One Powerful Woman

She’s known worldwide.  She is a real person in history.  Even after her death in the first century, she’s been seen all over the world – and with different faces.

Scientifically unexplained phenomenon are attributed to her. It can be hard to refute her successes. Century after century claim miracles affected by her power. December 2015’s National Geographic Magazine named her the world’s most powerful woman.

Who is woman of strength?  Her name is Mary of Nazareth.

 She was chosen as the Mother of Jesus Christ.  The Mother of the Savior of the world.

She always appears to the small and humble, often to little children. The messages are always the same: Pray, and turn back to God.   Simple messages from a mother who loves her children.

Her appearance as an Aztec princess in Mexico in 1531 resulted in her miraculous image being left on a cactus fiber tilma, the cloak of the poor Juan Diego.  This tilma hangs in the basilica in Mexico City where millions have been converted to God upon seeing her. It’s fiber should have long ago deteriorated and studies of the tilma baffle scientists.

At Lourdes, France she appeared to the meek Bernadette, and asked the people to pray and turn to God.  A spring rose up from the ground where they met, and this water has affected thousands of healing miracles.  Some are medical healings of the body and some are emotional and spiritual healing of interior peace and new perspective.

She predicted the 2 world wars at Fatima and also the genocide in Rwanda.  At the time of her last visit in Fatima, a secular newspaper reported the miracle of the sun spinning in the sky.

She has appeared to countless saints, who were commissioned to make her more known.  Many of the bodies of these saints remain incorrupt – more evidence of what must necessarily be called supernatural. Her messages continue today, as she fulfills her task of speaking to her children about God’s mercy and His desire to be one with them.

Some listen and are set free.  Others turn away unwilling to believe.  But still there are the proven facts that even science cannot explain.

What is the source of this woman’s power? 

Contrary to the world’s definition, Mary’s is not derived from self.   Contrary to our nature which demands human praise, Mary’s ultimate power comes from complete openness to God’s love within her.

And because of this, Mary is not only the most powerful woman who ever lived, but also the most free.  Her freedom is completed directed by the love of God that fills her.

Because of her great freedom, which opens her up completely to God’s life and love, she is able to agree to be the very link between divine life and human life.

God in the flesh, comes to dwell within her.

Because of her receptivity she is able to contain Infinity. Because of her humility, she becomes the most powerful.

What of broken humanity?  What of women wounded?  Either by others who have wrongly dominated them, or by their own inward tendency to self?  Is it even possible to look to Mary as our model?

If she is in fact the link, and the surest way to the power, the answer could be to turn to her.  Could we ask her how we might heal?

Could we turn to her to show us the way to true feminine power?

 Can we imitate her openness to God’s love so it can fill us?  Can we forgive those who have so greatly offended us?  Can suffering transform us into something great?

Only if we are convinced of the power of God.  Only if we are convinced Mary can lead us there.

May our souls take a glance at this woman of power, and give pause to the way she can lead us to our own.

Then we rest in the power of love.

Loss of Life in Lent

A Reflection on Luke 9: 23-25

“Then he said to all, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.

 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. 

What profit is there for one to gain the whole world yet lose or forfeit himself?”

 

Show me how to lose my life

Let it enter Yours

Invitation- death to self

Your Heart an open door.

Contrary to my first response

To save myself from pain

Grant me the grace to take Your hand

To see this loss as gain

Here it is, my Lord, my God

My daily cross and strife

Within Your Heart I find myself

Loss becomes new life!

The Other Side of Ashes

It will be smeared on my forehead this Wednesday.

 That messy ash. That smudge to mark me.  As a follower of Christ.

Not to mention- it means the start of Lent.  The penance, the pruning, the picking up of crosses.

 All to be a follower of Christ.

Ashes there to remind me.  I’ll return to the dust.  This side of life is short. Better hope the smudge wears off before too many see.

I have to admit to being fooled into thinking that real beauty is only what is pleasing to the senses and  what looks good on the outside right now.  And not that those aren’t wonderful and good things:  The smell of a rose.  The sight of a beautiful face.  The mysterious landscape in a painting.

But sometimes life is messy.  And circumstances repulsive to me.  I don’t move toward them but run away…even from myself.  I don’t see beauty on my face  at all- just smudged on ashes on my face.  Just me returning to dust.

