He truly is I AM

He truly is I AM

2017 0404 BIS ImageIn today’s First Reading, the Israelites are complaining to Moses. Again.

Oh, those ungrateful Israelites. Shame on them!

Almighty God sent incredible plagues to thwart the Egyptians and split the Red Sea in two. He provided a way so His chosen people could leave the chains of slavery behind and enter the Promised Land. And still they grumbled and murmured against Him. I can practically hear them whining now: “We’re tiiiiiiired. We’re huuuuungryyyyy. This is awwwwwful. Are we theeeerrrre yet??” [Sounds like a few (or five) kids I know.]

Their lack of faith was not without consequence; the Lord sent deadly serpents to attack them. When they turned back to God and prayed for relief, He provided a way out. Only those who looked upon the bronze saraph mounted on a pole by Moses survived the serpents’ deadly attacks.

Yes. It’s easy for me to shake my head in disbelief at the immature and clueless Israelites. They grew weary and impatient and frustrated and doubted that God was making a way for them not only to survive, but to thrive.

Yet, if I’m honest with myself, am I any better than the grumbliest of grumblers in the desert?

Read the rest here.

photo credit: (c) blessed is she // used with permission

Who Am I?

Who Am I?

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In the silent stillness before dawn, I slowly opened my eyes, reluctant to survey the aftermath of the previous night’s activities. There were empty junk food wrappers strewn about the small room, as well as myriad red cups offering up their remaining contents to the already-stained carpet. The sickly sweet smells of alcohol, incense, and smoke clung to my hoodie and jeans and clouded my memory. As I slowly sat up, I noticed about ten or eleven other teens—male and female—still sleeping in whichever spot they found themselves when they eventually passed out.

As I finally came to, my thoughts came clearly and rapidly: What am I doing here? Is this all there is to life? Is this what my future holds? Who have I become?

Read the rest here.

Photo used with permission by Blessed is She.

Fear not! Advent help is here! (+ giveaway)

Fear not! Advent help is here! (+ giveaway)

Advent begins in six. days. Y’all. SIX.

I wish I was joking. But I’m as serious as a profound case of Vitamin D deficiency right now. SIX. 

Personally, I’m sure I will be scrambling to get some half-way decent Advent decorations up on Sunday afternoon before we have company over for dessert, and it won’t be pretty:

Where’s the Advent wreath? Why is it bent into the shape of a trombone??!

Why does this purple candle look like someone took a bite out of it? It’s a candle, people, not an apple!!

What have I told you about opening up Day 24 of the Advent Calendar on Day One of Advent??!

Okay – WHO STOLE BABY JESUS FROM THE LITTLE PEOPLE NATIVITY SET??!

(Side note: While I cannot vouch for the rest of the comedian’s content, this particular video about house cleaning before company comes is SPOT ON and hiLARious. My belly jiggled like Santa’s I was laughing so hard.)

(Side note #2: Those of you who read through this post ’til the end will be rewarded. 🙂

There is good news, though, friends. In the midst of the hustle and bustle of the impending holiday season, there is always good news. The good news in my world this year is that I don’t have to scramble for something to help me draw closer to the manger as I await the Christ Child this year. I am so very, very excited to dive into Scripture with the incomparable Elizabeth Foss, who wrote Blessed is She’s amazing Advent Journal.

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Used with permission by Gina @ Someday Saints

Not only is this journal beautiful to behold, my friends, but its contents … ahhhhhh! The contents I’ve allowed myself to peek at are like a warm cup of cocoa with your snuggie pulled to your chin sitting in your most comfortable chair on a chilly day with no one bothering you. It’s that good, y’all. Better, even. I can.not. wait to start. In fact, I am giving myself a teeeeensy weeeensy longer sneak peek tonight. Not too much. Just a taste. Because I, for one, want to savor and remember and really live the most important part of this season – that Jesus was born for you. And for me.

This Advent, I want to be overwhelmed by a huge God who came as a tiny Babe and Who knows me intimately*.

Will you join me? Today is THE last day to purchase in the U. S. for your journal to arrive in time for Advent.

So … no more anxiety about Advent, okay? Let’s breathe deeply the present of this time of waiting. Let’s journey together and breathe Him in.


*Be overwhelmed by a huge God Who knows you intimately. -Elizabeth Foss



Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click through this post to purchase the Blessed is She Advent Journal, a small portion of the proceeds go to my friend and fellow writer/speaker Mary Lenaburg. Thank you!


