Let’s Get Started

Hello everyone! Welcome to my blog!

I’m so glad you decided to stop by and check it out! Now this post might be a little long, but I’ve got some splainin’ to do! I’ve wanted to start this blog for a while now. I’m pretty sure all bloggers say this, and like many of the guys and gals out there sharing their thoughts and lives on the internet, I asked myself “what are you waiting for?” and decided to just do it. If you want to know more about me, head over the the menu and check out my bio & then keep following this blog!

When I was in high school and for the first part of my undergrad career, I had a blog called Life of a Cathlete. It was a sweet little blog where I talked about how I lived out my Catholic faith as Division 1 college athlete. I kept up with it in high school, however, in college I was so overwhelmed with the student athlete life I eventually stopped blogging. It wasn’t the best blog in the world by any means, but it helped me grow in my faith and share the gospel.

I decided to abandon that blog because I’m not an athlete anymore. So operating under the Cathlete doesn’t apply to me. More than that, I’m also a real adult now (well working on that one still), so I wanted to start something new.


This blog is going to be a lifestyle blog of sorts. I want to talk about everything and anything. Faith, fashion, travel, my soccer career, culture, family, my current shift into the real world, and everything in between. My goal here is to be real with y’all and to share the things that excite me, enchant me, and challenge me. I’m always on the look out for the ways in which God’s grace is working in my life, and finding the joy in whatever season or circumstance I am in. I hope that this blog will be a way for me to share the ways in which grace is working in my life, and subsequently open your eyes to God’s grace working in your life.

I am by no means a professional blogger, I’m not even sure that exists. I’m going to have typos, spelling mistakes, and I can guarantee that my posts will not be perfect. Here is what I can promise you though: I will always do my best & I will always do me. I hope you stick around and to get to know me and what’s going on in my life.

In His Love,

Al

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Featured post

The Greatest Among Us

When I was a collegiate athlete, my coaches stressed every year that each and every  person was needed in order to have success. They would tell us that each of us are an integral part of the process, and play an essential role on the team. Therefore, if one player was not focused on achieving the goal, then the whole team would suffer.

Season after season, I watched my teammates and I struggle to understand this message. It seemed as if, not matter how many girls were oriented towards winning games and ultimately the championship, there was always a small group of girls who were focused on having the college experience. They wanted to win games and be successful, but not at the cost of their fun and enjoyment. They were not willing to skip out on parties or drinking, in order to commit more time to practice or studies. They were fixated on themselves and their desires. Inevitably, this toxic small became a larger group, and eventually infected the majority of the team with their ways.

Looking back, it’s really easy for me to point the finger at my old teammates for the errors in their ways and their selfishness.These girls, who refused to follow the rules and do all that was required of them, were not very nice people. They were rude, they gossiped, they slept around, they got drunk frequently and purposefully, they lied, they cheated, they stole.

However, when I read the gospel for today and see the disciples bicker over “who is the greatest” among them, my eyes are opened to the fact that God is still calling those people to holiness.  I find myself realizing that my old teammates, who inhibited team success and were frankly not very nice to others including myself, have a place in the Kingdom. God has placed something beautiful in their hearts to reveal to the world and lead others to Jesus. God desires to have them be His disciples just as much as He desires me to be disciples.

I’ve met Jesus and given my life to Him, and I still struggle to love him and to love others as I ought. I wasn’t always kind to my teammates, I was often bitter and angry in my heart at my teammates, I wished they would be unsuccessful and learn their lesson. I was, and still am, just like the disciples pointing out the flaws in my brothers and sisters to make myself look superior.

However, Jesus is not a coach concerned about winning championships or impressing anyone. Jesus is concerned with souls, specifically the salvation of souls. He doesn’t look at our steps and compare them to anyone else’s. He doesn’t look down on us when we misstep. Jesus is only concerned with helping each soul take that next step in the direction towards Heaven.

We should desire this too, that every person may take a step away from the things of this world and instead take a step towards Heaven. We should not only desire this, but also encourage this and help our brothers and sisters fine tune those little habits in our life so that they may fully orient themselves towards Christ. It’s our job, as followers and disciples of Christ, to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of who they are and who they are called to be. Emphasizing that not only do they play an important role in the Kingdom, but they also play a unique and unrepeatable role that no other soul in existence can play.

