Helping God Out

urlDo you ever feel the need to help God along in His plan? Maybe we don’t say those exact words, but I think it’s something we all end up doing at one point or another. Sometimes it may be that we are called to pursue certain goals, work towards specific accomplishments, or follow a certain course of action. We believe that this is what God is calling us to do and so we do what we can on our end to work towards His will.

When we feel called by God to a certain direction in our lives, there is always something we can do to follow His call. But if we place the full responsibility and burden on ourselves, we become pulled down by the weight of it all and stressed out by trying to figure out and plan every little detail. We may become obsessed with how we feel we need to “help” God and lose sight of the fact that He already has is under control!

It has been almost two years that my husband and I have been trying for a baby and it has been a struggle emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Anyone who has dealt with infertility in any manner knows that there are tons of things you “should do”. Things to track, things to chart, things to eat or not eat, medicines to try, and so on. At the same time, the number one thing everyone tells you is “Don’t stress so much!” or “Just try not to think about it.” That can be frustrating to say the least. Especially when the act of daily charting, tracking, doctor’s appointments, medicines, and so on, makes it near impossible to take your mind off of it for even a little while.

Yesterday my husband and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful man as my husband. As I thought about our marriage and our life together, I began to reevaluate my “plan.” I believe without a doubt that I am called to be a mother and I know in my heart that it will happen in God’s perfect timing. But before being called to motherhood, I was called to be a wife. On days when I feel frustrated at not fulfilling my call of motherhood, I need to remember that I am so blessed to be carrying out my vocation as a wife.

The second thing I thought of was how complicated it has all become. If I truly believe in my heart that God has called me to be a mother, why do I stress so about doing everything “just right” in order to make it happen? Do I feel the need to help God out? Do I doubt that He can do it on His own and requires me to meticulously plan each detail for Him? As much as my mind screams “No!” in answer to these questions, I know that my actions seem to state otherwise.

I have become so wrapped up in what I have to do to make this happen, that I have seemingly forgotten it is not up to me. All the charting, all the doctor’s visits, all the medicine in the world does not make a baby. God alone is the Creator of life. Despite what I may or may not do to “help out”, the truth of the matter is that I cannot control it. When it is God’s perfect timing, we will have our baby. But until then? I am resolved to stress less about what I need to do and to put it in His hands and trust more confidently in Him.

Of course there are things we can all do to follow God’s will for our lives. There are things I can do to help my body out as we prepare to have a family.  But in following His will, we need to be attentive to how He is calling us. Is He telling us to take a specific action? Or is He telling us that He has it under control and we need to trust? We need to remember that even though there are things we may be called to do and actions we must take as we follow the Lord, at the end of the day He is the one in control. He can do all things, and He doesn’t need our help to make them happen.

“Delight yourself in the Lord;
And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him, and He will do it.
He will bring forth your righteousness as the light
And your judgment as the noonday.

Rest in the Lord and wait patiently for Him;

-Psalm 37:4-7

 

What’s in a Name?

600px-Hello_my_name_is_sticker.svgWhen I made my Confirmation in the 8th grade, I chose the name “Rose” as my Confirmation name. Choosing a new name for Confirmation is not mandatory, but is a popular tradition and expression of a new stage in life. We see many places in the Bible where a new name is given when someone devotes their life to God. Abram becomes Abraham, Simon becomes Peter, Saul becomes Paul. When choosing a new name for Confirmation, it is encouraged to research the Saints and choose that name of a Saint you can identify with and look up to. Someone who might serve as a role model and inspiration for you.

And so in preparation for my Confirmation, I read about many Saints and I decided to choose St. Rose of Lima. While I studied her before making my decision, I will admit that the biggest factor in choosing Rose as my Confirmation name was simple; I liked the name! I liked the way it sounded with my full name and I thought it was pretty and feminine.   I can’t say that I particularly identified with St. Rose, but I knew she led a holy life and that was good enough for me.

A few years later I found myself teaching a Confirmation class and instructing the students in the same way I had been instructed; to choose a name of a Saint they could identify with and look up to. I knew several of the students were likely choosing their names the same way I chose mine; by finding one that sounded nice. I wondered for a bit if I should have chosen differently. I began to study St. Rose of Lima more carefully and to really contemplate the life she lived.

