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.

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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.

she was everything to Him: a reflection on motherhood

When I was driving my cousin around town (and while my mom was babysitting my son),  I told my cousin that it couldn’t be long because I was basically my son’s source of food since I am nursing him. I then jokingly mumbled a bunch of other roles that I play for my son: teacher, console-r and soother, playmate, snuggle buddy, psychologist (to figure out what all those cries mean, of course!).

And I realized: Wow. I am everything to my son.

It made me think: Mother Mary must’ve been everything to Jesus. Yes, at least for a time, she was everything to Him.

I further pondered how, just how, my mission “to change the world with the grace of God” is indeed being lived out in my “hidden life” as a mother.

How? Well, MY heart is being changed by God’s grace day by day, moment by moment. So technically, isn’t the world changing? God is changing me through tiny little him (my son) by showing me who He (my God) is.

In fact, God’s grace is the only thing that is sustaining me right now!

Yes, my mission is feeding my son, burping him, changing his diaper, keeping the house clean, and maybe, possibly cooking– just getting through the day.

My mission is praying fervently that my baby takes his naps– and doesn’t cry from having gas!

My mission is working on my marriage 110% now more than ever, because the happiness and holiness of my son depends on my husband and I being an “us.” My husband and I are to make a very important foundation, which itself must be rooted in Christ.

Yes, this mission is motherhood. And motherhood is changing me through the grace of Christ.

Motherhood is teaching me patience… gentleness… to love the little things. To love this tiny person’s personhood.

To stay strong.

To have Faith.

Many days, motherhood doesn’t seem glamorous at all. Spit up everywhere. Poopy diaper blowouts. Your son pulling all of your hairs out. Oh, and not getting a bite to eat for a while (that one’s tough on me!).

But by the grace of God, what could be more noble? 🙂

I found the secret!! yes, I did!

By God (literally), I think I have found it!

The secret to my faith as a daughter, both a “princess” and a “handmaiden,” of Our LORD.

The secret to my life as a pilgrim on this earth. (I have a restless soul, always wandering, even when standing still.)

The secret to my love, for my boyfriend, for my family, for my friends, for strangers, for my LORD.

And what is that secret?

To always remember this key: less of me, more of JESUS… and more of any other person before me made in His Image and Likeness!

And less, less… less of me.

John 3:30 reads: “He [Jesus Christ] must increase, but I must decrease.”

We’ve all heard it before, but just to reiterate: J-esus, o-thers, y-ourself… in that order… now that’s real “joy” for the journey. 🙂

ImageIf I am truly to become a saint one day, yes, I must let “God be the author” of my life.

Yet I must also remember that my life is a love story with JESUS. And, as per the image above, my love story with my LORD and my God will not start with “once upon a time” and end with “happily ever after” without  adversity in the great big middle!

Yet in adversity, with Jesus as our hope, we have Joy personified…

Less of ourselves, more of Him. 😉

my crew: the God Squad

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“The Communion of Saints” (c) John Nava/The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels

“But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Matthew 6:33

You become who you are around.

I was blessed to make friends filled with the light of Christ in middle school (and beyond). I saw a genuine goodness in my friends; they were different from my friends who just seemed like they wanted to be “popular.” I saw my new friends… living for a meaning and a purpose outside of the realm of self.

Moreover, even at such a young age, many of my friends lived as young disciples of Christ. I wanted that joy and peace in my heart, too! I soon saw that it stemmed from selflessness, not selfishness.

Fast forward two and a half decades later, and I’d like to say that my “crew” now consists of six of my (many) cousins, ages 18 to 27. I suppose we are the cousins closest in age and that’s why we kind of formed our own group. Anyway… just a confession… I like to think of this “crew” as “the God Squad.”

I honestly would like to say that none of my cousin’s or my parents “forced” religion onto us (my own dad: agnostic); but I do think we were all lead to God by God in various ways. Yes, our parents helped us to be lead to Him (and so did our Rosary-praying Lola grandma!) by taking us to church, praying with us, showing us a good example of faithfulness, etc.

But really, all I can do is smile huge and think about how God planned this all from the very beginning– how God planned each and every one of us’s personal journeys to Him on our own timetable! It just so happens that now, at least today, we all seem to be journeying into life together…. united in Him.

Back then, we bonded over Big Foot Pizza and rollerblades. Who would have known our deepest bond… would turn into Christ?

My cousins in this “God squad” all feel like my best friends, even if we don’t always keep up with each other on a daily basis.

I really believe that you become who you are around. I am so blessed to be surrounded by my “crew”– this “God squad.” They don’t even know that this is what I call them in my mind (and have been for a couple years now).

My cousins are Kingdom seekers. Just like Matthew 6:33 says, they seek first God’s Kingdom. Then they try to build. And they believe that God will provide so long as they first seek Him. I’ve seen my cousin crew members do  amazing things in their lives so far. My cousins inspire me to pick up my cross, too– and to live for God and for others in His name.

Moreover, my cousins also teach me that Faith and grace cannot be earned. It can be prayed for. But it is freely given by God; Faith and grace are our gifts from Him. I have merely seen my cousins say “yes” to receiving and to using those gifts. And I pray moment by moment that I can do the same.

Who are you around most of the time? Make sure you surround yourself with people who have virtues you would like to emulate. Chances are you’ll likely rub off on one another, in both the good and the not-so-admirable.

change in your life? remember: all things are passing

“Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things.
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.”

Saint Teresa of Avila

Being a disciple of Christ can feel so uncertain at times. The only certain thing? That God never changes.

He never changes in His love for you.

He never changes in His plans for you.

“Vocation,” according to the Online Etymology Dictionary: vocation (n.) early 15c., “spiritual calling,” from Latin vocationem (nominative vocatio), literally “a calling,” from vocatus “called,” pp. of vocare “to call” (see voice) …. [continued].

At this time in my life, I feel that God really wants me to listen to His voice, to listen to His calling out to me. I feel that He keeps calling out to me in different ways, and tellng me to follow Him somewhere and to do something that I didn’t exactly plan. At times, life just feels so unpredictable and unplannable.

Yet I can still sense God’s Plan in all of the uncertainty! Sometimes, I strongly believe that there are “signs” about God’s Will,  such as words other people say, actions other people do, and direct things that are provided for you or taken away from you. “Signs” can also be images, visions, thoughts, and feelings / bodily feelings. Basically, you never really know what a “sign” is until you experience it and Our LORD speaks through it to you.

Reading the signs, listening to God’s voice amidst them, praying, and courageously stepping forward in the direction that you believe the LORD is leading you: now, I believe that’s real Faith.

Faith is blind; it believes in the invisible, the unforeseeable– and it follows the “signs.” Our LORD wants us to be at peace knowing we have done our best to hear His voice and to follow His call. He will support us in every step of our journey, and re-direct us. We must simply trust in HIm!

If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.

(first heard this quote in the movie “Bella”)

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