My family . . . the blessings of my life!

My family . . . the blessings of my life!
Sean, Mackenzie, Pat (hubby), me, Jeneah

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Heavenly Handbag

February 24th, 2010 by Peggy Bowes

I recently walked into a local store and was enthusiastically greeted by a teenaged employee who admired the bag I was carrying. We chatted for a few minutes, our twenty-five year age difference overcome by our common interest in a woman’s most important accessory. Not surprising really, as the search for the perfect bag begins early in life.

Even a toddler realizes that a purse reflects who she is as she debates which Disney princess should be featured on her starter bag. After all, the right bag says “I’ve arrived! I’m stylish! I’m somebody!” No wonder so many women splurge on designer handbags that cost more than their mortgage payment.

If a handbag reflects who a woman is, then the things she carries inside are tools for her success — a matching wallet filled with credit cards, lipstick in the current color palette, the must-have smart phone, a stack of business cards, perfect designer sunglasses, and keys to a luxury car. Handbag contents are even the subject of celebrity interviews. My favorite fashion magazine asks the cover model, “What’s in your bag?” as if its contents will somehow reveal the secret to her fame and fortune. Gullible readers rush out to purchase the same products, hoping for similar results.

There is one event in a woman’s life that will forever alter her choice of handbags — motherhood. Suddenly the designer label is not as important as the function of the bag. It must be easy to clean, have lots of pockets and compartments, and not fall apart when chewed by teething babies. The contents also reveal a shift away from self. I’ve seen women pull band-aids, bibs, juice boxes, miniature cars, sunscreen, and even portable DVD players out of enormous purses.

Like all earthly treasures, the allure of the perfect handbag fades over time. It gets soiled, the stitches come undone, or it is simply no longer in vogue. It must be cast aside and replaced. Likewise, as a woman matures, she realizes that her words, actions and accomplishments better reflect who she is than her handbag. Its contents, or tools for her success, change as well. They are more practical – a coupon organizer, a pack of tissues, hand sanitizer, and keys to a minivan.

My own handbag and the things I carry in it have gradually changed to reveal the person I have become. I still like to carry a stylish bag, but the contents have evolved to emphasize my inner beauty rather than my outward appearance. My handbag is merely an earthly treasure, but it can carry the tools to help me store up treasures in heaven. In the pocket next to my lipstick is a small container of holy water. A zippered compartment holds a prayer book, an assortment of holy cards and a booklet to examine my conscience before Confession. My rose-scented Rosary is neatly contained in a case with a picture of St. Therese of Lisieux. A Sunday bulletin is stuffed in a side compartment. Even my keychain proclaims my faith with the Sacred Heart Auto League logo and a request to call a priest in the event of an accident.

With these tools at my disposal, I can use those idle moments in my day to direct my focus toward heaven, where I hope to some day shout with joy, “I’ve arrived!”

Peggy Bowes, a devout Catholic, is the author of The Rosary Workout – available soon. She graduated from the US Air Force Academy in 1988 and served nine years as an Air Force pilot and Health and Wellness consultant. After leaving the military to raise a family, Peggy continued her education in the fitness industry by becoming certified as a personal trainer, Lifestyle and Weight Management Consultant and Spinning® instructor. She established a successful and rewarding business in metabolic and athletic performance (VO2) testing, with an emphasis on weight loss counseling. Peggy is also very active in parish life. She has been a lector, CCD teacher, and Little Flowers Girls' Club leader. She also enjoys triathlons, hiking, adventure races, and other sports as she incorporates all the benefits and blessings of The Rosary Workout. Peggy and her husband and two children currently reside in North Carolina.

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Dedication to Jesus
Lord Jesus Christ, take away my freedom, my memory, my understanding, and my will. All that I have and cherish you have given me. I surrender it all to be guided by your will. Your love and your grace are wealth enough for me. Give me these, Lord Jesus, and I ask for nothing more. Amen.
St. Ignatius Loyola (1491-1556)

St. Teresa of Avila
“For mental prayer…is nothing more than an intimate sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with Him who we know loves us. The important thing is not to think much but to love much…Love is not great delight but desire to please God in everything.”

St. Thérèse of Lisieux
"...So I sought in holy Scripture some idea of what this life I wanted would be, and I read these words: 'Whosoever is a little one, come to me.' It is your arms, Jesus, that are the lift to carry me to heaven. And so there is no need for me to grow up; I must stay little and become less and less."

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.