faith, inspiration

A Lesson from the Missionaries of Charity #BISsisterhood Link Up

Praying the rosary isn’t all that hard, but it isn’t all that easy if you are prone to distractions and kneeling on a wood floor.

When I was 15, a group of young girls from my church all loaded in a van with a chaperone and our parish priest and took a “nun run” to visit the Missionaries of Charity (MC) in our state. It was mid-July, a season when most air conditioners would be running full steam ahead.

As soon as we entered the house where the MC’s lived, we noticed the barren appearance and the heat. The MC’s make it a mission to live like the people they serve. I’m sure even the people they served in this area had A/C, but the MC’s did not. What they also lacked was furniture. So for 20 minutes we all kneeled (even the sisters, some of whom had to be at least 70 years old) on the hard, wood floor. Several of our group were wearing shorts and how misfortunate that day…When you’re praying for 20 minutes on the hard, wood floor with no A/C in the middle of July in the South your knees start to slide apart.

Once we were nearing the end of the rosary, we all felt relief that we could sit soon. You see, the MC’s had brought out folding chairs just for us. However, once we ended the rosary and all of us were about to take our seats the lead nun began saying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. By that point, one member of our group who had a broken tailbone took the opportunity to sit down. As we all looked at each other, we admitted defeat and sat as well.

We learned a lot that day. We learned that sometimes you just have to grin and bear it to grow in holiness. We also learned that sweaty knees and wood floors don’t mix. Most of all we witnessed the joy that comes from a life completely lived for Christ and that rejecting modern-day luxuries can lead to a more full and lasting peace than having A/C and a house full of furniture.

“People who love each other fully and truly are the happiest people in the world. They may have little, they may have nothing, but they are happy people. Everything depends on how we love one another.”   -Blessed Teresa of Calcutta

Linking up for a post about the Communion of Saints with the #BISsisterhood.

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faith

The Desires of the Heart

I recently moved back to my home town about a month ago. Before moving home, I had worked in a community mental health agency for 8 months. It was my first job after graduate school and I learned so much from it.

Within about 3 months of working there I had this feeling that community mental health work just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t my passion. I could do my job well, but it was very draining work and took an emotional toll on me.

I learned so much from working in mental health, but I learned more because I was working in a setting that I didn’t feel called to:

1. You can do good work somewhere even if your heart isn’t in it.

I could do my job well, but it wasn’t nearly as fulfilling for me as it was for some of my coworkers. I remember one of my coworkers who said, “I love this work so much. I drive home everyday with a huge smile on my face.” And I said, “Are you being sarcastic right now because I can’t tell?” The point is that person put their heart into what they were doing because it was their passion and purpose in life. I did my job and drove home happy knowing that I had given a good day’s work for a decent day’s pay. Then I cranked up the Led Zeppelin and rolled my windows down dreaming of finding my passion.

2. Sometimes you have to “put in your time” to get a job you’re passionate about.

Coming out of graduate school, I had zero experience in social work besides internships. As a new graduate with mounds of debt and itching to use my degree I had to take a job to build my skill set and resume. I learned so much about assessing and diagnosing patients, but I could tell that my heart wasn’t in it. If I would have tried to “hold out” for a job that I really wanted I may have never gotten employed. And besides, at that point I didn’t know what I really wanted. Don’t give up on your dream job, but sometimes you have to take a detour.

3. Take chances and have faith.

My mom is actually the one who told me about the job here in my hometown. She encouraged commanded me to apply “now” so I did. The funny thing is that my mom also set me up to apply for another job which I worked throughout college.  Daniel and I had been wanting to move back to our hometown, but we weren’t getting any job leads. After waiting and praying for 6 months, he finally got a great opportunity so we moved back hoping and trusting God that I would find a job. And that job that my mom told me to apply for is the one I got. It’s a non profit job and it’s serving people who have ALS/Lou Gehrig’s disease. The same disease that my Grandpa died with 2 months ago.

God works in mysterious ways. Mysterious mostly because we don’t know His plan. Works is the second most important word in that sentence. God is first. God works.

God uses the desires of our heart to accomplish His plan in our life. When I found out I got this job, there was more than happiness that I felt at the prospect of getting a paycheck. I felt peace. Peace that God has truly blessed and granted this desire of my heart.

“Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.” -St. Augustine

Linking up with Blessed is She for this week’s theme: Heart.

