“B” is for Benny

I am currently doing my best to let go control over my life and allow the Holy Spirit to guide me.  This is not as easy as it may sound–even when I believe I have truly let go, I impose my own objectives on my actions and convince myself that what I want is God’s will and not mine.  However, the Lord knows me so well (better than I know myself) that He knows what I’m going to do before I actually do it and therefore factors in my mishaps and lapses in judgment.  What happened to me today is a perfect example of how beautifully the Holy Spirit can orchestrate life to not only ensure I am in the right place at the right time, but also in the right frame of mind to take on the task God gives me.
I was headed for New York City to meet friends before seeing a show on Broadway on the hottest day of the year so far.  The city was on high alert, due to extremely high temperatures in the forecast.  Normally when I visit New York City, I leave early so I can walk the streets the way I did while living there.  This time I chose to take a later bus because it wouldn’t have been safe to be outside in the heat as long as usual.  This seemingly minor alteration in plan led me to a different path, literally and figuratively.  The Lord led me down a side street I was unfamiliar with and, unlike most New York streets, it was almost deserted.  As I was walking, a man lying on the ground caught my attention.  At first glance he appeared to be the “typical” homeless person one sees so often on the streets, but as I came closer, something about him struck me as not typical.  He looked up and reached out his hand.  He didn’t say anything; I don’t think he was even looking directly at me.  He was no doubt dehydrated and hallucinating.  I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t pay as much attention to the homeless as I should, perhaps because I accept the lie that I’m not in a position to help them.  The Lord has been working with me to overcome this lie and putting me in this situation was another step toward that aim.  As I walked past this man, I realized there was no one else around.  No one would see him or help him; I was the only one who could.  A sense of urgency compelled me to “find some water,” as a voice inside me said.  I went into a nearby store and bought a bottle of overpriced water without hesitation.  As I brought it back to the man, I was relieved to see him up and moving around, but as I approached, he collapsed again.  “Excuse me, sir,” I began timidly, “but would you like some water?”  He nodded and took the bottle from my hand.  I asked if there was anything else I could do for him, and he said he could use some food.  Of course, I had none so I left him again.  I felt as though I needed to keep him conscious, so I found a grocery store and bought some fruit, protein bars, and a much larger bottle of water.  The urgency inside me did not ease up as I hurried back to the man, but I was comforted to notice that the street was becoming busier.  Hopefully the food and water I gave him would sustain him till someone else could do more for him, maybe even get him off the streets.  When I gave him the groceries, I asked for his name.  He said it was “B”, short for Benny, but he wanted to be called “B.”  I told him I would pray for him, and suddenly remembered I had some Miraculous Medals in my backpack.  I gave him one; I don’t think he knew what it was, but I left it with him, having faith that the Blessed Mother and her Son would protect him and do what I could not for him.  “B” told me he would be 66 in October and seemed very proud of that.  I walked away, praying he would survive until his 66th birthday.
So many insignificant factors led me to taking the road to “B” as well as putting me in the right mindset to do what I did when I found him.  I would never have remembered those medals if I hadn’t given one to a friend a few weeks ago.  More importantly, I would never have had the courage to reach out and help him if I hadn’t heard a similar story from one of my role models the previous weekend.  God is guiding me even as I continue to resist Him.  The past week was full of several failures on my part, which had created a defeated mentality in me.  I was actively asking the Lord’s forgiveness for not having more faith in Him when I met “B.”
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That’s The Way It Is

