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“She Laughs without fear of the future” Proverbs 31:25

11 Jan

These words hit me like a slap in the face.  As I sat on my bed, overwhelmed with wedding planning, these words jumped off the wall at me.  The verse “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future” is printed on wall art that hangs above the desk in my bedroom.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the worry and fear of what could happen, what might not work out and what could go wrong with wedding plans, marriage preparations, and marriage itself.  It’s so easy to get lost in the stress and caught up in the fears of something going wrong.

BUT.

The Holy Spirit stopped me quick in my tracksHe asked me to trust in GodTrust God radically and like none other.  Because when we put all of our trust in God, and trust in HIS POWER and HIS PLANS, and when we do our part to carry out God’s work in our lives, when we are STILL. AND KNOW THAT HE IS GOD (and that we are imperfect and yet perfectly imperfect wonderful human beings), God is glorified.  If we allow the fear and worry to grip our minds, and when we allow the fear to creep in and take ahold of our otherwise peaceful lives, the glory is taken from God.  God does not want that.

God asks us to Trust Him for His plans are greater than ours, and when we sense that peace leaving our hearts, we must remind ourselves that God is in control.  We don’t have to be the conductor for the orchestra that directs every instrument.  We have to be that one single instrument that plays that one part, and the conductor, God, will take care of the rest.

I worry about not having enough time for planning and organizing everything for our wedding.  I worry about not having a house yet.  The fear of the future causes my head to spin “what if this happens?” “what if that happens?”  About every imaginable fear and worry runs through my head.

But for what?

What it boils down to is a lack of trust in God’s plans for my future (Jeremiah 29:11.)

My fiancé B. and I have taken classes regarding fertility and cycles, and we’ve read about St. John Paul’s II’s Theology of the Body, and we have been living as single people.  We have read books on good marriages and gotten advice from fantastic couples, and have prayed so many prayers for our future marriage.  And still I have this fear of the future.  I have been charting and watching my cycles and trying to remember to take my vitamins, exercise when I can, etc.  I dream of having children and being a wife and mother.  Oftentimes when I think of being able to be a mother someday, it makes me cry just thinking about it – in a good way – because I want it so badly.  I pray that we can have children – children who are healthy, happy and holy.  I need to trust God.

B. and I, like every other couple on the planet, are not perfect.  We mis-communicate, misunderstand each other, and assume instead of talk through things.  I am afraid of the “honeymoon phase” wearing off and “getting used to” each other.  We don’t want to ever take each other for granted.  But we do forget to say and do those things that show each other how much we love and cherish each other.  Does that mean we are failures?  No.  It means that we are human.  And thankfully, we can step back, look at the situation after the fact, and laugh at ourselves. 

“We are clothed with strength and dignity, and we laugh without fear of the future.”

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A Testimony to courage and faith in the midst of suffering

24 Feb

My friend Catie and I have talked about the meaning of suffering, and we’ve talked about how we are each called to pick up our crosses joyfully and carry our crosses with love and generosity.  Catie kindly agreed to write a guest post on the meaning of suffering and how to carry our crosses joyfully. 

Let’s give Catie a big warm welcome!

On Enduring Suffering Joyfully:

Everyone suffers. Not a single person, thing or being is free from heartache, grief or pain. Each of us carry our pain in our own way. For some, the emotional pain that they carry is far greater than any physical pain…and yet there are others who feel the angst of physical pain daily, and thus willingly and cheerfully take up their cross. Regardless, pain is pain.

Toxicity spreads like wildfire.

At work, I have the tendency to get extremely frustrated with a few people on a fairly regular basis. Some say it is “learning to work with different personalities” and I just say they are inconsiderate individuals. On the surface, it appears they are just out to make my work day heck and they will do everything in their power to create more work for me. They stir the drama brew and it just perpetuates negativity which ripples like an atomic bomb hitting the ocean with just as bad repercussions. Negativity and sin is toxic and causes more suffering than we might want to recognize.

