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Suffering Makes Sense

Its been a month since the accident. Each day a new beginning, challenge and opportunity. What do I do with it?

While being hit by a car was never on my bucket list, it has provided me with a way to reach out to others who have experienced and are experiencing unexpected pain and sorrow in their own lives as one who knows.

The stories are a beautiful peek into depth of the human soul. We are stronger than we think. We are able to withstand immense, long lasting pain and we are capable of growth in holiness beyond our wildest imagination through all this.

No one looks for suffering, no one wants to wake up on a burn unit or ICU with needles and tubes connected everywhere, and stop their lives while the unexpected takes priority. Yet, every moment of everyday this is what happening all over when we least expect it.

Why?

Something about suffering makes sense. We can see it tangibly on a human level, how those that survive and surmount great pain and suffering are somehow stronger, wiser, transformed. Something changes in us on a profound level. Those who suffer long term disabilities, near death experiences and the like are wise beyond their years.

So this little thing I am going through I have to look at as a gift as crazy as that sounds. Good can come from bad things- that is a fact. The good I have witnessed so far is the effect this has had on others. They pay attention more when they drive, they bought helmets and promote their use, they pray harder and more regularly, they reach out with meals and cards and visits in their busy days. I am blessed beyond measure by the outpouring of love and generosity.

On a spiritual level I can only imagine what changes are taking place and how the Lord applies my pain and suffering to the One Body of Christ as a means of healing and reparation.

So I accept this, give it over to Jesus, and pray that one day I will get the privilege of seeing some of the good that came from this small moment in my life.

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A Second Chance

It’s been almost three weeks since I was hit by a car riding to work. That’s the day my life took a radical step backwards, and now consists of baby steps forward. On one hand it is kind of surreal, on the other hand, it is very real.

Each day is a new beginning. I’m learning to ask for help instead of doing everything myself. I am a little more attentive to when I need to sit and rest when I have done too much. Even though “too much” is really nothing at all. It’s weird going from independent to dependent.

The thing is people want to help, they really do. People who are hurt just don’t always like asking. I’m guilty of that. I think I am bothering someone, interrupting something important, being too needy. It takes humility to ask, to depend, to let someone do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Funny how God is helping me work on my pride through all this. I did ask for more humility after all. I don’t think I knew what that meant, or how God might make that happen. God knows exactly what is necessary to  bring about our holiness.

This Easter I really thanked God for my life, for this second chance life. I could be very buried by now. Almost forgotten about, a distant memory on the minds of those that once knew me, a life once lived and then cruelly, unexpectedly taken away.

Instead, I am here. Broken, scarred and bruised, a little worse for the wear; but alive.

Let me not waste this day, this moment, this second chance.

The God of the universe has given me a chance to continue to serve Him even in my messed up state.  Perhaps to spread joy instead of misery, to see life through wiser eyes and a grateful heart.

And if I might just give one little piece of advice to my fellow bikers out there; wear a helmet. Don’t assume cars can see you, don’t cross in the middle of a busy road in the dark just cause you think it is clear.  Be careful out there, or you will end up like me or worse. Motorists are distracted and likely do not see you. If you want to live another day be extra cautious, and anticipate the unexpected.

Alleluia! I’m alive!

Spiritual But Not Religious, Really?

I meet so many young adults who are “spiritual but not religious.” What does that mean? It is like saying I love coffee but I don’t drink it. I love to experience nature but I don’t leave my house. I love God….but I can’t imagine actually going to church and worshiping him.

What we keep in our heads ONLY, what we keep in our hearts ONLY, what we keep private and between me and Jesus ONLY; is NOT faith at all. It is laziness. Sound harsh? It may be.  But let me put something out there for you to think about.

Faith requires action!

God is faithful. God is always at work in his creation and with his children. ALWAYS! What’s our problem? If God kept his faith to himself, it would be a very bleak and dark world.

Faith requires action!

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Spiritual but not religious is a cop out.

Our world is degrading morally at an increasing rate. Imagine if those who claim to be Christian actually lived their faith out loud, fed the poor, clothed the naked, spoke openly with love about Jesus Christ, shared how God works in their lives AND worshiped together weekly.

Imagine!

Listening to Christian songs, getting a big tattoo of a cross on your body, claiming Christianity without actually living Christianity is one thing. Doing Christianity is quite another. Its messy. It requires an integrity of word and deed, it requires courage in the face of a world that screams “keep it to yourself!”

