Category: Living Beyond Sunday Blog

Living Life Alone (Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids)

When children are born, they are one of the most helpless creatures on Earth. They need someone to feed them, keep them warm, and keep them safe. This responsibility usually falls on the shoulders of their parents and – most often – their mother. The bond between a mother and her child is undeniably strong. It starts at conception and it continues to build throughout a person’s life. This love is one of God’s greatest gifts. It has been my perception that a child will always seek out their mother and will continue to return to her even if it is detrimental to their live. Sometimes the child needs and wants mom so badly they cannot see how harmful the relationship is to them, and sometimes the child is filling the role of mom for the mom.

 

While waiting for her number to be called at the social security office, the young lady with me was eager to share some of her story. It was a story of mental illness, and abuse. Now 17, she has spent the last 2 years in state custody and has not seen her mother since. She slowly told me about the last time she saw her mother, it was when “she tried to kill me and my twin brother”. Her mother is bipolar and her condition is exacerbated by a drug problem.  Although this young lady is behind on high school credits she hopes to graduate and go on to nursing school. BUT the first thing she would like to do when she turns 18 is move back home with mom.

 

Mothers LoveAnother example of the maternal bond is a young lady who aged out of the system. Last year she graduated from high school, turned 18 and immediately moved back in with her mother. What kept this girl in the group home for 6 years? It was not a healthy parent. Why did she go back into the exact same situation she was taken from? The answer was simply “that’s my mom”.

 

These two children have mothers who love them, even with their faults; to them they will always be “mom”.

 

I have a shocking story of a very troubled young lady. She was removed from her parents because she was acting out with drugs, sex and violence. She needed counseling badly but the parents couldn’t, or wouldn’t, help her with private counseling and the State couldn’t help because she didn’t exist. You see, she was born in a motel room, and there was no record of her birth. No birth certificate and no social security number – both of which are required in order to receive state sponsored help. Into the foster care system she went, so that she could receive the court mandated counseling. Whenever I saw this child, at the time she was 15, there always seemed to be a dark cloud over her – she was obviously troubled. The girl told me she was alone in the world, and that she was raised by someone who called himself her father. She said that she did not have a mother and without that maternal bond and felt broken and alone. Now here is the weird part, it is hard to believe, but sadly it is true. The man who called himself her father was actually her biological mother and the father’s girlfriend was actually her father. The bond between mother and child had been severed when she was very young and vulnerable, leaving her with an identity crisis, seemingly unsurmountable.

 

I don’t want to sound crass or backward. but I truly cannot understand this sort of behavior. I understand that people have their demons like drugs and alcohol, and struggle with mental instability but mentally abusing your child in this way is beyond my comprehension. They essentially shattered this girl’s life for what, personal satisfaction? She was a child who had God’s gift of motherly love slowly torn from her as she watched the transformation of her parents. I hope and pray that she allows herself to receive God’s love and grace. She ran away from the group home and now is in juvenile detention. What will be the cost of her survival, and will she ever be whole again? Sadly, I don’t believe I will ever know the answer. It is in God’s hands now. We will pray for her and be here for her if she ever comes back.

 

We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.

 

That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about; helping with love in any way we can.

No thanks. I’m a Christian (For the Love of Kids Ministry Blog)

It is important to “be” with children, especially the ones stuck in the foster care system.

 

One of the most important jobs as a parent, grandparent and child mentor is to listen. This has taken me years and years to figure out. I have always been an eagle, a man of action. I see a problem and my first instinct is to fix it – to charge ahead, to say, “This is what you need to do, and this is how you need to do it.” What I needed to do most of the time was to stop and listen, let the story come out, and let them speak. You know, when you talk about a problem you are having and someone offers some probing questions, the answer usually shows itself organically.

 

Early on in our relationship with our young ladies we invited them to events at St Patrick. The first real event was two years ago when we hosted a Thanksgiving feast in Fenlon Hall. It was a wonderful afternoon that started off with the girls making cards of encouragement and thanks to be distributed with the “bags of compassion” at Christmas. The cards were a true testament of the love and feelings that dwell within these young women. Following the feast was an evening of song. The girls loved to sing and they had prepared songs for our pleasure. There wasalso lots of impromptu singing. There was no fighting and no bickering. The warmth and harmony was palpable between these two groups of girls who didn’t always get along.

