Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Justice and James1:22

Justice shouts...

We are followers of Christ, a part of God's cosmic renewal and reconciliation by being heralds of the good news; by living in a way that mirrors Christ, a way that allows for the Holy Spirit to move, breathe and take over. If we are believers in Christ, then we are entrusted with the gospel to share it, to live it.

"Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves, but do what it says." James 1:22 NIV

"But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forest what he was like. But one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and preservers, being no hearer who forgets, but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing." James 1:22-25 ESV

Injustice of all kinds should stir our hearts. We can choose to go on in our lives, to sit in this kitchen on a Macbook, to go to work and back, to read the Word, to go to church on Sunday and then to go back to work on Monday...or we can listen to the stirred heart within us, the heart in which the Spirit dwells and allow and share in God's burdened heart for the broken to burden us. Burden us, but yet inspire us because, as followers of the Lord, we know that He is capable of all. With God all things are possible.

We are burdened with so many injustices in this world- sex trafficking and slavery, racism and discrimination, orphans and widows, extreme poverty and corrupt leadership- yet we have the most powerful persons to tap into- the Father, the Son and the most Holy Spirit. We have the most powerful weapon- prayer. We have paths laid out for us, if we choose them, to be great for the kingdom of God.

We are uniquely made with unique talents and personalities and uniquely placed in a neighborhood/job/school with unique people surrounding us who maybe have or haven't heard the gospel.

Let our hearts be burdened for those who do not know Jesus. Let us be inspired. Let us have hope.

God let us see what you see. Let us see the woman standing on the corner who sells herself, who is forced to give up her body for a price. Let us see the child we know who is an orphan because his parents neglect him. Let us see that authoritative, selfish person as a broken child who is lost but belongs to you. Let us feel the weight of your heart Lord. Let us feel the sorrow you feel for the lost. Let us feel the depth and width of your desire for them to know you. 

God let us know the strength of your power. Let us know your complete sovereignty. Let us know your glory, your holiness, the greatness of your mystery. 

God let your Holy Spirit inspire us to be doers of the word in whatever way you have planned for us. Inspire hope in us, that the power of Christ can overcome all. Let us learn to inspire hope in others. Let us learn to love selflessly, to love every child of yours; young and old, every culture, every face. 

God I pray from the depths of my heart for every single woman and child who is a victim of sex trafficking, that your love would embrace them. God, let your justice reign in every porn shop, every truck stop, every pornography website, every hotel room, every brothel, every strip club. Let your justice reign in every government across the nations. Let your love reign in every broken family. Let justice reign over every victim of discrimination. 

God you are all powerful, you deserve the praise of all. You are so good God, you are perfectly just. Let your justice reign.

In the Holy name of Jesus,

Monday, October 1, 2012

To Man, From Woman

inspired by my husband and my brother Kevin...

Beloved Man,

You were named Adam by God, the Creator of all, because He made you from the soil of the earth. You were formed like clay by the Potter; an earthen vessel that God breathed into and gave life. You are different than all other creation. You are intimate with God, given authority over all other creation, not to have power over it, but to care for it, cultivate it, and therefore glorify your Creator. Man, flesh from which I came, I was made for you. I was taken from your rib: from a place close to your heart to be loved, and under your arm to be protected. You knew I was for you the moment you laid eyes on me. I was made to be your helper, your humble servant, to pray for you, to encourage you, to honor you and to love and adore you with everything I am. I was made to be your sanctuary of comfort and inspiration. You lead nations for the glory of God, you are a fisher of men, you are my provider. I am your prayer warrior, constantly lifting you up for favor to the throne of the Father, constantly crying out for more grace and wisdom and strength to be poured upon you as you rise up in the name of Christ. I am your secret garden, only open to you, full of desired spices, fragrances and fruits to please you, that you would delight in me and praise God for our love. We are partners, with our sovereign God, in the creation of new life. I am the garden of your fruit, your heirs, and together, we will raise disciples, we will be a church family, we will serve the Lord in our household, led by you, beloved Man. God has entrusted us, oh Man, to imitate the intimacy of the Holy Trinity. As the Church body submits to the will and leadership of Christ Jesus, so I submit to you Man, my protector in this life. I am tender and vulnerable, and you keep me and defend me from temptation and evil. Man, I desire you as the Bride desires her Bridegroom. Let me honor you by loving you selflessly, and I will gently guide and build you up in holiness, as your love molds onto me, to protect and cherish and lead me. Let us bring glory to God in all we do. Let us love in the name of Jesus.


God thank you for the gift of man. Thank you for the gift of relationship and intimacy. You are so good. You are such a good Provider. You provide all the fellowship and love we need as women. Help us women to be better women of God. Help us honor, build up, and selflessly love our men, our brothers. 

