Gay and Catholic?

This blog was not written by me,but rather submitted to me by someone who wishes to remain anonymous.

As many things have come to light in our country over the past few months, I have found myself asking many questions. Injustices happen in our country, but why is it that we are sitting here arguing over them instead of having conversations about them?  As I have scrolled through social media, most posts that I see make me feel like there are only two sides to be on. It seems that our society is always pushing only two options and oftentimes to extremes. Either you are for the cops, or you are for black lives. Either you are pro-LGBTQ+, or you are completely against it. Let me be very clear- I know that this is not everyone. I know that there are people that back both good officers and black lives. I know that there are people who love the LGBTQ+ community without agreeing with everything that they stand for, but more times than not, this is not the case. More times than not, we find ourselves having to choose one or the other and fighting for that stance rather than having a conversation with someone on the other side to try and understand them. Now, I am not going to focus this article on the matter of cops vs. black lives because I have no experience in this area, but I do have a little bit of experience when it comes to the LGBTQ+ community and the Catholic Church.

Before we get too deep into this, I want to make a few things very clear. First thing, I am going to always use the phrase homosexual actions when speaking about the Church’s teaching because this is exactly what the teaching is refering to. The action. Not the person. Second thing, I am a female who is attracted to females and I am a practicing Catholic. For some of you, that may be confusing, so please just keep reading. Third thing, I fully stand behind and believe the Church’s teachings on homosexual actions. Lastly, I LOVE the Catholic Church, and God willing, will always remain a faithful, practicing Catholic. Now you are probably quite surprised. Maybe you have never thought that someone could be both gay and Catholic. Maybe you do know someone who experiences same-sex attractions and says they are happy living a chaste life, but you don’t really believe them. Maybe you think that they are just saying that or they are fooling themselves or, my personal favorite, they are “brainwashed” by the Church. I will be honest with you, I have not always loved the Church and her teaching on homosexual actions. In fact, I almost left the Church in college because of the teaching on homosexual actions. So why didn’t I leave? Why did I stay? What changed my mind? I met some people who didn’t just care about the fact that I was a girl and I liked girls. I heard a talk from a priest whom I could tell truly cared for and loved those who bore the cross that is same-sex attractions. I saw that there were people in the Church that wanted to have a conversation about who I was as a person, not just my sexuality. Most importantly, I had a profound encounter with the person of Jesus Christ and knew that the Church was my home. 

As Pride Month has come and gone, I have found myself wrestling with what it means to support the LGBTQ+ community and be Catholic. As I have scrolled through Facebook, I have felt once again that there are only two ways to live, either in full support of the LGBTQ+ community or against it. I have felt that if I am Catholic then I must not support LGBTQ+, but that is conflicting for me because I do consider myself to be gay. I saw an article one day that was about why Catholics should not support “Pride.” I’ll be honest, I did not 100% agree with the article. I’m not saying that we as Catholics should go out and participate in the nearest Pride parade, but I am throwing the idea out there that we should remember that Pride is more than just about gay marriage. There was once a time that it was illegal to identify as gay. People were (and still are) beaten and even killed or driven to suicide for being gay. The LGBTQ+ community has not always been seen as equal or even as a human being. Now, I am not trying to dog on the Church. The Church has made great strides in the work that it does for the LGBTQ+ community, but I would go out on a limb and say that most people in the LGBTQ+ community do not feel accepted by the Church. Why is this? I think that it is because so often, when we hear a person’s sexuality is something other than straight or that maybe they don’t identify with the gender that they were assigned at birth, we either stop the conversation or we start trying to tell them why that is wrong. This is not what we are called to do. Jesus did not immediately tell Matthew why he shouldn’t be a tax collector, he first reclined at table with him. He got to know him as more than just a tax collector. He shared a meal with him. We as a Church, myself included, need to be more like Jesus in this area. We are never going to change anyone’s mind or heart on this teaching by giving our best apologetic argument over why homosexual actions are morally wrong. Jesus is the only person that can do that, and we are called to be His hands and feet on the Earth. So instead of staying on one side of the argument and always pushing for what is right, enter into conversation with those around you who may be experiencing same-sex attractions. See past their sexuality. See the person. Instead of starting the conversation of “why the Church’s teaching is true,” start the conversation with “tell me more about you.”

P.S If you would like to have a conversation about this topic or go more in depth with it, please reach out to Mikayla and she will be able to connect us. Also, please take 40 minutes to watch the documentary The Third Way. It would be a great first step in understanding the Church’s teaching on this topic.

Fascinated

There are so many things in this world to be fascinated by, but I want to be fascinated by Christ alone. We can turn our eyes to the news, politics, violence, drama, money,the way we look, or relationships, but fascinations pull us. And if we are not we are being pulled toward Christ we are being pulled away. So lately my simple prayer has been Jesus help me to fall more in love with you. 

So often it feels that when I pray I am fascinated by my sins, the hurts in my heart, the stones in my way and I’m  focused on everything but him. Prayer should be me looking at Jesus, not me sitting in front of Him looking at myself. If I am looking at myself, how am I supposed to know where to go. My eyes need to be on the one I am trying to follow. 

Yesterday for example was one of those days. I went to work and I had kids have major melt downs, then I came home and didn’t realize the construction crew had moved further up, and there was no driveway on this part of the road and I ended bashing the back of my car trying to turn around, then I came in and got in a fight with my mom. I could feel my heart racing just trying to keep up with my anger. Then He stopped me right there. I had become fascinated by my sin, all that had gone wrong, and all these things that could not be undone. It was like being a kid again, you know when your parent comes in and you’re all upset, and they say  “look at me,” except it was Jesus speaking to me. Speaking to my upset heart, telling me “Look at me, everything is going to be alright”. And in that childlike moment I had the opportunity to fall more deeply in love with Christ, and I seized it. I turned all my fascination towards Him, and I wish I could say I do this every time. The devil wants us to be distracted and fascinated by ourselves and our own wants and needs, but when we are striving for heaven we can’t do that. 

