“New Mercies I See”

I love my dog Cody.

A little over a year and a half ago my family realized what a gift it would be to have a dog. Our lives had finally gotten to the point where we could actually invest time in an animal, a new family member. We discovered this when I dogsat overnight for a friend at our home. Her puppy brought such peace, joy and childlike happiness to our home. This time last year we began looking for a puppy and when I texted my family the picture of Cody (at 7 weeks old), they loved him and we could not wait to bring him home!! I have this maternal drive that will hopefully one day be focused into a family of my own. Until then, I have my furry son haha!!

Eleventh Hour Rescue made the process so easy. They were very supportive and Cody’s transition home went very smoothly. I am so thankful they exist. They travel and resue animals from kill shelters and then place them in foster homes until they are adopted into their “forever homes.” My little man is from West Virginia.

My dog teaches me many things. The thing I knew I would learn, and was longing for, was how to care for something other than myself. To dedicate myself to another living creature. He has taught me to be a good steward of another life. I bathe him, file his nails, brush his teeth, clean his ears, give him his medicine, make sure he has fresh water, rub his belly when he has a belly ache (he groans, it’s so funny!), snuggle him when he’s cold (he’s usually the little spoon), and many many many other things. When he’s hurt he runs to me. I am able to meet his needs in such a cool way.. and he does the same for me. When you see those stickers “Who rescued who?” Well, they’re not kidding!

One of the things I love about Cody is that he trusts me. He waits for my signal to go up and down the stairs. He waits patiently when I feed him. When he hears something that alarms him, he looks to me and is soothed when he hears me say, “It’s okay.” He has this surprising booming bark when he feels protective of us. He follows me around the house because he knows I will take care of him and give him everything he needs. When I travel he sometimes sleeps outside my door and looks outside waiting for me to come home.

I have learned how to understand his language. I know every stance, how his tail is positioned (thanks to my brother’s observation of his curly “gotta poop tail” LOL), the look in his eyes, his whines and barks. He gets MAD when he’s laughed at. If you say the words “walk” or “treat” he get so excited! He has such a personality and he can’t even speak with human words.

Sometimes I just sit with him and watch him sleep. Other times I may be busy doing things and he shows up and lays on me and forces me to stop with my fast-paced life and take him in. He makes me slow down and enjoy him. He is so beautiful.

Adopting and taking care of an animal is not easy. Discipline is the hardest part, but it really pays off. Honestly there were a few times where I felt in over my head and thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t have done this.. Maybe I can’t do this..” But then the thought of Cody with anyone else freaked me out. I can’t imagine him anywhere else and being taken care of by anyone else. And I thank God that He gave Cody to me. Jesus knew what I needed and what needed to be fostered in my heart, so He sent me a dog.

This may sound silly, but thinking about my relationship with Cody reminds me of my relationship with Jesus. It makes me think about how tenderly Jesus cares for us. We were alone and would surely have died in sin without Him. But he pursued us and adopted us as his own. He meets all of our needs so diligently and reminds us that the most important thing is our relationship with Him. I pray that I could look to Him to lead me and trust in Him like my dog trusts in me, and that I accept his care for me.

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

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Surely Your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.”
-Psalm 23 (NIV)

I have learned so much from Cody. I think of him lonely in a West Virginia kill shelter and that he would have been murdered for simply existing. Never having known what it was like to run after a ball, snuggle, being told he was a “good boy” and kissed on his nose. He has lived such a wonderful life already in his past 14 months. God willing, I look forward to the next 10+ years. When I got him, I thought, “Wow, this dog is going to be so important in my life. He will be there when I get married, when I have kids, and it will be hard to lose him one day.” But knowing I was able to give him a long, full, happy life will be so worth it.

Please consider adopting, fostering, donating or even publicizing for Eleventh Hour Rescue.
If you want to check them out, see here: http://www.ehrdogs.org/

I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like when I have kids..


“Let him be like Thee”

This poem was written by a young woman named Ruth.

Let Him Be Like Thee
“Dear God,” I prayed, all unafraid,
(As girls are apt to be,)
“I do not want a handsome man,
But let him be like Thee.

