A Couple of Catholics

A blog about faith, intentional living and the joys and struggles of married life.

Tag: God

Expecting More Than I Deserve

It’s an understatement to say that God throws us a curve ball every once in a while. There are seasons when everything seems to be rainbows and butterflies, His blessings and grace apparent everywhere you look.

But just as there are times of abundance, so also come times of drought and spiritual dryness. Times when we struggle to believe that God hears us or even cares. As far as I’m aware this is a common part of the spiritual life shared by so many.

Nevertheless, the current spiritual climate I find myself in seems novel, yet oddly familiar. It began in early spring. A healthy seven months pregnant and with the toddler in tow we did it.

We took the plunge.

Patrick and I packed up everything and moved, but instead of stepping into the ever-coveted title of homebuyers we opted for the much more glamorous lifestyle of squatters.

That’s right we have temporarily taken up residence with my in-laws to save some money for a down payment…and now I can safely say I’ve accomplished all I’ve wanted by the age of 30. 😉

There is no doubt that we are blessed and grateful for my in-law’s unceasing generosity. Still, as we find ourselves in the height of the home-buying season, I must confess I’ve encountered some struggle along the way. Saving for a house while simultaneously trying to manage the costs of a growing family has proven to be daunting, to say the least. At times I’ve doubted the whole thing, wondering if we will ever be able to reach these lofty financial goals.

It’s been wisely stated that comparison is the thief of joy, but still, I must admit comparison is where my weakness finds itself.

I’d be lying if I said it hasn’t been frustrating watching so many around us move into homes, get promotions, go on vacations, etc. while we are snuggling into basement living. I’ve felt dissatisfied, wondering why God has not blessed our family in the same way He has blessed others.

I don’t share this in a “woe is me” sort of way.

I’m ashamed that I struggle with comparing myself to others. After all, I know I have been given so much more than I could ever deserve. Even so, I am only human and a weak one at that.

The Lord does not owe us anything.

NOT. ONE. THING.

Yet, He wants to give us everything. He wants my life to be full. He wants it to be abundant…abundant in blessing, joy, passion and love. He wants me to find prosperity in Him, during this life and in the next.

“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

Which leads me to believe…dare I say…that I should expect more from Him. Not demand more as if to give God an ultimatum like some petulant child, but expect more.

I should boldly approach God with confidence that He wants only the greatest of things for His daughter.

See, I’ve never had a problem espousing to the notion that all things are possible with God. I have no trouble believing that He can do all things even in the direst circumstances.

My failure is in trusting that God will do great things. There is a big distinction between believing He can act and He will act, not only in the lives of others but in mine too.

However, believing God will accomplish great things is only the first step. The Lord always has more for us. Taking that thought one step further reveals that God desires to do amazing things in my life and in all of our lives.

The more I talk to others about trusting in God’s divine action the more I realize that I am not the only one who struggles with having holy expectations. This feeling of doubt masked by a false sense of humility plagues many of us.

We fear humbly asking our Lord for things…big things and small things.

We buy into the lie that God is too busy or that there are more important concerns in the world. But if God is infinite then so also is His ability to meet the needs of all His creation.

Why then do we sheepishly go to Him (if at all) with our needs…assuming He will push them aside for “more important” and pressing tasks?

I feel so foolish asking God to provide our little family with a house, but why?

Is it because it feels greedy…almost sinful?

Is it because on some level I believe it to be too BIG of an ask, even for God?

Or is it because deep within my soul I am lacking faith…faith that He can provide, that He WILL provide? More so that He WANTS to provide such blessings for my family and I. After all, I know who I am and I know who God is.

I am in no way deserving and there are plenty of others who have much greater material needs than I. There is not a single, valid reason He should give me anything, but still, He does.

The truth is my faith in God should be so solid that I approach Him in prayer making all those outlandish, ridiculous requests knowing that if He wants He will achieve great things for me. Instead of assuming a request is too big for God, I should humbly and expectantly ask allowing Him to be the One to harness in my lofty dreams if He sees fit.

