Monday, January 31, 2005

God Carefully Orders Our Steps

Tonight the angelbaby and I received a great lesson in how carefully God orders our steps. We were driving home after her trumpet lesson, and a Green SUV in front of us made a few erratic movements and then parked by the side of the street. We drove around it and continued on our way.

A few blocks down the street, I felt as though I needed to go in another direction and for some reason I turned right onto a one way street. It was as if I was on auto pilot. I turned left at a stop light and then left again at the next stop light, it was when I was back to the stop light a few blocks west of where we turned right, that I said out loud, "How silly of me, we just drove blocks out of our way for no reason at all."

As we continued down the street we saw a comotion up ahead of us. As we passed, I realized that there was a green SUV rammed up against a tree on the front lawn of a business. It was the same SUV that had been in front of us just a few blocks back.

The Angelbaby in her inocent trusting faith said to me."Mommy, it wasn't your fault that you went out of our way, God sent you out of our way to protect us from that man in that car." By this time I was a bit shaky. If I had stayed on that same street after having passed that car when it was over by the curb I am sure that I would have been directly in its path.

Praise God that no one else's car was in its path. Praise God that we saw the driver getting out of the crashed SUV and he seemed to not be harmed. Praise God for making me turn when I needed to be out of the way of the oncoming SUV. Praise God that the angelbaby was so in tune with how marvelously God works that she could see it was God's hand that turned the wheel instead of mine.

God is so Good!!!! All the time.


Friday, January 28, 2005

Be Patient, God Isn't Through With Me Yet

Today is the beginning of one of my course weekends for this semester. I drove down here and got settled into my room. Then I went down to the bookstore and bought the textbooks. Oh wait a minute, we were supposed to have read all three textbooks, (including one that is ll00 pages long) before we got here this weekend! Oops!

Anyway, I looked through the books and am happy to say that in my work I have encountered at least some of the information covered in the books. Whew, I won't look like a complete fool tomorrow when class starts.

It is really nice to know a little something about a lot of subjects. That is what they used to call a well rounded education. It makes one capable of carrying on intelligent conversations with people in many arena's. It gives one confidence.

Unfortunately for some people, the minute they gain any knowledge about any subject they immediately become an expert on said subject. I must admit, I have fallen into this trap a time or two, but I have learned after many humbling experiences that the more I learn the less I know. Especially in my area of work and study; namely theology and spirituality. I know what I have learned, and I know what God has revealed to me, but I can't begin to presume to know what God has revealed to someone else.

I think that is why we are cautioned time and time again to "judge not". We have no idea where the person is in their journey of faith, and we have no idea what God is doing in their life. If they get on our nerves or seem abrasive or pushy, we have to remember that God loves them just the way they are. We should also keep in mind that they are a work in progress, just as we are. God isn't through with them yet either.

I really hope that my friends love me enough to let me know when I am being push or overbearing. We may not like to hear our faults, but I know I would much rather have it be a friend who tells me to lighten up or shut up or whatever it is I need to do, than for it to be my boss, or superior or professor.

I know that I have had to work on this in my own life, with varying degrees of success. I know that in some areas I have a long way to go, I only wish the lessons weren't quite so humbling. But truly, the only way to learn humility is to be humbled. It just ain't something you can read about in a book.


Tuesday, January 25, 2005

When an Initial Step Becomes a Leap of Faith

I usually know when God is directing me to do something, especially when it is something that I would be reluctant or flat out refuse to do on my own initiative. When I am sure, after prayer and discernment that God wants me to do whatever it is, I am willing, or at least I can make myself take that first step of faith into the unknown.

When I do take that first step, I like to be assured that there will be solid ground underneath my foot when I set it down again. And there are times when God allows me to see the pathway in front of me clearly enough to see where my foot will land.

Other times though, I am called to take a step of faith, that becomes a flying leap into the unknown.

