Always Higher

As I look at my little daughter, I realize how fragile and perceptive she is to my word and actions. I have an amazing opportunity to shape her world and broaden her horizons. Yet what a fine line it is. As her mother I want to be able to give her the tools she needs to be a righteous and God-fearing woman.

That requires an attitude of not being afraid to be the bad guy and use discipline. However, I don’t want to break her fine independent, curious, and sensitive spirit by being the dictator. The principle to use in parenting is this simple question, “How can I bring my child always higher?”

There is also the element of tender love. Whether that means drawing my child in a tender embrace and saying, “I love you!” or encouraging her for good choices and decisions. It means allowing her to sometimes to be the lawyer and show me why to be more lenient in this particular instance. But that doesn’t mean letting her get away with murder, if you know what I mean, by letting her always have her way. I am the one to build her up or break her down. It is the method of using love and logic and questions.

The art of being the best mom is knowing the balance. The boundaries must be clear. Children are more happy and secure when they know what is expected of them and that there are consequences to their actions be it good or bad. Don’t be afraid to assert authority nor to show affection. What a beautiful opportunity and unique gift in my vocation to motherhood to be that positive influence to bring my daughter always higher.

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Love Me

Hello my friends! I’ve decided to take a writing challenge over the summer from my You-Tube friend at a Catholic Mom’s Life. It is on the book A Catholic Mom’s handbook. Each week me and other moms are going to be sharing our take aways from one chapter of the book and make it our own. You can follow hers and others here. That being said here we go.

A lot of us moms want to be the perfect mom who do well for our children and help them grow into loving and caring adults who love God and desire to serve Him. Yet sadly, oftentimes we feel like we have fallen very short. I know that at times I fail miserably. I cry out, “Lord help me!”

From these depths, can come the provocation to seek God and discover an answer and a desire and an impetus for change. I have reached that moment and have discovered in God that this journey toward healing and wholeness is multifaceted. And that little by little we see that even though we have been brought to our knees, God has already been leading and guiding us.

The first step toward being a holy and loving mom is not reading all the latest magazine articles on what works for X mom and how she is so great or the latest blog on self help for a crazy stressed out Mom. Or starting a deep clean of the house and going through everything and getting rid of all that unwanted clutter. It is not taking on a new program for self improvement and doing the best things. It is not starting a trend diet and shedding a few pounds to look great and fit the fashion page of the greatest Mom celebrity. Or taking a week long vacation in Hawaii. (Wouldn’t that be nice! Where’s my ticket?)

Yes, certain aspects of these things are important. But, if we just take the thing we are only brushing the surface and real change will not come about. It has to start at the core; in our very heart.

Why am I a Mom? Because I vowed to Love and Honor my husband for my whole life and we became one flesh. Out of that unity came our lovely beautiful daughter. There is so much depth to this. I joined myself to my husband in marriage. It is here that True love takes wing. It is here that my children will see where everything comes from.

But am I loving him? An honest look has helped me discover that my attitude has been a lot of love me.

Yet that is the world’s way of a Romantic relationship and they don’t last. Well maybe they do but only for a short time; until the well runs dry. I had an idea of just what bar I wanted my husband Jerry to fit. Yet that is how I wanted to be loved. It wasn’t until I began to discover this important fact that real transformation could begin. I wasn’t loving my hubby for who He is and why I married him in the first place.

See that is the problem with ideals. They are just that: ideas. I’m not saying at all that we shouldn’t have a standard and hold our husbands accountable. Definitely not. I want him in heaven with me. I am saying if we have our eye on the idea then we miss the acts of love that he pours out daily in only the way he can. I mean the little individual ways of his affection by his unique personality.

It is in this that comes the key. I may be wanting him to grow so much but then I am missing how He is journeying. Only I know the little quirks and likes and dislikes and desires in a way that no one else can. I need to know what makes him tick. How can I do this? Three simple things.

1)Pray fervently to Christ who is the center of my marriage for my husband where he is. Not the ideals of where I think the change should be or where I want him to be.

2)Hold the complaining tongue and give myself to him by looking for the little cues that he offers me. Sacrificing the way that I might like it. Perseverance to put up with a little suffering and discomfort. This is virtue. This is true love. Self gift. Take the extra step to offer yourself even if it goes unseen.

3)Keep salt alive. Have fun. Look for ways to kindle the flame. It doesn’t have to be an expensive date night either. You’d be amazed that often the most amazing and hilarious and joy filled times are in the simplest pleasures. Look for these times and cherish them. (And yes splurge a little sometimes.) Your marriage is worth it. He is worth it. You are worth it.

Devotion and love grow here. These will bring new life. And you will realize how you are loved. I must have at my core a servant’s heart in order to be a successful mom. This starts with my husband. And my children will see it. They will copy it.

