Monday, July 17, 2017

The Final Frontier - Humility

He tells me to Breathe, to breathe in and to breathe out.  I inhale and I think of Him.  I attempt to get as much air as I can with each breath, inhaling slowly, filling my lungs to capacity and I think of Him.  I exhale slowly releasing life, slowly letting go, all the while wondering if He is going to give me another, breath, another day.  In and out. In and out. In and out. Each breath a gift.  I try to imagine how many gifts of breaths He gives me each day.  Each time I breathe in and each time I breathe life out, Him, only Him.  The gift of life given to me, to you, every moment of each day. 

I am humbled. I am so small yet, so big in His eyes.  I tremble at His power and I tremble at His love.  

Brian Doyle (picture insert) choose choice words by saying "Sprint away from being important, famous, powerful".  "That is what we are here for:  to bring love like a searing weapon against the dark, and to do so without fanfare and applause, without a care for sneers."
'By Brian Doyle; The Word Among Us  

My prayer this year has been for the grace of humility.  This undertaking of silence, self denial, self resignation, all are very overwhelmingly difficult and, I would not say it is not because I boast or am prideful, but it is often times difficult to silence the tongue when I want to be esteemed, or praised or consulted or loved or approved or understood.  I pray for the desire of not wanting these things in my life and on my heart and in doing so, I ask Jesus to free me.  I pray that others may be loved more than I and to be preferred over me.  This prayer is easier said than done. 

My heart, my tongue wants justice when I feel unjustly appreciated or misunderstood. My outside is not like my inside.  My inside is much more complicated and it is for this reason that I feel so misunderstood. I know God has lessons for me and the one lesson is the silence of my tongue.  I want to scream at the top of my lungs, I want to scream until I can't scream no more, I want to scream to the world and make sure that all the wrongs in my life are right and understood by those who wronged me.  But in my silence, I have to put aside my autobiography and seek the soul of another and it is in seeking the soul of another that I walk on Holy ground with my Father God.  This is what He wants for me now.  Silence. Silence to learn another's soul.  To listen even if misunderstood.  He understands.  God humiliated himself to the extreme  by dying on a cross for all those who didn't understand. Let me learn from Him.  Let me be lowly here on earth so, all the rest of my days may be in humble joy knowing that the only esteem goes to Him that gives me the breath of life.   Make it oh Jesus, make this my desire. 

The final frontier. 
Breathe in, breathe out.
Give Glory to Him. 
Amen

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Appointments

I have been scheduling doctor appointments right and left lately, which include everything from my head to my toes.  I have completed 4 appointments thus far and I still have 4 more to complete. Most of these appointments are already scheduled, I just need the final approval to be released from work to attend to these visits. These doctor appointments are kind of like taking a car into the shop to get that car 'tuned up', except I'm not a new car, just an old clunker that is starting to squeak in more than one place.   I am grateful that I have the opportunity to be examined for all my defaults or to possibly get a thumbs up on my health, however what annoys me most though is the anticipation of waiting for the arrival date of the appointment and the anticipation of the results that make a one hour appointment go on for days and weeks.  The sense of relief, once everything is said and done is pretty much manageable, assuming that everything went well.

Most recently I went to the heart doctor.  Not the real heart doctor where you get the EKG's and so forth, but someone that I could go and talk to about personal and spiritual thoughts.  Even if everything else is working just fine sometimes the heart needs guidance too, making sure the right path is being taken, and to acquire balance so your heart can be squeaky clean too. The beautiful thing about our bodies is that we can not hide or kid ourselves when we do not feel good.  Our bodies give us clues.  I was having all the clues and or signs of not being in balance lately.  Things were starting to become a little foggy for me in my relationship with my family which effected my relationship with my God.  One thing always leads to another. The domino effect.   So, I went in for an adjustment for my heart, my spiritual well being.

My heart was foggy about several issues. First, when I got married I moved into another state, far from the family that raised me.  And in the last 31 years, I can count on my one hand the visits I have received from my sister and brother. They were minimal at best.  It is sad, at least in my perspective, that in my 31 years of marriage, my siblings not only chose to not become part of my family by visiting us in our home, but that they expected me to visit theirs and to visit frequently, on their terms, on their turf.  I'm not the kind of person to rock the boat, or at least I didn't for many years, mainly for fear that if I stopped trying, stopped traveling back home, I would not have my family in my life, but also because I have forgiven them every year quietly in my own mind for their selfish behavior and tolerated the situation.  I loved them and I put love above everything else.  Every vacation, every chance I had I hauled my family in the family car to visit them.  When we lived close, meaning several hours close, I visited monthly. When I lived further away, I usually visited twice a year.   The visits became more strained as the years passed and my visits have not been as frequent.  I am tired as is my husband.  These last two years I have not been home and my family is disgruntled with me for not visiting and they think I have indifference towards them.  I don't think I have ever had indifference, just sadness that they didn't want to share in my life.

The fog started to clear up when I got my heart checked out the other day.  It is painful for me to accept my family and their choices over the course of many years.  I am hurt, lonely and sad.  My heart doctor told me recently that I can't replay the past and most certainly I must move on to those that are dear to me and want to share in my life and in the life of my family. I can't hold onto something that does not exist.  My love for them does exists, but their love for me is questionable and certainly does not hold the same definition as mine.  I am not desiring to be understood as to understand their actions over the years and my heart doctor reminded me that it is not about being 'understood as to understand".  This is pure spiritual maturity.  

As I drove home one Sunday morning from 7:00a.m. Mass, the fog that was thick when I went to church was clearing off a bit making it manageable to see further on down the road.  I drove slowly, squinting my eyes making sure I was on the right path.  I am seeing much clearer on my personal journey, freeing myself from the bondage that my family has held me to over the course of 30 years.  I feel as if I can breath better and the weight of the load of always being the responsible one to maintain the relationship has been lifted, as well.  I do not love them any less, I just understand them better.

Slowly, the emptiness of my heart will fill up again with those that are willing and ready to love me and my family.

My step is lighter now and my song is stronger.
And as the song goes, "I can see clearly now, the rain is gone."  I mean, the "fog" is gone".

Monday, September 7, 2015

The Battlefield

In the last month or two I have encountered, and when I say encountered, I mean, almost stepped on, reached for, and looked upon the most terrible creatures on this earth, at least in my opinion they are the most terrible creatures, and this would be snakes. Snakes of all colors, sizes, poisonous or non, I think every last one of the are horrible, despicable creatures on this earth and although they may serve a purpose within the circle of life in nature, I think it would be wonderful if they all just slithered into a dark hole, we light a match and watch the whole slithering mess go up in flames and die.  Yes, that is what I think.  It would probably have to be a big dark whole because there are a whole lot of them on this earth and it would probably have to be a big match to get the fire started and it would probably take awhile, all in all, I think this would be a grand idea from my perspective and probably most of you would agree.  These slithering creatures remind me of sin and the ongoing battle with the devil and the earth and our flesh. I didn't capitalize the word that began with a 'd', I would never give that slithering creature such credit and this will be the first and last time I use that word in my writing, no reason to give him any attention free of charge.

