Friday, February 22, 2013

More Than We Can Handle, Can Ask, Can Imagine

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling 
and to present you before his glorious presence
 without fault and with great joy—
 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority,
 through Jesus Christ our Lord,
 before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

It's been a week and there have been trials. I need to be so joyful, so tipsy on my Savior that I'm ready to be thankful when 
1) a sibling still in her twenties has cancer
2) a student's parent yells at me when I have called to help her earn a passing grade
3) my tooth breaks
4) a dear child of God's will not eat because someone injured his spirit and body
5) a friend, a faithful wife, who wants only to be God's servant, is betrayed, broke and still one of the most amazing parents I know.
6) a child of God suffers the spiritual pain to her arms, and then fights back 
7) a second student this year from the NE PA area, another teenager, has another case of possible thyroid cancer
8) Everyone seems so needy- my children. My husband. My students. Their parents. The grading. The coursework.
9) Another friend, another priest's wife, another family member struck with cancer.
10) more cancer, more surgery, and so many people I wake up at all hours in nightsweats dreaming of dying and just find myself praying and praying and praying.

Driving home last week, from Michigan, I was preparing for the discussion of Kisses from Katie tonight. (Shout out to the McCulloh's for providing our parish with the book at Nativity, and the hospitality tonight to discuss it.) I was preparing by listening to Kisses from Katie, which seemed, at first, a bit too perky for my melancholic soul. That is until she caught my attention saying: 

“Remember, God will never give you more than you can handle.”
People repeat this frequently; I heard it when I was growing up and I hear it now.  It is meant to be a source of encouragement, and it would be if I believed it were true. But I don’t. I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle.  Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives.   
 …I have learned to accept it, even ask for it, this “more than I can handle.”  Because in these times, God shows Himself victorious.  He reminds me that all of this life requires more of Him and less of me.  God does give us more than we can handle.  Not maliciously, but intentionally, in love, that His glory may be displayed, that we may have no doubt of who is in control, that people may see His grace and faithfulness shining through our lives.And as I surrender these situations to Him, watch Him take over and do the impossible, I am filled with joy and peace – so much more than I can handle
Kisses from Katie, excerpts from p.135-137
He does give me more than I can handle. He did this week. On that drive home Monday, I looked up and, what do you know?  The planes landing and taking off from Indianapolis International Airport strafed a perfect cross in the sky. There I was listening to her quoting 2nd Corinthians 4: "We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair;  persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.  We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body." 
I'm not facing death. Exhaustion. Yes. But I've had worse. I slept five hour nights during Seminary. I thought someone put speed in the water in Carbondale. So, these days, it's not too bad. I called my husband. 
He said, "I remember what (Dc.) Ted said when we in seminary, "This is meant to be impossible." 
The thing is, my husband and I have always flown by the seat of our pants. Twas' better to get married at 19 then betray God's call to remain chaste. Twas' better just give and give, than stockpile our 401K's. Twas' better to live with three pairs of shoes than more.  We've eschewed whatever we could, jettisoned, and frankly, have been a bit careless with savings and retirement because people gotta eat. Back then, we remained more more faithful than now. Nowadays, I need a reminder that three pairs is just fine. I still own too many pairs of boots. And, that the extra coat is what I stole from the poor, to paraphrase St. Basil.

Dang. Tonight, when we left McCulloh's, I knew I was in the right place and if I never travel again, true dat, so long as folks here are being fed, clothed and their spirits are not wasting away.

I am thankful for my closest relatives in the family of God, who make quilts, counsel woman against abortions, drive vets to their medical appointments, plant pretty flowers, mow the church lawn, start CSA's, feed the priest's family so they can pass along their veggies to the neighbors, gift to their priest and may we give so generously to the families around us, go to med appointments with the mother who just heard a horrible diagnosis for her kids, for starting a 501c3 to refuge God's creatures and uses those poor starving, blinded, neglected creatures to help heal broken children, who want to foster, mentor, volunteer for kids here in Montgomery County, where only TWO FAMILIES are fostering. (AAAARRRRRGGGHHH, there is reason God made me barren one way. He had to to 2x4-to-the-face-me about those kids who need a safe home.) So, there I am. Volunteer for Achaius and who knows what the future holds? Guess there was a reason I grew up around foster kids, and have friends wholly committed to serving God this way!

He sure as heaven gives us more than we can ask. When Tig Nitaro said, "God, she can't take more," I wanted to shake a fist at heaven and say, "Yeah!" Then I was reminded that I have been walking 15 miles a day on a stressed pelvis, because I cannot shake The Way of the Pilgrim. I get the sense that my life has been charmed. 

When my friend wrote that Kisses From Katie wrecked her life. Yup, me too. Thanks to all my Church Family. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I would write you all a love-in-Christ note, but it seems after tonight, we got work to do. But hey, Love in Christ.

Viva La Resistance in the Name of our Blessed, Merciful God and Savior>>>

PS. My sister's cancer is Stage Two. Take that cancer. May you be starved and squeezed and cautarized! 


  1. In the words of the ever-memorable Robert Nesta Marley... "Don't worry about a thing, cuz every little thing gonna be alright!" We love y'all and pray for y'all daily, and are always here for you. Viva la Revolucion indeed dear Presvytera...indeed. While life seems too much to bear at times, I'm always reminded of the words of St. Ignatius of Loyola - "Take Lord, receive - all is Yours now. You have given all to me - now I return it. Give me only Your love and Your grace - that's enough for me. Your love and Your grace are enough for me." May it be so.

  2. This is so beautiful, Maria. I love you so much!