Wednesday, April 25

nuggets for your wednesday

every couple of months, i go sing for a lovely little congregational church here in fort myers. the music director is an old voice teacher of mine, and they invite me to come and share my music talents with them.

i feel very loved and welcomed, and have learned a lot in attending their service. their pastor, pastor doug, follows the catholic lectionary in planning out the reading of the gospel and the substance of his sermons every Sunday, so it's always very close to what i hear in the mass that day. i love how closely we are united.

i went and shared my original song empty this past Sunday with them. i wanted to share with you some nuggets of wisdom that i gleaned from pastor doug's beautiful sermon -- a refresher: the gospel reading presented Jesus appearing to his disciples following the episode on the road to emmaeus. he gives to them his peace and allows them to find certainty within his nail marks and side wound.

first, my own meditation of the day: i was pondering how mary magdalene arrives at the scene of Jesus' resurrection and discovers the empty tomb. we ourselves are not meant to be empty tombs; we are meant to be alive with our lord, living tabernacles housing his presence here on earth, shining beacons of his eternal love and grace. the world has enough death and darkness, enough emptiness and despair. let us come alive with his holy spirit.

in his sermon, paster doug made the interesting point that on the road to emmaeus, the disciples did not recognize Jesus because they did not expect him to be there. how often do we miss seeing our Lord because we do not acknowledge his constant presence in our life. or how often do we miss him in this moment now, because we are too focused on rectifying the errors of the past or controlling events of the future? find Jesus now, in this moment. expect to encounter him in every detail of your day. know him in the breaking of the bread, as his disciples did. he reveals himself to us so perfectly and fully in the Eucharist. if nothing else, we find him there - he gives us that taste of himself, and then calls us to find him elsewhere, everywhere.

we must be transformed by that encounter with Jesus. it is not enough simply to attend church on Sundays and call yourself a follower of Christ. along with the disciples, we must move from fearful hiding in the upper room to the boldness and fire of pentecost. we must cast off our former selves who have died and enter into the resurrection, our new selves in Jesus. we must let go of complacency and seek instead a new courage in this time when faithful believers are so needed.

our Lord needs warriors. he needs those who will fight against the powers of darkness, while at the same time extending a loving hand to our brothers and sisters who do not yet know and understand. we hate the sin, but love the sinner, and seek always to bring another soul home to the fold. there is always room at the table for another hungry soul.

finally, there is the unbelievable promise our Lord extends to us in the resurrection - if we believe that Jesus could conquer death, break the chains that bind us and bring us into new life, how can we not believe that he can restore us and make us whole in this life? he can do all this and more.

believe in this moment. sense his presence now and always. remember the black night of the crucifixion leads inexorably into the dawn of the resurrection.

let not your hearts be troubled.

here is the prayer we prayed to close the service:
O holy and awesome Lord, we are stunned by the miracle of the resurrection.
we are stunned by the forgiveness you offer to us.
but, when our awe turns to disbelief, renew us with your joy. 
when our fear turns to rejection, lead us into your presence.
when our stumbling leads to sin, forgive us and direct our steps in your paths of righteousness.
in Christ's name we pray. Amen. 

Friday, April 20

Lord, beer me strength.

any office fans in the congregation today? i was reminiscing about the good old days, back when jim and pam were still flirty and cute, back when michael scott still "ran" things, back when an episode of the office was enough to turn my day right side up.

(i know that some of you might still be fans. i personally never forgave the writers for an apocalyptic failure of a wedding for jim and pam. after that epic mess, it was never the same and i soon jumped ship for greener pastures).

now, what could this have to do with anything, you might ask? why the sudden nostalgia for better days of tv comedies?

i am currently listening to my nearly three year old talk to himself in his room, or more accurately, talk to his two favorite cars of the moment, batman and the girlfriend.

what should he be doing?

napping. which he is not. which he totally should be.

i am slowly, excruciatingly, sometimes resentfully, resigning myself to the fact that my lil guy is growing up, and might be out-growing the glorious 3 hour nap i've relished thus far in his existence.

