To Be Forgiven 04/20/2012
 
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Welcome to my blog. To be forgiven is truly a wonderful blessing, but I learned a powerful lesson about the desire and attitude of being forgiven from the most uncanny of sources. I hope you enjoy today's story. May God richly bless you always.
Charlotte Volnek

To Be Forgiven


Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he handed it to them saying, ‘Drink from this, all you, for this is my blood, the blood of the covenant, pour out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’

                        ~Matthew 26: 27-28

Usually, for your 25th Wedding Anniversary you get something silver. Just the thought of that ritual made me feel old. I didn’t want silver. And my wonderful husband knew that and surprised me instead with the gift I did want... a fuzzy wiggly Papillon puppy. All puppies are cute of course, but Noah stole the hearts of everyone in our family. A puppy…full of spirit, joy and love. He loved everyone and knew no strangers, only friends he hadn’t met yet. He picked up tricks as fast as I could teach them to him and became the root of much laughter in our house. 

But, Noah wasn’t without his mischievous side. He was a puppy after all.

That summer we enjoyed having our son, Chris, come home for his short break from the Naval Academy. He brought his play station and spent quality down time playing his favorite games on the TV in our living room. This was a luxury that he was not allowed at the Academy and he seemed at his happiest. But one day as Chris went to play his game, he noticed a ragged cord lying broken across the living room floor. Noah had chewed the power cable in two.

"MOM," a loud yell erupted. Chris was furious. He fumed at Noah and stormed through the house in search of me... as if I could magically mend this shredded cord. Noah followed, bouncing merrily. And the more Noah followed Chris, the madder Chris became. "Bad dog," he yelled at Noah. My puppy lowered his ears in a pitifully sad look. No one had ever been this angry with him.

Chris went around the house trying to find other things to entertain himself. Noah followed. Chris tried ignoring him, but the little puppy followed him everywhere. If Chris would look Noah's direction, the puppy would wag his tail in hopeful response.

When Chris went to the kitchen for a snack, Noah was at his heels, watching patiently. When Chris sat down, Noah was there. When Chris would head to the bathroom, Noah followed and sat diligently at the door until Chris came back out.

Chris watched the sorrowful puppy for a good part of the day, trying his best to ignore him. But try as he might, he could not maintain his anger toward our little dog, and finally Chris could take it no longer and laughed. Noah wagged his tail, his whole body wiggling with joy. The puppy was forgiven and his joy could not be contained. Chris opened his arms and my puppy jumped into them without hesitation, licking Chris' face, hands, anything his doggy tongue could reach, with the purest of happiness.

I thought about how wonderful it was of Chris to forgive Noah. How happy it had made my little puppy. Then I thought... am I that happy when my Heavenly Father opens His arms with His forgiveness. Lord knows I have much to be forgiven for. Do I follow Him with the same desire in hopes of gaining that forgiveness? Do I wiggle with excitement as our merciful Savior offers me pardon so that I may one day obtain the glory of eternal life?

Noah perched beside Chris, a happy doggy smile covering his fuzzy face, unaware of the valuable lesson he’d just taught me. I must not take the precious gift of our Lord's forgiveness for granted. I must be as diligent and remorseful as Noah. And then I must be truly jubilant when given the wonderful gift of forgiveness and revel in the glorious mercy God will bestow on me.

Then, maybe I can be as truly happy as Noah.

(In Memory of Noah. Rest In Peace my joyful pup. They say that heaven is filled with all the things that make us happy. So I pray I will see you again. May you be bringing as many smiles to Jesus and Mary and you did to our family.)

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Today, I hope you enjoy this short story of reflection and pray you hear His voice within.  Thanks for sharing my day!

He Was Talking To Me

I sat at the golden gates of heaven, alone and afraid. The gates were closed. Could I not get in? Then an angel appeared and sat down beside me.

"Where is God," I asked tearfully. "I have been calling and calling for him. Why has he not heard me?"

"He's here," the angel said softly. "But are you ready to meet Him?"

"Of course," I said, a bit indignant. "I'm a faithful, loving Christian. I go to church every Sunday."

The angel nodded in agreement. "But have you heard Him calling you?"     

"God calling me?” I asked. “God has never called me." 

“What about when God asked you to be a friend to the friendless?" the angel asked. "Do you remember a young lady you met on the street, lost and alone, asking for directions? She needed a friend that day, just a few kind words. Did you hear God calling you to acknowledge her, not to ignore her?"

"I didn't realize he was talking to me," I said.

"And what about feeding the hungry?" the angel continued. "Did you hear God calling when your pastor asked for people to donate food or time so the hungry in your community could be fed?"

