Monthly Archives: February 2015

Step 1 Day 6: Combining Martha and Mary

IMG_4772The world is filled with Marthas, or at least mine seems to be. They are powerhouse women who can do it all. My mom was such a woman, as are most of the women of my own culture. I must admit I’m more like Mary, I’m a contemplative and like nothing better than to just sit by Jesus’ feet…I don’t need much in the way of material things, so it’s easy for me to just stay. So if you are like me, the Lord is speaking to us today. We live in the world and still have much to do here. Yes we need to fill up our core, but then we need to start stepping into it!

We contemplatives need a little more oomph to get us going. Our steps need to be fueled by passion…Holy Spirit passion! We need to do everything as if working for the Lord. Our focus needs to be narrow like a laser beam, which isn’t always an easy thing for those of us who are easily distracted. We need to have a mission to work towards. It seems that everywhere we turn everyone has an agenda, a purpose for what they do…usually it’s to make money, or get power…what if we turned that upside down and started having an agenda too…to do God’s will, to glorify Him!

You may be thinking, “well I don’t even know what I want to do and I’m not hearing from God at the moment so how do I set my agenda?” Well…look at your current commitments. In today’s talk, Fr. Lauer states that our power comes through our vows. What kind of promises have you already made? Honor those. Then step up and listen to what the Lord is leading you into next and commit to THAT! It’s in our faithfulness to little things that more is then given us.

Don’t be afraid of commitment if it is something that the Lord is bringing you to, just be careful that it’s not something of your own making that could possibly land you in a heap of trouble like the example of Samson that Father gives in his talk. My favorite promises that I’ve taken after my Sacramental vows, were my Lay Carmelite Profession and my Consecration to Mary. The grace that they have unleashed in my life is undeniable.

Please listen to Fr. Lauer’s talk over at our LENTEN page.

Have a blessed day everybody. ❤

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Step 1: Day 5: Conviction not SHAME

HOPEYesterday we took a look at creation and how God brought order out of chaos.  We learned that He can still do the same today in our own lives. But, just as creation didn’t stay impeccable in the beginning, it won’t stay that way for us either. We too will continuously sin and fall short of our goals, as Adam and Eve did even in the earliest days of our history. We are like little children, stumbling constantly. What determines the outcome is what we do about it. Let’s take a look at the garden again prior to the fall, Adam and Eve were naked and knew no shame…but after they ate the apple, they ran away when God called them.  They then put on animal skins to hide from their shame. We too have hiding mechanisms, the Lenten season is a good time to try to identify some of them by the way.

How may it have turned out differently if they had turned to God instead of running away from Him? Well, we’ll never know for sure. But one thing we know is that God offers conviction which shows us the way and leads us to healing, the world however is all about condemnation which leads to shame, hiding, further sin and self hatred. You’re not convinced? Take a look at all the shaming that takes place in the public sphere, social networks being a good gauge of the goings on. What is laughable is what they choose to shame people about. This is totally the work of the enemy. The world goes by what is in ‘fashion’, which is what is socially acceptable at the moment…not by any real convictions…so it changes from day to day. Christians are called higher, to go by standards that don’t change. How we interpret those standards may evolve over time, but only to reveal it further, never to contradict it. Such is a life built on God’s truths. So in a sense we are true REBELS. We are called to be in the world but not of it.

Ok so I’ve delivered the bad news, that spanking brand new creation that you’ve been handed is not going to stay that way. Chaos will break out again…and again…and again. If you didn’t already know this, then I’m very sorry to be the one to tell you. However, I also bring you GOOD NEWS. 😉 As many times as you fall…you can get back up. Jesus offers us a ‘reset button’. It is called Reconciliation! No shame, no condemnation…just healing and grace to try again.

Now please go listen to Fr. Lauer’s talk today at my LENTEN page. Please don’t miss this one, it’s really powerful.

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Step 1 DAY 4: Order out of Chaos

imageToday we will take a look at the more practical side of obedience.

