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Thoughts From the Mind of A Body in Prayer

This is my "When something strikes me, I post" Blog

I hope yuo enjoy my musings!

November 27, 2014 (Thanksgiving)

   What am I thankful for? I pondered this question for a couple of days before I tried to really give an answer. There are the obvious things... a wife, without whose love and support (and patience,  and whip cracking) I would never have even be able to see "where I am today," let alone be here. There's my grown kids, who, though they're not perfect, (I wish they'd go to church more) they are each so special in their own way, and I love them both more than I could have imagined. I'm thankful for a wonderful family-in-law that has always considered me one of their own, and treated me so well. There's a job that is fairly secure and which pays the bills... well most of them. And I can't forget mostly good health. (A few scares over the years, but I'm still doing ok.) But they all seem like stock answers; answers most people would give. There has to be more than that. So I dug a little deeper. 
   Well, I'm thankful for a God that has been there for me when I've needed Him. And about 12-14 years ago, I needed Him alot. That's when I got to know Him better than I had. And for the next few years he showed me how to be a better husband and father, something I'm still working to build on.
   I'm thankful life hasn't always been easy. Though I hated the hardest times, when we struggled as a couple and a family. If things hadn't been tough, we wouldn't have fought as hard as we did to make them better, and life would have remained only  mediocre. It's the crosses in my life that have bridged the gaps of pain in my life to get me across. 
   I'm thankful for the competition I've had in sports and in life. Without someone or something pushing me to try harder, I might have been complacent with doing ok, instead of doing the best I can.
   I'm thankful for people who saw in me things I could only see after they showed it to me. A track coach who made me a hurdler despite my protests, and trained me to be a champion. A wife who saw a loving husband, even though it took me years to find him inside me, and to think of her more than myself. A youth minister who "asked" me to help teach high school teens with her, awakening a passion inside me to work with teens and to share my faith with others.
   I'm thankful for friends that I am convinced God put in my life when I needed them. Friends who have been kind and giving when I needed support and comfort. Friends who showed me how to really reach out to others in need. Friends I know will always be there for me.
   Finally, I am thankful for each and every breath I take. Life is such a treasure, and time so valuable. To see the beauty of a sunrise, the power of the ocean , the fury of a storm, and the unconditional love of a faithful dog; these are all amazingly wonderful gifts, and I try not to take them for granted. I'm thankful for the smiles and joy in my life, but also the occasional suffering and sorrow. Without suffering, you can never really know joy. The greater the suffering, the greater the joy. 
   May God bless all my readers this Thanksgiving, and remember to keep Christ in Christmas!

November 11, 2013 (Veteran's Day)

This is always a month of great reflection for me (as it probably is for most people.)  It's a time of change (the leaves have changed and have fallen, the weather has a definite nip in the air, and we are getting close to thinking about Advent and Christmas, which is really the start of a new year for the church.

It's also a time of reflection.  On Veteran's Day, there is appreciation for those who have served our country, something I am gratful to all Veterans for. It is of course also a time to remember those who did not come home from serving, or who didso only after giving their lives for the rest of us, a debt we can never repay to them or their families. 

That means Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and asks us to remember all the people and things in our lives, the ones we sometimes forget when we let the little annoyances in life blind us to the blessings we have. I've always been grateful for a loving family, though none of it remains since mom passed away last year, but I have been truly blessed with a loving supportive wife and 2 great kids. I try not to take them for granted.  All these blessings, if we're honest, should make us reflect on the one who paid the ultimate price... a price none of us are worthy of repaying.  Jesus came that we might have life and have it abundantly. Hopefully we see the blessing in our lives and realize the abundance we already have. God Bless.

Neil <><

July 10,2013,

On the eve of my mother's would be 77th birthday, I find myself missing her (again). She was taken by Alzheimer's (way too early) on St Patrick's Day last year.  It's just not the same without mom, and her quirky sense of humor and the way she'd mix up words when she got excited and talked faster than her mouth could keep up with.  She'd say thing's like "I'm making Chunky Sea Poop" (That was supposed to be Chunky PEA SOUP by the way.) Or the time she told us Biffalo was having a Bluzzard.  I can't even tell you about when she was going to buy "fitted sheets!

I guess my thought today is cherish the moments - even the crazy ones, because life is way to short for resentment, anger, and sorrow. Take every opportunity to say "I love you" to those you love.  Every day is a gift from God. Accept it, and use it, don't wait to enjoy it. May God bless every person who took the minute to read this.

Neil <><

May 24, 2013,

I recently read a wonderful reflection on what Jesus meant when he said, “Peace. I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. John 14:27 (NABre).  The writer spoke of when a storm blows over a lake or river, and the waves that swell and crash. There is mush turmoil on the surface of that water.  But if you go down under the water a bit, there is still some turbulence, but it is not as pounding as the surface.  But go down deeper still, well below the surface, and the water will be serene and deeply calming.  This is the peace that Christ offers us each and every day.

