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To Be a Woman

When I see a person tripping on drugs in the streets, I think that used to be a student sitting in someone’s classroom, that used to be someone’s baby. That person came from someone’s womb and was placed in their mother’s gentle arms. Reflecting on that pierces my heart, but it keeps me grounded to their humanity. Too easily we look at humans in unfortunate situations, from conception to death, and try to see them as not human. Society tries to take the humanity out of the sufferer so they don’t have to suffer the guilt. If only we could just remember that every person is somebody’s baby. It reminds me of the dignity that we all have.

Speaking of being someone’s baby, can we just talk about moms for a second. I think mothers from all places and ages have been the biggest consolation since being here in the Bronx. I love being here and finally getting to meet the kids, but I would be lying if I said this mission is not one of the hardest things I’ve done. I find myself sitting in the 8th pew in the center just to have the best view of Mary at church. I find myself eager to answer a mother’s question at pick up time, even if I have to speak in my very broken spanish. I find myself drawn to a particular teacher’s classroom during down time just because her motherly presence and unspoken words make me feel emotionally safe. I find myself smiling as I watch my neighbor rocking her small boy in her warm embrace. Or watching that same momma calm her husband down after the boys pinched his last nerve. I see the kids holding their mom’s hand as they walk down the block and I just feel safer. I find myself leaning into the motherly love my roommates give even though they’ve never bore their own. There is something about motherly love that just hits different. It makes you feel at home in the most uncomfortable places. They say you never feel like an adult until you lose your mother, and I see why they say that. Being in the presence of mom makes you feel like you never have to grow up. It roots you in that child-like ambition. It takes away the overwhelming fears. It makes you realize you have nothing to lose. She’s the one you’d bite the bullet for.. She empowers you to go out, but you always have a place back home  in her heart. Mom’s have this way of making us feel emotionally safe. They break us down to our most authentic feelings. 

Maybe you don’t have an earthly mom like that, but I promise you have one who is reigning in heaven. (Psst.. it’s Mary). God does not leave us lacking. After all, the love of a mother is essential to human flourishing. From the very beginning mothers suffer for their kids and will lay down their life for their babies sake. Yet our world hates motherhood. The world says it’ll destroy your body, break your bank, ruin your career, and you’ll be miserable. They crush everything it means to be a woman by making power, success, and anatomy the defining features of what it means to be female. And unapologetically I won’t stand for that. Because to merely degrade women into people capable of being CEOs or having breasts or a vagina, is insulting. If that’s the case then anyone can be a woman. Women are more than that. You can take a woman’s ability to have children, but you can’t remove her motherly nature. Only momma’s can grow a baby in their womb, only momma’s can understand the pain of infertility, or the insecurity of not feeling ready to have a baby. Only momma’s can understand the pain of miscarriage, or the pain of feeling like your only option is abortion. Only a mother knows what it’s like to nurture every child as if it were their own. We all know the feeling of having a woman in our lives that knows how to peel back the layers, press into our emotions, and love us unconditionally. There are no perfect words to describe it, but if I could perfectly describe the feminine genius; anatomy, and success would not even scrape the surface of its depths. You’re far more than a body with a title, you’re a being we all need. It’s your feminine love, not your submission to lust.So to all you women out there. Thank you! Thank you for your presence. Thank you for being with us in the storm. Thank you for helping us realize it’ll all be okay.

To a great extent the level of any civilization is the level of its womanhood. When a man loves a woman, he has to become worthy of her. The higher her virtue, the more noble her character, the more devoted she is to truth, justice, goodness, the more a man has to aspire to be worthy of her. The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women.”

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Nothing in Common with You

Trinidad March 2020

We are all probably familiar with the story of the woman at the well. But just in case ““There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.””

‭‭John‬ ‭4:7-10‬ 

Maybe you’ve done bible studies with that passage and broken apart the symbolism, or maybe you haven’t. Either way today I want you to focus on verse 9, “The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.”

‭‭As I was sitting here praying about the racism issues we face all around the world this verse came to mind. Some of you may want to just stop reading at this point, you’re tired of hearing it, but I encourage you to press on. 

For those of you who don’t know I am in my last week of student teaching at a high school in Omaha. This school is full of amazing students that I love wholeheartedly. Of those 2,000 + students about 60-70% are black. Growing up I went to a school that was probably 90% white. Though this high school is much different than my past experience I went in enthusiastic about it. Deep down though I had fears. What if I say something that comes across the wrong way? What if my lack of understanding gets in the way? 

Neither of those things happened, but I did find both myself and my students had underlying biases and stereotypes that we believed about ourselves and each other. I’ve had students say to me that if I ever got yelled at in school I’d probably cry because that’s what little white girls do, they ain’t  ‘tough’. 

Or when I taught them about melanin (instead of doing the basics for evolution and genetics), both the students and I learned so much about skin tone and it brought up a lot of conversations. I remember at one point during the unit I caught myself saying fair skinned instead of light skinned, and the students never said anything, but I hated that I said it and actually chose to correct myself for it. I’ve learned the best thing I can do is acknowledge these little things (assumptions or stereotypes) and have a conversation. It doesn’t make me racist if I have these underlying biases, it’s racist to feed into them and act on it. And it’s not doing anyone a favor if we don’t get them out of our heads once we find them. 

Doesn’t matter how nice of a person you are, if you’ve been exposed to society you have it in your depths. It’s like sun spots from the sun, we all have them even if you can’t see them. But what does it take to overcome these underlying beliefs we all have? 

It takes sharing your life with others. Read all the books you want, but until you acknowledge we are all humans and not little gold fish that you can read up on to learn how to care for you are never going to quite understand. Immerse yourself into a culture different then your own. Not so you can post about it on the Instagram or look good, but to have your heart touched in a way it hasn’t been touched before. Set yourself free to love more deeply. Because what that woman encountered at the well was so much more than the kindness of a Jew. She encountered the face of God Himself. And she was deeply moved by this, and stricken by His simple humanity. Totally stricken by the fact that he looked right past the woman everyone else saw, and gazed directly at her true identity. Looking at her as though he was looking in a mirror. Pointing out the fact she had five husbands was not to shame her, but rather to say, “Yes woman, I know what you’re ashamed of, but I still choose you.”

