Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Most Important Thing: Entering into God's Rest!

Well, lots has happened since my last post! As I stated before, there would probably be more obstacles and there has been! 

We ended up losing the foreclosed house we put an offer on. It turns out there were multiple offers on it and after two weeks of waiting, we finally heard the bank picked another offer. It was disappointing but we also had peace because we did all we could and prayed about what we should offer.We wanted to go higher because we didn't want to lose the house, but we stuck with the number God gave us. 

We knew we had been obedient but it was still hard because there was literally nothing new coming on the market worth seeing, especially in the town closest to the church Tom is going to work at and we are going to be parishioners. Tom also was about to leave and I would be left behind with the kids, packing up the house we were going to have to move out of by August 5th with no place to go.

Tom left for the two day drive on July 15th and as soon as he got there on the 16th, he started looking at houses. Finally, the last house he saw on the 17th was the one! It was by far nicer and bigger than anything else we had seen! He sent a text to our realtor and then went to worship with some friends. 

Ironically, the Gospel reading for that Sunday was about Martha and Mary. Mary knew how to sit at the feet of Jesus and worship whereas Martha was anxious about many things. I have come a long way in this area over the years, but in this situation, I was definitely feeling more like Martha and knew Tom was being like Mary. That didn't make it any easier though! I knew it was a hot market and if we didn't stay on top of things, we could lose the house. Finally the realtor got back with him and Tom was able to make an offer. Around 3pm the next day, we found out there was another offer on the house and it was a cash offer. My heart sank! I began praying hard!!! I thought we probably wouldn't hear anything till the next day but just an hour later the seller countered. We originally offered $3k less than the asking price and $4k in closing costs. The seller came back with the same price we offered but only $2k less in closing costs. Yes!!!! I couldn't believe we were going to get the house without even going up to the asking price, with another offer on the table!

Anyway, it is a beautiful house! It doesn't need a thing! It has all new flooring and new paint throughout. They say hind sight is always clearer and that is definitely true in this situation. The first house we put an offer on needed all new floors and an updated kitchen. Tom and I both had a few red flags about that but we ignored them. The reason we had red flags was because as we were getting our house ready to sell, we really felt God was preparing a place for someone through us and he was preparing a place for us up there. With the house we are getting, God is truly in the details. For starters, the whole house is blue! I love the color blue, especially the blue that is in the house. I have always wanted to have blue walls but it never happened. Blue also speaks to me of Mother Mary. I think she might have had a hand in things as well as St. Joseph. St. Joseph is often depicted in pictures holding lilies.There are beautiful lilies in the front of the house! They were definitely interceding for us!

After we lost the first house, people told us it wasn't meant to be then and God would have something else. I think in this case that is true because we prayed hard and had other people praying hard that we would get that house and we still didn't get it. I don't think it is always the case however. I think often we have a tendency to be fatalistic about things but I don't think everything that happens or doesn't happen is necessarily God's will. God can work all things out for good (Romans 8:28) but I don't think everything that happens, happens for a reason.

The devil prowls about the world seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8). He would love to rob us of our inheritance if we let him. We need to stay awake and be proactive in our faith! It may seem like an oxymoron but we are also called to rest. When we proactively lean back and rest in the Lord and seek his will, he goes before us and he fights for us!

Monday, July 4, 2016

Parting of the Red Sea

I might be premature in writing this blog post as I know there are going to be more miracles to tell and probably more obstacles to overcome but I know things are just going to get busier and I can't wait to share about God's goodness and faithfulness! 

This 4th of July weekend we are in Indianapolis looking for a house. It has not been easy! We are trying to stay under budget because we want to be able to do fun things and not just pay a mortgage. That seems to be the trend now days too as some people are buying tiny houses because they no longer want to be slaves to their stuff and paying out the wazoo for a mortgage.

Anyway, like I said, it has not been easy!!! We thought we were either going to have to settle for a 3 bedroom, 1200 sq. ft. house or a severe fixer upper! We also thought we would have to be 20 to 30 minutes from the church where Tom is going to work. Finally, on the third day (like the Resurrection), we found something decent that happens to also be a foreclosure (which is making it more affordable) and only 10 minutes from the church! It is probably a good thing that it is the last house we saw because if I had seen it first, I may have not been open to. It is really close to the neighbors! We arrived however before our realtor and one of the neighbors happened to be out. She was a young mom with a couple kids. She was really nice and I could see myself being friends with her and our kids being friends as well! I was really hoping I would like the house! We walked in and it didn't smell, so that was a good thing! It also had high ceilings which made it feel bigger even though it was only 1800 sq. ft. It also has 4 bedrooms and an upstairs loft!  The back yard is nice and fenced in and beyond the yard a walking trail that leads to a big community playground! The kids are going to love it! The only thing it needs is new flooring because it currently has green carpet throughout the house.

