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Archive for December, 2011

“Self” Reflection

This Christmas was filled with blessings – it was a wonderful week of travel out west with Mitch and Mark, visiting Emily & Jeff and Joe, celebrating with them and the in-laws. It was remarkably peaceable and I really enjoyed it.

The one thing I was really looking forward to was going to mass with all of my family. It’s been years since we all attended church together and the idea of Christmas mass with my most-loved-ones around me was a gift I deeply desired.

But the Holy Spirit started preparing me early on that this wasn’t going to happen. And that’s ok; I appreciate that He told me to be still, not to push, not to try to force my own way onto others. I don’t need to be selfish or demanding.

I think what bothers me, though, is wondering … what does it say about me that the best thing I can do for God is shut up? That talking about my faith makes people defensive or pushes them away from Him? I’ve never liked being around forceful Christians … have I now become “the church lady” myself?

It wasn’t just mass … it was the thud of silence about the book I gave. It is feeling concerned about something my son said, but knowing I really can’t bring it up because it would rub him wrong.

The thing is, this life is SO short … and the next life is eternal. Every. single. thing. in this life either brings us closer to God, or moves us further away. My heart desires so much to help others see this, for their sake and for His glory … but my personality can be so pushy and off-putting.

While I think it’s good to evaluate ourselves, I also know it’s not good to dwell too much. I’m feeling a little sad and disappointed, but it’s not “all about me.” It’s about them, and about Him. Maybe these are ways He is helping me to let go a little more.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. 

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Unsettled

I feel unsettled, my spirit is troubled. I can’t quite put my finger on it. I’ve been talking to God and trying to sort it through; I’ve asked Him to search me and to show me … my hands are open and I want so much to surrender to Him whatever He wants, or to receive from Him whatever He wills.

I know it is spiritual warfare. I don’t know what’s going on, though.

So I will be still; I will tuck myself under His wing and wait, and watch. That is an old friend to me … “wait and watch” is what God told me several years ago and indeed He has brought about amazing things.I know I just need to trust and to wait on Him.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.   – Reinhold Niebuhr

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Yesterday I attended mass before going to work. The front 2/3 of the church was filled with elementary school children; the kids led the singing, gave the readings, offered the gifts, read prayer petitions. And as I went forward to communion, all were singing whole-heartedly:

“What do you want of me, Lord? Where do you want me to serve you? Where can I sing your praises. I am your song.

Jesus, Jesus, you are the Lord. Jesus, Jesus, you are the way … “

What a blessing to hear all those voices! It was a great way to start the day and the blessing stayed with me throughout the day.

In a world of ugly news stories, busy-ness that distracts and aggravates, it’s just so good for the soul to find peace-filled moments. It can be a challenge some days!  A friend posted this on her blog and I love it … I think I will be spending a few moments there daily.

 

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

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21 A sinful man will flee reproof,
and will find an excuse according to his will.(Sirach 32)

Is there a more true statement? That is human nature in a nutshell.

I mean, look at my friend … a Christian who rationalizes her same-sex marriage.

And look at my mom … a Catholic who rationalized that it really was “ok” to divorce my dad.

And look at another friend who flatly refuses to even attempt to offer forgiveness to the drunk driver who killed her parents. Can you believe that?!!

AND … look at … look at … well, look at ME.

It’s sure easy to see other people rationalize the things they struggle with; it’s easy to judge them. But somehow it’s more difficult to see the rationalizing I do myself and recognize how I may be walking in complete denial.  Suddenly God’s ways don’t apply to me; I am an exception.

If I am stiff necked and want to follow my own path, God will allow me. One of the ways I am able to deceive myself is to look at others instead of myself. It seems doing that compounds my own sin; I begin to judge them, I become prideful.

Not so long ago I was doing just that; I was holding tight to what “I” wanted, what “I” deserved. My pity party was an amazing thing; “nobody” could understand. And besides, other people behaved worse and still got along ok in life.

How easy it is to deceive ourselves; to rationalize our sinful behavior; to give ourselves over to our own desires.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts (Psalm 139:23)

Please dear LORD, protect me from deceiving myself. Search my heart and mind and show me … help me to see … and then guide me back to your path, your ways. Please give me a heart of gratitude, and of surrender to you. In Jesus’ name I pray.

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What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?

I’ve seen that posted a few times on Facebook and I love it. It’s a great question to ponder!

I don’t know why it is – perhaps it’s human nature – but when things are going great in my life, it’s easy to simply enjoy the run without giving a lot of thought toward God. But the moment a trial threatens I’m running right at Him seeking guidance, protection, consolation.

I experienced that a few weeks ago when I traveled to St. Thomas. In the last eight years I have come through an incredibly trying time and have grown so close to the LORD. I love, love, love our time together and treasure it.

So I was quite surprised with myself on the trip when I realized days had gone by when I hadn’t consciously set aside and taken time to simply “be” with Him.  I’d had moments of spontaneous, “That’s beautiful, God!” “Thank you, LORD!” but hadn’t simply taken time out to talk to Him.

I know what it’s like to be taken for granted; I know how it feels when it seems the only time people talk to you is when something goes wrong or when they need something.

I’m sure God loves to watch us enjoy His gifts, His creation and I’ve become ever-more-conscious of the blessings in my life each day, large and small. But I hope I never take it for granted or fail to thank Him with a humble heart.

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And I sought among them for a man that might set up a hedge, and stand in the gap before me in favour of the land, that I might not destroy it: and I found none. (Ezekiel 22:30)

I love Babbie Mason’s song, Standing in the Gap; I love the imagery of brothers and sisters in Christ working together for each other instead of squabbling over details and doctrines. I have been familiar with the phrases of standing in the gap and “a hedge of protection,” but I wasn’t sure where they came from biblically until I read this passage today.

The prayer life God is teaching me is one of standing in the gap for others. Just as Job would sanctify his children and offer holocausts for them “habitually” in case they had sinned (Job 1:5), I also pray often that God protect others body, mind and spirit; that He widen the hedge of protection from evil around loved ones and friends.

We are all at such different stages in our faith. I can’t even imagine how much help I’ve received from others’ prayers for me; it was so precious and comforting to know people were praying and standing in the gap for me when I was struggling most.

I believe in the power of prayer; I believe God calls us to pray for each other. And now I am humbled and privileged to stand in the gap for others and to pray for them; to pray for you. 

Standing In The Gap
Babbie Mason

I heard that you were hurting
That you were suffering pain
But I didn’t dare just turn my head
And look the other way

For when your heart is aching
My heart is aching too
Let me help you bear your burden
That’s the least that I can do

I’ll be standing in the gap for you
Just remember someone, somewhere is praying for you
Calling out your name
Praying for your strength
I’ll be standing in the gap for you

Right now you may be troubled
But everything will work out fine
For the Spirit knows before you speak
What is on your heart and mind

So I’ll be interceding
Til your standing strong again
The peace that passes understanding
Is going to be yours, but until then
I’ll be standing in the gap for you

Just remember someone, somewhere is praying for you
Calling out your name
Praying for your strength
I’ll be standing in the gap for you

So hang on my friend
It won’t be long
And you have the strength
To carry on

For when two or three are walking together
It will be a much lighter load
For isn’t that what a brother and a sister are for

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