You are God’s divinely-loved-ones

The word that leaped from the page of my Missal this morning was the word “Beloved.” When Jesus is transfigured on the mountain before the three apostles Peter, James, and John, the Father’s voice is heard from the cloud saying: “This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.”

Every child dreams about being the “beloved” of their father or mother. Beloved implies a certain intensity of loving that is warmer and more tender than the simple word “love.” For God to say, “This is my beloved Son” is stronger than saying, “This is my Son. I love him.” You might say that beloved is similar to “dearly loved one.” Beloved is personal: “my beloved Son.” It indicates belonging and affection. 

I have meditated on this passage numberless times, and yet I have never been so touched by the word Beloved as I was this morning. Did the apostles even notice the word the Father used for his Son, for they were clearly frightened by what was happening before them? In the New Testament, the word beloved used in the account of the Transfiguration is ἀγαπητός or agapétos. Wondering how else this same word ἀγαπητός might be used in the New Testament I did a little research.

The Greek word ἀγαπητός has two special applications: the Beloved which is the title of the Messiah who is beloved beyond all others by the God who sent him, and Christians who are beloved by God, Christ and one another.

And this is where it begins to get interesting. I discovered that there are 61 occurrences of the word ἀγαπητός in the New Testament. Only seven of those occurrences refer directly to the words of the Father for his Son at the Baptism of the Lord and the Transfiguration, as we see in the Gospel today. The rest of the times we find these occurrences in the New Testament are in the letters attributed to Paul, Peter, James, John, and Jude. They directly address their fellow Christians and talk about individuals in the community with the welcoming word “beloved.” A helpful translation for ἀγαπητός is “Divinely-loved ones” or “loved by God,” that is, someone who is personally experiencing God’s “agapē-love.” 

Let us listen in on the way these first Christians addressed each other. Paul writes, “I am writing you this not to shame you, but to admonish you as my beloved children” (1 Cor. 4:14), and a few verses later he calls Timothy, “my beloved and faithful son in the Lord.” In the letter to the Ephesians, we are admonished to “be imitators of God, as beloved children” (Eph. 5:1). James addresses the readers of his letter, “Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers” (James 1:16). Peter and John also used the term beloved in direct address: “This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you” (2 Pt 3:1), and “Beloved, I am writing no new commandment to you but an old commandment that you had from the beginning” (1 Jn. 2:7).

In the way the writers of these New Testament letters use the term ἀγαπητός, we get a sense of their warmth of heart, of their care for their fellow Christians, of their selflessness in serving them. It is obvious that they loved the Christians in these communities deeply and dearly, that they had warm friendships, that they esteemed one another, and that they were bound together by mutual love and therefore were beloved to one another. 

Jesus made clear that we were to love as God loves, that we were to love others as Jesus himself has loved us. The Father speaks of his Son as his dearly loved and beloved one. The apostles followed suit even in using the same term in addressing their fellow Christians. 

God loves us totally, unconditionally, selflessly. This is how God loved his Son, and it is how he loves us and those who are our fellow Christians. So the family members and fellow parishioners, friends and colleagues, those we agree with and those we do not, all are dear to us because they are dear to the Father. This wasn’t just some spiritualized form of address for the apostle-writers. There is in the New Testament letters a clear sense of living warmth and belonging, of loving deeply, of being bound together by mutual love, of tenderness and esteem. Consistently they address the Christian community as ἀγαπητός, beloved.

I’m taking away three things from all of this and I propose them to you:

  1. I too often see the word Beloved in direct address as a “throwaway” word, in a sense like Dear at the beginning of a letter. I will never hear the Scriptures again without being aware of the warmth, tenderness, the intensity of esteem and affection with which they are written. Hearing the Word of God in the key of ἀγαπητός helps me realize how much God loves me and how much I personally am loved by the writers of the New Testament as I read the Scriptures written to help me become more beloved of God.
  2. I want to practice looking beyond appearances and consider others as dearly loved, divinely loved, and treat them as the apostles did: with warmth, affection, and selfless attention.
  3. I am, and dear reader so are you, God’s beloved, his dearly loved one, his esteemed and dear favorite. My heart leaps with joy at being God’s beloved in Christ. Often we are urged to think about what it would be like to hear God say to us, “You are my Beloved Son.” How misleading! God effects within us the belonging that binds us together and makes us the beloved of his heart and beloved of one another. We need only open ourselves to the beauty of all God is accomplishing in us through his grace.

