3 Things I Learned about Life from Mowing the Lawn

According to author Joyce Meyer, “Even if you think the grass is greener on the other side, you’re going to have to mow that side too.” I got to thinking about grass, growth, and the greener side of things during a rare backyard mowing session. Due to precipitation from the late summer thunderstorms and the extended time between mowings, it took longer than usual to mow.

Mowing the Lawn

The sound of the lawn mower combined with the cool from a steady breeze allowed me mind to wander. I got to thinking, “I wish I trimmed the grass more often. It is like I am in a jungle out here!’ Mowing more frequently will make cutting the lawn easier. I also learned the following lessons about life as I gave my backyard its much needed haircut!

Cut Concerns Down with Consistency

“Part of courage is simple consistency,” Peggy Noonan, former speech writer for the late President Ronald Reagan stated. Maintaining frequency and a steady habit when it comes to your work and family life go a long ways in trimming down trouble. Probably the single because reasons for my success in dealing with irate customers was that I consistency approached the situations with tried and true methods to address and resolve their concerns. When you discover a process that work for your particular situation don’t change it. You may have to adjust your approach from time to time. You will likely have to tailor your service to fit client or customer needs, but the overall approach is consistency.

consistently grateful

As a writer, I have learned that my best success occurs when I am consistently creating content. I make it my goal to post at least 2-3 times a week to ensure I am reaching you my audience. If I go on a sudden writing hiatus, you will be disenchanted about my work. You may get bummed you did not see the latest article. Eventually, if the erraticness goes to long, an audience could leave. I would be bummed as well! I enjoy hearing your feedback. I enjoy seeing my favorite bloggers write regularly.

Being consistent builds trust. Consistent communication between a husband and wife forges trust. Consistent content generation helps businesses establish with their customers. Be consistent. Mow the lawn frequently and your grass will shine green for you!

Grow Consistently and Healthily with Gratitude

Want to experience a joy that is unshakable and frequently visited? Let’s do an experiment! Think of all the things you are thankful for! Set a timer for 2 minutes. Jot down all the blessings in your life. I ensure you when you reflect on this list you will find an otherworldly joy that cannot be taken from you if you practice gratitude consistently and authentically.

Graze down the weeds of despair with the scythe of thanksgiving.

Friendship is a Fertilizer for Long-Term and Natural Growth

friendship

The third life lesson I learned while mowing is that relationships matter. St. Thomas Aquinas once declared, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship.” True friends listen to you and also are truthful enough to provide you a push to be a better person. My wife is my best friend and toughest critic. She supports me and challenges me to be a better person.

Along with gratitude, friendships acts as a catalyst and fertilizer for character growth. Lifelong friends help the best as they help you weather the harshest of climates. Love yourself by embracing the love of your friends. Let them shower you with kindness, advice, and learning opportunities.

While we wish for greener lawns (or pastures),  it is important to realize that true and lasting growth does not come right away. Daily gratitude and frequently relying on your closest friends provide the best environment for growth. Start mowing down the concerns in your life now!

Advertisements
Thank you for sharing!

3 Reasons the Assumption of Mary is a Big Deal

O God, who, looking on the lowliness of the Blessed Virgin Mary,

raised her to this grace,

that your Only Begotten Son was born of her according to the flesh

and that she was crowned this day with surpassing glory,

grant through her prayers,

that, saved by the mystery of your redemption,

we may merit to be exalted by you on high.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Assumption of Mary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These words come from the Collect prayer for the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. For Catholics, Mary is the most honored saint—she is the holy Mother of God. She is a perfect example of what love and obedience to God looks like. There exist over 15 official liturgical feasts celebrating Mary! Each focus on different facets of her life and various roles she performs on behalf of Jesus. I like to think of these Marian feasts as theological checkpoint—spiritual stops along our faith journey during the year.

Ultimately, we celebrate and honor Mary because she is the closest human to Christ. She is a holy role model for sinners. Why does the assumption of Mary matter? Let’s first define this event in Mary’s life. Then we will examine three reasons why this feast matters.

why.png

What is the Assumption?

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph number 966,

Finally the Immaculate Virgin, preserved free from all stain of original sin, when the course of her earthly life was finished, was taken up body and soul into heavenly glory, and exalted by the Lord as Queen over all things, so that she might be the more fully conformed to her Son, the Lord of lords and conqueror of sin and death.”508 The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin is a singular participation in her Son’s Resurrection and an anticipation of the resurrection of other Christians: In giving birth you kept your virginity; in your Dormition you did not leave the world, O Mother of God, but were joined to the source of Life. You conceived the living God and, by your prayers, will deliver our souls from death.509

Logically flowing from the fact that Mary’s was created without original sin, it makes sense that Her body and soul are assumed into Heaven. The faithful who pass from this life will be resurrected at the end of time. Our Blessed Mary is granted the gift of experiencing the fullness of Heaven before time and space pass away.

