Tag Archives: Faith Walk

pray in the life of a month, another look

He who labors as he prays lifts his heart to God with his hands. — St. Benedict of Nursia

Never have I heard a better description of motherhood; the daily in the trenches (laundry room, school room) mothering.  Up before light, after being up a lot of the night, carrying straight though till well past dark.  Cooking, dishes, laundry, school work (or homework), shopping, social commitments, clean bathrooms; that a mother labors is never a question.

Mothers don’t sit and contemplate the wonders of world; note I didn’t say mothers don’t contemplate the wonders of world.  I honestly think as mothers we are more attuned to the magic of life and all God’s tiny miracles.  Watching a toddler try a toy and try it, and seeing the joy when it finally works.  Sitting with a school age child chewing over math word problems and seeing each one go better than the last.  Watching the sunrise while cooking breakfast; and relishing the joy at a baby’s first word.  Everything a mom does is wrapping in the glory of God.

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Thinking about Lent

I’ve been thinking about Lent.  Not real original I know.  Each year as I pass my birthday I think about Lent.  Today is Ash Wednesday.  I am by no means a teacher, preacher or Biblical scholar much less a theologian; but I’ll share my thoughts anyway.  They maybe wrong, but they could be right.

Lent.  Sacrifice.  What are you giving up this year?  The same old story.  Conventional Wisdom holds that we sacrifice a beloved vice for the 40 days of Lent (actually 46 days, Sundays do not count) as a personal reminder of Christ’s sacrifice for us.  Really?  I give up coke or chocolate for 40-some days and THAT is a sacrifice?  What a life we lead in 2012 is this Fist World Nation (an idea I touched on here also).  Isn’t our idea of sacrifice almost an insult to Christ’s death on the cross?  An insult to the martyrs that died for their faith; an insult to people today in other nations that risk life and liberty to practice their faith?  I fully acknowledge and respect the practice of Morning Offering  and in fact, should disciple my life in this way more.  It is a wonderful attitude to live your life in.  I also am challenging myself to more fully live a life of, and come to a better place of understanding about “offering my trial up to the Lord” .  Again that is such a better attitude to live in than many that people do live in, including me.  I know my life and Walk will benefit as a disciple myself more in these attitudes towards life and the daily challenges we all face.

However, I fear Lent has become nothing more than a 2nd set of New Years resolutions.  Personal sacrifice, self discipline, is a foundation of any Walk with God or any fellowship with Christ.  But it must be authentic, it must be genuine – and that happens, or doesn’t, at the heart level.

I have seen a number of blogs and articles this season echoing my thoughts (see ) .  Seeking a deeper experience of Lent, a more serious approach.  Simply put I can never sacrifice enough, the martyrs and saints did not sacrifice enough, Christ’s gift of his life is the only ‘good enough’ sacrifice.  We do well to offer a personal devotion or to refuse ourselves a favored vice only in that it forces us, or should, to think about Christ and our relationship with God.  Nevertheless, we do ourselves a grave disservice and mock Christ when we lazily assume that giving up candy or coke is the true gift we bring to the Cross this season.  The gift is our desire, or thoughts, our efforts at self disciple, out desire to be closer to Him; not the simple lack of a habit.

I used to work with a Sister from the Sisters of Loretto  and she talked about ADDING for Lent, not subtracting.  Adding pray, adding disciple, adding God Time, adding to your walk in a meaningful way.  This is what I have been thinking about.  Adding to and completing my relationship with God, my walk of faith; where I stand on the march to maturity as a flower.  Am I consistently chewing meat or am I simply, occasionally, gulping milk on the run?

So this Lent I am not giving up soda, or TV or candy.  What I will be doing is spend the Lenten Season thinking and praying about where I am on the path, as an individual and as a parent responsible for the upbringing and education of two more souls.  Where do I stand on the path god has laid out for me?  I’ll give you a hint, as a 40 year old cradle Christian I am not where I belong, and I fear as the mother of a 4 year old and 6 year old boy I we are not where we belong.  I pray this Season that I grow in God, not that I break my soda habit.