But I’ve also lived through too many Lents now.  I know how this works out.  I’ve seen those black ashes can become beauty….that smudge become my path to glory.

And it’s worth the work to push on through to the other side of ashes.

What’s on the other side of ashes?  Resurrection. Glory. Beauty. And Light. There’s only one way to do the work of black ashes into beauty.  Mostly I don’t “work” at all.  Surrender is the key….surrendering that mess to the One who came to transform it.

 Do I believe He can love me enough this year, to meet me here in ashes?

I do.  That’s what we say at a wedding.  I do believe He loves me.  I do believe He can transform this lowly body into a glorified one. (Phillipians 3:21)  I do believe He can take me to the other side of ashes.

40 Days will bring me there.  I wonder what He has in store for me this year.

 I wonder what the smudge will teach me- about Him, about myself and about others.

But more than anything else, I’ll wonder about the other side of ashes.

 Where I’ll see Him, me, everyone, and everything in radiant beauty and glory.

See you on the other side.

 

 

 

 

New Show to Air on Primetime TV: “American Icon”

Primetime TV is getting ready to launch a new series displaying the gifts and talents of the Holy Spirit in unique and unrepeatable persons.

 The show is entitled “American Icon”

and showcases the flame of the Third Person of the Trinity as seen through individuals who serve as icons through which we see God.

Judges will be called Receptors, who view the icons and then lead American’s viewers in commenting on the distinct ways fans can receive the gift of God as seen through the icon.

 American Icons’ participants will prepare for the show

with a deep interior prayer life and with grace from the sacraments.

These icons will sing, paint, dance, and act in a free gift of self that displays hitherto unforeseen beauty and glory.  As unique performers on the stage of life, their death to self will be evident.  The audience where the show will air is expected to have appear to them “tongues as of fire” (Acts 2:3) and all may even begin to speak in different languages as the Holy Spirit enables them to proclaim. (Acts 2:4)

 Many will be astounded and amazed.  Many will be brought to closer union with God.

It will be no different with at home TV audiences.  The presence of the Holy Spirit and His power will be evident no matter where American screens are being watched- by TV, phone or computer. No heart will be forsaken or abandoned.  Whether alone or in groups, people will experience the heavens opening and a voice calling them to beloved relationship.

Icons by definition are considered to be a sign or representation that stands for its object by virtue of a resemblance to it.

Not to be confused with icons found on your computer, these human person icons will be a sign of Almighty God.

 No longer will the American public be encouraged to venerate at an “American Idol”- which stops at a created image and worships that alone.  These new American Icons will bring the world into the transcendent realities,

simply by pointing to God instead of themselves.

How will viewers know not to stop at an icon’s gifts and talents on display?  Humility.  In each icon will be a fullness of this virtue.  Their souls will magnify the Lord, not themselves, much like Mary.   A certain light will pour out of them as they offer their work and this gift will stream forth from them.

 As persons embodied with a spirit, both the icon and the icon’s viewer will know God. All participants will be considered winners in their respective gift/talent category.

This will begin a new era in media.

 The strength of the programming is expected to carry over into other countries and other forms of media.  The Beauty that is given and received will literally save the world.  As popularity grows, the Kingdom of God will draw closer.

Christ Himself will be so in love with the humility He finds on the earth, that He is likely to come again!  He came the first time because of the perfect humility of the handmaid of the Lord, who was so open to receive Him, that He could not resist coming to rest in her Immaculate Heart and Womb.

His Second Coming will be the same, for He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.(Hebrews 13:8)

Rejoice! The Holy Spirit is already at work, prompting souls to sign up for this new project.

 Icons are already preparing themselves to be gift.

Tune in and be ready to let the Holy Spirit intoxicate you!

  America’s icons will renew the face of the earth!

 

“Being” A Real Love Letter

Valentine’s Day is around the corner.

 The card section in the stores are lined with rows and rows of the red-hearted messages.  They’re filled with touching words about love.

Will you send out your messages?  Your reminders of love?

I am reminded of what real love is to me…

TOTAL GIFT.

 What is a total gift of love?  It’s “being’ a love letter all year long.

It’s the example of a giving life that disposes others to believe in my love.

