The Whirlwind

One day I was sitting alone, working to pull out some kind of sentiment toward God. You know, trying to pray. Not the easiest thing to do when you are like a piece of bread left on the counter for the length of Advent.

So there I was, dry as toast. The entire Hallelujah Chorus could have been playing and my reaction would have been the same— comatose.

But heaven must have had a leak because, all of a sudden, I felt something!!! No kidding, my heart lit up and I was just like a moth in the wind, ready to get sucked up into the midst of some cosmic conversation. (I exaggerate here. My life is not nearly as exciting as a moth, but you get the drift.)

Anyway, I hovered in midair and paid very close attention, waiting for something to happen.  And lo and behold, just like the dew on the morning grass, there it was!

“Well, what in the world was it?” you probably want to ask.

Well, steady yourself. Take a deep breath. Exhale slowly: I could almost see Jesus talking to his Father, and his Father talking to him! I know, it was that good!

Now before you get carried away and think I’m some kind of mystic or something, let me clarify. I didn’t actually hear anything. But I was just on the edge of it, close enough to know that there was a really big wind blowing and, if I was positioned just right under the mercy spout, I might be able to catch it. And if I didn’t catch it, that would be okay too. Because to tell you the truth, I was happy as a lark just to know that it was going on—like when I was a little girl lying in bed, listening to my parents talking in the next room. I didn’t have a clue as to what they were saying, but I could tell by the sound of their voices that they loved each other, that they were working together, and that they were planning things for our little family. I loved that.

The amazing thing is that, as a mere moth listening in on Jesus and our Father, I felt the same way—comforted and loved as if I really belonged there with themAs a matter of fact, I felt so loved that I started to believe that something great might happen to me too. I thought that I might even get caught up into the glory of God, just like Elijah whirling away in his flaming chariot.

That didn’t happen, of course.

Or maybe it did. For one brief moment of time, I think I was caught up into the whirlwind. Even if it was just in my imagination.Go to this link

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Antsy at Adoration?

Do you ever sit before the Blessed Sacrament and feel as if you want to eject from your seat? I mean, literally for me sometimes, it’s as if I have the engines of a 747 inside me, all revved up, ready for blast-off. I’m not going anywhere, just flying in place at supersonic speed with my insides exploding like shooting stars. There. That was subtle.

The way this is starting out you might not think I want to sit in a dimly lit church in absolute silence with nothing going on. I do. I just don’t want to be the only one there even if I am. I want to have a two-way conversation and not with myself.  But here’s the problem. I say “Okay God, I’m listening. Is there anything you want to tell me? I’m all ears. Hello. Anybody home?”

And that’s as far as it goes. No inspiring words. No uplifting thoughts or pictures in my mind. I’m in a cave with a burned out light bulb; the steady drip of a melting stalactite is plopping onto my head (hey, you got to do something to make it interesting).

God isn’t talking today (He’s probably online with one of my friends). But He does send me some company. This one’s very heartfelt. I can tell the way he throws himself prostrate (not to be confused with prostate, which I am lucky enough not to have) onto the hard floor. He kneels, arms outstretched like Moses. His lips are moving. Heartfelt cries, like the cooing of a dove, break the silence. He must be having a heavenly visitation with quite possibly all the angels and saints and of course, God Himself right there.

This gives me hope. I should try again. “It’s me again. I’m going crazy here. I’d kneel to get your attention but I broke my kneecap; I’d throw my arms out but I’m afraid they’d lock up.” Okay, it doesn’t have to be audible. Maybe there’s a message for me in this book… Nope, that ain’t it. I rock back and forth (carefully because of my sacroiliac joint). I fidget. Scratch my head. Yawn. Another three minutes and I’m close to letting loose an ear splitter. (I’m not sure if this would make me feel better. I’m sure it would do no good for anyone else—including Moses. But I’ve seen some pretty distracting behavior i.e. just mentioned, going on in church which I mostly try not to notice. Mostly.)

I realize there might be a good reason for me going through this. I could be missing the adorer’s gene. Or God doesn’t like me (just kidding).

So why do I sign up for week after week of total tedium?

Well, you might think I’m presumptuous. You might think I’m fooling myself. But here’s the real reason I sit there bored out of my mind.

