a story book life?

You know that cliche analogy that compares our lives to that of a chapter book? The many events that unfold in our lives can be likened to new chapters, filled with exciting adventures, new beginnings, tragedies, unexpected events, life, loss, despair and hope.

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I think this analogy works quite well, and over the past years, I’ve found myself starting several new chapters along the way. For the most part, I’ve been “writing” my chapter book since early adulthood ( well co-writing… I mean, God is the ultimate author and I’m doing my best to follow His plan). I’ve played the leading lady in this exciting novel of life, and generally speaking, my decisions have dictated the direction of the plot and adventure. It’s been a great and wonderful journey, and I’m so happy with the way things have unfolded for the most part….

But what about the chapters that we didn’t choose for?

What about those events that are thrust upon our story, that we never asked for, never planned on, never wanted? Those chapters that completely mess up the plot that we had anticipated and hoped for?

Of course, Covid would be the easiest example at the moment. But I also mean those personal crises that we all face throughout our lifetime. The moments that bring us to our knees, have us questioning God and His plans, have us searching for answers yet finding none.

I’m in one of those chapters at the moment, and it’s been extremely hard to accept. I’m going through a physical diagnose that I never imagined, which is causing me immense pain and discomfort most hours of the day. It’s something that I never dreamed would ” happen to me” and something that makes me angry at times. I’m sure if I asked you reading this, you could think of a time in your life that was similar. Perhaps it wasn’t physical but emotional, social, psychological etc.

So what now? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answer. I think that sometimes in life there are chapters that we just can’t disappear from. Where we can’t devise some amazing escape plan, because we have to live and fight through this chapter to the end.. .I’m trying to stay hopeful, stay faithful and stay positive. I do know that God is in control, even though it feels like I’m slipping from His hands at times. I know He doesn’t want our suffering, and that this pain can be redemptive and it can bear an eternal fruit.

To all of you suffering right now: I know I can’t take it away. Nor can anyone else. But I want to validate what you are going through and say that I’m sorry you are going through this. Remember that you ARE a beloved son or daughter of the King. You don’t have to force yourself to be happy when your hurting, but keep the hope and remember that this too, shall pass.

Much love,

Jenny

wise words in unexpected places 📕

So I’m just finishing up the first book in the Lord of the Rings series and loving it! If you enjoyed the movies, you HAVE to read the books. I would argue that the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien far outshine the Hollywood movies.

Anyway- last night I came across this passage that struck me;

“The world is indeed full of peril, and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all the lands love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater“ ( p. 454, Fellowship of the Ring)

The quote is from a secondary, less important character, so I won’t focus on who said it, but rather what was said. Doesn’t this sound like our times? Peril, dark places, grief…. I have to think of recent elections, disunity, extreme weather emergencies, hateful speech, pandemics, radical movements, angry protests, evil laws being passed…

Yet even in the darkest of times, there are things that are fair and love that is greater. Though these words come from an elf in a storybook, they are profoundly true today. We can fix our eyes on the dark, chaotic and oppressive events, or we can seek out the beautiful, lovely, life giving and authentic events that continue to take place.

Perhaps a good question to ask ourselves is: What do I choose to see in the world each day ? Am I contributing to the darkness, or do I shine like the stars that give light in the night ?

past the facade

It’s wise not to judge,

What we see from another,

Their faults and their flaws,

Perhaps merely a cover.

Of crosses they bear,

Heavy burdens that they hold,

Things they can’t control,

Many stories left untold.

May our hearts grow soft,

As we look at each other,

Showing tenderness,

In the lives of our brother.

monochrome photo of city during daytime

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the very bad, terrible, no good day.

Is it just me, or does it seem like a lot of people right now are going through a hard time?

It’s like that kids book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst on repeat. Ugh. And while this Alexander kid in the story had a pretty rough go, I feel like the adult version can be a lot more bleak. Sometimes I just wish it was gum in my hair, no toy in my cereal, or no one liking my painting in class…

I can name quite a few people in my own circle (me included), who just seem to be handed a very crappy set of cards these days. Whether it’s external circumstances, or things in their inner life being brought up, they are swimming upstream.

adult art conceptual dark

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Sometimes it’s really a fight to stay positive, focus on the good, and resist the temptation to despair or give in to the unhappiness. I read a blog today and she posted one of my favorite bible verses!  I really needed to read it today. I think it’s worth keeping in our hearts, especially in these troubling times.

