Sunday, October 11, 2015


Suffering is something that’s been on my mind and heart a lot lately, especially since Grampy died and I started my internship. My heart has experienced real pain, whether it’s through my own sense of loss or through hearing about everything that my clients are struggling with. 

I know that suffering is a huge question and I think we’ve each wrestled with it in one way or another. I’d like to share a little piece of what I’ve learned these past few weeks. Maybe it will help you as you grapple with this portion of the human experience. 

A few years ago, my neighbor Pat died. I wrote my reaction to that here What I didn’t share in that post was how I was learning to perceive suffering at that time.  Here’s what I wrote: “Our lives are a constant journey of becoming closer to God. What if, while being pulled into God’s embrace, we’re being pulled away from chains? Jesus Christ suffered on the Cross. He suffered pain and humiliation, and He was innocent. What He did, He did out of love. He chose suffering, so we could be reunited with Him in Heaven. Suffering, then, instead of a separation, is an embrace. It’s proof that we’re moving closer to God.”

I also remember reading in the Bible how the widows and orphans are the ones close to God’s heart and how He always hears their cries. I kept thinking that if He loved them as much as He said He does, then why do innocent children get horribly abused and why do people hurt so much. 

In sitting with my clients through their pain, I’ve had to start looking at it as a way to be closer to Jesus. For some unknown(but good) reason, Jesus is present in the pain but He still allows it to happen. It’s a ‘good’ reason because it’s God, and He is Goodness itself. And yes, there are many different points to be made about free will, etc, but I’m not gonna touch those; it’ll get too complicated. My point is that this idea of suffering as an embrace helped me to start being able to maybe wrap my head around the presence of Jesus in those moments. Since suffering is an inevitable part of the human experience (and it really is inevitable), then tying it to Jesus is the best thing we can do. Attributing meaning to it, even if it’s that God is present somewhere in the midst of it despite being unable to see Him or feel Him, allows hope to enter and start to shine its beautiful light. Hope always insists that life will get better. Allowing that little glimmer of light to enter your heart really opens the doors. 

After I’d reached this point of Jesus embracing myself and my clients in our suffering and being present to us, I started to wonder if there was anything that I could possibly do to help ease the pain. There is an answer. Simply being with someone helps; listening to their story, letting them cry, providing whatever encouragement you can, all of these help produce hope, even if it’s unspoken. Next, I thought of Jesus on His walk to Calvary and His death on the cross. There were people who walked with Him. Simon, the Cyrenian, carried His cross with Him. The Bible doesn’t say if they talked or what happened aside from them struggling to bear it together. Two innocent men were forced to carry a burden that neither of them deserved. According to tradition, Veronica wiped Jesus’ face. Again, who knows if she said anything to Him or He to her, but she was there when He needed someone. I can picture her wiping off the blood and His tears of pain and exhaustion. She provided a brief moment of rest to Him. 

The more I think about it, pray about it, read about it, and experience it, the more I’m realizing that suffering provides a lot of opportunities. 

Suffering typically makes us cry out, looking for a reason and help to get through it. If the person is open, it affords an opportunity for God to say “I’m here!” It opens us up at our most vulnerable and broken places, where true, deep healing is needed. That’s where God enters and can provide comfort. 

In my quest for answers, I found it helpful to read Salvifici Dolores ( While I haven’t come to any definite conclusions about suffering, I do know that it’s helping my heart to grow. I’ll be praying for you and that you can find some meaning in the midst of your suffering. It’s a mystery, but faith tells us that we don’t go through it alone. Jesus didn’t hold anything back when He died on Calvary; even His heart was pierced! Hopefully this is able to bring some comfort or at least remind you that there are answers to your questions, even if they’re unknown at the moment. 

As you persevere through your pain, I pray that you become aware that you're being held close to Jesus' pierced heart. God bless!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hope is a powerful weapon

Tonight I’m writing about Hope. Hope. It’s something that is vitally important and seems to be constantly under attack. I’ve always loved the idea of Hope, and now I feel like I’m actually learning what it means in real life. 

Hope is a natural part of the human spirit. It’s also a theological virtue, along with faith and charity.

Hope is a battle. I used to think that it was something that made a bright day even brighter, which it does, but there’s much more to it than that. Hope is so powerful because it can stare Despair in the face, and choose to keep believing and fighting. That’s what makes it so incredible. Hope says that there’s an answer and relief when all you can see is darkness. It’s an epic virtue! 

