For the God I love

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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

When God says Yes

Yes, Letters, Tablets, Arrangement, Font, ConsentI was sitting in the first meeting of my prayer group, anxious to get right into it. Another check off of another task of another thing I am doing in my string of things for God. Ok God you win, I quit my job, even though that’s what I’ve been asking for; I’m free-falling, I’m doing this crazy God thing and I am terrified. I need structure, I need walls. How can I exist without walls?

So I sit on the couch full well knowing that there is no agenda planned, just the three of us getting together to start this group, to pray, to be together. I moved myself onto the couch and felt myself just pouring out. I don’t know where I’m going, how I will survive, I’m struggling, I am afraid. There were so many days and years of no’s that I had resigned myself to the fact that the answer would always be no. I would live this way-forever. But not really live. Instead, I’ll just exist.

And so I start talking to my friend who was laid off and who recently found a job. We are talking about our journeys and our struggles and there was no agenda. We didn’t start out with prayer or a rosary. We did not read from a meditation. We just let the Holy Spirit guide us through the conversation which was laced with a lot of wanting to just simply let go. And the next words she spoke changed things for me.

One night I was speaking to God. I felt so rejected. All of the interviews were a no, I wasn’t getting any yes’s. Why is everything NO God? And then He said to me-

What about all the times I said yes?

So my friend starts recounting her yes’s, so many of them. And in my mind I started to recount my own. Even now I am sitting on a mountain of yes’s. Yes you can quit your job. Yes I have something else for you. Yes I am going to let you write. Yes and most importantly I am going to let you be a mom. In all those yes’s I couldn’t accept what He had done for me. Didn’t feel worthy, didn’t think He loved me that much. 

And I imagine there are so many of us out there like that. Prayers being answered and things falling into place yet we still can’t believe it. Or maybe like my friend you are focusing on the no’s not believing God for the yes, not remembering all the times He said YES.

So we sat and talked about all the yes’s. All of the wonderful things that God had done in our lives and continues to do. And the yes’s filled up the room and the no’s just moved aside. And the biggest yes of all, he said yes to us. 

I read a lot about the no’s. A lot about struggle. A lot about the bad things that are going on in this world. But I never take the time to reflect on God’s yes’s. They are stepping stones. They are blessings. They are road markers which lead me back to Him.

If you can’t count your blessings, count your Yes’s.

All our love must be for God

good-sam-glassFrom the treatise On Spiritual Perfection by Diadochus of Photice, bishop
All our love must be for God

No one who is in love with himself is capable of loving God. The man who loves God is the one who mortifies his self-love for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of divine love. Such a man never seeks his own glory but only the glory of God. If a person loves himself he seeks his own glory, but the man who loves God loves the glory of his Creator. Anyone alive to the love of God can be recognized from the way he constantly strives to glorify him by fulfilling all his commandments and by delighting in his own abasement. Because of his great majesty it is fitting that God should receive glory, but if he hopes to win God’s favor it becomes man to be humble. If we possess this love for God, we too will rejoice in his glory as Saint John the Baptist did, and we shall never stop repeating: His fame must increase, but mine must diminish.

I know a man who, though lamenting his failure to love God as much as he desires, yet loves him so much that his soul burns with ceaseless longing for God to be glorified, and for his own complete effacement. This man has no feeling of self importance even when he receives praise. So deep is his desire to humble himself that he never even thinks of his own dignity. He fulfills his priestly duty by celebrating the Liturgy, but his intense love for God is an abyss that swallows up all consciousness of his high office. His humility makes him oblivious of any honor it might bring him, so that in his own estimation he is never anything but a useless servant. Because of his desire for self abasement, he regards himself as though degraded from his office. His example is one that we ourselves should follow by fleeing from all honor and glory for the sake of the immeasurable blessings of God’s love, for he has loved us so much!

Anyone who loves God in the depths of his heart has already been loved by God. In fact, the measure of a man’s love for God depends upon how deeply aware he is of God’s love for him. When this awareness is keen it makes whoever possesses it long to be enlightened by the divine light, and this longing is so intense that it seems to penetrate his very bones. He loses all consciousness of himself and is entirely transformed by the love of God.

