I'm trying to walk by faith while giving nothing but love along the way while seeking the love of our Heavenly Father. Will you walk with me?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Pirate pride.

As my first semester of college comes to an end, I look back on these past couple of months with a smile on my face. Despite some bumps in the road here and there, I honestly could not have asked for a better first semester of college, or a better college to attend. It's funny the way things turn out.

If you asked me this time last year where I wanted to go to college, Seton Hall would not have even crossed my mind. I only applied there because my religion teacher thought that I would like it and that it wouldn't hurt to apply because my school had an instant decision day for Seton Hall. And with that, Seton Hall was added to my common application list. Coincidentally enough, Seton Hall was the first school I got in to. But even still, I had a much different plan. I wanted to attend Saint Joseph's University and I wanted to become a special education teacher and work with children with autism. However, God had a much different plan for me, even down to my major. Although it may not have been what I thought I wanted, it was definitely what I needed. And God's plan is always the best plan, even when it leaves us to follow it kicking and screaming. With that said, I got wait-listed from SJU because I'm a terrible standardized test taker and I visited Seton Hall, and adored it. The biggest prayer I had during the college application process was to end up at a school that will help me grow in my faith and make me fall more in love with Christ. And lets just say that God knew what He was doing and that He knew Seton Hall was the place for me. I was meant to be a pirate all along.

This semester has been such an incredible faith journey and I know that there was no where better for that to happen than Seton Hall. I have had some amazing faith opportunities from daily mass, to Saint Paul's Outreach, to late night conversations. I have become more aware and sure of God's love and His faithfulness. I have fallen more madly in love with Him and have desired to serve Him more than ever. My faith has taken a serious next step and I know that this wouldn't be able without all God has blessed me with at Seton Hall. I can't even begin to describe all of the powerful God moments. He has just been so present this semester. He has been there and He has been a constant friend. I have and continue to learn how to depend on Him and how to be fully satisfied in Him. Each day, He does something new that captures my heart and Seton Hall has helped me to see this more and more. Even my major helps me grown in faith. I get to learn about faith because of my major and that is so awesome. I'm receiving an awesome education while growing in faith. It can't get much better than that!

God has truly blessed me in the most tremendous ways. Some of the blessings were in disguise, but they were some pretty great blessings nonetheless. One of the biggest blessings was the people God has brought into my life through Seton Hall and SPO this semester. I have met some of the most genuinely amazing people. It's amazing how close you can get to someone in a matter of almost four months. But I have made some incredible friends who I am certain will be my friends for the rest of my life. These people have been by my side through every up and down throughout this semester. Their support, love, and acceptance has been unreal. I'm in awe at how these people have genuinely cared about my well being and have been so quick to offer support, advice, guidance, prayers or just a fun time. These people have been such an example of God's love and I really can't thank them enough for allowing Him to use them in my life. Words cannot express my gratitude to have them in my life. I don't think I have ever laughed as much with any other people than I have at Seton Hall.

To those people who are reading this, thank you from the bottom of my heart. You have touched my life in an extraordinary way and my first semester of college would not be as amazing as it was without you. Thank you for accepting me the way I am and for being the amazing person that you are. God has blessed me by putting you into my life. "Friends are God's way of showing us that we don't have to walk alone."

I wish words could describe how awesome this semester was. I can't wait to see what God has in store for next semester and the next three years to follow. He's not promising it to be easy, but with Him, it will be great. God is so good!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Preparing the way of the Lord.

When I was little, advent was something that was so exciting. It was the ultimate countdown to Christmas. Each week, a candle would be lit, showing how many more weeks would be left until the big day. The most exciting week of all was the week where the pink candle would be lit. I can remember the excitement that lighting this candle would bring and that were was about a week and a half left until Christmas. But the older I get, the more advent changes for me. It's no longer the exciting countdown until Christmas, the day where Santa comes and brings awesome presents. But now, it's a time of preparation in my heart for the birth of my King and Savior. Pretty drastic change, huh?

This advent  has been quite the journey. It's journey that I'm honestly so excited about that my heart is leaping out of my chest as I type this to you. It all started with the decision to focus on God right now. To take some time, be single, and chase Him rather than chasing cute boys. Now, it was much easier said than done. Naturally, when we lose something, we try to replace it. So as much as I was praying and saying that I was focusing on God, the dream of my future husband would take over my mind. I would be at mass, look over, see a cute boy and think "maybe it's him!" I know it sounds kind of crazy, but it's true. Instead of looking at what God has to offer and how God can satisfy me, I was painting this picture of my Jesus-loving,  tall, handsome, loving future husband that God has handpicked for me and who would bring so much joy into my life. Rather, I should be looking at the Hero in my life who already does that for me. Now I'm not going to lose the hope of my future husband, I know he's out there and I will keep praying for him. And it is natural for me to desire and seek the mate God has in mind for me because that's the vocation I'm called to and the desire that He has placed in my heart. However, there comes a time when the thought of a good thing becomes too much. And that's what happened with me. So advent started and I began to realize this. God started knocking on my heart and I knew that my focus really needed to change and that I needed to mean it. I heard some really great homilies that challenged me and made me think. Generally all were talking about preparing the way of the Lord. This may mean by being the light of Christ to others. Or preparing our hearts and changing something in our life in order to get to Him. I kept hearing these hidden messages that God was saying to me. I felt Him calling me to more. I had this desire to take the next step in my faith, but I was unsure how to go about it or what to do. But then they all came together. My school was offering adoration one night from 9pm-12am. At 11:30, while in the midst of studying for finals, I remembered this and I ran to the chapel. On my way to the chapel, I was overwhelmed with a sense of joy; like a little kid about to enter a candy store. Once I got in there, an overwhelming sense of peace and emotion took over. I was in awe. I sat there are started talking to Jesus. But as I started to pray, I realized that I tend to say the same things over and over. And then I realized that something needs to change. That was it. I realized that I needed to change. Not the circumstances that surrounded me, but me. And at that moment, I prayed the scariest yet most peace-bringing prayer that I've ever prayed; "God, change me." And right there, for the first time in my life, I felt that I was able to wholeheartedly, fearlessly, undoubtedly willing to let God change me. I understood that the only thing holding me back from a deeper relationship with God was me. And with this, a desire to grow in faith and grow closer to and serve God consumed my heart. I realized that I need to do more and make more of an effort in my relationship with God if I want to grow closer to Him. I need to prepare my heart for His way.

Now, this isn't just a "one and done" kind of change. It's a change that I'm going to work on for the rest of my life and until I'm Home with my Heavenly Father. I'm going to have to constantly have to prepare my heart for His way and change in order to grow closer to Him. It's not going to be easy, but every step will be taken with God right by my side. Like any relationship, a relationship with God takes effort, time, and patience. That means making time for Him throughout the day, spending time with Him at night, even going out of my comfort zone in order to dive deeper. And even praying for my future husband will help lead me to Him. I'm learning to be completely satisfied in Him and Him alone, even if that means being rejected by this world. 

If you have a desire to grow closer to God, don't hold yourself back. Christmas isn't about presents. But it's about the best Gift that was given to us. Prepare your heart to receive the Gift God has given us. And if you feel that something inside of you needs to change, don't be afraid to do it, even if that means the disapproval of people. God will bless your life in ways that are totally unimaginable. But you have to be the one that wants it. You have to make the decision to let Him in. You have to take the next steps in your faith. I could type about the wonders of God's love and how amazing life with Him is until my fingers fall off; but at the end of the day, you are the one who decides whether you want that or not. This is an invitation. "God loves us just as we are, but too much to leave us that way." Don't be satisfied with the bare minimum. God has so much more in store for you than that. He has better plans in mind for you. Do you want to be a part of them? Prepare your heart for the way of the Lord and He will rock your world. Trust Him, seek Him. I promise you won't regret it.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Don't settle.

Living on a college campus allows me to hear many things that I simply do not want to hear. Often times I overhear the conversations of girls talking about their latest hookups and the hottest guys that they want to get with. I've even heard the description in full detail of a male's genitalia. Again, something I really did not want to hear but inevitably heard because I was walking behind them. These conversations happen over and over again and hearing them can't help but make me think: why do girls fall into meaningless hookups? Why do they put so much time and energy into guys who don't deserve them?

It all comes down to what I talked about last week. We all want to feel wanted. When going through a break up or being broken up with, it's easy to feel unwanted. If you've been single for a while and there isn't a long list of people dying to pursue you, it's easy to feel unwanted. It's also easy to look into the future and see yourself living alone with 12 cats. You think that because one person didn't want you, no one else will. And feeling unwanted makes it so much easier to settle. We settle in our relationships (or lack thereof). So we jump into the next offer we get, in hopes of filling the holes in our heart and feeling wanted. Sometimes this includes hookups, or just getting involved in a relationship for the sake of being in a relationship. In the mean time, we get ourselves in a messy situations where feelings are on the line and in the end, we feel just as unsatisfied as we did in the first place. But sometimes we have to disregard how we feel and remember what we deserve. Brothers and sisters, we deserve so much more than to settle.

