Monday, March 26, 2012

Moving Target

Women of Faith:
Just as the sun moved it’s time of day yesterday morning, I felt like my target for “life” moved right along with the time of day.

While last week I felt energized, refreshed and as if I had met my goals, this week I feel as if my target somehow moved just out of sight, out of my reach and as if I don’t quite know how to get there.

Some of it had to do with work goals—March 1st is almost as big as April 15th; some of it had to do with being off of work last weekend; but most of it really had to do with wanting to feel the Holy Spirit as I did last weekend and the Spirit feels just beyond my reach.

I thought I did everything “right” last week—I said daily prayers for all those I know, and don’t know, with illnesses and problems much bigger than my own. I went to mass on Friday and was blessed to be able to say the Stations of the Cross with a family who knows the meaning of being a family. Stan took me on a date and I got to feel the warmth of friends who were excited to see us. And I was blessed with the technology of Skype to see Sara and wish Karolina a happy 2nd birthday.

“Now consider the movie of life ….

“GOD creates the world. (Were you alive then? Was GOD talking to you when he proclaimed, “It is good”)..

“The people rebel against GOD (who if you haven’t realized it yet, is the main character in this movie), and GOD floods the earth to rid it of the mess people made of it.” Crazy Love by Francis Chan

Oops—I realize my first mistake—Life isn’t about me, it’s about God.

The “target” is getting easier to see.

“Several generations later, GOD singles out a ninety-year old man called Abraham and makes him the father of a nation (did you have anything to do with this?).

“Later along come Joseph and Moses and many other ordinary and inadequate people that the movie is also NOT about. GOD is the one who picks them and directs them and works miracles among them.

“In the next scene, GOD sends judges and prophets to HIS nation because the people can’t seem to give Him the one thing He asks of them (obedience).” Continuation Crazy Love

2nd mistake—I looked at “what” I did—not how I have sinned and what I need to do better.

“And then, the climax: The SON of GOD is born among the people whom GOD still somehow loves. While in this world, the SON teaches His followers what true love looks like. Then the Son of GOD dies and is resurrected and goes back up to be with GOD.

“And even though the movie isn’t quite finished yet, we know what the last scene holds. It’s the scene I already described …the throne room of GOD. Here EVERY being worships GOD who sits on the throne, for He alone is worthy to be praised.” Continuation Crazy Love

Oh—I can see my target once again—GOD in heaven ….. I guess my target really didn’t move. I just lost sight of it for a little while. I guess there were too many clouds: clouds of selfishness, distraction, and busyness.

“From start to finish, this movie is obviously about God. He is the main character. How is it possible we live as though it is about us? Our scenes in the movie, our brief lives, fall somewhere between the time Jesus ascends into heaven (Acts) and when we will all worship God on his throne in heaven (Revelation).

“We have only our two-fifths of a second long scene to live. I don’t know about you, but I want my two-fifths of a second to be about MY making MUCH of GOD. 1Cor 10:31 says, “So whatever you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” That is what each of our two-fifths of a second is about.” Continuation Crazy Love

So whether “life” (my circumstances in it) is “good or bad” by my standards this week; whether I walk in the shadow or can see brilliant sunlight (SONlight)—it isn’t all about me, it’s all about GOD. And the target really hasn’t moved, it is just challenging me to DO more, BE more and LOVE more… to be MORE like Jesus who was sent by God to be His example of how to live as humans.

Heavenly Father: I sing the glory of your praises for the creation you have given us. Thank you for Stan, our children, our friends, your grace in our faith and the abundance of our lives. Help us always to be humbled to remember that many of your children have much less physically, but that spiritually we are all created equally in YOUR love. Please keep your target for all of us firmly in our sight. Amen.

If you think your target moved—it didn’t. GOD is always with us: loving us and forgiving us by granting us His mercy and raining grace upon us.

It is only a new week, a new circumstance, a new day – our two-fifths of a second in which we are asked to show GOD that we are all about serving Him, loving Him, and forgiving others as He does for us.

Keep your eyes and heart fixed on the last scene, the heavenly target: peace and unity with God,

Monday, March 19, 2012

Your age

Women of Faith:
Aren’t there times when you would like to change your age?

When you are 5, you want to be 15; when you’re 15, you want to be 25; when you’re 20, you want to be 30; when you are/were 35 you want/ed to be 55 (retirement) and when you’re 50 plus we wish we could be young (30ish) again.

We’ve all heard the saying, “Act Your age!”

And what’s the perfect age? Many would say—“just not the age I am.”
Infants and young children—dependent upon their parents, trust and mimic those around them. They love unconditionally and say I’m sorry easily. This is where we learn to trust, who and how to love and the value of our being. They see “me” as a “we” because “I” still depend on someone for my basic needs to survive.