Such a man lives in this life and at the same time does not live in it, for although he still inhabits his body, he is constantly leaving it in spirit because of the love that draws him toward God. Once the love of God has released him from self-love, the flame of divine love never ceases to burn in his heart and he remains united to God by an irresistible longing. As the Apostle says: If we are taken out of ourselves it is for the love of God; if we are brought back to our senses it is for your sake.

Sniffling, Collapsed with Giggles

Don't SneezeOK, this is just a dumb little post, but it was so funny… I just had to put it in here.

The other day I posted “Refrigerator Magnets and Acid Rain”, discussing that little nanosecond of “pure intention” I have when God prompts prayer, versus me wrapping all my own mental debris around it, by the time I get to “Amen”.

Well, last night God sorta tacked His own “epilogue” on to it, and it just turned out hysterically funny. I needed to share.

I… am sick.

Right now, along with others in this house and probably millions dealing with this bizarre weather… I have a cold.

It’s only that… a cold. Not pneumonia, influenza, bronchitis, copd, or a number of actually SERIOUS conditions worthy of any note or sympathy. I just have… a cold. I’m sniffling, blowing my nose a lot, sneezing from time to time, and coughing. I have NO PAIN whatsoever… the cough hasn’t made the ribs hurt, the kleenex hasn’t yet burned my nose, and there’s no sore throat. Sympathy, while always welcome, is not the least bit called for.

Nonetheless… I don’t LIKE being sick. I don’t have TIME to be sick. I don’t feel my normal jovial perky SELF when I’m sick. So IDON’WANNABE sick. My general, all-purpose response to such situations is… I whine. Nothing earth shattering. Just generally a fairly quiet mantra that goes something like… “I’m sick. I hate being sick. I’m sick and tired of being sick. So, Lord… if it’s all the same with you… I’m through with this now. Let’s move on to ‘Little Monk isn’t sick anymore’ days. OK? Thanks. Oh… Amen.”

It’s just irritating. Stuff doesn’t taste right. My eyes are a bit blurrier than normal. My chest feels heavy. And… (OK, you can go ahead and laugh if you want)… my voice… my voice has a distinct amphibian twang… I sound like a frog croaking, “I hab a code id by doze.”

So, last night I’m sitting on the couch in no physical discomfort at all, but mentally bemoaning my fate, and quite suddenly, the Holy Spirit pops up with, “Hey! This would be a GREAT TIME to praise and thank God!”

Stunned… I reply. “But I’m SICK! I dun WANNA pray and praise. I’m not happy!”

But then, suddenly, I get this brilliant idea… “Wait, You’re RIGHT. This is the PERFECT time! I don’t feel good, perky, holy or any of that. Yeah. Great!”

So, quickly I dash to the Throne, and start praising God… embracing how icky I feel. I didn’t even look anything up, but just started winging it (in my own unique idiom) through some version of Daniel’s Canticle, just making up a litany of my own interspersed with “praise the Lord”, “thank the Lord,” or “praise and exalt Him above all forever.”

And my mind was just casting about for new things to “name” to call them to “praise”.

(OK, now, did I mention I’m sick? So… this will get kinda silly. And it’s prayer. So… I don’t want to offend anyone with my irreverence, but this is just what happened, OK? So, try not to judge. By the way, I’m sick… so I’m grabbing on to that in case I need an “excuse”.)

Anyway, I found myself like, running out of things to name… sun and moon, stars and sky, trees and flowers, grass and shrubs, cold and heat, so on.. so on… and it kind of gets like one of those back seat kids word games you play on a long road trip? I’m naming things to praise Him, but running out of things, so I’m losing my rhythm.

So I’m sitting here praising, running dry on fodder. And I repeated myself… and He says, “You said that one already…” and like, without thinking, I shot back, “well I’m running out, how about a little help here”... and HE starts naming animals, and stuff.

The absurdity of the situation strikes me, and I start laughing.