“I do not need one big and strong
Nor one so very tall
Nor need he be some genius
Or wealthy, Lord, at all.

“But let his head be high, dear God,
And let his eye be clear,
His shoulders straight, whate’er his state,
Whate’er his earthly sphere.

“And let his face have character
A ruggedness of soul
And let his whole life show, dear God,
A singleness of goal.

“And when he comes, as he will come
With quiet eyes aglow,
I’ll understand that he’s the man
I prayed for long ago.”

This poem was written by a young woman named Ruth, who eventually married Billy Graham.. who became one of the most amazing examples of both Christian evangelism and biblical social justice. If you don’t know who he is, please look him up. My words really cannot do him justice.

When we think of who we want to marry.. are we praying for what we want? Or are we praying for someone like God, who will bring us closer to Him? Marriage is meant to make us holy, so if we are looking for this cookie-cutter list of things we like versus the partner God has created for us, we are missing the whole point.

Lord, you know everything about me, and You know what I need more than I do. I trust You will send me someone who will bring me closer to You with every moment. I want him to be like You, and to love You first. Because then I know he can truly love me too.

God Bless,

“Christians Are Hypocrites”

How come people say Christians are hypocrites? They don’t practice what they preach, you say? They preach love, forgiveness, chastity, kindness etc etc. But the rest of the world is not preaching these things. The rest of the world may not have the same values, so when they don’t follow those “Christian values”, they don’t stand out as much. They blend in.

When non-believers sin, it might often go unnoticed, but when Christians sin, it is so apparent and clear. The world IS sin, so sin on sin is unnoticeable. But when believers sin it’s like stains or dirt on a white garment. It points out not only how imperfect we are, as is the rest of humanity, but how holy our God is! How amazing is that! That when measured to the standards he sets for us, any impurity can be visible.. because He is so holy and so good. It just shows that we need him all the more.

I’ve had friends tell me before that they aren’t good enough to go to church and they would feel like a hypocrite going. The Lord Himself said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick” (Matthew 9:12). We are ALL sick with this sinful human condition. My sin does not make me closer to God or more loved by God than you.

When you see a self-professed Christian and you think, “They are such a terrible person, how can they go to church and preach these things?” Remember that ALL of us fall so short of the mark God sets for us (see Romans 3:23), and that is why we need Him and that is why he sent Jesus. So that Christian NEEDS to be in church.. and they need to be professing those things they are not following to remind themselves that they too need to follow it. What’s great about Christian community is accountability. Communicating to one another in love our shortcomings and encouraging one another.

But the beauty of recognizing our shortcomings is that He has done something so radical that will wash us clean, and we will wear white too.. One day we will be one garment. The decision you have to make is whether or not you want to be on Jesus’ white one, or the world’s dark one.

White Garment
by Christina Tello

You see what I do
You want me closer to you
With every breath that I breathe

I’m far from the mark
I know who You are
You keep raising the bar for my life

I’m not perfect
I just know that my God says I’m worth it
And so are you
It’s the truth

Our sin is like stains on a white garment
So leap without a harness
Giving in is the hardest
Let His Love wash over you

Lord, please forgive me my shortcomings, because they are many, though often well-disguised. Thank You for Your Son Jesus.. that I may be blameless in Him for what He has done.


“How He loves us, oh”

Hello all! Some beautiful things have been happening in my life and I want to share them with you.

In January, I adopted a wonderful puppy from a great rescue organization called Eleventh Hour Rescue. His name is Cody and we got him at 9 weeks old. He is now almost 10 months. He has brought our family so much joy. It’s also a test of patience, discipline and taking care of another life (food, medical, grooming, etc).

Great practice for motherhood, I suppose! He has been such a blessing.

I decided to start a music ministry and have written about 10 songs (lyrics & melodies). After I did this, I got connected with DSousa Entertainment, which is an artist development LLC founded by one of my high school peers, Diana. We have been working together for a few months now and she has given me wonderful guidance to determine the direction of my ministry.