His look says I know who you think you are, but trust me I know who you really are. You are mine. It is you that I chose to share life with. Through this moment more than just water was shared. And I feel like this Gospel moment sums up my semester. Teachers in the building and even friends warned me that I’d probably be cursed at, see a fight, and that it was going to be tough. Those people were wrong and the only tough part is when a student doesn’t understand how much I love them, or the toughest thing will probably be leaving. I’ve shared my life with these students, they know that I go home and tell my mom how much they mean to me and how much she loves them too. They know I’m willing to talk about the tough things with an open heart. They know I’ll never know what it’s like to experience some of the things they have experienced. They also know despite what they believed previously that I’m not all that different from them. One day they decided to teach me about the process of getting dreads, and the next laughed about me and my cowgirl boots and how I shouldn’t wear them in the Bronx. They taught me that it’s disrespectful to use someone’s full gov (full name). And that I’m always gonna be just “Miss” to most of them, not Miss Olson. And I’m okay with that. And I’m proud to say my favorite kiddos in the world call me “Miss”. We spent several weeks learning about the biology behind skin color and the importance of learning it so that we can see the beautiful reasons why we are so different yet still the same in so many ways. I’ve noticed this growth in not only myself but in my kiddos as well. The first day we brought up melanin a few students made some border line comments. And I noticed quickly how they started comparing themselves saying things like “I’m black, but not that black” or “you are too light to be black bro.” I also noticed that none of them had any interest in careers and science and a lot of them believed the lie that science is a white people thing to study. 

But it was so cool to see their reactions to the scientific work of people they could identify with. I also loved seeing their answers on the test when I asked, “what is one interesting thing you learned?”

I got a ton of different answers, but many of them said that they found it so amazing how our bodies evolved different skin tones in order to survive in different geographic regions. They thought it was so cool that our bodies could do these things and then pass it down through generations. They were fascinated by the beautiful truth about the goodness of their bodies. 

My point is this world is lacking love, and it is deeply affecting our little ones. It affects what they believe about themselves, what they are capable of, and who they believe they are supposed to be. It affects the way they respond to others, it makes them have assumptions about what others think of them, and how they value themselves. I pray that you be part of the change. That you chose to imitate Christ. That YOU CHOOSE to go out of your way to not just learn, but experience. I pray that in a world full of hate, you chose to love. I forget what saint said it but in places where there is no love to be found, put love in it. We must stop choosing sides, and start choosing love. We must acknowledge that it’s real and that we have a bias, and do something about it. And the best thing you can do is love. Live life fully with others. Will their good. Fall in love with the beauty of Christ radiance that shines forth from the heart of every human soul.

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Outweighed

Fun fact about me is I never weigh myself. Yes I get weighed at the doctors office, but it’s in kg and I just don’t pay attention to what it says anyways. Why am I telling you this? Because you my friend are more than just numbers on a scale. I quit weighing myself because I got tired of feeling confident only to be insulted by the numbers. I did the same thing with pant sizes, I stopped comparing myself to the sizes I could fit into in high school, and chose to embrace the pants that fit. Or when I’m running for fun I stopped measuring the distance and time. I did this because I wanted to be free of depending upon a number to be happy.

Now maybe the size of your jeans has never mattered to you, nor the numbers on the scale, or how fast you could run but I’m sure there’s a number you are obsessed with. There’s some number that you are constantly measuring and comparing yourself to. Maybe it’s the money in your bank account, the amount of likes she got on her post, the followers, the views, the overwhelming odds, the grades. Or maybe it’s a number you didn’t even notice you were tracking, a number that is not exact, but you can make a rough estimate. Like the number of times you’ve been hurt by someone, how many times you’ve fallen into the same sin, or the number of times you’ve been left behind. There  is a number in your life that you let speak a little too loudly. A number that you have let identify you. A number that you let label you as unlovable, stupid, fat, ugly, unwanted, annoying. 

My friends you were made for so much more than that. You were made in the image of likeness of God. And you can not put a number on a creation that is made in the image of likeness of God. You can’t put a number on a soul that the Lord Himself died for. So I want you to take that number to prayer. And say in the name of Jesus this number does not define me. This number is no longer going to weigh me down, wager in on my decisions, and get in the way of being the Saint  I am called to be. Because there’s is no number out there that is not outweighed by the love and mercy of God.

Whether it’s the number on the scale or the number of times you’ve made the same mistake, turn away and look to Him. Sinning repeatedly or stuffing your face with doughnuts are not good, but we do not need to let that number prevent us from fully trusting in Christ and receiving what He has in store. His heart aches at just the thought of his beloved children refusing to run towards Heaven because they have let a number label them.

He says “Don’t you trust me? You were made for so much more than this. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice you slip out the back? You are more than just a number to me”

Are you going to let a number stop you from being numbered among the Saints in Heaven. The Lord has promised you joy not only in the next life, but also in this life, even amongst the suffering and pain.Joy is to be found, and there’s no time like the present to seek it. Let go of the numbers and let yourself be outweighed by His overabundant love and mercy. Because you my friend are worth it.

P.S. Thanks for reading first off. Secondly sorry it’s kind of brief, but I have some bolder blogs in the making plus a book. So cats out of the bag I am working on book number two! Any guesses as to what it’s about?

If you haven’t checked out my first book check out the link below

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To be His Sheep

Honestly just chose this photo because I thought you would click the link if the photo was less boring haha.

This past Sunday was Good Shepherd Sunday and it has me thinking a lot about the relationship between the Shepherd and His flock. Many of the Gospel readings this week have been centered around this theme of Jesus being the shepherd and we are the flock. To give you a snippet of what’s been on my mind I’m going to give a brief summary of the super awesome homily my priest, Fr. Chuck, gave this past Sunday.

My home parish priest was a Nebraska farm boy, so he knows quite a bit about sheep, and he’s a priest so obviously he knows a lot about the theology behind this Gospel. He talked about how during the time of the Jews, the sheep were kept in one common holding pen, with stone walls around it and how the Shepherds would sleep at the gate.And the sheep knew their shepherd by the sound of his voice. Don’t belive me? Look it up. Fr. Chuck also said that if a sheep falls on its back it will suffocate. So that’s why the shepherd’s staff has a hook or what we call a crozier at the end of it. Just like the staff of a pope or bishop, and hold onto that because I’m going ot come back to it . Any ways the shepherd would use the crozier to flip the sheep back over. It made me think how sometimes we suffocate in our own sin and Jesus comes and flips us back over. He flips us over because He loves us so dearly. 

Fr. Chuck described his own experience with catching sheep to be sheered and how the sheep would run, but as soon as you got ahold of them they were calm, they didn’t fight it. And then they would bring the sheep over to be sheered and it would lay their calmly. That’s where we get the saying like a lamb before its shearers.It amazes me how Jesus used this perfect analogy to describe His love for us. Sometimes in life we are scared. We do not know what lies ahead, but the good Lord scoops us up into His bosom, and carries us off to the shearers. Because amidst our thick wool, that has been blemished by sin, He sees us, and knows who we are. He calls us by name, we recognize His voice and we know we are His. He sheers away the wool and the rubbish we have dragged, and looks upon us with tender love and compassion. Then he releases us back into the flock of the faithful community, the Church. 

