26 May 2017

3 Myths About Catholics & Divorce

Life doesn't always go the way we plan.

Sometimes our greatest dreams do not turn out the way we hoped.

Case in point, the title of this blog post. 

Going through a divorce and receiving an annulment have taught me more about myself, relationships, and life than I ever thought. Like x100.

Yes God hates divorce, but He does not hate divorced people.

I believe He can even use the ending of marriage to bring about a greater good. 
How? Because I see it playing out in my own life.

I hope my experience can be an encouragement to someone else who is on a similar journey.


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24 May 2017

Prayer That Keeps Me Honest & Humble

Over Lent, I went on retreat for 5 days of silence. I equally loved and hated it.

One of the things that kept coming up for me was how controlling I can be with God in our relationship sometimes. It is such a normal reaction, attitude for me that I don't always see when I am doing it.

In life, I generally like to take charge and get stuff done. Less talking and more doing. It is constant struggle to not live in the mindless busy but stay rooted in silence.

Since my retreat, I have been ending my day in with a particular type of prayer. The kind where you have to face yourself and not avoid the uncomfortable stuff you'd rather ignore...which is helping me become a little more humble and honest with myself.

I am talking about The Examen Prayer

Approximately 500 years ago, Saint Ignatius of Loyola developed this daily way of praying that invited people to examine their daily lives so they could better serve God and be aware of His presence in their daily lives. 

It is a spiritual tool that teaches you to look for God in daily life. Personally, I find it helps me stay spiritually aware.

The steps are very simple:

  1. Transition: Become aware of the love with which God looks upon me as I begin my examen.
  2. Gratitude: Note the gifts of God's love given to me the past day...count your grateful's and thank God for them.
  3. Petition: Pray for insight and strength that this examen will be a work of grace, fruitful beyond my human ability.
  4. Review: Walk through your past day with God. Look for stirrings in your heart and thoughts God has given you. Look also for those that have not been of God. Review your choices and responses to both, and throughout the day in general.
  5. Forgiveness: Face your shortcomings of the day and ask God's forgiveness.
  6. Renewal: Look toward the following day, and with God, plan concretely how to live it in accord with God's desire for my life.

The priest who led me on retreat also encouraged me to begin praying the examen daily in the evening. However, he challenged me to add one more piece to the part where I review my day with God. 

Ask the Lord sincerely and sit with this question, "Where have I been controlling with God today?"

BOOM. drop the mic.

Sitting with that question every night (okay almost every night ;) is opening my eyes and helping me be more honest with myself and God. 

And this concept keeps coming up for me in lots of different ways. 

God just keeps reminding my control-freak-of-a-heart that if I try and control and manipulate my life, I will never be truly happy, that I will never be at peace.

I used to think prayer was about the right words or having it together to come into the presence of God. But that is not what prayer is at all.

Prayer is just being honest with God. And the more I do this in my own relationship with God, the more I see Him gently softening those rough edges of my heart and attitude.

What helps you stay honest and humble in prayer, your relationship with God? I'm curious what helps and works for other folks :)

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15 May 2017

Reclaiming Daughter-ness

Last fall, my friend Sarah and I were catching up over coffee and she started telling me about Shauna Niequist's newest book she recently read that was quickly being recommended to everyone she knew.

So naturally next pay day, I used some of my monthly chump change to buy it.

I read and savored it up. Every last word.

This past week I re-read it again. In one particular chapter, something struck me I hadn't noticed from the first time.

Shauna was talking about how in this season of life she is relearning her own daughter-ness; she's re-claiming something over the years that got lost and misplaced.

I have been thinking about that a lot over the last week.

Growing up in church, there were a lot of things I heard with my ears but never translated to my heart.

Jesus loves me.
You are a daughter of the King.
You were created for a life that no one else can fulfill.

Stuff-ish like that.

Honestly I heard it a lot. 

Some of it felt reallyyy cheesy. Some I didn't believe for years because of my own brokenness and wounds. 
Eternal truths that never register in our heart will never change us the way God desires.

