A Parent’s Blessing, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

The power of a parent’s blessing is greater than you can imagine. If it happens regularly, it becomes a great bonding tool. Let me tell you about Jack and Pete.

Jack was a slightly framed man who sold insurance for a living. He was a man of great faith who treasured his faith and his wife and three children. Jack had made it a practice to bless his children every evening as they went to bed. If his work took him from home at night, he would call and speak to each child a blessing. The words were simple: God bless you, Pete; Love and blessings, Jane, etc. Simple, but words expressed every night.

Jack and his wife were delighted when they could finally afford to buy a station wagon. The whole family admired it, but especially Pete who was 16 and had just acquired his driver’s license.

It was a busy day for Jack’s family. The younger children had after school activities. Lora, Jack’s wife, was visiting her Mother and would be home by dark. Jack had a meeting of the volunteer firefighters’ association at a restaurant three blocks from home and Pete had football practice and was the first one home.

The dark blue station wagon sparkled in the light coming in from the garage door window. Pete went out to admire it once again. That’s when the thought came to him: Why not take the car for a drive and treat his buddies for a ride? He would probably be back before Dad and Mom got home. So that’s what he did.

It was a sharp curve, and a very big tree that was Pete’s undoing. He hit the tree, his foot on the gas instead of the brake. His riders had been dropped off, and he was unhurt but the car was totaled.

News like that travels fast in a small town, and before the police got to the scene of the accident, Jack was there. Pete was standing alone, unhurt, with tears running down his face. Jack only asked if he was all right. The two of them walked home in silence.

At home, Pete went to his room and Jack stretched out on the sofa with the paper. Not too long after Pete quietly came into the living room and stood by the sofa. Jack lowered the paper and looked at his son. Pete said, “Dad, I really messed up bad. Any punishment you want to give me I deserve. But, Dad, you will still bless me tonight, please?”

The blessing of his father had such an impact on this big, strapping boy that it would be the worst punishment of all not to be blessed by his dad.

Sometimes it is not easy for a Father or Mother to say the words “God bless you.”

The earlier you begin to do so, the easier it will be to continue. However, there are always times when that phrase can be uttered. Birthdays are a good time to start it, or holidays, like Thanksgiving, or Christmas or graduation. The idea though is to say it often enough that children come to expect it.

For each of you who are reading this reflection, I say, “God bless you today and tomorrow and every day of your life.”

Peace and Joy,
S. Sharonlu, OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Dandelion, by S. Sharonlu Sheridan OSF

It begins with a simple yellow flower (weed?).  Whether flower or weed depends on who is looking at it.  A child sees something beautiful.  A wine-maker or herbalist may see something valuable. A lawn-keeper sees something ugly and unwanted.  Some people see a symbol of how quickly something can spread, because one dandelion has so many seeds in that puffy crown, a small lawn could be covered in gold by one summer.

Malicious gossip is like that.  There is the story of a man, Ray, who spread false rumors about another.  So malicious were they that in the space of two weeks that person’s reputation was damaged so badly his business failed.

Feeling remorse for the wrong he had done, Ray went to the church and asked for advice about how he could undo this terrible thing.  The priest told him to bring a feather pillow to him the next day.  Ray did so, and the priest with a heavy knife slit the pillow and tossed it into the air.  The feathers flew far and wide, floating on the air, like dandelion fuzz, all over the neighborhood.  “Now,” said the priest, “gather up all the feathers and put them back into the pillow.”

Ray was shocked.  “I cannot ever gather all those feathers back. Some have flown so far I could never track them,” he said.

“That is true,” said the priest.  “And your words have traveled so far and so deep that you will never be able to bring them back.”

Whoever coined this phrase is to be applauded.

“Remember to keep your words kind and sweet,
for you never know when you will have to eat them

God be praised for the lowly dandelion, which has more than one lesson to teach us.

Spread the Word,

Sharonlu OSF
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg

Inchworm, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Old movies hold a special charm for me.  I enjoy the simplicity of the story line, the development of characters on screen, and the music.  New movies don’t have the same charm for me.  INVICTUS comes closest to what I call a really good movie.