It will still be an adjustment I'm sure! When we get back to Florida, we will probably have to have a big garage sale to sell a lot of our stuff as we will be going from a 2600 sq. ft. house to an 1800 sq. ft. house but I am excited about it and didn't feel like I had to settle too much.

On the selling end, things are going well too. On Friday, while we were away looking at houses, the inspection was taking place on our house. All 6 of our kids and our dog were in the house. They wanted to at least walk to the ice-cream shop down the road while the inspector and buyers were in the house but it ended up raining. It worked out though and my older daughters said the buyers were really nice, seemed pretty laid back and really like and want our house! It also turns out that they are Christian and even prayed with my kids before they left! It makes me think about how while fixing up and renovating it, I imagined Jesus preparing the house for somebody. He definitely was and I look forward to sharing that with them!

Anyway, things are happening quickly and smoothly. We can't believe it has only been 6 weeks since Tom was offered the job! There have been some things that we thought were going to be big obstacles but they are turning out to be non-issues. He is definitely parting the red sea and we are seeing miracles! I'll have to share more in detail about them later, when everything is complete and we are moved into our new house.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Becoming Poor to Serve the Rich

Yep, that's pretty much what we are doing but I'm okay with that! You see, for the last couple years, it has seemed as if the grace was lifting for us to stay in Central Florida and my husband to stay at his job. Life has been difficult and like we were trying to row upstream. That was my first clue that maybe God was moving us on. We have been pressing in and seeking God's will for our lives. We knew there had to be more than the hamster wheel that we were on. Finally after much heartache and disappointment, a job came along that seems to be the perfect fit for Tom. He will be the new Director of Adult Faith Formation at a parish in Carmel, Indiana. They also like that we have a vision of doing ministry together.

In the natural, nothing seems logical about this move! It is a big leap of faith. Even though it pays better than most ministry jobs we have come across, it will still be a pretty big pay cut for us. The cost of living in that area is pretty high too. So far we haven't seen any houses within 10 miles of the church in our new price range. 

We are choosing to trust and believe that God is preparing a place for us. I also think the right attitude to have is that we will be like missionaries. Blessed Mother Theresa of Calcutta said that there is a greater poverty among the rich. Spiritual poverty is in some ways worse than material poverty.

I must confess that I had the right attitude until our realtor recommended some major remodeling and upgrades on our current home. She said we would sell it faster and receive a bigger return if we upgraded. This is something I have been wanting to do since we moved into the house seven years ago, especially the kitchen. 

At first I was pretty emotional as we started remodeling. I was jealous that someone else was going to be able to enjoy our beautiful upgraded home while we weren't even sure if we would be able to find something decent up there. 

I began to realize that I had a selfish attitude. I began to change the way I was praying. Instead of just praying that our house would sell fast, I began thanking the Lord that he was preparing our house for someone. I began praying that they would be blessed and for their benefit, find it quickly. I also began putting myself in Jesus' shoes as I have been painting and fixing up the house. I have been imagining Jesus as a carpenter, aware of who is going to be receiving the works of his hands and paying close attention to detail and what he knows the people will like. Also, not cutting corners or sparing expense. 

You see, Jesus holds nothing back from us! He gives all of himself! He gave his very life and continues to give himself to us in the Eucharist! We are called to be like Jesus and not hold back as well! 

He has an extravagant love for us and desires to lavish us with his grace and mercy! He has good gifts for his children! I believe he is preparing our house for someone and he is in the process of preparing a house for us!

I am convinced more and more that the troubles we experience in this life are stemmed from us not being able to fully surrender and entrust ourselves to God. With the fall of Adam and Eve, we lost our ability to lean back and rest in the arms of the Father. In Genesis 3 it says the woman's pains in childbirth will be greatly increased. People often see this as God punishing the woman. If we look at God's heart in the matter however, I think he wept and just merely stated the consequences of what was going to happen. 

If you are a woman and have had a natural birth, you know that the pain is worse when you tense up and try to resist. When you can let go and surrender to the process, it is less painful and happens more quickly. 

That is the same in life. No matter what our circumstances, if we can lean back, rest and surrender to God's plans, we will have a lot more peace and things will go much smoother.

For too many years, I think Tom and I have been walking against the wind in a desert. The sand has been blowing in our faces, making it impossible to see. It can feel scary to not be in control but I look forward to the wind of his Spirit carrying us where he wants us to go and what he wants us to do instead of us resisting. There is a freedom and lightness in that! I look forward to this new adventure and season in life!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Be a Conduit!