When we really get to know those we work with closely, we can gain so much understanding into how and why they act the way they do. (Praying for the Gifts of the Holy Spirit is a great way to start). In my circumstance, the individuals are never happy or satisfied with anything. They worry about things. They are complacent with their life being broken without seeking true means of healing. They would rather sit and sift in the negativity or situation rather than make a change. Change would require a lot of them so they just sit and deal with it. (Sounding familiar?) These individuals may or may not go to church. They may or may not recognize sins in the way that I have been taught. They may see them as minor things that have had trickle down effects and yet because they choose not to deal or handle their situations in such a way that asks God for true healing–they too continue to suffer.

Intimacy creates seeds for virtuous growth
You are able to gain compassion through this level of understanding as well. Most individuals that cause us pain and suffering are victims of pain and suffering too. Now, that doesn’t mean we have to share the wealth in that regard; if we personally identify what is causing us suffering (I know it is sin and separation from God) we can work on asking Jesus to heal us.
I have chosen to deal with my suffering more productively. God wouldn’t allow a cross to come if He wasn’t willing to share His Holy Grace to get me through it. How shallow I am to sift in my own misery…not acknowledge the mess that I have found myself in and complain about my coworkers making my life hell….I mean how dare they! How dare they!? Don’t they know how much pain this causes me? No. Usually they don’t. Usually they don’t realize that they are causing you so much grief. But that’s where I pause.
 “Poor Souls in Purgatory, Pray for me!”

We are not called to be complainers. We are called to take up our cross willingly and joyfully. We are not called to return the favor of inflicting pain or suffering in a vengeful sort either. We are called to love and forgive those who cause us grief. We are not called to take justice into our own hands. We are called to pray and forgive these individual.

As much as we complain about others, let’s shift our focus back to how this relates directly to our relationship with God the Father and Jesus the Son.

God’s Love is pure and unconditional

When God created the earth and everything surrounding His Goodness and Grace, He never intended us to be out of union with His Will and Goodness. God did love His creation so much that He gave us free will to chose our direction. Yeah, yeah yeah. We have all heard this before…NO. But stop and think about it! Unconditionally, “I will love you regardless if you choose me or not. I want you to choose to love me!” And even when we are incapable of returning such love…and even though we are so selfish…God doesn’t complain about it. God loves us even more.
So, we have this really REALLY great example of the purest of love there is towards us…and what do we choose to do about it? Do we choose to love Him back? Do we talk to Him, invest in Him, and tell Him how our day is? “God, I am hurting. I am weak. I am angry. I am in pain. I am stressed out! Jesus, give me the Grace to make it!”
God allows suffering and freedom of choice
In the midst of our suffering, we can either choose to take up our cross or not. We can choose to love these broken people. Or not. But, striving to always to love on these individuals is exactly what God does to us when we don’t choose His way. We cause God to suffer greatly through the course of our actions. Remember that the next time someone gives you grief. It is absolutely a game changer.
We are only human. We are never happy or satisfied with anything. We worry about things. We are complacent with our life being broken without seeking true means of healing. We would rather sit and sift in the negativity or situation rather than make a change. Change would require a lot of us so we just sit and deal with it. Don’t personally forget to ask for healing and peace!
Have the courage to find joy in your suffering. Pray fervently for those who offend you in hopes that they too have enough courage to allow themselves healing and peace. Never let a day drift by where you are not demonstrating the same love God gives us so generously. Live as God intended you to do so: joyfully carry your cross.

 

Catie is a born and raised Catholic woman living in northeast Indiana. She is a huge sports fan, loves her coffee and she enjoys good conversation. Catie also co-founder and contributor to a lifestyle blog anchordrop.org. Catch her on Twitter @BanditMetRoses and Instagram @catiemanninghair

 

A Valentine Love Story

15 Feb

Valentine’s Day has always been a fun day for me.  Getting pink and red valentine’s as a little girl was always so exciting.  Grade school through high school, my cousins, siblings, friends and I would make valentine’s for each other and send them in the mail.  It was thrilling to receive a big envelope in the mail stuffed with valentine’s decorated with cute pictures, hearts and the question, “Will YOU be my valentine?”

