Tag Archives: God’s Love

Enough

After a few years of dealing with infertility, it can seem like there are two options available: continue to pursue medical treatment or begin the process to adopt. In reality there is also a third option and it is the option my husband and I have decided to take at this point.   And that is, basically, to do nothing.

Some might say that given what the doctors have said this doesn’t make any sense. Some might say that if we really wanted a baby we would do something more proactive at this point. Some might just shake their head in a sad fashion with a look that seems to say “so you’ve given up?”

And that could not be further from the truth. I still long desperately to be a mother. I still pray daily that it will happen. But after years of trying this treatment or that, we simply said “enough.” Enough tests, enough medication, enough stress, enough of the medical appointments (and bills that go along with them).

While adoption is a wonderful calling, it is just that: a calling. Not something that is a “last resort” option to have children. Despite how much we want a child, we simply do not feel the call to adopt. Deep in our hearts, we both still strongly feel that we will conceive and we will have our baby. And so we will continue to pray, continue to trust, continue to hope, and continue to wait.

I used to worry about what we would do when we reached this point. I would grow panicked at the thought of being able to do absolutely nothing else. But now that we are here? Now that we have made this decision? I feel immense peace about it. I know in my heart we will be parents. And I truly believe that we will become parents through conception. Even still, as we sit back and wait, we will continue to pray for God’s will to be made clear and to trust that if His will is something different, He will make it known to us.

We are not giving up hope, but we are giving up control. At the end of the day, it is God who creates life. Our decision to do nothing is a decision to fully give it to God. While I have said to myself before that we give this up to the Lord, a part of me still held onto control. A part of me felt that I had to try all my options. And I am glad that I did. I learned things about my overall health and got my body back on track. But now, I feel very comfortable with the decision to let go of it all and leave it fully in His hands.

A year ago today, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I made my first Marian consecration following the 33 Days to Morning Glory retreat. It was an important step in my faith and one that has led me closer and closer to Christ. The consecration calls me to give everything I have and everything that I am to Jesus through Mary. It calls me to relinquish all control and to trust in the everlasting goodness and mercy of our Lord. It may have taken me a year, and I certainly still have a ways to go, but I feel that on this anniversary of my consecration, I am truly ready in my heart to let go and give it all up to Him.

Today also marks the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. To celebrate this, my church is holding a Bible study on Divine Mercy throughout the Old and New Testaments. Our first session was last night. To open the session, we listened to Matt Maher’s song “Your Grace Is Enough” and discussed how God’s grace, God’s mercy, is truly the heart of our faith. Pope Francis said in his Angelus address today, “Mercy is the key-word of the Gospel” and that “we should not be afraid: we should allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God, who waits for us and forgives everything.”

Today, at the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, while celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the anniversary of my first Marian consecration, I am ready to stop being afraid, to give it all up to God, and to allow His rich mercy to surround me and fill my soul. In deciding to do nothing, I feel that we are leaving ourselves open to everything. He has a plan for us, one that while I may not yet understand it, I know in my heart will be far greater than what I could come up with on my own. I am ready to really immerse myself in His mercy and let my heart be open to His will in my life. Because His mercy, His love, His grace is enough.

The Spirit is Willing

rose-655361_640Each year as we reflect upon the Passion of the Lord during Holy Week, I am filled with resolve to be a better person.  To turn away from sin and to fill my life with all that is holy.  To think of the pain Christ endured because of my sins makes me yearn to never sin again.

And yet, as wonderful as it would be to say that since last Easter, I have not sinned, that is certainly not the case.  Although in my heart I firmly intend to turn away from sin, in my soul I long to be closer to the Lord, I am still only human.

Thinking about our sins and our failings in light of the sacrifice Jesus made for us is one thing.  What would it have been like to be there?  We sing the words, “Oh  sometimes it causes me to tremble, were you there when they crucified my Lord?”  And while we journey alongside Christ through prayer and the Mass, we were not there.  But the apostles were.  They followed Him, learned from Him, left everything for Him.  They loved Him deeply and in their hearts they were so filled with resolve to follow Him always, never to sin again.

