Invisible

What I consider weakness, the Lord uses as strength.  What I see as a hindrance, the Lord turns into an asset.  All my life I have felt invisible and unimportant.  I had a desire to accomplish great things that would make an impact on the world, so I had to connect with the “right people.”  This was an ongoing struggle–whenever I attempted to make those crucial connections, I was overlooked.  Each time I went to an event I believed could lead to a life-changing moment, I was left feeling empty and a failure.  I would always blame God and question Him.  I was doing everything in my power to use the life He had given me as an opportunity to change the world for the better, but I ended up with doors being shut in my face.  What was I doing wrong?  Maybe I was not looking in the right places and not placing my trust in God, although I believed I was.
This past Thursday was the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary, and at the Mass I attended, the priest spoke of Mary’s many gifts.  He mentioned subtlety, which I had never heard described before.  The priest used the example of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth.  A young pregnant woman taking on a long journey through treacherous landscapes all by herself without WiFi, cell phones or cars–the priest emphasized the lack of modern technology that would have helped when the roads were difficult and thieves were everywhere.  How could Mary possibly have survived that journey on her own?  The answer lay in her subtlety–by the grace of the Holy Spirit, He allowed her presence to be felt but not intrusive so she reached her cousin’s home in safety.
I thought of my days living in New York City, walking the streets late at night after work.  The streets of New York are easily as dangerous as the roads Mary traveled.  More than a few times, my path was crossed by rather aggressive individuals hassling other walkers for money or food.  They would approach everyone ahead of me, but when I finally passed by, it seemed as though they didn’t see me.
I used to feel my invisibility was a curse; I wasn’t significant enough to be acknowledged, but now I realize it was a gift.  I resolved to place my faith in the Lord and trust that He will put the correct people in my path who will see me.  I was back in New York City this weekend and stopped in a church with a chapel open to all for prayer.  I had endured a long and strenuous morning and while I was in the chapel, a man approached me and asked for $20 for food.  I was somewhat taken aback–I am used to people asking for money, but $20 seemed a bit excessive.  Nevertheless, there was an aura of kindness about him.  I truly believe in the influence of the Holy Spirit and the importance of listening to His subtle promptings.  There was a peace about this man unusual for a person living in New York City.  He asked me if I was an actress and when I told him I wasn’t, he said I should be because I looked like one.  He continued to say he was a comedian, trying to be discovered by NBC.  The question about being an actress was most likely a line designed to get money, but I felt there was some sincerity behind it.  I have no desire to be an actress, but it was a career I once considered, and it was affirming to hear that someone, albeit a total stranger, thought I could be one.  Nothing happens by coincidence, and I am sure this man was placed in my path to see me, and that I might see him.  I gave him $5 and hope he used it for food.  The short interaction we had was uplifting and provided me with strength to get through the rest of my day.  Perhaps it helped him in the same way.  Our meeting was also a reminder that the Lord is in charge and only allows the “right people” to enter our lives at certain times–when they do, we need to pay attention.  We are all called to be in community with one another for we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  When we are open to recognizing our fellow brothers and sisters as such, we can change each others’ lives for the better, even if only in small matters.
Thanks to the Lord’s blessings, I understand that I am not invisible.  I am fully seen by my Creator and Father, who is the only person that counts.  By placing my life completely in His hands, He has the ability to use me and make me visible to the people He chooses.  If I put Him first, ahead of my own desire to be seen, I can walk in confidence (and subtlety), knowing that everything I do will be done for the glory of God
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Bread of Life

For human beings and indeed, for all God’s creatures, food is an absolute necessity for life.  Based on my personal experience, my life could often be described as revolving around it.  It’s somewhat embarrassing, but I find my mind occasionally drifting off during Mass to what I’m going to eat after the service is over.  I am human, and fasting before Mass can lead to your body insisting on fulfilling its craving for earthly sustenance (not just the supreme sustenance received in communion).  It has become a routine for many people to go out for a meal after Mass or any church service, particularly on Sundays.  These meals are usually shared with friends and family, which adds to the satisfaction derived from them, and also, because of pre-Mass fasting, because we are extra hungry!  No matter how satisfied we are after such a meal, the desire for more nourishment always returns.

God designed us to appreciate the gifts of food (and drink) but that earthly food can never replace Jesus Christ as we receive Him in the Eucharist.  “One does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes forth from the mouth of God.” (Matthew 4:4)  It may be hard to understand, but all we really require in life is Jesus and His word.  In the Gospel passage, Jesus feeds the masses with only 5 loaves of bread and 2 fish, yet at the end of the meal, everyone is satisfied and there are leftovers!  I wonder what the word “satisfied” actually means in that scripture passage.  I feel it must be similar to the satisfaction I have from a meal after Mass because the meal has been blessed by God.  The Lord’s blessing is crucial; the food is a gift from Him and without Him we would have nothing to sustain us.  The Lord then reminds us that even without earthly food, we could survive if Jesus Christ remains in our hearts.

