Friday, April 28, 2017

Mindsets are Powerful but Mercy is More Powerful!

So, I have 6 kids - not because I have good pregnancies, but because Tom and I believed that to be God's will for our life. I actually had very horrible pregnancies! I would have 24 hour a day nausea, gestational diabetes, and preterm labor, to name a few distressing side effects. The worst side effects being the strong contractions and preterm labor that would go on for months! The pressure was so great at times, it was hard to walk; I felt my babies were going to fall out of me!

When we were engaged, before we got married, the Lord showed me a baby boy we would have someday. Well, I kept having baby girls. I love baby girls and would have been just fine to just have girls, but I believed God promised us a boy and so I wanted to see God's promise fulfilled. 

After our 5th baby girl was born, I went to see a priest. I told him how I believed God promised us a boy but I had 5 girls and wasn't sure my body could handle having another baby. He then asked me a question that caught me off guard. He asked if I had ever considered an abortion. What?! "NO!", I said emphatically.

I left the confessional with the priest and reflected on what he had said. I realized it was very plausible that in my teenage, pagan days, there was a very likely chance that I had the attitude- if I get pregnant, I can just abort. After realizing, I may have had that heart attitude, I repented to the Lord.

Tom and I became open to having another baby. I got pregnant and ended up miscarrying at 9 weeks. I offered that baby to the Lord and felt like that offering was like a mustard seed that Jesus talked about in Matthew 17. I felt, mysteriously and supernaturally, that offering was going to produce abundant faith and fruit in my own heart and life.

Two months later I got pregnant again. At 20 weeks, to our great delight, we were told we were having a healthy baby boy! Amazingly, I didn't experience any strong contractions before it was time to have him. This is the first of all my pregnancies that I didn't experience that! 

I really believe, not experiencing preterm contractions and pressure with my last baby was because I repented of having an abortion mindset. I never had an abortion but Jesus said, having anger in our heart is the same as murder (Matthew 5). In my case, having a heart attitude of abortion was the same as having an abortion. That attitude was also manifesting itself physically, as my body was trying to reject my pregnancies.

What I really find moving, is that I didn't need to jump through hoops to receive mercy or healing! All I had to do was repent! Once I repented, Jesus was able to come in and bring healing!

This past Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday. It is a feast day based on the revelations of Saint Faustina. She had a vision of Jesus with rays of mercy flowing out of his heart.

God's mercy is bottomless! When we encounter his mercy, we are filled with joy! It is the joy of the Lord that gives us strength (Nehemiah 8)!

And I will leave you with this to chew and meditate on:
Habakkuk 3 - His brightness shall be like light itself, rays shining from his hands - there is strength hidden...But I will rejoice in the Lord, take joy in God my savior. He will make me as sure-footed as the deer. He will lead me up to the heights.
May you encounter Christ's bottomless mercy in your own life today! His mercy is new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23)!!! 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Receiving the Gift of God

Okay, I'm going to ask a personal question: Are there sins you continue to struggle with over and over again? Do you get discouraged because you just can't seem to overcome them?

The root cause of our addictive heart and our struggles is that we don't understand the gift of God; we don't understand that we are His Beloved; we don't understand His bottomless mercy or His love! Therefore, we turn to stagnant water that does not satisfy instead of springs of living water that only God can give.

A couple weeks ago, the Gospel reading was about the woman at the well (John 4). That story wasn't just about that woman. This past Sunday the Gospel was about the raising of Lazarus (John 11). Again, that story isn't just about Lazarus, it is about us!

Like the woman at the well, we also have a tendency to run to wells that will run dry and never fully satisfy. Like Lazarus' body was bound, our souls are often bound by sin. Our eyes are bandaged and prevent us from seeing.

We don't see the gift of God that is available to us (John 4:10).

The problem with sin is that when we choose it, we become less of who we were meant to be. We become less human and less like Christ; we are left feeling sad and incomplete.

We are called to give it all; give our whole lives! We are left feeling sad when we give less of ourselves and settle for temporal pleasures. Just look at the story of the man who asked Jesus what more he could do to acquire eternal life: Jesus told him to go sell all he had and come follow him. The man couldn't do it and was left feeling sad (Mark 10:21-22). Money and material possessions was the vice of this man.

