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Posts Tagged ‘love’

 

“After all, our only support, our only strength is God.” Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

“Have confidence in the Providence that so far has never failed us” Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

“But our hope is in the providence of God, which has protected us until the present and which will provide, somehow, for our future needs…” Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

“We had but one dollar remaining…and we did not know where to get a cent for the want of the house. Still, how could I mistrust Divine Providence?” Saint Mother Theodore Guerin

 

 

After eight years of serving the Sisters in the food service department at the Sisters of Providence, I will be leaving. I am moving from Indiana to Georgia in the middle of May. I have written about my frustration at being “stuck” in food service and not being able to realize my dream of working with single moms. God has answered my prayers and I am moving to Georgia to work with a non-profit that serves single moms and their children. I will move in May and am so excited to see what God has in store for me. The move is bitter-sweet. I am leaving behind a community of women that I have grown to love and respect. These women have been my strength when I struggled in my job and personal life. They will never know how much they have taught me about serving God and life. They have taught me many lessons that I will carry with me as I leave the nest:

  1. Community – The Sisters are a community of over 300 women religious. They have been an example of what living in a christian community should look like. They have different personalities and different perspectives, but they respect each other. They listen to each other and they find that common ground that brings them together. They celebrate the good, they mourn the losses, they pray, they worship, they serve…TOGETHER. These women pray for each other, they encourage each other and they support each other through good and bad. No matter where they are serving, they still do life TOGETHER.
  2. Prayer – The Sisters pray continually. They pray through the nightly news. They take turns praying the hour in the Blessed Sacrament chapel, praying for justice in a world of injustice. They meet together to pray, knowing that where two or three are gathered together, God is there in the midst of them. I will forever treasure the memory of seeing two Sisters, who are biological sisters, praying the rosary together in a quiet corner of the convent. Prayer is an integral part of their lives and they model this effortlessly.
  3. Service – Every Sister has a ministry outside of her religious life. Many of the Sisters are now retired educators. They have been teachers, principals, and administrators in all levels of education. There are Sisters that serve in the medical field, in different roles in the Catholic church, empowering the powerless through justice organizations and they serve in other ministries in housing, food distribution, advocating for the poor. They take on whatever ministry God calls them too. They never shrink from a challenge, but embrace the opportunities to minister to all.
  4. Providence – Providence is the foreseeing protective care and the guidance of God. I have learned to trust in a Provident God. I have learned to have faith in a God that has ALL things under control and has access to ALL resources. I am used to hearing the Sisters comment on the providence of God when things come together in supernatural ways. I have learned to open my heart to those instances when circumstances are aligned in ways that only God could have aligned them. I take with me the faith that a Provident God will continue to provide and protect me in miraculous ways as I serve Him and others.
  5. Courage – Saint Mother Theodore Guerin was the epitome of courage. In 1840, she led a group of nuns from France to establish an academy for women in the wilderness of Indiana. She was often ill, but still founded what is now Saint Mary of the Woods College, the oldest Catholic College in Indiana. She is also the founder of the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana. The Sisters of Providence are an order of women religious who have welcomed over 5,000 women as Sisters in the 179 years since their founding. Following the lead of their courageous leader, the Sisters have opened schools, health clinics, food pantries, reunification programs for children in foster care, and a myriad of other programs that address the needs of the poor. I have watched as Sisters courageously battle cancer and other illnesses. I have watched as they have courageously tackled financial struggles and I have watched as they continue to fearlessly face the future.
  6. Love – The Sisters LOVE ALL that walk through their doors. I have felt that love for 8 years, as I have been prayed for, encouraged, shown appreciation for my work, and blessed in so many different ways. The Sisters are an example of God’s love in this world. They truly love those they serve. It isn’t just lip service. When the Sisters say they care, they really do. They welcome strangers into their midst, hoping that the love and peace found at the Woods will be carried in the hearts of those who wander in. No one who encounters a Sister walks away without knowing that they are deeply loved. They don’t care about imperfections and sins of the past. They love simply because God loves. Love is part of their DNA. It is a part of who they are and I have been a blessed recipient of that love.

