Praise

The book of Job

I’m familiar with the book of Job. I may not be able to quote it verbatim but I know the basic concept. In fact, I’ve worried my whole life that perhaps God may make an example out of me for my peers and that I could become the modern day version of Job.

While the last couple weeks have been Job-like they certainly haven’t been equal to the trial and tribulations that Job endured. I, and my family, have endured some sad moments. Coupled with my demeanor, raging OCD and the fact that my soul hurts for others I can say that the last couple weeks have been the hardest I can remember in a while.

It brings me back to the story of Job and my realization that I should praise God in all times. Good and bad. It is indeed HE who holds the future and HE who knows what’s best for me. Even though things may not have happened AS PLANNED on my end and things ARE NOT as I would like to happen… it is HE who ultimately knows what will mold me into the person HE has envisioned me being.

I have a vision. A vision of a better me. A vision of someone much stronger, much more confident and full of more love than I would ever be able to dispurse amongst the masses.

If this is what I have to endure Lord, if this is what I have to see and do to become what you would have of me… then I will do it. I will endure it. I want to come out stronger and more blessed than I could ever imagine.

Use me. Teach me. Reign your mercy down on me and I will follow you to the ends of the Earth because I know that my happiness needs to come from the inside out. You are the only one that can dig the deepest into my soul and change me. It is from that point that my happiness will radiate.

Happiness. What is that?

It is never in its truest form, unless it comes from Him.

I await. I pray. I believe.

I will continue to sing His praise no matter the circumstance.

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Change

I’ve been lost these last couple weeks.

Four years ago I began staying at home with my daughter instead of being the more socially accepted working husband who brings home the dough.

I didn’t like the idea.

I grew up in a home where my father worked and my mom stayed at home. To me, the idea of being a stay-at-home dad was an indication that I was less than a man. I couldn’t support my family financially and for that I was embarrassed.

Four years later, my tone has changed. I have provided more worth to my family staying at home than I ever could have being a working man. I have learned more about myself and what little pieces I’m made of.

Unfortunately, my days of being a SAHD are done. My daughter is in full time school and now and I have to find something to do with myself. The thing is… I don’t want to find something else to do. I was comfortable with the schedule I had and the job that I had. I had finally found a place for myself being a full-time dad and I had grown to love it.

Now, it has been ripped from me and I’m uncomfortable. I’m incredibly lost with what to do with myself.

It is now that I realize that I can never be too comfortable because things are always changing aren’t they?

People die.

People almost die.

Kids are born.

Jobs are lost.

Money is tight.

Your car breaks down.

Friends change.

Whatever changes still doesn’t affect the one thing that hasn’t changed. What is the one thing? The one thing is Almighty God. He doesn’t change. Despite everything that happens, He has to be my rock. Without Him I cannot manage this change on my own. I have to know that He holds the future and His intent is what’s best for me.

My job is to roll with the punches and ask for wisdom, guidance, trust, clarity and the ability to hear when He speaks.

So I  pray. And I listen.

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Mercies in Disguise

I’ve been feeling vulnerable lately. Run down. Depressed. Sad.

My daughter went back to school. More than just school. FULL TIME school. I had no idea it would affect me this bad.

Before I was called to be a stay-at-home parent, I never dreamt of being one myself. I had once imagined myself becoming my father: a successful businessman with oodles of money and “stuff” to prove it. Thank God I didn’t amount to what my father became.

I bawled the night before my daughter went to school when I thought I would rejoice at the freedom. It was at that moment that I realized I would miss her. I would miss the times we had together.

Times were changing.

Again.

In amongst all the trials and tribulations and angst that goes along with being the one who your child spends probably 70% of their time with, I still desired to be there with her.

But I know I have to continue to let go. I have to give up control.

In the first few weeks of school I was finding myself distant, somewhat angry and irritable. I was happy with the input that my daughter was getting at school but subconsciously angry that I couldn’t find my place in my world that has now lost what it’s soul purpose was:  to watch over my daughter with eagle vision. I was to protect her with all of my being and know that if something happened it was on my clock.

As school has continued to pass by, I haven’t been able to harness my emotions. I feel continually lost as to where I belong. Am I no longer needed? What is my identitiy now?