Teenagers—question everything, seek the truth, and search for proof of that truth. They love change and new ideas to test their boundaries. Life never seems fair, but deep down they still want someone to show them they care—by setting boundaries so that they can avoid making their own mistakes. They are learning to blame someone else for their decisions, although they would never admit that to anyone. And they test those boundaries to see if they are real—to see if they are “true love.” While our blinders see them saying “me, me, me” they are really looking at “you, you, you” to see how “we” should be.

Young adults—I am of age. I can make my own decisions and I want to know how those decisions will benefit me. It becomes more important “to be loved” than “to love.” It becomes more about “I” than “you” or “we.”

Maturing adults— as we age, have more relationships and are given more opportunities—we also bear more hurt, more suffering, and more unforgiveness. We tend to become callused, unforgiving, prideful and/or angry and more cynical of what life has to offer. We can become less tolerant, more judgmental and have less patience for others wrongdoings.

It is more difficult to say “I’m sorry” and remember to walk in another person’s shoes. It is difficult to look at our lives from the perspective of another person. It is difficult to admit doing wrong and to take blame for our own choices and actions. We feel more like we deserve “something” in return for what we do or have done and we tend to want to blame others for our mistakes. It becomes more difficult to change our habits.

"Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,* you will not enter the kingdom of heaven."
Mt 18:3 Are we willing to become like little children, to trust, to obey, to accept, to love and to depend on God?

"I will place my law within them and write it upon their hearts; I will be their God, and they shall be my people. No longer will they have need to teach their friends and relatives how to know the LORD. All, from least to greatest, shall know me, says the LORD, for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more." Jer 31: 33-34

Like a teenager are we willing to seek the truth and to write it on our hearts? Are we willing to let God be our God and to teach our friends his way without being fearful of societies judgment? Or do we still struggle on a path of our own and suffer the pains of prideful choices without benefit of God’s guidance?

"Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me". Jn 12:20-33

"Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered; and when he was made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him." Heb 5:8-9

How often must we test the boundaries to see that the real boundary is God’s commandment to love one another, that true boundaries give us real freedom from sin?

Heavenly Father, blessed are your children for they glorify your name. Help me to become one of them. Help me to trust you as your child, to love as a child and to forgive like a child. Help me to depend on you for my daily needs and to be obedient to you. Amen.

May the heart of a child lead you on the “right” path,

Monday, March 12, 2012

How can you say no?

Women of Faith:
We all say we want the same thing—to end up in heaven—eternity--favor with God—final perseverance.

So then why is it that we have such a difficult time saying no to everyone else, to all the things we get asked to do each day, but yet when it comes to God’s two commandments we say no so many times?

God gives us just two main commandments that encompass all of the others: "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." Mk 12: 28-31

I used to think of final perseverance as “at death,” but I realize that I need the grace of final perseverance every time I make a choice on how to answer God’s call in my life—to apply these two commandments to all of the others: to have no other gods (entertainment, camping, sports); to not speak God’s name in vain (to speak untruths); to keep holy the Sabbath (choosing church before another god); or to not lie or kill with my words or actions (hurt someone with gossip, or put someone down). Do I have the grace to not say “no” to God and to keep living as His Spirit guides me?

The Crucifixion: the fifth sorrowful mystery of the rosary: the meditation refers to “final perseverance.” Father Mike referred to that “grace” yesterday in talking about who remained at the foot of the cross with Christ at the end—John, the youngest apostle—who was the only apostle who didn’t run away in fear of being persecuted; Mary Magdalene, the sinner who asked for forgiveness and was granted God’s mercy; and Mary, his mother, who never said “no” to God.

Mary’s grace: to say “yes” even when the choice means I will be looked down at by much of society—when I chose God on Sunday, instead of sleeping in or other entertainment; when I choose to promote “pro-life,” instead of “equality” and the right to choose; when I defend God’s plan for marriage one man, one woman and as a lifetime commitment—not equality and it’s too much work or he/she just isn’t treating me right.

Mary Magdalene’s grace: to ask and to give forgiveness unconditionally, 7x70, no matter how badly I have been hurt—Christ died for us, to forgive us, there was no blame of anyone for why He had to die on the cross. He could have “saved” himself, He could have walked away, He could have chosen to say no—but he didn’t!! He took the blame for all of our sins. Do we take the blame for our own? Do we accept the responsibility for when we haven’t loved God or our neighbor, our spouse or a family member enough?

John’s grace: to totally trust in God, like a child trust’s their parent to protect them, without fear of persecution, retaliation or condemnation. Do we trust God enough to tell a coach “no” and make a decision to prioritize God and church rather than the game on Sunday? Are we will be willing to accept whatever “punishment” is given to our child as a small sacrifice for God? Do we trust that we will be protected by God when we love unconditionally in our marriages? Are we ready to accept the sacrifice of serving our spouse even when they don’t seem to appreciate all we do for them?

Do you have Mary, Mary Magdalene’s and John’s grace to be at the foot of the cross? Do you say “no” to God by your choice to make something other than God your choice? Are you persevering in God’s commandments—to not put something else before God, to keep Holy the Sabbath, to not gossip, to not envy (keep up with the Jones’), and to not get angry when things don’t go your way?