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Sr. Kathryn J. HermesKathryn James Hermes, FSP, is the author of the newly released title: Reclaim Regret: How God Heals Life’s Disappointments, by Pauline Books and Media. An author and spiritual mentor, she offers spiritual accompaniment for the contemporary Christian’s journey towards spiritual growth and inner healing. She is the director of My Sisters, where people can find spiritual accompaniment from the Daughters of St. Paul on their journey. Website: Public Facebook Group: For monthly spiritual journaling guides, weekly podcasts and over 50 conferences and retreat programs join my Patreon community:

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Whoever Is Ashamed Of Me

Being ashamed of someone implies a familial relationship, a deep level of caring.  We can get mad at people in whom we have no emotional investment.  Being ashamed is reserved for those for whom we love. 

In today’s Gospel, Jesus reveals that he will be ashamed of whoever is ashamed of him. How painful to see that shame on his face. I want to avoid doing anything that would lead to it but I find sometimes I am ashamed.

 I am ashamed of him when I am too embarrassed to give thanks for my food when in a restaurant.

I am ashamed when I implicitly agree with something wrong because I don’t want to be seen as a weirdo.

I am ashamed when I don’t tell people how profoundly my life has changed for the better because of his love.

I am ashamed when I don’t defend the teachings of the Church as Truth.

It is what I refrain from  doing or saying because I am still too concerned with what others think. The only one whose opinion matters is the Lord’s.

I need to be ok with being judged by strangers, and given today’s faithless and sinful generation, probably mocked or criticized or called names. In this divisive time, secular society has decided what we can and cannot believe and say. Even if we quietly live our Catholic faith, we experience the judgment. As my husband and I went through a deepening of our faith over the past six years or so, we have grown closer to Jesus and farther from some friends. We know that our decision to embrace our Catholicity has turned them off. We don’t preach or condemn but we also don’t hide decisions we have made for ourselves and our family. 

But more and more just living our faith is not enough. Maybe it’s because I’m getting older but I fear for our society. We ran into some neighbors who were telling us how diverse our old block had become but when they described the Orthodox Jewish family as part of a cult, we realized that diversity only applies to lifestyle not religious beliefs. 

I do not ever want Jesus to be ashamed of me – he died to save my soul – so words need to be used. I pray for the courage to use those words and not be ashamed of our Savior.

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Merridith Frediani loves words and is delighted by good sentences. She also loves Lake Michigan, dahlias, the first sip of hot coffee in the morning, millennials, and playing Sheepshead with her husband and three kids. She writes for Catholic Mom,, and her local Catholic Herald. Her first book Draw Close to Jesus: A Woman’s Guide to Adoration is available at Our Sunday Visitor and Amazon. You can learn more at

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How God Thinks

When I think of the most relatable person in the Bible, Peter is often the first to come to mind. He messes up. A lot. The event we hear of in the Gospel is one of those times. Rather than embracing Christ’s words with faith, we are told, “…Peter took him [Jesus] aside and began to rebuke him”. But, at the same time, Peter also has great faith in who Jesus is. When Jesus asks Peter who He is, Peter’s response is “You are the Christ”. 

So how does Peter go from a faith-filled acknowledgment that Jesus is Christ, the Messiah who has come to redeem man from his sin, to rebuking Jesus for teaching them the realities of what being the Christ will entail – rejection and death? And what does Jesus’ response mean? “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” How can we think like God does instead of as human beings do? 

