Thursday, December 27, 2012


To the slaughter you are being led,
Being told that it's a party,
That this God is in your head.
And every single lie
Sounds just like the greatest truth,
But the one truth you're not hearing
Is that He died for you.

(Dearly Loved by Jimmy Needham)

Often, the world is at odds with God. Jesus tells us we are the lights of the world (Matthew 5:14). Jesus tells us that He loves us so much that He died for us (John 3:16). But then the world tells us that we're far from being a light. We will be only be loved if we are skinnier, smarter, stronger, taller, etc. It seems like everyone around us is against us when we try to live a faithful life. Being a Catholic isn't "cool." Being a Christian isn't "cool." What's cool is YOLO (You Only Live Once) and "no regrets" to justify a worry-free and self-centered life. It's all fun and games... until eternity knocks on your door.

Think about all the glorified aspects of our daily lives that oppose God: TV shows, music, movies, people. They all try to lead us to the slaughter (away from God). Slaughter. That word paints a picture in my mind of an oblivious pig being led blindly to its death. The pig only learns of the evil ahead once it's too late. We all fall victim to this ignorance. We think we can handle it. We think we can listen to the demeaning music, watch the disrespectful shows, and take in anti-Christian media in general and emerge unscathed. We don't realize that, whether we want it to happen or not, such influences corrupt us.

I know I sound like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. I remember reading a blog post about Katy Perry's negative message and initially thinking What's the big deal...? I'm not going to be spending my Friday nights like Katy Perry just because I hear her music. But then I started to think about it, and I realized that the world affects us every second. It may be a little change, but in the end, we can become a completely new person if we're not careful. Think about the first time you heard a song with a cuss word in it. How did you react? Now how do you react? With less shock I would assume. We hear bad habits glorified over and over and over again and soon we grow numb. We accept it. We assume that because it's on TV and everyone is singing about it, it must be happening. And then some people turn this acceptance into action. Fiction becomes reality and lies disguise themselves as truth.

But don't worry....We don't have to be led blindly to the slaughter!!! If you haven't realized you're going to the slaughter, here is your wake up call! If you want to go to the slaughter because everyone else is doing it, run. Run now. You're messing with eternity. You won't be happy just because you go along with the latest opinion of the world. Every single lie sounds just like the greatest truth. Don't buy the lies.

We are tempted to join the party, to let go of God. It's hard to resist, but it's possible. We can jump out of the slaughter line and escape a horrible fate. But remember this: Escaping the slaughter house doesn't mean we will live without suffering. St. Stephen, the first Catholic martyr, was stoned to death for his faith. Those around him didn't agree with what he had to say, so they killed him.

When they heard this, they were infuriated,
and they ground their teeth at him.
But he, filled with the Holy Spirit,
looked up intently to heaven
and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
and he said,
"Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man
standing at the right hand of God  (Acts 7:54-56).

St. Stephen resisted the slaughterers around him. He saw through the lies and saw God in heaven. It wasn't a popular lifestyle. It was painful, but only temporarily. The final reward was a billion times more satisfying than "going with the crowd" could have ever been.

Resisting "the slaughter" does NOT mean locking yourself in a closet with a rosary and only leaving to eat the Body of Christ at Mass (or some variation of this). Definitely not! You may not be in line for slaughter, but you're still blind if you completely block out the negative influences. It's okay to be exposed to the bad in the long as you aren't fooled by it. In the words of Father Alfonse, "we shouldn't run away from it. We shouldn't blindly absorb it either. We should think about it and challenge it and I am sure you will come up with the same answer that I have always come up to: Jesus Christ is the way, the truth and the life; yesterday, today and forever" (via Daily Meditations with Fr. Alfonse).

Once we realize that God alone should be able to change us, we can break away from a fate in the slaughter house. In resisting the slaughter, we accept Jesus. In accepting Jesus, we accept an often painful cross. But we also accept a life devoid of lies, a life lived for yesterday, today, and forever. And what a magnificent life this is.

P.S. Shout out to Kathryn for the CD with Dearly Loved and countless other inspirational songs on it.

P.P.S. Here are links to inspirational Christian songs. Give them a chance! I wasn't into it initially, but I promise, you'll be surprised at how awesome some are!

This is What You Do- Bethel Music
My Dear- Bethel Music
Light Up the Sky- The Afters
10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord)- Matt Redman
After All (Holy)- David Crowder Band
Give Me Your Eyes- Brandon Heath
Beautiful- Phil Wickham
More Beautiful You- Johnny Diaz
Safe- Phil Wickham
City on our Knees- tobyMac
God Gave Me You- Dave Barnes
How He Loves- David Crowder Band
I Can Only Imagine- MercyMe
Live Like That- Sidewalk Prophets
By Your Side- Tenth Avenue North
Change in the Making- Addison Road
You Know Me- Bethel Music
Sweet Sweet Sound- Sarah Reeves
Jesus in Disguise- Brandon Heath
You Are More- Tenth Avenue North
Your Love- Brandon Heath
The Struggle- Tenth Avenue North
Losing- Tenth Avenue North
The Proof of Your Love- for KING & COUNTRY (cool music video)
I Need a Miracle- Third Day
Here I Am to Worship- Christ Tomlin
Sanctuary- Randy Rothwell
Praise You In This Storm- Casting Crowns

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Walk by Faith

We walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

Imagine if a glowing angel of the Lord descended upon you and told you to to follow a star to find a newborn Savior lying in manger. Wouldn't you be terrified like the shepherds in Bethlehem were? Would you question God or even ignore Him completely?

The Wise Men and the shepherds heard the Lord's call. But they did not stop there!!! They answered the call. They had faith. It takes a lot of faith to leave your work and sheep to do the will of God. It takes a lot of faith to give your best gifts away for the Lord.

