Monthly Archives: August 2013

Backpack Theology

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“Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you” psalm 55:22

Ah tomorrow is the first day of school for my children… This past week as I shopped for school supplies, and new backpacks to carry these supplies, I thought about the discussion we had during charismatic prayer group on Monday night. My friends imagery of unburdening ourselves… taking things out of our backpacks … not just giving it all to God but also unburdening ourselves from all we do not need… and not just physical things.

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

This reminded me of a lesson I taught a year or two ago for Children’s Liturgy. I cannot recall what gospel reading I was discussing with the children … but to help the children understand the scripture verses I had a backpack filled with rocks on my back weighing me down. I had the kids take the rocks out of my backpack one at a time. On each rock I wrote one of the deadly sins and other such “bad” things (I didn’t write all the deadly sins!). Once the backpack was empty I reveled a garbage bag filled with balloons. On each balloon was something “good” such as “love” “joy” “charity” “sharing” “giving”… stuff like that. I had the kids read each balloon and put the balloons in the backpack. I was showing the children how sin weighs us down. How we need to fill our lives (our backpack) with good things (virtues)… gifts of the Holy Spirit… how free and light we will be. We, as adults, need to also remember to do this frequently …review what is burdening us and get rid of the bad stuff (go to confession!).

Funny thing… after church that day I didn’t know what to do with my “sin” rocks… so I dumped them out back behind my yard. Someday someone will find them and wonder why someone wrote “greed” “Hate” and “sloth” on rocks… hahaha.

Also …while my friend discussed unburdening ourselves during prayer group I remembered a poem I wrote during the first year of my re-version (2005), “Small Drop of Rain.” I remember writing that poem in a haze, so into writing it I could only see the creation of the poem and nothing else. I remember where I was and that my husband was getting ready for work that morning while I was wrapped up in my collection of words. I definitely think I had divine help with it….

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Small Drop of Rain

God hands me simplicity

in a small drop of rain

This is all that you need,”

He smiles as He explains,

Just keep life simple

enjoy the small wonders,

a laugh from a child

the crack of the thunder.

Believe in the beauty

the wonder

the glory

don’t complicate life

with frantic worry and hurry.

Slow down

breath in

taste each separate day.

Believe I am with you

guiding your way.

You are here for a purpose,”

He winks and smiles broader,

Lose all the baggage

that makes it much harder.

Those possessions are worthless,”

He laughs with his eyes,

You can’t take it with you,”

He reaches around and unties…

And it all drops away

No more burdens, no more pain.

And He nods as He leaves me

with His small drop of rain.

As we begin this new school year let us all get rid of all that is burdening us and live simpler lives….
 

“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” Hebrews 12:1

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Listen to God

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We have just found out that our beloved Papa Bene (Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) has reportedly said that he retired from the papacy after a “mystical experience” and because “God told me to.” http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/report-benedict-xvi-resigned-after-mystical-experience/

The Lord planted a seed of “absolute desire” in his heart to do this…. How awesome is that? I just love him. God asked him and he did His will. Beautiful.

This made me think: has this ever happened to you? Have you ever heard from God and responded by doing what He asked, by dropping everything and doing his will? I have already explained in another blog “Obedience” that I responded to God by becoming sober. Tomorrow, August 22nd, will be my three year anniversary. Three years without a beer. Three years without a hang-over. Three years sober. This is HUGE for me. All because God told me to “Stop drinking.” As I explained in that blog, He had to tell me three times before I listened to Him. Three times. Yes… I am a stubborn, obstinate child. But I listened, obeyed and did His will (eventually).

There is one other time that I literally “heard” Him speaking to me (in my heart). I also did not immediately respond until he asked me three times. (What’s with that? Why does it take me three times to do what is asked of me?! HA!). Back in 2005 I was in church, St John’s in E. Bridgewater, Massachusetts. It was summer time and I had been going to church by myself, I had just returned to the church 9 months before (I had been away for over 20 years….). The head of religious education was imploring people to volunteer to teach. This was not something that I was interested in. I had no desire to do that at all…. BUT… I had a strong feeling that the Holy Spirit was sitting behind me (yes sitting behind me) at mass and was poking me (yes He was poking me!) on the right shoulder and saying, “Do that.” I turned around and was like, “Um…no… are you crazy? I am not teaching!” Yes that was my response. … this happened three weeks in a row. She asked the congregation and I felt the urging of the Holy Spirit, “Do that.” pokepokepoke …. finally, after the third time, I reluctantly said, “Fine!”