I think the answer to these questions lies in Peter’s own expectations of what the Messiah, the Christ would be. If Christ is the one who redeems the world, that means that He must be powerful and strong which is what Peter expected. But Christ’s explanation of what He will endure does not exactly align with the typical notion of power and strength. In fact, suffering greatly, being rejected by those in authority, and being killed all sound like the exact opposite of power and strength. But this is what Jesus means by thinking as human beings do. It takes work for us to see the power and strength at the center of God’s plan for salvation.  It took the strength only God possesses for Him to humble Himself, become man, and die on the cross for the sake of our salvation. For us to think as God does, we must let go of our expectations of who Christ is and acknowledge the strength and power that lay in the sacrifice He made for us. 

In our faith, may we remember that our God is humble and strong. It is His strength that freed us from our sins and it is His humility that we seek to imitate when we come to Him in our moments of despair.

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Dakota currently lives in Denver, CO and teaches English Language Development and Spanish to high schoolers. She is married to the love of her life, Ralph. In her spare time, she reads, goes to breweries, and watches baseball. Dakota’s favorite saints are St. John Paul II (how could it not be?) and St. José Luis Sánchez del Río. She is passionate about her faith and considers herself blessed at any opportunity to share that faith with others. Check out more of her writing at

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Stop Deluding Yourself

The Letter of James is short and to the point on how we are to behave. There are points made about anger, the word of God and action. However, as I read it, I came to see that it is about listening. And listening well. We are exhorted to be hearers and then act on what we have heard. If we do not, we risk deluding ourselves into thinking we are someone we are not. We also risk leading others astray if they know we call ourselves Catholic without behaving as such.

James reminds us repeatedly to look to the word, learn it and live it. When we immerse ourselves in Scripture, we put on the mind of Christ. Only then can we respond as He does to a world in chaos. Of course, we do this as well as possible given that we are not Jesus but His follower. As people of faith, we can call on Him to help us be better in a world that is in desperate need of healing. Our behavior- how we treat people, speak to others, care for those in need – that is what people notice. It is the doer of the word who reaches out who is helping to heal the world.

As in the Gospel though, sometimes healing comes slowly. And we may lack patience, faith, or trust. The blind man’s friends wanted something good for their friend. Jesus wants our good. Do you wonder why the man’s friends are mentioned? I think it is to remind us that we are meant to have and be community. And it is in community that we need to follow what James tells us to do. 

As you go about your day, think about how you can take the words of the First Reading and put them into practice. “Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.”

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Deanna G. Bartalini, is a Catholic writer, speaker, educator and retreat leader. She is the founder of the community, a place to inform, engage and inspire your Catholic faith through interactive Bible studies, courses and book clubs. Her weekly podcast,, gives you tips and tools to live out your faith. At  she writes about whatever is on her mind at the moment.

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God’s Perfect Gifts

I once heard a talk relating motherhood to the Eucharist. Just as Christ gives himself totally to us in the form of bread, a mother gives herself totally to her child(ren). As I layed there naked and cut open on the operating table during my C-sections, and my arms were spread open so that I was literally in the form of a cross, I was able to say “This is my body, given up for you.”  

As the months progressed, my 8-inch scar and the 2-3 month recovery were a reminder of the sacrifice I had made for each of them to be born, “This is my body, given up for you.” 

As I nursed my children and endured nights with little sleep, “This is my body, given up for you.” 

As I realized that being clean was a luxury after being soiled with various bodily fluids, “This is my body, given up for you.” 

As my showers, my bathroom breaks, and my meals were constantly interrupted by little persons’ needs, “This is my body, given up for you.” 

I remember my husband telling me during a low moment that being a parent wasn’t babysitting, but rather constant care 24/7 as long as you lived. It doesn’t sink in until you’re in the thick of it.

Today’s First Reading reminded me of that moment of desperation: “each person is tempted when lured and enticed by his desire.” My desire for sleep, quiet and just a moment to myself was getting the best of me. But the reading goes on to describe the beauty that shines forth, despite the cross. “All good giving and every perfect gift is from above, [] with home there is no alteration or shadow caused by change [becoming a parent] He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures [my children].” 

