Lead Me Blindly

The month of May is always a time of transition for me. School ends, new projects begin, jobs start, and by the time I scrape up the pieces of my heart it comes time to scatter it about again. It’s no wonder May is the month of Mary. I mean we need her all the time, but there’s something about a mother’s touch during a time of transition that just hits different.

    May seems to always have me caught between missing the past and fretting the future, especially this year. I find that even though things have slowed down and I’m not working anymore that time seems to slip right out of my hands. Like how is it already the 28th? I’ve written up 4 blogs over the past few weeks and haven’t published a single one. They either felt too bland or too much. Therefore I tried to focus on the important thing, my prayer life. Even though it felt like I was praying more than ever, it felt like I was praying less. Which leads me to my main point. We must surrender. We have to let go. Let God close the doors that you are wedging open. Let him open the doors you have boarded shut.

    When prayer comes from a place of fear it is weak. When prayer comes from a place of faith it is strong.  Fear makes us hyper focus on sin and mistakes, press the breaks when we should have hit the gas, and hide from a father who loves us. Worst of all fear takes us to a place of pride and we refuse to cry out. When we get to this place we will sit and thank God for the good things, obsess over our sins, become anxious, irritable. We will talk to God about the weather, but we refuse to just say, “God I’m scared”. How do I know? Because this is the valley I’ve stumbled in a lot lately. 

    Maybe not just stumbled, but crumbled. I’ve never had an anxiety attack before, but now I can say I have. I’ve read emails about leaving for NY and cried. I’ve said lots of goodbyes, passed the exit for the airport and cried. I have refused to tell my mom about little things because I didn’t want anyone to share in my heart ache. I knew that God wanted me to be happy. I knew God loved me, and even my family and friends. But I did not know that anyone cared to know that I was scared. Scared of leaving, scared of being forgotten, scared of not knowing what comes next. It was not like I had this one big eureka moment where God came in and crushed the serpent. It took all month, and will probably continue over these coming months. Why? Because this is my heart we are talking about here. Something God loves and cherishes. My heart is not a place that he sends to the quick fix clinic. He is gentle. He takes my heart and makes it new, with slow and gentle care. God knows I’m human. He knows I’m fragile, and in my frailty sometimes I forget that He is God.

    What I learned from all this is that there’s a difference between being scared, and living in fear. Being scared is a natural human reaction. Holiness does not prevent us from feeling our God given human emotions. Fear however is not God given. It’s man made, not God given. It’s equivalent to godlessness. For fear is the exact opposite of love, and God is love. Is He not?

Fear separates us from God. Like love it pushes and pulls on emotions (good or bad), but unlike love fear pulls us away. Whether it’s feelings of shame, happiness, excitement, anger, whatever it may be.  Fear says God doesn’t care. Fear says you’re alone. Fear says no one else feels this way. Fear asks you to be more, to be different. Love however, says God does care. Love says you’re not alone, and love meets you where you’re at. Love shatters the darkness and fills us rather than emptying us.

    I found that when I let go and admitted that I was scared that God gave me the exact consolation and graces I needed. Not only that but He pulled me out of the places of loneliness and pride. Which allowed me to be vulnerable with my loved ones. I realized they had the exact same fears. I realized as I shared these fears with God and others that they faded away. Not because I found a solution or a loophole. Rather they faded because perfect love casts out all fear. That perfect love is not us, it’s God. So let go my friends, and let God.

That’s all I really got for y’all, but I hope you can take something from it and really pray with it.

Peace and Blessings,

Mikayla

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.

My Humble Abode

    First off I feel the need to explain to all my readers and apologize to my mom if she finds this embarrassing. I want to say that I am very aware that there are people way worse off then I am. And I am grateful, but just like you I am selfish and prideful at times. 

Now I want you to take a long hard look at that picture above. (Shout out to Hannah for inspiring this recent thought in my prayer.) That picture above I took the other day as I sat on my back steps talking to Jesus.

