Ink Slingers

Even If

“When did I become such a worrier?” I asked my friend as we lamented various circumstances in our lives that were monopolizing our hearts and minds. She shrugged. At one time, in my circle, I was known as the calm, measured one— the one who took challenges as they came and didn’t look back with regret; or forward with worry. “She takes things in stride,” one of my supervisors stated in my employee evaluation when I was fresh out of college and ablaze with enthusiasm for my new career. Nothing seemed to bog me down.

Maybe the worrying habit started when we became parents, my friend and I surmised. Because if you ever had the notion that you had control over your life, that notion goes out the window after you have kids (can I get an Amen?).  Or maybe worry took root when I became a homeowner with a mortgage and unending bills to tackle. Or maybe worry became part of my DNA after my dad died suddenly, or when I had a miscarriage, or when the C-word began lurking in my husband’s medical charts— all times when I found myself on shaky ground that was once solid. I get it. If you have enough of those experiences, you can tend to worry about what’s around the corner. It’s the fear of “what if.”

But this I also know: When I let worry slither in under the door, (or, rather, when I march right up to the door and usher it in with great fanfare), I am turning my back on what the Lord has promised me. And you.

Our loving Lord promises that he will be there, in our tomorrow, just as he is here in our today. In fact, He’s already there! Think about that. He won’t abandon us. He is constant, everlasting, eternal. He is our Rock, our Fortress and our Stronghold! He crushes the “what ifs” with his love and peace and grace.

That means our worry is useless. It is unproductive and unnecessary. It is, dare I say it, worldly.

But, call me human, I still do it. So I need to remind myself (and perhaps you need to remind yourself too?) that even if bad things happen (and they will), Jesus will be there to help us through it. The Holy Spirit will guide us.  Something good will come of it. God will still be on His throne. Even if. Even if real and legitimate concerns arise. Even if a heartbreaking diagnosis is given. Even if a loved one is taken from us in an instant.

Even if.

When I pray during my morning prayer journaling time, I can ask for Jesus to shut down those pesky “what ifs” and instead give me the strength of “even if.” And you know what? That phrase is so much more helpful to have bouncing around in my brain. It establishes a kernel of courage deep within me. It lights a flicker of a flame. It compels me to turn to God and be not afraid. Because, even if, I will have Him. And that is all I need.

“Pray, hope and don’t worry,” said Saint Padre Pio. That’s our command, Sistas.

Even if.

Ink Slingers Maurisa Spiritual Growth

Fifty and Fabulous

“My name’s Sally O’Malley and I’m proud to say I’m 50 years old. I’m not one of those gals whose afraid to tell her real age. And I like to kick, stretch, and kick! I’m fifty. Fifty years old.” -Molly Shannon from Saturday Night Live

A year ago, as I turned forty-nine, the panic set in. How did fifty years fly by so soon? I was dealing with rolling hot flashes (among other pre-menopausal symptoms), degenerative disks in my spine, aching knees, and painful bone spurs in my feet. The vanity in me started to notice every gray hair, the appearance of crepey skin on my neck, and every crows foot and laugh line on my face. Fifty and beyond was not looking like a whole lot of fun and I started to really feel depressed about it. My sister-in-law is a year older than me and as I wished her a happy 50th she confessed, “Maurisa, I pretty much cried all day.” Ugh. Are the best years of my life already behind me? What do I have to look forward to other than a continual downward slide and a rebelling body? And to be frankly honest with you, I was truly afraid of getting old and of death itself.

While I knew I couldn’t do anything about getting older, I knew I could mitigate some of the more negative aspects. The depressing conversation with my dear sister-in-law became my motivator. I did not want to spend my fiftieth birthday in tears. Under the guidance of a Nutritional Therapist I changed my eating habits—cutting out processed sugars and grains; boosting my protein, fats, and veggies; and introducing some supplements. This was all focused upon alleviating the hot flashes, irritability, lethargy, and joint pain, but a wonderful side benefit was that I dropped 25 pounds, something that becomes increasingly difficult as we age. As energy levels began increasing I started exercising more and by my birthday I was in the best shape I’d been in since we began our family.

