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15.12.13

Today marks a shift in Advent. We see the rose colored candle lit at Mass, reminding of that it is Gaudete Sunday! Gaudete comes from a Latin phrase found in Philippians 4:4-5 meaning, "REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS!" So, my friends, rejoice this day. As we shift our focus from reflecting on Christ's second coming to the Joy of a newborn, our Saviour made flesh--let your hearts dance and sing with joy. Remember that joy is a hope that cannot be shaken by circumstances. So in all moments, no matter how difficult, our joy remains and we are sustained by the grace and love of our God and the Holy Spirit that dwells within us. 

"Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near." Philippians 4:4-5

5.9.13


Hot Dogs, High Fives, and Incense

A few days ago, we kicked off youth ministry at the parish I serve at. Our theme this year is Fearless. I don’t know about you, but this theme really resonates with me. When I think of what I am afraid of, I will (reluctantly) tell you that I am afraid of swimming in lakes at night and tickling…random, I know, but true nonetheless. There are many common fears: heights, public speaking, death, clowns, confined spaces, flying, loneliness…however, when really given a chance to reflect, do we not have fear each and every time we lack trust? Are we not letting fear consume us when we do not do something that God is asking of us? When we fail to love and when we lack compassion? We closed our night with Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and were given an opportunity to lift our hearts to God, to Adore our Creator’s greatest gift, and to let Him adore us—to let Him speak right into our hearts to direct us in our challenge and our challenge is this: to allow the Holy Spirit to consume our hearts so abundantly that we have to room for fear, no room for questioning the grace that has been given to us, the love, the blessings, the suffering, the joy…whatever it is, we are challenged to let God consume us so freely and completely, that these things will be all we can focus on. Even among the thorns of life, we will see the joy that God has laced the challenge with. All of our bumps along the road are intended to draw us closer to the cross, so that, as Mother Teresa said, we may be close enough to the bowed head on the cross that Jesus can kiss us. It is in these moments that we feel the weakest and our trust in God is challenged the most that we have the opportunity to grow the most in the love of our Savior. I’m embracing this theme in my personal life this year, facing things I never thought possible. Will you join me in facing your fears and truly living out loud, fearlessly following the will of God for your beautiful heart? Create two goals for this month: two things that would challenge you to grow and blossom, right where you have been planted. Stick to them for 30 days and see what fearless changes you have made by the end. Do not tackle 10 things, just one or two at a time and give yourself a month to firmly establish the habit. Post your two things below to help create some extra accountability to stay on track. Fearless steps eventually turn into fearless miles. You will have trekked cross country before you know it!
Check out Isaiah 26:3-4 for a great scripture on trust!

24.7.13


FEARLESSLY FACING THE STORM
 

Jesus calls us to walk on the water. He doesn't stop the storm, instead the bears its burden alongside is. He fights each tormenting wave, every lick of cold, harsh wind, each blistered hand, sore back, or strained muscle, every last moment of weakness. Jesus bears it all with us. Next time you're wondering why Jesus isn't stopping the storm that you seem to be stuck in, remember that it's because He is alongside you: weathering the cold and suffering because He knows the strength it brings about that you never knew you had within you: building muscles you never thought you could develop and courage you thought was impossible for your frail heart. He is with you on your journey to fearlessly face the storm, knowing that you too, just like our brother, Peter, can walk on water if you relinquish you fear and replace it with pure faith and trust. Remember that each step is a struggle and you can't give up, but that if you have a moment of weakness, He will take your hand, calm the storm for a reprieve and challenge you to push a little further. A little harder. To be a little stronger. He is calling your name, reaching to the depths of your heart and challenging you to take that next step. He is calling your name, asking you to be fearless in the storm.
 
Read on: Matthew 14:22-33—click here.

Listen on: Listen to Britt Nicole's Song, "Walk on the Water"—click here.

