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Day 35: What If There Was More To Life?

March 21, 2018

“So if the Son frees you, you will truly be free.” (John 8:36)

This hit me like a ton of bricks.

If Jesus sets me free from any burden that I have, then I am actually free.

There are so many things right now that have me in chains tighter than I can imagine. School. The thought of perfection. Work. The thought of success. Just to name a few.

But what if there was more to life than just perfection and success?

What if there was freedom and joy and happiness? Do those things exist? Are they real?

What changes to I have to make to get there? How do I possibly find the room in my life to find joy and happiness?

I clearly have a lot to pray about and think about.

Overarching the thing that I have come to learn is that my life is good. I have so much when so many people have to go without.

Now is the time for me to listen to what He is telling me and unabashedly respond: here I am Lord, I come to do your will.

Will I be able to do it? This is the most important question. I will be reflecting on this for the next few days as we approach holy week, then will be coming back to the foot of the cross to ask for clarity on the way that I should be spending my life.

What is your advice for living your best life? I would love to hear it.

 

Lifestyle

Day 34: The Bronze Serpent

March 20, 2018

“Why have you brought us up from Egypt to die in this desert, where there is no food or water?” (Numbers 21: 5)

 

Yeah. this is where I am day in and day out. Sometimes I have glimpses of clarity where I am good with what God is putting me through at this current juncture, but for the most part I am like…. PLEASSSSEEEEEE MAKEEEE IT STOOOOOOOOP.

Am I the only one that feels that way? I can’t be.

Most days I look up at the sky and say I cannot handle this. Why do you think I can handle this? And most days he responds: You can’t handle this. Why do you think you can handle this? Stop trying to take care of everything. Let me take care of it for you.

And yet even though He says this to me, I continue to wander around like a chicken with my head cut off in the hopes that I will be able to figure it out.

You know what happens in the rest of this story? God sends these doubting people a bunch of snakes and they suffer snakebites and some of them die (here Shannon pauses and is like… what.the.heck. but okay hold on there’s more). They then pray to God to save them and he totally does by letting Moses create a staff with a serpent on it that they can look at and be healed.

Now look, I am not looking for some magical object to look at and be healed of my exhaustion, frustration and at times bitterness. But I AM looking to be more like the Israelites in their prayers, asking God to go ahead and help me out here.

I need  more of that in my life. Embracing my suffering and asking God to help me when it is in line with His time and when it fits with His plan rather than what fits with MY plan.

 

Lifestyle

Day 33: Following His Plan

March 19, 2018

“She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1: 21)

Throwback to lent when we were questioning how these people could possibly be okay with all this angel of the lord shenanigans.

But really. Lent is a time for us to grow, change and challenge ourselves to be better people. At least that is what lent has always been for me.

Over the past 33 days, I have really had to stop and evaluate a lot of my life decisions. Why am I doing what I am doing? Does it make sense to keep doing what I am doing? Is there where I am supposed to be at this current moment?

These questions keep popping up and my overarching question back to God is: Why are you asking me these things?! I do not have time for you to be tearing down all of the foundational walls that I have built. Please stop. Go away. Don’t ask me these questions.

And yet they keep appearing. I imagine that Joseph was probably like: okay, okay I get it. You want me to go ahead and follow your plan. You can stop butting into my life now.

Okay maybe not. He was super holy. But I am 1000% feeling that way right now.

Like… okay I get it. You want me to be able to follow your will. But like… my plans seemed pretty good too! Okay, okay… I will do what you want. What now you want me to do it joyfully? can you give a girl a break?

And as the days turned into weeks, all of a sudden, His plan didn’t seem as scary as it had all those weeks ago. Suddenly there was peace in the turmoil. There was a way to keep my head above water. There was an anchor keeping me from floating away in the choppy seas.

So where does that leave me?

The end of lent is fast approaching. It has been hard as it always is, but has caused me to make life decisions in ways I have never had to make them before. This has probably been the most powerful lent I have ever experienced. It has lead me to a new found community, breathing life into my weary and tired bones. It has lead me to a peace deeper than anything I have ever known. It has lead me to understand that plans change, and that being willing to move away from a set plan is the best way to live a life to the fullest.

As we draw nearer to Holy Week, I am stopped dead in my tracks at the amount of change God has been able to affect in my life in such a short period of time. 40 days seems like nothing compared to the great big adventure of life.  I am so thankful for the ways he has changed my heart, and reminded me that, while He is the most radical answer, He is also the only one that will bring peace to my weary soul.

Holy Week 2018… I am looking forward to you.

Lifestyle

Day 32: A Clean Heart

March 18, 2018

“Create a clean heart in me, O God.” (Psalm 51)

Once again I spent a lot of time with this psalm this past week. When you have to write a catchy but simple melody, you find yourself singing this line over and over again.

The beauty of playing for a mass? You get to pray with the readings and the songs you are choosing the whole week before hand. In what other capacity do you get to pray with the mass readings and sing songs that relate to them? I am honestly super lucky.