In the beginning  God brought forth order out of chaos, He set about creating and ultimately made male and female in His own image. The original plan was for Adam and Eve and their descendants to be in constant relationship with Him. Everything that they ever could need was set before them in the garden. Their only desire was for the One who could truly satisfy them, all they wanted was to be near Him and to do His will. Then sin entered in. The relationship was broken, and as if a spell was put on humanity, a sin induced haze came upon us. We forgot whose we were. We still had desires that needed to be fulfilled…where before the desire itself was focused, with this great breech it seemed to splinter…so many wants and yet no idea of how to fulfill them. We have inherited this great ache. Generation after generation still yearns for something they can’t quite comprehend. We’ve started making ‘gods’ out of things that can never fully satisfy us. Money, sex, power and on and on. But our hearts were created for one thing and one thing alone. God Himself.

If you are like me, sitting there right now with a particular area of your life in chaos…or maybe even multiple areas. There is hope! Jesus is God’s answer to this monumental disarray. Yesterday we saw how obedience to God shows faith in action. That principle applies even to the smallest, most mundane areas of our lives. God doesn’t want to be left out of what is happening with us and to be relegated to Sunday morning visits only. No…remember that He wants a personal and intimate relationship with us. So obedience even in the smallest things, releases our faith and prepares the way for amazing things to take place. He covers us with His grace! Will things always work out the way we want them to, of course not, we don’t always know best. But we trust that He does and that what He allows is indeed for our best.

So the first thing in step 1 in caring for SELF, the temple of the Holy Spirit, is to become aware of the chaos areas of our lives especially as it pertains to our bodies. Are we nourishing our bodies properly, do we get enough exercise, how about rest? If we don’t take good care of ourselves then we might find that the enemy can get at us a lot easier. The acronym HALT, tells us what to be aware of. It suggests that we should never allow ourselves to get too Hungry, too Angry, too Lonely, or too Tired. The Lord can’t bring healing to an area that we are trying to hide from Him or from ourselves. We need to glance at the messes only to acknowledge them and then we must move on. We don’t dwell there, if we are tempted to do so, we know it is coming from the enemy. We move on by giving that area of our lives to the One who best knows how to handle it. We offer it up. We ask for discernment on what steps if any we need to take. Once we get some clarity, then we act on it. That is practical obedience.

Have a blessed day everybody.

Please go listen to Fr. Lauer’s talk for today.

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Step 1: Day 3: Jesus My Lord and Savior

Bike Ride with God

Bike Ride with God

Yesterday we renounced satan, today we will continue renewing our baptismal promises by professing our belief in Jesus.

Sola fide or Faith Alone is a spot of contention between Catholics and many other Christians. As Catholics we believe in GRACE ALONE…but the concept of faith alone is one that can easily be misleading. Some people think that simply believing in Jesus is enough to be saved. But really, even the Devil believed in Jesus. So what makes the difference? Obedience! Here’s a little story to show you the difference.

Many people were watching a famous tightrope walker getting ready to cross Niagara Falls one day. He approached them and asked if they believed he could do this. They had seen him successfully do it many times before, so there was no doubt to his abilities. They cheerfully replied YES!!  Then he asked the crowd if they believed he could take a person across. All answered with another exuberant “Yes.” Then he came to one man and asked him to get on his back and go with him. The man refused!

Did the man believe? Well, it’s one thing to say you do…and its quite another to put your life on the line. As Christians we are asked to put our lives on the line and climb on to Jesus’ back. We are not being told to walk across on our own volition (that would be the works of the flesh that Catholics are often accused of committing), but we can’t stay sitting on the sidelines either. Remember that Jesus honors your free will though and won’t drag you across…but He will keep asking, so don’t worry about lost opportunity. 😉

I often hear the plight of many saying that God doesn’t speak to them or worse, claiming that God doesn’t speak personally to anyone anymore. This is not true! He’s speaking to us all the time. You just need to tune in to the right frequency. You need to be listening. Start by listening to the predominant voice, the voice of His Church…take the steps to obey its teachings…enter into relationship with Him and He will take it from there. All it takes is one small step towards Him, showing Him that you are willing to walk with Him…He will come running for you.

I like the story of the  Bike Ride with God , many self proclaimed Christians are on the road with Jesus (they’ve been Baptized, they may even go to church regularly), but unfortunately He’s in the back seat. They proclaim Him as their savior but He’s definitely not Lord of their lives. For that to happen a switch needs to take place. Jesus needs to be in His rightful place up front .

