Saturday, December 14, 2013

The Philippines!

If you didn't know……. This is my very spectacularly beautiful amazing fantabulous team -
Amber, Me, Alex, Genevieve, Rebecca

and we will be serving for the next year in the…
town of Sagay on the Island of Camiguin in the PHILIPPINES!!!

I'll be living in the lime green part!


From the little research I have done about the Island, I have learned a few things:
- Camuigun is the second smallest Island in the Philippines
- it looks like Jurassic Park when you're approaching it by ferry
- the people speak English- but their main language is Visayan (or Visaya or Bisaya ..not really sure how it's officially spelled)
- this island did NOT get hit by that Typhoon (Praise the Lord)
- it does rain a lot
- the people LOVE to karaoke and dance
- they have this delicious island fruit called lanzones (which Fr. Eric Leyble describes as a sweet grape that you have to peel),
- we'll be living in a typical bamboo style house
- of course we will be living amongst TONS of lizards (which we all know are just my favorite. not.)
- we'll be eating a lot of fish and rice and eggs…and ice cream.


This is the house we will be living in!
We are hoping to make some home improvements like screening in the porch and adding a front door. We also hope to add some cabinets in the kitchen and God willing, get a mini fridge to hold our leftovers. We are very excited to be living in a typical style house of the people!!!


It really does look like Jurassic Park.

For our ministries in Camiguin: we will be focusing on teaching Religion in Holy Rosary high school, starting a feeding program to give the students a hot meal every day, starting a Youth Group and a Choir, and possibly starting a Nursery School and visiting the people in the remote mountain villages.
To see what the past missionaries have worked on with the school, watch this video:


Along with our team serving in Camiguin, we will be about 7 hours away from the team of 3 families (The Romero's, The Bailey's, and The Seilhan's) in Malaybalay which is in that Mindanao section below.


Along with these Missionaries, there is a family of missionaries that are actually Filipino! The Leaño's have actually moved to where the Typhoon hit so they can really be a part of the relief services. Please read Lindsey Romero's blog to learn more about their relief work and how your donations have helped:

Also, if you'd like to donate to Family Mission's Company for us to personally support the relief efforts, you may donate here: DONATE TO THE PHILIPPINES HERE

SALAMAT SA DIOS! Thanks be to God!

Monday, December 2, 2013

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Mexicooo


Hola from General Cepeda!




It has been a glorious few days in General! The weather is cool, the people are friendly, the town is clean and safe, and the mission house already feels like home.



So lets talk about the cement slide…
Supposedly it’s popular around here to have a ginormous cement slide in your town. Who would have thought?


All of the kids and a couple of us older “kids” decided to go play on the huge cement slide right after we got here on Friday. I was a little terrified because it was huge…and cement. I was going to go up casually and try to go really slow down (because it is really slippery, so I’d go fast). Then, some of the kids (and older kids) decided to jump on top of me and push me down. Well, with all that weight, we went really really really fast. All of a sudden, I was flying in the air alone, then I hit the cement…tailbone first. So I guess you can figure the rest out…
Yes, I broke (or severely bruised) my tailbone.

All in all, it was really fun! My butt is hurting some when I sit on hard surfaces, but I am still so thrilled to be in Mexico.

Me and Lucy after I fell off of the slide!
I learned a Spanish song on my ukulele right before we went to the Rancho last night, which was exciting! It was awesome and very small. There were only two ladies in the chapel who were about to pray the rosary for this novena leading up to the feast day of Our Lady of Guadalupe. A few others joined us and we sang, prayed, heard testimonies from some of the missionaries and a few of the women at the ranchos, then we asked if anyone needed prayers and we prayed over them. It was a wonderful visit and I am so excited to go to different ranchos every day.

God Bless all of you and pray for us in Mexico!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

What's your sycamore tree?

Yesterday 7AM mass at St. Mary Magadelene in Abbeville was a very special one... not only did I wake up before 7AM and go to mass alone, I also heard the Gospel in a new and exciting way.

The Gospel is from Luke 19:1-10 (read here). While listening I honestly didn't think much of it. So my summary from just listening to the Gospel is (i'm paraphrasing) "Zacchaeus is a short man who climbed a tree to see Jesus and then Jesus saw him and said something along the lines of: 'get down you sinner so I can come stay at your house' then he came down from the tree and he was really pumped up" The End.

Thennn came the Homily to blow my mind.

The Priest explained how Zacchaeus was a sinner, but he really wanted to see Jesus in the flesh..but Zacchaeus was short and old and couldn't see over the crowd so he climbed a sycamore tree. He was willing to do whatever it took to see Jesus. I think tree climbing is a pretty difficult task, so much so that I have never done it and I have no desire to do so, but this tiny old man was so persistent and excited to see Jesus in the flesh that he climbed a tree!
After hearing this I: 1. felt like a baby for being afraid of climbing and 2. wondered if I would climb a tree to see Jesus in the flesh
But really...

The Priest then struck my heart chord by asking the question: "What things are you willing to do that is out of the ordinary to discover God?" What is my sycamore tree? hmmm... what is my sycamore tree? What am I willing to do that is radical and that requires sacrifice?
umm, MISSIONS!

Jesus is literally speaking to us saying, "You, oh sinner, I want to dine in your house. Will you invite me in?"
and with that invitation to let Jesus in, there is an overflowing joy...just as little old Zacchaeus hopped out of that tree with such haste to be with Jesus.

Grace does not come without sacrifice. Order and peace does not come without sacrifice. Jesus wants to help us change and to make the radical sacrifices to encounter Him in a more profound and intimate way.


What will you do that requires sacrifice for the greater good of your soul and the souls of many?
How will you be radical or out of the ordinary?
To what extreme will you go to see JESUS in the flesh?

What is your sycamore tree?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

"Glory Story"

Here at FMC, people sometimes share their "Glory Story" - just a moment where God swoops in and saves the day or you immediately pray for something and it happens or just any "wow" God moment.
Soooo, story time!

Yesterday I was praying and thanking God that I don't have to deal with Youth Ministry anymore. I've made myself believe that I am terrible at small group leading and I'm really awkward and I just can't relate with teens...and most of all I am not funny. Well, immediately after that, the director of FMC (Joseph Summers) asks me and 3 other Missionaries to work a Freshman retreat. In this moment I was just in shock and couldn't believe it, but it's so typical of God.

So this morning we leave at 6:15AM to work Notre Dame High School's Freshman Class retreat in Crowley, Louisiana. I decided to ask Jesus to please make me funny. I have just always wanted to be the funny one sometimes...I want people to laugh! I love it when people laugh!
I felt like if I could make the teens laugh, they could relate more to me and in turn maybe listen to me and in turn simply think I'm awesome ;)
Sooooo, I shared my simple prayer with 2 of the missionaries in the car on the way to the retreat and they seemed to get a kick out of it, but other than the initial giggle, we didn't make a big deal about it.
Well, as the 150 teens arrive in the KC Bingo Hall, I got a little nervous, but the retreat was SO fun. It was literally the most effective, fun, simple, and impacting Catholic high school retreat I have ever worked. After some of the main talks, we split into guy and girl groups, which was FABULOUS. Those girls are striving for holiness.
Anyway, I literally told one story or just an interrupting word or made a hand motion or noise and I had the entire room bursting in laughter...I have no idea what I said or how I did it... but for the rest of the day girls were telling me I am hilarious or so funny or (my personal favorite): "Have you seen Pitch Perfect? You remind me SO MUCH of Fat Amy." Ummmm, not sure how to react to that, but she is pretty funny hahahaha

At the end of the retreat, one of the missionaries told the girls what I prayed for...which in turn made them laugh even more...
I truly cannot remember a single thing I told those girls (holy spirit moment), but they were beautiful and I love them and even my little prayer to be funny was sincere and genuine - but simple - was answered!

