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 you the hemorrhaging woman?

    “And a woman afflicted with hemorrhages for twelve years, who [had spent her whole livelihood on doctors and] was unable to be cured by anyone, came up behind him and touched the tassel on his cloak.  Immediately her bleeding stopped.”  Luke 8:43-44

    Do you sometimes feel like the hemorrhaging woman?  Have you been afflicted with uncontrollable loss?  Has one trial after another poured out upon you and you feel that you cannot go on?  Has a relationship in your life drained the life out of you?

    How often do you feel overwhelmed with affliction and pain, leaving you depleted of life?  Do you think this is what God wants in your life?

    Did the ‘hemorrhaging woman’ touch Jesus’ tassel on His cloak out of lack of options or did she touch it because she believed in Jesus and his ability to heal?  In Luke, chapter 8, Jesus tells us that it was her FAITH that saved her.  Her FAITH!  She didn’t touch it out of ‘lack of options,’ she knew He could heal her if she just touched His clothing.  She didn’t have to go as far as touching Him, but just His clothing.  That is quite a demonstration of belief in Jesus’ power to heal.

    IMG_2532.PNGThere have been many times I have felt just like the hemorrhaging woman.  The only difference is, I was not suffering from a physical bleeding.  I was suffering from a hemorrhaging spirit.  As I dig deeper within, with the help of the Holy Spirit, I am uncovering so much about my past that has affected my present.  I see the results of that lack of healing, perhaps the lack of faith at the time.  Things that I suffer from and have suffered from, as a much older adult, are continued outpouring, bleeding of the wounds inflicted from my childhood and early adulthood.  As my faith has become stronger and I receive the Sacraments on a regular basis, my open wounds are being revealed to me and I can feel the healing, the bleeding slowing down.  Is it ironic or is it my FAITH in Jesus’ healing?  Prior to five years ago, my relationship with Jesus was very much on the surface.  Today, my relationship with Him is deeper and I know the power of that relationship with Him.  I know the healing power of the Eucharist and reconciliation.  I know the power of prayer.  I know because I have had a personal encounter with it.  Friends, Jesus’ healing power is real and it is right before our eyes in prayer, a relationship with Him and in the Sacraments.

    Why is it hard for us to see it, to believe it?  Is it our culture, the world that tells us it’s not real?  Are we just too busy to stop and see it, to stop and take part in quiet time with Jesus, to go to Mass and go to confession?

    He is waiting for each of  you, right there on the altar.  Come to Him in the Sacraments and be healed.  Stop your spirit from bleeding by touching the cloak of Jesus in the Eucharist and reconciliation.  Believe in the healing power of the Son of God and stop hemorrhaging.

    Doubt – discovering a deeper relationship

    Doubt is but another element of faith. St Augustine

    Have you ever considered doubting God or your faith a good thing? Has your doubt sparked a stronger relationship with God? Has God drawn you closer to Him by using this doubt as a catalyst to get your attention?

    Doubt is a good source for deeper, more intimate prayer, a deeper, more intimate conversation with God which leads to a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him. Perhaps the moment where Jesus asks “why have you abandoned me” gives us a pathway to meet Him in a deeper level through His suffering. Although He did not doubt God’s plan, He bore “the same sufferings of our doubts” revealing God’s mercy. Often in the midst of our sufferings we doubt the most. We wonder where is God and why has He abandoned us. We may question His answers or His timing, or we may question His love and compassion. Doubt stirs up a search within us for the God we’ve read about, we’ve heard about and we know.

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    There was a time in my marriage when I had great doubt. I was growing in my faith and my relationship with God. My desire for God had gone from about fourth or fifth place to first. Yet there was one major issue that baffled me. My marriage had really begun to spin out of control. What I knew about the church’s teaching on marriage didn’t align with the struggle in my heart. My struggle had become a tug of war between my marriage and my relationship with God. I remember having a conversation with my father-in-law while picking blackberries. He told me that God wants our whole heart but I had chosen to be married and I couldn’t give God all of it. This really confused me. Although I could feel God’s presence and this deep desire for Him, I was uncertain of His plan in my marriage and in my life – the path He had placed me on. As a result of this doubt and confusion, I began to talk to God more intensely, seeking direction. What I discovered was a deeper, more intimate relationship with Him that led me to understanding His will and presence in my life. Through my doubt, I sought clarity and answers and found truth and peace.

    Often when you doubt, you are generally out of your comfort zone. You begin to question reason and faith, resulting in questioning God. When you question God, you dig deeper for truth. When you seek truth, it leads you to God’s deep desire – a relationship with you that takes precedence over all things. My dear friends, when you doubt and begin to search, you open the doors for the Holy Spirit to enter. Once that happens, all things are clearer and your oneness with God’s will is ignited. This is truly your “faith in the fire of the Holy Spirit.”

