Thursday, October 24, 2013

"You Suck!"

I'm tucked safely in my bed on the 46th of 47 floors at a fancy hotel in Seattle.  But, earlier today I was sitting on an airplane in Portland, OR waiting to refuel after a failed landing attempt in the incredibly dense Seattle fog.  Prior to that, we sat on the tarmac in Dallas for two hours waiting for a hydrolic-pump-overheating-issue to be resolved.  

So, after our failed attempt to land, and an uncomfortable while, the pilot finally came on to tell us what happened and what the plan was (to fly to the next city to refuel, because we didn't have enough fuel to circle back around).  

Somebody seated a couple of seats behind me in the back of the plane yelled "You Suck!" to the pilot in the cockpit, a plane length and one room away. 

The sweet lady sitting next to me joked about how we were going to be compensated for the delay.  Drinks? Pretzels?  Better chairs?

I was personally feeling very grateful and pretty sure that the pilot did what he had to do to keep us safe.  I'm fairly confident that a four hour delay impacted his schedule the same as ours.

All of this drama got me to thinking about God and the crap we give Him.  All He wants is for us to land safely (in Heaven). That is the most important thing.  That is the only thing.  

In order to save us, sometimes our plan has to be changed.  We have to be "up in the air", longer than we planned.  Or waiting, longer than we planned.  Or whatever, longer than we planned.  We have to suffer a little inconvenience for the sake of eternity.  And yes, it is little.  Everything is, compared with eternity.

The "You Suck!" admonition came loud and clear.  It wasn't his anger that surprised me, but his total lack of gratitude.  

And that's what makes or breaks us, forever.  We have been given the gift of eternal life, through Jesus Christ, if we choose to accept it.  It is impossible to accept this gift with ingratitude, because ingratitude toward the Giver is a rejection of the gift.  If, in the end, we refuse The Gift and say "You Suck!" instead of "Thank You!", we must accept what we have chosen instead.

Thank you, God, for arriving safely in Seattle today.  Thank you for our pilot and guardian angels who rarely get credit for their work.  Please give me the grace to never reject the gift You've given in Your Son, even for a moment.  Thank you for the little reminder about gratitude and the paramount importance it should have in the life of a Christian.  Please bless the "You Suck!" guy.  He needs an extra dose of Your Love and Gratitude, as we all do.  I offer this post (and the effort it took to type this blog with my index finger on my phone) for his conversion.  Thank you for my friend who is treating me to this adventurous weekend, and for my husband who agreed to it.  Please bless this weekend, my family, and all who read what has been written here.  Amen.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Craving Change and Loathing Transition

Human beings don't like change.  Right?  Wrong, according to Patrick Lencioni, business consultant and author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team.  According to Patrick, human beings crave change, but we don't like transitioning

After watching a video by Patrick Lencioni about transition management, based on Bill Bridges' work, I want to share what I've learned.  I really feel like knowing what the stages are in a transition, and what to expect at each stage, could highly transform how smoothly and victoriously we embrace change in our lives.  
I am not currently in transition to or from anything, but I know a lot of people who are.  They are in between jobs, have a child who is graduating from high school, preparing for a move, or adjusting to someone new living in their house.  Change, and necessary transition, come in as many forms as there are people. 

My hope is that if you are not in transition, this will prepare you for what's ahead.  And, if you are in transition, that this outline will bring a new perspective.  A new perspective that reinvigorates you and gives you hope, wherever you are in the process.


There are three stages to pass through when going from x to y:

1.  Endings - Saying goodbye to the old.
     a.  Loss
     b.  Response to loss
     c.  Ceremony
2.  Neutral zone - Not sure if the new way is better or if you're ever going to get there.
     a.  Need 2 Cs - Care and Concern
     b.  Need 4 Ps - Purpose, picture, plan, and part.
3.  New Beginnings - just happen.  Once here, you can't imagine life being any other way, and you wonder why it took so long to get here.


