ARE YOU PREPARED?

I was listening to my favorite radio station recently.  It’s IMMACULATE HEART RADIO, AM 1000.  (Also available on an app or on your computer.)  The podcast of this discussion can be found at ihradio.com; Patrick Madrid Show; January 17, Hour 3.

I drive to work every morning with Patrick Madrid, my favorite host.  He was talking about being prepared for death.  The caller had just found out that his 39 year old daughter had been hit and killed by a train.   I can’t even begin to imagine the pain and devastation of losing a child.

Patrick’s advice to the listeners was to be prepared.  There is so much that is out of our control.  Whether it is a direct result of the actions of others, a natural disaster, or a freak accident.  The result is the same.

Have your affairs in order.  If you are an adult, you should have a Trust.  Protect yourself, any assets you may have, and those you love.  Make provisions for the care and custody of your minor children if something should happen to you.  You don’t have to tell others what is specified in your trust, but they should know it exists and how to get access to it if needed.

Even if you don’t have a trust and think you don’t need one, leave some instructions for the people you love.

When I was growing up, my parents told us about “the steel box in the closet”.  It was a fireproof box that contained instructions in the event of their death or incapacitation.  It also contained the key to their safe deposit box.  (Make sure someone you trust is a signer on your box.)   When Daddy died, we went straight for “the box” and had all the instructions about notifying the government of his death, insurance policies, etc.   When Mom died, we had all the final instructions about the estate.  It was a very difficult and emotional time for the family, but there was so much that we didn’t have to worry about.

So, besides taking care of temporal business, there is the spiritual.  Keep your relationship with God in good order.  Do you keep an open line of communication open?  Do you pray daily?

Have you been to the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) recently?  Our parish priests hear confessions on Saturdays beginning at 8 a.m.  If you are uncomfortable going to a priest who might recognize your voice, go to another parish.  JUST GO.  You deserve the graces that come with unburdening your soul and conscience and asking for forgiveness.  Do you lead a life that follows the teachings of the Catholic Church?

And don’t forget about the relationships you have with family, friends, and even acquaintances.  Keep those in order as well.  If you love someone in your life, tell them and show them with your actions. You may not have time to make amends when God is ready to call you home.

I pray that you have a long and fulfilling life, but imagine how much better it will be if you live every day as if it’s your last?

Helping Our Parish Enhance Its Life of Stewardship in the New Year

 

This reflection was written by Leisa Anslinger, a nationally recognized speaker and resource on Stewardship.  While Leisa wrote this article aimed mostly at ministry and team leaders of the parish, I thought it was valuable on a personal level as well. 

 I would also hope that, as you read through these thoughts, you can reflect on what is being offered to you as a parishioner of St. Mary, Star of the Sea.   (Annual Covenant with God to help you on your faith journey, weekly Congregational Stewardship Prayer, weekly reflections on living Stewardship in your everyday life in the bulletin’s Barbie’s Corner, seasonal resource books.)

Our parish has an active Stewardship Team made up of members of our English-speaking and Spanish-speaking communities and we are always cognizant of the cultural differences when creating a new tool.  If you feel that you have something to offer, you are most welcome to visit a Team Meeting.

Turning the page to a new year offers us the opportunity to review time that has passed and to look forward to newness of life and ministry in the year to come.

As individuals, we recognize our many blessings, give thanks for God’s merciful love, and re-commit ourselves to living as disciples and stewards, with resolutions to solidify our commitment to Christ and one another.

In our parish, we can do the same: look back on the year that has just passed while looking toward the one to come. While the reflection itself may lead to enhanced pastoral life, a more focused examination of past and current practice will be great fruit.

I suggest we do so by using the phrase Curt Liesveld coined in directing people’s reflection of and building upon their God-given talents: name it, claim it, aim it!

Name it: In what ways has your parish helped people to understand the meaning and spiritual underpinnings of stewardship as a way of life?  What annual rhythm of stewardship education, lay witnesses, homily connections, and invitation to commitment has been established? How do you help people recognize stewardship as a disciple’s response, by pointing their attention to Christ’s way of self-giving love?

Claim it: List the practices you already have in place. Where is there room for growth? Are there aspects of your stewardship formation that have become stale or have never quite taken hold? What might you learn from effective practices, yours or someone else’s, in order to address these areas of potential growth?

Aim it: Gather your parish advisory group (committee, commission, task group) to reflect and discuss. Invite members to tell their stories of stewardship insights and challenges in living as a disciple and steward.

