Do you know something kinda fun? Being on Planned Parenthood’s email lists.
They’re feeling very defensive right now (obviously, they’re going to be funded!), and are constantly asking for money. I found this email today a bit hilarious, but also sad: they feel threatened by 40 Days for Life.
If you don’t already know, 40 Days for Life is a pro-life campaign that happens twice a year where people commit to prayer and fasting, holding vigil outside abortion facilities, and community outreach for that time period. People literally stand outside praying, holding signs, or offering life-affirming resources (or a combination of those). It’s peaceful and prayerful if you’re into that.
I find it lame that they use scare quotes around this legitimate organization’s name. They can’t even give 40DFL the dignity of calling them by name. Their contempt for this peaceful, prayerful, campaign goes to show how deeply wrong they are about how we should approach this issue. Shouldn’t women be treated with this peace and understanding and empathy instead of these hideous and tiresome fundraising emails? What speaks to the heart of who we are as people? Yeah, not the emails.
Also, wow. Totally makes me want to back off from ending abortion when they use this campaign to raise $5,000. (LOL, nope, I’m not intimidated either.)
They are correct that this isn’t letting up, though.
Planned Parenthood is going to be defunded, I hope very soon. And we’re not going to rest until then, and until abortion becomes unthinkable. This is not an attack on women’s health, but our desire to see human rights for all – and BETTER healthcare that doesn’t kill people and lie to women. You want to know what good healthcare looks like? Check out The Guiding Star Project. I’ve known about them for a while, but was so impressed and inspired listening to their founder Leah Jacobson in this podcast yesterday. I’ll definitely be writing more about some things she said.
Get yo facts straight, PP. Anyway, I just popped on to talk about this because I don’t want PP to keep doing what they’re doing without being called out. I see them. I see you. And together, we’re bringing down this lying Goliath one step at a time.
What if I told you that there was so much more to be learned from Mother Teresa’s life than helping the poor?
As a Catholic, there are thousands of people we recognize as possessing heroic virtue, so it might be hard to pick a favorite saint. But Mother Teresa, whom I affectionately call Mama T, is hands down one of my favorites. Let me tell you why.
At first I admired her for giving up everything to help the poor. Who wants to walk the streets helping people who kind of (really!) don’t like you (at first)? Probably most of us wouldn’t jump on that opportunity.
It’s admirable and beautiful what Mama T did to help the poor, and I think most of us could make a greater effort to alleviate the suffering of those living in material poverty. That’s the easy to agree with message that so many people fell in love with Mama T for.
But there’s so much more to her. Here are some of the reasons (beyond helping the poor) Mama T is my homegirl:
She teaches us to trust God with absolutely reckless abandon.
I use those words literally because to most people, how the Missionaries of Charity live is totally reckless. When I spent a spring break with them, I learned that they never ask for what they need or want. Instead, they’ll pray for God to provide. And guess what? He always does – even if it’s not how we imagined. The soup kitchen I helped them run for a week was overflowing with food to share. And they had never put donation bins in churches or asked for people to contribute. They got up around 4am, didn’t have furniture in their chapel, hand washed their sari’s, got through each day helping others tirelessly, traveled around their city to help all sorts of people, AND were able to stay awake for an hour of adoration. We can’t all do this, obviously. But it was a good example of what can happen when we lean on God.
This story is another illustration of how Mama T trusted God (and shows us to!), which I try to remember. I’ve gone back to that story so many times. Her example is such a good reminder that God will never lead us to such deep waters that he can’t carry us across.
She showed me that being Catholic doesn’t mean you have a perfect relationship with God.
It might be scandalizing to some people to know that Mama T felt unloved by God for the majority of her adult life. To me, it’s comforting. It’s proof that being a good person doesn’t come from special spiritual super powers. Yes, she had to have a lot of grace to do what she did. But just like her, I can choose to do what is good and contribute something beautiful to the world even if it stinks sometimes. People we admire have struggles and feel alone sometimes. How awesome to know what we’re all capable of.
