“Mission Monday” 1: Ignatian Meditation

Welcome to my first post for “Mission Monday”- I will be linking up with my friend, Meghan on periodic Mondays to share more about our mission with the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

As missionaries, we have been trained  in different forms of prayer so that we may teach our students. Our hope and prayer is that these students then go and teach their peers in small group Bible studies and discipleship.

Daily prayer is crucial when we desire to have an intimate relationship with God. To put it plainly, we can’t have a relationship with someone we don’t talk to. At times I find myself praying more fervently when something in my life is stressful. I know God is grateful when I come to Him with anything but if you think about it- how sad would you be if a friend only came to you when something in their life was wrong and they never shared life with you in any other regard?

You probably wouldn’t consider that person an intimate acquaintance. God wants you to come to Him in all times. He wants to share life with you; to weep with you, to comfort you, to rejoice with you- He wants all of you.

ignatius

How beautiful is that truth! I’d like to share with you a simple form of prayer: Ignatian Meditation. This form of prayer derives from St. Ignatius Loyola. He had his leg blown off by a canon ball in battle and during his recovery he came to know Christ through reading about His life and the saints.

St. Ignatius Loyola went on to write the Spiritual Exercises. One of them being, Ignatian Meditation- in the simplest form it is prayer with Holy Scripture that invokes our imaginations.

The Bible, particularly the Gospels, offer us real encounters with Christ. Ignatian Meditation offers us a chance to place ourselves directly in the text. We can become the woman at the well or witness Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. By meditating on Scripture and imagining a scene we are giving Christ a chance to speak to us profoundly.

Are you interested in trying an Ignatian Meditation? I highly recommend Timothy M. Gallagher’s book, An Ignatian Introduction to Prayer, (I haven’t quite figured this all out so pretend the title is underlined) you can find it here. This book walks you through many meditations and does a great job at explaining the how to’s.

Do you have 10, 15, or 30 minutes today? Let’s start one together. Here are some steps to use to begin your meditation.

  1. Ask God to quiet your mind and distractions. (You can help this by praying in front of the tabernacle or in quiet place.)
  2. Ask God to bring His Word alive in your heart.
  3. Pick a Bible passage and read it three times (or whenever you feel that you know the story well.)
  4. Start that imagination. You can start with the scenery. What do you imagine the weather to be? How would the ground feel? Who is there? Are you a person in the story, or are you standing on the outside?
  5. Imagine the story and let Jesus speak to you.
  6. After your meditation you can thank God for anything you have received in prayer. Don’t worry- If you “feel” like nothing is different. That is okay! God is very pleased that you have spent time with Him and He is always working within us even when we don’t “feel” like He is. You can even journal about your experience.

Ignatian Meditation

Let’s use the Gospel from this weekend’s Sunday Mass: Mark 10: 46-52

Jesus heals the blind man. If you decide to do this meditation, I’d love to hear about your prayer in the comments. I’ll have you know that I did this meditation this weekend and while I was reading about the blind man calling out again and again my baby was screaming in his crib…trying to “self soothe.” God has a sense of humor.

I will now attempt to start a meditation in hopes that you finish it. Thanks for sharing life with me!

The air is dry. Dust pushes through the wind and when you swallow, your throat burns. You are sitting on the ground. You can feel the heat on your back…You are the blind man.

You hear rustling coming from the road. You hear shouts of excitement. “Jesus of Nazareth.” Your heart quickens. “Jesus of Nazareth.” He heals, He is the Son of God.

You hear the footsteps and shouts getting closer and fumble to stand up. You want to see. For too long you have been in darkness. You feebly gasp, “Jesus, son of David. Have mercy on me.” Softly at first, but more and more- from the depths of your body.

Jesus turns to you….

Donuts + Cake = Tummyache.

I should tell you- Nolan loves donuts. I mean really enjoys them. When he was little, he gave up donuts for Lent and on Easter Sunday proceeded to eat eight of them. I don’t think he knew what “gluttony” was at the time…

Our week/weekend was FULL of sweets. My husband, Nolan, turned 24 on October 22. He is blessed to share his birthday with St. John Paul II’s Feast Day. Double reason to celebrate! Our UF students were on the “Alpha” retreat this weekend so the celebration was a bit quieter!

James (our 4 month old son) and I thought it would be appropriate to make him a donut cake. We schemed with our missionary teammates and this happened…

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Nolan’s older brother, Greg, came to town to help us celebrate all weekend. James and I (okay only I did this) blew up balloons for our little apartment.

James 2 174 James 2 183 It’s all fun and games until…

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I also attempted to bake Nolan’s grandma’s infamous chocolate cake. “Grandma B’s Chocolate Cake.” It is delicious and extremely rich. I think I am getting close to the original but who can ever really bake just like grandma?

cake

We love spending time with family and truly cherish the time we get to spend with Greg. He also works for FOCUS, but as a Director of Collegiate Outreach. He oversees a couple of FOCUS campuses in the South East Region and is based in Orlando. He is such a great uncle and loves James so much. I think the love is reciprocated!

