Functional Art Endeavors with my Engineer


One of the things I love about my marriage is how Peter and I like to work together on projects.  I’m a theologian who likes to paint and craft, he’s an aerospace engineer who likes to build.  We have vastly different skills (and interests).  Instead of this being a source of conflict for us, we find that our differences compliment each other.

When we work on a project together, the results often exceed either of our expectations.  I now understand that this dynamic reflects what Stephen Covey talked about in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.  “Habit 6: Synergy” is what happens with creative energy when people work so well together that the final product is greater than the sum of the parts (or individual efforts). Peter and I fondly refer to as being a “Super-Couple.”

Below are some of the projects we have worked on together:

Flower Box –  I casually mentioned that I would love a flower box outside of my kitchen window.  A few months later, my engineer built me one out of scrap wood in the garage, and I painted it in some of my favorite colors.

Play Kitchen Food – Shortly after we the boys got a play kitchen for Christmas, I saw the need for more and better play food.  Less plastic foods; more along the lines of the stuff the kids ate and saw in our own home.

Orange Juice Container: Engineer-Boy had a vision of creating a milk container, but since we don’t drink milk out of those half-gallon containers any more, it became an OJ container. Of course, I painted all the details… but I knew my boys would want to try to open and close it, so I was trying to think of a way to make that happen… In comes Peter with the idea to cut the whole plastic contraption off an actual, empty OJ container and glue it on to the wooden side.  Worked PERFECTLY!  One important lesson: although it’s easier to write with a Sharpie, if you polyurethane over it, the Sharpie will run. Use a paint-pen!

Bread: With his jigsaw, Peter cut, shaped, and sanded the bread pieces.  I did the detail paint.

Cookies:  Peter cut the circles out of plywood with a hole cutting drill bit… cutting these took a looooong time, but sanding was pretty straightforward.  I think if we were to do this again, I’d suggest buying wooden circles from a craft store and just painting them.   Important lesson from painting: When dotting the cookies with chocolate chips, avoid the temptation to think “more is better.” My first attempt looked like the cookies had some disease, like chip-pox.  Less is best.

Felt Food: I identified some of the foods we eat… ones that I could easily cut out of felt and glue together (no sewing needed):  fried eggs, bacon, ham, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, and lettuce.  I kept the list limited to the foods I knew would be easily recognizable in addition to easy to make.  Just cut and hot glue.  I did sketch lettuce leaf veins with a Sharpie.

“Drafting © Depositphotos.com/Garsya”

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Inscription " Create " written with a feather on a white paper

My Love of Functional Art


Since I started writing again professionally, I’ve put the blog reflections on hold for a while.  My brain is a little tapped from working on curriculum materials for the US Catholic Bishop’s new Framework for high school religious education.  So, instead, in my non-Mom, non-writer time, I’ve been doing more artsy-crafty stuff.  The art gives me a way to unwind and get excited about something that has nothing to do with religious ed, spiritual growth, or the Church.  And while I paint or craft, I clear my head and am better able to go back to being a Mom or a theologian or a writer.  Or all three.

Normal people call this a hobby.  And they have one for exactly these reasons.

I’m new to the concept, think it’s GREAT, and highly recommend it.

I have only recently (as in: since I’ve had kids that love it when I make stuff for them) discovered how much I LOVE making stuff.  I call it “functional art.”  I don’t really enjoy drawing or painting a picture… the perfectionist in me gets so stressed out that it defeats the “enjoyment” part of the hobby.  BUT, if it’s going to be USED!?! To solve a problem!?!? Or to entertain my kids?!?  I love it!

I love the creative process.  I love the function it serves my family.  And as my skills have improved over the past three years, I have to say that if I can do this, you probably can too.

Here are ten of my Functional Art Projects (in no particular order):

 1.  As part of our environmental consciousness, we use cloth napkins in our house.  I realized at one point that it might be fun for the kids to have some kid-friendly ones.  So I cut up some fabric and ironed the edges with Heat-N-Bond.

2.  Since I already had Thomas fabric, I decided to line a basket with it for all the little odds and ends that kids pick up at parties and whatnot that don’t actually belong in any category other than “Random Stuff.”