She helped me understand that loving is about giving.
Much like the quotable Fulton Sheen, Mama T had some mic drop moments talking about giving. Reading her words have been part of my understanding of Theology of the Body – that life isn’t about getting and having. It’s about being and giving.
I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more love.
During my mission trip, one of the sisters was experiencing severe pain in her foot. It apparently was getting worse as she was getting older. But we didn’t find out until well into the week, when it came up in conversation. Her response? “You don’t get old until you stop loving Jesus!” She just kept on giving.
She taught me that feeling unloved is a crisis unparalleled by material want.
To much of the Western world, being without a house and food sounds like one of the most horrible things that could happen to you. It is surely a sad thing. At some point, I thought how nice it would be to go to places like the slums of Calcutta and alleviate the suffering there. But having a bit more life behind me now (ha!), I get this. Material want can be fixed. And it should be, by people who have things. Want for love is so different. Whether it’s a broken relationship, a rough upbringing, or something else that’s cause for a feeling of alienation, there’s not as easy a fix. It’s complicated and messy and I hope that throughout my life I can help some people feel a little more cared for.
The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.
She showed me that you don’t have to go to Calcutta to change the world.
If you love Mama T, you probably thought about going to India for a hot second. Am I right? I did. Would it be awesome to see and experience her work? Of course. Yes. It would! I’ve found mission trips to be enriching and wonderful experiences. They’re great. But I think they also run the risk of us failing to see the people around us right here in our neighborhoods who need a helping hand. Mama T issues a challenge to us, which I hope to spend my life working on:
It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.
Are we up for the challenge?
“I Thirst” written beside every crucifix in their buildings serves as a reminder to spend our lives satiating God’s thirst for souls by bringing his love to the world.
You can find Calcutta anywhere in the world. You only need two eyes to see. Everywhere in the world there are people that are not loved, people that are not wanted nor desired, people that no one will help, people that are pushed away or forgotten. And this is the greatest poverty.
We’ve heard her words. We love her. Now let’s find our Calcuttas. Where is yours?
It feels like I’m standing on the edge of a cliff.
Being just over a week away from graduation is something that always seemed way in the future. But now it’s right here. I am an adult who will soon have a degree and job.
My future is still not quite crystal clear, which is something I didn’t expect. At first when job leads became unsure, I insisted on looking at specifically Catholic or pro-life jobs. When nothing was happening with those leads, I expanded to non-profits in general and applied there. It’s been frustrating not knowing what the future will be like.
I’ve been praying about it and was grilling God a couple weeks ago questioning whether I was supposed to even work with Catholic or pro-life organizations. Were my standards too high? If nothing’s happening with those leads, am I not supposed to work in those areas? Why in the world would I have spent the last 5 years working in those fields only to be rejected to continue full time? Was I being doomed to work in a meaningless cubicle away from the work I’m passionate about?
So naturally, I gave God an ultimatum of sorts and said “Okay, but if you want me in those other places, show me. Open the door and I will walk through it, even if I don’t love it.”
Daring God is not the most intelligent or mature thing I’ve done, but it also gave him just enough room in this adventure.
I continued my job search online widening my horizons. It was rather discouraging. Those business jobs unrelated to missions of helping people are the jobs that are often highly competitive and driven by profit and dirty business. That’s not what drives me, so it’s difficult to bring myself to apply to those jobs. But wouldn’t you know? I think God’s got something up his sleeve because other leads started developing. And my applications for jobs at non Catholic/life-related jobs were rejected.
So maybe that was the point – to get to the place where I gave up my plans and started looking at what I don’t want to do.
After all, one thing taking Catholic Social Thought has taught me is that it’s not the specifics of our work that make it meaningful. It’s our co-participation with God in his plan to develop creation. It’s our dignity as creatures made in his image that gives our work meaning.
