Love and Sacrifice

Our family grew by one again this past Christmas. It’s taken me this long to catch my breath and write about it, but here she is. img_0009 Meet Pepper − a little 4-pound ball of playful enjoyment! She’s filling up all kinds of empty little spaces in this family. If you are thinking that I’m the very definition of crazy, I won’t argue. This chubby, happy baby and this precocious 3 year-old

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Olivia Grace

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Leah Denise

are enough to keep me running and hopping, not to mention the rest of the gang.  I’ve been resisting a puppy for over 20 years now, so why suddenly did I dive in? And yes, I squeezed my eyes shut tight and dove− just went for it before I could think about it too much and change my mind!

There are lots of reasons why it isn’t and has never been a good idea for us to take on a puppy. Trust me, I’m still going over some of them in my head… BUT there is one very good and simple reason why I did it. Love. Not just my love for my children and certainly not because I have a particular affinity for dogs (though she IS really growing on me), but to teach them the truest kind of love. Nothing teaches this love like the sacrifice required to care for babies and puppies! I want my children to have hearts filled to overflowing with Love. There’s so much I can’t give them or protect them from. Much of what we can give them is just stuff that’s filling them up, but leaving them empty. Sadly, our kids are such victims of technology today. Victims because they are learning that their acceptance and worth depend on the number of likes they get on a photo or post. The instant reactions and interactions come more from the feelings of the moment than from reason, deep thought, or the care that is necessary to foster personal relationships. In short, our collective young are trading empty accolades for actual love and have no idea! We have become a society that rarely recognizes what Love actually is and I include myself in that condemnation. I have enough work, enough people to take care of, enough responsibility, and practically zero time for myself. Why in the World would I even consider adding a puppy to this already packed and crazy schedule? And yet, can there be enough love?

Love requires sacrifice. Love is not easy. Love doesn’t even always feel good, believe it or not. When I’m so exhausted I can’t see straight and have to spend my entire day cleaning poop from butts and floors, I can assure you that I’m not exactly feeling the love. But when the kids run off that school bus full of excitement and anticipation, it’s not because the computer or television is waiting to tackle them with a bear hug. They come in with Joy to greet the kind of Love that has no expectation beyond simply accepting it; the kind of Love that teaches you HOW to love simply by receiving it.

When I think about my children growing up and heading out into the world on their own, there are so many things that I wonder if I’m teaching them well. Will they be good people, prepared to face the inevitable challenges of life? Will they be productive and successful? Will they be happy? Will they seek the path and the purpose that God has designed them for? I can really get caught up in all the ways I fall short. I wonder if the lasting impression I leave them with will revolve around the endless work, sleepless nights, and the stress and frenzy of trying to fit it all in. Will they even know my Joy? Because I swear I have it. Will they know my peace? Because it’s there and is rooted down deep. Will they walk away remembering the supreme frustration I expressed when the dog had her 100th accident in the house or will they hold more dear the elation I felt when she finally had a successful day going outside? Truthfully, I hope it’s both.

I’m not proud of some of my parenting moments. I often lament that I sure didn’t channel the Blessed Mother in the way I handled a certain situation or another. But I take heart from the messy stuff because what I hope my children will take away from their first-hand witness of the struggle and sacrifice is that I was committed to Love. I’m committed to loving them and teaching them love. My sacrificing, day in and day out, is the legacy I hope to leave them, because love in its purest form bears the depth of sacrifice. It is life-giving and has the ability to teach and to heal, requiring nothing in return. Love without sacrifice is a shallow thing at best. I love certain things, but wouldn’t sacrifice a whit for them. If I can leave my children one lasting example, I hope it will be this real, deep, and true kind of love. When they are grown and gone, I hope they remember the sacrifice and see the beauty in it.

And then I hope they remember their Jesus and that He did it for them first.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

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LOOK UP!

Godversations is 2 years old today!