I must admit that the musicals sometimes bog down into much music and not enough dialogue, but still there is something…maybe I am just getting old.

Some time ago I saw and old Danny Kaye movie on TV.  The story was a fictionalized account of Hans Christian Anderson’s life.  It was delightful to see how “Hans” could help a child who was different by telling the story in song about the Ugly Duckling.  Another time he eased the loneliness of a little girl by singing the tale Thumbelina. But the one short song that seemed to be inserted as an afterthought was Inchworm.  The melody has been going through my head, and I have a tendency to poke around in my thoughts to see why it is making an impact.  In the song, the inchworm is addressed:

Inchworm, inchworm,
Measuring the marigolds,
Seems to me you’d stop and see
How beautiful they are!

We had a short winter this year and spring came very soon, even before we had the chance to tire of the snow, of the cold, of the barrenness of the trees.  Some of us missed watching the snowflakes dancing and the glistening white of the snowfall.  But all of that is put aside.  We have forgotten it, because we have the loveliness of spring.

I know there are some of us, who hope the spring will quickly give way to summer.  We will have put aside the buds on trees, the daffodils, and forsythia.  We would like to make things move faster to get rid of the very things we welcomed not so long ago. The difference is not in the snow or the buds.  The difference is in us. We welcome the snow of Thanksgiving and Christmas, but we do not like the snow of Easter. We delighted in the buds of spring, but we long for the roses and shade trees of summer.

Something very similar happens in our relationships; we welcome the differences we see in our new employee or caregiver.  But as time goes by those very things that seemed so great in her or him look different now.  The Employer or Patient inchworm measures everything, but doesn’t stop to see how beautiful the differences are.  This is also true of the marital inchworm.  A Spouse measures but does not look at beautiful differences.

We delight in our children, but if one of them decides to follow a path that is not in OUR game plan, or brings home a significant other who is definitely not significant to us, we measure with our own tape, with our own mindset and do not see how beautiful the relationship can be.

We also take things for granted.  The paper is to be at our door by 6:30 AM.  When it is not there, we are unset, disgruntled, maybe even downright nasty about it.  We do not even care WHY it is late.  We do not want to know of a crisis the distributor may have had.  We just want it when we want it.

From the time we awaken in the morning until the time we crawl in bed at night we are surrounded by things and happenings that we take for granted.  Try making a list of things in this category.  To begin with, you take it for granted that you will wake up!  Then you take it for granted that water will flow when you turn the tap that the water will be safe to drink, that the water will flow down the drain, that the hot water will be hot and the cold water, cold.  We expect that there will be food for breakfast, coffee or tea or orange juice.  We take it for granted that the car will start.  We expect to see each other when the work day is over. And so on and on and on.

If we think now and then about how many people must do things to make our day go smoothly, we might have a different attitude about what happens.

Here is an example.  We turn on the tap and fill a glass with water.  In the Gospels Jesus says, “Anyone who gives a cup of cold water because of Christ, will receive a reward.”  Now if you work for the water company and make the intention of providing water for people in Jesus name, you have a good chance of getting a whopper of a reward.  After all it only takes a cup, and you are providing hundreds of gallons.  But you have to think about it.  Those of us who turn the tap would do well to remember that water made us Christians in Baptism, and your work for the water company keeps us clean, provides means for cooking and is a delight for warm summer days as we boat, fish and swim.

If on the other hand, we measure the gift of water only by the cost of the bill at the end of the month, we are like the inchworm measuring but not seeing what we measure.

When you must measure, be sure to look for the beautiful things. Do not be like the inchworm finding purpose in the signs rather than the message.

You are beautiful to God and to me!

Peace and Joy,

S.  Sharonlu, OSF

Clip art courtesy of http://www.gardenclipart.net/

What is Love? by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Flower blooming near our Fatima Shrine on the convent grounds of the Oldenburg Sisters of St. Francis

What is love – really?  If we look at TV’s take on love we will not find it in our own lives except occasionally and briefly.  So it would be well for us to look at what the Scripture has to say about love.

