“Where is your Jesus when the kids are going through this?” I saw this comment on a post praising the rescues of 100+ children described in The Sound of Freedom movie. You want to know where Jesus is? He’s in YOU, waiting for YOU to act! While millions of people don’t act and these children are trafficked and abused like you couldn’t believe, Jesus is one of them. He is suffering right alongside them, crying out asking “Where are YOU?”.

He has given you the facts, abilities, and resources to do something. So ask yourself- what are MY unique gifts? How can I make a difference? Because YOU can.

This is not some white savior movie as another commentator called it because it takes place outside the US. This is not about the methods behind how the saving was done. This is about the children. Point blank. Full stop.

It’s about the freedom of the children. About not stopping in the face of undeniable evil. About not stopping when all looks impossible. About not stopping when you’re told no or you’re wrong or it’s not worth the risk. It’s about putting your suffocating comfort on the line! Getting uncomfortable and DOING SOMETHING GOOD WITH THE  LIFE YOU’VE BEEN GIVEN.

These are not once in a lifetime heroes. These are people who kept making the next right decision. What is YOUR next right decision? What is God asking YOU to do right now?

Don’t stop for a second and then say, “I can’t hear Him” and move on with your life. Go TO Him. Spend time WITH Him. And stop taking the easy way out when He convicts your heart or humbles your frail ego. Instead THANK HIM. Thank Him for not leaving you to your own devices and menial goals. Thank Him for loving you so dang much that He wouldn’t stop pursuing you even if YOU were the one in the cartel or supplying these children or abusing them yourself.

This movie showed every spectrum of person and response. Praise be to God for meeting us where we’re at over and over and over again. It is NEVER too late.

Writing is a gift I’ve been given but that’s not the only one. I will be taking my own advice and asking the Lord what He desires me to do in the face of human and child trafficking. And that might not look like the direct route we tend to envision when asking for directions. Maybe for some it’s directly getting in the fight via special ops missions or joining an organization dedicated to its eradication. Maybe it’s changing policies in your own companies that feed the billion dollar industry in direct or indirect ways. Maybe it’s quitting your porn use even if it’s of “consenting” adults. Maybe it’s cancelling your streaming subscription that promotes child exploitation (like the movie Cuties) over movies that desire to end this affront to human freedom. Let’s stop thinking so short sited and let the Lord make us uncomfortable in what He’s calling us to do here. Because this is an uncomfortable reality so our response is surely going to be too.

Whatever He calls me to I BEG Him that He gives me the courage, hope, and fortitude to answer that call without hesitation. I can’t and never have been able to do any of it on my own- not saying yes to the café or leaving my job without having a job or literally anything big or small. Those yeses are thanks to Him every. single. time.

If you have children, if you work with children, if you know a child– go see this movie and watch the many interviews out there now with Tim Ballard and Jim Caviezel. Go ahead and read the articles that push back too because it does us no good to white wash anything. But DO NOT underestimate the evil that is out there- in the trafficking and in those trying to cover it up. (I happened to watch The Big Short again last night- a reminder about the big bank’s role in the 2008 financial and housing crisis and the evil hiding in plain site there too).

Even those who answer the call don’t do everything right- if that’s not obvious from the Bible then you’re not reading it- BUT that doesn’t make God pursue them any less either. The mission He has for us remains and He will constantly try to redirect us when we step off course by wooing our hearts with His pure love. And who doesn’t want to be wooed by pure love?

If you’ve read to the end of this, then you’ve already had your heart convicted. There is no going back. Do not let this go to waste. Do something. Now.

Mall Tears

If you’re not in it you won’t quite understand. Maybe surface level you do but when your dreams and livelihood are on the line it hits differently.

Starting a business is an often overwhelming, frightening, and lonely experience. It doesn’t matter how many family members and friends you have supporting you. Or how many mentors from different areas of expertise to guide you. It’s a lot. So when people ask me how it’s going and are all excited to hear the progress it can be really hard to explain where I’m at and why it’s taking so long to get to the “next step”.

Yesterday I had a day off so I planned to devote a large amount of time working on pruning my business plan and continuing to get into the nitty-gritty of the financials. I started off fine and productive but slowly morphed into being completely unmotivated and annoyed with myself. Even with all the ways I was distracting myself, I was avoiding leaving the house and getting to Mass. Finally, I convinced myself to head to the mall to try and use a Bath & Body Works gift card I was given for Christmas. I figured if I could get myself to do that then I’d get myself to the 6:15 Mass too. Well, on my drive there my mind started spiraling down a rabbit hole of all the ways my various desires could never line up and how I was just going to be lonely, working all the time, and perpetually in a state of physical and mental exhaustion. As I pulled into a parking space there were tears streaming down my face. Annoyed with myself as this seems to be a more regular occurrence for me these days I let the song finish playing, wiped my tears, and walked into the mall.

As soon as I walked in I passed two women and the only thing I heard them exclaim was, “It’s God!” as one of them exited the store. I almost went up to the other woman to ask why she had said that because I wanted some confirmation of God working in people’s lives. But I didn’t and I kept walking.

