Seeing God in all things

Is your heart open to receiving God?  Is your mind open to allowing Him to reveal Himself to you?  Are your eyes and ears open to seeing and hearing Him around you?

God is present in all things, I have no doubt about that.  He has revealed Himself to me in so many things, small things on the ground, on my windshield, in a person, in a hug, in a book, and through life of the animals and plants around me.  I have written a lot about seeing God in all things.  I want to share an experience I had where God revealed Himself through the Bible and nature.

As I was looking for something, I ran across something in a journal that I had written during a weekend I spent at a Bed N Breakfast two years ago.  I decided to just sit with my Bible on the porch, read and reflect. I flipped to my favorite Psalm, Psalm 139, read it, placed my Bible down, and asked the Holy Spirit to reveal to me what God wanted me to see.  I never imagined what God had in store.  The pages in my Bible flipped.  I picked it up and read something, jotted it down.  Put the Bible back down and the wind turned the pages again, so I picked it back up and jotted the verses I read.  This went on for quite some time.  The most interesting part of it all was that what I was jotting down was in sync with what I was seeing and hearing around me as I peered in the distance from the view of the porch.  This Bed N Breakfast has become a spiritual encounter for me each time I spend a weekend there.  This is my spot to connect with God through nature.  Through this place and what I have learned over the years from the teachings of St. Ignatius, I find that God reveals Himself to us in so many things throughout our day.  It’s just a matter of opening our minds, heart and eyes.  I want to share what I wrote, a composite of all the verses I read.

Why do I seek You Lord when You are with me.  You sit beside me.  You hold me and comfort me.  You rest Your hand upon me.  From Your presence I cannot flee.  You are all around me.  (Psalm 139:5, 7)  I hear a melody as You whisper to my heart a new song, a song of love.  (Psalm 144:9)  I see the birds of Heaven perched in a tree.  Among the branches, he sings a melody.  I know this is meant for me, to know that You are near, that You are singing to my heart.  Your melody is found in the chimes of the wind as You turn the page of Your Word, speaking to my heart.  You tell me You guard my steps by day and my sleep by night for You never slumber nor sleep.  I find rest in knowing Your hand will guard me from the enemy.  (Psalm 144:4,7)  For You tell me that You are my Father, I am Your daughter.  You are the Rock of my salvation.  (Psalm 89:27)  You fill me with Your mercy as I am poor and needy. (Psalm 109:22)  You give me food for my soul as I marvel in Your wondrous works.  For great are Your works, majestic and glorious. (Psalm 111:2-3)  The trees sparkle like fluttering butterflies as they dance to Your harmony.  The birds are so carefree as they spread their wings and are lifted to the Heavens.  My mind is in awe as I watch the light of Your presence sweep across the grass like a lamp for my feet guiding my path. (Psalm 119:105)  Your hand is my compass as it brushes the grass saying follow me.  The wind is Your messenger guiding my journey, never fleeing and always patient.  Your light is a cloak covering my soul.  The clouds are Your chariot on the wings of the wind lifting my heart and my soul to a place of rest in Your presence. (Psalm 104:1-4)

As the pages were turning in my Bible and I was jotting down verses and taking in everything around me I noticed a few things.  I observed, a bright colorful cardinal perched in a nearby tree, a beautiful coat of red contrasting the leaves of the tree.  I heard songs of the birds as I listened attentively.  I knew this song was for me to hear, to know God was near, present in the melody.

In the distance, I watch as the light and the shadows brushed the meadow.  The winds moved the grass as if God’s hand was gliding over it.  The light moved across the field followed by a shadow, as if the chariot of the clouds was traveling ‘on the wings of the wind.’  The view, the sounds and the verses I read all made sense.  God was speaking to me through the wind.  The Holy Spirit was turning the pages of the Bible and my eyes and ears were drawn to things surrounding me to let me know that this was meant for me to hear and to see, to feel God’s presence, to know He was with me always guiding and protecting me.

