Archives for category: family

Lately I wonder how adequate my growth has the potential to be, if my vertical communion is limited and the majority of it is not initiated by me. Is spiritual growth separate from the other kinds we experience as humans, like the mental or emotional species? Does any class of growth happen separate from God? I do not imagine it is out of Satan’s desire to promote certain areas of growth if ultimately it draws me out of communion with God, so I suppose it is possible to grow as a person in “good” ways in my unimpressible state.

This is my fear! I barely communicate with God through intentional prayer lately, as I am still grieving for Pam and spiritual apathy is like an anvil on my soul. But I can’t deny all the ways I am experiencing growth and “good” change in my life since. Has God found ways to reach my squashed spirit, and subconsciously I to him? I find myself these days with emotional responses that are (relatively) mature/rational, with more sincere regard for my friends and family, an infinitely more genuine personality and optimistic, focused point of view. Up until recently I palpably lacked all these things, that was easily observed, especially by myself. I am excited to pursue things now for my own fulfillment (read: healthy hobbies) and I understand now that my goals are to simply find what I love and do it, and what is purer or sweeter than that? Such a revelation, such an embrace of the genuine person that I am is like taking in a cool glass of water after a season of drought.

A part of this sort of mental clarity comes from a realization I had a couple of weeks prior, while I read an email I wrote sometime my junior year of college. It was to a friend that I was losing and I was, to phrase it mildly, entirely obsessed with and determined to put things right between the two of us. On the surface, my words are sickly sweet, imploring, too simple to suggest intrigue. My true feelings behind them were depression over the state of our friendship, morose really, confusion as to why we were growing apart and inwardly wondering if it was because of me, because there was a part (or all of) me that she didn’t like. The latter idea terrified and tortured me. Looking over this email three years later, it’s astonishing to see how affected and blatantly fake I was! In the email I exuded happiness and cordiality and passive interest as if those were natural components of our relationship, but never scratching the surface as to why we grew apart or otherwise being sincere in any way. The tone the letter is so unlike me, it was unsettling to read. It made my stomach turn, thinking of how much my friend’s reception of me mattered and how I let that shape me… even more so, I remember that I was completely oblivious to my hypocrisy, only writing in order to gain her friendship and trust again.

It kick-started something in me, mentally and emotionally, and it changed in me the way I approach most things. Life. I think my disgust at seeing something so insincere and fake, and realizing that this permeated most of my character in college & since, has rerouted my perspective and personality into something more healthy and real.

I never realized it at the time, but returning to school as a newly converted Christian imparted a lot of very real pressure on me to glory in prudishness, to be the ideal Christ lover, to be spiritually mature enough to lead others to Him. I wanted approval from my family in Christ and everyone else, so I hid my sins, becoming all the more insincere and plain fake, rejecting my old self, genuine personality and all.  I realize this now, and though it haunts me to think of the friendships I lost or ruined or the people I may have led astray because of my deeply rooted insecurities, I am still ignited to be completely the opposite. Perhaps God is influencing all of this, perhaps vertical communion is still happening, perhaps my soul found a way to connect to Him that my mind does not realize yet.

Perhaps the mere thought of prayer, or the simple desire to be known by God, to be a better and more genuine soul, is prayer itself.

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There were so many times in the past three months I wanted to blog, or had an inkling of a profound idea for one, or had a lot on my heart that could have been shared…

But even though my life for the past three months was a cornucopia of wonders, hardships, contentment & confusion, I don’t have a lot of pretty words bubbling over to pour out into a post right now. I thought I might just bullet-point the bigger goings-on in my life.

  • My favorite thing to do as of late is READ. Not just anything, though. My sister found a box full of my old paperbacks in our attic, gems like Sweet Valley High, Fear Street & Gary Paulsen. I read about five R.L. Stine books in the past few weeks, they’re like candy to me. I read them like I did when I was in middle school, under the covers with my small lamp on, straight through or until my eyes involuntarily clamp shut (out of sheer terror, or exhaustion).
  • My little sister & I are growing closer. I love it. I know she cherishes me for who I am & gets my quirks. I am super comfortable & happy to be myself around her. Our relationship has grown a lot, she is super precious to me & our mutual respect is something pretty neat.
  • I am working three jobs, neither of which are satisfying or nurturing. I tutor approximately zero science students at a community college & I have two retail jobs. Each still require work ethic though & I’m saving up money so it isn’t all unproductive.
  • I am gaining a little confidence, one week at a time, about making future plans. About what my life is going to be. “What the heck am I doing with my life?!” with varied tones of exasperation, clarity & conviction, is my mantra lately. These next few months I feel are some of the most pivotal of my life — the next job I land might be the one that lasts half my life (something a friend lovingly shared last week).
  • I am thinking about going to grad school. Not for science though, for counseling. I had a fruitful experience in Minnesota working with at-risk youth last year; it may be a calling? Who knows about these things? So wherever I move this year, that’s likely (or not, perhaps, maybe) where I am staying in order to go to a good school, in state, to get a counseling certificate. There’s a chance. Or I might move to Boston to live with my older sister. Or I might move to Baltimore to be a part of an intentional community & teach children about gardening & environmental friendliness. MAKING DECISIONS IS NOT MY FORTE.
  • I miss my friends. Edit: I NEED MY FRIENDS. There are not many at home anymore & since I am out of the instant community of college or a volunteer program I seem to have become a social recluse. A little bit. Turns out I have some social anxieties I didn’t know about before, because there’s never been a time when a friend wasn’t a few minutes (or a few doors) away.

