Saturday, January 25, 2014

Discerning God's Will in a New Year

I haven't blogged this month because I've been going through a period of reflection and transition in my career.

This past year, I published five books, an e-book and an app and also provided social media management for 1st Way. I stayed stressed all the time and still didn't reach the business goals I had in the original grant proposal. It was too many balls to try to juggle, although overall, I'm happy with the results of last year.

Insights from Carmel by Patricia Tresselle, OCDS, got released at the wrong time with the wrong files. If you've purchased this book, we'll send you another one free. Big glitch but problem now solved. Luckily, we caught it really fast and the problem is fixed now. This book is a Secular Carmelite formation manual that can be used by anyone, Carmelite or not, to grow closer to union with God.

I'm about to receive a "second tier" of grant funding. So, I'm trying to finish writing my updated business and marketing plan for the next six months. The plan is this- I'm publishing a book by Deacon Matthias Lugendo and I am developing an app on a "secret" subject. The rest of my attention will be towards marketing projects for the seven products I already have out on the market. No more social media work for any other companies, either. (Although this could change, as I'm not through writing the plan.)

You might have noticed I am "all about Uganda" lately. Yes. It started because I met someone online who impressed me immensely- a brilliant deacon who grew up in an extremely poor village with no running water, no shoes. He survived typhoid and malaria and being abandoned by both parents at the age of six. He has the best attitude toward life of anyone I've known. Nothing is more humbling than to help Deacon Matthias publish his autobiography, to record his story of  how he consistently overcame these odds through faith in God, deep gratitude and trust that he would make it through to be of service to God. He has a natural heart of gold, the kind of heart most of us have to work hard all our lives to try to cultivate. 

I'm a person of both enthusiasm and a tendency towards extremes. Since I am Catholic, I get to call it "zeal," so it sounds like I'm practicing great virtue when I throw myself headlong into a cause. So, I set up a scholarship fund for seminarians on Go Fund Me. The results weren't bad. The fund influenced a full scholarship, partial scholarship and donation towards books. I know at least two of the four seminarians I was trying to raise money for are going to go back to school this semester. The other two will not make it because the deadline has either passed or will pass in the next few days. So, I still did not think the results were very good enough.

I have since spoken with Fr John Judie of Father John Judie Ministries, which provides scholarships to seminarians all over east Africa. Father John is not covering Uganda right now but he outlined a way for me to be more effective in fundraising. I'm considering starting a non-profit as a part of that. I need to approach this in a more strategic way. Also I'll need to work on contacting and working with the seminaries directly, so funds can hopefully go directly there. Crowdfunding doesn't seem to be the best medium for this, although I'm still keeping that platform open for people who want to use it. The money will still go to seminarians.

I believe that people who give all their hard work and dedication towards overcoming great obstacles for the glory of God should be helped when they've done all they can and it's still not enough. That is why it is important to sponsor seminarians in third world countries, such as Uganda. Is this to be God's will for me forever to me to work towards this? For a few months? That's up to God and not me. I might even find my time is too limited to do as much for that cause as I really want to do.

I resigned as president of 1st Way, Eugene. I realized I was wrong about what God was calling me to do. I'm still sad about it and miss it. I wish them all the best and hope they continue to grow and thrive and save lives of babies and empower women to take care of themselves, carry their children to term and still live meaningful lives with education and careers.

One of the toughest things in the world is discernment of God's will, but I can tell you what God's will is not:

God's will is not to assume we have found the right ministry in life and to confidently and rigidly cling to that. God's will is not to assume we are better than others because we think we do things better than they do, or to insist we be the best. God's will is also not to be downcast and gloomy, to project negative outcomes in life, to wish negative outcomes in life for others, or to reject the mercy and grace of God because we'd rather feel sorry for ourselves or punish ourselves. We don't get to do this and pretend we are still following God's will. These are sins.

I know a little bit about what God's will is:

God's will is to be open, receptive, positive and trusting, even if he leads us down a windy road or what feels like a confusing maze. God's will isn't as much what specific things we need to choose as much as it is about choosing to give God the reins and allow Him to be our master or not.

We get to make this choice every day of our lives and every moment of our lives. It is the ONLY important decision we make.

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