Who knows where God is calling me? Not this girl. I’ve been surprised, disappointed, discouraged, but also hopeful at different times during this process. Figurative doors have been slammed in my face. It has not been fun. It’s not something I wanted to do. And it’s certainly not over. But more than anything, getting to this point in life has taught me that the best things often happen when my plans don’t work out.
Recently I was absentmindedly humming Here I Am Lord, and this line stuck with me when I realized how applicable it is to senior year: “I will go, Lord, if you lead me.”
And for the first time in my life, I’m realizing that I actually mean that. God does not abandon us, EVER. Things like this that test us make us stronger. Bring on the fire! We can choose to lean into the change and let ourselves be molded, or we can crumble under the pressure. I choose to make the most of this. I choose to not be passive about finding what God has in store. I choose to find joy in this, even when it stinks. And I choose to allow God to unfold the masterpiece of my life.
Trust in God is one of the most horribly painful but awesome things ever. And it’s born from a place of realizing the gifts in life (basically everything) while developing an attitude of thanksgiving. It goes like authenticity to trust to gratitude.
That will never be easy to accept, but it has gotten easier. God’s got a plan and I’m out to find it. Are you?
It’s a funny thing to be at such an uncertain part of life when I was so certain this wouldn’t happen. But you know, God like to laugh when we make plans, right?
With graduation in just under six weeks, I don’t know yet where I’ll work or live. This might not seem unusual to you, but for me – I’m a planner and a doer. Summer plans until now have always ended up providential with the help of hard work and perfectly timed generosity. Networks have been built. Relationships maintained. The people I’ve worked with are important to me, and it’s so wonderful to keep in contact with everyone I can.
But things haven’t gone how I expected.
That’s okay. I know it is. I know there’s a plan (SOMEWHERE, RIGHT?!) that is better than mine. But it’s very strange to be asked what my post-graduation plans are and truly not have an answer. “But you’re the kind of person I’d expect to know!” people have said. You and me both, honey.
Sometimes it feels like a little bit of a failure. Earning my degree has not always been fun. I would have given up SO many times if I were that kind of a person. But sheer determination, the grace of God, and lots of coffee have gotten me here. So did I really work that hard to graduate without a clear path?
But that’s not true. I know my path. My path is holiness. It’s the call each of us has. And right now I’m waiting for God to open the right door. But in the meantime I’m knocking on ALL the doors to see which one cracks open. Which means lots of resumes and cover letter drafts on my laptop.
This all has been a reminder to me that I’m not really the one in control. And letting things go does wonders for ones sanity. How many times do I need that reminder? A lot, apparently. Things might not end up like I planned. But they still could. And I’d really like to know NOW. But this story keeps coming to mind:
“When the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh went to work for three months at ‘the house of the dying’ in Calcutta, he was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life.
On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa. She asked, ‘And what can I do for you?’ Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. ‘What do you want me to pray for?’ she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: ‘Pray that I have clarity.’ She said firmly, ‘No, I will not do that.’ When he asked her why, she said, ‘Clarity is the last thing you are clinging to and must let go of.’
When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, ‘I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.’”
And that’s the challenge. Do I get frustrated? Yes. Does that mean I give up? No. It means I learn to punch doubt in the face and trust better. Isn’t that funny? It’s my word of the year. I’m sure many college seniors can relate that it’s easier said than done, but I’m just going to keep knocking and waiting.
A lot of what we do is in an effort to try to control our lives. We pick the perfect school, what we wear, how we act, the car we drive, the job we have, the place we live . . . all to build up the life we want. We snap and ‘gram the moments we want to share. It’s fun, really, to create the life we’ve dreamed of.
And then we lie in bed at night and wonder what in the world we’re doing with our lives.
We’re in an age where it’s easy to be connected with hundred of “friends” and feel unheard at the same time. We take in so much information but don’t take the time to think. We’re caught up in the everyday things instead of thinking long term.
And it all eats away at our peace.
