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.