A perennial favorite, our annual book offers inspirational stories and reflections for each day of the year.  View a selection of current reflections here on the site, order the current volume in our shop or to subscribe to receive Three Minutes reflections free-of-charge daily...

March 30

                                    Starting a New Life with Gratitude                                   

         “I was convinced I would become an adult when I turned 21. But now, I’m certain that turning 65 was the watershed moment that finally grew me up.” So says Bruce Horovitz in Kaiser Health News about the age at which he found his life beginning — again.

         The husband and father notes that hitting age 65 happily started a new and purposeful chapter in his life for which he created a playbook that others could follow.

         He agrees with and quotes James Firman, CEO of the National Council on Aging: “There’s really nothing to prepare us for the transition to this next phase of life.”

Horovitz suggests reviewing such areas as health, finances, social relationships, and service to others. For example, he “re-established contact with a best buddy from college” and “bumped up my volunteer schedule.”

Again quoting Firman, he concludes, “Life is a gift…Success in old age starts with an attitude of gratitude.”

            Do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is

            wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by

            day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

           Guide us, Jesus, along the many paths life takes us.

March 29

                                                  Have You Heard...?                                              

         Even scrupulously honest people can unwittingly spread false information. At some time or other, most of us have repeated a rumor that proved to be untrue. And even true stories easily become so distorted that they have little relation to fact.

         Psychologists have identified common ways stories change as they pass from person to person: incidents may be exaggerated to make a more dramatic story; details may be forgotten; or what people hear may be influenced by their prejudices.

         Rumors can damage businesses, ruin reputations, fan racial tensions, or at the very least cause needless anxiety.

         When you hear a story, ask yourself: “What’s the source of the story?” and “Is there any real evidence to support it?” Don’t unthinkingly pass on rumors that could do harm. Take responsibility for your words.

Rumor follows rumor. (Ezekiel 7:26)

Lord, make my speech charitable, honest, wise, and joy-filled.

March 28

                                                        Getting Past Futility                                                          

         Rogers Hornsby, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Bob Lemon, and Babe Ruth are all Hall of Fame baseball players. But all of them knew futility as well as success in the World Series.

         Hornsby, one of the greatest hitters of all time, struck out eight times in 21 at-bats in the 1929 series and hit .238.

         Pitchers Alexander and Lemon both allowed 11 runs in a four-game series. No pitcher ever allowed more.

         Babe Ruth was the goat of the 1922 series, batting a feeble .118 in five games. Six years later, he compiled a .625 average in another World Series.

         No one is protected from failure. A champion is an individual who can come back from a poor performance and maintain a standard of excellence.

         Recognize that you’ll have good days and bad days, and don’t be discouraged when things go wrong. Learn from the past, but live in the present moment.

By your endurance you will gain your souls. (Luke 21:19)

Give us the needed endurance, Savior.

March 27

                            Has My Lent Been Enough?                                

“Has my Lent been enough? Have I prayed enough? Have I fasted sufficiently? Have I given alms with generosity and caring?” Those are the questions that author and blogger Lisa Hendey asked herself in 2018, during a particularly difficult year in which she found herself caring for her ailing mother.

She finally came to realize that nothing she does would ever be “enough” to make up for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and His gifts of mercy and salvation. That was, after all, a free gift of His grace. But Hendey did learn something in the process.

She wrote, “Our family's situation has brought me into greater solidarity not only with the elderly who face this journey and their caregivers, but really with all of those in need. I see them everywhere: those who camp on the street half a mile from my home in LA. Those who labor at multiple low paying jobs to put food on their tables. Those who have been born with or developed disabilities, for whom basic daily tasks are a trial...This Lent has taught me that I can never do ‘enough.’...I can only try to love.”

I will boast...gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

I offer my loving words and actions to You this Lent, Lord.

March 26

Stars of Wonder

During the “in-between time of winter and spring,” Elizabeth Scalia admired the night sky outside her Long Island, New York home, where stars are all too rarely seen. Writing for Word on Fire, she asked, “Does the fact that we can no longer see the stars have anything to do with our loss of wonder? These things over which we have no management — the stars, and all creation — they are more splendid, perfect, beautiful, and lasting than anything man can create or even conceive.”

She continued, “We have obliterated the stars with our artificial light, and in so doing have blinded ourselves. Without the wonder, the greatness of the galaxies in our sight, we’ve lost the ability to believe in, or expect, miracles.

“When you cannot see the glory of God’s creation, how can you wish to glorify the Lord? No longer able to easily see and affirm anything greater than ourselves, we turn inward, we worship our own thoughts, our invention, our desires.”

Today, choose to move beyond that narrow scope of vision and humble yourself before the greatness that surrounds you.

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)

Creator, open my eyes to the wonders of Your creation.

March 25

Fasting Like a 17th-Century Monk, Part Two              

J. Wilson had long known about the Paulaner monks and their “beer fast” in the 17th century, so he decided to recreate their type of beer with a professional brewer and adhere to the fast himself during Lent 2011. With permission from his boss at an Iowa newspaper, he drank “four beers a day during the workweek and five beers on the weekends.”

Writing for CNN, Wilson said, “At the beginning of my fast, I felt hunger for the first two days. My body then switched gears, replaced hunger with focus, and I found myself operating in a tunnel of clarity unlike anything I’d ever experienced.”

Wilson lost over 25 pounds and gained a sense of “self-discipline [that] can’t be overstated in today’s world of instant gratification.” His experience, he concluded, “left me with the realization that the monks must have been keenly aware of their own humanity and imperfections. In order to refocus on God, they engaged this annual practice not only to endure sacrifice, but to stress and rediscover their own shortcomings in an effort to continually refine themselves.”

I sat down and wept...fasting and praying before the

God of heaven. (Nehemiah 1:4)

Help me renew and refine my spirit, Father.

March 24

Fasting Like a 17th-Century Monk, Part One   

Lent is a season of fasting, which can often feel unpleasant (it is supposed to be a sacrifice, after all). But modern fasting can’t compare to the kind done by the Paulaner Monks of Southern Italy after they moved to Bavaria in the 17th century.

As reported by Aleteia, “The strict order required the brothers to refrain from all solid foods for the entire 40 days of Lent, which naturally brought about questions of how the order would maintain proper nutrition throughout the season. Turning to what they knew, they concluded that beer, or ‘liquid bread’ as they called it, could sustain them.

“The Paulaners brewed a special, unusually strong beer that would provide high levels of carbohydrates and nutrients to fight off malnutrition. This early doppelbock-style beer eventually became the original product of Paulaner brewery, founded in 1634, under the name ‘Salvator.’”

Modern beer is much different, so this idea wouldn’t work today. But one man did recreate a similar beer a few years ago and gave the fast a try. We’ll share his story tomorrow...

I had eaten no rich food, no meat or wine had entered my mouth. (Daniel 10:3)

Give me the strength to make sacrifices for You, Lord.

March 23

On God’s Goodness

         A little chapel in the foothills of the Appalachians bears this inscription on a beam above the pulpit: “God has always been as good to me as I would let Him be.”

         These words are from the last letter written by Sallie Howard, whose husband built the chapel in her memory.

         This memorial, at the edge of DeSoto State Park in northern Alabama, was built around a large outcrop of rock, which forms its back wall. Visitors drawn by the unusual structure often linger to think about the meaning of the inscription.

         Sallie Howard’s words reflect her awareness of God’s love. God delights in us and wants to guide and help us. He is waiting to give us peace and joy — if only we will let him.

The compassion of the Lord is for every living thing. (Sirach 18:13)

How may I imitate Your compassion, Merciful Savior?

March 22

Two Thousand Mile Taxi Ride

Many years ago, a New York cabbie drove 2,000 miles on an errand of mercy for a stranded Illinois family.

The driver had picked up a family at Kennedy Airport after an airline strike had stranded them in New York en route from the Virgin Islands to their home in Decatur, Illinois. When the family found that no accommodations to Illinois were available, the taxi man jokingly asked if they would like him to take them to Decatur for $300. The family agreed.

Driving straight through, the cab reached Decatur in 18 hours. After breakfast and a two hour nap at the home of his grateful passengers, the driver headed East again.

Commented the mother of the Decatur family, “He’s a wonderful, helpful man. We’d probably still be stranded in New York if it weren’t for him.”

You and I may never be called on to display such a startling willingness to “go the extra mile.” But in every life, God offers many opportunities for growth through service to others.

If anyone forces you to go one mile, go also the second mile. (Matthew 5:41)

Jesus, make us more aware that “it is in giving that we receive.”

March 21

Awesome Syndrome

         Jeff and Sonia McGarrity of Colorado are the proud parents of eight children, four of whom are “typical” and four who have “Awesome syndrome.” They’re using a term created by author Mark Leach, who wishes that the doctor whom “Down syndrome” is named after had been named “Awesome” instead. Because that’s how they see their kids with Down’s: Awesome!

         One of the McGarritys’ sons was born with Down’s, so the family adjusted and loved him unconditionally. Later, they adopted three daughters with Down’s.

In countries such as Iceland, close to 100 percent of women whose unborn children test positive for Down syndrome abort their babies, purportedly to help spare the children suffering.

Jeff told Catholic Charities, “While families with children who have special needs — and all families, for that matter — certainly have their share of sleepless nights and frustrating days, we are glad to welcome the ‘suffering’ that has these four bright-eyed kiddos as a part of our lives.”

As soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. (Luke 1:44)

Jesus, may I see the awesome gift of life in all those around me!

March 20

The Best Response to Reckless Hate

Following the murders of 49 worshipers at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, blogger Larry Denninger recalled a line from the movie The Two Towers, based on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy: “So much death. What can men do against such reckless hate?”

“The best response to reckless hate,” Denninger writes, “is reckless love. It sounds insensible and nonsensical to the world, and to be honest, it sounds that way to most Christians, too. But we know as Christians, by the example of Jesus’ life and death, that is the only response.”