Not sure where the store was, I took a right out of Macy’s to try and find it. About halfway down the hall out of the corner of my eye I see the word “Charismata” on a storefront. I do a double take and notice the dove paired with it. I immediately thought of the Holy Spirit but with a woman on my heels I just kept walking. As I reached the end I realized the Bath & Body Works wasn’t there so I turned around. This time I went into the Charismata store and quickly realized it was a Christian based clothing company.

A man emerged from the back and greeted me. I asked if he owned the store to which he replied that he did. With a smile on my face I praised him for it. He thanked me and began sharing a bit of his story and how they’d been there since July. Again, I praised him and acknowledged that it is not easy to follow the promptings of the Spirit and open a business like his. To this he asked if I was doing something similar which I responded by sharing the dream of the Catholic café. Now the tables turned and he began encouraging me. My eyes started to water a little as I received what he was saying. Then he went on to say that the devil is going to try to stop me and that I can’t let him get a foothold in my thinking. And now the waterworks just started free flowing. I explained to him that I had been having a really tough day with it all and was feeling so discouraged. His encouragement continued but then he paused and said I needed to focus on the Bible verse, “I believe, help my unbelief.” (Mark 9:24) At this my jaw dropped and my hand went up as I exclaimed that that’s my favorite Bible verse! (You can even see I have it listed on the About page of this blog)

I asked if we could hug and he said he was going to ask the same thing. So we hugged and I asked for his name. Carlos. Carlos then offered to pray over me. In the middle of a mall with tears streaming down my face, a complete stranger put his arm around me and prayed for my strength and that the Holy Spirit would come upon me with His wisdom and protection. That I may be armed with the shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. (Ephesians 6:16-17) I wish I could share the peace with you that I felt after this encounter.

Carlos shared that he had almost closed the store early that day because it had been so slow but he decided against it. It hasn’t been the easiest road for him either but he knows that the Lord is guiding him and will provide. Last night the Lord did that for the both of us I think.

 

    1. After going to the mall for a distraction and some lotion I instead left with a smile on my face, happy tears in my eyes, a new t-shirt proclaiming God’s mercy for a 1000 generations, and the beautiful witness of Carlos’ trust in the movements of the Spirit fueling my soul.

I’ve known this journey wouldn’t be an easy one but to be honest when God told me to quit my job and go for this there really wasn’t any hesitation or doubt at all. I thought there was no way my fire for following His will would wane. I failed to consider my own shortcomings and the circumstances of life that we can’t control. Thankfully, I’m serving a God who understands me, foresees it all, and already has His fingerprint on every single detail including the many divine meetings like this one that He has and will continue to provide along the way.

So if you’re wondering how it’s going, know that it’s really challenging and draining to figure out this puzzle but that I’m not stopping. Whether it takes 6 months or 10 years, if God’s still asking me to journey down this path then I’m going to keep fighting for it and fighting off the lies of the devil until it comes to fruition. I’ve been made aware of the desires of my heart that the evil one has found it easier to manipulate and discourage me through. Those tactics are only going to ramp up the deeper I get into this which means I need to fortify myself even deeper in prayer. Carlos’ prayer reminded me of an Armor Prayer that a friend sent me back in 2020. I found it in the notes on my phone and will be praying this consistently now. I’ll share it below.

If you’re struggling to get out of the same cycle or find yourself making minimal progress, I encourage you to first, be kind and patient with yourself. God often makes us wait in order to show us areas in our lives where we need to depend on Him more than we depend on ourselves before we can fully receive that gift He is so desperately waiting to give us. Second, is to put on the armor of God which comes from investing in a relationship with Him. This armor is not out of fear but rather for strength. We are battling evil in this world and it is only prideful to think we can defeat it (him) by our own will and strength. God’s plan is much more thorough and successful than our own even if sometimes it looks like retreating, taking a “wrong” turn, or letting go of something good in order to have open hands for something better.

This is a long post so bless you if you’ve made it to the end but on the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul I’m grateful for Paul’s witness of constant conversion and an openness to the Lord even when it goes against everything he thought he knew. May St. Paul and his letters (such as Ephesians) be a guiding force in your own life and give you the courage of the Spirit to follow whichever path your Father in Heaven is asking you to follow Him along each day.

“Put on the armor of God so that you may be able to stand firm against the tactics of the devil…So stand fast with your loins girded in truth, clothed with righteousness as a breastplate, and your feet shod in readiness for the gospel of peace. In all circumstances, hold faith as a shield, to quench all [the] flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.” Ephesians 6:11, 14-17

P.S. Go follow Carlos’ business @charismata.apparel on Instagram for encouragement and all his awesome apparel or stop in the Auburn Mall to pick up something for yourself or someone you love!

This is me no makeup and puffy eyes from crying but full of joy because of how God spoke to me through Carlos!

