Mission Trip: VBS

My most favorite aspect of this mission trip was being able to interact with the children of Tizimin during Vacation Bible School.

DCIM100GOPROGOPR0283.JPGThis wonderful lady, who has literally been sent by God, for these children heads up the school/church responsible for their formation. Her name is Magdalena Saldana. She has the spirit of a lion. The will of an eagle. The grace of a peacock. The love of a mother. During her time with DCI, she has lead more than 100 children into her facility to present the gospel of the Lord. The children who attended VBS instantly gave her the respect and love that she deserved. She touched my heart. As an educator, I praise people who devote their lives to the children. For her, what better way than through the teachings of Jesus Christ.

DSC_0394DSC_0451For four days we interacted with more than 90 children from all walks of life. Micah and I were in charge of registering these kids before they entered camp. We were the first people they saw. Some of them were confident, shook our hands, told us their names, and walked on in ready for the day to begin. Others seemed lost, confused, and scared. Some children where homeless. Some children didn’t have parents.

It was a tug at my heart, when Magdalena ask a little boy why he had been absent for so long. He responded, “our house has been ceased and right now we are kind of living where ever we can.” (Deep sigh) It was difficult to hear these types of things. It was difficult to see some of them walking barefoot. To see some skinny. To see runny noses.

But then my heart would rejoice when I would hear a giggle. When I would see a smile.

“He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.” Matthew 18:2-6
Many times I have heard it said that one must be childlike to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. I didn’t quite understood what that meant, but seeing the children of Tizimin worshiping Jesus, singing, dancing, being carefree in His name made me think that it really didn’t matter what I wore, where I lived, what my life circumstances were. If I worshiped Jesus without a care in the world, like these children, I literally had nothing to fear. And that’s what these kids where, fearless. Interested. Eager. Willing. They wanted to learn. They wanted to know more about the man who died to save them.
After registration, the kids danced and singed. Then came studying. Our group taught lessons on Esther, the king’s armor, love, and understanding. Micah and I would sit in the back and observe them. It’s like they were hungry for love.
1On the second to last day, one of the group leaders ask Micah and I to lead the last lesson. I instantly agreed without even consulting Micah. Fear suddenly paralyzed me. And my good friend insecurity had a lot to say. But Micah, my love, instantly reminded me of how capable I was and with his help we presented the 10 Commandments to the children. Micah presented the ice breaker with a game of “Micah dice” (Simon says, or Micah says). Then I transitioned with “how do we know what God says?” “How do we know what to do?”
There I felt the Holy Spirit guiding me, helping me, giving me the confidence and the will that I needed to the point where 100% of the children were engaged. High five Ms. Rojas and thanks for the help Mr. Womacks.
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The rest of the time with the kids was spent on various activities, like arts and crafts, painting, coloring, praying, playing with sports equipment. Micah’s interaction with the children touched my heart as well. Many of the boys loved him. He was so good with the children. Maybe they saw what I see everyday in him–his good and noble heart. This boy, Brian, was our favorite. He often times wouldn’t leave without saying goodbye, hugging me and high- fiving Micah.
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The boys would literally gravitate towards Micah, I felt so proud of him.
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I felt a deep connection to this little girl, because Micah pointed out she looked like me. I agree. Ever since then, we gravitated towards each other.
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Micah and this little guy kept secrets and it was adorable.
VBS was inspiring to say the least. I felt like I went in thinking I was going to set an example, be uplifting, to teach, and to give, but in reality these children taught me to strive to be better. To self grow. To self love. To love without measure beyond the circumstances. Now my goal in life is to have a heart like these little ones.
Tomorrow, I’m going to share with you all about the eye exams we participated in.
Until then and as always.
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Mission Trip: the beginning of greatness

Hey everyone! Long time no talk.

I truly apologize for being away for so long.

However, I’m excited to share why I’ve been gone from the blogger world for more than three weeks. I was on a mission trip with Micah. We traveled to Tizimin, which is in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico. To say the least, it was extraordinary.

For the next week or so, I’m going to dedicate my posts to sharing how God impacted my life, my relationship with Micah, and my desire to be a better Christian.

For you see, behind all the clothes I always put on Jesus’ Armour.

