Thursday, October 25, 2012

Don't just react; live!

I started doing an assessment with my clients. It reviews how they were raised and how they are raising their kids, what's currently going well for them and what's not going so well. Most importantly, it asks what their "perfect world" would look like, and then details a few simple steps for them to get there. This got me thinking.

Time flies. Seriously. I'm trying to remember the last time that I actually noticed the date and consciously realized what I was doing. I'm finding, more and more, that I'm becoming reactionary. I see what the day throws at me, and I try to handle it as best I can. I feel like I'm being too passive in "seizing the moment" so to speak. I want this to change.

Think about your "perfect world". What would it look like? What would you do? How would you spend your time? Guess what. You can do it in real life too. The intangible can become reality; it takes discipline and conscious effort.

I'll give you an example. Currently, I'd like my day to look something like this: Get up early. Run about 4 or 5 miles. Workout for 30min. Spend an hour in prayer. Work and do my visits until 5. Have the evening to do activities(soccer, volleyball, etc) and read(spiritual works, psychology, counseling, Dickens, etc).

See? That's totally doable. In order for it to happen though, I have to cut out the unnecessary distractions, such as TV(why are TV shows soooo addicting?! haha).

All this to say that I'd like to encourage to take back your life. Don't just react; live! Work towards achieving your perfect world.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fun fact

Here's a little known fact about me; I own a telescope. My uncle gave it to me on my 13th birthday. I had completely forgotten about until today, when I was rummaging around in my closet and stumbled upon it again. Talk about a cool (re)discovery! 

Lately I've been craving green and growing things, mountains and hiking, star gazing, and pretty much anything else that will allow me to spend some time with Mother Nature. I was in Denver 3 weeks ago, and got my tree and flower fix. Washing Park is the place to be! Yesterday I went to Sedona, and got my hiking fix(plus more gorgeous trees and even a creek!). I sat on a boulder in the middle of the creek and let the sound of the rushing water pour over me. It was so lovely. On my flight home from Denver, I watched the Big Dipper the whole time. I'd never seen it so big! Looking at it from above the clouds makes a huge(hehe) difference. Tonight, courtesy of my telescope, I got another taste of that star gazing-ness. Unfortunately, the bugs in our back yard also got a taste of me. I got about 6 bites in 5 minutes. Good old Mother Nature. 

All this to say that I'll be back tomorrow night, armed with bug spray this time, prepared to peruse the sky for more celestial wonders. I'm pretty sure I saw a planet tonight, but I'll have to look again when I've got my bug armor on. ;)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Are you worth it?

Worth. Self worth. It's an incredible topic. It's also a sore spot. When people really take time to think about how they value themselves, if they really think they're worth it, it opens up a world of insecurities. Deep down, I think we all are struggling with if we're good enough, or if we're worth something. We each have our own way of dealing with what we find, but the question is still there.

This is something that's been on my mind for a while now. That is, since February, when I was suddenly confronted with the revelation that I didn't believe in me, didn't trust that I was worth it. Let me tell you, it was not a pleasant experience. Ever since that day, I've noticed Insecurity rearing it's ugly head all around me. Once I really stopped and looked at me, that is, alllllll of me(insecurities, failures, successes, strengths) I found ME. And it was almost like I was seeing myself for the first time.

I was afraid to accept everything about me. Afraid to embrace it all, because it's not all pretty stuff. In the moment that I found ME, I began to really understand Jesus. Me and Jesus, yeah, we're buddies and we have been for as long as I can remember. This was a profoundly different experience though. Think about it: Jesus Christ fell. GOD FELL! He fell 3 times. And each time, He got up. He got up, and kept walking towards His death.

Now tell me, how does that make sense? No. It really doesn't. Plain and simple. And that's God. He doesn't make sense. But He does. I love it!!!! "The foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength." God is the King of Contradictions; He brings us out of our natural inclinations, and draws us up into our higher, better, spiritual nature. What He says makes sense but doesn't at the same time. Somehow, that is a beautiful wonderful, powerful, crazy awesome thing!

My main point is this: everyone struggles with feeling worthy or wanted. Guess what? You are good. I'll say it again. You are good. You don't have to earn it, you don't have to do anything at all, in fact. Simply because you are, simply because you exist, you are good.

Wanna know why Jesus was crazy enough to get up 3 times? Wanna know why He embraced His Cross? Wanna know why He kept getting up, and walking to His death?
It was for you.
You don't have to do anything, or be anything.
He thinks you're worth it. 
If God, the Creator of the universe, the Source of all that is good, thinks you're worth it, believe me, my friend, you are.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Stand in the gap!

