Sunrise

The other morning I was Awakened from a sound sleep presumably to see a magnificent sunrise over the ocean. It’s happened to me before, that against all odds of naturally waking up, something has awakened me for a purpose. It happened almost one year ago while taking a mini honeymoon with my husband of 18 years in St. Thomas Virgin Islands.  Morning after morning I could not sleep past the early morning darkness and so got up to watch and pray. Those hours were glorious!  God speaks to us in so many ways and He was surely speaking to me there and then.  I felt compelled to soak in His power and majesty and most importantly, His Love. He was sending it to me in abundance in a physical way and in those few days I wondered what more I could ever want out of life – it was just too good and too beautiful.  In fact what more could any person ever need than to know deeply and truly the depth of God’s love for each of us?  He let me know somehow that it might not always seem so but He would always be with me.  Specifically I heard Him speak to my heart that He was giving me a giant hug now because I would surely need it later.
And as life does, it has thrown some curveballs our way over the last year. You may remember the adoption journey we embarked on – I blogged about it in a virtual scavenger hunt starting here. We welcomed little Sergei into our hearts and knew it would be a difficult road to bring him home but I knew God was holding us close. He had told me as much and I trusted he would give us all we needed for that journey – no matter what road lay ahead. Then we found out we were expecting another little Pullano that I told you about here and it seemed to be even more clear that I would be needing Him. Then Russia banned all U.S. adoptions which has meant coming to terms with the loss of Sergei as well as the questions and doubts about God’s will for us in these situations.  And most recently we were tragically and unexpectedly  blindsided by the accident that took the life of our oldest daughter Anna.  In light of all this, I would like to say with certainty that I now know exactly what God was preparing me for but the truth is that I have no idea. I’m so thankful for His love and presence but I can’t pretend to know exactly what’s in store. I just know that He knows and trust that He’s by my side through every grievous moment of suffering.
In any case, this day was another awakening, and believe me I wanted to sleep!  The message was not at all what I expected though. I had my camera ready to capture the glory of the sun rising on the horizon of the ocean. I waited in eager anticipation, with peace in my soul, knowing confirmation of Gods power and majesty was only moments away. What I thought I needed was another giant God-hug. I waited and started to see glimpses of pink as the sky continued to get lighter and lighter. I wondered when that magnificent orb would finally make its appearance, never questioning that it would. Finally it seemed like it was already daylight. Did I miss it? I was tempted to google the time of the sunrise to double-check but I kept hearing God say, “Wait. Be ready. Don’t get distracted. Just when you look away you’ ll miss it.”  The parable of the ten virgins was running through my mind. Five of the virgins needed more oil in their lamps and just as they left the bridegroom came.  Where is the sun Lord? I can’t see it at all!  I had visions of a beautiful Easter photo captioned “The Son has risen Alleluia!”  The sky was light and it seemed past time. But I waited. I was cold and needed more tea and wanted to find a signal so I could check and see if I did indeed miss it.  But I waited. I kept watch and I prayed and enjoyed the peace of the moment and the peace infiltrating my soul. It was a peace that came from knowing, from TRUSTING that the sun was rising above the horizon even if I couldn’t see it through the clouds. It wasn’t what I expected. Really, you woke me for this God? This sunrise is a total dud. But it wasn’t of course. He was speaking a different message to me than the first time and letting me know that I didn’t need to actually see the sun rising to know that it had. “Thomas you believe because you have seen but blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe”. (Jn. 20:29) Patience. Stay awake. Stay alert. Don’t let life distract you from the truth of Life.

God reinforced several truths with this unexpected moment. The light, the TRUTH always dispels the darkness, even if it seeps in under cover of clouds.  It is there, working, being true and requires nothing of us except to accept it.  Even without the magnificence of the sun reflecting off the ocean waters and making its great ascent visibly, we find ourselves immersed in the light.  God was telling me precisely, “Truth is coming”.

It wasn’t what I expected and hoped for, that blaze of Glory, but the truth was profound and wonderful just the same.

He was saying, “I am Coming. I am here.”  Just as certainly as the sun has risen every morning it will rise again.  It can be trusted and relied on.  Steady. Unchanging. Like the Kingdom that awaits.

