Morning exchanges


My Bible has remained open for decades and, on occasion, I turn its pages to show passages other than my favorites.  Yet, regardless of which book is open, Isaiah with its dated, handwritten notes in the margins always beckons.


Whether he calls me to reflect on verses of relevance and/or smile at my penciled messages from years long past, Isaiah has an open invitation for me to visit anytime.  I can stand before my Bible, reflect on the scribbled memories, caress the pages to get a feel for Isaiah’s wisdom, read a specific verse, search for something new, or— as I often do— visit mentally from anywhere I happen to be.

No matter how, when, or where, Isaiah’s presence is always strong.

Longtime fave

Isaiah’s been my fave since my college undergraduate days.  A prophet for all time, he consoles and encourages me in my toughest trials and remains constant through thick and thin.  His rock-solid wisdom is way better than Krazy Glue; his inspiration, universal.

Of late, too, Isaiah has been popping up a lot in my thoughts and conversations.  Take this morning, for instance.

Email to Steven

Love is patient, love is kind.  It… does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury… but rejoices with the truth.  It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things
(1 Corinthians 13:4-7).

For a brief moment I abandoned you; but with great tenderness, I will take you back.  In an outburst of wrath, for a moment, I hid my face from you; but with enduring love I take pity on you… so I have sworn not to be angry with you or to rebuke you.  Though the mountains leave their place and the hills be shaken, my love shall never leave you (Isaiah 54:7-10).

Email from Steven

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine.  When you pass through the water, I will be with you; in the rivers you shall not drown.  When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned; the flames shall not consume you.

Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious and because I love you,
I give men in return for you and peoples in exchange for your life (Isaiah 43:1-2, 4).

Email to Steven

Another of my faves from Isaiah immediately comes to mind: “I leave you treasures in secret places that you may know that it is I who call your name” (45:3).

I found the verse in 1983, as I was getting ready to inscribe the Reader’s Digest Bible I’d bought for Margie’s birthday (7.23).  Suffice it to say that Margie didn’t like her contemporary Bible, but the verse I serendipitously discovered that day was the affirmation I’d awaited since the Sunday morning at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church when my mind created this:

Sitting hopelessly lost among everyone
I heard myself call out to him
and I wished he’d call my name
because I felt I’d see life differently if he did.

Fearing he wouldn’t pay attention
I began to cry and
like a sobbing child being cuddled after being punished
he embraced me
not letting go
because he knew I believed.

And he called my name.

Untitled poem published twice: College Poetry Review and Pegasus
(National Poetry Press, 1977 & 1978, pp. 107 & 13, respectively).

Morning exchanges

Because Isaiah provides comfort, wisdom, and hope, I know many of his verses by heart.  Since our morning exchanges have been a lifelong staple, he’s my cuppa joe.  I can’t think of a better way to start the daily subchapter in my book of life than with Isaiah’s steadfast reminders of the many blessings ahead.

O Lord, you are my God.  I will extol you and praise your name; for you have fulfilled your wonderful plans of old, faithful and true.

The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces.  The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth, for the Lord has spoken (Isaiah 25:1, 8).

June 29, 2012

Lord, thank you for having rescued me!  Let me walk in joyful hope that you will take care of me today (the Word among us, p. 50).

July 28, 2012

Father, you have called me by name and anointed me to proclaim your word.  Now I need your guidance.  How do I remain faithful to you?  How do I stand strong?  How do I discern my role in your kingdom?  Lord, I want to be pleasing to you (the Word among us, July/August 2012, p. 55).

February 8, 2013

Lord, be my refuge from fear so that I can walk in peace today.  Shine your light on me, and strengthen me to do what you ask (the Word among us, Jan/Feb 2013, p. 59).

February 9, 2013

Jesus, help me to rely on you in times of strain and stress.  Walk with me through the difficult moments and help me to lean on your strength and grace (the Word among us, p. 60).