Sometimes our feelings guide our decisions. We feel so unwanted that all we want is one person to make us feel wanted. I'm guilty of this. There have been multiple times where I lay in bed, just aching for a guy to want me and to be there to hold me, as if this will make the feelings of being unwanted away. Those moments of vulnerability make it so tempting to take any offer I get from a guy. Since the breakup, I've been asked out on a date, and guys have told me that they find me attractive. Every time this happens, it's tempting to just give my heart to that guy in hopes that he will fill the void. Because he thinks I'm attractive, he must want me, and therefore, I'll feel wanted. I may not even be attracted to the guy. But what's attractive is that he finds me attractive. Sounds twisted, right? If I were to begin a relationship based on the fact that I got attention from a guy, then that would not be fair to myself or the guy. Settling doesn't do anyone good. It's easy to think that because someone wants us, we should jump at that opportunity regardless of what we want in a partner. In the mean time, we forget what we want and what we deserve in a partner. Thus, we settle. Then we get so afraid that no one else will want us, so we don't end things with that person out of fear. Then a vicious cycle of unhappiness, hurt, and guilt starts. Doesn't sound like a healthy relationship, does it? That's why we must avoid settling in the first place.

To avoid settling, we must first remember who we are in the first place. We are children of God. We are loved beyond measure. And God wants nothing but the best for us. God has amazing plans for each of us. If you believe this, then wouldn't you believe that God also has an amazing plan for your love life? Don't you think that He would have you be with the most amazing person for you? Do you really think He would have you be with a partner just because that person was attracted to you? NO! He would have you be with a person who is everything you deserve and beyond. He would have you be with a person who builds you up, not brings you down. He would have you be with a person who leads you to Him and who challenges you to be a better person. He would have you be with a person who will fight for you, love you, and accept you no matter what. He would have you be with a person who made you feel wanted, special, loved, and like you are the most important person in their life. He would never wish for you to spend the rest of your life with a person you settled for. Hopefully you would never wish to spend the rest of your life with a person you settled for either.

Don't you want the love story that God had planned for you? Well to get that, we must not settle. That first starts with hookups. My advice to you would be to not hookup. I learned this the hard way in high school. Think about it, when you are physically intimate with a person, you are giving them the benefits of dating without demanding that they commit to you. You may hope that hooking up with a guy will lead to him committing to you. But in reality, you are probably turning him away. When you hookup with a guy, what's left for them to chase? Where's the challenge? Guys love a challenge. And by allowing a guy to be physically intimate without calling him to rise up and commit to you, you are telling him that you aren't taking this seriously and that you don't think you're worth being a challenge. Respect yourself. Don't let a guy have the benefits of dating with you without demanding that he commits to you. You deserve so much more than that. As my grandma used to say, "why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" A guy isn't going to want to go through all of the hard work of committing to a girl when he can get the physical pleasure for free. So if you expect to get a guy by hooking up with him, you're out of luck. A real man wouldn't want a girl who would be so quick to give her body away. A real man wants to be respected too. Not hooking up with guys allows you to find a real man. It allows you to weed out the guys who only want you for your body. Not hooking up makes a statement and shows guys that you take yourself seriously and that you will not allow your body to be used for the sake of his pleasure. Protect your kisses. Set standards. Maybe they could be to not make with someone unless they are officially your boyfriend/girlfriend. Or if you want to go even further, do not even kiss someone unless they are officially your boyfriend/girlfriend. It will save yourself a lot of frustration and hurt in the mean time.

My next advice is to be picky when it comes to dating. Don't date someone unless they have the qualities you would want in a future spouse. We date to marry. Dating is not a game. Dating is a time to learn about yourself and your partner and to determine the kind of person you want to spend the rest of your life with. It's not about being with a person for the sake of being with them. It's about being with a person to see if they're compatible for you. So be with someone who you think could be potentially compatible with you for the rest of your life. Come up with a list of qualities that you want in your future spouse. Use them as a guideline for dating. Only date people who have those qualities. This list will serve as a constant reminder to not settle for anyone less than what you deserve. Do not change your list for anyone. It can be hard when you feel lonely and that you will never find anyone with those qualities. But God is the author of your love story. Trust Him. The person He has in mind for you will be the person of your dreams. This list will show the deepest desires of your heart when it comes to your future spouse and I can assure that God will see it.

Your future spouse is out there and God has hand made that person specifically for you and you for that person. Keep them in mind. When you are tempted to settle, think of them. Start respecting them now. Would you want your future spouse settling for other people for the sake of feeling wanted? I sure hope not. So don't do the same. You deserve so much more than to settle. Be patient. God will send you the right person for you in His time.
"Do not arouse, do not stir up love before its own time." - Song of Solomon 8:4 
Start praying for your future spouse. Pray for their hearts. While doing so, God will prepare your heart for them.

Respect yourself. Do not let society get the best of you. Society may be telling you to hookup with a bunch of people, base your worth off others and your looks, or to settle; but please, do not do it. Do not conform. Respect yourself and know that you are a child of God. You are loved beyond measure. And in Christ, you can find more than what society or a meaningless hookup can give you. Do not settle.

Friday, November 30, 2012

We all want to feel wanted.

Feelings. They can be the most beautiful thing ever while being your worst enemy at the same time. And unfortunately, they've been a bit of an enemy lately. This post is going to be personal and I'm putting myself out there. So here's the inside scoop to my heart as of late.

So as you know, I was broken up with about a month an a half ago. This breakup has been one of the biggest blessings in disguise. However, the days where it's a disguise are the days that are the challenge. Now, I'm over that I was broken up with. That part doesn't hurt more. I don't want to be in a relationship with anyone anytime soon. But what hurts is the aftermath of the breakup: feeling unwanted. This person knew my heart inside and out for two years and didn't want me. Can you say ouch? And the feeling of being unwanted is the worst feeling in the world. It makes you feel like you're not good enough, that you have nothing to offer, or that no one will want you. This person was supposed to be the person who wanted you and the one person who wouldn't walk away. Yet you're left there, in the dust, alone. And guess what? It hurts. I've been battling with this feeling of being unwanted this past week. Last night, I broke down. New flash for you, I'm really not that strong. In the midst of tears, I prayed non stop. I felt so desperate for something. I knew I was desperate for God, but to be honest, I couldn't feel Him at that moment. I searched my bible frantically hoping to find a verse that says: "GOD LOVES YOU. GOD WANTS YOU." And, well, I came across nothing. I kept telling myself over and over again, "you are wanted. You are enough. You are loved." However, just knowing it was not enough. This was playing on repeat in my head, but it was no where in my heart. My heart did not believe that I am wanted, enough, or loved. There's a very big difference between knowing something in your head and having it in your heart. And there I was, crying on my bed, beating myself up all because a boy doesn't want me. I know, it sounds so lame to me as I type it. Then at that moment, I decided to text a friend of mine. He's a friend that has walked me through every step of this breakup and a friend that I am forever grateful for. He called me and with my broken, tear saturated voice, I opened up to how I felt. Then boom. God answered my prayers. You know those moments where God just uses someone to say exactly everything you need to hear? Well, that happened. He said everything my head knew, but everything that my heart needed to hear. I was comforted in the fact that it's okay to be weak and that it's normal to hurt. And that I am wanted and that I have a lot to offer. If this boy couldn't see this, well that's his loss. With a phone call, my confidence returned and a smile was on my face. Heck, I was even laughing. Ah, God is good!

Now, of course the feelings of being unwanted didn't go away completely over night. I went to mass this morning. And after mass, I stayed in the chapel for a good 45 min. During these 45 min, I had a good, stern heart to heart with God. And well, lets just say that God gave me a good and loving kick in the pants. I started at the cross, pouring out my frustrations into His hands. My feelings of being unwanted, my desires to have one person to chase Him with, someone to pick me up with I'm down, the feelings of loneliness, all the aftermath that breakups bring. I gave it all to Him. I gave Him my dreams of my future husband, which have been quite reoccurring as of late. I've been looking forward to that one person who I'm going to share my life with. And in my future husband, someone I don't even know yet, I've been looking for the love my heart has been longing for. I've been longing to feel wanted by the man who I will give my life to. That right there is the problem. I have been trying to fill the hole in my heart with the desires of earthly love instead of the author of love. Once I came to this realization, I heard Jesus say: "You have been desiring of a person what only I can give you. No human on this earth wants you as much as I do. I love you infinitely more than anyone on this earth could. You're feeling this way because some boy doesn't want you. That boy cannot compare to Me. I died on this cross because I want you. I love you." And right there, my heart believed it. Right there, I was at peace and I felt wanted and loved.

I realize that the moments where I feel unwanted and I don't feel God that I'm doing something wrong. I'm not giving Him my all. Or I'm getting caught up in the world. I don't open my heart to Him. I end up being in the way of myself. As soon as I feel this, I know God is telling me that something needs to change. I need to turn to Him without holding back.

