Past, Present, & Future: All is HIS

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One of my favorite St. Augustine quotes is:

“Trust the past to the mercy of God, the present to His Love, and the future to His Providence.”

Truly, my life has been akin to a train ride with God working as the conductor! As I trust my everything to Him, I can’t help but to stand in awe and in gratitude of all with which He gifts me!

I mean… Here I am, lying down in a bed halfway across the nation… In the home of a warm, friendly relative… Who just so happens to live in the same city as my long distance boyfriend… Who I met so unexpectedly over a year ago!

Who would have known I would be dating him, and that I would have found out I have such kind family members in the same city of which he lives?

I guess the answer is: God knew!!

Every day, I realize just how much He takes care of me, provides for me, and guides me!

My past is in His hands; He has shed His blood to wash me clean.

My present is in His hands; He has led the way that I may walk His tracks.

And my future is in His hands; He is my Father who will lead me Home!

There has been planning on my part, yes, but also unforeseen travels I would have never anticipated as, say, a college freshman.

My vocation seems to be unraveling bit by bit, turn by turn, in little and big ways. And who is to say it won’t ever go some other way down the track?

All I know is that God’s in charge. It’s His railroad, and He is the conductor! Destination: Heaven. Yes, it’s all God’s Will– “G Dub”– that’ll get us there!

wedding bells

…Alright, so not MY wedding bells!

I recently attended a nuptial Mass, and the first reading was one of my favorites, in which Tobit and Rachel pray before they consummate their marriage (meaning: have intercourse for the first time as husband and wife).

Mid-prayer, Tobit says:

“Thou madest Adam of the slime of the earth, and gavest him Eve for helper. And now, Lord, thou knowest, that not for fleshly lust do I take my sister to wife, but only for the love of posterity, in which thy name may be blessed for ever and ever.” (Tobit 8:8-9)

I absolutely love how manly and how holy Tobit is in his prayer! Before he sleeps with his bride, he makes sure his intentions are to love her and not to use her. And he invokes the Lord. How utterly attractive!

How many men sleep with even their brides with lust still in their hearts?

And how many men forget that sex involves God?

Most men… and most women, too.

Sex is a gift from God, and it reflects His Triune nature (constant communion and gifts of Divine Persons being exchanged!) and is A FORETASTE OF HEAVEN!

THE “ONE”: The Dress, That Is!
(Of course, my womanly diversion…)

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I think it’s beautiful how women adorn themselves in all white on their wedding day as a sign of their purity (and worry not: recommitted purity works, too) being offered to their husbands.

In the same vein, at the wedding I attended the bride wore a modest wedding dress. It made me think more about how, if I get married one day, God willingly, I would love to have a super modest wedding dress!

By wearing not only a white but also a very modest wedding dress, I think that a woman can tell her groom, sans words, that her feminine mystery, body and soul, is his and his alone (well, besides God’s and hers, of course!). And what better day to do that than their wedding day, when he vows to be like Christ to her for the rest of his entire life on earth?!

Forget the plunging neckline and bare back of risqué wedding dresses.

Modest wedding dresses that make a woman glow like Mother Mary– now those are beautiful.

minimalism

In Luke 9:3, Jesus says: “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics.”

This makes me think of my journey on earth as a missionary of Christ. I want to be able to take only what I have on my back, and nothing more, as I traverse this land as an alien, walking towards my destination: Home, Heaven with God.

Tonight I’m going through my belongings and sorting out what I do not need. I am a highly sentimental person and save a lot of things including nearly every letter anyone has ever written me.

I recently read “If you cannot get rid of your possessions, you do not possess them–they possess you.”

It’s inspiring.

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I just want a simple life: serving God, knowing my joy is not in things, but in loving Him and bringing His love to others.

purpose. strength. endurance: to be an Olympian in LIFE

(c) Twitter/McKayla Maroney

the I n s p i r a t i o n

Watching the Olympics inspired me to the depth of my heart. As I watched the Olympians compete (hey, even if it wasn’t in real time!), it’s as if I could  feel their pulsing purpose, strength, and endurance emanate all the way from London, England, straight to Orange County, California.

These are quite literally our world-class athletes, and I ponder their simply superhuman drive to excel in their athletic art. Yes, in the corners of the mind of every athlete, I can only imagine that he or she truly views his or her sport as an art: with all of its techniques, intricacies, and secrets to master. With a universe of deep beauty hidden within.

I can also only imagine how alive an Olympian must feel when he or she competes: 110% in the moment, with nothing else mattering… swimming and drowning in that beauty which they have mastered: that universe which they have been trained to navigate, as swiftly as a dolphin playing in what it perceives to be its own ocean.