Together, give thanks to God for what has been, and ask for guidance, insight, blessing and strength as you discern future possibilities; celebrate the year that has been; acknowledge the gaps or areas in need of attention; plan new or enhanced strategies for calling people to grow as good stewards in the year that is just beginning. Our parish will grow in response to God’s grace and blessing and you and all with whom you minister will grow as servant leaders, stewards of the mysteries of God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stewardship in the New Year: Making Commitments to the Lord

 

Stewardship is a commitment of mind and heart to the Lord; a way of life that needs constant renewal and transformation.

This time of year has always been one of looking forward to a new year, reflecting on the changes we need to make in our lives and resolving to follow through on those changes. Perhaps those who seek to make resolutions to be better stewards might find inspiration in one or more of the following examples:

STEWARDSHIP OF FAMILY

Resolve to set aside more time to stay connected with your family. Eat dinner together, schedule regular dates with your spouse, plan family outings, and go to Mass together. Practice patience and forgiveness.

STEWARSHIP OF PRAYER

Resolve to strengthen your relationship with the Lord through prayer. Notice how often you pray and what hinders you from praying. If you are a beginner, commit to short, daily prayer times.

STEWARDSHIP OF MONEY

Resolve to render sacred your annual budget. Reprioritize your financial goals to ensure that the Lord comes first in your spending. Take positive steps to improve your financial health.

STEWARDSHIP OF NEIGHBOR

Resolve to be a person of hospitality and mercy. Make time and space for others who enter your life. Be more aware of those times when a neighbor, co-worker, fellow parishioner or stranger, needs a moment of kindness, a little attention or an affirming gesture on your part.

STEWARDSHIP OF WORK

Resolve to be faithful to your daily, work-related tasks and offer them up to the Lord. Cultivate your skills. Deepen your knowledge. Be mindful of how you are building the Kingdom of God.

STEWARDSHIP OF MIND

Resolve to keep your mind active. Commit to being more informed on the issues of the day. Read your Bible. In this presidential election year in the United States, become even more familiar with Catholic social teaching.

STEWARDSHIP OF POSSESSIONS

Resolve to possess a little more “lightly” this year. Consider ways you can reduce the amount of all that stuff you own. Distinguish between those items that are necessary and those that are considered luxurious and unnecessary.

STEWARDSHIP OF P ARISH FAMILY

Resolve to serve your faith community in some way this year such as at liturgy, in the parish’s outreach or education and formation efforts. Is it time to enhance your generosity to the parish?

STEWARDSHIP OF THE POOR

Resolve to live with more compassion and in solidarity with those less fortunate. Remember the poor in prayer, and commit to helping relieve in some way the plight of those who are impoverished or marginalized.

STEWARDSHIP OF HEALTH

Resolve to get those medical and dental checkups. Adopt healthier eating habits. Add exercise and other physical activity to your daily routine.

 

 

GOALS FOR THE NEW YEAR

Making resolutions for a new year is not, in itself, a bad thing.  What can be bad is not making meaningful resolutions.

Recently, my daughter-in-law (the wife of my sailor son, Jens)  and I co-hosted a Cookie Decorating Party and Brunch.

As we shared the meal, I was saying that I am trying to improve myself.  I am trying to learn that not everything must be done my way or even a specific way.  There are many people with great ideas and it really is okay if something is not exactly the same every year.  Trust me, this is a hard one for me but I know it will take a lot of stress out of my life if I learn to truly let go of things.

My brunch companion was surprised that I would talk about changing myself.  The way I see it, I am nowhere near perfect.   And it’s probably safe to say that you’re not either.  No disrespect intended.  I want to be as near perfect as I can be when God calls me home.  I at least want it known that I was making my best effort at it.  I have a long way to go, but as they say, every journey begins with a single step.

One of the things that I have always enjoyed is researching wise thoughts of those that have come before me.

The following thoughts were recorded by a Shawnee Native American named Techumseh (pronounced te-KUM-see), when he was near-death in 1813.  His native name means “Shooting Star” and by his words, I would say that he lived according to his name.

So live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart. 

Trouble no one about their religion; respect others in their view, and demand that they respect yours.

 Love your life, perfect your life, beautify all things in your life.

 Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people.

 When it comes your time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way.

 Sing your death song and die like a hero going home.

