Tag Archive | faith

Holiday

hqdefault

Alleluia! It is Easter Sunday 2017. I am very happy to have experienced the Triduum and Lent. I had a wonderful journey, full of challenges that ultimately helped me grow as an individual and better understand my mission in being a servant to others. Today’s Gospel from John describes the different reactions of the disciples to Jesus being gone from the tomb.  Jesus’s rising teaches us how to live our lives. His rising helps us understand that hope prevails through the losses and challenges. God does not abandon us.  He will strengthen us.

My secretary and my mother in law both wanted to know if M had an Easter basket. I got some strange looks when I admitted I didn’t make her an Easter basket.(I haven’t done so since she was in diapers.)  In bringing up M, I want her to understand how important my faith is in my life.  We are the only Catholics in our small household so we share our faith. We are in Mass weekly.  We take part in Reconciliation.  We took part in the Triduum. We’re not holiday-only Catholics who only go to church on Easter, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Mother’s Day. We are there every week; I like to attend daily Mass when time permits. I take part in rosaries, the Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration when I can. Church is important to me and therefore the focus of Easter.  I asked M about the meaning of Easter. She said it celebrates Jesus’s rising. She doesn’t ask to color eggs or request candy but it’s not a priority.  I liken Easter to New Year’s.  At midnight, as we came home from the Carnaval royalty competition, M announced Alleluia. I want her to know Easter is the big holiday in the church.

I don’t mind being questioned about my faith. Why do I believe?   Do I live what I believe? Am I truly upholding those principles and values? What do I gain from the readings and from church experiences? My faith has helped me in my mental health journey.  My faith helps me be disciplined. I am a flawed person.  My being in church consistently doesn’t make me better than others; I am open about my struggles with pettiness, resentment, and self-righteousness.  My faith has helped me move forward. Following Christ is not easy but I will continue to do so because He has given me so many gifts. He loves me. He is risen!  Alleluia!

Love as key to holiness

For Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday), my parish priest gave a homily about Christ’s Passion in the Gospel of Matthew. It was one of the shortest homilies he has ever given, approximately two minutes. He explained that Holy Week is not made holy by Jesus’s suffering but by his love and by the love we have for one another. It was poignant and important.

This Lent for me has involved my struggle with forgiveness, loving my enemies, loving myself, and fully expressing love for my child in the way she deserves. So often, dealing with other people or my own demons or as a parent, I get focused on all the sacrifices I make.  Given my self-righteous streak, I’m quick to say, “Look at all I’ve endured and done for myself, my child, and all these people.” I focus on the sacrifices.  Sacrificing for self and others is hard work; it is much more giving to sacrifice rather than be apathetic and walk away or to be angry and attack. Yet I lose sight of what motivates me to give of myself.

My best friend recently had her second child.  We were discussing how traumatic and horrific the birth experience can be. I know many women and families who were fortunate enough to have a positive birth; for the two of us, birth was painful, tiring, overwhelming, long, and difficult.  Because as mothers we love our children, we somewhat block out those bad memories.  Despite the 34 hours of labor and the two years she never slept through the night, M is my greatest love. The sacrifices involved in being her mother I would gladly do over again.

I have reflected often on the hard work it has taken to love and appreciate myself. It took years, effort, pain, and sacrifice. I want to love others in that same way.  I’m praying for more love in my heart so I can forgive my enemies. It’s easy to forgive my loved ones. I have to forgive those who have injured me. During Holy Week, I’m praying on and for love.

shutterstock_95824924-sacred-heart

An anthem

600x600

For Throwback Thursday, I revisited one of my favorite gospel songs, “Looking for you” by Kirk Franklin.  “Looking for you” went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Gospel charts in 2005. It samples the great Patrice Rushen song “Haven’t You Heard” which was also remade as a house music hit. The sample is a great backdrop for an uplifting song.

“Looking for you” gives honor to God for being present in dark hours. The song takes me back to my past experiences. I have undergone intense mental, emotional, and spiritual changes that reshaped my life for which I am grateful. This song takes me back to those times and the hope I feel in working with God and depending on Him for everything.

