Wednesday, December 30, 2015

LAZER beams of Love...

Cyclops- original | Comic Book Heroes & Villains | Pinterest 

Oh Mercy.  What a crazy life we lead.  RIght?  Recently I asked God to help me learn to shoot lazer beams at people that I am having trouble with.  And the image I was left with was something like the above picture.  This would be super cool, if I could really do this.  Come on God!  Don't you agree??  Wouldn't that be really cool??

I really should start at the beginning of my story though...

I have been struggling with a particular person in my life.  This person can drive me completely insane.  Sometimes I have every reason to be annoyed, and other times, I am the one being ridiculous.   But regardless I see this person on a regular basis, and it is NOT always easy being "Christ Like" to them.   You know these people too, I assume.  At least I pray I am not the only one who struggles with this.

So the other day, I happen to find a few minutes of time to really pray.  REALLY PRAY.  This doesn't happen often but when it does amazing things happen.  I was thinking about this Blog, and I said a prayer for all you crazy people who have read anything I have written here.  God BLESS YOU ALL.  I don't know who are, or if you are reading anything you like, but I pray that God will bless you abundantly just for reading a page of anything I have written.  Really and truthfully.  

Well gradually my prayers of gratitude shifted to whining; and then my eyes found a crucifix.  What a strange symbol we have of our faith.  It is comparable to walking into a room filled with statues of electric chairs.  Some empty, or some with an figure strapped to one with a terrible look of pain on their face.  Think about how strange that really would be to walk into a house of prayer and see an image of a man being electrocuted at the front center.  Terrible.  Just terrible.
Then my mind wandered back to the original scene at Golgotha.  I was imaging myself walking on a cold, dark, night, past hundreds of people who were heading the opposite direction back toward the city gates.  The looks on these peoples faces were ones of shock, sorrow, disappointment, confusion, or even blank.  Something momentous just occurred, but no one really could explain it.  

As I keep walking, I notice how grotesquely silent the night is.  There is NO noise anywhere.  No sounds of birds, or bats.  No sounds of rustling leaves, no wind seeming to blow.  Almost as if life had just paused.   I can only hear the sound of my own heart beat, and my own breath as I pick up my pace in a direction that no one else seems to be going.

Then up ahead, I see a few people surrounding three very large poles in the ground.  There in the middle one is my God.  My king of kings, my Lord of Lords, my prince of peace, and the one for whom my SOUL loves.  There he is, this man that I have been whining too, about how challenging my life is.  The one who I was hoping to have comfort me because I was feeling hurt, and abandoned.  He is there in the middle of this very small crowd of people, hanging from a cross, dying.  

He is in Pain.  Even though he is God, he is completely human.  He feels the pain.  But the look on his face tells me the pain isn't just from the nails in his hands.  The pain he is feeling is also from the pain of betrayal, the pain of abandonment, the pain of all that he is about to lose on this earth.  Even though his Divine nature tells him there will be great celebration when it is finished, he will no longer get to experience life as a human.  No more fishing with his friends, or sharing the truth about the Kingdom of God with those he encounters on earth.  No more healing the sick and the blind with his own human hands; that job is going to be passed on to those less qualified.

That must have hurt.

So now here I am standing at the foot of the cross with all my hurts, and I am about to lay them at his feet.  My response was immediately back to gratitude.  All of the bad feelings that I brought with me, he has also experienced, and he experienced them to point of DEATH.  So Jesus, instead of trying to burden you with more of my "Not such a big deal" troubles.  Please let me know what I can do to HELP you.  

What can I do?

Immediately I felt God place on my heart the message from the Beatitudes.  LOVE those who trouble me.  Love them.  Love them all.  That's when I get so excited that I pray to be fill with so much love from God that I am literally BURSTING with LOVE.  I want to BURST WITH love so much so that it is not just overflowing out of me, but that it is literally spewing out of my body.  I want to be as powerful as the pressure washer that we just used to clean the sidewalks in front of my house.  I WANT TO BE SO LOVING THAT PEOPLE HURT FROM THE LOVE THAT POURS OUT OF ME.  

I want to shoot LAZER BEAMS of Love out of my eyes and and ears and mouth.  Wouldn't that be super cool????  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas World!