As we are drawing closer to the end of lent, I am constantly reminded of my need for God.

A few weeks ago, I told God I would say YES to whatever he was asking of me. And here I am a few weeks later, having rescinded my yes feeling miserable. I do not think it is any coincidence that I feel this way.

Even though more often than not I feel alone out in the desert, I still need a God that runs to me and welcomes me back with open arms. I need a God that is merciful and loving, even when I feel that he is stretching me to my breaking point. I need a God who looks me in the eye and asks why I am continuing to do what I do, and if I could be happier if I was listening to what He wanted me to do.

As I was writing a melody for this psalm, I kept begging over and over- Lord, create a clean heart in me. Eliminate my pride. Eliminate my vanity. Make me more like you. Help me to be better.

Those prayers haven’t quite come true yet, but I know that if I keep asking, He will help me to have a clean heart, yearning only for Him.

And tips on how to get there faster? I could surely use some =p.

 

 

Basilica of The Immaculate Conception: Waterbury, CT

Lifestyle

Day 31: He Meets Us In Our Mess

March 17, 2018

“Never before has anyone spoken like this man.” (John 7:46)

For some reason this is the line that really spoke to me. Everyone is so concerned about where Jesus comes from (Galilee- shudder! how gauche) , but when asked when they would be turning Him in, they say claim that they have never heard anyone speak like Him.

Everyone thinks He is crazy, but these people see something in the way that Jesus speaks and it moves them to their core. They know that He is speaking a truth to their hearts that will change their life.

He speaks of clothing the naked, feeding the hungry and visiting the imprisoned. He speaks of a son who turns away from his father, but upon asking forgiveness is given the best the father has to offer. He speaks of a widow that gives just a few coins that are worth more than the world to her, and the beauty of her sacrifice. He speaks of a woman, caught up in sin, but forgives her of it all if, telling those who condemn her to leave unless they are sinless.

This lent has showed us a God who loves and heals beyond anything we can possibly understand. He loves those on the outskirts, those with no one to love them, and those so entrenched in sin that they never think they could encounter God. And yet He met them there.

This God comes to meet us also. In our times of trial, in our times of joy. He is there for the good, the bad and everything in between. He loves us with a ferocity that can not be measured, and He works for our good at all times.

I know these things to be true.

Will you give him the chance to love you in this way? Will you allow him to meet you in your mess and help you to grow into the person you are supposed to be? It is worth every second. I promise.

 

Lifestyle

Day 30: the Lord is Close to the Broken Hearted

March 16, 2018

“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; and those who are crushed in spirit he saves.”  (Psalm 34)

Stop and read those words again.

How many of you have a broken heart? Sometimes I stop and think about that term.

Broken Hearted.

What does that mean?

Maybe you just lost someone important to you. Either it was sudden, or you knew it was coming. But death really has a way of adding salt to the wound.

Maybe you just ended a long term relationship. You thought he was the one and when  push came to shove, you weren’t living your fullest life and you knew he wasn’t going to be the one that got you to heaven.

Maybe you just got dumped. You thought maybe he would be it. You had so much fun together and you were both trying to figure out what God was wanting from you and thought he would be the path there. But he wasn’t and it hurt. More than you will ever care to admit.

Maybe you didn’t get into grad school. Maybe it was a crazy year of fighting and clawing your way into the program and you hate yourself for “not being good enough”.

Wherever you are in your journey to God, and whatever your broken heart entails, He is there in the mess with you, wanting to give you the comfort that you need.

I’ve been in each of those places. And coming out on the other end of each of them, I can tell you that He was there in the heartbreak, and that He has answered every desperate prayer. He has been with me in the darkness and has been the light that got me through to the next moment.

He will be there for you also. I can promise you that.

Lifestyle

Day 29: The Almighty A

March 15, 2018

I read today’s first reading and was like: uh oh. There’s that golden calf. You know, I always found this to be odd. People worshipping a cow made out of gold? Really doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.

Until I put it into terms I can understand. How often do I worship at the altar of the Almighty A (and no I am not talking about pretty little liars)? Slaving away for hours neglecting my home, my prayer life and my friends to guarantee perfection? Day in and day out, slamming away at the macbook keyboard promising myself that if I can stay up for just a little bit longer, I will make time to pray and make time for friends and family. How many times have I said no to wonderful adventures God had planned for me these past 3 months because I so desperately NEED the A?

When I think about it like that, I am stopped dead in my tracks. Sure I didn’t melt down all of my precious metal but… I have sacrificed the things that bring my closer to God for what I think will make me a successful and happy individual.

But I am exhausted and quite frankly kind of miserable.

And so here I am.

I am here to say that I need to make a change. I need to start focusing on the things that are going to actually bring me to Him and not on the things that are making me successful according to the world. I need to accept that I am exactly where I need to be in this phase of my life, and that just because I am not doing what I view as big important work, doesn’t mean that my work isn’t important at all.