I admit there seem to be more moments of trial than moments of beauty at this stage in life raising littles, but knowing that “all good giving and every perfect gift is from above” helps me to have a more positive attitude. My children are my greatest gift. Thank you Father, for your great gifts. 

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Tami Urcia grew up in Western Michigan, a middle child in a large Catholic family. She spent early young adulthood as a missionary in Mexico, studying theology and philosophy, then worked and traveled extensively before finishing her Bachelor’s Degree in Western Kentucky. She loves tackling projects, finding fun ways to keep her little ones occupied, quiet conversation with the hubby and finding unique ways to love. She works at her parish, is a guest blogger on and, runs her own blog at and has been doing Spanish translations on the side for over 20 years.

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Consider It All Joy

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

Suffice to say, my blog today is not about Valentine’s Day. I really did want it to be related in some way, but as of late, I have been struggling with God’s plan for me, not with mortal love. I’ve been asking for a sign to know that what I am doing is His Will, not mine, because I don’t really want to be doing it. I’ve been praying, checking in, like, “Hey Dad, just wondering… Is this okay? Is this really where you want me to be? Because if it is, just say so and I’ll keep going… *awkward silence* Okay, well, just let me know… I’ll just be waiting over here…”

So when I read today’s Gospel, where Jesus is so deeply saddened that the Pharisees are looking for a sign… Well, it kinda hit home. Here I am, asking for a sign every time I pray. Asking for some miracle instead of just having faith. 

Also in today’s First Reading, James reminds us that we should, “Consider it all joy,” when we come head to head with issues, and to ask for wisdom should we need it (James 1:2). Last, of course, is to have faith, wholehearted faith, for it is through faith that we know to expect and receive the goodness of the Lord. 

Well… darn. I’m not sure I’ve done any of these things.

  1. Consider it all joy.
    No, not really because I complain. My beloved siblings, God bless them, hear from me at least twice a week and half of the time, it’s just to complain. I forget to even look on the bright side, I’m just annoyed and probably annoying.  Even if it’s not out loud, in my head while I’m actually doing the tasks I’m unsure about, I’m like a tired baby, wailing and flailing. 
  2. Ask for wisdom.
    Nope, just been asking for a sign as an answer. My prayers, however often, are never asking for discernment and wisdom. Instead I just ask for answers. I complain to God and then I ask for him to make the hard decision for me. Which defeats the whole purpose of free will! I’m seeing everything almost too clearly now! 
  3. Have faith.
    Not to the extent I should, knowing that God will provide and will speak to me in the silence of my heart. The last time I talked (and complained) to my sister, she quoted Jeremiah 29:11: “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”

So, silly me, why am I so upset? My God is an all-loving, all-merciful father in better ways than I can even comprehend. So my goal for today and moving forward is to stop complaining to my family and to God and just consider it all joy and happily listen. In addition to not complaining to God, I’ll ask for wisdom, not just easy answers, and then actually trust in the Lord. He is so good and sometimes we need that reminder, so we thank the Lord for these daily readings because:

All the time, God is good.
And God is good, all the time.

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Veronica Alvarado is a born and raised Texan currently living in Pennsylvania. Since graduating from Texas A&M University, Veronica has published various Catholic articles in bulletins, newspapers, e-newsletters, and blogs. She continued sharing her faith after graduation as a web content strategist and digital project manager. Today, she continues this mission in her current role as communications director and project manager for Pentecost Today USA, a Catholic Charismatic Renewal organization in Pittsburgh. 

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The Beauty of the Beatitudes

“Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”

“Blessed are you who are poor,

for the kingdom of God is yours.

Blessed are you who are now hungry,

for you will be satisfied.

Blessed are you who are now weeping,

for you will laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you,

and when they exclude and insult you,

and denounce your name as evil

on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!

Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.”

The Beatitudes are an invitation to place Christ first in our life and follow His ways so as to better experience the joy of the Gospel and use the things of this world for His glory, such as using wealth, power, popularity, influence, or success to build up what is good, beautiful and holy. 