Please go listen to Fr. Laurel speak about this very subject at my LENTEN page.

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Step 1 DAY 2: Renouncing Satan

The way of the Cross

Here we are on day two of step 1 , yesterday we discussed HUMILITY, today we will be taking a closer look at FASTING as it relates to step 1.

As we saw before, we can’t receive God’s gifts (His graces) with arms that are already full. This fasting process is a letting go, a turning away from all that does not give life. Remember Jesus came to give life in the fullest, the devil came to destroy it. We need to take a closer look at everything that we are letting in to our lives and make a judgement call. It is part of our Baptismal Vows, before we are asked if we accept Jesus, it asks us if we renounce Satan and all his works!

There are three very distinct steps on the spiritual life.

1)Purgative

2)Illuminative

3)Unitive

Today we are dealing with the first step, the purgative way. We need to ask ourselves is this person, place or thing bringing me life, or helping to destroy it. Sometimes it won’t be blatantly obvious. Sometimes it just subtly sucks the life out of you. You don’t fully know what happened until you are no longer in their presence and you feel deflated. Sometimes even apparently good things can have this effect. God given gifts on the other hand are long lasting and spiritually energizing, even if they are harder to come by.

Here are some other fasting concepts that you might be more familiar with…purging, detoxing, letting go, decluttering.These principles can be used for any area of our lives. More obvious would be how it affects your spiritual life but a little less so with whole area of SELF, but let’s take a look at a few possibilities.

*DIET: Is what I’m eating giving me the energy required to live a healthy life. Am I consuming any toxins that may be contributing to my current health problems?

*RELATIONSHIPS: Do the people that I let in to my inner circle bring me closer to God, or are they in any way sabotaging my efforts? Even though you really can’t do anything about who your family members are, you can choose how you interact with them and how much power you give them to speak into your life. Friends however, are totally your choice.

*ENTERTAINMENT: Take a closer look at all that you are allowing in through movies, television, books, social media, etc.

This is just a quick look, I’m sure you see where I’m going with this and can apply it to your own situation. If it doesn’t give you life, let it go. No…I’m not going to post a video of Elsa here because everyone is quite done with her by this point, especially those of us in the Boston area…lol.

Please go listen to a wonderful talk by Fr. Lauer on Renouncing Satan over at my Lenten page.

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Step 1:Humility and the White Ladder

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As much as the Core was all about Jesus, step 1 for me is all about Mary, the human part of my spirituality. The Incarnation is all about the joining of the spiritual to the physical. Jesus wasn’t simply the Son of God, He was also the Son of Mary. He came from within a very human body and and was fully God and fully man Himself, thereby instilling humanity with dignity and meaning.

While listening to some teachings this morning on Mary, I heard a talk from one of the Franciscans of the Immaculate speaking about the White Ladder of Mary. I don’t believe I had heard of this before, or at least it hadn’t clicked for me until now. The Lord gave me this teaching just when I needed it the most. Jesus is my CORE and Mary stands at the top of the ladder as one who has gone before me and gives me her hand and encourages me to keep going. I have to have the humility to reach for her.

In the Core we looked at four different facets of the spiritual life. Humility,Fasting,Obedience,and Reconciliation. We will be revisiting each of these as we step forward.

We start here with humility. We look to Mary to show us… “And Mary said, Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.” Some translations use ‘slave’ instead of handmaid. What humility!

We need humility to even get started, sometimes we can get frozen in our perfectionism which is a huge indication of pride. The subconscious attitude that if we can’t do it perfectly then we won’t do it at all. It takes humility to take risks, to risk being rejected even. We really need to come to a place where we don’t care about anything but doing God’s will. That we will do all and risk all for love of HIM! We are going to put forth our very best effort, but we will leave the results to Him! So If He tells us to start a blog, even if we feel as insecure as a teenager and not eloquent enough to hold our own, nor have the right command of the English language to appease the grammar nazis…we do it anyway…even if only one person will ever read it! You don’t know what it might mean for that one person…and perhaps our simplistic writing style was just right for that one person. 😉