So, where am I going with this....  Well, one day I was in my front yard pulling weeds out of  my flower garden enjoying the fresh air, the silence of nature and I might add, the beautiful moment I was having with God.  I know you say 'what?', a beautiful moment with God?" and I would reply "Yes, a beautiful moment with God", pulling weeds in the silence of nature."   Most of you might also think I am crazy with the thought of 'pulling weeds' is my type of enjoyment with God, but in my season of life, well most of my life, I love being outdoors working God's earth.  It is refreshing, invigorating and most certainly I always feel a sense of accomplishment with my work when it is done.  Unfortunately, this one particular day my work was interrupted while reaching down to grab some pine needles when and I encountered a snake.  It was not that big, and I have encountered them a lot in my life, particularly in this line of work/enjoyment, but it became a reminder that even in God's most lovely design in nature, there slithers the snake that can and did interrupt my time with God.  He is sneaky, slithering and viewed as the enemy.

Above:  This is my front yard where I seek weeds and God.



Above:  This is the slithering snakes hiding place.


  
Above: This is the slithering snake that welcomed me one morning.

In my attempt to kill the snake, I took a large tree branch laying nearby, that was after I took a picture of it,  I took that branch well over head and plunged downwards only to miss the dumb snake and in the process about got my toe.  Thank God, that was my prayer, that I did not get my toe. I can't believe I missed!!!!! It slithered back into the hole in which it came out of and that hole was far to deep for me to find that slithering, gross creature.   I am sure it is still there.

Moving forward.....
My family and I went one Saturday morning to go pick blueberries.  There was some grumbling from my clan about the time that I insisted that we leave to travel to this blueberry farm.   They always think that I am over excited and overly pushy about getting some place too early.  They usually thank me later for my perpetual insight into these sort of incidence of traveling early. It was a wet dewy day, early 6:30ish and there was a crowd of people at this hour, doing the same thing we were going to be doing, (picking blueberries) and of course, I have to admit, I was not the only one that had the intuition to rise early and be there at the crack of dawn to fill our buckets with blue balls.  I believe in this one instance, my intuition was confirmed as NOT being crazy.  We scooted back to a back area of blueberry trees to have some quiet family time and pick blueberries by ourselves.  I particularly didn't want to share my morning with strangers.  We all gathered around one tree, it got kind of crowded and so I moved along.  I found a tree that seemed to be filled with blueberries and thought I had struck gold.  I reached up to grab what I thought to be a bunch of blueberries (I didn't have my glasses on) and low and behold, I reached for a snake.  See below:



He raised his head high and hissed at me.  I have never seen blueberries move or hiss so, I took this as an indication that this tree was already taken, no blueberries to pick here.  He blended in well, coiled up into a tiny ball of gunk, and managed to not only watch me, but all those who also entered his space to grab those tiny blue balls called blueberries.  Yes, it was a reminder that I was not alone. I might have been alone with God while praying as I picked berries, but the evil was lurking around trying to steal that moment that I was encountering with God.  Again, sneaky, slithering, slimy creature on earth!!!

However, if you will see my buckets below, I and that of my family managed to acquire 6 large buckets of blue gold.  And oh, they were mighty tasty.
 

Next, during a walk, a short walk with my husband around our block, just about a half mile or so, I turned a corner and jump, out of the way of a small, rather injured snake that managed to get into my path.  I could not tell if it was stunned, waiting for the kill or if it was really just injured.  I told my husband to move along and informed him that I was going to jump on it to make sure it was not going to move ever again.  Of course, this was not the first time he thought I lost my marbles and most certainly it was not the last.  I practiced. I jumped high and landed hard.  I thought this type of movement would not only stunned the snake even more, it might actually kill him.  So, I planned my move and jumped on the snake.  I was not sure where my feet were actually going to land, but my goal was to land on its' head so I would not get bit.  I took the plunge and landed and then took my feet and pressed real hard moving my body downwards so that my body weight would squish his head into the pavement.  Then I quickly jumped back off the snake to see if my work proved successful.  It did.  A dead snake. An "A" for the day.  See below: 

My heart was racing, but I felt good and sooooo glad that snake was dead.  My husband shook his head and kept walking.

I kept walking too.  I walked across the bridge that entered into my neighborhood and purposely stopped to gaze at the flowing water that was underneath me.  It had just rained and the little creek had a bit of water that was actually moving quickly.  I wanted to stop, I usually never do, and take a picture.  It was rather kind of pretty with the dew on the blades of grass and the birds were chirping.  What a moment.  Or so I thought.  As I was focusing my lens on my camera, I noticed what I thought to be a stick floating in the water, probably washed up from the storm the night before, actually as I focused my lens, saw yet another snake.  See below:



I had had enough this day.  I told God, I get the picture.  The slithering thing is in battle with me and I need to put my armor on a little more securely.  I saw the snake as the    _ e v i l.  I am not going to put his name in my writing as mentioned before, but if you look at his name without the 'd', you can see that it spells evil. We must know our enemy.  Everyone of us must know our enemy.  No matter where you are, at any time and at any place, you have a mortal enemy and he wants to take you down and destroy you.  You can not escape the conflict.  You have to put on your armor of God.

Be sober, be watchful! For your adversary the _ e v i l, as a roaring lion,(in my mind a roaring snake) goes about seeking someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith.... 1 Peter 5:8-9

Some of the most demonic activity in our life can be and is very subtle.  They are ideas planted in our minds through the evil one.  If we allow those ideas to take over our thought process, then he is winning the battle.  God is good and loving.  Placing those evil thoughts with love and by being alert to these schemes and in being in constant prayer with our Lord, the evil one will flee.  The evil one will tempt us with doubt, accusation and he will entice us into the temptation itself.  Look at Eve and how he won her over in temptation.  All we have to do in moments of temptation is ask our Lord if this is what he wants and pray in His name.  The evil one will do all kinds of things and maneuver situations to make us be be attuned to his ways, to be tempted and to fall into sin.  Through our weakness we fall prey to the evil one and fall further away from our one true God.  We can become oppressed, depressed, obsessed and lastly possessed by the very thing that slithers.

Snakes have been on my mind lately, actually not just snakes, but the continual occurrence in my encounter with them lately.  I feel warned and most certainly, I am very cautious as I ponder on some of the negative circumstances and situations in my current life. I am reminded that I need to put on my full body of armor and pray unceasingly.  Prayer, fasting, and adoration are my first defense and having faith that God will protect me, hope that I will surpass these attacks and love in knowing that I am a child of God and I must protect my will in choosing what is right and good and acknowledging that there is no other God greater than Him. "But with God, all things are possible."  Mt. 19:26  

Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.  Mk 14:38


Now the seventy-two returned with joy, saying "Lord, even the devils are subject to us in Your name."  But He said to them, "I was watching Satan fall as lightning from heaven, Behold, I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions, and over all the might of the enemy; and nothing shall hurt you.  But do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you; rejoice rather in this, that your names are written in heaven."  Lk 10:17-20

There are many pictures above of snake encounters.  There will always be instances of evil lurking in unknown places and we must armor ourselves with the Lord to guide and protect us.

Evil is out there. I get the picture, do you?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Breathe and be Attentive

Mourning the loss of someone, whether it be a pet, friend, family member, an acquaintance, or even the possibility of something tangible, the loss gives us reason to stop and remember.  Each of us at some point in time have felt the impact of loss.  We also know that our loss is not going to impact everyone.  We have our people, our people peoples, acquaintances, those that we just say "hi" to, strangers and those that are in the world that we will never know.  Life continues to move forward. Life should move forward for us too, unless we allow the stress of the loss to hold us down, as we bury ourselves in grief.

