Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Summer of Thunderstorms & Holy Hours

This summer has been a season of storms. The month of July and into August brought downpours, hail, strong winds, and the rumbling of thunder that crescendos and shakes the world beneath you. Just two evenings ago, I found myself lost in the grey gloom because we lost electricity due to one such windstorm. There I was lighting candles in the kitchen so I could see and making the house smell very much like a Chapel!

On one such afternoon this summer, I actually found myself sitting in Church, inside the small Eucharistic Chapel, whilst all around me outside I could hear the wind howling and big raindrops plunking on the metal gutters. I sat there with a thousand thoughts, hopes, ideas and ambitions on my mind and an electric energy to pursue them and get things done. (Ha! This is usually how I come into the Chapel to pray.) I have so much vigor to accomplish the next thing on today’s list!

So I come to church, panting, as you will, barely able to catch my breath because I’m so worked up in my cares. Then I sit here and realize I can breathe! Breathe again! Take a breath; let it go; let it all go; stop being anxious or racing around in a hundred directions. Just stop and let God take those cares and hold them for me.

Phew! Let God breathe fresh air into me and give me a steady heartbeat. It makes me start to wonder. What is truly important? What am I striving to control that makes it so hard to let go of my pride and just be content? Why am I trying to manage the universe in my head?!

The mind of God is infinitely bigger than my own. Funny how I forget this.

Just like in a storm, when power pushes the stop mode on me, the verse “Be still and know that I am God,” (Psalm 46:11) came to me in the Chapel.

“Be still and know.” Know that I am only woman, humanity imprinted with His image, no more and no less. Know my place – a human destined for eternal glory. Know that I am weak and He is strong. Know that He loves me. Know that He died for me. Know that He also rose for me.

“Be still.” Stop chasing after my cares and worries, doing this, that, and the other thing, running here, running there. Be still so God can find me. Be still so He can sit with me. Be still so He can love me, right here, now.

“Be.” The rain is pounding down on the roof, overflowing the gutters, trickling down the eaves, swelling in the puddles, and I am held in here, safe and dry. Be thankful! Be fully alive! Be vulnerable. Be me!

Sometimes, God has to stop us, to slow us down with a thunderstorm. Are you going through a storm in your life? Somedays, it’s the only way He can “catch” us. He tries so hard to get our attention, not out of force but out of love. God is desperate to love you and me. What better place to exchange glances of love than here in the Chapel?

“God is our refuge and our strength,
an ever-present help in distress.
Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken
and mountains quake to the depths of the sea,
Though its waters rage and foam
and mountains totter at its surging.
The Lord of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.

"Come and see the works of the Lord,
who has done fearsome deeds on earth;
Who stops wars to the ends of the earth,
breaks the bow, splinters the spear,
and burns the shields with fire;
Who says:
“Be still and confess that I am God!
I am exalted among all the nations,
Exalted on the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us;
our stronghold is the God of Jacob.”
from Psalm 46

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Writer's Dream Comes True!

“If you follow your dreams, the money will come. Follow the money, and you’ll lose your dreams.” Michael Collopy

Friday was cleaning day. I vacuumed and dusted every room, corner and shelf. On Friday, temperatures were in the mid 90s, coupled with high humidity. It wasn’t hard to work up a sweat in the mugginess, but I was determined to clean the house thoroughly, and I did!

I opened the front door to attack the dirt between the doors, when to my surprise I heard a package bang against the other door. A package for me? It had my name on it from a printing house. I didn’t know what it could it be!

I dropped the vacuum cleaner and rushed to open it (secretly thankful for the respite from work!). There before me were three author’s copies of Faith & Family magazine!

When I found my name on the inside list of “Contributing Writers,” my heart leapt within me! Though small, my entertainment review in the Fall issue was my first baby step into Faith & Family magazine. I have been basking in joy ever since because of my dream-come-true to be published in Faith & Family, my favorite magazine of all time! To see my name in print next to other writers I’ve always admired and with my music review of Seasons is the best gift anyone could ask for! Those copies of the magazine on my doorstep were a gift, truly heaven sent.

This past week has been disappointing as I lost a job I had applied for and was hoping to pursue. In the midst of discouragement and anxiety, God answers me with blessings. I am constantly astonished to find my dreams coming true, day by day, sneaking up on me and surprising me! It is a reassurance that I am in the right place at the right time.

Even so, the temptation is there to be lost in the busyness and business of life and thereby miss out on being thankful. I regret to say how easy it can be to take our blessings for granted, because I get caught up in thinking “but it isn’t enough.” For some reason, we think we’d be happier with more work, more money, more make-up, more haircuts, more anything. There always will be more. Yet maybe it’s not so bad “to do with less” than “to want with more.”

It’s a lesson in gratitude. Thank you, God. What have I to fear? That You won’t continue to make a way for me?

“Oh ye of little faith, why did you doubt?” ~ Jesus