Friday, August 29, 2014

Thy will be done.

Thinking about printing this out for our wedding day.

Dear Lord,

I pray that You bless today and all the days that follow. I implore You to direct our hearts, minds, and souls to You first and above all else. I thank you for the blessings you have bestowed upon us to this day. I thank You for the gift of Yourself, Your sacrifice through Jesus Christ, and for Your unending grace, mercy, and love. Let our actions, our thoughts, and words glorify you forevermore. Let our love always be free flowing like Your love. Help us to exemplify the love you show to us not only in our marriage but in all of our relationships. Continue to always change our hearts to learn to love more like you every day. Let our love be free, total, faithful, and fruitful just as Christ’s love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful.

Let us give our love freely as Christ gives His love freely. Lord, God, you gave yourself freely in sacrifice out of love to save us from our sin. Your free sacrifice on the cross is the ultimate expression of love. Let us remember that sacrifice as we love others and let our love be given freely as Yours is given freely to us.

Let us give our love totally as Christ gives Himself to us totally every single day. Lord, Saviour, you gave yourself totally and wholly in a sacrifice to save us. Christ, you did not hold any of yourself back in Your sacrifice for our redemption. Let us trust in You in all things that we can give our love totally to You, to each other, and to all your children. Let us never hold back any part of ourselves through fear because you did not withhold any part of Yourself on the cross.

Let our love be given faithfully as Christ’s love is always faithful. Father, you are faithful even when we are not. Your love is constant and unending. Your love towards us never changes despite our brokenness and our fallen state. Allow us to love You and each other faithfully the way you love us faithfully. Let us always look towards Christ as an example of faithful love to the Father. Teach us to love so faithfully that we always sing and pray with joy “Thy will be done”. For You are always faithful to us.

Let our love be fruitful like Christ’s love is fruitful. Lord, your love brings new life to us daily. Never let us hold back any part of our love and let it always be directed to Your glory. Allow us to use the gifts you have given us with complete trust and openness. Let our actions and love work in accordance with your will and grant to us that our love may be fruitful like your love.

Lord, bless our marriage. Bless our thoughts, our actions, and our words. Allow our marriage to glorify you and to be an example on earth of Christ’s heavenly marriage with His Church. Let today and all the days that follow be filled with joyous praise towards You. Grant us peace in our hearts and minds as we grow in trust and holiness. Allow us to fully accept Your love, grace, and mercy. Let us never become complacent or flounder on our forever journey with You. Grant us peace in our hearts with every change in our lives knowing that all is done to prepare us for eternity with You. Let us embrace change and never fear it. Let us always see change as a joyful beginning especially when the change requires uncomfortable sacrifices. Allow us to deny ourselves as we choose Your will and Your way above our own.
Father in heaven you know what is best for our lives. You know our hearts and our minds. You have given us Your Son to save us and Your Spirit to guide us. Allow us to graciously accept these gifts always. Help us to always put ourselves last to You and to others.

We thank you so much for our family and friends. We thank you for the opportunities you have given us thus far in our lives and we only pray that our steps and path are being directed towards Your will. We pray today especially that you touch the hearts of those in attendance. Show them the joy that can be found in You and Your promises.

We ask for special petitions for women. We pray for your world in the hopes of change especially in America. Help women especially see their dignity in being made as humans in the image and likeness of God. Allow them to never give up what being a woman means for the view of how society believes a woman should be. We pray for women contemplating abortion and we ask for your help in guidance for them. Allow them to look towards you and to not be fearful in their situations. We pray for the life of the unborn child and we pray for all those children who have been killed through abortion. We ask that you bless the souls of those babies and that they are with you in heaven. We pray for healing for all women who have undergone an abortion and help their hearts be opened to Your great love and mercy.

We also pray that women never see their fertility as a disease that needs to be cured through contraceptive methods. Lord, you know what is best. Your creation is perfect. Let us never work against your creation especially when it comes to our bodies. We were created in your image and likeness. Our bodies and our souls must glorify you. Allow us never to forget this and allow us to always embrace this.

We pray for your glory today and forevermore.


Monday, August 4, 2014

For the joy of the Lord is our strength

I'm quickly coming to realize why we are meant to have complete trust and reliance in our Lord.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

"Lefou, I'm afraid I've been thinking..."

"A dangerous pastime."
"I know..."

Well, we are down to the final pre-wedding countdown (38 days to go!) and it is crunch time for decision making and final plans. To say it has been a stressful few weeks would be an understatement but luckily I've got a few things to keep my sanity in check -- God, Brent, my family, crossfit (and/or exercising 4-5 days a week). 

The funny thing about decision making is it requires a lot of thinking... "why it's more than I can bear." ("More beer?" "what for? nothing helps.") I've been listening to way too much Disney Beauty and the Beast music lately. Mostly the "Gaston" songs. I feel like I am having Disney World withdrawals so I do and do not apologize for my over abundance of Disney references and/or songs, pictures, etc. 

Anyway, we were on the topic of decision making and thinking. So as you may or may not know, when you are getting married to your fiance who lives (insert number here) miles away in a little over a month, the conversation of "where are we going to live?"comes about pretty frequently. The most difficult thing about these decisions is that ultimately, they are not ours to make. Sometimes, we have to use faith and logic to see where our path is being directed. 

I've been reading a lot of devotionals lately and every time I open it up it somehow pertains to decision making and trusting and reliance... all things I need to be better at... especially now. So, I can do all the thinking I want, but the thinking will be nothing unless it involves praying. That's what I am being taught right now... trust and reliance. I need to trust in God's plan and rely on Him especially in the times when I want to forge my own path (because I'm human and sometimes my heart and mind aren't always in the right place). 

What I've come to understand from experiences in the past couple years is that no matter what my plan has been, when that plan did not come to fruition, something even better happened in my life. I need to remember that when I'm trying to walk on my own. When I (we) trust, I (we) find joy because I (we) know that God's plan may have ups and downs (zig-zags or circles) in our lives and our plans, but it will always cause us to rely on Him, to trust in Him, and to understand that He is always guiding us to what is best and that we cannot even begin to imagine how great His plans are for us.

One of the things I am looking forward to most about marriage is growing in a relationship with another person that will teach me how to love and trust better every single day. I cannot wait for the laughter, the tears, the moments, and the memories that marriage will bring. Most of I am looking forward to the fact that we will have been married for two months before this gem (Mockingjay Part 1) comes out in theaters on November 21, 2014. This way I already have someone to go to the midnight showing with me!

