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A year ago yesterday I fell on my knees in this spot, before Our Lord in the Eucharist, for the first of many times.  As a missionary sang “This Is My Desire” – the song that the Holy Spirit had played over and over in my head that entire day – I wept in front of the altar at Our Lady of Perpetual Help and surrendered all of me to His use for the Kingdom.  I had no clue what that would mean for the next year.  What an amazing year it has been.  Fiat!

Living sanctuary…..

It’s been a crazy, blessed, busy summer!

In June, on Pentecost, our two oldest children (Peyton, 14, and Jazlyn, 11) made their profession of faith, were received into the Church, and received their First Holy Communion!

In July, Peyton and I had the privilege of participating in Prayer and Action – a week-long mission within our diocese with teens from other parishes.  I went without expectation and ended up profoundly moved!  It seems selfish to have gone to serve others and somehow received so much.  I would live P&A year-round if I could!  We got a lot done in the little town of Belleville during our week there, and I know the other weeks did too!

Last week I went on a 4 day hermitage at the base of the Rocky Mountains (just enough to be out of the city, not enough to get nauseous while driving up the mountain).

 
I’ve been trying to not keep God in my little box (aka not have expectations) but wowsers did I not expect the hermitage to go as it did 🙂  I will spare you details, though, and instead share some reflections that I journaled while I was there.

DSC_3916     During the night last night, I was given Psalm 96 to read.  When I read it this morning, verse 6 struck me:

Honor and majesty are before Him; strength and beauty are in His sanctuary.

You’re familiar with the song “Sanctuary” right?  “Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true.  With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.”  Beautiful song!  While we were at Prayer and Action we sang that, a capella, during communion every morning at Mass.  While I’ve known the song for many years, that was the first time I’d sung or heard it since my conversion, and my heart melted.

As Catholics He truly does call us to be a living sanctuary for Him – after all, we receive Him – body, blood, soul, and divinity – in the Eucharist.  Outside of death, we cannot get any closer to our Lord and Savior than when He enters us in communion.  At that time, we come into union with Him and we truly are His sanctuary, acquiring the strength and beauty written in Psalm 96:6.

Lord thank you for calling me to holiness, for purifying my heart, for making me transparent, and firm in my love for you, that I may be, with thanksgiving, a living sanctuary for YOU!

Peace like a river?

You know that hymn “I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river, I’ve got peace like a river in my soul!”, right?  When Peyton, our oldest, was a baby, I had a home daycare.  One of the little guys (then 3) I watched was such a ham!  He was playing one day singing a song, so I asked what he was singing.  “I’m singing the song that was in church!!!  ‘Police lying in the river, I’ve got police lying in the river……….'”  LOL!!!   Still makes me chuckle 😉

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As I was lifting up many loved ones that are seeking the Lord’s peace, that hymn went through my mind.  Peace flowing like a river………….

 

How many times have we prayed for His peace to be upon us?  If you’re anything like me, it’s a lot!  But perhaps we’re blocking it – being the dam, if you will.  We dam it up by living a lifestyle of sin, being full of pride (trying to fix everything ourselves), conforming to the patterns of the world (do we enroll our kids in every activity to “keep up with the Joneses”?),  making ourselves too busy to spend ample time with Him daily, being disobedient, avoiding confession (this could also fall into the pride category!) or not being repentant.  That’s just a few of the things that came to mind anyway.

 

Are you seeking His peace?  Ask God to reveal to you what’s keeping that river from flowing into and through you.  He’ll tell you – question is, are you willing to listen and then act on it?

 

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.  John 14:27
photo credit: batintherain via photopin cc

But we were not created for comfort……….

I found it interesting, as I came to write this post, that I tend to write when something is really bothering me.  It’s like I have too many thoughts swirling around in my head, and I can’t just choose one and focus on it for a minute.  Kind of like an out-of-control merry-go-round that’s going so fast you can’t really see what any of the animals look like, much less take it in and look at another.

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Anyway………..

Lots of good and some not-so-good things have happened in our house over the last year.  Talk about learning to praise Him through the storm!  When I look over all of the events, I KNOW without a doubt that it was HIS strength, not mine, that put one foot in front of the other.  My ‘theme verse” last year was 2 Corinthians 12:9:

but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

It rang true in ever turn, every event that took place in 2013.  You can imagine how excited I was then when, in November, God gave me Isaiah 61 for 2014 – those are HIS promises to be fulfilled in my life this year.  And there are times that all I can do is cling to them (and thus to Him).  Promises to restore, to reconcile, to repay, to comfort, to build up.  (Go read it if you haven’t for awhile – how encouraging would it be to know that God had that in store for your life this year?)

 

Part of Isaiah 61, though, is about the anointing from God to do great works for His kingdom.  See, not only was I to receive all of those promises, but I’m also to help minister them as well.  Anyone that’s been “all in” for the kingdom knows that God doesn’t, not once, call us to be comfortable – we’re to take up our cross daily and follow Him, or we are not worthy of Him.

 

and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.  Matthew 10:38

 

God’s calling me to do some difficult things right now for His kingdom.  I wouldn’t be honest (or human) if I said there wasn’t a tiny corner in me that wants to just run the other direction.  But I’m not in this for me.  I’m in this for Him.  I’m in this because He loves me.  I’m in this because I can’t bear to see the sight of Jesus being scourged and think for a second that God wouldn’t call me to hard things if He sent His Son to endure His Passion for me.

