Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Beatiful Voice - Caitlin Natalia

I love my alma mater, and I'm always so proud of the beautiful musicians that come together there to make beautiful music for Our Lord. Recently, I've been listening to the music that Caitlin Natalia has recorded this far. I remember her as a little freshman when her boyfriend intoduced us. A beautiful soul and sweet woman, I had no idea until after I graduated that year that she had the voice of an angel!

I thought I'd share her gorgeous voice with the blog world, because I just can't keep this beautiful music to myself!

Check out Caitlin's iLike page!

John Rumpza is another talented musician and friend! He works with Caitlin on "Underneath the Sky".

Check out John's Facebook or Myspace page!

Friday, October 22, 2010

A little peak into the most wonderful day of my life! :D

I thought I'd share a few pictures from our big day with the blog world! All of these were taken by my lovely sisters. Enjoy!

Getting the Marriage License!

My adorable niece and flower girl the day before the wedding

My silly ring bearer and nephew

Consecration to St. Joseph (asking him to forever pray for us and our family)

The cutest flower girl

Playing after the wedding 

Dancing at our local festival

We cut the log with the wedding party! I can't wait to see the pictures of the action!

Playing in the leaves

The dress

Probably our favorite picture thus far

Those this one is a close one!

These were taken in the field at my parents property

The handsome groom

The bride

Great capture by my sister!

The rosary we had made especially for our wedding party and family (Purple and pink beads, St. Joseph Metal, and white Benedictine Crucifix)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Announcing my new blog: "The Newlyweds' Table"

It's been a few months since I moved into the apartment that is now also the home of my new husband! Throughout our engagement period, I was thrown a few bridal showers, and for some reason I received quite a few cookbooks! Word must have gotten out that I'm not quite a gourmet cook . . . I've actually been known to ruin mac and cheese (I didn't think that was possible either)!

Well, since I have a real kitchen for the first time in my "big kid" life, I've been making use of my tools and trying many new recipes. I think if you'd ask my new husband, he might actually say I can cook!

During one evening just before we got married, my then fiance came over for dinner. Our discussion led to the above mentioned topic, and we decided it would be great for me to start a blog about the adventures in our kitchen!

We got married just a week and a half ago, so it's time! Without further ado, I introduce to you my new blog: The Newlyweds' Table! I hope you enjoy the stories of our little kitchen in our first home! :)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Tune for a Tuesday: All things New - Grayson Kessenich

I must admit . . . I'm a One Tree Hill addict. In defense, if you took out all the crazy unrealistic drama that happens, it's got some great characters . . . alright, I'll stop defending myself. :)

Anyway, on Tuesday's episode, the background music caught me when I heard the lyric "praise father, praise the son, praise spirit three in one". It didn't take me long to look up the song and find an amazing Christian artist! Who would have thought that One Tree Hill would be the place to find him?

The artist is Grayson Kessenich and the song on the episode was "All Things New". I stronly suggest listening to not just this great song, but all of them! The entire "From the Treehouse" album is wonderful and it's on itunes!

Color the morning bright
Paint all the black of night
Warmth in a ray of light
You are God on high

You made the restless cease
Then made the clever seas
All the wonder beneath
And still you care for me

You’re beautiful
And in our hearts we hold
The one who takes the old
And makes all things new

You hear the sinner’s call
Love both the great and small
To you we give our all
To praise the all in all

Praise father, praise the son
Praise spirit three in one
Come see what love has done
Through death our life’s been won

You’re beautiful
And in our hearts we hold
The one who takes the old
And makes all . . .

You’re beautiful
And in our hearts we hold
The one who takes the old
And makes all things new

You make all things new

"All Things New" - Grayson Kessenich

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

From a Bride-to-be's Kitchen!

If you were sitting with me as I write this, you'd smell the aroma of fresh-baked banana bread coming from the kitchen! It is such a joy to have a kitchen! You may be accustomed to your own, and think I'm a little crazy for being so excited about mine, but this is my first kitchen! During my four years of college, I lived in the dorms and never had a kitchen past a refrigerator and microwave. When i moved to California, my tiny garage-renovated apartment had a small stove, but no oven and little counter space. (Is it silly that I miss that little space anyway? It was perfectly cozy!) Now, in the townhouse that will become the home for my fiance and I in just 25 days, I'm sitting at the kitchen table (borrowed from my wonderful cousin) waiting for the loaf of banana bread to be ready to come out of the oven!

Ask anyone that knows me well and they'll tell you that I'm not a cook. I would argue that this has less to do with my ability to cook and more to do with my lack of opportunity to cook. I have loved making new recipes since I've moved into the new place! And I think my lovely fiance would agree that most of them have turned out to be quite delicious!

Be prepared for my new blog, coming soon: From the Newly Wed's Table . . . or something like that!

I'll leave you with this delicious, and very simple, recipe from the Alpha-bakery Cookbook by Betty Crocker!

3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups mashed bananas (3 large bananas)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup chopped nuts, optional

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a loaf pan. Mix sugar, bananas, oil, and eggs in a large bowl with a wooden spoon. Stir in remaining ingredients. Pour into pan. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 60-70 minutes. Let cool in pan 10 minutes, then loosen sides of loaf from pan and remove from pan. Let cool completely before slicing.

Living a New Life . . . still for Christ

Some of you may have been wondering what happened to me . . . or maybe no one did! Regardless, I'm going to let you know. :-)

I have gone through so many life changes since my last post that I could write a whole blog just about them! In short, I have said goodbye to California (the place I had just learned to call home), packed up my little apartment, drove cross-country with my fiance back to Missouri, lived with my parents while begging God to give me and my fiance jobs, we both found jobs in Kansas City, and I moved to Kansas City and started my new job. Whew, that's a lot in just over a month! I've been completely consumed ever since with preparing for my wedding that is just less than a month away! It's been such a whirlwind since I left California that I can hardly comprehend it all.

Leaving California was heart-breaking. There were small sobbs at my last Mass at StP2 and quiet tears as I watched the last car filled with my friends pull out of the parking lot from my going away party, knowing it was likely the last time I would see them for quite a long time. Saying goodbye to friends and the parish that became my family was something surreal at the time, but is slowly setting in these days. Some days I still feel like I'm just on vacation . . . that's lasted a long time. Other days it hits me like a freight train that I'm not going back to California, at least not any time soon. :-\ Looking back, I don't think I realized how much of a family I had found in the parish. I often find myself wishing the parish I am now at was as warmly welcoming as StP2. Most of all, I miss the friends I made.