In Jesus' name, Amen.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Sometimes emptiness is a blessing that forces us to stop looking to others or other things, like an osculating fan, and focus all of our attention, time and effort to God- like a non-osculating fan; just all up, in one direction, turning our hurting selves and complaints into thanksgiving.

He is the only one who fills everything that could be lacking. He is the all-fitting puzzle piece, that no matter what is missing, He can fit and fill that place- and He will fill it with love.

Here's yesterday's devotion...

Sweet sweet Jesus, how I need you. 
I find new ways that I need you…now it is this way-

I rely on your Spirit to do everything,
there isn't one thing that I wouldn't want You in control of.
Your blood is so precious, it sustains the hope in me
that one day, I can be with you beloved.
You are mysterious, your life and how you came to be,
You just are. But how are you?
I need you because I love you,
but I need you because I would die without you.
I am alive because of you.
Your perfect love is the saving grace that allows me to live.
I need you now to fill this hole. 
You fit every hole in my heart Jesus.
I am lonely. I need you as a friend. 
I turn to you as a sister who longs for someone to share her soul with.
I am so blessed to have Cameron as my husband,
but he is only human and cannot fill every need-
but You can Jesus.
Your love fills and overflows and abounds and heals.
Your love is mind blowing.
I miss my friends back home, I miss my family, 
but Jesus, you can fill that right now. 
I will always miss them, but with your love, I can have nothing but joy.
Jesus your life bring the truest joy, perfect, deep, overwhelming joy,
where there is no room for loneliness or sadness.
Your love is the grace I need to trust you completely,
that at this moment or season in my life, you want us here.
Lord I trust that Your will is perfect, and my life is in your hands. 
We both trust you Jesus, we trust in your grace, in your life, in You.
Your love, your pursuing, tight-gripped, unfailing love allows us to trust-
to know that even if our flesh makes us hurt or doubt or anxious,
that Your love will overpower it, conquer it, destroy it, so that all that remains
is your love.
Thank you God for loving us. 
You give us life through love.
I have no idea why you chose to make us, to love us- we are unworthy.
But because of You, Jesus, we are worthy.
Because of Your love, we are heirs, we are children of God.
Because of Your love, we can have eternal life, eternal peace, eternal joy- 
all because of Your perfect, totally self-less, agape, relentless, furious love.

And even with my human-fighting-Spirit-self, I love you too. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Conjugal love: the big kid sex talk

So I took a Christian Marriage class this semester and we had to write a research paper, that could be on anything pertaining to Christian marriage. Since I am ecstatic, nonetheless, to get married in July, what better topic than the act of consummating!? Ha, you can take this with a grain of salt (especially with all of the Catholic church documents cited), but I will never be able to explain how much I learned from this and in a whole new way am looking forward to fulfilling my role as wife.