I think Jesus is so good that He’s pleased with anyone who shows up.

Even me.

 

 

Between A Rock And A Hard Place

Have you ever felt as if: (Multiple choice)

  • You were caught in the middle? (i.e. your husband and your son are both accusing you of favoring the other.)
  • No matter which way you turn, you hit a wall? (i.e. your car is rolling down the driveway toward your garage door and you are in a heated argument with your husband. The last word or the door—which is it?)
  • You are reading an article by an author who seems to have some major issues going on in her life. (Actually, I made all this up. I am perfectly in harmony with everyone in my life.) [A slight exaggeration.]

 

So where am I going with this? Good question.

Enter my perfect little world.

One fine fall day I had nearly all my ducks in a row. I was preparing to go away on a trip, checking off one by one the items on my list. Then the call that changed it all: a neighboring parish was allowing the Blessed Sacrament to be exposed for periods of time with no committed adorers present. Would I go and fill a spot later in the day. If someone didn’t cover, the priest might shut the whole thing down.

Oh.  I guess you could say that was the rock. What else could I do but throw it back?

 Why do I have to do this? Nobody shows up? Aren’t there some responsible people in that parish that could take care of this? … Besides, isn’t there something called subsidiarity involved here? I don’t think I should go around fixing things that are none of my business. They have a pastor.  He should take care of it.

There. That took care of that.

I had another friend (I have only two, I need myriads) that was upset about how this was affecting her life (call this the hard place). She had been filling in at that same church for two years and had never felt like she could leave adoration, even when her house was burning down (another slight exaggeration). After talking to her, I had a feeling the pastor was going to get an ear full and that he may very well shut it down. So where did that leave me? Right smack dab in the middle: Rescue or Wreck.

It didn’t take long for guilt to settle in. You know how it is, all of a sudden you are in a fog bank. And it’s all on you. I must be selfish. Poor Jesus is sitting over there all by Himself and I don’t want to go. What if somebody kidnaps Him?

That cycled for a while until Wait a minute! Maybe I can pass this guilt on to my husband. “Sweetie, I have something to ask you.” Why didn’t I think of this before?

His answer was encouraging. “Why do you want to go back over there? You were just there this morning for Mass. I think that’s crazy.”

Well, there you go. Submission. I have to obey—at least this time. He’s way smarter than I thought.

But there was still the issue of my other friend. I could just see her electric blue eyes all ablaze for love of Jesus. She knew what it took to launch an adoration program. She knew that one little slip could sink the ship. “The Blessed Mother wants us to get this going,” she said very convincingly, as if she had just talked to her.  “The more adorers, the better.”

I could feel the rock closing in.  Now what? Well, I did what any good girl would do when she is in the Red Sea between two large walls of water.

Multiple choice:

  • Tell God “I can handle it on my own.”
  • Tell God “I might need a little help.”
  • Tell God “Hey, I know this boat’s going down, but I’m going nighty night. You’ve got this, right?”

Actually, I did #2. And then I did # 3. I plunged like Jonah to the bottom of the sea. Aha, I got away!

But then God did #4 (not listed).

Whoa! All of a suddenmy brain rebooted. My eyes shot open and I saw it.

“You saw what?” you ask.

How God Sees Things.”

“Really?” you ask.

“Yes…  I saw that God was pleased. God was consoled.  As a matter of fact, He was ecstatic.”

And you ask “What on earth was He so pleased, consoled and ecstatic about?”

“Glad you asked that! Simply this, God was pleased, consoled and ecstatic because He had two really good friends: one aligned with his justice, caring about the offense to his Holy Presence and the lack of theirs (presence—but you knew that); the other aligned with his mercy, caring about getting as many souls as possible to love Him much more intimately than they had ever loved Him before.”

“And what is your part in all of this?” you ask.

“Well, it’s like this. I’m still between a rock and a hard place. But it’s okay. I just have to pray. I have the distinct impression that God will work out the details.”

“And you don’t think you are a spiritual slacker by just sitting around praying?”

“Nope I don’t. ‘The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful’ James 5:16 says (NABRE).”

“That’s not the end of the story, but it’s a good beginning.”

