Tag Archives: God’s will

It Bears Repeating: Humility and Simplicity

Marist School cycles through a series of six themes each year that reflect Marian values and the pillars of the Society of Mary. This year, our students have been reflecting on the theme of “Humility and Simplicity.” From the first opening Mass with Bishop Zarama to the last day of classes, students have been challenged to consider how they live their lives with these two values, in a school geared toward achievement and success.

We have incorporated this theme into our family in both a serious and a lighthearted way. If we hear something said that might be a bit out of line, we will say “humility and simplicity please!”.

I have often said to my friends and family that we tend to live in “La La Land.” Our lives are so abundantly blessed. When we do not leave our bubble of comfort, we forget that there are so many who have considerable need. We forget that our problems are merely “first world problems.” Thank God for Marist school, where are children are gently marinated in the lifelong importance of quiet, humble service.

Without our choice, my family learned to live humility and simplicity in the past year as well – albeit to a much smaller degree than most. My husband learned that he was to lose his job of more than 15 years around Christmas of 2014. He was very happy at his job, and was at the height of his career. We went through all the emotions you can imagine in the year following – how is this going to change our lives? Our future? Our childrens’ futures? Why is this happening now when the children are so happy at Marist? When we are so close to college? We prayed, we went to adoration, and we had many moments when we lost our trust in God and God’s plan for our family.

Father Tom Ellerman (Class of ’58) is a regular fixture at the MMPG rosary on Friday morning. All the moms love having him, and he has added both humor and guidance to all of us gathering to pray. In a Marist Way meeting in September, Fr. Tom was speaking on Marist values, and told the group that the Latin word for humility comes from the word “dirt.” He reminded the group that listening to the voice of God and opening our minds with a humble heart will, as Jesus did, make all things new. He said that in the end, we are “dirt,” and to dirt we will return.

For a while, my husband and I felt a bit like dirt. We had to do things we didn’t think we’d ever have to do. We had to say things we didn’t think we’d ever have to say. We made changes to our lives that we didn’t think we’d ever have to make. We were humbled.

Humility can certainly be expressed through simplicity. We were forced to simplify our lives – we stopped doing certain things that were part of our routine. We started doing new things. For one thing, when you are on a strict budget, you do not eat out. Or get Starbucks. Or shop because you are bored. Instead, we regularly ate family dinners together that were homemade. Was it a blessing? You bet it was. There is nothing like getting a teenager to talk like sitting around a proper dinner table with comfort food to get them to open up and tell you about their day. Through this experience, we were truly blessed, and our children learned a lot of powerful lessons in both humility and simplicity.

We have tried (I emphasize tried) to teach our children not to boast. However, we should encourage them to boast of what their God has done for them. I was touched by the second reading last Sunday from Romans 5:

“We boast in hope of the glory of God.

Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions,

knowing that affliction produces endurance,

and endurance, proven character,

and proven character, hope,

and hope does not disappoint,

because the love of God has been poured out into our hearts

through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

So I would like to boast that through our family’s challenges, God has continued to pour out His love for us. Our brother Jesus walks with us daily. The Holy Spirit continues to guide us on our journey, and we continue to be strengthened by the Spirit of Mary that touches each member of our family.

Love, Your Biggest Fan

This week at Marist we celebrate the accomplishments of our graduating seniors as we bid them “farewell” with a Baccalaureate Mass and Graduation. Maybe you have a senior, maybe you know a senior, or maybe you already have a graduate who is back visiting from college. Either way, we can all remember our own graduations or those of loved ones and revisit the swirl of feelings – happiness, anxiety, joy, sadness, trepidation – they mix together into one blurry memory.

As my own children inch closer to that day, I look to the seniors that I know and care about. My daughter has been fortunate to play Varsity Lacrosse, and has had the blessing of getting to know some amazing upperclass women through that team sport. These women have grown on me as well, and I cannot wait to see what they will accomplish in the years ahead, as they have been a great influence on my daughter. This year I think it is hitting her harder as well – she is losing some great friends to college life.

When I was sitting in the bleachers at my own Baccalaureate Mass at Marist 30 years ago this month (we only had Old Kuhrt at that point), the Marist Singers sang a song by Michael W. Smith called “Friends.” A line that has never left my head to this day is “Friends are friends forever, when the Lord’s the Lord of them.”

I have heard it said that God puts people in your life for a reason, for a season or for a lifetime. I have been truly blessed by Marist friendships that have continued for my lifetime as it continues to roll along. As teenagers, I dragged my friends to church with my family if they spent the night at our house, whether they were Catholic or not. We have celebrated engagements, marriages, births, graduations and deaths together – in a church, a chapel or our backyards. When we have been in health crises, the call for prayer went out, and it was immediately answered without question. Usually followed by a casserole or blondies on our back step. The Lord has been the Lord of us. He has held us together by something much stronger than simply having fun together on the weekends.