 

Rich in Love

Today I was reading a page out of my devotional from Take Up and Read, and the lyrics of 10,000 Reasons started to play in my head. Particularly the line that goes You’re rich in love and slow to anger, your name is great and your heart is kind. This lyric, of course comes from Psalm 145.

I kept reading on in my devotional, trying to focus on the passage and reflection, but those words just kept coming back into my mind. I’m a stubborn one you see, and sometimes I’m deaf to the Spirit in my headstrong pursuit of finishing my prayers and getting things done. Yet the Spirit persisted, and finally, as I pondered what in the world the Lord was trying to speak to me today it dawned on me.

Is my gut reaction to situations, circumstances, and people rich in love & slow to anger?

Spoiler alert. It’s not.

Especially when it comes to loving people God has placed in my life, I get tunnel vision. Upon seeing that my little sister has used all my toothpaste, shampoo, and conditioner, I immediately am enraged by her lack of consideration. Whenever I disagree with my boyfriend, I immediately strive to be “right” and prove him “wrong.” Whenever I’m late to something, I expect others to accommodate to my schedule instead being more prudent with my time. When those around me are falling to sin, I immediately judge them for not knowing better.

The bonus scripture in my devotional today is from 2 Corinthians: 7-8. It says “you should FORGIVE and ENCOURAGE him instead or else the person might be overwhelmed by excessive pain. Therefore, I urge yo to reaffirm your love for him.” I looked this verse up on biblehub.com, which provides the Greek, Hebrew, Latin, and English translation for bible verses. Unfortunately, since the bible has been translated multiple times, some of the meaning actually gets lost in translation. Anyways, in the Greek translation of this verse, I discovered that instead of using love, in a philia(friendship love) sense, Paul was love in an agape sense.

What is agape? Christ like love. Sacrificial love in which one lays their life down for the good of another. Paul was urging us not to just pat someone on the back and say it’s okay to sin or scream and shame a person when they mess up, but to instead remind them that they were worth dying for. That the God of the universe was so in love with them and couldn’t stand the idea of eternity without them, so he bore their sins and those of the whole world, so that if we choose to love  Him and live for Him in this life. . . we obtain Him in the eternal life.

For me personally, I don’t need someone dog piling on the criticisms and critiques when I mess up. Honestly, I dig myself in a hole of shame most times. I beat myself up because I know better than to turn my back on the Lord. That’s what the devil wants to see happen too. He wants to see us subject our self to excessive pain, and focus on our shortcoming instead of on our Savior.

We live in the world, but were called to not be of the world. Sometimes that can be hard when we are surrounded by so many voices that seek to distract us and pull us away from our God. Instead of being one more voice of criticism and negativity, what if we could be the one voice that calls others to a life rich in love and abundant in joy? Encouraging our brothers and sisters to be all they were created to be, and leading them to Christ Divine Mercy?

A Sad Farewell

A year ago from today, I was preparing to leave the United States to work in Spain for the summer as an Au Pair. Before my big trip, I spent 9 months fundraising to get myself to Spain and prepare my heart to serve the Lord. For those who don’t know, an Au Pair is a live in nanny, that functions as a cultural/language ambassador. Au Pair means “equal footing,” because the greater purpose of an Au Pair is to share culture and language. This also means that, families who hire Au Pairs also share a responsibility in sharing their culture with their Au Pair. Au Pairs typically don’t work as many hours as a traditional nanny, and are supposed to be viewed as apart of whatever family they are working for.

I planned on living/working in Spain from May to mid August, but ended up leaving my job mid July instead. Unfortunately, I had a sort of horror experience as an Au Pair. There’s a movie called The Nanny Diaries, where Scarlet Johansson plays the role of a nanny for an affluent family. That movie is a comedy, but it shines a light on the sad reality that there are a lot of broken families out there, who bring nannies into their home to raise their children. These children, are often suffering and poorly behaved, because they don’t want a nanny they want their parents. Watch this movie, and you’ll get a glimpse of what I went through. Ultimately, God very clearly spoke to me, and told me that I didn’t deserve to be mistreated and that I needed to leave my job.

