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.

Here is the truth.

Lately, I’ve been praying.

A pretty simple prayer.

“God, allow me to see the truth of who I am. Help me see myself the way You see me.”

Some people may never pray this prayer.

They may fully grasp they are a child of the One True King. They may understand that God died for them. They may see the beauty before they see their scars.

I am not one of those people. I lived in the illusion that I was for a long time. I didn’t see myself in the light of His eyes. I was persuaded by fears and failures to view myself through a clouded lens.

Today, specifically, God answered this prayer. For a moment, though brief, I believe I saw myself as He sees me.

I was sitting on the airport floor. It was in New York. The terminal was hot. There were people everywhere. My blood sugar was for sure low. I felt consumed by anxiety. I felt overwhelmed. I felt drained of everything.

Then out of nowhere came this probably 1.5 year old child. The kid wobbled through all these people. She looked at me and stopped dead in her tracks. All of a sudden her eyes lit up. She smiled from ear to ear and giggled. Time froze for a second for me. In that moment I knew that is exactly how my God views me. Just as that child saw me.

Friends, you may see your faults before your successes. You may feel lost at sea every single day. You may feel overwhelmed and consumed by your negative self talk, anxiety, depression, fears, etc. I encourage you to pray this simple prayer. Allow your current vision of yourself fade. Soon He will send you moments where, even if only for a second, you will see the truth of who you are.

Hiccups for Jesus

A few morning’s ago I was struck with a tragedy: hiccups that would not go away.

I don’t know what it was about these hiccups, but they were intense.

You know, the kind that like shakes your whole body?

They were obnoxiously loud, and echoed through my house (my sleeping family must not have been happy.)

That morning I decided to go to morning Mass at a Church about a five minute walk from my house.

Being late, I took my car for the 1 minute drive.

As I was driving, a thought came across my mind.

“Maybe, you should not go. Your hiccups will disrupt everyone.”

I imagined all the people in the Church staring at me.

However, I labeled this the voice of the enemy and decided going was more important.

Hiccups and the fear of embarrassment weren’t going to stop me from doing what I wanted.

Doing what I knew was right.

As I made my way up the Church driveway, the hiccups persisted.

“Hold them in. Hold them in. Focus. Hold them in.” I repeated in my mind as I opened the back door of the Church. 

Being late, I walked in right behind the priest.

“Hold them in. HOLD THEM IN. Don’t you dare…”

The minute I genuflected, before going into my seat, I let out the biggest hiccup of all time. 

THE SECOND  my knee hit the ground it was as if all the hiccups of my entire life decided to jump from my throat.

It. Was. So. Loud. 

I was so startled from the hiccup that my hiccups went away!

The Mass continued and I did not hiccup one bit.

This little experience taught me quite a few things I wanted to share with y’all.

The first being to push forward in doing what you know is right regardless of the whispers of the enemy. Humiliation and the fear of being humiliated stop so many of us from pursuing the truth. Fear sucks the perseverance out of us, when instead it can actually propel us. For example, when David faced Goliath. I am sure he had fear as he looked at the giant and all he had was a slingshot. However, David harnessed the fear and used it to show his true faith. In the midst of a thunderstorm of fear, he chose to look up towards Heaven and trust in God. He chose to use the power God had given him.

 

This experience reminded me of the humor of God. Often times, in our suffering world we neglect to look at the humor of truth. When I sent out the giant hiccup, it had me smirking in my seat. The hiccup was so freaking loud. Instead of dwelling on the embarrassment, I thought about how I was cured from my “ailment” by the very ailment itself.

I was reminded that our weaknesses are actually our strength. As seen in 2 Corinthians 12:9

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

I fought and fought and fought the weakness of my hiccups but in reality through that weakness I saw Christ more and more. As I walked into that Church, I had no choice but to accept my problem and just put it in Christ’s hands. Maybe I would get told to leave because I was being disruptive. Maybe I would be embarrassed. Maybe I would hiccup the entire time. But that did not matter. I knew what to do, and in the moment of weakness I had to place my trust in Him.

Friends, I encourage you this weak to keep moving forward. Put on the armor of God and when you feel inadequate to enter into His house, go anyway. Do not listen to the lies the enemy whispers in your ear. Trust in Him. Listen to the ache in your soul. Put on the armor of God and harness the faith.

So next time you have the hiccups, think of Him.

For in this human weakness, the truth became much clearer.

 

 

Fighting the Prayer Battle

If you read any quotes, books, or stories about the saints you will see a common theme.

    1.Prayer is always the answer.

And also.

    2. Prayer is not easy.

For many of us we understand #1 but we have great difficulty implementing it into our lives #2.

