Dare to Be an Andrew

In light of the Feast Day of St. Andrew….

I dare you to be an Andrew.

The first disciple of Christ.  The first to really understand who Jesus was: the Messiah.  A top notch evangelizer (He brought along his brother, Peter).

Andrew paved the way for all of us.  His dedication, loyalty and faith were extraordinary.

Many times I have backed down from professing my faith to someone because I know it might be uncomfortable or awkward.  I have opted for the easy way out.  Andrew never took the easy way out and he always trusted in the Lord.  He dared to be different.

I dare you to be an Andrew.

Andrew faithfully paved the way for Christ.  He was known as a follower of John the Baptist.  So it is safe to assume that he had heard of Jesus.  When Jesus approached Andrew and Peter on the boat, Andrew instantly knew it was the right choice to follow Him.  As he followed Jesus, he took Peter along with him.  He dared to be different.

I dare you to be an Andrew.

Imagine that your tag-along would become the first leader after Jesus… Pretty good snag, huh?  Yet Andrew’s actions lead me to believe he was pretty humble.  After all, we don’t hear about him a lot in the bible.  Yet he died on a cross, reportedly an actual X-like cross; because he didn’t believe he was worthy to die like Christ.  They bound his legs and arms to the X, and hung him to die.  He died for his faith.  He professed the Word even when it was hard.  He handed over the first leader of the Christian church to Christ.  He dared to be different.

I dare you to be an Andrew.

Andrew was present at almost every big event: the Last Supper, the multiplying of the loaves and fishes, and he was there when Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple.  He is humbly there with Peter, James, John and Phillip most of the time.  He never takes pride in his accomplishments because he knows they are for God’s Glory.  He always takes a back seat to the accolades because he knows he is there to spread the Good News, humbly.  He always chooses others over himself.  He stands for what is good and right.  He stands up for the meek and the humble.  He sacrifices himself for the Lord.  He dares to be different.

I dare you to be an Andrew.

So when you are doubtful that you have the strength to make a difference, remember that God can work through you just like he worked through Andrew.  Your story may not be written up.  Your story may never be uttered by a soul.  Yet you have the power to be just like Andrew: a faithful, dedicated, and humble servant to Christ.  Who knows you may even evangelize or shine God’s love to someone who becomes the next leader in your church.

Don’t wait to reveal God’s Glory to someone in your life.  Dare to be an Andrew.

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The World of Knowledge Vs. Wisdom

In a World of Knowledge Versus Wisdom

As I was watching a Matthew Kelly Lenten reflection this morning, he inspired me to ponder the beauty of wisdom and how it is becoming lost in our society.

In today’s world…

We look for knowledge on google.

We occupy ourselves with our cell phones and their apps.

We explore social media and video games for friendships.

We watch youtube videos for information and techniques on how to do something.

We acquire more and more “things” in our life to explore information easier.

What are we losing?


Wisdom is the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment.

Those “things” from the world provide one aspect of the definition, but the other two seem to be lost for many of us.

We have lost the ability to think critically because we are allowing these items that have knowledge to do the work for us.  This vast world of internet, gaming and television is providing so much knowledge at our fingertips that we have become lazy.  Thinking through things is now too difficult.  Finding the truth seems simple, yet is it really the truth?  Do we even think through whether the information we are receiving – fast, immediate and on-call – is absolute truth?

Our life experience is a blessing that inspires wisdom.  So many of us want to push aside those struggles that have created who we are.  We want to cover them up and forget they happened.  Yet those experiences help make wise decisions.

Good judgment doesn’t just happen.  It takes effort to make a sound decision.  Our first reaction is not always the best one.  Understanding something from all levels is of utmost importance when making a judgement call.  Have we looked at the situation from someone else’s point of view?  Have we asked a wise friend for advice before we jump to conclusions?  Do we allow our emotions to take over?  Do we ruminate over the past or worry about the future?

Here is the good news…

We were all given the gift of wisdom.

Proverbs 3:13  Blessed are those that find wisdom, who gain understanding.

Finding wisdom takes work.  It isn’t just handed to you.  You have to persevere through a lot to find it.  It isn’t sitting out in the open for you to grab on google.  It is hidden under piles and piles of information that you must sift through exhaustively.

