Wednesday, October 10, 2018

It's Not All About You and Peace is Not Always a Feeling!

We are moving in six days and I should be packing but there are some things on my heart that I need to put into writing.

We've been wanting to move closer to our church where Tom works and our kids go to school for the last two years that we have lived here. We currently live 25 to 30 minutes away because the town we are in is more affordable on a ministry salary. The commute however has been getting old! 

We finally found a house semi-affordable that is only 10 minutes away from the church. I'll be honest though, it does not have everything that I want. It only has 3 bedrooms and 1 1/2 baths. I will be losing a master bathroom and walk in closet. I had a chat with the Lord about this and do you know what scripture he gave me? 

Philippians 4:11-13 where Paul says:

  I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.  I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Don't get me wrong. I like everything else about the house or I wouldn't be buying it. The Lord knows I like older homes with hardwood floors and homes that are wide open and bright and it has those things. What this is showing me however is it isn't always all about us and everything we want.

When I asked the Lord what was on his heart, he showed me how excited he is to show up through us to this neighborhood! He also confirmed to us that this is where he wants us. The way he did that is through one of my daughters. She came up to me one day before we started looking at houses and told me some numbers kept coming to her mind. I told her to write the numbers in her journal and pray about it because it might mean something.

Well, we started looking at houses and at first we had a hard time finding a house in our price range that would meet our families' needs. We finally found the house. We came home and considered making an offer. I then remembered how numbers were coming to my daughter. I asked her to get her journal. Sure enough, they were the same numbers as the address of the house! The Lord is so good and kind to me that way! Sometimes I need those confirmations in order to have peace.

Speaking of peace, people often think peace is about a feeling. The feeling of peace however should not always be the barometer that tells us which way to go or what to do. If that is our barometer, it can be deceptive; the feeling of peace can be counterfeited. Heck, I actually know people who have left their spouse because they "felt" peace about it.

If I were to be honest, I am a little nervous about moving. We are moving close to downtown and some of the streets close by are a little sketch. I am a little nervous about what the neighbors are like. I am nervous because the house we are moving from is newer and doesn't need any work done to it. The house we are moving to is older and needs a little TLC. Even though I am a little nervous, I still have a sense of calm knowing that this is God's will for us right now.

True peace is when you have a sense of calm even though storms are swirling around you and everything in the natural says you should be anxious. True peace comes when you know you are in God's will even though the external circumstances may look negative.

Taking Jesus as an example, I'm sure he did not "feel" peace about the cross. In fact, we know he was quite troubled and even sweat blood over the thought of it the night before. However, he probably still had a sense of calm knowing he was doing the Father's will.

True peace is a gift and not something we can conjure up on our own. True peace surpasses all understanding - Philippians 4:7.

I hope I can always fix my eyes on the cross of Christ and be more attentive to how He feels and what is on His heart than what my own natural desires are! After all, His desires are more eternal!

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

What Does the Future Hold for the Church?

What to say? With each new revelation that has come to light in the Catholic Church since this past June, I have been sent into an emotional tail spin. It is all rather horrifying and almost unbelievable that these things have been going on and others have been covering them up.

I am glad these things are finally coming into the light. How grievious it must have been for our Lord when he was the only one that knew about these things and they were allowed to continue.

So, I decided to go back and read some of my past journals to see if the Lord had been saying anything regarding all this. One thing I found was a scripture the Lord gave me more than once. He also gave it to me the beginning of the year when I asked him what the year was going to be like. The scripture is:

Matthew 3:12 - "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and He will thoroughly clear his threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat in to the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."  

Recently when I was praying about all this, I believe the Lord showed me that the shaking has just begun. We are just at the beginning stages.

I have no plans to leave the Catholic Church. This is where I am called and Jesus is there. I cannot leave him. Also, Tom and I witnessed that the grass is not greener on the other side. Besides, the shaking might have started with the Catholic Church but it is not going to stop there. Protestants and then the world are also going to experience a shaking.