God help us all.

i've tried so many tricks and tactics to get him to nap:

threats, rewards, new toys (a clock that has a picture of a sleeping and an awake bunny), extra sippy cups of milk to promote full and sleepy bellies, promises of candy, constant return to his room when he emerges with the refrain of "i dooooooooooooooooone sleeping!"

Lord, beer me strength. (~jim halpert) 

i firmly believe that he still needs some kind of nap.

i firmly believe with every fiber of belief in my being,
that i still desperately need him to take a nap.

and yet, there he is. still not napping, still chatting up the batmobile and his lovely lady friend.

the problem is that he'll spend the rest of the day either a) incredibly grouchy, b) ridiculously needy, c) appallingly wired, or some absurd combo of the 3.

what's a tired mama to do??!

Thursday, April 19


it's a new lease on life, a breath of fresh air, to reinvent oneself periodically. 

i've spent too much time on this blog today already, so here's a short-but-sweet-snippet for you today.

a word the Lord pressed on my heart at my weekly prayer group tonight: 

let all who are thirsty come, 
come to the water and be filled. 
my child, i call you because you are thirsty.
i call you because you are broken, you are empty, you are imperfect.



but my child, do not remain apathetic + complacent in your brokenness, emptiness, imperfection. 

COME. say yes to me. COME AND BE FILLED. drink of my mercy. 

it is not enough to acknowledge your emptiness. 

you must come to the water, drink, be filled. 

come to me and I will make you whole. 


Tuesday, April 17

visiting hour

i wanted to share the following meditation with you. i wrote this piece for 
a Catholic women's magazine called Radiant (click here to see this piece in the magazine). 
it is a meditation on adoring Jesus.


Here I am, Lord.

Sorry it’s taken me so long.
I’ve been so busy, so distracted.
It’s hard sometimes just to make it to Mass.

I must confess, I’m nervous. I'm not sure what to say to you...

It’s been tough of late, but I’ve muscled through.
Sometimes, Lord, I feel I could buckle at any moment.
I’m thankful you made me strong.

Or am I?

Sometimes I feel so alone, so useless, like nothing I do has value or purpose.

But here, I don’t feel alone. Maybe it was you getting me through.
Were you really there?
Are you here now?

Somehow, just being here, I'm at peace.
Nothing, and yet everything has changed.
I feel good enough, cherished, even loved.

But I’ve been away from you. I get distracted by petty things. I forget to pray.
How can you love me even when I forget you?
Still you do.

Here with you, Lord, I feel cradled.
I give everything to you: fears, distraction, tiredness, unworthiness.
I don’t want to forget you again.

I needed this, Lord.
I didn’t know how much I needed this—a time to sit and be loved by you.
I needed you, Lord.
Thank you for being patient with me.

They’ve come to tuck you back into your home in the tabernacle.
I promise it won’t be so long this time.

Or wait.

Could you make my heart your home?

Monday, April 16

in sickness + in health

my older boy, matthew, has been a bit under the weather these past few days. and when i say under the weather, i mean it has slowed him down perhaps a fraction of a percentage from his normal routine of high energy rambunctiousness.

exhibit a - the "sad face"

the kid is as healthy as a horse. i believe this round of not feeling well is only the second time in his baby-and-childhood that i have taken his temperature, maybe third max. he is my inspiration for good health.

but it breaks my heart a little every time he looks up at me with his tired brown eyes that mirror mine, and says, "mama, i no feel good. feel me better, mama." and there's not really much i can do except encourage him to drink, make him nourishing and comforting meals, and give him all the love a mama has to give her boy.