We hear the apostles one by one almost pleading with Jesus to not be the betrayer, “Surely it is not I?” (Mk 14:19)  We hear Peter promising the Lord that “Even though all should have their faith shaken, mine will not be” (Mk 14:29) and “Even though I should have to die with you, I will not deny you.” And they all spoke similarly. (Mk 14:31)  They ate with Him and listened to Him as He told them of His coming death, even while their hearts did not fully understand.  They followed Him to Gethsemane to be with Him while He prayed and stayed there to keep watch as He asked.  And then, in their final moments with the Lord, they fell asleep.

Jesus comes to Peter saying, “Simon, are you asleep? Could you not keep watch for one hour? Watch and pray that you may not undergo the test. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.”  (Mk 14:37-38)  Despite His words, twice more Jesus returned to find them asleep.  Though their hearts were in the right place, they could not bring themselves to stay awake!

After Jesus is arrested,  although Peter proclaimed His dedication to the Lord and was determined never to deny Him, we know that he does just that. Not once, not twice, but three times does he deny even knowing Jesus.  After this the Gospel tells us that Peter “broke down and wept”. (Mk 14:72)

Peter was not just a bystander who listened to Christ from a distance.  He had dedicated his whole life to Christ!  He had boldly answered Christ,You are the Messiah.” (Mk 8:29)  And while his spirit was so very willing to follow Christ no matter the cost, he still fell to sin.  Though his spirit was willing, his flesh was weak.  Weak with fear, confusion, and exhaustion.

But Peter’s story does not end here.  Despite the weakness of his flesh, despite his failings and sin, his spirit was still willing!  He wept at the realization of what he had done.  He resolved once again to try harder, to follow more closely, to turn away from sin and live a holy life dedicated to the Lord. The Lord knew that He could do great things through Peter.  Jesus said, “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” (Mt 18:18)

Jesus knew that the willingness of Peter’s spirit would prevail against the weakness of his fleas.  Peter’s story is not one of despair, but one of hope and of great mercy and grace.  Despite his failings, Peter allowed the Lord to work within him.  He repented of his sins and did not let his past failings prevent him from continuing on in Christ.

As we celebrate our Lord’s passion this week we call to mind our own sinfulness.  While we are called to repent and turn from sin, sometimes our flesh is weak.  During these moments of weakness, we do not need to despair.  Our God is loving and merciful beyond our understanding and His grace is more than we can fathom.  When we find that we have failed, we need only to ask forgiveness, turn away from sin, and return fully to His endless love.  We are not held back by past failings but are renewed in Christ.  Though our flesh may be weak, if our spirits are willing He can still work within us to draw us ever closer to Him and to share in His love.

How Much Does God Love Us?

I am currently teaching the 2nd grade CCD class at my church. I began halfway through the year when the regular teacher fell and needed someone to step in until she recovers. I was a bit nervous at first since it has been a few years since I taught. But in the month and a half I have been teaching them, I have been reminded how much I love it and how much we can learn from the little ones.

Yesterday during class I asked the children how much God loves each one of us. One student held their hands out as wide as possible. One said “a lot!” And then one student said,

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God’s love is so wondrous, so amazing, so infinite. He loves us so very much. Enough to forgive us time and time again. Enough to look beyond our faults and see the person He created each and every one of us to be. Enough to give His Son to show us the way and die for us.

There are many things we do not understand. Many things in this life that can bring us down and make us feel lonely, scared, angry, confused or sad. But greater than all those things is the love of the Lord. So many times we try to find the answers to the things that trouble us. We want explanations. We want all of it to make sense. There are things we will never understand in this life. The one thing we can all understand is love.

Despite the troubles we may face, we can find peace in our lives when we fill our hearts, our minds, and our souls with the love of the Lord. When we find ourselves feeling overwhelmed or discouraged, we need only to focus on this overflowing and everlasting love that God has for each one of us. A love so deep and strong we cannot fathom it. A love more grand than all the stars in the whole sky.

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The Cross and The Eucharist

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son,
so that everyone who believes in him might not perish
but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:16-17

Yesterday we heard these words as a part of our Gospel reading at Mass. It was the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and hearing these familiar verses emphasized just how important the cross is. Before Christ’s crucifixion, the cross was a symbol of death and cruelty. And if the story ended at the crucifixion and death of Jesus, the cross would mean nothing. But the story did not end! Jesus rose from the dead and conquered sin and death, forever opening the way to eternal life with Him and the Father in heaven. The crucifix and the empty cross serve as symbols of the immense love God has for us.