What I went through was traumatic, but through God’s grace I’ve found healing, forgiveness, and ultimately peace. What I’ve struggled with the most, is the fact that I had to leave my job. Quitting is not apart of my vocabulary, and leaving made me feel like I was letting God down. I felt so called to go abroad and share His love with the family I worked for. I was so determined to introduce the kids I cared for to Jesus and show them the beauty of Catholicism.

Before my trip, I thought I would leave my job in August in similar fashion to Paul bidding farewell at Miletus. I imagined establishing deep friendships with the family I worked for, and dreamed of us all loving Christ together. I truly thought that I would establish relationships in faith that would last beyond the summer of 2017.

“When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him,for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship.” Acts 20: 36-38

I couldn’t understand why God would sent me somewhere, only to have me tossed out like garbage on the street. For months after leaving my job, I was disturbed by the way things turned out. I was really hard on myself and blamed myself for the fact that the kids did not know Jesus through the time I spent with them. I kept playing the game in my head where I would re-watch that whole summer in my head over and over again, and analyze where I went wrong. I thought to myself  “if I would have only done x, y, and z, then this wouldn’t have happened and the kids would be living in Jesus’ love.” 

After beating myself up for 5 months, I started to realize that I needed to let God into my heart and help me make sense of everything. I held in the guilt, heart break, confusion, and frustration for so long, all the emotions eventually started to pour out of my heart until I just couldn’t hold it in anymore. In prayer, I began to open my heart to God and let Him know how I felt. I started seeking spiritual direction, in order to verbalize what was swirling around in my head. Eventually, I started letting friends and family into my situation and letting people know that I wasn’t okay. Turning my face towards Christ, and letting His light shine on the dark corners of my heart, allowed His love to heal my soul and give me clarity on what happened to me.

In letting God speak His truth into my heart, I realized that I was not the Savior. I know you’re probably shocked at reading this Divine revelation, but really and truly, I think that in our quest and zeal for sharing the gospel we often forget that Jesus is the only one who can save souls. As disciples of Christ, we have power through the Holy Spirit to speak the gospel truth, helps others find healing, extend mercy, serve the community, and more. . . But Christ is the One Savior, One Redeemer, One God.

As someone who has been a disciple for a number of years now, I can often be hard on myself and think that it’s all up to me. I can forget who I am and think that adherence the the truth is dependent upon my ability to share, communicate, and love. Although scripture tells us to “boast in the Lord,” we must remember that we are not the Lord. Our responsibility is not salvation, but only obedience to His will. God the Father is the One with the plan, He is the One who should be directing our steps and instructing our actions. Our role is to simply follow his will, and let him guide our life.

This realization led me to this conclusion: I was meant to go to Spain, to love the children I cared for and spread the seeds of Christ. I was not meant to stay and nurture those seeds. I was not meant to stick around and watch them mature. I was simply meant to deliver the seeds of Christ, and then let Him take care of the rest. I so desperately wish that I was called to walk with those kiddos, and be there to affirm them in Christ’s love. However, if I would have stayed in that situation, and continued to put myself in danger and allow myself to be mistreated, then I would have been going against the Father’s will. Therefore, I wouldn’t have been proclaiming the truth of God and showing the children how to walk in faith. I would have just been more noise confusing them, and exposing them to more instances of exploitation, abuse, and poor behavior.

I think back to that summer all the time. A piece of my heart will forever be in Spain, and with those kids. Some days are better than others, and I still have moments where I ask God why. I pray for my kids all the time, and I hope to see them one day again in Heaven. Now I’m at a place, where I’ve realized more than I want to be there to nurture those children, I want God’s will to be done. I know that on my own, I was only able to do so much for that family. No matter what I did, no matter how much I loved, no matter how much I cared, I alone was not enough to attend to the needs of that family. What they really needed was Jesus. I left the seeds of faith in Spain, and Jesus will continue to cultivate and care for those seeds.

 

A Seat at the Table

Ps 113:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8

I can be hard on myself.

Often times in my pursuit of Jesus, I let my humility turn into self-deprecation.

