Friday, February 28, 2014

No sir, those are my feet...

Special delivery just for you, Mary!

You know, living in the (kinda-sorta) country has its good points, I'll give you that. Lots of space, no streetlight glaring through your windows during the night, stars galore, fresh air - the list of good things could go on and on. But...

...the water here smells really funny. As in *bad* funny.

Eggy in fact.

You turn on the tap to brush your teeth and are assaulted by egg water.

I don't get it.

I got over the nighttime howling wolf thingy - they weren't wolves at all, really. No, they were roaming packs of coyotes attacking their prey with a glee that would curl your toes.

The bears? Well, the bears don't eat meat. At least not yet.

And I can accept that the (kinda-sorta) country may have a few intrinsic odors of its own. I mean, let's face it, septic systems and horse farms come with their own special brand of "fresh country scent", don't they?

So it's all good.

But the water?


 ...I cannot accept the water. I'm not even sure it IS water.

Rotten egg-scented well water?

Do you know what that means, folks?

That means you hard boil your clothes in the egg-scented water and then the dryer bakes the scent in. And if you throw in a few "fresh linen clean" scented dryer sheets? You get "fresh linen clean
egg-scented" shirts, pants, socks, sheets, towels, etc...

The problem with egg-scented socks is it results in egg-scented sneakers and egg-scented shoes. And you can't just toss your shoes each week. 'Cause that would be a sin my friend and I would be remiss if I didn't mention that fact on a Catholic blog now, wouldn't I? So you go about your days with a mild egg-scented air about you.

This is a problem. Why? Because not everyone understands that the odor is coming from your feet and when I am in crowded places and someone sniffs at the air I get paranoid. No sir, those are my feet...I swear it's my feet and not my breath. My Triple Blast Arctic Air Peppermint Fields Peel The Paint Off Your Walls Mouthwash carries a minty fresh scent guaranteed to kill 99.99% of all odor-causing bacteria in existence. 

When someone says, "You smell that? What is that?!" I cringe. Yes, I cringe. No sir, I didn't break that unspoken cardinal church rule which Catholics 9-months-old and up in pews around the world instinctively know (it's passed down in the genes methinks) that only coughing is allowed at Mass AND. NOTHING. ELSE. So I make a big production of checking out the bottom of my shoes so that the people behind me will know that I'm wondering where that foul odor is coming from too. 

It's the bane of my eggsistence.

 I know, I know, that was REALLY bad, Mary...the worst you've ever done.

Any advice out there from my fellow bloggers who live in the country who may or may not have a high manganese level in their well water? 'Cause I'm pretty sure manganese is the culprit because our feet always smelled just fine until we moved into the country and odor-eaters will only work for just so long. 

Plus, I'm not really sure if secretly rolling deodorant on your feet and in your shoes each day is a *good* thing. 

Chemicals, you know what I mean? Though, I have to let you in on a little secret: my socks are REALLY white. Just a little cleaning tip for my dingy-footed friends out there.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Ten Posts I Love!

I am not only a blogger but a blog reader as well. Every day I come across posts from other bloggers that stand out for me - they make me laugh, cry (or both), or they touch my heart in an extra special way. I don't always have time to comment on every post I read so I thought I'd show my appreciation by linking to some of the posts I've loved in the past couple of weeks (in no particular order).

Melanie's post Hanging By My Fingernails at Joy of Nine - I could relate, Melanie!! As a reformed control freak I could relate! (Of course, I didn't know I was a control freak at the

Nancy's post My Bells at The Cloistered Heart - Because my heart hungers for the "insistent rhythm of their voices" as well. This was beautifully written.

 Colleen's post Love Your Enemies at Thoughts on Grace - Because we all need these reminders of God's great love for us, even when we are not at our most lovable. Which is often the case for me lately it seems. (Begone Winter!!)

Heather's posts at Mama Knows, Honeychild - Every single post makes me laugh! I found this blog through the Sheenazing Blogger Awards and have been reading it ever since. This is what my daily life usually resembles!