“Evil’s power lies in its ability to make us despair and feel hopeless. It endlessly batters against our hearts, minds, and souls, tempting us to believe all is lost...The truth? God doesn’t expect you or me to solve all the problems. He expects us to love with a reckless love. That’s what Christians are expected to do. Today, tomorrow, every day... May it never be said no one ever witnessed the love of God in us, because we failed to show the love we profess to possess. Let us be the ones to show what can be done against such reckless hate.”

God is love. (1 John 4:8)

Where there is hatred, let me sow love, Lord.

March 19

Chores Lead to Happiness

Washing the dishes, vacuuming the floor, and dusting the furniture are all chores that need to be done in every family’s home. But usually the adults finish these tasks because their kids whine and cry about doing them. A new study, however, shows that parents might want to make their children do chores anyway because they’re good character builders and can also lead to greater happiness.

Using the Harvard Grant Study as research, How to Raise an Adult author Julie Lythcott-Haims said, “If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them. And so they’re absolved of not only the work, but of learning that work has to be done and that each one of us must contribute.”

Lythcott-Haims elaborated to Tech Insider, explaining, “By making them do chores — taking out the garbage, doing their own laundry — they realize, ‘I have to do the work of life in order to be part of life.’ It’s not just about me and what I need in this moment, but that I’m part of an ecosystem. I’m part of a family. I’m part of a workplace.”

Train children in the right way, and when old, they will not stray. (Proverbs 22:6)

May we build a good foundation for our children, Lord.

March 18

Mother and Child Reunion, Part Two

The day after reading the file about Ann, his biological mother, Jim Ryan received a call from Barb, an employee of Catholic Charities. Barb told him she’d been doing this kind of work for years, but never encountered a story as moving as this one. She promised to help him track down his mom.

Barb discovered that Ann had married a man named Jack, had four children with him, and lived in New Jersey 15 minutes away from where Jim grew up. Barb added, “[Ann] told me that she’s prayed for you every day of your life, and that her only prayer was that someday you two would meet in heaven.”

Jim called Ann, and they agreed to meet. He was in the process of moving from Virginia to Massachusetts to serve as the Dean of Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. So with his wife and four kids in tow, Jim’s happy reunion with his biological mother occurred at a rest stop on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway. Over time, he and his four siblings grew close as well. Jim said, “This is not a bridge I ever expected to cross, but it has enriched my life in so many ways.”

Let her who bore you rejoice. (Proverbs 23:25)

May the loving and life-affirming bonds of family transcend any challenges from the past. 

March 17

Mother and Child Reunion, Part One

Jim Ryan’s parents had always been open about the fact that they had adopted him through Catholic Charities when he was nine days old, and that the first time they saw him, he was wearing a hand knit Irish sweater and a St. Christopher medal. But because Jim grew up in such a loving home, he never had any desire to find out about his biological parents.

At age 46, after his adoptive parents had passed away, Jim took a friend’s advice to look into his origins. He contacted Catholic Charities and received a file from them that revealed his birth mother was an Irish immigrant named Ann.

In a speech, Jim explained, “[She] worked with a wealthy family in New York City. She did not want to give me up for adoption, and cried every time it was brought up, but ultimately realized she couldn’t afford to keep me...She knit during her pregnancy, which accounted for the sweater. I learned that she stayed in the hospital with me all nine days and fed me all my meals. And I learned that she left the hospital broken-hearted.”

Jim’s wife, Katie, read the file, too, then tearfully told her husband, “You have to find her.” More tomorrow...

You have received a spirit of adoption. (Romans 8:15)

Bless women who give up their children for adoption, Lord.

March 16

“What a Love Story!”

         Sharon Gibbs-Brown was privileged to witness a once-in-a-lifetime love story firsthand when she got a job as caregiver to 88-year-old Frances DeLaigle and her 94-year-old husband Herbert.

As reported by Georgia’s WRDW News, the DeLaigles celebrated their 71st anniversary in 2019. Six children, 16 grandchildren, and 25 great-grandchildren later, this couple was still going strong.

Brown’s position with the DeLaigles sadly ended far too soon, when Herbert and Frances passed away within hours of each other. The impact of their love story, however, was beautifully recounted in Brown’s Facebook post:

“They smiled, giggled and play[ed] like teenagers falling in love for the first time…They lived together, loved together, laughed together, and passed on the same day…Being in the presence of the Delaigles was such a blessing, it even strengthen[ed] my marriage and the love my husband and I share. To God be the Glory for such an opportunity.”

Set me as a seal upon your heart. (Song 8:6)

Abba, may we be inspired by the enduring bonds of love that surround us.

March 15

                          Minister to a World of Silence                             

         If you were deaf and had to be rushed to the emergency room of a hospital alone, how would you give medical personnel vital information about yourself or your condition? This is a problem that faced millions of hearing-impaired people throughout the country.

         Many years ago, Richard Russo, a deacon in the Catholic Church, led Cabrini Medical Center in New York City to take the lead in meeting the needs of the deaf. More than 40 employees completed a course to give them skills in such communication as sign language and finger spelling. In addition, Cabrini hired a deaf person for its staff.

         “The deaf have traditionally stayed away from health settings,” explained Deacon Russo at the time. “Experience has taught them that most people do not understand their special methods of communication…Their needs are not heard.”

         Deacon Russo passed away in 2017, but he is still remembered for the service and compassion he brought to an underserved community in our world.

The greatest among you will be your servant. (Matthew 23:11)

Guide me in serving others, Holy Spirit.

March 14

As You Find Me

Meredith Bird would much rather listen to Taylor Swift than Christian worship music, but one Sunday in church, the song “As You Find Me” pierced her heart and soul. Originally recorded by Hillsong United, the lyrics include, “I know I don’t deserve this kind of love / Somehow this kind of love is who You are / It’s a grace I could never add up / To be somebody You still want / But somehow You love me as You find me.”

Though Bird’s adoptive family has been nothing but loving and welcoming to her all her life, she has struggled with feeling unwanted and unloved because her birth mother abandoned her at a hospital as a baby. That’s why the song resonated.

On her blog, Bird writes, “When the little voice inside your head reminds you repeatedly of how disposable you spend a lot of your time and energy trying to earn love and attention from people...But then there’s Jesus, who loves us like nothing else compares. Who doesn’t shy away from the messy, broken parts of us...I can’t fathom why Jesus would want me, of all people. But, somehow, He loves me as he finds me.” 

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God. (1 John 3:1)

Help me to accept Your love, Jesus.

March 13

Teaching How to Save a Life

March 13, 2019, started out as a typical day for New Jersey science teacher Julianne Downes, when suddenly a student in her class started choking. Downes sprang into action and proceeded to do the Heimlich Maneuver. After 20 attempts, the food was finally dislodged from the student’s throat. 

         After saving the student’s life, a humbled Downes said that she is just one of many that could have helped, thanks to the Pascack Valley High School’s mandatory policy of training each student and staff member to be CPR and AED certified. It was mandated back in 2015 after a student collapsed during track practice and a fellow teammate, who was an EMT, saved his life.

         “It is impressive and powerful that we have all these people that can jump into action in any moment,” Downes told CBS2.

         Downes is heralded as being a hero by faculty and students, but she said, “As a mom, as an educator and as a human, it’s our job to do the right thing.”

For I will surely save you…because you have trusted in Me. (Jeremiah 39:18)

Oh loving Jesus, thank You for saving my life when You died on the cross.

March 12

Project Embrace

         After someone recovers from surgery or injury, what happens to all of their crutches, knee braces, etc.? More often than not, they end up getting discarded. 23-year-old University of Utah student Mohan Sudabattula thought of a much better use for these medical devices. Thus, Project Embrace was born.

         “People get prescribed this stuff for a temporary amount of time to help them heal, and then what?” Sudabattula said to KSL5 TV reporter Caitlin Burchell. “It ends up sitting around and becoming clutter…so we decided to do something about it.”

         “I thought back to my entire family in India and the communities there,” he continued. “There are children and patients who…would do anything for these types of devices.”           

         For now, Project Embrace is comprised of student volunteers. The used medical equipment they collect has been sent as far as India and Swaziland. The students hope to expand their outreach, and are awaiting their pending nonprofit status.

         “One thing that brings us all together as a team is a passion for this, and a passion to help,” Sudabattula concludes.

Whoever is kind to the poor lends to the Lord. (Proverbs 19:17)
Savior, may we always seek to help those in need.

March 11

Workers Find Success in Satisfaction

         How do successful people describe the satisfaction they get from work? Bits and Pieces magazine reported an informal poll of men and women who admitted to both being good at what they do—and loving it.

         One said: “I love to create something that wasn’t there yesterday.” Another said: “I like knowing I can do more than is expected of me—and I go ahead and do it.” Still another admitted: “I get a thrill out of doing a job a little better than it was ever done before.”

         Everybody takes satisfaction in different ways. But each of us needs work that means more than a paycheck. Knowing that you give any task your best efforts brings a sense of accomplishment that no one can take away.

In the Lord your labor is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

Help me approach my work with humble pride, Lord, and guide me toward accomplishing Your will.

March 10

Smart Home Helps Military Family

          Caleb Brewer, a retired Army Sergeant from Tucson, Arizona, was wounded in combat in Afghanistan on his 31st birthday in 2015. He lost both of his legs, sustained a traumatic brain injury, and was fortunate to have survived. However, thanks to a veteran’s program, Sgt. Brewer, his wife, and their  two daughters now have a new place to call home – a home specially designed and built to accommodate his needs.

         As reported in the Arizona Daily Star, Brewer’s story came to the attention of the RISE program and the Gary Sinise Foundation. RISE provides mortgage-free homes to severely wounded veterans. The home is a “smart house,” designed with features that can be controlled by a phone or tablet to help in daily functions. It was also built to accommodate Brewer’s wheelchair.

