#livelikePaul

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A year ago today a man I never met died.  I had never met his wife, although friends of mine know them.  But he was one of those rare gems, those people who you see their story play out on Facebook, through email… and you are touched.  You pour your heart and soul into praying for them, for their families.  Sometimes they are a baby or a child, like Celeste.  Sometimes it’s a famous person, like Joey Feek, who has a whole fan base cheering them through their suffering.  And sometimes it’s just a regular person, a dad, a grandma, a whoever.  But they have a quality that jumps even through a computer screen.  And that quality is something that shines out when a soul is ready for life no matter the cost, even if it means that they have to be ready for death.

Paul Coakley was a guy (so I’ve heard) that was a bit of a wild man.  Adventures galore and his greatest adventure was his faith.  Reading all the awesome stories of things he had done, and reading about how he would take time to go out and just pray alone for a day made me realize that saintliness isn’t crazy.  Taking what looks like “me time” but is really “us time” for you and Jesus is a key to getting there.  It’s something that I need to schedule and prioritize.

But oh, how hard it is.  When I’m standing at the ocean in June it’s so easy to pray.  Even when it’s cold breezes and salty sand in my shoes, there’s something that just eases my soul.  But now, in winter, in the cold and the gray I’m not there. My soul is in hibernation and I don’t know how to call it out.

So I’m going to pray to a guy who so many people know is a saint.  I’m going to ask him to intercede for me, for my soul… that instead of my soul hiding away that it can break free and take me on the adventure that God wants to take me on.  That all my worries, which have suddenly multiplied like waves before a hurricane and seem poised to drown me will recede with the fury of the ocean leaving with the tide.  That those worries, which can’t just disappear will fade out, until I can get that breather and be ready for high tide when it comes again.  That if a wave should overpower me I can just take a deep breath and relax in the ocean until I can surface again.  That instead of fearing the waves I can embrace God’s will and know that He will take care of me and my family and that we don’t need to worry.

I’m going to pray to Paul, so that I can live like Paul.  And also for a little miracle… just a little one for our family, but from everything I’ve heard about Paul I’m quite sure he’ll understand why we need it.

Pray for us Paul!

If you want to learn more about Paul and his wife Ann you can follow the facebook page here.

I will only settle for Joy

STORIES.jpgThis post contains affiliate links.  If you click on them, I’ll receive a small percentage of the sale. 

Thanks to a very dear friend, I’ve been able to read the latest trendy decluttering book: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo, or the “KonMari” method book.  Or if you are one of the many husbands hearing about it, the “Calamari” book.

If you haven’t heard about this method, it’s basically a distinct philosophy for how to go through your belongings and only keep those things that “spark joy”.  It’s not necessairly a “minimalist” method, because if many objects truly bring joy to your life, then you should keep them.  I highly advise reading the book if you think this sounds interesting because it’s not as simple as “go room by room picking things up and seeing if they make you happy”.

Anyway, reading through this has made me experience several “light bulb” moments.  The biggest one though is that I often tend to “settle”.  Everyone has a vision in their heads of what they would love their home to look like.  Sometimes it might be an impossible wish (I’d love a mansion!) but often it’s simple things.  But what I’ve done, through the years, is to settle.  Often because we didn’t have the budget for the things I’d really rather have, but for some reason we couldn’t wait and just went with the “good enough and we don’t hate it” option.

But now I really and truly feel that I can’t settle for anything except what brings me joy.  The first thing you are supposed to go through with the KonMari method is your clothing, and just thinking about it makes me a bit worried.  I know that there is very little in my closet and dresser that truly sparks joy in me.  I settle so often for the cheap thing that fits “ok” and isn’t quite the right color.  I settle for hand me downs that I don’t quite like, but aren’t terrible, because I feel guilty about not accepting free things when I’m on such a tight budget.  I settle for keeping things I’ll never ever wear, because I might wear them again if I lose 50 pounds, right? (No, the answer is no.)

So I’m sitting here, finishing up the book and saying to myself, “Don’t settle.  Don’t do it.  Reach for joy… embrace it.  Find the things that you really and truly love.  If you can’t find anything, wait!  You don’t have to buy something if you aren’t going to love it!  Save the money until you do!  And if you truly need it that day, keep searching until you find it!  You are WORTHY of joy.  You are WORTHY of having things that you love, that make you happy.”

Today, don’t settle for less than joy.  Do something small for yourself that will bring you a bit of joy.  Play a game with your kids.  Hide in the bathroom with earplugs and a bar of chocolate if you have to!  Hug someone. Curl up in a warm blanket and read a book that you’ve been putting off.  Embrace Joy!

 

 

This post contains affiliate links to Amazon. If you click on them and purchase something, I receive a very small percentage of the sale.

crosses are heavy, no matter what their size.