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It’s a wonderful life

I have a wonderful life.  I have found myself too focused on the many challenges and stressors of raising two boys (speech therapy, doctors’ appt, and diet restrictions) and I fear I might loose the joy of my life and children.  I have a wonderful life.  It is an oft repeated phrase but while the days are long, the years are painfully short.  Both my boys are weaned, and fully potty trained now.  They sleep most of the night (and some times the entire night) in their own room.  Big Brother is reading and Little Brother is sounding out CVC words even!

I am reading, Home By Choice.   It is a great inspirational, based on the Science of Attachment and the long term effects of infant attachment, read.  I am being reminded that as I race though the days of read-a-louds and crayons I am having a real impact on not only boy boys’ adult lives; but their marriages and their children in turn.  It is easy to get lost in the long days and forget how short the years really are.  As the days speed by with army men invading the kitchen, super hero throwing super villains into walls, snipers hiding under tables ready to ambush the unsuspecting, couch back jousting matches; it is hard to think about more than getting though school each day and keeping everyone alive.  That is when reminders like Home By Choice is so important.  I am not just dogging the boys, again, to pick up the army men in the kitchen after I step on my 5th one; I am teaching something much bigger: respect for others, care for personal belonging, kitchen safety and responsibility; those are the things if you don’t make yourself stop and think, you’ll loose sight of.

Parenting is not what I expected; I suppose everyone says that.  There are some challenges with our two boys that I did not anticipate as I planned to welcome and raise your typical child.  But that is not what I mean.  I mean things like: I expected to be making cute faces with fruit and veggies for lunch, but I have one boy that panics at food and another that is just as happy to walk off with my plate.  I mean things like: I envisioned keeling down, looking my son in the face and saying “I don’t like that behavior, it is rude” and that “taking care of that” (hey that is what all the Gentle Discipline, Positive Parenting and Attachment books say, right?) and really some day I feel more like a NHL referee than Donna Reed.

It is too easy to get lost in chicken nuggets and craft projects and forget about the very real life long impact that our choices, our words and our behaviors have on our children’s lives.  We build them up, or tear them down; and up or down they remain for the rest of their life.  More so up or down they then tear their wives and children.

Night after night as I lay between them in bed for them to fall asleep a feeling of peace settles over us.  They both cuddle in as close as they can be, secure that their “base” is there and they can relax.  It is the only time they are still and quiet.  Many times I lay there, after they are asleep, pray over them, stroke their hair, listen to the breath, and just soak in the peace.  I have a wonderful life.

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Too late for New Year’s too early for Lent

I can not expect my children to learn “from me” anything that I do not live or practice.  Simple.  Fact.  My boys are not going to miraculously exhibit traits (good or bad) that they do not learn some place.  They are our boys; they are with me all but maybe 10 hours a week, we home educated.  Our boys are going to grow up fundamentally like us.

Oh my is THAT a scary thought or what?  God is the potter, they are the clay, but I am a tool He chooses to use at this moment.  I can start them toward a beautiful form, or I can allow them to lop over or become hard and difficult to work with.

I want my boys to grow up in The Word and to practice good inner disciple and personally accountability.  I want them to gentlemen, and strong men, foot soldiers for Christ; amazing fathers and good husbands.  Thus the must see me, reading The Word, discussing the Word and applying The Word to our daily life.  They need to SEE me walk the walk, all the time, no exceptions; talking the talk won’t work.  Kids can spot a counterfeit a mile away and resent having expected of them what the parent is unwilling to commit to.  If I model God as only for morning devotional and Sundays, that is how my boys will live the rest of their lives, and raise their children too.

To this end I have decided to choose “self behavior” passages from the Bible (not that the entire Book is not a “behavior manual”, it is) and apply them to myself much more strictly.  My theme of the week, if you will, for changing my behavior and pulling myself closer to God; to a deeper level of devotion.

