Saturday, April 30, 2011

royal wedding.

the rule of life.

happiness comes in a circular motion.

give until it hurts, then give a little more.

Part of a talk I had to give when I led a retreat:

In August that summer, going into junior year, I went on a pilgrimage to Lourdes, France. A priest, Father Wayne, brought forty high school kids to Lourdes to help the sick people, or malades (‘sick people’ in French), there for a week. For those of you who don’t know, Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette in Lourdes. Now, there is holy water there that runs 24/7 and many people go there to not only see where Mary appeared, but to be dipped in the holy water. Our job for the week was to bring the malades wherever they needed to go as they were in chariots, these chairs that looked like a wagon and a wheelchair mixed.

We had a chance to be dipped in the baths during our free time. You have to sit in a very long line and you say the rosary the entire time with everyone else there. That atmosphere right away provokes thoughts and emotions of how special Lourdes is. The water is freezing when you are finally immersed in it, but totally worth it. It feels completely refreshing and as if every impurity of yours is washed away. We also got to visit the grotto in the middle of the night. The grotto looks like a mini cave and it is where Mary appeared to Bernadette. It is also where the first spring of holy water came up, when Bernadette dug after Mary told her to. What is so special about going at night is that there isn’t the usual crowd filling up the walkway. Also, the candles illuminating so brightly in the dark make it seem even more magical than it is.

We all couldn’t go the same day, so usually only a group of about five people went each night. I chose to go the night after we went through a walking Stations of the Cross. Father Wayne asked us questions along the way that really made everyone think about his or her lives and the obstacles everyone faces. Because of this, it ended up being very emotional. It allowed me to fully break down about everything that had happened with my dad and the obstacles that came because of it. Everyone showed me so much support during the Stations, especially a couple people who walked with me the entire time.

I was still emotional when my two friends, Lizzie and Kathryn, and I got to the grotto. We walked through the grotto, touching the rocks that Bernadette must have touched, and standing where Bernadette must have stood. After lighting a candle and praying, we went to sit at a bench not too far from the grotto. We spent the next hour and a half just unloading everything about our lives to each other, crying and being there for each other the entire time. It was raining at this point, but we didn’t care. It felt so good to talk about everything that had happened in my family, and to have two amazing people there for me and listening to me.

The malades also taught me so much while I was there. Their intense faith and hope touched me to my core. When we would bring them through the grotto, they would be crying as they took it all in and touched the holy water running down the stones. Although they may not have been physically healed while in Lourdes, they were healed spiritually and emotionally. They never lost their optimism and cheerfulness towards us and towards life in general. Even though none of us could speak French, we all got very close with our malades through smiles, hugs, and compassion. Even though they are not your stereotypical leaders, these malades showed me Christian leadership. They taught me that we cannot control everything in our lives. However, we can control how we react to obstacles and hardships. These malades showed me the perseverance, hope, and optimism they have that get them through the hard times they go through.

This trip really opened my eyes to my faith. It helped me form a strong relationship with Mary and with God. Before, I was had always gone to mass every Sunday and thought of myself as fairly religious, but I never had a personal relationship with God. Lourdes allowed me to reflect on all my obstacles, and adopt a new sense of strength and reliance that God has a plan for us and would never make us go through something we can’t handle. I came home feeling fully rejuvenated and ready to face whatever was to come my way.

That next April, my parents actually also got the chance to go to Lourdes. Instead of helping others like I did, my dad was a “malade” through the Order of Malta. He got to experience all the aspects of Lourdes through another perspective, a VIP one, as all malades in Lourdes are treated as VIPs. Like the other malades that I met, my dad was spiritually healed. Although he cannot remember it today without being reminded, his faith and his hope for a long, healthy life was deepened. My mom, his caregiver, was also emotionally healed. She got to refresh her faith and get that extra boost of strength and hope that she needed.

The next summer, going into senior year, I was asked to be a leader on the Lourdes pilgrimage. As a leader on Lourdes, we were in charge of a small group who met every night to discuss their ups and downs, what struck them about the day, etc. We all had to guide the new pilgrims into serving the malades and putting their whole heart into the service. We also led them into fully appreciating Lourdes and learning just how special one’s faith can be.
Being in Lourdes again brought back all the intense emotions that it provoked last summer. I found a complete sense of peace and acceptance, and realized that my life wasn’t as bad as I thought. Although my family has gone through some struggles, I have a lot of people who love and care about me and that’s more than others could say. I found a deep appreciation for my family and for those who are always there for me and care about me.

live the life you deserve.