When you want it the most
There’s no easy way out
When you’re ready to go
And your heart’s left in doubt
Don’t give up on your faith
Love comes to those who believe it
And that’s the way it is~ Celine Dion, 
That’s The Way It Is
I learned sign language to this song in the sixth grade.  Though I didn’t realize it at the time, that year was one of the most significant in my life.  I was blessed with two truly gifted teachers and can confidently say I would not be the person I am today without them.  What they taught me far exceeded the basic educational subjects; they taught me about life.  Everyday they would check our day planners to be sure we had recorded our homework assignments.  They were also responsible for a xeriscape garden and enlisted all their students as helpers as well as to educate others about the importance of this garden.  We actually had to invite people to come and tour the garden, led by us!  They taught us sign language, and at the end of the year we held a “concert” for our parents, which included “signing” two Celine Dion songs.  These two teachers opened my eyes to the world.  I was no longer comfortably secure in elementary school, which terrified me.  I remember always being afraid of messing up in front of them; I never wanted to disappoint them.  As scary as that year was, I got a strong dose of how to deal with reality.  They used to say, “you may hate us now, but you’ll thank us later,” and I did and still do.
One of these teachers became my Confirmation sponsor in 8th grade.  After middle school, I lost touch with her, but always hoped to reconnect.  When I was diagnosed with diabetes my first semester in college, I was filled with a revitalized need to re-establish communication with her.  Diabetes requires a great deal of self-discipline, a skill she instilled in me in sixth grade.  Without it, I would not have had the same ability to manage and monitor my blood sugars, and in that sense, I owe her my life!  I was fortunate to find her mailing address and sent her a letter.  Miracle of miracles, she wrote back and invited me to come visit her.  Getting to know her as an adult was odd but wonderful.  She insisted I call her by her first name.  I struggled with that since she had emphasized that we should address her as “Miss” back in middle school out of respect.
A few years ago she was diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer.  I have never known another person who fought so hard to conquer the disease.  She started writing emails to update her close friends and family regarding her progress.  It was always inspiring reading her hopeful messages.  She never gave up and was willing to do whatever it took to keep going.  The pains and trials involved did not deter her; if anything, they motivated her to fight harder.  She started an annual tradition of gathering her friends together for a “Celebration of Life.”  I began to see the human side of my sixth grade teacher, whom I had previously considered indestructible.  On July 5, 2019, she finally finished her battle with cancer and is now at peace in heaven.
On the same day, I was taking a small road trip to visit friends for the weekend.  I had just finished praying the Divine Mercy chaplet around 3 p.m. and all the sky opened up in a torrential downpour.  I have never experienced anything like it!  All cars came to a standstill on the highway because there was no visibility, just a solid sheet of rain.  I should have been frightened, but instead I was overcome by the Father’s love, and in that moment I knew I was exactly where I should be.  I was completely still, completely under the protection of the Lord in prayer.  When the clouds parted and the sun shone I heard the words, “it is finished.”  The next day I received an email from one of my teacher’s friends saying that my teacher had passed away.
Ever since I first met that teacher I had a strong feeling she was an angel.  I am so blessed that the Lord allowed her to be a part of my life as long as she was.  She helped guide me through life like a true guardian angel, and now she will continue that guidance from heaven.

And that’s the way it is…

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.

Identity Crisis

In these current times the threat of having your personal accounts, credits cards and even identity compromised is a sad reality. Fortunately, it has become so common companies have come up with good methods at detecting fraud early. My parents have had to replace their credit cards more times than I can count and I am catching up. I have gotten pretty familiar with what to do when my credit card number is compromised, the credit card company recognizes a charge on my card that I did not make and notifies me and replace the card. A few years ago when this happened it would truly have disrupted my life but nowadays it is so common it barely registers.

Nevertheless, I recently was a victim of a different kind of identity fraud. Instead of the invader using my credit card to make a purchase they gained access to my password to my credit card account and because they knew my password they were able to start changing my information from within my account without the credit card company alerting the credit company of fraudulence. The only reason I became aware of it was that I received an email stating that I had changed my email in my account. Of course I hadn’t so I contacted the credit company at once. The first customer service representative I spoke with was very helpful and went through the normal protocol. He reset my password to my account and issued me a new card but then he transferred my over to the credit card company’s actual fraud protection division. That representative was much more intimidating. He informed me that since the invader was already in my account they had probably already changed other pieces of my information. I had to go through and verify every signal piece of my information. Sure enough some other things had already been altered. The representative said that he would put my account on “high alert” status. Just that simple phrase made me uneasy and made me feel extremely vulnerable.

These experiences causes me to put my life into a different perspective. Basic information that I have taken for granted and claimed as my own like my email, phone number, place of residence, are compromised and I found myself literally fighting to prove that I am who I say I am. Identity theft has a great ability to make someone feel a loss of control and rightfully so. In times like these I normally would easily give into anger. I would allow negative thoughts to plague and take over my mind, “how dare this person change my information” and “what right does this person have to invade my privacy.” The truth is they have every ability to take over my account and invade my privacy. The reality is that this is a fallen world and evil is everywhere seeking to disrupt our lives. What defense do we have to combat it? Obviously, there is identity theft protection technology but that can only go so far. While going through the process of checking all my accounts and making sure they all were secure I found myself relying on something or someone greater. I found strength in my faith that I am a child of God. That is my one true identity and there is no password that I require to gain access to it, all I need is my savior Jesus Christ. He holds the ultimate access to the greatest account there is, eternal life. It was thanks to this truth I had the capacity to overcome my initial inclination to give into anger. Once I gave it up to God I had confidence that He would protect my identity. Not only was I able to release the anger I was able to feel compassion for the person who invaded my account. In the name of Jesus Christ I prayed for them and forgave them. It is in these circumstances that I believe God is calling us to our true purpose. In this day and age what is the best protection available when our identity is compromised? It is prayer, prayer for the people who are doing these things. They need help and the best thing we can do is to forgive and pray for them.

