I wanna hold your hand

On our half-hour car ride back home from Sunday Mass, our little boy got a little fussy… a little whiny… a little inconsolable.

“Mama… Mama… Mama…,” it all started.

Apparently, being buckled into a restraint is the worst feeling for a two-year-old. Especially after a long, napless (God forbid!) day.

“Maaaa-maaaaa?” Long pause. “Maaa-maaaaa?” Long pause. “Maaaa-maaaa?” Long pause.

I responded every time with a calm repetition of his name, hoping that my tone signaled to him: “I know, I know. Yes, I pity you, my little baby. I know something’s wrong.”

Apparently, that didn’t work for my two-year-old.

The sheer desperation quickly avalanched.

“Maaaaa…. maaaaa. Maaaaaa…. maaaaa.” His normally joy-filled voice turned into the bleating of a helpless little lamb.

My husband asked him to ‘use his words.’

I asked him how he felt.

And in the back of my  mind, this: C’mon! He barely talks. He has no idea what we’re even asking! We have no idea why he’s so miserable!

So I tried to validate how I thought he felt then console him accordingly.

Nope, didn’t work.

And then it dawned on me: Mama, you have no idea. Mama, just hold his hand.

So I did it. I held his little hand.

pexels-photo-27118

I turned halfway around from my shotgun seat and twisted my body into the most awkwardly contorted position. I dangled my hand above his car seat handlebar and grabbed one of those little hands. And I squeezed and stroked that tiny little hand lovingly whilst it laid in mine. 

Then the cutest thing happened. My son squeezed back with his five tiny little fingers. I felt tension, and then release, not just physical, but spiritual.

And a smile spread across my son’s little face– smack dab between his two little cheeks. 

My son calmed. His mama was holding his hand. I was there. I cared how he was feeling, even though I didn’t understand. 

He was not silent for long, unfortunately. (Toddlers will get ya like that!)

Soon, he went right back to bleating “mama” while holding my hand the whole car ride home. But there was less desperation in his voice. And there seemed to be less agony in his little body (and his already big, big soul at age two).

I continued to hold his hand anyway. I wanted to show him my unwavering love. Even when he was (innocently and unintentionally) being mighty annoying.

This all made me reflect upon Christ’s presence in my life, and my spiritual mother Mary’s presence in my life. Christ and my Mama Mary: always willing to hold my hand, especially when I am afraid. They so ardently want my desperation and agony to turn to calm. They so deeply desire that I cast my anxiety aside and rest in them, especially in my sufferings.

So many days and sleepless nights, I just lack that childlike faith to hold out my hand! While even an earthly toddler knows the benefits of holding his mother’s hand, I sometimes lack the logic of a grown adult to do the same to my Lord and to my spiritual mother. Yet they are always there, wanting me to take their hand, to squeeze their hand back: in times of fear and anxiety, in times of sorrow, in times of confidence and calm, in times of joy, in the painstakingly ordinaries and the very banalities of life! Always.

O ye of little faith! Won’t you just hold my hand? I hope we all live lives of wonder, but I hope that the one thing that we will never wonder is how truly loved by God (and his Mama) we are. None of us are orphans. All of us are wanted. If not by earthly people then by God and Mama Mary above. That unconditional love is truly a wondrous marvel in and of itself.

and O! Your flesh and blood

“Jesus, I am not worthy. I am a broken (wo)man. But only say the word and I shall be healed again”!

I cannot WAIT to show this to my Confirmation students tomorrow morning.

What beauty there is in the Eucharist! What joy, what strength! For in the Body and the Blood of Jesus Christ therein lies the beginning and the end of every human creature.

Every bit of his precious flesh, every drop of his precious blood– all of this man-made-God Jesus’s soul– given up for me on Calvary AND simultaneously forever in the Eucharistic sacrifice!

This is the food that will heal my generation.

This is is the drink that will create a revolution of peace, of love in the world.

He is our answer.

#EucharisticGeneration

Amen.

faithful friends

My husband and I love the Book of Sirach in the Sacred Scripture so much that we call Sirach “our man Sirach”! Recently, I felt led by the Holy Spirit to meditate upon this verse from Sirach– which was my favorite Bible verse in my middle school days:

“Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter;
whoever finds one finds a treasure.

Faithful friends are beyond price,
no amount can balance their worth.

Faithful friends are life-saving medicine;
those who fear God will find them.