When we are in the "Endings" portion of transition, we are dealing with loss.  All change brings about loss.  Several people can experience the same event, but feel loss in different areas of their lives.  The different areas we can experience loss are:
1.  Structure
2.  Control
3.  Identity
4.  Future - How we thought it would play out.
5.  Meaning
6.  Attachments to people
7.  Turf

According to He Leadeth Me by Walter Ciscek and Man's Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl, nervous breakdowns happen because people don't realize they have a choice of how to respond to loss.

There are four possible responses to loss (the 4 Rs):
1.  Restore what was lost. 
Examples:  Get lost job back, rebuild damaged house in same location, just as it was before).
2.  Replace what was lost with something similar. 
Examples:  Get a similar job or similar house in a similar neighborhood.  *This is what we usually do.
3.  Redesign.  Change the way we live.  Choose something new.
Examples:  Start your own business.  Live in a different environment. 
4.  Relinquish.  Give up an idea, plan, unrealistic goal, or pursuit. 
Example:  Give up the idea of being an Olympic runner.

Ceremony:  To end the "Endings" phase of transition, we need ceremony.  We need ceremony because when we don't let go of the past, we get stuck in it.  Ceremony is how we make sure the past is left behind. 
Examples:  When Cortez's ships finally landed, he burned them.  There was no going back!  We have a wedding ceremony to indicate to all (especially ourselves) that we are no longer single!  We need an external event to signify the internal change/shift. 

Neutral Zone

When we enter into the neutral zone, we experience the greatest anxiety, fear, growth, and innovation.  To maximize our productivity and progress, we need the 2 Cs (take care not to poo-poo these.  Bad things happen if we don't get them!): 
1.  Care
2.  Concern

If we don't get these 2 critical things during this time, one of three things will likely happen:
1.  We will go back to the "old".
2.  We will leave.  Opt out.
3.  We will quit and stay where we are. 

In addition to the 2 Cs, we also need the 4 Ps:
1.  Purpose:  Remember why we're going through this difficult time.
2.  Picture:  Where we are headed.  Why it's going to be better.  What it's going to look like when we get there.
3.  Plan:  Lay out a bare minimum plan.  Manageable chunks/steps to be taken to achieve goal.
4.  Part:  Play your part.  If in a team setting, make sure all who are involved have an active role in being a part of the solution.

New Beginnings - Celebrate!  You made it through the transition!

Dear Heavenly Father,

Thank you for the rain and for safekeeping through the storm last night.  Thank you for reminding us of Your power.  If fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, as the Scriptures say, increase my fear of You.  I would rather fear You too much, than underestimate You.  But really, I want to love You more than I fear You, which I do.  Thank you for opportunities to gather together with fellow believers, and learn more about the transitions that are inescapable in our lives.  Help us to resist the lie that transition "shouldn't be this hard", so that we can accept it for what it is, and keep moving forward.  Help us to remember that "This too, shall pass."  Please bless all of those who are in transition.  Especially those who are trying to say goodbye to something because it has been taken from them.  Amen.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Top 10 List of God's Love for Me

I attended a morning of reflection on Friday morning, and was asked for my notes afterward by a couple of friends.  I saw several women holding babies (which makes it difficult to take notes), knew several people who wanted to be there but couldn't, and know there are far more who can't come than who can, so this is for you.  Following, are my notes based on Fr. Michael Sullivan's talk entitled Top 10 List of God's Love for Me.  He has graciously given his permission and shorthand outline for the cause.  It is not as visually tidy as I'd like.  Apparently, blogger doesn't believe in the tab button, and the space bar forgets its job on the left margin.  But, in spite of that, I hope to render justice to all that he covered, and that it will bless you as it blessed me.  

You need to run in such a way so as to win.  Win what?  Two letters on the front of your name when you die.  S and T.  For me, it would look like this:  St. Heidi.  Here's hoping...

Do you not know that the runners in the stadium all run in the race, but only one wins the prize?  Run so as to win.  Every athlete exercises discipline in every way.  They do it to win a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.  1 Corinthians 9:24-25

1.  God's love is needed.
     Example:  A knowing shepherd removes a grass seed imbedded in one of his sheep's eyes.  It could not remove it on its own, nor could any of its fellow sheep.

