Monthly Archives: March 2013

reflections kick my butt

As I mentioned a few days ago, Sr. Helena’s book “He Speaks to You” reflections have been spot on for me lately.  As I am in my own spiritual battle, these reflections most days are just what I need to wake me up with a swift kick in the pants!  Today’s was no exception.  Here is the opening excerpt:

People claim they want to be free.  But often what they want is a perfect world according to their own tastes. They want Me to intervene when they need something fixed, but they want Me to stay out of the rest of their affairs.

Ouch!  Convicted!  Lately, this has been my frame of reference.  Why can’t the world just see things the way that I see them?  Why can’t God make men (and other women) be nicer to each other and see the good in each person versus judging and using one another for their own personal needs?  Why….. why….. why….  Of course, all of these why’s align with my own sense of what is right or wrong.  And we all know how on target my thinking can be — NOT!  *sigh*  I would want God to intervene and make life easier in some ways like removing all of the temptations that lead me to sin.  Because as much as I don’t WANT to sin, I do anyway.  As St. Paul says in Romans 7:15:

For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate.

So, once again, here I sit, convicted of the very thing I hate!  And as much as I ‘think’ I want God to intervene, I have to be honest and say that when He has, I haven’t been all that happy about the intervention. 😦

Under the ‘Words of Wisdom’ section of today’s reflection, it reminds me of why I really don’t want God to intervene….

Because of suffering, some people contend that God cannot be all-powerful, all-just, and all-good.  They argue that He’d like to help us, but can’t.  This, of course, is not true.  If God kept directly intervening, we wouldn’t be free.  (emphasis added)

So, the reality is that I love my freedom too much to give it up.  I love the ability to be able to discern what I believe God is calling me to do and then being able to make the choice whether I want to rise to the challenge and do it or not.  Many times, I respond quickly and jump right in and get to work on that challenge.  Many times, I haven’t.  That is when I have sat by the wayside way too long whining and crying about how bad life is.  But, eventually, something or someone gives me that kick in the hind end that gets me going.  Thankfully, those I love are willing to do that sometimes.  I would like to say that I don’t ever really need that kick in the pants, but since I don’t know of an opportunity for confession now with the Triduum starting tomorrow and Easter only days away, I won’t go there.  🙂

So, as angry and frustrated as I get when the world doesn’t conform to the way that I think it should run and am oftentimes hurt by the actions of others, I need to keep reminding myself that if I want my freedoms, so do others.  I need to recognize their right and ability to do things their way.  Now, I don’t have to say that I will agree with them and say that no matter what they think, it is all okay (for that is relativism and THAT is an evil in and of itself; there is Truth and that is my goal).  But, I do have to recognize their own innate right of freedom, the same right that I have.  We all have the right to do good or to sin.  My prayer is that my choice is always for the good and if I mess up (as I know I will) that God works with me and brings good from the bad.

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removing the shroud is very unsettling!

This post is one of the more difficult ones that I have written and shared.  I am sharing this now for any other women out there who may be struggling like I am.  When struggling in my life, it feels many times like I am all alone in my thoughts and feelings.  But, I have found that ‘aloneness’ is just part of what the devil wants us to believe.  The reality is that we aren’t alone at all.  So, this is for anyone out there feeling alone in their fears.  Know that you aren’t alone at all.

Many people who have connected with me on facebook already know, but in the last year, I have lost a lot of weight.  In fact, 63 pounds to date.  I started a diet program with my doctor last year on Easter Sunday.  It has been successful in many ways as the weight loss has also brought a relief in not just the pressure on my joints/body, but also through the diet we have stabilized my insulin levels, blood pressure and acid reflux disease.  So, in all, it has been a positive effect on my life.

As I have lost the weight, a few people have noticed and commented.  But, most of the comments have come more recently.  I guess I just reached a point where it became obvious and so it wasn’t as politically incorrect to say something to me about it. 🙂  But, as the weight has gone, so has my cover.  I have always known that many of my weight issues went much deeper than just eating too much and being lazy.  That was the actual ’cause’ of the weight gain, but the psychological causes were the driving force behind the food and laziness.

