Expect great things from the Lord

This week for the first and last time, all three of my sons were in the same Christmas program at school. My eldest had overcome many fears to take on a lead role, and I had volunteered to work with the kids on their lines so was personally invested in many of them-I was looking forward to a special night of triumph over fear, kindergarten sweetness and just basking in the glow of our amazing community, which is like family to me.

The principal wrote a special note telling parents not to arrive until 6, so I was surprised to arrive at 6 and find a packed house. I was a little heartsick to take a seat at the back, but I accepted it, sitting quietly waiting for my husband to park the car – at least I would still be able to see the show.

Suddenly out of nowhere, a girlfriend walked back and invited me to take two extra seats in the fourth row exactly right where my son with the larger role would be for the whole night. I almost wanted to cry it was so perfect!

She told me “a little voice inside me told me to offer YOU the seats.” I am so blessed to have friends, who listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

It has been a personally challenging week for me as well, due to some issues with a difficult family member, who has often caused me to be humbled in following the Lord by picking up my cross in forgiveness and praying to understand her hurtful behavior over the years. I’ve often felt I needed to take the “back seat” in life, due to this extra burden she has put on my shoulders.

Being invited to the “front row” reminded me of Luke 14:11 “All who exalt themselves will be humbled and all who humble themselves will be exalted.” I got the message from God loud and clear: If I keep following the Lord and doing what I think is right in His name, He’ll lift me up to where I belong where the time is right – it’s inevitable and has nothing to do with me, it’s simply how He operates.

Jesus, thank You for victories over fear, the blessings of community and the Holy Spirit. Please give us the grace to trust You through the trials of life. Help us face life’s challenges with open, forgiving, humble hearts. Give us the strength to persevere until the day where you lift us up to our rightful place in Your Kingdom. Amen. 

 

What to expect when you follow the still small voice of God

On my honeymoon in Hawaii years ago, everything was perfect except we could never figure out how to get to any of the obscure nature viewing areas we’d read about.

Whenever we asked for help, the locals led us on strangely roundabout paths. One would direct us this way to a random landmark that looked like all the other ones along the road, and we’d miss it. Then another would send us back in the other direction or into the jungle on a randomly flooded dirt road – even though we had nothing to do but relax and find our way, it drove me crazy not knowing where we were going. I guess my type A personality collided with the mellow, trusting aloha spirit.

But in the end, all was well. We eventually made it to our beautiful destination with a few extra funny stories under our belts. Just thinking about it brings back wonderful memories.

As I’ve grown more spiritually connected over the years, I’ve decided the Still Small Voice of God operates a little bit like the Hawaiian locals on our honeymoon.

When I ask for guidance, God doesn’t give me the whole plan at once – He just nudges me randomly in a particular direction I don’t understand, and when I inevitably get lost, He nudges me again back into the opposite direction or up a windy road that kind of scares me. I’ve come a long way in learning to trust these little angel whispers, but just like it did with the aloha spirit-my type A personality sometimes collides with the purely peaceful, infinitely wise Holy Spirit.

In the end though, I’m always glad I trusted the Lord. He has led me to some truly gorgeous places of freedom that I could have never found or even imagined were possible without Him. For that! I am incredibly grateful.

Lord, help us hear Your voice in our hearts, so we can follow You always! Even though You lead us in winding ways we don’t fully understand, we know Your way is always best. Thank You for Your guidance always. In Jesus name, Amen. 

What’s Your relationship with the Still Small Voice of God? Do you follow the angel whispers or intuitions? Share your experiences below, and I’ll pray for your connection to God to grow even stronger! 

Find a way to do what you loved as a child

At my son’s recent field trip to a literary festival, one of the speakers said “the happiest adults are those, who find a way to do what they loved as a child.”

This caught my attention because after ten years of being a stay-at-home mom, I sent my baby to kindergarten this fall. I’m in a transition period of my life and open to possibilities of what to do next.

Yes, I love writing, and that’s where most of my drive is right now. But what did I love as a child? Building forts in the neighbor’s lilac bushes when they were in bloom, playing running bases in the front yard with my brothers, creek walking and riding bikes into town for cheese fries … none of those seem like good arrows pointing into the direction of a fruitful career.

But randomly this afternoon, I was flooded with a wonderful childhood memory, which makes me think I’m on track with my writing. I adored my silver-haired 6th grade English teacher Mrs. Obrien. She was a woman of great imagination, who brought each of us a tuppence from her annual trip to Ireland and dazzled us (or at least me) with tales of how she swam across an entire lake on vacation every summer. I also loved her dramatic re-enactments of classic literature – she was my favorite middle school teacher by far. 

More than anything, I loved how she’d have us write poetry by hand, then use colored pencils to decorate the page. I think it was my all-time favorite, most centering, even meditative, assignment in grade school.

