Catholic Photo Challenge: Filial Trust



Steve over at Everything Esteban does photo challenges and this round is filial trust.

“322 Christ invites us to filial trust in the providence of our heavenly Father (cf. Mt 6:26-34),
and St. Peter the apostle repeats: “Cast all your anxieties on him, for he cares about you” (I Pt 5:7; cf. Ps 55:23).”

The goal? For this photo challenge, capture a scene or event that expresses joy in a carefree moment. A scene when you, or someone else, is living in the moment, not fettered by worries or needing to be in total control.

I picked a photo that has long been a favorite of mine. It’s from my missions trip back in 2008. We were working at an orphanage in Mexico, playing with the kids. A few of the teenage boys were sitting on top of their large grill laughing and throwing around the soccer ball. Luckily I had my camera with me and was able to snap a picture of this brief carefree moment when they had a reprieve from all that they had already been through in their short lives.

The husband and wife who ran this orphanage shared Christ’s love with the kids they took care of and if you watched you could see it shine through in moments like this one. And that’s why I adore this photo.




Saying Goodbye


The funeral was hard in ways I hadn’t even thought of.

My older brother and I were the first to arrive with our photo boards and things that had been important to our mom. We hung up our coats and I remember walking up to the door of the room the service would be in. I couldn’t go through. The open casket was there in the front. I just stopped. It was all becoming too real in that moment. I hadn’t seen her since thanksgiving and this is not how imagined I would be seeing her the day after Christmas. Part of me had still been hoping that this was all a long and very detailed dream from which I would soon awake. But now it was real. I fought the tears, set our stuff down on the back pew and waited in the lobby for my dad and younger brother to get there. I just wasn’t ready for this. I don’t think anyone ever really could be.

Many of my mom’s old friends came to pay their respect. They spent a lot of time looking at the photo boards and because she didn’t like to be in front of the camera, most of the photos were from her youth or early marriage before she had my brothers and me. Countless people who hadn’t seen her since childhood or high school told me “that’s the Linda I will always remember. The healthy, energetic teenager. I won’t remember her illness.” Those words stung, even made me mad. I didn’t really know that Linda. She had been diagnosed with kidney failure when I was in 6th grade and had been declining some in health for a while before that. I hardly remember a time when she wasn’t sick. It was just a part if our life. It hurt that people weren’t going to remember her the way I knew her. I was mad that I didn’t get to know the young woman everyone kept telling me about. It just didn’t seem right to me.

The hardest part was saying good-bye. As the visitation ended and right before the service started, it was time for the family to say goodbye. We invited her best friend from childhood and her husband, who had been through it all with her, to join us. Just before they closed the casket we had a moment to say whatever we needed to one last time. It had been 2 weeks since I had heard her voice and this is not how I had thought I would be talking to her next. It was one of the hardest and most personal moments of my life. The worst part was that everyone who was there for the service was watching this. All those people who weren’t going to remember my mom the way I knew her, all those people who I had never met until today were watching. I felt exposed and I wanted them all to go away. I said goodbye to my mother and we went into the lobby to pray with the pastor before the service. When we returned the casket was closed and I knew I would never see her face again. My heart shattered.

The only thing that made any of this easier was the support of my wonderful friends. More of them than I could have hoped for came and some of them went to get food for me because that’s the last thing I had thought of when leaving for the funeral home. People who had been with me through all the ups and downs of my mom’s illness were there. People who let me cry in their arms and who pointed out pictures of her that reminded them of me. Without them I would not have been able to get through any of it.

As I continue to figure out how to grieve I have to constantly remind my self that I can only deal with the present moment, but I need to start dealing with it. I’ve been good at distracting myself these last 2 months. I’m hoping that by writing out my experience I can begin to move past parts of it that are holding me back from the healing process. I just want to thank my friends for their patience. There will be times when I cancel plans or don’t return phone calls but it’s nothing personal. Those are just the days that I’m having a hard time saying goodbye.

Slipped Away


I’ve been absent for a while. I didn’t know how to put into words what life has thrown at me lately. But it’s time to write it down.

A month and a half ago the thing that I knew would happen eventually , but hoped wouldn’t for years to come, happened.