So how do we avoid it? We pray. And Ignatious of Loyola’s 5 step method is so helpful. Because the first step is to ask for God’s light and grace to look at your day through His eyes. Then the second step is to find things you are thankful for. So already within the first two steps you have turned your eyes towards God and His goodness that is at work in your life. Then the third step is to review your day, fourth step: ask for forgiveness, and the final step is to make amends,  and pray for others. Praying this method before mass yesterday got me good. Because as I reviewed my day and looked for things I was thankful for, I found that the same kids who had driven me up the walls that day were the same kids I was thankful for, and the sins that I found myself in throughout that day were cast as far as the east is front the west as soon as I handed them over to Christ. Praying in this way helped me to focus on how much He loves me, and helped me to fall all the more in love with Him. As we conversed I could feel His gentleness, His mercy, and I knew that no matter what He was going to provide. For example looking back at the moment I bashed my car, rather than seeing it as a punishment for something I did I was able to look back at Jesus with me in that moment. I could see Him standing there and He wasn’t clapping His hands, no He was feeling my frustration with me and wanting to console me.

He was not going to just leave me empty handed. He will provide all that I need in order to do His will. Why? Because my Father is a good father. And He loves me even still. He holds my heart, casts away the wrongs of my past, heals what is broken and holds the key to my future. And all I have to do is be little and look up at my Father’s face. How could I not be completely fascinated by the Father’s love for me?

Zeal

God constantly opens these doors for me, (such a gentleman) but there are some doors I don’t want to walk through, but despite my fears I’ve never regretted following His call. One big God moment in particular happened this week. It was a co worker of mine and she asked me how I felt about the new pro life bill our Governor signed. I really do not like to talk politics at work, but God kept pushing in. And He didn’t really need me to talk. He needed me to listen. 

In that moment I could feel His mighty hand working this conversation like clay. I resisted His push, and my heart raced, but I’m so glad I’m the clay and not the potter. Out of this conversation He molded something beautiful, something of pure love. This woman ended up sharing with me not only that she feels very pro choice, but that ten years ago she was a victim of rape, and ended up getting an abortion. I could feel her pain. And even though I still told her that I’m very unapologetically pro life, she didn’t try to fight me. Instead she looked at me and said “I appreciate you, I’ve never met someone like you whose pro life but willing to listen. And you should feel special, not even my family knows about my abortion.” 

I just remember looking into her eyes and feeling this sense of pain, but yet so much love. I could also feel the mercy flowing in the room, reaching out and healing a deep wound. I went home and decided to write her a letter because I just felt God telling me that she doesn’t know of His love for  her. So I thanked her for her vulnerability, affirmed her and told her that God still loves her, and despite your pain and hurt He has never abandoned you. I will never understand this woman’s pain, but God does. And yes abortion is wrong, but God does not call us to condemn, but to love. Is it easy to love like this? No. I was terrified she would get mad that I wrote this faith filled letter, that ended with me clearly stating that I still think abortion is wrong. But like always God provided and consoled, and after I returned to work she thanked me for the letter. She said she loved it. 

Now I don’t tell you this to be like “hey look at me”. I say it to show you that God is alive in each and every one of us, and there are little opportunities each and every day to show God’s love (even in secular places). Be not afraid. The Gospel yesterday talked about going out to the lost, and the day before the Gospel talked about how Jesus looked out at these troubled and abandoned people, and He said the harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few. The Gospel calls us to be harvesters, and reach out. It’s uncomfortable, yeah, but being crucified for your sins was even more uncomfortable. The kingdom of God is at hand. Now go tell the good news. 

There is a King above all, and He loves us. 

“Worry not about your death, but rather not living in communion with Christ”

What if I Change My Mind?

Something Jesus and I have been talking about lately is changing ones mind. Everyone wants people to change their minds, but it’s so hard to change our own mind. And I’m not talking about changing your mind on big things like the faith, abortion, or things that are very black and white. I’m talking about changing your mind on mission, vocation, careers, our calling, etc. These things are not so black and white, and we like to think there’s right and wrong answers, but let’s  take that weight off your shoulders. Jesus indeed has desires for us, just like some of you have a mom who want you to go to med school or seminary, but even if that ends up not being your calling your mother still loves you and so does Jesus. We have to remember that choices like these should never be looked at as a means to an end, but rather an end in themselves. 

As you should know by now, Jesus calls us to different places sometimes just so we can learn something about ourselves. Going to Chicago and falling in love with it, and really feeling God’s presence, and maybe even discerning living there, doesn’t mean you should or shouldn’t move there. But it also doesn’t mean discerning it is a total waste of time. Not discerning it would have been a waste of time, because when you do not surrender your desires to Jesus and spend time asking him what they mean, you miss out on learning not only who He is, but also who you are. This world tells us you will be more satisfied with your choice if you have less options, but Jesus says “ I did not send you into the world to be satisfied, because the world is not your home. You are in this world to thirst.To thirst for something more.” This is not ice cream flavors we are talking about here folks. And if you want a simple choice, choose Heaven or Hell.

I’ve been reading the Gospel of Luke lately, and the other day I was reading about the man with many demons who nobody wanted to be around. This man was an absolute out cast. Jesus came and cast the demons out of him and into the swine. Then the man was free, and he sat at Jesus’s feet. He desired to know more, but Jesus had to go. The people there were completely moved by fear, and they wanted Jesus out of their town. The man whom He had cured of the demons, begged our Lord to stay. He was afraid to stay with these people, and to be abandoned. And that right their struck me, and it struck me hard. Jesus turns to this man and tells him to stay, to be grateful, and share the truth with others. He sent the man home, despite his begging. 