What a balm to this aching soul.  The promise is true and always kept.  God is with us no matter the trial just as surely as the sun will turn night into day.  And just as surely as He is here now, He will come again.

Why would we ever look away?  Be ready. Be vigilant. Watch and Pray.

Jesus I Trust in You

I’ve written here before about the death of our 4 year-old son Mikey almost 5 years ago.  Michael Julian PullanoHe was diagnosed with a brain tumor and battled his disease for 9 months before he died.  That journey, while being one that no parent ever wants to take, was responsible for so much fruit.  You can read more of my thoughts over the years on my caringbridge site. My faith and my writing have grown from that suffering and the continued carrying of the cross.  Though it never leaves our side we have gotten very used to carrying it.  We have found JOY despite sorrow and loss.  I can look at that sweet and beautiful face and know with certainty that his little life was precious and meaningful to God’s design and in the plan for my own salvation.  I can even go so far as to say I am thankful for having him, knowing him. loving him and losing him because God is faithful.  When He says He has plans to give us a future and a hope He is faithful.

Several weeks ago now, we once again got that dreaded phone call.  Every parent’s worst nightmare has become our newest living reality.  “Your daughter has been in an accident.” “She’s in critical condition.” “She was hit by a bus.” “She’s intubated for now.” “Mr. Pullano… Your daughter is dying.”

Anna Noelle Pullano January 27, 1995- March 2, 2013

Anna Noelle Pullano
January 27, 1995- March 2, 2013

Time is frozen in that moment and yet it steadily marches on as we adjust, adapt, re-define and accept.  We’ve been here before.  We’ve walked this road of pain, sorrow and grief and, ultimately, with God’s grace, this road of HOPE and FAITH.  We will walk it again because God has asked us to.

My understanding is so limited and so narrow.  I can’t begin to answer all the Why’s that are so much a part of our human nature.  Why us? again…  Why her?  Why do our other children have to bear this again?  It is so unfair.  As parents we do all in our power to protect our kids and keep them safe from harm and the evils of the world.  This is completely out of our hands.  Why Lord would you allow them to suffer so much?

And you are an all-powerful and amazing God.  As sure as I have 10 fingers and 10 toes, you could have intervened and prevented this tragedy for us.  Why Lord?  Why didn’t your angels keep her safe?  Why did you allow this in our lives when you so easily could have spared us?  You could have intervened and you didn’t.

You could have intervened but you didn’t.  

And that leaves only one thing to say.

Jesus I trust in You.

We will seek refuge and take comfort in the arms of God.  Where else could we possibly go?  We will answer as Peter answered, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of everlasting life.” (Jn 6:68) bearing in mind the words of Jesus, “I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.” (Jn 15:5)

We will bear up and carry this newest cross.  How?  With God’s grace and with His love.  It is a love that is not from us but a divine love that bears all things.  It is love for God and the desire to do His Holy and perfect will that will bear this cross.  It was the same for Jesus, He came to do his Father’s will, and it wasn’t an easy road to walk.  The road to Calvary is never an easy road.

It is a road however that we can freely and humbly choose, even in circumstances that we would never ask for.  Had I known, I would have BEGGED my God for this cup to pass me by, but truly not my will but yours be done Father.  And armed with that Trust and Love, all a grace, we will freely choose to walk this road alongside our Lord.  We will not be felled by the enemy of despair and we will not be victims of darkness.  We will walk uprightly in the light, even though we may falter.

The sadness and the grief are sometimes overwhelming.  The future looms large with this enormous cross that we will never be out from under.  The presence and the weight will be constant companions this side of Heaven.  It is no different from so many crosses.  The death of any loved one or the decision of a rape victim to choose life for her child when that choice feels impossible.  The gay man or woman who chooses celibate love for their life in order to more fully live the Gospel.  People suffering with debilitating, life-long illnesses or chronic pain or mental disorders.  All are crosses that are not necessarily chosen but can be freely borne.  Why would we want to bear them?  The same reason Jesus wanted to bear his cross.  Love. Pure and simple.