I have also been studying a lot on God’s design of marriage. I am finding such beautiful and interesting results. I have realized that when God shows me the man He has for me, He will make it so clear. The ball is in His court. I am so thankful for this, otherwise I would certainly miss the boat!

Recently I have been struggling with a few things. I just spent this past week at Camp of the Woods which has been so encouraging to my faith.

Image retrieved from https://www.facebook.com/COTW1900/

On the drive up there I was praying and asking for the Lord to just hold me and show me what He has for me. I know He has forgiven me for who I was and what I did before, but I was struggling to forgive myself. The week’s speaker, Charles Price, put it into great perspective. He emphasized that it’s not how much faith we have that counts, it’s the object in which we put our faith. One could have a great amount of faith in a pencil and it could not do much for them. However, one could have mustard seed-sized faith in God and He will do wonders with that. And I would say I have way more than a mustard seed size faith in God. If I have this faith in Him that He has forgiven me, who am I not to forgive me?

One of the Camp’s missionaries, John Bechtel also spoke to us as he does each year. He was born on the mission field in China and has worked as a missionary for China for over 40 years. He explained the story of their efforts to purchase an old orphanage to start a Christian youth camp. He was trying to raise money and the only thing he got was $1 from a little girl who had donated her week’s worth of ice cream money. The letter enclosed told him to “use it to buy the orphanage.” At first thought, he assumed they may need come up with another way to get the funds. However his wife emphasized the little girl’s orders. He went to the owners of the property and told them he had $1 to purchase the land. The man asked John what it was for and he explained, and let him read the letter from the little girl. Then the man said “So you want to use this land to serve God?” and led him to his father. The family explained to John that the land had been in their family for years and they had been praying that it could be used to further God’s Kingdom somehow. So they gave them the property for $1 to set up the camp. Thousands (if not millions at this point) of believers have accepted Christ through that camp. It’s called Suen Douh.

I would be like John in this story. I would have assumed $1 isn’t going to get us anywhere. But that wasn’t God’s plan. God’s plan was to connect John with this family since they both had the same goal: to serve God. In what ways is God trying to provide for me that I am missing? I don’t think I would have had the insight to think “Wow, maybe God wants me to try to buy this property with $1.” Then I have to remember, God is not this world. He does not function like this world. And we are not of this world either, but of God. So I need to rely on God more and not what I would assume to be the logical sequence of events. Because God has a funny way of doing things that are unusual for this world, like showing up in a manger for example.

God tries to provide for us all the time. He loves us so much that He just wants all of us completely: heart, soul & mind. He tries to provide for us but we are too busy with our eyes on other things than Him. We are so fortunate that He won’t relent or give up on us.

Lord, please give me eyes to see and ears to hear what you have for me. The hardest thing to do is to submit to your plan, but I know it is the only one that works, and I do trust you. I pray for my readers, that they get from this post what you gave to me this past week.


“I Find Nothing Wrong With This Man!”

Hello all! Before the past few years, I never considered myself a religious person. I now find myself believing and saying things I once thought were crazy.. I realize you may think I’m crazy, and that’s ok! However, I believe these things and want to share them with you so they may help in your own spiritual journey or life walk.

God has helped me realize some things recently, which describe what I was feeling before I accepted what Jesus has done for us on the cross. I receive daily Bible verses from Heartlight.org, which come with a brief thought about the passage, as well as a prayer. The one I received this morning was spot-on. Please read Luke 23:1-4 so you can follow along. C’mon! It won’t make much sense to you if you don’t 🙂

Ever since I first learned about Jesus when I was 12, I found nothing wrong with Him. I thought of Him as the best role model and the most righteous human having walked the earth. I thought it was impossible for God to favor anyone, because He loves us all the same after all. Over the past few years, however, I have come to know Him in different way. I have come to understand that before Jesus, there was a veil separating man from God because of man’s sin. Before Jesus, burnt offerings were given as a sacrifice to God, for repentance and to atone for the sin of the offerer. Through Jesus giving up his life on the cross, He is the sacrificial offering, and is the atonement for all the world’s sins. He was resurrected and triumphed over death, as will all believers that receive the gift of salvation. All we have to do is accept Him, and God will take it from there.

