What We Give Back to God

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about talent and not wasting our days. I’ve been thinking about procrastination, scrolling on social media, and browsing the internet. I’ve been thinking about work and responsibility.

I’ve been praying for change.

Last night, I was sitting in my car outside my parents house. My wife was finishing up a phone call while I stared out the window. There I saw a tulip with a light shining on it.

A single tulip just resting in the light.

The tulip I saw

I started thinking…

God has given us all a tulip when we are born. A gift to grow and water. We know what waters our tulip and helps it grow. We all have the duty and the responsibility to care for this gift. Using our talents we water the tulip and feed it with the light it needs. When we watch our days go by the flower withers. When we head off course the flower loses its brilliance.

At the end of our life the tulip will be finished growing.

What will your tulip look like when you give it back to God?

Feelings and Truth

At the start of a half marathon you feel good.

The wind is pushing you forward. The sweat has yet to start dripping down your face. The sun is out.

Yet, a few miles in things start to feel different.

Your breathing quickens. You feel a small side cramp that seems to grow larger each minute. Your legs start to feel like steel beams.

How you feel is totally different than how you felt minutes before.

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In life we are faced with many different feelings. Feelings that can motivate us to do good or cause us to feel downtrotten.

Feelings are like waves. One minute they are barely visible and the next they topple us over like a 5 year old who was too close to the shoreline.

What we need to remeber is that:

Truth is constant.

In the above example of the half marathon, your feelings would be all over the place. However, the one thing that is constant is the truth of the race. The truth being: You need to finish the race regardless of your feelings.

I have noticed within myself and others around me that at times we allow our negative feelings to define who we are. At many moments this discouragement we place on ourselves paralyzes us and prevents us from living the life we are called to live. When we feel rejected and unloved we forget the ultime truth.

God loves us unconditionally. He is merciful.

No matter how we may “feel” about ourselves at any moment, we are made in God’s image.

We were placed on this earth to make a difference and spread light.

If certain feelings are preventing you from bearing the fruit of love remind yourself of the truth:

I am loved by God. God has placed me here for a purpose.

Now no matter the feelings…lets take a step forward and finish this race.

Only One Shot

Christmas break is over for most. This means it’s time to get back at it.

To the grind.

Whether it is work, school, or life, the relaxed atmosphere of Christmas/New Year’s is behind us. On top of that, it is now 2021. With a new year comes many expectations for ourselves and the world.

I was at Church on New Year’s day. In the homily the priest mentioned how in this life we only have “one shot” to make it to Heaven. He talked about the value of time. Each second has the power to transform us to who we know we must be, or take us further from our mission.

What is your mission? Are you pursuing it valiantly?

With this new year comes an opportunity to redisover and refine our mission. We must seek to notice the goals that are placed in our hearts and dive deep fighting for them.

For 2021, lets strive to hit the pillow knowing that we used this “one shot” of life to the fullest.

Every second this year is important.

For in them, our character is sculpted.

Where Is Your Light?


You are the light of the world…Matthew 5:14

What does it mean to be the light?

This is a question thas has been on my heart over the last few months.

How can I be the light at home, in my community, or with strangers?

There is a lot of darkness this year. A lot of pain. Much suffering.

I know within each of our hearts there is a call to help. A call to mend what is a broken. A call to carry the weight for someone even if for just a short amount of time.

I’ve seen how light works. When I was a young child, I remember having to get upstairs from the basement. It was pitch black. I was scared. The darkness meant uncertainity and fear.

I recall sprinting up the stairs and staring as my shoes lit the way. They were the classic light up sneakers.

Through this light, I felt a wave of calmness. My path was laid before me and I could carry on without anxiety.

I think this is what it means to be the light.

To be the light is to scatter the darkness.

To be the light does not mean to be a small flickering candle.

Being the light, is like being lightening piercing the night sky.

Light is powerful, it collides with anything in its path.

Loving others is to be the light.

When we love others we put ourselves out there in a very vulnerable place. Love requires sacrifice. Love can lead to pain. Just like light, when we love there is a sharp contrast with darkness.

I think to be the light in our modern world is to recognize the humanity in each other.

To be the light, is to call others by their name and to recognize their gifts.

Instead of trying to think how can I be the light, lets think about when we felt the light shine on us.

To me this has been most apparent in my life, when I am called by name.

When light shines on others, it sees them for who they are and not a numerical value.

Recognizing and appreciating the gifts of others is essential in building others up.

In the passage above, Christians are called to be the light of the world.

To be the light means to love deeply, call others by name, and recognize their gifts.

We all have the ability to be the light.

