outer or inner self.

Suffering.

This one word manages to invoke so many different thoughts, emotions and fears in my heart (perhaps yours, too?) No one really wants to suffer. We all want lives that are happy, healthy, carefree and joyful!

Yet try as we may, we all come face to face with suffering at one point or another. Some will hide it, some will highlight it, some will run away from it… but suffering is apart of our broken humanity. ***But please don’t run away now- this post has a happy ending! As do all the best of stories. I want to share some encouragement I received from the Lord. Something that has lifted my spirits in a season of suffering.

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After getting pregnant (praise the Lord) I had to go off most of my eczema medications. As a result, my skin has officially gone bonkers ( but seriously, it’s been horrible). It’s either red, open and inflamed, or dry as the desert. One thing a lot of people don’t realize, is how debilitating eczema can be. It’s not just a little itchy skin (at least for me and many others), it’s an insatiable itch that can be all consuming at times. It means waking up in the night from scratching, constant moisturizing, physical pain, and a lot of emotional burdens from feeling and being inflamed/swollen/red/itchy/worn down……

I’ve been really trying to grow in trust and faith throughout this trying time! During adoration this past week, I remembered a verse that in the past has brought me a lot of peace when it comes to physical suffering. I had my bible and thought, ” it would be so great to find that verse tonight”. I flipped to a page in Corinthians, and it wasn’t on that page, so I turned one page back and sure enough, there was the verse, waiting for me! The Holy Spirit had definitely guided me to this place, because like many good Catholics, I know the verse but have NO IDEA where it is located. This is what it said,

” So we do not lose heart. Though the outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day” – 2 Corinthians 4:16

Isn’t this beautiful! When we feel our outer selves wasting away ( physical sufferings and burdens we carry on/in our bodies), we can be reassured of the fact that Christ wants to strengthen us and our spirit. He does not want our inner self to waste away, fall into despair, feel rejected or forgotten.

No!! Christ wants us to hope, and “not loose heart”! Christ is near to us in our suffering, even when we feel alone or frustrated. We have the opportunity to invite Christ in to our sufferings. To be vulnerable, open and honest about the crosses we carry. To ask him for his help and presence in our pain. To unite with Christ on the Cross each and every day.

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Although this doesn’t “solve” the problem of suffering, or even take away my pain (or yours), it does remind me that our suffering can become life-giving. We can ask Jesus to use these hard times for someone else’s good (spouse,child,friend,world) and trust in this mystery of redemptive suffering. This is not an easy path, but I know the Lord sees our efforts, sufferings and offerings, and will reward us- either here on earth, or hopefully in heaven one day!

in the wind.

Your in the wind,

the flame, the light.

Holy Spirit,

Our souls ignite.

Set us ablaze,

With your own love,

Decend on us,

O Holy Dove.

More than ever,

We choose anew.

In these dark times,

To trust in you.

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will we?

Will we come to the sacred Cross,

And kneel at Mary’s side?

To contemplate this gruesome loss,

Our Savior who has died.

In silence do we bear the pain,

Submit to greater love?

To know the Lamb who has been slain,

Was sent from heavn’ above.

With eyes like Mary, let us see,

That light and hope remain.

His body hung upon the tree,

Will come to life again.

Adapted from original post on December 2, 2016

yes to trust.

It’s really nice to have a solemnity in the middle of Lent! Especially this Lent. I don’t know about you, but I’m finding it hard to fast and keep up my Lenten observances with all this covid chaos. The temptation to eat away my sorrows with chocolate is strong …

Today is the solemnity of the Annunciation of our Lord, and I think this solemnity is exactly what we need to hear right now. Why? Because Mary can teach us something about our current situation.

Mary, received the incredible and UNEXPECTED message that she was to conceive Jesus, by the power of the Holy Spirit. She didn’t request this, she didn’t plan for this, and she surely didn’t know how things would turn out.

