Overwhelmed vs. Trust

It is so easy to feel overwhelmed. Everyone and everything wants to claim one’s attention, and there is a constant juggling of priorities as they conflict. Daily Mass, adoration, spending time with Daniel, school, attempted quiet time, this activity, that activity, calling home, spending time with fellow students–and the list goes on. Where does it end? With death, I suppose. There are so many things that I really want to do, committing every hour of every day…but I can’t bear the thought of the exhaustion and irritability that inevitably follows. Because of the lack of time, I can not really get a job; and so the stress of living off of loans until I am out of school bothers me.

This quarter is going to be very reading intensive. For example, next week’s homework just for our Scripture class is 11 chapters of Genesis and 40+ pages in another book. Probably about 20-40 pages to read for each of the three other classes, and some group work and market research for the fifth. I enjoy it for the most part, but I often feel that my brain is going to explode if I cram any more information in there. However, I have survived two weeks of class and it has not yet happened…this leads me to believe that I might actually be capable of learning, and so I keep plugging away.

I am learning to love the ocean more and more. Last weekend I went up with Daniel to the beach that his family stays at for a week every year (we will be going tomorrow, too). Playing with the kids, being in a family environment, sitting in the sun, feeling the sea spray, having the wind tease my hair, and watching the waves crash against the rocks brings such a sense of peace. To think that God, who made such an expansive and beautiful world that shows us His glory…made and loves each of us “more that we could ever want him to love us” is awesome.

In the past week, I have frequently been reminded that we do nothing through our own power; without Him, we can do nothing (Philippians 4:13). Everything is done by His grace. Think about that…each breath, every inclination, every choice we are presented with, every action, every capability is from Him. Although He desires us to place all our trust in Him and choose to love Him unconditionally–a mere reflection of how He loves us–He respects the free will He gave us so much that we are allowed to choose otherwise, even though it hurts us. With this before us, pride makes absolutely no sense at all. As Daniel put it, it is as though He gave us a green light and a red light…what makes us so special for choosing the path with the green light?

Therefore: if we can do nothing without God, and everything in Him…then there is no reason to be overwhelmed. If this is the path that God wishes me to take, then I will thrive. If not, then I will learn something and hopefully get back on track with His will. And hopefully I can learn to pray and love and trust more completely, so that I am not so likely to fall back into myself.

So, I ask your prayers. For a good school year for myself as well as all of my fellow students; that we are able to fulfill our duties to the best of our ability and leave everything else to God in trust.

On a bit of a different note, please also pray for Mrs. B (our Theology professor’s wife) who is almost 10 months pregnant and is being induced tonight. Pray that everything goes well and that their adaption to life with a baby around isn’t too difficult.

Now back to homework…God bless and Mary keep you all.

Advertisements

Never change

Once in awhile, a small comment I receive keeps my thoughts occupied for a long time. I received one such comment today. Someone at work told me “you always look so elegant…don’t change. Some homeschoolers, after they graduate, think that they have to change and ‘get with the times’. Never change.” Although I may not always wear the same clothes, do my hair the same way, have the youthful appearance that I have now, I think there is a deeper point.

Archbishop Fulton Sheen said that (paraphrasing) “when you meet someone after many years and they say, ‘my, how you have changed!’ – there is something that remains the same. If there was not, they would not recognize you at all.” That something that remains the same, is the core of the personality that God has given each of us as humans. Father Kentenich often admonished us to “remain genuine”.

This is not to say that we can not grow and mature. We just have the task to always remain genuine to the person that God created us to be! It is so easy to get caught up in following the crowd…and then we lose God – and in losing God, we lose ourselves. The best way to find ourselves is to find God. If we ask and listen, He will show us the proper expression of our personality. Although it may not always be pleasant, we will have the “pendulum security” (another expression of Fr. Kentenich) of being held firm even as life swings us from one extreme to the other.

