Thankful for Uncertainty

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Happy Almost Thanksgiving, revolutionaries, and most importantly, happy almost birthday to me!*

Being born on November 24th has definitely had its interesting facets, not the least of which is sharing my birthday with the great holiday of Thanksgiving. This has given all of my family a cop-out for the seasonal dinner table question “What are you thankful for?” for nearly nineteen years, as well as an excuse to always have stuffing with birthday cake in the most carbohydrate-intensive meal you’ve ever seen. It also provides for me a great opportunity to reflect on what the year has taught me. This year, Sam has learned a lot.

I came into college convinced that all I needed to accomplish was to maintain where I was at mentally, physically and spiritually at the end of high school. I really believed that I had everything figured out and that I had the capacity to take on adulthood by myself. It seemed to be reassuring at the time, but looking back, I can see how much stress that put on me. For example, I had never really used a physical alarm clock before, so over the course of one semester, I was late for work five times. Though my boss was very forgiving and I usually never missed anything terribly important, I would be furious with myself for days on end for setting my alarm for 9:00 p.m. instead of 9:00 a.m. My self worth was so deeply entrenched in my decisions that every critique I recieved or mistake I made was completely devastating. I refused to share many of my burdens, or would confess huge problems to people I barely knew in search of validation that I was doing the right thing. Neither one was particularly healthy.

Luckily, Jesus took notice and knew exactly what I needed. After a very anxious first semester, the Lord continued to put me in situations where I was totally out of my comfort zone, or uncertain of what might occur. Some were good and some were very, very scary. I spent my Christmas in the I.C.U. with my grandmother barely surviving a heart attack. I went to Chicago with my college youth group barely knowing anyone, and came back with a roommate for the next year. I flew solo to visit my best friend in Kansas, and then went on a spontaneous twelve hour road-trip to the other side of the state. I had to go through blood work and doctors visits all by myself. I worked at a dentist’s office over the summer, and I’m a literature major! Through all of this, I often had no other choice but to trust in God and his plan for my life, which can be incredibly difficult for a control freak like me. But the Lord worked with me where I was at, stretching me with each bizarre experience of adulthood he put in my path.

Freshman year Sam would never have anticipated that the very next fall she would be seeing a nutritionist, meeting with a therapist, and attending a bible study, and yet, here I am. I’ve learned I don’t have all the answers, and what a grace that is to know! Thank God we are not left to govern ourselves with our unfair standards and constant failures! My pride can be difficult to swallow, definitely, but having it shoved down my throat multiple times has shown me the value of asking for help. Adulthood is scary and weird and uncomfortable, and many situations are too overwhelming for one person to handle, which is why he created us to live in communion with Him and each other. We can all find a way to get through life as a community of believers in Someone bigger than ourselves, who is Love himself. It may seem simple, but it’s taken me eighteen years to learn, and for that I am forever thankful.

*Did I do that? Yes, yes I did.

Radical Love

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Most people start their week on a Monday by going to work or school and then dreading the rest of the week. I used to have a similar mindset, but I have something so special this year. This year, my week actually starts on a Tuesday. Since I look forward to Tuesday, my sometimes rough Mondays aren’t that rough anymore. I can’t tell you why this day is so life giving to me, but sometimes God works in ways we don’t expect and we are pleasantly surprised. On Tuesday I have Bible study at 6:30 a.m. with some wonderful women before we head off to our classes for the day. It’s really early but absolutely the best way to spend that time-- who really needs sleep anyway? I always feel so enriched by this Bible study and honestly, these women and Scripture together are the highlight of my day and my week!

Last week, I got out my Bible as we read 1 Peter. We always come away with a challenge at the end of every meeting and this week we were meditating and thinking about how our daily lives would change if we lived like we’re a temple of the Holy Spirit and how differently would we treat others if we remembered that they are a temple of the Holy Spirit too. I’ll be honest, this sounded cool, but like a lot of work. I put it in the back of my mind and decided that maybe I’d think about it later. However, I didn’t know what the Lord was going to reveal to me: that He had a different plan and wanted it in the front of my mind.

