What’s Up Ahead?

September 22, 2014

When you think about the past, can you think of the best day of your life? This weekend I was thinking about that sentiment and wondering if the best day of my life has passed, and if I’ll get another one. I was thinking about it so much that I asked a few of my very close friends their thoughts on the matter.

One friend said something along the lines that simple things every day make parts of each day the best day ever; another cynical friend said that it’s all downhill from this point on; and another said that he is hopeful for a few more best days.

I’m not sure exactly where I fall. I had had to choose right now, I’d have to say that I’m going through a period where my “hope tank” is low, so I’m not feeling like there are any “best” days ahead, maybe good ones, but nothing extraordinary, really.

I would like to be wrong. Thinking this way is akin to living basically without hope, and this is a very difficult way to live. In Hebrews 6:19 it says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain.” We all need something to anchor us, and for me, at least, I know this anchor is hope. When I have hope, my faith is stronger, my love is stronger, I am stronger.

I just have to discover a way to find my hope. Any suggestions?

Promises, Promises

September 8, 2014

 

About a year ago, I promised a friend of mine that I don’t see often that I would buy him a plant or two to spruce his place up. Whenever we would talk on the phone, we’d laugh about the non-existent plant that I had yet to provide.

 

“I’m still waiting for that plant,” he’d say with a laugh.

 

I didn’t like that I had promised something that I couldn’t fulfill. But for months, the plant was pushed to the back of my mind until I heard his voice and was reminded again. Sometimes, I’d see a few flowers and other potted botanicals around, but every time it seemed that there was a hindrance to the purchase, some excuse or another as to why I couldn’t get it at that time.

 

Guilt would hit as the unfulfilled promise began to weigh me down. Yesterday, however, I kept my promise and delivered the plants. Immediately I felt relieved and happy. It wasn’t until I sat back in my car that I realized why the plant had grown to be so important—it was all about trust.

 

Both patience and trust are important in a relationship, even when it comes to God. It may take a while to trust in Him completely, especially when life doesn’t seem to make sense. But I believe He is there, patiently waiting for us.

Nicknames

September 5, 2014

 

Nicknames can tell a lot about a person. The names can describe a person’s history, character, personality, looks or talents, for example. Even when they are shortened versions of a longer name, it can tell you a lot about a person.

 

I know I’m not a sociologist or a linguist, so my examples aren’t an exact science, I admit…But take the name Timothy, for instance. When I hear the name Timmy I think of a child or adolescent. On the other hand, if I hear the name Tim or Timothy, I think of an adult. I have a friend who has the nickname of “my lovely” because of her kindness and beauty. And many other people in my life have nicknames that I call them by based on their roles in my life, like: husband, best friend, and brother.

 

In the Bible, nicknames are also used. Simon’s real name is Simon, but everyone calls him Peter because that is Jesus’ nickname for him. Peter, by the way, means stone. It’s a fitting nickname because later on Peter is called the “rock” that the Church will be built on. Even James and John are given nicknames, though you may pass right by it. They are called the sons of Zebedee, which is translated as sons of Thunder.

 

One thing that makes nicknames special is that they show you that there is a close relationship between people—the one saying the nickname, and the one with the nickname. I know that it is not quite the same thing, but I like to think that praying to Jesus, for instance, as the Most Sacred Heart, or as the Good Shepherd, makes me closer to Him as well.

 

What do you think about nicknames? Also, do you have one? Please share!

Street Olympics

September 2, 2014

 

Technically, I’m not graceful. While I like to think I have cat-like reflexes, the reality is, I move more like a deer caught in headlights (slow or not at all). So when I attempted to cross First Avenue last week and found myself diving through the air doing a majestic belly flop onto the pavement it was no surprise—at least to me. The surrounding pedestrians were definitely taken aback.

 

In mere moments, I was swarmed by people asking, “Are you okay?” And then a man lifted me up and put me back on my feet. Of course I couldn’t make eye contact with him because I was tearing up with shame and embarrassment. It was not one of my finer moments. As quickly as I could, I crossed the rest of the street (I had amasses some injuries especially to my left side since I had turned mid air so I wouldn’t do a face plant into the ground) and walked into the first place I could hide.