This struck me because sometimes in life we go running to what is holy, but not by faith, rather fear. We are afraid if we don’t go on the big mission trips, go be a priest, or travel to the ends of the Earth spreading the word, that somehow we are not enough. This stayed with me for days, and I’ve been thinking about it a lot. After battling the discernment of religious life, and then wondering if I’m called to go do mission after I graduate, I’ve realized there’s more fear then faith behind my desires. Not that these are not good things, but fear does not come from God. Doubt and confusion does not come from God. And as I started to realize these things the weight came off my chest. I started looking through the Gospels seeing all these times where the disciples thought they were called to do one thing, which was a good thing, but not what Jesus wanted them to do. One person that came to mind a lot, was my man St. Peter. Peter wanted to build tents during the transfiguration, he wanted Jesus to stop talking about mystical things so Jesus could live longer, Peter even wanted to follow Jesus to the cross. Yet, Jesus again and again rebuked him. I mean look back to when Peter first met Jesus, he was washing his nets, he was ready to go home. THen Jesus comes along, and drags him back out to the water, and you know the rest.Throughout the Gospel we see Peter and Jesus go back and forth, piecing together right from wrong, what desires should be followed, and which should be left behind. And the whole time Jesus loves him, even when Peter denies Him He loves him. Through and through.

So my friends, do not be afraid to change your mind. Do good, but avoid evil. Look to the Saints. St. Louis and Zelie Martin wanted to join the religious life, but God had other plans. St. Maximilian Kolbe probably would have loved to stay with his Marian militia, but he was called to bring Mary to that concentration camp. St. Theresa would have loved to go unnoticed for her work, and she hated having her picture taken, but God had other plans. Or my Newman Center director Max (not a Saint yet), really wanted to be a priest, but the seminary booted him, because God had other plans for him, and he is very much needed in his vocation now as a father, husband, and director of our Newman Center . Going to seminary provided him so many tools that he stills uses now. So as John Paul the second always said “Be not afraid”. God is with you always, and He will never let you go astray. Do not let that icky feeling of maybe I wasn’t really listening or praying hard enough drag you into turmoil. Sometimes our desires tell us what feels like home, it pushes us to leave or stay. But home is where the heart is, so place yours in Heaven.

P.S. Mission looks different for everyone, but everyone is called to it so there! That’s all I had left to say.

The One Kind Of Man We All Need

If you clicked on this hoping for some romantic story, you’ve come to the wrong place, or maybe you haven’t. Maybe you need to read this anyways because you never had the blessing of having a man like this in your life. This blog is for all of us, both men and women. Because inorder to even exist, you need one of these. You need a Dad.

Now I know that not all of us were lucky enough to have a good dad or a dad at all. And I want you to know that it’s not your fault, and I’m sorry that you have that hole in your heart. It’s sad that here in the U.S. 25% of Americans grow up without a dad. And let’s not even begin to count the number of abortions that happened because Dad walked out. That’s why this week I want to be real and tap into the deep parts of our heart. Even if you had a good dad, I still want you to listen in. 

Being a dad takes more than impregnating someone. Being a dad is more than just having a kid.Being a dad is being a reflection of God the Father. Dad’s are there to protect us from the monsters inside and out. But Dads can’t do that when they are constantly fighting the monsters inside. Men are supposed to be the tough guys, the bulletproof man, the provider, and they crush under the weight of the world being put on their shoulders. Ladies, men can’t be your God. No man can be your everything. Your job is to help keep his eyes fixed on the God who should be your whole world. We always talk about women, and their struggles, and that’s good. Women tend to be open and honest, but our society and men’s nature locks mens struggles up in a box and lets them multiply. We barely scratch the surface with porn addictions. If I could pry that locked box open I’d imagine I would find suicidal thoughts, body image issues, financial struggles, addiction, lust, self hate, anxiety, depression, job loss, loneliness, sleep deprivation, unhealthy eating,anger, alcohol, drugs, wounds from sexual abuse, feelings of abandonment, feeling like a failure, feeling like a bad Dad, and the list goes on and on. Because guess what. When the devil walks in he’s gonna go straight for the head of the household. You strike the shepherd, you scatter the flock. Then when he has scattered the flock, he feasts on them all. 

It doesn’t have to be this way though. If we had men who were willing to get on their knees and pray for at least 15 minutes a day, this world would be 10 x better. If men got out their Bible and read for just 5 minutes, even getting the family involved, the graces would be flooding in. We need Dad’s who are prayer warriors. We need men who cling to the Blessed Mother. 

This world can be so brutal, but remember the only one you need to please is God. I was just reading some scripture and it talked about not needing letters, because we ourselves are love letters from Christ. If every Dad could let themselves be a love letter from Christ to the world, this world would be so rich in love, it would set a fire in our hearts that would burn the devil and all of his lies. Yeah this is a high call, but remember you are not alone, and you have God on your side. As a Dad you will fail, you will sin, and stumble, but remember you are forgiven. If Jesus stumbled three times to His throne, What makes you think you won’t stumble a hundred times or more. You are a Dad, a human being, no one asked you to be prefect, they just asked you to stay. 