As for the gray hair, crepey neck skin, and crows feet; I came to accept and look upon them as hallmarks of a life well lived. I found myself looking about and seeing the beauty in those already far into their golden years. At every stage of life we are fearfully and wonderfully made. We should give God thanks for each day he has graced us with and not be afraid. As my 23 year old son observed,”Mom, you shouldn’t feel bad about getting older. You’re at that age when people actually respect you.” It was probably the nicest and most comforting thing he’s ever said to me. 

It wasn’t just my body which needed attention. I knew the fear and depression about getting older had a spiritual aspect to it as well. I handed my worries over to God and started using Lectio Divina to enrich my prayer life. Looking back over this past year I recognized the amazing graces I’d been given and for the first time in a long while I saw substantial spiritual growth. So much so, that when the actual day arrived it ended up being one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had. In His Providence, my birthday fell on a Sunday—and not just any Sunday, but the Solemnity of the Nativity of John the Baptist. It felt like a birthday gift from heaven! I enjoyed Mass, a lovely late lunch with my husband and two youngest boys. We then took a nice long nap. It was lovely. No panic. No tears. Just peace, happiness, and gratitude for the wonderful life I’ve been given so far and joyful anticipation for the years to come.

“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon, planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God. They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, proclaiming, “The Lord is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in Him.”-Psalm 92: 12-15

This coming year holds so much promise. Our oldest will be getting married and our youngest will receive his First Holy Communion. How awesome is that? Fifty years may have flown by, but I have so much more to look forward to in the future. Every season of life can seem daunting and may fill us with trepidation. That is why these words from Saint John Paul II really resonate with me:

“Have no fear moving into the unknown. Simply step out fearlessly knowing I am with you, therefore, no harm can befall you; all is very, very well. Do this in complete faith and confidence.”

My name’s Maurisa Mayerle and I’m proud to say I’m 50 years old.

Anni Faith Formation Ink Slingers Prayer Spiritual Growth

Anxiety, Change, and a Whole Lot of Trust

Not too long ago, I was surveying the to-do list of what seems a million things as my family adjusts to our newborn, my postpartum medical issues, and we prepare to move in the next month. The more I considered everything, the more I began realizing my breath shortening, my pulse getting quicker, and my palms starting to sweat. For those with anxiety, you will certainly appreciate those signs of an upcoming panic attack. And, I was quickly able to take steps to ward off that particular panic attack.

One of my favorite prayer times is when I am elbow deep in dishwater. At those moments, I am able to fully focus on speaking with God, and often find myself staring out of the window perched above our sink, either laying my heart on the counter for Him, or listening to His whispers in my heart. The day I just previously described was one of those days – and, recognizing those symptoms – and taking the concerns to prayer – was one of the ways in which I felt my anxiety lessen.

As I stood there at the sink, wiping my hands to dry, I heard the whisper on my heart, “Why question? Why worry? Has God not always provided, even in the midst of doubt?” And, I began thinking about the times in my life in which I felt as though the deck were stacked against my odds – and, the one thing which continues to be constant in my life.

God is always present, always available, and believe it or not, always trustworthy. 

We may not always see Him as trustworthy, and I know quite a few individuals who have left not just the Catholic Church, but faith altogether, because of their doubt in Him. Their doubt about His plans lead them to question His existence altogether. Their lack of trust seeps into their view of God, and taints their ability to recognize His plans and designs as they come about.

And yet, when I experience anxiety, I am doing what those I know have done – I am lacking trust. I lack trust in His word, His plans, and His ultimate goal.

When I consider that, I realize I am not alone. All of us go through a period in which we experience doubt, and we struggle to trust. Our society actually doesn’t make trusting God any easier. We are constantly surrounded by our own doubting Thomases in our lives, and we even experience our own moments of being like Thomas. However, our moments of doubt or lack of trust don’t ever seem to be openly discussed.

