Why I’m Not a Strict Catholic

I haven’t been able to post much lately but wanted to share an absolutely beautiful post by my sister Rebecca! Check it out!

Seeds of the Dandelion

People often ask me if I am a strict Catholic.

My answer is always no. Why?

Because I do not follow a single rule.

I live my life for God, for Jesus, for the Holy Spirit, not for religion.

Yet, then they wonder why I do the things that would fall into the category of a “Strict Catholic”.

Because I love God.

He is the source of my life,

The reason for my being,

My one true love,

And the source of all my joy.

Every Mass is a date–each communion a sacred kiss on my soul from Dear True Love.

Who would miss a date with their beloved?

Who would consider attending that date—hearing them speak sweet words in your ears, receiving their help, love, and forgiveness and their kiss—following a rule?

I attend Mass out of a beating desire in my heart to see my Love.

I sit…

View original post 496 more words

Testimony Part Two

For those of you that “Met Rebecca” through my post the other day, here is part two of her faith testimony. Also check out the new section on her blog where she has posted several pieces of her own original artwork that she will be selling to help raise funds for her mission trip!

Seeds of the Dandelion

So to recap my last post, at this point in my journey with Jesus, I have just finished reading my Bible and am nearing the end of that horribly awkward phase of life called middle school. I don’t remember where in the Bible I was when I felt called to mission work, but I remember the exact moment I felt called to be a missionary. I believe it is impossible to forget any moment in which God reaches down and tenderly touches our hearts.  I can still remember how I was sitting–crosslegged, backwards on my bed. I was captivated by a book in the Old Testament and it was around 11:00 at night. That was when I felt him; felt him gently and ever so slightly urge me to go and tell of the wonders that were captivating me in that very moment. To spread his love and word around the world…

View original post 941 more words

Christmas Joy

Christmas JoyDo you remember being a child and anxiously counting down the days until Christmas?  Maybe on an advent calendar or maybe a paper chain that you made?  Do you remember singing Christmas carols without a care as to how you sounded and dancing around the house laughing?  Do you remember being so excited on Christmas Eve night that you could barely sleep?  And waking before the sun to see if Santa had come?

As children, it seems that the joy of Christmas is impossible to miss.  Without having to worry about running errands and getting things done around the house, children can focus purely on the excitement of the season.  Even if part of that excitement is directed towards the coming of Santa, they still know and experience the incredible joy of the Christmas season.

As we get older, sometimes that excitement can begin to fade.  Perhaps because our schedules have become so busy we don’t have time to stop and focus on the joy.  Perhaps because we have experienced pain and sorrow and the Christmas season makes us feel sad or alone in suffering.  Perhaps it is simply that we feel we have other, more important things going on.

Whatever the reason, as Christians we are called to find that joy again and to share it with all those we meet.  Despite our hectic schedules, despite the suffering we may be experiencing, despite the things we have going on in our lives, there is always time to find the joy.

Mary and Joseph did not face an easy road in preparing for that first Christmas or in the years that followed.  Yet, despite it all, they found joy.  In fact, the whole Christmas story is filled with examples of joy.

Mary, after learning the news that she would be the mother of Christ, goes to visit Elizabeth.  Elizabeth greets her with joy.  John the Baptist, still in his mother’s womb, leaps for joy!  And Mary, despite all that was going on in her life, since learning this news, exclaims with great joy, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:46-47).

At the birth of Christ, the angel of the Lord appears to the shepherds saying “Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10-11).

When the wise men, on their search to see this new King, saw the star in the sky,they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy” (Matthew 2:10).

The Christmas story is filled with joy, not because there was a complete lack of stress, pain, and suffering.  They did not experience the joy because they had nothing else to worry about or because they had never experienced sadness.  They had problems much like we all do today.  But they were able to recognize that something bigger was happening.

Something bigger than the fear of a young, unmarried girl being found pregnant. Something bigger than the stress of traveling such a long distance while nine months pregnant.  Something bigger than the worry of having to search for a place to stay and eventually finding only a stable to give birth.

That something was the long awaited Messiah!  Jesus Christ, the Son of God!  And joy that they felt that first Christmas, the joy that we experienced so freely as children, that joy is still there calling to us in the midst of this holiday season.

