Peggy Writes

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Lilacs, Rwanda, Immaculee and Women’s Inner Strength

Have you noticed the lilac bushes are in bloom?   In the Midwest every spring in early May the streets and yards are lined with beautiful purple fragrant lilacs.   Perhaps you grew up with a Common lilac, Persian lilac, Dwarf Korean variety, Himalayan, Chinese lilac or even a lilac tree.    My sister Linda Kay Doyle had a beautiful white lilac bush that she cherished.  It was an exceptionally fragrant lilac in her yard, just off her deck.    My sister Linda died 10 years ago today, May 5 2005.   She was an avid gardener and whenever I would visit her home, we would walk arm and arm around her yard to explore what was currently in bloom.

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Linda was an educator who was very compassionate and cognizant about the surrounding world.   She was always giving me fiction and non-fiction books that would get me thinking.   We had long conversations about the underlying theme of books such as the Kite Runner and The Red Tent.   The week before she passed she urged me to watch the movie Hotel Rwanda with Don Cheadle.

Hotel Rwanda is the story of the 1994 horrific genocide that took the lives of one million people who were brutally murdered in Rwanda, Africa.   In an era of high-speed communication and round the clock news, the events went almost unnoticed by the rest of the world.   In three months, one million Tutsis; men, women and children were massacred by the hands of the Hutu marauders.   The movie shared the courage of one man who in the face of unspeakable dangers granted shelter to thousands of helpless refugees in the hotel that he managed.

I never had the chance to chat with Linda about her thoughts on the Rwanda genocide.  And yet, two years after she passed, I learned about a woman who survived that genocide and knew that I had to hear her story.  Immaculee llibagiza was a Tutsis college student, who was urged to go into hiding by her father.   Immaculee found shelter at a pastor’s home, where she and seven other women hid from the deadly rebel mob in a 3-by-4 foot bathroom for 91 days.    During those 91 days of unimaginable suffering, Immaculee found her faith, taught herself English and most incredibly, committed herself to a life of peace, hope and forgiveness.  Even for those who had murdered her family.

Last week, I was privileged to attend a luncheon entitled “Aid for Women” and the keynote speaker was again Immaculee.  She again shared her powerful life lessons from her Rwanda experience of love, forgiveness and world peace.    The organization she spoke was in support of Aid for Women, which has been instrumental in providing support for women and especially empowering women to choose life.  They provide funding to Heather’s House, a home for unwed mothers providing education, medical assistance, spiritual and housing support.  You can read more about their organization at www.helpaidforwomen.org.   You can read one of Immaculee’s several books or watch this short video about her story.

Linda placed an enormous value on the inner strength within a women and the bond of friendship between women.   Considering Linda’s own health limitations, nothing held her back and I knew she drew strength from faith, friendship and family.   Where do you draw strength to be the women God intended you to be?  How do you age gracefully and rest within the challenges of your life, the body we have been given and live within our unique giftedness?  How do the relationships in your life help you to fly?  Helping women explore these questions have become my life work.   Thank you, Linda!!!!

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Back To School, Prayer

Back to school 2014

This week our five children returned to school.  Our oldest entered 8th grade and our baby, kindergarten.   The beginning of a new school year brings excitement and a return to routine in our daily life: homework, extra-curricular activities, dinner as a family at the table, and earlier bedtimes.  During the summer, when our schedules were more relaxed, I had set a personal goal of reading small bits of scripture with my children, hoping the stories would become more ingrained in their heart and mind, and that they would come to know better who Jesus was to them.  Our 4th grader was very interested in reading her children’s bible on most nights, but I wasn’t as successful as I had hoped with the others.  As parents, we establish the family values, goals and expectations; I wonder which ones will take root and still be with my children when they are grown.

Summer also brought a fall for my mom, resulting in fractures that required her to spend 7 weeks in a rehab center.  Because she would be going home with a walker, my siblings decided to de-clutter her house to make getting around easier for her.  Have you ever cleaned out your parents’ home, while they were in the hospital, or after they passed away?  It can be a rather odd experience, going through their drawers, closets, and personal belongings, finding old letters that were written to loved ones, jewelry that had been saved from a deceased relative or everyday items that were stashed in a special drawer, clues to what your mom or dad held close.  Sifting through your parents’ possessions while trying to protect their privacy and dignity can be an overwhelming, frustrating and emotional experience.  (I’m blessed that my older siblings let me “off the hook” this time, and shared this chore between them.)