Lately I have often been wondering how the impressions of California will affect me. I am trying to not only prepare physically for leaving, but also prepare spiritually. I believe that I have a strong personality, and God has blessed me with many graces…but how do I prepare for the unknown, prepare for the temptations, sorrow, sacrifices and dicipline that will be necessary? I have only lived with my family, and for as long as I remember, I have lived in semi-rural areas. I have only had to live with other people for limited amounts of time (retreats, camps, pilgrimage, etc.).  If I don’t want to encounter certain people and/or situations, it is simple – I minimize my contact with them! Although I see them sometimes, there is always plenty to do at home and with family. I have been blessed with the opportunity to avoid much of the “junk” that assails the average person.

Although I generally do not have to deal with popular culture on a daily basis, I often feel the many effects of societies sinful undercurrent. My family is not perfect by any account, and is not untouched by worldly ideas. My circumstances are not picture perfect, the people I associate with are not all saints. Very few people I know share my ideals; some ignore them, some scoff at them, some are indifferent. But somehow our Blessed Mother has chosen me for herself, has protected me, and has formed me past anything I can take credit for. In this I find confidence that everything will turn out fine…I will never change…I will remain genuine.

Busy and blessed

I have been so busy and blessed! I have worked, spent over half of a day at Schoenstatt, gone to a few picnics, watched the preview for our new show (at Fireside), got a few things organized, sent in the final loan application for school, read, and last but not least…had many good conversations. I am so blessed to be used as an instrument in so many little ways to help in “building up” Schoenstatt. It is awesome to think about the power of prayer, little sacrifices, and small conversations.

Today I work, and then will be going out to Schoenstatt again for the weekend. We are having our yearly girls youth leaders convention, where we have some formation time and then choose our motto to use for retreats, camps, and meetings for the year. Please pray for me, as I am one of the “head” leaders in the area and so have to lead many of the discussions. It is kind of fun, but quite challenging.

Several things I have read recently have been on love. I find it very fascinating…I don’t know how people can separate (or try to separate) love from God, it makes so much more sense when it is ordered and thought about from that view. Right now I am reading John Paul II’s “Love and Responsibility”. It was hard to get through the first definitions, as I am not used to reading philosophy – but I have found the book to be very enlightening. It has presented a different way of thinking about love to me, not because of different content, but because of the difference in the way the thoughts are presented. I highly recommend the book to older highschool youth and all adults. 😀 It just might take a little work to get past the first part.

And now I must go to work – but I would like to share this list/article of what “Maturity is.” This was published in my homeschool yearbook from 9th grade (I used a program that year). I have used it as a guide and means of education; I think there is a great lack of maturity in both our youth and all adults, and we need to recognize the need to become mature, especially if we expect to grow closer to Christ. “When I was a child…when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (1 Cor. 13:11)

Maturity is the ability to handle frustration, control anger, and settle differences without violence or destruction.

Maturity is patience. It is the willingness to postpone gratification, to pass up immediate pleasure or profit in favor of the long term gain.

Maturity is perseverance, sweating out a project or situation in spite of opposition and discouraging setbacks.

Maturity is unselfishness, responding to the needs of others.

Maturity is the capacity to face unpleasantness and disappointment without becoming bitter.

Maturity is the gift of remaining calm in the face of chaos. This means peace, not only for ourselves, but for those with whom we live and those whose lives touch ours.

Maturity is the ability to disagree without being disagreeable. Maturity is humility. A mature person is able to say, “I was wrong.” He is also able to say, “I am sorry.” And when proven right, he does not have to day, “I told you so.”

Maturity is the ability to make a decision, to act on that decision, and to accept full responsibility for the outcome.

Maturity means dependability, keeping one’s word. The immature have excuses for everything. They are the chronically tardy, the no-shows, the gutless wonders who fold in their crises. Their lives are a maze of broken promises, unfinished business, and former friends.

Maturity is the ability to live in peace with that which we can not change.

