Category Archives: Trusting in God

No room in this inn

Good Saint Joseph has been on my mind this morning. As I reflected on the Joyful Mysteries, I paused at the Nativity. I thought about what it must have felt like to be St. Joseph. Here he was given the tremendous responsibility of caring and providing for the Holy Family, yet one of his first tasks is a complete and total failure by human standards. His very pregnant wife, the Blessed Virgin Mary, must have felt horribly for him as he knocked at each inn door in Bethlehem. I’m sure he worked hard to find them a safe place to spend the night. But in the end, there was no room in the inn.

Many Christians and non-Christians seem to be following the idea: if you believe, you will succeed. If this was truth, then surely St. Joseph would have easily found a room for him and his expectant wife. However, neither Mary’s prayers or St. Joseph’s prayers were answered. Perhaps, God had a greater plan than either of them could humanly see or conceive.

How often have I fallen into the trap of the wrong belief I mention above. I would add my own twist which is: if you believe and work hard, you will succeed. God has allowed me to experience plenty failures when I pursue things that really don’t matter. He can see inside my heart and knows when I need a good dose of humility. My self-reliance and pride can kick into high gear very easily, and only He knows how to temper that for me. When I am full of myself, there is no room in the inn for God or the Holy Spirit. It’s when I let go of my grand plans and acknowledge that my entire existence rests in His hands that wonderful things begin to happen. Sometimes, I have had to knock on many doors before I realize I am knocking on the wrong doors. He just patiently waits for me or sometimes knocks me over to get my attention!

Let’s pray for the intercession of St. Joseph the Worker when we find ourselves struggling with pride or self-reliance.

St. Joseph, pray for us.
Blessed Virgin Mary, pray for us.
Jesus, I trust in you!

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Finding Our Green Thumbs

Our little garden is growing! I am so excited and so are the kids. You may think this sounds silly, but honestly, we put a lot of hard work into tilling the soil, clearing the tree roots and prepping the area so that our plantings would grow.  And now they are growing!

Our past attempts at a vegetable garden ended terribly. First, I chose a section of ground that was too large for one gardener. Second, I planted whatever my children selected from the seed store. Third, I didn’t really spend any time reading what each plant needed. Fourth, I ignored the fact that bunnies and squirrels and birds lived throughout our back yard. Fifth, I didn’t see a need for fencing or protecting these plants, figuring there would be enough for the animals and us. Finally, my children were about 10 years younger and their patience level was much less, too. So I had no time to ponder and plan as they wanted to plant their seeds and right now! The concept of patience and waiting was not so well-developed in them at that time, as well as the concept of growth taking time.

The results of our first garden almost ten years ago was a small breakfast cereal bowl of lettuce with a few carrots–as in two. The rest of the lettuce was devoured by our bunny friends before it even grew much above the ground. The carrots were also uprooted. The pumpkin and squash vines grew all over the garden, making us guess that we would have a bumper crop. Somehow, pollination just didn’t happen. Our flowers never became pumpkins. Lazy bees? Sick bees? Who knows! But no pumpkins or squash. We also planted some sunflowers which the kids were certain would grow huge. Hmmmm, I don’t think they even started out of the ground. With all the work we did for that garden, the kids were not very enthused about a bowl of lettuce and a few carrots. In fact, I think I ate the lettuce!

Fast forward to today. We only planted herbs, but my tea has already been quite tasty with some fresh mint leaves. The kids are planning to make Signora Maria’s famous homemade Marinara Sauce with fresh basil from the garden. Only a few more weeks and we’ll hopefully have tomatoes. We have lots of other herbs that my “sous chefs” will find recipes for. It should be a tasty summer.

My youngest has been taken on official watering status. Although God has been providing a lot of rain, she stands at the ready to fill in when needed. Tiny weeds have started peaking through the soil. She and I will tackle those tomorrow, while we smile at the giant tomato plants that have already grown taller than their stakes!

 

Summer Freeze Bath

Transitioning into summer has been like jumping into an ice-cold river! The universe seemed to get a signal that school was wrapping up and began to send wave upon wave of intensity at my doorstep. I thought I was ready for summer. Now I am not so sure.

I suppose my youngest said it best. We headed out to weed the front beds and she informed me, “Why did we wait so long to get to this? Look at all the weeds!” She was right. It had been too many weeks. But family and friends and family and vacations and visits came tripping into our lives day after day since before the end of May. If we had a free moment, we were either all doing laundry and putting our house back in order or not feeling well. This is the first weekend in a long time that our calendar is actually readable.