I considered Galatians 2:6 “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – but, really I think (in my opinion) I already model this fairly well for the boys.  When Little was a little less than a year I had the honor of pumping and donating breast milk to the little boy of a dear mom being treated for breast cancer; big still talks about “Baby D’s momma being sick and how she is better now but still sick and we still pray for her, but Baby D is big and doesn’t need momma milk any more”.  Right now we are remembering nightly in our prays the son of another friend; the boys is only 6 week old and has been in NICU over a month of his short life.  Big Brother tells everyone about baby T – at Awanas, at Church.  I think they have a fairly good; vision of  bearing another’s burdens.  Maybe not, only time will tell, but I decided to move on past that verse for now.

So I am going to choose a book a week to read, and reread; and a verse from that Book to by verse of the week.  The verse will highlight a personal behavior I want to achieve a higher level of personally accountability in.  I am not sure that I am going to discuss this with the boys I think this may just be for me for a time.

Week of Jan 23 – Book of the Week Ephesians –

Here is my “star passage”:

 29 Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. 32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

and my verse for the week:

26 “In your anger do not sin: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27 and do not give the devil a foothold.

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Guest Post — a reason for covering

Today my blog is very blessed by an anonymous contribution from a dear dear personal friend of mine, one that writes so much better than I ever could: 

(note images added by me, not the author)

Brown tieschel with a brown cord. Navy headscarf with navy trim. A brown plaid triangular scarf. A large electric blue scarf. A burgundy tieschel  with ivory cording and pearls intertwined. These are the headcoverings I have so far. I have not been covering for long, one to two months or so; the calling, however, has been present in my heart since 2004. At that time I had wanted to, but my husband was not really for it, and my spiritual director/confessor told me not to do it. The calling has remained steadfast in my heart, and has proven not to be a whim, or a passing phase. Whether I will have the courage to respond to this calling long-term remains to be seen, but for now, I am.

I am not of the opinion that all women should cover; I am of the opinion that those whom God calls to covering should respond in the affirmative and with courage. Indeed, we live in a society in which if you wear a headcovering, you will have assumptions, usually incorrect ones, made about you. What do people think of me when I am out and wearing a headcovering? “She’s a Muslim.” “She’s Jewish.” “She’s Mennonite.” “What a showoff.” “Holy Roller.” Who knows. Who cares! I guarantee you that not one person who sees me would be able to peg me by looking at me, especially when out with my eight children.

I am a thirty-five year old woman, with, as I said, eight young children, ranging in ages from four months to fourteen years. I am a practicing Catholic, in love with Jesus Christ, and the Church that He founded. I am not an ultra-orthodox traditionalist, nor am I a kumbaya cafeteria Catholic. I am a faithful Catholic, striving for holiness in my daily life, cultivating my faith in, and knowledge and love of, Jesus Christ. How does covering my head fit in with this? Let me give you a little theology, and then some background.

Jesus Christ redeemed me by shedding His blood for me upon the cross. Through this action, He restored the life of grace to a fallen humanity and opened for us the gates ofParadise. This grace is the very life of God within us. By it we grow in holiness so that we may follow Jesus’ command to be holy as the Father is holy. When we sin, we can wound that grace in our souls, or if the sin is unto death, i.e. mortal, we can kill that grace, that life of God in our souls. We must continue to run the race, to fight the good fight, likeSt. Pauldid. We must work hard in our spiritual lives so as to strengthen our muscles of faith, our virtues. We don’t believe in “salvation by works” but in salvation by faith working through love.

When we sin, we wound the Body of Christ, the Church. We receive the forgiveness of Jesus Christ, but the wound is still there. It must be repaired through penance. If I broke your window, and apologized sincerely for it, in tears, even, and you forgave me, I would be so very grateful. Your window, unfortunately, is still broken, and needs repairing. I must repair that window, even though I am back in your good graces. It is only just. And so I sacrifice to replace your window and make it like new. This is a very simple explanation of the Catholic idea of penance and reparation.

Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross was once for all. He could have done everything and just given us our salvation with nothing in return, not even faith in Him. But he didn’t. We could never appreciate the gift, nor prove that we really wanted it if that were the case. He wants our participation in our redemption, like the mother who wants her child’s “help” when baking cookies. Sure, she could have made the cookies without the child putting the dough on the pan, or without helping to stir, or pour in the flour, but those cookies mean so much more to the child when his participation in making them is sought. He could never make the cookies without the parent, who provided everything, including the directions, but after he has stirred the dough, he is proud, and says, “I made cookies!!” You know who really made the cookies, but wow, what a special thing those cookies become to the child, and the experience has improved the bond between parent and child. When the child gives his sister the cookie and says, “Want one of the cookies I made?” the sibling is happy, and feels gratitude towards her brother, although of course, we really know where that cookie came from.

So it is with our salvation, and what we call the “economy of salvation”. Just as Jesus died on the cross for us, and merited for us, his brothers and sisters, the sanctifying grace which saves us, so can we as members of the Body of Christ, the Church, do things which spiritually benefit our brothers and sisters in Christ, and all children of God. Let’s say I broke your window again. You forgave me, but for some reason it would be really difficult for me to replace your window. My friend then steps in and says, “I would like to replace the window for Hester, here.” Voila. I am forgiven, and the damage is repaired, although by someone other than myself. So it goes in the spiritual life. There are times we may be too spiritually bankrupt or injured to make just reparations for the damage we have done. Sometimes we are too bankrupt to even be sorry. We need a grant, a grant of grace for the work in progress that we are. The grace is there, being obtained by people all over through prayer, through good works done in faith, through sufferings united with the suffering of Christ.

The life of Grace in us, like the Holy Spirit, is not static. It is alive, dynamic! We are either gaining in grace or losing in grace at any given moment. When we do what we do for Jesus, and we offer to him the prayers, works, joys and sufferings of our days, we turn our days into prayer, and everything we do becomes an offering to him. Everything we do wins us grace, because we are doing it for love of Him. We may pray that the grace He bestows on us for the good we do would be applied to us, or to others. This opens us up, as Christians, to a whole new life where we can be Christ to others not only by what we say, or by helping them out or whatever. We can become Christ to others by suffering for others, for making reparation for their sins. We can, in effect, step in and replace the windows they broke. We can put the cookie dough on the pan, and then give them the cookies as if they had made them. We can spiritually lift our brother up from the depths of a personal living hell when they have no strength to do it themselves. We do it by prayer, works, and sufferings all offered to Jesus for this specific person, or that specific intention. Our prayers, our sufferings, our works, when joined with the Salvific Action of Jesus Christ on the Cross,  become in their own small ways redemptive. And so we can do penance for others. We can rejoice in our sufferings, likeSaint Paul, who made up in his body what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

“But I thought this was about head coverings.” Well, it is.

I wear my headcoverings as both an act of penance and an act of reparation. I believe God has asked me to do this. Let me explain.

Thirteen years ago, for a time, I entered and was fairly active in the world of internet pornography. I do not wish to expound on it too heavily here, although I suppose it provides much “jucier” reading than does my expounding on the “economy of salvation.” In any case, I was beautiful, young, lonely, and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. I needed an outlet; I needed connection to people who would give me what I thought was positive attention, and I wanted to “have fun.” So I did. A friend sent me a digital camera and I was off and running, not only posting very risque photos of myself to a porn site, but spending a lot of time chatting with the “star” of the website and with all the men who watched her cam and wanted to chat with others. For two to three months, the pictures ensued, one after another. And I was most definitely “making connections” with others, beyond the website, to the point of nearly ruining my marriage, another marriage, and yet another relationship. My selfishness progressed to the point where I was considering sterilization so I could pursue an open marriage without any “ramifications”. To those who know me, contraception is terribly out of character for me, for I wanted many children and never believed in birth control, not even as a sexually active fifteen year old. Sex, to me, always meant a complete 100% self-donation to another, and it included the donation of my fertility. But there I was at 22, suffering from very traumatic events which concerned the birth and first couple of years with our sick daughter. I was devastated and too afraid to go that route again. I was saved from my path of self-destruction by my second pregnancy, which occurred as I was waiting to begin the birth control pill. Hallelujah. This child was the catalyst which brought about the rebuilding of my marriage and our return to Jesus Christ and the Church He established. That is not to say I have been perfect since, but it was certainly the turning point towards a better life.