And in the recesses of my heart something is quietly saying: you can be happier. Your fight for joy doesn’t have to be as difficult as you are making it. Learn the balance then let me know how that fight for joy is going. One day at a time. Blink and the year will be gone. 3 months and 6 days until this class is done. Don’t let it absorb you body mind and soul. Make the time.

I am really going to try for the next three months to figure out what that balancing act looks like and how to spend my time doing more of what I was created to be doing.

Lifestyle

Day 28: You Have Arrived At Your Destination

March 14, 2018

“I will cut a road through all my mountains, and make my highways level.” (Isaiah 49:11)

You know, lately I have been wondering when God is going to swoop down and magically tell me what’s going on in my life and what the future holds. Isn’t that how this life thing works? The heavens open up and God says: TURN RIGHT. IN 400 FEET YOU WILL ARRIVE AT YOUR DESTINATION.

Okay not really. I feel like my conversations are more like that scene in Ferris Bueller where the professor asks if anyone knows about the Smoot- Hawley Tariff Act. Bueller? Bueller?

But today’s first reading tells me that God will clear a path if I can only wait upon His timing. I need not worry about all of the small details- He will take care of them for me.

I don’t really know about you, but this lent has been border line crazy for me. like… why in the world is it this difficult to stick to a yes you have given to God?

I seem to be wrestling with the idea of giving up my levels of control. I feel like if I could only do a little bit better, be a little bit more and find a little more time I would be the most productive person on the planet.

But today’s reading reminds me that I am not really called to be the one clearing the path. I can only be who I am. I can’t be anything more or anything less. And As long as I can be who God asked me to be, then He will clear the paths for me.

My brain gets it. But my heart doesn’t.

Here’s to many more days of prayer trying to understand how to give this yes!

 

 

Lifestyle

Day 27: Nothing Can Stop This Joy

March 14, 2018

“There is a stream whose runlets gladden the city of God, the holy dwelling of the Most High.” (Psalm 46)

Oh man. Have you ever heard the song In the River by Jesus Culture? If you haven’t, click here and listen to it while you read this post.

This song is my jaaaaaaammmmm. I put this on in the car and I feel like I can conquer the world.

There is a lyric in the song that says: There is a current, stirring deep inside, it’s overflowing from the heart of God, the flood of heaven is crashing over us, the tide is rising, rising.

10 days ago I hosted a youth retreat for my diocese. I was a crazy person, running around in a tulle skirt and dancing with the participants with this song.

I was doing something I had never don before, and I felt more alive than I had in a very long time.

So I have kind of adopted this song as my anthem for the every day since I always want to feel alive. I turn it up way too loud in my car, and I dance along. Oh yeah. I am that person. People totally think I am cuckoo bananas crazy as I drive to and from work or school each morning =p.

Today’s psalm reminded me of my morning pump up song.

God is a loving and merciful father. And each and every part of this lenten journey has proven that to me time and time again. From an incredibly healing confession, to all of the ways God has shown me that He has a plan and that He will take care of me, these past few weeks have been life altering in so many ways.

I have been so fortunate to have so many experiences this lent that have brought me closer to God. Convivio. Holy hour at St. Joes in Danbury. Holy hour at Sacred Heart University. Mass at The Basilica of the Immaculate Conception in Waterbury. My BIS lenten journal. The Diary of Maria Faustina. Dinner with a friend. A journalling Bible. A conversation with a good friend.

 

 

                                                                 Snowy Morning Musings

Lifestyle

Day 26: The Believe and Leave

March 13, 2018

“The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.” (John 4:50)

Wait I’m sorry… what?!

The man believed what Jesus said and left. 

Let’s go back to the rest of the story though because this gets even more wild!

The man’s son is very sick, and is probably going to die. He begs Jesus to heal his son, and Jesus says go he is healed. And this dude just believed it. 

*inserts astonished Dean Winchester GIF here.*

If I could even have a fraction of an ounce of this trust my life would be far more rich than it already is.

All of the times I have trusted in His plan and followed His direction, I have been happy, calm and at peace. All of the times I have held on with a vice grip to my plan of attack I have been miserable, tired and lonely.

I am seeing a trend here…

But why do I keep reverting to the way of choosing my way over His way? I want to have some big awesome answer for you. But the truth is? I actually don’t know beyond the fact that I am somewhat of a perfectionist, and that I like to be in control of my life.

But what freedom there is in the idea of not having to have everything right and figured out. What peace there is in being where my feet are, and living my best life that I am supposed to be living right now. What joy there is in knowing I am following the path created for me before all time.

I do not need to keep up with anyone around me. I do not need to find my value in what the world says is valuable.

All I need to do is trust that He will make it right.

And if He will make it right, then I have nothing to fear.

 

I am making these sneakers have a come back. It’s gonna happen.