But what about our happiness?  I thought you wanted me to be happy in my life God?  Giving me children and then taking them away doesn’t sound like the greatest recipe for happiness to me.  In fact the pain of it is blinding sometimes.  How can I ever be happy with that?  At moments I cry out with Jesus, “Father, Why have you forsaken me?”

English: Divine Mercy. Painting in Divine Merc...

And the answer comes, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise”

Jesus I trust in You

I want to know the extreme and heavenly love that bears a lifetime of days without my first-born baby girl and our first-born son.  I want to bear the fruit and know the Joy that can only be understood in light of the pain and the suffering.  We can’t truly know light without darkness.  What a thrilling discovery when we are in darkness to understand that the light dispels it perfectly and completely.

Do a good and perfect work in me Lord.  You are my potter and I am your clay.

Jesus I Trust in You

Storms

*In light of the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, I pray that all who are living through that tumultuous storm will take comfort in the strength and peace of God*

I went to a funeral yesterday.  The weather was surprisingly warm and sunny as I got in my car and left the neighborhood.  The funeral mass was at a church across town and as I got a few minutes away from home I noticed the sky up ahead was looking pretty dark.   I continued to drive along and the sky grew increasingly overcast as it seemed I was heading right into the storm. The sky got darker and darker until I was directly in the thick of it and was actually surrounded by near-blackness.  It felt appropriate considering my destination.  Very quickly a deluge of rain pelted my car and the wipers were swinging furiously.  Even though I was surrounded by utter darkness and deafening rain I could see the edge of the storm cloud up ahead and bright sun filtering through white fluffy clouds beyond.  I knew that it was only a matter of moments before I would be out of the storm and it would once again be a pleasantly warm fall day.  It was a bit daunting driving through it with very little visibility (though I live in the snow belt in Central New York so not the worst of what I’m used to!)  Sure enough a minute later I was out from under the oppressive clouds and the sky was so clear I thought it would be smooth sailing all the way to the church.  My route took me a round-about way and as I got closer to church wouldn’t you know that I was almost under that storm cloud again?  Luckily we parked and got inside the church before the rain started in earnest.

Christus in the storm on the lake; Rembrandt (...

Christus in the storm on the lake; Rembrandt (1633)(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Storms in our lives are inevitable just as death is inevitable.  Both are difficult and painful but are simply a part of this life.  The only guarantee we have, the only promise in terms of suffering, is the hope of Eternal rest and peace and Joy in our next life.  Not this life.

As Christians, that is, as Christ followers, we are called to follow Jesus the way Mary did. She set the example for us as the very first Christian, not merely following her son and savior to Calvary, but investing herself in His burden every step of the way.  Loving Him as only a mother could, blow-by-blow. She didn’t bow out when she was afraid or when the pain of what she was forced to silently witness must have been almost unbearable.  She steadfastly followed Jesus and took the blows in her mother’s heart as the whip sliced open the flesh she once carried and the nails crushed through the hands she once held.  With trust she stood at the foot of the cross until the bitter end.  With a suffering and sorrowful heart she watched her beloved son leave this life.

We are called to no less.  We are called to carry our crosses in the many different forms they take in our lives.  We are called to walk in the footsteps of Jesus and Mary.  No promises and no guarantees for smooth sailing!

After our son died there was a temptation to feel entitled and deserving of a break from pain and suffering.  Surely after what we went through we wouldn’t have to endure more?  I caught myself in those early days living in fear of something horrible happening to another member of my family.  How could I survive it?  But I caught myself.  I knew then that no matter how much I didn’t want to face another storm that it could very well happen.  I also knew that I would weather it, the same way I weathered the loss of Michael, with faith and trust in God.  That relationship was the only way to carry on and move forward in Joy and not as a slave to fear.