I cut myself off from grace by being so hard on myself, and making my faith all about obtaining perfection instead of obtaining intimacy with my Jesus.

Especially now that I work in Ministry and my job is the conversion of souls, I need to remind myself every single day that God has a specific purpose for me in this world.

In the past few months, I’ve been doing so by incorporating daily Mass and Adoration into my schedule. Those who frequent daily mass, knock my socks off. They are so holy and so open with their faith. Seeing my older and wiser brothers and sisters in Christ, proclaiming His name and praying so fearlessly, inspire me so much.

However, sometimes when I watch my fellow daily Mass goers, celebrate our Lord, I feel insufficient. I know I should be paying attention to Jesus and not the people around me, but I’m a human, what can I say? I see these beautiful men and women, so devoted to Jesus, and I automatically feel like I’m not good enough.

This morning, was one of those mornings where I was feeling especially insecure. I was tired and I had a really hard time praying the rosary. “You’re such a joke,” is what I kept saying to myself.

But what God revealed to me in the scriptures today, was that each and everyone of us are called to take part in the mission of converting souls back to Jesus, and are invited to sit with Him at the table.

Mass is a foretaste of the Heavenly feast that awaits us, and reminds us that Jesus is calling us all to take part in the Eucharist and remain in His love. As I went up to receive my sweet Jesus, I watched my brothers and sisters receive Him too. It warmed my heart to watch them encounter Our Lord. As I looked at each person, I imagined what gifts and talents they bring to the Body of Christ, and I wondered how Jesus would use them to bring about grace and peace into this broken world.

We’re all called to take a seat at the table and be one family in Christ Jesus. We’re all different in personality, talent, and temperament, yet Jesus has a unique plan for each of us to reveal His love to the world. Often times, we let the success and good fortune of others detract from our own self worth or deter us from taking our seat at the table. However, we’re all needed, we’re all necessary, we’re all important to God’s incredible plan to bring about Salvation to the world.

The Lord will give him a seat with the leaders of his people

Starting the Day off Right

Over the past few months I’ve been trying to fine tune my little habits and orient them towards Jesus. Mother Teresa used to say that we should focus on performing “little acts of great love,” and I really and truly strive to do that in my personal relationship with Jesus.

One little thing I’ve been working on over the past 6 months, is changing my morning habits. Specifically, making sure the first thing I do in the morning is pray. Usually, and honestly most of the time, my alarm goes off, I go to turn it off, and then spend 5-10 minutes on my phone. By the time I snap back to reality and realize I have places to go and things to do, I’m rushing out of bed to get ready and end up neglecting my prayer.

I wonder how different my life would be if the first thing I did every single day was consecrate the day to Jesus and Mary? Surely it would help me in my pursuit of orienting everything I do towards Jesus. If I start out the day with prayer, then I’m sure there is a better chance the rest of my day will be prayerful and focused on Jesus.

Beginning our day with a message from social media and the internet, probably isn’t the best way to reaffirm us of who we are and who be belong to. It’s definitely hard to not look at our phones, because they play so many different roles for us like alarm clock, GPS, mailbox, telephone, etc. But one role phones don’t play, is that of our Lord and Savior Jesus.

In a world where eyes are constantly fixed to screen, I invite you all to fix your eyes upon Jesus. Let His light shine on your face first thing in the morning and may you lay down for sleep at night at peace in His love. Even if we don’t have time for a long prayer, if we could all just begin the day with the simple prayer below, I’m positive that we will be able to remain more fully in His love. Our lives will no longer be in sync to the sound of text messages going off, but instead to the beautiful rhythm of the heart of Jesus.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank you for this day, your love, and your cross. May Resurrection Joy be with me every step of this day, and may everything I do be consecrated to you. Amen 

Who You Know, Not What You Know

Acts 18:1-8

Before starting college, I was energized and excited to have the opportunity to share the gospel with my soccer teammates and my fellow classmates. In my head I had this romanticized idea of sharing the Good News, and thought that it would be all kicking butt and taking names and leading people to Jesus. I thought if I studied enough apologetics and read my catechism, I’d have all the answers and convert the masses!

