Where do you encounter God?

green mountain near river under cloudy sky during daytime
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Where do you encounter God?  Do you just encounter Him in your prayer time?  Or do you see Him in everything around you?

Do you see Him in the strength of the rocks, the sturdiness and height of a pine tree, the depths of the ocean, in a smile or in the peace of a loved one as their earthly bodies begin to fade from this temporary home?  Do you hear Him in the songs of the birds, the sound of the water falling, in the laughter of a child, the kindness spoken through a stranger or words you read in a book?  Do you feel Him in the caress of a loved one, through the touch of the wind or the warmth of the sun?  Do you know His presence is with you when you smell the scents of the wild flowers or the newness of spring after fresh falling rain?  Do you taste His sweetness in the most delighted pastry or His passion in the bitterness of a glass of wine?

Are you aware of His presence through each of your senses?  Everything around you, within you, that is a part of you encounters the presence of God.  Are you too distracted to recognize Him in the smallest detail surrounding you?

I’ve read that when you lose one of your senses, the brain rewires and  enhances other senses.  Over a year ago, I began to notice that I was losing my hearing.  There were some low tones that I absolutely could not hear.  I love nature and I love walking or sitting near running water from a fall, a fountain or just across a bed of rocks.  I also love to sit and listen to the birds.  I find so much peace and rest in God’s presence when I am outdoors tuned into the sounds of nature.  Losing my hearing was a bit scary and losing this piece of God’s presence in my life was just as bothersome.

In the spring of last year, after visiting my ENT, I was diagnosed with a genetic hearing disorder.  My options were surgery that had a 1% chance of total hearing loss or hearing aids the rest of my life.  After consulting with the surgeon, I decided to have the surgery.  I remember contemplating a bad day in surgery, resulting in losing my hearing.  The more I thought about it and the more I prayed about it, I began to feel at peace that if I lost my hearing perhaps God just wanted me to tune my other senses and see His presence through my sight, taste, touch and smell.

Through this experience and others in my life, I am realizing in this journey with God I can see, hear, taste, feel and smell His presence all day and all around me.  And so can you – all it takes is to awaken your senses and awareness.

animal beautiful biology bloom

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In nature, you can see the possibilities and strength of God by observing the strength of the rocks and the height of the pine trees.  You can discover how intricate and special you are by observing the details of a flower, a leaf, or a butterfly.  You can watch the bees as they move from flower to flower and only pollinate the flowers they are intended to and recognize you have a unique purpose just as these bees do.  You can taste of His passion each time you consume the Eucharist and are transformed through Him.  You can feel the embrace of His love through the hug of a child or a dear friend.  As the wind blows across your face, you can feel His breath, breathe life into your being.

Today, I challenge you to pay attention to the smallest of details and see God revealing Himself in some way to you in your unique life as you journey closer to Him in this temporary home.

An Intimate Relationship With Jesus

“Let me caress your soul. Let me soothe its wounds… Have great confidence in me…, Have a great love for me. See here, I will feed you from my own hands and let you drink from the inside of my heart, like a little white dove. There I will give you even more, more love… I will feed you with my substance…because I am yours… because I was born to come near to you… because I died so that even in eternity you would be all mine.”  Holy Hours, Concepcion Cabrera de Armida

What if Jesus spoke these words to you? What if he is speaking to you now but your mind is too busy to hear him? What kind of emotions would it stir? How would you feel? Let your walls down, breathe in and out and reread the quote above from Holy Hours and hear Jesus speaking these words to you.

Open your mind and let him feed your soul. Open your heart and let him pour his heart into yours. Do you feel the immensity of life bursting from your soul? Is your heart burning with a fiery love for him?

Now imagine his body before you – in the tabernacle, the monstrance, the host raised before you. Do you want to take part? Do you want to be fed?

He says “this is my body… this is my blood” (Matthew 26:26-28) and if you eat it and drink of it, you will have eternal life (John 6:54).

He is yours and you are his. Let him caress you, hold you close and love you. Take part in this intimate relationship.

Now that you have imagined, evaluate your relationships in your life.  Do they resemble this intimate love, intimate relationship?

This past week while I was on vacation, there was a couple in line behind me.  Not intending to listen to their conversation, I overheard something that was very familiar and close to my heart.  The wife, in a very frustrated, upset tone, made a comment to her husband about how he was looking at other women while she was next to him.

