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.

the human experience

The last few days I’ve been pondering the fragility of the human experience.

…My husband and I have dealt with a very fussy baby recently. In the learning process, we found that our son falls right asleep quickly when he is placed between his two parents in bed. So precious! Such a simple solution that we stumbled upon in serendipity! He rolls to his left, sees Daddy, rolls to his right, sees Mommy, and drifts off to dream.

In this little moment, I realized just how precious the order of marriage and family is, even to the tiniest and youngest of children.
…I also visited my workplace this last Friday. As I have been on maternity leave, many feelings were evoked upon my return: of my work there, of my overall life mission, of my dear friend co-workers, of my former clients. As a counselor, I work with “the human experience” in the raw, in real time, at its worst and at its best.I realized just how much my coworkers and I truly care for our clients, and moreover, just how much we care for one another as a team, as a family.

…This week, I was also jolted in shock by the report of two newscasters and their interviewee being shot point-blank by their former co-worker. Both the newscaster and the cameraman were killed instantly.  Both were about my age. Both were in similar life situations that I have just gone through myself: finding true love, getting engaged, living passionately in newly started careers.
Perhaps to my regret, I even saw the video of the newscaster’s last moments. That look of terror on her face will forever be etched in my memory.
I realized just how ephemeral, how fleeting life is. Every day, every moment, every opportunity to love and to serve… truly is a gift. We cannot count on tomorrow.
…I’ve also felt so utterly disgusted (and betrayed by the government) regarding the heinous crimes against children, women, and humanity itself by Planned Parenthood. These crimes recently surfaced via undercover work at Planned Parenthood. The main man behind the undercover work is a friend of many of my close friends.
Doctors at Planned Parenthood have been selling baby body parts and intact fetuses. Worse yet, doctors and other employees at Planned Parenthood have been harvesting baby body parts, such as brains, while those babies are still alive.
Who has the gut to stomach this and to say that it is permissible on any level? Why do my tax dollars fund this evil? My human heart is grieving.
I realized just how vulnerable life is, especially life that does not have the strength to defend itself.
I realized just how ugly life can get and just how evil and greedy (if not for money, for pride) we as humans can be. And no, I am not exempt from those temptations.
The only thing my heart can conclude is that at the intersection of all of these realizations is the ultimate reality that this LIFE is not our own and that as humans we are not meant merely to do as we please. Instead, God has given us a plan for love and for life, and we are to live accordingly for our good, the good of others, and the good of LIFE itself.
This beautiful LIFE given to us by our Creator is meant to be cherished, to be treasured, not taken for granted, and worse yet, destroyed.
(And hey, I’m not just writing this post because I want to point fingers. I too take life for granted. I too destroy the LIFE in me and in others when I sin.)

Little ol’ me…. just one in a trillion humans of all of humanity.

But my MISSION remains and I DO have the power to change.

I am called to protect LIFE and to wholeheartedly to live out God’s plan for life and love. Come what may.

They call it the human experience. Yes, at its very finest.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”John 10:10-11

I met Saint GIanna’s daughter, also Gianna! Saint Gianna Beretta Molla was a true testament to someone whose mission was to protect life, to live according to God’s plans for love and life.

they’re one in the same

Ah, this.

Yes, this.

Silence.

My two boys asleep: my hubby and my son.

Silence! Time to think uninterruptedly. Alas…. alas!

And yet, I am so tired. It is SO late.

Who knew the vocation of motherhood could be so exhausting?! Really, zillions of other women have gone through this?!

And yet, it’s an exhilarating feeling that I am left with at the end of the day. Honestly, I’ve dreamed of being a mommy even before grade school. (As I experience all of this joy being a new mommy, I can’t help but pray even more for those struggling with infertility and miscarriage– I cannot imagine that pain. <3)

All of those moments that I want to bang my head during the day when my son is fussing, screaming, or just being overactive and not napping… they are put to *shame* when, at the moment that my baby finally DOES fall asleep, I pull out my smartphone and peruse my photos and videos of him. Ha! Ha! Ha ha ha ha!

What I am learning about motherhood is this: sacrifice. Isn’t that the single word that comes up numerous times on this blog?!

Sacrifice, sacrifice, sacrifice. Whew!

Yet what I am also learning is this beautiful, mysterious paradox: that I revel in this sacrifice. That at the time that I hate it, I also love it, because I know that it is edifying.

Sacrifice and love: one in the same. THAT is what I have been learning. 

I am being edified… refined… purified.

The one event that has made me “grow up”? Having a child of my own. Cliche, yes. But true, so true.