(Trying to get this blog post through has been an interesting endeavor. First I messed up while switching the domain over to my main site and ended up losing the blog. Then I put a blog post through this morning and ended up losing that when I got up for a break. So…hmmm…I’m thinking that the evil one is a bit put off by all of this…so yay…GOOD! So I keep at it. 😉 But the graces too are amazing. First the ‘white ladder’ story, then while looking for a photo to post here I came upon the one above that I took while in Fatima a couple of years ago. It was taken at the little church where the Shepherd children were Baptized in Aljustrel, Portugal. Yep…white spiral stairs…lol. God is indeed good! 😀

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The Steps (an overview)

stairs07

Stepping Into It

These ‘steps’ have been greatly influenced by a wonderful book called A Mother’s Rule of Life: How to Bring Order to Your Home and Peace to Your Soulwritten by someone that I consider a friend, Holly Pierlot. She labels her steps “p’s” or priorities. P1 being prayer, p2= person, p3= partner, p4=parenting and p5 is provider. I have drawn on that and made it my own.

I however, envision it as a stairway and as we step up in obedience to what the Lord is showing us we get closer to heaven. But it is no ordinary stair case…it is a spiral one. With the Holy Spirt smack in the middle holding the entire thing up. Also as we step up we eventually find ourselves back to the same spot in relation to the other steps as the diagram on the upper left hand corner shows, but in reality we are now much higher up. So even though it may seem that I’ve placed step 1 and step 6 as separate from each other, they really are not…it is a completion of a turn.

So the steps are..

The Core God’s grace working in us, through every facet of our lives.
STEP 1: Self (all that pertains to your well being, diet, exercise, entertainment, hobbies etc.)
STEP 2: Others (community) Think of step 1 and step two as two separate beams with step 1 being laid vertically, it is you reaching up to heaven and step 2 horizontally, which is you reaching out side to side…to those that God puts in your path.
STEP 3: Your vocation…your work…your calling. ( this step and step 2 are strongly connected…this is where we give to the community from our talents…and in turn are compensated so that we can provide for our families.)
STEP 4:Home Where we serve our family through household management and other custodial duties.
STEP 5:Parenting
STEP 6:Marriage which again takes you full circle back to Step 1:

The ‘Steps’ are the different areas of our lives that we pour forth God’s grace once we have received it…and in turn get replenished with more, like a running water font. These are the particular areas and paths that I feel called to. I don’t believe that there is a set way for everybody. If you feel an affinity to this particular path, by all means come walk with me a while. Otherwise, feel free to take a peek…maybe be inspired to listen to the Lord yourself and see what comes of it. That’s actually the whole aim of this site.

This Lenten Season we will be ‘Stepping Into It’. We have already started with the Core and will be moving on to STEP 1 tomorrow.

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DAY 4:Reconciliation

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In today’s readings we get yet again a long to do list of what is needed for a good life…aka…holiness.

If you hold back your foot on the sabbath
from following your own pursuits on my holy day;
If you call the sabbath a delight,
and the LORD’s holy day honorable;
If you honor it by not following your ways,
seeking your own interests, or speaking with malice—
Then you shall delight in the LORD,

Here’s the rub though. No one can accomplish all of this, all the time…NO ONE! Let me say it again. No one roaming the earth at this time can ever be perfectly sinless on their own power. We can sin less, and we definitely need to try…but we can never achieve a state of perfect sinlessness on this side of heaven. Not me, not you, not your sweet grandma, not even the Pope himself. So what then? Are we all royally screwed (pardon my language)? We certainly would be if it wasn’t for one thing…or One Person really! Jesus! He loved us so well that He put it all on the line for us. He bought our ‘salvation’…our ticket to holiness and goodness…remember we need that ticket in order to enter heaven, because of its perfection it can’t tolerate anything that is not itself perfect to enter into it. So He’s giving out these tickets that are priceless…it cost Him His very life. But He’s such a gentleman, He honors your free will and will not push it on you. Will you take one from Him?