It would have been so easy for the shepherds to ignore the angel and God. But they didn't. They obeyed God AND they were completely willing to do so. They were filled with joy at the glad tidings of a newborn King. They didn't question God, but rather they trusted that, as always, God would come through.

The Wise Men, too, had to set aside all their knowledge and logic and trust God. Even they were not wise enough to know all the answers. There was no explanation for the magnificent star. God alone is capable of creating such inexplicable wonders. The Wise Men did not follow their minds to Jesus Christ. They followed their hearts and the star. They traveled over field and fountain, moor and mountain to behold the glorious Savior. Years of wisdom could not have brought them the fulfillment that the baby Jesus brought them in one instant.

Today, we would like to think that we are rational and intelligent. We are constantly advancing technologically and expanding our knowledge. We can explain a lot...but not everything. We simply cannot deny the fact that some things are inexplicable. Some things are just God's miracles. The star. The Virgin Mary. Jesus's Incarnation. Jesus's life. Jesus's RESURRECTION! A White Christmas in Texas (just kidding...kind of). The list goes on and on. 

We don't have all the answers. Sometimes we just need to walk by faith, not by sight. And every single one of us has the ability to do so. All we have to do is set aside logic and reasoning for one instant and accept that some things are inexplicable mysteries. Whether we tend sheep or possess the wealth and knowledge of the Magi, Christ's star is shining upon us. God is inviting us to follow Him. Rich or poor, young or old, unintelligent or genius, WE CAN WALK ALL WALK BY FAITH. 

The moment we stop trying to explain God's mysteries, we are able to trust completely in the Lord. Like the shepherds and Wise Men, we need only cast aside our doubts and walk by faith to come face-to-face with our Savior.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


When I was in elementary school, my grandma took me to this "fun engineering" place. It sounds nerdy, but it was actually quite enjoyable. I made paper airplanes and learned about how planes fly. I also remember making an arch out of foam blocks.

The arch seemed 100 miles tall back then, but I think it was probably just around seven feet tall. I started off by myself. I stacked blocks up on the ground in two places. As the arch came together and the curve started to show, I had to enlist the help of my grandma. By the time we got to the top of the arch, we could barely keep it standing. We got some random family to help us out. They held it all together until we could get that keystone, the center block, in between each side. Once we put the keystone in, we stepped back and admired the beautiful foam arch. And then I knocked it down for fun, but that's irrelevant.

I'm no engineer, but I do know that the keystone is the crucial part of the arch. It allows the arch to stay together and support weight.

According to Wikipedia, the keystone is "the final piece placed during construction and locks all the stones into position, allowing the arch to bear weight. Although a masonry arch or vault cannot be self-supporting until the keystone is placed, the keystone experiences the least stress of any of the voussoirs, due to its position at the apex."

The keystone of our lives is God. Or at least it should be. The similar image of the cornerstone is constantly used to describe Jesus. I didn't come up with the correlation, but after thinking about it, I can't believe how accurate it is.

We have a lot of things going on in our lives. Family, friends, work, school, etc. We stack it all up and think we can handle it. And we can for a little bit. Once it starts to get more complicated, however, it gets tough. We need help from family and friends (and random strangers sometimes) if we want to keep building upon our arch. And once it gets to that crucial moment when all hands are on deck struggling to keep that arch up, we realize that no earthly measures are sufficient.

It is at this point that we must turn to God. He is the keystone, the cornerstone, the key. Whatever you want to call Him, He is necessary in the arch and in our lives. Because of Him, everything else makes sense. Everything can fit together and withstand pressure. Without Him, our arch crumbles.

We can make something else the keystone. Material items or emotions can fill the gap, but never fully. They are weak keystones, and weak keystones create weak arches. We could put a pebble on top of the weak arch and it would hold. But when the earthquake comes, it will come crashing down in a heartbeat. If we make anything other than God our foundation, we won't be able to withstand the tough times. Our lives will come crashing down in a heartbeat if we aren't rooted in Christ.

The Keystone of Christ can handle a pebble, a rock, a boulder, a mountain, and more! God can endure anything this world has to throw at us. In this world, we will face trouble. But take heart! Jesus has overcome this world (Jesus says it Himself in John 16:33). The keystone experiences the least stress because it is at the apex. God is at the apex of everything. He created everything, conquered everything, and can handle everything. He will not be affected by earthly troubles. He is not damaged by the stress that damages us constantly. He is the rock that holds us together when everything else is falling down around us.

But unlike an architectural keystone, He doesn't need to placed last during construction. If we have Him there to start with, we know that no matter what pops up in our lives, God is there to support us. The world can throw endless trouble on top of our arch, but with God at the apex, it's not going anywhere.
Kelly enjoying the arches of St. Ann Parish.
Put God first and everything else will eventually come together to form a sturdy arch. Put Him last and there will be no arch for Him to support.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


What if I told you that death was good? It's tough to hear, now more than ever. Now there are names and faces and ages. It's not a TV show. This is real. And it's sad. I am the one typing these words and even I am not fully convinced that death is so great. It is difficult to maintain a positive attitude in the midst of tragedy.

The downside: earth loses beautiful angels. We no longer enjoy their presence. We will never again hear their voice. Only memories remain.

The upside: God willing, they are in HEAVEN right now. No more suffering. No more fear. Never again will they feel pain or sadness. They are happy for eternity. They are watching after you from up there. They have been welcomed into Jesus's loving embrace where they will wait for you to join them.

It should make us happy for them, not sad.

But we focus on our terrible loss instead of their amazing gain, and we are still sad. It's part of being human.  This pain and suffering come with the free will. Someone chose to go against God's will and thus we suffer. Even Jesus suffered. He wept when Lazarus died. He took verbal and physical abuse countless times. He died on a cross for us. Suffice it to say, He knows what we go through. He hopes that, like Him, we will get through the suffering until the "good" emerges from it.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.

---Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

Some of the most amazing and faithful people I know have faced immense suffering. It never ceases to amaze me how they have emerged from their circumstances with such faith in God. They have become beautiful people. Despite struggles, they have managed to find God instead of rejecting Him.

After tragedy, we either turn away from God or turn to God. We can blame Him for our suffering. We can even claim He's not real. We can ask, "Why would God let this happen?" (Which goes back to the free will thing. He let's us choose whether or not we will follow His will). Or...we can turn to Him. We can pray and pray and pray to get through it. We can remember how precious each second is and learn to cherish our time on earth. We can trust that everything happens for a reason.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
And do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He will make your paths straight.

---Proverbs 3:5-6

It's hard to admit that we are unable to comprehend suffering. But we know in our hearts that God will make our paths straight if we trust in Him during anguish. And we know that no matter what we are facing, Jesus understands.

Your path may be crooked right now. Very crooked. But this, too, will pass. God will straighten these crooked paths if we trust Him and the plan he Has in store for us.

Suffering creates the opportunity for a severed relationship with God. But it also creates the opportunity for a strengthened relationship with God. It's up to us. If we react according to God's will, we can find our way "out of the depths" and be transformed into beautiful people.

Dear God, please protect and comfort the families and loved ones of the victims of the Newtown shooting. Help us all to grow closer to You during times of trial and to realize that you will make our paths straight. Amen.

 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18). 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Life is Amazing

You're reading this right now. HOW AMAZING. You're breathing right now. HOW AMAZING. Your heart is beating right now. HOW AMAZING. Life is amazing...and often taken for granted.

Think of all the things that had to work out for you be here today, for you to be reading and breathing and living. First of all, you had to be born. You were not aborted. You did not die. You were given life. You have survived and thrived each day. Think of how easy it is to die. Wrong place, wrong time. One mistake. One accident. One choice. One disease. One instant. I know it's no fun to think about that, but sometimes we are forced to. Life has a funny way of reminding us not to let it pass by too quickly.

The other day, I was driving down the tollway at a little over 50 mph. Suddenly, the cars in front of me stopped. I had to slam the hardest I have ever slammed on my brakes, and for a second I didn't think I would be able to stop in time. As my car screeched to a halt, I looked down at the Guardian Angel coin I had put in my car only a couple of days earlier and thanked God. I don't think I would have died, but it did make me realize how easily one second or one jerk of the wheel could change everything.

We've all had close brushes with death, I assume. An almost-accident, an actual accident, and any type of close call with death are all fairly common occurrences. The fact that we are still alive right now, despite all the things that could go wrong in our lives, is incredible.

Look outside. Look in the mirror. Look at any of God's creations and just think about this. He made it all. He made the world spin and the sun shine. He allows you to wake up in the morning and think and express yourself and eat and LIVE. How amazing is every aspect of our wonderful world? We fail to see the significance of our body's daily workings, our safe commute to work or school each day, and the countless other things that go right every second.

Freshman year, I remember my biology teacher describing the formation of our earth with a memorable analogy. Though time has fogged my memory, I believe the analogy was similar to this: Creating our earth involved so many factors that it was like throwing a million-piece puzzle up in the air. Somehow, every single piece fell back to the ground to form a perfect and complete puzzle. The way everything worked out perfectly in the formation of our earth and in the formation of humans is so remarkable that it couldn't have simply been chance. Something, or rather someOne, guided those puzzle pieces as they fell and allowed our amazing lives to form.

Life is a gift. Your life is a gift. God has given you life...and He will take it away one day. Just as He gives you each day for a reason, He will take you away for a reason. He has blessed you with time on earth at this very moment...but you're running out of it.

We must focus on all the things that go right each instant of our lives. In doing so, we can see the blessing God has entrusted us with. Life is a like a precious present. Why should we allow it to be trampled upon? Why not protect this amazing gift? We're living on borrowed time, and as it runs out, there is only one thing that can keep us from God: ourselves. Let's live each day making the most of the wonderful gift of life God has entrusted us with.

"What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong

Never Alone

Do you feel like you're carrying the world on your shoulders? Do you feel like you're facing difficult times alone? It happens to the best of us. We feel like God has abandoned us when we need Him most. But the truth is....He has never left our side.

In second or third grade, I remember my teacher telling our class about the Footprints in the sand:

One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.

This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.

So I said to the Lord,
‘You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?’

The Lord replied,
‘The times when you have seen only one set of footprints in the sand,
is when I carried you.’

-Mary Stevenson

During times of trial, we sometimes can't help but fall to the ground. Humans were never made to face the world alone.

On our best days, God is with us. On our absolute worst days, God is with us. Whether we accept or reject Him, God is with us. When the going gets tough, we can seek refuge in His arms. He will carry us until we regain our strength. But only if we let Him.

Jesus won't drag us down the path of righteousness. He gives us free will.  He lets us choose where we want to go and promises that no matter where our choices lead us, He  will be nearby. Even when we choose the route furthest from Him, He still walks beside us, waiting to lead us in the right direction the minute we change our minds. And once we have finally chosen to walk with Him, He promises us that He will ease our troubles.

In the words of the Fray in their song The Fighter, “What breaks your bones is not the load you're carrying. What breaks you down is all in how you carry.” Without Christ, the load can easily be intensified until it suffocates us. But when we carry our load with Christ, He removes the burden from our shoulders, just as He carried His cross for our sake. He's willing to lighten the load if we're willing to turn to Him for help.

We can't carry the world on our shoulders alone. Luckily, God is there to help us bear the load. And, unlike us, He will never fail. He will never abandon us. He will never give up until we are beside Him.

Related Songs: 
"Safe" by Paul Wickham
"By Your Side" by Tenth Avenue North


Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said,
"I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
for although you have hidden these things
from the wise and the learned
you have revealed them to the childlike...."

--Luke 10:21
(Gospel reading from a few days ago)

When you were a child, did you know all of God's secrets? Did you have all the answers to His mysteries? I assume not. Why, then, does Jesus say that God has revealed certain things to the childlike?