 

Ralph Waldo Emerson lived during most of the 19th century (1803-82).   He wrote many great works of literature that have endured the test of time.  I just recently “ran across” this quote that I found to be quite profound:

The purpose of life is not to be happy.  It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well. 

I couldn’t agree with him more.  I take his words as a great inspiration to me.  I remember about thirty years ago, I had a revelation that I wanted my life to really count for something.  I had just started a family and wanted to put every bit of effort into raising good people who could contribute to society when they got older.  But I also set out to find one place I could make a difference.  Because I had that conscious goal in mind, I have managed to leave some good behind.  But the effort must never stop; it should intensify.  With each  accomplishment, you need to be further encouraged to continue and leave an even bigger footprint.  The same should be true of your faith life.  Try to deepen your faith  and come closer to perfection every day.

 

CHRISTMAS IS A TIME TO THINK OF OTHERS

Thank you for coming to St. Mary, Star of the Sea Parish today for Mass to celebrate the Birth of Christ Jesus with your faith community.  We know that you could choose 1) to not go to Mass because Christmas is such a busy time or 2) to go to any other parish.  We are grateful and blessed that you are here.

I have been hearing  a lot of stories (from friends, co-workers, Catholic radio,  talk-show celebrities) about the abundance in our world, about children that get everything they need and most of what they want all year long.   Many have said that they are giving just one small gift to each child and taking the rest of the money they would have spent to sponsor a family who is less fortunate.

Members of our parish adopted twenty families this year.  When the families were interviewed, they were extremely humbled by being asked.  They were asked to suggest something they needed and something they wanted.

Most said they needed a blanket, or shoes, or a coat.  They usually ask for a blanket because they can’t afford to run the heater.  I know that we don’t live in COLD country, but 40 degrees in plenty cold!

Maybe you didn’t have the opportunity to sponsor a family this year at Christmas.  The BIG SECRET is that these families are in need all year long.

We currently have fifty families that come here each month for groceries.  We give them staple items for their pantries and a grocery store gift card ($20-25) to purchase fresh produce or dairy products.   It’s not that much.  To us.  It must help them quite a bit because they are so genuinely grateful.

We have 30-40 people who come every weekday for a nutritious sack lunch.  They receive a sandwich that was made fresh that same day by dedicated volunteers, a piece of fruit, something sweet, and a bottle of water.  This may be the only good food that this person gets all day.  Or they may be scamming and get food all over town, or they may be a beach bum.  But it’s not our place to judge.  We cheerfully give each person a lunch and tell them God Bless You!

The ministry that orchestrates these food-related projects is FEED MY PEOPLE.  There is always room for more people to help and if you cannot physically help out, a monetary donation would always be appreciated.

The flip side of looking beyond ourselves comes from a sense of GRATITUDE.    It comes when we look at our own lives, the opportunities we have had (and hopefully been wise enough to take), the graces we have been bestowed, the blessing of good people around us, and the strength to know when we need to ask for help.

We also recognize that we have been given a unique combination of gifts and talents to help us better love and serve the Lord and each other.

These are not gifts that come wrapped in a bow, but they are PRICELESS.  Unique to only you.  They are gifts that are meant to be used in all that we do and shared freely.  During Lent, we will have a Parish Mission that focuses on how to recognize our gifts.  Stay tuned.        Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

Christmas: A Stewardship Reflection on Abundance and Poverty

 

There’s no season quite so full of wild abundance as the Christmas season. Admit it, do you ever eat fudge or drink eggnog any other time of the year? Or expect a full grown tree to appear in your living room?

It’s a joyful, exuberant time, full of music, family, parties, good food, and friends. But every Christian steward knows that there’s a shadow side to abundance, particularly material abundance, which brings with it challenges. Amid the joy of Christmas, a good steward ponders these challenges.

Speaking at a conference in Mexico City in November, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia spoke of poverty and abundance. He was not speaking about the holiday season, but his words might help us to keep a clear perspective on the values of this time of year.

He cited the growing problem of poverty in the United States.  One in six Americans now lives below the poverty line, and the archbishop noted how many other problems accompany poverty:  “hunger, homelessness, street crime, domestic violence, unemployment, human trafficking.”

Often the poor among us become invisible, and poverty becomes a scourge of civil society.“  Poverty is an acid that destroys human kinship,” the archbishop said.

At the same time, Archbishop Chaput also spoke to the flip side of this issue – the poverty that comes with abundance. “I mean the moral poverty that comes from an advanced culture relentlessly focused on consuming more of everything; a culture built on satisfying the self; a culture that runs on ignoring the needs of other people.