2.  God's love is defined.
      Love is willing a good for another for their own sake.  It is not a friendship of pleasure or utility, but of virtue.   Christ loved us: 
a.  First. 
b.  Gratuitously (while we were still sinners).
c.  In deed (by dying on the Cross).

3.  God's love is gratuitous (undeserved, unmerited, and unearned) and reconciling.
     Example:  Many times God holds our hand and leads us by His grace.  But, as with St. Paul, there are times we receive the fullness of God's grace in an instant.  God meets us where we are, in whatever state of sinfulness we are in, and leads us out.

4.  God's love is life-changing.
     Example:  St. Therese of Lisieux:  On the stairwell of her home, after an encounter with her father which saddened her, St. Therese explains a definitive change within her, one she could not effect for herself, though she had tried for years.  Her explanation of it was something like this, "I felt charity enter into my heart, the need to forget myself and to please others, and I have been happy ever since."

5.  God's love is un-begrudging and forgetful.
     Example:  Peter.  Peter denied knowing Jesus three times between His agony in the garden and His scourging at the pillar.  He denied Him at a time when Jesus most needed a friend.  Jesus was crucified, buried, and resurrected before they met again.   The risen Christ simply asks Peter three times, "Do you love me?  There were no harsh words spoken or explanation demanded.  Only love.

6.  God's love is unpredictable and uncontrollable.
     Example:  After a lifetime of praying for his father's conversion and reconciliation with God, Fr. Michael got a call that his father was ill.  Their time together (40 days and 40 nights) began with Fr. Michael giving his father the Sacraments of Reconciliation, the Eucharist, and Anointing of the Sick, per his father's request. 

7.  God's love defines us.
     Example:  John - The Beloved Disciple. 
*When you're all-powerful, you make stuff you like. 
*Hell exists because of God's love - He loves our freedom as much as He loves us.
*When God stops thinking about you, you stop breathing.

8.  God's love is shown in its effects.
     It is obvious.  If you know someone who has joy, peace, and compassion, they are probably "in relationship" with God, and experience His Love.

9.  God's love is grown in
      The best way to grow is to look at your sins (But, only as a catapult to God's mercy!), and look at God's goodness. 
*Think of your love for God as a flame on the wick of your soul.  All flames are different heights.  Venial sins do nothing to shorten the height of our flame, but they increase our threshold for sin. When our threshold for sin increases, we are more likely to commit a mortal sin, which extinguishes the flame.  A hiking analogy:  There is no harm in walking near the edge of a cliff.  However, if you fall off, the question begs to be answered, "Why were you so close to the edge?" 

10.  God's love is vulnerable/delicate.
       Our sin causes this.  Example:  God, as our friend, picks up the phone and calls us.  The call goes something like this:  God:  "Hey!  Do you want to come over and play today?!"
                                  Us:  "No.  I don't want to come over and play today."
                                  God:  "Oh.  Okay (disappointed).  I'll call you again later."
*If we continually say "No" to God's call, our conscience dulls, and we stop hearing the phone ring.

Points to consider:  Is there a fa├žade, an unmet neediness, or addiction in my life that makes me unavailable to God or others? 

What are ways in which I have been loved?  List them...  (Have an ample supply of paper)

Suggested Reading: The Voices of the Saints, Bert Ghezzi
Testimony of Hope, Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan
Simon, Son of John, Do You Love Me?, Encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI
Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas

Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for this GORGEOUS weather.  Thank you for the gift of Yourself at Mass this morning.  Thank you for the morning of reflection, and my Regnum Christi sisters who put it on.  Thank you for Fr. Michael's availability, wisdom, and zeal for souls.  Thank you for my friend, Janet, who gave a beautiful testimony of God's everlasting love, and the way she has experienced it in her life.  Please bless all of the people who read this blog, and lead them closer to Yourself.  And if that happens, thanks for letting me help!  Amen.