It was 6 am and I received a text. My dad told me to call home, it was about my mom. I had gotten these kinds of text before when my mom had to go into the hospital, but somehow I knew it was different this time. I called and my dad was crying.”This is it.” he said. The paramedics were there and they couldn’t find a pulse. My mom had passed away. I couldn’t believe it. It was 3 days before Christmas. I was going to be coming home tomorrow after work to see my parents. This couldn’t be real. I was just dreaming, right? It was so unexpected. I was joking around her with her just 10 hours ago on Facebook. How can she be gone?

She had been sick for years with kidney failure and more recently heart and lung problems. But she had been doing well. It had been awhile since she’d been in the hospital. I didn’t get to say goodbye. I want to be able to say goodbye and I love you one more time. I’m struggling everyday to put into words what I feel. How do you explain heart-break? How do you tell people what you need when you can’t name it yourself?

I think the hardest part has been when I think about all the things that will be different now. When I think about things that might be in my future that should be joyous occasions, my heart breaks because she won’t be there to share it. All of these future happy occasions will also be times of sorrow. When I think about the possibility of marriage, I realize she won’t be able to help me pick out my dress like she always wanted to. She was anxious for grand children and now she will never be able to hold her first grand baby. It’s not just the loss of her presence now that I mourn, but her presence in the future at important life events.

It reminds me of the words of an Avril Lavigne song, one that I feel says all that I’ve been feeling much more succinctly than I ever could.

“The day you slipped away, was the day I found it won’t be the same.”

I miss you mom. But I have hope that I will one day see you again.

me and momRest in Peace.


In loving memory


I thought I was mostly done with my Catholic firsts after my first Catholic wedding this summer. But, I forgot about funerals. Today I experienced that.

My campus minister passed away last weekend. I worked with him for a year as a peer minister as a senior. As sad it was, it was beautiful. There’s something about the Catholic liturgy and Eucharist that make even a time of deep sorrow into one full of hope and even joy. It was touching to see how many lives he had been a part of. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place. There was a sense of peace as I stood among my fellow peer ministers, both past and present, as we mourned the loss of a beloved friend, knowing that we were there to support each other with our presence. It was bitter-sweet to hear one of his sons share stories of his father and to hear in them parts of this man that we all knew and loved dearly. It felt like what I imagine the Church is supposed to be, a community that comes together both in times of sadness and of joy, with Christ always at the center. 

The world lost a wonderful man last Saturday. A man who knew what it meant to be a friend of Jesus. A man who took the time to get to know the story of everyone he met. A man who served others and the Church with his time and amazing cooking. He made sure that us broke college kids had a homemade meal every now and then. Let me tell you, he made the best chili (sorry, mom). He was a man who loved the peers as his own children. A man who trusted the Lord, even when things were not going well according to worldly standards, amidst pain, suffering, and illness. He was a man who never lost hope and ran the race to the end. Please join me in praying for him and his family.

You will be missed greatly.

You will be missed greatly.

Amazing Grace


Amazing Grace was the hymn sung during communion this morning. When they got to the last verse, I started to cry. 

When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun.


I cannot wait until the day the Lord has returned and all temptation and hurt has come to an end. I cannot wait until we are shining brighter than the sun, robed in white and forever gazing on the face of Christ, the Prince of Peace and lover of our souls. My heart has been broken in the last few weeks since I started volunteering and sometimes I feel like we are fighting a losing battle, but this verse restored some of my hope.

I see so much pain and suffering in the children I work with. I can see that they need to be loved and my role in their lives is so brief that I cannot be the one to give them the unending love they need. Most of them do not even know that they are worthy of love. They have been mistreated and abandoned by the people who are supposed to love them. How do I show them their worth and dignity, the love of their Creator when I only see them for 15 minutes at a time, if even that? How do I give them hope when I come and go from their lives, just like everyone else has? How do I show them Heaven on earth? I suppose I just have to make the most of the time I do have with these kids. But I feel so small and incapable. And that’s where God’s amazing grace comes in. Please pray for me to have the wisdom of the Holy Spirit as I interact with these kids and that I may overflow with God’s love and shower it upon them.


