To Rise Up

Jesus is Risen! Alleluia!

For Lent this year I tried to spend time every day reading through the Gospels with my Word on Fire Bible. This Bible is gorgeous and full of so much goodness. I really appreciate how Bishop Barron and his team incorporated reflections, explanations, word study, art, even poetry, to accompany the Gospel text. I enjoyed slowing down and taking my time to read everything on each page.

While the takeaways were many and I hope to write about more of them, for this Easter Day one thing in particular stayed with me. Early in Matthew’s Gospel he describes his calling to follow Jesus. Matthew was sitting at his collections table, most likely surrounded by others. Jesus singles Matthew out of the crowd and simply says, “Follow me.”

Matthew says he, “rose up and followed him.” End scene. There isn’t much in these few words. However, there is so much when you know ancient languages! I do not so I, like so many of us, rely on others to illuminate what is hidden in our English translation. When Matthew says he “rose up” or in some translations, “got up,” the specific verb he uses is anastas. Not so coincidentally, when we fast forward to Jesus’ Resurrection, the same root word (this time anastasis) is used by Gospel writers to describe the phenomenon.

Jesus, as we know, rose up transformed. His disciples did not always immediately recognize Him. He could walk through walls and locked doors. He was Jesus, yet He was fundamentally changed, something new that had never before been in the world. Looking back over his life, Matthew recognized that his own call by the Lord marked something significant. He had been changed to the core in that moment, a complete transformation from one man to a new man. A resurrection with a little “r” that points toward Jesus’ redemptive Resurrection which transformed the world.

How much of the Bible do we miss in these little word nuances? I am so thankful for the Bible editors and translators who take the time to shed light on the text for those of us unable to access the original languages.

As you celebrate Easter today and throughout the next week, perhaps take some time to look back on your own life. Have you had a moment where you “rose up” to follow Jesus? How has your life changed because He has called you? And make no mistake, He has, He is, and He will always be calling you to further transformational relationship with Him.

As the Deer Longs

Before living in Texas I don’t think I truly understood what it meant to long for rain. I know there are climates much drier than Southwest Texas. However, growing up in the Midwest inclines one to take rain for granted. We may have had dry spells, but nothing like the oppressive and unrelenting heat of a Texas summer. A summer which, for those unfamiliar, can start as early as April and last well into October. The ground is so dry the wind can blow dust into a haze which is capable of blocking the sun. The grass crunches like potato chips underfoot.

Drooping basil in our front yard

Just a few days ago when a tropical storm hit Houston, a stray cloud still carrying water manages to open up over our house. My children were delighted. They threw on their rain boots and hurried to find puddles of any size before they evaporated back into the hot air. As I stood in the brief sun shower, a Psalm refrain came to mind

“As the deer longs for running streams, so my soul longs for you O Lord”

Psalm 42:1

Standing in the rain, after months without it, it felt as if my soul was pierced with understanding. I felt relief, joy, wonder and a desire to raise my hands and face to welcome the water. I laughed at myself, because how many movies have we seen where a character has done just this when a long awaited rain finally comes. But genuinely, this seems to be the most appropriate action. The thing I didn’t realize I was waiting for, longing for, had finally come.

As the deer longs – what am I longing for? For rain, obvious. But what else? What is my soul thirsting for, and what am I using to quench my thirst? As human beings made of mostly water, we can only survive 3-4 days without it. Water is a critical element to our existence and to the existence of all creatures. It’s not surprising then that the Psalmist chooses to use this image of water when describing how our souls yearn for God.

If you are feeling run down, tired, perhaps stressed out, take a few minutes to ponder this verse. Perhaps even repeat the first part a few times as you identify with your own thirsts. As the deer longs for running streams….so my soul longs for you O God. Then, let those thirsts go, recognizing that only God can truly satisfy all your wants and needs. You might also take this refrain to adoration, or perhaps use it to focus the few minutes before the start of Mass. No matter where you are in life, this simple verse can help calm your thoughts and focus the moment on He who matters most.

