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.

 

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 😉