Organic Movement of the Holy Spirit

There comes a moment in our lives when we are faced with the hard truth, what made me do that? If there is any drive for the glory of self instead of God it will not work. Any pedestals but actual following of the commands given of God then it will definitely not work. It all is made apparent by the action of the heart. Looks can be deceiving. But how do I know if what I am experiencing is an authentic work of the Holy Spirit?

1) Relationship with God usually happens slowly and organically (though sometimes there is a lot of momentum)

2) God feeds and Blesses the work and doors keep opening. Jesus says “I am the Bread of Life. Unless you feed on me you cannot have life within you.”

3) Time. We need to give time space and observation. What is the fruit? The Holy Spirit wants to pour His charisms upon us and fill us with His gifts. He still is moving powerfully. He wants to spread the Faith. Keep praying and putting out feelers.

4) No one can draw close unless the Father beckons. All authority on earth and in Heaven has been given to the Son. And the Son does not come on His own accord but does what the Father asks and has sent Him to do. We must listen and obey and do God’s bidding. The Father does not reject anyone who comes to Him and His motive is nothing but Love. God wants to move within us. And His action is important no matter how small. We cannot do big things unless we are obedient in the small. And often big things do happen in the small even if our piece is minuscule. Act.

Walking with Jesus

A sacrifice of praise must always be on our lips. We must pray unceasingly. In walking with God and acknowledging His presence great things happen. It starts with acknowledging our nothingness that without God we can do nothing. Yet with the power of God’s grace great things can happen. He wants the familial bond with us. He wants to be in relationship with us. Yet it is our choice if we co-operate and walk with Him or if we choose our own path. In this self driven culture, it is so easy to go about our own business instead of walking on God’s time. It is so easy to follow what we think is Truth versus what God gives. We are called to be in this world and not of it. Anything that is not of God is at enmity with Him. That includes our own desires if they are not in line with God’s command.

It means buckling down and reclaiming Godly values. It means building in our own circle of influence God’s ways. It means showing the value of work and suffering and joy. It is passing on a way of life. That open attitude to give Jesus as we receive Him. This is an attractive way of life. Remember when Rome was beginning to be at its darkest? It was the Family of God who brought about restoration by their blood. The light was able to shine more freely. It is time for a new springtime and even though it is getting really dark we need to have the confidence of Faith in Christ and His Church. Yet it starts with me. Am I truly walking with Him? Do I have Him and am I listening to His voice?

Fruit of the Heart

The following video is the good fruit of what happens when we are flooded with God’s Love.

The first place is Humility. We see what we are before God, both the good and the bad. We offer it to Him. Admittance of the truth.

The second place is Forgiveness. Let go of the hurt. Say I release you. Keep working at it. This takes time. Bring it to God. Bring it to Confession. Let it go so you can be an open floodgate. Remember the reservoir of your heart? Forgiveness is part of that latch. If the heart cannot forgive than it cannot receive.

The third place is good deeds. The expression of love is good works and these works are empty without Love. Works of the law are indeed a fruit of being open to the floodgates of God’s Love. We can only give what we have been given.

More to come on the results of choosing to do good and accepting God’s Love or walking away from relationship.

Heart

Here is the first of some reflections on the attitude of the heart to daily life and suffering.

Feel free to leave comments or ask questions. I promise more to come. I also forgot to mention in the video that some suffering happens as the consequence of our own decisions. Or a mixture of all the ways I meant to say: 1) My own decision, 2)Someone else’s bad decision, or 3)A test of God for our faithfulness. It can sometimes be hard to figure it out which it is and we waste our time trying to figure it out. It is in the attitude of “Here I Am.” Next video. Fruits.

The Sign of Jonah

In life it seems we never have enough.

We ask for more but life is tough.

Send me a sign and I’ll believe,

My restlessness to relieve.

Yet no sign shall be given

Except the sign of Jonah

Who spoke the message given

They heeded and they listened.

The queen she came to find all wisdom

Yet more than all that is here.

Something greater.

Your presence to behold,

Your very life and breath and love,

At the Altar lay.

How can we forget the awesome wonder here?

God made present Emanuel.

Who do you say that I am?

The question posed and guessed upon.

Yet only faith may show,

You are the Christ, the Son of God!”

“Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah,

For flesh and blood have not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”

What merits this title, son of Jonah?

He recognized the Sign in his midst,

God’s presence greater than the

  • Wisdom of Solomon
  • The message of Jonah preached and heeded

So when we forget and seek after something new,

Remember God is here.

Take that not for granted.

Be the sign of Jonah.

Wisdom of the Ages

It is beautiful to think that God makes His dwelling amongst us. He comes to us in Eucharist and dwells in our hearts. This gift is so amazing! How can we leave Him alone for an instant? If we would just approach the throne of grace and stay with Him, times of difficulty would go much smoother and our hearts would stay truer. He pours Himself into us. Alas! So many times we worship Him with our lips but our hearts are far from Him.