The last verses I read as I sat on that porch were:

  • “Teach us to count our days aright that we may gain wisdom of heart,” Psalm 90:12.
  • “Fill us at day break with Your mercy that all our days we may sing for joy,” Psalm 90:14.
  • “If only I had wings like a dove that I might fly away and find rest.  Far away I would flee; I would stay in a desert.  I would soon find a shelter from the raging wind and storm,” Psalm 55:7-9
  • My message to you my friends as I write this is that we never journey alone. God is with us in each moment, in the subtlety of life. Ask Him today to reveal Himself to you. Open your heart, mind, eyes and ears to receive Him. Perhaps in your path, you will see a cross on the sidewalk from the formation of pine needles or the warmth of air will brush your face in a moment of need. In these moments, He is letting you know He’s there.
  • Do you desire holiness?

    Before writing these blogs, I try to seek God’s guidance because He knows this audience better than I do. He knows what that one person needs to read to grow closer to Him. In doing so, I pray about what to write and try to be in tune through out my day on anything God may be directing my focus towards. I do believe this technique is how we should each discern God’s will for us in all that we do.

    Somedays I see, hear or feel nothing that God is placing before me to write about and other days like today I see connections that I know are not coincidences.  This morning, I flipped a devotion on my desk to today’s date – about a week of flipping, because I do not look at it everyday. The devotion was about holiness. Stormie Omartian the author of The Power of a Praying Woman writes, “God has made a way for us to live in holiness. And He is able to keep us Holy. When our heart wants to live in purity and do the right thing, God will keep us from falling into sin. It is only by the grace of God that we can live in holiness, even after we have chosen to do so. That’s because God enables us to do what He asks us to do. But we still need to ask Him to do it.”

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    When I read this, a conversation I had with a beautiful sister in Christ struck me. Just yesterday, I was in a “funk.” I was being the victim. I was needing to vent a little, share my heart a little – just needed a listening being. My friend, whom God has given a gift to nurture others, received my victim mode – for that I am grateful. In the midst of my rambling, I shared with her how I was praying and she made a comment of me being “holy.” I think I had a burst of laughter – thinking to myself, me holy? In fact, I responded, “not really, just found many years ago that my relationship with God is key to life.”

    When I examine myself, my life, there is no way I can see myself as being holy. I strive to do what’s right. I feel I’m grounded in my relationship with God. Yet, I sin, I fall, I complain when things don’t align with me, and I’m selfish. My list goes on and on why I cannot achieve holiness.  The slow learner that I am did not realize that my response stated two things my lack of belief in my ability to be holy and my relationship with God that is key to my holiness.  I have heard and read that anyone can achieve sanctity and that is our primary goal as children of God so why do I not see myself as being holy or capable of holiness?

    I think God has many lessons for us to learn. Those lessons involve His grace so that we can be open. And this is where my lesson on holiness began this morning. When I read this devotion, I realized that holiness is not a perfection. I’m going to falter. I’m going to fill the victim role at times but it’s God’s grace and my desire to receive it that grounds me in holiness, creating the role as victor in my life. It is ‘my relationship with God’ that brings holiness upon me, not my faults.

    Friends, holiness is our strive to see, hear and follow God’s will for us. It is the grace He gives us to do what’s right. It is seeking Him in prayer and the Sacraments to receive this grace freely offered to us. It is in this grace that we receive all we need to align with His will, making it easier to avoid temptations of sin and be righteous. It is here that we are not the victim but the victor and arise to holiness.

    Do you desire holiness? Do you embrace your relationship with God above all things? Are you open to hearing Him throughout your day so that your will aligns with His? My dear friends, I think this is our journey to holiness.

     

     

    Journey through the desert

    Take a journey with me. Let’s walk along a path that seems to have no foot steps in front of us. Perhaps there have never been any or perhaps they have been covered up by the sands.

