“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.”

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…

Let My People Go

“Then the LORD said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and speak to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me” ~ Exodus 9:1

This weekend I learned that the company I worked for while living in New York City was closing. I cannot say the news surprised me; what surprised me was my reaction to it. One of the main reasons I was so eager to leave the company was the fear it would close and I would be out of a job. The company had been struggling for quite some time, but its managers were good at hiding this from its employees. They had a way with words that made it seem as though conditions would only improve. I bought into this lie when I first accepted my job there. After realizing I had been manipulated into this, I became very angry with the company. The true freedom I experienced on quitting was wonderful and an enormous relief. It’s terrible to admit but part of me wanted the company to close out of sheer spite. However, when I heard that it was definitely closing, I didn’t get that satisfied feeling–instead, my heart broke. All kinds of memories flooded me, and I thought of all my former co-workers. They are some of the most incredible people I’ve ever met and they are still my family. They showed me what “family” really means. We lived and worked together and despite all the hardships we endured, we had each other’s backs. I could go to them with any problems, and they always helped me feel better.
After reliving several memories and putting myself back into that workspace, I brought all my emotions to the Lord, hoping He could make sense of this. His voice came through so clearly, there was no denying it. Just as He said to the Israelites in Egypt, He once again spoke: “let my people go!” Today the doors of the company closed forever, and His people are finally free. There is a great deal of fear about what happens next, especially since the news of the closing came so quickly, it did not leave much time for the employees to search for new employment. The Jews in Egypt did not have much time to make plans either–all they had was their faith in the Lord that He would deliver them from Pharaoh, and He did. That mass exodus was the beginning of an epic journey toward true freedom.
I feel as though this closing was another mass exodus orchestrated by God. All the people involved have such talents and can truly change the world given the right motivation, now that they are not trapped by the fear of leaving the comforts of their jobs, which weren’t very comfortable at all. They needed a little push and now they are free, free to go and serve the Lord using the abilities He gave them. Tomorrow will come; the sun will rise and reality will set in–there is no longer a store to open. Now there are so many new possibilities. They can do anything because there is no store to open. The future is bright and holds the promise of new changes. God is acting in this world. I believe He is working on something as big as the Exodus that will change the course of the world as that event did so many years ago.

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.

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!

Drink Up

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” ~John 4: 10-14

Jesus Christ is truly the Word incarnate for He continues to reveal Himself through the Word to me. This passage from John tells of the Samaritan woman. I know this story well but never was able to relate to it. It took the insight of a priest to enlighten a new and powerful understanding.

It has almost been a month since I moved from New York to New Jersey. Coming into this new life in New Jersey has been like a rebirth everything is new and beautiful. I find myself praising God for every little thing I receive and life has become a life of blessings. My points of struggle come when I have to go back into New York. The days I have to travel to the city I wake up with great anxiety and it is a fight just to get out of bed and on my way to the train station the anxiety quickly transforms into pure fear. Once I arrive in the city I am filled with harbored anger inside my heart. Everything that I come in contact with makes me frustrated and upset, I get very tired very easily and place unwarranted judgment on others. I do not like the person I am when I am in New York. It is because my internal peace that the Lord has granted me in New Jersey feels like it is being taken away. All these negative emotions that I have towards New York truly confused me, I used to adore New York. In fact it was in New York where I found the Lord and He brought me back to life. How can I be so angry at a place that reunited me with my Savior?

After speaking to this priest about my struggle he enlightened me with great wisdom that I would have never reached on my own. He said to me that it sounded like I went through my own crucible in New York. At first it was alarming to hear mainly because once again I had not accepted how traumatic my time in New York really was. He also referenced the Israelites being delivered from Egypt. Colorado, my home, was Egypt and I knew I needed to leave that place in order to grow. I went to New York believing that New York was the “Promised Land.” I believed that was where the Lord wanted me to be but in reality New York was the desert that I had to get through in order to reach the Promised land. I found the Lord in New York because my life was so difficult and so impossible that I had to surrender myself completely to Him. Looking back there is absolutely no logical explanation of how I survived New York. My time in New York was a true miracle. There was a significant reason for my time in New York, like there was a reason for the Israelites to endure those years in the desert. When they reached the Promised land they were entirely the Lord’s and they were able to appreciate the Promised land for everything that it was. My entire reality, identity and life has been transformed because of things that I endured during my time in “the desert.”

How does this all relate to the woman at the well? While I was in New York I was digging my own well searching for the spring of water. I had faith that is was there and my soul thirsted for the water of eternal life. The well is deep but when I finally reached the spring water gushed forth. I am entering into a new chapter in my life, a chapter of great gratitude. I fully intend to drink deep during this time and to take advantage of every close moment the Lord grants me to spend with His Son. Even though I have found the spring the well can always go deeper and the Lord is always calling His people to go deeper. The water I drink now will revitalize me so that I can dig again. I know that this chapter is preparing for the next chapter.