I have already partially prepared for the midnight showing of this and it may be proceeded with a re-reading of all the books and a re-watching of the first two movies. Although, I may be disappointed if I re-read the books so close to the movie and then realize they are missing something (like the Harry Potter series and Peeves... so sad). Anyway, I've got a hunger games training shirt, practiced my hair braiding, and of course mastered my archery skills. These have all been acquired over a few years so I may need a wardrobe upgrade. I probably also need to redefine "mastered" since in this case it means tried once and got the arrow to release from the long bow over two years ago... good thing I don't need those skills to watch a movie. All I need is my future husband, a giant cup of coffee (since it will be way past my bedtime), and to find my mockingjay pin (which is around here somewhere).

I can't wait to be married and I know that through all the craziness, the thinking, the decisions, and the journey of continuously learning to trust more it is going to be a fantastic, wonderful, incredible, amazing ride. Plus I'm marrying one of the best men I know! Lucky lucky lucky me.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

I Just Want To "Clean"

I think I need to rename my blog to "Whatever Miscellaneous Thing Danielle Feels Like Writing that Day" or "Jesus, Crossfit, and Disney - and everything in between". This isn't really the on topic blog I had intended... all about human dignity, women's rights (read my postings on abortion/contraception for more on that), and my journey of learning about NFP. As it turns out, my journey (I have been having a lot of these lately) towards exploring NFP while learning about the physical and emotional harms of contraception led me down another path... one towards actually and actively striving to take care of my body and health...which led to my discovery of Paleo and Crossfit.

It is no surprise that as a woman getting married in 2 months (*insert super excited smiley emojicon*!!) I have been looking for ways to drop a few extra pounds before the wedding. I tried counting calories with little success and was not eating a sustainable diet. I found out about "Paleo" from my doctor (purely for health reasons -- hormones and healthy gut  *blah blah blah blah blah*) and I poo-pooed it right away. Give up chocolate, sugar, and grains? Impossible. Inconceivable! Those are staples in my diet. I didn't want to do it at first, but I researched a little and found that it could have pretty good health benefits. I found a strict paleo 30 day diet... the "Whole30" and gave it an (honestly) half-hearted try. After it ended I dove into the nearest bowl of chocolate candy I could find because even though I knew I felt physically better, I didn't lose those 10-15 pounds I wanted in a month. Of course the logical answer to that was to find the closest unhealthy food I could. I was being very logical and completely unemotional in that moment...
That was over a month ago. 
When u eating dinner with ur bae and ur Hungarian

Today, I am 4 days into my second Whole30 and going in with a brand new mentality -- an improved me, a healthy me, a fit me. 

I started Crossfit about a month ago, worked my way through Foundations, and I get to join actual classes on Monday (yay!). The biggest thing I noticed was that food and the types of foods I eat directly influence my athletic performance and my future recovery (duh!!!) I re-started Whole30, bought the book for the program ("It Starts With Food") and I have been learning how the food we put in our body influences our psychological response, hormonal balance, immune system, etc. It's kind of scary to think about how certain foods disrupt and "trick" our body's normal regulation system. The book talks about a "skinny-fat" where you look physically thin but your thyroid and hormones are out of whack. I read that and all I thought was "me. me. me." I've been going to the doctor because my hormones are out of whack (which I learned from NFP and charting, then blood tests..) and if the food I eat can either balance them or put them more out of whack maybe I need to be more conscientious about what I am eating.. "It Starts With Food" ... the journey is coming full circle.. See all my topics are inter-related to the original intent of "free, total, faithful, and fruitful love".. The idea of free, total, faithful, and fruitful love (which is what Christ's love is) led to discovering NFP which led to discovering Paleo which led to Crossfit while Disney just has to be interspersed for it to be complete. It comes full circle. So maybe I have really been on topic this whole time. Have you been paying attention? See what I've been doing there?

Anyway back to Crossfit! In one of my foundations classes I had to learn a Crossfit move called the "power clean". As someone who has almost never weight lifted in their life, I was struggling to get the proper form and I just could not get it. I couldn't process the part where I had to get it to my shoulders. I left the box frustrated that day because obviously I should have been able to do that. Frustrated. Was this just something I physically wouldn't be able to do? The next foundations class I learned the power snatch and I rocked. We tried cleans again, and voila the miracle of all miracles happened... I could do it (did I eat better that day??). Every class since I have had to clean the bar up whether it was to do another Crossfit move or just to do more power cleans (or squat cleans!) and after my last foundations class all I wanted to do was more power cleans.

At my last foundations class we reviewed many of the previous technical moves I had learned and we did my final foundations workout... "Fight Gone Bad" It is a 15 minute workout. You do 1 minute of wall balls, 1 minute SDHP ( I forgot what this stands for), 1 minute of box jumps, 1 minute of STOH,  1 minute of rowing for calories, 1 minute of rest and repeat for a total of three rounds. The goal is to get as many reps as you can and all your reps get added up to make up your final score. It was awful. At one point I felt like I couldn't lift the bar over me head anymore, but as soon as I left box and caught my breath all I wanted to do was try it again and get a better score next time. That (below) is how I looked after my "Fight Gone Bad" and my score is the large number in red at the bottom.

That's the strange thing about Crossfit is it gives you something to strive for physically... stronger, fitter, healthier. So it has been a journey and it will continue to be. I have always wanted to be thin, thin, thin but all I want now is to be fit. I want to be able to do an unassisted pull-up, or 10, or 20. I want to be able to do as many overhead squats (my nemesis!) as possible. I want to strive for what my body can do and how I can push it to get there. For the first time I feel like it is actually possible. I am sore and I don't think there has been a part of my body that hasn't been sore since I started Crossfit. It brings me back to my soccer days where I pushed myself and I strove to better myself and my performance. I am doing that again. I will be faster, stronger, and fitter. I will be healthier and every small accomplishment (broccoli rather than chocolate or "one more push up") is going to bring me closer to that goal. So whether it is learning NFP and striving to love like Christ, eating Paleo (sometimes succeeding and sometimes failing), or getting stronger as I push myself to the limits, it is all part of my journey of self-improvement and it is all intertwined. 

Now I know you have been waiting for the Disney reference/relation so I will say that since I can't choose just one song to describe how I feel or what I want to write about, I will provide you with a medley. Life is a medley and how boring would it be if I stayed on topic? 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Love Never Fails

Sitting here on the airplane (okay I wrote this yesterday, pretty low-tech with pen and ink) thoughts fly through my head (see what I did there??) as I reflect on the series of events leading up to this moment in time.