17.7.13


Facing Your Lion

Just over a year ago, I was struggling with my weight and health issues, particularly my back and joints. I woke up one morning and could not move. I could not roll to the other side and could hardly breathe, let alone pick up my 5 month old son. It was pain beyond description. My husband was home, gratefully. We waited. It got worse. We ended up having to call an ambulance because when he tried to lift me…well, let’s just say that wasn’t going to happen. It turned out that I had a chipped vertebra and five slipped disks on top of the problems I already had. Long story short: when you mixed all this together, my entire abdomen spasmed and torqued itself for quite some time.

Following this experience I had some humbling months where I had to rely on others to care for my son, home, and self. I was just coming out of post-partum depression and this just kicked it right back into full gear. I am truly glad that chapter of my life is closed now. However, I cannot help but sing praise for this lion in the middle of my path I had to fight fearlessly to move on and continue my journey with God.

On this day, July 17, in 2009 I made a list of resolutions for myself (yes, you can made those outside of the month of January). I feel like I'm finally starting to live this one, almost four years later: "Love yourself! In that, you love God! What power self-esteem holds! Embrace it, love it, spread, and share it! This includes taking care of the beautiful mind, body, and soul The Lord has blessed you with! Rejoice!" You can tell I wrote this for myself--lots of exclamation points. That’s how I remember things! With! Lots! Of! Exclamation!

Holding me back from becoming the woman God was calling me to, was my health. I disregarded its importance and looked upon my body as something to be used for the purposes I desired. I respected it in many ways, but as far as maintenance and upkeep, I had to idea of its value. There is a reason that God created our bodies with a need for sleep, proper nutrition, and exercise. There is a reason we do not feel well not just physically, but mentally and spiritually,  when we neglect these things. We can pray all we want, we can reach for God. He will reach back. He will care for us. But, He also expects us to care for ourselves. This enriches our relationship with him in so many ways.

I began my journey to a new and healthy me: a new creation that serves His kingdom more joyfully, efficiently, and gratefully. If health is holding you back, I ask you: why? Are gluttony and sloth the anchors tied around your neck? If not, what is written on the anchors that are tying you down? What is holding you back?

Fear not the Lion in your path. Face it fearlessly.

Need more support and encouragement? Look no further than the Living Word. Read about Daniel in the Lion’s Den here.

13.12.12


All you need is LOVE

and as many clichés as you can get your hands on

 

I wrote the following when I was finishing up my senior year in high school. I wanted to share it, because although a couple of the particulars may be different for each of us, I feel that it projects how a lot of us feel sometimes. Life is hard: it can be tiring and challenging. So count your blessings and thank the Good Lord for all He does for you and never stop reaching to fulfill the Universal Vocation we all have: a Call to Holiness. If you do that, if you never stop trying to be Holy, if you keep hope that you can one day be a Saint, one in Heaven with God, you’ll never fail. What beauty there is in that! Hold fast and have hope. Some of this may sound cliché, I’ll admit it. But, sometimes, we need a dose of cliché, Amen?

 

 

I am in love. I am weak. I am strong. I am proud of what I am. Jesus has made me whole. He fills me with his love. All I need to do is remember to turn to him in my times of need. When I have given all of His love out and need refilling. When I do not know which way to turn, I need to evoke the wisdom and strength of the Most Holy Spirit.

