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The Holy Plan

Affirmation: I trust and rest in God’s Holy Plan.

What if we believed, truly believed with every fiber of our being, that we were here for a purpose, that we had a role to play in the creation of life? What if we knew that we were here on earth, living this life because a greater power needs us to serve His or Her mission for the betterment of mankind? How would that change what we do, what we think and what we say?

I would imagine that sounds like a sci-fi story. If not, it might sound crazy or irrational. If not that, perhaps it simply sounds like too much work and responsibility. I, however, have reached a stage in my life when I am ready to believe I am here for a purpose and I am ready to release myself to that purpose and let God take me where She wants me to go or perhaps, to stay.

My intention this year, as you may recall, has been to be “connected to the Divine.” Once again, I didn’t know what that meant but I loved the sound of it; I loved the feeling of it. It’s been at the top of my journal page everyday now since January 1st. I know it’s a mediation. I might feel connected or simply be aware of my intention for a short time or even just a moment, and then I leave. I head out into the “world” or even more often, simply into my world.

Recently, I read the phrase “Holy Plan.” As soon as I saw the words, I knew that was my next intention. For some reason those two worlds brought me great peace. I felt my whole body relax, I was breathing deeper and easier. I began to carry the phrase with me all day long. It’s there as I sit quietly wondering what and whom the day will invite and it’s been there as I roam around participating in the many activities of my life. I fully recognize this does not mean nothing difficult will enter into my life or the lives of my loved ones but I still feel peaceful. I have this sense that all will work to my good, even the “bad.” It’s so comforting to me. Joel Osteen says, “With faith, what man has meant for our bad, God will make good.” Maybe yes, maybe no but I sure feel better when I trust that Joel is right.

Other than a sense of calm and peace and even excitement, what results have I discovered from this new affirmation? I have been watching life more closely for opportunities to rest in the Lord and also to be His tool. I know that sounds a little weird and perhaps even obnoxious, believing that I can connect to The Divine and She will use me, me little Jean Anne Costa, to do some sort of life giving work for the world. Yes, there have been others who believed this and they were crazy! I don’t think, however, that I’ve “lost it.” Somehow, I feel I’ve found that for which I’ve been searching. I don’t have visions of grandeur. I simply want to walk though the day and my life, bringing hope, peace, love, joy, and compassion wherever I can and not add to the fear and pain that is so prevalent in our world today. Does that sound unreasonable? When I carry that hope with me into every day, won’t that make a positive difference?

I’ve been reading Mathew Kelly’s, Rediscovering Catholicism and finding it to be very supportive of my faith and my general spirituality. I had two copies at my home and as I left the house the other morning I decided to take the extra copy with me. I had the thought that maybe someone would like to have it. I couldn’t imagine who but I grabbed it and threw it in the back of the car. I had an appointment for a pedicure (Yea!) and before I headed into the shop I went to the trunk of the car to put on my flip-flops and there was the book. I already had the newspaper in my hand but I grabbed the book too. I didn’t get to it. I fell asleep but I had laid it on the table next to me. Another patron looked at it and began to ask me about it. She too was a Catholic and really struggling with her faith and asked me about it. I told her I knew this sounded weird but I had it with me because I felt I was supposed to give it away. Would she like it? Yes, she would love to read it. I was awed. I felt like I had closely listened. I felt well “used.” I felt Divinely used. I felt quite right. I knew that this was how I always wanted to feel and believed my 2014 intention had definitely clicked in. Wow, I thought, “I might actually be in the midst of the Holy Plan. How cool!”

No, the book episode has not been the only serendipitous event this year. There have been many and each one has left me feeling the same way, peaceful and awed. In an effort to increase my faith and strengthen my understanding and relationship with Jesus Christ, I developed an affirmation many years ago that is close to the top of my affirmation list. I know by meditating on Jesus throughout my day, I am in union with the Divine, miracles are created and without struggle my life is transformed in ways beyond my imagination. That’s how I feel about life today. I’m 68 years old and there’s a peace and a sense of excitement I can never before recall experiencing.