My mom is turning 85 at the end of the month, and has been known for writing in a journal. She jotted down memories of us growing up in little notebooks or even scraps of paper, and documented important dates or events with a photo attached. She even recorded details of my dad’s deteriorating health last year as she cared for him up to his death.  My mom also wrote down many prayers and scripture passages over the years that were meaningful to her.  While tidying her home, my eldest sister, Debbie, found this prayer. It was typed on an old-fashioned type writer, and the paper was slightly yellowed.  It was tucked into a big stack of books in the corner of her home, and could have easily been overlooked.  My sister shared it with me, and it reminded me of my daily struggles and how I wrestle with who is in control: God or me?

 

Our Thinking versus God’s Promises

It’s impossible.

               All things are possible. (Luke 18:27)

 I’m too tired.

               I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28-30)

 Nobody really loves me.

               I love you. (John 3:16)

 I can’t go on.

               My grace is sufficient.  (11 Cor. 12:19)

 I can’t figure things out.

               I will direct your steps. (Proverbs 20:24)

 I can’t do it.

               You can do all things. (Phil 4:13)

 I’m not able.

                    I am able. (11 Co. 9:8)

 It’s not worth it.

               It will be worth it. (Rom. 8:28)

 I can’t forgive myself.

               I will supply all your needs. (Phil. 4:19)

 I’m afraid.

               I have not given you a spirit of fear. (11 Tim. 1:7)

I’m always worried and frustrated.

Cast all your cares on Me. (1 Peter 5:7)

I don’t have enough faith.

I’ve given everyone a measure of faith. (Rom. 12:8)

I’m not smart enough.

I give you wisdom. (1 Cor. 1:30)

I feel all alone.

I will never leave you or forsake you. (Heb. 13:5)

 

This prayer is a beautiful reminder that God’s promises are far better than what we come up with on our own, in our human condition. Often, we fall short when we rely on Our Thinking, but if we instead entrust ourselves to God’s Promises, our lives will be a lot easier!

This week is the one-year anniversary of my ministry, Creating Space, and my blog.  As I look back over the year, and even just this summer, I see that some things I had hoped to achieve didn’t happen; my children didn’t memorize scripture (a discipline I admire in our protestant brothers and sisters).  Yet in finding this prayer that my mom had tucked away, I can see how she relied on scripture throughout her life, and without using actual words, she taught me to do the same. Perhaps when my children are 45 they will find my old-fashion blog writings, and have a glimpse of how scripture played a part in my faith, and hopefully their own, as well.

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at peggy@creatingspaceinyourlife.com.

Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include “New App For your Phone Connect your Parish, Growing the Faith, One Parish” and “Extending Compassion, Losing a Child & Evangelization” She is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at www.creatingspaceinyourlife.com

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Family Values – Teaching Our Children To Pray

This morning I was interviewed for a parenting article about the O’Flaherty Family values.  If I had to sum the interview up in two words it would be LOVE and FAMILY.  Both of these things in our family are rooted in our faith.   In continuing my summer plan to impart small bits of scripture to our children, I am blessed with the gospel reading for today which is from Matthew 6:7-15.

Jesus said to his disciples This is how you are to pray:

“Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread; and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us; and lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”

Cillian and Mother Mary

Back in 1965, Pope Paul VI had a little something to say about parents and their role in educating their children:

“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators.(11) This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbor. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellow men and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God’s own people.” (Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis

Thanks to Amanda another blogger at Worthy of Agape, http://worthyofagape.com/2014/06/11/according-to-the-law-of-christ/ for her quote from the Pope.

Wondering if you can share what are two words that would express your family values?

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at peggy@creatingspaceinyourlife.com. Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include “Who Is Listening?” and “Why Clean Your Garage?” She is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at www.creatingspaceinyourlife.com

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Feast of Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saint for today is Saint Joan of Arc.