As the weekend came around, some family came into town and we had one of my big family gatherings with food, family, and good times. I was sitting next to one of my family members and thinking about some of their struggles when the Holy Spirit clearly set it on my heart that Jesus is in this person. I realized that my God is worthy of all my love and that even loving Him through this person is so important to Him. I brushed that thought away a little bit, but He persisted and I realized I needed to go back to the very foundation of the human person and the make up of who I am and of who everyone is. Every child of God, with all their baggage and everything that comes with them, the Lord loves. Why shouldn’t I love them too? Thankfully with the Lord’s grace I could push away my pride and look past my family member’s faults and decide to look at them as someone God loves so infinitely that He’d die for them all over again. I looked at my relative and for the first time I saw a tiny bit of what God sees. I saw a person worth spending time with and worth sacrificing for. He gave me this gift for just a minute: to see through His eyes. He offers this to us often, and unfortunately, I think we are moving too fast or are too preoccupied to notice and accept; I know I often am. He wants us to love! He’s willing and ready to teach us.

On Sunday, as I was still dwelling on Bible study, I asked God, “How can I radically love people?” One thing I often forget is that God answers when we ask. If I need Him, nothing will hold Him back from helping me, especially if it’s a simple truth He’s revealing to me again. This time was no exception. That's exactly what He did for me, and it came through the Gospel reading from Mark

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, "Which is the first of all the commandments?" Jesus replied, "The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." (Mark 12: 28-31)

The greatest commandments are to love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself. I asked God how can I radically love others and He gave me these words! But He doesn’t stop there. He also says the first shall be last and the last shall be first. He says to love our enemies. He asks us to thank him for the challenges. He tells us to forget ourselves and empty our hearts so the King of Kings can fill and satisfy us. He wants us to begin to shine as He shines. These are not easy requests! Before Jesus, no one told people to lay themselves down for enemies! No one had or ever will have the perfect love of Jesus Christ. Yet, He calls us to it.

Christ wants you to know you are infinitely valuable to Him. Like Matthew Kelly says, “So often the world wants to belittle us and put us down. The world can be so impersonal, reducing us to numbers or defining us by our functions. But, Jesus offers a radically different view. He says, ‘You are infinitely valuable.’ In great contrast to the depersonalization of the world, Jesus affirms God’s personal interest in you, even to the numbering of the hairs on your head. Jesus wants to raise you up. And more than anything else, He affirms that your value is not derived from what you do, but from who you are- a child of God.” (From Rediscovering Jesus)

I ask you as you’re reading this blog to take this to heart. He calls you to a radical love of Him and the ones He loves. I tell you, it will change you, your life, and the world. If change seems scary, I invite you to join with me in it anyway. It’s so important and with God, all things are possible. It is a lifelong battle and journey. Yes, you will have to be fighting for love until you take your last breath. But, He makes a way, and He will teach us. I invite you to come and be a radical lover.

 Tuesday Morning Women’s Group!

Tuesday Morning Women’s Group!

I Thirst

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St. Teresa of Calcutta’s journey to become who we know today as Mother Teresa amazes me. The pivotal moment of her spiritual life didn’t occur until she was pretty established in her vocation. Mother Teresa was 18 years old when she joined the Dominicans and began living her vocation with them in Ireland. She was later transferred to teach in a school in India. She was 40 years old when, on an ordinary train trip, Jesus asked her to leave what she knew as her vocation and serve the poorest of the poor. A full fifty years later, only about 4 years before Mother Teresa passed away, she began to share with her communities and the world about Jesus’ words to her on that train ride—what “I thirst” meant. She felt Jesus was finally asking her to share with the world a moment that, for her, was the most intimate moment she had encountered with Jesus. God was asking her to share this moment because He wants us all to understand and experience how He longs and thirsts for each of us.

