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

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? 🙂

2 friends, 2 vocations: sisterhood & married life

photo (1)

One of my best friends, Melissa, is an “aspirant” in a religious order, meaning she is preparing to become a fully-vowed religious sister one day (there are a series of vows over many years). Similarly, I am engaged, preparing to become a Christian wife this upcoming April. 

Recently, I was looking at pics of Melissa, who now lives in a convent (and has an apostolate chockfull of various duties, such as teaching). I saw her radiant smile shining the love of Jesus! JESUS: her all-in-all, her MAN… the Son of God made man! There she was, in her beautiful uniform. Radiant. In every picture.

The pictures had me thinking… I feel like I was sorta a “wannabe” religious sister before I met my fiancé. Simply put, the entirety of my days revolved around Our Lord. Much of my time was devoted to Him. Because I was single, it was easier to have a more singular focus on my spiritual walk with and worship of Jesus.

When I was 25, dating for the first time had me feeling very odd at first. I was jolted into another way of existing: loving Jesus, but also loving a human man like I love Jesus.

Dating meant making time for daily Mass, holy hours, and morning/noon/evening/night prayer and as well as for daily significant-other conversation, date nights, and relationship building.

So much was new to me: talking out misunderstandings like there was no tomorrow, making surprise brownies like it was a sacred duty, entrusting to this young man my vulnerabilities when I had never laid them out to anyone.

I began to see that Matt deserved my attention, adoration, and sacrifice as Jesus did, albeit in different ways. My new mission was not just to love my perfect Jesus, but also to love an imperfect man in His name. And to be trusting enough to let Matt love an even-more-imperfect me.

Gazing at the radiant smile of my “sister-in-training” friend, Melissa, the presence of the Son of God Made Man could not be more apparent with her. And, after reflecting, I can see how Jesus is present in my relationship with my purely human man as well. I have not left Jesus. In loving Matt, I am loving Jesus in new ways that I have not loved Him before.

In dating / courtship and engagement, my love for Jesus been put to the test! In the past two and a half years, I have tasted the decisive love of the Cross in unforeseen ways. Ultimately, I have learned that with grace, with the life of Jesus within, selfless love is possible to give as well as to receive.

My attention?

To decrease on myself, and to increase on Matt. My Ultimate Question: “How can I serve him better?” In serving Matt, I serve Our Lord!

John 3:30 reads: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

My adoration?

On Matt’s personhood, his manhood: on his being made in the image and likeness of God. And as the man in our future marriage, on his being our image of Christ: my spiritual “head” to whom I am to “submit” or to “be subject.” On respecting and adoring Matt as a son of God, I am respecting and adoring Our Lord!

Ephesians 5:22-23 reads: “Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior.”

My sacrifice?

To lay my life down for Matt. Every. Single. Moment.

John 15:13 reads: “Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

The two biggest differences between my friend who is in the convent and me?

FIRST. Jesus will be my friend’s “head” while Matt will be mine. He will be my head, I will be his body. Matt and I will be an indivisible team, united by God as “one flesh”! In the ups and he downs, the joys and the sorrows. Together, we will reflect the entirety of Jesus; we will also reflect Jesus the Groom with His Bride, the Church.

SECOND. My friend will have Christ as her “husband” to sanctify her and lead her to Heaven. On the contrary, Matt’s and my shared mission as husband and wife is to sanctify one another via loving one another with the unconditional love of Jesus. And, get this: it is only when we are BOTH alive in Jesus that He will be able to lead us as “one flesh” into Heaven. I am accountable for Matt’s soul and Christian discipleship as well as my for own. And as for our possible future children: we will also be accountable for them so long as they are in our care. These duties are not to be taken lightly!

It is always so fun to receive a letter from Melissa, or to call her, or to meet up with her. Girl talk abounds; but the funny thing is, we could just as easily call it “vocation talk”!

“Vocation” comes from the Latin word “vocare,” meaning “to call.” As Melissa and I follow the Lord’s call in our respective vocational journeys, it is a sight to behold the parallels in our shared calling to Christian discipleship. Although we have two very different vocations, we have more similarities than we can imagine! For at the root of both of our vocations is the Cross, on which hung our sweet and powerful King, Jesus.

What an adventure life has been for both of us, and what more adventure awaits!

A.M.D.G.

rest and why Heaven isn’t boring (zZz)

Alas, some nights we just need rest.

No… I take that back.

Alas, all nights we need rest.

I’m not just talking about fake “rest” where you’re worried about all of the things of the next day. I’m talking about really resting in Our LORD, knowing that you’ve done what you could today, and that tomorrow will have its own tasks. Matthew 6:33-34 reads: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”

Sometimes I wonder: will there ever be a moment of complete “rest” in married life, from your spouse or from children of whom you take care? Unmarried now, I do have the opportunity to just completely “rest” in the LORD without spousal or parental ties lingering in the back of my mind at all times. This is why I have much respect for the parents of the children and teens that I work with: parenting is a tireless job. And I have respect for married couples without children as well. Keeping up a healthy marriage is no easy feat. It requires constant sacrifice and work.

And speaking of families… do we forget Whose family to which we ultimately belong?

We all need to be a “child” at the end of the day.

Whose child? God’s child.

