Tag 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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….is the Thing with Feathers

hope

Another trip around the sun…. another year older and hopefully wiser. Hopefully. Hope.

hope-4

This word that came to me as I was choosing my saint for 2017 (or was he choosing me?). I used the saint generator I use every year. Here it is… go ahead… find out who your saint is for 2017: http://saintsnamegenerator.com/ 

So the saint that was chosen for me was St Jude, the saint of desperate cases … the saint of the impossible!  

st-jude

I immediately thought to myself, oh no!  Does that mean something horrible will happen to me this year and I will need his intercessory prayer?  Aaaahhh!  NO! … But as I read up on him I found out that he is the saint of HOPE.  Oh good. Something I need; a soft, comforting word that I can wrap my mind and arms around. Great word. Hope.

I found a wonderful intercessory prayer to St. Jude about hope that I plan on reading every day of 2017:

God the Father, give me hope. Help me to know that your hope is alive in me as I offer kindness, forgiveness, and tenderness to others. I seek the calm that comes from trusting in your hope and your healing presence. I trust that your servant St. Jude walks with me in all the blessings and challenges of my life, and intercedes on behalf of my petitions. St. Jude, fill my heart with hope.  Amen.”  

Last year was the year of Mercy… this year, for me anyway, is going to be the year of Hope.

hope-anchors

Do I need hope? Sure, don’t we all?  Was 2016 a bad year? Hmmm. Yes and no. As I look back on 2016 I am not deeply troubled as some people are… it seemed the end of the year many celebrities died and many people expressed (on Facebook) that 2016 was a horrible year… um… people die every year. I am more upset that my friend died unexpectedly and also my husband’s wonderful aunt lost her battle with cancer than I am with a variety of random celebrities dying …  

2016 did not start off good…  I spent the second half of my school year (as a special ed teacher) humbled and depressed, though, of course, my students were/are always a joy, that is not what ruined the end of my school year … I will not going into it now … just know that I will be careful how I pray in the future.

So this caused me to rethink my summer job. Every summer I worked as a teacher at Camp Connect, a camp for autistic students.  So, though I loved doing that, I thought I needed a summer off because of the rotten end to my school year. Heck I’m a teacher and I have the ability to have summers off! I may as well take advantage of it!  So I did. Bad thing about it~  no extra income coming in, so that was a bit of a struggle. But I am glad I rested and gave myself a break for once. Plus I was able to go to morning Mass. What a blessing.

One other major obstacle/hard ship that happened this year was our old, corroded pipes leaking and flooding the basement for months with horrific sludge. We finally got the pipes fixed and we cleaned up the basement… but that was a real nightmare for us for several months. NIGHTMARE. O.o … Owning a home… it seems that something always needs fixing… but I am grateful for this cute little house. Our home.

Good things? Sure, lots. Went camping off season (mid-June, right after school got out) with my husband and sons at Papoose Pond in Maine. I read several novels, rode my bike, swam and sat around the campfire. Bliss.  Since I took the summer off I decided to get season passes for myself and the boys to Water Country a water park in Portsmouth, NH. We had a very sunny summer! One of the high points of the summer was my annual trip up to Gunstock in Gilford, NH for Soulfest a three day Christian rock concert. It was amazing this year. I finally got to see Skillet!  They were awesome!  The three days was a blast, always a good time! Most memorial moment during the weekend… the crazy storm/flood that happened during Saturday evening mass and ended as soon as mass ended. Wicked cool. Holy epicness. or Epic holiness?

Another bad/good thing that happened to me:  winding up in the emergency room thinking I was having a heart attack in July … which in turn had me reassess my eating habits… and now I am down 15-20 lbs (though I probably gained some over Christmas). Keeping up that life style change.

One of the best things that happened this year was a successful Rachel’s Vineyard retreat for the newly formed (well…4 years) RV NH team.  We had an amazing Holy Spirit filled weekend… probably because we had an army of angels, saints and friends (church militant!) praying for us… plus I soaked the outside of the retreat center with holy water. Haha. I am so blessed to be part of this ministry and to have such beautiful women in Christ as my friends.  So thankful for them!

hope-2

Probably the most important “good thing” that happened this year was the defeat of Hillary. Yes that defeat was HUGE for me. She had to lose… because I could not live under that gloomy, oppressive liberal cloud for another 4-8 years. As I went to bed the night of the election, not knowing what the outcome would be, sick and fearing the worst, I prayed and hoped and prayed for this country. I believe a lot of people prayed and many novenas were said!  I was so overjoyed in the morning when my husband exclaimed, “He won!” that I literally wept. Thank you, Lord!  If she had won 2016 would probably have been the worst year for me. Seriously. That was an early Christmas present. January 20th cannot come soon enough. Hope and change, baby!

Resolutions?… humph. I usually don’t like to make resolutions…  but knowing that there is HOPE in my future no matter what happens I will make a few.  First one: I will read The Lord of the Rings trilogy.  I had my oldest son buy it for me for Christmas; I have never read it and I believe it is an important work to have read before I leave this earth.

hope-tolkien

Resolution two: save money instead of spending it and getting horribly in debt. This is a big issue for me…

Resolution three…. Three? I better not keep adding more… I will surely fail if I have a big list. I suppose I can pray that I will become more Christ-like this year… this is something I need to do daily and not yearly.