I can say for the last month, I have buried myself in grief when I loss my beloved dog, my two aunts, my uncle and when my husband lost his job all within a months time. All of this was much to much for me to hold in my heart.

In the process of our mourning, we must immerse ourselves with our 'peoples' that raise us up when we are down by moving us emotionally, spiritually and intellectually.  We must keep these "peoples" in our inner circles so we can continue to grow and in the growing we must allow God inside our hearts.

If we do not love, we will not experience suffering.  It is in suffering that we can recognize our love in the loss.  I have suffered much and I have loved much.  I have no regrets.  But, in my suffering, I am most guilty in failing to breath and be attentive to Gods love for me.  I fail to breath in the Holy Spirit and be attentive to His word.  I am human, but I am His daughter and He has great things planned for me, and for you. We have to be attentive to the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit and let the grief transform our love.

When my dog passed, I particularly felt like my heart was being crushed by a freight train, continuous movement by all the moving freight cars, with no sight at the end of the tunnel.  My love for my dog was a love greater than no other love that I had for any other animal that I owned throughout my life time.  She was my "people" and there is no way to measure someone's love for their "people".

Most recently, it was expressed to me that as I enter my new stage of mourning I must "breathe and be more attentive" to God's love and His calling for me.  And, as I take in God's words and breath His breath, I will feel renewed and blessed that He gave my life such beautiful memories to move forward with as I continue to grow with Him.

May your love for one another be strong, passionate, unbridled, unconditional, unfailing, unselfish, forever forgiving, and one with God and may God continue to bless all of you.

Breathe and be attentive.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Mutual Love


 2014
Trying to take a Christmas picture, but Hannah kept giving me kisses


Sleepy Hannah resting on her favorite spot, my bed. 
Sunday morning listening to the birds.

Sisterly Love, Hannah's best friends, "Wendy Anne and Millie"


 It has been three weeks since I lost my beloved Hannah.  I have had the earthly pleasure of enjoying this beautiful creature for nine years, a gift to me by God.  I have had the most incredible journey with her during her lifetime.  Her death was quick, unexpected and most certainly painful.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would loose her so suddenly with no signs of illness.  Never did I think I could love her as much as I loved her and never did I think it would be so painful.  I loved her with my entire being and I know for certain that she loved me the same.  We knew each others soul, and yes, I believe she had a beautiful soul.  When I felt sad, she felt my pain.  When I was happy, she was overjoyed.  

It has taken me three weeks to address how much pain I am actually feeling since she died.  I believe everyone in my house feels somewhat the same, as no one speaks about her because it is just too painful.  I had her cremated and her ashes are in a beautiful box alongside a candle that I keep burning, and her paw print that is set in plaster sits next to her ashes in the entry way of my home.  One day I will bury her, but I am not sure yet of her final resting place.  Her life is a beautiful testimony of God's love for us.  God gifted me with her, at the time, I was not sure why, but as I look back, I understand that God knew what he was doing because he knew I would need someone to share my thoughts with, play with and love me unconditionally in this transitional part of my life.  She carried many of my burdens and continued to love me unconditionally everyday of her life.

Hannah was my shadow.  Everywhere I moved, walked or explored, she followed.  When I laid my head down to rest, she too laid next to me, every night for nine years, close enough that I felt her breath and felt her heart beat when I rested my hand on her chest. She ate right alongside me, sitting next to me by my feet.  She walked beside me and swam along side me in my pool.  When I was tired, she would sit and wait for me to have the energy to stroke her head.  She just knew.  She was patient, kind, loving, and polite.  This was the most amazing gift that Hannah was blessed with by God, which was her gift of "knowing" and her gift of giving back to me and to those around her.  She will be most missed.

I am numbed by the pain, but as I try to move forward, God has given me so many wonderful memories of such a beautiful dog (my 5th child).

I loved you Hannah with my whole heart and soul.  I loved you in all the big and small moments of you life.

I believe, one day, in another time and in another place, we will see each other again, and I will listen to your breath and feel your heart and we will be one again.

"Let all that you do be done in love"   1 Corinthians 16:14




Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Counsel

Sometimes it is my desire to just disappear, into silence , and to only be submerged in God's embrace, His peace, His love, to be content in only Him.  It is easy for me to type all of these feelings and or thoughts down on paper, but it is actually hard  for me to just let go and allow God to let me feel His presence.  Often times I feel that these feelings in my mind could only occur in  heaven, because true bliss would only occur in heaven, right?  And, because we are dealing with life here on earth and all the many tugs of war going on in life, this true bliss and contentment with God could not possibly occur here on earth, could it?   The tug of war in my daily life makes it easy for me to NOT listen to His voice and to share in the true contentment of God's embrace here on earth.  And in this darkness of 'whatever' is pulling me in the opposite direction that is surrounding me with doubt,  sometimes this is where I fail to listen to God's voice.  I believe I could win the blue ribbon for this mistake and yet, as I fail each time and repent, I continue to repeat the same pattern over and over.  I need help in the area of listening to God's word.  It is this, the practice of  listening,  that my spiritual director has most recently shared.  She is guiding me to pay closer attention to what God is sharing with me; God IS very present in my life and I need to practice the art of listening. 

It is hard to verbalize my experiences with God because  I, first and foremost, start crying because the encounters are very overwhelming and hard to explain.  Yes, I cry like a baby and then I don't make sense.  I did this the other day when I met with my spiritual director.  I'd start sharing about something, I started crying, which led to something else and then I started crying again which led to something else and on and on.  I get emotional when I open up about how God is so present in my life and even harder when I deny this fact that God isn't listening to me.  I too deny Him, sometimes unknowingly, like Peter.   

When God speaks to me, why don't I listen?  Why don't I recognize God's voice?  And, when I speak to Him, does He listen too?  Is what I have to say to God important enough for Him to listen? And my thoughts and doubts creep in and then I begin to offend the one that I love the most.   

And, this point, thinking that God doesn't listen to me and me not to him,  would be the actual point of my conversation with my spiritual director this week when she commented to me, "And, why wouldn't He listen to you and you to Him, you too are God's child, created in His image and loved most especially by Him".

Sometimes we don't always like to hear what we don't believe and we don't always like to listen to what we hear, especially when we think we know what is best.  Sometimes God comes and puts the brakes on those thoughts and shares something entirely different, it is at this time that we have to listen.  I was told the other day that I need to listen better to God's word.  I was not happy about my directors' comment because I thought I DO listen to God's word.  She pointed out otherwise.....I did not like being told I was wrong. I have much to learn. 

Sometimes I have an impoverished method of praying, at least this is what I think.  I am working on my conversations with God.  I am not only thanking God, loving God and asking God for forgiveness in my prayer, but I am trying to really ask God for what I need, 'supplication'.  This is difficult because it is the word "I" that I struggle with in my prayer.  What I think I need may not be what God thinks I need and who am I to think I know better than God.  

"Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask me anything in My name, I will do it. " John 14:13-14

 "This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him." 1 John 5:14-15

It is in asking that we receive and it is in asking God, and trusting in God, that God will hear our prayers.  I am still a student, learning to refine my prayers.  Adoration, thanksgiving, forgiveness will always be my prayer, but adding supplication to my prayer and listening will be my homework this week and yielding myself to the power of God's grace and meditating on his life will assist me in seeing how much God loves me and how I need to improve in my conversation with God. 