And now, as promised, here’s even more good news for you who’ve made it this far! Any RCM readers (please be sure to subscribe on the sidebar of my home page!) who click through and purchase the BIS Advent Journal through Mary Lenaburg’s affiliate links in this post (see above) between now and tomorrow, November 22nd at 5 p.m. PST will be entered to win their very own pack of original Blessed is She Jesse Tree Calendar cards! I used my own cards as a daily meditation last year with my family each day of Advent. So good!! Comment away, friends! One randomly selected winner will be announced*** on Wednesday, November 23rd.

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***UPDATE 11/23/2016: Congratulations to Sofia B.! She won the Blessed is She Jesse Tree cards. Happy Advent one and all!

 

Pleasing God vs. Pleasing People

Pleasing God vs. Pleasing People

october-3-2016-imageHave you ever thrown yourself headlong into a task only to discover that God is obviously asking you to pursue another route?

Consider today’s Scripture readings. The parable of the Good Samaritan is rife with thought-provoking themes, including the most obvious: every person, regardless of station, season, creed, or country is, in fact, our neighbor, and worthy of love and respect. 

Surely could write about that, yet it wasn’t where God was leading.

Recently, I read fascinating commentary that illuminated today’s parable in a whole new way for me: the Good Samaritan is Christ Himself, and the robbers represent us falling into Satan’s grasp. Ultimately, neither the law (the Levite) nor the prophets (the priest) can save us, but only Christ Himself Who takes us to an inn (the Church) to seek healing

I wanted to write about that, and, more specifically, how, even if we were to diligently study our faith until the moment we draw our last breath, it would be virtually impossible to unearth and savor every drop of its goodness because there is just so. very. much.

But that’s not what God wanted me to ponder today, either. He’s a mysterious One, that Holy Spirit!

As it turns out, God wanted me to write about my tendency to look to others’ approval and acceptance for my sense of self-worth. He wanted me to reflect on St. Paul’s words in today’s First Reading:

“Am I now currying favor with human beings or God?
Or am I seeking to please people?
If I were still trying to please people,
I would not be a slave of Christ.”


Take a moment to read my complete reflection over at Blessed is She.


So, do I place primacy of importance on pleasing God with my words and actions? Sometmes.

All too often, I still choose to consider what others will think of me or my husband or our family if I or we say or do this or that or the other. I’m telling you – it isn’t easy to be a recovering people-pleaser! Maybe you can relate.

Sometimes I choose the path of least resistance over the path of righteousness. I go with the flow rather than speaking the truth in love. I hold back or carelessly barrel ahead because doing so, at least on the face of it, makes things a bit easier for the time being. But as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI famously said, “We are not called to comfort – we are called to greatness.” 

Here’s praying that, with God’s help, we can follow His call with complete surrender, caring quite a bit less about what others think as we’re walking with Him.

God bless you!

heather

I’m running away, y’all

I’m running away, y’all

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As I type this, it’s so early that the sky is painted darker than liquid swirling at the bottom of an inkwell.

The birds aren’t awake.

Neither are my children.

Nor is my husband.

But I am.

I’m stealing a few moments in the pre-dawn stillness to type out a few things before I hit the road and then hit the coffee and then hit the friendly skies for a long-needed weekend away. On my own, I might add. Important detail, that.

My things are packed in a brand-new discount deal carry-on rolling bag because my old rolling bag is over 20 years old and has at least one bum wheel and I finally gave myself permission to replace it.

Last night after the kids went to bed, I (mostly) finished up one writing assignment and then I went and did something quite rash – I activated the auto-responder for my three email accounts.

“I’m away from my inbox,” the notice reads. “I’ll respond as soon as possible upon my return. God bless you!”

Activate? Yes. Save? Yes.

Some may be surprised to receive such a message from me; I’m still sort of surprised that I did it. I haven’t employed the “vacation mode” feature on an email inbox since I left the working-away-from-home world before our youngest was born in 2013. It’s been with a somewhat twisted sense of pride that anyone who needs to may get ahold of me via any manner of multiple platforms most all of the time, much to my immediate family’s dismay.

I have a difficult time turning off and tuning out. Call it “monkey mind,” call it FOMO (fear of missing out) – whatever you call it, unplugging doesn’t come naturally for some reason, and I’ve paid a price for it.

So, last night, after activating my vacation auto-responder, I turned the laptop off, took an uninterrupted shower, and went to bed at a relatively decent time anticipating my severely early wake-up call.