God answers even our smallest prayers!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"The True Missionary is the Saint"



"I would like to encourage everyone to be a bearer of the good news of Christ and I am grateful especially to missionaries.... – who by accepting the Lord's call, leave their homeland to serve the Gospel in different lands and cultures." Pope Francis Message for World Mission Day 2013

Missions are kind of a big deal...If you didn't know that already. The Catholic Church and practically all Christian churches are all stressing the importance of World Missions Sunday. Well, what the heck is it? onefamilymission.org says that, "it is a day set aside for Catholics worldwide to recommit themselves to the Church's missionary activity through prayer and sacrifice."
At Intake, we faithfully read Pope John Paul II's Encyclical called Mission of the Redeemer (if you're feeling fancy - in Latin: Redemptoris Missio). This work by JPII is getting me super pumped up about Missions. He says in the encyclical that World Missions Day is a day in "which seeks to heighten awareness of the missions, as well as to collect funds for them, is an important date in the life of the Church, because it teaches how to give: as an offering made to God, in the Eucharistic celebration and for all the missions of the world." In this encyclical he says that the church is in the "new springtime" but Catholic Foreign Missionaries in the world are decreasing and the "missionary drive has always been a sign of vitality, just as its lessening is a sign of a crisis of faith." Honestly, we have a sick Church. Our Director, Joseph says that if our church was healthy we would have foreign and stateside missionaries in every parish and in every diocese throughout the world proclaiming the Gospel and serving the poor.

So I've gathered that this is the point of World Missions Day: to remind the church the importance of Missions, to renew the zeal for the Gospel, to increase knowledge of Missionary activity throughout the world, and to remind the Church that we are ALL called to be Missionaries.


In the time of the Apostles, being a missionary was a normal vocation and the entire church was missionary through witness of personal conduct and through proclaiming the Gospel whenever and wherever they could. Pope Francis even says that, "Everyone should be able to experience the joy of being loved by God, the joy of salvation! It is a gift that one cannot keep to oneself, but it is to be shared. If we want to keep it only to ourselves, we will become isolated, sterile and sick Christians. The proclamation of the Gospel is part of being disciples of Christ and it is a constant commitment that animates the whole life of the Church."

So if we, the church, do not act as the Apostles did and proclaim the Gospel - we are not being good Christians. We are withholding truth and goodness from those who have yet to hear the good news.

On this world missions sunday weekend, remember that we are in the New Springtime of our Church, we are ALL called to be missionaries - whether you are stateside or foreign, and it is our duty as Catholic's to proclaim the Good News of Salvation to all those who have never heard of it before!

So Church, I'm talking to all you fellow Catholic people, get off your tuckus and DO something!!! There are SOO many videos and writings made by many great Saints and Popes and little baby lay missionaries like me who have an abundance of information about the urgency of missionary activity. So the resources and tools are out there, now it's your chance to getcha-self educated. Everyone of every culture, race, and belief have respect for Pope Francis so let's listen to this holy man when he says for us to make a mess of things!

Let's not be lukewarm or mundane; let's be SAINTS!

"The Missionary is the Saint"



Thursday, October 3, 2013

Jesus Thinks He's Funny

Small recap of the past week at Big Woods:
1. everyone is getting sick
2. the Bailey Family has lice
3. everyone is sick
4. we have bed bugs

Oh yeah, it's been crazy. Community life has definitely not been a breeze, but somehow (by the grace of God) we are not all going crazy and laughter still fills all of the rooms. When one of the babies started getting a cough, we knew it wouldn't be long till it spread to almost all 40+ of us. Then, the whispering began of one of the 4 Bailey daughters having lice eggs in her hair... of course it spread. Each day another person gets infected with the sore throat, coughing, sneezy, and achy-ness and the smell of the essential oils fills up the rooms.

In the Annex (the place where I live with 3 other girls), 2 of the girls have been complaining of being itchy and jokingly claimed it was bed bugs. Well, I thought they were just being dramatic because I wasn't itchy except for my absurd amounts of mosquito bites on my legs. Since they thought they may be allergic to something in the bed, they got some plastic covers to put on it and then they found it.... bed bugs. So we've been living almost 3 weeks among bed bugs that have bitten us and have comfortably lived in our house among us. This afternoon after our work day we had to take out all of our clothes in trash bags, seal them and put them outside so the sun can suffocate and kill the bugs. All four of us put our clothes outside, took 3 pairs of clothes and put them in the dryer on high heat and showered so we can have clothes until Sunday. Luckily tomorrow morning we are having an exterminator come and fumigate our whole place but now we are all separated living in empty spaces around Big Woods.
After putting all of our clothes in trash bags outside, we left to go to Christ in the City which is like a Young Adult Adoration/Praise and Worship/Fellowship thing. I couldn't help but laugh at all that is going on.

This week I have been in really great communication with Jesus. Like, really good. I've just been straight up and treating him like a friend and a teacher and a brother. I told Jesus that I am happy to be here and to have this wonderful strong two-way relationship with Him. I also said how things have been easy...I haven't really struggled with anything. I like everyone, I haven't been worked too hard, the service days have been really good for my prayer life and have been very helpful in teaching me how to pray with people. Of course, sometimes I get overwhelmed with studying and reading and comprehending all of our reading material...but if that is my biggest struggle - praise God! This has been easy so far, no manual labor to make me sweat, the roomies are so dynamic and fun, the community is crazy beautiful... I have it easy! No complaints. HA soooo, have you ever heard of the saying "be careful what you say/pray for and make sure you are really specific"?
Well, God just thinks He's reaaaal funny. Today I overslept, ran into a lot of inanimate objects, almost broke my ankle, then almost broke my foot, found out we had bed bugs, moved all of my stuff outside, shrunk some of my clothes and then finally I thought about, "What if it rains and all of our clothes are outside?" ...not even a millisecond after this thought, one of my roommates runs in and says, "you will not believe it. it's pouring." Soooo we had to go get our stuff and move it under the back porch of the Big House.
Normally, I probably would be crying because it is all just so overwhelming... but I am laughing. This is insane, but it is a beautiful adventure. I haven't complained once because there is nothing to complain about! God is good, life is good, my family back home is good - so there is no need to worry. God is completely taking care of me and I have absolutely no need to worry. Although my roommates now may thing the bed bug epidemic may be my fault since I told God my life is "easy" hahaha

But really, we should rejoice in the good times and the bad, when we are sick or healthy, when we are infected with lice or bed bugs or when we are..not infected with lice or bed bugs. "I trust in your faithfulness. Grant my heart joy in your help, That I may sing of the Lord, 'How good our God has been to me!'" Psalm 13:6

So with my scrapes and bruises and sore throat and now that I am in a clean bug free bed with a joy filled spirit I can say: "In peace I shall lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me secure." Psalm 4:9

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Theology of the Body in the New Evangelization (Part One)

Theology of the Body and the New Evangelization. Whew, these two statements that are quite overwhelming.