The shaking that is going to take place in the world, might get a little scary. The Lord told me, "Do not be afraid of things that are to come. They are necessary for the conversion of souls."

I have a lot of hope for the future. It is time for the Laity to rise up! Many are going to have the calling on their life to help rebuild the Church like St. Francis.

I think after the shakings, we are going to come into some exciting times. Some other words I was reminded of when reading my journals are:

"You are about to witness the greatest move of my Spirit that has ever been poured out on the earth! Unlike the Chrismatic movement, it will not be able to be contained. It will start with the youth and spread to the four corners of the earth."

"A new day is dawning! What you are about to see is a privilege and others in the past had longed to see!"

"It is coming! It is coming! It is coming! A great harvest of souls is coming! Now is the time to get ready!

Personally, even though I am grieving for our Church, I also feel a new strength and courage. I have always felt intimidated by authority figures and at times have felt held back by clericialism. With all that is going on, I have a renewed boldness and passion to demonstrate that our Lord is real and he is alive!

I didn't find out till I was nineteen years old that Jesus knew me personally and I could know him personally and that he still speaks. Unfortunately, I think that is the case with many Catholics. It has been my passion to make Him real to others and carry and impart His presence wherever I go.

People need to know more than ever that Jesus is passionately in love with them and He will do whatever it takes to draw people to Himself!

He still speaks, He still heals, He still delivers!

Our Church needs rebuilding. Let it begin with us! The walls have been removed; Some in authority have forfeited their right to be in authority. There should be nothing holding us back from spreading and demonstrating the Good news of the Gospel!

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Let's be Balm to the Heart of Jesus!

Like many of the laity and I suspect, holy priests and religious, I have been grieving over the state of the Church as the McCarrick scandal came to light this past June. Tom and I also recently watched the movie, Spotlight about the widespread sex abuse that came to light in the Boston area in the early 2000's. I also wouldn't be surprised if more incidences come to light in the near future. I think we are going to see that the scandals and cover-ups run deep. Tom and I also know more than one person that has been personally affected by it all.

I have literally been crying to the Lord in prayer as I can't imagine how His heart has been grieved as he is all knowing and sees all. I have also been grieving for the victims of these predatory crimes. I am glad these things are coming into the light and I pray they will be dealt with accordingly.

Even before this latest incident broke with Cardinal McCarrick, I was already grieving over the fact that so many have already left the Church and are not practicing any type of faith whatsoever. That describes many of mine and Tom's relatives, some that we visited this summer. Some are agnostics and some out right atheists. The reason they left didn't even have anything to do with these scandals but because I suspect, when they were younger and went to church, they did not see evidence that Jesus was real, that he was alive, and that he loved them. Let's face it, many of our services are lifeless. We hold to the form of religion but often deny its power (2Tim.3:5).

So, what can we, the average laity do about this? 

When I was 19, I went to a church where I saw real faith and passion for the Lord among the people. Through them I saw that Jesus was real and it changed my life! We can have that same effect on others!

So for starters, we need to let the Lord root out complacency and sin in our own hearts! We also need to ask Him to stir into flame the gift of the Holy Spirit that was given to us at Baptism!

I once had a powerful dream I will never forget! In the dream I was in darkness, wading around in mucky water with a lot of other people. I began to hear in the distance a simple but most beautiful song. The words were, "Walk in the light as He is in the light." The song began to get louder and louder and before I knew it, there was an angel standing on a rock in the middle of the mucky water who was singing the song. I could see her because as she lifted up her wings, the whole area was filled with light. The sound of the song was more beautiful than any song I had ever heard! The angel then disappeared. I then stood where the angel had been and shouted, "Did you all hear what the angel said? We need to repent and walk in the light!"

Now is the time to rise up and walk in the light like never before! We need to return to the Lord with our whole heart; rend our heart and not our garments. Especially with all that is going on in the Church, the world needs us to show them that God is still on the throne and he is real!

Also, when we keep our eyes on Jesus and allow his love to come in and transform us into his image, we become balm to his heart that is often broken. It is broken by those who reject him and fail to open their hearts to his love and instead choose mucky water.