I remember feeling this way the first time I went down to Saint Meinrad for a class for my Masters. I knew exactly where I was going, and felt very welcomed when I got there. What took a leap of faith was shy little me walking into a room where I knew almost no one. I was sure that first entire weekend that everyone there would realize what a phony I was and they would send me packing. Self doubt is another of my major faults.

I am so happy that I didn't let my fear keep me from stepping off into the abyss (sorry classmates and friends from St. Meinrad, I know it can't be easy to think of yourselves as a great abyss). I love my weekends there now, I look forward to them with a sense of glee that I never could have imaginged that first weekend.

Dragging myself back to the original point . . . I continue . . .

Anyway, I am learning that I should not fear those leaps of faith, because I know that God will never send me where I cannot find my way. I know that whatever new experience God asks me to have, I will learn so much about myself and the world that I should welcome anything that I might encounter.

After all, leaps of faith aren't into an abyss, they are actually into the loving arms of Our Heavenly Father, Abba, Daddy . . . and I can't imagine Daddy not being there to catch us, hold us fast in His loving embrace, and lead us into this new land we are called to enter.

Besides, I have learned from experience that doing God's will promises one thing: it is always going to be an interesting journey.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Not Getting the Message the First Time

Why is it that I have such a hard time listening to God and learning what He wants to teach me the first time I hear it? It never fails that I will hear some great piece of wisdom, and at the time I will even know that it is meant for me from God and I should make note of it and learn from it. Then I go along and go right back to living the exact way I was before the great revelation.

What happens next is I get myself into a situation where if I had just remembered the lesson God so willingly tried to teach me before I needed it, I would be fine. Since I didn't learn the lesson when it was freely offered, I wind up in a big mess where my human brokenness gets in the way of my seeing the right path. I usually get my feelings hurt, or become so angry that I am incapable of doing the right thing.

When I am completely flattened, demoralized and crushed and cry out to God, He lovingly teaches me again the humility, patience and steadfastness that He tried to teach me before I needed it. This time I get the lesson loud and clear and change my life accordingly.

You would think that after going through this process time after time I would eventually see the pattern of the lesson offered well before I need it, and begin to learn earlier so as to avoid the pain of having to learn it the hard way. Any sane person would be able to see this pattern, don't you think?

I think in my case, somehow I am just not spiritually mature enough to think ahead and say "Gee, if God is trying to teach me this great lesson when things are just fine, it must mean that I will need it soon." My response ususally is "Wow isn't that cool, sure hope I never get into that situation."

Oh, well, If God didn't love me so much He wouldn't bother trying to teach me either way, right? It is my own fault that I have to learn the hard way instead of the easy way. Next time I am going to try to learn the lesson on the first try, so that when the bad times come I will see them and know what to do.

Hey, stop laughing! It could happen.


Monday, January 17, 2005

Spiritual Attack

There are people who don't believe in the devil. In fact there is a great line from the book The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis in which Satan says that his greatest victory was convincing people that he didn't exist.

I believe that satan is in the world and working for the ruin of souls. I believe that no one, not even the strongest Christian is completely safe from satan's grasp. I also believe that satan can only have the room in our lives that we allow him to have. The problem is that all it takes is for us to let our guard down a little and satan will slip into our world.

Satan is the author of all lies. His lies can seduce us because they make us forget the virtues that God has given us to live under. Virtues like patience and temperance and humility go right out the window when satan appeals to our pride and covetousness.

We are taught as a society that we deserve certain things. We want what we want and we aren't willing to sacrifice or wait or even consider that we don't deserve or need whatever it is. We always want what is best for us even if it inconveniences or harms others.

It is easy to be seduced by the evil one. We have to guard ourselves especially from becoming inordinately angry over some slight or harm we feel we have suffered. Anger is a vice that can really make us incapable of doing God's will in our lives. Anger can hamper our ability to think rationally or act with humility and mercy.

I guess what I wanted to say was that satan is out there, and we have to be careful every moment that we aren't seduced by his lies into doing something that would be harmful to ourselves or to someone else.