I often wonder if this is how God feels with me as his daughter. He sees me crying, he sees me blindly hurting myself, he sees me confused, he sees me needy, he sees me being just a little bit naughty sometimes (or maybe other times, very, very in the wrong), he sees me THIRSTY… he sees me HUNGRY. AND IN IT ALL, HE LOVES ME! He only wants the best for me! HE SAYS, “COME, DRINK MY BLOOD. COME, EAT MY FLESH.” Oh my! ” ❤

My motherhood is teaching me soooo much about my daughterhood of the King Most High…

But I am exhausted. So, good night for now! 🙂

#tobecontinued

“Look mom! Sushi! Mmmmm” 😛

My great uncle took a candid of us at dinner one day... we never get family shots! Life is going by too quickly. Hope we get another one soon. ;)

A (blurry) candid of us at dinner one day… we never get family shots! Life is going by too quickly. Hope we get another one soon. 😉

an immutable gift: marriage & family

These are the eyes he has for his Daddy. He loves to play with Daddy so much. There is definitely a father-son bond with a kindred humor and an endearing camaraderie. As Mommy, I just stand on the sidelines and smile. I cannot replace this bond, nor do I intend to do so.

Dominic looking at Daddy

I am so happy for them. I am so grateful to God that our family is blessed with a strong, loving leader who shows us Jesus Christ, and who provides and protects. Just the way Jesus loves, leads, provides and protects for His Church (His bride) on earth, so too does my husband do for us.

Often my hubby tells me that I’m the “MVP [Most Valuable Player]” of the family. He asks me, “What would we do without you?”

But I often ask the same of my dear husband. What would we do without him?

Neither of us are the “MVP.” Both of us are needed to act full-force as husband and wife, as daddy and mommy, respectively, to keep our family ship afloat and sailing, Heaven-bound.

There are beautiful differences between myself as wife and my husband as husband; they are rooted in our God-given feminine and masculine natures. More than stereotypical, they are in our very element, intrinsic to who we are, coloring all we feel and do.

We are espoused to one another, and our gender differences strengthen our family as stabilizers, reinforcements, and propellers. Our complementarity is what keeps us going so strongly

Moreover, there is a beautiful complementarity not only in our marriage and how we support one another, but also in our parenthood and how we love our son. I’ve been learning this over the past few months, daily. And it’s been such a lovely site to witness.

I realize that, essentially, it is my husband who will show our son how to be virtuous… how to be brave… how to be chivalrous… as a young man.  

Sure, I can inspire my son via word and example [and I can do so tremendously]. But only my husband can embody [with his male body!] to our son, by his very living example, how to be a man of God, a man of honor… how to be a man. How awesome! (And oh my, he’s got quite a job to do.)

Yes, God has a master plan for marriage and family life– for life and for love. What a gift!

As I learn more about that gift, I stand in awe. That master plan includes the complementarity between husband and wife, father and mother, which makes for a unique and immutable teamwork and dynamic.

Yet God did not intend marriages to make merely “teams”; He intended marriages to make families! A child is the living proof of the marital love of a man and a woman. This is how life is begotten in the world. And this truth will never change. 

Just as the Father so loves the Son that the Holy Spirit exists as the love between them– so too does our son exist because of our love. Indeed, recently, when my husband and I were having it rough, my husband pointed to our son and reminded me: “There’s our love! It exists!” Yes, our love is so real…. that “it” [he] has a name. 🙂

My prayer is that my generation sees this master plan for life, love, marriage, and family– with its complementary nature between man and woman– and rejoices in it!

May my generation seek this master plan for life and love more and more deeply.

And may my generation stand up for this master plan for life and love, for it is truly a gift.

#thankYouGod #marriage #familylife

time, talent, treasure

“The more generous you are for God, the happier you will be.” – Saint Josemaria, The Furrow, #18

This Lent, I think it’s important that I become less “me-focused.” And it’s sooo easy to be “me-focused” in a world where egocentricity (wow! that’s a word?! I wasn’t auto-corrected ;-)) is, subtly and not so subtly, glorified.

But truly, it is in giving ourselves to God and to others in His that we find true happiness.

The Catholic Church defines “Christian stewardship” as giving your time, talent, and treasure to God and to others in accordance with what God wills for you. I know for the widower in Scripture, giving her entire life savings into the collection basket was what God called her to do… and yet, I am sure He rewarded her a thousandfold.

This Lent, I would like to be a better Christian steward via my thoughts, words, and actions– in discreet, small, tangible ways, not just big blaring ways. It will take discipline to try to give more of that “gift of [my]self” to others: with a pure, unselfish heart. And if the end at the day, I am happier, that will just be an added joy, though not the end. The end? Love. Charity. Agape.

