The hard part

Did you notice how violently the tractor pulverizes the soil before planting?

Before they can ever dream of feeding people,

seeds need a soft place to grow.

We want to nourish others with God’s love,

but we aren’t willing to be treated like He was.

It’s all part of the process.

 

The illuminated path

I may never know, whose prayers first lit

the path beneath my feet.

But I think the best thank you note

is to march on,

illuminating the journey for others as I go.

In a sense, we each must walk alone.

Yet we’re always connected,

through the intentionality of our souls.

 

Mystical love story

The first encounter feels like a helium balloon of love,

floating us gently to new heights of peace and sweetness we’d never fathomed.

Sooner or later,

atmospheric pressure pops this bubble of perfection,

and gravity spirals us back down to the reality of earth,

where purgation starts like a strenuous climb.

A gift freely given must now be fought for

with everything we’ve got.

Really, we’re the lucky ones, who’ve even had a sense of it –

Mystical memory is etched deep in our souls,

illuminating our path and spurring us on.

The journey is arduous, but the destination calls us forth.

I’m here to tell you:

This is how you become capable of greater love.

I’m here to encourage you:

Angels accompany you through every trial.

I’m here to remind you:

The Glory of God is worthy of your effort.

 

Your worth

I am the very opposite of what I’m told a woman should be.

Fortunately, I have the strength to rebuke those voices,

and I know Who gave that strength to me.

What does it say about society,

when a woman can feel the power of God’s love coursing through the depths of her being,

and she has the grace to sense the pulsing grandeur of eternal life,

while her heart still beats …

What does it say about the world we live in, 

when she follows the illumnated path,

laid out especially for her by angels,

and she’s filled with a soulful knowing

that the  journey is worth every step out on faith …

What does it say about life, when her only peril on the road to freedom

is the pressure to conform to this age?

Why do we bully women into superficiality?

Why do we try to steal her innate connection to the power of God that wants nothing but good for all of us?

This is how it’s always been.

The question is:

Will we respond with courage of conviction

or will we give in?

Will we be forged into unshakable diamonds of eternal beauty

or will be be turned into dust?

Joy on the faith journey

“Joy is the net, which catches souls.” – Saint Teresa of Calcutta

Have you ever picked up a children’s book of Catholic saints and seen Saint Sebastian gazing upward toward heaven aglow with eyes of love, then been a little horrified to see he had bloody arrows in his chest portraying his martyrdom?

Did you panic a little when you learned about our hero Mother Teresa’s decades-long dark night of the soul period, when she didn’t feel the Lord’s presence even as she so clearly did His work serving the poorest of the poor?  

I think if we authentically take these icons to heart, it’s natural to squirm.

When he was still in preschool, my son shocked me by asking “If I want to be like Jesus, does that mean I have to die on a cross too?”

It ached to hear that question from his sincere little heart that I wanted so badly to protect, but it also made sense since he’s a perceptive kid. We took him to church every Sunday to worship an image of our Lord being violently murdered on a cross – naturally, he noticed it and had questions.

Don’t we all have questions about suffering at some point of our lives? If we serve a loving God, why is there so much pain in the world?  What’s the point of following the Lord if it can lead to such horrible outcomes like it did for some of the saints? Why did Jesus even have to die on the cross, when He had the power to avoid it?

As He was preparing the apostles for his death at the last supper, Jesus said “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)

Jesus wills our joy because He loves us – it really is that simple, even though it doesn’t feel like it when we’re struggling. Jesus Himself compared suffering we experience on earth as being worthwhile like having a baby. “When she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because the joy that a child has been born into the world.” (John 16: 20-22)

We can rest assured that Jesus allows our struggles for the sake of a greater good, whether we ever fully wrap our heads and hearts around that difficult truth or not. 

Saint Augustine explained it well “Since God is the highest good, He would not allow any evil to exist in His works unless his omnipotence and goodness were such as to bring good even out of evil.”