That kind of poverty, as Saint Mother Teresa saw so well, is very much alive in my country,” the archbishop said.

These are important words, not words that are meant to cast a “bah humbug” spell delightfulness of the Christmas  season, but words that help bring us back to the true meaning of Christmas in its joy and abundance. Despite the great spiritual significance of this feast, we can sometimes let the season become a time of material excess. Christian stewards know that the true joy of Christmas is not tied in to the wealth of goods under the tree, but to the abundance of love and generosity that fill our hearts and spill out to others, especially those most in need of our generous spirit.

The Christian steward knows how important it is to take time during Advent, and throughout this holiday season, for silence and stillness, to make room in our hearts for the child born into poverty who came to give us life and share it with all those whom we encounter.

 

God is Good

Thank you all for your prayers and support as I traveled to Chicago on Thanksgiving week to see my son graduate from Navy Boot Camp.  I traveled with my daughter-in-law, Karen, and we arrived in Chicago a few days before graduation.  It was—literally—freezing cold.  We had a really nice time anyway and were told by a local waitress that it was “sweater weather”.  LOL!

The day before I left, I was at church all day handing out Advent Devotional books.  So I had Advent on my mind.  I was thinking about it being a season of giving, but not really about presents.  Giving thanks for all we have and all we are, giving praise to God for all His majesty, giving back to our families, our church, our community.

As we wandered the streets of Chicago, we were approached by a man who had seen better days.  He showed me a picture of his 10-year old daughter.  He said he just got out of rehab (for alcohol addiction) and had a half-way house lined up but it wouldn’t be available for 2 days.  It was already about 6 p.m. and getting even colder by the minute.  He went on to say that he had found a “flea bag hotel” that would take him, but he didn’t have the money for the night.  I hear these stories all the time in the Parish Office.  In Oceanside, a flea bag hotel costs about $60 for one night!  I gave the man a twenty.  I felt bad that I couldn’t give more, but at least it would help him reach his goal.   He wiped his eyes before the tears began falling and said that the hotel was $18.  He would have enough to get a cup of hot coffee!

The next morning, we were going to take a tour of the town that started at the Corner Bakery.  Just outside the front door was a man who had REALLY seen better days.  He had a donation cup in his hands.  I was walking past him and he said, “coffee with cream and 2 sugars?”   I returned a few minutes later with his coffee.  I think—in the short term—he was happier with the coffee so he could warm up.

That afternoon I was approached by a woman who had a suitcase and said she needed money for the train to get home to her family.  I gave her $10.

After these encounters, I thought about a story that we do not hear in Advent.  We hear it as we prepare for Easter.  It’s the story of Peter denying Jesus three times.  I gratefully thanked God that I was presented with the opportunity to affirm him (three times, of course).

My mother always said “there but for the grace of God go I”.  I think about that almost every day as I encounter so many people who are less fortunate  than I.  When I talk with them, I find that most have not chosen the path they are on.  Some have fallen victim to uncontrolled mental illness, others have become destitute from astronomical medical bills, others from a divorce.   Most are estranged from their families.   During this Season of Giving, please remember these people who are suffering daily from loneliness, hunger, the cold.   And thank God that you have been so richly blessed!

OK—you’ve been patient—the update on my son.  The graduation ceremony was full of pageantry, pomp and circumstance, patriotic pride, and proud families for their sons and daughters.

The moment I saw Jens, I could tell that my boy was now a man!  What a moment!  I’m sure everyone else was feeling the same thing.  It makes sense if you’ve sent off your recent high school graduate, but it was just as true for my 30 year old son.

Karen’s parents joined us for the day, and we all ate and talked and shared stories.  We wanted to know all the details, but of course, many are never to be shared.

After awhile, Jens and I were able to sit alone together.  He whispered that he would be getting  new dog tags when he reached Pensacola for his training.  They would indicate that he is a Catholic!    He, of course, shared this with his wife as well.  On the plane ride home, Karen told me that she was now open to having their marriage con-validated (civil marriage blessed by the Church).   TY God!

God is good.  He bestows so many blessings on us—some in our time and some in His time. Be patient and give thanks freely. (God is good!)

