Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bargaining with God

I've done it many times - I'm sure you have too -- praying that if the Lord would do XYZ in our life then we would do ABC.

When I was experiencing my infertility issues in my early 20's - I can remember each month begging the Lord to "let this be the month" and promising the Lord all kinds of things if it could only be true.  I look back at it now and can see my lack of faith - of trusting the Lord for he can see the "big picture" and that I was only caught up in my immediate pain.

While going to all the doctors trying to overcome my infertility - it came to light that while my mother was pregnant with me (in the late 1950's) she took a drug (diethylstilbestrol - known as DES) to help with stopping miscarrying me.  She had had 4 miscarriages before me.  And she trusted her doctors and believed that this drug was good and would help her carry me to full term.  What she did not know is the lasting effects that that drug would have on my health and fertility.  I recently started doing more reading on the drug - I had known it was the cause of my infertility - but did not have a clue on what other effects it had on me.

With the revelations I had learned, I found myself asking the Lord once again - why did you not just let me still get pregnant - all things are possible - and I had read of other DES daughters still being able to conceive - though having troubled pregnancies.   And the Lord showed me, that this drug would have effected the lives of my daughters and possibly granddaughters - and that I would not have been able to survive the gut wrenching guilt and pain of it.  That took my breath away.  Yes, I had gone through much pain when I was young and trying to conceive - but Jesus could see the future and was guarding my heart from something an even greater pain - the knowledge that I had passed on this infirmity to others.

I think when we are going through troubles - yes, we need to reach out to the Lord and ask for help - but we should stop all the bargaining.  The Father has a plan for our lives, and he is perfectly capable to work around the evils of this world to see his will come to pass.  And we need to learn to trust in His plan - His will.  Our prayers should be one of praying for graces to help us work through our problems - not for them to magically go away.  I am thankful he put a wonderful Catholic doctor in my life at that time who said that it may be time to look at other options and being an adoptive father himself - he shared with me the beauties of adopting a child.  This conversation lead my husband and myself on a whole new path and within in a year we adopted a 7 year old son who need our love so desperately.

The pain of never birthing a child lingered with me for years - but the Lord have me the graces to put them aside and to rejoice the love of our son and grandchildren.

Trusting in God is a must for us and one of faith.  My prayers for myself and you is that our faith may continue to grow - our love of God consumes our heart and the peace of knowing we are walking this world with him at our side.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

O Breathe on Me

O breathe on me, O breath of God,

Fill me with life anew,
That I may love the things you love,
And do what you would do.

O breathe on me, O breath of God,
Until my heart is pure,
Until my will is one with yours,
To do and to endure.

O breathe on me, O breath of God,
My will to yours incline,
Until this selfish part of me,
Glows with your fire divine.

O breathe on me, O breath of God,
So shall I never die,
But live with you the perfect life
Of your eternity.

                                                                                                 ~~Edwin Hatch
                                                                                                     1835 - 1889
                                                                                                     Public domain

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Purpose in the Journey

Have you ever been at a point in your life you just ask God "What in the world is going on here - why am I having to go through this (fill in the blank)?"  Life is storming all around you - the waves are high and are threatening your life. I can assure you I definitely have.

We all have those issues which at the time feel like they will break us - for me, there have been so many --- not being able to conceive a child, going through a lengthy adoption process, a break-up of a marriage, financial issues, medical issues, death of a parent and another in deteriorating health; and the list goes on.  I can remember each time I would ask God "why is this happening - what have I done - what is the purpose of this drama - how am I to survive this?"  It can feel like your whole life has been attacked, and your journey has been stalled - turned upside down and inside out, and there isn't any way you can see that will move you out of it.  But then a ray of light will shine and  a path will open - one you did not see before, perhaps you can only see the first couple of steps, but you are drawn to it and it takes courage and strength to put one foot in front of the other.

I believe that all the challenges we go through in life, is part of a greater journey - and though we do not see the end, and we cannot understand what meaning there is in the steps we take - there is a greater plan - God's will versus our own will.  It makes me think of the old adage "it is the journey, not the destination."

Our journey may take us up hill and down - to the highest mountain tops and into deepest valleys.  Have you noticed that we grow closer to God in the valleys of our lives?  It is when all human ability is for not - and only the grace of God can save us.  Faith is found in those valleys - love and mercy are there too.

