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Archive for August, 2012

In my kitchen, I keep a large bowl of fruit on the counter to make the never-ending task of keeping my children satisfied easier. Not too long ago, before all of my daughters could see over the countertop in the kitchen, it was common that they would stretch out on their tip-toes, extend their arm over the rim on the big fruit bowl and reach for whatever was within reach. My oldest daughter prefers apples, middle girl is an orange fiend, and for the youngest daughter it’s bananas or nothing. Very often, the fruit bowl raids ended with the bowl tipped over and the fruit rolling across the floor; which is why we now have a plastic fruit bowl.

The girls knew that their reach into the bowl would yield some type of fruit, but they continued to dig until the right fruit was found. The same was true for me years ago when I was reaching for something to fill that empty feeling in my soul. I was fortunate enough in college to meet a group of very dedicated Christians who displayed a raw sense of happiness that was foreign to me. They delighted in companionship, read scripture, and never, ever missed a Sunday service (a new concept for me, who would try to sleep until noon to not have to go to Mass). Seeing their gratification in God and how rich these people were in my life, I knew I wanted what they had. In other words, I had been brought to God’s kitchen and shown the fruit bowl, but was too small to see what was inside.

I started reaching blindly into the church experience, into the scriptures. I grabbed hold of some profound ideas and amazing situations, but they were short lived. I was rocky soil and the seed of God’s Word didn’t take hold. I realized I needed a step-stool to see into that bowl; the bowl being the multitude of Christian churches. Having been raised Catholic, I wanted to sample other denominations. I attended a Baptist church for a time, then a Lutheran. I enjoyed the sermons of a Methodist pastor in Lowell, MI, but felt completely lost in the mega-church – the one with the live band and the balcony.

My young adulthood was spent exploring the worlds of believers of Christ and witnessing for myself the variety of ways in which one can worship the same God, Son and Holy Spirit. All had their good points, but I realized that none, save one, was complete. I desired a church that had its roots in Jesus Himself and celebrated the accomplishment of the faith walk with sacraments and fed the congregation with more than the Word of God, but with the flesh and blood of God. I came home to the Catholic Church. I had seen over the rim of the bowl of Christian churches, and chose the Catholic Fruits of the Holy Spirit.

St. Mary’s Cathedral, Lansing, MI

I met amazing people in my faith walk and I accredit them all with helping me make my decision. Sure, I may not have chosen their church, but their church did help bring me closer to God. And that’s the point: we all, as Christians, do love the same God. But for me and mine, we are Catholic. Universal. A part of a global worship community whose leader is a descendant in spirit of Peter, the Vicar of Christ. So if you’ve never given the Catholic Church a second look, I encourage you to do so. I’m not trying to convert anyone, but just to set aside some misconceptions of the Catholic Faith, for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and it’s time to stop the sibling rivalry. Our Father in heaven loves us all.

For other blogs about my faith journey, see:

Feminine Genius @ http://wp.me/p26D2W-3c

Dealing with the Dark Side (Keeping the Faith while writing) http://wp.me/p26D2W-98

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Jesus told Peter to “put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch” (Luke 5).

Hmmm…deep water? Sounds like missionary work. Not just missionaries who travel to remote islands with a New Testament in hand, but missionaries within ten miles of where we live. Those folks who man the Soup Kitchens, distribute food and compassion, the Meals-on-Wheels deliveries, those who are filled with the Holy Spirit and act accordingly.

Deep Waters.

Taken while fishing with my dad – a tradition I hope lasts forever!

With Jesus as our guide, we can walk on those waters and not be sucked under by gravity or the undertow. Our faith can protect us from slipping under the consuming waves while we cast a life line out to those just under the surface.

On our dining room wall, we have a topographical mural map of the world. It’s wonderful for homeschooling, not to mention a great conversation center piece with guests. As my children and I sit around the table, gazing longingly at the world, we wonder where we will visit in the future.

Best Christmas present!

My daughters want to become missionaries and travel and share God’s love and message. We’ve read stories about people who have made the journey to South America and lived among the tribes in the Amazon forest; a woman who traveled through a war to arrive in China where she shared God’s Word; another woman who went to the Philippines and lived among a tribe and became their daughter and sister. The stories are wonderful on paper when years of weather, illness, struggles and deprivation are condensed into neat paragraphs.

The Deep Water we are called to navigate in order to share God’s Word looks pleasantly coordinated on our wall map. The rivers are neat blue lines, the oceans more interesting because we can see the ridges which lie hidden under miles of water. Missing is the understanding of what a jungle holds, how deep hunger can eat, and just how far of a walk it is to the other side of the mountain.