I had many good people in my life and church community remind me of these truths. But that 18 inch journey between the head and heart sometimes is the hardest journey we'll ever embark on.

I am 31 years old. And for the first time in my life, I am really reclaiming my own daughter-ness.

Not in some happy-clappy Jesus or cheesy kinda way that's loud or obnoxious. Even though I can be kinda loud sometimes. #asktheyouthgroup
But in the that in changes the way you look and talk to yourself, the way you look at other people. The way I just feel in my own skin...its just different.

Those 18 inches between my head and my heart are more unified and whole than they have ever been in my life.

Maybe its all the kick a$@ counseling I have been going too (Mary, you can never retire! ;). Maybe its because I've worked hard on issues and wounds I dragged into a marriage that didn't last. 
Maybe its because I've really processed and healed from my divorce and not seeking a relationship as an emotional band aid. Maybe its because this season I feel so connected, deeply rooted emotionally 
and spiritually.
Honestly its a cocktail blend of all of them.

When I was still married, one of the things my counselor taught me to help me get through the day was choose certain truths to say out loud to myself every day. Being the control freak I can be, I took it a step further. #naturally

I set 3 timers on my phone throughout the day to go off. When they did, I stopped and repeated two things.

First, the Serenity Prayer.

And second, my own: "Jesus help me to see and love myself the way You do. I am a beautiful, strong, courageous woman and I am taking back my power to be emotionally and spiritually healthy."
Those words began to take root in me, and as I really prayed sat with them, I felt my tangled spirit slowly begin to untangle.

I have lived the majority of the first half of my life not knowing my daughter-ness before God.

But the second half of life is going to be much different because I know to my core my own daughter-ness, my place in the family of God.

And that is the best possible place to be and live in.

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03 May 2017

Politically Frustrated (and Homeless)

We live in very interesting times culturally and politically in our country.

It can be so easy to get worked up over articles and Facebook postings (myself included). 
Sometimes on the interwebs things feel as rough as they did before the 2016 election...and that was before President Trump had control of the POTUS Twitter account. #pleasesomeonetakeitaway

But I was really disappointed at the end of last week as I started reading a lot on how officially the Democratic National Committee has stated they will only support pro-choice Democrats.

Cardinal Dolan who is currently the chair of the USCCB's Committee on Pro-Life Activities came out and strongly called them out on such intolerance. Anybody else feel like he reminds you of a jolly, smiley Santa Claus? 

Just me? Okay. :)

Sure it has been widely known for awhile that overall as a whole the Democratic party has led with a pro-choice card. But after the election, I guess it strikes me that they are coming out so guns blazing on such a critical life issue.

So what's a Catholic Christian supposed to do politically these days?

Anybody else feel politically homeless, or is it just me?

It is getting more tricky and difficult. I have a much harder time feeling good about the GOP. When Donald Trump is the best we've got that is kinda scary to me.

At the same time, I hate how boldly intolerant the Democratic Party is acting. 
I believe in supporting both an unborn baby and the mother, both lives have equal worth and value. 
Abortion is not good for anyone.

In a world where tolerance has basically become the 10th Commandment, Democrats are saying pro-life people are not welcomed and will not be supported as candidates on the Democratic ticket. 

It makes me wonder could this totally backfire on them? 
Could this draw more folks to the GOP?

I don't know and suppose only time will tell.

So what do YOU do?

I try to remind myself its always better to shut up and not lead with the reactionary (still working on that piece).

I make an effort to read and listen to people on both sides of the aisle.

I try to value honest, respectful dialogue over just being right.

I am grateful for lots of writings and documents of the Catholic Church that offer me some sanity in well balanced perspective on social teaching, morality, and ethics.

And at the end of the day, I remind myself I will never first identify with an ideology or political party. But rather my primary identification is striving to follow Jesus Christ in all aspects of my life. 
I don't do it perfectly and have a ways to go (just ask my family). 

But I ardently desire that identification to be the leaven in how I live my life, treat others, and do ministry.

Hopefully that is all our goal.

How do you wrestle through all this stuff with culture and politics in one hand and your faith in the other?

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