Thursday, December 31, 2009

2009 Awards (and Other Things From This Year)

Kayla Hartmann (again this year - she will probably always win)

Sarah Farley (she isn't entirely "new" but I'm in charge here so she wins anyway)

Dazzers! (Which says a lot because we are so very, very different, which used to always leave her helpless when it came relating to me)

The summer with the youth group

The beginning of the Fall 2009 semester was rough. It was hard to be away from the youth group, I wasn't used to all the reading I had to do for my classes, and sound stuff for ministry was difficult beyond my level of competence.


When the Saints by Sara Groves ties with Empty and Beautiful by Matt Maher (neither of which are newly written in 2009)

The Bourne movies were a large part of the Spring semester

Brideshead Revisited


Westside Pizza

Dr. Blosser - and I am NOT just saying that because there is a chance he will read it.  Dr. White was a very close second.


To take Francis and Pio instead of Church History I. [Francis and Pio was not a stupid class, but I couldn't think of a single other bad decision all year ;-)]

hmmmm..... I'm open to suggestions on this one

Another tie: Theology and the Arts or New Testament II  (Side Note: It is really hard to think back on a year and have to consider semesters from two different school years)

To become the person God wants me to become. (and to grow in charity)

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A New Perspective

Remember this?

God reminds me time and time again that there is such value and goodness in my current state of life.  He has big plans for me now, not just in the future.  The purpose of my life is not limited to my future vocation - a lesson I am very slow to learn

"Suffering is not sanctified by those who suffer in this life because of wounded pride, envy, jealousy etc. How much suffering we create for ourselves! This cross is not Christ's but comes precisely from being far away from Him. This cross is one's own and it is heavy and fruitless." - In Conversation With God: Advent and Christmas, page 256.

As demonstrated by the link above, there are times when I am burdened by what I do not have.  But how much of this is Christ's cross and how much of it is self-imposed?  I'm not exactly sure.

All I really know is that, far too often, I take this time in my life for granted.  And I shouldn't.  Doing so keeps me far from Him.

Monday, December 21, 2009

15 Years of Wedded Bliss

I'll keep waiting. Besides, I have still have a lot to surrender and learn.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


1.) Tonight I joined the other ladies (mostly from the generation before mine) on my street for the annual cookie exchange. I'm tired. Somehow, even though I'm student teaching next semester, graduating in May, and then going on a trip to Israel, my life just isn't that interesting.  At least, it isn't interesting enough to hold a conversation with a neighbor for more than 3 minutes. It was a bit of a long night. The worst part is that it turned into some kind of emotional chastity disaster. Okay, I'm being somewhat dramatic. BUT, I really do think that if I were married and had kids the whole event would have been more enjoyable. Then, I would have had something to tell.

2.) Tomorrow morning I must complete the task that comes every year around this time. I have to take my younger brother Christmas shopping. I asked him where he wanted to go - he doesn't know. I asked what he needed to buy - he doesn't know. I asked who he needed to shop for - everyone. This should be fun.

3.) I'm so sick of hearing about/seeing flashes on T.V. of/running into magazine articles about Tiger Woods. I almost blogged about it. But then I realized that would just add to the madness. Instead, I will link to the author of a very good blog, who had this to say about the situation.

4.) My family and I had a small (and very, very annoying) argument about where to display the nativity scene. We have almost always put it under the Christmas tree. It's small statues have been knocked over and glued back together several times throughout the years. And it often makes the presents hard to access and place. These, however, where not the main reasons I wanted it displayed elsewhere this year. I thought it should go on top of the mantle. That way, people could have a better view of it and use it to stimulate reflection (gasp!) on the holy day for which we are preparing.  It started out as a friendly discussion between my mom and I. Then it escalated slightly when my dad and younger brother got involved. That was on Saturday afternoon, and as things currently stand, the nativity set is still packed away in a box downstairs.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh How I Need Him

A month or so ago, I went through a period of a couple weeks where I listened to Danielle Rose's song Give and Take each night while I laid in bed praying.  The lyrics are beautiful, and I found that they really helped me put my life in perspective. Throughout the song, the lyrics encourage a desire to surrender everything, to give up anything necessary to be close to God.  Not only that, but to do so joyfully, praising God for the blessings that remain.

One night, as I prayed I told God, with a mixture of guilt and desperation, that I just couldn't do it. My love for Him was lacking something necessary. And in that moment, in my mind, I saw Jesus on the road to Calvary.  As I told Him that I wasn't enough, that I couldn't do it, He looked back at me and said in a tender, yet sorrowful, voice, "I know."  And He turned around, and continued carrying the cross, to His death, for my salvation. Because I couldn't do it.