Now don't misunderstand, I love being close to my family again, seeing my close college friends again, and most of all, seeing my fiance on a regular basis for the first time since we started dating in 2004. Regardless, I left a piece of my heart in California, and it has not gone unnoticed.

This is to you Cali, thanks for welcoming me as family and sending me off with much love!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Healing Hand of God

I was on my way home on this horrible day when I heard this song. I knew right away that it was no coincidence. Today, a tragic school bus accident took the life of a beautiful teen in my hometown. When I was in high school, Jessica was such a sweet kid that I often talked to after Sunday Mass. She held a special place in my heart, as does her whole family. She grew into a wonderful young woman, and the loss of her life will affect the whole community.

Lord, please hold the Brinker family close to your heart during this most difficult time. Please give them the strength and courage of your mother, Mary, as they mourn the loss of their child and sister. Hold the students of John F. Hodge in your healing hands. As this school year starts, be in the hallways as they walk them without their dear friend. Hold the Red Regiment Marching Band together as they march with a hole in their line. Please carry the whole St. James community through this terrible time. And please open the gates of heaven wide to accept your daughter, Jessica.

May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.
Ashley Scanlon-Smith, pray for us.

The Healing Hand of God - Jeremy Camp
I have seen the many faces of fear and of pain
I have watched the tears fall plenty from heartache and strain
So if life's journey has you weary and afraid
There's rest in the shadow of His wings

I have walked through the valleys, the mountains, and plains
I have held the hand of freedom that washes all my stains
If you feel the weight of many trials and burdens from this world
There's freedom in the shelter of the Lord

And I have seen the healing hand of God
Reaching out and mending broken hearts
Taste and see the fullness of His peace
And hold on to what's being held out
The healing hand of God

And I have touched the scars upon His hands to see if they were real
He has walked the road before me, he knows just how I feel
When you feel that there's not anyone, who understands your pain
Just remember all of Jesus' suffering

'Cause I have seen the healing hand of God
Reaching out and mending broken hearts
Taste and see the fullness of His peace
And hold on to what's being held out

Cast all your cares on Him for He cares for you
He's near to the broken and confused
By His stripes our spirit is renewed
So enter in the joy prepared for you

I have seen the healing hand of God
Reaching out and mending broken hearts
Taste and see the fullness of His peace
And hold on to what's being held out

The healing hand of God
The healing hand of God
The healing hand of God

And hold on to what's being held out
(Hold on)
And hold on to what's being held out
(Hold on)
The healing hand of God, oh, oh

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Tune for a Tuesday - See you in the Eucharist

The Beginning of the End . . .

Today, I said goodbye to my kids at the EDGE. And in keeping with my norm, I cried at both sessions when I gave my final words. I haven't really quite realized that I will not see them next week . . . likely, I will not see most of them again in our earthly life. I've always loved meeting new people, but I've always hated goodbyes . . .

After our party, the EDGE Core worked hard to clean up and put all of our props from the year back in storage. As the Core headed out the door, I walked back to our meeting room. It looked as though no one had even been there. As I turned to hit the lights, I stopped and looked around, taking that moment to reflect on my time here.

These past few months have been a whirlwind. I have been so busy and so stressed, that it has been hard to even notice the time passing. I knew then that I'd get to this point and be disappointed that I hadn't spent more time enjoying the moment. And there I stood tonight, thinking just that. That I couldn't believe it was already over. I wish I could have spent another year ministering to those kids, leading them to Christ and making more improvements for their program . . . but that's not what God has called me to . . . thy will be done, Lord.

As I move on to the next chapter in my life, I thank God for bringing me here. I would never take back the two years I've spent here. These kids will always hold a special place in my heart, and this parish family will always be a home to me.

Thank you to all those who have been a part of making my time in California a wonderful experience. For welcoming me in and making me a part of this community. I will miss you all dearly. I will undoubtedly be back to visit soon, but until then, "I will see you in the Eucharist".

I will meet you at the table
I will meet you in His heart
In the company of angels
In the place where all things start
We receive each other's presence
We are all made one in Him
Though I cannot see your face
I will see you in the Eucharist

Come and meet me at the table
Come and meet me in His heart
We'll be singing with the angels
Each man playing his own part
In the symphony of praises
We will join our song with His
Though I cannot hear your voice
We'll be speaking in the Eucharist

Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

When we gather at the table
We are closer than our breath
Even nearer than the angels
When we touch His very flesh
Dwelling in each other's presence
I will hold you close inside
Every soul in heaven and earth
Now is present in the Body of Christ

Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

We are pilgrims on a journey
We are headed for the throne
Carried on the wings of angels
Oh we do not walk alone
All our prayers we lay before Him
And His grace will pave the way
To lead us to our one true home
Where we'll see each other face to face

And do not be afraid
Do not be afraid
Do not be afraid

I will meet you
I will hear you
I will hold you
I will receive you
I will see you in the Eucharist

Danielle Rose - See You in the Eucharist

Saturday, May 8, 2010


So much is going on in my life right now. Would you like to know how I feel about it?

STRESSED! - I move in just a little over a month. And as of right now, I do not have a job or a place to live when I get there. Just when I thought things were going to work out, my fiance was let go at work and is now searching for a job too. UGH! Wrapping up a job, packing up an apartment, moving accross the country, finding a new job, finding a new place to live, planning a wedding, preparing for marriage. . . . that is just TOO much to deal with at once!

Frustrated - With our situation. Wondering why God is giving us all these obstacles. Isn't there enough stress and things to deal with if the transition went as smoothly as possible? I'll admit it, I'm frustrated with God. I know He has a plan, but I'm not too happy with Him for not letting us know what it is yet!

In Love - Yes, I'm in love! lol. Despite all of this confusion and frustration, I'm trying to remember the end of the tunnel: being in the same state as my fiance! It's going to be so great to see him on a regular basis again. To see him more than on skype and to have real dates, not just our wednesday night online dates! Yes, that's right, we spend our "date nights" playing games online against each other . . . it's all we have, don't judge us!

Excited! - Excited to be with my fiance. Excited for something new. Excited to see my dear friends again. Excited for dates. Excited too see my family. Excited to get moving on wedding plans. Excited to see my neices and nephew. Excited for seasons (yes, even winter . . . it has its charm). Excited to possibly serve my Alma Mater. Excited to be closer to marriage. Excited to have a new place to live. Excited to have a washer and dryer! Hopefully excited for a dishwasher. :)

Sad - Sad to leave California. Sad that I haven't nearly seen everything I wanted to. Sad to leave the ocean. Sad to leave the warm weather (yes, I'm completely torn between the two climates). Sad to see this chapter close. Sad to leave my adorable apartment. Sad to leave my job. Sad that I haven't done everything I planned to do with the ministries. Sad to cut this adventure short. Sad to leave new friends. Sad to leave the mountains. Sad to go back to humidity (it seriously sucks!). Sad that there is so little time left. Sad that I will likely never live here again. Sad to say goodbye.