What makes it hard: I am so tired. I am very stressed out. Right now I am simply exhausted and ready to give up. I want to throw up my white flag and surrender so badly. I am afraid of what will happen if I keep going. But, what will happen? Will I love and be loved? Will I find the TRUE happiness that I have always longed for? Why is that so hard to accept? It is hard because it is not what the world has taught me. It is not what my parents really taught me. It is not what I have taught myself. I have gone all my life knowing what I will do. I will go to school and get a Ph.D. and I will be comfortable financially and I will go on mission trips and at some point I will get married and have children. I have had a lot of goals in my life. They have slowly morphed in my life into different images, ideas, and happenings. There are few things that have remained consistent. All I know that I want to do is serve Jesus. That would be my ideal situation. It has not been until recently that I wanted to do that. Well, at least since I wanted to truly do that. I thought I did. But I wasn’t doing what He wanted for me. I was chugging along waiting for a miracle that will never come, and it shouldn’t. It shouldn’t come, because that is not what I need to do to serve the Lord. I need to grow. I need to grow my patience, grow my spirit, and grow in His love. That is the only thing I am really, really, sure of. I am sure he wants me to love. What better way to do that than to raise children in His love? Than to bring children into a world that often gets distorted views of what is right and what is wrong, and allows people to fall into a secular religion, and lead them away from that. Lead them into the love of God. Allow them to come to know happiness beyond compare in the stronghold of Christ. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? So for now, I don’t know what tomorrow brings. What I do know, is that I love Jesus, my Lord and Savior. I know that I want the Holy Spirit to envelop me with its wisdom, courage, and love. I do know that I am thankful to God for putting so many options at my disposal to toil over. I am just thankful. How could I not be? Life may be hard, but I have more to say thank you for than I could ever say now; but I will try. Thank you, Lord, for love. For the love of a family. For the love of friends. For the intimate love, Lord that you have blessed my life with so abundantly. I ask you to let me love all who love me with your grace every day. Allow me to be transparent with Your love, so that we may glorify you. I thank you, Jesus, for dying; but more than that, Jesus, I thank you for living in me every day through the power of Your Spirit. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!

11.12.12


Will change really do us good?



The Thought

Many people struggle with the idea of change. I know I do. Change knows how to provoke the fight or flight response in us. Am I ready? Is this really happening? What will happen next? How will I know if this the right kind of change?

Jesus lets us know the answer to whether change is good or bad with His life. He was constantly moving. Going. CHANGING. He spoke to everyone. He ministered to everyone. He touched everyone’s heart. He loved everyone.

The challenge

When everyone is involved, we have to change and evolve. We are now His hands and feet. We must be willing to minister to all that we meet as He did in His brief time on Earth. And to do that, we must be willing to get our feet, hands, and most importantly, our hearts moving and changing. Different people, different needs.  Are you ready to evolve like Christ did so you can address the needs you are surrounded by? It’s no accident that these things are to your right and left or that they lay above or below you. God is quite intentional. Let’s try to be intentional, too. Let God change you. Let Him adapt you to what you’re surrounded by. Let Him mold and shape you in the unique way that (a) only He can, and (b) only YOU are intended to be shaped. Remember that He is creating you for a role nobody else can fill. Embrace it. Live it. When struggle presents itself, lift it. Sacrifice it. Above all of this, LOVE IT.

The scripture

“For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are rational, it is for you. For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died.”

-2 Corinthians 5: 13-14
 
“So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.”

-2 Corinthians 5:17


24.10.11


The Thought


Hide and Seek—a pastime that most of us find trailing through our childhood memories. Everyone has that funny story about when they found someone hiding in the middle of the room, when they outsmarted everyone (including Mom and Dad!) and remained in hiding for what seemed like eternity, or being tickled to death when they were finally found! Although the stories differ (and feel free to share one of your hide and seek stories with me in the “comments” section!!), we all have them.


I like to think of our relationship with God like a game of Hide and Seek. First of all, God has “hidden” little treasures all over the world and sprinkled them through our days and our lives, and He desires so badly for us to seek out these treasures! They are each a little gift laid out just for us to find!


Secondly, God has given us the ability to “hide.” Although God’s omniscience affords Him the ability to know everything, He allows us the gift of free will, to do with as we like.  We have each heard that God has a plan for us, but how often are we willing to be patient enough for Him to reveal that plan? Or to jump off a ledge He’s calling us to, when we really just want to sit tight, because we like and are comfortable with the view from where we’re at? Or to simply trust that His plan far outweighs the one our minds are capable of conjuring up—forgetting that He made the mind that is doing this conjuring? God allows us to hide from His will, His grace, His peace, His beauty. We can choose to see these things as Holy and from Him, or we can hide in our meager intelligence and think that we’re capable of creating peace, grace, a divine plan, or true beauty.