At the gate post He sleeps and He will lay down His life again and again for the salvation of His flock. Which brings me back to the crozier on the staff of the Pope and Bishops. These are the shepherds He has called to care for His flock. It says it very clearly in the Gospel. Remember? Jesus came to his disciple Peter, His “rock” on which He wanted to build His Church, and tells him tend my Sheep. This role was passed down through apostolic succession and rests in the hands of the Bishops and Pope who have authority of the priests who work as one to protect the flock, and nurture and cleanse them with scripture and the sacraments. They are the ones who sleep at the gate. They are the front of the line! That is why it is so important to pray for them. The devil can climb over the gate and try to steal a few, but he knows he can have the whole flock if he takes down the shepherds. That is why are priests are under constant spiritual battle. I think even more so during times like these, so please keep them in your prayers, and thank God for their beautiful sacrifice. And to all my priest Friends who read this , THANK YOU for all that you do, you have served as a spiritual Father to me and impacted my life and others in countless ways.You are always in my prayers and I mean that sincerely!

Back to the sheep though. Another common practice that was used for run away sheep was to break their legs, and carry them over your shoulders. This seems cruel, but it was what was best for the sheep. A run away sheep is a dead sheep. I firmly belive Jesus does this to us as well. I experienced this in my own conversion, and even though it was hard, and painful, the Good Shepherd carried me. I was the run away, and he broke my legs and carried me intimately close to Him. He did not act out of rage or anger, but rather out of a deep unsurpassable heart of compassion. I think people often overlook or under appreciate Jesus’s words when He describes us as His flock, and uses this analogy to describe a beyond awesome relationship. Seriously, think about it, Jesus was the son of a carpenter, He never tended sheep in His life. But His knowledge of shepherding runs deep, and his understanding of the exact words we truly need to hear, even today, illustrate fully that Jesus is Lord. The one true Messiah, the all knowing, powerful God. The One who has beckoned our hearts. The One whom we should be following whole heartedly. The One who laid down His life for His flock, so that they could have everlasting life. He deserves all of our love, praise and worship. 

Yet so often we fall short of that, we stray away. We think “I’m just one in a billion sheep”. But to Him you are so much more. When you stray He knows it, when you cry out amongst the crowd He hears it, when you have blemishes He cleanses you, when you’re broken He heals, and if you’re pride is too big He will break it, for nothing shall separate us from the love of the Father. He is the Good Shepherd. He knows it all, sees over all and endures every pain. He knows that when they strike the shepherd the flock will scatter. His flock scattered in His darkest hour, and scattered when Luther nailed the 95 thesis to His door, and when bombs were dropped, scandals were revealed, and when air planes crashed through towers, and when a virus shut down the whole world. The sheep scattered. They ran into places of refuge, they cried, they mourned, and Jesus came to them, even with doors locked. He came into their midst and He said “Peace be with You” (John 20:19). The sheep rejoiced at the sound of His voice. For sheep have no home, they are home in the presence of their shepherd. So they rejoice because they know they are home, and that they are going to be okay. They thought everything was lost when they lost their shepherd, but He rose up from the grave, and conquered death for the salvation of His people. And they do not worry about the future, not all, because their one simple task is to follow and to trust that He is indeed the Good Shepherd.

“The Lord is my shepherd there is nothing I shall want”

So be at peace my sweet beloved child. The World may have broken your heart, but they have crucified me. And remember you do not belong to the world, you belong to me. If you thirst for running waters, I will lead you there. If you long for greener pastures, I will lead you there. The earth under your feet has no hold on you and nothing that sprouts up from it shall have govern over you. For indeed you shall see greener pastures, and water that looks pure. But sheep do not follow the world, they follow the shepherd because he knows what is good for them. Wise are the sheep who do not follow other sheep, but rather the shepherd himself, for these sheep will not be scattered. 

Do not forget how deeply He loves you. Not because of what you do, but because of who you are. He looks upon you with great delight, and takes notice to your every move. Even though you may feel broken right now or lost, He is with you. And if you are feeling extra broken, He’s carrying you through. Find rest upon His shoulders, and let your heart be consoled by the sound of His heart beating only inches from yours. And if you’re feeling like a failure in the eyes of the world, remember He never asked for anything more, than to be His sheep.

Much love to you all, let the Holy Spirit rest upon you and your household

~Mikayla

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Come Fill My Joy

I was really struggling to come up with something heartfelt to write to you all about without trying to cut into my own personal secret garden of my prayer life. These past week has been pretty simple, lots of school work, prayer time, and fellowship with my roommates. I’ve really been trying to keep my heart at peace and just enjoy this time of simplicity and not much to do times. Never have I had the time to eat every meal with my roommates, and go on walks, and call people, so I’ve really started to enjoy it despite the circumstances and the huge itch I have to travel.

I’ve also had a lot of time to read some scripture, and I ‘ve recently read the wedding feast of Cana, and John 21 where our resurrected Lord appears to the disciples and feeds them fish. What stuck out to me is how the Lord not only provided for a lack thereof but He provided it in an overabundance so that their joy might be complete. Like who needs 153 fish, or 150 gallons of wine. Nobody, but God loves you that much. No, He’s not saying get wasted, or be fat, but rather be joyful. And I think God provided a great example of that this week, and it really stuck with me. 

Earlier this week a buddy of mine from NYC face timed me, and his brother was with him. They were outside getting some fresh air (and YES still minding their social distance, so hop off.) His brother’s name is Paul, and Paul has autism, so all of this chaos has messed up his routine, and canceled a lot of his plans, yet Paul was the most joyful face I had seen in a long time. This man was just so happy to be outside walking on Staten Island’s beautiful boardwalk, listening to his music on his CD player, not a care in the world. He doesn’t understand this corona virus or why he can not go do the normal things he does, and why there are all these rules that were not there before, and I’m sure he’s had his moments, but he doesn’t let it ruin his day. He dusts it off and moves forward with the smile that all of NYC needs to see (from the comfort of home of course) because a smile like that is contagious. 

I know a lot of you out there are frustrated, sad, bored, annoyed, ready to just break free, but Jesus has so much He wants to give you right now. Right in this very moment, but you are far too focused on the big change, we want the doors to swing wide open, but there’s a reason that God has us in this place right now. Do I know why? No. But do I trust him anyway? Absolutely. We need to be like my buddy Paul, and even though we don’t understand, we have to keep seeking that joy. We have to trust that when someone tells us to quarantine it’s for our own good. And even though we are not always going to get along with those we are living with, and our temper might get the best of us, we are going to forgive, and love others unconditionally.  Live simple, stay hopeful, worry less.

Yeah, I’ve had little quarrels with my roommate for the first time ever, and I really want to go mass, but none of this is worth dumping out my 150 gallons of joy and saying screw it. And if I didn’t bring this point home last week maybe this week, I will….. God has not abandoned you!!

Also, this whole be joyful, forgive, and love unconditionally, is not just a stupid corona thing, it’s an EVERYDAY THING!! And my biggest prayer is that God will give you all the grace to do just that. So we can fulfill the greatest commandment, and be one with Him. Our eyes will be open and we will realize that God is closer to us then we could’ve ever imagined.

