Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Breath of the Holy Spirit

When at the tender age of 5, I walked down the aisle of that tiny baptist church and announced to the pastor I wanted to be saved and I wanted Jesus in my heart, I know at that moment the Holy Spirit took hold of me. I breathed in the Holy Spirit on that day. I began my life long journey to seek God and find His purpose for me. My choices were no longer mine. My plans were no longer relevant. My life was not my own to guide. I knew this growing up. I tried to deny this when I thought I was all grown up but God showed me otherwise. He has a hold on my life and He is not letting go.



The Holy Spirit guided me through out high school. When my baptist church wanted to judge the hearts of those outside of its walls, it was the Holy Spirit that led me to question. At the age of 18, after some turmoil with friends and adults in my baptist church, it was the Holy Spirit that told me to get up and leave- literally get up in the middle of service and leave. So I got up and walked out of the church that I had known since childhood. It was the Holy Spirit that put friends in my life of the catholic faith at that moment in time. At the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I walked into a Catholic Church where I found the presence of God overpowering.

It was the Holy Spirit that gave me the strength to tell my very Baptist family that I was going to be Catholic. I was going to join a church that the Baptist faith considered misguided and lost. I was leaving the faith they worked so hard to instill in me and going to be part of a faith they considered contrary to the word of God. It was the Holy Spirit that gave me the confidence to tell them that the Catholic Church was where God wanted me to be.

It was the Holy Spirit that calmed me down and worked everything out when I got pregnant a little too early in life. It was the Holy Spirit that guided my young family to move to Texas. And I came here kicking and screaming at the Holy Spirit, but He still loved me anyway. He even game me confirmation after confirmation that Texas is where He wanted us to be by providing jobs, a house we could afford, and a place to stay while we were in transition. He even gave us another sign that we were supposed to move when a tornado hit our house in Slidell almost one year to the date of when we sold it.

The Holy Spirit has been at work the whole time we have lived here. Most recently, He was with me the night I unexpectedly delivered my son Ben at 32 weeks in a hospital in San Antonio. Even though he was 8 weeks early and we were so far from home, I was at peace that everything would work out. That peace can only come from God. Now, Ben is a very healthy, smart and active two-year old. You would never know that he was premature. Then, when life got really stressful in my fifth year as a middle school band director in Texas, it was the Holy Spirit that told me to quit my job and God will provide. And He has provided. Miracles happen every month that help us get by.

As I look back on all this, I am astounded at the blessings I have had on my road of life. I am so very thankful for the family God has given me, the friends who enter my life at just the right moment, and the faith community that I am growing with. I can now see that the Holy Spirit has always been at work in my life. I wish I had chosen to stay close to God during all this time. I discovered that traveling on this road was not easy, especially when I was trying to do it my way. And in that discovery, I became sad. Happiness was gone and I felt alone. I could have avoided it if I had chosen to stay close to the One who had chosen this road for me.

I am surrendering more and more to the Holy Spirit as I travel along. And with each new step of trust, I am blessed with miracle after miracle. As I look ahead, His light gets brighter and brighter and His voice gets louder and louder. What a wonderful road God has chosen for me. I can't imagine traveling anywhere else.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Providence Prayer

by Thomas Merton, OCSO

My Lord God, I have no idea where I'm going.

I do not see the road ahead of me,
and I cannot know for certain where it will end.

Nor do I really know myself, and the fact
that I think I am doing your will
does not man I am actually doing so.

But I believe the desire to please you
does in fact please you,
and I hope I have that desire in everything I'm doing.

I hope I will never do anything apart from that desire,
and I know if I do this
you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.

Therefore will I trust you always,
though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.

I will not fear for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Leaving Rocks Behind

Wow. I just had a God moment. I know that I am supposed to write about it here. Let me begin by describing my state of mind the past few days. Basically, I have been pouting. I have not been pleasant to be around. I have been feeling sorry for myself. And my focus has not been on my journey, but on things of this world- distractions. I have been distracted by the situation I am in as a wife of a competitive Texas high school band director. All those around me say I should be mad and angry, but now I know that focusing on this situation is not what I should be doing. I should be praying and keeping my eye on what God wants me to focus on.