Nervous - About the unknown. I know that God's got it all under control, but I'm so very anxious about how it's all going to work out. If I don't have a job, I don't have money to pay the bills . . . and that's not good! I just don't know what's going to happen, and that makes me nervous.

Sick - With all this emotion, I'm sick. Both emotionally and physically. Sick to my stomach. I have headaches frequently. Can't fall asleep. Wake up in the middle of the night. I can hardly focus on the things that need to get done, which makes me even more stressed. I'm ready for this time to be over, but there's so much that I need to do before it is!

Completely Mixed Up - SO MANY EMOTIONS! I can't seem to get them straight. Excited, nervous, happy, sad, sick, frustrated, stressed . . . I just can't handle it all at once. Ugh, I'll be happy when all this is over. But when it's all over, that means I'll be gone . . . and that makes me sad. Oh dear . . .

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Forget what’s behind and where I’ve been . . .

Today, I was especially troubled with unpleasant memories. Most days, I'm completely fine, but once in a while, this particular situation creeps up and catches me off-guard with memories of the past. Sometimes, I wish I was like God more. Well, of course we all wish that, but I particularly wish that I could really forget the past. Now, I know that God is all knowing, and doesn't truly "forget" things, but that He forgives us more fully than we can imagine. When we forgive, it is near impossible for us to fully forgive because of our sinful nature. But when God forgives, He forgives so richly that He does not think of us or treat us as though what we did happened. I'm not sure if I'm making a whole lot of sense here . . . I'll try to clarify.

Because we are human, it is extremely difficult for us to truly forgive. We may no longer harbor angry feelings at someone, but rarely do we treat them as though it never happened. If someone slaps you in the face, you may forgive them, but chances are you're going to be a bit apprehensive when that person moves their hand upward around you again. When someone betrays your trust, you may forgive them, but likely you don't trust them immediately, and maybe you will never fully trust that person again. All this, is because we are human. We can forgive and love someone who has hurt us, but it is a nearly impossible task for us to "forget" what happened, that is, think of them, treat them, and feel toward them as though your trust was never broken in the first place.

God, on the other hand, has that ability. God, in His infinite goodness and love, fully forgives us when we turn our backs on Him. He does not harbor any resentment toward us because of what we have done, nor does he think any less of us for betraying him. He does not love us any less, care for us any less, or hope in us any less. When He forgives us, it is as though He does not remember what we did, because He does not act the way we do when we remember how someone hurt us.

So today, as I was wishing I could "forget" as Our Lord does, the CD in my car played this song:

Yesterday has come, and that day is gone
But I can’t say I’m proud with what went on
So I’ll start again, ‘cause I want to win
Forget what’s behind and where I’ve been

Goodbye, Loneliness, goodbye tears
Goodbye yesterday and all those wasted years

I press on, always forward, on
I have set my eyes on the horizon
I press on, God lead me on I don’t
want to stop ‘til I get to heaven

I hope the time is near, cause I keep failing here
But I will not lose if I persevere
Yeah, these blows of God, they are blows of love
They may knock me down, but I get back up

Goodbye, Loneliness, goodbye tears
Goodbye yesterday and all those wasted years

I press on, always forward, on
I have set my eyes on the horizon
I press on, God lead me on
I don’t want to stop ‘til I get to heaven

- Joel Stein (Press On)

It is my prayer today, and all days when the past is something that is hard for me to "forget", that I will become more like God. That I will forgive more perfectly, love more deeply, and "forget" more completely. I pray that I can entirely trust those who I forgive. And as I contemplate the difficulty to forgive as God does, I realize more fully the omnipotence of God's forgiveness, and the imperfectness of ours. I thank God for his infinite ability to love and forgive perfectly. For giving His Son to pay for my sins. And I "press on, always forward, on" and strive to "forget what's behind and where I've been".

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"We do not lose heart . . ."

2 Corinthians 4:1-18

Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.

We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God's word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man's conscience in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the likeness of God.

For what we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake. For it is the God who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God
in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For while we live we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.

Since we have the same spirit of faith as he had who wrote, "I believed, and so I spoke," we too believe, and so we speak, knowing that he who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into his presence. For it is all for your sake, so that as grace extends to more and more people it may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed every day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen; for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.

Lord, help me to have faith in people when I lose hope. I know that, indeed, the transcendent power belongs to You and not to me. It is your ministry, and not my own. Lord, when people let me down, and it feels like everyone is failing, leaving you, and turning away, help me to know that your words are more powerful than mine, and prayer more powerful than the evil one. When I am perplexed by ignorance, apathy, and aragance, help me to not be driven to despair. Lord, give me Your love, Your understanding, Your words, Your actions, and Your prayers as I minister to your people. Help me to not lose heart, but hope in you!

- Your Stumbling Servant

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Tune for a Tuesday - Tribute to my Dad :)

"Here's a song I would like to have written for you. Love, Dad"

That was the email I got from my Dad today, with this song attached. My dad's always loved music. I remember the days I'd be in his truck, a song would come on, and he'd ask, "Who is this?" I'd respond with an annoyed, "I don't know, Dad." "Oh man! It's ______." If a song he particularly liked came on, he's say, "listen" and sing along with the lyrics, emphasizing the lyrics he liked, which was pretty much every word. These are still not uncommon occurrences when riding in a vehicle with him, but I'm more amused than annoyed at this age! :) It wasn't until just now that I realized I may have gotten my love for lyrics from him. Thanks Dad!

The song he sent me today doesn't have a single lyric that doesn't fit us. I'm the youngest, his baby girl. Winter snows: particularly reminds me of the winter snow (and ice) when us kids got stuck at the bottom of the hill behind our house. I was terrified we'd never make it up. The famous quote is "Call Dad and tell him to call the fire department!" I was so upset when my mom and siblings laughed at me. Horse shows: We went to the horse auction when I was a kid, I remember picking out the horses I liked and pretending I'd get them. Dancing on the beach: I don't remember ever actually dancing on the beach, but since before I was born, our family vacationed to Myrtle Beach (technically Garden City Beach) every other summer. Many of my childhood memories revolve around the beach houses we rented.

I got a little teary-eyed when I received this sweet and loving email. It was great to stop and reflect. God blessed me with a really wonderful father. Needless to say, this will likely be the song for the father-daughter dance at my wedding this fall.