My freshman year of college, my roommate and my boyfriend started the process of converting to the Catholic Faith. Walking with both of these people was a very fruitful and frustrating experience. I struggled with my own faith, as I watched two people that I cared about the most, contemplate and discern the faith that guided and provided purpose for my existence. I struggled to hear them say “I don’t understand this” or “I don’t know if I believe that.”

In the first reading today, we see Saint Paul very frustrated in his pursuit of sharing the good news. I so relate to his words and emotions, because that’s exactly how I felt. In my eyes, the answer was right in front of my roommate and boyfriend. . . all they needed to do was open their eyes!

“When they opposed him and reviled him,he shook out his garments and said to them,”Your blood be on your heads!'”

Through this experience my eyes were opened to the fact I was working with people. I know that sounds strange, but I was so focused on explaining knowledge and information to my roommate and boyfriend, I lost sight of the fact that I needed to be intentional and relational with them.

I think often times we get so hung up on getting people to know things about God, we forget that in order for true discipleship to occur people need to actually know God. Before we introduce to them knowledge and information, we need to introduce them to the Jesus Christ.

I’m not an expert on evangelization by any means, and I’m still learning how to better evangelize every single day. However, I use to think that the fate of conversion rested upon my ability to explain the doctrine of the Church. The reality is that Jesus is the Savior, not me. The Salvation of Souls does not rest upon my shoulders. I can help contribute to the salvation of souls, but Jesus is the only one who saves. At the end of the day, our hearts are not thirsting for knowledge of God, but to be loved and known by God.

Not Time Yet Acts 17:15, 22—18:1 & Jn 16:12-15

I’m almost 2 months into my job, and so far it has been great. I’ve felt so moved and so blessed to be able to tell people “I love my job! I love what I do!” How can I not though? My job is to create events for youth so that they can encounter Christ the Lord? Can’t get any better than that!

However, my job is like any other job in the sense that there are ups & downs. Like everything in life, there are good times and tough times. This Monday marked the beginning as an indefinite season of uncertainty for our youth ministry department. Our director was just asked to take a position at the Diocese, and start this position effective immediately.

Despite the fact that I am so pumped for my director, and her new call by the Bishop, the last few days have been filled with stress and confusion. Where do we go as a department? Who will replace our director? Who will fill the other vacant positions we have? These questions are swirling around in my mind, and the minds of my colleagues. As of now, we’ve been told limited information and that we will get more information this coming Monday.

To be honest I’m struggling. I’m struggling because I want answers now. All I can see are problems in front of me, and I cannot wait till Monday to get to the bottom of all these answers. So Jesus’ words from the Gospel today make me a tad bit salty, because I don’t want to wait. I want to know everything right now! As in this very moment!!

“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth,
he will guide you to all truth.”

As I read and reflect on these words, I know with great certainty, that the Lord is calling me to remain in His love and trust in His plan. Despite my great desire to know what is to come, the Spirit has made me aware of the fact that even if I knew all the information I desired, my life is still not my own and I am not in control. Although knowing everything that is to come would be nice, this knowledge would only provide me a false sense of security.

At the end of the day it is God who is in control. As it says in the first reading from the Act of the Apostles “it is he who gives to everyone life and breath and everything. He made from one the whole human race to dwell on the entire surface of the earth, and he fixed the ordered seasons and the boundaries of their regions, so that people might seek God, even perhaps grope for him and find him, though indeed he is not far from any one of us.” 

Although my heart and the hearts of those I work with, are discontented and feeling lost without a director, we have hope. We have hope because we know that insomuch that we recognize our lack of control and power, we are able to give God all the control and all the power over our lives and circumstances. Although this is a tough time, the nature of my work does not change and my Lord does not change. Through this trial, as in all trials we face, God is inviting us to remain in His love and let Him be in control

 

His Way is Better Jn 16:5-11

 

In the Gospel passage for today, Jesus breaks the news to the disciples that He will not be staying with them, but instead returning to Heaven to be with the Father. I imagine hearing these words were crushing to the disciples. They already went through the pain and sadness of watching Jesus die. In their minds they were probably thinking “oh no, not again.”