Christ calls us to trust - trust in him even when the storm surges all around us; when we are in the deepest darkest valleys.  It reminds me of when Jesus and the disciples were in the boat and a storm blew in tossing them about - the disciples were so afraid that they would capsize and drown, but Jesus was calmly sleeping through it.  And in their distress, the disciples woke Jesus - who rebuked the storm and calmed the waves.  And even though Jesus chastised them for their lack of faith - it tells me that even when all life is storming around you and your faith is not strong - simply turning to Jesus will help to calm the waves and will help your faith to grow.

Turning to Christ each day, even though the storm is growing around you - also grows your faith - and opens you up to the Lord's mercy.  Mercy is what will save us - and mercy can be found in every storm or dark valley we travel through.

Today I choose to not allow the storm to take my focus off of what is most important - I pray the same for you.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Touching Jesus

Growing up I was not much of a hugger - perhaps that is because my parents were not huggers.  This in no way affected how much I loved others - I just was uncomfortable with the physical touch.  But as I grew older, I've found I'm much more ready to give someone a hug - as long as I know them - hugging strangers - I'm not there yet.

As humans, touch is important to us - studies have shown that human touch is needed for our development.  They have new moms being mindful for their babies to have skin on skin contact.  And, it's important for the touch to be not necessarily planned, but intentional. 

So, what does that have to do with touching Jesus?  We cannot physically touch him - right?  I believe the answer is wrong - we can touch Jesus - but as with human touch - that touch needs to be intentional. 

We go through life bumping into people all the time at the grocery store, or trying to get through a busy hallway at work. I'm such a klutz that I can bump into someone even if we are the only two people in the  Bumping into others - don't really count as touching - touch is reaching out to show love or concern for another person -- it is something personal.

My question is, how many times have I just bumped into Jesus?  We can go through our day -perhaps mindlessly pray (such as saying grace before our meal - it's automatic without much thought), Or pwe don't recognize a blessing we received; or even allowing the business of our life to simple take priority.  I know I'm guilty of all of them at one time or another - and sometimes all three at once.

Encountering the Lord - it is intentional, it must be purposely done.  Just as the women who reached out to touch Jesus' garment to stop her flow of blood.  The crowd was bumping into Jesus - crowding him - none of them were healed, but the women - reached out with intention - she knew in her heart that she only needed to touch the hem of his garment to be healed - her touch was one of faith.  Jesus stopped and asked who touched him - the disciples thought it was a crazy question given the crowd - but you see - they (the crowd) were not touching him they were just mindlessly going along bumping into him.  Jesus' wanted the women to not only have physically healing, but spiritual too which is why he asked "who touched me."

Today my prayer is for you and me to be more mindful of opportunities to touch Jesus;  And, I pray that we all may have a better understanding of the healing power of Jesus' touching us too.

Tuesday, April 30, 2019

What type of Dirt are you?

I have a question -- "what type of dirt are you?"  No, this is not a Facebook poll.

I just read the parable of the seeds sowed on four types of dirt - the hard path, the rocky soil, among thorns, and the fertile soil.

So, what type of dirt am I?  I believe it goes with how things are any given day or time for me..  I know I've been the thorny soil for many years in my life -- this is the soil where we allow the everyday items to chock out my faith.  It's easy to do - we can get so caught up with a busy schedule, with what society says, and such.  Faith can easily be put on a back burner. 

Many years ago, my home was filled with lovely items (it still is, but this goes better with my story - so friends, don't call me out.)  Some of the items belonged to my mother and grandmothers, others were gifts, and most were items I saw in the store and I just knew they would look cute in my home.  But one day I came to realized that among all my items on display, I had nothing which spoke of my faith.  I did have a crucifix in my bedroom - but no where else in my home.  When people came to my home, they thought it was nice, but it did not really speak of my deeper self - my faith.

A few years later, when I was finishing my undergrad, Art was in my last semester - the assignment was to have a picture taken of us (this was before selfies were a thing) set with items that spoke of who we were.  I had a stack of my college books closed and turned upside down to say I was finished - I was look to my right to as to be looking to the future and in the background a crucifix with a red rose (St. Therese') was hanging on the wall.  I now look at that picture and can see - that yes my faith was there, but it was in the background of my life.

