Thursday, February 25, 2010
“Do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds in the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they? Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span? Why are you anxious about clothes? Learn from the way the wild flowers grow. They do not work or spin. But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was clothed like one of them. If God so clothes the grass of the field which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith? So do not worry and say, ‘What are we to eat?’ Or ‘What are we to drink?’ or ‘What are we to wear?’ All these things the pagans seek. Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides” Mt 6:25-33.
God is worthy of our trust. He desires complete dependence on Him. God does not ask for more of us, he asks for all, for everything. He is our everything. We are committed to depend on God with our worries, our finances, our fleshy desires, our passions, our attitudes, our fears, our joys and all that we are.
We can and should rely on God for EVERYTHING! He will provide us with all we need. I am a missionary completely relying on His providence for me to survive day to day and honestly majority of the time I feel VERY spoiled. I am showered everyday with His love, in my prayer, in my community, in my prayer partners and benefactors, in all that surrounds me. I am comforted by the Consoler not only when receiving consolation but even in the suffering because Joy is in my heart. I never go hungry. I have a warm bed with a roof over my head in a perfect trailer. I have a family that loves me and is constantly supportive and praying for me. I experience His glories revealed everyday because my eyes are opened to recognizing Him in everything. True joys come from His love not from material things and when we depend on Him, He will provide us with those joys. GOD IS SO GOOD!!!
So we still had thirty minutes and we were wondering where to go to pray with people. I immediately thought of the RaceTrac gas station because if you walk up to people while they are pumping gas they can't run away! (I know we cornered them but we really wanted to love on people!) So we walk up to the first guy, Tony Flores, (yep same last name as Paola) and began by introducing ourselves and asking if he needed prayers for anything. He said no but we later learned that he has a son who is a missionary in LaGrange, Georgia, he has an adopted grandson from Guatemala (same as Paola) and he works with the Census Bureau (he offered us jobs on the spot for both being bi-lingual). I think Toni needed a lot of prayer even if he didn't think so. Prayer does not just have to be in times of dire need. God is ALWAYS listening and as the gospel this morning said, "Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open to you."
After we said goodbye to Toni, who really needed to get back to Atlanta, we sat back in the car and were trying to decide if we should go or wait for one more person. We decided to wait and God called us to Tracy. Tracy got out of her car and her sweet father went inside to pay for the gas. We walked up to Tracy and introduced ourselves and asked if we could pray for her for anything. She immediately got so excited. She couldn't believe that two young girls were actually at a gas station just wanting to pray and love on people. She immediately started telling us about her mom who just had knee surgery so she went to pick up her dad to go shopping. Her dad suffers from alzheimer and is slowly fading. She asked us to pray for continued strength for her to love her parents in their time of most need. SO SELFLESS! She was so thankful and then she said, "You know I ALWAYS go to Ingles to get gas but for some reason my father insisted we come to RaceTrac. God was leading me to you guys. Thank you for your prayers and your love." WOW GOD!!!! She NEVER goes to RaceTrac and we just happened to be there...God of the details or WHAT!? Divine appointment or what?!
The other missionaries had some amazing encounters too. Hayley and Sara prayed with a woman in a liquor store and another one in a lingerie shop who both cried and were so thankful. We are called to Love people with Christ's love. How often do you have the opportunity to encounter people each day and to pray with them and to love them? Everytime you walk into Wal-mart, a restraunt, a school...smile at someone. See how their day is going. You never know what a simple selfless gesture will do for someones day. Ask God for divine appointments in your day.
Thank you God for making us bold, for giving us strength that is so beyond our abilites.
Monday, February 22, 2010
To begin, my sister Rebecca has an amazingly beautiful soul. For about a year now I have been witnessing her faith grow into more then just a sunday obligation but into a relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everytime she blogs or tells me about an encounter she had with God, I start crying. It makes me so joyful!!! And the feeling will never fade. Rebecca, continue to let your life be God's song...you make Him proud EVERYDAY!
I was also able to encounter so many wonderful people this weekend. (People bring me lots of joy) Deacon Nick Johnson, who went through training with my dad, was here this weekend. I have not seen him in so long but he is always fun to be around. It was great to hang out with him and catch up. I was also able to watch the Korean Martyrs rap the Our Father and to go to mass with them. YES, in Korean! I love being part of such a Universal Church!!! They sang the Our Father so beautifully.
This was the third weekend that St. Thomas Aquinas has been here this year. They had a little bit smaller of a group so I was able to get to know some of the core members better. They probably come in second favorite to the SJN core! They really do have a strong group in service for the Lord to give glory to him everyday! It's such a blessing to be a witness to it. And I found out that they are all diehard Lost fans! YEAH!!! We were all discussing our theories...only 14 episodes left!