Proverbs 19:20 Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. 

"Say, WHAT?  I didn't hear you"?

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Resistance

St. Michael the Archangel
Defend us in battle. 
Be our safeguard against the wickedness
and the snares of the devil.
May God rebuke him we humbly pray,
and do thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host,
by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, 
and all the evil spirits,
who prowl about the world
seeking to ruin of souls.
AMEN

The picture above is a hand painted picture of St. Michael, painted by an artist in Peru and hand delivered to me to place in my home.  It is in my entry way of my home along with other religious paintings and pictures as holy reminders to all that enter my home.  

I have a St. Michael prayer card on the dash of my car by my speedometer.  By placing this prayer card in my car, I remind myself daily as I enter and exit my car to pray this prayer.  I also have this card on my computer at work, in my prayer journal and of course, the prayer is in my head.  I ask for assistance daily from St. Michael to protect me and my loved ones. 

The devil is sly, cunning, and conniving!  I will take all the help I can get each day to ward off any of his attempts to ruin my soul.  My flesh is weak and often times I allow the temptation to filter in my life.

Lately, I am struggling with fear and worry. First, I have been worrying about my son and his rehab of his most current shoulder injury and surgery.  I really don't know why I am worrying so much because it seems that my son is openly embracing the many changes that have occurred in his life. Maybe, it is my mother instinct to dust them off, bandage them up and continue to protect them as they move along their way and when I can't do this, this facilitates worry. He is 'all grown up' and I am most blessed that God has allowed me to watch him grow up...I still worry. 

Secondly, my granddaughter just 'graduated' from preschool.  What a celebration it was to see her walk across the stage and know that she is going to enter Kindergarten.  But, in the midst of knowing that she is going into kindergarten, it also means that five years have passed and I am now 5 years older, as is she, and the clock is ticking fast....  We are all getting older.......  I should be most blessed that God has allowed me to see her graduate, but my mind wonders about getting old and it scares me. 

Lastly, with the most recent event of my husband losing his job, I fear the unknown and I am quite frankly scared to death.  I have experienced this before and it put many trials on my marriage and in my efforts to continue to have faith.  We both have to work.  We live simply at best, rarely going on vacation, rarely having extras, just enough to be comfortable and to provide for our daily needs. Thank you God. But, the fear of the unknown has crept inside my head and I worry and do not sleep at night.  I am tired of worry. 

I AM....

resistant in what God has placed before me today.  I am resistant to what God expects me to do, which is to place total trust in Him.  I am resistant to think that He is going to help us. I am resistant in knowing that He thinks this is best for us.  I am resistant in loving Him right now because life is not as I had imagined, life is hard, life is not fair and I wish God would make it just a little bit easier for my family. 

I AM RESISTANT in just 'letting go' and accepting the gifts he has for me today. 

The resistance is the Devil's work.  The resistance is my weakness.

I have allowed the devil to beat me down with doubt.

I pray, but I must increase my prayer, because the devil is coming at me with a vengeance. 

I must put on my full armor of God. 

I must resist him, not God. 

EPHESIANS 6:11-13
Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.  For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.  Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 

St. Michael, I implore your help to defend me in the battle.... TO RESIST!



Sunday, May 24, 2015

Before and After

 

I've been a little busy lately.  Things keep getting in my way of my writing.  My thoughts however, still remain and sometimes when I don't get them written down, my mind gets overwhelmed with all the things that clutter my mind, it is hard to continue on without being able to share or write or pray on paper. In the evenings, I lay under my covers and shut my eyes to shut out all the distractions and then I just pray.  Sometimes that works for me and other times not so much, especially when my family barges into the bedroom, forgetting to knock and interrupt with questions like, 'hey mom, can I borrow your mascara tomorrow morning?, or 'mom, would you go over my schedule with me?' or 'what is for dinner tomorrow?'.... and on and on...  I admit, I do get very annoyed when they don't knock, as do they when I remind them to knock.

There is always a before and after situation.  Nothing is constant on earth.  Life keeps moving.  What is, is not always.  Ever changing.  Moving. Transition. Transformation. Alteration.....

My son just had shoulder surgery.  What was,will not be the same for him.  He use to swim miles upon end. Moving his arm in a motion above his head repeatedly for hours.  He now can barely move his hand equal to his elbow.

My daughter who has played the violin for over 5 years, (the first two years were painful to hear), but now the most beautiful sounds come from the little piece of wood and she has now chosen to not play due to her increasingly busy schedule.

My husband, once again, has lost his job.  A new 'boss' came into town and released all administration.  He is administration.  He does not have a job.

I wake up each morning thinking and expecting and preparing for what I think I am going to encounter in my day, all the while, God has other plans.   Life is ever changing.

I never know.  He only knows. He has it all planned.  I am His servant.  We are His instruments.

What was before is only temporary.

In the midst of change, I do enjoy helping my son dress his wound, assist him in his inability to manage his daily living skills and to listen to him as he processes the change in his life and watch him watch me love him as I serve him.  This is one thing that will not change, I will server with love.

In the midst of change, I sit and watch my daughter find herself as she moves through life adjusting her schedule and interest that she sees fit.  It is difficult as a parent thinking that we always know what is best for them when they were young, but not always knowing what is best for them as they grow older.  It is in letting go and allowing them to design their life as God sees fit that we fall in love with them all over and over again as they change.  There is one thing that will not change, I love watching her grow into a beautiful young lady.

In the midst of change, I have watched my husband age alongside me. We have been marred for 31 years this month. What was 31 years ago, is not today.  Our lives have changed. His career has changed.  I have supported him.  He has supported us.  I have served him.  I am his wife.  Jobs come and go.  God always provides.  There is one thing that will not change, I will always love him.

I am nervous.  I am anxious.  For what is not and what is to become, I rely on God.

"God, I praise your promise;
in you I trust, I do not fear".  Psalm 56:5
   ********************
"Happy those whose trust is the Lord,
who turn not to idolatry
or to those who stray after falsehood.
How numerous, O Lord, my God,
you have made your wondrous deeds!
And in your plans for us
there is none to equal you.
Should I wish to declare to tell them
too many are they to recount.
Sacrifice and offering you do not want;
but ears open to obedience you gave me.
Holocausts and sin-offering you do not require;
so I said, "HERE I AM;
your commands for me are written in the scroll.
To do your will is my delight;
my God, your law is in my heart!
I announced your deed to a great assembly;
I did not restrain my lips;
you, Lord, are my witness.
Your deed I did not hide within my heart;
you loyal deliverance I have proclaimed.
I made no secret of your enduring kindness
to a great assembly.
Lord, do not withold your compassion from me;
may your enduring kindness ever preserve me. 
Psalms 40:5-12

My prayers under my bed covers now include courage to be open to what God will give me today and to accept his gifts openly and with love.

Before and After, the only thing that is CONSTANT, is HIS LOVE.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Keep Rockin' on.....

Today, on Mother's Day, after I went to 7:00AM mass, I went to the grocery store and bought a dozen orange roses and a vase for myself.  I thought they were beautiful and I never buy flowers for myself, but today, I thought 'why not"?  The store was having a special on roses, a dozen for $7.00 and I thought I deserved it, after all, my family didn't bother to get up to go to church with me, there were no flowers for me when I woke up and my children are not really children anymore.  They are grown and the 'Mother's day' thing I thought has probably worn its' course with my family.  My feelings were hurt just a bit especially when our priest asked the families to lay their hands over their mother and pray over them.  I had no one to lay hands on me.  The roses made me feel better, until I got home.