In a letter first shared with her Missionaries of Charities communities around the world, Mother Teresa wrote,

“Not only He loves you, even more—He longs for you. He misses you when you don’t come close. He thirsts for you. He loves you always, even when you don’t feel worthy. Even if you are not accepted by others, even by yourself sometimes—He is the one who always accepts you . . .

My children, you don’t have to be different for Jesus to love you. Only believe—You are precious to Him. Bring all you are suffering to His feet—only open your heart to be loved by Him as you are. He will do the rest . . .

Jesus Himself must be the one to say to you ‘I thirst’. Hear your own name. Not just once. Every day. If you listen with your heart, you will hear, you will understand.

Why does Jesus say ‘I Thirst’? What does it mean? Something so hard to explain in words . . . ‘I Thirst’ is something much deeper than just Jesus saying ‘I love you’. Until you know deep inside that Jesus thirsts for you—you can’t begin to know who He wants to be for you. Or who He wants you to be for Him.”

What strikes me is how much deeper Jesus always wants to take us. Every day Jesus wants to love us and be known by us and take us so much deeper into Himself. Jesus desires to love us and be loved by us in every moment--not just when I feel like I’m in a good place, but when I’m really struggling and feeling insecure or worthless. Not just when I could pray uninterrupted, but right now too, in my whirlwind days filled with three little people and literally typing this one-handed while bouncing on an exercise ball with my one month old to help her burp (too much information)? What I want to draw attention to is the last two sentences of Mother Teresa’s letter. I read this and feel such a deep desire to know Jesus’ thirst for me and recognize that I don’t. It’s my prayer for myself, and all of you, that He would grant us the grace to really know His deep love, acceptance, desire, and thirst for us daily.

Through the Eyes of a Child

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For everyone who asks, receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will you give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!
— Luke 11: 11-13

When I read this verse, I generally read it from the perspective of the father and then reflect on the Father’s goodness and provision for us. But there’s another perspective here that I think is worth pondering-- the perspective of the son.

Picture it for a minute. Picture a handsome, genial, loving father. Picture a smiling, joyful, trusting boy. What’s going through that boy’s mind when he asks his father for a fish or an egg? It’s probably nothing profound-- just that he has a need that his father can meet and he has complete confidence that his father will provide for him. Let me repeat that part… he has a need that his father can meet and he has complete confidence that his father will provide for him.

When we read this verse, we rightly think about the Father’s provision and goodness, but we often fail to remember the other party in this verse and their important role. We forget that at the other end of the Father’s generous gifts, there is a child sitting and waiting with trust, confidence, and hope.

How often, in this crazy life, do we forget Christ’s words to us: “Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it”? (Luke 18: 17) What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God like a child? It means to have complete, simple, and loving confidence in God’s promises to us. It means that we expect Him to be good because we know that He is good. It means that He will provide for us whatever we need and that we trust in that provision.

When you get a chance, observe your little sibling or another small child in your life and watch them when they ask for something (like a snack or help) from their parents. How do they ask? Do they worry that their parent is not going to give them what they need? Do they fear that their parent is going to give them something that’s bad for them or will hurt them? Probably not. They probably implicitly trust that their parent loves them and wants their well-being, so there is no fear.

Why isn’t it the same with us? “If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11: 11) Why is it so hard to trust that our loving God will give us everything that we need and fill us with His Holy Spirit? Why do we doubt? Why do we worry?

Well, probably because we’re human. The flesh distracts us; the evil one whispers lies to us; we think that we can do things better; we want things that maybe we shouldn’t have. The reasons are endless. But the bottom line is that He is still good. And He still provides.

So I challenge you this week. Relate to the Lord like a child. Ask of Him what you want and expect Him to give it to you. Trust that however He answers that prayer, He is still good and He will provide. Remember that “God’s ways are not our ways” (Isaiah 55:8), and that, just like a parent who knows what’s best for their child, God may not answer our prayers exactly as we think they should be answered, but He still answers.