St. Pius XII infallibly defined this doctrine in his encyclical Munificentissimus Deus. The pope clearly states, “that the Immaculate Mother of God, the ever Virgin Mary, having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” While this teaching ultimately remains a Mystery we at least have a basic understanding of what the Church teaches about the end of Mary’s earthly life.

it matters gif.gif

Essential to Catholic Faith

Belief in the Assumption of Mary is not an option for Catholics. It is one of the hallmarks and chief doctrines of truth. Pope Pius XII explicitly declares in Munificentissimus Deus, “Hence if anyone, which God forbid, should dare willfully to deny or to call into doubt that which we have defined, let him know that he has fallen away completely from the divine and Catholic Faith” (no 45). To jettison the teaching of the Assumption would eventually lead to a decreased faith in our Marian doctrines: the Immaculate Conception, Maternal Mediation, seeing Mary as Mother of God.

thumbs-up.gif

Soul and Body Integrity

Another reason Mary’s Assumption plays an important role for us is that it prohibits a purely spiritual view of the afterlife. The body and soul do not remain separated for the faithful that attain the glory of Heavenly.

The Second Vatican Council document Gaudium Et Spes points out that created things of this world, including our bodies are inherently good. “For after we have obeyed the Lord, and in His Spirit nurtured on earth the values of human dignity, brotherhood and freedom, and indeed all the good fruits of our nature and enterprise, we will find them again, but freed of stain, burnished and transfigured,” the council bishops’ declared (Gaudium Et Spes no 39). Because there exists some type of temporal and physical reality to Heaven it makes sense that Mary–the holiest of all saints–participates with Her body and soul unified.

Evidence of Her Holiness

Lastly, the Assumption of Mary is evidence that she is a holy and exemplar model of virtue. Mary is the handmaiden of the Lord and most humble servant of God. According to the great French priest, St. Louis de Montfort in his work True Devotion to the Mary“[The] Blessed Mother… is the safest, easiest, shortest and most perfect way of approaching Jesus”. The doctrine of the Assumption is assurance for Catholics that Mary is united with God.

dormition-of-mary-icon-459

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mary is not a deity to be worshiped. Catholics are not called to a false and unhealthy devotion to Mary because that would be equated to idolatry. I look to Our Blessed Mother as a guide, a signpost, and a beacon that orients us toward God. The beauty and grandeur of Mary exists because she is the perfect mirror. She reflects God’s love outward toward all of humanity. May we continue to grow closer to God and learn from the humble example of Mary to obey God in all things!

 

Thank you for sharing!

My First Podcast Interview Just Aired!!

Last month I had the pleasure of recording an episode for The Catholic Servant Podcast discussing the importance of empathy at work, home, and in the spiritual life. Today that episode aired.

Here is the link:

https://thecatholicservant.com/matthew-chicoine

The article of mine that initiated this collaborative meeting can be found by going to this link: https://thesimplecatholic.blog/2019/07/01/the-power-of-empathy-2/

Hope you find it a useful and informative podcast discussion! Please leave any feedback in the comments section. 🙂

Thank you for sharing!

How to Start Writing Despite having an Impossibly Busy Schedule as a Parent!

This article is for any parent who has an English, Literature, or writing degree, or simply a knack or wordsmithing, but you cannot seem to fit time to pursue your dream because you’re too exhausted from rocking your full-time job as an amazing mom or dad! Check out the article in the link below for incredibly simple ways to start writing now.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/5-actionable-simple-strategies-help-parents-write-right-chicoine/

Thank you for sharing!

Are You a Salt or Sugar of the World

thumbnail_salt

thumbnail_sugar.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

According to Matthew 7:15, Jesus cautions us by saying, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves.” Frankly, I did not realize that adage originated from the Gospels. Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. Thinking about this phrase I have come to realize that Jesus is speaking not only to humanity in general, but directly to me! I need to be consistent in my love toward God and my fellow man in order to avoid turning into that same false prophet I am called to be on the look-out for.

Jesus spoke with such clarity and used tangible examples. I am not going to “reinvent the wheel” regarding today’s topic. During his Sermon on the Mount discourse in Matthew 5, the Good Teacher charged his followers to be the salt of the earth.