The missionaries were able to be outside all day on Saturday working on the mountain biking trail for summer camp. I had yet to work on the trail and I really prayed that morning that I would find some joy in doing that work project (I'm not a big fan of pruning and gardening so I was not too excited about this mountain biking trail) but it ended up being such a beautiful day and a lot of fun. The Benzinger boys all came out to help and it was fun to watch Chris take down a tree single handedly (sp?) hahah what a macho! I really missed Mark and Sara this weekend though because they were away on a job interview and discernment retreat!
Finally, if you do not know my sisters and I are training for a half marathon at the end of April. I was able to have some really enjoyable runs this weekend because the sun was shining so beautifully.
All in all these experiences all brought me so much joy and non of them were material things. They won't fade. They will be in my memory forever! WHAT BLESSINGS God is showering on me so simply. I just need to open my eyes more because blessings and joys like this happen everyday.
"When your blessings become burdens something in you needs to change"
Prayer Requests: Pray for the Benzingers to find a moral Haitian Lawyer to help with the adoption.
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Last year for Lent I was in Spain studying abroad. Those forty days were probably the most beautiful of my life. I began to go on dates with God (walks in the parks, coffee, etc.). I read Hid Word more. I went on a pilgrimage to Fatima, walking 20miles through the beautiful countryside of Portugal with 700 young adults and only 3 who spoke english. I experienced mass in 5 different languages. I spent Holy Week in Rome and had stantions of the Cross with the pope on Good Friday. He was showering His love upon me and I received it with open arms. I fell in love with Him and truly realized it was because He loved me first.
I had no idea what He would want for me this Lent. He has been drawing me deeper into His love and romancing me for the past year, but I know there are always ways to go deeper.
So Lent began yesterday and I still was praying into these forty days, these days of preparation. This morning in the Gospel reading Jesus spoke so clearly to me what this Lent (and the rest of my life) would hold for me. God showered me with His love last Lent and it is now my turn to respond.
Luke 9:23-24 says, "If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will save it."
I am losing my life. I am returning His freely given love by freely giving myself to Him. I will choose DAILY to take up my cross and to surrender to His will for my life. I have not stopped smilig today about the thought of losing my life to Him (whose hands could be better?) A complete surrender. A complete dying to self. It makes so much sense that this is what He is calling me to do not just for these next forty days but everyday. Mark Hart pointed out today in our conference call that Luke's Gospel is the only one that says DAILY take up your cross. This is my journey and hopefully all of our journeys to DAILY pick up our cross and follow Him. I want to die more to myself everyday so that I can live more for Him.
Suggestion: read "Fullfillment of all desire" by Ralph Martin....SOOOO GOOD!!!
Prayer: Please pray for the Holy Spirit's movement of LIFETEEN that we can continue to be obedient and Docile to the Holy Spirit!
Prayer Requests: My brother, Mark Kowalski's, mom has lupus and is unable to leave the house. Please pray for her healing and strength.
Sunday, February 14, 2010
Mark talked about three major points: God is love, how we love God, and how we are to Love thy neighbor with God's love. 1 John 4:7-21 Here are some short points from his talk.
God is Love- 1 Cor. 13: 4-8- most people know this Bible Verse but it is explaining everything that God is because God IS LOVE! Why do we continually turn away from this Love? It is so amazing! God is NEVER finished which means LOVE is never finished. Love (God) is self-giving. He literally gave himself to us through Jesus. Shouldn't we do the same and give completely of ourselves?
Love of God- Be obedient and take up your cross. "Love is uniting of our will to God's" St. Therese...the closer we grow to Him, the more we desire to do His will and begin to loose our fears of what His plan may hold. This is exactly where I am in my journey with falling more deeply in love with Him. I am surrendering to His plans for my life and fear is no longer taking over. I am at peace with His control of my life because I am convicted of His love for me.
Love of thy neighbor- We cannot love our neighbor without loving God first. If you hate your neighbor then you hate God because God is in your neighbor. Choose to LOVE them because all people long to be noticed, accepted, and loved. It is also important to recognize that we can not love each other without first spending time with Jesus because otherwise we do not know what real love is (importance of my morning prayer). We can not create the feeling of love because it is a gift from God. I see so many people around me who think that they are in "love" but they think of love as just a feeling and when that feeling fades then they leave. But Love is so much more and greater than just a feeling that the world describes it as(Read Heaven Song). God longs for us to experience with each other the Love He shares with us. Accept His love and your ideas of Love with change. I have been convicted of such a truth in knowing His love that I love people in a completely different way. I look at my brothers and sisters souls and see how God desires them and so I long for them to grow closer to Him. I Love them where they are at with God's love pouring out from me because I do not have love to give them except through Christ. When we don't rely on God, we rely on humans who are not big enough to fill our needs. Love is not always easy. It comes with sufferings and hardships also know as the cross where we truly witness the difficulties of choosing to Love people even when we don't seem worthy. We must choose this love though. Jesus chose to wash Judas' feet even though He knew what Judas was going to do. Loving people gives them dignity. This idea reminds me of Stephen and Erik who are in Haiti right now. They went there with the sole purpose to love people and in loving them there are giving the people dignity.
