My son Collin, a gifted student in the 2nd grade, won the county-wide haiku contest, beating out all students in the county up to 5th grade. Collin has been diagnosed with ADHD, a daily struggle for him. We have overcome, by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony.
For the life that I was not supposed to live
For the days I spent doubting my existence
For the pain and suffering I could not explain
For the God I loved, and the God I let go of
For the many books I read about why bad things happen to good people
For the day I quit life, and the day I found out it again
For the God who just wouldn’t let me go
For the child he gave me who was never supposed to be
For the child that couldn’t walk, and lagged far behind
For the child that they told me would never be… anything
For the child they told me wouldn’t make it
For the one to which they said, give up… now
For all the days I chose to believe God over them
For the many nights I stayed up crying
For the days where I was slowly dying
For the pain to return in the form of my son
For the struggle I relived as if we were one
For the times God called me to move him
For the times I was afraid
For the face to the floor praying, and nights of waiting
For the child they told me would be, was … nothing
For the life I believed he would have
For the Christ child to which he was bound
For the savior who he had
For the one that held me up
For the seven years of life
For the moment I’ve only dreamed of
For the disability that has been his greatest ability
For the thorn in his side that has been made strong in his weakness
For the God who loved me
For the God who made Him
For the God that just refuses to let go
For all of these things, He is, I AM
You see this article on “Accountability”, and read this Inventory List for Conscience. It helps you know how and when you’ve “sinned” so you can get forgiveness for it. And your heart responds that there’s value to this, it isn’t “bad”… but somehow you feel it hasn’t quite hit the mark.
You do more research, you find a Catholic treatment for the Examination of Conscience, and you look it over. Again, not that it’s “bad”, but it just doesn’t seem to scratch the itch in your spirit as you ponder the questions of living in righteousness, versus committing sin. Somehow, virtue and sin don’t seem so cumbersome, so convoluted.
You decide to teach on this topic, and so you begin…
Sin… righteousness… love… peace… one day you are sitting and pondering, studying, working on a lesson or a sermon, and you find yourself grieving, praying, seeking how effectively to communicate something you see in your heart as so simple… You lean back, your brow furrows, your eyes close for a moment…
And suddenly, you no longer seem to be at your desk… You realize that God has heard your heart and your prayers, and He is going to teach you something, show you something, to help you understand and teach…
You find yourself standing out in a large empty space, dim but not utterly dark, neutral neither warm nor cold, with just a sense of vastness, not fearful or threatening. There in the distance you see light on the horizon and you choose to walk towards it. Startled with surprise, you find that each step moves you very far, as if your will moves you forward by thought, not physics.
As you approach closer to the light that a moment before was on the horizon, you realize that you are about to look upon the Father… God… the Almighty over All. Somehow, you know you are at the very Beginning, the Before the Beginning. This, is the Void, the Formless Void, and God (in whatever form and manner you perceive Him/Her) is smiling in welcome at your arrival. Amazingly, when He smiles, He smiles all over… His eyes, His hands, His heart… all welcomes you, and you stand just steps away from Him, unsure of whether to look up or down, to bow or to stand.
He takes your hand, raises your chin, smiles, and simply says, “Behold…”
He turns towards the Void around Him, extends His arms, and the radiance from His heart moves outwards reaching to touch all around Him. You realize, you are watching Creation. As you stand there, awestruck, you know that matter and energy have come into Being.
With another sweeping gesture, His arms raise again, and with a pulsing motion forms take shape all around you, near and far. You see planets, stars, sand, rocks, the forms of grass, trees, even animals. But all seems still.
“Now watch…” He says with a smile, as He turns to you, then back to His work.
You see a richer glow begin at His heart, as it flows upwards and outwards through His arms and fingers. You know, without knowing how you know, that He has just brought forth Life… and you see all these living things now begin to move.
Then, in a way you cannot describe, you see Him touching all of this… Everything… all at the same moment, and you realize that He is loving, He is feeding, He is upholding… All that is. All that He has created. That all of this is from Him, part of Him, has come from Him and is yet Him and His.
He turns to you again, and says… “Here is the best part…”
Again He faces His creation and the glow from His heart moves out through both His hands and His lips as He sings forth music unspeakable. Now there appear… “children”… is the word that goes through your mind. You hear Him sing, “My Children”. And you see that He is singing forth everyone, everywhere, everywhen. The beauty of it all leaves you breathless.
He turns to you again, reaches forth, and puts His hand on your chest.
You are filled with warmth, as a glow lights you up and flows outwards from your heart through every part of your being. You can feel and see that this warmth, this glow, are extending themselves from your heart outwards to your hands, and upwards to your tongue and lips.