When All Seems Lost: A Letter From a Friend

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Dear Anne,

We all go through times of having a place that becomes difficult for us to navigate through. When we are emotionally fragile and hurting we are not whole. Being whole means having peace about who you are and what you are doing. It means coming to a place of peace about your past and realizing that you don’t have to live there anymore. That takes recognizing and embracing the good aspects of it and coming to terms with the troubling, disappointing or hurtful parts of it. Wholeness also means having peace about your present situation—even if you feel it is not yet good—because you trust that God will make it right. It also means having peace about your future, no matter how scary it may seem. It is trusting that because you have surrendered your life to the Lord, your future is safe in His hands.

The amount of hurt and brokenness you have experienced in your past will determine how much healing you need now in order to be whole. No matter what bad things have happened you can still be set free from negative emotions. That kind of freedom cannot be found outside of God’s love.

In order to get free of negative emotions, you have to take charge and say, “I am not going to live my life in pain and brokenness. God has given me a way out and I am going to take it. I am determined to stop all wrong thinking.” Achieving freedom from emotional pain happens as you take a step at a time with the Lord and He helps you change habits of thoughts, feelings and actions.

Make a decision to put God first in every part of your life. This means even putting Him before your feelings. Say, “Lord, I will serve You and not my emotions.” Determine to line up your thoughts and emotions with God’s Word. Say, “Lord, what You say in Your Word has a better influence in my heart than my own feelings.”

Pray about everything. Don’t entertain negative emotions as if they are old friends. They don’t have a right to be part of your life anymore. Tell the Lord about each one and ask Him to set you free.  Phil 4:6-7 says that you are to be anxious about nothing, but in everything by prayer and thanks, you are to let God know what you need. Then his peace, which is greater than anything you know, will guard your heart and mind in him. Say, “Lord, I refuse to give place to negative emotions, so I pray that You will take them away. Thank You for protecting my heart and mind, and giving me peace in the process.” I pray this process happens by your saying this from Ps 23:3: “God restores my soul and leads me along the right way.” Taking any other path in any other direction is a waste of time.

Tell him, “Lord, today I refuse all anxiety, fear, dread, anger or sadness for I know that they are not from You. By the power of Your Holy Spirit I resist the temptation to see the bad in life and I ask You to open my eyes to the good. Help me to sense Your presence at all times, no matter what is happening. My life is in Your hands and Your love sustains me. Give me a garment of praise to take away the spirit of heaviness.”

Love and prayers,

Joyce

Your Life

What if your life as you know it stops? No birds, no trees—just measureless space. And you ask, “How did I get here?” The question seems irrelevant, since an inner voice tells you it’s the end of the road.

But where are you? Seemingly suspended, you’re like a goldfish in a bowl, floating, looking through the glass. You hear a voice call your name. The very sound of it sends chilling vibrations—stunning, stimulating and scaring all at once—that make your worse day on earth seem like a peaceful snooze in the hammock. As you look more closely, you see a face through the curvature of the bowl: kind eyes, deep blue—like the ocean. Then, all too quickly, you see your life, unfolding frame by frame. You writhe and gasp. If only you could look away, but the truth is relentless. It’s a searchlight illuminating every wrong thing you’ve ever done. You want to plunge into everlasting darkness to get away. Already you are turning away, falling …

But what is this? The voice—like a soothing waterfall—gushing, singing, calling you back asks “Are you willing to turn to Me?”

Unbelievable! You almost can’t. How could you?

But the face, clearly before your eyes now, emits a light like none you’ve seen on earth.  And wonder of wonders, the eyes are misty, radiating a sadness that’s incomprehensible.

Still, you resist. “Why would he want me? I’m nothing like him. I don’t deserve it.”

The voice more tender than ever, “You have always been in my heart.”

You stop, consider the possibility. Your life was a dead-end. There were more heartbreaks and failures than you care to admit. And now this—an offer that trumps any good thing you ever had. But can you trust him? You aren’t exactly a good judge of character; all those train-wreck relationships are proof of that. But if this is real, you’d be a fool to turn down the offer.

Suddenly, your heart leaps at the thought. “Why not? Yes!” you yell at the top of your lungs, “a thousand times yes!”