Saturday, January 15, 2005


I went to visit my mom today. Mom has Alzheimer’s disease, so visits with her are very difficult. She can't remember who we are or why we are there, and is constantly reminding us of things.

It is really hard to be with her like this. It takes patience and self control and humility, things I seem to be in short supply of right now.

I want to be the same loving daughter I have always been, but I get so frustrated, and I am angry, not at her but at the disease. I get very uncomfortable and feel like we should leave almost as soon as we get there, because the extra people in the house make mom so very uncomfortable.

I love my mom completely. This disease has robbed me of my mom and in her place has left a person that is so angry and needy. I know it must be hardest on her.

I have two sisters who live with my mom. They are saints.

My prayer is that God will keep my mom safe and help her to live with this disease. My prayer for me is that I will learn to love my mom in a new way, completely unselfish and totally giving. I have a long way to go, but with God's help. I will try.


Friday, January 14, 2005

A Woman Of Influence

Yesterday I was at a gathering of people who work in parishes as I do. We were discussing Whole Community Catechesis, a new movement to engergize and light a fire of the Holy Spirit in parishes of every size and configuration. I was very excited to be there, even though I was the only member of my parish team to attend.

The table directly in front of me was filled with people from parishes in the city in which I attended high school. I was familiar with a few of the people at the table from other work I have done in youth ministry and religious education. One of the men at the table is a Franciscan Brother whom I have known for many years. He happens to be currently assigned to the parish where my oldest angeldaughter attends mass, and I wanted to let him know that he should tell his confrers that I am very happy that whatever they are doing is keeping my daughter attending Mass regularly.

There was another woman at the table who looked very familiar to me. When I read her nametag I couldn’t help but smile. She happened to be a woman who was involved in youth ministry back when I was in high school and she was in her earlly adulthood. I had just recently lost my father, and moved to an entirely different state and was feeling very invisible and worthless. I was attending youth ministry activities more because my mother wanted me to than because I wanted to. This woman befriended me and was very influential in my beginning to feel good about myself.

They tell you in youth ministry training that you may never know the influence you have on the kids to whom you minister. I have felt that void often enough. This was one time in my life that I was allowed to let someone who had been a great influence on not only my spiritual walk but also my emotional well being that she had made a difference. In fact, if I had to list the people who, along with my parents, were directly responsible for my being in ministry right now, she would be one of them.

It wasn’t anything she taught me. It was more that she was willing to share her faith with me, and that her faith mattered to her. It was also that she seemed to be really interested in who I was as a person. She really was a model of Christian friendship at a time when I needed friends, and for that I will always be grateful.

It felt really good to be able to tell her. She promised to seek out my daugther some Sunday at Mass and introduce herself. She is just the mothering type of loving friend that my daughter needs. I encouraged her to do just that. If I can’t be there to influence my daughter, I would love to know that there are other “moms” who will step into the void and keep an eye on her. This is one experience from my teen-age years I would love to share with my daughter.


Monday, January 10, 2005

Offering it Up

Some of us, who are of an age, or had moms or grandma's who were Catholic are familiar with the idea of offering up one's suffering for the poor souls in purgatory, or for someone here on earth who really needs prayers. Every time we had to go through something unpleasant as a child my mom would remind us that we could be like Jesus and offer our suffering for others.

I have heard some ex-Catholics say that this was one teaching that pushed them from the Church. I find this very absurd because this was one teaching that gave meaning to my suffering, and made me stronger and more prayerful as I was growing up.

If Jesus, who was completely innocent could suffer great indignities and even death for others who were deserving of suffering, and I can offer my suffering for others, then my suffering has meaning. My prayer is stronger, and I become stronger in the process.

You might wonder what led me to write about this specific topic today. Well, I have had a migraine of epic proportions for the past three days, and today it is really bad. I have also been working very hard at work and trying to keep up with the home situation (laundry, etc) and there just isn't time for me to crawl into bed in a dark room until I feel better. So, I have been offering up my suffering as I soldier on and get done what needs to be done.

