Tuesday, August 17, 2010


“You are my beloved, on you my favor rests”

I bought a book for my friend called Life of the Beloved by my favorite author, Father Nouwen.   However, placing an unread Nouwen book in front of me is like placing a glass of wine in front of a true Italian.  The indulgence is inevitable.  So I started reading and was once again taken away by his insights and his beautiful language of the love of God.  (hopefully my friend won’t mind that her gift was a bit “broken in” lol.)
He talks about how one of the greatest sins of our time is self-rejection and arrogance although both are one of the same.  He says, “isn’t arrogance putting yourself on a pedestal to avoid being seen as you see yourself? Isn’t it just another way of dealing with the feelings of worthlessness?”  When it all comes down to it, we all fall for the lies that lead to self-rejection.  We believe our boss that we just aren’t good enough or smart enough and that’s why we were not promoted or why we were let go.  We believe the man who momentarily glances at us lovingly before he turns to the next that we aren’t beautiful enough for him to stick around.   We believe the magazines , tv shows, and movies when they tell us that the way we live our lives isn’t the way our culture would have hoped.  We believe the evil one when he places these self conscious and self rejecting lies near our hearts and if we aren’t strong enough, these lies gain entrance inside.  This strength can only come from the one who created us and called us “very good”.  This strength can only come from the one who made us His beloved.
We are all His beloved.  But do we all believe it?   If we believed it we wouldn’t be seeking attention and righteousness in all the wrong places.   That is why Nouwen says we have to become the beloved in our hearts even though God already considers us the beloved.  We have to focus and pray on 4 things: being chosen as the beloved, being blessed, being broken and giving of ourselves.
CHOSEN: You have to know you were chosen before the beginning of time…before you were given life He knew you and held your very name in the palms of his hands.  The bible says even the hairs on your head are counted.  He knows you inside and out and He loves you more than you could ever fathom.  When Jesus died of the cross, He thought of You! Because you are His forever beloved.
BLESSED: Know that you are blessed.  Give prayers of thanksgiving for all that He has given you and you will soon step out of the darkness and see life in a new light.  Upon the realization of your blessings, you will be more fully able to bestow blessings on others.  Imagine if a friend randomly walked up to you and said, “Man, I’ve been praying for you and that God will bless you with His amazing love and that you may be more aware of His great love for you today and always.”….wouldn’t that be an amazing start to a day!!  But many of us are too busy or too distraught by our own “failures” to realize our own blessings, let alone bestow them upon others. 
BROKEN:  We are all broken.  We all experience pain in our own ways and in our own hearts.  No person can ever feel exactly what you feel. But God knows exactly how you feel.  He has placed the heartache upon you with the hope that you can find the beauty in the breaking.  For nothing comes to us without going through His Hands first.  And no suffering is bestowed on us without its own individual wisdom waiting to be sought.
Now neither I nor Nouwen are saying that we should all run around with confidence knowing we are the beloved and thinking we have no need for improvement.  We all need practice at knowing thyself and growing in wisdom.  We all need to continually grow in love of God and love of neighbor.  However, the aspects of our lives that need a little work must never bring us down into self-rejection and despair.  We must look at our brokenness as ways to grow under the blessings of the beloved.
 GIVING: “It is sad to see that, in our highly competitive and greedy world, we have lost touch with the joy of giving.  We often live as if our happiness depended on having.  True joy, happiness, and inner peace come from the giving of ourselves to others”.  And our gift of ourselves is hardly ever what we can do, rather it is who we are.  I’ve learned this is especially true on the mission field.  At Naz Farm we were sent to an old lady’s house to paint and do some yardwork.  Well the work wasn’t nearly as important as taking the time out to sit awhile with Granny B.  She took great joy in watching us savor her famous grilled cheese and laugh hysterically at her stories.  If we had gotten too caught up in the work, our mission would have been cut short on joy.  But we were more able to bless by the fact that we cared about who she was as a person than caring more about the work we needed to get done.  And if we slow down and spenda little time becoming the beloved, we are more in tune to that voice saying “slow down, give a little of yourself to this person…they need My joy today and I am sending you to deliver it.”  There is no greater joy than to be a beloved servant of Christ.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that we are so loved? Isn’t it great to become the beloved!  My prayer for you is that you place all your burdens, your self-rejection, your arrogance, your insecurities and your fears at the feet of our God knowing that “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” –Romans 8:39.  No matter how far you have fallen away or how broken you are, God will never stop loving You.  Embrace that love, let it wrap around you with its comforting joy and peace.  Only then will you truly feel what it’s like to live as the Beloved.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A wait at Walgreens

This one is from March, 2010:

                Freshly humbled by my very own ignorance of my personal insurance policy, I sit quietly next to two college frat boys waiting for the pharmacy tech to figure out my drug coverage conundrum for me.  I sift through my purse hoping to find some reading material, anything that would make sitting next to these two young friends less uncomfortable.  As I find relief in playing with the buttons on my cell phone, I quickly fall into their conversation of frustrations with girls.  The boy waiting for his medicine starts talking about an Ashley who is indecisive about whether she wants to be in a committed relationship one day, or be available the next.  His sidekick proceeds to rattle off names of girls who have similar tastes in flightiness.  He then deems it an opportune time to pour out his wisdom on dating to his fraternity brother.  “That’s why now I don’t want a name, a number, or an address.  Just go for the one night stand and you’re done,” he preaches rather smugly.  His callous statement shoves my heart into a pit of sadness.  One may think it appropriate to feel sorry that a boy would believe such a lie, knowing that it will only lead him more into emptiness and despair.  However, I start picturing those girls, his “targets”.  I see them having a good time in a bar, falling for his antics, and giving away a small piece of their innocent heart that night.  I feel sorry that a man would objectify them and be oblivious to their precious hearts.  Hearts made in the image and likeness of God meant to be treasured and protected, yet this frat boy overlooks the scars he creates with his one night escapades.  I wonder what he will say on the day he stares deep into our Lords eyes as He asks, “How did you treat my daughters?  Did you actively seek to protect their hearts and honor their innocence?  Did you search for their true beauty and study their intricate souls by earning their respect and winning their hearts?  How did you treat my daughters, my son?”
                Luckily, before I am tempted to say anything, his medicines are called, and he and his sidekick walk away.  As I sit there unfairly building up stereotypes for fraternity men in my own mind, an elderly woman wrapped in a long black shawl walks up to the counter.  An unusually bright smile lights up her face seemingly out of place for a woman just picking up meds at her local Walgreens.  The pleasant clerk greets her and she soon pays for her medication.  She delightfully thanks the clerk and ends their interaction with a peppy, “God Bless!”.  The bright smile from the elderly woman’s face has now found its way onto mine.  How I wish that I would have the courage to pour out God’s blessing on a mere acquaintance.  What a powerful statement granted with such simplicity and grace.  Why does my fear of offending someone stop me from vocalizing my hope for them?   God told us to love one another, right? 
                My thoughts rapidly turn towards the new ideas of the so called decline of Christianity in America.  In just five minutes, I have witnessed grave sin and Godly love side by side.  What if we, as Christians, started outwardly loving our brothers and sisters, actively caring for their hearts?   What if we invoked a small change in our day to day life by wishing God’s blessing on one another?  What if Christianity is not declining here, but no one is actually sitting still long enough to witness it in its simple quaint moments? Finally, what if we could be that elderly woman in the black shawl, loving unconditionally, knowing not how her two last words were instilling a great hope and delight in the young woman’s heart, sitting quietly in the corner at Walgreens.  

"Daddy, was I good in church"

I was walking out from Church on Sunday and this tiny little 6 year old turns to look up at her father and asks, "Daddy was I good in church today?".   I smiled as I remembered asking that same question when I was younger knowing very well I spent the whole mass bugging my parents with the question, "is it done yet?".  But I couldn't help but wonder after I heard the little girl ask such a simple question, how this question still applies to me as a now 25 year old.
   At this particular mass, the priest had talked about how we can easily become distracted during prayer, mass, other time with God and how
"If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died,
and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.
Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire,
and the greed that is idolatry.
Stop lying to one another,
since you have taken off the old self with its practices
and have put on the new self." Col 3: 1-5

How often do we sit through mass and think about what just happened at work, or what we are having for dinner, or which boy looks cute in those jeans! (hehe ok maybe exaggerating a bit there but you get the idea).I think our time at church and our quiet time with God is so important for us to discern what is Heavenly and to let go of the earthly for the time being. It is necessary for our soul to find complete contemplation with God without allowing earthy distractions to rule our minds.  How else will we truly feel His presence at mass, in the Eucharist, or in one another.  But I know what you are thinking, "it can be super hard to remain focused completely for an entire hour."  I completely hear you on that one.  But the more you practice, the less and less you will find your mind wandering.  And the more You ask God for help with this, the easier it will become and the more He will reveal to you about His heart and His love for you! And God knows we will never be perfect, he understands. He just asks that we strive for perfection and as we do we place a big smile on His face. So try it, sit in silence and ask God to help you feel His presence as you push the earthly aside. You might stand in awe of what is revealed to you! and who knows, maybe the next time the Heavenly Father places the question on your heart of "were you good in church today?"...you may be able to answer "Yes!"