When I got home, my son called and wished me a happy day and he told me he loved me.  I love it when he calls me 'mom' because I love being his mom.  I called my mom and wished her a Happy Mother's day too. Then my daughters and grandchild came into my room and wanted me to go outside, and my youngest daughter was so excited.  She had "present" written all over her face.  I hesitantly went outside to find my rocking chair with a big bow and a vase of flowers and card next to it waiting for me.  My husband had sweat dripping down his face as he explained later, it took a while to assemble this chair together.  I was surprised of my precious gift, but more importantly, the gift that I loved the most was their excitement in giving it to me.  My daughter told me she picked it out.  We all took turns rocking in this wonderful chair.

Both of my grandmothers had a rocking chair and I remember sitting on their laps as they rocked me. I had a rocking chair when I had my four babies and passed it down to my daughter.  So, the thought of another rocking chair was most certainly embraced and I am so excited about the possibility of sitting on my front porch in the morning in my rocking chair drinking coffee and watching the birds and the squirrels.   However, I really underestimated their love for me this day.  Here I bought my own flowers and thought that they were just carrying on as if it was another day.  I always jump to the wrong conclusion and I feel horrible about my thoughts, especially about the fact that I bought my own flowers, this is most pitiful.

As time rocks on, I will be rocking my grandchildren on the front porch with hopes that they will one day have the same beautiful memories that I cherish. It is not so much about the rocking chair, but the beautiful moments we have with our mothers and grandmothers here on earth and the strength and wisdom that we acquire from them.

Mary, our heavenly mother imposes wisdom to all of us when Mary said, "My heart praises the Lord; my soul is glad because of God my Savior, for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!  From now on all people will call me happy, because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me.  His name is holy; from one generation to another he shows mercy to those who honor him.  He has stretched out his mighty arm and scattered the proud with all their plans.  He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones, and lifted the lowly.  He has filled the hungry with the good things, and sent  the rich away with empty hands.  He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors, and has come to the help of His servant Israel.  He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham and to all His descendants forever!"

I will ask my heavenly mother to guide me in sharing the wisdom of our Lord to those that I rock in this white, wooden rocking chair gifted to me this day on Mother's Day.

I will probably never buy myself flowers again on Mother's Day because I know my children won't forget and even if I don't get flowers, their presence is most important gift of all.

You kids Rock!

Now, I'm going to rock on, too!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Slither.....

We had a few chilly nights this winter, several nights dropping below 32 and of course, since this does not occur as it might up north, I had to take several precautions with my sprouting flowers and plants by covering them up with blankets and sheets to protect them from the freeze.  I was hopeful that the coverings of my plants would benefit their life. I took great care in covering the many plants and placing rocks at the corners of each blanket to hold the covering in place.  I had a few neighbors do the same, those that have taken pleasure in their yards like me.  I was not able to cover all my plants, only the ones that I felt would certainly benefit from coverage.

The bitter night had come and gone and I, being buried in other projects and chores, I left the blankets on for several days to come.  I am sure my neighbors wished I was as prudent in taking off the blankets as I was in putting them on, but I did not take them off until it warmed to 50 degrees.

It was a nasty job removing the blankets.  The blankets with heavy with dew and dust and so I carefully pulled each blanket off so as to not cover myself in the dirt and moisture.  On my last plant that I uncovered, underneath there sat a large snake coiled up waiting to greet me.  It was the perfect warm environment that I had blessed him with and he had made this his home to my surprise.  I was shocked to say the least and most certainly surprised to see him pull his head back to strike at me. I believe we were both in shock at one another's presence.  I, nor the snake moved.  Both of us were measuring each others' position.  I reached into my pocket and took out my phone and snapped a picture.  I am not sure what provoked me to take a picture versus the alternative which would be to run, but I took the picture. The snake did not move.  I then analyzed my placement to the broken branch nearby and reached for the broken pine branch that had fallen off my tree and proceeded to slam the branch down onto the snake only to watch as the branch broke into two pieces and then witness the snake slither back down into the ground.  

I pounded and pounded the ground, again and again, stabbing the earth over and over until I thought there might be a slight chance that I might have killed the snake and that it would never enter my territory again.  All the while, I knew that the snake went way under the earth's surface into its' home, safe and secure, waiting until I reach my hand into the soil again to garden my flowers.

My heart was racing, I was angry at myself for not having a better aim and for not having more power or force to kill the snake.  This encounter with the snake on my turf literally "rattled" my cage.

In retrospect, as I look back upon my encounter with the slithering snake, I am reminded of the evil force, constant wicked and crafty ways of the devil.  The snake is a reminder to me of the spiritual powers of evil and how I must constantly persevere to overcome any temptation that would separate me from God.  I know my God will protect me and give me power over the enemy.

Luke 10:19  "Behold, I have given you the power 'to tread upon serpents' and scorpions and upon the full force of the enemy and nothing will harm you.  Nevertheless, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names are written in heaven."

The snake slithered back into its' hole and I wait in anticipation of the snake striking again.  I will cautiously protect myself physically when I again garden, as well as armor myself spiritually.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

The prophetic words

It has taken me some time to gather the courage to write about a conversation that I had with a priest just recently.  I have many instances in my life that I would consider 'miracles' in my ordinary day, all of which I believe God was speaking directly to me regarding my life and my life situations.  I am very open to God and His messages, however this day, I was just not expecting this particular message.

There is no way that I could possibly relay the entire message given to me over the course of the hour that I had this conversation with this priest, but I would like to share or impart part of his message, with the idea that God always does and always will speak to us if we open ourselves to listen to the message.  It is in this conversation that I had with this priest that gave me a new message of Hope and in writing my experience, I offer you a sense of hope, that God is listening and that God loves us dearly.

I would like to share some background information regarding my conversation with this particular priest.  The background information is essential in understanding the divine nature of my conversation with him.

The background information is listed below:
1.  I have never had a conversation with this priest, other than several days prior, we bumped into one another and I asked him to pray for my children.  I then introduced myself to him.
2.  I have never told him anything about my parents, brother or sister or of my own children
3.  I have never expressed to him anything about my 'lost daughter'.
4.  I have never shared with him that I go to Adoration weekly.
5.  I have never shared that I do not like sitting in the chairs at Adoration.
6.  I have never shared how I physically, mentally and emotionally prepare for Adoration each week.
7.  I have never shared about any emotional discomfort and or disagreements that I have encountered over the course of my life regarding my siblings or parents.
8.  I have never share how I pray during Adoration.
9.  I have not shared about my particular prayers regarding my 'lost daughter'.
10.  I have not shared my fears, hopes and dreams with this priest.
11.  I have never gone to confession with this particular priest.
12.  This was the first time I have ever encountered a conversation with this priest.
13.  I have not shared with him the emotional and spiritual struggles that I have encountered in the last four years of my life.
14.  Do you understand?  There is no premise that this priest would have any knowledge about my life, thoughts, prayer life or anything in general.
15.  What did occur in the hour of conversation was a moment with God, expressing to me my most intimate concerns and love for him and my family.

Please read on if you will...