Time keeps marching on

There is so much to do! Every time I am able to cross something off of my to do list, I think of something else that needs to be done or another place to go. I guess it is a good thing that I don’t think of everything all at once. In particular I want everything that pertains to college, done – so that the only thing I have to think about is packing. I need to change my attitude and stop thinking that I can “get ahead”, and instead work on taking one day at a time. 🙂

Yesterday I was home alone for most of the day. I was able to get many things accomplished! Before 9am, I had made 6 or 8 phone calls. (I dislike using the phone.) At about 2:45pm, my Mom and the 4 younger kids got home, and after that I couldn’t do much – Christopher talked and talked, and Mary and David clung to me after not seeing me in a week. Last night I took my grandparents (and Christopher) out for dinner, which was fun! I had not seen them for more than a month. Also, last week I found out that I am going to be getting my great-Grandma’s nativity set that I painted several years ago! I can’t wait to see it again. 😀

Thank you for joining me in the St. Joseph Novena…it appears that the health insurance is working out, but I am not going to be totally at ease until it is settled. Which might be September. On another note, I completed the application for a loan last night, so now I just have to wait for papers to come in the mail to sign! That is one thing that I am glad is done. Slowly but surely, it is coming together.

I enjoyed my week off of work! It was nice to be out at Schoenstatt again. I had many good conversations and much prayer time – in addition to catching up on sleep! It felt strange being older than all the other counselors though. I just have to remember that the youth is a transitional branch, and I am on the “older” side of the youth. Please pray for our youth and all those who work for the formation of our youth.

An excerpt from the book (Everyday Sanctity, by M. A. Nailis) I just finished reading:

         We must carefully avoid fostering in ourselves any desire for particular loves — for example, for a love which does not seem to fit in with one’s particular state of life and therefore is not willed by God.
        Bishop Camus made a compilation of the teaching of the Holy Doctor of the Church, St. Frances de Sales, on this point:
“One must hate love, unless it is a love in and for God, for:

  1. The risk is great that human friendship (no matter how permissible and noble it may be at the start), may degenerate into a danger to be feared, particularly between persons of different sex.
  2. To wish to be loved, other than by God, is a sort of theft in which we really steal a part of those hearts by whom we wish to be loved from God. And in any case they cannot love God worthily, since He is infinitely greater than our hearts.
  3. It means an injury to God’s jealousy since He will not tolerate any rival or competitor in our hearts. His love must be all or nothing; He wants to be king or nothing at all.
  4. It is great vanity to believe that one may, through one’s own merits, claim a right to the love of another.

       ” ‘O, how unfortunate are those,’ says the saint, ‘who have nothing attractive or worthy of love, for they are sure that the love which is given them is of the most perfect kind because it is rooted in God.’
       “To love somebody next to God without directing this love to God — even though it is not against one of God’s commandments — means to diminish the love which we owe to God who wishes to be loved with our entire heart.
       “O God, take us away from this world, or take this world away from us! Tear our hearts free from the world, or tear the world away from our hearts! All that is not God is nothing! ‘For what do we desire on earth or in heaven, save You, O God’ (Ps 71, 15).”

May God bless and Mary keep you!

Thoughts…lessons…life

A few everyday things that make me happy (in no particular order):

-watching someone’s face light up into a smile when I smile at them
-little kids running to me with outstreched arms
-conversations with family and friends
-offering up my heart more totally in trust
-sitting in the Shrine at Schoenstatt, or “spiritually visiting” the Shrine
-laughter
-sunshine and thunderstorms
-dreams
-writing and reading

With so many reasons to be joyful, why do I allow myself to dwell on what I don’t have? God has taken perfect care of me for my whole life, why can’t I trust that He can handle the rest of it too?

Has anyone ever had a little child that wanted to “help” carry something? Their strength is limited, and so it makes the burden more awkward at times…and yet, they must help. The recognition of their desire to feel needed and loved is so great that we can’t help but give them the pleasure of letting them “assist”. And then, as they get older, sometimes they think they can do it by themselves. Slowly you let go of your side of the burden, ready to quickly pick up the slack; the realization that it is more than their little hands can handle makes them all the more willing to receive help again. Then it continues. As they grow older, stronger, and more capable, you allow them to take more of the burden.