         The family’s gratitude reflects the love they’ve experienced though this good deed. “It’s incredibly overwhelming in a good way,” said Brewer. “It doesn’t feel real. I never would’ve expected it in a million years.”

Every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. (Hebrews 3:4)

Strengthen families wounded by war, Prince of Peace.

March 9

How Big is God?

On the website Daily Devotion, Jonathan Salomon shared a story about a young boy asking his father, “How big is God?”

The father responded, “It depends,” then tried to explain what he meant. “Looking to the sky,” wrote Salomon, “his father saw an airplane and asked his son what size did he think that airplane was? The child replied: ‘Very small, I can barely see it!’

“Then the father took him to the airport and being close to a plane he asked: ‘Now how big is the plane?’

“And the boy replied very amazed: ‘Dad, it’s huge. Wow! So, so big.’

“The father then said: ‘This is how God is for you. His size will depend on the distance that you have from Him, and likewise that will affect your view of Him, your concept of Him and your experience with Him. The closer you are to God, the Bigger He will be in your life, and your concept of Him will be of a Great, Awesome, Loving and Powerful God that He is. If that is not how you see God right now, maybe you need to get a closer look.’”

Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; His understanding is beyond measure. (Psalm 147:5)

Help me move closer to You today, Father.

March 8

                                      Grief, Then Hope                                      

         Larry Yeagley was a hospital chaplain in Fort Worth, Texas. He was ideally suited to this ministry because he knew first-hand the pain of grief. He himself lost a son in an accident.

         He started Grief Recovery Seminars because he believed that “nobody should cry in their pillows all by themselves.”

         Yeagley said that it’s important for us to allow grieving people to express their pain and tell us how they feel, deep down inside: “We have to let them drain off some of that pain, some of that agony, some of that doubt and frustration and anger before we can introduce them to hope.”

         If you want to help someone you know who is grieving, just be there. No one should have to grieve alone.

            Be kind to one another, tenderhearted. (Ephesians 4:32)

Who needs my ear, my shoulder to cry on, my kindness and tenderheartedness today, Merciful Savior?

March 7

A Country Singer Breaks New Ground             

In April 2019, country superstar Brad Paisley broke ground for “The Store,” a free supermarket in Nashville, Tennessee, to serve those in need. 

The Paisley family was inspired to open The Store after volunteering at a similar establishment in Santa Barbara, California. They walked away from that experience realizing that most people didn’t want handouts. “They want dignity and respect,” Paisley said on The Store’s website. “They want to be self-sufficient.”

The Store will offer free groceries and be located at Paisley’s alma mater, Belmont University. College students will volunteer their time serving others at The Store to help open their eyes about hunger in their area.

 Paisley told, “You can read statistics on hunger or you can read everything about this subject and never necessarily have it hit you in the heart like watching someone walk through this service,  which is hopefully what’s going to happen as a student is volunteering here.”

Blessed are those who hunger…for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6)

Open my eyes and heart to the needs around me, Giving Lord.

March 6

How We Reflect God’s Love                    

Gene Dodaro may be “deep in his senior years,” as he puts it, but the memories of those who’ve loved him remain fresh in his mind. First, there was his grandmother, Frances Caputo, who died when he was only seven. “She was a little Italian lady, less than five feet tall,” he recalled. “Whenever we would visit, she would cup my face in her hands and rain kisses all over it.”

During those years, Gene also met his best friend, Ray Wiehn. Ray, who came from a devout Catholic family, was bigger and stronger than Gene, and served as his protector if anybody wanted to hurt him: “He was like my big brother: He would always direct me to do what was right, civilly and religiously. Surprisingly, I always listened! He’s gone now also, and I miss his brotherly love.”                                           

Gene concludes, “When I hear of God’s love for us, I think of the ways my grandmother and Ray loved me, and I understand: Our Father wants to cup our faces and shower us with kisses, and at the same time, protect and guide us to a lifetime of happiness and caring.” 

Faith, hope, and love abide...and the greatest of these is love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Help me to see Your love in those around me, Father.

March 5

A Message from Above

Baptist minister Jerome Jones of Monticello, Georgia, was working his day job as a lineman with the power company when a message literally came from above. It was a note tied to balloons that read: “God, help me go to college…Please help me get everything I need to leave Wednesday.”

The writer of the note was Mykehia Curry, who was the first in her family to go to college. As reported by CBS News, she was worried about starting school and couldn’t afford a few things she needed to set up her room. Jones, meanwhile, was struggling with his faith and considering leaving ministry. He had just $125 to his name, but the note touched his heart.

Rev. Jones got in touch with Curry. He purchased and dropped off a mini-fridge and a comforter to make her college start easier. What’s more important is that both were the answer to one another’s prayers. Rev. Jones received the boost of faith he had been looking for, while Curry’s balloon prayer happened to land with just the right person at just the right time.

At that very moment, the prayers of both of them were heard in the glorious presence of God. (Tobit 3:16)

Help me to be an answer to someone’s prayer today, Lord.

March 4

A Doctor Who Revolutionized Transplants 

          Dr. Christoph Broelsch recently passed away in his native Germany at age 75. Throughout his career, he was a pioneering transplant surgeon, and one of the first to perform a successful living-donor liver transplant.

         In the 1980s, Dr. Broelsch traveled to University of Chicago Hospital where he and other doctors, all experts in their field, theorized a way to take a section of a liver from a living donor and transplant it into a patient whose liver was failing. The first surgery happened on a mother and daughter, where the child – only 21 months old – had advanced liver disease.

The surgery was a success, and was repeated at that hospital and at many others. Both the mother and daughter recovered fully, leading normal lives. Thanks to Dr. Broelsch’s work, pediatric patients (and some adults) no longer had to wait for a full organ from a deceased donor.

         Dr. Broelsch and his team were public about the ethical issues at hand with living-donor transfers. They knew their work would save lives and add to quality of life, so they persevered. 

There may come a time when recovery lies in the hands of physicians. (Sirach 38:13)

Thank You, Lord, for doctors and nurses that heal the sick.

March 3

                             “Do They Not Deserve the Best?”                       

Well-known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, New Orleans has another distinction as well: it is home to the only Catholic university in the U.S. that was founded by a saint. Born into a wealthy family in 1858, Katharine Drexel joined the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament later in life and focused her attention on ministering to Native Americans and African Americans.

As reported by Catholic News Agency, she founded a secondary school for African Americans and “a preparatory school for teachers, one of the few career tracks available to Black Americans at the time.” The latter school went on to become Xavier University of Louisiana in 1925.

University president C. Reynold Verret recalled a New York Times interview in which St. Katharine was asked, “Why are you using this expensive Indiana limestone for a school for black children?” Her response: “Do they not deserve the best?”

St. Katharine knew they did, and she spent her life promoting the inherent value of these young people who still suffered under segregation.

There is no longer slave or free…for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:28)

Free our hearts from prejudice, Creator of All.

March 2

They Carried Him

          When a storm brought quickly-accumulating snow to Edmonton, Canada, Shannon Ranger walked to pick up her six-year-old son, Matthew, from school. He has spina bifida, and uses a wheelchair, so she knew the trip home would be a challenge.

         Their struggles were noticed by those passing by. One man tried to shovel in front of them, but couldn’t keep up. Another man soon joined in, and they decided the best way to make the over half-mile journey was to carry the boy in his chair. “It was amazing to see such kindness,” Shannon told CBS News.

One of the men had his son with him, who immediately thought Matthew looked like a king being carried in his throne. That made Matthew laugh – and made the whole situation better. Shannon was so touched that she wrote a Facebook post that attracted media attention for how much the help of a few strangers meant to them.

Finding no way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down...through the front of Jesus. (Luke 5:19)

Jesus, where my strength is needed, may I always be willing to help.

March 1

A B.O.L.D. Youth Ministry

During Lent 2019, young people from Memphis, Michigan, chose to fast for 30 hours and sleep outdoors to help those in need. As reported by the Detroit Catholic, B.O.L.D. Youth Ministry, which includes members from St. Augustine and Holy Family parishes, sponsored the event to raise money for the charity World Vision.

Youth minister Jennifer McClelland explained, “This is a program we did last year where the children give pledges and donations to raise money for countries with starvation and water shortages.” The students only consumed water and Gatorade the entire time. They also took part in challenges that helped them understand what poor people in other countries endure. For instance, they would carry two gallons of water a certain distance to recreate what villagers without nearby water do.

Tenth-grader Brennan McClelland said, “Doing a retreat like this makes you think hard about what God has given you, what you have to be thankful for, and it opens your eyes to the needs of others.”

Is not this the fast that I share your bread with the hungry? (Isaiah 58:6-7)

Open my eyes to the needs of others, Jesus.

February 29

Lost and Found

         Over six years ago, 17-year-old Rameil Pitamber had just lost his father, and was struggling to keep his grades up. “I was lost,” he told CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz. “I was a follower, and one poor decision led to the next.”

Pitamber’s string of bad decisions culminated in the worst decision of all: robbing a Little Caesars pizzeria at gunpoint with his friend who worked there. Pitamber was caught, convicted and sentenced to 11 years in prison. Brian Nugent, a deputy police officer in Avon, Indiana, was the person who arrested Pitamber.

Years later, Pitamber was released early for good behavior and started volunteering at a Goodwill store. There, he again encountered “Detective Brian,” who remembered him. An impromptu lunch between the two led to a friendship that continues to this day. With Brian’s help, Pitamber has found steady work, and is even attending school. “[Detective Brian] treated me with compassion,” Pitamber gratefully concluded. “To this day, he still builds my worth and self-esteem. With him in my corner, I can do anything.”

Set the believers an example. (1 Timothy 4:12)

Christ, help us to be strong, positive mentors for our youth.