3.  Three true statements: (1) My two boys are 17 months apart, which allows for the money-saving perk of hand-me-downs.  (2) My two boys are rough on their clothes, especially the knees, especially since they are clumsy like me and fall a lot.  (3) I am frugal and creative.  So, before I learned to sew, I just zapped these on with Heat-N-Bond.

4.  I found that the Heat-N-Bond also made for a good edge seam seal for making a tablecloth for the kids’ play table.

5. One of my best girlfriends is an uber-awesome party planner.  She even blogs about it at http://planyourownparties.blogspot.com/.  Anyhow, she is a waaaaay-in-advance planner, so when her soon-to-be 4 yr old announced that she wanted a Bear Wand and a Bear Folder for her birthday, Stacey turned to the girlfriend group and asked for help.  So I volunteered.   AND HAD A BLAST!  It was the best kid-birthday gift I ever gave!  And THAT’s how I started making homemade birthday gifts for all of our friends’ kids.

6.  Instead of a gift-bag, I found some birthday fabric and made reusable birthday sacks.

7.  I love, love, LOVE Dr. Seuss.  And so do my boys.  For Halloween 2009, I was still determining what they would dress up as… I tried asking them once, but they neither understood the question nor cared about the answer.  But I did!  So, while shopping for trinkets in the Dollar Bins at Target months earlier, I found the red and white stove pipe hat… which led to my decision to dress up as the Cat in the Hat with my “Thing 1 and Thing 2.”  I cut the white circles out of some cheap material and actually Sharpie’d the words on.  I believe I even had the red shirts in the boys’ drawers.  Once again, I stuck the the circles on with Heat-N-Bond.  At this point, almost 2 1/2 yrs later, I would’ve gone with better material and fabric paint… but to my surprise, they really held up ok!  I mean they LOOK homemade, but the kids LOVED them and so did everyone who saw them.  I found the knit hats for $3 each at Target.  I was pretty happy with this solution instead of a wig or actually dying my kids hair.  The boys wore those shirts regularly until Alex outgrew his.  I promised I’d make them new ones (with my vastly improved skills – I even sew a little now!), but that’s still in my projects-to-do pile.

8.  The following year, About a month or two before Halloween (in 2010), I asked my boys what they wanted to be.  BOTH wanted to be Hiro of the Rails, from Thomas the Train.  And THAT costume did not exist in the stores.  Or the internet.  I checked.  So, I pulled upon my days making props for theatre in high school.  Cut up three small “book” boxes, and taped and shaped 1 1/2 of  them together for each train.  Painted them black with acrylic paint, and detailed: wheels from red foam paper, faces from scrapbook paper with hand-sketched and painted on faces (a-la me), and crumbled black construction paper for the coal.  The only “cost” was some little headlamps I found in Target that could fit inside the toilet paper tube and turn on and off.  Oh – and don’t forget the frayed cotton ball steam coming out of the funnel.  The buffers were painted spice container lids hot glued to some red construction paper.  And then I just painted the rest of the details in gold and white acrylic paint.  When the boys went to put them on, I attached thick (2″ or so) ribbon with hot glue in “backpack” style so the boys could put the costumes on and take them off at will.  They were a HUGE hit – with the boys and the neighborhood.  And the kids played in and with them for months afterwards.

9.  So this past Halloween the kids wanted to be characters from Cars 2.  So I did my cardboard box cutting and taping… but because Francisco Bernouli’s car is a Formula 1, with the wings and all, I decided to paper mache them for extra support.  Knowing what I know now (about how hard it is to get red paint to cover newsprint), I would probably make the final layer of paper mache with white paper (and of course, letting it dry for a week) before painting it.  I insisted that the kids keep bringing me their diecast cars so I could model the details after it.  Using foam paper – and painting or marking with a Sharpie – worked really well.  I make Francisco’s wheels out of recycled nuts containers from Target, while Lightning McQueen’s were just the lids of the same containers.  (We were making and eating our own trail mix a LOT in the Summer and Fall).  I found two red hats from Michael’s and decorated with the foam paper.  It was super easy to do the character’s eyes on the hats, and that just finished off the Cars costumes perfectly.

