Wednesday, December 31, 2014

the journey

For any of you that may have missed it in previous posts, I decided my theme this Advent would be to "Enjoy the Journey".  The past few weeks, God has taught me to be more patient, to truly be more faithful, and to love more.  Fitting as my overall theme for 2014 was "Love More" (and yes, this was before the CFC theme was released...yay same Spirit!)  But I digress.  Each week I had a subtheme that would help me grow and guided this journey.  I learned to "empty myself", "receive joy", and "listen in silence."  Funny enough, I don't have a blog about my silence, but it truly was a fruitful time.

Lord, You have prepared me for this year.  33 is not one that I fear but a year I'm excited to embrace.  As 2014 comes to a close, rather than recollecting the past 365 days, I want to reflect on my Advent journey.  It's the nth day of Christmas, and the Spirit is still singing and dwelling in me.  Tis the season to celebrate Jesus and His birth!  Looking back on the past month, I can see how God transformed me when I let Him.  He stretched my heart and taught me more about faith, hope, and love.  He covered me in an ocean of His mercy.  In the few weeks alone, Jesus has reminded me the importance of every moment in history.  From His mother's first "yes" to finally finding a home in a manger, I can see the journey of your coming was difficult but worth it.

I just need to enter Christmastime with an eye of innocence.  Doesn't mean to be a child and ask for everything on the shelf.  Nope, it means to embrace truth with the eyes of faith that can be found in children.  That dependency on our parents to nurture and care for us is similar to how Jesus depended on His parents for food and shelter.  Part of the journey is complete trust in the one who can see further than you.

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."

I have faith, hope, and trust in His love and mercy that He will guide me for what's to come.

Monday, December 15, 2014

music and joy

My subtheme for Advent this week is "Receive JOY".  Last week I had to learn to empty myself in order to receive Jesus...and now this week I need to learn to take Him in and let Him live in my heart.   He's always trying to give me gifts of Joy but I keep ignoring the packages because I'm caught up in my own web of "drama".  I can't "enjoy the journey" of Advent moping around.  It just doesn't work that way.  I need to find joy in the life God has given me, and the situations He puts me through.  This morning in adoration, I practically begged to be filled with that Joy.  "Lord, help me feel that happiness you want me to feel.  Let me not care or worry about the things out of my control.  Let me feel joy so I may rejoice in You this advent season."

God does not delay.

Hours later, He not only planted that joy in my heart but it was OVERFLOWING.  I went to Blessed Sacrament Church in Hollywood today for an Audrey Assad concert.  She was aMAzing.  It was a true night of worship, and every song she sang brought tears in my eyes.  I was just happy to experience music so beautiful in the true presence of God, with the Blessed Sacrament behind her.  I felt sincere joy.  But the cherry on top was seeing my Caritas family.  I went on retreat with this amazing group over a year ago, and seeing some of them for the first time since then just brought back all these memories.  The most important memory I found and felt was the peace I left the retreat with.  There was something so life-changing about that weekend, that I can't even explain it...yet I felt that Spirit of peace and change fill my heart again. Seeing them was just wonderful, even if I was not able to catch up with all of them .  Again, my heart was not only full but bursting out uncontrollably with joy.

Thank you, Lord, for filling me with JOY so I may continue to rejoice with the rest of the Church.  Even if you didn't give me the concert and my Caritas reunion, I know I'd still be happy....but not like this.  You know the way to my heart through music.  You really know how to fill my heart, and I can only remember to do the same for you always.  In a world where we get caught up in our own problems, are we wise in remembering God for all He's done for us?  Do we bring God joy by the way we live our lives?


For a taste of Audrey Assad, check out this song "Good to Me".  It was one of my favorites from tonight's set.  Enjoy!

Monday, December 8, 2014

make room

Saturday night, as I reflected before bed, I knew that I had to make this Advent fruitful.  Lord, how can I make it different this year?  Last week, I heard Your message..."Enjoy the journey."  Every day I had to tell myself to be present in the moment and take in every minute that the Lord has blessed me with.  See Him in everything and feel His presence and hand in it all.

This second week of Advent, He reminded me to "Be Empty."  How can I prepare my heart in welcoming Baby Jesus if it's filled with worry and other crazy thoughts?  I need to make room for Him!!!  I can't have Mary and Joseph walking around from heart to heart this season where I, myself, will reply with "There's no room at the inn."  Noooo I need to make room.  But then I prayed about the "how" of it all.  HOW do I make room for Jesus?  I was affirmed at mass today when the gospel was about St. John the Baptist reminding us to prepare the way of the Lord.  Make the rough places plain and the crooked road straight.  I am practicing the art of "letting go."  I have to remind myself about what's important and to focus on just making sure I allow God to be the first and foremost in my life.  I have to acknowledge how much He blesses and loves me.