 

 

Be a Good Steward of the Advent and Christmas Seasons

 

December is such a busy time of year, and a month that tempts us to lose sight of the profound spiritual importance of the Advent and Christmas seasons. The best way to stay focused on the coming of Jesus Christ is to be good stewards of his presence in our daily lives. Here are simple ways to exercise good stewardship of this sacred time of year.

GIVE GOD A VERY SPECIAL GIFT THIS YEAR:  Let this gift be something personal that no one else needs to know about, and let it be a sacrifice. Perhaps your gift will be to commit to spending more time with God daily. Perhaps there is a habit you know you should give up. Why wait for a New Year’s resolution? Start now.

CELEBRATE THE SEASON OF ADVENT:  Light the Advent wreath candles each night before dinner. If you have children, let them offer their own prayers to the Christ child for whom we are waiting.

SET ASIDE A SPECIAL TIME TO READ THE CHRISTMAS STORY in the Gospel of Saint Luke 1:5-56 through 2:1-20: Consider reading this account with your family and discussing it together.

PUT UP A CRECHE IN YOUR HOME AT THE BEGINNING OF ADVENT:   Consider having one set that is “kid-proof” which your children are allowed to handle. Kids love to make the Nativity story their own, and they especially love the angels!

PLAN A PROJECT TO HELP SOMEONE THIS CHRISTMAS: Identify someone with a genuine need, involve your whole family and see how happy you can make someone this Christmas. Participate in your parish Adopt-a-Family program or call Catholic Charities or another charity and find a family through their programs. Make sure your children take part in shopping for a family who needs extra help and make them aware of the needs in your community.

TAKE A GROUP CHRISTMAS CAROLING TO A NURSING HOME OR CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL: Get people together. Make it festive. Bring the gifts of your joyful smiles and voices to those who may need these gifts.

GIVE A SURPRISE GIFT OF SERVICE TO EACH MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY:  The idea of giving an unexpected gift of service to members of your family reveals your own love and concern for them.

You might consider giving your spouse a day away, running an errand for your brother, or cleaning out a closet for your mother. Make it personal and meaningful.

SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS AND THANK YOU NOTES THAT CONVEY A SPIRITUAL MESSAGE:  This is an easy way to share your faith during the Advent season. Don’t just sign your name! Include a personal message with each card. Set aside some time after Christmas Day to write thank you notes and help your children to write thank you notes for the gifts they receive. This is a wonderful habit for a lifetime.

WRITE A CHRISTMAS LETTER TO SOMEONE FAR AWAY SUCH AS SOMEONE IN THE SERVICE, or perhaps someone working or ministering in a foreign country: It has been said that receiving a letter when you are far away from home is like opening a priceless gift on Christmas morning, no matter what day of the year. Many people are unable to travel home for the holidays, so it can be a very lonely time for them.

ATTEND CHRISTMAS MASS TOGETHER WITH YOUR FAMILY:  If you are alone this Christmas or don’t have family living near you, invite a friend or a neighbor to join you.

Thank God for the Power of Prayer

I want to share a personal story.  Maybe even a little more personal than I usually do.  It involves my son.

First, I want to say that I have conversations with so many people who say that their adult children no longer practice their Catholic Faith.  And what a heartache that can be to a parent who did everything in their power to instill the love of God and Church in their children.

So, to start this story I want to say that we all know that everything happens in GOD’S TIME.   He is not encumbered with clocks and calendars like we are.  It is all eternal time.  So it may seem like a long time to have a prayer answered, but to God the time is just right!

Two months ago, I sat with my son all day as he prepared (waited) to be shipped off to the Naval Training Center on Lake Michigan.   In conversation, I asked him if a sailor wears a dog tag.  (My only frame of reference is the Marine Corps in which my daddy served.)  He said yes, they do…funny you should ask.  They had just asked him about his religious preference and he told them NONE.  My heart sank.  He’s a cradle Catholic, attended Catholic school, and has always seen religion being practiced around him.

He has always continued to identify as a Catholic but, as an adult, has not practiced his faith regularly. He said he didn’t want to be a hypocrite and say that he was a Catholic when he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain.

I reminded him of the story of the Prodigal Son and assured him that there would be much rejoining when he came back.

I gave him a Soldier’s rosary (woven thread with no metal) and he said he would carry it in his pocket.

I got my first letter from him after a few weeks and he said that he had attended Mass and that “it felt really good”.  He shared that the homily had really made him think about some things in his life and he was quite moved by it.

And then, the pièce de résistance, is that the chaplain handed out bibles as they left the chapel.  As a recruit, he’s not allowed any reading material other than religious.  So, he’s reading the bible now.