10.  Again with my love of Dr. Seuss!  I made these around Thanksgiving, when it kinda-sorta starts to get a little cold in Houston… cold enough to warrant a jacket.  But you can really get away with a sweatshirt on most days.  This effort was in response to a request from Alex to make him a Lorax shirt.  It took me forever to finally find an orange hoodie (thanks Google and http://www.jiffyshirts.com), I began by sewing the felt whiskers together (four random triangles on each side), painted a black outline, and sewed them to the hood.  I also painted the black zig-zag across the sweatshirt.  Which at first, I HATED, but have grown to love… it’s very Dr. Seuss.  I never got around to attaching brown yarn to the top of the hood for the Lorax’s hair because Alex was just too excited to wear it… and that yarn is at the bottom of my projects-to-do box.  For Max’s Max-the-Dog, I sewed a red ribbon around the collar… which didn’t go as planned… because the sweatshirt immediately lost the flexibility needed to pull over his head… but I solved that by some old school cutting: scissors and a 2″ cut at the base of the neck so it was easier to pull over my kids big heads.  The ears were pretty simple, except I had to enlist the help of my 83 yr old MIL to hand sew them on to the hood.  I couldn’t get the machine sew to work well enough, and I loathe hand sewing.  She also reinforced the antler, which I made out of thick duck fabric so it’ll stand up easily.

I think I’ll post some more tomorrow.

“Scripture © Depositphotos.com/Thirdkey”

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Couple in living room watching television

All Good Things In Moderation


Even though I’m not a huge TV watcher, there are definitely some shows I really enjoy.  One night a few years ago, we were watching a really good episode of Grey’s Anatomy on the DVR.  Some sports game had run long and pushed the start time back by 10 or 15 minutes, but the DVR was only set to record an extra 3 minutes.  The show cut off in the middle of the climax.

Me: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!”

Peter (in typical stoic-engineer-voice):  “That’s disappointing.”

Me: <yells and curses at TV, sporting event, and all people, places, and things involved>

Peter (in typical stoic-engineer-voice):  “You really need to calm down.  It’s just a television show.  It’s not the end of the world.”

There was absolutely no defense I could muster for my reaction.  Of course I got annoyed with Peter for blowing me off, but loathe as I was to admit it, he was right.  Instead of being disappointed, I was more along the lines of devastated.  Over a TV show.

The incident clued me in to some obsessive behavior that I was neither aware of (I’m not addicted to TV; I only watch a few shows) nor proud of.

Call it addiction, attachment, a compulsion, a fixation, an obsession, dependence, or a need… The over-the-top reaction to some desired thing is an issue.

Darling, I don’t know why I go to extremes.”  – Billy Joel (Storm Front, 1989)

Philosophers and theologians have written about it – from Plato’s Republic (360 BCE), to Sacred Scripture, to St. Thomas Aquinas, to contemporary spiritual writers such as Anthony De Mello.

What we’re talking about here is the virtue of Temperance.

Temperance, prudence (wisdom), fortitude (courage), and justice are the four cardinal virtues.  The word cardinal comes from the Latin word for “hinge.” These four virtues are hinges upon which the door of the moral life swings.

Temperance is moderation in one’s actions, thoughts, or feelings.  It’s the practice of self-control and restraint.  The virtue of temperance is focused on moving us beyond an all-or-nothing approach to a place of balance.

The thing I love about reflecting on practicing the virtue of temperance is that each person has their own successes and struggles with it – everyone has their thing.  Consider the following topics and feel free to add your own:

  • Money
  • Power
  • Technology: Cell phone, email, Facebook, Twitter, txt msg, internet…
  • Media: TV shows, movies, news, celebrity gossip, video games, books, magazines…
  • Consumption: food, sweets, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, smoking…
  • Sports: sports teams (spectator or athlete), exercise, fitness…
  • Interpersonal: sex, dating, relationships, wedding planning…
  • Shopping: clothes, shoes, purses, cars, toys…
  • Beauty: hair, nails, makeup…
  • Perfection: perfect diet, perfect mom, perfect dad, perfect house, perfect organization, perfect decisions…

When it comes to the virtue of temperance, own your areas of success:

  • I enjoy and have a healthy appreciation of  __________  without becoming overly attached to it.

When it comes to the virtue of temperance, recognize your areas of weakness.
  • I struggle with moderation when it comes to ________.

Shortly after my Grey’s tirade, I made a conscious decision to develop a better practice of temperance with regards to television.  As my attitudes shifted to healthy appreciation, I noticed that I found more freedom.  I didn’t have to watch anything.

