Thursday, June 18, 2015

~ Twentieth Year, Month 12 ~

Well, today was my last day being 20! I've been meaning to post this all month... And here I am finishing it an hour before I'm 21. Of course. ;) It's been a wild ride the past 12 months and my 21st year couldn't look any brighter. I'm extremely grateful for all the rough bumps, loving friends, fun adventures, and lessons learned within the past year. I'm sure I'll be learning plenty more!
Here's just a handful of things I have been learning the last few months. :)

1. Don't wait - work toward your goals every day.
It's so easy to let different little things that come up prevent you from working steadily toward your goal. I find myself saying, "Oh I'll just wait till this happens, and then do that... I'll wait for that to do this..." etc. All the while, I'm not putting my all into reaching my goals. Instead, if I do need to wait on something, I should still be investing as much as I am able toward my goals. This has been pounded into me the past few months and something I've really taken to heart and learned the value of it's truth. Even if I have to take baby steps as I press forward daily, they are steps, and they matter. Working toward my goals each day is the only way to truly invest myself in them with zeal, and the only way I can cooperate with God to reach them in His timing - not mine...

2. The past is done and gone, you only have the present to work with. 
What happened in the past is done and gone, what happens in the future is yet to be done, and all that is left to work with is right this moment. There are a handful of things in my past I wish I could change and have done differently, things wish I could have fixed, things I wish were not done and gone... But no matter how hard I try, what happened in the past can't be undone, can't be changed, and can't be "fixed". I don't know the future. I can't even say what will happen tomorrow. All I have to work with is the present time. The present is all I have to strive to do God's will and shape my future. I only have right now to nurture my relationships, to make decisions and choices, and to do the right thing. The past year, I spent a lot of my time trying to fix things from my past that couldn't necessarily be fixed by me - only by God. It was exhausting and kept me from focusing on what mattered most - the present moment. This was one of the hardest lessons for me to learn because it meant letting go of people and things. I don't like "giving up" on what I wish to make right, but sometimes you have to. Good news is, God never lets it go to waste. He uses mistakes from our past to create something good and beautiful that forms us and has the potential to influence our future for the better. After experiencing all of this, I want to focus more on doing my best in the present moment. Love more, give more, and do more right here, right now.

3. True friends are one of the most valuable gems we can possess. Treasure them.
I keep learning more and more about how I can be a better friend, and how grateful I am for the ones I do have. I've been blessed with friends who really care about me and my soul. They are amazing people I could go to for anything, and would do anything for. One of the many things I learned this year about friendship is to not neglect the ones I have. It's easy to get wrapped up in our own little worlds and not stay in touch, not be there for one another, and neglect spending time checking in on one another and spending quality time together. But it is SO important! True friendship is a beautiful gift from God and a way we can stay close to Him. The past year I would find myself locking myself up and pushing my friends away, instead of pulling them closer. I soon realized how much life good friends bring to the soul and how important it is to treasure them and nurture the friendships I have.

4. Loving others is hard. It is a conscious choice. 
The media is really talented at hiding this fact of life. Love is popularly depicted as easy, without sacrifice, and something that just happens with little to no control. What about our day to day love we have in our hearts? It is easy to love when the situation is easy, when we like the person, and when it doesn't require any self-sacrifice. But what about when it isn't easy? Those moments we have to make a choice to love? That's when it gets difficult and the moment to truly pour out love from ourselves quickly passes. Thousands of times I have had that moment, but in my irritation, obliviousness, and self-centeredness I missed my chance to make a true act of love. By God's grace, loving others with a pure loving heart becomes easier the closer we are to Him. Yet, there will be times when our love is tested. Am I only loving others when it is convenient for me to love them? What about when it is inconvenient? Loving others is hard the majority of the time, and trying to love better, and love more is something that has really been on my mind and heart lately.

5. Discipline is a beautiful thing, that is vital to becoming who God wants you to be. 
During my 20th year, out of the many things I learned and experienced, I would say what I have lacked most is discipline. While striving to obtain it, I have realized just how beautiful a life of discipline is. And not to mention how HARD. I noticed whenever I slacked in discipline, I slacked in loving God as I ought, being who He wants me to be, and what I should do. Living a life with discipline is essential to fulfilling our purpose and becoming a saint. As I head into my 21st year, growing in discipline will be one of my many endeavors.