Theology of the Body (TOB) is a collection of Blessed John Paul II's General Audiences while he was Pope. He examines and explains the "nuptial meaning of the body" and practically rediscovers the meaning of our existence and really, the meaning of life in general.

The New Evangelization is simply proclaiming the Gospel, trying to convert people, getting people into church, and even getting Catholics who are in a state of complacency back to being on fire for their faith. The word "evangelization" and "missionary" are practically synonyms. Adding the word "new" to "evangelization" makes the definition more like: proclaiming the Gospel ad gentes (to all the Nations) and outreaching to fallen away Catholics.

Since childhood, I have been very affectionate and loving. If I would take the "The Five Love Languages" quiz, I'd probably be Words of Affirmation, Receiving/Giving gifts...maybe Acts of Service and Quality Time too hahaha
So, once I grew older and learned about Theology of the Body, I was hooked. Nothing can be more affirming than the Song of Solomon in the Bible. Nothing you read can make you feel more loved and beautiful than TOB and Song of Songs. When you meet a person who loves and lives out TOB, you just know it.
For example, I have a friend named Roch and he is like THE ultimate man. I picture him as Lazarus...if Jesus was around today and Roch died, Jesus would weep. Jesus' heart would be broken. Just how David is a man after Jesus's Heart... Roch is too - I just know it. Roch embodies Theology of the Body and it is evident on how he lives out his faith and the way he speaks and the way he listens. His temperament or disposition and demeanor IS Theology of the Body and his example to others promotes the New Evangelization. His love and gentle personality is what makes people yearn to be true genuine Catholic.
If you'd meet someone with a Fire and Brimstone, someone may not be apt to want to join whatever organization. But, if you would meet someone like Roch - a gentle, kind, welcoming, holy man - you'd be more apt to do whatever he's doing.

In prayer the past two weeks, Song of Songs has been very present in my life. Last week in community morning prayer, a specific line said: "I rejoice heartily in the LORD, in my God is the joy of my soul; For he has clothed me with a robe of salvation, and wrapped me in a mantle of justice, Like a bridegroom adorned with a diadem, like a bride bedecked with her jewels." Isaiah 61:10

Then, when I went to do my personal prayer, I opened Scripture to Psalm 139:13-14 "I praise you for I am wonderfully made." To this I made the connection that the Lord takes delight in us. We, the church, are his bride and He is our bridegroom. We are all jewels in His eyes and that we are beautiful and wonderfully made. I have no reason to be self-conscious because God made me the way he did for a reason and I am exactly the way I am supposed to be for Him. In His eyes, I am beautiful. Reaffirming my realization during Desert Day, I read from Song of Songs 7:1 "...your rounded thighs are like jewels, the handiwork of an artist..." Even in my insecurities and my disillusions about my self image, I "shall be a glorious crown in the hand of the Lord, a royal diadem held by my God"..."you shall be called my delight", "as a bridegroom rejoices in his bride so shall your God rejoice in you." The Lord takes delight in my fat thighs and what I think are my imperfections.
I just love the comparisons of the Church being the Bride! mmmmm, so good.



I have been reading "At the Heart of the Gospel" by Christopher West which is about "reclaiming the body for the new evangelization" and is recommended by many chairman of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) and many elite professors of philosophy and theology and authors. Christoph Cardinal Schönborn, cardinal archbishop of Vienna; general editor, Catechism of the Catholic Church; and grand chancellor, International Theological Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family said that this is a "teaching so urgently needed for an effective proclamation of the Gospel."

I'll have to update everyone on this book about Theology of the Body and the New Evangelization in my next Blog!

*Happy Lord's Day*

Saturday, September 21, 2013

We Must Go

The life of a Missionary, man - it is GLORIOUS.

It has been an unbelievably awesome first week at Intake at Big Woods in Abbeville. I have had an incredible experience living in community with over 37 other missionaries. The transition from living in a house with my parents in my own room in Thibodaux to living with 4 girls in a (really nice and home-y) trailer in Abbeville has actually been easier than I expected. God has definitely given me the graces I need to live through this transitional period. The first night was very very difficult because everything hit me like a ton of bricks. I got in bed and prayed the rosary but I cried and cried and cried. I didn't want to wake anyone up, so I went to the bathroom, sat on the floor and cried for a good while. Everything hit me... I moved away for the first time, I can't call my mommy and daddy whenever I want to, I am literally making a complete life change, I am living simply, and I am living amongst people I don't know. It was so overwhelming and terrifying and I felt like I was a baby. I was a small baby girl sitting on the floor absolutely terrified and alone. Then I looked up at an image on our wall of Jesus' face, in agonizing pain, with blood dripping from his head from the crown of thorns. I told Him I was afraid, but I was reassured that if I unite my sadness and suffering with Jesus, blessings will pour fourth into my life and my families life and all of the lives of the people I am praying for. My mindset since I have made the decision to drop my life at home and become a missionary to proclaim the Gospel and serve the poor in a foreign country has been: "I am a daughter of God, with childlike faith I am fully relying on God for EVERYTHING. He is enough. His grace is sufficient for me. He is literally all I need." I stopped crying, went to sleep, and woke up a different woman. I spoke with Brooke, one of the FMC Directors, about my tears that night and she knew exactly what to say to calm my heart and explained how to discern that the spirit of anxiety and fear is absolutely not of God. After I spoke with her, we had community prayer time (family style) and everyone laid hands on me and some of the others who were feeling anxious and scared and overwhelmed. I am so happy. I really and truly love it here and I'm glad I got my good first night cry out of the way because every cry since then has been of pure and complete joy. I CANNOT believe this is my life!!!

Just a glimpse of my day: I wake up around 7:30AM and pray the Rosary in bed. Then as a community we have breakfast, praise and worship and morning prayer (community prayer is always at least an hour) in the Big House. After community prayer we have a teaching workshop then a break for either service/chores/or lunch prep, then we have a lunch study after we eat. After cleaning up we have personal prayer time and rest, then dinner, community prayer/praise and worship/fellowship, and lights out at 11PM (but we're always finished around 9ish).  Sundays are our free days and every day is a little different, but that is the general schedule. We are also spilt into 3 groups and are assigned either breakfast, lunch, or dinner prep each day. Along with preparing one of the meals and cleaning up after meals with my group, I am also assigned personal chores. My chore is to organize the community pantry and fridge and to help with the Proclaim Conference preparations (EVERYONE should come to the conference..it's going to be AMAZING. Seriously, come see me). I actually learned how to make Taco Soup and Spaghetti (everyone survived, Praise God!) so I am pretty excited all that I'm learning. The day by day schedule is so ideal because it is the perfect balance of community time and personal prayer time and rest time and workshop time. Living in community has been the ultimate blessing. It has calmed my spirit and quenched my anxiety and my fears and is re-ordering my life. I just cannot put into words how blessed I am to be living in such a wonderful community.