  • The week of Thanksgiving, my cousin’s husband decided to kill her. He committed suicide after. They left behind their daughter who is about to graduate high school. The entire experience, for everyone, is completely & utterly horrific. Pam was her name. She was young, beautiful & sassy. The kind of grief we experienced/are experiencing is sometimes blinding, it’s so painful. It completely stuns you, the shock & the sadness of it, to a point where speaking is hopeless & your mind races with convoluted excuses & sorrows for weeks on end. There isn’t a time since the funeral that I don’t feel heavy & empty when I think about losing Pam, or wonder about what it’s like for her daughter, or my aunt, or her sister.
  • God has not been a part of the picture, at least not much, since Pam’s funeral. My sadness, I think, has overrun my desire to let God be a discerning part of the grieving process (or my life, frankly). I was never belligerent, but I did put up defenses around my heart like Fort Knox & refused to let any vertical communication persist. I stopped caring about the Gospel, or God’s perspective. It means nothing to me that God might understand or sympathize with our pain; the idea made me laugh more than once. Hysterically. Deep down, though, my soul is always stirring for Something more & I hope that His sympathies might mean something, someday.

That is the reason I didn’t post anything for three months. It is the biggest thing that happened in my life since. How could I write about anything without considering Pam? Such an experience is impossible to process into a coherent blog, or words at all. In any case, I had no idea how to approach it so I just stopped trying to write. Lately though, I think I am beginning to look objectively at things… I talked openly with a friend about it this weekend & that encouraged me to blog a little. It’s not that I’m finished grieving for Pam & my family but maybe God could be a bigger part of the picture now that emotions/defenses aren’t wreaking havoc?

Aside from my newest fascination with all that was and is Jane Austen, there are some neat things going on during this transitional period of my life, like living back at home and thus becoming closer to my family, learning more about myself from being around them twenty-four/seven, and pursuing other volunteering gigs when not occupied by the former two.  The latter “neat thing going on” is not going so well though, and that is discouraging, because I would like to have these things ironed out months in advance.  The title to my post is owing to the rejection and upset I experienced with most things pursued these past few years, i.e. Campus Crusade for Christ, LVC, botany & all else related to my science degree.  I won’t lie and say I am never depressed over these facts, but I am simultaneously reminded to stroll gracefully onward and keep working on placing my trust in God.  God commands the impossible-ist things.

This week I received a letter of refusal from another Catholic program that would place me in D.C., where I might work with youth by way of tutoring, mentoring, teaching and leading various programs.  It might have suited me well, considering this past year at the Children’s Home and that I am wanting to pursue a teaching certificate in the near future possibly, perhaps, who knows — ?  I thought it a perfect match as my conversation with them went well (actually, stellar) and I thought I aced my application, so I was at a loss over the rejection.  My mom recommended I call just to ask, but since they did not return any of my emails or calls beforehand about my acceptance, instead ignoring me and choosing to inform through some bland rejection letter, I imagine history would simply repeat itself.

Then I thought about what my application gave away that stifled my chances, and I immediately thought it was because I am not Catholic, which failed to come up during our stellar conversation.  It makes sense; I did a little digging (via a single sweep through the FAQ provided by the program’s website) and found that they are not only founded on Catholic principle but are exclusive to Catholics, distinctly asking for ‘Catholic adults seeking to further their spirituality through service, community, etc.’  Yikes.  That is a pretty important pre-requisite, and I admit that if I were a volunteer coordinator for such a program I would assume that all those who apply are not Protestants — why would anyone other than a Catholic want to be a part of a Catholic program?  So I get that, but I suppose I was making an assumption based off of FCV, which although it is founded by a religious order of women, is entirely an ecumenical program.  After reading the letter and giving some thought to it, I am grateful to be led away from a community that probably would have hindered rather than allowed much flourishing growth, if the goal of the program is to particularly foster Catholic spirituality.  At least as an FCV, I had room to stretch my Protestant feet.  I would rather be situated among others that shared basic theology and feelings similar to my evangelical roots which is, let’s face it, many facets away from Catholicism.  So while I am bummed to be snubbed, no less ignored for a couple of weeks beforehand, I am thankful because God is sovereign over it and my faith perspective leads be to believe that it is a good thing, even perfect for me,  since it is a door closed by God Himself.  His designs are best.

