Show Me Your Friends, I’ll Show You Your Future

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My spiritual journey started when I was in college. I observed people drinking, smoking weed, and having sex. I reached out to a Christian friend of mine that basically told me I need Jesus. That was the jumping off point that led me to the Church.

Recently I had been spending time with a nice young man. He is kind, compassionate, and sensitive. Our time together was precious to me because he was always so gentle and understanding, but also challenged me to get out of my comfort zone. Like most young women, I tried to take part in his life and connect with his social group. Now that the Lord has called the two of us to part ways, I’ve realized when the young man and his friends were together, they are like the friends I had in college.

In my opinion, drinking to drunkenness is a waste of time and engaging in erroneous bedroom activities is inconsiderate of one’s future spouse. I want to grow spiritually, intellectually, and physically through dialogue, books, movies, hikes, trips to museums and the theatre. These were not the folks for that; not to say they never did any of those things, it’s just what they did most of the time.

I am someone who wants to be married and have a family. I often look to the future (more than I should), and it impacts the choices I make in the present. I like to be around people that understand the long term implications of the decisions they make rather than only temporary distractions or satisfactions. I would like to be around people who know how to have healthy, productive fun most of the time. I am conscious of saying, “most of the time,” because I know people like to celebrate birthdays, holidays, bachelor parties, etc.

These behaviors were not fun or cool to me when I was 18, they aren’t fun or cool to me at 24. Although our time alone was spent doing things I enjoyed like hearing stories of his travels, walking in the woods with his dog, or going bowling, when he moved in with a friend, the chance of him partaking in activities that I didn’t enjoy, went up.

Now, I don’t think this was the reason we stopped spending time together, but hindsight is 20/20. I pray for him and his friends, that each of them lead happy, healthy, peaceful lives. I want nothing but the best for each of them, but I don’t think we are meant to be the best of friends. I don’t know what the future holds for any of us, but I want to work toward my dreams of traveling and goals of having a family. To do that, I must surround myself with people who feel the same way.

Have a sparkly day!

Safe With Me

For the past few months I’ve been seeing someone. Like all super cool millennials, we never identified what we were. I certainly got more attached than I should have, we are unevenly yoked. Every time we spent time together, I prayed our time together would be focused on good things, not sinful things. I am tremendously grateful to the Lord for keeping us from sinning against our own bodies.

One day I went into contemplative prayer about this young man. The Lord said to me, He is safe with you. It is hard for me know exactly what he meant, but I think about it a lot, especially since the young man and I have stopped seeing each other. I think I am/was close to true Christian love for him, closer than I’ve been to anyone else. To love someone is for them to be safe with you. So I thought I’d share some practical things about living in Christian love:

  1. I will pray for him. The definition of love is to will the highest good for another person. The highest good for all of us is perfect union with the one who created us. Above all other things I want for and from him, I wish he becomes the man God has made him to be and to develop a relationship with our Lord.
  2. I will keep his secretes. Sharing your heart with another person is far from easy. Trust is one of the most difficult and complicated aspects of human relationships. I am grateful he felt safe enough with me to share things with me. I will hold those secrets in my heart, just as I hold my own.
  3. I respect him. Although I don’t agree with everything he does, and there are times my selfish desires get the better of me, I will respect him. God loves us truly and part of that love is respect for us and the freedom to make our own choices. This is the reason bad things happen, the freewill of people. Well that’s a whole other post. Back to the point, I respect him and his choices, even if those choices are not my ideal scenario.
  4. I will tell him the truth. Love isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, contrary to what Hallmark movies and RomComs want us to think. There are times when the person we love makes poor choices or hurts our feelings. For this, I will tell him when he is wrong. We can only be held accountable for the things we know. If he doesn’t know how his choices can impact another person, he is likely to hurt someone else in the same way. Therefore, I will tell him when he is wrong. Whether or not he listens, is another story and goes to point number three.
  5. I will defend him. If I’m honest, he’s a pain in the butt sometimes. But contrary to what he wants people to think, he’s not a bad person. Many people say negative things about him  (including myself), but not anymore. I will defend him against anyone who says an ill, misinformed word against him. I know he is a truly beautiful person inside and out.