So you have already…yay…you are my brothers and sisters, the ticket holders. 😉 Now what? Well that ticket even though it is timeless, there is no expiration date (the only way for it to be fully revoked is for you to throw it away yourself)…it has ‘minutes’ in it. We charge it up by our good deeds…it has already been bought…these deeds are simply another way of us going to Jesus and being with Him in relationship. He doesn’t want you to simply grab your ticket and run and then go hide it under a bed and forget about it. Nope…you need to carry it with you…remember…you may need to use it at any moment.  But just like we charge it up with good deeds, our bad, crappy stuff…aka our sins… uses up our ‘minutes’.  So if you aren’t careful, you can be left standing holding a ticket that you are so darn proud of, but really you’ve let it get nearly empty. (Even then there is hope if you are called home at this point (as long as you don’t throw away the ticket)…a place called ‘Purgatory’…heaven’s filling up, ante room exists. ;))

Here’s the GOOD NEWS though! Jesus knew this ahead of time! He knew our limitations. He knew that even after we had accepted His great gift of salvation that we wouldn’t be able to keep it filled up until we’d need to use it.  And this is why He instituded His One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church…and gave us the Sacraments…especially the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

During Confession, we take our worn out, nearly empty ticket to a priest who stands in for Jesus Himself and it gets refilled anew…as if we had just received it for the first time. Great deal, right?

Any theologian reading this…I sincerely apologize!

Please stop by my Lenten page and have a listen to Fr. Lauer’s talk on Reconciliation.

Much love and peace to you!

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DAY 3: HUMILITY

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Isaiah 58:1

“Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!”

I had this discussion with a dear friend of mine yesterday after I complained about how much I was missing Facebook…lol. This friend lead me to re-examine why I was doing things. In this case, I believe that I was really lead by the Lord to take a little sabbatical, just to be mindful of my presence there and to not soak up the atmosphere so much. Will I be doing that the entire 40 days of Lent? I don’t  know, I will have to discern what the Lord is wanting from me. I’m thinking that what I need to do is set up some ‘CORE’ days, maybe a couple times a week where I can pull back a little bit and focus on the Lord and His will for me.

I think THAT is the main point of the Lenten journey, to constantly be checking in with God and walking with Him in obedience. It’s easy for some of us to just go off full throttle on our own devices. But what we really need is a heart humble enough to submit to Him!

Go listen to what Fr. Lauer has to say on this over at my  LENT page.

And don’t forget to stop by my STORE and check out the collection of amazing books that I have available. These are mostly books that I have read myself and totally recommend.

So, how is your Lenten Season going so far? I’d love to hear from you. 😀

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DAY 2: OBEDIENCE: Turn on the Lights

IMG_0047 So yesterday, DAY 1 of our journey, we were reminded of what the purpose for Lent really is. He wants whole hearted devotion from us! Just a little bit is no devotion at all. That’s not how God works!

A Spiritual Director I once had explained it to me this way. It’s as if you lived in this great mansion, it’s a beautiful place, it has everything you could ever want right there…but one thing…you keep stumbling around in the dark. However, what you don’t realize at the moment is that it has been wired for electricity. You’ve heard rumors of this of course. There is even an large electrical company a few blocks away, and you see a warm glow coming from one of your neighbor’s houses on the darkest of nights. But surely they must all be CRAZY…right? I mean yes…you are aware of that switch on the wall…you’ve been told that if you walk to it and flip it to the on position, incredible things can happen. But gee whiz…first of all…you will have to get out of your comfortable chair…yikes…sounds horrifying…and…it’s so dark…most likely you will stumble on something, maybe even fall over and break a bone. So you better not. Better safe than sorry. Right?

Well this may sound really silly to you. But that’s pretty much what disobedience is…it’s willingly choosing to stay in the dark.

So when God tells us as He does in today’s readings that if we obey Him He will give us life, but if we don’t then death will surely come. He’s not being a mean and vindictive God. He’s simply telling us the truth. He’s telling us you get up and turn on the lights as you are being told and you will see amazing things and will enjoy it all the way it was designed…if you don’t you will bump into furniture, fall, break bones and maybe even die from your injuries. It’s a simple statement of truth!

Please go here —>LENT, read the daily Mass readings at link provided for you at the top of the page, and then scroll half way down the page to the audio of the day by Fr. Al Lauer. Do this and be blessed! ❤

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