    There is nothing living among the path we walk, everything appears to lack life. As we walk, let’s look at the moments in our journey that did not bring life into us. Look at them closely. Is there anything you can learn from those moments that will breathe life in you today? Something present that will help you with a trial, tribulation or a feeling of unrest?

    Walk along this desert floor and feel the heat of each of these moments. Feel the dryness of your faith. Do you thirst for God as you trodden this warm, sand filled land? Do you see a mirage of your Heavenly Father before you inviting you to sift through the sands of the desert in your life, to draw closer to Him by offering these feelings to Him, bringing life upon you? Or do you see a mirage of something that isn’t from God, tempting you to turn back and dwell in the journey behind you suffering death within, clouding your vision to move forward – to see God in the moments of hurt and pain? Which mirage will you turn to? Which one draws you near?

    You continue to walk along this journey and notice above your head there appears to be a dove. He flys just in front of you. You have to glance upward to see him. You wonder what is a dove doing in the middle of the desert. Yet you feel an exuberant amount of peace. Could it be the dove’s presence? Can you feel his guidance along your path? Follow him. See where he takes you.

    It looks like he is guiding you to a spring ahead? It appears to be a spring of life giving water. Is it another mirage tempting you? Or is it a spring from your Heavenly Father inviting you to dive in His love, accept the grace He has given you? Will you drink from it? Will you dive in? Or will you pass it by because your vision is cloudy and the reality of the spring has been covered up by your conscience?

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    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    It is your choice to drink from the spring of life to come to the table and receive the Eucharist, the life giving body and blood of Christ. It is your choice to dive into the moments of desolation, the moments when God feels distant and search for His presence, His invitation. It is your choice to allow Him to bring life into your being or remain in the desert of death. Which choice will you make today? God will draw close to you in the desert filling you with a spring of life.

    How do you view God?

    “He will shelter you with his pinions, and under his wings you may take refuge; his faithfulness is a protecting shield.” Psalm 91:4

    How do you view God?  Is He a loving and compassionate God?  Or a tyrant with boundaries?  Does He offer you safety and comfort or does He abandon you?

    I think throughout our life our vision of God may change depending on the stage we are in, our particular season. It’s quite interesting because God is never changing. It’s difficult for our minds to grasp that because we relate God to our human relationships. These change, sometimes daily, and so we think God’s relationship with us also changes.

    I’ve struggled a lot with how I see God. In my feeble mind, I often viewed God as a task master and if I didn’t follow the rules or the task, he would reign down a judgement of dissatisfaction.

    My dad was very strict on me as a child. I was a Navy brat for some time. If I didn’t follow the rules, there were consequences. I also don’t recall being very close to my dad as a child. He was absent a lot in my life as I was growing up, some because of work and other times due to circumstances between him and my mom. As I grew into a young adult, my relationship with my dad was very strained, resulting in feelings of dissatisfaction and judgment in my relationship with my dad.

    I share this because I think this has had a huge impact on who God was to me. People in our lives, especially our male relationships, tend to be our connection on how we envision God. If those relationships are not so good, we can have a very despairing vision of who God is for us. Today, my relationship with my dad is much better and my vision of God is morphing into a God of comfort and protection, a God who has all the best intentions for me because of His enormous love for me.

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    Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

    I find nature can teach us so much of who God is. Yesterday, as I was walking around the pond at work, I noticed 2 ducks. At first, I did not see the very tiny ducklings nearby. These ducklings were a short distance away from the adult ducks, assuming the parents. When they saw me nearby, they all waddled to the parents, hovering under and around. This painted a perfect picture of how God provides refuge to us as King David states in Psalm 91, “He will shelter you with His pinions and under His wings you may take refuge”. As I watched, my heart filled with completely peace and love because God had just revealed to me exactly how He protects me, provides me shelter and loves me each day of my life.

    What have you seen lately that has revealed God’s protection, comfort, love and compassion? If you open your eyes and your heart, He will uncover who He is for you through everything around you. Pay attention to nature, you never know what He will show you.