The "secret knowledge" that children possess, I believe, is wonder. Children are often characterized as innocent and curious. They do not yet know the power of evil. They have witnessed no true darkness in their short lives. Full of hope and determination, children aspire to be the president or an astronaut when they grow up. When I was six, I wanted to be a Jedi Knight... There is no limit to a child's capabilities. They find joy in the simplest of things, and they have not yet learned to be truly "mean." Children wait eagerly near the chimney every Christmas Eve for Jolly Ol' St. Nick. To children, magic and miracles are not only possible, but likely.

Only when these children grow up do they drift away from such wonder. (Caution: Next sentence advised for ages 10 and up). They see that Santa's cookies go to Dad every year and no longer grab binoculars to search for a sleigh in the sky. The Christmas magic, and most other magic for that matter, starts to disappear.

You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned.

The more we learn, the more we think we know. We gain knowledge... but at the expense of our faith. It is becoming more and more common today to see advances in our knowledge that are at odds with our faith. Everything can be explained by science and logic. We spend less time saying our bedtime prayers and perhaps even begin to question why we pray at all. We give God less and less credit. Instead, we find someone else to take the credit for God's greatness. As we grow up, happiness is measured in GPA's and then in salaries and houses and families and cars and on and on and on. We rid ourselves of childlike goals once we discover that there's no such thing as a Jedi Knight and that the odds of being the President or an astronaut are slim. Never again will we be worry-free children. We have seen the darkness, a darkness that cannot be unseen. It is a part of us now, like a scar. We no longer live in a bubble, a place in which our concerns are trivial and ephemeral. The knowledge, the world---it has all corrupted us. Gone are the black and white rules of our childhood. Our moral compass now swings back in forth in a world of grey. Temptations confront us everywhere we turn. New opportunities to sin are presented to us, and our will to resist them is more easily swayed by the pressure of the world. We no longer face the issue of Should I have one more cookie than mom said I could. Instead, we face the issues that change our lives.

We cannot escape this world unscathed. It will take its toll on our morals. It is impossible to resist every temptation. We are sinners, after all. Each sin, each struggle, leaves a mark.

After all of this I have mentioned, how could there possibly be any benefit from growing up? Well, these opportunities to sin also bring us opportunities to learn from our mistakes. The mistakes we can make are no longer as trivial as they were in childhood. Instead, we are making mistakes that affect the course of our futures. How we react to these mistakes, too, will forever impact our lives.

Yes, we have seen the darkness of this world. BUT...these moments of darkness provide us with an opportunity to strive for the light.

If a worry-free life is all you have every known, you most likely have never learned to fully rely on God. Only when life brings you to the brink do you realize how much you need God's wings. Only when you are damaged do you see how much you need the One who accepts you, scars and all. The world will tear us down. It will cut us and bruise us and threaten to knock us out completely. But when we turn to God in times of sorrow, He heals us. Yes, the scars remain, but there is a point to their presence. They remind us of all we have survived. They remind us of the lessons such struggles have taught us. They are a part of us, but they are not all of us.

We can use these scars to create a lasting relationship with God, a relationship that has endured through thick and thin, in sickness and in health. We then will be brought to our knees not because mommy says we must, but because we know we must if we want to persevere through the trials of the world.

Yes, we grow away from childlike wonder. We grow up. There is nothing we can do to prevent this. It is a shame to see our values corroded over we must fight back. We must keep fighting to maintain our childlike wonder.

We won't be children for the rest of our lives, but we can still strive to possess a child's purity.

Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
--Psalm 51:10

Try to remain childlike and God will reveal Himself to you. "Hold on to what you believe in the light when the darkness has robbed you of all your sight" (Mumford & Sons, Hold on to What You Believe). When the darkness of the world surrounds you, don't rid yourself of your childlike light. When temptation breaks you down, don't give in. Fight to maintain your wonder. And when you cannot help but fail, learn from the scars.

My faith in Santa was still going strong at age 9.
I never got an answer from Cookie the Elf. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012


Stress. We've all encountered it. We each react differently to it, but one thing is universal: at some point in our lives, it gets to us.

Prepare yourself. I'm about to give you a rare glimpse into the workings of my mind--or my stressed mind at least. The other day, when a little bit of stress got to me, I decided to write down exactly what I was feeling. Bear in mind that I was sleep deprived and sassy...I apologize in advance. Here are the exact words I wrote throughout the night.

It’s always easier to look back on a tough situation and realize what you did wrong. Retrospection opens up a lot of paths that were invisible in the midst of the event. I usually get stressed or face a problem and then write about it after. But I’ve never posted about my feelings in the middle of stress. So here I go:

I have so much to do. It’s stressing me out. I left dinner early to work on homework. I’m going to do awful  on the quizzes and test I have tomorrow. I’d like to get some sleep. One hour or more would suffice. I wrote about how I was stressed and looked at the stars. Well I don’t have time to do that now or else I’ll be going to bed at 4 am. Well, I’ll probably be doing that anyway. Writing this is only going to make me go to bed later. This better lead to some pretty amazing post or else I will have failed for nothing. God should just give me all the answers now. I don’t have time for this....I don’t have time for anything and I have to wake up early tomorrow and my battery’s about to die on my laptop. This essay needs to write itself. I just want to go to sleep. God please help me. I admit that I’m not praying to You out of pure love like when I look up at the stars or the sun. I am saying it out of desperation and anxiety. Ok I will stop for a second and say it out of love really quickly. God please help me get this done and do well tomorrow. I can do all things through you who strengthen me. Not feeling really strong right now, but that did help a bit. Phil 4:13 helps a lot. I’m repeating it over and over to myself now. I cried earlier but now I’m all good. Oh goodness, I shouldn’t have typed that. I don’t want people to know that I cried about stress. My life is perfect…I don’t cry. I don’t get stressed. I don’t procrastinate. Haha NOT. That looked like Hot. Random. But I’m writing everything that pops in my head. Freud had his pupils do that when examining consciousness. Learned that in psych. Is this actually helping? I feel like I’m getting less stressed just because I’m putting it off more. Okay, I will return to---ah right when I started typing that I thought of everything I had to do and it made me freak out inside. Okay well I really do have to return then to work. I will keep you (whoever I’m writing to) updated.

