Last Friday I had lunch with my favorite professor from graduate school. Her classes were always the ones I learned a lot and was most challenged. She has become kind of a mentor to me and has stretched my faith in many different ways. She taught me how to wrestle with ideas and ask hard questions, you know the good kind that make you think.
Towards the end of our lunch meeting (our seminary has the BEST food!), she asked me what were my hopes and dreams for the next 5, 10 years. I told her: write a book, new opportunities in ministry, remarriage at some point, devote energy to causes I am passionate about, etc.
She just smiled at me and said, "Well Patty, don't be surprised if God wants to use all you've been through in each of those area's.
Over the weekend, I received a letter I have been waiting for. It was from our diocesan tribunal with an affirmative decision in regards to my marriage, meaning the annulment went through. No its not a "Catholic divorce" rather an investigation has shown it was never a sacramental marriage to begin with for many reasons.
I found myself going back to my professor's words over the lunch table on Friday as I re-read the letter, so grateful and relieved to finally close the chapter on that relationship.
Sometimes in Scripture childbirth is used as a metaphor for the suffering of God's people as they await delivery in hope. Trials and persecutions are spoken in terms of labor. The point of these analogies is that these sufferings result in new life being born from the old.
Labor from what I hear from my married friends is a lot of mental and physical suffering. But at the end, you have this beautiful, soft, cozy little one to snuggle with and love on.
Jesus never promised us ease or comfort. He told us life would be hard and that we would encounter and face suffering, of all kinds. But suffering is like the seasons, it is temporary...just like the labor of a Momma fiercely working to bring her baby into the world. Labor won't last forever, it is just for a time.
The temporary suffering will at some point give way to new life and joy. Like a woman in labor, birth pangs happen so new life can be birthed into existence.
Life is constant journey of birth, death, labor, and new beginnings. We all will experience them throughout our life, some easier and some much more painful than others.
New life always is born from the old life. New life comes out of the suffering and pain.
New life always comes out of our labor; whether physical, emotional, or spiritual.
Sometimes things have to die so that something stronger can be built.
I am not entirely sure yet what will be built stronger in me as a result of all of this.
But it is exciting to imagine and dream about.
I don't know what will be born in me from the last three years of my life, but I do know one of God's favorite acts is to take broken things and make them new again.
And I cannot wait to see how that unfolds in these new beginnings...
The week of Christmas and right after leading to New Year's is one of my most favorite times of the year. Extra vacation time plus holiday spirit are the best combination.
This year I was really looking forward to ringing in the New Year with a young adult conference, One Thing.
2016 has been a rough, messy, beautiful, growing year. While I can be grateful for what I am learning and how I've grown, it still has been a lot to absorb. And with all that has happened, praying my way into the New Year seemed the perfect note to end 2016 on.
My two girlfriends and I were attending a Catholic Ecumenical track of an evangelical conference associated with the International House of Prayer. I was excited but not sure what to expect.
The best way to describe it for me was a sacred disruption.
The first night we arrived we went to an opening talk and one of the speakers said something to the effect of being willing to be inconvenienced for Jesus. Something in that struck a deep chord with me. And as the conference progressed, that became the prayer on constant repeat in my mind, "Jesus I am willing to inconvenienced for you and your people for the rest of my life."
I didn't understand what exactly I meant, I just knew I really, really meant it deep down.
Several people shared and prayed prophetic words over my life. The times of corporate worship and praise were sacred and beautiful, a sneak peek into the throne room of Heaven. I loved the ecumenical spirit and sense of openness to Christians of other denominations. I loved learning the spiritual practice of antiphonal singing; a way of prayerfully singing and praying out Scripture (which is the way worship is led 24/7 in the prayer room).
All through the conference I would constantly pray that prayer in my heart.
Over the conference I met new people and heard a lot of talk on signs/wonder, healing, and prophetic gifts; both from Catholic and Protestant voices. I have always believed God still does miracles and heals people today.
But I never believed or understood that God wants to use me to do those things in the world today.
God wants to use Patty to spiritually and physically heal people. He wants to use me to do signs, wonders, and use prophetic gifts. God wants me to do those things in His world today.
As baptized Christians, those spiritual gifts are our birth right. The same authority Jesus gave the original 12 to do those things He gave to us.
That rocked me a lot. It might not sound a lot, and maybe I heard it before. But I never heard that with my heart. This was different.
Something feels different on the inside of me...and its kinda hard to explain.
No it is not emotionalism. It is not the conference or retreat high I always warn teenagers about when coming back from a great spiritual thing.
It is a sacred disruption.
I am still praying that prayer from the conference. I am constantly asking God to "pour out the prophetic gifts on me"... even though I don't fully understand what I am asking for yet.
But what I do know when we ask for more of God, that is a prayer He always will answer and bless...the rest is listening and see what the answer is.