“Wait, Lord, YOU can’t help! This is MY praise to YOU!”

“But you’re running dry… Here, see if this helps.” And He just ‘dumped’ a metric ton of JOY on top of my head. It was like getting rained on by Skittles and M&M’s at a Willy Wonka factory. I just started laughing and couldn’t stop. (It’s really hard to ‘pray’ when tears of laughter are welling up.)

I actually sat here (you won’t believe this), and sorta stomped my foot in pique as I said, “Lord! Cut it out! You’re wrecking this whole thing! I’m trying to do something SERIOUS here! And You’re making me laugh! I can’t concentrate!”

Yes, Gentle Reader, I actually said that to the Lord High God. It must have been fever!

Far from being offended, HE laughed uproariously, and said, “STOP! For goodness sake, quit taking yourself so seriously. You’re praising and thanking Me. I GOT that! I receive that. I embrace that, and it makes Me happy. I’m just embracing you back, and that… is… Joy! Get over it!”

At which point, I fully realized the absurdity of my heart… and together the two of us laughed ’til my coughing stopped me. In those quiet moments I found myself thinking about that “nanosecond” post I mentioned. I shook my head and said to Him, “No one would believe this, You know.”

“Believe what?”

“That prayer can be like this. That You can reflect back simple determination to praise with a pure intention… without having to ‘feel good’ first… as a cascade of pure Joy and clean laughter.”

“They might, Little Monk. From YOU, they just might. Try it. Go ahead and write it up and see what happens. In the meantime, I was enjoying that Name Game thing we were playing. Let’s go back to that for a while.”

“You got it, Lord”… and with His help, I kept naming pairs of creation… prompting them to “praise and exalt Him above all, forever.”

It was a glorious evening, and for quite a while there, I didn’t even mind the fact that…

I’m sick!

Joy and grace to you, Gentle Reader! Praise and exalt Him above all Forever!

The Little Monk

Do you have a passport?

“It is greater…to be a child of God than to be the ruler of a kingdom: this last I shall lose at death, but the other will be my passport to an everlasting destiny.” Saint Louis IX, King of France

“You can have it all, my empire of dirt.” Nine Inch Nails covered by Johnny Cash

Passports. They are an entry to another place. They allow us freedom of passage. They are a privilege, not a right. A picture and the country of origin. You can be transported to another place.

There are many books on how to change your life, thinking positive and living the life you want to lead by simply speaking it into the universe. I have read all of them. You can be rich, and famous and fabulous. You can have anything you want. But what if you garnered all of that only to have found out, it’s not what you really wanted at all? You are not satisfied.

You can travel the world with a passport, but still feel alone. You can dine with kings and with peasants and still not enjoy the freedom of travel. You can have it all, my empire of dirt.

The lyrics of the song “Hurt” by Nine Inch Nails and covered by Johnny Cash is a reminder of the passport. The way we use it, where we go. It is a metaphor for the journey of life. It is an allusion to the words of Jesus, as I imagine myself before the crucifix, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.”

Yes it is about drug addiction, but it can be manipulated into any type of pain. It is about what means the most in the end. It is about our humanness, and our struggle. It is about that passport. The one we all hold in our hands.

What have I become, my sweetest friend,

everyone I know goes away in the end

And you could have it all, my empire of dirt

I will let you down, I will make you hurt

If I could start again, a million miles away

I would keep myself, I would find a way

Life is a funny thing. If you think about it, we are all connected by the same thing- the need for satisfaction in life, the dire hunt for happiness, and the struggles we go through to get it. We mostly don’t allow ourselves to connect with others in those deep places. There are no more outdoor philosophical discussions about a man’s inner being. But if you really listen, really listen to Johnny Cash’s cover, it provides a simplified glimpse into that notion. It is painfully real and exposing and true. You can have everything, yet nothing, nothing at all.

How are you traveling and where are you going? Is your passport an attempt to chase happiness in order to be free or are you using it for eternal purposes? Are you simply moving from place to place or does your passport allow you to travel to and from the heavenlies?

Enjoy the song

 

Be our guest, Be our guest, be our guest!