As I was just about to sit at the sewing machine and complete yet another task I have volunteered for, I started to pray. I began to tell God I didn't like these feelings of anger and self pity. And immediately, he reminded me that I had not read my meditation today. So, reluctantly, I got up and came to the computer and looked at today's meditation from Word Among Us. The Gospel reading is from John 17.

I started reading John 17 the other day and I was very moved. I am not sure if I have ever read this chapter before. It was like I was reading it for the first time. While reading it, I could see Jesus knelt in prayer and I could hear His voice. This is such an intimate moment Jesus shares with His Father. I almost felt like I was spying on Him. And as I listened, I became very humbled. In this intimate moment, Jesus was praying for you and me. The words coming out of His mouth were about you and me. He called us a gift to Him. Imagine, you and me a gift to Jesus. I have always considered Jesus a gift to us. He went on to describe His love for us and His desires for us. He prayed for us to be one with Him and the Father. He loved us so much that He wanted us in His heavenly family. The love He felt for you and me is just overwhelming. This prayer took place the day before He was crucified. He knew that He would be leaving. He wasn't afraid of leaving this world- He was looking forward to joining His Father. But, you could tell that He was concerned about leaving us. He wanted to see each and everyone of us again- to be one with Him in His family in heaven. And as He continued His prayer, He put us in the hands of His Father. We were all that He worked for on this earth. And He put all that he worked for, all that He loved, all that He nurtured in the hands of His father. This is amazing trust.

So, my God moment happened as I read the end of the meditation. The WAU author says that Jesus is praying for us to be unified. He wants us to be one. The love of Christ unites all Christians. Then the author went on to say that we should pray together. Even if we are of other denominations, we should pray together. Jesus will be with us in this prayer. And praying together with people of other traditions will help us to be more loving and caring to one another. This is when I had my moment and my answer.

I have been wondering if I had really reached forgiveness. Have I really taken the rock out of my back pack? And the answer is yes. But the interesting part is, I have been unpacking the rock for a while and didn't even know it. You see, I worked at a bible church this past school year. And I have prayed with these wonderful colleagues and friends all year long. And they are not Catholic. God put me in a place where I would have to pray with a community so much like the community that rejected me all those years ago. And in that time, I was unpacking my backpack. Through that prayer, I was becoming more loving and more caring. The wall that was thrown up all those years ago was crumbling down. Praying with these women allowed me to experience the divine love I needed in order to forgive the community that cast me aside. And through that forgiveness, I have been able to find the community where God wants me to grow, love and serve. My rock is gone. Thanks be to God!!!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Rain

It rained a little here and there in this great country of Texas. I was corrected today by a Native Texan that Texas isn't a state but rather a country. I didn't argue. One of the first things I learned here in Texas is you don't argue with a Native. Anyhow, it rained. And the world was made new again. I love to observe the sky and earth after a rain. The haze is gone. The dust is washed away. Everything is crystal clear. You can see the intricate details of each unique cloud as it dances with the light of the sun in the big blue sky. You can follow the birds flying to and fro for miles and miles. The grass seems greener and the trees seem more resolute. Flowers with their newly washed faces search for the light of the sun. Life is rejoicing in the gift of rain.

Once again, nature has a way of mirroring my faith journey. There have been times when it has rained just a little and other times when it has stormed. During the rain, it is hard to see the road ahead. The rain pounds into your skin. The hammering rain can destroy your train of thought and distract you from your goal. When it starts to rain, we look for a place to take cover. We leave the road and find a safe haven. Things may be destroyed during a particular violent rain. We may loose a few blooming flowers. A branch may break off a tree here and there. If you are in Texas, you may loose the roof on your safe haven. In New Orleans, the all-consuming rain may run over the levees and wash your safe haven away. During such events, we may get angry at the rain. We may blame the rain for destroying our happiness or taking away all the hard work we have stored up in this life. It is hard to find our joy when we are wet and cold and trying to find peace in our so called safe havens. But when the rain is over, and the sun is shining in the clear blue sky, things are put in perspective. Life becomes crystal clear. Just as the landscape is shaped by the rain swollen creeks, so am I shaped by the trials in my path. I am changed. I am made new. The dust is washed away and I am made more resolute as my face soaks up the light of my God. Just as nature is strengthen by the rain, so am I strengthened by the bumps along my road. And as the blinding storm clears away, I can see that I was not alone. In fact, I am now walking closer to the one who guided me, protected me, sometimes carried me and allowed the rain to wash me just enough. Long enough to give me the strength to keep putting one foot in front of the other as I travel on this road of life.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Go

This prayer was given to me at CRHP. I wanted to share it here. It is pretty much the ongoing conversation I have been having with God the past 10 years. Thank you for the prayer Rose.