I'll take this slow sweet walk with you.
You let go of my hand to say "I Do".
And he will discover just how blessed a life can be.
I know 'cause all those years ago, someone handed you to me.

Every step that we take brings back the memories.
Winter snows and horse shows and dancing on the beach.
I can't help thinking that I'm the lucky one;
You're still my baby daughter, and now I've gained a son.

I'll take this slow sweet walk with you.
You let go of my hand to say "I Do".
And he will discover just how blessed a life can be.
I know 'cause all those years ago, your mom handed you to me.

Don't miss a chance to put each other first.
Now that you've vowed "for better or for worse".
And don't let the beauty of this life pass you by.
In the times of trouble, you'll stand side by side.

I'll take this slow sweet walk with you.
You let go of my hand to say "I Do" . . .

Picture a slow sweet walk yet to be.
You'll take my hand, say "Daddy, come see".
Then you'll know what it feels like, you won't believe what it feels like,
Then you'll know what it felt like when she handed you to me.
. . . She handed you to me.

"Walk with You" - Edwin McCain

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Tune for a Tuesday - Your Bride

Here I am - I offer you my hand.
The hour has arrived to celebrate our wedding feast.
And I know this was the Father's plan.
I was born to live for you were born to die for me.

Walking down the aisle I long to come to thee.
You are waiting there to marry me.
Walking down the aisle I long to come receive.
Your body, blood, soul, and divinity.

I am your bride,
I am one with my Beloved crucified.
As you offer me your body, I offer you my life
Now and always, I am yours -
I am your bride.

As you lift the veil before my eyes,
You gaze into my soul and say, "Beloved, you are mine."
And I know you take me as I am,
Loving me with all my sin you take me by the hand.

In my vows to you and yours to me,
Our covenant declared eternally,
Laying down our lives we consummate our love.
I cleave to you and to the cross.

This one is at last bone of my bones.
United as one flesh, our love becomes a home,
Where every child is welcome in our love's embrace.
Their lives reveal their Father's face.

Your Bride - Danielle Rose

This song was like buried treasure for me. I found it through an internet search. I've known Danielle Rose for years, but had not heard this album yet. My priest, and officiant of our wedding, told me to listen to "Holy Family" (a song I included in my previous post about St. Joseph). When searched for that song, I found "Your Bride" on the same album. This song has some of the most beautiful lyrics about Christ and the Church. Written about her entry into a religious order, this song has so many meanings!

It's a picture of:

You MUST go check out this awesome song:

Friday, March 19, 2010

Why St. Joseph is so important to me . . . Episode 2

If you haven't read Episode 1, you may want to read it first! :)

. . . I praise God that I clung to Him during this time. I firmly believe that crisis' in life either make you, or break you. And though I was broken, this made me who I am today. God slowly and tenderly began to heal my heart. We broke up in March, and I finally truly forgave this man that summer, and was able to move on with my life. I was genuinely happy again, and just stoked for where God was leading me next. I was so happy to have moved past this time, and leave it all behind me.

It wasn't until November that God started moving in ways I wasn't expecting. I was leading a middle school youth group at the time, and our topic that night was "Are You Ready?" In small groups, we discussed many quesions. If today was the last day of your life, would you be going to heaven? If you knew you were going to die tomorrow, how would you spend your last 24 hours? But the one God used to show me his will was, "If today was your last day on earth, are there any relationships you would want to mend before you go?" I thought about how devastated I would be if this man died with the situation being as it was. I knew that if I died, he would be just as upset.

Immediately I knew that even though I forgave this man in my heart, I needed to tell him. God knew he needed to hear that. I decided to write him a letter. I put the topic on the back burner for a while, this wasn't a door I was excited to open. I knew that this letter would pull the bandage off the wound and pour peroxide inside. I knew it would clean it out and lead to healing, but I knew it was going to be painful.

A few days later, I was headed to dinner with a friend of mine. We were chatting and using our "outside voices" as we walked out the door of our dorm. Right as we walked out, a Eucharistic procession came around the corner. Our conversation immediately ceased, and we fell to our knees in silence as the Eucharist passed us. I quickly realized that God was speaking to me again, saying, "You're not ready, Amanda." I wasn't ready for Jesus that day. I didn't expect him to come and I wasn't prepared. It was clear that God was urgently telling me to write this letter.

I began to pray about what God wanted me to say, and when he wanted me to write it. Each time I would come to him in prayer, I would ask, "Do you still want me to write the letter." And his response was always, "Yes, but not yet." After about 4 weeks of this, he finally responded, "Yes, it's time."

I knew I needed to take time to write this letter in deep prayer. Each evening, I headed to adoration, prayed a novena to St. Joseph, and then write (and revise) the letter. On the fifth day of the nine, I got a letter in the mail. It was from him. I couldn't believe it! After nine months of literally no communication, we both wrote a letter at the same time. God is so good.

The letter was 7 pages long, explaining everything that had happened. He told me how deeply sorry he was for hurting me so badly. He explained the depression and how foggy things had gotten for him. He explained how difficult it had gotten for him to see the good in the relationship when we were arguing. He described the path he had chosen, and how much he regretted leaving God's path and heading down his own. He talked about hitting rock bottom and how horrible things had gotten. And then he talked about his slow return to God.

He said that he recently started going to Mass and praying again. And that during Mass more than a month prior to writing the letter, God intervened in a pretty big way. he said, "During mass, it felt like someone grabbed me firmly by the shoulders. Then a face appeared in front of me. He siad he didn't know if it was an angel or being or what, but it addressed him by name and basically told him 2 things: that he needed to get his life back on the right path, and that he needed to end the relationship he was in and wait for what God wanted for him.

That week, he ended the relationship, and slowly began trying to fix all the mistakes he had made. He explained that writing this letter was part of that. He told me he understood if I did not respond, and that that's not what he needed. That he just needed me to know that he was sorry for how he had hurt me.

Well, needless to say, I revised my letter a bit. I finished the novena, and sent my letter off 5 days later. During all of this, I never imagined that God would ask me to enter back into a relationship with him. I thought this was just healing and truly closing the chapter. We slowly began to talk, first through emails, and then, finally, I let him call me. After many tearful, emotional, and difficult conversations, we started to be able to talk again.

It was at this time that I asked him, "so, what was did it look like, seeing the angel or whatever?" "Well," he responded, "It wasn't like waht you would expect. It wasn't bright white or anything. I could only see his face. He had darker skin, dark hair, and a dark beard." We both paused and thought the same thing as I said outloud, "I think it was St. Joseph . . ."