Mercy waits for you. What are you waiting for?

Falling in Love

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What is it about love that makes us bigger than we are?

A baby has no ego boundaries; it feels at one with its mother and the world. That’s love. We big folks, too, turn decidedly nicer when we fall in love; our ego boundaries expand and we feel as if our hearts are as big as the universe.

I don’t know about you, but I feel the same way falling in love with God. The more I try to look at Him, the more this ego of mine gets lost in His greatness. Simply put, I don’t see as much of me anymore. When this happens, I find that I have to go out and love somebody. Either that or hold back a river jumping its banks in my soul. His love feels that big to me sometimes.

This fits very nicely into the commandments of God. He gave us two, you know: Love Him and love our neighbor as ourselves. The thing I try to remember is that the first commandment is first and the second commandment is second. So if I keep them in order, things work the way they’re supposed to. If I get them mixed up, I wind up struggling and I don’t love. I just wind up trying to keep rules for the sake of keeping rules. This includes loving others because I should. I think people can tell the difference.

It helps me to look around at the saints and see what they did. Take St. Catherine of Sienna. God told her to make Him the focus of her thoughts and He would take care of her affairs better then she could. I don’t think He meant that she was the only one He would do this for. Mother Teresa is another example. She spent a lot of time hiding out with God. Finally, one day she got it. And when she did, nothing could keep her from doing the hardest thing—loving the untouchables in the world. Again, God came first; her call to others came second. When she got things in the right order, she loved them both exceedingly well.

This is why I want to keep looking at God in everything—in my breathing, thinking, moving, sleeping, and working. Because when I’m full enough, the dam breaks and out comes the supernatural overflow. I almost can’t stop myself. I have to love. Just like the baby, and the lover. Just like Catherine and Teresa.

My prayer for you and me: “God, make us fall in love with You.”

Give God Your Gallbladder

You’re healed every time you pray. You may not feel like it.  You may not see it.  But trust God on this one—you are healed.

How can you be certain of this?

Psalm 103:2-3 says to praise the Lord and not to forget his benefits for He forgives all our sins and heals all our diseases.  God wants to heal us. He really does.  But sometimes we ask for one thing and He sees something else that has to come first.

Let’s say your gallbladder is acting up.  So you pray for God to fix it.  And, no surprise here, your insides still feel as though you just drank muriatic acid.  Still, God healed you as soon as you prayed. How is that?

Well, it may very well be that while you were focused on your gallbladder, God shined His healing light a few layers deeper to that burning sensation in your gut that flares up every time you think of Uncle George.  You know the one who humiliated you in front of the entire family.  The one you can’t forgive. It may just be that once that festering sore is taken care of, the rest will be easy.  And until it’s taken care of, fixing the other problem will be like applying salve to a broken foot. We see this in scripture when Jesus tells the lame man that his sins are forgiven, and after that, he tells him to pick up his mat and walk.

Does this mean that every time we have a physical symptom, there’s a spiritual symptom underneath?  No.  But only God knows.

So it’s best that we pray and He heals—any way He wants.

 

 

 

 

Wasting Time With Jesus

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2014 © Anne Rose

I don’t know about you, but I have things to do that sometimes seem more important or more enjoyable than just sitting around praying. But as with anything else, I’ve found that once I get started, spending time with Jesus is a lot more rewarding than I ever expected.  Here’s what I’ve come to learn as I “waste” time with Him.

He has a personality and He’s fun.

He cares deeply about me and everything that pertains to me. This makes Him vulnerable. He hurts when I hurt.

He likes me. He thinks I’m interesting and entertaining. He likes to hear what’s going on in my life.  Sometimes I hear Him talk to me in my thoughts about what I can do with the million problems that bother me, or how I can grow up a little in my spiritual walk.

Sometimes I’m too choked up, or too tired, or too bored to talk, so we just look at each other. He doesn’t seem to mind. In fact, I think He enjoys the fact that I’m not talking His ears off. I still try to tell Him how much I love Him, though. I know He appreciates this very much, especially when I don’t feel like saying it.

Once in a while I might hear a one-liner from Him that knocks my socks off. I try to savor this pearl of wisdom. It lifts my spirit high and gives me a peaceful feeling.