A few years ago I was SUPER excited about what I had purchased for my kids for Christmas.  Has this ever happened to you?  You know you got them something they WILL LOVE, and your excitement at giving it to them is so big you can hardly contain yourself.

I act like a lunatic whenever this happens, and I almost always give the surprise away.  I am totally pathetic, giggling, like I want to get the camera out and record their faces as they open whatever package it is.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who does this right?   ..........Right? 

Okay, maybe so.  But pretend for a moment that you are like this too.  For my sake.

Anyway, I realized this year that this is how God is for us ALL THE TIME.  HE gives the BEST gifts.  Sometimes we have to wait for them, but he KNOWS us best, and knows what we will love the most.  Oh Yes.  TOTALLY. 

So Open up your present from God.  It's his SON, and because of this GIFT, someday we can party up in heaven for ETERNITY.  And believe me, we will LOVE that.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Crazy little Christmas Customs...

St. Nicholas   (aka Santa)
There are so many Christmas customs all over the world.  And so many ways to prepare our homes and hearts for the Birth of Jesus.  I love to hear about what people do, and I thought I would share some of the ones my kids have really enjoyed over the years.  Some of these ideas are completely cheesy and very "gitchy."  But kids LOVE that stuff don't they???

1.  Our gift to Jesus.  I found a ceramic box at a thrift store one time and it was perfect for this idea.  Prior to finding the box, I had actually wrapped up a box with Christmas paper and a ribbon, but made sure we could open and close it without messing the paper up.   Inside the box, i would have the kids write down, or draw a picture of some "GIFT" they would like to give to Jesus for his birthday and we would put the paper inside the box.  Nearly ever year, I would have to remind the kids that Jesus doesn't need or want a bike for his birthday.  He doesn't want new toys or anything like that.  (Although we could give him toys, and he could give them to other kids who don't have any.)   What I always emphasize is that Jesus wants things like obedience and kindness for his birthday. He wants us to love others in HIS name.  That is what I imagine Jesus wants for HIS birthday.

2.  Wise Men Moving.  Another interesting custom I heard about is a great visualization for kids to understand the patience required for Advent.  The idea of the Wise Men traveling from far away place.  Where ever you set up your Nativity set you could put the three wise men WAY over on the other side of the room.  Then each week they could move to a spot a little closer to the stable.  It was a fun way for my kids to understand how far people came to see the birth of baby Jesus, and how special he really is to all of us.

3. We are the hands and feet of Santa:  We love getting shoe boxes and filling them with small toys and items for kids in third world countries as a part of the Operation Shoe Box project.  A few times my kids have wondered why Santa doesn't make it there himself.  In a rare moment of BRILLIANCE, (there aren't many here people, so when it happens I need to brag.) I shared with my kids that Saint Nicholas was a real man who really did live on earth a long time ago.  When he was ALIVE he loved to help make children happy and to spread the LOVE of JESUS to everyone he'd meet.  Now he lives in heaven, or what some people call the "NORTH POLE" and he needs our help to deliver gifts to girls and boys all over the world.   The little kids buy into the idea easily.  The older kids take a minute as they ponder what this means about the truth of Santa.  Well, if they are smart enough to figure it out, then they are ready for the truth.

I am sure there are TONS of ways you make the REAL miracle of Christmas come alive in your homes. 

But really, no matter how many parties I attend, how many cookies I bake, or how many gifts I buy for others, I have to remind myself constantly that it all started in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.  It all started with Jesus being shut out.  That's how he entered the world. The King of Kings, and the Lord of Lords.  The creator of the entire universe chose to sink to our level to save us from ourselves.  He gave us the most amazing gift; himself.  And we told his parents, "Sorry, No room for you here, go find somewhere else."

Let's not do that again this year.

Amen, Merry Christmas.  Open your hearts to Jesus!!!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Spending Time with Jesus.

Pretty much the minute I clicked off of my last post, this idea came to me.  Maybe my problem is that I don't know how to pray very well.

I used to be okay at saying the Rosary.  I was decent at putting my kids down for a nap, going straight to my room, and getting the beads out.  I would prayerfully recite the rosary, in return for what I believed would be a pay out from God in the form of extra long naps, or a good parking space at the grocery store.  I always felt AMAZING afterward and I don't doubt that the quiet time was good for my soul, but I am not sure that is how I am supposed to pray.