I had a lot of amazing plans for this summer. I wanted to get back into the bible study that the kids and I started last summer. I mentioned that our chef (a/k/a me) who prepares lunch and dinner would need a sous chef this summer and that each child would get a turn. I haven’t even started planning my overnight week camp for cousins and friends.

But reality is much different from plans. My focus has shifted from the “would like to’s” to the “have to’s”. I have a house to finish remodeling along with many repairs to be made. I have to take the youngest to their swim lessons and the oldest to his college classes. I have to find a way to let the children play, yet have time to get these “have to’s” done. The list keeps growing and I am feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Although I think I am flexible and can roll with changes, I have not been handling all this very well. I got a little grumpy with God. I had to go to Confession again! Yes, I am definitely a sinner. My little plans had to shift. I should know by now that God has a bigger, better plan. But I don’t always have the faith I need. As my wise friend said, “You know what the motto in Hell is, don’t you? I did it MY way!”

I am so thankful for the Sacred Heart Sisters who shared with me and my family on a weekend retreat. They refilled my heart with good thoughts and solutions. They live their faith, and their joy is contagious. I sure needed that lift as I head into this summer. Thank you, God, for Sister Rose, Sister Teresa, Sister Adriane, and Sister Laura! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

Worry or Pray

I occasionally struggle with worry, especially when it comes to my dear ones facing problems that are out of our control. Today, a friend of mine shared this story:

A long time ago, a wise judge was faced with a room full of upset people. They all had many worries and wanted his advice. He asked them all to write down the one most important worry that they had in their life and place it in a large earthen jar. After everyone had placed their worry in the jar, he asked them to now draw one worry out of the jar. As probability would have it, each drew a different worry than their own. After reading their selected “new” worry, they all decided they would like to have back their own original worry!

As a Christian, I know that I am called to either worry or trust. It is that simple. But as a human, I find myself with my stomach in knots and my mind racing about how I can help. I get so caught up in the emotional side of the event, that I totally neglect the spiritual side.

This week, my family received heart-breaking news. It was so out of our control that we all felt helpless. Being physically far away forces me to simply pray because it’s all I can do. I realize now that it is what we should do first anyway! While my family scrambled to take action, I took to prayer. In my many sighs and tears to God, He revealed to me that the family member needed healing–spiritual healing. That’s when I took action. I made phone calls and helped arrange for a priest in another city to visit this family member. At first, I met with lots of barriers. But I have a not-so-secret weapon called “The Divine Mercy Chaplet.” At the hour of mercy (3:00 p.m.), I begged God to send me a holy priest. I was getting nowhere by myself and needed His help. Within 30 seconds of finishing my prayer, the phone was ringing and a priest was on the line. The ending of this Chaplet prayer is: “Jesus, I trust in you.” Such a simple prayer, yet so easy to forget, and even harder to do!

For the birds

Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? (Matthew 6:26)

I think the birds have it right. They wake up around 5:25 a.m. and start singing with a zest for life. I mean, they really and truly let it out with chirrups and tweets, trills and whistles. This morning, I was tired, but I couldn’t stay asleep. The birds just sounded so happy. Right outside my bedroom window is giant pear tree. I have no idea how many birds’ nests are tucked away in that tree, but it sounds like a symphony of song each morning.

This afternoon, I decided it was time to tackle the front garden with weeding, trimming and de-bugging. Luckily, my children and I had already weeded a few times, so that part didn’t take so long. And the trimming went quickly, too. However, the de-bugging was another story. I had to wash each leaf of my holly bushes because they were loaded with eggs. I agree with my daughter. If I had to guess, I would say Japanese beetle eggs. I am spraying each leaf and thinking to myself, “Why don’t all those birds eat these eggs? I bet they are full on protein and easier to catch than a worm.” Of course, the eggs smell horrible and look like dirt. Okay, maybe the birds aren’t so dumb after all.

Tonight, as the sun begins to set, and I am typing this blog, the birds are back in their nests. I have no idea what they are chirping about. Maybe it’s the feral black cat that just had kittens in the woods. Or I imagine the conversation goes like this:

Mom-Bird chirps, “Hey, honey, where are you? I am sitting with the babies and I am hungry. I need a break or some food.” but it sounds like, “Chirp, chirp-chirp? Twit-twitty twit. Chirpy, chirp, twit, chirp chirp.” (You get the idea….)