Never Say Never

My life is becoming a perfect example of this classic expression, “never say never.” This morning I dyed my hair BLUE!!! When I was younger I always said, “I would never dye my hair.” I loved my hair color because it had all these natural highlights and if I dyed it I would risk losing all those natural highlights. I also said that I would never travel overseas and it was for a extremely stupid and naive reason too. I was convinced that if I were to take an airplane over an ocean it would surely breakdown and crash into the sea. It had gotten to the point that I had made a plan so that if I ever needed to travel to another country I was willing to make my way up to Alaska and cross the Bering Strait because that is the only place on the planet that does not require crossing such a large body of water. The funny part of this story is that when I did finally give in and made my first trip overseas it was to Vietnam! Not only did I cross an ocean I chose to cross the largest one there is. In addition, the first time I dyed my hair I dyed it black one of the most dramatic color I could choose.

There have been several other things I swore never to do. When I moved to New York I said I would never drive in the city, one year later I found myself commuting everyday through the city to get to a job located in New Jersey. I said I would never leave Colorado and here I am living in New Jersey. When I made these statements I thought I was protecting myself. In putting these limits on my life I was guarding myself from the unknown. The unknown is truly terrifying and I believe this is one of the greatest fears that plagues our society. By putting these limits on my life I was keeping the control in my own hands. What I didn’t understand is that by doing this I was cutting myself off from the Lord and His divine plan for my life. To be completely honest I didn’t trust Him. I believed I knew what was the best for me which could not be further from the truth. It was only when I gave up and threw my entire game plan out the window that my life started to come together and was able to find sheer joy. The other day I was talking to a fellow coworker and I found myself confessing that for the first in my entire life I am not depressed. I actually caught myself after I said it because I could not believe I actually said it out loud. It came as a surprise to me because for as long as I could remember I struggled with bouts of depression. It had gotten to the point where it was just a part of my life. Some moments would be better than others but I had come to accept that my depression would always be a part of my life. It wasn’t until this conversation with my coworker that I recognized that the depression was gone. Sometimes I need to go against everything that I know and understand and choose the most absurd and ridiculous plan. I can guarantee that the Lord will reveal Himself very clearly because of it and produce miracles like erasing my depression.

Dying my hair was one of the most exhilarating things that I have done in a while. Walking out of the hair studio I felt as though my outward appearance finally reflected how I felt inside. The new me on the inside matched the new me on the outside. Every time I can breakdown one of those walls that I had built up by using that word “never” brings me closer to Jesus Christ and that will always bear great fruit. Never again will I say never, ha ha!

Home

“Do not acquire gold, or silver, or copper for your money belts, or a bag for your journey, or even two coats, or sandals, or a staff; for the worker is worthy of his support. “And whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it, and stay at his house until you leave that city. As you enter the house, give it your greeting. “If the house is worthy, give it your blessing of peace. But if it is not worthy, take back your blessing of peace. “Whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake the dust off your feet.” ~Matthew 10: 9-14

My time as a New Yorker will soon be coming to an end. Over the weekend I was finally successful in finding a place to live in New Jersey. I will no longer be a “New Yorker” but a “Jersey Girl.” Finding the right place to live was difficult mainly because it took me some time figuring out what I really needed. For the first time in my life I have a job that allows me to afford a place of my own. At first, this idea was extremely appealing. I could make a place entirely my own. I found an incredible apartment that backed up into a national park and nestled in a quaint little town completely separated from the outside world. It was almost a dream come true and spoke to my inner introvert. I would have the chance to make my own version of Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. I would have an entire national park to explore. I would be able to walk for hours talking with the Lord, the way I did when I first moved to New York and walked the streets for hours after work. It was on those walks that I truly got to know Jesus Christ and He reminded me who I was, a child of God. For awhile I entertained this idea of renting this seemingly perfect apartment. Something felt off though and as time went on I lost my feeling of peace about the property. I was forced to discern what was making me hesitant.

It came down to the fact that I would be making a solid commitment and making that apartment my true home. I realized I was not prepared to settle down. If I took that apartment I would have invested all I had into that place which was going against everything that the Lord had been calling me to. I was reminded of the verses from the Gospel of Matthew when Jesus Christ sent His disciples on their mission. Do not acquire any additional position and make your way from village to village proclaiming the Word of the Lord. During my journey in New York I discovered my vocation and what the Lord is truly asking of me which is to go out into the world and spread His message.

I am here today able to say with complete confidence that I have found my forever home and that is within the heart of Jesus. New Jersey is simply the next village where the Lord has brought me to but I will not be there for long. I am so grateful that the Lord brought me to a perfect house where they are renting out a small room. I knew it was the right place when entered and I immediately felt welcomed. It was worthy to give it the “blessing of peace” as the verse in Matthew said so perfectly. I truly do not need much just a place to rest my head. This house is in an ideal location and it is safe but it is not permanent. I need to be ready for when the Lord calls me to move again and when He does call I will dust off my feet and go.