I've always loved the phrase and accompanying image of standing in the gap. Let me walk you through what I picture when I hear that phrase:
There's complete and utter darkness about to engulf a lone person. This person is completely bowed down, unable to lift their head; everything about them bespeaks weariness. They aren't alone though. There's someone standing over them. This person has his arms spread, forcibly keeping the darkness at bay, as if by the sheer power of his will. Everything about him is strong and determined. With his arms spread wide, he takes every blow delivered. He doesn't flinched or cry out. He simply stands his ground, taking the hits while the weary person rests. He shields and protects them.

So yeah. In that simple phrase, I found a fascination and power that I can only very poorly describe. Actually, this image brings tears to my eyes every time. It's so incredibly beautiful.

My clients have been through Hell; their lives are often living nightmares. Some of them have been almost beaten to death. Some have been completely abandoned, and left to barely survive on their own. And those are practically standard cases. Despite all of that, there are people fighting for them. These people exist to make horrendous visions disappear. They exist to bring light, peace, joy, healing, and strength back into life. I have come to an even deeper appreciation of God because I've seen this process. Why did my clients have to experience Hell? I don't know. What I do know is that God hasn't abandoned them; He's placed people in their lives that can make life livable and beautiful again. I've been able to witness, first hand, this incredible advocacy. There is help. There is a way out. There is a chance for healing and growth. Nothing is impossible.

Love can bring about incredible changes. Loving someone involves a certain amount of vulnerability. It means being willing to reach out, even when there's a chance of getting hurt. Love isn't easy, but it kind of is. To love is to sacrifice, but it doesn't always feel like one. Yes, life is hard. Yes, bad things happen, things that no one should ever have to experience. It's not hopeless though. There are people who can and will help. They will never stop fighting, because they have truth and justice on their side. Yes, it's an exhausting fight, but seeing someone set free makes it totally worth it!

Don't be afraid to fight on the front lines, because you'll never fight alone. Jesus Christ is there, with the angels and the saints. The darkness cannot overcome Him. Fight on! Stand strong! We will have the victory.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Open Arms

Currently, sleep is eluding me. I think I've prayed for everyone I can think of, and blessed God for practically every gift He's given me, and yet, here I am, wide awake.

I've been contemplating the idea and importance of truth lately. It's not any easy thing to receive. A lot of the time, it can almost seem like a slap in the face. When we know the truth, though, we know where we stand; we can make decisions based on our new awareness. It's freeing.

As humans, we wear masks. We struggle with wanting to stand out but wanting to blend in. We're all afraid of being rejected. We're all afraid of being alone. And so we go about our lives, only rarely revealing pieces of ourselves.

Living for God, and in a Eucharist way, means that we're being called out of ourselves and into God. He's challenging us to reach out to others, and reach up to Him. For me, this is a constant struggle. I want to live for God, I want to be holy, and I want to help others. Unfortunately, fear often holds me back: fear of rejection and of ridicule.

Being Christian means that I follow Christ. Christ wasn't afraid to be different for God. Christ embraced His cross, His suffering, His death. He lived with His arms wide open, for anyone to come. That's what being a Christian really means. At every moment, I must embrace my cross. At every moment, I must walk with Christ to Calvary. At every moment, I must remember that He lived as He died, arms stretched out to the world.

God calls us to reach out. And that's the truth. I have been set free to live in the Truth. If I want to be really and truly free, then I must live as He lived, with open arms.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

I've had some pretty exciting birthdays. Last year, I ran a half marathon in San Fransisco. Two years ago, I randomly decided to visit a friend in Denver. You get the idea. Every year, I wonder what my next birthday will be like. Let me tell you, I couldn't have even begun to imagine this year's.

My neighbor, Pat, died on Thursday. She was like a grandmother to me. She believed in me and supported me all through school. She was ecstatic when I graduated with honors in May. I'll never forget that moment when I told her. Two weeks ago, her husband, Dave, came and got my mom because Pat had fallen out of bed and wasn't speaking. My parents spent the next 2 days at the hospital. For two weeks, Pat didn't speak. When I went to say goodbye, she looked like she was asleep(so very peaceful). I told her I loved her, and how much she meant to me. Even though her eyes couldn't open and she couldn't talk, she squeezed my hand, comforting me. She was on her deathbed, and she was comforting me. That was her legacy. She always reached out to people, and made them feel special. She never forgot anyone, and was always invested. She touched and changed lives, often without either person realizing it.

