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Archive for the ‘Becoming A Providence Associate’ Category

 

I love this picture of myself and my companion, Sister Kay. I am honored that this is the picture on the Associate poster with the caption: stronger together. As Sister Kay and I have walked through the 6 integration units together, I have learned so much about myself, the Sisters, and providence. We have become friends and I cherish the time we have spent together.

Stronger together. As the Sisters grow older and gradually come home to “The Woods,” we, as associates, have the job of being providence in the world around us. It is our job to live out the charism of the Sisters of Providence by bringing love, mercy and justice into our sphere of influence. We can not do it alone. We need the support, prayers, encouragement and love of the Sisters to keep us going. We need to come back to the motherhouse to connect and strengthen each other so that we all may have the courage to continue the journey that our dear Saint Mother Theodore started those many many years ago. We need each other. I am blessed to be included in this community of Sisters and associates. I am excited to see where this journey will lead. I am somewhat anxious as I step out of my comfort zone, but I will eagerly embrace the challenge, as I walk arm in arm with the Sisters and fellow associates. We are indeed, stronger together.

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Deep within us

Is the power to change our lives

Heal the broken

Loose the bound

Live welcoming to all

(author unknown)

The congregation logo for the Sisters of Providence is, “Breaking boundaries, creating hope.” Throughout His ministry, Jesus was about the business of breaking boundaries and creating hope in the lives of the hopeless and oppressed all around Him. The above poem is a beautiful representation of how Jesus lived those last years in His ministry. He broke the boundaries of what was culturally correct in His day to create hope for those who so desperately needed hope in their lives.

What is hope? 

Instead of giving you the standard dictionary definition, I am going to give you my definition.

Hope is the unwavering certainty that no matter what chaos is playing itself out in the world or in our own personal circumstances, God is at work in the midst of it. He is in control and there is nothing and no one that can stand between us and His will for us. He works for the good of those who love Him and He always will. 

There are so many people who live without hope in their lives. They don’t know the hope that a relationship with Jesus brings. How can we bring hope to those that we come across on a daily basis?

Luke 19:10 tells us that the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost. This was the basis for His ministry. Jesus did that through healing the broken, loosing the bound, and welcoming the poor in spirit. This unit challenged me to think of life as ministry. I was challenged to open my eyes and my heart to the ministry opportunities in my daily life. Life is a ministry. A wise Sister told me a few months ago that my job in the food service dept. with the Sisters of Providence was a ministry. She wanted me to see that I make a difference in the lives of the Sisters and their guests simply by my willingness to be present. It has not been easy for me to see my job as a ministry. In my mind I didn’t see ministry as serving these women of God who do so much to serve others. because of the words of this wise Sister, I have started to see that my presence, my smile (even when I’m tired), my prayers, are indeed a ministry and I can think of no better way to serve these beautiful women. I have spent so much time frustrated because God would not place me in a “full-time ministry” position, when I have been in one all along.

When we open our hearts and our eyes to the pain in the world around us, God will give us opportunities to heal the broken, loose the bound and welcome the poor in spirit. I have found my ministry. I am to stand with the Sisters, fight injustice, love my neighbor and have mercy on all. I am to live as Jesus lived: life as ministry.

 

 

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Relationships can be hard. They cause you to be vulnerable. They cause you to trust that someone else will accept you imperfections and all. That they will be there, even when you blow it big time. That they will forgive you when you cause them pain. Relationships cause you to forgive when that someone else hurts you. Relationships cause you to open up your heart to the best and the worst in someone else and know that the relationship can withstand the tests of time. Relationships are not easy for me. I usually run before I can get to close. Other than my kids, grandkids, ex-husband and his wife, I have no other close relationships. I have no close friends, because I am afraid of opening myself up to that level of vulnerability. I am afraid of being judged. I am afraid of being rejected. I am afraid of being abandoned.