I would hate to consider trying to live with this pain if I didn't have the belief that it had meaning. And I know so many people who are deserving of my prayers and support:

A young man who is dealing with a relapse of leukemia, and is finally out of the hospital but went home this time with a portable oxygen tank. Please Lord, ease his suffering and give him peace.

A woman (the mother of the young man above) who is dealing with cancer herself. Give her strength as well.

A priest I know who is having surgery today for colon cancer. He has brought me so much happiness and peace; grant the same to him.

A priest I know who is on medical leave trying to regain his strength so that he can continue his ministry in the midst of battling Crohn's disease. Help him to heal quickly, so that he can move on to another phase of his ministry.

A woman (my mother) who is living with Alzheimer's disease. Give her moments of peace in her lucid times and moments of grace when peace is impossible. Keep her safe and allow her to feel loved and cared for.

A dear colleague who is suffering from leukemia, help him to B+.

A friend who is suffering from a pinched nerve in the back. I know what that feels like. Ease her discomfort.

Heavenly Father, I offer any pain and inconvenience I feel this week for these people who are more in need of it than I. Grant them peace and healing. I promise not to whine too much, I know you are with me, be with them as well.

Pax and Amen

Thursday, January 06, 2005


In my previous post I mentioned that most people don't make very great choices between the ages of 13 and 25. I want to make it clear that I chose that age range without respect to my own personal life choices.

It was pointed out to me last night by mr angelmeg that I met and married him while still within that age range. Since I am still living with that choice (happily so I might add) it might make one think that I was saying that my choice to marry mr angelmeg wasn't the right choice in my life.

So, I want it to go on record for the entire world to read (well all two people who actually read this sight anyway) that meeting, falling in love with and marrying mr angelmeg were all very good choices. The lasting effect of those choices on my life has been completely positive. I can't imagine that any other choice would have allowed me to fulfill God's plan for my life.

I love you, mr angelmeg. See now the whole world -- well at least two people in the whole world -- can be a witness to my public statement of affection for you. After all, accountability is everything.


Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Letting Go

Those of you with children will remember the complete sense of awe and inadequacy one feels when you first hold your child. I don't care if it is your first child or your tenth, somehow you feel as though this little person who is totally dependent upon you will some day find out just how big a fraud you really are.

I remember those feelings each time I held one of my kids for the first time. I looked into their eyes and promised that I would do the best I could for them. Somehow I knew even then that my best probably wasn't going to be good enough to protect them.

It is really easy to protect your kids when they are little. You hold their hand, and help them to navigate in a place that is new and treacherous. But as they grow older it isn't "cool" anymore to hold your hand, or ask for help, even when they need it. You send them out into the big, scary world, and hope that the things you tried to teach them will stick with them and help them make good choices.

But we all know that making good choices and being between the ages of 13 and 25 are pretty mutually exclusive. I remember all of the bad choices I made during those years, and in some cases I am still trying to live with the consequences of those choices. I think that is part of the reason that motivates us as parents to try to keep our children from making the same disastrous choices that we made. Let me tell you right now, our parents couldn't stop us, and we won't be able to stop our children.

I guess this is one of those times when you just have to trust that deep down your kids are pretty level headed and won't do anything too destructive or antisocial, and then you have to leave them to the tender mercies of their Heavenly Father and their Guardian Angel and anyone else you can think of in heaven who will watch over them.

Letting go is really hard. Knowing that other people consider your children to be pretty level headed, and darn nice people helps, but you still wish that they would crawl into your lap when they are afraid, and ask your advice before they make a choice that will alter the direction of their future.

I realized when I looked into their baby eyes on that first day of their lives that they were a precious gift from God. These gifts aren't mine to keep though, these gifts are mine for a time, and then I have to offer them back to God without holding on so tight that I smother and harm them.

