In the Air!

In the Air!
400 feet above the ground in Orlando.

Florida

Florida
Taking my first step towards a new life.

Virginia

Virginia
Spending an afternoon at Marymount during my internship!

My rocks!

My rocks!
Wouldn't be where I am without my parents!

Graduation

Graduation
Walking for my Masters. An interesting book end as this all started when I graduated from undergrad!

Awesome Nurses!

Awesome Nurses!
After my port removal and saying goodbye to my chemo nurses before moving away from Michigan. Wouldn't be doing that without them!

Hair again!

Hair again!
Growing longer each day

Last Chemo

Last Chemo

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Silliness

Silliness
Something to remember and return to. A good day!

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Sunday, June 13, 2010

A New Priest For The Church!

Mass today was a little different from normal. The celebrant was someone I knew when I was young and he was even younger! Fr. Matt Kinney came up to Michigan from Texas to say a Mass of Thanksgiving at the parish he grew up in. I have known Father since he was in elementary school! To watch him say Mass today was pretty amazing! It seems like it was just yesterday when he was little and yet there I was, listening to Father Matt give a homily on vocations.

The main point of his homily was that God doesn't always call us with a loud cry and all the bells and whistles. Many times it is a silent, gentle nudge here and there, almost unnoticeable if you aren't paying attention. I believe that this is most often the case. So often we surround ourselves with the noise of the world that we don't spend time in silent prayer. Or we look for big signs from God. But we have to remember that God was not in the wind or fire but in the gentle breeze. We need to spend more time in silent prayer and meditation. To discover our vocations we need to listen to what is being said to us in the silence of our hearts To sit in Adoration and open ourselves up to God's loving and gentle voice, calling us to our vocation.

Just as we won't always be called with signs and verbal words, our vocations are all different. Everyone has a purpose here on earth, hence a vocation. Not everyone is called to do something big and noticeable. Yet we can do great work even with a quiet and seemingly insignificant role. When Father Matt said he felt he was called specifically to be a parish priest, I started to think of the other priestly callings he mentioned; missionary, contemplative, or specific organizations such as working with the homeless, sick and so on. I realized that the parish priests are often the unsung heroes of our faith. Thousands of people come to them for help and advice and everyone starts from infancy and baptism and go through their life always coming back to their parish priest. It is their job to care for the souls of their parish family and that responsibility is great! I am proud and happy to know Father Matt because I know that with his ordination the Catholic Church has gained a priest who will do his best to bring people to God and care for them with great generosity!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Suffering As A Gift, Not A Hardship

In browsing through newspapers and the Internet, I found myself drawn towards first a story about a Downs Syndrome baby and then about a young girl who had bone cancer and is now up for canonization. I know I said that I was looking for the positive stories, the ones that uplift a person, and I believe that these two stories will do just that. We need to look beyond the surface here and see the joy and the love these two stories show us. We need to use these stories as a guide in our own lives.

The first is about a mother's journey through pregnancy and beyond, knowing she was going to have a Downs Syndrome baby. So often today, people hear that diagnosis and can only think the words "Why me?" There is sadly a percentage of people who never move beyond those two words and choose to end their child's life before that question can be answered. In this story though, Nancy (the mother), let that question be answered by her beautiful baby girl, Lily.

http://www.nads.org/pages_new/new_parents/birthstory.html


The second story I want to draw your focus to is about a 19 year old girl who battled bone cancer during her teenage years. Chiara Badano learned early and quickly that we can't always explain why things happen. Acceptance, hope and love are what we need to get through those times of inexplicable suffering. Throughout a very painful and frightening time, this young girl was able to turn to her faith in God, he love of God and therefor her love of those around her to help draw her through that time. Because of her constant yes to God, that yes that brought pain and suffering but also unimaginable joy, she is now in the process of officially being declared a saint.

http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/library/view.cfm?id=8608&CFID+402654048CFTOKEN=56110933


In a time when most teenagers, and yes even adults, are focused on the latest fashions, whether someone likes them or not and what expensive thing is now in fashion, Chiara was encouraging others to become closer to God. Thinking of those other things isn't bad, it's quite normal in fact. But putting those things before God is what makes life more and more difficult as you get older. You aren't learning to put others before yourself. You aren't learning to say yes to difficult things. You aren't learning that there are more important things in life then your own personal desires. It is easy when you are young to think that you have all the time in the world and I have to ask, why does it take those who don't have that time to make us stop and think about what is most important in life? No one searches for suffering, even the most holy people don't! What shows a person's true mettle is when suffering comes, can they say, like Nancy and Chiara, yes to it with a smile?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Positively Reporting through Positively Following God

"Incline your heart to me and attune your ear to my voice. For I would speak to you and I have an urgent message to give to you.