Ephesians 2:5 which is part of the second reading for today sums it up well:
So, be imitators of God, as beloved children, and live in love, as Christ loved us and handed himself over for us as a sacrificial offering to God for a fragrant aroma.
We in turn can also offer our lives as a sacrificial offering to God and become a fragrant aroma that will help console his heart!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

If I had 3 Wishes

The Lord once asked me, "If you had three wishes, what would you wish for?" This was about 18 years ago and I realize now that my answer was rather superficial. At the time my answer was, getting out of debt, getting a bigger house and for Tom to get a better paying job. Even though Tom was a Religion teacher at a Catholic high school, making 20k a year and we qualified for WIC, I now see that those probably were not the right wishes to make.

The Lord is so gracious and kind however and he meets us where we are at. Even though those requests were rather superficial, he still met those needs and then some! I now realize however that there is a better way!

We are currently in a similar situation. Two years ago, Tom took a pay cut in order to be in full-time ministry again. If you count the bonuses he used to receive, he makes less than half the salary that he used to make. We've had to adjust our life style a bit! We have also been humbled as we have had to receive God's provision in ways we wouldn't have necessarily chosen for ourselves.

Sometimes I still lose sight of what is important. 

We currently really feel the need to live closer to the church, have a 4 bedroom house and a bigger yard for the children and for entertaining. It is easy to get discouraged because there is nothing close to the church that accommodates a ministry salary. 

I then realize what is really important and I pray, "Lord, help me to desire you above all else!" 

I've had almost 20 years to think about it and if I now had three wishes, it would be to know more of the love of the Father, experience more of the redemption of Christ, and move more fully in the power of the Holy Spirit!

I look forward to seeing how the Lord is going to work on our behalf, move mountains and perform miracles but above all else, he is the joy set before me and the main one I seek! He alone can fulfill my every need!

Matthew 6:33 - Seek first the Kingdom of God and is righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

There is Only One Way!

I think often we try to complicate life. Life is actually pretty simple. I believe one reason we are here on this planet is so we can be perfected in love. Everything we do or don't do should be motivated out of love and for the betterment of others.

Problems come in when we try to define love by worldly terms. We can only know true love however by knowing God, because God is love; To know true love, it is necessary to get to know God and also receive his love.

Jesus even summed up the hundreds of laws the Jewish people had into one. The law of love! He was pretty harsh with the Pharisees that were trying to put other yokes on the people by telling them they should be doing more than that.

In our society today, we see two groups of people doing this. I would argue that neither side really knows God or His love. They are two sides of the same coin.

One Pharisaical side is the a ultra-conservative, traditionalists. They try to put yokes on people by telling them they should act and behave a certain way. Love is very conditional in this camp and it is by ones own merits that they achieve righteousness and perfection.

The other Pharisaical side is the progressive, liberals. They try to put yokes on people telling them they should be doing certain things. If people are not involved in every cause that agrees with this camp, they are considered hypocrites.

If you try to get in a discussion with either of these camps you could end up feeling like you were thrown into a den of vipers and beaten up. There is no grace or tolerance available for anyone who disagrees with their position.

Anyone who has been on social media long enough has had this happen to themselves or seen it done to someone else.

The problem with both these sides is it requires human effort to be in those camps. It negates humility and poverty of spirit. It denies the fact that we can do nothing apart from the living God and the need for his grace and mercy.

The place I would rather be and remain is in the loving arms of my Heavenly Father. I want to lean back and rest in him. I want to get to know his heart beat and then go where His Spirit leads me to go.

Let us be careful not to get caught up in culture wars and take on the false yokes people try to place on us. Let us instead keep our eyes on Christ, learn his ways and go where he is calling us to go. This is the way of peace. This is the way of love. This is the way to be most effective!

Galatians 5:1 -  It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be encumbered once more by a yoke of slavery.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

The Banqueting Table of Mercy

Lately I've been thinking about the number of healings and miracles you hear about in the Gospels performed by Jesus. Jesus went on to say we would do even greater things than he did and yet it seems that healings and miracles are rare.