Throughout our daily lives, we give thanks for many blessings–family, friends, our jobs and our homes–but we can forget to give thanks for the smaller gifts we take for granted, like food.  Food can seem so routine, but each bite we take is a gift from God because He knows we need it.  The Lord is truly present in every breath we take in our lives, not only when we are full and content, but when we are depriving ourselves as in fasting as well.  God provided manna to the Israelites when there was nothing else to eat in the desert.  It is important for us to give Him thanks for everything we have to eat each day, but to also remember that Jesus Christ is our very bread of life, so what more do we need?

Control

I have been fairly open about the influence of living with Type 1 diabetes and my struggles in managing the condition.  There have been aspects I have chosen to withhold because I feared the backlash and judgements I might receive for being honest about how I handle this chronic illness.  Medical issues are often highly sensitive topics and provoke quick judgments.  However, this morning at Mass, listening to the homily, I was blessed with courage through the Holy Spirit to write this blog.
The homily was more about earthly possessions and common attachments to them.
“‘You fool, this might will be demanded of you;
and the things you have prepared, to whom will they belong?’
Thus will it be for all who store up treasure for themselves
but are not rich in what matters to God.” Luke 12:21
The priest pointed out that whatever we try to own in this life ends up owning us and whatever we try to control ends up controlling us.  This last statement and the use of the word “control” grabbed my attention.  On the day I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, my life became all about control.  I was told that my diabetes could not be cured, but it could be “controlled.”  A somewhat severe doctor informed me that if I did not control the condition, I was doomed to suffering all through life.  To some extent, he was right, but his words could be applied to everyone, whether they have diabetes or not.  My life is based on numbers; I check my blood sugars constantly, and every time they are too high or too low, they determine how I conduct myself the rest of the day.  Both high and low blood sugars evoke fear.  Thoughts of being a failure invade my head and frustration takes over.  It’s been 13 years since my diagnosis–why can’t I control them?
I’m supposed to see an endocrinologist every 3 months.  I strictly adhered to this practice till moving to New York when my health insurance wasn’t adequate, and I saw an endocrinologist less and less.  Now my life is becoming stable again, and I can afford to visit an endocrinologist.  I wasn’t expecting a glowing report card; I had let my diabetes management slacken, but was still struck by fear again and how it affected perspective on my life.  My thoughts shifted my focus from the Lord to myself.  The responsibility for controlling my condition reverted back to me and how I needed to take control.  I began to judge myself and fear the future.
Since my latest doctor’s appointment, I have been on a downward spiral.  I was trying to live my life based on blood sugar numbers.  As the priest said, by trying to control my diabetes, I was letting it control me.  The more I tried to force this control, the worse it got until I hit a new “low,” literally!  At my lowest, I received a text from a close friend who had no idea what was going on with me, but she was listening to EWTN and the daily family prayer was for those with diabetes.  When she heard it, she was prompted by the Holy Spirit to text me.  I truly believe my life was saved that day because she sent me that prayer.  When I have low blood sugars, I correct them with quick acting sugar from Smarties to a box of juice–whatever is readily available.  Nevertheless, there are some low blood sugars that cannot be corrected by any amount of sugar.  I had lost control of my life and in my weakness, the Lord was strong and only He was able to raise my blood sugars, which He did.
Even when I know a doctor means to help, when fear enters in the enemy can take control.  I recognize the effects fear has had on managing my diabetes.  It is important to see doctors, take their advice and closely monitor your blood sugars, but actually being able to control them is a false perception.  I am human and thus subject to human error.  If my diabetes management was left up to me, I would be doomed.  Just as people try to hold on to possessions, Jesus Christ reminded me I can’t take them with me–they are not forever and have no value in Christ’s eyes.  Diabetes has no value for Jesus, rather He values me and my immortal soul.