i have to remind myself sometimes that he is still little - and this concept of sickness is really rather foreign to my little picture of health. he understands that he is fighting off germies, but doesn't understand why the all-powerful, all-defeating, all-soothing mama kiss can't immediately make this better. it made yesterday's bee sting all better, it made that tumble off the couch all better, why am i not all better instantaneously now?

i try to explain to him that his body is fighting a battle against yucky germs, and he is winning stupendously. but it'll still take time for his body to be rid of all that grossness inside. he needs to be patient while his body does what it needs to in order to be restored to health.

hint, hint. 

nudge, nudge. 

what, Lord? there's something for me to learn even here?

the next time i demand that the Lord make it all better for me, i'll try to remember what i told my boy - sometimes, it just takes time. time to grow in holiness, time to be patient and wait on the lord, time to glean insight and wisdom from particular situations and challenges.

waiting is no fun. but sometimes the wait is what achieves the goal you desire.

Lord, allow me the grace to make full use of the time i am given.
help me to be present fully in this moment, to use every opportunity to grow in holiness.

help me wait on you, be content in your time, and look for your hand in every circumstance.

photo credit:

Saturday, April 14

finding freedom + beauty in truth

jonathan and i have a love affair with decluttering our home.

it brings us joy that i cannot begin to describe here. we recently emptied out (i mean literally emptied out) everything out of two closets in our home. 40% of what was in those closets left our home forever. the rest was put into its proper place in a beautiful state of order and cleanliness.

and we rejoiced and rejoiced. for days afterwards, jonathan (who does not get excited about that many things) kept exclaiming in wonder over the glory of our decluttered and simplified space. it felt amazing.

today was such a day of decluttering - we tackled the closet in our bedroom, taking turns diving into the murky deep and emerging with handful after handful of clothing items that have not seen the light of day for many months.
 and i had one of those moments of clarity.

before i relay that to you, dear reader, let me first make you aware of a certain truth about myself:

hello. my name is gabi frei, and i am a pack rat.

it is incredibly difficult for me to get rid of things in general, and Lord help me if i become attached to something or bestow upon it sentimental value.

as such, i have clothes that i have held onto since high school, praying and hoping and yearning for the day on which i fit into them again.

here is my revelation.

i am beautiful. period.
i am beautiful in this moment, just as i am.

i am beautiful even though my hips are wider than they used to be. i am beautiful even though nursing two hungry baby boys has taken its toll upon my ladies. i am beautiful even though i will never again fit in those little tank tops or those way skinny jeans.

i am beautiful because i am a mama who has sacrificed a bit of herself to bear life.
i am beautiful now and forever, no matter what my body looks like.

in choosing to embrace the reality of that fact, i was able (finally!) after years of needless holding on, to get rid of clothes that have taken up space in my life and represented both a futile hope and a vicious lie.

futile hope - my body is no longer (and will never again be) the body of an 18 year old.
vicious lie - i will not be beautiful until i achieve that impossible ideal.

the Lord gave me a little nudge to help me get rid of the excess - he revealed to me the beauty in accepting the reality of where i am right now and choosing to make that work for me instead of wishing for what no longer is.

in decluttering my closet, i got a little garbage out of my heart as well.

there is beauty and peace in reconciling ourselves to the truth of where we are in life.

if we spend all our time wishing for what once was, we miss out on the awesomeness of now.

by kicking to the curb all those old garments that never will look good on me again, i made space for new clothes that will accentuate the good and diminish the flawed.

by conquering old insecurities, i will little by little learn to acknowledge the truth of who i am and see the beauty both in my physical advantages and flaws.
because beauty is not just skin-deep. beauty encompasses the totality of who we are. we are beautiful in our looks, in our actions, in our words. at least, we have the capacity of beauty in these things - it falls to us to make the choice to be beautiful, to embrace the beauty in life.

so mamas, cherish every battle scar from bearing children - it is a beautiful, miraculous, lovely thing you have done.

ladies, ignore the voice in your head that tries to convince you that you are not beautiful, because you are, you are, YOU ARE. if no one else tells you this today, hear it from me and believe it with all your heart:

you are beautiful. period.

men, you have the capacity to be heroes. embrace it. we want you to be gentlemen, to be heroic, to be strong and virtuous. we want to be proud of you. we are proud of you. be worthy of it and never forget how we ladies depend on you to be strong.

embrace the reality of where you are right at this moment. find beauty in this present moment.

then, you will find peace.

