Sunday, November 27, 2011

Torn to Shreds

I am so torn in this very moment.

The only thing that springs to mind is the song "If I had a million dollars"!

Out of nowhere, I got this irky feeling in my heart tonight. I miss Haiti!

There is a trip in January, but I have major projects going on at work. (I also want to go back to school for Photography, whether that means a traditional semester/college thing or a year long seminar type thing, I don't know yet)

All things are prohibited by one thing. My job. Which is not truly the blocker. The things that are paid for by the job really are. The biggest of that being my rent. I've actually always struggled with the desire to leave my "9-5" job. Maybe because when I left college at 19, I immediately started working a Monday-Friday, 8am-4:30pm job and haven't stopped since. I missed the years of monthly winter breaks, spring breaks, summer breaks from May to August. Now, I support myself completely.

I am not complaining, just pondering. There are things in life I know God is calling me to do. The two things that are specifically clear are to be a part of Mission Haiti and to dive into Photography. How can I do that while working full time?

I know I can be a stationary mission as far as Haiti goes, through prayer and monetary support, but how does one be a stationary photographer?

"If I had a million dollars..."

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Christ the King...

Last night, I was able to attend Catholic Underground CT's November Event last night. I had only been to one Catholic Underground before and it was years ago and in NY.

I had no idea that today was the Feast of Christ the King. There was a brief homily after the reading. We heard that in Latin, the words actually translate "Christ the King of". I could not stop smiling the entire time in the chapel after he made that statement. Christ is King of...everything. The person who was speaking (I apologize for not remembering his name) said, "of the created world and anything uncreated".

Christ will reign as King over any thing to come into creation until the end of created things. The vastness of our God is unimaginable. The small things I constantly stumble over pale in comparison to the greatness of His reign, but He is King of those small things too. He is King of the universe. He is the King of my heart.

Most importantly, I have to allow Christ to reign as King of my mind. The parts of my mind that are so prone to my human nature, and to sin. The weakness in me that leads me to give into the temptations that fill into my mind need to be reigned by His Kingship. Then, and only then, can I triump in the victory that He won for me on the cross.

Thank you for your sacrifice, my shepard and my King!

Friday, November 18, 2011

7 Quick Takes-Friday!

7 Quick Take Friday- Hosted by Jennifer at Conversion Diary! Be sure to check out her 7 Quick Takes!

I haven't done this in a while, but getting back to the blog scene. Here we go!

1~ The sun is out today and although I'm still feeling sick, I will try to go out locally with my camera! I haven't shot any pictures in over a week and feel like I'm going to lose my touch!

2~ I have cooked a ridiculous amount of food this week. I went grocery shopping and in my efforts to eat better and stop wasting money on cut-rate food at the restaurant at work, I bought tons of groceries. I got fall veggies, chicken/beef broth, turkey sausage, eggs, beans, ground turkey, healthy pasta. I spend a lot of money and have been cooking like a hound to avoid wasting a single thing. So far the only thing I lost was one red pepper.

3~ First, I made a big Turkey Chili. Froze about half in a large container (to take out if friends come over), the rest in small containers and left one in the fridge for dinner). That same day, I cleaned one bunch of escarole and made sauteed Escarole and Beans. Then I roasted a Spaghetti Squash. I made a small sauce to go over that to bring for lunch!

4~ On Monday, I made a small sauce to go over the spaghetti squash to bring for lunch!

5~ Wednesday, I washed all the dishes from cooking so far and blanched Cauliflower/Brussell Sprouts to freeze them. I think I might do this from now on with veggies that are only really fresh certain times of the year.

6~ Last night, I made Escarole and Bean soup with the other bunch of escarole, and made Sweet Potato soup also. I froze the Sweet Potato soup. I now have soup for the rest of the week to eat, and a stocked freezer full of homemade food! I also made hard boiled Eggs and a batch of Oatmeal Chocolate Chips!

7~ Thank you to the internet for recipes and how-to videos. This week would have been a major fail without the following helps: (Check them out for great cooking tips/ideas/guides)
You Tube
The Food Network
Article (PDF Form) on Blanching

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

God Speaks when We Listen!

I knew. I knew God needed to talk directly to my heart. (Not in the crazy, "God told me to do it" sort of way either) I am not sure I would have ever given in to the prompting had I not gone to confession on my birthday. 

After an amazing confession (the kind where you just know it's Jesus present in the Sacrament because such a truth is spoken, it washes away any doubt), I knew. I knew He wanted to speak straight to my heart. I knew I needed Him to to tell me something huge. Was I ready to hear it? I wasn't sure. 

The priest told me that if I didn't know the source of my struggle, then I didn't know myself. Quite the shocker, right? How could I not know myself? I'm 27 years old, I have a job, my own place...I know who I am...I know...right? Then I realized that none of these things define me. I realized how right this priest was. I needed to find myself buried under this struggle that has been plaguing my life. I struggled to face the facts. 

