The F.U.N. Quotient… amazing astronomy, or that’s a God thing…

The F.U.N. Quotient… amazing astronomy, or that’s a God thing…

When I was kid I had a telescope and would go out in the backyard and look at the craters of the moon. It was the Space Age and many from my generation dreamed about working for NASA:  I was one of those children whose 1969 summer was punctuated by Neil Armstrong’s historic moon walk.

I’ve been a fan of God’s Creation ever since, so when friends on Facebook started sharing the NASA Astronomy Photo of the Day, I just got lost for a while. I want to own a photo of the Helix Nebula, the “eye” you see at the top of the page. Popular culture has nicknamed it “the Eye of God” and it fits, if you ask me. Not that we ever confuse God with His Creation. But it is interesting that this object is very close to the earth — 700 light years away.

Other amazing photographs:

The Butterfly Nebula

The Crab Nebula (And the video measuring its expansion over time.)

Aurora over Acadia National Park in Maine.

The Milky Way over Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming

Supernova

Ultradeep Field – in which galaxies look like “colorful pieces of candy”.  

Finally, on a completely different note:  the sounds of space. 

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Banner: Image credit: C. R. O’Dell, (Vanderbilt) et al. ESANOAONASA

Review: “The Grace of Yes” by Lisa Hendey is about Answering God’s Action in Our Lives

Review: “The Grace of Yes” by Lisa Hendey is about Answering God’s Action in Our Lives

9781594714726v2.jpg.232xLisa Hendey has a lot to say about the Good Stuff — the sunny side of life — about God, graces, and generous living. Yet it does not come from Thinking Positive or a Pollyanna’s World View. No, this goodness flows from a life of gratitude lived in touch with her core Catholic belief in blessings — the graces that God gives her. And that’s the implicit challenge of the The Grace of Yes… Are you ready to honestly examine God’s divine action in your life — his graces — and respond in a way that he can use you for his glory — his will?

Longtime readers might know Lisa Hendey as the friendly Californian CatholicMom.com founder, an A-list conference speaker, a best-selling author, and a gracious media maven. She always writes with warmth and kindness, and a girl-next-door thoughtfulness. The truth is, when you read The Grace of Yes, you still come away away with that impression. She really is nice and friendly and thoughtful and generous, and yet, in this new book, she is vulnerable enough to let us see what really makes her tick. Long before Hendey became a recognizable face and name in Catholic new evangelization circles, she was a woman who simply chose to take small steps, sometimes haltingly and sometimes boldly, toward God and his goodness.

Lisa Hendey has encountered God’s blessings and gifts, and opened them for herself. They have, in turn, opened her to become a more generous and self-emptying person. She allows her life story to be Exhibit A in showing us what it looks like to be slowly re-created by God’s grace… to give God permission to write the script for our lives.

Everybody has a story about God’s movement in their lives. Yet few of us have the sensitivity to see it and the courage to test and examine it and, then, choose to live it. We’re really good at offering God partial yeses, or maybes, or could-I-get-back-to-you-on-that-God? We may have head knowledge about God, but we fear moving beyond to heart knowledge. One part memoir, and one part a come-and-try-this-for-yourself book of virtues, Hendey shows us where she has found the heart knowledge. She describes the ups and downs and zigzags of her own growth in virtue as an adult, from yuppiedom to motherhood, from web mistress to media missionary, from comfortable suburban dwelling to walking the blood-soaked hills of post-genocide Rwanda.

Hendey’s book offers this keen metaphor from St Augustine: the higher your structure is to be, the deeper must be its foundation. This rootedness in God — this needed depth — is an on-going thread in Hendey’s writing. Each chapter unpacks how she choose to go deeper with God during the rough and the smooth. The Grace of Yes chronicles where Hendey’s yeses to God have brought her thus far, and it reveals her findings: it is a net gain when we err on the side of generosity. That means giving God priority. This is especially true when it comes to the challenge of doing new things, rather than shrinking back in fear.

