Trusting in Him

How often do I place my trust in God?

Not often enough.

Trusting in Him

All around us, society says things. “Be your own person!” “You don’t need a man.” “You’re beautiful the way you are.” “You have the power to control.” “You can do this.”

It’s pretty empowering stuff, and it’s nice to hear when I’m feeling hopeless or downtrodden. But for the most part, it isn’t true. Yes, I can do things, and I do have the power to control how I react to situations. But these messages put myself before God.

I do need a man. His name is Jesus. I’m not beautiful the way I am sometimes. I’m full of sin and the need to repent. I can’t do everything on my own, and the idea I shouldn’t need someone, that I can do this all on my own, bruises me, because I desperately need someone to help me. I know that for a fact. I can tell myself over and over again “I’m not going to do that anymore,” or “I’m going to change this about myself.” But I never can, because I’m human and I can easily drift back into what I shouldn’t be doing.

In situations were you feel like you’re constantly losing, (as I feel right now), looking to these societal messages to keep up the fight just isn’t sufficient. Only God has the strength and power to endure.

Yesterday in Mass, a visiting priest made the statement: “Keep reaching  for justice, even if you won’t get it.” God is all about justice, and He knows the injustice you are dealing with. But He won’t always grant it to you when you want it, because His plan is not our own. That doesn’t mean give up necessarily–continue to pray for those who are putting you down, who are holding you back, who are acting unfairly. But ask for the grace and humility to accept what you cannot control, and if you remain defeated, remember to trust in God’s plan for you.

You cannot do everything and you weren’t meant to do everything. I look at what’s going on in our country; the noise hurts my head and the constant negativity hurts my heart. I look at what’s going on in my parish, and I continue to feel hopeless.

And I know why I never feel like I’m getting anywhere. It’s because I forget to place my trust in God. I keep telling myself that I can do what I need to do, that I have the ability to change what needs to be changed. But what if this is not God’s plan? If I feel like there is no progress, it means either one of two things: a.) It isn’t meant to be in God’s plan, or b.) It isn’t time yet for this progress to be made.

So what I need to do is to just place my trust in Him. Not in myself, or in another person. As imperfect creatures, there is no guarantee that what has been promised by me or another will be fulfilled. But what is promised by God will be fulfilled. And that is what I need to remember as I face injustice and unfairness in my surroundings. It’s easy to feel hopeless in times where nothing is going your own way, or you see unfair and wrong things happening right where you are. But God will deliver you from it.

I have a hard time believing this, but that is where true faith and trust exists.

I’m basically writing this post for myself, but I extend it to all of you. I encourage all of you to join me in prayer, to pray for me and to pray for others, who are struggling with trusting God and His plan. These are trying times (but aren’t they always?) and what’s important is to remember that God is in control, and that trusting in Him is what will get us through. If God brought you to it, He will bring you through it.

May the Blessed Mother guide us, and may the Spirit of the Lord keep our eyes focused and our hearts full of compassion and understanding. Trust in Him.

Pax in Christo,

Grace

Identity ‘Christ’us

Life is not easy, as crosses are not light
backbreaking, mandating, troublesome with smite.
these torrents of tears, these shaking of shoulders,
each intensified by fears, that grow as I grow older.

But relinquished are they, when I fasten my eyes,
to the King of the World, who knew what it was like,
to be all alone, to feel alienation,
who ate with those who believed
they deserved damnation.

He extended His arms, when He took His last breath,
And into those arms I fall, when I cannot stand.
Climbing this mountain with doubt and my song,
tripping on temptation, and tumbling down when I’m wrong

I will bounce back again, and lift my eyes to Him
above the waving of fists
and the pointed blades of questions,
I will discard these heavy blankets
that have muffled my voice.

St. Therese once said of her little way
that when I set foot on these stairs
it is then the Lord will carry me.

You can try to pummel my spirits
with your deterrent disposition.
Even if you claim it is fueled
by prayerful intuition.
I will not waver,
And yet I will still listen.

