Monday, 21 October 2013


After finally deciding that I was not actually being called to the type of pro-life ministry that I had been feeling drawn to for so many months, the Lord got the last laugh. An "in-town" friend called a few weeks ago. She knew of a pregnant teenage girl who needed housing STAT and my friend was wondering if we would be willing to give this girl a room in our home.

Before the question was even out of my friend's mouth, I interrupted breathlessly...."Yes!" It was only a few minutes later that I realized that I should probably consult my husband about a decision this big. So I did. He was open to the idea. We checked with our daughters. They both loved the idea. (It turned out that they thought we would be adopting Maggie and that she would share our last name, be their forever big sister and live with them always. They were a wee bit crestfallen when these misunderstandings were cleared.)

Maggie was originally planning to move in with us last Thursday. At the last minute, some of the details of her situation changed and the need for housing was not as urgent, so she simply came over for a visit instead. She visited again today. She may need to come stay with us starting at the beginning of next month, or after Christmas, or not at all. There's a lot that is still up in the air. But what she does need is a listening ear. Support. Friendship. In other words.... what she needs is everything that I felt the Lord was placing on my heart in giving me the vision of the "Servants of Dignity".  I thought I had tasted so much of the Lord's power and providence that it would never surprise me so much again. I was wrong. I'm floored.

I am having a bit of a laugh at my pride for thinking the Lord was urging me to start a movement of Servants - when all He was preparing me for was to be a Servant. No wonder I was not feeling peaceful! So that's good for humility. And good to know in the future as I discern other calls.

I don't intend to write about Maggie - not much at least. But I did want to share the conclusion (?) of so many interconnected posts on the theme of the Servants. I think this relationship is going to stretch me in new ways. I said "YES!" quickly and eagerly, but I know that there will be challenges ahead. It began the first night we met Maggie. I knew Maggie was not showing yet and I (for some stupid reason) did not realize she would talk so openly about the baby in front of my kids. After she left, Maria asked three questions in rapid succession:
1. Is Maggie going to have a baby?  (Yes, dear!)
2. Is Maggie married?  (Well, no. No, she is not.)
3. can you have a baby if you are not married?   (

Although Maria is crystal clear on how a baby gets out of a mommy's tummy, her understanding of how it got in there in the first place has been along these lines:  When a man and woman really love each other, they get married and then .... they pray really really hard and God gives them a baby. 

Taadaa! And actually, for a 6 year old, I think that is a dandy explanation. But not if Maria and Maggie are in relationship. Because of that relationship, Maria needed some upgrade in her information about the birds and the bees. On the spot, I had to think of something that was true, that clearly maintained the proper ordering of God's plan, that preserved Maria's age-appropriate innocence and that respected Maggie in her entirety.  Because, if you have ever met a six year old, you know that whatever I said was going to be repeated to Maggie - verbatim (and soon). I know the Holy Spirit is deeply invested in this whole situation because I was instantly inspired with an answer that I considered perfect. Maria was satisfied with it as well and I'm perfectly comfortable with the idea of her sharing it with Maggie, or the old lady next door, or the cashier at the grocery store, or all of the above. Which....she will.

So this is the fruit of all that time of preparation. Maggie. And I could not be more grateful for a chance to walk with this young girl through pregnancy and beyond. It's the "beyond" that I feel is especially important. Maybe other Maggies will cross my path as well, but if nothing else, I'm learning to "think small" and be humble. May that lesson stick!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

a short, muddled post before James loses patience with his mama

Of all the endless things to love about Pope Francis, one of my favorites is that the man speaks plain English (in Italian, of course). I don't need to reread every sentence multiple times, consulting amateur philosophers, just to check that I am ticking the boxes of basic reading comprehension. In his homilies and his interviews, his words are so simple and so true.  The observations he makes strike me as plainly obvious - even though many of them are either brand-new thoughts to me or things I only vaguely grasped but never fully understood. Pope Francis has a clear and sometimes surprising grasp on what is  really important. And what is more important. And what is most important.  

Below are some condensed quotes I love from his homily this morning (with some points I plan to use for personal reflection). Pope Francis was preaching about how easily a Christian can slip from "having faith" to "having an ideology" - and how there is a massive difference between following Jesus and being a Christian.  These words are like daggers to my heart. I love them. 

"...Ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. At every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought…" 
-Is my witness to Christ beckoning people? Who? (if anyone) 
-Who, if anyone, has it failed to beckon? Could a lack of tenderness, love or meekness on my part explain the failure?
-Where in my faith am I rigid? Where was Jesus himself rigid? Do these two answers align?
-In witnessing to others, is the uppermost goal of my heart to move them to behave in a more "Christian"
 manner OR is it to help them to truly know Jesus and His mercy, love and goodness?

“...Ideology frightens. Ideology chases away the people. It creates distances between people and it distances the Church from the people. But it is a serious illness, this ideology in Christians.....But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray." 
-Can I remember times where the religious or political ideology of others has repelled me? Other than the possibility that I simply did not agree, was there something else repugnant about mere ideology? What was it?
-What symptoms of the illness of "Christian ideology" do I exhibit? (If I do not know the answer to this question, why don't I know it? And how can I learn the answer?)

“When a Christian does not pray, this happens. And his witness is an arrogant witness. He who does not pray is arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble.” 
“It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers.”  
-Am I praying
-Am I praying to the heart of Jesus? Am I reading Scripture daily in a way that truly helps me to know His heart?
-Do I know the pitfalls in the way I personally witness to others? 
-Am I more focused on what others (Jesus, the Pope, mentors) are teaching me about authentically following Christ or am I more preoccupied with how I can explicitly teach/correct others?  
-Am I asking Jesus to show me the ways in which I drive others away from Him? Am I receptive when other people hint about or tell me this information themselves? 

I think this is important stuff to reflect on. The Pope is basically working with those of us who think we are The Religious Ones and telling us, "Look, your intentions are good but your execution stinks." So far he's put a good deal of his time and energy into teaching us how to be more effective, more genuine disciples. His major points are deceptively simple:  Comfort is the enemy - we need to accept our share of suffering; Don't get so lost in the "issues" that the Church is up against - remember the persons whom she is not "against"; Face up to your own materialism - and get rid of it;  etc...

I started thinking through the answers to some of those reflection questions above as I was writing them; I'll sit with the rest later tonight.....and the not-so-humble part of me is SUPER glad that I won't be putting the fruit of all that reflection up on a blog for all to see!   :)