It is our choice if we will choose to flicker or pierce the sky.

Back to Normal?

With all the talk of a COVID-19 vaccine, questions of returning back to normal start to come to my mind.

Things like:

Going to a packed movie theater.

A professional baseball game.

Even just standing in an awkwardly crowded elevator.

At first all these things sound great. These are experiences we have missed out on for almost a year. I know; however, that getting back into the swing of things may not be so easy for some people. A lot of uncertainity (rightfully so) was built upon being close to or near large groups of people. Going back to normal is going to take some getting used.

I remember something similar happening to me during my first two years of medical school. Due to the constant workload and studying, I would sit in my apartment studying for almost the whole day. This was what was required to learn the material. When I went to visit my now wife, I would have to take a plane from Florida to Texas. I remember the feeling of being on the plane with so many people. It was a weird experience for me after being so isolated studying for so long to now walking around an airport.

It took some adjusting.

From what I have witnessed, I know there are many people struggling with loneliness right now more than ever before. From nursing homes preventing visitors to individuals with anxiety disorders stuck at home, this pandemic has brought on many other struggles.

Therefore, when we do get somewhat “back to normal” let us remember to be on the lookout for those that need us. We have all experienced this pandemic differently. Some of us have lost family members. Others have lost successful careers. And others will have to learn to adjust to living in a bustling world.

In due time, when COVID-19 is behind us, I do not want to go back to normal.

I want to go to better.

A world where we are constantly grateful for the ability to celebrate the holidays together.

A world where we choose to visit and hug our grandparents.

A world where we recognize the struggles of others and seek to love them through it.

Back to normal?

Together let us focus on better.

You Are Capable

On Thanksgiving morning, I woke up to rain. Not the little sprinkle type, but the cats and dogs type.

I had a virtual half marathon to run. Maybe I could run it on the apartment treadmill?

Nope. They clean the gym every 45 minutes.

So, I tied my sneakers tight. Put my iPhone in a plastic sandwich bag. Threw on a windbreaker. And started.

For those who do not know, a virtual race is basically you creating the race course and logging your time. You use an app on your phone to GPS track your course and mileage.

I had not trained for this virtual half marathon. The last time I ran one was in college. The most I had run in the last few months was a couple miles if anything.

I do not recommend this for safety/injury reasons.

However, I committed to running this half a few days before and I was not going to back down now.

1 mile 2.

3 miles became 7.

And eventually that was it.

13.1 and done.

2 hrs and 4 minutes later. I’ll take it.

If this virtual half marathon taught me anything it is that we are more than capable of doing great things. While I was running, I could not believe that I was still doing alright.

The problem is we have a hard time leaving our comfort zone. I am the first one to admit it. Getting up and running a half marathon in the rain was the last thing I wanted to do that Thanksgiving morning. However, for the first time in a long time I decided to push away comfort and seek an opportunity.

I think this small story is a testament to the fact that we are more than capable of achieving anything if we strive for it.

St. John Paul II says,

It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.

While this capability can provide us with achievement, its main mission should be to help others. We are capable of making an impact on a large scale in our homes and the community.

You are capable of loving others deeply and with conviction.

We have all received a call in our hearts to love without counting the cost.

We have been given special gifts to help change this world for the good.

God gives us a chance every morning to push ourselves for Him and others.

Let us remind ourselves that through Him we are capable. See the goal.

And get to work.

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Here is an old blog post with a similiar theme!

https://wanderinginwondertoday.com/2019/08/25/the-organist-with-one-arm/

Love Through The Chaos

I think it is safe to say that 2020 has been a year of chaos in many respects. Uncertainty has lingered through the air for most of the year. We are running from a virus that we cannot see, yet its effects are devastating. We have all been impacted this year. Some of us have lost a family member or a friend to COVID-19. Others have become consumed with anxiety with no where to go due to isolation. Some of us had big plans for 2020 that had to get pushed off to another year.

There is chaos in our midst. Real chaos. And with chaos comes confusion, fear, and anxiety.

However, like the light from a lighthouse bursting through the fog, there is love.

I know I have seen it first hand. The chaos surrounding us, only makes the love that much more apparent.

I’ve seen videos of loved ones going out of there way to find a safe way to see one another.

I’ve seen friends calling more to check in on one another.

I’ve seen the family unit grow stronger as they are stuck under the same roof.

These small acts hold so much weight. When we are forced to find creative solutions to love; the effort is memorable. The sacrifice shown to us by others leaves an imprint in our minds that does not seem to fade.

COVID-19 is invisible, yet we see the impact.