Con amore in Cristo,

Monday, May 18, 2015

Evening Ride

“The best remedy for those who are afraid, lonely or unhappy is to go outside, somewhere where they can be quite alone with the heavens, nature and God. Because only then does one feel that all is as it should be and that God wishes to see people happy, amidst the simple beauty of nature. As longs as this exists, and it certainly always will, I know that then there will always be comfort for every sorrow, whatever the circumstances may be. And I firmly believe that nature brings solace in all troubles.” 
~ Anne Frank

I couldn't agree more with dear Anne. The truth in her words is some of the most relevant in my own life. Sleeping outside, watching the billions of stars and a few satellites drift by, for hours into the night. Grabbing my camera and spending an hour or so capturing the beauty around me. Watching the clouds from the hammock. Biking for hours and miles through the countryside. 

All of these pastimes when I was surrounded by nature, everything truly felt as it should be. As hard, confusing, painful, or crazy my life was during those moments, things felt as they should be. Everything else deteriorated away and all that was left was me, God, and nature. I was more receptable to whatever God wanted to place in my heart. It was easier to know how I really felt about things. I was more open to receiving His peace. Everything else didn't matter in those moments. 

Most of all, in those moments when it was just me and God's creation, I could never doubt His existence. No matter how alone or broken I felt, He was there and His presence was overwhelming. 

There, away from everything, nature directed my thoughts to what really mattered. While consoling, it guided me to the one true consolation.

After a hard and full day of landscaping, I went out on my first bike ride of the summer. I had forgotten how much I love bike riding and how much it gets my mind off of things. It was the first of many more rides to come the next few months. Regardless of my messy, messy life, nature never fails to remind me, everything is as it should be. 

Con amore in Cristo,

Sunday, May 10, 2015


I have been thinking about motherhood and mothers a lot lately. Thinking about how they do it... Thinking about the immeasurable love that overflows the heart of a mother... The miracle of motherhood is simply mind-blowing. To me, it is something so incredible I won't ever be able to fully comprehend it's beauty and loveliness. Of course, mothers are just as human as you and I, they make mistakes, they have faults, but I believe that is what makes their beauty even more marvelous. Because in spite of their errors and shortcomings, they still grow, birth, raise, teach, comfort, and love their children with all that they are... 24/7. Even in those grueling every-day moments, when motherhood is being tested to it's very limits, there is a divine mystery being lived out. It is beautiful.

All of this is a humbling thing to reflect on... To be entrusted with the souls given to you by God to bring to heaven is something beyond comprehension. We all witness it every day; it is the biggest responsibility and honor one can be given. 

Too often, I neglect to be as grateful as I should for my own mother. Too often I lack appreciation and take for granted the love she has for me. Yet, even when it seems like I'm not listening, I am. When it seems like I don't care, I do. Even when it seems like I'm not looking, I see. I see a mother who always puts her children, the souls entrusted to her, before herself with undying love and patience. Even when they are, and especially I am, extremely undeserving. 

Day by day, moment by moment, a mother nurtures her child, another precious human being. Building them up into who they are meant to be. Many moments pass by unthanked, many you won't remember, but through all of these moments you become who you are. Behind who you are, there lives a devoted and compassionate mother, who cares and has a love unlike any other for you. 

Happy Mother's Day. 

“The homemaker has the ultimate career. 

All other careers exist for one purpose only - 

and that is to support the ultimate career. ”

- C.S. Lewis

Con amore in Cristo,

Sunday, April 19, 2015

~ Twentieth Year, Month 10 ~

Wow, in 2 months, my 20th year will be behind me, I will officially be a junior in college, and a whole new year of possibilities will be ahead of me! Reflecting on the past several months, so much change, struggle, joy, pain, and discovery has taken place. The following are just a handful of things I learned that touch on topics I plan on writing about in the near future. 

This year with both my ups and downs, I am so in love with life, and grateful to be here striving to do whatever God asks of me. I hope some of what I learned is enlightening in some way!