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    When you doubt and question God, see it as a gift of discernment, a gift of seeking God deeper. It is in our questions that we are awakened and set on fire in our faith, and our relationship with God. It is in the journey for truth in our lives that He meets us and welcomes us with a love burning bright. Open your heart to doubt and let it bring you closer to your Heavenly Father as you seek Him beyond the depths of the sea.

    The affect of self gratification

    For St. John Paul II, the opposite of love is not hatred; rather, the opposite of love is to use someone as a means to our own selfish ends.  “Theology of the Body for Beginners”

    This is not a topic I feel comfortable writing about but it is a topic I feel God is tugging at me to write about.

    Have you read “Theology of the Body for Beginners”?  If not, you should hop on Amazon and order it now.  This little book contains the greatest secret to love – to give of oneself.

    When I read this book, God’s desire for me became so clear.  His desire for me is to praise, honor and serve Him (St. Ignatius of Loyola “The Principal and Foundation”) by loving others as He loves me.  By loving one another, we are gifts to each other.  So why is love a difficult topic to write about?  Perhaps is not so much love that’s hard to write about but the affects of distorted love.

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    Two topics I want to explore: self gratification and pornography, one being the result of the other.

    What is self gratification?  It is seeking satisfaction for oneself and not considering another.  You cannot love someone if your love consists of “what’s in it for me?”  This is exactly what our late Pope, St. John Paul II states the opposite of love is.  If your expectation is for someone to satisfy your every desire, you will never be full.  This kind of love is the definition of lust, “personal inclination,” as defined by Webster.  In the “Theology of the Body for Beginners,” Christopher West, states that “only a person who is free from the compulsion of lust is capable of being a true gift to another.”  If self gratification is our method of love, then we are using others not loving them and we can never be a gift to another as God desires us to be.  We can only love by giving of ourselves to another, through our actions of selflessness.  Love becomes an object of lust when we only look for what the other person can do for us in a relationship, how they can satisfy our needs.

    Our society has distorted love through the sinfulness of lust.  The greatest source of this being pornography.  Pornography has desensitized our society in what is moral and what is not.  Not too long ago, I was wearing a white ribbon for the end to pornography, a lady at work stopped me in the hall and asked me what the ribbon was for.  I told her that it was for the fight against pornography.  She looked at me and told me, “but that’s where all the good ideas come from.”  I think my face displayed a grave expression of shock.  The sad fact is that a large percent of our society thinks that pornography is okay and would respond just as this lady did.  Pornography is an act of treating another person as an object for the self gratification of another – the viewers.  God never intended us to be used for the purpose of another but to be loved in regards for ourselves.  The domino affect from pornography filters into so many areas of our society – human trafficking, sexual abuse, affairs, broken marriages, etc.  It is binding the hearts of so many and creating a world of objective love, distorted from the true love of God present in our lives, in the Eucharist.

    How do we end pornography?  I think it starts with prayer for those engaged in pornography to see it as the object of lust and the opposite of love, to begin to take control of the heart and exhibit love that supports a giving of self instead of taking of another’s dignity.  We can also educate our younger generation on the affects of self gratification, of lust and teach them to love as Christ loves.  The Sacraments are also another vehicle to ending this plague, by receiving the graces from God, freely given to each of His children, to fight the temptation and desire of self love and lustful desires.

    God created us to love one another, not to use one another for our own selfish desires.  Emptiness is a result of seeking love through self satisfaction.  Let’s pray for fulfillment through the true act of love for one another and an end to a distorted selfish view of love.

    If the human heart is a deep well, it is true that murky waters abound.  But if we press through the mud and the mire, at the bottom of the well we do not find grime and sludge.  We find a spring that, when activated, gradually fills the well to overflowing with pure, living water.  This spring is the ‘deeper heritage’ of our hearts. “Theology of the Body for Beginners”

     

    Have you named and claimed the pain stealing your joy?

    As I stood up, I could feel blood streaming down my face.  I was 5 and had been standing behind an aluminum horse swing.  I had just been told not to stand near the swing and like a typical kid, I did anyway.  The results – a gash on my forehead requiring stitches.  Interesting fact:  when our bodies bleed, a signal is sent from our brain to the blood vessels to try and constrict them to stop the bleeding – initiating the healing process.

    Just as our brains recognize the physical wounds, we must also recognize our emotional wounds to begin to heal and ‘stop the bleeding’ of our hearts.  Accepting that there is hurt and it’s time to move past it is important to start the healing process. Often, we become so deeply a part of what is embedded in our daily trials that it becomes a part of our identity, dwelling in this place of pain and hurt.

    So how do you recognize something is wrong?  How do you uncover this pain, name it and claim it?