So close your eyes. Reach out your hands. Don’t peek. Just turn your face towards Him and smile.

Set the World on Fire

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I’m going to take you all back to August and to Pine Hills Girls’ Camp 2018—the theme was “Be The Light” and this theme has stuck with me and other staff members more than any other. I’ve been a counselor a Pine Hills for five years now and it’s amazing how the Lord works something new in me every year I go. There are a lot of lessons from the Lord that I could share with you, especially a lot I learned from this past year, but I think there’s one lesson in particular that he wants you all to carry along into this Year of Light:

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!”

This verse from Luke 12:49 has set my heart on fire! Every time I read it, I want to scream it! Jesus came to set the earth on fire and we are all called to help him in that! He has made us Christians co-heirs of Salvation and has instructed us to go out and do as he did. He wants us to be the medium through which he saves souls! How cool is that? I know what you might be thinking: how am I supposed to help save anyone? I need saving myself! I constantly fail and fall into sin. I’m not good enough. There are holier people that Jesus could use. There are more talented people that Jesus could use. I’m unworthy. I’m incapable, etc.

To this I say: do not despair, my sisters in Christ! I’m no better than you, and all those doubts and more have gone through my own mind. “It’s impossible,” I told Jesus. “How could you possibly use me, in all my brokenness and failure, to be a light to the world?” Over these past two months, he has shown me. He wants me as I am, sins and all—that alone will make him happy. He doesn’t expect any of us to come to him already perfect. Instead, when we come to him in whatever state we’re in, he will slowly form us into saints that reflect his perfect image. Patience! He will lead you to holiness and sainthood, but he knows that most of us can only take baby steps.

The Lord wants you, wherever you are, right now, to turn your face towards Him. We all have the inclination to be like Adam and Eve, to turn our faces from Him because of the shame we feel. It’s hard to look someone in the eyes when you know you’ve done something that has hurt them. But Jesus willingly came to die for us while we were all still sinners. He didn’t wait to come until we could prove ourselves or our loyalty to him. He came to save us as we are. Let him do what he came to do. Let him save you. Only when we let him in can we be a light to others. Once you let God in, you can be a light to everyone, wherever you go, even if you’re not aware of it. And he wants you to do it now! You don’t have to join a convent or know exactly which career God is calling you to in order to be a saint. As a student, you can be a light to your classmates. Let the Holy Spirit guide you—talk to someone you haven’t talked to, and if you see someone you don’t really know but you think they’re beautiful, tell them and make their day. Be open to whatever God wants you to do, down to the tiniest thing.

To reinforce what I’m saying, here are some of the Words straight from Jesus that we received at Pine Hills this past year. It’s a message he has for all of you:

I am equipping you to be my saints. I am equipping you to go into the world and to bring my light. You are young, but you are my messengers…My Father is anointing you and the lamp that he is lighting for you contains a special oil. Oil of peace, of gladness, of courage. I have anointed you with this oil, and you shall anoint others. And the steps you take shall not be stumbling, but you shall run with power and might in my anointing.

Whether it’s as a student, a businesswoman, a nurse, a nun, or something else, we can all do God’s work! Ask for more of the Holy Spirit and he will come to you and embolden you! In this world so full of darkness, our small flames can seem like nothing, but as we turn to those next to us and light their candles as well, an ocean of light begins to brighten the darkness and draw others in until the whole world is aflame! LET’S SET THE WORLD ON FIRE!

What I've Learned in a Year Without Social Media

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I’ve had a Facebook page since Facebook first became somewhat commonplace in American culture in the early 2000’s.  I know, this comment shows my age, but more importantly, it shows that social media has been a part of my life for about 10 years.

I am a Millennial, the generation where our growing up coincided with the “growing up” of social media.  We Millennials began our lives in a world without social media. In elementary school, we had AOL messenger and dial up internet.  As we grew into middle schoolers, cell phones and Facebook suddenly became social norms. In high school and college, cell phones began to hold your “life” in your pocket.  Social media expanded rapidly, with Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and a slew of other social media applications joining Facebook as dominant players in the social media marketplace.  The Millennials are a generation of guinea pigs for a life lived both in reality as well as in the digital world.

