Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Love in Process

I've recently been realizing something more and more about my Jesus.  I've always heard people, since I was a teenager and became more active in my spiritual growth, "Let God love you."  Or, "Give God permission to love you."  I can picture sitting in prayer asking God to love me.  I would give Him "permission."  I can't say I frequently remember some overwhelming experience after I said those words.  I thought although I said the words, that I might not have been doing something right.  Of course, I look at my life and see how God has and does love me very, very much.

However, I'm starting to come into a deeper layer of this.  My sweet sister in heaven Therese, has been helping me.  I noted the book I re-read about her "Everything is Grace".  I took so much in!  I was learning and re-learning, going deeper about so many things.  I've started asking her to intercede for me like never before.  I've been pondering so much based on her life and teachings.  Looking for guidance on how to please God more; how to go deeper in Him.  But one aspect that has surprised me that I've been realizing is Jesus' love for me a new light.  And looking at Therese's little way, her confidence in Him is something I am striving for.  I constantly look towards trusting God.  He is my Father.  He IS Divine Providence.  I look at the Cross and see Jesus as my Savior and His Resurrection and see Him as my Eternal Life.  I know He loves me.  But through such bold confidence I think I am seeing how He is IN love with me.  I often depend so much on what I am doing or not doing that would please or displease Him.  I know the idea of relying on Him and have often done so for many times in my life, and actually throughout my days.  But I am beginning to learn to trust Him to bring me to Him.  That He looks on me with so much love, just as new love.  I don't think He could let me do anything to separate myself from Him because the thought of Heaven without me is unbearable to Him.  My heart skips a beat thinking of this.  My confidence in His love for me is breaking new barriers in my life.  He would rather stoop down in humility to this weak, wretched soul than wait for me to do or be it all.  I know I will never be perfect until I've reached my Homeland.  I can always see how I can't do without Him.  But I think I 'm starting to see that is how Jesus looks at me as well.  I know He could, but He can't bear the thought of it. 

He looks at all His little souls like this.  Of that I'm sure. 

I look forward to dwelling on this little enlightenment more.  How easy the path to Heaven is when it is Jesus who will lift me there.


Monday, March 18, 2013

A Story and A Thought

I've been thinking about a story our priest told during the homily on Sunday.  He was talking about the Gospel which was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead.  He talked about our bandages that are wrapped around us and make us feel trapped.  How when we are in this place we often feel like asking questions like, "Why is God doing this to me?" or "What have I done to deserve this?"  "Why is this happening to me?"  etc.  We all want freedom when we feel bound and captive.  He then went on to tell a story about a tribe in Africa.  When someone commits serious crimes as punishment they get tossed into a pitch black cave with a bolder covering the entrance.  However, there is another way out.  If the criminal can find it, he will be free.  If he doesn't, he will die in the cave. 

So a man got put in the cave.  On the roof of the cave he saw a very small hole of light.  He thought that must be the way out.  He fumbled in the dark to collect some rocks and pile them to so he could reach the top.  When he touched that hole, he could not make it any bigger.  Despite the way it appeared, it was not the exit to his freedom.  A few days passed, and the other men in the tribe went to the cave.  The criminal had died inside.  The men felt compassion for him.  Because he had died laying right next to the exit.  He was right there but didn't even realize it! 

The point of the story, is how we often look to find freedom in illusions.  In things that really do not free us at all.  We know Jesus is our freedom.  He not only gives it to us, but he is also the one that guides us to wherever we need to go or whatever we need to do to be healed and unbound.  I can see myself often in the man trapped in the cave.  At least he stopped once he realized that wasn't the exit.  I'd keep poking my darn finger in that hole thinking somehow it must work!  Jesus desires our freedom even more than we do. For it is God that spoke and said "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord.  "Plans to  prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."  Jer. 29:11. 

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

To Bear One's Imperfections, That is Real Sanctity

 I picked up a lovely book my sister sent to me sometime after Stella died.  I read it then, but wanted to take another look at it.  It's a book on the life and way of St. Therese of Lisieux called "Everything is Grace".  As I was flipping through the chapters, chapter 15's title stood out to me - "To Bear with One's Imperfections, That is Real Sanctity". Why does this draw me?  Easy.  Because I LOATHE MY IMPERFECTIONS!! I torment and beat myself up when they surface.  Especially when they surface a thousand times in a single hour.  I sulk in them and apologize and beg for forgiveness obsessively.  Even to the point, these imperfections steal my joy and sense of duty for the day.  And what makes it worse, I know doing this isn't right either, so then it gives me reason to go further into my disgust of self!  Twisted.  I know.  The saints serve as great spiritual advisors.  I am so thankful for them!  For their example while on earth, and the help they give now in Heaven.  Apparently at the time when Therese was at Carmel the younger sisters were raised in a time of perfectionism and Jansenism.  (I understand the perfectionism).  The sisters would often go to Therese complaining about their flaws a and weaknesses.  They would depreciate themselves and even punish themselves.  Therese looked and approached her weakness and frailties differently.  She experienced grief and repentance but didn't go into self-condemnation.  She says "When I commit a fault that makes me sad, I know very well that this sadness is a consequence of my infidelity, but do you believe I remain there? Oh! No, I'm not so foolish!  I hasten to say to God: My God, I know I have merited this feeling of sadness, but let me offer it up to you just the same as a trial that You sent me through love.  I am sorry for my sin, but I'm happy to have this suffering to offer to you."  Corrections in behavior still apply.  Another experience when a sister spoke to her about her self-loathing, Therese says:

