Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Precious Souls

     When we think about Christmas, often certain Christmas carols come to mind.

     When I was a little girl, I had two favorite songs. The first was “Away in the Manger.”

     I so loved that song! The fact that little Jesus had no crib on which to lay, made me feel so sad for Him, and for Our Lady and St. Joseph, who surely wanted somewhere special to lay Him.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Gift of Yourself

      My time of preparation during Advent, had been a wonderful journey, except for one day as Christmas drew near and I allowed my “to do” list to send me into a panic!

     Realizing this was an attack from the evil one to take away my peace, I took a deep breath, said a prayer and did the next task that needed to be done, and then the next, and the next and the next. Soon, God’s peace returned to me, and I was back on the road to Bethlehem with Mary and Joseph.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Rocky, Bumpy Road to Bethlehem

     “Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with the worries of this life.”   
                                                                                                          Luke 21:34


     Thanksgiving was behind me.

     Advent was quickly approaching.

     My prayer: My God, on what do You want me to focus in order for my heart and mind to be ready for Jesus on Christmas morning?

     You may not realize it, but I like to have a plan and not waste any time, whipping myself into spiritual shape. God knew what He was doing in not having me born during the times of hair shirts and self-flagellation!

     Each time I brought this thought to prayer, I got the sense that God wanted me to work on becoming gentler and more patient ABOUT myself. “That’s a novel thought. Doesn’t sound too difficult! Maybe it’s not from God… I’ll keep asking.”

     But the answer did not change. It remained the same: be gentler with yourself and more patient. “Hmm. I guess this IS what He wants.”

     As I thought and prayed about God’s answer, it became clear that the past twenty-two months have been pretty intense. Truth be told, as I pondered more fully, it became evident that I have not given myself a break! When my different faults and foibles were revealed to me in either prayer, or in life situations, I was sent into a panic! It was all up to me to change, and to do it quickly! I went to work, doing I what I could to remedy my behavior. I expected far too much from myself and wanted to eradicate the imperfections that I saw right then and there. I searched for books to help, spent time in prayer and talked to family members and friends. I also spent time before Our Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, hoping He would heal me of all my brokenness. I wanted to fix it, take control of the situation and become that woman God has called me to be from all eternity, without any more delay!

     To my surprise, this is not the route God is purposing. God is calling me to slow down. Take a deep breath and accept both His help, as well as His timing. He is calling me to stop the frantic pace of having to be perfect. Perfection was not His idea, but mine. Ugh!

     Why was I trying so hard? After all, intellectually, I knew I was far from perfect, but when all of my imperfections were revealed to me, my reaction said otherwise. I didn’t want to take the slow, sometimes painful, long road and journey to change. I wanted to be on the fast track and just arrive. Well, maybe not just arrive. I was willing to do the hard work that was involved, but I wanted it to be over in a timely fashion.

     Unbeknown to me, I had let my heart get weighed down with the worries of my life, trying to fix myself. I am not the Potter, He is!

     God has impressed on my heart that becoming THAT woman, will take a lifetime and possibly, some time in purgatory as well! It will take my cooperation, but is His work and timeline. I still need to be alert to His promptings and grace, and open myself to His design.

     This will still involve prayer, receiving the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance, time before the Blessed Sacrament, asking for His healing for my own woundedness, spiritual reading, as well as speaking with family and friends about cares and concerns, as they present themselves. I will still try to practice all the lessons He has taught me these past number of months and stay His course. But my attitude with my effort will be quite different. I will stop trying so hard, believing it is ALL UP TO ME! I will also have to remind myself that I do not have the timeline by which it HAS to happen! Only the good Lord knows when He will be calling me home.

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    As Advent begins, please join me on a journey. I am traveling with Mary and Joseph. Mary is very pregnant with my sweet Jesus, so I cannot be in a hurry. I must go at their pace and not my own.

     I will spend time speaking with St. Joseph, seeking the wisdom of his good counsel and direction. I will turn to him when I’m unsure of which direction to take. With his gifts, wisdom and manly care, the Holy Family arrived at their destination. He will help me to do the same.

     When I’m feeling weary of the journey, I will climb up on the donkey with Mary, and wrap my arms around Her. I’ll allow myself to be comforted by Her words, as well as The Word, safe within Her womb. I’ll speak to Her, heart to Heart, as one does to such a precious Mother. I’ll let Her nurture me with Her presence, as well as the presence of Her Son.

     This Advent, and hopefully beyond, I will allow myself the luxury, of slowing down and being gentler and patient with myself. I will breath in God’s love and acceptance of Whose I am, receiving it, so I can become who He sees when He looks so lovingly at me.

     I will try my best not to allow my heart to be weighed down by the worries and burdens of life, and instead, make room for Jesus to reside there.

     “May the God of peace Himself make you perfectly holy and my you entirely, spirit, soul, and body, be preserved blameless for the coming of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and He will also accomplish it” (2 Thes:23-24).
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    
    

Sunday, November 18, 2018

With Gratitude

     “When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.”                
                                                                                                       G. K. Chesterton


     Taking things for granted, is such an easy way to live.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Bigger than the Hard Thing

     I can’t believe that it’s November already, but the fact that it’s been almost two months since I’ve posted on Avia Joy startles me!