Why don't we see these things more often? I wonder if the problem is on our end and not God's.

Tom and I were big fans and followers of the late John Wimber. We have all his books which are out of print now. In his book, Power Healing Wimber talks about praying for many healings before he started witnessing a single healing. The reason he kept praying for healing for people is because it was biblical and he was trying to be obedient to what he felt convicted in scripture to do. 

The turning point for him was when he was called to come over to a man's house to pray for his sick wife. The man had been out of work for some time and finally had a job interview. His wife however came down with the flu and couldn't take care of their children. The man called John and asked him to come over and pray for his wife to be healed so he could make it to the job interview. On the way over to the man's house, John was nervous. His thought process was, "Man, they really believe this stuff!". He arrived nervously, prayed over the man's sick wife and then turned to explain to the man why sometimes people are not healed. He noticed the man's eyes got big, John turned around and the woman was out of bed, completely healed! 

When John drove away from the house he said to God, "You got one!!!"  Next thing he knew, he started seeing an open vision. He had to actually pull over to the side of the road because it was so distracting. The vision was of a big honeycomb dripping with honey. The honey was landing on people. Some received it and some brushed it off out of annoyance. He prayed about this and the Lord said, "John, my mercy is there, you need to learn how to position yourself under it. The problem isn't on My end. Don't beg me for healing again!"

I think the reason we don't see more healing, miracles, provision and just everyday blessings in our lives is because we have a distorted view of God. We don't see him as a loving Father who gives good gifts to his children. We have a poverty and orphan mindset. Instead of being confident in our relationship with him and sitting with him in high places, eating from his banqueting table, we beg him for the scraps that fall under the table.

Now, I'm not saying that every person we pray for should get healed. We all need to die at some point. Even Wimber recognized that some sickness is unto death and he would ask the Lord before praying with someone if it was a sickness unto death. If he felt it was, then he would pray in a different direction and pray for peace for the person and their family. 

If we at least want to see some people healed that we pray for however, I believe it starts with having the right mindset and seeing God as he truly is.

I think to get a good idea of the type of God we serve, we can look at the female pelican. If a mother pelican doesn't have any food to feed her hungry babies, she will tear at her own flesh and feed her own flesh to her babies.

That is the kind of God we serve! He would rather suffer himself than see us suffer! He not only died a gruesome death for us but he gives us his flesh and blood to eat in the Eucharist! He has given us everything! He has never held back and he never will hold back from us! His mercy is abundant and overflowing!

All we need to do is position ourselves to receive!

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

One Beautiful Life!

I was at a surprise birthday party last week for a friend. Children were welcome so we brought 4 of our 6 kids. A woman there saw me smiling and she commented, "How can you still be smiling when you have so many kids?!" Without even thinking, I replied, "Its because I have so many kids that I'm smiling!"

This got me thinking about the culture in which we live in. According to the CDC, birthrates have dipped to a 30 year low and fertility rates have sunk below replacement levels. I believe the reason for this is because we have put our careers and material possessions above having children. Society often considers children to be more of a burden and hindrance to achieving our goals. We can often be narcissistic and self-seeking. I know I have been guilty of thinking this way as well. The only reason I went on to have 6 children is because of the Lord's promptings. Without that, I don't know if I would have had the forbearance so I'm not judging anybody. I would like to challenge however!

Tom and I just celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. Before we got married, I wanted to be a missionary. We got pregnant with our first child on our honeymoon. A marriage that includes children is practically all we know. Still, I didn't always see my vocation as a mission field.  When my older two were little, I couldn't wait for them to get a little older so I could finally do what God was calling me to do. Then the Lord called me to have 4 more. Some days I even resented that Tom got to be involved with ministry opportunities while I was "stuck" home with the kids.

I believe one reason we are on this planet is so we can be perfected in love. The best and most effective way for that to happen is through sacrifice and sometimes suffering. It is only through our time on this earth that that is possible since in heaven there will be no more suffering or opportunities to sacrifice for others.