What Next?


I’ve been absent from my blog for awhile now. I’ve tried time and again to write a post but I’ve just had no motivation or inspiration. But, on Sunday I am starting a year long volunteer program run by the Sisters of St. Joseph called the Saint Joseph Worker Program. So I have found a little inspiration.

This program is a four pillar program of justice, spirituality, leadership, and intentional community.

Justice. Each volunteer is placed with a different organization that reaches out to those in need. I will be with Catholic Charities as a nurse in their home for children. I will serve little kiddos who have been removed by the county from unsafe situations runaways or homeless youth. I am both excited and nervous. I could use all the prayers you have to offer for grace and strength to work in such an emotionally challenging area.

Spirituality. This will involve retreats, meeting with a mentor/spiritual director, developing a deeper prayer life, etc. This is the part of the program about which I am most excited. While I sometimes find spirituality challenging, it’s a challenge that I thoroughly enjoy, more of an adventure really. I love growing closer to the Lord.

Leadership. Within our placement sites we will be expected to develop our personal leadership skills.  We will be given opportunities to network and meet with mentors who can help us develop our strengths and weaknesses.

Intentional Community. For the next year I will be living and sharing life with five of the other women in the program, with 7 others in another house that we will spend time with as well. We will share meals together and spend at least two afternoons/evenings together each week doing some sort of activity, one of which includes what the sisters call “Sharing of the Heart”. I think this could prove the challenging part of the program. I love living with other people, but I’m a bit of an introvert and quite shy. I don’t open up easily and definitely need my alone time each day, so  being required to share what’s on my mind will be difficult, very beneficial, but difficult. My hope is that I will learn to be comfortable with sharing my heart with those around me, I want to learn to be open so that others will be comfortable being open with me. I want to allow others to love me as I truly am, not merely as I present myself. So, this will be the most difficult, but probably my favorite part as well. One plus is that we each have our own room. I have not had a roommate since I was in first grade and my brothers moved to a different room, so it would be weird to go to that.

We are also asked to learn to live simply as part of the community life. We will be sharing a household food budget so I will learn to reign in my eating out habits (not too mention I have no income to spend over the next year). The houses are already furnished for us and we encouraged to bring as little with us as possible, just some decorations to make our rooms our own and any necessities. This means that as I am packing for the move I have had to downsize considerably. It’s been a challenge to decide what things I really don’t need, but I’ve wanted to minimize my belongings for awhile. I have a lofty goal of one day being able to keep all of my belongings in a single suitcase, able to go where the Lord calls me at a moment’s notice. I’m far from that now, but this has been a push in the right direction.

I hope that this year will provide more inspiration for posts and that my blog will not be as sparse over the next 12 months. Please pray for me as I embark on this new journey.

Peace and blessings!

Moving past the past


The past has a way of butting in where it is not welcome.It has a knack for reminding us of the mistakes we made and the things we’ve lost. Lately, I’ve been reminded of the way I handled myself as I was in the process of converting, and I must admit that it was often not very pretty. There are parts of that process that I’m not proud of in the least. With some people I acted out of a desire to prove that I was right and they were wrong. It was all about my pride rather than sharing the Truth in love. With others I acted out of fear, pulling away because I couldn’t bear to disappoint them with my decision.  But the result was the same, friendships weakened. If I could take some of it back, I would. But we can’t redo the past. And I’m trying to figure out what things I can fix in the present and what things I just need to move on from.

I’ve been reminded of things that I had to let go, no matter how painful it would be. I still find myself desperately wishing I could have found a way to keep those things without denying what God was doing in my heart. But again, the past cannot be changed and one thing I know, I would never go back and change my decision to convert. Never. It proved to be the best decision I’ve ever made and I’ve never felt like my relationship with Christ has been stronger than it is now.

It seems like these reminders get stronger in the summer. That’s when I made the decision to convert and things  started to unravel. And something about this season causes all the emotions I experienced to come flooding back. But I know that by the grace of God I will get through it and each time it makes me a little stronger. I made mistakes and let things go, but the Lord is merciful and forgives mistakes and I gained so much more in the fullness of Truth than I lost.

All is well, or will be.