1. I am capable of so much more than I realize.
As time goes on, and as I follow God's will, and challenge myself to do as much as I can, I am realizing more and more how much we can accomplish if we just go for it. This year I have been given opportunities where I would juggle more than I'm used to and my limits would be tested. In November, I had my first wedding as a photographer in Wisconsin, and I was on my own without a partner. BIG responsibility! This experience taught me how I am capable of much more than I realize if I set my mind to something and work hard to succeed. We all have periods of time where we cut ourselves short, underestimate ourselves, doubt our abilities, don't do as much as we could. This could be for many reasons, fear, lack of priorities, lack of confidence, or simply laziness. Yet, this isn't what God calls us to! At that pace, by the time we stand before Him in judgment, will even half of what He wanted from us have been completed? God can do so much through us if only we let Him. This quote by Thomas Edison has never rung more true to me. "If we did all the things we are capable of, we would literally astound ourselves." 

2. Not everyone will like me, and that's okay.
Last summer and throughout the school year this lesson was contemplated every now and then, and just recently it really hit me hard. I've never been much of a people pleaser, but if someone who I thought liked me as a person and was my friend begins to be neither with no explanation, it does take a stab at me. It doesn't happen often, so each time I learn something new. This year, I learned to accept it more and not dwell on it - much against my nature! I want to fix things, find solutions, and to love and be loved. However, it can't always be that way. You can't force friendship, it is a special gift of self in which the receiver has to choose whether to accept or decline. When it is occasionally declined, even when you thought it was accepted, it's best to let it go as quickly as possible and be kind. Not everyone will want you in their life, not everyone will like you, but that is okay. 

3. Always be gracious, especially when it's hardest to be. 
I plan on writing a post on this topic, but I wanted to include it in my list because in February, I had never been so tested in my ability to be gracious toward others who had hurt me. I learned just how much strength being gracious takes, how much we rely on God to direct our behavior. We can talk the talk, but walking the walk is a whole other ball game! Putting my beliefs into personal action was too draining to try and handle on my own, and those are the moments in life we need to give God our problems. Being gracious doesn't just mean being courteous, kind, and pleasant. In the dictionary, it's also defined as, showing divine grace. Throughout the bible Christians are called to practice graciousness, one example is Colossians 4:6, "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." In different experiences, I have learned just how difficult this can be, but also just how important as well. We have to choose if we are going to respond to those who hurt us the way the world and our vices want us to, or how God wants us to. 
"Many great things depend — don't forget it — on whether you and I live our lives as God wants." 
- St. Josemaria Escriva The Way, 755

4. God can only form you outside your comfort-zone. 
God cannot mold us, transform us, and form us into who He created us to be if we hide away, never challenge ourselves, never take risks, or avoid whatever makes us nervous or uncomfortable. How can we become who God wants us to be and fulfill our purpose if we never face and overcome our fears? The past several months I learned just how much of what I'm called to do is on the other side of fear. Yes, it's scary. Very scary! But throughout my 20th year I've been learning how much lies on the other side of my comfort-zone, and how much more God can work in my life when I'm not afraid to cross it. I also learned how sometimes I'm not going to like it even after I cross that line. What I want isn't always the right thing, what I want usually isn't what God wants. He gives me what I need, and the more I let Him form me, the more I will want what I need. 

"Whether we like it or not, God intends to give us what we need, not what we now think we want."
-CS Lewis

Con amore in Cristo,

Friday, April 3, 2015

No Greater Love Than This

"Pilate addressed them once more, desiring to release Jesus; but they shouted out, 'Crucify, crucify him!' A third time he said to them, 'Why, what evil has he done? I have found in him no crime deserving death; I will therefore chastise him and release him.' But they were urgent, demanding with loud cries that he should be crucified. And their voices prevailed. So Pilate gave sentence that their demand should be granted..." 
- Luke 23:20-24

He died for our salvation,
Out of love for us. 
Undeserving are we,
Of this great love,
Which we cannot fully comprehend.
There is no greater love than this.
How can we not love Him in return? 
He chose to make atonement for our sins.
Abandoned, falsely accused,
Beaten, mocked, tortured,
Unloved was He.
How can we not love Him in return?
Innocent was our Lord,
Guilty and sinful are we.
He loves us anyway.
How can we not love Him in return?
Lacerated head to foot,
And every drop of His blood,
Poured out for us,
That we may be saved.
How can we not love Him in return?
He suffered the most horrific torture,
all because He loves us.
There is no greater love than this,
How can we not love Him in return?


