Category Archives: Christian

Fat Tuesday Musings

what-if-lent

Hm….

So today, as I was googling “Fat Tuesday” memes to post on Facebook I came across this one. Makes ya think… doesn’t it? If you think you should give up something for  40 some odd days to bring you closer to Christ (which is the point of Lent) then maybe you should give it up altogether. HUH!

About 11 years ago I gave up drinking for Lent. This was, of course, back when I was still drinking… (obviously). It was very difficult for me, especially since St. Patrick’s Day is always during Lent and I love my Guinness on St. Patty’s day!   But I survived the “fast” and was quite proud of myself. I did it! After that Lenten fast I knew that I would eventually have to give up drinking (there was this still small voice in the back of my head) … I knew it deep down in my soul. Then four years later I finally did give up drinking for good (I am 6 years sober!). God was patient with me… and He gave me the grace to do so. I so needed to cut drinking out of my life. Being sober brought me closer to God.

Also about 3 years ago I gave up coffee for Lent… (AAAAHHHH! OH the HORROR!)

coffee-for-lent

… now that was even harder to do since it was something I drank daily!  Giving up coffee was a huge sacrifice!  But I drank tea during my coffee fast and  survived (though I hated tea for months after that haha).  I never thought I would eventually have to give up coffee… why the heck would I give up coffee?!  Coffee is not beer/booze! There is no reason to give it up! Or so I thought … Well, sorry Kelly, there was a good reason.  Health reasons… reflux/heartburn all attributed to coffee… so last fall I gave it up. Thing is… I’m fine without it. Go figure. And I feel better. Healthier. Praise God.

So … after seeing this “What if I told you…” meme… and thinking about my past “fasts” I was thinking … is this time of year (Lent) really a taste of what we should truly be doing…? A time to reassess how we have been living…  how else can we die to self and have a closer relationship to God?  Will what I “give up” this year eventually be something that is given up for good? And will the things I add become a beloved habit? .. Kind of scary… yet inspiring and exciting…

This Lent: I am setting aside more time for prayer/bible reading and reflection (up at 4AM!). I am going to write Haikus every day of Lent like I did last year (loved doing that!). and I am going to eat healthy (no junk food for you!). I hope, eventually, all of these things become a natural daily habit. God willing.

And for those of you giving up Facebook… well, you’re just crazy. Haha!

Well, Fat Tuesday is not over yet!…  and there are Rice Krispie treats to shove in my gob…

fat-tuesday-lent-meme

May God bless you this Lent!

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They Were Satisfied

feeding-4000

Just a quick pondering …. Today’s gospel reading from the Gospel of Mark had me thinking… what must it have been like to have been there with Jesus and the disciples when He multiplied the loaves and the fishes?  Sitting there with a huge hungry crowd… Did the 4,000 + people know what was happening? Or were the oblivious to the miracle? All of a sudden, after 3 hungry days, they were handed enough food to fill them up and satisfy them…. Did they wonder where it all came from?  Did some of them who were close to Jesus and the disciples see them doing something with the food? Did some see the miracle as it happened? I wonder … what did that miraculous multiplied bread and fish taste like? Bread and fish that Jesus blessed…  Was it the most delicious meal they had ever had? It says “They were satisfied.” There were left overs…. fragments filling seven baskets… so obviously  everyone was full, satisfied, smiling and content, probably one of the best picnic lunches they had ever had.

To have been there.  When I read the gospels I always think of what it would have been like to have been there with Jesus.Wouldn’t it have been amazing to have been there and received that gift? A miraculous meal created by Jesus…

… and then… I had a “duh” moment… a holy dope-slap upside the head moment. A “D’oh!” epiphany (haha)… Der, Kelly… He does give us a miraculous meal all the time… every single time a Mass is celebrated… every. single. day.  The Eucharist. Body, blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ. Right there. For us. A gift. …But do we take this for granted?  Do we go up to receive Him with the full knowledge of His sacrifice and His unending love for us…  or do we numbly, indifferently receive Him without a second thought?

eucharist-pope-bene

So tomorrow, when you receive the Eucharist, do so reverently (maybe on the tongue instead of in your hand~ I have started doing this!)…  with the full knowledge of what it all means. This miraculous meal… the most important meal in the history of the world. The gift of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We should be filled with joy after receiving Him.