 

After I had settled down a little, I thought of how my antics could have been considered funny. How often do people see a woman dive through the air as if there were a swimming pool in front of her, doing a fantastic pavement dive worthy of a perfect 10?! At least I tried to convince myself of that.

 

I was going to talk about how the Apostles fell, like Peter falling into the water when he took his eyes off Jesus; or like when Jesus himself even fell carrying his own cross—but then I decided to look at this a different way. What did Peter and Jesus do after they fell? They got right back up. Peter was probably mortified, but he got back up and grabbed for Jesus’ hand. And Jesus picked up his heavy cross and kept walking.

 

I think that’s the difference. My first reaction was to run and hide, to get away and pretend my mistake never happened, to laugh it off, even. Peter and Jesus, however, got right back up and kept going, they kept up the good fight. I think that’s a great lesson for us all. No matter how hard it is, get up and keep fighting, keep going.

The Ice Bucket Battle

August 26, 2014

Some Catholics are getting the cold shoulder over the Ice Bucket Challenge sweeping social media on Facebook and Twitter right now. The purpose of the challenge is to raise awareness and funds for ALS, also known as Lou Gehrigs disease.

 

There are many reasons why Catholics are saying not to get involved in the ice bucket challenge (named from the act of literally pouring a bucket of ice and water on top of your head); from the theological debates to the social activism debates.

 

For example, one debate I heard was that Catholics are supposed to do their giving behind closed doors and not draw attention to themselves. Another debate I heard says that funds should be collected for ALS-related agencies because of the type of research being done.

 

On the other side, I have heard people argue for the challenge saying that bringing awareness to any cause or disease is a good thing; Catholics are not supposed to hide in a bubble. To simpler debates that the challenge is fun, brings awareness to a good cause, and is just a way to have fun doing it.

 

I myself fall on the side of it’s a good cause, and it’s a fun way to bring awareness to a disease many people may not be aware of. I was challenged to do the bucket challenge, and I accepted.

 

Here is a video of my challenge:

 

 

What do you think of the challenge? Are you for, or against it, and why?

Not-So Instant Messaging

August 21, 2014

 

Last night I was IMing with a friend of mine, and after one particular text I heard nothing back. Texting silence. It was awful. I scrolled through our texts and reread the last one I sent to see if perhaps I said something offensive without knowing it. After a few seconds, which felt like an eternity, the panic set in.

 

What had I done? Where was my reply? I knew it was childish to react in such a way, but I didn’t care. My mind raced with all the possibilities of what could have gone wrong. Maybe I text too many times, too fast and too furiously and my friend got annoyed? Or maybe I didn’t pay enough attention to their needs? It could have been a million different things. And I must have played through about a hundred of them in my mind.

 

Then I began to pray. My prayers went something like this, “Please let my friend not be mad at me.” It was a simple prayer, but it was honest and true. Then I remembered something that I had read a while back on patience that helped a lot. It was something I found on a pinterest board that said, “Patience is not the ability to wait, but to keep a good attitude while waiting.” I was worrying so much about what my friend was thinking of me, me, me, that I forgot to think about what he was going through, and that is always a very bad thing. So I turned towards praying for him, and began to feel much better. I changed my prayer to “Please let everything be okay for him and his family.”

 

I think that happens a lot today. People especially in their teens, 20s, 30s and 40s expect the instant reply. And if it doesn’t come, thoughts immediately go to—what did I do wrong, or on occasion, is everything ok? I’m going to try harder in those moments to pray for the person I am texting instead of sending out a million text bombs to their phone.

 

Have you had an experience like mine? How did you handle it?

Where Has the Summer Gone?

August 18, 2014

 

With my summer vacation in the rear-view mirror, it feels as if the season is already over…even though there are still weeks left. Perhaps the fact that I spend eight hours a day in a chilly office environment doesn’t help the fact that my mind thinks that fall is pretty much here.

 

But the truth is, the summer isn’t over.

 

Sure, back to school sales may be going on: but school hasn’t started yet. Even though it may be a bit cooler, it’s still humid outside; and people are still in a state of relaxation. However, I think many people would admit that summer seems to have gone pretty quick this year. There is something special about summer, maybe its from all those years when we were given time off from school to spend the days freely as we chose.