I thought I would share my very first post again. I was a different person when I wrote this but the message is rooted in Truth and will always be relevant; Listen, Trust, Obey. Thank you for your unending Love and Support in the Joys and Trials we have encountered on our journey of Faith. None of us ever walks alone and I am honored to have each one of you beside me.
I am also excited to be sharing faith on a new blog for the John Paul II Center for Women in the diocese of Syracuse. You can find it here http://jpiicenterforwomen.wordpress.com. The mission of the John Paul II Center is to promote the true dignity of Women. Check out the website for more information http://www.jpiicenterforwomen.com . The Holy Spirit is at work and I am so honored to be part of sharing Wisdom and Truth!
Okay I am publicly putting this out there – eeeek! I have started writing a book. I have no idea if it will get finished, or published, or read, but I have started one. So there ya go. Like the Godversations Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/godversations and leave me a message or shoot me an email every now and then to keep the pressure on! (Oh no, what have I done???)

Happy and Blessed Easter and I will remember all my readers especially in my prayers this Easter Season.
Love and Peace from our family to yours.

Godversations

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…

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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

Testimony:Cradle to Grave

Written by Anabelle, Age 37 in AL

From Cradle To Grave Catholic With Detours in Between

CradletoGrave

(That’s not me but my daughter. My photos are too orange to publish.)

I don’t have a memory of the most important day of my life.  But I know it happened because of acid-oranged photographs with my godparents, a Baptismal Certificate with my name on it, and no one tried to stop me when I received First Communion.  The seal of Catholicism was a cornerstone for my formative years, nurtured by a daily communicant mother who scuffed holes in her pants from kneeling pilgrimage-style across Church aisles; above-reproach principal who sang vibrating soprano-key for the daily 7:00 AM Mass; teachers who marched us to confession regularly; and a staunchly Catholic extended family with reunions that were marked by Baptisms, Church weddings, and funeral parties that always served garlic peanuts appetizers and roasted pig for the main course.  Being born into a predominantly Catholic country where public transportation was decked out with Jesus/Mary emblems and dangling rosaries on the rearview mirrors, was a support system that fostered my spiritual infancy and kept me on the straight and narrow.

Really I had all that I needed to grow in the fullness of my faith.  But my Catholic identity waned in a liberal Catholic law school when I reached the age of adulthood.  Oprah Winfrey’s ‘wisdom’, popular culture world views, new age novelty, immoral entertainment stole the truths that were deposited in my soul. I began to live in the prevalent narcissistic philosophy of ‘I/me/mine first” and accepted the whopping secular lie that in order to impress others, my spiritual life must be kept under the wraps of designer fashion and accessories.  I was the average dissenting/cafeteria/lukewarm Catholic.

On the brink of my graduation, the Year of the Holy Spirit, I unexpectedly pilgrimaged to Banneux, Belgium to an approved apparition site of Our Lady of the Poor.  There, I rambled on a litany of self-absorbed prayers:  help me pass the bar exam, marry a blue-eyed man, travel the world over, find the right shade of copper lipstick for my new dress etc…  But My Blessed Mother must have begged God for my conversion of heart because when the bar results were released, I was .02 % short of becoming a new lawyer.

There’s nothing like a dose of humility to make one see with clarity.  And the truth of what I saw was this:  I needed to ask God what He wanted from me instead of telling Him what I wanted Him to do for me.  The life that I’d built for me myself and I was shallow and unfulfilling.

With tail between my legs, I boxed up all of my leather purses and flirty perfumes and moved back home to recapture the peace of my childhood years.  I also kissed dating goodbye (thank you Joshua Harris!), joined a Charismatic prayer group that taught me about Jesus & the Bible, sought spiritual direction and re-discovered that a conscience living in a state of grace is where peace reigns.  This state of grace was the gift I received at Baptism, I could receive again at the Sacrament Confession. Being a cradle Catholic left it’s imprint in my soul that long before I was a student, lawyer, sister, friend, or any other label, I was a first and foremost a Catholic – a child of God and daughter of the Church.   That privilege was bestowed on me by faithful parents and the destiny to become a faithful Catholic woman was a path ingrained in me at Baptism.  I didn’t have to look to law school, to TV, to Oprah, new age or to the secular world, to find who I am and who I should be.   My identity was there in my faded photographs and Baptismal certificate.