This was the beginning of my “teaching” journey. Jesus knew in which direction I needed to go, He knew what He had in store for me, my place and purpose. He knew I needed to be prodded and moved in that direction…. and so I did… I jumped in with absolutely no idea what I was doing… and taught 6th grade CCD (it was like herding cats…aaahahahaha o.O) ….

Eight years later I am a teacher. This week I started as a special education teacher. It has been a long, crazy journey to get here … and if you had told me ten years ago that I would be teaching special education in a high school I would call you crazy (probably in a very colorful way)… but here I am… I said “Yes” (finally) to the Lord and he brought me here, to where I need to be. Praise be to God.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.“ John 10: 27-28

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Camping Book Review or How this ex-Wild Woman did not Lose her Soul

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I just got back from a week in the Maine woods with my family… a well deserved time off to read, swim, read, eat, hike (well, in my case limp), read, sit by the camp fire…and read. Did I mention read? Yeah I read 3, almost 4, books this past week. (Yeah I know… I don’t look very excited in that picture hahaha). The first book I devoured in 2 days. The Soul Reader, Gerard D. Webster’s sequel to In-Sight  was awesome! Great book… a Catholic novel of suspense. Loved it! I highly recommend it! Yet again (for the third time)  I found a used copy of a book (on amazon.com) signed by the author… excellent!

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Then I decided to read something not Catholic … I was told Wild by Cheryl Strayed was a good read so I brought that along with me. Well, I almost threw it in the fire… I was not happy with Ms. Strayed’s use of  um… language … and she was pretty blasphemous…. seriously I was going to give up on it, pitch it … but I didn’t. She is a very good writer… and I decided to give her a chance.. because even though I did not like some of what she said I felt I needed to give the story another try, because it sounded interesting: a young woman hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) alone.
But why didn’t I like her?… why did I almost chuck the book across the campsite?…. she reminded me of someone ….
me.
Yeah the old me. The old obnoxious me. The old obnoxious foul-mouthed me who thinks its cool to be shocking. yeah. Me… who wrote an even more obnoxious novel~ Violation: The Bitchings of a Boston Meter Maid… hm.
Why is it that women writers now feel the need to BE in-your-face obnoxious and “shocking” … it is disturbing that it is now the “norm”  to  be the cool, witty, vulgar woman…. in the novel, by page 23, I had had it… I understood she was upset by her mother’s death… but she called God a ruthless bitch… yup, she did. Those exact words.  And then…. she discussed her abortion so nonchalantly… “I got an abortion and learned how to make dehydrated tuna flakes and turkey jerky and took a refresher course on basic first aid and practiced using my water purifier in my kitchen sink” (p. 57). Yes that was all in the same sentence… getting an abortion and making turkey jerky …obviously both “mundane” ordinary things need to be in the same sentence… UGH. Really?…Unfortunately abortion has gotten to the point in our society that it is one of the many “things” women “do” in their life… as if it is nothing and no big deal.
Reminds me of another book~ The Maid: A Novel of Joan of Arc  by Kimberly Cutter. Great book about Joan of Arc… but… I was disturbed by some of the language and description that was used …seriously… hey Ms. Cutter… you are writing about a SAINT… could you please use some decorum? No?… hm.
So as I read Wild and thought about the author and thought back on the old me (I’m probably about the same age as the author)…I thought back on The Soul Reader. In that novel the main character could see the person’s soul… see if they were good or evil. And there are really people out there like that  (St. Padre Pio) … and I thought, when I was like that was there someone who could see that ugliness in me?
And I also thought that if the author, Ms. Strayed, had gone into the awesome, humorous and disturbing journey with some faith, or at least found her faith while there (or even after) it would have made such an incredible, wonderful story! Sure she did make that journey to get over her mother’s death and other things that were wrong in her life… but if she had or found faith…wow… really… if she could have used all that suffering (her poor feet! Losing 6 toenails!) to save souls… if she could have seen how God was working in her life and acknowledged, accepted and grown spiritually…  really… it is so sad that she did not see Him at all in her wonderful, horrible, crazy, journey …. so sad. Pathetic even.
Why have so many women gone astray? (I am making a play on her last name, the name she, Cheryl “Strayed”, chose after divorcing her husband). Too many women go off to find themselves and never think of looking for God. It’s all about them… if they only would let themselves go and seek Him they would feel peace and freedom… and find what God planned for them …. the wonderful woman He created them to be …. but no.
She is a wonderful writer and she wrote a great story… but… I also see a woman with no faith, a woman like so many women out there, who could become someone wonderful … and beautiful … who found God while lost on the PCT… but unfortunately she (and so many women) follow the world and the world creates this crass caricature that so many women desire to be….
We need more strong women writers who will make a stand…who will refuse to be crass and obnoxious writers….In the immortal words of St. Joan of Arc, “Are you strong enough?”
I pondered a lot while camping and reading … I thought about the old me, who I was, who I have become… and who I am still transforming into…. all because of God. I am thankful that I now SEE God working in my life. I pray that women like Cheryl Strayed stop “straying”….and do find God someday and do see that He was working in her life back on the PCT.