452px-José_del_Pozo_(atribuido)_-_Saint_Rose_of_Lima_-_Google_Art_ProjectSaint Rose was born in Lima, Peru in 1586. She was very beautiful but did not want to be recognized for her appearance and so she would rub pepper on her face to mar her complexion. She wished only to serve to Lord. Her parents wished for her to marry and objected to her joining a convent. While she refused to marry, she wanted to remain obedient to her parents and so did not join the convent but instead became a member of the Third Order of St. Dominic and led a life a prayer and devotion to Christ from her home where she also served the poor and needy of the community.

Wow. How was I supposed to relate to that? At first it seemed I had nothing at all in common with St. Rose. But the more I thought about it, despite having little in common, I found that she could be quite an inspiration to me. I may not be in the same century or have the same vocation as her, but there are ways in which she can influence my life, and she has!

St. Rose worked to draw attention away from her appearance. While I may not go to the lengths that she did, that is certainly something I can work on and would do well to remember. How many times do I fret and worry over a stubborn piece of hair that refuses to go the way it should? How many times do I go through multiple outfits in the morning because I just cannot seem to find something that makes me feel good about how I look that day? How much time do I spend doing my makeup or painting my nails?

God created us in His image and wants us to care for our bodies. There is nothing wrong with taking care of our appearance so as to look nice for our husbands, to look professional when going to work, or to dress up for Mass on Sunday. But our primary focus should not be on our appearance. We should not worry so much about how we look, and instead focus our attention on the other qualities people can see in us. Rather than hoping for a compliment on a new dress or hairstyle, we should be praying that people notice the light of Christ and His love within us! I pray that St. Rose might help me to remember that beauty is more than what we see and that my focus should always be on Christ.

Another way St. Rose inspires me is her ability to help others in whatever way she could. She did not join the convent but instead found ways to help others from her home. There is always a way to help out. Whether through prayer, volunteer work, or donations. Just because I am not called to the religious life or to become a missionary, I am still called to serve those around me. We all are! As Christians we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ to those around us. Despite suffering in her own life, St. Rose found a way to serve those around her in whatever way she could. I pray that St. Rose might guide me to find ways I can serve those around me as well.

What drew you to choose your Confirmation name and how has your choice influenced your faith life? I may have thought I chose the name Rose because it sounded nice, but I know God led me to choose her for more than that. Despite the many differences in her life and in my own, she is still an inspiration to me. God drew me to St. Rose because of her name. And through her life, St. Rose is drawing me closer to God.

*biographical information on St. Rose of Lima from American Catholic.org

 

God Bless America

800px-US_Flag_BacklitTomorrow is the 4th of July and here in the United States of America, it is Independence Day.  It will be a day filled with parades, cookouts, family gatherings, and fireworks lighting up the night sky.  Songs like the “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America” will ring out and American flags will be proudly displayed.

As we enjoy our picnics and fun times, tomorrow should also be a time to reflect in prayer.  America was founded as “one nation under God.”  God has always been a part of our country.  Certainly with religious freedom not everyone must worship the same way or even worship at all.  But God has always been there.  284px-Rocky_Mountain_National_Park_in_September_2011_-_Glacier_Gorge_from_Bear_Lake

We have beautiful landscapes surrounding us.  From the Atlantic to Pacific, the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico.  From the Rocky Mountains, to the Grand Canyon.  The Appalachian Mountains to the Redwood Forest.  The hand of God is certainly visible in this beautiful country.

Lately it seems that God is being taken out of America.  Under the guise of freedom, America is turning less to God and more towards man. America is a wonderful country filled with many, many people who know and love the Lord.  The media tries to make it seem like we are the minority.  But we are not.  God may not make the nightly news, but He is still present here in America.  People can try to take God away but they will never succeed.

This year, as we celebrate the 4th of July, I pray that all Americans turn once again to the Lord who created this beautiful land and who watches over us all.  I pray that the Christians here in America take a stand for what is right and just.  That we will work together to grow in faith and inspire others to know the Lord.  I pray that tomorrow as we watch fireworks bursting in the inght sky, we can gather together and truly mean the words we sing,

Fourth_of_July_fireworks_behind_the_Washington_Monument,_1986“While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that’s free,
Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America,
Land that I love,
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home
God bless America, My home sweet home”
 
“God Bless America” by Irving Berlin, 1918

Lives Filled With Wonder

images

Get up, eat breakfast, walk the dog, go to work, come home, walk the dog make dinner, eat dinner, clean up after dinner, go to bed.  Repeat.