They say true happiness lies in living a virtuous life. And a virtuous life can only be lived in Love Himself: God.

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marriage as a cross

“I’ll share in your suffering… to make you well, to make you well…” – Phillip Phillips

When I watch this music video, I can’t help but smile. The song dons some pretty idealistic and romantic thoughts. Everything just screams “emotional high! I am in love!” Besides, perhaps, that line on suffering.

You know who the media needs to admire more, though? Not those couples who are “crazy in love” all the time. Instead, I think that the media should admire people who are married and truly fight to keep their marriage strong and alive in good times and in bad. Now those are the heroes of love, the spouses laying down their life for the other, even when that sense of excitement or chemistry is just plain ole’ gone

Still being loyal to the other even when everything feels like it is falling apart. 

Still dying to self for the other even when the other seems to be going cold turkey on you. Nothing could hurt more.

As I prepare myself for marriage, it’s odd thinking of all of the harsh, cold realities that may hit my dear fiance and me. O, and my fiance and I will let one another down at times. That’s a guarantee. One day, it may even feel like there is no chemistry. On either or both ends. What we do at such times will either strengthen or weaken our shared “cross” together. 

Yes, when we get married, we will both  be picking up the “cross” of marriage. This cross will be a joy and a blessing, but also a bearer of great struggle and hardship. This cross will our source of life! This cross will be our way to Heaven! May we always kiss its wood.

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. 😉

love, as per this day in June…

love is…

…your boyfriend staying up late to talk to you even though he’s an early sleeper. oh, and paying for every single plane ticket for you to visit him.

…your mother going on business and working so hard, so close to retirement, because she still wants to provide for the family by paying the mortgage on a house where all the family parties are.

…your 88-year-old grandmother being patient with you as she waits for you to assist her as you speak with your boyfriend on the phone.

…your whole family getting together for your cousin’s high school graduation. aunts, uncles, cousins, everyone.

…your father telling you there’s coffee ready with enthusiasm.

…your older brother letting you borrow his laptop for over a month so that you can use it for graduate school, as yours has broken.

…your older sister being so hospitable to you when you visit her home even though she has a newborn and a toddler boy of whom to take care.

…your brother-in-law making you extra food and saying, “well, it’s there and if it magically disappears, then that’s good too!” after you tell him you’re full.

…your “lil sissy” being so appreciative of the humble chocolate chip cookies and card you gave her for her high school graduation.

…your 4-year-old nephew’s eyes lighting up when you tell him you can take him to the park.

…your cousins’ Facebook threading and tweeting and texting you at random hours of the day, sometimes about completely ridiculous and fun things, other times about serious things like prayer requests.

…your middle school cousin saying, “what? who says you can move? I say we take a vote!” then having all of your cousins take a “vote” in which only one of many say you can actually move! LOL

…Jesus waiting for you in the Eucharist.

The list goes on and on. That’s why I dated this post– because I know it will be a forever “to be continued.”

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The day they took the “vote.” LOL! This is just a few of ’em… I wonder what would happen if they all voted.

lesson from JP2 & Pope Francis: love vs. lust

Bl. JP2 always talked about how young men and women, to their very core (even if they didn’t know it!), really just want to find eternal happiness by giving a total “gift of self [themselves]” to one another…. to others… and most of all, to God.

In “Love and Responsibility,” Bl. JP2 talks about how the core of love is sacrifice. The core of love is giving, not taking! (Boy, the world’s media today’s got that one a little mixed up.) Moreover,  Bl. JP2 expounds upon how lust focuses on “what’s in it for me?” while love focuses on “how does this affect the other person?” (or God, or others, or both of you together).

In the same vein, I recently came across this “Made In His Image” image that says: “Love can’t wait to give. Lust can’t wait to get.” Exactly what Bl. JP2’s “Love and Responsibility” gets at!

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In great serendipity, I came across this quote by Mahatma Gandhi as well:

“There are seven things that will destroy us: Wealth without work; Pleasure without conscience; Knowledge without character; Religion without sacrifice; Politics without principle; Science without humanity; Business without ethics.”

What’s interesting is that, immediately after reading this, I equated “religion” with “Jesus” who IS Love (1 John 4:7-8). Therefore, without even thinking, I was translating it into this: There is no such thing as love without sacrifice. No such thing!