Being filled with the joy of Christ’s birth doesn’t mean all problems will magically melt away.  It doesn’t mean the gifts will wrap themselves and there will be nothing else on the to-do list.  But it does mean that in spite of whatever else we may be dealing with, God is with us!  Emmanuel!  And that wondrous and amazing reality, that God sent His Son to us as a tiny babe to save us all and resides within the heart and soul of each and every one of us?  That is something bigger than all the stuff we have going on.  That is something to truly fill us with joy.

Merry Christmas to you all!  May it be a season filled with holiness, family, friends, and joy.

Meet Rebecca

I am blessed to have three wonderful sisters.  We are all very close and truly are the best of friends.  Aside from the goofy times and girl talks and childhood memories, we share a deep faith instilled in us by our loving parents.  We support each other in everything that we do and are always helping each other to grow closer to God.

RebeccaToday I wanted to share my support for my youngest sister, Rebecca.  Rebecca will be working as a missionary this summer and just started her own blog to document her faith journey and to help raise money for the trip. Despite this being her first blog, you may have read her writings before in a guest post on the Eucharist that I posted here a few years ago.

I encourage you to check out her blog and learn a little bit about her.  If you are able to offer any donations, now or in the future, I know she very much appreciates any assistance!  And even if you are unable to donate money at this time, I ask that you keep her in your prayers as she prepares for her missionary work.

Click here for Rebecca’s blog

Enough

After a few years of dealing with infertility, it can seem like there are two options available: continue to pursue medical treatment or begin the process to adopt. In reality there is also a third option and it is the option my husband and I have decided to take at this point.   And that is, basically, to do nothing.

Some might say that given what the doctors have said this doesn’t make any sense. Some might say that if we really wanted a baby we would do something more proactive at this point. Some might just shake their head in a sad fashion with a look that seems to say “so you’ve given up?”

And that could not be further from the truth. I still long desperately to be a mother. I still pray daily that it will happen. But after years of trying this treatment or that, we simply said “enough.” Enough tests, enough medication, enough stress, enough of the medical appointments (and bills that go along with them).

While adoption is a wonderful calling, it is just that: a calling. Not something that is a “last resort” option to have children. Despite how much we want a child, we simply do not feel the call to adopt. Deep in our hearts, we both still strongly feel that we will conceive and we will have our baby. And so we will continue to pray, continue to trust, continue to hope, and continue to wait.

I used to worry about what we would do when we reached this point. I would grow panicked at the thought of being able to do absolutely nothing else. But now that we are here? Now that we have made this decision? I feel immense peace about it. I know in my heart we will be parents. And I truly believe that we will become parents through conception. Even still, as we sit back and wait, we will continue to pray for God’s will to be made clear and to trust that if His will is something different, He will make it known to us.

We are not giving up hope, but we are giving up control. At the end of the day, it is God who creates life. Our decision to do nothing is a decision to fully give it to God. While I have said to myself before that we give this up to the Lord, a part of me still held onto control. A part of me felt that I had to try all my options. And I am glad that I did. I learned things about my overall health and got my body back on track. But now, I feel very comfortable with the decision to let go of it all and leave it fully in His hands.

A year ago today, on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, I made my first Marian consecration following the 33 Days to Morning Glory retreat. It was an important step in my faith and one that has led me closer and closer to Christ. The consecration calls me to give everything I have and everything that I am to Jesus through Mary. It calls me to relinquish all control and to trust in the everlasting goodness and mercy of our Lord. It may have taken me a year, and I certainly still have a ways to go, but I feel that on this anniversary of my consecration, I am truly ready in my heart to let go and give it all up to Him.

Today also marks the opening of the Jubilee Year of Mercy. To celebrate this, my church is holding a Bible study on Divine Mercy throughout the Old and New Testaments. Our first session was last night. To open the session, we listened to Matt Maher’s song “Your Grace Is Enough” and discussed how God’s grace, God’s mercy, is truly the heart of our faith. Pope Francis said in his Angelus address today, “Mercy is the key-word of the Gospel” and that “we should not be afraid: we should allow ourselves to be embraced by the mercy of God, who waits for us and forgives everything.”

Today, at the start of the Jubilee Year of Mercy, while celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and the anniversary of my first Marian consecration, I am ready to stop being afraid, to give it all up to God, and to allow His rich mercy to surround me and fill my soul. In deciding to do nothing, I feel that we are leaving ourselves open to everything. He has a plan for us, one that while I may not yet understand it, I know in my heart will be far greater than what I could come up with on my own. I am ready to really immerse myself in His mercy and let my heart be open to His will in my life. Because His mercy, His love, His grace is enough.