We should be satisfied.

eucharist-st-maria-g

 

 

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Wake Up Dead

Heart

“The greatest gift that we can receive from God in the present world is this: To know how, to desire, and to be able to conquer self by renouncing our own will.” St. Francis of Assisi.

Careful what you pray for. Yeah. Again I prayed for something and did not expect the response… I had prayed that God would help me get in shape and lose weight. Yeah, I prayed that.  I have been struggling with some extra weight and I felt like I was getting nowhere… so I prayed about it. Please help me Lord. So what happens?  Last Thursday night I wind up in the Emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack! Yeah really!  If that’s not a wakeup call, supernatural slap upside the head, I don’t know what is!

Now I’m not saying that God is a big meanie … no I know God is merciful and loving… hey, I admit, it’s all my fault. Sure I exercise ~ I bike 14 miles on the rail trail, lift weights and use the elliptical at Planet Fitness pretty much 5 days out of the week… but my diet…. Heh … here I was asking for help and I was not holding up my end of the bargain. I eat too much (though most of it is healthy, well, maybe not most) and I snack too much…  like a whole bag of Veggie Stix… yeah they’re made out of vegetables…  but I scoff down the  WHOLE BAG! Yeah. That. Years of eating like that.

So last Thursday I had been feeling like someone was squeezing my heart. All day.  I had felt this on and off during the week but on Thursday it was a continuous feeling of a pain in my chest. Right in my heart. I assumed it would just go away. Nope.  So at about midnight I was lying in bed with this chest pain thinking, “What if I am having a heart attack?”  I also had shortness of breath and a weird sensation/pain up my left arm. Knowing that women can have different symptoms than men I began to get nervous. I also have a heart murmur. What if I go to bed and wake up dead? O.o  Seriously.  Yup I came upon that dreaded moment… what if I die now?  What about my family, my boys, my friends, my students, my collection of short stories I never published … 50 is too young! AH!

So I woke up my husband and told him what I was experiencing … off to the hospital (props to my hubbie who stayed up 40 hours with me!) and they did the usual battery of tests, blood work, chest x-rays, stress test (running on a treadmill without a bra! Woo hoo hahahahahahha!)

Here I am all hooked up, yeah right on my tattoo of the Sacred Heart of Jesus

my heart attack

… but it all came back negative for a heart attack. It wasn’t my heart! So of course I had sent out messages for all my friends/family to pray for me… what a great feeling to know that so many were praying for me (such love!). But once it was all said and done I kind of felt like an idiot when it wasn’t a heart attack. I know that sounds weird… but when they said it was probably reflux I thought… “Huh. …really? That’s it? It really felt like a heart attack! Reflux sounds lame and embarrassing.” Yeah I know. Silly me. It was good news and I was getting all embarrassed. Duh.

So this was God telling me, “Hey, Kelly. You asked me to help. This is where you are now.  You have to eat healthy now or this pain will not go away.  You have to eat a restricted diet. You know I love you and you know you have a lot more to do. So you have to get healthy. You got this girl.  I am with you.”  Okay. Got it. I don’t like it.  But hey, I usually need a divine dope slap to get me to take things seriously. I know, I know we are not here forever so I need to take better care of myself.  

I needed help conquering self.  Daily conversion. Transformation. Yeah  I know… but I thought I could eat ice cream and potato chips while transforming… hmph.

Okay Lord, I will try harder. Thanks for  not giving up on me.

 

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Year of Mercy… During an Election Year

year of mercy

Yeah I don’t know why it didn’t hit me before… coincidence ..? Hm. I think it dawned on me at the beginning of July when I was doing my morning prayers, my St. Maximilian Kolbe consecration to Mary and July’s intercession is: “That resentments and anger may never stifle our ability to love.”  Bam. Right smack in the middle of the Black Lives Matter/5 police shot in Dallas/the FBI overlooking Hillary’s shenanigans …  ETC. Yeah. That. Being my obnoxious, opinionated, conservative, catholic self I have a hard time NOT saying anything. It’s hard to not get caught up in the political snarling debates, fiery posts attacking, actually, both candidates, and posting witty cutting un-merciful memes on Facebook.  It’s hard to be kind because I am disgusted and discouraged by the state of our nation.   It’s hard to be merciful to those who have differing opinions when it just feels like they are ruining the country with their division.

