christian

The Potter’s Hands

As I look on my life, I see the way the potter’s hands have shaped and molded me to be who I am today. I see the gentle way those hands guide me to form me. I see the times when the hands put slight pressure on me and times when they relaxed to let me breathe out. But more than that, I see the times that I, like the clay, fell apart in those hands, in the middle of them trying to turn me into a masterpiece. And each time I can point to my life or myself falling apart, those hands picked up all the pieces of clay and used them to reshape and mold me anew, to make a new masterpiece with the same clay that seconds before was in pieces on the ground.

Oh how loved we are that in the moments when life is dark, in the times when everything has seemingly fallen apart, those potter’s hands know that I was created from the beginning to be a masterpiece. Those hands know that they selected the exact amount and right type of clay for me to be what they envisioned me to be. The potter knows that by picking up the same clay, and reforming it, the most incredible masterpiece is still possible.

How beautiful it is to see that all the parts of me from the beginning will in the end become this masterpiece. How amazing to know that the clay I thought was broken just needed new life, a new form. How incredible to know that the same situation that made me crumble would also become the situation that would transform me.

Three years ago was one of those times when the clay fell apart. The clay of my life became dry and crumbled to pieces in the potter’s hands. I see now that the potters hands calmly gathered all the scattered pieces of clay and formed them into a ball. Then they put the ball on the potter’s wheel and began to guide and shape my life, using all the pieces that fell apart before, but having reworked them and rejoined them in a new way so that this time they would stick. With calm patience, those potter’s hands continued to work, bringing new life to the dried clay that had previously been there. They added water like the waters of baptism to strengthen me and make me new. As the hands continued to shape me into something new, they continually met me where I was.

May we all be potter’s hands to each other. In times when someone’s life has become dry or fallen into pieces, may we, like the potter, meet them where they are. Without trying to change the clay material that makes them who they are, may we help them gather all of who why are, put all the pieces of themselves into a ball and place it on the potter’s wheel and leave it to the potter to reconstruct new possibility of life in them. For through the potter’s hands, portals of hope are formed and new life is given. We don’t need to become something other than who were were originally created to be, we need only to place all of ourselves on the wheel and let the potter’s beautiful hands work to turn us into the masterpiece he envisioned us to be.

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A touch of prayer

Let me hold you in my heart today. Let me lift you up in prayer for a moment. Let me unite myself to you in this prayer for you that you may in this moment have comfort in knowing that you are not alone. Let this prayer touch your soul.

I can feel the connection to you through this prayer. It’s as though you are next to me. It’s as if we are holding hands and I am looking into your eyes, praying for you and with you. You may be far away but we are connected outside time, enveloped in the majesty of God’s great love when I hold you deep in my prayer. I can feel you breathe; I can feel your pain; I can feel your joy. I am connected to you in ways I cannot explain. It’s the beautiful connecting of two souls. We are wrapped up in each other, united in prayer, sitting before God together.

Prayer melts my hardened heart, calms the emotional storms, and makes straight the path to you. Although you are far away, in praying for you I am given the gift to just be with you in this moment. May this prayer of love that connects us through time and eternity sustain you today. I know that we will forever be connected, that our time together serves a purpose. May my prayer bring you comfort where you are. May my sitting in God’s presence while holding you in my heart give you the gift of knowing that He is near and He loves you through all things.

I may not be able to be with you right now, but when I pray for you, we are one in His love. For that moment in time we are united in unexplainable ways. Isn’t that the beauty of a prayer? The connecting of two souls to the Father.

Just be. Let my prayer of love allow you to just be with God for a moment. Let this prayer seep in through the scars on your soul that you may be healed from the inside out by the God who is love. My prayers are to be beside you in Christ. That through this prayer He would find you and find softness in your heart, an opening that he can enter to be with you and fill you.