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We think James has hit his, “Four Month Sleep Regression” phase because he is waking up more frequently at night. James has always been pretty good with “self soothing” but it has now turned into him hysterically crying for awhile.

Nolan surprised me with a trip to Target and the gift of an Ergo baby carrier. We have been debating the pros and cons of buying one for awhile now and I am loving it! It was a sweet little surprise.

It will be really helpful when I am meeting with students- James will be able to peacefully sleep on me while my arms won’t be cramping from holding him. He is a 14lb. monster! We went for his 4 month check up this week and found out he is in the 90th percentile for his length! I think he gets this from me 😉

James is enjoying the Ergo because he gets to be strapped closely to me all day. I once read that a baby’s only goal is to, “get to mommy.” Nolan and I always laugh about this.

ergo

That goal is now a reality. I hope you have a fantastic week!

Pumpkin Spice Latte and a Slap in the Face

Contrary to popular belief- I don’t think the Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte is something to write home about…

I was able to critique this drink in the Orlando airport last Thursday on a spontaneous trip back to South Dakota. Was I planning on going home? No. It was a last minute idea presented to me at about 9:00 am on Thursday morning.

Meet Gerald the Giraffe.
Meet Gerald the Giraffe.

 

Was my baby the child on the plane that people wish they weren’t sitting next to? Yes. Good thing my neighbor was his grandmother. I spent my weekend diving into all things “Fall” and spending time with friends and family.

 

Bundled up with Papa.
Bundled up with Papa.
Quality time with Xavier.
Quality time with Xavier.

Other than receiving joy in spending time with my family; God continues to reveal that He is immensely seeking my heart. I was reminded of this while walking around small town Iowa on Friday afternoon.

The October wind cut through my denim jacket and ruffled James’ hair. There were yellow and burnt red leaves the size of my hand littering the ground gracing my ears with a familiar crunch.

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True Life. James doesn't like tummy time.
True Life. James doesn’t like tummy time.

I came upon gorgeous trees, parked my stroller and spent a couple of minutes taking in the view. The canopy of greens, reds, and yellows kept me company. My heart was so full. Bursting with joy. Jesus continues to woo me. He continues to fill my heart.

James and I continued on to the church that Nolan grew up at. I hauled the stroller up a couple of stairs and into a narrow doorway. The church was dark except for light streaming through the stain glass windows.

There I sat, again- but this time in front of the tabernacle- Jesus fully present in the Eucharist. James had fallen asleep at this point allowing me some quiet time to pray. I thanked God for the grace and love He had just shown me…

My mind and heart were buzzing in all of the ways that Jesus had shown me His love that day- and in the quiet of the church, Jesus spoke to my heart and said, “Why do you not see the way I love you every day? I have loved you forever.”

I should tell you that I’ve never heard God actually speak to me, it’s more like a thought that pierces my soul.  This message tore through me and I began to weep over my own ungratefulness.

These last two months in Florida I have really struggled to remain present. Constantly allowing my thoughts drift to “what ifs” or “what next.” Searching for things to do to fill me up.

But the truth is, Jesus has been grasping at my heart here in Florida. I am the one who keeps knocking it out of His hands. My prayer is that I may be “fully present” one day at a time. That I may allow God to love me and that I may be aware of how He is working in my life.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, NAB).

 

 

Jumping on the Blog Bandwagon

I have been wrestling with the idea to start a blog for a couple of months. My fear and deterrent of doing so has been that I would only show you the absolutely great parts of my life and in turn have my pride slowly kill me.

I find myself only wanting to welcome people into my life when it looks like I have it all together. My husband, Nolan, brought this up to me while I was ferociously vacuuming our apartment before having some students over. He looked at me and said, “This isn’t real.”

Now, what I’m not telling you is that right before vacuuming I spent the entire day deep cleaning every room. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t enjoy having things in order when people come over, but the extent of my own labor was coming from my own woundedness.

So my prayer here is that the Lord may humble me through this experience and that I may be very real with anyone who reads this. No facade that I have it all together. Let us simply share life together.

The tipping point in my decision to finally start a blog comes from two bloggers in particular and many friends.

Emily, over at Hines Home, has made me smile and laugh countless times. Her joy radiates through her blog and I am always eager to share in her life while drinking some coffee.

My next blogging friend that I really look up to is, Meghan. You can find her work at Our Life as First World Missionaries. Often times her posts speak directly to my own soul. Jesus has frequently used her blog to stir up a new prayer within my own heart.

The name of my blog, “A Shower of Roses” comes from St. Therese of Lisieux.  Her “little way” has had a huge impact on my own life. On her deathbed, St. Therese said, “My mission-to make God loved- will begin after my death. I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses.”

I pray that this blog gives you a glimpse into a the life of a family striving, and quite often stumbling, on a path of holiness. I hope that anyone who reads this is encouraged to see the simplest blessings of life.