"Mount Calvary is the academy of love."
- St. Francis de Sales

Con amore in Cristo,

The Crucifixtion

The Anatomical And Physiological Details Of Death By Crucifixion:
By Dr. C. Truman Davis
A Physician Analyzes the Crucifixion.
From New Wine Magazine, April 1982.
Originally published in Arizona Medicine,
March 1965, Arizona Medical Association.

Crucifixion was invented by the Persians in 300 BC, and perfected by the Romans in 100 BC.

1. It is the most painful death ever invented by man and is where we get our term “excruciating.”

2. It was reserved primarily for the most vicious of male criminals.
Jesus refused the anaesthetic wine which was offered to Him by the Roman soldiers because of His promise in Matthew 26: 29, “But I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom.”

3. Jesus was stripped naked and His clothing divided by the Roman guards. This was in fulfilment of Psalm 22:18, “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.”

4. The Crucifixion of Jesus guaranteed a horrific, slow, painful death.
Having been nailed the Cross, Jesus now had an impossible anatomical position to maintain.

5. Jesus’ knees were flexed at about 45 degrees, and He was forced to bear His weight with the muscles of His thigh, which is not an anatomical position which is possible to maintain for more than a few minutes without severe cramp in the muscles of the thigh and calf.

6. Jesus’ weight was borne on His feet, with nails driven through them.
As the strength of the muscles of Jesus’ lower limbs tired, the weight of His body had to be transferred to His wrists, His arms, and His shoulders.

7. Within a few minutes of being placed on the Cross, Jesus’ shoulders were dislocated.
Minutes later Jesus’ elbows and wrists became dislocated.

8. The result of these upper limb dislocations is that His arms were 9 inches longer than normal, as clearly shown on the Shroud.

9. In addition prophecy was fulfilled in Psalm 22:14, “I am poured out like water, and all My bones are out of joint.”

10. After Jesus’ wrists, elbows, and shoulders were dislocated, the weight of His body on his upper limbs caused traction forces on the Pectoralis Major muscles of His chest wall.

11. These traction forces caused His rib cage to be pulled upwards and outwards, in a most unnatural state. His chest wall was permanently in a position of maximal respiratory inspiration. In order to exhale, Jesus was physiologically required to force His body.

12. In order to breathe out, Jesus had to push down on the nails in His feet to raise His body, and allow His rib cage to move downwards and inwards to expire air from His lungs.

His lungs were in a resting position of constant maximum inspiration.
Crucifixion is a medical catastrophe.

14. The problem was that Jesus could not easily push down on the nails in His feet because the muscles of His legs, bent at 45 degrees, were extremely fatigued, in severe cramp, and in an anatomically compromised position.

15. Unlike all Hollywood movies about the Crucifixion, the victim was extremely active.
The crucified victim was physiologically forced to move up and down the cross, a distance of about 12 inches, in order to breathe.

16. The process of respiration caused excruciating pain, mixed with the absolute terror of asphyxiation.

17. As the six hours of the Crucifixion wore on, Jesus was less and less able to bear His weight on His legs, as His thigh and calf muscles became increasingly exhausted.
There was increasing dislocation of His wrists, elbows and shoulders, and further elevation of His chest wall, making His breathing more and more difficult
Within minutes of crucifixion Jesus became severely dyspnoeic (short of breath).

18. His movements up and down the Cross to breathe caused excruciating pain in His wrist, His feet, and His dislocated elbows and shoulders.

19. The movements became less frequent as Jesus became increasingly exhausted, but the terror of imminent death by asphyxiation forced Him to continue in His efforts to breathe.

20. Jesus’ lower limb muscles developed excruciating cramp from the effort of pushing down on His legs, to raise His body, so that He could breathe out, in their anatomically compromised position.

21. The pain from His two shattered median nerves in His wrists exploded with every movement.

22. Jesus was covered in blood and sweat.

23. The blood was a result of the Scourging that nearly killed Him, and the sweat as a result of His violent involuntary attempts to effort to expire air from His lungs.
Throughout all this He was completely naked, and the leaders of the Jews, the crowds, and the thieves on both sides of Him were jeering, swearing and laughing at Him.
In addition, Jesus’ own mother was watching.