You feel moved, without knowing why, and you embrace Him… God… the Father… the Lord of All. Fear doesn’t even enter your mind, though you’d never have imagined doing such a thing before. And He returns the embrace, kisses you on the top of the head, and you are filled with a fullness of love, safety, and nurturance such as you have never known before. You realize, for the first time all the way through you, that He is truly, utterly, and only Good… and you never need doubt, never need ever but to trust Him completely forevermore.
He directs your gaze to the world we know. And He bids you observe His children, their hearts, hands, and lips.
As you look at the world, you see people. Myriads of people… good, bad, young… old… confident, frightened, hurting, healing… You see all kinds of people, doing all the kinds of things people do.
You see some people with dim hearts, laying hands on other people who glow a bit, and where they touch their hands glow as the object of their touch grows dimmer. The heart of the takers has a reddish dim glow, while children start with brilliant white and gold.
Here and there you see clusters of brilliance, often among whom are hearts that reach out with pulsing connection with this heart of God alongside you. You see that God continues to touch, to nurture, to maintain all His children, all these people. But there are vast differences among individuals how they respond to His touch.
Some people welcome, embrace, and reach towards it. Others simply receive it without response or seeming to notice Him. While still others, those with the dimmest glow, seek to avoid His touch and His love and life (for you realize these all are one in Him).
But as you watch longer, you see that everyone, even the most golden or brilliant, have moments when their hearts flash red, and they touch others with a dimming effect. And much touching seems not to have impact. And some touching, brings light to others and eases their way.
“What am I seeing, Father? (or Lord?)” you ask.
“You are seeing the answer to your questions, My child. Righteousness, sin, virtue, love, life… all of it. It is as simple as ‘relationship’… with Me, with others, with yourself. I, and Only I, give life through love. That is all I do, always. And life only comes through love. But children of free will as you are, you may choose at any given moment to GIVE life through loving another and giving from Me through your heart, your hands, your words… to love another and so give them life. Or, you may choose to TAKE life from another, deprive, neglect, injure, or wound another… diminishing their life, feeding upon them, to love yourself.
“It is quite simple, but very difficult to put in words. Nothing living stands still. Life requires consumption. I Alone am the source of life. I alone can feed you with love, life, and being. When you feed from Me, (I once expressed this as ‘eat My body’), I can fill you utterly and beyond. Water that you never thirst again, bread that you never die. To let Me fill you, and then to pass along such love, such life, such abundance to those around you through your heart… this is love, this is righteousness, this is virtue.
“But to choose instead to feed on others, to love the self at the expense of others, is to deprive them of life. This is to consume others for the sake of the self. Whether materially, or emotionally… to feed the ego by belittling others and making them smaller, is no less a taking of their life as to wound them physically. This is predation. This is vampirism. This… is sin.
“Not only is it wrong, for it takes life from another. It is also ineffective. You cannot truly live on ‘second hand life’. Only I Alone can give full life through love. To steal the life of another will never fill or sustain a person. It can barely maintain them. Eventually, such predation leaves only the empty shell of a life.
“Sin leaves you empty and hungry, no matter how much you grasp or take. Like ’empty calories’, there is no real life to it. The hunger gnaws, and will continue to do so until real life, real love, real Light is found.
“So there you are, Blessed child. To give life to others through love of them and Me, is righteousness. To take life from others for love of yourself, without Me, is sin. Any questions?”
You shake your head, a bit bewildered. This really is quite simple. He hugs you again, kisses you atop the head, and your eyes open…
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
You are again seated at your desk wondering how in the world you can ever find the words to explain this.
Then you remember, Jesus said, “Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.” [Matthew 15:17-20]
And you get it… everything is sacred. It is ALL held together in His hands, His heart, His love. To treat anything, especially ANYONE… as less than sacred… to fail to love anything or anyone that He died to redeem in the greatness of His love… Yeah, that’s just not OK. You get it now. Righteousness is treating sacred things that He loves as precious. Not to do so… well, yeah, that’s sin. And we do it, because sometimes we choose to… but still He breathes us, He touches us, He loves us… and thus, He lives us.
“Ain’t that somethin’?” you ponder, silently…
I would love for everyone to know the people in my life that have affected me in a positive way. I want to share my friends like I would share my crayons. That sounds hokey but it’s as simple as crayons. For me, crayons have been as close as friends. The various colors and what can be discovered from them.
In a world where the creative ones have a bit of a harder time fitting into the norm, my friend Ann has been a source of comfort. I’ve only known her a little while yet I do know that a lifetime of kindred spirits has just begun.
Here is the exact post from her Facebook page. She has given me permission to post these insightful words on parenting. The raw deal and the real deal. Enjoy the read and be looking for her blog to begin soon (we are working on that this week).
Cate B and Ann
“I took this photo almost 2 weeks ago and I’ve been thinking about posting it ever since. But I knew that if I did, I would want to be real honest about this particular picture.