The world will change for the better when we Christians are authentically following Christ. When we are not hypocrites and privately hiding Jesus from the world. Nine out of ten couples I meet do not even pray together. They don’t talk about their faith to each other, they don’t practice their faith.

Lent is a great time to practice that faith you have forgotten about, ignored or hidden away. If you only know a little bit ABOUT Jesus, but you don’t KNOW Jesus it may be more difficult. Prayer is a great place to begin.

God is always listening, always reaching out to us, always waiting to have a relationship with each of us. Simply say, “God, I want you to come and wrap your love around me. I want you to show me who you are, what your plans are for me, and the wonderful relationship we can have together.” That’s all. Say it everyday. Heck, say it a hundred times a day!

Your life will begin to change in a wonderfully surprising way. I promise. Be diligent, hopeful, expectant! This great little clip speaks more about prayer in context of the mass and how you can begin to live that faith out loud with others.

 

What’s the Deal With Lent?

What’s the big deal anyway with Lent? Why does it matter, isn’t that pa-say, old school, a practice best left in the Dark Ages? What ever difference does it make to give up chocolate, or candy or beer or coffee? How will that make the world a better place? How will that feed starving children, cure the sick, or fill the churches?

Lent is about me and you personally. It is about looking inside myself and seeing what attachments have become obstacles to my relationship with God and my growth in holiness. It is an inward glance that should be penetrating, honest, and intentional.

WHY?

Because when we each individually take the time to do this, and do it really well; we can begin to see where our faults have become our failings.

“Failings?”Seriously?

Failure to love properly and without limit in imitation of God.

Failure to see that we are interconnected as the One Body of Christ, meaning what I do and do not do affects us ALL.

Failure to realize that this is the journey of a lifetime in preparation for eternal destinations. Heaven and hell decisions are made right here.

Failure to see my hungry, hurting, brother or sister as I busy myself with me, myself, and I.

Need I go on?

This is a time that is a gift given by the Church, if we use it properly to reflect, to change to begin anew.

Yes, I have failed miserably in the past. Lents have come and gone. I have remained the same. It is good to know that I am given lots of opportunities to turn back, reach out, and start again. I invite you to do the same.

Many organizations are offering ways this Lent to help us grow. See if there is something here that might benefit you in your journey to holiness this Lent.

Matthew Kelly: Dynamic Catholic

Sharing Jesus on social media, 2 minute videos to share, sent to your email: #ShareJesus

Daily quotes and beautiful images: Daily Lenten E-Spiration

40 Day Spiritual Workout, Bob Rice

I know there is much more to offer but here is a great start.

Make this Lent count! Grow in love! Grow in holiness! Change the world, by starting with yourself!

 

No Good Excuse

I admire those who can speak the truth in all seasons. Those whom I am bringing to mind have a holy zeal that doesn’t allow them to remain silent in the face of untruths. They are bold in their love of the Lord.

Thank you for your witness.

It seems for years that my lips were sewed shut in the face of overwhelming dissent. Part of the problem was that I too was overwhelmed by the unexpected realization that we Catholics were NOT all on the same page in the basic beliefs and tenants of the faith. (big belly laugh from the peanut gallery!) It is an especially hard lesson when one works for the Church. It is there, I feel, that we meet at times, the most resistance. What my experience has shown me too is that “personal theologies” don’t always mesh with Church teachings.

Another important lesson I continue to learn is there may be many ways to look at the same truth. Not that I have gone from black and white to grey, but to realize more specifically, that my measure is not THE measure. My expectations are not God’s expectations, and most importantly, people don’t know what they don’t know. Their family and formation (or lack there of) plays a huge role. The outside voices, (and there are many in our current times), can actually speak untruths, misguided tolerance, and out right lies.

To whom do we listen? Where do we seek truth?

What saddens me most, is we cannot always expect to hear the complete truth from those we should expect to hear it from. Those whose lives are dedicated to work in the Church, those who collect a paycheck from the Church and have a perceived  hot line to heaven, and those who who are at times wolves in sheep’s clothing.

Perhaps it was poor formation, poor role models, decades of misinformation passed down in an attempt to make the load a little lighter on the faithful, to not judge too harshly, so instead hand out lollipops where a good spiritual whooping was required.

I don’t know?