I share these affirmations and this revelation I’m in the midst of with you with the hope that a few of these sentences or words will resonate with you and you too, if you’re searching, will find this same sense of peace and exhilaration, at least for right now and perhaps

The Bigger Picture

Affirmation:  Because of my relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ, I let go of fear and anxiety and fully trust in His loving care for me

Have you heard the story about the farmer who lived in ancient times?  He had a lovely farm and one son and one horse.  One day they found the gate to the corral open and the horse was missing.  All his friends and neighbors gathered around and said “Oh no, you poor man.  You’ve lost your only horse, how terrible!”  He answered, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”  His son then borrowed a horse and went to look for their missing animal.  In
a while, his father looked up and saw his son coming towards him riding
the missing horse and behind him was a whole heard of horses.  He opened the gate and all the horses ran into the corral.  All his friends and neighbors gathered around and said “Oh, you lucky man.  You’ve not only found your horse. You now have a whole heard of horses, how wonderful!”  He answered, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”  His son began taming the wild horses and one day he fell off and broke his leg.  All his friends and neighbors gathered around and said “Oh no, you poor man.  Your only son has broken his leg and now he cannot help you with all the work on your farm, how terrible!”  He answered, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”  While his son was recuperating, the local war lord and his men showed up.  They were conscripting all the eligible young men to fight in their war.  Of course, they could not take the farmer’s son because of his broken leg.  Once again, all his friends and neighbors gathered around and said “Oh, you lucky man.  Your only son has been saved from fighting for the local war lord, how wonderful!”  I’m not going to tell you his answer.  I think you already know it.  

How
many times have you had something happen to you and you judged the
quality of the experience as good or bad and then, later, sometimes much
later, you saw it in a different light and realized you didn’t have a
clue at the time it occurred about how it was going to affect your life?  It’s so easy to fall into the pit of despair, anxiety and depression.  According to quantum physics negative energy resonates at a lower level than positive energy.  That makes it easier for us to connect with it and more difficult to tap into the positive.  We have to work harder to find the positive.  I’m sure you have many examples of events that created openings into opportunities of which you never dreamed.  In our family alone, we have experienced job loss that led to a new and better opportunity.  We’ve witnessed the sad disillusionment of a marriage that later led to a new, healthier, happier family unit.  We’ve seen so much suffering and struggle that in time brought reward and accomplishment.   Of course, that’s not always true.  But, doesn’t it bring comfort that it can work out for the better?
That’s not to say we shouldn’t allow ourselves our feelings.  Not only should we allow them, we need to experience them.  There is no short cut through grief; there is only the direct path through it.  If you try to skirt around it, it will catch up with you when you least expect it.  And, grief comes from many different types of loses, not just from death.  One
can experience grief over the loss of a dream; perhaps the dream of a
perfect marriage, a perfect job, what one thought a perfect career
should look like.  One can
experience grief over the loss of health, money, youth and even less
recognized events like that of thinning hair or a thickening middle.  It’s all part of our lives.  It’s important to acknowledge how we feel about loss and then move towards recovery.  But, it’s also important to realize nothing is stagnant.  Life
is always changing and whatever is causing you distress will change too
and it might just be the one thing to open a door to something
marvelous.  Why not simply watch and see how it works itself out?
We are only capable of seeing a small part of the picture.  Only God can see the big picture.  The
question is can you trust enough to believe He/She has your best
interest at heart; that that which was meant for your harm, God will use
for your good?   Garth Brooks has a country song entitled “Thank God for Unanswered Prayer.”  In it he tells the story of a man who meets an old flame, the one woman he prayed to God to make his wife.  It didn’t work out and now as he walks away from her, he realizes how lucky he was.  He’s married to the real love of his life and so he remembers to “thank God for unanswered prayer.”  It’s another example of loss and grief and an experience that led to something better.  I’m sure he couldn’t see it when it happened.  He had to wait to recognize the blessing that came from the breakup with his first love. 

For me, this is why I practice my faith.  I don’t want it to be all about life after death.  I
want to live this life with the trust that God really does want only my
best and that if I practice that, if I trust, all will be well.  It may not be the way I expected.  It
may not be anything like what I had asked for but if I believe that
whatever is happening is exactly what should be happening, think of the
peace I experience.  I must confess it’s not an easy process, simple maybe, but not easy.  It takes work.  It takes staying connected to the Divine at every possible moment.  I have a wonderful meditation tape by Belleruth Naparstak.  At
one point in the tape she speaks about all the angels and guides who
are surrounding the listener and then as they begin to fade away they
say, “Remember, we are always with you.  It is you who comes and goes.”  What comfort that brings me.  If I can stay focused, if I choose to stay in the presence of God, God will always be with me.  That’s
my choice; that’s my meditation; to remain in the presence of God and
with all my angels and helpers as often as possible and to trust in
their divine protection.  Then,
when faced with a challenging situation instead of labeling it ‘good or
bad, lucky or unlucky” I can simply watch it and think “maybe yes, maybe
no.”

