Tag Archives: Trust

Hello 2017 – Nice to Know You!

Everyone rings in the new year in different ways – some quietly with family, some spending fun times with friends, some with hardly a nod to the fact that the date has even changed.  My family had a fun cookout with another Marist family (in Florida of all places) before watching TV as the fireworks were going off outside to mark midnight.

On the one hand, part of me is so relieved to say “arrivederce” to 2016.  I have been more than ready to close the door on this year.  It was even a little frustrating to hear at Mass on January 1st that just because the year changes, it does not mean that this year will not have its share of heartaches, disappointments and challenges.  Intellectually, I know this.  I just always want to believe that there are better days around the corner.  I want to have hope in 2017.

Somewhere in the last week I read, “Your year may change, but God remains the same.”  It was comforting to know that no matter what this year brings – happiness, peace, sadness, family challenges – that God does not change, only my circumstances do.  God is with me in the hardest of times, bringing me peace or helping me to cope.  God is with me in my happiest moments, celebrating along with me and reminding me that He is good and all good things come from Him.  God is with me as I make continued attempts to change for the better – you know, those darn New Year’s Resolutions.  Or Lenten resolutions.  Or July resolutions.  God is always with me, and wants to see me become a better version of myself.

I have been blessed to know Fr. Josh Allen, who heads up Georgia Tech’s Catholic Center.  He had some interesting thoughts about resolutions that he posted to Facebook (and I paraphrased a bit):  “Friends, if you are thinking about resolutions for the new year, don’t bother.  If you’re serious, you’ll start whatever it is today without delay — this very moment even.  If you’re waiting for an arbitrary point of the earth rounding the sun to make a change in your life, you’re not gonna make it.  Want to be a better person?  Do it now.  When our Lord calls, he does not tarry with delay.  Each of us can change with God’s grace.  Even the most profound changes.  But we can’t schedule an appointment with God’s grace sometime in the future.  The only moment that matters is now.”

I usually have far more resolutions than any mere mortal can be expected to follow through on.  This year, I’m going to consider this one:  I will recognize that God is truly with me at every moment, and to try my hardest to act in accordance with that truth – to trust more and to have more hope.

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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!

Now Hear This!

My family and I have been praying for a special intention for more than a year now. It is fundamental to our family’s life and immediate future. We got an answer to our prayer last week, but it did not look close to what I had in my head. In fact, I was downright disappointed and discouraged about the answer. When I called my mom and shared the news, even she said, “We got the answer. It just wasn’t the answer we were looking for.”

So then of course, I start questioning myself and God. You know the swirl that can go on in your head. “Seriously?” I started to think. “This is probably the worst of both worlds!” (And by worst, I don’t really mean worst. It’s always relative of course.) I proceed to call my wise Christian friend and ask for counsel. She told me to stop calling myself a brat (which I was doing), and reminded me that I was human, and my feelings were normal. She said it was OK to feel befuddled.

She helped me to realize that my prayer now needs to change. Now I need to ask God to help me to react to this answered prayer in a way that both honors my feelings and supports my family as we proceed. I need to feel a little more gratitude, and a little less attitude. I need to live today, and ask God to trust in His plan for right now. This answer may not be a permanent answer, but God is putting this in front of us right now.

My friend said – “Now. Here. This.” God’s plan is in front of me right now. It is right here. It is this that my family will be facing and coping with. Will it change? Maybe. But it is our path at this time. Maybe God is actually using this as a way to draw me closer to Him – to rely on Him more and myself less. Maybe just working through this will help me grow and change for the better. Am I scared about the future and the changes we will be going through? Yes. Do I trust that God is so much bigger than my fears? Absolutely.

I found this great devotional passage from Sarah Young in Jesus Lives – Seeing His Love in Your Life.

The Future

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! I am a God of surprises – infinitely more creative than you can imagine. The universe displays some of My creativity, but there is more – much more. I am making a new heaven and a new earth. Moreover, I am preparing My people – all around the world – to live there with Me in endless ecstasy. Let the eternal perspective strengthen and encourage you.

As you journey along your life-path with Me, refuse to let the past define you or your expectations of what lies ahead. You may feel as if the road you are on is tiresome or even a dead end. That is because you’re projecting the past into the future. The roadblock you are straining to see up ahead is really just an allusion. The future is in My hands, and I can do surprising things with it!

Your gravest danger is giving up: ceasing to believe I can still do wondrous new things in you and your world. Your assignment is to keep moving forward in trusting dependence on Me. Stop focusing on obstacles you might encounter, and concentrate on staying in touch with Me. As you continue taking steps of trust, expect the path before you to open up in refreshing newness. I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.

 

Have a blessed week as you journey through Lent!