My relationship with social media started to turn sour two years ago during my second year of law school.  School was rigorous, and my personal life was exceptionally messy at the time. Nonetheless, I continued to post artsy pictures with thoughtfully creative captions to feed the perception that everything in my life was peachy keen.  I was afraid to be raw and vulnerable, to show my social media “friends” that anything was less than great.

Last summer, after my second year of law school had ended, I finally had space to breathe and reflect.  In prayer, I felt prompted to take a good hard look at my social media use and the place that social media had in my life.  I realized that for the better part of a year, I had been painting a picture on social media of a reality that was not being lived.  I realized that I subconsciously and habitually looked at life and its happenings with the mindset of “I should take a picture so I can post this later” or “I’m going to do *insert activity here* because it will make a good Instagram post.”  I also became more aware of the time I wasted mindlessly scrolling, and that more often than not scrolling only served to either (1) fuel my need to gossip about others and what I saw posted about their lives, or (2) cultivated feelings of comparison in my heart.

I was disgusted.

After I had those realizations, I tried to mitigate the situation by deleting the social media apps on my phone, or by setting a timer on my laptop that limited my social media use.  While those tactics worked for a short time, eventually I would fall back into old habits, uploading the apps on my phone or deleting the timer on my laptop. I decided I needed to do more—it was time to deactivate my accounts.

Getting rid of social media was harder than I expected.  The thought of deactivating my accounts stirred up feelings of loss like I was about to lose a dear friend.  Those feelings bothered me. All I was really losing by deactivating my accounts was my ability to instantaneously tell others about my life and the ability to constantly be “in the know” about other people’s lives.  Hitting the deactivation button shouldn’t have been that hard, but it was. This internal struggle was more confirmation to me that my relationship with social media was unhealthy.

It’s been over a year now that I haven’t had social media.  Granted, I will admit that I have reactivated my accounts a couple of times for various reasons, some of them necessary, while others were moments of weakness.  After reflecting on this past year, here are my top three takeaways after my year without social media:

  1. I live in the now.  I used to live a double life—part reality, part digital reality.  I had a distorted view of life where the pictures I was posting mattered more than living the moment I was capturing.  Now, the present moment is my only reality. My experience of life has become richer because I am able to fully engage in what’s happening right in front of me instead of worrying about what I’ll post online later.

  2. FOMO and comparison have lost their power over me.  I used to spend way too much time worrying about what other people were doing with their lives.  It bothered me when I saw people doing other things and I wasn’t doing those things too. The ridiculous part is that I often felt this way about things that I wouldn’t have been invited to in the first place, or about things that I wouldn’t have even been interested in doing in the first place.  Now, I’m oblivious about a whole bunch of things, but I’m more aware of the things that matter. I was also afraid that when I deleted social media I wouldn’t be invited to events anymore. This has turned out to be entirely false. Turns out if people really want you to be there, they’ll text or call you.

  3. I actually know people, and people actually know me.  Social media creates an illusion of knowing people when, for the most part, you really don’t.  Social media also creates the illusion that people know you. Now, if I want to know about someone’s life, or if I want someone to know about mine, I have an actual conversation with someone.  It definitely takes more time and effort than just scrolling through social media, but it’s worth it because my relationships have become more authentic. I know the victories and struggles, not just the highlight reel.

  4. I use my time more productively. According to a study by Social Media Today*, teens spend 9 hours per day on media, with 30% of that time being allocated to social media. That’s 2 hours and 42 minutes per day spent on your phone on social media.  Maybe you don’t fall into this category, but it is worthwhile to be more attentive to how much time you are actually spending on social media each day.  Now that I don’t have social media, I’ve found that I have a lot more time in my day to do more edifying things, such as spending more time in prayer, reading, or catching up with a friend on the phone.