My trivial example of the TV show was easy for me to recall, mock with self-deprecating humor, and resolve.  That’s definitely not to say I’ve got the virtue of temperance down pat.

The area I am actively working on is my own perfectionism.  I’m an “everything has its place” sort of girl.  Focusing on temperance has helped me realize that while clean and straightened is good, it’s not nearly as important as being fully present to my children.  Organization has its place in helping my life function.  But it cannot take center stage over-and-above quality time with my family.  Likewise, it wouldn’t be helpful to anyone if I just threw all cleaning and organization out the window.

The better solution is to throw my addiction to perfection out the window and live a more balanced life.

There are other areas of “attachment” with which I struggle.  Yet my “awareness” is as far as I go; I’m not actively working on them. These include (but are not limited to): my iPhone, email, Facebook, and caffeinated tea.

Lest I be accused of knocking four things I adore, notice:  It’s never the thing itself that’s the problem.  It’s our attachment to the thing.  When we practice the virtue of temperance, our attitude towards things shifts to one of detachment.  The goal is to go from addiction to appreciation.

When we jokingly say that we can’t live without ___, we’re speaking the truth of our struggle with the virtue of temperance.

How do we get from obsession to temperance?

The Christian tradition has a strong history in the practice of asceticism, which is the disciplined practice of abstaining from worldly pleasures. (Be sure not to confuse asceticism with the similar sounding term “aesthetics,” which is the branch of philosophy dealing with art and beauty.)

The practice of self-denial in asceticism isn’t virtuous in and of itself.  Rather, it is a time-tested way to remove all distractions from one’s life so as to focus more fully and completely on the Way, the Truth, and the Light that is God.

For example, take the practice of “giving something up” for Lent.  And for the sake of argument, let’s say that “something” was candy.  Candy is not evil.  Nor is avoiding candy virtuous.  But if your attitude towards candy goes beyond “healthy appreciation…” If you have a hard time practicing self-control around an open bowl of candy… If your desire for candy is over-the-top… You might consider the ascetic practice of self-denial to break the dependency on candy.

Break the attachment to whatever it is that you give an undue amount of focus, attention, and energy to.

Because again, it’s not about the thing.  It’s about the place and position of power we are giving that thing in our lives.  It’s in this way that practicing the virtue of temperance (and engaging in the practice of asceticism) helps us to honor the First Commandment.

I am the Lord your God.  You shall have no other gods besides me.

Few of us have golden calves that we are tempted to worship.  But we do have iPhones and Crackberries.  It’s the things we put in the #1 position in our life, the things we give undue amounts of our energy and attention to.  It’s the things we struggle with practicing the virtue of temperance that become stumbling blocks for the First Commandment.

So as you consider your own successes and struggles… as you consider what commitment you might want to make to break free of attachment… I leave you with this parable from Anthony de Mello’s Song of the Bird (New York: Doubleday, 1982).

The Diamond

The sannyasi had reached the outskirts of the village and settled down under a tree for the night when a villager came running up to him and said, “The stone! The stone! Give me the precious stone!”

“What stone?” asked the sannyasi.

“Last night the Lord Shiva appeared to me in a dream,” said the villager, “And told me that if I went to the outskirts of the village at dusk I should find a sannyasi who would give me a precious stone that would make me rich forever.”

The sannyasi rummaged in his bag and pulled out a stone. “He probably meant this one,” he said, as he handed the stone over to the villager. “I found it on a forest path some days ago. You can certainly have it.”

The man gazed at the stone in wonder. It was a diamond, probably the largest diamond in the whole world, for it was as large as a person’s head.

He took the diamond and walked away. All night he tossed about in bed, unable to sleep. Next day at the crack of dawn he woke the sannyasi and said, “Give me the wealth that makes it possible for you to give this diamond away so easily.”

“Couple in living room watching television © Depositphotos.com/monkeybusiness”

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Small green seedling in the ground
Conversion, Human Dignity, Love, Metanoia, Transformation



If there was one thing you could (magically, effortlessly) change about yourself, what would it be?

Play along: come up with one thing.  Perhaps it’s…

  • developing virtuous habits (and eliminating unhealthy ones)
  • addressing some physical characteristic (in the realm of body image or ability)
  • acquiring a desired talent

Sit with your answer.  What does it tell you about yourself?