The Trinity still baffles me at times, but I have refuge in these things I know for sure. Heartlight says this: “Finding nothing wrong with Jesus, even recognizing him as an important teacher or a righteous leader is not enough. Do we believe he is the Son of
God, our Savior and Lord? Are we willing to base our lives on his death, burial, and resurrection by confessing him and sharing with him in his saving work through baptism? Do we believe that he can transform us totally by pouring his Holy Spirit into our hearts and working his will in our lives? Jesus must be far more than a good guy and a great teacher. He must be our Lord! If he is not, then we will simply put him into the most convenient place in our lives rather than letting him totally transform us.”

If you believe this, please share in this prayer that Heartlight has shared with at least thousands of other believers.

Holy and righteous Father, please do your work in my life. I believe that Jesus, your Son, is the Messiah, my Savior and my Lord. I fully trust that he lived on earth as a human like me and that he gave up his life on the cross, that he was buried, and that you raised him from the dead. Please conform me to his character through the Holy Spirit who is at work in me. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

To enroll for daily Bible verses and other goodies, please go to Heartlight.org.

May God richly bless you!!


“The Power Dynamics of Racism”

This past month has raised a lot of issues for me regarding race. It was sparked by my attending a workshop during the Call to Action 2010 conference, entitled “The Power Dynamics of Racism.” The details are too impacting not to share.

The presenters were a black female and a white male, and behind each of them was a board with words taped to them. For the black female, the words were effects of racism that someone of color must carry with them at all times. For the white male, the words were the effects of privilege that someone who is white carries at all times. One by one, they discussed the terms and taped them to their bodies. The final effect was very eye-opening, even a month after with my reflection.

They told a story of a grocery store in a poor, mostly black, neighborhood that was used to getting produce that was in bad condition. The store owner was upset that the company could not provide them with better quality products. One day, he received a shipment with the freshest, highest quality produce he had ever been delivered. The workers began taking the items off the truck and into the store. The owner was excited that his customers could have healthier choices. Then, the driver got out of the truck and told them that he had made a mistake- this produce was to go to the other store (the one on the rich, white side of town). Someone is making these decisions! This cannot be a coincidence. Another good point made by the presenters was, “no one says we don’t have money for war, but there’s a Myth of Scarcity for social programs.” The war on the streets is discounted by funding for assistance and focused into the judicial and correctional systems, where, 3.5 black to 1 whites are held.

As it was a progressive Catholic conference, the presenters spoke of the Christian’s call to eradicate racism with love, time and effort.

Near the end of the presentation, I got up to give my testimony. I told them about a time earlier this year when one of my friends made a racist remark. She didn’t mean to be racist, but the comment was very offensive. As we were with a group of people, I wanted to wait until we were alone to address it with her. Time passed and I didn’t speak to her about it. A few weeks later, she said it again and one of my other friends heard the comment, and was very upset and offended. I felt very responsible for this occurrence. If I had told her, maybe she would have realized the racism behind it and that it is hurtful. This workshop reminded me of this, and also made me think about Jesus.

I spoke about how as a white, middle class female, I have been taught to wait until things are “appropriate.” To read social cues and respect boundaries. To function and go along with everything. These are good things, but not when they impact standing up against forms of oppression. Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus wait until things were appropriate to speak with someone about their wrongdoings. In each parable he gave analogies to show people why they should change their actions. I think this is why the parables don’t show Jesus listening, then turn to weeks later when he actually confronts them. People need to be held accountable, and if we wait until it’s “appropriate,” we are condoning the behavior as appropriate until we actually deal with it. I am not willing to believe that racism is appropriate for even one second.

There has also been notable discussion in school. We learned about Liberation Theology earlier this week, and listened to a speaker from the original movement decades ago, who described institutional racism as “white people oppressing black people.” Some people may not understand this, but I definitely do. People may not like it because they don’t think they are responsible for poverty. White people in this case are the majority that is deciding where our money is going, who gets jobs, who pays taxes, who has access to basic resources. Black people in this case are the oppressed; those living with access to less and do not have as much power as the wealthy. I also recognized that as a white person, I am responsible for this inequality as a privileged person because I have more (privileged) power than the oppressed to change it, and I am a participant in this system, whether I like it or not.

