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!

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Some Thoughts on Redemptive Suffering

Probably many of you by now have experienced first hand that we are in the thick of cold and flu season. I got sick two weeks ago and am still struggling to get over it. It has caused me to think again about the subject of suffering. When I am sick, it is very difficult to spend much time in prayer but I find that if I at least make a small effort to join my sufferings to Christ, I am almost effortlessly drawn closer to him and come to a place where I am able to receive greater revelation than before. In that sense, it seems to be the fastest and easiest way to grow in my relationship with him. It seems to accomplish more than many hours spent in prayer when not sick. That does not mean I enjoy being sick but it does bring me joy when the sickness is redeemed through the Cross and Satan doesn't get the last word! St. John Paul II said that we shouldn't let any small suffering go to waste!

Speaking of redemption, I went back and read part of Genesis recently and the Gospel of Luke. I had a neat revelation through it!

In Genesis 3:17, God says to Adam, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life..." 

Luke 1:39 talks about Mary visiting Elizabeth and when Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary, John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth's womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.

So, it would seem through this that another thing that was redeemed by Mary's Fiat, her yes and the incarnation of Jesus is the voice of women! How cool is that!

Oh, and has anyone else wondered why in Genesis, after "the fall" it says that the pains of childbirth will be greatly increased? I have a theory...could it be because after "the fall" we lost our ability to trust and surrender? In real, natural childbirth, the pain is greater when the woman tenses up instead of just going with and surrendering to it. In the same way, I think painful emotional, spiritual and physical events in life are more painful when we resist or try to deal with them on our own. From my own experience, painful events have become moments of great joy when I was finally able to join them to the cross of Christ. There is nothing that Jesus can not redeem!!!

Monday, December 28, 2015

Just Adore!

The pressure has been mounting the last several months and has been rather intense as it has been building. It has come in the form of a husband having a very stressful job that takes him away from us fourteen hours most days, trying to homeschool a child with learning disabilities, another with mental health issues, and dealing with a body that is in constant pain. At the same time wondering about the desires and promises God has placed on our heart. Wondering if and when we will see them be fulfilled.

Everything is finally coming to a head; the damn is bursting. God is using these stressful situations to tenderize my heart. He is breaking through layers of unbelief, fear and doubt; hopefully enabling me to better love him and others.

The enemy is right there too, taking advantage of my vulnerabilities and feeding me lies. Telling me I am a failure, irrelevant, too old and being passed over. After all, I can't even manage my own household, how could I lead souls to Christ?! I am trying to discern and fight off the lies but often feel defeated.

I look at my young adult daughters who have their whole lives ahead of them and are full of dreams. I am reminded that I used to have dreams too. It makes me wonder if I took too many detours and too many wrong turns and now it is too late.

And then I am brought back to reality and realize I am buying into the lies of the enemy.

This Advent reminded me that it is okay to just be. It is okay to wait and it is okay to just adore! Small things and small beginnings should not be despised! God always comes through! He is always faithful to his promises! He can always redeem!