The laws of Catholicism, the Sacraments, the devotions, and traditions drew me back into the Church started by Jesus Christ and this time, I was no longer a robot walking through rules and regulations.  I was in love with Jesus in the Eucharist, awed by a loving, forgiving God in the Confessional, captivated by the Blessed Mother and her rosary and longed to impress and become part of the communion of saints. Through the example of virtuous Catholics, I realized that being a lukewarm Catholic was worse than being a mediocre teacher/writer/lawyer/wife/mother/sister/friend and that in order to be the  best teacher/writer/lawyer/wife/mother/friend/sister, I had to become the best Catholic I could be.   I don’t mean a holier-than-thou-know-it-all but someone who stands firm in obedience to the Church Magisterium, who is willing to defend her from persecution, who prays for the conversion of my brothers and sisters, who strives for Mary’s sanctification and embraces Jesus’ Divine mercy when in sin.  A disciple of Christ who constantly studies the faith, repents, changes, inspires, corrects, evangelizes, and stays silent when necessary.

Hebrews 8:10 is the summary of my spiritual journey: “But this is the covenant I will establish with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord:  I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts.  I will be their God and they shall be my people.”

 Obviously, not me either.  It is sadly, my fifth baby.

Obviously, not me either. It is sadly, my fifth baby.

And wouldn’t you know it:  I DID eventually move across the world to sunny California, practiced immigration law with some travel perks, married the blue-eyed man of my prayers, and settled in a friendly Sothern state with peaceful cows and generous chickens as my neighbors.

Catechism and reading the saint’s writings have encouraged me to write novels, articles, and even blog about the Catholic faith I now hope to pass on to my children and take with me to the grave.

We cradle Catholics tend to take our faith for granted and look for answers elsewhere but in the Church, but if we really studied Holy Mother Church’s true teachings and seek God with a humble heart, we’ll find that everything we’ve searched for was right under our noses, poured over our foreheads, tucked under the Baptismal caps, and clothed on us in our Baptismal gowns.

Anabelle Hazard is a practicing Catholic, non-practicing lawyer, penniless novelist, happy homeschooler, and long-winded blogger at Written By the Finger of God

Year of Faith

On October 11, 2012 our Holy Father, Benedict XVI opened the Year of Faith for the Church.  In his homily he addressed the growing void of God in our society and proposed a year to renew faith and evangelize in new ways.  Here is an excerpt of his wisdom:

Jesus is the centre of the Christian faith. The Christian believes in God whose face was revealed by Jesus Christ. He is the fulfilment of the Scriptures and their definitive interpreter. Jesus Christ is not only the object of the faith but, as it says in the Letter to the Hebrews, he is “the pioneer and the perfecter of our faith” (12:2). 
Today’s Gospel tells us that Jesus Christ, consecrated by the Father in the Holy Spirit, is the true and perennial subject of evangelization. “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the good news to the poor” (Lk 4:18). This mission of Christ, this movement of his continues in space and time, over centuries and continents. It is a movement which starts with the Father and, in the power of the Spirit, goes forth to bring the good news to the poor, in both a material and a spiritual sense. The Church is the first and necessary instrument of this work of Christ because it is united to him as a body to its head. “As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20:21), says the Risen One to his disciples, and breathing upon them, adds, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (v.22). Through Christ, God is the principal subject of evangelization in the world; but Christ himself wished to pass on his own mission to the Church; he did so, and continues to do so, until the end of time pouring out his Spirit upon the disciples, the same Spirit who came upon him and remained in him during all his earthly life, giving him the strength “to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” and “to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord” (Lk 4:18-19).

He goes on to describe the ‘desertification’, that is, the void of God in all of society and how we are crying out to know Him in many ways.  “And in the desert people of faith are needed who, with their own lives, point out the way to the Promised Land and keep hope alive. Living faith opens the heart to the grace of God which frees us from pessimism. Today, more than ever, evangelizing means witnessing to the new life, transformed by God, and thus showing the path.” (emphasis mine)

In a word, the faithful are being called to witness to Christ in our lives.  It is by this witness that we “preach the gospel to the poor”.  And each one of us as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ, makes up a critical part of the whole.  Our particular stories speak Christ in many diverse ways and your words may be the very ones that lead someone to the path of Christ!  We can never underestimate what God can do with even the tiniest ‘Yes’

I would like to use this blog and take the Holy Father’s call to action very literally.  I am always inspired by my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and would love to hear your stories and testimonies. Contact me HERE if you would like to share your witness of Christ in your life and have it published on this blog.  No matter where you are in your faith walk you have something valuable to offer.  By speaking up and speaking out, God can use you for the good of all His holy church.