We all wish that by googling something we would just find the answer and move on with our day, but it doesn’t work like that.  Wisdom is found through research, through living and persevering through struggles, through listening to others who have wisdom, and by searching for the truth.

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Loving Father

As my Loving God shines down on me

He embraces me with hugs when I need Him most.

I am engulfed with peace when He is near

His expectations are formed in my heart.

Sinfulness can disrupt our relationship

Yet He is always forgiving.

Strict rules become like desires for me

I strive to please him; trying not to disappoint.

He doesn’t demand or use power to control me

Gentle nudges work just perfectly.

Allowing my choices to unfold before me

My mistakes never end with shaming;

Always forgiving.

Touching my heart to heal my sorrow

Feeling my pain to ease my worry

Depending on Him never ends in regret.

Hope, Grace and Mercy are what He offers

My loving God shines down on me.

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The Power of Compassion

I didn’t realize I lost it, but I had.

I felt anxious, angry, and frustrated, but I could not figure out why.

Every little thing became a gigantic problem.

I was exhausted fighting everything that came my way.

Why did everything happen to me and my family?

I had lost something, but what exactly was it?

As I sat down to read a book that was given to me by a good friend, it became clear.  I had set my expectations way too high of situations and people, and I was engulfed by the “whoa is me” attitude that comes with it.  I had fallen into a trap of self-pity and misery, and in the process I lost…. compassion.

Without compassion, I no longer understood who I was.  My identity was lost along with it.  I had built my identity on expectations that were unrealistic.

I had fallen into a pattern of ruminating situations over and over in my head.  Analyzing them to the point of exhaustion.  Reliving them in my thoughts.  I was tired.

 Matthew 18:21-22 Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him?  As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.

That Matthew verse has always frustrated me.  Why on earth would I forgive someone 77 times?


Compassion – that’s why.

Oh yeah.  Another reason… for healing my self-pity.

When I get caught up in self-pity, no one seems to measure up.  Everything seems to be chaos around me.  Jesus says to Peter that he should forgive over and over.  Not because the person deserves it necessarily, but because in order for Peter to serve God…Peter must dig deep to find compassion.

The repercussions that will happen if Peter withholds forgiveness are great. Peter’s heart will ache.  Peter will fall into self-pity.  Peter will no longer see the people he needs to minister toward with compassion, if he doesn’t learn to forgive.

Jesus knew the road ahead of Peter.  It was filled with injustice, condemnation, and disrespect.  It also was filled with purpose, Grace, and Mercy.

Without keeping compassion in his heart, Peter had no chance of leading Jesus’ mission.


So, just how do I get back the compassion that my heart needs?

Prayer, silence and wisdom.  Everyday, three times a day I sit and reflect.  I feel those feelings that are ugly and judgmental.  I name those feelings for what they are.  Breathing in compassion and breathing out self-pity, anger and frustration.  I listen to my heart and I acknowledge that these horrible, angry feelings are not me.  They are not who I want to be.  They do not form my identity.

I want to be compassionate.

I want to be loving.

I want to show mercy.

I want most importantly to serve God, and that can only be done if I find the compassion that I lost somewhere along the journey.

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Dear Bishop of the Lafayette Diocese

Dear Bishop of the Lafayette Diocese in Indiana,

This past summer my 18 year old daughter asked about teaching religious education.  As you can imagine, my heart jumped with excitement that she wanted to share her faith with children.  Since I teach full time, the idea while exciting also was overwhelming: more lessons, activities and creative experiences to be planned.  My daughter’s idea won over everything, and I took the leap to teach third graders all about Jesus.

What you do not realize is I have an eleven year old who suffers from depression, anxiety and seizures.  Since fourth grade, I have opted to not take her to religious education classes because it was overwhelming for her.  The students sat at desks and received lessons like in school.  She already had school 5 days a week that she could barely get through. It broke my heart to pull her out, but the curriculum was too overwhelming.  I was hopeful that our family could teach her to love Jesus on our own.