I mention this story because this is a result of a relationship that lacks the intimacy of Christ’s love.  If we are fed by Christ, then we would not desire this self gratification of sexual desire or lust.  He would guide us in what true love, true sacrifice of self, true connection of heart and soul is like as we embark in intimate relationships with the opposite sex.  In knowing this truth of sacrificing love, true intimacy and beauty of life, the world would have less failed marriages.

Ladies, if you are not married, date Jesus before you embark on a serious relationship.  If you are married, hopefully your spouse doesn’t have a problem with you dating Jesus together to improve the intimacy and selfless love of each other.  Feel what true intimacy feels like.  Experience the meaning of self sacrificing love.  Then model this love and if you are not married search for it to be reciprocated.  If you find it, you have met your soul mate, the one intended for you by God.

Be fed by the body of Christ and satisfy your thirst from the depths of his heart.  Let him caress you and set you on fire, bringing you life through all eternity.

No time to pray? Discover an endless block of prayer.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31

Do you struggle with praying? May be you don’t quite know how to pray? Or perhaps, you feel you don’t have time to pray?

I have struggled with prayer often over the last few years. I use to have what I thought was a pretty solid prayer life, very consistent. I woke up at 4:30 in the morning, read a few verses from the Bible or a spiritual piece of work. Then, I would meditate on that and how it related to my life, journaling my thoughts. Afterwards, I would pray my intentions. I also would take my lunch break in the chapel to just sit with Jesus and write my thoughts as they came to me or just be still. I enjoyed these blocks of time I set aside each morning and at lunch.

Today, I struggle with the time to set aside these blocks for my prayer life. My schedule with my children has become busier and because of it I beat myself up constantly and feel like I’m disappointing God in some way by not giving Him this time I use to by allowing the busyness of life to fill this time that was His.

I have a very wise spiritual director, who is probably reading this and I just may get kudos at our next meeting, not sure it works that way but worth a try.

She is wise because she does a great job listening to the Holy Spirit as she provides counsel to me. She is use to hearing my struggles with my prayer life.  She once told me or perhaps I should say often reminds me that my life is a prayer. She told me that spending quality time with my girls is a form of prayer. Kind of sounded weird at first until I realized the meaning of 1 Corinthians 10:31.

As long as you do everything for the glory of God you are “pray[ing] without ceasing” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. Sure it’s nice to be able to set aside time blocks for God, to sit still with Him, to give Him 100% of your attention; but He doesn’t love you less for not doing so consistently all the time. He wants you to glorify Him in all things and by doing so He is fulfilling His will in you and this is the greatest form of prayer.

Everyone has had to ask for permission to do something when they were growing up.  Do the same thing with God.  Approach Him and ask Him for guidance and direction about tasks and decisions so that you know that your decisions and actions will glorify Him. Thank Him throughout your day as you spend time with your children, your spouse, grandchildren, friends, mother or father. Thank Him for the breath He gives you when you wake in the morning.  Each is a form of prayer as you approach your Heavenly Father in thanksgiving and guidance, glorifying Him in all that you do.

By seeking His guidance and thanking Him as you spend quality time in your relationships, you will conform to His will and your prayer will be unceasing and as endless as the horizon. What a beautiful landscape you will paint with His hands guiding you in all that you do as you discover an endless block of prayer.

Where is your dependence?

beautiful bloom blooming blossom
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“If God so clothes the grass in the field that grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you.” Luke 12:28

Have you walked through a field of wildflowers lately? Ever just sit where you are surrounded by wildflowers?

While you sit do you watch God’s presence among the field? What about the marvel of colors surrounding your eyes, how God clothes the field with beauty?

As you walk towards the field, notice the magnificent painting in front of you. Only the hands of your Heavenly Father could paint such intimate detail of color. As you walk into the field, touch the flowers as you walk through them. Feel the texture and smell the fragrance. Take a seat and watch the closest flower to your body. Do you see how it goes wherever God tells it with the movement of the wind? As the wind stands still, it rest in the stillness of God, waiting for Him to direct its next movement or perhaps its next visit from a bee collecting its nectar. The flower doesn’t struggle with life, yet it moves with life. It doesn’t anticipate the next moment or worry about its next nourishment. It listens and waits for Its creator to direct what’s in store for it. Watch as it stands there, reflecting the beauty of its maker.

Jesus tells us that we should be like the wildflower, not anxious and independent, but trusting and dependent on God. He says the flowers do not “toil or spin”, and they are clothed more beautiful than the splendor of Solomon.