It's amazing how caught up I can get in basing my worth off of things in this world. But dear brothers and sisters, we are SO much more than what this world says we are! We are more than what we do. We're more than how we look, or the clothes we wear. We're more than the amount of or lack of people pursuing us. We are children of the King of Kings. And even when people don't want us or even like us, we are wanted and we are loved by a God who is so much greater and a God who can do so much more for us than anything or anyone can. "God doesn't want something from us. He simply wants us." He wants us and He loves us. There are going to be moments where you feel like nothing. You may feel unwanted. You may hurt. As I've been learning, there is nothing wrong with feeling this way. It's okay to hurt and to let yourself hurt. Because sometimes life just sucks. Life can suck really, really bad. Life isn't always rainbows and butterflies. Even life with God isn't always happy happy joy joy. But there is hope. "Christians are like glow sticks, they have to break in order to shine." Through your hurt, trials, and weakness, strength will come.
"Affliction produces endurance, and endurance proven character, and proven character, hope and hope does not disappoint, because the Love God has poured out into our hearts." Romans 5:3-6
How ever your may feel, or whatever it is that you are going through, know that you are not alone. You are loved and you are wanted by the Creator of the Universe. Don't just know it in your head. Believe it in your heart. You are worth more than anything on this earth. You are precious. You are loved. Don't lose that and don't lose hope. God will put people in your life for a reason. He gives the people you need. And sometimes, He takes away people too for a better reason. We may not be able to see it, but trust in His ways.

"God will restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you
after you have suffered a little." - 1 Peter 5:10

"Live in love as Christ loves us." - Ephesians 5:2

Friday, November 16, 2012

Single girl swag.

Single. That's a word that most girls dread. It seems so cold and so lonely, as if no one would even want to date us. It's a word that describes a torturous, harsh, sad time in one's life. Single is the opposite of  love and the opposite of what women desire. We all want that one person to love us and cherish us. We want that one person who is going to care about us in that special way and make us feel wanted and special. We all want that one man who proves to us that all guys are not the same. We want that man who will fight for us and prove to us that there is no one he would rather be with. We want that partner in life who will walk by our sides and love us through the ups and downs. Yes, single, is a word that is just plain awful and it's a world that is even worse.

But what if I told you that there is another definition of single? That single doesn't mean sad, unlovable, unwanted and that you're going to end up all alone with 12 cats. What if I told you that single can be statement rather than a definition? Don't let single define you. Don't let single say to the world that you are in need of a relationship and that you can't survive without one. Instead, let single say to the world that you are a strong, independent woman and that you don't need a man to complete you!

Believe it or not, being single can be such a blessing. But it's your attitude about it that determines it. Singleness isn't a torture sentence. Singleness is an opportunity for growth and preparation. Your future spouse is out there and they are going to be someone SO amazing. This person is going to be the best thing that has ever happening to you. So don't you want to be the best thing that has happening to them?

Being single gives you the time to work on yourself. It allows you to prepare and become the person of God that you are called to be. You don't have to focus on another person and invest all of your time, energy, and emotions into them. Instead, you are investing your time into yourself. This is not selfish. We need to be the best people we can be for ourselves in order to be the best for someone else. We need to be happy and complete single before giving yourself to another person. Say you're a gardener and you know that your vegetables are the best veggies in town. You take pride in your veggies and you give the best veggies you can to your costumers. And by doing so, you make a great difference in the lives of your costumers. You bring them satisfaction and in turn, this brings you satisfaction. If they weren't satisfied, then that would be incredibly disheartening. So you wait for the veggies to grow and become the biggest and best veggies they can be. You would never sell unripened veggies; that would bring dissatisfaction. They aren't ready to be given out yet. They have to work on themselves before become ripe. The same goes for you. Why give yourself to someone if you are not ripe yet? If you are called to marriage and to be in a relationship, you would want to give that person the best you can. Just as a gardener wouldn't give their costumers unripened veggies, do not give your potential partner an unripened person. Don't jump into a relationship for the sake of having a relationship. Begin a relationship when you are ready to. But it is necessary to take the time to be single and work on yourself. Being single allows for us to mature and become the best we can be. Without distractions and without the love-fog of a relationship, you can truly see the areas in yourself that need work on. Take the time for you. Learn to love yourself and be completely happy with yourself. If you don't love yourself, then how can you love someone else?

Singleness is an incredible opportunity to grow in faith. For me, it has brought a whole new meaning to trusting God and chasing Him. I trust God. I know that my future husband is out there and I know that in His time, He will lead me to that person. I do not need to go out looking for that person. When the time is right, God will put that person into my life. Instead of chasing guys and looking for a boyfriend, I'm left to chase God and look for Him. Granted, it's not easy. There are cute boys everywhere--especially Jesus-loving boys. However, I'm learning self discipline. I thank God for making great, attractive brother in Christ, and then continue to look at Him. Although I desire marriage one day, and it's completely natural for me to be looking for a mate, it's a gift to have time to look at Christ and Christ alone. Only Christ can satisfy, and I am learning this on a daily basis. Women tend to think that once we find that nice guy, all of our problems will go away and our thirst for love will be quenched. But this isn't true. The only One who can quench that thirst for love is Love Himself. Only God can fill the God-shaped hole in our hearts. Having this in my mind makes it easier to deal with the attractive distractions. Even when I'm married, only Christ will satisfy and be the true giver of joy in my life. I am learning to love Him in a way that I never have before. Being single has allowed this. Instead of looking for a boyfriend or looking to please a boyfriend, I look at Him and I am at peace. By learning to love Him more than anything and anyone will allow me to better love my future husband someday. But right now, I'm focusing on become the woman that God has created me to be. I am focusing on my relationship with my Best Friend. He is the only Man I desire in my life right now. Because of this, my faith is growing day by day.

Because of being single and having no desire to date at this time of my life right now, so much pressure is relieved. When I meet a new guy, I don't have to worry about whether or not he's someone I can date. Instead, my intentions are pure and I seek only a friendship. This brings so much freedom. It allows me to be independent and to not be defined by a relationship. It allows me to have true brothers in Christ without the pressure of dating or thinking that something more has to come out of it. That in and of itself is such a blessing. It also says to the world what I think about myself.
"After all, independent women are the most alluring to men. When a woman looks like she's waiting to be asked out, it makes you wonder why she hasn't been. On the other hand, if she's happy with her independence, she doesn't appear to be accessible. She's a challenge. It's as if she's saying, 'I don't need you to complete me, but you're free to try.' She seems content with herself. Such a positive demeanor naturally draws others in. But this happiness must be authentic joy. It cannot be a happy mask worn to become more likeable." - Jason Evert

Now, singleness isn't always going to be easy. You aren't always going to feel like a strong, independent woman. It's hard to be single in such a dating-obsessed culture. Lets face it, every movie you watch, there's an adorable, romantic love story. Commercials, magazines, books, media; there is always some sort of connection to love and relationships. On a college campus, it seems as if everywhere you turn, there's an adorable couple holding hands or kissing. It's everywhere. There will be days when you do feel lonely and you do long for someone else. But rise above it and trust God. Trust that He is writing your love story. He's a pretty great author, so there is no denying that is it going to be an amazing story. Your future husband is out there. I don't know who my future husband is, but he gives me so much hope. Just knowing that one day, I will be able to experience the most amazing love brings me so much joy and hope. But for now, I need to work on become the woman he deserves and I need to work on become the woman God is calling me to be. The same goes for you. We need to work on being the best women and sisters in Christ we can be.

So enjoy your singleness! Let it be a time of growth and exploration! Enjoy great friendships. Have fun! Enjoy having a time of your life not tied down to another person. Plain and simple, just do you! Love will come your way when the time is right. Don't go looking for love. Let it look for you. "Do no arouse, do not stir up love before it's own time." -Song of Songs 2:7. Go become the woman God has made you to be! You are stronger than you think and you don't need a man to complete you! The perfect Man already completes you; and He died on the cross for you. With Christ, you have all you need! So enjoy being single and trust and love God with all you have!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hate is never the answer.

Election day took place yesterday. Obama was re-elected president of the United States of America. And as was expected, the social media world blew up. Statuses were being posted left and right, for red and blue. But what got me, was the amount of hateful statuses that a great amount of Christian Facebook friends were posting.

I am fully aware at their anger and why they were posting; I understand. A big part of this was the pro-life issue. I am pro-life. But I would like to remind you that pro-life is not just about abortion. Pro-life means defending and respecting ALL life; from womb to tomb. That means loving your neighbor, NO MATTER WHAT. That means loving thy gay neighbor, straight neighbor, addicted neighbor, homeless neighbor, incarcerated neighbor, republican neighbor, democrat neighbor, sick neighbor, poor neighbor, EVERY neighbor. That means loving the kid who sits alone at lunch, or the girl that everyone loves to hate. That means loving the person who broke your heart or made your life a living hell. That means loving and forgiving those who have wronged you. "Love your neighbor as yourself." - Luke 10:27. This neighbor also includes the neighbor who is the president. I am not saying that you need to agree with or support his policies, but you do need to love him. And responding to him with hate and posting hateful statues in not pro-life. Actually, it's not very Christian. 

