But one day as I thought, “Oh, this story again!” and rolled my eyes, something dawned on me, the lost sheep wasn’t necessarily lost for long! The lost sheep had probably just wandered to the other side of a bush or a rock were he thought the grass would be yummier and the shepherd merely lost sight of him. The shepherd would have had to be counting constantly to even realize that ONE sheep was missing from so many in the first place, and once he realized this he simply, but frantically, began to search the other side of all the bluffs, rocks and bushes nearby.  He wasn’t actually abandoning the other sheep, rather, just looking for the one who was lost… probably not even really leaving earshot of the sheep he left in the pasture. In fact, he could probably even see the sheep he left most of the time because he was taller than the rocks and bushes and bluffs he was searching behind. However, he was worried enough about the dangers outside of the safety of the herd that he had to rush to search, heart racing, blood pounding in his ears. When he finds the poor, curious, little guy the relief is so great that it is uncontainable. This is why He carries him on his shoulders rejoicing.

The terror and joy that the shepherd feels would be akin to the terror and subsequent joy I feel when my 3-year-old wanders to the other side of the clothes rack in the mall. Because I cannot see her I begin to practically hyperventilate, imagining every possible horror story come true in my life in an instant, calling out her name and searching frantically. When I find her, even if it has only been a few minutes that she was lost, the moment is burned into my memory forever. I cannot contain my relief and for a week I tell everyone how happy I am to have all my children after my recent “kidnapping scare”. Because this happened, does it mean that somehow I am a bad mother or even that the child is bad? No!

Any of the sheep could have wandered away in search of greener grass to munch on without even realizing that they were leaving the herd. You or I may not have some kind of incredible conversion story like Scott Hahn or Jeff Cavins or even like my ex-atheist husband but then those people weren’t ones who wandered away from the herd, rather, they were acquired into the herd later in life. We are the lost sheep! We are the ones that the Shepherd worries about, We are the ones who wander when we are not paying attention. This is a story of the sheep who are GOOD, not like the prodigal son, and God does worry about us. He counts us constantly to make sure we are still there and comes running after us the moment he realizes he can’t see us anymore.

He loves you even if your story isn’t that “impressive”.  Maybe you were “born in the herd”. Maybe you’ve never known anything else, never run away, never been really horrible and yet you’re the one that the Shepherd is worrying about. He loves you more than He can express and knows that if anything ever happened to you no amount of money or other compensation could ever replace you.

Do you believe it?

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Identity, Other Relationships, Relationship with God

Cultivating Meaningful Interior and Exterior Silence

“It seems only the old are able to sit next to one another and not say anything and still feel content. The young, brash and impatient, must always break the silence. It is a waste, for silence is pure. Silence is holy. It draws people together because only those who are comfortable with each other can sit without speaking.” – Nicholas Sparks, The Notebook

Despite the source, this quote can be life changing if taken to heart.

Discernment, Identity

Particularly Called… to an extraordinary life

There is a special plan for each and every one of us. We were created by love, for love. We were created for Paradise, for perfection, for greatness for fulfillment (see Longing).

But, this world falls short of what we were created for. We lose hope. We lose focus. We lose sight of our value and our purpose.

We need a reminder. We need to come back to what really matters. We need to remember that we are particularly called.

Discernment, Identity, Relationship with Children

The Capacity of a Heart…

I thought Tarcisius was going to be a dejavu child, a replica, an afterthought, a double take. After all, when he was born he looked indistinguishable from my others and his birthday is the same week as 2 of them. I thought that the fact that we didn’t travel during his pregnancy to pick out his name (like we have with all the others) would make him less special. I thought that somehow he was going to get lost in the busyness of 4 children. I thought that he would forever live in the shadow of my first boy who even daddy is jealous of most of the time. I thought I wouldn’t have enough love to go around and that I wouldn’t be a good enough mom once I was stretched this thin… but I was wrong.

Relationship with God

9 practical steps to a deeper relationship with God 

We hear so often that we need to build a deeper relationship with God, that we should love Him with all our mind, all our heart and all our strength (Lk 10:27). But, it can seem, if you have never experienced it before, that a “deeper relationship with God” is a nebulous concept.

Identity, Relationship with Children, Relationship with God, Seasonal

In the Face of the Cross… A reflection on Psalm 22

Last week I was told to reflect on Psalm 22. I had been crying to my friend about the trials of bedtime with 4 littles and a tired mommy especially when daddy isn’t there to help…. and my prayer was a beautiful experience, not just, I think, for mothers but for anyone trying to live out any vocation or, simply, a truly Christian life.

The Psalm is meant to be a foreshadowing of Christ’s sufferings at Calvary and the biggest shock I had was how much I related to it – how we all can relate – how much it felt like the Psalmist was describing my own life at that moment (minus the melodramatic psalmist vocabulary choices – or maybe with them – I’ll let you decide – haha).

Seasonal, The Human Struggle

When Your Lent Feels Like a Desert…

Does Lent feel like a season for frustration and irritation?  A time of complaining about all our discomforts, voluntary or otherwise? Do your good intentions feel somehow unappreciated or worthless? Does your extra prayer or acts of service seem empty, aimless or uncertain? If so, you might be focusing on the wrong thing this Lent…

Seasonal, The Human Struggle

Finding peace in our crosses

In a homily in Assisi where Pope Francis reflected on why he chose his papal name, the Holy Father pointed out that  the peace of Christ is born from the love of the Cross. Every human being has a cross. For some it may be their physical health or that of loved ones, for some it may be more related to financial or emotional well being. For some it may be combinations of all of the above. The point is, we all have crosses and we all suffer. Our tendency is to want to run from that which causes us pain, to escape it, to avoid it.

But, I challenge you, not this Lent.

Relationship with God, Seasonal, The Human Struggle

What Your Lent should REALLY be about!

What is Lent all about?  Why do we have this season anyway? Is it about giving up candy, Netflix, Facebook and meat? Why all the focus on “sacrifice”? Why do we fast? How do we decide what to “give up”? Why do we pray? How do we pray? Why do we spend this time focusing on filling food banks and upping our tithe?  Is it just a good time of year to make us feel guilty about everyone less fortunate? Just a good time of year to make us feel guilty about being fortunate? a time of year to make us feel guilty about what we give up or don’t give up? about whether we meet or don’t meet our resolutions?

If we don’t experience the extreme levels of guilt often characteristic of this Season we might find ourselves experiencing other “non-lenten” emotions such as apathy or resistance. “I’m a good person, why should I have to do anything different”? or “I hate lent because I just can’t deal without my daily Starbucks” It is true that Lent encourages us to make sacrifices, to die to ourselves like Christ, to give more, to work harder, to move outside our comfort zone…. but the purpose often gets lost in the details. Let’s get back to what really matters!