I’m not as stressed. I’ve only completed one subject so far of my homework, but it helped. I just finished writing an essay on the prophet Ezekiel. He warned the Judeans not to place more faith in Jerusalem than in God. Once Jerusalem fell to the Babylonians, he told them not to lose faith in God. He was still going to help them out. They would be returned to their land in time. I closed the essay with a reference to how it applies today. I basically said that Ezekiel preached a message that is applicable even today: God is with us in both the good times and the bad times. When we ignore him and place others before him, He’s still there waiting to embrace us. Thick and thin. He’s there. It’s thick right now. But it could be a lot thicker, that’s true. I’m feeling better knowing God’s there. Time to continue on with this mental marathon.

Well yay. Just found out that I have been studying for a quiz for the past half hour that is not even tomorrow. Great. And if you’re reading this you’re probably saying wow, come on... you’re alive. Don’t cry. It could be worse. I agree. I always use that when friends freak out. Remind them of all the good things in their life they have to be happy about. And saying that does remind me so I’m feeling better, but it’s just that when I’m caught up in the moment I make a mountain out of a molehill. And its probably because I’m exhausted from the tournament and sleep deprived that I’m freaking out. 

Woop woop. Late night partying. Jk I’m studying implicit differentiation. I think I’m done kind of. I’m going to bed. I’ll get up early and finish it but I’m dead tired right now.

Well, that just about sums up my mental processes during a stressful late night study session. Pardon all parts that make no sense at all. 

After reflecting on what I wrote, I see the error in my ways, as I said I would at the start. Retrospection really does help. I said that I wasn't really talking to God out of love. I was praying that he would give me the easy way out. I was praying because I was tired and stressed and anxious...not because I was grateful and loving and respectful to Him.  I complained that I didn't have time to go look at the stars. What a shame. True, sleep is important, but I just wish I would have found time to look at the stars because I know it would have helped me. Everything was a bigger deal than it needed to be in that moment. My laptop battery is about to die...oh my gosh, what tragedy! 

Moments such as these change us for a bit. We fail to put life in perspective and make mountains out of molehills. We shift our attention away from God. We fail to realize that we can accomplish daily tasks AND still be with God.

Stress is a necessary part of our life, but it must not define us. Don't let stress be the reason you must miss Church. Don't let stress be the reason you snap at friends and family. Don't lose focus of what truly matters (humility, faith, God, love, kindness, etc.) because you are stressed. I'm not saying you should blow off whatever task you are responsible for accomplishing. I am saying that you should look to God as you face these challenges. Looking for Him will bring you joy in a stressful situation. You can turn it into an opportunity to increase your reliance on God. It's easier than you think. When you are embarking upon a difficult task, prayer should be the first thing you do, not a last resort once everything starts falling apart.

It is so much easier to pray to God for strength before and know that He is with you from the start than it is to freak out and THEN ask for strength. Turning to God from the get-go is like laminating a piece of paper before you put it in a shredder. It will survive the shredder without severe damage (I assume...I've never tried it). Turning to God as a last resort, however, is like letting the paper be shredded into a million pieces and then letting God fit them back together again and tape them up. Be a laminated piece of paper!

When you're stressed, find the time to visit the chapel, go to Mass, jam out to Christian music, or just say a quick prayer. Actions such as these will help remind you to turn to Jesus. Recently, I have discovered that one of the best methods for refocusing myself on faith is visiting the chapel in my school...a chapel that is literally feet away from the very same math classroom that often causes this stress. As soon as the door closes, there is instant quiet and peacefulness. I am alone with my thoughts and with God. This may not be your thing, but whatever it is that helps, find it!

Whatever it is that stresses you out (school, work, family, friends, etc.), let it god. Give it to God. If you keep him in the forefront of your mind as you face stressful times, He will lift the burden off your shoulders and help you carry the load. He will help you keep life in perspective. It's not the end of the world if you can't handle it all every once in a while. It's only the end of the world when God says it is.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6,7)

Shout out to Maria for giving me feedback on all my posts. Everybody reading this: Pray for MarMar that she passes her driving test!!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Answer the Call

Earlier today, I started writing a post, but I could not get past the title. I said a quick prayer that God would give me something good to write about. And then I looked at today's Mass readings for inspiration.

Seconds before I typed these words, I was in the middle of the Gospel passage. Then my phone rang. An unknown number from another state has been calling me repeatedly throughout the week since this summer. As usual, I ignored their call. They don't leave a message and I know no one from that state. I googled their number once before and saw that others had reported that it was a scammer. I never imagined the insight these constant calls would bring me.

Just now, as I denied their call, I questioned why I had never answered. Yes, for some reason I began analyzing this simple act. Don't ask me why. Perhaps I have spent too much time contemplating an English essay today. Nonetheless, I was amazed at what I found.

I think I never answer because I don't want to confront this caller about whatever "scam" he or she is trying to sell to me. If I answer, they're going to tell me about the taxes I owe or the error I've made. And I don't want to go to all the trouble that answering would cause. To get them to stop calling, I thought, maybe I can have my dad answer next time and work it out for me. 

I spent only about a minute wondering why I never answer, and then I finished reading the Gospel. I read these words when I flipped back over to it:

People will die of fright
in anticipation of what is coming upon the world,
for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.
And then they will see the Son of Man
coming in a cloud with power and great glory.
But when these signs begin to happen,
stand erect and raise your heads
because your redemption is at hand.

(Luke 21: 26-28)

And then it hit me. I knew what to write about. 