It was a summer filled with love and I only have God to thank for his continuing blessings. I want to begin by sharing the number one reason for this trip. I gifted this mission to Micah this past Christmas. It was an attempt to further center our relationship towards the Lord. Both Micah and I want Jesus to take the wheel and guide us on our journey as a couple. And Jesus never fails because through this mission, Micah and I grew spiritually. It was truly amazing to see the Holy Spirit in the mist of our relationship as we served the people of Tizimin.

Secondly, this blog is almost always going to be geared towards clothes and fashion. It’s  going to be about the things that make me feel good on the outside, but sometimes, I want to be able to share what’s inside of me.

For as far as I can remember, I have had this passion for serving the Lord. When I was younger I didn’t realize that serving was going to take me on mission trips. It started with an inner desire to explore and see the world, but to also give God something bigger than me. My attention.

It all started in Peru, from there, God was all I saw and I wanted to cling to that feeling. Peru will always be dear in heart. Yet when I try to understand what God wants for my life, I think of Tizimin.

I went looking for God in Peru and I found Him, but He took me to Tizimin where He answered what was in my heart.

“Cast all of your worries on HIM because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

When I traveled to Tizimin, I was worried, but not because I was going to be called out of my comfort zone. I was worried about not properly surrendering myself to God’s will. For quite sometime now, I’m utterly worried I missed God’s major plan for me. I ask day in and day out if I’m living according to His will. Am I truly being who God wants me to be? Are Micah and I, as a couple right for each other? Are we ready for marriage?

Yet while in Tizimin, I felt God. He answered my prayers.

“For we are HIS handiwork, created in Jesus Christ for the good works that GOD has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Needless to say, I feel beyond blessed and thankful to be His.

Today, I want to briefly explain the area we were in and touch based on what exactly Micah and I did while on the mission.

We arrived on July 8 in Cancun and drove about two hours west into the jungle towards Tizimin, a city of about 50,000 people. These people are caught between traditional Mayan upbringing and Christianity. For a week, Micah and I participated in Vacation Bible School, where close to 90 children, from all walks of life attended. During the evening, we walked the streets of the city to share the gospel and invite people to a free eye exam that would be held towards the end of the week. Lastly, we conducted a small worship service and shared prayer with those who needed healing. At the end of the day we handed out glasses to those who had needed them during the exam portion.

I can remember my heart twisting each time I saw someone in need and all I could offer was hug. I can remember Micah holding my hand when he saw my emotional face during trials. I can remember my heart pattering after seeing the smiles of children. It’s a unique experience that is so undesirable yet so endearing it has to be told.  I hope I can explain myself as much as possible.

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This mission trip was made possible through DCI Missions, Dream Center International. It was an organization I found online through endless hours of research. Missionaries Bill and Kathy Craver have been conducting missions work for more than sixteen years. They oversee two missionary training campuses, one in the Yucatan of Mexico and one located in Belize C.A. Throughout the year they lead teams to impact the lives of indigenous people.

It was amazing to see how God has worked in these people lives not only to move them, but also to show how great our Lord is. It was inspiring.

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This was the main entrance to the camp where we stayed. There were a total of 24 people on the trip. There was a large group from Florida, a family of four from Georgia, a group of wonderful ladies from Texas, Micah’s solo roommate from Tennessee, and Micah and I from Kansas. It was also uplifting to see how everyone came together for the same purpose.

45Maybe I’m being bias because I’m a teacher, but some of my favorite moments where spent with the children. Yes I liked playing with them, coloring, laughing, and doing arts in crafts, but I especially enjoyed watching them worship Jesus. I was filled with tears when I saw them praying to the Lord. If anything, they truly left a mark on me. I will forever remember them.

IMG_5137IMG_5149Working alongside Micah was one of the greatest experiences during this trip. I was so proud of him and fell in love with him even more. More than that I was touched by the people of the area. It was completely humbling to be able to give these people the gift of sight through God’s handiwork.

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And at the end of the day, God always graced us. There’s so much I want to put into words, but I simply can’t. It’s not because I’m unwilling; I just can’t find the words to truly explain what I was feeling during this week. This is something, I now look back on, and think wow I was there. I lived that. God was with me. I’ve grown. Micah and I have grown.

Tomorrow I’m going to talk about the children and VBS. Until then and as always.

For we are dust

It’s Ash Wednesday.

Lately, I’ve been having a hard time explaining who I am, as if feeling who I am is so wrong. Mostly it’s because, if I am, who I am; then it might not make others happy. Then there’s resentment. No on wants that. No one wants to cause it. So I’ve been avoiding reality–like the plague.