As my ‘cover’ has been removed, I have found myself feeling very vulnerable.  Not a feeling I enjoy at all!  I know it is good that I have lost the weight and I REALLY don’t want to gain it all back again, but boy is Satan having a field day with me over this!  Between feeling embarrassed by the hanging skin (and no I will not consider surgery to remove it), the realities of the foods I won’t enjoy regularly again, and the psychological ‘scars’ from earlier in my life, it is a battle not to just give in some days and drown my sorrows in a big bag of Dove dark chocolate, a bag of doritos, a bag of Chips Ahoy chocolate chip cookies and a 2 liter of coke.  (Yep — you now know my poisons of choice when I am at my weakest.)

My weight was my shroud.  It was my cover.  It protected me from leering eyes and kept others from wanting to use me.  No one really wanted to grope or use a 230+ pound whale after all!  You see after being groped by a neighbor when I was just beginning to go through puberty and then being used and abused by my high school boyfriend,  I found the ‘cover’ that the weight provided me very protective.  The heavier I got, the safer I felt.  When I got married, I felt safe again and lost most of the weight.  But, then after being groped by one of the volunteer’s in my youth ministry program, I found it easier to hide behind the weight and so I carefully added the layers again.  After 5 babies, the layers kept layering on thicker and thicker.  Until finally, my health was suffering.  And that brings us to last Easter. *sigh*

I don’t think most men understand how women can feel used by a man’s looks, whistles, facial expressions etc.  Most guys think they are just ‘appreciating’ a woman’s beauty by doing that.  The reality is that a woman wants to be loved  for WHO she is, not what she looks like.  Her looks and appearance are important to her as they are part of who she is and is what makes her unique in many ways (hence the primping all women like to do once in a while).  But, it isn’t until a man is allowed to see into her soul and her goodness on the inside that he can truly determine her beauty.  I know most of us are like I am… no one really sees that side of me… except for my husband.  The reality is that a woman WANTS a man to see her as a total entity — body and soul.  And it is very obvious to a woman when a man isn’t looking at her like that.  The saddest part is that our culture is training men to look at a woman exactly how she DOESN”T want him to look at her.  And it is teaching the women that she needs to play this part to ‘get’ the man.

So, as I adjust to this new reality in my life, if I seem a bit unsettled, please bear with me.  Through the grace of God I am battling the demons of my past and WILL come to terms with this new vulnerability.  But, in the meantime, my baggy sweatshirts are still handy for those days that are shakier than others. :-/

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battling the urge to run

Spiritual warfare is hard.  I don’t know if I have ever realized before just how hard it is.  Or it might be that I just didn’t realize I was even in war at the time.

In this battle, Sr. Helena’s daily reflections on suffering this last week have really struck a cord with me.  Another one that struck me said:

Suffering is unavoidable.  You don’t want to run from My cross.  If you run from My cross, you may find yourself staring at a pitchfork!  I only permit you to suffer here.  Satan wants you to suffer hereafter.

Being a visual person, I can’t get that image out of my mind.  Me, being faced with the struggles in my life, blindly turning to run away from them, and finding myself staring down the tines of a pitchfork.  Yikes!

Then, in the ‘Words of Wisdom’ section, she shares this gem:

The first step to facing unavoidable suffering is suffering with acceptance.  The second step is suffering with love.  Eventually, love takes over.

So, when the urge strikes me to just run and get away from the struggles and pain, the pitchfork comes to mind.  Once the pitchfork comes to mind, it is pretty clear as to what my path needs to be.  The path smoothed with acceptance and eventually paved with love.  That is the only way to move forward toward Him and heaven.