Anyone that knows me, knows I am not a relaxed person. I'm high maintenance, I get stressed easily, and I often have a short fuse. All of these result in very unloving, untrusting, un-Christlike examples of living. Whenever I run into situations where my emotions are on overload, I often seek an escape to those feelings or that situation. My escape in these times is often my music. Not my music (I have not been blessed with stellar vocal chords or "called deadly for a killer show tune medley"... I've got a dream) but the music I listen to I consider "mine"... ** on a brief side note, no blog post would be complete without a Disney/Tangled reference. If you caught it, I commend you. If you didn't, check out the youtube video below. ;) **

As I now poorly transition back on topic, I was sitting on the airplane after a long, exhausting day and as I began drifting into the semi-dreamland that airplane rides allow a melody by Brandon Heath started playing through my headphones -- "Love Never Fails". If you've never heard it before, listen to it.. or else!... you are missing out on a really great song. The first few lines of the song go like this: "Love is not proud. Love does not boast. Love after all matters the most. Love does not run. Love does not hide. Love does not keep locked inside. Love is a river that flows through and love never fails you." (This song references the Bible in case you didn't know ... 1 Corinthians 13) When the song came on it really struck a chord (unintentional) with me.

I have been struggling lately. I've been anxious and stressed, trying over and over to overcome these emotions on my own accord. Sometimes (more often then I would like to admit) when I allow negative emotions to control me, it often results in me hurting those I love whether it is shutting them out or acting out of anger... so completely unloving. I'm writing a blog about how I am learning to be more loving and admitting that lately I have not been nearly as loving as I should be. Lately, I > anyone else. Lately, I have failed to love. Luckily for me, I have the intellect to learn and the blessings of knowing how loved I am that I can change. Using better terminology, I can allow myself to be changed for the better. The more I learn how to be accepting and trusting of the love from the creator of love itself, the more I will allow Him to change my heart to be one that is completely giving and completely loving. I can be changed to be a true example of love that brings true JOY.

JOY, J-O-Y. It is a small word that can have a huge impact especially for those who know where true joy comes from. True joy comes from the Lord. It comes from loving and trusting in our Savior and knowing that He is faithful. It is very clear to me that I am not always faithful or loving or trusting and there are times when I am a selfish human being. I fall. I fail. I struggle. God is constant. His love is constant. His love never fails.

He has reminded me of that a lot lately. That He hasn't given up on me and that He has no intention to. It's a sad thing when I choose "me" over anyone else especially my Creator, my Savior, my Helper and Guide because it emphasizes how I have fallen and failed. I (we) ultimately have two choices in this life that result in where we end up in the life to come. We either love God first, love others second, and love ourselves last (JOY... Jesus, others, yourself - in that order) or we love the promises of this world and ourselves above all others. We can choose to trust in His promises and give Him our struggles, our temptations, our fears, our anxieties, and our weaknesses to let Him heal us or we try to carry it all and solve it all on our own. We accept God or we reject Him. There isn't a middle ground. Accepting God is choosing to give up ourselves, our plans, our comfort zones, and our desires for a greater purpose and for the promise of eternal life in heaven with our Savior.

God's been "tugging on my heartstring" as my fiance put it. I was propelled into a journey of seeking a better relationship with Jesus about a year ago. I sought out Truth and discovered all these "truths" about what Christianity is. I got lost in different doctrines and systems of belief, worship, and praise. I was trying to find out what truth was complete and what to trust in rather than focusing on who to trust in.

I have a sticker on my computer. It says "Jesus, I trust in you." When I started trying to focus on what to trust in, I got reminders (in Church, in the car, at home, in a Lighthouse Catholic Media CD, and on Divine Mercy Radio) over and over again telling me to trust in Him. I need to focus on who (Jesus!) to trust in and the what will be revealed (yes it will take discernment and understanding and numerous blessings and gifts from that awesome helper the Holy Spirit) but the who comes first. The phrase "Jesus I trust in you" was re-iterated over and over in Church and the media I listen to. That should have been my first hint. I was being given what I needed but I was blinded or I chose not to listen. I still really believe that it is necessary to find the complete truth (as complete as God's revelation allows for me and my life) of Christianity (because relativism just doesn't cut it) but it is essential that I am trusting completely in the One who saves before any of that is possible. "Jesus, I trust in you." X as many times as needed. That will be my constant prayer and reminder.

I was reminded to trust again (this seems like a process... a very re-iterative one) last week at church and this week as well. Last week, the pastor talked about our daily walk with Christ and being rooted in Christ. I need to walk with Him daily if I am going to be rooted in Him... DUH (**gets hit on the head with a hammer or a, gets handed a Bible, an open a Bible full of God's promises**)

"Me. me. me., wedding planning, and major life decisions have been ruling my life the past month (or two) and here I am being reminded again to trust and not only being reminded but being taught ways that I can build up that relationship and that trust. I'm an engineer. I should be able to figure this out, correct? 1 + 1 = 2 (if only it was that easy). If a radio navigation box is put together without screws and installed into an aircraft, that radio is going to fail the harsh environmental conditions (vibration, probably thermal) because it is not complete. A door may fall off or something inside the box will break because it wasn't secured properly causing other internal failures to the circuitry and the components that keep the radio working. If I try to work, live, or exist of my own accord without God's grace, help, and mercy then I am the unsecured box trying to function in harsh conditions. I am not complete and I will fail. The initial failure mode will continue to cause other failure modes until I allow myself to be fixed, put back together, and secured properly to withstand any conditions. A human being without a Savior will live in a life of sin without healing and without hope.

We all struggle. We talked about that in Church this week. All the biblical examples of people who were chosen by God to fulfill his promises, struggled and sometimes (often) failed. However, they had faith. They knew their (our) Lord was worthy of trust because His promises are unmatched and fulfilled. We read Hebrews and they spoke of people who overcame and conquered through faith, but it also spoke of those who were tortured, condemned, and suffered for their faith. People who trust in the Lord's promises and believe in His unending love and grace find joy and hope and love in all situations.

There is a woman I heard about when listening to Catholic radio. She got pregnant with her first child and her and her husband were told during the pregnancy that the baby was going to die shortly after birth. The doctors tried to convince her to have an abortion but they decided they were going to give the child as much life as possible. The woman went through her pregnancy and the child died shortly after birth. She got pregnant again and they found out the same thing about this child as they had with the previous pregnancy. The couple made the same decision to give the child as much life as possible and the child also died shortly after birth. A third time, this couple got pregnant. The baby was healthy, but the mother had been diagnosed with cancer shortly after the pregnancy. She refused cancer treatment for the health and life of the child. The third child was born and the woman died from her cancer shortly after. Through all her trials she didn't stop trusting in God's promises or plans and she chose the life of another through love over her own life.

Pope (now Saint) John Paul II was shot in an attempted assassination. He not only forgave the man who attempted to kill him, but he befriended him. He showed him love, care, and concern for his soul. He knew of Christ's love and promises and he shared these with this man. I get upset when people hurt my feelings and find it difficult to forgive. How much strength it must take to forgive someone who tries to kill you. How much trust, joy, and life He must have found in Christ in order to be able to act out of love over anger.