     Life has been anything but “normal” these days. It seems that on many fronts, what used to be familiar and “automatic pilot” has become unfamiliar and more challenging.

Monday, September 10, 2018

So Many Grains of Wheat!

     “We know that all things work for good for those who love God” (Rm 8:28).

      ALL things! Not just good things or some things – God’s Word clearly states ALL things!

     As I sat in the chapel during a retreat, I allowed those words to penetrate and saturate my mind and heart. I desperately wanted and needed to believe that statement at this particular time. I have been having a difficult time lately with needed changes within myself – new changes in my behavior and with my reactions!

Saturday, August 4, 2018

New Wine ~ His Wine

     “In the crushing, in the pressing, You are making new wine. In the soil, I now surrender, You are breaking new ground. So I yield to You and to Your careful hand. When I trust You I don’t need to understand.
     “Make me Your vessel. Make me Your offering. Make me whatever You want me to be. I came here with nothing, but all You have given me. Jesus make new wine out of me.
     “In the crushing, in the pressing, You are making new wine. In the soil, I now surrender, You are breaking new ground. You are breaking new ground.
     “Where there is new wine, there is new power. There is new freedom and the Kingdom is here. I lay down my old flames to carry Your new fire today.”                                                                                                                     Lyrics to “New Wine” by Brooke Lingertwood, Hillsong Music


     Sometimes you have to be careful for what you pray!

     Little did I realize that fact, a year and a half ago, when I asked Jesus, through the intercession of Our Lady of Cana, to turn the water of my marriage into a deep rich wine.

     I was yearning for something more, in my relationship with my husband, as well as my relationship with God. What did I have to lose? It felt like an inspiration from the Holy Spirit, so I made my “infamous” request!

     Although I had no idea just how God would answer my request, I didn’t expect it to be too difficult or grueling. I assumed that He would point out a few ways that my husband needed to change, and several ways for myself. You know, keep it even. Keep it fair!

     Now, in retrospect, I can hear Jesus speaking the words that He uttered to James and John: “You do not know what you are asking. Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?” Mt 20:22.

     Jesus was correct. I DID NOT know what I was asking. I had NO idea that I would be placed under a big microscope and that many flaws that I had, would be pointed out to me, and along with them, the manner in which to change.

     God began to show me just how very poorly and conditionally I loved. Not just my husband, but many others. He then began to show me how I was not able to overcome my faults on many levels, the way I was able to do in the past. He was showing me all my weaknesses and shortcomings. I felt like I was crushed and pressed – maybe even obliterated! If this was the answer to my prayer, I’m not so sure I wanted that deep rich wine anymore!

     I was struggling and suffering in many areas of my life: in my marriage, in relationships with people I loved, in prayer, with God, and many other ways.

      I felt confused, and stuck. I didn’t want to move forward or backward because I wasn’t even sure which direction to head. I felt like I was regressing so very much in my relationship with God and on my spiritual journey. I felt like a failure in so many ways and wasn’t sure which way to turn.

     It was about that time, when all felt lost, that I gave my dear friend, the Carmelite Hermit, a call and shared my dilemma with him.

     To my utter surprise, he told me that I was in a good place. God was in fact, answering my prayer by perfecting me in all the different ways that I was lacking. He told me to be patient with myself and thank God for the work that He was doing in me. Brother told me that for all these years I was self-sufficient, believing it to be a good thing, but it was not.  God wanted me to depend upon Him and not myself. I was to allow God to do what needed to be done and to co-operate with Him in bringing this about. This IS really GOOD news, he told me excitedly! Somehow, I didn’t feel his excitement, but he did shine a glimmer of hope on me.

     In sharing my “good news” with another friend, she sent me the song, “New Wine,” by Hillsong. She told me that this was My Song: This is what has been happening to you since you prayed for new wine. I listened to the song and then printed the words to digest them and let them sink in.

     She was correct! I felt crushed and pressed by all that was happening in my life, but now it all made sense. God was making of me a new wine and I needed to surrender and co-operate. I had to allow Him to work and make an offering of myself and my life so He could change me into whatever He wants me to be.

     I needed to yield to Him and stop demanding that I understand all that was happening, and trust instead. I had to surrender in this new soil that was breaking all around me. It was new wine that He was bringing about, if only I would die to my own will and abandon myself to His.

     This is not an easy thing to do, but I now realize that it is essential! In order for me to be willing to surrender and die, I have to remind myself that “where there is new wine, there is new power, there is new freedom, and the Kingdom is here. I lay down my old flames, to carry Your new fire today.” I want so much, in the deepest part of my heart, the freedom that God wants to offer to me by changing me into that deep rich wine.

    Although I am not yet the “new wine” that I prayed for that evening, I am beginning to smell the aroma of a sweet rich wine. I am not na├»ve, at this point, to think I’ll be sipping that wine anytime soon. I am well aware, that there is still so much in me that needs to be purified and refined – crushed and pressed. I am now a willing grape, to be placed in the winepress until God has produced the best wine.

     I hear Jesus say the promising words, “But I have saved the good wine until now.”

     And I do not want to settle for anything less!