Posts Tagged With: friend

We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy

Friday, August 24, 2012 – 4:00pm – under a bridge at the edge of town – General Cepeda, Coahuila, Mexico

Strange spot for a desert day prayer time, I know. But, it was the quietest and shadiest spot I could find. Even though it happens to be under one of the main roads in town. When you live in a small town like this, the “main roads” are not all that busy. We were also short on gas so we had to pick a close spot, and this was the best we could manage.

The bible verse I got today is Acts 16:9-10: “One night Paul had a vision: a Macedonian appeared and kept urging him in these words, ‘Come across to Macedonia and help us.’ Once he had seen this vision we lost no time in arranging a passage to Macedonia, convinced that God had called us to bring them the good news.” Now my point here is not to talk about visions, as great as they may be. And my point here is not to determine whether it’s better to have this foreigner or that foreigner appearing in your dreams. My point is simply this: God can work in your life much easier when you are relaxed and open. How much more relaxed and open can you be, than by being unconscious in a state of sleep? I think that’s why God so often has used and continues to use visions and dreams. But before you rush to the neighborhood pharmacy to buy some Melatonin, realize that you don’t have to be unconscious for God to speak to you. You just have have to be humble, willing, and ready to hear him.

A few other tidbits that came to me:

1.) We are our own best friend & our own worst enemy. – Sure, there are lots of things that are not within our control. There are also alot of things that ARE within our control. One thing that is always in our control is how we react to life happening. All too often we hide behind the lie of being helpless as a way to excuse how we react to certain things. All too often we see defects and problems that are noone else’s doing but our own, and we despair. How do you fix yourself if you yourself are the root of the problem? We are our own worst enemy because of this. But (there’s always a “but” in the vocabulary of the ever optimistic Christian), this should also give us great hope. If we are our own worst enemy because of the power we wield against ourselves, then it should follow that for this very same reason we are our own best friend. Who controls whether or not we react with charity or anger? We do. Who controls whether or not we go to Sunday Mass or stay in bed? We do. Who ultimately makes our choice for good or for evil? WE do.

2.) Giving out of our need – as a pretty frequent 10% tither in the past, I was comfortable. It was a little more than I wanted to give, but not so much that I felt uncomfortable. I knew I was doing good, and that was enough for me. Now, as a foreign missionary, I have become acquainted with giving out of my need, instead of giving out of my excess. 10% net tithing of an American sized weekly income, even when small, still leaves alot left. Giving ANYTHING when you live in excess of $6000 below the poverty line, is a little tougher. It’s where the rubber meets the road. It’s where our words that we preach and profess are tried and tested, to see if we’re ready to live it. Never before did I ever think I’d be stingy about a single apple, or a few slices of bread. Never before have I felt the remorse I feel when I think I’ve not given enough to someone who is truly poor. And never before have I felt the immense joy of truly giving out of my need. It ain’t easy, but it’s worth it. For their livelihood, and for your holiness.

3.) Giving lovingly and not begrudgingly – It’s SOOOO easy to give begrudgingly. Resenting that poor person because you think they’re too lazy to work for it, or because they’re bothering you at an inconvenient time. How dare they do such a thing! And to tell you the truth, I have a long way to go in this area before I get to where I wanna be. But I’m glad it’s not easy. I’m glad it’s a challenge. Because I know that when I do get to a point in my life as a Christian, that I can give to those in need, and do it with LOVE, then I will indeed be blessed.

4.) Voluntary poverty – Now why on God’s green earth would someone choose poverty? That’s just straight up dumb! If that’s the hand life deals you, then ok. But to choose it? You mean to tell me that you WANT to be poor? You want to give up the securities of a financially comfortable life? WHY?!?!? I’ll tell you why. It’s for the same reason that our omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent God decided to incarnate himself to save us. To truly serve with compassion those to whom God has sent us to serve, we can’t look down on them. We can’t be prideful. We have to live among them. We have to be friends with them. We have to suffer with them. We have to feel their pain. It is only then that we can truly minister to them with a sense of urgency, passion, and care.

5.) Maybe it’s God’s plan to allow us to struggle – This one ties in pretty closely with #4. Looking back on my first year of missions, I spent WAY too much of it trying to retain a level of comfort and security which would remind me of life back home in the States. I resented the fact that my mission partners, while cooking a sufficient quantity of food for us to live off of, cooked food that at times was humble and far from fancy. And not gonna lie, at times I could have eaten alot more that what we had. Mission life is hard enough already, why skimp on food? This year, I still struggle with not wanting myself to struggle. Since we’ve been here, and especially in my time since language school, it seems like me and my mission partner’s meager monthly stipends have been burning holes in our pockets. We have just barely enough to survive, but not enough to survive without having to worry. Part of me hates this. Why should I have to worry about whether or not we can put gas in our van? Why should I have to worry about whether or not I will have to live off of hotdogs for the next 2 weeks? But as these worries flood my mind, I start to realize some of what those who are truly poor have to go through all the time. And then I hang my head in shame. While I simultaneously thank God for all he has given me. God you’ve made your point. Well played, my Lord. Well played.