For our generation, American society has soaked us in a culture of sex. Sex has never before been such an open, casual topic. Although in the past there may have been just as much sexual immorality, the media and means of communication today brings the truth about sex in our society to the surface. Access to pornography is easier than ever; the internet is an endless source of wanted and unwanted information, pictures, videos and more, and the majority of it contradicts the whole purpose and beauty of sex. Young, pre-pubescents are exposed to sex early, and from that experience, start developing ideas, expectations and views of what it is. Sex is less and less correlated with marriage to the society at large. It has become a norm to have pre-marital sex, to masturbate and to experiment freely with our body and our sexuality. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of our federal government put out a survey in 2009 to high schoolers that found that 46% of high school kids have had intercourse and 14% had sex with 4 or more partners in their lifetime
. From that statistic, we can assume that from a Christian perspective, the majority of those involved in sexual activity don’t have any idea of the meaning or purpose of sex. 
Even for Christians, many do not seem to grasp the physical and spiritual experience of love that sex, or conjugal love can be. In a recent study in 2011, psychologists found that 74% of 100 Christian married individuals thought that sex was sacred in their marriage. However, 48% of the participants claimed that God was not an influence on their sexual experience with their spouse, and 56% showed below neutral attitudes towards God’s manifestation in their sex lives
. This was only one study, but there have been few scholarly studies done on the perspective of sex from Christian married couples. As Chris Padgett would say, there needs to be more married Saints! Sure, there have been many encyclicals, articles, and documents in the Catholic church written about the marital act, but few to none by a person under the covenant of Holy Matrimony. However, this is not to say that there have been some eye opening and beautiful things written such as the recent Blessed John Paul II’s Theology of the Body or Humanae Vitae
My general topic for this paper is sexual intimacy within the context of Christian Marriage, because I believe it is something so indescribably beautiful, yet so watered down and skewed in view of our generation and American society. From King Solomon in his yearning romantic songs to doctrine from St. Thomas Aquinas in Summa Theologiae, the Catholic church has been a fan of the “one flesh” union between man and wife. The Church says that not only is chaste intimacy good and honorable, but is a source of profound and lasting happiness
. Conjugal love is fully human, meaning that it is both physical and spiritual, and an act that helps both spouses attain their human perfection. The encyclical Humane Vitae states, “Conjugal love reveals its true nature and nobility when it is considered in its supreme source, God, who is Love...”
 I wanted to explore the profundity of spirituality in conjugal love, and God’s creative intention of marriage as taught through Scripture, the Catholic church and holy role models who have lived it out.
From the beginning of man and woman’s existence on earth, God blessed them and commanded them to be fruitful and multiply
. In Genesis 2:24, God’s word describes a man leaving his mother and father and holding fast to his wife, then “...the two shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”
 God made man and woman partners in life and allowed participation in creation of new life through the conjugal act. It may seem that this one flesh union is solely physical, however, the Lord Jesus Christ himself references this verse in his time on earth saying, “Man and wife are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate.”
 Christ points out the unbreakable union of their lives under God their creator. This unbreakable union is supported by the term to “hold-fast” from Genesis, which refers to faithfulness to a covenant.
 These main verses that the Catholic church bases her teaching on the purpose of married love: unity and procreation. The Catholic Catechism consolidates these saying, 
Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the 
person enter- appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and 
affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply 
personal unity, a unity that beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming 
one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in a 
definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility.
Because of the level of physical intimacy and sharing required by the conjugal act, which was creatively designed by God, it naturally creates a unitive bond between husband and wife. Sex physically requires a vulnerability and openness; a sharing of whole self that cannot be experienced in any other way. This unitive aspect cannot be separated from the procreative significance
. It is written in the Holy Bible that God commands man and wife to multiply, but He also has written it in the design of our human anatomy. The Church teaches that, “the conjugal act preserves in its fullness the sense of true mutual love and its ordination to man’s most lofty vocation of parenthood.”
 It goes further even teaching that, 
...an act of mutual love that prejudices the capacity to transmit 
life which God the Creator has inserted therein according to 
particular laws, is in contradiction with the design constitutive 
of marriage and with the will of the author of life.
There is also unity in the marital act by being sharers in the creative Wisdom of God, through bringing new life into the world. Without the comprehension of these two inseparable purposes that God designed sex to have, a couple robs themselves of the fullest potential of their married life and fulfillment of God’s will. Put beautifully in the document the Gaudium et Spes, the Church states,
By virtue of this sacrament, as spouses fulfill their conjugal and
family obligation, they are penetrated with the spirit of Christ, 
which suffuses their whole lives with faith, hope and charity. 
Thus they increasingly advance the perfection of their own 
personalities, as well as their mutual sanctification, and hence 
contribute jointly to the glory of God.
After learning God’s intentional purpose in the gift of conjugal love, we can also learn the important requirement of total self-giving love within the act. Husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church,
 and wives are called to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.
 This self-giving applies to the conjugal act, as well as in the love relationship. Physically, husband and wife generously share all of themselves and give not to receive, but to enrich the other with the gift of themselves.
 Each couple must therefore accept the other’s gift, and in acceptance, then there is also a gift. John Paul II uses the term “interpenetrate” to describe this mutual exchange of full self. He adds, “...finding of oneself in giving oneself becomes the source of a new giving of oneself.”
 If anything is held back, physically or even mentally or emotionally, it is not a true act of love. “Total personal self-giving, in which the whole person including the temporal dimension, is present: if the person were to withhold something or reserve the possibility of deciding otherwise in the future, by this very fact he or she would not be giving totally. 
The highest form of love is agape, or love that is selfless, sacrificial and unconditional; and therefore requires all of oneself. This total self-giving in an all encompassing, physical, emotional and spiritual way, is unique to the sacrament of marriage in the act of conjugal love.  “The interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love which is publicly affirmed as unique and exclusive, in order to live in complete fidelity to the plan of God the Creator,”
 is a witness of trinitarian love in time. There is no separation between spouses, not physical nor spiritual, and they become truly one flesh and “...where flesh is one, one is the spirit.”
 This is the depth which conjugal love was intended to have, which is completely opposite to the “use” of sex that our society instructs. 
Through offering one’s whole self to unite and procreate, God’s design fills us with joy and delight. A fruit of the conjugal act is the enjoyment and pleasure received through giving. St. Thomas Aquinas explained the fruit of enjoyment as this: “To enjoy implies a certain relation of the will to the last end, according as the will has something by way of last end. Now an end is possessed in two ways; perfectly and imperfectly. Perfectly, when it is possessed not only in intention but also in reality.”
 That is a mouthful of philosophical terms, but in my own interpretation, perfectly attained enjoyment comes from reality, not from intention;  true joy comes in the form of a gift rather than something that is sought after. It is difficult for us humans to distinguish our intentions of an act, when we know that we will find pleasure in doing it. However, we can take St. Thomas Aquinas’ description to mean that the deepest pleasures in the conjugal act come when the intention is to give and please the other. Another doctor of the church, St. Augustine wrote, “To enjoy is to adhere lovingly to something for its own sake."