I fully believe that it was St. Joseph that appeared to my now fiance. It was a clear answer to my daily prayer: "Lord, please send him someone to get him back on the right track. St. Joseph, please pray for him, protect him, and guide him." I remember later praying, "God, when I asked you to send someone to get him back on the right path, I was thinking a friend or something . . . but St. Joseph works too!"

And That is why this day, March 19th, St. Joseph's Feast Day, is quite possibly our favorite day of the whole year! I say with confidence that if it wasn't for God sending St. Joseph, I would not be engaged to this man, the man God clearly created for me!

Happy Feast of St. Joseph! :)

Holy Family-Danielle Rose

O loving Father make our home in Nazareth
where you may reign
A holy family of love where Jesus' manger lays

Help us to stay together Lord, in joy and sorrow as we pray
Teach us
to see Christ in disguise, upon each other's face, upon each other's face

Where two or more are gathered you reside
Mary be our Mother, Joseph
be our guide
to make your Son the center of our lives
Jesus may Your
name be glorified

We gather round our table blessed to share the
heavenly bread he gave
to strengthen us that we might serve our family with
to love each other as you love with humble hearts and patient faith
and to forgive each other's faults as Jesus Christ forgave, as Jesus Christ

Where two or more are gathered you reside
Mary be our
Mother, Joseph be our guide
to make your Son the center of our lives
Jesus may Your name be glorified

Help us take what 'ere you give and
give what 'ere you take from us
With smiles upon our faces as we place our
trust in You

Jesus may your name be Glorified

Why St. Joseph is so important to me . . . Episode 1

Happy St. Joseph's Feast Day!

In October, I will be marrying the man that God created for me. We started our journey together six years ago as seniors in high school. We met when we both visited the same college (now my Alma Mater). He was from the city, I was from the country. We kept in touch and months later began to date.

Anyone who knows our story or has walked through our journey with us can tell you that our relationship has not been an easy one. We've been through our share of ups and downs.

I studied abroad in Italy the fall semester in 2006. It was during that trip that for the first time, God confirmed to me that this really was the man I was meant to marry. And it wasn't until that moment that I started to say "when we get married" instead of "if we get married".

I came home from studying abroad and shared my experience with my boyfriend. That Christmas break we looked at rings for the first time. We consecrated our relationship to St. Joesph (basically just officially asking the patron of purity and marriage, to pray for us). We began to move forward from dating to preparing for engagement. After a while, he began telling his friends (and a few of mine) that he was planning on "popping the question" and some of them knew his plans.

Long story, short (or just short-er), he didn't propose as he has planned. And shortly after the date of his planned proposal passed, he ended our relationship. I was devastated. I had never, and have never, felt my heart break before like this, but I really truly felt it. I sobbed for hours, and when Monday rolled around and I got up for classes, I just couldn't do it. I was somewhat well-known for always having a smile and being cheerful. I couldn't bring myself to pull it together and left that morning, driving the 4.5 hours home.

I spent a few days dealing with everything (and crying . . . a lot . . .) and really felt God was calling me not to give up on us quite yet. So, I asked if I could make the 2 hour detour on my way back to school to come talk to him. When I arrived, it was so clear that he wasn't thinking clearly. It was not until many months later that I learned he was going through some deep depression. All he kept saying was that he just wasn't happy anymore. I tried desperately to understand how he'd given up on 3 years for a two week rocky patch. In the end, I just couldn't reach him. He had already made his decision. I made it clear that if he wanted to turn around right now, and work back to where we were, that we could. If, however, I walked out that door in the same situation as I walked in, that this would be it. That this was not a break, that this was over. After many tears on both ends, and hitting the brick wall over and over, I accepted his decision and left.

I still hadn't quite given up on us yet. That next weekend, we both had school dances, and had planned on going to one of them together. Needless to say, I did not attend my dance. But, on Sunday, due to our dear friend "facebook", I learned quickly that he had gone to his dance, and he hadn't gone alone. I was completely devastated. After talking to him and verifying what I already knew to be true, I made it very clear that I never wanted to see him again. I told him . . . what I thought of him . . . that I couldn't believe he could do this and hurt me so badly, and that I never wanted to hear from him again. "I hate you. Never call or contact me again. You've lost me, forever. Get out of my life."

Years later, I can still remember saying these words. And in all of the mess, this is the only thing I regret: telling him I hated him. It was a lie. I didn't hate him. I was angry, deeply hurt, and shocked, but I never once hated him. And, that was it. I purged my life of him that week, throwing away everything that I had of our relationship. I deleted pictures, threw away gifts, and ended up deleting my facebook profile (many of his friends were my "friends" and also had pictures I just couldn't handle seeing). And when I finally did open my facebook again, I deleted him, and just about all of his friends, from my "friends".

I went through a few weeks of being unable to eat and throwing up every morning when I woke up to the real life nightmare (the one positive, I lost 10 lbs! haha). I fell into Jesus' arms, and just laid there . . . for days . . . letting him hold me as I sobbed in his arms. Slowly, though, I began to get up from this terrible fall. I began to attend mass every day, and clung to the Eucharist for strength to stand. Music was a huge source of strength for me (to this day, I still have my "break-up" playlist). I started to eat again, and then began to run. I would just run and run everyday. Thinking back, I think it was the only way I felt like I was moving forward. Running was my escape. I wanted so desperately for this man that knew everything about me not to know me anymore. And since I couldn't move or change my life, I began to change my body. I began to pray for him everyday. Each morning, it was a simple 2 sentence prayer: "Lord, please send him someone to get him back on the right track. St. Joseph, please pray for him, protect him, and guide him." I couldn't keep myself from praying for him, even when I wasn't sure it was good for me to keep thinking about him. Everyday, for 9 months, I prayed this prayer.

The only time I contacted the man that broke my heart was in an email a week later, to tell him I was sorry for saying I hated him. The only time he contacted me was a month later to let me know (by demand of a mutual friend, and my now maid-of-honor) that he was now dating the girl from the photographs I'd seen, and wanted me to hear from him. For 9 months, we had no contact. Due to mutual friends, I heard about him once in a while. I knew he had turned down the wrong path, away from God. I knew his relationship was not a good one. 7 months after we split, I heard about the depression. With that information, many of the things he had said the last time I saw him finally made sense.

So, why am I telling you all about the horrible break-up? Well, it's probably more for me than for you. Every time I re-tell the story, I re-live it, and heal a little bit more. But, the reason I began to tell you about all of this is so you can truly see the beauty of how God worked next . . .

I will post the conclusion of the story on a new post . . . this one has ended up being much longer than planned!

stay tuned for the next episode of "Days of Amanda's Life". haha.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Blinding Light

Have you ever looked at a bright light? At first, it may have been painful, but if you kept looking at it, your eyes adjusted and everything else seemed to disappear in the darkness? Ever think this experience would be a life lesson?