 

  1. To Put On the Armor of God
    In the name of Jesus, We put on the whole armor of God, that We may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil; for We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places.
    Therefore, We take unto Ourselves the whole armor of God, that We may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. We stand, therefore, having Our loins girt about with truth. Your Word, Lord, which is truth, contains all the weapons of Our warfare, which are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds.
    We have on the breastplate of righteousness, which is faith and love. Our feet are shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace. In Christ Jesus We have peace and pursue peace with all men. We Are Ministers of reconciliation, proclaiming the good news of the Gospel.
    We take the shield of faith, wherewith We Are able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked; the helmet of salvation (holding the thoughts, feelings, and purpose of God’s heart); and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. In the face of all trials, tests, temptations, and tribulation, We cut to pieces the snare of the enemy by speaking the Word of God. Greater is He that is in Us than he that is in the world.
    Thank You, Father, for the armor. We will pray at all times — on every occasion, in every season — in the Spirit, with all [manner of] prayer and entreaty. To that end We will keep alert and watch with strong purpose and perseverance, interceding on behalf of all the saints. Our power and ability and sufficiency are from God Who has qualified Us as Ministers and Dispensers of a new covenant [of salvation through Christ]. Amen.

 

Allow

My good friend, Bridie, has a tendency to say “As God allows” as a way of giving God the final say in a situation or in what she’s able to offer at that time. So when my word of the year for 2022 turned out to be “allow” that was the first thing that came to mind. It’s a simple statement yet a continual act of surrender, which we all know can be anything but simple at times. I was glad to have this phrase knowing that I could use it to keep my word of the year in the forefront of my mind. Sure enough, it worked out quite well.

As I reflect on this past year, I am reminded of many of the ways my word as well as my saint of the year found their way into my life.

For my saint of the year, I was chosen by St. Elizabeth, the mother of St. John the Baptist. Her patronage? Pregnancy. I laughed at this and knew almost immediately that this was going to connect to the café dream. This was going to be a year of gestation. The birth wouldn’t be coming this year. This also meant I knew the “Be Still” verses were going to remain prevalent this year as well, knowing I was called to continue to be patient through the pregnancy of this dream.

Something I’ve been reflecting on lately in relation to all of this is God’s timing. So often He’s already said yes to our prayer, however, He needs to work something out in someone else’s life before He can actually fulfill the request or promise. For instance, in retrospect we can see how Elizabeth and Zechariah being unable to become pregnant allowed their miracle pregnancy to not only glorify God but also align with Mary’s carefully planned conception of Jesus through the Holy Spirit. Then we see how Jesus also needed to wait to begin His public ministry in order to give John adequate time to prepare the way for Him. All of these were prophecies that the Lord was going to fulfill, but that also required a certain order and timing before each one could come to be. An answered prayer isn’t as satisfying when you can tell it’s been rushed or forced because all the pieces that could be aligned have not been.

In relation to this, I was listening to one of Fr. Mike Schmitz’s homilies recently and he related this same thinking to Daniel’s situation from the Old Testament. If you read Daniel 10:12-13 God through an angel says to Daniel, “from the first day you made up your mind to acquire understanding and humble yourself before God, your prayer was heard. Because of it I started out, but the prince of the kingdom of Persia stood in my way for twenty-one days, until finally Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me.” God was ready to answer Daniel’s prayer from the moment Daniel decided to pray but another got in God’s way which He allowed because of His promise of free will. It wasn’t until someone else used their free will to help clear the path that the prayer could be fulfilled. Fr. Mike went on to say that “God is doing something in this that He couldn’t do without it.” This is why we need to trust God and allow Him to work in our lives and the lives of others even if it doesn’t make sense or the path isn’t clear. He is always working, He is always on time, and He is always closer than we think.

I love that even with one week left of the year, God is still using my word (allow) and my saint (Elizabeth) to show me a little glimpse behind the master plan He’s asking me to oh so patiently wait for.

What was God asking me to allow Him to do in my life this year? Well, below is a list of just SOME of the ways He moved in my life. Each time whether I realized it or not, I had to pause and allow God to work in my heart or in those around me. I had to give my own “fiat” or “yes” as Mary did or make up my mind to pray as Daniel did so that God had the permission (was allowed) to work in my life. The times I used my free will to resist His hand, the more grace I missed out on (some of which I have become aware that I’ve missed out on, but most I probably won’t realize this side of heaven).