It can be short, sweet, and to the point, detailing a single experience, or a more general faith testimony of your life (1500 words or less). If you aren’t sure how to do it ask the Holy Spirit to use you as His instrument and just speak from the heart.

I’ll publish testimonies as I get them for the entire year of faith so if you know someone with a faith story to tell send them here!

Can’t wait to hear from you and I’ll get working on mine too!

 

Wow, You shouldn’t have!

But I’m honored that you did.

Godversations has been nominated for two blog awards: One Lovely Blog award and Illuminating Blogger

Thank you Travis at Catholic1 for considering me in such good company! I love the insightful conversations going on at Catholic1 and you can see the other great blogs he nominated here.

Rules for accepting these awards are as follows:

  1. Add a picture of the award to your blog post.
  2. Thank the blogger who nominated you and include a link to their blog.
  3. Nominate 5-10 other Bloggers and inform those selected that they have been nominated.

For the Illuminating Blogger Award and One Lovely Blog Award say 7 interesting things about yourself.

The great catholic blogs out there are perhaps as diverse as the saints in Heaven! I’ve picked a variety to highlight here that I Love.  In no particular order

  1. Little Catholic Bubble.  Leila discusses all things catholic, with an amazing ability to engage her readers with Truth, Goodness and Beauty and a lot of Love.  And I dare you to check out “My other blog” on the site!  Beware, one of those beautiful and precious souls is bound to capture your heart
  2. Accepting Abundance.  Stacy is a gifted writer and brings so much to the table of her discussions as scientist, Mother, convert, wife.
  3. Public Catholic.  Rebecca Hamilton, US Representative for OK, has combined her powerful writing with her years of political prowess and her topics are relevant to all citizens of the US.
  4. Steve Gershom. He’s catholic, gay and living for the kingdom.   He writes with eloquence and humor about how his faith and his church guide his struggles and his message is so relevant for all of us.
  5. St. Joseph’s Vanguard. Devin blogs mostly on apologetics and has published a great book “If Protestantism were True” that taught me quite a bit of the basics and beyond.

Check them all out as well as other great blogs listed on my blogroll (scroll down on the right hand side)

And my very interesting teenagers have informed me that I’m unfortunately not very interesting at all.   I guess I’ll just go with 7 totally UN-interesting things about me

  1. As a teenager I wanted NOOOO part of getting married or having kids.  I’m actually recorded on video declaring this.
  2. I went to the University of Pittsburgh for 3 semesters and rowed on crew and LOVED it!  I was a writing major with a business minor. I then transferred because I had no idea what I would do with a writing degree…
  3. I graduated from Lemoyne college with a BS in Business Admin with a concentration in organization development, after I was married with two children.  I’ve been developing my organization ever since 🙂
  4. My husband told me he was going to marry me on our 3rd date. I told him he was crazy
  5. I’m not a convert, a revert or born again.  I have never had a precise “AHA’ moment in which I drastically turned my life around (unfortunately!  I’m a little more thick-headed than that I guess!)  I’ve always known God and gradually and steadily have been climbing the mountain through life’s experiences and learning as I go.  There are moments almost every day in which God reveals himself to me in new ways.
  6. God’s always got my back.  After two children I prayed for help and patience and simplicity – so He sent along six more.  Recently I told Him I just did not have time to write all the lessons He teaches.  Moments later I started a blog.  Most recently I thanked Him for the ‘me’ time I’m about to have when all my kids go to school.  He just laughed.
  7. I don’t know about you but I’m still stuck on #6….
  8. OK a real #7 – This may be very un-female of me and un-interesting, but I HATE shopping!  I was born for a lot of things but shopping is NOT one of them!

Bounty

A simple reflection on the garden

I was on my porch enjoying my morning tea on a glorious summer morning with my garden before me.  I couldn’t help but marvel at the lush bounty of it all.  Full green plants bending under the weight of their fruit and all in drastic contrast to the drought afflicted yard surrounding it.

I had the clear and simple thought that it truly was not the work of my hands.  Yes I did my part.  I was responsible for the backbreaking hours of work preparing, planting and maintaining but no amount of sweat equity, all by itself, could produce all that life. 