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At times I just don’t want to be merciful…  I am too angry and disappointed to ‘let it go” to “agree to disagree”  I want to rant and rail… sigh. But as a Catholic in this Year of Mercy …. I need to step back and assess the situation.

So there’s mercy. Be merciful like the father. Luke 6:36. The logo for this year. Heck I may hate what the “other side” says.  I may think they are wrongwrongwrong WRONG!!!! about so many issues. Case in point:

black lives matter

… I may think they are ruining this country. I may think the Founding Fathers are rolling over and over (and over!) in their graves … 

founding fathers rolling

but… Mercy. Be merciful like the Father … He forgave all of us (we all matter!!).

Jesus all lives matter

Though we may not like what others say or do… we need to show them mercy. Yeah, I know. Garshblamit. I don’t want to. I DON’T WANT TO! … It’s hard.

God is always asking me (you, us) to step out of that comfort zone and BE that kind, caring, compassionate, merciful Christian, especially when we don’t want to.  (Especially when they are wrong about so many issues… .) He never said it would be easy… He actually said living this life would be hard and many people will despise us for it… but we don’t have to despise them back…

This is going to be challenging for me and I know I will blow it several times (wanting to post that funny, yet obnoxious meme that shows Hillary’s hypocrisy!) but I am going to TRY to be less me and more Him. Like the Father~ Merciful.

Yeah… I’m going to need a lot of prayers…

mercy 2

“Mercy is the force that reawakens us to new life and instills in us the courage to look to the future with hope.” Pope Francis.

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Becoming Fully Awake

rest_in_the_lord_by_kevron2001-d6t93cp

I don’t want to say that 2016 started out bad … but it has been a stressful few months. I had deemed January “hell month’’ due to the high volume of meetings and other various work related craziness I had to do. My head was spinning and I thought it would slow down once February hit, but no… a bit of that hell seeped into February as well. Sigh. I am just grateful that it is finally February break and I am able to slow down, sit back, take a deep breath and relax. My goal this week:  to do a whole bunch of wonderful nothing.

I realized that once again I had prayed and God answered… in a way that I did not like.  As I have said before, careful what you pray for, because He may literally take you at your word and give you exactly what you asked for. Knowing this I, of course, never pray for patience, and I no longer pray the litany of humility, ugh. But there I was everyday innocently praying to be the best case coordinator I could be  … and what happens? I get in trouble at work for not doing my job properly. Sure I want to be better at my job, but I do not like to be reprimanded, no one does. But having this happen made me realize~ to be better I had to pay more attention to every detail and to follow all procedures. Though part of the problem had to do with having too much on my plate, but that is another rant for another time.

I need to remember that God honors our prayers and wants us to be the best we can be. ‘For whom the Lord loves He disciplines, as a father chastises the son he favors.’   Proverbs 3:12 .  ‘When you are scorned by others and lashed by God, do not despair. God lashes us in this life to shield us from the eternal lash in the next.’ St. Peter Damian.  I have to continually remind myself, ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.’ Romans 8:28. Even though it felt like a punch in the stomach, I know good will come of all this, whether I can see it now or not. I just have to trust. I have to have faith. I have to embrace it all knowing God is working in me. I have to remember to always get back up and keep moving forward. I need to rise each day anew.

Today is the Second Sunday in Lent, The Transfiguration, one of my favorite gospel readings. There was one line that struck me this morning. ‘Becoming fully awake, they saw His glory,’ Luke 9:32. Becoming fully awake. It made me question: Am I fully awake? Or am I just going through the motions? Am I taking my time, slowing down, sitting with Him, listening in the silence? Am I becoming fully awake in my faith? In my job? No. No I am not. That needs to change.

It is Lent and it is February vacation. It is a good time to assess my life. Time to get serious.

For Lent this year I did not give up coffee (ugh, that was hell for everyone involved haha) nor did I give up Facebook (though I still am addicted). What I am doing this year is writing Haikus. Yes you read that right, writing Haikus. That little Japanese poem-y thingy… counting on my fingers syllables: five, seven, five… Easy yet so hard. I write one every morning and sometimes I write two if the mood hits me. Today after seeing the movie ‘Risen’ (which I highly recommend) I felt very peaceful. Moved. And while on the elliptical at Planet Fitness an idea for a Haiku came to me, so I wrote it down on the memo app on my smart phone while elliticalling (if that is a word. Well, it is now).

Can’t do it alone

Nail me to yourself, my Lord

With Him I will rise.

