Thursday, November 21, 2013
Just a few more weeks of extremely hard work, and then I will be able to come home for a full month, my first semester of college completed! It has been a very difficult couple of weeks, and the insanity that comes with the approach of Finals is just around the corner. I can hardly believe that November is almost over!
But, in the midst of this craziness, Christ has been a constant, soothing presence, and during the time of year when my life is going to become the craziest, the Church's splendid liturgical calendar is starting a new year, and the wonderfully peaceful time of joyful preparation for Christ's birth also draws near.
So as you all- my dear, patient readers- mentally prepare yourselves for the craziness ahead as I am, take heart in knowing that the lovely season of Advent will be flowing like a peaceful current throughout the craziness, so let yourselves relax and let God fill your spirits with His stillness and quiet as the joyous exaltation of Christmas draws near.
And resist the urge to listen to that radio Christmas music! Believe me, when Christmas actually comes, you'll be happy you did! :)
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
For the world's events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like the clouds in the lit heavens of life; and you're a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same,- and War's a bloody game....
Have you forgotten yet?
Look down, and swear by the slain of the War that you'll never forget.
Excerpt taken from "Aftermath" by Siegfried Sassoon
Images from Yahoo.
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Tomorrow will mark the end of my first week in college, and the day after completes my first week of adulthood. There are a lot of big changes going on; life is very different now. My family is not around me to support me, or to be a constant comfort. The area is strange and unknown, the terrain totally different from home. I'm responsible for myself and all of my actions- it is up to me alone to make sure I'm out the door, dressed, ready, at class on time, eating well, keeping deadlines, and honoring appointments. It's a whole new world, and it is teaching me so much.
The amount of friends and family who have taken time to drop me a message, e-mail, or card expressing their support and love is incredibly heart-warming, and has led me to realize how truly blessed I am. It is such a comfort to know that even when I'm far away, I will never be forgotten or unloved. But being out on my own has also led my spiritual life to take on a whole new meaning- because for the first time in my life, Jesus is all that I have. In the past, when I had a bad day or needed an extra hug, my family was always there. But now- though I can call anytime- I cannot simply escape the weary world by coming home, I have to continue living in it. This experience, I believe, is going to bring my relationship with Christ to a deeper level- for now I rely completely upon Him.
Thanks to everyone for their patience and support as I wait for my new life to settle down, and start figuring out how I am going to fit everything into my schedule.
May God bless all those also starting new adventures, and may He bless all of you!
Saturday, August 3, 2013
This week's topic is a fun one: "Are there any books, songs, prayers, etc that have helped you during this time of your life? Sharing is caring!". Be sure to check out "Follow and Believe" for the wonderful suggestions of other lovely ladies struggling along the same path.
All right, here we go!
- "Haven't Met You Yet"- Michael Bublè
- I have written about this song repeatedly. It is full of happiness and joyful anticipation as Michael sings about how wonderful it will be when he meets his future wife. It is filled hope and patience: "I might have to wait, I'll never give up, I guess it's half timing, and the other half's luck"- or, as Catholic would call it- Providence.
- "For Love of You"- Audrey Assad
- In this song Audrey sings about how God's love courses through her, and flows like a current throughout her life. This song expresses love for God, and His love's for God, so beautifully it helps me set dreams of romance aside for the proper time, in order to focus on growing in my love for Him.
- "Love Song for a Savior" - Jars of Clay
- This song is beautiful and fills me with the same desire to love as Audrey's song. It paints a picture of the loveliness of a deep relationship with God, and the romance that is found within it, and helps bring excitement and joy to a spiritual life that is struggling.
- Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love -Edward Sri
- This examines friendships, relationships, and the proper way to view the opposite sex in light of Blessed John Paul II's encyclical Love and Responsibility. It is eye-opening and written very well.
- How to Find Your Soulmate without Losing Your Soul- Jason and Crystalina Evert
- Though the first half of this book goes into how to break away from sinful and detrimental lifestyles that many reading this series have not experienced, it is a wonderful resource for those who are stuck in a dark hole and do not know how to climb out, or for people like me how have yet to enter the dating scene, but want to be prepared to do so when the time comes. The couple reaffirms each woman's worth, and teaches her how to value herself, thus saving herself from abuse and heartbreak.
- Any kind of good, spiritual reading is a wonderful idea for this time, when focusing on a relationship with God will help make waiting for Mr. Right a little easier.
- 54-Day Rosary Novena
- Novena to St. Joseph
- Prayers to Mary for purity and patience (these are all covered in-depth in my Not Alone post on prayer)
I cannot think of any movies that help me with waiting patiently or with discerning my vocation. Are there any movies you all have found helped you wait for your future husbands, anticipate him virtuously, or discern your vocation? And what resources have helped you all?
