22 January 2015

One Little Word 2015

In the past, I've picked a word to live my life by for the year. I find it a much better idea than a resolution or intention, and I find myself changed when the year is out. I first heard of this idea on Ali Edwards' blog. She runs a yearly class that is full of journaling and creative prompts for each month of the year. I highly recommend the class; it has helped me stay on track and keep my word with me throughout the year.

I don't just pick a word silly-nilly; my word takes about two to three months of thinking. In the past, I've picked words that I thought would build me up, put a confidence in me, make me a big, bold person. My list is as follows:

2009- Downsize
2010- Pray
2012- Shine
2013- Adventure
2014- Brave

However, my living in Mexico has changed my perspective. I already was living a larger-than-life existence. There is no reason I need a word to build me up when I was already too high and mighty. I went past being confident to being proud, disrespectful, selfish, and ungrateful. I had an entitlement attitude. I thought I knew God, but He was so far from me.

My word for 2015 is HUMBLE.

This comes from living a humbling life here. The way I thought life was going to be has been so different from how it really is. I imagined living a great life, working a job that paid around the same as my previous job. Instead I've taken a job making half of what I previously made. I thought things in TJ would be cheaper, and while some things are, most are the same price or more expensive. I never thought I'd live without hot water, basic appliances, or a washing machine. I never thought I'd live without a telephone. I never thought I'd have absolutely nothing other than my family, my clothes, and my car.

There were times where, relying on my newly-acquired bravery, I felt like I would not survive. Every time a dish broke, my phone broke, or I lost a piece of my previous life, I felt like I was dying. There were nights of uncontrollable crying, mourning the loss of every goal or dream I ever thought I'd had. I just felt like I'd never make it until the morning. It was in the inconceivable losses that ripped my pride apart, that I began to recognize my absolute necessity for God.

Since Hector and I are not married in the Catholic Church, I cannot receive Eucharist. That itself has been a death in my life. But God replaced the Word Made Flesh with His written Word and have me an insatiable desire for Scripture. And I've learned that this year, God is mercifully cutting away all of the fat and excess in my spiritual life to where it is just God. He's emptying out all of the junk I've accumulated to make space for my relationship with Him (Yes, Catholics do have a personal relationship with the Lord and Savior!).

So my goals for 2015 are simple- to take each day as it comes, and to live more humbly, not to please myself or to have an easy life, but to please God. I am no longer afraid to lose possessions. I am no longer holding onto a past life. I have let go and given God control of my life. He knows what He's doing.

"For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Hello God, It's Me, Andrea...

You know, I never read that book...

Some days, I feel lost in the world. I think to myself, "What the heck am I doing here? I had such a better life in the US. I would not be struggling like this if I were there." I get up, sometimes hoping to see Mt. Hood or hear my parents somewhere in the house, but then I realize I'm in Tijuana. Sometimes, it feels so normal to be sitting here with Hector, we both forget that we're not in Portland. Is this where we really ended up? Then there are days that I know I am exactly where God wants me to be.

In the US, I lived a rather charmed life. I had an amazing job, amazing friends, a secure home, my parents... I could do pretty much anything I wanted. I attended Mass and tried to give Cecilia a good Catechism. I felt God calling me for the first time in my life when He called me to veil. I felt like I knew God. I felt like we had a relationship and that I was a good follower of Him.

Then I came to Mexico. My whole idea of my relationship with God has been shaken to the foundations.

God was no longer asking to have a personal relationship with me; he was demanding it. There were times when i didn't know how'd we would have enough money to last a week, and I had to rely solely on God's mercy. I couldn't worry about little things. I have to give God total control of every aspect of my life. After I had read every book I had brought with me, I got the idea to pick up my Catholic Youth Bible, the same one I've had since high school, and actually read it. That was a game-changer.

Because Hector and I are not  married in the Church, and because we now live together, I cannot receive the sacraments. It's heartbreaking to watch people receive Eucharist while I sit in the pew. But it is the way it must be. I offer my little suffering for other lost souls and ask that every person receiving Holy Communion may be spiritually nourished by it. Catholics believe that the bread and wine truly become the Body and Blood of Jesus at the consecration. That bread is no longer bread; it is Christ. This is based on John chapter six. In the beginning of the book of John, the Bible says that the Word of God is God, and that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us as Christ (I'm paraphrasing). Jesus is the Word. In Ezekiel 3, God gives the prophet a scroll of his Word to speak to the people. He instructs Ezekiel to EAT the scroll, which he does, and the Bible says that the Word was sweet.

This is what God has done for me. He saw how helpless I have become, how broken and miserable I feel, and he says, "I can use you now. Here is my Word. Eat it up". I have read the entire Bible and it is not enough. I need to eat my daily fill of Scripture. I cannot feel like I have had enough without at least an hour or two of study a day. I can't receive Eucharist right now, but His is feeding me spiritually and I am now knowing His Will and learning to trust in Him. Because you can't just read the Scripture, you have to figure out how it applies to your life. And you can't look at individual verses, you have to look at the whole story, the big picture. After all, a novel wouldn't make any sense if you read just one line per page. Neither do the Scriptures. You can't just quote one line and say, "This is God's plan" because that is presumptuous and it is not taking into account all of Salvation History and the work of God throughout the ages. Yes, the Lord has a plan for everybody, but His plan is for the whole of the World.

I know that His had my best intentions in His plans. I don't know of tomorrow we will have enough for extras or money to go out, but I trust that God will provide for me to have the basics met. There was a time I thought His was not listening to me. I wanted him to change the laws so that I could continue to live in the US and Hector could come back and we could continue like nothing had ever happened. But when I thought He wasn't listening, he was really telling me 'no', because I had to come to Mexico. I see that now. I could never have known Him, living in the US. There were to many barriers, too much ease, too much excess in the way. I had to lose all of that to hear Him calling me.

Hello God, it's me, Andrea. It's very nice to meet after all of this time.

I Really Live Here

I was coming home from work the other day when I ended up having to get off from my normal route due to traffic.

This used to scare me. I used to hardly ever drive anywhere I didn't know. I have Google Maps on the home screen of my phone. I like to know my direction, my place in the world, at all times. I have a great of being lost and never being found.

However, I made my way home, without internet, without asking for directions. I simply followed the signs. For the first time in my life, I can get around without help, without someone holding my hand. I can use places in Tijuana as landmarks, I can give petiole directions when they ask. It's just one more barrier in my life I never thought would come down, until it did.