Hope is not a walk in the park. Hope is an anchor amidst the battering, swirling waves of darkness. Hope is what makes you stand your ground when you’re faced with a thousand foes. See? I’m telling you, it’s an epic virtue! 

Hope is a battle of the will against the evil that says life won’t get better. Holding onto hope requires an iron grip. Hope is standing at the foot of the Cross, staring at Love Himself dying, and knowing that He has overcome all the evil that exists. 

Hope is a sacrifice. It is a good that casts light into the darkness. Hope knows that Love Himself is here with you, no matter what you’re struggling with. 

Hope is beautiful because it's your choice. You can always choose hope, even when it seems hard, which is exactly when you need it the most! Hope is not easy by any means, but it is worth it and more powerful than you'll ever know. I pray that you always hold onto Hope. Know that I’m fighting along with you!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in his great mercy gave us a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you who by the power of God are safeguarded through faith, to a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the final time. In this you rejoice, although now for a little while you may have to suffer through various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 1 Peter 1:3-7

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Blood, sweat, and fear

I've been thinking so many thoughts today! My mind has been swimming in a sea of thinking. It's a little crazy. Of all the thoughts I've had today though, I wanted to share one that really hit me the hardest (in a beautiful way!). In fact, it brought me to tears because it was so powerful. Hopefully it brings you some peace as well.

Ok. As I was adrift on the sea of my thoughts, I wandered into the question of fear. Fear is something that I experience often in my own life. I think it's also fair to say that it's part of the human experience. Fear is something necessary, but only really serves its purpose when it's not running rampant in your life. Anyway.

Fear. I was sitting in the chapel, having a very serious conversation with Jesus about it. I asked Him about His experience of fear. At first, I assumed that, because He's God, He couldn't actually have ever been afraid. Then I remembered His humanity, which means He did have to feel fear at some point in His life. Also, this verse kinda cements it: "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin." (Hebrews 4:15)

This got me thinking about specific examples in Jesus' life when He could possibly have been afraid. All of a sudden, it hit me.
           Jesus was so afraid(and sorrowful) that he sweated blood. JESUS SWEATED BLOOD! Whoa. His fear and sorrow were so powerful that it caused Him to sweat blood. That means Jesus can totally understand when I'm afraid of something, because He experienced it in the most profound way.

Not only did He have an unbearable amount of fear, He demonstrated the ultimate trust possible by immediately turning to God and declaring "yet, not as I will, but as you will." (Luke 22:42)

This was such a beautiful reminder to me that God is present in my life in every moment, because He understands what I'm feeling. He's able to walk through it with me.
The next time I'm afraid, I can think of Jesus' agony in the garden and be comforted. I can turn, just as He did, and invite God to have control of the situation. Once I've let go and placed it in His hands, He can give me some of His peace which surpasses all understanding.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

A Month to Remember

The past four weeks have been like something out of a dream, with many ups and downs, unforeseeable twists and turns, and powerful moments. Let me start at the beginning.

1) On June 27th, I received a text from my mom saying that Grampy was in the hospital. I called and was able to talk to him that night. He said he knew that I was there in spirit. The next morning, he quietly slipped away in his sleep. That's how a great man left this world; peacefully dreaming.
2) On June 30th, through a fog of sadness, I emerged having finished my first year of graduate school. My dad arrived the same night, bringing much needed hugs and comfort.
3) On July 5th, the USA Women's National Soccer Team won the Women's World Cup in amazing fashion.
4) On July 6th, I bought Maximus, an adorable little Corolla.
5) On July 9th, I left with three wonderful friends on the trip of a lifetime to visit Ireland. We spent a week roaming the country, driving on narrow roads that led through rolling hills of open fields, trees, and cows. We walked the cliffs along the ocean and explored mountain paths that brought us to breathtaking views.
6) On July 20th, I started my year long internship which will make me into a therapist.
7) In six days, I'm turning 25.

During these four weeks, I've experienced life in dramatic fashion. I am a changed person. Through everything I've learned this month, I'm struck even more with the beauty of the human experience.

Life should be lived with arms wide open, head thrown back, a song in your heart, and a smile on your face.
Struggles make you stronger and loss makes living sweeter.
No matter what obstacle you're facing, it will be overcome.
Go live life to the full!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

"God made man to be imperishable."

"God did not make death,
nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living. 

For God formed man to be imperishable; 
but by the envy of the devil, death entered the world."