I’ve been working on this for a while and can honestly say that it takes a lot to truly upset me now. I can rant about politics or contraception, but I don’t go to bed feeling sick to my stomach about the state of our world. There’s something deep down that takes a lot to shake. And it’s not because I posses heroic virtue (HA!). I think the deep sense of peace I have come to is because of:
When we surrender our perfect ideas, we let God make our lives the beautiful stories we’re made to be. Surrender comes when we give up control, when we admit that our plans aren’t always what’s best for us, when we pray for guidance instead of making a headstrong decision. Do that! Instead of claiming that you know best, create peace in your life by asking for God’s direction.
When we become detached from material things, it brings so much peace. I don’t own a whole lot of stuff (which will change when it comes time for an apartment of my own) and I like it that way. Well, except for books. Thaaat’s a different story. I try to remember that my things are mine to share with people who don’t have them. Now this is not easy. I am NOT a pro. But when I do choose to let go of how I want something, it brings a lot of peace. Try giving someone else the best muffin, letting someone change your plans for the evening to something they’d like to do, or giving away something you like.
Those are a couple practices that bring peace everyday. Other things that bring peace are:
Peace for me is about letting go. It’s taking a deep breath and recognizing that it’s okay if things don’t go according to plan. When they don’t, it’s often better than I would imagine. So give it a try, will you? Try along with me and let me know how it goes!
“Listen, put it into your heart, my youngest and dearest son, that the thing that disturbs you, the thing that afflicts you, is nothing. Do not let your countenance, your heart be disturbed. Do not fear this sickness…nor anything that is sharp or hurtful. Am I not here, I, who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not the source of your joy? Are you not in the hollow of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Do you need anything more? Let nothing else worry you, disturb you.” – Our Lady of Guadalupe
I’ve been thinking about the future. A lot. But what’s new? With senior comps (ie. “what you do instead of a thesis”, “a test of everything you’ve learned for your degree”, or “no pressure”) later this month and graduation impending, saying the future is on my mind would be an understatement.
As many soon-to-be-graduates would say, it would be SO nice to have everything set in place right now.
But I don’t.
It’s not that I don’t want to. It’s not for lack of trying. And I’m kind of dying to know what’s in store.
Being in this position is somewhat terrifying as someone who tries to have my life put together. My heart rate does sometimes go up a little bit thinking about OH MY GOSH WILL IT ALL WORK OUT?!?! And yes, I’d like to ask God to swing WIDE open the door he’s guiding me to instead of leaving multiple ones cracked open just a little.
I’d like that clarity, please and thank you.
But clarity is not my prayer right now. Because in reality, I don’t think we often know for certain exactly what we’re supposed to do. We might have an inkling. Sometimes a choice does seem obvious. But mostly life is about learning to take the next step when God calls us to, even if we’re blindfolded. It’s choosing to step out on the tightrope, even when we know we could fall.
This Lent, I’m not giving up coffee or Facebook. But one of the things I am doing is reading through Rediscovering Jesus. Because that’s what I want to do. That’s what I need to do. I need to remind myself that there is a purpose in life, and that purpose is to get to heaven. If my life isn’t ordered toward that, then other stuff doesn’t matter.
One line that stuck out to me this morning was “God is always waiting on us. Sometimes we may think we are waiting for him, but that is never true.” BOOM.
So this Lent, I’m not thinking about all the things I’m waiting for (okay, trying not to do that), or what I can get out of it, or keeping a checklist of every single thing you must do to make it the best Lent ever and be a good Catholic. I’m trying to focus on the transformation of Lent, better conforming my life to God’s will, and asking myself what things I’m still holding on to that I need to let go. That’s the goal after all, isn’t it?
Kathryn’s reflection this morning is much of what’s in my own mind. Lent isn’t about the checklist and seeing just how penitent we can force ourselves to be. It’s about reminding ourselves of our need for God and changing our lives to reflect that. As the first reading tells us today:
“Even now, says the Lord, return to me with your whole heart”
That’s what I’m up to: trying to return my heart to the one who created it. I’m praying for trust, and for all the intentions I’ve been given – that we all would learn to find that peace of surrender. That we would remember the beauty of our faith, of God who created us, and of this season. If you have any intentions I can remember, comment below or contact me. How has your Lent started out today?
