Monday, July 11, 2016

the gift

"Don't put that sucker down!!" -- These are words shared by a wise sister friend of mine, regarding our need to carry our crosses in life.  Oh, I'm so grateful to hear someone just say it point blank with conviction.  We need more of that in our lives, don't you agree?  Some things can't be sugarcoated.

I was reminded in a raw way that I have many times put my cross down and chose to do what I wanted to do...not what God wanted me to do.  I mean just like most people, I enjoy the easy route without having to carry anything around with me.  But gosh darn it...if the cross is our key to salvation, why the heck do I want to put the key away?  I need to guard it, embrace it, and thank God for it.

The same night we had the discussion about carrying our cross, I saw this painting of a beautiful lady with her precious son.  Hm.  They were offering me a cross I can carry.  The looks in their eyes were saying, "This is our gift to you."

At the same time, they were saying, "We can help you carry it, Maricris.  My son and I can help you."

In today's gospel, Jesus says, "...and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me." (Matthew 10:38)

For a long time, I thought I was carrying the cross I was given.  To this day I still think, "Yup.  Got it.  Carrying it."

Nope.  Well, okay fine...only sometimes.  It'd be wrong of me to say I never carried my crosses.

The harsh reality is that most of the time I see it and want to run the opposite direction.  However, I know I've turned away from true joy too many times and it's time I change the game.  I see you, cross.  I may still find myself wanting to put it down, but I know I have the support and love from my prayer warriors to get me going.  I know that Mama Mary and Jesus are walking alongside of me.

There is no new information here, people.  No new revelation, no new teaching.  One small tweak can lead to total transformation, and this could be that one change in your life that will help lead you to holiness.

My prayer tonight is for you to have the strength to carry your cross.  Whatever it may be, know that this beautiful gift is from love and we are here to help each other carry it.

Praying for you right now.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

finding it

Imagine you are walking down the streets of New York, trying to get to a restaurant you've never been to before.  All the streets look the same, you think you aren't turning corners in circles, but then even the people start to look identical.  "Did I already go down this street?"

You know you're going the right way, but for some reason you are doubting the directions you took down from your friend before you left.  Your head is down trying to get to the map on your phone.  Headphones are in because you're listening to some tunes.  Cars are honking everywhere because...well it's NYC.  Too many satellites and tall buildings in the city, so your phone is on the fritz.  That weird symbol at the top of your phone indicates that its trying to catch a signal.  All you need is a minute of cell service to know you're going the right way....

"TURN LEFT IN 500 FEET!!!!  YOUR DESTINATION IS ON YOUR RIGHT!!!" blares in your eardrum to a point it startles you and you stop.  The volume was up so loud, you still hear the ringing even after you pull off the headphones.

This moment with your smart phone strikes you back into a reality and you look up.  Now you know where you are, where you're going, and you feel better about moving forward.  Sheesh that loud voice scared you...but you're still grateful.  It was so noisy out, that the volume helped get your attention.

This has been me recently.  I know where I'm headed, I've got the directions I need.  I'm getting a little lost along the way and scrambling for help to get back on track.

There are many ways that the Lord speaks to me on a daily basis, but when He is clearly screaming for my attention because I'm too deaf to hear Him, He comes at me hard in ways that will grab my attention: music and nature.

Lately, I've been trying to hone in on what the Lord is asking of me in service.  But in that reflection, I've fallen into a selfish place asking how I'm being taken cared of in all of this.  My love for Jesus, suddenly became conditional.  I don't know how or when I went down this rabbit hole, but it took a song and a storm to shake me awake.  It was the loud voice I heard in my heart, and the affect is still ringing in my head.

I was a prayer group at my church, and we listened to this song "Help Me Find It" by Sidewalk Prophets.  The whole song just resonated with me this evening, but this line sums it up: "If there's a road I should walk, help me find it.  If I need to be still, give me peace for the moment."  I don't doubt that the Lord hasn't helped me find my way.  It's that I don't give Him enough of my quiet time to be still and rest in His peace.  I feel like I'm going through an internal/spiritual/emotional kind of storm.  But as I walked out of that prayer meeting today, I was reminded by God of the beauty of the earth after a real storm.  Rain came pouring down this evening.  It was a straight up downpour.  However, when I walked outside, I did NOT expect to see the sky look absolutely stunning.  

This was God saying, "After the storm is a beautiful calm.  Let the storms in your life happen and pass."

That gave me peace and I know I needed to stop and be still.  That song and the vision of the sky this evening was my smartphone's voice yelling into my ears.  It stopped me in my tracks and made me look up.  I now know where I need to go, how to get there, and keep moving forward.  Thank you, Jesus, for knowing my heart so well and grabbing my attention today.

Thursday, May 19, 2016


"Lord, draw me nearer to you than before..."

I attended a retreat for work today, and Mother Olga started us off with a song with that line in it.  That basically became the objective for me for the day.  I wanted to leave the retreat knowing I was closer to Jesus than when I entered the room this morning.