Everyone has a daily routine.  Of course from day to day little things happen here and there that change it up a bit.  But for many, the same basic routine day after day begins to feel monotonous.  Sometimes it seems like you get to the end of the week only to look back and think…what did I do this week?   Where did the time go?

Even though our routines may be the same, we cannot allow ourselves to fall into the trap of just going through the daily motions.  Each day, no matter what we accomplish, where we go, who we see, is filled with wonder! We only have to open our eyes to see it all around us.

imagesOur morning routine might seem fairly boring.  It may not seem like there is any wonder in these tiny, seemingly insignificant tasks.  But that is not the case!  The food we have to eat, the toaster we use to make our morning bagels, the refrigerator that keeps our food cold, these are all wonders!  The nature outside, the pets we love so dear, the sun shining, the rain watering, each one of these tiny moments is wonder filled.  Even the simple act of getting out of bed, of having a bed and a roof over our heads.  These wondrous blessings we often take for granted.  But if we look further we can see that even the most boring days are filled with good and wondrous things.

In our lives we have moments where we search for meaning.  We fill our days with tasks and activities to try and give meaning to our lives.  But the truth is, the meaning is life!  The life we have been given and the gifts we have to offer others, that is what gives meaning to the daily routines we have.  Whether you are the head of five different volunteer committees, the head of a major company, or the head of your family. We all have our own individual calling.  One person’s call is not more or less than another person’s.  When we follow the Lord, it is not just the tasks we partake in, is the very way we live our lives!  That is what keeps our daily routine from becoming a boring, monotonous way to eat up time and transforms it into a wonder filled life of adventure in the Lord!

Every generous act of giving, with every perfect gift, is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change”  James 1:17

imagesOur lives are filled with good things.  Even in the tough times, there are countless blessings surrounding us always.  From the tiny petals on a flower, to the shape of the clouds as they move across the sky.  From the smile on your husband’s face when he greets you after a long day at work, to the smile of a stranger on the sidewalk.  Each of these is a perfect gift from God.

God is not hiding from us.  He is surrounding us at every moment of every day!  He did not create us to walk this earth as robots.  He created us to truly live!  To take notice of His love poured out all around us.  To see the blessings He has bestowed upon us and to be filled with the love and joy that comes from them!  He created us to life lived filled with wonder!

We all have a calling.  And with those callings some responsibilities.  We have daily routines we must fulfill.  But as we go through our typical to-do lists, let’s all challenge ourselves to find more in our lives.  Each day, with each seemingly boring task, let us pray that we will take notice of a blessing within that task and use it as a moment to grow closer to God. Open our eyes to the beauty and awe that surrounds us.

Our lived are filled with wonder.  It’s time we start seeing it.

Lay it All Down

4941bd027e19d087c78af653a152eacd“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you” (Psalm 55:22)

A few weeks ago I found myself feeling discouraged.  I was confused, hurt, filled with worry and doubt.  I just couldn’t understand why it was that my prayers had not yet been answered. I found myself in tears and in a vicious circle of thought.  I would pray for help, then worry about what I should do next.  Then pray for an answer to my prayers, followed by a prayer for God’s will, followed by more worry.

Then a different thought popped in my mind.  Lay it all down.  I took a deep breath and prayed but my prayer was different this time.  I told the Lord I could no longer worry about this.  The burden of worrying, wondering, questioning, was too much.  So rather than continue on in this pattern, I told Him I wanted to lay it all down at the foot of the cross. To leave it all fully in His hands.

With this new prayer, the tears stopped instantly.  I felt peace.  I felt calm.  I felt truly at rest.

“Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” (Mt. 11:28)

As the days went on, I felt the same doubts creep back in.  I quickly prayed again to lay this down, to give it to the Lord.  And while I did feel peace, the same feelings kept resurfacing.  I felt frustrated.  I already laid it down!  Why is this still bothering me so?  I didn’t want to worry.  But somehow I kept feeling it creep in.

