Monthly Archives: March 2012

#26 – As Time Goes By (AKA Stream of Consciousness)

Have you ever felt that time was leaving you behind?

I’ve been feeling that way a lot lately, and, I mean, there’s a lot going on lately that makes me feel old.

I was having a conversation with my sister yesterday where she said she really wants to be a vet. I said to her, “Eight years from now when you are at the U, you have to track down Dr. Gomez and you have to become his favorite, because he’s my favorite.” And then it hit me that eight years from now my little sister will be going to COLLEGE. I know it is a LONG time from now, but I mean eight years ago I was wrapping up my freshman year of high school…and that seems like yesterday.

I’ve been out of college for almost one year… May 29th is LESS THAN TWO MONTHS AWAY. I KNOW that God has a plan for me… and I have no idea what it is, and I’m getting nervous because I thought his plan would involve me, you know, starting life a little sooner than one year after I’m out of college.

No matter what… God has a plan for each and every one of us, whether that plan adheres to our schedule or not. 🙂

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#25: May We Know the GOOD that Lies Ahead

This weekend is one of those weekends… one of those weekends when I walk around in a bummish mood, when it’s easier to lay in bed and contemplate nothing than it is to get up and take a walk. Maybe it’s the gray Moscow air that’s doing it to me… maybe it’s life in general… maybe it’s that every-so-often weird feeling I get when I see friends gearing up to be married, having kids, enjoying love, beginning new romances while I sit here finding it difficult to meet anyone. Maybe it’s that tomorrow is my last Confirmation class of the year… my kids are ready to go and “take the plunge” into being young adults in the Catholic Church, and I’ve really enjoyed our time together and am sad to see it end.

I feel these negative feelings are in tune with the season of Lent. Lent is by far the most “negative” season of the Liturgical calendar. We look at Jesus Christ performing his miracles, doing his thing, etc. but he is submerged in an ocean of negativity. He feels alone, feels like nobody cares about his story or where he comes from or WHO HE IS. He is led in on Palm Sunday and we learn about his being sentenced to death. For what? For being Him. 

But we know what’s to come on the Third Day. We know what happens when the tomb is opened on Easter Sunday morning. We know what is seen (or, really, more importantly, what is not seen). We know that things are bigger and better than we imagine them to be, or than we ever thought they would be. 

NEVER FORGET WHAT GOOD COULD COME!… As 20-something-year-olds, fresh out of school, in such a negative world, in such a negative economy, it becomes easy to think about what we don’t have, not what we do have. We are capable of so much.  

#24: Slow Down

On Monday, my Mister* woke up sick and I spent the day taking care of him. Tuesday, I caught the same thing (though not as severe, luckily). As the virus made its last grand attempt to overtake me last night, I got that awful sensation of fluid in the sinuses that always makes me feel like I’m under water. (You know, when a big Jersey wave knocks you upside down and squirts seawater up your nose? Am I the only one stupid enough to let that happen?)  Anyway, that got a song suck in my head that I probably hadn’t heard in years– Slow Down by Paulson. I found it on youtube and listened to it before I fell asleep. If you’re not familiar, have a listen:
Slow Down by Paulson

I’m so glad that my random word association brought me to this song, because it hit me on two different levels.

First, as I’ve mentioned before, I felt distant and disconnected from God for a very long time, and I’m just beginning to surface from that spiritual murkiness. It really did mess with my sense of time and age, leaving me in retrospect with the feeling that “I just survived” and wasn’t really living. I was trying to “save myself”  and of course that’s neither necessary nor even possible. The growing realization that I’m really not alone, that I can learn once again to float on God’s plans for me instead of sinking in my own attempts to plan, is truly stunning. But in my relationship with God, I fully intend to rush things and grow closer to Him as fast as possible.

The song speaks in a different way to my relationship with my Mister. I don’t want to get too mushy or too personal, so let it suffice to say that we are both deeply committed to one another and he really could be the one. Because of that, I really relate to the feeling that “nothing else matters now”. I’m grateful for the reminder in this song that even so, we need to take our time in order to do things right. Love and lust really do coexist sometimes, but they’re ultimately incompatible. Either one will eventually drive out the other if it takes control long enough. I always thought of lust as a very overt, kind of creepy sexuality, but in a committed relationship, it seems to be a lot more subtle than that. It’s about wanting more intimacy and sooner than what chastity allows. Basically, it feels a lot like the temptation to break your Lenten fast before Easter. So, taking a cue from the song’s title, I’m sending up a prayer for patience tonight. If I truly believe that God wants to unite me in marriage with another soul (I do), then I’d better give Him the time and space to prepare my heart for that lifelong bond beforehand. True love really can sweep a girl off her feet, but no love is stronger than the Love that called us into being. God, grant us the patience and fidelity to commit our hearts to You fully before binding them to one another. May we always keep our minds, hearts, and whole beings pure for You. Amen.