Visitation

From the Gospel of Luke we know that Mary traveled to Judah to spend time with Elizabeth, whom is also getting ready to bear a child.   We hear that when Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  My family made a New Years Resolution this year to focus on the Holy Family and we have been doing that in very small and simple ways.   This summer we are continuing that focus by spending time pondering short lines from sacred scripture.   Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.   How does it feel knowing we are also filled with the Holy Spirit?  We are all called as Christians to share the gift of the Holy Spirit with others.   Do you know the unique spiritual gifts that you have been given at baptism?

 

The Saint for today is Saint Joan of Arc, which I discovered on my favorite new app for my phone.   The OneParish app. reminded me that St. Joan of Arc is the patroness of soldiers and of France and she was also filled with the Holy Spirit.    As a young girl she entered into battle and defended her faith.   Did you know that each of us are called to be saints?   I know I have a great way to go on that journey and yet taking time to ponder the saints such as St. Elizabeth and St. Joan of Arc provide me an example to follow.

saint joan of arc

I hope you and your family can enjoy the summer months and some of my post from scripture and saints of the day.

Sandy Hook Mom, Nurturing, Healing, Love

I published this back in November and wanted to support this mom and the memory of her son Jesse.

This morning the Today Show featured an interview with Scarlett Lewis, a mother who lost her son Jesse, at the Sandy Hook school last December.   His memory is living strong in her new book “Nurturing, Healing, Love.” .  She writes about his brave act of love that saved the life of his classmates.   I found this interview about Jesse touching, his mother is an inspiration of strength and faith.  She demonstrates amazing amounts of love and forgiveness.   The link below is the interview with Matt Lauer.   I plan to buy this book for a few friends and even a few teachers.

http://www.today.com/news/todays-takeaway-newtown-mom-finds-solace-dylan-marches-osu-8C11498310

They have also established a foundation “Choose Love” in her son’s memory that partners with organization that will support and educate children.

http://www.jesselewischooselove.org/

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at peggy@creatingspaceinyourlife.com. Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual
director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include “Who Is Listening?” and “Why Clean Your Garage?” She is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at
www.creatingspaceinyourlife.com.

Top 10 List of Advent Activities For Children To Prepare Christmas

Every Christmas our family tries to keep Advent at the center of Christmas. Advent allows us four weeks to prepare for the birth of baby Jesus, which we experience through Hope, Joy, Peace and Love. Here is our top 10 list of Advent activities that have become our tradition.

10. Set up a nativity scene in the living room and play with the figures.

9. Place our Advent wreath at our dinner table, take turns lighting the candle and reading the scripture.

8. Attend a Living Nativity at a local church, especially ones with animals.

7. Watch the Nativity Story on DVD (Breath of Heaven is the theme song).

6. Adopt a child or family from our church.

5. Prepare chocolate turtles for teachers and loved ones.

4. Read the Nutcracker at night and ponder simple gifts from years ago.

3. Host our extended family for Christmas Eve celebration.

2. Attend Christmas morning mass.

1. Enjoy our 5 children as they delight in the magic of Christmas.

Sending blessings to each of you!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You may also enjoy this post from Adiel Booker, as she has so many more ideas. http://adrielbooker.com/family-advent-activities-christmas-countdown-fun/

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Overscheduled & Overcommitted?

Do you know anyone who feels overcommitted in their life or overscheduled with their family? Have you laid your head down at night and thought, “I need to find more time in my day.”? Matthew Kelly, a best-selling author and international speaker on both business and Catholicism, explains how our culture has shifted: “We have taller buildings and shorter tempers, we have bigger houses and smaller families, we can go to the moon and back again, and yet have trouble crossing the street to visit our neighbor, we have more conveniences and less time.” Many people begin their day before the sun rises and continue running until late into the evening. Regardless of how effectively we manage our day, many of us still often go to bed with the question of how to squeeze more time out of a 12-16 hour day for precious people in our life.