    When my check engine light comes on in the car, it is a warning sign that something is definitely not right and I need to have someone take a look at it.  If I fail to acknowledge it and continue to drive my car with the check engine light on, I may be able to get several miles out of it before something happens that may leave me on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck and cost me more money than if I would have had it checked when it first came on.  Unlike our cars, we don’t have a flashing warning light that is visible right in front of us.  We just feel this emotional pain constantly piercing our hearts.

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    If you ignore the piercing of your heart, refusing to name it and claim it, the pain continues to grow, binding you and strangling your joy – costing you more, just like ignoring the warning light on your car.

    Name it 

    I remember the day after I left my ex-husband, how bruised and broken I felt.  It wasn’t until after I left and reality began to settle that I realized how much I was bleeding internally from the open wounds of my marriage.  Within an instance my world was shaken up and now I had to name what seemed normal in my life.  Without giving it a name, I could not deal with it, eliminate its constant infliction upon me and move past it.  I had to know what it was to begin to deal with it, to heal from it.

    Until you give it a name, even though you have recognized that you are hurting, you can’t move into the healing phase.  Naming it gives you this affirmation that there is a wound that needs to be healed.  It provides you a focal point and identification of what you need to heal from.

    When you go to the doctor because you have stomach pain or some other ailment that is bothering you,  he performs a diagnostic based on your symptoms.  Then he tells you the name of the ailment and how he is going to treat it.  He can’t treat it unless he knows what he is treating.

    This is the same with our spiritual and emotional healing.  Until you know what your ailment is, give it a name, you can’t move on in the healing process.

    Claim it

    Now that you have given it a name, you have to accept it.  It is a part of your life journey but it does not define you as an individual.  Accepting the pain allows you to surrender to God to enable Him to walk with you and heal you.

    The most vivid image I have of this part of my own healing process is peeling the layers of an onion.  This is an image that crops up often in my spiritual direction meetings.  Just when I think I am healed, another layer begins to come off.  And just like peeling an onion, tears are shed.  The more layers I peel, the deeper I go within my heart, uncovering roots of the pain in my life.  The grace of peeling that onion is the wisdom gained as I face the deeper pain and accept God’s help.  What I have discovered is that the closer to the core, my relationship with God deepens, my dependence on Him strengthens.  This is how I know that I am personally healing spiritually.

    Are you feeling a piercing in your heart?  Have you named it and claimed it?  If not, start today so that you can heal within and unravel the chains that have been binding your joy.

    The voice of those with no freedom of speech

    “You formed my inmost being; You knit me in my mother’s womb.”  Psalm 139:13

    As we approach the day of our independence and celebrate our freedom, I wanted to ask you to be the voice of those who have no freedom of speech, the unborn.

    Abortion is a very hot topic in our society and has become a choice that many feel has no consequence, as if the life never existed. For others, the pain of that choice lasts a lifetime.

    I know a few women who have made the choice of abortion and as they tell their story, a sorrow comes over their eyes, revealing an unbearable pain. It is an event in their lives they will never forget and will always wonder what could have been. Their love for the aborted baby is deep within searching for forgiveness as they bear the weight of the choice they once made.

    Why do people make the choice to abort? Why do people support and practice the act of abortion?

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    I watched a movie the other day called “Life Changes Everything”. In the movie, a young man asked his girlfriend to abort their child. The story unfolds as if she made the choice to not abort and the father left her alone to raise the child. The child grew up to be a doctor, a doctor who finds the cure for cancer and cures his father in a human trial. At the end of the movie, you realize the mother made the choice to abort and the story was a story of what could have been.

    Consider another major life in our history.  Think about the Annunciation, when St Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her she will have God’s son. If Mary would not have accepted God’s will to carry Jesus in her womb, the history of salvation would have never been as it is. If she said no, would it have been any different than a mother’s choice to not carry a life within her womb by choosing to abort?

    Just as in Mary’s obedience to accept the life of God’s son within her womb, we as humans should also accept the life of God’s children that He Himself has formed in the womb. It is His will that this life is created.  He knit each in the mother’s womb.

    How many aborted babies could have been world leaders that change the face of our society? How many could have discovered the cure for cancer, or saved hundreds of lives as an ER doctor or a trauma surgeon? How many could have been priests or ministers sharing God’s love to the world? How many could have led causes to end poverty, aid in sheltering the homeless, adopted an abandoned child? This list could be endless on what God’s plan for each one of these seeds of life could have been or done.

    So again why does one human life choose to end another life that has no voice, no freedom of speech? Is it the lies of fear, selfishness, shame, acceptance, and pride that cause disobedience to the will of God? My friends, Satan has a great target – the voice unspoken, the voice with no freedom of speechthe unborn. If we, God’s children do not speak up, do not pray for these lives, then who will? Today, say a prayer for the end to abortion, for the mothers discerning the decision to abort, for those who practice the act of abortion and support it. Through prayer, you are being their VOICE.