Do Not Be Afraid

In Matthew 1:20, an angel of the Lord tells Joseph “do not be afraid,” as he was betrothed to Mary who was found with child through the Holy Spirit.

I can’t even image how afraid both Mary and Joseph were after an angel of God came to them and told them that Mary would give birth to the Son of God, but still they both said YES to God’s plan for their lives. They knew that it wasn’t going to be an easy journey, yet they trusted in God’s plan. Even Joseph and Mary needed to hear those four words, “Do not be afraid.”

Today those four words was exactly what I needed to hear: “Do not be afraid.” 

Happy Birthday Mary!

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God’s Got Our Six

“God has huge plans for you – and before you can fulfill one of them, you have to believe that you were made for greatness.” Mark Hart

“Embrace this one solitary truth- you were born to become the-best-verison-of-yourself- and it will change your life more than anything you have ever learned.” ~ Matthew Kelly

Both of these quotes appeared on my On This Day news feed on Facebook today, and yesterday I wrote these words on my blog post: “I still have a lot to figure out, but I do know that God has amazing plans for my life. I just need to rest in the love of Christ.”Yesterday also marked the three month anniversary since my knee surgery.

These past few months have been difficult facing recovery and the unknown future that lay ahead of me. There are times in our lives that we need to be reminded of the plans God has in store for us and that we are meant to be the “best-version-of-yourself.” God is patient with us. He reminds us over and over again that he’s got our six. (NCIS reference, which is one awesome TV show! 😛 For those aren’t familiar with the term, God’s got our back!)

I don’t know what God’s plan is for my writing, all I know is that for know I’ll take it a day at a time. Starting with these daily reflections.

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Jeremiah 29:11

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Peace in the Darkness

Today I was reminded of the simple fact of Christ’s love for us.

I sat in my parish Chapel in front of Christ in Eucharistic Adoration riddled with questions. It didn’t take long for peace to settle in my heart. I didn’t magically have to answers to the many questions on my mind but sitting in that quiet Chapel I was at peace.
I was reminded of:

Romans 8:35, 37

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

I realized that I can conquer all things: doubts, fears, distresses, and anxieties, through the love of Christ who died for my sins. I still have a lot to figure out, but I do know that God has amazing plans for my life. I just need to rest in the love of Christ. Through Christ, we can have peace in the darkness.

Finding My Treasure

So I had intended this post was supposed to go out yesterday but here goes nothing…

Since May of 2007, I’ve had four left knee dislocations. The four culprits in chronological order: I’ve tripped when running, tripped upstairs when going to class, tripped on a sidewalk during VBS, and lastly I  dislocated my knee while doing jumping jacks.

Beginning in January, I experienced new pain in my knee on the left side of my knee. I took a break from working out trying knee therapy exercise instead but nothing worked. I scheduled an appointment with a knee specialist at the beginning of May. It took less than five minutes for him to recommend surgery after hearing my symptoms and viewing my x-rays. It got to where it hurt to walk as I waited to have the surgery.

On June 4, I underwent knee surgery on my left knee. I had a medial patella-femoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction and arthroscopic chondroplasty. According to Emory Healthcare, “Medial patella-femoral ligament (MPFL) reconstruction is a procedure used to correct serious and recurring dislocation of the kneecap. MPFL is the major ligament which stabilizes the patella and helps in preventing patellar subluxation (partial dislocation) or dislocation.” Arthroscopic chondroplasy is done to repair an area of damage cartilage in the knee.

On Wednesday, my stitches were removed. I got to view the arthroscope images taken during surgery. The scope showed that there’s a spot on the underside of my knee cap that has a high level of arthritic damage (a four on a five point scale).

© She Writes With Hope

During the last four weeks, I’ve been focusing my time, thoughts, and energy on my knee and my recovery. While reading today’s Gospel, Matthew 6:19-25, the following verse stood out to me:

Matthew 6:21   “For where your treasure is, there also will your heart be.”