Prior to Easter, our office was booming with visitors, phone calls and numerous staff coming to my desk for various questions.  There had not been a dull moment in my office space and most certainly not at the noon hour. Noon hour was the craziest because people always came in on their lunch hour needing assistance for one thing or another.  This particular priest came to my desk and asked to speak with me.  I told him that I was the only one at the desk, there may be interruptions, but most certainly he had my most undivided attention when there were not interruptions.

He sat down, facing me, and grabbed my hand and held them in his palm.  He closed his eyes and said "I have been praying for you (he said my name)".  I felt an awkward, uncomfortable feeling, if you will, that I in the middle of my office building, for all to see and hear, I was having a conversation with my priest and I was not sure what the conversation was going to entail.  I was distracted, waiting on the next phone call, visitor or staff to appear.  However, it was unusually quiet, no calls, no visitors, no staff and he reminded me that we will not be interrupted.  I found this to be rather funny because I knew this was not going to be true.  I just wanted him to hurry up and say what it was that he had to say.   I looked around and at that moment I noticed that all that staff had left their offices, no calls were lit up on the switchboard and the reception area was vacant.  I thought to myself that this is really weird, spooky if you will.   He brought my thoughts back to him when he reminded me that he wanted to speak with me and that he can not speak to me when my thoughts are wondering and when I am not focused.  He told me to forget about the interruptions, as there would be no interruptions.  He was right, because for a solid hour, there were absolutely no interruptions during my time with this priest.

In the hour that he held my hand, I did not feel the weight of his hand, sweaty palms or anything uncomfortable.  I only felt a sense of peace by his touch.  Once I was focused, the hour conversation felt like 5 minutes.  He often times would close his eyes, taking deep breaths, and there were periods of silence as he was gathering the words to share with me. The uncomfortable feeling at the beginning went away immediately and I had the most heavenly experience ever imaginable.

He began, "I have been praying for you and mostly your daughter "_ _ _ _ _ _". " (I am not sure how he knew her name, but I listened. ) He stated "you always pray for protection for her and this is good, (I do not know how he knew that I pray for protection for her) but I want you to also pray for God's providence for her. It is in God providing for her that she will be well protected.  Your word in your prayers will now be 'providence or provide'.  It is also in God's providence that she will come to know God again and will return."  As he finished this sentence, tears started streaming down my face, I just could not hold in my tears.  He paused and said "my prayer as a mother is strong and my relationship with God is right and God listens to our prayers.  We never know when our prayers will be answered or how they will be answered, but it is in praying that God listens.  God hears your prayers and most certainly hears them about _ _ _ _ _ " (my daughter).

He continues and indicates that I have emotional distress with my family (indicating my parents and siblings).  He indicates also that I have a large amount of love for them, love that they will never understand.  He said my love is like the love of a mother for her children except they are not my children.  He indicates that God loves that I love.  He said that I have been distressed for sometime, back when my daughter was very young and I have carried this emotional stress and the lack of receptive love from my family and have placed this stress upon my children and spouse (he is right, as I have carried the feeling of abandonment from my family for many years)".   He told me "that I can not 'do' what they have 'undone', but the only thing that I can continue to do is to love." He told me "you need to let go of the ones that have hurt me and embrace those that want to love me".

He moved on.... pausing... praying... and holding my hand.

He proceeded in telling me that the Lord loves for me to go to Adoration.  (By the way, I have never told him I go to Adoration, nor have I ever seen this priest in Adoration...)  He shared with me how he wants me to prepare my body when I go to Adoration. (But first, I will share my private ritual prior to going to visit the Blessed Sacrament; My Adoration time is at 7:00PM weekly, and it takes 20 minutes to get there so I leave usually at 6:30PM.   Often times when I come home from work, usually I get home at 5:00-5:15, I make myself a meal, then I love on my dogs, and then take the hottest shower I possibly can to relax my muscles and to put me in a comfortable state, dress comfortably, usually in sweat pants and T-shirt or a long skirt and T-shirt and flip flops.  If it is winter, I take a blanket with me, as well.  I grab my bag with my prayer books, bible, journal and pen.  Then I mosey on to church.  No one, not even my family has any idea what my ritual entails.  I am sure they know the general idea, but most certainly not the details.) So, the priest began by saying, "when you go to Adoration, do not eat first and take a hot shower, take a cold shower then eat a 'lite' snack lastly.  It is in taking a cold shower and eating a lite snack that the body will automatically warm itself back up and certainly leave room for the Lord to feel me with warmth once I arrive at Adoration.  If  you take a hot shower, the body will cool off leaving you cold to God's message".  When I heard the priest tell me this I ask him how he knew that I did this, and he immediately stated "_ _ _ _ _, (my name) I told you that I have been praying for you.  Please listen".  Again, tears welled up in my eyes, my unbelief became belief.

The conversation continued on the subject of my visit  to Adoration. Most recently,  my time in Adoration and my prayer in Adoration has been contaminated with outside thoughts, interruptions and most certainly with lack of focus.  I have been distracted with the uncomfortable seats in the chapel, wishing that I could sit on the floor, but worrying about what others would think.  I also was distracted because my son had called me the evening prior to Adoration asking me to help him write a paper.  And on this note, I thought I would write the paper once in Adoration. I would pray, then sit in quite and begin to write part of his paper.  And, I did just that, ruffling papers and probably distracting the others that were actually there to pray.  The priest mentioned this in our conversation.  He said " why do you ruffle papers in the presence of our Lord?  Why don't you just sit on the floor instead of in the chair. The Lord does not care where you sit and you should not worry what other people think.  After all, it is just between you and our Lord".  He stated  " you must make yourself comfortable when you go before the Lord and in your prayer you will also hear".  He continued to tell me how he wanted me to sit on the floor, how to hold my hands and how to be open to the Spirit.

As my mind started to drift back to the moment of me being in the chapel and my thoughts that he confirmed, he reminded me again to remain focused and to listen to him.  He said to listen to the Lord we have to not be distracted.  We have to give all of our attention to the Lord.

Many other private prayers were shared and discussion took place about my hopes, dreams and most certainly, many  fears and thoughts were confirmed during his prophetic words.  I listened, cried, and hung on to every word he said.  After all, God was speaking, I had to listen.

He told me to write the word 'providence' down on a piece of paper and pray this word over and over.  I wrote it down and stuck it on my computer.  I don't think I will ever forget this word or his words to me this day.

The hour passed in what seemed to be 5 minutes.  There were no interruptions, not even one. There was no one in the office, no calls, no staff, just him and me.

He got up, took a deep breath and thanked me for letting him pray with me.

I was a mess.

My mascara was down my face.

Tears kept streaming down my cheeks.

My nose was all stuffed up.

I was not sad.

I was just in a state of bliss.

He walked off.

I was numb.

The phone rang.

The interruptions began again.

The day proceeded.

The prophetic words were replayed in my head all day long.  I cried on my way home.  I cried telling my family.  I cried because in that particular moment of that day, I had just asked God to please give me a sense of peace about everything.  I had just prayed and was feeling like my prayer was just another prayer, and a prayer unheard, or so I thought.  I needed to know that on this particular day, after a most unsettling prior evening in Adoration (mainly because I was unfocused), that God was at my side, loving me and accepting me with all my flaws.  I needed to know that my prayers were not selfish.  I needed Him to know that I just wanted to do everything that he designed me to do and that I did need His help in doing just this and I just wanted to please Him.   I just wanted Him to love me and for Him to make me feel loved particularly in my bouts of loneliness. In my years of feeling abandoned, I wanted confirmation that He has not abandoned me.    