Just Pick Up the Phone

Affirmation:  When I quickly and directly resolve an issue,
I feel less stressed and more peaceful.

This is the age of electronic
communications.  On Longmire, one
of my favorite TV shows, Longmire’s deputy checked the victim’s phone for text
messages rather than for phone calls. 
And, that was the correct method for finding out about the victim’s
activity.  It’s so very easy to send a
text, an email or a tweet but it isn’t necessarily the quickest way to
communicate with someone.  One day my
grandson texted me from another room in our home to ask me a question.  I thought he’d left without telling me and I
panicked but he hadn’t.  He’s 13 at this
writing.  If he continues along this
path, he may not make it to 14.

Recently, I’ve had several
situations that were making me a little anxious.  In all cases I had emailed the person or the
company and had either not received an answer or I didn’t get the answer I
wanted.  The first issue was with amazon.com. I had bought a faucet for our
kitchen.  The kitchen was being remodeled
and by the time the plumbers were ready to install the faucet, my return date
had passed.  The faucet didn’t fit.  When I went online to return it, I got the
pop-up that it was too late to send it back. 
I was quite annoyed and then I thought, “Just pick up the
phone.”  I had a quick conversation
with a very nice person and he waved the return date so I could send it
back.  It was easy but if I hadn’t made
the phone call, I’d still own that faucet.

I was on a roll now.  I’ve become my Mom’s financial
caretaker.  She’s always done an amazing
job with her resources but it had become too much for her.  Her credit card bill came and I put it on the
shelf.  For the first time in her life,
her next credit card bill came with a service charge on it.  Oh my! 
I was in trouble!  It was quite a
penalty for a very small overdue balance. 
I picked up the phone and spoke with a very nice young woman.  I guessed she could immediately see the bill
had never been late before and she immediately took off the penalty fee.  Whew!

It seems this is the lesson I
needed to learn at this time.  Once I
began looking at different situations with an eye towards finding easier,
quicker resolutions, more and more opportunities kept presenting
themselves.  I found with each episode
that came up if I acted immediately and directly rather than just mulling over
what to do, I was less stressed and more peaceful.

The faucet wasn’t the only
remodeling snafu.  We had hired a very
nice young man to be our contractor and he seemed quite efficient.  At the beginning of the project he put
together some sort of computer notification system than showed us the exact
time of each part of the job and the exact cost of every single step.  Over the next few weeks that program would
pop up almost daily with some sort of time change or even worse, some sort of
price increase.  Needless to say I was
becoming more and more anxious every time I’d see an email with his company’s
name on it.  At first I found my stomach
would knot up and my head would begin to ache but then I changed my approach
and when something was changed, I’d call him and many times he’d relieve my
anxiety with a detailed explanation or he’d remove the extra fee because he’d
made a mistake.  (I chose to believe it
was an error.) With that phone call came the ability for me to take deeper
breaths and relax about whatever was being presented.

Even with my family I’ve noticed
how often we now text or email one another rather than calling, although not as
readily as my grandson.  All too often I
wasn’t getting an answer to my questions or they were wondering why I hadn’t
replied to their queries.  Usually it was
because the emails got lost in the ether somewhere.  But, with a simple phone call, whatever
question we had would be resolved, immediately.

 

Since this was my
lesson for now, I began to wonder if I shouldn’t apply it to my prayer life
too.  How often did I obsess over some
life issue that needed to be let go of and turned over to God?  What if I took my new lesson and rather than
letting the issue weigh me down, I immediately “picked up the phone”
and shared it with The Lord?  What would
that look like?  What number would I
dial?  I closed my eyes and sat quietly
and envisioned the phone.  It wasn’t a
cell phone.  Interestingly, it was an old
fashioned phone like the one in Dr.
Strangelove
with Peter Sellers and it was red. 
Of course it was because in the movie the red phone was a direct line to
the President.  I didn’t need a phone
number at all.  I just needed to pick up
that old fashioned red phone and God would be on the other end.  God is always on the other end, waiting for
me to call.  Once I’ve taken the time and
made the effort to connect, I am connected. 
No, the situation may not be resolved as quickly as it was at amazon.com or LL Bean although it might be, but I
quickly realized I felt better about my concerns.  By taking the time to “call” God, I
felt less stressed and I felt more peaceful.

