Friday, May 19, 2017

Because He Chose Me


“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.” John 15: 16-17

So during my journey in healing, I was comforted in reading St Faustina’s diary. I don’t even know how that came about, but I’m certain God had a play in leading me to St Faustina, finding out more about her, and then the desire to read her amazing diary. One night during my nightly devotional reading, I read that God directed St Faustina to read John 15 when she questioned her suffering. I made a mental note that the next day I must read John 15…what is in this gospel that God wanted St Faustina to remember…and ultimately was wanting me to know.

So the next day, I open my Bible and I remember that I need to read John 15…and low and behold…my answer. Why did I suffer…God needed me to…and although I didn’t choose him (I wasn’t a real practicing Catholic prior to this)…but that He chose me. That night…when I said I can’t do this anymore…and then I felt him hold my arm and say, I am going to get you through this, take My hand….then the days, weeks, months following that in which He led me to reading my Bible and learning everyday what I am here to do. To love one another.

In the last year, it was nearly as if scales fell from my eyes (just like Saul in Acts 9) and I began to view the world in a whole new light. I became thankful for everything around me…thankful to just be. I began to see the people around me as God’s children and not as another person interrupting me…and I began to understand life in a whole new way.  A purpose in being a disciple of our Lord and living life working for His kingdom. Opening my heart to let God’s love shine in on me so that I can allow it to shine on others around me. My previous self-focused life that put me into a sort of prison…was being broken. Everything I knew (or thought I knew) was changed….but changed for good. The things that I wished I had (friendships, sense of belonging, happiness)…were being given to me.

And I will say…it wasn’t easy…it still isn’t easy. Every day I still battle that previous self-focused life. I battle the enemy trying his hardest to stop me, telling me I’m going to fail or trying to put fear in my head…but every day I also get stronger. God gives me the strength to get through the day, increase my faith, and learn to live life loving others as God loves me.

All because He. Chose. Me.

 

 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Working for the Good


And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

So I have come to recognize God’s way of sending me messages. Before, my eyes were never fully opened and received the gifts He was trying to give me, but now when I see something or hear something several times within a few days…I know that’s God saying, “Hey, it’s me…listen up”. So today’s message comes from Romans 8:28. On my morning routine, I’m listening to Victoria Osteen’s show and I hear her mention Romans 8:28 to a caller. I drop my kiddos off at school and as I’m heading to work another caller calls in and gives his testimony about how he was an alcoholic and drug addict and got word that he had cancer requiring chemo. As he is in chemo, he meets many people that lead Him to God, including one individual who told him to read Romans 8:28. So I key in and think…wow – same scripture twice on the way to work. I get in to work and check my daily Catholic devotion that says “The first thing you discover when you really encounter God is that God wants good things for you.” Ok…so I know now, not a coincidence that I hear the message that many times in a matter of an hour.

God is saying to me to Trust Him. He is working for the good…even during those moments when we don’t feel that God is with us. He is ALWAYS with us and wants us to know that He only wants good things for us. So as bad as a cross may be for you at this moment in time, know…trust…that God is working for the good. This may be a rough season for you, but know that there is light ahead and when you get through…God is going to bear you much fruit…more than anything you can ever imagine. Just keep trusting and knowing that He has called you for a purpose and that He is working for the good.

I don’t know where this blog is going…but I know that when I get a strong message, He wants me to remember it and share it. Ironically, I have a notepad in my purse full of Bible Scriptures that I want to remember…and this one never stuck out at me before…it’s in there now.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Resisting the Enemy

So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.
Cast all your worries upon him because he cares for you.

Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion
looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your brothers and sisters throughout the world undergo the same sufferings.


The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ Jesus
will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.
To him be dominion forever. Amen. 1 Pt 5:5B-14


Today's reading comes on the Feast of St. Mark, evangelist, and points out something I was just discussing a few days before about how the enemy is prowling around looking for someone to devour. This could be through someone's rude comment or the thoughts that sit in your mind telling you that you can't do something or you aren't smart enough or you will never get better. This unending battle that the enemy is putting on us. And how do we resist this...by remaining steadfast in faith. Asking God to give us the grace to fight the battle against the enemy.

The enemy wants to see us fail, especially the closer we become with God. We become a bigger threat to him as he knows that we are guiding others closer to God...and winning the battle.

We must trust that God will restore us, confirm us, strengthen us, and establish us after we have suffered. God understands our suffering and is with us in the battle...guiding us, and giving us the grace that we need to get through....then on the other side, we see His glory as he leads us down our most perfect path.