This day, He fulfilled everything that I needed peace about and this is why there were so many tears.

How could I have ever doubted?

And, this is why I share my story with you today, so that you too will LISTEN to His words.

Please take time to pray, but more importantly, in your prayer, Listen.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Injured Wings


This morning I walked out onto my front porch to find this butterfly struggling to stay on this flower in my flower garden.  I ran inside to grab the camera to take a picture with hopes that I could capture its' beauty and then watch as it struggled to fly away.  We always have butterflies in our front garden, however it seems a bit early this year that they are out so early, so  I was quite delighted to find one to greet me this morning. I snapped the camera quickly.  I wished I had my better camera because I am sure it would have captured the delicate wing structure and its' beautiful color against the purple flower in the background.  At any rate, I am thankful for my quick movement and the butterfly's slow decision to fly away.

If you look closely, you can observe a slight imperfection in the right wing of the butterfly.  The imperfection appears to be an injured wing which is almost certainly why it was struggling to fly.  Although, it appears to be injured, the butterfly continued its' flight path towards another flower and on and on without a slight hesitation to quit and give up.  Its' wounded limb did not stop the butterfly from attempting to and successfully continuing its' flight pattern.  Its' adaptation to the injury and the acceptance of its' injury and its' motivation to not quit amazed me.

I'm not fond of quitting.  I believe if the opportunity exists, the skill is accomplished and the tools are available, take flight, adapt and succeed, but don't quit because of the unknown of tomorrow or something may require extra effort.

I had a long conversation with my son this past week.  He's injured.  He is down, and he is ready to quit. He has let other people place doubt into his mind about his healing, rehab, abilities, enthusiasm, his drive, purpose and his life long dreams.  He has placed himself inside a dark tunnel to which he can not see beyond the darkness.  I, over the course of a week have attempted to share a most positive outlook on the situation and have also attempted to help him see the benefits of an official rest during his healing, rehab and or recovery and future success.  He is too down to listen.  I am most saddened by this turn of events and his attitude of no resolve.

At 4:00 this morning when he left to go back to college, we had a disagreement and an exchange of words.  I have not spoken to him since and most certainly do not regret my words as a mother, but regret the way in which he left.  I prayed for 5 hours that the angels and saints would surround his car until he was safely home because I knew he was not driving peacefully.

We as parents, give our children wings to fly their own path, or feet, so to speak, to walk their own journey.  But, we as parents also want to make sure that they stay on course, with hopes that they do not make any drastic detours that will effect the course of their life.  We want them to understand that sometimes the easy path is not always the path to take because it is in the difficult journeys that we discover who we are, how strong we can become, the wisdom that we will gain along the way and the endurance to endure the hardship of the journey which essentially prepares us for the rest of our life's choices and decisions.

I do not think my son heard me in our conversation. He was determined for me to hear him.  And in our exchange of words, our words were lost in the challenge of hearing and listening to one another.

As a mother, we are intuitive and we place their burdens on our hearts and on our sleeve.  They do not understand how much we love them and want the best for them.  I just wanted to shake him until he understood, but as he stated, it is his life.

I wished my son could have seen the injured butterfly this morning soar through the sky.  The butterfly might have fluttered a bit, not as graceful as most, but it soared, injury and all.

Do you not know
     or have you not heard?
The Lord is the eternal God, 
     creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint nor grow weary, 
     and his knowledge is beyond scrutiny.
He gives strength to the fainting; 
     for the weak he makes vigor abound.
Though you men faint and grow weary, 
     and youths stagger and fall,
They that hope in the Lord will renew their 
     strength,
   they will soar as with eagles' wings;
They will run and not grow weary,
     walk and not grow faint.
                                          Isaiah 41:28-31

I pray that he makes the right decision.  I pray that he listened.  I pray that he prays.
You give them wings, you have to let them fly......

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

A Moment of Surprise

Yep, that's my dog. I love every inch of her.  I love all the slobber, hair balls, piles of poop and last but not least, her love.  But today's topic is unfortunately not about my dog.  It is about the expression that you see in this picture, a 'surprised" expression. This expression is what brings me to my prayer writing today and how I felt about a comment made at our Easter dinner table.   

My son brought home a friend from college.  Yep, his roommate.  He is a good roommate/friend to my son.  My son also brought home his dog which is shared with his roommate. I'm not sure what is going to happen with the dog once they graduate from college, but for now, their dog "Lucy" is their loyal companion.   She's cute, but four dogs in my house.... well you get the picture, it is quite busy. Lots of slobber, hair balls, piles of poop and of course, four times the love.  I don't mind the dog or the my son's roommate visiting, all is well.  We don't even think of my son's roommate as a guest, more like family, he blends right in with us.  We hope he accepts us as such.  Gee, I think my son thinks of him as a brother.  Okay, moving on.....

I'd like to think that our Easter was amazing.  We had a marshmallow artillery (archery) battle, we hunted Easter Eggs, (and oh yes, my 20 year old son hunted them too with his 20 year old roommate) and we hunted Easter Baskets, and swung at a pinata.  We had a huge meal, watched lots of movies and took care of dogs, might I add, four dogs....

Once we gathered around our dinner table, we prayed and gave thanks to our Lord and then we began our tradition which is to go around the table, each taking turns, to tell one thing that we are thankful for and one thing that makes us happy today.  We do this routine so everyone will have a chance to share their heart and to keep the conversation moving along and so the conversation does not linger in one direction with one person all the time.  We do have some in our family that would hog the entire dinner table conversation all of the time, and all of us know who it is, and so do they, and we really don't mind after all, I guess.  There is always lots of good information.   This time, at the table however, I asked each person to share one thing that they like about the Easter festivities.  Some said the marshmallow fights, the smashing of the pinata or the attempts of smashing the pinata was mentioned as a favorite, and then finding the Easter baskets and the contents of the baskets were also their favorites.  We finally reached our guest and I asked him what he thought about everything we had done in the past several days and his comment took me by surprise.  He did not mention egg hunting, basket hunting, pinata smashing or the marshmallow fights, but he very thoughtfully mentioned how he thought his favorite part thus far was the fact that all of us came together at the table with the table decorated in the spirit of Easter and shared our thoughts as a family.  This was his treasured moment thus far.  

When our guest mentioned that 'sharing a meal' at the table was his favorite event, I was stunned.  I thought for sure it would have been the marshmallow fight since he was so good at it, but it wasn't.  I looked around the table to see the expression of my family.  I believe we all had a moment of surprise. I also believe that as he thought our dinner table experience was special, I think my family might have taken it for granted.  His comment gave me reason to ponder about what a special blessing we have to be able to gather around the table and to count our blessings.  After all, it all started on Holy Thursday with the Last Supper and sharing thoughts and sharing a meal.  

God wants us to gather as a family, to share thoughts, to share food.  He wants us to form bonds, unity and experience each others day.  Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday gave way to a new beginning in our attempt to come to know Christ better, a new chance to better ourselves with our relationship with God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  With 40 days of reflection, an Easter dinner should be reason to celebrate Christ resurrection and our new life.  

My favorite thing that made me happy Easter day was when my son's friends came to celebrate with our family and the fact that my son wanted his friend to celebrate with us.  I think my son likes our tradition, our sharing and he wanted someone else to share in our table of thanks.  

Thanks son. Thanks roommate. What a wonderful moment of surprise at Easter dinner.