Scripture tells us that God intends us to delight in each other in the way of conjugal love, it is part of his gift and creative design. Proverbs 5:19 says, “Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love.” On the other side of the spectrum, there are scrupulous beliefs that sex is naughty and dirty, but God deliberately created our bodies to be sexually attracted to and to pleasing to one another.  After all, there is no known function of the clitoris other than the female orgasm, which has no reproductive function.
 The Catholic Catechism states, “The Creator himself...established that in the generative function, spouses should experience pleasure and enjoyment of body and spirit.”
 This is contrast to lust which seeks pleasure apart from the purpose of sexual intimacy. 
From this inspired delight, we can draw even closer to our spouses, which leads us back to the original purpose. In the famous Song of Solomon, the lovers yearn and take so much joy in each other physically. It is clear that the Beloved (the bride) gives her whole body without reservation, even referring to her body as his, “Let my love come into his garden, let him taste its most exquisite fruits.”
 The husband rejoices in the beauty of his bride, “How delicious is your love, more delicious than wine! How fragrant your perfumes, more fragrant than all spices!” and he goes on, “I come into my garden, my sister, my promised bride, I pick my myrrh and balsam, I eat my honey and my honeycomb, I drink my wine and my milk,” and the chorus of others urges them forward in their love, “Eat, friends, and drink, and be drunk with love!”
 Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) of 2006 refers to Song of Songs in both its literal and allegorical meaning, stating that erotic love (eros) and self-donating love (agape) is shown there as the two halves of true love. Pope Benedict XVI pulls together both kinds of love by saying, 
Love is indeed “ecstasy”, not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, 
but rather as a journey, an ongoing exodus out of the closed 
inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and 
thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God
The topic of conjugal love is not really something discussed through lives of the saints because it is something so personal to the life of the married couple. However, married saints do exist! One recent state native to the United States is Saint Gianna Beretta Molla who passed in 1962 and was canonized in 2004. She was a wife, mother of five and doctor of pediatrics who was dedicated her family and vocation of helping others through medical work. Saint Gianna died giving birth to her 5th daughter Gianna Emanuela, when she refused to abort the baby after finding out she had fibroma in her uterus.
 Blessed John Paul II, remembered her at the Sunday Angelus of September 23, 1973 saying, “A young mother from the diocese of Milan, who, to give life to her daughter, sacrificed her own, with conscious immolation.”
 She was a woman successful in fulfilling God’s will for life in being a devoted wife and self-giving mother while also sustaining her vocation of medical work. We can also acknowledge her marriage as a source of strength in helping her to be the best possible version of herself that was so holy.
Beyond just the canonized saints of the Catholic church, I extended my examples to those holy couples in the whole Body of Christ. I think that these following pieces of advice are encompassing to conjugal love an all that it confirms of love. Peter Kreeft writes, “Sex is a sign of goodness of life. Every baby conceived is a sign that God has not given up on man. It is not a mere product of automatic nature, but a deliberate act of God. God makes a soul when we make a body.”
 This co-creation with God Almighty is something so unfathomably wonderful, that only a married couple gets to participate in. Another insightful quote is from Gary Thomas author of Sacred Marriage, “The maintenance of love requires a partnership with God- what you might describe as an ongoing act of revelation. We learn to look at these persons as sacred beings made in the image of God and through whom God wants to reveal himself to us.”
 Through the intimacy that God created us to have with our spouse, He teaches us more and more about love. Our relationship with our spouse is supposed to imitate Christ and the church.
 This physical and tangible love and selflessness allows us to learn and fall deeper in love with Christ. 
Before I did research about this paper, I think I was expecting the “rules and regulations” of the Catholic Church. I was almost searching for the logistical and tedious answers to conjugal love and what the Catechism teaches about it. Conjugal love is something that I am undeniably looking forward to, as an engaged woman, and also someone who has struggled with sexual immorality in the past. What I have found and been penetrated with (also through prayer in writing this) is that the logistics are definitely not what should be focused on. Paul in his First letter to the Corinthians spoke straight to me: “The married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. I say...not to lay restraint upon you, but to promote good order and secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.”
 Yes, this marital act is physical, but it is also equally and if not more spiritual.
 If God’s will in the center of intention of your marriage, God’s endless love will be manifested in the physical act of marriage. It is completely full of joy and pleasures, and is beautiful in that way, but so much more a means for husband and wife to become one heart and soul and attain human perfection.
 I asked a fellow Franciscan University student why the Church doesn’t teach more about sex and she responded something like, “The Church is a teacher of the heart, not of the muscles.” By teaching our sentient hearts and minds of God’s calling to married couples, His creative design and intention of our bodies will be made visible. 
In an even broader outlook, the act of conjugal love in marriage and the procreation of more beings who grow up knowing, loving and serving God, is a witness of love to everyone who experiences its fruits. Jesus commands us in the Great Commission to go make disciples, baptize, and teach them everything He has taught us.
 The fruit of marriage which is children are our arrows that we shoot off into the world to preach the Gospel and to live out God’s will in their own life; hence the cycle repeats. We get to glorify God in our bodies by fulfilling the purpose of unity and procreation, and imitating the constant, perfect, total love by God the Father and His Son Jesus and the most Holy Spirit. Marriage is God’s gift to man, the gift of a helper, a teammate in life to help us be the person He created us to be, a person to hold hands and run into the arms of Christ with, and a person to experience complete self-giving through the beautiful act of conjugal love. 