Slowly, things seemed to get worse. I won’t go into details but life has been rugged. Life has also been hard outside of my own little problems.

I’ve never lost faith but I did lose momentum.

Perhaps the cherry on the top of my “mountain” of issues was that my daughter came down with croup a day before my wife was leaving on a girl’s trip for a couple nights. Amongst everything that was happening, this was perhaps an indication that God did not care about me. That He simply desired nothing more than to see me suffer for the sins of my past.

Although, It has come to light that perhaps, in amongst the hardest moments, I am only experiencing God’s mercy in disguise.

I woke this morning in dread. My wife was leaving, my child had been up and down all night with a barking cough and I hadn’t really slept well in several days (amongst other unmentionables).

Unbeknownst to me at the time, God’s mercies were present because as I sit here now, this has perhaps been one of the best days I’ve had with my daughter that I can remember. Today we have spent endless time together and enjoyed each other’s company immensily.

I needed that. I needed to know that the flesh and blood that I helped create is indeed still in love with me. She loves me and I felt it today. Perhaps, sometimes, sickness in the flesh of those we love helps show us how to love unconditionally once again.

Perhaps, the moments in our life that are the hardest, are an indication of better things to come or, as the title of this post indicates, are God’s mercies in disguise.

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Saint Christopher The Tattooed?

Pope Francis

So, Pope Francis just said this at World Youth Day. I think it’s lovely and the only thing that I wish he WOULD have said was that the world needs saints with tattoos. In fact, he probably meant to say it. Yeah.. I’m pretty sure he just forgot.

“We need saints without cassocks, without veils – we need saints with jeans and tennis shoes.  We need saints that go to… the movies that listen to music, that hang out with their friends.  We need saints that place God in first place ahead of succeeding in any career.  We need saints that look for time to pray every day and who know how to be in love with purity, chastity and all good things.  We need saints – saints for the 21st century with, a spirituality, appropriate to our new time.  We need saints that have a commitment to helping the poor and to make the needed social change.

We need saints to live in the world, to sanctify the world and to not be afraid of living in the world by their presence in it.  We need saints that drink Coca-Cola, that eat hot dogs, that surf the internet and that listen to their iPods.  We need saints that love the Eucharist, that are not afraid or embarrassed to eat a pizza or drink a beer with their friends.  We need saints who love the movies, dance, sports, theatre.  We need saints that are open, sociable, normal, happy companions.   We need saints who are in this world and who know how to enjoy the best in this world without being callous or mundane.

I don’t know that when I’m dead and gone I’ll ever have a “St.” that precedes my name but it doesn’t mean I can’t try.

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Wisdom

king-solomon-baby

King Solomon was so wise that when two women approached him accusing each other that the other had stolen their baby, he told a soldier to slice the baby in half and give each woman a piece so they could both have the baby. The real mother screamed, shouted and cried thus revealing to Solomon that she was the real mother and subsequently she was awarded the baby.

Now that’s wisdom. Isn’t it?

I guess I can’t quite picture a real world scenario where this would work but I guess thousands of years ago that could be considered real wisdom. So, with that being said, when all else seems lost and you can’t figure out a solution to the problem, don’t chop something in half.

I’m kidding of course but we should all pray for wisdom. Not the sort of wisdom where chopping things in half solves all our problems but the kind of wisdom where we can discern what the right answer is to a problem we’ve encountered.

Perhaps we should stop elevating individuals like Lil’ Wayne and Johnny Knoxville to celebrity positions where they can say and do anything and people listen.

Should these be the people we invest our time into?

I’ll answer that question. The answer is “no”.

I’m not saying that Lil’ Wayne’s intelligible lyrics and Johnny Knoxville’s immunity to getting hit in the groin time after time isn’t okay to absorb now and again but we should spend more quality time asking for wisdom and learning how to obtain it.

How do we do this?

We pray for it.

Pray for wisdom. Don’t turn into Lil’ Wayne.

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Outide the Fishbowl

Red Beta

My daughter has a fish named Breathmint. It just so happens that was what she was chewing on when I asked what we should name her.