I wonder sometimes if I’m just too foolish not to go deep enough to find that peace.  I think I tend to stay too superficial at times… too close to the surface.  The surface to me is the world and secularism. It is self-dependence.  It is all the things we grasp for when we want comfort, but that slip through our hands as we are tossed by the current.  But down deep, if I open myself to Christ, knowing that he is there with me through the most difficult times, and that I am never alone, that is when I get a glimpse of that deep peacefulness.  When I swim down there, untethered by human trappings, and my man-made comforts, then I can really allow God to give me His peace.  It is a peace so comforting that all fear is driven out.  Spend a moment today, and allow yourself to feel that peace that Jesus is offering to you.  Neil <><

[Original reflection is from ""The Little White Book" Published by the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw (http://littlebooks.us/)]

November 27, 2012

     OK… Thanksgiving, Black Friday and much of the craziness is temporarily behind us. So maybe there’s a chance to focus on “THE” holiday – Christmas. As we get into the advent season, it’s time to think – What is advent? It is a time of preparing for the arrival(s) of Christ. (Both on his birthday, and a reminder to be ready when he comes again.) What are you doing to draw closer to Christ? How are you preparing? One way is to develop your relationship with Him. The best way is to spend time with Him. Talk with Him. The one thing I realized above all others is improving your prayer life will almost automatically improve your relationship with Christ, as long is your prayer is coming from your heart, and your desire is to know and love Him. Work on including Christ in your Christmas preparations.

    Now keep in mind, the holidays should be a joyous time for celebration and time with family, but for many people, the holidays can be a stressful and sad time. Maybe it’s a first Christmas without a loved one. Perhaps their holidays will be difficult because of losses from “Superstorm” Sandy. Having been down to my hometown on Long Island, I know there are many that are still devastated by damage from the storm. Many just don’t have the money to buy any gifts or a place to cook a holiday meal.

   It may be a comfort to them to know that tears can be a very personal and effective form of prayer. In the Bible, Jesus hears these Prayers of Tears and answers them. If you or someone you know could use the comfort from knowing that God, “hears our tears,” consider grabbing a copy of A Body in Prayer as a gift. God Bless, and enjoy the Advent season as you prepare for the coming of Jesus Christ!

Neil <><

November 6, 2012 (Election Day)

     It's a good thing I have Election Day off.  I was able to go to church this morning and then spend time in the chapel in Adoration. Then off to vote! Now I'm in the busy part of my day.  Making arrangements for a "Mission Trip" I am going on this weekend. I'm from Long Island, and the town I grew up in was pretty hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. In NY, we're just not used to hurricanes, and this one was a monster.  Parts of Long Island that have never flooded in any one's memory had 3-4 feet or more of sea water in their homes.  I talk to friends anf family who have lost homes, cars and eveything in them.  But they are strong people, and the will get back on their feet.  It's already a week, and many still have no electric, no heat, little food and gas is hard to come by.  Yet, many stop to ask, how we made out in our area in Western, NY.  I am humbled by their caring, so I am doing all I can think of doing.... getting collections, renting a truck, and going "home" to give people things they need, and to help them clean up and get back on their feet.  Please consider donating to the Red Cross or any other effort that is asisting an area that is simply overwhelmed with pain and grief.

Neil <><

October 2, 2012

            I know this is the time of year things get busy for most of us. There are so many things happening; seasons are changing, school starts, vacations are over, work often picks up. It’s a time for time management. (Not one of my specialties.) There are so many things I have to do, that even posting this blog is an exercise in patience, because I want to get on to the next thing on my list, but it’s something I know I need to do. You would think with all I went through and all I learned in writing A Body in Prayer, I would heed my own words. Yet, twice this week, I found myself saying I didn’t really have time to pray! Today, I stopped and asked myself what I meant by that. What I was saying I was having a hard time setting time aside for God. Ouch! Even in my busiest times, I always have a moment to turn my attention to God. But really, I need to get my focus back to all the activities in my daily life, and the questions I really need to ask myself are: Where did I see God today? Where did I hear God in my life today? Did I offer up my work for the glory of God today? Where was I the hands of Christ to someone else today? Then I realize I have been praying… with my whole body… a little at a time. <><



September 3, 2012 (Labor Day)

    Isn't it ironic that Labor Day is a holiday on which few people actually work? I usually try hard to balance the day's activities... doing some work around the house, cleaning up in the morning, working on my budding writing career and youth ministry in the afternoon, and finally relaxing on the patio with my wife after dinner, doing a little reading. 

     Taking a few minutes to reflect on my accomplishments, I realize that my greatest accomplishments are hardly under my control; our 25th anniversary a few months ago (the grace of the sacrament got us this far) and the publishing of A Body in Prayer (the work of the Holy Spirit that lead my hand in that for sure).  I humbly appreciate all the great things God has done for me.  Truly, a good day!

Neil <><



August 22, 2012

          For my first entry, I’d like to share a thought about why most people write books. My publisher shared this same thought recently in her blog, and I just wanted to expand on it. While it’s true, anyone can publish a book these days if they are willing to spend the money, there are a limited number of reasons one would even go to the trouble and expense. (And it’s generally not cheap to produce a quality book) While I admit to a certain amount of adrenaline coursing through my veins when I first saw “A Body in Prayer” listed on Amazon.com, it wasn’t just pride in a job complete, but relief.

          I had a conversation with a friend recently who invented and created a product which was pretty cool, but had a limited scope of use. When I asked if he was going to commercially market it, he kind of shrugged, and admitted he didn’t know if it was financially worth it. The idea made me think… was that even a concern for an author? Of course I didn’t want to throw money out the window when I published the first time, but it wasn’t about how much money it would make. (It’s OK, I know I’ll probably never be a John Grisham or J.K. Rowling) The words I wrote were words that moved ME, and I had to believe they would move other people as well. So far I have been right. A number of people who have read it have told me or written to say that they were really moved by what I wrote, and it gave them a lot to think about. And in MY eyes, just one person becoming closer to Christ is more than worth the cost of publishing even if I never sell that million copies.

Neil <><



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