"Go"
And the Lord said, "GO"
And I said, "Who, me?"
And he said, "Yes, you."
And I said, "But I'm not ready yet, and I am busy with family and I have a job to go to, and I've already promised friends I'd..."
And he said, "You're stalling"
And the Lord said, "Go"
And I said, "But I don't want to"
And he said, "I didn't ask you if you wanted to."
And I said, "Listen, I'm not the kind of person to get involved. Besides, my family won't like it, and what will my friends think?"
And he said, "baloney"
And yet a third time the Lord said, "Go"
And I said, "Do I have to?"
And he said, "Do you love me?"
And I said, "Look, I'm scared. People are going to hate me, and cut me up in little pieces. I can't take it all by myself."
And he said, "Where do you think I will be?"
And the Lord said, "Go"
And I said, "Here I am Lord, Send me"

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Expectant Prayer

Prayer is a powerful thing. It is as powerful as you expect it to be. If you don't expect much, then you won't get much. But if you pray and expect that your prayers will be answered, then they will. If you believe in the miracle, God will provide. This has been the ongoing lesson for me this past year. I have gotten more and more bold in what I talk to God about and I have trusted that He will provide. And he has. It has been amazing. I have to brace myself for what is to come. The work he is doing is awesome and its only the beginning.

Friday, May 15, 2009

In Between

In between is a tough place to be. I am still trying to sort out where I have been and I am not sure of where I am going. I know that this blog is here mostly for me. Sometimes I need to go back and remember what God has said to me in order to shine a light on where to go next. When I go back and read, I am amazed at what I am reading. Its like I didn't even type it.

Right now, I am in between. I have found my past and seen how I have let the unforgiveness and hurt manifest itself. It has been a big stumbling block to trusting others which has starved me of growing with a faith community. I have been thinking and praying and thinking and praying and I think I have forgiven them. I am over being right. I know that I am so blessed to have found the fullness of the faith which is what I was searching for in all my questioning of the baptist church. They love the same God and Jesus I love and we are bonded in that love. I can truly say that I am happy to worship with them and they have a great light to shine before the world. Its no longer about being right, but about being united. There is so much hurt in this world that we shouldn't be wasting energy on arguing about who is right about this and that. Instead, we should be showing Christ's love to all those he puts in our path and worshiping our God with every step we take.

So, I have come to this point. The next step is to trust. I have prayed and have asked how do I trust a faith community. His answer is "Just Do It". So I guess, I just have to jump off the deep end. I have to take the bull by the horns and be bold. Ever since Father Don gave me the analogy of the rocks in my backpack, I have been finding rocks everywhere. On the day I came home from the retreat- the same day I figured out my trust problem, my oldest son showed me a rock with a cross stamped on it. They gave it to him at the church he went to with his friend that day. The day after I met with Father Don, my two year old walked up to me and handed me a rock and walked away. I have found rocks on counter tops, in pockets, in shoes and on my dresser. I need to get rid of the rock in my backpack. And I think the holy spirit is wanting me to make another appointment with Father Don. I will be bringing him an actual rock. I will be telling him that I trust him. I will also be giving my CRHP sisters my blog address after I explain to them why. I like to think that no one is reading this blog. It is a little scary that people from my faith community would be reading it. Its my way of jumping off the deep end I suppose. I have a feeling there is something coming down the pipe that will require me to do some trusting. At this point, the trusting is not my concern. I am concerned about whatever is coming down the pipe.

When I was a teenager in that Southern Baptist Church, I felt that God was calling me to something greater like perhaps some kind of ministry. I sort of dismissed it as I left that church. And, I didn't know how I could fit into a ministry in a Catholic Church so I kept dismissing it. Now I feel like I am being reminded of that calling. I am not sure what the calling is. I think that people in my faith community may know. Spending time with them will help me figure it out.