Servant of God, Madeline Delbrel wrote this, “For, even in the midst of a world populated with good people, the goodness of a heart converted to Christ does not resemble other forms of goodness…It demands that we love no matter whom, all the way to the end, and no matter when it may be. It accepts no good excuse for not being good.

Yes the world is populated with lots of good people. What she is writing about I believe, is there still is a distinction between ordinary worldly perceived goodness and God’s goodness and light in someone. What convicted my heart more than anything was this little line, “…it accepts no good excuse for not being good.”

I’ve used a lot of excuses over the years.  What I even felt were good excuses for not speaking up when I should have; even if it meant the loss of a job or a thousand arrows in my heart. I have found new courage again and again when the brave, bold voices of truth do not remain silent.

Thank you for your witness, for it gives us all courage to go and do the same.

Closer Babe

This Advent hasn’t waited for me to get it together yet.

It hasn’t paused while I spread myself so thin attempting to buy, sell, close, prepare, shop, wrap, pen cards, post or consider gift giving.

It simply has marched onward, ready or not.

I keep trying to refocus on the coming Babe…

Stuff, and decisions, and distractions, and life keeps getting in the way.

But the Babe…

Babies do not wait, they come when they come.

Let us make haste in preparation for what is truly at the heart of this season of seasons

Prepare the way of the Lord!

That other stuff can take second place for once.

May your Christmas preparations, make straight for the coming of the Babe in the manger.

Why have a national holiday that’s very purpose is gratitude oriented? For all intense and purposes it offers folks a few precious hours to stop, reflect, and  remember that everything is gift. It is right and good to stop and celebrate each other, the bounty and the abundant blessings we all can take for granted more than we would like to admit.

Each moment, each life,

Each breath, even strife.

Each person and place,

Gratuitous grace.

The bed we sleep in, and dawn awake,

The mountain, valley, and tranquil lake.

The snow and rain, every ache and pain,

subtly remind us, our lives are not in vain.

We are wanted and desired,

like precious metal fired,

refined, by purity inspired,

by the ONE who made something from nothing, so long ago.

Realize your worth, and each precious fleeting day

lift your eyes and heart in silence say

Thank you Father, for your generous way

in blessing me today.

 

Glad You Asked

“Why do you bring God into every conversation?”

This simple question was posed to me recently by someone I love dearly. Let me attempt to explain.

How do you not bring the Author of Life into life itself? How can I speak of the reason for my joy, my hope, my strength without naming its cause? What is the reason for oxygen if not to breath, or for water if not to cleanse and satiate?  How do you describe a rainbow without using color?

How can I not give recognition to the One, who animates all things and brings everything into existence? Without God there would be no bird to sing a melodious song, no leaf to sway in the invisible wind, no eye to glimpse untold beauty or ear to hear boisterous laughter.

Through His great love we all came into being, and it is His immeasurable, inexhaustible, unconditional, and infinitesimal love that helped me find my beloved and together in love, incarnate five unique,  unforgettable, exquisite human beings we call sons and daughters.

How does one speak of conquering mountains and surviving floods without mentioning the lifeline that pulled them up or saved them from drowning? God is the blood that courses through my body, and the air that fills my lungs.

God is the lens through which I see the world and even if I should lose my eyesight it would not dim nor alter how I interpret the world around me. He is the glue that holds everything together, the stream connecting every water way, the thread that binds, assembles, and weaves all matter.

He is at once the question and the answer, the reason and purpose, movement and motion itself.

Because of God I am here and so are you. I am able to listen, respond, love, laugh and cry with humanity.

In a world that constantly shifts, betrays, disillusions and deceives, He is the objective truth that I anchor my existence to as storms thrash and attempt to overwhelm me. I may get beat up, pulled under, and resemble death more than life, yet God is the tether that holds firm, keeping me safe and steadfast through it all.

God is light in the darkness, joy in hardship, hope in disaster and the answer to every human cry for help. He is love, forgiveness, mercy, justice and so much more. Only He can make sense of the senseless, or bring good out of evil.

So, my sweet friend, I can only say with conviction and certainty that it is nearly impossible for me not to bring God into my conversations. I am hopeful that because of this fact, that deep down inside, you realize this, and it is why I am worth speaking to at all.

May you one day find this inescapable verb to be inseparable from any sentence uttered from your lips and fondly remember this question, you posed so long ago, and now equipped with greater knowledge,  wisdom, and understanding do the same.