November 6, 2013

Jesus, thank you for calling my name and speaking to my heart.  Open my ears to hear you above all the noise in my day (the Word among us, November 2013, p. 27).

November 15, 2013

Father in heaven, thank you for revealing yourself to me through the wonder and beauty of your creation.  Your love for me is endless.  It is as deep as the deepest sea.  Help me to love you back just as fully! (the Word among us, p. 36).

January 26, 2014

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shone” (Isaiah 9:1).

June 12, 2014

“The person who does not decide to love forever will find it very difficult to really love for even one day” (St. John Paul II).

June 13, 2014

“The spirit of humility is sweeter than honey, and those who nourish themselves with this honey produce sweet fruit” (St. Anthony of Padua).

June 17, 2014

Love is watchful.  Sleeping, it does not slumber.  Wearied, it is not tired.  Pressed, it is not straitened.  Alarmed, it is not confused; but like a living flame, a burning torch, it forces its way upward and passes unharmed through every obstacle (Thomas à Kempis).

“St. Dominic, Rose of Patience, pray for us!” (Aquinas College, 2014).

July 22, 2014

Lord, we long to see you.  Call us by name and show yourself to us (the Word among us, July/August 2014, p. 41).

July 28, 2014

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself” (Ralph Waldo Emerson).

July 30, 2014

Father, you are worth more than anything else in my life.  Open my eyes to the treasure of your work in me so that I can cast off anything of lesser value! (the Word among us, p. 49).

August 25, 2014

Fight continuously in the apparently unimportant things which are to my mind important; fulfill your duty punctually; smile at whomever needs cheering up, even though there is sorrow in your soul; devote the necessary time to prayer, without haggling; go to the help of anyone who looks for you; practice justice and go beyond it with the grace of charity (St. Josemaría Escrivá).

August 26, 2014

“I formed you to open the eyes of the blind and to bring out from the dungeon those who live in darkness” (Isaiah 42:6-7).

October 21, 2014

“Fight against all opinions that are contrary to the truth, but let your weapons be patience, gentleness, and love; for violence, besides injuring your own soul, harms even the best of causes” (St. John of Kanty).

January 15, 2015

“If you always love one another, if you always uphold one another, you will be capable of working wonders!” (St. Mary Euphrasia Pelletier).

January 20, 2015

The devil strains every nerve to secure the souls which belong to Christ.  We should not grudge our toil in wrestling them from Satan and giving them back to God (St. Sebastian).

January 24, 2015

“To love our neighbor in charity is to love God in man” (St. Francis de Sales).

January 25, 2015

“Never utter in your neighbors’ absence what you would not say in their presence”
(St. Mary Magdalen of Pazzi).

February 7, 2015

“Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed, which alone makes light all that is burdensome and equally bears all that is unequal” (Thomas à Kempis).

February 12, 2015

“It is to those who have the most need of us that we ought to show our love more especially” (St. Francis de Sales).

March 18, 2015

“Oh, how good a thing and how peaceable it is to be silent of others, nor to believe all that is said, nor easily report what one has heard!” (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

June 20, 2015

“The most powerful weapon to conquer the devil is humility.  For, as he does not know at all how to employ it, neither does he know how to defend himself from it” (St. Vincent de Paul).

July 2, 2015

“A single sunbeam is enough to drive away many shadows” (St. Francis of Assisi).

July 5, 2015

“My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.”  I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.  Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

July 10, 2015

“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens” (J.R.R. Tolkien).

July 23, 2015

“A life without love is like a year without summer” (Swedish proverb).

August 4, 2015

Real love wants for truth.  Real love accepts the beloved as they are and where they are.  Real love offers itself, as it is, in return.  Real love has less to do with what we want to be true than with our capacity for acceptance and generosity in the face of what is.  Real love is honest (Brendan Busse, SJ).

August 23, 2015

Without the burden of afflictions it is impossible to reach the height of grace.  The gift of grace increases as the struggle increases (St. Rose of Lima).