“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!!!!!!!!!!!

-M

Theressomethingaboutmary

A house is not a home…when you’re not there

“During the time when Israel was deprived of land and Temple, God- according to the traditional criteria-could not compete with other gods, for a god who had no land and could not be worshiped was not a god at all.”

Pope Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, p.347

 

Pause thought. There’s another half to that thought that Pope Benedict XVI had, but not      just       quite      yet. When God wakes you up to finish a book, you do it. And this book has been difficult for me to finish. Not because it’s not fantastic, because oh it is. But because it’s savory, and I eat books, fast, some would say (some being my husband) I eat them with my hands like an animal at a table without the use of fork and knife. But no, not this one. I think I’m ready to do a dissertation on it I took so many notes, so many pauses. It didn’t hit me like the light on Paul’s Damascus Road, it came in a long Elijah- like subtle whisper, begging me to read more, begging me to stay.

So 5 am, in the closet, on the floor, tired eyes, ok Lord, hair messy no coffee, I snuck away there like I was about to rob the place. I have been desperate, searching, slap me God do something. I’ll only run to Him. He is my source and my destiny and He likes when I am crazy over Him. And I am crazy over Him.

So when He invited me away with Him I jumped and smiled and I didn’t have to get ready or look my best. He took me, the mess that I was from being awake from my youngest.

“Don’t go back to sleep, don’t go,” it was deep within my soul. I was so ready for a stolen moment, an adventure, even in my closet.

“Finish the book,” He says.

I did. I finished the book. But read every page this time like He was there. And I found treasure, and romance and Him. And it led off with the thought I started with above.

“During the time when Israel was deprived of land and Temple, God- according to the traditional criteria-could not compete with other gods, for a god who had no land and could not be worshiped was not a god at all.”

Oh, I was in it. Drawn in. I felt His pull. My pulls are a knee-jerk let’s go! His;   his are subtle, small, gentle, gliding. Hold my hand and take me. Like a little girl. I was inside that sentence. He was showing me how to be a child, how to be inside what he was showing me. I listened… calm, peaceful. I was with Him yesterday before the Blessed Sacrament in adoration. It was still penetrating my being.

Inside, God was not there. No temple, no land, no place to rest his head. A wanderer, a sojourner. Nothing to look at. Open space and movement. But He, he was still living and breathing. In this closet. Far from Jerusalem. Far from my church. I realized it then. Even in my longing to pray daily in His church, He’s made a space for me, a place for me. I live in God’s house or rather, He’s made His house inside of me.

“It was during this period that the people learned to understand fully what was different and new about Israel’s God, the god of one people and one land, but quite simply God, the God of the universe, to whom all lands, all heaven and earth belong, The God who is master of all…Once again: Israel came to realize that its God was simply “God” without qualification.” (Pope Benedict XVI pp.347-348).

Inside that closet was me and Him and silent worship. It was time away with Him. I had no shrine or offerings but myself. Like St. Peter exclaimed during the transfiguration, I was so overcome and had nothing to say but, “It is so good that we are here.” Sounded more in my mind like a nervous uttering on a first date, but it was all I had. I was in open territory, free, free at 5 am with an invitation from God to read and sit with him. And I could care less if the rest of the world doesn’t understand me.

Are you deprived of land and temple? Space or place? Nowhere to go? Roaming in physicality or even in spirit? In wide open spaces that are just too big? The God of the universe had no place to rest his head, so you are in excellent company! And I’m there with you saying, Yes! Yes! Me too! I am shouting Yes! I have nowhere to go than to Him. Always searching, always traveling, continuously finding my way back to Him. This lover will never leave me, never let me go. We are two hippy purveyors of land, He’s there, He’s always there. Still in love with me.

I write most of my pieces while listening to music. The Holy Spirit leads me to songs that ignite me. I want to share this with you today as you will often see music associated with my pieces. Today, the music is crucial to understanding my piece. It is intended to be listened to while you read through it. I hope you see as deep and wide as I do today. Love you all-

M

 

TheressomethingaboutMary