Even the smallest puddles nourish the soul

Preparing for Lent – FREE JOURNAL

I feel like I’m just repeating myself, since I said the same thing for Advent, but can you believe we are already getting emails for sign ups for Lent reflections and books!? Personally, I am not a big fan of when Lent and Easter are so early. I feel like I just had a moment to breathe after the holidays and now my next gulp is full of Lenten themes, sacrifices and preparation for Christ’s Passion. He was just born for goodness sake!

But, it’s not up to me and so, like the rest of you, we begin looking ahead to what opportunities Lent will bring to our lives.

It feels like God has been knocking on my heart, especially through my kids. We were at storytime at the library last week for the first time in a while. They have songs, stories and crafts for the kids. This week, they sang a new song which we hadn’t heard before but my kids really liked.

Do as I’m doing

Follow, follow me.

Do as I’m doing

Follow, follow me.

It was a follow-the-leader type song, with clapping or jumping or whatever the kids wanted to follow along to. My kids sang it the rest of the day, so naturally I went to bed with it swirling through my head.

This song is my new motto for our present season in life. My kids are so young still and already they are growing up into unique, individual persons with their own gifts, talents, struggles and temperaments. It is not my or Ben’s job to give them their personality, rather to show them how we use our personalities to their fullest and best. We don’t become saints by becoming someone else, but by becoming the best versions of ourselves. So, if I am striving with all my might to become the best version of myself, I am modeling for my kids how to become the best versions of their selves.

How to put this into practice? How often do I miss the mark?

Well, I’ve noticed that John is starting to talk back. A lot. And with attitude, scowls, did I mention attitude, and sulking. He is 6 for goodness sake! And we are still homeschooling and are mindful about what types of media they are exposed to, where is the coming from? Then I start to hum, do as I’m doing, follow, follow me…...

Rosie is trying so hard to use her words to express her feelings, not her fists. Yet in the process she is screaming her words. A lot. And over-reacting. And so much emotional turmoil and desire to control each moment. Why is she acting like this? Then I hear her singing to herself, do as I’m doing, follow, follow, me…

I probably don’t need to go into detail about my sweet, 3 year old going on 13 year old Clare. By now you get the picture. While yes, each of my children are their own unique selves, so much of their behavior is simply a reflection of what they are observing day in and out from Ben and I. None of us are perfect and praise God the behaviors I just described are not the full picture of who my kids are. They are kind, loving, goofy, sweet, prayerful and active. They say “I love you” and “I’m sorry” with intentionally and passion. They are beautiful, remarkable children and we are so blessed to be gifted with them. And like anyone else, they have things they need to work on (ahem, like a certain blogger you may know).

So here’s the plan for Lent. I’ve created another Lectio Divina Journal just like Advent.

lent 2018 coverI’ve updated the design (only 1 option this time. Lent came up quick!). I kept the blank page for those who wish to select their own passages and also included a Lenten Sacrifice/Commitment tracker. Click on the link above the picture to print and share to your heart’s content.

What will I be doing with it? I think I’m going to try to incorporate the journal into our school day. We start each homeschool day with a prayer and intention. I plan to add lectio to that for Lent. In light of “do as I’m doing” I’m not going to read the passage from the journal. Rather, I’m going to get the hard copy Bible out and thumb through it to find the passages. I read the Bible fairly frequently, but it’s on my phone usually or laptop. The kids don’t know I’m doing it when I’m doing it. How can I teach them the importance of reading the Bible if they don’t see me actively reading it? We will be learning lectio and also engaging with the physical text of the Bible.

This will take some sacrifice. It means starting the school day earlier or recognizing that it will go longer. I won’t be able to be frustrated or upset about that if I don’t get up early enough or plan our day appropriately. I will need more patience, more decisiveness, and perseverance if this is going to work in a positive way. It also means I will need to find a way to carve out time in the mornings (ideally) on non-school days to still practice lectio. Again, do as I’m doing….Maybe (hopefully) the growth I strive for in myself will also be reflected in my kids’ behaviors.

If you’re interested in joining me on this Lenten journey, print the journal. Let’s connect on social media. I’m going to try to be posting either via twitter or the Facebook page what my word is from the day’s lectio. I would love to pray with you. Praying the Scriptures is a practical way to prepare for the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Christ.

Peace

Kate

Daily Graces. kktaliaferro.wordpress.com