 

Hopefully, my story can give you hope and allow you to keep persevering in prayer.

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I remember sitting outside of my university’s science building a few years ago. I was talking to a friend and asking for some guidance on prayer.

Our conversation went a bit like this:

Me: I’m having some trouble praying. Like I want to pray, but when I do, I don’t feel right.

Friend: What do you mean?

Me: I want to pray but I almost feel restless whenever I do. I feel this deep unrest, and it makes me not want to pray. 

This was a few years ago and it did not get any better. It got so much worse.

Whenever I prayed, I was restless. I felt uneasy about myself and almost felt more unsafe. I felt intense guilt.  I didn’t like it one bit. I felt like a horrible person for it.

Why when I try to draw close to God do I feel horrible?

My folded hands were almost a stimulus for my anxiety.

This “feeling” took a gun to my prayer life. Over the past few years, I prayed a lot less. My nighttime routine seemed to fade away. Praying the rosary became a less frequent occurrence. Even during Mass, I resisted finding a quite place in my heart to talk to God.

My lack of prayer was not apparent. Looking back, I realize this now; however, it was very camouflaged.

Instead of prayer, I would use other “stimuli” to capture my attention. I would jump into the world of social media. I would post funny things in group chats. I would watch a lot of useless youtube videos.

I was constantly distracting myself from this earthly unrest by not living.

Well, this all took a turn the over the last few weeks.

After much reflecting on God, reading about the lives of the saints, going to Mass often, Christ-centered conversation, and more reflection I realized what was going on.

I lost the fact that I was just a human. A human jailed in the flesh, constantly being attacked by the devil. Prayer would not always come easy. The devil wants nothing more than to take us away from our King. The devil wants to destroy our relationship with Christ.

“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” Matthew 26:41.

So I decided to prayer. I decided to lose my life in order to save it.

I decided to feel the horrible unrest. I decided to feel the guilt and the lack of peace.

I decided to do this all for Him. I decided to fight this battle against the enemy and praise my Lord Jesus Christ even if it did not “feel” correct.

And you know what happened.

Last night, I was praying the rosary.

And out of nowhere, I was hit by a deep peace.

Whenever, I am hit with despair and distress I am inclined to pray. I am drawn to let the Lord know what is going on in my life.

St. Padre Pio once said,

“Prayer is the oxygen of the soul.”

And he is right. My soul was gasping for air the past few years. Each time it got a breath,  I allowed “my feelings” to drown me. I let the voice of the devil and the unrest placed in my heart to stop my lungs from working.

If any of you out there have had a similar experience or are going through a similar one, I encourage you to pray.

Pray even when you have insane doubts.

Pray even when you don’t want to.

Pray even when you feel won’t be heard.

Because prayer is a fight.

And the good news is.

Christ has already declared victory.

 

 

 

Cause Love

There is someone out there that you love.

Whether that be in a romantic way, familial, or brotherly.

There is someone, who you will sacrifice for every day. A person you are willing to do anything for just because they are who they are.

Here are a few example you might relate to:

-A child who studies really hard day and night because he or she loves his or her parents. 

-A girlfriend who drives hours to surprise her boyfriend.

-A mother who doesn’t sleep in to make sure her children’s clothes are ironed.

-A friend who calls you even though they are having such a busy day

Love makes us do crazy stuff. Crazy awesome stuff.

Love is the energy. Selfless giving fuels us.

Last night, I thought a lot about love. I thought about how easy it was for me to understand what it means to do things out of love for those in my life I care about.

Like my parents, my cousins, or siblings…

 

Then I related this thought to Jesus.

And everything got a little simpler.

Do everything for the love of God.

Jesus is our Lord. Jesus is our best friend. Jesus is our father.

Yet, sometimes we forget we can do everything because we love Him.

If we change our intention, we will change our mindset.

By doing this, I can assure you motivation will take you over.

A great book on this topic is the book, The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.

Highly recommend, it is also super short so it can be read pretty quickly.

In this small book, Brother Lawrence talks about falling in love with God’s Presence and having it take over your life.

By constantly being aware of God’s love, the world changes.

The darkness may still be around us, but we can more easily focus on the light.

This week let us focus on loving God the way we love the important people in our lives.

If we do this, we can do the impossible.

 

 

I Cried for a Different Reason

I am 23.

Jesus has been my Lord and my Savior since my earliest memory.

I was raised in a family that valued going to Mass every Sunday.

Every. Sunday.

And I did.

And when I was younger I was not the most fond of it. I remember my mother telling me, “When you are older, you will appreciate it.”