Until checking recently, I had no idea it’s been nearly 3.5 months since last sharing something in this space. There’s no excuse because there’s no requirement for blogging, no apologies because I was still living my life. Instead, there’s an older me, another semester under my belt, more life experience, and finally a new blog post.
Now that senior year is here (and half over!), everything is different. Life post-graduation is an impending reality. Friends will be missed, college will be reminisced, but I’m beginning to appreciate that there’s so much to look forward to this year of transition as graduation, jobs, and moving out of my childhood home become a reality.
Last year I chose “abandon” as my word of the year. The idea was to let go of the “perfect” plans I made for myself and abandon myself, surrender those plans and timing of them, to God who knows what is best for me. Easier said than done, I tell you.
Getting over the variables and accepting that everything’s going to work out somehow is something we probably all struggle with to varying degrees at different times. But I finally do feel an immense sense of peace about the future. I came to appreciate that God does not abandon us. He will not leave me hanging or homeless. I won’t automatically have a job I hate. What I will always have is a God who loves me and looks out for me.
And there’s not much else I truly need.
So this year I’m not making a bunch of silly goals that won’t happen. I’ll work on being healthier, reading and writing more, and my prayer life . . . but mostly I’m going to work on trusting God more.
2016 is my year to work on trust.
It’s going to be a year of huge transitions. People are going to come and go. Situations are going to change. Many things will be new. It will be hard sometimes, exciting at others. But through it all:
I am hopeful for this year because it doesn’t all depend on me. I don’t have to perfectly plan every last detail of my life because there’s a master plan already. It doesn’t give me license to be lazy. No way. Hard work is the only way to go. But you’ll find me praying and working harder to give my trust to the Big Guy who not only knows everything about me, but knows about my future too.
Through trust, I can choose to let go of worry and control and let my faith be bigger than fear.
Have there been times in your life when you let go of situations, trusted that God had a plan, and things surprisingly (ha!) worked out better than expected? Share away in the comments. Let’s talk about trust.
If you haven’t been seeing all the news stories and posts on social media, Pope Francis visiting the U.S. had kinds of been a big deal. Instead of being trampled by other enthusiastic pilgrims, I’ve been living vicariously through them by watching the live feed, other videos, and news stories.
Because Pope Francis is reaching so many people and touching so many lives, I figured, why not share his love in this space? Here’s a reminder from him that there’s hope in the world:
A woman’s reaction to his address at the Inter-religious Meeting at Ground Zero
It’s been well over a month since my last post. Whoa. I’ve missed this outlet, this creative time to hash out my thoughts and connect with you. Time to hop back on the bandwagon!
Last month I drove out to Kansas to begin my last year of college. It’s quite bittersweet, but more sweet than bitter. I’ll miss many things about college (HA! Not you, homework!), and I’m sure tears will be shed. But overall I’m ready for the next chapter of life to begin come May. We’ve been soaking up apartment life (see above picture) and loving having more space to call our own. The weather is so gorgeous. It’s such a nice time of year to enjoy! We went on a lovely picnic to a pond today 🙂
Classes have not been super challenging. Drawing is time consuming, but I’m thankful for mandatory creative time that doesn’t involve academia. My synoptic gospels class is quite mind-blowing (almost have my theology minor done!). And business classes are pretty normal.
I’ve been thinking about our culture a lot, and what my place is in it. This picture is of our campus group praying outside a Planned Parenthood a couple weeks ago. It almost gives me chills. Doesn’t it seem like a symbol of our society? Look how little we are compared to the evil going on. So many people have been feeling burnt out about this. I have too, but there is always hope. More to come on this.