So keep looking for God in the little things. Become childlike, and do not leave any stone unturned. Keep on smiling y’all.

Also please email me, text me, call me, and tell me the joy that God has been putting in your life. Who knows maybe it’ll make the blog. But even if it doesn’t I just want y’all to know that everything you guys share with me from your hearts really helps me to know Christ more, and helps me to help others to know Christ….. So I encourage y’all to keep sharing, not only with me but with the world. Tell them the good news, the son of God has risen from the dead……. 

“Be the joy you want to see in the world”

On a final note….Also please, please, please pray for political and religious leaders everywhere. Praying does so much more than complaining, 100% guaranteed. They are under constant stress and criticism, and they don’t need your criticism. Everyone wants to be a critic, but nobody wants to give them the compassion they need. They are human, they aren’t perfect, but they are trying their best. Everyone is trying to back seat drive, but really I don’t think anyone wants to be the one driving. It’s a lot of responsibility, a lot of backlash, and it’s not fun, but choices still need to be made. So pray for them, and be compassionate. Love you all and God bless.

“It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

C.S. Lewis
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Ignorance is Bliss

Imagine this. There’s a giant rolling stone, and it’s going to smash millions of people. The people do not see it coming, and by the time they do, it will be too late. You have been told, and are 100% certain that if you can spread the word, and get everyone to move out of the path of destruction, then everyone can be saved. But you decide that it’s much to difficult and nobody is going to listen to you because they can not see the rolling stone. So instead you spend all your time building a giant contraption to stop the rolling stone. Meanwhile, everyone else just keeps on doing whatever makes them happy, and they dance along the path of destruction without a care in the world. Then the big rolling stone comes crashing in, and then boom, your contraption stops it. Everyone is so grateful for you, you saved them. You allowed them to remain where they were within the comfort of their homes, they were not inconvenienced by you ever trying to convince them to believe you. No, you just did your thing, and they did theirs. Wow, what a hero. Then boom your contraption breaks, the stone rolls, and everyone dies. They could’ve been saved, but they weren’t and now it’s too late.

Sad story, but this folks is reality. We live in a world, where there are people who know the absolute Gospel truth but refuse to share it. They rather be loved by the world. They want to be the hero, they want to be the god who stops the whole dang world from turning and somehow saves us all. There are people out there who see God, but refuse to tell anyone, because why would anyone believe in some God that not everyone sees? 

So what do they do? They start making bandages because ignorance is bliss, but eventually the wounds become so big you can’t cover it. I mean take a look around everyone wants to be happy, and so many people claim to have the answer. Oh, you got pregnant at 16? Well here have an abortion. Oh, you’re sad about it now, sorry but could you move along you’re scaring our other patients? Oh, you want to be with your mistress? Here file for divorce, I’m sure your wife won’t mind. Oh, you want to have sex but never have kids? Here’s some medicine. Oh, it failed again, oh well here have an abortion. Quit having sex? No…. pshhh… how could you be chaste and happy? Ha, have all the sex you want. Oh, you feel like you don’t matter, here have this 18 pack, don’t let yourself run sober. Oh, you want to feel loved, well show a little more and don’t be so shy. Oh, he mistreats you? Here’s a book about how to be better in bed. Watch this porn, you’ll feel better. Oh, you want to do this as part of your satanic ritual? Yeah, let’s just make late-term abortion legal, ha freedom of expression am I right? Do what you want, be who you want, even if it comes at the cost of someone else’s freedom and joy. And research, Nah, rest at ease, our media has got your back, they’ll tell you all the truth you need to know. This what our world tries to tell us.

It’s sick, but it’s reality. People in this world trust anything and anyone to make them happy, but nobody wants to do the real work to solve the problem. We figure what they don’t know can’t hurt them. If they are ignorant they can live happily with all the money and bandages the world has to offer. If they stay ignorant, they don’t have to know the truth about the consequences of their actions. We can just keep the warnings in fine print. We don’t want to scare them, we just want them to be happy. Ignorance means they can’t blame us when they get cancer from the medicine we gave them, and they can’t blame us when things go wrong. If they remain ignorant they don’t ever have to know that they are being used. They will never have to know that there’s a God who loves them, who made them for so much more than this. They will never know their true worth, so they will just grow numb to the pain. Then bam their dead and gone, and we all have to face God. The God who loved them.  Then what? Spoiler alert, it’s too late to run to Mars at this point. These are His beloved children and you have kept them in the dark. You refused to be a light to the world, and have allowed many souls to be handed over to evil.

We are called to be a light to the world. We cannot stop people from dying, and perfect happiness is not obtainable in this world. For some even if you tell them the truth they are going to quite literally spit in your face. The world will hate you, but to be a true disciple we are called to deny ourselves and take up our cross and follow Him. We need to rip off these band-aids of today’s society and let God heal our gaping wounds. There is so much evil going on in this world and it becomes completely blanketed by our rummaging for worldly pleasure and happiness. Don’t believe me, look up some up the sick satanic rituals out there (beware though, that its disgusting, and not for the faint of heart to read). But seriously though, do not be selfish. Don’t try to be a hero, because this World already has one and His name is Jesus Christ. But go ahead and spread the message, they will loathe you, but shall not die. For Christ has promised eternal life for all who believe in His name. Keep in mind also that He has warned if you deny him before others, He will deny you before His heavenly Father. 

Jesus loves you, God bless. 

P.S Also please read Isaiah 43, the whole chapter!

When you pass through waters, I will be with you; through rivers, you shall not be swept away. When you walk through fire, you shall not be burned, nor will flames consume you. For I, the LORD, am your God, the Holy One of Israel, your savior.

Isaiah 43:2-3
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My Brother’s Keeper

11 years ago as of the 17th, I would have first held my little brother in my arms for the first time. It was my 3rd sibling I had welcomed into the world, but my first brother, and I was much older so it was very memorable. I remember standing at the end of the hall waiting for them to bring him out of the OR. Finally, my dad came down the hall beaming with joy with the sweetest most precious baby I’d ever laid eyes on. My dad looked at me and said here hold him, and looking down at the tile floor and back at him I was terrified, like no way can you just trust a 10-year-old girl to hold something so fragile. But I held him, and instantly fell in love. Only moments ago he was in my mother’s womb, and now he was lying in my arms and from that day forth I was my brother’s keeper. I realized not only did my earthy father trust me to hold him and protect him, but so did my heavenly father.

But today the scariest thing is not the hard tile floor beneath him, it’s what lies beyond my control. My brother has outgrown my arms, but he has not outgrown my heart, and I still desire the very best for him, but I cannot protect him from this world. It breaks my heart to think he’s now at the average age of when a boy views pornography for the first time. 

