Tag Archives: God

On my knees

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Do you ever feel like God is testing your faith? I know God doesn’t test us, but there are times when I feel so strong in my faith that there is NOTHING that could shake it. These are the times when I am the weakest, I believe. And, typically, these are the times when I mess up royally.

Recently, we had family members and friends receive horrible medical diagnoses. I was able to remain positive. I was able to turn to God and focus on Him. I felt like these were tests of my faith, and I passed. Praying that the Lord would be with them and help them. (Is there “passing” in faith – and is that my place to decide? The answer is truly NO.)

Well, in the middle of patting myself on the back for my “strong” faith, my daddy had a stress test. Just a “baseline”-because-it-had-been-a-while-since-his-last-test test. He didn’t “pass.” He was scheduled for a cath procedure where they checked for blocks and placed stents. My world shook a little. This is my daddy, the one we all turn to for just about anything. My husband tried to point out that we needed to pray, but I wasn’t ready. I started to fall apart and went through that first evening feeling just a little “off,” needing to turn to the Lord, but not doing so just yet.

Thinking and talking about it later, I realized that when I try to stand strong, I am the weakest.  I really need to get down on my knees. The times when I feel so strong are when I am most vulnerable. These are the times when I need to turn to God first, get down on my knees and give Him my heart one more time. God is my strength and my courage. He is my rock. In Him I place my trust.

Out of time?

Pray first.

So many things going “wrong?”

Pray first.  

Are things going well?

Pray first. 🙂

“But He said to me,‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell within me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

“Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for [someone] to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

Dear Lord, I do believe. Help my unbelief.

Amen.

Fair isn’t always Equal

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Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I was a middle school teacher.  At the beginning of every year, as we went through teacher training, our principal would tell us that “being fair isn’t always equal”.  What did THAT mean?  It took me awhile to get it.  I think fairness and equality are easily confused nowadays.  The definition of equal is “alike in quantity, degree or value”.  We believe as Catholics, and it’s stated in the Declaration of Independence, that all men are created equal by God. All of us have the same value in God’s eyes, whether it is a child in the womb, the elderly person in the nursing home, or the homeless guy on the street.  We all have value (i.e. meaning or purpose).  Each of us was created for a reason.

The definition of fair is “free from bias, dishonesty or injustice”. We are all treated fairly by God even though it doesn’t always seem that way.  Its easy to say “God must like John better because he has more money than I do”, or “Susie seems to have it all together her family is perfect”.  How many times do we sit in Mass and stare at the family with the perfectly behaved children and think, “Wow, they really have it together!”  We all do it, its part of our human nature.  What we don’t see is the crosses God gives to everyone.  None of us share the exact same burden-that would be equal but not fair.  God gives us what we can handle, according to our gifts and talents.  That’s fair, but not equal.  God values us and wants all of us to get to our Heavenly reward.  He molds and shapes us to become what we’re meant to be.  He is our Father after all, and he’s doing exactly what a good parent should.

Here I Am Lord, Send Me…As Long As It’s Where I Want to Go

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“There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

The start of a new school year brings many opportunities to serve.  With 5 kids ranging in age from 16-5, who are attending 4 different schools, and all involved in all sorts of different activities, there is an endless list of good and worthy organizations that need volunteers.  Not to mention our amazing Church, which is alive and thriving, and overflowing with ministries constantly calling to the Martha in me.   My husband and I love to serve and especially together.  That is how we met and fell in love so many years ago, so it really renews our sense of purpose and togetherness when we are working together for the Lord.   Personally, I love to serve.  I love to be involved, and I love to be around people.  It is invigorating.

We had decided at the end of the last school year that we would continue to help with High School Faith Formation as our main service once school began again.  Other opportunities came by, and I said no because we already knew where we were supposed to serve.  I knew it would mean that my 12-year-old would have to care for her younger siblings on Sunday evenings, but I reasoned that it was ok because this is where God wanted us.  I knew that my 5-year-old might struggle a little with us not being home as she went to bed on Sunday nights, but again, I thought God could handle it.  We had a great year last year and started to build relationships with some of the young people, so we looked forward to continuing on the journey with them.  We felt peace and satisfaction, even knowing that there would be sacrifices on the part of our family.  Sometimes that is what God calls us to.

At our first HS Catechist meeting, our incredibly excited HS Coordinator laid out his plan for the new youth program, and my husband and I both got sinking feelings in our stomachs.  We quickly saw that this would not be something we could commit to.  It was a wonderful plan, and the youth will benefit from it, but it would require a large chunk of time away from our younger ones on Sunday evenings.  We worked through every possible scenario to see if there was some way we could divide and conquer the commitment.  After MUCH prayer and a little heart-break we discerned that this is not where God wanted us.  I was sad and disappointed and a little frustrated.

Once again, having a large family, with many different ages was keeping me from doing what I wanted to do, what I thought God wanted us to do, and what I thought we would be good at.  How many times over the years have I heard about something worthwhile, and  I couldn’t accept it, or even try for it because of my duties to my family.  What I want to do is different from what God is calling me to.  Which is crazy, because really in my heart of hearts I want to desire His will over mine.  I just get a little lost sometimes in the world of good intentions.  The world tells me that being super mom is what is good, but God tells me being my kids’ mom is what is good.  Giving to each of them all that I can, is what pleases Him most.   There are so many things I want to do or I want to be, and yet the commitment that I’ve made to God and to my kids is where my real sanctification is worked out.  It is in all the times I have to say, “No,” that I know the Lord is working out my salvation.  The Lord put it on my heart long ago to serve my family first.  Whatever gifts and talents He gave me are first for my husband and kids, and then for whomever He puts in my path.  It is in the anonymity of my home, where there are no accolades, that the Lord wants me to be salt and light.