 I said “Why am I so ashamed of my house? I should be grateful to have a house, but Jesus I hate my house. More than anything I hate our kitchen.” (Like it’s so ugly we got 3rd place in a ugly kitchen contest)

    Jesus responded with love like he always does and I felt very called to take a picture of the part of my house I hate the most. He told me I should look at it like I should the ugly parts of my heart and learn to love it. Often we get so caught up in covering up the parts of our life that show we are a failed god. We cover our poverty whether material, physical, or spiritual and put it out of everyone’s sight. We don’t want the world to know we are broken. 

    I look at that picture now and I no longer hear the roar of my pride saying to delete it. Jesus has come into this place where I feel like I’m lacking and he has shown me the beauty of it. I look at the side of that counter and the sharpie scribbles from when I was young. I see the little holes from where we used to take my dad’s hammer and play Bob the Builder. I see the cracks next to the door frame where my sister and I would pick at the crumbling drywall. I see scratch marks on the basement door from the dogs who wanted to come down stairs so they could curl up with me. I see the crystal door knob and it reminds of how the ones on the other doors used to fall out. It hurt if it fell on your foot, but made a satisfying sound as it rolled across the floor. I see a gap between the sideboard in the countertop because we moved it to install a dishwasher when I was like 10 or 12. It was so exciting at the time because I thought it meant I would never have to wash dishes again, but it turns out you still have to rinse them. I see old fashion key holes that my sister and I thought were so fun to peek through. I see a door that I used to be so quick to shut because I thought there were monsters downstairs. I see stains left behind from children who were lucky enough to have food in their fridge. Mom could have scrubbed them up, but instead she valued spending time with her kids. My parents could have done a lot to improve that kitchen, but a beautiful kitchen was never their priority. Loving their family was their priority.  Being at their games, concerts, paying for trips, club fees, putting food on the table that was their priority. And as I write this I want to cry. I see the happy faces drawn all over that board, and I think we were so happy. We were happy kids. God has shown me something beautiful in the most crummy crusty picture on my camera roll. So go ahead and think what you want. But I invite you to find the crummiest place in your life. Maybe it’s your house, your heart, your body, I don’t know, but let God speak into it. 

    Let the voice of God roar over the sound of your pride. Let him humble you so you can again find gratitude for what you have been given. You are a failed god, we all are. We aren’t rich, we aren’t perfect, but we are still so loved. Jesus Himself was born in a filthy stable. The King of all Kings was crusty and crumby, and died in agony, broken and bloody. But He was God, and he walked out of His grave. Literally conquering it all. Because what we lack is never what we needed, what we needed is to be loved radically by Him. To remember we are created and chosen, that we already have it all, long before you earn your first dollar.

No longer do I look at this picture and feel shame. I look at this picture and feel loved. I feel like my heart is accurately represented by this picture, already so loved and cherished by him. He gazes upon me and finds me worthy of his love, because at the end of the day there’s nothing wrong with poverty, but there’s something wrong with pride.

Jesus you are so good, help me to trust in you always. Help me to let you into the places where my pride has built shame. Amen

Relationship Advice for the Youth

Just this past Thursday I was talking to one of my students. For confidentiality purposes we will call him Daniel. Daniel is a student that I’ve really connected with this semester, and he often comes in and tells me about girls that are causing him trouble. We have this inside joke about DTR, which stands for “Define the relationship,” because Daniel always seemed to have girls who think they are more than just a friend. Because we have this little inside joke, I decided to tell him when I had to do some DTR of my own. 

I said “Hey Daniel, you know I went on a date the other day”

And he said “Oooo Miss, tell me more” So I told him about the date and he of course asked “Did you DTR” and I said “Yes, he asked me to be his girlfriend.”

“Well I’m happy for you Miss.” Then he paused and said “Wait, but you be going to the Bronx, soon. Is he going too?” 