This sweet mother/son selfie was taken on a date I went on with Kaiden. I can hear it now, “Awww! That is so sweet! Awww!” And you’ll begin to envision what a sweet, loveable, fun, bonding time that must have been.
And I must interrupt your envisionings with a bit of reality. Those were the envisionings I had when I had planned this date. But then I went ON the date…. And the picture you see was one of the very few, very few, sweet bonding moments of the whole evening.
The majority of the evening was spent “bonding” if you will, in a battle of wills. Fishing him out from under the table because I wouldn’t let him play games on the little game thingy that was on our table. (Thanks Applebees, thanks a LOT!) He didn’t want to eat his food, he talked back… The list goes on. It ended with an epic tantrum in the parking lot. NOT exactly how I would have preferred our date to go.
You see, right now we are going through a sowing season with him. A season of working the soil of his little heart. And it’s a HARD, gritty, sweaty, endless (or so it seems) toiling, thankless, season. It’s a season where we are planting seeds. The thing about planting is that you don’t see the fruits right away. That’s the hard part. You put the seeds down and they get covered up and because you can’t see them down in that soil, you can’t see what they are doing, you can’t see if they are germinating and taking root.
So we work that soil constantly, going after the weeds relentlessly. Relying on the grace, power, and instructions of the Master Planter. Carefully tending the soil of our own hearts. Living on faith and refusing to listen to the uprooter of the seeds. The lies that he whispers: “your child should not be acting this way in the first place.” “You’re messing him up.” “You’re not doing enough.” “You’re not doing it right.” “You’re not good enough.”
We stand firm on the Word and we water that soil with truth, love, and destiny. And we choose to live by faith, that we will see those precious seeds sprouting, come spring and summertime. And eventually there will be a full, thankful, abundant harvest.
You might wonder why I’m writing about all this. Well, getting these words down where I can see them, it encourages me, it boosters my faith. And I value transparency. Social media can really make it seem like we have perfect relationships, perfect lives. I am working daily to lay down perfection and pick up LIFE. It’s messy, it’s hard, it’s real, I don’t have it all figured out, but it’s beautiful.
And maybe, along the way, another parent who is going through this hard season of planting seeds, will be encouraged along with me. We got this friends, because God’s got us. And he supplies the seeds and the knowledge for the planting.”
Music: Julie Harris
If the Audio will not play, here is the YouTube file of the original composition:
“Believe and keep believing the original promise of Jesus that got you hooked to Him.”- From Our Daily Bible verse 101 . This site is also featured on my favorite and free app, Laudate (for apple) and Laudate for android.
(P.S. there is no endorsement or payment I am receiving for this. I love sharing bits and pieces of what I find and love and makes me tick, especially when they are free).
Reading that quote really started my day off right! I mean, typically when I begin to do my reading for the day, I have to spark the thinking which is not always such a blast at 5 a.m. when coffee still has not taken my body over. But this really struck me, the author offering this answer for himself: “For me, it is this: “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6: 33 KJV).
I felt another invitation from God, a playful one. I have been down and out as the days wane before Monday when I have to go back to the life I have grown to hate. Some of us are not so blunt about things, but that’s o.k. I am. So many of us feel this way but don’t talk about it or use poetic words that nobody may understand but us. I do that sometimes, but not this time. I am learning and growing and have really been able to move through my feelings and be honest. It is what has helped me move and thrive and be refined in the Holy Spirit’s fire. It helps me to recognize what’s wrong, seek God, pray and be myself. And over my shoulder, I see the Blessed Mother watching me, sometimes just smiling, shuffling me along like a little child.
So when this invitation came to recall the original promise of Jesus that got me “hooked,” I had to step back in my mind. But for me, it wasn’t what God promised to me, my journey didn’t start out that way. For me it was a promise I made to God the night I got down on my knees. I didn’t say it quite this way, but later found out it was part of a psalm. For me its: Psalm 116:16-18:
LORD, I am your servant,
your servant, the child of your maidservant;
you have loosed my bonds.
I will offer a sacrifice of praise
and call on the name of the LORD.
I will pay my vows to the LORD
in the presence of all his people,
So what was His original promise to me? He said yes to the vow I took. He said yes I will save you, and you will serve me for the rest of your life. He took me up on my offer. I can’t say that every “yes” to Him has been easy. But every “yes” has led me to the fulfillment, peace and the right path for my life that I have been so desperately searching for. I know I can’t mess up, as long as I say “yes.” And drawing me back to that moment was so powerful for me.
Sometimes we have to go back to move forward. Not go back there, but remember, to stimulate us. Sometimes we read rote prayer, or just “read” our bibles, or have the same routine day in and day out. Meditations, devotionals become boring and drab. We need the excitement, the spark the “I remember!” And this did it for me. I remembered, I smiled, I was there. I thought, what a great idea! This is what I have been missing, questions, lots of questions! I love questions! Another invitation to draw me in further.