For I know who I am,
and I know to Whom I belong:

My Lord and
My Savior.

No matter how many times
you tell me I’m wrong.

I See Them

I saw them—

A thousand men burdened
with the task of carrying sharp-tipped spears,
pointed precisely
at the enemy on the other side.

I saw them—

A thousand men facing another thousand men,
laden with the ultimate mission:
to destroy who their eyes touched.

And I, above it all, yielded a broken heart
when the war cry shattered the atmosphere.
Crushed I was as they roared at each other.

I was not just watching from above, I was centered in between,
I was a man on both sides. Through my vision I experienced it all.
The pain, the suffering, the anguish, the fiery anger.
Fear, uncertainty, unspoken betrayal.

My heart was pricked with two thousand thorns;
and each stab to the heart I saw, I felt, I knew,
there my tears leaked.

“I love you,” I would say. “Come to me,” I would plead.

But the noise,
O! the rush of the noise
Distracted they were, ripping each other to shreds.

I know what they want.
Their souls lonely and unaware.
As they take from each other
rather than give,
I have what they desire.

My Peace is strong; my Peace I yearn to bestow upon them.
While they fight in groups,
they are still lone individuals–

Feeling abandoned,
they search endlessly for a cause
on all the wrong paths.
If only they would pause
and turn their heads upward to Me.

For in doing this they would know

I was there with them all along.

God is Good! (My AP Score+Experience)

Hey guys!

So I thought I’d do some more “life” posts on here–not too many, but every now and then, just in case any of you are interested in the girl behind the blog. 😛 Anyway, I have exciting news! I know I’ve hinted at it in prior posts (such as in NaPoWriMo, etc.) about preparing for my AP US History exam. For those of you who don’t know what AP is, AP stands for Advanced Placement and is a series of classes that introduces college level material and rigor in high school courses. If you get a high enough score on the national AP exam for your specific class, you may be able to get college credit at the college of your choice, and won’t have to take the class in college. Sounds pretty awesome right? You get high school and college credit?

Continue reading

Where did the time go?

Happy Monday everyone! It’s been quite a while since I posted anything and for that I am deeply sorry. NaPo honestly was a lot, having been posting every single day and I wanted to give both myself and the reader a bit of a break from the influx of posts. At the same time, I was studying for my AP US History exam. I took the exam on May 6th and I think I did fairly well? It was my first ever AP exam and there was a lot of material to review and practice on. I don’t think I did well enough to earn a 5, but I’m praying for at least a 4. How many of you took AP exams? Are you glad they’re over? Let me know below!

Anyway, I’m a little behind in school in my other courses so I’m trying to catch up as best as I can so I’m not doing school well into the summer. (I’ll be doing an English course probably, so I can take more English AP classes during the school year!)

With school coming to a close, my life is going to get a lot more serious real quick. I know Junior year leaves me with one more year of school left, with plenty of time to make decisions and focus in my studies and continue to develop my interests, but the fact I have to start looking at schools in August/September is a little worrisome. I’ve never been good with making concrete decisions, and there are so many schools and so many interests I have! How can I narrow it down to one or two or even three schools and so on?

I’ll be okay, I know that. There’s still plenty of time–but that time seriously goes by way too fast. I keep asking myself at the beginning of every month: “How is it this month already?” How is it nearly mid-2016 already?  I can’t comprehend it! 😛

Other thoughts continue to invade, though they don’t have to right now. College is the bridge between now and my future life. It’s going to shape me into who I will be when I leave, not just academically but judgementally. I have to be more responsible in college, I won’t always have someone making all the decisions for me.

With driving lessons still underway and usually being a homebody, I just don’t feel ready yet. But this is only the end of sophomore year. I can do this.

Because I have God.

My grandma gave me a necklace last year that has an inscription on the oval piece of jewelry attached the to chain. It says:

Let your faith be bigger than your fear.

I don’t know who penned that quote, but it’s immensely powerful in reminding me where I need to place my trust in. God knows all things. He can do all things. He made you, and He loves you, and He will always be there to guide you. You just have to ask with a sense of seriousness. You have to be willing to make sacrifices in order  to receive from Him what you desired.

