Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Measuring Stick of Success

Someone I know recently asked: How do you measure success?

One person suggested that they would see themselves as successful when they were featured on Ellen. I found several other people suggesting that success came with happiness.

After this week, I'm not so sure that I would fit my definition in either one of those categories when it comes to success.

Looking into my life from the outside, I am by no accounts successful. I am working a seasonal job at Target. I live with my parents. Yep, I just put that out there and I hate it. It makes me grit my teeth to admit where I am in my life right now. It has left me in a period where I have had to make strides to overcome self-pity along with self-hate. I have had to make strides to see that this point in my life is not a measure of my success.

So here I am again, walking my parent's dog and asking myself: How do I measure success?

Ellen? Happiness? Fulfillment?

Friday, November 6, 2015

Getting Schooled

Two months ago I began a new job as a receptionist at a preschool. I made the decision to leave my job for reasons I won't get into here. As a receptionist, I didn't expect to work so closely with the students, but I ended up in the classrooms nearly everyday. I didn't expect to become attached to these toddlers and preschoolers, but somehow they managed to worm their way into my hard heart and soften it.

On Wednesday, I was helping with the private kindergarten class and as I headed back to the front desk, the entire class came up and collectively hugged me. It was like a giant dogpile of four and five years olds near my knees. *cue heart melting* As I was driving to work yesterday, I was reflecting on the impression that has been made on me these couple months working every day with kids. So here's three life lessons learned from working in a preschool:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Daily Virtue

Between my shifts at work, I drove over to the library yesterday to finish up my paper which I finally had a breakthrough on writing... Only to find that it wasn't open until 1 pm. How frustrating! Well, lucky for me, I found out that there's a Catholic church a couple blocks down with Perpetual Adoration, so thanks be to God for making an even better day out of my Wednesday.

I went into the chapel and opened up the browser on my phone to BlessedIsShe's daily devotion, which all you ladies should check out. The day's reflection was called On the Journey based on Luke 9:1-6 and asked, "How is God calling you to proclaim the Kingdom?"

Honestly, this has been a question I have been struggling with myself lately. I have been struggling to find my worth in the Lord when I haven't been able to serve His Kingdom in an intentional ministry. I work a job with crazy hours and find myself with a couple hours in the afternoon to work on school work and then a couple in the evening to try and relax and prepare for my next 4:30 am wake-up call.

As I was driving home this week, a phrase came to me about what I'm gaining from this semester at home: daily virtue. I am constantly doing the opposite of what I want to do. I do not want to wake up at 4:30 to make it work on time. I do not want to make my bed before I've even had time for coffee. I do not want to pray a Rosary in the morning when I barely have the brain cells to form sentences. I do not want to work on my school work during my break from work.

More than anything, I do not want to answer this call I have to love others unceasingly. It is so difficult to love my mom when I'm exhausted and dinner isn't ready yet. It is so difficult to love my students' parents when they come to pick them up long day and get frustrated because I have to tell them they have a late fee on their account. It is so difficult to love my friends when I've had a long day and so have they and they call me needing to vent about it and all I want to do is turn my brain off. Sometimes it feels like I am up to my eyeballs in the love I know I need to give to others. I am in a battle with myself to fight this sour attitude I so easily fall into.

But. BUT.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Orienting My Heart

What I wanted more than anything my junior and senior year of high school was a computer of my own. After a wiped hard drive my sophomore year, I had trust issues with our family computer. I wished to write my papers in the solace of my room without anybody asking me if they could get on to put music on their iPod or check their email. I set about constantly dropping hints to my parents about exactly what I wanted. It was the Daisy Red Ryder BB Gun of my own life, the Apple MacBook. From our conversations, it seemed that my parents were all aboard for me getting it. I told them I was willing to sacrifice Christmas, graduation, my birthday, whatever it took to get exactly what I knew I wanted.

Christmas morning I shot out of bed, ready to see if my wish had come true. I found a couple of small wrapped presents under the tree and some stocking stuffers, but certainly nothing the size of a MacBook hiding beneath the branches. As William proceeded to open his gifts, I silently rehearsed the reserved and noncommittal tone in which I would receive my Christmas presents. I refused to allow myself to be crushed that I didn't get what I had asked for. After all, it wasn't that my life was in any way lacking or that I was deprived because I didn't get what I asked for.