The C h a l l e n g e

The world teaches us: “No matter the difficult circumstances in life, a champion will rise to the occasion and triumph.” However, I’d like to re-word that to this:

Precisely BECAUSE of the difficult circumstances in life, a champion WILL rise to the occasion and triumph!

Champions in the making don’t ever see difficult circumstances as obstacles; champions in the making see difficult circumstances as mere challenges that will be overcome. It’s trite, but it’s true!

“Oh, so the pool is now partially solidified because someone filled it with JELL-O bags?

I’ll use my forceps a bit harder, and I’ll have to keep my left foot really controlled during that last lap.

I’ll finish five minutes later than anticipated.

I got this.”

Now THAT’S what an Olympian would think.

(NOT: How unfair! Some jerk put Jell-O in the pool! I’ll somehow swim five times as hard now. And probably place in like, the top 10.)

“CHALLENGES, not Obstacles”: This winning mentality will hold as just that– a winning way to think– forever!

Just look at the world around you. So many souls have fought, nail and tooth, for success– and henceforth achieved it, whether or not that purpose was even noble.

But do you even KNOW the beauty of being a son or a daughter of GOD?!! 

You are called to something higher.

You are called to something Divine!!!

THE CALL

Olympians not only know who they are and what they were made to do; they are confident in who they are and what they were made to do. They don’t doubt.

Olympians thrive living out their purpose. They day in and day out hone their strength. And they endure until the finish line, only stopping after they have given it their all.

No matter if a medal will adorn them at the end, Olympians know that to have persevered every moment til the end is enough.

Did you know that YOU are intended to be an athlete of God— to run your race on earth for Him and all of His glory?

Did you know that YOU have a crown of glory awaiting you, no doubt, at the end?!

I’M “CALLED”?! SAY WHAT?!

Yes, when you slap on your ridiculously neon running shoes, know that truly, that silly looking pair of sneakers was designed just for you, and only for you, by the Creator of the Universe.

Not one other soul can ever fill your shoes. You have a beautiful purpose on this earth that only you can fulfill. A course that only you can run.

And what will this purpose entail? It will encompass serving the least of your brothers and sisters. Its main purpose will be loving with Christ’s love and radiating Christ’s joy in whatever you do, whether directly or indirectly, in your tiniest and in your grandest of adventures!

And along the way, you will help Him to save souls. A lot of times, you will not know it, and you will not know who. That is, you will not know who you touch!

But God will work through you as you run. He will give you strength. He will give you endurance. And He will crown you, His beloved son or daughter, a SAINT, once you cross that victory line at the end of your life… once you are at Home with Him in Heaven!

2 Timothy 4:7-9 reads:

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid upon me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved His appearing.”

You may not know it, but Jesus thirsts for souls through you. Do you run this race on earth thirsting for souls as well?

Do you know your purpose? Do you know your Strength? Do you know Who can help you to endure?

I don’t know about you, but I do.

JESUS. JESUS. And JESUS.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as that to be a triumphant Olympian in this thing called LIFE.

You know your destiny. You’re called to run, alive in Jesus. You’re called to be crowned a saint at the finish line.

So go put on those ridiculously neon sneakers and run this race called LIFE!

THOMAS: OUR HERO

Sometimes, a soul’s race on this earth is much shorter than is that of others. My little friend Thomas, pictured above, died at the age of 9 after courageously battling aggressive cancer.

Yet Thomas still ran his course– he raced hard till the end! His life had purpose, God gave Him strength, and boy, did he endure. As the t-shirts we wore when we walked in his memory this year say… “THE LEGEND LIVES ON!”

2 Timothy 4:7-9 were the first words that came to mind when I learned of Thomas’s passing that summer of 2009. And it is no wonder.

I have no doubt that Thomas has been crowned a saint. As far as I am concerned, he will never die.  God had a plan for him, and that plan is still being lived out today.

God has a plan for you.

Carpe diem. Carpe noctem.

Carpe vita.

making SENSE of dating/courtship!

(c) foryourmarriage

“For Your Marriage” is an initiative by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to help strengthen marriages and families. #WhootWhoot #heckYEAH #HeavensYES

(Yes, that’s how nerdily PASSIONATE I am about strengthening the most simple cell of human society: the family. *cough* JP2! *cough*)

Anyway, today’s “Daily Marriage Tip” is this:

“When all else fails, WAIT. When things aren’t going well in your marriage – and there are bound to be those days – give it time. Sometimes we need to just separate, cool off, sleep on it and then come back with more positive feelings.”

