Holy Spirit nudges

Holy Spirit nudges

It began like most other days; I realized with great resignation that there were, as usual, many more items on my to-do list than hours and energy with which to complete them.

And then, somehow, I remembered it was the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary, one of my all-time favorite Marian celebrations.

Encouraged, I did something I hadn’t done in ages: I asked Mama Mary to grant me extra grace in my vocation because, honestly, I needed all the help I could get. It had been a rough few weeks with no relief in sight. I hoped the Blessed Mother would take pity on her overextended child and throw me a spiritual bone or 12.

Wouldn’t you know it? The Queen of Heaven and Earth heard my cry and answered in the most gentle and powerful way. Throughout the day, I heard the Holy Spirit whispering simple promptings into my heart. The most peace, joy, and satisfaction that day happened when I heeded and obeyed God’s voice.

Now I know what you’re thinking: I experienced peace and joy by listening to and — gasp — obeying God? Yes; I get it. An amazing concept, right? But as I have likely proved via previous content in this space, I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Things just don’t quite sink into my stubborn head … until they do.

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photo credit: @Sunyu used with permission via unsplash
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When the Holy Spirit whispers

When the Holy Spirit whispers

 Today began like most other days – I awoke with the resignation that there were, as usual, many more things on my to-do list than hours and energy with which to complete them.

And then I remembered that today is the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary – one of my most favorite feasts of all time.

In the relative stillness of my heart, I boldly asked for extra grace from Mama Mary today because, hey, I obviously need it, and hey also, she doesn’t have anything better to do, amIrite?

Wouldn’t you know it – the most grace – and joy! – came from doing a few pretty minor things that the Holy Spirit whispered onto my ‘to-do’ list … things that weren’t necessarily my idea but His.

Finding joy in listening to what God asks and actually obeying His wishes? I know. What a concept. 

But as I have likely proved via ample evidence a la this blog specifically and random musings on social media in general, I’m a bit slow on the uptake. Things just don’t quite sink into this stubborn head of mine … until they do.

Whisper #1: Be with Me.

Even though I wasn’t dressed in my Sunday best, I’d actually changed out of my pajamas, brushed my hair, and my face was clean-ish … and the littlest offspring had honest-to-goodness shoes on their literal feet … so I decided we would all go to daily Mass. If the only thing we did was go to Mass today, surely that would be something, right?

As is my custom during the proclamation of the Gospel, I closed my eyes and held an impossibly wriggly child, hoping His Word would somehow seep into the marrow of my being, healing and soothing and resurrecting each of my dry bones.

Sure enough, as Father read these words, tears welled up in my eyes:

“And Mary said:
‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.'”

In a special way, today I heard these words as if they applied specifically to me:

My soul proclaims and rejoices.

He has looked with favor upon me, His lowly servant.

He has done great things for me.

Holy is His Name – I praise Him.

It was impossible to ignore the personal, practical application of the text, even as I unsuccessfully wrestled the 3-year-old boy who has, of late, been uncharacteristically clingy.

The proclamation continued:

He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever.”

Underneath the currents of the literal meaning of these words, I also heard:

He has shown mercy to me.

He shows mercy to my children.

He lifts me up.

He fills me up.

He comes to help me.

He remembers the promises He has made to me.

He remembers the promises He has made to my children.

Tears of joy.

The lesson from Whisper 1? I love you, Heather. I always have. I will never forsake or abandon you. I give you myself. Forever.

This experience, coupled with the graces received by receiving Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, propelled me into …

Whisper #2: Celebrate Life.

I reasoned that I had to go to the store anyway, so why not pick up a few extra things to drop off for a friend’s birthday? After all,  I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate this Feast than by celebrating her life, especially as ridiculous scheduling and sickness and life has kept me from seeing her IRL as often as I’d like.

Whisper #3: ___________.

I’m not gonna go into too many details about this whisper because it’s still in-process. I did what I felt the Spirit was asking, but I don’t think the eagle has landed, so to speak. Suffice to say – maybe someone will feel encouraged and uplifted today because I took a moment to consider her needs as more important than my silly, superficial to-do list.

Lessons from whispers 2 & 3, respectively? Be His hands and feet. However and whenever He calls.

The rest is really just silliness – every single bit of it. The very best to-do list is the one that is crafted by the Holy Spirit. Hands down and chin up.

God bless y’all.

heather

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Beginnings (Day 31)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Beginnings (Day 31)

Beginnings blog title

I wanted to title this post 31 Days of Unexpected Joy:

“Completion!” or

“The End!” or

“Sayonara, sucka!” or

“I did it!” or (my personal favorite)

“Insert Hallelujah Chorus Here!”

But instead, I chose “Beginnings,” because, well, I feel like I’ve (re)learned a lot during this crazy 31-day writing process, but it’s not over and done with – not by a long shot. I feel like, in many ways, I’m just beginning. And beginnings feel fresh, new, and promising, which is good, especially since I feel a bit tired, weary, and worn.

On Monday morning, CatholicMom.com is scheduled to publish an article recounting some of the spiritual lessons learned during this challenge. Read it here! Meanwhile, here are some of the nuggets I picked up (or recalled) along the way, in no particular order:

I am really stubborn. Or crazy. Or both. (Is this really a surprise, people?)