And lastly, in the Blessed Sacrament Chapel a few days later, while praying before the Lord Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist, I conveniently flipped to this excerpt from the Book of Tobit in my Bible app:

When Sarah’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah rose from bed and said to his wife, “My sister, come, let us pray and beg our Lord to grant us mercy and protection.” She got up, and they started to pray and beg that they might be protected. He began with these words:

“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors;

blessed be your name forever and ever!

Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever.a

You made Adam, and you made his wife Eve

to be his helper and support;

and from these two the human race has come.

You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;

let us make him a helper like himself.’

Now, not with lust,

but with fidelity I take this kinswoman as my wife.

Send down your mercy on me and on her,

and grant that we may grow old together.

Bless us with children.”

They said together, “Amen, amen!” Then they went to bed for the night.

“Not with lust…” I read the words and I pondered over them. The words brought me such joy, such light. This Tobit knew what would be the foundation for an everlasting marriage bond. Love. Not lust. Giving. Not taking.

So much in our life is about what we want– even the most holy and good things– and yet, if we desire those things in inordinate ways, in all honesty, we are lusting over them.

We should never place anything over Eternal Happiness. His name is Jesus.

Everlasting peace of soul is only to be had from Our LORD– the only One who can offer us anything eternal: solely HIMSELF. We were not made for anyone else, no matter how holy, nor anything else, no matter how noble and pure. Made in His Image, we were made for HIM.

No one creation can compare to the One who created us, the Creator.

It is only when we FIRST give ourselves to Him, and THEN give ourselves to others in His name, including our spouses or perhaps the Church or those we serve (if we are consecrated religious) that anything at all makes sense!

It is so, so, so very easy to fall into the trap of confusing seeking the good, holy, pure gifts of the Giver rather than the Giver Himself. Yet we must detach from everything and everyone but Him. We must even be detached from spouses and children, to an extent, if we are in the marriage vocation. (God shows this with Abraham and Isaac… and Job…. and Jesus, HIS Son, of course! We must be willing to forsake even  mother and father and sister and brother for Him.)

It is so, so, so very easy to have “ulterior motives” but not even really realize it. For instance, do we do good only because of the feelings that doing good begets? Or do we do it because we want to love and to give and to sacrifice, even when it hurts or does not feel good or feels futile, unfruitful, un-returned?

I know I have leaps and bounds to grow spiritually. The tweets of our new papa, Pope Francis, have really made me think twice recently about my intentions of my spirituality. The true core of my spirituality should be to love God first, always, in everything, and in everyone: to give, not to take; to love, not to lust.

satan’s ill vision of love

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St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle. Be our safeguard against the wickedness and snares of the devil. May God rebuke them, we humbly pray, and may thou, o Prince of the Heavenly Host, by the power of God, cast out all evil spirits prowling about the world seeking the ruins of souls. Amen.

It is the image of God reflected in you that so enrages hell; it is this at which the demons hurl their mightiest weapons.” –William Gurnall

Blessed Pope John Paul II truly was a “social justice” kinda guy, but on a supernatural level. He believed in the “dignity of every human person” because he or she is made in the Image and Likeness of God! Therefore, every person is deserving not just of “social justice,” but of love.

I don’t know about you, but I think that love trumps social justice. Love means dignity, validation, irrevocable worth… not just food, clothing, shelter, and equal rights. Every human person is worthy of love.

Now, the word “love” is pretty loaded.

1 Corinthians 6:19-20 reads:

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.”

And at what “price” were we bought with?

When we look to Christ on the Christ, who was Love, the message is simple. That’s the price that we were bought at. True Love. Love isn’t about good feelings. It isn’t about attraction. It isn’t about pleasure. We were bought with love… we were bought with sacrifice. The core of love is sacrifice.

Satan will try to tell us that the core of love is good feelings, attraction, and pleasure.

Demons “hurl their weapons” at us by trying to make us forget what love is about (sacrifice) and WHO Love is: Christ!

God said: “Let us make humankind  in our image, according to our likeness.” (Genesis 1:26).

Like Christ, Whose image we are made in, we are capable of loving with sacrificial love. Yet how can that be?! In this day and age, it may feel nearly impossible.

Satan would like to destroy the world one lie at a time, by having people live for some  disordered vision of love and failing to realize that their bodies are temples of God!

Let’s not listen to satan.

Feelings, emotion, pleasure… they will never bring you happiness. Christ, in His sacrifice, and in our call to be loved by Him and to love others in His name– that is, with a spirit of sacrifice, too– only that will bring us eternal joy.

Soldier on, O you warrior prince and princesses! You are holy temples of God Himself. Your bodies are the bearers of the Cross of Christ, in this land of Light (Who we know is the Victor) versus darkness!