 

I remember youthful days spent in swimming pools with friends; reading books outside under trees; driving around suburban streets with the windows down and music blaring without anywhere to go; and the sound of the ice cream truck playing.

 

Yes, the days of my youth are gone, but the days of summer are still here. Different kinds of memories are made, but they are special all the same. The same summer sun shines down on us; the same God smiles at us. All we have to do is relax, smile back, and know that God is with us.

Bringing Down My Average

August 11, 2014

 

We had a special issue come out for the three new bishops. It was akin to the last game of the season, or the final night of a play, a major exam or a “so important your job depends on it” presentation at work.”

 

I did all my research. I prepped as much as I could. I worked like I never worked before. When the issue came and I looked through it, I was full of joy and accomplishment—until I saw it—a massive error that leapt off the page into my eyes, stabbing me in the heart and soul.

 

How could this have happened, I thought to myself? There were things in place to stop just this sort of error from happening. I thought back through the process, and thought about how I could have done such a thing, until I came to the realization that it didn’t matter—it was there and there was nothing that could be done about it.

 

I cried, not so much for myself but for the person involved whom I felt would be forever immortalized in the paper improperly.

 

Why did God let me work so hard only to let this happen? What good could possibly come out of this?

 

Right now, I don’t have the answers, only questions. But I trust in Jesus and right now, that’s enough for me.

 

Have you had an experience that didn’t make sense to you at the time, but you realized later on was God working in your life?

Broken But Beautiful

July 29, 2014

My nieces love searching for sea glass. I had never heard of such a thing until last year until they showed me the sparkling glass they found in the sand along the shoreline. It was beautiful. It looked so delicate and shiny sitting there among the seashells.

It wasn’t until I got back up to where we were camped out on the beach that my brother informed me that sea glass is generally made of broken beer bottles. How could something so beautiful come from broken beer bottles, of all things?! But it is the truth. The smooth, shining pieces of green, clear, and even blue glass we held in our hands were most likely from bottles broken and destroyed by the ocean.

It made me love the sea glass even more.

 

Necklace made of sea glass.

Necklace made of sea glass.

 

Knowing that it came from such an ordinary, yet rough place and also knowing how it got tossed around in the ocean until it came to the shoreline smooth and beautiful made me smile. It made me think of how God sometimes uses problems, difficulties, and troubles to smooth us out, make us tough, and, in many ways, make us beautiful as well. I know, it may sound like a silly cliché, but I feel like its true.

Just look around at the people you know. How many of them have been through difficulties in their life? Are they the ones that you turn to for advice and guidance? Are they the ones you look up to and admire? I know in my own life they are the ones that I look up to. Sure, perhaps once they were broken, but now they are stronger for it.

What do you think? Do you think that going through difficulties makes people stronger?

Spreading Emotions Socially

July 28, 2014

This weekend I read an article that said people are more likely to write about feeling depressed if one of their friends writes about feeling that way on Facebook. On the flip side, if a friend writes about feeling happy, friends are more likely to write about that emotion in their status on Facebook.

The findings totally made sense to me. If you are listening to a friend who is going through a hard time—either online or in person—you are likely to think about the things in your life that are similar as well. I think its how we relate to each other. It also makes me know which friends I want to reach out to. Online especially, it is easy to see who is always posting religious posts, or angry posts, sad posts or happy posts. On any given day, I know who I need to read, or follow.

What am I putting out there? Do I think about what kind of message I am putting out for others? Generally no. If I think of something random, I post it. Oftentimes without thinking about what I am posting.

But we have so much we can do! We can influence people for the good! And bring people closer to God in small ways.

Maybe, like Pope Francis says, I should, like all the Church, “be concerned for, and present in, the world of communication, in order to dialogue with people today and to help them encounter Christ. She needs to be a Church at the side of others, capable of accompanying everyone along the way. The revolution taking place in communications media and in information technologies represents a great and thrilling challenge; may we respond to that challenge with fresh energy and imagination as we seek to share with others the beauty of God.” (Pope Francis’ message on World Communication Day 2014)

What do you think? Do you feel that you lead others to Christ through what you post online?


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