The Lord invites us to encounter Him and experience Heaven here on Earth. Jesus reminds us that God’s ways are not the ways of this world, so we are not called to be troubled or discouraged when others mock us or persecute us, but instead, we are invited to rejoice in our trials and difficulties, for we know God can use all things to His greater glory. When we experience difficult times, Jesus wants us to not grow hard-hearted during these trials but rather serve as a witness to Christ and love them.

“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude and insult you, and denounce your name as evil on account of the Son of Man. Rejoice and leap for joy on that day! Behold, your reward will be great in Heaven.”The word “blessed” means truly happy, filled with joy, and knowing God blesses you. The Sermon on the Mount is a path to not only growing closer to Christ but living out our Catholic faith and experiencing Christian joy despite what is going on around us.

The Beatitudes remind us that we live for Heaven and Heaven’s reward, not an earthly reward. In an age where we want “instant success and reward,” it is essential to cling to the Beatitudes and make sure that we seek to encounter the Lord and follow His ways.

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Emily Jaminet is a Catholic author, speaker, radio personality, wife, and mother of seven children. She earned a bachelor’s degree in mental health and human services from the Franciscan University of Steubenville.  She is the co-founder of and the Executive Director of The Sacred Heart Enthronement Network She has co-authored several Catholic books and her next one, Secrets of the Sacred Heart: Claiming Jesus’ Twelve Promises in Your Life, comes out in Oct. 2020. Emily serves on the board of the Columbus Catholic Women’s Conference, contributes to Relevant Radio and Catholic

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A Heart That Beats With Love For Us

Have you ever been so hungry that you were in danger of collapsing? Jesus is not usually prone to hyperbole, so his comment here seems factual:  if he sends the crowd that has been following him for three days away to their homes, “they will collapse on the way.”

Jesus’ heart is moved with pity for them and is determined to do something to help these thousands of people, while the disciples seem to be somber realists. “What else can we possibly do?” they say. They are out of options.

But love is never out of options. Love finds a way. And the endless, creative, Love of God can make a way where there is no way. And so, Jesus orders them all to sit down and he takes the seven loaves and gives thanks. To Whom? To the Father in Heaven, undoubtedly. Then he breaks the bread and gives it to the disciples to distribute.

Does this sound familiar? This thanksgiving and blessing and breaking of bread is the way Jesus prefigures the Eucharist over and over in the Gospels. As a prefiguring of the Eucharist, we see that Jesus does the blessing and his disciples take care of the distribution. And we see that there is always, always enough to satisfy all. There is always an abundance, for all. An OVERabundance, even.  When everyone has eaten and is satisfied, the disciples gather the fragments and fill seven baskets! This Living Bread that came down from Heaven may seem small, but it will never run out.

And we are reminded that the Eucharist we receive is a prefiguring of the Heavenly Banquet to which we are all called, even as it is our sustenance along the way. Without the Eucharist, we are in danger of collapsing on our way to the Wedding Feast, but Jesus has made certain that we will have all we need to arrive whole and prepared!

The next time we approach the altar to receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Christ, let’s recall with confidence that this is the same Jesus who fed the multitude because his heart had pity on them, and we can be confident that he feeds us his very SELF because his heart is beating with love for us as well.  

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Kathryn Mulderink, MA, is married to Robert, Station Manager for Holy Family Radio. Together they have seven children (including Father Rob), and four grandchildren. She is President of the local community of Secular Discalced Carmelites and has published five books and many articles. Over the last 30 years, she has worked as a teacher, headmistress, catechist, Pastoral Associate, and DRE, and as a writer and voice talent for Catholic Radio. Currently, she serves the Church by writing and speaking, and by collaborating with various parishes and to lead others to encounter Christ and engage their faith. Her website is

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Be Opened!

In today’s Gospel, Mark tells the story of Jesus healing the man who was deaf and had a speech impediment. Jesus put His fingers in the man’s ear, put spit on his tongue, and looked up to heaven saying: “Be opened.” The man could then hear and speak without the impediment.

Metaphorically, we are a lot like the man who could not hear and didn’t speak well. When it comes to the word of God and teaching others about God, we often have difficulty listening and speaking.