There is nothing we could give up that God would not bless us with 100 fold (Mark 10:31)!

If we recognized that we are the Beloved of God; the Bride of Christ, we would also expect daily bread. His daily bread is every word that comes from His mouth (Matthew 4:4) and is also available in Holy Communion (John 6:35). Let us taste and see that God is good (Psalm 34:8)! We can seek an encounter with him daily (Matthew 6:9)! He desires to speak to us daily! Nothing else will truly make us happy and fulfilled like encountering him daily! May our eyes become unbound so we see His workings in our daily life! He is the eternal Word! He is always speaking; He speaks through His creation; He speaks through other people and situations; He speaks through Holy Scripture; And yes, he speaks directly to our heart!


Let us have ears to hear and eyes to see! Let us daily drink from Springs of Living water that will never run dry and will fulfill our restless hearts!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Core Fact

So, if you have been following my blog for any length of time, you have probably figured out that I like analogies. It is also the way God gets my attention and speaks to me.

I believe the Lord gave me an analogy that some people reading this blog post may need to hear. I share it in order to encourage you in your walk with the Lord.

You may especially need to be encouraged during times like Lent when you are fasting and trying to draw closer to the Lord. It can almost feel as if you are going backwards instead of forward. Be encouraged however and don't trust your feelings; you are probably closer to Him than you think!

Imagine your soul is like a body of water and Jesus is an anchor. We are called to allow this anchor to go deep into our soul. The way to do this is through fasting and prayer. As we fast, pray and draw closer, eventually this anchor is going to hit bottom. When the anchor hits bottom or the depth of our soul, it stirs up all kinds of muck. It can even uncover creatures like crabs and such. The crabs don't like to be uncovered and brought into the light so they may try to pinch and attack.

If you will persevere, find a quiet retreat in your soul to commune with God, the light of his face will cause the enemy to flee and the mucky water to become clear again!

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Let's Find Our Way Back!

Recently I watched the new Disney animated movie, Moana. The Producers spent 5 years researching and visiting the islands in the South Pacific before making the movie. In doing so, they were able to get acquainted with Polynesian culture. Under the special features section of the Moana DVD, one can learn about the culture as well. 

While I was watching the "making of the movie", it occurred to me just how far we have strayed from the way God originally intended the world to be.

On these little islands in the South Pacific, the people have held onto their cultural heritage. They have handed down their traditions and history through stories passed onto their children. They also have a real sense of family and community. They even help raise one another's children, considering everyone in the village, family and they share everything they have with one another. One thing that struck the directors was the sincerity and friendliness of the teenagers that lived there.

Along with respect for people, the Polynesian culture has a great respect for the land and ocean. They live off the land, using all the natural resources available to them. They have the mindset that the land owns them, they don't own the land. Their faith is also a big part of who they are and worship with their community is very important to them.

Another thing that is interesting about them is, despite modern technologies, they have stuck with their own way of doing things that has worked for them. For example, many still rely on the stars as a way of navigation instead of GPS.

It occurred to me while watching the movie that in this day and age, with the technology we have, we are able to connect with people all around the world but we are no longer connecting with our own family, neighbors or community. Modern technology has become our Tower of Babel. With technology we have attempted to become like God apart from God and have failed to recognize God in our neighbor and working within nature. We've become out of touch and blind as we have sought bigger and better advancements; no longer seeing Him in the details of everyday life.

It all started in the Garden of Eden. Man chose knowledge over Wisdom and Life. True Wisdom and Life can only be found in God. We wanted to become our own little god instead of eating from the source of Life to become like the one true God. We thought we could attain perfection by gaining more and more knowledge but instead it has caused us to become less of who we were made to be and whom we were made for. We have strayed farther from our roots, our true identity, our heritage. We have strayed far away from the way life was meant to be lived.

Although it doesn't sound half bad, I don't think the answer is to sail off to a little island and start a community. In Christ there is hope! Jesus can redeem anything! Through the cross of Christ we have the opportunity to once again eat from the Tree of Life and become like Him! We can put Jesus first instead of being distracted by the latest technology. We can begin connecting and reaching out to our neighbor and those around us. In Christ we can live life to the fullest, build community and be an example to others of the joy that comes from following Him!

