A Chance to Feel

So we’re all on the same page about how much I love crying, yes? (Hint: it’s a lot.)

When I was young, I didn’t care what others thought of my tears. I had bad separation anxiety, so I spent tons of time crying at school after my parents dropped me off. In kindergarten, I would cry so hard during all-school Mass that I had to be taken out of the church multiple times. I cried in first grade when I had to flip a card.

For a little while, as I grew up, I shut down every emotion and kept everything hidden. Crying was for weak people, and I wanted so badly to be strong, to have it all together.

Thankfully I got past that real quickly when I realized that life was hard and that feelings demand to be felt, otherwise I’d go crazy.

So here I sit, 23 years old, crying on my bed over this, that, or the other thing. Not an unusual scene around here. But today, I’m stopped in the middle of my own selfish crying in an overwhelming sense of gratitude.

I am so, so, so grateful to be alive. 

Yes, life is hard sometimes. Yes, people are imperfect and they will hurt me. I will hurt so badly.

BUT I CAN FEEL. I can feel anything and everything simply because my mother gave birth to me. What a gift life is!

I get to experience the lows, but they are only low compared to the incomparable highs – the time I watched the sunset in Spain, the time I was thrilled with my ACT score, all the times I’ve cried only from laughing so hard with the people who love me.

This week, my heart is absolutely aching upon seeing the videos of Planned Parenthood and what they’re doing with the body parts of the children they’re killing.

These poor children will never know what it’s like to watch a sunset, cry from laughing too hard, or even cry from having their heart broken by someone else. I wish so desperately that every human would be given a chance to feel both the pains and the joys of this world.

To hear these babies spoken of as “specimens” and assigned monetary value is dehumanizing beyond words, but in order to dehumanize someone, you have to admit that they are human to begin with.

I don’t believe that the problem here is abortion supporters believing that these people are indeed people, I think they’re just literally okay with killing these children and then using their body parts for some sort of gain, no matter what it is.

My heart hurts so badly for the people who perform abortions or counsel women to get them, and even for those who stand silently by while this is done. To speak so nonchalantly about the body parts of a slaughtered, innocent human being must require a hardness of heart that I cannot even fathom. I pray that their hearts may be softened and moved to compassion to support those whom they are now persecuting, to show true respect to women and men, both born and not-yet-out-of-the-womb.

This exposing of the extreme awfulness of abortion is a chance to feel for these lost lives, but we must take these feelings and put them into action, to enact change.

To be clear, it is not enough to simply put an end to the horrible practice of abortion. To be pro-life means to continue supporting and sustaining life from conception to natural death. This is a multi-faceted battle, and a battle that can only be fought with mercy, love, and understanding.

Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn, pray for us!
Our Lady of Guadalupe, protector of the unborn, pray for us!

I pray that someday, all children are given a chance to experience the beauty of living, both the good and the bad, the highs and the lows. Women and men deserve better than this.

If you have any questions concerning my beliefs – the beliefs of the Catholic Church – on the practice of abortion (or really anything else for that matter), please feel free to reach out to me and ask me. Comment on here if you’d like, or otherwise email me or send me a Facebook message. I would be glad to have a civil conversation with you!

*I dedicate this post to the little boys whose body parts are shown in the 4th video exposing the atrocities committed by Planned Parenthood, and to their mothers and fathers, that they may experience God’s mercy and healing.*

 

Martha? Mary? Lazarus.

Today is the feast day of my adopted patron saint, St. Martha, and I wanted to write something in honor of her.

I pray with the passages regarding Martha and Mary a lot, both Luke 10 and John 11. I try to figure out which one of their characters I take on at different points in my life. For a while, I was definitely in a Martha phase. Doing, doing, doing, and sometimes forgetting to just be, but often doing the necessary actions to bring about change.

LOOK HOW MUCH JESUS JUST WANTS TO SPEND TIME WITH HER! He desperately desires that she just sit and hang out with Him!
LOOK HOW MUCH JESUS JUST WANTS TO SPEND TIME WITH HER! He desperately desires that she just sit and hang out with Him!

This summer, especially during FOCUS staff training, I finally related to Mary more for the first time in my life. I sat at the feet of Jesus, too exhausted to do anything else, and finally just spent some time listening to what He was trying to say.

But today was something different entirely.

Here I am, sitting and wondering if today was a Mary day or a Martha day, and nothing was coming up. Let’s just say I did not have a productive day today, so I very quickly ruled out Martha. But my prayer today wasn’t great either. I’ve kind of just been dumping all of my issues at the feet of Jesus and running away scared before He has a chance to respond.

Who does that leave?

Well. Lazarus.

I’m dead in a cave.

AND PRAISE GOD.

I’ve been dead for four days, so you know I’m super dead. Not just sleeping. Not just sick. I am hella dead.

