Another peek inside

  

Monday’s Supplications:

On Mondays, I pray for my own marriage and family, as well as those of my siblings, children, and dear friends.  Inside my orange pocket, I keep post it notes with names written on them.  It helps me to hold them while I pray, and say each name aloud as I lift them to the Father.

I ask the Lord each day to strengthen me with His Spirit, and specifically, on Mondays, I ask Him to give me a spirit of humility and meekness.  Before adding this to my prayers, I had no idea the struggle that my spirit would engage in as a result…because if you want to be filled with meekness and humility, you have to be emptied first of pride and selfish ambition.  For strong personalities such as mine this is a painful emptying.  It requires me to submit my ideas of what is black and white, right and wrong, fair and just to the One who defines it all…not easy for me, beneficial, yes…easy?  No, not so much.

I am trying to incorporate praying the rosary more, and offering up the intentions of the day while I meditate on the Joyful Mysteries.  I don’t yet have the mysteries memorized, so I keep a post it note on my Monday page to help me stay on track. Often, I will put on a youtube video and pray along, but in the event that I am praying on my own, in the quiet, without noise, I find post it notes to be a wonderful prayer aid.

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Common Sense – How to Be Happy

common sense 5

I love paradoxology.  I believe Jesus and His Apostles did too…consider:

  • Matthew 10:39 – He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it.
  • John 12:24 – Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
  • Romans 6:18 ~ and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
  • 2 Cor 12:10 ~ For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.
  • Philippians 3:7,8 ~ But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ.
  • James 4:10 ~  Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.

…and my favorite, which is the topic of this post, Acts 20:35 ~ In all things I have shown you that by so toiling one must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Because we are self-centered by nature, we can get so caught up in the pursuit of an elusive feeling of happiness, that we lose sight of the goal itself, that is the state of being happy.  The sad fact is, many of the things we pursue that we think will make us happy, only serve to bring us down, and we are stuck with a growing void in our lives, and happiness continues to escape our grasp.

I think Mother Theodore Guerin nailed it when she suggested that we will be happy when we turn the focus away from seeking to acquire it for ourselves, and instead aim to provide happiness to others.  When we are focused on the happiness of another, a strange phenomena occurs, without even trying to gain it for ourselves, it has unpacked and taken up residence in us.  This is a practical application of the teaching in Ecclesiastes 11:1, that of casting your bread upon the waters, and having it return to you after many days.

I am reminded of a sweet little poem that I found when I was a young mother:  Enjoy.

What We Give Away

The more you give, the more you get.
The more you laugh, the less you fret.
The more you do unselfishly,
the more you live abundantly.
The more of everything you share,
the more you’ll always have to spare.
The more you love, the more you’ll find
that life is good and friends are kind.
For only what we give away,
enriches us from day to day.
~Author unknown

Commit

CAST  your burden on the Lordand he will sustain you;
he will never permit the righteous to be moved.  Psalm 55:22

CAST your anxieties upon the Lord, because He cares for you.  1 Peter 5:7

I’m working on my prayer journal, and have come up with a simple(r) acronym that takes up less space in the binder than my previous ACT before you ASK routine did.

Commit
Adore/Affirm
Supplication/Satisfaction
Trust

There are a lot of C words that could be used for the first letter of my acronym, I’ve pondered on them all week, and they all are credible.  But ultimately, I chose the word Commit, because of these instructions of Sacred Scripture:
Ps 37:5, Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him, and he will act.
Prov 16:3   Commit your work to the Lordand your plans will be established.  

The dictionary defines the word as so:  (dictionary.com)

verb (used with object), committed, committing.
1.  to give in trust or charge; consign.
2.  to consign for preservation:

to commit ideas to writing; to commit a poem to memory.
3.  to pledge (oneself) to a position on an issue or question; express(one’s intention, feeling, etc.):