February 28

                       How McDonald’s Went Meatless                        

          The story of how McDonald’s added the Filet-O-Fish sandwich to their menu is grounded in the Catholic tradition of meatless Fridays. Reader’s Digest featured an article crediting the creation of the country’s most famous (and widespread) fried fish sandwich to Lou Groen of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Groen had been in the restaurant business for a while when he purchased Cincinnati’s first McDonald’s franchise in 1959. He noticed that on Friday nights, typically one of the best for restaurant profits, his sales were plummeting.

Groen knew that the area’s large Catholic population was looking for meatless options, so he sought out a fish sandwich with tartar sauce to add to the menu. McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc wasn’t impressed, however. He wanted to try a meatless “Hula Burger” with a pineapple slice instead of beef.

The two made an agreement: both would be added to Groen’s menus, and they would see which had higher sales. The rest is history, and since then Catholics (and all people) have enjoyed the Filet-O-Fish on Fridays – and any day of the week. 

For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken. (Luke 5:9)

Feed my soul this Lenten season, Jesus.

February 27

A Spirit of Unity

Singer-songwriter PJ Anderson recently led a service pilgrimage for young people in association with Catholic Heart Work Camp. They traveled to Rome to volunteer in a soup kitchen called Casa Scalabrini, named after an Italian priest who was dedicated to caring for refugees and immigrants. Residents at the facility came from Africa, Tibet, and other countries.

PJ’s group met with the refugees and found that they took great pride in their new home. The refugees also cooked foods from their homelands and served the retreat group because it made them feel good to be of service themselves.

Though some of the refugees didn’t speak English, PJ called their time together “a community building event...A smile is a smile in whatever language.” And he saw barriers between different peoples break down, creating an experience of unity.

PJ said, “We’re living in a crazy world right now, with lots of hatred and violence…We need to unite our voices as one in love. Not in hate, not in being angry. But let that feeling of anger turn into love, so we can drive out hate with love.”

Have unity of spirit, sympathy, love for one another, a tender heart, and a humble mind. (1 Peter 3:8)

Holy Spirit, help me drive out hate with love.

February 26

Give Up Worry for Lent, Part Three

In Gary Zimak’s book of daily reflections Give Up Worry for Lent: 40 Days to Finding Peace in Christ, he shares a wise quote from Blessed Fulton Sheen: “Nothing is more destined to create deep-seated anxieties in people than the false assumption that life should be free from anxieties.”

Gary knows that quote is especially relevant in the modern age. During an interview with Tony Rossi of The Christophers, he said, “We are creating more anxiety because we buy into the false notion that the only way we can experience peace in life is to be problem-free. Jesus never said that.

“In John 16, He said, ‘You will have problems, you will have tribulations, but be of good cheer. Why? Because I have overcome the world.’ Jesus never promised a problem-free life. He didn’t have one. His mother didn’t have one. St. Joseph didn’t have one…So when we look to eliminate all our problems, we’re trying to control something we can’t control.  Peace is found in the Lord.”

The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:7)

Help me find my peace in You, Jesus.

February 25

Give Up Worry for Lent, Part Two

In Give Up Worry For Lent’s first reflection, author Gary Zimak shares a personal story about one of the most troubling times of his life. His wife was pregnant with twin girls, but they were given only a ten percent chance of survival because they had a condition called twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome. After going for treatment at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Camden, New Jersey, the couple would go to the chapel.

“When you’re going through something like that,” recalled Gary on Christopher Closeup, “you realize just how helpless you are and how much you need the Lord.

“Above the sanctuary were the words of Matthew 11:28: ‘Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’ I remember looking up at those words while my wife and I were kneeling…[and] saying, ‘Lord, I need rest. I need You.’ That’s the message for each of us, especially those who are worried. He wants us to come to Him. That’s the answer.”

Thankfully, the Zimak girls are healthy and now 21 years old. But Gary can never forget about the lesson he learned during that experience. 

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

Give me rest from my worries, Jesus.

February 24

Give Up Worry for Lent, Part One

Gary Zimak absolutely LOVED eating sweets. So for many years, he decided to give them up for Lent as a sacrifice for God. Though he stuck to his commitment, he came to realize that the spiritual benefits were lacking.

During a Christopher Closeup interview, Gary said, “Several weeks into Lent, the focus shifted and I lost sight of why I was doing it. All I kept thinking was: Two weeks until cake! I would literally be standing at the convenience store drooling over doughnuts…It took me a while to [ask]: is this helping me grow spiritually?”

Gary suspected that other people might be having the same results with their Lenten sacrifices, so he wrote a book based on his own experiences with debilitating worry and anxiety. It’s called Give Up Worry for Lent.

Gary said, “People are stressed out about the state of the world, their finances, their health. It is such a powerful open door to lead people to Jesus. They’re looking for relief, and He’s the relief they’re looking for, even though they don’t realize it.”

Do not worry about anything, but...let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)

I bring my worries to You today, Jesus. Help me.

February 23

Bullied Boy’s Birthday Redo

         One Tuesday morning, Grand Rapids Police Officer Austin Lynema saw a little boy running down the block after a school bus. On pulling over and asking the boy if he needed help, Officer Lynema learned that the youngster’s name was Thomas Daniel, he had missed his bus, and his mother didn’t have a car to drive him to school.

The policeman offered Thomas a lift, which he accepted. During the car ride, Thomas confessed that it was his ninth birthday, and he was a having a party later. He was afraid no one would show up because he was bullied by his classmates, so he invited Officer Lynema to his party. The policeman accepted.

Unfortunately, Thomas’s worst fears were realized, and Officer Lynema was his only guest that night. The next day, Lynema and a few other officers took matters into their own hands, and threw Daniel an unforgettable “birthday redo.”

         “No kid should get bullied,” the Grand Rapids Police Department Facebook page posted about the second party, along with pictures from the event. “Next year, Thomas Daniel, make sure you drop us that invite…We wouldn’t want to miss it!” 

         You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31)

         God, comfort and strengthen all victims of bullying.

February 20

A Good Deed Each Day

          Breanne Zolfo of Crown Point, Indiana, owns a small coffee shop, Café Fresco, through which she helps her community practice good deeds.

As reported on the Today Show, it all started six years ago. When the shop wasn’t busy, Breanne would write inspirational quotes on the cups she would give to her customers. That proved popular, so she began writing suggestions for good deeds on the insides of sleeves of coffee. She encouraged customers to donate to homeless shelters or charities, and take a photo of themselves doing it. In exchange, she would give them a free cup of coffee.

         Also in the shop is a special tip jar, where the money raised goes to help someone local with a surprise good deed. Once, she bought a bike for a homeless man with the money. He returned years later to explain what a difference that made in his life.

“We planted a small seed in Crown Point, Indiana, and now people are spreading our mission to other cities and states. When we have other people helping us, that’s when we can do it everywhere,” Zolfo said.

He satisfies the thirsty, and the hungry He fills with good things. (Psalm 107:9)

Lord, help me to do a good deed for someone today.

February 19

Back on the Job—and Glad

Work was the essence of a good life to 81-year-old Harry Sandborn, a retired railroad dispatcher who became a teller for Chase Manhattan Bank.

Sandborn was one of over 100 retirement-age people employed by the bank in a special work program for the elderly begun in 1953. Called “per diems,” they worked as often as five days a week or as little as two or three times a year. Evaluation reports on the “per diems” were always very high.

Explained one 75-year-old worker, “I was bored doing nothing. Now I feel like a model in a ‘before-and-after’ ad. I believe that older workers are more reliable; we were brought up different, we’re more responsible.”

Not every retired person can—or wants to—go back to work. But all deserve an opportunity to make their special contribution. Why not, with God’s help, reach out to one older person you know and make his or her life a little more fulfilling?

In old age they still produce fruit. (Psalm 92:14)

Father, may we show respect and love for older persons.

February 18

Magnificent Miles Finds a Home, Part Two

Lonnie soon learned that applying for an international adoption was “a nightmare.” There were so many hoops to jump through. And the cost was $32,000. But he and his wife already viewed Miles as their son, so they weren’t going to give up. It took 14 months to complete the process, but in 2017, they traveled to Taiwan to pick Miles up from the orphanage and bring him home.

In 2019, Lonnie told Humans of New York, “[Miles is] four years old now. He runs to me every time I open the door...Even though he can’t express himself, he’s amazingly empathetic. He’s drawn to people who look alone. There are meltdowns. And there are days when I feel like I’m not qualified for any of this. But on the days you don’t think you can get through it—you don’t realize that you’re getting through it. And in the end, you’re getting more than you ever give.

“Recently my wife started sending me pictures of other children, but I always said ‘no.’ Until I saw Miles’ little sister for the first time. She’s from the same orphanage. Her name is Maddie. We submitted our papers three weeks ago.”

You have been the helper of the orphan. (Psalm 10:14)

Lead children with special needs to loving homes, Holy Spirit.

February 17

Magnificent Miles Finds a Home, Part One

Lonnie Snyder’s wife kept trying to persuade him to expand their family through adoption, even though they were both pushing 40 and had two teenagers already. Sometimes she would even show him pictures from an organization called Rainbow Kids, which featured orphans with special needs. But Lonnie just wasn’t interested in taking on this new responsibility.

As he told Humans of New York, “One day in 2015, we had an outside speaker visit our office. He talked about his child with Down syndrome. And my heart was completely changed. I went home and told my wife the story. I was crying. She was crying. And I think both of us knew what was going to happen.

“A few days later she forwarded me an email from Rainbow Kids. The title was ‘Magnificent Miles.’ He was living in a Taiwanese orphanage. Just a beautiful little boy. Fifteen months old. Fluffy hair. And all alone. We knew it was our son.”

More of the story tomorrow...