Dad-Bird replies, “Coming, Dear!” and thinks to himself, “That gal is always hungry. Doesn’t she realize what hard work I have done building her nest? I’m hungry, too. I know she doesn’t want me to drop over dead from hunger with our babies in the nest. I think I will eat one more worm before I head back.”

Mom-Bird chirrups, “Honey, I’m not kidding. I need a break. When you gotta go, you gotta go, you know? Get here now!”

All the Baby-Birds join in, “We’re hungry! We’re bored! We’re thirsty! We’re tired! We want food now!”

Dad-Bird swoops in to relieve Mom-Bird.

Suddenly all is eerily quiet….

“Hooo, hoo.  Twit-twoo.” The old owl lets them know he is around and the birds all lay low.

As the sun descends, the last sound I hear is the gentle coo of turtle doves.

Good night, birds. Sleep tight, birds. Don’t let the bed bugs bite, birds.

A Poem for B

A bird fell from the sky today,

Its broken wing, so hard to see.

The rain like tears washed its body,

As we gathered round deciding what to do.

 

It chirped and pecked to keep us out.

We stood confused not knowing what to do.

Too long, too long and our worry grows

Our prayers and sighs slowly rise.

 

Please heal, restore and mend, we pray.

Keep this sweet bird within Your hand.

So many tangled webs around it,

and only You can set it free.

And the next Judas is….

Today is the Feast Day of St. Matthias. If you are not familiar with him, he is the apostle who replaced Judas Iscariot the betrayer of Jesus Christ. In fact, the apostles had to choose between Matthias and another witness of the resurrection, Barsabbas also known as Justus. Wow, how do you make that choice? Well, the apostles give us a great lesson in decision-making:

1) Identify the real problem. St. Peter does this well in the Acts of the Apostles Chapter 1: 15-17. Judas was “allotted a share in this ministry.” And now Judas is gone. Who will take up that allotted share?

2) Turn to God’s Word (the Bible) for solutions. Of course, at this time, it would be from the Old Testament, as the New Testament wasn’t yet written. St. Peter quotes the Book of Psalms, “Let his encampment become desolate, and may no one dwell in it. and: May another take his office.” God is telling them that they must find another person to take up Judas’ office of ministry.

3) Consider friends or family who have walked the walk. St. Peter explains that whoever they choose to replace Judas should be someone “who accompanied us in the whole time the Lord Jesus came and went among us, beginning from the baptism of John until the day on which he was taken up from us, become with us a witness to his resurrection.” Although there may have been quite a number of disciples, St. Peter understood how critical it was for their community to have leaders who actually saw and believed from the very beginning.

4) Pray for guidance. Even after selecting two candidates, St. Peter and the apostles called down the Holy Spirit to guide them in this decision.

5) Trust in God to provide the answer. Using lots, they discovered it was Matthias who should serve in Judas’ place.

I have always wondered how it felt to be St. Matthias. He was there since the beginning, hanging around the twelve apostles and Jesus. He actually witnessed the Resurrection. And now, God bestows on him the ministry that Judas turned away from. Did St. Matthias ever imagine this plan of God’s? He most likely had no idea that he would be called to fill in for such an important role in history. He was probably simple and humble and faithful (having been there since the beginning). He most likely thought that Barsabbas would be a better choice, but prayed that God’s will be done. What a surprise God had in store for him!

 

Husbands Should Discover Secret to Best Mother’s Day Present

I wondered what searching the internet for these keywords, “Best Mother’s Day Gifts for 2014” would uncover. Fox News listed a Top 10 which was mostly comprised of ways to get mom in shape (5 out of the 10 items).  Glamour had 22 suggestions of comfort or vanity items from food to kitchen utensils. Real Simple offered 40 ideas focused on gardening, kitchen and clothing style. And here’s the real kicker, AskMen.com was the highest ranking website. They just listed a bunch of items you can buy in all categories that might interest women. Personally, I think they must pay some big bucks to a really great SEO optimization company.

All this to say that I feel sorry for husbands who are desperately seeking something to give their wife for Mother’s Day on behalf of their children and family. Although some women thrive on receiving “gifts” that are costly, deep down I hope and pray all women understand that there is no gift in this world that can even come close to truly affirming what being a mother means.