Love is patient.  When the muddy footprints are on the freshly waxed floor or the guy next door returns your mower, damaged.

Love is kind.  To the telemarketer who calls at the worst possible time or the woman whose strident voice grates.

Love is never jealous.  Not even if everyone on the block has a new car or boat.

Love is not boastful or conceited.  Not even when you are the only one on the block with a new boat.

Love is not rude or selfish.  Even if you are snubbed or someone won’t share.

Love does not take offense and is not resentful.  Even when a good friend does not include you in an invitation.

Love does not take delight in others sins.  Not even in a joking way.  Love speaks the truth.

Love is always ready to excuse, to trust, to hope and to take whatever comes.  Even if the whole world is out of step, Love does not come to an end. Not now, not IF, not ever.

You know, love like this is wonderful and beautiful, BUT NOT EASY!

Yet this is how God loves us!

Wishing you God’s peace and love,
Sharonlu, OSF

Stained Glass Windows by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Oldenburg Sisters of St. Francis - Stained Glass in the ChapelCallie was one of the most admired women in her parish.  Her presence was so calming and gentle, and she spoke with a voice that was almost beguiling.  Every one spoke of what a charming, sunny disposition she had.  And she had such good ideas and creative thoughts, her position in the Ladies Club gave her the freedom to set the pace and tone for most of the social events planned.  No one bucked her because she was always right, and she would shine with that knowledge.  However, outside the church Ladies Group, Callie lost her shine.  She did not fit in with other social groups, and the church group was her only high point.

About three years after Callie became a fixture on the Ladies Club roster, Mabel entered the picture.  Mabel was a rather plain person, who did not push her ideas, but very often caught some snags in Callie’s plan.  Never in the front of things, Mabel shone behind the scenes and when things seemed to fail, she would be the one to bolster up the group and keep things going. She could find something to say no matter in what group she found herself.  Quiet, but a pleasant, positive addition to most any group, Mabel was always a plus.

These two women were like stained glass windows. If you are IN the church and the day is sunny, the stained glass windows glow.  You can walk to various places in the church and have their colors reflect on your clothing.  But if you are OUTSIDE the church and the day is sunny, the stained glass windows look dark.  It is even hard to see the picture or design there.  Callie was like that.  While she is in a place where she can be forefront, Callie shines.

If the day is dreary and rainy, and you are OUTSIDE a church whose candles and lights are ablaze, you will see, in spite of the darkness of the weather, the most beautiful array of colors.  This is Mabel who glows when things are dark.  It looks dark INSIDE the church, but the radiance outside goes far.

We all have our bright and dark days.  However, keeping our interior light glowing will allow the beauty we have inside to spill out on others.  On the other hand when we allow our interior light to fade, we cannot be a beacon for others.

Sustaining our interior light is a constant task, but we have so many aids.  Daily prayer and meditation are a big help.  Remembering the do things for others strengthens our interior life, much like exercise strengthens the muscles.  Smiling a lot is so beneficial and it is free!  See how many smiles you can draw from others you encounter during the day, And, guess what!  The more you smile the happier you will feel!

Be a person like a stained glass window with an interior light radiating your beauty.

Peace and Joy to all you beautiful people and that means YOU!

Sharonlu OSF

Making Bread, by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Image linked from http://www.delallo.com

This is the story of a lady known and admired for her gentle spirit and manner.  She had several children, and the family kitchen was a gathering place for her children, family, neighbors, and friends. It could be noisy when the children came home from school, but snacks were always ready and waiting, and the chatter lasted for some time as the jelly sandwiches were eaten.

Saturday was the day she found time to bake bread for her family and the others who came by.  One Saturday her son, Bob, came to sit in the kitchen.  He was so surprised to see his tender, gentle mother as she prepared the dough for the oven.  She pounded the dough, twisted the dough and threw the dough down on the floured table.  She picked it up and repeated the violent treatment of the dough.

Seeing this other side of his mother, Bob asked her why she pushed and pounded the dough so much.  Did she not like to bake bread?  She said she delighted in baking bread, and had to do what she did so that the bread would bake smooth and without holes.