A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you. (Ezekiel 36:26)

February 16

Ask If He Wants to Help You

         Jordan Taylor of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was just doing his job stocking shelves at a grocery store when he noticed he had an audience. Jack Edwards, a 17-year-old with autism, was mesmerized by Taylor’s stocking of the juice and milk in the refrigerator section.

Rather than be put off by the unusual attention, Taylor engaged him. He told CNN, “Something in the back of my mind was just like, ‘Ask if he wants to help you.’”

Taylor and Edwards stocked shelves together for half an hour, carefully and methodically, with Taylor showing Edwards where each item went. Sid Edwards, Jack’s father, said, “It was a big deal. When you go to a grocery store with an autistic kid… people don’t understand. They’re not very accepting. Somehow this young man reached my son.”

Taylor’s kindness created a beautiful memory for Edwards, whose father captured it on video. His Facebook post went viral, allowing tens of thousands of people to view this one act of kindness that lit up a boy’s day.          

Wine and music gladden the heart, but the love of friends is better than either.
(Sirach 40:20)

May I be a friend to somebody today and share Your love, Jesus.

February 15

The Power of Gratitude

         Gratitude can be a powerful force. The act of thanking someone for a kindness, or a job well done, can give glory to God, who should be the ultimate source of our gratitude.

Writer Shemaiah Gonzalez recently reflected on gratitude in a piece on Busted Halo. She wrote about the powerful gospel account of the 10 lepers who were healed, but only one came running back to Jesus to thank Him. Our Lord appreciated the thanks, and sent the man on his way with a blessing for his faith.

         In our everyday lives, the opportunities for gratitude are endless. Those who teach us, who serve us meals, who fix our cars and our plumbing problems, and hundreds of other ordinary tasks all could be boosted by a simple thanks.

By cultivating this attitude, Gonzalez points out, we become more open to the miracles that surround us. She writes, “As I start to thank God for His mercies in my life, I see more answers to prayers: a new friend, someone’s healing, a found solution…God’s blessings become even more apparent. All we have to do is say, ‘Thank You!’”

With gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. (Colossians 3:16)

Thank You, Lord, for this day, and all the good in my life.


February 14

The “Secret” to Staying Married

On the occasion of her parents’ 50th wedding anniversary, nurse Katie Duke revealed on Instagram that they are often asked what their secret is to staying married. This is what her mom and dad had to say:

“There is no such thing as one secret thing that makes a marriage last. It’s a constant effort of forgiveness and love, a consistent dedicated friendship, an open mind, loyalty and faith, the ability to learn from life’s lessons, and letting go of past things that can keep you from growing together.

“Along these years, we’ve learned lessons about the world, about each other, and about ourselves. You see, it’s so easy for people to give up, and we never expected this to be a walk in the park, but after 50 years, every moment was worthwhile. So, at the end of the day, there is no ‘one thing’ that works.

“Find someone who is loyal and loves every aspect of you, even the annoying nuances, find someone who can balance making you laugh and taking you seriously, find someone you do not want to live without, and make a decision to grow together.”

Above all, maintain constant love for one another. (1 Peter 4:8)

Give married couples the wisdom and grace to grow, Lord.


February 12

                                                Should I Pop the Question?                                             

         Romantic infatuation has little to do with true love, in the opinion of Ray Short, a sociologist who taught a marriage course at the University of Wisconsin. True love just doesn’t happen magically, he said, in advising students to make sure they’re really in love before marrying. He offered these checkpoints to identify infatuation:

■ Thinking the other person is faultless.

■ Loss of interest when separated by time or distance.

■ Frequent quarrels.

■ Impatience with the other’s family or friends.

“If you ask yourself about a relationship before you go ahead,” said Short, a married father of five, “it may keep you from saying ‘I do’ and then later saying you don’t.”

There are no infallible signs that a marriage will or will not work. But a willingness to give and receive love wholeheartedly, an unselfish spirit, is a good indication that true love is really there.

And the two shall become one. (Mark 10:8)

Lord, grant couples the wisdom to ask the right questions before they marry.


February 11

Eye Can Write

         Twelve-year-old Jonathan Bryan of Wiltshire, England, was born with severe cerebral palsy. He cannot speak, and relies on oxygen and a feeding tube.

His parents, Chantal and Christopher, were told that because of his severe condition, he would be “unteachable” and that he would never be able to communicate. They didn’t take that answer as the final word, though. In a recent story published on Lightworkers, they shared their journey. 

Chantal developed a technique where Jonathan could spell out words by pointing to an alphabet card with his eyes. Jonathan has done more than communicate his daily thoughts this way: he’s written a 192-page memoir: Eye Can Write.

Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently met Jonathan and was struck by the conversation. He tweeted, “In Jonathan I met a fellow disciple of Christ. He profoundly knows the love and grace of God…He speaks with more conviction and joy of the hope of resurrected life with Christ than I have witnessed for years.”

When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind. (Luke 14:13)

You are closest to those who are suffering, Lord.

February 10

A Teacher’s Heroism

Angela McQueen is a high school teacher in Mattoon, Illinois, who experienced an educator’s worst nightmare. While walking around on cafeteria duty, she noticed a student close to her pull out a handgun.

Without hesitating, she sprang into action, grabbing the shooter’s hand and trying to direct his gun up to the ceiling. After wrestling him to the ground, another teacher jumped in to help subdue him, but not before two students were injured by gunshots (but luckily all survived).

McQueen told the newspaper The Pantograph, “It’s the mama-bear instinct. I don’t have kids of my own, but these are still ‘my’ kids. You’re not going to do this to my kids.”

After the event, McQueen went outside to console the students who had run screaming from the cafeteria. Her only concern was for her students, even more than for her own safety. Local police credit her actions with helping avert a terrible outcome. To the school and student’s families, she is a hero.

No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. (John 15:13)

Lord God, help me honor and be grateful for those who protect the innocent.

February 9

A Dedicated Leader

In the spring of 2019, the University of Notre Dame bestowed the Laetare Medal on Norman Francis, the longtime president of Xavier University of Louisiana, the only historically black Catholic university in the Western Hemisphere.

A civil rights leader and pioneer in Catholic higher education, Francis was the first African American president at Xavier, a school founded by Saint Katharine Drexel. He accepted the post in 1968 and retired last year at the age of 83.

“I did not build Xavier. I was part of Katharine Drexel’s mission to provide a quality education for all,” he said.

In a statement reported by Crux, Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins said, “For more than 50 years, Dr. Francis has been at the center of civil rights advocacy by leveraging the power of Catholic higher education. In bestowing the Laetare Medal upon him, Notre Dame recognizes his leadership in the fight for social justice through educational empowerment.”

How much better to get wisdom than gold! To get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. (Judges 5:12)

Lord, make us leaders who extend opportunity to all. 

February 8

Sick Days to Support a Life

When Alabama high school teacher David Green ran out of sick days to help care for his infant daughter, a group of teachers performed an incredibly selfless act: they donated their sick days. 

In early 2019, David and his wife, Megan, faced a parent’s worst nightmare. They found out their 10-month-old daughter, Kinsley, had leukemia. With Kinsley fighting for her life, the couple was inundated with hospital bills and frequent doctor visits. After David used his last sick day, Megan called on the generosity of others so that her husband could continue to have time with their daughter.

“Kinsley is the biggest daddy’s girl and needs him to be here as often as he can,” Megan wrote in a post, as reported by, “so she would be so thankful for any donated days so she can spend time with her Daddy.”

Alabama teachers answered the call and generously donated 100 sick days to David. One such teacher, Anna Kachelman, told WHNT-TV, “This was a real physical way that we could help him and his family.”

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. (Ecclesiastes 3:1)

Dear Lord, help me answer the call to give the gift of time.

February 7

Because One Person Cared

         In the harsh winter of 1954, Abbé Henri Pierre, a Capuchin monk who had been a hero of the French Resistance, mobilized the entire government and people of France to do something for the poor and homeless who were dying in the streets.

         Abbé Pierre called for the creation of shelters to help those without homes–and many people responded. He helped build 8,000 low-rent apartments in the Paris area. He founded 52 self-sustaining communes in France and helped 100 others throughout the world.

The initiative was called the “Emmaus movement” after the New Testament town near which two disciples met the risen Christ. The homes were supported by people selling scrap paper and repairing and selling broken furniture and appliances.

The Emmaus motto is, “Give instant help to those nearest and in need. Show them how to help themselves. Afterward, let them help others.”

         Thousands received decent housing, food and jobs because one man saw a need and began to fill it.

         Trust in the Lord, and do good. (Psalm 37:3)

         Grant us a greater measure of courage, Jesus, to follow You with trusting hearts.

February 6

A Trailblazer’s Vision

The doctor gave 19-year-old Willie O’Ree the bad news bluntly: the retina in his right eye was shattered and he would be blind for life, never able to play hockey again.

It was 1955, and O’Ree was with Canada’s Junior League Kitchener Canucks. A puck had struck him in the right eye because helmets and face shields were not yet a part of the game.

O’Ree felt devastated at first, but soon realized he could still see perfectly out of his left eye. As reported by Tony Paige in New York’s Daily News, O’Ree made adjustments when he was on the ice so he could see what was going on. When a professional team eventually invited him to join because he was such a good player, he didn’t volunteer the information about his right-eye-blindness—and the team never asked.

O’Ree went on to play 21 years of professional hockey and, as an African Canadian who became the NHL’s first black player, came to be known as the Jackie Robinson of hockey. When he talks to kids today, he offers his life as proof that goals can be achieved despite tremendous challenges.

I will lead the blind by a road they do not know. (Isaiah 42:16)

Help me overcome my challenges, Lord.

February 4

The Heart of Perfection, Part Three

One of the recovering perfectionists that Colleen Carroll Campbell admires is St. Jane de Chantal, a widow with four young children. She dealt with numerous challenges, including difficult in-laws. Colleen said, “Jane was intense…She was skimping on sleep...She was trying to pray around the clock. Meanwhile, everything was falling apart around her.”