This is the question I have been asked the most, "Breana, you really can't date or drink or text for a whole year?!? You're going to DIE!" Well actually, I made a first year commitment to daily personal prayer time for at least 15 minutes, daily personal reading of Scripture, no personal use of phone/internet other than 2 hours on Sunday, and no alcohol or dating/romantic relationships. Of course it will be a challenge at times because things will always be challenging, but these challenges will bear good fruit. Dude, why not sacrifice to benefit the Kingdom? Why not sacrifice if it will save souls?


The other night during community Praise and Worship we sang a song called "God of Justice." I've never heard of it before, but watching and listening to everyone pour out their heart singing this song...oh man. As I watched one of the little Eckstine children sing, I just cried and cried (The Eckstine's are a family from Oregon with 10 children. Their youngest daughter, Rebekah, who I believe is 4, was the one I was watching). The song says, "We must go. Live to feed the hungry, stand beside the broken. We must go. Stepping forward, keep us from just singing, move us into action. We must go. Fill us up and send us out!" She is FOUR years old and singing these words. She is living to feed the hungry and to stand beside the broken. I know you're thinking, "who in their right mind would take their children to live in a third world country?" Umm, those children are SAINTS. Who wouldn't take their children to a third world country to proclaim the Gospel and to save souls? Do you want your family to be Saints? If we don't tell these people the good news, who will??? How selfish is it that we live in the world consumed by our culture where everything is about me me me and I will just dieee without my cell phone. Dude, some of these people have probably never heard of or touched a cell phone. Over 7 Billion people in the world have never heard of JESUS. Are you kidding me?
Why aren't there more missionaries? Why aren't people taking every opportunity they can to go out to all the world and proclaim the good news that there is more to this life??? I cannot believe that people around the world think that this life is it. I am being trained to be sent out to share this news that there is salvation! There is hope for the future! There is Heaven and there is a God who loves and knows you and want to have a personal relationship with you! This world is fleeting and this life is temporary, but Heaven is forever. For eternity. How can we deprive the world of this good news??
I can't... I have to go. I have to tell the world the good news. Jesus is sending me on the great commission.

Whew, sorry if that was a little intense hahaha! But I am passionate about this. I believe in this. I know that this is exactly how I'm supposed to be living my life. I have been keeping all of my family, friends, donors, and benefactors in my prayers and have been lifting you all up in community prayer as well (especially praying for my dad's work situation). Thank you all so much again for your generous monetary support and prayer support for my family and I!!! We appreciate each and every one of you seaux much.


If you'd like to read more about The Great Commission from Jesus Himself:
Mark 16:14-20
Matthew 28:16-20

Saturday, September 7, 2013

You Lead Me

As I rode in the passanger seat of my moms car on Hwy 90 going home to Thibodaux, I had a flashback to Sunday, August 18 - the day my mom picked me up from the Family Missions Company 'Come and See' Retreat. We were listening to the Christian band All Sons and Daughters when my mom was hysterically crying because she did not want me to become a Missionary. I was incredibly calm the whole ride knowing that if God was calling me to be a Missionary, He would comfort my mom. She kept saying that I could not go until she got a sign from God (she actually said, "He needs to come down here and TELL ME." But who's quoting?). I told her that she had to listen. ...bad idea... She said that she does listen and she prays really hard but He doesn't tell her anything. She had just been crying and crying and scared all week. I understood where she was coming from. You see, I was on the retreat crying as well. I didn't want to disobey my parents and leave our house if it made them so upset, but I also did not want to avoid or decline the call that Jesus had so graciously given me. In the end I had to make the decision if I would totally rely on God to take care of me and most importantly, take care of my family. Back to the "sign" thing that my mother was asking God for. I kind of took a nap in the car but then I dramatically woke up, wiped the drool off my face, and said, "YOU SEE! This is how God sends signs!!!" The song that was playing...if that wasn't a sign, I'm not sure what is! Well, she ignored me. And I completely understand...I would have ignored me too initially if I were in her shoes.
The song that was playing is called "Called Me Higher" and I've never noticed what the words meant until that car ride. The lyrics made me realize that it would be easy to stay in the comfort of home and the routine of my daily life... but God has called me higher and deeper and I will go where He will lead me - because what could be better than that? He opened up the door for me and I recognized it and I want to run through it. I want to run to Him. I cannot get enough. Even though it was Hell watching my mom and dad suffer, I was in some type of mystical ecstasy... the God of the Universe is calling ME to serve the poor and to have a direct encounter with Jesus...every single day. He is calling ME to be a missionary. Dude, I still cannot even fathom it. Of course, mom didn't see that the song was about me.
Fast forward to this week. I was listening to my music and she walks in and said, "I like this band. They sing a song and it's you." Well, forgetting all about the car ride and the song (because I subconsciously blocked out my mothers suffering), I kept playing all their songs to find the one she was talking about. Once it hit me, I played it and she started crying and she said, "Breana, it's you." Then she started singing along with the parts she knew. Ahh, so cute. I love it when she sings and when she dances and when she embarrasses me. I've always loved it. Who wouldn't be proud of their cool crazy mom?!

So this all leads me to night before last. Me, some college church friends, and my mom went to the Audrey Assad concert in Lafayette (which is near Abbeville). The concert was incredible, of course, but watching my mom love the concert was so much more incredible. Seeing my family encounter Jesus is.. ahhh.. it's just the most wonderful thing. My mom was actin the fool at this concert and she was enjoying EVERY SECOND of it!
Anyway, on the way home, we took the same Highway as we did going home from the Come and See Retreat. We were on Hwy 90 and listening to All Sons and Daughters and "Called Me Higher" comes on and she tells everyone in the car that this song is about me. So we sang it together and I knew she was probably tearing up a little bit, but this time she was not crying out of anger or fear; she is proud of me. She understands that I am saying yes to God's call. Why not give just 2 years of my life to God as a Missionary? (I mean I hope I am called to more years of missionary life...but He's the Boss.)
In 19 days my mother made a radical change from being so upset and angry and almost standoff-ish to the idea of listening to God in different ways to listening to Him in the quiet of her heart and to scripture and through the kindness of others. As my dad said, "In the 62 years I've been alive, God had never talked to me." No. That's a lie. God may speak to you through images, art, music, people, scripture, the sacraments... you just can't be close minded. You have to open your heart to listen to the whisper.


If you'd like to hear the song: Called Me Higher by All Sons and Daughters

"I will be Yours, I will be Yours for all my life..."

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Praise God From Whom All Blessings Flow!

As of today, I will be leaving for the Family Mission's Company base in Abbeville in 18 days. I have so many mixed emotions because everything is happening so fast, but I am keeping myself busy so I don't have much time to think about it. I still have to speak at masses, figure out how a raffle/silent auction works, work on my talks at the different churches I will speak at, do some baking, plan what I will say at St. Joseph Manor, organize a jambalaya dinner fundraiser (God Bless the Faucheux's), do some thrift shopping for more modest clothing, and most importantly - be present with the people I love.
Thank you for your prayers for my family and I, we definitely feel them! From the beginning of the week till now, mom and dad's dispositions have completely changed. From our house feeling like a "morgue" last week to now everyone pitching in on fundraising and organizing this week.
It is not typical for my family to be on the "receiving line" because we are usually on the giving line. Jesus is definitely teaching us how to give and receive love in new ways.
Thibodaux is such a small town where it seems like everyone know's everyone's business. Although there is some truth to that, Thibodaux is also one of the most Catholic towns in Louisiana and probably Nationally (in my humble opinion, HA!). There are six Catholic Churches, a perpetual adoration chapel, and two religious stores in Thibodaux alone...not to mention that our Diocese is on FIRE in every aspect - vocations, youth ministry... literally everything. I love the Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, it is unlike any other, we are like a breeding ground for holy holy holy vocations. I love it.