  5. I’m not as overwhelmed with information.  The amount of information I consumed on social media overwhelmed me.  Have you ever felt overstimulated after scrolling? It’s hard for our brains to process so much information so quickly.  Now that I’ve stopped the constant scrolling, my brain is less overwhelmed and better able to handle the tasks at hand.


Before I end this very lengthy blog post, I want to make a clarifying statement. Social media is not inherently bad or evil.  There are definitely good uses for social media. However, social media is a tool, and how we use that tool determines whether its use in our lives is life giving or not. What is the place social media holds in your life?

*Evan Asano, Social Media Today, How Much Time Do People Spend on Social Media?, https://www.socialmediatoday.com/marketing/how-much-time-do-people-spend-social-media-infographic

You Are Seen

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Hi friend. It’s me, Ali: professional doodler and hand model. (No, seriously, I was in a how-to-video for a phone product… it’s on my resume.) I just want to take a moment and remind you how awesome you are, how needed you are, and how seen you are.

Sometimes we can read a lot of posts about how-to become the best [fill in the blank]; the best disciple, the best sister, the best friend, the best student, etc., which are all great because navigating this world as a Christian woman can be hard so we need wisdom from other people. But this piece won’t be a list of things you can do to become a better disciple, or ways you can improve your prayer life, or even how you can love Jesus better.

This is just a reminder that you’re doing better than you think you are.

There is a unique chaotic-ness thriving in this world that makes me feel like my life is out of control and I’m just trying to survive until I make it to the next day. I often feel like I have to be the perfect disciple or have the perfect gifts in order to be used by God and so I frequently feel like a complete failure.

Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever feel pressure to have it all together? To know exactly what you want to be doing in life and praying that it is perfectly aligned with God’s will?

Friend, breathe. You are seen. You are loved. And your efforts are not wasted.

One of my favorite saints and a great friend to all Be Love Revolutionaries is Mother Teresa. She dedicated her life to serving the poorest of the poor all over the world, but more than that, she loved deeply anyone and everyone who was in front of her. I had a professor in college who was her confessor whenever she traveled to Rome and he told us stories of her great capacity to be fully engaged with whomever was in front of her. She had a great confidence in Jesus’ love for her, and knew deeply that whomever was in front of her was Jesus in disguise.

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned from reading about Mother Teresa’s life was her ability to completely trust that Jesus would provide and guide. I’m a problem solver and a classic over-thinker. I try and plan out what the next 10 years of my life will look like and get super anxious and stressed when one part of my plan doesn’t work out. Mother Teresa trusted that Jesus is who He says He is and if He is who He says He is, then I am who He says I am.

I am His beloved.

I am seen.

I am wanted.

And He is in control.

There are so many people that surround you every single day who need to be reminded of this truth. There is someone in your life right now that needs to be reminded the she’s doing better than she thinks she is (or he is…).

Continue to do small things, even unnoticed things, with great love and trust that Jesus is shaping, molding, and using you in powerful ways.

Do you want to do something beautiful for God? There is a person who needs you. This is your chance.
— Saint Mother Teresa

Do You Know That You Are Beautiful?

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Do you know that you are beautiful?  Do you know that even if no one is saying it to you that it’s still true? Wait, you say you don’t feel like you are? Guess what? It’s still true.

As women we often define ourselves by how we think we are perceived by others. I lived this way for a long time. When I was younger, I thought because I didn’t have a boyfriend or was not being asked out that I was not attractive.  I also thought that because I was not getting compliments from my friends telling me that I was cute, then I must not be. Once these ideas crept into my head, they took over how I viewed myself and I started walking around with a major complex.  Later when I was rejected by crushes I was even more convinced that something must be wrong with me.

As I got older some of my friends who were in relationships confided in me that they too struggled with the same thing.  They too felt that they were not beautiful. I was shocked! “But you have been chosen, how do you still not feel beautiful? You are obviously attractive”.