God gives glory to our work but He does expect us to work.  I have learned that trusting in His providence and goodness does not mean that we sit back and hope He will get it all done.  It does mean that we do all we are humanly capable of while recognizing and understanding we are not ultimately in control.

This is especially obvious in regards to human life.  God has allowed us, out of Love and Respect, to participate with Him in His ministry and His creation.

He allows us to create His creation!

So on a fundamental level we must recognize that all life comes from Him and not from ourselves alone.  It’s like He’s given us a great big Lego set of life.  We build and create with it but ultimately can’t take credit for designing the Legos.

And the design possibilities are simply limitless when we allow God to have a hand in our work.

Cor. 9:10 “The one who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”

As people of God’s creation we are the work of His hands and at the same time the result of human industry.  When we fail to give proper glory to the creator, the true author of all life, we limit ourselves.  But when creator and created intertwine we are limitless for “All things are Possible with God” (Mt. 19:26).

It is impossible then to see the truth of LIFE – that is, the beauty and the splendor and the glory of all life, any life, every single human life no matter their state or condition – separate from the divine power that allowed it’s creation and gives it glory.  To separate the divine creator from human creation is to blind ourselves!

When we look at life as a product merely of our own will and our own actions and our own entitlement to create then we imagine ourselves equally entitled to destroy.   It is in appreciating that creation truly belongs to God and we are His co-creators striving to do His will, only then, apart from ourselves, can we grasp the true sanctity of life.

Fetus week 9-10

Fetus week 9-10 (Photo credit: lunar caustic)

And once we grasp the true sanctity of life, only then can we protect it; in our hearts, in our relationships, with our laws and more broadly, as a society.

I planted mere SEEDS.  No amount of my effort or will could turn those seeds into the bounty of a garden.  I had no part in what took place beneath the soil.  I couldn’t force the seedlings to break ground.  I could not force them to become healthy plants or to flower or to produce fruit.

That is all, quite simply, the handiwork of God.

At the moment I put those seeds in the soil I was giving God my fiat.  I agreed to allow Him to create through me.  I signed up for all the work it would take to nurture His creation, to take care of it, to make Him proud and to give Him honor and thanksgiving.  I agreed to help bring His vision to fruition and He agreed to help me do it.

His vision is always to spoil us with His bounty.

His vision is to give us Life.

Lord we pray you will open all hearts and minds to Life!  We thank you and praise you always for your bounty! Amen

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

God’s-eye view

My kindergartener recently had a conversation with grandma that went something like this.
Grandma: Pretty soon you will know how to read Andrew, and then you can just pick up a book and read it!
Andrew: You mean I will just go into school one day and I will be able to read?
Grandma: Well you will have to work and learn how to do it but then you will know how to do it forever.
At this point he shrugged indifferently and ran off to play…

If only he could see what he’s missing from an adult perspective!!  How do you make a 6-year-old understand  that the whole world will start to blossom  once they do the relatively short work of learning to read?  At age 6 he simply has no idea what he’s missing and how his window to the world will expand exponentially!

God our Father must feel this way about his children all the time!  He sees not only the great potential we have of our own power but the limitless potential we have when we live through Him.   He knows the world will blossom in ways we simply can not imagine when we trust in His ways.  But to do this requires work, it requires obedience and prayer and humility and a desire to serve the will of our father more than our own. It requires perseverance in the face of self-doubt and worldly failure. Sometimes it requires a single-minded focus that is near impossible to come by in a world full of distractions. It requires patience so at odds with the attitude of instant gratification prevalent in American culture.
God is always ready and willing to teach us.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. (Jer 29:11)

I wanted to shout after Andrew and call him back and explain all the wonders awaiting him.  I wanted, somehow, to make him understand.  Even as I write this I’m at a loss.  The impact of knowing how to read is so undefinable.

The same thing can be said of our Loving God.  We can’t begin to define Him or understand all that he has in store for us.  Only through the steady and faithful building of a relationship with Him will our eyes be opened, will our minds be enlightened, will our hearts be filled.  Are we eager and excited to know Him or do we shrug indifferently and run off to carry out our own plans?

Lord, help us tune out the world so we can focus our attention on you, who makes the world blossom in our minds, our hearts and our souls!  Amen