Other times, I would get a prayer request email, and I would read it.  Then I would quietly ask God right then to answer whatever prayer is being requested.  Not a bad thing to do; but I am not sure that is quite right either.

I spend time reading my Bible occasionally, but I don't always know where to start reading.  Sometimes I would read over the Gospel from the previous or upcoming Sunday, hoping maybe to get something new from it.  Or I would actually do the Homework for the Bible study I was participating in, and learn some new perspective on the scripture that I had never thought of before.  These were great sometimes, but other times it was over my head, and not really sinking in.

Then other times I try laying in my bed imagining Jesus and I alone in a room and I just talk and then try to listen to what he is telling me.  However, someone shared with me recently the verse Isaiah 53:2b, “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him."   It sort of ruined my image of Jesus.

I'll be honest, I don't believe for a second that Jesus was ugly.  In my head he is HOT HOT HOT.  Like a dark middle eastern rugged hot.  I just googled that and found this picture.  Yes, this is what I imagine Jesus to have looked like.  Is that wrong?!?!? (Wouldn't you want to spend every second with a guy that looked like this???)   Okay okay, whew! Is it hot in here?    Clearly my prayer life needs to change a little.  

Now that I have completely caused most of you to fall out of your chair, let's talk about how to pray.

I have no idea how you should pray.  I can only guess how I should pray.  In a way, writing this Blog for me is a prayer.  I am focusing on my God, and I am asking HIM for guidance on all things.  I am sharing what my concerns are, and I am attempting to GIVE all of those concerns to HIM.  I pray for wisdom and strength, and guidance constantly.  Not just for the big things.  But also for the little things.

Please Lord, help me find a parking place;  Please God help me get to the meeting on time;  Please Lord, help me find the right gift for such and such.  However, I do definitely need to take more time to listen.  NOT just to the voice of God I sometimes hear in my Heart, but also to the voice of God through my friends and family.  I need to pay more attention to the TUGS at my Heart.

Recently I went on a retreat for a whole weekend about prayer.  It was divine.  Literally.  A Priest friend of mine gave the retreat, and he introduced us all to a book by Father Tim Gallagher called, Ignatian Introduction to Prayer .  This was RIGHT up my alley.  I have always had a great imagination, and I really enjoyed getting into the scripture.  And I do mean GETTING INTO the scripture. 

For almost two weeks after the retreat, I was reading Mark 10:46-52.  I was imagining the scene outside the gates of Jerusalem and seeing myself finding a spot among the crowds right next to Bartimaeus.  In fact, Bartimaeus and I got to be close friends through this meditation.
Everyday for two weeks I was dragging my mat right next to this blind beggar.  Bartimaeus would hear me coming and make room next to him as we waited for Jesus to come by.  I played this entire scene out each time, and each time I felt a twinge of guilt that I was calling to Jesus with as much passion and deparation as this old, poor, blind man next to me.  In my imagination, Jesus looked directly at me when he passed by on the donkey.  And in my imagination, Jesus called my name to come to him to be healed of my sins and cured of my illnesses.  I would walk away from this meditation with a renewed sense of strength, and a feeling of completeness.  I also a received a sense of gratitude that my Jesus was able to do the same for my friend Bartimeaus.   It has been a powerful prayer, and it is only page one!

The name of the book is "An Ignatian Introduction to Prayer" and the Author is Father Timothy Gallagher.  I highly recommend if you are looking for something new to do with your prayer time with your image of JESUS.  In the mean time I will keep looking for new ways to spend with MINE!!  (Bam chica bam bam.)  (Is that inappropriate?!?!?!)  This might be the start of another BLOG post.  My slightly inappropriate relationship with Jesus.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

I am a Mountain Climber...

Bear with me Friends...  This might get weird.

SO yesterday, I was with some friends at church and we were doing a Meditation on Hope and Patience.  Now I do realize that everything I could possibly hope for is found in Jesus.  And that is the REAL gift of Christmas.  However, I got a little crazy with this hope thing.  You see I have something I have been hoping for a very long time.  It is a good thing I think, and the more time that passes the more I hope for this.  But I still have NO idea if this thing I hope for will ever actually come.

Here is what I wrote down yesterday....


I don't dare even write it down here - because my hope seems so lofty, so far fetched, at least from the point that I am currently standing at.  When I first dreamed this hope it didn't seem that ridiculous, but it seems almost laughable now.