Lord I pray that whoever reads this, single or married will have a better understanding of your will and the role of Christian married couples in Your great kingdom. 

I love and adore you and thank you and praise you.
I am so grateful that you have called me to serve you through being the wife of Cameron John Chadwick.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Transforming seasons...

Being away from traditional California weather has made me appreciate the sunshine to the fullest, even to a spiritual-esque experience. I can close my eyes with an invisible warmth touching my skin and be SO thankful for such a magnificent thing- the sun. I don't think I've ever really thanked God for the sun, something pretty essential for our survival.

So thank you God, for sunshine.

Spring is also a whole new experience here; trees that are actually blooming, sprouting little tiny green leaves among their old winter brownness. These set of trees by the Egan building are blooming with white, weird smelling flowers, but they're gorgeous like something out of Alice in Wonderland. People are actually outside!! There are people here on the grass, soaking up sun, playing frisbee, walking and talking- something that didn't really occur since orientation week. I feel bad for spring transfers because they arrive and everyone is still in hibernation from the cold.

Spring is also a huge time of change. I can't really say I've had an "aha!" moment, but its more of a slow and constant change, like the world revolving. God is constantly, subtly turning the screw (me), into the cross (Christ). There is a beautiful transformation occurring in my soul, going through seasons and now in this beginning-of-spring revival of finding deeper roles as a future wife, as a sister, a woman of God and just as a human being on this earth. I am being rocked by my christian marriage class, learning the extent of God's constant revealing of himself through divine revelation (prayer/church/Word) and natural law (sunshine). I am being rocked by Cameron Chadwick and our simple but real battle with purity and bringing the physical purity to a deeper level and into the soul. Studying the Beatitudes in Matthew 5; what truly is a person who is poor in spirit, or clean-hearted, or a mourner? I am being rocked by this new ministry of mission we're both involved in called Dirty Vagabonds, a youth program for inner city kids that I am already falling in love with. I am being rocked from the creeping wedding date moving towards me. I am being rocked by new amazing friends and absolutely missing some that are at home. I am being rocked by social work classes that continue to shock me about what is going on in this country and how i wish we could go back and redo the 1930s. I am rocked that God is still pulling me by the heartstrings into the international mission field and flashing the faces of the sweet kids in Addis and Korah.

Oh and I got a job :) at another mexican restaurant ha called Mad Mex. Cheers.

Gosh, I just appreciate God so much. Just when I am blown away, I realize that I am only getting shadows of glimpses of Him. I have to constantly remind my flesh that He is what brings happiness, not the things of this world- as much as I will not deny my passion for sex or parties.

Everytime I fail, big or small, I am convicted of this icky guilt and reminded that nothing that is not-of-God will bring true joy, it only brings a temporary pleasure. I am reminded that Christ could be coming at any moment and at this moment I am not particularly ready for it. I am reminded that as a Christ-follower I have responsibility to not hinder others and to do all in my power, through the Holy Spirit to bring Christ to them. And honestly, there are moments every single day in which I fail in that. Therefore, I appreciate, with the deepest, fullest gratitude my Savior Jesus Christ. I love Him. He is the one who gently rocks my soul back to peace when my humanness is ADD-distracted with the world. He is the one who points to example after example of how my fullest-potential self could be living. He is the one who I see in Cameron's eyes when he tells me no. He is the one who makes me the most alive. Without Him i am not alive; I am dead.