I am only human and there are times when my selfish desires to be with him get in the way of Christian love. Luckily, God gives me the grace to love truly and completely. When my moments of weakness arise, I pray and remember these things that make us capable of love.

Christian Yogi

For the past year or so I have been on a journey of health and fitness. I looked at myself in the mirror one day and realized I was not treating my body with the level of respect it deserves, being a masterpiece of the Father, temple of the Holy Spirit, and worth the Son’s death on a cross. So I began watching what I eat and going to the gym regularly. I have definitely seen some improvements, and I think at the end of time, when I have to give my accounting for what I have done with God’s resources, I hope he finds me a good steward of my body. But this post isn’t really about my entire fitness story, it is about a relatively new aspect of my fitness journey: yoga. I know you are probably thinking, “Can Catholics do yoga?” Well I haven’t read anything that says no, I’ve checked the Scriptures, Catechism, and Vatican writings. I haven’t found anything that says a Catholic cannot do yoga. What I have found is a quote from Pope Francis saying that yoga, among other things, does not lead us to God. My question for that statement is, does my morning commute lead me to God?

It is my opinion, that you get what you put into things. If I spend my morning commute praying a Rosary, contemplating that days readings, or doing an examination of conscience, then I have just baptized my morning commute. I’ve turned it from something dead and uneventful, and turned it into a spiritual expression and devotion to God. In the same way, yoga practiced without Christ in one’s heart, is a waste of an hour. I use the word baptize purposefully. We are all dead to sin before we are baptized. But by God’s grace we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and then are able to draw into deeper relationship with our Father in Heaven. Does that mean we were not touched by God before we were baptized? No, all things in existence only exist because God allows it to. God is omnipotent and omnipresent, EVERYTHING is touched by God. We just have to find him.

That is a Catholic practice, finding God in all people and circumstances. Jesus tells us to love our neighbor and the Church teaches the way we do that is by seeing that our neighbor is also made in the image of God. The Church is against the death penalty no matter how heinous the crime, because who are we to deny someone the opportunity of repentance and reconciliation? Because of this, I baptize my yoga practice. Where Buddhist yogis use “om” as a mantra, being the sound that started the universe, I have “Jesus, I trust in you,” the words of St. Faustina. Where Hindu yogis meditate to clear their mind, I meditate to drill down on the great m
ysteries of our faith like the incarnation.

I never want to avoid something because someone says it isn’t from God, I’d rather find God in it. I love Harry Potter, sorcery is strongly against all Christian teachings. Yet I watch it because I find my Lord in a young man willing to sacrifice himself for the good of his friends. Rather than locking ourselves in our beautiful stained-glass towers, maybe we should see what other people are doing and show them how Christ has been trying to touch them through it. God is everywhere, including yoga, we just have to find him.

3 Components of Courtship: God

The purpose of a courtship is to determine if the Lord is calling two people into the vocation of marriage with one another. So obviously, God has to be at the center of the relationship. Keeping the Lord at the heart of your courtship allows for greater discernment, trust, and appreciation for the other person. If Jesus is at the center of your life, and he is at the center of a young man’s life, then Christ will also be in the center of your courtship, and more importantly at the center of a marriage. Relationships and marriages today are tough to maintain and only by the grace of God can lasting marriages be made. You both need to know that your strength comes form the Lord and that it is he who brings two people together.
So what exactly does this look like in a courtship? Eucharist is the source and summit of our faith so attending Mass together would be a good opportunity to allow Christ into the heart of your relationship. Sitting next to each other and enjoying the Sacrifice of the Mass can bring two people together spiritually in a way that nothing else can. Not to mention, you can also discuss Father’s homily on your next date. Holy hours are also a great way to place Eucharist at the center of your life. Although, there is no talking in Chapel, there is an intimacy to be shared between the two of you and the Lord in quiet prayer.
Try going to church events together and reading spiritual books. These events can draw you guys into deep conversation about how the Lord is working in your lives as individuals and as a couple. Bible study I think is another great way to connect hearts. I have written a courtship bible study for you guys to get to know one another better. The link is below. Studying God’s word can reveal to both of you the importance God puts on the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
You need to pray separately, with your families, and as a couple. Always remember that it is God who brings two people together, not family, not mutual friends, not common interest, Christ alone. And by his grace, the two of you will be able to discern his will in your lives and, if it is in his will, for the two of you to be together for the rest of your lives.