If I sit around on my computer most days and most nights,

barely waving at hand at the ones that I love…

Can I send them a message red scripted gushy words— in truth?

If I lie about what I have said and have done…

Can I sign my name to a red card bleeding love?

If I cannot die to my childish ways, and only value time spent on myself….

Will they read the love letter of my life?

My conduct will be the true test.  The day to day gift will preach my love. An action, a look, a gesture, a smile …often does more than a long babbling of words.

Oh but wait, there are times when they’re unbearable to me!  I just cannot see them as lovable.  The feelings aren’t there, so the love must be gone…

Why work at it?   Why waste my time?

The world would say so.  Sign off, but don’t live it.

Go through motions, but harbor thoughts these thoughts:

 “They’re not worth my energy and time.”

Imagine Christ as He hung on the cross of Real Love, thinking I’m not worth His time.

No, He sees in each one of us, the great price of His Love and offers His Sacred Heart to be pierced.  The Blood that He shed – every drop shed because He says,

“You are worthy of this Love”.

“But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

Christ died by “being” the real love letter. Read it at the crucifixion.

To love even when we don’t feel like it.  To “will” the good of the other, while not counting the cost for ourselves.

And this is done daily. Often. Until is becomes more and more real.

‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.” 

― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

I’m with ya, Skin Horse.  I’m shabby.  But the people who love me understand.  And I read their love letters to me every day.  Then I receive the Valentine’s meaning in truth.

And “being” a real love letter is what I hope for each day. I’ll love them even when joints are loose.

 So that the hearts I encounter can know from my life that I see in them 

the price of His opened pierced Heart.

And I’ll sign the card with my life.

 

Clean Glass

He does it every morning. Because the fire is almost out.

 Only a few fierce little embers remain.

 And the glass has cooled, so my husband sees it as a good time to clean.

Clean glass means a way to see the beauty.  So others don’t miss leaping and dancing flames once the fire is burning again.

“Carry Christ everywhere in your heart. Make yourselves monstrances and go into places where our Lord has never been adored in the Host…where the monstrance has never been lifted up.”  (Caryl Houselander, The Passion of the Infant Christ.)

A monstrance has glass too.  And the fiery and Sacred Heart of Our Lord resides there.  And we can make our souls like monstrances, and bring Him into places where His never been before.  In fact He needs us to, for as St Teresa of Avila says,

“Christ has no body on earth now, but yours.”

But what if the heat of His love in me has cooled?

And what if there are but a few burning embers?

And what if life has distracted me, and sin and self, have blackened the glass of my soul?

 I’ve lost my burning passion for Him.  I have fallen away from prayer.  I have let the concerns of the world mar the way to see beauty.

 I have little love to carry to others, and the internal beauty of grace is obscured-

obscured by glass that is clouded with fear and remorse.

Mercy!  He, the Gentle Lover, rises early to meet me.

 He sees the state that I’m in.  And with kind but deliberate movements, He cleanses the glass of my soul. Stroke by stroke, I confess and He restores me to clarity.

  Reluctantly, but in hope, I open.  He sees the dying embers within,

but also reminds me of His promise,

“A smoldering wick He will not quench.” (Isaiah 42:3)

Ashes!  Such death from which I can rise again!

“The souls of the righteous are in the hand of God,
and no torment shall touch them.

Chastised a little, they shall be greatly blessed,
because God tried them
and found them worthy of himself.

As gold in the furnace, he proved them,
and as sacrificial offerings he took them to himself.

In the time of their judgment

they shall shine
and dart about as sparks through stubble.

(Wisdom 3: 1, 5-7)

Clean glass, I’m a monstrance, filled with the fire of His Love.  Others will remark at His Beauty and light.  Others with see the Christ alive in me.

Will you burn and shine for Him?

 And take Him to places where He’s never been adored or lifted high?

 

 

My E-Day is My B-Day

It was 1984.  We had fallen in love our senior year in college, and graduated.  He had a life long dream to hike the Appalachian Trail.  I didn’t want to stop him.

So I accepted an invitation to work in the Rocky Mountains, thousands of miles from the east coast mountains he’d be trekking along. That’s what I’d do!  I’d just climb higher ones.

No cell phones.  Long letters.  Little souvenirs from the Trail – a rock, a feather, a twig to remind me of him.