August 24, 2015

The truth is like a lion.  You don’t have to defend it.  Let it loose; it will defend itself (St. Augustine).

October 9, 2015

“Ask Jesus what he wants from you and be brave!” (Pope Francis).

October 13, 2015

It takes three to make love, not two: you, your spouse, and God.  Without God people only succeed in bringing out the worst in one another.  Lovers who have nothing else to do but love each other soon find there is nothing else.  Without a central loyalty life is unfinished (Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen in Seven Words of Jesus and Mary: Lessons from Cana and Calvary).

November 8, 2015

We must take great care never to do anything before having said our morning prayers.  The devil once declared that if he could have the first moment of the day, he was sure of all the rest (St. John Vianney).

December 3, 2015

Take care not to frighten away sinners by stern rigor who are trying to lay bare the shocking state of their souls.  Speak to them rather of the great mercy of God.  Sometimes people are helped by your telling them about your own lamentable past (St. Frances Xavier Cabrini).

December 4, 2015

“Those who err in spirit shall acquire understanding, and those who find fault shall receive instruction” (Isaiah 29:24).

December 5, 2015

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.  He tells the number of the stars; he calls each by name (Psalm 147:3-4).

December 19, 2015

“We should study the interests of others as our own, and be careful to act on all occasions with uprightness and loyalty” (St. Vincent de Paul).

December 21, 2015

“The Lord has turned all our sunsets into sunrise” (St. Clement).

January 20, 2016

Truth engenders hatred of truth.  As soon as it appears, it is the enemy (Tertullian).

January 28, 2016

Don’t say “that person gets on my nerves.”  Think “that person sanctifies me (St. Josemaria Escrivá).

April 19, 2016

“If love be true, it must labor; where labor is refused, there is no love” (St. Thomas Aquinas).

May 23, 2016

“Consider seriously how quickly people change and how little trust is to be had in them; and hold fast to God who does not change” (Teresa of Avila).

June 17, 2016

In Christ, even our failures become a source of grace when we accept them in imitation of his humility and courage; even our anxieties become a path to holiness when we ally them with his sufferings.  All that we do and say, if it is done and said in Christ, is done and said well; for true wellness is life in Christ (Clayton C. Barbeau in The Father of the Family).

June 26, 2016

Don’t judge without having heard both sides.  Even persons who think themselves virtuous very easily forget this elementary rule of prudence
(St. Josemaría Escrivá).

August 3, 2016

“True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less” (C.S. Lewis).

September 2, 2016

A good life makes a man wise according to God and expert in many things.  The more humble a man is in himself and [the] more subject to God, the more wise will he be in all things and the more at peace (Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ).

September 6, 2016

“Real strength is not just a condition of one’s muscle, but a tenderness in one’s spirit” (McCallister Dodds).

November 3, 2016

What souls we can convert by our prayers?  The one who saves a soul from hell saves this soul and his own as well (St. Jean Vianney).

November 8, 2016

Those who tell the truth love you.  Those who tell you what you want to hear love themselves (Mother Angelica).

November 18, 2016

“Humility is the virtue that requires the greatest amount of effort” (St. Rose Philippine Duchesne).

January 11, 2017

“Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish to be” (Thomas à Kempis in The Imitation of Christ).

January 12, 2017

“Each time we face our fear, we gain strength, courage, and confidence in the doing” (Theodore Roosevelt).

February 15, 2017

“God loves each of us as if there were only one of us” (St. Augustine).

March 9, 2017

“A married woman must, when called upon, quit her devotions to God at the altar to find him in her household affairs” (St. Frances of Rome).

March 10, 2017

A man who governs his passions is master of the world.  We must either command them or be enslaved to them.  It is better to be the hammer than the anvil (St. Dominic).

March 28, 2017

Trust is the glue of life.  It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships (Stephen R. Covey).