 

In the comments below, let me know what you think about courtship and God. Also, subscribe because tomorrow I will be hosting a linkup for all you bloggers. Thanks for stopping by and have a sparkly day!

If I Ran the World

When I had writers block and I took to Pinterest to find some inspiration, I stumbled upon a lovely question: What would you do if you ran the world? I love this question! So here are 5 things that came to mind:

 

  1. Uplift: My primary goal as leader of the world would be to lift all people to higher levels in all positive aspects of life. That means lifting people out of poverty, food insecurity, homelessness, mental illness, and educational disadvantages. I’m sure this is at least one of the goals of all world leaders, yet they are all unsuccessful in solving all the world’s problems. I think this is sometimes where things go awry for those of us being led by those leaders. One cannot make everyone happy all the time. For example, taxes must be raised in order to provide basic human rights like health care. The people who are now receiving amazing affordable care are delighted they now have access to well trained medical professionals, but the people who have to pay more in taxes are displeased because they could use that money for their families needs. I guess having the goal of lifting ALL people is ambitious and impossible. There will always be hunger in the world, there will always be a homelessness in the world, there will always be limited access to drinking water in the world, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fight to solve these problems. It means we should work hard, pray harder, and enjoy the merits of the corporal works of mercy.
  2. Teacher and Student: At a bible study, I once heard that at all points in our lives, we are both student and teacher. If I ran the world I would want have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge of other people, cultures, the arts, the sciences, and all the things this glorious universe has to offer. I would also like to lead by example and share my knowledge and experience with those who may benefit from it. I would want to be the type of teacher that talks the talk and walks the walk. Rather than just raising money in my cushy castle for the hungry, actually going to soup kitchens and meeting people where they are to look them in the eye and shake their hand. This, I hope, would encourage others to do the same.
  3. Honesty: I would like to be honest about my failures. I’m not perfect, none of us are. We should all be striving for perfection by attempting to be the perfect model of Christ, but all fall short of the glory of God. We live in a world where failure is shameful rather than being a stepping stone on the way to success. We only ever hear about really successful people failing, after they’ve already achieved success. I would like to be a symbol of imperfection constantly standing back up. So many of our leaders, political and cultural, are not honest with us: butt injections, hair medication, how much money is being stored in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes. I would want to be the type of leader that people can know isn’t always right, but is always trying to become better.
  4. T.E.A.M Work: I believe Together Everyone Achieves More and I would want to bring this to my leadership. A family succeeds when all members support and encourage one another, a community works when everyone does their part, a country prospers when people listen and have dialogue about the important issues they face. If I ran the world, I would want to be the type of leader that knows I may be the first among equals, and everyone has a voice that deserves to be heard. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Our cultural and political leaders build their microcosms of people who reinforce their views, and when someone defects, they are kicked out of the herd. This is no ways to lead, and it’s no way to live. The success of a leader is dependent upon the success of the people they are leading and visa versa. I wish everyone knew this, and if I ever had the chance to run the world, I hope I would remember this.
  5. Culture and Sport: Everyone loves music in some form or another, everyone loves art in some form or another, everyone loves sport in some form or another. We spend all day fighting about the important issues of the day, but manage to come together to celebrate our favorite football team. We spend all day discussing the challenges the people around us are facing and how the other side of the isle is holding us back, but we come together to enjoy movies. Debate and dialogue have a critical part to play in the continued evolution of a society, but culture and sport are unifiers. These things should be encouraged, not defunded. We need them in order to keep us from falling into a perpetual pit of division. If I ran the world, I would participate in cultural explorations and at least watch competitive sports. They have so much to teach us about healthy competition, good sportsmanship, respect for others, and expanding our minds so we do not fear the unknown.
This prompt was so much fun! I realize it is very unlikely I’ll ever rule anything but a few kids in a classroom, but I still enjoyed writing this post. It is a two edged sword, to rule anything, because you can’t make everyone happy, and sometimes decisions have to be made by the leader that the followers won’t understand. But that doesn’t mean our cultural and political leaders shouldn’t work to always make the world a better place than the way they found it. These are the things I would try to do, what about you?