Thursday, April 2, 2015

St. Anthony, my favorite Saint!

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(Picture on left is a small statue of St. Anthony and baby Jesus)

Have you every lost your glasses?  Misplaced your keys and you know you took off those shoes (the smelly ones) by the back door only to find that they are not there?  And the most frustrating thing is that no matter where you look for those lost items, they are not there and you need the item immediately which makes the situation worse.

St. Anthony, is my favorite Saint and has been since my memory can recall. He is the Saint that I invoke for help when trying to find lost items. He has interceded for me to many times to count.  If interested, please look him up, but for now, I really want to share an amazing story with you.

I work in a church office and a young lady (late 20ish) came in, and I would say, a bit frazzled.  Her eyes were swollen and red and she persisted to tell me that she lost her billfold.  She then continued to tell me that her billfold was not just any billfold because it carried her phone and her keys.  She then proceeded to tell me that the keys were not her keys.  She was visiting family and she had the keys to a rental car.  The more she talked the more she was getting very upset.  So, I got up out of my chair and asked her if I could help her retrace her steps.  She agreed.  She indicated the last place she was at was in the ladies room in the church.  We went into the two stall restroom and looked around, on top of the paper towel holder, the sink, the floors.  She told me she had emptied the contents of her purse out on the floor, looking for something in particular, but there was no billfold.  

We then moved into the church where she was at prior to the ladies room.  She indicated to me that she sat in the front row when she was praying.  She did mention how beautiful our church was, she mentioned the stain glass and the altar, but by the time she was describing how beautiful everything was, tears were streaming down her face and she began shaking.  She was so incredibly upset because she did not have the keys, her identification and the phone that was in the billfold, carried the numbers in which to call.  She could not remember any of the numbers.  I asked her if she looked in the car, and she stated that this was the first place she looked, but she could not open the car doors because they were locked.

After having no success in the church, I questioned her as to her whereabouts prior to the church.  The young lady again indicated how beautiful the church was and then mentioned she was in the Adoration Chapel. I walked over to the chapel which was behind the church.  We tip toed into the chapel.  There were four adults in the chapel praying.  We searched around the chapel only to come up empty handed.  I interrupted the people praying and asked them if they had seen the billfold, and unfortunately all had said 'no'.

She began sobbing now.  I quickly moved her out of the chapel and towards the prayer garden. I asked her to sit down so she could gather herself and we could develop a plan, after all, I had to get back to work.  I grabbed both of her hands and held them and told her to breath and imagine that St. Anthony was standing before her.  I began my prayer....."Dear St. Anthony,  I am here today with a young lady, very distressed due to a lost item.  We have searched over and over and now we ask that you come to our aide.  St. Anthony, I am asking for intercessory prayer, in search for this young lady's lost billfold since you are the Saint of lost and stolen items.  I ask the Dear Lord to also grant her peace and to deliver her safely back home while on her trip. Amen"

She was most grateful for the prayer.  We stood up and I walked her to her car, which was parked quite away from all the other cars.  She mentioned that she did not want anyone making a ding in her car door since the car was not hers and this is why she parked so far away.   I told her I understood. I am not sure why we walked to the car, knowing full well the car doors were locked.  There was momentum in our steps.  I did not have a plan.   She walked towards the back passenger window, cupped her hands and looked inside the car.  She was exasperated because the door was locked and no sign of the billfold.

I asked her to step aside and as I maneuvered ahead of her, I reached for the front door and opened it. She gasped and immediately asked how I opened the door.  She indicated that 'those doors were locked'.  She moved in front of me and screamed in excitement saying "my billfold is in the front seat. Oh my God, how did you do this?"  Of course, I told her that I did nothing, if something was done we need to give thanks to the one who deserves credit, which would be Our Lord and our Blessed St. Anthony.   She moved towards me and held my hands and went down on her knees and cried thanking the Lord and asking God to bless me.

I am sure that if anyone walked into the parking lot that day and saw her kneeling before me it would have been an odd sight.  I was slightly uncomfortable, feeling a little awkward, but pleased more than anything that she found her billfold.

She came up off her knees exclaiming that this was a "Miracle".  

I then told this '20 something girl' to have a safe trip and scooted on back to my office.

Slightly weird, very unusual, but most certainly convinced that God had His hands all over this incident!

Ordinary miracle in my ordinary day.  Just saying.....



Sunday, March 29, 2015

Obedience


I took this picture some time ago of the Holy Family in the prayer garden of my church.  I frequent the prayer garden that is adjacent to our chapel.  The statue is a holy reminder to me of obedience to God.  Our obedience begins with our parents as we honor, love and obey them.  And, it is in this obedience that we gain wisdom into the will of God by obedience to his 10 Commandments. 

Last night my granddaughter (4 1/2) years old, insisted on disobeying me and what instructions I thought to be important for her safety.  She disobeyed.   She persisted to ignore my requests over and over again.  And, as a grandmother, I did not want to be the one to punish her, however her mother was not home, which left me to be the one to follow through.  It ached every bone in my body to raise my voice and take away a favorite stuffed animal of hers, which was her consequence. She cried and cried and cried until she realized I was not returning her stuffed animal anytime soon.  

It was later in the evening that I was readying myself for bed, she came into my room and asked me if her animal could be returned.  I told her 'most certainly, not".  She thought about it and then said she was sorry (which is a hard thing for her or any child to do particularly when they are purposely being deviant) and she said, "maybe tomorrow will be a better day and we can talk about it tomorrow."  I told her talking about it tomorrow would be better because she would have time to think about what she did wrong and she agreed.  I could tell she was already very sorry because she knew she not only disobeyed, she hurt my feelings.  

I went to church this morning on Palm Sunday and I thought about how Jesus obeyed and didn't defy what God the Father asked of Him.  Imagine how hard this would be especially knowing the outcome.   He followed the instructions of His Father and was inclined to guide those around Him as well, full knowing that his journey was not going to be easy.  He was humble and submitted himself to the cross, graciously.  We must always heed his lessons of obedience, patience, and suffering so that we too can share in the Glory of God, His Resurrection.  

I look back on my childhood and in my memories of disobeying my parents.  I know I made their life on earth a living hell, oh how easy it would have been for them had I obeyed them.  I was difficult, I can honestly say, the middle child, always seeking approval and validation.  Undoubtedly, I did not always obey, but they continued to love and guide me then and now.   Accordingly, through their guidance for me as a child, I am able to guide my own children and my grandchild towards God. Undoubtedly, either roads, the one on the journey or the one pushing them towards the journey, is never easy.  We misstep along the way, falling off the road and getting the map out to get back on the right path.  

Peter, Jesus' disciple, denied him three times and though Peter vehemently replied, "Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you." Mark 14:31. How many times have we denied Jesus?  How many times have we offended Him?  How many times do we deny Him knowingly? How many times are we sorry?  How many times will we do it again and again?

Today my grandchild got her stuffed animal returned to its' rightful place.  We talked about how we hurt those when we don't follow the rules. She asked me if my heart had stopped crying.  I assured her that just looking at her smile, my heart was very happy.  She is happy, she has her stuffed animal. 

Life continues in the life lessons of obedience as we walk on the journey with our relationship with God, sometimes taking detours and then finding our path again. God is always there guiding us, loving us, listening to us, knowing us as his children.

"Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test.  The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak." Mark 14: 36