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

It's Not Too Late!

We are almost a week into this Lenten season. How is your Lent going so far? Are you keeping your Lenten promises? Are you drawing closer to the Lord?

A good thing to keep in mind is that God desires our hearts, not our sacrifices just for the sake of sacrifice (Matt. 9:15; 1 Sam. 15:22; Hosea 6:6; Psalm 51:16)!

If you want the best Lent ever, think of those things that distract you from drawing close to the Lord; those things that hinder your walk with him and prevent you from receiving all of his love for you! Then refrain from those things. It's not too late! We still have 34 more days!

Joel 2:12-13 Come back to me with all your heart, fasting, weeping, mourning. Let your hearts be broken, not your garments torn, turn to the Lord your God again, for he is all tenderness and compassion, slow to anger, rich in graciousness, and ready to relent.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Desolation Dog

Lent starts in just a few days. The first day is Wednesday, March 1st. If you are looking to grow deeper in your faith this Lent, you might want to consider reading the book, Discernment of Spirits  by Fr.Timothy Gallagher. It is based on the rules of discernment by St. Ignatius of Loyola.

The rule I personally found most helpful and one of the hardest to follow is rule number 5. Rule number 5 advises that you do not make a change during times of spiritual desolation.

The best thing to do in times of desolation is to wait upon the Lord, sit in his presence and allow Him to do a purifying work. That is so hard to do especially during times of desolation when we don't feel his presence! It is very difficult to sit still and wrestle with our own thoughts, weaknesses and sin. It is easier and feels more natural to run to idols or distractions.

We all have our own vices and means we use to distract ourselves. My personal weakness has been cute little furry animals. During times of desolation I have fallen into the temptation of adopting them (this is not a temptation or a sin if you aren't trying to fill a longing in your heart with it). The only problem is they don't always stay little and cute. They have also not always worked out for our family and we have had to find some of them new homes.

We currently have a desolation dog. I got her as a cute little puppy, two years ago, during a dry period in my spiritual life; reasoning that our kids needed the experience of having a pet, specifically a puppy. The only problem is now she is an adult dog who barks at anything that moves 25 yards from our house and she nips at kids. We can not bring her around other people, especially little children.

Hindsight, I should have sat with the Lord in the uncomfortable dryness instead of trying to fill that emptiness in my heart with a furry creature. I should have turned to the Creator instead of one of his creatures.

Failing to wait for God's best is nothing new to God's people. The bible is full of stories of people who didn't always wait for His best. Even Abraham who had tremendous faith in God, decided to take matters in his own hands when he took Sarah's handmaid, Hagar in an attempt to fulfill God's promise for a child. Ishmael was the result.

A couple of blog posts ago, I wrote a blog post entitled Rerouting, I talked about how God doesn't just have a plan "A" for us. If we mess up plan "A", he will give us plan "B" and so on.

It isn't too late however for us to resolve to wait upon the Lord and receive his best! We can choose His plan "A" for today!

What distractions are you tempted to run to when faced with dryness in your soul? This Lent let us resolve to let go of idols and distractions. Let us sit at the Lord's feet and allow Him to do a purifying work in us so we can grow closer to Him. Let us become more aware of his merciful love for us and that we are his beloved!


Friday, February 24, 2017

Who is My Neighbor?

This past weekend, the first Mass reading was from Leviticus 19 which talks about loving your neighbor as yourself. The Gospel reading was from Matthew 5 and was about not only loving your neighbor but also your enemy.

I believe that we are asked to love our neighbor because sometimes our neighbor is the hardest to love. They can often annoy and frustrate us the most! Especially those neighbors who are rude, obnoxious and do not understand boundaries.  Often, if we can learn to love our neighbors, we can love anyone. Also, if we are not able to love our neighbor whom we can see, how can we love God whom we can not see (1John 4:20)?

It's interesting how people often do not make the connection and Christians pick and choose what bible verses they want to follow!

Currently, the person who bought out house in Florida and our previous neighbor are feuding. Ironically, they are both professing Christians. They are feuding over trees.