America needs dads to breathe truth and life into their children. To teach kids how to ride bikes, fish, change the oil, tie your shoes, love your spouse till death do you part, and most importantly how to put God first. Statistics show that children that grow up and continue to practice the faith had Dad’s who talked about God regularly within the home. It’s not about just going to church on Sunday, but kids with Dad’s who went to church with them are also more likely to practice the faith. Dad is the leader, and like it or not his kids will likely follow. So men if you can’t do it for yourself do it for your kids. They are watching, and they need you. They learn a lot from you, your mistakes too. And you can never overuse the words I love you. Say those words as often as you can, because kids who know that their Earthly Father loves them are far more likely to understand that God loves them. Because all good things including dads point us back to God. So men here’s what you have to do, Love God first, then your spouse, and then your kids, and don’t forget to love yourself somewhere in there, then everything else will find its place thereafter. But maybe you’re not a dad yet, or so you thought. Many of you are spiritual dads and don’t even know it. And you still play a very vital role. Being a father to the fatherless is especially important, and it sets an example for young boys to strive towards. I could go on and on about the effect a father has on his children, but I think you already know that so instead I’m going to just end it with some pictures of my Dad and with his most famous simple words “Be Good”.

This is my mom btw, her wedding ban was broken so that’s why that’s missing..

Never Grow Up

Me and Makenzie circa 2002

This summer I’ve been working at a childcare center, and despite my love for working with older kids, I have still greatly enjoyed working with the little ones. I mostly work with preschool through 2nd grade. Being around them has helped me realize what it really means to be childlike. Sometimes our minds instantly think of a whining, crying child when we think childlike, but if you’ve spent enough time around really young kids, you know there is something to be learned from souls such as these. There’s a reason Jesus tells us that they are the greatest among us. So here’s a breakdown of some qualities I think we ought to imitate:

Number one: Purity. No mind is more pure than that of a child. If a child is not pure-minded, it’s because some evil and awful person ruined that, and Jesus says it’s better to tie a millstone around your neck and jump into the sea than lead one of these little ones to sin, and that’s all I’m going to say about that, because otherwise I will just be triggered. Main point here is strive to imitate their purity. “Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see the face of God.”

Next: Forgiveness. Some days these kids mistreat each other, and can be cruel to each other, but no more than a few minutes later they are best friends again. As adults if someone does not give us our fair share, or says something hurtful, or excludes us, we hold onto it. We take it deep into our soul and hold it there. And we hold it against them, or against ourselves. We hold on to it and allow it to weigh down on our ability to love others, and love ourselves, and even worse, we forget how to love God. Forgiveness is a huge roadblock when it comes to growing closer to Christ, but children seem to have a knack for it.

Third: Vulnerability. Kids are not afraid to be vulnerable, they are more than willing to express exactly how they feel, what they are thinking, with no holding back. With adulthood comes prudence, but that does not mean we should completely shut down all thoughts, feelings and emotions. As adults, we find it so difficult to express our thoughts, concerns, and emotions. I talk about this with my friends a lot because I’m really big on being raw and real, and the response I always get is “Oh, I’m only that way with Jesus.” But that’s a lie. Of course there are things that are meant to be kept between you and Jesus, but if you can’t even admit that you’re upset  because your dog died and you’re just faking it till you make it, I can almost guarantee you are not sharing your whole heart with Jesus. Actually, I guarantee it, because none of us are perfect, and it takes being willing to go to the depths of your heart daily to have a vulnerable and authentic relationship with Christ. In my mind I’m picturing those children at work who are crying and upset because they spilled their lucky charms or they were not allowed into some secret club some other 3 year old made and they are completely crushed. And they come to me just the way they are, upset and teary eyed, and they don’t care what anyone thinks at that moment. They are hurt and they are going to make it known, and then once they’ve been consoled and acknowledged, or the issue is resolved, they move on. If we did that in our prayer, man, imagine all the spilled lucky charms and ouchies that Jesus could clean up for us. He wants to do that for us, but we have to let him. Maybe the problem seems like something you can handle on your own, or maybe it seems so big that it would be a burden to God, but I promise you nothing is too big of a problem for Him. There’s no hurt that He can’t heal. But we have to go to Him. The kids that take matters into their own hands and chuck legos, or sit there with no cereal… well it doesn’t pan out so well for them. Be vulnerable, be real, and cry if you need to.

Vulnerability of course requires trust, which kids also exemplify well. Kids have no reason to trust me other than I’m nice and their parents trust me. If we were quick to trust God, the way these kids are so quick to trust me, imagine the depths we could go to with Christ. Trust also falls into obedience. Now some of you are probably like woah now, kids are not more obedient than me. Ha, well your wrong. Sure kids don’t always listen, but they trust instructions from their authority far more then you do. As adults we get into this habit of bending and breaking rules just because we can, and making choices because “I am an adult and I can do what I want.” Also, even the kids with behavior issues have respect for authority most of the time, but I think with age we’ve lost a little bit of that humility and obedience. Especially in a world that is slipping towards anarchy. Don’t fall for that bogus, do what your supposed to do, because you will out-grow rules, and the grapes of your parents, but you can’t out-grow God. 

And then lastly simplicity and the gift of being present. At work, I enjoy being around these kids because if you want it, you can have their full attention. They have no cell phones to glue themselves to, they are not worried about the bill they have to pay, or getting home to let the dog out, they are there and they are fully present and listening. And time to them is nothing, they just want to know when they get to eat, and when mom is coming, and most days they are having too much fun to even care about that stuff. They are just enjoying the moment. And to watch this kids react to all that’s going on in the world is actually kind of incredible. They haven’t even reached double digits yet and they have already watched so much happen in the world. Yeah, it worries them, and some express their fear has driven them to sleep with mommy and daddy, but they are so brave and they want to give everyday their all. They see life as something precious, and they still have the innocence to see all their peers as equals, as human beings. They look at someone and see a person, and they see a person with needs, dreams, hurts, desires, a family, they see someone to love. They don’t stereotype, use or abuse people. They see them as people. I mean have you heard the kinds of questions kids ask? They want to know if you have kids, a spouse or “oooo do you have a boyfriend?” They see family and love as something concrete. They want to know what you want to be in the future? They want to know your favorite things, give you hugs, and tell you how beautiful you are, and that they love you so much. If we loved like that, we would be closer than ever to loving like Christ. You should see the way they respond to someone getting hurt, they don’t care if they’ve never talked to that kid Jimmy before in their life, they are all going to want to help him and make sure he gets a bandaid ASAP, even if he’s not bleeding. Like seriously though. These kids are so pure-hearted and loving. 