Fast forward to today. World leaders are up in arms, countries on lock down, hospitals overloaded, families in isolation, people are dying, infection rates are sky rocketing, and many are anxious and fearful. We didn’t expect this. And we definitely didn’t plan for this…

Perhaps accepting our current situation like Mary, is exactly what we need to be doing! To take on this attitude of the handmaid of the Lord. Of course, Mary’s situation is lightyears away from a comparison to Covid-19- but it’s about finding the right approach to a complicated, and unplanned time, like Mary. She trusted in the Lord, with a trust so pure and loving.

I pray that we, like Mary, can use this time of uncertainty, to trust in the Lord more deeply! To surrender our fears and anxieties to He who came into the world, to redeem his beloved people.

learning or living forgiveness?

A street corner in the area of Düsseldorf, Germany

Forgiveness.

The theme of forgiveness has been on my heart after hearing the parable of the unmerciful servant ( Matthew 18:21-35) a few days ago in the Gospel. 🥜 Nutshell version: A servant owes money to his master, begs for forgiveness and is forgiven. However, the servant does not forgive his own servant’s debts. The master gets word of this, calls the first servant back, and punishes him for not extending the mercy he received.

The theme of forgiveness is not new to most Christians. We’ve been learning about what it means to forgive since we were in primary school!

But that’s just it. There’s a difference in learning about it, and living it. I guess it sorta hit me this week. Forgiveness has the power to change our lives, if we let the Lord help us! It’s one of the hardest things to do; especially when we have been wounded unjustly. But I’m starting to see how crucial forgiveness is, if we want to grow in holiness.

What makes the saints so special? That’s a loaded question! It’s a combination of factors….But in my opinion, what separates them from the rest, is their radical mercy! Think of saint John Paul II, St. Bakhita, St. Kateri… so many of the saints had a pivotal moment in their lives where they could bear a grudge for the unjust treatment they received, or forgive. They had every reason, according to the world, to get angry, resent and retaliate. But they didn’t. They chose the higher way. They chose to forgive.

I don’t know about you, but that inspires me! I want to start living this mercy more and more radically. I want to mirror what the saints did, following the ultimate model of Christ on the cross. What joy and freedom the Lord wants to offer us through the power of forgiveness. For many of us, this is a hard and rocky road.. but we have the intercession of the saints, and our Saviour Jesus Christ to teach, guide and strengthen us!

the very bad, terrible, no good day.

Is it just me, or does it seem like a lot of people right now are going through a hard time?

It’s like that kids book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst on repeat. Ugh. And while this Alexander kid in the story had a pretty rough go, I feel like the adult version can be a lot more bleak. Sometimes I just wish it was gum in my hair, no toy in my cereal, or no one liking my painting in class…

I can name quite a few people in my own circle (me included), who just seem to be handed a very crappy set of cards these days. Whether it’s external circumstances, or things in their inner life being brought up, they are swimming upstream.

adult art conceptual dark

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Sometimes it’s really a fight to stay positive, focus on the good, and resist the temptation to despair or give in to the unhappiness. I read a blog today and she posted one of my favorite bible verses!  I really needed to read it today. I think it’s worth keeping in our hearts, especially in these troubling times.

 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect”- Romans 12:2

Yessss! We are not to be conformed to this world. The world right now is preaching a lot of stuff that can lead us astray. Money will bring happiness, the rich and famous are more happy, perfection looks like a beauty blogger with the perfect body, you need to have impressive material goods to show off on your Instagram account, life is about cool holidays and eating fun food and documenting them on social media.

Don’t get me wrong, some of these things in and of themselves are great; taking care of our bodies, enjoying traveling (which I love to do!), and celebrating the gifts God has given us through food and experiences. But so often these things become the ultimate goal.

However, God calls us to renew our minds, to discern with Him, what is good and acceptable and perfect! The joys that He has to offer are so much greater than any mega yaht, beach body smoothie mix, perfect instagram worthy scene and amount of money sitting in our bank accounts.