There was another young woman I heard about named Chiara Badano (look her up!). She died the month and year I was born. October 1990. Chiara was so in love with Jesus. She was diagnosed with bone cancer and her response was "It's for you, Jesus; if you want it, I want it, too." How much trust this woman had to be able to declare through her painful, terminal illness her complete faith and trust in our Lord. She had so much love for the Lord. A Cardinal came to visit her in the hospital once. He asked her, "The light in your eyes is splendid. Where does it come from?" Chiara replied, "I try to love Jesus as much as I can."

Human examples of grace and love are not even close to Christ's love or grace but through the help of the Holy Spirit and knowing where to place our trust we can learn to love others better. We don't deserve what we have been given by Christ through His death and resurrection but He gives it out of love. We should be able to grown and learn to give love others in that way. We should try to love Jesus as much as we can no matter what life brings.

Everytime I thank Brent for being patient with me or for loving me when I am being selfish, he often (always) says "that's grace hon" because I'm usually asking for forgiveness and love when I don't deserve it. He loves me even when I am a pain, stressed, "bride-zilla" or a "scared of change-zilla" He forgives me and he continues to love me ESPECIALLY when I don't deserve it. That's an amazing human love. It shows me how much greater and how perfect God's love, grace, and forgiveness is.

I could probably write pages and pages of my sins throughout my life and even daily. I know everytime I sin, I'm choosing something else over God and that it hurts Him because He loves me (and you!) infinitely and perfectly. He never stops calling or seeking or tugging at our heart. Love is a two-way street. We have to not only acknowledge God's love, but we have to choose whether or not to accept the love and grace and we have to choose to love Him back just for who He is.

Choosing God means allowing Him to change you. It means making ammends with Him because you have hurt Him. If you love someone, you apologize and you make ammends for the hurt you have caused. You (we) need to be reconciled with Him and we need to open our hearts to allow Him to change us. Months and months ago on my journey, we were reading a Bible passage where we were described as clay in the potter's hands. An artist, a potter takes nothing and turns it into something. God doesn't tweak lives to fit into the mold, ideas, or plans we have. He changes lives in order to fulfill His greatest plans.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Sometimes We Need a Little Magic

I have no self control. Honestly. Maybe I have a little self-control. Nope. No self control. It is official. If I happen to go into a store to look for one item, I am immediately distracted by the clothes (movie, games, book, food, kitchen) section. It's always the worst at Target. They have that "oh so tempting" adorable bathing suit section right near the entrance to the store. I'm convinced the bathing suits are there to suck you in. They take a girl who is on a perfectly well planned out mission to purchase a bottle of shampoo and have her walking out the store with a new bathing suit, yoga capris, and a cute new sports tank instead. Pure evil or pure genius? I'll go with a combination of both.

Even though Target is the store where I usually lose all sense of reality and financial budgeting, it was Wal-Mart that got the best of me today. I went in with the intentions of looking at a running/fitness watch I plan on purchasing and walked out with two new Disney shirts, two pairs of work-out shorts, and three new workout tanks. Luckily Wal-Mart pricing doesn't break the bank, but I usually try to avoid an impulse buy whenever possible. This time, though, it was very well worth it. Since my Disney annual pass expired four days ago, I've been slightly mourning my loss of limitless trips to the sweet, sweet, world of big dreams, smiling faces, and endless magic. In a way, I've found a way to compensate for that "loss" with everything Disney (movies, music, phone ringtone...) like these amazing new t-shirts I found at Wal-Mart. This way I can have a little bit of Disney magic with me no matter what the future brings.

My favorite thing about Disney World is getting to go there with my sister. Every time I wanted to go to Disney, I knew (know) that I will always have someone to go with who delights in Disney for everything it is. I enjoy the rides and after having an annual pass and making 20+ trips to Disney World in the past year I could tell you my "must go on" rides, my favorite place to eat, the best way to plan out your fastpass +, the "secret" entrance into Animal Kingdom, and the shows you must, must, must see if you are going for the day. What was the best thing to do there though? The answer to that is something I never thought it would be.

The best memories I have at Disney are going to the Hollywood Studios drawing class in the art of animation because I know that my Disney loving, "game art and animation major" sister truly delights in these classes. Seeing someone else's joy and sharing in that is the most magical experience. I love my family and I am beyond blessed that God gave me the parents I have and the sister I have as well as all my wonderful grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc. Family is the best and I can't wait for more family and more memories in two months!

As I look back at the past year, a lot has changed. A year ago I had recently accepted my first professional job outside of college and in every way I had the maturity level of a recent college graduate. The past year has taken me on a tremendous and continuous journey. I have and continue to re-explore and re-commit to my faith. I have learned that I can no longer eat fast food, boxed meals, sugar or grains if I care about my health and the health of my future family. I have gained confidence with every decision I have to make at work in my competence and my abilities. I have made mistakes and learned from them. I have gotten engaged to the best man I know and I strive to love him better every day... Some days I succeed at all of the above, but more often then not there is still some ways that I fail. I may occasionally (or daily...) eat that piece of chocolate calling my name. I may lose my confidence in a tense situation. I may disagree with the people I love and unintentionally cause pain. I mess up, but I learn and I try again.

The best thing about the past year is everything I have learned and everything I have gained (and continue to learn and to gain). The crazy thing about life is that it is constantly changing. I change daily, and the people I love are always changing around me but it doesn't mean that I will love them any less. In fact, I will love them more. I will delight in their joys and mourn with them when they are sad. I will cause them pain and I will work to amend my wrongs against them. I will look to them for advice, guidance, and understanding. 

I'm getting married in a little over two months now, and I know that marriage is going to be a huge life change. I will probably learn something about another human that I never thought I would know and they will learn the same about me. I will learn every day how love and forgiveness is more powerful and healing than any other tribute or devotion of love. I know what a great man God gave me for forever, and I only hope that I can daily show my future husband all the love, respect, and kindness that he deserves. With God's grace it will be possible. Life is a constant journey. It is one hundred (plus or minus) years that we were blessed with for a purpose. I'm still searching for mine, but as I search, I will remember that real magic isn't found in a trip to Disney World. Real magic is experienced by sharing in the joy and delight of others out of love. It's knowing that a genuine smile is magical and time with the people you love is truly one of the happiest places on earth. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Round 2

It is a very sad realization when you start eating clean for 30 days (e.g. the whole30/paleo/primal) and then when you start eating processed foods again (specifically grains and sugars), your body revolts. It seems almost tragic knowing that even though your brain still thinks your favorite "food group" is a delectable piece of smooth, creamy milk chocolate perfected by a sugar-type peanut butter filling your body knows that is no longer the case. Stomach aches. Poor(er).. ["worse" would be the grammatically correct way to say this] athletic performance. Anxiety. Acne. Poor sleep. Less energy. Etc. It amazes me how the food choices we make dramatically effect so many different areas of our well-being and health... both physical and mental!