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I sit here, crying on and off.  My crosses are so heavy today that I can hardly hold it all in.  So sometimes, I’m not.

Then I read about the country singer who is dying.  Her husband reflects on the music video they made where they “imagined” that she had died and was singing to him about when she left.  And now it’s becoming reality.  His cross is so heavy.

And I think, “Isn’t that cross heavier than mine?  Why am I so unconsolable when my crosses are puny compared to his?”

But they aren’t.  All crosses are the same size.  The same weight.  Unbearable.

As they were going out, they met a Cyrenian named Simon; this man they pressed into service to carry his cross.
-Matthew 27:32

They pressed into service a passer-by, Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country, the father of Alexander and Rufus, to carry his cross.
-Mark 15:21

As they led him away they took hold of a certain Simon, a Cyrenian, who was coming in from the country; and after laying the cross on him, they made him carry it behind Jesus.
-Luke 23:26

As a Catholic, I believe that I can unite my sufferings to Jesus’s sufferings on the cross.  That I can “offer up” what I’m dealing with and in a way, become Simon of Cyrene.  The Catechism says this:

On the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the “sin of the world,” of which illness is only a consequence. By his passion and death on the cross Christ has given a new meaning to suffering: it can henceforth configure us to him and unite us with his redemptive Passion. (1505)

The suffering Jesus took on, the cross that he carried and was nailed to and died on, is something of worth.  It’s something we can all carry and take on.  And we do, oh do we all suffer.  But when unite ourselves with Jesus, we become Simon to him, and better than that, he becomes Simon for us.

Does that mean that he is going to come down from Heaven in a blaze of glory and say “Here, Rachel, let me take all your suffering and get rid of it”?  No.  Simon didn’t take the cross away from Jesus, he helped him carry it, eased the burden for a moment and helped give Jesus the hope and strength to continue on in faith.

So he’ll soothe my soul.  And send others to help ease the pain a bit.  Give me the hope and solace to know that suffering doesn’t last forever.  Eventually death will come, and with it the resurrection.

joyFULL

How did I bring Joy into my life today?

  • When Evie tossed me a couple balls, I juggled.  Complete with circus music and a “TA-DA” at the end.  She laughed and clapped and said “Again!  Again!”  So I did it again.  And again.
  • I let Grace go play with Gigi, while Zeke came over here to play with Jude.  The kids joy brings me joy.
  • When I had a meltdown over something sort of stupid, instead of blaming Chris, I apologized for the wrong I had done.
  • I pulled a bunch of junk out of one room and sorted through it and threw out a bunch of clutter we did NOT need.  Life goal: to not let ads from months ago linger.  Be gone with you trash!

I’m liking how I’m approaching things so far.  My goal is not to be happy smiley all the time because that’s not what Joy is.  Instead the goal is to look at my daily life, the things that happen all the time and transform each instance into a thing of Joy.

Word of the Year- 2016

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Ah, the annual tradition.  First, a look back at 2015.

Last year, I went with “Devotion”.  My December might be clouding my look back, but I feel as though I made strides, but not as much as I would have liked.  Did I increase in devotion?  Sure, in a lot of ways.  In others I think I realized that I need to get priorities in line.  Was it a worthwhile word?  For sure.  And it was probably the year that I thought the MOST about the word throughout the whole thing.

So.. going back in time.
2015: Devotion
2014: Embrace
2013: Be
2012:Do
2011: Harmony

Last year I spent a LOT of time thinking about what I wanted my word to be.  And I did the same thing this year.  I went out on my own, sat down and wrote some things out and was pretty settled on my word being “Time”.

And then I woke up this morning.  And cried a bit because we’re all sick (Chris has hand foot and mouth, the rest of us have various ailments).  And my house is a mess because we’ve been sick since before Christmas and I haven’t even recovered from Thanksgiving and I just wanted it to be done before the new year started.  And then I realized something about myself.

It is not in my nature to be responsible.

So with that in mind.. I’m changing my word to something that was nagging at me the last few days.  Something that I think is what I REALLY need this year.. not a responsibility or goal to work for like time management.  But something that was on my list of values from many years ago. Something that I think has been missing from my life.  Something that I think God really does want me to have, even in the midst of stress and depression and that dreadful temptation to hopelessness.

Joy.

Gunpowder Catholicism

Remember Remember the 5th of November….

For those needing a history lesson, today is Guy Fawkes day over in ye olde England.  It’s the anniversary of the “Gunpowder Plot”, when persecuted British Catholics decided to take matters into their own hands and blow up Parliament and King James I.

I’ve always thought it a bit odd that this was the plot.  Persecution and lack of religious freedom is no easy matter, of course, but my faith tells me that there is true value in suffering, especially the kind that involves persecution.  In fact, the gospel reading this past Sunday included this verse:

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you
and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.
Rejoice and be glad,
for your reward will be great in heaven. 