God wants our ultimate HAPPINESS and that is found in Him alone. Even as I write this, I am not necessarily “feeling” completely happy in Him. But I also know that this is true despite any feelings I might have. Even in these darker seasons, God is still rooting for our happiness. It might not come with bright snazzy lights, and warm fuzzies, but it’s going to be a beautiful final product. I guess were like that clay that the Potter is working on. It might be messy, unclear, and a little bit uncomfortable as things are moved around, but that final masterpiece is going to be worth saving and treasuring!

red lighted candle

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So if you find yourself a little like Alexander on your no good, terrible, horrible, bad day; its alright! Seasons come and they GO, and your not alone. Right around you is someone else who is suffering, working through stuff, and figuring out life just like you. Pray for them, and they can pray for you! Let’s continue to renew our minds in the truth that is of God and His Kingdom!

 

heavenly roses.

Over the years, I have struggled A LOT with praying the rosary. I seem to find a way around praying it by saying things like, ” I’ll pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet- it’s shorter” or ” I prayed it a few days ago, so I can wait a little while” or “Why don’t I just pray 1 decade”… you get the idea!

It’s not like I had anything against the rosary and in fact I wished to pray it more regularly and genuinely. I usually avoided it because it would take around 15-20 minutes and I could always think of “other” prayers I preferred. When I actually did pray the rosary on my morning or afternoon commute, I was totally distracted and found myself only saying the words instead of praying the words. I just decided to kind of give up on the whole devotion because I didn’t want to be a hypocrite who prays but doesn’t mean it.

beautiful bloom blooming close up

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This whole narrative has been pretty accurate until about two weeks ago. I found myself on what felt like a chaotic emotional rollercoaster with no end in sight. I was wondering what I could do to calm my spirit and find peace again. I ended up (#ThanksHolySpirit) thinking back to a moment years ago when (during a very blessed time I was praying the rosary quite regularly) I felt this profound peace during an absolutely mental day at the daycare I was working at. The kids were literally running around like monkeys with no parents, jumping on beds and making so much noise during NAP TIME. On any other day this would have pushed me to the limit, but that day, I was sitting rubbing the back of a child watching mayhem unfold with an incredible peace in my soul. I just knew that the profound deep peace I felt was coming straight from the graces of the rosary!

After recalling this beautiful moment, I decided I should “try the rosary” once again. I ended up writing a very wise priest, in some what of a desperate e-mail, asking how to learn to love the rosary. He recommended quite a few great tips but one that has been especially helpful is a book called “The Secret of the Rosary” by Louis De Montfort. It gives so many stories of miracles that have been performed through the intercession of Mary and Jesus through the rosary. It’s so inspiring to read.

I thought I would just quickly share a few tips that have been helping me lately to delve into the beauty of this devotion. Perhaps it can help someone else out there who is struggling to enter this wonderful and truly blessed prayer.

  •  Choosing a moment to pray the rosary without distractions: I have stopped praying on my morning/afternoon commutes. I pray the rosary in silence at home so that I can really focus and contemplate on the words
  • Using a “visual aid” (hahah I sound like such a teacher here): I have a little Roary book with pictures for each mystery. It’s helping a lot to direct my thoughts towards the mystery of the life of Jesus that I am meditating on
  • Reading a short excerpt from “The Secret of the Rosary” book: Before I begin the rosary, I read one short “chapter” from De Montfort’s book to be reminded of the importance of this devotion, and how so many men and women for hundreds of years have been changed through the rosary!

I have to say, in the past days that I have been praying the rosary again, I (and my husband) have felt a greater peace in the home. I am definitely just beginning this “new” journey with Mary through the Holy Rosary, but I am confident that the rosary is truly a path to her Son. The rosary is not to glorify Mary, but to honour her as she rightly deserves, and as her Son asked us to do (on the Cross) and let her pray for us and gently bring us to Jesus, her Son.

 

God bless you all in your journey of faith!

Mary Mother of God: Pray for Us!

 

 

” Good and devout souls, who walk in the light of the Holy Spirit: I do not think that you will mind my giving you this little mystical rose tree which comes straight from heaven and which is to be planted in the garden of your soul” (P. 13, The Secret of the Rosary)

don’t stick to the status quo

A few months ago I wrote a poem called “Chained to our Choice”,  in response to the New York State legislature legalizing late term abortions and lighting up the World Trade Centre in pink to celebrate. Aside from a few short stanzas, I haven’t been able to blog about this topic very much given the fact that my heart (along with so many of yours) is breaking. The Germans have a word that captures this emotion and it’s called Weltschmerz. It literally means world pain. To have Weltschmerz is to hurt and ache with something that is taking place in the world. Something like abortion.