Friday, April 13

love-hate relationship with life

i enjoy reading other people's writings, be it blogs or even just comments and status updates on facebook.

but every so often (and more often than i care to admit, except of course to you, dear reader), i find myself feeling the familiar pull of anxiety in my heart and gut. my fingers wend their way to my mouth (oh hateful sign of stress) and i begin to compare myself as a mother, as a musician, as a wife to those i read about.

someone once made the point that facebook (and i'll add blogs too) can erroneously make a person out to be more happy, and their life to be more put together and perfect, than reality would show them to be. i know this is true, but i still have a hard time sometimes feeling like others are doing it better than i am.

sigh. i know better than to journey down this wretched rabbit hole of self-doubt.

but i want to be more passionate about where i am right now.

i want to want to be a better wife and mother.

i want to want to make my home a more loving, creative, fun, inspired environment for my hubbs and kids.

i want to want to be more holy tomorrow than i am today.

i want to stop caring about what others think, about what others are accomplishing, and instead focus on what i am doing right now and how i could be doing it better.

because, really, all that matters is this moment and how i choose to live in it.

others will have their own strengths and weaknesses, their own crosses that are not advertized on facebook or blog. i too have my victories and failures that sometimes i share and sometimes i tuck away in my heart.

i am a good mother. i love my children and i love my husband. sure i can be better. that's what tomorrow was made for.

Lord, help me to look to others for inspiration, not comparison. help me love those i meet and not envy their gifts, accomplishments, or talents.

help me become the best version of myself - to see myself as you see me - fulfilled and happy.

Thursday, April 12

as a child rests in his mother's arms, so will i rest in you

hello to all.

a brief little message before my post: i just wanted you to know that no matter who you are or where you are, you are loved today. because i love you. i love that you are joining me in this little journey. i love that you take the time to read the words of my heart and share in my experiences. and so i pray for you specifically right now, that God may reach into the depths of your heart and reveal his love and peace like never before.

now back to our regularly scheduled program.

every so often i find myself with a shrieking infant who is so tired that he cannot do the very thing that he wants, really needs so badly to do: fall asleep. he lays in my arms so rigid, his little body craving the very thing he refuses to submit to.

and i realize that sometimes i am the same way with the Lord. i fight his will, which is the best thing for me. i kick and scream and pout, petulantly demanding MY WAY when his way is the only one that ensures joy and peace.

and the worst part is that our spirits crave what the Lord offers us. we were created to yearn for his love, guidance, and peace. but our obstinate hearts think we know what is best, that the Lord doesn't see our particular circumstances or understand our situation - "if you only knew what i'm dealing with, Lord, you'd see it my way too."

and all along the Lord is embracing me, comforting me in my ridiculousness, cherishing me in spite of my resistance to what he knows is best.

for as much as i love my little daniel in spite of his absurd refusal to simply allow himself to fall asleep, how much more does the Lord look on me with love when i childishly try to assert my independence and explain to him how much i am dealing with and how he ought to be God.

i want to rest in your love. i want to be at peace in you. i want to trust implicitly, to surrender totally.

i want to want what you want. 

Lord, strip from me my childishness. grant me the grace to be childlike, to trust simply in you, to bask in your grace and trust that all will be, if not always happy, at least perfect according to your plan if i simply say fiat.  

i know he's not sleeping, but still so joyful!