Today I still have the crucifix in my bedroom, but now also in my main living area along with a picture and statue of St. Therese'.  I find myself looking at both each day - sometime absentmindedly -  others with a purpose.  The crucifix reminds me how great God's love is for us and my statue and picture of St. Therese' reminds me to ask for prayer - for myself, my family but also for this world.  And I would hope/believe if I was taking that picture today, an item representing my faith would be in the foreground.

So, what type of dirt am I?  Jesus explained the parable as such for his disciples.  The seeds are the word of God; the hard path is those who hear the word, but are not open to it - the seeds fall and cannot grow - then birds (Satan) comes and snatch the seed away;  the rocky soil has just a little dirt - when the seed falls here it can start to grow, but cannot grow deep roots because of all the rocks which represent underlying problems such as hardened hearts - when trouble comes - drought, winds, torrential rainfall  - which we all know it does - the seed quickly dies; the thorny grounds allows the seed to start to grow, but then quickly chocks it out - and these are all the trappings of our life; and the fertile grounds - that is when the seed falls and grow and produces a great amount of fruit.

There is one important point - we must choose what type of soil we are and we must choose to receive the seed.  As with the seed - we must choose to hear and receive the word of God.  If we just listen without an open heart and ready to learn it's deeper meaning and to allow it to change our lives - the word will not grow with in us.  Spending quiet time pondering God's word is a good thing - it is allowing that seed to grow deeper roots.

Life is not always easy - storms come through out lives and can challenge our faith.  We can find ourselves is situations where we have no idea of what to do.  These are the times if that seed has grown deep roots we can lean on it - we can know we are not alone and God is there to help us through the storm - if we simple open our hearts to it.

So, what type of dirt are you?  I pray you will allow God's words speak to your heart and that you will be open to receiving it.  I pray that your seed will grow deep roots and be strong when trouble blows.  The one blessed thing is that God allows us to change - he allows us to develop into better dirt. 

Lovely things in my home is fine - but it's not the most important when it comes to my faith.  My type of dirt changes, sometimes I may even go backwards
, but other's I move forward - life is not perfect - we are human - but the love of God is always there for us if we choose it.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Back to the Garden

In my Lenten Reading (The Last hours of Jesus by Fr. Ralph Gorman)  there is entire chapter on the Garden of Gethsemane.  Father takes us through Jesus’ prayer – his plead with the Father to remove this cup – his fight with his will versus the father’s – so much so he sweated blood. 

Early Christians was scandalized by Jesus’ agony – they felt since he was the Christ – there should not have been any issue.  But we need to remember – yes he was divine, but he was also fully human.

As I was praying and reflecting on Jesus’ agony – my husband was listening to the radio and a song came on by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young “Woodstock” – I find it fascinating how God can speak to us. 

When the song got to the lyrics of “and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the Garden” it hit me – like a ton of bricks.  That the Garden of Gethsemane is the new Garden of Eden.

We all know the story of Eve and her fall from grace when she ate from the “Tree of Life” because she believed what the serpent told her.  She followed her own will to be equal to God – and not God’s will who told her she could eat of any of the trees except the “Tree of Life.”  Here in Gethsemane we see Jesus (who is actually equal to God for he is God) struggle with bringing his will in line with the Father’s will.  Yes it was hard – agony – but he overcame his human nature to do as the Father has asked of him.

So I asked the Lord, what does this all mean? What am I to do with it?  For one – it shows us that it’s ok to ask God to take our struggles – but be prepared – the answer just might be “no.”  Jesus showed us that we may have to work to bring our will into line with God – to let go of what we want and follow what God wants.  The Lord understands our human nature is to protect ourselves – but Jesus has shown us we can overcome that nature.  We all have that moment in time when we are faced with a situation that goes against our will - something that it might be so easy to run from and hide - hoping it will just go away - but with Christ's example we know we can face anything and follow what the Lord is asking of us.

Holy Thursday is less than two weeks away – I can say with all honesty – I will see Jesus’ agony in the garden with new light and a new heart.  I am still struggling to let go of my will – it may take me a lifetime to do it.  But with Jesus’ help and the graces he has blessed me with – I am working to “get myself back to the garden.”

Monday, March 18, 2019

Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes Oh My!