What I have come to discover over the years is that our children can actually help us to be perfected in love, grow in holiness and teach us something about the nature of God. Also, our children do not have to hinder us from achieving our goals but we can actually achieve our goals within the context of family. 

I am currently reading Jennifer Fulwiler's new book, One Beautiful Dream in which she talks about fulfilling her dreams within the context of family. A turning point for her was when she went on a retreat and talked to a priest about her desires. He told her something that was life changing! He said, "Where there is no unity, there is no God. God is always calling us to connection, to unity, and if we don't have that, we are not walking with God. Do this work that God is calling you to do, but do it as one part of something bigger - your family." He went on to tell Jennifer, "We always think like individuals, like the work that we do has nothing to do with anyone else. God wants us to see what we do as just one small part of something greater..."

Unfortunately in our culture, we often tend to think individualistically. There are other cultures that have this down better and have the right mindset that everything they do is out of the context of the family instead of the other way around.

Finally after all these years, I think my mindset is changing for the better. I am starting to even see how I can learn from my children. If we listen and pay attention I think they can teach us so much! 

Reflecting, I can think of more than a few things my children have taught me over the years. My older two girls have taught me to recognize the beauty of Catholicism. They did not grow up with the Catholic faith. We came back to the Church when they were 11 and 13. They ended up falling in love with the beauty that pointed to the presence of God they experienced there. My 12 year old daughter has taught me that we all have our crosses and through the power of the Holy Spirit we can overcome anything! My 9 year old daughter teaches me everyday how to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit. She teaches me that He cares about even the littlest details of everyday life. My 8 year old daughter has taught me that ultimately we are made for Heaven and God is the only one that can give us true joy! Last but not least, my 5 year old son is teaching me that you get better results by responding to God's grace instead of reacting to negative behavior. 

I look forward to seeing what the Lord has yet to teach me through my children and how I can partner with them in Christ to reach those around me!

Friday, April 6, 2018

Who Wants to be Radically Obfuscated With Me?

When I was in college, I helped start a women's household and led it. A women's household consisted of a group of women who lived on the same wing of a dorm. They had a certain charism (ours was on the Eucharist) and would get together for prayer and different activities. 

Okay, I'm about to be vulnerable with you in what I am about to share. My household sisters gave me a nickname. That nickname was ZORC. It stood for Zealous, Obfuscated, Radical, Catholic. Do you know what the word obfuscated means? I didn't know what the word meant and had to look it up in the dictionary (we didn't have google back then). The word means perpetually confused! 

Now wait, before you think my household sisters were being mean, they actually meant it as a compliment and out of love. You see, in the natural I usually didn't have a clue as to what was going on around me. I wasn't up on the latest gossip, trends or even the latest news. However, whenever we would get together, somehow I would know exactly what needed to be said. You see, I did have a strong relationship with the Lord, would seek his will and he would give me wisdom and insight. I would then end up sharing exactly what the other women needed to hear!

I want to get back to that kind of radical dependence on God! He was always the first thing I thought about in the morning and the last thing I thought about at night! He was my main source of wisdom and knowledge!

In recent years, with the invention of the smart phone, I have succumbed to checking my phone first thing in the morning before I spend time in prayer. I have gotten caught up in the noise of the world which causes distractions when I do go to pray. I suspect I'm not the only one. We want to know the latest gossip and latest news right away. Is this however choosing to eat from the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" instead of the "tree of life" as described in Genesis? 

What would happen if we put down our phones and sought God along with his wisdom and knowledge first? Is this too radical of an idea? 

If you are willing to be a radical Catholic like me, let us return to our first love! It is the Easter season! There is abundant grace available for us to draw closer to Christ, even more so than during Lent! Let us take advantage of this grace, seek the face of Jesus and become his worldly obfuscated followers, knowing by His wisdom and grace exactly what to say in any given situation! 

If you are trying to reach me and are not able to leave a message!

Monday, March 12, 2018

What is the Treasure You Seek?

Matthew 13:44 - The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy he went and sold all he had and bought that field. 