Those who fear the Lord enjoy stable friendship,
for as they are, so will their neighbors be”

–Sirach 6:14-17

Fast forward to now, when I’ve lived the length of that middle school life-span two times over, and I still value friendship as a gift of infinite worth.

Friends shape you and they help you to become the “best version of yourself” (a la Matthew Kelly).  As Christians, we are made to sharpen one another like “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). So often, spiritual growth is not solitary, but together, in fellowship. In my life, this means that spiritual growth occurs largely with my spouse or friends and alongside friends old and new. Deeper than that, we are made by God to be shelters to one another, in good times and in bad (Sirach 6:14).

As friends, we are called to sharpen one another into saints– and so often, this means being figurative “homes” to our friends: to hold their hearts, to value their lives and their dignity, to remind them of their worth, and vice versa. To “tell them like it is” (whether they like it or not) and to just hold them and to be gentle with them (if that need that). 

Friendship, in essence, is a shared sacred space, a shared duty, to honor and to love the other with their best interest at heart.

So may we journey together. May we run in this life side by side, towards our singular destination: Heaven.

we’re all a family

It’s the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. What always strikes me as pure crazy is that “Jane Roe” of Roe v. Wade is a very active member of the pro-life movement now. In fact, it’s been her life’s mission for the last few decades to reverse the ruling of that trial: the ruling that made abortion legal.

12438973_10153733422435485_1834375391280982019_n

I recently came across this beautiful image today, and in light of the Roe v. Was anniversary, I couldn’t help but think the following…

Even if a child is unwanted, he or she belongs to the family of humanity, of humankind. SOMEONE will want him or her. SOMEONE will love him or her. How is it possible that not one soul of billions will? So many families look to adopt babiesz are aching to love for and care for such an innocent soul. God has created every potentially to-be-aborted person for a PURPOSE and a REASON: to be LOVED. And yes, no matter the circumstance(s) under which his or her little body (and soul!) came into the world (such as in a happy marriage versus in a horrific rape).

During college, I had one quote by the side of my bed. It was said by Mother Teresa:

How can one say that there are too many children? That is like saying that there are too many flowers.

motherteresa3

We’re all humans. We’re all humans together. We’re all loved. We all have beautiful souls. Not just collectively in the billions, but individually by God, on a one-on-one basis. After all, He created each one of our souls, and He did so in pure love. 

God does not see us as just a field of beautiful flowers. He creates a complex and beautiful universe that comprises every human being’s respective soul. That is how intimately God loves us. 

Can you believe that YOU are so loved by God, that even if you came into this world from a violent crime such as rape, it matters NOTHING and reflects NOTHING about who you are, how valuable you are, and how loved you are? Nothing.

You are a beautiful child, with an interior unvierse all your own, and you have every right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

We are the human family, and every one of us is called to be our brother’s keeper. It’s charity and it’s solidarity. These are the heights to which we are called.

 

quoth the Beatles…

fb_img_1452066921385.jpg

Came across this and thought it was cute and clever. It made think about how in human love we often calculate, yet how God in his love does not calculate. In fact, his Son, love and mercy incarnate, sacrifices his whole life without counting the cost. He would have done so even if rejected by all.

I have always been drawn to the concept of the New Evangelization. It is the concept of bringing the Gospel– and a “culture of life”– to a world who has heard the good news, possibly claims to live in it, but in actuality still remains untransformed by it. A huge part of the New Evangelization is spreading a deep and real love for the teachings of the Church.

Without love and mercy, however, these teachings fall flat– and the Truth remains dead in pharasical judgement.

On the contrary, though, with love and mercy, these teachings incite passionate fire– and the Truth comes alive through compassion!

Now, that latter thought is what really excites me and gets me up outta bed every single morning!

Being married has really helped me to see how Jesus is love and mercy himself.

My husband shows me this side of Jesus, both in his actions and deep love for me and also with my his pure, selfless, and genuine love and care for others.

Moreover, when my husband and I do not get along, or when we are downright irritating and upsetting one another, I am called not just to “be nice” or to “be a respectful wife,” but to be Love and Mercy Himself: to be Christ to my husband. Now THAT is a true vocation, a true “calling,” as vocation iw defined. It is a humbling and hard mission, but transforming indeed!

In this Jubilee Year of Mercy (as Pope Francis has dedicated), I hope to grow in the spirit and the letter of love and mercy…. all in Jesus’s name and in the name of the New Evangelization. And All for Jesus, He who is Love and Mercy Himself.