I had one girl the other day get upset and she proceeded to say she hated herself, and I said well I love you and I want you to say something nice about yourself, and she scrambled off to pout. And then a few minutes later she came back with a big smile on her face and said, You know what Miss Mikayla, I thought of something”. And I said “Oh yeah? What is it?” 

“Jesus, loves me the way that I am, in my own special way.” 

Man these kids melt my heart and I am honored to work with them. 

“At that time the disciples approached Jesus and said, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a child over, placed it in their midst, and said, “Amen, I say to you, unless you turn and become like children,you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me.”

Matthew 18:1-5

Freedom

Picture Credit to Andrew Collart

Freedom. It’s not so much about the freedom to do what’s wrong, but rather what is right. Everyone has the option to do what is wrong, though they may face consequences, but not everyone in this world has the choice to do the right thing, at least not without extreme punishments. Yet Americans seem to forget about that, heck we even have the choice to not do the wrong thing, there are places in this world where you will be punished if you refuse to do the wrong thing. So let’s take a minute.

It’s 2020, and 2020 has taught us a lot about life and freedom. We saw in January with the death of Kobe Bryant, that no amount of money can make life less fragile, so live it. We learned that Tom Brady used his freedom to leave the team that brought him 4 super bowl rings.

Then times got a little harder. Covid spread like raging wildfire, and it is still running rapid. We went home. We suddenly remembered we had a family. We didn’t go to work, but we worked a lot harder. We realized what really mattered. We realized teaching isn’t so easy, and that our health care workers are amazing and so strong. And for once in our life, the blue collared class was finally recognized and put in the spotlight.Then with the death of George Floyd, screams for justice were heard across the world. All politics aside. You all know what you need to do. Those memes we saw around New Years that said we would finally be seeing 20/20, they weren’t kidding. Because I think we are finally seeing things clearer than ever before. At first things were confusing, and we didn’t know where to go, but things are coming into focus, and now it’s time to take action.

So now I would just like to cast you a vision. And I’m calling on you to live out this mission. Freedom. You have it, use it. Freedom is not following the crowd, and standing loud and proud. Freedom is not going against the crowd either. Freedom is getting on your knees and praying, and asking God for the wisdom to know His plan, and taking the action to follow that plan. Freedom in action , is the Carmelite Sister who went out and spray painted “God is love” and “The World will change when hearts change” on the convents cardboard covered windows. Then went out and knelt beside protesters in Ohio. Freedom is taking St. John Paul II’s words he spoke to the youth in Denver, Colorado to heart. He said “Do not be afraid to go out into the streets, like the first Apostles, spreading the Gospel of life”. The Gospel of life, the one that Jesus preached, saying that all life is sacred, meaningful and dignified, and every human is precious in God’s eyes. God loves His children. And we ought to out there baptising them all. That is why He sent His only son to die on a cross, for the forgiveness of sins. To break our chains, to set captives free. He came down, and freely chose to die, He descended into Hell and with His perfect sacrifice said “Let my people go”. Then He rose and conquered the grave, leaving us with the choice. Heaven or Hell. That’s everyone’s freedom, but some have freedom beyond that. Like us here in America.

There are 2.3 billion people in the world without basic freedom. Yet here are people like me, standing here with freedom that came at the cost of millions of soldiers lives, plus Christ, who I am free to worship and adore.Let’s put all that’s happen this year, aside. Not that it’s not important, because it is, but I want you to focus on what you do have and rather what you do not. I want you to focus on what God’s saying, not what the world is saying.Because listen up my friend, because God gives each and every one of us a very unique call, and His spirit comes down upon us and gives us each different gifts and talents. So don’t be looking in the next lane at Suzy or Brian. Stay in your lane, and PLEASE do not listen to the bogus lie that you need to spread yourself more thin, and that you need to love everyone the exact same. Jesus loved us all equally, but not the same. Jesus did not chose me to recline upon His chest at the last supper, or to be the next Mother Teresa, or the next Kobe Bryant. God chose me to be Mikayla Olson, to be a student at Northwest, to be the one who puts a lot of her time and effort into the pro life movement, and to study biology. My job is to be the very best Mikayla I can be, and to love myself for who I am, so that I can truly love others. Am I racist for not investing deeper into other causes? No. Am I heartless for not focusing on kids in foster care? No. I still love all these people, but through prayer and God’s guidance I have found my calling. Am I perfect at it? No, I certainly wish I did more. I wish I went out and sidewalk counseled more because I know the huge difference that it makes. I want to discipline myself one step at a time to use my freedom and use it wisely. 

Whenever you are faced with a choice chose the selfless one. This is how we die to oneself. This is the beginning of martyrdom. Because martyrdom, contrary to proper belief, is not so much about dying as it is witnessing to the faith. Everyone dies, but not everyone dies as a witness to the faith. That right there is true freedom. True freedom does not remove death, freedom removes fear. Freedom removes the fear of dying alone, the fear of being hated, the fear of being abandoned. Freedom starts a fire in one’s heart, that says whether I am free or imprisoned, I am still free because God is with me and He loves me. That’s a kind of freedom that nobody can take away from you, that’s a freedom from within. A freedom that can only come from deep, compassionate, fearless, unconditional love. 