At what point did I start putting limits on God and on His generosity?

May we become expectant in our faith, following the example of the hemorrhaging woman. Mark 5 depicts that her bold, unashamed faith in Christ is what saved her. She knew deep in her soul not only that Christ could heal her, but that He would heal her. She recognized the authority and power Christ had over all things.

She dared to expect that Christ cared deeply about the struggles she was facing just as He cared about others too. It was this expectant faith that ultimately released her from this cross.

And it is this kind of expectant faith that I want to imitate.

So yeah, as ridiculous as it may seem to ask for a house…ask I’m gonna…knowing that God will act on my prayer in perfect timing. Until then, our little family will snuggle on into basement living and praise the Lord for how much he has blessed us.

You Said That?!?! (How We Met Part 2 of 4)

As Patrick and I prepare for a lifetime together I find it fitting that we take a moment to recall our beginnings. Every couple enjoys telling the story of how they met and we are no exception. Just as the saying goes, “when you aren’t searching for it, someone great comes along.” This is exactly what happened when I met Pat. In August of 2011, I had just returned to Kansas after spending the summer with a friend in Houston.

A co-worker and now my maid of honor, Clare and I decided to get out of Atchison for the evening and head to Kansas City…a trip we made all to often. Once in KC we heard about a Catholic, young adult event that would be happening that evening. This was totally our style…adoration followed by a BBQ. Needless to say, we were in.

At Saint Peter’s Catholic church as I stood in line for confession, a dashing, albeit very tall man walked by and immediately caught my eye. (Have you seen him folks… I mean how could he not?) It was in this moment that I distinctly recall experiencing a sense that some would call coincidence, I, on the other hand like to call it a God-poke. Due to many previous experiences in my life I believe that our God is a God who can and at moments does directly work in our lives. Anyway, I sensed that this man…this tall, unknown man would soon be playing a crucial role in my life. This intuition made me quite uncomfortable. I tried to brush it off as nothing more than my emotions running away from me again, little did I realize the significance of it all.

SEE ALSO: How We Met Part 1

Fast forward to the BBQ later that evening in the pastor’s backyard, Clare and I couldn’t find a seat. We decided to make ourselves cozy next to the beer coolers. I would never describe myself as boy-crazy by any stretch of the imagination, but for some reason or another I couldn’t shake the feeling that God was at work.

As I mingled around, chatting with friends and enjoying my Boulevard Wheat, I was still trying to play it cool and pretend as if all was well. Meanwhile, my mind was running off in thousands of directions. I attempted to conjure up every excuse I could think of to brush it off. Amusing myself with ideas like, ‘He probably already has a girlfriend.’ ‘He would never be interested in me anyway.’ There’s always my personal favorite; ‘Nicole you’re crazy… making this all up in your mind.’

Toward the end of the evening a college friend of mine, Paul wandered over to Clare and I to catch up. While filling him in on all my Houston adventures, Pat came over to say hello to Paul. Naturally, Paul introduced us…and then it happened…a line that has gone down as one of the stupidest things you could say to a stranger.

I want to stress how important it is that you recall all the random comments I had heard about Pat in the past few years. This makes what I said to a mere stranger seem a little less bizarre.

And so the conversation went…

Paul: “Nicole, this is Pat Padley.”

Me: “Wait…you’re Pat Padley?”

Pat: “Ugh..yeah.”

Me: “Oh my gosh, it’s the man, the myth and the legend.”

Yes, I actually said that.

I immediately realized he had no idea who I was and in my mortified state I tried to backtrack as best I could. I followed this awesome moment in time by attempting to explain that I knew his brother, Nick, but it was too late. The image of Pat staring at me with a blank and utterly confused look on his face will forever be burned in my mind as the moment I met my future husband.