Last night, during adoration at XLT, I was meditating on the story of the loaves and fishes. I placed myself in the character of the young boy.  I imagined myself working hard to catch those fish. I imagined getting the bread and preparing to take both back to my mom. All the while, in the background of the scene, but constantly making its way to the forefront of my mind, I saw a large crowd, gathered around one Man, listening to Him preach.  As the disciple approached me, telling me that this man was the Messiah and that He wanted to feed everyone gathered there, and then asking me if I would give what little food I had, the story stopped.  Suddenly I wondered, was this all the food the boy had?  Did he give his whole basket, or just some so that there would still be food to take back to his family?

Since I was imagining myself as the boy, I had a decision to make. Would I give my whole basket?  But how could I? I mean, wouldn't Jesus want me to still have food to take to my family?

I stood in line for Reconciliation as the band played The Stand. One of lines says "So I'll stand, with arms high and heart abandoned, in awe, of the One who gave it all..." Of the One who gave it all.  I couldn't give my whole basket; I couldn't give it all. But Jesus, He is the One who gave it all.  He held nothing back.

My Father in Heaven knew, eternally, that I could not do it. That He would have to send His only Son to do it for me. As I struggle to find joy, to be at peace with praising Him for what remains what I give all to Him, and I as sit there, holding on to my basket, trying to justify not giving Him the whole thing, He picks up His cross, walks the road to Calvary, suffers and dies. And His Father responds to His offering by continually showering grace upon me in my imperfection.  All of this so that, one day, I may be close to Him, when nothing, not even the failures of my life, will stand between us and our love.

Oh how I need Him.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Because She Asked Me To

I am so distant.  God is there, very close. But I, I am far away.  December has been one of those months.  For some reason, I can't seem to bring myself to a confessional.  I can't seem even to bring myself to much prayer.  Last night, I laid in bed, In Conversation With God in hand, and there it was, all right before. And I, I was distant.

I read about interior mortification.  I knew, though much of me wanted to hide it, that this would not be easy.  I take such delight in the wandering of my mind. Last night, I was reminded of just how much that deprives God of me now. Or rather, how much that deprives me of God.

I didn't want to pray. I would say that I couldn't. I would claim that Satan or something had a hold on me that I couldn't escape. But it wouldn't be true.  The biggest thing I was fighting was myself.

The prayer that has come so easily to me lately struggled to fight its way to the surface. What was the point really?  Even Mary seemed so far away.  In her I saw condemnation. I saw disappointment.  I saw the harsh reality of all that scared me. Would I dare to draw close?  Would the terrible judgment of her gaze break me apart.  Suddenly I knew, though I certainly didn't feel, that this was not the woman I have come to love. And the woman that she is, wanted me to draw close.

And so I prayed those ancient words.  Not because I wanted to. Not because it was the easiest thing to do, or because I saw a purpose.  I held my breath, shut my eyes tight, and through no power of my own I asked for Our Mother's powerful intercession because I knew that I should. Because she asked me to.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

"Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:4-7

I Am Not She

Dearest Love,

Christmas is approaching.  As I journey through this season of preparing for Your humble yet glorious birth, I am reminded of the depth and power of Your love for me.  I want to try to express to You something of what my relationship with You means to me.

Life is not easy.  I am young, but I learned this lesson long ago.  So often my relationship with You suffers from shallowness of waters.  Many times, I am consumed by this world and its difficulties.  While Your love for me transcends into eternity, I myself am unable to move beyond the confines of this world.

I have said, on multiple occasions, that I cannot imagine my life without You.  I have said that all is confusing enough with You in my life.  Tonight, I question how much I have actually let You in.  I cannot deny, nor do I wish to, that every good thing in my life is a blessed gift from above, and that every good action is done only because of Your grace.  However, I wonder how much I am actually living this life without You.

In the depths of my heart, I think that I love You.  And I think that love is motivated by genuine intentions, that it is pure and selfless.  But how pure of a love can it be if I’m not allowing it to change me.  If I ignore promptings that are likely to be from You, I am no closer to You than had I never heard them.

I have learned a lot about You these past three and half years.  I do believe that You have wanted me to do so.  Somewhere along the way, or maybe this was a problem before these years started, I stopped asking to be transformed.  Many of my prayers became nothing more than thoughts directed at no one in particular.

I wanted to write a letter in which I could express to You how much I love You.  I wanted it to be filled with the beautiful language of which You are deserving.  I wanted to detail, in small ways, the joys and sorrows of this life we share together.  Instead, I am left lamenting.  The words necessary to express what I am like on the inside are not the words I long to use.

My Jesus, my sweet, loving Jesus, I am broken.  There is far too much of me, and far too little of You.  And I hear You calling Lord.  I hear the tenderness of Your beckon.  But my response is not coming easily.  My soul is nearly collapsing under the pressure of this moment.  Lord, I do not know how to say Yes.  Mary, Your Mother, my Mother … our Mother, lived so beautifully and so perfectly that for which I do long. I do. But I am not she.  I am not she…

But she will pray for me Lord.  And those who lived the faithful life before me will beg for me at the feet of Your Father.  And slowly, very slowly, my heart will change.  Do I believe that?  Will I live like I do?