Pornography is a sick thing that sucks the life out of so many of our brothers and sisters in Christ. The statistics are scary……

(conquerseries.com)

Our overly sexualized culture is breaking apart families and tearing apart what it means to be human. As Pope John Paul II says, it’s not that porn shows too much, it’s that it shows far too little. This world tells us that our bodies are the only thing we have to offer, but that is so far from the truth. We are to be loved body and soul, and we are so much more than the desires of our flesh. Pornography objectifies human beings, it takes someone made in the image and likeness of God and completely destroys it. Yet we think since it happens behind closed doors that it does not affect us, but that is such a lie. Just look at the standard women have for how they need to dress and act to feel loved, look at how commercials sell everything with sex, and how there’s such negativity wrapped around sex that it’s seen as something scandalous rather than something true, good, and beautiful. I could go on and on about why porn is evil, and how much it destroys our humanity, but I think we know that. I think most of us have seen with our own two eyes the effect porn has on us. But what we need to know is there is hope. We are not called to be slaves to despair, but rather children of God.

First, start praying that we can overcome our shame and our pride, and with humble hearts return to the Father. Let’s stop pretending we don’t see it. Let us be our brother’s keeper, let’s let the whole world know they are not alone. We are forgiven, and we have nothing left to boast, but the cross of our savior. Let us speak about our actions. Ladies, let’s call men higher, call them to the Lord, with our modesty we speak truth about the goodness and sacredness of the body. Temptation will always come knock and it will knock hard. The devil is prowling, but we are NOT alone. Together we will hold on to what we were made for, and strive to give Christ like love every single day. We will frequent the sacrament (especially confession and the Eucharist). We will cling to the rosary, and scourge the devil through our trust in the Blessed Mother’s intercession. No matter how many times we fall and mess up, we will keep on fighting.

“For God did not call us to impurity, but to Holiness”

1 Thessalonians 4:7

Are you going to answer that call?

If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your sibling, for your future spouse, and for your future children. Do it for Christ who lives in them.

So to all my Brother’s in Christ (in particular my little hero back home),

I’m praying for you always. If you fall I hope you get right back and up and remember whose son you are. You belong to the one true King. And with every lady you see I hope you remember she is a beloved daughter of God, she’s a princess, treat her as such. I hope you remember you are never alone and I hope you remember you can always find Christ in the church, talk to your priest, find an accountability partner. Pray for the porn industry, and for the conversion of souls and remember this…

“”If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea”

Matthew 18:6

Basically Jesus wants to kick the devil’s butt, so don’t get in the way of that or you’ll go down with him. Keep up the good fight and remember God loves you recklessly. There’s a lot of doubt in my heart right now that this is even going to strike a single person’s heart, but I am going to go against that doubt and trust that Jesus has something in store. The devil is probably telling you no to give up and not even bother fighting this fight. I know he’s telling me that right now, but I also know I don’t belong to him I belong to God. And when I think about my brother and when I first held him in my arms, I remember this fight is worth fighting, because I am called to be my brother’s keeper, and so are you. I will not let the purity of my brothers and sisters be handed over to Satan when they were made for a Love so much greater. A love so great that in order to receive it we must completely empty ourselves of our worldly desires, and come to Him with arms wide open. He must increase, I must decrease.

Thank you so much for reading, and God bless!

Also would love your feedback, comments, and questions.

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Too Busy to Care

300 years from now what will our descendants think? They will have so much information on us, it’s truly endless. But when they look back at what remains will they be able to explain what they find. Will it actually make sense? When they find more black babies were aborted than born each year in America, while we meanwhile claimed to be the generation that fights for equality. What will they conclude? Will they wonder why we argued over the best way to protect our soldiers while we completely ignored that there are more of them dying out on the home front from suicide than on the battlefield itself? What will they conclude from a society that clearly wants liberty and justice for all, yet is so divided on what that looks like? What will they say about those who screamed women’s rights, but only for the women who want to be exactly like men? Will they be able to piece together what led to the American dream to becoming a bunch of broken homes? Will they look at our posts and see our smiling faces and think we had it all? Will they wonder why billionaires died of drug overdoses? 

Who will be the heroes of our time? Who will be the brave who stood up for what’s right? I hope to God our descendants are not like the media of today who overlook who the true heroes of this generation are. Maybe it’s because they stand with God, or because they actually stand for what this country was founded on…. But the heroes of this era are hundreds of thousands of people who march for the respect and dignity of ALL human life, and the millions of others who stand behind them. There I said it. And to all of you out there fighting the fight, I love you. I know it’s hard to be hated, but I promise Heaven is worth it.

I’m not done though…..

Every story seems to focus on the villains and the heroes, but I’d like to take a moment to talk about the bystanders. The ones who were too busy to choose what side they were on so the world chose for them. The ones who walked right over the hopeless every single day, without an ounce of themselves to give. And what’s their overwhelmingly, disgusting excuse? “I’m too busy” 

Busy doing what?

They’re all in a rush to get nowhere, make another dollar, get another adrenaline rush, get another follow, another like, or earn some shiny gold medal. And you do all this for what? So you can go home and have sex with a screen instead of your spouse, so you can brag about your daughter on Facebook while she sits unknown to you in the other room crying because she feels like she’s never enough, so you can go on another vacation and scroll through your phones, or maybe cry alone in the night because you’ve come to realize that the rush of this world does nothing, but take. Then when it all fails you scream, “why, God? Why?” 

Then He looks upon with mercy and says, “where have you been? Don’t you know that I love you?”

To which one might look back and realize “I guess I was lost. I was too busy to notice the little graces, the good morning texts, the friendly coworker, the sunset in the traffic jams, the blue jay in my window, to notice how beautiful my family is. I was too busy to blame the good things on you, yet when my world is shaken I blame it all on you without hesitation. Who am I? Who have I become?”

Or for most people they won’t even bother to acknowledge God, they will open the door to blame Him and then swing it right back in His face. They will keep on being busy and pretending they are okay.

Each and every day God wishes to bestow so much grace into our hearts and to do good works through us, but we have forgotten. We have forgotten that we have a free will, a choice. And that choice has to be made every single day. To chose Him. To claim He is the way, the truth, and the life. Yet so many of us say “I’m busy”, I’ll take care of that when I have more time….. God gave you that time and what do you have to show for it. And I hate to burst your bubble, but nobody is too busy. Your life is full, yes, but busy is a choice. We all have 24 hours in a day and you choose how to use them. Your life is just go, go, go and it emptied you of everything except that last little piece of pride that says, “I don’t need God, I got this.” But don’t forget this. The Devil prowls like a roaring lion looking for souls to devour (1 peter 5:8). And we are called to resist him steadfast in faith. So start praying. And pray hard. Pray for the humility it takes to say Lord I need you. 

Yeah, there are millions of future saints out there, but God still wants you. He sees you. And unlike the world, He doesn’t love you for your looks, or your abilities, or to use you, or only when it’s convenient, or when you’re happy. No, He loves every square inch of you, body and soul. 