"I didn't realize he was talking to me," I said again.

"Did you help those less fortunate?" the angel asked. "A family in your town lost everything in a fire. Did you hear God calling you to help when they asked for donations?"

"I didn't realize he was talking to me," I said, an ache building in my heart.

"And what about sharing the Glory of God's word?" the angel asked.  "A young man came to you, asking for advice. Did you hear God calling you to comfort him with the certainty that the Almighty loves and cares about him? Did you pray for him?"

I hung my head. "I didn't realize he was talking to me."

A glorious figure walked by on the golden path in front of me. The angel turned and bowed in front of him and I knew in an instant that it was the Lord, my God. My heart fluttered and anticipation replaced the ache inside me. But He walked on by.

"My God," I called. "Have you forgotten me? I have been here so long, crying and alone. I need you! I have been calling and calling for you. Did you not hear me?"

"Oh," God replied. "I didn't realize you were talking to me."

….“Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” Hebrews 4:7


 
The Kind Prince 04/06/2012
 
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There once was a good and kind prince who adored his people. He showered them with goodness; feeding them, clothing them, curing their ills and spending time with them, teaching them the principles and wisdom of the kingdom. Though the prince was of royal lineage, he wore no arrogance or vanity and instead came to people as a simple man, sharing many a modest meal of bread and wine, promoting the meek and humble.

In turn, the prince’s subjects flocked to him, seeking his service, his comfort, his aid. Little children played with him, their small voices twinkling with laughter, mixing with the rich amusement of the prince’s own voice. From the mountains to the ocean; from hills, to desert, to rich farmland, the prince ventured to be with his people.

But despite the prince’s love of his people, a grumbling began to erupt. Suspicion and distrust grew. Some did not like his kind and gentle ways. They were scared of him and how the people followed him. They growled to each other, declaring the prince must be stopped..stopped before he could change the world as they knew it. Even though, the prince claimed the world would be better, these people did not believe. The grumble grew to a murmur, then to a whine and a yowl— finally ending in a loud roar, swallowing the people in hate and rage.

The prince was aware of the mutiny swelling within his people, but in his attitude of love and forgiveness, he continued to reach out to his subjects. He meekly accepted their invitation as they welcomed him into their city, breaking bread with them, celebrating the holiday and continuing his mission to share the king’s design, all the while knowing a horrible crime was about to be committed; a crime that would lead to his ultimate doom, a torturous and violent death. And it would commence at the hand of one of his most beloved friends. Even though the pain in his heart was great, the prince allowed himself to fall into the trap, to be mocked and ridiculed, handed over to be murdered by the people he loved the most. He became a sacrifice, forgiving his offenders and offering a future for those who would turn to him in his death.

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By now, I’m sure you have guessed the prince in my story is our own Prince of Peace, our Lord Jesus Christ. I can’t help but be moved today, on this the most holy of Christian holidays, Good Friday. What a travesty. What a tremendous transgression against our good and kind prince. Why? Why would the Heavenly Father allow this good Prince to die? But I only have to look in the mirror to know.

At last night’s Holy Thursday mass, I watched the reenactment of the Lord washing his disciple’s feet. I was instantly overcome with a feeling of unworthiness. I tried to find some comfort, remembering the reflection my dear husband had shared me…the incredible symbolism of the washing of the feet. He shared...

At Peter’s rejection of having the Lord wash his feet, Jesus said, “Unless I wash you, you will have no part of me.” 

Peter responded, “Then Lord, not just my feet, but my head and hands as well.” 

I can only imagine Jesus’ smile as he answered once again to Peter.  “A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet.” 

I can picture Peter sitting back, puzzled by the Lord’s riddle. The bath Jesus spoke of is baptism. At that, we are washed clean and receive the blessing to be a part of Jesus’ life. But we still walk among sin, the grime and stains sticking to our feet. Though our body is cleaned, we need to wash our feet…and can do so by confessing to our Lord and accepting his washing waters of forgiveness.

I smiled at the reflection, but the unworthiness remained. Even though I loved my Lord, I couldn’t imagine him ever washing my feet. My sins are too great. Too many times, I am ignorant and arrogant, unworthy of the Lord’s modest gesture of cleansing.  How could I ever be worthy of that? A small voice whispered to me, quiet and hushed like a feather in the wind. Jesus spoke to my heart… “Come to me, sit with me and let me love you. You are worthy because you are mine.” 

May the Lord keep you and bless you as we reflect on Jesus’ death and celebrate his resurrection, his glorious gift of salvation. Have a blessed Easter.