As I sit here and mourn over a imminent loss of grains and sugar in my life (due to a [stupid?/crazy?/difficult?/inconvenient!] decision to start up round 2 of Whole30 the best I can do to overcome the "loss" is to reflect on all the positive changes that were occurring during Whole30 round 1.

I should start by saying that I started and quit and started Whole30 3 times before I got through my whole 30 days. To say that I wasn't 100% committed on the third attempt would be an understatement. After about 3 days in, I started the countdown to when I would get to eat that delicious vice of mine (that smooth, creamy peanut butter filled chocolate I referred to above...) and by doing so I potentially missed even greater changes that could have occurred.

The biggest change I didn't see was my relationship with food. I am a stress eater. If I'm sad. I eat (chocolate). If I'm stressed. I eat (chocolate). If I'm mad. I eat (chocolate). If I'm happy. I eat (chocolate). If I just feel like eating. I eat (chocolate). It is a bad relationship and that's all I was waiting to go back to. Little did I know that as my body was cleaning out all the junky, processed foods of the last 23 years, there was no way it would be able to handle the sugar addiction the way it had prior to my clean eating endeavor.

Even though I didn't gain that new relationship with food (the healthy one) during round 1, I did gain a lot. I had increased amounts of energy and I had given up coffee... something that I depended on to sustain me through a work day since I began my adult career last August. Energy without caffeine. Truly amazing. I had better athletic performance. After my marathon in January, I have been super lax on working out/exercising and I could go out and run 3 or 4 miles and feel great. In all honestly, clean eating made my work-outs feel good. My body was sustained by the nutrients it needed and my body worked so much more effectively and efficiently. My skin had started to clear up. My stomach had started to shrink. I NEVER got a stomach ache or felt sick after eating during the whole30. My digestion was starting to work properly. My whole body was changing. My mood was changing. I was changing, and all I could focus on was the piece of chocolate I was going to get to eat in 28 days... 27 days... 26 days... and so on.

So now it is time for round 2. Three weeks post Whole30 and eating clean half the time while defaulting back to the known world of grains and sugars the other half, my body has had enough. The only way I am going to be healthy physically and mentally is if I give my body what it needs to function and to thrive. So I will say good-bye to sugar and grains as I make my way into my new clean eating, crazy, unconventional "meat (protein), veggies, nuts and seeds, fruit, and healthy fats 'diet'". I will strive to be strong and healthy rather than weak and malnourished. I will work to change my relationship with food as something to sustain me rather than as a crutch in a stressful, happy, sad, "feelings" situation. I will eat what sustains me and find better outlets for my "feelings" situations.

I started Crossfit three weeks ago and it is tough. I'm using muscles I have never or rarely used before. I'm lifting weights over my head, doing what seems like endless burpees, squats, and wall-balls, and slowly getting stronger. I have a long way to go before I am physically as strong as I would like to be and I need to fuel my body correctly in order to get there. My goal is to be strong, fit, and healthy. My goal doesn't need to be attached to a number on the scale or the number of kcals on a food label. My health is and needs to be measured by how I feel. The best I have ever felt strictly in regards to health and nutrition is when I eat clean. So good-bye bagels and pizza and Reese's peanut butter cups because my body is not a fan. My brain may be, but that will change (not overnight but overtime) just like my body will slowly get stronger every time I do another push-up. When I started Crossfit three weeks ago, I was doing ring rows. Now I can do banded pull-ups. My first wall balls felt like I was being slammed by a brick wall. The first 10 wall balls I did today felt almost flawless. It's slow progress but slow progress is greater than no progress.

Anything worth doing is going to take time and effort and commitment (I had a discussion with my very intelligent fiance who reminded me of this fact). Do I want to feel good all the time? Do I want to be healthy and strong? Or do I want to countdown until I can eat that piece of chocolate?

If processed foods versus real foods make such a huge impact then the choice is simple. I know there is science out there to support it and I know I don't know it all, but I do know how I feel. I have a career as a mechanical engineer and as an engineer I have to experiment and consider real life applications. I can't depend on the numbers or the theories 100% because real life applications always have a way of throwing a curveball. If I consider my first Whole30 an experiment then I have real life proof of how food effects my health. I have the evidence, the data, and "numbers" as a support. Theories are important, but applied experimentation with data is a much stronger basis. At work, I can say that a component will pass vibration testing because it is designed to do so, but it doesn't account for all the applications of that component in the design. The only way I can guarantee 100% that it will work in its designed application is if it undergoes vibration testing. I can say that Whole30 and Paleo are a great diet because of scientific evidence, but I won't say that. I will say that Paleo/clean eating/Whole30 is great for me because I have proof.

Find what works for you. Find what fuels you. Find what makes you happy, healthy, and strong.
I'm committing to another 30 days of clean, Whole30 eating because like and unlike the little engine that could I not only "think I can", I know I can and that I will be changed for the better because of it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

What if?

Do you ever find yourself asking "what if?" What if I had gone to a different college? Perhaps your dream college? What if I had chosen a different group to work with on that school project? What if I decided to forgive early and love rather than let friendships dissolve over pride or anger? What if I had decided to speak up against an injustice instead of holding my tongue? What if I actually worked to fight against that injustice?

"What if?" It's a question I find myself asking occasionally. What if I had chosen my dream college at the time, Providence College, over Miami University? Would I have been stronger in my faith? Would I know Catholic doctrine better than I did before I began this journey? Would I have continued to pursue a relationship with Jesus throughout college rather than turn to sin and worldliness? Who knows? I don't. I do know one thing though. If I hadn't chosen Miami, I would not have met Brent, and God's plans for me and the journey of faith I have been on would not be what they are today. Brent is a wonderful blessing and asking "what if?" reaffirms and acknowledges a decision I made over 4 years ago. Did I know where that decision would lead at the time? No. However, each choice we make today and every day is going to influence and affect something along the way. 

Asking "what if?" doesn't change the past, and it's not something I would ever want to change, but it does allow us to change the future. It impacts not only our futures, but others as well. What if I had spoken up against injustice? What if I actually fought against it? What if I took action to help those who couldn't help themselves? How much different would our world be if we spoke up instead of being silent? If we actually did something instead of waiting for things to change? We are just as at fault by allowing injustice to continue as we live our own lives wrapped up in our concerns when there is murder going on in our country, in our states, in our town, and even in our own neighborhoods. If we don't fight to stop it, then we are working for the enemy.

Genocide is the "deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation." The abortion industry has taken over 54 million lives. It has taken the lives of people who could have made a significant impact in society. It has taken away the rights of women everywhere especially the unborn women

Sitting back and letting this happen while we continue our daily lives puts us at so much fault and I'm ashamed to say that I have let my own selfishness get in the way of teaching others the truth about abortion and spreading the dignity of human life. 