    Are you seeking spiritual freedom?

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    Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Pexels.com

    Have you been exploring your spiritual journey internally? Uncovering roots of the disorders in your external self?

    When I began my spiritual journey, like most, I was seeking God to help me with things in my life that were on the surface, my external self. At the time, I didn’t see this as being an easy journey, very difficult in fact. As I continue to grow after scratching the surface of my life challenges, I am diving internally and uncovering the roots of the external feelings that seem to continue to circle me and feed sin and pain in my life. Walking my internal feelings, the ones I buried deep within that stir up the feelings externally, is ten times more challenging than dealing with the emotions and circumstance on the surface. I think that’s why there are psychologists and therapists.

    To better understand your external and internal feelings envision an iceberg. If you are in an industry that focuses on safety, you are very familiar with the iceberg analogy.  Above the surface there is a narrow triangle and all this is what you see externally and deal with daily. Below the surface lies the base of the iceberg, the internal emotions and feelings that no one can see not even you that are the base of all the things on the surface.

    I think that these things externally that continue to show up in your life through confession or repeat offenders in every struggle you deal with in life is God inviting you to take a deeper look, to begin discerning the root of these disorders.  For God to transform you completely through Christ within you, you have to look at the internal life and uncover the source of the sins and the pain on the surface.

    Do you see patterns of sin in your life or patterns in the pain you feel or the struggles you deal with routinely?  Name these disorders and ask God to help release you from them.  Let Him help you unpack them and reveal the roots to you. Just like weeding your garden, you have to get to the root of the problem to fully remove it from the fruitful garden within you. You can’t just pull the top of the weed and expect it to be gone from your garden, you have to pull it from the root.  The same is true with dealing with things on the surface in your life. If you don’t search internally and determine where the sin and pain are coming from, they will continue to surface in the things in your life and you will not have spiritual freedom.

    These disorders come in many packages, wrapped with various layers from your life. They affect our relationships with others, ourselves and God.

    Are you repeatedly saying things to a loved one out of jealousy that affects your relationship?  If you peer within, you may uncover that throughout your childhood and adulthood that you are afraid of not being loved because you have always had to compete for love in key relationships.

    Do you find yourself always afraid and passing up opportunities that you feel God is asking you to step out of your comfort zone and do? Look deep and you may realize that in your childhood, when you stepped out of your comfort zone, you were made fun of or rejected.

    Do you find yourself confessing often your anger towards those you love? Search your inner core and you may discover feelings of hurt from emotional, physical or sexual abuse as a child or an adult that you thought you dealt with on the surface but the residual of this anger, the roots are still dug within.

    I have learned through my walk on my own spiritual journey that looking within, although challenging, uncovers things that are binding me to sin and pain.  As I discover and begin to deal with the internal sources, I begin to reach a freedom, to unravel the chains binding me.

    I sort of see it as God purifying me into a gem. Just like purifying gold, I am purified. He helps me to bring the impurities to the surface to learn from them and seek Him at a deeper level in removing the impurities from within so that my relationship with Him and myself is as pure as a precious metal.

    Are you seeking spiritual freedom? Have you searched within to discover the internal disorders that are roots to those disorders that are external?

    Take the challenge, search your internal being and discover what God is inviting you to pay attention to and learn from that has been tucked away in a little crevice within.

    The Battle Against Fear

    What lies have you been told today?  Have you been fed the lies of fear?  Are you trapped in his cage, held captive and breathless by his hold on you?

    Are you afraid to step out of your comfort zone and do what you are being called to do?  Are you afraid of what tomorrow may bring, a doctor’s appointment, financial burdens, your children’s safety?

    Fear is one of those lies that the enemy plants within you to draw you from the comfort of God’s love.  It is the root of so many other lies.  It is a little seed that produces many little weeds within you and it tries to strangle the seed of love and trust that God has planted within you.  It binds you and sucks the life out of truth so that you believe the lies it tells you.