Where is your dependence? On yourself or God? Why do you struggle and busy yourself? Why do you worry about things that you have no control of, yet are in total control of God? I find the times I pray about things I begin to worry about are times I relax and enjoy the most. Next time, you begin to worry about something, take a moment and pray about that which is worrying you. Ask God to give you rest and take your worries away so that you may have peace and enjoyment of the moment He has placed before you.

Not good enough syndrome

“You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works!”  Psalm 139:13-14

cave near body of water at sunset
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Do you struggle with self worth?  Do you tell yourself you aren’t good enough?  May be you tell yourself you aren’t pretty enough, smart enough, strong enough, or worthy enough?

Many of us suffer from the “not good enough” syndrome.  In most cases, we don’t see our worth and value but everyone around us does.

Were you ever caught off guard when someone told you that you had a beautiful smile and were beautiful?  May be someone complimented you on a project you completed that you didn’t think was done well?  May be in your weakness, someone saw your strength and endurance prevail and you were awestruck by their comment on how strong you are?

Sadly, we are the hardest on ourselves.  We are often our own worst enemy.  We find it hard to love ourselves, feel deserving of love, and worthy.  Yet our hearts desire love.  We were made for love, made to receive and to give love.  Why is it so difficult to love ourselves?  Why is it difficult to see ourselves as God sees us, “wonderfully made”?

I have suffered greatly with self worth and acceptance.  Growing up, I had low self esteem.  I would rather be hidden, blended into the background, than draw attention to myself.  My family often told me I was pretty.  I never believed them.  I didn’t feel pretty.  I didn’t think I was.  I just thought they told me that because they were my family.  As I became an adult, this low self esteem expanded like a marshmallow in a vacuum chamber.  If you haven’t seen a marshmallow in a vacuum chamber, as you pull vacuum on the chamber, the air bubbles trapped in the marshmallow have a higher pressure than the surrounding chamber and the pressure of the air causes the marshmallow to expand and it gets really big.  This expansion of low self esteem became very evident in my marriage.

In my marriage, my self worth was the size of a tiny seed.  I never felt beautiful, never felt I could do anything right. It wasn’t until after my separation that I began to find myself and my self worth. It was my faith that pointed me in the right direction, the direction to my heart, centered on a God who loves me.

I won’t say that I still don’t go back to the “not good enough” syndrome, because I do. Today, that often hits me when it come to my role as a mother and sometimes even the things I think God is calling me to do. Fear is not good enough’s best friend. Both keep you from being the person God created you to be. Both place you in a cave and fill your mind with lies.

Are you going to let the lies convince you, you aren’t good enough? Are you going to turn off the vacuum chamber and shrink the marshmallow called “not good enough” into a small speck? Are you going to tell yourself, you are “wonderfully made”? And lastly, are you going to thank God for the wonderful work you are?

What walls obstruct your view of God?

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you…. Because you are precious in my eyes and honored, and I love you…. Fear not, for I am with you;”. Isaiah 43:1-7

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Who is God for you? How does God see you? Is God a loving, tender and forgiving Father? Or is He a tyrant, task master, and disciplining Father? Do you think God sees you as a beautiful child of His, wonderfully made, faults and all? Or do you think God sees you as a constant screw up, someone He is ashamed to call His?

Our experiences in earthly relationships sometimes dictate who God is to us and how we think God sees us. If you have bad experiences with earthly relationships, it can have a negative impact on your relationship with God. You may build walls that prevent you from growing in a deeper, more intimate, loving relationship with Him. You may have walls of judgement, lack of trust, inability to feel loved, shame, failure and the list goes on. Each of these separates your ability to experience the greatest love of your Heavenly Father.

Walk through this journey with me. Each day, you get up, go to work or may be you stay at home doing daily tasks.  Your day ends, you go home, rest and get up the next day and do everything over again.  Simple, nothing extraordinary or bad happens and life goes on.  One day, you wake up and the day is different, life suddenly becomes complicated and it feels like you are caught in a raging river and are drowning.  You reach up and feel a hand holding on to you.  It is God holding you because He will not allow you to be “swept away”.  As your life spins out of control, this trial you are suffering through feels like you are being consumed by a blazing fire.  Suddenly, you feel an immense feeling of peace, a warmth in your heart you never have felt before.  As you suffer in this heated moment, you are being purified just as the impurities of gold are separated from its surface in extremely hot temperatures.  God is purifying you into the precious gem he formed you to be and you can feel the transformation.