There is change, there is the journey happening now, at this very moment, we are all journeying (whether on the right or wrong path, or skipping between the two). We have to all be aware that in every moment, God's glory is at stake. In every decision, as simple or complex as they may be, we either glorify God or betray Him. We have to all beg for the grace to will the good in the moment. In every moment, beg for the grace for God to lead you to the right _________.

Most Holy and precious God of all, 
Thank you so much for knowledge and wisdom, and today, I beg you for it. I beg you to enlighten me, to show me Your ways, to let me know the wisdom that was with you before any of us were. 

Lord thank you for all of my family and friends back home. God almighty I pray that your will be done on every single one of their lives. Show up, be present God and let them encounter you in a deeper way. 

I love you God and want more of You. Help me to fall deeper in love with You. Help me to shed my self and put on more of You.

In Jesus' holy name, Amen. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Hurricane warning...

My dad always teases me that I am a "hurricane", going wherever the wind takes me type thing, sweeping up everything around me, never staying in one place. On an honest note, I really haven't been in one single place for even a full year, since I was in high school. Now, that definitely has a negative connotation, but at the same time, I think it got me to some pretty amazing places, and now, with the wind propelling the "hurricane" being the Holy Spirit, I feel like it's a great thing. There are minor side effects that include frazzledness, sometimes flaky, and easily influenced.

Last semester, the hurricane took me through a new environment, trying to adapt to ultra-conservative, ultra-Catholic, rule abiding Steubenville, and also into a beautiful step in my relationship; engagement. It brought me to new friends, odd people, lost people and a deep sense in deeply appreciating my friends at home. It brought me back over break, caught up in wedding-talk, drowning (in a good way) in family and friends, and also waiting for the next obstacle to devour.

What's next? So I'm getting married...but that is not until July, and regardless of other opinion, I really feel like the bones and muscles of it are in place, just waiting for time to pass for the rest of "the body". It was extremely heart warming to come back to roommates in Ohio and to be with Pittsburgh friends and football players. Cameron and I already went on a retreat through one of his bible study groups called Athletes in Action; which was so filling and overflowing with new thoughts and friends. The focus was on discipleship and what it truly means to be a disciple.

Two simpler things that really shook me up, was one, the Lost Boys of Sudan documentary, and two, this movie called The Whistleblower (a new movie) about sex trafficking  in Bosnia. It may seem silly that it was two movies that have had the most influence thus far in the semester, but they completely have. It awakened my napping-library-going heart to what gave me so much passion in the past year. Not like I had forgotten, but it woke me up like a freezing bucket of water with a great sense of urgency. I have known that I was going to school to help others, but its like this feeling of yearning to have a hand or foot still involved.

This guy named Joe, who was one of Cam's professors last semester, was very involved in several missionary-based organizations over the past 15 years. He heard about my interest as a missionary and a social worker and came up with a handful of opportunities that matched exactly what I had been aiming to do. Did you know that Pittsburgh is the most highly diverse city of refugee immigrants in the US? There are currently 150 Haitian children at a church that Joe had worked with, there is a program for training and uniting teen and young adult refugees with bigger companies to hire them, there is the same type of program that outreaches to Honduras. Joe and his wife are very close with MY favorite professor here last year, and also friends with the parents of one of Cameron's closest Christian friends out here. We were finding so many connections, it is undeniable that the Spirit is working here somehow. I'm not sure what, but I know He is. Another suggestion Joe threw out was that Dusquense University has an awesome social work program and has very close missionary ties with Africa. The University is run by an congregation called the Spiritans (of the Catholic church).

The Spiritan Charism 

Drawing on the original intuitions and inspiration of its founders and on its lived tradition over the past 300 years, the Congregation of the Holy Spirit expresses its charism in its current Rule of Life:
The evangelization of the “poor” (cf. Lk 4:18) is our purpose.
In faithfulness to the intuitions of our Founders, to their experiences and to the living tradition of our Congregation, we give preference to an apostolate that takes us to:
  • those who have not yet heard the Gospel message or those who have scarcely heard it;
  • those oppressed and most disadvantaged, as a group or as individuals;
  • places where the Church has difficulty in finding workers.
We are dedicated to the Holy Spirit, author of all holiness and “source of the apostolic spirit”. We place ourselves under the protection of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, who was filled beyond measure by the same Spirit “with the fullness of holiness and apostolic zeal."