A Christian is a person in whom and through whom Christ lives. By claiming that you are a Christian, you are claiming that you follow and strive to imitate Christ. Posting statuses and speaking out of hate is the exact opposite of what Christ would do. It does not matter who the person is or what the person believes in, we are not to hate. We are called to love no matter what. “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.” - Matthew 22:37-40

I understand that people are trying to share the truth of the church with others. Quite frankly, I am too. But what makes the difference is how we do it. It comes down to love. People may question my view on love, but this is what love is.
"Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails." 
Yes, it says that love rejoices with the truth. But that means rejoice; not shove the truth into someone's face or criticize them because of their beliefs. It is not up to us to criticize or condemn them. Actually, we have absolutely no right to do so. We are in no place to judge or criticize others because of their believes or because they may not agree with something that the church says. We are called to lead others to Christ; not the church. Yes, Christ instituted the church, but the church it meant to lead others to Christ. So we are meant to do the same. And when we criticize and condemn people and shove "the truth" into their faces, that turns people away. To be honest, there have been many instances where, on behalf of the people who do not agree, I have felt hurt and criticized due to what they have had to say about someone disagreeing with the church. Our faith is meant to be an invitation. We can propose the idea to someone, but only they can choose to accept it. Instead of going about throwing the truth into people's faces, we must be an example of the truth. Live as Christ would have lived. Jesus may have gnashed teeth and reprimanded people; but keep in mind that only He is meant to do that. Only God can judge others. And Jesus did it in a loving way. Not once did He force His word onto someone. By forcing your word on someone, you are turning them away. Too many times have I felt turned away because of this. Yes, there has to be tough love sometimes, but tough love does not include criticizing, judging, and condemning people. Criticizing, judging and condemning people turns them away. Therefore, you are turning them away from Christ. We are called to preach the gospel. We are called to preach love and forgiveness and the goodness of God while trying to better other people. Better other people with love. Let your words and actions be soaked with love, only then will you be able to touch someone's heart with the truth. We are not here to change lives or hearts. God doesn't need us for that because only He can do that and only He can change hearts. We are called to invite people to faith in a loving manner and to plant seeds without imposing. We are called to meet people where they are at; then God will take care of the rest. Leave the judging up to Him, because it gets us no where. It just makes us look like hypocrites. Let us be an example of love, then others will follow. We must approach people with open hearts and open minds. As my friend Stephanie said: "its about being wise enough to know that the world was never saved by a strong opinion - only saved with love. Spend your energy where it creates not destroys." So next time you go to convict or reprimand someone for their actions or belief, I ask you to please ask yourself: "How am I going to lead this person closer to Christ?" Meet people where they're at and give them nothing but love.

No matter who is the president, Jesus is King. Have faith and trust in Him. Pray for those leading our country and have hope. Do not waste your breath on words of hate towards the president of anyone else for that matter. Doing such while claiming to be a Christian would make you a hypocrite. Strive to be Christ like and love others no matter what. Do not act out of anger. Act out of love.

"Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger." - James 1:19.

"But I say to you that every one who is angry with his brother shall be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council, and whoever says, `You fool!' shall be liable to the hell of fire." Matthew 5:22

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The p word.

If there is one thing that our society loves to hate, it is purity. Yes, not having sex until marriage. As one who has made the promise to stay pure until marriage 5 years ago, I can attest to this. I can't tell you how many times I've been poked fun of for my decision or doubted because of it. My decision to be pure, along with the most decisions that Christians make, does not conform to society. And society doesn't like that. But I can tell you now, after getting out of a 2 year relationship, staying pure until marriage is one of the best decisions I have ever made.

Although it is one of the best decisions, it is also one of the hardest. God placed sexual desire into our hearts. We were made to physically become one with another person. As someone once said: "we were not made to stop." Wanting sex is completely natural. However, sex is made for marriage and that is how God intends it. I know people say that if you really love someone, you should be able to show them that love physically. But if they love you enough, they would be willing to wait for you. That is why waiting for your future spouse is the ultimate way to show them that you love them. That wait certainly is not easy. Hormones and emotions get in the way. But I know that it will be worth it.

It has already been proven to me that it is worth it. As I leave this 2 year relationship, I cannot begin to tell you how grateful I am that I made decision to not have sex until marriage. As this boy walks away, I am at such peace knowing that he is not walking away with something that didn't belong to him in the first place. Because I didn't give him myself physically, it is that much easier to let go of and move on from the relationship. The hurt has gone away and I am over it. I'm sure that had I given him all of me, I would have such a hard time letting him go. He may have a part of my heart, but he does not have my body. And I thank God for that. Making this promise to Him and my future husband has saved me tremendous heartache.

God's plan of sex only being in marriage serves a great purpose. It helps us guard our hearts. And for women, it helps weed out the jerks who only want you for your body. Keeping this standard will prove which men are willing to wait for you. These are the kind of men that deserve to be with a princess of the King of Kings. Why be with someone who isn't willing to wait for you? You deserve someone who will not only wait, but someone who will help you stay pure in the wait. If they pressure you and tempt you to to further, run away. They are not in it for the right reasons. Stay strong and keep God and your future spouse in mind. Purity is impossible without a relationship with God. The strength that is needed to be pure is strength than cannot come from us alone. Purity is also a way to show your love for Him and to show that you will and trust His plan. But how much should you sacrifice to show that? How far is too far? Well, a good way to judge that is to think of your future spouse. How far would you want them going with someone other than you? If you don't want them going that far, then why go that far with someone else's future spouse? It's also not just about being a physical virgin. It's about being a heart virgin. You cannot go lusting after the opposite sex. Strive to be pure in your heart and mind. That includes not watching pornography. You're future spouse deserves more than that. God deserves more than that. You deserve more than that.
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." - Matthew 5:8

I know there are some of you thinking "it's too late for me" or "I'm damaged goods." But let me make this clear, it is not too late. God is the giver of second chances (and third and fourth and fifth chances and so on). We are human. We make mistakes. We fall time and time again. Maybe you're not a virgin. Maybe your virginity was taken from you. But know this, who you are is not what you do. "You are more than the choices that you made. You are more than the sum of your past mistakes. You are more than the problems you create. You've been remade." Whatever your past may be does not mean you cannot be pure. You can choose today to start waiting for your future spouse. You deserve to be loved and you ARE loved.

"For anyone who is in Christ
is a new creation."
2 Corinthians 5:17

Purity is so freeing. And it is fun. It forces you to be creative and to show someone you love them without getting physical. And showing someone you love them without getting physical really does go a long way. You may ask: how can I do that? Well here are a few ideas:
· send flowers or surprise gifts
· write letters
· send a cute card
· take them on a surprise date
· go on a picnic
· make them a craft
· cook or bake them something
· make a list of reasons why you love them
· do their favorite activity with them
· come up with your own list of ways to show your significant other you love them without getting physical!

I know I would prefer any of these things than a steamy makeout session. But maybe that's just me. ;)

My future husband is out there. I don't know who he is, but he gives me so much hope. I love him already. And because of that, I will respect him and I will wait for him. I will be the woman he deserves. Regardless of what society says, I will not have sex until the night of my wedding because the gift of my body belongs to him and only him.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Only Christ can satisfy.

Here's the post you've all be waiting for. As I mentioned in my last post, life hasn't been ideal lately. And here's the inside scoop to that.

My boyfriend of almost two years and I broke up. I have never experienced a break up before. And let me tell you, breakups suck. They suck a lot. I didn't expect it to hurt this much. I've always been an independent person. Even throughout the relationship, I've said: "I don't need a boyfriend." And the truth is, I don't. I do not need a boy to be there to tell me I'm beautiful and worthy. Quite frankly, I know that. But it doesn't mean it doesn't hurt. I think what hurts so much is that you give your heart to that person. Your heart is in that person's hands and they just let it drop. You put your heart and soul into the relationship and you give it all the effort you've got, just to have that person walk away without putting up a fight. You let that person into your heart and they get comfortable there. Then they decide that they no longer want a relationship, and take a part of your heart with them. All of sleep lost so you can talk to them, all of the hours you've driven to see them, all of the planning, constant support, and love that you've given to them: gone. With one phone call, it's all over. The past two years of your life are gone to simply become a memory. All of the good moments, laughs, sharing, dancing; gone. Just like that. You lost them. You lost that relationship. You lost a part of you. Just like that. And what makes it harder is that he is such a great guy. He has so much to offer to this world. I have no reason to be mad at him. I understand completely why he did it. I may not agree with how he did it, but he had no intention to hurt me. He did not do this out of spite or to hurt me. He still cares and he is still a great guy. He will always be a part of me and he will always have a part of my heart. Some girl is going be so lucky to have him some day. And right now, I'm not what he needs.

But God is up to something; as He always is. This breakup has forced me to think about my relationship with Jesus. I've always thought about my relationship with Jesus while dating this boy. But now that he walked away, I've been kind of forced to turn to Jesus even more. Jesus is the only one who will never walk away. He will not let you down. He will never, EVER leave your side. And when your heart is breaking, He will hold it and put the pieces back together. When you are hurting, He will give you peace.