A few days ago, I was not in an optimal situation to be taking part in a job interview. I was nervous and I thought to myself that I would fail.  (This happens every single time I have a major job interview. I have had laryngitis each time I’ve interviewed for a leadership position. This week, I had my voice but my head was not where it should have been due to personal issues.) Yet I shine in those moments. I reach within and find resilience, strength, and clarity of purpose. I had to do some positive thinking. In all honesty, I literally put my hands together and I prayed.  I prayed for strength and guidance. I put myself in God’s hands (Giving it over to God) I was successful in that I was called back for a follow-up interview.

I feel encouraged. Hearing this song again makes me realize it’s a good anthem.  As I go through changes, I take on challenges to grow into the best version of myself.   I am looking for Him.  That is the key to my success.  I hope everyone has a song to guide you and to make you strong, happy, and positive.

The death and life of a friend

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21

For the fifth and final Sunday of Lent, the Gospel was about the raising of Lazarus.  Verse 21 in Chapter 11 of John reminds me of the losses I’ve faced, especially my friend Brett. His death was the beginning of a series of difficult moments in my life but also a sea change which made me truly commit to healing.  God was never absent in those moments.

When Brett’s health worsened, he was full of serenity and warmth. It was as if his best qualities were magnified in those final moments.  I was moved by his love and gratitude. The closer he got to death, the better and more holy he became.

It is difficult to accept you will lose someone to terminal illness. It is hard to understand God’s glory is present in those moments. On a personal level, I didn’t want to lose my friend. I didn’t want to lose someone who had been my comforter. A lot of people didn’t realize how unwell I was back then; Brett was ministering to me in my hours of need. I sat with him during his illness but it wasn’t enough to help him get past it.

His life and death have served as an example to me. Whenever I’m faced with a challenge, whether it is half-marathon training or my own health woes, I meditate on how Brett prepared to die. It’s hard not to say, “Lord, if you had been here, you could have spared him.” After all these years, the wound is deep. I am hurt I lost my friend the way I did. I am sad I lost a good person.

Lazarus’ death was one of the few times Jesus broke down in tears. He was a minister to the sick and the dying.  Yet he grieved for his friend. Raising Lazarus was both a gift he gave to Lazarus’ grieving sisters and the beginning of the end for Jesus himself.  The Pharisees gained more evidence in their case against Jesus; in challenging the status quo, Jesus was condemned to death. His death, like Lazarus, became a new beginning.

The raising of Lazarus is a foreshadowing of what is to come. As Lent winds down, we reflect on the journey to death, which we walk with loved ones but also our own journey to resurrection.

Jesus raises Lazarus to life - John 11:1-44

Giving it over

“Be still and know that I am God.”Psalm 46:10

It is one of my favorite verses and one of my favorite songs.  One morning, I sat in silence to speak to God from my heart. With my job search officially beginning, the question I’m pondering the most is one most working parents face. How do I strike a balance between moving on in my professional growth and being present for my child?  Unlike the adults in my life, my child is not excited about my search for a new challenge. It has actually caused her anxiety, sadness, and fear. She worries that this could be another challenge for us.

I want my next career move to enrich our lives. I know that idea may seem naive; as you move on in leadership and take on greater responsibilities, you take on more duties which take more time, energy, and thought. I want to be a good mom, to make time for my writing, deepen my faith life, and be physically fit.  Now I have to prioritize and rethink how my goals will be affected by a change in employment. It’s exciting and worrisome.

I’m giving it over to God. It is what we are called to do when the struggle is the greatest. As someone who worked to become an independent free thinker, relinquishing power and authority is a struggle. I spent so much of my life being passive; I still have room for growth. I have been blessed by trusting in God. My prayer is for God to guide me towards a new job that will be good for M and my family. I want to serve my purpose.

In silence, I notice what I usually don’t during my commute: the trees, the clouds, and the sky. These are beautiful signs of spring. I’m so busy running around that I’ve missed them most of the time. I’ve missed so much of what’s around me because of what’s happening within me. I want my next opportunity to allow me to enjoy more of these moments. I look forward to landing where I need to be.

23b5300d4a4b749469c13c3f61d25e1b