Wait! Resolution four: blog more! I hardly blogged in 2016…

One more thing as I leave 2016 behind… there was a lot of great Christian rock that came out this year: Skillet’s new album was probably my favorite. Other favorites: Switchfoot, David Crowder, Kutless, Tenth Avenue North, Needtobreathe, Relient K, Thousand Foot Krutch, Unspoken, Decyfer Down, Newsboys, Rend Collective …  I am sure I am missing some… great year for music. So I will end this year with one of my favorite songs of the year… all about hope… but of course.

Happy New Year!  God bless.

hope_is_the_thing_with_feathers

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Holy Cheerfulness

thankful

I have been kicking myself for weeks … months really, about not blogging…  what has kept me from blogging? … huh. Ya see I think I have a good idea but then I realize it is just angry ole me wanting to vent and rail about politics and how stupid and intolerant (especially those who claim to be tolerant!) people are… Yeah that’s what I want to write about!  My anger and frustration! This whole election cycle was CRAZY… before and after! I could go OFF on a rant about it… mostly disgusted at fellow Catholics who voted for her (!!!) … AAAHHHH… (thank God she did not get in!) …but that is not what I wanted to blog about today… I want to blog about what I am thankful for this Thanksgiving season.

Recently I seem to be battling daily niggling demons….  That feeling inside me of disgust, anger, frustration… it overtakes me and I stew and fume for hours about certain situations.. whether it be other’s (idiotic!) political ideology or just daily friend/work nonsense that irritates me…  I have a hard time letting it go…  the anger boils inside me and I really want to let someone have it. 

angry-girl

I found the only way to stop this irritating feeling is by prayer… by asking God to PLEASE give me the GRACE to be at PEACE! I want to lose that feeling of anger and frustration and just be filled with His peace and love…  so I let it go. I give it to Him. I pray. Sometimes just a small prayer, or a rosary, or a Divine Mercy Chaplet… and wonderfully… within minutes (sometimes hours) the feeling of despair and hate lifts. Those demons have been taken out (St Michael to the rescue!) and I no longer have that burden of loathing upon me. I am free. It is quite miraculous because sometimes I am really angry and I am “hatin’” bad… like I never want to speak to certain people again … it is that serious. It’s like this vermicious k’nid type demon has grappled upon my back, sinking it’s claws into me, seeping its evil venomous lies into my brain, poisoning me, smirking its yellow sharp smile, snickering and giggling as I fume on and on, temperature rising, steam pouring out of my ears, steely daggers slicing out of my eyes, hatred and mockery belching out of my mouth..… Yeah… that bad. I hate that it overtakes me so easily and turns me into something horrid, despicable… 

So I pray, beg, plead, because I do not want to feel this way… I do not want this fierce anger nesting in my soul. Unhinge this beast, Lord, and fill me with your pure light!  .. and He does. He answers my prayers. I am given the grace to overcome. There is no way I could do it without Him. No way. I am not strong enough. He gives me  …Holy Cheerfulness. I came upon this phrase today~ It is interesting that I read this chapter from Thomas of Celano’s  The Remembrance of the Desire of a Soul (the Francis Trilogy) today:

“This holy man (Francis) insisted that spiritual joy was an infallible remedy against a thousand snares and tricks of the enemy. He used to say, ‘The devil is most delighted when he can steal the joy of the spirit from a servant of God. He carries dust which he tries to throw into the tiniest opening of the conscious, to dirty a clear mind and a clear life. But if a spiritual joy fills the heart, the serpent casts its poison in vain. The devils cannot harm a servant of Christ when they see him filled with holy cheerfulness…’  The saint therefore always strove to keep a joyful heart, to preserve the anointing of the spirit and the oil of gladness.”

 I want to be like St. Francis,  (thus, as a Secular Franciscan, I follow his ways) but I need God’s grace to get there… to be always joyful and full of peace.

So this Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things…. from family and friends (to the election results!) … but most of all I am thankful for God’s grace. For the gift of Holy cheerfulness.

god-of-hope

 

 

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Nursed with the Word

After reading a quote from our beloved Papa Bene yesterday I was inspired to write this poem…

flower

Plant the seed of the Word

                      into me

          nurture it

water it

                      bless it

feed it with your light, Lord

call it forth

          whisper

                               songs

                                             psalms

       soulful

                        joyful awakening

Green heads popping up

          bursting through

my pain                         my sorrow                              my weakness

flowers 2

Let it bloom huge

                                     musky flowers

                   heady with intoxicating angelic perfume  

spraying hues of truth

                   through my veins

                                            And butterflied laughter

                             out my shining eyes

butterfly

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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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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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Filed under Catholic, Christian, Faith, God, Jesus Christ, Lent, prayer, The Cross

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.

shebrave-1shebrave-8.gif

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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Filed under Brave, Catholic, Christian, courageous, Faith, prayer, Secular Franciscan, special education, St Joan of Arc