In college is when the appreciation grew. But first I turned a bit away. The nightly prayers my family fostered in me, which I always said before midnight, seemed to be less important when I was talking to a girl. I still went to Church, but my prayer life suffered. In college I used a lot of excuses. Whether that be my workload, my sleep schedule, etc. I told myself that going to Church on Sunday and reading theological works (which I love to do) was enough.

Over the past year, my prayer life has improved, but not because I necessarily chose it. Circumstances changed, and I was on my own. I hit a lot of walls and Christ was my only hope. I spent a lot of nights crying, hoping my tears would drown out my problems. I never before understood Christ’s experience at the agony in the Garden; however, I was given a little glimpse of it.

As a Christian, I cannot firmly believe in Jesus if I do not acknowledge all the evil.

Last week, as I wrote in the old blog post, I dealt with a spiritual battle.

A battle I had never experienced before.

Doubts about my faith literally were like canon balls to my gut.

My faith felt like it had become a single dew drop in the desert.

I was freaking petrified.

So in this, I continued to do what I thought was necessary.

I went to Mass.

I read and read and read spiritual books.

Hoping to discern an answer to all my woes.

At the end of the week, with the help of my Christ-filled girlfriend, I came across a passage that allowed me to look back and see my issue.

Matthew 10:39 ( a passage I had read tons of times before this moment)

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.

All this time.

The past 23 years.

I was doing nothing but try to find my life.

I was doing all I needed to do in school in order to get where I needed to go.

I was talking to all these girls to try to make a future family for myself.

I was trying to find answers to all my anxieties, fears, and dreams to build a secure life.

And all this finding was leading to nothing but loss.

So, what to do next?

Lose my life? What does that look like?

It looks like a whole lot of prayer. Prayer is turning your mind away from your physical body outward. It is an escape through conversation with God.

It looks like a whole lot of trust. Trust that all this bad God is using for my good. Trust that Jesus Christ is mercy itself.

It looks like a whole lot of love. Small daily sacrifices for others. Self-love by forgetting myself. Loving God with a continuous overflowing heart. In every moment loving God for the moment.

Friends, I hope this small post can have a giant impact on your heart.

Let go of YOUR life today and allow God to fill it with His grace and mercy.

Pray, trust, and love.

Cultivate a relationship with Christ.

If you do this, your tears of fear, uncertainty, and doubt will turn into tears of utter joy and love.

You will begin to cry for a different reason.

Feelings and Spiritual Battle

Have you ever found yourself having an amazing week?

You are super at peace with the world?

However, almost immediately desolation strikes.

Out of left field. 

You find yourself on a spiritual battlefield, and you are totally not prepared for it.

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When this happens, you start to grapple with feelings.

When this happens, you start to doubt during prayer.

When you talk to others, you feel no purpose.

When you think about yourself, all you can see is evil.

These moments are difficult. They are waves the devil uses to try to drown us. These moments are storms that seem to never run dry. Rain keep coming. Lightening and thunder keep blazing. You are struggling to stay afloat.

In these times, the devil uses your feelings to consume you.

You Feel scared.

You Feel like you messed up.

You Feel guilt.

You Feel the weight of your own humanity.

It is extremely difficult to not listen our feelings when they are at the forefront of our minds.

So what do you do?

You pray, but the doubts persist.

You keep moving forward, but the sadness keeps striking.

You take action, but you still feel the weight of the water around you.

Evil’s greatest tactic is consuming us with feelings of guilt. We are paralyzed by it. It causes us to only look within. The selflessness we teach as Christian’s is so much more difficult.

This is precisely why you must persist.

No matter how you “feel” keep persisting.

Matthew 7:7…”knock and the door will be opened.”

In this passage Christ did not tell us how long we must knock.

When you start to knock you may feel hopeful that the Lord will open the door.

But after a month of knocking you may start to doubt his mercy.

The Lord and the apostles constantly remind us to persist, persist, persist.

Have hope in the Lord’s plan. Always.

So when you feel like the most unbelieving person ever. Keep praying.

When you feel like you messed up. Keep striving to do good.

When you feel guilty every second. Keep being selfless.

When you talk to others and feel worthless. Keep loving others.

Friends, I encourage you today to keep knocking. Knock until your knuckles bleed. Knock as the world shouts “you are crazy.” Knock when thoughts of doubt, despair, and guilt consume your mind.

For when the door is opened.

It will all be worth it. 

 

 

 

 

It’s All Good

 

In my house above one of the doors there is a sign that reads,

God’s got a plan, and it’s all good.

It’s a nice little slogan.

Looking at it usually gives me a surge of peace.

It is a call to action: trust in God.

In reference to the Bible it probably relates to Romans 8:28.

“We know that all things work for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” ROMANS 8:28. 