But I feel it coming. And there’s nothing I can do about it, because this is who I am. I am a woman of God. He’s taken me under his wings and has sheltered me with everlasting love and mercy. My God is forgiving. I am also Catholic.

When I was younger I thought my faith was exhausting. When I was a teen I realized it was a disciplined practice. Now, I view Catholicism as water in a very hot and desperate desert. I need it in all it’s abundant flow.

What better way for me to be myself than through sacrifice, penitence, and prayer. For me, Ash Wednesday represents why I need Jesus so much. As I begin the Lenten season, I’m reminded of Jesus’ great love for me. That helps me cope with my preconceived ideas.

I think of the word sacrifice and wonder why Jesus sacrificed so much for me, for who I am? He gave up his breath, his mother, and his life so that I could live. In that sense I ought to live for who I am.

Yes I’m a Catholic woman trying to live life rightfully, honestly, and faithfully. I must also accept that I’m a sinner, that I make mistakes, and that sometimes I can’t handle the consequences. I must also accept that I’m fun, loving, caring, and helpful. On the other hand, I’m mean, insecure, thoughtless, and crazy.

I like my cake and I like to eat it too.

But, Jesus calls me to love the cake, to savior it, to admire it. He wants me to pray that baking that cake goes well. But at the end of the day, he wants me to sacrifice the cake. In doing so, my exhausting and discipline practice will go towards a greater good.

I want to be like that. I’m trying to be like that.

The ash reminds me of who I am, but the cross also reminds me that I am His.

That’s who I am, apologetically.

Powerful

I’ve been absent for more than a week and I’m not complaining.

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Believe me, what I went through wasn’t anything too alarming, on the contrary, this situation helped me build up my survival skills. It didn’t work much, but at least now I know that those skills are nonexistent.

None-the-less,  southwest Kansas experienced a trace of the Jupiter Storm winter front that I’m guessing a lot of states across the nation underwent. Nothing to crazy happened in my area of Kansas other than more than 5,000 homes were powerless for approximately four days. (I’m being sarcastic, it was pretty bad) Our linemen worked day in and day out to get everyone’s light restored and it all worked nice and dandy during the day, but then the harsh night would set everything back.

We lost power about Sunday around 11 a.m., school was cancelled Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I didn’t have to necessarily wash my hair or be presentable because trust me, I didn’t leave my house much. Finally around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, we had power. I slept with a night light just because I could.

But before the power came back on, I did nothing. Yippee for me.

At one point in time, all the laziness I was feeling got to me people! The pleasure of doing nothing wasn’t fun anymore. Man, I was worn out from being worn out. I started out reading. When that bore me, I colored. When that put me to sleep, I slept. When that began to make feel restless, I stared into space. And when that happened, my mind went where it didn’t need to go, but I took it there, probably on purpose because there wasn’t anything left to do.

Thankfully, the church I attend had a “Parish Mission” where Deacon Ralph Poyo shared his devotion for the Lord and his knowledge of sin, love, and mercy. It was truly insightful. Then he hit me with the truth. He talked about these walls we put around our heart. The ones we use to shield our true emotions. The emotions I often hide so that my family, friends, co-workers, and even Micah won’t see. Yes, I admit, I put up that wall thinking I’m okay.

But according to Jesus Christ, it’s not okay. Deacon Poyo went on to explain that God wants to help heal us of insecurities in our lives because the only way that we can fight against sin is with the truth. Wow, powerful. So now he’s got me thinking. God already knows my struggle. He knows what my insecurities are. So what? Who else will care?  However, if I don’t communicate, if I don’t seek to reveal the truth I’ll never make my family happy, or worse, Micah and I won’t be happy. Fair enough. I don’t want that to happen.

So, while I’m sitting there again in the dark with all of my evil thoughts and emotions, my good ole pal insecurity comes back to lay with me. He’s pretty strict. He loves to tell me that I’m no good. I’m not smart enough. I’m not talented enough. I’m not pretty enough. For the most part I take punches, I put a smile on my face, and I tell the world that I’m okay. I’m living a lie because deep down inside I’m broken. Shattered. Alone.

Except, I’m not alone. At that moment, the words Deacon Poyo said came back to uplift me. We always ask where is God in the mist of our self-destruction? I always thought, because I’ve heard it said that He’s with us, ever present and that is still true. But the good Deacon said, no He’s on the cross. Shivers.