So for what it’s worth, here is a list of some of the ways I allowed God to move in my life and some of the ways He allowed me to become a little bit more of who I was created to be:

  • Allow yourself to dream
  • Allow others to dream
  • Allow yourself to be honest but deeply kind and loving
  • Allow St. Joseph to stir up something special in your heart
  • Allow yourself to stop worrying because Mary said she is caring for him and so you’re going to choose to believe her
  • Allow mentors to speak wisdom into your heart and dreams
  • Allow yourself to go all in
  • Allow the dream to become public knowledge
  • Allow yourself to leave a job even if it feels uncompleted
  • Allow yourself to say “Let’s stay in touch” and mean it
  • Allow your physical and mental limits to be pushed
  • Allow yourself to move to a new state
  • Allow yourself to learn something(s) new (from teenagers too)
  • Allow road trips to be adventures full of joy and stillness
  • Allow fear to reveal to you where you still need to grow in your relationship with God
  • Allow yourself to retreat
  • Allow yourself to keep brainstorming
  • Allow humility to reign
  • Allow yourself to travel far for your friends
  • Allow your friends to show you how much you mean to them
  • Allow the place where so much of this journey started to refresh you in a new way
  • Allow the pain and discomfort of discernment to stretch your heart bigger and bigger
  • Allow the setup
  • Allow the vulnerability and fun that had been locked away for a long time to be released
  • Allow the addition to your family and a furry dream kept on pause to be fulfilled
  • Allow the pitstop on your drive home
  • Allow the breaking and simultaneously the kintsuji process on your heart to begin again
  • Allow prayer and friends to sustain you in the darkness of the pit
  • Allow God to continue calling you to this dream even when the joy and hope are lost
  • Allow your friends’ dreams becoming realities to fill you with immense joy
  • Allow the deepening of a newer friendship
  • Allow the distance so you learn to rely on God first and foremost
  • Allow yourself to take time before jumping into a new job
  • Allow God to handle your finances
  • Allow yourself to trust that their rejection is His Providence
  • Allow the Holy Spirit to plan a happenstance run-in on a Tuesday at noon that leads to an apology and hug that finally sets that last bit of you free
  • Allow the continual “Be Still” reminders to bring you joy instead of an eye roll or “c’mon, again!”
  • Allow Him to keep leading you down this path even when it feels like He’s telling you to stay still
  • Allow the prayers for them to continue
  • Allow healing
  • Allow joy
  • Allow hope

Having a word and saint for the year have been beautiful guides that have allowed ( ? ) me to meditate on certain areas and situations in my life through a common lens over the entire year. This brings a special continuity and hope that we could all use. So I highly encourage you to take advantage of this for 2023. You can use the generator that Jennifer Fulwiler puts out or you could bring it to prayer and see what God places on your heart. I’ve done both and God has used both methods earnestly. Whether you do this or not, do spend some time reflecting on this last year and dreaming about what this new year could look like. While being in the present moment is crucial, there’s a reason it’s sandwiched between the past and future- both hold it together and allow it to be what it is meant to be.

I also want to note that as I finish this blog post up, a dream that I’ve had for a long time just curled up on my chest to snuggle. Ever since my childhood cat passed away I’d wanted another cat but the timing was never right. I wasn’t sure if now was the right time either but when the opportunity presented itself, I went for it and I’m once again seeing how God’s timing is perfect. Hold onto hope and let it curl itself up next to your heart.

 

Mended with Gold

This summer I got to spend it living with my aunt and uncle. Two people who are truly an inspiration to me. I was welcomed into their home as I took on a new and bold adventure. It was during this summer that I got to hit the reset buttons in many areas of my life. Not only did I learn a lot as I dove into pursuing a big dream, but I healed. I healed in ways I wouldn’t have been as easily able to had I kept on the same path.

During this time, my aunt and uncle also welcomed me into their lives which included an occasional at home Happy Hour on Wednesdays (their date night). So as my time was coming to an end in VA, I began thinking of a gift I could give them to offer my gratitude. Inspired by the big wine lovers that they are, I found a cool company that turns wine bottles into serving trays- perfect for their Happy Hours! It was even in my aunt’s favorite color and could have an imprint of hummingbirds which we often admired from their porch. I was incredibly excited for this gift.

And then it arrived… shattered.

After some emails and realizing there wasn’t enough time for a replacement I got to thinking. Kintsugi, a Japanese art form that uses gold to mend pottery, came to mind. I did some research and realized it just might work. So I tried it and it actually came out really beautiful! My aunt and uncle loved it and found a spot to display it right away.

Now that I’m back home and reflecting on my time, this gift keeps coming to mind. It felt very much like a symbol of my time down in VA- a time of my broken pieces being mended back together. But not just so that I would look like how I was before but to be mended with gold and return even more beautiful. One person described the gift as “a priceless piece of art” and I am now beginning to see myself that way too.

And then just last night it happened… another piece was chipped off of me.

But as this new piece has been removed, I stand still and I surrender it to the Lord. I allow Him to do His work and trust that He will mend this piece too with His priceless gold and that I will emerge from this fresh break even more beautiful, precious, and sacred.

I don’t know what the final artwork of my life will look like when my time here on earth comes to an end. But what I do know is that the Master Artist is not surprised by any of these broken pieces and is already holding the tools that will mold each part of me back onto His Sacred Masterpiece.

It can be easy to look at the broken piece lying next to you and think- will I ever be worth the effort to be kept whole? Will anyone sacrifice themselves to protect me from being broken? Why am I not beautiful enough as I am, do I really need more gold? While these are all understandable questions, they are not valid because there is One Person, the only person who matters, who has already said yes by the gift of His own life.