One time I was overly stressed with a situation in my youth group. I was so worried about it, I couldn’t sleep. I knew I couldn’t control the situation, which is why I had anxiety over it so much. Suddenly I felt myself saying, “Lord, I put this in your hands now.” And lo and behold, I actually felt a weight being lifted off my shoulders. I knew what I could and could not control, and there was a sort of clarity that detached me from the situation and showed me the grand scheme of things. I knew how I needed to act.

This is an example of relying on God. C.S Lewis once said, “You may forget that at every moment you are totally dependent on God.” We really are–He continues to let us live, He guides us to the places we go (though we may not realize it) for the purpose of learning things and meeting people and all the while developing yourself into this person you are today. He sees all things–causes and results. Before and after. We are just living frame by frame, and each decision we make results in a new frame, which causes another frame. We have to look to God because we can’t see what lies beyond the frame we are living in at the moment.

Proverbs 3:5-6~

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
 in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

I need to memorize these verses to the point they are ingrained in me. We cannot rely simply on ourselves to do things, and we don’t have to feel like we have to forge through “uncharted” territory alone. Look to God and know He will be there in your time of suffering and in your time of need.

I’m still going to be nervous, worried, uncertain–but I have God to fall back on, and I have God to strengthen me and guide me.

Any of you have words of advice for the upcoming school year as a junior? 🙂

God bless and I’m so sorry for being gone without notice.

Pax in Christo,

Grace

Happy Easter!//He is Risen, Alleluia Alleluia

Good evening everyone!

I didn’t mean for this post to come so late, but I was playing guitar in our youth band for two overflow Easter services, so we were gone all morning. I had such a fun and refreshing time going to Mass twice, catching up with people I hadn’t seen in a while between services, eating chocolate bunnies (yes, I’ve had lots of chocolate today, and I’m not ashamed!), and spending time with family.

I’m still very disappointed with myself, not preparing spiritually as I wanted to for Easter. Like at all. I didn’t progress much in Lent, and Easter at first just kind of…came. It didn’t seem any different from any other day. Going to Mass and celebrating it with my youth friends changed that a little, but I’m still internally struggling. I feel kind of hypocritical, negative. I’m very positive right now, but I know I could’ve done better during Lent like I said I would.

*sigh.* But I know I can do better. That’s why I hope on Resurrection Day for anyone who feels like they’ve strayed from their relationship with God, or have wandered unintentionally off the path, that they find Christ resurrected in themselves. For Christ is always in us, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. Faith isn’t based on feeling solely, of course, but sometimes it can be hard to push that aside and remember that He is in us always. Or, He wants to be in us, but we’re blocking Him from residing.

I know Easter means for most of us the Lord rising from the dead. He has conquered the unconquerable: Death. Sin. Evil. But I also take it to mean that this time should be a time of coming back to Him, of reviving our love and pulling ourselves out of the graves we’ve built ourselves from lack of effort, from intentional sin, from doubt and troubled desires.

If you’re doubting yourself, remember: you can do this! You are forgiven! Your sins have been forgiven and you have been saved. You can bounce back. As C.S Lewis said: You-Must-Ask-For-God-Help

Do not let the heavy burden of sins conquer you.

I didn’t mean for this post to be semi-negative like, but I needed to get it down in writing. But I’m still fueled by the powerful positivity that of course reigned today in both Mass services. God is good and He will always reveal Himself, and today He revealed Himself in the people around me, in the Scripture., and in the Mass. He is Alive!

Tomorrow is a new day, and I thank the Lord He has given me this one.

God bless and Happy Easter everyone! I hope all of you are doing well, whether in mental or physical or spiritual (the most important of the three) health.

Pax in Christo (He is Risen!)