One of my classmates commented, “I don’t understand why he’s blaming white people for black people’s problems. Why don’t all the basketball players and rappers give back to their communities? Why isn’t it their fault?”

I firmly agree that those able should give time and money to help people living in poverty. But why are black people the only ones responsible for black people? How come rich white people cannot be held accountable for poor black people? And for anyone else in poverty? Are we not one world, one nation, one people? When we blame black people we make it a “black problem.” This isn’t a black problem, it’s everyone’s problem. You either deny there’s institutional racism and hold people accountable for helping one another, or admit there’s institutional racism and deal with it (whether that means people doing nothing because they don’t mind or people doing something because they do). It doesn’t make sense to say there is not institutional racism and neglect to hold people accountable for helping one another. Unless someone believes that no one should be looking out for anyone else. In that case I strongly doubt that that person would be a Christian.

In a class later that day, our professor showed us a quote that resonated with me. “If you are here to help me, you are wasting your time. If you are here because your liberation is tied up with mine, then let us help one another.” All of our liberation is tied up together. We are united in Christ. We are victims of an institutional racism unless we take charge of our own liberation and stop waiting for it to be appropriate to care about people. Social justice is never going to be popular, because it changes everything. It takes away abundant comfort and gives back sustainability and interdependence. These latter things take work and compromise.

Reflecting on the 3.5 black to 1 white person in prison, one either has to believe that racism is institutional or that black people are naturally defective. I am unwilling to believe that any human being does not have potential, and is not capable of making a good life for themselves if the system in which they are living allows. A certain type of race isn’t lazy. A certain type of race is not better than any other. God made people and He does not make mistakes. Man made government and economic systems, and they are indeed faulty, causing a surplus available to some and poverty available to others. As these are our creation, we have the power to make something defective more effective for the welfare of God’s creation.


“Was Jesus ‘Cool?'”

I knew when I left the Catholic Charities Service Corps that I would be faced with many challenges. I couldn’t think of a way to prepare for a time when I knew I might feel lonely or misunderstood. However, I knew I would have my community to keep me grounded in intentionality and focused on positive change.

Graduate school is very interesting. I love the curriculum, my classmates and professors. They all challenge me to think about new issues and explore to find truth. The only thing that is missing from my education is God.. We don’t talk about faith that much. I’ve become really involved in my church, so I get support and faith community from them. I have also encouraged my classmates to deepen their faith. It’s so hard to minister to people who are unwilling. Faith is the type of thing you don’t understand unless you have it. It is fulfilling in so many ways.

At my undergraduate college, people were always worried about not being cool. Well, you know what? Jesus wasn’t ‘cool.’ I’m talking about the radical, forgiving, amazing Jesus. Not the ‘died for our sins so we don’t have to do anything but say thanks’ Jesus that has been simplified in a comfortable faith. But I don’t think someone who goes directly against everything our society promotes would be considered cool, so I’m okay with that.

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you.”
John 15:20-21 “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me.”

So right there Jesus is telling us ‘look, you’re going to have a hard time. But so did I.’ To me, the fact that Jesus faced persecution and rejection motivates me to know that I can make it through.

Of course the world hated him- everything he spoke was against the structures of that time. Why would people support someone who makes their life ‘uncomfortable?’ That’s exactly what I think we’re called to be- uncomfortable. So if I am perfectly happy with everything in the world and everyone loves me, I can know that I must not be paying enough attention to Jesus.

Just because God is powerful and loves us, doesn’t mean that Satan isn’t powerful and can’t hurt us. Also, the fact that we believe in Jesus and God doesn’t automatically make us Christians. After all, Satan believes in Jesus and God. But he does not follow them. Do we follow, or just believe?

I know I still have a lot of things to work on, so I’m lifting my problems up to God and asking him to help me.