I am here Lord.  My soul is fighting against the strong jaws of my flesh.  They want desperately to snap shut. To block You out. To remain the same.  They are trapped in the heavy chains of fear. And my soul is struggling. Struggling.

I need Your grace Jesus.  My Love.  I cannot ask for it enough. I cannot desire it enough.  I cannot be enough.  But Your grace is enough.  It will be enough.  It is enough.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

For The Record

I don't like this blog template or the colors.  I've spent the last 20 minutes changing everything back and forth and trying different color schemes.  I'm not happy with it. But I'm leaving it.  One of my tasks for Christmas break will be to learn enough html code to make my own template.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My Past Suffering and Sin Haunts Me. What Can I Do?

What follows was a facebook message response to a personal seeking of advice.  All of the personally identifying content has been removed.  A few minor additions and removals have also occurred.

I think that God's mercy is one of the toughest aspects of His love for us to understand. At times, it is even more difficult to accept.

The good news is that you and I are blessed to be part of a faith that promises hope, and we are children of a God who never ceases to love and forgive us. The walls that you have described building between you and God hold no power against the merciful and loving will of our Father.

Part of the beauty of our Church lies in the Sacramental life. Go to reconciliation. Seek and receive forgiveness. In forgiveness we find love, and in love (real love) we come to know our true value.

Have hope. All is not lost. God redeems us. Your purity is not merely a thing of the past, it is also the future God is leading you to embrace. Be truly repentant for your wrongs and make amends for your sins, but trust in His mercy as well.

Remember that your suffering is not the end of the story. Peter Kreeft said, "perhaps we are sharing in a suffering we do not understand because we are the objects of a love we cannot understand."  As Christians, we are called to believe that God has a loving plan for us that is so great we cannot comprehend it. The challenge for you now is to trust that through what has happened, God is working great things in your life. In his letters, St. Paul talks about the paradox of the cross. God's glory is made most visible in the humiliation of crucifixion. In the same way, God's glory will be made more visible in you as you heal from the past that has hurt you.

God's beauty is within in you. Your honesty and your willingness to embrace His Truth will truly set you free. Although it will take time, through that freedom you will come to love God and those around you in a more perfect, more complete way.

 Be willing to change.  Have hope. Always have hope.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Would There Be a Padre Pio Without St. Francis?

The Franciscan friars largely dictated the way that Padre Pio lived for the majority of his life.  For this reason, the spirituality and practices of St. Francis marked many of the integral elements of who Padre Pio was.  He was formed by the legacy of Francis.  The question of whether there would have been a Padre Pio without St. Francis is one that requires a delicately balanced response.  One must find a reply that acknowledges the practical and spiritual implications imparted upon Pio by St. Francis, while simultaneously avoiding the diminishment of the power of God’s grace upon a soul regardless of circumstance.  Did Padre Pio benefit from the life and holiness of St. Francis?  Yes.  It is likely that Pio studied Francis closely, gleaning from him every ounce of wisdom available.  However, Pio was blessed with many graces and experience, from his childhood to his death, which allowed him to be someone Francis could never have been.  Not someone better or holier, but someone with a unique calling.  Someone whose journey to holiness would touch lives in a way Francis’s could not.  There are many similarities between the two.  However, there are also key differences, which make each one holy.  Padre Pio became the man of God the world knew him to be not because he mimicked the life of St. Francis perfectly.  Rather, he became the individual that God asked him to become.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Theology and Art

In the Incarnation, God took on flesh.  The invisible became visible. Man enters into, on a lesser scale, the same action of God when he becomes an artist.  Art takes form and gives it matter.  It expresses what man has previously only experienced.  In doing so, art leads man to God.  In expressing truth about a real human experience, art becomes an expression of God.  And it is God that man sees in art.


Special thanks to Dr. Jamie Blosser whose impeccable sense of precision allows him to stay within the lines when he colors and whose uncanny ability to choose the absolute best color makes his work pleasant to view, both of which enable the viewer to encounter a reality that leads him to God.

At the Crucifixion

I was reading Padre Pio's reflections in the book The Agony of Jesus.  Pio writes, "He sees His throat and entrails on fire with a burning thirst, and to add to this agony, a drink of vinegar and gall."  to add to this agony... suddenly it all made a little bit more sense.  It was another way to torture Him. I'd always thought this part of the story a bit odd, but always just brushed over it.  Why would the men torturing Jesus, crucifying Him, offer Him something to drink when He was He is thirsty?  It doesn't seem to fit their characters.  Thankfully, Padre Pio cleared things up for me.