In a way, I think this is how I see my life. I am the little child that wants to “help” in the great act of bringing all people to salvation. Sometimes through my weaknesses, I am sure that I make it more awkward for others to fulfill their part; and yet, I must help. And God has granted me so much pleasure in seeing the little ways in which I can assist…sometimes, I even think that I am really doing great things. I think that I can do so much more, I plan my life to go the way that I see “perfect” and most influential. I think that I can effectively bring people to God through my own way of thinking, my own narrow striving, my own exemplary life. And then God allows me to feel the heaviness of the cares of the world; the heaviness of distrust; the heaviness of self-dependence. I must let go and allow Him to pick up the slack…and yet strive to grow in my capability to share the suffering of the Cross and thus, the salvation of souls.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I feel like I have gotten very little done this past week. It went fast and was seemingly busy, but kind of in the “running in a circle” way. I am going to work on my strivings of productivity. I am trying to root out the things that distract me from using my time and talents to the best of my ability; I need to improve my self denial now, so that I don’t have to deal with as much of a lazy and procrastinating mind while learning the ropes at school.

I don’t know if the coming week will be stressful and tiring, peaceful and tiring, or peaceful and restful. Tomorrow and Saturday I work; tomorrow night I am going to a Holy Mass with Archbishop Dolan at Schoenstatt; Saturday I am going to a graduation party; Sunday I am going to Schoenstatt, and then staying there until Thursday night to help out with the girls camp. Before I leave on Saturday I will need to have all my laundry done and everything ready to go. It will also be good practice of detachment to be away from the computer and college preparations for so long, lol.

Please pray for a few special intentions. And please pray that someday I may become a saint. All is lost with the loss of God…

“You know the way for me, you know the time; into your hands, I trustingly place mine. Your plan is perfect, born of perfect love. You know the way for me, that is enough.”

Reflections in the garden

This morning I decided to weed the flower garden (if you can call it that) that we have between our driveways. It never gets kept up, and grass and weeds take over the majority of the time. I do not particularly like gardening, and I am not any good at it, either. I had to call my 10 year old brother over to tell me what were flowers, that needed to be left alone! My memories of gardening are: “Get 3 rows of peas weeded before 10am or you are not getting lunch!” (Done by 10am, because that is when it started getting very hot, and my parents did care about us enough to not want us to get dehydrated. 🙂 )And by rows of peas, I don’t mean measly rows. They seemed to be as long as eternity, at times. Ever since I was little, I have equated gardening with weeding.

It is a lovely day, probably the most conducive to gardening as I have ever seen. The temperature is pleasant, with a breeze; the sun is shining but not blazing hot; and the ground is damp from the rain last night. My time in the garden was spent not only pulling weeds – but singing, having a few conversations, making sure I knew where the kids were, and…thinking.

Our souls are a garden of grace. How often out of neglect we let them be taken over by weeds and grass! Sometimes the weeds go by unnoticed until they are larger; sometimes we just don’t take the time to pull them out. Once we do get around to noticing them, they have often grown roots that are difficult to eliminate. Some hurt more to pull out – like thistles and dandelions. Some come out easily, but with the roots tangled in the soil – like grass. Some appear to be flowers, but are really not. Weeds are always easier to pull out on damp soil; perhaps this is why we need not only the sun of joy, but the rain of suffering in our souls.

When ever I am down on my knees weeding,  I think I am actually getting a lot done. Just look at that pile grow! Then I stand up….and sigh. There is always so much more to go… This reminds me of my spiritual strivings – I think I am really getting somewhere…and then I get a glimpse of what my brokenness and how much further there is to go before I attain perfection.

So I turn to our heavenly Gardener: does He ever get tired of weeding? Tired of coaxing the small flowers of virtue to blossom forth? I do not think so – because He has in mind the vision of the beautiful garden we will become. He sees not only the dirt, weeds, and bugs; but He sees and loves the flowers that are hidden in the tall grass.