 

As I face this next chapter of my life, I will remain in community with the Sisters as a Providence Associate. I will continue to join with them in praying for justice where injustice reigns and I know that I carry their prayers with me wherever I go. I will serve where God calls and in Georgia that means that I will be doing what I have dreamed of for thirteen years, serving single moms with a faith based non-profit organization. I will continue to place myself gently in the hands of providence, trusting in a Provident God, who will continue to provide for me as I find resources to provide for other single moms. I will face my future with courage. There are unknowns and obstacles, but I serve a God who is in control of ALL circumstances and I will fearlessly walk forward in faith. I will welcome those around me with the same love that I was welcomed. I will love others despite imperfections and past transgressions. No one is perfect and God loves us ALL.  The Sisters will remain forever in my heart and I will miss their kind words, their laughter and jokes, their good natured teasing of each other and me, and I will miss their patience when I am flustered and stressed. They each go with me as I journey forth. I will never forget the Women of the Woods.

 

To know more about the Sisters of Providence of Saint Mary of the Woods, Indiana visit their website at www.spsmw.org

 

 

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In the wake of the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl, I am reminded of the platform that many athletes and movie stars have to glorify God. The Eagles players and coach have been vocal about giving glory to God for the blessings in their lives. It is easy to use that platform to share your testimony when you have millions of people hanging on your every word, but what if you live an ordinary life? How do you look past the mundane to glorify God in your life? 

I have asked myself that question many times. I have lived my life wishing that I was a famous Christian women’s speaker like Lisa Whelchel or Candace Cameron Bure. I have dreamed of becoming a famous Christian author like Joyce Meyer or Beth Moore. I have written this blog with love and I have patiently waited for it to take off. 5 years later and that has not happened. I have not become the blogger with thousands of followers or the social media success story. I am still the ordinary single mom of 5, working in the food service department of a local convent and living paycheck to paycheck. I live in a lower income neighborhood in a city that Steve Martin once dubbed as, “Nowhere, USA” and a county that not to long ago had the highest poverty rate in Indiana. I live an ordinary life.

So, how do you live to glorify God when you are living an ordinary life?

You:

Pray: You pray for every aspect of your community, from your family to your co-workers, neighbors, strangers who cross your path, and Government/Spiritual leaders. You pray for issues that effect your community from poverty to crime, employment opportunities, homelessness etc. If you pray over every every aspect of your community you will be glorifying God in your every day life.

Love: We are told many times in the Old and New Testaments to love one another. In 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 we find out what love is:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

We are not only to love our family and friends, we are to love strangers, the homeless, and those who appear unlovable. There are many ways to show love: a smile of encouragement, a kind gesture, an act of compassion, standing for justice where injustice reigns, being a voice for the voiceless, etc. There are many ways to show our love, I challenge you to take a look around and see how you can love someone to Jesus.

Serve: Matthew 20:28 tells us that Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. He gives us an example of serving as He washes the disciples feet at the last supper. Everything Jesus did was about serving others: healing the sick, teaching the multitudes, bringing the dead back to life, and casting out demons. We can’t forget the greatest act of service that He performed, giving His life, that we may live. Look around you. How can you step out as an example of Jesus to serve those around you?

Living an ordinary life may not give us the platform for sharing the Gospel that the rich and famous have, but that does not excuse us from doing what we are able to live out the example of Jesus in our own lives. I encourage you to look around and see what ways you can glorify God as you live out your ordinary life.

 

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We have seen pockets of spiritual renewal in the midst of the violence and chaos that has been created by the hate, intolerance and racism. Pockets here and there of goodness, compassion and love. But, is it enough? Are occasional pockets of spiritual oneness enough to be called a spiritual awakening? I don’t think so. It’s a start, but we have a long way to go to get to the place where we have a true spiritual awakening in America. It begins with each one of us examining our hearts and making the decision to live a life that glorifies God and letting go of the things that keep us tied to the world. The Church has become an entertainment industry. In our effort to bring people into the Church, we have become more secular and less like Jesus. We think it is okay to take middle school girls to see vampire movies as a youth event. We think it is okay to have viewing parties to watch the Walking Dead in our churches because we want to reach the unchurched. We forget that it is NOT our job to bring people into the church. It IS our job to live as Jesus lived in our daily lives. It IS our job to build relationships with our friends, family and neighbors; relationships built from love and compassion. It IS our job to allow the Holy Spirit to work through us. We need to allow the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of ALL people. As we reach out in love, the Holy Spirit will bring them into the church. We need to get back to putting Jesus #1 in our lives and leave the rest to God. There are 5 things we can do to bring true spiritual awakening to the United States of America:

  1. Pray: We need to be on our knees on a daily basis praying that God will protect this country. We need to pray that God will place His angels to protect the borders of this country from evil. We need to pray that the plans and plots of the evil one will be revealed, so they can be stopped. We need to pray that God will pour out the Holy Spirit in such abundance that Satan will have no choice but to flee. We need to pray for our Mayors, Governors, Senators, Representatives and even our President. We need to pray for our Pastors, our faith-based leaders, each other and ourselves. We can change things. Satan WILL flee, but we need to pray. Every lasting spiritual awakening starts with the crying out of the Saints in prayer. We need to come together as one and storm the heavens with our prayers. It starts with prayer.
  2. Repent and Transform: As we find ourselves on our knees in prayer, we need to pray that God will reveal the darkness in us that causes the violence and pain and that He will transform our hearts. We need to be willing to repent of our sins and trust that God will bring good out of it. We need to be willing to be transparent with each other and trust that our brothers and sisters in Christ will accept us as we are: sinners redeemed by the blood of Jesus. We are all sinners. We have no right to judge each other. We ALL need to look into the deep recesses of our spirits and repent of the sin that lies there. After we repent, we need to leave the sin behind and transform our lives to glorify God. We need to continue to renew our minds daily through prayer and Bible study. We need to transform our lives so the world will see more of Jesus in how we live our lives then they see of us.
  3. Love: We need to love those around us, even when they seem unlovable. We need to pour out love into our communities instead of hate. We need to open our hearts and eyes to where there is pain and step out in love to be Jesus in a broken world. If we don’t, who will?
  4. Serve: When we start to love the people around us God will reveal areas where we can serve. When we start to serve those in need around us, we build relationships with those who need the healing touch of Jesus and the Holy Spirit will open the doors for us to share our Jesus story. Serving others in love and compassion allows others to see Jesus in us and allows the Holy Spirit to work in their lives. Through our obedience in serving, the Holy Spirit will fill our Churches and revival will come.
  5. Disciple: We need to start discipling new believers. One of the biggest things that is missing in the Church is discipleship. I grew up in the Church. I went to Sunday school. I learned my lessons, but I was never discipled in the Church. There was never anyone that came alongside me to disciple me. No one ever taught me how to be a follower of Jesus. No one taught me how to live this life through the ups and downs. Sunday school is great, but we need to be willing to sacrifice some time to come alongside a new believer for a significant amount of time to disciple them. We need to be willing to teach new believers how to stay connected to the Vine: Jesus. I was finally discipled. I was thirsty for more of Jesus and God sent the Holy Spirit to disciple me. Outside of the Church. I was not finding Jesus in the Church. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Church. I do. That’s why I am so passionate about bringing the Church back to where it needs to be. We need to be more proactive in building discipling relationships and not depend so much on our Sunday schools. We need to be more proactive in turning new believers into mature disciples of Christ.

We can bring spiritual awakening to America. There is hope! God still loves us and we can turn things around. One pocket of spiritual renewal here and another pocket there CAN turn into a National revival and Satan will have no choice but to leave. Never give up hope! With God ALL things ARE possible!

 

 

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providence

 

One week from today, I will begin my journey to becoming a Providence Associate. I actually started this journey 5 years ago, but I still had growing to do. I have always been an introvert. I have always been one to hide behind others. I don’t allow myself to get to close to anyone, because they might see the “real” me and reject me. Any time I start to get to close to a group of people, I panic and run. I have dealt with social anxieties all my life. This journey is going to push me out of my comfort zone. It will cause some discomfort. Growing often causes discomfort. It is going to cause me to open up and really trust people with the secrets of my heart. I am here for a reason. I have to trust the Providence of God.