Jesus senses the sadness in His friends. Behind the sadness, He also see their fear and doubts in their ability to live out His truth without Him being physically present on earth. So He assures them that “it is better for you that I go.” I’m sure at the time, the disciples heard these words and thought “yeah right.” But because they trusted in Jesus, and believed that He was in fact the risen Lord, they continued to listen and trust that He had what was best in mind.

Turns out. . . He did! After ascending to Heaven, the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, descended upon the disciples so they could be closer to God than ever before. God was no longer confined as a person standing in one specific place at one specific time. Instead, He could intimately dwell in each of them for all of time. Through the Holy Spirit, we are granted the gift of inner closeness with God, which is better than having the person of Jesus walking around on earth.

Often times, we get so caught in trying to figure out the plan and the future. We cannot see past our feelings and desires, and act according to our own will and doubt that God can be trusted with the desires of our heart. But the reality is that God wants the best AND more for us and our lives. Through living a life of virtue and placing our lives at the feet of Jesus, God carries out goodness in our life beyond even our wildest dreams. When we hand over the reigns of our life, God leads us to places “beyond our wants, beyond our fears, from death into life.”  

We have a good good Father, who wants THE best for us. Don’t be afraid if He takes a look at your plans, and says He has something better in mind. His plans always lead to complete joy and abundant life.

 

 

Will We Let Him Heal? Acts 16:11-15

Over the last 3 and a half years, I’ve had the privileged of babysitting for a sweet family in my neighborhood. I’ve been watching their 3 year old, Sophie, for the majority of her life. Watching her grow from a tiny fragile baby into a tumultuous and unafraid 3 year old has been a beautiful experience.

 

Last week I took Soph to the park. She swung on the little kid swing for an hour and a half. She would have continued to swing for the remainder of our time, if it were not for another child who wanted his turn on the swing. Soph got off the swing without a fuss, however, she still wanted to swing. She ran over to the second swing set, and began to swing on the big kid swing. To my surprise, she did really well. . . .until she said “I’m done” and proceeded to hop off the swing mid air.

Immediately tears filled her eyes and she let out a scream. I scooped her up, and tried to sooth her. She wasn’t hurt, she was more or less startled and uncomfortable from having those dreaded wood-chips get all in her hair and clothes.

After trying to sooth her for 5 minutes with no change, I set her down to get all of the wood chips out of her pants and hair. However, little Soph was so hysterical I couldn’t touch her without her squirming and kicking away. I tried to fight her and get her to sit still. I explained that I was trying to help, but nothing I did calmed her down. She kept yelling “The pokey chips hurt! The pokey chips hurt!”

So I stopped, took a step back, looked her in the eyes, and said calmly “As soon as you stop moving and calm down, I can make the pokey chips go away.” To this she screamed and screamed and screamed. I sat there and waited for several minutes, until she suddenly stopped. She looked at me with her big tear filled brown eyes and said “pwease help.”

As I meditate and look at the example of Lydia from the first reading today, I think back to my encounter with little Soph and how it reminds me of my own disposition before Jesus. In times of uncertainty and trouble, I approach the Lord thrashing, crying, and screaming. I demand that He helps and yell for Him to come save me.

My Lord, rich in love, slow to anger, and ever so tender, comes to me in my need at once. He sees my hurts and my sorrows, and His heart breaks at the sight of my pain. He whispers reassuring words to me and lets me know He is there. .  but just as I could not get rid of the “pokey chips” until Soph settled down and let me help her, Jesus will not attend to my wounds and my needs until I have settled down and remain still.

The example of Lydia, in the first reading from Acts, reminds me that my disposition before the Lord is imperative to the saving of my soul. If I want healing from Jesus, it is not enough for me to just come before Him. That is a great first step, but if I truly want healing and care, I need to cooperate and compliant. I need to have a Spirit that is ready to let Him actually heal me. I need to let Him be my God, my Savior, my Lord, my Healer.

Often times we can be so consumed in pain, we fail to see our Lord standing before us waiting to heal us. But He is there my brothers and my sisters, standing right in front of us, waiting to pour out His love. My question to you is will you let your Lord give you healing? Will you approach the Divine Healer with fear and defiance? Or will you be like Lydia, who approached God with an open heart and open soul, ready to receive the fullness of His love and life?

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