Something that beautiful is sure to awaken the soul.Next time you receive Jesus I want you to remember this. I want you to remember that you are loved, and that you are chosen for a very specific mission. Ask Him for the grace to see it, and achieve it, and to do so unapologetically. Y’all say sorry too much, but I will save that for another blog. But anyways get out there, start praying, start acting. Because there are souls out there who need you. For the unborn, for the oppressed, for the imprisoned, for the children, for the homeless, the sick, and the abandoned, we pray to the Lord.

P.S. I just want to leave you with one last piece of advise. Pray with scripture. God speaks to us all a little differently. For me it’s often a voice I can hear within, but I still use scripture all the time. And don’t just read it, meditate on it. Do not worry about writing it down either. If it’s important to write down He will make sure you remember. Meditating on the gospel everyday is so fruitful. Fifteen minutes is good, but thirty minutes or longer is better. Read and sit there in the silence, and re read it as often as needed, focusing on the words or phrases that touch you the most. Praying like this is a great way to bring clarity and peace to your prayer life.

Stop Giving Yourself to a Bottomless Pit

Photo cred to whoever was on my mission team who took this picture

These days with all the fights, politics, and complaining, I constantly have to remind myself to turn the other cheek and not throw my pearls before swine. If I’m being honest with you guys I have a really hard time continuing to be the God loving, zealous soul that God calls me to be. Sometimes I look and see all these people complaining, these people that don’t know God, and they just want to rant about all their problems, and my heart just wants to break. They have the time and resources to throw a pity party when there are children in the world with no food, no bed to sleep on, or a safe adult to go home to. Yet people want to complain that they hate masks, or that they can’t go to the pool. And I think to myself why? I can’t stop the complaining, and I can’t save the whole world from poverty, I can’t do it all. I can’t please the world, I cannot satisfy their unquenchable thirst. Then I stop and I remember to look up. I look up and I sense my Heavenly Father looking back at me with deep compassion. And He says “My child, you do not need to be their savior, they already have one, Jesus Christ.” 

He also reminds me that the satisfaction we all thirst for can only be found in Heaven, and we all have to realize that on our own. We can preach, and we can share the Gospel truth with others, but it’s their own choice to accept it. We also have to remember that their yes to a life with Christ does not weigh upon our own judgement. God is delighted that you shared the truth, but the choices others make is not your fault. You can’t carry the world’s crooked sins upon your shoulders, only God can do that. And if you’ve read the Gospel of John you know that Jesus warned us of all of this, and throughout all the Gospels he often says that those who have less are often more open to the truth. The rich man is too full of the world, and thats why he goes away empty. The rich man remains empty until he realizes on his own that this thirst can only be satisfied through Christ alone. So what I am trying to say, is keep pushing on. Don’t throw your pearls before swine. Do not exhaust yourself trying to heal someone who does not have the faith to believe that they can be. The nagging people on facebook are like the people you see in the Gospel who see Jesus, but cannot be healed because they are so unaware of their spiritual poverty. They see God as mere solution to their problems, rather than the God that He is. These people need your prayers more than anything else, and a lot of em. If you try to give them advice, they will just suck the life right out of you, and make you feel hopeless for believing in a God that is good. It’s a trap, you resolve one problem, they will find another. So pray for them, and when they are ready to grow, they will let you know. In the mean time serve those who have real problems, but so often go unheard. You never hear the homeless vet cry out,  and you never hear the child who sleeps on the floor of a meth lab cry out, no the rich are too loud, and they have their own solutions. Don’t want homeless vets? Then don’t protect our country from terrorism.  Don’t want kids in meth labs? Abort them. All their solutions aim to get rid of the sufferer and not the suffering. These kind of people are selfish, they are thinking about themselves and the poverty that they do not want to see, they want you to focus on their problems.

Do not fall for that trap, because those in material poverty, need people like you, and you can’t give up on them. Sometimes we let the devil get under our skin, and we are too blinded by the stress to notice the small opportunities we have each day to serve others. We let ourselves grow weary and sometimes all they needed was to be told they are loved. We an be weary ad blindly give them food, shelter, etc, but what they really need is to know they are loved. They need to know that God sees them, and longs to be their source of refuge. The people of this world need to know that Earth is not their forever home. They need to know that if they live out their faith, and remain humble, that the Kingdom of God is theirs. They need to know that there is a place where there is no more sorrow and there in no more pain.Give them hope to keep on moving on. And I promise when you give yourself to people like that, you will find yourself leaving more full then you were before. You will finally understand what Jesus meant by His words I thirst. To give yourself to someone who has nothing to give in return, and leave full is something words cannot describe. It shows a glimpse of the value of one soul and the limitless power of the love of God. 

This week I really did not want to tell too many stories, or use analogies because I just wanted to very clear. Which makes me kind of sad because I love stories and analogies, but I hope I got my point across. I want you to remember who you are, and how precious you are in the eyes of God. I want us to also remember that we must have grateful attitude each and everyday. So often we forget just how good our lives really are even though we don’t deserve it. If you want the world to be grateful, start with yourself and do it abundantly. A grateful attitude changes the world. Then lastly I thinks it’s appropriate to close this with the Beatitudes, but I don’t just want you to read it, I want you to really meditate on it and think about the words that stick out to you. Then leave room for the Holy Spirit to work and allow your heart to grow. Be humble, be kind, and remember who you belong to. And if you were wondering if this message was for you, it was 😉

"Blessed are the meek,for they will inherit the land.                                               Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness,for they will be satisfied. Blessed are the merciful,for they will be shown mercy.                                             Blessed are the clean of heart,for they will see God.                                                      Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.                      Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness,for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.                                                                                                                Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Matthew 5:3-12

P.S. you should check this out and just to clarify, by no means do I mean give up on people. I’m just trying to say don’t exhaust yourself over something out of your control.