    Don’t get me wrong, some fear is necessary and a gift from God to be able to react to a situation of danger for survival. This is realized fear. If you come upon a poisonous snake on your walk, fear kicks in and tells your body you need to do something to defend yourself. It is crucial that you react to that instinct and do what is necessary to stay out of harms way of the snakes venom.

    On the other side of the coin, fear shows up in your life as unrealized fear or imagined fear. This is the lies that the enemy burdens you with. It’s the message that tells you to not speak about your faith in fear of offending someone. It’s the undue stress and worry you put on yourself anticipating bad news from your doctor, predicting a lay off from your job, imagining your child being hurt when you are not there to protect them.

    Imagined fear is the opposite of trust in God. It is a reliance on yourself and the world and not God. This is exactly where the enemy wants you to be. It strips you of the freedom and joy that is only found in relying on God’s will.

    Fear is a major struggle for me. It is the one thing that binds me in so many areas and prevents me from the freedom of joy and happiness found in trusting God and His will in my life. Many days, I want to place my children in a bubble to ensure they won’t be hurt. I’m always questioning my role as a mother in fear of losing my relationship with my children. I doubt my decisions in my role as a leader and fear I’m not doing what’s best for those I lead and will someday not have financial means to support my children. I am afraid of people who have had control over me and how they may still be able to impact my life. I find myself often questioning things that drop me in the depths of the ocean, out of my comfort zone, where I have to swim or drown. My list goes on and on. At the end of the day, these are all imagined fears. They are in my head, right where the enemy wants them.

    When I don’t move out of my comfort zone in fear of the unknown, I may miss an opportunity God has in store for me that will bring great joy in my life. When I am afraid of what others can do to me, I am allowing them to steal my peace as I let them occupy my mind. When I lead and am afraid of not making the right choices for my group, I constrain the opportunities for them and myself. When I question how I’m raising my children, I may choose to do the wrong thing that will affect their growth and relationships with God and others.

    I wonder how many opportunities I lost that God was calling me to; or how much time of joy and happiness I lost while I was imprisoned by fear of circumstance that “could be”.

    “Fear, he is a liar

    He will take your breath

    Stop you in your steps

    Fear he is a liar

    He will rob your rest

    Steal your happiness

    Cast your fear in the fire

    ‘Cause fear he is a liar”

    Lyrics by Zach Williams “Fear is a Liar”

    The lies fear implants constrains us from doing the will of God, from moving forward and making choices that align with God. It places us in a mindful box that sits and recycles imagined scenarios that threaten our emotional or physical sense, making him our God.

    When I sense fear is taking control, the weeds are growing to a noxious level, I have to sit in the Word of God and pray. We are on a battle field my dear friends and fear is one of the leaders on the opposing side. Our greatest defense is the weapons God graciously gives us

    • His Word
    • Prayer

    Both of these cover you in love and trust, knowing that His will prevails and it is the best outcome for you. Whenever fear begins to take over the garden God planted in you, tend it and remove the weeds with the power of prayer and the Word of God. Place your trust in what He tells you.

    Are you ready to defend the truth of God’s love and His will in your life? Are you ready to kick out fear in the beautiful garden within you and rejoice in the freedom of God’s will? Start by praying – God’s will be done.

    Jesus I trust in You!

    The Great Ascent

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    Imagine, you are walking in a nearby field at the base of a mountain.  You marvel at the height of the mountain.  Each day, you feel invited to draw closer to the mountain.  One day, you begin to walk and realize you are ascending up the mountain.  As you continue the journey, you come across steep rocks in the path and you think to yourself, there is no way I can go any further.  I’ll have to turn back and head back to the field.  As you begin to turn around, you feel something tugging at you but you don’t see anything there.  You pause for a second and then begin to move downward and then you notice someone approaching you.  He is carrying a shepherds staff.  You are a little startled.  You know that you didn’t see anyone a second ago and now here is a person, a shepherd with no sheep in site.  As he draws nearer, you begin to feel something sweep over you, strength and courage.  He stands beside you and looks at the path ahead.  He nods in agreement on how steep the rocks look and he tells you give it a shot that he is right there beside you.  You begin to climb and what seemed impossible, now seems doable.  You are astonished.  Once you have reached the other side of the rocks, you look back and no longer see the shepherd.  You tell yourself, I thought he would be right beside me.  It looks like he left.  Before persisting onward, you notice 3 small rocks that look unusual.  You take the 3 rocks and stack them at the location you have just conquered over the steep rocks.

