38 Days

Christmas is 38 days away. I have 38 days of Advent in front of me. That really is not a long time.

Earlier this evening, I was looking at all of the things that I have to accomplish in the next 38 days. I have work demands. I have school goals. A dear friend is getting married in 31 days. There are some potential changes in my future. And some of those things can feel big and scary. Some of them make me nervous. Others can be a bit overwhelming.

But it’s 38 days. And each of these 38 days is in the hands of God. That is not a scary thought. These 38 days are in a good and safe place. They are in the safest place ever. They may not be easy. They may bring challenge and change. I do not know exactly what my life will look like in 38 days.

But I do know who holds those 38 days. I know that they are held by someone who loves me and desires only the best for me. That best may not always be fun or easy or comfortable. But it is good. HE is good.

And really, 38 days…that is not so many days. That is not so much time. Yes, much can happen in 38 days, but God will not bring me to anything that he cannot or will not bring me through.

Bring it on.

” For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

-Jeremiah 29:11

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”

Luke 1:38

Advent Focus

It’s beginning to look a lot like Advent!

This year, I decided that I wanted a theme  or focus for my advent. I thought about and prayed with a few.

First, I thought about “In God’s will is our peace.” It’s beautiful, but it didn’t feel quite right.

Then, I thought about St. Augustine’s quote “O God, command what you will and give what you command.” I like this also. But something still wasn’t ringing right with me.

Then I found this quote from St. Teresa of Jesus, one of my favorite Saints. “Trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be.”

I think that sums up nicely both of the other quotations. And I think that it speaks beautifully to where I am in my walk with the Lord. My goal for this Advent, for the next 40 days as we draw near to the celebration of the Birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, is to trust God more completely and to grow in the belief and knowledge that I am where he wants me to be.

What do I want to be when I grow up?

Someone asked me that question today, and it got me thinking. The context of the question was professional, and in that sense, my answer is that I want to teach English to non-native speakers. In particular, I want to do that work with children.

But that’s not the answer in my heart of hearts. In my heart, my answer to that question is undoubtably this. I want to be a mama. I have been told so many times throughout my life that I would be a wonderful mother, and I believe that. When I discerned my vocation eight and a half years ago, I felt that the Lord was calling me to marriage and motherhood with the word “I have made you to be a mother.” These words have been repeated in at least three separate moments since then. I really believe that the Lord who made me and knows my inmost being made me to be a mother.

And while I’m nowhere near marriage, I believe that same Lord made me for marriage and has called me to marriage. I believe that I was made to be a wife and a mother. And if that doesn’t come into my life yet, then I believe that the Lord has a reason for this. There is a reason for my singleness. There is a purpose that the Lord wishes to accomplish through my singleness. I may not always enjoy or embrace my singleness, but there is a value to it. No matter how difficult I might find this season of my life or how angry I might get at the Lord for not bringing a husband into my life yet, there is a purpose and a value to this season. I need to learn to better seek the Lord’s will and learn his desires for this season. I need to better trust him in this time.

Because more than I want to be a mother or a wife or a teacher or anything else, the thing that I most desire to be when I grow up is a good and holy woman of God. I want to be a woman with a heart that always says yes to the Lord like the Theotokos did. I want to be a woman of Godly strength, of hope, of joy, of faith, and of love. I want to be a holy woman of God. And regardless of what happens to me personally or professionally, I want to lead a life that draws others closer to Christ.

But as he who has called you is holy, you also be holy in your conduct because it is written “Be holy, for I am holy.”

-I Peter 1:15-16

What do I want to be when I grow up? I want to be a good and holy woman of God. I pray for this each day, and I would ask each of you to pray for that as well.

The Promise to Pray

Over the summer, I’ve been dealing with a tough situation. I’m looking for a new job, and the search has been difficult at times. I’ve talked with various friends and family members about this over the summer, and I’m grateful for the enormous amount of support that I have received.