~Grace

‘Mere Christianity’ by C.S. Lewis

Happy Monday everyone! I’m so sorry for not posting frequently this past week, I’ve just been so busy catching up with school and fighting my natural urges to procrastinate (it’s been a real struggle and I really need to get out of it). So I apologize if you’ve sent me emails or other messages and I’ve failed to respond to them. I’ve just been so disconnected lately, but that’s partly because I’m also reading an amazing book right now: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis.

I’m just about finished with it, maybe a few chapters left, but I have to say: I am 1,000% recommending it to all of you. I really want to share with you some of the gems that have stuck out to me throughout my reading experience: the way Lewis explains Christianity is so genius; his examples, images, and analogies could not have been fashioned better.

This is the cover of the book; I got it for Christmas and I remember being so enamored with the beautiful design.

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It’s definitely more gorgeous in person.

Mere Christianity is a compilation of a number of talks Lewis gave during World War II in Europe over the British Broadcasting Company radio. Recall that Lewis was, as a younger man, a strong atheist (I believe it was because of his mother’s death; don’t quote me as a valid source on that, but I think that may have been the cause behind it), who eventually converted to Christianity. In the preface of the book, Lewis gives a detailed description of those talks and how they brought all sorts of people together during the horrid crisis of war. He talks about how he modified a few things, why he published them as a book, etc. It’s all very interesting, so I definitely appreciated the back story. This edition also has correspondences Lewis had with listeners regarding the content of some of his talks as well, including the dates of the talks he gave, and so on.

The book covers several different topics: Right and Wrong (and the Moral Law), What Christians Believe, Christian Behavior and Morality (this is by far my favorite section; it covers marriage, charity faith and hope, the Great Sin, Forgiveness, the different parts of morality, etc.), Doctrine of the Trinity (also an incredible section), and further challenges we face as Christians.

[Christianity]…is more like a hall out of which doors open into several rooms. If I can bring anyone into that hall I shall have done what I attempted. But it is in the rooms, not in the hall, that there are fires and chairs and meals. The hall is a place to wait in, a place from which to try various doors, not a place to live in…It is true that some people may find they have to wait in the hall for a considerable time, while others feel certain almost at once which door they must knock at. I do not know why there is this difference, but I am sure God keeps no one waiting unless He sees that it is good for him to wait. 

I’m not going to go too much into depth about what is covered in the sections mentioned, but one of my favorites was that of marriage. I don’t know if I’m going to get married: do any of us know at this point? Lewis wasn’t married at the time of these talks, which he humbly acknowledges before giving his two cents about the subject. As we all know divorce is a touchy subject in some denominations of Christianity, but C.S. Lewis really wrote so well about it.

Here Lewis is explaining that the majority of divorces are done because neither partner is in love with the other anymore. I recognize that  divorce is necessary in regards to domestic violence and abuse, an action for the safety of one or both of the partners in marriage, but Lewis focuses on the main reason. They just don’t feel what they initially felt. They may find themselves “in love” with someone else, and therefore they must divorce to chase after that other person. But love isn’t a feeling, it’s not something you just have and then when it’s gone it’s gone: it’s exactly what Lewis is describing it as, and that’s why marriage can be difficult. We don’t have that ‘feeling’ forever, but the unity we can construct if we turn to God.

Also a very intellectual and honest statement by Lewis. It really shocked me back into reality. Lewis explains that we construct our idea of what love actually is from the movies (you can see how timeless this talk is: whether in the 40s or now, it’s true!). It’s always about feeling and acting on those emotions that arise in us. But love isn’t about that: we will find ourselves not always loving the person we’re with, but that’s perfectly normal! What do you think ‘for better or for worse’ means? 😉

I don’t want to spoil the experience for you, because discovering something you didn’t know before or a new perspective on already obtained knowledge is always an exciting occurrence, and one I wish not to hinder by talking about it here. I will, however, post some of my favorite quotes from the book (which I took from various sites: the designs are so beautiful!)

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This one is definitely thought-provoking. We don’t know our faults and bad habits until we try to prevent them, and then once we see we find ourselves struggling to prevent them, we realize how bad we really are.

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This goes along with the marriage passage mentioned earlier.

