Do I really believe?

June 11, 2009

…nothing happens in this world but by the order of God, or at least by His divine permission. All He wills or permits turns infallibly to the advantage of submissive and resigned souls. Even that which upsets our spiritual plans turns into something which is better for us. (Fr. Jean-Pierre De Caussade)

If I really believed this…

…I’d complain less about my circumstances

…I wouldn’t worry nearly as much about what comes next in life

….I’d spend less time placing hope in my idols and illusions and more time resting in the peace that comes with trusting our sovereign and holy God

…I’d trust that He really is working all things together for my eternal good and His eternal glory

Once again I pray… Lord I believe, now help me in my unbelief.

Clearly Ambiguous

April 3, 2009

I came across this quote by Henri Nouwen the other day. I could relate to his thoughts.


Our hearts and minds desire clarity. We like to have a clear picture of a situation, a clear view of how things fit together, and clear insight into our own and the world’s problems. But just as in nature colors and shapes mingle without clear-cut distinctions, human life doesn’t offer the clarity we are looking for. The borders between love and hate, evil and good, beauty and ugliness, heroism and cowardice, care and neglect, guilt and blamelessness are mostly vague, ambiguous, and hard to discern.


I happen to be one of those people who likes clarity. On the one hand I’m a bit of an idealist and a dreamer. I desire things to look the way I dream they “should” be according to my ideals. On the other hand I like logic. I want things to “make sense.” If you’re going to give me an argument for something it should be logical and you should offer specific evidence. Neither of these ways of thinking make living with ambiguity easy. And if there is one thing clear about the realities of life it’s that more often than not they’re ambiguous. I know this is where my faith must come in–faith in something bigger than my personal ideals and thought processes.


Funny thing is, there are some ambiguities, or mysteries, if you will, that I have no problem living with — the mystery of Christ’s real presence in the Eucharist, the Trinity, how God could protect His church and Truth through fallible human beings, or the mystery of the Communion of Saints. Even after examining these and finding reasonable evidence for believing in these teachings there was still a certain amount of ambiguity or mystery to accept because these gifts from God are so far beyond my ability to reason and explain. And yet, for some reason these are things with which I do not struggle. 


It would seem that if my faith can accept these mysteries I should be able to accept the smaller ambiguities in my life. But instead, I want to know, understand, explain and define. I have questions and I want answers. This can drive those close to me crazy (sorry Scott). These questions without answers can drive me crazy too. Which is probably why I posted this not long ago.


In Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke gives some advice I need take:


Do not now seek answers which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them…the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer…take whatever comes with great trust.


Life is clearly ambiguous. I need to learn to live everything and take whatever comes with great trust.  I need to keep that in the forefront of my mind. Perhaps I should tattoo it on my hand. Better yet, I’ll  have my friend, Tina, inscribe it one of these.


My prayer today:  Lord, help me to take whatever comes with great trust.


When I Think I Know…

March 27, 2009

Just when I think I know someone they’ll go and do something that catches me completely off guard, something so unexpected that I begin to wonder if  I ever really knew them at all… 

…and then, someone I hardly know will say or do something so familiar, so very close to home that I’m left wondering if there’s something to that whole “kindred spirit” thing

Just when I think I know God and have Him all figured out, He shows me a side of Himself that I never knew before and He leaves me humbled by my presumption and amazed by the many facets of His grace…

…and then there are those moments when I don’t think I know Him at all — when I feel far from who He is and even farther from His heart– and He surprises me by revealing His familiar presence in the deepest part of my soul and I realize…

When I think I know… I really don’t.

Car-Schooling, Claire and Childlike Faith

March 25, 2009


I haven’t posted much this month. March has been busy.

This week we’re back to schooling and making the most of the last few weeks of Lent 2009. We’re counting down the days with our family friend, “Miss Jessica, ” as she waits to be baptized, confirmed and receive her first Communion at the Easter Vigil.  We’re also trying to make it to daily Mass more often. Of course that always results in interesting conversations  with the girls. Here’s a scene from the drive home from daily Mass last Thursday.

Scene: I’m behind the wheel patiently 🙂 navigating the snowbird traffic our county is so well-known for at this time of the year (in case you’re wondering I was going the speed limit). The girls are watching an educational DVD on volcanoes. “Car time” is social studies and science time (a.k.a.  car-schooling).

Claire: Mom, can you turn down the volume? I have a question.

[Anticipating another question about volcanoes–one  to which I probably won’t have the answer–I stop myself before saying we’ll look that up on the internet too.]

Me: Yes Claire, what is it?

[Long pause]

Claire: Jesus is in heaven right?

Me: (Ok, I can answer that one) Yes.

[Another long pause]

Claire: So if you die and you get to go to heaven then you’ll see Jesus right?

Me: (Wondering where she’s going with this line of thought) Yes.

[Third long pause. Smoke is rising like a volcano from Claire’s brain because she’s thinking so hard]

Claire: Mom, I think I’d like to die now so that I could go and be with Jesus forever.