And I realize that my Deep Waters are nothing but a wading pool for infants. I may complain when splashed and perhaps I have even fallen in and soak my clothes, but I have never truly slipped under the water and watched the sky recede from view. Hunger only lasts as long as it takes for me to walk to the cupboard. I can go to a church which I choose and not fear persecution. My family is alive and well and living close enough that I can drive to them in a few hours. My children are healthy, we have a house, we drive two cars – we are living a good, easy life.

Am I following Christ? Do I have to leave everything behind and follow him? Is that what Deep Water Faith is?

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I am amazed at the similarities between gardening and raising children. We tend to the growing gardens of our children’s hearts and minds, trimming back the weeds of worldly distractions, fertilizing them with love and faith formation. There are days of rain followed by the warming glow of sunshine. Pruning isn’t always managed by a parent’s cautious mind, but it will happen none-the-less and we are there to help the growing start again.

Yesterday my husband and the kids picked cucumbers, tomatoes and carrots. They pulled all the basil, collected peppers by the dozen and rolled watermelons and cantaloupe toward the truck where Bill hoisted them into the back.

Then the work began. Canning: Wash, trim, snip, scrub, chop, boil. Then end product is a shelf full of colorful foods waiting for winter months and pots of soup. Months of sweat and dirt came home to hours of sweating in the kitchen. It is harvest time and we are gearing up for the long winter, preparing our cupboards for truly home-cooked meals. As I look at my pantry of canned foods, I feel satisfaction in my work and am eager to share it with my family.

But what is the harvest time for our children? Even in my adulthood, in my time of independence, I still turn to the wisdom of my parents, look for their guidance, seek their help.

Parents look toward the day their child becomes an adult, the day they move out, start their lives and become who they are meant to be. Reality is that it doesn’t happen in one day. I just turned forty and only now do I feel like I’m starting to become who God meant me to be. I graduated from college almost twenty years ago – had a career that directed my life – all before I came into my own. While I was independent, I still had much growing to go.

Just like farming, there are layers to harvesting our independence, different seasons of fruitful outcomes. Before we even planted a seed, we tilled the ground, prepping for the future – Infancy. Once the seeds were in we watered, weeded and waited – Toddlerhood.  As the vines spread and the sprouts emerged, we guided the growth on trellises and along poles. We clipped dying blossoms to keep the effort of growth on the stronger branches. Challenging us were beetles by the thousands nibbling away at leaves and weeks of drought leaving our earth parched – Adolescence. And finally, we harvested: peas and radishes, tomatoes and corn, beans and carrots, cantaloupe and watermelon, raspberries and potatoes, cucumbers and zucchini – Young Adulthood.

Then the real work began. Canning. True independence. Preservation…of our souls. Adulthood. Sometimes we are well-seasoned sauses or sweetened preserves. Other moments are pickles, steeped in sharp vinegar and tasty only with the right foods. But those sour tastebuds need time to accept the flavor and even those surprising tastes lend to richness.

In the fall seasons of our lives, we reap what we have sown. Be it weeds or fruit, it is ours and by our making. The colors of the season are more vivid to our wise eyes if we see the world in all its fall-time glory. For the weed-sowers, the colors mean only the coming of winter, the season of death and solitude.

I pray that the fall brings the joy of a season well-lived, a garden of fruitful meals made easier by a book of zucchini recipes and the hopeful anticipation of Spring – because it is sure to come.

 

 

 

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Mr. Obstacle, I will not surrender to you.

Mrs. Negative Thought, I will not be ruled by you.

Mr. Today, you have tried to beat me back but I will resist you.

Push me – I will not give . Shove me back – I will not budge. Slap my cheek – I offer you the other.

Yes, it’s true that I’m trying to do too much, but that was my choice. I will accomplish my tasks. What I’m doing is necessary. So I’m here.

And my purpose is here to stay.

Mr. Obstacle, Mrs. Negative Thought, Mr. Today – you will not be here tomorrow. How do I know that, you ask?

I know who is on my side. He’s bigger than you and He’s more loving than me.

And He always wins. And when I do His work, I always win.

My prayer to everyone struggling with something:

Lord, I hand over all our troubles to you. Care for our hearts, our minds, our souls. Help us to see your will in our purpose. Protect us from the attacks of Satan, the dark angel who works through policies and expectations of other, within red tape and circumstances, in our doubts and fears. Keep us strong, focused and patient. Amen!

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