With each breath as I hold you in prayer, I see you from deep in my soul. I see you in your joy, your pain, your struggle, your confusion, your temptation, and your doubt. I feel the torment you are experiencing and I ache to relieve you. I cannot take away the torment on my own, but may this prayer be united with the crucified Christ who knows torment and temptation so that He may give you comfort, rest, and strength. As I pray, I am running toward you, just to be with you in spirit. May my prayer bring you comfort even if you don’t know where the comfort came from. May my prayer bring you hope in the darkest of circumstances. May my prayer remind you that you are never alone.

You are never alone because I will always lift you up in prayer and I know that when I do He will be right by your side, ready to envelop you in His love, truth, and mercy if you even for a second open the doors. You are never alone because my prayers are that God would cover you with His love at all times. You are never alone because we are one body.

Oh the power of a simple prayer for another. That in that brief moment, the soul of another is touched, hears a whisper, and is not alone in the world. That for that time in prayer, that person’s soul experiences God. We may never know the power or impact of a simple prayer on someone else’s life, but we know that for a moment that person’s life was touched with love, grace, mercy, and charity. As I pray for you, you are surrounded by God, His angels, the saints, the faithful departed, and the faithful body of Christ on earth. In that moment you are touched by heaven which is a communion of love in it’s purest form. May we always bless those we meet and those we love with a touch of prayer.

The Eye of Betrayal

Betrayal – possibly one of the most difficult feelings to experience. We all know the feeling and hope it isn’t the ones closest to us that make us feel betrayed as those can cut the deepest. It’s a loss of trust, an unfulfillment of expectations, a deep pain. Sometimes it can feel inescapable. Trying to figure out how to respond is always the challenge. Betrayal brings with it feelings of sadness and anger, which, if left to simmer, can lead to resentment, fear, and hate. Betrayal is a storm that can consume us, but in the eye of the storm we can find peace, reclaim dignity, and respond with love.
  
When the storms of betrayal come, God calls us to simply be still. Our only job, our only mission, and our only desire should be to be still and let Him love us.  Let Him envelop us in His perfect love. Let him hold us in His arms, rest with Him, and let His love fill every part of our being to make us whole again. Let the love He pours out heal us. Do nothing else until He has filled you with His love. All we should do is find Him in the eye of the storm of betrayal.
  

Hold me Lord. I am on a boat, surrounded by the storm. The waves are crashing in and the winds are blowing the boat out of control. I cannot stop it. It overcomes me and I am lost in this spinning darkness with no escape. I cry out, begging for it to stop but the storm offers no relief. I am in pain, the pain of a deep betrayal that tears me apart from the inside out.
  
Then I see you lying in the boat – sleeping. Sleeping as though we are not at risk of death. I wonder how can you sleep through the painful winds that tear at me and the waves that consume me? How can you be at peace when there is so much sadness, anger, and pain? Let me be in your calm presence in this storm. Let me rest in your arms and be held in your peace. The storm outside this boat is set to destroy me but you are here with me. Let me rest in you. And you say to me
  
Don’t you know how precious you are? Don’t you know that I am always with you? Don’t you know that I am all you need? That when the storms in your life feel like waves crashing in and winds are blowing around you, I am the eye of the storm. I am the calm. I am the peace. I will sustain you. Don’t you know how much I love you? Come rest with me. Trust in me. Surrender the pain and the storm to me. Surrender the pain so I can heal you. I will protect you through this storm and see you to safety, back to the calm waters. Let your soul be still and do not worry.
  
Let the storm do as it wills. Let the waves crash and the winds blow. Let the storm tear the boat apart. Know that you cannot control the storm; you cannot control all situations, and you cannot control those in your life. Know that though the pain you feel may bring the storms of betrayal, I will be there, right in the middle of it, to give you rest.
  
I love you and you are mine. Let me love you in your pain. Let me make you whole. Let me heal you. Let your healing and your peace in me permeate the storm. Let my healing allow you to forgive and to extend my mercy. Rest and find comfort in my love and once you are filled with my healing, peace, and love let it overflow from your soul. For it is through extending my love and mercy that the stormy waters will calm and the winds will die down.
  
