I Don’t Understand

One of life’s most difficult struggles is acceptance without understanding.

There are many things in our lives going on right now that honestly don’t make sense.

Why did I mess up in this class?

Why did he or she break up with me?

Why do I have mental illness?

Why do I have cancer?

The list goes on and on…

Abandoning ourselves to God’s will is the key to the Christian life.

We all seem to wish God’s will aligned with our will.

Basically, we all want understanding.

If I’m going to suffer through x I want to know the reason for it.

As Christian’s we plead to God with anxious prayers.

Show me a sign Lord.

Help me to understand.

Let me see why.

And most times we feel like an answer does not come.

The reason being, God is telling us to trust him.

Like an infant trusts a father to pick them up and carry them, so must we trust Jesus in this way.

It seems so passive, so simple. Yet, I believe abandonment is more active than we realize. We must continuously choose to let go of our will for our life and trust the flow of God’s grace.

This takes some grit.

So keep moving forward without a clear understanding.

That is OKAY.

If you seek His Kingdom above all else, everything will fall into place.

This is a promise.

I Hear, But I’m Not Listening

We all have those fears.

Fears that seem to rest in our ears, which play over and over again as if we put them on repeat.

They impact us. They cause our skin to crawl. Our blood pressure to rise. And worst of all they paralyze our limbs and make us feel inadequate.

The other day I came across a quote attributed to one of my favorite spiritual guides St. Padre Pio. I feel as though I am meant to share it with you all.

“You need to act according to this guideline without hesitation or argument. You need to move ahead, doing your work without listening to the voice of your fears. Note, I said listen, that is, to give heed to, to pay attention to, and so on. I am not saying hear because it is impossible not to hear those fears, but do not pay attention to any of them.”

It’s a difficult task. To hear the fears so clearly yet refuse to listen. When we hear the fears we feel as though they are a part of us. Our physiology is impacted so we immediately fall into the trap of dwelling on them.

Friends, I encourage you today to allow the fears to be there but refuse to give them any value. Step forward confidently knowing that Our Lord is with you even when you do not feel His presence.

Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
    for his name’s sake.
Even though I walk
    through the darkest valley,
I will fear no evil,
    for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
    they comfort me.

 

Run with my Father

I was sitting at the airport yesterday waiting to board my flight. I was eating God’s chosen food, aka Chick-fil-A.

I noticed a man and his young son (maybe 3 or 4) running. His son was giggling as he chased after his dad.

A couple minutes later I saw them return, but this time they were walking.

The boy had his face glued to a phone screen.

The father then started motioning for his son to come follow him and started running again.

However, the son was not paying attention. He just continued to walk.

The father started waving his son onward and jogging but his son still did not notice.

Eventually, the son looked up at his father, smiled, and started to running as fast as he could after him.

 

As I dunked my fries into some great sauces, I started thinking about how this is exactly like my relationship, our relationship, with Our Father in Heaven. Many times we are on fire for the Lord. We are running after Him with all of our hearts in pursuit of His will for our lives.

However, we all have distractions just within our fingertips.

Our phones, our technology, our work, our up and down emotions, and especially our sins.

All of these, will cause us to act like this boy looking down at the screen and not seeing his father call him to move forward.

The beautiful thing to remember is that God is always before us waving us onward.

No matter how long we stand there walking and not recognizing the path we are on, He will continue to wait for us to start running with Him again.

Friends, I encourage you today to continue running with the Father.

When you catch yourself slowing down, remember the finish line will appear before you know it.

Be steadfast and look upon him for strength.

Run with a smile on your face and hope in your heart.

 

Why I Love Her

Relationships teach you a lot about yourself.

The good one’s teach you about where you fall short and what to do about it.

A solid relationship is built on growth.

Not on personal growth, but on helping the other to be the best version of themselves.

A year and a half ago I was blessed to start dating someone who would do just that for me. Someone who has killed off my vices day after day.

Most of all, she has brought me closer to my King.

Reminding me of His goodness, in every single moment.