How cool is that?....Just saying. 
Definitely what I'm praying about...just asking for all of your prayers as well, as God continues to let this hurricane sweep through His kingdom and down the path He's made for me...
Dearest heavenly Father, 
You have put me on this amazing journey, only amazing because You have made it that way, and I am so thankful. You have made my life so full, abundant in love and grace. Father, I feel like You are trying to tell me something. I can feel You tugging at my heart again. What is it? How can I serve You Father? I pray that You would take away my selfishness and take the scales off my eyes so that I may see Your holy vision, not my imperfect human vision. Lord, make clear Your path, open the doors You intend for me and close the ones that You do not. Father send me Your spirit to guide and guard me, I depend on You Father to keep me alive; to keep me constantly growing. My deepest desire is to serve You, like Mary's fiat, Lord, let it be done according to Your word. I love you Lord, i give you all of me. Thank you for my amazing family, for my amazing future husband and all of those that you have networked and woven into my life. In Jesus' holy name, Amen. 
And for all of those across the world, may Your angels guard them against evil...

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

That Feeling again...

When I was in the Philippines, I remember the first day I was actually in the slums staying with the sisters. I remember one of them giving me a little tour around the block and visually experiencing the absolute poverty surrounding me and just walking around with a constant stream of love-tears pouring down my face. How incredibly unsettling that where I grew up, we ate more than 3 meals a day, think of pillows as necessities and care where we got our clothes from and how we look...I remember walking back and just sitting in the chapel for an hour or so and sobbing so hard and feeling like the most spoiled brat in the whole world. I remember asking my Father, "Why me?...Why did you give me all of this and them barely anything?...What can I do Father? How can I do anything when this sadness is spread so widely?" I remember feeling so absolutely overwhelmed that in this world, people struggle daily to survive. I felt like I had never suffered anything. I even assured my Father that if this was His nudging me to be a nun, I would do it- do anything to improve the lives of His children there. But I felt so dumb, so unhelpful. But this was the massive seed planted that has grown to be the direction toward which I am driving my whole life. God let me have the smallest taste of the compassion He feels for His children and how much His heart throbs to see them suffer also.

I experienced this feeling again, the other night with Cameron. We watched a movie called "God Grew Tired of Us" a documentary of the Lost Boys of Sudan.  First of all, if you have not seen this movie, it will become a valuable hour of your life to watch it (I posted it on my FB). This movie was so heart wrenching and I had like a video-reel in my mind of highlights from Manila and Ethiopia. I was instantly streaming tears the moment they showed clips of the boys in Kenya and Eastern Africa.

How had I forgotten so easily the people that my heart had hurt so much for? It was so easy for me to sink back into life, even if i was going to school with missionary intentions, to not be doing even the least (or maybe most) to help them; prayer.

There is a gorgeous photo on my desktop of a little girl from El Olam orphanage that I spent time at in Ethiopia, and I am reminded when I open my computer, but how quickly I just open a new window for Facebook and forget about it!! How deeply I cared for all of those kids, and how quickly I can just get on with my life and become obsessed with wedding planning and my own agenda. In the big picture, I can say that helping others is my focus, my social work major etc. But on a daily basis? Not really...maybe over the course of a semester.

I was so rocked by that movie, I was so convicted of the way I live and the lack of intentionality. Sure, direction is important, but it is the daily battle that is crucial. Maybe I will never know how much my prayers will truly effect this little girl on my desktop or how much God will listen when I beg for mercy on the lives on the Lost Boys. BUT ISN'T THAT WHERE FAITH COMES IN?

"Oh, you of little faith!" I can hear Jesus say in an echo...

I am so grateful for experiencing that gut-wrenching feeling again. And it was so much more than that this time. AND I got to experience it with my beloved. God sewed us even tighter together that night, knowing, without even a word how deep we had just felt His love and compassion and how He had just placed His desires into our souls. A little mysterious taste of His will, but the biggest drive to keep pushing in that direction.

I guess my convictions were just so strong before and being at school and newly engaged, I haven't felt that in a while...and that long time, in itself, is a conviction ha. It is also an awakening to realize that we are not really suffering, maybe in our own little ways, but not nearly as close as some of our brothers and sisters. We are blessed beyond what we can conceive and it is with those blessings that we are called to labor in God's harvest and love and care for His children, wherever that may be.