God is calling me into deeper relationship with the Sisters of Providence. I have tried to run from this relationship in the past, but God keeps me here. I have so much to learn from the Sisters and I have so much to give.

I do not make commitments lightly. For me, a commitment is a dedication of oneself to someone, a community or a cause. Honestly, I have made commitments and have backed out because of my fear of failure. I have made commitments and then have run because those commitments involve relationships.

In this process of becoming a Providence Associate, God is molding me and shaping me into something beautiful. It is sometimes painful though. During my time with God this morning, He spoke these words to my spirit, “Until you are fully committed, I cannot use you here.” These words broke me. To know that I am standing in the way of God using me fully breaks my heart. I have fought for so long to be away from this place that is called Terre Haute that it has become second nature. The grass is always greener in another city, or another place. God cannot use me until I become fully committed to being here in Terre Haute and to the Sisters of Providence. God also spoke to me through my daily Bible reading; Proverbs 12:11 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies have no sense. There are times in our lives when God has to be real with us or we may never get it.

The questions I have to ask myself are: am I ready to fully commit myself to the Sisters of Providence as an Associate? Am I ready to fully open myself up to that vulnerability that comes with building close relationships? Am I ready to open up my heart and share myself, imperfections and all with these Sisters that I love? Am I ready to trust them with my heart?

YES! I am ready! Every day is a challenge. There are times when I feel that I have shared to much and I want to run. There are times when I don’t get the reaction that I was looking for and I take it as rejection, so I want to run. My challenge is to allow those times to draw me closer to the ONE who loves me UNCONDITIONALLY and allow Him to mold me as I learn to be vulnerable.

There was one other impression that God implanted on my spirit today. God wants me to quit trying to plan my life around the needs of other people or my need to want to be around certain people in my life. I am to put HIM first. I have to be fully committed to God first. I am guilty of this. Unintentionally, I have tried to shove God into my need to be closer to so and so. It doesn’t work that way. I have to be fully present and fully committed to God and what is in my life right now. I have to stop trying to run away and focus on those who are in my life right now. Okay, I’m listening God.

I am excited and scared to see what is around the corner as I fully commit myself to God and as I fully commit myself to this relationship with the Sisters of Providence. But, I am ready. The Sisters have opened up their hearts and their community to me and I am ready to trust them with who I am.

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spritual-practices

 

Spiritual practices, spiritual disciplines, and Christian principles are all different names for the things we do to have a relationship with God and grow in our Christian walk. We each should have those practices that we do alone and then the practices we do as a community of believers. Practices are not meant to be legalistic things that we HAVE to do to be right with God. Some of them are things that God does require, but He wants us to enjoy spending time with Him in worship and prayer. God wants us to enjoy our relationship with Him.

My personal practices are: Prayer, Bible study (just started using the Lectio Divina for this), Fasting (from technology one day a week), giving as God leads, Serving as God leads, disciple-making, worshipping God in my daily life, along with a few others I practice as the Holy Spirit leads.

In a corporate setting, I practice: Worship of God as creator and my Holy Father, prayer, serving, and a few others as the Holy Spirit leads.

The one practice that I learned from this unit was the Lectio Divina. I had heard of this practice, but as with many Catholic practices, I assumed it was some really complicated practice that I would never be able to understand as a non-Catholic. I was amazed at how simple it was to do and what an impact it has had on my christian walk, already. The Associate handbook describes it as the “prayer of the heart.” I wanted to include a simple summary of the steps here, because I have really enjoyed the practice in my private devotional time.

Step 1: Reading: Take a simple passage from your daily reading that really spoke to you. Just a verse or two that you want to delve into further. What is the context of the passages you have chosen? What is going on in these passages?

Step 2: Meditation: Take the time to meditate on the passage. What is God saying to you through the passage? Is God trying to reveal something to you in this passage? Is God telling you to implement a part of the passage into your everyday life? How will you do that?

Step 3: Prayer: Pray about what the passage is saying to you. Talk to God about any emotions you may feel about the passage or what you are feeling led to do. Don’t hold anything back. Tell God everything that is on your heart.