Pat's funeral was this morning. The flowers were beautiful, the music was soothing, and the Mass was healing. Pat is the first close loved one that I've lost. I've never felt that pang of separation before. At one point during the funeral, the priest painted a beautiful picture of Heaven, and told us to picture Pat standing at the gates with Jesus and all the people that have gone before us, welcoming us home with open arms. That's what I'm holding on to.

I was dreading today in a way, scared that the funeral would somehow ruin my day. Instead, Pat has given me a beautiful birthday present. I'm reminded of the importance of family and friends, of treasuring the time I have with them. I'm reminded that God is the Source of all that is good, and that all that is good must and should return to Him. I'm reminded of the importance of reaching out to people, even if I barely know them. I'm reminded that building someone up, and sharing in their accomplishments(as well as their struggles), can change their lives forever. On my birthday, Pat reminded me of the gift of Life.

All this to say that today has been a beautiful birthday, in a way that I could never imagine. Even in the hardest times, God blesses us. Hold your loved ones close, but rest in the knowledge that the Creator of the Universe, the Source of all good things, will take care of them when it's time to let go.

God bless you!

Sunday, July 8, 2012


"That I, Paul, might not become too elated, because of the abundance of the revelations, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, an angel of Satan to beat me, to keep me from being too elated. Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness." I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me. Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

I'm a perfectionist. I beat myself up for not doing everything completely right all the time. I'm afraid of failing. I'm afraid that I'm not good enough. I'm afraid that I'll make a fool out of myself by saying or doing the wrong thing. I'm afraid that I'll mess something up. I'm afraid that I will be alone. I'm afraid that I'll be forgotten. I'm afraid that I'll let my loved ones down. 

I am afraid. 

I've struggled with fear my entire life. It's my "thorn in the flesh". I've asked God to take it away, but He hasn't. Instead, He's asked to be able to work through it. Fear is my ultimate weakness, and He wants me to acknowledge that and let it become my greatest strength through Him. In realizing that I am weak, I realize that I need help. I don't know how, but it seems that a person who calls for help after a long struggle has become powerful. The act of reaching out and letting go demonstrates strength, though we often feel like we're at our weakest then.  

After we fail or fall, we experience the fullness of God's love and forgiveness. If we were perfect all the time, we wouldn't need those great gifts. God didn't come to call the righteous, or perfect, but the sinners, the ones who make mistakes. We may admire from afar a person who seems to do everything perfectly, but we love the people who are more human. 

St. Paul was a great man. God protected him from death many times, and Paul converted thousands of people. He talks about not becoming "too elated." I think that refers to pride and perfection. God used the "thorn" to remind Paul that there is tremendous power in being vulnerable. When we sacrifice and completely give of ourselves, we tap into a power that is beyond words. It's the power that can save the world. It's the power that can move mountains, and make the impossible become reality. 

I encourage you to look for your weaknesses and become familiar with them. Face them head on. Once you're aware of how weak you are, you can begin to experience the complete and total power of Almighty God. Don't be ashamed of your weaknesses. God loves you for them, and He'll use them to grow you into His version of a perfect person. 

Friday, July 6, 2012


I've been thinking about freedom, since the 4th was Wednesday. People in America always talk about freedom. Everyone makes a big deal about being free, but what does it really mean? When I was in grade school, kids used to say, "It's a free country. You can't tell me what to do." Is that what freedom is?

Honestly, I think it's a very tricky subject. It's hard to describe. I think a basic definition would be that freedom entails the ability to choose something, without having any confines or restraints. I feel that freedom, in the worldly sense, is always going to be limited. There are always boundaries. It's only when we step out of ourselves, and respond to a higher calling that we can cross any lines that exist. Love does that all the time. There's often no rhyme or reason to it. We fall in love with someone from a different race or religion or whatever, and we can cross the lines that have been set.

I've been struck by God's meaning of freedom. Remember, freedom means you can choose anything you want, without being forced. By our very nature, our bodies fall into sin. We're almost compelled to it. It's attractive and easy and pleasurable. God, though, in His infinite wisdom, created humans with a body *and* a soul. When we forgive someone instead of taking revenge, for example, we embrace our higher nature that comes from our immortal soul. We allow Love to come in, so we can reach across the boundaries.

The beautiful thing about God's freedom is that it is complete. He gives us each a choice. It's *our own* choice. He gives us the option to live free, or live enslaved. Enslaved. That's such a terrible word and idea. Picture thousands of men, women, and children, chained to huge weights, preventing them from moving. Picture the way the chains cut into their wrists and ankles. Picture their faces, full of despair and sadness. Picture them being forced to work, when they can hardly stand.

It's so sad, so hopeless. The miracle is that it doesn't have to be that way anymore. We can be free. My whole body and soul thrills at that word. Let's be free!

