brown jest for you box
caregiver, Catholic Family, Dignity

Seeing the Gift

1 March 2021

Lk 6:36-38

This smiling young man in his First Communion suit turns twenty-one today. Eighteen of those years he and his sister Sarah spent with us, fifteen of them as “official family” since we adopted them in 2005. Like many children with hard pasts, they were a handful. More than once I wondered if God was granting my exasperated mother’s wish, “One day may the Lord give you a child. Just. Like. You.” 

Instead he gave me these two. Two frightened, skittish, love-resistant little monkeys whose difficult past made it hard for them to trust us, and even harder to trust themselves. Almost from the start, it was clear that these kids were nothing like us: In school they struggled to keep up with their classmates and make friends. This was new territory for my husband and me, who were always at the top of our classes and (in the case of my husband) could talk to anyone.

As the kids continued to struggle, our social circle narrowed; running the kids to doctors and counselors, and praying for peace in playgroups, it was hard to relax long enough for meaningful conversations. But somehow slowly, slowly we became a family, and these two little kids fulfilled their special calling, teaching me the wisdom of today’s Gospel: Be merciful. Stop judging. Stop condemning. Forgive. See the gift.

Some days seeing the gift isn’t easy through the snark and smartassery. Some days there are tears are tears of joy … and others, tears of frustration. Each day became a series of little good-byes as they asserted their independence and my husband and I anticipated our own … until my own mother’s decline presented yet another special gift: a chance to take care of her the way she took care of me. Now at last God is giving me a chance to be another kind of mother: a mother Just. Like. Her.

Heidi Hess Saxton


Lord, Help us to see the gifts in our lives. Amen.

Lent Devotional 2021
Download your copy of A Time to Grow: A Daily Devotional for Lenten Pilgrims here.
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Lent, Lent, Self Care

Yep, It’s Hard – Forgive Anyway

27 February 2021

Matthew 5:43-48

Have you ever been to Disneyland or Disneyworld? If so, you’ve likely climbed into a boat and sailed through the puppeteering land of It’s a Small World. If you’re anything like me, you’re humming the song in your head right now, and in three hours, you’ll still be humming it. Sorry about that…

Today’s Gospel contains a pretty famous line “love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44). But why? Well, we have to keep reading. “For he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust” (Mt 5:45). Indeed, it is a small world, and we all reside in this same world. As much as it might chafe our human understanding of fairness and justice, God’s care extends to every person, whether friend or foe.

Forgiveness is hard, in part because sometimes we feel like when we forgive an injustice, we’re accepting the behavior or ratifying it. Our desire for justice may want to see another punished, or for the person who harmed us to feel the hurt that they caused. But that’s vengeance. Vengeance only increases the amount of evil in the world, and the world already has enough evil. Wouldn’t you agree?

In forgiving, we have to make peace with the fact that we may never understand those who persecute us or their motives. Our persecutors may never be sorry. But that’s really not our business. Remember that God alone “searches mind and heart,” (Rv2:23).

Forgiving is demanding work, and it doesn’t mean that you won’t bear the pain and wounds of past wrongs, but it does mean that you will unbind yourself from the person who wronged you and have the freedom to move on in life.


But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heaven Father, for he makes the sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and unjust. Mt 5:45

Lent Devotional 2021
Download your copy of A Time to Grow: A Daily Devotional for Lenten Pilgrims here.
Lent, Lent, Mass Reflection, Self Care, Women's Ministry

What’s Wrong with the World Today

26 February 2021

Matthew 5:20-26

What’s wrong with the world today? Several decades ago, the London Times asked this question of essayists and orators – people who by that days’ standards were “influencers”. G. K. Chesterton, the famous writer, philosopher, and lay Catholic theologian, responded to the Times. He wrote:

Dear Sirs:

I am.

Sincerely yours,

G. K. Chesterton

Those are sage words even for the problems of today, and I’m carrying them with me during Lent. There’s a lot wrong in our world today, but righting the wrong starts with me. It begins with letting go of anger and being reconciled the people in my close circle. As today’s gospel shares, “if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gifts there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift” (Mt 5:23-24).

Turning the well-known verse of Matthew 7:3 into first-person, “Why do I notice the splinter in my brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in my own eye?” My small actions will not fix the whole world, but they might fix the little sliver that God gave me to toil within until my journey on this life is complete.

Elizabeth Tomlin


What’s wrong with the world today?

Lent Devotional 2021
Download your copy of A Time to Grow: A Daily Devotional for Lenten Pilgrims here.

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Pay Attention. There is Something Greater than Jonah

Luke 11:29-32

There is something greater than Jonah here. How often do I remember that at Mass, or in Adoration? If we believe that the Eucharist is the body, and blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus, we should be in total awe.