I'm doing a lot of letting go and letting God this week. It probably won't kill me, but it sure feels as though a part of me is being ripped out. I guess I need to remember how Mary must have felt watching her Son be crucified, all the while trusting that God was in control. Mary, teach me to let my children go to fulfill whatever destiny God has chosen for them. Oh, and could you please hurry.


Sunday, January 02, 2005

Christian Community

Three times in the past week I have had the great pleasure of spending time with people who share my religious convictions. It really brought home to me the importance of not only community, but also authentic Christian community.

We celebrate each other’s good fortune. We help to bear the weight of each other’s pain. We reach out a hand in friendship and love, and we become the body of Christ for each other.

I can't imagine how difficult it would be to have to live in this world that is so anti Christian at the moment without these people to help me remain strong in my convictions. Whenever I wonder if I am truly doing God's will in my life, these are the people I go to for support, affirmation and even chastisement when it is necessary. I trust the judgment of these people, so I know that when I am in doubt they will help me to see the right path that I should take.

Jesus came to show us the way to the Father, and that way is in community, not alone. If all I do in my walk of faith is care about my getting to heaven, and spend all of my concern on my own salvation, then I have completely missed the point to being a Christian in the first place.

So, when I say my prayers this evening I am going to thank God for giving me this wonderful community of believers to which I belong. My life of faith is constantly enriched and challenged by them.


Saturday, January 01, 2005

Eliminating Clutter

When we got out the Christmas decorations this year I found the most appalling thing I had ever seen. For some unknown and probably obsessive-compulsive reason, I found a box filled with ornaments that have broken over the years stored with my Christmas decorations. These ornaments don't have any special meaning to me at all, some of them I actually didn't like when we bought them. Just the same, I have packed them up each year and stored them away like a stupid pack rat, I suppose thinking that some day I would fix them. in 20 years I hadn't attempted to fix one of them. This was a real wake up call to me. This year is the year I break free.

I resolve this year to get rid of all of the clutter in my life. I am going to let go of all of those things I keep around because some day I might need them. All they really do is clutter up my life and make things much more complicated in the here and now.

I resolve to throw out every lid I have stashed in the lid drawer, because I can't quite remember what it goes to and am afraid that if I throw it away, then I will find the container and be left without a lid. I resolve to go lidless in the future, or better yet, when I do find the container I will throw that out as well.

I resolve to throw out every unmatched sock in my laundry room, which I keep in the hopes that someday its errant mate will reappear as if by magic. With a family as big as ours that can become a big BIG pile of unmatched socks. I would rather have the empty space than the big pile.

I resolve to give away or sell all of {gulp} well some of my books. When I was younger my favorite thing to do was to browse used bookstores and yard sales for books by author's I liked. I told myself that these books were so hard to find, even in libraries anymore that I had to keep all of them. Now I find that I have shelf after dusty shelf of books that no one, not even me will ever actually read again. Maybe I can get myself to give away or sell half of my collection. Especially as now that I am in Gradual School I seemed to acquire ten or twelve new books each semester.

I resolve to eliminate any piece of clothing I haven't worn in a year. No more keeping those jeans until I lose ten pounds and they fit again. No more thinking that that classic style will come back again, and I will get some more use out of that lovely cowl neck sweater. (Hey, just think how hip and happening I would be this season if I had kept all of those darn leg warmers I wore in the early 80's). I will only keep clothes that fit AND that I actually wear, everything else goes off to charity.

Lastly, I resolve to eliminate the paper clutter I have amassed over my adulthood. Why do I feel the need to keep gas bills from 1992? Why do I feel as though I would be hurting my angel children if I don't keep every single picture they ever made in grade school? I don't even want to think about all of the paperwork I have generated since the start of gradual school. I am going to make some time really soon to determine which things I should save and which can be thrown away. Good-bye bulging file cabinets.

This may take a really long time, and a lot of tears, but I resolve to do it. By next year I will be so organized I will be able to do my taxes for 2005 on January 1, 2006. Well maybe I will wait a few weeks, but I will be organized and ready to do it then.

Just watch me.