*I can’t think of a fitting pseudonym for my boyfriend. My grandmom always used to ask me “How’s your mister?”, and since he never got to meet her before she passed away, Mister seems fitting to me.

I want to congratulate a personal friend and fellow blogger, LC, on receiving not one, but two job offers in two days!!  If you haven’t already, check out her blog:

http://justsimplystated.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/269/

It is just more proof that God gives us opportunities exactly when we need them and knows us inside and out as well as what we need most!

 

Also, on a less religious note, but equally as essential for a fulfilling and healthy life, another friend began a nutrition blog…check it out:

http://nutritiontipsforkids.blogspot.com/

It says it’s for kids, but it’s basic nutritional information and who doesn’t need to know what’s good for them?

 

God Bless,

*z*

#23 The Truth About Me

Just now I was about to start this post and I made a sudden movement and got a cramp in my foot that was way too painful but just as I opened my mouth to scream, all that came out was laughter…I’ve never had that experience before and it was strange, but I just kept laughing until the pain went away and I feel like it may have even helped…just throwing this out there, I absolutely hate pain and so the only way I could possibly laugh during it would be with God’s help…sometimes, He confuses me…but He definitely takes away the pain!

As some of you are well aware, I have had a recent obsession with the singer Mandisa (okay, still ongoing).  Well I bought her CD a few weeks back when I was in Ohio and at first didn’t put it on my phone right away because I was busy listening to all my Boyce Avenue to get pumped for their concert and then I just had other stuff to do…sort of silly busy schedule stuff really, but I finally put her CD on my phone and (since I have an office to myself almost every day) began to listen to the CD at work.  The CD title is What if we were real (another amazing song) and I recommend it to anyone and everyone because the messages in the songs are amazing!!  You may see a few more of her songs on here while I’m still on this kick (probably Monday…?) but for now, I really fell in love with this song and needed to share it!!

In The Truth About Me, Mandisa has a sort of conversation with God, struggling to see herself in His eyes, knowing that if she could appreciate herself, she would better appreciate the God who created her.  I know at least I struggle with this, but putting it to words is just awesome and this is very well done…okay I’ll let you read and then I will discuss further 🙂

If only I could see me as You see me

And understand the way that I am loved

Would it give a whole new meaning to my purpose?

Change the way I see the world?

Would I sparkle like a star in the night sky?

Would I give a little more instead of take?

If I understood I’m precious like a diamond

Of a worth no one could estimate

I’m a worth no one could estimate

You say lovely, I say broken

I say guilty, you say forgiven

I feel lonely

You say You’re with me

We both know

It would change everything

If only I believed

The truth about me

I wish I could hold on to the moments

When my life is spinning, but I’m peaceful still

Like a wind, You whisper into the silence

And tell me things this world never will

You tell me things this world never will

You say lovely, I say broken

I say guilty, you say forgiven

I feel lonely

You say You’re with me

We both know

It would change everything

If only I believed

The truth about me

I would sleep better at night

Wake up with hope for another day

I would love even if it cost me

Take a chance, and know I’m gonna be ok

I would dare to give my life away

OOOOOOO

I feel lonely

You say You’re with me

We both know

It would change everything

If only I believed

If only I believed

The truth about me

The whole song focuses around what life would be like if we could see ourselves as God sees us.  Everything we would do differently, what it might be like…but it also reveals something about God’s nature to come to us in the silence.  Just when we think we are farthest from an answer, He comes to us and “whispers into the silence”, telling us things “this world never will”.  Gosh that just really made me realize how much we depend on each other for what we should depend on God for!  But it also says to me, no matter what anyone else says or thinks, following God’s will is so much more important!  We could sit around forever waiting for someone to tell us what to do, but God already knows what we will do, what we should do!  He prompts us to continue His will, and sometimes we don’t hear, others we ignore it, but as a fellow blogger pointed out a few days ago (http://faithfullyflawed.com/2012/03/27/but-i-dont-wanna/), we can’t continue to avoid His will, eventually, for whatever reason, we will bend to it.  He has His reasons, we need to trust Him.

Plenty of people have trouble with trusting, but trusting God should be easy.  Should.