During these last 5 1/2 years of working with the Sisters, I have felt myself open up and dare to trust. They have loved me through good and bad. They have encouraged me when they knew I was tired or down. They have prayed for me and they have spoken words of wisdom when I needed to hear it. God has used these women numerous times to bring me a sense of peace when life was difficult and I felt like running. I have often felt frustrated at not finding my “purpose” in life. I have struggled at not having a “ministry” when so many others are serving God and others full-time. At times when I have struggled the most, God has brought different sisters to me to tell me that my job there is a ministry, that my ministry is there, that I belong there, that being an associate is in my heart.

The sisters see me and they love me. I do belong at that beautiful place they call “The Woods.” I love them. I love these women and would do anything for them. The thought of being transparent scares me. The thought of being “me” in front of the Sisters and the other associates terrifies me, but I won’t run. God has things to teach me here and I am going to stay put and continue to grow in this place of love. I am ready to be transparent. I am ready to be me. I belong in this place of love, mercy and justice.

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fruits of the spirit

 

 

Galatians 5:22-23

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

 

I will admit that as a mom, I don’t always exhibit the fruits of the spirit in front of my kids. I try, I really do, but sometimes I get impatient and frustrated with the messiness of life. There are moments when the kids are screaming at each other and I am tempted to echo that ancient commercial and yell, “Calgon, take me away!” There are times when I know that they get it and other times when I wonder if they ever will. I know that if I want them to live out the fruits of the spirit in their daily lives, then it has to start with me, as their mom.

It is up to us, as moms, to set the example of the fruits of the spirit. We have to live it out in our daily lives. We are a role model for our children. They look to us and mimic how we act. I don’t want my children to imitate my mistakes, I want them to imitate the characteristics of God that they see in my life. So, how do we teach our children to live as examples of the fruits of the spirit in the world? It starts in how we relate to them.

LOVE: 

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 

JOY: 

Psalm 27:5-7

For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock. Then my head will be exalted above the enemies who surround me; at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy; I will sing and make music to the LordHear my voice when I call,

Lord; be merciful to me and answer me.

Psalm 47:1-3

Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. For the Lord Most High is awesome,  the great King over all the earth. He subdued nations under

us, peoples under our feet.

 PEACE:

Philippians 4:7

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Psalm 4:8

In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lordmake me dwell in safety.

John 14:27

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

PATIENCE:

Romans 8:25

But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

Psalm 40:1

I waited patiently for the Lordhe turned to me and heard my cry.

KINDNESS:

Ephesians 4:32

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Proverbs 11:17

Those who are kind benefit themselves, but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.

GOODNESS:

Romans 12:9

Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good.

Psalm 116:12

What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me?

FAITHFULNESS:

2 Thessalonians 3:3

But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

Proverbs 28:20

A faithful person will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.

GENTLENESS:

Proverbs 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. 

Galatians 6:1

Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.

SELF-CONTROL:

Proverbs 25:28

Like a city whose walls are broken through is a person who lacks self-control.

Proverbs 16:32

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city.

I have given you a couple of verses for each characteristic, but there are many, many more for each one. Read each scripture and reflect on how you can model each characteristic in your life. I encourage you to take each characteristic and make a list of ways that you can model that characteristic to your children and others. I challenge you to look up other verses for each characteristic and compare them to the characteristics you are modeling to your children right now.

No one is perfect. We all mess up. If you mess up, apologize, right the wrong and move on. It is an ongoing process and you won’t always get it right. None of us do. I want you to know, though, that you are not in this alone. There are millions of moms around the world that struggle in their role as a mom, just as you do, just as I do. If you need someone to talk to, I am here. You are not alone, sweet momma! God is with you, each and every day. Trust Him to help you in your role as parent.

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mercy

 

 

 

As an employee of the Sisters of Providence, I have come to respect and embrace their charism of Love, Mercy and Justice. However, I have had a hard time understanding why they oppose the death penalty and care so much for those who have committed such horrible, unthinkable crimes against others. After all, they have to be hardened murderers to be on death row, right? So, why would the Sisters choose to have mercy on and even pray for those on death row?