Bob grew up to be a priest and told this story in one of his homilies. He said it has a parallel to what we need to experience to become smooth saints with souls that do not have holes in them.  We do not even have to go anywhere or plan the “violence” for ourselves.  It almost always happens that something occurs to pummel our complacency.  If we look at it as a way of preventing holey souls, we could be on the way to becoming holy souls.

Also we certainly do not want to be the source of hole making in others or ourselves. We might emulate the gentleness and tenderness of the mother and save the violent reaction for when it is needed “to make smooth bread without holes.”

My thanks to the late Fr. Bob Drewes for sharing his mother’s story.

Peace, joy, and everything good to you,

S. Sharonlu


S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries, and her wisdom is now at work at Oldenburg Franciscan Center.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.


Plant a seed! – Visual Poem by S. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Plant a Seed.  Watch it grow.  It will go so much farther Than you'll ever know.  And whether that seed be action or word, whether harsh or kind, its power will be heard.  And whether its fruit will bring joy or distress, you are the one who will injure or bless.

Poem & design by Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF. Photography courtesy of Clipart!

Special Invitation!  You are most welcome to join the Sisters of St. Francis for 9:30 a.m. Mass in the Convent Chapel followed by “COFFEE TALK” WITH S. SHARONLU – SUNDAY, MARCH 11:  RESURRECTION MYSTERIES.  10:45-noon.  $ free-will donation, coffee & donuts served.  The resurrection of Jesus is sometimes lost from sight during days of bereavement.  We think even less often of the people who were raised from the dead during Jesus’ earthly sojourn.  During this session, we will look at other resurrections and see how they can help us understand the passage of our loved ones to the Heavenly Kingdom.  These resurrections will be presented as an alternative to other mysteries of the Rosary.

Peace & Good Questions for YOU!

“And each one should confidently make known his/her need to the other.”
~ St. Francis & St. Clare

Won’t you take a quick minute to help guide us in the way of your needs and interests?

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Peace, Joy, and Everything Good to you this day!

Pray as Yourself, by Sr. Sharonlu

Our Lady of Fatima's View of the Oldenburg Hills (photography by A. Roesler)

Every relationship with another is unique. And that is true of each person’s relationship with God.  Our need for God is universal; we all have it.  But our response to God is always personal and one-of-a-kind.

I found this out myself during a prayer before a meeting.  The leader of the prayer said we would say the Our Father.  However, he would say a phrase, and we in random order would give our thoughts on that part of the prayer.

He began, “Our Father”, and hesitantly one of the group said, “You’re more like a mother.”  Another said, “You protect me,” and another offered, “Your love for me keeps me feeling safe.”

Those were just a few of the thoughts, and there were about 15 people in the group.

As soon as there was a very long pause, the leader went to the next phrase, “Who Art in Heaven” and so on through the entire prayer.   Saying that prayer usually takes 15-20 seconds, but it took us close to 20-25 minutes.

Interesting remarks were heard afterward.  One woman offered that she would never say the Our Father the same again.  A young man in the group said he had no idea what varied kind of thoughts the same words could draw from people.

During World War II there was a holy woman in Europe, (I forget which country) who was bedfast.   People would come to her to get some direction for their spiritual lives.  One person said to her, “Since I’ve been coming to see you, I say almost 50 Our Fathers a day!”  “Oh, my,” the holy woman replied, “I find it hard to pray the Our Father one time, there is so much in it.”

Taking the time to really think about the words you are saying will give you a nudge into saying words that are yours.  Or you may end up praying without words, just with feelings of awe or gratitude or praise.

Remember the definition of prayer is: lifting your mind and heart to God. 
It doesn’t mention words at all!

When Jesus told us to pray always, I think he meant we should really think about our prayers.

My prayers are with you.

Peace and Joy, and Everything Good,

Sr. Sharonlu

Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

Just as Sr. Sharonlu shows how our relationships with God are diverse, so are our relationships with one another!