"For God sent the Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him."

"I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

God didn't make man for death, but He took what the Devil meant as revenge and turned it into the sweetest source of comfort and power! Now man can be completely restored to full union with God forever in Heaven, which is what we were created for! 

The separation hurts beyond words but the joy we will experience will be even more than we can possibly imagine! I can put words to the hurt that don't quite describe it but I am speechless when I think of the complete, pure joy to come. 

Today is Grampy's memorial service. My grief is still very real, and while these thoughts and verses don't relieve the pain, I know that I have hope and can see peace on the horizon. 

A priest recently reminded me that God wants us to be fully human. I'd been pondering what that meant for a few days before Grampy died. Now, I think I understand a little bit more. Jesus lived and died. He experienced the joys and pains that come with the human condition. Feeling the devastation of loss, feeling the depth of real love, these things make us more human. And hope. Hope is a natural part of the human experience. 

If one of your loved ones has died, know that I'm praying for you. Know that you're not alone. Jesus is there to hear your cries and to help you get through this. 

"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has similarly been tested in every way, yet without sin. So let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and to find grace for timely help."

Friday, May 22, 2015

Another existential crisis (resolved)

Every so often, especially as a grad student in Psychology, it’s important to have an existential crisis. I’m kidding. Kind of. Those things do seem to happen, especially since one is supposed to explore their background, their motivations, their own biases, etc. Naturally, constantly asking all those questions can be a bit taxing. 

Over the past two weeks, my “summer break, part 1”, I’ve been asking myself a lot of those questions. I’ve managed to answer a few of them, but some of the deeper ones had left me feeling unsatisfied. Why am I sharing this vague summary? Well, I did come to one conclusion which kinda trumps everything. Delving to the very heart of me, I found something which continually amazes me and sets me adrift on a sea of hope. I can answer the most basic yet complex question of who I am. 

Here’s the revelation; I am God’s.

That’s who I am at my very core. I am God’s. It’s an answer that doesn’t say much but speaks volumes. It means that I have the whole world at my finger tips because I can literally never escape God’s presence, which also means I have a constant traveling buddy. Pretty sweet if you ask me. 

Yes, I’m treating this very lightly, but this really is a profound statement. To be God’s is to always belong. To be God’s is to never be alone. To be God’s is to be accepted completely. To be God’s is to be loved in every single moment. To be God’s is to be.

Knowing who I am helps direct my steps towards what I want. Some people(maybe even a lot of people) will laugh at me and tell me that I’m old fashioned for saying I’m God’s. They can also say that I’m dumb for believing that. You know what? Dare to be you! Because I know who I am, I can actually be fully me. 

Here’s my question for you (which I really think you should consider answering): 

who are you?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Cross

Lent's almost over but I'd like to share some of what I've been learning over the past few weeks, as well as the months prior. :)

Most of my thoughts have focused on the Cross. I've been wondering what it'd be like to stand at the foot of the Cross with Mary, Mary Magdalen, and John, looking up at Jesus in all His agony, drops of His blood falling all around, and His eyes looking down at me with pure love. It's a powerful image. This face that's directed towards me is a face that makes angels tremble as they gaze. As I look at Him, I know all my mistakes, all my sins, all my indifference towards His love, but He looks at me with so much love still! 

Thinking about this made me wonder what it would mean to spend the rest of my life standing there with Him. I thought about how only 3 of His loved ones were there for Him. What must it have cost them? What did they give up to be there? But, more importantly, what did they gain? For them, Jesus was all that mattered. Jesus made it all worth while. In His look of love, the world melts away and the peace, purpose, and joy that we all seek is fulfilled.

For each person, our staying by His side is going to be different, but for each of us, it involves putting aside our fears and insecurities and letting ourselves realize that Jesus' love is all that we need and more than enough to fill us up. It also means that we can't hide in the crowd, but we have to step out for everyone to see. It means being vulnerable. However, letting go of what other people think means that we step closer to Jesus, letting Him see us more completely.