Sue's post Letting Go of Another of Thomas' Places at Sue Elvis Writes - Her soul-searing honesty when she writes always gets to me. She is not only a very good writer, she is also the most versatile writer I've seen.

Bonnie's post What I didn't know I had lost from PPD at A Knotted Life - My heart hurt reading this post. I always felt like I "missed out" on the newborn stage of my daughter's life because of PPD, no sleep and higher than normal pain levels with the Myasthenia Gravis at the time. I needed help badly, more than any other time in my life, and was too proud to ask for it. So I rocked my beautiful baby girl and cried for three months. After struggling with infertility for so long I thought the joy of finally having a child would offset any PPD but those first few months were the: Hardest. Of. My. Life

Mallory's post Twenty Easy Ways to Become a Saint at His UnEnding Love - Because you all know how I LOVE lists! And I especially love lists on how to become a saint! I read the list and thought, "perfect".
Except for the fasting...which brings me to the next post on my list:

Connie's post Pizza and disordered attachments at Contemplative Homeschool - Well I don't even have to tell my readers why this one struck a nerve, do I? Didn't think so. Connie has the remarkable gift of making things seem: Not. So. Overwhelming. It's the way she writes - I've always been drawn to a straightforward manner of writing. Especially when it comes to my spiritual life. I mean, I like fluffy stuff too but not when it comes to my spiritual life. I'm really looking forward to reading her book, Trusting God with St. Therese when it comes out in a few months.

Victor's post No Peace... at Time For Reflections- Amen. Amen. Amen. This is what it is all about:  " We also use every remembrance to pray for the one who hurt us. We hand that person over to God as well as the hurt itself."  Beautifully said, Victor. We turn our pain into an opportunity to love.

Oh, and I really enjoyed your "History Lessons" as well, Victor! They cracked me up. (Sorry about the Roman potty habits link I put in your comment section! Mea culpa! Mea Culpa!)

Patricia's post The truly unbearable Agony of Jesus... at I Want to See God (I love the name of this blog) - This post takes my breath away. No one writes about the Passion of Our Lord like Patricia does. No one.

Okay, so maybe I lost count here. But I really enjoyed writing this post and I think I might do it regularly because there were quite a few more links I wanted to put up!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Mercy - Limited or Not?

Robert la Longe - Sacred Heart of Jesus

Does mercy have a limit?

Yes and no. Mercy is limitless on God's end, it is on our end that mercy has it limits. In other words, mercy is limited by the narrowness and constriction of our own hearts. God's mercy has no limit but we can limit the expression of God's mercy by saying no to it. God is willing to forgive all of our sins but...

(There's always a but, isn't there?)

... we have to forgive others as well.

When we pray the Our Father we say, "Forgive us our trespasses AS we forgive those who trespass against us." We see here that forgiving others is one of the conditions for receiving mercy. We have to forgive others if we want to be forgiven ourselves. At the very least, the desire to forgive must be present, Jesus will help with the rest. Desire is a great thing - it leaves a large opening for God to work with.

Not forgiving others means that we want them to be held bound for their sins against us. The wound was too large, too brutal, too cruel to ever be repaired, how can I forgive?  This holding bound their sins in turn holds us bound to our own sins while at the same time it binds us in a negative way to the very person we refuse to forgive!

How can that be?! I mean, they did this brutal terrible thing and I could reap what THEY sowed? Huh?

Doesn't seem to make sense, does it?

Until we realize that unforgiveness has the potential to be one of the worst sins of all. It is not a quality from God. Ever. It has one source and the source is evil. According to St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, evil is defined as "the absence of good". So, technically evil is not a something, it is an absence of something. In the case of  sin (of unforgiveness or any sin) it is the absence of virtue to some degree or another. For instance, satan is evil because there is no good in him. He is virtueless. We, on the other hand, are kind of a mixed

The definition of evil as the absence of good is an important observation because it helps us understand how to overcome both the sins of others against us and the sin we see in ourselves. For the first, we would ask for the grace to forgive, as well as the virtue of love and humility to battle against the lack of love and the pride which leads to unforgiveness. For the second, we would pray for and practice the opposing virtues of whatever vices we are trying to rid ourselves of.