A few years ago the film “Race to Nowhere” called us to challenge our current thinking about how we prepare our children for success. It featured the heartbreaking stories of students across the country who have been pushed to the brink by over-scheduling, over-testing and the relentless pressure to achieve. Over the last 13 years, as I have stayed home to raise my children, I have seen this in my own community. Friends and family who are doing so many wonderful activities for their family are still searching for more time to do the things that matter the most to them.

Many of us find a rhythm to our life. Our daily, monthly, and annual routines are tied to the clock and set by the calendar: the rhythm of the 4 seasons, school year, holidays, sport seasons, quarterly sales goals, and the list goes on. Our lives can feel like the movie “Ground Hog Day,” stuck in a rhythm, reliving the same scenarios over and over again, not knowing how to change our situation. Etching into the schedule a date night with a spouse, an afternoon with an aging parent, or one-on-one time with a friend or child can be a challenge. Spending that quality time with those we love often gets the least of our attention, as does making time for our own physical health and spiritual well-being. This was my inspiration for Creating Space: helping individuals create the space in their life for the people and things that matter the most to them.

The first step with launching my new ministry was introducing it to the world. My goal was to discover a way to talk to people about God without “talking to people about God.” In order to begin this process, I knew that my marketing and web development would be best left to the experts. Cindy Tschosik, a local business woman and friend, did an outstanding job defining my business plan, implementing the website and integrating my social media. Another friend, Leanne Lally, owner and creative director of SeaHaus Studio (www.seahausstudio.com), is a marketing and brand expert. I was excited to see how her gift for design and her overall creative vision would help me communicate my message.

The concept of Creating Space was easy for Leanne and Cindy to identify with—as wives, mothers and business women, they were familiar with the challenge of “not enough time.” They intuitively began working with images, colors and logos that would complement and communicate the concept of Creating Space. The logo was the first to be developed; each element of it has meaning: the box represents our life, the pattern within the box is the rhythm and movement of our daily routine, the color blue conveys serenity. The white space in the middle of the box is the solution I foster: creating space in the rhythm of our life.

Creating-space-logo

In my ministry, I help clients create space to explore the core of their happiness. For some, that happiness may be a deeper relationship with their spouse or children. Others desire a greater awareness of their life’s purpose, and want to explore their faith through their gifts, talents and even their personal limitations. And still others have simply wanted to create space for grieving a loss. Each of us usually needs to create space for something in our life, and in doing so we gain a greater sense of “being”.
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The second image Leanne conceived of for Creating Space was the pier surrounded by water. Vacations at the beach or time at a lake house commonly bring a sense of peace. Our life journey is always winding and can often lead us to places that are unknown. Without a roadmap, we may struggle with ineffective routines, or not know which way to go. Through a one-on-one Creating Space session, clients intentionally carve time out of their month, if only 1 hour, to explore their life journey. Like time at the beach, our session together is a vacation from the busyness of life, a mini-retreat, to reflect upon the day, relationships, career, faith, and find direction for what’s most important to each individual. Taking time out to discover what makes us happy isn’t a new concept, but it is hard for many of us to do. I hope my writings (or one-on-one sessions) will help you with this mission.

My writings are due in part based on the gifts and talents of Karen Crowe who has done an outstanding editing several of my projects. Thank you, Karen.

So, do you know anyone who feels overcommitted in their life or overscheduled with their family? How might their life look or feel if they carved our time for those who are precious, including themselves?

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at peggy@creatingspaceinyourlife.com. Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include “Who Is Listening?” and “Why Clean Your Garage?” She is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at www.creatingspaceinyourlife.com

Kindness vs. Gossip

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This poster was hanging in the hallway at All Saints School in Naperville. I found it a very powerful message. Choosing kindness over gossip or negative conversations isn’t easy. I have made the mistake myself of talking negative.  Finding the proper place to express our feelings and being heard in a healthy space is definitely important.   Sometimes we need to remind ourselves to “change the conversation.”

Who is Listening

Distracted by the Phone

Dental appointments are often a long process, especially with 5 children. My goal has been to always keep each person busy and quiet while we wait for each of our procedures. I remember a few years back, in an effort to keep them quiet; some of the kids would read a book or color. Now each of us has collected the plethora of electronic gadgets: Kindles for books; iTouches for music; iPhones for texting; DS’s for video games; Even my 4-year-old has a princess laptop to learn her ABCs and 123s.