This past weekend, I participated in my first Eucharistic Adoration...something I have been longing to do for quite some time. The main reason was for the Feast of the Divine Mercy. I had been led to read St. Faustina's Diary for the past six months, and ironically (probably not) I finished it on the first day of the Divine Mercy Novena. So my church offered a special adoration along with devotion to the Divine Mercy. I wasn't sure what to expect in adoration, but knew that if I just prayed to God, he would lead me. I started out with the rosary and then said a few prayers (St. Michael, family prayers) and then just listened to what He had to say. I can say it was one of the most peaceful moments I have had. Just me and Christ together having a conversation. It amazes me how God works everyday in my life and how I witness His good works all around me. I am thankful for my quiet time with the Lord this weekend and look forward to many more adorations in my future.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Trust in the Slow Work of God

James 5:7-8 “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.  You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”

So last night I was listening to 1320AM and the message was about being patient and waiting for God’s work. That if we simply asked and got what we wanted immediately all the time, what would we learn. How would that bring us truly closer to God. How would that create the close relationship that God wants to have with each of us.

So then today, I’m listening to an old Hallie Weekly podcast and ironically it’s on the same topic….so I know God wants me to hear this and pay attention. The podcast shared a poem by Pierre Chardin “Trust in the Slow Work of God”, which I decided to share below.
My journey over the past year has been a slow one of healing, but during this time, I have felt closer to God than ever before. I know this journey is a gift that He is giving to me as I watch Him continuously shower me with love and mercy. He is allowing me to be still and listen to Him while allowing Him to open my heart and shine His light within me.

Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything
to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way
to something unknown, something new.
Yet it is the law of all progress that is made
by passing through some stages of instability
and that may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually. Let them grow.
Let them shape themselves without undue haste.
Do not try to force them on
as though you could be today what time
-- that is to say, grace --
and circumstances
-- acting on your own good will --
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new Spirit
gradually forming in you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself
in suspense and incomplete.
Above all, trust in the slow work of God,
our loving vine-dresser. Amen.

 

Friday, April 7, 2017

So why the blog…

“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (Jas 1:12)

So I start the blog and then stop. I can’t do this, I don’t have anything to say…but there’s the problem. I do have something to say and it’s something I feel compelled by the Lord to tell….and not because it’s My Story…it’s His story within me. So here goes…
I grew up as a cradle Catholic. I went to a Catholic grade school and therefore, knew about Jesus, the sacraments, and some of the liturgical year…but I don’t really remember much more than that. I drifted from my religion and my faith in my high school and college years only to attend mass for “C&E” (otherwise known as Christmas and Easter). I believed in God and would pray when times were tough or my little memorized prayer that I quickly said as a child to watch over me…but nothing really more than that. I continued down this path and did join my parish after I got married, in which I did start going a little more than C&E, but not much. I really didn’t think about it much more than that. I knew when we had children, I wanted them to follow my religion as I was the only semi-practicing and had them baptized into the Catholic church. When it came time for school, for some reason I pushed my kids to go to the Catholic school as well. The main reason was because I came from a small farm town with 13 kids in my grade school class and was terrified of having my baby enter this huge school and become lost in the mix of all the kids. And…because I wanted her to follow God and knew the school would teach her what I didn’t know or couldn’t.

As for my personality, as St John Vianney would cite it, I was only “Christian in name”. I loved pleasure, sought comfort, flew from anything that might spell suffering or was risky, was over-anxious about the small stuff, complained often, and became incredibly impatient when things didn’t go my way. I put work at the top of my priorities often at times and always strived for pure perfection. Being the perfect worker, perfect mommy, and overall just getting things done my way. I strived to quickly move up the ladder at my company and become very successful…which I did! I was a great mommy and wife, but was just exhausted in my strive for perfection.

So my real story (His story) started a year ago - I was on a trip with girlfriends to run a half marathon at Disney. At the time, my company was going through a merger, friends were getting laid off, and I had a major proposal about to drop any minute in which I was to manage. We were also in the midst of putting our first house we've ever lived in as a family on the market as we grew out of it. Needless to say...I had a lot of stress going on. Back to Disney...first night, I couldn't sleep and out of nowhere anxiety set in. I had my first panic attack there at night by myself worrying about not sleeping and what was going on. I went all nights with little sleep. I've never had an issue sleeping in my life, so this was very scary. When I got home, I thought I'd be better, but it got worse, the anxiety, the sleeplessness, the fear. I ended up going to the Dr who put me on sleeping meds...then anxiety meds, which all seemed to make me worse. I wasn't eating or sleeping and lost nearly 15 pounds in weeks. I was in the middle of a nervous breakdown and had no idea how to escape or what was even happening to me. I realized the medicine made me worse and I made it my goal to wean off them and slowly ease back to normal life, which slowly started to happen, but then I relapsed as my mind panicked again. I went another few months living every day in fear, panic attacks, and little sleep...all centered around not sleeping and why am I not getting better. Then, one night I was trying meditation and coming up with a mantra to help and the only mantra I could come up with was "Kyrie Eleison" (Latin for Lord Have Mercy) as this was something I memorized as a child. As I'm saying it over and over and praying for God to release me, I felt His hand on my shoulder and He said "Hold My Hand, and I will get you through this" and I suddenly felt this warmth in my body and churning in my brain felt as though it was flowing freely. I immediately stopped having panic and had an immense sense of peace. His reach for me didn’t end there…God continued to reach me in the days/weeks after and spoke to me and showed me a way to heal….He showed me the Bible and told me to read it every day…led me to faith groups at my work, led me to a women’s bible study (which I finally attended)…and is slowly healing my mind. He givees me peace and comfort in knowing that He is with me at all times.