Here are 3 reasons why I love her.

Hopefully, you have found or will find someone that can love you in this way.

1.Christ in everything

I had a tendency. To get uncomfortable when Jesus is brought up in conversation’s that are not really about religion. Give me a beer or a coffee and a table and I can talk theology all day and night. However, when asked about my day I never seem to bring up what God has done for me. It was uncomfortable for me to recognize Christ in the littlest of moments. Why? Because I was hiding from the reality. The reality that my prayer life needed changing. The reality that my focus needed shifting. The reality that life was not all about me. She reminds me daily that the words of the mouth, come from the heart.

2. Smile Through the Pain

Life is hard. Most days I have fishing weights attached to either side of my lips, preventing my smile. She taught me to smile in all circumstances. To be even more grateful in the pain. To be transformed by the joy that is God. We are called to rejoice always. Always. In all circumstances. It is a skill as well as a virtue. One must foster the gift of gratitude.

3. Unconditional Acceptance

I have a lot of flaws. I might need a whole room of people to count on their fingers and toes. I am human flaws and all. However, the feeling of inadequacy runs deep in my core. She reminds me daily that no matter how much I mess up I am stilled loved. This unites me with the message spoken through the Gospel that I always neglect to hear. God loves me unconditionally. He cares for me. He always accepts me as I am.

If you are just starting a relationship or looking for someone I encourage you to seek an individual with these qualities. Someone who makes everything about God, proclaims gratitude, and accepts you unconditionally.

Now, it is your turn.

To do the same.

Happy 1.5 B

Confusion Prayer

The confusion which you face is the clarity that you

need to abandon yourself to Christ. For in the turmoil

of the moment, He reaches out and grabs you hand. In

delusion He remains Truth alone. In the fear, He is

security. In the restlessness and trembling, it is a call to

let Him take you under His arm. For we are all just

nomads on this earth when we do not have Him, but

our adventure reaches completion when we are ever

present with Him. Jesus, we give you our turmoil so that

it does not prevent us from walking beside You. The

heaviness and fortress of our fears will turn to dust

when we press forth our drooping eyes and stare at

your Loving Heart.

Don’t Look Back

How many times in your day do you look back?

I’m not talking as you backup out of your parking spot.

How many times in your day, do you think about the past?

It might be the immediate past.

Questioning ourselves like:

Did I say what I needed to say?

Was that weird?

Did I get that question right on the test?

Why did they humiliate me like that?

Scanning the past in such a way is pure rumination.

The majority of the time it does absolutely no good at all.

It solves nothing and just leads to anxiety, uncertainty, and confusion.

In the Gospel of Luke Christ explains what to do about what we have left behind in time.

“Jesus said, No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”-Luke 9:62

 

In this passage Christ tells us that in order to move forward we have but one choice. Stop turning our heads back to our past and focus solely on the work to be done in the future. Uncertainty and fear about the past is a weapon the devil uses very slyly. The enemy is like someone tapping you on the shoulder so you are forced to turn around. You feel the tap and out of instinct begin to ruminate.

The difference rests in the choice. The choice to tighten our grip on the plow and focus on doing everything to reach the kingdom of God.

Not all looking back is bad.

Reflection differs from rumination.

In reflection we are able to look back on what we have done or how we have been hurt in the past and make a choice. In reflection we are looking back to gain a greater understanding, which pushes us forward.

Trench, Twenty One Pilots new album (which is awesome btw), touches a bit on rumination.

In the song “Cut My Lip” we are told,

Though I am bruised, face of contusions
Know I’ll keep movin’, know I’ll keep movin’

We do not need to look back at what has given us the bruises.

We need; however, to keep moving.

The lyrics continue…

I keep on goin’ back

Even though it’s me I abuse

How true is this?

The rumination needs to stop and a surge of zeal for the future needs to be the goal.

So, this week.

As the past creeps up and taps you on the shoulder.

Don’t respond.

Keep your hands on the plow.

Focus on the Kingdom.

Even though the bruises hurt, the cuts are deep, the sweat is stinging your eyes….