It’s interesting how God works, because the topic of abortion has been placed on my heart for years now. It all started in high school at a New Years Eve party. A young woman opened up to me about an abortion she had a year earlier. We weren’t even in the same friend circle, but I suppose one too many drinks and a heart full of sorrow caused her to share her story so unexpectedly. I will never forget this moment. Fast forward to when I taught chastity education and spoke about the beauty of life from the moment of conception until natural death. And here I am now:

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This photo speaks to me of the power of standing out. Abandoning our camouflaged hiding spots to become a bold and vibrant sign to the world of life, dignity & love !

Even now in Germany, God continues to lead me to places where I can speak about the beauty of life and the dignity of every human person. I have had two very intense encounters in my German classes where I was the only one who spoke for the life of the unborn. The reality of how mislead our society has become, how far from truth we are, how twisted the enemy has played with “Women’s Rights”… is shocking. I left both of those conversations and cried in the hallway. I cried for those in my class who believe the baby is only a lump of cells, I cried for those who call abortion  freedom, but most of all I cried that I was alone in fighting for life.

The world needs Christians who stand up for life and speak about it! After the second conversation, one man came up to me and thanked me for my opinion. He seemed genuinely appreciative that I had brought up a new perspective.

It is not easy to stand apart and disagree with something that has become the “status quo”. But this is the call of Christ when he said, “Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:10).  Let us pray for one another. That we might find the strength in Christ to be a light in the darkness. That we might receive the gift of courage to speak the truth, in love, without fear. It’s not an easy road, but by the grace of God all things are possible : )

 

a holy glow.

Good Morning & Happy Saturday!

So as I mentioned in my previous post, I am enjoying the Wild Goose series SO MUCH.  I watched episode #5 with my husband and he too was touched. Not to mention my mom, who recommended the series in the first place. She couldn’t say enough positive things,  which is why I ended up checking it out. You can actually watch the entire series for free on youtube ( I had said only episodes 1-3, but that was wrong).

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Fortitude is a gift of the Holy Spirit and thats what this orchid has. Though close to death, it is miraculously blooming once again! I love this crazy plant.

…aaaand let’s change topics here:

For those of you following the daily mass readings, have you also noticed how incredibly rich the first readings are right now!? I feel like everyday I am saying “this is my favourite bible verse” or “I have to write a blog about this verse” or “I have to write that down in my journal”. St. Paul is on fire!

I am a mega St.Paul fan because he writes so eloquently, clearly and boldly. The style of his writing makes it easier for me to hear the voice of God. I guess God inspired different prophets, kings, apostles and psalmists to write His word for this exact reason; to appeal to the uniqueness of his people. He knows that his children learn  and understand differently. The great diversity of the scripture writers helps the Word of God come alive to the nations. Talk about a creative God! He is so thoughtful.

Here’s a few verses from the 1st Reading from mass on Thursday:

“Even today, whenever Moses is read, the veil is over the minds of the Israelites. It will not be removed until they turn to the Lord. Now this Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, with our unveiled faces reflecting like mirrors the brightness of the Lord, all grow brighter and brighter as we are turned into the image that we reflect; this is the work of the Lord who is Spirit”- 2 Corinthians 3:15-18

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These verses always remind me of a person in adoration; kneeling before the King of Kings and being transformed by His light and Presence. It’s like an “Adoration Tan”, where we receive a holy “glow”. We become mirrors of Christ when spend time in adoration and prayer. Not only are our hearts enlightened by the presence of the Lord, but we are freed by the power of the Spirit. Free to understand clearly the plans of God, free to understand His voice among the voices, free to live a moral life through God’s grace, free to live true love and mercy.

Let’s be the mirror of Christ today! Let’s radiate the love, mercy, kindness, faithfulness, generosity, strength, integrity and joy of our great God.

God bless you!