Opening to Miracles

Affirmation:  I know by meditating on Jesus throughout my
day, I am in union with the Divine; miracles are created and without struggle
my life is transformed in ways beyond my imagination

My mom has always
been a very self-sufficient, independent woman. 
Truly, her spirit was the reason I went to college.  I was the first generation in my family to
attend and graduate from a university. 
No one encouraged me to go on after high school.  It was 1960 and I was a girl from the blue
collar working class.  My future
according to societal norms and my dad was to develop good clerical skills,
marry and raise children.  But, my mom, a
very smart lady, had tasted the life of financial independence and knew there
were larger opportunities and would nudge me every so often to check them
out.  I guess it didn’t take more than a
little nudge, especially since I was at St. Agnes Academic High School for
girls and was with all these brilliant young women who were planning their
futures and their first step was college.

My mom, Margaret (never
Maggie, Peg or Peggy) moved to North Carolina when she was 75.  She made the move with little help from the
family and started to create a new life almost immediately. She volunteered at
The Food Bank, took a part-time clerical position with a non-profit, became an
officer in the Cary Senior Association and became a Raleigh Ambassador, touring
the city and assisting at dozens of special events, including the Special
Olympics.  She was one of the first
people to join the Cary Senior Center and instrumental in bringing line dancing
to the facility.  (She always loved to
dance.)

She went from
living in a condo, to a senior apartment complex and then to an independent
senior complex with some services.  Then
at 89 1/2 her body seemed to start to shut down.  We did everything in our power, everything,
to make her comfortable, to make sure she maintained her dignity.

The calls for
help came more and more frequently and they were filled with more and more
panic.  My heart ached.  Part of me wished she would be spared the
dying process and just go to sleep and not wake up. We’ve had several friends
and relatives who died in their sleep. 
Ann Landers once said her life goal was “to die healthy.” I
want that too.  I want that for my mom,
for all of us but, that’s not the usual, is it? 
When we took mom to the cardiologist to make sure her heart was ok, he
said “I only hope I have a heart like hers at age 89.” So, I wasn’t
holding much hope for her for a quick, easy death.

The decision I
was faced with after the last panic filled phone call was, “How can mom be best
cared for and who can help me decide this?” Certainly, I was so
emotionally involved I wasn’t very clear-sighted.  I called both her doctors, compassionate,
kind women and they did what good doctors do best, they listened and guided
me.  Then, I called my family.  But, I must say I had been calling my Lord,
the Blessed Mother, all our Angels and Guides for many years and especially for
these last few weeks, asking for them to pave the way, to smooth the path and
to light the dark road of my mother’s care. 
And, on that day of the most recent panic phone call all the forces of
nature and God came together.  For any of
you that have dealt with this kind of situation, you will recognize the hand of
God.

Within the next
six hours mom was living in an assisted living facility.  Her new apartment was completely decorated
and fully operational, even cable TV.  My
husband had immediately come home from work. 
By the time we arrived at mom’s home, my daughter had spoken with the
administrators of her facility and had secured mom a place in the assisted
living facility.  Her doctors came within
the hour and signed all the forms.  My
son brought in lunch and my daughter-in-law took mom to another room in the
building and shared lunch with her and kept her entertained while we dismantled
her apartment and moved everything to her new space.  My brother who lives in another state  “just happened” to have a meeting
close by and was already on his way towards us when I called him.  His wife and daughter were also on their way.

When my
daughter-in-law wheeled mom into her new home, the look on her face said it
all,  even mom’s drapes were
installed.  She said “This is
amazing!” It was amazing.  It was a
miracle!  And, I fully realize I can only
see the tip of the miracle.  All the
forces that had come to support us may never be revealed.  My prayers, the prayers of our family and
friends had all been answered.

What if I lived
my whole life believing God, the Universe, had only miracles in store for
me?  Think of the power I could rely
on.  Think of the calm that would
permeate my mind, body and spirit. 
Think of the joy that would fill my heart!  To truly believe that God wants only my best
and it’s up to me to be completely open and trusting in order to receive the
blessings.  Yes, my job is to stay fully
connected to God, to allow Her to do the work She wants to do.  For me, that means praying incessantly; a
deep breath, sighing the name of Jesus and opening my heart to the miracles of
life.