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One of my favorites. What image comes to mind when you read the word ‘humility?’ A beggar in ragged clothes? Think not this: only just think of yourself less instead of thinking of yourself negatively. We all struggle with humility: we all are, as Lewis explained, “self-conceited” in a way.

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This one is so important!

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So so true.

And finally a tidbit from what I read today:

The Christian way is different: harder, and easier. Christ says “Give me All. I don’t want much of your time and so much of your money and so much of your work: I want You. I have not come to torment your natural self, but to kill it. No half-measures are any good. I don’t want to cut off a branch here or a branch there, I want to have the whole tree down…Hand over the whole natural self, all the desires which you think innocent as well as the ones you think wicked–the whole outfit. I will give you a new self instead. In fact, I will give you Myself: my own will shall become yours.’

The terrible thing, the almost impossible thing, is to hand over your whole self–all your wishes and precautions–to Christ. But it is far easier than what we are all trying to do insted. For what we are trying to do is remain ‘ourselves,’ to keep personal happiness as our great aim in life, and yet at the same time be ‘good.’ We are all trying to let our mind and heart go their own way–centred on money or pleasure or ambition–and hoping, in spite of this, to behave honestly and chastely and humbly. …[T]hat is exactly what Christ warned us not to do. As He said, a thistle cannot produce figs. If I am a field that contains nothing but grass-seed, I cannot produce wheat. Cutting the grass  may keep it short: but I shall still produce grass and no wheat. If I want to produce wheat, the change must go deeper than the surface. I must be ploughed up and re-sown.

Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis, “Is Christianity Hard or Easy?” p. 259-261

I was currently reading that chapter earlier today and had to share it will all of you. I don’t think any other section has spoken to me more than that one.

Well, that’s enough about ‘Mere Christianity’ today! I hope you’ve enjoyed the quotes, and if you haven’t read it, are now inspired to.

Have you read ‘Mere Christianity’? What did you think of it? What was your favorite quote from above and why? 

Pax in Christo!

~Grace

The Water

 

There is so much fear trembling within me.
It buckles my knees and numbs my feet
It shakes my hands and paralyzes my heart
It starts out in the center, pulsating
and then reaches to
the far corners of my soul,
spreading like wildfire that cannot be put out
by any kind of water
except one.

I can feel the water like you can feel hunger–

it just was.

I search for it, thrashing through
thickets and thicker things,
slowed by the great barriers they form.

But I cannot find it.

My heart burns, a painful jab spiking through my bones
and rattling my ribcage.
It squeezes and tightens my lungs, like
two prodigious hands with a jarring grip,
their goal to suffocate my breathing.

I claw at the sky, somehow fabricating the notion a true hand was there to save me, to pull me from the wreckage of my self-destruction.

The water is not obtainable.

It was never real, was it? What a taunting gesture, I think,
to make me believe I could extinguish my fears and terminate my trepidations.

Only thing left to do, I guess, is fall down

and give up.

Let the fires consume me raw,

let the fears slam into me and pull me from reality

let my angers and sorrows forever shape whatever scope i look through

whatever eyes i look with

whatever…

But then. 

There is something else I feel. No, it’s not a feeling. It’s a revelation. I crack open my eyes, and I doubt they were actually ever open to start.

There is the water, a glass pool that beckons me. My body is heavy, my arms are weak.

But the power this water holds over me is the fuel, the electrical surge that pushes me forward.

I am crawling. It is beauty I taste upon my tongue, like sweet fruit that punctures with a sting initially. A few seconds later it settles in like a sweet melody, and there I am at the edge of the pool.
There is no indecision,
only truth.

Out of the fire and into the water I plunge myself.
And out of the water into the fire
I rise, rid of my gnawing fears,
rid of my knobby knees
and aching heart

all is replaced with a citadel of faith.


 

You will have to suffer only for a little while: the God of all grace who called you to eternal glory in Christ will restore you, he will confirm, strengthen and support you.

Peter 5:10

Now why delay? Get up and have yourself baptized and your sins washed away, calling upon his name.