“Nope he’ll stay here” I replied.

Looking cross he said “Miss how you gonna know he ain’t cheating?”

I smiled at him and said “You know Daniel that’s the thing. When you find somebody who’s is willing to value you as a whole person, and share common morals or values that’s not the kind of thing that crosses your mind as a concern.”

He looked down and then looked back up at me and said “I don’t got no good role models like that Miss. Would you believe me if I told you I’m one of ten kids”

 I nodded my head.

“Okay Miss, would you believe me if I told you I was one of fifteen?”

Shrugging my shoulders I said “Yes I would, let me guess they are mostly half siblings?” 

He cut me short and said “Every single one of them. I don’t have any full blood siblings”

“Miss this is my idea of relationships, they cheat and they end. But I am so happy to have you as my teacher Miss. You have given me a lot of good advice and you set a good example of how a relationship can be”

Then we talked more about door holding, and being a gentlemen. It was already 5 min after class at this point. So he headed out the door and looking back said “Make good choices Miss, be good and I’ll see you next week” 

Which is the exact thing I tell all my students as they walk out the door, Daniel always just likes to beat me to saying it. But I love that. I love that he is picking up on those little things, and imitating them with sincerity. It shows me as a teacher that he values these good things. 

I waved and said “I love you Daniel, and I’ll be good, but you better be good too.”

I share this little story with you because it highlights the reality of our culture. So many people do not have a role model to look up to for good relationships. Not even romantic ones, but just relationships with anyone in general. Our culture waves utilitarian relationships in the air like they are actually going to make you happy. Then people who are living in true happy relationships are hidden from the worlds eyes, for reasons I don’t know of. I think part of it is our culture does not want to accept the fact that people CAN be happy while being physically and emotionally chaste.
I watched a video this week called relationship memes and it created a heart breaking image. It’s not that these people were “loving” too much, rather they were loving to little. In one clip captioned “When bae says he’s having a guys night” the girl was spraying her perfume all over his groin and neck area. In another it said “First time watching netflix together” and showed people about to you know what, then it said “After one year” and they were chomping down snacks, with eyes glued to the TV screen, not even sitting next to each other”

I sat there and thought how sad. How sad is it that you have to mark your territory and you can’t actually trust him? And the places you’re spraying with perfume tell me that you think he values sex more than he values you. And in all honesty you have every good reason to think that. The other clip was just as sad. First time together and you take all you can get, and get tired of it one year later? If only you knew the depth and beauty of the soul you are spending time with it. One year in and you’ve seriously gotten bored of what they have to offer. Like ugh, there’s so much more to both of you. But you’re okay just engulfing in pleasures of food and entertainment, and acting like that other person isn’t even there. You just exist in each others lives for pleasure.

I look at these memes and get sad. My students and many other young people look at it and think that’s just  how it’s supposed to be. They have no idea that there’s so much more to love. So they settle for relationships like this. And I can tell you from experience it doesn’t lead to happiness. In fact you feel more lonely in those relationships, then you did back when you scrolled past them on instagram wishing it could be you. Ladies and Gents have some standards and don’t settle. Because you are so precious in His eyes and you deserve to be with someone who values all of you, every square inch of your body and soul. And to my readers who are already very aware of that truth, get out there and speak it. And not only speak it, but live it, because young people like Daniel need to know what’s good. No cap. 😉 

May the love of Christ be with you all this Easter season.

“Do Exactly as He Tells You”

Do you ever have those moments in life where you know that your heart will not be at peace until you do what you know is right? (Even when the right choice does not make the other choice necessarily wrong) Do you have those moments after you made that right choice where your heart aches a little? And then that ache of your emotions makes you wonder if you made the right choice. Or maybe there’s a time where you had to move on and let go of a really great community? I think we all have had these moments, and these moments are hard. These moments call us to act not on our emotions, but purely on faith alone. It calls us to trust so deeply.  At times you feel like you’re being led blindly, but you have to grasp tightly to the truth of God’s goodness and that His plans are for you even when it does not feel like it.