As women, we want to be chosen. We want to be told, especially by men, that we are beautiful and worth it. Why do we wait for men to define who we are? Why do we think we have to “feel” pretty in order to actually be attractive? Or that we have to hear someone say it in order for it to be true?

Let me first of all normalize this common struggle. Through our broken humanity all of us are our own worst critics. You are not alone in having self-doubt, in feeling ugly some days, or in wanting to change something you see in the mirror.  It is also normal to want to be chosen and told you are beautiful.

Your beauty, and the awesome individual creation that you are, stands alone. You are who you are because God made you that way, not because someone says so. As a friend told me once when I was comparing myself to Taylor Swift, “God made your face and it is good.” Just because no one is choosing you, asking you out or telling you that you are pretty does not mean that you are not. These compliments or lack thereof do not change the amazing creation that you are!

Even if a man has told you differently, even if you have been rejected, that still takes nothing away from who you are. I still struggle with erasing the mean words men have said to me from my brain.  Rejection hurts, but it does not define you. Just because someone failed to see or appreciate who you really are does not make you any less amazing. You are unique and unrepeatable. There is no one else like you! Our identity lies in Christ and who he says we are. And he says you are worth dying for!

Despite having knowledge of these truths I still have my hard days. God has healed me and helped me to realize I am his creation, but some days I remember the lies that have been spoken to me. The devil loves to drive these memories deeper and he tries to tempt me to despair or believe less of myself.  I often have to remind myself that I am God’s beautiful creation and that I am worth it. Some weeks I have to say this over and over to myself. One helpful tip is to say out loud to a trusted friend the lies you believe about yourself. As soon as the words come out of your mouth you may realize how ridiculous it sounds or your friend may remind you how untrue those thoughts are.

Remember:

  1. You are no alone in your struggle to believe you are beautiful.  This is a universal struggle for women.

  2. Just because you have been rejected or you have never been chosen, does not mean you are not beautiful.

  3. Your identity lies in who God says you are: his beloved creation.

  4. When lies creep into your head say them out loud to a trusted friend.

  5. Be of good cheer. This struggle lessens with time.

BONUS BLOG: Do You See You?

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Something my dear friend said at Pine Hills 2018 really struck me. We had just woken up along with the rest of our cabin when, standing in front of the mirror, she proclaimed, “Isn’t is awesome to look in the mirror and not see your features, but only see you?” I just stood there, probably with some sort of awestruck expression on my face. Yes! Yes, it is very awesome. That sentence said out loud is so simple, a very easy and practical part of everyday life. So why is it so hard for us to believe it and apply it to our everyday lives? Why do we always scrutinize our reflection?

I believe our difficulty in finding our own self-worth is related to insecurity, feeling not good enough, and the idea that our bodies are something to perfect. I believe that finding out what God thinks about us is the best solution. During my bible time, I flipped to a random page that turned out to be in Song of Songs. I read it twice from start to finish. The first time through, I read it from the perspective of my future husband. The second time through, I read it like it was from God to me. God’s love for me became so much more real! His love is so mighty, and He shows us that love so we know it, but also so we can display that love to others. It’s His promise to us, and He will never ever break that promise! We are not meant to find our worth and love for ourselves in anything other than God Himself.

Remember at the beginning when I asked why we are always scrutinizing our reflection? Well guess what? It’s just our reflection! A reflection is only from our point of view, no one else’s—not our friends, our family, our co-workers or classmates, and definitely not God’s.  So, the next time you look in the mirror, check your motives. Don’t look to see if that red mark has gone away or if new ones have appeared. Don’t look to make sure your friends will like your outfit. And certainly, don’t look to see if the lies Satan is feeding you are visible in your appearance. Look only to see you, not your features, not individual parts of you, but the person God sees and loves. Look and see in yourself the image of God and know that you are loved and valued.

Little Flowers for Jesus

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Do you know what’s really hard?