This breakup has also forced me to think about myself and what I deserve. To the ladies, don't ever let a boy determine your worth. The only man who can determine your worth is the One who died on the cross for you. In His eyes, you are precious and you are a treasure. You are a princess of the King of Kings. You deserve nothing less than being treated like the princess that you are. Jesus has all that you deserve. And Jesus has SO much more to offer than any boy. Jesus will constantly fight for you. He will constantly put in effort to your relationship with Him. He will support you and love you to no end. He will always let you know how much you mean to Him. And all of the flowers He put on this earth? Yeah, all of those flowers are for you. He died on the cross for YOU. Yes, you. You, my dear friend, are SO loved by the One who give up His life out of love. No boy with be able to satisfy you the way Christ can. You can have the most amazing boyfriend ever, and you will still find yourself searching for something more. "The only one who can satisfy the human heart is the One who made it." In Him, you will find joy, peace and the love you have been looking for. Chase God, and along the way, you will find a guy who is chasing Him too. "A woman's heart should be so lost in God that a man needs to seek Him in order to find her." As women, we deserve a guy who will pursue us and who will love us to no end.
"Your relationship with guys should be a reflection of the Father's love, not a replacement for it. Instead of looking for the ideal man, become the ideal woman and let him look for you. Keep your eyes on God and know that when it comes to finding a decent guy, the patient girl gets the prize.” - Crystalina Evert.

This breakup has caused me to remember this once again. I know what I deserve and I will not settle for less. I will keep my head high and my standards higher. If someone is going to walk out of my life so easily, I'm not going to chase them. I deserve more than that. They lost me. I now have an amazing opportunity to go out into the world and grow. I will be able to do the things that a relationship would not have allowed me to do. I am free and I have so much to experience. I accept that he's gone and I am moving on.

"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone
What doesn't kill you makes you fighter
Footsteps even lighter
Doesn't mean I'm over 'cause you're gone

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, stronger
Just me, myself and I
What doesn't kill you makes you stronger
Stand a little taller
Doesn't mean I'm lonely when I'm alone

Thanks to you I got a new thing started
Thanks to you I'm not the broken-hearted
Thanks to you I'm finally thinking 'bout me
You know in the end the day you left is just my beginning."
- Kelly Clarkson

So here's to the new beginning. Here's to the new me. Here's to the new life with Christ that I will be living. I trust God and His plan. His plan is better than my own. I know that He has someone out there someone so amazing for me. And I know my future husband will appreciate this so much. He's out there. I will wait for him. But for now, it's God's plan for me to focus on Him because He is all I need right now. I will focus on being madly in love with Him. He is more than what I deserve. He is enough for me. I trust Him.
I trust Him.

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
your own intelligence rely not.
In all your ways be mindful of Him,
and He will make straight your paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Life hurts but God is bigger.

So things in my life haven't been ideal lately; but honestly, is life ever truly ideal? Not to sound like a Debbie Downer, but in this imperfect life, something is always going wrong. And some times, life just hurts. And I mean really hurts. And well, God has been teaching me one heck of a lesson through this hurt. Actually, it's pretty amazing.

Sometimes God has us hit the bottom so we start looking up at Him. And boy, have I been learning this. We are going to get hurt. It's inevitable. Sometimes we put our heart out on the line just to have the line cut by someone else. And sometimes, we give so much of our time and effort for it to just seem like a waste. We give until it hurts. We love until it hurts. We lose someone we love. And that's what happens, it hurts. We hit the bottom. But the hurt isn't the end all and be all. That's where God comes in. God is more than your hurt. He is more than your pain. And He will never ever give you anything you cannot handle. And "if He brings you to it, He will bring you through it." This cannot be even more true. In the midst of the pain, God will bring peace. We just have to let Him. We must use our God given strength and open our hearts to accepting His peace even while feeling such pain. We have to look up. We cannot do this on our own and we are not alone. And God has given me some of the most amazing people to prove this. He will always give you what and who you need in times of pain. God will never leave you hanging.

It's easy to question and get angry when feeling pain. If God loves us, why does He let us feel this pain? Well, let me ask you this: if you never know what it's like to feel pain, do you really know what it's like to feel joy? As much as it can hurt, pain is necessary. Because then how can we truly be happy if we don't have a reason to appreciate it? It's in the pain where I feel God the most. He has to let us hit the bottom so we start looking up at Him. And in Him, there is so much hope, peace, joy and love. And once we experience pain, we can truly appreciate that and love Him more and grow closer to Him. So as crazy as it may sound, be thankful for the pain. Thank God even when you hurt. Because He is up to something and only good can come from it. God is good. That will never ever change. God is good even in the midst of tears. Sometime we don't know what He's up to, but we don't have to. We just have to trust Him. He knows us better than we know ourselves. Trust Him. We may not understand what He's doing, but just trust that it's for the good.

I've heard it said before that life is like a puzzle. We only see one piece at a time. But the best view of the puzzle if from above. God sees what will come out of this puzzle. So trust Him.

What you may be feeling now will not last forever. The night is darkest just before the dawn. After every good Friday comes an Easter. "This too shall pass." God will get you through. He will hold your heart with the same hands that created the universe. In Him, there is hope. Don't lose hope.

"And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful." Colossians 3:15

Friday, October 12, 2012


Today I went back to CYFM to cook for a retreat. It was so awesome to go back. But at the same time, it was a little bit weird-a good weird. I was looking at the pictures on the wall. I happened to come across the ones that I was in. I couldn't help but think about how that girl in those pictures is not the same girl. I'm not who I was when those pictures were taken. Those pictures were taken only 3 years ago, but since then so much has changed. I've changed.

I've never been a fan of change. Life after my dad died seemed to be a never ending change; which it was. I got to the point where I was so sick of change and I just wanted it all to stop. But now I'm realizing that life never stops changing. We never stop changing. And I'm learning that I need to accept the change. I cannot prevent change. I have to embrace it and let it happen. Change is good.

I thought about this the entire drive home. I'm not the same person I was 2 months ago. I've changed and college is changing me. But I think that this is a good change. I've been learning so much and my mind has been opened to a lot. I've been learning about myself, others, and my faith. I'm learning what my limits are and how to react to certain situations that I never had to face before. I'm questioning things that I've never questioned myself. I'm questioning myself. I'm questioning my faith. I'm questioning the ways of this world. It's actually pretty awesome to be own my own and free to question these things. As a religion teacher in high school once said: "question everything." And, let me tell you, I am. But with the questioning, comes change. I am changing. I got my nose pierced and I cut my hair shorter than my boyfriend's. I'm not entirely sure who I am, or what I believe. I'm not entirely sure what God wants me to be. But you know what? That's okay. And in the midst of the change, I'm finding that there is one thing that is unchanging. God. God doesn't change and that is such a beautiful thing. Although I may be questioning and changing, He doesn't change and His love for me never changes. That's a pretty amazing thing. It gives me so much peace. I wish word could describe how comforting it is to know that among the change, questions, and uncertainty, God is a rock; He's not going anywhere and He's not changing. Whoa.

College is a whole new world; a whole new ball game. It's a world that instantly throws you into the unknown and leaves you to find your way. I have to say, it was a pretty easy adjustment for me. But my world has changed. College is the time for change. I'm starting to find that change can be good.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Wedding bells are ringing.

The craziness of last weekend is finally staring to settle down. As crazy as it was, it was such an amazing and beautiful weekend filled with love, laughter, family and fun. But before I go into it, a little background of my family is needed.

I am one of 5 children. My mom had me when she was 45. I was a surprise baby. My oldest brother is 39. There's 21 years between me and the oldest and 14 years between me and the next youngest. All of my siblings are now married and I have 9 nieces and nephews. My dad died 5 years ago on July 19, 2007. My dad was the best dad ever. He was such an amazing man.

Growing up, I was practically an only child. However, there was one sibling that was around the most; Mark. Mark is the next youngest. He was 14 when I was born. Although I am close with all of my siblings, and they have all impacted me greatly in such awesome ways, Mark has impacted me in a slightly different way. When I was growing up, it was always Mark and I. It's hard to put words to describe our relationship. He was around the most because all of my other siblings were off in college, starting off jobs and getting married and simply becoming adults. When my dad died,  all of my other siblings had their spouses. Mark and I had each other. He understands me and he is half the reason why I am the way I am. He's a big part of the reason why I think things the way I do. Simply put, he was my best friend growing up.

Last weekend, Mark got married. I wish words could describe how amazing of a weekend. I also wish words could describe how amazing Mark's wife, Lizzie, is. If I had to create the perfect woman for Mark, it would be Lizzie. Mark and Lizzie are so perfect for each other. They balance each other out and they complete each other. The love they have is an amazing example of what love is. They met at a soup kitchen and then reconnected at a wake of a close friend of both of theirs. Their story is a story of hope. That beauty can come from pain. They are a couple that brings so much love to every one you meet. They are the dynamic duo. Their love is the kind of love that is contagious and you can't help but feel joyful around them.

Their wedding was so beautiful. I'm not a crier, and not once have I ever happy cried. But let me tell you, I was a mess the entire ceremony. I was so happy for the to the point were words couldn't express, so I cried. All it took was one look at Mark's reaction to Lizzie walking down the isle. Once I saw him tear up, I lost it. I was just that happy for him.

The love that Mark and Lizzie perfectly example that the love that God has in mind for us. They're not perfect people. But they are perfect for each other. They give so much hope that one day we'll be able to experience a love like this. Their love reflects the love of our Heavenly Father.