I've been having a difficult time lately focusing on God. It all started with not giving enough time to God in prayer. And when our relationship began to struggle, it became more difficult for me to live the life He asks me to live. It was harder to not be anxious about the future, harder to love in difficult situations, harder to keep my mind pure, and ultimately harder to stay away from the temptations of life. I was so frustrated with myself. I just kept falling short of what I was called to be. In the midst of this disappointment, I attended Catholic Underground (an amazing ministry in LA that starts with a holy hour and continues with some kind of artist "underground" in the basement of the Church).

During adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, the Church is dimmed and a spotlight is directed at the monstrance. At the particular location I (or rather God) had picked, the light hit perfectly on the metal to shine right into my eyes. At first, the blinding light hurt my eyes and I tried to avoid it, but then I realized that God was telling me something through this experience.

Instead of avoiding the light, I stared right into it. After moments of squinting and bearing the pain, my eyes adjusted to the light. It became easy to stare right at the monstrance. And the more I focused on Christ, the less I could see anything else. Everything outside of the path of light faded until it disappeared and I could only see the light. It was truly a "blinding light". And that's when it all made sense!

So many times in life, we get so distracted by everything and start stumbling along our path so much that we forget how to keep moving forward after we keep falling. Jesus was showing me that if I would only focus on Him, everything else wouldn't be so difficult. That the more I focused on Him, the more I would adjust and get used to focusing on Him. That if I'd only keep my eyes on Him, soon I wouldn't even be able to see the temptations that were in the darkness anymore. Just like focusing on the light made all that was out of it's path disappear, so would focusing on Christ make everything not in the path to Christ fade and disappear. He was showing me that it wouldn't be so difficult, I just needed to put my spiritual blinders on and focus on Christ!

As I began to re-center on Christ in my life, it wasn't long before everything that was distracting me in the shadows faded away into the darkness and disappeared.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Mondays Miracles - Leading Teens Closer to Christ

Today, my Monday Miracle is that I not only made it through last week, but with flying colors! Let me give you a little taste of my world . . .

I work as a Youth Minister in a Catholic Church. My position requires many hats, namely: Coordinator or EDGE Middle School Ministry (including first communion preparation), RCIA-Teen Coordinator, RCIA-Children Coordinator, and Lux Dei Young Adult Ministry Co-coordinator. Needless to say, this job has been quite literally full-filling. I often find that I end my days wondering what happened to my personal life. Don't get me wrong, I love what I do. I've wanted to minister to the youth of Our Church since I myself was a youth. And every time I make that connection with a kid, I remember why I chose this profession.

The problem with my job is that I simply can't put all I want to in each of the ministries. I am not one to only do something half-way, so it's been a difficult journey. Though I am confident that each of the ministries I am leading are better now than they were when I moved to California, it's difficult for me to accept that I simply can't do everything. This past week proved me right!

My weeks schedule:
Monday - EDGE (Middle School Ministry with 180 kids attending one of two sessions)
Tuesday - RCIA adapted for Teens
Wednesday - RCIA adapted for Children (Penitetial Rite and Anointing of Catechumens)
Thursday - Interviews for 1st Reconciliation all day, class for the same kids that evening. Plan stations of the cross for Saturday's retreat.
Friday - Set up and prepare for Saturday's all day retreat (Many hours . . .)
Saturday - All Day RCIA-Teen Retreat (9am-9pm)
Sunday - RCIA 1st Scrutiny - My turn to dismiss with them to discuss the readings.

Needless to say, it was a LONG week. All this aside, I also got a difficult message from a friend at the beginning of the week. And just as a joke from God, he also decided to make this my . . . we'll say "emotional" week.

I was dreading the week just coming to work on Monday. But as the week slowly moved forward, I found that I was able to meet all off my responsibilities, come to peace with my friends message, and get my emotions somewhat under control. And as I trusted God with the crazy week ahead, He simply used me as an instrument in His plan.

Monday went pretty well, and the activity we used to process the Liturgy of the Word really taught the kids how to use the Bible for prayer. Tuesday was a little hectic when one of my catechists had to cancel last minute. But thanks to a wonderful team, the situation was quickly taken care of. Wednesday was the first time I lead a Rite all by myself, and it went rather smoothly. Many commented on the beauty of the event. Thursday began to get even more stressful. Every second of the 8 hours I worked was occupied by the day's scheduled activities. My interviewees actually went very well, and I think the kids enjoyed our activity on how to go to confession. The stations of the cross also went well and were somewhat planned by the time we finally left the building. Friday was a busy, yet enjoyable day. Filled with pulling together our resources to create a retreat environment and shopping for the days supplies and food. I spent most of the late evening/early morning fighting with my computer to make CDs.

Saturday came so quickly, and I was scared all day that it would go terribly wrong because of something I probably forgot. But fortunately for us, God had a plan. The retreat was long and took alot of work out of the team, but it was a beautiful retreat that I think really hit home with the kids. And very few things went wrong all day! :)

Thank you, God, for getting me through this week. Thank you for using me to get your work done in this world. I praise you for all you have done through me to "Lead Teens Closer to Christ".

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thankful Thursday

Today I'm Thankful for:

  • God being constant when my emotions are not even close.

  • The parents that thanked me today: One for being an encouraging and positive teacher, one said her son never did this well, that I work so well with them, and another for being an understanding and great teacher. Those parents have no idea how much I needed that today!

  • God giving us encouragement (through others) just when He knows we need it.

  • Volunteers that give of their time to help serve the youth of our Church

  • A clean apartment and a clean car!

  • Parents that always taught me to take responsibility for myself (in school, work, activities, etc.)

  • The priests of our Church and their service to us

  • My loving family

  • My fiance's generosity

  • The many hundreds of friends that have crossed my path through the years of my life

  • The Eucharist

Monday, March 1, 2010

A Tune for Tuesday

Well, today is not Tuesday . . . but who cares about boundaries! :)

I was searching the internet for different songs today, when I ran across this song. It may be well known to many, but it was a first listen for me. I grew still, listening to the simple, meaningful lyrics. It didn't take very many bars for tears to begin trickling down my cheaks.

In these simple words, is not our whole desire written? Is it not our simple desire to just do His Will? To be used by Him? How many times do I stumble and fall along the journey. Trying to do things right, to get things done on time, to make things perfect, when all we need to do is simply lay it at the foot of the cross and give our daily lives to Him. I pray this song moves you to lay all you have before our Lord today.