I pray that my roles as wife, mother, family member, friend, counselor, teacher, and stranger are strengthened as I attempt to be a more intentional disciple of Our LORD. Not for my own reward, but because God’s love is too good to pass on and not to want tk grow in– and because it is to awesome (gross understatement) not to want to share with everyone I meet.

 

so bring on the thunder

This afternoon my flight was diverted to another city due to thunderstorms. Watching them in the sky as I flew in the same level of atmosphere was so surreal! Made me really think about how powerless I am against the elements.

thunder

Whenever I fly, I am filled with this great awe for how beautiful this planet is in all its terrain, weather, and seasons. O so trite but o so true. And whenever I fly, I feel like the skies and the elements collaboratively become this cosmic equalizer over the people riding the plane that I am on. Why? Because all passengers on my plane and I have our lives literally in the hands of the same pilot. All strangers to one another, we are all simply the same anonymous face to one another. And all of us are placing our lives in the hands of one person. 

Different paths in life, but for a brief moment, one shared journey, one shared destination, even id for just one frame in our respective lives.

Yet isn’t this just a microcosmic model of the macrocosmic universe, of our respective “real lives” indeed?

We share this frail human condition, and the common denominator is that we literally are all in it together. 

Flights and strangers and placing my life in the hands of one person always make me think: 

Who am I in this beautiful mess of humanity? What do I bring to the world? Who has God made me to be in the bigger picture and the universal story? Who will I be when I walk off that plane and back into “real life”?

good things running wild: the invitation & the challenge

This G.K. Chesterton quote sums up the completion of my twenties: “And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”

As a mother, I have to teach my 10-month-old son what is good/bad, right/wrong, safe/unsafe, etc. For example, I often say (and at times scream) “No!” to him when he places small or dirty objects in his mouth (he’s teething). Why? Because I love my son dearly and deeply– and I also love my son pragmatically. I care for him and I know what will hurt him, so I call him out on it.

In a similar way, God teaches us what is good/bad, right/wrong, safe/unsafe, etc…. for our spirits, for our souls. Not because God wants us to be tied down in some boring, repressed manner. On the contrary, God wants us to be set free into an exciting, abundantly fulfilling life!

As a Catholic twenty-something, I was very thirsty to know “why?,” particularly in regards to moral issues. A lot of this questioning, exploring, and discovering was my way of challenging that “rule and order” that the majority of my highly secular world deemed superfluous, narrow, closed-mind, old fashion, “too traditional” and/or “too conservative”… and even dangerous to humanity.

Yet in my personal experience, Catholicism, I found, was none of the above. Yes, it had a “rule and order,” but behind that all was God’s great LOVE for me and all of His children.

God wants the best for us, and THAT is why the “rule and order” even exists. Yes, God loves us so much that He sent His only son, Jesus, to die for us and to show us the way, the truth, and the life– not just a “rule and order,” but as a PERSON who will set us free. (His name is Jesus.)

My religion “lived out” became much more than simply  a set of lived morals. As Chesterton also put it, my religion started to blossom into a “love affair.”

This is how I want to worship in my thirties: with a whole heart. One that is passionate and compassionate. A heart that is on fire for God and for others in His name.

“God, how can I love you more? How can I love others more? How can I love myself more, when I feel I am unworthy of love?” I hope to ask myself these questions more daily, so that I can mature more in my faith. I may have “sprung up” in my twenties, so to speak. But during my thirties, perhaps I should focus on growing my roots in the faith.

I so desire “good things to run wild” not only in my life, but in the lives of everyone that I know and love, and in the lives of every person that I meet. The challenge awaits.

tumblr_nuq7uqSHvb1qchgieo1_500

we all need that bowl

My son wakes up in the morning just ready for anything. He’s all smiles and full of energy. Even when my energy is low, it’s hard not to wake up just to soak up his inner sunshine. Oh, to be a kid (baby) again!

This morning in particular, while playing with my son on the bed, I put this clear plastic bowl atop my son’s head in a teasing manner. He was immediately all smiles and a little giggle machine!

I thought to myself: how simple. A clear plastic bowl, and it’s made his whole day. Don’t we all need that “bowl” in our life? That one thing we look forward to, rain or shine? That thing that will set us on the right foot for the day, or that will help ease our wound-up soul after along day?

Though I come off as bubbly, I would have to say that I always have this inner dialogue in my mind that is pretty, well, serious. It’s a voice that tells me “you need to do a, b, c… or you’re not good enough” or “you need to be x, y, z… or you’re not good enough.”