I am so incredibly thankful that I was blessed into this family-in this town-in this state. The people my family and I have surrounded ourselves with are second to none. I don't have a doubt in my mind that my family will be okay when I move away. Of course it will be a hard transition at first for all of us, but I am moving into a new huge family (not replacing my parents at all. no way that could ever happen.) and I am leaving my family in the care of a faith community that will lead them to Heaven.
When I made my Confirmation, Bishop said that our parents have to pray for us to get to Heaven - even when they die. It is their goal as parents to get me and my sister to Heaven. I always felt it was my job to get my mom, dad, and sister to Heaven. I wanted to be an example to them that it is necessary to love Jesus more than you love anything else in the whole world. This life is temporary, Heaven is forever. Our minds cannot even grasp on the concept of forever and that is why it is so important that everyone should strive to live a life with Heaven being the goal.
My parents have formed me into the person I am today. They taught me right from wrong, good manners, the importance of giving, how to serve others, and how to be a compassionate and loving Catholic daughter. God bless them for giving me a guilty conscious and for their sacrifice. They sacrificed everything to put my sister and I through Catholic School and I know for a fact that we wouldn't be the women we are today if we didn't go to St. Joseph or E.D.White. The sacrifices they made for us can be compared to the sacrifice on the cross. I know my parents have suffered to give my sister and I opportunities to truly live. They gave us everything so we be kids for as long as we possibly could. Even to this day, my parents are a beautiful witness of sacrifice. They would literally do anything to help people. They have pure servant hearts. The way they have raised me reminds me of the quote, "To whom much is given, much is to be expected" - Luke 12:48. It would literally be selfish of me to keep everything my parents have taught me and not spread that throughout the world.
Ever since I was younger, I would say that "when I grow up, I want to help people." Then when I got into high school I would say, "If I could have any job, I would volunteer somewhere different every month. That would be the perfect job for me."
When the call to missions was put on my heart, I knew that it would be selfish for me to say no. This is because "to whom much is given, much is to be expected." I feel as though God has hand picked me -that he has put me in the exact place He needs me to be. The people I have met and surrounded myself with, the experiences I have had, the places I have traveled, the opportunities I have had, the things I have learned are all things that have led me to this moment in my life. The moment when I can introduce myself as a Catholic Missionary.

*Huge thank you to all who have donated to help my journey to spread the Gospel to all the Nations and a special shout out to the Parishioners of St. Joseph Co-Cathedral who have helped me reach my goal for Intake 2013!* PRAISE GOD FROM WHOM ALL BLESSINGS FLOW!

If you'd like to donate to me: http://www.fmcmissions.com/portfolio/breana-olivier/gallery/missionaries/

Friday, August 23, 2013

To practice day by day Love, Honor, Truth

Tonight I was driving home pretty late from visiting with some church friends in Vacherie and I was listening to the new Audrey Assad CD, Fortunate Fall, when I had mini revelations and made so many connections in my brain that I just had to share. I know I will be jumping back and forth a lot, but bear with me, this is just how my mind functions...

This whole week has been a wonderful emotional roller coaster as I have been journeying with my sorority during their Recruitment process. Recruitment is a time where girls who are interested in joining a sorority get to meet each sorority on campus. The first night is Philanthropy night, where they learn about the service and philanthropy and make a little craft for the girls to donate to whatever cause. The next night is Slideshow where the girls see what the active members do throughout the year. The last night is Preference where the girls have to make their final decision and they get to hear personal testimonies from some active members. Then Bid Day when make their official choice and they get their bids and meet the chapter. It's really a lot more than that, but this was just to give you a short summary of it for clarification purposes.

Phi Mu has been my home for what feels like a lifetime, but has only been about a little over a year and a half since I officially became a member. It has always had a major impact on my life, but I had never had the "two by four" moment (two by four moment: when something finally hits you and it makes so much since that it's like you got in the face by a two by four. wow, that it sounds worse than it is..). This Summer, the little wonders and joys of Phi Mu have been revealed to me by my peers and especially the comparisons of Phi Mu and my personal faith journey. With discerning Mission life, the Phi Mu Creed has played such a big part of my prayer journey.

Tonight while I was driving home I noticed how bright and beautiful the moon was! I wanted to get a really good look at it, but the trees kept getting in the way. As weird as it sounds, I was thinking about how God reveals beauty slowly. If he revealed beauty all at once, it wouldn't be a mystery and it simply wouldn't be as beautiful. So as I was catching little glimpses of the moon, I was anticipating on how beautiful it would be once I saw the moon in all it's glory. Now, with Phi Mu on the brain, I thought of Recruitment. If the Phi Mu chapter would reveal all of it's beauty and mystery in one night of recruitment, the potential new members would be so overwhelmed that they couldn't take it in. Beauty is revealed slowly. When I went through the recruitment process for the first time, I had never thought of it in that way. It was just 3 nights of explaining different facets of Phi Mu. When in reality, each night is a slow revelation of the beauty of a bond that simply cannot be explained until you live it out. Just as in the church. The beauty of the church cannot be revealed or explained in one sitting or even in 3 nights...you have to live it out. Then, you can see that with each day, you learn more and more and the mysteries are revealed. Technically there will always be some mysteries, but that's what makes life fun. But the point is, that beauty is revealed slowly.
Each night of recruitment our creed is somewhat introduced to the potential new members, but it is a slow process. So by the final day of recruitment, when they hear the entire chapter say it as one body, they can really take it in. They can understand that each line has a deeper meaning, That service and God is at our core, that our Creed defines us as women and really as human beings. If someone meets a Phi Mu and has an interaction with her, they should know that she stands out from the crowd, that she is compassionate, that she is selfless, that she is a servant, that she radiates joy, that she is a Phi Mu lady.

When I was writing my application for Family Missions Company, the Phi Mu Creed was on my mind and heart. It hit me that our Creed is literally my life. It is a missionary Creed. "To lend to those less fortunate a helping hand. To think of God as a protector and guide of us all." Literally every line of the creed is beaming from my heart.
I have met a lot of people in my short twenty years of living who have shaped me and molded me and broke me and pieced me back together. But Phi Mu right now, in this moment, is exactly what I needed... their values and ideals are an echo of the church, in my opinion. Knowing that I had my family's support, my church family's support, and my Phi Mu family's support helped clarify my mind to answer YES confidently to God's call.

From my point of view of Recruitment this past week, little beauties were being revealed to me in such a different and special way. Each line of the songs and the creed spoke to the depths of my little heart. I was moved so much that I began to cry. Just as when I am in mass and things finally click and the beauty and mystery and majesty of God is slowly being revealed, it can bring you to tears.

From the drive, to the music, to the moon, to my sisters in Phi Mu, to my family, to my calling, to my God... the beauties have been revealed and everything is starting to make sense. If God would have revealed all of this to me in one day, I might have died of joy. But revealing His love slowly, I am able to take in the wonders of the world with great anticipation and peace.