The creator of the entire universe has made himself present to us in a tiny piece of unleavened bread. A few months ago at Christmas, we celebrated the way he came to us as a vulnerable, helpless baby. Now, we prepare to celebrate his vulnerable, helpless, willing death. 

If anyone died for me today, I’d feel a sense of total unworthiness. I think of the way I am humbled when my husband gets me something I need or want, unasked. The way he provides for our children and me, our comfort and prosperity, without any request on our part sometimes makes me feel extremely guilty – Who am I, and what have I done to deserve this kind of selfless love?

Now, when I behold the sacrifice of the Mass, a participation in a moment out of time that happened once and for all, am I overcome with the same sense of unworthiness? Do I pause in awe, as I recite the words of the centurion, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should ender under my roof” (Mt 8:8)?

My husband, as much as I love him, is human after all. If I am occasionally in awe of his sacrifices for our family, how much more should I be amazed that Creator entered into our messy world to sacrifice his life for me?

Me ­­– the person who sometimes pretends I can’t hear my kids to avoid doing something for them that seems silly or unimportant. The person who lets careless words escape my lips, who has deafened herself to the cries of the lonely, hungry, and impoverished in my community and my world.

Maggie Phillips


Today’s gospel calls us to repent as the Ninevites did at the words of Jonah. Make an examination of conscience today. Pray an Act of Contrition.

Lent Devotional 2021
Download your copy of A Time to Grow: A Daily Devotional for Lenten Pilgrims here.
Lent Devotional 2021
Lent, Lent, Uncategorized

A Time to Grow – Lent 2021 Devotional

Friends, Your response to the Good Tidings 2020 Advent Devotional was so generous that I decided to compile another devotional for Lent. Several faithful, talented, and loving friends helped me to write this Lent devotional, which I’ve named A Time to Grow. I hope that you grow this Lent. If you’re subscribed to the blog, you’ll receive a new Gospel reflection to your inbox daily. You will also be able to download A Time to Grow as a free e-book.

St. Gregory the Great preached that scripture “grows with its readers.”

When we pray (or at least when I pray), I don’t hear an audible voice of God speaking to me. But when we pray with scripture, we’re opening an opportunity for the Word to speak to us. 

I have a friend who is a Baptist preacher, and he looked at me one day and said, “You know, Elizabeth, we Baptists believe that the Holy Spirit is actually present in the words we preach.” 

“Of course the Holy Spirit can be present in preaching,” I thought. He paused for a while. Then he said, “So I can see how Jesus could be present in the Eucharist.” I responded, “Welcome to the Catholic Church, friend!”

Scripture grows with the reader, and we grow with scripture, too. 

What might God’s Word have in store for you this Lent? 

We can read scripture alone, but it’s helpful to do so in community with others. “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another” (Pv 27:17). To that end, I’m grateful that so many women have collaborated with me to create this Lent Devotional. I encourage you to read the Gospel daily, take time for meditation, and hop on over to the Joyful Momentum group on Facebook, where we can talk about how God is revealing himself to us through his Word. I pray that you have a diligent, loving, and fruitful Lent. 

Elizabeth Tomlin

Download your free E-Book of A Time to Grow

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Advent, Gospel, Mass Reflection

A Canticle for the End of Advent

December 24

Luke 1:67-79

Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; for he has come to his people and set them free. He has raised up for us a mighty Savior, born of the house of his servant David. Through his prophets he promised of old that he would save us from our enemies, from the hands of all who hate us. He promised to show mercy to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant. This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham: to set us free from the hand of our enemies, free to worship him without fear, holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life. You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins. In the tender compassion of our God the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

“Lord open my lips, and my mouth will proclaim your praise” (Ps 51:17). You might recognize this sentence from the Divine Office or other prayers. This is the verse that comes to mind today. Zechariah was rendered mute by the angel Gabriel when he did not believe the angel’s message, but today, in today’s Gospel reading, his speech is restored.

Why? Maybe because he learned his lesson.

When the angel announced John’s birth, Zechariah was directed to name his son John, but when John was born, people objected to the name. Zechariah, still mute, scrawled on a tablet, “John is his name.” God blessed Zechariah’s obedience and restored his speech.

Zechariah’s canticle contains his first spoken words after a long period of silence. Of all the things he could have said, look at what he chooses to say.  Zechariah praises God and speaks truth to the people around him.

Advent gave us time to be quiet, avail ourselves of the sacrament of penance, and spend time in the Word. As Advent dusk sets and Christmas dawns, are you ready to sing your own canticle of praise?

                                    Elizabeth Tomlin


If you could sing a canticle, what would it contain?