Then I imagined Jesus on that cross, my sins nailing Him there. If I just give Him my struggles, if I just reveal the truth, if I just invite Him into my heart, and believe that He’s there for me; then I can push those insecurities away.

How hopeful and powerful. While it might be difficult to understand how to withhold from sinning or from putting up those walls of darkness up; it’s time we begin to understand just how much Jesus loves us. I mean just look at the cross.

Sure the tunnel is dark, but there is a way out, there is light and at the end He stands there holding the light of eternal light.

How did you weather the storm? And if you were in some sunny beach tell me all about it, I’d like to be all kinds of jealous.

The storm pictures featured were taken by friend and colleague Trista Fergerson.

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Health Week Day 4: Spititual Intake

Being health means a lot of different things and believe me there’s a million different aspects when it comes to being in complete health. Sure, we need to take care of our skin, hair, and body, the stuff that’s on the out and inside. Because yes, that stuff is really important. One thing I’ve also learned is that we also need to be healthy spiritually.

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It’s so true, we often look as health as being some strength that comes from our physical appearance, but what about God’s portion? Now I’ve talked about Holy Habits on here before, so I again I’ve challenged myself to look at my spiritual health and consider how I’m going to win this race.

For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.

1 Timothy 4:8

I think it’s very important to run, to jump, to leap, and dance, but everything that we do let God give us our ultimate health and strength. There were so many occasions in my soccer days where I would give every game to the Lord and He blessed me game in and game out. If I would get hurt; I would surrender it as God’s will. In the end, he never let me down because I continued to play up until college on a paid scholarship. I suppose it was my reward for being faithful to him.

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31

And that’s exactly why I give my life to our Lord and Savior. In whatever I do, whether it’s a tough situation or one with a positive outcome, I pray God gives me the strength. Not the physical strength of course, but the strength that keeps my spirit uplifted.

In addition, I pray often, Micah and I do bible studies together, I attend church, I form part of a young adult group at church, and I talk to God above and beyond prayer. Now, where I fail is with consistency. It’s hard to continue the routine because after all we are human, we get caught up, we get tired, but God knows our intentions. If it’s for Him, He’ll never leaves us.

Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.

3 John 1:2

It’s my hope for you, that you find God in everything that you do. It’s healthy and it’s a good thing. Again, I challenge you to create those Holy Habits. And do me a great favor, keep me accountable in my fight to cover myself with the Lord.

See you tomorrow as I wrap up Health Week. As always.

Theology Thursday: I am a woman who loves the Lord

Brr, we got some snow today. The entire day was filled with the falling cold, which made school just a little be deary, but just like the students I powered through. Being back in school today was so uplifting. It’s so surprising that motivation comes from being up and about– moving. All the same God dwells in all things good and for that I’m every grateful.

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This morning, my devotion asked me to reflect, “what, in deep things of God, do you still have to discover and see?” For the longest time, the answer to such a question lied in myself and really it’s silly because it’s a question in itself.

The answer: I want to see where I, woman, Alejandra, person, self fit into the realm of God, Jesus and Holy Spirit. What’s my role? I’m discovering that aspect more and more as I grow in faith. It’s interesting. For now God has called me to love without question and fault. Secondly, God has called me to be a servant. This one I’m actively discovering. From the looks of it, it’s so fulfilling and rewarding.

Figuratively speaking one aspect I’d really like to further study is the way women not only served the Lord, but what their role was in the Bible is. It’s difficult for me because Catholicism brings forth the male priest. So on the outside, I don’t see women as the head of church, and that’s okay. However, where do we stand?

During confession, I explained to my priest that my faith was being rocked. It’s natural for society and some relationships to sometimes test our faith. I’ve been there, I’m guilty, and I take blame. The priest told me to read the book of Esther. “It’s short and to the point and once you’re done, you’ll know what God wants from you,” he said. Fair enough.

“Be mindful of us, Lord. Make yourself known in the time of our distress and give me courage, King of gods and Ruler of every power.”

Esther 4: Chapter C: 23

Goodness, was Esther full of courage and hope, but all that strength didn’t come from her own. No way, it came when she trusted the Lord, when she prayed. I’m always a sucker for a woman of prayer. She put all her hope and faith in the Lord and she stood up for what she believed in and guess what? God answered. He’s so amazing and He will always keep us in mind. Again, how beautiful.