This past year for me was not really what I expected it to be.

I had a lot of troubles enter into my life that I did not understand.

I had a lot of moments where I felt like Lt. Dan from Forest Gump as he shouted at God while on the fishing boat in the middle of the storm.

Lt. Dan Loud Conversation with God link

Like Lt. Dan, I did not understand. I could not grasp why my life was turning out such a way.

Thoughts flooded my mind…

Why was I in this situation? 

When would I have hope again?

Where was God going with this?

I am sure you have found yourself stuck in the middle of such a storm and confused about God’s plan for your life.

Humanity and confusion basically mean the same thing haha.

With this confusion, can come a lot of anger and bitterness.

For me this was visible in how I viewed my Creator.

I started to see God just as Lt. Dan did. I saw God as a coach forcing me to do as many sprints as I could to become stronger. I saw God as a military leader doing all he could to train me to become a warrior.

While I do believe God does exemplify some of these traits, I was missing the largest piece of all.

The mercy of Our Lord.

Surely God was their through my trials, yet I viewed Him as the cause rather than the comfort

Thinking about this now is extremely sad for me.

My perception of my Lord was stained all because of fear and pride.

My way had to be the right way.

My way must be the best for me.

My way was what I worked towards.

How often, in your life, have similar thoughts filled your mind?

So what are we to do?

We are to remember, Romans 8:28.

We are to remember that God is not the cause but He is the comfort.

In Him all trials, pains, suffering, and fear can be transformed into gift.

For this to happen, we must humble ourselves.

Look courageously towards Heaven.

And remember our way is not the right way.

Because God has got a plan, and it is alllllllll goooood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Victim to the Beat

How many of you enjoy jamming out with your friends in the car?

It is the best.

Sunroof open, windows down, smiles all around.

If you are like me you catch yourself singing along to songs you don’t know how you know.

The words just seem to slip out.

A few days ago I was going to the gym with my two younger brothers who are in high school.

They put on a song, and I soon realized I am behind on all the new music.

Since I had not heard the song before,  I made sure to really listen to the words.

The beat was amazing, but the words were awful. Profane. Demeaning. And just outright awful.

But the beat was amazing.

This is not to call out my brothers. We are exactly alike in our morals and values. This story proves that it is so easy to neglect the words and enjoy the beat.

Want to know something wild?

39 out of 50 “United States Top 50” on Spotify are listed as Explicit. 

I am not one to say that a few curse words are an issue.

I know plenty of loving people that use a few curse words here and there.

When I stub my toe you betcha I might become a sailor for a second.

But the stories in the songs, the way in which the words are used, the way in which (mostly women) are talked about is just outright uncalled for.

Yet, people keep on dancing.

The songs keep growing in popularity.

The people that are being attacked in the lyrics are dancing to the songs!

I don’t get it. 

This music situation relates a lot to our lives.

We sin because the beat feels right.

We fall victim to sin because it is an easy road that is appealing to the senses.

The way we are able to counter this is to LISTEN.

Listen carefully to what the world is trying to tell you and make the decision to unplug when necessary.

Friends, don’t fall victim to the beat. 

Be strong in virtue and don’t compromise.

And because of this.

You will make your own music.

Do Better

We are always told to do more.

BE BETTER. DO BETTER.

“Get good grades”

“Get a good job”

“Win the gold”

“Never lose”

These words seem to be engraved into our minds since we learn to walk.

I for one, have fallen victim to these pleads for perfection.

I’ve allowed them to blend into my life and create a blueprint.

This morning I was caught in a DO BETTER loop.

I thought about all I needed to accomplish in my day. I thought about all I needed to accomplish in the year. I was basically yelling at myself for at all the times I have been lazy. I have thought about all the time I wasted.

Then I thought.

“Is this stuff important?”

How much of my mind was consumed with my pride?

Did I want to get good grades for myself or for the greater glory of God?

Did I want to finish my book for myself or for the greater glory of God?

Did I want to exercise for myself or for the greater glory of God?

It makes total sense why I was so frustrated.

I was living for myself. And I am not perfect. Therefore, if I keep looking within I will always be disappointed.

However, if I do everything as a sacrifice, a humble offering to Christ, everything will change.

I felt the Lord screaming out to me to rediscover my childlike humility.

When we were a kids “Do Better”was not at the forefront of our minds.

We did things because they were freaking fun and we lived with joy.

This is exactly what I want and I am sure exactly what you want.

Jesus reminds us that we do not need to do better.

In Him, we are enough.

We only need to do everything out of love for Him.

Friends, when you feel the weight of “Do Better” change the phrase.

“Do Better for Him”

Change the beneficiary and you will change your life.