Heraclitus is credited with saying, “There is nothing permanent except change… The only constant in life is change.” For so many individuals, change can be daunting, and it can be scary. During times of change, trust can be elusive.

However, St. Augustine is quoted as saying, “Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His love, and the future to His providence.” God had a divine plan – one which includes every single one of us. And, as St. Teresa of Avila is credited with saying, “May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.” As we undergo the constancy of change, we don’t have insight into God’s plan – for others, or for ourselves. And yet, frequently we fall prey to the whispers of the devil, telling us to doubt God’s plans. We succumb to the notion that we should know and be able to control the change we experience in our lives.

When we lack trust, we are trying to control the change, but we are also trying to convince ourselves that we know best. We are, in effect, telling God that He has no clue what He is doing. We tap into, and channel, Satan’s reported favorite sin … the deadly sin of pride. And, as St. Faustina reminds us, “A humble soul does not trust itself, but places all its confidence in God.”

Therefore, let us each take account of our lives, our approach to change, and our level of intimacy with God. Let us commit to the countercultural notion of placing our trust in something, or rather, Someone. He is not One who visible to us at this point, but He is visible to us through others. The One in whom we should place all our trust has our best intentions in His heart and knows exactly what He is doing. As Jesus told Thomas in John 20:29, “Blessed are those who have not seen and believed.”

When all else fails, Jesus Himself, through St. Faustina, gave us the perfect mantra and prayer to repeat over and over again. To allow us to fake it until we make it, if you will…

Jesus, I trust in You.

A simple, powerful, radical statement, which is guaranteed to change our lives, and the world around us.

I’d love to hear from you:

What has helped you during times in which you struggle to trust God’s plan?

How have you learned to trust His plan in all areas?

In which area do you struggle most to trust Him, and how do you address those struggles head on?

Alison W Faith Formation Ink Slingers Spiritual Growth

God’s Little Miracles: What Great Grandma Called Them

We are approaching a special time of year in Southern Indiana: mushroom season. My great grandmother always called them God’s little miracles because the mushroom is such a mystery. They grow from under trees and they spring up out of the side of rocks. I’ve been mushroom hunting my whole life. From the time I was a very small child we have been tromping the woods to find fungus. This season is a reminder to me to keep my eyes on Jesus. I’ll explain why.

A couple years ago I was mushroom hunting. I was scouring the woods to find a grand mushroom. One caught my eye and I went running toward it. I kept my eyes glued on the mushroom as I jumped over logs and tore through a sticker bush. Anyone that has been mushroom hunting knows that you have to keep your eyes fixed on the mushroom. If you lose focus, you might never find it again. So I was very intent on keeping my eyes on that mushroom. I was also giddy as innocent childhood memories flooded back, plus the hunt is absolutely thrilling. I quickly darted around until I finally captured that mushroom. With pride I stood tall with my find basking in the glory of finding one of God’s little miracles.

My excitement quickly plummeted when I realized I was stuck. Stuck in the middle of trees and sticker bushes. As I began my crawl out of that mess, it was slow. I was scratched. My hair got tangled in a bush. It was very slow moving, but I did manage to find my way out of that mess. It was painful and with much effort, but I lived to tell the tale.

I felt the Holy Spirit speak to my heart. This was much like life. On the way in I had my eyes fixed on that mushroom and I ran right through some really big obstacles. However, on the way out I was focused on the thorns and foliage and I was almost defeated by them. The only difference was my focus. That one difference resulted in two totally different experiences.

So now I see that my focus needs to be on Jesus. It shouldn’t be on the obstacles. In this life we have so many. Jesus will never abandon us. He will always be a place of focus. So let us keep our eyes locked on Him and follow Him the way He intended. Not to take the obstacles away, just to help us get through them. We are so blessed to have this option. We are so blessed to be able to call on Jesus. We are so blessed to able to follow Him. There is such a difference in focusing on Jesus and focusing on the storms around us. Let us trust in Him.