In college, valentine’s day was special, but a little awkward at times.  I wrote home when I could, and would write special notes to my friends on campus.  My mom knew that I didn’t have a boyfriend and that valentine’s day was a bit challenging for me.  As I saw classmates receive roses and go on lovely dates with their boyfriends, I sat and wondered when that would happen to me.  My dad wrote me notes telling me how much he loved me.  He said to keep smiling because it would make someone’s day 🙂

The awkwardness of valentine’s day in college rested on those random notes or single roses that I would find in my mailbox from a secret admirer.  One time I even got a personalized poem from a guy who apparently saw me around campus and possibly even in class, but I had no idea who it could have been, nor did I ever find out who the secret admirer was... (Awkward, but hey, I got cool poem :-) )

pink-heart

Those college days were special when I would receive a package from home, stuffed with letters and notes from my parents and siblings.  At the time, my youngest brother wrote me the most adorable notes and according to my mom, he would “claim” me for when I came home next (meaning, that he needed his special one-on-one sister play time.) These notes always made me cry, not because I was sad, but because I loved seeing how much my family loved me by this gesture of their love.  I knew they loved me, but the fact that they made me valentine’s and sent them to me while I was several states away, was one of my favorite things.  One valentine’s day in particular, I received a diamond necklace with matching earrings from my mom.  *gulp.*  Oh the love. (*sniffle!*)

Valentine’s day, for many, is simply just another day.  Flower shops and card-making company’s capitalize on this day.  I *could* just brush it off as just another day and write it off as just another cheesy day for spending money on your loved ones, but I can’t just brush it off.  The long-held tradition of making this a special day on which my family and I write little notes to each other or do something extra special for each other remains.

Valentine’s day still holds a special place in my heart.  Yes, I look back with fond memories on those college days and smile at my secret admirer(s) (whomever they were), and, yes, I continue to write love notes and do little acts of service for my loved ones.  Valentine’s day shouldn’t be limited to one day.  Every day should be valentine’s day.  We should show our love for each other every day.  How will you show your family, friends, neighbors and c0-workers your particular love for them this week?  Perhaps there is someone in particular who needs our patience and a little more care?  A little more kindness and a few more prayers?  Will you join me?

sacred-heart-of-jesus

Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor.  Never lack in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”

Quote of the Day for Monday

25 Jan

Crucifixion

“God is love. He loves and wants to be loved; it is the basic law of His being. To realize this is to find the solution to all our problems.”

(Emphasis my own.)

–Dom Augustin Guillerand, The Prayer of the Presence of God

 

 

 

Mourning in hope

9 Jan

I’ve been in shock since Thursday.  A family that I know lost their daughter, Christy, in a tragic car accident.  She was only a year older than me.  She was in her car, stopped at a stop light, and a semi that did not see her vehicle, hit her car and she died instantly.

The news of this tragedy came to me while I was at work on Thursday morning.  I had just gotten out of a morning meeting.  I got back to my desk and checked my phone.  And there the news of her death hit me like a tidal wave.  I felt like I was in a daze.  I walked to the restroom where I stood in shock, and then sat to the ground and cried, asking God why.  I couldn’t get through the day without crying nearly every time I thought of Christy and her family.

My family has been connected to Christy’s family for some time.  When I was in junior high/ high school, I was in the same youth group as Christy’s older brother.  When I was in grade school, I was pen pals with one of her cousins.  I remember going to her house when her brother had a group of friends over, and their parents came out to the back yard where we were hanging out and joined in on our conversations for a while.  Over the past year or so, my mom has worked with Christy’s dad at a local Catholic radio station.  We weren’t close, but we were connected.

I still cannot believe that she is gone.  A wonderful woman has left this earth in the blink of an eye.  My heart ACHES.  I’ve been crying as I lay in bed each night.  I cannot imagine the grief that her family is experiencing.  I am stunned and shocked and honestly upset.  I don’t understand God’s plan.  But I know that God’s plan is Almighty.  I don’t need to understand his plan, even though it makes me ask Him “why??”   Even though the hurt and the grief are immeasurably deep, I must trust and hope and pray.  Because God’s plan is a mystery – not meant to always be understood.

During this time of grief I have thought a lot about life and how fragile it is.  Our frustrations and fears cannot and should not be what motivate us, but rather our motivation must be Faith and trust and love.  God cares for our well-being and that of our family and friends and will never abandon us.

We are not to live in scrupulosity, but we are to live in joy, generosity, and hope.

How much we have!  How much we are to be thankful for!  Even on the days that seem overwhelming, and we are lonely, or sick, or discouraged.

Life is still good.

Life is still beautiful.

And there is still hope.

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