God is the author of love and He is writing our love stories. It's easy to get caught up in the idea of marriage and to so strongly long for this love. I'm guilty of it. I often catch myself day dreaming about the kind of wedding dress I want to have or what songs to I want played during the ceremony. However, I remind myself that I must live in the moment. That's where trusting God comes in. So often society tells us that we need to have that love, or a significant other in order to be happy. Although they will make us happy, they cannot satisfy us the way God can. We have to focusing on falling more in love with Christ. He's the only One who will never let us down.

For those who want to bad to have a significant other, I encourage you to focus on your relationship with God. "Dance with Jesus and He'll let the perfect person cut in." God is enough. Once you are happy with Him and yourself, then you can truly be happy with another person.

"Do not arouse, do not stir up love before its own time." - Song of Solomon 8:4

God has an amazing plan for us. Your future spouse is out there. And one day we'll be able to experience an amazing love like Mark and Lizzie. But for now, trust God. Walk with Him. Let Him write your love story. Don't go looking for love in the wrong places. God's love will always, always be enough.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Being a Christian isn't for wimps.

All throughout high school I was labeled. I was known at the "religious one," the "Christian girl," the "Jesus freak." I was known for my faith. Although now I'm proud of that, to be honest, I wasn't always. I would feel self conscious every time I was labeled like that. I would be afraid to stand up for my faith. I would be afraid to be judged because I love Jesus. I was afraid to not conform to society. I was blessed enough to have an escape though. I was really involved with a retreat center called Capuchin Youth and Family Ministries. If it wasn't for CYFM, I wouldn't have the faith that I have today. Though I grew up in a faith-filled home, my faith was never my own until CYFM. The first retreat I went on at CYFM changed my life. It brought faith from my head and to my heart. I completely and utterly fell in love with Jesus on that retreat.

The other amazing part about CYFM is that it gave me a Christ-centered community to be involved with. It was a place to go where I was appreciated for my faith. I wasn't negatively labeled for my faith. But rather, people found it awesome that I love Jesus. One of the greatest feelings is to be appreciated for faith. CYFM was a place where I could so around saying "I LOVE JESUS!" and I wouldn't have to worry about what others would think because everyone around me would say "I LOVE JESUS!" too. But what about what would happen when I would leave the doors of CYFM?

Faith has always been a part of my life, and I was involved with youth group, so I would share that I have faith. But it wasn't always easy for me to openly state that I love Jesus simply because of fear. I was judged before, so I figured I would be judged again. However, the more I fell in love with Jesus, the harder it became to not share it. So I would openly talk about my faith and share what it means to me. But sharing my faith wasn't and isn't always rainbows and butterflies. What it comes down to is that being a christian isn't for wimps.

As Christians, we are called to be people in whom and through whom Christ lives. We are to go out and share the love of Christ and to love without limit. We are to teach others about what life with Christ is like in a loving, respectful way. We're not here to shove it down people's throats. But we're here to preach the gospel at all times and use words when necessary. However, it's not always easy to do this. In my experience, I have been labeled and judged. I have been called the Jesus freak. I've been looked down upon because of my faith. I've been made fun of. I've had boys who were pursuing me stop because I was a "Jesus freak." I have been persecuted for not conforming to society.

So why put up with it? Because Jesus is worth it and He put up with it first.

“If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own;
 but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world,
the world hates you. Remember the word I spoke to you,
‘No slave is greater than his master.’
If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.
If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name,
because they do not know the one who sent me.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin;
but as it is they have no excuse for their sin.
Whoever hates me also hates my Father.
If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin;
but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
But in order that the word written in their law might be fulfilled,
‘They hated me without cause.’
When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father,
the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.
And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning."
- John 15:18-27

When people persecute you, think of the joy that Jesus brings. Think of the peace, the healing, the hope and the good that life with Him brings. Think of all those moments of grace in your life. Think of all the God moments in your life. Think of the good. All of that is worth it. It's not easy and it can be easy to want to give up. But nothing of this world can satisfy us the way Christ can. Life with Him is better. In Him there is hope. In Him there is peace. In Him there is life.

What do we do when people persecute us? According to Jesus:
"And as for those who do not welcome you,
when you leave that town,
shake the dust from your feet in testimony against them."
- Luke 9:5-6

Shake it off. Let it roll of your shoulder. Shake the dust from your feet. Don't let them get to you. "Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you." - Matthew 5:44. Love them anyway. Forgive. The biggest revenge is to forgive someone and show them that you love them.

It's not easy. But don't be afraid to afraid to take the step and show the world that you walk by faith. Don't be ashamed of your faith. People may judge you and people may persecute you. Love them anyway. It's not easy. But it's worth it. Life with Christ is worth it. He is enough. He is all we need. Live for Him. Don't be afraid. Jackie Francois once said: "You might be the only gospel someone will read."

"So what are you waiting for?
What do you have to lose?
Your insecurities try to alter you

You know you're made for more
So don't be afraid to move
Your faith is all
It takes and you can
Walk on the water too"
- Britt Nicole

Go out, share your faith and show them we are Christians by our love. Set the world on fire. It's not easy. But being a Christian isn't for wimps. You are never alone.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

God always wins.

Yesterday was a battle. I find that when I have awesome God filled days and have really great God moments and feel so overwhelmed by His love, the devil tries that much harder to get me to fall. And let me tell you, I fall; I fall hard. It's not that I fall into doing anything that I shouldn't be doing. It's that I fall into the lies and the temptation. That was my day yesterday.

I was asked what I get out of writing this blog. My mind started going crazy trying to think of an answer. I want this blog to be a documentation of my journey. But more than that, I want it to be able to help others along the way. I want to lead others closer to God. But truth is, I don't even know if people are reading it and if what I type makes a difference. This thought started to eat away at me. And then the battle begun. I spiraled downward into an overthinking mess and beating myself up. The lies started to slowly seep in. All it took was a simple harmless question.

"I'm not good enough."
"God doesn't need me."
"I'm useless."
"My boyfriend is too good for me."
"I don't make a difference."
"I'm nothing."

Pretty destructive thoughts, aren't they? They're lies. My heart was hurting as I was in a state of confusion and lies. And the devil was thriving off of this because that is exactly what he wants. He loves it when we are confused and lost, because that is what gets us the most. The more confused we are, the more likely we are to fall to the lies. Think about it, when you're physically dizzy, you can't walk straight. Same thing. When we're confused, we can't think straight and we become vulnerable. Then he makes his move.

In mass, I was trying so hard to not believe the lies. I went in with a hurting heart and came out feeling better. I came to realize that in the midst of the battle, God fights for me. The devil may get me to fall, but God will always get the devil to fall. God is bigger and God always wins. You hear that? God always wins. No matter how hard we fall, how confused we are, or how many lies are consuming us, God will find way to win our hearts. He will win the battle. Later that night, I was on the phone with Matt. The lies and the hurt came back up as I was telling him about my day. The devil was back at it. But God was giving it right back to him. The Spirit starting moving in Matt as he said every single word that I needed to hear.

"You are precious."
"You are a child of God."
"You are so loved."
"You are wonderful."
"Jesus is so proud of you."
"You are making a difference."
"Your dad is proud of you."
"The fact that you are answering God's call is enough."
"God loves you so much."
"You are something and you are great."

What a difference from the thoughts that I was thinking. He said more, but in my crying state, I didn't absorb all of them. But what I did absorb was the love that was seeping into my heart. While he was talking, I would still have pangs of hurt. But as he kept talking, I kept hearing Jesus say: "LISTEN TO ME. LET IT GO. DO NOT HOLD BACK. HEAR ME." He was fighting. He was fighting for me hard. And at the end of it all, when there were no more tears to cry, He got me. He won. God always wins. To to the point where I was laughing. God won.

Each and every day is a battle because each and every day the devil is trying his hardest to get me away from God. God is love and God is the source of life. The devil hates that, so he's going to try to bring me down. And because I'm human and because I'm weak, I fall. And I will fall over and over again. But with God, I am strong. "I can do all things through Him who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:13. We can't walk this life alone. We need to let God in and know that He is by our side walking with us. He is fighting for us each and every day. He will hold our hand through it all and He will pick us back up when we fall.

"Our steps are made firm by he Lord,
when he delights in our way;
though we stumble, we shall not fall headlong,
for the Lord holds us by the hand."
- Psalm 37:23-24

Temptation is out there. The lies are out there. Pain is out there The devil is out there. We will fall.
But there is hope.
God always wins.
God always wins.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Come Home.

Today was a pretty big day for my family! My sister gave birth to a little boy this morning, making him number 9 of the nieces and nephews. His name is Stephen Mark. He was 9 weeks early, 3lbs 9oz and 17 in long. He may be tiny, but this kid is going to be strong. And I love him already.

Aside from the excitement of our newest family member, I learned a lesson today. And I learned it from my dog, Phoebe.