I know there’s some of you out there right now who are thinking, “well I would pray, but I never feel anything, or I never get anything out of it.” If you say that let me kindly point out that you are saying The Bible is a lie, and you are also missing the point. Let me show you. I am sure many of you have heard of Mother Theresa. The cute Holy lady that people remember because she was such a God-loving soul. Would you look at that woman and think she had any trouble praying? Well she did, she’s called the patron saint of darkness for a reason. She suffered from desolation, and for over 50 years felt no spiritual consolation or anything in prayer. Yet she committed herself to Christ. In those 50 years, she prayed for hours every day, and still served others and showed them the reckless love of God. Nobody else has ever recorded in their life such a long period of dryness in prayer. So if she can pray from the pit of darkness for years, you can pray too. Your life may be crazy and hectic, but what are you here for? What would you do differently if you knew your life ended tomorrow? I hate to tell you this, but even busy people at some point in time die. “Busy” people one day have to meet their maker and what’s their excuse then. “Sorry, God I was too busy”?

 So I leave you with this, start reading the bible every night, pray, keep his commandments and live out moral authority every single day. And KEEP the sabbath day holy folks, and stop putting false God’s like money and porn before Him. Wake up America, stop letting the devil take the innocent. Quit being hypocrites, quit saying tomorrow. Be His hands and be His feet. Be that someone who’s not to busy to tell someone “I am here for you.” If we continue to build up a culture of death, abortion will continue, sex trafficking will continue, child abuse will continue, anything violent and cruel will continue because guess what? When we stop caring for the human dignity of a single soul, we stop caring for any human soul, and when we stop seeing dignity in each other, we stop seeing the God who lives in them. We no longer will see the God who loved us so much that He died an agonizing death or the cross. We will run out of hope, faith, and love, and I don’t know about you, but that’s not a world I want to live in. The most important moments and right now and your death, do something because this world does not wait. You can fight for the culture of life or you can drown yourself in the culture of death, it’s your choice. God bless, and do not let your heart forget He loves you.

“I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch to wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.”

John 15:5-6

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Loved into existence

Nobody has ever earned the right to exist. It’s impossible, for to earn anything one must exist. So prior to you existing, you had no dignity, no worth, nothing. Life itself and everything we are and ever will be is a gift. Loved into existence, conceived and bore form your mother’s womb, you have been chosen. That itself is a beautiful thing. Yet so often we forget that. The gift of our existence, and the joy of being called His beloved slips our minds because we become to “busy” existing. We forget who we are and what we were made for, and therefore we have forgotten our Father.

Fortunately for us God not only gives life, but he loves us enough to give us grace and mercy. Therefore we are able to return to Him and His arms will be wide open ready for a sweet embrace. Then what… did God make us just so we could fall and come running to Him…. Certainly not. No He made us for so much more than that, but to simply put it we were made for relationship with Him, and with others, so that all may know Him and all can be one with Him in His Kingdom.

This all either sounds super basic or super far fetched depending on where you are at in life. Either way though, think about this. An orchestra is not an orchestra without all of the instruments, and then even with all the instruments the volume does not increase unless the number of them increases. The orchestra led by their conductor can play the sweetest of songs, and the more they play the better they get. Then let’s say we take out the cello, and the violins, and slowly they fade to nothing, but a conductor. How sad it would be to no longer hear something so beautiful. That’s the church without you, one less instrument conducted, one less decibel reached, and one less person who’s to far away to hear of the song of the Lord’s glory and salvation. Each one of us is loved and chosen to spread the good news, that there is a place where all of our sorrows end, that there is hope, that you are loved.

I was recently in New York, and I’ll admit it I love people watching. So naturally I loved Times Square, even though it was a vastly different scene then a mid-western girl like me was used to. Being catholic I was also a huge fan of the statue of the priest. Besides my point though. My point is this. As I stood amidst the most populated city in the U.S, my mind began to wonder and think about how many of these people feel unseen, unloved, and unknown among all the millions of other people. How many of these people actually know their worth? How many of them know their loved? How many of them know what they deserve? Oh how I wish I could tell every single soul how much God loves them, and how he thirsts for them. Everyday around the world people rush to make another dollar, make another amazon purchase, fall in love, break up, take their first breath or maybe their last, yet how many of them turn to God in the stillness and the silence. When they do not know how to lift up their hearts to him, do they just crumble or become numb? Do they even know who they are?

Now I’m just one person, but I hope till the day I die I can live a life that glorifies Him and tells everyone I love that my redeemer lives. My hope and prayer is that we can all do that, because nobody earned their existence, but by love alone they do exist and therefore just as much as you and I they deserve to be loved. Now I will end with this. There was a prayer on the last column at ground zero in NY, from a priest by the name of Father Mychal who died on 9/11 giving people their last rites. The prayer read as follows: “Lord, Take me where you want me to go. Let me meet who you want me to meet. Tell me what you want me to say, and Keep me out of your way!” This prayer really touched me because it speaks the truth. If we want people to know their loved by God we need to be willing to be lead, and be willing to let go of ourselves completely. God loved you into existence, and He is calling you. Will you go?

God loves each of us as if there were only one of us.

St. Augustine

Manna

By Peyton Parra

A little over a month ago, I moved from the deep south (Pensacola, Florida) to the South Bronx for a mission year with Seton Teaching Fellows. I’m one of forty missionaries serving up here in the Bronx this year…that’s forty young-adult Catholic men and women sold-out for Jesus Christ, His Church, and the gentle invitation to join along in His great adventure of radical love. Each of us said yes to this mission for different reasons; we ventured to this place along wildly different paths. Despite these differences, we are united in our pursuit of making known the love of Christ to children and families here, as well as allowing Him to transform more deeply our very own hearts. 

Flash forward to one of our first Sundays here in the Bronx. The challenges of mission were just beginning to set in: adjusting to an unfamiliar culture, learning a whole new rhythm of life, and being humbled through simple communal living, just to name a few. To set the scene for you, I was very overwhelmed by the transition taking place – there was (and still is) so much new, so much unknown. I distinctly remember finding peace in the collection of mass readings this given Sunday. I found comfort in how seamlessly they all seemed to line up, nicely centering around the theme of God’s provision for His people. The readings started with the Lord’s promise to Moses of daily manna for the Israelites (Exodus 16), which the responsorial psalm then beautifully echoed, “the Lord gave them bread from heaven” (Psalm 24). Then, the gospel reading was an excerpt from the Bread of Life discourse (John 6). 

From first glance, it’s clear that these readings include some pretty foundational tenets of our Catholic faith. They all point to the very source and summit of our faith – the Eucharist. But for some reason, from all of these beautiful, theologically-dense readings, one simple word jumped out at me: “manna.” I kind of thought it was funny, actually, that out of all these readings, my greatest takeaway was the simple invitation to ponder the word “manna.” Often times, when the Lord speaks to me most powerfully, it occurs in the simplest of ways.