When I was in college, there was a grad student on campus that radiated joy. She dressed simply and didn't wear makeup but she stood out because of her joy. One day I went up to her and asked her what her secret was and how she found so much joy. She gave me a rather simple answer as she replied, "It is the cross!" That has given me something to ponder in the last twenty something years.

I have come to realize that for the believer who is rooted and grounded in the cross of Jesus everything is gain. If everything works out for us and we have abundance, we can rejoice and join our joy to Jesus. If we suffer, that is also gain because we can join our sufferings to the sufferings of Christ and grow in intimacy with him.

A couple years ago I heard a priest say something in his sermon that gave me a new understanding about the Eucharist. He said that when we receive the Eucharist, we have the opportunity to be like St. Thomas and touch the wounds of Christ. Not only that, but we can join our wounds to his wounds!

Since then I have tried doing that at every Mass; I think about the sufferings, misunderstandings, and disappointments from the previous week that I may have endured. I then think about Jesus' wounds and I join my suffering to his. I usually end up crying every time I receive him.  

People probably think something is wrong with me but that's okay because the intimacy with Christ and joy I end up experiencing is overwhelming! 

There is a fountain of mercy that flows from Jesus' wounded side and other wounds that I suspect is seldom tapped into! Tapping into this gift however can help us to then be a conduit and channel of his grace to others. 

Everything is win, win for the believer! When you know this truth fear has no hold on you and  nothing can rob you of joy! People will be attracted to that!
James 1:2 - Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy! 

Friday, April 29, 2016

Interpreting the Times

Matthew 16:2-3 - He (Jesus) answered them, "When it is evening, you say, 'It will be fair weather; for the sky is red.' And in the morning, 'It will be stormy today, for the sky is red and threatening.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but  you cannot interpret the signs of the times." 

Last week I had a dream. In my dream I was having a very intense confrontation with Satan. It was bearable however because in my dream, I knew that Satan's time was coming to an end and his days were numbered! 

He knows his days are numbered as well! It should not surprise us then that he is reeking havoc in the world! As his reign is getting closer to being over, there are going to be more and more manifestations of evil. Also manifestations of evil will be more manifest as the reign of God becomes more apparent.

Another thing that happened last week, on April 21st to be exact, is Prince died. He was a Pop icon from the 80's. I was personally into him when I was a teenager. His music happened to lead me down a very dark road. There is a good chance he could have come to know the Lord before he died. I do not know anything about that but I think in a prophetic sense, he symbolized a worldly spirit and the Prince of this world. Again, the Prince of this world is coming to an end!

In prayer recently, I also saw an image of the Statue of Liberty with the torch of fire in her hand. I felt like the Lord said, "True liberty comes through fire!" 

This word was for our nation. However, whenever I receive a word for the nation or the world, I get the privilege (sarcasm) of experiencing it first. That is even one way we can discern the signs of the times; what is happening in our own life? If we are living for the Lord, we are prophetic people and what is going on in our life can reflect what is going to happen, in a sense in the world. 

For me, the spiritual warfare lately and God's purifying fire has been rather intense! I am definitely being stretched to the max! There have been blatant manifestations of evil and major testings of my faith!

I have a suspicion that 2017 is going to be an interesting year for our nation and the world! May 13th, 2017 is also the 100th anniversary of Our Lady appearing to the three little shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal. 

These are uncertain but also exciting times! We are going to get to see things that people in the past longed to see! The Kingdom of God's reign is at hand and there will be great manifestations of His Spirit! His purifying love is going to consume our world! For those willing to receive it, this is great news! 

*Edited to add - I find it interesting that on May 13th of this year, also the anniversary of Our Lady of Fatima, Obama issued a mandate that all public schools need to allow their bathrooms and locker rooms to be gender neutral. I can't help but think of the above quote by Sr. Lucia (one of the Fatima children) concerning the last battle.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

What's Up With Essential Oils?

I am going to venture away from my normal type of topic to share something that has been very providential in my life. First let me say that I am one to steer away from trends. I've always been like that, even as a teenager. If certain designer jeans were in, I would wear an off brand. If all the other girls had long, fancy finger nails, I would cut mine short. Even as an adult, when all my friends had the latest smart phone, I stuck with and was happy with my flip phone as long as it still worked. Who knows, maybe it is the rebellious side of me.

Anyway, when a lot of the women around me started getting into essential oils, I steered clear. Just a year ago I thought it was just another trend and just about aromatherapy. I really wasn't open minded about them until I was in a desperate state. You see, I had an infection in my elbow. It was located in the bursa which is a very difficult area to treat. I was on multiple and very strong antibiotics. My elbow was very swollen and hung down by a couple inches. Despite all the antibiotics, I wasn't getting better. I continued to run a fever and it was starting to hurt in the bone. A friend of mine gave me some essential oils to take internally and some to apply topically. Immediately I began to see results. I stopped running a fever and the pain in the bone went away. The swelling also went down until my elbow was back to normal.

