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.