As I read further into the book of Esther, I was filled with wonder. She truly did extraordinary things, but she was so successful because of her devotion to God. Her faith was never rocked, her faith was firm and never ending, and even more so she encouraged me to speak about what I believed in.

“Put in my mouth persuasive words in the presence of the lion, and turn his to hatred for our enemy, so that he and his counter-parts by perish. Save us by your power, and help me, who am alone and have no one but you, Lord.

Esther 4: Chapter C: 24-25

In the past, the hardest thing for me was to talk about my faith, not because I was ashamed or embarrassed. Simply, I felt it was an inappropriate subject, come to realize that I was foolish and down right naive. Ha! How can the Lord be poor timing? And that my friends is where discovering the word for me came about. It’s hard to tell people about your faith, but seeking God in these situations allows us to speak with confidence. Plus, God puts the words in our mouths.

I strive to be like Esther, courage and faithful. And if you’re wondering there are more woman like her in the Bible. Women like Mary Magdalene, who was not only the first person to discover Jesus’ tomb, but she was also chosen to go deliver the good news.

Jesus said, “Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

John 20:17

Can we just take a moment to realize that Jesus choose a woman to declare that He was risen. This alone gives me shivers. Indeed, we “women” don’t fall behind. That in itself should challenge us to advance at work, to take control of personal struggles and life, to strive, to accomplish beyond measure, to seek the greater good, and to not give up.

Then there’s Ruth, Joann, Susanna, Martha, and of course our Blessed Mother Mary. The list goes on. So good women, I challenge you to discover not only your place in the spiritual world, but also to establish your ground in faith. And keep me updated, cause I’m here for you, cheering you on.

Theology Thursday: Why evil exists

I’ve pondered on this thought multiple times and it’s been the topic of conversation in various bible study sessions: Why does God allow evil in this world?

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That’s a good question. It’s natural to think that if God is filled with good and He loves us so much then why does he allow us to suffer? Trust me when I say that I’ve been there before; I’ve suffered enough times to blame God for my misfortune.

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.

James 1:13-15

One thing I’ve learned about this “evil-existing-in-our-world” business is that when we are suffering and we are crying, God is present. Remember God loves us so much, so when we suffer, so does He and when we cry, He cries too. Just like James proclaims in the verse above, God didn’t create evil; he doesn’t lead us to sin; he doesn’t tempt us, God gives us free will. He wants us to choose Him and good. But sometimes (and because we are human) we are fueled by our desires. We don’t want to necessarily want to wait for God’s will, but instead we want to do things our way and in our time, hence misfortune taking place.

 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28

And it’s hard, it’s very hard, because we think sure it’s easy to love God when He’s good. But, when things aren’t, we turn against him, when in reality all He really wants is for us to trust him and to seek Him. Also, what we fail to understand is that God puts us through situations so that we can endure and be faithful.

Right now there are a million and one tragedies happening all around the world. It seems like everyday there are mass shootings, natural disasters, corruption, despair, and famine, which are tormenting, alienating, and killing mankind.

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Romans 12:12

But there is hope in prayer because God has hope in us.

We are his creation. We are like a 16-year-old rebel adolescent who doesn’t understand his parents. He implore to be understood, he talks back and mistreats the good parents, who only want what’s best. He fails to see the lesson, so he leaves home in search of his own purpose, meanwhile the parents weep and antagonize themselves. Day after day, the parents cry and pray for their child’s safe arrival. They wait patiently. Then, that adolescent returns, and the parents rejoice.

I imagine that to be our relationship with God. He wants us to learn from our mistakes. In doing so, we will stumble, and many of us will fall gravely; we will see much despair and faithless actions, but God will always be there with open arms. He will welcome us into his glory. All we have to do is pray and be merciful.

Always and Again: Traditional Print

Today is a special day for me spiritually, but also culturally. It’s the day we celebrate our Blessed Mother, Virgin Mary.

In the Latin American culture, Mary appeared to San Juan Diego. For those of you who don’t know the story, San Juan Diego, a humble native Indian carried out what the virgin specified. And so, Mexico converted to Christianity when the first church was built in 1531 in Tepeyac. This part of history is important, as I celebrate this daily while I try to live in a pleasing way for my God.

Now something significant that I acknowledge about the Virgin Mary and San Juan Diego is that they were both obedient and said yes. Mary said yes to God and hence our Savior was born. San Juan Diego said yes and hence I’m able to know and practice my faith.

I suppose the lesson in all of this is to say yes!