Months go by. He’s half way through and definitive obstacles cause his difficult decision to forgo the rest of the journey.  After logging in over 1000 miles, he jumped on a Greyhound bus headed west, to give me the surprise of a lifetime.

I had told all my friends about him.  Many advised me to try to forget him and start something new.  But my heart heard other things.  It beat on a path of life-journey with him.

He walked in on me, and the dining room broke out in a joyful applause. Bearded and brawny, weary and worn, the man that I loved reached my arms.  

But hang on to your backpacks folks.

One brilliant fall Colorado day, we set out on a challenging hike.  After exploring the vistas miles high in the mountains, we wearily crawled on top of a huge boulder in the midst of a gushing stream to relax on as we made our way back on the trail.

The sky was brilliant blue, the aspen were turning gold, the cool and pine scented Colorado air livened our senses, and the water sang in rhythm around us.  In just the right moment, so full of romance, he said, “Will you marry me?”

And I said……”Heck, no!”

Lest you think that I have no heart at all, to be honest, I just felt unprepared.  Yes, I knew that I loved him, but were there other things?…. things that make you sure you are  ready?….ready for ….marriage?

He had the shirt on his back, no direction, no plan.  (And I joke that the only “rock” I could see was the one we were both sitting on!)

And we both believed in  God- did He have a say?

We left in silence…really awkward silence.  But there was resolve in our minds….we needed to find out if this thing was right…this promise to be with each other forever.

Four months quickly passed, as did decisions that prepared. Jobs, heart to heart talks, and finding out “wow, this is really serious!”

But more than anything else, we both were asking God and sensing His Fatherly approval and love for us- as an “us”.

January 26th now, in the midst of mid-winter, and another walk down a snowy road ends in his being down on one knee in proposal.  I exuberantly said, “YES!”  Yes to engagement and to the call of being a wife and starting a family.

We’ve called it E-Day ever since.

Decades pass, and my mom is moving out of the house we were raised in.  She gives me my “box” from the attic. In it is saved all the tokens and remembrances from my youth- the diaries, the dolls, and the old report cards.  Way at the bottom I find a long thin box- and joyfully realize it’s my baptismal candle….the date?  January 26th.

Coincidence?  Not when you walk with the Lord.

January 26th is also my Baptism day.  The day of my birth into God’s Kingdom…B-Day.

On January 26th,  God opened up the way for me to participate in the heavenly Kingdom and be part of the heavenly family.

He cleansed me from my original sin, giving me adoption as a daughter of the Father.  I have a Mother to guide me, and all my brothers and sisters in baptism.  This was all won for me through the dying and rising with the Savior, Jesus.  He became my Brother, and Friend who willingly gave up His life to save me.

And January 26th is the same day He called me to be part of an earthly family….to live out that call to holiness, by way of marriage and motherhood of children.

Had I not consulted Him in that decision, my E-Day would not be my B-Day.

And I would not be celebrating both later this week!

God writes the events on the calendars of our lives.  What script is He writing on yours?

The Daddy Daughter Dance

 

 

Sunday morning…..hanging out in PJ’s on the couch with my hubby….flipping through the Facebook newsfeed, and bam….

There it is. One of those visuals that takes the sharp point of a knife, and pierces open your heart….

And though I know this cannot be proven medically, I am pretty sure that heart piercings are directly connected to the tear ducts

somehow you just can’t hold back the flow….

Especially when you have no makeup on,

and you’re tucked safely under the arm of your best friend.

You let ‘em roll….right down your cheeks as you sit there in silent wonder.

It’s when no words suffice.

It’s when you know the deeper meaning.

It was a father dancing with his 11-year-old daughter at a spring pageant.

Daddy was dressed in a T- shirt, jeans, and a ball cap. But Kenzie was decked out in purple chiffon and dainty sandals. Though humble in attire, Daddy spun her and lifted her with all the grace of a ballroom dancer in his tuxedo.

You see, this Daddy knew his daughter’s dignity and worth. This Daddy saw his little girl as his dream, his strength, and the center of his world.

This Dad put no credence in what Kenzie could do for him.

He was all about how he could serve and love her. He was drawing her into the joy of the dance.

And what made this dance so remarkable? Kenzie was wheelchair bound. It began with him lightly caressing the handles of the wheelchair, and ever so gracefully spinning her and circling around her.