As you are emerging from this fire, He speaks ever so gently to your heart telling you what you mean to Him. He says you have been redeemed. So all the sin and shame you feel, is not the judgement He passes on to you. When you screw up, He wants you to let Him embrace you tightly with His loving forgiveness, not punish you for your wrong doing. When you didn’t hear Him call you, He wants to continue to direct you towards His calling by sending you His voice in another or direct you by means of another way that you can hear Him.

He wants you to know that you are precious in His eyes and He loves you. If you have been in unloving relationships or an unloving family, you may have trouble with accepting and receiving this unconditional love from God.  Over time, you built walls that place limits on God’s love, preventing you from seeing Him as a loving Father or being able to receive His love for lack of loving yourself yet He looks at you and sees a gem within you, behind the walls you have created.

So how do you remove these walls that are invading your view of who God is and how he sees you, so you can experience His unconditional love and mercy, see Him as the loving and forgiving Father? How do you see yourself through His eyes, see how beautiful and precious you are to Him?  Perhaps it starts with uncovering the cause of the wall, loving and forgiving yourself, loving and forgiving others, and looking to God like a little child. Pick up your sledge hammer, His Word and prayer, and destroy these walls.  Open your arms and heart and receive His love, see yourself as He sees you – the most beautiful pearl shining before His eyes.  Let His hands lead you through the waters and through the fire, accepting His forgiveness and knowing He is always there giving you love and mercy.  He is not dictating, judging, and punishing you for who you should be and are not, for what you should do and have not.  He is embracing you for who you are, even in your weakest, most sinful moments.

Spiritual Food

You water the mountains from your chambers; from the fruit of your labor the earth abounds.  You make the grass grow for the cattle and plants for people’s work to bring forth food from the earth, wine to gladden their hearts, oil to make their faces shine, and bread to sustain the human heart.” Psalm 104:13-15

As I listen to the rain pour outside my window, I think about all that has poured into my life, just as God waters the mountains from His chambers.  Although my spiritual journey began when I was younger, it wasn’t until  several years ago it was truly awakened.  The one thing that fueled my spiritual awakening was the Eucharist, “the bread to sustain the human heart”.

When I was a child, my parents did not take me to church regularly.  I went to various denominations, whatever church invited me and my siblings to go to, we went.  I didn’t know anything about the Eucharist as a child.  I do recall people going up to the alter in a line, including my parents, when we attended a baptism at a Catholic church.  I had no clue what it was but even then I believe I was being drawn to the Eucharist.  Although I did not know what all this was or meant, I felt like something was missing when I went to church.  I later did learn about the Eucharist when I attended RCIA at a local Catholic church but I still did not really know what it truly meant, especially to me in my spiritual journey.

It wasn’t until several years ago that the realization of the Eucharist and it’s impact on my faith journey bore fruit, pouring into my very being an abundance of grace.  When I truly recognized Jesus in the Eucharist, I longed for it.  My desire for the Eucharist was immense.  It became the spiritual food that fed me.  It strengthened my desire to read and understand the Bible.  It helped me to endure the heaviest cross I’ve had to carry.  It made forgiving easier and loving even easier.  I yearned to sit in the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist.  It was there that I recognized the Spirit and could hear Him speak to me.  I took refuge in His presence and adorned all He has sacrificed for me.  I embraced His love for me and learned to love myself and discover my worth in His eyes.  Just as God watered the mountains to bear fruit on the earth and sustain life, He poured out life into my heart and my soul through the ultimate food on earth, His son – present in the Eucharist.

After communion one day, my daughter asked me why so many people cry after they receive communion.  I smiled, I’m often one of those people, and told her that perhaps they are thanking Jesus for His sacrifice for them and the love He gives through the Eucharist.  For me this emotional flood gate is knowing what the Eucharist truly is, not a symbol, but the true presence of Christ, that pours into my heart.  It is knowing that at each Eucharistic celebration He is being sacrificed as I also sacrifice myself by releasing my will into His as He becomes present within me, consuming me.

Are you being consumed by Jesus?  Are you being spiritually fed, sustaining your heart?  Are you embracing Jesus as He pours out to you in the Eucharist?  Is He bearing fruit in your life through the sacrament of the Eucharist?