Unforgiveness can lead to a hardening of the heart and if this potential for hardening is fulfilled to its ultimate capacity its end result could be the complete and utter hardening of the human heart, which grace can no longer pierce because the person has refused to allow it to be pierced. It's a total turning away from God, a refusal to love AND a refusal OF love.

In some ways, unforgiveness, if held to the end of life is worse than murder. Why? Because  unforgiveness is basically the intent to impose spiritual death. This is the spiritual intent which lies beneath unforgiveness - that a person should reap what they sowed for all eternity. Though we may not see it as such, it is an attempt to usurp the authority of God whose mercy is given to all who ask with sincere hearts. It is an attempt to usurp the justice of God as well. It aligns us with "the accuser of our brethren" instead of aligning us with the Lord, who is rich in mercy.

Unforgiveness is saying to another, "You are not worthy of mercy."

God says otherwise.

"My mercy is greater than your sins and those of the entire world. Who can measure the extent of My goodness? For you I descended from heaven to earth; for you I allowed myself to be nailed to the cross; for you I let My Sacred Heart be pierced with a lance, thus opening wide the source of mercy for you. Come, then, with trust to draw graces from this fountain. I never reject a contrite heart. Your misery has disappeared in the depths of My mercy. Do not argue with me about your wretchedness. You will give me pleasure if you hand over to me all your troubles and griefs. I shall heap upon you the treasures of My grace."                (The Diary of St. Maria Faustina Kowalska)

(This post has a second part because it was too long to post all at once. With Lent coming up I thought mercy versus unforgiveness would be a fitting subject to write about. The second part speaks a bit more about the importance of forgiveness and delves into what the Catechism teaches about it.)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Into the Silence

Artwork: Night by Edward Burne-Jones
One foot in time

One foot in eternity

O, be still my mind

Be still my soul

For in the deepest silence

of the human soul

lies the peace which

surpasses all understanding

and in the quiet chambers

of a peaceful heart
                                                                time stands still

                                                                and eternity begins


Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you! You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you.        St. Augustine

Cultivating inner silence is an important part of prayer. In the midst of the clamor of the world, which is louder than ever in our day, I would go so far as to say this silent time is imperative for most of us because it is in the silent sanctuary of our souls that we find the rest we so desperately need, it is there we find the "peace that surpasses all understanding". When we search for this peace on the surface of our lives it's hard to find but if we look at the calm beneath the storms of life, if we turn our gaze to the inner recesses of the soul, there we find God's steady presence.

Rather, I have stilled my soul, hushed it like a weaned child. Like a weaned child on its mother's lap, so is my soul within me.       Psalm 131:2

And behold, the veil in the sanctuary was torn in two from top to bottom.  Mt.27:51

Thanks to Jesus we may enter the "inner sanctuary" - that place in our innermost being where God and the soul are in intimate communication.  It can be compared to the Holy of Holies in the temple. That place "beyond the veil" which we cannot see with our physical senses but become aware of with our spiritual senses.

Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?      1 Cor. 6: 19

The ark of the commandments you shall bring inside, behind this veil, which divides this holy place from the holy of holies.            Ex.26:33

You yourself are His dwelling and His secret chamber and hiding place.       St John of the Cross

Time seems to stand still in the inner recesses of our souls. I never quite understood how this could be exactly but a good guess is that our souls don't experience time in the same way our physical bodies do. Our souls, I guess you could say, stand outside of time in some strange way, even as our physical bodies stand very firmly IN time.  Because we are body, soul, and spirit we exist both in time and outside of time. This is the reason a person can experience heaven as a spiritual state of being while still in time. Our souls rest in God who is beyond time.

