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.

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/

Spam Thoughts

I was driving back home from a day of working in the hospital. The 45 minute commute is a time where I can relax and focus on the tasks ahead of me. All of a sudden, I get a call. My radio lights up with a number that is from the surrounding area.

Oh, maybe I need to get this.

I answer the phone and I am told I’m missing out on a great deal to update my healthcare insurance. SPAM.

Other times, the calls get a bit more sneaky. On these calls I am told if I don’t comply with what is requested the government will arrest me. SPAM. 

And other times, I answer and all I hear is dead silence. SPAM. 

These calls can be frustrating but most of all distracting. 

While spam calls are one of the most annoying daily events, right after an itch on the middle of your back you can’t reach, they teach a pretty valuable lesson.

A lot of times we have thoughts that are just like spam calls.

Thoughts that tell us things like:

you aren’t loved……you can’t get that grade……you are doing everything wrong……you won’t ever find peace……nothing matters….life will always be hard….etc.

The list goes on and on. 

For many people, these constant spam thoughts make it hard to live a joy-filled life.

What are we to do with these spam thoughts? Well, exactly what we do with the spam calls. Do not allow them to catch you in their spider web.

If we start answering these spam thoughts and having discussions with them, we begin to get caught in their trap.

Our emotions are sent up and down by the thoughts. We become confused and lose sight of our goals.

When the thoughts come, you will hear what they say, however you must immediately hang them up.

Do not question the thoughts.

Do not ask yourself why you are having such thoughts.

You must realize that these spam thoughts are just obstacles trying to derail you from your mission on this earth. God placed you here to remain focused and at peace. Do not allow spam thoughts to take your focus away from you.

In this life we will face much trouble trying to live a life of love. Allow yourself to rest in the presence of God, and the only way to do this is to focus on Him.

Recognize the spam in your mind, sharpen your focus like a sword, and live the life God has laid out for you.

When is their surgery?

Lately, I have been on my surgery rotation for medical school.

This is a unique rotation because I am given the opportunity to observe many different procedures. Sometimes I can even “scrub in”, which is medical jargon for assisting the surgeon.

At the start of my day, I go to the locker room and don my scrubs for the day. I grab a giant hairnet and throw it over my beautiful locks. Then I put covers over my shoes to protect them from any blood spills. I walk out of the changing room and head for the surgical waiting area.

The surgical waiting area is unique because this is where the patients are brought minutes before the surgery. They are wheeled in on their gurney and are met with the anesthesiologist and nurses who discuss the procedure for them. They are given an IV which will be for the medication used to put them asleep.

Before the surgeon comes in there is a waiting period where the patient is all alone. 

They sit there knowing, in just a few minutes, they will be having a very invasive procedure.

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Today, these experiences had me thinking.

How easy it is to remain cold in these settings.

When I am in the surgical waiting area, I usually am thinking about how tired I am or how I wish I had breakfast.

When I am in the surgical waiting room, I usually am thinking about what I am going to do after the procedure. How long will it take? Will the surgeon ask me any questions?

I am so quick to forget the facts of those around me.

The fact that the woman beside me barely speaks English and does not understand what is going on around her. 

The fact that the patient waiting for a very painful spine procedure looks filled with terror and is shivering. 

The fact that the patient to my right had an invasive procedure many times before and was overwhelmed with despair. 

These situations, though happening in a surgical waiting room, are very applicable to life itself. Those around us are in the midst of very desperate situations. Instead of putting ourselves in their situations and allow it to drive us to act for their betterment, we are quick to shy away.

We jump to turn inside ourselves instead of allowing ourselves to be an agent of change for our neighbor.

I believe this is all driven by fear. A fear response that pushes us to remain safe, comfortable, and cozy.

This week I challenge you to look for those around you that may be in their own surgical waiting room. Do not allow the fear of saying the wrong thing or putting yourself out there prevent you from being a light in a dark place.

Maybe someone is waiting for a test grade to come back in a class they are struggling with?

Maybe someone is having trouble finding a job after being laid off?

Maybe someone is just having a really bad day? 

Allow the shell society has created around yourself to slowly melt away.

Empathize and act.

You do not have to feel anything.

You do not have to feel like you are going to change the world.

It doesn’t take much to make a difference in someone’s life.