Acts 22:16

picture via

~Grace

Oceans (music and Christian youth)

Sometimes music is so powerful you don’t know how to fit it into words. It’s nearly impossible–you have a dozen components in your head, reasons as to why it’s powerful, but truthfully, it just is and that’s enough for me.

Oceans is that music.

I was never much for Christian worship music. I kind of wrote it off as cheesy, annoying, repetitive and boring. I loved my faith, but I didn’t feel like I was absorbing anything by listening to a banjo and Jesus’ name repeated twenty-seven times in a row. I don’t think anyone else in my middle school class was feeling it either. But…people change with one action, and everything surely changed when I listened to Oceans by Hillsong United.

Yeah, so I contradict myself. I hated repetition, but I think it depends on how that repetition is executed that makes it work or not. See, in oration repetition is used to create emphasis. When a speaker wants his or her point to really get across, they bend the rules and use repetition to emphasize the importance of their statement. It gets people’s attention. However, if you drone on and on the same word over and over again, you lose the attention. Less is more, but sometimes more is more. In the bridge of Oceans, the “Spirit Lead Me” on repeat could not resonate more with me.

Oceans is the best song I have ever heard in the Christian contemporary genre. The music accompanying the lyrics is phenomenal. It’s starts soft, then builds. I’m not all for techno and electronic music (which there is some of in this song), but it works with the piano when it bursts forth from the quiet pauses and the raw vocals. Sometimes you shouldn’t focus on every detail. Let the words be the force that breaks the dam, and your love of God be the water that pours out. Music can be a force, and when I began to listen to Oceans, I certainly felt it. It was only the beginning on my discovery to love Christian contemporary (but really only some of the songs–there are still those that I find less exciting or powerful, but I recognize now that it doesn’t matter–it’s the message embedded in the words that should matter the most…though I’d still probably only listen to it in a worship setting).

Each year teens across the country come together in hundreds of different conferences to have their faith ignited again. It’s easy to get lost in the everyday life. Our focus is distributed to dozens of other things, and it’s all too simple to get caught up and forget why we’re here. That’s the purpose of those conferences: to remind us what we should be doing, and to re-energize the soul. I know it can sound kind of lame. Shouldn’t we be working on keeping our faith consistent on our own? Well, yes. But realistically, it’s still hard to be as energized every day as you are at your Steubenville conference with three hundred other teens that share your same responsibilities and challenges.

Last summer was incredible. I went to my first Steubenville Conference in Orlando, Florida with my youth group. It was three days of hardcore Catholic youth stuff. We had Mass, we had music, we had break-out groups and emotional discussions, Confession, all with my close friends. Adoration could not have been more embarrassing for me as I realized what I was doing wrong (and as a human, I’m still doing it wrong). But it really opened my eyes to new ways of connecting with God, and one of those ways was through music. I started listening to Oceans constantly, It is Well (Live) by Bethel Music, I began learning those songs to play on guitar.

(this is beyond awesome)

(and this)

I’m human. I’m hypocritical. I don’t always act as I should. But this music definitely gives me hope.

But hey, we all are called to live our lives differently. It perfectly makes sense if you don’t like Christian music, if you’d rather sing traditional hymns and connect to God in different ways. The most important thing is to just love and follow Him, regardless the method (well the Ten Commandments are pretty much the outline, but you know what I mean).

To listen to these songs daily definitely keeps me from immersing myself in life so much I forget. I played Oceans at my youth group last week, and you can just see the faith in the room. It was energizing and awakening, and I just love playing that song on guitar and singing it (just don’t expect me to hit that “my God” during the transition to the last chorus xD Can’t do that LOL).

Now I quote my favorite lyrics because I totally can (with beautiful tumblr images):

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Have you heard of the songs I mentioned? Do you like Oceans? Or do you like other Christian songs? Which ones: comment below! [I also love Holy Spirit by Francesca B., and a bunch of Matt Maher songs.] [And Hosanna and Lead me to the Cross also by Hillsong…just too many! xD]