Graciously respond to the one who hurt you with peace and love. Do not give in to the temptation to fight the storm. Surrender the pain and unite it to the cross. I know the pain of betrayal. I know the temptation to respond with anger. I know the desire to dwell on the situation. I was betrayed by my friend and put to death because of that betrayal. I was tempted too. I know how hard it is to feel betrayed by one that you love. I was called to let love and mercy flow.
  
Respond with graciousness, love, mercy, and peace to bring healing from the storm. Look to me resting in the boat in the middle of the storm and unite with me so you may also be the peace in the storm of betrayal. You cannot control the storm. You cannot control the betrayal. You cannot control others. So pour out love for another as a gift.  By responding in love you extend the eye of the storm and you calm the angry waters. Each time you respond with love and mercy, let the calm in the eye of the storm of betrayal extend further. Let that person freely choose how to respond to your gift.They may refuse it or push you away. They may accept it. Do not be discouraged if your love is not received because either way I will fill you so that you can always know that I am enough. I am all you need. Find your peace, joy, fulfillment, and purpose in me and continue to fill yourself with it so that you can extend it further.
  
After resting with Him who is the eye of the storm, I have found my peace because I have found my worth and dignity in Him who loves me above all else. His love fills  me, makes me whole, and reminds me who I am. No matter the storm, no matter the pain, no matter the betrayal, His healing love is always enough. His love prompts me to stand up to face the storm that surrounds me, lifting up my arms to the heavens saying “Lord I surrender this all to you. Take care of everything.” I face the pain I feel, look at the person who I feel betrayed by and simply say “I love you. I love you in and through all things. I forgive you. I am praying for you.”
  

“…stay in the boat in which our Lord has placed you, and let the storm come. You will not perish. It appears to you that Jesus is sleeping, but let it be so. Don’t you know that if He sleeps, His heart vigilantly watches over you?” – St. Pio of Pietrelcina

You Deserve….

I read and hear a lot of people talk about what “you deserve” in a relationship. When these things are said, it is implied that if your spouse is not doing these things for you currently, it must not be real or the relationship should be questioned and possibly ended. I disagree.

You deserve to be treated with all the respect, dignity, love, and care in the world. Absolutely. Each person on this earth has immense dignity and worth because that comes from God. We were all created in His image.

You deserve flowers for no reason, thoughtful gestures, kisses just because, and things to make you smile. Some days. Some days you could probably do more to love your spouse.

You deserve for your spouse to always make you happy? Well that’s just an impossible request.

You deserve a lot and are worth more than you can imagine.

But when did marriage become about what you deserve? When did marriage become so selfish? When did we start believing that if you aren’t treated the way you feel you deserve to be treated that the marriage has failed?

On the days you feel like you aren’t treated how you should be, how often do you look in the mirror and honestly ask yourself if you are treating your spouse in the way they deserve to be treated?

What a humbling question. If answered honestly I have always found there was more I could do. My husband is also a child of God who was worth God giving his only son to die for him. My husband is so loved by God that God forgives him every time he fails. My husband is worth Jesus leaving 99 sheep to go out and find him. My husband is worth so much and means everything to God.

Do I really treat him in that way? Do I really let my husbands great worth sink into my soul? And do my thoughts, actions, and words reflect and remind him of his worth?

I find that in the moments when I am upset because I felt like I wasn’t treated the way I deserved, I could equally find ways I failed to treat my spouse as he deserves. So many of those times if I am honest with myself, I can see how selfish of a response that is. Although I deserve the world, although my God died for my salvation, although I am worth everything to Christ, I must look to God for my worth and be patient with my spouse. I must be willing to humbly accept that we will never be able to love each other with the same perfection that God loves us but we can and always should strive to love each other as selflessly as possible, to breathe life into each other, and to keep each other’s worth and dignity in God’s eyes at the forefront of our minds. And that is what the marriage is – a journey together to explore God’s love by learning how to see and love your spouse as God does.