God only asks for one hour a week, but we know that we cannot build a relationship with Him in just 1/168 of the week. Imagine telling your children or your significant other that you want to just spend one hour each week with them. I suspect they would feel cast aside or unimportant. Now stand in front of a crucifix, look at Christ, and tell Him He only deserves one hour a week. It hurts to do that, doesn’t it?

If we really want to get to know God better, we must talk to Him and learn about Him every day.

We can make it easy to include Him in our daily lives, but it does take a little effort to find the way that suits our life the best. Additionally, it takes some determination to put away the phones, to shut out the outside world, and to really reflect on those two words we want to hear from Christ: “Be opened!”

So take some time today to decide how you want to start improving your relationship with Christ. Do you like to read about Him? Do you want someone to read to you or talk to you about Him—like in a podcast? Do you want to watch videos? Do you want to just spend quiet time in prayer? Do you want to do something different every day?

There’s so much we can do to praise God, to acknowledge His presence, and then to welcome Him into our daily lives. 

With Lent fast approaching, we may have already thought about how we will prepare, but let us not wait until then to transform our spiritual life. Let us make a life change that will last way beyond Lent. 

From this point on, give God 20 minutes of your day. Open your heart, open your mind, and open your life to Him. And rejoice that He is calling you and saying: “Be opened!”

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Susan Ciancio has a BA in psychology and a BA in sociology from the University of Notre Dame, with an MA in liberal studies from Indiana University. For the past 17 years, she has worked as a professional editor and writer, editing both fiction and nonfiction books, magazine articles, blogs, educational lessons, professional materials and website content. Eleven of those years have been in the pro-life sector. Currently Susan freelances and writes weekly for HLI, edits for American Life League, and is the editor of Celebrate Life Magazine. She also serves as executive editor for the Culture of Life Studies Program-an educational nonprofit program for K-12 students.

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I think it is good for us to see Jesus in this moment. Jesus, fully God, is also fully human. We see Jesus experience the full range of human emotions in the Gospels. Jesus weeping for Lazarus, Jesus lashing out at the money changers in the temple, Jesus participating at the Wedding at Cana – the Gospel writers were not afraid to show Jesus’ depth of feeling. Today’s Gospel highlights a more private emotion, one that we don’t always acknowledge or speak about – the need to escape.

There isn’t a parent out there who hasn’t felt like Jesus at the start of today’s Gospel reading. Jesus, weary and in need of a break, enters a house and “wanted no one to know about it” (v 24). Every parent has had a moment where they have hidden in the bathroom, a bedroom, the garage, the car, even a closet, because they just needed a minute. A minute of quiet, of not talking, of not listening. Just a few minutes by themselves. That’s what Jesus was seeking.

In light of the changes the world has undergone the past two years, this feeling has come to the forefront of many people’s consciousness. Even those of us who aren’t parents have most likely felt this urge, especially during the spring of 2020 when so many were isolated from their usual daily routines and familiar interactions. Somewhere deep within all of us, even within the most social person, is a need for quiet.

Our need for quiet and stillness is a gift from the Lord, even if it seems hard to come by. Psalm 46:11 says, “Be still and know that I am God.” Quiet is often elusive. Our minds are full of necessary and unnecessary information. We are flooded with stimuli between our phones, our TVs, even some billboards feature flashing and changing graphics. Those with children have spent many more hours with them than perhaps planned. The time together ought to be cherished, but it also has caused an immense amount of strain on families who struggled and continue to struggle with the changing conditions and schedules that are outside of their control. 

The desire to want a break while under these kinds of stress is normal. It is time we recognized more positively that people need quality breaks. They need moments of quiet, of stillness and of aloneness. Jesus sought it. We each need to seek it. God speaks to us in the quiet of our heart. We have to take the time to be still so we can listen.

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Kate Taliaferro is an Air Force wife and mother. She is blessed to be able to homeschool, bake bread and fold endless piles of laundry. When not planning a school day, writing a blog post or cooking pasta, Kate can be found curled up with a book or working with some kind of fiber craft. Kate blogs at

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