 

2017-03-04 10.57.45Over Christmas, we invited the girls back to St. Patrick to enjoy the caroling and fellowship– and, of course, cookies! (It is always best to end an evening with cookies!) Over the next few visits with each of the homes, we discussed their visits to the church. The overall reaction was mixed; some were not sure if they wanted to come back.

 

A beautiful young girl of 16 with a sing song voice, heavily laden with a Spanish accent, pointed out the elephant in the room, why they didn’t wish to go to our Catholic church, and as crazy as it sounded to me it was not the last time we encountered this misperception. She started the conversation with “No thanks. I am a Christian.” She added an observation that Catholics “worship Mary.” No matter how hard we tried, we could not get past this road block. We stopped trying to explain with words what we believed, and over the following two years we demonstrated what we believed. We listened to their stories, showed up at their games and concerts but, most importantly, we did not go away. We gained their trust by just “being” there for them, with them. As new girls come, they see the trust, that bond we have developed with all of the girls in the house which makes it a quick transition to gain their trust.

 

Recently Joanne, one of our ministers, set up a morning retreat (“Beautifully Broken”) for the girls in two of the homes. There was some apprehension on our part about bringing the kids together for a morning of sharing. You never know what will happen when you get the kids together, let alone at our church on a Saturday! Actually, as we walked into the church that morning one of the girls turned to me and said, “This feels weird. Why are we here on a Saturday?” My apprehension quickly disappeared as the girls started their first icebreaker exercise. The Lord reached into those girls’ hearts that day and created a wonderfully soulful day of sharing God’s grace. After lunch, the girls went back to their lives with a better understanding of their self-worth, and a new understanding of us and our beliefs. As we all left that day, tears and hugs flowed freely, with nobody wanting it to end.

 

We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.

 

That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about: helping with love in any way we can.

Wins & Losses (For the Love of Kids Ministry Blog)

Life is often viewed as a series of wins and losses

It is said that “it is the little things in life that count” but is that really true? As you watched your children take their first step was that a wow moment?  A win? Their first homerun, first touchdown, their first anything – was it a win? Conversely was their first fall a loss? Their first strikeout, break up, first anything painful – was it a loss?

Sometimes we make our own choices that create the wins and losses. But sometimes it is our parents’ choices that become our wins and, sadly, our losses.

I have trouble writing this because I personally don’t believe life is measured by wins and losses. I believe the first fall is a win. The first fall is a win because it gives us a reason to get back up and try again. I believe in wins, in personal growth, and in trial and error. Trial and error is learning and learning is winning. As a coach I would tell my players “you can do this.” I wasn’t lying to them or misleading them, even if I knew they would strike out (as they often do). Rather I hoped to give them the confidence to fail and the confidence to win.

Through the For Love of Kids Ministry, we deal with children who have been told “they can’t,” “they won’t.” They have heard all their lives that “they are losers,” that this is “who they are” and “this is where they are going.” They are told this so much that some stop trying. However, sometimes the kids are stronger than the situation. With a little love and understanding they start to truly believe in themselves and trust in the ones who reach out to help. Sometimes they believe the coach when they say ”you can do this.” When this happens, life is amazing! I love to see when that light turns on in their eyes and their smiles are as big as the full moon – all shiny and bright.

We had a win like that. Her name is Brittney. The odds are still stacked against her. But she is winning!

Just before Brittney’s 18th birthday we were sitting around talking about her future when we discovered that she was not enrolled in the state’s young adult support system. The state’s young adult support system allows children in the foster care system to continue receiving state assistance until they turn 21. I made a few calls and I was able to get her into the program – easy peasy for me, life changing for her. We showed her we were willing to help and with one simple act of kindness she knew we cared, and the walls she had built to protect herself started to crumble.

Brittany finished out her senior year of high school while living in the group home. Sadly, she didn’t have enough credits to graduate. This is a common problem with children in foster care as they usually bounce from school to school losing credits every time. After she finished high school, she still she wanted to get out on her own so she tried living with her sister to save up money to get her own apartment. This was not a good idea – going back into an unmanageable situation is never a good idea. Fortunately, she called and asked for help. She wanted a job that she would enjoy and her own place. Well her dream job, at the time, was she wanted to work at Victoria’s Secret! I just happened to know a regional manager of Victoria’s Secret!  I set up the interview and she did the rest! They LOVED her and we were so proud of her! In order to get to the interview, she had to ride her bike and take four buses. (Now, keep in mind this was happening in August in the Arizona heat.  I did meet her afterwards, once, to give her and her bike a ride back home.)