I've been listening to a lot of speeches about abortion (thanks again to Lighthouse Catholic Media mp3's for always causing a stir in my heart) and the more I hear the more disheartened I get. We live in a sad, dark, time of human history in a country with dim (if any) moral values. It will protect a child born at 22 weeks that is outside of a mother's womb, but will allow that same child inside the mother's womb to be killed. They either suction these babies out of the mother's womb as they fight for life or put them to sleep like they are a dog and then pull them out of the uterus in pieces. It is a shameful industry and the largest loss of life in the world.

How many more smiles are we supposed to see when we are walking on the sidewalk? 54 million more and counting. Whose laughter do we never get to hear? The laughter of 54 million and counting. Whose great idea will never be heard? The ideas of 54 million and counting.

Abortion is murder. If I have a heartbeat I am alive and most if not all babies killed by abortion have a heartbeat. Every victim of abortion is alive and growing to live and be according to God's plan for him or her. Just because someone is tiny, it doesn't make them anything less than a human made in the image and likeness of God.

What if we talked to one person a day about abortion? What if we wore a t-shirt with a pro life message when we traveled? What if we shared (wonderful and profound) lighthouse catholic media CDs or youtube videos sharing and revealing what abortion really is? What if we volunteered at a pregnancy resource center to help women who are scared and alone? What if we helped them see their own self-worth and dignity? What if we did one small thing a day to fight against this injustice in our world? What if it made a difference? What if?

Monday, May 5, 2014


W.W.J.D. What would Jesus do? In elementary school I had a little cloth bracelet that I wore almost every day with those four letters stitched on it. It was one of my favorite accessories and it acted as a constant reminder. W.W.J.D. What would Jesus do? How would He treat those around Him? He would be kind and gentle. He would be loving. He would look to serve the needs of others over Himself. He would serve. He would sacrifice. He would teach and guide others to truth. God loves us better than we could ever love Him and He loves others better than we could ever love them. He loves and He forgives. What would Jesus do? He would do everything I try to do daily and do it perfectly. 

One of the greatest things about Jesus is that He is both fully human and fully divine and that He chose to be. He chose to save us. He chose to become like us, to take on our nature so that one day we could live in joy with Him eternally. It's a beautiful gift to have someone love you (all encompassing you, plural) as much as God does. He chose to know our struggles and our temptations in our human nature. He understood our pain and our longing. He understands what it means to be human which makes Him that much more awe-some. Jesus came to save the sinner. He came to serve. He came to love. He came to teach truth. He came to defeat death so that we could be saved. 

When I think about all the people that I admire, there is always a list in my head of who I admire and for what reason and how I wish I could exemplify a certain one of their characteristics. If I really take a good look at my list of people, the attributes I admire in them the most are always the ones that point directly to Christ. The way Christ lived was perfect. He didn't sin and He taught us a perfect love and a perfect human existence. I know that we as humans aren't perfect and I am not going to say anyone is, but the people I admire and the qualities in them that I admire exemplify (the best that is humanly possible with the help of God's grace) Christ's love.

My fiance is a really good example of patience and forgiveness (not perfect and I'm sure he may disagree on how high a regard I am going to give him). I'm impatient (I tried to word that eloquently but I failed. Brain freeze or road block or writer's block. I'd say the cat's got my tongue but I'm typing not talking.) Anyway, I am and have been a not very patient person for most of my life. I'm more patient than I was but less than I desire to be. This is about Brent, though, not me. Brent. He is a wonderful man and He is so patient. He never gets angry for having to wait. His actions always show patience especially towards me. He teaches me how love is shown through patience and that a long fuse or none to set off at all is always better than a short one.

I admire the qualities of love I see in those that surround me especially in my family and in my soon to be family. I admire those who don't just speak Jesus, but who actually live it. There is a difference between words and actions and those who love Jesus, live Jesus. It is part of their heart and soul. He defines their very being, their innermost thoughts, their kind words, and the love they show to others. I see Jesus in a lot of people. There are some who I see speaking Jesus, and then those I truly admire for how they live and love Jesus. My future mother in law [mother in love is what they say :) ] is someone I know who loves Jesus with all her heart and soul. I see it every time I am with her and even when I am not. One of the best things about getting to marry Brent in September is that I get to marry into a family who has such a wonderful love for God. She is so wonderful and has shown me such love and kindness from the day I met her. She is such a blessing and I so admire the love in her heart for everyone around her.

I admire the eloquent speaker who speaks truth, but humbly. I admire the person who holds open a door for another. I admire the couple that reads their Bible together to seek and learn truth together. I admire the youth leaders who share the good news with a younger generation. I admire the chastity speakers who proclaim that we have dignity and our future spouse's (or current) have dignity and the best way to love them is sometimes by sacrificing our own desires. I admire those who know Jesus and teach Jesus. I admire those who are smarter than I am and more learned than I am, who have acquired knowledge, and can take me through God's great word by showing me that there are no accidents when it comes to God. He knows what He is doing and scripture proclaims that. Jesus' words and actions show just how amazing God is and that His message is unified. The Old is not obsoleted by the New. It is fulfilled. 

I know none of us is perfect, but it is so beautiful to see God's hand in our lives and His spirit in those we love. I love how he can always direct us to what we need when we need it. Always. I love when he does it through the people in our lives. It always amazes me. He always reminds me to trust whenever I am failing to trust. This week at Church He even reminded me when I stopped at the Church store and bought this little reminder. :)

I think the greatest thing is that the closer we get to God and the more we see how He works in our lives, we become that much more amazed with Him and our love increases. He reveals Himself, He changes our hearts, and He changes our lives.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hello's and Goodbye's

There are funny little "catches" with growing up. We transition from rarely having to say goodbye to often having to say it a lot more than we would like to. When we are little, we live with our parents and (for the lucky ones like me) our sibling(s) .. I added the s but I only have one). We go to school with the same people everyday and only say goodbye at the end of the day to be a bright hello the next morning. You have a built in friend set from ages 5 through 13. You go from being the top of the totem pole as an 8th grader to the lowly freshman. There's four more years, new friends, and then more good-bye's at graduation as you depart to different colleges in different states. You say good-bye to family, but only until winter and summer breaks. Another four years pass by at college where you have made some of the best friends and the best memories only to say good-bye at the beginning of May as they all start their new lives as adults with ambitions, careers, and bright futures ahead. If you move back home for a little you say hello to your families only to say goodbye again once the farming employer picks you as the beautiful, new talent (flower) to add to the company (maybe one of your dreams, maybe the stepping stone to get there).