That’s all I got this week y’all. Hope you have a blessed week. Ciao!

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Hopefully this is the start of something good

Monday 7/26/10 – 1:00pm @ Awardmaster

Four times in less than three weeks. That’s been my recent frequency of my spiritual journal. Maybe it’s because I’ve got alot going on and coming up. Maybe I’m just bored at work. Either way, I hope I can keep it up. I really enjoy the reflective nature of journaling and it also seems like something that could help give insight to others.

First order of business is to name the “friends” that I talked about in my last entry. First is Mandy Gaerke. She’s a student at Miami University in Ohio. She was on the mission trip to General Cepeda, Mexico  back in March. She’s got a tremendous heart for ministry and missions, and will be spending  the year in Guanajuato, Mexico for a study abroad program. Second is Sarah Carroll. We’ve only become acquainted recently through friend #3, Madi Dold, whom I’ll talk about in just a bit. Sarah is from the Lafayette area, but lives in Pensacola (thus her connection to Madi). We’ve actually crossed paths recently at Joe and Brooke Summers’ wedding (she’s Brooke’s cousin) but we didn’t know each other yet. She recently went on a two week trip to General  and LOVED it. Felt the call to missions in an undeniable way, and has plans to be at Intake in September.  Last but not least is the aforementioned Madi Dold. We met on the trip to General in March (the one that I met Mandy at). Also like Mandy, she’s got a heart for missions. She’s also got alot of love in her heart and really cares for and loves all those whom God has put in her life. Like Sarah, she has also felt a call to missions and has plans to be at Intake in September.

The only sad thing about these 3 musketeers is that Mandy won’t be at Intake. I believe she has a heart for and call into missions, but she’s got to follow God’s plans and timeframe which I believe she strives to do. I’m kinda sad that I don’t get to talk to Mandy much, especially now that she’s in Mexico. It’s possible too that I feel that way cuz I’m blessed to talk with Madi and Sarah so much, and Mandy is so much like them. After talkin’ with Madi last week, I got in touch w/Fr. Wayne Duet who is  a friend of Madi’s family, and I’m gonna spend some time visiting with him next weekend. Really looking forward to that. Seems like a nice guy and I’m sure he’ll give some words of wisdom that’ll benefit me. Coincidentally, he knows my dad from back in the day when he was at St. Jules and my dad used to do the weekly Ultreya meetings over there. He’s also the priest in Richard, LA at the church parish where Charlene Richard’s grave site is at. 🙂 Small world, eh? It’s amazing how interrelated our lives our and how God makes connections, many times when we don’t even realize it. Lately in my convos with these three, I’ve come to realize how God is moving in our lives and how he’s beginning to open doors for us and provide us with what we need.

It’s also teaching me how building a sense of community and relationship is crucial to strengthening our faith lives as Catholic-Christians.  You could use the term “relational ministry”. In my opinion, since God is Trinity (relationship and communion in its purest form) this should be the most important aspect of Church and ministry. Oh, I also forgot to mention that Fr. Wayne helped Fr. Sam Jacobs (now bishop) to start the Awakening retreat. AND when he was stationed in Erath, was a really big supporter of their Lifeteen program. Awesome, huh? Like I said, it’s a small world and the connections are many.

Last thing is that I ask you to pray for my friend Ryan Breaux. He recently felt a call to be a missionary with Lifeteen and needs alot of doors opened and alot of things squared away in the next month to make it on time to the start of missionary training. Thanks and God Bless!

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Urban missionary’s spiritual battle ammo for extra graces……..

Thursday 7/22/10 – 3:30pm @ Awardmaster

You know how as soon as you get to work on certain days, that you can tell “it’s gonna be one of those days”? Well this morning certainly had that feel. For some reason, when my coworker asked me a question, I let my impatience mate with my propensity for placing blame and immediately started to get irritable. I noticed after a few minutes that I continued being like this and that I was just AGGRAVATED! Dunno where it came from either. However, something I did which I had not done well with in the past saved me. I prayed and asked for prayer in my moment of frustration. I sent a text message to a friend and asked her to pray for me, explained the situation and that I did NOT want to have a bad day. Listen to what she told me: “Smile though you don’t feel you can and offer it up for someone on your heart. You’re being given ammo for extra graces!” How true is that….. Praise God! I followed her advice and today ended up being a good day and my frustration never got to me. It wasn’t easy “offering it up” but it has made all the difference.