Step 4: Action: What action do you need to take? How is the Holy Spirit leading you to act on the passage you have read?

I encourage you to research the Lectio Divina for yourself and see if it is a practice you want to implement in your life. There are many books and websites on spiritual practices. I challenge you to do some research and see which practices God is leading you to implement in your daily life. Remember: practices are not supposed to be legalistic, but a way to enjoy our relationship with God. If a practice becomes forced, then something is not right and you need to pray for a solution. I have changed my prayer practices many times. I want my prayer life to be a way for me to connect deeply with God. When I feel that something is being forced, I change it.

The two main practices that ALL christians should put into practice are prayer and Bible study. If you are a new Christian then focus on these two practices for now. The main thing is to enjoy your relationship with God. Finding ways to connect on a deeper level to the ONE who created us. If you need guidance or prayer, I am just an email away. Be blessed, my friends!

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spirituality

 

I have been blessed in that my image of God has never been impacted by the circumstances of my life. I have never seen God as anything other than loving, compassionate, wise, protective, and as my provider. I have never blamed God for any negative situations in my life and I never felt that He abandoned me. Yes, there have been times when I felt disconnected, but I knew that was on me. God didn’t move away from me. I moved away from Him.

Our image of God is often impacted by our relationship with our earthly parents, our circumstances in life, and/or any traumatic events that we may experience. When something bad happens, we question God. Why wasn’t God there? Is He really in control? Why would a loving God let such a thing happen? God gives us free will. It is up to us whether we use that free will for the good or bad. Some of us will give in to the lies of satan and will choose to walk in sin, doing evil to those around us. When people do evil things, God is still there. He is still there to help us pick up the pieces. He is still there to grieve with us. If we did not have free will, we would be puppets, living at the whim of the puppet master. God often uses evil to bring about blessings to the world. He loves us and walks through EVERY experience with us. He has not left us or abandoned us. He waits for us to call to Him in the chaos.

If you have survived through an act of evil, are living through oppression, or are dealing with a person that is hard to deal with, I urge you to call out to Him who wants to help you. Don’t try to deal with your circumstances on your own. God is there in the midst of the struggle and He is waiting for you to call on Him for help. Don’t wait! Allow Him to heal the scars of the past and the open wounds of the present so that they don’t carry over into the future. Don’t allow the people in your life or the circumstances in your life to impact how you see God. God is good. God is love. Always. And He will never change.

 

 

 

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love-mercy-justice                            pray-love-serve

Definition of Charism according to Merriam – Webster:

An extraordinary power (as of healing) given a Christian by the Holy Spirit for the good of the church

The Charism of the Sisters of Providence is Love, Mercy, Justice. They live that out through ministries in different parts of the U.S. and Taiwan. Love, Mercy and Justice is part of everything they are involved in. It is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to the Sisters for the good of the church and the world.

I had to think of what my personal charism could be. I found it in the tag line of this blog. Pray, Love, Serve. This is me. This is who I am. This is the gift of the Holy Spirit to me for the good of the church. This is my gift to the world. When I link my personal charism to the charism of the Sisters, it becomes a unique gift from me to the church. It becomes a unique gift from me to the world in which I live.

As I was going through this unit in my Associate handbook, this passage caught my eye:

And we know too that the acceptance of grace itself is a gift, enabling all who receive it with open hearts, hands and minds to partake in the very life of God.

WOW! I found it hard to wrap my head around the concept that I can partake in the very life of God. According to dictionary.com the definition of grace is:

The freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. 

The acceptance of grace is accepting the freely given, unmerited favor and love of God. I do not deserve God’s love, but He loves me anyway. I do not deserve His favor and blessing, but He gives it anyway. Will I accept His grace in order to partake in the very life of God? Absolutely!!! The idea that the God of the universe is extending an invitation to ME to live life with Him is mind blowing. He is inviting me to partner with Him in His mission to the world. What exactly does that look like for someone like me?