Home Is Where the Heart Is

I visited my parents this weekend.  This was the first time I saw their new house in their new city.  To my surprise, I was full of excitement to experience the new life my parents had begun.  It was further evidence of the healing the Lord is providing for our family.  The Lord truly has plans for all our lives and they are strongly connected to others we touch.  Somehow God orchestrates each one of our story lines and make them intersect at exactly the right moment.  I can look back at my entire life and realize how the Lord was working to ensure I was ready for this precise moment that would happen this weekend.
It has been almost 2 years since I packed up and left Colorado to move to New York.  I left with a strong conviction I would have an adventure with the Holy Spirit.  To His credit, I am still having this adventure but He had much greater purpose for my move.  Relocating to New York was a small piece of a grand and elaborate plan to heal my family.  I didn’t even know we needed healing.  I thought I needed healing after several setbacks after my diagnosis of Type 1 diabetes 13 years ago.  My wounds were actually rooted deeper inside my family’s history.  When the Lord sent me to New York, He was not only planning to free me from my soul ties in Colorado, but He would free my parents from theirs as well.
I grew up in one house and there I set up my life and constructed plans for that life.  The problem was that the plans were made by me, a sinful human, not by the Lord.  My family and I fell into the common traps of wanting to control our own destinies and built up strong attachments to material things, not from God.  The house in which I grew up was the main attachment, but there were many others inside that house and in Colorado.  When my parents told me they were considering moving, I was bound and determined to make sure that did not happen.  Our house was “everything,” if we didn’t have it, we would have nothing.  This lie started the insidious desire to control my life and my parents’ lives.  The truth is that with only our house we had nothing, and without it, we would have everything.  With their new life, my parents are truly free because they are no longer chained to an immovable object.  The joy I experienced this weekend was unlike any I ever felt before because we could talk about all these new possibilities and adventures for our lives, adventures that would be impossible if we continued to hold onto our control.  Our lives are now in the Lord’s hands and there is no better place for them to be.  The house I visited this weekend is not my home, but that is a good thing.  It is a wonderful house and I feel “at home” in it, but this is simply further confirmation that the Lord has transformed my heart once again.  Home is where the heart is, and my heart is with the Lord.

Disturbed

On Corpus Christi Sunday, the Gospel focuses on how humans have this never-ending desire for satisfaction. If I only look to worldly goods to quench this thirst for satisfaction, I will never find it because there will always be something outside my grasp. For me, this constant drive to be satisfied is painfully familiar. When I seek satisfaction in my job, my love life, even in the food I’m going to have for dinner, I ultimately end up dissatisfied. I spent most of my time building up this determination to attain complete control of my life. I was building my life on the great lie that I can do anything. As a result, most of my life till now has been full of disappointments. It was not until I gave up that I finally achieved satisfaction. The ugly truth is that I cannot really do anything. Everything I am today is due solely to the Lord and His place in my life.

It is so easy for human beings to fall into a routine in life and forget there is so much more than the career, the relationship, the car, the popularity or even the money (just to name a few). Nevertheless, these are the goals people naturally aspire to for complete satisfaction. I wanted so much from this world; when I started college, I majored in political science because I wanted to be the first woman president. God had other plans. I was diagnosed with diabetes my first semester and suddenly found myself without any direction. This was the perfect place for the Holy Spirit to enter in. “If your life is not disturbed, there is no relationship with God,” as a priest stated in his homily for Corpus Christi. I now live with a chronic illness that is a pillar of my life every day. I would say that is pretty disturbing! The priest continued to explain that Jesus sent out His disciples to disturb the world. They entered towns and started preaching the gospel, calling people to let go of everything they had because there was something much more satisfying than anything else. I thank God for the role diabetes plays in my life because without it, I would not be who I am today–a child of God, completely satisfied with my life. My job is not exhilarating (it can be quite boring, in fact), I don’t drive a snazzy car (mine is used and rather worn down), I am not a millionaire, and I don’t have a special relationship or a husband. What I do have is relationship with Jesus Christ. There is nothing in this world that lasts forever, so why spend any time or effort trying to hold onto it? Jesus Christ is forever, and He has given me everything I have. Since it has all come from Him, I know it all I need to be satisfied.

That is why I am writing this blog today because tomorrow is not guaranteed, and that is okay. For this moment, I am content with the presence of Jesus Christ, and this is enough for me.

A Million Dreams

My job requires a great deal of data entry and monotonous paper filing. These tasks can get very lonely and there are hours during the day when I have no human interaction at all. This past week I hit my breaking point and was consumed with an incredible claustrophobic feeling. I retreated into prayer asking for relief from the Lord and His answer was simple, He said listen to music. The answer was so obvious, I was amazing that I hadn’t considered it sooner. I went to my Pandora app on my phone and searched “Disney.” I needed something uplifting and I grew up in the 90’s when Disney was hitting its peak releasing one hit song after another so I naturally just thought of those classic songs. My childhood was molded based off those classics like “The Circle of Life” from The Lion King, “The Colors of the Wind” from Pocahontas, and “You’ll Be in my Heart” from Tarzan; just to name a few. Over the course of the week I could feel myself being brought back to life through the music. It didn’t just help me get me out of the solitude confinement I was trapped in at my job but it also awoke the dreams that I had when I was a child.