I took a train home this morning so I could be there to welcome Stephen into the family. Later on in the day, I was walking Phoebe. Phoebe is the kindest dog I have ever met. And the expression "social butterfly" is an understatement for her. Whenever she sees someone new, her tail goes crazy and she gets so excited. Therefore, she pulls me to go meet this new person so she can say hi and let them know that she'll love them forever if they pet her. Due to the length of our walk, this happened quite a bit today. Normally when she does this, I just try to pull her along and then tell her that she shouldn't do that. However, after she did this the last time, I laughed to myself and just said: "Pheeb, you're good for me." I realized that each time she pulled me to say "hi" to another person, she brought a smile to whomever she was greeting. Because of her, I was forced to talk to these people. I was forced to go out on a limb and ask how they were doing or to make a conversation with them. Normally, I wouldn't have a reason to say a word to these people. But Phoebe gave me a reason. She gave me a reason to love. Then I continued to walk and pray and I couldn't help but tie Phoebe into Christ.

One thing that I love about Phoebe and most dogs is that they don't care who you are; they will love you no matter what. And they will always be there to greet you with nothing but excitement and love every time you return home. They don't judge you. They don't care what you've done, where you've been, or how far you've fallen. They will look at you with those eyes and a wiggly tail and a face that just says, "I love you and I'm so glad you're home!" And Phoebe gets so excited to meet other people as well. What would happen if we got so excited to meet another person? That every time we greeted them we showed them that we genuinely wanted to meet them and that we cared. That we won't judge them or let what they've done influence our opinions of them. That no matter what, we just love them and that we let them know that their loved just by being eager to meet them. I don't know about you, but when someone seems to be excited that I'm there, I can't help but feel so loved. So why not be more like dogs and just love? Maybe I need to be more like Phoebe? Or maybe we need to be more like Christ. Doesn't the love that dogs have for us pale in comparison to the love that Christ has for us? He loves us SO much that He rejoices every time we come home to Him.

"The tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to listen to him, but the Pharisees and scribes began to complain, saying, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” So to them he addressed this parable.“What man among you having a hundred sheep and losing one of them would not leave the ninety-nine in the desert and go after the lost one until he finds it? And when he does find it, he sets it on his shoulders with great joy and, upon his arrival home, he calls together his friends and neighbors and says to them, ‘Rejoice with me because I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you, in just the same way there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous people who have no need of repentance." - Luke 15:1-7

Pretty powerful, huh? Christ Himself would leave all of the other sheep, just to find you. And when He finds you, He won't scold or rebuke you. He'll greet you with excitement and say: "My child! You're home!" If you think dogs get excited, I can't even begin to imagine how much more excited Christ would be when we come home to Him. If there has been something that has been keeping you from Christ or if your faith has been shaken, I pray that you find peace and joy knowing that when you come home to Him, He will great you with the greatest of greetings. I don't know where you have been or how much pain you have felt. But I can assure you that there is peace and healing in Christ. I know this because I lived it. (That's for a later blog post.) God will hold your heart with the same hands that created the universe. He will provide a way out so that you may be able to bear what ever it is you are going through. "No trial has come to you but what is human. God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it" - 1 Corinthians 10:13. He will heal you. He will run to you. He loves you. God. Loves. You. Yes, you. He wants you home. So come home to Christ.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Let me tell you bout my Best Friend.

Because of my major, my homework requires me to learn about Jesus. Which in my opinion, is pretty awesome. It brings me so much joy. Today, I was doing homework from my Christian Belief and Though class and I had to read the gospel of Luke. While doing this, I couldn't help but realize how much Jesus truly was fully human (while being fully Divine, of course). But my point is, Jesus gets it.

Jesus has experienced every human emotion that we experience. He's had human experiences just like we have. He's been angry, tempted, rejected, His heart has been moved with pity, He's felt joy, sadness, pain. Sounds familiar, right? Kind of like you and me? I think what's so amazing about this is that it allows us to relate to God. God isn't some task master who is going to take note of every single thing you do right and wrong. He isn't far away from us. He isn't someone to be afraid of. He isn't dead. He's an all loving, all forgiving God who understands exactly how we feel and knows us better than we know ourselves. He's someone you can truly depend on. He's the best friend that we could ever have. And He wants to be our best friend. But that requires work on your part. C.S Lewis said: "God doesn't want anything from us. He simply wants us." He just wants a relationship with us. And because He knows exactly how we feel better than anyone else, why not have a relationship with Him? 

It can be hard to have a relationship with God. He doesn't talk back in the ways that we're used to. We can't just text Him or Facebook chat Him. However, there are ways for us to do this; prayer. Prayer doesn't have to be formal and you saying the rosary for hours. Prayer should be something personal; between you and God. Prayer is your way to communicate with God. It's your way to text Him. Prayer is crucial when it comes to having a relationship with Jesus. Just like any relationship, we need to talk to God. Think of your best friend. You talk to them all the time, right? I'm sure you're in constant communication with them and you update them on your lives and make sure they know what's going on. But imagine you talk to your best friend for one hour once a week. That's all. What would happen? Well, your relationship would eventually dwindle and maybe die. In order to keep that relationship, you need to communicate with them. The same goes for God. We can't just talk to Him for one hour a week in church. We need to be in constant communication with Him. We need to spend time with Him. 

Find what works for you so you can do that. For me, I keep what I call a Jesus journal. I keep a journal where I write to Jesus every night. I talk to Him as my best friend. I talk to Him about my day, struggles that I've had, joys that I've had, things that I'm thankful for. And throughout the day, I share everything with Him. I make sure that He knows what's going on in my life and I keep Him apart of my every day. Another thing that works for me is going to mass or going to the chapel. For those who are Catholic, at mass, we receive Jesus. And when we do, we physically become one with Him. Just as a married couple become one when the consummate their marriage, we become one with Jesus every single time we receive Him. Just as we crave intimacy with other humans, we have an even greater desire for intimacy with God. We are able to be satisfied once we have Him. And there's something about physically getting to hang out with Jesus that does so much for my relationship with Him. You can't get much better than actually being with Jesus. 

Try and take Jesus wherever you go. Make Him a part of your daily lives. Life is hard. But life without Jesus is even harder. We need Him. But most importantly, we need to have a relationship with Him. We need to get to know Him through scripture, song, and others. We need to talk to Him as if we were talking to another person. We need to act out of love for Him and for others. On a retreat I went on in high school, I was taught that we need to have a Christian tripod of study, prayer and action. With this tripod, we can live out our Christian lives. 

Having a relationship with Jesus has done so much for me. He has saved me. He has brought me so much joy, peace, and love. I'm nothing without Him. Having a relationship with Him allows me to be the best I can be. If I love Him as best as I can, then I can better love others. But the best part of having a relationship with Him is the fact that He is the best friend I could ask for. He understands exactly what I'm going through, He will never leave my side. He won't judge me or condemn me. He loves me no matter what. He is the only One I can truly depend on. Jesus will never let me down. And what's awesome is that He can do the exact same thing for you. We have to be the ones to make a move and work for this relationship. Jesus is always reaching His hand out for us; it's up to us to grab it. I pray that you can let go, and trust Him. Know that He will love you with all that He has and that He will never hurt you or let you down. He's the best friend anyone could ever ask for. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

I'm desperate.

So I would try to come up with some witty introduction to interest you and hook you into my lesson of the day. But I'm just going to come right out and say it: I'm desperate.

Yup. That's right. I'm desperate. I'm desperate for Jesus.

Over the past year, I've truly come to realize how much I need Jesus. Especially recently, I've come to know how much I am not without Him. I don't like who I am without Jesus. Think about food. Do you every go a really long time without eating? Nothing can satisfy you but the food that will end your hunger. In the mean time, you get irritable, grouchy, emotional and impatient. The smallest thing can tick you off. If you're like me, you don't like who you are when you're in that state. But once you eat, you are totally satisfied. All of the moodiness goes away and you are back to yourself. Because of that food, you are happy again and you can continue with your day. That is me when it comes to Jesus. I'll have days, like today, where I fall from Him. I become distracted. I don't pray as much as I should. I don't depend on His grace to get me through the day. I try and get through the day on my own. I put Jesus on the back-burner and only go to Him when I need Him. In the mean time, I become super emotional, easily angered, insecure, doubtful, weak, and other things. I don't like who I am. But once I catch myself or go to mass and put things in prospective, I'm good to go. I get Jesus in me and then it's as if nothing can stop me. I am completely satisfied. Thing is, up until that point where I have my "aha" moment of the day, I look to other things to satisfy me throughout the day. Mainly, other people. Especially my boyfriend.

And friends, I'll admit, I hate that I do this. And sharing this with you makes me feel like I'm weak. But it's true and it's a part of me. I'm not perfect. I'll look to others to satisfy me. Take my boyfriend (Matt) for example. I will be the first to tell you that he is the most amazing guy that I have ever met. I have never met anyone like him and I have never been as close to someone as I am with him. I couldn't have asked God for a better boyfriend. He's incredibly sweet, gentle, and respectful. He loves Jesus and he leads me closer to Him. He'll randomly send me flowers, and some of the texts he sends me put the biggest smiles on my face. Simply put, he's awesome. And having him in my life has brought me so much joy. However, Matt is human. As am I. The love than a human can give is limited. Inevitably, we disappoint each other, annoy each other and sometimes even get the other mad (mostly I get him mad when we have debates and I just get carried away with playing devil's advocate :) ). Point is, neither of us are perfect. And because of this, it's completely unfair for me to expect him to satisfy me. No human being, as amazing as they are, can satisfy us the way Christ can.