Attached to Jesus, carrying my cross, I will continue on, though at times I hate my cross, I know He is with me. I know that in my weakness I am strong with Him. So I will keep praying that prayer, and all my prayers, paying attention now to what I am asking. But still, I will let Him answer as he sees fit. For I know he has great plans for me, even when it feels like the world is falling apart. I know that He is with me. So I will become fully awake (Risen!) and ecstatically see His glory fill my life.

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Joan Up!

Joan up meme
Yeah… I came up with a new saying… “Joan up!” It came to me yesterday as we, my fellow Secular Franciscan and I, were headed to St. Anthony’s Monastery in Kennebunk, Maine for Franciscan Day. She had gotten us new T shirts to wear… she is always buying us cool Catholic shirts to wear to events. This time she got us St. Joan of Arc T shirts.

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On the front is St Joan on her horse with her banner and on the back it says: “She who is brave is free.” Coolest shirt EVAH… They are made by the company Rangerup.com (cool site, check it out)… so Ranger up… Joan up… that’s where the idea came from~ the idea that we need to do as she did… no matter what the odds and what is before you, no matter the suffering, know that God is with you, He will give you strength… so be brave, charge right in there and DO IT!

Unfortunately tomorrow is the beginning of a new school year as a special education teacher, (unfortunate because it is still summer! I am not ready to go back!) … I think that I need to start off the year with a prayer and a plan…My goal: to BE more like St. Joan of Arc this year. To be brave and courageous… but to also… BE more Catholic and Secular Franciscan-ish…

On the way home yesterday we were talking about how sometimes the old version of us would come out when people made us angry. My friend was in the Army, so for her the inner soldier would come charging out when she was angry. I used to be a Boston Meter Maid back in the day. Let me tell you, I was one crazy…. I had a foul mouth and a fierce pit bull attitude to go with it. If someone freaked out on me for giving them a ticket I would give it right back to them. I would not back down and I let them have it. I would like to say that she is pretty much gone now, that crazy meter maid… years of Catholicity has smothered her …. but… well, it’s not true…she is still there… angry ole me, simmering, waiting for the opportunity to explode. And yeah… once in a while, when some sandpaper person pisses me off, she rears her ugly head. (It’s not pretty). I know I need to control her. I need to be more Christian, more loving, more peaceful, more kind. Because although St. Joan was a warrior, she was a Catholic first.

stJoan quote
So there is that balance … and I want to have that balance in my life. I want to be that brave woman who stands her ground, is fearless and goes for what she wants … But also I want to be the woman who is obedient to her faith and does God’s will, not her own. The woman who loves, who is kind and who fiercely, passionately, courageously does not let others trample all over her.

I feel in the past I have been the extremes. I am either too kind and I let people walk all over me, or I lose it and freak out on them. I need to find the balance between the two. I need to find my inner St. Joan. Control. I need to control myself.

So, as with all things… Probably best to start off with prayer.

Heavenly Father, please, help me to be the woman I am meant to be. Help me be courageous and go after my dreams and pursue what you have in store for me. Help me to step out in faith, knowing you are with me, assisting me along the way. Help me to take a stand when I feel others are stepping all over me and taking advantage of me. Help me to be firm, yet kind when I do not feel I am being heard or given due respect I deserve. Help me to control my temper and not say things I will regret. And most of all help me to forgive others when they wrong me. Help me Lord, to “Joan Up!” and be the brave Church Militant woman I was made to be. In Jesus’ name I pray.
Amen.

“One life is all we have and we live it as we believe in living it. But to sacrifice what you are and to live without belief, that is a fate more terrible than dying.” St Joan of Arc.

st joan dares

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Salvation

salvation

I haven’t blogged in awhile… I meant to post this 2 months ago… but then… *sigh* … life got in the way…  I had written this Salvation “talk” for a retreat …actually it was called The Holy Spirit, the Gift of God Parish Mission of renewal back in June…  it was an awesome retreat.  …  and  for several weeks afterwards people who had been to the retreat/mission came up to me praising my courage and told me I was an inspiration.  I was quite surprised at how many people approached me about my talk. I thought, I have to post it (blog)… but I put it off. Well,  It’s funny, tonight at a Daughter’s of Isabella meeting I was thinking about blogging and thinking about posting my talk…  but feeling lazy and wishy-washy about it …again …. BUT then after the meeting a Daughter came up to me and told me she was at the retreat in June and she said I was an inspiration…. I thought, okay, okay…  I need to post it… so here it is…:

God is good. All the time …. all the time, God is good…

Wow. I never thought I would be here, doing this, saying that. If you told me 12 years ago that I would be a passionate “on fire” Catholic~ I would not have believed you. No way.