God blessed me with an extremely vivid imagination growing up. I would often make up stories in my head and then go outside and act them out in my backyard. This imagination allowed me to believe that anything was possible. When I grew up, reality entered into my soul and crippled all those dreams. I was diagnosed with a chronic disease, type one diabetes, and I lost my belief that anything was possible. My world went from multi- colored to stark, two-dimensional and black and white. It has now been over ten years since being diagnosed and I am just now remembering what it feels like to believe in the impossible. I owe all of this to the inner workings of the Holy Spirit. His promptings to revisit the classic music of those childhood movies was the next step in His grand design.

Not all the songs that I have been listening to were from Disney, some songs came from a movie which was released last year, The Greatest Showman. I had seen it when it first came out and was truly taken by it. Like the classic Disney movies it was inspiring. This one song “A Million Dreams,” was especially invigorating.

“They can say it all sounds crazy. They can say I’ve lost my mind. I don’t care, so call me crazy. We can live in a world that we design. ‘Cause every night I lie in bed. The brightest colors fill my head. A million dreams are keeping me awake” ~The Greatest Showman, A Million Dreams

This song caused me to think how backwards life can be. This world has this ability to keep people for dreaming and longing for unimaginable possibilities simply because this world claims them to be impossible. The world calls people “crazy” if they dare to be different. Yet these movies still come up like the Greatest Showman and they grow in popularity as the world takes notice. Why is this? Could it be because we are all starving for these dreams in our own lives? I believe God places these dreams into our hearts because it is His way of calling us home. We live in this world but we are not of this world so we retreat into our imaginations were “we can live in a world that we design.” This past week I have seen life through music and it has inspired me to live differently. I will seek the Holy Spirit to show me His world that He wishes me to live in, the world where anything is possible.

A Friend

Last year, when I was living in New York and working at a truly horrible job God graced me with several blessings in order to keep my spirits up. Those blessings were also key contributions to my journey with the Lord because they were constant reminders that while I was “in the trenches” at a terrible job I could always count on Jesus to be there enduring the terrors with me. One of those blessings was a friendship with a coworker. We bonded when we were both scheduled to work in the pastry department and were tasked with handling an extremely large delivery of cookies. It was a grueling task and one that we would have never been able to do alone. It was through that task that we discovered how much we could rely on each other for anything. Over time our friendship only grew stronger and after I left that job he was really the only person I continue to maintain steady communication with.

This friendship came as a surprise to me because we were so different. While working at that job I was quite open about my Catholic faith and he was quite open that he was not. I never felt judgement from him though and instead he asked and continues to ask about my faith. In fact, even though our religious beliefs do not always match we always end up agreeing on many “hot topics” that can often create major divisions between people. We both can see that we were meant to have this friendship with one another. He believes that it was done by the universe where as I know it was the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless we are united in the faith we were destined to be in each other’s lives and this belief was only affirmed last week. We had somehow found ourselves on the topic of my future wedding. To clarify, I am not engaged and I am not even dating anyone but we like to fantasize about the wedding day just because he is a florist and being the artist he is has already started picking out flower arrangements. It is no secret that one of my greatest desires for my life is to find that special guy and get married however I also have a deep desire to be a mother which I have not expressed to the general public quite as much. I have never had that motherly instinct and I do not gravitate to children like some do. It is because of this I question if I would be a good mother. In the deepest part of my heart I have that fear that God does not intend on me becoming one. Fortunately, the Lord knows my heart and knows what I need to hear and when I need to hear it. During that wedding conversation I was having with my friend he suddenly shifted the conversation from the wedding plans to motherhood. He told me that even though he is extremely excited to see how my future love story turns out he is even more excited to see me as a mother because he knows how wonderful I will be as a mother. This statement was so powerful I was left speechless. It was in that moment that I realized I had never heard that before. I have never heard someone consciously tell me that they think I would be a good mother without any coaxing from me. I have complete confidence that the Holy Spirit was using my friend to get a message to me. I told my friend that his statement was the most incredible and significant thing anyone could ever say to me because his words left me forever changed. I was filled with this new and enriched faith that I am meant to be a mother someday and that I can actually be good at it. The Holy Spirit is beautiful in His design and He can perform miracles in the most simplest of circumstances. I am so grateful to have this friendship in my life and it is because I know that it is a gift from God.