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Today, I’m reminded a lot about culture. I’m proud of roots. When I saw this traditional piece, typical of the state of Veracruz, Mexico, I had to have it. Why, because it reminds me of my ancestors, my family, my culture, and my motherland. I’m proud to be American, but I’m even more proud to be Mexican-American.

That’s why, this piece of clothing has been repeated Always and Again. It’s a favorite and from this post, I hope you can see why.

Theology Thursday: Advent

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Ever since I can remember, during the month of December, something wonderful would take place every single year.

The church would dress in purple. My favorite color. I would marvel at the drapery, the candles, and the priest in the most wonderful shade of purple.

Later, this sudden change at church would mean that Christmas was right around the corner.

While my family instilled that the true meaning of Christmas wasn’t just about getting presents, but the most significant present we would receive was the birth of our Lord and Savior; I wasn’t too sure of the true meaning of Christmas and advent.

Yes, I knew that Jesus was born for the sins of this world, and that it wasn’t easy for Mary and Joseph to make that journey. At home, we had the nativity set up underneath the tree and only a handful of presents. In addition, our family celebrated Posadas and we prayed rosaries leading up to Christmas Eve. That was routine, it was scheduled, it was always present. I understood that we “had” to do those things.

It wasn’t until recently (remember my faith is maturing) that I realized what all that actually meant beyond the sole significant purpose.

The wreath, the purple, the nativity set, the praying, that was all in preparation. It was a preparation for what’s to come– peace, joy, and hope.

Now that’s a merry season!

 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting  Father, Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

 As of Sunday, I’ve been contemplating how I was going to prepare my soul for Christ in a way that would be dignifying . It’s a hard thing to do when in reality it shouldn’t be. What I didn’t realize was that Jesus already had it all planned out. It’s wonderful when he sneaks up on us like that. Like Isaiah said in the verse above He is our wonderful counselor.

My preparation for his coming will be a part of this year’s Christmas Play my church puts together every year. The role I’ll be playing is none other than Virgin Mary. What a blessing!

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be done to me as you have said.”

Luke 1:38

This year for Christmas I’m hoping to gift my time to the Lord through this play and through the role of Mary. I’m offering this as pure servitude. God has called me to play this part because he want me to be like Mary, faithful and hopeful of what’s to come. And like her, He wants me to pray. I can’t think of a better way to prepare for this holiday season than to be my Lord’s servant.

How do you prepare for advent and Christmas?

Theology Thursday: Giving Thanks

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Every time I think of the wonderful things God gives me, I’m naturally grateful.

Just simply thinking that God has granted me life for more than 28 years is enough to sing praises to my Lord. I’ve been given so much. I have two wonderful parents that have given their lives for me. I have two wonderful brothers who have both have pestered me, but have always uplifted me too. I have a wonderful career and education. I have a wonderful boyfriend, who has taught me to believe in love all over again.

One can say I have it all.

In my heart I know who has given me all of these, again, “wonderful” deeds. It’s my Lord and Savior and I want shout it over the roof tops.

However, I’ve been in situations where things weren’t all that grand. I’ve suffered, I’ve cried, I’ve known heartache. So does God put me through pain too?

St. Mother Teresa once said that God wouldn’t put her through something she couldn’t handle. I agree. Even in the most deepest and darkest moments of my life I greatly believe that God is trying to tell me something. He’s trying to prepare me for something greater and beyond anything I can even withstand.

6 Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God. 7 Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7

St. Paul wrote to the Philippians asking them to seek the Lord in their time of anguish. But, he also wanted them to give thanks in doing so. God wants us to have peace. But, he wants to help us find that peace because we can’t do it alone, and why would we when we have a Father so willing and able to be our shield. Just thinking about how “wonderful” God is, makes me even more thankful.

8 Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 Keep on doing what you have learned and received and heard and seen in me. Then the God of peace will be with you.

Philippians 4:8-9

While it’s important for me to give thanks for all the good God gives me I also need to hold myself accountable for everything that might not always go as smoothly as planned. Even in the bad, it can always be worthy of praise. Because if God puts me through it; he will help me through it. This verse tell us that we need to learn from our suffering because it’s in that moment that God wants us to grow. It’s in that moment that God is holding our hand. It’s in that moment that God is lighting our path.

On this Thanksgiving day, I praise the Lord for the lessons I have yet to learn. For the good, for the bad, and for being at peace.