A few days ago, I sat in church after Mass and questioned my worth. Whether I would ever be the one someone else was willing to sacrifice for. Jesus then gently took me through His Passion, Death, and Resurrection and with each scene looked at me and said, “I thought you were worth it in each of these moments.” Worth it to be tortured, ridiculed, and killed. Worth it to be left lifeless in a tomb. Worth it to actually fulfill His promise and mission and bring ME salvation by rising from the dead. HE says I’m worthy and HE has already proven it. And in that I know I am seen, I am chosen, and I am DEEPLY loved.

Regardless of whether anyone else believes I am worthy (which many do), I trust the Lord in this. I trust Him more than I can ever trust myself (although this new break has also reminded me that my intuition is not as clouded by wounds as I thought it was and that I can in fact trust myself, especially when I continue to surrender all to God in the process). He sees things that I could never see. He creates paths where there was no humanly possible way for it to be formed. He moves mountains for those He loves and those who love Him back by trusting Him. So once again, I release a gift I was so grateful to have for but a short time and I leave my hands wide open ready to receive at any moment whatever He desires to give me next.

As I look at this broken serving dish turned one-of-a-kind piece of art, I remember the looks on my aunt and uncle’s faces and the joy they felt from the story behind it. To them, the gold looked like it was meant to be there. And that is exactly how God views us. Not as broken pieces of art that were slapped back together. But as beautiful stories lined with gold in the most unique and unrepeatable places. Let His light shine through your whole being, broken gold-filled lines and all. You may just find yourself attracting even more attention and love in His name than you ever could have had you not let your act of loving others chip off a bit of you here and there.

Be vulnerable and be bold, friends. The only thing stopping you is fear and that has no place in the making of a masterpiece.

 

Barista

 

What I’ve Learned So Far

A little over two months in VA and the question is usually…

What have you learned so far?

Well… a lot. This is just going to skim the surface but here’s a bit of an overview.

Bar / Barista

From what a café dos leches is to how to make a double shot cappuccino with extra foam to how to determine the right coarseness of the grinds for an espresso shot, my knowledge base of all things coffee has grown exponentially. Words like portafilter and tamper no longer make my head spin and steaming milk to the right temperature and consistency no longer gives me anxiety. I’ve “successfully” made a painfully weak chai latte for my boss and so now I will never make that mistake again. While all that is not saying much since my knowledge was prettyyyy limited, I’m impressed with myself nonetheless. If I can learn these things- anyone can! (Cue casual hint to anyone who may want to join me in this endeavor ?).

Kitchen / Cook

If we head into the kitchen, I’ve learned what’s easy to make, what’s a pain in the butt to make, the intricacies of the cooking, heating, and cooling health code requirements for foods, and have gotten into a rhythm of determining when things need to be defrosted and cooked based on when certain items are going out and how much time is left until closing (circle back to health code requirements). Inventory is another delicate dance that keeps you on your toes but I have yet to tackle that one.

Market / Shop

In the market/shop, I’ve learned how important that form of supplemental income is, a general idea of which products sell well, and how much work it takes to know when to order items, how many to order, and where to order them from. This is another area I’m looking to dive a little deeper into.

Employee Relationships

Something else that I’ve witnessed throughout my 2 months is employee relationships with each other, with customers, and with management. Even in different fields, much of it has been very similar. It’s been really great to see how certain needs, crazy scenarios, and let’s call them opinionated customers have been handled across the board by the staff. From fridges breaking down to a light switch catching on fire to staff not feeling well during their shift, there’s never a shortage of thinking and problem solving on your feet. It calls you to a new level of selflessness and self-giving. But there’s also been the less stressful, more life-giving moments as well. Such as, the invention of fun new drink flavors to seeing the absolute glee on a customer’s face as they rave about the curried chicken salad or the encouragement amongst staff when sales are way up that day and praising how well everyone handled the influx of customers.

As an employee who is new to the café, new to the industry, and only staying for a limited time, I’m trying to do my best to soak up everything everyone is showing me. Interestingly, sometimes that leads to me asking questions about things that haven’t been thought about, done, or explained in a long time. This has led to some great conversations and learning experiences for me and other staff members. I’m recognizing how easy it is to fall into a routine that isn’t quite meeting the standards we’d originally set for ourselves at the start or even how some of those standards may prove unnecessary after all. In such a fast-paced environment when there’s always something to think about, this makes sense. Doing those extra tasks or rethinking how to better address XYZ rightfully get pushed to the back burner. I’m seeing how having fresh eyes that require you to slow down and talk through or explain things is such a good thing.

Deeper Reflection

Beyond these practicalities, I had another experience that actually helped me reflect on God’s mercy a little bit more. Back when I was first given this opportunity to work at Trinity House for the summer it was discussed that a month or so in I would be given a promotion to Shift Supervisor. This was something they assumed I could handle (based on my age) and would enhance my experience and reason for coming for the whole summer (based on my desire to run my own café). When I received this promotion, one of my coworkers, who has been working there a long time, was a little frustrated by this.