As the music was building and reaching its crescendo, he knelt down before her and brought her into his arms. And her arms? They flopped in their paralysis. Her head? It drooped upon his shoulder. Her long and twiggy legs? They swung around as he did and then sank to the floor as he dipped her with a flawless and dignified poise.

“Let those who wait for the LORD Will gain new strength; They will mount up with wings like eagles, They will run and not get tired, They will walk and not become weary. “ Isaiah 40:31

 

This is the Father’s Dance with us. This is the love of our Daddy. What we can do for Him matters not.

We bring atrophied limbs, and utter dependence on our God

….receiving the lead of the Lord of the Dance.

It’s enough to reduce you to tears.

It’s enough to reduce you to all that you are….a precious child in the eyes of the Father.

Here’s to Kenzie and her Dad.  Here’s to you and me in the Dance with our Daddy.

 

Taking on the Mind of Christ

Sometimes I get so weary of thinking, planning, prioritizing.  Then St Paul has something to say to me.

He tells me that Christ is the Head of my Body ( I am part of the Church’s body ,Col 1:18), and that I can take on more and more the mind of Christ.(1 Cor 2:16)

What if I gave over my thinking, my mind, at least periodically, and let Christ think for me?

That’s prayer.  That’s humility.  Your thoughts are so far above my thoughts Lord.  (Isaiah 55:9)

Could it be you have something better for me to be intellectualizing about?

So then I try it.  I try to go blank.  It’s kind of restful.  I stop trying so hard.  

Sure, I battle it.  But Lord, if I don’t make this decision now, all will be lost!  Lord, if I don’t figure this out now, things won’t work out for me!

I, I, I, me,me,me….Hmmmm…maybe there is another way.

Called submission. To a God who I believe loves me and want to help me.  Called trust. In a loving Father who might know a thing or two about what’s best for me.

Can I give over my head to THE HEAD?  That head that thinks, reasons, wills, decides, and even controls most of my bodily actions?

What if, from time to time today, we gave over our minds to Christ?  We let Him think for us, we let Him guide our decisions, we let Him tell our bodies what to do next?

Lord, give me the grace to trust You enough, to give you my mind today.  I will let you guide my thoughts and my actions.

Loving My Little Dogginess: A Reflection on the Canaanite Woman

(Matthew 15:21-28)

She’s yelping and jumping, whining and wagging her little tail.  My little dog Zoey is looking for attention, looking for love.

In Matthew’s gospel, the Canaanite woman is looking for the same.  She petitions for attention…whining for love as she begs healing for her daughter.  With a heart normally accustomed to idol worship of pagan gods, she in her hunger, feels drawn to the Christ.  She’s creating a stir with her anguishing cries.

The disciple’s tell her to tone it down.  Doesn’t she know her place? Even Jesus Himself responds with absolute silence at first.

Then He appears to reject her entirely.  “I have people to take care of…I can’t waste my time on dogs outside the “house””.

And how does this woman-now-equated-with-a-dog respond back?  With playful agreement. With puppy dog eyes.

“Yes, but little dogs are so cute!  And you know you can’t resist me!  I would be happy to get any crumb of attention you would want to send me.  Because you see, I know that you are the Master.  And I know Your Heart can’t resist my desire to be known by You, to eat at Your table, to sleep by Your Fire, to be in Your House.”

My prayer is like that too.  And today, I came to love my “little dogginess” like Jesus does.

He knows I am looking for scraps from His table.  He knows I don’t deserve to be heard just because I’m nipping at His heels.  How patient He is, until I relent, and wait for a time to be noticed. How patient and obedient I am, when I sit and receive Him in silence.

Dog lovers take note!

Think of how you give in to that face!  That cry that pierces your heart. Does not the Lord do the same?

With the humility of the Canaanite woman, humbly call Him your Lord.  Wait on Him with attentive expectation, and receive the Word that she heard.

“O woman, how great is your faith.”

It is the story of the Christian’s life- idol worship turned into search for true worship…laments and demands into silence….knowledge of littleness rewarded with exaltation…and a permanent place to call home.

Sitting at the Master’s feet we are raised up to be honored guests at His table.

Thank you Lord ( and Zoey) for teaching me “little dogginess”.