Don’t look back.

You Can Run and Bleed at the Same Time

I just started my run.

My test was in a few days.

47 chapters of material.

Yes, 47.

My head was full of a lot besides medical jargon.

Emotions of stress, anger, frustration, flooded my veins.

So, naturally it was time to blow off some steam and run.

Run fast.

Towards the start of my run, I could feel the adrenaline pumping.

Then all of a sudden.

Ouch.

I didn’t know what happened. Did I trip?

Why  was  I on the ground?

I looked at my hands and they were covered in blood. My right elbow was scraped pretty clean. My right knee had a gash as well.

What do I do now?

I had a choice at this point. Should I finish the two mile run, or head back home which would take a minute or two?

Keep going. 

So I did. And I ran the two miles.

As cars passed me, they watched a guy running full speed with blood dripping from each limb.

When I finished the run, I noticed how the blood dripped across the ring on my right hand that is the three theological virtues, “faith, hope, love.” It was a reminder that in order to live a Christ like life we must make sacrifices.

One of the coolest moments I had during this run was the message from God,

You can run and bleed at the same time.”

I have a bad habit.

I seem to notice the blood in my life a lot. The wounds, the scars, the trauma, and the fears become my focus. Because of this I stop running (living presently). I focus so much on the blood in my wounds that I end up not achieving my goal. I allow the suffering (bleeding) of the day to take lead and cause a pause in my pursuit.

I am sure many of you experience the same problem. Our wounds become our identity and our only reality, so we forget the importance of the path we are on. We allow the devil to consume us in an inner dialogue that prevents us from loving those around us in the present moment.

I want to encourage you to not let the suffering of this life deter you from running the race.

Focus on Christ at the end of your journey and the pain will start to disappear.

Sure, the wounds may still be there.B

But these are wounds only Heaven can heal.

When the focus changes…

so does your heart.

Are you giving it your all?

“Are you giving it your all?”

This question comes up during many different times in my day.

When I’m studying…am I really giving this my all?

When I’m working out…am I really giving this my all?

When I’m at Church…am I really giving this my all?

When I’m talking to a family member…am I really giving this my all?

A lot of the times, this question arises because I am not. I notice that I am losing focus and procrastinating. When working out for instance, I notice myself choosing the lighter weight or taking a different path on the run.

To be honest, this question plagues me.

This might be you too?

There are many positives to being bombarded with this question.

Like, the hope of improvement.

Or, the constant search to be like Christ in virtue and love.

However, the flip side is many vices can dwell in this thought.

When giving it your all, is focused solely on you, it may transform into pride.

As usual, the Big Man Upstairs, gives us an answer to the question.

This is what Mark’s Gospel teaches us:

“He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.” Mark 12: 41-44

What can we learn from this?

This poor woman, in her poverty, gave all she had. Notice, the Lord mentions her poverty? We too like this women are poor. Maybe not financially, but what about the poverty of our daily life.

The poverty of focus.

The poverty of endurance.

The poverty of zeal.

Christ teaches us that when we give our all in these moments of poverty, we are giving even more than if we had abundance.

We must remember; however, that our “giving” must be aligned towards Christ and not ourselves.

So when you can’t focus and you just want to put that book down, offer the moment up to Christ and continue reading.

When you don’t want to run that extra mile, offer the moment to Christ and continue running.

When you are having trouble focusing in Church, redirect your eyes to Christ and allow Him to fill you even if just for a millisecond.

Friends, you can give it your all, if you give it to Him.

The Fear Paradox

Fear has been on my mind a lot the last couple of weeks. I’ve been reflecting on how much of my life is not “lived” because I am afraid. The interesting thing about fear is that we may not even notice when we are being fearful. It has us chained and yet we do not even realize that our hands are tied and our feet are bound.

I don’t like that idea and I am sure you don’t either.

What gets me a little bit more worked up is the very fact that fear is not of God.

Constantly in the Bible and by the words of really wise spiritual leaders that fear is in fact from the devil. Fear is preventing us from doing the will of God. It is the devils greatest tool. How many times are we told to “be not afraid.”