The next week we toured dozens of apartment complexes until we found one Brittany could comfortably afford: a nice studio apartment, which was empty! So we worked on filling it with donated furniture from Ann, one of our ministers, and $350 worth of supplies purchased with a grant from Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (http://www.affcf.org). They also provided a grant so she could attend a driving school!

brittanys carToday, Brittany is still living in the apartment. She loves her job and has since been promoted. She has saved enough to buy her first car and is loving life.

We are still with Brittany, not so much in person, but always in our prayers. We text back and forth every once in a while. She is a very busy 20 year old WINNER! She knows we are and will always be here for her for whatever comes up.

We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.

That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about, helping with love in any way we can.

Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids (#2)

Hello, my name is Mark.

I am a parent, grandparent, and I have been a foster parent. Because of these roles that I play within my own family, I actively advocate for family values. I speak out on prevalent issues such as child abuse and child prostitution. Most importantly, my wife and I are the founding Ministers of the ”For the Love of Kids” Ministry at St. Patrick Catholic Community.

As the youngest of eight children, I have never been overly fond of little kids. Don’t get me wrong I loved spending time with my own children – watching them grow, coaching their sports teams, teaching them their sacraments – but my patience for other children was always a bit thin. However, my outlook on life changed in 2012 when my wife and I joined our first JustFaith class. JustFaith slowly changed the way I view not only the world but also others as human beings, God’s Creations.

I tell you this because as a minister of “For the Love of Kids” Ministry we touch the lives of children on a very personal level. We learn their life story, we build faith in each other, we share in their joy, and painfully we share in their sorrows. It always amazes me on how indifferent and detached these children become when sharing their stories with me. They know no other way. This is the way it is. Pain is part of life and a part of their reality. This kind of pain has never been a part of my reality, not like theirs. Yes, I grew up in a broken home, single mom working two jobs to feed and house all of us. BUT there was always love, kindness, and most importantly, I never felt unwanted or abandoned.

Not all of the children in the foster care group homes feel unwanted or abandoned. Yes, some of their parents have problems but the children know that they are loved. Some of the children yearn to go home to mom and dad even if they don’t have the same comforts that they are provided in group home.

For the children living in group homes, the group home is a place to live: eat three times a day, a bed, friends, comfort, but no freedom or parental love. The children have people who care for them, love them on a certain level, but these people still go home after their shift.  Some of the children stay in the group homes for a short period of time, six months or so, others spend years in group homes. Sometimes the children get frustrated with their lives and take off for a while, some come back on their own and some are brought back by the police. Teen years are tough enough. I cannot imagine the frustration they must feel, the lack of “me” time, unable to grow and explore life like the other kids at school, experiencing life and learning about life only from the other troubled souls within their four walls. That is where the For Love of Kids Ministry comes in. Our goal is to bring some love and compassion to the everyday lives of the children growing up in these group homes.

I have to share one of the girls life story with you…

She is 15, smart, beautiful, but has a troubled soul. Her story begins in Ukraine where she spent the first 5 years of her life in an orphanage, so no one loved her for the first 5 years. She was to be adopted by an American couple from Arizona! Hooray! A family to love her! But as she grows she has nightmares and bouts of depression. There are days when she doesn’t want to talk, to be “normal”. By the age of 10 her “parents” have had enough of her and decide to drop her off at the mental hospital (her words). She then bounced around from institution to institution for about a year and a half before landing in the foster care system. She was 11 and abandoned again. Eventually when she was 13, the state convinced her adopted parents that she was all better and they should take her back, which they did for a short time. “They didn’t even tell me it was for me, they said dad had a doctor’s appointment, then they left me there again”…She was 14. Today she is 15, in a group home and would like to graduate high school early and go to college to be a forensic pathologist.