Meditation

Last night as I was meditating, the Lord came to my heart. As I typically do, I ran my hands around his hands. I noticed his soft fingers with clean, short fingernails. No rough edges or marks on them other than a large clean hole right in the middle. There was no blood or hanging flesh, there was no bone exposed but it was red inside. He also had traces of hair on his wrists and back of the hand. For a great deal of time, I just sat playing with his hand. He brought us to a spot in a plush wood and he sat with his back against a tree. I could hear the sound of a waterfall in the distance. As he sat with one knee in the air, I pulled myself into him and placed my ear to his Sacred Heart. I began to slow my breathing to meet his steady heartbeat with my own. Mother came and sat smiling with us. Then a baby appeared in my arms. A beautiful tiny infant, only a few days old. He had a little fuzzy hair, brown eyes, and a delicate little smile. When he yawned, I smiled. I felt such great peace, contentment, and love for this little child. I spent much time rubbing his cheek and head, giving him kisses and holding him as close to my heart as my body was to the heart of Jesus. Then the Lord said, “Give me your baby.” I was taken aback by the idea of this tiny infant being my child. I did love him dearly, but I had no husband and I’ve never given birth. I looked Jesus in his brown eyes and he repeated, “Give me your baby.” I looked back to my son and found myself unable to give him up. Then Mary stepped in and said, “Give Him your baby.” I began weeping strongly at the thought of giving up my beautiful boy. He was such a tiny thing, so warm and fragile. I didn’t want him to be anywhere except my arms. The Mother repeated, “Give Him your baby.” I wasn’t ready to give him up. I cried and kissed him on his forehead. His beautiful brown eyes remained closed as he slept comfortably in my arms only twitching a few times. I wept louder and began repeating to myself, “Give Him the baby.” I know God’s plan is always good, I know he would never do anything to hurt my baby, yet I could not bring myself to hand over my only son. I weep now as I recount the anguish my heart felt as I stared down on that tiny little human, my tiny little human. After repeating to  myself, “Give Him the baby,” many times, I handed my infant son to my Lord Jesus. Immediately I was in the streets of Jerusalem on the day of my Lord’s sufferings. I watched as the same Jesus that held me at the tree in the woods, carried a cross larger than he was, beaten by soldiers, and spat on and had feces thrown at him as he walked the streets. I saw Veronica wipe the sweat and blood from his face. I followed by removing my white church veil to wipe his beautiful face and kiss him. A faint smile through such extreme pain broke his lips but only for a moment. The whips at his back returned and he continued to move. I stood at the cross when they rose him upon it. I found a stool near by to climb on in order to hold his body up so he could breathe. He was too heavy and he was too weak to even speak. He was bloodied and broken, nothing like the man in the woods. His heart was erratic and his breath inconsistent, not like it was in the woods. I again wiped his face with my veil and held his face in my hands. I could not take this pain away. I called for help but no one answered me. There were people around but they just stood and watched as I continued to try to help him breathe and keep blood from his swollen eyes. There was nothing I could do, then he died. When he was taken from the cross, I dropped to my knees and screamed. I screamed and I screamed, wailing until I had no voice. All the pain I felt came out of my belly and through my mouth. I was broken. It was then dusk and I lay curled in a ball in front of the large rock where Jesus was buried. I laid crying alone in the cold night, puling my clothing tightly around me to keep warm. My tears warmed my face. I stopped wailing, but the crying didn’t end.