Now, I understood where they were coming from because I hadn’t earned this promotion in the way most employees would be required to. While reflecting on this scenario, I realized a connection to God’s mercy. His mercy is never anything that we can earn. It’s a gift that is freely given based on His generosity AND on our specific needs for that time, place, situation, etc. In addition to that, His being merciful towards one person does not negate His ability nor His desire to be merciful or generous in anyone else’s life. In all reality, my promotion did not take away from this specific employee’s chances at being promoted. It will, however, have a big effect on me and my own specific and separate mission.

This is the same with God’s grace. Someone else’s grace-filled gift, that I may not agree with based on my limited vision, really shouldn’t any negative bearing on my own life if I’m focused on my mission rather than theirs. I don’t have to understand all the intricacies behind the gift, but I do have to accept that God is the most generous giver and will give His gifts often to those who are open to receiving them (He gives even to those who aren’t- they just won’t receive them because of their full hands).

All this is to say that we waste so much time looking at other people’s lives, wanting what they have or complaining that they don’t deserve what they have, rather than actually living our own. I am not immune to this in any way. In fact, these last few weeks I’ve found myself weighed down by similar sentiments towards others who “don’t deserve” or haven’t rightly earned certain gifts they’ve been given or who may have even squandered those great gifts.

As I continue on this journey to opening a Catholic café, just know I’m figuring out this life just as imperfectly as the next person. I haven’t found my “holy grail” because I’m going after a dream, have seemingly less responsibilities (for the moment), or get to be in new places this summer, etc. My holy grail is not here. It is in Heaven. So, I will be continuing this journey with the goal of keeping my eyes set on the true end- which is not a café, a family, financial freedom, or traveling around the world- but rather on the one place where there is no need for mercy and yet mercy is the only means to arrive there.

How will you focus on the gifts God is giving YOU and how will you go a step further and thank Him for the gifts He’s given OTHERS?

P.S. Check out this fun little reel I made showing some of the  “behind-the-scenes” of  a day in the life of Melissa at Trinity House!

 

Be Not Afraid

 

Get Uncomfortable

As I was driving back to Massachusetts after two weeks in Virginia (for a quick trip to be present for a friend being ordained a priest!) I inevitably spent some time reflecting on those first two weeks working at Trinity House Café and living in Virginia. The theme that came to mind was this… GET UNCOMFORTABLE.

This theme has only intensified since that trip.

Recently I’ve done quite a few things that I knew would make me uncomfortable: namely leaving my job of 5 years, doing a Tough Mudder, moving to Virginia, and starting a new job I have no experience in. Those were things that I knew were bound to cause discomfort simply because of the dramatic nature they held. What I didn’t expect were some of the basic things that caused me to get uncomfortable over these last five weeks. Things like…

  • Having to drive at least 15 minutes to get to church, a grocery store, or really anything
  • The setup of my bedroom being different and affecting my morning and night routines
  • The physical and mental fatigue from being on my feet and interacting with people all day (shout-out to my naturally inclined introverts!)
  • The flipped script of high school and college students teaching me now ?

Don’t get me wrong- I’ve been blessed with a very comfortable life down here and I’m especially grateful to my aunt and uncle for not only hosting me but truly welcoming me into their life, but change naturally brings discomfort and that’s ok to admit regardless.

I distinctly remember one of my shifts at the café during my early weeks of work. I definitely didn’t have a confidence in myself in this role or a full grasp of all it entailed yet. (Did you know in ironies of all ironies I’m not really a coffee drinker so I didn’t even know the majority of the drinks ?). At one moment, feeling particularly uncomfortable while trying to figure out how to make someone’s drink order in the midst of a rush of customers, I paused and realized how good and how important it was to feel that way. I didn’t avoid it, I didn’t run away from the situation, I breathed it deeply into my lungs and let it fuel me. I hadn’t felt that kind of discomfort simply due to my lack of knowledge/experience in a long time and while it felt unpleasant, I could feel myself growing and expanding with my lungs and breath in that moment.

I think we rob ourselves of so much growth, joy, and new insights when we settle into our comforts for too long. While of course comfort is good as it allows the growth to really settle and solidify because we aren’t on such high alert, too much of it is a true stunt to our hearts, minds, and even bodies.

Being uncomfortable is… uncomfortable! But we need to learn how to embrace it because that is the ONLY way we grow. You’re going to stifle yourself if you try to stay comfortable or attain comfort your whole life. You’re going to miss out on the God-ordained opportunities for you to make a good and lasting impact in this world and in yourself because they always require growing pains. Let the discomfort be a moment of prayer- a way to relate to God.

I just finished reading In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day by Marc Batterson. He’s the author of one of my favorite books, The Circle Maker, which I’ll write a blog post about at some point as well. He says,

“The cure for fear of failure is not success. It’s failure. The cure for the fear of rejection is not acceptance. It’s rejection. You’ve got to be exposed to small quantities of whatever you’re afraid of. That’s how you build up immunity.”