    Then, you continue to pursue the path laid before you.  As you proceed up the mountain, you reach a place that has two paths.  One of the paths looks easy and wider than the other.  The more narrow path appears to be steeper, has very rugged terrain, and gives you a sense that you could fall below with just the wrong footing.  You stop and analyze both paths, thinking of all the consequences that could possible happen on either path.  As you begin to walk towards the path that appears wider and easier, a boulder falls and blocks the path.  You again assess the situation and with fear, you want to turn around and return back to the field.  Just then, you see the shepherd again.  He doesn’t say a word as he stands beside you.  You then begin to journey on the narrow path.  You notice this time he is behind you as your foot slips and dust and rocks fall below.  Your heart is beating very fast with fear of falling.  Suddenly a calmness sweeps over you and you feel strengthened to move forward ascending the mountain.  As the narrow path comes to an end and it opens  up again, you notice the shepherd is no longer behind you and there are 3 small stones before you.  You stack these stones as you did before and press on.

    You are beginning to feel hungry and thirsty.  Just then you notice a spring and some wild berries.  You stop to eat and drink from the spring.  You sit a while to rest as you delight in the view along the bank of the spring.  There are vibrant, colorful flowers and greenery that you have never seen before.  It looks like a painting hung in an art gallery.  Just as you are about to get up and restart the journey, the clouds roll in and a storm begins to cover the sky.  No place to run and no place to hide, you wonder what you are going to do as the rain begins to pour.  A storm on a mountain can’t be a good thing.  As the lightening begins to strike, towards the eastern side of the path, you notice the shepherd and what appears to look like a small crevice, like a cave that could provide shelter from the storm.  He signals for you to join him.  You sit in this small space for shelter.  Your clothes are wet and you begin to shiver.  You feel an embrace and realize the shepherd is holding you and you begin to feel warm and comforted.

    Once the storm has passed, you look around and the shepherd is gone yet again and you see 3 small stones again and begin to ponder. Each instance you began to feel afraid, resistant, weak, or faced with adversity along this path, you saw this shepherd and found 3 small stones.  Who could this be? And why 3 small stones?

    You walk further up the mountain and as you ascend, you can sense a newness, a freshness in the air.  Your shoulders seem lighter, your mind feels clearer and you sense freedom.  You feel there are no longer things binding you to the field, to the world.  You spin around with your hands in the air, taking in this new found freedom, resting in it.

    At that moment, you realize that each time you were afraid, you met adversity, weakness, and resistance, the shepherd was guarding you, his sheep.  When you were afraid to go on when you thought you couldn’t take on the task at hand, he helped you and showed you it was possible with his help. When you were faced with 2 directions to discern in life, a difficult path and easy one, he guided your decision and walked with you along the difficult path. When you were hungry and thirsty, he provided your nourishment. When the storms covered your life, he gave you shelter in his arms, comforting you until it blew over. He was guiding you and as you pushed pass each of these instances you stacked remembrance stones to signify the areas in your life where you were faced with challenges and Jesus carried you, guided you, nourished you, comforted you, gave you shelter.  At the top of this mountain you just ascended, you are rejoicing in the freedom that he has given you through your trust in his will in your life as you prepare for eternity in his glory.

    Can you feel the freedom? If not, have you let go of your own will and fears and allowed him to carry you, nourish you, and guide you as you ascend to holiness, to sainthood?