Now for my absolute FAVORITE part:

You say lovely, I say broken

I say guilty, you say forgiven

There!  There it is!  A simple conversation with God and all is revealed, He truly loves us by forgiving us and making us whole!  In fact, we are already whole in His eyes!  Man, I just can’t get over this line, I just kept singing it over and over again today because sometimes we feel so broken, but God only sees us as “lovely” because how can we be anything but when we are created by Him?  Also, the simple line of confessing our guilt and being forgiven is classic Reconciliation.  So maybe this line stands out so much because it’s Lent and that sacrament is so present, but it is just so amazing and refreshing to know that we can be totally forgiven of our sins because God loves us so much.  The rest of the chorus is great too:

I feel lonely

You say You’re with me

We both know

It would change everything

If only I believed

The truth about me

It is so comforting to know that God is with us especially at times when we feel so alone.  The last line is particularly frustrating to me because how can I know the truth about me?  How can I know who I am in God’s eyes and what is my truth?  I can’t fathom it, but maybe, one day, I will be able to see…maybe.

God Bless,

*Zoey*

#22 – Discovery During a Self-Imposed Exile

Cherie recently posted an insightful reflection on “Roll Away Your Stone” intertwining addiction, discovery, and redemption. I strongly suggest reading her piece (or revisiting it). Her words allowed my mind to wander inward enough so to spark my first entry in a long while. I’m sure this pleases my fellow writers.

Some close friends know that I take great pleasure in listening to the radio. I find that my daily commute is ideal for reflection while exploring new music on my local independent radio station. For the past few weeks a particular song has haunted me. Bon Iver, a folk group, released “Holocene”, a song that has received praise and noticeable airplay. Without Cherie’s post I would not have considered writing about this song. Deliberately I avoided interviews with the group and the interpretations of fans.

After neglecting to follow through on a commitment, or forgetting a task, there is no worse feeling than being reminded of that particular broken promise.

The little shortcomings and great failures both nag one’s confidence. For a moment we question ourselves. If left unchecked theses cracks in confidence could potentially send fissures deep into one’s sense of self worth. And then we feel as if we have drifted away into uncomfortable territory, far away from familiar waters. We feel alone.

In the lovely refrain, Bon Iver describes these realizations of inadequacy as instantaneous:

“…at once I knew I was not magnificent
strayed above the highway aisle
(jagged vacance, thick with ice)
I could see for miles, miles, miles”

How do we regain our confidence after it has been shaken? Some people dive into favorite activities (like escaping to radio land). But only by facing the reasons why broke our word, and then taking steps to address them, can return on the path toward regaining one’s self-confidence and sense of worth.

Lent provides us with opportunities to voluntarily subject ourselves to various instances of loneliness. Knowing that many Catholics spend this season exploring their own lives and hopefully making needed improvements, we can take comfort in knowing that we really are not alone in encountering our foibles.

The video:

 

What Love Really Means – JJ Heller

What Love Really Means – JJ Heller

As I was driving home, this came on the radio.  It occurred to me that I couldn’t possibly be the only one touched by this song and that really, we should all take a listen and feel His Love embracing us as He calls us to Himself during this Lenten experience:

I wish for you all to take from this what you need to tonight.

God Bless,

*z*

 

Lyrics:

He cries in the corner where nobody sees
He’s the kid with the story
No one would believe
He prays every night
“Dear God won’t you please
Could you send someone here
Who will love me?”

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done
Or what I will become
Who will love me for me
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means

Her office is shrinking a little each day
She’s the woman whose husband has run away
She’ll go to the gym after working today
Maybe if she was thinner
Then he would’ve stayed
And she says…

Who will love me for me
Not for what I have done
Or what I will become
Who will love me for me
‘Cause nobody has shown me what love
What love really means
What love really means

He’s waiting to die as he sits all alone
He’s a man in a cell who regrets what he’s done
He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
“Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home”

Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
And it said,
“I know you’ve murdered and I know you’ve lied
And I have watched you suffer all of your life
And now that you’ll listen I’ll, I’ll tell you that I…

“I will love you for you
Not for what you have done
Or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew
Love you for you
Not for what you have done
Or what you will become
I will love you for you
I will give you the love
The love that you never knew”

#21 – Speaking Truth to Power

If you haven’t read jtroutman’s previous post, check it out. I’m so glad he brought up this issue; I hate talking politics, I really do, but it’s times like these that we need to speak out and defend the Church as our mother and present these truths to a nation that desperately needs to hear them.

I found this talk by Gloria Purivs an awesome explanation of the reasons that the Church has women’s interests at heart, while the contraception mandate supporters that claim to be for “women’s rights” are actually at war with the true nature of women and humanity. Check it out:

It makes sense. Look at the pro-choice/pro-contraception groups’ role models– who are they? Margaret Sanger, the eugenicist who founded the organization that became Planned Parenthood, is a racist individual who the current PP supporters don’t mention. The Church, with their all-male priesthood that so infuriates many feminists, holds up the Blessed Mother as the greatest of all the saints, and celebrates her as a woman in her divine Motherhood. Who actually provides critical needs to all types of women: from young girls to mothers to old women, from providing food and education to the poor globally, to meeting the financial and emotional needs of women who have been rejected from their partners and families for getting pregnant, to every situation imaginable? Catholics worldwide make the world a better place for women, and right now, we’re trying to do that in our own backyards by refusing to offer them a spiritual poison and call it medicine. If someone calls you misogynistic for standing with the bishops and the Church, ask them if they’ve ever heard the Salve Regina. Now that’s girl power 🙂

#20: May Those Who Live in Darkness See the Light!