Sometimes God makes us let go of good things. Not because He wants less for us, but rather more. We were made for more than just temporary comforts. Honestly for me letting go of good harmless things is hard. I struggle a lot. I constantly ask myself “Did God really say that?” or “Am I really making the right choice?” Then my emotions start to trigger doubt, and my mind floods with thoughts, and I can’t see Him or hear His voice. What always brings me back to my feet is solid advice from my old spiritual director. She told me, “In the face of despair do not make changes.” In fact it reminds me of a painting I did for my cross country coach in high school. In the painting was a runner and there was a quote across the top that read “Pain is only the devil tempting you to give up.” And it’s true. Let’s just be aware of the spiritual reality here. The devil wants your soul so badly, and nothing is more pure in love and holiness then choosing the selfless option. So when God calls us to let go of someone or something that is hard to let go of, the devil is going to attack you. He loses his grip because he is incapable of going through an act of humility with you. I mean look at Mary. She constantly made these decisions, and she did it so well, but her heart was pierced because just like us she was human. Letting go of who she loved the most for the greater good hurt her. 

I think a great thing to meditate on in these moments is not only the crucifixion, or the annunciation, but rather the wedding feast at Cana. At the wedding feast in Cana we see Mary and Jesus’ hearts shine with humility. Mary in this moment is recognizing another’s need, and calls it to her sons attention. To which he responds “Woman, how does this concern me?” Which reveals that what she is asking for is so much more than wine. I mean Jesus could have just gone in secret and turned the water into wine, but He didn’t. In fact He didn’t just go do it Himself at all. No! He worked a miracle through the most lowly people in the room, the servants. And hold onto those servants for a second, I’ll come back to that. Now back to Mary, she’s not just asking for more wine, she is asking her son to reveal Himself. She is basically telling Jesus I love you and I know you, and I know that these people need you. But in order to serve them I know I must let you go. And Jesus is so aware of this, in fact He tells her, “My hour has not yet come.” And I could go on about that, but I’ll leave that as a good meditation point for prayer. Just meditate on the internal conversion going on between the most pure hearts the world has ever held during this moment.

Okay back to the servants, why them? Everything mentioned in scripture is intentional. So think about it. These servants were there to serve. They weren’t there for a good time, no they were there to make sure everyone else was catered to. Jesus reveals Himself to them, the meek and humble of heart. And Mary is part of this too, for she intentionally turns to the servants and says “Do exactly as He tells you”. And notice Jesus doesn’t just make a little wine, but an over abundance. And even the headwaiter notes that it is far superior then the first. This passage is so rich in symbolism, but the point I’m trying to make here is this. If we are meek and humble, and stay close to Jesus and Mary we will be satisfied. Like these servants, if we are willing to be obedient God will work miracles through us. We will be asked to let go or run out of good things, but the Lord has a finer wine in store for us. When we drink of His cup our joy will be made complete. But it’s not going to be easy. 

There are times where are emotions are going to tug our hearts.Good things are hard to let go of.  But Like Father Gabe told me once “If you have to chose between two good things chose the selfless option.” If you’re heart aches that’s okay. Feelings affect our gut and mind, but our heart is in sync with love. Which I will tell you time and time again is a choice, not a mere feeling. 

And know this. When you feel that ache know Our blessed Mother is near and is tending to your aid. For she is close to those who humble themselves for the sake of her son. She empathizes with those who mourn and grieve, because she above all others knows well what it’s like to give up the greatest gift the world has ever received. And she knows well that it is worth it.

 P.S. I know my thoughts kind of jump all over a little bit and don’t paint a full picture, but I invite you to take the part that struck your heart and go pray with it. I feel like it’s best to leave it open so you can take what you need and pray with it.