“For God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self control.” (2 Timothy 1:7)

We must flee to the refuge of God’s sovereignty even when it feels as though He didn’t handle our cross for us.  We do that by Surrendering and trusting that He had a good reason for allowing us to carry it.  That doesn’t mean we roll over as victims to pain and suffering, but it does mean we don’t let it win the rule of our lives.  We suffer our cross, yes, and it is often painful and difficult to bear, but we do it with the promise of Joy ahead and trust that we are learning and growing as God wishes.  We look just a little way toward the horizon and see the edge of the black storm cloud and the sun shining through fluffy white clouds beyond and let God carry us until we get there.  And when the clouds threaten again, we trust that again God will carry us through.  This much He did promise us.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deut. 31:8)

This was a lesson the apostles learned in the storm at sea.  They were terrified when the storm came up and the waves were washing into the boat. Jesus was sleeping and when they woke Him in a panic He rebuked them saying, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” (Mt. 8:26)  And yet they were afraid.  They feared even though Jesus was right in their boat!  Jesus is in our boat too.  No matter the storm we face, we are commanded to trust in God and seek His refuge.  Even if the waves are pouring in we must understand we will never sink.  We will never perish.  Even were we to perish from this Life, if we cling to the true life-giver we will LIVE.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

Just as the church served as our refuge from the storm, God is always our spiritual refuge in times of trouble.  His arms are open wide, His word is living and true, and His love for us knows no bounds.

Related reading: Seasons and Mary

Berries

Still More Reflections from the Garden

I’ve come to a startling awareness about myself; one that by the grace of God I will remedy immediately.   I am not proud to admit that I have been a very selfish gardener.

I have asked God on many occasions to bless my efforts in the garden; that the harvest might be bountiful. Indeed it has been that, and so much more, as He continuously teaches me valuable lessons.  Many I’ve written about already in Reflections from the Garden, Evangelical Earthworms, Weeds and Fruit.

In the spring, when the majority of my garden was still newly planted, the strawberry patch from last year was in full swing.  Hundreds, or maybe even thousands of little green berries adorned the plants.  The little girls and I went out each morning in anticipation and excitement of juicy red berries.  They grew larger and started to turn pink and a few were a bit ahead of the curve and were on the verge of red and ripe.  We ran out on the appropriate morning to pick our very first ripe berries.  I couldn’t wait for the kids to savor one and together we would give glory and thanks to the Lord for His gifts and His bounty; except when we got there, the first few ripe berries were half chewed away by the birds….  Imagine the disappointment and downright anger!  I had planted and watered and weeded and nurtured and finally the first fruits were going to the birds!  Excuse me while I sound like my kids for a minute but, “It just wasn’t fair!!”

I decided the birds were not going to get the best of my strawberry crop and I covered the patch with a fine netting to keep them out.  I certainly got tangled up in that mess but it didn’t seem to deter the birds at all.  I ran to the internet to research all my bird-thwarting options and was ready for battle . The berries continued to ripen and the birds continued to eat some of them.  One day, however, I realized that there were more ripe berries than either we, or the birds could eat!  It was one of those moments of awareness that comes directly from above and the Lord spoke the following verse to my heart,

Mt 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns and yet the heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not more valuable than they?”

Gardens everywhere are helping God keep His Promise! I hadn’t thought of my garden as truly doing God’s work until that moment.  My garden is fruitful and surely not by my own inexperienced hand.  God has provided plenty to go around, enough for our family for weeks on end and enough for the birds in the neighborhood.  I have an abundance to share and am so thankful!

The bigger point, of course is that our Sovereign God has every detail of our lives and our world in His hands.  And while He is not ‘up there pulling strings’, His spirit is living and moving in the hearts of His faithful.  His sheep hear His voice and follow His commands and His perfect and holy will is accomplished, through us and in us.

It is usually easy to turn over our situations when we seemingly have no control over them.  When there is nowhere left to turn we turn to the Almighty and often, happily, discover that’s the very best place to go.  But what about the situations that, seemingly, are in our control?  A garden for example? Or the simple moments of our days?  What’s to gain by turning it over to God when we don’t really have to?

When we willingly place our trust in God’s providence we gain FREEDOM.  Freedom from the ways of the world, freedom from self-reliance and freedom from worry!  While every situation may not go exactly as it would if we did it our own way, we are truly free when the ways of the world cannot touch us and we have the confidence to know that whatever the outcome, it will be the very best one for our eternal salvation.