Amazingly, during all of this, He was lifting the layers off my eyes. I was seeing the world in a whole new light. I was starting to see blessings all around me that I didn’t see before and wanted to learn as much as I could. This journey has been so amazing to me that I wanted to capture it…and journaled the blessings as I saw them. I am starting this blog to help capture my transformation…and maybe help others that struggle with being “Christian only in name” or struggle with anxiety…or just want to ignite their faith.



 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Our Perfect Race

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us." (Hebrews 12:1)
 
My 4-year old son was running with me one chilly Saturday morning in our running club. As the group starts the race, my son and I started out sprinting and getting ahead of the pack as quick as we could. I followed his lead as he takes off. We get ahead quickly, breathing in the crisp winter air with little focus on anything around us but the road ahead. We were winning.

Slowly, we start losing steam as the cold brittle air starts to fill our lungs making it harder to breathe. We start falling farther and farther to the back of the pack. As we slow down, he starts to notice the rocks and twigs along the road and bends over to pick a few of the biggest and coolest rocks up. Come on I say, let’s go we don’t have much further to go. I can see his happiness grow as his contagious smile spreads across his face.  His focus becomes centered around his surroundings and less on the road ahead. And as everyone starts passing us, he says "slow and steady wins the race".

And he is right. It's not about how fast or how far you go in your race, how quickly you move up the corporate ladder, what you wear, or how many people like you. It's not about getting ahead of everyone else with the only focus on the road ahead of you. If you do make that your focus, you may find yourself alone. You will be ahead, but as you were traveling, as you were running your own race, you may have failed to see the gifts that surrounded you. The smiles from strangers, the doves that sing for you in the morning, the I love you’s as you rush out the door. Your race is knowing that God is with you and being patient, taking one day at a time, letting Him guide you. Knowing that He is with you and holding your hand.

God has given each one of us a story, a race that He created before we were even born. A race that may have many turns, uphill battles and downhill slides. When we lose sight of God and try to run our race on our own, the hills become more steep and the air becomes heavier. Worry, fear, and stress begin to settle in as we lose control of the race we set for ourselves making it difficult to see the light through all the clouds.

As I ran my race, I ran with limited vision. I charged forward putting one foot in front of the other as I was in control. When something didn’t happen according to my plan, I would freak out. Panic would set in…what am going to do. I couldn’t see beyond my own circumstance, my hill was quickly forming into a mountain. When my anxiety and insomnia set in, that was exactly what I did…panicked. I fought against it because this wasn’t something I planned for. I never planned to be crippled by anxiety that stopped me deep in my tracks.  And the more I fought, the worse it got. My hills became my mountains.

Over the months, I learned that this was in the plan for me all along. God knew this was part of my path. And it was up to me to find him and ask for his mercy. Ask that He carry me and my cross as I couldn’t carry this on my own. I couldn’t do this alone. No medicine or doctor could give me the comfort or strength that God could.

When the hills become too steep, consider everything a joy, knowing that your faith forms patience, which brings work to the perfection that God has planned in each one of us. (James 1:2-4) Our faith and trust in the Lord enables us to endure those hills without the bitterness, to carry on when life stops us in our tracks, and give us the strength to move along our path.

When we Let God lead us down His most perfect path and trust in Him to guide us, we run our race with Him holding our hand. We begin to let go of the pressures that the world we live in surrounds us with. The pressures that constantly weigh us down to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, the perfect friend...all while being successful. We let God carry our cross for us when it gets too heavy, when the pain is too much for us to handle on our own. We lay these pressures aside and are patient knowing that God has the most perfect race for each one of us and that we are enough.

I asked my son where he heard that phrase and he says it came from a hot wheels cartoon. It didn't really matter where it came from, but the message was clear in his big brown eyes. He was content with slowing down and picking up the rocks when it got too hard to breathe.  Because it didn't matter who won the race. It mattered that he was a part of the race with those that love him holding his hand.

This is the beginning of my blog to capture the transformation in my spiritual journey as God leads my race.