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everyday life, faith

Diving Head-first into Dreams

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about dreams. Not dreams like what images and story line my subconscious mind produces while I sleep. Dreams like things I’ve always wanted to do, places I’ve always wanted to visit, who I’ve always wanted to be. Dreams, for me, consist of asking myself this question “Who would I be if I wasn’t afraid to take risks?”

After all, dreams consist of risk. If there was a recipe for dreams it would probably consist of 8 cups of risk, 2 cups of motivation, and 7 cups of guts (gross, I know..but necessary). Living out my dreams is something I haven’t put much thought to until recently. If I get one life, should I take the easy road and work a safe 8-5 job or should I drop everything I’ve known and that which society promotes as “the good life” and dive head-first into risk, soak it up, roll around in it and chase my dreams?

I have this mental image of chasing dreams and taking risks like that scene in The Parent Trap when one of the girls plays a prank and it ends up covering her camp counselor in molasses and feathers from head to toe…then she gets sent to the “exclusion cabin” which to me looks like more freedom and fun…but anyways. That’s how I picture following my dreams. I’ve just got to get covered from head to toe in risk and learn to be comfortable with it.

That’s when life happens–when we’re covered in the molasses and feathers of risk and running down the highway of our dreams.

Everyone will stare. Everyone will gawk at the audacity and sheer craziness of it. But then, deep down, they’ll wish they had the guts to do the same. sparrow

So let’s cast out into our dreams and abandon ourselves to risk, fate, and the Divine Love of Him who Created everything and live as it pleases Him. If He cares for the sparrows and sustains their life, how much more will He care for us, made in His Divine Image?

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faith

Soul Refreshing Saturday {Vol. 1}

I don’t know about you, but Saturday mornings simply refresh my soul. I still wake up at 6:30am just like during the week, but this day is filled with endless opportunity. I could clean the apartment (not!), play tennis, paint, work out, fix dinner (!) or take a road trip. There’s something about waking up early on a Saturday morning and being able to take my time and do what I please that is something divine.

I have a Saturday morning ritual of sorts. I come out to the kitchen, start the coffee, open the blinds in the living room, turn on the laptop and read blogs. This is my relaxation and my space. Daniel (my other half) used to be a late sleeper and so Saturday morning was my space for quiet and peace.

These days he has his own Saturday morning ritual. He comes to the kitchen, usually about 30 minutes after I wake up, gets his coffee, turns on his Xbox and starts playing either some tank game or some other noisy, violent game that totally disrupts MY Saturday morning.  You see where I’m going here, right?

The plus side to this, especially during the winter, is that it’s freezing in the apartment and so when Daniel comes to the living room I share the blanket with him and he keeps me warm. Utility, people. There’s always a silver lining.

Speaking of Soul Refreshing Saturday, is my intention to post every Saturday morning some quote, inspirational message, activity, or anything really that refreshes my soul. I’d love it if you joined me. I have created a link up button below for other readers/bloggers to participate. Just post some quote, message, activity or anything that has refreshed/inspired your soul lately. If you’re a wordy person, you could say how/why that particular quote/message/activity refreshed your soul 🙂 P.S. These don’t have to be religious or spiritual. This could be as simple as going on a great hike, seeing a baby’s smile, or eating some delicious cheesecake.

fallfoliage

I’ll go first.
“All that I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all that I have not seen.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Looking around at the beautiful fall leaves and the trees changing color–the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows, some trees look like they’re on fire–this refreshes my soul. The smell of firewood on a crisp night–this refreshes my soul. The beauty of creation here below harkens my heart to something more, something beyond. This natural beauty is a reflection of the Creator Himself. But a reflection is never the same nor nearly as good as the actual thing itself.

[To add your post to the Soul Refreshing Saturday link up:
Click on the Link up button below (a new page will pop up)
Click “Add Your Link”
Follow the directions on the page
(And would you kindly post a link back to this blog page in your post?)
Finally, click “Submit Link”]

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faith, love

Not your grandma’s family planning {Interfaith marriage and NFP}

Apparently it’s NFP (Natural Family Planning) Awareness Week, so here goes 7 Quick NFP-related takes: Linking with Svellerella

1. A little backstory: My husband was raised Buddhist and I was raised Catholic so we have/had what you might call an interfaith marriage. (He would now consider himself Christian) That being said neither of our parents exposed either of us to NFP. In fact, my family was opposed to us using NFP because they said “it doesn’t work.” Well, I don’t know if this is common knowledge but today’s NFP isn’t your grandma’s NFP, if you know what I’m sayin’. Grandma may have used the “rhythm method” but millennials use the Sympto-Thermal/Creighton/Billings method. Take that, abuela!