"Long as you are in my heart, we'll never say goodbye"
Love in our very special bond.





Genesis 31:49

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

FMC Come and See

"God doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called."
My Great Aunt, Sister Denis O.Carm., told me this on the day of her award ceremony where she won the prestigious honor: Nun of the Year Award for the State of Louisiana. This tiny 86(ish) year old nun all dressed in brown began crying as she spoke of her deep and passionate love of God and the sacrifice she made leaving home at the young age of 15 to enter the Convent.
Now you may ask, "Breana, what in the heck does this have to do with you?" Well, you see... God is not calling me to the Convent, but for some reason he is calling me to something with deep passionate love and the sacrifice of leaving home - Missions.

I have always known Missions was the answer to my prayers, but it was to find the time and the place and the "fit." For a while I have kept this calling to myself, but this Summer I really dived deeper into prayer about mission life and if this is what He is calling me to, then with who? Finding the right mission group is like trying to find a good husband...hard. But with prayer, it is very practical and possible. I wanted to find a mission group that was, of course, Catholic. Some of the other aspects I was hoping to find in a Catholic lay mission group were love of the sacraments, some kind of group that strived for poverty and obedience and sacrifice, and a good community life. Lately I have come to notice that my life is becoming so cluttered and noisy that I get distracted from the bigger picture that is life, love, and serving others for Jesus.

When the call to missions was becoming more and more clear, I began to get nervous. "What if I'm just making these things up in my head and he really isn't calling me?" "What if I hold off on this call and just do what I want to do...which is finish school and live in the comfort of my home with mommy and daddy?" Then I complained, "But I really am attached to my mom and family, I am Vice President of Phi Mu, I have a job, I am a Junior in College, I am an Ambassador for the University...I'm living a pretty decent and comfortable life, can I just be a missionary and serve you later?" Then came the, "What if He really is calling ME? Lord, I am not worthy of such a call!!! ("he doesn't call the qualified, he qualifies the called.")
After all of these crazy, unrealistic, and fantasy thoughts went in and out of my head, I began to do some research online and tried to open myself up to prayer in a way that I had never prayed before. I said, "Lord, if this is really you, and you are really tugging my heart to missions, please make this clear and obvious to me, your most stubborn daughter." Then I found Family Missions Company...the only website that google made look cool. Their image, my beloved Holy Family and the World and the beginning of their charisms say: "we are Catholic lay missionaries responding to the Lord's call to proclaim the Gospel and serve the poor here, and to the ends of the earth." What?! SO holy!! What I love most - the families!!! These people take not only their spouse, but their babies to the ends of the earth to proclaim the Gospel and serve the poor! Dang.Shoot.

I stalked the entire website and loved every part of it and then I found a Come and See link. I immediately signed up and began to prepare spiritually. I watched videos and prayed about if I could see me there, if I could see myself as a FMC Missionary. I felt peace, but there was that little bit of inner worry of, "what if something happens at home and I have to come back, but they won't let me leave" - low and behold, the Gospel at mass was: "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." ...ruhhroohhh. There it was, a straight up sign from God. Of course, as a stubborn daughter, my eyes got big and I thought, nahhh, He wasn't saying that to me. HA!
Well, a few weeks later I went on a Pilgrimage to Canada and I became close to nearly every single human being on that trip (God Bless 'em). I was speaking to this wonderful couple about my hopes and dreams and prayers of my life and how I felt a call to Missions. They said that God will make it very clear. Immediately after this encounter we went into mass, I read the reading, sat down, and the Gospel was.... "Follow Me now, and let the dead bury their own dead."
God was absolutely not messin around with this call! After this pilgrimage and as time went on, my desire for worldly things decreased, my desire for acceptance decreased, my desire to love increased, my desire to serve increased. God has molded and shaped my heart to prepare for something great.
Even during the entire Come and See for FMC, though I was having an inner battle of sorts, I still felt this overwhelming peace and joy of serving God's poor in Missions.

I am really excited about my journey with FMC. God is teaching me to love in new ways, He is expanding my heart so I can love more, He is taking care of me. He is teaching me how to solely put my trust in Him and how to rely on Him in all my needs, troubles, cares, and worries.



"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the water, where ever you will call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior."

Thursday, August 8, 2013

St. Anne, St. Anne...


Today (8/7/13) I actually didn't wake up for mass, whoops! Father Shawn won't let me hear the end of it. I also missed the group picture, the old people were upset with me hahahaWe Ate breakfast then got on the bus to go to Old Quebec City, which actually looks like a very clean version of New Orleans. Our fearless leader, Corrine, a tiny feisty Italian old woman, led us on a tour to a few of her favorite churches in the city. I got to light a candle in every church we went to to pray for all of the intentions I have been carrying with me on this pilgrimage.We left the Old Quebec City to head to St. Anne de Beaupré, which is the largest shrine to St. Anne in North America. Blessed Pope John Paul II visited the shrine and blessed the statue and said that whatever intention a Pilgram brings to the statue will be answered. Behind the huge statue of St. Anne holding baby Jesus is a relic of St. Anne's arm bone. To see it was kind of incredible...the arm that held Mary and Jesus. Dang.



All of the people on this trip are hilarious. One of the ladies on the trip said I should pray for a man. She told me to say, "St. Anne, St. Anne, bring me a man as fast as you can!" Needless to say, I prayed this to the arm bone...I prayed for God's plan for me and my future spouse and our vocations. I really love St Anne, she's so good. Can you imagine what she was like? She had the perfect daughter, so she had to have been a fabulous mother.We took a little tour of the church and learned all of the meaning behind the mosaics on the floors, walls, and ceilings. Every single pew had a different animal carved onto the side of it. Every single thing in that church has a meaning. The ceiling is a mosaic of the life of St. Anne and Jociam and Mary. In the church down the stairs, there is a huge chapel. Ahh, it's Immaculate! The mosaics and tiles are all shades of blue and there are incredible paintings of the Saints. The paintings were like nothing I've ever seen before; they were so modern and life like and the colors were bright and rich. It literally looked like you could reach out your hand an touch them. I just can't even think of words to describe how beautiful they were.In the back of the chapel was a statue of St. Anne with another relic that you could venerate. (Venerate- to kiss/honor). It was truly a remarkable experience. Outside of the shrine was a gift shop, a place with a Priest to bless the items you buy, life size stations of the cross, replicas of the Holy Stairs, and many more things. This really sweet lady, Ms. Debbie, was going to climb the holy stairs alone.. So I went with her. (Flashback: I went to Rome when I was in the 3rd grade (2001) to see my Godfather be ordained a Deacon at the Vatican. While we were there my sister climbed the Holy Stairs on her knees). So I was able to climb the replica of the holy stairs on my knees while saying certain prayers on them. I carried my intentions up the stairs to especially pray for all my friends and family who are suffering. After the stairs, we had to get back on the bus to the madonna house. We watched the beginning of "The Way" and I wrote some of my postcards. Once I got off the bus, I had a wonderful chat with a couple from New Hampshire. Maria and Vic Castallano are literally one of the most beautiful couples I have ever met. I really love them and I hope and pray to have a marriage like theirs. The way they communicate and love each other can easily be compared to the Holy Family. They just listened to me and spoke to me with such concern, kindness, and true interest. They told me to keep traveling and to keep having an open heart and not to get sucked into the rat race of society. They recommended I listen to Matthew Kelley (A Catholic speaker) to confirm the life that I live is a path to holiness and will help me not worry about bills or insurance- God will provide for me. It was so comforting. I also told them about how I am discerning Missionary life and going on a Come and See retreat next week. I asked them to pray for my parents openness. Maria asked me how I knew that Missionary life would be good for me. I explained how I grew up with a family who love to volunteer and serve, my mother and grandmother have been wonderful role models in my life. I also told her that when I was freaking out about it, I went to mass and the reading was "let the dead bury the dead" (Foreshadow: low and behold - the same Gospel would be read at the next mornings mass). Jesus calls us to take up our cross, leave it all behind, and follow Him. I hope that I can answer this call with brave conviction and I know that if this is my calling, Jesus will give me and my parents the graces to see through it!Anyway, I relaxed a little bit and went with some older ladies to the gift shop then to watch the Rosary walk and then to Adoration in the little stone chapel.After we had a little party for one of the kids who turned 18. So we played catch phrase and sang a little bit, it was a blast! These New England folks remind me of my family, they are wild and rowdy and soooo funny.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oh Canadaaa