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”- Romans 12:2

Yessss! We are not to be conformed to this world. The world right now is preaching a lot of stuff that can lead us astray. Money will bring happiness, the rich and famous are more happy, perfection looks like a beauty blogger with the perfect body, you need to have impressive material goods to show off on your Instagram account, life is about cool holidays and eating fun food and documenting them on social media.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these things in and of themselves are great; taking care of our bodies, enjoying traveling (which I love to do!), and celebrating the gifts God has given us through food and experiences. But so often these things become the ultimate goal.

However, God calls us to renew our minds, to discern with Him, what is good and acceptable and perfect! The joys that He has to offer are so much greater than any mega yaht, beach body smoothie mix, perfect instagram worthy scene and amount of money sitting in our bank accounts.

God wants our ultimate HAPPINESS and that is found in Him alone. Even as I write this, I am not necessarily “feeling” completely happy in Him. But I also know that this is true despite any feelings I might have. Even in these darker seasons, God is still rooting for our happiness. It might not come with bright snazzy lights, and warm fuzzies, but it’s going to be a beautiful final product. I guess were like that clay that the Potter is working on. It might be messy, unclear, and a little bit uncomfortable as things are moved around, but that final masterpiece is going to be worth saving and treasuring!

red lighted candle

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So if you find yourself a little like Alexander on your no good, terrible, horrible, bad day; its alright! Seasons come and they GO, and your not alone. Right around you is someone else who is suffering, working through stuff, and figuring out life just like you. Pray for them, and they can pray for you! Let’s continue to renew our minds in the truth that is of God and His Kingdom!

 

Gardener with a twist.

Happy Easter Everyone!

After a beautiful Easter Triduum, way too many Cadbury Mini Eggs, and a few days away (well mostly away) from the internet, I want to respond to the Gospel reading from yesterday. I find this reading extremely powerful, and it reveals so much about our identity as humans, and God’s plan of love. Let me just quickly quote a few verses from Scripture where Mary Magdalene is weeping at the tomb and encounters two angels who ask:

“They said, “Woman, why are you weeping?” “They have taken my Lord away,” she replied, and I don’t know where they have put him”. As she said this she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, though she did not recognise him. Jesus said, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” Supposing him be the gardener, she said, “Sir, if you have taken him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will go and remove him”. Jesus said, “Mary!” She knew him then and said to him in Hebrew, “Rabbuni!”- which means Master”- John 20:13-16

 

Talk about confusion at the tomb! Mary comes to grieve the loss of Jesus, only to find his body missing and two angels instead. To top it off, she encounters the gardener who also asks the same question as the angels, “Woman why are you weeping?”. If that was me, I would be getting pretty annoyed that everyone was avoiding the fact that Jesus’ body was missing!

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“Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? “- 1 Corinthians 15:55

It isn’t until the gardener says, “Mary”, that she “knew him” (verse 16). Jesus reveals himself to her, by calling her name. In this simple and intimate moment, Mary is overwhelmed by the love and presence of her Master and Saviour. It was not only her name that he knew, but her whole heart. Though physically changed, the heart and power, love and mercy of God, reveal itself to Mary through the Risen Christ.

Jesus knows us, like he knew Mary. This isn’t just a heartwarming story about Mary encountering her Master. This is a story that is meant to mirror our encounter with the Risen Christ.

Very often, Jesus comes to us in unexpected ways. Perhaps we are looking for him in the wrong tomb. Who are the gardeners in our own lives? Where and through whom, does Jesus want to reveal himself to us? Why are we still weeping?

The time for mourning, the time for hopelessness, the time for condemnation is over. Jesus Christ truly conquered and defeated death and sin. This gives us every reason to celebrate. Even in the midst of suffering, pain and darkness. Mary Magdalene could rejoice that the Risen Christ, by calling her name, knew the depths of her heart. He had not abandoned or forsaken her, but rather redeemed her, and all of humankind from sin and death. Let us celebrate this great truth today, with joy!

 

 

 

Hope in the flames

Wow. I praise God that something beautiful could come out of something so tragic. God is real. He is moving. He is thee sign of hope in our dark times. The Cross is victory. The Holy Cross of Jesus saves! What a beautiful sign on this Holy Week.

Let’s pray for the conversion of hearts through this great sign and miracle.

Chained to our Choice.

In light of the recent abortion laws passed in New York, I find myself struggling with how to react. With an angry, devastated, and confused heart, I bring my prayers to the Lord and his Blessed Mother- asking that they change the hearts of stone, into hearts of flesh.

 

We’re free to choose, yet

Chained to our choices.

Nothing to loose, but

Can’t shake the voices.

With pink lights aglow,

The papers all signed,

Smiles on their faces,

 To kill humankind.

Does freedom now reign,

In body and soul?

Women empowered,

And made to be whole?