No doubt, the Holy Spirit was etching this word – manna – into my mind and onto my heart. I wondered what this even meant…what was the Lord trying to tell me? In what direction was He calling my heart with this word? What did the Lord promising the Israelites manna have to do with me, here in the Bronx, many many years later? It dawned on me that here in the South Bronx, in August 2021, the Lord’s provision for me might look different than it did for the Israelites long ago. But, like the Israelites, I am vulnerable and in need. On a physical level, I’m in need of food – of daily bread. Sharing in their very same humanity, I’m in need of so many other things, too – sleep, shelter, connection, community, laughter, the list goes on. This laundry list of needs very quickly leads me to my utter dependency on others, and ultimately, God.

It was a mini “aha” moment when I realized God was providing for me in so many ways here in the Bronx. In all the discomfort that beginning mission entails, He was there, supplying for all my needs – the big ones, the small ones, the visible ones, the hidden ones. When I was feeling insecure and turning inward, He had gifted me little moments of belly laughter, simultaneously filling me with joy and helping me look outside of myself. When I was stressed out after hearing of the demands of mission, He was there to listen, to be with me, and take on the burdens I was attempting to carry alone.

When I was thirsting to feel known in this new place, He gave me a friend who asked intentional questions when getting to know me.

That same Sunday evening, after my community prayed together, I shared with them how I was struck by the word “manna” and asked each of them to share what “manna” the Lord had given them here. Together, we pondered – “how has God provided for us since moving to the Bronx?” Each of us took a turn sharing our answer to this question. It was such a beautiful moment with my community, one I deeply cherish. There’s something special and powerful about taking the time to slow down and recognize the gifts the Great Giver is bestowing upon us. 

Since then, not a single day has gone by that I don’t think about “manna,” and what that looks like for me in the here-and-now of mission in the Bronx. So, what is manna? For me, it looks different each day. Some days, manna looks like my quiet time in the morning, the one time every day when I can savor silence with the Lord. Some days, manna looks like catching glimpses of the beauty of humanity – a family holding hands walking home from the park or an unexpected “I’m thinking of you” text from a friend. Some days, manna feels like waking up well-rested, like the endorphins after a solid jog around St. Mary’s park, or like feeling incredibly known and loved when your community surprises you with a custom-made birthday card. Some days, manna sounds like the beauty of a poem that rips your heart open unexpectedly. Other days, manna sounds like walking down the stairs to hear my roommate strumming a song I love on the guitar. And as she strums, the stress and exhaustion built up throughout the day slowly release off the top of my shoulders. Some days manna smells like freshly baked peanut butter cookies, homemade crepes after Sunday morning mass, or the coffee my community member woke up early enough to brew for all of us. Manna looks like quality time with new friends and catching up with old ones and the little moments that somehow restore life to the parched soul. 

Here on mission in the Bronx, manna comes in many different forms. The Lord is faithful. He is our Father; He is the perfection of love. How blessed we are to call ourselves His children!! We are not “sort-of” loved by Him, or merely loved “very well” by Him – we are loved perfectly by God the Father. Let that move you to the core – He loves you perfectly. Therefore, in our every need and want, we can turn to Him in complete confidence. In every desire of our hearts, we can trust in Him. We can rest in the peace of His perfect provision, knowing that while it may not always appear in the form we expect, the manna will always arrive. And it will be beautiful.

The Father’s Greatest Joy

And just like that I’ve officially been in the Bronx for a month. One thing I have learned over these past 4 weeks is this: The Father’s greatest joy is to love me. Seriously, The Father’s greatest joy is to love me.

This is what I was created for, and I have seen it through prayer, people, an the everyday little things. This is not to say it’s been a piece of cake here in the Bronx, just ask my boyfriend (I’ve cried a lot). But everyday I have seen the Father go above and beyond to love me. 

Picture this, a father comes home after a long hard day of work. He is sweating from being out in the heat, the boss man yelled at him today, he’s hungry, and he didn’t sleep well last night. He walks in ready to flop onto the couch, but he hears a real soft cry from the back bedroom. He instantly drops everything. His heart is moved towards his daughter, whom he knows is on the other side of that bedroom door. Pressing his ear up to the door, he asks “What’s wrong baby girl?”

She reluctantly opens the door just a crack. He peeks in to see the tears rolling down her cheeks. As he presses his way in the tears begin to roll down even faster, as she tries to hide her face. And He gently whispers “Just let me hold you”.

He gently picks her up and she rests her head upon his shoulders. Her feet dangle and he gently squeezes her close to his chest. She begins to mutter all the little worries that exhaust her little heart. She pulls back as he says “Look at me, I got you.” She gazes into his eyes and starts to smile. 

This my friends is the image of the father I have come to know since being in the Bronx. God the Father loves deeply, and with great joy, even if it means suffering for the other. Just like it was a great joy to be with the Fransiscan Friars and Sisters of the Renewal outside of Planned Parenthood. It certainly was not the kind of joy any eye could recognize, but the kind of joy that comes form dying to oneself for the good of the other. The joy of not being afraid to suffer. The joy that comes from knowing that even if I walk through the Valley of Death the Lord is going to provide. He is not just a good father, He is a perfect father. And what father does not want to provide for his children? What father does not want to protect his children? And who am I to doubt that?

I could come up with a thousand reasons to leave the Bronx, but I won’t. Because I have a Father who’s greatest joy is to love me, and I want every kid in the Bronx to know they have that too. I could sit and worry about every little thing under the sun, my debt, money, missing home, having to walk in the streets, all of it. But I refuse to. I’m not going to bathe myself in the lie that the Father is going to leave me short handed. If my earthly father doesn’t do that, why would my Heavenly Father? If I sit and worry about these things what does that say to the people around me? In fact, I think it’s ironic that this week I have passed by two different kids who were walking with their dad and crying probably because they were in trouble. My natural human thought was, “Jeesh, Dad must be a little harsh today.”  Whether that’s true or not, that’s what I thought. What is true is that they have a dad, they have a dad who cares, but that’s not what we think about when you see a disappointed dad and a crying kid. Now I’m not saying that these dads were bad or that these kids needed to toughen up. What I am saying is this: If I walk around sulking and always focused on the negatives then no kid is ever going to believe me when I say I have a Father in heaven who loves me. And is that not why I moved half way across the country? I want these kids to know this above all else. So what’s it gonna take?

I’ll tell you what it’s going to take. It’s going to take a grateful attitude and a heart that is deeply rooted in prayer. It’s going to be tough out here, but if I can get one kid to truly believe that the Father’s greatest joy is to love them, it’s worth it. And if the Father’s greatest joy is to love, shall that not also be my greatest joy as well?

 Also it’s my favorite Saints feast day, along with my reversion anniversary on Monday. So let’s celebrate with a few quotes from my homie, St. Maximilian Kolbe!!!