We blame so many things for pulling us away but Jesus says simply, “Nothing that enters one from outside can defile that person; but the things that come out from within are what defile.” To make Himself even more clear He says, “But what comes out of the man, that is what defiles him. From within the man, from his heart, come evil thoughts, unchastity, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, licentiousness, envy, blasphemy, arrogance, folly. All these evils come from within and they defile.”

The truth that lies at the very center of this teaching is simple, from within the man, from his heart. What is there? If we remain true to God and stay close to Him He graces us with a wisdom beyond all understanding. This pure heart pleases Him. However we must stay with Him. Look at King Solomon. Such a pleasure he was to the Lord. He remained very close to the Lord and none could approach his wisdom. He was prosperous and rich and young. But what happened? He grew careless and did not guard his wisdom. He had a whole harem of foreign wives and began to worship with them their foreign gods. By the time he had age, his wisdom became worldly. What happened? God was displeased with him. Unlike his father David, his heart did not remain true. God gave the kingdom to Solomon’s servant. But for the sake of His Promise to David one tribe remained in the family. Judah.

What can we learn from this? God looks at the heart. We may sin out of human weakness but if we turn to the Lord and ask for His transformation of our heart, God cannot resist a repentant heart who recognizes sin and at least desires to be better and grow. It is when we turn to wealth and riches and glory, technology power, success…What have you. In a word idols. Things that are gods, worldly wisdom, our own power and glory and might and not to God.

So how can we test the heart? How did the Queen of Sheba recognize the wisdom of Solomon? She saw its fruit. She saw his splendor. She saw his superior knowledge by questioning carefully what he knew and spoke. We should not fear the questioning for God is true and supplies our every need. Where we lack, is the opportunity to let God work. It is the place of grace. The place of growth.

It is good to recognize the weak part of us for it is here that God wishes to touch and heal us. The problem lies in turning away from the Lord when we need Him the most to worldly wisdom. This displeases the Lord and is where, unless we turn to him, will fail and fall. But not to fear. It is only the unrepentant heart that is rejected. No matter what has happened or what you have done turn to the Lord. Also recognize that in that place of weakness is where you will be attacked. We cannot win unless we are reinforced with God’s grace.

It should not be a place of fear but trust in the goodness of God. He calls for faith. We see that in His dealings with the foreign woman who runs to Him for the healing of her daughter. At first glance, it appears that He is chastising her and rejecting her. He said to her, “Let the children be fed first. For it is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” But no! What is her response? “Lord, even the dogs under the table eat the children’s scraps.” He was looking for her faith. Was it true? He responds in tenderness and heals her daughter. So it is with us. Do not fear the test of suffering and questioning. We find our true selves. And it is there we can find God.

Free to Let God Act

Our hearts can only be as open to receive God as our faith. Think of the woman with the hemorrhage for twelve years. It was a combination of brain and heart. She received information from people that Jesus had been performing healings and was holy. What was her response? He can heal. He will heal me if I can touch his cloak. I don’t even need to talk to Him. He has the power of God. She already believed that God could do something so great as heal her even in an indirect way. That the power in Him could transform her. She acted accordingly with faith. She felt immediately she was cured.

What is God’s response? He knew very well who it was who touched Him yet He wanted an encounter. “Who touched me?” She was afraid and quaking she stepped forward. She was afraid of a rebuke telling Him everything . He said to her in praise, “Daughter your faith has saved you. Go in peace and be cured of your affliction.”

We also have the official who Jesus was on His way to help when they encountered the woman. He had the faith that Jesus could save his daughter from death. Imagine his urgent impatience to get there in time. The official’s servant arrives and says, “Do not bother the master any longer. She has died.” How his heart must have sunk. Yet Jesus asks for more faith and confidence in His power and goes with the official to the house turning out the mourners and saying, “Why this commotion and weeping? The child is not dead but asleep.” Imagine the surprise and wonder of this official. Could it be that Jesus would help his daughter in death? Permitting only Peter, James, and John, and the child’s parents he entered the room and took her hand saying, “Talitha koum…Little girl, I say to you, arise!” She did. And Jesus said to tell no one and give her something to eat.

Here is an Old Testament example. We have the king David asking his general to count the people without the command of the Lord. It was a pride thing and he realized his guilt and cried out to the Lord. The seer came to him and offered him three consequences from God; a famine, fleeing from his enemy for three months, or a pestilence. What does David respond? “Let us fall by the hand of God, for he is most merciful; but let me not fall by the hand of man.” David chose the pestilence. He saw the devastation of the pestilence and cried out “It is not these people but the shepherd! Repay me!” And the Lord stayed the angel’s hand.

God responds to the cry of our heart. He does for us that and more. But we must believe with both brain and heart, consenting to let God be free to act. We must trust that He will answer.