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.

     

     

    Are the small sins devouring you?

    “Confession is like a bridle that keeps the soul which reflects on it from committing sin, but anything left unconfessed we continue to do without fear as if in the dark.”

    –Saint John Climacus

    I have been observing this momma duck and her ducklings for about a week or so around the pond at work during my morning walk. Yesterday, as I walked around and noticed the mother duck, I only saw one duckling nestled under her wing. About a week ago, there were around 13.

    As I ponder the fact that some other animal had been lurking around and devouring these poor little ducklings for a nice meal, I  couldn’t help but think about how often in my own life the enemy of my soul lurks around waiting to devour me. Ever so sneaking, he preys upon me. He does it in little things – mostly in the small sins I commit and tuck away.  And so often the impact is to my family and friends.

    Do you often feel like you are prey to darkness? Have you hidden away small sins or may be big sins deep within?  Do you ever feel like these small sins are consuming little bits of you?

    Like many, I struggle with ongoing sins, those I commit over and over again.  They come in various sizes and degrees. Perhaps you struggle with some of these same things.

    Anger

    All the enemy has to do sometimes is just strike at my heal and cause something to not go my way or as I expected.  I become frustrated and say words that I never meant to say but just rolled off my tongue.  How many friendships have ended because of that very thing?  How many family relationships become strained because of the slaying of the tongue in anger?

    Jealousy

    Jealousy is such a lovely sin because it’s one that springs most often from a feeling of not being loved.  No matter what our brains know and understand about one’s love for us, the enemy preys on our heart, our emotions and tells us that the other person doesn’t love us or love us as much as someone or something else and our friend jealousy strikes.

    Pride

    This one is a definite struggle.  Who doesn’t want to accept a pat on the back and think they are the best?  Who doesn’t want everyone to know that they are good at something?  Accepting a pat on the back is not bad but the enemy very slippery will come on in and enlarge that pat on the back into the sin of pride.  Have you had a friendship that was strained because you were overly proud of your capability and squashed their ability?

    Procrastination

    I think, often, procrastination affects us when we ignore God and His will for us.  When you have the gut wrenching desire to go help at a food pantry, a shelter, or join a ministry and you put it on the back burner, telling yourself, “I’ll do it later when I have more time.”  Perhaps at that very moment you were intended to be at that place to fulfill God’s plan in you or someone else’s life.  How many opportunities have you passed up that God was calling you to because you procrastinated?

    Gossip

    I don’t think anyone does this, right? Perhaps this is one that most people struggle with over and over again.  I use to work with a coworker that use to start off her gossip conversations with “I mean this in a Christian way, but …..”  It baffled me.  How in the world can you put Christ’s name in a conversation where you are going to talk about or judge someone?  Gossip is the double sworded tongue.  The enemy comes in and he gives you a sense that you will feel better about yourself if you share things about another.  In other scenarios, he tells you that you are helping someone by sharing something they confided in you with another.  A chain reaction kicks into play – very quickly.  How many relationships have been ruined over gossip?  How many stories have been misconstrued over gossip?

    Lying

    This is one I love. My girls and I often get in very good debates on the existence of a “good lie”. Sure there are lies that are told for very good intentions, such as keeping a surprise. Our debate normally is about a “good lie” or “the white lie” that it is still a lie no matter how you slice it. If we get in the habit of justifying a lie as a “good lie”, then we are being the judge of what is sin and what is not. We are essentially playing God.

    Of course there are more little sins than what I mentioned above but these are probably the more common ones that are repeat offenders for most. In each of these, I think the enemy finds a little crack, perhaps our weakness, and strikes.

    After the enemy preys on us and devours a small piece within us, he falls to the floor giggling with laughter because he has defeated the light God places within us and sheds darkness upon it.  My girls watch the series “Once Upon a Time”.  It’s a very twisted version of the fairy tales most of us grew up reading.  I find it quite interesting that when a good person does something that is sinful, their heart darkens and they become an antagonist in the story line.  I kind of view that same analogy with our own battle with sin.  When we allow these small sins to devour us internally little by little, we are allowing it to spread darkness within us.

    So how do you get rid of it?  How do you illuminate the dark areas of sin in your life?  You could repair some of the damage by doing good deeds and works.  But that doesn’t repair your soul, it helps to repair the relationships and connectivity of your sin to the world, which is called penance.  It is imperative that you go to confession often, seeking forgiveness for all sins, especially the smallest sins that are tucked away in darkness.  It is in this very Sacrament that God’s love, mercy and compassion fills the dark crevices within you, illuminating you with His very light.

    Dig deep within and uncover those small sins tucked away and go to confession.  Jesus defeated the enemy on the cross and offers you this forgiveness to defeat the enemy so that he does not devour you, separating you from the grace God offers you every microsecond of the day.

    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!

    Thief of JOY

    padlock-lock-chain-key-39624.jpeg“The joyfulness of the heart is the life of a man, and a never-failing treasure of holiness, and the joy of a man is length of life” (Sir. 30:23)

    Have you been robbed lately? Not of material things, but have you been robbed by the thief of JOY?

    How many of you have an alarm system on your homes? Savings account to secure your finances? Lock your cars when you go into the grocery store?

    We lock up and secure the things we value in our lives, our possessions. Yet one of our greatest treasures that is freely given us we hardly ever secure, our JOY. We allow the enemy to step right up and steal our JOY with ease.

    Perhaps, someone cut you off in traffic and you said a few choice words. A friend may have made a hurtful comment to you and you wept. Your toddler spilt milk everywhere making you late for work. You were excited about an idea for a project and your boss didn’t like it. There are so many scenarios throughout our day that can take our smile and turn it upside down. It’s amazing how instantaneous it can be, how easy the enemy takes our gift and chunks it in the trash.

    I remember years ago, I had put a lot of thought into a gift for my husband at the time for our anniversary. I had bought him a book and a ring with a scripture verse inscribed on the inside of the band. Both had a significant value in my eyes and a message from my heart. When I gave him the gifts, there was no response of gratitude. The ring he returned to the store and the book he had placed on the floor next to the trash can in the broom closet. My heart was broken and my excitement and JOY were met with sadness and hurt.

    Why is it so easy for us to guard our material treasures we store up on earth yet so hard to protect the spiritual treasures given to us by God? Is it a lack of faith and trust in God that we are emotionally vulnerable and the enemy slivers his way in to attack? How can we protect our JOY from the thief that steals it? I’ve come to believe that the best answer is being steadfast in prayer which will allow us to respond in love.

    I have learned over the years that when I pray before responding to someone who has said hurtful words to me that I tend to respond in love and I don’t lose my joy. I may momentarily become frustrated until I pray asking God to guard my heart and fill it with his love. When I am emotionally hurt, I am unable to humanly respond in love. I need the grace of God. So prayer is extremely important in securing my treasure, my JOY.

    Don’t allow the enemy to steal your JOY. Pray that God guards and fills your heart with love when the person cuts you off in traffic, the friend says something hurtful, your toddler spills milk and your running late, or when your idea is not the one your boss is looking for at that time. And may be next time the thief of JOY will not be successful in his heist.