Then Jane met Francis de Sales, who dispelled Jane’s notion that God wanted her to do everything perfectly and drive herself harder and harder. Colleen noted that Francis taught her, “Be gentle with the child who interrupts you. Decide not to gossip about those in-laws who drive you crazy...Be patient with everyone, but above all with yourself.”

Colleen concluded, “When Jane internalized this advice, she not only became more patient with herself, but it trickled down. She became more patient with the in-laws, the kids...She grew into this paragon of gentleness…It’s amazing what grace can do in the life of any perfectionist if we open our hearts to God’s dream of perfect for us rather than our own.”

The patient in spirit are better than the proud in spirit. (Ecclesiastes 7:8)

Increase my patience with myself and others, Holy Spirit.

February 3

The Heart of Perfection, Part Two

As a result of her experiences, Colleen Carroll Campbell wrote a book called The Heart of Perfection: How the Saints Taught Me to Trade My Dream of Perfect for God’s.

In it, she addresses Jesus’ mandate “Be perfect as your heavenly father is perfect.” During a Christopher Closeup interview, Colleen said, “I did struggle a lot with that. I thought the universal call to holiness meant that…anything short of flawlessness is something to beat yourself up about.” 

Eventually, Colleen found new truths about God in the parable of the Prodigal Son. She notes that serious Christians often have trouble seeing themselves as the prodigal son because we think we’re holier than him. But in reality, we all fall short of pleasing God at times, and we are all in need of His mercy.

“When you begin to embrace that,” said Colleen, “you’re no longer imposing this intense standard on yourself [because] you realize that’s not what God is asking of you. He’s not asking for flawlessness. He’s asking more and more for surrender.”

More of Colleen’s story tomorrow...

While he was still far off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion. (Luke 15:20)

Move me beyond the damaging effects of perfectionism, Jesus.

February 2

The Heart of Perfection, Part One

“Any time our faith becomes more about criticizing others – or even criticizing ourselves – rather than leaning on and loving Jesus, we’re in trouble.” That’s an insight that Colleen Carroll Campbell gleaned about herself – and society in general – when she began reflecting on her own perfectionist nature.

The author had always prided herself on doing her jobs flawlessly. But when she became a mother, the level of perfection she demanded from herself was emotionally and spiritually draining—and impossible to live up to.

Colleen looked to her Catholic faith for answers, specifically to the saints she had admired for their perfectionism. She discovered that these holy men and women were actually recovering perfectionists, who had followed a new path after gaining divine spiritual insights.

In addition, Colleen learned that an obsession with flawlessness is rooted in the idea that we can earn God’s love instead of simply receiving it as the gift and grace that it is.

More of Colleen’s story tomorrow...

My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.

(2 Corinthians 12:9)

Teach me to be less critical of myself and others, Jesus.

February 1

An Educator for the Ages

Born in Plum, Texas, in 1885, Clara Belle Williams had a love for learning. As she got older, she pursued higher education at Prairie View Normal and Independent College, graduating as valedictorian in 1908. But not everything came easy for Williams. The reason: she was African American.

While teaching at Booker T. Washington Elementary School in Las Cruces, New Mexico, Williams began taking courses at New Mexico College of Agriculture & Mechanic Arts (NMCA&MA). Because she was black, many of her professors wouldn’t allow her to sit in their classrooms with the white students. Williams was forced to stand in the hallway and take notes from there. But she refused to let racism hold her back.

Williams earned her Bachelor’s Degree in English in 1937, becoming NMCA&MA’s first black graduate. She remained a lifelong learner and educator—and her three sons all graduated college with medical degrees.

Clara Belle Williams lived to the age of 108, leaving behind a legacy that continues to be admired today.

[Mortals] look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.

(1 Samuel 16:7)

Guide and heal the victims of racism, Lord.

January 30

                                  Sadie to the Rescue!                                  

         It was 3:30 p.m. on a Wednesday, and 11-year-old pit bull Sadie was a dog on a mission. Her owner, Serena Costello, was not home, but Sadie’s sharp nose had sniffed out a gas leak in the house. After trying unsuccessfully to break out through the front door, the tenacious pit bull somehow managed to open the back sliding door and began racing down her block, relentlessly barking in alarm.

Someone called the New York Tuckahoe Police Department, believing her to be a runaway dog. When the cops came and tried to catch her, however, Sadie eluded them, forcing them to chase her all the way back to her home. “When they [police] went to investigate,” Lawrence Rotta of the police department told CBS2, “they noticed an odor of gas emanating from the doorway.”

         The police notified the fire department and electric company, and the gas was turned off. A potentially deadly crisis was averted—all thanks to one plucky and persistent dog. “You saved us,” Costello crooned to Sadie, as she gave her beloved pet a grateful hug.

Who teaches us more than the animals? (Job 35:11)

Abba, bless our pets, faithful companions and protectors of us all.

January 29

                      Making Peace in an Angry World                       

In The New York Times, columnist David Brooks noted that angry disagreement has become widespread in American culture today. He offered several thoughts on pursuing a better way.

■ “Your narrative will never win. In many intractable conflicts...each side wants the other to...admit it was wrong the whole time. This will never happen...Find a new narrative.”

■ “Agree on something. If you’re in the middle of an intractable disagreement, find some preliminary thing you can agree on so you can at least take a step into a world of shared reality.”

■ “Gratitude. People who are good at relationships are always scanning the scene for things they can thank somebody for.”

■ “Never sulk or withdraw. If somebody doesn’t understand you, not communicating won’t help her understand you better.”

■ “Reject either/or. The human mind has a tendency to reduce problems to either we do this or we do that...There are usually many more options neither side has imagined yet.”

■ “Presume the good. Any disagreement will go better if you assume the other person has good intentions.”

Put away from you all bitterness and wrath and anger...and be kind to one another. (Ephesians 4:31-32)

Teach me to be a peacemaker, Messiah.

January 28

Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents

What are three things in the world you wish you could have? That’s the question a fifth-grader asked nursing home residents near her hometown of Harrison, Arkansas. Their answers not only surprised her, but prompted her to help grant their wishes.

When Ruby Kate Chitsey visited the nursing home where her mother worked in 2018, she asked residents what they wished for. To her surprise, many of them lacked simple luxuries to make them happy: pants that fit, food from outside the nursing home, a working phone in their room since they were lonely.

Ruby became emotional at their responses and, with her mother’s help, started a GoFundMe page called “Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents.” The youngster raised nearly $70,000 to grant these residents, and many more in other nursing homes, their wishes. 

“They weren’t new cars or a million dollars [they wanted],” Ruby told CNN. “They were very simple things that you could just go in Walmart and get—and that’s what we do.”

Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. (Matthew 5:8)

Help me, Lord, to share the simple luxuries in my life.

January 27

Prayer of Gratitude

         This is a story about how an American flyer developed a philosophy of life while in a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II.

         When Lt. Robert H. Doolan’s plane was shot down over Holland, he was arrested and placed in solitary confinement for one month. Finally, he was sent to a POW camp where he lost 40 pounds.

         Despite the hardships he faced, he wrote the following prayer in prison: “O Lord, let me remember: That every day I awaken is a beautiful day. That there is always someone worse off than I who needs my help. That there is no such thing as bad food. That prayer will accomplish miracles. Let these simple facts be my guide through life.”

         That attitude helped him pull through. If you’re facing small or large challenges in your life, consider saying Lt. Doolan’s prayer. Maybe it can help you pull through, too.

My steps have held fast to Your paths…I call upon You, for You will answer me, O God. (Psalm 17:5,6)

I have tried to walk in Your way, God. Help me in times of trouble.

January 26

The Will to Learn

         Joseph Wallace grew up poor and struggling in Manhattan. At age 17, he dropped out of school, barely able to read at a second grade level. He explained: “When you’re a kid and you don’t have decent clothes, you don’t want to go to school.”

         Wallace took a job in the garment district, pushing trolleys through the streets. With perseverance and hard work, he managed to establish his own dry-cleaning business and made it a success. But he still could not read or write.

         So Wallace decided to do something about it. He found a teacher willing to give him private lessons, and started studying. He finally began to master reading and writing at the age of 42. It is never too late to learn. God gives us the power to better ourselves, to grow, to acquire new skills no matter our age or condition. But it takes patience and determination. What area of your life needs a fresh decision to turn it around?

Learn where there is wisdom, where there is strength, where there is understanding. (Baruch 3:14)

Lord, don’t let past failures or shame hold me back from pursuing a worthwhile goal. Give me the courage to move in the right direction.

January 25

“You Need Food? I’ll Give You Food”               

         One Saturday evening, Jitendra “Jay” Singh, owner of a 7-Eleven in Toledo, Ohio, was informed by one of his clerks that a possible shoplifter was wandering around the store. From the surveillance cameras in his office, Singh witnessed a young man stuffing several snack items into his pockets.

Jay directed his employee to dial 911, and stepped out to confront the teenager. When Jay asked him why he was stealing, the teen admitted it was because he and his brother were hungry. On hearing this, Jay told his clerk to hang up the phone.

“I said, “You need food?’” Jay recounted to CBS News.

“I’ll give you food. That’s not a problem.”

         Cedric Bishop, another customer in the store, then saw Jay fill a bag with more substantial hot food items and give it to the boy, free of charge. Bishop was so moved by Jay’s kindness to the youngster that he posted this story to his social media account, where it received an overwhelmingly positive response.

         “It’s basically our Indian culture that if you give food to a hungry person,” Singh humbly concludes, “that’s considered like God will bless you for that.”

I was hungry and you gave Me food. (Matthew 25:35)

Father, whenever possible, may we respond with kindness.

January 24

How to Predict a Snowstorm

         You can tell when a snowstorm is coming by looking for natural weather signs, wrote William E. Osgood in Wintering in Snow Country. Here are some things to watch for:

■ A red sky at sunrise that changes quickly to lemon yellow.