Every day, we must know how to be God’s child and how truly to rest in Him. We must practice rest and perfect rest in Christ! For this is what we were made for, for all eternity: to rest in Him and to rejoice in Him in Heaven! 

This “rest” will not be a dormant or boring or dreary sleep, however; it will be an alive and captivating and invigorating eternal state of affairsThe “rest” will be from the battle between our will and the Will of God: no longer will we be inclined to turn away from Him, but to truly REST in Him, to Whom we belong!

Nothing up there in Heaven will be of our own will, but only of the Divine Will.

If the thought of Heaven does not strike our fancy today, then what are we even working for here on earth, and why is working here on earth even exciting?

If we do not look forward to “resting” in Heaven, then we must certainly be amiss about the Heavenly ecstasy that awaits us and for which all things on earth should be ordered! I’ve actually told my little cousins that maybe the word “rest” is deceiving, for when we think about “rest” in a Divine sense, it is defined much differently. I told the little cuties that perhaps gravestones shouldn’t say “Rest in Peace” but “Have Fun in Heaven!” Why? I didn’t their little brains to think Heaven was a boring place where people just sleep forever in the presence of God!

Up in Heaven, “rest” will simply mean being fully alive, without our own human sin and worries getting in the way. We will be fully trusting in Our LORD, and having a grand time in ecstatic UNION with HIM and with EVERYONE ELSE up there! We will be praising our LORD with every bit of ourselves, and we will be in perfect love with Him and all of the angels and saints above. We will be rooting on and being prayer warriors for all of the saints in the making on earth (“intercessory prayers” will be answered by us!).

I like to think that Heaven will be one huge, crazy, ecstatic family party; everyone, a child of God. Everyone, united in one purpose: to Love God (and others in His name)  and to be Loved by God.

I don’t know about you, but this vision of Heaven makes me yearn and desire to rest in the LORD today and for all eternity! (And no wonder some of the saints prayed to die early if it were God’s Will: they simply wanted to be united to Him and to all the angels and saints sooner rather than later in that Divine ecstasyanything but boring!)

Well, I have many more thoughts to write about tonight, but hey, I better go rest in Our LORD… at least, for just the night, in my sleep. 🙂

Sneak peak:  I believe that is the #1 thing that I desire after I go to Confession is rest as well: to rest in Christ’s mercy! After every Confession, I realize that I usually sneak over to the Blessed Sacrament to just gaze at our LORD, to smile at Him as I rest in His endless mercy and forgiveness.

To be continued…

Image
Me, my grandma who taught me to live life as a prayer (since I was a baby), and some of my cousins a couple of years ago during her 86th birthday celebration. She raised 8 kids, and I wonder how she ever found time to rest in the LORD! Her mother had 8 kids as well, and was a third order Carmelite. Crazy!

am I just the girl he’s looking for?

Image

Some awesome young adult Dominican sisters at WYD 2011 Madrid. (c) WordOnFire

Warning: #CatholicNerdingOut.

And the more she ignores me
The more I adore her
What can I do?
I’d do anything for her…

‘Cause she’s bittersweet
She knocks me off of my feet
And I can’t help myself
I don’t want anyone else
She’s a mystery
She’s too much for me
But I keep coming back for more
‘Cause she’s just the girl I’m looking for”

–from “Just the Girl” by the Click Five

I randomly happened to listen to this song tonight. Brought me back to my college days when I’d plug into my iPod while walking to and from class, as it was a favorite.

The lyrics got me thinking… Is this how God feels about me? The more I ignore Him… the more He adores me? How lovely, how enamoring. That He would pine for me that much.

I also got to thinking about vocations in the sense of married life versus consecrated life. I know, I know. I have a boyfriend. But sometimes I wonder. Though I have met someone who I could envision marrying, I am still trying to be open. After all, it ain’t a thing till there ain’t no ring! 😛

I bolded the lyrics that especially struck me as translatable about how God really pursues me and wants my heart.

I really admire sisters and nuns and consecrated religious. Their love for Our LORD must be so strong, so pure, so deep, so eternal.

I admire friends who are married too– and heck, those married in my family. I know the LORD is present in their lives too, strongly and beautifully so! And working with kids, teens, and families, I can see how married life truly is a vocation filled with grace.

Yet I can also see how religious life truly sets one apart for the LORD in a very special, unique way. As a consecrated religious, you are already living like you would in Heaven, like the angels who are already fully consecrated to our LORD. For instance, if a sister, you ARE the bride of Christ… or, if a priest, you ARE the bridegroom of the Church.

Does God want me to marry? Does God want me all to Himself? These are questions all Catholic teens and young adults should ask themselves. I know that my boyfriend and I ask ourselves these questions occasionally still.

If God does will me to marry, I know He’s still pursuing me. I feel that every day. But how in tune am I to that? And what should my response be? Am I doing enough? I want to love Him to the best of my capacity! Receiving and resting in His love, yes. But giving back my entire self to Him: I’d like to do that too!

It’s truly a beautiful gift to be a daughter of God, to be one of God’s creatures– but still to be  pursued as a complete “mystery” to Him, whom He would like to unveil!

Like the song says… no matter what God has in store for me…

God adores me, He’d do anything for me, He doesn’t want anyone else, He thinks I’m a mystery, and I’m just the girl He’s looking for.

Well, now.

I’m completely flattered.