When MMPG met two weeks ago to celebrate our senior moms, I could feel their mix of emotions. We teeter between pure pride and happiness for the adventure of our graduates’ lives unfolding before them and the opportunities that are at their doorstep, and yet we can’t help but personally grieve for the loss of their infectious presence in our home on a daily basis. Thank God that He has them in His hands, and is walking with them daily, even if we cannot walk along. All the moms recited this prayer:

Prayer for Releasing My Child into God’s Hands

Lord, I come to you in Jesus’ name and give my child to you. I am convinced that you alone know what’s best for them. You alone know what they need. I release them to you to care for and protect, and I commit myself to pray for everything concerning them that I can think of or that you put upon my heart. Teach me how to pray and guide me in what to pray about. Help me not to impose my own will when I am praying for them, but rather enable me to pray that your will be done in their life.

 Thank you that I can partner with you in raising my child and that I do not have to do it alone. I am grateful that I don’t have to rely on the world’s unreliable and ever-changing methods for child rearing, but that I can have clear directions from your Word and wisdom as I pray to you for answers.

 Thank you, Lord for the precious gift of this child.   Because your word says that every good gift comes from you, I know that you have given them to me to care for and to raise. Help me to do that. Show me places where I continue to hang on to them and enable me to release them to your protection, guidance and counsel. Help me not to live in fear of possible dangers, but in the joy and peace of knowing that you are in control. I rely on you for everything and this day and every day I trust my child to you and release them into your hands. Amen.

 I sat tonight in a meeting for rising Junior parents where we discussed the upcoming steps in the college search process, so I know that I am not far behind those who will be watching their children walk across the stage this weekend. I completely expect to be a puddle on the floor when that day comes for me – I hope someone hands me a tissue or at least wipes me back up. Please, please take a minute to click and enjoy this song by Nichole Nordeman called “Slow Down.” I would write out the words, but the video is so much more powerful. I’m still cross at my friend for sending this to me, as I can’t look at it without getting weepy. I dare you not to get misty.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clcNB_EUao8

Peace and happiness to all the graduates of 2016 and their loving parents – their biggest fans!

So Simple, So Overlooked

I was walking with an older friend in the park the other morning – she is a cool, funky grandmother and is always filled with practical advice and spiritual wisdom.  We were catching up on the challenges we were currently dealing with in our very different lives, including how to discern God’s will in different seasons.  (Clearly I had already had coffee to tackle this topic first thing in the morning.)  She mentioned that God’s will is often right in front of us, if we would only see and recognize it.  I was describing what I thought I was being called to do, and she suggested that it actually might be more simple, and maybe less daunting.  She said that at one point she was feeling frustrated that she was cleaning countertops, doing laundry and spending time stuck on the phone with AT&T customer service reps.  But it then occurred to her that this was God’s will for her at this moment in time – she recognized she was being called to care for her husband and her grandchildren.

 She mentioned a Jesuit priest who spent 23 years in Soviet prisons and labor camps in Siberia (clearly a tougher gig than doing laundry).

 “The answer lies in understanding that it is these things – and these things alone, here and now, at this moment – that truly constitute the will of God. The challenge lies in learning to accept this truth and act upon it, every moment of every day. The trouble is that like all great truths it seems too simple. It is there before our noses all the time, while we look elsewhere for subtle answers. It bears the hallmark of all divine truths, simplicity, and yet it is precisely because it seems so simple that we are prone to overlook it or ignore it in our daily lives.”

He Leadeth Me, By Father Walter J. Ciszek, S.J. (www.silentinsight.com)

 So maybe you are being called to care for an elderly parent, a friend with cancer, a troubled child, a cranky teenager.  Maybe you are called to step out of your comfort zone and volunteer with a friend, or attend a retreat.  Maybe you are called to focus more on your marriage or reach out to a lonely family member or co-worker. Maybe you are called to make that phone call to a sibling who you would rather not speak with.  It may not be solving world peace, hunger or global warming, but it is something that is in front of us, if we would just recognize it as God’s call in our simple, daily lives.

 Heavenly Father, help me to discern your will for my life in the here and now.  Help me to recognize your will in the smallest moments of my day.  Help me to see the simple ways that I can live my life for you in whatever you put before me.  Help me to take advantage of the both the big and small moments to work for Your glory.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.  –  Romans 8:28