Asked if he was a candidate, he refused to commit himself.
4.  to bind or obligate, as by pledge or assurance; pledge:

to commit oneself to a promise; to be committed to a course of action.
5.  to entrust, especially for safekeeping; commend:

to commit one’s soul to God.
My definition of commit:  When I say that I am committed to God, it means that I give myself wholly to Him, pledging my heart, mind, and being, obligating myself to be used in His plan as He sees fit, trusting Him to keep me and provide what I need to best be used by Him.This word requires the operation of all the other c words that I considered:
  • Clear consciencePs 139:23 – I pray that the Lord would search me, know me, test me, and show me areas where I have failed to live up to His righteous standard.  I found several guides to making an examination of conscience, and I’ve heard of something called “examen” that I fully intend to look further into.  I made a page in my prayer journal for my examination of conscience.  This is how I do it now, and it seems to be working.
  • Conviction/convincingHe always answers.  Often, even before I ask for His help, I will be reminded in my spirit of  a sin that needs to be confessed, or a habit or part of my personality that needs to be addressed, or I’ll get an insight into an area that He’s at work in, that I’m making progress in, but could do better.  I really like the word “convince” better than “convict”, it brings to mind a mental picture of God’s Holy Spirit reasoning with mine, and bringing me to agreement with His views, instead of the mental picture of a lawbreaker being convicted and sentenced.  Both are accurate, and theologically sound, and believe me, I have heard that gavel slam down in my own convicted spirit more times than I can count, but I also have received the tender reasoning of the Holy Spirit, that quiets the debate in my rebellious spirit, and willingly submits to seeing it His way.  I much prefer the latter, don’t you?
  • Contrition/confession/cleansing – I use Psalm 51 as a prayer guide for this part of my routine.  If you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so…often…especially if you struggle with guilt and shame from sins of your past, or areas where you struggle to gain victory.  It is a beautiful prayer of agreement with God about how He sees sin.  It is a prayer of contrition, repentance, and forgiveness.  It ends with a petition for the ability to praise Him, and teach His ways to others.  This can only happen through a cleansed and consecrated heart.
  • Consecration – this is the act of setting something aside for a specific or particular use.  When we “consecrate” something, we make it “holy”, or we sanctify it.  When we give ourselves to God, He makes us holy, and sets us apart for a specific purpose in His kingdom.  I have a couple favorite prayers I use for giving myself to God.  Some days, I don’t feel I have much to offer, and am reminded that whatever I have or don’t have, I am His, and if he wants to use me wounded and broken, I’m His.  If I’ve experienced his healing hand, or a renewed sense of purpose, it’s for Him, as I have obligated myself to His service.  Alone in my own thoughts, or actively engaged in my parish or community…I belong to Him…it’s up to Him, I’m just the vessel.  Now that He has cleansed me, I ask Him to pour Himself through me.  I pray that others will see Him in me, first in my vocation at home and with my family, and then to my parish family, and neighborhood friends and acquaintances.

I’ve found the secret to casting my burdens, cares, anxieties, and fears on the Lord begins with the recognition that I need Him, I am loved and called by Him, and that I belong to Him.  When I give myself fully to the Lord, to be used as He sees fit, He is faithful to sustain me, just as He promised.

Anxieties

anxiety

Having an affliction is not a sin, it is a cross.  Paul was given a thorn in his flesh, so that He could know sufficiency of God’s grace.  I believe we all have our thorns, and anxiety is one of them.  Interesting to note, Christ had thorns in his flesh too, crowning his head.  I wonder if Paul was alluding to that when he penned this passage.

Since we are not God, and we cannot see or know the heart of another, it is uncharitable at best to pile on a heavy burden on top of the cross they already bear by taking God’s job in judgment.  We are called to bear one another’s burdens, not add to them!  Be a Barnabus, not like one of Job’s friends!  Speak words of encouragement, not pessimistic judgment.  Help a struggling brother, don’t add to his misery.

I love this quote by C.S. Lewis.  As a Christian, because you are part of the body of Christ, if you struggle with anxiety (or panic disorders, or depression), you are being given an opportunity to share in the passion of Christ.  He gives you this cross because He loves you and lives through you.  Your pain can do one of two things, depending on how you appropriate it; it can drive you away from the Lord in bitterness or discouragement, or it can envelop you deeper into His heart, where you find that you live and move, reside and rest.

Teaching Good Things

Titus 2:3…tell the older women to be reverent in behavior, not to be slanderers or slaves to drink; they are to teach what is goodso that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be self-controlled, chaste, good managers of the household, kind, being submissive to their husbands, so that the word of God may not be discredited.

I know I’m an idealist by nature.  I love the mental picture of a grandmother passing recipes, or household tips, or precious Scriptural truths to her children’s children.  So much do I love this picture, that you can imagine my JOY when Pope Francis declared “mothers and grandmothers are the ones who first transmit faith.”  For sure, Mommas and Grandmothers spend a lot of time nurturing and caring for the young ones as they grow.  This passage in Timothy speaks to women about what they need to be passing on to future generations.  And there is a goal in mind, a logical, and spiritual reason why these things need to be modeled, taught, and passed on, so that the Word of God will not be discredited (or as one translation says “maligned”).  How easy it is to degrade and slander God’s word, if we lack reverence, self-control, or self-discipline.

