jesus, and to share a dedicated time of prayer with my parish community.

You have broken my heart and shredded my trust in you. The only thing that might repair it is if you finally choose to do the right thing for your people, and I pray you will.


Your conflicted daughter

Organized religion can be a beautiful and powerful way to nurture faith in God. But what happens when human faults and failings destroy the very essence of the values and virtues the church is supposed to represent? Letter to the Catholic Church

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