August 24, 2017

When we feel anguish, when we have a sense that we do not know who we are, a sense of being profoundly lonely, we become afraid.  We can be willing to give up a lot— friendships, communication, even intimacy— so as to protect ourselves from the feeling of being “nobody,” the suffering of loneliness, our anguish.  It is only when we can see this in ourselves that we can discover freedom from our compulsions.  It is only when we begin to recognize the cry of our own hearts that we can respond to the cry of God to be in relationship with us (Jean Vanier in Life’s Great Questions).

August 26, 2017

“No one is suddenly made perfect” (St. Bede the Venerable).

September 10, 2017

“It is not a lack of love, but a lack of friendship, that makes unhappy marriages” (Friedrich Nietzsche).

October 23, 2017

“When God pulls down the curtain on the drama of the world’s redemption, he will not ask what part we played, but only how well we played the role assigned to us” (Venerable Fulton J. Sheen in Victory over Vice).

Links of interest…  4 ways to develop empathy…  5 ways to stop playing God & learn to surrender…  6 short & powerful prayers to say for your husband…  8 kinds of love…  10 tips to show a little more love…  #1 lie that men tell & why they tell it…  Being grateful in relationships / truly, happily humble…  Bringing back what is true & good…  Broken together (Casting Crowns song)…  “Burning bush” coffee…  Calling for God’s help in the midst of sin…  Christian marriage a fruit of Christ’s cross…  Confessions of a (hopefully recovering) gossip junkie…  Could solitude ease the pain of loneliness…  Discouragement…  Do you “demonize” the man in your life…  Edith Stein: Four ways to develop empathy…  Eleven habits to feel less alone…  Farmer & fisherman…  Feeding your lonely soul…  Fighting for marriage – St. Teresa of Calcutta’s wisdom on prayer…  Finding God in all things— even coffeethe four keys to everlasting life…  Five reasons to pray for your spouse / steps to a good morning…  Forsaking me, seeking him…  Friedrich Nietzsche quotes…  Gloomy love song…  God is right in the middle of love…  God only knows (song)…  Godliness…  God’s unwitting accomplice…  Happy couples…  Here I am, Lord: one / two / three (YouTube)…  Holding hands with God…  Holiness counters immodesty…  Holy intercessors: Patron saints for relationships…  How dealing with difficult people can make you a better personhaving faith can help you find true love[not] to date small talk can form lasting relationships…  Interior castle: ebook / meditations (book review)…  Is keeping a secret from your spouse ever acceptable…  Isaiah: about / biography (more) / book / for kids (video) / prophet (called – mouthpiece of the people – of Christmas – politicalthen & now – times) / praying during Advent / summary (more – more) / ten things…  Jonah & the call to conversion…  Kahlil Gibran on marriage…  Lasting marriages are possible when you stop chasing happiness…  Lord, I lift your name on high (YouTube)…  Lord, when you came: composer (Cesário Gabaráin, 1979) / lyrics / Pescador de hombres (YouTube)…  Married love & the cross…  Mary, untier of knots: Patroness for marriages…  Meet the patron saint of difficult marriages & separated spouses…  Not-so-secret secret to happiness…  Pep talk from Moses…  Relationships…  Saint for those suffering from broken, unfaithful, & abusive marriages…  See something, say something…  Seven habits of people who love dearly…  Spouses— loving or difficult…  They know more than any 20-year old couple could, but still got married…  Three ways to unleash the spiritual power of your marriage…  Truth is a person…  Unable to forgive my husband— until I gave myself a gift…  Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen: about / quotes…  What my love affair with coffee taught me about marriage…  Why our idea of romance is all wrong / we hired a therapist before we tied the knot / you should love with an open heart but keep your eyes wide open…  You can make a lifetime marriage

WP page…  Steven’s looking-glass

WP posts…  Gift of love…  Gifts…  God’s master plan…  Growing pains…  In good time…  Letter to Santa…  Little gifts…  Making meaning…  Prayerful ways…  Seven dwelling places …  Soulful…  St. Monica…  Sweet Jesus…  Teresa of Avila

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