That is where my meditation ended. At first, I thought Jesus was asking me to give up my dreams of being a wife and mother when we were in the woods. I have fears about the possibility of being called to religious life. All I have wanted for year is to be a wife and mother, yet I am not. I must trust God’s timing, I thought. Now I fear I must trust God’s call. For the past couple weeks I’ve been dealing with the fact that this may be the vocation I am being called to. Putting my child in God’s hands felt like a gesture of release of my dreams for myself. But when I left my meditation, I realized I was the Blessed Mother. I was Our Lady with an infant without giving birth or having relations with a man. I was Mary as I let go of my beautiful boy and placed him in the arms of God with the hope that he would be protected. I was the Mother that wanted to clean my son’s face on his way to Calvary, and hold him up so he could breathe. I was her as the body of my son was taken from the cross as I screamed without unconsolably. I was Mary as I fell asleep in the cold wrapped in a ball outside the tomb where my son had been buried. I was Mary. The first time I prayed Stations of the Cross, I was moved to tears as I united myself to the Mother of God as she sacrificed her son for the sake of sinners like me. In my mediation, I was again united to her sorrows. Yet I continue to sin, I continue to fall short of my obedience to God, I still lack trust in God, I still fear what it will mean for me to give up my dreams to accept an alternative vocation. I pray for Mary’s obedience, courage, and trust. I am thankful to have the opportunity to experience her sorrows, but I hope to also experience her virtues.

Being Content

I am a huge worrier! Most of my time is spent worrying. I met with Father Smiles awhile back and he reminded me about being content and living in the moment. For those of us who worry too much, it usually comes from thinking too much about what has been or what will be, and not enough about what is being. Father suggested that in the moments of unrest about the past or concerns about he future, I take some time to consider how I’m feeling in the present. I have found that I am usually unhappy. I wonder if I’m thinking about the past or the future because I’m not satisfied with the present.
As I have spent time praying over this, I have felt the Lord say to me that I can trust him to take care of the future. He usually follows with the question, “Can I trust you to take care of the present?” We have all heard the quote that the present is what happens when we are too busy worrying about tomorrow. This is exactly what the Lord has placed on my heart. In all my times of stress about getting something done for tomorrow, he reminds me that he has given me tasks for today that need to be done. I have to learn to let him have the future because it’s not in my control. Today is in my control so I can only do what he has asked me to do today.
Other times I worry about the past. I have made a lot of mistakes in my life and I worry about how they will affect the people in my life now and the people that will be in my life later. In these moments Jesus reminds me that his mercy  overflows and his love for me is enough to cover my past. I think this is one to the most important things for us to remember. God is mercy and love, he forgives our sins and asks us to go and sin no more. By the grace of God the sins I struggled with become easier and easier to avoid. In times of worry about the past I have to remember what Jesus says to the woman caught in adultery.
The key to being content is to not live in the future or in the past. For me, the key is living each moment as the Lord blesses me with it. There is nothing I can do to change what Past Lexie did and I can’t do too much to control Future Lexie either. I can only worry about what Present Lexie is doing. Will I trust the Lord’s mercy with my past? Will I trust the Lord’s plan with my future? Can the Lord trust me to do what I need to do for him today? If I spend all my time worrying, then he can’t trust me. So when I catch myself thinking too much about the past or the future and not enough time on the present, I go to prayer and ask for the grace to trust him and live this moment for him.
Have a sparkly day!