The Big Picture

Affirmation:  Because of my relationship with my Lord Jesus Christ, I let go of fear and anxiety and fully trust in His loving care for me

Have you heard the story about the farmer who lived in ancient times?  He had a lovely farm and one son and one horse.  One day they found the gate to the corral open and the horse was missing.  All his friends and neighbors gathered around and said “Oh no, you poor man.  You’ve lost your only horse, how terrible!”  He answered, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”  His son then borrowed a horse and went to look for their missing animal.  In a while, his father looked up and saw his son coming towards him riding the missing horse and behind him was a whole heard of horses.  He opened the gate and all the horses ran into the corral.  All his friends and neighbors gathered around and said “Oh, you lucky man.  You’ve not only found your horse. You now have a whole heard of horses, how wonderful!”  He answered, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”  His son began taming the wild horses and one day he fell off and broke his leg.  All his friends and neighbors gathered around and said “Oh no, you poor man.  Your only son has broken his leg and now he cannot help you with all the work on your farm, how terrible!”  He answered, “Maybe yes, maybe no.”  While his son was recuperating, the local war lord and his men showed up.  They were conscripting all the eligible young men to fight in their war.  Of course, they could not take the farmer’s son because of his broken leg.  Once again, all his friends and neighbors gathered around and said “Oh, you lucky man.  Your only son has been saved from fighting for the local war lord, how wonderful!”  I’m not going to tell you his answer.  I think you already know it.  

How many times have you had something happen to you and you judged the quality of the experience as good or bad and then, later, sometimes much later, you saw it in a different light and realized you didn’t have a clue at the time it occurred about how it was going to affect your life?  It’s so easy to fall into the pit of despair, anxiety and depression.  According to quantum physics negative energy resonates at a lower level than positive energy.  That makes it easier for us to connect with it and more difficult to tap into the positive.  We have to work harder to find the positive.  I’m sure you have many examples of events that created openings into opportunities of which you never dreamed.  In our family alone, we have experienced job loss that led to a new and better opportunity.  We’ve witnessed the sad disillusionment of a marriage that later led to a new, healthier, happier family unit.  We’ve seen so much suffering and struggle that in time brought reward and accomplishment.   Of course, that’s not always true.  But, doesn’t it bring comfort that it can work out for the better?
That’s not to say we shouldn’t allow ourselves our feelings.  Not only should we allow them, we need to experience them.  There is no short cut through grief; there is only the direct path through it.  If you try to skirt around it, it will catch up with you when you least expect it.  And, grief comes from many different types of loses, not just from death.  One can experience grief over the loss of a dream; perhaps the dream of a perfect marriage, a perfect job, what one thought a perfect career should look like.  One can experience grief over the loss of health, money, youth and even less recognized events like that of thinning hair or a thickening middle.  It’s all part of our lives.  It’s important to acknowledge how we feel about loss and then move towards recovery.  But, it’s also important to realize nothing is stagnant.  Life is always changing and whatever is causing you distress will change too and it might just be the one thing to open a door to something marvelous.  Why not simply watch and see how it works itself out?
We are only capable of seeing a small part of the picture.  Only God can see the big picture.  The question is can you trust enough to believe He/She has your best interest at heart; that that which was meant for your harm, God will use for your good?   Garth Brooks has a country song entitled “Thank God for Unanswered Prayer.”  In it he tells the story of a man who meets an old flame, the one woman he prayed to God to make his wife.  It didn’t work out and now as he walks away from her, he realizes how lucky he was.  He’s married to the real love of his life and so he remembers to “thank God for unanswered prayer.”  It’s another example of loss and grief and an experience that led to something better.  I’m sure he couldn’t see it when it happened.  He had to wait to recognize the blessing that came from the breakup with his first love. 

For me, this is why I practice my faith.  I don’t want it to be all about life after death.  I want to live this life with the trust that God really does want only my best and that if I practice that, if I trust, all will be well.  It may not be the way I expected.  It may not be anything like what I had asked for but if I believe that whatever is happening is exactly what should be happening, think of the peace I experience.  I must confess it’s not an easy process, simple maybe, but not easy.  It takes work.  It takes staying connected to the Divine at every possible moment.  I have a wonderful meditation tape by Belleruth Naparstak.  At one point in the tape she speaks about all the angels and guides who are surrounding the listener and then as they begin to fade away they say, “Remember, we are always with you.  It is you who comes and goes.”  What comfort that brings me.  If I can stay focused, if I choose to stay in the presence of God, God will always be with me.  That’s my choice; that’s my meditation; to remain in the presence of God and with all my angels and helpers as often as possible and to trust in their divine protection.  Then, when faced with a challenging situation instead of labeling it ‘good or bad, lucky or unlucky” I can simply watch it and think “maybe yes, maybe no.”