You see my own experience with Protestant “Sunday School” had always been positive.  I learned to love Jesus through eye-opening bible verses.  This love increased as I learned that my church was a “community of support” for me.  This only happened because my teachers made the experience positive and uplifting.  Their creativity was inspiring to me.  Their actions spoke volumes more than the bible verses ever did.  To top it off the community provided lots of opportunities outside of worship services to come together and support each other.

Never in all these years did I take an “assessment” of what I learned in “Sunday School.”  No. never.  So you might be wondering, “How did the church assess what the kids learned?”  They trusted that the teachers were doing what they should, the parents were reinforcing it at home, and God would ensure that in His time each child would find the right path.  After all, if parents are taking the time to send their kids to religious education there must be some support at home (even if it is small).  If the teachers are taking the time to come to class each week, they must be preparing something for the kids or it would be chaos.

I guess my question is, why are you choosing to assess our kids?  I know your staff says it isn’t a test.  Twenty two multiple choice questions certainly seem like a test.  The five oral questions that we must give to the students individually sure seem like a test to me.  Shouldn’t we just be teaching our kids to love Jesus?  I am not sure what an assessment for that would look like.  I can tell you it is not a multiple choice answer.  It is through actions, words and most importantly what they hold in our hearts.

Please reconsider your position on this because it is turning our classrooms into school.  It is stripping me of my creativity and instilling fear in myself (that I am not teaching the right thing for the test) and our kids (especially those who suffer from anxiety and learning disabilities).

This situation is making me sad to explain to my 18 year old who raised her hand to do this for Jesus.  An explanation that our church instead of teaching love (which cannot be measured) wants us to teach subjects that will be “assessed” to ensure they are learning all that they need to.


Anne Slamkowski


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The Path You Didn’t Know Existed

When life hits you and all the sudden you see things VERY differently and your eyes open to an entirely new world, then you think, “How do these people do it?”

This has been my life the last several months.  As my kids have struggled and BIG changes have happened, I have often thought, “Who else lives like this?  I can’t be alone.”

I am not alone.

There are thousands of people dealing with similar circumstances, and they have persevered through it all.

Making tough decisions that affect your family are HARD.

Knowing that the choice you make will affect your children is the WORST.

Believing that others around you can empathize is PRICELESS.

One of the blessings of tribulations is that this whole new world reveals itself.  It was always there, but you ignored it.  You are part of a secret club that you didn’t know existed.  All of a sudden, the posts you made on facebook or the comments you made at a dinner party seem so insensitive, and you are so sad that you hurt people with your words.  You can’t believe that you didn’t understand what they were going through.

You ask forgiveness for your foolishness and pray they will forgive.

The last two weeks have been rough.  I have doubted, second guessed, felt guilty, screamed in anger, and cried in pain.

Yet I know that God is here for me.  I know through the many wonderful signs of confirmation that He has sent me that I am on the right path.  It has tons of storms, but in the end there is a beautiful rainbow.  A rainbow that lights up a path that I never knew was there, but I am sure am happy to see the people that are lining it, strengthening it, and cheering me on to persevere through it.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; Courage to change the things I can; And Wisdom to know the difference.

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Being Real

I am a Caucasian woman who grew up in a middle class society within a two parent household along with 4 other siblings.  My school and community had basically 0% diversity. Okay, maybe 1%.

Why is this important?

The other day I went with a friend to see the movie, “Race.”  If you haven’t seen it, go.  “Race” is the story of Jesse Owens, the world famous Olympian sprinter who made history at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin.  (Note the date).  Jesse Owens was an African-American male who grew up in a poor area of Cleveland, Ohio within a two parent household along with 9 siblings, and worked his rear off to make it to The Ohio State University.  He is an inspiration.

“The battles that count aren’t the ones for gold medals. The struggles within yourself – the invisible, inevitable battles inside all of us – that’s where it’s at.” – Jesse Owens

As I watched the movie, I realized that I was uncomfortable.  I was uncomfortable with how the Olympics committee determined whether to go to Berlin.  I was uncomfortable with the segregation that was still happening in the 1930’s.  I was uncomfortable with the Nazi regime, and their hatred of anyone different from their white race.  I was uncomfortable with the way Jesse and his wife were treated at an American ceremony honoring him, and he was asked to enter through the back door.  I was uncomfortable that people felt entitled to act rude to people who were different from them.