I’ve been focused on what all this stuff with my knee means now and began to loose perspective. While I was still praying, I lost sight of the grace and strength God can provide as I focus on my recovery. The verse reminded me that my treasure is not in things of this earth. While I could choose to  spend all my time focusing on my knee, I need to remind myself to balance my attention. I know that God provides for the smallest of creatures on earth and in that same way He provides for me. Each day I get stronger physically and spiritually, and each day I’m learning how to trust God with my knee recovery.

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Prepare the Way

As the season of  Advent concludes today, I take time to reflect on what Advent means to me.

Advent is defined as the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Advent is a time to prepare the way of the Lord.

While reading Malachi 3:1-4,23-24, I was struck by the words “Prepare the way.” On this Christmas Eve, we are reminded to “prepare the way of the Lord.” In Malachi Chapter 3 reading God was sending Elijah, the prophet to prepare the way before God.

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Tonight we may already have family celebrating with us or we’re preparing for the celebration.  We have much preparing to do for the celebration. Laundry, cleaning, cooking, shopping, gift wrapping, packing, traveling . Despite the busyness of the Christmas season, we must stop and ready our hearts to welcome our Savior.

Have I welcomed Jesus with a joyful heart?

Have I stopped to ponder the true reason we celebrate Christmas?

My heart is full with great joy knowing that my God sent his only son Jesus Christ to earth, and the gift of salvation that is born with him.

God loves us. He loves us in our strengths and in our failures.

This Christmas may our hearts be wrapped in the love of Jesus, the true reason for the season.

May you have a blessed Christmas season!

"Gerard van Honthorst 001" by Gerard van Honthorst - The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei. DVD-ROM, 2002. ISBN 3936122202. Distributed by DIRECTMEDIA Publishing GmbH.. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerard_van_Honthorst_001.jpg#mediaviewer/File:Gerard_van_Honthorst_001.jpg

Fear Factor

Who remembers the show Fear Factor? The stunt/dare reality game show originally aired between 2001 and 2006. Show contestants faced their biggest fears: spiders, heights, extreme stunts, and mental stunts -eating live bugs. People would compete to face their fears for a chance to win $50,000. It was like a train wreck, even through you wanted to look away you couldn’t.

What stunt would you have the biggest challenge facing? What’s your biggest fear?

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The phrase “fear not” appears in the Bible approximately 103 times.

God must have known that we would need His wisdom to get through our fears. Fear is a natural part of lives, and it is necessary for our survival. We need to be afraid if a mountain lion is charging us. Fear needs to be with us when crossing the street, facing a swarm of killer bees, or when we are in an unsafe situation. It is fear that helps us survive this situations.

But fear can also get in the way of the newness God seeks to bring us in our lives. One of my favorite quotes from Pope Francis is “Brothers and sisters, let us not be closed to the newness God wants to bring into our lives.”

God seeks to bring greatness into our lives, but we must be open to the newness this will bring forth in our lives.

The question remains, how can we create the openness God needs to bring forth newness in our lives?

Here are two ways:

1. Prayer. Pray without ceasing. Pray for the grace to be open to the newness God wants to bring into your life.

2. Scripture. Find peace in the scriptures. Read the Wisdom Books of the Bible  – Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs, Wisdom, and Sirach.

Invite Christ into your life and see where the journey takes you.

Big Blue Box

I’m not talking about the TARDIS, as cool as that would be.

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I’m talking about this big blue and yellow box, IKEA.Ikea_shin-misatoToday M and I took a short trip to our local IKEA with the intention to look for ideas for our new apartments. When we first got there it felt like we were walking around without a clue of how we wanted our apartment to look like, or at least that’s how I felt.

Once I had M sketch out his vision for our living room, I finally had insight into M’s vision for our new place. I was no longer walking aimlessly. I had a clear picture of what we wanted our apartment to look like.