The Oldenburg Franciscan Center Arches aglow at night. (The normal softness of the lamplight is brightened by the camera!)

Join Sr. Olga on Saturday, February 18th (9:30am – 2:30pm) to grow in peace and find hope in diversity.
  We all face various interpersonal challenges in our daily lives. In this workshop, Oldenburg Franciscan Sister Olga Wittekind (Jungian psychologist and PhD) will give tools and insights – using Myers-Briggs analysis – to help us understand ourselves better, appreciate others more, and strengthen our relationships with God. This is a great workshops for individuals, ministry groups, families, and couples!

$45 includes a delicious lunch by our wonderful caterer, Cathy Kerker!  Call Annette at 812-933-6437 or email center@oldenburgosf.com to RSVP today!

Invite a friend, family member, or come on your own.  You never know what wonderful new connections can be made!

Remember, God is a healer, a peacemaker, and a life-giver who lovingly embraces us all and wants us to learn to embrace each other in the same way!

Find the event on Facebook!  Also, friend OFC and share us with your friends!

I Do, I Do, I Do

I Do, I Do, I Do.

Not too long ago by my reckoning time, I was taking a class at Purdue University.  The professor was highly regarded and the class was titled Marriage and the Family.

He entered the room and announced his name and proudly proclaimed: “I am well qualified to teach this class since I have been married three times.”  Needless to say, I believed that three marriages did not qualify anyone as an expert on marriage.

Then, he surprised us by saying he had used the same ring all three times.  (Cheap?)  And then he added, “Same girl, too.”

His entire talk that morning was to bring out the fact that the commitment to marriage must change.

“My first marriage, he said, consisted of looking at each other, longing for each other, and basking in the delight that marriage provided.  It was a lovely, lovely time.  The honeymoon or infancy of marriage.”

But just as infants grow and change and have new needs almost daily, there comes a time when the married couple are no longer two in one.  Another “intruder” has entered their lives.  The happiness brought by a child’s birth brings other responsibilities, other restrictions on the couple’s time and finances.  There is less time for being alone together.  Years pass, and perhaps there are other bundles of joy to join them.  Each of these new additions changes the tone and complexity of family life and therefore marriage.  My professor had to look at his commitment to the girl he married, and say “I do” with a different vision of love the two of them entertained at the start of their relationship.  Whatever came up in the care of children, in health matters and new interests, the marriage commitment had to be renewed.  Thus, came the second “I do.”

Children grow and become adults and move away from the family home.  For a couple to find themselves without the immediate care of children sometimes knocks the wind out of family life.  Oops!  Another “I do.”  The time a couple has together when the house is empty of children often comes while they are still involved in the work place.  It can happen that work fills up the time that was formerly required by children.  But he realized his commitment to his wife was in jeopardy if he did that.  So the two of them worked out a plan for couple time.  That was the big part of the third “I do.”

Love had been there all the time.  It was just the adjustment to the expression of that love that changed.  What a wonder marriage is!  And what a beautiful gift!

As St. Valentine’s Day approaches, I hope you’ll be inspired to renew your very own “I do” commitments to your most precious relationships!

Peace, joy, & everything good,

Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF

Sr. Sharonlu Sheridan, OSF
has a background in education, child development, and family ministries.  She has worked as a teacher, school administrator, and as Director of Family Life Services for two dioceses.  Sr. Sharonlu has long been an advocate for children and puts her heart into helping parents build and sustain healthy family relationships.  One of her most memorable ministries has been with the people of Red Lake Indian Reservation in northern Minnesota, where her heart still lies.

Celebrate LOVE with us!  We invite all couples to join us for a romantic candlelight dinner & discussion on “Love & Marriage,” Saturday February 4th from 4-8pm!
  OSF Associate Carolyn Meyer and her husband Jim will offer a light-hearted view about their 31 years of marriage and the things that have brought them together and challenged them to grow.  Whether you are newly engaged, newly wed, in the ‘middle-age’ of family life, or celebrating your retirement years, come join us to honor your most precious relationship!  $50 per couple includes the program, dinner, and Mass (optional).