Today (8/6/13) we left for Canada. I woke up around 6AM to write some more petitions from my friends and family. Aaron came get me and Emmalee around 8AM and we waited at church for about 30-45 minutes for the bus to pick us all up. There are about 50 of us on this trip to Canada, mostly old people. About 10 of us are between ages 14-22. It didn't take long at all to get to the border. We hopped off the bus at the border, 2 men scanned our passports in less than 5 minutes and we were back on the bus! We reached our first stop, The Sacred Heart's Shrine of Beauvoir Canada (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada) fairly quickly. It was this beautiful little stone chapel filled with red candles burning with Pilgrims petitions to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. At the altar was a beautiful statue of Jesus and His most  Sacred Heart. Humbly tucked along the back wall was a pretty large frame with hundreds of Saints relics! It was so neat and actually the first time I saw the relic of my patroness, St. Cecile. After spending some time in the chapel I went into the gift shop for some sacred heart holy oil and to check out all of the French items (since Quebec is a French speaking area). We had a very large lunch... for being pilgrims who are supposed to sacrifice hahaha
I got to eat with the wonderful Priest hanging out with us for the pilgrimage. He's a hefty Irish man with a cigarette in one hand and jokes in the other. He loves being a Priest; so passionate about what he teaches people. We spoke a lot about Theology of the Body and the simple but profound teachings of Bl Pope John Paul II. And how his teachings go hand in hand with every teaching of the church; even down to just simply being a human being.
After lunch we had the option of going on the "Gospel Walk" with the french Parish secretary lady. She was so sweet, not a bad bone in her body. There was a small group of us on the walk an she had a little Britney Spears headset with one of our boys carrying the speaker. It started off at a statue of Mary because even though it is all about Jesus- to get to the son, you have to go through His mother. Then we walked up a little hill to the Sacred Heart of Jesus altar where the locals have mass outside (weather permitting). Behind the altar there is a huge painting of Jesus and the artist painted his eyes to where no matter where you sit in the in the pews, His eyes are on you. Each statue we left, we sang a specific song when walking to the next statue. The next statue was "Jesus the Good Shepard" which was so incredible. There were lambs all around Him and he was holding an injured little lamb- the lost sheep. The best things about these statues were their emotions. The next story was the Samaritan Woman at the Well, which has a special place in my heart. I love the stories of the Women in the bible; Jesus loves his sisters very much. He never condemned the Samaritan woman, but he showed her great love and sincere compassion. The next statue was the Agony in the Garden followed by the Crucifixion. Then the miracle of the fish and bread, the healing of the sick, and Jesus with the little children. The tenth statue was the story of The Road to Emmaeus with the men walking and talking about the death of Jesus in Jerusalem and their worries and doubts. Then Jesus starts hanging out with them and they have no idea it's Him. It starts to get late, but they want to keep listening to his stories. So they invite him to eat (break bread with them). When Jesus blesses it and breaks it- their eyes were opened. They realized it was Him. The lady giving the walk gave the example of a high school reunion. We may not remember our classmates by their appearance, but we hear their voice or see their walk and we know it's them. So, although Jesus takes form in bread, in a different appearance, we still know Him.

Now we're on the way to the place we are staying for the pilgrimage. The place we're staying at is on the St. Lawrence River called Cap-de-la-Madeline. It's actually the basillica's 125th anniversary! There is a stone chapel on the grounds that was a miracle. The story goes that since the chapel was being built in the late 1800s they didn't have enough money to transport the stones to build it. So they waited for winter so the river would freeze to get the material across. because the river wasn't frozen during the winter. The ice actually didn't harden as it typically does in winter, so on march 19, the Feast of St Joseph, they prayed rosary and the ice hardened. So the men of the town got together, got the material across the river and when the last piece of material went over the river, the ice broke. Pope John Paul II came here and blessed the statue and the grounds. And the statue in The Stone Chapel is miraculous (on feast of St. John) - the eyes of the statue was open for 10 minutes and then closed. The beauty of the statue is that she actually looks like she is young and pregnant.
Our rooms are very nice and we had 3 options for dinner (Which of course is important to me hahaha)! Then we got to walk the grounds to the Basilica and Chapel and Giftshop. The other parts of the grounds include a Rosary bridge and pond and beautiful stations of the cross with a grotto and a replica of Jesus' tomb.
After dinner we were able to go to Confession, Adoration, and Mass. Immediately after there was a Rosary walk through the gardens around the stations. It was a wonderful mix of French, English, and Latin prayers and songs as we processed from the Church to the Rosary pond and back. The procession ended at The Stone Chapel with some Marian hymns!
Salva Regina!