This whole experience is one of facing my fears and failures (and potential failures) and allowing them to stretch me, guide me, and help me love myself and others more, even when it’s uncomfortable.

More than I’d like to admit early on during this transition I turned to watching TV or scrolling social media endlessly to numb my mind to the discomforts of these many changes, unknowns, and some unexpected heart-hurts. We all find ways to numb but we all also have the capacity to embrace the discomfort and growing pains. We’re called to battle this urge to numb, but to do so without condemning ourselves for the times we “fail” and rather using those “failures” to fuel our growth further.

So how will you get uncomfortable? You could shake up your routine- whether that’s the schedule you live or die by, your physical space, the church or stores you frequent, or fasting from certain go-to comforts you have. You could let someone younger than you teach you something you have no background in- meaning you have to rely on and trust their knowledge and experience over your own. You could learn a new skill that may seem frivolous or intimidating or fun! You could cancel your streaming service subscription *gasp*. You could initiate that conversation you’ve been avoiding…

Getting uncomfortable also means not being afraid to ask the questions we don’t have the answers to (or we do but don’t want to admit to).

Do. Not. Be. Afraid.

Ask the questions. Of yourself, to others, to God.

In the Gospel reading a couple weeks ago from Luke chapter 5, Jesus healed a paralytic man who was lowered through the roof of the house Jesus was in by a group of this man’s own friends who were determined to have him healed no matter the discomforts they faced in making it happen. Before Jesus healed him physically, He healed the man of his sins and spiritual illnesses. Then Jesus cured his paralysis, citing that as the easier healing to bestow. This man’s story didn’t end at a “simple” healing of his legs leading to a perfectly comfortable life there on out. No, there’s much more to it. We fail to recognize that the healing of his legs would have actually presented him with a whole slew of new uncomfortable situations. While he was paralyzed he couldn’t go anywhere on his own, always relying on friends to carry him, bring him food, perhaps even bathe him. This inevitably led to comfort in the routine of it all. Now, he could do that all on his own which means facing a whole new world full of uncertainties and challenges. And not only that but facing it with the call to go home and glorify God which would bring discomfort for anyone facing a society that actively lived opposed to Jesus’ teachings.

So, as you think about the kind of uncomfortable opportunities you want to take advantage of, remember that sometimes even the comforts we pray for bring with them unexpected discomforts we weren’t anticipating. Don’t let this fuel fear of praying for these healings, dreams, and necessities because as Mark Batterson says, “As we grow in a love relationship with God, we unlearn the fears that paralyze us and neutralize us spiritually. That is the essence of faith.”

Maybe that man wasn’t only paralyzed physically but spiritually or emotionally by what the world offered that he had stopped trusting God and praying for healing and it wasn’t until his friends brought him face to face with Jesus that he then faced his fears (namely God Himself) and allowed his love for God to begin growing again. Facing those fears opened up a whole new world and freedom to be loved by God and to honor God in bigger, more exciting ways.

Take time in prayer to place your life, or particular areas of your life, at the feet of Jesus and ask, “Is this something you still want for me?” Then be open to whatever His response is. If it’s yes, find ways to get uncomfortable within that area. If it’s no, then joyfully surrender that area to Him trusting that you could never give up more than God will give to you.

One last point- this passage also goes to show the importance of friendship and leading one another in love to face our fears. So, try something completely out of your comfort zone and bring a friend along with you or listen to that crazy friend trying to get you to do a Tough Mudder with her (shout-out to Steph for taking on that adventure with me ?)! It’ll be worth it. I promise!

 

June 7th

Have you ever had something so significant happen in your life that the date is forever engraved into your mind? That date is June 7th for me.

It’s the day that changed my life forever with one phone call and two words. Those two words, “I am”, shattered my heart to pieces, but more importantly set me on a path of making decisions that would alter my life’s direction forever. Decisions to leave a ministry that I loved, decisions to painfully offer my will and desires to the Lord in place of following and wanting His, decisions to invest in myself financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually, and decisions to follow a dream that is just crazy enough that following it only makes sense once those blind steps of faith have already been made.

June 7th, 2020 wrecked my world.
And I couldn’t be more grateful.

It loosened and revealed so many of the negative ties, attachments, and prideful ways I’d chained myself to over the years. It introduced me to what following the Lord actually means and looks like. It taught me how to pray through the immense suffering and torrential tears blocking any vision of life up ahead.

But what’s an added bonus to seeing the goodness unfold in my life since that awful day? Having God so beautifully redeem that exact date that was so painfully seared into my mind…

A little more back story- The only ounce of joy I had felt in a week following June 7th, 2020 was when I providentially came across Trinity House Café/Community on Instagram the following Saturday. It’s what re-sparked the Catholic café dream. (I’ll share more about this story in another post).