Monday, April 9

c'est bon.

i had two encounters today that brought to my attention yet again how very blessed i am.

i had two separate conversations with two very different men--one was a big, burly firefighter, bald head and muscular tattooed arms and all. the other was a father of two with a slight build and a lisp.

both adore their kids. both are in the midst of a divorce. both are worried about how their kids will adjust.

both have wives they cherish, who unfortunately appear to be dissatisfied with their chosen path in life.

i only spoke with the firefighter for a few moments, long enough for me to thank him for his service, and for him to pour out his sorrow to me. he has a beautiful 8 year old and a wife that he just wants to be happy and feel fulfilled in life. and it seems that she cannot find that with the two of them. my heart broke a little for this strong, gentle giant of a man who i could see simply desired the best for his wife and son.

she wanted more, or perhaps different.

the other father i have spoken to before. he lives in our development and his kids are buddies with my boy. when we first met him, i knew within a few minutes of looking in his eyes that he was dealing with heartbreak, and didn't know how to move into tomorrow. he shared openly with me, a compassionate stranger, that he and his wife were entering a trial separation, and though he hoped for the best, he feared the worst. now, 6 months later, they are divorced. his children are beautiful and he loves them dearly. and sadly, he now has to sign up for weekends with them.

his wife too wanted something altogether different for herself.

it made me realize how utterly blessed my life is. difficulties, challenges, and all, i would not trade my husband, my sons, my vocation for the world. it's my life. i have chosen this path and within it, i discover contentment.

nothing is perfect this side of eternity. but there is so much beauty before our eyes.

beauty in a wet slobbery kiss from a nearly three year old.

beauty in the goofy grin from a 2 month old who knows he's just overflowed his diaper.

beauty in the shared glance with a husband across a church when you hear that well-known chorus of "old mcdonald had a farm" sung exuberantly during the consecration of the Eucharist.

there is beauty in exhaustion at the end of a long day. there is beauty in forgiveness after an argument. there is beauty in growing from our mistakes, acknowledging our weakness, and entering together into a new tomorrow.

such is marriage. such is family. such is love.

this is my happily ever after. and i thank God every day for it.

Thursday, April 5

i choose to love.

this has not been my best lent.

i'll admit, lent has always been a challenge for me - i generally begin with the best of intentions, seeking to draw nearer to the lord, carry his cross with him, offer up every hurt and travail for those i love, and make intense sacrifice.

i usually last a week or two, and fall off the spiritual wagon so to speak.

this lent, i honestly didn't even put much thought or effort into what that perfect lenten sacrifice would be. this year, there would be no giving up candy, no sacrificing my caffeine, no getting up extra early to pray or limiting myself to cold showers.

this lent, i had my brand new baby to keep me on my knees.

and it's taken me til now, holy thursday, the cusp of the triduum, to realize the great sacrifice that motherhood in and of itself is. i was berating myself for weeks for failing at lent, for failing to come before the lord with something to offer, for failing to even devote a few extra moments to him in quiet prayer.

and then i realized that for the last two months, i have had no quiet. i have had no extra energy. i have had a baby and a small boy on my hands.

i am living my vocation as a mother to two little boys. i am living one day at a time, striving to learn how better to love my kiddos and my husband. i am surviving on interrupted rem cycles, chain-chugging coffee, and frantic whispers to heaven for grace and patience.

and somehow the lord finds me acceptable and worthy, if only when bathed in the light of his grace.

there will be time enough for daily rosaries, diligent fasts, and devoted prayer time. right now, my mission is not to allow my exhaustion to overshadow my love. i choose to play with my son instead of checking my phone for facebook notifications. i choose to gaze into my baby's eyes as he nurses instead of reading my novel. i choose to embrace my husband as he arrives from work and listening to his account of his day instead of bombarding him with my weariness and challenges.

i choose to live my love. the rest will come in time.

lord, let it be enough that i freely choose to surrender, to give it all to you.
my walls come tumbling down. 
i surrender, lay my life at your feet, dying to myself yet again. 

Related Posts with Thumbnails