To All My Teachers

“Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith and in purity.” – 1 Timothy 4:12

This verse right here summarizes why I want to be a teacher. When I tell people I want to be a highschool teacher, they say wow you’re brave, or they ask if I’m crazy. But those who have teached and seen its true treasures know this better than I do, but there’s nothing more fruitful than making a difference in the life of the child. When you sit in a classroom full of young people, you are sitting with the future of the world. They are impressionable, eager, ambitious, and even into their senior year they are far more pure than the most people in this world. Sure they are a little wild, crazy, and energetic, but they have so much potential that is often overlooked because they are young. They are like little seeds hidden underground, but with the right conditions they grow and blossom. Even the most misbehaved student is still listening and watching every little move that teacher makes. They want to know who they are, and what they were made for. They ask the big questions, they want to know more, even though they don’t always show it. But they are far more eager than the old, and for all the right reasons. They want to make a difference, and it all starts in the classroom. 

Some people say being a teacher is a waste of time, but I think teachers give more than Warren Buffet ever could even if he opened his entire wallet. Because teachers are giving something that is indisposable and unreturnable. Teachers give knowledge, and teach students the skills they need to obtain even more knowledge.Oprah Winfrey could give poor Jimmy a lamborghini, but what good is it if he can’t afford the gas or the maintenance, heck if he doesn’t even know how to drive it’s not even usable. Even if he learned to drive and had the maintenance and gas paid for, where is he going to go if he doesn’t have the education to get a job, or to read and write at the very least.

    And that right there is why God made teachers. Just think about all the things you couldn’t do if you did not know how to read and write. Now that didn’t end in kindergarten. It continued all the way through your highschool year. You used reading, writing, communication, problem solving, and critical thinking to navigate through biology, math, history, english. The wider you opened your mind the wider those doors of opportunity opened. And throughout those 13 years you learned a lot, and some of it you may never have used, but it sharpened your mind. Long division may not have stuck, but the communications and critical thinking skills probably did, or maybe it was that simple life advice your teachers would give. For example my first grade teacher always said “I wanna see you in the newspaper for good things” or my biology teacher always said “You are never too busy”. That stuff right there gets you through life. They say it because even though many people don’t believe it, teachers really do care, and thanks to corona I think we’ve all come to appreciate them a little more. 

Heck, maybe your teachers were the only ones truly listening to you and never saying you’re too young to understand. They valued you and your youth, and challenged you. 

Teaching is definitely not a profession where you will find people who are in it for the money. Teachers are in it for the kids. They make a huge sacrifice and do not always get to reap what they sow, but what they sow is priceless. The profession of teaching reveals the heart of Christ, and his love for the children. He loves allowing his children to be free, and think for themselves. Good teachers love their students in that same Christ-like way, not perfectly, but they give it their best, because to them each one of them matters. They know each of them by name, and want them to succeed. Students might reject what the teachers are offering, but just like Christ they continue to offer it anyway. Even the most defiant student is still offered that same opportunity to succeed if they so chose. 

Now I know this blog was not anything like my typical blogs, but I just wanted to allow you guys to get to know me better and my philosophy on teaching, and also I wanted to invite you guys to take a moment and reflect on the ways your teachers impacted you. Then I want you to take a moment and pray for them. Pray in thanksgiving, and pray that they continue to grow closer to Christ, to continue to make an impact and do God’s will, even if it has to be done differently because its a public school. After all teaching students how to love like Christ doesn’t require words at all, and my public school teachers had a huge impact on my faith life and they never said a word, you can’t arrest teachers for going to church every Sunday and being joyful and compassionate everyday, and it was as simple as that. So anyways pray for them, they need it (have you met your kid haha jk that was a joke), but also if you get a chance thank them!

To all my teachers thank you! Thank you for making me who I am today, some of you have even gone out of your way to support me even today through your prayers, conversations and donations to my mission trips. Thank you to the teachers who pushed me beyond my limits, who saw my true potential, even though sometimes I got upset or it drove me crazy. You broke down my walls that said I can’t, and built support beams that said yes you can. Thank you to the teachers who did not just let me settle for mediocrity. Thank you for shaping the world, thank you for shaping the future. Your friends might think you’re crazy or forget how hard you worked for that degree, and the endless nights you stayed up putting together a lesson plan or praying for the well being of a student and wondering if they are okay. People might overlook you at times, but I promise God never does, He looks at you and He is so well pleased!

Love Yourself

Been doing a lot of yard work lately and it has given me a lot of time to spend in prayer observing God’s creation down to the finer details. I was watching these ants crawl out of an old plastic shelf my sister tore apart, and it’s interesting that the thing they go back to grab is their eggs. It reminded me of when I was maybe about four and my dad put a log into the fire and there were ants living in it and they came running out carrying eggs, then they’d run back in to get more. My four year old self was impressed at these ants incredible bravery to go back into a burning log just to save eggs. Today though I think there’s a lesson to be learned from these ants. A lesson that the unborn are of great value and worth fighting for. And I could write a whole book on that subject, but I think the real problem lies in seeing their own self worth, because I get it. Why fight for someone to come into the world when we can barely see the worth of our own lives? If you truly want to love others you have to love yourself.