Every woman is older than some woman, right?  So, no matter the age, every woman has a vocation of sorts, to the younger women around her..starting with her own children.  In many places, there has been a breakdown in the ideal, and we’ve lost the art of holy mentoring.  The generations that are following have not received sound doctrine, and are lacking in the ability to pass on this knowledge, because for whatever reason, they missed the passing of the baton.  I happen to believe that young people are hungry for a better way, and are looking for someone to show them.  As Christian women, we need to be sensitive to opportunities to carry out this exhortation, and courageous enough to step out of our comfort zone and invest in others.

When I was a young mom, I looked for Titus 2 examples to follow.  I am so thankful for a handful of ladies who came alongside me and poured their life through me.  They shared honestly their triumphs and failures as wives, mommas, and followers of Christ.  I gleaned from their experiences, and I tried hard to imitate their successes and avoid their failures.  They taught by their life and example what was good.  They showed me practical ways of how to love my husband and children, how to be chaste and kind, how to manage my time and my home, and what a woman looks like when she is pursuing God, and striving to please Him. Because they put their time and energy into helping me on my way, their words carried weight.  I knew their advice was sound because of the life they lived in front of me.  Their walk matched their talk, and the Word of God was honored and cherished, and honestly esteemed…and a cool thing happened…I wanted to be like them.  What I had been given was too good to keep to myself, I had to share it…and so, the cycle continues.

I am now in a position of passing on what I know to the next generation, starting with my own grown children who need encouragement, sound teaching, and good examples.  That doesn’t mean I’ve arrived!  Hey, I’m still younger than many, and I have need of encouragement and training in new areas.  I’ve not had much training or practice being an empty nester, or a mother-in-law, or a grandmother.  And living 2000 miles away from half my family adds a challenging dynamic to the mix.  But beyond that, spiritually, I’m a baby convert to the Catholic faith.  I’m learning as I go, and I crave one on one relationships that I can watch and learn from the example and teaching of others who are seasoned, well catechised, and firm in their faith.  I’m finding a fun twist on this “older women” thing, and that is, I am learning from biologically younger women who are spiritually years ahead of me in the faith.  Just because you are “young” doesn’t mean you don’t have something to offer your sisters in Christ.

I’ve recently happened upon a new podcast called Good Things Radio.  I don’t know if their conscious intent was to publicly obey Paul’s teaching on live radio, but that is exactly what they are doing.  Brooke and Jennifer are both wives, Moms, and women of faith.  Now, I’m not saying they are old, I’m certain they are both several years younger than I, but I am so very much enjoying the conversation, teaching, loving, and friendly banter that this new venue provides.  Even from across the country, I find camaraderie and sweet fellowship in their conversations, I learn something new, or find something new to ponder on every podcast,  and I want to share them with everyone I know!  Check out their website, sign up for their podcast, and follow them on facebook.   When you find Brook and Jennifer, you’ve found a good thing.


When God Bends Down

Psalm 116 – paraphrased by me

I love the Lord, because he hears and answers my prayers.
Because he bends down to meet me where I am, I will continue to cry out to Him all my days.
Death came near to me, I thought my life was over, I was in trouble, and full of fear and distress.

Then I called out “Jesus, Lord, Jesus!  Help us!” when I thought we were going to die.

And God, who is full of mercy, protected us.  When I thought this life was over, He saved us.
Now my soul is at peace, because God has blessed us with life.

Lord, I know you have rescued me from death.  You dried my tears, and you kept my feet from tripping.
Because of your mercy and grace, I am still following You in the land of the living.
My faith was preserved, even in the middle of my distress and anxiety, when I forgot how to trust.
How could I repay your goodness and mercy to me?
By remembering the gift of your salvation when I called on Your Name.
I will follow through on the intentions of my heart, and the promises I have made to you in the presence of your people.

To die as a faithful servant of God is seen as a precious gift.
Lord, I am your servant, the daughter of your servant.
Thank you for unfastening my shackles.
I will bring the sacrifice of praise as I call on Your Name.
I will follow through on the intentions of my heart, and the promises I have made to you in the presence of your people.
In heaven’s courts, in the presence of Jerusalem, Praise the LORD!