I have struggled with this period of my life. I am forgiven, yes, but I broke many windows. The cruel thing about internet porn, is that when you have long since renounced your part in it, you know your “material” is still out there for the viewing. Sure, the website I was on is down now, but I know for a fact that some of the members saved my images. I can only pray they are all gone now, but I would suspect that at least one or two people have them. And even if they are all gone, these images stay burned in the mind of the men who have viewed them. I have greatly sinned in my treatment of my body, but also in leading others to sin. I WAS the “other woman” to many men. They spent hours chatting suggestively with me and “enjoying” my photographs instead of spending that time with their wives and children. And there I was, basking in the attention of it all.

I don’t call this guilt “Catholic guilt.” I call it my conscience, and perhaps one of the only “decent bones” in my body. No pun intended. So why a headscarf? Because I am covering more than I would normally need to cover as an act of penance for those times I did not cover what I should have. Sometimes I wear sleeves in very hot weather. That is not as noticeable, but it certainly has the desired effect of giving me a little suffering to present to Jesus, to add to His Divine Suffering.

It can be annoying at times. Do I look more attractive without it? Certainly. But I still have internal issues with pride and vanity and perhaps it is better that I render myself a little less attractive to others.  Also, I have to fix it and re-fix it throughout the day. But when I feel it on my head, I remember who I am, and Whose I am. I am His, and I am giving Him my all.  I feel it, and remember what I have done to feel called to wear it, and I offer my interior suffering to Jesus. It is my prayer that in my acts of penance and reparation, I might not only repair the windows I have broken, but repair others’ broken windows, too. The cry of Our Lady of Fatima was to pray and make sacrifices for sinners, for most people who go to hell do so for sins of the flesh. The angel of the third secret ofFatimacried, “Penance! Penance! Penance!” I have a special place in my heart for the Fatima apparitions and Our Lady of Fatima, and I take these messages to heart profoundly.

I offer up my sacrifices for the men whose lives I touched. I offer it for the men I know now who struggle with pornography. I offer it for the healing of the women whose husbands were giving me attention instead of them. I offer it for the healing of their children. I offer it for my husband’s healing, for he put up with much from me. I offer it for my children, who are unknowingly being raised by a mother with such deep scars and dark skeletons. And I offer it for myself, because there are still times I have to tame this wild heart of mine.

And so there you have it. There will be many who see me and roll their eyes at that “holier than thou” over there. That’s okay. I offer it up. Jesus knew humiliation and misunderstanding, also. I am not holier than thou. I am the one at the back of the Church beating her breast saying, “Lord having mercy on me, a sinner, ” because, I am a great sinner in need of Christ’s mercy.  I praise Him for His great mercy, and for the Sacraments of Confession and the Holy Eucharist which fill me with such peace and grace, and enable me to keep forging on this tough road that is the Christian life. I thank Him for not only allowing my verbal prayers to positively affect the lives of others, but also my prayers of action. To this end, in addition to my headcovering, I add a weekly fast on Wednesdays. I am fasting only on bread and water on Wednesdays, to the best of my ability, for the specific intention of a very dear friend struggling with sex addiction, and for his wife. When he can, he fasts with me. Some sins can only be routed out through prayer and fasting, so I add my fasting to his, and we present that to Jesus with our prayers. How can our dear Jesus refuse to hear our prayers? He cannot.