Intentionally loving people in the mundane day-to-day, and trying to remember that loving them is loving Jesus.

It’s so funny, because that has been one of my ideal priorities for a very long time now, but I get discouraged sometimes. On a decent number of days, but especially on the days when I am tired or stressed or feel worn out, it is so, so hard to look beyond myself and really try to love each and every person I encounter the way I know Jesus wants me to. This summer, though, I had an amazing moment of grace which transformed how I think about striving to love other people.  

This past summer I got to spend six weeks in Newark, New Jersey living and serving with the Missionaries of Charity (who are also known as Mother Teresa’s sisters). I was helping with their summer camp which serves the underprivileged children from the neighborhood, so I spent each week praying with the sisters, organizing crafts and snacks for the camp, and playing with the kids. There were so many amazing moments! The group I got to work with was the 4, 5 and 6-year-old girls, and let me tell you: you have never seen anyone as cute as these girls. I got to play jump rope and sing with them and laugh with them, and we even got to go to the Bronx zoo for a day. Beyond just the kids, seeing how radically the sisters love and serve was astounding—it was so incredibly beautiful and awe-inspiring.

But guess what? It was really hard too! Each day was pretty exhausting even with a lot of sleep, and by the third and fourth week it was really challenging to try and do the same thing just as lovingly as I had done it the first week. All of the novelty had worn away—I had done service trips for a week or two weeks before, but at that point it wasn’t new and exciting anymore: it had become like the day-to-day. However, that actually turned out to be one of the biggest blessings because I learned the most from it!

Before I got to Newark, I had thought that spending my summer with the Missionaries of Charity was going to change my life because it was so different from everything I had ever done before. And it did change my life! But not because it was so different from my average day-to-day, but because it was so similar to my day-to-day, since it wasn’t super exciting and fun all of the time. It became challenging, but learning to love through and in the “average-ness” of it is exactly what made it so much easier to come back and keep on loving in the day-to-day-ness and the mundane at home.

There was one particular moment when it hit me so clearly. Mother Teresa and St. Therese of Lisieux both talk about doing small things with great love, and I have heard that a lot before and thought I understood, but it never truly clicked until this one moment in Newark. All of the little girls loved playing this one little hand clapping game, and so they would ask me and the other volunteers to play it A LOT. I had probably done it about twenty times this one afternoon, when this little girl named Leslie asked me to play it with her yet again. I’ll be honest, I really wanted to make an excuse and sit down somewhere in the shade or something and just take a break because I felt pretty tired that day. Then it hit me in the face: if I played the game with Leslie, I would be handing a flower to Jesus.  After realizing that, I was actually happy to play the game with Leslie— isn’t it always so much easier to serve someone that you love? It becomes a joy to serve them, never a drudgery.

That’s why it is so much easier to do something when you are doing it for Christ, when that moment is transformed into you getting to hand him a flower because you love Him. I love that image so much because it’s exactly like being a tiny little child and looking at up this person we love SO MUCH and being so happy to do this tiny little thing to show them that we love them. I think this is what Jesus was talking about when he was explaining what would happen on the last days, and He is telling the sheep that they gave him food when He was hungry or drink when He was thirsty, and they were like, ‘When did we do that??’ and Jesus says, “The King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). We truly are serving and loving Christ when we serve and love the little ones around us.

Based on my sheer strength and the power of my will, there are days when I do not have the motivation to push past my grumpiness or exhaustion or shyness or self-centeredness to truly love others. I just don’t. But the good news is that the Lord does not expect that of me! He is the one who provides the grace and the strength to love others! And by His grace, when He helps me to change my perception of those moments to understanding them as chances to show Him how much I love Him, suddenly every day (even those hard ones!) is filled with simple, joyful opportunities to tell the One I love that I love Him.


So let’s look around within our day-to-days with our families, at school, with our friends, at Beloved, and let Him transform the way we see these average moments in our lives, so that we can see all of them as opportunities to hand flowers to to our beloved King!