I can write about myriad topics even if I am not “feeling” it.

I can try new things, and I am up for big challenges – still.

I can follow through until the end just for the sake of saying I’ve finished.

I can be consistent. But I can also bob and weave a bit as necessitated by the needs of my family (see photo-heavy posts, shorter entries, late posts, etc.).

There’s nothing wrong with a little order, a little chaos, and a little help from friends to bring you through to completion. Thank you, Bobbi, Rez, Mary, Abbey, JulieSterling, CristinaLaura, Jenny, and others for the companionship and solidarity, and extra special thanks to guest-bloggers Laurel and Melissa who encouraged and inspired me along the way.

Joy is not a feeling. It does not change because of my circumstances or feelings, rather:

Joy is a reality. I only need to choose to enter into that reality with the help of Jesus my Lord.

I am weak, but He is strong.

Through Him, I can do hard things. I am a conqueror.

And, yes – admittedly – I am a very tired conqueror.

Thank you so much, dear reader, for sticking it out with me. I hope you have learned something – anything – from following along this past month. I can’t promise that I will post anything tomorrow – it is the Lord’s Day, after all – let’s just let Him have it. But until next time, I pray for wonderful beginnings for you and those you love. God bless y’all.

heather

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sacrifice (Day 30)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Sacrifice (Day 30)

You’ve heard it before:

No pain, no gain.

And maybe you’ve come across this:

No trial, no triumph.

Here’s the one I’ve come to understand a little bit better this past month:

No sacrifice, no joy.

Now, it’s one thing to sacrifice something and experience pride because of it – and there’s nothing wrong with a healthy sense of pride over a job well done.

The joy I’m talking about, however, comes from an interior knowledge that you’re uniting the discomfort of your present circumstance with the Ultimate Suffering of Christ on the Cross.

This month, our church encouraged its parishioners to offer up extra prayers and sacrifices in honor of Respect Life month. Multiple crosses made from construction paper sat on a table in the narthex awaiting someone’s written description of their offering. Once complete, the crosses were affixed to a larger cross at the front of the church, making a beautiful collage of prayer to support the dignity of life.

Here’s mine:

Respect Life Cross

I think there’s gotta be a rule about one’s sacrifice losing efficacy should one constantly grumble about it. Same with talking about one’s sacrifice with anyone who will listen. After all, “God loves a cheerful giver (2 Corinthians 9:7).”

So I tried really hard not to do those things.

But dang.

It’s honestly mind boggling that, even thirty days in to the month, I am still jonesing for soda or juice or milk or iced coffee. Mmmm. Coooffffeee.

The good news is, as best I understand it, that I’ve had way more opportunities to offer up my minor inconvenience and suffering (small ‘s’) for human life. And, hopefully, rather than being too proud of sticking to my promise, I’m taking it in stride, experiencing a deep sense of joy that comes from knowing that, even in my small way, I’ve entered in to the mystery of Christ’s redemptive suffering on the cross.

(And I’d be lying if I didn’t add that I’m excited about coffee on Sunday. C’moooon November 1st! Amen.)

Until tomorrow, may God bless y’all in His loving kindness.

heather

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31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Daily Mass (Day 29)

31 Days of Unexpected Joy: Daily Mass (Day 29)

What can separate us (2)

When we lived in Alabama, we were extraordinarily blessed to attend a parish that offered not one opportunity to attend daily Mass, but two. My husband worked across the street from the parish, so we regularly attended as a family, both during our homeschooling season and when the children were at a parish school.

It. was. awesome.

We were so incredibly fed – and healed – during this season of near-daily Mass attendance. Hearing the Word of God every day? Receiving His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity every single day? There’s just nothing, nothing in the universe like it.

Now that we’re back in Oregon, we’re in a different season. We are lucky if we make it to one extra Mass a week. But I am so grateful when we do.

Today was one of those days.

And it didn’t take long for me to feel God’s presence even as I attempted to keep the little people from climbing all over the pew. As the familiar verses from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans washed over me, I got misty-eyed:

“Brothers and sisters:
If God is for us, who can be against us?
He did not spare his own Son

but handed him over for us all,

how will he not also give us everything else along with him?

Who will bring a charge against God’s chosen ones?

It is God who acquits us.

Who will condemn?

It is Christ Jesus who died, rather, was raised,

who also is at the right hand of God,

who indeed intercedes for us.

What will separate us from the love of Christ?

Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine,

or nakedness, or peril, or the sword?

As it is written:
For your sake we are being slain all the day;

we are looked upon as sheep to be slaughtered.
No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly

through him who loved us.

For I am convinced that neither death, nor life,

nor angels, nor principalities,

nor present things, nor future things,

nor powers, nor height, nor depth,

nor any other creature will be able to separate us

from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


So, what can separate us from the love of God, my friends? Nothing. Nothing.

And that is something to be eternally joyful about. I’d bet my life on it. Today’s recommendation: attend daily Mass if and when you have the opportunity. It will change your life.

Until tomorrow, God bless y’all!

heather

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