“You’ll Never Be the Kind of Christian You Want to Be, So Stop Trying”

When I left my life as a CCSC volunteer in Buffalo, I went with my best friend Sarah right to a Christian camp in the Adirondacks, Camp of the Woods. The people were amazingly friendly, setting beautiful, and I really loved the services. They had many different events, including an evening concert and carnival, and it was comforting to see God included in every part of the camp. At night we got ice cream and spent time with friends of Sarah and her family. One even built his own telescope! He showed us many different stars and told us about them. I love science. I feel sad when people say science contradicts God, because to me, science helps us learn more about the miracle we live every day.

There was one speaker at the camp with whom I strongly disagreed. As this was one event out of many, this doesn’t ruin the whole experience for me. He doesn’t represent the views of the camp as a whole.

He used an example of looking at a place where one wants to be on a map. Looking at the map, it may seem tangible, but one might not realize how much work goes into getting there. He said people sometimes think there’s a perfect Christian and they try non-stop to be that person. He said people may feel burned out or frustrated when they don’t measure up to their goal. He said, “You’ll never make it to where you want to be, so stop trying!”

He was talking about the Old Testament, and in Jesus’ death, we are redeemed from following the rules of the Old Testament. This is supported by the Old Testament focus on revenge and New Testament focus on forgiveness. However, what he said was, “Because Jesus died, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy, and thank him.”

First, sir, you’re giving this speech to people who can afford to go to a Christian camp for vacation! Did you not consider your audience? Yes, I would like to believe that all Christians are passionate about social justice, but unfortunately, in every religion complacency is not impossible. I was so upset with the possibility of how his words would be translated in the camp-goers’ heads. After his speech, I looked around and no one looked positively affected. No one seemed fired up, thanking God. I was very upset and when Sarah and I got back to our room to rest, I wrote a journal entry starting with three of his quotes, the last of which I actually do agree.

“You’ll never make it to where you want to be, so stop trying!”
“Because Jesus died, all you have to do is sit back and enjoy, and thank him.”
“We don’t HAVE to praise God, we want to! We GET to! Throw away what you thought of religion. Throw away the rules of religion. You’re either burned out or tired of it.”

This last one, I can understand. I do believe that no one has to do anything. One can choose their actions and face the consequences.
Some view religion/church as a non-negotiable structure, in which you must follow all rules to be a good member. But I think they should throw away relying solely on structure to support their faith. If not, if their church is gone, then where is their faith? Religions and churches are just medians through which faith is expressed in community. What is your faith?

Jesus did anything but promote complacency. Yes, it is good to take time to enjoy all God has given us, but just look at the Sermon on the Mount! Jesus challenges us to do things that might not be socially acceptable. People might not understand why someone would fly across the country to see a sick family member who has given them the cold shoulder. But people don’t have to understand. We don’t need them to understand because we know God does. People may look at that person and see a “pushover,” while I think God sees a forgiving, loving heart. And I think he smiles on that.

Yes, we will never be the perfect Christian we want to be. But to tell someone to stop trying, I think, is to tell them to stop listening to Jesus. When we try, and especially when we fail, God knows what’s in our hearts and I believe he sees that as the “perfect Christian.” Any one who challenges themselves to do as Jesus did and take up his cross. I can’t accept the thought that because Jesus suffered for us, we are released from what he called us to do. That would be like saying he died for nothing. And that is just not true- he died for everything. And that’s what I think we should give him- everything. What are we giving him if we just “sit back and enjoy?” “Thanks” only. We are verbally or mindfully saying “thanks” for all he did. But why aren’t we showing him thanks? Actions speak louder than words. When we do service, when we pray, when we forgive, I think we are saying, “Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for teaching us. Thank you for loving us. Thank you for putting me in a country where I can freely praise you without fear of persecution. Thank you for blessing me with a lot of money, and giving me the privilege to help those from different situations. Thank you for the ability to be you more in this world, so that people may fully see your light.” Without that action, “thanks” is just an empty word. Jesus is God’s son, but we must remember he was human. So take him down from the “I can never accomplish what he did” pedestal and TRY. If not, he died for our complacency while our brothers and sisters die of hunger and violence, and while we ruin the earth God gave to us to tend to and enjoy.

