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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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His smile alongside my fears

Looked at a candid picture of my son and me today. He looks terrified in the pic. It made me laugh out loud, over and over! It struck me as so funny because I found the pic within a whole reel of others where he looks perfectly happy. And there I am, by his side, in all of them, smiling, even in the one in which he looks absolutely terrified!

I wondered: Is this how Jesus is with me? No matter what I am going through… calmly smiling? When I’m terrified– like my son is in the picture– is Jesus giving that look of fright, too? Or is He smiling, peacefully smiling like I am smiling in the picture– because He knows the “happy ending” of the story?

I’d like to think Jesus is somehow mysteriously doing the former, empathizing with me, as well as the latter: HOPING for me akd KNOWING i will get through it!

Yoi see, I like crosses because they are great reminders of who Christ is. But I LOVE crucifixes because, to me, they are great reminders of what Christ did for me. Jesus died for me, He suffered for me, because He knew that in my suffering, I would look to Him and ask: *Do You understand, my LORD and my God? Do You know what it is like?”

He answers, “Yes, my child. I do know. Because I did this for you. To give you life, LIFE abundantly.”

Yer aside from the suffering image of Our Savior, I do love that thought of Him smiling as I look to Him whilst I am gripped by my deepest fears. And while I tremble, while I can barely get out a word, He’s not just smiling; He’s also holding me; He’s squeezing my hand; He’s whispering, “Here I am… I am with you… lean into me… feel me simply hold you… let me carry you.”

“There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.” 1 John 4:18 

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 worshipping!!

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. 

love and soulmate ponderings

At my  parents’ house on vacation, and I felt like reading tonight. Perused my old bookshelf and the huge variety of novels, textbooks, etc. Of course, of the many varied options, I eventually chose a book called Sacred Marriage by Gary Thomas to read before hitting the hay.

Made me introspect. Why did I get a master’s in clinical psychology with an emphasis in marriage and family therapy? Why do I like love stories and family dramas over action movies?

I think at the core of my heart, I am a hopeful romantic. One who hopes that I can find true happiness in love and that others can, too. And not just love in/for/from humans… But love in/for/from God, who I believe to be Love Himself, and the source of all love.

The tagline of the book is: “What if God designed marriage to make us holy more than to make us happy?”

Now, that’s a thought. As someone who believes in soulmates, I’m wondering how the book might change my perspective on the great and holy sacrament of marriage. To be continued!

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#familygoals & love languages

Went out to the shops today before the (secular, at least) “holiday season” is over. Stumbled upon these signs– a few gems I wanted to remember.

That middle phrase totally made me laugh thinking about my mom, who has been a busy bee after she’s retired. And what’s humbling is that she’s taken her role as “mom” and “grandmother” to a whole new level now that she’s retired.

The other two phrases were what touched me most, however: “Home is where we laugh the most and are loved the best” & “When in doubt, hug it out.”

The former? Total #familygoals! How beautiful: to make our home the place where we laugh the most… and are loved the BEST.. no matter what.

I want JOY and ACCEPTANCE  to triumph in our domestic church, in all seasons of life– as individuals and as a family.

The latter? Totally my modus operandi. My primary “love language” (a la Gary Chapman’s “five love languages”)  is physical touch.

I honestly believe God gave us our physical bodies not only to be His hands and His feet to others, but also to be His arms, His voice, His heart.

I feel so blessed that in my dear husband, I meet Christ daily, particularly in his hugs. I hope I can be the same to him, to our son, and to others!

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