I shared my opinion that the bible can be rather daunting if you just start at the first page and try to plow through it.  I encouraged him to let the Spirit direct him and feel free to just open to a random page.

(Of course, the beauty of it is that it may seem random to us, but we are certainly being directed to a passage that will be very meaningful at that given moment.)

I haven’t received another letter from him.  He’s tried to call several times, but I was on vacation and out of cell phone range.  I believe in my heart that he is continuing this path.    And really, even if today isn’t the day, this experience has made a positive impact on his journey.  Tomorrow I’ll fly to Chicago to watch him graduate from Boot Camp!  I couldn’t be more proud of him!

As a side note, I have often talked about the little things that can make a big impact on someone.  While I was on vacation, I sent my son at least one, and sometime up to five postcards every day for 14 days.  I started each one with the day number (DAY 1…).  I knew he would want to put them in chronological order.  I just shared the usual postcard drivel, told him I loved him and was praying for him.  The cost the minimal.    I knew it would make him happy and that he would feel very loved and not forgotten.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to do Random Acts of Kindness.  Try every day.  And thank God for answering your prayers.

 

FINANCIAL STEWARDSHIP

Testimonial Continued…

 FEEL THE FEAR

And pull back a little. Do what takes you just up to that fear. Be gentle with yourself. Why would you deliberately want to put yourself into fear mode? Does that serve you? Will that serve the world? Giving 10% of my gross income, when I have received a decent pay check puts me into fear mode. Website reviews on money & credit repair, showed me how to manage debt, like prestige financial  — and assuage my fears and figure out ways to improve my credit.

So, right off the bat, I felt like I could not tithe 10% every single time. I seem to have a limit. While I am exploring this idea, I give what I can. If I have no fear of tithing 10%, when I receive $100 or $200, I give the 10%. When I feel fear, I tithe at 1%. Lately I’m at about 3%. I’m ‘stretching the spiritual muscles’ and I have confidence in myself that I will be capable of tithing the full 10% of ALL my gross income, in the future.

DO IT RIGHT AWAY

When you receive income, calculate how much money you ‘get’ to give back. Even when the amount seems huge to me, I delight in being able to easily give in the future. It builds your ‘generosity muscles’.

“I received $1,000 this week! I ‘get’ to give my spiritual center $100!” Try it on for awhile if you’re not there yet.

I’m certainly not, but I delight in the feelings of being there.

I imagine how great it feels to give that $100 in tithe. I imagine all the goodness that $100 provides for others. I practice this visualization until it becomes a reality. Everything begins with imagination.

PRACTICE CONSISTENCY

If all you can give without freaking out is 1%, give 1% regularly for awhile. Avoid the roller coaster of giving 1% one week, because that’s all you feel comfortable with, and 3% or 5% next week because THAT feels okay at the time. You want to aim for consistency. You want to be gentle with yourself. When you feel capable of giving 5% one week, but nothing the next week, how does that make you feel? You don’t need to create this kind of drama for yourself. It’s much better to spread your contributions out, at a consistent level.

You want to aim to be able to freely and joyfully give, without fear. Aim to freely and joyfully give 1% each week, for a month.  Then try (consistently) to freely and joyfully give 3% for the next month. Even if one week you feel you can give 10%, resist doing so. Consistency is important.

Another way to ensure consistency, is by taking stock of your finances to see if you can manage or minimize debts.Website information on how to do this can be found on credit repair or personal finance forums.

 JUST GIVE

Avoid thinking about – or tracking – what you get in return for tithing. Doing so is a mentality of lack and will not serve you. The aim is to freely and joyfully give, knowing that the Universe is abundant. Have faith and confidence that what you give is multiplied, and returned to you in abundance. Learn to graciously give and learn to graciously receive.  If you are still not sure about tithing, I encourage you to do some research into this practice. In meditation or prayer, ask the Spirit to provide you with resources to deepen your understanding. The practice of tithing has helped me shift my perspective on finances, significantly. And it still IS practice – I am not yet capable of freely and joyfully giving a full 10% of my income.

I do aim to be capable of doing this, because my spiritual center matters a great deal to me. It’s important that I not give up on this. To NOT give indicates that I believe there is limited resources from which to draw upon. I believe Spirit is everything, therefore, Spirit is my one and only source. I choose to give, knowing the Universe/Spirit provides abundantly and I am open to receive it.