That brings us to June 7th, 2021- I was down in Maryland/Virginia visiting friends and family as I got ready to attend the GIVEN Institute Forum. Without planning it, of all the days I was there, I found myself in VA visiting Trinity House Café for the second time ever on June 7th. I took these photos and captioned them with these words- already feeling the redemption of that date one year later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


  1. I was blown away by this gift as the pains of that day a year earlier were still reverberating within me.

  2.  

Today, June 7th, 2022, I sit in further awe of God’s goodness, vision, and generosity. I find myself in Virginia again, having quit my job, moved down here for the summer, investing in my dream, and ready to take on my first shift as a barista at Trinity House Café tomorrow and incredibly gung-ho about learning all that goes into running a Catholic café! Once again- this was completely unplanned because if you knew my schedule (leave job on 3rd, do a Tough Mudder on 4th, drive to VA on 6th, drive back up to MA on 16th and back to VA on 19th) it’s quite clear this was not the most convenient of times to get down here! Despite all that, my jaw dropped when I realized the coincidence (God-incidence) with this date once again.

The worst day of my life is being redeemed two times over with an incredible dream I never would have dared fathom would actually come true. And to be honest, even with all the unknowns still surrounding this dream, I’ve never felt more at peace than I do now. (Ok, I definitely have nerves about tomorrow and all of it because I’m HUMAN but overwhelmingly it’s peace and excitement ?).

All of this is to say, I don’t know what you’re going through or have gone through but if you have a June 7th in your life (whether that’s an actual date or a person, place, memory, phrase, song, etc.)- ask God to redeem it. He 100% will and He’ll blow your mind with how He does it!

View from my last trip to Virginia

I Did a Thing…

I did a thing…

I quit my job and I’m moving.

That sounds pretty dramatic and well, it is and it isn’t.

I wondered if the time would ever truly come for me to share this with the world. Now the day is here, so grab a cup of coffee (or tea) and settle in!

No, quitting my job and moving is not that dramatic because I’m not actually leaving until the end of this month. This wasn’t some “peace out, watch me jaunt away” kind of scenario. I thought and prayed long and hard about when I would leave my job and God led me to this timing. I tried to leave at other times, hence the “Be Still” verses being a favorite of His for me haha. When I finally acquiesced to His timing it seemed like the end of this academic year was where His “ready, set, GO” was culminating. My original plan was to give my notice after Easter so I could tell the students in person but to stay until the end of June. In an ironic twist, God’s call to “be still” in this situation was apparently no more and He actually moved up my departure date even sooner. I sure love His irony ? It’s His irony that brings me to the moving part…

Again, not as dramatic as it sounds because while I will be moving 8 hours away, it’s only for the summer and then I’ll be back up here. (That is unless God has something else in store but that’s NOT my plan. And yet, I have to be ready for anything because I’ve seen where clinging to “my” plan gets me ?).

So now that I’ve knocked down the drama level a bit, there actually is quite a bit of drama behind all of this too.

I’m not just leaving my job and moving for the sake of something new. Far from it. Every bit of this is God-ordained and dates back nearly 2 years (really more but we’ll start there).

 

  1. To cut to the chase, I am pursing the call and personal desire to open a Catholic café in MA!

 

What’s a Catholic café? I’m glad you asked ? My tagline is this: A place of beauty that provides community, nourishment, and simple encounters with God.

Building community, especially faith communities, has always been a passion of mine. I’ve also always loved the café vibe and the space it can provide for friendship, reflection, innovation, and joy. That mixed with the absolute beauty of the Catholic faith and its ability to introduce you to God in such unique ways feels like the perfect fit. And come to find out, God agrees!

When I tell you that I never would have actually gone for this dream if it were just mine, I’m not kidding. It would’ve remained a pipe dream that I brought up in starry eyed conversations until the day I died (and then it would’ve disappeared completely!). It wasn’t until God elevated it to a dream He had for me that things shifted and I began intentionally and deeply pursing this.

That all began nearly 2 years ago with a random thought about this old dream and then providentially coming across Trinity House Café on Instagram. And that’s where we come to the moving part…

I’ll explain more of the Trinity House backstory in another post but it’s a Catholic café in Virginia where I’ll be working this summer! I’ve been in contact with the owners, Soren and Ever Johnson, since Summer 2020 and they beyond graciously offered me a job with them as a barista and the chance to learn all I possibly can about running a café. I’d also like to point out that this was offered to me after I had already decided to leave my current job and live off savings for a bit. God is so good and when we surrender to Him, He always provides in ways above and beyond what we could have ever imagined.

So, that’s my big dramatic news- 2 years in the making. Now you know the dream I’ve been elusively mentioning ? I cannot wait to share more about the 2-year process in getting here and how it is all going to continue to unfold!

I invite you to follow along through this blog and IG page and to pleaseeee pray for me as I transition out of one dream and take a big step into the next one- into my own Jordan River, trusting God will fight for me and part the sea after my obediently being still these last 2 years.

Exodus 14:14

*The picture is from my last trip to Virginia at a winery my aunt and uncle brought me too. Cannot wait for more of that this summer too ?