Our hearts are aching,

So we ask and pray,

That your will be done,

And all find their way.

 

adorable baby baby feet beautiful

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Come to the Cross

gold and black crucifix

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“By the light of faith then, rise above every sort of selfish love. And to attain the most perfect love, as I’ve told you before, set before your mind’s eye Christ crucified and the indescribable charity he has demonstrated for you by shedding his blood with such blazing love” – St. Catherine of Siena

Today the Church celebrates the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, and what an important feast this is! Its funny, today I was standing in line at the pharmacy and the pharmacist was wearing a crucifix necklace. I mean #1- I hardly ever see people wearing such a bold and beautiful statement of faith (which inspired me to wear mine again!)  and # 2- so great to have this little wink from Jesus on His great feast day!

In the reflection today in the Magnificat, its a short excerpt from St. Catherine of Siena (which I quoted above) and she goes on to say, ” This must be your study: to love God in truth and your neighbour as yourself; to be humble and obedient; patiently to suffer pain, hurt, disdain, and abuse...In times of struggle and weariness, run with this light of holy faith to embrace the most holy cross, and there put your hope confidently in the Blood of Christ crucified…”  

I find this text so life-giving. Its a call to receive and share love in the world. It’s a reminder that although we feel pain, grief and suffering, its shall not pull us down. The cross says one thing; I love you. This love is so real and raw. It is not a fairytale love that sugar coats life. It is not a love that eliminates suffering. But it is a love that can heal our souls. It is a love that can comfort our hearts. It is a love that would conquer death and sin. Jesus on the cross is love. He loves us.

The Lord invites us to give back this kind of love to our neighbour. To endure hardship, to forgive, to be merciful, to die to our selves. Surely not from our own strength, but from the hope and strength of the holy cross of Christ.

I think todays feast is simply an invitation: to receive the love which was poured forth from the cross, and to let it transform us! That is my sincere hope for you and me.

God bless !

It’s okay, if your not okay

Whilst reflecting upon my blog (which I have severely neglected these past few months), it dawned on me that I avoid writing on any topics which are uncomfortable, challenging, dark, painful or difficult. This is not because my life is exempt from these circumstances, but rather because I choose to focus more on the positive. I make a conscious effort to dwell on truths which are uplifting, life-giving, joyful and beautiful (there might be a theme to that one…!). On a whole, I would say that this motivation for writing is great. While these blog posts leave me feeling happy and my readers happy, I feel the need to acknowledge more of our human experience; the suffering, the searching, the persevering, the stretching/growing, the questioning, the adapting, the hoping. I think it’s about searching for beauty in the darkness, despair and deep waters.

The death of my Grandma this summer has played a huge part in how I look at loss, sadness and darkness. A few weeks before she died, my parents brought her to live with us at home. Home care nurses would visit each day, administer her medications and support our family with medical care. In these days, my vivid, intelligent, sassy, lovable Grandma faded into a woman who was frail, weak and vulnerable. To watch this unfold was extremely painful for our family and for my Grandma herself. So many people choose to put the elderly away in a care home or consider euthanasia, because it’s easier.  Death is painful. Death hurts. Often our first reaction is to avoid these emotions and run in the opposite direction. I am guilty of this too; not wanting to feel anything that isn’t pleasant, that hurts, that pushes us out of our comfort zone, that causes us to truly feel something.

Although this experience of death was painful, it brought my family together. Strained relationships were healed, we were united in prayer, we came together to assist our Grandma with acts of love and service. I could honestly feel a deeper unity among my immediate and extended family (mini miracle). If we would have run away from the suffering, we would never had this opportunity to grow closer, grow in love and grow in respect of one another.

Life is hard. Sometimes you are handed a set of cards you didn’t bargain for. Lots of times, your put in positions that aren’t ideal, or leave you feeling completely unqualified. You might feel like your swimming upstream, treading water in a tsunami, walking in the night…

But:

We are not alone. We are children of a Father who loves us unconditionally. Jesus Christ came on the earth to be our Light. The picture below is the Divine Mercy Image- Jesus is surrounded by darkness (sin, despair, sadness, grief, death), but His merciful and loving heart is what radiates. On the cross, Jesus was killed for sins he did not commit. He died for the entire world, so that we might be redeemed in Him. The story does not end here. He did not leave humanity in the darkness. He was raised from the dead on the third day. He defeated death and conquered sin! This gives us every reason to rejoice. This is why we can find beauty in the sadness. This is why it’s okay to be not okay. Even if everything around us is failing, we have trust in He who is constant, merciful, loving, and lighting the path for our feet.

 

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     Divine Mercy Image: Jesus I Trust in You