From Death into Life

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Second week of Lent. Family altar

Good morning fellow Mom:

I hope your Lent is going well.

As I look at the week past from Ash Wednesday to this day; I wonder if I can keep up my Lenten promise.  Will I sustain this momentum?

It will be so if I can keep up the daily reminder that God and I are in a relationship to become a better person.

For so many years I have carried around so much weight; emotionally, spiritually. There are so many whys, but the most important one is the one I hear from so many moms: I am just a mom.

My Hubby and I at our Godson’s Baptism. My weight says: “Don’t look at me”.

 

The Most Dangerous Words: “I’m JUST a Mom”: Understanding the Power of Language to Limit or Lift You

I may be a spiritual director, working with moms, but like many of the moms I understand the struggles they feel because I have felt them as well, lived them as well.

Lent is about preparing to become that new person.  If I don’t or can’t keep it up, what does that mean for me?  It means that I am not yet ready to commit to the new person God has been calling me to be.  If I can’t, does that mean God will hate me? No, of course not.  God invites, invites, invites until we say yes.

It means that somehow this life I have created, the old life, is giving me more rewards than the work it is taking to be the new me.  It means that laziness, which is also a form of hiding, is trying to keep me a prisoner of my thoughts of worthlessness.  I have to pray daily to God to help me keep going, not just for this Lent but for the rest of my life.

He wants the best for us.  He sees moms as powerful women: I have to think of Mary.  God is the ultimate cheerleader, guide, teacher, supporter.  The work is hard, but God knows that when I am done, died to my old self, and successful He will be so excited that He got to work so hard with me to become new.

 

Prefect Fit

Abuse
Abuse

I found this tweet on my timeline and thought: “How perfect a fit is this for the Gospel of today!”

The Gospel today is filled with ways we break covenant with our neighbours by judging harshly, calling them fool; and when we break this covenant with them, we break it with God MT 5:20-26

Although it can be painful at times, it’s a beautiful treasure to have people who will speak truth into your life. Accountability is a gift.

 

This is cow

Fellow moms, did you ever play a game where you made believe that your children’s dolls, stuffed animals were “real”?

When our twinnies where in Kindergarten to second grade while they were at school I would arrange their favourite dolls so that they looked like they were reading books, or playing jacks with each other, or colouring quietly on the floor.  Just recently our youngest twinnie confessed to me that that would “freak her out”.  As a young girl she had come to believe that her dolls were alive and would listen at the door to see if they would be talking to each other or moving around, if she heard nothing she would go in; but then she worried that they were laying in wait for her.

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The infamous Cow

But our other daughter, the eldest twin, she loved it!  Well, just recently our eldest twinnie has brought that early tradition back with Cow.  Here is Cow —->.

A few days ago I found Cow on my computer in my office, then at my place at the dining room table, so I put cow by our eldest’s college textbooks as if she was reading them, then put our daughter’s hat on Cow. This morning I found Cow in the pocket of my coat as I was searching for my keys as I was out the door for Mass.

It made me smile to pull Cow out as I muttered to myself: “What is this!”

This got me to thinking, being Lent and all and seeing that as a spiritual director my mind will just go this way, of the spiritual about this little game.

Each time we play this game we are forced to seek Cow out; as we are called to seek God out.  Cow is hidden from our view, we have no idea where Cow is or where Cow will “pop” up, so it is a mystery. Just as God is a mystery in our lives and we have no “real” idea where He will pop up.

But when we find Him, when we pull Him out of His ever present “hiding place”, that place right before our eyes; aren’t we pleased when that happens?  Don’t we exclaim in wondered tones: “What is this!  Oh, its God!”

How can you NOT love this man!!!

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I ADORE Pope Francis. Just look at this picture! This man is so in love with his faith, his church, his God that the joy just beams out of his face! That is the face of a true follow of Christ!

Do you agree or what?

Alpha

dreamstime_xxl_26795783Dearest Mom, I know its kinda late in the day to be blogging way but I wanted to get this out into the blogosphere before I forgot it.

Yesterday I started a course at a local Catholic Parish, (not my home parish), called Alpha, click here to view the site and learn more about the program.  Now Alpha is a nondenominational exploration of Jesus Christ the man, teacher, and Saviour.

I have been through many courses on Christology, Scripture, Dogma, as a spiritual director so I am not sure what to make of this course.  I was invited to come by friends of mine at this other parish, and I was very excited to go.  It is one of my Lenten promises to become more involved with my community.  As some of you may remember I spent quite a bit of time gathering little chicks under my wing to keep them from the trauma drama that going on in our home.  I stopped all contact with the outside world: no woman’s group, prayer group, going out with friends.  I did what I had to do, but when I was home, I was home.