[My turn to pause. So, this is childlike faith: No worldly attachments, ambitions, desires or fears–just faith and a longing to be with Jesus.

Me: You know what Claire, I can’t think of any place I’d rather be than with Him.


Jesus, give me the grace to mature and have childlike faith: To believe and trust without reservation and to desire eternity with you more than anything else. Amen

Be Not Afraid

January 7, 2009

A few days a week I’ve been getting up early and going to the 7:00 am daily mass while Scott and the girls are still asleep.  Normally the girls and I try to get to the 11:00 am mass but as their schooling needs have changed so has our schedule. We have a loving and perhaps unlikely community at the 11:00 mass. We miss many of the people there, especially Papa Joe (a dear man whom we’ve adopted and who has adopted us into his family). Joe is one of my few regular readers. If you’re reading this Joe, we miss you.  That’s Joe in the photo below.

The girls with Papa Joe

Although we miss the crowd at the 11:00 mass I’m really enjoying the early mass.  It probably has something to do with the quiet drive there, the peacefulness in the pews without a squirming 5 year old 🙂 and of course the sweet presence of Christ. I also think it has to do with giving the first fruits of your day to the Lord. It reminds me of that song verse…Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, early in the morning my song shall rise to thee.

This morning the Scripture readings at mass reflected a theme that has shown up in some of my other reading. “Be not afraid.”  In the Gospel reading when the storm rages around the disciples in the boat Jesus tells them, Take courage, it is I, do not be afraid! (Mark 6:50).  The Epistle reading came from First John,  There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear

Lately I’ve been afraid of letting go of some things. They’re things I have absolutely no control over and yet I insist on holding on tightly as if I do have control. Foolish I know. The problem with this is twofold: 1) I’m not trusting Jesus and forgotten that my Father has my best interests at heart and is in control. 2) I’m so busy trying to control my circumstances that I’m not listening to the Holy Spirit. I’ve let my fear of letting go get in the way of love.  

I read the following quote from Henri Nouwen last night and it really challenged me.

God asks us to jump from our secure perches, to stop calculating the risks. Jesus bids us,”Take up your cross, follow me, leave even your father and mother if you must. Don’t insist on knowing exactly what comes next but trust that you are in the hand of God, who will guide your life.” We can do so, because we are told again and again in Scripture, Don’t be afraid. Give me a chance. I am your Savior, Guide, Friend, Bridegroom.

First the Nouwen quote and then the Scripture readings, I think God is trying to tell me something. That part about “don’t insist on knowing exactly what comes next but trust that you are in hand of God” really resonates with where I am today. Today I need to offer up my fear. I to need jump from my secure perch and trust that my Savior, Guide, Friend and Bridegroom is in control. 

What are you afraid of today?

  • Losing a loved ones?
  • Not finding someone to love?
  • Losing your job?
  • Not finding your ideal  job?
  • Your deteriorating health?
  • Giving up your dreams?
  • Not being able to pay the bills?
  • Being alone?

Jesus says to you and to me, Take courage, it is I, be not afraid.

Doubt and Faith

August 14, 2008


Out of chaos often comes the greatest creativity. And the only thing that can endure deep doubt is faith. You will not allow yourselves to go into the deeper levels of doubting without, in fact, a very strong faith.

Those who can endure great doubt, in my experience, have been those who rise to great faith. Faith gets purified every time you go through the cycle of doubt and failure, saying, “Why do I believe this? Do I believe this at all? What do I base my life on?” On this wheel of fortune just about everything is purified: self-image, God-image, worldview.

from Hope Against Darkness


Great Doubt and Great Faith –  two sides of the same coin?

I do believe…

May 24, 2008


“I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)


I love this verse. I pray this verse often–coupled with this portion of a prayer we pray at church:


“I believe Lord, that you are here present, although my eyes do not see you my faith senses you.”


Praise God. His grace is sufficient; even at times, for my unbelief.

I spoke too soon…

April 8, 2008

…I haven’t managed to avoid the flu bug afterall.  

I really don’t like to be sick. (I know, who does?) I don’t like how weak I feel. I don’t like how unproductive it makes me. And I definitely don’t like how my flesh rears it’s ugly head when I’m tired and not feeling well. It’s at times like these that I have to rely on Him moment by moment. Not because this flu is anything that bad, but because when I’m sick I can be so bad and so very selfish. So God and I have been real tight today. Lots of opportunities to depend on and rest in Him.


Ella’s doing a little better today but she’s still pretty tired. Claire is just miserable. She finally feels bad enough to where she’s not pretending she’s ok when some opportunity for fun comes along that might distract her from not feeling so good (i.e. playing with the neighbors, swimming etc.) Both girls just want to sit in my lap and cling to me.  Although I hate that their feeling bad there’s a sweetness in the way they need me.

I wonder if that’s how our Abba Father feels when we’re  physically, emotionally and spiritually exhausted. I have to believe that He hates to see us feeling bad. But He must just love it when we finally stop trying to distract ourselves or make our flesh feel better and we crawl up onto His lap and rely completely on Him and His strength.