What more can you desire, what more can you seek without, seeing that within you have your riches, your delight, your fullness and your kingdom; that is your Beloved, Whom you desire and seek? Rejoice, then, and be glad in Him with interior recollection, seeing that you have Him so near. Then love Him, then desire Him, then adore Him, and go not to seek Him out of yourself, for that will be but distraction and weariness, and you shall not find Him; because there is no fruition of Him more certain, more ready, or more intimate than that which is within.     
                                                  St. John of the Cross (A Spiritual Canticle of the Soul)

Here are a few beautiful scripture passages (along with  the verses and quotes I mention above) that I have been meditating on recently that deeply resonate within my soul whenever I think of the indwelling of The Holy Trinity:

I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.                 John  17:23

"Be still and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10

"Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts become troubled or afraid." John 14:27

Thursday, February 20, 2014

A bit of an odd question but humor me, please...

It's been a little while since we've moved from the city to a small town and things are going well but...

...does anyone know if it's *bad* if your stink pipe is buried under mountains of snow?  I mean that candy cane shaped thingy (which I decorated for Christmas in red and white FYI) that off-gases your septic system? (Or I'm assuming that's what it's for? Not that we need off-gassing or anything like that siree bob...but, well, you know how it is.)

I cannot find it. Seeing that I haven't lived in the sticks for all that long and am not "septic savvy" I was wondering if any of you knew the answer to my question?

I googled it but couldn't find the answer anywhere. I'm wondering if I have to go on a search, find and shovel (No do not insert the word that just popped into your brain...begone satan, this is a Catholic blog! Shoo!) mission or if I am all set.

This post will self-destruct as soon as I get an answer.

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Joy Thief


"We would like to get back to our innocence and joy, but they are cold and sepulchered."          
                                                                             Archbishop Fulton Sheen

The Seven Deadly Sins steal your joy. But perhaps none so much as the deadly sin of sloth, also known as acedia. If you lack joy in your life this may be the deadly sin to look at first, so great are its detrimental effects on the soul. Sloth is the head "joy thief" because, well...that happens to be its job description. It is sadness in the face of joy, sorrow for the things of God. Or as Peter Kreeft, in his book Back to Virtue, so bluntly describes it:

"Sloth is the most depressing thing in the world. It is hell on earth. It finds our very highest joy - God himself - joyless. If Joy himself is joyless, where can we find joy? If salt has lost its saltiness, how can it be restored? If the very light in us is darkness, how great is that darkness?"

This is the best explanation of sloth that I have ever seen. Sloth finds Joy himself...joyless.

Scary, huh? Sloth is like walking around in the bright sunshine with a huge black cloud hanging over your head. You can't see the light for the darkness that surrounds you.

St. Thomas Aquinas says that sloth is a "sluggishness of the mind which neglects to begin good...its evil is in its effect, if it so oppresses man as to draw him away from good deeds". So, sloth is not only joyless, it is neglectful as well.

Those who are encumbered by this deadly sin walk this world in a half-hearted fashion and I believe it is one of the biggest problems that this century is faced with. Those who are lukewarm almost always have a problem with sloth. Sloth is a spiritual torpor, a listlessness of the spirit that leads most often to sins of omission rather than sins of commission. Rather than confronting this joyless spirit head-on, many try to escape it by frantically rushing around in an attempt to outrun the heaviness in their hearts and the sword of sorrow hanging over their heads. This is where sloth gets ugly, for in trying to escape it we make matters worse. Sloth doesn't like to confront, it likes to avoid. It is a spiritual languor that says, "I still have time...I'll take care of spiritual matters tomorrow. Today I just have too many things to do - I have to get this shopping done, the game is on, these e-mails have to go out, my blog is waiting (hmmm), etc...

Here are a few of the signs (or symptoms, one could say) of sloth:
~ An aversion to prayer - this can be mild or great depending on how deeply rooted this vice is
~ Aridity
~ Lack of zeal
~ Disorganization
~ Confusion (spiritual)
~ Apathy or discouragement
~ Boredom
~ Putting off tasks or leaving them undone without good reason
~ A lack of awe
~ Ingratitude
~ Sadness (melancholy)
~ Excessive activity that hides a spiritual languor - too busy for God

The seven deadly sins tend to be "intertwined" with each other like interlocking pieces of a hellish puzzle. For most of us there tends to be one particular deadly sin that takes precedence over the others. In other words, it is the "kingpin" and hitting the kingpin helps take down the other deadly "pins" that have attached themselves to our souls.