Gal 5:1”It is for freedom that Christ set us free. Stand firm then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.”

When we place our Trust in God we become free to Trust in God.  That is; by an act of our conscious will we allow God to transform our hearts.

I suppose it is entirely possible that all the birds in my yard have spread the word about my delicious strawberries and will show up next year with a few thousand of their closest friends for a feast.  I would be disappointed to have no strawberries!  It would be hard to stomach and I would probably question God’s wisdom, or at the very least, my own in trusting Him.  I also have complete faith there would be a valuable lesson to learn from it. Turning my garden over to Him does not guarantee perfect success, at least not the success that I’m praying for.  But turning it over to Him does mean that I am freed from the yoke of selfishness and the burden of trying to protect what is not truly mine in the first place.  The bounty of my garden is for the Lord to do with as He sees fit; to feed His birds and His animals or His faithful little family living here.  He will work all things for the good of His creatures.

Most importantly perhaps is the lesson that by Trusting in the Sovereignty of God I am freed from relying on the trinity of self; Me, Myself and I.  Compared to Him, what can I possibly know anyway??  Jesus Himself invites us to give everything to Him because He knows, in ways we can’t possibly know, that it will be for our good if we do!

Mt 11:29-30 “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Why would we want it any other way??

Our Father who art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name. They kingdom come, they will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. Amen

I Work Out

“I’m sexy and I know it. I work out!” These lyrics by the oh-so-appropriately named (even if a little inappropriate) LMFAO are rolling around in my head. I got myself back to the gym this week, after a little workout sabbatical (read: been waaaay too busy for that)  so I think that now qualifies me as “working out”.  The’ sexy and I know it’ part- well -I’m laughing something off!  So that little voice in my head and the screaming button on my jeans guilted me into finding time for the gym.  And for the record I would just like to say that I have not missed going to the gym at all.  Really.  Not at all.  I don’t enjoy exercising in a forced and contrived environment, though I’ve done it out of necessity for years.

I went back full steam and did a class and some cardio and some weight training.  It was difficult because the whole time my mind was whirling with the lists and responsibilities just waiting….lurking in my mind.   But as I said, necessity drove me and I moved from machine to machine working each muscle group thoroughly. Despite the weight of duty calling and a slight boredom, I persevered knowing that I would be thankful later that I accomplished a worthy and healthy thing for myself.

Two days later I realized some of the fruit of that worthy and healthy thing…. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) to be precise.  Apparently it does require muscle use to move fingers on a keyboard.  Still I was proud of myself and willing to endure a little pain for the sake of the greater good.  Until the third day when I moved from tight and sore into full-out robot maneuvers because it just plain hurt too much to bend. Anything.  I vaguely remember crying out to the universe, “I take it back! I un-workout!”  There just isn’t enough healthy and good, and definitely not enough sexy, that could or should justify that pain and suffering!

The crosses we bear in our lives often feel similar, whether of our own making or not.  They are sometimes painful and heavy, sometimes tedious and aggravating and often we can’t really see the point even if we have a vague sense that somehow they are for our good.   How often do we cry out in distress to make it stop or change or go away or improve?  How often do we seem to get no response and see no change?  Or how often do we come through hardship the better and stronger for it?  In every case, God asks us to persevere and trust in Him because He knows exactly what the point is.

Simon de Vos - The Israelites after Crossing t...

Simon de Vos – The Israelites after Crossing the Red Sea – WGA25334 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We can look at the example of the Israelites coming out of slavery.  They were in the desert waiting on the Lord for 40 years! They cried out and prayed and begged, and in spite of manna raining down from heaven to feed them daily, they ultimately failed to trust.  Moses went up Mt Sinai for 40 days and by the time he came back down God’s chosen people were worshipping idols. (Ex. 32) These were a people that had walked through the Red Sea on dry ground! They experienced miracles directly from God but how easily they gave up when the waiting didn’t seem to make sense.

