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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

PART TWO - Focusing on the New Year with the Aid of Paul's Letter to the Philippians

If you missed it, here is PART ONE.
The following Sunday was the Third Sunday of Advent...Gaudete Sunday...the Sunday of rejoicing.

Matt's dad (now to be referred to here as The Professor) was w/ us that weekend. The Princess had a cold, so Matt & The Professor stayed home from church w/ her. While I was upstairs getting ready, I heard the Gospel being proclaimed as Matt & The Professor were watching EWTN's Mass on the computer.

All of a sudden, I heard the priest exclaim, "Rejoice in the Lord always!" You can bet my ears perked up at that pronouncement! There was that verse, once again calling out to me! 

~~~ Philippians 4:4 ~~~

Once at church, the three boys & I sat in our normal spot, the 2nd row on the right side. When it came time for the homily, our pastor stepped forward, glanced toward the choir, & gave a slight nod. They broke into song, singing the words, "Rejoice the the Lord always, again I say rejoice!" The congregation joined in & we sang it over & over. Each repetition brought a bigger smile to my face!

 ~~~ Philippians 4:4 ~~~

OK God! You've gotten my attention! It was time for me to focus on what He was (& still is) trying to tell me through that verse.

My first step led me to the computer, where I found Bible Gateway...a site where you can look up any Bible verse, in pretty much any Biblical translation you want & in a wide variety of languages. 

Many of the translations I found for Philippians 4:4 were quite similar. The following are those that stood out the most for me. All gave me a better understanding this particular verse.

New American Bible (This is the Bible I still use myself...the one my parents bought me for my First Communion.)
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!"

The Message Bible (in modern, plain-speak)
"Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in Him!"

The Living Bible
"Always be full of joy in the Lord; I say it again, rejoice!"

The Voice
"Most of all, friends, always rejoice in the Lord! I never tire of saying it: Rejoice!"

Worldwide English
"Always be glad for what the Lord has done, I will say it again, be glad."

Next, I decided to look back over recent trials &/or stressful times I'd been through. How could I apply Philippians 4:4 to them? How could I rejoice in the pain, stress, &/or suffering I endured?

Well, as I mentioned in Part One w/ Matt's car breaking down (it was the alternator, BTW), he could have either been in or been held up by a major car accident. Without headlights, he also could have been hit while trying to get off the freeway & into Bob Evans parking lot.

The Friday after his alternator went out, we were heading to pick up his car. We got stuck in traffic due to an accident involving a semi & at least three other vehicles. That set us back about half an hour since police closed off an exit & were diverting five lanes of traffic into the far two left lanes. What a mess!

Prior to getting on the freeway, we stopped at the allergist for Matt's shot, but they were closed. There are two scenarios that give us cause to rejoice for that day.

1) If we hadn't stopped at the allergist, all of us could have been involved in the accident.
2) If the allergist had been open, we could've been caught up in that traffic for a much longer time. We would have been in rush hour traffic on a Friday afternoon.

~~~ Philippians 4:4 ~~~

In September of 2013, I had a miscarriage. This baby was so wanted & prayed for by our family. When I first read the positive on the pregnancy test, I was thrilled. I was a little apprehensive about telling others & what they would think ~~ I'm over 40. I take medication for high blood pressure, thyroid, & high cholesterol (all safe ones for pregnancy). How could we afford a 5th child? ~~ All things I worried about myself, but trusted in God's design for our family.

This miscarriage brought several rejoicing opportunities for me.

1) In trying to conceive, Matt & I grew much closer to one another. This was more than just a physical closeness...we became more emotionally & spiritually attached.
2) I found that others were very supportive after all. No one made any of those critical remarks I feared & many were not even surprised at our pregnancy announcement. Once I miscarried, I received many letters, cards, & phone calls offering their condolences.
3) The soul of a baby is present at the moment of conception. So, even though Baby F.M. was never carried to term, a new soul was born into Heaven. We have a new saint to watch over & intercede for us. And, as HandyGramps said, our baby could share love in Heaven w/ those babies whose lives were taken through abortion & never allowed to live on Earth.
4) Our Blessings gained a first hand perspective & deeper understanding that all life is precious, not matter what stage it's in. We held a prayer service, led by HandyGramps, at a local cemetery. Baby F.M.'s remains were buried there among other dear babies lost to miscarriage &/or stillbirth.

~~ Philippians 4:4 ~~~

So, this brings us back to my focus word for 2014. Have you guessed what word chose me?

*** REJOICE! ***

The fruits of this word choice have already been evident. I have felt more peaceful over the past month or so & others have noticed. I "chose" at the beginning of Advent, to not get so wrapped up in the stresses that come w/ Advent & Christmas preparations. I truly think that has helped me find ways to rejoice in all circumstances.

No matter what trials life may throw at me in the coming year, I will find ways to rejoice in them. I will find the good in each stressful situation, financial setback, family disagreement, weather occurrence, broken dish, or anything else that may happen. God's got my back & I trust that He won't let anything happen that He & I can't handle together.

~~~ Philippians 4:4 ~~~
"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say REJOICE!"

May God bless each of you in this new year & tend to your every need!



Colleen said...

Beautiful posts today Maria! Rejoice seems like your word for sure. Happy New Year!