Sloth is sneaky, irresponsible, and apathetic when it comes to God but there are remedies for this vice and one of the ways we tackle it is by practicing the opposing virtue. In the case of sloth/acedia the opposing virtue is diligence. Exercising virtues builds your spiritual muscles. Another virtue which opposes sloth is charity.

It's important to remember that joy isn't a "thing" to be grasped. Joy is alive. Joy is a person.
Set your heart on God and there you will find your Joy.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Ding! Oh, I get it!

How to tell you just may be spending a bit too much time on Facebook?

Well... know you've been on Facebook too much when you try to respond to comments on Blogger and that dratted comment just won't publish no matter how many times you hit enter.


Am I the only one who has ever done this?

Yeah, right. Fess up, Facebook friends. You know who you are.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Stealing Heaven

Christ and the Good Thief - Titian

Alas, dear Christ, the dragon is here again.
Alas, he is here: terror has seized me, and fear.
Alas, that I ate of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.
Alas, that his envy led me to envy too.
I did not become like God; I was cast out of Paradise.
Temper, sword, awhile, the heat of your flames
and let me go again about the garden,
entering with Christ, a thief from another tree.

             St. Gregory

Who can help but love St. Dismas, the "good thief" who stole heaven with one simple, heartfelt sentence: Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. 

I've always thought that the story of St. Dismas reflects the true depth and beauty of God's mercy. During times of trouble, I often repeat the words he spoke to Jesus to remind myself of the greatness of God's love for his people.

God bless all the "wicked saints"  whose great witness to God's mercy reaches into the hearts of  poor sinners everywhere.  They are a  reminder to us that we should never lose hope - that conversion is possible, even into the last moments of someone's life. We all have people in our lives who seem to have little to no interest in God and maybe some of us have lost hope that they can change, but this should never be the case. True conversion is always possible and our prayers can help.

I remind you, My daughter, that as often as you hear the clock strike the third hour, immerse yourself completely in My mercy, adoring and glorifying it; invoke its omnipotence for the whole world, and particularly for poor sinners; for at that moment mercy was opened wide for every soul. In this hour you can obtain everything for yourself and for others for the asking; it was the hour of grace for the whole world - mercy triumphed over justice.    (Jesus to St. Faustina, The Diary of St. M. Faustina Kowalska - 1572)


Friday, February 7, 2014

Dust Makers

Do I HAVE to take a bath?

Do I really trust God?  Do I have total faith in Him and in his love for me?

As much as I'd like to answer those questions with a big fat YES, I can't do that. I WANT this total faith and perfect love... but I just don't have it yet. I have faith and love but it's not perfected yet.

"Perfect love casts out fear."

Simply put ... I have fears. And what are fears but little pockets of despair that need casting out?

Fears that I fear "Perfect Love" has not yet rid me of.

Mostly I fear my own obstinacy. I see certain attachments so clearly and still procrastinate in ridding myself of them.  I'm afraid I'll get caught with my hand in the cookie jar.

 Because, as St. Augustine so bluntly eloquently puts it, "Having You, I might have naught besides."

Naught. Nothing. A big fat zero of nothingness. And that I'll have to wait for years in this state of nothingness until the Lord sees fit to end the nothing period and fill me so full of Himself that the nothing disperses into everything.I wonder if I'm the only person on the planet with this fear? I hope nobody answers that.

So I cling to my "somethings". I call them my little "dust makers".

Because that is what they'll eventually be, right?

 Dust. I cling to dust. Though I must admit that chocolate flavored dust is especially yummy. If I graciously thank the Lord for it often enough I wonder if He'll excuse my over consumption of this very fine dust product.

A bigger fear?