In the past year, I’ve been surprised to find myself called to write mystical poetry. I absolutely love expressing my faith in this way and teaming it up with photography to illustrate the message – though it is hard work, it feels centering and satisfying to my soul. The creative wellspring is flowing.

BUT – I’ve been struggling to embrace this calling because I don’t think it’s a very practical thing to be doing, and I’m not very confident about sharing my work because I’m shy and prefer to be private with my faith.

The more I pray about it, the more I’m lead by God to continue writing and stretching my comfort zone by sharing it as much as possible. The writing has been a delight, the sharing a struggle.

Realizing this common thread back into my childhood regarding my love for poetry and images is reassuring somehow – at this point of stepping out on fath with my writing, it helps me trust that God created me for a purpose and this is part of it. He’s had this plan for me all along, and my job is to be obedient to His spirit like I have been for many years – this is just the next step in my journey, no big deal.

Psalm 139 13-14 For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.

So what about you? Do you know what God created You to do? What did you love doing as a child? Could you carve out a little time to resurrect that part of yourself soon, just to see what happened? Comment below, and I’ll lift you in prayer to live a fulfilling, joyful life doing exactly what God created you to do. We’re all in this faith journey together. 

Related Scripture

Matthew 18: 3-4 3 “Truly I tell you, He said, “unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven”

 

 

 

Miracles and Mysteries

When my infant son Dylan was miraculously healed of kidney disease after being prayed over by a healing priest, I was on fire with the Holy Spirit. My prayers had been answered in a profound way, and my world had been rocked.

Where before I had believed in God and prayed for healing miracles, now I had witnessed one first hand and had had an undeniable mystical experience, which profoundly increased my faith in God’s presence with us on earth. My life was changed forever.

I wanted to shout it from the rooftops: “God heals! Miracles happen!” When I did start telling people what happened, I quickly realized that sharing faith is about more than just miracle stories.

People have very real, very deep emotions and even anger at God, due to the unanswered prayers of their own lives. Many people doubt that God heals today like He did when He walked the earth. Instead of being the inspiration I hoped for, I learned that sharing miracle stories can trigger pain, anger, doubt, grief and other primal unprocessed emotions in many people, which need to be worked through.

I think this is understandable. Though I have been blessed with the gift of faith through trials, I have certainly gone through the gamut of emotions about seemingly unanswered prayers over the years.  Grief isn’t an easy process, and many people get stuck in it and lose their faith along the way.

I’ve realized that sharing faith with others is about more than sharing the spiritual highs and miracles we are blessed with. Though miracles can increase hope, truly sharing faith requires us to walk with people through pain, connecting to them on an emotional level through the trials of life and supporting their efforts to seek God through it all.

This is ultimately what Jesus did on the cross. In taking on the fullness of human suffering and even injustice, He emotionally and mystically connected with every human experience in order to redeem our relationship with God.

God has always tried to draw people to Him by connecting with us, wherever we are emotionally. For example in the Psalms, we are blessed with the full expresssion of every human emotion in right relationship to God. They help us realize that nothing we go through is new or unique – suffering is just a normal part of the spiritual journey, as are glorious unfathomable miracles.

As Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble, but take heart I have overcome the world.”

Through my writing over time, I hope to share the fullness of the trials and joys of what it really means to walk in a life of faith. Hopefully I’ll connect with some aching hearts along the way and help them open up to the infinite miraculous possibilities, which are born of faith.

What experiences have you had with miracles and unanswered prayers? Comment below, and I’ll lift you in prayer, wherever you’re at on your faith journey. God bless you to live a life rich with faith and miracles, even through hard times. 

What I loved about taking my kids to serve the poor

They dragged their heels, they complained. They made excuses and tried to get out of it, but I’m glad I followed through and had my 10 and 8 year old sons come with me to help serve meals to the poor at a soup kitchen on Thanksgiving weekend.

My kids are incredibly fortunate in every way and in spite of my best intentions, they’re probably a little spoiled. I want them to learn to be grateful even when they aren’t getting their way, and I want them to learn to think of others, work hard and gain a broader perspective of what’s important in life. I want them to learn to be true followers of Christ .

Even though they were genuinely nervous and intimidated by some of the people from different walks of life, who came through the line, I loved seeing them stretch their comfort zone to help strangers. I also loved seeing them muscle through the manual labor of drying dish after dish. Maybe most of all, I loved introducing them to the inspiring people, who gather to provide meals for those in need on a regular basis.

They didn’t love the experience, and I know they’ll probably resist it again next time I have them come with me. They have a long way to go to become the giving, generous men I am raising them to be, but I am grateful I for the opportunity to plant seeds in their hearts of what is important in life. I want them to feel proud knowing that they can do uncomfortable, hard things to help others.

God bless our kids with a servant’s heart! Give them a spirit of gratitude for all their blessings and generosity in helping others. 

What kinds of service projects to you involve Your kids in?  Please share ideas below, and I’ll lift your project up in prayer! 