Though a phone call from a scammer is not shaking of the heavens, my contemplation of those calls opened my eyes to the significance of this passage. This passage refers to the final coming of Christ, but its message is applicable to our daily lives, as well. We become afraid when we see God coming down to us. We hide sometimes. We don't want to confront Him about whatever he is trying to sell us, and some of us go so far as to claim that He's selling a lie (but rest assured, God's call is not a scam like in my example). We would rather avoid the trouble that answering would cause. Besides, He is calling to remind us what we did wrong, right? To try to get Him to stop calling, we stand aside and let others answer His call. 

But when these signs begin to happen, stand erect and raise your heads because your redemption is at hand.

Every day is an opportunity to grow closer to redemption. God calls down to us because He wants us. He is jealous for us. And we should want Him, too. We know in our hearts that by answering Him, we invite the opportunity for a wonderful life. But we also know that we invite a whole lot of trouble. So we make excuses. 

If we answer God's call to do His will, we will feel guilt when we mess up. We will be mocked. We will miss out on living life in the now. It's not for us...someone else should answer the call. 

Well, God has heard these and countless other excuses before. And he has a response to each one. Are you afraid  of feeling guilt? God forgives us.  Are you afraid of being mocked. Christ said it Himself in Matthew 5:10. Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Are you afraid of missing out on life because you have answered His call? If anything, your life will be more meaningful and more fulfilling if you accept Him. Do you ignore Him because the call is "not meant for you," because you think someone else would be better fit to serve Him? God calls everyone. Ready or not, He's calling YOU at this very moment.

We have no excuse. There is no good reason for us to ignore the call to be faithful followers of Christ. When we see signs of God's love and glory, when God calls us out by name to follow Him, we must not hide and ignore Him. Instead we must stand up and raise our heads. Our future, our happiness, our chance at life after death is at hand. He won't stop calling, so you might as well answer Him now. That one act of acceptance will change your life.

Note: Do not answer the scammers, only God.

Me in Midloathian, Texas.
 Moment captured by Caroline.

Now if only I could somehow stumble upon inspiration for that English paper.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Wear Your Cross

As Christians, we are called not only to bear our crosses, but also to wear our crosses.

Sure, we can wear a physical cross (or any other religious piece of jewelry) to show our faith. In fact, I love such items. They show the world that you are proud of your faith and serve as a reminder to yourself to put God first. But at the moment, I would like to focus on a more metaphorical reference to "wearing a cross."

You can wear a cross simply by being your true self.  Transparency is risky. By opening yourself up, you invite not only closer relationships, but also criticism. You can be a walking reminder of Christ!!! In doing so, you could inspire others to strengthen their relationship with God. Or you could be mocked. Facing criticism...well that is a cross we must bear.

I assure you that the benefits of transparency far outweigh the possible backlash.

Quite recently, transparency changed my life. I discovered that I had friends that would talk with me about faith. I can't believe that this now amazing part of our friendship had been missing for two years! I remember when I first opened up to one friend.

I was driving her home and had the navigator programmed---navigating is a weak point of mine. Instead of going north, I went south. I kept ignoring the navigator, thinking it was at fault instead of me. Once we reached downtown, we realized that I messed up. We wandered all over unfamiliar parts of the city. I learned to trust my navigator over my instincts. As we spent much time trying to get back on course, the topic of faith came up. My friend was a devout Catholic! I had known her since freshman year and we never really brought up religion. Well, we talked and talked and talked about faith and God and everything. And then, to top it all off, we saw this:

God checking in on us during the drive. I have
 absolutely no idea where this picture was taken. 

Everything happens for a reasonThere was a reason I got lost. And now, I thank God for this drive every time this friend and I go to Mass or talk about God. This experience came to me at a crucial part in my faith journey. It gave me courage to open up more and more, something that aided my spiritual growth (and something I'm working on even now). It taught me to share my faith, even when I'm hesitant. It helped me develop more faith-filled friendships with amazing people. Yes, I've been laughed at. It's not the best feeling in the world. Actually, it really doesn't feel good at all. But then I remember that drive and I know in my heart that this transparency is worth it. 

When we open ourselves up and let our faith show, sure, we can be mocked. BUT...there is also the possibility for the most wonderful discoveries.

Matthew 5:14-16
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.

Don't hide your faith. YOU ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Stand up and stand out as a beacon of light for all you meet.

Thursday, November 22, 2012


God is everywhere. Like I mentioned in a previous post, He's in the stars and the sun and the clouds. He's even in the people we encounter every day. PEOPLE! I think that this amazing form of God's presence deserves its own post. More often than not, we take these amazing people, these reflections of God's love, for granted!

This year, I've realized how special the people in my life are. Material items are nice, but I honestly don't know where I would be without my family, friends, and mentors. They are the ones that lead me down the right path, inspire me, and affect the person I am today and forever. These role models, not my possessions, have helped me grow in faith and become a happier person. Though I don't always recognize it, God does His will through these amazing people.

Whether or not we take notice of it, God's light shines through the people in our lives. After all, He did make each one of us and lives within us constantly.

“Christ has no body now on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which to look out
Christ's compassion to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about
doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now.”

― St. Teresa of Ávila

God has no hands and feet in this world but our own. We must live as walking proof of God's existence. Think of how nice the world would be if everyone treated each other like a reflection of Jesus. Think of how nice the world would be if we all realized that Jesus is inside of ourselves, as well. We would respect ourselves and our neighbors and aspire to emulate Jesus in all things.

If we remember that God wishes to use our hands and feet to spread His word, we will be able to open ourselves up to God. With this acceptance of God, we allow Him to work through us. Knowing that God has worked through you is one of the most amazing feelings in the world. Who wouldn't want to convey a message from the one and only, almighty and ever-powerful GOD?!

