Glory and Grace

This week, I decided to put the CD player on in my car. It’s a 6 disc changer, so I was just listening to whatever was in there. A few of the CDs are old Christian music from when I was in high school. I’ve been singing my heart out, remembering where I was and situations where these songs first touched my heart. It was wonderful. Then one song (Glory of the Blood) came on and I was struck by the word glory.

I got caught up in the word, thinking “wow, I really feel God’s glory right now in my life…even though from the outside looking in, I don’t even deserve it…wait a minute…”

If someone from the Vatican came and surveyed my life, I don’t think I’d measure up very well against the rules/regulations/recommendations of what it means to be a ‘good’ formal Catholic. Which in my long held opinion meant I couldn’t experience or shouldn’t experience God’s glory and grace unless I was upholding all the rules perfectly. But at the heart of things, nothing that I do (or don’t do) could make me actually deserve God’s grace or glory. It comes freely.

And I don’t mean to say that I am changing my mind on religion or rejoicing in sin. I don’t mean to say that those rules/regulations aren’t set for a purpose and for the ultimate attainment of grace. I don’t mean to say that we should just live however we want without consequence. What I think I mean to say is this:

Even though I don’t measure up to perfection, I can still experience the glory around me, through God’s creation, through the blessings in my life, through friendships and experiences that come and go. Grace and glory are a free gift. I can still experience grace in moments of beauty that surround me. The hills and valleys are both important times and there is beauty and struggles in both. I look forward to every beautiful stop along this trek back to the hilltop. I think the fullness of glory and grace are found at the top of the hills, in the true ‘state of grace’ as the Church refers to it, but they still exist as free gift to those of us on the climb.


Prayer Intentions

It’s amazing what praying for others can do for your own spirituality. Not that your own spirituality should be the motivation for praying for others you care about, but it sure is a happy consequence to benefit from intercessory prayer.

Today, I started a novena to Our Lady, Undoer of Knots. In reading more about this devotion, I found that there is a connection between the knots of sin caused by Eve and the undoing of those knots, through the birth of Jesus our Savior through Mary. What Mary did was radical. Imagine being told you would conceive because the Spirit of God would overshadow you and responding, “be it done unto me according to thy will.”? Eve couldn’t even stay away from one tree! And I can hardly stay away from the apple trees either. A few people I know of are really stuck in the knots caused by sin, temptation, distractions that are having a negative impact on the ones they love.

So we turn to Mary. The most humble, yet radical woman to intercede for us on our behalf. To bring our loved ones to the foot of the cross, to untie their knots that keep them stumbling, falling over into pits of despair, and allow them to hurt those around them. May they be returned to us, stronger than ever, with hearts on fire, pure minds, and a peace that no one can shake.

“Though it seems impossible to me that this knot can ever be undone, I believe in your never-failing intercession.” – from the Novena prayer, Day 1

Perfection Pedestal

Inspiration has finally returned to write. Type.

I learned a major lesson during 2017. It was hard to see and a little shocking. I learned that I had been obsessed with perfection. I was going to be the person who made the perfect decisions, live life perfectly (even if only to the outside world that others saw), pray right, be wise, be a know-it-all at work, rise to the top and be all-around perfect.

Then I failed. Or at least, I thought I failed. In my opinion, I failed big in multiple ways. I couldn’t carry all of the weight of things at work, I couldn’t pray my way to a cured mental state, I couldn’t have the perfect relationship.

There, at this pivotal moment, is where the light bulb jolted on over my head and heart. The “perfection pedestal” that I just fallen off of…was of my own creation. God had not had these lofty expectations of perfection for me and outside of that, who else’s expectations could matter? Were other people surprised by my need for help at work? Sure. Were other people shocked when I shared that I’d be starting anxiety medication? Absolutely. Were some people taken back by my new relationship with a divorced/non-Catholic/Jamaican? Ya man. Even I was shocked by all of the ways in which life fell together in surprising ways in the last year.