Being uncomfortable is good.  At least I believe it is.  It made me think of all the times that I treat people differently just because I don’t instantly connect with them.  Maybe they look different.  Maybe they have a disability.  Maybe they act different.

My discomfort triggered me to look inside my soul and face it.  Why was I so uncomfortable during this movie?

The easy answer is that I hated how those people were acting.  They were idiots; unbendable and rude idiots.  That was the easy answer.

The difficult answer is that I feel uneasy around people who are different.  I don’t mean to feel this way and I wish I didn’t feel this way – but I do.  I just am unsure how to act and how to talk, and I overthink everything I say before it comes out of my mouth.  I am a blubbering idiot.

I always do my best to make everyone feel comfortable, loved and worthy.  In these different scenarios, that doesn’t seem to matter. I feel awkward, and have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I may put my foot in my mouth.

I had found the discomfort in my soul.  I had pinpointed my feelings.  I realized I felt a strong urge to make all those who are different feel wanted and needed.  I wanted them to know I don’t condone the actions of rude people.  I wanted them to know that I love them for who they are.

No wonder I felt awkward.  No wonder I felt like I might say something stupid.  I was judging them.  I was grouping all those who are different into the same group.  I had forgotten that we are all unique and different – and we cannot be lumped into categories.

Jesse Owens knew this.  He had an amazing skill for treating people with respect – even if they didn’t deserve it.

After watching this amazing movie, I read this from my bible…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. – Matthew 5

Jesse Owens lived by this.  I don’t know if he meant to or not, but instinctually this is how he lived.  If we want to start treating each other more important than ourselves as Paul (Philippians 2:3) told us, then we must face the discomfort in our soul.  We must be real with what is holding us back.  We must recognize and face our weaknesses head-on.

In order to minister as Jesus did – to everyone, I know I must begin to understand that everyone has a story behind who they are.  Everyone is my brother and sister in Christ.  After all, aren’t we all heirs of His Kingdom?

God made us all unique and beautiful.  In His eyes we are all different.  Acceptance and love of these differences is the goal.

Go see the movie.  Experience the past to enrich the future.

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What the heck was He thinking?

That was the first thought that came to my mind when my 11 year old asked me, “Mommy, why do you think God chose you and dad to be my parents?  Because you are the best parents ever.”

It melted my heart when she said it, but it made me think too.  Why did He choose us?

My mind began to wander…

Does God choose what babies go where?  Why does He choose people who are in desperate situations?  Why does He choose those who will be abusive and unkind?  Why doesn’t He choose people who are trying so hard to have a child and would make such great parents?

All of these things crossed my mind.

In my own situation, I could see the struggles that Pete and I had endured before giving birth to Katie.  These struggles prepared us for what was to come.  Would I have noticed it at the time of her birth?

No way.

Looking back, I now see it as an “ah-ha” moment.  Katie is riddled with anxiety.  Before Katie was born, I began to fear flying.  We lived 2000 miles from family, and a visit required two different airplanes and 6-7 hour plane trip.  It was a long way.  I had always enjoyed flying, but at some point in my life I endured a horrible plane ride and from there I became severely anxious about flying.

My mind would race several days before the trip.  I would check the weather and panic.  I was engulfed by anxiety.  As I prepared for the flight I would feel sick to my stomach.  I would shake uncontrollably.  It was horrifying.  As a mother I had to set aside these debilitating feelings and help my two children prepare for the flight.  Pretending to be happy and excited to see family, yet inside I was miserable and on edge.

This is how Katie feels almost every day.  This gift of anxiety allowed me to view Katie’s pain firsthand.  I know how she feels.

God prepared me for her.  This is only one situation.  There are so many more things that have happened during my lifetime which make me very aware why God chose me as her parent.

I guess He knew what He was doing when He chose Pete and me.

There is still the question of why God chooses unhealthy people to have children.  That one is far more difficult to answer.  Probably because I don’t like to think of the answers. I have witnessed too many friends struggle with miscarriages, still births and infertility. Good people who I felt deserved a baby.