Sacrificing sleep this morning to be at the airport by 6 a.m. was totally worth it, though, because I’m headed across the country to spend time learning, laughing, and lounging with friends both old and new.

Did I mention I’m traveling by myself?

Before y’all decide you want to shoot me and my plane-hopping self straight dead, I’ve missed out on plenty other opportunities like this over the years. Were I in a season where I was hugely pregnant, or had a newborn, a contagious illness, an inconsolable child, an unemployed husband, an ailing parent, or the like, I would likely not be making this trip. But I’m not hugely pregnant. I do not have a newborn. I’m not contagious. My kids seem to be okay. My husband is gainfully employed. My parents, God bless ’em, are likely galavanting across the countryside somewhere on a trip of their own.

And so I’m leaving. And because I’m in the season I’m in, I don’t really feel that guilty about going. Thanks be to God.

+++

Recently, my Spiritual Director asked me what recharges my batteries. I didn’t have a quick response at the time. After several moments considering, I finally answered, “I need time with people who not only like me, but love me, and enjoy conversations about deep things and silly things and real things and want to hang out and eat good food and have a glass of something and solve problems and encourage and commiserate and collaborate and validate and cry and pray and laugh until our sides ache.”

And you know what amazed me? He said that I should go and do just that very thing at least a few times a month or, preferably, once a week. And even more stupefying – he really meant that I should.

Sure, Father – no problem, I snarkily responded inside my head. Once a week. Or a few times a month. Are you gonna watch my kids? And do the laundry? And take people to choir / volleyball / whatever practice? I wanted to ask. I think the astronauts in the space station orbiting Earth could see my eyes interiorly rolling at the prospect of regularly scheduled, fun (gasp!) time away from my responsibilities.

My laundry list of how and why Father’s scheme couldn’t possibly work in a million years began scrolling through my brain:

My husband. Five demanding young children. School stuff. Extracurricular activities. Volunteerism. Ministry considerations and tasks. Blah, blah, blah ad nauseum.

And yet, nowhere on that long list of why I should or shouldn’t do what he recommended was my name or my actual needs or my wants.

Typical.

I say, “typical,” because I have long been afflicted with what my friend Rebecca calls ‘self martyrdom.’ I, like many women I know, think that by putting everyone and everything else before myself, I will be holier, healthier, and happier.

Well, perhaps this model of constant sacrifice and dying to self works magnificently for some women, but in my particular case, the exact opposite is true. Neglecting my physical, emotional, spiritual, and psychological needs has NOT made me holier or healthier or happier. It has caused much heartache and many problems, the bulk of which I won’t go into now.

And so, with slight trepidation (because change weirds me out), enthusiastic encouragement from my spiritual director, and support from my husband, I’m slowly learning to consistently put myself on my extraordinarily long list of things and people to take care of. Simple, right? Simple conceptually, sure, but, for me, not necessarily easy.

Because … that list, don’t you see? The list. And the guilt.

When I first heard that the Blessed is She writing and creative team would be gathering for its first-ever retreat this Fall, my heart leapt at the opportunity to be with my co-workers in this amazing apostolate and then sunk at the specific obstacles that most assuredly would prevent me from joining in. Money. Time. Responsibilities. Money. Stuff.

And yet, not long after expressing my desire to attend the retreat to my hardworking husband, more details emerged that made getting there seem possible. And then my husband found a killer deal on airfare. And, blessed man, he bought my ticket. And, just like that, I was going.

Check out #bisteamretreat on social media this weekend to follow along!

And so, as fiercely as I love my husband and my children, I am most definitely running away for a few days. I can’t promise I won’t look back while I’m away, because that’s not in my nature. But I can promise that I am for sure leaving behind the guilt that often prevents me from fully enjoying myself. Hallelujah!

Oh – and I am going to work on finding a way to make a casual local gathering happen on a regular basis, because, holy heck, Batman – who can afford to fly across the country every time they need a break?? Certainly not I!

One last thing – even though I’m technically returning to the chaotic throes of family life on Sunday evening, my auto-responder says I’m away from my inbox until Tuesday, and I’m holding to that, since Monday I’ll be very busy yet again waking and feeding and clothing and chauffeuring and ushering off the school-aged kids, and later I have a very important appointment to bake brownies and snuggle on the couch for a good, long while with my preschooler, because that time with my baby boy sorta recharges my batteries in its own way, too.

Have a good weekend, y’all.

heather

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