It seems so simple, so commonsensical, but… now don’t laugh…

#ThisSpeaksToMe

Why? Because I’m pretty sure I am a good illustration of the “women are more emotional than men” theory. Yep, to a tee.

Being in my first committed dating relationship– entered upon at a ripe age of 25 years!–I’ve been learning SO MUCH about how true love has nothing to do with #emotion, and everything to do with #decision.

Why am I in a courtship with my boyfriend?

THE (BEAUTIFUL) REASON

Because I have decided that I want to discern whether or not we are called to marriage together; and, moreover, I have decided that I want to help him to grow in holiness in the process.

Yep, you got it! MISSION: HOLINESS. Holiness is our shared objective! #cueEPICmusic (OK, OK, I’ll lay off on the hashtags now!)

What about happiness, you ask? The one way that we can give a soul everlasting happiness is by helping him/her to SEE God and by bringing him/her closer TO God (think: h o l i n e s s). This should be our mission in dating/courtship and marriage. Now, how beautiful is that?!

(Side note not to be taken lightly: Marriage is a demanding vocation that is to be taken just as seriously as religious life. Marriage VOWS are as SERIOUS as that FINAL vow that a sister / brother / nun / priest / etc. makes with GOD! To be a layperson is not to cop out on your call to holiness. If you’re called to marriage, you VOW to bring your spouse and your children to HEAVEN. God’s taking your promise seriously and waiting for their souls– and yours– in Heaven!! But anyway, I digresss… ;-))

THE (DARING) RISK

Sometimes, however, it’s hard to remember that the ultimate mission of a relationship is holiness– not happiness!– when we feel hurt.

And if we don’t communicate that hurt to one another and discuss it, it eventually morphs into anger, resentment, and pride. #Yikes! (OK, last hashtag, I swear!)

What do I really admire about my boyfriend, you ask? I admire how he always wants to talk about hurt before it turns into anger, resentment, and pride. (He’s not a Marriage and Family Therapist, but I sometimes think that he should be!)

And I truly appreciate my boyfriend’s more “manly” logical side— something that I think I, as a woman, throw out the window sometimes when my emotions get the best of me. If I seem hurt, these are always my boyfriend’s first words (or some variation of them): “Let’s talk about it.” How manly is that?! (I thank the LORD for gender complementarity.)

THE (EPIC) REALITY

As my boyfriend and I approach our one year anniversary of “officially” dating/courting, I can conclude a few things.

ONE] That crazy cosmic emotional connection you will feel, often likeable to what you see in the movies, is of infinite value and awesome, but it is still NOT enough for two people to “be in love” forever. If all one can think about is, “How happy can this person make me?”, he/she is setting the relationship up for disaster! You need a much stronger foundation to hold you together: the Holy Spirit. And you need a much stronger purpose for being together: bringing one another to the LORD! “How can I make him/her happy? How can I help him/her to be holy?” we should ask, and put our answers into loving action.

TWO] Love requires epic virtue. The bottom line: love demands selflessness and purity of heart. Think: Christ dying to Himself, that you may have life. That is how you are called to love your significant other, even when you feel like they are crucifying you. Oftentimes, you have to bite your tongue through misunderstandings, smile among tears, forgive, and forget.

But remember: the first thing you have to do before you can forgive and forget? TALK. Listen, validate, express yourself kindly (not self righteously), and compromise! In that order. 🙂

THREE] The #1 ingredient for love is PATIENCE. That @foryourmarriage “Daily Marriage Tip” was totally correct when it offered that one caveat: “WAIT.” Truly Christ-centered relationships are fueled by patience. Yes, even Saint Paul mentions it right off the bat in his letter to the Corinthians!

“[4] Charity is patient, is kind: charity envieth not, dealeth not perversely; is not puffed up; [5] Is not ambitious, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh no evil; [6] Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth; [7] Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. [8] Charity never falleth away: whether prophecies shall be made void, or tongues shall cease, or knowledge shall be destroyed.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-7, Douay Rheims)

With its downs as well as its ups, dating/courtship has been a wild ride so far… and an equally beautiful one! And no, I wouldn’t trade those “downs” for anything, because truly, they have strengthened my relationship with my boyfriend. What can I conclude about this “wild ride”? Simply stated…

Love is HARD. Love is SACRIFICE. And love is AMAZING, truly, as it is inherently miraculous, for we are only capable of loving because He first loved us! (1 John 4:19.) Amen. Alleluia!