 

But we were not created for comfort, but for greatness.”- Pope Saint Benedict XVI

 
photo credit: Leshaines123 via photopin cc

Reflection on a reflection on a reflection………….

My girl Cristina @ Filling My Prayer Closet posted a TBT blog-style, reflecting on a reflection………..and asked her readers to reflect too!  That’s a lot of reflection!  I decided (especially since I’ve been a horrible blogger and not blogged about all of the awesomeness going on) that I would share my reflections with you, and in turn as you to share back (reflect lol) in the comments, too!

Are you comfortable talking with others about your relationship with God?
+ This is an interesting question for me to reflect upon at this point, since my relationship has drastically changed with Him over the last year. I don’t think I’ve ever been uncomfortable sharing, but I do think that coming home (and all of the journey that has lead up to that) has made me more bold in sharing. That while I need to be sensitive to where someone is at, and how much I should give them (thank you Holy Spirit!) that I can and will endure any persecution that may come back at me.

 

Would you say that you’re a “normal” Catholic using the criteria outlined below? Or are you a “typical” Catholic, fighting that feeling that interest in the faith is only for a few pious eccentrics?

-It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be excited Christian activists.
-It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to be knowledgeable of their faith, the Scriptures, the doctrinal and moral teachings of the Church, and the history of the Church.
-It is NORMAL for lay Catholics to have fellowship of other committed lay Catholics available to them, to encourage, nurture, and discern as they attempt to follow Jesus.
-It is NORMAL for the local parish to function consciously as a house for formation for lay Catholics.

+ Normal! Although while I agree that those things should BE normal, I definitely recognize they aren’t normal. What can we do to change that? I had to chuckle at your mention of “if you’re at a weekday Mass it’s because you WANT to be there” – YES!!! Even if it’s just you and the priest! 😉

 

Do you personally have, within your parish, a group of Catholics you meet with regularly, to discuss the faith, study the faith, and encourage each other to greater virtue?
+ I don’t know if I can say that this is within our parish, although it’s sprung from the parish and is ultimately a result of a parish mission last fall 🙂 But I’m so grateful to have a group of Catholics that I meet with (almost) weekly. We fellowship over a meal, enjoy praise and worship time, share what God has spoken to us through the week through scripture/lectio divina/prayer (amazing how others can help give insight as to what He’s saying if we’re open enough to share!), and minister to each other through the laying on of hands and prayer, and using our gifts given from the Holy Spirit! Can’t imagine my life without having a group like this 🙂

 

At this time, does your parish have in place a working system for actively mentoring those who want to grow in their relationship with God?
+ nope. Very unfortunate. ^^^ we’re working on that! ^^^ I think the work mentoring is key here too – it’s not just about having a lesson, but a relationship! Building each other up! Guiding each other!
Whaddya think?  How would you answer these questions?  How is God calling you to step out, be bold, and foster a need in your parish?   

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. Acts 2:42

Brylie is baptized!

One of the things I get to experience having come into the Church with my kids at an older age is their decisions and participation in the Sacraments.

Baptism has always been very important to me – even from the time I was baptized at age 8, I felt that baptism was an essential part in a person’s walk with the Lord and accepting His gift of salvation.  I don’t recall if this was taught to me or if it’s a belief that I formed on my own, but it’s in line with the Church’s teaching on the importance of baptism 🙂

Brylie (7) has been asking for almost a year to be baptized.  When I decided to come into the Church I knew why I had hesitated before – now she could be baptized and in doing so become part of the Catholic Church! During the last of my formation/education I had asked Father Norbert, and we set the date.  Brylie was THRILLED!!!  Father knew some of her knowledge of Christianity because we had met with him as a family, and just wanted to meet with her once to make sure this was her decision (at about this age the Church considers them to be the age of reason – they know right from wrong and can choose for themselves).

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Yesterday was the big day – we had talked and talked about what it meant, the awesome gift that Jesus had given us on His Cross, and she was READY to be cleansed, become a child of God, a daughter of the King, a new creation in Christ, and receive the Holy Spirit!  Her baptism was to take place after Mass, and as Father was making a couple of brief announcements she knew Mass was all but over and could not sit still, lol!

 

She listened to everything Father said with such intensity.  It was absolutely precious!!!  10308267_572079106239420_8195425157472823316_n

She answered all of his questions perfectly (she was worried that she’d mess up) and was full of joy (Holy Spirit!!!) as she was baptized

In the name of the Father.

And of the Son.

And of the Holy Spirit!

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After her godfather lit her baptismal candle from the Paschal candle, she received a blessing (as did the rest of her family and her godparents).

10152389_572079199572744_8186176104247482169_nIt was such a joyful day for all of us!  She was still floating this morning – Mom!  Yesterday was a REALLY BIG DAY FOR ME!!!

It’s so renewing to see child so seeking God, no holding back, that reminds us to come to Him as children – without hesitation and full of joy, anticipation, hope, excitement, and love!

 

These worn pewbacks

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It really struck me the other day how worn the tops of the pewbacks were.  It prompted me to consider the parishioners before me…….

          How many people had rested their weary forearms there to plea to the Lord to touch their lives.

          How many children hung on with little hands in awe and wonder, learning how to come to Jesus.

          How many moms had leaned their elbows there, hands clasped and resting at their lips, praying for                 the salvation of their children.

          How many men had placed their head in their hands there, tears streaming down,                                           asking for direction.

          How many families had rubbed that wood while they said their penance.

 

The depth and history of our Catholic faith just amazes me.