We learn to say goodbye a lot in life as we grow older, move, and transition into new life phases. I have been in a long distance relationship for the past year now and have been lucky enough to see my fiance every 2 to 3 weeks (another reason to praise God for the blessings He has given us in our life that we can afford the time and the travel). As lucky as I am, saying goodbye gets more and more difficult every time and maybe that's a good thing. Every day that I have had Brent in my life has been the most wonderful blessing, and the hard goodbyes and the increasingly harder goodbyes show just how much he means to me. The goodbyes also make the hello's that much sweeter. They make the time together seem so precious, and every single weekend of travel in the past year has brought so many memories that fill me with joy whenever I think about them. Goodbye is hard. Hello is sweet. Love is beautiful.

So how do we love? Why is our love not always perfect? Why are there times when I am selfish rather than loving? The only answer I know of is that I am human and I make mistakes and I (so selfishly) think of myself many times before others. So how can I change? Prayer. God's grace. His mercy. His love. His understanding. Guidance from the Holy Spirit. How can I be guided without being deceived? How do I know when I'm being deceived? Do I need to trust more or to discern more? Who can I trust when a discussion about God is concerned? Everyone has their opinions and their beliefs, but there is one truth not many.

I've been thinking a lot about authority lately especially in regards to Church matters. There are two directions I have seen when it comes to authority. There is either a structured authority with a set of doctrine that is the belief of that Church and the structure on which that Church teaches and stands or there is doctrine that a single community follows and it differs from church to church or leader to leader and even people within the community can interpret and discern scripture differently with their own worldviews mixed in.
I don't believe Christianity to be pick and choose so why are we free to interpret the way we want when my interpretation could be different than yours? Why do people have issues of authority when it comes to church matters but don't question it whatsoever in every other (much less important than matters of the soul) area of their lives?

I have a job as a mechanical engineer where I have to work within company policies and procedures in order to protect intellectual property, ensure customer satisfaction, and make sure that the design matches up with the paperwork. I report to my boss who reports to his boss who reports to his boss and so on until a group of people report to a CEO. If as an employee I did not perform my job within company policy then I am not fully doing my job and could potentially lose that job. Aside from the fact that it would be disregarding my responsibility, it would be taking the job "interpretation" into my own hands. There is a reason for policies within a company. There are military standards and tolerance specifications that we need to follow. It's important information and it was created by people with more experience and who are much more intelligent than I am. I'm trusting these people and their policies when I do my job. If I disregard them, then it could affect design or even my performance as an employee. I don't have much experience as a mechanical engineer with less than a year out of college so I am trusting people who do have the experience and knowledge. I am trusting that my company is going to provide me with the information I need to perform my job without having to create new or conflicting standards as I work.

We live in America. Well I live in America. U.S. of A. We have a President, albeit, I won't speak on what I think of his authority. However, all Americans (including you Mr. President!) have a set of laws to follow. We have a Constitution that directs us all to our rights in this country. We look to our government (maybe this was a bad example) and we trust them to make correct, authoritative decisions.

I am going to rant now so stay with me if you want or skip ahead. There are a lot of things our country today has taken very far out of context and very far away from the constitution and the moral law. One. Abortion. That is preposterous that anyone could even believe that it is anything but murder. An abortion is murder. It doesn't matter how planned parenthood or our government spin it. It doesn't matter how many "feminists" (trust me you aren't a feminist if you are fighting against your fertility) believe in a woman's right to choose. It is a murder and we do have a right to choose. We have a right to choose... this might be a little shocking... to not have sex if you are not ready for a baby (I won't go into the whole marriage thing but that remains too, uncontracepted sex within marriage is the only real sex and the way God designed it). Abortion makes me angry and we have no right to dictate whether another human being lives or dies. Life is sacred and blessed and should be protected. A baby. A human baby has a heartbeat at 3 weeks old and can feel pain at 8 weeks old. If  your heart is beating you are alive. I don't understand how anyone can disregard this? How can that be ignored? Fear should not determine our actions. Love should.

I'll share a comic about abortion. It makes me sad more than anything. We are so quick to tell others when something is unhealthy for them, but when it comes to "sensitive" topics like abortion our nation is so accepting. My company banned smoking on campus because it is unhealthy for us (I don't smoke this is just an example). How much worse for us as women, as human beings, is an abortion that affects us both spiritually and physically?

I've never had one and I never will. I just can't imagine rejecting such a wonderful gift growing inside you. A human being is a precious gift from God. I understand not being ready, but we need to understand that no matter what a business (that's what the abortion industry is... a business selling their product and sadly successfully selling it) tells us as part of their marketing strategy doesn't make it true. Just because McDonald's makes and advertises a "healthy" salad doesn't mean I'm going start a McDonald's diet because I know most of what I'm getting there is unhealthy. They aren't marketing the grease and the calories in our supposedly health conscious America. We need to discern. We need to know what is fact and what is a facade. Trust is important and so is discernment. God gave us a brain for a reason and we should know how to use it.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

I do believe in magic

and in miracles and in divine mercy. I believe in the power of saving grace and in life giving love. I believe the best way to learn to love is by looking to the cross and by bearing our crosses the same way Jesus did -- with patience, humility, forgiveness, boundless mercy, and eternal love. 

This past Sunday was Divine Mercy Sunday and the canonization of Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII so Lighthouse Catholic Media was giving away free mp3 talks Thursday through Sunday of this past week. Today I listened to one by Fr. Jason Brooks called the Saving Power of Divine Mercy. Whenever I listen to a talk at work it is usually good, but I almost always need to listen to it again since I tend to work when I'm at work (who would've thought?). I did pick up the key things though that Jesus seems to be reminding me of on a daily basis (sometimes I don't always listen). He teaches me about love and He teaches me to trust in Him. Again, I was reminded that love is free, total, faithful, and fruitful. My love needs to exemplify Jesus' love in all those ways. I always wish and pray that I was better at loving. Forgiveness and humility are part of love and sometimes those are really hard. It would be nice to never get angry and never be impatient. These are things, especially the patience, that I need to work on daily. He also reminded me to trust in Him. Jesus, I trust in you is a phrase I hear reiterated in many of the mp3s and CDs I listen to. He reminds me to trust Him and I don't always listen. It's part of my weakness. I can only ask for His strength and His mercy to help me overcome my temptations and forgive me for my sin... for all those times when I say that my will is better than His will. It's really nice to have someone who loves you enduringly and endlessly and who is always calling you home. Jesus is awesome like that. He loves me so much (and you) that no matter our transgression He will never stop seeking to bring us back home to Him. He won't force us to love Him and follow Him, but He rejoices when we do. Who could ever be a greater example of love?

This past weekend I went to one of my favorite places on earth -- Disney World. Here are some pictures of my trip. My new Vera Bradley Disney bag, my magic band with Disney accessories, Anna and Elsa and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider in the festival of fantasy parade (I got really excited about the Tangled float. That's why the picture isn't very good. OOPS), and a Tigger I drew at Hollywood Studios!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

"Then after lunch it's puzzles, and darts, and baking,

paper mache, a bit of ballet and chess, pottery and ventriloquy, candle making, then I'll stretch, maybe sketch, take a climb, sew a dress..."