I know that our Blessed Mother helps in the garden of my soul, too. How happy it must make Jesus, when she can bring Him a bouquet from my heart! The little flowers that He loves are gathered to bring Him joy…what a happy thought. 😀

“Do thy part well; mind what thou art about; labor faithfully in My vineyard, I will be thy reward.” – Imitation of Christ, Bk. III, chap. 47

Living the simple life

A few nights ago, I was chatting with a friend…we were exchanging pleasantries, and I was sharing bits of my day. I was taken by surprise by the comment “I wish I had your life.” I guess it appears that I have very few problems, and that I just enjoy the simple joys of life. I am sure I do not have nearly as many cares as most people, but I thought about it long and hard: why am I able to have such a simple life, with as many problems as I really do have?…I think the answer to that, is just that you have to give your problems to God. There have been so many times that I have just said, “I can’t deal with it anymore…take it! Take it, or whack me upside the head to know what to do with it!” Have you ever heard the phrase “Let go…let God”? But it takes a lot of practice to learn to really trust. In the beginning it will probably feel like you are adding to your problems, by trying to remember to offer it up! This is where you must persevere with all your strength and then some. If you are serious about living a life of simplicity, you must pray with all your might that God gives you the sufficent strength.

In a humorous way, I like to say that God must not like dealing with our problems…because as soon as we truely offer them up, they seem to diminish! They turn from a problem into a circumstance. Instead of feeling as though the world depended on ourselves, we recognize Who it really depends on. We still know that we must pick up our cross and follow Jesus – but in picking up our cross and following, our “task is easy, and our burden light.” Jesus never said that our burden would disappear, but that it would become “light”. This is what I call the “mystery of the interminglement of joy and sorrow”…it is the process of the perfection of our love in our journey to Love. In reality, to simplify life means to “just” give everything back to God and allow Him to act in our lives.

Enough of the theoretical: how do I apply this to my life practically? One way is with my SDO. In Schoenstatt, we have a “tool” for our self education called the “Spiritual Schedule” or the “Spiritual Daily Order” (SDO). It is a simple graph that helps to keep track of resolutions toward our goal of sanctity. There is usually one resolution that you specifically focus on a certain point against your primary fault/weakness, and the rest are resolutions of “maintenance”. For example, in the beginning it might be effective to focus on praying your morning and evening prayers everyday; after you have conquered this point to an extent, you can include it in your SDO, to be sure that you do not all of a sudden forget about them. It does not necessarily have to be strictly spiritual strivings – include things that are necessary for daily balance. In some of my SDO’s I have included taking a daily walk, playing with my siblings, doing chores cheerfully, etc. At the end of the day, simply make a mark by each resolution to denote whether you have been sucessful in completing it “for today”. Perseverance is required to keep up with this as well, but it pays off. 😉 Be cautious, especially if you are just beginning, not to over-do on your resolutions: sanctity is a life long task, and you won’t be perfect overnight. Be radical, but not ridiculous. 🙂 No one (to my knowledge) has achieved perfection in a day so far, so why should you expect it of yourself?Another thing that I have learned, is that the more of your senses that you can use to offer something up, the more effective that offering is going to be. We are humans: called to love God with our entire body, mind, and soul. Everything must be united! An example: when I had problems with a member of the management where I worked at one point, I prayed and prayed to let go of the hurt caused…but not until I honestly looked at the situation and wrote a letter to God telling Him what bothered me, and asking Him to change things if it was His Will, that I was really able to let go. Write a letter, poem, song…draw a picture…perhaps burn whatever. Engage your senses in the offering! Make it as real and tangible as possible. Offer it to Christ and the Blessed Mother. Definitavely.

A Schoenstatt saying: “Nothing without you, nothing without us!”

And always remember: “Work as though everything depended on you, pray as though everything depended on God!” Holiness is a long, everyday path…towards a heavenly goal.