You see, our previous neighbor has huge trees that almost completely hang over the pool of our previous house. When we lived there, I did find the trees annoying and it was frustrating trying to keep the pool clean but I also understood that our neighbors didn't have the extra money to trim them and we didn't have the extra money to trim them so I tried to look at the positive side of things (at least I had a pool to clean leaves out of, it was much needed exercise that I wouldn't otherwise be disciplined enough to get, etc.). Also, as I cleaned the leaves out of the pool, dumping them in the trash can I kept nearby, I would offer the frustration of it as a prayer for others. Being able to offer that up as a prayer kept the peace in the neighborhood.

Well, it turns out that the new owners do not share the same sentiment. They have been scooping the leaves out of the pool and throwing them over the fence of the neighbors. Needless to say, that isn't going over so well with the neighbors and I am hearing about it as well as the rest of the neighborhood. Suddenly this peaceful neighborhood I once lived in, isn't so peaceful anymore.

Like I said before, both families are professing Christians. Now this is not a blog post about immigration but I find it ironic that my old neighbor is also very angry over the "immigration ban".

How can we love immigrants and foreigners if we can not even love our neighbor?!

No matter where we move to, there is always going to be THAT neighbor. We currently have THAT neighbor at our new home. She is a very grumpy, middle-aged woman whom doesn't seem to like life much. I keep being kind to her. Maybe eventually she will open up to me and I will find out why she is so miserable. If she doesn't though, I will keep loving her.

Even though loving our neighbor doesn't necessarily mean just the person next door, If we would all start there first, the world would probably be a lot more peaceful of a place.

I remember a story Mother Theresa once told of a Muslim woman whose family didn't have anything to eat and was starving. Mother Theresa gave her food for her family. The Muslim woman ended up giving half of the food to her neighbor. This Muslim woman proved to be a better Christian than most Christians!

If you are a Christian, Christianity isn't just a nice philosophy or idealistic notion! If we are true followers of Jesus, we are called not only to be kind but to lay our life down for others, pick up our cross and love even our enemies!






Monday, February 13, 2017

Rerouting...

This past summer, our family underwent a major life change! After living in sunny Central Florida for seventeen years, we moved to the Hoosier state. One of the most difficult challenges to living in a new place is navigating the area. This is especially hard for me because I have no sense of direction. I seem to be directionally impaired, which seems to be genetic and handed down to me by my father. We both even have a hard time getting out of parking lots and neighborhoods.

I am eternally grateful for GPS and Google Maps! I am not sure how people found their way around before these technological advances! Even with the help of Google Maps however, I still manage to get lost and turned around. Sometimes I misinterpret the map and where I am being told to turn. Somehow I always manage to head in the opposite direction of where I need to be.

Fortunately for me, the GPS gives me many chances. If I mess up and start going in the wrong direction, it will reroute and take me on a new path to get me where I need to go. It will do this limitless times for me.

God is the same way! We can often think that God has a Plan A and if we blow it, that's it! We think he will give up on us and we will never be able to be used by him. That isn't true however. God has a way of making straight our crooked paths. He is the God of second chances and limitless mercy! If we mess up our "Plan A", he will give us a "Plan B". If we mess up our "Plan B", he will give us Plan C and so on.

If we look at God's people in the bible, most of them did not follow his "Plan A". I think Mary, Jesus' mother was probably the only fully human person that followed "Plan A" (thank goodness!). Most of the others messed up. Abraham tried to make God's will happen according to his own understanding by being with Hagar, the handmaid of Sarah. King David had a child with Bathsheba and was responsible for the death of her husband. Peter denied Jesus and initially ran. I could go on and on. Mainly what they are known for however is their faithfulness, God's love for them and their willingness to repent and get back up.

I don't think we have a clue or can even begin to grasp and comprehend just how kind and merciful the Lord is! He has big plans for us and wants to use us! He also has our best interest at heart and wants to see us succeed! The key to hearing the re-routing directions and plans he has for us is to first be still, rest in him and listen. When the directions come, be ready to rely on his grace and obey!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Climbing the Mountain of the Lord

So, if you haven't figured out by now, I can be a little out there. It is funny because sometimes the Holy Spirit will lay something on my heart; I will feel compelled to write about it but then I will have this sinking feeling, like, "Oh, crap! What did I just do?! What are people going to think?!"