There are two more programs in waiting, each in two different states.  But I am not done searching and I am still encouraged.  This year is a gift of discernment and I know where my heart lies, with children and the needy, and I am convinced God wants me to be with and serve them.  What more motivation and direction to I need?

My lovely Grandmother Suzzane sent me a nice letter the other day, and along with it was a printed prayer from her Uncle Albert, who was apparently a priest. Chevalier is her maiden name; she’s French Canadian. I was thrilled to see the initials “O.M.F.” – immediately likening them to the typical Franciscan Order for monks and priests, until I realized the delicate mis-order of the letters. It’s “O.F.M.” that means Order of Francis Minor. So for a few days I was elated and told everyone that I had a great uncle who was a Franciscan priest! I reveled in thinking that this precious spirituality was a part of my family and in my blood. Good things never last!

Now I am wondering just what “O.M.F.” means, and if it’s an order at all, because I cannot find a Catholic order with those initials for the life of me. I’ve been googling it for a little while now and all I’ve found is Overseas Missions Fellowship, definitely not what I’m looking for. I also think that my grandmother would have mentioned something to me if she knew her uncle was Franciscan.

Here is the prayer I received:

Father Chevalier’s Daily Prayer

My God, I believe you are the God (supernatural) of the universe, I believe that Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, I believe everything that Our Lord has taught me, simply and solely because You, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, have revealed these truths to me. “Yes, Lord, I believe but help my unbelief.”

My God, I hope with all my heart that You will one day give me heaven and I have firm confidence that everything which happens to me on earth is for my greater good in the long run if only I always do my best.

My God, I want to love You with all my heart and my neighbor as myself for love of You. Help me do so.

I thank You, O My God, for the innumerable graces You have bestowed upon me and I humbly beg pardon for all the offenses I have committed against Your Infinite Majesty.

Help me, O My God, to be prudent in all my notions; absolutely just towards You and my neighbor; courageous and persevering in the battle of life; controlled and moderate in my enjoyment of the pleasures of this earth and patient in bearing its disappointments and sufferings.

All this I offer to and ask of You, O My God, through the intercession of Our Blessed Mother and through the merits of Jesus Christ, Thy Beloved Son and our Divine Saviour. Amen.

Praise God Almighty, I am home at last!

Okay, stealing a well-known catch phrase from the period of emancipation might be a little overkill.  But still, I am overwhelmingly happy to be home, with my family, dog and warm weather.  I’ll get to see some good friends in the next week or so and I’m grateful.  I’ve been looking forward to this time for a few weeks now, and I can’t describe how good it feels to see everyone.  Not necessarily to be home, or here in Calvert County.  It doesn’t hold many fantastic memories for me and I’m not wholly fond of it to put things mildly!  Although since I lived here it seems the entire place has changed multiple times  – with my mom’s consistent distaste with the state of things like the wall coloring or sofa arrangements – it is still a place that holds bitter thoughts and lack of growth.  Maybe that’s for another post.  BUT I am giving my thanksgiving to God for the precious moments from the past 24 hours, like walking out of the airport to a balmy near-40 degrees, seeing Dad and Rachel across the lobby at the security gate for the first time, Rachel and I running in slow motion to collide in a very poetic hug in the middle of said lobby, our pup Jasmine being ridiculously pumped to see me in our driveway, and my first sleep in my warm, familiar bed.

This week will be filled with cleaning, cooking, decorating (Mom left the whole tree for me to decorate… how nice), and buying Christmas gifts.  Oh, and sending out super late Christmas cards to my friends because I’m a huge bum and kept putting it off.  Joy and her beau, Jack, are coming up from SC on Christmas Eve.  We’re getting a family portrait taken, even with Jack, even though he’s not part of the family… but he and Joy have been talking about marriage, so I suppose it’s okay.

I am missing Minnesota, the nuns and my new friends terribly already.  Sister Clara gave me a call to make sure all was okay and to say that they were all thinking of me!  She left a sweet message blessing me and my family and I shared it with my folks.   I may not have made it to the coast if it weren’t for their prayer all day yesterday; there were lots of complications thanks to the blizzard over the weekend.

I’m so joyful to be home!