Every month, the Sisters post the names of those awaiting execution that month, along with the date of the execution. I know they pray for these individuals and for the abolishment of the death penalty itself. I love Jesus and I hate injustice, but I could not understand why they would pray for these horrible criminals. I was talking to a co-worker one night and we were in agreement that these men and women deserved everything they got. We agreed that they should die the way their victims died. NO MERCY!

And then, very softly and with the gentlest whisper in my spirit, I felt Jesus speak to me. This has happened all within the last week or so. Within a day of my conversation with my co-worker, I heard that those inmates that were to be executed by lethal injection had had their executions stayed because the injections were said to be inhumane. My immediate reaction to this news was, “Who cares? They didn’t have any compassion for the ones they murdered.” I still did not understand why society should care about these inmates. How could the Sisters pray for these monsters? How could God have mercy on these inmates? What was wrong with them?

I started reading a book called, Mercy in the City: How to Feed the Hungry, Give Drink to the Thirsty, Visit the Imprisoned, and keep your day job…by Kerry Weber. In it, Kerry describes her visit to San Quinton and the conversations she has with a group of inmates who are participating in theology classes with the Catholic chaplain. In these conversations, the men express their sadness at being judged by their crimes and not for who they are now. They all agreed that they are not their crimes and that if God could save someone like Saint Paul, then maybe there is hope for them. As I read, I felt God asking me, “Who are you to play judge and jury? If I choose to have mercy on the sinner, that includes you too. It was MY decision to send MY Son as a sacrifice to pay for the sins of the ENTIRE human race, not just a chosen few. If they choose me, I will prepare a place for them with me in MY kingdom.”

The question soon became, what is wrong with me? For someone who claims to love Jesus, for someone who hates injustice, why do I have such a hardened spirit when it comes to these men and women who are living in spiritual darkness? If I can’t find mercy in my heart for those on death row, then do I really love Jesus as much as I say I do? That question stung.

I felt immediate remorse for my attitude and the words spoken by Jesus as he hung on the cross burn deeply in my heart, “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

If my beloved Savior, Jesus, could forgive those killing him, even as He hung there wounded and bloody, how can I NOT follow his example and show mercy for those inmates on death row and otherwise. Maybe the Sisters have it right. They must since it seems God is answering their prayers.

I still struggle with this. I feel that I am betraying those that have lost their lives at the hands of these men and women. I have to remember that justice belongs to the Lord. It isn’t up to me.

I have decided that I will join the Sisters in their prayers of mercy and I will pray for those who are unfortunate enough to find themselves on the monthly list of executions. I will join the Sisters in their prayers for an end to the death penalty, thus allowing God to be God.

If you would like more information on the Sisters of Providence, visit their website at http://www.spsmw.org.

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100 posts

I have reached that milestone and celebrate 100 posts and my 1 year anniversary of the birth of this blog. I have always loved to write, but I never could have imagined the joy I would have from this journey. 

3 years ago, I left the church we had attended for 6 years. I had had some doctrinal issues with the leadership and there had been personal attacks made on my family. I have attended various churches these last 3 years, but have not found that church “home” yet. 

In these years, I have still remained close to my Father in heaven. I left the church, I have not left my God. This last year has been a growing experience for me. Through the writing of these posts, I have grown in my knowledge of God and have become a missionary to the online world.

This blog has gone through a metamorphosis in the last year and I now have something that I am proud of. This has become more than just another blog. It has become a ministry for me and I know that God will grow it in His timing, as I continue to be faithful in writing content that can be used to expand the kingdom of God. 

Writing these posts has been healing for me. It has allowed me to focus on God and those in the world who are desperately seeking God and using the internet as a search tool. 

My passion is for all people to know how much God loves them. I am not a Biblical scholar. I am not a well-known ministry leader. I am an ordinary, quiet, plain woman with a love for God. What I write is simple and from my heart. 

I am looking forward to this next year and to see where God will lead in the writing of the next 100 posts. I write for God and I write for you. I am always here for you. Contact me and let me know what is going on in your life and how I can pray for you. You are a miracle, my friend and I look forward to getting to know you. 

God loves you and so do I!

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