Breathmint is a red Beta. She lives by herself in this fancy glass vase on our living room coffee table. She is a Beta so she will obliterate any other fish that comes into her space. So what does she do for fun? Well, she floats here. Then she floats there. It makes for a pretty lonely life.

She really only lives for one thing: to eat.

Every time I come around with her little pellets she scurries under the safety of her plastic aquatic plant. God knows I’m not there to harm her. I mean, I could wrench her out of the water, stuff her with Kleenex and mount her on the wall of my man cave between my autographed photos of Mike Napoli and Hank Blalock but I’m not like that. Not only would that look really silly… but it would be pretty mean.

I clean her living area weekly, feed her, watch over her and make sure she has everything she needs. I am a god to this fish. I know what’s best for her.

What does this sound like?

Aren’t we all a little like fish ourselves?

God sits outside our fishbowl and gives us what we need when we need it. It’s up to us to live with what’s been given to us. Sometimes, when things happen, we blame God because we think that we know best. But perhaps, God was just “changing our water” because we’d been swimming around in our own filth for too long.

Granted, this is a simple comparison but the parallelisms are there. While Breathmint is a dumb, tiny fish incapable of fending for itself outside of creatures similar to it, she does have a brain like us humans do. A brain with limited capabilities… but a brain nonetheless.

So let’s pretend we’re all fish for a moment. As “fish” we may not understand why we haven’t been “fed” today or why that giant thing with weird fins that lives outside of our fishbowl hasn’t given us a new plastic aquatic plant in a while. We don’t know what’s best for us. If we’re overfed then we’ll eat ourselves to death. If a new plant isn’t washed properly then it may kill us when it’s placed in our bowl.

But we’re fish. We just live for ourselves. In a sort of organized chaos: Swim. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Swim in it. Swim some more. Eat. Eat. Repeat.

Quite frankly, there is so much going on here then what is in our own little fishbowl. We are not human beings right? We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Breathmint “wonders” who I am with my weird fins and such and she carries on like I don’t exist. But if I did cease to exist, she would die. She needs me to live.

Without God, whether you or anyone else wants to believe it, we will shrivel up and die too; much like little Breathmint would if I ceased to exist.

Outside the fishbowl… there’s so much more going on than little Breathmint can even comprehend.

Don’t we all have something in common with this little fish?

Categories: Christianity, Grace, Jesus | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Wordless Wednesday

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Hiatus

I’ve been taking a hiatus.

guy taking nap on computer

The internet describes it as such:

hiatus [haɪˈeɪtəs]

n pl -tuses, -tus

1. (esp in manuscripts) a break or gap where something is missing

2. a break or interruption in continuity

Whether it be subconsciously or purposeful, I haven’t been having the same relationship with my God that I feel I’ve been used to for these last couple months.

And every once in a while, I’ll catch myself saying, “God, where have you been?”

Every time, somewhere deep inside, I can “hear” a voice. It isn’t an audible one. It is only one that my spirit hears.

I am here,” It says, “It is you who chooses to push me away.”

The Voice is right. Whether is be subconsciously or purposeful, I have chosen to eliminate God, if just for a moment, from my everyday thoughts and processes. To be honest, it doesn’t take me too long to thank God in the morning for the life that I have. It doesn’t take too long to read my devotional during a well deserved bathroom break. It doesn’t take too long to thank God for keeping me safe as I hurtled down the highway at break-neck speeds only to arrive safely back home, once again.

I get angry when my child doesn’t appreciate everything I do for her. God never angers. God doesn’t punish me for pushing Him away as if He were that kid in 3rd grade who used to eat his own fingernails, I am simply devoid of the opportunity to grow in a relationship with who I call “The Almighty Creator: Maker of Heaven and Earth”. Why would I, a creature substantially insignificant by human standards, deny myself the opportunity to create a friendship with a Creator capable of snuffing out my existence with a whisper?

It is because He allows me to.

He allows me to see what life is like outside of His love and friendship.