Thankfully, this sort foot-in-mouth disorder is one I’ve been coping with since childhood, so I’ve gotten pretty good at recovering from the awkward situations I all to often find myself in. I laughed it off as nothing more than me being dramatic, which is basically what it was. Lucky for me even God can work with foot-in-mouth disorder and bring the best out of it. Only time and a few more Boulevards would help me recover from this one.

Find out what happens next: Read Part 3 here

 

A Guy Named Pat Padley (How We Met, part 1 of 4)

As a reader of this blog it is important that you realize a few things about me before I begin the saga of Pat and I’s journey to the altar. One, I love to tell stories and details are important. Two, I believe that God actively works in our lives. In this case, He has worked in a perfectly entertaining and unexpected way.

To set the scene for you all, back in 2008 I was working as a youth minister and Pat was working in video production. We had never met and wouldn’t until 2011. He was dating someone else at the time and so was I. We were both perfectly happy and had wonderful things ahead of us. Then God decided to shake things up a bit.

I can recall many late Sunday nights working in the youth room with my co-worker, Brian and Pat’s older brother, Nick, who volunteered with us. On more than one occasion the two of them would invite me to go out for drinks or just to hang out always try to entice me by telling me  that I really needed to meet this guy, Pat. The phrase “you two would just get along great” seems to sound familiar to me. I always declined mostly because I was tired and lazy and a few extra hours of sleep seemed more appealing than chilling with some random guy and my co-workers.

Comments like this came up in conversations more than I would like to admit, and not just from my co-workers but other friends too. Here and there I would hear people mention him in passing, describing him as “really cool,” “really tall” and insisting that I meet him. Beyond these friends and coworkers merely encouraging me to meet him, more often than not they seem shocked that my life had not be privileged enough to cross paths with such an outstanding specimen.

Now if you know me at all, you know that I am rarely impressed. We’re all just people anyway and seriously nobody can be that cool. I mean it’s not Jesus we are talking about here. This Pat fella…he’s just a guy or so I thought. Little did I know what God had up His sleeve. Find out what happened next in part two of this four part saga.

CHECK OUT: Part two: You Said That?!?!

 

Opportunity to be Grateful

As a young lady who recently ventured through the jungles of singledom myself, my heart goes out to all those good-hearted women and men searching for their vocation and trying to date. It can be rough out there. Dating is hard enough, but trying to date as a Christian in a world that is consumed by sex, money and selfish desires is a beast all its own.

Just the other day I was on a plane heading to one of my missionary teammates’ wedding when I overheard a gentleman sitting next to me complaining to his friend that “sometimes I just like to go out without her, have a few beers with the guys and check out other women.” He was speaking about his long time girlfriend, who he wasn’t sure he wanted to marry.

Now before I pick this apart, I must say that I do agree with half of his statement. Men should be men and be able to have man time without feeling guilty. I believe the same to be true for women. At its best, this type of fellowship can make us better people. I think back to some advice a professor once gave me. He told me that as a woman you can tell a man when he is not being a good man, but you can not teach him how to be a better man. He can only learn that from other men and vice versa.

With that said, this man’s overall attitude toward his girlfriend saddened me. It was obvious by his comments that he viewed relationships in a completely different light than I do. At one point later in the conversation he advised his friend, “marriage is when two people can be together, make the least amount of compromise and still be happy.” Of course because compromise would mean we take the risk of actually becoming more selfless creatures.

Now I’m not trying to bash this guy. After all who knows the experiences he has had that has brought him to his current opinion on this point? Either way it is this type of outlook that our world seems to grip so tightly, that disheartens me and at the same time reminds me how incredibly blessed I am to have found a man like Patrick.

He is a man who loves God more than me, a man who cherishes me and might be more anxious than I am to plan our wedding. What a gift, a completely undeserved one at that? But for as much as Pat loves me and as incomprehensible as that love can be at times I know that God loves me more, which is super crazy.

This is my hope for our culture that all may know the love of Christ and let that love dictate their relationships with others. Praise God for good men and women, healthy relationships and opportunities that remind me how blessed I truly am.