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Ghandi. Be Jesus.

“Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for everyone and there’s a cross for me.”(Lyrics from “Praise His Holy Name”)

Jesus, thank you for putting this man in my path, so I can channel my anger with his speech to getting fired up to bear my cross.


“The Glory of God is Dimmed”

“We realize through our relationships with the marginalized that when one of our brothers and sisters is suffering, they cannot participate fully in that body of Christ. The glory of God is dimmed.”

This quote is one of the many we were given to contemplate before one of our retreats. I thought about it in many ways. First, I thought about my friends and family. When they are extremely stressed, they do not speak of God. The only thing they seem to be able to focus on is the dilemma at hand, and they sometimes feel like God doesn’t care about them. If this is what they feel, I can only imagine what it is like for those who truly suffer every day, from starvation, physical and emotional abuse, neglect, harassment, and many other forms of severe pain.

I then thought about responsibility for one another. Though I value independence, I value it in an interdependent manner. Everyone is part of the larger community of the human race and the world.. This quote helps it seem as though it is our responsibility to help those who cannot experience the full glory of God in their suffering. This makes it impossible to say that someone’s suffering “is not my problem.” Everyone’s suffering is my problem under this philosophy. I’m not saying that I’m going to attack everyone and cure their problems, or that it is even possible. What I am saying is that I think we are not meant to be blind and turn away to the suffering of others, but are meant to do whatever we can.



“Fall in Love”

“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” – Pedro Arrupe, S.J.

I came across this quote on my good friend’s Facebook, and was moved at the pure truth that is summed up in a single paragraph. This world is full of so many things that can be used as distractions, and I think it is crucial to find out for ourselves our priorities. My priorities have definitely changed this year. While I still enjoy using the computer, watching tv and texting, I understand that those ways of communicating are not best for relationships. I also spend a lot more time outside and am going to plan more service projects to put action to my intentions. My priorities are more-so on people and working on my relationship with God than entertainment. And the entertainment I choose to deploy more appropriately supports my priorities than it used to.

I think we deploy distractions instead of faith because that’s what we’re used to, or we are not up to digging deeper within ourselves to expose that raw beauty and vulnerability. It’s easy to have a comfortable faith that begins and ends on Sundays. It doesn’t take much mental or emotional effort to throw money at charities. Sometimes we are afraid of finding the ugly things that dwell inside of us.

The truth is that it hurts to be vulnerable. I am trying, day by day, to fully open myself up to God to see all that’s in me- the irrational, immature, self-centered part of me, and have asked Him to help me rid myself of those things. And while it hurts to look at that part of myself, I feel the love of acknowledging the ugly and I know that with God, it is transformed to beauty.

I learned so much amazing music in my college choirs, but it is this year, during my somewhat “spiritual awakening,” that it is coming back to me. The Father Arrupe quote above reminds me of one piece in particular, “My Song in the Night.” My favorite line from it is “Why should I wander, an alien from thee? Or cry in the desert, thy face to see?”

As I have begun this deepening of my faith, I realize that I sometimes deviate and get complacent and comfortable, forgetting there is a lot to be done. God then knocks me right off my horse! It can be anything that moves me- a song, a movie, an interaction with someone who challenges me to compassion, that says to me “Hey, you! You KNOW your work isn’t done yet! Your break is over!” almost like someone who accidentally took an unusually longer lunch break. Once I realize it, I say, “Ah, I see what you’re doing! Indeed you are tricky! And I think I understand what you mean.” I am then moved back to that place of deepening contemplation, and that lyric comes to mind. Why would I want to wander from you? Why would I want to cover my eyes so that it’s harder to see you, and close myself off from the suffering of my brothers and sisters? That’s the exact opposite of what I want.
My wish for myself is that I never stop allowing God to shake me up so I can pay attention to the work I am called to do and to act as Jesus did. My wish for you is that you fall in love with and deepen your faith in God, so that you feel complete throughout your soul.

Peace 🙂