Jesus is our treasure! When we find that treasure, realizing how precious it is, our only response is to leave everything else behind and follow him! When we do this and behold the treasure, we become treasure!

Last night I had a vision of Jesus with a sifter, sifting out the sand and impurities from the gold and jewels. He then took the jewels and put them in a treasure chest. These jewels represent those who have given their lives to him and have allowed God's love to transform them. I then saw Jesus saving up the treasure until the right moment when he would pour out the treasure for the sake of others who don't yet know him, so they can then become treasure!

We become beautiful when we behold Christ. If there is ugliness in the world, it is because people have forgotten or don't realize who they are and whose they are. They don't realize they are made in the image and likeness of God and they belong to him! They don't realize they are beloved!

Let us respond to the call, after a time of hiddenness, and allow our lives to be poured out as a beautiful offering so others may find their way back and also become God's treasure!

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Don't Choose the Hard Road of Mashed Potatoes!

I have written about perspectives before but I feel strongly that whatever perspectives we have in life can make all the difference in the world! Especially as believers, we need to have a Kingdom mindset and Kingdom perspective!

Romans 12:2,  says, "Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your minds."

The world has many popular sayings that are accepted as truths when in fact they are not! One of them being, "If you make your bed, you need to lie in it." What this saying means is that if you make a mistake or decision, you need to live with the consequences of that action. That is a false idea and statement! Through Christ, we do not need to live with our mistakes and failings! He is not just our savior but also our redeemer! In fact, he loves and longs to redeem our mistakes!

As a follower of Christ, it is easy to get into the mindset that we need to strive to get closer to Christ; we need to fix and make right our own mistakes. Having that mindset is like trying to hike up a mountain of mashed potatoes. It will cause you to sink and slide back down. Instead, if we are baptized believers, we should have the mindset that Christ, through the Holy Spirit lives in us. We have died and it is no longer us that lives but Christ that lives in us (Romans 6:3-5). He cannot be closer to us than he already is. Freedom is not something we need to strive for. We already have freedom in Christ (Galatians 5:1)! He desires for us to recognize the freedom we have so he can break forth and live his life in and through us! He will also fix and redeem any mistakes we make along the way as we are walking out our freedom when we put our trust in him.

If we have a problem, it is not our problem anymore but Christ's because Christ lives in us. Because our problem now belongs to him, it is not a problem anymore. Christ doesn't have problems! He has possibilities and opportunities! This allows us to lean back, rest in him and let him take the wheel. We no longer need to focus on ourselves and our weaknesses! We just need to walk out our freedom in him, letting him live his life through us. Do you see how this perspective can make a world of difference? 

We are sons and daughters of the King of Kings and Lord or Lords! We are in him and he is in us! Everything he has is at our fingertips and at our disposal! It is time we rise up and recognize our rightful place in the Kingdom of God! No more wimpy prayers! It's time to claim our inheritance and recognize that we are God's beloved children! Let's let Christ break free in us this Lent so he can live his life through us and touch the hearts of those around us!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Get Your House In Order

Last week the kids and I met Tom at the church for an event. Fifteen minutes before we had to leave a neighbor kid came to the door. It was her birthday so she brought everyone cupcakes. She left and my kids were scarfing down the chocolate cupcakes before we had to leave. Thick globs of chocolate icing ended up on my new rug. We were supposed to leave the house by this time but instead I was frantically scrubbing my rug trying to get the stains out. In the hectic chaos, I guess I forgot to lock the front door. 

We arrived home around 9:30 at night and pulled in the garage. My 7 year old daughter went in the house first and discovered that the front door was wide open. Tom coaxed her back in the van, we backed out of the garage and parked down the street. Tom proceeded to call the police. Out of great distress, I tried to stop him! I explained that I would rather risk my life than have a police officer go through my house at that time! You see, with the busyness of the week, my house was in total disarray! There were toys and clothes on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, piled up laundry on the couch and there may or may not have been underwear on the bathroom floor. 