When we have faith, being loved by God can bring us immense joy, even in the face of suffering. No one forced the martyrs to offer their lives for the Lord. They did it from a great joy, love and faith within them, trusting that God would bring good out of their ultimate sacrifice.

Instead of fearing the sacrifices our faith may require of us, we should be praying for the grace of that joy, trust and faith the heroes of our faith posessed, which is ultimately the most liberating gift we can receive.

Having experienced the juxtaposition between awe inspiring miracles and encounters with the Lord and a fair share of hearache – I have wrestled with these questions, especially in light of wanting to share a healthy faith outlook with my children. 

I don’t remember how I answered my young son’s question at the time. But thanks to his innocent contemplation of the cross, I have been motivated to find peace with the whole concept of suffering and faith, even when it comes to my precious boys. 

Where before, I took my kids to church with a secret agenda of hopefully preventing them from ever suffering in their lives – Now, I bring my boys to church with a conscious agenda for them to be filled with the grace and joy it will take to realize that no matter what challeges life throws at them, their faith can give them the strength to respond with God’s love, which creates beauty out of the ashes.

I try to infuse the Lord’s strengt into them through my prayers, words, actions and attitude every single day. It’s a simple concept, really. What’s more important: What happens to you or how you respond? Will you respond with faith or fear? We always have a choice.

Don’t get me wrong! I still pray happiness and protection over my family every single day, but I also accept that the journey to the greatest joys God has planned for them will probably require them to work through some suffering, whether I like it or not. It actually already has! And it’s all good because every struggle we go through as a family solidifies our faith in God’s Divine Providence and ability to create beauty out of struggle. 

Jesus, You said “In this world you will have trouble, but take Heart I have overcome the world.” We need your grace to help us accept the reality of suffering in our world. Please fill our hearts with such an outpouring of Your Love, Joy and Peace that Your Grace overflows into everyone we encounter throughout our lives. Help us to know Your love and trust You on such a deep level that we are willing to bring Your Truth into difficult situations, even at personal expense. Give us the grace of Faith to truly believe in Your loving to create beauty from ashes. Help us to always live in the Light of Your Promises and experience the fullness of Your life and joy through it all. Amen.

 

Answering the calling

Do you know what God is calling you to do? www.uniteinprayer.org

It’s like a little ball of light in your heart that glows

and gets bigger the longer you follow it.
Brighter
and bolder too.

It will help to know some things in advance.

While mesmerized by the brilliance of it,
You can fully expect to be led into dark places that terrify you
and make your soul scream with the heaviness of every emotion you’ve ever avoided.
You will ache deeply.

The light will be your only consolation until it’s gone.

One day after putting all your hope and trust in it for years and
letting go of everything else in the process,
it will disappear entirely from your view.
You will be left alone,
lost in the deepest woods to fend for yourself with no comfort.

Being prepared for this won’t make it any easier.
But please know in advance that this journey is worth the toll it takes.

You are going somewhere.
Your trust was not misplaced, and
when the light comes back it will be more radiant than the brightest dawn.

You will be illuminated with every love, joy and truth known to man.
The glistening purity will pierce your soul, and
You will know the difference between who you are and what it is

Suddenly, you will be free to do more than blindly follow:
You will become one with the light.
Others will sense something luminous in you and have an opportunity to decide for themselves.

Is there any other path to freedom?

Reflection: Have you ever thought about what your calling from God is before? Have you ever had a sense that God was nudging you to follow him in a particular way? Did you listen? Have you ever prayed to God for guidance? Do you have the courage to follow Him even if He asks you to do hard things? 

Prayer: God bless everyone reading this to hear Your calling for their life! Fill their heart with a sense of Your presence, adn give them the courage to follow Your voice, along with the strength to persevere through their highest calling from You. 

Spiritual Toolbox: If you’re still learning to tune into Divine Guidance, I encourage you to try Lectio Divina. It’s an ancient practice of diving into the Word of God in order to receive guidance from the Holy Spirit. Learn more here.