As we were preparing to receive communion during Mass, I opened my hymnal to join in our communion song and was surprised to see the music choice: “Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?” While I love the hymn, I am used to singing it solely during the Lenten season. But as I listened and joined my voice in our sung prayer, I could not think of a better song for the moment.

During Lent, I sing this song and find myself meditating on what Our Lord went through at Calvary.  Meditating on His sorrow and pain and the incredible fact that He did it all willingly for us.  Certainly a worthwhile and emotional meditation, but it was in a past tense.  The song lyrics, “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” drew my meditation to the past.  Singing this hymn outside its typical Lenten context and during Communion gave it a whole new meaning.

“When you look at the Crucifix, you understand how much Jesus loved you then. When you look at the Sacred Host you understand how much Jesus loves you now.”  – Blessed Mother Teresa

The Holy Eucharist is a beautiful mystery beyond comprehension or explanation.  It is the full presence of Christ, of His crucifixion and death.  It encompasses His love in a way we cannot fathom.  This most Blessed Sacrament brings us to Calvary, to the foot of the cross, to our Savior in a way far more personal than we might even realize.

The Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross draws our attention to the beauty and love that is held within the cross.  By singing this hymn, it connected this wonderful Feast to the Eucharist in a way I was not anticipating but that truly resonated with me.  The love that is spoken of in John 3:16, the love that resulted in Our Lord’s sacrifice to us in the crucifixion, the love that we see in the empty cross as a symbol of the Resurrection and conquering of evil and death, that love is still present to us here today.  We can feel the love of the Lord within us, surrounding us, and in others.  That love is felt so strongly and shared so miraculously with us through the Blessed Sacrament.

“Were you there when they crucified my Lord?  Oh sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.  Were you there when they crucified my Lord?”

While we may not have been there some 2,000 years ago for the actual crucifixion, through the mystery of the Eucharist, we are united with Christ in that moment.  And that surely is a cause to tremble.

 

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!

Giving Thanks to God

“O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
for his steadfast love endures forever”    ~Psalm 107:1

With Thanksgiving only days away, everyone seems to be more grateful than usual.  People focus more on counting their blessings and take time out of their schedule this week to remember the good things they have. 

This year I am reminded that our blessings are not only in the things we have, but also in what we “lack.”  God gives all good things to us and answers all our prayers in His perfect timing. 

Last year at this time I had just starting praying for a family.  I was convinced that by this time, we would  be blessed with a baby or at the very least be pregnant!  But God has other plans.  I may not understand them, but I am called to trust in His perfect timing and be thankful that I have a God who loves me so much.

When we want to have a child so much, it can be easy to look at the situation and feel we are lacking something.  It is hard to see how this could possibly be a blessing.  But God’s ways are not our own and He has a plan far greater than we could imagine.  Our God is good and His love is everlasting.  How can we doubt Him?

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:6-7

When we ask our Heavenly Father for something, we are called to ask with open hearts, with sincere thanksgiving for all that we have been given and for the ultimate love He has for us.  When we pray, we should always be thankful and praise His name, for the love and peace of God surrounds us and comforts us even in the things we cannot seem to understand.

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my wonderful husband, my loving parents, my amazing sisters, and my whole family.  I am thankful for our little dog, for our home, our food, our jobs, our freedom.  And I am thankful most of all for our God and His astounding love and mercy.  For His wisdom and His plan for us – even when we can’t see it.

I may not know when we will have a child. And I will certainly continue to pray that God blesses us with a little one soon!  But this Thanksgiving, I am choosing to see our situation as a blessing.  While we may not have a child yet, we have been blessed with wonderful time together as husband and wife and our relationship with each other and with God has strengthened. 

There is a reason we do not have a child yet.  Maybe someday we will know that reason.  Maybe not.  But I do know that whatever happens, God’s love and peace will always be with us.  And that is a blessing that cannot be measured and that I will forever be thankful for.