"and I'll keep wondering, and wondering, and wondering, and wondering... when will my life begin?"

Lately, Disney songs have been on repeat in my head. Specifically music from Tangled and Frozen. I don't think any day can be considered a bad one when Disney lyrics are playing in your mind. Isn't it funny how sometimes the songs that become our favorites resonate with our hearts and minds? Any emotion we could ever feel has a song that portrays that feeling and it becomes a part of us. That's how it is for me at least. Through the ages if 14-17, I was convinced Taylor Swift could be my best friend. Even though I didn't own a guitar, she knew that angst I felt at being rejected by a crush. If I had a guitar, the teardrops would have fallen on that. As the young, naive girl I was, she helped me see that I am beautiful, and that you are beautiful, and "someday we were really going to be someone." It was easy to relate to her love of country music and sparkly dresses, her portrayal of a magical "love story", and her understanding that there was that person who was "just another picture to burn."

This isn't meant to be a Taylor Swift post at all actually. I mostly stopped listening to her music once she became more pop and less country. There was one song ("Begin Again"), though, that resonated with me when I was going through a heartbreak that turned into the most wonderful blessing. It portrayed what I was going through at the time. It gave me hope to a new possibility of love. It taught me that there is going to be that person who loves us for everything we are and who shows us that love every single day. In the song she has a line stating "I think it's strange that you think I'm funny 'cause he never did." I don't know what Taylor Swift intended, but I know what I heard. Be yourself and find that person who is going to love you for who that is. Don't compromise. Love is joyful and should be full of life and laughter. I am so blessed to have found that. When I thought I was going through the worst heartbreak, I was given a blessing greater than anything I could have possibly asked for -- I got to know my future husband. He teaches me what love is every single day and he thinks I'm funny (well I think I'm funny, but I'm sure he would agree). Life is wonderful that way. Our pain often leads us to greater joy later on in the journey. Sometimes, our trials and our tribulations, our heartbreaks or our failures are God's way of saying "I have something better for you." We have to be patient and trusting in those times and we have to be faithful because God will never fail us. I have proof that He knows what He is doing because I get to marry Brent in September.

Since God is faithful and He has a plan, why do we (me, I, me, me, me... pointing to myself on this one) have doubts or times where we don't trust Him? Why do we (again me) hope to reach out for tomorrow when we haven't finished what we are tasked with today? Why are there times when we wonder "when will my life begin?"

When I was younger, all I wanted to be when I grew up was everything. I practiced my autograph (and my soccer) from the ages of 8 until 13 because I was going to be the next Mia Hamm. I was going to be a doctor, a lawyer, a teacher, a writer, a pastry chef, an entrepreneur, and an actress. I was going to speak out against injustices such as abortion. I wanted to do everything and part of me still does. Maybe I want to be all those things because one day I can. Mechanical engineer by day, writer (blogger), pastry chef (frozen-meal cooker), and doctor (can find the band-aids and tylenol) by night. Maybe I want to be all these things because I like learning and knowing. Knowledge is valuable and irreplaceable. Life is valuable and worth living. I'm looking forward to the next stages of life. I'm excited to get married in September, but I have to remember to enjoy now: the monthly or bi-monthly travel, the cake tastings, the excitement of saying hello and the pain of saying good-bye. Life is happening and if we (I) just look to tomorrow how will I celebrate the blessings of today?

I watched one of my favorite shows today -- Nashville. The last song they played was called "A Life That's Good". The first bit of it goes like this "Sitting here tonight, by the fire light, it reminds me I already have more than I should. I don't need fame, no one to know my name. At the end of the day, Lord I pray "I have a life that's good." I think it is a good reminder that we (you and me) have a life that's good and we should praise the Lord for that life every morning and every night. We only have this one and we should live it with love in our hearts and trust in all situations that God knows what He is doing and that His plans for us are always better than any we could plan for ourselves.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Conditions of the Heart

The past few months have introduced a completely new world view that I have never had before. It has taken something I have known my whole life to be a comfort and twisted it into this unknown, uncomfortable thing. I've had something I have been proud of my whole life and learned that what I've known and lived as truth is seen by many as an untruth and that scares me. It doesn't scare me because I think they are right it scares me because they have been given incorrect information. Misconceptions and misunderstandings do more damage than good. Sometimes I feel like I've come across a world of people who are taught one thing and without any discernment or even a little research they believe it. It is important, 100% or more, to understand and discern truth. It is important to know that truth especially pertaining to God is objective not subjective. In other words, my truth cannot be your truth and they are both true. Christianity is not and will never be a "pick and choose" religion. The things Christ taught are difficult. We can't choose what we like or don't like. We need to understand and live according to all the difficult teachings. It is a religion of sacrifice. The focal point of the Gospel is of sacrifice and resurrection to new life.

I believe that a lot of Christianity today has become subjective. Different interpretations of scripture ultimately create different "truths" among one denomination to the next. We all love the same Jesus and that is so wonderful. It is beyond wonderful. However, with continued division among the denominations, how can we ever be united? Christ doesn't want His Bride, the Church, to be separated. He wants unity and when we discredit other denominations of Christianity based on misunderstanding and a lack of research then we divide more than we unite. I've talked to someone who has called what they believe a teaching of the Catholic church to be as "blasphemous". His statement was completely false and he didn't understand Catholic doctrine at all, but he 100% believed what he was saying. If we are going to take the time to try to understand God, then we need to make sure we know what we are talking. If you evangelize, evangelize based on truth. There should never be a need, ever, to attack another denomination of Christianity. If you are speaking truth then what you are speaking should be solid and supported enough by the evidence you have in front of you whether that is Scripture or historical evidence there should be no need to discredit someone else if your arguments are based on truth. If Scripture is enough, use Scripture. Base your teachings on that, not what you believe someone else to be wrong about.

I know that probably wasn't very loving but it just makes me angry and sad. We were created with a mind. We should know how to use it. We should get our facts first. I will be the first (maybe second, or last) to admit I don't know everything. How could I possibly? God is infinite, and omnipotent, and omniscient. God is a mystery and I will never understand everything. I do know, though, that I will never base what I believe to be true off a source other than the one who teaches it. If I want to know about Catholicism, then I will go to a legitimate Catholic source like the Catechism of the Catholic Church to make sure I know that doctrine. If I want to know about the Orthodox church, I will go directly to that source. If I want to know about Protestantism, again I will go directly to a Protestant source. Who knows a teaching better than the source? I guarantee you a Catholic priest knows Catholic teachings better than a Protestant pastor just like I can guarantee you that Protestant pastor knows more about Protestant teachings than a Catholic priest. Seek truth. Seek it correctly. Please. And every single day, show love, caring, understanding, patience, and prayer to all your brothers and sisters in Christ.