■ A halo around the sun or moon, caused by snow crystals in the atmosphere.

■ The hunger of birds. Birds know snow is on the way and they try to eat all they can before it starts falling.

■ A shivery cold feeling. This is caused by the high humidity that usually precedes a storm.

■ Sounds. They carry very distinctly and can be heard long distances just before a storm.

         Jesus once told people that they could read the signs of an approaching storm in the sky, but could not understand the signs of the times. He reminded them that each of us is accountable for the way we live our lives. So remember to love both God and neighbor each and every day.

You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the time. (Matthew 16:3)

Give us insight into your ways, Father.

January 20

MLK on Loving Your Enemies

The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pursued civil rights for African Americans in a peaceful way because he took to heart Jesus’ call to “love your enemies.” In one sermon, quoted in the book A Knock at Midnight, he shared his thoughts on the subject:

“There is a final reason, I think, that Jesus says, ‘Love your enemies.’ It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long.

“Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies.”

Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:44)

Strengthen my ability to love my enemies, Jesus.

January 19

The Friendship Houses

In Durham, North Carolina, something unique is happening in North Street Neighborhood, where “people with and without disabilities...flourish in a shared life of welcome, belonging, and mutuality, with Jesus at the center.”

Specifically, the Friendship Houses allow graduate students at Duke Divinity School to live with someone who has a disability. The results have been a grace for everyone involved.

Amy Papinchak has a developmental disorder, which results in intellectual disability. Before moving to North Street, she felt alone. But once she joined this special community – and especially after she became best friends with a young woman named Avery Bond – Amy’s life and spirit thrived!

Amy and Avery act like lifelong, loving sisters. Avery’s husband Zach, who also took part in this project, told ABC News’ Local-ish, “Slowing down and allowing be in friendship with people with disabilities is a hidden treasure we’re missing out on in our busy lives. Maybe just slow down and get to know one person who’s different than you.”

A true friend sticks closer than one’s nearest kin.

(Proverbs 18:24)

May I be welcoming to someone with special needs, Lord.

January 18

A Robbery’s Unexpected Outcome

In 1996, 18-year-old Danny Givens and some friends entered a St. Paul, Minnesota VFW hall intent on robbing everyone there. Givens shot off a bullet right away to make sure people knew he meant business. But he hadn’t counted on armed, off-duty police Sergeant Art Blakey being there. The two exchanged fire, with each one being shot in the stomach.

When Sgt. Blakey’s daughter Brooke arrived at the hospital, her father’s first words to her were, “I’m fine, is he OK?” She couldn’t believe that her dad was so concerned about the criminal who had shot him. But that’s who Blakey was.

He asked the judge for leniency when Givens was sentenced, and he visited Givens’ mother during the 12 years he was in jail. Givens told KARE-TV, “I was in prison the whole time knowing this gentleman had nothing but love for me.”

Givens became a Christian in prison, and when he returned home after his release, Blakey was there. Blakey hugged Givens and said, “I’m so proud of you. I love you. I forgive you.” The two men remained friends until Blakey’s death in 2018.

God proves His love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

Teach me to practice Christ-like love, Divine Savior.

January 17

The Blessing of a Pothole

Paramedics in Gretna, Nebraska, were racing a 59-year-old man to the hospital because his heart was beating 200 times a minute. He would need an electric shock to return his heart to its normal rhythm, but the hospital was 20 minutes away.

Suddenly, the ambulance hit a tremendous pothole that delivered such a jolt to the vehicle that the man’s heart rhythm returned to normal! One doctor explained that this kind of occurrence is extremely rare, but it can happen—and a man’s life may have been saved in the process.

In life, it’s easy to get distracted by the pursuit of money or comfort or power. As a result, we might lose track of what’s most important. Then, we hit a metaphorical pothole — an unexpected occurrence or piece of news — that shocks us back to reality, restoring our natural rhythm.

Try to live in a way that you don’t need potholes to remind you how precious your health, your loved ones, and all God’s blessings are.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to You, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

Guide my steps to live according to Your will, Father.

January 16

The Right Attitude

Eddie Luisi has worked in television for most of his life, most notably as “stage manager to the stars” on ABC’s Good Morning America, but also as director of The Christophers’ old television show. While giving a talk to students at Keokuk High School in Iowa, he shared one secret to his successful career: an excellent work ethic.

As an example, he recalled one of his first jobs in TV that started at 6:30 a.m. Luisi noticed that the producers “were coming in tired and cranky, so I got there at six in the morning and had some of the work done when they arrived.” His bosses noticed his commitment, positive attitude, and hard work, so when an opportunity for a promotion came up, he got it.

Luisi advised the students to approach their lives and careers in the same way. He said, “I’ve done the news, weather, sports...whatever they needed. I learned from every job, every experience, and I always treated everybody with kindness. Every person on earth should be treated with kindness.”

Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord. (Colossians 3:23)

Lord, instill me with initiative and a positive attitude.

January 15

The World’s Oldest Barber

Does doing what you love keep you young? Ask 108-year-old Anthony Mancinelli.

After 95 years in the barber business and cutting three generations of hair, the Italian immigrant and New Windsor, New York resident has been named the “world’s oldest barber” by the Guinness Book of World Records.

In 1919, Mancinelli emigrated to New York with his family from Naples, Italy. To help his family financially, he decided to learn the barber trade when he was 12 years old. He opened his own shop seven years later, and now – more than nine decades later – he still loves what he’s doing.

He is asked by even his doctor what is the secret to his long life? “Only one man knows the secret,” Mancinelli told Guideposts. “The Man above…I tried never to do anything wrong, so maybe the Man above is rewarding me with long life.”

Mancinelli still has no retirement plans and hopes to keep doing what he loves until the Lord takes him.

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long. (Psalm 23:6)

Lord, help me to live each blessed day to its fullest.

January 14

Snow Angels Help Dialysis Patient

Natalie Blair feared the winter weather forecast. As a dialysis patient, a huge snowstorm could be a matter of life or death. To her relief, four high school seniors came to her rescue and shoveled a path so that she could reach her dialysis treatment on time. 

When high school student Patrick Lanigan heard the forecast for eight inches of snow in his New Jersey community, he knew he needed to do something to ensure that his neighbor, Blair, could reach her dialysis treatment.    

As reported by CNN, Lanigan, along with three other Parsippany High School seniors, helped shovel Blair’s pathway at 4:30 a.m. the following morning. The pathway was cleared in 30 minutes and Blair was able to get to her treatment on time. 

 The students’ act of kindness was captured by a photo and shared on social media by Lanigan’s father, Peter, who called the four high school students “Snow Angels.” And that is exactly what they were by helping a neighbor in need. 

You have shown me great kindness in saving my life.

(Genesis 19:19)

Loving God, may I put my neighbors’ needs before my own.

January 12

Ulster Project Finds Common Ground

      When the opportunity presented itself for Melinda Leonard to    bring a chapter of the Ulster Project to Louisville, Kentucky, she took it without hesitation. She experienced the project years before while living in Tennessee and understood its ability to build bridges between people of different religions.

   The Ulster Project brings both Catholic and Protestant teens from Northern Ireland to live with families in specific places in the United States for one month stays, during which time they engage in activities for the purposes of finding common ground.

   The host families always have a teenager of the same age, so the experience becomes a dynamic intersection of people from various backgrounds working to understand how to live in harmony with one another.

    In an interview with The Record newspaper, Leonard said, “My hope is that we get to the end of the program and these teens will have been informed and encouraged that they possess the skills to be effective leaders and peacemakers, and that they can make a difference in their communities and in the world.”

Those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also. (1 John 4:21)

Lord, help me to build bridges between people.

January 11

Wrong Number Spawns Beautiful Friendship

Though Callie Hall was a young adult, she felt devastated when she heard her parents were getting a divorce. Little did she know that a wrong number from a stranger would help her through that difficult time.

 One day, Callie got a phone call from an unknown number, so she let it go to voicemail. It was from a woman named Grandmamma Margaret, who mistook Callie’s number for her grandson Barry’s. Callie called her back to explain she had the wrong number, but Grandmamma Margaret kept calling.

“It brought me joy to see that number come up on the phone because of the amount of love and joy she had,” Callie recalled to Southern Living

 Soon, Grandmamma Margaret was leaving messages not for Barry, but for Callie herself. These phone calls quickly blossomed into a friendship, so the older woman invited Callie to visit her home in Columbia, South Carolina.

Callie said that Grandmamma Margaret was just as lovely in person and she is “beyond blessed this sweet lady called the wrong number.”  

You shall also love the stranger. (Deuteronomy 10:19)

Jesus, I trust You’ll help guide me in difficult times.

January 10

Destigmatizing Mental Illness

         Twenty-five years ago, Deacon Tom Lambert from the Archdiocese of Chicago learned that his oldest daughter was suffering from a mental illness. When he and his wife looked to the Church for mental health resources, they found nothing. So they decided to do something.

Deacon Lambert helped found a local commission and national Catholic council on mental illness. He told U.S. Catholic, “One in four people deal with a mental illness in any given year. For one in 22 people, that illness is persistent and chronic. These people are in our pews, in our neighborhoods, and in our families...yet we don’t talk about mental health.

“Because mental illness is so stigmatizing, people feel they’re going through this alone. Showing them that there are those who accept them for who they are and what they’re going through and love them for who they are is the ultimate spiritual gift we can bring. One of the most healing things we can do as people of faith is to listen to others, hear what they’re going through, and meet their spiritual needs.”

Since you are eager for spiritual gifts, strive to excel in them for building up the church. (1 Corinthians 14:12)

May I be a source of healing to others, Divine Physician

January 9

God’s Divine Appointment

Foster parenting is close to Hallmark Channel actress Jen Lilley’s heart because she and her husband Jason are foster parents themselves. In fact, they adopted the son they had fostered for two years, and also took in his little brother.