That I won't detach myself from all these little dust makers in time and I'll go before the Lord and clouds of lingering dust will surround AND trail my soul.

Kind of like Pigpen from Peanuts.

And my biggest fear?

The Lord will cough and choke out, "Let's get you off into Purgatory and give you a nice bath!"

And that the "bath" water will be too hot.

Just sayin'.

Okay! Nice and clean! You can come out now!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

The Double Yoke Syndrome - Lack of Faith

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

As long as I look at myself, my eye is filled with bitterness. But if I look up and fix my eyes on the aid of the divine mercy, this happy vision of God soon tempers the bitter vision of myself.
                                                                                  St. Bernard of Clairvaux

In the first part of this series I wrote about how despair over circumstances, ourselves, or other people may stem from a need for the virtue of hope. I stated, "Half the problem with feeling doubly yoked is what we believe about ourselves and others mixed with what we may not believe nor trust about God." Here in this next post I'd like to tackle this second aspect of feeling "doubly yoked", a lack of faith in the goodness and mercy of God.

 You can see how this would be a huge obstacle. How can we give ourselves to someone we don't completely trust?

We can start learning to trust by throwing out our false ideas of who God is.

No more believing in an ineffectual God that smiles benignly down upon his people, rarely interacting, never intervening. God is a god of power.

"I AM"

Then Jesus approached and said to them,"All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me."                 
"And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the world."                 Mt 28:20

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "the one who is and who was and who is to come, the almighty."        Rv:1:8

No more believing in a lightweight God who dispenses"cheap grace" when the mood strikes him. God is generous and grace is rich and freely given.

"And I tell you, ask and you will receive; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you."                           Lk 11:9

"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest."      Mt 11:28

"From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace..."                    Jn 1:16

The necessary grace is there waiting for us. Jesus assures us of this truth.

If what He is saying holds true then why may we feel "doubly yoked" at times? Where does the problem lie?

With us. The problem lies with us.

We lack faith and therefore have trouble receiving.

We block grace through our unbelief.

"If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,' and it would obey you."

"O you of little faith, why did you doubt?"                       Mt 14:31

When temptations to doubt plague us we can push them aside, refusing to trust our own thoughts rather than God's thoughts.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord. As high as the heavens are above the earth so high are my ways above your ways and my thoughts above your thoughts.          Is. 55:8-9     ( Ch 55 - An Invitation to grace - Beautiful!)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not; in all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.              Prv 3:5

In this way, we overcome the tendency to doubt. We place his ways above our own.

We boldly approach the throne of grace.

So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help.           Heb: 4:16

Confidently, because we are relying on Christ's merits, not our own. This is where people get confused at times, they confuse confidence with a lack of humility. Truthfully, it is the opposite. When we approach God, we are trusting in his goodness, his love, his merits. 

Humility seeks help, pride runs away from it. And what walks hand in hand with pride?

Despair. Once again we come back to despair - that hefty beast that is too heavy to carry. This is why, as I mentioned in my last post, faith, hope and charity are so necessary - they are the three vital virtues that keep our feet firmly on the path of salvation. We cannot do without them. So let's humble ourselves, ask the Lord for the help we need to carry our crosses, and believe that He will answer our prayers.

Let souls who are striving for perfection particularly adore My mercy, because the abundance of grace which I grant them flows from My mercy. I desire that these souls distinguish themselves by boundless trust in My mercy. I will provide them with everything they need to attain sanctity. The graces of my mercy are drawn by means of one vessel only, and that is - trust. The more a soul trusts, the more it will receive. Souls that trust boundlessly are a great comfort to Me, because I pour all the treasures of My graces into them. I rejoice that they ask for much, because it is my desire to give much, very much. On the other hand, I am sad when souls ask for little, when they narrow their hearts.            Our Lord to St. Faustina, Diary of St. M. Faustina Kowalska -1578

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Cure for "Double Yoke Syndrome" Part 1

Hope in a Prison of Despair: Wikimedia Commons

The food we feed our minds and the things we tell ourselves make a great deal of difference in whether our cross feels light or heavy. Half the problem with feeling doubly yoked is what we believe about ourselves and others mixed with what we may not believe nor trust about God. I joked around in my last post about people feeling doubly yoked but there's a great deal of truth mixed in with my rather lame attempts at humor. Many people do feel overwhelmed and weighed down but the truth is that feeling heavily burdened is often the result of a lack of hope.