Then it dawned on me. 

I had spent years telling teenagers that God speaks in the silence. I am sure I can speak for many when I say, that just isn't something I find anywhere in my day to day life. I found a place to make a Trenton, NJ (about 3 hours away). I was glad though because on that route, I know 2 Christian radio stations so I could leave my iPod distraction at home! I was about 40 minutes away from the place when I heard the following lines of a song called "Love Me" by JJ Heller (video at the bottom of post!)

 "...Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside and it said..."I have watched you suffer all of your life and now that you'll listen I'll, I'll tell you that I...I will love you for you not for what you have done...I will love you for you, I will give you the love, the love that you never knew..."

I began to cry. Then I thought, "Wait, no...not here in the car...I can't have this major revelation in the car! It needs to be in a chapel, quiet...or something more holy!" Of course that is not true. As soon as we are willing to listen, God is ready to speak. Those words broke through to the core of my heart. 

I now I knew the source, I was ready to see it, sit with it, and begin to invite God's healing love into the wounds. I left that weekend of silence knowing more than ever that my God loves me for me! He created me so of course He loves me. It has been amazing! I hope the song can help you too...

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Photo Clarity - Meditation on Scripture

In the Gospel of Matthew, is one of my favorite stories (parables). The Parable of the Sower. In it, Jesus explains what happens when people hear about the Kingdom of Heaven. Depending on where their hearts are depends on what they hear and take away from it. You can check out the full parable over at Bible Gateway, feel free to check out just about any edition of the Bible there!

If you are familiar with  it, when you see the image, it will most likely make sense to you, but if not, I will highlight the parable piece and it's explanation, then share a short meditation.

"...Behold, the sower went out to sow; ...Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out..." -Matthew 13:3,7    

"When anyone hears the word of the kingdom...the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful..."  -Matthew 13: 19,22

While I am certain that one tree was growing around the broken one and the broken one was probably broken by a storm, not due to the "choking" of the winding one, I thought this displayed this concept so beautifully in nature.

How many times do we feel "choked" by the constant stress of this life? Are we able to do anything fruitful during these times? I bet mostly not. St. Theresa of Avila asserts in her book, Interior Castles, that a soul in mortal sin can not bare fruit, even in doing good acts. When we let the "deceitfulness of wealth" get in the way of our lives, we often get caught up in our pride, our wants, and focus only on ourselves. A life focused on selfish desires and needs leads very little room for fruit. How can we lay our lives down for others, lend a helping hand, be involved with our families, if we can't get beyond our own needs and wants? I would love to meet someone who can manage to be selfish and selfless at the same time.

Interestingly enough, when we hear God's word, the invitation to give our lives as a means of love for others, it is no surprise that it makes no sense to us. Society surely does not support this calling. Yet Jesus tells us, that seed that falls on good ground, those who hear the word of God and cultivate it in their hearts, "this is the man who hears the word and understands it...indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." (Matthew 13:23)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Photo Illusion-Meditation on the Cross

This past weekend, I took myself on retreat. Long story short, they had beautiful grounds. I took tons of pictures, you can check out some of them here! The strange thing is there were certain images I saw in the nature surrounding me that was not just simply beautiful. There was something more than just beauty.

This picture is one of them. Honestly, if you think you see a mess, you are right. But look deeper. Think deeper. There was a song we used to sing when I was in the children's choir way back when. I couldn't find it online but when I saw this tree, one line popped into my head, "three empty crosses, stood on a hill...".

If you have studied crucifixion at all, from what I remember, the vertical post was already at the place of crucifixion and the condemned person had to carry the horizontal piece on their shoulders, not like most images we see of Christ carrying the entire cross. Then what was left was the posts. I imagine they were re-used and not left to become overgrown...but I couldn't help ponder this. Is this image similar to what became of the area where Christ was crucified between the other two men? Simple wooden posts, overgrown, forgotten. The great meaning not only the middle post had, for the obvious reasons that it held our God, suffering for our sins, but also the one man who died assured of Heaven due to his faith in Christ at the end. The third post reminding us of the cost of pride and sin. Years later, overgrown, did people pass by that place and wonder what once had been? Not realizing what sacred ground they walked across? Ground that once was soaked with the blood of Jesus? The very blood I wait in line to receive at Mass?

This led to the thought of how many times we pass by Jesus on the crucifixes in our own Churches, in our homes, in schools (Religious ones of course), and forget the blood shed for our sins. We do not have to travel to the hill of Calvary to walk that sacred ground where our Lord's blood was shed. We see that Sacrifice every time we go to Mass. How often do we not even notice it then? How often do we let our distractions win out instead of giving into the truest desires of our hearts to be drawn closer to Him? How many opportunities are we given to be thankful for our salvation? How many times do we walk by?

Let us take a moment, in whatever we do in a day, and thank Him for the cross!