Glorious and compassionate Father, 
Your eyes can see what no human can see. I thank you so much for the glimpse that you have given me, and Lord I beg for your strength and Spirit to keep that the first thing past my eyes, every day. Father, it is overwhelming to think of all of those who belong to You who are suffering immensely, but you are a loving God. You love Your children; so much that You sent Your own son to die so that one day we can all be with You in the presence of your glory. Father convict my heart of my selfishness and let me suffer for it Lord. I don't want to be that way! My desires are Your desires Lord, but I need You SO much to do anything about them. Thank you for letting Cameron feel what I feel. You are amazing God for connecting us in such intimate, unique ways. Show us the path You have made for us. We want to please You lord and make You proud. I love You God and praise You for all Your creation. I ask in faith, in the name of Jesus, that You would be with each of the children in the orphanage Lord to protect them and bring them comfort that You have a plan and that they have a purpose in this life. Let them be loved Lord. I lift up to You the Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan and all of their families. Father, send Your most Holy Spirit to reside in their souls and bring them comfort and advocacy. Thank you for their strong hearts and testimony and example of perseverance and endurance and righteousness. You are good God, so good. I love you. Amen. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Oh hey 2012

Well i must say it has been a long long time since I have been on here. There have been many changes in my life since the last entry- changes of my heart, of my school, of my intention of attending a school, my relationship status (Cameron and I got engaged!) and changes in my relationship with the Lord.

I was recently convicted of writing again, even if no one ever sees it, just a record of the ways God has been moving in and around me. Having it all written and not just in my mind and soul makes it tangible, and sometimes breath taking to look back at what feels like "the beginning" and see all that He has done.

I feel like I owe it to Him to start from post-Ethiopia, pre-Franciscan...

So I was kind of a hermit this summer after Ethiopia, having gotten my world ROCKED and having learning so much then I think I will ever comprehend. Cameron, on the other hand, had had a scholarship for the previous 6 months or so to a school called Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh. The summer would end with a road trip across the country, first to visit my mission team in Wisconsin and Michigan, and then through Ohio to Pennsylvania. A few days before leaving, a guy we call Brother John cam over to talk with my family about Kevin's trip to Madrid. When he heard we were road tripping out to Pittsburgh and that I was undecided about school, he mentioned that Franciscan University of Steubenville was only a half hour away from Cameron's school and that we should just go check it out.

Taking his advice, and after countless memories traveling across the US, we stopped in early August at Franciscan. We wandered around campus and made it to the admissions office, hoping for a packet or folder of info about the school. I just so happened to end up in a meeting with the director of Admissions somehow (...all in the plan right Big Guy?), telling her about my recent travels and experiences. By the end of the meeting she said that the university would love to have me this fall (Fall 2011). She said that if I could get her my transcripts this week that she would admit me and find housing before the semester started in 2 weeks.

Honestly, I was not yet convinced that I would be attending there. I helped move Cameron in and we kept talking how insane it was and how amazing it would be if we both went to school 30 mins apart. I told my dad and he was pumped, and even called Kevin, who was in Europe and just so happened to be praying in front of Lourdes (considered a very holy and sacred place in the Catholic church). It was during the process of me getting accepted and finding housing in Ohio, I have no doubt that Kev's prayers were answered. The timing was so perfect, it became so clear that God had lined up the whole situation.

I flew home to San Diego, made some emails, packed and flew back out to Pittsburgh and moved in to on campus apartments, all within 2 weeks. Crazy...God crazy..

I went to school so fresh, so amazed at the path that I was on, so determined to learn and absorb the knowledge God wanted me to have. I ended up loving every single class last semester. I got to watch Cameron play football, which was amazing, but more importantly evangelize on the team. I've made some relationships with girls who I probably would've never found if God hadn't made me room with them ha. I've learned so much through a younger girl who went through so much struggle and finally ran back into the arms of Christ. I've learned to completely appreciate souther California weather. I appreciate the convenience of living close to family and friends. And more than EVER, I appreciate the gift of having Cameron so close, learning, struggling and adapting together and encouraging each other and being bound closer together by our Creator.

I have so much more to say, but for now, glory to God for getting me here. I am so excited for this next semester and this year!! I don't want it to be comfortable, I want to suffer and have fellowship with Christ and grow deeper into my faith and learn what it truly means to be a wife.

My God and Father in heaven,
Thank you God for the testimony you made and are making out of my life. It is amazing how you write straight with crooked lines. Teach me! I am so hungry for you! You have been so good to me, so full of generosity and blessing. Lord you have showered me with so much love. I pray that my mind would be open to knowledge and wisdom. Lord I have so much to learn and  I am craving it. I crave You. I crave intimacy with You God. I pray that every single day will be a new day and that every day Lord, that You would lead my day and that it would be glorifying to you. Humble me God. Humble me so that I may be in more awe of You. Help me to silence the world and not be distracted. I need you Lord. Thank you for sending your most holy Son to save us from hell. God you are so good and wonderful and all creation gives you praise. Thank you from the depths of my heart for Cameron John, for all of my family and friends. I love you Lord. I give my life to You. Amen.