Tom didn't listen to me begging him not to call. As the man of the house, he felt it was his duty to protect us. Well, not only did one policeman show up but FOUR! I was mortified! I ducked down in the van and let Tom deal with them.

Finally after 4 police officers walked through every inch of my house with flashlights, we discovered nobody was hiding and nothing was stolen. Let me tell you though, that next day I was very motivated and put it in full gear to get my house clean!

Next week is the beginning of Lent. This is a time for us to get our spiritual house in order. Scripture says we do not know the day or the hour when Jesus is coming back and we need to live each day as if he could come back at any moment (Matthew 24:36). During the season of Lent, there is tremendous grace to draw closer to Christ through our sacrifices. 

Why sacrifice? What does it do?

I think there can be a lot of misunderstanding regarding sacrifice. After all, scripture does say that God does not desire or need our sacrifices (Psalm 40). Some might also think offering sacrifices is like striving to earn God's approval instead of receiving his grace.

I like the analogy of a child who doesn't want to eat his broccoli. The parent might then coax the child by saying, "Will you do it for me?"

Does the parent really need the child to make that sacrifice? No! But the parent might say that to the child because the parent knows it would be good for the child to eat his broccoli and the child might possibly be willing to do it out of love for the parent.

Lent is a time to fast. Fasting is a way to cleanse our spiritual palate and make more room for more of God. Fasting creates more of a hunger for God and helps us to value the Lord alone as our banquet!

This season of Lent, let us not be caught off guard or unprepared! Let us take advantage of all the graces available through fasting, sacrifice and prayer to draw closer to Jesus!

Friday, January 19, 2018

The Battle Belongs to the Lord!

Sometimes you go on retreats or to conferences and it is like a mountain top experience, then you enter back into the real world and nothing really changes. I do not feel that is the case with the Encounter conference I went to two weeks ago. I truly believe it was life-changing and the right timing for me. It has been two weeks so I've had some time to process and start applying what was imparted to me at the conference.

If you haven't yet watched the "Fearless" Documentary", I would seriously recommend it! The guys who started Encounter ministries and put on the Encounter conference, were on it. I cried the first time I saw it. I was so moved to see Catholics doing "Power Evangelism" (a term coined by the late John Wimber). Tom and I were big followers of John Wimber 20 year ago and part of the reason we left the Catholic Church was because we wanted to "do the stuff" like Wimber talked about. Twenty years ago, it didn't seem like the Catholic Church was open to that and it seemed like too big of a ship to turn around so we left and joined the Vineyard church. Wimber is the one that started the Association of Vineyard Churches. I applaud Fr. Mathias and Patrick, the founders of Encounter, that they remained Catholic even though they received an impartation through Randy Clark after reading his book, There is More. Randy Clark is a Protestant. He started the ministry Global Awakening that crosses denominational lines. He even wrote a book recently with Dr. Mary Healy (a Catholic professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary) called Spiritual Gifts Handbook. Saying that I am excited about what I see happening right now in the Church is an understatement!

Anyway, I'm going to be real now, I was desperate by the time the conference came around. I have a heart for evangelization and a strong desire to reach the people around me but I also realized that things needed to change in my life and in my family first. 

As many of you know, I have 6 kids. My oldest is 24 and my youngest is about to turn 5. Just because I've been open to life doesn't mean it has been easy! By the time number 6 came around, I was tired and didn't feel I had much more to give. Number 6 also happened to be our first boy. I feel he isn't just one boy, but ten boys rolled up in one!

Also, since we moved to Indiana, even though it has been a good thing for our family, it has not been without it's share of stress. I think it has especially been hard on Isaac. That first year he would constantly say he missed Florida, he wanted to go back to his "red" house, he wanted to go to Disney World, etc. I think all the grief he was experiencing was also causing him to act out.

Anyway, in the last year or so, things have really spiraled out of control in our home. I don't know if it was the stress of moving here or we just needed a good house blessing (I've been told that a very violent family lived in our house before us) or both. 