So now that the year has officially begun and I haven’t officially signed up to volunteer anywhere, I realize that I am exactly where I need to be for this season.  As the school year opened up so did the flood gates of tears in my house hold, and I know that right now, right here, my kids need me more than any other group, no matter how good its mission is.  This semester, I am committed to reading to my kindergartener, making sure she gets to bed on time, helping my middle schooler navigate these new waters she is swimming in, not being too busy with “important” stuff to listen to my 4th grader tell me his struggles or listen to his excitement over his Lego creations, and being home in the evenings when my High Schoolers are good and ready to talk.

But, Dear Lord, next semester I’ll have a list ready of all the places you might want to send me.

Mercy and Justice -or- My Perfect Confession

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+JMJ+

I’m Catholic and have been since birth.  My faith has always been part of the definition of me.  That being said, in May 2010 my world fell apart and the foundations of my faith cracked.

At 8:50 pm on May 26th 2010 my beautiful daughter Rita Marie was born.  She weighed 8lbs even and was 21 inches long.  She had a head of gorgeous black hair.  She was all me but for her nose and her hands – those were her daddy’s.

She was perfect.

But she wasn’t breathing.

A special ambulance came and rushed her to the local Children’s hospital.  There she stayed for two days.  She died in my arms when she was but 48 1/2 hours old.  I sang to her as she left us for Heaven and Life Everlasting.  Her daddy made sure of of her destination when, good Catholic man that he is, he baptised her as soon as it was evident she wasn’t breathing.

I’m so blessed to have a Saint in Heaven who is especially concerned for me and my family.  But I am also broken.  I have struggled greatly since Rita came and left us.  On the Feast of the Assumption I went to Confession for the first time in 10 months.  10 months is a long time for sin to build.  I didn’t even know where to start and I let Father know.  I was expecting to come out with a penance that would take me hours to complete but God surprised me with His Justice and Mercy.  He had just the right Priest waiting for me and cleared the line so that I could quickly duck into the confessional without having to wait for ages.

Without going into intimate detail of my fallen nature, Father said two things that stuck with me.   The first was that there are two parts to faith: the intellectual knowledge or understanding that God is Real and the trust that He wants good for us.  The second thing that stuck with me was my penance and the spiritual guidance received.  Respectively, to pray simply the prayer of St. Faustina “Jesus, I Trust in You.” a certain number of times and to say every day, as many times as needed, “Lord give me the light and grace to get through this day.”

I truly feel God’s love and mercy from that penance.  He knows I am already hurting and broken and chose to remind that I am His and that He loves me even when I am expecting Him to give me the spiritual equivalent of a good spanking.

I went into the confessional feeling like God had it in for me –  like I was His new Job – and came out feeling like Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Our God is both Merciful and Just.  He is perfectly both and measures each to us as we need.

Jesus, I Trust in You.

Who Am I?

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This past Saturday, my husband & I were sitting on the couch just having a general day. I can’t remember what started the conversation, except that I KNOW it was him (fist pump & bump from me to the Holy Spirit). He asked about when the Church started. Since I tend to blather on & on (& on & on & on…), I concentrated on brevity. I said, “Oh, somewhere in the New Testament before Easter, Jesus told Simon Peter that ‘… on this rock I shall build my Church…'” I further added that He (Jesus) also told Simon Peter that He (Jesus) would give Simon Peter the keys to Heaven and the Church. My husband’s reply was a simple “Oh” or grunt of acknowledgement. Regardless of his response, I was tremendously pleased that he broached the subject.

Imagine my absolute SHOCK when, at Mass Sunday, the Gospel was that *very* reading. Jesus asks the disciples, “Who do the people say that I am?” followed by “Who do *you* say that I am?” Simon Peter was the only one brave enough (or lacking the edit function of his brain like me) to say, “You’re the Christ”. Then followed my above mentioned quote from that same chapter. As the reading began I looked over and was dismayed to see that our children looked to be thoroughly distracting my baptized (but not confirmed) husband. I said a silent prayer to the Holy Spirit to allow him (my husband) to hear the words of the reading AND the homily. Then I tried to divide my attention between the children, Mass, & my husband’s demeanor; therefore I completely forgot about the revelation during Mass. Later at home, amid the chaos that is life with a 3 year old & 21 month old, my husband said something about it being funny that the reading at Mass was exactly what we’d talked about. Again, I internally fist pumped & bumped the Holy Spirit, but kept my answer non-chalant & brief.

That got me to thinking. Who am I that God should listen to my all-too brief prayers? Who am I that others should look at me & find encouragement, inspiration, and happiness? Who am I that God has blessed me with the family (and friends) I have? Who am I that God has given the struggles to overcome and therefore become an inspiration to others around me. The answer is, basically, I am who God made me.

It is often bandied about that God works in mysterious ways and that if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans. Well, I am the personification of the latter of these as well as the former (but mostly the latter). Too often I get caught up in the little things and forget or dismiss my prayer-life, the sacraments, or the blessings that I have been given. To be honest, sometimes the struggles God has given me are actually the biggest blessings I have. Obviously, I don’t see that at the time, but upon reflection later (sometimes MUCH MUCH MUCH later) my struggles have been times when I have developed certain traits that make me a better person. This better person  God is molding is who He wants me to be. The comfortable, vague-minded, obsessive, defiant, anxious person is the anthema of God’s plan for me.  It is up to me, and EVERYONE, to become the person God means us to be through His means, not our own.