The Sheep and The Shepherd

This is Shrek the sheep. He became famous several years ago when he was found after hiding out in caves for six years. Of course, during this time his fleece grew without anyone there to shorn (shave) it. When he was finally found and shaved, his fleece weighed an amazing sixty pounds. Most sheep have a fleece weighing just under ten pounds, with the exception usually reaching fifteen pounds, maximum. For six years, Shrek carried six times the regular weight of his fleece. Simply because he was away from his shepherd.

This reminds me of John 10 when Jesus compares Himself to a shepherd, and His followers are His sheep. Maybe it’s a stretch, but I think Shrek is much like a person who knows Jesus Christ but has wandered. If we avoid Christ’s constant refining of our character, we’re going to accumulate extra weight in this world—a weight we don’t have to bear.

When Shrek was found, a professional sheep shearer took care of Shrek’s fleece in twenty-eight minutes. Shrek’s sixty pound fleece was finally removed. All it took was coming home to his shepherd.

I believe Christ can lift the burdens we carry, if only we stop hiding. He can shave off our ‘fleece’—that is, our self-imposed burdens brought about by wandering from our Good Shepherd.

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

 

 

Remember Humility

Let me not boast, Lord God, about my accomplishments in your service. What good I have done has been due to your help, grace, and inspiration. Let me be aware of your assistance through fidelity, honesty, courage, and faith. If I am at peace both with myself and with others, it is due mainly to your help in keeping me from bitterness, hate, or jealousy. Let my kindness to others reflect your kindness to me. – Rev William Simmons, CSC

What Matters to God

The following is a letter from a parishioner from the Nativity of Our Lady Catholic Church  in San Luis Obispo, CA that appeared in their August 2010 Sunday Church bulletin. It is in reference to the Eighteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. We wanted to share it, as we were moved and how it will move you, too. You can read the five most recent bulletins at the church’s website: http://www.nativityslo.org/.

Greg and I have a friend whose garage has a large poster of a sleek red Ferrari, with a caption that reads, “The one who dies with the most toys wins.” Our friend has an enormous home, beautifully decorated, and all the “toys” to go with it – a pool, several sports cars, a boat, some jet skis, an airplane, and even another home for vacations. You’d think that his life is full of the joy of play, but of course he has to work extremely hard to pay for all this stuff. And in fact, when he’s not working, our friend spends most of his time MAINTAINING the stuff – cleaning, storing, repairing, painting, and otherwise tending to all of his possessions rather than enjoying them. We rarely see him relaxed.

If that’s winning, I think I’ll pass. And yet, it’s so easy to get caught up in the race to “die with the most toys.” I can’t even hold up our friend as a bad example, because if I had his wealth, I’m afraid that I might also want to collect a lot of fabulous stuff! Perhaps many of us are prone to being like the rich man in today’s gospel from Luke, who builds ever-bigger barns to store all his accumulated “grains and other goods,” only to hear the voice of God calling him to account: “You fool, this night your life will be demanded of you; and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?”

The point, of course, is that the one who dies with the most toys … well … DIES. And then someone else gets the toys! True wealth, as Jesus reminds us in this parable, is found in “what matters to “God.” Fortunately, Luke’s gospel names the things that matter to God: prayer, honesty, generosity, mercy, love for the other – qualities that won’t be taken away, but are given to us by God to cherish and share.

Peace,

Deborah Wilhelm – Nativity Parishoner

The 12 Most Tissue-Worthy Wedding Stories Of 2013

Because I just got recently married and I have many friends that are getting married, I find stories like this bring a big smile to my eyes. Nothing beats marrying a person you love but the stories behind these wedding stories just add more icing to the cake. Enjoy!

Credit:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/04/touching-wedding-stories_n_4538976.html

By Stefania Sainato for Bridal Guide

This past year, we profiled extraordinary couples who triumphed and overcame all odds to get married, as well as those who opened their hearts and helped those in need. Their kindness, resilience and unwavering courage serves as a reminder of what’s truly important on the wedding day.