  • Is it just for fun?
  • Does it have to do with something you struggle with?
  • How does it relate to your personal goals?  Hopes?  Dreams?

  • What does it tell you about where you are on the spectrum between self-love and self-loathing?

In the lifelong journey of growth and change, there is usually some thing or another that we are working on improving.  This is good.  However, there is a legitimate concern for our spiritual well-being insomuch as how we treat ourselves in the process.

You are a child of God, created in God’s image and likeness.

Then God said: Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness. Let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the tame animals, all the wild animals, and all the creatures that crawl on the earth.  God created humankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:26-27)

  • When it comes to the things about yourself that you want to change, do you honor the image of God within?  Do you treat yourself with the love and respect that the image of God deserves?  

Healthy self-love appreciates the goodness that is.  It is from a place of love, not hate, that we are called to conversion – or metanoia.

In the reflection “Just Paint Over It,” I referenced the Greek word metanoia while discussing the transforming process of forgiveness.  Metanoia [pronounced meta-noy-ah] translates as “a change of heart.” Meaning a conversion where the person turns away from what is destructive, hurtful, hateful, and instead turns towards God.

Too often, however, we can be overly critical of ourselves in a way which is neither helpful nor loving.  There is a fine line between goals that motivate and the expectation of nothing less than perfection that can shut a person down.

The need for perfection.

There are two times that the word “perfect” appears in the gospels, both in the Gospel According to Matthew.  The first is in Matthew 5:48, which is the part of the Sermon on the Mount in which Jesus discusses Love of Enemies.

You have heard that it was said, “You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.” But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust.  For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

The Mount of Beatitudes and The Sea of Galilee

The second appears in Matthew 19:21 within the story of The Rich Young Man.

Now someone approached him and said, “Teacher, what good must I do to gain eternal life?”  He answered him, “Why do you ask me about the good? There is only One who is good.  If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.”  He asked him, “Which ones?” And Jesus replied, “‘You shall not kill; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother’; and ‘you shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” The young man said to him, “All of these I have observed. What do I still lack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions. (Matthew 19:16-22)

If you wish to be perfect…

In reality, there is always room for improvement.   If we think we are all done with the personal/spiritual growth thing (as if to say: “I have arrived”), we are reminded that our work is never complete.It is then, that Jesus will say to us:

If you wish to be perfect…

It’s the all-or-nothing extremes that are useless.  Unhelpful.  Paralyzing.  In no way does Jesus insinuate that this rigid interpretation of perfection is what we are to aim for.

Growth—change—is a process.  Metanoia is a “turning” away from something (sinful) and towards God (who is wholeness, life, and truth).

Think about the self-improvement / growth things that you are working on in your life.  Do you treat yourself with love in the process of turning?  Or do you become overly critical and hateful about perceived failures?  Because that “hateful” thing is not what Jesus would do.

To move beyond my own struggle with perfectionism, I found it helpful to redefine “perfect” as functioning at my best, right now.  For me that implies being my best and doing my best in the present moment, while looking to take the next step to become better.

The “next step” is an important concept in overcoming paralyzing perfectionism, because it recognizes the space between the “reality of now” and the “ideal” or “goal.”  And in order for it to function, the “next step” should be realistic.  Small.  Doable.

And then celebrate the success.  And build upon it.  Because that is perfect.

You are not now what you were… You are not now what you will be when God has perfected you.                  – St. Vincent de Paul

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Harvesting grapes
Humility, Scripture, Suffering, Transformation

A Worker in the Vineyard


Think about a time in your own life when you were pretty much at your (emotional/spiritual) rock-bottom low.  What insight did you gain about life and faith from that difficult time?  How did that insight come about?  Who or what helped make that happen?

My own lowest-low time came when I was 24 years old.  Just three weeks short of what would have been my first wedding anniversary, my spouse never came home one evening, which in itself was significant, but it was a pressing concern because we had plans to drive to his sister’s for an overnight visit.  Upon returning close to midnight, he casually responded to an offhand remark I made by revealing that he didn’t want to be married, had never wanted to get married, and thought we should just “break-up.”

And just like that, life as I knew it changed forever.  Once I recovered from the shock and came to understand that there was no chance of reconciling, I picked up the shattered pieces of my life and vowed to learn, fix, heal, and ultimately become a better, stronger, and more whole person.