An Advent Poem

I wrote this poem for Advent a few years back and wanted to share it again as we start another Advent season.

light-568472_960_720

roses near running waters

Waiting

Waiting with joy
With hope
With great anticipation.

Waiting for peace.
Waiting for Love
Waiting for Joy.

We wait

For loved ones to come home.
For wars to end.
For peace on earth.
For romance.
For love.
For new life.

We wait.

To be together.
To laugh together
To cry together
To remember the past
To look forward to the future
To celebrate.

We Wait.

To celebrate our blessings
Our togetherness
Our hopes
Our dreams.

To celebrate a Baby.
A Baby born in Bethlehem
Many years ago.

A beautiful little Baby
So small
So precious
So innocent
So glorious.

A Baby to warm our hearts
To show us the way
To bring us peace
And love
And joy.

A Baby to bring us everlasting life.

Waiting with joy
To celebrate the Baby
The precious Baby Jesus
The very Son of God.

We wait.

Waiting with hope
With great anticipation

View original post 76 more words

Do Not Be Afraid

This world we live in is a tricky place sometimes. The barbaric acts that human being are capable of inflicting on other human beings is beyond comprehension. Certainly the recent attacks in Paris showed us that. It is not just France either. Many places throughout our world face violence on a regular basis through war and acts of terror. How are we to react in such times?

Any time there is a major attack on innocent civilians it tugs at the heart strings of nearly everyone. People from around the world came together in this last week to pray for and support Paris during this time. Prayer is so very powerful. Especially when it does not seem like there is much else we can do. How do you fight a terrorist group? How do you wage war on an organization that does not have a specific location? How do you reason with a group that could commit such heinous acts?

Terrorist. The word may have been new at one point. But having grown up in the midst of the 9/11 attacks, the term is certainly well-known. It describes a person or group whose purpose, truly, seems to be to inflict terror. They show no remorse at killing and do so without regard as to who these people might be. They have allowed evil into their hearts and souls and now try to inflict this terror on the rest of us. To make us think we need to be afraid. Perhaps to frighten us into becoming like them.

I am not a politician. And in times like these I am certainly glad that I am not the one making the tough decisions. But I do know of one way we can all fight back. And that is to resist the temptation to give in to that fear. That is exactly what they want.

Instead, we should continue to live our lives. Maybe hold our loved ones a little closer and spend some extra time in prayer for peace in our world. But we should still live our lives. Still travel and go on vacations and go to the mall and go see a movie or attend a sporting event.

And then we should take it one step further.

As Christians we are called to help those in need among us. Whether they look like us or not, regardless of where they come from. For in the poor and needy among us, we can find Christ. Jesus tells us that when we help those in need among us, we are helping Him. And that when we refuse aid to the least of His people, it is as though we are refusing to help Jesus Himself.

Matthew 25The recent attacks in Paris made our world seem smaller somehow. It brought the threat of terrorism again into the spotlight. And in the wake of these attacks, many have reacted harshly towards those who are in desperate need of help. The attacks of these terrorists have left literally millions of people displaced. Millions of people have lost their homes, their livelihoods, their loved ones. Millions of people have left everything they have ever known to get on a rickety boat in hopes that where they land will be better than the horror they are facing in the land they used to call home.

And it is our responsibility to help them in whatever way we can.

To close down our borders to certain groups of needy people solely out of fear that a terrorist may be among them? This is to let the terrorists win. This is a highly emotional topic and passions run high. But I believe that if we truly look in our hearts, if we read the words of Christ, it becomes clear that there is only one answer. Refuse to give in to fear and reach out to help. We cannot live in fear of a potential terrorist in our midst. And we certainly do not have the right to refuse assistance to so many people so desperately in need simply because they come from a similar geographic location as the terrorists try to call home.

We are called to welcome the strangers. And for those truly concerned about our national security? Our nation has measures in place to look into the background refugees. You can read about the process that these people go through in order to come to America here.

St. John Paul II at the beginning of his pontificate famously said “Do not be afraid. Open, I say open wide the doors for Christ.”

It is time for us to live those words. To refuse to be afraid because we know that our God is bigger than any threat we might face here on earth. To refuse to live in fear of attack because we know the One who gave His life so that death is not the end! Death holds no power over us because Jesus has conquered death! To open the doors to our hearts so that we may be filled with the love of the Lord and the Holy Spirit within us. And to open the doors of our nation to those in need. For by serving them, we serve Christ.th

Pray for Paris.

Pray for Peace.

Do not be afraid.