Through all of it, it came back to the tried and true lesson that it always comes down to. God asking that simple question, time and time again, “Daughter, do you trust me?”

If I’m being honest, my answer in 2017 had twisted to “no, I trust myself to get it all right for you”. And I heard him loud and clear, “I do not expect perfection, I simply ask that you trust me. Trust where I have you on the path right now, trust where it will lead you in the future.” Maybe life is really just continuing to learn this same lesson of trust, over and over, deeper and deeper, until we trust enough to let go and fall into His arms when we enter Heaven. I won’t dare say that I have perfect trust in Him now that 2017 is over, but I  hope I can keep myself off the pedestal and in the land of reality. A reality which is much on the ground where He has planted me.

Medication, my relationship, and my new co-worker have been live savers in so many ways and if I never got my butt off that “perfection pedestal”, I could have missed out on living a much fuller life.

It is no mistake.

Some use the word coincidence or happenstance. Some use the word God-incidence. Some use the phrase ‘you can’t make this stuff up’. All different ways to explain or describe seemingly random moments that occur in our daily lives.

Over and over, I’ve been hearing God whisper in my ear, “it is no mistake”. When I tell you I am 0% surprised by this way of phrasing it, I truly mean it. They are the very words I read 14 years ago as part of a prophecy received by a woman who would become known as a founding sister of my college household. In that context, the line goes “…it is no mistake that you are together…”. Recently, there was a need among our sisters and women who have not seen each other in over 10 years jumped into action. I was reminded immediately that God told the women forming this group that it was no mistake they were together. It was no mistake in 1992, it was no mistake in 2003 when I joined, and it was no mistake in 2017 that we were still “together” in some way.

Almost daily, since that recent event with my household sisters, I’ve had some type of encounter or experience in which I have that realization: it is no mistake. One moment in particular, was the day I randomly got a Facebook message from a friend inviting me to a concert at the last minute. I had no plans, so I agreed to meet her. In the car prior to the concert, I was writing in my journal. I wrote to God how I wanted to do more with my life, more than just donate money to good causes. I wanted to connect. While plans for a mission to Haiti were already in the works, that would be a short week of my time and then back to normal life. In the middle of the concert, there was the all too familiar “talk” and “video” explaining why you need to give to one charity or another that is now the mainstay of most Christian shows.

A man came out to talk about child sponsorship. He spoke about working with this organization and seeing first hand the work they do. I always stayed away from organizations that I hadn’t researched myself, but wasn’t this what I just asked God for not even an hour before? A way to connect that was lasting? A way to give that was more than a donation every month? I could communicate with a sponsored child and their family, I could share my resources and possibly even go on a mission and meet that family. I could change that child’s life…I could change my life. It was no mistake. I cried at the thought of my prayer being answered so rapidly. I smiled as I scribbled down my information on a little card and read the sweet little bit of information of this beautiful little boy. It is no mistake that I attended that concert. It is no mistake that I was handed that card with Ando’s picture on it. It is no mistake that my heart was open. It is no mistake that he and I are together on this journey. God does not make mistakes. He hears the cry of his people.

Choosing to see things in this way has helped me to see everything through God’s hands. Even when looking to the future, of things unknown, I can rest in the idea that even though things may not go perfectly or be as I expected them to be, I will likely still hear the sweet, soft whisper…it is no mistake.


A river of Mercy?

This past Friday evening, through the prompting of the Holy Spirit, I ended up attending a We Are Messengers concert in Fairfield with my ACTS retreat sister Emily. While I waited in the car for her to arrive, I realized I had no idea who this band was. I opened up my Apple Music app and looked them up. It turned out I knew a couple of their songs. Interestingly enough, the most transforming moment for me out of the entire night, was a song I heard for the first time.

I had gotten into a comfortable position as they started to play this song, barefoot, feet up, arms hugging my knees. In seconds, I felt like I was surrounded by my closest friends, singing my all time favorite song, that had always had a deep meaning to my heart. It was quite strange to think that way because I had not ever heard this song before. The song is called The River.