“A single act of love makes the soul return to life.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Let us remember that love lives through sacrifice and is nourished by giving. Without sacrifice, there is no love.”

St. Maximilian Kolbe

Kissing What Festers

Have you ever felt like Jesus is asking you to give more than you have? I have felt that way a lot throughout my first week in the Bronx. The first official day they sat us down and said, “You are here to serve, to serve our babies, who far to often have been given up on. If you cannot with 100% certainty commit to giving this full year of service, then I want you to leave right now.” 

That was when it became real. In that moment Jesus pulled me out of my inward selfishness. In the days prior, I found myself overwhelmed by the noise, the smells, the amount of people. I was honestly calculating up every reason I had to just go home. But when I heard our director uphold that deep call to serve these kids, I quickly remembered why I was here. 

Flash back to 2019, standing in the middle of Times Square, when God said I want you here. Several months later, I found out about Seton and I noticed that their mission was the proper response to that call. I wanted to be there for those kids. I wanted to love them and uphold their dignity. When I got caught up in my own discomfort, Jesus came right into my selfish mess, picked up every piece with gentle care, and asked me over and over: “Do you love me more than these? Do you love me more than your own comforts? Then tend my sheep.”

It sounds nice, but it’s hard in reality! Packing my life into two suitcases and leaving home behind is hard. Moving to the Bronx site unseen is hard. But I don’t want to walk away because it’s too hard. I don’t want to be confident in myself; I want to be confident in Him. Confident that if I surrender it all, He will work right through me. Before I go any further, I would like to tell you a story to take this thought a little deeper.

I was on the train the other day and a man stumbled in and began to cry out, “Please help me!” His feet were emaciated, his clothes torn, beard overgrown, snot dripping down his face. I couldn’t even look at him, but I look up, and he’s standing right in front of my face, holding onto the same pole, just looking at me. My only thought was “Where is your mother?” 

Another man sitting down in front of me pulled a dollar out from his pocket and handed it to the man in need. But the man sitting there did not even look at the man in need; instead, he glared at me, looking at my Jesus shirt as though to mock me, saying “Some Christian you are?” I hope that’s not what he was actually thinking, but the thought still lingered in my head. I thought to myself, I had nothing to give but love and a prayer. Even if I had a dollar, what would that have done? The condition of this poor man could very well represent the soul of New York, and no amount of money, no amount of food can solve that problem. So, instead, we bury it, even when we see it before our very eyes and smell in it’s breath a deep infection that modern medicine can’t cure. And again and again whether rich or poor people walk away empty. They go home wondering who they are, what’s their purpose and if anybody really cares. It’s overwhelming to see the amount of poverty both spiritual and physical. It’s overwhelming because far too often we only look at what we have, rather then what God has. We find ourselves in the shoes of the disciples looking out over a crowd of 5000, and Jesus looks at us and says, “How can we feed them?”

In our hearts we want to answer that call, but looking at the lack of money and food, we start to believe that God is setting us up for failure. In answering our fear, Jesus turns our attention to a small boy, a small boy with a wicker basket holding 5 loaves and 2 fish, a small boy who has followed Christ to the shores of Galilee because he hoped for something more. Are you gonna look at him and tell him he needs to go home? Are you going to make him bear the disappointment by telling him that Christ can’t feed us all? Or are you going to invite him to give what little he has to Christ? We know how the story ends, how they were fed, and how there were abundant leftovers. God still desires to feed us like that: abundantly. There are still millions out here hungering for more. The sheep need a shepherd, Christ is asking you to feed His flock.

For this to happen we have to start with trust. Christ could have made bread fall from the sky just as easily, but He chose to multiply what one small boy already had. He chose to call his disciples and this small child into an even deeper trust. Here in New York, and for all my days to come, wherever I may be, I hope to model that trust. Trusting that by simply showing up and giving all I have, no matter how little it may be, God is going to do the rest. Because the reality is that the world’s greatest hunger can only be satisfied with love. We could feed the whole world or let the world starve, but the body will no longer hunger for bread when they hit the grave. When the body is laid to rest the soul still hungers for a love it never recieved. Which takes me back to my initial thought towards the man on the train: “Where is your mother?” Maybe that question is not asking about biological parentage, but rather where is the person capable of reflecting the unconditional love of God? Where is the love you deserve because of your inherent dignity? Where is the love given freely? A love that would dare to kiss even the wounds that fester?

The answer is you. It is you. You have been called to empty yourself completely. Today and everyday you have the freedom to chose to open yourself completely to Christ. To be like Mary, and chose to bear the fruits of Christ’s labor of love.

A False Idea of Permanence

Faith belongs to the one who asks, because the one who asks receives. Often we beat ourselves up thinking, “I’ve been through worse and overcome it. Why am I so terrified? Seriously you’re better than this.” 

The reality is on our own we are capable of nothing, in every moment of triumph stood before us a God who is greater than it all. In every moment of doubt and fear stood an outstretched hand of divine love. Through every storm it was Him who gave you the great gift of faith. It’s that gift of faith that compelled the disciples, young men heading into the peaks of their careers, to leave it all behind and follow Christ. It was the same gift they lacked due to their pride that led them to despair at sea. Yet in finding it again it led them to martyrdom. As I prepare to leave for NY and the doubts and fears rush through my mind I think I’m giving all I have. What more can I give? And He looks to me and says ask and you shall receive. He never asked me to slave myself over. He never asked me to be everything for everyone. He never asked me to steer the ship and take control. All He wants is for me to surrender. To trust that He will keep me safe and provide all that I need. It’s scary moving to a place I’ve never been, to an address I still haven’t been given. I’m sad to leave my family, my boyfriend, and friends. But there’s someone going through worse who doesn’t even know that God is at their side. Yes the next few pages of my life feel like I’m jumping into blank spaces, but if God is there that’s where I’ll be. Faith is what gives me the strength to turn the page. 

This is why faith is so important. We must continue to ask for it no matter where we are on our journey. The storms of life constantly come and go, but God is always with us. It’s when we forget that God is with us and for us that we lose that faith. When we lose our faith we quite literally feel like we are drowning. That there’s not a soul out there who understands or cares about the chaos in our hearts. We suffocate in fear and anxiety because every ounce of suffering feels like it’s all for nothing. 

Maybe  you’re thinking well I believe God’s real, I’m praying, I’m doing the things. But love is not a checklist people. Love is a constant being. Like if ‘is’ing was a word that’s what it would be (that’s a whole other tangent). But if love is constant what it takes to believe and surrender to that is faith. Faith says abide. Faith says He is God, and I am His. 

When the Bible says, “Faith, Hope, and Love remain and the greatest of these is love”. It never says yeah forget faith. Faith is so important and you have to have it or this world and it’s demons will eat you up.

You’re one simple task is this. Pray. Which literally means to ask. Ask God for that precious gift of faith. For worry has never added even a second to your lifetime, but faith has added infinity. So in the face of the storm what will you choose?