Often when insecure feelings sneak up on me like that and I care too much what others think, I know purification is needed and is probably the season I will be coming into. Those feelings are usually a symptom of a stronghold that is in my heart.

We can often think that the spiritual life and our journey to heaven is just a straight line but it is not. We are called to climb the mountain of the Lord.  This mountain however is not like other mountains. You can not just go straight up this mountain. The path on this mountain has dips and valleys. Every time you make a dip and take advantage of the valley, you go up a little higher when you come out of it and obtain greater freedom. I like to think of a spiral staircase that with each turn slopes down before it goes up. A staircase like this can not really be found because it isn't natural. No one would naturally choose to go down before they go up. Naturally, it isn't very practical and it would take longer. This is more of a supernatural concept. God's ways aren't always our ways!

There are ways to know if we are higher up on the mountain or in a valley. When we are higher, usually we feel good about ourselves, feel close to God and connected to others. When we are in a season of being in the valley or lower on the mountain, all kinds of dross can surface in our heart and can make us feel angst or restless. This dross needs to be skimmed off and purified. 
Some of the things that can surface in our heart when we are in a valley are anxieties, fears, lust, insecurities, anger, etc. When these things surface, it is usually a symptom of a deeper issue. It can signal a root or stronghold in our life. The temptation is to busy ourselves with distractions. It isn't always easy to sit with our own thoughts.

The best thing to do in the valley however is sit and be still at the Lord's feet. Silence is also imperative and fasting can also be very helpful.

Memories will often come to mind during this season as well. It is best not to push them under the rug and ignore them. Usually if memories surface, it is because they need to be dealt with and the Lord is bringing them to mind. Memories can reveal root causes and motives for our negative behavior and attitudes. Usually negative things that happen in our life can cause us to buy into lies about ourselves, those around us, and even God. If we are going to experience greater freedom, these lies need to be replaced with God's truth. You can only hear and receive this truth if you are humble enough to sit in an uncomfortable place and deal with self examination in light of the Lord's face. 

After dealing with unpleasant memories and strongholds, it is important to replace this empty space with God's love and his presence. This will also bring us out of the valley and into a higher place, closer to the Lord.

Psalm 24:3 - Who will climb the mountain of the Lord? Who will stand in his Holy place?

For more details regarding strongholds, here are a couple more blog posts I wrote on the subject:

Dealing with Strongholds


Jesus Wore Purple Knickers

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Writing is on the Wall

I probably do not need to make this statement because it has become rather obvious but there is a lot of civil unrest, anxiety and fear right now in our nation and in the world. Some of it is justified, some of it is not. 

The Writing is on the Wall! 

The definition of that statement originally came from the book of Daniel in the bible and means: There are clear signs that something unpleasant or unwelcome is about to happen. You can also read the story from Daniel 5 and draw your own conclusions.

Not to be the bearer of bad news but it's about to get even uglier out there!

The good news is that God is in control! He will use these times for his purposes and glory!

People are learning that you can not put your trust in man. Obama was not the answer. Trump is not the answer. Only Jesus is the answer!

If you are a Christian, it is your time to shine! Especially if you have been in a place of hiddenness and rest, receiving God's love for you and his transforming work. You are about to get your moment! As conditions worsen in the world, people are going to be looking for answers and are going to turn to the Church. You will have the opportunity to point people to the Way!

Now is not the time for confrontation or heated arguments. It is not the time to blame or vilify. 

It is the time however to show the world what true, sacrificial love looks like! Hold on, trust and keep your eyes on Jesus. It might be a wild ride!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

What the World Needs Now

Often we are forced to take sides. As fragmented humans we have a tendency toward extremes and society often forces us to extremes. We can think that things are either/or when it is really both/and or neither. Also the truth is usually found somewhere in the middle.

However, it is thought that if we are not on one side of an issue or political party, well, we must be on the other. If we don't agree with something one political party stands for, then we must agree with everything the other stands for.