Here’s the thing: being a Mom is the most incredible gift our good God gave to us women. He allowed us, with our spouse, to be a partner in creation. When God created, He created out of love, not out of need. In fact, His creation is love. We, as wives, are called to be mutually self-giving with our spouse and to create with God. The result of this is a wonderfully amazing, compact gift from God called a baby. And that baby starts at conception. I have no idea how the sperm and the egg connect and create a baby. But I do know one thing for sure: I have never known an ape or frog or turtle that was naturally conceived in the womb of a woman. When I became pregnant with my first child, I did not have to wonder if I would have a baby monkey or a baby human!

God tells us in the Bible that we are made in His image and likeness. Can we understand this mystery? I’m not so sure. Can we appreciate that we carry this inside us? Can we fully understand the responsibility we have for caring for His children who are also made in His image and likeness? If you are a mother, this is the most important thing you can do while on planet earth. Period. God wants you to love and cherish and raise your children.

Think about it. God celebrated the first Mother’s Day when he put old Adam to sleep and made Eve from his rib. He understands what a gift a mom is for her entire family. If a husband wants to really honor his wife, he may want to start by acknowledging that he is incredibly thankful that his wife had their children. He should simply recognize what the world will not recognize–that motherhood is a gift from God and by his wife saying, “Yes” to children, she gave the greatest gift to him and the family. Finally, he should even be open to having as many more as God will provide. But that takes faith, of course.

Frightening Fairy Tales of Today

My youngest daughter asked me to read some fairy tales to her this evening. She found a book entitled, “The World’s Best Fairy Tales” that was published in the late 1960’s. As I began reading aloud, my oldest daughter found her way into the room, too. The first tale was called “The Golden-Headed Fish.” It became clear to me that many parts of the story sounded very familiar. Then I realized that the Book of Tobit in the Bible seemed to share certain themes with this fairy tale: an elderly person suffering from blindness, a fish that could help cure this, a servant who had amazing abilities to help, and even a beautiful, young lady whose husbands had all died on their wedding night. Although the Book of Tobit was written in the 2nd Century B.C., the Golden-Headed Fish is an Armenian fairy tale that was translated into English then published in the late 1800’s. The date of origin seems to be unknown.

The next tale was the well-known “Hansel and Gretel.” Both girls knew this story but had forgotten certain parts of it. As I read to them the beginning part of the story where the father is worrying because he cannot provide their daily bread, I said to them both, “Well, I guess he didn’t have a very strong faith in God.” My youngest said, “Mom, they don’t seem to believe in God in a lot of these fairy tales.”

Both of my girls had read more recent, revised versions of Hans Christian Andersen fairy tales from the library. In this 1960’s version, the step-mother was wanting to abandon the children. The new version didn’t show this ugly side of human nature. As we moved through the story, and we arrived at the section where Hansel and Gretel are alone deep in the forest by themselves at night, Hansel said to Gretel that they should rely on God. This also struck my daughters’ ears. “Mom, they never mention God in the new version at all. Hansel and Gretel never even say anything like that.”

Well, why do I find this surprising? To sum up: the most recent revisionist fairy tales present a milk toast version that is politically correct and has not only made human nature remarkably unspoiled, but it has also nixed the idea of needing to rely on God for anything. And we wonder why our children and our world have troubles? You will have to wait for my future post when I tell you what they have done to “The Little Red Hen.”

Running from Job

God has been telling me lately to read the Book of Job. I have read the Book of Job many times, and the last time I read it, I really liked it. I liked that he had tremendous faith. I liked that he had the fortitude to even respond to his “friends” who were not being very understanding of his situation. I liked that although he had some pretty frank discussions with God, he ultimately revered and trusted in Him.

Last year, my sister told me she was supposed to read the Book of Job, and she really didn’t enjoy that book of the Bible. I told her all these encouraging words about how great Job was and how amazing his faith was. I told her that this was a story of triumph. Yes, it was a difficult story, but it had a really good ending.

Today, I am about halfway through Job. I should have already read it by now. I just cannot seem to want to read it. Here I was, encouraging my sister when heavy things were coming into her life. And now that I am heading there, I’m running away. I have had to force myself to read Job. How hypocritical am I? This is embarrassing to admit, but I have let my feelings get in the way of listening to God. Because I am not feeling good about reading Job, I’ve dragged my feet. I’ve even taken to reading Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations! My son told me it was a good book, and even though I have read it before, I thought now would be a good time to dive into this massive piece of fiction! Ha, Ha. Oh the lengths we go to so that we can avoid facing what we need to face.

Tonight, I plan to read another chapter of Job. I plan to listen to what God has to say to me. Then, I will fall asleep finding out what’s in store for Pip. I have a feeling that his “great expectations” may not end up so great after all.