Great you love Jesus, you love others, but if you don’t see your own worth what’s the point. I think we get really good at loving ourselves in the best moments, the moments that are frameable, the ones worthy of applause. But Christ challenges us to something greater, to love ourselves in the moments we wish nobody had to see. Because just like an ant, Jesus would run through flames to come save you even if it was what you would deem as your ugliest moment. And He already did just that. He saw you for exactly who you are, took up His cross, and said “For (your name) it’s worth it.” 

Yet here we are hating the very being He created, because we love in such a conditional way. We say I will love myself when I weigh less, or I will love myself when my grades are better, or when I have a boyfriend or girlfriend, or when I quit screwing everything up. But that doesn’t do us any good and it teaches us to be a conditional lover. I will love Jesus more when I am happy, I will love others more when they are more loveable. Our heart shrivels up into this tiny box that nobody can fit inside. 

What  I find is people who love themselves well, are able to love others unconditionally. Think about those people in your life who never complain about other people, who are not exclusive, but rather inclusive, those are the people who know how to love more fully, those are the kind of people I admire and strive to be like. Those are the people who have realized the hardest person to love is yourself, so if you can love yourself you can love everyone else.

I know it’s easier said then done, but it’s so important.It’s a huge part of why I named my blog dignified. Because my mission is to help others realize their own self worth, and their own dignity. To be honest though I am learning right along side you guys. With each and every blog I find Jesus reaching into the hard parts of my heart and healing them. If my heart was a sidewalk, Jesus would be the one who pulls out every weed down to its roots, and fills in every crack and crevice, and He doesn’t stop until it’s perfect. Even if it means going back to that same spot that weathers away and grows weed over and over again. Why? Because He loves you, and you my friend are worth fighting for. You are worth dying for. I know it’s hard to love yourself, I’m guilty of self loathe at times too. But over the years I’ve learned to celebrate the good and not beat myself up about the bad. 

First, in order to love ourselves we have to stop loathing ourselves. We all show signs of self loathe in different ways but it’s important to recognize we are doing it, because the evil one is good at hiding it. For some of us it’s masturbation, others cutting, excessive drinking or smoking, or sometimes its the little things that we just let slide. Like forcing ourselves to go on an unnecessary diet, in our heads telling ourselves we are not wanted, keeping those jeans that are too tight as an unnecessary pressure to be someone we don’t have to be. We should do things for ourselves out of love not hate. Like feed yourself good healthy food because you love yourself, or go on a run because you enjoy the challenge and the dopamine that comes afterwards. To love yourself you have to take time to get to know yourself, and love every bit and part of your being. Now this task may seem daunting and overwhelming, but a good place to start is in the arms of the Father. He is the one who has loved you from the beginning, and He will walk by your side hand in hand, and teach you to love like He does, unconditionally.

As I take time to learn more about myself and grow closer to Jesus I catch myself looking at high school pictures of myself, and wanting to be that skinny again. But hen He looks at me and says “Do you think that’s what’s going to make you happy? I want you to be healthy and happy and that’s not defined by fitting in to size zero jeans.” And He’s right, I’m a lot happier than I was in high school, and to be honest I have a lot healthier habits now than I did in high school, I was just lucky to have a good metabolism then. Thinking about this also reminds me that others are watching the way I love myself. They are hanging on to the words I say, and sometimes I hang on the words they say too.I think we can all relate to that moment someone starts complaining about their physique and we think well dang their beautiful, but if they think they are ugly or fat then what does that make me, and that thought is soooooo toxic. I would say its just as bad as gossiping about others. Instead of depleting someone else’s character your depleting your own and not only does it hurt you, it hurts those around you. So lets break that ugly cycle. Love yourself now, not the ideal self that might never come to be. And don’t put the wait of loving yourself on others because they can’t do it for you.

In life there will be times of suffering, times of joy, and times of just meh, but throughout your whole life you have to deal with yourself, You can escape a lot of things, but you can’t out run your own existence. I’ve been there, I’ve tried and it doesn’t work, because your more than a number on a scale, or a report card, or number of followers, or number of unread text. You are more than that. You can’t drown yourself in self loathe, but you can blur the true beauty of yourself, you can make it a lot harder to see then it needs to be, and that’s why we need Jesus. It’s like Adam and Eve in the garden, they fell, and realized there own nakedness and felt ashamed. And God said “Who told you that you were naked?”. Who told you to hide yourself and to be ashamed of who you are? Who told you to hide? Who told you that you were not good enough?

As these questions start to rise sometimes memories of moments where people have hurt us and fed into that self loathe come up, but God wants to heal that too. We have to love ourselves because if we don’t we are just going to see ourselves like this extra baggage to carry and we are never going to be able to climb that mountain. We were made to carry a cross, not our entire being and an endless pile of self hate. So I’m going to end this with three key ways to love yourself. 

#1 Pray, and ask God how He sees you. My spiritual director tells me this all the time, no matter what my dilemma is it always seems to somehow root back to not seeing myself the way the Father sees me. This also helps to keep that gentle balance of not being a narcissist, but also loving ourselves as we should.  Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta says “When you know how much God is in love with you, you can only live your life radiating that love.” 

#2 Do things that show you love yourself. Dress up just for fun, go on a little run, go fishing, hang with some friends, if you’re 21 go get yourself a cold one, or perhaps you’d prefer a slice of cake. Do these things in moderation of course and do it to celebrate you and your little accomplishments. Maybe you just need to celebrate the fact that you made it through a stressful day. 

#3 Say these statements out loud right now and as often as needed.

 “I ____ am a beloved (Son or Daughter) of the one true king and He Delights in me.”

“I ___ am wonderfully made, and I am loveable.”

“I ____ am not unloved, I was made for love by love”

“I _____ am good and fully loved in the eyes of the Father”