I recently realized that the people who I view as most supportive are the ones who promise to pray for me. I’ve asked several friends to pray for me, and they always respond in the affirmative. One of my coworkers ends every serious (more than a quick “hi, how are you?”) conversation we have these days with “I’m praying for you.” It’s a simple four-word sentence, but it means the world to me. Someone is praying for me. Actually, a lot of someones are praying for me.

That means the world to me. These people are showing me their love and support by promising to ask the Lord to help me. We don’t know how this situation will end. We don’t know exactly what the Lord’s will is in this moment. But we’re surrendering it to him. We’re asking him to bless it. We’re trusting him with it. And praying for someone else’s needs and wants-that’s an act of love.

These people can’t find me a new job. They can’t change the circumstances of my life. But they can love and support me in a difficult time in my life. And that is what prayer is. Prayer is an act of love. Praying for another person is an act of love. In our prayers, we are submitting ourselves to the Divine Will. We are humbling ourselves before the Lord and placing our trust in him.

We don’t know exactly how the Lord will answer our prayers, but we believe that he will answer them. And so we pray. We pray for our own wants and needs. We pray for others. And the promise to pray is an act of faith in God and of love both for God and for the other. After all, prayer is one of the most powerful things in the world.

“Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.”

-Mark 11:24

Please keep praying. Keep your eyes fixed on the Lord.


“An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is only an adventure wrongly considered.”

-G.K. Chesterton

I’ve talked before about how the past year and a half of my life has been an (at times unwelcome) adventure. It hasn’t always gone the way that I wanted it to, but that’s also not necessarily a bad thing.

However, when things don’t go my way or I’m disappointed/unhappy with things, I have a tendency to get upset. There may at times be slight temper tantrums. I may become sad. I have a very intense personality, and I feel things (both positive and negative) strongly. At these times, I need to be put back into perspective.

This past week, I received some news that was actually good news. It was unexpected, but it was good news. However, because it didn’t line up with my expectations, I had a bit of a meltdown. I was facing cognitive dissonance, and I felt it strongly. I didn’t react well.

However, I (in an act of self-preservation) sought out a coworker who has a much less intense personality than my own and can look at the world through a more level-headed lens. I explained the situation, and it quickly became apparent to both of us (him more than me) that what had happened was actually a good thing. It wasn’t what I had expected or planned, but it was (and still is) a good thing. And this man began using that word “adventure.”

His use of that word helped me eventually come to see the beauty of what had happened, but it also helped me to realize that I far too often look at things as inconvenient or difficult because they aren’t what I wanted or planned. If things don’t go my way, I look at them as difficult or problematic. But as my beloved Chesterton says, these things are adventures if they are looked at properly. It’s all a matter of perspective.

I need to daily choose to look at the world through a positive lens. I need to daily choose joy and to see the world in a joyful manner. I need to remember that God loves me and wants to give me good things. God actively desires nothing but good for his children. As Christ himself says, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:11) But I have to change my perspective. I have to choose to see the good. I have to choose to see the adventures and not the inconveniences. I need to make that choice on a daily basis to look for how God is working in my life and not automatically assume that whatever goes against my plans must be bad.

I need to change my perspective. And that will be a choice that I’ll have to make. It will indubitably be a challenge for me at first, and I’ll definitely need reminders to look for the good in every situation. I’ll need to pray about this, and I’ll need prayers from others. But I think that it is a necessary change in my life and in my perspective.

Lord, You know all things.

On this, the Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, most Catholics are inclined to think of Matthew 16 in which Christ changes Simon’s name to Peter and declares him to be the rock upon which He will build His Church. This is important, but it’s not my favorite verse associated with Peter.
That is, rather, John 21 in which Simon Peter who thrice denied the Lord is now asked three times “Do you love Me?” Christ tells Peter to “Tend My lambs,” “Shepherd My lambs,” and “Tend My sheep.” This is commonly called the restoration of Peter.
Then the Lord tells Peter that “Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go…Follow Me.” St. John tells us that Christ said this to indicate the death by which Peter would die, and Tradition holds that Peter was crucified upside down.

