late night vocation pondering

I never thought I would leave California. Southern California, to be exact. Where most of my extended family is.

My mother has 7 siblings, and most live there. Every few weeks, we have clan meals. Family pow wows. Tribal gatherings!

I thought I could never leave them. I thought that there was where I always belonged.

Yet here I am! In Texas.

And I ask myself: SOOO, I can belong somewhere else?!

Yes, I can belong somewhere else. And it’s not that I don’t belong there anymore. But I also belong here.

Houston… oh, Houston. Charming. Urban, cultured, friendly.  A land of opportunity.

Houston, you broke all of the stereotyoes that I thought were true about Texas.

And my world is now so much less… myopic.

Moreover, I’ve realized, from moving here, just how much of an ADVENTURE life is when you follow the Gospel fearlessly. For my moving here was all part of my “yes” to God in fulfilling what I perceived and believed his vocational call for me.

God is transforming me into more and more of a woman here. He’s helping me to grow into my vocation of married and family life. Here, I have grown into wife, into mother: Two parts of my identity that are now so “core,” in a visceral way, to my very being!

It’s happening. Day by day. Moment by moment.

God is forming me here as His disciple. And I’ve never felt more fully alive.

I pray that I have the strength to keep on. May the LORD ever be my guide, my North Star, my one true home amidst all the others.

Kissing Matty

Way back in the day, when we were long distance between CA and TX. Ha, ha! 🙂

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The fruit of our love! The physical incarnation of our wedding vows. 😉 #ultimateblessing

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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Farewell, Papa Benedetto XVI!

Most people don’t know it, but Pope Benedict XVI really really did not want to be elected pope in 2005. In fact, he wanted to be a Vatican librarian and retire!

When Pope Benedict XVI was elected, he visited the grave of St. Celestine, a pope who also was elected in the very same way — in old age, wanting to retire. In fact, St. Celestine actually even tried to run away after he was elected!

Well, back in 2005 when he was elected, Papa Benedetto visited St. Celestine’s grave the day that he received his new papal pallium (a vestment)– and left it there.

What inspires me about Pope Benedict’s resignation is that I know that he at first did not want to be pope, but that did not stop him from giving God’s call for him to fulfill the “Petrine ministry” his personal 110%! No, 125%.

Just days before he was first elected, and then “Cardinal Josef Ratzinger,” Pope Benedict XVI wrote this meditation for the Stations of the Cross at the Colosseum (days before Bl. Pope John Paul II passed away):

Lord Jesus Christ, for our sake you became like the grain of wheat that falls to the earth and dies, so that it may bear much fruit (Jn 12:24). You invited us to follow you along this path when you told us that “the one who loves his life loses it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life” (Jn 12:25).

Yet we are attached to our life. We do not want to abandon it; we want to keep it all for ourselves. We want to hold on to it, not to give it away. But you go before us, showing us that it is only by giving away our life that we can save it.

As we walk with you on the Way of the Cross, you lead us along the way of the grain of wheat, the way of a fruitfulness which leads to eternity.

O, the Irony!

Little did Papa Benedetto know that he would be shortly become that “grain of wheat” for all the world… nourishing the Church with Christ as the POPE!

I am so inspired by Pope Benedict XVI’s humble fiat when likely everything in him was shaking “no no no!” Papa Benedetto stayed SO faithful while growing so frail (at least, in my opinion– I mean, even seeing him at WYD 2011 at the giant airfiled during that storm– I thought he’d keel over!).

Papa Benedetto ALWAYS strived to follow God’s vocation for him… to listen to His call… and was not hesitant nor afraid to cast his net out, deep into the ocean.

Pope Benedict XVI was a true “fisher of men.”

What is God calling us to do, that we don’t want to do?

For one, as we were baptized “priest prophet, and king,” we’re ALL called to be “fishers of men” one way or another.

Papa Benedetto became pope without wanting to become pope. And man did he catch some souls in that net of his. He lived out his vocation fully… He embraced his vocation– his cross– with love.

I know I could think of a whole slew of things that God probably wants me to do– but I may be frozen, hesitant, afraid. Lazy. Proud. The list goes on.

Yet I pray that I can give my fiat, and walk by faith, not by sight. That I can embrace my vocation, my cross, and all that it entails, with love.

With God’s grace, I pray to be a “fisher of men” with my 125%.

Thank you, Papa Benedetto. You have seen so many of us grow in the Faith from our teen years to our young adult years. WE LOVE YOU!

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A young, dashing Pope Benedict XVI! He was our age too once, ya know! Pretty sure he had no idea he’d be pope one day. 🙂

Click here for a cool site, XT3’s, farewell to Papa Benedetto!

what time is it?

This Lent might mean spiritual renewal for you. Or it might mean great suffering. It might mean sacrificing an extra thirty minutes of sleep per day to go to daily Mass. Or it might mean adding in an extra thirty minutes of time per day to spend with a loved one.

Whatever this time means to you, remember that it is a commodity.

Are you going towards God, or are you going away from Him?

For everything, there is a time and a season. God has a time for everything.

What time is it in your life?

“1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to throw away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

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“giving up chocolate for Lent” = finding grace in the wilderness?!

“The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness…. I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:2,3

Finding grace in the wilderness… now that’s what Lent is about.

What’s that “wilderness”? It’s that emptiness, that wild place that you’re left when you’ve said no to your desires and will and you’ve said yes to that vast unknown called “God’s Will”: what He desires for your life.

How do we find grace in the wilderness? By abandoning ourselves. How can we do this? Well, yes, even by little things such as “giving up chocolate” for Lent. I know everyone beats up on that idea, but there indeed can be deep meaning behind such a simple sacrifice. So, speaking of chocolate…

Last night, my professor passed around Hershey kisses. I grabbed a few, only to realize: Hey, it’s Lent… maybe I should put these down. Then I gave myself an excuse: Well, I’ve already got them here in front of me… it’s too late. I just couldn’t handle the temptation. I then proceeded to enjoy all three chocolate kisses within a couple minutes.

Nope, I didn’t “give up chocolate” for Lent. In fact, I gave up a plethora of other things (and added in some new things I’d like to do, too).  But still…. it was so hard to say no to those three little pieces of chocolate. And after I ate them, I knew that I had missed an opportunity to tell our Lord “I love You.”

Tonight, I face a similar battle. Yes, as I write this post!

The Valentine’s Day cookies that my nephew and I made are beckoning me. However, I realize that my saying no to having a cookie can be a simple “yes” to God.

“Yes, Lord, I love you more than this cookie.”

“Yes, Lord, I love you more than these three Hershey kisses.”

Eventually, with an attitude like this, in which we gladly die to ourselves in the little things, we can find strength say no to the big things– including the big sins.

When we practice saying no to little harmless desires, we will one day find ourselves being able to say no to bigger harmful temptations. It is then that we can say: “Yes, Lord, I love you more than this sin, which I know is not good for my soul, or anyone else’s…. and which I know hurts You.”

As we detach from ourselves this Lent, may we find grace in the wilderness, and attach our hearts to Our Lord!

May we be able to say no to the chocolate, and via such little ways, come to love Him with an everlasting love, just as He loves us!

After all, love works and builds bit by bit… struggle by struggle… kiss by kiss. 😉

kisses

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!