"What really matters in life is that we are loved by Christ and that we love Him in return. In comparison to the love of Jesus, everything else is secondary. And, without the love of Jesus, everything is useless." Pope John Paul II
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Back in October myself and seven other missionaries helped put on a retreat for the Holy Redeemer 8th grade class. Middle school retreats usually run a little different than high school ones. They need to be really high energy and a lot of interaction so needless to say I remember being very nervous going into that retreat on how to bring God to these pre-teens. But the retreat went great. The schedule went off without a hitch. The talks and small group discussions went well and I truly fell in love with those kids.
Fast forward to Monday when we went to visit them. Again I had that nervous feeling that they could care less that we were coming, "O just those missionaries again...sweet I get to miss class!" was what I thought they would be thinking. But God showed me just how HE brought himself into these kids lives! They were so excited to see us. Sara's group literally ran each other over to see who could get to her the fastest. I was blown away by how much they loved us. We met with our small groups and began talking about the retreat, what they liked and remembered. It was a really amazing and special time just to catch up with them. I asked if they remembered anything we talked about...blank stares. I thought to myself "why are they so excited to see us if they didnt even get anything out of the retreat?" But as we were leaving the girls would not let us go, some even cried and begged us to come soon. The boys wouldnt stop laughing and punching each other. I was so moved and I realized then that it did not matter what we said to these kids back in October but it mattered to them how we LOVED them. They felt LOVED by us. They remembered that LOVE and wanted to keep feeling it that is why they were so excited to see us.
God made us and calls us to LOVE. That is our sole purpose on earth because once we love with Christ's love everything flows from that. All these kids needed was LOVE and God worked through us to give them that!
I shared this thought with the missionaries in the car and we all kind of looked at each other and said "Do we even remember what we talked about? hahaha"
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Sunday night we spent the night at my house in atlanta and watched the superbowl! We stayed in Atlanta because we went to visit the 8th grades that we ran retreats for earlier this year in October. The visits were so blessed and although the kids are struggling with a lot of things, they couldnt stop hugging us and some of the girls even cried when we were leaving because they just loved having us around. I truly realized that these kids probably dont remember a thing we talked about in our talks (heck I dont even think the missionaries would remember what they talked about) but they do remember the way you LOVED them. That is why we are created to LOVE with Christ's love because people remember those feelings!
Prayer Requests: Pray for all teens preparing for Confirmation as well as all 8th graders preparing for high school.
Friday, February 5, 2010
"Lord prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true."
Prayer Requests: Please pray for Rickey, my sisters father in law, He is being let out of the hospital but he was having some heart problems. Also please pray for my missionary brother Erik Martin and a good community friend, Stephen Smith, who are on their way to Haiti.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
We have just recently started studying Pope Paul VI's Evangeli Nuntiandi (Evangelizing in the Modern World). The Pope writes about the churches call to spread the Gospel, to live the Gospel, to tell of the kingdom of God and Salvation, and I feel that this is my way to answer that call. "Those who received the Good News and who have been gathered by it into the community of salvation can and must communicate and spread it." I may not be able to have phone conversations with everyone or write emails to everyone but I still want to tell all of the Glory of God.
This morning in morning prayer the reading from Romans 8:18 said "The sufferings of the present are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed IN us, " not just TO us but IN us. He doesn't just show us, we take an active roll in His Glory. I want Him to use me to reveal His glory.
I might even use this blog as an outlet for struggles or a way to get prayer requests out. I just want to invite people into the mission, into the call to spread the Gospel, into God's glory!
It will be a way for me to discuss my own personal formation with what I am reading and glory stories from the people around me. A way to express everday life as a missionary and life living in community! I am constantly being reminded of His love so why not share it!
God, You are glorious and beautiful. I long to live everyday to bring You glory. Use me to reveal Your glory to those You desire.
Prayer Requests: David and Olguin, two orphans in haiti who might be adopted by the Benzingers (a family in my community in case you do not know them) Please Pray for Gods will to be done!