Love itself is invisible, yet we see the impact.

I hear everyone saying lets just move on to 2021 and get over 2020. I don’t agree. In this chaotic year where everything seems to be falling apart, we have learned the impact of loving others deeply.

The truth is clear.

When we love, we carry on.

Marriage and Manhood

1 month ago I saw my bride through my tear-filled eyes.

Our wedding did not go as we planned. Our guest list was cut down from 200+ to 22. We did not have the big venue we envisioned. We did not have a DJ. We did not have a beautiful honeymoon on an island.

It sure did not go as we planned. But it went as God planned. And because of that is was everything we could have hoped for.

We had an intimate ceremony. Thanks to technology our family and friends were able to watch us live. We had an amazing backyard reception. We had a nice big speaker and spotify. We ate great food. We road tripped back to our new apartment. Everyone was safe. We felt the Holy Spirit every minute of that day.

In this 1 month of marriage, I have learned a lot about what it means to be husband.

1 month and you know so much? I am definitely no expert, but day by day I am learning about what it means to be a husband.

  1. SACRIFCE

It’s easy to envision what sacrifice means to any man. Usually it is a picture of taking a bullet to the chest. It means pushing someone out of the way and sacrificing your life for them. In marriage however, sacrifice seems to me to be about dirty dishes. As the priest mentioned in our wedding day homily, “lifting the seat” is a large part of marriage. Sacrifice is making the morning coffee when exhausted. It is listening before speaking. To be a man, a husband, is to die to self. To let go of how one believes things should be done, listen, and respond as a team.

2. GROWTH

Never stop growing personally and together as a couple. I noticed myself not pursuing growth the first month of our marriage. To me it seemed like now that we were married, I did not need to keep striving to be a better person. This is far from the truth. I know now that the pursuit of personal growth is the spark for growth as husband and wife. In order to be the best husband, it requires a constant look inward. A constant reflection: How can I be a better man? Am I living a life of virtue? Where am I slipping up?

3. JOY

There is so much joy in being with someone that makes you a better person! In this 1 month of marriage I have witnessed the pure fun that is doing life with someone who helps you grow closer to Christ. I have learned that it is okay to take moments to just rest in the joy of matrimony.

Overall, manhood to me means love. Being a husband means living a life of love for another. It means sacrificing in small ways everyday.

It means walking with your bride towards Heaven.

Trust Anyway

There is not much to say that has not been said.

People are dying at alarming rates. Jobs are being lost every second. People are stuck in apartments, houses, and other countries. The world is spinning in a wild confusion. Wedding plans are up in the air. Churches have been locked for weeks. Streets are desolate.

It is all surreal.

Yet, in this moment, we are continuously being called.

Called by God to have a deeper trust in His plan for our and our families live. A trust that is mightier than any pandemic.

How are we to trust in times like these? How are we to give up all control?

Slowly and with persistence.

Building trust does not happen in the happy moments. Nor does it happen in an instant. Trust is built in the trenches.

Trust is hearing the sound of bullets ricocheting around us and knowing God is our defense. Today, these shots are firing every morning we wake up and see the new stats. The bullets do not seem to be stopping. It is very easy to get caught up in ourselves as we see the world burning. Questions without answers is all we have right now.

Trust is a process where we are dying moment by moment–dying to ourselves—placing all control into the hands of God.

Whatever situation you find yourself in during this pandemic, I want to encourage you to develop a trust in your Father in Heaven. Hold steadfast to the truth; He loves you and cares about you. Hope must be our guide. Let us do all we can do pray for and be there for those impacted by this virus.

Though we may feel like our whole world is upside down, we must trust anyway.

 

 

You Are Flammable

It is both a terrifying reality and a wondrous opportunity when we come to know that we are flammable. Everyday we have the capability of burning with love and kindness or with destruction and hate. We can choose to carry a fire that spreads ferociously into the hearts of those we love. This flame eradicates darkness and showers the world with warmth and light. We are also capable of infecting the world with a fire, which has an end goal of covering everything with a cloud of ash. 

Being on fire hurts. Because when we are on fire, we are allowing ourselves to wither, our pride melts away, and we are transformed into who we are meant to be. St. Catherine said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.” Yet, it is so easy to seek to be a log our whole lives: safe and hidden. 

There is a holy fire ablaze within each of us. There is no need to harness it.

Let our love be boundless. 

“In your nature, eternal Godhead, I shall come to know my nature. And what is my nature, boundless Love? It is fire, because you are nothing but a fire of love. And you have given humankind a share in this nature, for by the fire of love you created us.”

St.Catherine of Siena