Similarly, we must be eager to seek God's voice in others. God works through the people around us always. Jesus can be found in the both the most expected and unexpected places; he's working through our teachers, parents, coaches, friends, family members, priests, nuns, and even random strangers! He uses humans to reach us when we cannot hear Him directly.

Thank God for these role models. Where would I be without them? Sometimes, whether I mean to or not, I can't hear God speaking to me. I don't hear His voice...until He speaks through someone else. That gets my attention and allows me to recognize His unending and watchful presence in my life.

Don't take them for granted. The people we surround ourselves with will change us for better or worse. If we want to become better people, we need to surround ourselves with those aiming for the same goal. And once we have formed this relationship, we must remember to CHERISH ONE ANOTHER.

God blesses us with great companions to aid us in our life's journey. He sends them to us for our own good. It's only right that we appreciate them!!

How many people do you love? How many people do you constantly say "I love you" to? I know my numbers are low on that second part. Just think about what would happen if the people in your life left you suddenly. Sometimes we don't realize how much we loved them until it's too late. I'm not saying we should go around saying "I love you" to every person that walks by...unless that's your kind of thing; then go for it! Whether you say it via words or actions, let them know. Let them know that you are thankful.

If you find yourself running dry on the thankful attitude, just attempt to imagine life without some of the people in your life. Think of the person you were before you knew them and compare it to the person you are now. God put every person we know in our lives for a reason. We must look for this reason always and express our gratitude for these people, these wonderful gifts from God.

Look for Jesus. Seek Him in others. Seek Him in yourself. He is there, I promise. Open your heart and He will reveal Himself to you.

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you" (Matthew 7:7).

To all my loved ones: Thank you for being a part of my life.

There are too many amazing people in my life than could fit in this photo.

Dear God, please allow me to do your work every day in every way. Thank you for the life and the people you have blessed me with, and help them continue to guide me as I venture forward on my journey to You. Amen

Have a great Thanksgiving and THANK YOU FOR READING!

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Sky is Not the Limit

Pei Wei is an amazing restaurant. I could eat there every day for the rest of my life and I would never get tired of the food.

Another thing I would never get tired of are the fortune cookies. Yes, I admit there are the occasional pointless fortunes...But when I happen to open up a relevant and meaningful fortune, it makes me smile. Tonight I found this one: "The limit to your abilities is where you place it."

Have you ever heard the saying, The sky's the limit? Well, forget that. It's wrong.

Why place your limit so low? Above the sky, space extends forever. Outside of space, Heaven extends even further. Why aim only for the sky?

The same applies for our duty as followers of Christ. Why love God only half-heartedly when you can love Him with your whole heart, soul, and mind? Why settle for second best? In the end, perhaps second best could be the difference between a life with Him and a life completely devoid of Him. It may not seem important now, but I believe it will when that end does come. 

All too often, we set the limit of our faith too low. We don't realize that we are capable of deep and lasting closeness with God. We leave that stuff to the priests and nuns and "Jesus freaks." 

Personally, I know that those who have set the bar high in their faith are inspirations to me, shining examples of how to live a faith-filled life. To people such as these, no limit can get in the way of the final goal of Heaven. 

If we place our limit low, we won't strive to enter through the narrow gate to eternal life. We'll settle. We will let our faith and our relationship with God slip into the background. And though we may think we can do perfectly well without God, this separation will take its toll.

If we place our limit high, however, we will grow in our faith each and every day. We will live a life focused on what truly matters. We will prepare ourselves and our neighbors to be reunited with Jesus. And consequently, we will live happier, more meaningful lives.

The limit is yours to place. But before you decide, ask yourself this: Why WOULDN'T you want to set the bar high? In doing so, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. God knows you will fail to reach it at times. That's why He forgives us. And if we do reach this goal, we truly have EVERYTHING to gain--or  everything that honestly matters, at least. Why settle? Why aim for the sky when Heaven's out there, too? 

Two of my favorite things: Pei Wei and a beautiful sky.

Your lucky numbers are 14, 19, 23, 27, 35, and 40.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Seeing God

I was having a stressful night. I decided to take a break from homework and go lay outside and look at the stars. It was freezing outside, but as soon as I saw the Little Dipper, I couldn't move. I was captivated by the stars, even though I couldn't see too many of them. I thought of one line of a song I like that describes the stars as being "up on heaven's boulevard." I thought that was a pretty accurate description. It seemed like I was seeing a tiny piece of heaven up there in the sky. It amazed me to think that God created all the stars I could see and SO many more. I was looking at part of a masterpiece. Thinking about this made me overwhelmed with peacefulness. I was overcome by a sudden urge to share all these random moments of closeness with God. And thus, this blog was created. It may serve no purpose for anyone at all. It may be a waste of a URL...But maybe, just maybe, God will do me the immense honor of using my voice to say something that could possibly help you.

If it helps just a tiny bit, that makes it more than worth it for me.

It's amazing to me how something as simple as gazing at stars could turn my day around. I was looking for relief, and God gave it to me through the stars. My worries disappeared. The stress dissolved and it pained me to return to reality after such a beautiful encounter with God.

I see God through nature a lot of the time. Whenever I see a ray of sunlight peaking out behind the clouds, I immediately connect it with God. To me, it means God's love is shining down on me from above. The same applies for looking at the wonderful stars in the night sky. One of the most serene moments of my life occured this past summer. I was laying outside on a boat looking up at the stars in the middle of the ocean during vacation. There was no other light to distract me from God's beauty. I counted 7 shooting stars and spent probably two hours out there. Though I believe no backyard stargazing session can compare, every time I look up at the night sky's stars I am reminded of the beauty of God's creation.

The sky represents so much for me. It serves as a reminder not only of God's beautiful handiwork, but also of heaven. The sky reaches up into the heavens, into the unknown beautiful abyss. I like to think heaven is in some alternate dimension up there in the magnificent sky. It seems like the only place worthy of housing the Kingdom of God.