Seriously, this is the picture I got on the Christmas tree
I opened my gifts and thanked my parents, still repressing any moodiness I may have been feeling inside. I knew what I was asking for was a lot. I had the freedom to ask, but my parents also had the freedom to say no. My dad looks to my mom and mentions as an afterthought, "Oh, there's one more on the back of the tree." No, they didn't hang my MacBook as an ornament. It was a slip of paper... with a photo of an Apple 13" MacBook Pro and a note telling me we'd be visiting the Apple Store to pick it up in a couple days time. Not only did my parents give to me what I had asked for, they gave me something that better than what I asked for.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Wash Your Dishes

A dear friend of mine had spent the morning deep cleaning. We shared how satisfying it is to do all that work and see just how much progress has been made through our efforts. That feeling of accomplishment and pride brought me back again to the end of today's Gospel in Matthew:

Blind Pharisee, cleanse first the inside of the cup, so the outside may also be clean.
When I wake up in the morning, I make sure that my bed is made and my things are put away. Why? Because it should be an outward side to the interior order of my life. Amidst changing directions with my living and my future and my life, I have been a mess lately. I have been in what seems like fifty different places in a matter of the last month. My cup was full and running over from the love I been given in goodbyes and the peace gained from attending School of the New Evangelization up in St. Paul, Minnesota.

But arriving home to Houston, despite how full I may have been, those first couple of days, I felt ragged— inside and out.

Moving home has been a daunting task for me. I felt that there were so many things left incomplete or unfinished in San Marcos. Suddenly, what had been home for the last four years wasn't home anymore. I was afraid of this time set apart and what was in store, but reading this verse I realized what opportunity I have laying at my feet. I have an opportunity to spend these next four months deep cleaning myself. The Lord has set me at the sink and asked me to not worry about what else may be going on outside the kitchen. For now, just focus on the dishes.

So here I am sitting in bed with my cat snoozing by my laptop. I have a cup of Sleepytime beside me and I have just pressed submit to my final course at Texas State (praise the Lord for online classes) and to receiving my diploma in December. I have so many plans swirling in my mind for the future (in my typical INFJ fashion), but I'm learning what it means to lay those aside and trust in the timing of the Lord. Once the dishes are done, He'll show me what I'm to do next, but I want a clean cup. I desire a well-ordered life. I desire a life centered on Christ. I want my bed and room and smile and dishes to all be outward signs of the inward order that I am working on. So here's to tackling the mess these next few months and seeing what He has in store. I'm looking forward to looking back in January with a sense of accomplishment and pride and exclaiming, "Lord, you did all that?!"

Monday, February 16, 2015

Love bears all things

In preparation for Lent, which heads up starts this Wednesday, I have been spending time in prayer asking the Lord how it is that He wishes for me to grow. This last year has been so full of change, transition, and growth. In my last blog post (which you can find here), I spoke of pruning and how the Lord has been asking me to give up things that aren't so easy to give up.

Lent is a perfect time for this idea of pruning to come up. The Lord has told me that he wants to cut my branches and tend to me, but what is it that He is asking for me to give up?

This Lent, I am going to give people the benefit of the doubt. When someone has wounded me, it takes so much for me to let that regression go and move on. In my prayer journal, upon examination of this habit of holding a grudge, I went on to explain it this way: I have this bag with me at all times and sometimes I open it up, take out a wound that I have "let go," and just look at it and remember how much it hurt. Am I really letting things go, or am I just harboring old wounds to bring back later? Am I really forgiving my brother?

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How does your garden grow?

And finally, I write to you, happy new year! I wish one of my new year's resolutions were to blog more frequently, but with a full plate, it is not only good but right to let some things slide. It seems that as the Lord continues to grow the garden in my heart, He also has to prune and pull the weeds. It's not the weeds that are difficult to let go, but sometimes pruning can be a pain.
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing."
 John 15:1-5
 The Lord has given me, and every one of us, a promise that if we allow Him to, he will allow our lives to flourish. Sometimes we hold on to people, things, or sins that are dead or overgrown. He is not taking these things away because He wants to see us unhappy, but because He love us! He is the greatest gardener and knows the fruit that this will bring us, the new life we will find.