All the while, I knew there was something about this song, but I couldn’t identify just what. The more I thought about and sung along to it all weekend long, it came to me. An image of the cross, cracked in the center, and blood and water flowing down, into a river. A river of both blood and water. Very similar to the image of Divine Mercy. The chorus of the song then made even more sense than before:

I belong, yeah, I belong, yeah, I belong to the river

While journaling before Palm Sunday Mass yesterday, my mind couldn’t stop thinking about this river image. I felt like sharing the important points from my reflection, so here they are:

  • The river is both water and blood, this is important as they each have their own role:
    • Blood: to redeem and save
    • Water: to wash clean and heal.
  • We belong in that river, to remain in that river. In essence, we belong in God’s mercy.
  • If we stray from the river, we will loose connection to His mercy.
  • If we want to move away or venture off, we must dig deep and prepare to not be cut off from His mercy wherever we might go.

I recommend you listen to this song, especially as we prepare to enter into the season of Easter. The season of redemption and mercy is upon us, let us prepare to rejoice and be glad in it.


Not my home

A month ago, I had the chance to return to Franciscan University. Those of you who went there might be jealous of a trip that would include a Festival of Praise, Lord’s Day with your household, and reuniting with sisters you hadn’t seen in 6-12 years.

As much as I loved the people and praise parts of the trip, I once again faced the extreme discomfort that once caused me to only spend one brief year on that campus. I never fully understood why I hated being on that campus, that ‘city on a hill’ that mostly only atheists could hate. What kept me from peace at such a holy place?

I always thought it was simply that at the time I was there as a student, being a student was not my vocation as others so proudly claimed. That couldn’t truly be the answer though, could it? Not when I felt that same way as a visitor.

As I sat at a young adult holy hour a week after I got home, God blessed me with an answer. “That, too, is not your home.” I am restless there, I am restless here, I am restless, as St. Augustine says, until my heart rests in You, my God.

I don’t mean to sound like I’m some holier than thou person who desires Heaven any more than the next person, but I think being on that campus reminds me that not even a place where so many people are fully participating in our Catholic faith, it is still so far from the full glory that awaits us in our true home. I feel it most strongly there, that gut wrenching distance still left to go to attain Heaven.

Lord, give us the grace to be patient to see you and be fully at rest. Help us to rejoice for those that get to join you, even if we are not ready to be without them. Amen.



I want, I want, I want

Anyone else relate to that mantra? If you are married and have kids, I am sure you hear it thousands of times each day from your children or spouse. As a long time single lady, I hear it most from myself. I hear it from colleagues and other family members too. Though I can’t help but realize how much I spend claiming ‘I want…’ or even ‘I don’t want…’ about who I want to be or don’t want to feel.

Recent events have led me to a healing thought. Most of my ‘wants’ and ‘don’t wants’ seem to revolve around outside influences. Time wasted desiring to be like other people or passing judgement about what I didn’t want to endure.

How had I lost focus on the true source? The Source who inspired my life into existence and wants to grant every desire of my very heart! I had taken my eyes off of Him and was certainly beginning to drown under the weight of the crushing waves.

As I pondered all of this further, I was reminded that if I refocused on the true Source, then my wants could dissipate. The Lord is my Shepard, I shall not want. I need only to be still, keep my eyes on Him, and I have all I could ever need to do exactly what He has called me to do in this life.

No one else can be our source. We can’t be anyone else’s source. We are called to help each other on this journey, but never called to take the place of the one true Source. While I believe we are called to lay down our lives for others, love them sacrificially, what we can do for others will never be able to take the place of a God who sent His only son to die for our salvation. We are made in His image, sure. Adopted children of God, sure. Yet, still, we are not replacements for God.

No matter how strongly we may want to be that source for others, eventually, our wells run dry. God, our true source, has a love and mercy that never runs out. Accepting this is amazingly freeing.