Simply Beautiful

Posted by Sharon Krause on Aug 22, 2022 6:00:00 AM

I’ve named her Mimi. I have raised her since she was a six-inch seedling. She is my mimosa tree, proudly standing in my side yard. She is so beautiful with her pink and white fragrant flowers! Bees find her especially appealing as they climb all over her pretty blossoms.

Mimi has numerous branches now that gently blow with any summer breeze. Mimi is very flexible and free as she provides shade for passing ride-on lawnmowers or my husband as he trims the shrubbery. At one point, she had to be tended to because some children who ran through the yard pulled off a couple of her small branches. My dutiful husband bought some sealer and covered up the bare spaces on her branches to protect her from insects and disease. Mimi is flourishing and fancy now.

People walking their dogs in the neighborhood have stopped to ask about Mimi: what kind of tree she is, how old she might be, and so forth. They happily notice and admire her and appreciate her as a neighbor. She reaches to the sky in all her God-given splendor!

In this troubled world, I think about how I might try to copy Mimi’s simple beauty in my own life. Can I offer comfort and rest to others who are struggling? Am I able to flexibly sway with the winds of change and conflict as I grow despite the temptations and discouragements? When I break off even briefly from following the way of Christ, am I willingsealed with my Savior’s sacrificial loveto atone for my missteps and grow even stronger?

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Topics: God's gifts, Sharon Krause, sharing our gifts

Being Present

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jun 13, 2022 6:00:00 AM

The lady was walking a cute little dog. It was a lovely daynot too hot, not too cool. The sun was shining, unobstructed by clouds. The lady was looking downward as she walked. She was holding a cell phone to her ear with her left hand and was fully engaged in a conversation. She was oblivious to the beauty around her.

So many people like that woman walk around with cell phones. These devices are convenient and helpful in our busyness. I could not help thinking, however, that the dog walker was missing the beauty around her and, perhaps, opportunities to interact with her immediate environment. What did she miss by not being present to her surroundings? I wonder sometimes if those phones are not like pacifiers for the ears, sort of like pacifiers in babies’ little mouths. What if some stranger could have benefited from a friendly smile from that lady? What if a beautiful bird fluttered by in a colorful feathery flurry, singing a distinctive springtime aria?

My question is, did the lady with the dog miss things to savor because she was not fully present to the moment and to her environment? How much do we all miss if we are so busy and distracted? Do we miss recognizing God’s numerous simple blessings because our attention is taken up with social media or a world that is broadcasting worry material?

Granted, technology can be useful, but it can also interfere with our chances to just be. The first four lines of “Simple Gifts,” a Shaker hymn written by Elder Joseph Brackett, put forth what I mean:

    ‘Tis the gift to be simple, ‘tis the gift to be free,

   ‘Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be;

   And when we find ourselves in the place just right,

   ‘Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

Our memories, our current life circumstances, and the ways we define our challenges all affect how present we can be at any given moment. We cannot lose sight of the fact that God, our Creator, didn’t just create us and leave! He is with us all the time and loves us. He isn’t too busy on a phone call to pay attention to us! Psalm 16:7-11 tells us

   I bless the Lord who counsels me;

       even in the night my heart exhorts me;

   I set the Lord ever before me;

       with him at my right hand I shall not be disturbed.

   Therefore my heart is glad and my soul rejoices,

       my body, too, abides in confidence;

   Because you will not abandon my soul to the nether world

       nor will you suffer your faithful one to undergo corruption.

   You will show me the path to life,

       fullness of joys in your presence,

       the delights at your right hand forever.

It takes conscious effort on our part to make time to try to be present as who we actually are, with our individual gifts, talents, and potential. Jesus is our example. The Holy Spirit is our helper. And so we love!

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Topics: God's gifts, self-awareness, Sharon Krause

Summer Thoughts

Posted by Sharon Krause on Jul 16, 2021 6:00:00 AM

I live in Connecticut and have been known to complain when the summer temperatures get into the 90s and the humidity becomes unbearable. I think many of us are good at complaining about things that annoy us.

Let’s look on the brighter side today. I say it is time to thank God for the gifts he gives us especially, but not exclusively, in the summer. When we think about summer activities such as swimming, playing golf or tennis, enjoying baseball or soccer, we should take time to thank the Lord for our muscles, our eyesight, our coordination, and our strength. Even when we have summer chores to do, such as weeding the garden or mowing the lawn, we have to admit that God is very generous with us. When was the last time we thanked God for the inventions of sunscreen, bug repellant, ice cream, and beach umbrellas?

While vacationing in Maine one summer, I happened got up very early one morning and looked out the window of the motel which overlooked Moosehead Lake. The sun looked like a giant raspberry rising out of the lake. It was a breathtaking sight. God is such an artist!

Summer skies, configured with puffy clouds, delight any of us that take the time to notice! Sure, lately there have been numerous frightening storm clouds, but storms pass, and God gives us new days and new vistas.

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Topics: God's gifts, gratitude, RENEW International, Sharon Krause, thanking God

Unwrapping Now

Posted by Sharon Krause on Dec 14, 2020 6:00:00 AM

Recently, a friend of mine gleefully shared that her Christmas shopping was done already, and she has even wrapped all the gifts. Have you ever thought about why we wrap all those presents? Wouldn’t it still be a surprise if we just said, “Here, I bought this for you because I care?” There is something to be said for the experience of wrapping, I guess; we humans seem to enjoy the anticipation, and the fancier the better. Besides, retailers make more money by selling us the fancy wrapping paper. 

One year, I decided to decorate the outside of my wrapped packages with designs made with ribbonthat is, spelling out the recipient’s name with ribbon, making the bows the flower-blossom tops of ribbon stems on the package front. It was fun for me, but quite time-consuming, and all to be ripped apart in the speedy opening of the gifts. 

I suggest to you today that we each have certain personal gifts we should unwrap during this Advent season. Let’s talk about a few of them. We are blessed to have the gift of faith in God; that we all know and are very thankful. How about the gift of gab? Some of us are easy conversationalists. It might be a good idea to strike up a cheerful conversation with a person doing a repetitive, mundane job during this busy season, just to put a smile on his or her face. It could even be a two-word opener, like: “Nice tie!” or “Lovely blouse!” I saw a store clerk the other day and remarked, “Pretty eyelashes!” She was pleasantly surprised that I had noticed. 

We could phone someone who is stuck at home during this pandemic and just share some kind thoughts or listen to that person’ s news. We might unwrap our gift of a sense of humor and share a few corny jokes or humorous anecdotes.

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Topics: Christmas, Christmas shopping, Advent, catholic program renew, God's gifts, prayer, renew catholic program, RENEW International, scripture readings, gift wrapping

Prayer: For the Good of All

Posted by RENEW on Nov 15, 2020 6:00:00 AM

God our Father,
you have given us everything
that we have,
you have made us who we are.
Thank you for the many talents
you have given to each one of us.
Guide us to understand your message,
and help us to be open to the Holy Spirit
and to others.
In your name we pray.

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Topics: using your talents to serve god, catholic RENEW program, God's gifts, Holy Spirit, prayer, RENEW prayers, RENEW International, openness

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