This story hurts every bit of my heart and soul. I cannot imagine the feeling of abandonment this poor girl feels every day. Seeking a life alone… I hope we can help make a difference in her life. Day by day.. This young girl is now paired up with one of our ministers were they spend time together working on life skills. They filled out job applications together, she was coached and supported in finding a job, we helped her with funding for a bicycle to go back and forth to work. Parent and family responsibilities are now being demonstrated by our ministers. Making a difference in her life, with small acts of kindness, Love.

We are here for the long haul and we will not go away.

That is what the For the Love of Kids Ministry is about, helping with love in any way we can.

Be Holy

“Be holy, for I, the Lord, your God, am holy.” ~ Our readings this weekend give us a big task! Thank God the psalm reminds us, “the Lord is kind and merciful.”

The readings tie holiness directly to right relationships with each other. Holiness is not achieved on our own, but in relationship with and care for others. God knew this, and sent Jesus to be in relationship with us, showing us the way.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches, “The word became flesh to be our model of holiness.” Jesus’ life is our guide. The Second Vatican Council’s document, “Lumen Gentium,” says, “At all times and in every race God has given welcome to whosoever fears Him and does what is right. God, however, does not make [a person] holy, and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather it has pleased [God] to bring [all] together as one people, a people which acknowledges [God] in truth and serves God in holiness.”

We are holy together! Jesus teaches this in the Gospel today and by His very life. Jesus’ call to love everyone, even our enemies, and God’s command, in the first reading, to love your neighbor as yourself show us how we live holiness.

St. Paul ties it all together, in the second reading, by reminding us that the Spirit of God dwells in each one of us. We belong to Christ, and in Christ we are united with each other. Everyone. Holy, as one.

This big task is achievable! ~ Let’s be holy by seeing Christ in ourselves, and in everyone we encounter.

Adam Stein
Coordinator of Communications

Ministry Blog – For the Love of Kids

For the Love of Kids

Our ministry was born out of the belief that every child deserves love, a compassionate shoulder to rest on and a safe environment in which to grow and be nurtured. It is amazing how infectious love is. We started out with just the two of us, Laurie and Mark Wheeler, and our desire to help children in 1 foster group home. We have grown to our current level of 20+ awesome ministers who feel and spread love to 3 homes!

New Doc 64_8This blog will be an evolving, growing, organic expression of our interactions with the children, their successes and failures. Their life stories are hard to believe. As I try to comprehend how children can survive, grow and even flourish under the most extreme of circumstance I will relay the stories back to you. The stories aren’t for amusement or entertainment… they are to raise awareness to the human condition so that everyone can see that Love does win out, that patience and a simple act of kindness can have a dramatic effect on the life of another. Love doesn’t only win it has a snowball effect on everyone within its path. You will gradually come to understand what we do, why we do what we do so that maybe, just maybe you can give.

Give by spreading the love to others… Start with a simple act of kindness and watch how it changes the situation. Do it intentionally and watch how it defuses, and changes everything. One simple act can change a life, maybe not today, but someday it will.
We spend time every week with the girls who live in these homes. Sometimes we do simple crafts, sometimes we play games, but most importantly we listen. Being “present” is a very important part of Love. Children who have love flourish. We all love it when we host a park day cook out or a holiday party and meal; concerts and ball games are always a big hit too.

There are so many things we do for our own children that we take for granted. From the basics like making sure they have a birth certificate and social security number to teaching them how to drive. (You read that right! …we have run into a girl that didn’t have a birth certificate or social security number! How is that possible? …that will be a bazaar story on another day.)

Our ministers help with everything from resume writing, job searching, and attaining needed documents; we help the kids be kids even if it is just for a few hours. When someone reaches the “adult” age of 18 they are free to go. Some go back to the situation that got them into the “system” in the first place, some ask for our help and support to go out on their own, and a very few go on to college. We want to be there for all of it, the good, the bad, and sometimes a little bit of the crazy.

Our goal is not only to help children; it is to attempt to break the cycle of madness. Most of the time life is repeated, the mistakes seem to be hereditary, passed on from generation to generation.

How do we stop the madness? We believe we stop it with the greatest gift God gave us…

LOVE.

– Mark Wheeler

New Doc 64_9

 

 

 

 

 

Photos in this blog are of a card written for the “Bags of Compassion” project. 