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strength while in spiritual warfare

As I mentioned in the last post, this Lent has included a strong reminder that Satan is very present within our world and our lives.  As I have struggled with this reminder of Satan’s presence and desire to destroy the good in my outlook, mood, and overall life, I turned to a book I purchased before Lent started.  It is Sr. Helena Burns’ new book, “He Speaks to You”.  It is a daily spiritual exercise including a short reflection, Scripture passage, Words of Wisdom, suggestions and prayers.  There are two sections that I (a typical bi-polar mother who tries to be faithful to the Gospel) love.  One section is called “To Do” and is for the Martha in me.  And the other section is titled “To Journal” and is the present for the Mary in me.

For the last week, the “theme” of each day has been about suffering.  ‘Getting hit between the eyes with a two-by-four’ would be a good description of how these days’ reflections affected me.   The one that hit me first was:

My cross is offensive.  My cross is ugly.  My cross is brutal, but it is Good News.  Do you believe that?

Look at this passage in the light of Jesus saying this to you.  It is SOOO believable when I look at it that way!  But, then turn it around and take it in the first person.  Think of a cross you are battling in your life.  The first 2 1/2 sentences are VERY believable when turned around — but what about the last sentence and a half?  Good News?  HA!  How can ugly, offensive and brutal struggles in our lives be Good News???  When we are in the throes of pain due to those struggles, they look like anything BUT good news!  But, that is where we are looking at them with ‘our’ eyes.  We need to look at our struggles from God’s eyes and trust.  Trust that He does indeed love us and want what is good for us.  By realizing this, we can finally turn the situation around and know without a doubt that we can and will defeat these struggles!

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spiritual warfare

I have to say that although I did not make blogging regularly a Lenten goal this year like I did last year, I still thought I would be able to blog more frequently as I spent my time in prayer and reflection.  Alas, that didn’t happen.  Instead, I have found myself at war with the devil.

For the first few weeks of Lent, things seemed to have started off smoothly.  I was doing great on the very low calorie diet with fasting.  I was doing daily morning prayer and scripture reading.  I was taking part in the Sacraments like Mass and reconciliation and attended adoration when possible and all seemed to be going well.  I was comfortable with where I was and with whom I was.  But, I should have known better.  When you are feeling good about yourself, that is EXACTLY when Satan starts in on us.  And he is so sneaky!  He slips in the little crevices of your life so that you don’t even realize that he is there for a bit.  Then, when you do know something is off, it is still hard to pinpoint exactly what is the issue.  You just know something is wrong.

So, if you are anything like me, you try to address it.  I thought progress was being made and things would improve.  And they did.  For 2 days, things were spectacular again.  But, then the big one hits.  That is when you realize the earlier shakiness you felt were just warning tremors.  This one is the main earthquake with a 7 or 8 level of devastation.  Everything around you that you believed about the world and your life has suddenly come tumbling down around you and you realize that nothing is as solid as you thought it was.

Again, if you are anything like me, you sit and look around at the devastation and realize that nothing is going to be the same again.  Period.  And so you grieve.  And you feel sorry for yourself.  And you want to scream at everyone that it just isn’t fair, that you didn’t ask for this.  And you wonder why nothing ever goes right for you.  Why would God do this to you?

But then, with the help of a good friend, you realize that you don’t want to let Satan win this war.  You are willing to put aside your own feelings of pain and to fight with everything you have against Satan’s plan. And so you go to war, battling as fiercely as you can.

I don’t know about any of you, but war is tiring.  And when I get tired, I start wanting to give up.  I start wanting to remember my pain and how unfair that it all is.  I start focusing once again on the ‘me’ as victim and getting angry again.  And once again, I find myself as weak as a kitten.

The only strength any of us have in this war isn’t ours.  It is our compassionate Lord’s strength.  For without His grace, I know I would be in that puddle on the floor crying my eyes out with the injustice of this world.  With His grace, I can and will hold my chin high and fight for that glimpse of heaven.

This is what I have learned this Lent.  And it is way more powerful than anything I ever set out to do during these 40 days.

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