The Grace of Yes examines “Eight Virtues for Generous Living”: Belief, Generativity, Creativity, Integrity, Humility, Vulnerabililty, “No”, and Rebirth. Each chapter offers personal reflections in Hendey’s on-going conversion, as well as real life examples from people she knows and people in the news. Thoughtful study questions and prayers at the close of each chapter deepen the book’s message.

Hendey’s thesis for a generous life asks us to be generous with God first, by responding to God’s actions with “Your will, my yes.”

Ultimately, this is the reply that every believer is invited to make — to choose to live a life in God and with God and through God… whether you are a celebrity author on the speaking circuit, or the gal or guy next door. Fortunately, there’s grace in abundance for any heart willing to make that leap of faith.

 

 

 

This makes me think… about heaven in this month of holy souls…

There

by Mary Coleridge

There, in that other world, what waits for me?
What shall I find after that other birth?
No stormy, tossing, foaming, smiling sea,
But a new earth.

No sun to mark the changing of the days,
No slow, soft falling of the alternate night,
No moon, no star, no light upon my ways,
Only the Light.

No gray cathedral, wide and wondrous fair,
That I may tread where all my fathers trod,
Nay, nay, my soul, no house of God is there,
But only God.

This makes me think… about prayer as first action…

“[P]rayer is in many ways the criterion of Christian life. Prayer requires that we stand in God’s presence… proclaiming to ourselves and to others that without God we can do nothing. This is difficult in a climate where the predominate counsel is “Do your best and God will do the rest.” When life is divided into “our best” and “God’s rest,” we have turned to prayer as a last resort to be used only when all our own resources are depleted. Then even the Lord has become the victim of our impatience. Discipleship does not mean to use God when we no longer function ourselves. On the contrary, it means to recognize that we can do nothing at all, but that God can do everything through us. As disciples, we find not some but all of our strength, hope, courage, and confidence in God. Therefore, prayer must be our first concern.”

-Henri Nouwen-
Seeds of Hope

Among Women 183: Falling in love with the Trinity — and the feminine genius

Among Women 183: Falling in love with the Trinity — and the feminine genius

This latest episode of Among Women features the faith story of Nan Balfour, whose love and faith in God led her to knowing her feminine genius .

Speaker_BalfourTogether we explore the gift of faith and what it means to fall in love with God, and how it changes the way we love and live. Nan Balfour shares pivotal conversion moments in her life — a life of on-going conversion — and how they led her to what she does now. Nan is a leader with the Pilgrim Center of Hope, and the conference coordinator for the Catholic Women’s Conference in San Antonio coming up Sept 19-20.

In our “Blessed are They” segment, we pray along with Blessed Elizabeth of the Trinity — whose faith was wrapped up in love of the Holy Trinity.

Don’t miss this episode, and share it with your friends on social media, and put an announcement in your church bulletin for Among Women.

Don’t forget to like Among Women Podcast on Facebook, and leave a positive rating and a review on our iTunes page. Thanks!

For details on upcoming conferences and retreats with me, Pat Gohn, go here. 

 

This makes me think… about what it takes to know and embrace God…

Grant me, O Lord,
an ever-watchful heart that no alien thought can lure away from you;
a noble heart that no base love can sully;
an upright heart that no perverse intention
can lead astray;
an invincible heart that no distress can overcome;
an unfettered heart that no impetuous desires can enchain.

Grant me, O Lord my God,
a mind to know you,
a heart to seek you,
wisdom to find you,
conduct pleasing to you,
faithful perseverance in waiting for you,
and a hope of finally embracing you.

Amen.

-St Thomas Aquinas-

Catholic Photo Challenge # 2: Darkness and Light and a writer’s prayer

Last year, on a date with my husband, we lingered in an antiques shop, where I found this blast from my past. I snapped the photo with my iPhone4s.

photo

As a young child, I loved tapping out words on our family’s ribbon typewriter. Often our first loves as children translate somehow into our adult loves. I think that’s why I was drawn to take a photo of this typewriter. As a writer today, in this avocation and apostolate of writing for the Lord in the Catholic sphere of publishing and new media, I work daily with an electronic keyboard. Yet my delight never wavers to see new words appear on paper, or on a screen.