Lilley recalled that, initially, she was hoping for a child that was elementary school age, particularly the 8-year-old girl she and Jason had been mentoring. But that plan didn’t go through so the agency asked them to take in a four-month-old boy with special needs. Lilley felt reluctant to do so, but ultimately agreed. She now calls it “God’s divine appointment.”

She said on Christopher Closeup, “That process ever since has been the most rewarding, emotionally stretching, and spiritually stretching journey of my life. I would do it again, 100 times over, and I hope to foster until I die.”

Parenting has also deepened Lilley’s love and appreciation for her husband. She explained, “If you already have a good marriage, I highly suggest throwing kids in the mix because it opens up your heart on a whole different level.”

Whoever welcomes one such child in My name welcomes Me. (Mark 9:37)

Open couples to the idea of foster parenting, Jesus.

January 8

                                                       Honor Servants                                                     

While volunteering at a nursing home, 27-year-old Beth Regan noticed the beautiful relationship between World War II veteran Bob Graham and his wife, Rosie.

“He brushed her hair every morning,” Regan told CBS News. “He’d hold a mirror in front of her and tell her every day how beautiful she was. When she was unable to hold utensils, every day Bob would feed her first before he ate himself.”

When Rosie passed away, Regan continued to visit Bob. Then, two years later, at age 97, he passed away as well. Worried that few people would attend his funeral, Regan used social media to invite people to honor this amazing man at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Westchester County, New York.

What happened next stunned her. Hundreds of people showed up to give him a hero’s funeral, complete with a police motorcade, a pipe and drum corps, and over 200 military veterans, police, and firefighters from all over New York. Regan said, “I’m overwhelmed with emotion and support. The outpouring of love is incredible.”

The faithful will abound with blessings.

(Proverbs 28:20)

Lord, may we always honor those who have served.

January 7

Light in Winter’s Darkness

On a frigid January evening, author Mary DeTurris Poust, tired after a long workday, arrived home to take her dog out for a walk. Her mood was as dark as the night sky until she noticed “white twinkling lights on the neighbor’s trees and the sight of a family gathering around a dinner table through a brightly backlit window...I was suddenly overwhelmed by the beauty of everyday life in an artistic creation right outside my front door.”

DeTurris Poust returned home with a new perspective: “With the holidays behind us and a lot more winter ahead, it can be easy to get bogged down in the darkness and drudgery...Our minds are already counting the days to spring and sunshine.”

“What if, instead, we basked in the density of winter darkness, settled in for the season, and focused instead on the flashes of light and color and warmth that are even more brilliant than usual because of the stark contrast to the world around us?...Simple joys hidden in plain sight can make all the difference, if we can learn to stay in—and appreciate—the now of our lives.”

Be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God. (Romans 12:2)

Open my eyes to the lights in the darkness, Savior.

January 6

Why Don’t You Just Trust in God?

          Anthony Hopkins is one of the world’s most celebrated actors of stage and screen. From his portrayals of chilling psychopaths to reserved English authors, he brings a passion and intensity to his roles. That intensity worked against him in his earlier years, though, leading him towards alcoholism.

When he was in his late 30s, Hopkins knew he had to stop drinking. He was attending AA meetings when a woman asked a question that changed his life: “Why don’t you just trust in God?” From then on, the self-described atheist began to think about God. Whether it was grace or desperation, he turned to God. His desire to drink left him, never to return.

Hopkins has held on to faith in his life. He speaks charitably about his former cohort of atheists, but also muses, “I wonder about some of them: why are they protesting so much? How are they so sure of what is out there? And who am I to refute the beliefs of so many great philosophers and martyrs all the way down the years?”

The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls; on finding one pearl of great value, he...sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45-46)

Your promises, Lord, are worth more than earthly glory.

January 5

Business Owner Offers Second Chances

         George Vorel of Carnegie, Pennsylvania, is a successful business owner who operates industrial steel plants. The work is dangerous and requires precision. Perhaps that’s why many are shocked to hear that Vorel has hired, and continues to hire, former drug addicts who are in recovery. 

          He told his story in Guideposts, focusing on his family’s experience with addiction and his personal conversion. Vorel’s daughter was in and out of trouble and rehab, struggling to stay clean. One day, he heard a preacher on the radio talking about St. Paul’s letter to the Romans and about being conformed to God’s will. Vorel began to pray and came to see that the best role he could play in his daughter’s life was to love her, no matter what.

         Eventually she was successful with her recovery, and Vorel saw what a difference that made. Like his experience drawing closer to God, recovery was a second chance at a new life. Vorel decided to do everything he could to give that same second chance to others, and he began by welcoming job applicants who were in recovery.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. (Matthew 5:7)

Jesus, may I reflect Your mercy to those in my life.

January 4

A Flight Attendant with a Servant’s Heart

Vicki Heath had met thousands of passengers during her years as a flight attendant for Southwest Airlines, but there was something special about Tracy Sharp, a 35-year-old woman with Down syndrome who was flying back home to Sacramento with her parents. After engaging the family in conversation, Vicki learned that Tracy’s dream was to work as a flight attendant.

Vicki stayed in touch with the Sharps, and several weeks later called with the offer to have Tracy serve as her assistant on a flight from Sacramento to Seattle. Tracy was thrilled!

Her parents joined her on the trip and relished watching their daughter interact with passengers and hand out food and drinks. As reported by Woman’s World magazine, “At the end of the flight, all the passengers applauded their wonderful flight attendant, and Tracy boasted a 100-watt smile.”

Tracy’s dad, Terry, said, “Her self-confidence has expanded.” Vicki added, “I will never know why God chose me to befriend Tracy, but He did. I’ve learned it doesn’t take much to make somebody happy...and it brings you amazing joy, too!”

She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. (Proverbs 31:26)

Lead me to bring joy to someone today, Father.

January 3

                             It Was a God Thing                      

Jamario Howard, JaMychol Baker, and Tae Knight were waiting for their order at Brad's Bar-B-Que in Oxford, Alabama, when Jamario noticed an elderly woman sitting by herself. He wondered if she might be lonely, so he went over, began chatting with her, and learned her name was Eleanor Baker.

Eleanor told Jamario a little about her life, including that she was a widow and tomorrow would have been her 60th wedding anniversary. The young man knew he couldn’t leave this lady by herself, so he invited her to join him and his friends for dinner. She did, and they had a wonderful evening together.

When Jamario posted a picture of them all on Facebook, the story went viral. Eleanor told CBS News that she considers the evening “a God thing. I think God sent me there.”

Jamario added, “I used to say when I was younger, and I still say today, I want to change the world somehow. And I don’t know how. I’m not rich. I’m not famous...But we can show the world it’s alright to be kind. And then, before long, maybe the world will be a much better place.”

If we love one another, God lives in us, and His love is perfected in us. (1 John 4:12)

Help me show the world “it’s alright to be kind,” Lord.

January 2

Reach Out to Others in the New Year, Part Two

Here are more of Elizabeth Manneh’s New Year’s resolutions (via to help ease the loneliness of others:

■ “Carry yourself with kindness. Treating others with a positive attitude can make a huge difference in someone’s day. Smile and say hello to the supermarket cashier, the bank teller, or the senior citizen in line for the bus.”

■ “Put your skills to good use. When I was a single parent, I dreaded facing household maintenance or repair jobs, and was overjoyed when our neighbor offered to fix our gas fireplace when the switch got stuck. For some, even a small job like repairing a leaky faucet is a task that can seem mountainous, but it’s easy for the handy DIY enthusiast. Think about what needs you might be able to meet in your community.”

■ “Send a handwritten card. Snail mail is not dead!...Why not dust off your pen and write a good old-fashioned letter? Many older people struggle with modern technology, but will keep and reread a letter over and over again.”

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. (Psalm 25:16)

Teach me to be of service to others, Jesus.

January 1

Reach Out to Others in the New Year, Part One

After reading about a study that showed loneliness in the United States had reached epidemic proportions, Elizabeth Manneh felt that God was challenging her to improve the lives of others as her New Year’s resolution. Writing on the website Busted Halo, she shared some of her ideas:

■ “Be observant. It’s easy to miss signs of loneliness, so keep an eye out for those on the fringes who might benefit from words of welcome, a friendly conversation, or a kind gesture.”

■ “Give your time. Maybe somebody you know is struggling with a stressful job, coping with a personal crisis, or lives alone and doesn’t feel like going out without a companion. Offer to take them for a much-needed night out.”

■ “Taking someone to medical appointments is another way to give your time. A few years ago, my mother needed regular hospital treatments every day for three weeks, and the hospital was over 25 miles away. Her church made up a rotation of people who drove her there, chatted with her while she waited, and brought her home afterwards. She felt very loved.”

More tomorrow...

Bear one another’s burdens. (Galatians 6:2)

Make me sensitive to the loneliness of others, Lord.

December 31

Ten Things You’ll Never Regret Doing

         “She tried, with God’s grace, to be caritas [charity] to those around her.” So writes Sister Theresa Aletheia Noble about her friend and fellow Daughter of St. Paul, Sister Caritas Forte, who died in 2018 after a long, debilitating illness.

After Sister Caritas died, the other sisters discovered a list in her journals, called “10 Things I Will Never Regret Doing Before Death.” The list offers good advice (and possible New Year’s resolutions) for everyone, so here it is:

1. Do good to everyone.

2. Do not speak ill of anyone.

3. Reflect before speaking.

4. Do not speak when agitated.

5. Help the less fortunate.

6. Admit your errors.

7. Be patient with everyone.

8. Listen, but not to gossip.

9. Don’t believe displeasing things about others.

10. Prepare for death.

Do not forget My teaching, but let your heart keep My commandments. (Proverbs 3:1)

Remind me to integrate wise advice into my life, Father

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