I'm still trying to process everything I heard, touched, smelled, experienced - but it's going to take some time.

All I did want to share with my world wide universe of 7 people, was that I am going to bed with an uber grateful heart.  Not only am I grateful for a fruitful retreat today, but I'm extremely grateful for the present situation I'm in.  I don't give thanks to God enough for my daily bread.  He provided a job for me that offers ways to not only evangelize but to be fed!  I spent my day not only listening to Mother Olga give inspiring talks, but I was able to break bread in so many ways with the people I serve with.  We shared stories and had personal reflections, but the greatest parts of the day for me was every time we, as an entire organization, prayed together as one family.  We had mass, adoration, recited the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, and prayed the rosary.  OVERWHELMING.

I'm so grateful.  I went home feeling closer to Jesus than before.

Thank you, Lord.  Thank you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

make room

It's been a while, fellow readers.  So happy all seven of us can get together and catch up! ;)

So I know I've been in Cincinnati for about five and a half months now, but I've only recently gathered up the courage to invest in real "adult" furniture.  No more futons that fit two small people and random craigslist finds that don't match.  I'm talking legit goods...ottomans and all!  Yeah it's real.

So when I came into work on Monday and shared this adventure with my co-workers, I had to add my true feelings that I am committed to the city.  They were like, "Wait - you mean you weren't before?"  It's not that...but there's something about investing in something like furniture that makes a statement in my life.  I've always made excuses in the past to not buy a couch or hang up pictures.  For me, everything was temporary, and I should always be ready to leave if necessary.  For whatever reason...not this time.  I'm not saying I'm going to live in this place for 100 years.  It just means that I've finally accepted the fact that my mail no longer goes to my Los Angeles address.  *Insert big sigh*

I walked into the furniture shop and when the salesman asked if I needed help, I said, "YES.  Please help me pull the trigger because this needs to happen today."  I procrastinated so much.  First it was, "Oh I just moved, no rush to fill up my space."  Then it turned to, "I'll buy furniture after Christmas.  Hello, I need to save money."  (Well that was true).  Then after the new year, I said, "Hmmm but President's day is coming and they might have a sale!"

Well at my rate, I'd be waiting for a Memorial Day sale, a Labor Day sale, an end of year sale...and the next thing you know it's 2020!

All that said, it was time I made room for this furniture.  I cleared out my space, cleaned it up, and am preparing it for the delivery.  I won't lie.  I'm excited to have made this bold move in my life and am ready to enjoy the place I call home.  It's also pretty symbolic because I know there are things in my heart I need to empty out and clean, in order to be prepared for whatever God has in store to fill it with.  First, it was the joy of my job.  I miss my old team sO much (wuddup, OMDe) but I knew it was time to move on and be present with my current DC fam.  I couldn't focus on the task at hand, when my heart was just aching for familiarity of work I knew.  Comfort zone is a crazy thing.  It's a real thing.  Now, I empty my living room to make space for something awesome, and soon it will be comfortable.

There are plenty of other things I need to clean out and make room for in my heart and soul, but one thing at a time.  By God's grace, I know I can muster up the courage to do it.  For now, I continue to pray for that grace and be open to that courage.

Woah that got too deep too quick.

Well I'm looking forward to sharing my space with you.  As it is prepared, my home is open to break bread and share stories with people I love.  I'm really looking forward to opening that part of my life to those around me again.

For now...keep your space clean, party people.  Praying our hearts will be emptied in order to make room for the awesomeness that is Jesus and all the other beautiful things that come with it.

Praying for you!

Thursday, December 31, 2015

A journey to hope

"The journey for me has just begun.  Fitting as Advent rings in the new year, my "new beginnings" have already begun.  I have been praying for a theme for 2015, but I think this really will follow me into next year.  I don't know what's to come, but I will remember the words I shared with Jesus on the stroke of midnight as my birthday came...'Lord, You have prepared me for this year.'" - First published 12/31/14 on decision to make "Enjoy the Journey" my theme for the year

As the story goes, I just turned 33 and was ready to face my "Jesus year".  I was feeling good coming out of Advent.  I was ready to take on the new year.  I just wasn't sure what theme I'd go with, but carrying out the Advent theme just seemed appropriate.  

And it was.

I never really thought I would encounter a loss that led to my own self reflection.  Last Christmas, a woman I worked with passed away over the break.  We held a memorial for her in January, and it was that event that made me reflect on my own life - What will I be remembered for?  Suddenly, I felt as if I hadn't been doing enough in life.  I wanted to do more.  I wanted to serve Jesus in a different way, but I wasn't sure if going full time missionary was necessarily my calling.  I remember driving home one night asking God, "So, what's next?"  A few months later, I never thought I would attend an event that would re-trigger this question.  I attended a talk called "Passion & Purpose".  Even thought it was my second time, I had a feeling this round would be different from the first.  Someone shared towards the end about how he moved his family from NY down to Cincinnati to do this job he felt God calling him to do.  I remember looking at the friends I attended the event with and saying, "Wow that's dedication.  I don't know if I could do that."  But somewhere deep in my heart I already "feared" that maybe I was called to do something similar.  I never thought that I would take on a new job that would lead me to where that person was working at!  Plus I never thought I'd make it back to the midwest...that WASN'T Chicago.  Talk about a JOURNEY to be enjoyed!