12. Sailor marries high school sweetheart in Reno Airport

After being stationed overseas in Syria, Navy sailor Dylan Ruffer couldn’t stand to waste another moment being apart from Madison Meinhardt — they wanted to get married right away. When he landed at Reno-Tahoe International Airport on Nov. 19th, he was shocked to realize that his wish had been granted.

His fiancée planned a surprise wedding with the help of airport employees, who were so touched by the couple’s story that they even decorated the reception area for them (which was held at the baggage claim), complete with catering, a cake and a DJ.

 

11. Marine’s sky-high wedding “toast”

Matthew Krivohlavy, currently deployed overseas, couldn’t attend his brother’s wedding in Austin, Texas, so the Marine pilot did the next best thing — he taped a video “toast” from the cockpit of his Harrier jet.

Like any fabulous wedding toast, he mentioned how special both the groom and bride (Mandy Takacs) are to him, and he offered memorable wedding advice. At the end of the video, he does a 360-degree roll in the sky!

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10. Dad overcomes stroke in time to walk his daughter down the aisle

Walter Schupp Jr. suffered a massive stroke this past May, just one month before his daughter Victoria Torres’s wedding was scheduled to take place. She and her family members made the difficult choice to have him undergo a highly risky operation. Against all odds, he began to show signs of progress and he learned how to speak and walk again with the help of a walker.

“This was a miracle; he went from nearly dying to walking and talking a little bit in about a month! I got married on June 8th, and I couldn’t have been happier to have my father present and able to walk me down the aisle,” writes Torres.

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9. Paralyzed bride walks down the aisle

When Stevie Beale was just 17 years old, a car accident paralyzed her from the waist down. “[After the accident] I thought I was doomed to my parents’ house, to never have a boyfriend or never get married,” Beale told Today.com.

Seven years later, she fulfilled a promise that she made to herself after she was injured and she walked down the aisle towards her groom, Jared VanAusdale. He “cried like a baby in front of 300 people” when his wife achieved her goal after months of grueling physical therapy sessions.

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8. 92-year-old fulfills lifelong dream

Ruth Sullivan married her husband Norman in 1946, and she never had the chance to wear a grand wedding dress, like she had hoped. Sadly, he passed away in 2004, but throughout their 58-year marriage, Ruth always wondered “What If?”

Thanks to the help of Second Wind Dreams — a foundation whose goal is to change the perception of aging — and David’s Bridal, she enjoyed a fun-filled day trying on beautiful wedding gowns with her loved ones in attendance.

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7. Canceled wedding turns into triumph for the homeless

When Tamara Fowler’s wedding was canceled just 40 days before it was supposed to take place, she and her family didn’t want the 200-guest reception they had already paid for go to waste, so they hosted an event for a homeless charity. The event was named the First Annual Fowler Family Celebration of Love, and the family hopes to host an even larger event next year.

“She [Tamara] was very delighted to see and know that others had an opportunity to enjoy something rather than just allow it to go to waste,” says Tamara’s mother.

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6. 911 dispatcher saves one couple’s wedding day

Bride Amanda [she declined to publish her last name] had her wedding gown stolenon the morning of her nuptials in Washington, DC. She called 911 to report the theft, and Candice, the dispatcher who answered the call, couldn’t help but sympathize, having gotten married herself just 18 months earlier.

“All I kept thinking was, ‘I have a wedding dress. Maybe she could wear that,” she told Good Morning America. She lent the bride her gown and miraculously, it fit and she was able to walk down the aisle as planned!!

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Photo Credit: Yahoo Shine

5. Triple wedding held in honor of dying mom

Cancer patient Becky Swales always hoped that all three of her daughters would get married. On Oct. 13th, her dream came true when she watched her girls — Sarah, Kaylee, and Jodie — say “I do” in unison. The sisters were already engaged before their mom’s health deteriorated and they decided to wed all at once so that she would be able to experience this life-changing moment with them.