Today I made room in my heart so I could find JOY in Jesus.  I really tried my best to not let the worries of life get to me and to enjoy the moments around me in the present.  I wanted to make sure I was aware of the things He was giving me and filling my heart with (since I was trying to make more room for Him).  Not only did He bless me with something I wanted, but He reminded me that He's a god of MORE and showered me with just that.

I know this is silly, but today I wanted to meet Baymax (from the movie Big Hero Six) when I went to Disneyland.  He was basically the only character on my bucketlist for the day that I really wanted to meet.  After running through the park and getting in line only minutes before they closed it off, I recognized that I got my chance!!  I just kept praying that Baymax wouldn't "run out of battery" ;)

My experience meeting him was soooo amazing, my friend had to ask me, "You know he's not real right?"  And I just smiled at him and replied...."No, he's real!"

Sometimes it's okay to have this crazy innocence of a kid where you believe all the magic and wonder that you want.  I let my imagination run wild.  I wanted to tell him "Hey, I met you and wanted to hug you but you couldn't hug me may I please have my hug now???"  But I didn't considering I hugged a standee in the lobby at work.  Crazy me, I know!  But I was squealing, jumping, and super giddy as we kept moving closer to him in the line.  Finally I had my chance to fist bump and HUG him (and he hugged me back!)  It was amAzing.

You have no idea how excited I was.  No idea.

But guess what...?  The cherry on top was that I didn't just meet Baymax and Hiro....I got to meet two other characters that I absolutely LOVE: Mickey Mouse AND Santa Claus!!!!

Yes, the child in me erupted and I was overflowing with happiness today.  I gave Jesus room in my heart and He filled it with so much joy.  No room for worry or sadness...He was moving that old furniture out and replacing it with his shiny, brand new ones!

Enjoy the journey and continue to empty yourself to make room for Jesus.  He's ready to fill you with things that will make your heart happy.  Even if it's on a smaller scale such as a delicious dessert or rockstar parking, you won't recognize any of it if your heart is filled with junk.  Dump it, clean it, and be open to receiving the many moments of happiness He wants to give to you (and that you truly deserve!)

Thank you, Jesus.  I'm sleeping with sweet dreams tonight!

Monday, December 1, 2014

slow cook

Happy New Year!  Happy first day of the Advent season.  Ohhhh, Advent...a time of waiting.  A time of anticipation.  I love Christmastime.  I love the buildup not only for the holiday but most especially for the birth of Christ.  There is always something exciting about preparing for His coming.  Just as parents prepare their homes for the coming of their newborn, we should prepare our hearts for Baby Jesus!

This past weekend, my slow cooker has seen more action than it has in a long time.  I made a few Thanksgiving meals in it, and the longer it took the tastier it turned out.  I made bbq pulled pork one night and everyone enjoyed it (phew!).  The next night, I decided to make more and bring it to my other party.  I figured that I already knew what to do (plus I had extra ingredients that I didn't want to waste), so it'd be easiest.  I also decided to revise my schedule a bit.  I knew that marinating the pork longer would make it not only more tender, but tastier.  Yes, the slower the process, the better it turns out.  So 7 hours we wait for the creation to be finished, and *boom* the second group of guinea pigs enjoyed it just as much (if not more) than the first.  Woot woot, success!

God marinates us with grace, wisdom, and knowledge so many times in our lives and we just have to let it sit in our hearts sometimes before we see anything come of it.  Not all of God's work happens slowly, but when it does - there's a reason.  He always has the most perfect time, and after working with us for many years, He knows the science behind how long some prayers need.  Sometimes it's a quick turnaround, many times we sit and wait.  This is the part I hate most because just like times I have food in a slow cooker - I get hungry and want to eat it right away.  However, I know I have to wait it out so it tastes yummy.  I want to move on something God has answered in my life, but I know I have to wait it out so everything falls into place perfectly.

Advent is a time of waiting, a time of preparing.  In the meantime, let us sit and soak in God's love.  Just as I poked holes in the pork so it could better soak in the juices, I pray I am open not only in my mind but in my heart in order to take in all the Jesus juice as well.  Have faith that it's all to make the end result something so delicious and satisfying.