We have God-shaped holes in our hearts and He is the only one who can fill it. We can try to look to people or things to truly satisfy us, but we will soon come to learn that that will never be enough for us. God is enough. I know this. So why to I go through days where I don't live like I know it? Well, because I'm not perfect and because I fall. But the amazing part is, that even though I fall, Jesus still loves me. I get distracted, go my own way, and sometimes think my plan is the better plan, and He stands there, patiently waiting for me and so madly in love with me. I don't deserve this. None of us do. But even while we don't deserve it, Jesus loves us to no end. He loves us so much that "while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:8. How amazing is that? No matter what we do, how much we fall, or how much we get distracted, Christ will be by our side no matter what. Wow.

Now, don't take it as in "I can go do whatever I want without Jesus, party it up in the world of sin and He'll still love me no matter what!" It's true that He'll still love you. But we have to strive to have a relationship with Him and to grow closer to Him. Sin is simply defined as something that leads us away from God. We have to follow Christ.

God would have this be the Gospel for today, just because He likes to work in awesomely ironic ways.

"Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life? Or what can one give in exchange for his life? For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct. Amen, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

This is what I'm striving to do. I need to deny myself and lose my life for the sake of Christ. And I going to be perfect and the best follower ever? No. I'm going to fall, mess up, get distracted over and over again. But I'm at peace and I find joy knowing that Jesus loves us no matter what. No matter what.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Nothing but love.

I make it part of my day to go to daily mass every day. I find that there's something so amazing about being able to have Jesus every day. Once He's in me, then I can truly let go and let Him do whatever He needs me to do. However, today there was a little bit of conflict. After the second class of the day, some friends asked if I wanted to go to Ride Aid. Due to some womanly issues, I had a very great craving for chocolate. I also had some things to pick up and some pictures to print out. By the time we got to campus, it was 5:03. Mass started at 5:00. You would think that undoubtedly, I would go to mass. But I had an internal conflict. I had milk that needed to be put into the fridge and all I wanted to do was sit in my room and eat my chocolate. But I remembered a text that my boyfriend sent me this morning telling me what the readings of today were. Which so happen to be one of my favorite readings (so much so that it's summed up in a tattoo on my wrist). With that reminder, I ran to mass, milk and all.

Here's today's first reading:

"Brothers and sisters:
Strive eagerly for the greatest spiritual gifts.

But I shall show you a still more excellent way.

If I speak in human and angelic tongues
but do not have love,
I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal.
And if I have the gift of prophecy
and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge;
if I have all faith so as to move mountains,
but do not have love, I am nothing.
If I give away everything I own,
and if I hand my body over so that I may boast
but do not have love, I gain nothing.

Love is patient, love is kind.
It is not jealous, love is not pompous,
it is not inflated, it is not rude,
it does not seek its own interests,
it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing
but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things.

Love never fails.
If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing;
if tongues, they will cease;
if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing.
For we know partially and we prophesy partially,
but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away.
When I was a child, I used to talk as a child,
think as a child, reason as a child;
when I became a man, I put aside childish things.
At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror,
but then face to face.
At present I know partially;
then I shall know fully, as I am fully known.
So faith, hope, love remain, these three;
but the greatest of these is love."
-1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13

This is what we are called to do; love. We are nothing without love. Love should be what guides our thoughts, words, and actions. Love is what Jesus immeasurably gives us. Love is what died on the cross for us. God is love. 

We're called to love. But how? No, we don't have to make a cross and crucify ourselves on it. But we do have to strive to love and react to others the way Jesus would. That means putting yourself aside and putting others first. Going out of your comfort zone to love the unlovable. Sitting with that kid who sits alone. Defending the voiceless. Giving until it hurts. Lending an listening ear. Holding a door open. Volunteering at a soup kitchen. Helping someone with homework. Not participating in gossip. Smiling at someone who passes you on the street. Stopping and asking how someone's day is. Being quick to forgive and slow to anger. Being selfless. It doesn't take starting a non-profit or opening an orphanage in Africa to love. As Mother Teresa says: "We cannot do great things. Just small things with great love." These small things with great love should be what centers our day. Make it a point to do one thing for someone else each day. Because as James 2:26 says, "faith without works is dead."

"Faith without works is dead." That's pretty powerful. And it definitely makes a great point. We can go around saying that we have the greatest faith ever and that we go to church all the time and that we always pray and pray for others. Yes, that's great. But that's not enough. We can't just talk the talk. Friends, we need to walk the walk. Don't just have faith; live it. We cannot have faith without love. We cannot keep that love to ourselves. We need to do whatever it takes to love. This is crucial. Even if you don't like someone, love them. If someone hurts you, love them. If someone disappoints you, love them. Even if someone persecutes you for your love or questions your love, keep on loving. Don't judge. Just love. Love is a decision and it's up to you to decided to love each person you encounter. Let no one leave you without feeling loved.

"Love your neighbor as yourself." -Luke 10:27

Everyone wants to be loved. And everyone wants more love in this world. As Gandhi said: "be the change you wish to see in the world." It's up to us to be an example of love. Jesus loved to no end. He loved to the point of death. If that's not love, I don't know what is. Let our lives be the proof of His love. Open your hearts and let Jesus work through you. Go out and show the world nothing but love.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

This I believe.

Today in one of my classes, we talked about belief. What we believe and why do we believe it? What does it mean to believe and what does it take to believe? I was being asked what I believe. Not what my mom, step-dad, brothers, sister, sisters-in-law, brother-in-law, grandma, aunts, uncles, cousins, teachers, or friends believe. Me. What do I believe? At least in my case, I've grown up being told what I should believe and why I should believe it. Don't get me wrong, I've always been supported to believe in my own ways. But I've definitely had guidelines of what I "should" believe. Mom's always told me to go to church and that God loves me. In church, I'm told about God and why to believe in Him. Sometimes I've even felt pressured to believe what the church believes. But I'm in college now. No one's here to tell me what to believe, what to say, think or do. I'm on my own here. It's up to me to determine what I believe and what I want to believe. I can decide what I agree with and what I don't. This is my chance to become my own person.

What do I believe? Well, I believe in a lot of things. I believe in Jesus and I strongly believe in going by what He says; not necessarily what the church says. I believe in the love, hope, peace, joy, healing and life that Jesus brings. He has done more for me than words can say. I believe in loving someone to matter what. It doesn't matter what you do, what you've done, who you are, where you've been, how far you've fallen, if you're gay, straight, black, white, Asian, Hispanic, or any race, if you're an addict, if you're an atheist, Muslim, Hindu, Jew, Buddhist, flying spaghetti monster follower, homeless, rich, or whatever label you have been called; it doesn't matter. You are you and I will love you just for that. I believe in not condemning or judging. I have no place judging or condemning someone just because they sin differently than me. I believe in tattoos. They open the window to someone's soul. Mine just happen to be my mottos on skin. I believe in family. Family is forever. I believe in forgiveness and the power of it. Everyone deserves to be forgiven no matter what. I believe in respect. Even if you don't respect me, I will respect you. I believe in turning the other cheek. I believe in horses and animals and how much healing they can bring. I believe in laughing at any chance I get. Laughter is the best medicine. I believe in Christian music. I believe in having an open mind. I believe in marriage. I believe in gay marriage. I believe in being in love. I believe in humanity. I believe in optimism. I believe in hope. I believe in kindness. I believe in faith. I believe in love.

I believe that everyone is entitled to believe what they want. 

But what does it mean to believe? I think it means putting your faith into something even when others may disagree with you. What does it take to believe? A lot of courage to come out and state what we believe.  I've been made fun of, and flat out told that I was wrong for things that I believe. And to be honest, that is not a good feeling at all. It's a personal blow. There is always going to be someone out there to disagrees with you. That is why we cling to others who believe the same things. Every time I publicly state that I believe in and that I'm in love with Jesus, I risk being called a "Jesus freak." Frankly, it wouldn't be the first time and I'm sure it won't be the last. It's not easy believing in Jesus when so many are not for Him. Honestly, it can actually be scary. Today we were asked to go in front of the class and talk about the world that best describes your vision for your life. My word was "Christ-centered." I have to admit, I was afraid to go up and state this and state what I believe because I'm afraid of rejection. I'm afraid of being ridiculed and negatively confronted. I'm afraid of being persecuted. "The phrase 'do not be afraid' is written in the bible 365 times. That's a daily reminder from God to live every day being fearless." I'm going to believe what I want to believe without being afraid. You too, should believe what you believe without being afraid.

Believe what you want to believe. Don't be afraid of rejection. Don't worry about what others think about you. If there is something you believe in and are passionate about, then friend, go and believe it. I have no right to tell you what to believe. I can tell you what I believe and why I believe it. But it's up to you to believe it. Same goes for others. Don't judge someone just because they believe something differently than you. Everyone is entitled to believe in what they want to believe. You don't have to agree, but respect their beliefs.

Agree or not, this is what I believe.