Just 12 hours later, she lost her four-year battle with the disease. Prior to her passing, Dad Otis told FOX5 that she was “the love of my life, so it’s hard, but I’m proud of my daughters.”

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4. A heartwarming father/daughter dance

Rachel Wolf’s father/daughter dance on July 20th was everything she hoped it would be — the only thing missing was a groom to watch on. Her dad, Dr. John Wolf, suffers from terminal pancreatic cancer.

Regretting that he would never get to take part in her big day — yet not wanting to pressure her current boyfriend to propose — she came up with the idea to host a special dance now that she can record and play at her future nuptials someday.

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3. Bride with cancer receives fantasy wedding

After being diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer, Jen Bulik decided to marry her boyfriend, Jeff Lang, as soon as possible in a low-key ceremony. Pro wedding planner Erica Ota was so moved by their story that she decided to give them a wedding they could only dream about.

With only two weeks to plan, she secured more than $50,000 worth of donations from 65 vendors and the couple got married on July 27th surrounded by family members and friends. Sadly, Bulik lost her battle with cancer in October.

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2. Dad recreates wedding photos with his daughter

Ben Nunery wanted to find a way to remember the happy times that he had shared with his late wife, Ali, who passed away in 2011 from a rare form of lung cancer. So he asked his sister-in-law, Melanie Pace, a professional photographer, to take some photos of him and his three-year-old daughter, Olivia.

Pace shot the couple’s original wedding photos back in 2009 and she was able to recreate some of their favorite snapshots, substituting the bride for Olivia. “I hope that people can see it as evidence of a love that Ali and I shared that is still very deep, [and] that love carries on, and it doesn’t die,” Ben told Today.com.

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1. Boston Marathon bombing victim finds love where he least expects it

James Costello, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing who suffered burns to his arms and legs, could have never anticipated that the worst day of his life would lead to him discovering his soulmate. During his recovery, he fell in love with one of his nurses, Krista D’Agostino, and he proposed to her earlier this month during a European vacation held in honor of the survivors.

“I now realized why I was involved in the tragedy. It was to meet my best friend, and the love of my life,” Costello wrote in a Facebook post.

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Buy The Milk

Originally seen at: http://www.inspire21.com/stories/faithstories/buythemilk

A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor had spoken about “listening to God and obeying the Lord’s voice.”

The young man couldn’t help but wonder, “Does God still speak to people?” After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and they discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways. It was about ten o’clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray,”God, if you still speak to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey.”

driving through town at nightAs he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said out loud, “God is that you?” He didn’t get a reply, so he started on toward home. But again, the thought came to him… buy a gallon of milk.

The young man thought about Samuel, and how he didn’t recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. “Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk.” It didn’t seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. So, he stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started toward home.

As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, “Turn down that street.” This is crazy, he thought, and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street. At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, “Okay, God, I will”.

He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi-commercial area of town. It wasn’t the best, but it wasn’t the worst of neighborhoods either. The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark, like people were already in bed.

gallon of milkAgain, he sensed something, “Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street.” The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. “Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid.”

Again, he felt like he should go and give the milk. Finally, he opened the door and said, “Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but, if they don’t answer right away, I am out of here.”

He walked across the street and rang the bell. He could hear some noise inside. A man’s voice yelled out, “Who is it? What do you want?” Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn’t seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep.

The man asked, “What is it?”

The young man thrust out the gallon of milk and said, “Here, I brought this to you,” he said. The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. man holding crying babyThe man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking and half crying, “We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn’t have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk.” His wife in the kitchen yelled out,”I ask him to send an angel with some. Are you an Angel?”

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put it in the man’s hand. Then he turned and walked back toward his car and tears were streaming down his face. He knew then that God does still speak to people… and answer prayers.