Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Holy Week is upon us, Lent has been a bear, and, a baby.

I trust you have been having a blessed and holy Lent. I seem to remember last year as not needing a lot of additional disciplines, as they came pre-packaged. Well, this year was no different. Maybe it was just God's way of consolidating all my spiritual growth into one Lenten package, all tied up with a pretty purple bow.

I will not share all the ins and outs.  Suffice it to say the challenges have been coming fast and furious. Kind of like a treadmill that makes you keep running or you'll go flying. But don't let me give you the impression it's been all bad; far from it!  I've had many many lovely blessings. My daughter, son-in-law and grandson came from Michigan for a visit; the occasion being another daughter's baby shower.

Annnnnnd, the amazing, sweet, adorable, yet natural, outcome of that-------drum roll----

                                                                         Ta Da!

                                      Clementine Willow Corrine, born March 4, 6 lbs. 15 oz.

Of course we are all completely smitten.

Yet, all of life continues, much as we wish it would just pause long enough for us to sit and rock her seventeen hours a day.

Back to Lent.

I came across the book, Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, while re-reading The Way of Serenity, by Father Jonathan Morris. He referenced it somewhere along the way, and I became curious and went and found it.

It has become truly a book full of Things I Needed To Hear Right Now. Ironically, following with the book's theme, God brought it along when I needed it most. The idea that God is present in every moment, and our job is to be abandoned to his will, trusting that He has got our life handled in a way we never could, is not a new one, in fact I am sure one could quote scripture to say the same thing. But de Caussade does sort of a Francis de Sales with the language and examples he uses, making the whole idea of the Christian life absurdly simple, and still highly profound.

The simple part I really need right now. Haha.  Just remembering to look to God in every circumstance, instantly changes the entire baseline reality of that moment.

When I am driving to work in the morning on the expressway (total misnomer. there is nothing express about it), I like to start with a Rosary. It helps quiet down my racing mind and focus on hearing Jesus. One day while praying the sorrowful mysteries, I got to "Jesus carries His Cross" and remembered how he allowed Simon to help him. I mean, Simon didn't even want to. He had to be forced! But also, Jesus chose to stay within the limits of his beaten, torn, human body. Nothing was done to Him on Good Friday that He didn't allow. And he wanted a reluctant human person to help him on His darkest day. When I, in my human limitations, am having a dark day, do I allow people to help me? Do I turn to Jesus and ask his help? Conversely, Jesus wants our help. He wants  us to pray for one another. He wants us to just talk to Him, to get to know Him for who he really is.

I was able to ponder all that because I made myself available to listen and pay attention.

It's kind of a limitless possibility idea, and I like it. It gives us the chance to tap into God as He is in every moment, and get to know Him as the living Father that he truly is.

Since I am experiencing challenges, I now  have daily, even hourly conversations with God that offer opportunities to see all my situations through His eyes. He reminds me that my freaking out accomplishes nothing, and I can remain serene and docile to His work in my life, knowing He has it all handled.

My prayer is that you can experience God in your daily life, abandoning yourself to Him and knowing His peace.

Have a blessed Holy Week~


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lent 2016, the gauntlet

Well, here we are at the doorstep of yet another Lent. I remember last year's Lent and that it was hard or something, and for general forgetfulness, I am truly thankful.

I am fully on board with the saying, " Lent is not a diet." In some ways, I think that just omitting certain foods is a cop out from putting real thought into the furthering of our spiritual life.Just being hungry is not enough, though it has its merits. I personally need something that will point me toward God in a more conscious way. Many days, okay, most days, I get all caught up in the events of that day and go merrily on without Him.

So I want to have a multi-point approach this year. A little of this and a little of that.

The Plan.

1. Ransom some time back by going off of Facebook. I may blog here and there, and throw the post up on Facebook, (and try really hard not to chase after the piled up notifications).  I do this every year, and find I am looking forward to it more and more.

2. Generalized good eating but no specific dietary restricting. Except Fridays, of course, and just keeping things modest.  We have several celebrations throughout Lent, and this year, the birth of our second grandchild, so there will be some appropriate times to indulge a little. I have heard that NOT participating in someone's joyful celebration, (when possible), would in itself be, if not sinful, at least sort of ungenerous.

3. Reading. I began Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly, and want to continue that. I also have lots of great spiritual books lying about. Unplugging to some extent and watching less TV will clear some space.

4. Going to daily mass, adoration, stations of the cross, and  more frequent confession. I am not going to say this day or that day, because my life just doesn't support that. I do want to say a daily Rosary.

5. Doing this.

6. Give alms wherever an opportunity arises. Sometimes this happens with giving someone time rather than money.

7. Little sacrifices. Doing something someone else wants rather than what I want. Praying while driving instead of listening to music. Doing something extra for someone that is not expected.
Offering up all difficulties of the day. Hurt feelings, bad drivers, crowded stores, disappointments, heartaches. You get the gist.

8. This may seem counter intuitive, but be joyful! Laugh. Find the humor in things. Smile at someone. Don't indulge in grumpiness or irritability. Hug someone. (be appropriate! haha). Give good vibes away.  Jesus said,  “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." John 15:10-11.