What I loved about my first open mic night

I recently submitted a poem to a local community blog, which was curated by a spoken word artist. I personally am NOT a spoken word artist – at all.

I’m a very shy and private person, who likes writing poems to express my faith and encourage others. Since I’m writing more consistently now, I’m at a point of realizing I should probably put myself out there more and market my work, but I’m dragging my heels because it will be such an uncomfortable step for me, and I’m not sure if I’m ready for it.

Writing is the fruit of my prayer life, which is private between me and God. I feel that it’s fruitful in and of itself because I believe wholeheartedly in the power of prayer to effect change in the world. But I also feel that God is preparing me to share my work with others. As a baby step in that direction and a major stretch of my comfort zone, I decided to attend the open mic night with the intention of hopefully being brave enough to read my poem.

I thought it was so cool! When I got there, people were already performing spoken word poetry. It was a safe environment to share and some topics were pretty intense including suicidal depression, sexual assault and abuse, but there was also humor and encouragement. It was a wide range of authentic expressions of human experiences – I loved the poetry and the supportive atmosphere, especially the snaps people used to show approval of each other.

I am a huge advocate of expressing feelings.  I think it’s an important part of our faith journey to authentically process and work through the emotional side of our human experience. Even in studying the mind-body-spirit connection, I’ve learned how lodging emotions inside our bodies can negatively impact our physical not to mention spiritual health. In recent years, I’ve come to understand the poetry of the psalms as being God’s gift to us as role modelling how to express every human emotion in right relationship to faith-that’s a powerful thing and I believe the antidote to legalistic religion, which can be so harmful.

Though the topic of the community blog was faith, everyone who submitted to the blog approached that topic from a different angle with varying degrees of relationship to God – since I’m usually in a church environment where we’re all on the same page for the most part, it was refreshing to hear varying thought processes.

I was nervous, but I was so touched by the supportive atmosphere that got up and read my own short poem and was received with plenty of encouragement from the little coffee shop crowd – I’m giving myself snaps just thinking about it. Go me for being brave!

I have no idea where this writing journey will lead me, and I can’t really control it. But I can choose to be courageous and put myself out there one step at a time! One thing’s for sure: I have a LONG way to go!

How about you? Where are you at in your faith journey? Do you need prayers for courage to step outside your comfort zone into a new opportunity or experience? Comment below, and I’ll lift you up in prayer! 

God bless anyone reading this with the courage to step out on faith in the direction of God’s plan for your life! 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing my calling as a writer and mystic

It’s amazing the way God plants seeds of our destiny in us that we don’t fully understand until years later.

When I was 16, I developed a random interest in Emily Dickinson, and I received a book of her poetry for my birthday. I was drawn to it and liked the feeling I had when I read some of her poems, but I never fully understood most of them.

When I did my senior seminar thesis on her in college, I gained a somewhat deeper understanding of the mystical dimension of her work, but I still found it mysterious and struggled to make sense of her words intellectually.

Now that I finally realize God created me to be a mystic and writer, I understand that He spoke to me through her poetry, calling to a deeper part of myself that was longing for the mystical consciousness she conveyed through her words.

Her work called to the depths of my soul and awakened part of God’s plan for my life.  Even her lifestyle choice of solitude (that I didn’t understand *at all* as a teenager with a pretty active social life) called to my own deep need for space to contemplate, which has become increasingly important to me as I grow deeper in my spiritual connection.

Now that I’ve spent years following the Lord into prayerful contemplation as often as possible, I can more deeply understand the contrast between the soulful joy of authenticity and the superficial pleasure of praise that motivated Emily to write these famous words:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d banish — you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!

Like Emily, I am SO grateful to be “nobody” and delighted when I meet others, who are kindred spirits in that regard. I  express similar sentiments in this poem called “Embracing Ordinary”.

Now that I’ve been practicing contemplative prayer for many years, I have experienced the paradoxical mystical richness of solitude Emily describes in this poem:

There is another loneliness
That many die without,
Not want or friend occasions it,
Or circumstances or lot.

But nature sometimes, sometimes thought,
And whoso it befall
Is richer than could be divulged
By mortal numeral.

Like Emily, I have a sacred, achy, almost sad “loneliness” in my heart that I wouldn’t trade for anything in the world because it’s mixed with a mystical almost magical love for and connection to the Holy Spirit that keeps drawing me deeper into God’s mysteries. I wrote this poem called “definition of faith” to express that exact paradoxical reality.

Lately I am truly amazed at how God is bringing me full circle into my calling as a writer, a mother, a mystic, a prayer warrior and a peacemaker. I hope my words can help draw others to the Light of Christ. Please pray for me to follow Him always and light the spiritual path for others!

Do you know what your calling is? What dreams has God planted in your heart? Comment below, and I’ll pray for you to persevere through the peaks and valleys of following God’s plan  your life!