We are told constantly.

Of course we are human. We are subject to fearful emotions, battles of the day, pain and misfortune. However, is there a choice to be afraid?

While reflecting on fear I thought of St.Mother Teresa’s quote,

“I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.”

 

What about the paradox of fear?

By fearing loneliness, many of us hide away creating our own prison cells.

By fearing hurting others, we avoid those we love and hurt them by mere omission.

By fearing failure in our classes, we are paralyzed and do not study, leading to failure.

The evil in this world is using fear to cause us to create our own downfall. The demons cannot harm us. The devil has no power over us. However, evil is constantly seeking to manipulate our free will. Evil is doing everything it can do to cause us to destroy ourselves.

You will feel afraid. 

Just like Daniel in the lions den.

I am sure the lions did not just leave him alone down there.

I’m sure they still growled, still showed off their shiny teeth.

I’m sure they walked around him and sniffed him pushy him back with their noses.

But through it all, Daniel trusted in God and waited.

I encourage you all today to stare fear in the face. Allow it to growl and shout at you. Let it whisper lies into your ears. Allow it to show you the doom.

And in the midst of it all….puff out your chest.

Smile.

Rise up.

The Lord is here. He is ever present. You are His child.

Be not afraid.

Walk upon the water during the storm, keeping your eyes ALWAYS fixed on him.

 

 

***Thank you all for your constant support. If you want to get notified when I post be sure to follow this blog 🙂

5 Things Changing My Life

I wanted to talk today about a few things I have started doing that are changing my life for the better.

1.The Practice of the Presence of God

This is based off of the work by Brother Lawrence. Basically, I have constantly been reminding myself in the present moment that God is with me right now. RIGHT HERE AND NOW. All so often we live in the past or the future. Many saints describe this and talk to us about the very fact that God’s grace does not cover our “imagined future” that is why it seems so scary!

My favorite quote:

St. Augustine said,

“Trust the Past to God’s mercy, the present to His Love, and the future to His Providence.”

 

2.Inner Mortification

When people talk about mortification they focus on fasting. However, inner mortification can be very powerful in drawing you closer to the will of God. Basically, I have been focusing on imaginal/memory mortification. What this means is when you catch yourself day dreaming or making up scenarios in your head you recognize it and stop yourself. Stop yourself before you get stuck in your own mental hole. This could be about something stressful like a test at school. When you notice yourself getting lost in doubt and confusion, stop, take a breath, and refocus on living in the present moment with God. You can also do mortification with memory. Many people have a past that is filled with fears and sadness. When you catch yourself living that moment over again and again, recognize it, give it to Jesus, and refocus on what you are to be doing in this moment.

3.Morning Prayer

Wake up. Stretch for a second. And then get down on your knees in front of a picture of Christ you admire. Open the Bible up. Pray the Jesus Prayer. Simply talk to your Father. Ask for guidance, protection, courage, trust, all throughout the day. I can assure you even a brief 10 minutes will change you forever. When you feel bored, when you feel like your prayer is futile, stay there longer. Pray even harder.

4. No Phone till later

Don’t touch your phone in the morning. Pray. Shower. Get dressed. Each breakfast with no external stimuli. Sip your coffee with God by your side. We are so prone to distracting ourselves constantly. We are prisoners of our own minds. Use your morning as a foundation for the rest of your day.

5. Notice Sorrow and Smile

When you catch yourself obsessed with the negatives, recognize it. Don’t get upset about it. Then smile. Think of the positives in the moment. Think of what you are grateful for. Think of how you can serve God in the moment. Think of those you love. Think about how you can be a light instead of a darkness for the world. Do this every single time. Every time. Flood your mind with the thoughts of God. This is a major component in your spiritual battle. The enemy wants nothing more than to discourage you on your walk with God.

Try these 5 out over the next few weeks and let me know how it works out for you. I have a feeling, actually I know, God will send you a wave of peace and security. Love you all.