 

Published on: http://catholiclane.com/glad-you-asked/#sthash

Dear Brittany Maynard

You don’t know me, and sadly, I don’t know you. Why should you care what another voice among the millions is saying? Because, I believe I have good news. Like so many, your story has crashed into my world, just as cancer crashed into yours. As expected in your very public decision, you have captured the world’s attention and brought the cause you mistakenly want to “attach your name to and leave as a legacy,” to the forefront.

In interviews you have shared that it is “cancer that is ending your life,” but you are “choosing to end it sooner with a lot less pain and suffering.”

Suffering is a part of life, and no one escapes it. Some, like my father have suffered for many decades. I imagine when he was told at 30 years old, that he would never walk again, and would live every day in incredible pain, he may have seriously considered in the particularly painful days, ending such misery. I thank God every day that he did not. What my father, and many others like him who suffer, have taught the rest of us, is that we are stronger than we think we are-that even in the midst of a disability, cancer, or even terminal illnesses, there is something essential they have to teach the rest of us. Something so valuable, that when one prematurely chooses to end their life, humanity is robbed, especially those closest to them, of an important lesson.

What is that lesson?

Dignity. Our worth, both healthy and strong or terminally ill, is priceless. We are not just animals whose value is measured by productivity or contribution. We all have irreplaceable worth just because we are human, and loved into existence. We are a unique and unrepeatable gift brought to humanity. There will never ever in all time and history, be another you!

Here is the good news to the question that has haunted humanity forever; why is there suffering? John Paul II, a man who knew great personal loss and suffering said this in 1987, in an Apostolic Address to Americans and Canadians, “suffering is present in the world in order to release love, in order to give birth to works of love towards neighbor, in order to transform the whole of human civilization into a ‘civilization of love.’” For me, this has been the very key that has unlocked the greatest mystery of humanity. It makes sense out of the senseless.

Why should you or any other human care what a deceased Pontiff had to say? Because we recognize truth when we hear it.

Think about what happens when we hear of the plight of fires, tornados, senseless shootings, or 911 victims? As human beings we naturally want to respond out of concern and love. It is often those kinds of events that shake us out of our busy-ness, our lethargy, and self-centeredness. When illnesses, disasters, and human suffering present themselves they are opportunities to respond to total strangers in love with works of mercy, kindness, communal and financial help. It releases love on the receiver but also on the giver. In giving love, we are gifted in return in love, and thus transforming civilization.

I know you are scared, who wouldn’t be? It is ok to be scared to death-but you are not alone, and never will be. Ending your life prematurely, is not “dying with dignity.” Rather it is robbing those closest to you, and those you don’t even know, of the rare and beautiful opportunity to pour out love in abundance on you in your time of greatest need. I imagine this is already happening to some degree. Your mother said it best, in it being an “honor to take care of you.” Anyone who truly cares about you would do whatever it took to be with you, and to spend every single second of your precious natural life, by your side. If you end your life, they will only be left wishing they would have had more time with you.

I congratulate you for not ending your life and extending the time with your family. Never feel pressured to go through with your original publicized decision. Know there is grace in abundance, strength, and fathomless love available to you as you walk this journey. Pray and never stop believing in miracles, they happen all the time.

I beg you instead, to consider letting your legacy be an instrument that released tremendous love on humanity. We desperately need your witness. Thank you for your courage. It is already through your witness that love is growing and we also got a chance to meet the beautiful young woman we would have never known without this event in your life. Be strong and take heart, you are no

Tidings

Watching the rhythmic ocean waves hit the shoreline can be calming and I’ve found reassuring as well. It makes me think about the constancy of God’s love for each of us. It is always reaching out for us, consistently, gently. Always beckoning and inviting us that we might encounter love’s embrace.

We don’t want to get wet sometimes though in the surf, or get sand in our suits because it can get a little messier than we like. So we stay at a safe distance, away from loves reach. Sometimes we just want to get our toes wet, or get used to the water little by little, not trusting that it is safe there, or even FUN…if we let go of control.

This is me at times. I love to watch at a distance. I am afraid of what lies below the surface.

However with God’s love, unlike the ocean, we have nothing to fear. Loves warm embrace longs to enfold us, protect us, caress us.

So throw caution to the wind, and dive into the riches that await when we let God love us and lead us to happiness.

Aloha