I've truly "enjoyed the journey" as much as I could.  There was a lot of uncertainty this year, but I made it a point to take it all in and be present.  I tried my best to really revel in each step and feel all the feels.  I gave up reign on my life and trusted God would guide me on the right path.  I know it's easier said than done, but this year was different.  I'm so grateful for every move I had to take, every extra step to the right direction.  And now on to the next.  It's been a good year and I learned a whole ton at 33.

This Advent, my theme was around knowing that "Hope does not disappoint" as my 2016 theme is "A promise fulfilled."  I don't know what that said "promise" is, but I know that God will let me know when it happens.  I will truly find my hope in the Lord and have faith that He will not disappoint.  I will continue to be present in each moment with each person I encounter.  I will try my best to continue enjoying this journey the Lord has brought me on.  I know there's a lot of work that needs to be done, but I must have that hope in the Lord and know I won't be disappointed.

I'm looking forward to a new year.  I'm so blessed for the past one I've just experienced.  I know I've heard many times, "I just want this year to be over," but be grateful no matter what happened.  Every year has it's hardships and we have to be thankful for what we've been given in order to really make the most on what's to come.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, friends.  My love and prayers are with you xo

Sunday, September 13, 2015

the dream

I met with multiple people at the new j.o.b. over the course of the week and one gal said, "I mean this is my dream job."  She said that, and it reminded me that someone asked me that too when I told them where I was going.  "Oh my gosh, that's the dream right?!  It's totally what you've been wanting to do."

Quick answer: Yes.

That is true, but why the apprehensive attitude?  Is it because I dreamed that the next big thing in my life would be something a bit greater than a new job?  But I understand that this isn't just a job.  It's a calling, it's a mission.  Is it because I realized how much I didn't want to leave Los Angeles?  But this mission calls for sacrifice, and that means letting go all I have for the greater good.

I feel all the feels.  I know logic vs heart vs faith etc etc etc.  At the end of it all, God wins and takes reign of my wants and needs.  I pray to slowly (because I'm human, I can't do it overnight) release all my desires to Him, so He can fill me up with the right things in life I'm to long for.

My heart desires to fulfill another mission.  My heart desires to be surrounded by the people I've left behind.  My heart desires to love beyond capacity, and surrender to God and live out the plan He has for me.  I guess at this time, I can't have everything that I want and I need to be okay with that.

Lord, if this is what you've handpicked me to do, then amen.  As I prayed today at mass, I know you'll take care of everything else I worry about.  Just continue to live out the YES I've already started.

So what is the dream?  The dream is to be in heaven and to bring everyone I know and love with me.  This job helps make that dream come true.  "Go live your dream" is written on the boat, and I pray I can accept that and live it out.

Monday, September 7, 2015

the road home

"Home is where the heart is." - as the saying goes.  My girlfriends asked me today, "Where will you say you're from when people ask?"

Funny question because for years I would always answer that with "I live in LA, but I'm from Chicago".  Now, do I say "I'm from LA but originally Chicago" or "I live in Cincinnati but I'm from LA"?  Do people care where I'm from "originally"?  Well let's see when the time comes.  All I know is that when I went out on Friday night, I told my brother to tell his friends that I came in from LA.  I wasn't ready to explain the whole Ohio bit yet (sorry, Cincy friends).  I hope you understand that this will take some time.

I was born and raised in Naperville (Chicago suburb) but I say I grew up in Los Angeles.  This is the city that molded me and helped me "mature".  Now to some people, that doesn't necessarily mean it's a good thing, especially if you think I've gotten too "kale life" or "Miss Hollywood".  However you analyze it doesn't really matter to me.  All I know is that I really learned about myself and grew SoCal.

So today, I wrapped up my Labor Day weekend in Chicago.  I normally pack up and get dropped off at Midway for my flight back to LA, but this time I packed my trunk and drove off to Ohio.  It was a strange feeling knowing that I wasn't going back to California.  It really hasn't hit me yet that I won't be seeing some of my friends for a while.  The past few weeks have just felt like I was on vacation and not really in a transition into a new life.

I don't have a lesson to be learned (yet) with all of this.  I'm just taking it in and going about my day one step at a time.  I also just wanted to share my feelings because I know people keep asking how I'm adjusting.  The quick answer is that I don't feel like I've moved yet, so there really hasn't been much to adjust to.

It takes a lot for me to call a place "home".  Maybe I'll accept Cincinnati as that sooner than I did LA.  It wasn't until recently that I admitted LA was home.  My pride still referred to Chicago/Naperville as my home, but I recently realized my heart has moved to another city.  Not completely, but it split apart and now lies in Los Angeles as well.  I'm sure my heart will love Ohio eventually, but for now it's still on vacation mode.