Sometimes, God is right under my nose instead of above my head. Most of the time, He goes by unnoticed. I often fail to realize His presence in the little things: the song lyric that answers my prayer, a smile from a friend, and so much more. God is at work in our lives more than we could possibly imagine. We may feel like our prayers are being ignored until suddenly we realize that the darkness has gone away.

I have found that God uses people in the most unbelievably amazing ways sometimes. It's truly crazy that someone will tell me exactly what I need to hear exactly when I need to hear it. It never ceases to amaze me when the sermon at Mass answers exactly the question I had asked God.

Sometimes, we wish we could just know the correct answers right from the start. But God has other plans. It is so much more gratifying, I think, to see your prayers answered in the most unexpected places. THAT is proof of God!

In fact, I know that proof of God can be found in each soul we meet. After all, God is the one who breathed the life into us all. Whether we ask for it our not, God works through us. Maybe it is a song played at exactly the right time, a blog post that answers our prayers, the compliment that makes our day, etc. Or it could be a bit more difficult to spot: the sun shining down on you or a warm breeze that puts you at peace. It may sound "stupid", but I honestly believe that these types of things are signs from God that are often overlooked. He lights up the sky to tell us that He's watching over us. He speaks to you through a neighbor to tell you that He has not abandoned you.

HE'S EVERYWHERE!  I promise you this. All we have to do to see Him everywhere is open our eyes.

I saw God on the way to Fort Worth this summer.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Do Not Fear

Fear can drive us to do crazy things. It creates desperation and panic. It changes us. We see it every day. We fear being laughed at and excluded. We fear failure. We fear clowns and planes and blood and heights and on and on and on. 

Irrational or not, our fears limit us. Fear traps us in a box and makes us feel like we will never escape. There's only one way out of the box...God. But if we ever want to escape fear and run to God, we must believe and hope. The minute we stop believing that God can deliver us to safety, our eyes fail to see that one Way out. How can we run to an escape we don’t believe exists? To conquer every fear, doubt, and worry, we must believe. When we believe, we can choose for ourselves whether or not fear will change us. 

If you don’t believe me, look in the Bible.

While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe” (Mark 5:35-36 ).

Jesus said it Himself. DO NOT FEAR...ONLY BELIEVE. 

One of my favorite Bible verses is Philippians 4:13. "I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."  ALL things. When I'm having a good day, this verse reminds me that God is giving me this strength and encourages me to show gratitude for His support. When I'm having a bad day, this verse is my lifeline. It reminds me that no matter what obstacle looms above me, I have God on my side. 

He is protecting us always. If you believe this, you can overcome anything.

When you're drowning in worry, pray to God for strength. He will help you overcome every fear you face in this world. He will guide you safely away from this fear that engulfs you…but only if you are willing to place your trust in Him. What do you have to be afraid of when your Father is God, the creator of all things? When fear paralyzes us, we must remember that God is always with us. Luke 1:37 says “Nothing is impossible with God.” Whatever unimportant thing you are afraid of…let it go! Don’t be afraid.

Well, we’re only human. I know as well as you do that it’s not as easy as that. But try to eliminate your fear! Trust in God and believe that He will deliver. Think of Abraham who wandered for years because God told him to. He must have gotten worried, afraid, or skeptic, but in the end, God fulfilled His covenant. Think of Noah. Have you seen the movie “Evan Almighty”? It’s an interesting take on the ancient Flood Story, but something about it did strike me. “Evan” is ridiculed and embarrassed as he builds a giant ark. He puts his family and career in jeopardy because He is listening to God. I would be afraid if I was Evan or Noah! But in the end, God delivers. Abraham reached the Promise Land. Noah survived the flood. God was right, as He always is.

No test, needle, shark, or plane is stronger than God. Not even death can compare; Jesus conquered death! Don’t fall for the illusion of fear. Fear will tear you down. God, on the other hand, will bring you up. Have you ever heard the saying, "Don't let the fear of striking out keep you from playing the game"?

Don’t live a life driven by fear. Live a life driven by God, a life all for good and all for God. And ALWAYS trust in His limitless power. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


I was once afraid of the outspoken Christians. No, I didn’t quiver in fear in their presence, but rather it unnerved me to see their devoutness. What did they have that I didn’t? Why wasn’t I like that? I secretly admired these people’s courage to speak out for their beliefs despite the backlash that could result. I went to Mass and prayed, but I knew that God wasn’t the center of my life, as it appeared to be for these people. As much as I hated to admit it, I think I always wanted to be like them. And then I realized (eventually) that it wasn’t some gift given to a select few. God’s grace is given to all. I needed simply to accept Him.

Now I know that not everyone is called to become an outspoken follower, but for some reason, I am quite slowly beginning to think that is my role to play. Before now, I lacked confidence in Him, confidence that He would be with me every step of the way each and every day. Yes, I still experience times of doubt today, as I will for the rest of my life. That’s a part of being human. However, this inevitability doesn’t mean I should give up on trying. And that is what I am aiming to do: try. I am trying to incorporate God into my life. He shouldn’t be a spectator to my life, but rather, He should be the reason I even live. Instead of shoving God into a corner and talking to Him only when I need Him, I now resolve to make Him the center of my life. Yes, I will fail. Over and over again, I will fail, as has every other follower of Christ. I will at times be ashamed of my faith, no matter how often I tell myself not to be. It is what I make out of failures such as this that will define me. Will I back down after insult, or will I turn it into motivation to speak louder? Will I let a bad day define me, or I will fight it with the brightest Light in the world?

Questions such as these are necessary to faith. Life will throw each and every one of us for a loop. We will be tested, broken, rebuilt, and then broken more irreparably than before. Despite the abuse we are certain to take, we will always have Jesus standing in our corner rooting for us. We’re worth it. The fight is worth it. Because in the end, I know there will come a time when God will assess not the cards we were dealt, but rather how we played them. So let’s play them well.