Another thing my great grandma always said was to thank God every time you found a mushroom and to hope for another. “Thank you Lord, send us another one.”

Cheers to another season of mushroom hunting!

Blessings to you!

Darcie Faith Formation Ink Slingers Marriage Prayer

Stepping Out of the Boat

Stepping out of the Boat

Four months ago, my husband and I spent an entire weekend finally starting our business. I say finally because this is something we had dreamed of five years ago when we were about to get married. We loved the idea of working together and being our own bosses. Our skill sets, styles of work, and temperaments complimented each other. We planned it out and dreamed big. We were convinced we were meant to do this and disappointed when it didn’t happen. There were too many moving parts and it was clear it wasn’t the right time.

You can understand then, why we were on fire that fall weekend when the inspiration came back. In 48 hours, we had a name, logo, website and had started the legal paperwork. We thought it would be a good starting point to funnel my freelance work through. We planned to slowly build it up until there was enough work for my husband to leave his current job and come on full-time. But that wasn’t God’s plan. On that following Monday afternoon, my husband was unexpectedly let go from his job.

The business went to the back burner and the applying process for my husband took over. Until, we were struck by the seemingly crazy idea that what if, right now, was actually the right time to start our business? Right now when we have two little children, me only working part-time and still saving for a house – right now? We felt like Peter talking to Jesus from the boat, “Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water” (Mt. 14:28). Was God asking us to step out of the boat?

Of course, it was God’s providence that my husband was leaving for a pilgrimage less than a week later, that we had booked months before. We both prayed during that time, and we asked God what He wanted us to do. The same answer came up for us both: He wanted us to do it. Like Peter, we heard Jesus say, “Come” (Mt. 14:29).

So we stepped out of the boat. We started walking towards Jesus.

The confirmations kept coming. With clients knocking on our door, our business was starting to take shape. That’s not to say that the waves threaten us, but we resolved to keep our focus on Jesus. For we know what happened to Peter when he took his gaze off of Jesus – he started to sink. We know that if we start looking at the strong wind around us that we will get frightened. Our only focus has to be Jesus

This journey is still unfolding. I wanted to share what I’ve learned so far about God’s incredible goodness in this process.

How We Stepped Out

First, just because it isn’t the right time for something now, doesn’t mean there won’t be the right time for it in the future. When our attempt to start a business five years ago failed, I automatically thought God didn’t want it all. I was disappointed that my husband and I wouldn’t work together and that we’d never be our own bosses. I was even mad, why would God put that desire in our hearts and then not let us follow through? How often do we assume a one-time failure is a forever-failure? God wants to remind us that His timing is not our timing. It is precisely because we failed five years ago that we recognized the opportunity to start a business this time. Sometimes our “failures” are just God’s heads up for future plans. Those desires He placed in our hearts are meant to be fulfilled!

Second, we all want to give our control to God, but when the opportunity actually presents itself, we panic. I think it’s because God knows it’s when and how we least expect it. It digs deep and requires trust. Not the kind of surface trust, but that trust without words. That trust in which you literally trust Him with your life and everything in it. Do we trust Him or not? Are we in the boat or walking on the water? How often do we not trust Him because it’s “too crazy,” “too unknown,” or “letting go of too much”? God wants us to trust Him. Yes, we can say, “Jesus, I trust in you,” but He also gives us opportunities to show that we do.

Lastly, we chose the Infant of Prague as the patron for our business. There’s a nine-hour novena that’s very powerful (and short!) I found that praying for the same intention three times in a row for nine consecutive hours (27 times total) helped me figure out exactly what it is I’m asking for. This is the novena for you if you’ve had an intention that’s been feeling “stuck”!

We walk forward aware of Jesus’ words to Peter once he started sinking, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Mt. 14:31). Let us resolve to have faith and not doubt God’s marvelous plans for us.

Jesus, Infant of Prague, intercede for us!