Wednesday, July 31, 2013
As one of the few students who always dreaded group projects because it meant I could not be in charge of every aspect of my assignment, allowing another person to direct anything for me is a struggle. Along the way my problems with stress and anxiety have made it very clear to those around me that though I might have a strong faith, I have much to learn about surrendering and trusting God completely. I remember my Dad challenging me once while I was having yet another breakdown over college decisions, saying that if I was that worried about this that I was trying too hard to figure it out, and that I needed to reexamine my relationship with God. In song lyrics, magazine articles, radio shows, and books I kept hearing about this process of surrendering everything to God, and the more stressed I became, the more the concept of not worrying anymore appealed to me. Finally I asked my spiritual director how I could begin this process, and stop worrying so much. He baffled me by laughing and responding simply with, "Just don't!". Initially I was frustrated. I was hoping for a step-by-step process, a how-to list, a plan. But instead I received an impossible direction- to stop worrying. Thinking that it would be of no use and that I would be able to call him in a month to tell him his advice was meaningless and that he needed to elaborate, I decided to put it to the test, and when I felt myself feeling overly-anxious about something, to simply try to stop. This proved to not only be exceptionally difficult, but also incredibly perfect (irritatingly enough).
Slowly but surely I learned to catch myself in the midst of stressful times and mentally slap myself out of it. I started using phrases like "God-willing" or "I'll have to wait and see". When I was tempted to give up or to convince myself that worrying was just something I did naturally and couldn't be helped, Gary Zimak's reminder that the quest to end anxiety is a daily struggle that must be fought saved me from giving up, and helped me revisit the challenge, though begrudgingly at first. And though I still have far to go in the process, I have found that just stopping and asking myself, "Why are you worrying so much about this and trying so hard to solve this on your own when God already has it handled?", has not only saved me many a headache, but also led me to discover the joy of living in the now. As Christ asks His followers in Matthew's Gospel, "And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? [...] Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day," (Matt 6: 27, 34).
So as these last weeks at home fly by, and I find myself tempted to worry about the future- how I'll survive without my family, how they'll survive without me, how I'll balance everything without being overwhelmed, or how I'm going to fit all my clothes into my tiny dorm closet- the words of Audrey Assad's song, "Everything is Yours", keep coming in my head, and I'm trying very hard to pray along with her, telling God that "If everything is yours, if everything is yours, if everything is yours, I'm letting it go, no- it was never mine to hold."
Though I'm finding that this is much easier said than done, I know that He will help me find a way. And though I don't think I'll ever be entirely free of this cross, I hope that God will lead me to use this struggle as a way to find grace, instead of as a way to fall from it.
May God bless all the fellow worriers out there, and may I leave you with a prayer that my Mom gave me many years ago- a prayer that has continually helped me along the way:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
the courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
Sunday, July 28, 2013
As my last days at home fly by and I try to take in every moment spent with my family before going off to college, this Chesterton quote comes to mind. If only I could learn how to love and appreciate things to that extent before losing them! For my college readers- what helped make leaving easier, and what helped ease the pain of homesickness once you all were away?
Hope everyone is having a blessed Sunday! God bless!
Image from the American Chesterton Society.
Friday, July 26, 2013
This post is a couple weeks behind; for my take on the current topic, "Is it possible to be 'just friends' with a guy", follow the link over to IgnitumToday.
To continue with the insightful "Not Alone" series, being hosted by the lovely ladies over at "Follow and Believe", it is time to answer the "big question". Who am I? Is my identity found in guys, in my surroundings, my friends, my possessions, or in something greater than that? When I am all alone and in silence, what is left- in other words, who am I at the very center of my being?
Though at first glance the topic may not seem to fit the series, in all actuality it is vital to it. If young ladies never take time to define themselves without a guy, waiting on that future husband to help them shape who they are, they will never be strong enough to be in a relationship, not only with guys, but with God as well.
For the first few years of my life, I moved around frequently. And though we've been in the same place for over a decade now, changes in schools and locations within the city have kept me from every really being able to become too attached to one person, object, or group. To be entirely honest, I used to hate it. I did not like change at all, and though at times I would become restless and ready for something different, I would later end up regretting it, whether it was switching schools or trying a new hairstyle. I wanted everything to stay exactly the same all the time, because when things changed, I felt uncomfortable. Thus, I should not have been surprised when I suffered from horrible insecurities during the second half of eighth grade and the first half of ninth. Though nothing tragic had happened, I was bearing the weight of several different crosses, and trying too hard to do so on my own. But just like the classic story of the footprints in the sand, God was carrying me the whole time, and right in the middle of the pain and self-loathing, He reached down through my parents and made it clear to me that I was not alone. He showed me that the times I had been persecuted for my faith and forced to defend it had served their purpose.
I had a very child-like faith up through middle school. I loved God, trusted the Church, and believed what my parents taught me- for the most part- without question. But when an unexpected person began challenging my beliefs, I learned to respect and love the Church in a whole new way. For the first time I had to investigate everything the Church did, why she did it, and while taking all of that in consideration, still stand strong and call the Catholic faith my own. This experience prepared me for life in a way nothing else could, because it made me proud of who my parents had formed me to be, led me to realize how blessed I was to be born into a faith led by Truth Himself, and helped me realize that the Catholic Church was not just some institution that I chose to follow- the Catholic Church was my guiding light, and "Catholic" was not just a word I used to describe my religious affiliation- it was the definition of who I was.
Keeping God at the center, and letting my identity be found in Him, is a daily commitment and struggle. It is not always easy, and- to be entirely honest- is something I'm finding difficult now as I approaching the dreaded/exciting day when I leave my family behind to start college. But I know that when I'm on my own for the first time, experiencing the biggest change of my life, I will need Him to carry me once again- and will once again learn to find myself in Him, before anything else. And then- and only then- will my heart find the peace it is searching for...