That brings me to another passage that really spoke to me:

From this common understanding of mission comes our common call: to be Providence in the world today.

To be Providence in the world. What does that look like? How can this 46 year-old single mom with anxiety issues be Providence in the world? I keep going back to what a sister told me, “this is your ministry.” She knew that I needed a ministry and was reminding me that my job in the food service dept. IS a ministry. Initially, it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. A ministry is feeding the hungry, fighting for the oppressed, being a voice for the voiceless, or showing love, mercy and justice to the sisters who have given their lives showing love, mercy and justice to those who need it the most. In the months since this interaction, I have reflected on her words and she is right. Serving the sisters IS a ministry. The sisters are human, they deal with discouragement, pain and sadness just the same as we all do. Being able to pray with and for the sisters is a ministry. Feeding the sisters and their guests is a ministry. Joining with them in their cause is a ministry. Maybe I’ve been looking at it all wrong. Maybe I’ve had the wrong perspective. My job in food services can be stressful and overwhelming. It isn’t what I thought ministry looked like, but maybe it is. Maybe instead of hating it and fighting against it, I need to love the fact that I get to do something for the sisters who do so much for other people. I need to do it for God.

My challenge is to look at it as a ministry and not just a job. I need to see it as a service to the sisters, even on bad days when I am ready to run for the door. I need to change my perspective. I never tire of showing the sisters how much I respect them and love them, so I need to hang on to that, when the job itself becomes almost too much to deal with.

Using my personal charism of pray, love, serve and joining it with love, mercy and justice in serving the sisters is my ministry for now. This is how I get to Be Providence in the world and I am okay with that.

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prayer

 

I have been contemplating the role of prayer in my life. What is prayer and why is it so important to our christian walk?

What draws me into prayer?

A need and a wanting to be closer to God. I want to share every moment of my day with my heavenly Father and I want to hear what He has to say. My desire is to be in continual prayer throughout the day, so I am always near to God and prepared for whatever may happen, be it good or bad. My desire is to abide deeply with God, with Jesus and with the Holy Spirit. I want to have the same relationship with God that George Mueller had. God worked through George Mueller to transform the lives of thousands of orphans. God could not have used Mr. Mueller to that level without Mr. Mueller being intentional in his prayer life and his christian walk.

Prayer is such an important part of having that deep abiding relationship with God. It is partnering with God in His will on this earth. He allows us to partner with Him to make sure His will is done on this earth. He loves us that much. How do we have that kind of prayer life? My prayer life is always a work in progress. I am always making adjustments. There are a couple of changes I want to make because of this unit on prayer and I want the year 2017 to be a year of focused prayer. The changes I will make are:

Add:

Centering Prayer – a quiet prayer time to really hear what God is saying.

The Daily Examen – An Ignatian practice to prayerfully examen the day’s activities and look for ways in which God has spoken to us or convicted us of sin.

Prayer Journaling – A way to pour out our hearts to God. It is often easier to write out our prayers. Journaling is a good way to empty ourselves, letting go of everything we need God to know.

Praying Scripture – Using scripture as prayers. Praying God’s Word back to Him can be effective.

Holy Spirit Led Prayer – Praying as the Holy Spirit leads rather than using legalistic lists.

Delete:

Prayer Lists – They feel legalistic and make me feel disconnected, rather than connected.

I also, want to pray as George Mueller prayed. Never making an appeal for finances etc. instead making his needs known to God and God alone and trusting in a Provident God to provide. God always met their needs. Depending on God and not man to meet our needs has to deepen our faith. Trusting God alone to meet my needs is going to push me to deeper levels in my relationship with my Provident God. I have a feeling it may push me out of my comfort zone as well. I have a feeling God is up to something and when I partner with Him in prayer, the heavens are going to break open and His abundant grace and favor are going to rain down like a Spring rain, giving life in the wilderness. I can’t wait!!!

 

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