All you really need to do is notice. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Organist with One Arm

This morning I was sitting in Church when the music started.

This means that the priest is coming into the Church and the Mass is starting.

I never usually notice the music.

It provides a beautiful backdrop to the worship, but because it does not change much it is not something my mind wanders towards.

Today as the music was playing, I noticed the organist had a cast on her left arm.

She was playing with only her right hand.

Immediately, I started to notice the music.

I noticed that it sounded exactly the same. No note was missed. Everything was perfect.

For some reason, because she was only using one hand, it made me appreciate the music so much more.

 

I think this holds true to life in many ways.

Individuals that conquer through the struggle and still continue to use their gifts and talents are extremely admirable.

The one-arm organist proved a point today.

No matter the struggle, if you are using your gifts for the glory of God, nothing can stop you.

The harder the struggle the greater the final product.

Friends, I encourage you to look at the struggle placed before you today. Use your gifts anyway regardless of what you face.

Be like the one-armed organist who, even with a cast on, continued to use her gift for God’s glory.

 

The mind spins, the cross stands firm.

The Carthusian religious order’s motto goes something like this…

As the world spins, the cross stands firm.

Today I am going to change it up a bit.

As your mind spins, the cross stands firm. 

When everything does not make sense.

When you feel like the word confused doesn’t even do it justice.

When you feel like you keep getting hit by waves and can’t come up for air.

When anxiety, depression, fear, and discouragement attack you from all sides.

The cross stands firm.

As Christians, we must lean on this deep and powerful truth.

God is God and we are not.

God is our light and our guide.

In times of deep confusion and fear, we must listen to the still small voice and trust.

St. Pio said,

The most beautiful act of faith is the one made in darkness, in sacrifice, and with extreme effort.

You may feel lost right now. You may feel forgotten by God. However, you must realize that in this darkness is where you will find growth. In this uncertainty, you will grow in virtue and character. Do not waste this chance to be who God made you to be.

Your mind may be spinning a thousand miles an hour.

But friends, the cross stands firm. Unshaken.

Fix your eyes on Him who waits eagerly.

The confusion is a time where your faith will grow quicker and quicker.

All you must do is give the effort.

Faith is not Feelings

Yesterday I read the quote,

“It wasn’t nails that held Jesus to the cross but love.”

The truth is: God loves you with an infinite love. He died for you. He died for you. Let me repeat that: God died for you.

Most days the truth is hard to swallow. We may strive in our hearts to believe the truth of the Gospels, yet a lot of the time you may feel nothing. 

It’s ok to not feel a flutter in your chest when you contemplate the love of God.

You do not have to feel in order to believe.

What matters is constant perseverance.

Repeat to yourself the truths that will set you free.

Jesus died for me.

God loves.

I trust in Him.

I will not be afraid.

I will persevere.

I will never give up.

No matter what lies attack you on a daily basis, we must continue to call upon the truth even if it if they feel fake.

I want to remind you today just how much God loves you. It is so great that it is incomprehensible.

Feelings do not equal faith.

Faith is greater than your feelings.

Faith is freedom.

 

 

Microwave Moments

You go into your freezer and pull out that ice cream you have been waiting to eat all day. You grab a spoon from the drawer, open the lid, and dive right into the pint. Yet, the ice cream is as hard as a rock. You keep trying but you are just getting ice cream shavings. So you do the microwave trick.

You take the ice cream and put it in the microwave for ten seconds.

When you take it out it has softened a bit and now you can enjoy it.

Like the ice cream, there are many people whose hearts have hardened by their environment.

You try to talk with them or form relationships with them, yet whenever you try it’s like you are talking to a wall. They are cold. Some people can become quite ruthless.

It may be difficult to be kind towards these people. It takes a big dose of humility and a giant amount of patience. Yet, this is what we are called to do.

When we are kind, loving, patient, generous, caring, etc. towards individuals with a hardened heart it turns into a microwave moment. Though on the outside they may appear cold, a transformation is occurring inside of them. It doesn’t have to be big acts of kindness. Sometimes the smallest acts slip into the cracks of their heart easier.

People may condemn you and laugh at you. They may tell you that said person will never change. They will tell you to just leave them alone and move on.

However, this is not what Christ has called us to do. He has called us to live lives of pure love towards EVERYONE.

So continue to choose to love those with a hardened heart.

You may be their last hope.