When this course was suggested I thought why not and went.  Ah but God does enjoy pushing me out of my comfort zone and He surely did that last night.

As with most of these parish group courses you watch a video and then go back to a discussion group and discuss the video. And like these parish discussion group there is a wide range of spirituality; and that is where God really pushed me and pushed me hard.

In our group there people who are very pessimistic.  They can not see the beauty of God, or feel God’s presence, His work within the world.  There was one woman who wished/prayed that God would send the flood again to destroy the earth….really, really.  If we are praying and wishing such things are we not disobeying our baptismal vows of working WITH the mission of Christ in bringing hope to the hopeless, freedom for the oppressed.  Am I wrong in saying that we MUST be the change we want in the world?

These things trigger me and it is something I must learn to control.  It brings me right back to living with my mom and dealing with other family members whose first response to anything was worry and not just fear of the future, but sheer panic!  Panic that was so crippling that it affected the whole family; causing my father to be so angry, to terrify the children and to making the atmosphere of the home heavy, dark and hopeless.

Its that hopelessness that is so soul sucking!  Why would you want to do anything, believe in God, work for change when your whole life view is life sucks then you die!  That very world view is what I contend is the work of the devil.  So, am I saying that these women in my discussion group are the devil, no.  What I believe God is saying to me is be patient, not everyone is in the same place, and some are seeing God through lens coloured by lives filled with pain; as I well know from my own experience.

So, was/am I being the devil?  In many important ways yes I was/am.  If I can not let people journey as they must to find God then I am blocking them from lessons and opportunities that God has planned for THEM. He isn’t asking me for help with HIS job!  And while I may have come to know that life is filled with miracles even in the most difficult of times, others may not see it that way and to deny them their personal experience of God is sinful on my end; it is my trying to control them and control their relationship with God, and that is sin of arrogance and pride.

Next week when I go into my small group I will confess my sins and ask for their forgiveness.

 

Occasion of sin, or I know why people give up Facebook and Twitter for Lent

I know why people give up Twitter and Facebook for Lent


Twitter, (and Facebook),can be great fun, but we haveto be very careful what we share and with whom we share it.  It is far too easy to get into these little Twitter wars.  People have very strong opinions and they can easily be misunderstood, or your responsecan be perceived as damaging to their issue and you both start hurling Tweets that are hurtful, insulting and bullying – that is where the sin comes in.

I have found I have several Twitter triggers:

One, those who have some grudge and use Twitter, (and Facebook) to voice it.  

Those are the Tweets that get me in the most trouble.  I get caught up in “trying to help”, but what I am really doing is trying to force someone to see things my way.  It is something that brings me back to highschool when I was always putting my nose into other people’s business, and not letting them do what was right for them.  It is a dangerous thing and it leaks into all my relationships.  I want to come in and say: “Do this because I said so.” Wanting to be superior is not loving nor is it Christ like. So, I am on my knees about that.

Two, those Tweeters who are a little “out there”

This one shames me terribly.  Again I am driven back to high-school when as one of the popular girls I loved bullying the ones who seemed just a little “out there”.  I thought it was fun to do so.  It wasn’t.  It was petty and mean.  So, when I am on Twitter, (Facebook), and find myself in the middle of posts that are suddenly getting a little weird, I turn into mean girl and start bullying.  Now my bullying is never outright but its definitely there. I have to stop tweeting/facebooking them, and immediately pray about why do I have to be so mean.  What is driving me to want to tear someone down for “fun?”.

Three, those Tweeters who believe they are all that and a bag of crisps.

They get my goat and I want to knock them down several pegs.  But is that my job to go around with a virtual axe and try and take them out at the knees.  No.  But I want to, I really, really want to. So, when I feel that bile raising I have to get off and calm down; it’s not my fight and maybe it never is going to be.

These three occasion for sin are God is calling me to discern.  It is the HUGE spiritual questions of how my actions towards them, my thoughts about them and my reaction to them can and do great damage to people who don’t’ deserve it.  I will face people like these in my life and I must learn how to treat them as Christ did/does and always will.  It’s not easy.  It is not my job to be God, He never asked me to take over, but I want to, I really, really, really want to. I could say its from the example of my mom and others in my life, but come on, that is a childish deflection!