And because of this incredible death that has taken over my entire being, there is literally nothing I can do. I cannot just “wake up”, I can’t just demand that there aren’t any issues to deal with here, thankyouverymuch, I can’t push aside the things that are bothering me. I can’t do ANYTHING.

…And Jesus wept.

He hates to see me like this, completely stagnant and paralyzed by what’s going on around me.

know that He’s outside my cave calling me forth, just as He did for Lazarus, and I’m praying that He takes a few steps closer to this giant rock that has been rolled in front of my rotting body so that I can hear Him more clearly.

Only He can change anything about my current state, and I am so glad that I have a God who doesn’t leave that burden upon me, because obviously that doesn’t really work out for me.

I pray that anyone experiencing a similar (or completely different) sort of “death” can open their hearts to the call of Jesus to come forth and live. 

I had to include a picture with Martha in it because it IS her action that allows Jesus to work this miracle. #gettingstuffdone
I had to include a picture with Martha in it because it IS her action that allows Jesus to work this miracle. #gettingstuffdone

Praise God that He’s the one who enacts change in our hearts and that we’re not left to do this for ourselves.

Filled With Wonder

When I was an “angsty” 15 year old, I wrote a lot of poems.

I would sit on the driveway staring at clouds until some inspiration struck. Most days I would end up writing out the lyrics to Jonas Brothers songs (hence the reason for angsty being in quotation marks up there), but sometimes the inspiration did come.

That summer, a theme emerged in many of poems – monotony.

I was B O R E D with my life, tired of “being stuck” in one place and watching life pass me by, unable to go anywhere on my own, wanting to see more of the world but not really having a way to do so, desiring a closeness to others that was nearly impossible to find because of the walls I had built around my own heart. I was lonely, I was tired, and life was monotonous.

In the years since 2008, my life has truly been anything but monotonous. I have left home, traveled, made some incredible friends, and lived more life than I thought I could. But it has been absolutely turbulent. I haven’t settled in any one place for more than 9 months at a time, and all of that shifting and moving and living out of boxes gets tiresome.

So what did I do? I made a commitment for at least the next two years to go wherever FOCUS wants me and basically continue living that turbulent life of a college student for a little bit longer. (#crazy? or #called)

But it astounds me how much I now find myself craving that same monotony that I used to loathe. I can’t wait until the day where I can wake up in a house that I’ve lived in for a year, two years, three years. I can’t wait for a routine, a daily schedule, consistent faces, and stability. 

This season of life is insane. It’s enough to make anyone lose their mind, even if only for a few days at a time. Most days it’s easy to bear for now – the excitement of another new place and more new friends outweighs how much I don’t want to put all my stuff in boxes yet again and move it. But there are days when the thought of another suitcase, another box, another house, another cheap bed because there’s no point investing in something nice yet makes me want to scream.

When these days come, I am so grateful for the stability that I find in Christ. As St. Paul tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever,” (Hebrews 13:8). The Church is consistent. The sacraments are constant. God’s mercy remains. His love never fails, never alters, never ends.

I’ve been reading some of the poetry of St. John Paul II lately. My favorite is the first one on the page in that link, titled “The Stream”, and especially the first part of it, called “Wonderment”.

The undulating wood slopes down
to the rhythm of mountain streams.
To me this rhythm is revealing You,
the Primordial Word.

How remarkable is Your silence

in everything, in all that on every side
unveils the created world around us …

There is a constant motion in the universe, graces streaming down from the source, which JPII begs to find in the second part of this poem (“Where are you, source? Where are you, source?!”). The source of this life, this grace, is God, and the entirety of His creation points back to Him as its source.

In “Wonderment”, he discusses the fact that while everything moves and runs its course, man has the special gift of being able to stop and marvel at what goes on around him.

And herein lies my answer to my desire for stability. At any given moment, looking at Christ, I can stop and wonder and marvel at what He’s doing around me and in me, even when it seems the craziest. While this constancy looks different than what I might want, it’s God’s way of calling me back to him, back up the stream, in each and every moment.

I am, in JPII’s words, “filled with wonder” at what God is doing right now. Each crazy, ever-changing moment that passes is preparing me for what He has in store for me just around the corner. If we keep our eyes fixed on Him, He’ll reveal why each of these moments transpired.

The stream, God’s creation, and life pass by us, but in the words of St. John Paul II, “Stop, this passing has meaning… has meaning… has meaning.”

Catholic saint and super hipster
Catholic saint and super hipster
"But being amazed, he always emerged from the tide that carried him, as if saying to everything around him: 'Stop—in me is your harbour'"
“But being amazed, he always emerged
from the tide that carried him,
as if saying to everything around him:
‘Stop—in me is your harbour’…”

St. John Paul II, pray for us!

Tuesday True, Good, and Beautiful #13

It’s been a few weeks! I’m assuming these might start to get a little more sporadic now that I missed a couple and obviously the world didn’t end and you all still love me. (I hope.)