To me, Peter is a great example of living for Christ. He is not perfect. He falls. He denies knowing Christ on the eve of the Passion. But when mercy is offered, he eagerly accepts it. Yes, he is frustrated by the repetition of the question “Do you love me?” He is human. He gets frustrated. He does things that aren’t the wisest. Honestly, sometimes, Peter is a loudmouth idiot. But he is also an amazing example of repentance, of humility, and of faith. He loves God. He believes in God. After Pentecost, he is filled with an incredible passion for the Lord and for preaching.

And that should be an example to us. St. Peter loved God ardently and wanted to share Christ with others. We should imitate that. St. Peter accepted love and mercy when they were offered to him. We should do likewise. St. Peter followed Christ regardless of the cost. We should do likewise.

St. Peter, pray for us!

I Belong to…

In a recent interview, Iggy Azalea said that she belongs to no one, a strong feminist statement. And it’s a statement that I really understand and even agree with, something about it started bothering me. It took me a while to figure out what bothers me. It’s not because I think that people should belong to one another-literally or figuratively. I don’t like the idea that a woman becomes a man’s property when they’re in a relationship or at any other time.

Rather, what bothered me was something that probably wasn’t anywhere near Iggy Azalea’s mind when she said that. See, I have no problem with saying at a purely human level that I belong to no one. I don’t belong to any human beings. Neither does Iggy Azalea. No human being should own another human being. However, in a spiritual sense, I do belong to someone. I belong to God.

“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.”

-I Corinthians 6:19-20

This basic concept presented by St. Paul in his first letter to the Corinthians carries so much meaning. “You have been bought with a price,” Paul says. The price he references is Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. The New Testament is filled with the idea that we as Christians belong to Christ.

This is an incredibly important part of my life and of my identity. At some point in the past year, I was challenged to rethink my identity. I had hit a point in my life where being a teacher was pretty much my sole definition of who and what I was. Now, being a teacher isn’t a bad thing. I really believe that I’m called to be a teacher. But I’m more than that. I’m a daughter of God. I’m the daughter of my earthly parents. I’m my brother’s sister. I’m a friend. I’m more than just my profession. And somehow, I had forgotten that. I had forgotten that first and foremost I belong to God. I had forgotten the most important part of my identity.

I mentioned in a previous post that about a year or so ago I started praying on a daily basis “Be real to me, Lord Jesus.” In that prayer, I started to find myself again.

Last summer, I started talking to a few friends about wanting to DO something to help support and encourage the ideals of strong, holy Christian women. I wanted (and still want) to work to promote the integration of faith and femininity. I want to show the world that there is nothing wrong with me being an almost twenty-seven-year-old woman who is single, who is Byzantine Catholic, who wears skinny jeans, who is actively pursuing her career, and who wears a chapel veil.

What does it mean to be a Catholic woman? It means living a life that is given wholly to the Gospel, given wholly to the Lord of the Universe.

Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.

-Ephesians 4:1-6

I have been called to follow Christ, and I have chosen to accept that call. I have chosen to live my life not for myself but for the Lord. I have chosen to belong to the Lord. Admittedly, that is my choice. I have chosen to give my life over to a higher power and to trust Him. Every day, I choose to live not for myself but for God. It isn’t easy. I can’t do it on my own. But I ask the Lord to help me and strengthen me. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes. But I have been called to follow the Lord, and I want to live a holy life, a Godly life.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

-Galatians 2:20

Iggy Azalea is right that she doesn’t belong to anyone. She doesn’t belong to her father or her mother or her fiancé or any other person. As I said previously, I belong to no human beings. But my life belongs to the Lord. I belong to the Lord.

To whom do you belong?