Fr. Joe already explained what salvation is in his talk. SALVATION is The forgiveness of sins and restoration of friendship with God, which can be done by God alone. My favorite bible verse about salvation is from Ephesians “For by grace you are saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, for it is the gift of God; Not of works that no man may glory.”
I am saved and I give all the glory to God!

Since I only have 5 minutes to tell you my “salvation” story I will quickly explain what that means to me and highlight who I was and who I am now.

I like to think of myself as a “Born again” catholic… I am a revert, meaning: I left the faith for a period of time and then came back. I grew up in a good catholic family, but like many others, I left the faith in my late teens. Being religious didn’t interest me and I wanted to do what everyone else was doing. So I and lived a very sinful secular life for over 20 years. You name it… sex, drugs, alcohol … I lived a wild crazy immoral life style… and I was even proud of being a wild woman. I thought I was the coolest chic.

So what happened? By the grace of God I am changed. That is the only way I can explain it. By His grace and because He loves me so much I am a completely new woman. The catalyst that got me here to where I am now was seeing the movie The Passion of the Christ back in 2004. I wept as I drove home from that movie. That intense movie opened a door inside me and a curiosity for my faith was set on fire… I didn’t just go back to my faith; the Holy Spirit ignited a desire inside me! Sure I went back to mass, but I was so incredibly hungry for my faith that I needed to consume as much Catholic stuff as I could.

God worked in me and in my life for over ten years getting me to here, to where I needed to be and helped me become who I am today … through mass, ministries, book clubs, retreats, bible study … I did it all… I had many Holy Spirit moments. I even felt God speak to me and push me into teaching religious ed …. Which terrified me… I had never taught anything in my life! …and now look at me! I am a special education teacher, go figure. If you had told me ten years ago that I would someday be a special education teacher I would not have believed you. That is God working in my life. That is grace! That is His love and mercy. He loved me so much he grabbed me back, set me on fire and gave me a place and purpose.

It has not been easy. Trying to be a good Catholic has been a long difficult journey. At the beginning I had a hard time being the “Jesus freak” that the Holy Spirit was calling me to be. It took me years to be really comfortable in my faith and to talk about it with others, especially non-Catholics. It was really hard to “live the gospel” in my life especially when friends and family were doing and saying things I no longer thought were appropriate. I could not laugh at crass jokes or watch certain movies anymore. I would watch 5 minutes of a rated R comedy and would have to turn it off; horrified, mostly because the old me would have loved it and would have thought it was hilarious. And it was hard to be with old friends and not get caught up in the gossip and swearing. I so easily reverted back to my old self when I was with certain people …. it was disturbing. I actually had to walk away from friendships that were bad for me and that was very difficult. But God was leading me in the right direction, cleaning up my life, and I knew that…. So I just kept following Jesus.

He changed many aspects of my life: I had a drinking problem since I was a teen… now I have been sober for almost 5 years. God literally spoke to me to get me to stop drinking.

I was militantly pro-choice. For over 20 years. Now I am adamantly pro-life and part of an abortion healing ministry called Rachel’s Vineyard.

To get my second marriage right with the church (and God) I had to go through a lengthy annulment process, which took a year. When it was over I remarried my husband in the Catholic Church and then that same year he took RCIA classes and became Catholic too. and is now a Knight (of Columbus).

Getting right with God was hard … but I got the strength from Him to do it. My favorite bible quote is “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” and I pray that often!

This long, hard, crazy journey has been so worth it. And I am still amazed that I have changed so much. Who would have thought wild, crazy me would belong to a religious order: the Secular Franciscans… One of the things I love about St Francis is that he was blown away by what God did in his life too. He also had a conversion. He said, “If God can work through me he can work through anyone” and I feel the same way.

Saint John Paul the Great said it best  “Life with Christ is a wonderful adventure.”

That is what salvation is to me. God taking me, a prodigal daughter, a wretched sinner and completely changing me, bringing me back into His friendship… and making me into who I was meant to be.
God is good….

all the time.

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