2. Furthermore, since neither of us actually knew of anyone who used NFP in real life we were terrified that it wouldn’t work and that it would be difficult and that we’d prove everyone right who told us those things.

3. It’s amazing how our attitudes have changed from starting NFP classes to now: after over one year of marriage.  In the beginning we were terrified of becoming pregnant before we discerned we were ready to responsibly raise a child.  Now we are still postponing pregnancy, but are no longer terrified of becoming pregnant.  In fact, if we found out that we were expecting a child today we’d be thrilled. God’s grace, y’all.

Mother creates scenes around her napping baby. Adorbs.

Mother creates scenes around her napping baby. Adorbs.

4. Some non-Catholic/non-NFP-practicing readers may be thinking “Who cares about NFP?”  I care about NFP because I didn’t want to take birth control and alter my body with chemicals that weren’t necessary. I wanted a family planning method that facilitated communication between my husband and I. And let me tell you, our communication has greatly improved after being able to discuss sexuality and family planning together.

5. We are tolerant and respectful of other people and the choices they make regarding their lives and their family. We expect tolerance and respect in return. This is the method we embrace to plan our family and it works for us.

6. I’m so thankful for couples who teach NFP because my husband and I believe that NFP has been a tremendous blessing in our marriage.

7. I’m no expert on NFP, but there are some great blog posts and online resources for those curious/interested in this medieval (not.) practice. Head over to Stephanie’s post to check out some great reads about NFP. 

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faith, love

John Legend and a hint of Theology of the Body

What makes us cry at the sight of a proposal or tear up during the exchange of vows at a wedding? What is it about love that speaks to our soul? The pure sacrificial nature of marriage is something that goes against our very nature.  We’re born with an instinct to survive and to watch out for our own well-being even if it’s at the expense of others. And we fight this instinct our whole life.  Dating and courtship involve getting to know the other person and finding in oneself a deep concern for the well-being of the other person. 

Fighting the instinct that wants everything to be about yourself to the point where you consider the other person in everything–this is the beginning of a true relationship.  Suddenly the instinct becomes flipped on its head.  The instinct which once led you to look out for yourself at all costs has been replaced with caring for another person, even if it costs, to the point of self sacrifice.  The pinnacle of this sacrifice culminates at the exchange of vows during the wedding. 

This first sign of self sacrifice is shown when the man gets down on one knee to propose marriage to his love. This gesture is a physical manifestation of putting himself at the feet of his soon-to-be bride.  He is preparing himself to serve her for the rest of his life.  The woman makes this self-sacrificing gesture when she walks down the aisle on her wedding day.  Her trip down the aisle, led by her father, is a journey to serve, to go where she has not been, to leave what she has known her whole life and place her trust and confidence in her love.  

Recently I heard the song “All of Me” by John Legend.  Listening to the lyrics, I couldn’t help but think of the Theology of the Body.  The essence of love is not that we get what we want, but that we give– even what we do not want.  We give, we serve, we sacrifice.  We know our spouse’s flaws and weaknesses and accept them.  The lyrics that most struck me were:

My head’s underwater, but I’m breathing fine

You’re crazy and I’m out of my mind

Cause all of me loves all of you

Love your curves and all your edges

All your perfect imperfections

Give your all to me

I’ll give my all to you…

Cause I give you all of me

And you give me all of you

Instead of singing about using our partner, Legend sings about loving everything about this person.  Truly investing in them with our whole being and receiving everything they are–especially their perfect imperfections. A refreshing song about the sacrificial nature of love and marriage.

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faith

Want to be happier? Do things you don’t want to do

Want to be happier? Do at least one thing you don’t want to do everyday. Yes, you read right. I believe doing something you don’t want to do can make you happier.

You may not want to do the dishes- do them anyway. You may not want to fold the laundry- do it anyway. You may not want to be kind to your enemy- be kind anyway. You may not want to pray- pray anyway.

By doing things we don’t want to do we can make small, daily sacrifices. We can offer these actions for a special intention and chisel away at our flaws.

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