24. Physiologically, Jesus’ body was undergoing a series of catastrophic and terminal events.

25. Because Jesus could not maintain adequate ventilation of His lungs, He was now in a state of hypoventilation (inadequate ventilation).

26. His blood oxygen level began to fall, and He developed Hypoxia (low blood oxygen).
In addition, because of His restricted respiratory movements, His blood carbon dioxide (CO2) level began to rise, a condition known as Hypercapnia.

27. This rising CO2 level stimulated His heart to beat faster in order to increase the delivery of oxygen, and the removal of CO2

28. The Respiratory Centre in Jesus’ brain sent urgent messages to his lungs to breathe faster, and Jesus began to pant.

29. Jesus’ physiological reflexes demanded that He took deeper breaths, and He involuntarily moved up and down the Cross much faster, despite the excruciating pain.
The agonising movements spontaneously started several times a minute, to the delight of the crowd who jeered Him, the Roman soldiers, and the Sanhedrin.

30. However, due to the nailing of Jesus to the Cross and His increasing exhaustion, He was unable to provide more oxygen to His oxygen starved body.

31. The twin forces of Hypoxia (too little oxygen) and Hypercapnia (too much CO2) caused His heart to beat faster and faster, and Jesus developed Tachycardia.

32. Jesus’ heart beat faster and faster, and His pulse rate was probably about 220 beats/ minute, the maximum normally sustainable.

33. Jesus had drunk nothing for 15 hours, since 6 pm the previous evening.
Jesus had endured a scourging which nearly killed Him.

34. He was bleeding from all over His body following the Scourging, the crown of thorns, the nails in His wrists and feet, and the lacerations following His beatings and falls.

35. Jesus was already very dehydrated, and His blood pressure fell alarmingly.

36. His blood pressure was probably about 80/50.

37. He was in First Degree Shock, with Hypovolaemia (low blood volume), Tachycardia (excessively fast Heart Rate), Tachypnoea (excessively fast Respiratory Rate), and Hyperhidrosis (excessive sweating).

38. By about noon Jesus’ heart probably began to fail.

39. Jesus’ lungs probably began to fill up with Pulmonary Oedema.

40. This only served to exacerbate His breathing, which was already severely compromised.

41. Jesus was in Heart Failure and Respiratory Failure.

43. Jesus was in desperate need of an intravenous infusion of blood and plasma to save His life.

44. Jesus could not breathe properly and was slowly suffocating to death.

45. At this stage Jesus probably developed a Haemopericardium.

46. Plasma and blood gathered in the space around His heart, called the Pericardium.

47. This fluid around His heart caused Cardiac Tamponade (fluid around His heart, which prevented Jesus’ heart from beating properly).

49. To slow the process of death the soldiers put a small wooden seat on the Cross, which would allow Jesus the “privilege” of bearing His weight on his sacrum.

50. The effect of this was that it could take up to nine days to die on a Cross.

51. When the Romans wanted to expedite death they would simply break the legs of the victim, causing the victim to suffocate in a matter of minutes. This was called Crucifragrum.

52. At three o’clock in the afternoon Jesus said, “Tetelastai,” meaning, “It is finished.”
At that moment, He gave up His Spirit, and He died.

53. When the soldiers came to Jesus to break His legs, He was already dead. Not a bone of His body was broken, in fulfilment of prophecy (above).

54. Jesus died after six hours of the most excruciating and terrifying torture ever invented.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Learn All You Can

This is a page from my journal 12 years ago, I believe I was quoting the Baltimore Catechism. I recently came across it again, and it's truth is just as prevalent as ever in my life right now. Reading it again prompted me to ask myself some serious questions...

Am I taking my faith seriously? 
Am I learning all I can? 
Do I love God more than myself? 
Do I love others for the sake of the love of God? 

These are questions that need to be asked every day. It's so easy to forget what matters most and get caught up in the hectic agendas of our lives. It doesn't take much for us to become preoccupied in our own little worlds and not see the bigger picture, or the purpose of things, or all those around us whom we should be loving and not ignoring. Each day we are either getting closer or further from heaven - now that is an adventure of a life time! How can it be put on the back burner?

Each of these questions are something I think are perfect for asking ourselves especially during the season of Lent. Learn all you can...

Con amore in Cristo,