 “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you. Discipline yourselves, keep alert. Like a roaring lion your adversary the devil prowls around, looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in your faith, for you know that your brothers and sisters in all the world are undergoing the same kinds of suffering. And after you have suffered for a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, support, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 5:7-11)

Jesus has promised us peace.  But that does not mean we are exempt from hardships.  Because of the deep love our Lord has for us, we can cast all our worries His way and He will give us peace and rest.  Even so, in this word we are constantly faced with temptation.  Faced with trials, suffering, worries and fear.  That may never change.  What we can change is the way we react.

We are called to remain steadfast in faith.  To remain strong against the negative thoughts and worries the devil tries to throw our way.  To remember that we are not alone in the trials that we face.  As the weight of the world bears down upon us, we may find ourselves needing to offer our fears, doubts, and sufferings up to Him over and over again.  But no matter how many times we cry out, no matter how heavy the burden we wish to unload, God is always there to fill us with love, hope, joy, and peace.  We just have to lay it all down.

To Fly or to Float * Link to Guest Post

Things have been a bit hectic for me lately and I have not been able to post in awhile.  So instead I am going to send you over to read a wonderful post by my sister!  She is a professional runner and writes about how her faith impacts her personal and professional life.  Hope you enjoy!

To Fly or to Float

Summer is finally here, and after a brutal winter all I want to do is be outside soaking up the sun. I love summer, such a wonderful time for relaxing, refreshing and reflecting. Growing up, one of my favorite summer pastimes was floating around on an inner tube in the pool in our backyard. Those lazy summer days the heat would zap me of my energy, but it didn’t matter much because that was before I had obligations such as 6pm high school cross country practice or taking online summer classes. Back then summer consisted mostly of “floating” through life without a worry in the world.

All Your Heart

He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”(Matthew 22:37-39)

To love the Lord with all our heart, all our soul, all our mind. And on top of that, to love our neighbors too? How can we be expected to love with all our hearts and then have anything left over for our neighbor? What if we run out of room to love?

imageI remember as a child being asked in school to complete a worksheet with a giant outline of a heart by filling it in with the things you love. This seemingly fun activity stressed me out. I knew God was supposed to fill most of it. I knew family should fill a big chunk. But how much? What if I made half of the heart for God and then ran out of room for all my family members? What if God had too small a portion? What if I forgot cousins or grandparents or friends? And shouldn’t I give my Mom and Dad a bigger chunk than a friend? Oh the stress of this simple worksheet was agonizing!

This simple task was too difficult to complete because our hearts are not one size. Sure the physical human heart may only grow to a certain size. But our soulful hearts, the ones that express love and emotion; those are not stuck in any one size. There is always room for that heart to grow. And grow it does! When we fill our hearts first and foremost with love for God, our ability to love others grows.

Love comes from God. It is not possible to have love without God, for God is love! (1 Jn 4:8). People will try to say that they feel love without God in their lives, but the truth is that even though some may not realize it, God’s love is still within them. “We love, because He first lived us.” (1 Jn 4:19). It is by the love of our Father that we were created; each human being as a unique individual in the image of God. It is by His love that He sent His Son to show us what it means to truly love one another. And it is by that same love that death has been conquered in the Risen Christ!

To love the Lord with all that we have should be the easiest thing we do. After all, we have Him to thank for every blessing we have. We have Him to thank for our very lives, for our loved ones, for saving us from sin and death! How could we give Him anything but our total and complete selves?

The world wants us to think of our hearts like that worksheet. Static. Small. Only capable of so much. The world tells us that if we love the Lord too much, how will we focus on our jobs? What will we do about money? If we give our whole selves to God, how will our friends, co-workers, family members react? If we are spending so much time with God, what about everything else we need to do in a day? Cleaning, chores, studying, cooking, working, paying bills, buying new things, keeping the yard looking nice. There’s so much to do! So we tell ourselves we are just too busy to give it all to Christ. We have too many other things filing up that heart and God can only fit into a certain section.

But if we allow God’s love to fill us up and if we take the time to return that love to Him, something amazing will happen. Those worksheet lines that try to hold our love in check will break open. The heart doesn’t just grow another size. The boundaries don’t just expand. They become limitless! There is no end to the love that God has for us. When we open ourselves up to the fullness of His love, there is no end to the love we can give!