The Challenge


When we think about hiding from God’s will or love in our lives and relying on our own strength, what are we really doing? Like Adam and Eve, are we hiding from something we know is still present, even in our hiding spot? Do we recognize that no matter how “good” our hiding spot may be, God still knows us? He knows our deepest desires, our longings, our weaknesses and strengths, He knows our entire hearts. Let Him know you and learn to know Him. As with any healthy relationship, we need to allow love to enter our hearts while also allowing love to pour out from our own hearts into the one we are in relationship with.

As a start to allowing God into your heart more, accept God’s Hide and Seek challenge! Today, find just 5 things that God has “hidden” for you! It could be an unexpected visit, call, or letter from a loved one, it could be an extra hour freed up that you did not anticipate having, it could be a beautiful sunset or a pretty flower that popped up in your front yard, it could be an extra hug, kiss, or I love you from a dear one. Whatever it is, when you lie in bed tonight, think of 5. By no means do you have to stop at 5, but make that a minimum for the day. Tomorrow, challenge yourself to find 6, then 7…keep going up until it becomes such a habit for you to recognize and thank God for His treasures, that you do not even need to count anymore! I’ve heard it takes 40 days to make a habit—why not go for that goal? Keep it up for 40 days and nights and allow yourself to love God by recognizing His tremendous love for you.


The Scripture
 
“The LORD God then called to the man and asked him: Where are you? He answered, ‘I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid.’” –Genesis 3: 9-10



“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, on your own intelligence do not rely; In all your ways be mindful of him, and he will make straight your paths.” -Proverbs 3: 5-6

15.11.10



Sorry to the readers! It's been a while! I am 16 days into being married...I'm officially a MRS.!! Needless to say...it's been s beautiful whirlwind! I will post pics as soon as I get them. We have some of our engagement pictures up on the photographers website, www.hollycarlylephotography.com. I couldn't have possibly imagined our nuptials to have been any better! God was so present in this sacrament for my husband, Richard and I. It is so beautiful to watch his Grace and Spirit flow so freely through each of us to the other. I truly see God in him so much more every day.

For now, today is his first day at work, mine was yesterday. I am the youth ministry and Confirmation coordinator at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church in Bakersfield, CA. We are almost half way through our second year of ministry!! I can't believe how fast it has blown by! Our parish is only two years old and meeting in a high school auditorium. We have our land for the church and hope to begin building very soon. I am continually amazed to watch God work in such powerful ways through all of the beautiful young hearts God has given me the privilege to serve. He is so present in them, even they don't know the true power their words, actions, and LIVES hold at times.

Now that I have my primary vocation as a wife, and my secondary and a youth ministry coordinator and spiritual mother to many, I am anxious to see how God will innately shift priorities in my life. It is a wonderful feeling to know that God trusts me so much. Absolutely scary at the same time...but nonetheless...I will let "wonderful" triumph in my heart! :)

Let me give a yes to Christ with my whole life as our mother Mary did, and relinquish my heart to His...

"In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin's name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, "Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you." But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." But Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?" And the angel said to her in reply, "The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived 13 a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God." Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word." Then the angel departed from her."

3.9.10



The Thought

Water boils at 212°. Not 211°. Not 210°.

It's amazing how we can  be so close, yet so far from our intrinsic Godly desires. Do you ever find yourself stuck on 211° in your faith--so close, yet simultaneously so far from that full boil? Sure, you've got a lot invested. You think, "I am really on fire...I am doing great..." But, somewhere inside you hear the whisper that says, "You could do better..." That's God. That is when God is calling you to breach 212°. He wants a full boil from you, His precious child...not a simmer.