 

Stretch Forth Your Hands

Every Wednesday our staff gathers for a time of prayer where we look at the readings for the Sunday coming up, pray for all the prayers on our envelopes, and the needs of the community. Each staff member takes a turn leading this time and each one brings their own flavor to this time of prayer. This week, Torri Winn shared a reflection by Deacon Nick Senger that she found online and adapted. We wanted to share that reflection with you here (after the adapted reflection below, there is a link to the original, longer reflection, online).

Have you ever looked at people’s hands; the hands of your grandmother or grandfather, Or at the hands of an elderly friend?  The hands of a chef, a custodial worker, a mom/dad? Then you’ve had a glimpse of their life story.

Each pair of hands has a story to tell, and the older we get, the more our hands have to say. Some hands are scarred or spotted.  A hand can have callouses or be as smooth as lotion. No two hands are alike. Each hand in the world has its own unique creases and landmarks. No two fingers have the same fingerprints. Written on our hands is the story of our lives and the choices we have made.

The readings this weekend speak to us of the choices that lie in our own two hands. The book of Sirach tells us God has set before us fire and water. To whichever you choose, stretch forth your hand. Life or death.  Good or evil.  Water of Life or Fiery Gehenna. The choice is in our hands.

In the gospel Jesus tells us that we have the choice to break the commandments or to obey the commandments. The choice is in our hands. …or is it?

We make the choice in our hearts, and our hands make it happen.

What do our hands tell us about the choices our hearts have made?

What story do they tell?

God sets before us fire and water, And it is up to us to decide to which we will stretch out our hands.

We each have a choice to make. And the actions of the hands reveal the choices of the heart.

We may intend to do good, and we may know the right thing to do. But no matter what we intend to do, we discover what we truly choose by the story we read in our hands.

God’s hands tell a story too.

We can see the workings of God’s heart by looking at those hands:

The hands that smeared spit and mud and cured a man’s blindness.

The hands that touched the leper and made him clean.

The hands that drew Lazarus forth from the grave.

The hands that broke bread, blessed it, and gave it to his disciples.

The hands that washed their feet.

The hands outstretched on the cross.

With his hands, Jesus freely embraced the will of the Father; He chose Life over death. Good over evil. Relationship over rebellion. And his wounded hands tell the story.

Like Jesus, we are free to decide. God does not tie our hands. He lets us choose. God will never use violence to force our hand. God is persuasive, assertive, and direct.  But never tyrannical. There are no handcuffs in heaven.

We can choose to break commandments or to break bread, to build up or tear down.

When we gather as a community to renew our decision to choose the Water of Life and reject the Fiery Gehenna, and extend our hands in a sign of peace, and offer the story of our lives to our neighbors – No matter what our hands say about the choices we have made in the past, today we offer our lives to each other in peace, and recommit ourselves to choosing life.

We approach the altar and stretch out our hands to accept the Body and Blood of Christ from the Hands of the minister of the Eucharist.

Our hands receive the One who holds us in His hands…

And once again our stories will become the One Story…

And we will know it as well as we know the back of our hands.

Read the original complete reflection by clicking here

We are a Light in the Darkness

In the Gospel from this weekend Jesus calls us the “light of the world and the salt of the earth.” This is part of our identity in Christ. However it doesn’t end with simply “being” light and salt, we must do something. After Jesus identifies us, He then challenges us, “your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father.”

How can we be light? We can look to the psalm of the day, “the just man is a light in darkness.” Through justice, our light shines! What is justice? For the answer to this question, we can look to the first reading where God speaks through the prophet Isaiah and challenges the people to “share your bread with the hungry” and “shelter the oppressed and homeless.” God says we must clothe the naked and not turn our backs on our own. This is no easy task, but, in doing this, our light shines.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that justice is “the moral virtue that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor.” – It is about relationship. – Without an “other,” who is the light for?

Our light is not for us. It is for others! The Catechism continues to teach that, “justice toward [all] disposes one to respect the rights of each and to establish in human relationships the harmony that promotes equity with regard to persons and the common good. The just man, often mentioned in the sacred scriptures, is distinguished by habitual right thinking and the uprightness of his conduct toward his neighbor.” Justice is the Gospel in action.

Through our justice we share with others the light of Christ. ~ May we have the courage to act justly and allow our light to break forth like the dawn, proclaiming to the world God’s glory.