Sure we all have learned bad habits from people we love, but there comes a time when all that stops and you got to look yourself in the mirror and have that Come To Jesus Chat with that reflection staring back at you.  God in His infinite wisdom isn’t going to condemn us, no, I think we do a fine job of that ourselves.  No, God is there when the conscience starts to pick and you realize what you are doing.  That is when God starts asking you/me the hard questions.  The questions that are meant to dig deep and release whatever spiritual garbage that is down deep in our soul so we can release and get on with the job of loving.

Pray for me and I will pray for you.

 

How do you view Lent

My fellow moms how do you view Lent?  Is it punitive, redemptive or a combination of both?

Before I had children Lent was an exercise that I did to just get through.  As a child I would give up the usually things: candy, soda, and by week two I would have broken my promise and that was that; not another thought given to it.  Becoming older, high-school or so, I would go through periods of being very faith filled.  Lent was an exercise I did because I wanted to be  “holy”, but truthfully I had no idea what that meant.  College found Lent was more of a nuisance than a spiritual practice.  I think it was because at the time I was growing up Lent was more punitive than redemptive.  More Fire and Brimstone than Love and Healing.  I just could not respond to that.  It hurt too much.

When I married and we started having children my view of Lent changed.  I viewed, and try to have my children view, Lent as more about positive changes that will connect you to God and your nieghbour.  Our eldest two boys, (29 and 24 respectively) still observed Lent as a time to give something up.  I always encouraged them to add something: a good work, prayer time; but I was one of few mothers in my group of friends who encouraged that.  Our twinnies were being taught to see Lent as a time of reconnection, renewal of their relationship with God.

Spiritual Self Esteem Introduction Card
Spiritual Lives of Women ©

I came to believe more and more in the addition of things that helped your spiritual life. It fit in with my husband and my parenting philosophy, that love and guidance with good consequences did more to change and help a person grow that fire and brimstone which often made a person shut down emotionally and spiritually.

I don’t see God as vindictive.  Jesus always treated those who came to him with gentleness and compassion.  So, why should we view Lent as anything other than a time of gentleness and compassion?

For me it just makes Lent more Christ-like, more genuine.

Lent to me has become more communal.  Lent is more about giving in to God than giving up.

The Gremlins of the soul

English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions
English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fellow mom how has your day begun?  I wish I had spent more time in bed sleeping well than just sleeping.  I stayed up way too late out of sheer rebellion and this morning I am paying for that.  But it is like Father said at morning Mass: Lent is a time to move forward not be stuck in the past.  It’s a time to fight the spiritual gremlins.  The readings today speaks of that fight.  Jonah going to Nineveh and transforming the whole city down to the animals, and Jesus referring to that very story when describing this generation as an evil generation

I love the Rector at the Cathedral!  He said that we were not to read these words as Jesus pointing fingers and saying to each of us: “you wicked person”, no.  Jesus was reminding each of us that EVERY generation has to deal with evil.  What popped into my mind was the movie Gremlins.  In the movie you were not to feed the cute little mogwai, (per-sin state) after midnight, (nagging of the devil), or it would turn into a nasty, nasty gremlin.

Lent is about fighting those spiritual gremlins.  When our children were little I wanted them to have more control over their emotional states, to use emotions in strength, not having them be controlled by their emotions.  So when they would begin to whine I would say to them: “Oh honey, I am so sorry but whining time is over!”  They would look at me as if to say: “OK, there must be a time to whine but its not now.” Every once in a while I would announce that whining time was now and if they had anything to whine about this was the time to do it.  Never once did the children have anything to whine about.

I introduced the boys to Angry Bear as a visual to controlling their anger.  The bear would grow as their anger grew and the object was to show us, mom and dad, where angry bear was and how we could make him a cuddly cub again.

For the girls the Harry Potter series was just becoming available and they were at an age when some of the concepts like Dementors, (devil trying to take away our joy and replace with sin and sorrow), and how we could combat, pray, thinking of a pleasure thing, AND a helpful person who can protect you, (Jesus, Guardian Angel, Mom, Dad) were being introduced. (I know moms, there are some of you who say that Harry Porter is about witchcraft so therefore is sinful, but I look to Saint John Paul II who loved the books and found them to be a source of spiritual goodness, and I felt good about having the children read them.)

Now we are dealing with very early adults/late teens and adult children.  For our adult boys, the tools have become crystallized.  For our twinnie girls, there is still work to be done.  Sometimes you have to say to yourself: “Alright, enough already!  get the gremlins, dementors, angry bears under control, or they are going to control you!”