We can ask, about the Israelites, and about our own lives, what is the point of the suffering God allows?   I certainly can’t pretend to have the answer to that profound question; who can know the mind of God after all?   But it is not difficult to look back at the Israelites on their way to Canaan and see where they might have gone wrong.  They certainly lost patience, and failed to obey and trust in God’s promise to lead them to the promised land. They questioned and tested God when they were hungry and thirsty (Ex 16-17).  The minute the going got tough they decided they had a better way.

What they missed was the point that our sufferings are an opportunity for purification.   They provide an opportunity to rely totally on our sovereign God and believe wholeheartedly that there is a point and a plan and that He is providing all the grace we need to be victorious for eternal rewards.

When we look at our crosses from this perspective they become easier to bear.  When we open our hearts to God in total trust and abandonment, He fills them with Grace to bear up in our circumstances.   He teaches not only the bearer of the cross but sometimes those who come into contact with another’s cross, how to trust and rely on Him in all circumstances.  He fills our hearts with Himself, thereby assuring us of victory.

My muscles are no longer screaming at me in killing pain.  I’m not even sure what was accomplished by those few little workouts, but somehow I know it was good and I’m glad that I have the first and most difficult week under my belt. Even if it’s on a very small scale, I am stronger and better off and more prepared to take on bigger and better workout challenges that will lead to a healthier and happier physical me!  Most importantly I’ve opened up an opportunity for myself to grow and to change.

If those Israelites had known then what we know now, if they had the knowledge of hindsight, imagine how obedient and full of Love for self and neighbor and how faithful in trusting and worshiping the one true God they would have been.

Wouldn’t they?

After all the land of milk and honey awaits.

Reflections from the Garden

There are lots of reasons I love to garden.

#1 –  Earthworms are very cool (they may even warrant a future blog post!)
#2 – It definitely counts as some sort of workout since body parts always hurt the next day
#3 – All that Vitamin D does a body good AND I get a great tan.                                                                                              #4 – It’s a legit excuse to tell the kids we’re having cereal for dinner tonight. (The organic and healthy kind of course!)
#5 – The kids love picking and eating the stuff we grow which means they actually eat some veggies from time to time.
#6 – No one wants to help do all that work so it’s peace and quiet time
#7 – No one wants to help do all that work so it’s peace and quiet time
#8 – No one wants to help do all that work so…. (you get the idea!)

But most importantly it’s time in my day that I get to spend with the Lord.

All that being said however, I am by no means a gardener.  I just happen to have a piece of land in which I dig and plant and water and nurture and harvest but it does not mean that I actually know what I’m doing!   Who knew it would turn into such a place of refuge and solace and prayer?  Who knew it would fulfill an elemental need to be in touch with God’s Earth?  I really had no idea how much I would love the garden when I took on the task last spring.  I love it and God teaches me through it.

I was thinking about the idea of gardening in the days of old – as in before the days of hoses and sprinklers.  How did gardeners ensure that their crops would be adequately watered so as to produce fruit?  Especially the full-out farmers who relied on said crops for sustenance and livelihood?  I’m sure if I did a little research I would find various creative and ingenious ways that farmers have watered crops throughout the centuries but for the most part I think it’s safe to say that before the days of modern irrigation, farmers were forced to rely upon the providence of God for the growing of crops.    They prayed for and waited for rain.  And if the rain didn’t come they didn’t have crops. Right?

So in my own little garden I thought about the idea of not hooking up a watering system and simply relying on God for whatever needs my little plants might have.  I immediately rejected that idea for all the standard reasons we use in our modern society; “God helps those who help themselves” and “God gave us brains to invent ——– so He must want us to use ——–“.  As quickly as I first rejected it though I decided to give it some more thought.  After all I do profess that I trust God in all things.

It occurred to me that, as someone living in America in suburbia in 2012 with all our modern conveniences, I’m not sure it’s possible to trust God in all things the way the people in the Old testament had to really trust God in all things.  We simply don’t have to rely on Him.  We have hoses and sprinklers and faucets and elaborate underground systems that bring water instantly.

And while I’m certainly not suggesting that we give up our modern technology and conveniences,  I do think it merits reflection at the very least.  Do our plans include trusting God only when we’ve exhausted our other means?  When we fall short is God our plan B? or plan C? or any plan at all?