Senior year has been easier than junior year. Last year felt like this impending doom of “real life” was always on the horizon. Now it’s closer than ever. But we’ve grown in maturity, and I know I’m going to be okay. Life is as beautiful as we make it!
It’s been a while since I’ve shared in this space, but I plan to share more as the year progresses. Won’t you follow along? Subscribe here for my monthly exclusive updates, and follow on social media (see sidebar) for even more.
Let’s be real, folks. Our world is a molten hot mess of depravity right now.
I’ve kind of wanted to go cry in a corner at various times over the last couple months and ignore the world. I did actually get off of the internet for a couple days because I had just had enough. It’s exhausting to see this all going on, and frustrating at times having little control to change it. Sometimes it feels like talking to a brick wall because the conversation has lulled. Either people have spoken their minds, or people choose to remain removed from the issue.
Now the waters seem to have settled after the initial shock. We’ve written about the Planned Parenthood videos and gay marriage being legalized, shared our disgust, and now mostly gone back to our everyday lives of getting by.
We have become accustomed to evil.
At the same time, we know this all is horrible.
But it’s also the norm.
So what in the world are we supposed to do?
If you think back to the holocaust or slavery or the civil rights movement – all social issues of their times – society didn’t change when people got sad. Society didn’t change because people found out about bad stuff happening. Plenty of people had to have known about those atrocities.
The world changed because a brave few had enough guts to stand up, expose evil, and demand the atrocity that was going on be stopped.
No one person is probably going to change the world (#RealityCheck). But what if instead of allowing ourselves to hide in a corner and go back to our ordinary lives, we let the gravity of this time sink in and radically change us?
What we if we actually decided that enough is enough?
That the truth we believe in is worth defending at all cost?
That our reputation doesn’t matter when it comes to defending the life and dignity of the vulnerable?
Now THAT would stir things up.
Many of us who believe in truth and morals are used to being the minority. Obviously. We expect to be told we’re wrong. We expect the media to misinterpret us and belittle us. We know our religious liberty is at stake. We know Christian morals are no longer the law of the land.
But you know what? We’re not victims here.
I am not a victim.
You are not a victim.
Certainly we’re affected by our life circumstances. But life is how we respond to whatever is thrown at us. Though we may want to hide in a corner sometimes, we can’t. Too much is at stake. And if we did, who would be changing the world?
I think we keep things quiet because we are more scared of standing up for ourselves than we are of bad things happening to other people.
And that just won’t do.
We are called out of comfort to stand witness to the beauty, truth, and goodness that is our faith. We are equipped by our Mother Church who gives us the foundation to articulate the dignity of life and love as God intended. We are called to profess the goodness of every human person, not to simply go on living our own isolated lives. Life is about more than our little lives.
In these moments when we tire of “the issues”, we have to remember that it’s not people we’re fighting. It’s principalities and evil (Ephesians 6:12). And God’s go our back, guys! It’s not just us against big, bad people who are out to get us. We are facing deep-seated evil, and moral relativism unlike the world has seen in a while. This is our opportunity to do more than talk, to substantially make changes in our communities and families to support the dignity of the human person.
This is where we show the world who we are.
This is where we have to radically put our trust God, because we cannot fight evil with our littleness. But love conquers all. Love has already won thousands of years ago on the cross. Do you believe that? Do you trust in him who created you for such a time as this? Because he created you for a purpose. Living at this time is part of the plan.
We have to trust HIM, because we cannot do this ourselves. It simply can’t be done. And that is frustrating. We are troubled because these atrocities are terrifying and we can’t control everything going on. But we can rest peacefully knowing God has it under control.
If we allow God to use us to create a better world, and give him all of our weaknesses to transform, there’s no telling what he will do through us.
As Aslan would say, take courage, dear heart. You are on the side of love and life. You belong to a people of God that evil is in the midst of a reckoning with. The battle is rough and the soldiers are few. But we are mighty. We serve God who loves and equips each of his children for the purpose we were created for. And spoiler: truth always wins.