If we don't agree with certain behaviors, well, we must not love a person engaged in that behavior. 


The same holds true in Christian circles because we are still sinners, trying to figure this all out. 


I love the scripture from Hebrews 4:16! It says, we can approach the throne of grace with all confidence!


I have noticed a tendency however for Christians to water down the Gospel message in order to feel worthy to approach the glory of God and the throne of his grace.They think it is either/or. They also think the Gospel message needs to be watered down in order to reach people with Christ's love even though real love is rooted and grounded in truth; in the cross. If it isn't, then it isn't real love.


The other extreme is to realize the greatness of God but put up walls out of a feeling of unworthiness to approach him, as well as condemn and judge others whom they feel are falling short.


Both sides and attitudes miss the mark!


This is a situation where it is both/and! God is Great, Glorious, and Holy but we can still approach him in all his awesomeness, in all our sinfulness and receive his infinite love and mercy! It is a free gift!


How do we get to this place of both/and? We approach God, in all his Glorious Sacredness, recognizing our sinfulness and we sit, surrender, and rest in his extravagant love for us! We let him pour the oil of his mercy and love over us and transform us from the inside out! Then we go out and show others this kind of radical, sacrificial, extravagant love! A love that is sacrificial loves without compromise; a love that is willing to sit with someone in their pain and their struggles! A love that hurts! A love that doesn't back down! A love that recognizes the dignity of every human being made in the image and likeness of God! If this kind of love is received, it encourages people to come up higher instead of choosing the easy way out!


This is what the world needs!!!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Will the Real Women's Movement Please Stand Up?!

It has been a while since I have blogged. Not because I haven't had anything to say but more because I have had too much to say concerning various topics and trying to organize my thoughts and focus on just one topic seemed too hard and time consuming!

There have been lots of changes in our household! Two of my daughters are now going to the Catholic school connected to our parish. They were previously homeschooled. The Lord often calls us to persevere through hard circumstances but when he is in it, there is usually an underlying peace and joy. If something feels like drudgery and against the current, I think we need to question and re-evaluate whether we are in God's will. That is ultimately what caused my husband to leave his insurance job and for us to end up in Indiana. That is also what led me to start sending my kids to school instead of homeschooling. It has been a big transition but I think it will be really good for them. I also feel a weight lifted off my shoulders! I am still homeschooling one of my daughters who has some learning difficulties and I feel good about that. She benefits more from one on one interaction than she would in a classroom setting.

On another topic, the women's march this past weekend got me thinking and remembering. About 7 years ago, the Lord started speaking to me about a women's movement that he was going to raise up. I do not believe this feminist, pro-abortion women's movement is it. Why do I think this? Well, because it seems to be vulgar, self-serving, self-promoting, exclusive and does not allow pro-life women to be a part of it.

Then I got to thinking and praying about what a true women's movement, led by the Holy Spirit would look like. I believe it would be just the opposite. The devil must sense something is about to spring up. He loves to copy and counterfeit. Everything that God has, Satan has a counterfeit for. There is even a counterfeit for all the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit.

There is false love, peace, joy, etc... True love is sacrificial, just look at the cross for an example! True love is also rooted in truth. True peace surpasses all understanding! True joy isn't just a feeling of happiness but a euphoria that comes from being in the will of God despite external circumstances!

A true women's movement led by the Holy Spirit would not be self-serving, 'my body, my choice' but would be concerned about and respect the rights and dignity of all women from womb to the tomb. A true women's movement would be concerned about human rights abuses, human trafficking, pornography because it objectifies women, and sex-selection abortions that has killed millions of baby girls around the world, especially in China and India. I believe a true women's movement would also celebrate the beauty and femininity of women as God created them!

Okay, off my soap box but praying that the real women's movement will rise up and show the world what real women and sacrificial, Christ-like love looks like!

*Edited to add - I just would like to clarify that I do not think women who participated in the Women's March are evil. I know some really good women with good hearts that went to the march. Their intentions were pure and reasonable. I also admire the courageous pro-life groups who went even though they were spat upon, charged and pushed to the ground. I think it is good that they were a presence there. My take on the March however is it fell short and missed the mark, and did not represent all women.