One of the most difficult pieces of this process was coming to terms with my own Crisis of Faith.  I was a theology teacher—teaching New Testament Scripture to high school sophomores—at the time.  I had a Bachelor’s degree in theology.  I was not only committed to my Catholic, Christian faith, but I had specific, poignant conversations with my estranged spouse during our 17 month engagement about the Sacrament of Marriage, about the Covenant which we would be entering into, and about how divorce was not an option.  Not for me, anyhow.

An excellent therapist helped me dissect the unhealthy dynamics and patterns which led to this whole situation, but I was still left with the God question:

I had responded to God’s call to be a teacher of faith.
I had given my life to God.
How could God have allowed this to happen to me?

broodingWhen I returned to my classroom after taking a week off to get my head together, I told my students that I was “going through a difficult time,” which was an understatement, but it was all that I could muster.  It was incredibly difficult to be teaching about the faith when I was so very angry, confused, hurt, and broken in my own relationship with God.

So it was in this context when I happened to assign a Critical Thinking Reflection on the “Workers in the Vineyard” parable (Matthew 20:1-16).

Jesus told his disciples this parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out at dawn to hire laborers for his vineyard.  After agreeing with them for the usual daily wage, he sent them into his vineyard.   Going out about nine o’clock, the landowner saw others standing idle in the marketplace, and he said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard, and I will give you what is just.’  So they went off.  And he went out again around noon, and around three o’clock, and did likewise.  Going out about five o’clock, the landowner found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why do you stand here idle all day?’  They answered, ‘Because no one has hired us.’  He said to them, ‘You too go into my vineyard.’ Grapes in a Vineyard When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Summon the laborers and give them their pay, beginning with the last and ending with the first.’  When those who had started about five o’clock came, each received the usual daily wage.  So when the first came, they thought that they would receive more, but each of them also got the usual wage.  And on receiving it they grumbled against the landowner, saying, ‘These last ones worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us, who bore the day’s burden and the heat.’ He said to one of them in reply, ‘My friend, I am not cheating you.  Did you not agree with me for the usual daily wage?  Take what is yours and go.  What if I wish to give this last one the same as you?  Or am I not free to do as I wish with my own money?   Are you envious because I am generous?’  Thus, the last will be first, and the first will be last.”

As I facilitated a class discussion with the 15 year olds, one kid raised his hand and earnestly asked:

I just don’t understand how this is fair.  How can it be ok to give the same amount to all-day workers and those that only worked an hour?

Still a novice teacher at the time, instead of prompting him to think it through or asking other classmates to respond, I sought to answer his question directly.  And when I did, I heard the truth that God was trying to speak to me come out of my own mouth:

The workers think they “deserve” something more because of their efforts, but that’s not how God works.  We don’t earn it.  God’s Kingdom is offered to us, and we either say yes or no.   God loves, gives, and forgives with generosity. 

Or are you envious because God is generous?

The kid paused for a moment and said “Hmm, I never thought about it like that”.  And there I am standing in front of a class of 36 students, apparently continuing to facilitate a discussion, thinking to myself, “Me neither, kid… me neither”.

How could God have allowed this to happen to me?

Yep.  I thought I “deserved something more” because of my efforts.  I couldn’t believe I actually had a sense of entitlement.  With God.

The last will be first and the first will be last.

It’s like when we were in elementary school and would race to be first in line (for almost everything).  There was actually a sense of superiority that being first had for those at the front.  As an adult, I see how juvenile the need to be first was; I mean we’d all be going to the same place.  I can imagine how frustrated God must get with us for fixating on this juvenile need, and then getting all irate at the perceived injustice of someone “cutting in line.”

With greater humility, I began to look at my situation, which was honestly the consequence of actions.  God’s care, concern, and presence enveloped me in the network of support from friends and family.

Just as my divorce and annulment were a turning point in my personal journey, this insight from the “Workers in the Vineyard” parable was a turning point in my faith.

This was my story.  This was my insight.  This was my process.  How about you?

And so I conclude as I began: 

  • Think about a difficult time in your own life. 
  • What insight did you gain about life and faith from that difficult time? 
  • How did that insight come about? 
  • Who or what helped make that happen?

“Harvesting Grapes © Depositphotos.com/Bunyos30″

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