Above there are two pictures: one is salt the other is sugar. At face value both appear to be indistinguishable—similar to a wolf donning lamb’s fleece is camouflaged from its prey. Salt and sugar play a significant part in our life. Both add flavor to otherwise dull food. Excessive amounts of sodium and sugar lead to health problems. What I want to focus on is the dichotomous relationship between salt and sugar? Am I the salt or sugar of the Earth? Let’s see!

To preserve or not to preserve…that is the question

Aside from flavoring bland dishes or enhancing taste in already good meals, the main purpose of salt is to preserve food against deterioration. Salt draws out excess water from foods and dehydrates it. This process allows for increased storage times—especially in cases where food is in abundance and needs to be saved for later periods. Jesus used the example of salt because of its universal application and practical usage in daily living. He calls Christians to act as theological relish and preservative to society.

Sometimes a little salt goes a long way in improving the taste of food. We need not feel defeated if it feels like we are moving against a seeming endless tide of negativity from the world. Holiness is what all Christians are called to—look at the saints and the witness they provided a world in despair.

Deny Yourself and Follow Him

In high school, I took chemistry and became fascinated with the various atomic structures of elements, molecules, and compounds. I found a certain beauty in their ordering and design. Below are picture of the atomic structure of NaCL [sodium chloride- table salt] and C₆H₁₂O₆ [glucose- a common sugar].

thumbnail_glucose atom.jpg

 

thumbnail_salt atom.jpg

 

From a microscopic vantage point, a clear distinction may be made between these two common household items. Both are composed of entirely different elements [hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen in Glucose] and [sodium and chloride in salt]. Along with the having different building materials, sugar and salt are fashioned with different types of bonds—covalent and ionic respectively. Covalent bonds are stronger because the shared electron is what keeps the elements held together whereas in an ionic bond one element loses an electron to another causing one element to become positively charged and the other to become negatively charged such as in the case of NaCl or table salt.

In other words, the elements in table salt lose an electron to effect the ionic charge of the sodium or chloride molecule. Initially, losing may be viewing negativity [no pun intended!]. One may think that due to the stronger nature of the covalent bond in sugar that it should be preferred to salt. The New Testament does shed some light on the reality of loss and rejection. Luke 9:23-25 turns this notion on its head when Jesus says,

“Then he said to all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily* and follow me. 24For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 25What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?'”

Christ’s words elicit a sense of paradox, yet allure within my mind. Interesting, I gain life when I serving other’s needs above my selfish desires. In my weakness I am stronger! Through a theological ionic bond, Christians act as holy seasoning to embolden our world.

thumbnail_dr crentist.jpg

Instant Gratification Leads to Decay

Dentists frighten me. Not in The Exorcist or The Shining sort of way. Still, I get apprehensive, anxious, and move toward hypochondriac-like behaviors when the subject of dentists come up. Perhaps, it stemmed from my penchant as a little kid for losing my teeth quickly and easily. Or maybe my periodontal panic happened due to my need for braces– not once, but twice in my elementary school years! Regardless of where this toothy torment began, I recognize that when I limit my sugar intake life is much easier during my semi-annual check-ups.

Excess Destroys

Excessive sugar proves damaging to both our physical and mental well-being. Unhealthy attraction to sugar is simply a euphemism for the sin of gluttony. Our society suffers from the belief that instant gratification is better than self-denial or self-control. I am as guilty of this vice as anyone. I have made it a point to limit my sugar consumption and practice fasting– to help me both spiritually and physically. Jesus choose not to use sugar as an example to relate to Christians because he understood the appeal and temptation this food item poses for humanity.

While sugar and salt look similar in outward appearance the two are vastly different. How do we distinguish between the two? First, we learn to trust the authority of the manufacturers, distributors, and sellers of these products. We trust that the packaging is correct. When a box at the grocery store says “SUGAR” it really is sugar and not salt. A second way to learn is more difficult– through the school of experience. Maybe sugar is housed in a clear container in your home. If you forgot to label it only tasting the substance will you determine if it truly is sugar and not salt.

How Will You Season the World?

The same may be said about temptations and goods sent our way. Oftentimes, Satan dresses up sin as “sugar” to enhance its allure. This makes is easier to fell prey to his trap. Our adversary disguised sin under the costume of a juicy fruit– see Genesis 3 for the story of the Fall. May we continue to rely on the tradition of the Catholic Church, Sacred Scriptures, and testament of the saints for guidance in our journey toward holiness. Let us be the salt of the Earth and preserve society! There is more to you than meets the eye.

thumbnail_more than meets the eye.jpg

 

 

Thank you for sharing!