Here’s his rough sketch:

IMG_0012I love where this is heading. It’s amazing how much clearer I was able to see things with a simple sketch to see what was going on in M’s head.

After we got home, I made a connection between IKEA and our lives.

IKEA is like life, without a vision, purpose, or desire you walk around aimlessly through the chaos.

In our own lives, we frequently loose sight of our needs, purpose, and desires that lead us to the best-version-of-ourselves. We fail to step back, to take stock on what we want from our lives. It is in these moments that we fall into despair, depression, and anxiety. We need to understand our purpose, needs, and desires in order to create the best-version-of-ourselves. When we understand our true purpose and we have the strength to follow God’s plan for our lives we can find true happiness.

The TARDIS may be fiction, but what is true is that our lives are truly bigger on the inside.

Big Texas Skies

There is nothing quite like big Texas skies.8954559147_2ce60c6eb2_o

Three years ago today, M and I moved to Texas a week after we got married.

Looking back on that decision, it was the craziest thing I’ve ever done. We leaped into a new state, an apartment we’d never seen, and our jobs were not yet secured. All we had was the faith that God would help us land on our feet and start our lives together.

We’ve changed apartments three, almost four, times. M transferred jobs. I was teaching, but now I’m taking a break. We had family here, but now we don’t. Our journey hasn’t been always been easy, but living under the blue Texas skies has blessed our lives tremendously.

This journey has strengthened my faith that God has a plan for my life, even if I don’t have a clear picture of it yet.

I have faith that God has Texas-sized plans for my life.

What is God challenging you to do in your life?

Apartment Hunting 4.0

My husband and I have been married for 3 years. We are getting set to move for the fourth time.

I think we have a clearer picture of what we want and what option will help us achieve our goals. Finding an apartment with a standard paint color other than white is a plus. An apartment with storage even better. Upgrades, better still. An apartment with a wooded view, perfection. An apartment by the dumpster or AC units, no way. Access to walking trails, definitely a plus.

I find myself more anxious than ever about this move because it is very likely that our new place will be 411 square feet smaller than our current place. Plus, the new apartment is smaller than our very first apartment we had as newlyweds.

I’m not worried about how M and I will handle living in a smaller space together, no problems there.

I think my worry is about the space. Will I have a place to write? Where will we workout? Where will we put everything? How are we going to decorate to most effectively use the space?

We have so much stuff, and I don’t know where it’s all going to go. I don’t know what to keep or what to throw away. Being a former teacher, I have a lot of stuff.

But the thing is it’s just stuff, and in the big picture of things does our stuff really matter? Do I really need to keep my books from college or hang on to the pair of shoes I never wear? Do I really need the cookbook I never use?

At the end of the day, life isn’t about the stuff we have. Life is about the love we have in our hearts. A small apartment filled with the love of Christ and the love between M and I is where I want to call home.

As we make our final decision in apartment hunting 4.0, I must remember to keep Phillipians 4:6 close to my heart:

Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.

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Accentuate the Positive

Psalm 100:1-2

Shout joyfully to the Lord, all you lands;

worship the Lord with cries of gladness;

come before him with a joyful song.

Countless times have I forgotten to give God praise for the blessings in my life. Yet I know the power that praise and thanksgiving have in our daily lives.

The sad reality of our world is that the media is powered by negativity. Turn on any news station to hear news of violence, war, corrupt politicians, and crime. The list could extend for miles. Add in the endless stream of news we have access to from our smart phones and computers, and we are constantly bombarded by negativity. These negative images cause us to become anxious, worried, fearful, and weary.

We have a choice. We can choose to fueled by the negativity and negativism. Or we can choose to be fueled by positivity and be joyful.

Being positive won’t erase all the negativity in the world, but it will pave a way for you to become the best-version-of-yourself. It will effect your personal mindset, and the attitude of those closest to you.

Choose to embrace praise, thanksgiving, and gratefulness.

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