So here’s the thing, I’m inviting you to do the same. Take a few moments and answer the question in the comment section or write your own post. It’s an invitation from Jesus!
“Believe and keep believing the original promise of Jesus that got you hooked to Him.”
Do you see the invitation? What is it? Go back there? Share with all of us in the comment section or on your own blogs. I can’t wait to hear from all of you!!!!!!!!!!!
“But to those who did accept him
he gave power to become children of God,
to those who believe in his name,
who were born not by natural generation
nor by human choice nor by a man’s decision
but of God.”
The Gospel according to John
I got half a mind to scream out loud, I got have half a mind to die-
I’ve read the Christmas posts, seen the reindeer pajamas, laughed at myself, then cried. I have always struggled with Christmas, especially as a Jewish person finding her way as a Christian in the world of reds and greens, happy Santas and nativity sets. I have struggled to understand why Christmas lights make Christians so mad, or why they are so upset about Santa. I have never understood in all the years I’ve been a Christian why I don’t feel the Christmas joy at all…
I have struggled with my expectations of Christmas, as I am sure many of you have. Some of us have lost loved ones and traditions are just not the same without them. Or maybe you’re working. Or maybe like me you’re some sort of convert (aren’t we all though?) fumbling their way through the Christmas festivities.
I decorated, bought the gifts, lit advent candles, went to mass as per our usual routine. I tried to anticipate, to see what everyone else was “seeing.” I read the posts about cancelling Christmas for kids who are bad, the posts that talk about Christmas as a pagan holiday, or Christmas trees that are just from the devil. I have read about the uproar of plain red Starbucks cups and C&E Christians and from people who are not Christians at all. For all that I’ve read and all that I’ve seen, (including the perfect family Christmas pictures replete with elves and bells and matching pajamas) I have to say I am completely unimpressed. I’m not the grinch, I’m just a girl who’s looking for the real Christmas.
My kids, they have been fighting for days. Mass, it was filled with standing room only (no strike that, no room at all). I have no family that celebrates Christmas, not one. I sat alone with my husband last night, two Jews eating a Christmas ham and casserole, kids crying upstairs on Christmas Eve, sans Christmas music.
I cried because I tried to plan the perfect Christmas. I tried to decorate the only way a little Jewish girl knows how. I bought the gifts, not many, but ones I knew the kids would enjoy. I filled the house with candles, an advent wreath and sugar cookies in the refrigerator. I got them each those ridiculous looking Christmas pajamas, as I do every year, threw reindeer bells in the backyard. They still fought and hated each other. I was still sitting in my dress from mass, no shoes, tired eyes.
I imagine many people feel the same way as me in some way, shape or fashion. It’s cliche to comeback and say Christmas is about Jesus so get rid of everything else and send your kids to go do a service project in Africa. My kids are little. I have three of them. I gave up all of my possessions, sold them all, and followed God’s leading to a small house away from where we were. Then I got rid of more extras.
I give money away when I feel prompted; the way I see it it’s just paper with a bunch of dead presidents. I visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament every Wednesday. I pray constantly, and then some more. I make my kids go to mass, AND listen (or at least try). I wear a veil because God called me to. My kids still fight and hate each other, and then love each other and then punch each other in the face. They still believe in Santa Claus. They still can’t quite understand why the rest of the world doesn’t believe in Jesus.
It took me awhile after crying, stuffing my face with the kosherest of hams, having a screamd-filled dinner, an overpacked mass, ungrateful kids (because that’s just kids), more screaming, sitting here while my kids are each in their rooms having their own little Christmas, that life doesn’t stop for our expectations. That Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. That although we celebrate his birth, I celebrate it everyday. That today is special yes, but not more special than the day he found me, then the moment I knew my husband found him, when He saved our marriage, or the moment I realized His calling me home to the Catholic church was the moment I had been waiting for but just didn’t know it. I thought of all those moments, and more, and realized for me I can’t glorify this day above all days, expecting that the day will be filled with perfect Jesus moments and kids who just can’t understand quite yet that the reason their family is together is because of that little baby.
He is an innocent baby, a youth, a rabbi, a grown man, a mystery. And He exists everyday for me, just as important as the next. On the days I don’t have perfect expectations for myself or my kids, it seems to work out, I just have to let Him in.
So I’ve decided that today is like every other day. The kids will be fighting, ungrateful and well, just being kids. My husband and I will try for the millionth time to understand why every holiday sucks. We’ll threaten to take away presents and try to “cancel” Christmas. The kids will spend some time in their rooms. I’ll read the scripture of the day and pray and thank God that in all my chaos my family is together. And I’ll let my expectations float away with my grief over my unperfect day.
And I hope you will too…
You can read more about Mary at There’s Something about Mary