My husband has gently told me time and time again that I “just need to relax” and “need to take it slow.” God did, after all, create the Sabbath for a couple reasons: to worship and to rest…. to recreate… so He could re-create us and make us feel new again!

Having a child– and marrying a man who knows how to “take it easy” and be the biggest goofball sometimes– truly has helped me again to see LIFE with eyes of wonder.

What joy it has been as I have tried to “be a kid again” and tried to find that zest in life.

Yes, I find that I am a better wife, mother, and person in general when I don’t take myself so seriously and indulge in those little “bowl on my head” moments in life.

20160106_095839.jpg

 

 

now that’s intimate

Sometimes, I think about how vastly technology has changed the human experience. It’s made things “easier” in so many ways. Communication, for instance. But has the quality of communicating been degraded?

I feel that text messages cannot stand in lieu of heart-to-heart phone calls. And phone calls and “Skype dates” cannot indefinitely replace in-person bonding (although they are great for when it’s not possible to be physically together).

But sometimes, you need to be in a person’s arms; you need to be wrapped in their warmth.

Sometimes, you need to see a person’s lips move while they convey their advice to you– then touch your hand when you cry.

Sometimes, you gotta pass an hour at a cafe, or half a day at a mall, or a whole day at home with a friend, or a family member, or your spouse.

This pondering about how our way of relating has been made more superficial via technology (in some ways, at least) made me think of Our LORD in the ever beautiful Eucharist. Our LORD who is never superficial and always soul-deep!

The Eucharist is always real. Always in person. Always (Jesus’s!) flesh and blood. 

We as humans will never EVER be able to replace the live, in-person Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with some “tele-Mass” or ‘app easy’ way of worshing!!

In the Mass at Communion, God is in you, flesh and blood, soul and spirit… not just staring down at you from the Heavens, not just in your beloved spouse or children… but really, literally, physically and metaphysically, INSIDE you!

It’s SO intimate. It’s SO personal. That is, Jesus’s love for you and how He expresses it in the Mass. Social media can’t water His holy sacrifice down!

God invites us to his house, and he calls us to this body/soul UNION when we visit Him. We need Him and Our hearts were made for His! Our hearts ache for His heart, His heart aches for our heart. And in the Eucharist we are ONE with Our Lord. Not just figuratively but literally, body and soul. 

O my. Now that’s intimate. 

confessions of a new mom

“Today… was officially… the WORST day EVER!” I exclaimed after a long day of what seemed like hour upon hour of a fussy, overactive, nap-fighting, teething baby.

I knew I was exaggerating. I knew I was being a drama queen.

But sometimes, that’s the best therapy (for me, at least): to speak in fourth grade level hyperbole. To let that frustration out like a bang.

“And guess what? It was also the BEST day EVER… because we have HIM [our son]!” Matt chimed in.

I smiled. He spoke truth.

“You’re right… you’re SO right.” I agreed.

Recently, I have found myself an ungrateful mother. I may be a saint in the making, but I am no living saint now! (Ha, ha, ha!)

“God, you say you know how many hairs I have on my head? Well, I want to pull out ALL of them right now!” I kept thinking today.

It’s amazing how much of “my life” I have felt that I have “lost” since giving birth to my son. Career plans? What career? Hobbies? What hobbies? Free time? Ha! Ha, ha, ha!

But my husband is right.  When we got married, we vowed that our marriage would be ,”free, total, faithful, and FRUITFUL.” And God sure did deliver (fast!) on that fourth “f” (when he blessed us with the FRUIT of our LOVE: our dear son)!

We said “yes” to being free, total, faithful, and fruitful… we said “yes” to LIFE. Which is actually quite funny. Because while that YES meant gaining the CUTEST, most LIFE-filled baby in our arms, it also meant LOSING *our* lives as we knew them! It is our dear son’s life over ours now. We are called to LOVE by laying down our LIFE for his.

Yet in the end, it’s like a 1,000,000,000^infinity return on LIFE– just a different kind of life. One that is full of suffering, sacrifice, and selflessness. Yet it is precisely that life, I’ve found, that grows… that grows me and my husband as a woman and a man, respectively– and that, hopefully, will make the world a better place one day: via passing on that spirit of sacrificial Jesus-like love to our dear son.

20150928_151313

He ended up tryin’ to eat my Confirmation teaching materials today! This boy’s on the move, and boy is he fast now!