God gave me a choice. He set me free to live, seek after, and be whatever I choose.

I choose to live at the foot of the Cross, looking up into Jesus' loving eyes, covered in His precious, healing blood.
I choose to seek after the grace that comes through suffering and the offering my desires. 
I choose to be present with Jesus, wherever He places me, whenever He moves or holds me. 
I choose to be God's child in every aspect of my life and being. Every thought, word, and act will be for my Jesus.
He has given me abundance. I will share His abundance with everyone, so that I participate in bringing about the Kingdom of God, when He will be all in all. On that day, there will be no more suffering, hopelessness, sorrow, or heartbreak. On that day, we will all be truly and completely free. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Sacred Heart of Jesus

Today is the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It's an incredible feast day, because it focuses on God's intense love for us, but also on His sorrow for when we refuse His love, and His constant longing to be reunited with us. 

In the first reading(Hosea 11:1,3-4,8-9), God talks about how He raised His people, and how much love is bound up in them. Even though they constantly turn away, He is overwhelmed with His love of them(of us). He won't lash out. Instead, He reaches out in love and forgiveness.

The second reading(Ephesians 3:8-12,14-19) says that God is called Father by every family, and His Spirit(the Holy Spirit) gives our souls and hearts power through Jesus, in order that we, "rooted and grounded in love" may begin to know the breadth, length, height, and depth(that is every single aspect) of God's never ending love, "which surpasses knowledge". In this way, we will be filled completely with the fullness of God. 

In other words, through Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross, God gave us the ability to begin to realize how much we are loved, no matter what we have done, or what we will do.
In God, we are complete. There are no aches. There is no emptiness.  We are whole and full.
The amazing thing is that this is only the beginning of the knowledge of His love.
We have not even scratched the surface.
Think about that. 
As humans, we spend our entire lives craving relationships that provide us with support and love.
Right in front of us, is such a relationship.
This relationship is with Someone who loves unconditionally. 
Why would we turn away?
It's easy to feel unworthy, which might be one such reason.
That's ok. It's love. It doesn't make sense. It simply exists.

The Gospel(John 19: 31-37) is taken from the end of the Crucifixion. Jesus had already died, but the soldiers had to make sure, so one of them thrust a lance into Christ's side, and blood and water flowed out. 

Awhile ago, I read a book called The Spear. I posted a section of that book. Here it is again:
"Raising the spear with both hands, he thrust it with all his strength forward and up, through the crucified man's heart.
For one split moment he thought that he had been hit by a bolt of lightening. Everything around him lighted up with terrifying clarity, and he saw the long, lean body, pale and golden, with its arms outstretched as if to embrace him, and his spear entering it. He heard a thud, and he felt the resistance, either of the body or of the wood of the cross behind it.
Then it was night again, a dark-red night splashing all over him and blinding him completely, and he staggered and would have fallen if he had not held on to the spear in the crucified man's heart.
Blood. He was full of blood. The whole world was full of blood. He was suffocating in it.
From far, far away came the sound of crying. The world was crying.
....The head with the crown of thorns had sunk on the chest.
He must withdraw the spear now. Softly, softly. Blood came flowing again, dark red - and water. Blood and water.
For some strange reason it made him think not of death but of birth."

Think for a while. Please, I beg you. Reread that passage. The language is so powerful. The imagery is so real. This man had inflicted terrible pain upon another, and those very arms that he had hammered nails into(imagine that pain!) were stretching out to embrace him. The power of the Cross is this: it was an act of Love. 

Movie upon movie is made about people who fall in love, and overcome terrible things that happen to them because of love. Because of LOVE. Think. Think! If we, who can feel so strongly, and can do crazy things in the name of love, can accomplish great things because of love, how much more can we do when we realize that we are loved by God? 

If you believe in love, if you have experienced the power of loving someone so much that even when they mess up or push you away you still hold onto them, if you've witnessed love change someone's life, then you have seen God. He is alive. He is real. He does care. Everything's going to be ok, because He is here. 

Today, my heart is burning with love for you. For you. I may not know you, or know what you're going through, but I know that you are loved. And when I say that I know this, I mean that from the very core and center of being, in every sense of the word "know". 

In God, we are filled. Everything that has felt empty is filled with Him. Believe in Him. I beg you! Believe in Him!  

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

4 months later...