Last week, my friend (first picture) decided to put post it notes with inspirational quotes all around her mirror so that she'd wake up and go to sleep seeing them and they'd help her start and end her day positively and happily.  I decided to do the same (second pic) and I'm so happy I did.  It's a simple way to stay inspired and remember the important things in life.  I challenge you all to think of ways to stay inspired and positive during the hard or stressful times in your life.  Life's too short to focus on the negative aspects of life, and sometimes we all just need little pick-me-ups to remember that.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

and i'll find strength in pain.

It's empty in the valley of your heart
The sun, it rises slowly as you walk
Away from all the fears
And all the faults you've left behind

The harvest left no food for you to eat
You cannibal, you meat-eater, you see
But I have seen the same
I know the shame in your defeat

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

Cause I have other things to fill my time
You take what is yours and I'll take mine
Now let me at the truth
Which will refresh my broken mind

So tie me to a post and block my ears
I can see widows and orphans through my tears
I know my call despite my faults
And despite my growing fears

But I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

So come out of your cave walking on your hands
And see the world hanging upside down
You can understand dependence
When you know the maker's hand

So make your siren's call
And sing all you want
I will not hear what you have to say

Cause I need freedom now
And I need to know how
To live my life as it's meant to be

And I will hold on hope
And I won't let you choke
On the noose around your neck

And I'll find strength in pain
And I will change my ways
I'll know my name as it's called again

Saturday, April 23, 2011

get back up again.

you've got no time to lose- you are young and you must be livin'.

secret regrets.

secret regret of the day.
I regret having such 'phony' friends in high school. I regret that the teachers didn't see these popular phonies for what they were. The head cheerleader was a slut and Miss Senior Class was pregnant before the school year ended. I regret that this STILL bothers me at my age.


This just emphasizes to me how important it is to have good, solid friends.  I'm so lucky to have the best friends ever who are always there for me and who I know I can always count on.

Friday, April 22, 2011

so make the best of this test and don't ask why.

As Senior Year is winding down to a close, I've been thinking about how much I've changed throughout the years.  I'm happy to realize that I've matured and learned so much through all the experiences of high school, good and bad.  I've learned the importance of having friends you can trust and rely on no matter what.  Quantity shouldn't be considered- the quality of them is the only thing that matters. I've learned not to be caught up in what I'm doing and if it's "cool" enough or if I'm going to seem like a loser not being somewhere else. I now enjoy whatever I'm doing, even if it's just sitting at home with a couple friends watching a movie. We aren't going to look back at high school and remember specific nights when we were caught up in what we were doing trying to be cool or fit in; we're going to remember the times where we felt most comfortable with our friends and are having a great time just being ourselves. That being said, through various retreats and other school functions I've participated in, I've realized how many people I've missed out on getting to know. My goal for the rest of the year is to be fully open to new people, even though mostly everyone has their set groups of friends. I don't want to graduate high school regretting just hanging out with the same small group of people each weekend and not getting to know equally as amazing people. I want to graduate feeling like I could be myself with everyone and that I've opened myself up to as many people as possible. I challenge everyone else to do the same, even if they aren't graduating any time soon. It's important to keep your trustworthy and loyal relationships strong, but why can't you have some weekends where you hang out with totally different people? Who knows, one could end up being your best friend that you've missed out knowing before. Also, you learn more than you'd think about yourself getting out of your comfort zone and exploring what and who's out there in the world. So get out there- explore.

he loves you.

i am thankful for..

I am thankful for...
by Nancie J. Carmody

...the mess to clean up after a party
because it means I have been surrounded by friends.

...the taxes I pay
because it means that I'm employed.

...the clothes that fit a little too snug
because it means I have enough to eat. shadow who watches me work
because it means I am out in the sunshine.

...the spot I find at the far end of the parking lot
because it means I am capable of walking.

...all the complaining I hear about our government
because it means we have freedom of speech.

...that lady behind me in church who sings off key
because it means that I can hear.

...lawn that needs mowing, windows that need cleaning and gutters that need fixing
because it means I have a home. huge heating bill
because it means that I am warm.

