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

Take Away The Sting

On Easter Sunday I went to mass and the priest told a story of a little boy who went for a drive with his father. During the drive the father rolled down the windows in the car and while the windows were down a bee flew into the car. The little boy started to freak out because he was allergic and he was terrified the bee would sting him. Finally, the father was able to catch the bee and held it in his hand, the little boy was able to calm down. After a while the father released the bee and it started flying around the car again. The little boy was once again filled with fear but the father held out his hand and showed it to the little boy. There imbedded in the father’s palm was the stinger of the bee. The father said to the little boy, “there is no reason for you to fear the bee anymore, I have taken away the stinger.”

This story is a perfect representation of what Jesus Christ did on the cross when He claimed victory over death. Yes, our physical bodies will die but our souls are promised eternal life. Not only are we guaranteed eternal life there are incredible graces and gifts that we can benefit from right here on Earth. In the recent scripture readings we hear the stories of the disciples and their stories after the resurrection. The image of them all huddled together in the upper room terrified of what was to come next is often a main topic after Easter. The disciples were literally paralyzed with fear. I find it near impossible to comprehend what those days must have been like without Jesus Christ. Even though we respect those three days when Christ died, we do not have to experience the true loss of Christ. I know what it feels like to put distance between Jesus and myself by my own design, that is a terribly depriving feeling by itself. I cannot begin imagine what it would feel like to be completely alone without God. Nevertheless, Jesus rose from the dead and He used that fearful experience the disciples encountered and brought great miracles from it. The disciples ended up going forward to proclaim the glory of God without fear. They went from weak and alone to strong and filled with the Holy Spirit.

“Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.” ~ John 20 19-31

They went forth and many ended up being martyred for their faith. They did it willingly because Jesus took away the sting of death. Without the sting they had nothing to fear and they could do the impossible by the grace of God. I have no doubt that I will come across many things in my life that will breed fear inside but I have the ability to conquer them. Once I recognize the fear I can bring it to Jesus Christ and break its power. In the name of Jesus Christ everything can be overcome.

One Less Day From Dying Young

One of my favorite music groups back when I was in middle school was Match Box Twenty. The lead singer was Rob Thomas who eventually broke off from the group and went solo. He recently released a new song which played on the radio while I was enduring a rather long drive on the highways of New Jersey. It was one of those great divine intervention moments. God had me right where He wanted me, in the perfect place and the perfect state of mind to hear what He wanted me to hear. I heard this-

“I’m not afraid of getting older
I’m one less day from dying young” ~ Rob Thomas

This came about a week before my birthday. As I have gotten older birthdays have gotten more and more difficult to go through for the simple reason I have not been in the place that I thought I would be at that certain age. I really don’t like that birthdays place so much emphasis on this need to evaluate your life up to that point in time. I always seem to come up short in regards to my expectations. This always resulted in me getting angry and blaming the Lord. “Why haven’t you given me this!” I would exclaim, like a ungrateful child throwing a temper tantrum when her parent wouldn’t give her an ice cream cone before diner. I was throwing a tantrum because I didn’t understand the workings of the Lord. I only saw my needs but like a good Father the Lord knew that I needed to have a good healthy diner before I could have ice cream.

Back to my time in my car with Rob Thomas. While I was so focused on the things that I don’t have I lost sight of all the incredible blessings that I have received and essentially the truly miraculous life that the Lord has gifted me with. The truth is I could have died several times through out my life. The main one being when I was diagnosed with type one diabetes but also numerous other times of just basic human stupidity. Each day I am one less day from dying young and that is something to be very thankful for.

In addition, the Lord has also resurrected life many times. The most recent time was when He delivered me out of New York and into New Jersey. It was a surprising revelation especially to me when I actually realized that I was almost exactly where I wanted to be at this age. I am living on my own, I have a good sustainable job and I have time to devote to My Lord and Savior. Why was I still complaining? There is still a missing piece, a husband and a family. I would like to share this life with someone. This still stings a little but I am reminded of that father who denied the child the ice cream. I needed to have a healthy diner first. I needed to rediscover myself and more importantly I needed to rediscover myself in Him! The Lord has a plan and because He has shown me the miracles He can perform in my life once I actually start listening to Him. I have faith and trust that He will lead me to that husband and family my heart desires. When it does happen though it will be the cherry on top of the ice cream. My timeline does not matter because the Lord’s plan is perfect and I want to follow His plan.