Soooo much has happened since I wrote in January! (I can't believe I haven't done anything on here since then...) Anyway. I have to say, first and foremost, I'm amazed at how much God has had me grow over the past few months. Seriously, I'm completely blown away at His mercy and goodness. He's really taught me a lot about myself lately, and this new-found knowledge is empowering! I'm feeling so much more confident in my ability to succeed and thrive in the future. Oh yeah, and by the way, I kinda graduated from ASU 2 weeks ago. I can't believe it! It definitely still hasn't really hit me yet, although I've begun my job search, and am hoping for a quick transition. I'm really excited that such a huge part of my life has been completed so smashingly. ;)

Speaking of a job search, I attended a career mixer on Monday, and I got a call today from one of the organizations that I met there. I have a couple other options that I'm still feeling out, and I'm optimistic about the number of companies hiring people in behavioral health. Besides, the way I look at it, God has a perfect fit for me, and I'm just wiggling my way around until I find it. haha :)

On another note, I started doing P90X this week, and my body is soooo sore. haha It really does feel good to be working out again though! I'm hoping to do all 90 days this time. Plus, it gives me an excuse to hang out with a good friend. :) I also recently decided that it's time to really start focusing on eating healthy foods, so I'm cutting out chips, Dr. Pepper, etc. Let me tell you, it's hard. There's so much added sugar in practically everything we eat! However, Jillian Michaels(the author of Master Your Metabolism) has a saying that's been keeping me on track-mostly. haha She says that if it doesn't grow from the ground, or if it doesn't have a mother, then don't eat it. There you have it.

Oh yeah! Aaaand I have a new mantra! (I can't believe I didn't pick up before now.) I've done several Rock'n'Roll Half Marathons, and P.F. Chang's usually sponsors them in AZ. My running buddy and I have collected a number of free wrist bands from these races that say "Start strong. Finish strong." It's such a simple, yet powerful phrase. In my last few finals, in my job search, in my workouts, and in many other areas, I keep telling myself "Start strong. Finish strong." It's awesome.

Ok! That's my update for now. Hopefully I can keep up with this blog more that it's summertime. We'll see. I might be too preoccupied with a new job. ;)

Start strong. Finish strong.
Peace out. :)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I experienced one of the purest forms of freedom just now!
The weather is perfect today, so I went for a rollarblade.

I was gliding through my neighborhood, listening to beautiful music, soaking up the sunshine and all the green things, and loving the slight breeze that kept rustling the leaves across the sidewalk. I coasted past some kids on a swing set with their mom, laughing hysterically at absolutely nothing. I passed an older man using a walker, and a dad pushing his little daughter around the park in a stroller. I swept past the mailman, who was taking a lunch break with his wife at a picnic table.

Blading around on the smooth road, with so much to observe and experience, I was struck by a sense of peace and freedom. It's so hard to describe, but it's so important to understand.

The world is alive and well! Everything is growing and moving, and it's beautiful to behold!
Enjoy the little things today.
Smile, laugh, and live. :)

Friday, January 13, 2012

Trust and Hope

In this year of our Lord, 2012, I resolve to trust and hope in God, my Savior, that He will make my way, and lead me to His ever-loving heart, using my life to His advantage and for His glory.

That's my New Year's resolution, in case you were wondering; I'm trusting and hoping in Him.

It amazes me how even simple words can, themselves, carry such contradictions. Their very nature propels me to wait, to ponder what is on the other side, and to live ready.

Let me just say that I have no idea what my future holds. I know God does though, and that's what matters. He's created a great life for me, and I’m so blessed. I’m still a little scared, but I’m also very hopeful. I feel like that’s one of the greatest gifts God has given humans; we can have hope that someday, all the bad things will be mended, and our loved ones will feel God's great goodness rain down on them unceasingly. I think we begin to recognize God's grace through our suffering, but I know that He absolutely loves to see us happy too.

There are a lot of changes coming this year. That's true every year, but I feel it particularly now. I'll be graduating in May, and I have no idea where I'll go from here. Also, new people will take part in my life, and old friends will leave it. I'm not ready to say goodbye to anyone, but I know that God has it all worked out; He's just biding His time, waiting for the opportune moment. :) Right now, I can say that I trust Him completely. I hope that I can say it when these changes occur. I've seen His hand in my past, and I'm positive it'll be there in my future.

I’ve often wrestled with questions, feeling like a failure if I don’t come up with an answer. Tonight, I think it’s alright to leave thoughts and feelings unresolved; maybe those are themselves the answer. Not knowing, and yet, knowing. Again, with an endless stream of seeming contradictions, God comes and makes me shake my head in wonder. I hope to always wonder at the ways that He works, and never become like marble in my beliefs and feelings towards others.

Well, that's it for now. Remember to trust and hope in God; He cannot and will not disappoint you. :)