Let me tell you, life outside of His love and friendship doesn’t make sense. I can see life through the eyes of those who don’t believe and it makes me sad. It makes me sad because if you’re living on an eternal hiatus from God then you’re missing the “something” that truly makes you happy.

hiatus [haɪˈeɪtəs]

n pl -tuses, -tus

1. (esp in manuscripts) a break or gap where something is missing

2. a break or interruption in continuity

Every relationship needs to be fed to survive, even that relationship with all-knowing, all-consuming, all-encompassing, completely loving, grace filled entity known as God.

Or, as I like to call him sometimes: friend.

This hiatus is over.

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Love

spiritual meme

I know the meaning of life.

Did you hear me?

I know the meaning of life.

The question that everyone eventually asks but never really have an answer for now has an answer.

And the answer is love.

It is perhaps the most important and most widely preached topic. Love is what everyone is looking for but unable to find. The meaning of life is love yet so many people look elsewhere to try to answer that question.

Love and grace are the hardest things to convey and the hardest thing to accept. Not until we learn to live our lives the way Jesus lived his (in unwavering love) we will never undergo the kind of transformation we desire in ourselves to make ourselves happy.

Unfortunately, it is impossible.

But it’s not impossible to try our damnedest to be like Jesus.

When was the last time you smiled at that homeless guy who smells like tuna? When was the last time you forgave someone for a menial problem you had with them? When was the last time you dispensed a hug to someone who really needed it? When was the last time you told your parents, despite your horrible childhood, that you loved them? When was the last time you looked past someone’s face tattoo to really try to get to know them?

What did you feel? Did it feel good to do that?

That is the heart of Jesus. That is your soul guiding you. That is love.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience. We have within us the ability to love the way Jesus loved but our human existence inhibit us from fully loving the way we should. Get in touch with your soul… it knows how to love beyond ways you even knew possible.

I know that I sound like a hippie. I know that I sound like some Beatles song. I know I sound like one of those monks who sits on top of Mount Everest praying for answers from God but it doesn’t matter… I know what the meaning of life is.

And now you do too.

 

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The Bible App

Pope with iPad

Did you know that these futuristic devices known as “iPads” and “Smart Phones” can be used for Christian activities like reading the Bible! Who knew!?

When I was a young aspiring tattoo canvas, I would wake up in the morning and go into the kitchen to find my mother drinking her coffee and reading the bible. She said that the morning time was the best time for her to concentrate on God’s word because, for that short period of time in the morning, I wasn’t present to ask if she could make me cinnamon toast and my dad wasn’t there to ask her to fix him his elaborate breakfast that took him until noon to finish.

Don’t we all need a little of this “time” with ourselves and His word?

I find that if I do not “feed me soul” I start to deviate from my happiest moments which come when I’m in tune with where God wants me to be… and that’s in the pages of what has been a best selling book for centuries.

But, in an age where time is money and moments spent by ourselves are few and far between, how to we sit down and give a few moments to reflect? It is hard to carry a bible around! Those things are big and cumbersome to lug around waiting for the perfect opportunity to open.

I have an answer to this question.

It’s called The Bible App.

With technology being where it is today, every single verse from the bible can be stored on an application on your phone (or iPad or whatever else you have) along with unlimited devotionals, translations, etc.

Bible Application Meme

Make sure to charge your phone though…

I find that some days, the only time I have to myself is (be prepared for TMI) in the bathroom. It is at this time I pull out my phone, open the Bible App and read what comes next in whatever devotional I’m reading for the day. Sometimes I even post what I read to my Facebook Page.

Regardless of your schedule, I know that each of us have 5 minutes during the day to read what God’s word has in store for us. If you don’t think that 5 minutes is enough, reflect on the fact that if you just spend 5 minutes catching up… that’s 5 minutes more than what you might have read the previous day. Something is indeed better than nothing.

Technology can indeed be a bad thing. The internet and technology can connect people in a damaging way. Pornography, negative propaganda and the like can be spread in mere milliseconds and damage the lives of millions. But, when you look at the numbers of people who have downloaded the Bible App, it gives me hope that we can indeed turn the tide and use technology to change lives of people in a positive way.

The creators of the Bible App are trying to reach 100 Million downloads of their application by their 5th anniversary on July 10th. If you haven’t downloaded it already, I would highly recommend it.

Perhaps, it may even change your life. 🙂

Categories: Christianity | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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