That Darn Trust Thing

You know how you join a book group, and some of the books you simply slog through and cannot wait to finish (or don’t finish at all) and some really speak to you and inspire you? I’m reading a book with a group right now that I really love called My Sisters The Saints by Colleen Campbell. It is a story of a young woman who reflects on her spiritual journey and the saints who inspired her during different phases of her life. She’s no holy roller – you could actually see yourself having lunch with her at Newk’s.

This past week we read about her season where she was working in the White House as a speech writer and separated from the man she wanted to marry by many miles. She was conflicted between career and family. Her mother gave her the diary of St. Faustina – a poor, sickly, barely literate nun who lived in a convent in Poland pre-World War II. Faustina experienced a lot of rejection from various convents (clearly not very successful at convent “rush”) as well as a “dark night of the soul” where her faith was severely tested. She is most known for her deep and humble faith and her vision of the image of Christ that can be seen now in many churches both in the US and abroad with the words, “Jesus, I trust in you.”

Jesus, do I really trust that you will see my child through this issue they are facing? Jesus, do I trust you that you will take care of my aging parents? Jesus, do I trust that you will help me take that next step that makes me so afraid? Jesus, do I trust in you in the very big – let alone the very small – issues that I’m facing in my life and the life of my family?

The author states, “The crucial question when it comes to faith is not “Do I trust in God” but “Is God trustworthy?” (page 90). The Bible tells us time and time again that God, not the world we live in, is truly trustworthy. Apparently, the Bible has 31,174 verses, and the very middle is Psalm 118:8 – “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man”. 

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

“When I am afraid, I put my trust in you, in God, whose word I praise, in God I put my trust and have no fear, what power has human strength over me?”  – Psalm 56:3-4

So I will leave you with a prayer written by St. Faustina, whose trust in God during times of humiliation, sickness and rejection might speak to one of us.

“O Lord, I want to be completely transformed into Your mercy and to be Your living reflection. May the greatest of all divine attributes, that of Your unfathomable mercy, pass through my heart and soul to my neighbor.

Help me, O Lord, that my eyes may be merciful, so that I may never suspect or judge from appearances, but look for what is beautiful in my neighbors’ souls and come to their rescue.

Help me, O Lord, that my ears may be merciful, so that I may give heed to my neighbors’ needs and not be indifferent to their pains and moanings.

Help me, O Lord, that my tongue may be merciful, so that I should never speak negatively of my neighbor, but have a word of comfort and forgiveness for all.

Help me, O Lord, that my hands may be merciful and filled with good deeds, so that I may do only good to my neighbors and take upon myself the most difficult and toilsome tasks.

Help me, O Lord, that my feet may be merciful, so that I may hurry to assist my neighbor, overcoming my own fatigue and weariness.

Help me, O Lord, that my heart may be merciful so that I myself may feel all the sufferings of my neighbor.

May Your mercy, O Lord, rest upon me”

(Source: St. Faustina’s Diary, 163).

 

Time and Trust

My family and I were very blessed this past weekend to spend our first Sunday of Advent in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City. Our celebrant and homilist was Cardinal Timothy Dolan (woo hoo!). He was warm, welcoming, and inviting, and his homily hit very close to home for my husband and me. I know I cannot do it justice in my own words, but I’ll give it a go.

Cardinal Dolan talked about Advent as a time of “patient waiting.” He talked about how the Israelites – the chosen people of God – waited 400 years for the coming of their Savior. He then mentioned how you and I can be impatient in our waiting. We can be impatient with others (an elderly family member, waiting at the checkout at the grocery store, or even getting out of the parking lot after Mass) or with ourselves (just when am I going to finally lose this weight?). He then talked about God’s time. Not my time, not your time. God’s perfect timing. We as humans are like microwave ovens – “I want my pizza heated, and I want it now.” God, however, is more like a crock pot – thinking in millennia – not months. When we as humans pray for an answer, we may pray for months, years, even decades. God answers in his perfect time.

God’s timing leads then to the concept of trust. If my timing is not being met, then I suppose I have to trust that God’s timing and God’s plan is perfect. I must trust in Him, and not in myself and my little plan for my life and the life of my family. Instead of, “Me, me, me,” it should be, “Him, Him, Him!”

My very feeble life experience has shown me that God’s plan is always better than anything that I can imagine. I’ve also been told that God answers prayers in three ways:

  • “Yes”
  • “Not Yet”
  • “I’ve got a much better idea.”

So I continue to try to trust. And my husband continues to try to trust. We wait (and wait) for God’s perfect timing. We currently and patiently wait for the feast of Christmas – when God’s perfect plan for the world came to life and brought the Good News to us all.