Come, Holy Spirit, enkindle in me the fire of Your love. May Your grace help me persevere so that I will never say “no” to Our Heavenly Father. Thank you for all of those people in my life who serve as an example to me, because they lovingly accept their sufferings; because they completely trust Your will; and especially for those that love me unconditionally—even when I “mess up” or hurt them with my own choices. Amen.

Thorns in His head, Spear in His side, Yet it was a heartache, That made Him cry. He gave His life, So you would understand. Is there any way you could say no to this man?

If Christ Himself, Were standing here, With His face full of glory, And His eyes full of tears. And if He held out His arms, And His nail-printed hands, Is there any way you could say no to this man?

How could you look into His tear-stained eyes, Knowing that it's you He's thinking of? Could you tell Him you're not ready now, To give Him your life? Could you say that you don't think you need His love?

Jesus is here, With His arms open wide. You can see Him with your heart, If you'll stop looking with your eyes. He's left it up to you, He's done all that He can. Is there any way you could say no to this man? Words from “How can you say No” sung by Steve Angrinaso

My prayer this week is that none of you will say “no” to God—he is calling YOU!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Transfigured by a YES to God

Women of Faith:
Companions on a journey: part 2. The Women’s YES!!

I was privileged to observe miracles on a “mountain top with God” for the women who attended this weekend’s CEW retreat. Just as I observed last weekend at the men’s CEW, this weekend’s miracles of transformation happened because the women said “YES” to attending a CEW weekend which focused on God’s plan instead of their own.

“And he was transfigured before them, and his clothes become dazzling white.” Mk 9: 2-10 (The Transfiguration)

And through prayer and reflection--they were transfigured before me. Their smiles as they left CEW yesterday reflected the Spirit which was rained down, in abundance, upon them. Blessed by forgiveness they were able to truly open their hearts to the Lord.

We can all be blessed with those truly radiant smiles just by saying YES in our everyday WWJD choices. (God doesn’t say it requires a full weekend—he says it requires everyday!!)

The women were transformed because by giving their time to God, God gave them what he promises all of us: Freedom! They were able to give up their worries and their sins and replace it with the trust, the hope and the strength of His love. They were given the freedom to become one with him.

For many who answered YES to the retreat it was very much a commitment. As we live our normal, hectic lives, this choice may have seemed to be a great burden. Things like laundry, cooking and cleaning were left behind, abandoned, and probably stockpiled for their return home. They were asked to give up work, family commitments, children’s events, and social gatherings.

In yesterday’s gospel we see the ultimate burden when God asked Abraham to give up his only son, Isaac, as a sacrifice to him.

“God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, "Abraham!" "Here I am!" he replied. Then God said: "Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you."

“…Then he reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the LORD's messenger called to him from heaven, "Abraham, Abraham!" "Here I am!" he answered. "Do not lay your hand on the boy," said the messenger. "Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God, since you did not withhold from me your own beloved son."
“Again the LORD's messenger called to Abraham from heaven and said: "I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your beloved son, I will bless you abundantly …. You shall find blessing-all this because you obeyed my command."
Gen 22: 1-18

When we do not withhold ourselves from God, when we trust God completely, our burdens will be lifted, we will become free and God will bless us abundantly. We can then allow ourselves to become transfigured just as Christ was transfigured.

We are promised that we will be blessed by God, ABUNDANTLY.

“Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan's plea, defend the widow. Come now, let us set things right, says the LORD: Though your sins be like scarlet, they may become white as snow; Though they be crimson red, they may become white as wool. If you are willing, and obey, you shall eat the good things of the land; but if you refuse and resist, the sword shall consume you: for the mouth of the LORD has spoken! Is 1: 16-20

We are promised transformation thru a washing away of all of our sins--FORGIVENESS.

We are promised: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but handed him over for us all, how will he not also give us everything else along with him?” Rm 8: 31-32

We are promised eternal life.

But so many of us will say, “I don’t have the time to spend a whole weekend at a retreat, it’s too much of a burden.”

And I am reminded of Mother Theresa’s thoughts: “If I truly want something, I will make the time; if we do not choose to spend time with God, then God must not be our priority.”

Heavenly Father, I praise your transforming love in all of those who seek you and are my companions on this journey. May each of us make you our priority. Help us to choose wisely—in our friends, in our spending and in our commitments. Help us to choose life. Help us choose to spend time with you. Thank you for transforming each of us with your love to be better wives, better mothers, better daughters and better friends. Amen.

Will I say Yes to God? Will I put God first by praying daily? Will I be an example and make time to attend church with my family or do I give in and allow other events to get in the way of Sunday church services? Will I trust God enough to quit worrying about events and people I cannot control?

Will I love enough to forgive those who have done me wrong? Will I defend my faith by defending life?

Will I allow myself to be transfigured? What am I willing to give up for God?

May you be blessed abundantly because you answered “YES!” to God,