Being home for the last few days has been wonderful and weird all at once, but it’s definitely nice to see my dog (and, you know, the rest of my family), walk on carpet, and have cans of diet coke available at any given moment. Praise God!

So here are some true, good, and beautiful things for you :)

True: THIS. SONG.

We listened to it during our silent retreat at training and I haven’t been able to forget it. Josh Garrels is an incredible musician and this song is just crazy beautiful.

Favorite lyrics:

No one comes unless they’re drawn by the voice of desire that leads them along to the redemption of what went wrong by the blood that covered the innocent one. No more separation between us… So lift your voice just one more time. If there’s any hope, may it be a sign that everything was made to shine, despite what you can see.

There is so much hope, and everything does shine with God’s glory if you look closely enough.

Good: Today, I got to visit my friends teaching Totus Tuus this week at St. Patrick’s in Gretna. I went out for Mass and ended up staying for lunch and recess as well.

I am always blown away by the genuine love of children. Within seconds of one of the teachers introducing me to all the girls, two of them came up and asked if I would sit with them at lunch. They didn’t even know my name! So I sat with them and we talked about car trips and staying in hotels and St. Clair of Assisi and the Texas Rangers. At recess, I continued talking with one of these girls, and she kept asking me questions about myself as much as I was asking her about herself.

She was so innocent and sweet and kind and sincere. Lord, teach us all to be like this!

Beautiful: I often make comments about how my home church isn’t the prettiest church in the world, but…

SSM adoration

The ugliest room in the world would cease being ugly when the true presence of Jesus Christ is right in front of your eyes. Praise God for exposition the day after I returned to Nebraska!

[Also. Yeah, I took a picture during adoration. Haters gonna hate.]

I hope all is well with you and that you have had a lovely Tuesday! Please let me know if there’s any way I can be praying for you!

In The Gap

Together.

It’s the only word coming to my mind to describe my last five weeks in Ave Maria at FOCUS New Staff Training. In every sense of it. Together. We grew together, prayed together, laughed, worked, cried, ate, swam, walked, sang, relaxed, shared, listened, and lived together.

Alone and isolated, we make no difference. But God is with us. And together with Him? 500 missionaries and the students we work with will change the world.

When Curtis Martin, FOCUS’s founder and CEO, met St. Pope John Paul II, the pope told Curtis and the missionaries of FOCUS to “Be soldiers!” And together, we are exactly that. All summer, we were up shortly after the sunrise, we followed a strict schedule, ate the same food, attended classes and retreats, and did not sleep nearly enough. And now, we leave “bootcamp” and head out into the battle.

God definitely knew what He was doing when He put me in the small group that had St. Joan of Arc as a patroness. She was a BALLER and I am so timid. I don’t often get fired up about battles and fighting, but spiritual warfare is so real and God allows us to be on His side and fight with Him. What a privilege!

When I was in 9th grade, I took a drama class and was assigned a monologue from Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw, a play about the life of St. Joan of Arc. Reciting these words as a 14 year old was really my only experience with her, and at the time I really didn’t care very much. But looking back, this summer has been a follow-up to that monologue. It has been an opportunity to not look at St. Joan of Arc as a cool woman who is entirely unrelatable, but as a fellow soldier and a friend in this fight.

It felt like everything was coming full circle, but I’m beginning to think that God doesn’t close a lot, if any, of the circles in our lives. Every single experience we have draws from past experiences and leads to how we perceive new things.

With this and all the other experiences I’ve had this summer, I can hear God singing lyrics from a Coldplay song to me.

Don’t want to see another generation drop. I’d rather be a comma than a full stop.

God sews threads through our whole lives. Every moment is connected to other moments, to the story of the human race, and ultimately to Him.

If every teardrop is indeed a waterfall, I cried Niagara Falls this summer, but I didn’t cry it alone.

None of us get to Heaven by ourselves. We obviously need God, but we need to be able to see Him in one another as well. If I learned nothing else from my five weeks in Florida (which, I’m pretty sure I learned quite a bit), the solidification of this fact would be enough to propel me into mission. I would give anything to bring everyone I know into this togetherness, this family.

On our drive home, we listened to almost 24 hours of music. It ranged from Coldplay to Fifth Harmony, LFO (Summer Girls, anybody?! #throwback) to Beyonce, My Chemical Romance to Mumford & Sons to Zac Brown Band to Regina Spektor. But we smiled and danced and laughed and sang and cranked it the whole way home, which I pray we continue to do together with Heaven as the true home that awaits us all.

sunset and coldplay“Maybe I’m in the gap between the two trapezes” of summer training and getting to Wayne. This period of time is a comma (no pun intended). It’s not going to be easy to be away from the new friends I made, from having a set time to pray every day, and from the knowledge that everyone around me was experiencing what I was. But if that unity is even a glimpse or a fraction of what we’ll experience in Heaven, it will be so worth the wait.

I pray that you all know true friendship, true unity, and what it means to feel a togetherness that you can hardly put into words. May God be praised!