The Challenge

God calls us in the Book of Revelation, to avoid being lukewarm in our faith at all costs. Even 211°, regardless of how close it may be to boiling, is still lukewarm. We have to jump on top of the fire, release all of our natural inhibitions, and TRUST that CHRIST will care for and guide each one of us. So, TODAY, when that moment comes and you have a decision to make--jump on that fire and start a full boil, or squeak by--JUMP. TRUST. HOPE. Leave the rest up to the Man that created you. Leave it up to the Man that died for you. The Man that rescued you and granted you true and abundant life within His great love (John 10:10).

The Scripture

"I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth."

Revelations 3: 15-16

To read on, visit: http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/revelation/revelation3.htm

"...I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly."

John 10:10

To read on, visit: http://www.usccb.org/nab/bible/john/john10.htm



Joyously in Jesus,

Emily

5.8.10

What's Your Favorite Piece?


THE THOUGHT:

It's amazing how God works.

One minute chaos...the next, unsurpassed peace.

All of it, part of His truly divine plan.

I feel so blessed to be able to witness God's wonderful grace and mercy. There are so many things happening all of the time. It is hard to even tell what's what sometimes, confusion is rampant. But, that grace sweeps in, picks up all the pieces and BAM! You've got a 5,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that He manages to whip together in less than a blink of your eye!

THE CHALLENGE:

TODAY, not tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, month...year, but TODAY, take the opportunity to step back and see your jigsaw puzzle. You might not even see it. I know we all have those moments where we think, "ME? I don't have anything going for myself..." Well, change that. Make it old news. If it slips into your mind, even momentarily, think of YOUR JIGSAW! Do whatever you need...post a picture on your bathroom mirror (or my personal favorite, use EXPO pens on your mirror!), make a list of things, draw a picture, wear a special piece of jewelry, paint your nails a certain color, make a piece of art and hang it up in your home, ANYTHING! Let your imagination run wild! Do something, though, to remind yourself of how God lovingly cut out each puzzle piece, even when though it hurt sometimes, and made it into a beautiful masterpiece! Just keep reminding yourself how awesome your "Dad" is, how hard He has worked to make YOU the masterpiece.

THE SCRIPTURE:

19.5.10

Bloom!

"And then the time came when the

RISK

it took to remain

TIGHT IN A BUD

was GREATER than the

RISK

it took to

BLOSSOM."

-Anais Nin-

17.5.10

Do some GREAT work...

Here is a GREAT link for GREAT work. Encouraging is an understatement. It is from this guy named Michael Bungay Stainer, founder of "Box of Crayons," which releases some excellent email-based "workshops," that consist of short, but entirely provocative questions that will put a fire in your belly without a doubt. This link is great, you can download a free chapter of his book, as well as turn to some of the free online resources. DO IT.

www.domoregreatwork.com

6.5.10

SATAN'S PLAN

My Inspiration!

The Call of Jeremiah

"The word of the LORD came to me thus:

Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
before you were born I dedicated you,
a prophet to the nations I appointed you.
"Ah, Lord God!" I said,
"I know not how to speak; I am too young."

But the LORD answered me,

Say not "I am too young."
To whomever I send you, you shall go;
whatever I command you, you shall speak.
Have no fear before them,
because I am with you to deliever you, says
the LORD.

Then the LORD extended his hand and touched my mouth, saying,

See, I place my words in your mouth!
This day I set you
over nations and over kingdoms,
To root up and to tear down,
to destroy and to demolish,,
to build and to plant."

~Jeremiah 1: 4-10~

4.5.10

Finding MY funk...!

Trying to find your funk is like trying to find where you fit. Where you belong. Where you will root and BLOSSOM. This blog is about that journey for one woman in Christ. I hope you all receive some insight into this joyful heart's love for Jesus and her quest to fufill His mission to love! You will find scripture resources, links to Mmmmmazing sites and fun stuff, hopefully some laughs, smiles, tears, and most importantly...some joy in our Brother and Savior, JESUS!

Peace of Christ Jesus be with you all!

Joyously in Jesus,

Emily