...weariness and aching muscles at the end of the day
because it means that I have been productive.

...the alarm that goes off in the early morning hours
because it means that I am alive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

"forgiveness is the attribute of the strong."

Part of being free means learning how to forgive. Forgive yourself first and then extend that forgiveness to those who have harmed you.

You see, one of the biggest misconceptions about forgiveness is that by forgiving someone we somehow make right what they did. We believe that if we forgive, then we condone their actions.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

You see, your dreams and The Uni-verse are present time things. They know nothing of the past and are unconcerned with the future. Dreams manifest in the now. The energy of The Uni-verse only exists now. There is no other time that it can exist.

So, forgiveness breaks our chains with the past. It helps us to learn from the past and no longer let any traumatic experiences dictate our present moment. That way, we are free to manifest here and now, no longer ruled by the events of the past.

Forgiveness is actually a very selfish thing. Forgiving someone doesn't mean you condone the wrongs; forgiving someone means you are no longer willing to let pain from the past hold YOU down from living your dreams.

Dreams and your Highest Potential take major energy to create. If you're too busy using your energy and attention to keep the past alive, there is no way you will muster enough energy to bring them into reality.

So, today, not for them, but for YOU, forgive them. Forgive them with all your heart. Create enough space and acceptance in your heart so that no event of the past can harm you any longer. Let go of the pain and step into this present moment renewed and re- energized.

Forgiveness is the business of love. Your energy and attention has to be in there, here and now, for you to be able to take action in the now for your dreams and Highest Potential to materialize.

Forgive them, not for their sake, but because your dreams are counting on you to.
the daily love. 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

the point is to live everything.

Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.
The point is to live everything.
Live the questions now.
Perhaps then, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live the way into the answer.
- Rainer Maria Rilke

when bad things happen to good people.

While I was on the retreat, one of the books that I read was When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner. 

To me, When Bad Things Happen to Good People is simply saying that God cannot control what happens to us, but if we let Him, He can control how we deal with it.  Everything doesn't happen or a reason, but we can find meaning personally in everything so we can create opportunites to grow through it. By giving suffering meaning and reason, we are able to serve God and teach others to be better people. 
- entry from my journal

Impactful quotes from the book:

Ask yourself "if this happened to me, what do I do now, and who is there to help me do it?"
We pray to you, O God, for strength, determination, and willpower, to do instead of just to pray, to become instead of merely to wish.
God does not send us the problem; He gives us the strength to cope with it.
Love is not the admiration of perfection, but the acceptance of an imperfect person with all his imperfections, because loving and accepting makes us better and stronger.

"i'd rather live my life believing god exists and die finding out he doesn't than live as if he doesn't and find out he does."

Last week, I went on a three day silent retreat.  It was an awesome opportunity to just sit back and relax for three days as we basically had all day to do what we wanted. I spent the three days reading three spiritual books, journaling, meditating, and napping. I learned a lot about myself and about how I want my relationship with God and with others to be. Here's an excerpt from a journal entry I wrote that describes what I've learned and how I think everyone should live:

I learned to let go and reflect on my relationships with others and to thank God for giving me such an amazing family.  I was reminded that although my family has gone through some difficult times, we all still have a lot of love for one another which is very special.  I also challenged my faith and what it really means to fully love and be devoted to God.  I remembered the phrase "God is love" and realized that we show our love for God through our love for others and for ourselves.  In the book, "Crazy Love", it says that "God meausres our life by how we love".  We are called to think of everyone we meet as being in the likeness of God and to treat them how we'd treat God.  I am going to try to live this out by being patient with my family, kind and understanding to my friends, and open and loving to new people.  I am going to strive to maintain my healthy relationships and strengthen the ones that may be weakening.  I want to die being remembered for my love for others and hopefully making their lives better.

risk taking is free.

To laugh is to risk appearing the fool
To weep is to appear sentimental
To reach out for another is to risk involvement
To expose feelings is to risk exposing yourself
To place your ideas, your dreams before the crowd
is to risk their loss

To love is to risk not being loved in return
To hope is to risk despair
To try is to risk failure.
But the greater hazard in life is to risk nothing,
They may avoid suffering and sorrow,
but they simply cannot
learn, feel, change, grow or love
chained by certitudes, they are slaves
who have forfeited freedom.

Only a person who risks is Free.

- christina henry