To give you an idea of what was going on, there was no peace in our home. My children were constantly fighting, bickering, complaining and being disrespectful. My youngest two were especially out of control. The defiance and disrespect was off the charts! I honestly did not look forward to waking up each morning knowing what I would probably be dealing with. I was at a loss as to what to do. Every evening we would try to pray together as a family but Isaac would never join us and it would usually end in children fighting. I was very discouraged to say the least!

At the conference, renewal in my family was one of the main things I was crying out to the Lord for. God answered my prayer and I returned home feeling empowered and reinvigorated to reclaim my family for the Lord.

The very night I got home, even though I was exhausted from lack of sleep, I sat my kids down. I explained to them about the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I also listed the opposite of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. I asked them what they were seeing in our home. They agreed, we were seeing a lack of the Holy Spirit in our home. They agreed that we needed more of the Holy Spirit. We then began to pray and cry out to God for more of the Holy Spirit in our home. My daughters all got into it and felt his presence. My son however, still would not pray with us and I kid you not, he even mocked us. 

Okay, so we knew what we were dealing with and there may be a battle ahead. I clung to a scripture given to me at the conference however. It was Exodus 14:14 - The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be still!

In the days following, every time Isaac would sit next to us or on our lap, Tom and I would silently pray over him in the Spirit. We also have been praying every night as a family for more of the Holy Spirit. Let me tell you, there has been a radical change in my kids and in our household! Isaac is even letting us pray over him now. I even asked him the other day, "Isaac, do you want more of Jesus in your heart?" He responded, "Probably, yes." I'll take that, so I prayed with him! His heart is softening! Pretty awesome!!! 

There has still been a battle, but like that scripture, the Lord is fighting for us. One evening when we were praying, one of my daughters was throwing an all out temper tantrum over something trivial. She wouldn't stop. I calmly called her over to myself and began praying over her in the Spirit. Almost immediately, Peace came over her and she stopped crying. Every evening we have been praying fervently, the Holy Spirit has been showing up and his Peace has been descending on us! During the day, my kids have also been a lot more peaceful, pleasant and respectful. My nine year old is ready to tell all the neighbor kids about Jesus's love. I am beyond stoked!

If you are reading this now and thinking, "I desire and need more of the Holy Spirit in my life!" I pray for you now and impart to you more of the Holy Spirit and his abundant gifts in Jesus name! He desires to fill you up to over-flowing with his presence,  his love, the fruits of the Spirit and his grace!

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Reckless Love

When I was a teenager, I was involved in my church's youth group. One thing we were told is that God becoming human was the equivalent of us becoming a worm. That might be true but this past Christmas I was reflecting on the fact that in Genesis, God looks at all his creation and calls it good.

I think Jesus was very passionate and compelled by love to come to earth to restore and redeem his creation. It wasn't just his Father's idea. I also think he fully entered into the beauty and sacredness of life as a human. If you think about it, he spent 30 years just being and living life. What did he do during those years? He spent time with his family and friends; He helped his dad build things with his hands; He went to weddings where he danced and drank wine; He lived life with everything he had.

This past weekend I went to a conference in Ann Arbor called Encounter. It was very powerful and very obvious that Jesus is still in the business of redeeming and restoring. He will go to great lengths to bring freedom to his sheep and those who are lost.

One of the most powerful songs we sang was "Reckless Love" by Cory Asbury.  These are the lyrics:

Before I spoke a word
You were singing over me
You have been so, so good to me
Before I took a breath
You breathed Your life in me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it
I don't deserve it
Still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God

When I was your foe
Still Your love fought for me
You have been so, so good to me
When I felt no worth
You paid it all for me
You have been so, so kind to me

Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
I couldn't earn it
I don't deserve it
Still You give yourself away
Oh, the overwhelming, never ending, reckless love of God

There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
No lie You won't tear down
Coming after me

God's reckless love was definitely prevalent at the conference. He went to great lengths, pursued us and people responded. He wasn't concerned if it got messy and his reputation could be at stake. All he cared about was pouring out his love, setting his people free and equipping them with more of the Holy Spirit to go forth and reach the world for him!