That all may seem like a lot, but really, it's more of a mindset.  Setting the mind on Jesus. That's the goal, right?

Here's to a joyful and holy Lent!

Friday, January 8, 2016

What is stopping you?


   As a parent, I always want my kids to tell me if they need something. It makes me unhappy to know that any one of them has suffered in silence because their shoes got too small or they were down to one pair of jeans, or they fell behind in algebra; or they wanted to sign up for a sport/club/class, but weren't sure they could handle it. Anything. It's fine if it's just a material thing, or help over an academic or social hurdle. Or something more. I truly wish they knew my heart for them never changes, and that I always want their best, highest good. It is painful when they don't seem to know that there is nothing that can change my heart toward them.

   God is our Father, and we can understand the quality of that love because of the love we have for our own. But do we ask Him for all our needs?  How many times do we suffer in silence, flounder around in our difficulties, surrender to our wounds, get stuck in a rut, or become paralyzed with fear? I would venture to say, we all do it in some way every day, simply as a part of being human. How much must the Father's heart hurt when we don't ask him for what we need? When He reaches out to us in a hundred different ways every day, and just gets brushed off because we are not open to the idea that it is He that is offering us His love, tenderness and assistance? When He only wants our highest good, and that we know that His heart for us never changes?

I think that we can't see it because we haven't asked Him for what we need. And maybe that is why we are stuck.

Where are you stuck?

A long time ago, I heard this teaching:

If you have an area in which you are struggling, identify the goal, and then isolate every step of what you need to reach it. I am approaching this as a spiritual process, but it can apply to anything.


A Scenario.

Fred has been away from the Church. He is questioning his faith, but is also feeling an emptiness in his life that he has not been able to fill by pursuing his own ideas.  What does he need? Faith? A connection with God? If he starts right where he is, he can ask God for the strength and courage to take the first step. He can say one Hail Mary a day, and ask that God reach out to him with a path. If he has a hard time praying at all, he can ask for the ability to pray. Just that one request. He can keep backing up until he reaches the point where he can begin. If he is open, he will recognize it when that person talks to him about faith, or that book comes across his path.

What is a goal you have not been reaching for because the path to you seems blocked? Write down that goal and work back, asking God for the ability to go forward. Be clear about the steps, and what is stopping you from doing them.

I have been working out now, consistently, at least for a little over two years. results have been slow, and there were a lot of roadblocks along the way. Scheduling, health concerns, injury, depression. But, one by one, I was able to ask for the thing I needed to go forward, even if I had to start with asking for the desire to do it. Sometimes, even the desire to be open to doing it. Or the desire to have the desire! I wanted the goal, but felt blocked. So I needed enough desire to take the first step to getting unblocked. God sent many little concrete steps for me to follow. An at-home, free, online exercise program with a huge array of workouts, in all styles, time frames and intensity levels. No having to leave the house, no fancy wardrobe, no special equipment, no AUDIENCE, especially in the very beginning. I could do ten or fifteen minutes if that was all I could manage. I would even workout in whatever I had worn to bed. But now, I do have the desire. The inertia has been overcome. I want to feel that sweaty burn. Even when it hurts, I like it, because I see and feel the results and the benefit goes far beyond the physical. I look forward to having days I can do longer workouts, but doing five days of  30 intense minutes is just fine. God provided everything I needed.

The goals in the beginning seemed large, wide-ranging,  and unattainable. I was struggling with the effects of an under active thyroid, compounded with life events that felt overwhelming and a proclivity to depression and anxiety. I just wanted to trust God as I once had, and feel at peace. And have some energy. So, I asked Him for some beginning steps. Finding that workout program was a big one. It helped me improve my physical and mental health, it increased my energy levels and helped with sleep and made it easier to desire healthy eating. It also  has made it possible to see the way ahead more clearly and set further goals.

 Another help along the way was finding my NarAnon family group. This has truly been a larger piece of life-help than I first imagined. And has much more impact than solely in the arena of addiction, It is a support for ALL aspects of life.

I mentioned further goals. I have been limping along in my spiritual life, at least in my own estimation. I suspect God has been leading me down the Attainable Path all along, but I have always striven for certain goals and not been able to maintain the discipline. So with the help of the upcoming Lent, and asking God for a daily devotional habit that I can sustain after Lent and beyond, and most importantly, the desire for God to increase. I know this is a good request and that He will answer, indeed is already answering, and I will be looking for those answers.


I want to give sources to all the puzzle pieces I mentioned above:

1. The lovely young couple, Daniel and Kelli Segars and their online site, Fitness Blender.

2.  Matthew Kelly's outreach, that I first found as Best Advent Ever, but the whole shebang is called Dynamic Catholic. Best Lent Ever is going to be available as well, and I intend to take advantage of the daily emails! You may have seen his books, Rediscover Jesus, being given out at your parish. I highly recommend this program. Highly.

3. If you have a loved one or family member struggling with addiction, or suspect it, you can find a NarAnon or AlAnon in your area by searching NarAnon or AlAnon family group meetings.

And by all means, gladden God's heart by asking Him for what you need. Do it today. It is my prayer for you.