Another thing that has been a blessing for me is the development of new missionary-minded friends. There are three in particular that God has brought into my life and they are a TREMENDOUS blessing. When I was discerning the priesthood, one of my best friends who was also on that path was my rock. I could level with him about anything even the nitty gritty, and it really helped me on my journey.  The same holds true with these three. I feel like I can level with them about anything relating to my journey into missions. I feel like I can ask them for prayer. Whenever I talk with them, my heart is full of joy and contentment because I know that our faith is what brought us together, and because I know they have a heart for missions. They have not been in my life for very long but I am thankin’ God right now that he blessed me with their presence, friendship, and guidance. At this point I’m pretty sure that one of them will definitely be with me @ Intake and another probably  will be there too (don’t know for sure yet, since the application was just faxed in today).

In other news, I gave a missions talk at the Lafayette Men’s Ultreya last night. The moment I confirmed that I was doin the talk I knew I needed prayer. Had my amazing missionary friends (and some others) prayin’ for me and the talk was AMAZING! You coulda heard a pin drop these guys were so riveted to what I was sayin. They ate it up and even asked some questions afterwards. Was blessed to get some contact info to add to my mailing list. What really humbled me though was how they lifted me up in prayer both before and after my talk. The feeling of being blessed by this was simply overwhelming. God is good to me through the people in my life 🙂 Oh  yeah, Mr. Jim Whittington, the leader of this group, told me that he’d try to see if any other area Ultreyas would like me to talk as well. Anyhoo, I must be going. Gotta figure out some things for the Word of God conference this weekend in NOLA. I leave you with this verse, the story of my life: “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11

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IT’S GONNA BE A ROUGH LANDING

3-14-10 (continued)

How can i go back to normal everyday life when I’ve seen how much of a blessing life as a missionary can be. On the other hand, I know exactly why I have to go back to Lafayette. I have to grow in patience and obedience until the time is right. So these next few months will be filled with fulfilling my obligations in the “real” world as well as preparing myself to enter foreign missions. Now I know that nothing is impossible with God, and that I can get through these next few months. I’m really looking forward to beginning to learn that I’m a missionary for Christ no matter where I’m at. I’m looking forward to continuing with Lifeteen Ministry @ Cathedral.

I know that I will grow in love for my family and friends. And of course, I am definitely looking forward to being as involved with FMC as possible. Hopefully I can keep in touch with my fellow missionaries, both short and long term. Joe and Brooke’s wedding is coming up this friday, there’s mission formation every week, and then of course there’s the Come & See weekend in June out @ Big Woods. All in all, the next few months will be challenging, frustrating, long, exhiliarating, rewarding, and most of all BLESSED. Gotta go now, this time for good. Think I’m gonna pray a chaplet of Divine Mercy during the flight. Lord Jesus, help me to grow in love and charity. Help me to always be ready and willing to give of myself for the sake of your kingdom. St. Francis Xavier, patron of missions, pray for us. Missionary family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, pray for us. Amen!

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DESERT DAY – PART 1

Friday 3/12/10 – In the desert/rural area just outside of General Cepeda, Mexico (next to Rancho La Puerta)

I knew I couldn’t get by another day w/o journalling, and Desert Day is the perfect time to do it. First thing I gotta mention is Omar, my friend. If you recall, I first journalled about him after my trip to Saltillo the week of Thanksgiving. We met him outside of the Cathedral & were utterly blessed by his presence. Well, seeing him was what I was most looking forward to yesterday when we went to Saltillo. As soon as we parked the vehicles, we headed to the Cathedral for noon Mass. Sure enough, there he was, sitting at the corner entrance, in his wheelchair, under his lil’ umbrella.

I don’t know if words can properly convey how glad I was to see him. After a few of us visited with him for a couple minutes, we gathered all his stuff and wheeled him into the Cathedral to go to Mass with us. When the time came to go receive Jesus’ Body in the Eucharist, John-Paul Papuzynski asked me to wheel him up to receive. Of course I said yes, and was VERY happy to have that privilege. It almost felt like being able to do that made receiving Jesus’ Body so much more meaningful. John-Paul said afterwards that Omar had the biggest smile on his face when he was going up to receive Jesus’ Body. That comment in and of itself brought a smile to my face. 🙂 Another thing I noticed that really touched me, was after the collection plate was passed around and the usher was walking back to her seat, Omar reached out suddenly and handed her a coin to put in the collection basket. (to be continued)

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