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Count it all as Joy

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“And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.” 1Peter 5:10
I think God is trying to tell me something…. Stop. Relax. Just BE. Be with your family…. stop all the running around you nutty girl…
So..yeah… silly me.  I was almost healed. My leg really did not bother me anymore. On a scale from one to ten my pain was a one and at times even a zero. So yeah… what happens?… I was visiting my son down in Boston the other day. It was his birthday and we were having lunch with him at Sullivan’s at Castle Island… so on the way back to the car I decided to step over a mud puddle. (I believe that my guardian angel was like, “Walk around it!!!” …facepalm!) …I stepped over it with my right (bad) leg… stepped in slippery mud …and I did a split! Yes a split… completely unintentionally, of course. I seriously have not done a split since 1983 …and yeah… OUCH I re-injured my bad leg. Yeah. Black and blue thigh. Way ta go Kelly. Back to square one. 😛
It actually hurts more now 5 days later. It is like an annoying pain… and it hurts to drive (as I write I am happily home from work…sitting on a heating pad) … so again… I am being SLOWED down…
I was pretty bummed when it happened because I had planned on going to Soul Fest the next day with friends to see David Crowder (love him!) and Skillet (I have been playing “Rise” over and over!) … but there was no way I would be able to walk around a music festival all day on that bad leg… poo.
So again I get the message He is sending me. Spend time with your family. Stop rushing/running around. Be a wife and a mother. That is your main vocation.
Okay…okay…okay…
But still … it hurts and I can’t do some things that I need to do as a wife and mother like clean and pick up and DO motherly stuff to keep the house in order… ugh.
and the pain… okay Lord. I am offering it up. Uniting my sufferings to Yours. I am suffering to save souls. I will carry my cross. …yes…with joy.
“More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”  Romans 5:3-5
The other day God placed a reading in my path (yes he does that to me a lot). I read in The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis, “Stand strongly and perseveringly in me… Bear your present troubles patiently… do not be troubled and do not fear. Trust strongly in Me and have perfect hope in My mercy…. though I send you for a time some grief and trouble, for this is the surer way to the kingdom of heaven.” I have found peace in knowing I can use this suffering for good. And that I should always learn something from any and everything that happens to me… what is God teaching me? How can I praise and thank Him in this moment, even though this moment is painful?
It is odd…but I have found peace this summer even though it has been a rough season for me… between the injuries and the difficult students at camp I am mentally and physically exhausted… but, like I said before, I find something good in it. I find peace.
Like now… I am hurting… and I can’t really do much… but what can I do? Read (Lord you know I read a lot!). Write… well, here I am writing this blog… and I need to finish my latest short story (later). And Listen. Be still. Be silent. Be with Him and listen. That is the hardest… in this noisy world. I just hope I do hear Him and that I do follow where he is leading… Lord knows I get distracted easily (by “shiny things” as my husband jokes).
I also have been listening to a new apropos Cd I acquired this week “The Struggle” by Tenth Avenue North. Amazing Cd… every song speaks to me (especially this week) and it is so peaceful and has calmed by hurting-ness (it’s okay I can make up words)… especially this song:

It’s crazy, I know.. in my sufferings I learn more….I rely on God… I become a better person … and I find peace.
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” James 1:2-4

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