I don’t know if these guys just had enough and were willing to ignore Jesus, or maybe they had never really paid attention to the Beatitudes.  But it’s pretty clear to me that when things are going terrible and you’re being persecuted and perhaps even martyred, it’s worth it.  We’re not in it just for the rewards in heaven, of course, but it’s a nice consolation when things are terrible.

But really, today, I was thinking about how the general reaction to anything on the internet is basically “Gunpowder Catholicism”.  We read about the synod on the bishops and don’t like the report… blow it up.  Get rid of all the terrible bishops and start over.  We read the perspective of someone who has a hard time with a church teaching, go right and blow them UP.  School them in what the Church REALLY teaches.  We get in a debate with someone over politics, and darn it we will blow up those evil Democrats/Republicans!  DOWN WITH ALL OF THEM.

Is this really what we are called to do though?  Is this really the way to soften hearts towards the truth?  What was the result of the original Gunpowder Plot?  Did King James say “Whoa, these guys were willing to blow up the whole government, so yeah, let’s get some more religious freedom for Catholics!!”.  Heck no he didn’t.  The traitors were put to death and greater restrictions on Catholics were passed. In the same way, when we react with trying to blow up the internet with our ultimate truthy truthiness, we aren’t going to get the reaction we so desperately want.

There’s a time for a good punch in the nose for a heretic, as we all know from the life of St Nicholas.  And sometimes throwing tables and whipping the sellers in the temple is a viable option.  But one angry instance in the life of Jesus compared with hundreds or thousands of kind instances illustrates the sort of ratio we need to look to as an example.  As Proverbs tells us:

A gentle answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.

So, my typical method of operations is to mosey along, doing my ‘thang… until the Holy Spirit hits me over the head repeatedly with something.  Then I think about that something for an extended period of time, until I do something about it.   Usually I do whatever the Holy Spirit asks me to (generally a good idea).  And then the cycle continues… fix that problem, we’ll find a new thing to focus on.  Learn about that concept, ok, here’s something else that’s new.

Generally this is all moving me on a path closer and closer to what’s called “sanctity”.. or being holy, or saintly, or practically perfect in every way, and eventually maybe I’ll change my name to Mary Poppins (probably not).

Late last year/early this year, the thing that kept getting thrown in my path was the book Forming Intentional Disciples by Sherry Weddel.  The Holy Spirit even saw fit to have the author herself come to do a three day mission that I was able to attend EVERY night of (three nights in a row).  It was life changing, perspective changing, and overall confirmed for me that if I just listen to the Spirit, things work out really well.

Well, now it’s time for a new thing.  A thing that’s been nagging me for months/years.  But the Holy Spirit is really upping his game.  First it was some inner nagging of my soul.  Then some good blog posts on the topic, maybe someone mentioning it.   THEN I was required to give a talk that was basically telling a bunch of awesome people how to not be like me.  This week, not only have there been several emails in my inbox on the topic, but the homily today was all about it, and today there was a special email that was SPECIFICALLY about this thing.

What is, it, you ask?

Well.  It’s probably the simplest thing for any Christian.

Daily Prayer.

Maybe it’s not so simple as that.  When I look at others though, or ask for advice, and they are all “oh yeah, it’s no big deal”… well.. It seems so simple!  And perhaps it is for some people.

Anyway.  I’m just putting this out there.  I don’t have any great wisdom to share.  I just know that I have to do better at this thing, and maybe it’ll help someone else know out there that they aren’t the only person who struggles with this. Sometimes it’s hella hard to be a mom who stays at home, who homeschools, who has kids who don’t nap and are never quiet.  There’s no quiet space to read a religious book.  No quiet in which to “study” scripture.  No quiet space to spend in meditation or contemplation.  Heck, as I write this the toddler is in the same room as me talking to herself and the other two are fighting and causing the other to scream, while the husband cooks dinner and tries to break them up.

I don’t know what the answer will be.  But I did read something today (in an email from Blessed is She) that said that God so wants us to spend time in prayer that if we ask him, he’ll move mountains to make it happen.  If he can raise people from the dead, and heal the sick and the blind and the lame, and heck, raise HIMSELF from the dead and save us all from our sins… well, then he can get my kids to be quiet for a half hour.  Maybe.  I’m not sure if anything could get them to be quiet for that long and also not cause any trouble that would result in me yelling and having to clean up some huge disaster.

So that’s my prayer. Dear, sweet, adorable Jesus.  Please let me have a half hour of prayer time with you, in one block, every day this week.  And while that happens, PLEASE do not let the kids injure each other, burn the house down, break or destroy anything of value, or otherwise cause further distress for any person in this family.  Thanks.

Jesus.  I trust in you.