As a Gift (by Calena)

“For there is no distinction; since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as an expiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Romans 3:23-25

Gift. It is ALL a gift. Yet my heart is too independent to really receive the gift. “I have the strength to show you I can do it on my own.” I can earn my living by my own intellect and hands. I can be financially wise to save up for a house. I can perfect my prayers, my words, my organized house, and my schedule to reflect a holy life. I can earn Jesus’ saving love, rather Heaven, by my own strength.

Well, when you move all your possessions into your van, have no steady income, begin spending 24-hours a day with your spouse and baby, stay in family’s homes without pay, and lose control of your routine, this independence is tested.

Blaise is hiding. Otherwise, this is all we own 🙂

Our family left Brainerd with a beautiful sunset as Jesus closed another chapter. When arriving to our first home in St. Paul/Minneapolis with Tony, Laura and their two boys, I realized my stubborn inability to truly receive Jesus’ gift to me. We don’t have a plan. We don’t have an income. We really don’t have anything except Jesus. The gift was to be able to spend time with a beautiful family. We rejoiced in our common interest in music, scripture, and prayer. It was also a blessing to see the fruit of a “missionary daughter” who was raised in missions. Blaise especially enjoyed watching the boy’s entertaining homemade movie they produced together in the summer.

While in St. Paul, we were able to catch up with friends at University of St. Thomas. Jesus gave us little gifts through meals, unexpected friends, and praying with the seminarians to defend God’s gift of life in front of planned parenthood. Garret, Katrice and their three children graciously took us in for two nights. We will especially remember praying the rosary with them on EWTN and laughing together while watching Back to the Future 2. Here I was successful in the dreaded attempt to hand wash (rather pre-wash) Blaise’s cloth baby diapers.

We were walking to the University of St Thomas to meet with friends.

Off we moved to Lacrosse, WI to visit Molly, Ma, and Pa Rudd. After organizing the van at a park and a nice dinner during the Packers game, we headed off to a Best Western provided by Pa Rudd. We will remember Pa Rudd’s infamous ‘almost fall’ in which he nearly toppled over the bar after not seeing two steps.

Aunt Molly and Blaise at a park.

Our next stop was Conception Seminary near St. Joseph, Missouri. It was joyful to see Eric and enter into the contemplative community prayer with the monks and seminarians.

“I have NEVER heard the sounds of a baby in this oratory before.” -older monk at Conception Abbey

Praise the Lord! Blaise seemed to bring so much joy. Jacob held an informal concert leading some men in prayer and sharing our story. Grandma Lila and Grandpa Jerry made the journey to visit us for a few hours as well. Eric took them on a golf cart tour of the campus. Our last night, we enjoyed playing a competitive game of trivia while eating popcorn in the student union.

Uncle Eric and Blaise 🙂
Great Grandma Lila stopped to see us in Missouri.

Jesus then provided a home for us in Little Rock through a seminarian, Brian. It was an unexpected and perfect location as we journeyed on toward Lafayette. We were grateful to have cheesecake and cereal while watching cubs game. Blaise got blessed after mass by a missionary priest from Nigeria. On Thursday we arrived in Lafayette, to set up our campsite at a local park for two nights. Jesus, in such a short time we were immersed in Your life
of poverty and not really prepared for such a shock. Yet even this was a gift. A gift to be more like You in imitating Your poverty.

Our quiet campsite in the warmth of Louisiana.

Please pray I can learn how to receive Jesus’ gifts. For everyday I fall short of God’s glory, the way He is calling me to love. I don’t want to be always packing and unpacking. I want to say we have a beautiful home and a stable job (but can the poor say this?) I want to say that I am a perfect follower of Jesus. That I love with His Heart all the time. Yet, Jesus is calling me to receive His mercy from the suffering He endured from the cross and continues to endure through my indifference. Thank you Jesus for providing for all of our needs, and some wants, on this Pilgrimage! Amen. -Calena

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