Occasionally, I’m so happy to be with Him that I practically eject from my seat. That’s when I sing out loud if nobody’s listening.

We’ve gotten to be such good friends. I think He really misses me when I don’t come around. I really miss Him, too.

 

 

 

The Perfect Prayer

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2014 © Anne Rose

If you could say only one word in prayer, what would it be?  Hmm, that could be tough.  Or maybe not.

There is one word that would say it all.  One word—if we believed in it—that would open the heavens, attract the ear of the Trinity, drive away fear and evil and  heal the broken heart.

Only to speak it with reverence, to whisper it with devotion, to think it with all our minds, to love it with all our hearts, would be to say what billions of words have neglected to say.

Jesus is such a word.  The Word.

May It say everything for us.

In My Life

2014 © Anne Rose

In case you were taking me too seriously …

Spring was rained out this year—as usual.

It got to me: the constant drone of drops pelting the roof, the seemingly ever-present darkness like the ninth plague of Egypt hanging over my house.  I knew the sun was shining somewhere.  If only I could see it.

One day in late May it actually made a cameo appearance.  That’s when I emerged from my house-ark to look for dry land.  Then, everything seemed transformed by an ethereal brightness.  The grass glistened with dew; the chain link fence that encloses the three and a half acres surrounding my house shimmered like a thousand diamonds.

However, this was not a perfect world I found.  As I walked along, two aluminum wires caught my eye.  Strange that they should be dangling precariously from the chain link fence.  Even stranger was the fact that they were cut in half.

Suddenly, my nature walk took on a more serious mission.  I quickly surveyed a hundred-foot section of the fence: sixty metallic hangers that laced the top of the fence had been filed to the point where they were nearly falling off the top support structure.  The tumblers in my mind hit like a slot machine jackpot: The kid next door must have done this.

His mother didn’t see it that way, though.

By the time I walked the perimeter of our fifteen-hundred-foot fence, I realized that this was no petty vandalism.  Close to two hundred hangers had been either filed to paper thinness or completely cut through.  Hmm, maybe a bigger kid did this.

Nobody had to hit me with a lightning bolt.  I knew it was time to warn the neighbors of a terrorist in our midst!  And when they realized that a total of eight other fences were gashed, they agreed it was time for a serious block watch effort—lights, dogs, whatever it took to catch the midnight hacker.

One retired engineer even guessed the assault weapon: a battery-powered die cutter.  It was the perfect tool—quick and quiet.  And he reminded me how the next-door neighbor’s fence had fallen down in the dark last summer.  Why, the little vandal could take out an entire neighborhood in one night.  I knew we’d have to act fast before all our fences were destroyed.  Maybe the police needed to hear about this, too.

I became obsessed with apprehending the culprit.  I felt the need to spread the message.  My zeal landed me ten houses down the street.  The same telltale signs were present.

That neighbor’s response was not the same as mine, though.  “It’s squirrels,” he nonchalantly told me.  “Squirrels?” I said.  “No, can’t be.  This is aluminum, not nuts.”  “Hey,” he said, “this has been going on in our yard for a long time.  Believe me, it’s squirrels.”  “Really?” I asked, grinning inside.

The squirrel idea was too far out, but I couldn’t let it go without checking some facts.  “You’d be surprised,” my vet told me.  “Squirrels are strange creatures—like rats.  They can chew right through the electric wires on your house.  And once they get a taste for something, they’ll keep at it.  Yep, I’m afraid your neighbor is probably right—I bet it’s squirrels.”

More squirrel stories kept popping up: the neighbor’s cable line that was chewed atop the utility pole; my high school’s now-famous suicide squirrel, whose appetite for electric cable shut down the school for a day.  After a while, I found myself on the other side of the fence—believing in the squirrel theory and telling others about it.  It was odd, though, how the people I talked to had that distant look in their eyes, as if thinking, “Squirrels, huh?”

So what do you think is going on?  Is there a monster kid with a malevolent plot to wreck our neighborhood?  Or is it the work of a few playful furballs, scurrying about in the light of day right under our noses?

The future safety of the world might depend on your answer.