Since then I have discovered many more ways essential oils could help my family. For starters, I used to need sleeping pills every night to get a good night sleep. Well, they started to build up in my system and were causing heart palpitations and dizziness. I stopped them cold turkey and for two nights I literally did not sleep. 

Fortunately my friend knew about an essential oil blend that could help me. I started diffusing it by my bed every night and ever since I sleep well most nights. It's funny because my husband used to be a skeptic but after I was diffusing the sleep blend every night, he realized it was also helping him get a better night sleep.

I have also found essential oils to help with a daughter that has severe anxiety. If I see her about to have an anxiety attack, I have her breath in a particular oil and then she is able to calm down. I shared this with her Psychologist and he wasn't surprised and told me to keep using it.

Another one of my daughters has Dyslexia and ADHD. I homeschool her which has been very difficult to say the least! She has a really hard time focusing and therefore it is hard for her to learn. I found an oil to help her focus and it makes a world of difference. Because she is able to focus better, she is able to start learning to read whereas before she struggled to learn her letters. It is really noticeable the mornings I forget to put it on her. As soon as I realize it, I put it on her and then she is able to focus.

Other ways they have helped our family are by preventing illnesses, shortening illnesses, helping with stomach upset, allergies, muscle aches, insect bites, wasp stings, insect repellent, scrapes and coughs to name a few.

What really makes me feel good is that we are no longer putting harmful chemicals into our bodies. Essential oils are all natural and part of God's creation. They are taken from the seed, bark, stems, roots, flower and other parts of the plant. They are also taken from parts of the plant that helps heal the plant and helps it to thrive. So, it makes sense that they could help us as well! Many medications are actually a synthetic version of these. 

If you would be interested in knowing more about essential oils, please contact me. I would be happy to share with you and even give you some samples to try!

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Sometimes You Need To Go Down Before You Can Go Up

Sometimes in the spiritual life it can seem as if we are going backwards and almost moving away from God instead of growing closer to him. When you read about the lives of the Saints, they often experienced the "Dark Night of the Soul". Some of them even questioned their own salvation during those times.

Yesterday was Holy Saturday and I was thinking about Jesus descending into hell and the abode of the dead. I think, in a sense he allowed me to visit that place this Lent as well.

Lent didn't go the way I had desired or planned. I wasn't always faithful to my Lenten promises to read my bible and pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day. God in his sovereignty however had his way with me. 

Instead of being able to do lots of Pius acts, I dealt with one sickness after another with myself and my children. That was normal life however and not too difficult to handle. What proved to be very challenging though was not knowing how to parent one of my children who suffers from extreme sensitivity and anxiety.

I have been crying out to the Lord for a long time to help me be a better mother. For whatever reason, my own mom wasn't able to nurture or show much affection towards me unless I was sick. She was a nurse, so she knew how to take care of sick people. Needless to say, that can create a little bit of dysfunction.

So, knowing how to be a nurturing, affectionate mother hasn't always come naturally for me.

Sometimes it is through the extreme circumstances that we learn things. Kind of like when you are pushed out of an airplane with a parachute on. Hopefully, you will figure out how to pull the parachute so you can fly instead of die. Likewise, sometimes you need to descend into the depths of hell before you can rise and overcome.

This Lent I faced the accuser. He spewed hateful, vile and hurtful things at me. There were situations that made me want to pluck my eyes out. It probably would have been less painful! In the midst of it all, I had to learn how not to react and eventually rise above it.

It was through the confessional one day, I was told I needed to see myself as holy. I was told as my penance to pray the Magnificat. 
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord! My spirit exalts in God my Savior! For he has looked with favor on his lowly servant, all generations shall call me blessed!...
I have read that scripture many times but I always just saw it as Mary's prayer. I never saw that I could claim it for myself. Well, after it was given to me as my penance and in light of the priest telling me I needed to see that I was holy, I began to see that I could claim this prayer for myself. I began to hold my head up high and face my accuser. The joy it gave me is indescribable! 

Yes, MY soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord!...

Since then, the grace has been there with my children and especially the one that suffers from anxiety. There has still been difficult situations but I have not gotten frustrated. Instead an abundance of patience and kindness has been there.

So, going back to what I said in the beginning, sometimes you have to go down before you can go up but then once you go back up, you end up in a higher place if you persevere and don't give up. We are only as virtuous as we are in the worst of circumstances. Difficulties can often show us what we are made of. Sometimes it is the worst of circumstances that can end up bringing out the best in us. 

This Easter, let us rejoice that through the power of the cross and Resurrection of Jesus, we can overcome!