housewife note, no. 24601

Below is a poem I jotted out while literally half awake, puffy tearing eyes (not from crying, from tiredness), the other night. I’m guessing some of my stay-at-home mommy friends might relate. Wiping butts all for the glory of God, right? And for the love of our children? Here, here! ūüôā

days rush by!
no time to breathe!
what can i do
for me, me, me?

berry la croix & “ready player one”
since when was sparkling water
& a book
such fun?

no, but,
srsly.
and i mean,
srsly.

this job has me
pwned.

and they call me
“housewife”?
well, i’ll be
darned.

i feel so much more.
a giver of…?
life!

what a dinky, boring title–
plain ole’ fashioned “housewife”?
oh,
heck no.

i give and i give
and i give
watching my insides
die.

but it’s for them,
for them!

and anyway,
when have i also
ever felt
so alive?

those smiles and
those eyes.
i swear they’ll
kill ya quick.

such a venomous bite!
that adorable
neediness.

but they’re mine, mine, mine
and they’re ours
and O, they’re His!

so, i’ll gladly die to self
for this joy,
this hard love.

this bliss,
this bliss.
His bliss.

our happiness.

(c) awakenwonder

confessions of a new mom

“Today… was officially… the WORST day EVER!” I exclaimed after a long day of what seemed like hour upon hour of a fussy, overactive, nap-fighting, teething baby.

I knew I was exaggerating. I knew I was being a drama queen.

But sometimes, that’s the best therapy (for me, at least): to speak in fourth grade level hyperbole. To let that frustration out like a bang.

“And guess what? It was also the BEST day EVER… because we have HIM [our son]!” Matt chimed in.

I smiled. He spoke truth.

“You’re right… you’re SO right.” I agreed.

Recently, I have found myself an ungrateful mother. I may be a saint in the making, but I am no living saint now! (Ha, ha, ha!)

“God, you say you know how many hairs I have on my head? Well, I want to pull out ALL of them right now!” I kept thinking today.

It’s amazing how much of “my life” I have felt that I have “lost” since giving birth to my son. Career plans? What career? Hobbies? What hobbies? Free time? Ha! Ha, ha, ha!

But my husband is right.  When we got married, we vowed that our marriage would be ,”free, total, faithful, and FRUITFUL.” And God sure did deliver (fast!) on that fourth “f” (when he blessed us with the FRUIT of our LOVE: our dear son)!

We said “yes” to being free, total, faithful, and fruitful… we said “yes” to LIFE. Which is actually quite funny. Because while that YES meant gaining the CUTEST, most LIFE-filled baby in our arms, it also meant LOSING *our* lives as we knew them! It is our dear son’s life over ours now. We are called to LOVE by laying down our LIFE for his.

Yet in the end, it’s like a 1,000,000,000^infinity return on LIFE– just a different kind of life. One that is full of suffering, sacrifice, and selflessness. Yet it is precisely that life, I’ve found, that grows… that grows me and my husband as a woman and a man, respectively– and that, hopefully, will make the world a better place one day: via passing on that spirit of sacrificial Jesus-like love to our dear son.

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He ended up tryin’ to eat my Confirmation teaching materials today! This boy’s on the move, and boy is he fast now!

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! ūüôā

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

2 friends, 2 vocations: sisterhood & married life

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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 fianc√©. 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.

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.

before you DIE…

…What ONE THING do you want to do in your life? How do you want to LIVE?

It sounds cliche, but Saint Ignatius of Loyola actually came up with some pretty cool spiritual discernment techniques that incorporated such questions into their methodology!

And really, if God said you were going to die sometime in the near future, and you REALLY had to wittle it down, what WOULD you do?

A la Saint Ignatius, Father Nathan (@CathTools) tweeted this recently: “What is that one thing you don’t want to die without having done? … So WHEN are you going to do it?”

I was pretty surprised about the clarity in my response. And the rapidity in which it came. It almost felt like the answers sprung from my heart.

It also almost felt too sacred to tell the world my dreams on this blog! Isn’t it funny, the human spirit?

But I thought I’d share that tweet by Father Nathan, because it is my hope and my prayer that you will have some music start playing from your own heart, too.

Is it love that you’d seek?

Here’s my cover of “We Could Happen”– a song I would joyfully listen to in the initial stages of my courtship, pre-“officialness” ūüôā

ALSO: This post had me think about this AMAZING guy named Zach Sobiech, who really did only have months to live at the age of 17… what a TOUCHING story. Makes me think that I do not want to just “live in the middle.” I want to be a saint in the making!

http://thecatholicspirit.com/featured/remembering-zach/

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‚Äôs parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah rose from bed and said to his wife, ‚ÄúMy sister, come, let us pray and beg our Lord to grant us mercy and protection.‚ÄĚ 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, ‚ÄėIt 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, ‚ÄúAmen, amen!‚ÄĚ 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.

WHY are you AFRAID?

“Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.” Luke 12:48

How are you meant to give life to the world?

St. Therese, St. Josemaria, and countless other saints did not say you had to do extraordinary things to bring life and light– and Life Himself and Light Himself– to the world. Yet if you have been given much, do know that God demands even more of you! These are the words of the Gospel according to St. Luke.

And only you can know what that “demand” of you from God means. It might mean little things with immense love. Or it might mean huge things with immense love.

Just know that you cannot evade the immensity (and intensity!) of love with which you intentionally live out your life calling! This God expects of you, baseline.

Yes. You were made to be life giving, not just God the Creator. You were created to come alive in Christ and to give that life of yours within to others! You are called to let God renew the face of the earth through you!

Your mission, when it all comes down to it?

HOW COULD YOU FORGET?!

You were made to be a saint!

So, as every saint has his or her calling, what is your calling? And if you ask yourself, deep down, why are you afraid of facing it, or of finding it out if you do not know it already?!

I exhort you to pray, to explore, to try, with Our Lord Jesus Christ as your source and your summit. How else will you ever hear His voice if you do not do so?

I know that I often fail to hear His voice. I know that I often lose that gift He gives me: that sense of wonder in this adventure we call life!

Well you know what? I am tired of forgetting to listen carefully to His voice. I am tired of forgetting about the high calling that I know God has for me. And I am ready to try harder to listen to His voice and put His love into action.

Every person God has made is able to transform others with a LIFE lived with PASSION. And we must not be afraid, because there is nothing to fear when we know that whatever our calling, our human passion can only be a minute speck in THE Passion of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself has already conquered the world!

I am tired of mediocrity in my life.

I am ready to live a life of passion in the name of His Passion, fueled by His grace that ignites and transforms the world! To God alone be ALL glory, honor, and praise!

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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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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 affairs.¬†The “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. ūüôā

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…

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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!