Sometimes the things that are holding us back are bad, but sometimes they're good things, like our loves and desires and goals. I'll give you an example from my own life. I tend to hold on too tightly to my loved ones, like my grandpa. He is one of my favorite people in the whole world. He's always supported me, believed in me, and I know how much he loves me. He's changed my life. He's someone I know is in my corner and has my back. Even my fear and sorrow as he approaches death is something that's holding me back from standing at the foot of the Cross. If I want to be there, I have to let everything go; I can't hold anything back. God has been teaching me how to do that, very slowly and very gently. I can picture me clinging to my grandpa and Jesus is right there next to us, His arms open wide, ready to embrace him. Very, very slowly, I'm opening my arms so Grampy can go to Jesus. But as I let go, I'm embraced too, meaning I'm drawn closer to Jesus. That act of trust doesn't mean that I love less, but it helps me to love more, because I can trust my loved ones to the Creator and Lover of us all. I hope that's a helpful description. Think of this too; if our hands or arms are full of something else, how will there be space to hold onto Jesus? 

As we let go of whatever is holding us back, we become more ourselves. Remember, in stepping out to the Cross, there's nothing to hide behind. We're seen for who we are. In letting go, we begin to open up. We don't have to hide because we're free. 

Holiness is you becoming more yourself. God uses you where you are and with everything that He put inside you. Don't be afraid to let go and grab onto Jesus! 

May God bless you as you approach the Easter season! I pray that you are filled with knowledge of God's mercy and His unconditional love! He's standing right there, waiting for you. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

One of my favorite walks

I'd love to tell you about a place that's slowly becoming more and more dear to my heart. How about you come on a walk with me? It's a walk that I make often and I'd love to be able to share it with you, though I'll make it a little shorter since you're with me. There are so many things that I'd like to point out, but I'll try to let the beauty speak for itself.

Let me paint this world for you:
There's a beautiful light blue sky above, heavily guarded by thick grayish clouds, allowing the sun to burst out occasionally and say a quick hello before retreating again.
There's a slight breeze that gently sweeps across the path in front of us, causing the bushes and bare tree branches to stir and relinquish the few brown leaves left clinging to them.
The light and dark brown leaves rustle past us, skipping and rolling up the path.

As we walk along, the bouncing leaves startle several female Cardinals nesting in the bushes by our feet, and the birds spring up unexpectedly, chirping lightly as they quickly flit away. We try to follow their flight but they are soon lost to our sight, as their light brown feathers soon camouflage them among the trees.

We continue our walk, following the leaves on their helter-skelter way. The trees surround us now, reaching their bare fingers towards the sky, swaying in the wind, their branches lightly clacking together. Looking to either side, the forest floor is a tangle of brown and gray, with leaves and branches scattered about, blending each tree with another, creating a forest of webbed branches.

We notice squirrels jumping from tree to tree and racing from branch to branch. As they bound along, their bushy tails twitch. They freeze for a brief moment to watch us, deciding if they need to dash away or if it's ok to go about their business.

Through the trees, we begin to come across houses on either side. They don't seem intrusive or out of place; rather, they seem to belong here. Each house is unique and seems to capture a piece of what it means to live and move through this forest. One house has a porch that appears like a watch tower, peering through the trees. Another house is set far back from the road with a small bridge to cross over an even smaller brook.

We soon come to our own small bridge and we pause for a moment to see if we can hear the tiny brook. If you listen very closely, you can hear it quickly and quietly murmuring past you. Once we've listened to the secret of the water, we start to stroll up a steep hill that's paved and well-light. We hear a train horn in the distance as we wind our way up the path, admiring the sky and concentrating on not breathing too hard. Once or twice, I say, I've come across some deer on this hill. They haven't run from me, but we've stared at each other before slowly going back to our own separate worlds.

The trees fall back a little at the top of the hill as we've entered a slightly more residential area. These townhouses fit with the scenery as well, appearing very cosy and sheltered but not entirely tamed. There are patches of tress here too, blending the landscape again. Some pine cones litter the sidewalk as we continue on our way. Thus far, our path has been a very straightforward one. Now we'll make a right turn off the sidewalk and cut through another section of the woods.

The trees surround us once again, but they're pushed back from the path so we finally have a clear view of the sky and the land, which seems like it stretches on forever. I've seen more deer here, I say. In fact, we've startled each other a few times, and I laugh as I think about it. I've also come upon a fox, hiding in the bushes. As we keep walking, some Robins fly right in front of us, landing on branches above us as they observe our trek. If you're really lucky, I say, you'll see a Blue Jay. I think they're one of my favorites.

Another squirrel dashes in front of us and away as fast as it can, up a tree to watch. We've made it back to the main road now, so our walk is done. I'll turn towards my home and you'll head back to yours. Thanks for letting me show you how beautiful it is here and thanks for joining me on one of my favorite walks.