We have advanced tremendously since the fall of Adam and Eve and have become masterful at self-reliance in this dog-eat-dog society but are we better off in our relationship with God?

Adam and Eve Driven Out of Paradise, as in Gen...

Adam and Eve Driven Out of Paradise, as in Genesis 3:23-24, illustration from the 1890 Holman Bible (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We are a people driven by success but are we driving ourselves right out of paradise?

I think I would rather fail with God at my side than achieve any success without Him. To have Him, to know Him, to love Him is truly the ultimate success.

Lord God bring us closer into a trusting relationship with you. Amen

LOOK UP!

Look Up! Look Up! Look Up! Melissa Look Up! Look Up! Hurry Look Up! Just lift your head and Look Up! Look at me. Look at me Melissa. Look at Mommy! Look at my Face! Look Up!!!

This is pretty much how bath time goes with my 2-year-old every time. I shampoo her hair and when she knows the rinsing is coming she looks down to try to shield her face and cries louder and louder, probably to be heard over my pleas, until she reaches full-out hysteria… and we’re done. I’ve tried reasoning and explaining, but my normally brilliant 2 yr old, just can’t seem to get the message.

If she would only listen to me, and trust me, and obey me, then the water would pour nicely down the back of her head and hair washing would be a non-event. Bath time would be considerably more enjoyable all around and I would simply have a shiny happy toddler.

If she would only LISTEN to me, and TRUST me, and OBEY me… God our Father has been saying the same darn thing to His children for thousands of years! Over and over and over we fall back into relying on our own ways and means. Old habits die-hard I guess. And we suffer for it!

Listening is critical to our prayer life. We are told to “pray always” and “be persistent in prayer” but at times it can feel like we aren’t effecting any good or getting any answers.  Perhaps because, like little Melissa,  we are overcome by our own fears and prejudices and aren’t able to quiet ourselves enough to listen. Sometimes it’s pain and suffering holding us captive or excuses of busy lives. For any number of reasons we might ask but not truly make the time to Listen to what God has to say.  HE  will ALWAYS come into our prayerful silence.

“Be still and Know that I am God” (Ps 46:11)

In the quiet stillness of our minds and souls at rest we will feel conviction in our hearts, we will know truth in our minds, we will feel moved by a gentle stirring or holy fire.  Our souls will hear Love and Truth and recognize it every time if we are listening.  For this we were created and no less.

And if we hear from God we must Trust in His almighty providence as ruler in body, mind and soul. To do anything less is cheating ourselves of the fullness of LIFE in Him.

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ (Mt 22:37)

Through prayer or otherwise, we must then do the work of obeying the Lords’ commands. God wants nothing less than our acceptance, our fiat and our total surrender to His holy will.  Often we have to put aside our own agendas and ideas of how things should be because as mere humans we can not calculate the effect of grace in any given situation.  It is through our obedience that Grace can be at work.  God knows exactly how to calculate the effect of grace in our human situations and he sends it in abundance.  We have to trust him on that!

Our trust and obedience will bring peace. Imagine if Melissa would have just listened and really heard what I was saying to her. What if she simply said, “ok Mommy” and then tipped her head up and not insisted on doing it her own way?

In my infinite wisdom as a parent, (ahem…) I’m sure that my advice would have worked out for the best for my child whom I love. And how much more perfect is the advice of God our Father?

 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Mt 7:11)

God, as our loving parent, sees all and knows all, and he’s not just interested in what’s best for us, rather He sees and wants perfection for us!  So many things would be easier, better, more enjoyable if we would remember in those moments of panic and fear and indecision and temptation, to just look up. If we had the courage, despite the voice of this world that tends to drown out all else, to wholeheartedly Trust in the Lord, we would be happier.

Plain and simple

God gives us every grace we need in the moment that we need it. Always, unconditionally. We have legions of angels and saints as intercessors, especially our Lady who loves us better than our own earthly mothers. We have no excuse to live without trusting our Heavenly Parents. We aren’t 2 after all.

Lord, help us to Listen prayerfully, trust in you always and obey without reservation and may we ever remember to “Look Up”! Amen