This year instead of asking for a gift from the Lord I gave a gift of myself to Him.

“Take, Lord,

and receive all my liberty, my memory,

my understanding

and my entire will,

all that I have and possess.

You have given all to me to you, Lord, I return it.” ~Saint Ignatius of Loyola

Perfect Timing

I have to confess this Lenten season has proven to be a true thorn in my side. I suppose that is appropriate considering in this season we are called to enter into the Passion of our Lord in the hopes that we can attain a closer and more enriching relationship with Christ. If I am being completely honest this Lent ha brought me closer to Him but I am still going to complain about it.

As of March 14th I have officially been living in New York for a half a year, seems like a big milestone. Unfortunately, right as this milestone hit darkness crept into my life. These past few weeks I have had to combat health issues, work issues, and living issues. Basically everything that could go wrong did go wrong. What made it extra difficult was that all this came after my birthday and seeing my mom, who visited for my birthday. The visit of my mom reminded me how much I miss her and how peaceful life can be. I finally admitted to myself how much I miss my home. I am so grateful for the friendships I have made here but at the end of the day I am still truly alone. Waking up and being alone without my parents downstairs and my dog sleeping at the end of my bed is excruciatingly painful and empty. By the time Holy Week came I had hit my breaking pointing. I was DONE! Done with the adventure of New York and I was ready to move back home. I even resorted to giving God an ultimatum which I know you are not supposed to do, He doesn’t respond to them anyway but in my darkness I gave up. I gave Him till Easter, if things didn’t change I would take the hint. New York was no longer the place for me and I would move back to Colorado. This pain I am enduring is not worth it. Life might not be great back in Colorado but at least I would be with my family and I would be home and safe.

By Holy Thursday circumstances had not changed and I was coming to grips with the reality that my time in New York was coming to an end… and then! I was working the closing shift on Thursday. We were busy because of Easter and Passover and in addition to that it was cookie day! I have already aired my grievances about cookie day in previous blogs but this day was worse than usual because we were preparing for Easter, 200 hatching chicks, 300 baby lambs, and 500 jumping bunnies. Argh!!!I endured the day with a true defeatist attitude, I was done and I didn’t care who saw it, no more smiling my way through it. The day was almost over and I was consumed with closing duties when I suddenly looked up and I saw him. Yes, I had a girlie moment. This guy that had been coming into the store off and on for the past few weeks had come in. He first made his appearance the week before my birthday. He caught my attention because he seemed truly captivated with the desserts we offered, he took a good 15 minutes just staring at our pastry display. I didn’t really mind he was very attractive. He did fine make a decision and the next day he came in again. Walking home that night I told God that if he came in again I would take it as a sign and I would talk to him. Miraculously, he came in again and even more miraculous I actually talked to him. We had a long conversation about the pastries and which ones he liked. He ended up leaving with a fruit tart, lemon bar and some macaroons. After that day he stopped coming in and the excitement of the encounter died. I convinced myself it was another experience the Lord wanted me to have to build my confidence. Little did I know God was just waiting to bring him back at the perfect time, Holy Thursday at my darkest hour. It felt like time stopped and I forgot everything. Our eyes met across the counter, I smiled and said “hi, I haven’t seen you in awhile.” He smiled back and said,” I know you weren’t here yesterday.” I was blown away, he actually noticed. We talked a little reviewing the different things he had tried and what were his favorites. At the end I asked what his name was, I gave him mine and we shook hands. I told that I hoped to him again and he smiled and said, ” hopefully at least two times a week.”

Okay, I know that this is very much a girlie story and I shouldn’t base my life decisions on a guy. Regardless, his presence has had strong implications in the past and clearly the Lord is using these encounters for something. I do not know what God is doing with them but I do know I had my light sparked again, I had my hope. It was even a little miraculous because I had been feeling my blood sugars dropping and I was starting to think I would need to eat something to boost them up but it turned out I didn’t need to because my blood sugars went up all by themselves after the encounter with the guy. The Lord is working, He is listening to our cries and He is answering them in beautiful ways and in ways greater than we could ever imagine.