Sunday, August 4, 2013

You are Beautiful, My Darling

Yesterday I made it up to the family's house that is hosting me for a few days before I go to Canada. The Lamontagne's are the most wonderful family and I love them! They welcomed me with open arms, their daughter Emmalee gave up her bed for me, and most importantly...they cooked me pancakes this morning. Thankfully Aaron, my chauffeur and practically coordinator for my trip, set me up with the perfect NH Catholic family. They know the desires of my heart... Pancakes. ;)
Anywho, we all went to mass this morning at a precious church on top of a hill. The homily was all about greed and a part that really stuck out to me was, "the value of $20 seems so high when you're in Church, but so low when you're shopping." Boom, convicted! Such a good Priest; actually, such a good Father. The Lord likes to give us a loving conviction sometimes, just to show us what is right. Although it seems like a negative side of The Lord, it's not. He's just trying to love on us and for that to happen fully, we have to be free from our of ignorance and sin to let God completely in.
God constantly reminds us of how we are good, beautiful, and worthy. We are his children or better yet, his "little darlings."
This afternoon I met the lovely (and famous) Lisa Wiegand Greenberg at an old folks home in Vermont. We walked right in her door and she exclaimed, "my precious little darlings! come in, come in!"  She has images of the Pope and Jesus all over her walls and as she noticed me looking at it, she pointed to he shroud of turin and said, "that is how Jesus appeared to me." Then I leaned a little to the left and right a noticed the shroud turned into Jesus's face and back to the shroud- depending on the way you lean. I've never seen an image quite like that before or heard a woman speak of her miracles so nonchalantly. She spoke to me as if we've known each other all or lives. Lisa was born in Germany in 1921 and 2 months ago had only 2 days to live... Well, God obviously has other plans. This woman is literally a walking Saint. She has three phone calls during our short visit and she answered the phone, "yes my precious darling, I'm visiting with my dear friends so I will have to call you back later." She spoke of her life as a professional Opera singer, how she spoke 5 languages (German, English, French, Italian, and Dutch), how she worked in a Nazi labor (concentration) camp, how she absolutely loved Catholicism, and her dear beautiful husband David (who is in Heaven). I was so intrigued by her life, especially her witness in the Holocaust and her supernatural love for Jesus Christ. She spoke about how her mother was waitig in line at the labor camp listening to Hitler speak while praying the rosary, then a man came up to only her and told her she was free to go, but Lisa had to stay. She was very valuable for her linguistic abilities. Because she spoke so many languages, she was essential to the shoe making labor camp. While in the labor camp, Christ the King appeared to her in a vision (before CTK was known to the world). Once she started to get sick, they let her free to go to the doctor and she did not have to return. She single handedly stopped the French Army coming into Germany to tell them where the bad people were. After that she became best friends with the Colonel and did some work for the French government. She also worked for the American government and when she went back to Frankfurt, Germany to see if her mothers family survived the holocaust, she met her American husband, David. She said she never thought she would marry a Jewish man because she was Christian. But once they were married and all of these miracles happened to them, he converted to Catholicism and she said he was the best and most beautiful convert. He asked her how many rosaries she prayed in one day and she said one to which he replied, "ha, I pray 4!" So she now prays four or five rosaries a day because she has so much to pray for. She said that some of her and David's rosaries turned into pure, solid, heavy gold. How cool is that?!?
She was truly a captivating woman that know's the Lord and openly shares how good and awesome He is! Her kindness and words reflected Jesus. She was Jesus to me. She made me feel like the most important girl in the world and in that moment I was confident that I am "beautiful" and "darling" and a child.

If you ever feel self conscious or lonely or unloved, open up the Bible to Song of Songs (Song of Solomon) -get you some Theology of the Body!

Song of Solomon 4:7

Your Grace is Enough

The past 3 days in New Hampshire have been quite beautiful. The weather, the scenery, and the people have been wonderful! I have been staying at a rectory guest house at St. Andre Bassete Parish in Laconia, NH then driving about 15 minutes to The Soul Fest in Gilford, NH. This area is so quaint and peaceful; the sound of the bustling maple leaves on the trees make you want to nap outside.
At The Soul Fest, there are hundreds of bands, 5 stages, lots of booths, and over 12,000 Christians jammin out over the course of 4 days. Driving up to Gunstock Mountain Resort, we saw hundreds of tents with families camping out for the festival. It's so family friendly!
For being a Christian festival, I was shocked that they offered a Catholic mass and had a tent with priests available for the sacrament of confession. The mass was held at the Inside Out stage and we were one of the first ones there, so we had a chance to just sit and pray and watch the set up for mass. As people startes trickling in for mass, I noticed a family walk up. The father was guiding his son, who seemed to be around the age of 10. Then I noticed the little boy's walking cane; he is blind. He participated in the mass like every Catholic should; loud and proud! Hearing his responses and his singing made me want to cry of joy. You could see it and you could feel it; he loves the Lord. I ended up seeing him and his family multiple time throughout the festival and people who met the boy would always leave with a smile on their face and he was so polite and would say "God Bless you" and "it was so nice to meet you" and "see you later." The following morning, I was "volentold" to read at mass. Before the mass began I was standing on the side of the stage and the band said they were going to play a song to warm up. They started to play "Your Grace is Enough" and they gave the boy a mic and his mom placed him facing the crowd. He sang his little heart out. He never missed a beat or a word - it was INCREDIBLE! It took all of me not to weep at the sight and sound of this little boy who was praising God. His grace is enough. Even though he is blind, he sees the world better than you and I. His kindness and his purity and his innocence is that of a Saint. God's grace is enough for him. He really was praying those words and they've never been so special to me.

Even in our disabilities, or what we think are our disabilities, God's grace is enough.
He uses the weak to lead the strong.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Walk Upon The Water

I think we've all heard of St. Peter...at least I'd hope so (if not, check out Matthew 14:22-33). When I read or reflect on the story of Peter walking on water, I have my own version in my head. I always picture this crazy storm with lots of thunder and lightening and there are a few terrified fishermen with beards freaking out in a tiny handmade boat. Then, in the distance there is this light, and like the eye of a hurricane, it is calm. Peter pokes his head out from hiding and Jesus reaches out his hand in the distance on the water. I picture Jesus' face is like one of a father who firmly believes his son can do anything, a face of pure delight. Peter takes the first step and takes his eyes off of Jesus, which makes him fall and fear consumes him. Then Jesus reaches for him. Once his eyes are fixed on Jesus, he is not afraid and gets up and jumps into Jesus' arms. Jesus just embraces Peter in the middle of a storm on a raging sea. In His perfect love, He loves on his son.

I feel like everyone has had a "Peter Moment" where you've had to walk upon the water. God always puts us in these situations where we have to step out of our comfort zone and into this "unnecessary" storm. Well, we feel it is unnecessary, thanks to our stubbornness...and our humanity. Right when we get comfortable, he throws us a curveball and we don't know what's up from down. He calls us out of the boat and onto the water. He doesn't "test" us with the intention of failure or to make fun of us. God is being a good Father; He is helping us grow. All he wants is for us to need and want Him. When we have to walk upon the water, we have to completely put our trust in him, take the first step, take his hand, and he will take care of the rest. Our God is a jealous God. He wants us to completely rely on him for everything. We constantly fight the battle of, "well God is a pretty busy guy, so I will handle my stuff for now and maybe next time I need help, i'll hit him up." Nooo, wrong approach. Completely rely on God in the good times and the bad. When are eyes are fixed on Jesus, there is nothing to fear.

I am guilty of making all these life plans in my head and forgetting to include God in it all. I remember planning what would be a good age to meet a good guy then when I would get married then have children. I just think of what would be perfect and comfortable for me. I can almost hear God's resonating laughter. God's plan is more beautiful and perfect that we could ever imagine. It's a bagillion times better than the life I pretend I will have in my head. He know's the desires of our heart. To fulfill this plan He has for us, we have to be like Peter. We have to take that first uncomfortable terrifying step. No matter if the entire world disagrees on what you believe is right, no matter if you are being tested or mocked or persecuted. You know what is right, good, and just...because God knows the desires of your heart. And if you desire the Lord, you shouldn't even think twice to step upon the water and run fearlessly to Him.

Recently I've come to know and love this song by Hillsong United called Oceans (Where Feet May Fail). Hillsong has the gift of reaching your heart with such simple but powerful words and repeating them until you are in such a spiritual ecstasy, you start to tear up a little or go into a joyful shock (and immediately put a song on repeat). Whichever your case, it is definitely worth your while to play this song, close your eyes, and meditate on how God is calling you to Walk Upon The Water into His loving embrace.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders, let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my Savior."