This new Catholic Photo Challenge considers darkness and light as captured in Isaiah 9: 1:  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; Upon those who lived in a land of gloom a light has shone.” 

The darkness and light — the black and white of the machine and the letter keys — stands out for me as a writer. It reminds me of the joy and the responsibility of writing within this sphere of Catholic life. Ever present in my work are the silent rhetorical evaluations: are my words bringing light to darkness, joy to gloom, direction to seekers?

It is a work that is both humbling and awesome.

One of my favorite books of the bible (I have several) is 1 John. The opening sentences of that letter allude to the profound joy in meeting and knowing Jesus. And the author offers this declaration of his letter’s intent, a kind of definition of writing.

We are writing this so that our joy may be complete. (1John 1: 4)

John’s phrase could easily capture my own reasons for writing. I write for the joy of the writing, sure enough, but I write that my deepest joy, my faith and life in Christ, might be seen and realized in what I say and do. In many ways, when I get to write about my own faith experiences, it wraps a proverbial bow around the gift of faith, making it complete. But in truth, the catechism teaches that faith is not complete until it finds itself in love’s action. Faith is not real faith until it is given away by words and deeds.

The apostles were compelled to share the faith, the message of the Jesus Christ. The message was “gospel” or “good news”. Indeed , their words and their witness brought light to darkness — as they shared about the fulfillment that is found in Jesus Christ, who is the object of all the longing capture in the prophet’s heart in Isaiah 9: 1!

In his very next sentence, John makes his meaning plain, revealing the echo of Isaiah and the prayer of his own writerly heart…

Now this is the message that we have heard from him and proclaim to you: God is light, and in him there is no darkness at all. (1John 1: 5.)

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Add your photos and commentary to the Catholic Photo Challenge at Everything Esteban. 

Catholic Photo Challenge #1: Seeing God in the Works of Creation

Catholic Photo Challenge #1: Seeing God in the Works of Creation

Last week I posted a rather lengthy reflection with several photographs I took in our yard. I tagged my pals Steve Nelson of Everything Estaban, and  Maria Johnson at Another Cup of Coffee about it on Facebook because they are both camera geeks.

Since then, Steve has announced a link up using photography and Catholic themes: aka the Catholic Photo Challenge. I don’t know if I can participate every week, but I’ve got one below. Here’s the gist of the challenge if you wish to participate:

1. Create a post on your blog with the photo that represents your interpretation of the current Catholic Photo Challenge.

2. Click on the button at Steve’s blog that says “Add your link”, for example, the one on this page at Everything Estaban for week #1.

3. Paste the URL to your specific post with the photo, not the main URL of your blog.

4.  Include a link back to here in your post.

5.  Come back to this page and see what others have posted.

Questions?  Email photo@everythingesteban.com

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Theme: Seeing God in the Works of Nature

IMG_2634

You’re looking at the petals of our flowering pear tree. This is an iPhone4 zoom into a single blossom. I love that you can notice the pollen and the delicate veins of each petal. You can almost feel the life of that flower as you observe the dew drops on it.

God sees us this way — up close and detailed. Intimate. He sees into us, the stuff that’s below the surface… where the real drops of life reside. Yet, we are part of beautiful whole of creation. We might be tempted to think that we might be overlooked when you imagine us amid all the other blossoms out there… like this wider shot of the pear tree:

And the flowering pear at a distance...

And the flowering pear at a distance…

But no. We are not lost. We are not overlooked. We are unique, just as the blossom’s position and veins and hairs make that it unique. God loves us and knows us intimately. He breathes life into every thing he has made, from least to greatest. From majesty of the steadfast mountains and fathomed oceans and the vast cosmos… to the littlest blossom that  lives for just a few weeks and then falls to earth. It is His delight.

 Consider the lilies, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
But if God so clothes the grass which is alive in the field today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you…

-Luke 12: 27-28-