For Lent I had decided to read The Last Hours of Jesus by Fr. Ralph Gorman (you can find it here on Amazon).  I had read it last year - but had found it late into Lent, so did so very quickly.  It is a great book, and I highly recommend it.

The author takes the four Gospels and merge them together to get a good picture of Jesus' last hours with great background information.  This year I decided to read it again, but a little slower to get a true grasp of what what going on.  The first was his descriptions of the Pharisees, Sadducees and Scribes.  I've heard of these groups all my life, but never took the time to really learn who they were and just why they had such a problem with Jesus.  So, as I read, I began listing the items the authored had wrote on each group, and as I did, a picture of who they were came to light.

Let's start with the Sadducees.  We really don't hear much about them until Jesus turns over the money changer's tables in the temple (which would have been the day after he rode into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey.)  Most of the Priests were Sadducees.  They performed the rituals and sacrificial functions reserved exclusively to the priesthood.  They completely rejected the oral traditions of the Pharisees.  And they did not believe in:  the providence of God, the existence of spirits, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection, future retribution or in the Messiah.  Their main efforts were directed to providing a cushion of riches and honors against possible adversity.  All the sacrifices the people brought to the temple, went to the Priests which they kept and used for themselves.

The people looked to the Sadducees as political leaders who administered civil and criminal law.  They were the ones who represented the Jewish population with the Romans.

So, why did they have a problem with Jesus?  Well let's start with the big issue - the money changers in the temple - the priest received a cut of the profit the money changers received and Jesus throwing them out hit the Sadducees right in the pocketbook.  Jesus also taught on everything they did not believe it - the Kingdom of God, eternal life, of the judgement of God of our sins and so on.  And though they did not approve of the Pharisees teaching - they joined forces with them against Jesus for fear of what they could loose if the people began following Jesus' teaching.

Next is the Pharisees.  Pharisees were separatist - they kept themselves away from anything that might render them impure and avoid all contact with non-Pharisees because they considered them unclean and almost as low as the pagans.  They did believe in Divine providence, free will, final retribution and the existence of angels and spirits.

We can see one but issue they had with Jesus - he walked, slept and ate with sinners - the "unclean" and had no problem with it.  This is the group Jesus called hypocrites for their enforcement of the law on people -  without concern of how it effect the people.  Remember Jesus' answer on the Sabbath "The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath." Even though they did not look highly of the Sadducees - they partnered with them to get rid of Jesus since the Sadducees administered the civil and criminal laws - they were the ones who could punish Jesus.

And last is the Scribes.  I will admit, I had no idea of who this group really was - I had always pictured them as the ones sitting by the Pharisees writing down everything they said.  But this is not true.  Scribes were the most learner-ed of the three.  Most scribes were Pharisees and trained in the knowledge of the law.  They developed extreme complex and detailed oral law (remember Sadducees rejected these laws) that theoretically, expounded and applied the Torah.  They taught/believed the Messiah was a mere man, whatever his gifts and office, his mission had nothing to do with supernatural benefits or the salvation of souls - his sole purpose, as far as they were concerned, was the delivery of Israel and the conquest of the Gentiles.  Scribes formed a closed circle with their own schools, their own disciples, their own doctrines and teaching methods.  These circles built up a "self-cult" that passed beliefs.  They demanded complete reverence and obedience from the pupils.  The author uses the example that if a student's father and teacher were both ill - the student was required to tend to the needs of their teacher before helping their father.

Jesus had not attended one of the Scribe's schools - yet he taught with such authority.  The people began calling him the Messiah - but Jesus was talking about loving your enemy. that he came to save souls from sin and at times (brace yourself) he associated with Gentiles.

The people looked to the Pharisees and Scribes for the teaching and example that would indicate what they were to believe and the way in which they were to live their lives.. 

So all together - Jesus was a threat to one big thing - POWER.  If the people began believing in what Jesus taught - the Sadducees, Pharisees and Scribes would loose their power over the people.  Jesus was basically challenging their way of living - and neither of the groups were going to have anything to do with that.  Putting Jesus to death would be their only answer - for just locking him up, his teaching could continue and would continue to be a threat to them.

Bargaining with God

I've done it many times - I'm sure you have too -- praying that if the Lord would do XYZ in our life then we would do ABC. When I ...