Again, I wish to stress that I believe covering is a calling. Just as not everybody is called to have a large family, and not everybody is called to homeschool, not every woman is called to cover her head. Not everyone is called to fast, certainly not the infirm. But all of us are called to holiness, and all of us are called to unite our sufferings with Christ for the sake of His Body. We are all called to love each other as Christ loved us, and He loved us to the death. So do not be afraid to die to yourself for your fellow brother and sister. TheFatimachildren went without meals, and put rocks in their shoes. Some saints kept difficult hours so they could put in extra prayer time. Some people wear hairshirts to render themselves a bit uncomfortable amidst all the comforts of our modern day. For some, spousal submission is a sacrifice in itself. Our Lady of Fatima said that in our day, simply performing the duties of our state in life would be penitential. How correct she was! Although conveniences have vastly increased, it seems increasingly difficult in our society to discern how to be a good wife and mother, and how to accomplish that. We are a distracted and confused generation! I pray that you take the time to pause, and listen in your heart to where in your life Jesus might be calling you to join Him on the cross. Every little bit of grace you earn for those of us struggling through life now, and those who have gone before us, brings great joy to the heart of Jesus. When you accept suffering into your life with joy, Jesus will look at you and see….Himself.

“Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I am a minister in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me to bring to completion for you the word of God, the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past. But now it has been manifested to his holy ones, to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; it is Christ in you, the hope for glory. It is he whom we proclaim, admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle , in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.” Colossians 1:24-29

God love you.

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the glory of God’s Creation

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miracles do you see them?

This is my first monthly Hearts At Home blog hop post.  The third Thursday of each month there will be a new HAH topic.  Today we consider miracles; and their role in our lives and our faith: 

Miracles are real, they abound daily.  Some astound the educated and flash for the entire world to see.  Some whisper and speak God into the soul of the needy faithful.  Most people expect, when you speak of a miracle, something substantial and grand like the blind being given sight, the lame walking, the dead rising.  Those are all miracles Christ Himself did in his time on earth; but to be a miracle does it have to be so dramatic?

Simply put from the Catholic Encyclopedia:  A miracle is a factor in the Providence of God over men.  Furthermore:  the contention of some modern writers, that a miracle requires an immediate action of Divine power, is not true. It is sufficient that the miracle be due to the intervention of God, and its nature is revealed by the utter lack of proportion between the effect and what are called means or instruments.

Grand sweeping miracles do still happen, and are real; consider Fatima, 1917 between 70,000 and 100,000 people, witnessed the sun dim, change colors, spin, dance about in the sky, and appear to plummet to earth, radiating great heat in the process. After the ten-minute event, the ground and the people’s clothing, which had been drenched by a previous rainstorm, were both dry.  Nevertheless a miracle, by definition, does not have to be grand to be real.

A miracle is actually any event that is the result of an action by God; be it unexpected such as surviving a disaster that logically the person should not have; or “simply” an aspect of life that requires God’s agreement and participation to occur such as conception and birth.  Miracles are God evident in our daily walk; again a miracle is God’s province over man.  To deny miracles, or only look for the flashy ones, is to deny or limit God in our lives. 

These common miracles as one might call them for lack of a truly correct or better term; relate to the understanding that miracles are understood as being works of God, through the prayers.  Daily miracles are prays answered; big and small.  Miracles are God acting in our live; interacting with us according to His will and His plan.

A miracle is my oldest Godson who fought death the night he was born, complete with a life flight at less than12 hours old and time on life support.  Today he is a strong happy, growing pre-teen anticipating middle school in the fall.  He is a live due, fully, I believe, to the power of intercessory pray, his life is evidence of a victory in a very real spiritual battle.

A miracle is another year, another day, with my dear dear dear friend diagnosed with breast cancer when her youngest son vas 8 months old.  Today he is 3.5 and still has a healthy happy momma caring for him.  Each new day we still have her blessing all of our lives is evidence of God in our lives, a miracle.

A miracle is my oldest son; a miracle is my youngest son …

A miracle is God interacting with you…what miracles have you seen today?

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