As the Fifth Sunday of Lent has passed, we begin a transition into a darkness that is soon to be followed by light. The story shifts from understanding the temptations of Jesus and the miracles he performed that prove to the non-believers (who, I believe it was Charlie’s friends in Charlie the Unicorn encouraged us to shun) that he truly is the Son of God. Over the last two Sundays, I have listened to the Gospel account of the raising of Lazarus and the curing of the blind man, two Gospel passages that truly show Jesus the miracle-worker. 

But now, we move closer to the darkness, and we shift into Palm Sunday, listening to the Passion account where Jesus was brought into Jerusalem to confront his fate. 

As twenty-somethings in today’s society who are in tune with our own understanding of the Gospel, I feel at times we exist in the darkness that is Jesus’s persecution. Especially now, we seem to be on the dark end, the unpopular end, of a great debate in our society. Recently, pressure has been put on our Congresspersons to provide contraceptives to women free of charge and free of co-payment, and that this coverage must be available to all women, even those who work for the Church. Now, something like this directly opposes Church doctrine. 

As the book of Genesis states:

“Judah said to Onan, ‘Go in to your brother’s wife, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law to her, and raise up offspring for your brother.’ But Onan knew that the offspring would not be his; so when he went in to his brother’s wife he spilled the semen on the ground, lest he should give offspring to his brother. And what he did was displeasing in the sight of the Lord, and he slew him also” (Gn 38:8-10)

So, we have this Church doctrine. Put it together with a single statement from the First Amendment of the United States Constitution: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” 

I REST MY CASE. WHY IS THERE EVEN DEBATE ON THIS????? Forcing a religious institution to provide something which directly goes against one of its fundamental elements is obviously prohibiting the free exercise of said religion.

May we continue to be strong even as our political leaders prove to be weak. May they, who are stuck in the darkness that is the modern society in which we live, see the light and truly realize what needs to be done in our world. 

 

PS. WE’RE HALFWAY THERE WITH <2 WEEKS TO GO.

#19 God Works in Mysterious Ways

This afternoon I came home to my mom getting ready to go for a walk/jog.  She was waiting for my sister to get home and invited me to come too.  I wasn’t really feeling it and I had just bought some new stuff at the supermarket (hair stuff and the like) that I was putting away.  So my sister gets home and they’re all ready to go when I suddenly decide I want to go too (I know, I’m a little last minute and indecisive).  Mind you, I haven’t worked out in like a month (unless you count a few hours of baseball last weekend but since there was no running bases, I do not), so I guess that’s what motivated me to decide to go.  Well I just said go without me and I’ll see you out there (my dad said “she’ll catch up” but I denied that ever happening…).

So I headed out jogging and walking (surprising myself at how much I was jogging) towards the 55+ community a few developments down that has a footpath-ish.  I ran into my sister coming home before I even got to the development (typical) but I figured I’d go the opposite way we usually do so I would run into my mom and just come home with her.  Well that was my intent, but of course God had other plans.  I ended up running into a couple that goes to my church walking their dogs! I had actually been introduced to him this morning at mass and he looked at me and said my name “…right?”  It was so nice to see my new faith community outside of church and we had a conversation for a bit and I watched my mom walk by.  It’s so funny how things turn out and as cliche’ as it sounds, God really does work in mysterious ways!  I had been wanting a nice faith community and going to mass has brought me closer to other people in my church, even if we’ve never spoken.  This was only the second conversation I’ve had with him, and the first with her, but when you pray together daily, you already sort of feel like you know each other.  Also, I swear, if you’re looking for the nicest people around, a good place to start is daily mass. Everyone is SO friendly!!

Also, this is the second Friday in a row that I’ve seen someone from daily mass outside of church (which, who knows what would have happened if I’d been home the two Fridays before instead of out of state!)!!  It’s just these instances that we must realize that God is present all around us.

After mostly jogging the road between the developments, I started my cool-down as I entered my development and eventually slowed to a nice stroll where I reflected on all these things.  It was so lovely, and for someone who isn’t the first to go exercise, I think I may be going walk/jogging more often!

Well, I hope everyone’s Lent is going well!  Don’t forget, it’s Friday, so no meat!!  (I was too late for a friend that forgot so I thought I’d try and help out the rest of y’all!)  Also, send prayers my way for the Young Adult Ministry starting in my church, along with the Ministry Expo we’re having this weekend after all masses!!

God Bless,

*Zoey*