My Desire: Jeremy Camp

You want to be real, you want to be empty inside
You want to be someone
laying down your pride
You want to be someone someday
Then lay it all
down before the king

You want to be whole, you want to have purpose
You want to have virtue and purify your mind

You want to be
set free today
Then lay it all down before the King

This is my
desire, this is my return
This is my desire to be used by You

want to be real, you want to be emptied inside
And I know my heart is to
feel You near
And I know my life
It's to do Your will
It's to do
Your will

This is my desire, this is my return
This is my desire, to
be used by You
Oo yea
This is my desire, this is my desire
To be
used by You

All my life I have seen
Where You've taken me
all I have hoped
And there's more left unseen

There's not much I can
do to repay all You've done
So I give my hands to use

This is my
desire, this is my return
This is my desire, to be used by You
Oo yea
This is my desire, this is my desire
To be used by You

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Let us not fast in vain."

Often, when I'm looking for a daily mass to attend, I head to to find the latest Mass that fits into my schedule. Yes, I will not deny that mornings are not my favorite time of day. Once I'm up and going, I love when I have gotten up early. Unfortunately, that is the last thing I care about when I'm hitting snooze.

On Friday, In keeping with my normal routine, I attending an evening Mass at a parish a small distance away. The readings, as is fitting for Lent, focused on fasting. The first reading called us to see the meaning of our fast.

Isaiah 58:1-9
Thus says the Lord GOD:
Cry out full-throated and
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Tell my people
their wickedness,
and the house of Jacob their sins.
They seek me day
after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what
is just
and not abandoned the law of their God;
They ask me to declare what is due them,
pleased to gain access to God.
“Why do we fast, and you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, and you take no note of it?”

Lo, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
Yes, your fast ends in quarreling and fighting,
striking with wicked claw.
Would that today you might fast
so as to make your voice heard on high!
Is this the manner of fasting I wish,
of keeping a day of penance:
That a man bow his head like a reed
and lie in sackcloth and ashes?
Do you call this a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking every yoke;
Sharing your bread with the hungry,
sheltering the oppressed and the homeless;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own.
Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say:
Here I am!

Talk about a wake up call! Is it not too often that Catholics refrain from eating or doing something without praying with it? How many times have we, ourselves, failed to genuinely pray through our fast, rather than simply abstaining from something?

The priest at this parish gave a wonderful homily. He closed with a simple, yet profound, statement: "Let us not fast in vain."

What good is fasting if there is no meaning behind it but simple will-power? What good is abstaining from meat on Fridays if we have our favorite seafood instead? What is the point of "giving up" chocolate if we do not thank Christ for His sacrifice each time we pass up a treat? How is unplugging a television set have any purpose if we do not use our newly free time to give glory to God?

"Lent is not about a bunch of praying. It is not about fixing a few bad habits. Lent is about reorienting our life toward the end for which we were created" (Fr. Andy Alexander)

As we enter this first week of Lent, let's prayerfully focus on the meaning of our actions. It is through this season that we have the opportunity to celebrate the Paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

California Adventures of a Missouri vagabond

It's been a while since I've updated the items I've crossed off the "California Bucket List" I made months ago. I've made a little progress, eliminating two adventures from the to-do list. Thus, there are two stories to tell.


I finally made it to Disneyland after living just a short drive away from it for a year and a half. Our parish staff takes "staff days" periodically throughout the year, and in December, we found out we were going to Disneyland! Best part about that, it was free! I've always wanted to go to Disneyland, but spending 90-something dollars to go to an amusement park for a day just doesn't fit into my budget or my common sense. I would have liked to spend a little more time there, and be able to go on some of the more exciting rides, but none-the-less, I knocked something off the list without spending a dime!

The places I experienced: Star Tours, Mad Tea Party, It's a Small World, Jungle Cruise, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Carribbean, Soaring over California, California Screamin'. (I think that about does it).

(Above: In the "A" of "California")

Overall, Disneyland was a neat place to visit. I don't think it quite met my expectations (everyone talks about how wonderful it is). Don't get me wrong, I had a great time, but I honestly doubt I'll ever pay for a full priced ticket, and certainly wouldn't get a season pass. If I had kids, it seems more likely that I would consider it, but even then, I'm not so sure I spend $200 a person to go.

I may, however, do a community service day and get a free ticket! That seems more than worth it! :)

(Above: Tea cup madness!)

Our trip to Canter's Deli was a wonderful memory! Last night, a good friend came over to have a girl's night and catch up with each other. We ate dinner, updated each other on the latest happenings of our lives, and then we moved on to the internet. At this point, my blog came up, and soon, we were looking at the bucket list. As we went through what I had yet to cross-off, we made it to Canter's Deli. It wasn't long after she mentioned that they were open 24-hours that we were headed out the door at 12:00 am to drive into LA! After a quick stop to fill up the gas take, we were off!

A short 40 min. later, we were walking up to the door of a 24-hour Jewish Deli. We opted to sit near the bar in order to hear the band that was playing. It was a joy to watch the many interesting people that came in and out of the restaurant, especially at 2:00 am! I ordered a staple grilled honey ham sandwich that was delicious, while my partner-in-crime ordered the matzo ball soup (her favorite). We enjoyed great conversation, delicious food, and a warm cup of coffee before we made our way toward the exit. We didn't fail to stop by the bakery on our way out though! I have yet to try any of the treats I purchased, but I can assure you that it was money (and will be calories) well spent!

It was a crazy trip, and I'm definitely tired from staying up until 4:00 am, but I find that these not so logical, but not stupid or dangerous, decisions have become the most memorable times of my life.

The California Bucket List

1) Learn to Surf
2) Swim with the Dolphins at Sea World
3) Visit and hike Catalina Island
4) Hollywood
5) Malibu
6) Santa Barbara
7) Dodgers Statium
8) See a movie premeire
9) Hike to the Hollywood sign
10) Stay at Hotel del Coronado
11) Channel Islands
12) Lake Arrowhead
13) Joshua Tree
14) Palm Springs
15) Yosemite
16) Vegas
17) Disneyland
18) Grand Canyon
19) Sequoia National Park
20) Drive Pacific Coast Highway
21) Huntington Library
22) San Francisco
23) The Missions (Fulfilled in Santa Barbara)
24) Kayaking caves at La Jolla
25) Hearst Castle
26) Sailing
27) Death Valley
28) Hollywood Bowl
29) Whale Watching
30) Grunion Runs (with my Dad)
31) San Diego Zoo
32) La Brea Tar Pits
33) The Ghetty Museum
34) Griffith Observatory
35) Universal Studios
36) Santa Monica Pier
37) Eat at Planet Hollywood
38) Venice Boardwalk
39) Santa Monica Promenade
40) Be an extra or in the studio audience of a TV show
41) LA County Museum of Art
42) Pantages Theater
43) Tommy's Burger
44) Canter's Deli
45) Philippe's French Dip Sandwich
46) Fashion District
47) Olvera Street
48) Tijuana
49) Move back to Missouri