Who is Listening

Technology obviously provides great value in learning, communication and overall advancement of our world. I’ve begun to wonder the value of these electronics. How does technology impact our relationships and our emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual well-being? Surely social media provides value in reaching out to long-distant relatives, classmates from years past or networking for employment opportunities. While waiting at the dentist, as I began typing this blog on my laptop, my 11-yearold daughter asked, “What are you working on, Mom?” I turned the question around and asked her, “How does it feel when Mom is texting or sending an email, and trying to listen at the same time?” She replied, “It makes me feel that whatever I am saying isn’t important.” Recently, a child psychologist told me that there is fine line between children feeling that “what they say is not important” and “who they are is not importantbecause they interpret their worth to the attention they receive. While I was out for lunch with a friend, she continually looked down at her phone to check an incoming message text. I started feeling that what I was saying was not her top priority. However, I had the understanding, as an adult that I was important to her. Children do not have this wisdom that comes with age.

Active listening is a practice of being fully present for another individual. As an active listener, you have a genuine interest in the person talking and want to hear their message. This often requires that we stop multi-tasking, refrain from giving our opinion, and limit our desire to shape or fix the outcome of their story. Being an active listener to those in our life, regardless of technology, is often a challenge. We are called upon daily to be active listeners in so many instances. A friend calls distraught and you are in the middle of making dinner. A co-worker comes into your office for the fourth time this month to vent about an unresolved issue. An aging parent repeats a story about a new ailment that they talked about yesterday. A child is looking for your attention, in the midst of attending to another child’s need. Almost all of us have experienced at least one of these scenarios. David Augsburger, the author of Caring Enough to Hear and Be Heard, said “Being heard is so close to being loved that for the average person, they are almost indistinguishable.” ― David Augsburger

What did my children need from me, their mother, during that dental visit? On some days, based on my own busy-ness and energy level, I miss the chance and gift of attentiveness. I have to remind myself to be patient with myself, as pausing to listen attentively is a practice that needs constant renewal. As I paused in that moment, I could see my 9-year-old son really wanted to be consoled after he had a cavity filled. Another younger child wanted to be reassured that her procedure wasn’t going to hurt. My oldest daughter just wanted to share her excitement about the upcoming volleyball season. My 8-year-old daughter wanted me to glance over for a second to comment on her rainbow loom bracelet that she was making for the dental hygienist. And the youngest, was looking for me to hold her hand while she flipped the pages of her book. In reflecting upon that time now, none of their needs involved technology and all of their needs involved me being attentive to them.

Yes, it is absolutely a challenge to be attentive to others in our fast-paced technology world. With all the distractions and our need to multi-task, it is almost a battle to slow down long enough to rest and listen to the people around us. I certainly wouldn’t want God texting during our conversation or my prayers. When we pause for even a moment to recognize the precious people in our midst, it is often a surprise to feel the emotions that are evoked in our heart. And it is there in our hearts where we meet God. It is in my attentiveness to God and my family, where I find my life has an overall balance with my emotional, physical, intellectual, and spiritual well-being.

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5 

This blog is based on the personal experiences and opinions of Peggy O’Flaherty. Any reproduction of the material in this blog may be used with written consent of the author by e-mail at peggy@creatingspaceinyourlife.com. Peggy O’Flaherty, is a certified spiritual director, public speaker, blog writer, wife and mother of five children. Her recent writing projects include “Who Loves You?” and “Why Clean Your Garage?” She is the Founder & President of Creating Space, LLC., a ministry helping people enrich their faith. Follow Peggy at www.creatingspaceinyourlife.com.

Love One Another

Love One Another

Love One AnotherMy parents had this sign hanging above our staircase at home when I was growing up. When any of us siblings had a disagreement, we had to sit in front of the sign and repeat “Love One Another” over and over to each other. My parents are so wise. This is now hanging in my kitchen and it came in handy tonight, as two of my younger children repeated over and over, “Love One Another” 25 times each. The best part was that they were both laughing by the end.

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