Do not set out to establish your own designs. I have already set in motion my divine will and purpose, and I would not have you interfere. I am jealous of my children: they are mine and you shall not intrude in any way to hinder my plans from working out. You may do many things, but only that which I direct you to do can have my blessing.

Resign all into my hands--your loved ones as well as your own self. Be obedient to the still small voice. Your own imaginings may speak more loudly, but wait upon me always. You will see the wisdom in this in due time. Fret not about carnal things but concern yourself first and always with spiritual values. Truly, my promise is still: 'see first the kingdom of God' and all other needful things will be added to you."
--Come Away My Beloved
By Frances J. Roberts

Tonight I spoke with two friends at two different times from two very different walks of life. One, a dyed in the wool atheist and the other, a strong, practicing Catholic. I met my atheist friend for some coffee and a chance to visit earlier this evening. Through the course of our conversation, he said that there are no stories out there about Christians or Catholics doing something completely good for other people without prostalatizing. While I myself see nothing wrong with sharing my faith with others while trying to help them, I knew he was wrong. He also said that Christian and Catholic people only help people if they can preach to them. Again, I knew he was wrong but was hard put to come up with a news story that I could show him to prove that he was wrong. I started to get agitated about the fact that the majority of news stories today, be they be on religion or events in lives around the world, are not positive. They don't show the goodness that is out there! Unless it causes scandal or contains some kind of shock value that somehow manages to affect someone in a negative way, you rarely see it on the front page or headlining the evening news.

This got me thinking of all the negative press out there about the Catholic Church and I started wracking my brains! I tried to think of a story in the news that showed a person living their Catholic or Christian faith as such a part of their life that they were doing good in the world without drawing attention to themselves but rather just lead their lives as God intended, showing His love and compassion for his creation. A story where someone just walked in and said, "Whether you join my church or not, whether you believe in what I say or not, I am here to help you in any way you need it because that is what my faith has taught me to do for my fellow man." I realized that I hadn't seen a story headline the evening news that had a positive message about the Catholic Church in a very long time even though I know they are out there. As I voiced these frustrations to my friend he told me that I should find those stories and write about them. He even said that if I found those stories and sent him the links, he would put them on his atheist blog! Who can resist such an offer?!

Later, as I drove home, I called my other friend, the Catholic. As we talked, so much of what I had been talking about before came out in a rush, among many other things. She patiently listened to my verbal rampage on several different topics and then asked if she could read something to me about resignation. What she read to me was the passage quoted above. At the very beginning I was only half listening, and then the kind, loving, and semi gentle whacks upside the head from God started coming. With the words "For I would speak to you and I have an urgent message to give to you." I started listening closer. Each line seemed to be saying to me in different ways what my atheist friend had said about finding the positive stories and writing about them. Of looking for those moments when people have surrendered their will to God and done what he has planned for us all along. Also, that I needed to start acting on what that still, small voice has been telling me.

As my Catholic friend finished reading the paragraphs all I could do was sit in silent astonishment. I asked her to read it again and then had her read it a third time so I could write it down. I realized tonight that God was using these two people to tell me that he has a plan for me. That no matter what happens in life, he has it figured out. All I have to do is follow him and let life happen.

I am taking the atheist’s advice and am going to write about the positive things in life. Find the positive stories in faith and secular life. Show people that following God's Will does in fact make you a better person and will inspire others to do the same. While a large part of the job of the Church Militant is to bring others to God, it does not always have to be done with words. It can also effectively be done by actions. Whether a person believes in God or not, whether their intention is to do God's Will or simply to do good, God works through everyone, atheist and Catholic alike! And so thank you my friendly atheist for giving me the idea and inspiration of finding positive stories and bringing them to light. And thank you my loving Catholic friend for showing me that God doesn't always work in the most obvious ways, but that He has a plan for us, and we need to follow it through all it's twists and turns, knowing it will ultimately lead us to Him!

I encourage people to help me find the positive stories out there, whether they be attributed to God or not. When we see someone doing something good for someone, we know that is God working through that person to show His love for us...even when some don't believe that! Big or small, Catholic or secular, I will be looking for the stories that show the goodness in humanity and their ability to bring out the best in the people around them. To go out and experience and share life as I know it through the help of God.