Friday, February 19, 2010

Life or Death Decisions

Moses said to the people:
“Today I have set before you
life and
prosperity, death and doom.
If you obey the commandments of the LORD, your
which I enjoin on you today,
loving him, and walking in his ways,
and keeping his commandments, statutes and decrees,
you will live and
grow numerous,
and the LORD, your God,
will bless you in the land you
are entering to occupy.
If, however, you turn away your hearts and will not
but are led astray and adore and serve other gods,
I tell you
now that you will certainly perish;
you will not have a long life
on the
land that you are crossing the Jordan to enter and occupy.
I call heaven and
earth today to witness against you:
I have set before you life and death,
the blessing and the curse.
Choose life, then,
that you and your
descendants may live, by loving the LORD, your God,
heeding his voice, and
holding fast to him.
For that will mean life for you,
a long life for
you to live on the land that the LORD swore
he would give to your fathers
Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
Dt. 30:15-20

Today was the second day of my Lenten Challenge, to attend daily Mass. This task wasn't quite as difficult when I was living at college (considering there were Masses each day from 7:15 am to 9:30 pm). But since I have graduated, it has become difficult for me to make a commitment. I willingly admit that it is because of my lack of self-discipline. I simply love to sleep, I can't help it! It is my hope that after completing this Lenten Challenge, I will easily be able to continue it as a Challenge for life.

I got myself out of bed this morning for the latest morning mass I could find in the area. 2 days down, 38 to go. Today's reading was Deuteronomy 30:15-20. God always has a way of making the daily mass readings exactly what I need to learn from that day.

Moses makes it pretty simple for us, and clearly puts it in black or white: Choose life, or choose death. It couldn't be put any simpler. But it really got me thinking. Every single step I take in life is either toward life, or toward death; toward heaven, or toward hell; toward God, or away from Him. Each morning that I decide my sleep is more important than meeting My Lord at Mass, each day I don't do my best at my job, each day I fail to spend enough time in prayer, I'm choosing death. It seems a little harsh . . . but it's entirely true!

In every decision we have, God sets before us "life and death, the blessing and the curse." Which will you choose? "Death and doom", or "life and prosperity"?

Let us, as Moses encourages us to do today, "CHOOSE LIFE"!

May this Lenten Season bring you new grown, purity, and life. May we always remember to strive for sainthood, aiming for heaven.

"Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return."

Yesterday, we began the journey of the season of Lent. For those readers who may not be Catholic, you have probably seen Catholics walking around with dirt on their foreheads. You may have heard Catholics talking about what they are "giving up for Lent" and saying "it's Friday, I can't eat meat." Often, this is about all that the general public knows of Lent, and sadly, many Catholics don't know much more.

Lent is the the liturgical season that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday. This season is 40 days long (not counting Sundays when we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ), commemorating the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert (which reflected the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering the desert). This season is a time of reflection, prayer, fasting, abstinence, and alms giving. It's an invitation to grow closer to Christ and prepare our hearts for Easter.

Ash Wednesday is a day that we particularly address the reality of sin and death. We stop to remember that we will leave this earth, it is not our home. On a very practical level, Lent is a time for us to examine our lives. It is a time for us to get our priorities straight and refocus on Our Lord. In a special way, we enter the desert with Christ during this season. We "give things up" in order to free our hearts for God.

This year, I'm giving up a habit that takes up much of my time each day. It is my hope to spend the time I will now have free focusing on God. Either reading spiritual books, the bible, praying, going to mass, etc. It is my intention this year to truly enter into the beauty of this season. To re-align my priorities and focus again on making each day focused on joining my will with My Lord. To remember that this Earth is not our Final Destination. And to remember, as we are reminded every year on Ash Wednesday that "we are dust, and to dust we will return."

“Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return.” Gen. 3:19

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I just wanna be the girl I used to be when I was me and worry free . . .

Wow, it's been quite a while since I updated last. As I sit here wondering where my life has taken me since my last post, I quickly realized why I haven't been using my keyboard lately.

When taking a silly "How Well do you know your future spouse" quiz with my fiance a few weeks ago, one of the questions for him was as follows: "How would your future wife describe herself? A: Optimist, Pessimist, or Realist." His answer: Optimist (that is what she would say). He didn't mean this to hurt me, but it really hit me. All my life, I've been optimistic. I generally always look on the bright side of things and can always see the good in a situation. It took this moment with my future hubby to realize that I've lost my optimistic attitude.

I haven't been posting recently because I like to post positive and happy posts, or at least not pessimistic ones. The last month or two have been increasingly more difficult for me, and harder to look on the bright side. I can't put my finger on one situation or event that has caused this, but I can see that it's there. Maybe it's being away from my fiance. Maybe it's because my responsibilities at work have become more difficult to meet. Maybe it's because I miss old friends, or because my friends in California just don't seem to have enough time for a social life. Maybe it's because I live alone and don't have my roommates that always seemed to take my mind off the stresses of life. Maybe it's because I'm planning a wedding from 1500 miles away or because I'm ready to move home. Maybe it's because no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to get my life schedule in order, or because I can't seem to stick to a healthy lifestyle. Maybe it's because I recognize the loss of my optimistic tendencies. Of course, it's probably a mixture of all of these.

All my life, people have commented on the fact that I'm always smiling, that I'm always happy, that I radiate joy. Of course, in reality, I was not always smiling or always happy, but a majority of the time, I chose to be. It's been a year or two since I've heard that comment about me, but it wasn't until now that I realized it's absence.

I guess I'm just disappointed. I'm sitting here wondering if the people in California even know the real me. Because that optimistic, joyfully, happy, and smiling person is me. I think that I must have been me when I moved here, but somewhere along the way, I've lost myself in the stress of life.

What does all this mean? It's time for change! It's time to set some goals. Today, I am determined to find myself again. I am determined to fix my sleeping schedule, eating habits, attitude, and prayer life. I am determined to believe in myself and God's plan. I am determined to give the kids that are counting on me all that I can before I leave. I am determined to set out on more adventures, be more diligent at work, and not stress about work when I'm not on the clock. I am determined to enjoy planning a wedding and give my fiance more attention. I am determined that I will make the most of the next 5 months. I am determined to show California the real me before I head back to the midwest.

Here's to the new (or old) and improved me! It's time to kick my sanguine butt into gear, and it's going to take the choleric me to do it!