You see I got thrown off my Mountain recently.  Or Maybe not thrown off exactly, maybe I just noticed that my Mountain is MUCH MUCH bigger than I previously realized.   There I was, on this almost plateau like incline; not too treacherous, but certainly NOT easy either.  It was sort of a steady climb up my mountain.  I think I may have even gotten into a rhythm and I was feeling good.  Like I was gaining ground, and getting close to the top. 

Then all of a sudden I went right over a cliff.  I think I probably fell a short time down this other side, and when I looked up I saw this other part of my Mountain.  It was GIGANTIC.  Not at all separate from where I had been climbing, but not what I expected to see.  I think I was thinking there was going to be some beautiful open grassy plain, filled with wild flowers and deer or something.  Instead it was like the Mattershorn.  Jagged and dangerous looking.  Oh Boy.

At first I was in shock.  I realized how little I had actually climbed when I saw this new mountain peak.  I felt VERY ANGRY, like I guess I thought I was doing well, and now I realize I had barely climbed anything at all, compared to how far I had left to go. 

I realize I do have some choices.  I don't HAVE to climb this mountain.  I could pick a new mountain, something entirely new to hope for.  Maybe that mountain will be different, and not as tall or treacherous.   Or maybe I could stop climbing all mountains.  Just stop hoping for anything at all.  I could sink back down into the valley and hang out for a while in the shadows of other peoples hopes and dreams and just watch them climb.  But that is not really who I am.

I am a Mountain Climber.  A dreamer and someone who is filled with HOPE.  I am also filled with Faith.  For me, however, faith is when I feel certain about the outcome.  This particular thing I am hoping for I am really not sure what the outcome will be.  I have faith that the outcome will be good.  But I only have HOPE that outcome will be what I want it to be.

I get back up and start climbing this mountain again; now full of the realization of how difficult this climb is ahead of me.  It is the same HOPE as before, but a much much steeper climb.  I have no idea how long it will take to get there, or if I ever WILL make it to the top of this Mountain.  I don't even know for sure if the top is everything I hope for.  But I keep climbing regardless.

IT is MY Mountain to climb.  No one else can climb it for me.  No one else can bear this burden in my place.  My Lord walks with me, and comforts me along this journey, but out of love, he allows me to experience this climb, because he knows it will make me stronger.

Which then brings me to PATIENCE.

Oh how I hate this word.  Not just because the time it requires - but mostly because I don't know how to occupy the time.  If I have faith in something, then it seems a waste to keep praying for this thing with which I have faith will be answered.  However, if I only have hope, then what am I supposed to do while I wait with patience?  How do I climb this mountain?  DO I try and help the situation, do I attempt to control or manipulate the outcome?  Do I try and forget about the entire thing while I wait and occupy my mind with other thoughts while I climb?  But if it means so much to me that I am willing to climb this mountain, then HOW do I just forget about it?

And if I turn the whole thing over to GOD, completely and let him handle the entire thing, then what is my role during the time I am supposed to be patient?  This is something I have a very hard time understanding.  How do you turn something that you hope for with every essence of your being; something that you have ZERO control over; how do you give that completely to GOD, and then wait patiently for the outcome? 

Please Lord, give me something to focus on while I wait for your will to be done in my life.    


Friday, December 4, 2015

Advent: hurry up and wait...

Oh advent.  You are so not in my nature. My whole world is about hurrying up.  Hurry up and get dressed, hurry up and eat, hurry up and get it in the car so we can hurry up and get to the 5 million places we need to go to in the next ten minutes.

I am not sure if advent has always been about slowing down, but that seems to be the message I am being told now.  And thank you God!  You always seem to give us what we need.  

So I pray that this advent I can truly slow my life down.  For me that will be looking at my phone less. (As soon as I finish typing) and looking at my bible more.  It will mean spending more time with my kids and less time just around them.  It will mean worrying less about the non important stuff like their grades and whether they made their beds, and more time playing with them.  

And all of this will be for the purpose of waiting. Waiting in anticipation of the most precious gift any of us have ever received. It's not a surprise and we don't really HAVE to wait.  But just like a birthday for an anxious child, we wait in hopeful anticipation for the Joy we receive in the gift of Jesus!!!

And then spend twelve days celebrating the fun!!!  Now that's what I call a birthday party!!!