Adam Stein
Coordinator of Communications

Our Epiphany Story

The Epiphany story is one of my favorites. A star, mysterious magi from the East, an evil king, all the elements of a good story. Yet we celebrate more than a story. The Gospel of Matthew, like Jesus, uses stories to teach us something essential to being Christian. Here we have foreign wise men seeking, journeying far from home, following a gift of the natural world to find the promise of God. They find that promise in a child living in a remote village with a carpenter and his young wife. Later in the story, this couple and child must flee to the land where their ancestors had been enslaved. Obedient to God, they would undertake a dangerous journey to seek protection and peace in another land, unfamiliar and sometimes hostile – all to protect the child, the promise of God.

The story is a familiar one. Parents leave home, threatened by violence and death to find safety and peace for their children. Yet there is something more in this story. This is the story of Emmanuel, God-with-us. The magi don’t just find a family with a young child, they find the promise of God. They experience the reality of God-with-us, present and real in the child. Their response is worship.

This story teaches us something essential to being Christian. It teaches us that God is here with us, that God is for all the world, including foreigners. It teaches us to recognize God-with-us in others, especially the poor and vulnerable. God calls us to recognize him in those who suffer, both near and far.

The Epiphany story tells us of wise men from the East searching for the promise of God. The wise men were most likely travelers from present day Iraq and Syria, once a place of wealth and culture. Today, it is a place of violence and suffering, a place where 3.2 million Syrians have fled searching for life, peace and safety. Just as the holy family fled to Egypt seeking to protect the promise of God, parents in the Syria and Iraq travel long distances seeking safety and peace for their children. The majority of registered Syrian refugees are women and children. 51% of these refugees are children under 17 and another 23% are women. Catholic Relief Services, UNESCO and other organizations are working hard to bring food, medicine, shelter and healing to these families. CRS is working with refugees in Lebanon, Greece and Serbia and you can learn about their work with children and families and more information about the Syrian refugee crisis at www.crs.org/media-center/syrian-refugee-crisis-7-things-you-can-do-help. Their work needs our support.

Each Epiphany at St. Patrick we invite parishioners to reflect on how we personally recognize the face of God in our world, our God-with-us. Again this year we invite you to take an ornament from the Epiphany trees in the narthex. On these ornaments we offer stories of refugee children and families and resources to learn, pray and act for these little ones, these suffering ones, these children and families fleeing their homes to find peace and safety, people choosing life. These resources come from Catholic Relief Services and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who have proclaimed the week of Epiphany National Migration Week. They call us to pray and act on behalf of migrants and refugees around the world, and those victimized by human trafficking. God is truly with us, inviting us to love our neighbor. May your new year and this Epiphany be blessed with peace.

Cathy Olds, Coordinator of Social Justice and Outreach Ministry

Love is all Around

Love is all around… What difference does it make?

As our week unfolds, we shift seamlessly from the impatient waiting of Advent into the joyous festivity of Christmas. In our liturgical space, violets and purples are replaced with celebratory whites and greens; in our liturgical prayer, focus shifts from Christ’s coming in the “end times” (there are fancy words for this concept but I thought I’d spare you) to his incarnation, his birth as the infant Jesus.

With the incarnation, Love is birthed into humanity in a whole new way. Christ’s transformative love flows out over humanity—indeed over every living thing, every aspect of creation—as an extraordinary divine energy. And so, analytically inclined as I am, I ask myself, “What exactly do I do with that realization? What difference does it make to me that, as the song says, love is all around?”

The answer whispers back in the form of something I read in a newsletter from Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM, a very fine author on the spiritual life. “Love,” he says, “is not love until you stop expecting something back. The moment you want something in return for your giving, love is weakened and prostituted.”

Strong words! Since I’m not liking the notion that any love I offer be weakened, much less prostituted (what a thought!), I think I’ll work on making sure that my love always flows outwards. I think I’ll try to work on letting go of any desire for reciprocity, any expectation of return-in-kind, any desired outcome from whatever giving my Christmas season entails.

It’ll have to be a secret mission, though. After all, if I let the family know that I’m working on expecting nothing back in return for the love I’m dishing out, then they’ll be compelled to notice and compliment me on my marvelous generous spirit, which of course defeats the purpose.

Wish me luck.

Tricia Hoyt
Director of Evangelization, Family Ministry and Adult Formation