Romans 8:25-28 But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.  And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

God has ultimate control.  He chooses, not us.  What we do have is hope.  Hope that those who suffer from addictions will change their ways.  Hope that those who cannot bear children will be offered a new way to experience the joy of parenthood.  Hope that those children who are born into abusive families will experience help from their community to rise above the horrid life they have endured.

No matter what the circumstances there is always hope.  Sometimes we have to dig deep to find it, but it is there.  When God allowed Jesus to be crucified on the cross, it must have been horrifying for Him to witness the hatred that day.  Yet His hope that we all would experience the beauty of Jesus’ love even through evil was poured out to many of us.  That is the beauty of Romans 8:28 – “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him.”

Amen to that.

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Holding Back

Acts 5:1-4  But a man named Ananias—his wife, Sapphira, conniving in this with him—sold a piece of land, secretly kept part of the price for himself, and then brought the rest to the apostles and made an offering of it. Peter said, “Ananias, how did Satan get you to lie to the Holy Spirit and secretly keep back part of the price of the field? Before you sold it, it was all yours, and after you sold it, the money was yours to do with as you wished. So what got into you to pull a trick like this? You didn’t lie to men but to God.” —from The Message

Money doesn’t take hold of us; we take hold of money.

Ananias (who by the way is not the Ananias who healed Saul for God) and his wife Sapphira decided to do something good.  They chose to sell their land and hand over the proceeds to the apostles. The apostles needed money in order to share the Truth.

The couple saw a good reason to give and decided to dedicate the proceeds of their land to this amazing cause.  Yet after selling the land for some reason they held back some of the money.  Maybe they needed a little extra cash to pay for something.  We don’t know the answer to that.  Scripture does not go into that detail.  We do know that they made it look like they were handing over everything.  So after Peter confronts them, both Ananias and Sapphira drop dead.


I can remember several times that Pete and I decided to donate to worthy causes.  We looked at our donations for the year, made decisions based on discernment with God, and handed over money that we were comfortable with.  The key word here is comfortable.  When we have donated our time, talent or treasure, we are rarely uncomfortable with the amount that we donate.  We don’t sacrifice food on the table, college funds for our kids, or retirement savings.  Let’s just say, it doesn’t hurt us.

I am not saying that what we have donated wasn’t worth it.  I am saying, we probably could have done more.  We held back.  Money didn’t hold us back; we did.

God wants us to give until it hurts.  There needs to be a little discomfort.  Ananias and Sapphira knew this because they were mortified when Peter confronted them – literally mortified.

Pete and I know this.  When we hold back, then we know we are avoiding fear; fear of not having enough.  We distrust that God will take care of us, and we focus on how we can take care of ourselves.

While I am sure Ananias and Sapphira were doing something good, they still voiced their distrust in God by holding back.  Peter knew this and confronted them with it.  It was a good reminder to me today that I need to focus on trusting God.  I need to let go of money, and allow myself to trust God will provide what is needed.   Many things hold us back from trusting God – pride, envy, lust, gluttony, anger, greed, or laziness.  The seven deadly sins – the ones that hold us back from being the unique person that God made us to be.

What sin is holding you back from trusting God?  Allow Ananias’ and Sapphira’s story be a lesson to you today.

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Unexpected Packages

Here is an updated version of an old blog post!

Making Room For God

Making Room For GodThe reflection today comes from Acts 8:26-40 and Isaiah 53

Acts 8:26-40 As for Philip, an angel of the Lord said to him, “Go south down the desert road that runs from Jerusalem to Gaza.” 27 So he started out, and he met the treasurer of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under the Kandake, the queen of Ethiopia. The eunuch had gone to Jerusalem to worship, 28 and he was now returning. Seated in his carriage, he was reading aloud from the book of the prophet Isaiah.29 The Holy Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and walk along beside the carriage.”30 Philip ran over and heard the man reading from the prophet Isaiah. Philip asked, “Do you understand what you are reading?”31 The man replied, “How can I, unless someone instructs me?” And he urged Philip to come up into the carriage and sit with him.

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