Finding God in Vegas

Welcome To Las Vegas, Las, Vegas, Sign, Las VegasI am almost settling into my new role as mommy. I find myself still uncomfortable, not yet there but joyous at the days that await me. As preparation, God sent me to Las Vegas. Shocking as it may seem, Vegas seems to be the very place that has given me the foretaste of the promised land. Vegas is the place where my sister is, where I left my heart.

It has been nearly a year and a half since I have seen her. I thought all was hopeless until my parents swooped in like God’s angels and announced we were all going to Vegas to be together. I wasn’t sure what to make of God in that moment.

Sometimes God grants the prayers that you never pray.

In a city known for its sinfulness, I was staring at God’s love. I didn’t know what awaited me there, but I knew that He was there already, preparing the way for me. You see, we limit God to people and places when in fact God cannot be limited. We don’t allow Him His fullness, His space, His Holy Spirit to work wherever we are. I knew I wasn’t leaving God behind, I was finding God in Vegas.

It didn’t take long to see why God had me here. My sister, who decided to leave her career behind as a professional dancer, opened up her home to all of us . It was soothing and comfortable to be able to roll my bags and three children into my sister’s home- no elevators or stuffy hotel rooms, no overpriced food or the hustle bustle of a hotel lobby. She had the coffee machine ready, blankets and gifts for the kids, and my kids were reunited with their cousin. And I could breathe.

But it was seeing my sister’s face that changed me. She was relaxed and smiling, hospitable, not worried about messes. The only remnant I saw of her career was the picture of the cast of her last show framed in the garage.

And as I woke up in the morning and looked out to the mountains, I too could breathe. And God’s gentle voice came to me in the stillness of the hot desert air,

“You must learn to change your perspective, change your view”

The words were so quiet, but real. My sister had made a life out here knowing nobody. She left everything at the very height of her career to have my niece, to have a family. And motherhood was looking so very radiant on her.

I knew God had to bring me out here to give me a foretaste in accepting my vocation. I had to see the mountains, had to know there was life outside of lawyering, had to see my sister’s face, had to change my perspective.

Set Limits Around the Mountain to Make it Sacred

Dawn, Sun, Mountain, Landscape

Our lives are moving before us as we fail to catch up. The world is fast, but God is slow. Silence is not found in a place, but deep inside our souls. Silence, speak less. The rule of Saint Benedict #21, “To prefer nothing to the love of Christ.” Keeping silence in the light of community. Your home is that community. And it is not silence as in the traditional notion of silence, this silence is a peace. This silence is holy. This silence as young mothers is the inner core of what we hope to achieve and pass onto our children.

I hear from many mothers whose lives are in tumult. They want peace. Life is chaotic, children are chaotic, don’t let anyone fool you. Our expectations are high but are kids are four. Their conscience is barely formed… We are shaping clay, God is the artist through our hands.

And this is hard. It is harder when we look to attain Christ’s holiness. Secular happiness is easy to achieve- a cheap bottle of wine and a night of debauchery. It will make you happy, but it will not sustain you. Why does the world tell us as mothers to run away from our vocations? We don’t need a break from our children, we need a break with God.

The focus of our lives has to be the mountain, we must surround it. From morning until evening, our lives could use some assistance from the likes of Saint Benedict. A focus on God. Rising early to study Him. Spending the day surrounded by Him. Treating our families as the monastery community and not trying to live in spiritual isolation, that is not holiness. 

Place the beautiful boundaries around your time with God. Don’t expect your children to get up late, you get up early. Sacrifice is hard but needed. We grow in beauty and holiness when we set limits around the mountain to make it sacred, just ask Moses.

If we cherish something, we protect it. We stay on guard. We surround it. If we keep our mountain sacred, we keep the center of our life, Jesus sacred. How else will we protect our time with him if we ourselves have no boundaries?

For Mother’s Day, give yourself the gift of discipline. Set yourself a routine. Rise early and protect your space with Him so that you can live in community with your family and not in isolation. Buy yourself a bible if you don’t have one. Head for the mountain.

Exodus 19:23

But Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot go up to Mount Sinai, for you yourself warned us, saying: Set limits around the mountain to make it sacred.”

Simplify your Life

“Worship the Lord in holy attire, ” Psalm 96:9(a)

“Every grain offering that you shall present to the Lord shall be unleavened, for you shall not burn any leaven or honey as an oblation to the Lord.” Leviticus 2:11

“Come as you are, ” Holy Spirit

simplify1

I find the world to be spoiled by the burden of busyness. There was a time in my life I gave into that, even as a Christian. I couldn’t say no and always said yes. From after school activities to volunteering to ministry, there was no place you couldn’t find me. I didn’t have a sense of priority or more than that, I didn’t even think to come to God to ask Him what it was He wanted me to do. It was a slow process for me to come before the Lord on this issue, and even harder when I had to begin to leave the activities and groups He hadn’t chosen for me.

There is much written in both the secular and Christian spheres about the burden of busyness. The advice I have found is simplistic at best. Secular blogs celebrate the mom that is able to do it all, the working mom, the single mom, the overburdened mom. Christian bloggers seem focused on the general concept of trusting God or the concept of dealing with busyness in general. And although I appreciate and garner something from everything I read, I must say that none of it presented any real and concrete answers. That was until I read a book by Pastor Bill Hybels that changed my life.

I am a big proponent of supporting the work that has helped me in my own life. Towards the beginning of my Christian journey, this book was it. Simplify was just what I needed at that particular stage in my life, and I have recommended it to all kinds of people, since the message is wholly universal.

Being a full-time working mom myself to twins that are six and a five-year old, people often ask me how I do it. I have to tell you the ultimate answer is through my relationship with Christ, and the wisdom He has so graciously bestowed on me. The book Simplify was an early gift that God gave me, and saved me from falling into the world’s snares. There is one principle that I have stuck with since reading the book so long ago, and it is my “secret” weapon to all things busyness.

Pastor Hybels talks about having a day for everyone. What I mean by that is that everyone in the family has their one day of activity, to do what they choose and love. He suggests writing it out and sticking to it so it looks something like this:

Monday- Johnny- Soccer

Tuesday- Mom- bible study

Wednesday- Hayley- dance

And so on and so forth. The activities and days of course change over time, but the overall schedule cannot be changed. Everyone has their own day, their own time. And when you set your Sabbath day, that’s it. 

I used this concept along with prayer and have been doing so for the last two years. When things come along that are outside of that “one a day” concept, I pray and ask God if this is what He wants. I can tell you that for two years, any time I have broken this “one a day” pattern, I have had some serious scheduling issues, burn out and stress.

I remembered this today while praying about an invitation for an additional group. It sounded so good. But I know better, and brought it to God. And God, as He always does gave me the answer I needed.

Busyness can overburden us and I find that we create our own busyness; we only have ourselves to blame. If you don’t know where to start, I highly suggest getting this book which will provide you a great compass. I am also here if you need ideas, as it was over time that I found my center and peace.

How do I have time? I do it God’s way.

theressomethingaboutmarywrites@gmail.com

https://theressomethingaboutmarysite.wordpress.com/

** I have not been paid for any endorsement of this book. This is just my heart, to share with everyone what has worked for me in my own life. 

Christmas Sucks

“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-

David Gray

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