Despair is the heaviest thing in the whole universe. Even a little bit is hard to carry.

What we believe or disbelieve about ourselves can leave us locked into patterns of living that make it more difficult to respond to God's freely given grace. If we don't believe that we, or others, or even a situation, can change we have the tendency to slam the door on grace. Very often there are hidden areas of hopelessness in our lives that God yearns to touch deeply with his grace but because of the things we believe about ourselves and others we keep the door closed through our own hardness of heart. A strong and stubborn belief can be a hard obstacle to remove. It can be done but we have to ask God to open up these painful wounded areas to hope. As in "Lord, please pour your hope into this area. I have difficulty believing I can/she can/he can change and I hand it over to you. Touch this part of my life with your grace. May the light of  hope cast its rays on the dark corners of my heart and may your love be the balm that heals this brokenness within me. "

Basically, when we don't trust fully in God or his word, we end up with hidden areas of despair in our hearts. We discount grace. We believe in a cheap grace that is not powerful enough to effect change in ourselves or others.

Hope is a "power" virtue and a "living" virtue. Without hope touching every aspect of our lives parts of us crumble and die inside. The easiest way to destroy someone? Strip them of their hope. Anyone who has ever lived in a state of despair can understand the debilitating effects of a lack of hope. Hope grows things... hope nourishes faith and love and brings about their full flowering.

Those of you who are gardeners have probably heard of "companion planting". This is when we group certain plants together to increase their strength and ability to survive and bear fruit. The same is true in the garden of your heart: faith, hope and charity work together to nourish the soul. These are virtues that God has infused in our hearts. Here on earth, they work in tandem. Strip one away and the others begin to fail.  When virtues fail like this we leave space in our hearts for the Seven Deadly Sins to set in. They are the "weeds" in our gardens and if not removed tend to take over the whole thing.

When I began praying for hope to light up all the areas in my life I felt hopeless about I began to see huge changes in my life. It doesn't matter the size of the issues you are despairing over, large or small He wants to open these areas to the light of hope.

"For I know well the plans I have in mind for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare, not for woe, plans to give you a future full of hope."              Jer. 29:11

"And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us."               Rom 5:5

Monday, February 3, 2014

Double Yoke Cake

Photo source - Wikimedia Commons

 One Type A personality
 2 cups of "there's not enough time in my day"
 1 ounce "sure I can do it no I don't need any help"
 1/4 cup grated nerves
 A dash of Martyr Complex*
 A tablespoon of bitterness
 2 teaspoons of  snake oil

* may substitute a pinch of God Complex for a heavier cake

Mix together in well ain't life just a bowl of cherries!

Bake one hour in the oven of resentment.  Remove and sprinkle liberally with hubris.

Caution! Very hot under the collar - handle with care. Makes 365 servings


Do you often feel weighed down, overloaded and overwhelmed? Shoulders stooped by the weight of your "enormous, I'm telling you, Lord, it's huge" cross? Wondering what might be the reason for this seemingly unfair distribution of the world's troubles upon your narrow shoulders?

When you read Jesus' words, "for my yoke is easy and my burden light", does "oh no, Lord, your yoke weighs a ton" automatically pop into your mind? No matter how hard you try to push the thought out or ignore it?

Well, I hate to break it to you but you just might have "The Double Yoke Syndrome".

What? What do you mean I made that up? Me?

I would never.

Well, maybe just the name. The syndrome certainly exists, I can assure you.

No, don't ask me how I know. I'm trying to slim down and feed on lighter fare these days.

Though, I have to admit,  my new steady diet of Humble Pie a la mode (and yes, I scream) is giving me a bit of heartburn.