You make me think of the very little child who starts to hold herself up but does not yet know how to walk.  Wanting absolutely to climb to the top of the stairs to find her mother again, she lifts her little foot to finally climb the first step.  Useless labor! She always falls without making any advance...Consent to be this little child.  Through practicing all the virtues, keep lifting up your little foot in order to clamber up the stairs of holiness.  You will not even get to the first rung, but God asks nothing of you except your good will.  From the top of the stairs he looks down at you with love.  Soon, won over by your ineffective efforts, he will come down himself and, taking you in his arms, he will take you away into his kingdom forever where you will never have to depart from him.

Why is it when things are put into languages of a child it is so easy to understand?  To accept, to desire?  How can all of a sudden, the things I struggle with within myself look actually endearing and seen as an opportunity to be LOVED!

Therese often talked of running to Jesus' arms after she fell.  I love this example she gives, again relating to it as a little child. 

Look at a little child who has just annoyed his mother by flying into a temper or by disobeying her.  If he hides away in a corner in a sulky mood and if he cries in fear of being punished, his mamma will not pardon him, certainly not his fault.  But if he comes to her, holding out his little arms, smiling, and saying: 'Kiss me, I will not do it again,' will his mother be able not to press him to her heart tenderly and forget his childish mischief?  ...However, she know her dear little one will do it again on the next occasion, but this does not matter; if he takes her again by her heart, he will not be punished. 

No explanation needed.  Today, I strive for all of this.  Thank you sweet Therese.. The great little saint my daughter dines on the Father's love with.  I have often thought of them together.  I see them in a beautiful field of tall gold grass with flowers.  I see Stella placing flowers in Therese's hair and Therese placing flowers in Stella's curls.  They laugh and have giant smiles. They both enjoy the simplicity of love so much.  I see them sharing stories of their families and childhood.  They take great delight in each other and often talk of their parents whom they both loved immensely.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Little Update

We are anticipating some beautiful weather for the next week.  Sunny, in the upper 70's.  I am so thankful to start getting outside more.  I'm such a baby in cold weather.  So if it's under 70, I'm inside as much as possible.  I'm sure some of you in other parts of the country must think I sound pathetic!  I laugh at myself too.  I am starting a project at our school.  I'm so excited about it, but I hope I haven't bitten more than I can chew.  I figure since I'm at a school, it gives me a wonderful opportunity to serve in many different ways.  Here is my lovely "God" story that evolved as I was thinking of a service project we could do.  Of course, I can't say that at school, but I know.  I get to share it with
all of you though!

Ok, so I've been thinking\praying since I started in October, how I  could figure out a way to get the children to reach out and do a service project.  A few small obstacles - first it would have to be cheap.  Second, it would have to be simple enough for them to actually take ownership of it.  Third,  it would have to be something they could do during the short after school hours.  I can't give them "homework". The fourth small obstacle, is we can't go anywhere.  It has to be done at Athenaeum.  So...recently I thought our sweet niece Emma.  We have the Phoenix Children's Hospital here.  I thought, what if the kids could make capes for the children at the hospital and maybe write letters about how they are "real life" super heroes.  So this is the cool part.  I call the hospital and tell them my idea.  The woman I spoke with couldn't even believe it!  She told me she just got out of a planning meeting. They are going to hold a dance for the children on May 3rd and the theme is SUPER HERO!  She said she asked the volunteers to start trying to collect super hero stuff.  She was so excited to have a gift to give each of the children.  My kids are really excited too.  Well, most of them are.  So, we are going to be making 120-150 capes in the next couple months.  Please pray it all goes smooth. 

I find, when I struggle with grief or anything.  When being stuck on myself, the hardest, yet best medicine is one of two things.  I either need to get out of myself and create something.  Or serve someone else who is struggling.  I've had moments where I'm crying and hurting and I just start thinking and asking God, "Ok, Lord, what can I do for somebody?" Or "What can I make right now?"  When I make something, which usually means restoring some kind of furniture or home d├ęcor object, it forces me to look and imagine beauty.  And all beauty only comes from One source, Beauty Himself.