Marriage is not the journey toward being treated how you feel you deserve – it is the journey toward learning how to love your spouse in the way God says they deserve to be loved, which is unconditionally.

A Loyalty Tested

Loyalty is deeply tested in marriage like Peter’s loyalty to Jesus in the Passion. Not only our loyalty to God  but our loyalty to our spouse. During the marriage vows, we promise to be true to our spouse in good times and bad, in sickness and health. What happens when that promised loyalty is tested? Peter stood before Christ and said he would never deny him; but Jesus knew that Peter would deny him because the spirit is willing but the flesh is week. Like Peter, during the vows we stand before Christ and vow to never deny our spouse, to be true to them, no matter what comes later in life. How easy is it to say those words yet how hard at times to live them out, to deny the temptations of the flesh and uphold the calling of the spirit.

How often do we try to fight for our flesh’s desires, our “happiness,” or what we feel we deserve? How often does our flesh pull us away from our spouse, from our vow to be loyal and true? It can happen through small glances at others, jealousy, affairs, disengagement, avoidance, or so much more. It can happen in small ways but each time that loyalty is tested in marriage and the weakness of the flesh falls into the traps and temptations Satan sets, the divide and distance between spouses grows larger.

Like Peter, we mean with all our hearts that we will be loyal to our spouse through good and bad times, but when the trials come, when we are forced to choose in difficult situations, the flesh puts up a good fight in the battle.

It is easy to look at Peter in the story of the Passion and think “how could he deny Jesus, his best friend and his teacher?” We all hope that if we were put to that same test we would have the strength, courage, and faith to proudly remain loyal and faithful to Jesus. I think in our marriages we have that test given to us daily. We are to love our spouse as Christ modeled love. When we deny our spouse, even in the smallest of ways, when our loyalty is tested and we fall to the flesh, we not only deny our spouse, we deny Christ in them. For Christ said whatever you do to the least of these you do to me. Does that not also apply to how we treat our spouse? When we deny or spouse or fail to remain loyal, are we not in that moment denying Christ just as Peter did? Are we not succumbing to the weakness of the flesh despite the fact that like Peter we said before God that we would not deny him?

As we go into this Holy Week, we have an opportunity to examine our lives and where we can relate to Peter in the story of the Passion. I think as married people, we can so easily relate to him in how we choose to either deny or remain loyal and faithful to our spouse, our vows to them, and Christ in them in each moment of every day.

Happy or holy marriage

Nobody was created just to have a happy marriage.  Men and women were created to win the happiness of heaven
Fr. Donald Miller

How often do we look to our marriage, to our spouse, to make us happy? How often do we feel like our marriage has failed if we are not happy in that moment? When those moments come it brings up the question – what is the purpose of marriage?

I have heard so many people tell me that if their marriage isn’t making them happy then maybe it wasn’t meant to be and they should search for happiness elsewhere and find someone else who makes them feel happy. 

If marriage is to be the thing to make me happy it is destined for frustrations. No person, no thing, can make us happy all the time. That is a crazy expectation to put on your spouse and one that no person could ever live up to or achieve. At the altar the promise is “for better or for worse” recognizing that there will be hard times and trials in every marriage. So if we know that all marriages won’t bring happiness all the time, what is their purpose? 

The purpose is your path to holiness and heaven where you will be eternally happy. It is to help your spouse grow in holiness and be in heaven with God some day. It is standing by your spouse through the triumphs but also through the trials. It is praying for your spouse and gently encouraging and supporting them in their faith. 

If we look at marriage in this way and with this purpose, it can never fail. We are never done in our faith journey. There are always opportunities to pray for your spouse and to support them in growing closer to God. When marriage is viewed as your path to holiness for you and your spouse, it may be tried and it can never fail, never be broken, and there is no reason to try to find your path to salvation in someone else because your journey with your spouse to holiness never ends. 

What an honor to be called as married persons to not only grow closer in individual holiness but also to play a huge role in the holiness and salvation of your spouse.